Kaiju And Redshirts


elisabeth_icon.gif erin_icon.gif

Scene Title Kaiju and Redshirts
Synopsis Liz only understood one of those references, but she hopes not!
Date February 20, 2021

The Watchtower

With everything coming down the pipe at them, SCOUT losing two more of its members was a blow. Blomgren's departure and Ivanov's medical leave of absence had dropped them two significant players. Kaylee and Abby both being on indefinite medical leave as well means they're getting spread a little thin on the ground – the original graduating class wasn't that large to begin with. So everyone who remains is going to be picking up a lot of overtime. Colette is already as read in on the situation as one can reasonably be. Her sister is part of the group affected. But Elisabeth needs more support than that in the middle of this level of investigation, and her two choices here are Hart and Gordon. Right now, Gordon is the one more often on the ground with her.

As Erin arrives for the day, Elisabeth notes when the detective steps into the squad room's bullpen. She pitches her voice to carry to the woman's ears. "Gordon, step in and close the door. I need to talk with you."

Erin looks around like a confused dog being told to fetch the ball that she did not see thrown, and nearly spills her coffee on herself in the process, before realizing that it’s the audiokinesis thing. She can never tell if things are heard inside or outside of her head, even now, but nevertheless, she points her index and middle fingers at her eyes, mirrors it at Liz’s eyes, and settles into the Lieutenant’s office without removing her heavy winter gear at her own desk.

Having just walked into the office, she pauses, paper bag containing the spoils of bagelry in one hand and the offending coffee in the other, and closes the door with her butt without asking whether this was an open door situation. If the boss asks you to come in at the beginning of the day, it’s probably not great news.

Elisabeth's smile is faint as Erin joins her. "You're not in any trouble," she assures the young detective. "I have some things going on that need to be disseminated and in this particular case, I'm really only telling the people who need to know. Which, because you're about to be pulling some overtime and I have no idea whether it could get worse, you have become. Go ahead and take your jacket off and stuff," she offers.

Erin visibly relaxes at not being in any trouble - after all, the prank wars are escalating slowly but surely - and places her coffee and bag on Liz’s desk briefly while she simultaneously sits and sheds the heavy parka. As it is not actively snowing and therefore not a moisture hazard, she lets it fall back and remain cocooned around her, one arm inside out, in the chair as she reclaims her breakfast. She sips off of her coffee - the spill of the lightened liquid mostly being contained to the ridge around the flimsy plastic lid - and settles in.

“Well, Lieutenant, you know that I can handle the overtime because the overtime pay is nice, but it sounds like this is neither optional nor good news. Is there something I have to worry about? Is everyone okay?”

With a moment’s thought, she roots around in the bag, now settled between her thighs, with her free hand and pulls out a doughnut. “Would you like? Not to be a stereotype or anything, just because the guy running the breakfast cart gave me an extra doughnut because of the cop thing and it seemed rude to say no and it looks like you could use it. No offense.”

"No, thanks," Elisabeth demurs on the doughnut. At least for the moment. "Everyone is all right for now, but things are … complicated." There's a long sigh as the blonde leans back in her chair.

"I know you saw the report last week about the kidnap attempt at RayTech of Jac Childs." From right under Elisabeth's nose, literally. "This is related to that, really. The reason for that attempt is tied to the reason Abby and Kaylee are on medical leave and without powers." It's not the simplest explanation.

"Last year, when Kaylee and Abby were part of that plane crash and came out of it without their abilities, there were some deeper things afoot. There was a whole group of people in that crash, many of them you wouldn't know but that Demsky and I are closely acquainted with." She bites her lip. "Investigation into it has yielded the fact that they have been targets of some kind of definitely illegal experimentation. They haven't just lost their abilities; they no longer read genetically as SLC-E."

At this, Erin balks, having replaced the doughnut back into the bag and pausing now with a vertically-sliced half of a sesame bagel with cream cheese partway to her mouth.

“The kidnap, while alarming, wasn’t really significant enough to ping anything on my radar. RayTech always kind of has weird shit going on. But the changing of the genetics … that’s …”

Erin is at a lost for words. The bagel continues its trajectory and she takes a healthy bite, using the bagel itself to wipe a small blob of cream cheese off of the corner of her mouth as she chews thoughtfully.

“Whose plane were they on, exactly? And who do we think is behind it? Probably not RayTech themselves, right…?”

At the final query, Elisabeth can't help the momentary expression that crosses her face – pure, undiluted rage, masked quickly behind the cool facade of politeness. And even with that neutral expression, her tone is quietly, icily, lethal. "My husband's company is not a source of genetic horror experimentation." That question hit buttons in the Lieutenant that few people will ever quite understand. Richard Cardinal, now Ray, is not Ezekiel. And he never, ever, will be.

