A Shield Is A Symbol


elisabeth_icon.gif hart_icon.gif modi_icon.gif wilson_icon.gif

Scene Title A Shield is a Symbol
Synopsis It's a day in the life of SCOUT, and a case coming to a life all its own.
Date July 27, 2019

“I’m sure you are, c’mon. Let’s get you booked in.”

From the moment Elisabeth Harrison sets foot in the Watchtower building, she is assailed by the sights and sounds of a world she thought was gone forever.

“I’m sorry, ma’am? No, we haven’t had any other reports but we’ll have someone from Yamagato Public Works out there to check on the gas line.”

Through the double doors that divide it from the outside world, the bullpen of the Watchtower’s ground floor office is not only like stepping back into familiar shoes, but like stepping back in time. The technological anachronisms of land-line phones, physical paperwork, rotary fans buzzing to keep the building cool in lieu of proper air conditioning, and the noise of hundreds of police officers and citizens is intoxicating to her sense of nostalgia.

“Okay hold on one second. Yeah? You say she just took your phone and disappeared? When was this?”

Walking between the aisles of desks pushed into pairs, Elisabeth can feel the eyes of the NYPD on her. The rank-and-file detectives, the patrol officers, the perps they’ve brought in for questioning, the people here to look for help. Those who know who she is cradle their impressions of her close to the chest, those who don’t only see another police officer, one carrying a badge different than ninety percent of the officers here. Because her shield is a symbol, not just of the NYPD, but of the world they live in.

“I’m sorry ma’am but we can’t stop the boy from selling water just because he’s an Expressive.”

The world she fought to return to.

The Watchtower

Red Hook, NYC Safe Zone

July 27th

5:19 pm

Upstairs, the offices of NYPD-SCOUT are a far cry from the commotion of the bullpen. The small number of active precincts mean that each and every one is overburdened with work while the new police force is properly trained up. The one thing Mayor Short is assuring is that this won’t be a rush job, that unqualified officers won’t be on the streets. The organization can’t risk that kind of failure. But SCOUT is held to an entirely different, entirely higher, standard.

Three points.

One would imagine.

Detective Harrison.” Captain Wilson clears his throat when he says Elisabeth’s name, turning around while holding a waste basket in his hand filled with balled up paper. He’s grimacing, in that mixture of guilty and amused way of his, in that there’s an explanation for this manner.

Halfway across the office, Sarah Hart is standing on her toes with one hand clutched at her chest and a guilty smile on her face. Sergeant Modi is sitting at his desk, looking up from his laptop with a crooked smile as he flicks dark eyes back and forth from Elisabeth to Captain Wilson.

“We’re taking a break, Captain’s orders,” Hart says with a flush of color to her cheeks. “Care to test your 3-point shot?” Her brows rise and Wilson can’t help but laugh.

She made a point of acknowledging with a nod and smile anyone who met her eyes downstairs, though Elisabeth is a little … maybe nervous isn't the right word for it. It's more like anticipation. Getting back to something resembling what used to be 'normal' appeals to her.

As she steps into the impromptu wastebasket game, she can't help but grin. "I dunno — pretty sure my tossing skills suck eggs," Liz replies easily. But there's a shrug and she moves over to join Sarah. Eying the Captain, she teases, "Don't you pull that basket out of the way at the last second, Charlie Brown." Sure, it was Lucy who did that with the football, but she can't call him Lucy — that's Kaylee's moniker!

She holds a hand out to Sarah in silent request for the next ball of paper… and when she pitches it toward the wastebasket, it's high and bounces off Wilson's chin. Elisabeth grin is cheeky. She might have pitched high on purpose.

Everyone bursts out laughing in response, and Wilson bends down to pick up the paper and drop it into the basket. “If the Knicks ever come back,” he says with a crooked smile, “I won’t worry about them poaching you from us.” That much elicits a snorted laugh from Modi, who looks up from his paperwork and shakes his head with a smile.

“Alright everyone,” Captain Wilson finally starts winding down, “let’s get back to work. Hart, can you update Harrison on the Zeitgeist case?” Hart nods, moving over to her desk to pick up a file folder and then starts in the direction of Elisabeth’s office. At the same time, Modi sets down what he was doing and picks up a small tablet and moves to follow Hart.

Elisabeth’s day was about to get busier.

Elisabeth spreads her hands wide and gives Wilson a 'sorry, not sorry' kind of grin. "Ah well, guess I'll just have to go back on stage instead. So much for dreams of being an athlete," she retorts easily. She genuinely likes the team that is building here and it shows when she winks at her boss, laughing.

Turning on one heel, the audiokinetic heads for her office with a theatrical roll of her eyes. "Whatcha got for me, guys?" she asks as she goes around her desk and drops into the chair, holding out her hand for the folder so she can skim it while they update her.

