I vant to steal your blood, aha aha aha!
I'm bent over my workbench with my powertool in hand, a gutted Hammertech drone in front of me, when I hear a chime come from my computer on the other end of the storage area where I'm working on my own Iron Man armor.
Everything here is stolen from the Stark Expo, the tools, the soundproofing, the equipment, which means that it's all state of the art and I can work without fear of drawing the attention of someone outside. Likewise the computer, while not the fanciest model out there, was still heaps better than what I should be able to afford on my wages from my dozen odd jobs, which is why I hid it here.
As far as superhero lairs go, a teched out storage unit isn't the most glamorous, but it's a start.
Unfortunately my Twenty-four Step Program (the Steps keep increasing because I keep thinking of cool stuff I can steal/scavenge/build) is solely based on acquiring power, not wealth, so until I've made myself effectively immortal (Step 6 to 8) I'll just have to suck it up and try to get by on my minimum wage.
Sure I could use my tech and powers (when I get them) to steal money, hell, with what I had right here I could just walk into a bank and punch the vault door straight off its hinges, but that would suck me into a villain narrative.
Before you know it, like clock work I'll be running around in spandex with some ridiculous scheme to steal all the gold in Fort Knox using the cunning power of goldfish, only to be defeated just in time for dinner and locked away yet again, all the while screaming things like 'damn you Spiderman!'.
No, instant ramen will have to do. For now.
Shutting down the power saw that I had been using to dismantle an Air Force drone and shrugging off my thick gloves I walked over to my desk, which was covered in notes, blueprints and a couple of Stark Industries computers, my power armor whirring as I moved.
Until Step 3 was completed I was still a squishy human so I wasn't taking any chances and always made sure to wear the armor, just in case I missed something and someone managed to track me down. Nobody was going to catch me unawares.
Besides, the armor was a bitch and a half to put on or take off, so I tried to keep it on as long as possible.
Reaching my desk I leaned over one of the computers to see what triggered one of my alerts before an immense grin flashed across my face. One of the simpler programs I've written, designed to flag certain keywords, had managed to catch what I had been looking for.
"Shoot-out between U.S. Military and a monster at Cornell University Campus!"
Someone had managed to take all of the footage students had managed to capture and combine it in a short film of about 5 minutes. It had almost immediately been banned (S.H.I.E.L.D.'s work no doubt) but by then it had already had thousands of views and in a matter of moments 10 more versions sprung up at various forums, and the numbers just kept increasing.
'You screwed up, Ross, cat's outta the bag now. No way even S.H.I.E.L.D. can contain this, and even if you can keep this off the major news channels, people won't forget this.' I thought to myself in vicious amusement, before straightening and cracking my neck.
If I remembered correctly (and I knew I did, since I had made a gigantic poster of the MCU timeline and had hung it on the wall off my storage unit) then the Hulk would flee to some forest somewhere, and then he and Betty would make their way towards the only man they thought might cure Bruce.
Mr. Blue, at the Grayburn College here in New York.
I had no clue where the forest was where the Hulk was hiding out, and I had no idea how long it would take for Bruce and Betty to make their way towards New York, but that didn't matter. I already was in New York, and I was only days away from completing the first version of my armor, which would be enough for my current purposes.
Hell, a balaclava would do for my plan, but there's something comforting about wearing hundreds of pounds of metal and weapons when two behemoths start wrecking your neighbourhood.
Quickly setting up another program to flag any mentions about happenings in Harlem or the Grayburn College, I pulled my gloves back on and slammed my welding mask back down over my face.
There was work to be done.
It had taken roughly two weeks for Bruce and Betty to reach Grayburn College, which meant that I had managed to finish my armor a few days before schedule. As a result, I had taken the opportunity to hang around the College, pretending to be a janitor, as it allowed me much more freedom of movement than pretending to be one of the students.
