(2014-12-03) Questioning the General
Questioning the General
Summary: Batwoman questions General Wade Eiling.
Date: 2014-12-03
Related: Project: Rebirth
NPCs: General Wade Eiling, USAF; Colonel Kane
Scene Runner: Power Woman
Social/Plot: Plot

Darkness. Darkness and chill are what General Eiling awakens to when he finally regains consciousness. There's no sense of time or space just now, only the dampness of the room and the steel chair he's secured to. Yes, add the chair to the list. And the straps that are binding his forearms to the armrests, his calves to the chair legs. It's secured quite solidly to the concrete floor, should he check. Yes, his feet are bare and he's wearing whatever he had on before bed when he was captured. He isn't starving or dehydrated, so he either hasn't been here long or his needs have been somehow tended to.

The sliver of light is blinding when the door opens, closing suddenly with a click to return the room to darkness once more. He might hear footsteps or the soft swishing of garments before a female voice addresses him, low and almost husky. "Hello, dead man. Time for us to have a little chat."

General Wade Eiling, USAF, is not a small or a weak man. He has been an active service member of his country's armed forces for almost his entire adult life, well beyond a mere thirty years. Spring chicken he is not, but he is fit, strong, and quite healthy for his age. Some would see him as a bit of an anomaly, in a service better known for slim, lightweight fighter jocks and modern day joystick jockeys. But he has been the pointy end of his nation's spear of defense for a long time. Things change. But the need for hard, strong men never goes away.

He's also old enough that Wade still thinks in terms of 'men', despite the fact he very much respects women in the service; they're still not his instinct.

Wade doesn't open his eyes right away. He shifts minimally, experimenting, divining everything he can about his own condition, the bonds securing him, the security of the chair, the room and more before really giving himself away. After all, he remembers what was happening before he went out. He knows he's in trouble, and he has to figure out how much trouble. Fast. But eventually, he slits his eyes open and takes in the space. He isn't sweating. He expects this. After all, this is how it's done. This is page one of the book on enhanced interrogation techniques he has written, and followed countless times.

Dead man? Eiling doesn't move except to breathe as the woman enters, and makes her play. He doesn't even snort in derision, though he thinks about it. He can make a pretty good guess which of them this is. They know less about the female Bat than they do about some of the others. But they know enough that he's less afraid. Less afraid than maybe he should be? Could be. But what's done is done.

"Dead man? You don't know your allies very well, lady Bat. They won't let you kill me. It would ruin their public relations campaign. They're far too weak to let you do that to me, no matter how bad you want it. How soon before they hang you out to be snatched up and arrested? Kidnapping a General on active duty and assignment for the United States government? How soon, you think, before nukes start aiming at your clubhouse?" Wade Eiling is a hard, strong man. And he makes that clear. In spite of it all, he's too damned honest not to.

The blow comes out of the darkness, crashing across his right cheek hard enough to make him see stars. Another follows quickly, before he's even recovered from the sting of the first. A fist wrapped in reinforced leather, if he's paying attention, and delivered by someone who definitely knows how to throw a punch. As he's recovering his senses she speaks again, calm and emotionless as before.

"Wrong answer, Mister Eiling." she replies. Mister, not General. "And you don't *have* any allies. Not anymore." A firm hand grasps his wrist… he's been bound with palms facing up… and a sprinkling of cold metal bits is poured onto his hand. "These are five-point-five six millimeter high-velocity slugs that I picked out of my bodyarmor. They were intended for you, not me. You're just lucky that I was in the way." She waits a moment before continuing. "You've been disavowed, Mister Eiling. Nobody knows where this little bunker is, so there's really no point in tossing nukes around." Okay, so she's lying about the bunker. "And even if I were to let you go *your* government wouldn't let you live to see another sunrise." She paues again. "Shall we continue?"

The blows are hard enough to break skin as his lips are driven against his teeth, and blood mixed with spittle oozes from his mouth as he grimaces. Or is that a smirk?

"Try again, sweetheart. I've been prepared to pay that price for the service of my country for longer than you've been alive. Of course that man fired those slugs at you regardless of my position: That's what I trained him to do. That's what my explicit, written orders in his file COMMAND him to do." Eiling growls out, apparently unmoved. How much of that is real? How much of that is the image of who he is supposed to be, the persona he's been inhabiting all that time? Would it make a difference?