Elisabeth can see Wilson walking into his office through her partly-blinded windows, leaving the SCOUT bullpen empty. Modi and Hart come to sit on the far side of Elisabeth’s desk, and Modi turns his tablet on to look over a document. “There’s been rumors of a designer drug moving around the Safe Zone. Sellers appear to be Chinese triad — Ghost Shadows — who we know are operating out of Staten Island. Sellers are targeting upper one-percent clients, usually white, strictly through well-known interpersonal channels.”

Modi offers a look over at Hart, who opens her paper documents. “It’s called Zeitgeist on the street,” she says, taking out a paperclipped dossier of a SESA report filed by one Agent Cesar Diaz. Hart slides it across Elisabeth’s desk. “SESA first got word of the drug making it’s way out onto the streets a couple months ago and sent an undercover officer to infiltrate a sampling at a club downtown.”

Hart threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear and leans forward, motioning to the eighth paragraph in the report. “Diaz says that a handful of primarily young, wealthy prospective clients were brought in to a room by a dealer. They were exposed to a form of what Diaz described as aerosolized Refrain. He didn’t experience the drug, but claimed that both Expressives and Non-Expressives alike were affected, which… as far as we know Refrain doesn’t do much of anything for people without the Suresh Linkage Complex.”

“Since then,” Modi chimes in, “we’ve had only one other report of a Zeitgeist deal made at the New York Mariott across from the King’s County Supreme Court in Red Hook. SESA had two agents following the known dealer, who went into the hotel and emerged about an hour later. They followed him by car out of the Safe Zone about as far as the only known land route to Staten Island when they backed off.”

Elisabeth's eyes skim the documents while they talk. "You know… Refrain was bad enough." She sighs as she remembers those investigations. "Does this report from Diaz include names of the people who experienced the shit? Interviews? Anything we can actually use to track down a dealer or a location?" she asks the question even as she reaches to also take the tablet and skim its contents. And her expression is thoughtful, as if an idea is forming in her head, though she doesn't volunteer it as yet.

Modi and Hart look at each other pointedly, then nod in awkward unison. “SESA got a hold of the security tape from the club where the sampling was done,” Modi explains, looking to Hart for an elaboration.

“They were able to identify three people,” Hart says, removing three separate dossiers. “Each of them have been followed and observed by SESA since, and none of them have made any attempt to reconnect with the seller.” As the files are laid down, Elisabeth recognizes two of them immediately.

“Rue Lancaster, 31, Wolfhound intelligence officer. Registered Non-Expressive.” Hart lays that file down first, glancing to Modi before looking back to Elisabeth. “Amelie Laurent, 31, bears a strong resemblance to the late Remi Davignon,” for reasons only Elisabeth knows in truth. “Registered Evolved, Class-B Mental, Tactile Mnemokinesis.” She then lays the third dossier down, “Tibby Ole Naidu, 29, Registered Evolved Class-U, Unmanifested. Naidu is a South African immigrant, past history of felonies associated with smuggling. We think she lives on Staten Island, the others have registered addresses.”

Riiiiight. Because of fucking course if there are drugs on the loose, Remi's in the middle of it. Mother fucker. Elisabeth's expression never changes from the image of attentive listening even as she mentally curses in two languages.

"Given the ties we currently have in Wolfhound, Lancaster could probably be approached easily… she may tell what she knows in exchange for no charges being levied." Pursing her lips, she ponders. "If Diaz is already hip-deep in this, it might be a good time for an interdepartmental partnership." She and Felix used to do it often enough. "Sumter has a good rapport with him already,… and she also pretty much fits their target demographic." With Kaylee's personal situation, it would be believable that she'd be looking for an escape. Especially with her past history of Refrain use, if anyone were to go looking. But is that asking too much of a woman who is, for all intents and purposes, her sister?

"Are we thinking it's worth bringing in Lancaster and Laurent?" she asks their thoughts mildly.

“That’s SESA’s call,” Modi says with an incline of his head toward the documents, “with regards to those three. But we could make a case for it. In fact, Agent Diaz wants to set up an interdepartmental conference on the matter set for Tuesday morning. Captain Wilson has you, Sumter, and Demsky on the lineup for that.”

Hart looks at the dossiers, then up to Modi for a moment, then over to Elisabeth. “This could be a massive operation, and we’re going to need all the leverage we can get. Nobody, as far as I’ve been able to tell, has ever been able to bring down the Ghost Shadows. They’re the single largest Refrain distributor in the world. Just looking at the figures, this would be an NYPD, SESA, and DEA operation.”

Which makes Elisabeth just a bit uncomfortable — it implies a lot of publicity if they manage this. But it's also very good for SCOUT if they do manage. "All right. Let's see what Diaz is thinking. Since they have point on this, obviously we'll follow their lead." She purses her lips thoughtfully again.

