Monster-Scientist-Soldier-Spy

July 23, 2015:

Deathstroke finds Bruce Banner in his warehouse lair and makes him an offer that he might refuse.

Abandoned Warehouse, Brooklyn

A large, open warehouse space, with some stray crates around, with several large tables. Science stuff is strewn around, including some parts on a table, all of it makeshift, black market or stolen for Banner's use. The place smells of cigarettes, machine parts and day old pizza.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\#https://youtu.be/wyz_2DEah4o The A-Team themesong]


Fade In…

Bruce Banner has been squatting in this particular warehouse space for a few months. He moves around a lot, knowing that complacency makes him easier to find. SHIELD seems to have other priorities on its mind at the moment, but he's sure he's always on the radar to one degree or another. He's not exactly thankful to Hydra, but they certainly do keep the spy set distracted. And he's done well enough keeping the Hulk out of the public eye - he's only had a few eruptions over the last few months and no major disasters resulted, other than some cracked highway and some Purifiers who spent some serious time in the hospital.

Bruce wasn't exactly going to shed tears over those.

He's finished his work for the night, though, lighting up a cigarette and sighing to himself. He wonders where Melody's been lately - she hasn't been around much since Shift's death. He didn't want to bother her too much - it's not like he's particularly adept at comforting people in times of loss. But she is pretty much his only friend and, while he tries his best to pretend he doesn't care about that sort of thing, he's starting to feel a bit lonely.

"You know, I thought you'd be harder to find." comes a voice from the warehouse entrance, the door, which opened silently now closes loudly, kicked shut by the man walking inside. He's older, but not as old as the first impression would imply. The white hair ages him up, but his face is maybe 40ish, hard to tell. He's sporting the eye patch and peek-a-boo scars that sneak out from behind it that pretty much tell anyone with sense he's a badass. No one with an eye patch has ever turned out to be less in Bruce's circles. He's got 'military' stamped on his forehead, or at least ex, prolly not current though, not unless the Army's begun springing for $2,800 bespoke thigh length canvas and cotten jackets. The combat boots scream military, but the tailored slacks dont, nor does the fitted t-shirt that's clinging for it's dear life to the older man's torso. He walks in a large cup of coffee in each hand, heading straight for Bruce and doing nothing to hide the shoulder rig he's wearing, or the large rather intimidating looking knife sheathed on his hip under the coat. "White chocolate mocha," he says, holding up the steaming cardboard cup, "figured you for a whip guy so I had them toss that in there. Little chocolate shavings too. Everyone likes the shavings." he holds the coffee out to Bruce as he approaches, blowing gently into the hole on the top of his own cup.

Bruce Banner startles for a moment and slowly backs up, moving around behind one of his longer tables, one strewn with a bit of circuitry, as the strange man approaches with the coffee in hand. He narrows his eyes, watching warily, but mostly he's just trying to breathe. One. Two. Three. "If you know who I am, then you probably should know better than to take me off guard. If you were able to find me, I imagine you could've found the number of my burner phone as well. Taking me off guard like that is a good way to get hurt," he says softly.

"Which makes you either arrogant, reckless, capable or some combination of all of the above," he says. He reaches out and takes the coffee, "If you put anything in this, it might work for a while, but he tends to shrug off things like that if it comes down to brass tacks," he says.

"So, you were looking for me. You found me. What do you want?"

Slade Wilson smirks at Bruce, "Kid I'm not afraid of getting hurt." he says conversationly, "And stateling you was kinda the whole point." which is his not so subtle way of telling Bruce he's being tested. Openly. "Relax Banner, if I was going to do anything to you I wouldn't have announced myself first. Not my style." he moves over to one of the chairs around the table of tech bits and removes a spool of wire and a pair of cutters before plopping himself down without asking permission. He sips his coffee then and smacks his lips happily, "That is a loaded question Banner, I used to think I wanted money but I have that, then I thought I wanted saftey for my family, realized that wasn't entirely possible. Then I wanted to undo some mistakes in my past, that's only slightly easier then the saftey thing. What you should have asked is what do I want from you, and honestly that's what I'm still trying to decide." he leans back in the chair and for all intents and purposes really does appear to be as laid back and chill as if he were here to discuss local sporting team A. Actually, maybe more laid back, those guys get worked up.

Bruce Banner takes a sip of the coffee and pushes out a seat for himself, picking up his cigarette from the ashtray and drawing on it for a moment before he answers, "Well, one thing's for sure, you like to talk," he says simply.

