Rabbit Hole


elisabeth2_icon.gif jane2_icon.gif

Scene Title Rabbit Hole
Synopsis Frustrations running high lead to a tenuous alliance between two women with trust issues. Especially concerning each other.
Date February 09, 2011

Textile Factory 17

Although it's barely 8:30am, Elisabeth's already hit the ground running. She swings back through the operations center still wearing Horizon armor on her way to the locker room, her helmet tucked under her arm. She's been part of one of the teams on the streets since 5:00, when a gas leak in a tenement near the dome leaked enough gas to finally ignite. She looks weary and a bit dirty — her helmet doesn't cover the bottom of her face, so the grime from the fire has gotten on her exposed skin.

"Faulkner, team two is back on the grounds — they need a couple hours downtime before being deployed again. I'm going to grab a shower and I'll be back on the floor in ten," the blonde tells the tech. When he acknowledges, she takes off for the locker room to get the smell of smoke off herself, and then she returns to the ops center, her hair still damp. "All right, gimme the rundown," she tells him, a hot cup of coffee in her hands.

There's a small knock just after Liz gets back from her shower, and Jane seems to have been anticipating her arrival here. "Before you do that, mind if we have a word, Harrison?" The DoEA agent, this time around, seems a little more serious, her jovial demeanor at previous meetings left behind. Maybe she hasn't had her coffee. But she has with her a messenger bag, slung over her shoulder, which is also a new addition. "It'll just be a moment."

Elisabeth's posture goes a hair more tense, and the blonde turns at the sound of the voice. "Of course, Agent Pak." She pivots on a heel and leads the way to the conference room-slash-office, allowing Jane to precede her into the room. Closing the door behind the agent, Elisabeth walks to the table and sets her coffee down carefully before turning to look at her. "What can I do for you today?" she asks simply.

Jane does take a seat this time, but instead comes to a stop next to a table and turns back to look at Liz. "Recently, we had a bit of a development come up. In the case. Maybe it's nothing, but you know how it is, got to cover all the bases in this business. You know a man named Aric Gibbs?" It's all delivered as if it were one long sentence, and while she is in a more serious mood, her tone still doesn't hold much in the way of accusation. Curiosity, though.

Elisabeth purses her lips. "Aric Gibbs," she says thoughtfully. "Guy runs the Blue Moon Cafe — they've got divine brownies. And they put real fudge in their mocha lattes. To die for." She tilts her head. "His assistant manager called me a while back, something about the guy disappearing. I'd given him my card once for one of those free coffee drawings or something," she admits. "When she told me that he'd gone to report being attacked by an Evo, I told her that he'd be okay but it wasn't really my jurisdiction so …." She trails off. "Why?" she asks curiously. "What's happened?"

"So no real interaction beyond customer to shop owner," Jane says, a hand moving to rest on her hip. "She's right, he did go missing. I'm trying to find him. It's sort of a… side project," she notes, which probably means her bosses don't really know she's doing so. But letting it go doesn't seem to be an option.

"Had a tarot reading by him once," Elisabeth says with a small smile. "Love those things, even though they're stupid as hell." She tilts her head. "The assistant manager had said that you were the person who took him, Agent Pak, which is why I didn't bother to follow up. You're telling me he's gone missing from Homeland's custody? How the hell did that happen?" she asks, looking genuinely concerned.

"You must have been a favorite of his, Harrison," Jane notes, as she opens the flap of her bag and pulls out a photograph. And this picture is of a piece of art that bares a striking resemblance to the FRONTLINE officer. "We found that in his apartment after he went missing. It's pretty impressive, isn't it? Didn't see any work of his other customers in his art stuff." As for how anything happened, Jane seems to be silent for the moment. "But, I suppose if you're just a customer, then I came to the wrong place." Oddly enough, Jane seems worried, too, rather than on the hunt.

Elisabeth reaches out to take the picture, clearly and obviously startled. "Oh!" The blonde nibbles her lip, her head tilted as she studies the picture. She seems uncertain and then looks up at Jane, apparently relenting on something because of the woman's tone. "I… liked him. He's a handsome man. Unfortunately, he isn't attracted to people like me. Not the right team, if you get my meaning. I didn't realize that he…" She hesitates. "Frankly, I don't like having my private life dug into like this, but now you're scaring me. Aric Gibbs is a fucking coffee shop owner. He was attacked, went to the cops about it, and now you're telling me that he was sent to Suresh — to you — and you somehow lost him? What the hell's going on?"