I had made extra sure to hang around the office of one Samuel Stein, which had been made significantly easier by the man's stereotypical nutty professor persona: as I wasn't an academic or of academic interest, I almost didn't even exist to the man as he hurried down the hallways deep in thought.
While I was tempted to break into his office to get the synthesized blood of Banner right now, I held off on it, mainly because I couldn't remember wether the blood had been hidden or even stashed at his office at all. The movie had come out almost a decade before I was removed from my original universe, so details like that were extremely hazy.
No, better use my tried and true tactic of waiting for a villain to bring the fireworks, and while the heroes were distracted, make my getaway with the shiny loot.
And I was counting on the Abomination being one hell of a distraction.
So, I'll wait until Blonsky gets his fix, and while he tears up Harlem, I'll walk in with my armor on (which was currently dismanteled and stashed in the back of a rental van bought under a false identity, which was riding uncomfortably low on it's axels) take the blood and most importantly, try and take Stein as well.
Stan Lee died of drinking a single, diluted drop of the Hulk's blood; I was planning to inject myself with a full bloodbag.
I needed a man like Stein in order to see wether I would even survive the process or not. If he wouldn't come with me, or if he discovered that the blood would kill me, I'd have to wait for another serum which would boost my regeneration and constitution before trying again.
I really hoped not though, as most of those serums were only available in later Steps, and I desperately needed a boost now.
Shaking off my worries, I made my way towards my van when I saw Banner (in his Ruffalo portrayal, I was wondering about that, seemed this universe retroactively edited itself) and Betty made their way into Stein's office.
Tonight the showdown between Hulk and Abomination would occur; tonight would be the night I made my first Step towards evolving my body to a higher plane.
Unable to resist, but not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I conceded to the urge to let out an evil laugh, but made sure to do so softly, under my breath.
You know what, it's a lot less impressive when you need to whisper your diabolical laughs.
Right as I slid on my helmet, an almighty crash thundered across the College. Seems like Blonsky got his fix then. Quickly making my way back inside the building I ran towards where I now know Stein and his batch of Hulk-blood is, not caring about the few people that are around to see me, as my identity is safely hidden underneath my helmet, and my armor is painted in muted colours in order to blend in with the darkness of the night.
Reaching the room where Blonksy transformed into the Hulk, I ignored the door in favour of simply running straight through the wall, showering a surprised and slightly mutated Stein in brick and mortar (I could have used the door of course, but I couldn't resist the urge to once again inflict grivious harm upon architectural elements. It's addictive I tell you).
"W-who are you?" a dazed Stein mutters as he stares up at me in confusion, the small cut across his temple still flowing with blood, even as his cranium starts to expand a bit.
"I'm the guy who's getting you out of here." I state, a modulator in my helmet making my voice unrecognizable and suitably intimidating.
"What? I… I don't understand…" Stein mutters, though I get the impression he's talking more to himself than to me.
Not wasting any time, I reached over and hauled the man to his feet, ignoring his wince as I jostle some of his probably broken ribs.
"We need to get moving. Where's Banner's blood? The Army is everywhere and S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Black Widow are on their way, and when they get here, they're gonna arrest you, and destroy the blood."
At that I finally managed to get his attention, wild eyes settling frantically on my blank facemask.
"No… No! They can't have it! It's mine! Mine! I can do so much with it, so much more… you must save it!"
Grabbing the frantic scientist by his shoulders I forced him to stand still, using my larger frame to loom over him, making him stop his rambling.
"I will save the blood and I'll save you. You can't work on the blood when you're in prison can you?" I rumble, trying to sooth the confused scientist, who gives an agreeing nod at my words.
"So, here's what's going to happen. You'll lead me to the blood. I bag everything in sight. I'll take you to my safehouse, where we'll lie low so we can avoid S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Army. In my safehouse, you'll be able to expirement all you want. I want that blood, Stein. What Blonsky and Banner have? I want that too."
At the mention of expirementing, Stein's frantic eyes lighted up with a mad gleam, and he visibly tried to straighten himself despite his injuries and quite frankly ridiculous oversized head.
