It’s out here somewhere, maybe just behind the trees. Nicole can still hear it, so she can’t drop her gun, no matter how bad the burn in her shoulder gets. In the darkness she can’t tell if she’s walking through grains or just long grass, but it comes up to her knees, whatever it is. If she tries to run, all she can see is herself tripping, falling. Her arms are out straight, she’s locked in weaver stance and she doesn’t dare to move. The flash light at the end of her gun is doing more harm than good: she can’t see it yet, but it’s sure making her more visible.
Good thing they all don’t have eyesight for shit. But hearing is another thing.
“You got eyes on it, Haught?” The radio of her shoulder crackles and Nicole rushes to cover it with her hand, breaking her own formation. She covers the speaker like that'll do anything to muffle the noise. Nicole fiddles around with it, arm awkward crossed around her body and under her neck. She's trying to find the off switch, to cut off the sound before it gets any worse. She takes a step backward and the grass - or wheat, or rye, whatever it is - rustles around her.
Nicole keeps her mouth shut, not even allowing herself the simple pleasure of cursing at the situation she's found herself in. All she wants is to stay quiet, but even her silence doesn't go unnoticed for long.
"Office Haught?" the static, awful voice crackles over the radio again. Nicole is sure it's even louder this time, somehow. She knows where the off switch is supposed to be, but the adrenaline is making her fingers feel bigger than they are and she can't find the ridge in the dark.
"Shut up," Nicole bites, and hopes it's just loud enough to get picked up.
"Officer Haught, back up is en route."
Nicole finally finds the switch and flips it with a touch too much zeal. Nedley'll loose his mind; they're never supposed to turn off their radios in the field. Let him, Nicole thinks, he's not the one out here, alone, because his boss doesn't know how to structure a goddamn roster. If she weren't so busy being scared, she'd be deeply and truly annoyed.
Nicole returns her other hand to its place and immediately the gun feels lighter again. It's a small relief.
Nicole sees rustling in the bushes ahead, a sharp and unnatural shadow. The procedure is to announce herself as a member of the police force, but it's not like she'll get a response.
The road is about a quarter mile behind her, but Nicole can hear the sirens as back up starts to arrive. Nicole winces. All the sound and the lights is likely to do is cause it to freak out, and Nicole still wants to capture it alive. The gun is supposed to be a last resort, but most of her co-workers disagree with her on that point. If they see it before she does, there's no way she'll be able to bring it in.... alive, or whatever.
"Come out," Nicole figures the noise has given her away already.
There's a slim to none chance of her speaking doing anything, but it makes her feel a little better, at least. She sees the rustle again, getting bigger in the foliage, coming toward her.
Nicole adjusts her position. She tenses and relaxes her fingers, lets the movement travel up her arms. She pops out the nitrogen in her elbow and can feel it click.
"Come out," Nicole says again. Again, the rustling. Maybe just the tone helps, even if the words don't, Nicole thinks. Dogs come when you call, after all.
Nicole can hear the chorus of voices getting louder and see the rogue, shaking beams of light as the other officers come closer across the field. She figures she has maybe a minute before they're next to her, and they won't think before shooting.
"Come on..." Nicole isn't sure if she's talking more to it or to herself, and for a second the rustling stops, changes direction. It's walking away, Nicole thinks, it's getting away.
She steps closer, comes right up to the tree line. She can't see how deep in it is so she can only go by sound. It's close. A bit lower than eye level. Crouching, maybe. Nicole's struck by an image of a grey hand darting out of the bushes and grabbing onto her shirt, her hand, pulling her into the foliage, but she knows that's just the B grade horror movies she's seen talking. They're slow. Thank fuck for that.
Nicole turns her beam on when the voices get close enough to form distinct word. The second it's turned on, Nicole finds her mark.
She tells it apart by colour rather than form. Where the trees are all deep and solid in the dark - greens and blacks and navys - it's pale. Not bright, not light, just.... pale. Artificially so, like there's a light source somewhere that she can't identify, that doesn't make sense. Its skin seems to be one tone, like someone stripped out all the highlights and all the shadows and left a watery, off white translucence.
"There you are."
Nicole keeps on hand on her gun as the other drops to her tazer. This time, thank god, she doesn't need to fumble around in the dark.
She pulls it out and swears she can feel it buzzing in her hand, all the energy inside there. Nicole steps just to the left. It's hidden behind two trees, and the gap between them is so narrow that Nicole's sure at least one of the prongs would get caught up in it. Even after she's moved, she gives a frustrated huff. She needs a clearer shot - there's just too much in the way.