"Right now, the source is unknown. Investigation into that mess is ongoing through SESA – it's unlikely it will ever fall under our purview. Further investigation… has exposed the situation to be even worse than we thought. Someone out there didn't manipulate their genetics. They built clones that are also somehow a mix of biological and robotic bodies and have somehow mastered the technology to move consciousness into the brain. So Abby, Kaylee, Jac… all the people who were in that crash? They have some kind of nanotechnology in their brains. And from what we can tell, the programming in these biological robots is degrading. Hence the strokes. Which begs the question, where the fuck are the originals?"

These are Elisabeth's friends and family. "Demsky's sister is also one of the affected, so she may wind up called out on short notice to help on that investigation, Gordon. Which could well leave me, you, and a bunch of rookies from the next graduating class mostly on our own."

Erin grimaces. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant. I didn’t mean anything personal by it. You know that as a Detective I have to follow all possible leads. It was a question worth asking, and I stand by that, but I also apologize for implying your husband is at the top of a potentially psycho organization that’s harming society. Really not what I was going for.”

The grimace becomes a frown. “But really, this also begs the question of the nanotech. Where did it come from? How long has it been there? I really don’t want to sound like Agent Mulder or something, but … well, you’re closer to the situation. Am I authorized to be asking these questions? I am completely fine working with just you and some rookies, but with something so personal to us and to you I do have a bit of apprehension about the idea of SESA taking the reins and us being, you know, in the dark about it.” She pauses. “Unless you’re not in the dark. I feel like you didn’t call me in here just to tell me I have to nix my nonexistent social life for the foreseeable future and to ignore the fact that some of our comrades are suffering.”

Elisabeth takes the apology at face value and pulls in a deep breath to quell her initial reaction. "No…. I'm the one who's sorry. Without knowing the history of it, it would be hard for you to really wrap your head around, Erin." She pauses and considers how deep she wants to let this young officer go. But it's something that could well impact this squad at some point, and frankly…Liz has issues with keeping secrets like this. Not from the general public, because people as a whole are stupid, terrified beasts. But particular people who are in close proximity to it all should be in the know, in her opinion. And Erin Gordon is walking into this world.

"I'm not in the dark," she agrees quietly. "Some things…. some behaviors and mindsets… are not so easily left behind. I'm not so different now than I was back in the days where I torched my own career. And things happening around us are also not so different from those days. In this world of crazy powers and other things… it cannot surprise you that there have been people who could time travel. Or even alternate worlds travel," she offers slowly, watching to see Erin's reactions. "My husband has been carefully watched over the years because of what a timeline-traveling doppelgänger of his did."

Erin chokes on a poorly-timed sip of lukewarm coffee, cream and sugar. “I’m sorry, a who-traveling what?”

She shouldn't laugh. She really shouldn't. But honestly, it's so damn refreshing to have someone so fucking innocent about it all sitting in front of her, Elisabeth literally cannot help it. She stifles the chuckles as best she can behind her hand, but they're quite evident.

Dragging her hand up and then down her face, Elisabeth just shakes her head. Amusement lingers amid the more solemn expression in her blue eyes. "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change… wouldn't it, Alice?"

Erin sighs, uses a flimsy napkin to clean up coffee dribble from her chin and off of her hand, and nods. “Yes, ma’am. Yes, it would. To be honest, nothing surprises me anymore. Time-traveling doppelgangers? Sure, why not? What else? I have to resist the urge to ask if you accidentally mistook the doppel for your husband at any point because that is both rude and potentially traumatic, but I won’t deny that some part of me is morbidly curious.”

She takes another bite of the bagel, fishing around in her mouth with her tongue to remove stray sesame seeds from between her teeth before continuing. “So then what does this mean for Kaylee and Abby? For your husband? For you? Are you in trouble?” She brushes more stray sesame seeds from the front of her shirt. “I always admired you burning everything down and everything, so I guess another question I have is, well, if there may come a time when we do things…” A pause, fishing for words rather than seeds. “Off the books, so to speak.”

Tipping her head, Elisabeth's blue eyes continue to hold amusement though now there is also a sadness to her tone. "No… no, I never mistook the two." For a whole lot of reasons. "The time-traveling version of my husband is at least as far as I know right now irrelevant to the situation with Abigail and Kaylee and the others – it was more an explanation of why I damn near took your head off. It's… a sore point with me that my husband is still, after all this time, watched so carefully." And Erin's query poked that particular sore spot.

Erin smirks and waves it off with her free hand, no harm, no foul.