"Right. Follow me."
There were a few army grunts still around, but most of the attention was focused on Blonsky, who was cutting a swath of death and explosions through them, laughing like a maniac all the time.
As we reached the lab where Stein kept the gamma-blood, three soldiers burst through the double doors on the other end of the hallway, immediately raising their rifles in my direction, the death of their comrades clearly putting them on high alert.
Pushing my trusty duffelbag in Stein's hands I shoved him towards where the bloodbags were hanging, not taking my eyes off the soldiers, who were predictably shouting orders at me to get on the floor, hoping that their raised voices masked their fear (it didn't).
"Everything you think you need, put it in the bag. Leave the rest. Now."
At my growled command, made more pressing by the modulator in my helmet, Stein gives a quick nod (making his oversized head bob precariously on his neck) before he starts shoving bloodbags and notebooks into the duffelbag.
This clearly upsets the army grunts, as they now started moving closer towards me, their shouting increasing even as they train their peashooters on my still form.
Right, let's see what this baby can do.
Steadily walking towards them apparently freaked them out, as one lost control over her triggerfinger and opened fire on me. Now, even safely entombed within one of the most advanced DIY-armors in the world, I couldn't quite stop the knee-jerk reaction to flinch before the bright flashes and thunderous gunshots (which was thankfully hidden by my solid faceplate).
But other than what felt like a kid throwing pebbles against my armor, I didn't feel anything from the gunfire (though the paint-job was absolutely ruined) and before I consciously knew what I was doing, I was sprinting down the hallway in my armor that weighed in at just a little more than half a tone, cracking the floor underneath my feet as I went.
One of the soldiers completely froze up when I ran at her, and instead of dodging like her colleagues did, instinctively hunkered down and started emptying her clip into my approaching form.
Other than sparks flying across my armored plates I didn't show any sign of noticing the spray of bullets (though Stein dived underneath his desk with an undignified squak of fear) and before either of us knew it, I was upon her.
Now, like I said, my armor was more than half a ton, while the hallway was about thirty feet long. As a result, I had built up quite a momentum.
More momentum than I could handle in fact.
Before I even knew what had happened, before I had been able to turn, or slow down, or do anything really, I had trampled the soldier into the floor underneath my feet.
It was a grisly sight, and it shocked both me and the remaining soldiers into silence. The soldier on my right showed his greater experience though, by snapping out of it first, a hand flying immediately to the radio on his shoulder.
Unfortunaley, the sudden movement made me lash out on instinct, and before the grunt had managed to call into his radio, my fist slammed into his chest, sending him crashing into the wall, denting it far enough that he actually stuck there.
He wasn't dead, as he wore body armor, but he was out for the count for now, so I immediately turned towards the last soldier-
-only to get the butt of a riffle slammed into my armored chin, making my head tilt slightly upwards. Stunned by surprise, both me and the soldier stood frozen on the spot, before I pushed my chin (and the rifle) back down, fixing the army grunt with a glare through my solid faceplate.
I had to give the guy credit though, because after swallowing his nervousness, he dropped the rifle in favour of unsheathing a combat knife and bringing it towards my midriff in one smooth movement.
I caught the knife by the handle in one armored glove, and used my other to shove him in the chest, sending him sprawling into the other wall, forcing him to let go of the knife.
Acting on instinct, I flipped the knife, and before the dazed soldier had a chance to right himself, or even bring up a guard of some kind, I slammed the weapon straight into the base of his neck.
Blood spurts out from the wound, splashing across my armor as I stare in mute horror as the man lets out a wet gurgle which will haunt my nightmares for days to come as he slides to the floor.
Still in a daze, I heard a gasp and a curse, before a gunshot rings out and I feel something ping off the back of my helmet. Turning around (getting another shot to the face) I see the other soldier, one hand grasping his chest and fractured ribcage, the other holding a hand gun, which he is emptying on me with a murderous expression on his face.
