Project Rant: Part 1

May 03, 2015:

Kenway comes to Banner for help; Dr. Kenway makes an appearance before Melody and Bruce discuss Shift, the Smooth, and hacking SHIELD.

S.T.A.R Labs


NPCs: Dr. Arthur Kenway and a lab assistant.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Smooth. Hydra. Shift being gone. Probably dead. It was enough for Melody to go off the.. no. She didn't go. She was there. She had little money, barely eaten within a day, the electricity within her house shorted and.. she had no lights, nothing to operate with. She was on the mend, attempting to kick the habit.. but she just needed a fix, a quick one.. no. Don't do it Melody, your brain needed to be clear. At least before she went back to Gotham.

She drags her ass out into the town, having kept in touch with Dr. Banner, who now had employ at a certain coordinate, met with one of the assitants of the place who led her straight to Star Labs.

In another life? Melody would be impressed, she'd be having a ball. She'd want to meet the famed Dr. Wells and his staff, she wanted to check out what new inventions they'd have. She probably even would have asked for a job! But no..

The hoodie was tugged over her head to hide the black veins that appear upon her skin, how the look of her nose seemed red, how tired she had gotten. The pain, it was unbearable, much like it was before, but she didn't have the distraction of keeping it at bay. Where was he?

But, she was led inside, head lowered, eyes upon the ground to hide her face, every now and then her arm lifting to wipe away at her nose as she drew in sniffles to make sure her nose wasn't bleeding.

"Your visitor is here, Dr. Banner." The young man said, and quickly left (due to fear) her standing there in the doorway to his lab.

"Hey.. Bruce Goose.."


Bruce Banner had been working on a computer monitor, writing up notes on an isotope test he was running, trying to find a way to replicate a synthetic gamma - something resembling the deadly rays, but without their mutagenic or negative side effects. An impossible task, most would say, but, then, Bruce Banner was the walking impossible. He also had little patience for people who didn't believe in him, although he appreciated the importance of a skeptical, evidence-based outlook.

One didn't pursue science in the certainty of being right, but in the spirit of discovery. What Bruce would discover with these new experiments was yet to be determined.

He looks up from inputting his mathematics, though, when Melody is lead in, rising up from his seat. He's clad in more traditional labwear, albeit the Radiohead t-shirt rather breaks up the effect of the labcoat. "Melody. You look like death warmed over. What's going on?"

Ah, Bruce, ever the charmer.


Melody enters into the lab, finally reaching up with a shaky hand to take the hood off of her head. At least her hair was combed, but she did look like death warmed over, knocked twice, made itself at home, and refused to pay rent.

"I don't remember if the first time I met you or not, that I was a recovering Smooth junkie." She shudders just a little, bending a touch at the waist as she makes her way towards another chair within the room. With a slow settling, she leans back against it, a brief yawn touching her lips. Though.. that yawn itself seemingly causes the lights to flicker and dim just a touch.

"Surpriseee…" She sings out quietly, her fingers drawing upright to shake in that jazz-hand motion. Melody? She was a charmer herself. "Though.. it's been two weeks. I can't kick the habit and my nanites are on the fritz again. I.. I know that maybe, maybe in a few weeks my body is going to start killing itself off or.. something.. whatever.. got any water?"


Bruce Banner steps to a small faucet nearby, pouring a clear glass full of water and walking it over to her. "You neglected to mention it, although it's not entirely surprising. The effects of Smooth, from the little bit I've read, seem unpredictable. Frankly, how it does what it claims to do, in regards to metahuman abilities, given their disparate origins, seems unlikely to me, but, then, the world of underground narcotics is hardly the place to find the greatest truth in advertising," he says.

He walks over to a drawer and draws out a black bag, unrolling it and drawing a stethoscope from it, "While I don't have a formal medical degree, I have all the necessary knowledge. Frankly, I'm probably more qualified than your average emergency room doctor, even if biology isn't my specialty. But I've had to make it one, since…things changed. I have to understand the body in order to understand how gamma affects it."

"So, let's see how you're doing…" he says.