He settles in and cocks his head for a moment, considering, "I guess, on the 'what do you want with me' front, the question is more which me do you want? Do you have a scientific issue that you need me to consult? Or are you looking to destroy something and want my less pleasant other half on hand for it? 'cause I'll warn you, he doesn't follow directions very well. Hell, neither do I, but I'm at least more polite about it."

Slade Wilson points a finger at Bruce, "And /that/ is the crux of my dilemma Banner, right there in a nutshell." he stares at Bruce, his blue eye pale and calculating, not unlike another one eyed man prone to wearing lots of military gear Bruce may have met. "I'm trying to decide which, if either, or both, of you would fit with my new experiment. I'm building something, it's dangerous, almost certainly going to get most of those involved killed, but it's important work. You were on my short list of recruits, the problem is that you're also on my short list of potential targets. You see the possibility for conflict here?"

Bruce Banner takes a long sip of his coffee before his answers, "Not sure whether you want to kill me or have me on your side? Yeah, that's not an unusual problem people have with me. I think the government's been wrestling with that one for a while. They mostly decided to compromise, I think, in wanting to stick me in a whole and try to make another me that they can control, though. Which is the sticking point for me. I'm okay with dying - my life isn't exactly delightful and I've tried kicking the bucket a few times on my own. Problem is, he doesn't want to die and I'm not sure that he could if he wanted to," he says.

"So I'd say you should tell me about this project of yours. If it's something I'd be interested in…then I can be a great help, if I want to be. But, if I don't want to be a part of it, there's really nothing you could do or say to persuade me. I'm not much subject to threat or bribery. So…lay it out. What exactly is it that you're doing?"

Slade Wilson snorts, "Everyone can die Banner, they hired me to off you once and I had a plan for it. You would not /believe/ the payday you were, but the contract was pulled a day before. Pity. I kinda wanted to see which of my backups would have worked if the first plan didn't." his eye glints a little as if the thought of the challenge was inspiring, but it dies down pretty quickly. "I'm pretty A Type personality, bit of a perfectionist, it's a character flaw." his tone suggests he doesn't actually think it is be he knows others do.

"I'm going to ask you a few questions real quick, see how you answer them and worst case senerio is I leave and you got free coffee out of the deal, best case maybe you get an invitation." he shrugs, "Work for you?"

Bruce Banner shrugs softly. He doesn't particularly care when he lives or dies and he doesn't actually have very much ego left anymore. Anytime he starts to feel any particularly great form of pride, he reminds himself that his greatest achievement turned him into a monster and resulted in mayhem, death and destruction. It keeps him humble, for the times when he starts to get too self-absorbed. Which, when you're a loner fugitive with virtually no friends, happens more often than not.

"Fine by me."

Slade Wilson nods and continues without preamble, "True or false, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Bruce Banner considers, "I don't like true and false questions. The world isn't particularly binary. But I'll go with a preponderance, so I would say true."

Slade Wilson says, "As a super hero a better use of my time would be spent A) Stopping a bank robbery, B) Ending an ethnic cleansing in a foreign land, C) Helping convince world leaders of the need for greater international cooperation on matters of true importance to us globally, or D) Making absolutely certain my newest spandex suit doesn't ride up in the crotch every time I throw a left hook because camel toe looks awful on Fox News.""

Bruce Banner snorts softly, "I don't consider myself a super hero, or even a hero by any stretch of the imagination. But B is the obvious and correct answer. Banks have insurance, politicians don't listen to anybody but people who pay them and I look like shit in spandex."

Slade Wilson smirks slightly, "Close but no cigar, that's okay, you've been trained to think a certain way, not your fault. Continuing: True or False, I believe that a group of people, some good, some broken, some lost, and some just greedy, if properly motivated, can do as much if not more good then a well meaning team of brightly colored press fiends as worried about the symbols they represent, aka their brand, as they are doing the right thing."

Bruce Banner chuckles, "Or we just disagree. For someone critical of people being trained to think in certain paths, that certainly sounded like one of the most loaded, directed questions I've heard in quite a while. But we'll play along and say true, much as I want to say False simply to be a contrarian.

Slade Wilson grins openly at that, "Lastly, I can be trusted. True, false."

Bruce Banner laughs, "Speaking of obvious answers, false, all around, for you, for me, period."

Slade Wilson shakes his head and sips his coffee still, "That's where you're wrong. I always keep my promises. Always." he says firmly, and it's said in a tone that says suggesting otherwise is the sort of thing he'll take as an insult. "But we'll forgive that one. By the way, the correct answer was B and C, though you chose the more important of the two." he drinks the coffee in silence for awhile after that, "Okay, here's the truth. I could use a scientist and I could use a heavy. I have one on the squad already, given time, training, the requirement for her to get her head on straight, she could be legit, the real deal. Shit Banner, she could be Wonder Woman, but that's a long way off. Until that time comes, I could use raw power… but not power I can't directly. I'm a scalpel, not a broadsword, I intend to use my team the same way, unless of course the time comes where a statement must be made loudly and leaving no questions." he sighs and leans forward on the table, pushing his half used coffee to the side. "Okay, so here's the deal."

