Now, Turn



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Scene Title Now, Turn
Synopsis Niki Zimmerman is booked.
Date November 27, 2019

“Turn to the left.”


“Turn to the right.”


“Now face the camera.”

Niki Zimmerman turns to face the camera, holding up the plaque she’s been given, stating her name and the charges leveled against her. She smirks and gives two thumbs up.


Liz will either give her hell for that mugshot later, or a pat on the back. Maybe both.

She’s led away to wait on a bench, one wrist cuffed and attached to a bar at her back. Her knee bounces restlessly as she waits for the others she was brought in with to be processed. She’s grateful for the electronic fingerprinting system in use these days. No trying to rub away ink from the pads of her fingers. That stuff stays with you for days.

NYPD 76th Precinct

Red Hook, NYC Safe Zone

November 27, 2019

7:47 pm

It doesn't take long for Niki to be processed, transferred in a new Yamagato-brand SUV from the precinct to lockup. The trip reminds her of being transferred between Company facilities, although her memories of those times are hazy. Jessica had so much control at that time, and while she knows, realistically, that Jessica was always a part of her, trauma is funny in the ways it affects memory. Niki’s will never quite be crystal clear, and she’s long since made peace with that.

The drive gives her time to think of a lot of things she never made peace with. DL, who she never really buried and is only partly sure is dead based on execution records unearthed during the Albany Trials. Peter, who she gave everything to in a desperate bid to keep something she thought was good in her life and damn near got her killed, then blew up over Manhattan just like his selfish ass wanted. Micah, who…

Oh, Micah

NYPD Holding Facility

Red Hook

9:40 pm

There's only one other person in the cell they're keeping Niki in. A woman ten or fifteen years her senior, scars say she may have seen combat whether she intended to or not in the civil war. Burn scars, covering most of her hands and neck, some on her chin and nose. It must have been excruciating. She's not really in the cell, though. Physically, sure, hunched on the bench and staring through the bars. But she's sweaty, in a fugue state, and Niki knows what addiction looks like. Probably morphine, maybe worse. Likely started for one pain, continued for another.

There's time to think about that outcome, too. Alcohol was always Niki’s vice, but somehow she avoided the sharper hooks, the needles and pills, managed to not end up like that even if all the odds were stacked against her to do just that. It's hard not to see some of herself in the woman. If it weren't for what was about to happen, she might. But there's a guard coming down the walk, making eye contact with Niki all the way until he reaches the bars.

“Zimmerman?” He says in a tone only a cop can. “Bail’s been posted.”

Apparently her phone call to Mother paid off.

Red Hook

9:53 pm

Unbound and escorted through to the front of the building, there’s a different flavor of sleek black SUV waiting outside. Mentally, she steels herself for the tongue lashing she expects to receive once she’s seated next to her mother. Opening the door, however, she discovers the back seat empty. Tinted glass - not unusual - separates her from the driver of the vehicle. She shuts the door and buckles up as the vehicle pulls away from the curb. “Couldn’t even come for me herself,” she mutters softly, actually somewhat disappointed.

The city passes by, all bright lights juxtaposed against crumbling and condemned buildings and construction zones. The vehicle slows for a stop sign at the intersection that would lead back to her home.

The car doesn’t make the turn.

Ah. That explains it. Claudia may not have been able to make the pick-up in person, but she can bring her daughter to her. Admonishment on her own turf. Niki’s tongue darts out between her lips a moment, then her lower lip is drawn between her teeth as she considers how much trouble she’s going to be in.

Niki slides her red-cased phone out of her pocket and taps on a picture of her mother’s face, beautiful with a kind smile, and waits for the call to connect. It goes to voicemail.

A sigh begins her message. “Hey, Mom. I just wanted to thank you for… Well, you know.” Bail money. Sending a car. “I thought I’d better get that out of the way before everything else. Hoped you’d pick up the phone, but… I guess this way, the next time you’re mad at me, you can listen to this message and remember that I’m really grateful.”