Pulling in a breath, now she turns her attention to the latter questions. Her gaze on Erin's face is intent, thoughtful. God, she reminds me of Emerson and Mitchell. The thought makes her heart hurt. So long ago, yet everything seems to be coming full circle and she finds herself back in the same place – running a squad of Evos who are worried about being given orders they can't stomach. "The short answer to whether we're in trouble is that we're always in trouble," she finally replies. "Although I'm not personally for the immediate future that I'm aware." It's a bit of a lie in terms of 'trouble' being defined as 'Uluru wants to kill the whole world,' but there's not much Erin can do about that situation right now. "We're going to circle back around to Abby and Kaylee's situation in a second," Elisabeth grins slightly. "But to your final question…"

That's a harder one, honestly. "I would like to say no, that we will never have to do that again. One of the reasons I even took this job offer is because I don't want to see that bullshit ever happen again." There's a pause, though. "Donovan hired me because I live in the shadows, Erin… even now." No pun intended. A longer pause. "If the time comes that I have to work off the books, I'll walk from this job. Never act under the auspices of the NYPD if you have to do that." Her gaze is sharp and intent. "If you ever find yourself having to question if action needs to be taken off the books… you come to me before you do it." Everyone is a player on a long enough timetable.

Erin taps her nose and nods. “Truth be told, you know – well, I don’t know if we ever spoke about my deep reluctance to return to the NYPD after the war. I really wasn’t sure about it. Honestly. I’m still not. The NYPD already had such a long history of gross violence and abuse of power even before 2006. I don’t need to tell you this. But what I saw after 2008, and definitely during the war, I wasn’t sure if it was the right call to come back and join SCOUT. I believe that we all become cops with good intentions, but good intentions sometimes turn sour and…”

She trails off, looks at the wall somewhere above Liz’s head. “I never want to be in the position of arresting people for who they are again. I never want to be part of an organization that is actively doing harm again. It felt like the Gestapo for a while, and if it comes to disobeying an unjust order - or obeying a just moral cause that goes against a direct order - I won’t say with absolute certainty that I will act on the behalf of who is giving that order. If you know what I mean.”

She locks eyes with her Lieutenant now. “I think that you can understand that position. And I also think that I owe it to you to be completely forthright about it. It feels like things are starting to get really hairy, and we should be on the same page.”

"The only orders you get are from me and the Captain," Elisabeth replies as she keeps her gaze steady on Erin. "And we don't run a Gestapo. They tried that shit on me once." There's a faint smile that quirks her lips but it isn't reflected in the suddenly steely blue eyes. "You saw how well that went for them." It's a grim little smile. "I will burn it all down again if it comes to that. Don't ever doubt it." The woman has seen far, far too much. "I'm quite sure we're dealing with the remnants of Humanis First out there – whether it's just a bunch of low-lifes on the streets, however, I'm not so sure. But they're clearly reorganizing. And we're going to have to be vigilant. They infiltrated all levels of power the last time, and they'll try to do it again."

Elisabeth leans back in her chair and considers Erin with a thoughtful expression. "I'm going to give you the same courtesy you just gave me and I'm going to be forthright about it. Things are beginning to get hairy, and we're going to be in the shit up to our eyebrows. As it stands right now… we don't know who did this to Abby and Kaylee and the other dozen or so people who are affected. But I know that the alphabet soup are not the only people looking into it, either. The people who have been affected by this? Not a fucking one of them is sitting still – a large number of them are operatives from a variety of places that I had ties to before the war and even during it." She smiles faintly.

"The Ferry didn't just disappear either, Erin. And they didn't go underground. Those of us who fought back then and through the war… many have taken jobs where they can watch what's happening in the halls of power and make sure it's not happening again. You're not going to Lone Ranger this shit on me. I will promise you here and now that if I give you an order? I'm going to cover your ass for it, even if it's counter to what the NYPD would want you to be doing. And if you think something I'm doing is questionable, you have permission to walk in here and have at me any time you want without repercussions. I can't promise I will always be able to tell you why I'm asking you to do something, but I'd like to build the trust with you that I won't have to tell you – you'll already know that it's because I genuinely believe it's the right thing."

“I do,” Erin says, measuredly. “I would never presume to go out on my own and be a rogue detective. I read enough Nancy Drew as a kid to know that that shit only gets you in trouble. And to not even get paid for it? Pass.”

She remains unsettled nevertheless. “But that’s good to hear. It is. We all have a lot of trauma from back then, and some people think of me as a naive kiddo but … I’m 36. I was around for all of this shit, even if I wasn’t in the thick of it. Blame my skincare regimen for the under-aging, I suppose.” A smirk of deflection. “I guess I have to ask: are you one of the ‘dozen or so’ affected? Are you eating your own words and lone rangering for information? To what degree can or should we be involved here? Can I be?”