Bruce Banner listens, but doesn't interject much at the moment. He hasn't really heard an offer or very much beyond a few vague points. As for the 'I always keep my promises' thing, well, he can be insulted all he likes. Nothing says "I might be a liar" faster than the declaration of "I never lie". Just one of those quirks of human nature, methinks thou dost protest too much and all that. And he sees no need to make an argument for himself - this isn't a job interview, it's a potential recruitment.

"I'm listening." he says

Slade Wilson fixes Banner with an even gaze and all the joviality drains from the man and his work face comes into focus. And focus is a good word to describe it, "I've spent my career, which is impressive in a way few men you have ever met could match, killing people for money. First it was people the US Government wanted me to kill, and like a good soldier I went where they said, shot the people they said, collected a check for the job. We had a falling out and I quit, did the same thing. I'm no saint and I make no bones about what I am, I kill people for money. Most of the people I've killed have had it coming, if you're willing to pay my fee then it's likely you did something to deserve it. But not always, I've got red on my hands. Events of years past made me angry and I channeled that rage into my work. There are a lot of people who're good at their job Banner, but believe me when I tell you I am the best killer on this rock. I worked /very/ hard to get there. Funny thing though, it's just not what it used to be. Maybe I'm getting old, but I'm looking around and I'm seeing a thousand new superheroes every day, and I remember when there weren't any at all, not really. And so far, all these heroes? They're not making a difference. Sure, stop a bank robbery, sure, stop a serial killer, and that's well and good. Have you ever been to Casnia? No? Allow me to tell you about it, it's a shithole, the hemorrhoid left on the rectum of the fallen Soviet states. You know what Superman doesn't do? Go save the Casnian people from death squads. Never seen Captain America in Africa hunting down Boko Haram, why would he? When he could be here in this overly policed rich white people land protecting it's already well protected populace." he sighs, "Dammit, I'm getting preachy. I fucking hate that."

He leans back in his chair, "There are real problems out there, most of these problems are caused by a single thing, lack of consequences. Most of the time this comes from to much power concentrated in a single location, be it a company, a man, a metahuman, doesn't matter. My team? We're going to be the consequences. You rob a bank? I don't give a shit, hell, there's likely going to be bank robbers on my squad. Murderers too, because hard as it sounds, I don't care about the single murder, I care about the genocide." he offers a little conciliatory nod, "Of course, you kill a president aiming to start a war I care, but you I'm sure you're smart enough to parse out what I'm saying. There's a world out there with rights to be wronged, most of these are perpetrated by villains, some mundane, some super, but villains none the less. Some are perpetrated by heroes, careless acts of unmitigated power that cause horrific devastation and done because it was the 'easy' way out of a tough situation. Like perhaps blowing up a Helicarrier without knowing if there were innocents aboard." he draws an 'S' symbol in the air with his finger, "For instance." he stares at Banner, "Or turning into a giant green engine of destruction and cutting yourself loose in a town in Montana cause some mean bully from the Army came and popped a few 7.62 your direction. Hence my dilemma. Recruitment," he holds up one hand, "target." he holds up the other and makes the universal 'weighing' motion.

Bruce Banner considers, 'If you think killing people is something that I find impressive, you have a rather poor estimate of what it is that impresses me," he says softly.

He lights a fresh cigarette and considers the statement for a long, long moment, "I don't think I like you very much. I'll put that plainly. I haven't ever gotten along with military men and I don't see how you'd be any different. But…" he says, and he holds up a finger.

"I agree with you about the state of the affairs. The cape and mask set is easily distracted by bright and shiny objects. And, more often, distracted by bright and garish personalities, the madmen and so-called villains who beg for attention and pick fights on purpose so they can get on television before they get locked up in whatever padded cell suits them best," he sighs.

"As for the Hulk…" he considers, "No one regrets more than I…the things that it's done. But I have been thinking, hard and long, about ways to put it to good use. To send it after the ethings the needs sending after. And, if you and your…group…could provide the means to do that…I would consider doing so." he says, in a measured way.

"But you're right, the Hulk is not a precision instrument. If it were to be used in the field…you would need to pick your spot. Like a high explosive. You wouldn't necessarily send me in on everything. But I'm still one of the greatest scientists in the world, when I have my wits about me…" he says. And that isn't a matter of ego, that's just fact. He has the testimonials and accolades to prove it.