The car does not make the turn toward the clocktower, either.

In the backseat, Niki goes very still. Silence ticks by for several long seconds on the message.

Bail was posted awfully fast, and no one said who was responsible for it. She never bothered to look and see who was driving the car.

A terrible mistake has been made. Hopefully one that doesn’t prove fatal.

The silence is broken by a deep inhale of breath. There’s just one more thing she needs to say: “I love you, Mom.”

A tap on the red circle on the phone’s screen ends the call. Niki clutches the cell in her white knuckled grip in her lap. Grey-blue eyes stare straight ahead at the darkened glass between her and the driver, as though she might suddenly be able to see through it and in doing so determine what lies ahead for her.

The car continues eastward, and Niki can see the sign for Flatbrush Ave Extension as the vehicle turns southeast. Around that same time the tinted partition slides down a crack so the driver up front can talk to her. “Sorry, I'm gonna need you t’slide your phone in here ma’am.” The voice is vaguely familiar, but not enough to be immediately recognizable.

“You ain't gonna be hurt,” the driver clarifies, “but discretion is the better part of something or another, so it'd be swell if you could comply. I was supposed to snag it from you earlier and, you know, that's my bad.”

She could refuse. Prepare for the vehicle to pull over and brace herself for a fight. Not like it's the first one today, after all, but she's still battered and bruised from the scuffle at the market, and she doesn't bounce back the way she used to. And, more than likely, whoever it is up there (why is that voice so familiar?) has a gun.

Her gaze stays glued ahead as she inches one hand over to test the handle of the door. Naturally, it doesn't budge.

Weighing her options, Niki narrows her eyes, reaches up and slides her phone through the slot. "At least leave the memory card intact, okay? I haven't backed up all my photos to the cloud." She can be as glib as he can.

Suresure,” comes from up front, and whoever takes the phone on the other side of the partition does so haphazardly. “So here’s how it’s going to work, we’re almost there, and I’ve only been instructed to drop you off, so…” There’s a rush of cold air that suddenly comes gusting in through the gap in the privacy screen, “you know don’t shoot the messenger or use nuke fingers or whatever, ok?”

Niki watches her phone fly by the window, hit the street, and shatter. He threw it out the fucking window.

"Ah c'mon!" Niki protests when her phone goes flying past the back window and collides with the pavement. "What did I just ask?" It feels better to crack jokes than let on that she's actually afraid that her luck has finally run out.

The cold air stops as the driver puts up his window, then turns on to an adjacent street and into the lightless stretch of Park Slope. The SUV rumbles and jostles on the broken, untended road, and the driver curses to himself up front. “So, just to clarify, I don’t think this is a dig your own grave sort of situation,” he says casually. It’s harder now for Niki to tell exactly where they are, “which is good, right?”

The lack of light doesn't help her keep her bearings. She'd had a pretty good idea of where they were at first - she's combed most of the broken city and knows it's crumbling avenues well - but now…

"Yeah," she calls back to the assurance. The messenger doesn't even know if he's delivering her to a shallow grave or not. Probably doesn't care. Karma is probably catching up to her here. "Great news."

But she has noted something. Whoever is behind this doesn't know she's without her ability. More importantly, they're aware of what she used to be able to do with it. While she mentally draws up a list of possibilities, she suspects she'll find out who's sent for her before she's able to deduce it herself. Sherlock Holmes she is not.

The path through Park Slope’s demolished streets ends as the SUV takes a slow right off of the road and over a curb, down through untended grass and under the boughs of leafless trees. Judging from the little bit Niki can see from the diffuse glow of the headlights out the side windows it’s an abandoned park, probably what was once Prospect Park. Judging from the rough passage this was a footpath through the park at one point in time.

The remainder of the drive gives Niki time to focus on her breathing and prepare herself for what’s next. Her lips purse tight as she watches the overgrown remains of the park pass by the windows. She’s been in worse situations.

