The Loop


elisabeth_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif

Scene Title The Loop
Synopsis Jessica meets with Elisabeth to get the low down of what she's missed while laying low.
Date April 9, 2010

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries and research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

When the text came through from the unfamiliar phone number, Elisabeth was wary. But when she returned the call and found Jessica on the other end, she immediately made arrangements to get out of the base. Making her way to the library is getting more and more complicated by the weather and the fact that the deep snow leaves tracks, but she's getting damn good on those snowshoes!

Lots of huffing and puffing later, she's inside the library waiting on Niki's alter ego to arrive. She's still wrapped up in the all-black clothes that go beneath the heavy winter gear that she was issued through FRONTLINE. Her blond hair is caught back in a headband to keep her ears warm in spite of being indoors, and her wet outer clothes are piled in a corner near one of the portable heaters in an attempt to dry them out before she has to go back out in the mess. The map room has sort of become the de facto meeting room for the group, and Elisabeth passes that information on to Jess so she can be found without making the brick search. She's sitting in the room next to the heater with a steaming mug when Jess comes in.

"Hey." Elisabeth's voice is a raspy sound — it could have been assumed to be the phone, but in point of fact she's caught a cold that she's only just getting over. "Long time no hear from, lady," she offers. "There's coffee."

"You know that whole thing you're wearing is hideous, right?" Gina had asked from the mirror in the kitchen-slash-dining room while Jessica sat at the table and pulled on a pair of practical snow boots.

"Which thing would that be?" Jessica muttered as she finally got the boot to tug the rest of the way on.

Gina pulled a face and pointed, "That coat. That thing is ugly. And it makes us look fat. I thought black was supposed to be slimming!"

Jessica sent a scowl over her shoulder to the pseudo-reflection in the mirror. "It's that, or suffer frostbite. You tell me which one is more unattractive."

"You win this round."

When Jessica looked back, it was Niki gazing back at her. She had no such complaints about their practical winter attire. "Don't throw Liz through a window or anything, okay?"

"That's entirely up to her, isn't it?" Jessica had grinned while Niki looked vaguely dismayed.

Jessica's wearing that same grin now as she seems to size Elisabeth up where she sits. "Thanks," she murmurs, shedding her coat before moving to take advantage of the offered coffee. "You sound terrible. I thought maybe you were just going through a tunnel."

"Ffft," Elisabeth snorts softly. Their last real interactions were at least on good terms… hell, Jess even offered some words of wisdom regarding being tortured. That's pretty decent terms in Liz's book. Though the whole situation around Micah's body may have strained that relationship — such as it is. "I wish," she replies huskily. She remains sitting through a bout of coughing, and then asks mildly, "How's Niki holding up?" Because it's patently clear to her who she's faced with at any given moment. She moves to stand up, restlessly pacing the room.

Jessica takes the space of time it takes her to pour her coffee and take the first sip to think about her words before she responds. There's a glance about for any mirrors before she responds, "Not well, but she's better than she was." They both are. Niki may be Micah's true mother, but he was Jessica's son, too. "It's tough," she says honestly, "losing him twice."

"I can't even imagine," Elisabeth replies softly, her mouth twisting into a grimace. "There aren't words for how sorry I am that you couldn't get to him sooner." So much between them… so much for Niki and Jessica to handle. She's not exactly sure what to say — Had it been Niki who came through the door, Liz wouldn't have hesitated to hug the other woman. But Jessica rarely if ever invites such familiarity. And there's been a lot that has gone on since Niki and Jess went walkabout. "Usually if someone's going to call me just for chatting, it's not you, though," she says quietly, coming to a stop in front of Jessica. "What's on your mind?" She doesn't appear upset at the notion, merely matter-of-fact.

Jessica has to admit, if only privately, that she admires Liz for her ability to cut through the bullshit and get down to business. It's a good quality in women like them, in her opinion. "I want back in. I've given Niki enough time. I need to get back into the game." Admitting she needs help isn't the easiest thing, but it's more like a courtesy, she thinks. Either bring me back into the loop, or I'll just go around it.

