Innocent But Guilty


darius_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif trask_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title Innocent But Guilty
Synopsis Liz, Darius, Trask, and SWAT bust in and arrest Niki… not Jessica.
Date January 14, 2009

Niki's Apartment, and then Police Precinct

It was a harried briefing, and an odd assortment of cops. Elisabeth is technically off-duty just for the day because of the beatdown and subsequent paperwork on it. Trask is officially off-duty due to injury. Darius. And a SWAT team. All assembled with a VERY terse phone call from Elisabeth, and sort of done on an end-run around William Harvard — who just happened to be out on another call when Elisabeth called in and said she needed the team NOW.

The briefing was short and sweet. Jessica Sanders is an Evolved superstrong criminal; she is to be brought in for assaulting a police officer. The apartment we're going into has the front door and the back windows, both of which are to be covered by SWAT snipers. The plan is for Liz to hit the apartment with subsonics to hopefully at least mildly incapacitate the woman within the apartment, followed by flashbangs and tear gas, followed by entry onto the premises by Darius and the front-wave of SWAT, with Liz bringing up the rear. Trask is to be brought into the apartment itself only in case of emergency.

And thus people are set up. The unmarked cars pull up a block away, and the teams all move in - Trask is kept with the SWAT captain, a non-Evolved burly guy who can help him get into the apartment as necessary. "Everyone ready?" Liz asks quietly of the entire assembled group.

Trask is moved into position, 20 feet or so down the hall in the second floor hallway, behind a group of Swat guys, he is wearing a vest. He seems to be looking a bit drawn and tired from the stairs, leaning on the wall heavily, one arm in a sling. His cane sits next to him in easy reach.

Darius is garbed much like SWAT and could be mistaken for one of them if badge around his neck didn't say otherwise. He's got on the body armor, the AR-15, and the helmet, to say nothing of the traditional utility belt. Fun bit is that he looks absolutely comfortable in that attire. He gives Liz a thumbs up and a smile. "Good to go."

Jessica is, as various instrumentation might show, in her apartment. She's apparently unaware of the raid about to happen…or at least, that's as much as can be told from outside.

Keeping ten feet from Trask at all times for the first part of this is paramount for Elisabeth and Darius, which isn't that hard cuz the SWAT captain is distinctly unhappy about having an injured officer on this detail. Hell, Liz isn't too happy about dragging him in — but the possibility that he could be of help against Jessica outweighed some of the desire to keep him out of it. The possibility exists that Jessica could kill cops, and she doesn't want that to happen. She, too, is garbed appropriately in kevlar and with weapons. And she waits for the thumbs-up from all involved and then steps out into the hallway to stand in front of Jessica's door. What she's about to do is going to affect people on the other side of the alley at the second-floor level for a hundred yars, but that can't be avoided. She hums softly, standing in front of the door, and manipulates the sound waves down,down,down in to the highest subsonic level she can manage, sustaining it for a full twenty seconds before looking down the hall toward her partner and his squad of kick-the-door-down teammates. Thumbs-up, and she steps to the far side of the door to allow the SWAT and Darius to go in for this part.

Trask watches the moves. Staying in reserve, standing back.

Darius flanks the door. Opposite him is the officer with the ram. Down the hall, four more men wait for the signal. The captain, naturally, remains outside of the madness to maintain c&c. All of the six men wear masks and give the thumbs up for readiness. Darius nods. The door is smashed in, from outside a pair of explosions sound as grenade launchers fire tear gas canisters into the apartment. Darius lobs a flashbang into the entryway. Another explosion sounds, accompanied by the characteristic flare of burning magnesium. Then he enters with his gun at the ready. Left right, his attention sweeps in classic 'entry' efficiency while the growing cloud of gas sweeps around him in an unnatural fashion as though it brushes against some unseen force.
Darius calls out in a commanding tone. "NYPD! On the floor with your hands behind your head!"

The look in the moment the door is bashed in is a blonde with her hands on the walls, trying to hold herself standing, thanks to Liz's infrasound. There's a shriek at the canisters that break her windows, and then there's the flashbang. Brilliant flash, loud bang. Which, of course, makes it nigh-impossible for her to actually HEAR Darius's offer. So instead, what he gets is the woman still leaning against the wall, holding herself up, looking completely baffled.

The SWAT team is nothing if not efficient. "Clear!" "Clear!" "Clear!" can be heard from the few other rooms of the small apartment, leaving the occupant to Darius's tender mercies. And Elisabeth, since she enters with the fourth member of the SWAT team. Six bodies, counting her and Darius, two by two into Niki's tiny apartment in just a few seconds. With her weapon aimed at Niki squarely, there is even a hint of regret in Elisabeth's face when she stops in the hall. "Jessica Sanders, you're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent…" She pitches her voice to be heard.