Ignoring the bullets (I barely register them. In fact, I'm barely registering anything at all right now) I walked towards him and punched him in the face.
Boxers wear gloves, yet still manage to occasionally kill one another when in the ring by an (un)lucky blow to the head.
I was wearing something a bit more dangerous than boxing gloves.
My punch shatteres his nose and cheekbones, sending shard of bone into his brains even as his eyes nearly pop out of their sockets, while his upper jaw looses all it's front teeth.
I nearly hurl inside my helmet, the only thing keeping me from doing so is the fact that that would be utterly disgusting and the gunfire, explosions and occasional roars coming from outside the building.
Right, I'm on a schedule here.
I turned towards Stein and his lab, trying (and failing) to put the soldiers out of my mind as I approached the mutated scientist, who was running around with a frantic grin on his misshapen face.
"You got everything?" I ask harshly, grateful the modifier keeps any tremors from showing through my voice.
Stein looked from the lab to the overstuffed duffelbag with a forlorn expression on his misshapen face, before giving a sigh and a nod. It's clear he wanted to take more of his work with him (and I'm sort of on his side on this, as the more research he can take with him, the less time it takes for him to make me superhuman) but the bag was bursting at the seams and he's clearly struggling with the weight.
Grabbing the bag with one hand, and him by the shoulder with the other, I marched him towards the rear-exit of the building. I don't know where S.H.I.E.L.D. is and I'm not willing to stick around to try and find out. Ross and his army are currently focused on the 10 feet tall monster who is ripping apart the neighbourhood and his men with equal glee.
In other words; it's time to get the hell out of here.
Thankfully we met no more soldiers on our way out (though we did spot the odd terrified looking College student hunkered down underneath desks and the like) and we burst through a service corridor to the outside world without anyone the wiser.
We quickly made our way over to my van which was parked right in front of the corridor (memorizing floorplans for the win!), me getting in the back, while Stein takes the wheel and we peel away from the scene of destruction.
I absent-mindedly gave Stein directions to where I parked my car, and once we get there we quickly dumped the van (I pause to make sure nothing can be traced back to me, the fake id is already destroyed and I vigourously wipe down everything Stein had touched so he won't leave any prints) and we get in my Honda, the duffelbag in the trunk, me in the backseat and the scientist once again behind the wheel.
As we made our way towards my storage unit/secret lair, I kept thinking back to the three soldiers I killed.
I knew, on an intellectual level, that becoming a god wouldn't be without sacrifices or collateral damage, but I hadn't expected it to be so soon in my plan or so… up close and personal.
Closing my eyes, trying to ignore the wet sound of the knife entering the soldiers throat, I went over my thoughts about killing three humans in the span of a minute.
Did I feel guilty? Oddly enough, not as much as I thought I would. Yes, it was unfortunate that our confrontation had to end with their deaths, and if I could do the encounter over again I might handle things differently, but the fact of the matter was that my existence was hidden from the authorities for just a little longer, which was invaluable to the success of my plan.
So no, I didn't feel guilty for killing those soldiers. What I did feel, was anger. Anger at Ross, who couldn't leave well enough alone, a man who was powerhungry enough that he was willing to waste lives and millions of dollars of equipment hunting down a man who above all else just wanted to be left alone, in order to make his own army of monsters.
The deaths of those three soldiers?
They were on him.
The equipment destroyed by the Hulk?
That was on him.
The deaths caused by Blonsky even now?
All of it was on him.
Opening my eyes again, I now no longer felt any queasiness, feeling only determination instead. I have no doubt that the images of the mangled bodies of those nameless grunts will haunt my dreams for the coming nights, but now I know what I'm going to do about it.
Step 4: Ruin Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross' life.
I'm looking forward to this one.
"I'm gonna need a what now?"