Eventually the SUV slows down, emerging from under the boughs of dead trees to an open, star-filled sky. She can hear the electric vehicle’s engine turn off, and then with a resounding click the doors unlock without another word. It’s meaning is clear.

When the doors unlock, Niki unclasps the belt then shoves her door open roughly. “All right, you Pure Earth fucks,” she starts as she stomps out of the vehicle and toward the front of it, where the headlights still illuminate the way ahead. “Let’s get this over with. I am not fucking scared of you!”

The night responds with silence. But as Niki pivots in the headlights, looks around in the darkness of this starlit clearing, she recognizes the face through the windshield. That smug smile, boyish features, that dopey voice. Echoes of Las Vegas, faces around the club she worked at, lots of money and very handsy. Michael something.


Michael Green.

A rush of air blows against Niki’s back, warmer than the crisp November breeze, it feels like someone breathing down her neck. When she pivots back toward the sensation, there’s someone standing in the headlights that wasn’t there a moment ago. Unlike Michael Green, his features are immediately — horrifyingly — recognizable. Blonde hair, blue eyes, more tired than she recalls from Level-5.


“Hello, Niki.”


Niki staggers back a step, back of her left knee colliding with the bumper of the SUV. She’d been prepared for a fight with some thugs, to throw around her clout and her status to get herself out of the mess she thought she’d gotten herself into. This is not that mess. This is much, much worse.

Think, Niki. Think. And not just about strangling Green with his own intestines.

Prospect Park. The path is at her back. It leads to the road, which leads to…

Nowhere she can get to on foot before Green’s liable to run her down with the vehicle. And Monroe manifested from nowhere. He didn’t get out of some other vehicle or step out of the bushes. No matter how fast adrenaline can propel her, the odds are stacked against her here.

“Oh, shit.”

Easy,” Adam says like he’s talking to a wild animal, palms out and voice smooth. “This isn’t one of those kinds of meetings. You and I need to talk, Niki. I’m not here to hurt you or…” he vaguely gestures to the air with one hand, “whatever is a reasonable fear to have regarding your old cell mate.”

There’s an expression on Adam’s face, hesitance, also uncertainty, worry. “I hope you understand why I didn’t just pick up the phone or pop on by your apartment, what with my being Public Enemy Number One to most of the entire government. Please,” Adam slowly lowers his hands, “can we talk? There’s… a lot I have to explain t’you.”

She does resemble a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming Mack truck, so it’s not necessarily unreasonable to treat her like a wild animal that’s been spooked. Given that Adam is Public Enemy Number One, as he so eloquently put it, it’s not necessarily unreasonable for Niki to be reacting the way she is either.

“So you sent that asshole?” She jerks a thumb back toward the car and Green. They are old cellmates, after all. There’s some familiarity there, even if she can’t remember those days clearly. She’s still spooked, but annoyed enough to push past it.

Pale eyes sweep down to Adam’s shoes and the mulch and fall-decayed foliage beneath his feet, then work their way back up to his face again. “I don’t see that I have a lot of options here. You may as well speak.” Niki believes that he doesn’t mean to hurt her, and it shows in the way her posture begins to relax. Or, at least, she doesn’t look ready to bolt like a frightened rabbit anymore. Slowly, she’s morphing form prey to cornered predator, arms folding over her chest and gaze hardening.

Adam only asks her one, simple question. “Have you had any strange dreams?” But it’s a pointed enough question to make her breath hitch in the back of her throat.

Even in the dark, it’s possible to see the blood drain from Niki’s face. “Yes,” she responds, lips thin. “I thought it was just nightmares, but… I’ve seen things that I couldn’t possibly know.”

Exhaling a sigh through his nose, Adam presses the heel of his palm to his forehead and wrenches his eyes shut. His lips move, but whatever he says is lost under his breath. Something sharp, flung like a curse. But not at Niki.

