THE SHE-HULK – Part 3
Written by castor :: [Thursday, 31 March 2016 19:22] Last updated by :: [Friday, 06 May 2016 22:20]
9 Hour Since Last incident
“Good afternoon.” the functionary said as he walked in.
Jennifer had a good opportunity to look at him now: he was a mid-sized man, wearing a clean and crisp business suit, glasses and with off brown hair. He had a clipped British accent that sounded like it could be real or a good acting job. He looked, well, like a reasonable respectable man.
Perfectly nice. He had an actually good smile too.
If she wasn’t in her current condition – inside a plastic cage surrounded by 20 feet of empty space … What was the logic here?
She supposed there was some logic.
At least she had a little bench.
“Nice to see you again.” Jennifer said “I never got your name.”
“No.” he said “You didn’t. Do you want to know about where you are?”
“You're in a plastic cage that, considering your condition, you may think you can bust out of it – and I suppose you can. If you do this entire room will be filled with nerve gas, which perhaps will do nothing. However, it may slow you down, at which point you will be dropped out into the air 500 feet to the ground.”
“Oh!” she said “72 hours. You legally can’t hold me more than 72 hours. After that you have to bring me before a magistrate and declare me mentally incompetent – under some form of LTS conservatorship – I am not sure. Otherwise, you have 24 hours to bring me before a judge.”
The functionary looked at her.
“I have to stress that I am not deficient in any of the three categories of reasoning that you would require for LTS but – given my condition – you may think to …”
“You're a high risk to federal security.”
“Which do not preclude my rights under state and federal law.” Jennifer said “In law school I dealt with cases pro bono for Guantanamo Bay and they had to give them their day in federal court. So I am waiting for mine. I want to see all the exhibits and evidence that will be used against me.”
The functionary sighed.
“And can I get some lunch? I haven’t eaten for a while. I’m not sure this rig you have set up can really keep me in here, but I don’t want to try and test it, risking any kind legal response.”
The functionary shook his head: “We just wanted to talk.”
He walked out
“Well I just want to party.”
Jennifer paused and smiled. If she was going to be a super-powered, super-strong monster lady, the very least she could do was keeping her firmly formed, well developed sense of irony.
Mary McPherson was one of the wealthiest heiresses in the world, but her room didn’t have a TV in it. Instead, there was a small lounge where students could watch TV. As the more popular kids mingled in other corners that morning before class – they never made fun of her to her face, but she could almost hear the whispers – she sat with a cup of coffee and watched the morning news. Something she did quite often. She liked to pay attention to the world and not just live in an ivory tower.
Mary had a large interest in charity – both the personal (something she signed up as much as she could in the school) and financial type. Particularly with poverty. She had a slightly trust fund and donated much of it in aids. Though her parents were divorced, both planned to give her their fortune, which she wanted to use to fund these even more. Let the Roxxon money be used to help as much as possible to end global poverty.
If she couldn’t be a great beauty, she could be a great soul.
“In breaking news this morning from New York. Reports are of a giant green woman being involved in an apartment fire in the Park Slope Brooklyn. Reports are that the figure came in to assist the people trapped inside during a party …”
She watched as the news played.
“She was like this … like this gigantic hulking thing, man. She was like a girl Hulk … No that's sexist … a woman-hulk … No … how about a She-Hulk?”
Underneath, rolled a blurry footage of firefighters, aid workers and this woman. It was taken from a cellphone about 30 feet away at night.
But Mary watched it with awe and wonder.
She watched the figure.
And she wanted it. She wanted to be like that.
More than any other moment of her life she figured what she wanted. Thoughts of the world of suffering others endured took a back seat as she watched the figure walk out: proud, strong and so goddamn powerful. She was beauty in form and substance. Beauty that she could barely describe.
“Are you okay Mary?” Anne, a girl who knew her name, said.
“Uhm … yes …”
She shook her head. Why waste time on such thoughts? With the Anne staring at the idiotic girl. This was a fantasy. An amazing fantasy, but still fantasy.
“So, beyond anything else you have no idea where she is.” Roy said.
“No.” Hollway admitted as they sat in his large, tastefully decorated and – Roy thought – surprisingly modernistic office. People like him, he thought, should have big, tasteful wood and many models of ships, like his father had in his office.
“Doesn’t she have the right to an attorney?”
“Yes, but only if she's under some kind of arrest …”
“Which you don’t know” Roy sighed.
“We don’t know a lot at this time.” Hollway said “Frankly, this is very fantastic for a junior associate.”
“I don’t care if you fire her.” Roy said “Well, I do care, but that's not my business. I am willing to pay quite a bit of money, several small fortunes, to get her free. To get her back.”