"It's sort of my job to dig into your personal life, Harrison. Since leveling with me isn't on the table. And Gibbs, maybe he was just a coffee shop owner before, as much as I doubt it, but now he's poofed into thin air. And I have reasons to believe he's purposefully keeping himself away from anyone he might have trusted before. And given the chain of events, I don't really blame him. But at the same time, he's way too… nice a person to be on his own," Jane says, her hands gesturing wildly as more emotion gets into her tone. "This may have started with you and Nash and Cardinal and Chavez and all of you who're wrapped up in that mess, but it's gone beyond that now. And if he really is just a passing face in the crowd, then I'm sorry to have bothered you while you're working, but if he matters to you at all beyond being a handsome coffee shop guy, I need help from the people that know him. Because I don't know where he is."

For a long moment, Elisabeth studies the agent. Her blue eyes are cool, and making a judgement call, she walks around the woman and locks the conference room door. For the first time in months, Elisabeth is using the entirety of her ability. Though there's a twinge in her head when she does it, the precursor to the headache she'll suffer later, the room is just about as secure as she can make it. And when she turns back around to face the DoEA agent, Elisabeth tilts her head. "He's safe, Agent Pak. And right now, he doesn't trust your ass as far as he can spit it. He's a nice guy whose friendship with me got him fucked up the ass by Tyler fucking Case. How much more you want to know? Because I'm tired of watching good agents do the fucking Institute's dirty work for them."

It takes a moment, but Jane lets out a heavy sigh. "I know. I know it was Tyler Case and I know it was the Institute. He left me a voicemail when he was let go, saying he didn't trust me or anyone else, even his friends. And he was scared. He gave me a few names." The agent looks over at Liz, and she frowns. "I was questioning him when they came and took him. They tazed me and drugged him and I woke up and there was nothing. I can't help but feel… responsible. Harrison… I'm not a bad guy. I know the badges make people nervous, but dragging people away and torturing them? That's not what I signed up for. And you can believe me or not believe me, but if Gibbs is with you… if you could find out if he'll talk to be about what happened, I'd appreciate it. I'd like to know what's going to come swarming out at me when I poke this particular beehive."

Elisabeth has a good neutral cop face, but for the first time since they met the blonde lets Jane Pak see the woman behind it. She is fierce. "You're not poking a beehive, Agent Pak. You're waking a sleeping dragon," she says. "Nash, Chavez, whatever you think is going on there? It's little more than a man who felt sorry for a few people — Abigail Beauchamp was fucking kidnapped, and when she was finally freed from her imprisonment on Staten Island, a place the DA refused to even TRY to touch because by then it was No Man's Land, she flat out told me that she'd been kidnapped for her healing ability. And the men who took her? Got her fucking name off the Registry itself. Do you fucking blame her for being scared? Do you blame Nash for maybe feeling like he could help a few people not become targets of assholes like that or even bigger assholes like Humanis First? Who have had their hands on both myself and Ivanov and tortured us in ways that would make Bin Laden look like a fucking pansy?"

Pushing off the door, Elisabeth paces the conference room. No one outside will ever hear word one of what she says in here… unless of course Agent Pak is wired. But somehow Liz doubts it. "Aric will happily talk to you about what happened. By phone. But I'll tell you this much of what I know of what happened to him — Tyler Case waltzed in, fucking attacked him and gave him an electrical power because he needed someone with that power to run a fucking machine. A machine that quite likely will be yet another one of those ultra-classified missions like the one that's in my file that will require some of us to go and do something the rest of the world never gets to know about that keeps them all from being goddamn extinct. While Aric was in the custody of this madman, his power that he has barely a grip on because it wasn't his — in case you didn't KNOW, Tyler Case's ability is to shove someone else's Evo power into another body, thankyouverymuch — couldn't handle the strain and Aric died on the fucking table. Now, luckily enough, the Institute — run by none other than Tyler Case himself — has healers on hand. And Aric is now suffering PTSD as a result of all of this. So no, Agent Pak, he's not going to meet you in person. Would you meet you in person after trusting our government to actually do something about the fact that you were attacked in the streets only to be kidnapped out from under their very noses and tortured by the same guy who attacked you in the first place?"

Furious much? The audiokinetic is so furious her coffee cup on the table is vibrating with bass waves just below the threshold of human hearing. Pak should be feeling them roll over her skin, though.