"A primer. The gammapulse which triggers the change comes from the amygdala. The primer created by Dr. Ross allows those cells to temporarily absorb that energy, which makes sure you don't die of radiation poisoning. I don't have that primer, so if I just inject you now, you'll most likely die of the gamma energy inside Dr. Banner's blood, not just the blood itself." Stein rambled at me in excitement, waving his hands in front of a whiteboard I had hung up on one of the walls inside my storage unit.
It has been less than a week since the fight between the Abomination and the Hulk, and during that time both Stein and I have been busy. While I was eager for some of the power of Banner's alter ego I had watched enough movies to know that just injecting some of the blood into my body could only end badly.
So I had controlled my impulse and allowed the scientist to set up as much equipment as he could fit inside the now cramped storage unit and would need to turn me superhuman. It was extremely basic, but thankfully Stein's massively increased intellect found ingenious ways around that, though that didn't stop him from pestering me to find him more and more expensive equipment.
While trying to find a middle-ground with the mutated scientist (yes, I understood that without proper equipment and tests I might die horribly, no, I wasn't going to get him the materials he needed to create a hadron collider) I spent my time executing Step 4.
My armor had cams on it, so I uploaded the footage of that night (minus my fight with the soldiers) to show all of the death and destruction Ross' ambitions had wrought, going back to Harlem during the week with hidden camera's to add to the story (it's much harder to hide the ugliness of the truth in broad daylight).
While I had the public on my side (basically all of Harlem had taken up arms against the U.S. Army and the top brass especially) it quickly became clear to me that Ross was protected, most likely by S.H.I.E.L.D. on orders of the World Security Council, as those assholes seemed to determined to do everything they could to make the world a worse place.
Surprisingly, I managed to get Tony Stark on my side, who was most likely still smarting over the Army taking away his armor and turning it into their own plaything, only to screw up and loose control, causing wanton death and destruction (again), while for Stark the armor was a symbol of him pulling out of the Merchant of Death persona and all of its horrible concequences.
To say he was angry was like stating that Antartica might be a bit chilly this time of year.
Public opinion kept the ineptitude of Ross in the news, while Stark's lawyers started digging up every single code violation the obsessed general had committed (of which there were many). Ross was still in position, but rumours began to float around that his backers were concidering that defending him was more trouble than it was worth, especially when it came to light he had abused whatever little of the Super Soldier serum they still had, wich meant their only source of unlocking the power of the Hulk was now inside Blonsky, and everybody was wary about involving him, even the idiotic WSC.
Guess survival-instinct overrules a lack of common sense.
So, Ross would soon be on his way out if Tony got his way (which he always did) but that still left me stuck in a storage unit with a somewhat unstable scientist and apparently no way to currently survive enhancing myself with mighty Hulk-blood.
"You survived his blood, didn't you?" I ask Stein, my voice still modulated by my helmet which I wore everytime I went by the storage unit to get an update on his progress and to continue my war on Thaddeus Ross.
"Yes, and while utterly fascinating, I don't think this is what you're going for, am I right?" Stein replies with a grin, pointing at his massive cranium.
While it gave him an immense boost to his intellect and memory ("I can recall every paper I ever graded!") he was correct that I wasn't really aiming to get his look as well, concidering the fact that he looked… well, to be honest, he looked grotesque.
Stein himself however could not be happier with his new image, and everytime he wasn't setting up his equipment, or testing the gamma-blood to see if I could incorporate it, he was experimenting on himself, trying to see just what had happened to him.
Making a face underneath my helmet (which of course he couldn't see) I replied to the enhanced scientist in my teched out shed.
"So what do you need to make your primer? Or anything really that would keep me alive?"
At this, Stein let's out a massive grin, nearly bouncing on his toes in excitement.
"Aha! That's why I called you here today! I wanted to wait until everything was ready, but I just couldn't contain myself anymore. Besides, I finally have all the equipment to do some real work on this!" he babbles as he nearly skips his way towards one of the many coolboxes stacked inside the storage unit (one of the many reasons why it had become so cramped. I had to rent another unit just for storing all the disassembled parts of the drones that I hadn't incorporated into my armor).