The other officers are almost on her now, voices full of a kind of excitement that strikes her as in bad taste.
It's the first call they've had like this is about three months, so she gets it, but she still doesn't think it's right to be so.... glib. Nicole's just glad she got to be the first one on the scene.
Nicole sets her jaw. She'll have to go in.
"Haught, where did it- hey!"
Lenny calls after her just as she steps into the darkness of the trees. He steps into where her foot prints just were only a second after she vacates them, but won't go any further than that.
As soon as she gets past the line of the trees it feels like stepping through a barrier. The sound from the field doesn't reach her as much, neither does the light. Despite the four guys just behind her, Nicole feels alone. Alone... with it. She swings her torch beam again and almost misses it; it doesn't land on its skin but on its jacket, a dark scuffed up leather than sucks up all the light that touches it. Nicole doesn't wait for it to turn around again. They're slow, but they're strong, and she's close enough to grab.
Nicole discharges her taser. It hits, and the thing starts to convulse. It makes a sound somewhere between a scream and a grunt as it falls over onto the forest floor, muscles all locked up in spasm. A mess of clenched teeth and curled fingers digging into the dirt.
Nicole waits three seconds to make sure, and walks up to it.
Lenny must have heard the noise, because he finally catches up to her.
"Are you alright?" He asks. He's swinging his torch around and turning his head, trying to piece together what just happened. Eventually, his beam falls on the body on the ground, still twitching from the electricity.
"Found it!" he calls back behind him, and the other officers breach through the bushes a second later. Lenny aims his gun.
"No!" Nicole grabs his wrist as he aims, "What're you doing? Don't shoot."
In his surprise, Lenny drops his torch and it lands on the ground, the beam still on. Now that the light is stable, Nicole can see more. There are details on the jacket, an intricate pattern of stitching around the shoulders. Obscuring the pattern, hair. Black or brown, long and messy.
"Just let me take.... her in."
Lenny raises an eyebrow, but lowers his gun. He steps back and out of her way. Nicole's boots crunch leaves and sticks underfoot as she walks.
It... she's on the ground, cheek on the dirt and seeming rather disinterested in getting up again. Nicole has her gun ready in case it becomes necessary, but the taser seems to have done its job well enough.
Nicole walked around her to where her hands are. She pulls her hand cuffs from her belt. Normally, she'd be barking orders, telling the perp exactly where and how to get into position. She knows it won't do any good now.
Nicole crouches down, still light on her haunches in case she needs to jump up and out of the way.
Lenny's standing over them, gun still in hand. Watching.
"You wanna help, Lenny, or you just wanna stare?"
Nicole says without looking at him, keeping her eyes pointed down.
"I, uh..." Lenny rubs one of his hands on his pants as he steps back. Nicole doesn't miss how he turns her head away just a fraction, like he doesn't want to inhale. He pulls his hands closer to his body.
"Come on, don't be so precious," Nicole says. She grabs one wrist. The movement is fast and the contact is full, her whole hand wrapping around. Lenny's face tightens a muscle in his jaw jumps. He looks uncomfortable for her.
"Lenny. You know it isn't contagious." Nicole said, even as she knew she'd be handling this one on her own. What you knew to be true and what you felt could be too very different things, Nicole was well aware. In the beginning, she had been just as squeamish about touching them as he was. It had taken a long time to undo what years of movies had taught her.
Nicole slipped one cuff around the left wrist, and then reached for the right. She kept one arm steady, trying not to move it too much. For as dangerous as the situation had seemed a minute ago, Nicole remember her training. They were fragile. They didn't have the same elasticity. Nicole didn't plan on tearing its hand off by being too rough.
She slipped the other cuff around the other wrist and rose to her feet, dusting her hands off on her pants. While she wasn't afraid of contact, it wasn't exactly pleasant, either - Nicole would be stuck with the smell on her hands until she could get back to the station to wash it off. And even then, it tended to linger. Maybe it'd finally be enough of an excuse to get a new uniform if she had to burn this one.
"Come on, Lenny."
Lenny hangs back until Nicole's gaze gets too intense. He gives in and helps, under her direction, but he only touches lightly, like he doesn't want to get anything but his fingertips dirty. Nicole rolls her eyes.
"On three." Nicole says, "One, two..."
They lift on her final count, and get it into a more or less standing position. Nicole tries to get an arm around it's back the way you might carry a drunk friend, but it's not easy. It's dead weight, Nicole thinks. Pun intended.