"No. No I wouldn't. But over the phone is fine. Or if he'd rather just… tape what he's willing to tell me. Whatever. I'm not trying to draw this out for him, but whatever everyone else knows about this place? I don't. Which seems backwards to me, but there it is. And this thing… this thing god high up, Harrison. I have a friend at DHS, someone trustworthy, and she dug into what happened the day they took Gibbs. And the NSA came to tell her to lay off, or being unemployed would pretty much be the least of her worries. And frankly, since I no longer know who I can trust at work or in the other departments, I'm really hoping you're the right person to come to for help." And that's when Jane sits down, pulling out a chair and flopping down into it. "Dragons don't scare me. I'll follow this wherever it goes, because if they're making me into something I'm not, then someone's getting punched, and that's facts right there."

The livid blonde is … actually waiting for Jane Pak to slap her in chains. When what she gets instead is something tantamount to a confession of being in the same boat Elisabeth herself has lived in for two years, she's caught off guard. Reaching up to rub her forehead, she clenches her jaw tightly.

"I want to believe you," Liz admits. "All I ever wanted, Agent Pak, was to be a cop. To do my job and protect people." Her tone is weary as she looks toward the conference room walls as if she can see right through them to the operations center on the other side. "I don't trust anyone anymore." She looks back to the other woman. "You're standing on the edge of the rabbit hole, Alice. And Wonderland? Ain't a bit wonderful. If I talk to you, I want something in return. I want you people off my fucking back."

She never thought she'd be playing the politics. Son. Of. A. Bitch. Elisabeth wonders if this is where it begins. Where she turns into the monster somehow. And she shoves that thought away. "I want you off Nash and off the people he may have helped."

"If I recall, Wonderland was always sort of horrific, wasn't it?" Jane looks over at Liz, frowning slightly, "I can't work miracles, Harrison. I've got to play this as by the book as I can, because if they fire me, then I've got nothing to stand on in all this. But to tell you the truth, you all are pretty good at covering your tracks. I never believed it was a big coincidence, but people lie is the first thing they teach you in lawyer school. And granted, I could march you all down to a nice cell, given the state of things, but that's not how I do business, martial law or not. And actually, it would probably be a pretty crappy cell. and I'd like to think my instincts about you were right, in that you're the right person to have here just now, and that you're good at your job. I'll collect my ever growing lack of evidence, and turn in my report. Nash and Chavez, they're out of my hands, since they've already been caught, but I can, at least, make the count a little less. I wish I could do more. And I will, once I get a handle on just what the fuck is going on. My worldview just recently got shredded all to hell."

Elisabeth walks slowly around the table to pull out the chair directly next to the agent. Lowering herself into it, blue eyes meet dark ones. And there is a wealth of haunted in the blonde's gaze. "Welcome to where I've lived for two years now. What do you want to know?" she asks quietly. "There may be things I flat out choose not to tell you… yet. But you deserve at least some answers." She smiles just a little. "Now, whether you want to believe the things I tell you…. " She shrugs a little. "Can't exactly help you there. But I promise you that anything I do tell you will be the truth to the best of my knowledge."

"When I left the service, I'm was pretty sure I was leaving the worse behind me. Ah, well. Life likes to shake things up a bit." Jane looks over at Liz, though, and she nods, understanding the desire for secrecy, considering the position they're in. "I want to know who Zimmerman is. Doctor Zimmerman. And I want to know… what the hell the Institute really is. How many people has this happened to besides Gibbs and Beauchamp? And is there anyone on the inside over there yet, or is everyone the fucking enemy. To start with. To tell you the truth, I don't know enough to ask the deep questions. I know they like to pose as DHS, I know they torture people and I know three names. Tyler Case, Doctor Zimmerman and someone called Maddox."

Blowing out a breath, Elisabeth holds up her hand. "For the record here, Beauchamp's kidnapping wasn't the Institute. She was plucked off the street by criminals who apparently got their intel from either a cop or someone else with access to the Registry," she corrects.