Silence. Utter and complete silence fills the dark room when his words stop. The voice is close to his ear when she speaks again, soft and intimate like a lover. "Your men have been trained to follow orders; of course they have. All that means is that your end-game is a quick death. Congratulations." There's a few moments of silence, and then her voice comes from across the room.

"I know you're familiar with torture and interrogation techniques, Mister Eiling, so I won't be wasting any time with that. I want to know about an organization you founded called PAIN. And dispite what you think of my allies, I have all the latitude I need to make things extremely unpleasant for you until you tell me."

"Sweetheart, do you really think failing to address me properly is going to make me respect you? Or question myself? The name is Eiling, Wade G. General, United States Air Force. Service number One-Seven-Niner-Zero-Zero-Niner-Two-Four-Three." Eiling doesn't question the rest. His point, whatever it is, has already been made. Or at least so he believes.

There's a soft click and red light fills the small chamber. Batwoman is standing directly before him now, drawn up to her full height before the seated, bound man. Hands on her hips with cape furled back, he sees the punch she throws this time but there's no way he can dodge it.

Once across his undamaged cheek, and when his head snaps to the side from the blow she lunges in close to deliver another into his solar plexus with her full weight behind it.

It's enough to drive the breath from his body, and as she rises she continues the casual conversation. "Respect is earned, and the way you can earn mine is by telling me what I want to know. I'm familiar with your name, former rank, and service record. Tell me about the Prevention of Alien Incursion and Neutralization project."

It takes a bit for Eiling to recover. Coughing, wheezing, but he does not show any more weakness than he must, and in spite of the pain, his gaze does not flinch. "Current rank. Till the day I die, and beyond. Earned by decades of service, something the like of you capes wouldn't know a thing about." Or so he believes. "If you know to ask about it, you already know more than you should. I won't be telling tales out of class. That would make me a traitor." Something General Wade Eiling is not and never shall be.

Batwoman leans in, resting a boot on the seat of his chair between his knees. "Oh, I know the song alright. '…I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.' Is that close?"

She pauses for a moment, having sworn a very similar oath herself, resting an elbow on her knee as she leans in closer. "Are you ready to die, Wade? Today? See, you're way off the reservation right now, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice no longer applies. Less than two minutes after you stick your head out in the daylight, some loyal, brave military sniper is going to decorate the sidewalk with your brains. I know you're tough and I know you've got a spotless service record. Your country already considers you too dangerous to live. So what're you going to do about it?"

A voice, silent until now, speaks in Batwoman's ear, unheard by any save her. "He's a pro, a hard nut old soldier, and a zealot. Psych profile says he'll never give it up. Best bet would usually be either to trick him into giving up something by reaction to a surprising bit of intel, or really long-term hammering and detailed analysis of minutiae for micro-expressions and cues." Most of that, she already knows. But it's the colonel's job to offer whatevr insight he can.

Eiling nods firmly - one might almost say savagely - in response to the quoted oath. When she asks - and without assaulting him further, he actually deigns to respond. "Yes. I am ready to die. This day. Any day. The SEALs made it famous, but it's a truth: The only easy day was yesterday. If my country requires my death, to assure her safety, then I give it, and gladly. Period."

Another voice sounds from Kate's other ear. "I can't think of anything better to suggest, beyond hitting him with the conflict of his actions: Kidnapping and torturing children, citizens of the United States, whom he is sworn to protect. I have no idea what else to try, to break him. He is … everything we thought he was, and more." Kara's voice is soft, even a little uncertain. Watching that kind of zealous faith can be humbling, and make even the most righteous doubt or worry in their conflict.

Time for another tack indeed. Batwoman nods only a little, acknowledging the voices in her head, but she may as well be acknowledging the General's response as well. The booted foot pushes off of his chair and the cape swirls as she turns to step away from him. "Yes, yes. Always the good soldier, weren't you?" she replies in agreement. Turning to regard him in profile now, she folds her arms over her chest as she continues.

"What about the children, Wade? The children who YOU ordered kidnapped and tortured. Citizens of the country you love, citizens that you swore to protect. How many of THEM died, whose only crime was being born?" She pauses to watch his reaction before adding with rising intensity, almost hissing at him. "And don't you dare say you didn't know or you only gave the orders. As a General, you're responsible for everything that happens under your command. Tell me… how many American children did YOU kill in the cause of Freedom?"

