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Location: Belize City, Belize
A Green God, A Green Devil – 1.04

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 1.03

Shoved to the floor of the brig, Bruce coughed out in pain as he rolled over. The soreness at the beating he’d received earlier had already begun to fade, but it’s not as though it made this treatment any better. Door slamming shut, he was left to his own, another door closing moments later.

Opening his eyes with a groan, Bruce saw no difference. Sharply taking in breath, he tried to sit up, managing to find some kind of balance in the dark. “HEY!” he bellowed. When no response came, another cry came out, this one far weaker. “Don’t leave me here!” Breath coming on harder and faster, he couldn’t perceive much. With virtually no sight in the blackness, the slight movement of the boat in the water starting to make him nauseous without a visual point of reference to fixate on. Sounds from outside were distorted from the layers of metal separating him from the outside.

He hadn’t expected to be taken back like this. Even though there were so many differences, the darkness alone put him in the same frame of mind he’d been trying to escape for twenty years. Bending down and pressing his forehead to the metal floor, as if the cool surface might calm his rising temperatures or rapid breathing, in his closed eyes he saw that crack in the floor, where Brian had removed the boards. A blue bucket and dark green extension cord might seem innocuous enough on their own, but whenever Bruce was being punished, and Brian chose not to get physical, he would make Bruce sit in the bucket. Then, with the cable, he’d be lowered down. Bruce didn’t even know what the room was, or what was really down there. Was it an old basement? A cave? Brian most likely didn’t know either. But it was dark. After lowering him down, Brian would cover the entrance, Bruce stuck in that hole for who knew how long. All he could ever think to do was stay in that bucket and pray. His only link back to his house was the extension cord, not strong near enough to hold his weight. Next to his fantasies of climbing out to escape were those in which thay spider’s thread might fall, or snap, trapping him down there forever. Trapped with nothing...or everything. Whether they were auditory hallucinations or rodents skittering in the distance, unknowable noises haunted him. Odd shapes would form in the darkness: maybe it was phosphenes tracing patterns for him as he shut his eyes to keep out the dark, or the dark coming to greet him.

Although here he could move, Bruce still felt trapped in that bucket, curling up into a ball. Sweat beaded on his forehead, his breath rattled, every gasp he took failing to supply him with enough air. Even though he knew full well who put him here, just this slight similarity brought Brian back to his thoughts. He was gone, Bruce believed. He remembered little of that night after the transformation, but no one survives a drop from 20 stories. And yet, even though he knew that, Brian was here, in Bruce’s mind, in the dark with him. No, more than that: his palms formed the walls, the fingers, bars.

His life here in Belize had been simple, free. As he teacher he focused his efforts on a makeshift curriculum, as a laborer he did simple (if backbreaking) work. The menial work demanded so much of his focus that when he thought back to home he primarily thought of Betty, sometimes other former coworkers or friends like Rick, at worst the likes of General Ross, but with Brian gone he didn’t need to think about him any more. He thought the ghost had been beaten back, but he’d been here the whole time, waiting.

And Bruce wasn’t strong enough. The green spider’s thread dangled, and Bruce didn’t believe it could hold his own weight, nor did he think it could lead to salvation. Perhaps pulling on that thread might bring everything tumbling down, crushing himself and all that he cared about. But if he stayed in the dark, it would only be himself that was crushed.

In the darkness, another moved.

If Bruce would not grab that thread, then the Hulk would.

-----


Bullets hailed against the police car doors. Red and white lights lit up the area, an under-equipped police force held back by rifle fire from the ripped open warehouse.

“One hour!” called one of Jagger’s men. With a light sigh, he admitted it was a better time then he could have hoped for considering the short notice and length of sea in between here and their nearest outpost. Loading everything up onto that boat would be a cinch with Reg, and with the Belize police only equipped with pistols, they could be held back for the time being. If they called in bigger guns it could become a problem, but one rush with Reg and their efforts would be put back squarely. The rocket launcher would be kept in his back pocket for now. Firing his rifle again, Jagger’s thought process was interrupted by the wrenching of metal from behind him. Straightening up, her turned to see the boat lurching from within, jerking in one direction, then another. A rare expression of bewilderment briefly crossing his face, he wisely ran from the front entrance, heading towards the stairs to his office. The gunfire settled, in and out, the noise drawing attention before the Hulk burst from below the deck, landing on the ship before jumping to solid ground, grabbing one of the cartel members and throwing him into the nearest hard surface.

“Reg! Crush him!” Jagger ordered. Tilting his oddly shaped head to the side, Reg’s neck made a crack before his buckled legs skittered the Hulks way, long arms reaching for him, the man eager to put his strength to the ultimate test. Fist launching, smacking into the Hulk’s face, he recoiled from the blow before snarling. The Hulk went to grab with both of his arms, Reg meeting him, their hands meeting one another as they grappled, fingers interlocking as the tried to push the other back. Feet digging into the ground, the Hulk bent his wrists forward, forcing Reg’s back, the Venom laced beast starting to shrink under the mass of the Hulk.

Brain had once seemed like a massive monster to Bruce. If the Hulk had been there to be the bigger monster, then things might have been different. But Brian wasn’t here. In fact, neither was Bruce, not having the control he’d had before, not this time. And to the Hulk, Reg, standing in front of him now, was but a tiny man.

Gritting his teeth, the Hulk let out a roar, straightening out his back before driving his weight down on Reg’s wrists. Those bulky arms resisted, but the knobbly knees couldn’t take it. The skin on Reg’s shins split open like a ziploc bag, revealing muscle underneath. Reg cried out in pain. His ankles snapped, and he collapsed under the Hulk, legs crumpling as he was reduced to a whimpering mass of drug and muscle. Turning away, a smirk came to the Hulk’s face, the behemoth muttering, “Leg day.”

The condescending smile was stricken from his face with a call from above. “Look me in the eyes while you die,” Jagger demanded, brandishing his rocket. The Hulk was not amused. Jagger had begun to perspire. It was out of character for him, but after watching his power gradually be picked apart by this Hulk, his heart pounded in excitement as he faced down that green storm, that force of nature. Practically leaning out the window of his office, knee braced against the low wall, he pulled the trigger, firing into the hurricane.