“To get her back to human?” Holloway said “If what I heard …”
“One world at a time, lawyer.” Roy said “She's my friend and I am going to help her.”
Holloway sighed: “I can say that everyone at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway will do our absolute best but, at this moment, there seems to be very little we can do.”
“This is the government, isn’t it?”
“Sometimes, the government … everyone … find something they don’t understand, can’t figure out, and when that happens … things get dangerous.”
“We have 12 hours” Janet Carlson, the agent in charge of the facility, said “12 hours before the people upstairs want to ‘reassess the situation’.”
“Is this wise?” said Dr. Ed Brubaker.
“I want every test we can do discreetly, to figure out what's she doing and how she is doing?”
“Is this the proper strategy?” a figure walking in said.
The Black Widow walked into the room pacing slightly. She was wearing a surprisingly subdued business suit. She didn’t look anything special other than a beautiful woman, but everyone knew she was in charge.
“Me and my associate want to talk to her immediately.”
Dr. Carlson rolled her eyes “Are you going to try the soft sell?”
“Something like that.”
They had brought Jennifer … lunch. Was it lunch time? One of the problems of being in a windowless empty void it was hard to keep track of time. In any case, it appeared to be some kind of pasta dish with generic tomato sauce. As part of her research into prisons, she had actually ended up spending a little time on military bases, which spent millions and billions on equipment and procedures, but just scrimp on the basic stuff. Multimillions to keep her in prisons. 5 bucks for lunch.
Well, such is life. It wasn’t bad but a tad garlicky.
“Hello, Ms. Walters” said another voice.
It was a redheaded woman: 30s, pretty eyes. Walters had done a little bit more than … experimenting earlier in her life and had only stopped a year or so ago. Actually, she hadn’t even really stopped. She wrote a song about it, which right now she couldn’t remember. This was a fancy way of saying that Walters’s first impulse was that she was hot and she wanted to have sex with her.
She probably wouldn’t. Mind you, that was just the first thought.
This was happening quite a bit since this … whatever it was… came to be: her impulses for reproduction were going off a bit. The guys and – yes – girls she saw. Well, she was feeling a lot sexier and a lot more amorous. Such is life when your fun.
“Hi” Walters said “I’m liking the pasta.”
“I’m here to talk.” the figure said “My name is Natasha Romanov and I just want to talk.”
“Go ahead.” Jen said “Talking is very useful sometimes.”
Okay time to use the old impulses. This woman could get her what she wanted – which was freedom. Freedom was good. The question was: how to negotiate it out of her?
“I have read about what happens. So you …”
“Was sitting in my apartment playing the ukulele when I changed into this. Do you know what happened before?”
“This is becoming a habit.”
“You, being in government facilities.”
Damn! This woman was trying to manipulate her. Jennifer paused as she considered. This was a classic technique in order to gain empathy with a subject, going for their emotion of desire. She knew what Jennifer base goal was and that she could meet it – which was a good first step in negotiations.
“You want my help.” said Jennifer “You want … does the press have a name for me or do I get to do that?”
“She-Hulk.” said Romanov.
“Is that set in stone or do I get to come up with something less derivative?”
“Nothing's set, yet.”
Jennifer paused and considered: “Is there some universe spanning evil that you need me to fight?”
“Not really.” said Romanov “I’m sure there is, but you're not interested in that.”
“I’m a lawyer. If the S.H.I.E.L.D., or the Avengers, or the CIA wants legal help I am your woman. I can do some pro-bono work for them but, really, I am not the hero type.”
“Well, what I read about you was that your first act as a She-Hulk was to race into a burning building and save a dozen people. I am not sure how many of them would have died. But some. That was your first impulse. Did you hesitate then?”
Jennifer shook her head: “No. I didn’t.”
“I have faced Nazis, Gods, alien invasions but, you know, there are parts of me – sometimes a big part of me – that did hesitate … just the moment before. That felt fear pani, and all that. But not you.” Romanov said.
Jennifer paused. This was going well. This woman had a deep core of something noble in her that wanted to view her as a noble being. Well, give it to her. In chunks.
“There is someone who, at the very least, wants to talk to an attorney and can file a brief for my release. You said that the press has heard of me, which suggests She-Hulk is public knowledge and means that, unless you're spinning it. As I am some giant monster … you're going to …”
“Jennifer.” said a voice she recognized.
Jennifer turned her eyes to the door.
In it was Bruce Banner.
“Jennifer.” said Bruce
“Yes.” she replied.
“Jennifer.” said Bruce “Is that you? Do you respond to the name Jennifer?”
“As I stated yes.”
“Again, Mr. Banner, yes. Your powers of perception …”
“What's my favorite color?” Bruce asked.
“Purple” Jennifer said.