Before I could ask what exactly this is, he fished something out of the coolbox he had been rummaging in, turning around and holding it aloft with a flourish and a proud grin on his face.
It was a vial, filled with a reddish liquid. I squinted at it, before giving up.
"Allright, I'll bite. What am I looking at?"
"This, my friend, is a bit of Blonsky's blood before I administered Dr. Banner's blood to him. I didn't know what he had already put inside himself, so I managed to get a bloodsample from him, before starting the procedure. Now I can finally figure out what had already enhanced him and then I can give it to you as well!"
At that I straighten in shock, clearly taking Stein off guard. I on the other hand have completely forgotten about the mad scientist as I stare at the innocent looking vial in awe.
"The super-soldier serum…" I whisper, though clearly Stein has heared me, since he is now looking at the vial in a mix of awe and excitement as well.
"Really? Oh, I had hoped it would be something exiting, but this… Erskine is said to have been a genius unmatched even by our generation… This is going to be incredible!" Stein gushes and I can't help it, I start laughing alongside him.
"Well done doctor. Let's see what mysteries we can uncover, shall we?"
And with that, we both committed ourselves to the task of unravelling Emil Blonsky's blood.
The completion of Step 3 came closer and closer.
While our enthousiasm didn't diminish, it turned out that cracking a supelsodier's chemical and genetic make-up was surprisingly difficult, especially when done with subpar machines in a storage unit.
Still, progress was made, though in slow increments. This did give me the opportunity to give my attention to the completion of Step 4 as well. Somone within the Army, perhaps one of the scientists, had blabbed, and Blonsky's mission in Rio in pursuit of the Hulk on Ross' orders had leaked.
It sparked an international shitstorm, with even representatives of the soda-factory Banner had worked at knocking on the door of the Pentagon, asking for reparations as the blame for all the damages were laid solely at Ross' feet.
Top brass at the Army felt this was getting out of hand, and branded the operation on foreign soil as unsanctioned and of Ross' own initiative, effectively getting themselves the hell out of dodge.
I didn't care about them however, I only wanted Ross and this had given both me and Stark the perfect opportunity. Because, as of right now, General Ross was effectively a rogue element within the U.S. Army.
Stark's army of laywers were quick to find the pressure spots within the Army's hierarchie, finding soldiers, officers and families of soldiers alike who would benefit of Ross being forced down a peg or two, either for emotional reasons or for career advancement.
The General's position within the Army began to rapidly to destabilize as he lost more and more of his support base, since very few of the people underneath him were all that happy with carrying out operations on American soil, only to get cut down by a monster who turned out to be someone Ross had originally brought on board in the first place.
It seemed extremely likely that he would be shipped off to some remote outpost in the middle of nowhere, stripped of rank and any career possibilities, but then came the final blow that ended his position within the Army for good.
Surprisingly, it didn't come from me or the crowd I had been whipping up, or even Stark's army of lawyers, but from Betty Ross.
If General Thunderbolt had a single redeeming quality, it was that he cared about his daughter.
Ironically that became his undoing.
Betty went on public record, reveiling everything that her father had done from the moment he had approached Banner on creating the next supersoldier to sending men towards their death against Blonsky. Most notably however, was that she revealed that despite being an accomplice to Banner (by Ross labelled as a bio-terrorist, but that was thrown into question by Betty's confessions) she hadn't been arrested as he had, on the grounds of being Ross' daughter.
It was more than the Army could ignore, and when the WSC decided that they didn't need Ross anymore as the Abomination was in their custody already, so they could create supersoldiers on their own, there was nobody who could (or even wanted to) save the General's position.
On June 9th, 2011, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross was dishonourably discharged from the United States Military, thanks in large part by the efforts of his own daughter, who was now protected from the Army who wanted her hide for spilling their secrets by Tony Stark himself, and had begun working at Stark Tower as part of a scientific team doing research into clean energy.