Though Jagger was a smart man, he didn’t necessarily have all the experience. He knew about the backblast, the force desecrating the office behind him as he fired. But had he actually fired the rocket launcher before, he would have known that the accelerator only kicks off after ten to eleven meters of airtime. The Hulk had only been about 7 meters away when he fired. The rocket bounced off his flesh, a confused Hulk casually grabbing the explosive out of the air out of sheer reflex. Expression bemused, the rocket activated, the Hulk’s hand jerking as it tried to escape, but ultimately keeping firm. Jagger’s expression was blank as the Hulk looked back at him, pulling his arm before returning the gift. The rocket once again didn’t have enough force to explode on impact, bouncing around the office like a bar of soap in a bathtub. As the metal ricocheted, a cocktail of emotions surged, the dam bursting open. Shame, regret, panic, dread, and above all, anger at the fool who thought he could stop the storm on his own power.

The Hulk didn’t even bother to look, heading towards the entrance of the warehouse once he’d tossed the rocket. The explosion behind him didn’t even turn his head. The remaining cartel members had given up, their spirits taken with the extend of their power. Standing over the local law enforcement, they merely watched on. The Hulk ignored them, looking to the sky, the edge of the horizon beginning to glisten with dawnlight. Feet springing into action, Bruce was gone for now, back where he always was. But Hulk knew what they both wanted. Not dark, but the light. And with the light as his guide, the Hulk moved north, where they might one day stand in the sun.

Location: Belize City, Belize
A Green God, A Green Devil – 1.03

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 1.02

The Hulk had never really been calm before. Not that Bruce remembered many of the times he’d been the Hulk.

Of course, it hadn’t helped. The already panicked kids reaching the top deck of the boat maybe would have reacted better had there not been a giant green monster there to greet them. Hulk’s arms were casually by his side, his expression, neutral, at least until he was met with an expected scream of shock. The Hulk shook his head lightly, before reaching out a hand, motioning for them to come over. As more started to surface, the initial shock passing, Hulk began to help them across the gap one by one. Grasping his hand, they were easily be able to clear the gap, Hulk pointing for them to leave. A few strange thumping noises from the ship’s innards didn’t leave room for much room to question anything. Once things seemed to be clear, Hulk reached one hand down to the lip of the ship, yanking it up. There was some noise from below, but as long as it wasn’t screaming children, Hulk didn’t care. Snorting, he stood tall, turning back to the apparent leader, and letting out a roar, sound bouncing throughout the ruined warehouse. Raising his fists, he smashed them both against the boat, crumpling the metal. Fingers tearing in, he pulled it close, yanking at the deck, chunks being ripped out before he grew tired of it, kicking it away where it crashed into the opposite wall, rocking lopsidedly as the warped metal’s center of balance was knocked out of alignment.

The only thing left behind a bunch of helpless cartel members, Hulk’s work here was done. Storming off towards the exit he didn’t even look back. As he reached the entrance, Jagger pulled a case out from behind his desk in the room above, unclasping it with a quick code, pulling out a rocket launcher, casually loading it and heading to the door. His subordinate gawked. “Why didn’t you shoot him before he fucked our stuff!?”

“Because I didn’t want to fuck our stuff myself. I haven’t fired this yet.” Jagger shook his head as he took to the door, heading down the stairs. So hard to find good help these days. Nodding his head to the boat, taking on water, he said, “Make sure everyone gets off of there, especially Reg, and call for the nearest boat to get here asap.” Looking over to a man who’d been hiding, he said, “And you! Wake up anyone you can! Cops are going to be here any minute!” As they went into action, Jagger didn’t hold any ill will. He’d more or less knew how people were going to act and react before they did. For example, a big angry monster walking away from a successful mission was likely to have its guard down.

Eyeing the Hulk through the ripped open entryway, leveling the rocket launcher his way, Jagger got to see something rare. While a big monster coming in to ruin his day had already been outside of his expectations, he also didn’t expect it to be on its knees just outside, breathing heavily. No, it was more than that, it was shrinking.

Bruce really should have seen it coming. The Hulk’s grip fading from his mind as his own hands met the pavement, he was learning new things every day, though he might have preferred some better timing. That freedom and release from becoming the Hulk was now shifting to the reality of it, the consequences, the fear. Should law enforcement come for him he might be pushed to defend himself. If General Ross still had his deep hatred of him then US military action was well within the realm of possibility. The best bet he had was to run for now. He knew where he wanted to be, and as nice as Belize was, it wasn’t for him.

A boot to the back of his head kept him from moving too far though. Bare body pressed against the pavement, Bruce grunted and tried to struggle. “Transform back.” The voice was soft, possessing curiosity with no ill will whatsoever.

Bruce tried. He bit his tongue until he bled, cried out in pain as he tried to work up his anger. But it wouldn’t come out. “Damn shame,” Jagger sighed.

-----

Minutes later, Bruce had been dragged right back into the warehouse. Handcuffs kept his arms at bay as two men dragged him to the center of the warehouse, pushing him to his knees. Looking up, Bruce was more than taken aback at the sight of ‘Reg’. Comparable in size to the Hulk, his proportions were all wrong. A black tank top was stretched across bulging muscles, swollen deltoid muscless the size of watermelons and the shoulder tapering off into a rather typically sized wrist by the end of the arm. The large upper body left the legs, clad in cameo patterned cargo shorts, looking rather small, some large thigh muscles on otherwise less bulky legs not lending good support, bent knees restricting how imposing the brute looked. The face was even worse off, bald, misshapen, with sunken, beady yellow eyes glaring at Bruce.

“What brought you here? Was it really just the kids?” Jagger asked. Bruce was pulled about to face him, the leader still brandishing the rocket launcher on his shoulder.

Bruce coughed, admitting, “Yeah.”

