Changing Of The Valkyrie


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Scene Title Changing of the Valkyrie
Synopsis Elisabeth Harrison begins her week-long transition to the head of FRONTLINE Unit-01, while Sarisa tries to remind her to separate her business and her extra-curricular activities.
Date November 15, 2010

Textile Factory 17

Monday morning is surprisingly busy at the headquarters of the Mainland FRONTLINE unit. Eight new technicians, four mechanics, three communications officers and a dozen data analyists have showed up for their first day. Noise from outside the central administrative building carries with the ruckus of repairs being made to both of the GPV Colonels that were damaged in the rioting, along with regular Horizon armor maintenance.

It's downstairs in the command center where Sarisa Kershner is spending the first morning of her last week in New York City, watching the senior comm officers instruct new recruits how to interpret the data that streams in from the FRONTLINE units. It's clear she won't be going to the office today, from her casual line of dress in a monochromatic gray sweater and black jeans; rare is the day she's not in a suit. Maybe she's getting lazy now that her replacement has been chosen.

Maybe she just wants to pretend she can get a day off.

Well, it won't be a good day off, that's for damn sure. Elisabeth Harrison, still hoarse from the power blowout though her hearing issues seem to be mostly resolved, walks into the ops center. She looks wiped out, but she's clearly on the ball already. She wears a pair of jeans as well, topped with a burgundy V-necked blouse with 3/4 sleeves. "Kershner," she says from behind her boss. "You ready to brief me?"

There goes my late breakfast, Sarisa's inner narrative decries as she lifts up one hand to brush an errant lock of hair from her brow. "It's going to be long, boring, and take a few days but if you're that eager to start now…" Stepping away from the bank of flat-panel monitors that the communications team are reviewing, Sarisa's chunk heels click across the concrete floor on her way over to Elisabeth.

"I heard you'd gotten a chance to meet up with both of our newest recruits, and I'm glad to hear that you're not going to be laid up on medical leave when I need you to start running this place. What happened on Roosevelt Island had me worried." Crossing her arms over her chest when she comes to a halt, Sarisa rests her weight on one foot, offering Liz a speculative stare,

Blue eyes meet Sarisa's with a cool, hard expression in them. "I don't need my ability to run the fucking squad, ma'am," Elisabeth replies. "I just need all the information you can give me." She glances behind the other woman, her gaze flickering back. "And I think we need to make sure we're on the same page for a few things." She steps back and gestures toward the room Sarisa was using as an office.

The ground floor administrative office isn't as plush or lofty as the tactical room at the top of the tower, but it is much more private. Leading Elisabeth across the operations floor and thorugh the open doorway into the office. It's just as Spartan as it was when Sarisa first moved in here over a year ago now. A single faux-wood topped metal desk and a cheap wheeled chair, one filing cabinet and an American flag hanging in the corner on a pole.

The glass window of the door rattles when Sarisa shuts it, then draws down the blinds and follows Elisabeth with a tired expression. "What couldn't you say out there?" It's a swift accusation, that this isn't just about //business/.

Elisabeth follows her into the office, and she moves to sit slowly down into a chair with her eyes on her boss. "Someone tried to put a bullet in my head the night of the riots," she tells Sarisa quietly. "I had backup, which is the only reason it didn't happen. And I'm reasonably sure they're going to try again. And probably soon." Elisabeth pauses.

She's been trying to sort out how much to tell her boss for quite a while. "I've got a billion bits of information at my fingertips and there's not quite enough of it making sense for me to read you in. I can put it together… at least some of it… but …. there's a snag. And the snag is this: Just how fucking serious are you about taking out the Institute, and just exactly how is it that I'm going to help you do it from here?" She's apparently a bit more wrought up than she may appear, as she's not exactly watching her language to her boss where she always has before.

Oh, one of those talks.