“I believe the answer you're looking for is blue.” Jennifer said.
“What's the best pizza joint in Cleveland?” Bruce asked.
“What’s … what’s the statute of limitation of contracts in New York state?”
“6 years. Oral and written.”
“I didn’t actually know that.” Bruce admitted “But … you’re conscious.”
“Why do people keep thinking I am not? I may look like this, but as far as I can tell, I’m still … well … me.”
“That’s … that's amazing. You're super-strong, super-fast, invulnerable, fireproof. All those … wow!”
“I am not. I am just an animal. 90 percent an animal. There’s a sense that my emotions can direct it, but not control it. I am a beast, but you … you're a miracle!”
“Well …” said Jennifer “Isn’t life a miracle?”
Natasha turned to them.
“Private joke.” he said “Jennifer this is …”
“But, like you, I still want to be turned back.”
Bruce paused for a second before nodding: “Huh. Well, I was looking at the readings of your earlier blood samples. There is no real way this could happen. Did you give them a blood sample?”
“No.” Jen said.
“Give them a blood sample. I want as many tests as I can. Just do it. Be nice for the lady. I want to figure this out … I want to …” he paused and shook his head “Please.”
Jen sighed: “I want to be treated like a human being”
Bruce sighed: “They’re going to release you in like 10 hours. The president ordered it. Bad press. They want you not to talk about here, but that’s the gist. “
Natasha turned to him.
“She told me on the plane.”
“Okay … I’ll play ball.”
“In the meantime … The hulk is anger. When I am no longer angry or too tired to keep going I just kind of turn back … you?”
Jen shook his head
“Try to sleep get some sleep. That’s what does it for me. When I get sleepy I turn back. That’s not rocket science or real medicine but …”
Bruce nodded and turned to walked out.
“This is amazing.” he paused “But I understand. I understand what you're going through … more than any other person in the world I know what it’s like.”
“I thought.” Jennifer said “That you specifically have no idea what this is like.”
An hour or so later Jennifer realized what had happened.
A female scientist had come in, given her a physical exam and took blood samples (from her mouth – it was the only way). Then she was – gently – taken to to a catscan and x ray, plus a fair number of physical tests. All it was done respectfully.
Practically speaking she didn’t have to submit to this. No one could force her physically and, if the president had ordered her released, she would soon be on the streets. But she did it anyway.
That Romanov lady had probably told Bruce to use his family connection to break it, to compel her to help them with this data they wanted. Beyond that …
Jennifer had to whistle a bit at it. That was sharp.
Afterward, they led her to a small bedroom with a small, nice looking bed.
“We would give you a sleep aid.” said the doctor “But we can’t be sure it would work.”
It had. After nearly 24 hours, Jennifer felt tired and went to uneasy dreams.
Bruce on the other hand was working hard. He had been given access to the lab, which proved interesting. At several points in his tenure as the incredible Hulk (trademarked by someone probably – was it him? maybe he should ask a lawyer) the government or some organization had played nice with him. It had ended at best amicably. Here he was again. With labs and equipment and people staring at him.
“So you're the monster.” a doctor named Brubacker said “I never thought I would meet you in person.”
“I wrote several papers on you for academic journals.” he continued “Which is why I am in.”
“Just don’t piss me off.” said Bruce “You won’t like me when I am pissed off. I get cranky.”
Bruce shook his head and looked at the data. For starters, her blood had, over the course of 48 hours, gone from somewhere in the middle of the pack to pretty close to his: a massive amount of radiations and self replicating gamma production.
His first thought was this was a natural course, but then he recalled that – right after the accident that created him – he had done blood work and the blood was like the Hulk’s. What had happened to him as the Hulk was probably pretty close to instant.
Well maybe this was different. Different chemicals? Estrogen slowing it down. Perhaps the Hulk's rage was caused by testosterone and the retaliative calm (how relative he didn’t know) was the result of something else.
He shook his head.
The shock that created him had been two parts – chemicals and radiations. Maybe she had gotten the chemical, but the radiation had accelerated it to something else. Something like this …
Yet, the radiation he had gotten had been the equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
He made a note of it, but shook his head. Where and how would that happen?
Dancy paused listening to the call
“We have confirmation that the new green monster woman is in fact your former attorney Jennifer Walters”
Dancy considered: “Well, this is almost expected.”
“After the attack at the restaurant she developed a unique blood serum. However her current form – according to the head scientist on the case, Mr. Banner – must be the result of a unexpected absorption of radiation. 5000 times the expected amount from background.”
Dancy considered and nodded. “I think” he said “I can explain that”
He considered some more. This did have possibility. “That’s very interesting.”
Jennifer was human again.
Weak and human again.