“Well you’re in luck. We only took them in for research. I deal in Venom, you see. You know what Venom is?” Bruce shook his head. “It’s a drug made famous in Gotham City. Hard to synthesize though, I’ve been doing my best here in these parts, trying to get closer to the real thing.” He nodded towards the big brute. “Reg here overdosed on the real thing. Ours isn’t at the level, but it’s close enough to ease his withdrawals. And the better we make our formula, the longer we can pass it off as the real thing. So I’ve been taking up human trafficking these last few months for test subjects. But then, you showed up.”

Bruce glared. His fists were clenched. He lingered on his words, trying to find the one that would send him into a fury, the one that would bring the Hulk back. “I don’t know what the hell you are, if you’re some mutant or lab experiment gone wrong, but I’m sure you’ll have plenty to offer to our cause. If we can get cleaner musculature with more balanced form then I’ll trade a thousand kids for you.”

Bruce let out a laugh. It wasn’t warm or mirthful, it was forced, harsh, biting. “That’s what this is about?” Nodding his head toward Reg, he chortled, “You’re going to experiment on me because your big guy over there skipped leg day?” Bruce’s joke didn’t go over well, no one seemed to understand what he was implying. Shakily, Bruce started to walk, going for a gap in between cartel members. The resisted, pushing him back. “What are you gonna do? Shoot me?” Bruce scoffed, before going for it again. He was met with a fist in the gut. Taking it all, Bruce lunged, teeth catching the thug’s ear. Biting down, he got a yelp, before shoving him with his shoulder and continuing to go for it. For his trouble he got a rifle butt to the head. Spots flitting by his eyes, he dropped to his knees, where he got a kick to the face. Falling to the ground, he was completely open, the whole gang going in on ruining him, stomping and kicking him until he stopped moving. Bruce tried to fight it, tried to let that pain get his anger flowing.

But he just couldn’t. Every time it bubbled, it was quelled just as quickly. With every strike, he was beaten down by fear and helplessness, even though he knew full well he had the potential to be anything but.

Black and blue rather than purple and green, the gang pulled away from Bruce, who was left a groaning wreck. Finally discarding his patience, Jagger roared, “QUIET!” with one last kick, he silenced Bruce. Taking a slow breath, he ordered, “Put him on the ship. If it sinks with him on it, it’s his fault.” Shaking his head, Jagger went back to his office, hoping to enjoy even a moment of peace.

Location: Belize City, Belize
A Green God, A Green Devil – 1.02

Interaction(s): None
Previously: 1.01

“They’re not my kids,” admitted a bulky man wearing only shorts and a loose, open shirt.

His partner in guard duty, resting by the door in a folding chair with an AK at his side, couldn’t hide a light grimace and roll of his eyes. Slouching down, he reached a lanky arm to scratch an itch on his back that didn’t want to go away. Trying to keep his mind of things, Arnold pulled a phone out of his cargo pants, skimming through a mess of apps in search of a time waster, something to keep his mind off things.

Hearing some slur or curse word echo out from behind him, Arnold turned his head. Newer to the group, having come around from El Salvador, he hadn’t fully acclimated to the norm. Looking out from the entryway, he saw the moored ‘Indignation’, their shipping vessel, and the stretches of warehouse around it dedicated to either storage (a crane bolted firmly in the ground propped nearby), or production, makeshift rooms with walls of translucent plastic letting off fumes of god knows what the chemists were working on. The voice actually seemed to come from the catwalks above, a few men patrolling, except two who were in each other’s face, the prior insult having developed into a budding fistfight. Another voice called out, the two looking over to the room mounted to the corner of the rooftop ceiling, seeing their employer in its open window, before reluctantly separating.

Arnold didn’t care for the work, but it paid well and it was easy. People were smart enough not to fuck with any kind of cartel usually, and between pilot and navigator, they could avoid any patrols and generally keep out of danger on the open sea. Considering how various local families benefited with members in other regions working for their sake, the area was pretty quiet and generally overlooked, and many of there spots elsewhere were no different. Considering the poison, or whatever it was, that got made and passed around to allied or unaffiliated crime groups for use in warfare, Arnold generally didn’t feel too bad about what they did, even though he knew it wasn’t right. But that was before today, when their boss ordered an abduction. Children, innocent children. Swallowing, he shook his head and went back to his phone. If he thought any more about it, his anger would bubble, but he knew it couldn’t go anywhere, else he’d be shot dead and left as fish food in the middle of the ocean.

As if to purposely pull his attention away, there was a rapping on the door. Two knocks, the fist requesting a welcome. Arnold looked to his shift partner, just as confused, before the two stood, grabbing their rifles. It wasn’t their usual procedure, and they hadn’t gotten word from any lookouts over their walkies yet.

“What the fuck is that by the door?” crackled the devices scattered around the warehouse. Arnold took it back. Look to his partner, they flanked the side door, the larger shutter nearby rusted closed and in no need of use. Reaching his hand for the door, Arnold gently twisted it.

The world came down around him. With a crash, the sheet metal walls and the door separating them from the outside crumbled down, flattening the two guards. The force dislodged dust untouched in years, debris partly obscuring a massive form as it shuffled in carelessly. Standing tall, the Hulk’s disgruntled gaze elicited grunts of surprise. But the Hulk did not turn his attention on them, they were bugs. Rifle fire raining down, the Hulk winced at the noise as he walked, unfettered. Occasionally a hand would brush away at an itchy spot that had recently met several bullets that had been traveling at 700 meters per second (only to stop dead, bouncing off his skin like it was a BB gun against tires). Mosquitoes were more dangerous to men in comparison, but unlike these gunners, mosquitoes were quiet.

That made Hulk mad.

Looking to a gun poking out of the plastic wrapped lab, Hulk reached in and yanked a screaming man out. Tossing him up and catching him again like he was a baseball, he turned to the catwalks. Pulling his arm back, he sent the man flying. He crashed into the railing, made of reclaimed scrap as it was, and shook the whole walkway. The two gunners behind the railing were knocked back as their shielding buckled and broke, the man shaped projectile knocking them down. Rocking back and forth, weak ties shattered, bolts knocking loose, the walkway they were on spilled them off unceremoniously. As the walkway hung, dangling above the ground, its former occupants lay on the floor, broken.

