Nothing's Guaranteed


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Scene Title Nothing's Guaranteed
Synopsis Cat visits Melissa in lockup at DHS headquarters, but makes no guarantees.
Date September 29, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Facility

It's been several hours since Melissa was first brought to the Homeland Security headquarters by none other than her dear old uncle. Several long hours which are, at the very least, humiliating and frustrating. She got her phone call at least, which she spent to call Cat.

When the lawyer arrives Mel is brought to a conference room, one full of cameras to spy on every move she makes. Which means that when Cat is shown into the room as well, Melissa looks like an annoyed and resigned individual. A tired one, despite the short amount of time she's been in lockup.

It's a process, visiting this place, one she experienced before through providing legal services for Abby. Checking in, getting the specifics on charges to be faced from the keepers of the facility, and being shown to the conference room. Poker-faced and businesslike, she arrives looking more like a lawyer than Melissa has ever seen her; white button-front blouse under a charcoal grey jacket and matching skirt, dark pumps. Heels click across the bare floor as she approaches and takes a seat at the table.

A messenger bag is placed on that surface after she's seated, but it appears empty. The only documentation she carries are those given to her by the Feds who run the place. Hands settle on the table next, the inmate is regarded with a measure of calm concern. "Afternoon, Melissa," she offers.

Little is good about it, given their location.

When the door opens Melissa glances up, though there's no change to her expression. "Hey Cat. Thanks for coming. And so quick," she says, sighing softly and leaning forward to rest her arms on the table in front of her. "Did they tell you anything, or do I need to take it from the top?"

"You're welcome," she begins, "and yes, they told me the basics, but I'd also like to hear it from your perspective." Where some attorneys might have paper and pen out to take notes, Cat does not. Brown eyes rest on the Incarcerated Mistress Of Pain, anticipating the start to her narrative. The presence of cameras isn't commented on, nor is the possibility of audio surveillance. Most likely she presumes Melissa knows the drill.

Melissa shrugs a little. "Few weeks back I saw a press conference on some bombing." One she was partially responsible for, but that's beside the point. "The DHS operative, a bigwig, who was talking happened to be my uncle. Who I haven't really seen since I was eight. So I called him and we met up at this little deli. Was nice at first. We hugged, talked about family…"

She smiles faintly, but it's a sad smile. "But then he told me that he had a list of fugitives from Moab, and my name was on the list. Told me to turn myself in, that he'd talk to some Parkman guy to try to get me a lighter sentence and blah, blah, blah. And so…here I am. So basically this is just what I've been hiding from since I got out of Moab."

The smile fades. "Tried to tell him that I didn't belong in Moab, that I got tossed in there for no reason, but you see how well I was able to convince him of that."

"It could be coincidence," Cat opines, "the name Pierce certainly isn't rare in this nation, but you make your uncle sound high-ranking. Is he Operations Director Jason Pierce, Melissa? Parkman… That'd be the Secretary of Homeland Security, Matt Parkman. You may remember him from the news a few years back, he was present to provide proof when President Petrelli announced our existence." Her client is briefly observed in silence for her reaction, then Cat continues onward.

"Charges you're facing include failing to register, assault on a Federal officer, prison escape, and interstate flight. Much will depend on how things go with the Assistant US Attorney handling your case and the judge's weight in the matter, but I believe I can save you from added time in jail or prison."

"It may not be rare, but trust me, it's my uncle. And yes, he's Jason Pierce," Melissa says in a dry tone, nodding. "And no, can't say I remember Parkman. He's evolved then? What's his ability?"

The charges have Melissa shrugging. "I didn't actually escape the prison. I got like, bamfed out through no fault of my own. I just didn't go turn myself back in after it happened. Can't really deny the assault though. I hadn't done anything wrong and some guys show up to take me to prison without a trial or anything? For not registering?" She shakes her head. "Wasn't right, so I fought. And as far as I'm concerned, I've already served my time. Six months too many."