Adam looks through his splayed fingers as he drags his hand down his face, taking a few slow steps toward Niki. “I don’t know how much you know of the truth, Niki. About where your life and my life intersects, how much Claudia chose to tell you, how much…” Adam shakes his head and furrows his brows. “You’re in a tremendous amount of danger, you’re a danger to yourself and others just being here in the Safe Zone.”

Tensely, Adam lowers his hands and looks for all his worth like he’s trying to keep himself from running away. “You and your sisters,” Adam says gravely, “have a very large target painted on your backs.”

Niki stands her ground, having found some steel to reinforce her spine somewhere around the time Adam started looking scared. She tries to decide where to begin. "My mother says we," her and her sisters, "were the result of a genetic experiment. Her embryos, and your… DNA."

To her credit, she keeps from making a face. "But I've heard another version that says you're… That you were actually my father." Rather than a glorified and possibly unwilling sperm donor. "I don't know what to believe. I remember growing up, but even that's in fragments." She'd always blamed trauma from the abuse at the hands of Hal Sanders, but what if it was something else?

"What's going on?"

Adam’s expression remains hard to read as Niki outlines two possible histories for herself. His placid features betray neither the truth nor the lies behind either possibility. Exhaling a sigh through his nose, Adam closes his eyes and looks to the side at the darkness of the park, then back to Niki. “If I told you, it would only make it worse. I don’t mean that in a patronizing sense it’s… complicated.”

Slowly closing the distance on Niki, Adam hunches his shoulders forward and tucks his hands in his pockets. “The past is coming back to kill us all,” he says in quiet confidence. “Me, you, your sisters, everyone. I…” Adam makes a noise in the back of his throat and swallows down something he wants to say. It stays unsaid.

“I need your help,” is what Adam chooses to say instead. “I can’t go to Barbara, she’s in too deep with the government and Richard. I don’t know if Tracy is even alive anymore, last I knew she was… with Mitchell’s people during the war.” Adam’s pale eyes search the ground, then drift up to Niki. “You might be the key to stopping all of this.”

“Complicated,” Niki repeats flatly. “That’s new.” Same shit, different year. All the same, her posture relaxes some. Crossed arms loosen and drift down to link thumbs through belt loops instead. Open posture, open mind.

I need your help.

It’s not intentional when she scoffs, nudging the dirt on the ground beneath them with the toe of one sneaker. She worries that every time she helps, things only end up worse than before. Or, at least, worse for her. Still, she looks at the look on Adam’s face, and finds herself thinking he might actually be being sincere.

“Stopping what?

Adam looks aside, then back to Niki. “Imagine something so terrible, that the mere mention of it makes it stronger. Imagine something that the combined strength of all the Company founders was useless against. Imagine the end of the world, and them give it consciousness.”

His analogy is overly poetic, but Adam prefers it that way. “I know how this sounds, and I know what I’m asking you is unreasonable, but I need you to come with me.” Slowly, Adam extends a hand to Niki. “I need you to trust me, just this once, and I promise…”

Adam’s brows furrow, his hand held in offering. “You’ll get your answers.”

There’s no attempt made to hide her incredulity from her features as Adam describes what’s got him so spooked. “Don’t you think that’s a little much?” Niki asks dubiously, quirking one brow.

But he’s still so serious.

Niki lets out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding and looks down at that outstretched hand. Her eyes find his again before she reaches out and accepts the olive branch and the invitation. Someone has to find out what’s going on, and it may as well be her. Maybe she can figure out how to stop him.

Or whatever’s coming.

“You won’t regret this,” Adam says in a way that makes Niki wonder, somewhere deep down inside, if she just might. But as she takes his hand, Niki can feel the world around her begin to change, bend, twist, and blur as though she were moving at rapid speeds to somewhere else in a distortion of reality. Michael Green watches Niki and Adam disappear in an instant, followed by a deep sigh as he rests his head in one hand.

Deep down inside of Niki, a knot of tension stirs.

Like something waking up.

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