The rest of the warehouse had gone quiet, those remaining too starstruck to think about retaliating. Only one of them was capable of looking on without shock or distress. Those kind of things were alien to Jagger. Casually sitting in his office, one hand loosening the collar of his cheap dress shirt and briefly adjusting a gold chain, he merely watched as the Hulk moved about, ripping open the lab and kicking down tables of valuable equipment and product as if searching for something. Jagger looked to his right hand, the man expressing what he recognized to be bewilderment, fear, and anger. Jagger knew it wasn’t the time to put on any of those masks: he was calm, he liked being calm, and if there was a time for calmness, this was it.

“He wants the kids.” Jagger knew. The Hulk wasn’t a user, that was for sure. The musculature was too clean, refined. Even true Venom had a tinge of the aberrant in those utilizing it, let alone Jagger’s knock off. But there was an appeal to that. Looking down at the boat, still docked, unnoticed by the Hulk, he saw a few heads poking out, trying to get a bearing on things. Before any more violence broke out, Jagger spoke into his walkie, “Let the kids go.” A moment past, the Hulk looking around at the walkies echoing his voice, before he turned his gaze on him, standing by his window. “Just spook them a little first.”

The Hulk bared his teeth, moments before gunfire echoed from the boat, followed by children screaming in terror. The Hulk looked on, feet shuffling as he went to move into action, but hesitation reeled him in. Daring just a bit, he placed one foot on the boat, his weight shifting the whole thing, more cries of shock coming out. He retreated back a step, before a green eye glared up at Jagger, the boss feeling an uncharacteristic chill tingled in his neck. One he’d only felt twice before. Once was first time he stared down the barrel of a gun as a child, a brief feeling that went away the follow minute while he was beating the teen’s face in with a pipe. The second was when he watched Hurricane Iris rip the world around him apart, the one time in his life he felt truly helpless. And so Jagger smiled, letting the beat of his heart overcome that chill. He was deeply looking forward to the chance to bring this monster to his knees.

Location: Belize City, Belize
A Green God, A Green Devil – 1.01

Interaction(s): None
Previously: N/A

Cough cough HAGCK

Spray of spit and foam splattering in the sink, Bruce caught his breath, rinsing his mouth out before cleaning off his toothbrush. Wetting down his hands, he wiped at the freshly trimmed stubble remaining on his face. Looking around, he pulled out a razor and a can of shaving cream, pressing down on the nozzle only for it to sputter and die. Shaking his head, he went without. Putting on a pair of light purple shorts, flip flops, a plain button up blue shirt, and a wide panama hat over his mess of brown hair, a pair of hazel eyes lidded, he stepped out of the bathroom into the bedroom. If you could call it a room: it was less a room and more of a storage space for a small, rickety bed and worn down dresser that took up 60% of the floor space, the rest of it walkable in two steps. Those two steps took him to the kitchen and entryway, making up the rest of the house, the floor dingy and worn but not dirty. Most of the light came from the windows, the room becoming brighter as Bruce pulled open the door, grabbing his bike (kept stored inside for safety), and locking up before heading out.

Even in the early morning, the humid sea air and blazing sun of Belize was rough, but nothing Bruce was uncomfortable with. His skin was quite tanned: the pasty lab nerd practically a different person. His routine of biking around this district of the city with its many long paths, along with occasional labor to make ends meet, had given him a little meat on his skinny bones. Though his face was relatively clean now, in the slightly cooler months he liked to sport a beard. Stepping out into the sun, he descended a short stairwell to the ground level, looking out to the rows of small, dingy abodes, none of them older than a few years due to one hurricane or another.

Destroyed and rebuilt. That’s where Bruce was, getting down to it. He was ‘Benny’ now, a down on his luck American currently in Belize City, making it by through helping people out with odd jobs thanks to various skills and expertise, and through various handouts and favors he received from the grateful locals who supported the twice a week English classes he did for free (though he just as often taught so much else). Benny never asked for much more than a chance, and now honestly, he could say he didn’t mind things where they are. He could look up at the sky, breathe deeply, and feel as though things were alright.

It had been years since the Hulk first took to the streets of Navapo on a warpath to El Diablo Air Force Base, inviting the ire of SHIELD. And it was less than a year after that Hulk was seen for the last time, in New York. It was still a blur to Bruce, but it was the past now. Betty was better off with Bruce gone. Everyone was. Because as long as Bruce was gone, there was no more Hulk.

Setting down his bike, he pedaled off into yet another day in this run down stretch of paradise. While he could certainly envision better, nowadays he was just grateful it wasn’t so much worse.

-----


Body reminiscent of used rags, steeped in dried sweat and a faint stink from cleaning sinks, as he walked by the old docks, the wreck of so many ships in this dated port leaving it unused after a hurricane a few decades ago rendered it unwanted, while modernization occurred elsewhere, he rolled his bike along, appreciating the quiet. After his day of work the sea breeze was pleasant. The lack of ships meant that the sea scent was free of any muck or pollution: the wrecked ships and debris actually made for good sea creature habitats which allowed cleaners like mussels to live. Plus, few people were around, so it gave him a bit of quiet town. Bruce appreciated the connections he’d made, but he knew it was better to keep his distance at the end of the day.

Then, the pleasant cool went chill, as he heard a voice. A light sobbing for help. Dropping his bike, he carefully moved, trying to follow the voice. “Hello? Where are you!?” There wasn’t much on the dockside, and he had no lights with which to aid in his search, only the distant stars and glint of the moon. The voice came on louder though as his call was heard, a pained wail sounding out. Getting hasty, Bruce sped up, walking quickly until he stepped on something. Though it was largely firm, the surface had a give to it. Bruce immediately recognized its consistency as flesh. Heart nearly stopping he pulled back immediately, seeing the faint shape of an arm in the low light. “Oh god I’m sorry,” he said as he reached out, not questioning why the voice seemed to be coming from lower.

