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Power of the Hulk
|Brandon arrived outside the base forty five minutes later. His trip
had been uneventful. Well, it was uneventful after he figured out how
to land without falling over, crushing parked cars or ripping through
trees. It was nothing his powerful body couldn't handle, although the
cars and the trees weren't so lucky.
Brandon didn't know what to expect at the base. The guard thought he was nuts when he tried to walk in. He could easily overpower the man, but decided that might call too much attention to himself, as if a half-naked bodybuilder wasn't bad enough.
He walked around to a deserted area, then jumped straight up. From the air, he could see one building that looked especially fortified. It was a place to start. He leapt again, going high then coming down right in front of the entrance. No alarms. No screams. No one had seen him.
The door was locked. He twisted the knob, his forearms bulging as thick fibers of muscle and veins pushed against paper-thin skin. Brandon felt metal break. The door opened. It looked like a vault, about 3 inches of reenforced steel. Whatever was in the building, someone was trying to keep intruders out, or maybe something in.
Brandon walked through a darkened corridor, then came upon an elevator. It opened when he got there. He walked in. The doors shut, and the elevator began to fall. For a good ninety-seconds he descended. Brandon was about to take action, maybe punch through the walls and stop the elevator or leap straight up to escape, he hadn't yet decided, when the elevator slowed. The doors slid open, and he saw another corridor. He walked down it. As he neared the end, he perceived a large room. In the center of the room, a person was seated. Brandon walked in. It was a skinny guy, shirtless. His pants were ripped. His arms and legs were bound by metal braces. They reminded him of the braces he had helped put on the Hulk last night. His head was bent down on his chest, like he was asleep. Brandon approached the man.
As he got close, the man stirred. He looked up. He was unshaven. His chest was flat, and his stomach had no definition. His upper arms couldn't have been more than fourteen inches around. Brandon wondered why all the precautions.
"They know you're here," the man said.
"Guess they think they owe you, after last night. Come to gloat?"
Brandon looked at him. "You're the Hulk?"
"When I want to be." The man looked Brandon over. "I don't deserve this, you know. I didn't kill him."
"I don't know anything about that," said Brandon. "And no, I didn't come to gloat. I, well, I guess I owe you an apology. You said there was a bigger guy. I didn't believe you, but then... he's after me. "
The seated man looked uninterested.
"I was hoping you'd help," Brandon said, looking a little uncomfortable.
The seated man started to laugh. It was a chuckle at first, then a full belly laugh.
Brandon got more uncomfortable. That was not a reaction he expected.
"You're a funny kid," the man said. "Does it look like I'm in any position to help anyone?"
"But you're the Hulk!"
"Kid, these shackles, they're specially developed. They channel my strength back into it. The harder I pull, the harder they resist. A technologically efficient chinese handcuff."
Brandon looked at him, and thought. "Look, I'm sorry. I saw the dorm, saw you, and it was my chance. Your strength. Your power. I've always wanted it."
"How Samson," the man said dismissively.
"Scott, he's the bigger guy, he and I had always fantasized about becoming big and super strong, then taking you on to test our strength. I saw the opportunity."
"So did he. He used a device I had created to defeat Blonsky. He made me come to him." The seated man looked at Brandon. "My name's David. David Banner."
"Brandon. Mister Banner, maybe I can help you."
"Shut up, kid. They're listening." Banner looked up.
On the ceiling, Brandon saw what appeared to be microphones and cameras. He reacted, jumping and knocking them out with a single punch of his fist. Sparks flashed as powerlines shorted out.
"Will that do it?" Brandon asked.
"For a few minutes, til they come. We have to speak fast."
"You said Scott used a device you created. Could he have used something else of yours to get so strong?" Brandon asked.
"Nothing I created could do that," admitted Banner. "The Hulk was born by accident. I was exposed to gamma rays, and they changed me. Emil Blonsky, the thing they now call the Abomination, he was created the same way. He got more than twice the dose of radiation I got, and it nearly killed him. You can see how badly he's mutated. He's barely human." Banner thought. "What's the source of your strength?" he asked.
"I discovered something. I have a genetic mutation. There's a sequence of DNA that effects my muscles. I found a chemical that binds to that DNA and acts like a battery. It supercharges my muscles. The more of the chemical I take, the more it makes my muscles grow. Not just grow, become denser and stronger. It has other advantages. I don't get sick anymore, and I heal very fast."
Banner looked at him questioningly. "After I became the Hulk, I did some research and found the same thing with my genetics. However, instead of chemicals, the gamma rays were powering the change. The same was true for Blonsky, except the overdose began to mutate the genes. That's why it's unstable. If your friend..."
"He's not my friend," interrupted Brandon. "He sent Abomination after me and nearly killed me. He's so fucking strong, too."
"Well, his eyes. They were green, like the Hulk's. If he had found a way to remove the harmful effects of the radiation," Banner paused, "maybe, just maybe, that might explain his strength."
"Can you help?"
In the distance, they heard the sound of the elevator moving.
"They'll be here soon. Quick, I can't do it but you can. Damage these on the outside. Just squeeze them a bit -- weaken the metal and break the electronics. You should feel when it happens."
Brandon moved to the shackles binding Banner's arms. He squeezed. His grip tightened, arm and chest muscles flexing. Nothing happened. He squeezed harder. His arms began to shake, then he felt it. A slight crack had formed in the metal. Brandon moved to the leg shackles and did the same.
"Man, no wonder the Hulk had problems with you. I've never seen such development," Banner said.
"Thanks," said Brandon making a bicep and rubbing it with his other hand. "I've always wanted big strong muscles, like," Brandon looked at Banner, "like the Hulks."