It was strange that the first she thought about it. How weak she was. Jennifer had, in fact, gotten a fair amount of power in the world. She was – as the expression goes – a high powered New York attorney. She had been told by several sources that she would have a strong possibility in government – as a senator, or a governor – if she played ball. The thought flattered her but, in any case, she was respected. She was wealthy too. She had power like that.
As she thought about it. It didn’t really make her happy.
She was 12. A small little girl in Ohio. She walked along the river in the suburban community. There were big willow trees by the side of the lake she watched them in the breeze.
Then she heard a noise: laughter.
She turned and saw three kids. Were they kids? She thought they were in high school, but her concept of time and age was a bit thin. They were bigger than she was in any case, big and laughing and, even from 50 yards away, she smelled the booze in their breaths.
They were kicking and beating. Kicking and beating.
She saw who they were hurting: it was Frankie. She … he was it? It was a transvestite, who Jen had seen about in town, walking around in a silly dress here and there. She looked at him/her and watched them.
She thought about what to do. She thought about what to do for perhaps longer than she thought.
What she did was running. She ran to the police station, but found a police car on the way.
She told the nice cop about it and he came with her to the bank, to see Frankie badly beaten and the three kids. Two of them ran. The cop caught the last one though and he ratted out the others.
They went to trial and Jennifer in her best dressed testified.
They all went to jail, but afterward people would look at her differently.
Still, Jennifer felt good about it at the time. She had made the right choice and getting the cops of helping the system.
It had made her she realize she wanted to work in law to help since … well … she was just a small … weak … human girl.
The She-Hulk could have grabbed those bullies and brought them right to jail and Frankie wouldn’t have those scars on her face.
It made her smash her fist in anger that she was human again.
Bruce heard – or rather felt – the crashing noise.
“Uhm” Brubacker said.
“Where is she?” Bruce got up from his chair.
He turned to see Natasha running down the hall with a bunch of armed men.
“Can the ship take it?” Bruce asked.
“Yeah, for a good while, but …”
The men got their guns
“You guys! Just stop just stop! We need to …”
“… reason with her.”
Bruce got to Jennifer door. He opened it just to see that there was a large hole where the room was.
“Oh boy …”
He looked down to what appeared to be a hanger for an airplane.
He was a superhero he would …
Natasha jumped down on the tarmac below, next to a thrashing Jennifer. She walked up to her the sleeping giant and calmly slapped her.
“Snap out of it” she said with force
This did something. Jennifer eyes opened
“What …” she said “What happened?”
“You had a bad dream.” Natasha said “Or your great dreams are pretty bad.”
“What happened? What's happening to me?”
She looked up and saw Bruce in the doorway.
“You! You did this to me!”
Jennifer got up in a huff.
“You made me this … thing … this monster you …”
Jennifer paused, grabed Bruce and pulled him down with a leap that would impress Jordan.
“OUFF.” Bruce said.
“You made me into this! Just sleeping … it does … it does … I am still here. I am still here and I don’t know … I don’t know …” she sobbed.
Bruce was being held by the scruff of his neck
“Can you put me down?”
“Will you admit you’re a pathetic piece of …”
Bruce sighed and closed his eyes.
“Do you really want to do this?” Bruce asked “Because we can do this. You know, the fight to see who wins thing. You're about 30 seconds from making him appear and when you do …”
Jennifer paused: “That’s pretty stupid.”
She let go.
“Points the fact, we were on a giant airplane and fighting might endanger the lives of hundreds.” Natasha added.
“Okay. Stop it!” Jen sighed “Stop it!”
She sat on the ground losing all energy.
“I went to sleep a little princess and, when I woke up, here I was. Even if you let me out … let me on to the street … it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really matter. I am just this big green goon. Do you know how to stop it? How to save me?”
Bruce paused: “It’s emotion, it’s rage, it’s anger … except for you. No, like I said: people think turning into things is incredible … but for you …”
“It’s turning back” Jen said.
He met in his lab with his Roxxon scientists. He didn’t know their names but it didn’t matter.
“If what you say is true, than this has great effect.” one said.
“We just have to replicate it.” another said.
“We have access to the government data thanks to our source.” a third said.
“We can have an army of them.” the first continued “We would need to work on control … but I can see the potential.”
Dancy smiled: “Through some black market sources I found the work of Dr. Samuel Sterns – who experimented on the Hulk as well. It was made available, so let see what we can do. We certainly have something to work with here.”
He turned. He had brought the crown in and looked at it.
He put it on on his head.
He had worried that it would turn him into a monster, perhaps like the thing.
Instead … well, instead it just made him felt like he was wearing a crown.
Which, he had to admit, gave him a certain sense of power, didn’t it?