Pulling at the arm, there was no resistance. It was severed, and small, its owner no older than ten. Strangled gasp getting blocked in his throat, he dropped it, recoiling. All sound seemed to vanish as his head swam, then it came back, the panicked crying of the child still out of sight, while a dog whimpered nearby. It didn’t get any closer, the skinny mutt ragged and lost, possibly having been attracted by the scent of blood. Bruce gathered himself, looking over the edge of the dock. Resting on a piece of flotsam that was half submerged, the wounded child lay still, his voice still crying out. Body shaking, Bruce scrambled over the edge, letting himself drop into the water nearby, flip flops drifting off his feet. Testing the stability of the rotted wood, he leaned on it, scooping the child up in his arm before standing. His weight sank the wood underwater, but he still had his footing. Grabbing the lip of the dockside, he found a strength he hadn’t felt in a long time, hoisting them both up and over.

Laying the boy flat, Bruce asked, “Who did this? What happened?”

The boy spoke. “Cartel.” He was still quite out of it. Bruce’s trembling body wasn’t helping any. He hadn’t been one of Bruce’s unofficial students as far as he could tell, but that didn’t matter right now. In him, he couldn’t help but to associate those faces he’d come to know: Luca, Isabella, Micheal, Manuel. Looking up, he saw the largest building in the area, a dockside warehouse, the elephant in the room. This section of the city was often overlooked by the city at large, so protecting it from anything worse was the cartel. Whatever drug trade they did here didn’t matter as long as the people just trying to get by weren’t hurt. Some even found employment there, sent off to other regions with the money they earned coming right back home. Bruce knew of it, but never had he seen or heard of anything like this. One hand clutching his wrist, he held on with a force that would have splinted stone. His teeth gritted, the soft bones threatening to crack in his mouth. He had to rely on that pain to keep him from splitting apart.

It’s no good, he wouldn’t want your help anyway.
Cry, scream, it’s all you’re good for.

Pretend you didn’t see anything.
Trash.
What good have you ever been to anyone?

You never should have existed.

It would be better for us if we were gone. Better for everyone.
Leave him and move on, it’s for the best.

We can’t stay here if we cause trouble.

Worthless.

Keep quiet.

Be still.


Do nothing.

Bruce’s face was burning with tears. The dog got a little closer, intent on the arm. He couldn’t begin to imagine what the cartel had been doing to this place in silent, nor could he imagine what might happen if the Hulk brought them down. So many possibilities filled his brain, each of them deeply negative. But at the very least he could take him to a doctor. Starting to regain himself, Bruce looped one arm under his legs and another under his upper torso, trying to lift him.

“Friends...where are my friends..?”

Bruce’s blood ran cold. He shut his eyes, the warehouse in the distance vanishing from his sight. But despite his eyes being closed, he could see so much. He started to piece together what happened: a bunch of kids going out, or going home, surrounded by adults who had god knew what in mind. One of them tried to defend his friends, maybe at first, maybe after they started to make a move. So he was made an example of: maimed and tossed aside, disposed of. Bruce released his grip. He wasn’t holding onto anything anymore. Bruce’s eyes opened again, everything enveloped in green. He felt a deep anger bubbling inside of him. A strong desire to hurt, to cause harm. It wasn’t his. I’LL SMASH THEM

You’re just a monster. Bruce snapped up the severed arm, then shifted to turn at the dog, still inching closer. Out came a deep bellow, the blood curdling roar sending the dog running before Bruce turned off. His bare feet streaked across the pavement in the other direction. Wet footprints quickly became heavy indentations, then outright potholes, green soles crushing the road like it was snow.

I LIKE being a monster. The Hulk leapt into the sky, clearing the slums and reaching busier parts of town, where lights and cars still filled the streets. As the Hulk landed, screams followed the sounds of footfalls smashing down. And what does that make YOU?

Me? I’m with you. The anger wasn’t his, or rather, it wasn’t just his, nor was it just the Hulk’s. Not one way, not the other. Not this time.

With a wake of fear behind him, traffic stopped and jaws agape, the Hulk smashed down in front of a nearby by hospital. The quiet waiting room became filled with terror as the Hulk came through, bent down to fit, snapping and shattering the automated glass doors that were too slow for him. Unfurling his arms, as he stopped, the noise quieted down. Gently, the green mammoth placed the boy down, the severed arm flopping next to him. There were several cries of shock, calls for help. An air of tension still remained, a collective intake of breath matched with the Hulk standing, turning to go through the doors he’d busted. Stepping out on the streets, onlookers gawked, some took footage, others called for enforcement. Hulk didn’t care, they were small, puny, and couldn’t block his path if they wanted to. Bruce didn’t care, they were quiet, complacent, more inclined to keep out of danger then make any sudden moves.

This world has plenty of monsters. We’ll fit right in. And if there’s no room for us, then we’ll just smash other monsters until we find room.” The Hulk seemed to smile, rolling his neck on his shoulders to the sound of bone cracking that almost sounded like gunshots. It had been a long time since he stretched his legs after all. Sounds like I’m finally speaking your language. Bruce had never felt so lucid, felt so alive. That he was still here at all was astonishing to him. He’d been of the mind that Jekyll and Hyde could never meet, so the story went. Maybe it wouldn’t turn out for the best, but right now, Bruce didn’t have the heart to care.

“GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” The Hulk’s roar echoed across Belize. Those nearby scrambled for cover, shrieking as the Hulk burst into a run, then a leap, clearing the area as the distance lights of police vehicles had only just been sent into motion. The first in a long wave, ripples of the reemergence of the Hulk that would once again shake the world. With every jump, the warehouse came closer and closer. There, he would smash. Smash and smash and smash.

Until there was nothing left to rebuild.
T H E H U L K

B R U C E B A N N E R N U C L E A R P H Y S I C I S T / F U G I T I V E N O R T H A M E R I C A I N D E P E N D E N T
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:


"At this point, I don’t think I care if anyone tries to stop me."