Step 4: Complete.
The cold metal of the gurney was uncomfortable against my bare skin, while the various electrodes placed on my torso were itching like mad. I tried to keep my breathing even, but I couldn't quite contain a quiet panic from strangling my lungs.
There was a not-insignificant chance I could die from this, and even if I were to survive, I might end up looking horribly mutated or worse, I might even loose my mind like Blonsky did.
But I had come too far to turn back now. Too many plans already set in motion to chicken out now. I had no choice but go through with this and hope for the best.
Give me omnipotence, or give me death! (Though I'd much rather you not give me death, please, thank you)
"Are you ready?" came the exited voice of Samuel Stein, massive machines surrounding him and me, while he was holding a very large needle in his hands.
"I'm ready." I replied, trying to mask my nervousness, cursing that I didn't have my helmet on so my voice would be modulated to its gravelly, intimidating version of itself.
Giving a happy nod, Stein bounced over to where I was strapped down on the gurney, needle poised over the veins in my arm before he hesitated, glancing at me from underneath his massive cranium.
"What?" I grunt out, wanting him to get it over with and not just stand there with that large needle (that very, oh so very large needle) hovering over my veins.
"It's nothing! Well, it's just that… well, I hadn't expected for you to be so young."
Lifting my head a bit from the gurney, I raise an eyebrow at him in surprise. I was in my mid-twenties, that wasn't that young, was it? Then again, it might be somewhat on the youthful side in the 'advanced technology thief and scavenger' business.
I wouldn't know, I had yet to meet someone in my line of work.
We were an exclusive bunch, you know?
Rolling my eyes, I motioned the scientist to just get on with it, not trusting my voice at the moment. Giving an embarrassed nod, Stein quickly prepped my arm before lining up the needle with the serum that had enhanced Blonsky and-
Oh God. Oh God, that fucking hurt! I was surprised I didn't have a massive hole in my arm from the size of the metal that Stein had just basically shived me with.
"Right Mr. McCole, I need you to try and stay calm if you could please. Unfortunately, the pain is just about to begin, I'm afraid."
And with those words, Stein hitched me up to an IV of Banner's blood as Blonsky's serum ran its course through my veins. Already I could feel the changes coming over me.
How could I tell, you ask?
Well, feeling like every single bone in your body is broken in half, then put back together again by a toddler with no idea what he was doing, but with superstrength, a sunny disposition and heaps of duct tape, tended to clue you in on such things.
Over, and over, and over again.
I'd like to say that I remained strong throughout it all. That I had remained the picture of stoic determination, or even that I roared in such pain it rattled the storage unit, or something else that sounded heroic and awesome.
Truth was, I bawled like a baby.
By the first hour I was screaming so much that I probably damaged my throat.
By the second hour I was sobbing openly, my vision blurry from the pain and the tears that streaked down my face.
I'm pretty sure that by the third hour I was begging. Either for my mother or for death I can't quite recall, I was pretty out of it by then.
By the fourth hour I finally fell unconscious (though Stein later told me that even unconscious I kept on screaming when the serums started working on my spine).
When I woke up, the sun had already set and come back up again (though I couldn't tell as my storage unit didn't have any windows) and I felt sore from my scalp to my toes, while my throat felt like someone hadn't been able to decide wether to pour a bucket of sand, or a bucket of crushed glass down my throat and had just given up and decided on both.
My groan woke up Stein, who was snoring in what seemed to be a ridiculously uncomfortable position at our desk, his oversized head snapping up from where it had been lying on the keyboard, taking a few of the letters with it as he blearily blinked around.
Upon seeing me awake, his eyes snapped open and now completely alert he nearly vaulted over the desk, quickly beginning to check my vitals, while prattling against me, my head (feeling like it was stuffed with cotton) only picking up about half of his words.