"Michael!" Nicole calls ahead to the officer still outside in the field, "Bring the car around here. Can't carry this all the way there."
Nicole doesn't hear a response, but the young officer turns around and runs in the direction of the blue-red-blue light a second later. Nicole shifts. Her shoulder aches. It's been a long night, and it's not over.
“Looks like it’s your lucky day, Marcus.”
The prisoner’s head snaps up as he hears the door open and the voice come with it. It's the same officer from before, the red headed one who apparently missed the memo that the police in Purgatory are supposed to take their jobs with a grain of salt.
"Here to treat me to some good ol' fashion police brutality, officer.... what's it? Height?"
"Haught." Nicole stops in front of his cell, plants her feet firmly on the linoleum. There's an odd friction when she walks on it in her boots. It's almost pleasant, sometimes.
"Quite the opposite. Looks like we'll have to wait until the next time you act like a drunk idiot in public."
Nicole steps forward and for all his practiced one liners, all his seething after her after she'd locked him up, Marcus couldn't help but flinch. She was taller than him, for one, but seemed bigger than him in every way he could think of.
She'd been much too thorough in his processing for him to seriously worry about her breaking the rules of police conduct, but he was... confused, to say the least.
Nicole lifted something from her belt and for a second Marcus thought it was her gun, before he heard it jangle. Nicole slipped the key into place and turned it, and have the door a hard pull.
It didn't slide open so much as scraped, the harsh sound of metal and metal grating and loud in the past-midnight air.
"You're free to go," Nicole slipped the keys back into her place on her belt, "You're lucky that lady you yelled at doesn't want to press charges, anyway."
Marcus didn't step outside of the cell. He stood still, in place, uncertain. Was this... a game? A joke? A test? He looked to Nicole for the answer.
"We need the cell," she admitted, her tone and the way she glanced at Nedley's office betraying that this was clearing not her decision.
Marcus shuffles his feet. He ducks just his out, and looks either way outside of his shell.
"What do you mean, need the cell? You can fit, like..." Marcus turns out and mouths something, "Like five guys in here, at least."
Nicole steps back from the still open jailhouse door. From the long corridor, Nicole can already hear the groaning.
"Oh, trust me," Nicole says. Marco's ears twitch at the noise, something deeply unnatural about it, "You don't wanna be rooming with her."
The door opens. There's three officers, all dressed in blue, all barely managing to contain their... prisoner.
"Get out, Marcus."
Nicole steps out of the way while he peers over her shoulder, his eyes trying to adjust. She's just moving so fast, hardly more than a blur, and it's like the more he looks the more she falls apart, he can't tell...
"Fuck!" All at once Marcus leaps across the boundary of his cell, feeling his skin start to itch, "Fucking Christ, man, you should…. Fucking..” he gestures wildly, like he isn’t entirely in control of his own body, “..fucking shoot it, dude, why aren’t you….”
His eyes find Nicole’s gun on her belt and before he can even think, he’s reaching for it. Nicole is even faster, and grabs him around the wrist before he manages anything.
“No, no,” Nicole says, “This is a particular horse you don’t wanna look in the mouth. Get.” Nicole points to the doorway at the end of the office, the backdoor just through it. Marcus bolts, pushing through the door and leaving it swinging as he exits the building.
Nicole checks the cell door. She pulls it open as far as it will go, and steps back. The shadow of the thing is writhing, and Lenny mutters something about how they ‘should put it down back in the field.’
Nicole straightens her back out. The officers try to guide it into the cell but Nicole stops them for a second. She eyes the things jacket. It’s more than a long shot, it’s a hail mary pass, but stranger things have happened.
“Hold her arm to the side. Watch the nails,” Nicole says as she snakes her arm around the things waist. She finds the first pocket empty, and deflates for a second. She checks the second. Bingo.
Nicole flips open the wallet. The money’s no good – torn and eroded from friction- but that’s not what Nicole’s looking for.
“Okay, put her in.”
The officers don’t need to be told twice. One of them, the biggest guy, gives a single hard shove that pushes the body forward a couple of feet into the cell and sets it stumbling. It’s enough to knock it off balance, almost flat onto the floor. In normal circumstances, treatment that rough could’ve earned them a lawsuit. As Nicole reads the driver’s license, she doesn’t have the energy to bring them up on it.
The call rips through the night time and hits an artery, and all at once Waverly is wide awake and bolt upright in her bed. She can feel it, even then, the energy on the other end of the phone.
“Nicole? It’s three in the morning.”
“Are you okay?”
“You need to come to the station.”