23 years ago, a young boy suffered deeply at the hands of the a monster who tried to turn him into another one. Two shining lights in his life dwindled to one before he was finally freed. 7 years ago, he found a life with that remaining light, and things were good. 5 years ago, he showed the world how much of a monster he really was. 4 years ago he met the monster who’d made him one, and snuffed the life from him.

The attack on Navapo, New Mexico, and El Diablo Air Force Base shook the world, and the inability of SHIELD to capture the Hulk directly led to further havoc in New York some months later. Though Hulk was captured at the end of his tantrum, he would come to escape, few prepared to contain such a powerful superhuman. Since then, while he occupied a specific place in the cultural consciousness, one that couldn’t be overlooked, luckily, for many who remained fearful, his escape resulted in the Hulk virtually vanishing, largely unheard of outside of fanciful, unsubstantiated rumor.

Bruce still lives, having escaped to Central America in an attempt to live peacefully, divorced from the self he aimed to bury. But nothing is meant to be repressed forever.

C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:

Spiritually succeeding the iteration of the character I played in the past, by jumping ahead to year 5, I’ll be able to skip a lot of that introduction (with the freedom to flashback if needed) and put Hulk in a much more free position to interact with other players. As a character with a lot of baggage, both mentally and given his place in recent history, there’s definitely a lot of potential given the inevitable discord between League and Avengers, not even just with Bruce, but Ross as well. All while Brian (spoilers, not dead) continues his machinations in the shadows.

This Bruce is one a bit less reserved. A once shy nerd having been thrown out into a harsh world, he’s fed up with sitting down and telling himself to put up with it if it means overlooking wrongdoing. Why should he run and hide while plenty of other monsters do business in the world openly? Of course, the Hulk won’t be so easy to tame, and no matter what he tries to do there will be those who refuse to accept him, and those who refuse to let him be accepted.

C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:

Elizabeth “Betty” Ross – Bruce’s childhood friend. Largely a reporter on cultural matters (metas and heroes in particular), she also grew up with Bruce, and was his girlfriend before his transformation into the Hulk.
General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (to potentially become The Red Hulk) – Betty’s protective father and member of the US Air Force. Highly distrustful of metas, he’s been an active internal proponent of anti-meta measures and resources. Given that he fundamentally can’t respect or trust a superhero or meta who didn’t come from a modern military background first when it comes to metahuman matters, he’s only tolerant of the Avengers while not trusting the Justice League whatsoever.
Brian Banner (the Leader) – Bruce’s abusive father. Killed by the Hulk in New York several years ago. In the chaos of Hulk’s rampage, his body wasn’t found, so despite witness testimony and evidence, he has legally been declared missing.
Emil Blonsky (the Abomination) – A soldier injured in the Hulk’s attack in New Mexico. Through experimental science, he’s been given another chance, currently serving as the head of Ross’ Hulkbuster squad.
Benjamin Tibbets (to become Flux) – A young Marine soldier.
Rick Jones – Scientist at Fendi Labs, friend of Bruce’s. Formerly worked with him at El Diablo Air Force Base before the accident that transformed him into the Hulk.

S A M P L E P O S T:

Cough cough HAGCK

Spray of spit and foam splattering in the sink, Bruce caught his breath, rinsing his mouth out before cleaning off his toothbrush. Wetting down his hands, he wiped at the freshly trimmed stubble remaining on his face. Looking around, he pulled out a razor and a can of shaving cream, pressing down on the nozzle only for it to sputter and die. Shaking his head, he went without. Putting on a pair of light purple shorts, flip flops, a plain button up blue shirt, and a wide panama hat over his mess of brown hair, a pair of hazel eyes lidded, he stepped out of the bathroom into the bedroom, largely consisting of a small, rickety bed and worn down dresser taking up 60% of the floor space, the rest walkable in two steps. Those two steps took him to the kitchen and entryway, making up the rest of the house, the floor dingy and worn but not dirty. Most of the light came from the windows, the room becoming brighter as Bruce pulled open the door, grabbing his bike (kept stored inside for safety), and locking up before heading out.

Even in the early morning, the humid sea air and blazing sun of Belize was rough, but nothing Bruce was uncomfortable with. His skin was quite tanned: the pasty lab nerd practically a different person. His routine of biking around this district of the city with its many long paths, along with occasional labor to make ends meet, had given him a little meat on his skinny bones. Though his face was relatively clean now, in the slightly cooler months he liked to sport a beard. Stepping out into the sun, descending a short stairwell to the ground level, looking out to the rows of small, dingy abodes, none of them older than a few years due to one hurricane or another.

Destroyed and rebuilt. That’s where Bruce was, getting down to it. He was ‘Benny’ now, a down on his luck American currently in Belize City, making it by through helping people out with odd jobs thanks to various skills and expertise, and through various handouts and favors he received from the grateful locals who supported the twice a week English classes he did for free. Benny never asked for much more than a chance, and now honestly, he could say he didn’t mind things where they are. He could look up at the sky, breathe deeply, and feel as though things were alright.

It had been years since the Hulk first took to the streets of Navapo on a warpath to El Diablo Air Force Base, inviting the ire of SHIELD. And it was less than a year after that Hulk was seen for the last time, in New York. It was still a blur to Bruce, but it was the past now. Betty was better off with Bruce gone. Everyone was. Because as long as Bruce was gone, there was no more Hulk.

Setting down his bike, he pedaled off into yet another day in this run down stretch of paradise. While he could certainly envision better, nowadays he was just grateful it wasn’t so much worse.

P O S T C A T A L O G:

A Green God, A Green Devil
T H E H U L K

B R U C E B A N N E R N U C L E A R P H Y S I C I S T / F U G I T I V E N O R T H A M E R I C A I N D E P E N D E N T
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:


"At this point, I don’t think I care if anyone tries to stop me."