Brows furrowing together, Sarisa makes a noise in the back of her throat that suggests her waning patience. Breathing in deeply, she looks up to the blonde, one brow arched. "Let's take a step back, maybe two… three? Pretend that this is my first conversation with you about your new blood fued with the Commonwealth Institute." Sarisa lifts up a hand, palm out as if to imply woah there, fella.

"There was a sniper at Summer Meadows, one that was aiming after you. Alright, I'm willing to believe that, and I'm willing to put aside the notion it was one of the triggered rioters since calculating a shot doesn't often work hand-in-hand with running at full speed screaming." Threading that errant lock of hair behind one ear again, Sarisa fixes Liz with an inspecting stare.

"What does this have to do with the Institute?" Then, almost regretting the words before they come out of her mouth Sarisa adds, "What can you prove this has to do with the Institute. Secondly, where's the sniper now?"

"The sniper's body is — last I knew — dead on the rooftop where he tried to take his shot. I'll give you the address if you want it, but even if it's there, I doubt you'll get much off it. He was armored, my backup blew his face off, and after he was dead care was taken to be sure that identifying marks such as the tattoo on his chest was obliterated."

Elisabeth shoves a shaky hand through her own blonde mass. "Sarisa…. I am so goddamn pissed off right now. I can't prove any goddamn thing in a court of law, or I'd have already brought it to you. I thought that this particular flashforward tidbit had been thwarted. Richard…. wasn't so sure. He sent someone to keep an eye on the situation and it turned out to be a good thing. The Institute's sole purpose from all the intel we've been able to gather has been to topple the Company because of yet another bit of time travel bullshit."

Massaging one side of her head, Sarisa moves to step around Elisabeth and take a seat ont he corner of the desk. "Backing up, again," Sarisa says with as much patience as possible. "You said the gunman was dead when you found him, alright. Post-Mortem injuries were done to him to remove identification from his body? How long between when your asset on the field took the killing shot did they go to ID the body?"

One dark brow raised, Sarisa considers the desk in front of her. "Secondly, if for whatever reason an entire tattoo was somehow taken off of your gunman's chest after he was picked off by a sniper, the only logical candidate would have been his spotter. But even then, why not just dispose of the whole body? You've got all this intel straight?"

"My asset went immediately after the shot was taken," Elisabeth replies. "I have my suspicions about why the spotter would have done it — the obvious one is that they didn't care if we found the body because we wouldn't be able to ID it and the spotter did it in a hurry, but… that's speculation, ma'am." She hesitates. "The asset said it looked like an old tattoo removed with acid, but also said it looked like it happened while he was in the vest. That it was damaged too. He was bald, square-jawed, but… face obliterated."

Sarisa's blue eyes alight towards the ceiling, listening, then track back down to her lap. "I wish you hadn't killed him, I could've gotten you whatever information you needed from him, personally. Unfortunately, my ability doesn't work on corpses. But, I hindsight is 20/20…" Rubbing one gloved hand at her chin, Sarisa stares down at the concerte floor, vacantly.

"So, back to your original assertion," she begins, "what ties in your would-be assassin to the Commonwealth Institute? Is it just a blind reach or was there something about him that seemed to connect dots? Anyone who had the ability to crack our encrypted channels knew you'd be on Roosevelt Island when you were, anyone who follows FRONTLINE knows which designation is on your armor."

One of Sarisa's dark brows lift, quizzically. "Because right now, I know for certain, Humanis First might like a second crack at you. I don't mean to bring up bad memories, but they were suspiciously inactive during the riots, and they could have taken that opportunity to do a lot more harm."

Elisabeth reaches up and rubs her forehead, her exhaustion showing on her face. "If I tell you why I think it…. I'm not going to be able unsay it. And God help me, woman…" There is a sudden rush of tears that Liz, in her weariness, can't quite hide. She looks down, her jaw clenching as she struggles with what she's been carrying for weeks. When she looks back up, she tilts her head and says softly, "I need to be able to trust you. I need you to look me in the face and not fucking lie to me or evade. And I need to be able to ask your advice and have you let me handle it my way, no matter what advice you give me. Is there a snowball's chance in hell that we can make this work?" She rubs her forehead again and says softly, "Just… be straight with me, okay? If I let you in on what I think is going down and it bites me in the ass…. I'm gonna eat a bullet."