Now the lieutenant does laugh. "I'm not affected in that I'm not one of the people whose body got abducted out of bed and replaced with a, for lack of a better term, clone-bot. But I am affected in that Kaylee is my sister-in-law and Abby and others in the group are as close to me as family." Blowing out a slow breath, Liz shakes her head in the negative. "I'm not out Lone Rangering it either. Intel is my husband's purview," she grins with a wicked twinkle. "I'm the one he sends to kick in the door." She's joking… but she's not. "Right now, there is nothing to be involved in…"

Elisabeth trails off, her expression pensive. "But I fear it's not going to be all that long before there is a great deal that you'll wind up read in on." She sighs. "So many of the things I know you want answers to require what amounts to a literal history class, Erin." For the first time, she looks genuinely weary. "Right now… the primary focus needs to be on what's going on right here in front of us right now. Pure Earth, crimes on the street. When that changes–" And yes, she said 'when', " – I promise that I will not keep information from you. I won't ask you to do anything I'm not willing to put myself on the line for." She pauses.

"There are… things going on under the surface, some of them not my stories to tell and some of them just… so fucking long and involved it would take a week to give you all the background, and because there's literally nothing any of us can do about them, I don't want to dump all that history on you, you know? But the basic gist of what's moving under the surface is that… remember that blast wave out of Detroit? The red wave that seems to have given some people powers? The being that caused that is still out there. It's… not a person, it's literally something we don't quite comprehend. But it's out there and it's doing things that will need to be stopped. How to stop it is, quite frankly, the question. And to top that off, there is an alphabet soup agency out there looking to deal with that… but I'm not sure I trust them as far as I can spit them." She smiles a bit. "The more things change, huh? You know that movie where the guy says, 'let me 'splain… no, is too much. Let me sum up.' That's kind of where we are at this moment."

“Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some primer or repository of all of that info?” She smirks, hands out the doughnut to Liz again, and then continues a little more slowly.

“So what you’re saying is that there may or may not be a kaiju out there in Michigan – what a relief, it not being here in New York this time – and that kaiju may or may not be out there to destroy humanity, and also may or may not be a kaiju at all, and we have literal body-swapping going on, and shit’s about to get shady? Just to make sure I have that right? Because if yes, you know, I’ve seen the movies. The local cops usually just get in the way of the superheroes doing the actual fighting. I hope we don’t become redshirts.”

"Honestly, Erin… Before the war, would anyone have believed what was in the 'Wolves of Valhalla'? If I wrote a primer on what I've been doing for the past 10 years and what I suspect or know but can't prove about what's going on now, I'd land in Slice Gitmo or in a rubber room. The vast majority of people would say I was flat-out lying to them. Hell, that's what they would have thought when I gave that interview… if Bradley hadn't released it after the Massachusetts massacre." Rubbing her fingertips along the side of her head, still after all this time unconsciously touching a particular spot, Elisabeth eyes the younger woman. "I have no idea what a kaiju is," she observes, "but assuming it means some big bad monster thing – that about sums it up, yeah." And then she laughs. "I understood that reference!" she replies to the redshirt comment.

Blowing her breath out in a long, slow sigh, the blonde considers what is happening out there. "Someone out there is doing experiments on SLC-E individuals. I don't know to what end. And we suspect there's a lot more to it than just those experiments. But the whispers in the shadows have been subtle and hard to grab hold of." And anyone who knows Elisabeth well would laugh their asses off at the analogy. "The – what'd you call it? Kaiju? – that is going to be an ongoing problem until we find a way to lock it back into a prison or otherwise deal with it. There are people working on that. Neither of those things are our job here in the NYPD, so…. Here's how this works:

"When shit hits the fan, somehow I usually find myself in the middle of it. You've told me you want to help in whatever ways you can, and if something comes my way that you can help with, I will definitely let you help. Because we're going to need all the fucking help we can get. For right now, you and I have a far more mundane job – Pure Earth and keeping the people of the Zone safe from them and whatever else is out there." Elisabeth shrugs. "It's that easy. Right up until it's not. And there's usually not much warning when the shit hits the fan."

At this, Erin drops the veil of subtlety, takes out a napkin from the paper bag, puts it on Elisabeth’s desk and then the doughnut on top of it. “I can’t order you to eat the doughnut, but food is how I take care of people, so I will just leave this in front of you and hope that it goes into your belly and not the trash. Unlike, shall I say, these fuckwits who are making the Zone unsafe, who belong directly in the can.”

She takes another bite of her own bagel.

“Well, lieu, you can depend on me. I’m behind you 100%. Count on it.”

She wishes that sentiment made her feel better. Foreknowledge, Elisabeth has come to believe, is truly the single-most horrible thing anyone can ever have. But she forces a smile for the young detective and nods, leaning forward to take the donut. How many times has Richard teased her about cooking too much food since Christmas? Only now when Erin says that does she realize she's been falling on old habits… stress = making food. "Food's one of my love languages too," she admits with a smile, absurdly happy to have someone else in her orbit who does it. "So talk to me about your current cases. How are they progressing?"

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