23 years ago, a young boy suffered deeply at the hands of the a monster who tried to turn him into another one. Two shining lights in his life dwindled to one before he was finally freed. 7 years ago, he found a life with that remaining light, and things were good. 5 years ago, he showed the world how much of a monster he really was. 4 years ago he met the monster who’d made him one, and snuffed the life from him.

The attack on Navapo, New Mexico, and El Diablo Air Force Base shook the world, and the inability of SHIELD to capture the Hulk directly led to further havoc in New York some months later. Though Hulk was captured at the end of his tantrum, he would come to escape, few prepared to contain such a powerful superhuman. Since then, while he occupied a specific place in the cultural consciousness, one that couldn’t be overlooked, luckily, for many who remained fearful, his escape resulted in the Hulk virtually vanishing, largely unheard of outside of fanciful, unsubstantiated rumor.

Bruce still lives, having escaped to Central America in an attempt to live peacefully, divorced from the self he aimed to bury. But nothing is meant to be repressed forever.

C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:

Spiritually succeeding the iteration of the character I played in the past, by jumping ahead to year 5, I’ll be able to skip a lot of that introduction (with the freedom to flashback if needed) and put Hulk in a much more free position to interact with other players. As a character with a lot of baggage, both mentally and given his place in recent history, there’s definitely a lot of potential given the inevitable discord between League and Avengers, not even just with Bruce, but Ross as well. All while Brian (spoilers, not dead) continues his machinations in the shadows.

This Bruce is one a bit less reserved. A once shy nerd having been thrown out into a harsh world, he’s fed up with sitting down and telling himself to put up with it if it means overlooking wrongdoing. Why should he run and hide while plenty of other monsters do business in the world openly? Of course, the Hulk won’t be so easy to tame, and no matter what he tries to do there will be those who refuse to accept him, and those who refuse to let him be accepted.

C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:

Elizabeth “Betty” Ross – Bruce’s childhood friend. Largely a reporter on cultural matters (metas and heroes in particular), she also grew up with Bruce, and was his girlfriend before his transformation into the Hulk.
General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (to potentially become The Red Hulk) – Betty’s protective father and member of the US Air Force. Highly distrustful of metas, he’s been an active internal proponent of anti-meta measures and resources. Given that he fundamentally can’t respect or trust a superhero or meta who didn’t come from a modern military background first when it comes to metahuman matters, he’s only tolerant of the Avengers while not trusting the Justice League whatsoever.
Brian Banner (the Leader) – Bruce’s abusive father. Killed by the Hulk in New York several years ago. In the chaos of Hulk’s rampage, his body wasn’t found, so despite witness testimony and evidence, he has legally been declared missing.
Emil Blonsky (the Abomination) – a soldier injured in the Hulk’s attack in New Mexico. Through experimental science, he’s been given another chance, currently the head of Ross’ Hulkbuster squad.
Benjamin Tibbets (to become Flux) – A young Marine soldier.

S A M P L E P O S T:

Cough cough HAGCK

Spray of spit and foam splattering in the sink, Bruce caught his breath, rinsing his mouth out before cleaning off his toothbrush. Wetting down his hands, he wiped at the freshly trimmed stubble remaining on his face. Looking around, he pulled out a razor and a can of shaving cream, pressing down on the nozzle only for it to sputter and die. Shaking his head, he went without. Putting on a pair of light purple shorts, flip flops, a plain button up blue shirt, and a wide panama hat over his mess of brown hair, a pair of hazel eyes lidded, he stepped out of the bathroom into the bedroom, largely consisting of a small, rickety bed and worn down dresser taking up 60% of the floor space, the rest walkable in two steps. Those two steps took him to the kitchen and entryway, making up the rest of the house, the floor dingy and worn but not dirty. Most of the light came from the windows, the room becoming brighter as Bruce pulled open the door, grabbing his bike (kept stored inside for safety), and locking up before heading out.

Even in the early morning, the humid sea air and blazing sun of Belize was rough, but nothing Bruce was uncomfortable with. His skin was quite tanned: the pasty lab nerd practically a different person. His routine of biking around this district of the city with its many long paths, along with occasional labor to make ends meet, had given him a little meat on his skinny bones. Though his face was relatively clean now, in the slightly cooler months he liked to sport a beard. Stepping out into the sun, descending a short stairwell to the ground level, looking out to the rows of small, dingy abodes, none of them older than a few years due to one hurricane or another.

Destroyed and rebuilt. That’s where Bruce was, getting down to it. He was ‘Benny’ now, a down on his luck American currently in Belize City, making it by through helping people out with odd jobs thanks to various skills and expertise, and through various handouts and favors he received from the grateful locals who supported the twice a week English classes he did for free. Benny never asked for much more than a chance, and now honestly, he could say he didn’t mind things where they are. He could look up at the sky, breathe deeply, and feel as though things were alright.

It had been years since the Hulk first took to the streets of Navapo on a warpath to El Diablo Air Force Base, inviting the ire of SHIELD. And it was less than a year after that Hulk was seen for the last time, in New York. It was still a blur to Bruce, but it was the past now. Betty was better off with Bruce gone. Everyone was. Because as long as Bruce was gone, there was no more Hulk.

Setting down his bike, he pedaled off into yet another day in this run down stretch of paradise. While he could certainly envision better, nowadays he was just grateful it wasn’t so much worse.

P O S T C A T A L O G:

A Green God, A Green Devil
TBA
Might wild out and join. Or Hulk out, if you will.

I also had an idea I was thinking of using in DC Genesis (though I'd been pretty busy so I never got around to finishing it), but the idea of starting the Hulk's story a few years after his emergence gave me some ideas and got me juiced creatively, so I might use that other idea later.
"Hmph! Very well then, we'll disband."

With those words, Momo left, heading off without a word to her peers. Confused and disappointed, the Azure Company lieutenants gradually dispersed over the course of the next few minutes. Knowing Chester was likely to head to the Grand Line, Momo had full intent to merely continue the organization, but her attempts to contact others after the fact were met with suspicion due to her departure from the Great Stag Archipelago. In an attempt to find a new leader, in fighting occurred, the next months lending to a chaotic battle with no clear winner, many Azure Company groups disbanding or shedding their colors and their ideals, as power didn't mean much if it could not create order. Losing their muscle, the rest of the Four Color Companies would similarly struggle, their fates unknowable in the coming times as their grasp on the affairs of the Blue continued to slip, perceptions fostered by their decisive loss at the Four Color Festival.