"Anything else I need to know before I go to this meeting Tuesday?"

“Not with regards to that, no,” Modi says as he leans back in his chair, “I think SESA will probably… I don’t know have a powerpoint presentation ready for us?” He smiles, head angling to the side as he looks over to Hart.

“We’re still waiting on analysis of the bomb components from the raid,” Hart chimes in, “and we’re having issues getting timely reports from other departments. I— ” she stops herself, then shakes her head and smiles the thought away. “I think that’s everything.” There’s a little tension in her brows.

Modi sees it, softball pitching a question at her. “Was there anything else?” Hart offers Modi a side-eyed look, then down to her lap as she wrings her fingers over the edges of her folio.

“With all due respect, they’re assholes.” Hart says suddenly, looking over to Modi, then Elisabeth. “Some of the other Captains, Lieutenants. Whatever. They’re stonewalling us on purpose and saying its technical issues or… or…” She’s flustered, and this has clearly been bothering her for a while now.

Blue eyes sharpen on Hart. Elisabeth sets aside the file and hands the tablet back to Modi. The expression on her face seems tighter, no longer the casually neutral, pleasant one she wears most of the time. This one has the laser-bright intensity that has sent more than one asshole scurrying for a hidey hole. "Really."

The single word holds a wealth of dark amusement. "All right. I'll look into it," she assures Hart mildly. She's leaned back in her seat thoughtfully. "I do enjoy a good pissing contest."

It doesn't require raising her voice or even losing her shit. A few well-chosen words in a few ears, reminders to captains and lieutenants of who is — or is not — going to be backing their officers when they come up against powered folks on the street, should suffice to at least stop the passive aggressive bullshit. At minimum, it should at least pull the focus from fucking with her people to fucking with her… and Elisabeth's stood toe to toe with the Shark. Plus she was an Evo cop before they even had an Evo squad. This bullshit is old hat. She kind of likes pondering putting a few people in their places.

“Maybe Captain Wilson could say something to the Commissioner?” Modi suggests, brows raised. “We can’t set a good example for the people of New York if we’re allowing— ” he shakes his head and rankles his nose. “We can’t do our jobs if we’re going to let old bigotry and new put walls up between us.”

Hart nods along to everything Modi is saying. “They’ve gotta learn that we deserve to be respected, that we— I know not all of you earned your detective badges the same way they did, and I know that’s where the animosity — where some of it is coming from. I can only hope that, with time and patience, we can build bridges.” Hart seems less-inclined to believe Modi’s optimistic outlook, but there’s a part of her that wants to.

Nodding to Modi, Elisabeth replies mildly, "I hate playing the politics of this, but in some ways they're not wrong — we have rookies who've been given the rank of detective instead of being a patrol cop for ages. I'll let Wilson know the problem — he and Donovan can work out the savvy way to manage it." It sucks that she has to acknowledge the jerks and can't just bare her teeth and threaten their asses. But she too has to earn her place back among them in some ways.

Still… words in a few ears and capitalizing just a little on Marcus's and Wilson's reputations along with her own can't hurt. "It's human nature to be jealous when it looks like rookies are getting more than experienced people. You're being trained by me and Wilson, and you do have specialized talents. At the risk of sounding arrogant, there is not one among them who can say that Wilson and I didn't earn our positions — in spades." In blood. And by exposing corruption at the heart of places like the old NYPD. "You guys, all of you, just keep doing your job the right way. It will take a little time, maybe, but when the rank and file realize you're not getting promoted any faster than usual and that you're earning your stripes, it'll be okay."

Elisabeth wishes it were that simple. Prejudice is always a thing.

“Even those who have earned their stripes,” Modi says with a motion to himself, “still face prejudice against our progression. Before the war, when I was a detective in Chicago, I received… poor treatment from many of my peers. First because of their ignorance on my faith and my heritage. Then, later, the convenient fear of my ability.

As Modi talks, Hart’s expression shifts into a slowly twisted look of frustration and shame. “It didn't matter how long I served,” Modi goes on to explain. “First I was an equal opportunity hire, then I was just one of them in the most alienating way possible. It's never about the perception of unfairness,” he opines, “it's about bias toward the other.” Modi runs a hand over his beard and looks at Hart, then back to Elisabeth. “A battle of hearts, and nevertheless I appreciate you being side by side with me on it.”

Hart shifts in her chair, straightening the folders she has in her lap, watching as Modi stands. “I trust the Captain and the Commissioner. I have to believe that one day things will be better.”

To that, Hart smiles. “The alternative isn't great,” she says in a small voice.

Modi looks over at Hart, nodding once.

“No, it is not.”

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