Kicking the Habit

May 11, 2015:

Bruce uploads a program into Melody's nanites to help with kicking the Smooth habit; but once an addict, forever an addict..

S.T.A.R Labs


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Bruce Banner has Melody lay down on one of the medical bay tables, her vital signs marked by machines that beep steadily in time with her heart and lungs. Electrode pads have been attached to her forehead, stomach and arms, allowing him to communicate with her nanites through an electronic net, synching up activity through simultaneous mass upload, rather than forcing the data to distribute itself through the system. It's unlikely the Smooth would be able to counteract the effect of the program - it's not intelligent, after all - but Bruce is a big believer in taking all precautions.

Well, he is NOW.

"Are you comfortable?" he asks, more as a matter of routine than out of anything resembling bedside manner. Although he does like her, very much so in fact. He just doesn't interact easily with other human beings.

It was a weird night; eating almost everything in sight and pacing away within the lab with the need to see the outside to feed her addiction and other things that have nothing to do with the Smooth. But, the night fell and it was time, the necessary fixes and uploads were given to Bruce by Dr. Kenway, and fitted to the frame so that she could at least have a fighting chance.

She kicked it before without tampering with her nanites; this time? We'll see.

Being strapped on and strapped in (not really) to the table, Melody lifts her hands to use as pillows, eyes staring up towards the ceiling as she lets out a little huff.

"The table is cold." She states plainly, pursing her lips as she glances down towards him. "It reminds me of my childhood. I kind of don't like this."

Bruce Banner raises an eyebrow, "I'm not doing it because you like it. I'm doing it because it's necessary," he said. "I sympathize in regards to an unfortunate childhood, although mine is more of a memory of physical violence than experimentation. I think my father would have experimented on me, though, had my mother permitted."

He boots up the laptop, checking through the code one last time, rigorously double-checking the safeguards and making sure the compatability issues are accounted. "It should not take particularly long once we start. I merely want you here in the med-bay as a precaution. I have adrenaline and defibrillation equipment on standby."

"I know that." Melody states near to defiance, she was ready to jump out of her own skin, her hair rising just a little as the antsiness picks up. It was like static electricity covering her locks, her own hands drawing from beneath her head to smooth her hair down into place, shifting just enough to cause the monitors to stir and nearly black out with her efforts.


Her jaw tenses as she grips ahold of the table, fingers clenching hard enough to draw tension lines upon the back of her hands. Her toes even clench, having discarded her boots a few moments before. "Let's get this over with."

Bruce Banner shakes his head, "No need to apologize. You were merely stating your discomfort. I apologize if it seemed I was chastising you," he says. "I recognize the importance of…venting," he says with a half-smile.

And then he starts to go through a rapid series of keystrokes, culminating in a soft whine and a hint of static electricity in the pads on her skin, "Link-up made…connection established…security protocols engaged…and…uploading."

"You weren't chastising me, I'm just annoyed. Let's just hurry up, alright?" Still, that need to bolt was there, but she uses the last bit of willpower she had left to not succomb. Her eyes close as she tries to slow her breathing, listening to his words as she gives a slight nod. She couldn't feel the upload yet..

..wait a minute..

..Now she does.

Her skin really was crawling, the lights firing up slow at first, little bleeps here and there of color that may have been missed within her skin. Until it truly begins to sparkle; flashes of reds, blues.. greens.. sometimes purple.. a slow cadence of flashing lights that soon flash bright enough to make her skin an almost luminescent backdrop.

Bruce Banner keeps his voice low and steady, "Just breathe, measure your breaths. Clear your mind, don't try to force anything to happen. The program will do the work on its own," he says. He's quite well-acquainted with calming techniques, of course, his voice just short of hypnotic in its tone and register.

He monitors the progress carefully, getting feedback every step of the way, both to document the reaction of the nanites and to make sure that everything's going smoothly, no pun intended. So far, so good. "Halfway through, implementing cleansing phase."

Just breathe.. just breathe.. she was breathing, right? Her head was starting to hurt, all of the data and information being spread along the little machines within her body were working in overdrive. That process that started with them dying and rebirthing themselves causes a great deal of pain, one that causes fingers to clench hard against the metal that nearly bends with the weight of her fingers.

"You're not helping.." She hisses out, trying her best not to put herself into a panic. But her chest was feeling tight, as if someone were squeezing her ribs to the point of constriction.

"Stop the upload.." She grunts out, her eyes nearly bugging out of her head, her body soon set to twisting as she drags her feet along the table.. something to keep her still. "Stop the upload.. I gotta throw up! STOP THE UPLOAD!"

Bruce Banner moves quickly, pressing his hand down in the center of her chest to push her down, "No," he says simply, "You need this, regardless of how unpleasant the treatment itself is. You have to place your trust in me. I'm monitoring your health, you are responding well. The trouble is all in your mind," he says.