Letting out a sigh of relief as the Azure boats headed off, Lina slouched over the ship railing, relieved.

"Maybe we should move on already..."

The Great Horn Archipelago quieting down, dwindling back to the norm, the festival well and over, the poorly named Grog Crusaders would leave later that day with little word of their departure, even if the ripples of influence they left remained in the relative peace. A quiet, swift end to a loud and protracted battle.

---

"Hmmmm..."

"Hmm?"

A finger tapped on a writeup on the desk. "Hmm!"

"Hmmmm..."

The two soldiers, surrounded by desks in the heart of Marineford, hmmed and hmmmmmed. Their information was sparse on the mysterious Hero of Melonberry, allegedly called 'Chest'. As a pirate, Lieutenant Commander Condroy recognized that he should be marked for the crime of flying a pirate flag, but to be frank, aside from that, it didn't seem like he had done much wrong. While he had beaten Boss "Iron" Cerulean, a man worth 30 million, did that mean he was of a similar threat level to that mob boss known for his power? It's not like he was a particular menace. The picture taken of him, a close up up his head and upper torso, the man looking up at to the side of the frame with a dazed look on his face and some notable dirt on parts of his clothes and face, was said to be taken at the moment he was waking up from a drunken nap. Hardly threatening, really.

Scratching at his peach fuzz, the young Condroy looked up as he heard footsteps behind him. White Justice coat trailing behind him, jaw squared and clean shaven, Vice Admiral Trench, in his dark green suit leaned in with a smile, "Who's this?"

"Ah, he's called Chest or something, new bounty I'm trying to figure out. He hasn't even done an-" Condroy went quiet as he looked up to see his comrade go pale. Confused, he looked around, seeing Trench, someone he's only known to be a jovial sort, with a face gripped in raw derision. Large hand grasping Condroy by the back of his head, Trench forced him to look at the image.

"Is the Marine information network so bad that the file for this man didn't include that he's a former Marine?"

"N-no sir."

"Are you really struggling to determine how much of a heinous criminal such a traitor is for shedding a flag of blue and white for black?"

"But sir he hasn't done anyth-"

Condroy's words were interrupted by the splintering of wood as he was forced through his desk to the ground, the room rumbling from the impact. Lifting his hand, Trench spat, "Commanding Justice! Marines follow their orders, and those who can't aren't worth saving! Chester D. Arnold...no, just Chester Arnold. 50 million minimum!" Trench slowed his roll, looking to the terrified junior, then down to the unconscious Condroy. "Tell him when he wakes up. He can decide the epithet himself for all I care."

Storming from the office, Trench took to some of the halls before coming out to a balcony, the path looping around to another corner of the floor. Looking down over the structure of Marineford, he shook his head. What was once a great Marine base, while still serving as a hotspot and the center of Marine activity across the world, was filled with decay, empty and dilapidated structures they no longer had the funding or manpower to refurbish. Hacking out a glob of spit, it hurtled well out of sight on the way to the ground far below.

Not even a century of peace after a battle with no winner, and all Trench could think of was what had been lost.
Rolling her pipe in her hand, Momo had a slight smile on her face. "Very well then. Laid out by Don Mono regarding the formation of the Four Color Companies, as leader of the Azure Company, you will have to take part in the yearly meets. Management of clerical tasks regarding the company will defer to your immediate subordinates to defer at your discretion. You will need to get in contact with the former Cerulean's men to organize the logistics, and also open up contract lines regarding the Blue-wide affairs of the organization, which include resource procurement, shipping, police and bodyguard detail, and subjugation of rebel groups in our territories. Contact will often involve direct dealings with your lieutenants. While generally we can manage ourselves, you will have to memorize our affairs and respond to any queries in the event we need to defer to you, any of the 42 of us throughout the Blue. Should you become involved with the affairs of another company then it would be best you better acquaint yourself with their structures and key members. Also..."

Lina was a fair distance away, not able to make anything specific out, but at the very least there was no fighting...
Macario nowhere in sight, Lina keeping low, Kuhn on his way, word sent out to Chester, the encroaching fleet made landfall. From each ship, over a score of blue suited men headed by leaders not wholly conforming to the usual dress code began to assemble. An aficionado with bounty's would recognize over half a dozen names, all under 10 million but feared in their own right. 'Bruiser' Boddy, 'Blue' Blaize, 'Wrecker' Roadan, Silfeed 'the Slimeball'. But among those others were ones that had not been quite recognized, yet the fact that they stood alongside one another meant that they were not to be overlooked: John John Johnsey, Kerbilia, Masquerade Doxeen, Lady Momo.

Oh this could be baaad, Lina worried fearfully. Keeping to herself, sword at hand if needed, she merely observed as they communicated with one another. A few goons scattered off, intent on something. For a moment Lina was prepared to go after one of them, but having some eyes at the ready didn't seem like a bad idea either. This was the hotspot as far as potentially risky opponents went, a couple goons wouldn't cause anyone any trouble.

After a bit of waiting, Lina let out a sigh of relief, Kuhn coming in, guns at his side. He wasn't alone but Kuhn had been the only thing Lina was relieved to see: Chester was as filthy and buzzed as ever. Though, even as Lina frowned, she quickly realized that his natural state was only a detriment some of the time.

The group of Azure Company Lieutenants facing off with Chester, Kuhn a few steps back, Lina only caught some of what they said, "Now...beaten Boss...we hence...defeat you or...waive that...you as leader!"

At that, the leaders all collectively bent the knee, or bowed in their own way. Just as Lina could faintly hear them, they, Chester, and Kuhn could likely hear Lina's faint "Ehhhhh!?" she'd burst out in response.
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