A single brow arches up, and there's a faint smile. It took them both long enough. "Good," Elisabeth says softly. "You're just in time." Though her voice is hoarse and a little bit in and out, there's a demeanor to her that Jessica may not have seen before. A more in-charge kind of feel to her. Whatever's gone on since they left, Elisabeth is clearly comfortable making this decision without consulting anyone else.

"How far out of the loop have you been?" Liz asks as she moves to rest her hips back against the counter and sip her coffee. "Some of what I have to say may piss you off royally, but I think you may be key in getting some things straightened out."

Jessica finds herself re-assessing Elisabeth suddenly, if subtly. "Why don't you treat this meeting like this is our first on the subject? I'd rather you repeat things I already know than guess at what I know and end up leaving something out. For the sake of argument, let's say I'm miles away from the loop." The woman's expression is passive, brows lifting. Go on.

Taking in a deep breath, Elisabeth nods slightly. She looks thoughtful. "All right," she says. "We are in the process of building a run on Linderman." Blue eyes study Jessica closely. "Based on what happened in the future that all of you saw, we know who took over the Linderman Group after Linderman was taken down, and Richard is in the process of cultivating that person and assisting in the takedown. I think that will interest you mightily. In addition…. Micah's digital avatar, or some form of it, is helping. Or at least… we hope it's helping. Micah and his mentor technopath along with Wireless were forced into a fight with another technopath out there. The only thing I know about the fight is that the other guy was damn strong, and so Micah and his mentor apparently had to merge with him or something to contain him. Cat has more details on it, I think, but honestly… for the most part, I've been forced to steer a little bit clear. Kershner's watching over my shoulder with my position in FRONTLINE, and since we don't want to lose that foot in the door, I'm having to be a bit careful. You, on the other hand, might be able to get the new merged entity to talk to us more frankly — he's going by the monikier "Rebel" now."

Jessica is actually stunned for a moment, fixing Liz with a stare that's something between a sneer and proper disbelief. It softens slowly, fading into something far more vulnerable. Something a little more scared. "Are you saying that what's left of Micah isn't even Micah anymore?"

It doesn't last long. Jessica's quick to regain control before Niki can do something like sob on Elisabeth's shoulder. Ugh. "Keeping Kershner at bay can't be an easy task," she muses before the topic of what Micah is or isn't can be expounded upon. As far as Jessica's concerned, Micah has been dead for a long, long time, and all that matters is making Linderman pay for that. "I'll talk to Rebel if it'll help." The prospect doesn't thrill her, but she accepts it as a necessary evil.

"It may help, it may not. I'd rather talk to Richard and Claire about whether they think that would be useful at all before you do it…" Elisabeth's tone remains neutral though when the slip into Niki happens, she looks sympathetic for her friend and a bit sad as well. "I don't know how much control the Micah part has, honestly — right now, what we do know is that Rebel has a plan that seems to coincide with our goals. But he has an agenda of his own and we don't know what that is yet."

Setting her coffee on the counter behind her, Elisabeth pauses a moment to cough again. Then she continues. "Kershner's a shark. And she's got her own agenda, but we're managing so far. The plans we've got in motion obviously couldn't be made with you in the mix, and that may alter how we're doing some things. Your ties and insider knowledge may be invaluable." She shrugs slightly. "There's one other thing you should know. Richard and I are sort of tag-teaming the leadership situation here for a variety of reasons. One of them is that he is currently stuck in shadow form and he's somewhat…. fragile. So if he comes up behind you while you're here and whispers in your ear, try not to go ballistic on him, okay? He has a tendency of surprising people."

Jessica only nods her head a fraction to show she's heard and understood each point brought up. "I'm not sure how much I still have in the way of cooperative connections. It will depend largely on what you need from my end. We'll see how things play out." The edge of Jessica's grin is wicked as the curve of a knife. Her thoughts likely are as well.