As to the others, it takes her a moment to collect her thoughts, and she picks up and sips from her coffee cup as she does that. When she sets it down, Elisabeth says, "There really is no short-short version of this. So we'll start with your questions and see where it takes you. Doctor Zimmerman worked for the now-defunct Company. The one that, you know, has taken all the heat along with Pinehearst? He is the creator of a Formula that would grant Evo abilities to non-Evo people. The Institute…. "

Elisabeth pauses again. "The Institute was originally conceived, like the Company and Pinehearst were, to try to protect people. But like any conglomerate, as it gained power, it lost its way. They're essentially the new and improved Company and Pinehearst, or something along those lines. I can't tell you whether there are people on the inside — even if I knew, to tell you might compromise them. They don't really pose as DHS — for all intents and purposes, they are DHS's black ops division. They have a more advanced form of the Horizon armor, even, than we do. They have supporters very high up in the government. So … choose wisely who, if anyone, you tell about all this."

"Oh good, I thought this was going to be dull," Jane says dryly to this little run down. "My current plan was to pretty much tell no one. Agent Hanson, DHS… she's good people. She knows I'm doing this, but beside her, there's just you. If I disappear down a hole, she'll be the one that can get to any evidence I find and things like that. If you all want it."

Jane sits there a moment, fingers tapping on the table in a steady rhythm. "Was Case part of the company, too? Did they all just drift over to the new Company and call it a day?"

"No," Elisabeth says quietly. "Tyler Case was …." How to explain all that in twenty words or less. "For lack of a better way to explain it, he was the one they all wanted. They wanted access to his ability. A number of people worked very hard to try to keep him out of Pinehearst's hands. You have to understand that Pinehearst was formed essentially as a spin-off of the Company when someone decided that the Company wasn't going about things right. A schism of idealogues, as it were." She grins a little, though it's not really in amusement. "To sit here and tell you everything I know would take all fucking night. And it involves things like time travel and Moab prison and any number of things that you'll chalk up to conspiracy theories or the idea that I'm insane," she sighs. "The shortest answer I have is that no, they did not all just drift anywhere. The Institute was formed by a wholly separate group as an … attempt to keep the proper timeline on track. Unfortunately, the guy running the place went around the bend," she says grimly.

Jane laughs a little there, but shakes her head, "Harrison, I've been working with Evolved for a long time now, before the bomb, even. I know better than to write things off as wild conspiracies or assume insanity is the reason behind everything. I'm skeptical, not blind." The agent does look a little skeptical about this protecting the timeline thing, but gives her a nod all the same. "Yes, I can see how that would cause a problem or… twelve. And there's no one within the ranks who could depose him and put someone not crazy at the reins? That would be too easy, I guess."

That brings an interesting look to the face of the director of FRONTLINE Manhattan. "I… decline to answer that at this time," Elisabeth replies carefully. "That's one of those 'not yet' kinds of queries." Her blue eyes on Jane over the rim of her coffee cup are shuttered once more. "You're just now falling down the rabbit hole. That's an answer you get …. about the time you hit the croquet field."

"Ah ha, gotcha." Jane lifts an eyebrow there, because that was an interesting non-answer. "Fair enough. I'll look forward to croquet, then. And that may be the first time I've said that ever in my life." She shifts to stand up, and she looks over to Liz, "I appreciate you being honest with me. I'll be around a while longer. Hopefully, if I'm still investigating you all, then no one else will show up to. I'll let you know how things go there. And try to keep the others off your back."

Elisabeth tilts her head, studying the agent. "I'll make contact with Aric and let him decide whether he's going to talk to you." Her two hands continue to hold the cup in front of her at chin level and she purses her lips. "Tell me about Maddox," she says mildly. "It's a name that I've not come across before."

"All I know about Maddox is that he was involved in Gibbs' torture. There were others, but he didn't get any other names." Jane frowns there, her hands resting on her hips, "I admit, I was assuming he was the bumbling assistant type. The Igor to Zimmerman's Frankenstein."

"Possibly," Elisabeth admits, her expression considering. And then she says, "Everybody lies… for reasons big and small. I'm putting my career and possibly my very life in your hands by trusting that you're not lying to me. I hope neither of us comes to regret that." She moves to set her coffee cup down. "If you have other questions that occur to you… feel free to ask." Her eyes flicker over the agent. "In the meantime… I have teams on the street I need to keep alive and a snowglobe to continue investigating."

"Well. I am, too. So let's try not to screw each other. You know, in the not-so-fun way." Jane gives a nod as Liz goes on, though, adding, "I'll be around. If anything happens, I'll try to get word to you. And you know how to get a hold of me." She ends with a bit of a salute before she starts for the door, and instead of hanging around to chat to the teams, this time, she just makes her way out to the exit.

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