Trask hears the all clear, and moves forward slowly, making his way to just to the side of the door, out of sight from inside the apartment, but no wall known can block his power, so the ten feet closest to the door are now a power nullification zone, as Elisabeth asked.

Darius gives a nudge with his head towards the exterior wall. "Against the wall!" He yells. No doubt there's ringing in her hears and his voice sounds vaguely Vaderish behind the mask saving him from the tear gas which is now beginning to flow out the front door. He, perhaps bravely, advances on Niki and releases his weapon to hang by its sling. He doesn't step directly towards her, but in an arc to keep lines of fire clear if she opts to go unfriendlilike. The tear gas still miraculously avoids contact with him.

Instead of superstrong amazon assassin, the entering cops are greeted with…a really confused blonde. Niki looks to the police, and freezes, looking just…stunned. Her vision is still full of spots, and her ears ringing. She hears Elisabeth, though (sonic powers yay), and she looks just…lost. "L-Liz? What's going on?" Why is Liz pointing a gun at her?

Elisabeth is nowhere near as lucky as Darius in terms of the tear gas. The facemask she has on is the only thing between her and it. She moves as Darius herds Jessica/Niki against the wall, making sure to get herself out of the range of Trask's powers so she can continue to enhance her voice for the other blonde's sake. She doesn't lower the weapon, but she does continue to read Niki's rights to her. And yeah…. the worst-case scenario definitely happened here. She's arresting Niki, not Jessica. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you." She continues on the Miranda warning to the end, and asks, "Do you understand these rights as they've been given to you?" She'll apologize to Niki later, she has a job to do now.

Darius doesn't know who this person is. Niki, Jessica, all he knows is that she's dangerous right? He's not gentle when he shoves her against the far wall, taking advantage of her confusion, and trusting that she's easily pushed because of Trask's power. Zip-cuffs are produced and quickly make short work of the woman's hands, assuming she's not a powerlifter that is.

Trask remains in his position, just listening and watching the swat officer down the hall.

Niki nods, confusedly, to Liz. "I…yes, but—" And then Darius is shoving her up against the wall. There's no resistance, and she's decidedly NOT a powerlifter; it's easy to get her hands ziptied. "I don't understand, what's going on?!"

There's little conversation from Darius. He just shoves her towards the front door. "Downtown." He answers. Mostly, he's wanting to get her out of the tear gas before she chokes too hard on it. Once out in the hallway, he makes she sure moves quickly past Trask lest she identify him. Four of the SWAT team continue to sweep the room while the other two flank him in their retreat from the building. "One in custody, we're coming out." This, no doubt, broadcast so that the snipers don't decide they're targets.

Trask follows along behind Darius and Nikki, keeping them in range. He knows Liz's plan is for him to ride along in the car with her, just in case

"Just…. get your lawyer, Niki," Elisabeth tells her as gently as possible. And she leaves it to Darius to manhandle her friend out of the apartment and down to the car. She leaves the transport of Niki a SWAT member and Trask in their car, and she and Darius use their own vehicle to follow close behind — in theory, with Trask in the car, Niki (and Jessica) are not a threat. On the trip back to the precinct, Elisabeth explains to Darius as succinctly as possible, "Jessica Sanders is a personality of Niki Sanders … Niki has multiple personality disorder. She doesn't even know that Jessica exists." She sounds sad. "Niki is my friend," she admits to him softly. "And I've been hiding the knowledge of the Jessica personality from her for months because Jessica threatened me…. and because honestly, knowledge of Jessica wouldn't do Niki a damn bit of good. Until now." She looks out the window as the squad cars all approach and pull into the parking lot of the precinct. "Now I get to go explain to my friend that her alter ego damn near killed me yesterday," she says quietly. And to her partner, she adds, "And yes…. I realize it's a complete conflict of interest for me to be involved in this arrest, which is why I asked you to handle most of it. But I'd like to be able to explain to her." She pauses long enough for his answer, and then she gets out of the car assist with getting Niki into booking and then tucked into an interrogation room where Norton can sit on the other side of the glass and keep her negated until HomeSec arrives.

Trask just sits there, he doesn't talk to Nikki in the car, and once he gets to the station he settles in leaning his back to the wall, and waits.

Niki gets shoved into the car…she's not really resisting, just..confused. She looks back to Liz, just dumbstruck at the situation. "Lawyer? Liz, I don't HAVE a lawyer! What's going on?!" When no answer is forthcoming, she's quiet in the car. There are tears; whether they're from the gas or real, who's to say. She's silent, though, just hoping someone is going to explain this whole mess to her when she gets…well, whereever they're going.

Darius is glad he's driving. It keeps his hands on the wheel. Not that he doesn't entertain the notion of reaching over and knocking Liz into next week. "You know.. I realize that trust is a slow thing in coming." His hands do grip the steering wheel in a fashion that might make someone cry. "But you could try working a little harder. I might surprise you."