"I think this is where I draw the line, Harrison." For all the times Sarisa has been conspirator and confidant, for her to finally put her foot down is an unusual sign of reaching that great divide. "I'm not going to give you advice just so you can say you consulted someone else before you go off half-cocked and get yourself killed. If you're going to do that, it's going to be wholly on your own. Because that is exactly what this problem is, it's yours. Something you created, something you handle. This is not FRONTLINE'S problem until we are told it is."

Sliding off of her desk, Sarisa's tone becomes sharper now, too. She hasn't ever really wrung Elisabeth out, but now seems to be the time for that. "You aren't just an officer anymore, you are going to be Operations Coordinator of FRONTLINE." Blue eyes widen a touch as Sarisa makes certain she has Elisabeth's atention.

"You need to focus on your responsibilities, and let Richard play superhero behind the scenes. Because this cloak and dagger shit ends right here, right now. The lives of each and every one of your team members is now riding on your shoulders, and it's because I know you can do that job. If your extracurricular work is coming back to bite you in the ass, you have your people to handle it, trust, and worry about it for you."

Sarisa shakes her head, raking back her bangs from her face between gloved fingers. "Prioritize, Harrison. Learn to delegate and focus on this, otherwise a bullet is going to be a welcome relief from trying to juggle two lives."

"I wasn't referring to running off half-cocked, Kershner," Elisabeth replies wearily. "And it has nothing to do with two lives except that those two lives are one and the same here." She looks up. "You said part of our own operation is taking the Institute down. If that's not the case, then I'll keep what I know behind my teeth and just do the job for FRONTLINE and let the other situation sort itself out in other people's hands." She pauses. "But if you are serious about taking them down, there are going to be things you need to know. So you tell me — here and now — shall I shut my mouth tonight and just go about my business, or do you want what I know?"

Elisabeth adds quietly, "And it's a simple yes or no answer, ma'am. That's all I want to know. Because I do have a ton of shit to do with my squad right now including orientation for Emerson."

"The Institute is the second fish I have to fry. Nathan Petrelli comes first and foremost. I know that the Commonwealth Institute is operating outside of the boundaries of his guidelines in secret, but they aren't my primary enemy. Once Petrelli is dead and gone, then I'll turn my sights on the Institute. By then, there won't be a damned person in this country who'll be able to stop me from rolling over them like a bulldozer to a corn field."

One of Sarisa's brows lifts. "So if you still want to tell me, fine, but just know right now Harrison this seems like a desperate woman looking for answers wherever she can get them, rather than a clear tactical assessment. If you're going to try and take on the Institute now, I can't have any part in it. Not yet."

There's a businesslike nod. "That's all I needed to know, ma'am." Elisabeth moves to stand up and looks at her boss. "If or when what I have is relevant to your current mission, then I'll let you know. If you're not making a move on the Institute, nothing I can tell you is important." She pauses and says quietly, "I'd love answers too - but I'm pretty sure I have the answers I need. Now there's just taking care of business. You don't need to worry about my squad mates. There's no way in hell they're dying on my watch if I can stop it from happening. Now… if you're ready to start briefing me on the job situation, let's get to it, shall we?"

Watching Elisabeth, Sarisa's brows furrow. Something behind her eyes shows that a decision is made, and from the softening of her features it's not a bad one either. "Just when I think all hope is lost," she begins with a wry smile, "you go ahead and show me that there's still a professional buried deep down in there."

Folding her hands behind her back as she walks, Sarisa stalks up to Liz, hesitating on finishing the way to the door. "If you can find the sniper's spotter, I'll extract whatever you want from him. In the meanwhile…" Sarisa motions out to the floor.

"Time for you to learn the ropes."

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