She watches him as he retrieves the glass of water, her eyes a little tired, yet she manages to keep herself together as she reaches for the glass of water, drinking it just a touch. Her face wrinkles into a little frown, her breath drawing in and releasing slow, trying to keep her own little temper in check. "What do you mean, it's not entirely surprising?" Her hand lifts now, her gaze drawing towards the ground as she fights back tears that would come, but doesn't. She doesn't interrupt his words, only listening to him as she draws her eyes up to spy the black bag, nearly growing on edge at least until he retrieves the stethoscope. Then she relaxes, her free hand drawing up to pull down the zipper of the hoodie to shuck it from herself, allowing it to fall in between her and the back of the chair.

Her physiology was normal, but her lungs seemed as if they were beginning to fill with fluid, and there were little catches in her heartbeat that cause it to rapidly flux when it's released. If he were listening to her stomach? It was empty, due to the dull roar it sounds out. Her bank accounts were frozen, she had no money to really eat nor buy Smooth at her own request.

"I really didn't ask for it." She states sadly, her gaze falling to the floor. "I was kidnapped and some guy shoved it into my foot."


Bruce Banner examines her mechanically, moving the stethoscope around, counting out her pulse, checking her reflexes, peering down the back of her throat with a penlight. He considers for a moment before he responds, "I did not mean it as an insult. You've merely seemed unhappy. Unhappy people seek escape, often through narcotics. If it was forced upon you, that makes it doubly terrible, but I would not judge you even had you taken it of your own accord. I've succumbed to the temptation of a chemical fix upon occasion," he says.

"Your health is not truly terrible, although you're not in the best of shape either. Your lungs need to be cleared and you're clearly suffering from severe levels of fatigue, whether that be from the drug itself or withdrawel from it, I cannot be certain. Blood tests would be good, but your nanites would certainly distort the results. It might help me to understand the interaction between the two elements within your bloodstream, however - it's possible, even, that your nanites might be programmed in such a way as to cleanse you of the effects of addiction."


"The unhappiness started after.." She purses her lips together tightly, her legs idly swinging as she remains upon the chair, her gaze lowering just a touch as she just lets it drop all together. Hearing her diagnosis, her hand reaches up to rub a little at her eye, the touch there leaving a slight mark upon her face as she leans against the back of the chair, just so her hand could fit easily into the pockets of her jeans.

"I think that's something for you and someone else to take up." She states, drawing her hand out with a snatch, that also leaves bruises there, but she doesn't notice it. What she was focused on? Was the flash drive of information, twiddled within her finger-tips. "I need help with this too." She doesn't give it to him just yet, she just sets it down. In the midst of all of that, her phone begins to buzz in a certain tone within her pocket, her eyes rolling for a bit as she glances up towards Bruce.

"Mind if I take this phone call?" She gestures towards her pocket, it was probably important.


Bruce Banner shakes his head, "Feel free. Reception can be questionable here, but I'm sure you, of all people, will manage fine," he says. He doesn't wait for her to offer the flash drive, taking advantage of her distraction with her phone to pick it up, going to his nearby desktop and plugging it in.

He waits for the data to load, shrugging off his labcoat and talking a long sip of his coffee. He reaches over and picks up an E-Cig, loading a cartridge for himself. He still preferred genuine cigarettes - he hardly had to worry about his health - but lab protocol restricted them. Technically, they restricted e-cigs as well, but the vaporizer left no evidence and so the only evidence might exist on surveillance tapes. And he had little concerna bout anyone confronting him directly about his flouting of the rules.

"Interfacing directly with your nanites will be the difficulty. They have a habit of taking over any direct communication, from what you've said, and getting them to submit to scrutiny may not be easy."


At times, Melody would have gotten a kick out of Bruce and his mannerisms, even his method of speech and the words he uses and the tone really would make her laugh. But this is serious times, and the phone call could probably be equally serious. As Bruce takes the drive from her, she pulls her phone from her pocket, switching on the video mode as she holds it out in front of her. An image appears upon the screen, and a loud 'tsking' could be heard. But it stops, hearing the musings of Bruce, and the man upon the other end raises his brow.

"Hi Dad." Melody murmurs.

"Who is that talking?"

"It's Dr. Banner…"
"And why do you .. Meeellllooodddy…"

She lets out a sigh as she stands, drawing the phone downward as she moves to settle down next to Bruce, drawing the spare laptop that was set aside closer to her as she opens it, turns it on, and waits for it to load. "This isn't passw.." She pauses, then lifts up the phone. "Just hold a second, Dad. I'll call you back."