Elisabeth bites her lip and looks at him before getting out of the car. "Yeah… you're right. You and I … when this is over, we've…. got a lot to talk about." There is regret and concession in her face. She *should* have trusted him.

When they get to the precinct, she says softly, "I'm sorry, Darius." And she means it. She gets out of the car with him, knowing that she'll deserve everything he may say to her later tonight, but focusing on the process. Once they're all in the building, she looks at her partner. "You coming in?"

"Yeah." Darius doesn't look at her. He's looking at the MPD in the room. "If I don't she'll likely just try to kill you again. You'll forgive me if I'm a little short on the questions."

Elisabeth winces because well… she's pretty sure Trask feels the same way. "'kay," she says quietly. "I'm not all that for the questions either. I just … want to explain." And then she ducks into the interrogation room where Niki sits looking rather befuddled.

Niki is sitting there, uneasy and upset, and finally Elisabeth comes in. Niki looks back up at her, distraught. "Liz? What's going ON?!" she says, looking up to the officer.

Elisabeth has removed her kevlar by the time she steps in, though she still wears the same black pants and blouse she had on before. Her hair is pulled up in a ponytail still too. She looks far more 'cop' than Niki's ever seen her. There is some level of apology in the set of her features as she stands across the table from her friend, but she's got the air of someone doing what she knows has to be done. "Niki… there are some things I have to say to you that you're not going to want to hear. Hell, you may not even believe me. I just don't know. And I'm going to do it off the record before people come in here." She doesn't shove her hands in her pockets or even sit — she leans against the hallway door. "You are one of the nicest, most amazing people I've ever met. And I admire you tremendously for the way you're handling everything life has thrown at you. But I have to come clean with you… the hospital is not the first time you met me. You have a condition called multiple personality disorder. Do you know what that is?"

Niki frowns. "I've heard about it on TV. But I don't know what you're talking about, Liz. I don't have any multiple personality thing. Jessica was my sister." Was. Neither Niki nor Jessica had previously talked about this part before.

Elisabeth tilts her head, looking curious. "Really. Interesting." She has to wonder … in all the reading she's done about MPD since meeting Niki, the possibility that Jessica was real didn't really cross her mind. But it's irrelevant in this precise moment. "I'm going to remind you that you've been Mirandized, okay? And I'm going to highly recommend that when they come in here, you clam up and get a lawyer. But I can tell you for a fact that I've met your alter ego. She does call herself Jessica… maybe because of your sister. And she tried to kill me two days ago, Niki. I was healed in the ER by an Evolved healer, but … she came within inches of literally putting a fist through my head." Her tone is gentle. "She is the complete antithesis of you — she is cold and a complete sociopath, caring nothing for anyone else in this world…. except for you, and maybe Micah and DL. She is what you'd call a gatekeeper personality. And her job is to keep you safe at all costs. Up to an including saving your life during the Bomb in Midtown. I know you don't remember it…. but when I first met you, you knew about Jessica's existance. And the two of you told me some things."

Niki looks completely lost. "Elisabeth, I didn't even meet you before the hospital. I don't know what you're talking about. I would never try and kill you! I'd never try and kill ANYBODY. Please, there's been some kind of mistake." She's close on tears of frustration.

Elisabeth wants to move to comfort Niki, and it's evident in the aborted move she makes toward the blond prisoner. "I know you don't know what I'm talking about," she replies sadly. "And I'm sorry that I've kept so much from you. I thought maybe…. she was right. That you were better off not knowing. But you're stronger than she gives you credit for. You and I met at a diner when you were looking for work. You really were just out of a coma then — or rather, a two-year blackout. Your grief over losing Micah and DL in the Bomb was so deep that Jessica couldn't roust you out of the hole you hid yourself in. So from what I gather, *she* spent hte next several years doing her own thing. And the thing *she* does best… is kill for … well, I assume it's the US government at least some of the time. I'd like to give her the benefit of that doubt. I don't honestly know. *You* are an amazing person, and I am privileged to know you and count myself your friend. *Jessica* is a sociopath and a murderer. And I'm more sorry than I can *ever* say to you…. that I'm forced to press charges against Jessica because she's a danger to anyone around her." This is tearing her up. "The only thing I can tell you, Niki…. and I hope someday you'll forgive me for all of this… is to take my advice. Homeland Security is coming for you. If the lawyer you get doesn't seem like they know what they're doing… call Paul Heart. If he can't help, he'll at least point you to someone pro-Evolved who *can* help you." She looks toward the door, noting that people are coming. "They're not going to treat you well… don't let anyone mistreat you, though. If anything happens, you have them contact me personally. I'll leave word with the watch commander." She looks at Niki and says softly, "I am more sorry than I have *words* for, Niki."