Wade's answer isn't instant. There's a flinch around the eyes when she mentions dead children. But he does answer. And it isn't just name, rank and serial number. "Dozens, in Nam. Thousands, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds more elsewhere. And yes … dozens more, in labs." He shakes his head, slightly. "I'm not happy they're dead. But we needed that research, that intel, to fight the enemy. Enemies even /worse/ than your damned clubhouse friends, and /they're/ so damned bad … there aren't even words to describe the risk they represent to the world, and the US. My men now have the weapons they require to protect and defend this country against a threat on the scale … it ought to be goddamned /fiction/. And they're doing it. And dying in the doing. You think I can do any less?"

Batwoman turns slowly to face him, her expression impassive as he answers. "We were at war in Vietnam, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan." she replies succinctly. "We are *not* at war now, Sir." Her first acknowledgement of his rank today. "The Nazis tortured and killed children in labs, too. Only it didn't matter, because they were Jews. Or Gypsies. Or Catholics. They were threats to the State, so the work was *critical* to national security." She turns with a flourish and stalks towards him again, leaning in close with a balled fist raised high. "Are you a Nazi, General?"

Bleeding, Eiling still faces Batwoman unflinchingly, looking up through her at the fist without hesitation. "You know I'm not. And you know we /are/ at war. And that work /was/ and still /is/ vital to national security."

That's when she hits him. Closed-fisted, twice across the cheek as hard as she can. Drawing back, she takes a couple steps and then turns to point directly at him again. "Don't you DARE try to hide your Mengele mad-science experiments behind the Flag and the Constitution, Eiling. You put to *shame* every man and woman who ever wore the uniform when you do."

Relaxing slowly, she continues. "There were others on your team and I have their names on my list as well. Dr. Thomas Lightner, Dr. Anson Harkov, Dr. Dabney Donovan, and Dr. Jacqueline Kirby. Civilians. At least one of them will tell me what I need to know."

"You think so?" Eiling answers, spitting to clear the blood from his mouth. He stares at Batwoman, unflinching despite the pain, or the agony of the emotional content. He didn't lie, nor did he hold back his own pain over those acts. But neither will he bow beneath them. "We do what we have to do. And we suffer the consequences." It is, really, likely as far as he will go. It's enough to give them evidence that could ruin his career, and definitely shake up civilian authorities without the stomach for his acts. But he also is not wrong: the world is under attack, by murderous aliens. And the forces he has fielded, trained and equipped have been instrumental in defending the planet from those aliens.

Batwoman smiles at his reply, watching him spit blood. "You're a hardened soldier, Wade, trained to hold up under torture and interrogation. Much more, you're convinced that your misguided deeds are somehow justified by some righteous cause. Bully for you."

Easing back once more, she folds her arms over her chest. "But consider your position. You're only alive here until I release you so that the country you've so patriotically served can kill you. If you won't talk, that's fine. I *know* I can get the others to talk."

"Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. But you have to find them, first." Eiling responds, with a dark, intent gleam in his eyes. "You made your grab for me entirely too openly. They'll already have been moved, and secreted away. Not even your goddamned Kryptonian will be able to find them." At least, that's what Eiling thinks. Or what he's telling Batwoman, anyway.

And then one of those soft voices returns to Kate's ear. "I have something. I don't know if it will shake him enough to get more. But … it might be useful. We've cross-checked the data Black Knight was working on. We have what may be a possible location. It's … well. It freaks me out a bit." Power Woman takes a breath, and then continues. "Namibia. The only cross-checked location for weapons fire of their energy weapons, with no report of Mongo troopers in the area." It's useful intel. But that doesn't explain why Kara is upset by it. "Thing is … Namibia is right across the ocean, barely twelve miles away, from Genosha."

Batwoman smiles at that, folding arms beneath the cape. "You think so? It was -easy- to get you, Eiling, and you were all but locked away in a secure facility. Not unlike the facility where I found the files with your name on them, by the way." She turns again to pace a few steps away before looking back at him, listening to her headset. "Tell me something, Wade. How long has the US Government been supplying Namibia with energy weapons? Is that some new part of our foreign policy, or have we declared war on Genosha without bothering to tell anyone?"