When Elisabeth explains Cardinal's state of being to Jessica, she seems somewhat dubious in accepting it, but casts a look around to the shadows anyway. Guess it's not that far-fetched. "Good to know."

Elisabeth actually snickers a bit, which sets off a coughing fit. When she finishes, she comments, "Yeah… a lot of people have that response when they see him." There is a wealth of worry that comes with that situation, but Liz doesn't share it. She and Jessica are not friends of that caliber. "Are you going to need or want to stay here? We've got people bunking down here in the lower levels against the weather. Or if you have your own place to stay long-term, just be cautious coming in and out. We'll post your cell number with the others in the lowest levels so that people like Peyton and Richard can get to them."

"I've got a place," Jessica confirms. "And don't worry, I won't lead anyone here that isn't meant to be here." The roll of the eyes that accompanies that statement is only internal. Liz is being cautious, and Jessica can respect that. "You should probably put a note down with that number to make sure that they're talking to me or Niki." The disgust is evident as she adds, "If they get Gina, they should just hang up."

Elisabeth reaches up and rubs her forehead, unable to help the smirk of amusement. "Yeah," she admits. They probably should. "You two seem to be doing a lot better about … the sharing thing." The shift from Jess to Niki and back again was nearly seamless, but the ex-cop didn't miss it. "Give me a couple days to get Richard in contact with you — I'm about to be arrested." There's a hint of unease in that tone, but her attitude is not one of panic or 'OMG!'

Jessica narrows her eyes to squint at Elizabeth. "Wait. I think you want to run that by me again. With more details this time. People don't generally know they're about to be arrested. Aren't you cops usually sneakier about that shit?"

"Weeeelllllll… yes, usually." Elisabeth shrugs slightly. "I'm not sure there is a short version to this but basically what happened is that a Homeland Security bastard masquerading as an IA fuck busted me a few months ago and shipped me off on a top secret mission that was essentially expected to be a suicide run. It's a long story — three teams off to beat the shit out of Vanguard bases; a bunch of us were given pardons for previous transgressions against the law and I was given a spot on FRONTLINE's new squad to keep doing what I've been doing for a year anyway. It's the same classified run that Cardinal was injured on. He…. stopped a nuclear warhead from exploding by bringing it into the shadows with him and it shredded him."

Liz sighs heavily. "So anyway…. my group went off and I was forced to kill the only child of one of the Vanguard's founding members. He's decided it was personal. And he's got a serious enough hard-on to get to me — and some of the rest of my team by extension — that he's tried to kill Teo's mother and Abigail's parents and succeeded in killing Cat's mother." The murder of Jenn Chesterfield has been all over the news. "Now he's hitting kids that Teo and I used to teach at Washington Irving high school. So to gloss over the rest of it, I'm going to be bait. We're going to have me arrested and be waiting for them when they hit the prisoner transfer vehicle." She still has to talk to Teo and Francois about it, but …

Jessica mulls over what Liz has told her and finally nods her head. "Not a bad idea," she admits. "If you need a hand with that, let me know. I've got a sniper rifle I can dust off." And there actually is some dust on the case, which Jessica thinks is completely shameful.

Elisabeth hesitates and then says, "Actually… if you want the God's honest truth, Jessica, that would make me feel a lot more confident about the matter. My FRONTLINE squad is pretty damn good, but… Dreyfus is a very smart man. And he's got Feng Daiyu, an ex-CIA operative, and some others on his payroll that concern me. I'll keep you abreast of the specifics once I have them."

"Sounds good," Jessica intones quietly. "Keep me in the loop, and I'll see about keeping you alive along enough to see Linderman pay for what he's done."

Elisabeth smiles, though it's not in amusement this time. It's more an agreement — because Linderman is going to pay. And Elisabeth's not above helping Niki and Jess make it happen whatever way Jess sees fit — some things are not to be borne. "Glad to be working with you again, Jess."

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