While he's obviously not nearly as strong as his alter ego, Bruce shows himself to be at least in decent shape, living off the grid having forced him to keep in decent shape if only to make sure he could always keep running. He's also, though, having to maintain his own state of mind - he finds her refusal to cooperate frustrating and he can't let his frustration get out of hand. Frustration, for him, can have consequences.

Melody's back arches hard against his chest, the alarms ringing loudly as her heart begins the rapid beating, the metal beneath her fingers groaning as she draws her hands away to try to grasp and pry at Bruce's arm. "TURN IT OFF!" She shrieks out, her feet kicking wildly, banging hard against the metals as she tries to twist from beneath his grasp.

Her strength was displaced, where her hands would need the strength to tug him away, it falls to her feet, back-kicking dents into the table, her head knocking back and forth as she gives one last hard arch.. her fingers tensing, feet dragging.. and soon she goes limp.

As well as the oxygen module and the heart monitor.. it all goes flat.

Bruce Banner swears under his breath, weathering the storm of her kicking and thrashing, only to feel something close to panic when she shuts down. "Focus, Banner, focus," he says, biting his bottom lip to shut down the spirals of his depression as he reaches over and starts to follow procedure. He grabs the epipen, jabbing it quickly into the center of her chest, driving the needle deep until he pumps adrenaline right into her heart. He leaves the tool sticking up out of her breast as he reaches up and grabs the paddles, quickly flicking the switch to charge them.

He doesn't shout clear because it's only him there and he's not an idiot, just applying the charge in quick, measured jolts, rapidly checking her vitals after each shock…

The glow within her body pulses as her body shuts down, her skin tightening for just a moment, then slowly beginning to lax. It was almost like rubber, which soon heats into melting, almost giving the notion that she was attempting to melt right there upon the table. It was horrid really, but her skin slowly works to reform, tightening against her bone yet again as her chest was pierced through with adrenaline.


The shock of the paddles scramble her nanites, kicking them into overdrive as she takes a sharp breath, her eyes snapping open as she tries to sit up, her arms flailing almost maniacally as she quickly rolls upon her side to vomit.

Kinda nasty really.

There was an uneaten pea in all of that goop.

Bruce Banner turns away, focusing on placing the paddles away and making his way over to the laptop, keeping his mind focused on the work. In truth, he's always had a relatively strong constitution anyway - perform enough dissections and it becomes second nature. A little vomit wasn't anything to him.

"Believe it or not, things look relatively optimal. Your system was more deeply compromised than we suspected - the Smooth is a rather potent brew - but the purge is complete," he says, "In more ways than one," he says.

"I'm going to get some paper towels…and a glass of water."

Melody coughs, one hand drawing up to press the back of her hand against her mouth as she flops down upon the table, her eyes remaining closed as the tears stream from her eyes, the glow within her skin subsiding to it's normal hue as the nanites quietly work within the backdrop. Their functions remain the same; healing the cancer within, but now repurposed to add defenses to her immunity, as well as the effects of paraphenelia that would plague her system.

Old nanites recycled, eaten.. newlings sprung in their place.. and it all makes her stomach turn. It was like being in chemo all over again, without the loss of hair.

"And a bucket.." She rasps out, not moving nor looking in his direction.

Bruce Banner returns, setting the glass of water aside and pulling the mop and bucket along with him, a large yellow thing on wheels. "Feel free to cry havoc and let loose the bowels of war," he says.

He sits down and resumes his data analysis, continuing to get feedback from the nanites for the moment, "Do you want me to edit anything out of the data I send to your father?' he says.

Melody shakes her head as she slowly sits up, her fingers still grasping parts of the bent metal, her head hung low as she feels her temperature rising. She was becoming feverish, and the water was actually a bit of help as she takes it and drinks it all in one go. Bleh. Vomit water.

When the notion of her dad comes up, she frowns a little, finally looking up towards him as she lets out a little breath. Should she say that he probably could have been watching the entire time? It almost goes without saying. She was sure, Catwoman tapped into her feeds a very, very long time ago.

Bruce Banner shrugs and does as he sees fit, then, only removing the bits of code he considers his own proprietary innovations. No need to just hand out his own genius. "From here on out, not only should you be free of craving, but it's likely that the substance itself would no longer even affect you. You could take it and your body would simply purge it out, although you'd likely have some lovely night sweats and another round of vomiting for the experiment," he says.

"But otherwise…you should be cured."

It was expected really, scientists usually only share their work when they're together and working upon the same thing; or unless there was a think tank. Her father was apart of one of the worst think tanks in american hist..

"We need to test it.." She murmurs quietly, drawing down from the table to grab up the bucket, putting it where she once sat so that she could at least have some leverage over her dry heaves.

It still hurt, everything did, but she pushed through it to stand and rest her chin upon the edge of the bucket.