"Hey there champ, how are you feeling? What am I saying, you probably feel like crap right now. Let me tell you, it was… harrowing, seeing you scream and thrash about on the table as you were. I guess this confirms our guess that modifying the serum to affect the subject in a more natural manner over a longer period of time will also be more painful. But I think we made the right choice there, since…. Since it worked…" Stein trailed off in an awed whisper, those last words finally snapping me out of my dazed state.
"What did you say?" I bark, quickly sitting up on the gurney, my hearing picking up an odd snapping sound, though I ignored it for now in favour of staring intently at the Doctor, who is alternatively gazing at me to the screens and back at me again in wonder.
"It worked." He breathes again, this time pointing at my waist.
Looking down in confusion, I can't help a small gasp escape me. Because around my waist, wrists and ankles are the ruined remains of the belts that had managed to secure me tightly to the table before I had the procedure.
My body had visibly changed as well. I didn't have the thick, hulking bodytype like the Abomination, Thanos and Hulk had, but I was definetly bigger than Steve had become after his procedure.
I looked like the Rock's bigger, meaner brother.
If he had been born in Chernobyl, that is.
I knew that mutations were very likely, given what Banner's blood had done to Stein and Blonsky, but it still took me off guard to actually see them.
Like the Abomination, I had a sort of "raised" skeleton. Despite being packed with big bulging muscles (I had abs! And pecs!) my spine and ribcage still visibly showed up, though thankfully my legs hadn't become digirtrade like Blonsky's had become.
Gently stepping of the gurney (trying to ignore a flash of pain as I did so) I realized that, as my head nearly touched the ceiling, that not only had I lost all of my hair, I was also really tall, Stein with his overly large head only reaching my chest, while at the shoulders I was twice as broad.
Forget what I said about the Rock, I was roughly the size of the Mountain that Rides, if the Mountain had the muscle definition of Arnie in his golden days and with a ridged spine jutting from his back.
As I flex my biceps (I have biceps now!) I can just feel the power coursing through my muscles, Stein looking on in amazement.
Wanting to test something, I walk towards one of my workbenches that lined the wall of the storage unit, picking up one of the metal plates that I had stripped from the Hammer drones. Grasping it firmly between my massive hands, I grunt in exertion, my muscles swelling with strength, before with a groan of tortured metal, the plate in my hands folds neatly in half.
Stein's mouth drops open in amazement, before he lets out a loud laugh, clapping his hands in excitement.
"Now, how are you feeling my friend? Not having any… destructive urges, do you?" Stein asked, getting a bit more serious (no doubt recalling what happened to him when he preformed this procedure the last time) though he still can't quite contain the glint of excitement in his eyes.
I turned back towards him, once more caught off guard at how small he (and everything else really) looks now, before giving him an assuring grin.
"I'm feeling fine Doctor. It's still me… just better." I reply, only now noticing that my voice had dropped down in pitch to a rumbling bass that would feel right at home in te company of the likes of Louis Armstrong or James Earl Jones.
The urge to test my strength is there, that urge for something or someone to challenge my power only to receive the worst smackdown of their lives, but I recognize that it's there and surpress it. I'm still in control.
Flexing my arm once again, looking down at my towering body with its massive frame and pronounced skeleton, I can't help it: I finally unleash my proper diabolical laugh, Stein joining in with me.
As we come down from the high of our success, still chuckling and marvelling at the towering ode to strength that my body has become, I can't help but let out a savage grin, unknowingly showing off pointed, gleaming canines.
"Step 3: Complete."
AN: Step 3 is a massive succes, while step 4 has been completed. Ross is still alive, but without any power or backers he won't be in a position to cause trouble later down the line. Best if I still kept an eye on him though, given the universe I'm in and the multitude of shadow organizations there are he might always show up again at the worst possible moment. Not on my watch.
Fun Fact: Wolverine was originally intended to be a genetically mutated wolverine rather than a human mutant. Stan Lee himself vetoed the idea.