She puts the phone away within her back pocket, the screen of the laptop flickering as random commands were entered, drawing up another website which allows her access to the camera, the phone, and a list of her contacts. The screen was soon brought up with the face of her father, who looks notably upset, and perplexed.

"Her nanites, while we are on that topic, could be easily interfaced with allowable permissions that are usually set by me and her alone. However, as of late, I've noticed that there were and are a few fluctuations with their programming which could potentially allow unwanted users to interface with her machines. Now, with that said, Dr. Banner, it is a mighty fine pleasure to meet you, though I had hoped that this would be under better.. circumstances."


Bruce Banner raises an eyebrow as he looks at the data on the flash drive, which is a great deal to be fair, nothing that can be parsed easily but the word "Hydra" certainly pops up enough to gauge a certain level of interest. He isn't in national security circles the way once he was, but he's hardly so naive as to know nothing.

Before he can delve too deep in, however, Melody's father appears suddenly on the screen, speaking directly to him. "Likewise, Dr. Kenway," he says, although, in truth, he has a certain reticence about a man who experiments on his own daughter, regardless of the good intentions. Road to hell and such. "I don't have better circumstances anymore, I'm afraid. Being able to access those interface protocols would be a great help - a few tests should allow me to isolate the chemical make-up of the Smooth within her system - or, at least, the chemical markers that remain to assure addiction - and flush them from her system with a properly programmed application. The more schematics and specifics I have, the more accurate and effective I can make the program."


The laptop was pushed back so that she could rest her elbows upon the desk top, the laptop itself angled in a way so that Arthur could see both of the two, as one worked, as the other nearly fell asleep just by being idle.

"Melody." His voice snaps, her head jerking back as she gives her father a slight look, keeping silent as Bruce spoke.

"I didn't know you'd know my dad.." Melody remarked, a little astonished.

"How could he not? Almost all scientists, whether medical, mechanical or other wise usually run in the same circles." He didn't seem proud of that fact, but his attention turned back to Bruce.

Though while that attention was turned, it appears that Arthur was working on his end, his gaze flitting towards his fingers and back up again, his lips quirking just as Melody's would if she was hard at work or lost in thought. "The first time that my daughter was subjected to this narcotic, I noticed that while the narcotic itself had left her system, there was still a chance for an addiction that I thought that she had overcome. So I ceased the work on the application itself, especially since the hard reset that she had given herself seemed to do the trick at getting the nanites back on track. However, with the readings that I am getting from the machines; it is easily seen that this is a new strain and a hard reset to her core would not work this time around."

His fingers tap loud, as she glances towards Bruce. She wanted to say that Aspect had given her that hard reset, but she didn't want anyone else to know that she could be hacked.

"Dr. Banner. Do you have access to .docs? I can upload you a brief syntax that would allow you access to Mel-Bear's nanites.."
"Don't call me that. And I can give him access.."

The man ignores his daughter, continuing on with his mode of speech, something that he usually does. "..I am also going to upload a schematic of a single nanite that would give you oversight to the proje.. to Melody as a whole."


Bruce Banner is more than familiar with dehumanizing scientist fathers. He had one himself, after all, far worse even than Arthur Kenway - Brian Banner was more than ambitious, more than uncaring, but truly mad. He hated his son and that hatred had cost Bruce his mother, while those actions and Brian's genetic legacy had damaged his own sanity to the point that he became what he became. None of which he shows, of course, his face placid and empty even as he watches the dynamic between father and daughter.

"Melody is, I'm sure, quite capable of assisting me on-site, although your schematics will certainly be helpful. I agree that a reboot would be ineffective, not to mention potentially threatening to Melody's health and safety," he says. "I can assure you, your daughter is in good hands. I won't let any harm come to her."


"If Melody were quite capable of assisting anyone, Dr. Banner, she wouldn't be in the mess that she is currently in." Arthur didn't seemed too phased about Melody needing protection; he was busy loading the schematics to the document file that he was to send to Bruce.

Melody reaches up to hit the mute button upon the microphone, giving a slightly wary glance towards Bruce. "I'm sorry. He's a bit short sometimes. He speaks his mind a lot too." She shrugs her shoulders faintly, turning the chair towards him a little bit more, her gaze towards the ground as she lifts a shrug of her shoulders.

There was a little glow that rolls up her cheeks, which causes the lights within the room to flicker, something that she easily quells with a shake of her head. "Sorry. But you have access now. I opened myself up just enough to get you in, but then I have to block everything else."