Slade Wilson meets Bruce's gaze, "I'm not like any military man you've ever met, /that/ much I can guarantee…" he pauses, "There was a time maybe, when I was to be like Rogers, but we served two very different Americas in two very different wars. 'It might have been' and all that. I'm not trying to impress you Banner, I'm being honest with you about who I am. I know you, I know things about you you can't learn on TV or from the news, but you don't know me. So I'm telling you who I am so you hear it from me first. Like me, don't, I don't care." his shoulders bob once.

"I could use your brain, I could use the Hulk, but there are conditions I'm not sure you can live with. First off, when you're working on the job, my word is law. I don't negotiate, I don't compromise, not ever. Accept that if I ask you to do something, it's because I know things you do not know, that I have a reason for what I'm asking you to do. I keep information compartmentalized, not all of it, but some, to protect both others in the squad and the mission as a whole. You will never know everything, period. In the field you cannot guarantee the Hulk's following of orders, I get that, it's likely the reason I will try my damnedest to never use him. But you Bruce, you're not good at following orders. It's a problem."

Bruce Banner considers for a moment and leans back, "In the past, when I've had men - largely military men, but of a different stripe, you say - telling me what to do, they've lied to me. Consistently, regularly, almost without fail. I understand discretion, secrecy, compartmentalization. I didn't get my security clearance, which was once upon a time as high as a civilian scientist can get in the United States, because I didn't recognize how procedure worked."

"But once my trust is broken, any willingness I have to do as I'm told goes out the window. And if I'm asked to do something I know to be absolutely wrong - then yes, I'm going to dispute it. I can give my loyalty, but I will not sell…well, I won't say my soul because I don't particularly believe in such nonsense, but my self-regard. My integrity. It may mean nothing to you or anyone who works with you, but it has been the only thing I'm left."

"I don't obey blindly, no, but I'm also not particularly squeamish or unwiling to do what needs to be done. I would probably even follow an order I thought to be ill-informed or stupid, although I doubt I would be quiet about it. But don't lie to me. And don't try to make me any more of a monster tha I already am."

Slade Wilson meets Bruce's gaze evenly, "I don't make monsters Dr. Banner, but I will use them if I believe it's necessary. I'm not a good man and I'm not even a nice man, and I lie, a lot, in the course of what needs to be done. I won't lie to you if that's what you require of me, but that means there are times you may ask for an explanation or a reason and I will just tell you no. I won't lie to you, but I will keep you in the dark if I think it's necessary. If you can live with all of this, if you think you can function within my rules, if you believe in the cause, then I can give you something no one else can."

Bruce Banner shrugs, "I can live with the answer being 'no'. I can live with that a lot better than bullshit, that's for damn sure. Like I said, I understand the necessities of discretion - I just don't like being a puppet. But having a boss is part of having a job to do - I never had a head for business. I'm not a very good boss. But I can't help but be who I am at the same time. I can give you my best. If that's not good enough, well, we can always part ways, pretend it never happened and you can try to kill me at your leisure."

Slade Wilson shrugs, "I don't need you to be who you are, I need you to be better. Dr. Banner, what I'm proposing will put us in direct conflict with the most powerful people in the world. You've had your issues with the military, but we're talking about something bigger. Whatever your best is, we're going to need you to push that limit. If it's any help I can promise you this much, in our headquarters, no one can find you. You can stop looking over your shoulder, focus."

Bruce Banner lights another cigarette off its predecessor, blowing smoke into the air. He considers for a long time and then shrugs, "Sure, why not? As you point out, I don't really have anything to lose." He doesn't comment on the better-best discussion. Again, he isn't particularly egotistical these days and, if what he does isn't good enough, he's certain Slade won't exactly be shy about saying as much. And if the killer underestimates him along the way? Well, that's useful, too.

Slade Wilson pushes himself to his feet, "We all have plenty to lose Banner, I'd figure you for the sort to have learned that by now." he nods at the coffee, "Under the cardboard sleeve there's a number, when you've set your affairs in order give it a call, I'll have someone pick you up. Heads up? It'll be startling, so uh… keep your green in your pants."

Bruce Banner looks levelly up at Slade and nods, "I'll be ready," he says. He can already tell he's going to have to learn to ignore the soldier on occasion, but that's okay. He's always been good at ignoring people. The chance to do some good? Well, he's been looking for that for a while. Maybe this'll be it. Maybe it's not. But it's better than handing himself over to the government and hoping they mean well.

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