"It's my hope, and strategy, to work the violations of due process in your case for full advantage in clearing away all charges but the failure to register," Cat explains while nodding to Melissa's response. "In that they charge you with prison escape, they're also not denying such a prison existed, which is surprising. I believe I can work it out so your sentence is for time served and a measure of probation, But…" She pauses here.

"It would mean pleading guilty to avoiding registration, and accepting a felony conviction. I don't know what tier they'd want to recategorize your registration as, but I'd anticipate tier two, with all the baggage that carries."

"Hold up. You really think the government is gonna let me go that easily? I mean, I know Jason was all talking about putting a good word in for me with Parkman and how Parkman is in good with the president and all, but this is the same government who put me in moab in the first place," Melissa says. "And why would they lower my tier anyway? I still have the same ability as before, it's just expanded to include taking pain. Doesn't make it less dangerous though."

"Nothing is guaranteed, Melissa," Cat acknowledges, "they may well want to send you to prison for an extended time. But the fact we're here and having this conversation suggests they intend to follow due process in this case. Part of my strategy will be to tie not pursuing a civil case over unlawful imprisonment to them accepting time served as your sentence."

Hands rest flat on the table. "Registration tiers are matters of bureaucratic decision, Melissa. With your ability, you could be considered tier zero just as easily as tier two. I estimate two because of your background, and because they'd want you known to the public complete with address, social security number, dna sample, and photograph."

"Of course they would," Melissa says sarcastically. "Like I don't have enough problems without Humanis First coming to my house to beat me senseless instead of just finding me on the street and blowing me up with ice cream carts." Another sigh and she shakes her head. "I don't wanna do a civil case over this, so yeah, use that. Hell, if it'll help, point out that I've been volunteering at the Suresh Center for the last few months."

Her client is studied in silence across a stretch of moments, it seems perhaps Cat wants to say something, but she self-censors. This would not be the place or time to discuss what became of that HF cell which tormented so many people in her orbit, or any such clandestine activities. Her eyes flash with something undefined when Humanis First is mentioned, which speaks volumes in that single instant about her thoughts on that subject.

"Nothing's guaranteed," she asserts again, "but I don't expect to fail."

"For my sake, I hope neither you or my uncle fail," Melissa says with a dry laugh. "I've done this once. I don't wanna do it again. And I don't wanna end up hating my uncle." There's a long pause. "Anything else you need to ask or tell me? Because if not, I've got something I wanted to ask you." Another wry smile. "Was actually planning to visit you to ask actually. This wasn't how I intended it to go, though."

A brow lifts with curiosity when those words are spoken, and a nod is given, with her eyes wary just the same. Cat isn't certain things said in here aren't being listened to and/or recorded, she doesn't quite trust DHS to honor their privacy as attorney and client, but she can only hope that subtle shift to her expression conveys the essence of caution to Melissa without at the same time cueing the Feds in to discussion of business other than the case at hand.

"The name Primatech ring any bells with you?" Melissa's wary herself, so doesn't give all the details. Besides, Primatech was, to the public eye, a legitimate business. nothing fishy going on here, nope!

In other words, a Company company. Melissa sighs at that news. "Great. And not sure. I need to find someone who used to work for them thirty years ago, and all I have is a first name to go on."

Seeming merely curious, Cat asks "What name is that? Can't see why anyone would want to dig up anyone tied to that bunch."

"Didn't know it was tied to that bunch," Melissa admits with a shrug. "We'll talk more about it later. It's not my deal, and it's none of the government's business," she says, tipping her chin up towards the camera.

"Keep your head up, Melissa," Cat recommends as she rises to her feet and approaches the door where a signal is made for the guards to let her out, "we'll talk again soon." It doesn't sit well with her, leaving Melissa behind this way, but hope exists as does confidence. "You'll be kept well informed on the progress in your case."

"Yeah, right," Melissa mutters, clearly already depressed about the whole situation. "You'll remember to let everyone at home know what's going on?"

"Without delay," Cat assures, just as the door is opened and she's let out. A thought surfaces, to comment she'd tried to arrange bail, but it seems pointless to report that fell flat given the prison escapee angle.

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