She reaches up to tap the button to unmute the mic, it was clear that Arthur was talking, but wasn't heard.

"Dr. Banner, I'm going to upload the schematics to Melody's email and have her forward it to you, as well as the partial code to the application that I was working on to fortify her nanites."


Bruce Banner arches an eyebrow at Melody's commentary, but doesn't respond to it direclty as he nods to the doctor with a nod, "I appreciate it. I'll send you copies in return of anything I discover or alter as part of my work,' he says. He might not particularly like the man, but he still respects the validity of his scientific research, nor would be consider stealing and keeping such discoveries for himself.

He smiles, "We should be able to handle it from here," he says, dismissing the man as he prepares a command sequence. First, though, he sets up the best partition and firewall he can - STAR's servers aren't his own and he can't allow access to all of the files. AT least, not without a reasonable attempt to protect them.


Arthur nods towards Dr. Banner as he sets his sights upon Melody. "I'm going to be back in town in two weeks. And I expect a sit down with me and your mother for dinner." He gives her that look, the one that dads are inheritly given once they have children that they care -or don't- about. "And we're going to talk about your life choices and we're we are going to go from there."

Then out of nowhere, the screen cuts black.

Melody almost wanted to cry, but she didn't, focusing upon the computer now as she reaches forward with her own fingers to upload the files after the partitions were in place. She shifts the laptop into his direction, drawing herself to a stand so that she could pace around the room in silence.

She was obviously in trouble.


Bruce Banner considers, "I'd probably find an excuse for that dinner, were I you," he says mildly. He focuses on working on the program, his fingers dancing lightly on the keyboard. While Banner was often awkward and uncomfortable in his own skin, he seemed incredibly comfortable in this world, eyes alight as he manipulates code.

His eyes finally return to the girl in the lab, considering for a moment. "In my opinion, once I finish the program, the best implementation is probably the direct way - you can easily access it using your nanites and a direct upload will likely simulate the natural function - or unnatural, in this case. It'll be like taking a vaccine, only with less complaining from daytime talk show hosts," he says. "Sorry, I…watched a lot of the View while I was on the run," he says.


"I usually do." Melody finally admits. But truth? Her mother was much nicer than her father. More warm, she was like the sun in her eyes.

She doesn't sit down as he continues to work, feeling the need to pace the floor so that she does not sleep, stopping only once he turns towards her, her brows furrowing just a touch. "If you say it's like a vaccine, how long do you think it'll be until it takes effect?" Now, she was ready to sit, returning to his side, the chair angled to face him as she plops herself down with a tired grunt. She was still hurting, but a thinking mind pushes that aside. Other than that?

"That file.. what does that tell you?" She needed an unbiased opinion. "Because they think that the .. Asset Septum is.. Shift."


Bruce Banner thinks for a moment, "I'd say twenty four hours, to get a full distribution. Sleeping would likely help, so that your metabolism can focus on the task at hand without distraction. You should make sure to eat steadily, too, to account for the energy output required - your nanites will be fine, but your body will likely need some replenishing from the side effects of being cleansed."

He turns his seat to face her, almost knee to knee, drumming his fingers on the arms of the chair, "Then I'd suggest to him that he chastise them severely for giving him such an awful sobriquet," he says. "My most immediate concern would be the bits I saw in regards to shifting resources towards Metropolis - it's a large urban area with a fairly strong symbolic status among the nation's cities. If it's stricken in a catastrophic way, it would have vast negative consequences. How did you come to acquire this data?"


"Twenty four hours?" No, it needed to happen now. She was still in the worst parts of withdrawl, the pain; the vomitting; all of it was bad on her. And then there was the modified cancer that still lingered in her blood, if the withdraw didn't kill her? That might.

Good thing about Melody, she just keeps on ticking.

"What in the world is a sob.." Her eyes flit off towards the side for a moment, which soon draws itself back towards Bruce. "Oh. A nickname." Go go gadget google!

"I personally think that Metropolis is a bad place for them to shift resources. That's the home of that one guy, in the pajamas. Superman." Melody admired the guy from afar, and she was just going to leave it at that. As for how she acquired the data? EASY!