Niki is just…poleaxed, as Elisabeth spins for her what sounds like a huge fiction. "I…I don't have a lawyer. I don't have any money for a lawyer. I…I get a phone call, right?" She is crying, now, though she's blinking her eyes to try and keep it back, her voice is breaking a little.

Elisabeth says softly, "You know the drill, you've been picked up before. I read you your rights. You get a phone call, and you get a lawyer regardless of whether you can afford one. Paul Heart takes pro bono cases." She looks at Niki, sympathy and pain in her face. "Use the call to get to him. If nothing else… he's a damn good lawyer. I don't know anyone else I can send you to who won't have issues with the fact that your alternate identity tried to kill me."

Jessica knows the drill. Niki, not so much. But she's got only one person she can really call who isn't Elisabeth. Her voice is pretty tiny, and cracking. She sounds…broken. "Could I make that call now, please?"

Elisabeth adds softly, "And if this makes it to trial… know that I will make very clear in my testimony that *I* understand the difference between the two of you, Niki." She nods slightly and taps on the door, asking the officer on duty there to bring in the handset to the cordless phone. He gives it to her immediately, and Elisabeth brings it over to place it on the table across from Niki, stepping back to let the blond take it. "Information will give you his number."

Niki looks up to Elisabeth. Her eyes are at least a little betrayed. She dials, but it's not information. Ring, ring…

Niki speaks into the phone, her voice still breaking a little. "Abby? It's Niki. I think I need some help."

"Hello?" comes puzzled over the phone in Abby's southern drawl.

Elisabeth would close her eyes and bang the back of her head on the door, but well… what the hell good would that do. She gave Niki the best advice — hell, FAR more help — than she'd give anyone else. Oh well.

Niki speaks into the phone. "I just got arrested. Liz arrested me. She's got all this…stuff about multiple personalities, talking about my dead sister's name. I…think I need a lawyer. Could you come down here, please?" The last is pleading in tone. "I need help."

shit. Shit shit shit. "Whats.. wrong Niki?" Abby carefully speaks over the phone.

Elisabeth glances at Darius and toward the window at Abby's name, and just remains silent.

Niki replies "I don't have a lawyer. I don't even have any MONEY for a lawyer, Abby. Liz said something about someone named Paul Heart. I…I don't know what I'm gonna do. She says I tried to kill her." Her voice is trembling. She's scared.

Yeah, she saw this coming a mile away. Except she can't bring Cat, she's not going to involve cat, and she can't tell Niki no. "Do you have a lawyer already Niki or do I need to stop and find you one? and what precinct?" Liz was gonna have her head.

Elisabeth looks sideways and down. Niki's pain — assuming it's really Niki, which is a real possibility — hurts her heart. But she's going to do what she has to here. Jessica can't just be on the loose.

Abby licks her lips, then chews on her bottom one. "You did Niki. I had to heal Elisabeth. And you came after me. I'll find this.. Paul Heart and bring him down, don't worry about money. What precinct are you at?"

Niki hears something in the reply…and stares at the phone, a long moment. It slips from her fingers as if they've gone numb, hitting the table. She looks at it, and it's clear that Things Are Not Well…it's several seconds before recognition even shows in her eyes that why yes, that is a phone. Then, silently, she reaches out and presses the hangup button.

Elisabeth looks up, a frown on her face. "Niki?"

Niki doesn't look up at Elisabeth. Her expression is pretty much that of someone who's had their world fall out from under them. "I made my call." she finally says, voice breaking on her even in that short bit. "Whatever you're going to do, do it." Tones of despair and hopelessness in her voice.

Elisabeth bites her lip, glancing out the door. The precinct captain is giving her a lot of leeway here, and there's no recording going on in the room…. she's trusting Trask, sitting in the observation room, to keep everyone else out and the tapes off. She flips out her cell phone and calls the number in her call history, because she was at Heart's office last week. His service picks up and she says, "Message for him: Evolved prisoner needs a good lawyer, exceptional circumstances. Pro bono case. Be at the precinct in half an hour." She hangs up and looks at Niki, saying softly, "It's the best help I can give you." She moves forward to take the other phone back from Niki, and then heads for the door. "Do you need a drink before he gets here?"

Niki just looks up, even more confused when Liz mentions the whole "Evolved" thing. She finally looks up. "No. Thank you." But the voice is…dull. Emotionless. Not in Jessica's icy chill. Just…drained.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "The officer outside will check on you. Homeland Security will be here within the hour, but you won't be turned over without your lawyer now that you've called for him." She turns to go, tapping on the door to get herself and Darius out of the room and giving Niki privacy to …. well, if SHE were in Niki's shoes, she'd cry.

January 14th: Beer And Chit-Chat
January 14th: Need A Heart, Get A Heart
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