They heard the elevator door open and the sound of feet.
"Quickly," Banner said. "There's another exit over there. I'll wait for my chance, then I'll make my break. Go. Get out of here. I'll come to the university when I get free."
"I'll be looking for you," Brandon said as he made his way to the other exit. There was no elevator, just a shaft. No problem for Brandon. He knelt down, flexing his powerful legs and leapt straight up. He got away and returned to the university to wait.
Scott spent the next day working on the gamma ray generator. Equations that had taken months for him to derive began to make perfect sense to him. Midday, he realized he was solving in the blink of an eye partial differential equations that would take computers months. Then it hit him.
"The gamma rays!" Scott had read about Samuel Sterns, who called himself The Leader. Gamma rays hadn't accelerated his strength, it had changed his mind. The same thing had happened to him. "No wonder I have no problems with my strength. My mind is a super computer. I've been calculating trajectories and force and everything else without even realizing it."
Scott thought about tonight's experiment. In his mind, he ran simulations, calculating doses of radiation and their effect on Blonsky's genetic structure. "No problem. This is cake!" He made the final changes to the machine, then went to a supply cabinet and got a bucket. He placed it next to where Blonsky would stand.
Abomination arrived outside just after sunset. Scott was waiting in his skinny form, and it took Blonsky a second to recognize him.
"Like Banner, I see," he said.
"The lab is too small for my new size," said Scott. Abomination followed him into the basement. "Here it is," said Scott, pointing to a row of lockers. He took off his shirt, and willed himself to Hulk-level strength. "This more to your expectations?" he said as he easily pushed the lockers out of the way. "Or should I get stronger? You know, strong enough to crush you like a bug." Scott hit a crab pose and inflated his muscles a bit, displaying inhumanly ripped muscle and vascularity.
"We're here to make me stronger, not you," said Blonsky, climbing through the hole. "What do I need to do?"
"Trust me. The procedure has two parts. First, I need to undo the damage the first overdose did. Then I can return your full strength to you," Scott explained. "Everything is set up. Just stand over there," Scott pointed.
Scott turned on a radio. "... is WRST, the worst station at the bottom of the dial serving State Tech. And now..." the station began to play some electronic-sounding music.
Blonsky walked over. When he was in position, Scott activated the sequence. The gamma generated began to hum. Scott began to count down, "Ten, nine... one". A blast hit Blonsky.
"I feel..." Blonsky began to change. The bumps on his skull decreased and his skull took on a more normal, more human, shape. His webbed ears receded. His skin became less scaley. "... weak," finished Blonsky. He was smaller, slightly over six feet. His arms were noticeably thinner, as were his legs. His pecs were deflating and his abs becoming smooth. His back was no longer thick, and didn't push his arms from his sides. The spandex shorts became lose, and he had to grab them so they didn't fall. His stomach began to round and become distended. In seconds, Blonsky was no longer a green monster, but a middle-aged man with little muscle tone and no strength. His hair was thin, his chest was small and sagged, his arms and legs thin. "What have you done!" cried Blonsky. Then, he turned and saw the bucket. He grabbed it and began to throw up. He puked up a luminous green bile. He vomitted for a good minute, filling up the bucket. It smelled vile, like a decayed animal that had rotted in the sun for too long.
"Trust me, Emil. I needed to reverse the process that created Abomination. What you are expelling is the after effects of your mutation," Scott explained.
Blonsky looked at him, tears running down his face.
"Three, two, one," Scott said. A second beam pulsed from the generator, hitting Blonsky.
"What!" he cried as the change began. His saggy pecs became firm and his arms became lean pipes of muscle. His legs filled out, and his stomach flattened as eight bulges emerged. "Yes! I'm changing. I feel strong again!" Blonsky flexed and watched as his muscle inflated with power. Blonsky's voice deepened. "The power. More!" His skin tightened around his growing body. He looked younger, and the hair on his head began to fill in and lighten. As his chest expanded into one any bodybuilder would be proud of, a fine growth of blonde hair appeared. His thick arms and legs also sprouted hair. As he grew to Hulk dimensions, he bounced his pecs. Like Scott, his skin remained unchanged, though slightly tanned. Blonsky grew to six foot eleven, and a massive seventeen hundred pounds of super strong muscle. He felt a tinge of pain as the machine shut off.
"Done," said Scott. "That's all the power your body can handle. It's about two and half times as strong as you were before."
Blonsky ran his hands over his hairy chest and flexed his arms. The head of the bicep was clearly defined and the round tricep hung low. There was a dimple where the bicep indented into bone. His forearms were bowling pin shaped, pushing into his upper arm near the elbow and thinning to his wrist. His bicep was a mountain peak that rose high above a rounded plain of his three-headed deltoid. His traps rose high into his thick neck. Basketball shaped pecs cantilevered above a ripped thin waist. His legs were thicker than most men's stomachs, and were anatomy charts of muscular definition.
"You look to be about nineteen or twenty. Hope you don't mind that side effect. Oh, and if you haven't noticed, you're packing a pretty big basket in those shorts. All part of the treatment."
Blonsky shook his head in agreement. "I'm not a monster."
"No," said Scott. "In fact, you're quite handsome now."
The music that had been playing from the radio suddenly stopped. "Sorry to interrupt," said the announcer, "but campus police advise that the Hulk has escaped and has been seen approaching campus. Students are advised to stay..." Scott turned off the radio.
"Good," said Blonsky. "Time for my revenge." He and Scott climbed out of the secret lab and Scott pushed the lockers in front. They left the basement.
Out of a dark corner, Brandon appeared. "So that's your little secret, eh Scotty?" Brandon smiled.
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