"Well.." She starts, her hands upon her knees now, her shoulders at a slump. "Me and a few people hacked into HYDRA's database and stole all of the information that way." Her hand now rubs at her forehead, rather hard. "We managed to get everything we could about their financials and other things and compiled it into.." She gestures at the flash drive, frowning. "Aspect said that he was going to take the information to SHIELD to see if they knew anything about Shift's location.. but then he cut me off. He's not talking to me anymore." She looked a little sad, grave even. The gravity of it all hit her, and it made her sick to her stomach of what she had done.


Bruce Banner shakes his head, "SHIELD's interest in defeating Hydra only extends to the symbolic, in my opinion. They are symbiotic entities, justifying one another's existence, an ouroboros of faux-patriotism and judgmental authoritarianism constantly nibbling on one another's backsides, with no real appetite for taking a real bite," he says.

"At least, at the upper echelons. I'm sure those out in the field think otherwise," he says. "I do not know this Aspect enough to judge whether or not he's as idiot as he seems from your brief outline - it sounds to me, quite simply, as though he was using you for his own agenda and then set you aside when you were no longer convenient. Frankly, this is another common aspect of those with government ties."

"As for Superman, he has many obvious gifts, but ubiquity is not among them. Even he cannot be everywhere at once, to my knowledge. A properly coordinated attack could easily include a distraction to keep him out of the way."


Melody just.. stares at Bruce. She even tilts her head a little to the side as her eyes begin to twitch left and right. She was goggling fast, taking those words in that she didn't understand, applying it to the conversation to the point her lips rear back in faint distaste.

"I punched him. He's not talking to me anymore because I punched him." She admits. Some of it was her fault, but everything else? She did not comment on.

"I.. almost don't want to leave it in his hands. Not Superman, he's fine I think. I mean sure, he can't be in two places at once but Shift. He's been through enough. He.." She couldn't really explain it.

"I want to just, go to SHIELD myself and see what they know, get my own information. Or just hack it right out of their asses or just infiltrate or possibly bust that place down until I get my answers." She draws in a breath and sighs. "I.. I used the Smooth to get what I could from HYDRA. To open my mind, to.. stop those inhibitions so that I could do some bad.. some real good and bad.. but now.." She looks down at her hands, using the smooth was obviously killing her. And without it now? It opened up her conscious a lot more, and she was afraid.


Bruce Banner considers for a moment, "If you want help…I will help you," he says. "I do not know the capabilities of this aspect, but I do recognize that ending a friendship because of a blow thrown in a moment of anger is short-sighted and ill-fitting. Admittedly, I myself have learned to be quite understanding of issues of temperament," he says, with a hint of a smile.

"Hacking SHIELD would be difficult, but not impossible, given that you've already shown the aptitude to do the same to their opposite measure. My own prowess isn't insignifcant in that regard and I'd be happy to offer my expertise. And, if things got more…physical…well, I may not be fond of my alter ego, but I can guarantee, people won't forget a punch from him anytime soon."


Melody leans back now, her gaze falling into something that was akin to thought. She quirks her lips just as her father had done, her brows knitting and unknitting again and again.. "I want help. At least to decipher some of this stuff. I don't have the capabilities yet." She sighs, not wanting to talk about the Jericho incident but.. the guy was a cyborg. She really couldn't fault the guy for that. "I don't think you had a choice. You are a bit of like.. Wreck-It-Ralph in there." New nickname for the Hulk!

"Hacking them. From afar." Melody clairifies, lifting a slight finger. "I don't think we need to go where ever they are just to hack them. And I really don't know why he.." She grunts just a little, then stands. "I don't really want to impose, but yes. I would like your help. And I think I should stay in the lab until I'm okay to leave again. So.. do whatever you need to do to get me checked in as a patient and lets start. Or, you could give me one hundred bucks and send me on my way so I could get some food."

Food = Smooth.


Bruce Banner smiles, "I'll have a security pass issued for you so that you don't get any trouble from the regular employees. I often sleep here myself, to be honest. I still have my place, but it's easier staying here than squatting. Still, I never rely on anything lasting - a place to retreat is worthwhile to maintain," he says.

"I'll use private computers to do the hacking, though - I'd rather not have things trace back to STAR if somehow anything goes wrong. I know of a good coffeeshop nearby with surprisingly robust wi-fi - we can use their network anonymously and have cappuccino while we work," he smiles, "Not that I need the caffeine."

( To be continued… dun dun dunnnn! )

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