"What?" comes that male voice over Batwoman's other ear. "Namibia? Are you serious?" The Colonel starts adding that information to his own efforts, looking for what else he can find.

Eiling flinches. It's subtle, only a microexpression, but Batwoman has been looking desperately for just that since all of this began. It's there; she landed that one home. He wasn't expecting that information. "War on Genosha? Are you insane? Not even an insane moron would start a war on two fronts. Sounds like bad intel to me." the General gets out, pretty smoothly. But the hint is there.

"Follow up on that one. I've got something, here. Tucked away in all those damned budget files we've been poring through, are payments to Namibia's government for a land lease. And this goes back over five years." the Colonel provides. "That implies to me these people were in connection with Genosha /before/ its recent change in management. There were rumors in the press about world corporations backing the old Genoshan government, but nothing was proven." Maybe because it wasn't /corporations/.

Batwoman's expression is impassive when Eiling flinches, although inwardly she knows she's got something to go on now. Only when he denies it as false does she allow a smile to touch those red lips. "Bad intel? What if I told you there's a documented history of payments to Namibia's government over the past five YEARS, all laundered through the usual channels of course." She pauses to step closer to him. "Doesn't that make you the least little bit curious?"

"Never been a bean counter." Eiling responds, calmly. He has himself under iron control again. He didn't give her Namibia, and he has no idea how she found it, but he's giving nothing more away. Yet he knows it's already too late.

"They weren't just experimenting on our own kids." the Colonel explains, the ire in his voice palpable. "The bastards only started doing that after their supply was cut off. When Genosha was freed, then they had to step up operations here at home to continue their research. That's just sick." As if the rest of this wasn't already, but the point has been made.

"I don't think he's going to give you anything more." Kara's voice offers. "But that should be enough. We need to field a mission to get down there, as soon as we can. A long-term base is almost sure to have the kind of intel files on site that we need to put this together and take it to the civilian authorities, to get them shut down." Idealist? Thy name is Power Woman.

Batwoman tilts her head a bit to one side, starlight lenses concealing the narrowing of her eyes at his reply. "So, for the record, you DO admit to experimenting on American kids as well as Genoshans. That's just *marvelous*, General." Yeah, his military career is already in the toilet, but this is rapidly expanding into a public relations nightmare. "And calling it sick now doesn't absolve you of the *responsibility*… You were responsible for the torture and deaths of innocents. You."

She turns, then, cape whirling as she stalks towards the door. "You give that some thought after I'm gone. And when I return, what you have to tell me may just determine whether you stay here a while longer or I duct-tape you to a lamp post with a bullseye on your forehead."

And still, Eiling just stares at her coldly, impassively, and says nothing. He's already said what he feels. But he has also already said he did what he did. He has never tried to absolve himself of responsibility. He never would. That's not the kind of man he is. He does the ugly things, the things everyone hates. The things that disgust any good, decent person. But he does them because, in his view, according to his orders, they need to be done. And then he just finds a way to face it, and makes his peace with the price he'll pay if there's a hereafter.

"A man is always responsible for his actions, and their consequences. Period. Even orders doesn't absolve a man. He does what has to be done, and he faces the consequences." he answers, finding a way to speak clearly despite the damage already done to his mouth.

Scariest thing is that the Colonel would agree with every word Eiling just said. That's what soldiers do. And Wade G Eiling, General, USAF, is a very good soldier.

Batwoman pauses with her hand on the doorknob, nodding once as he says the words she knows he's going to say even before they come out. Yes, Kate was raised military and trained military. She's not surprised. "I'm glad we agree on that, Sir." she replies, addressing him properly for the first time. "But I wonder whether CNN will be so understanding." Swishing the cape as she steps out the door, the red light goes out when it closes to leave him in darkness once more.

Speaking into her headset now, her strides quicken. "Negative on that, Power Woman, we keep civilian authorities OUT of this one. We find the site, then we *erase* it from the planet. If they've got beam weapons, that's fine. I know where we can get our hands on a LOT of C4…"

"We are not killing US soldiers, Batwoman." Power Woman responds. "We go. We get the evidence. We evacuate anyone being held against their will. We clear the place. If you want to destroy it then, fine. But we have to involve the authorities. At some point, we have to put a stop to this. And that's going to require getting the government involved to police itself." It's also going to require probably exposing all of this to the public through the press. But one damned thing at a time.

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