"You need to go out and get me some Smooth.."

Was that the addict talking?

Bruce Banner shakes his head, "No. Because there is no need for you to subject yourself to it. The urge to take it shall pass. Unless it is forced upon you again - in which case, if it does not work, we'd have to find a workaround regardless - then there's no need to stress your system with another forced purge."

"Not to mention that, while I have a lovely source for medicinal cannabis, I'd have to deal with an unfortunate criminal element to acquire Smooth. In my experience, men such as me are like red capes to bulls with such people - they can't help but feel the need to bully, to intimidate, to try and remind me of their physical superiority. They hate nerds," he says.

"And then they'll end up dead. I'd rather not deal with the guilt."

"I can—.." 'HURG!'

Melody was losing her chunks all over again, her body a slight hitch as she lifts her toes from the ground, filling a small amount of the bucket with bile as she continues to sweat. It was like she was going through a rapid paced withdrawl, something that she herself didn't anticipate. There was hope that it would be a one and done situation, but that wasn't the case.

"I can handle it.." She bleh's out, her body soon set to shivering as she takes a napkin to dab away at her face, the color slowly, very slowy draining from her face.

"Just let me go out there and you keep watch. I'm already feeling like shit, and I'm sure it'll transcend to my overall looks."

It's true. Melody looked like.. wait a minute..

Her hand reaches up to snatch the needle from her chest, giving it a weird look as she tosses it aside. "The fuck, Bruce Goose.."

Bruce Banner raises an eyebrow, "A necessity to kickstart your heart, as they say. And I'm afraid I still must strongly object. Why do you feel the need? You're free of the addiction - why would you be subjected to it again? Were you planning to take it again all along?" he says, narrowing his eyes in irritation. "I don't understand this insistence."

Melody slowly begins to peel the tape from her skin, taking in a few breaths as she does, even as some of them slide off of her arms like butter melted. "I feel the need because I won't ever be rid of this.. I'm still diseased. I'm still an addict. It's never, ever going to go away." She looked on edge, but she tries to ease herself down, her fingers dragging through her hair, even tangling a bit until she rips her fingers clean.

"No. I wasn't planning on taking it.." Yes, in some ways she was. "I .. I just want to find Shift. And.. I couldn't do it without it."

Bruce Banner sighs, "I have to think there was a more effective way to find Shift than subjecting yourself to chemical self-abuse," he sighs. "And there has to be another way going forward. If you're always going to be an addict, as you say, then you always will and giving yourself leeway to put yourself to the test is only an excuse to allow for failures that are predetermined only if you choose them to be," he says.

"As for Shift…I said that I would help you find him. And I will."

"The…" Melody starts, her teeth gritting as she faces the bucket again. She was ready to blow chunks, but she didn't. There was a lingering pause as she slowly crawls herself back upon the table, laying upon her side as her body begins its descent into shivering madness.

"Was.. when I.. first got.." Her teeth were chittering and chattering, her eyes closing to focus.

"..He came to me.. no.. I came to him.. I tried to get him killed.." She tries her best to explain, even through the trembling. "Sm..smooth helped.. or didn't.. it.. tore down what.. what made me inheritly good." And it allowed her to do bad. It allowed her the freedom to think and not feel the consequence. It allowed her to do /without/ thinking at all.

"I.. I can't.. shut down. It.. its hard to know .. that I do wrong.. and I ca.. can't sleep."

Bruce Banner shifts slightly, a little uncomfortable. He feels as though he should comfort her in some way, but he hardly knows how to do such a thing. He finds himself reaching out and, awkwardly, putting a hand on her shoulder, "Morality isn't a simple matter of black and white, Melody. No one knows this better than I."

"What I have known of you, I have seen that, whatever your methods, your aims have usually been, if not true, at least productive and for the general good. Now, getting Shift killed sounds bad, but, on the other hand, Shift tried to kill me the first time I saw him…or, at the very least, knock me out. These things happen, among our…set."

If anyone knows Awkward, its Melody. She was born from awkwardness, tossed in the life of what the fuck, set on the path of who the hell? and let loose into the world of Oh my god, no she didn't. So a little comfort, it was welcomed. Her eyes close a bit, her arms drawing up to hug herself tightly, "We're all just.."

She coughs a little, the paler she had gotten the more sick she felt. "..mad in some way.."

Bruce Banner laughs a bit, "Yes, some of us more than others," he said. "I think I've got you beaten on that front, at the very least." he says. "Before you subject yourself to any serious experimentation, might I suggest a cooldown period? Rest, food, a bit of recharging, rather than charging recklessly headlong into the teeth of terror? Not to mention whatever particularly noxious gang deals in this substance. And, in the meantime, you can fill me in fully on just what leads we have on Shift's whereabouts…and I'll apply my mind to solving the dilemma."

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