Niki Sanders and her older twin sister, Jessica Sanders, grew up with the wealthy, stockholder Hal Sanders. Hal was an abusive alcoholic and would often beat Niki and Jessica but Jessica usually took the beatings for Niki in their father's drunken rages. Niki took comfort in Jessica's calm and collected attitude and protection and came to rely on it. Unfortunately, Jessica, standing up for Niki and herself and becoming more domineering, was choked to death by her father when she was eleven. Niki witnessed the event and eventually Hal practically abadoned Niki.
Niki, oddly had no memory of his abusive actions and simply believed that he ran out on her. She was soon married to D.L. Hawkins and gave birth to his son, Micah. At some point along the line, Niki became an alcoholic, a problem gambler and somewhat of a party animal, but with her husband's help she began to overcome her problems.
In the episode, Six Months Ago, on her first anniversary of being sober, Niki attended an Alcoholics Anonomyous meeting. There, she was reunited with her father and though slightly wary and confused, introduced him to her husband and son. Later at Jessica's grave, Niki and D.L. talk about how good of a help Hal would be with his financial aid and another role model for Micah. As a gift to Micah and a apologetic gesture toward Niki, Hal gives Micah a laptop. Micah, an inventive genius, takes his laptop apart but Hal gets furious and lashes out breaking the table, Micah was working on. D.L. demanded that he leave upon discovering that he is still short-tempered while Niki gets abnormally quiet.
Hal leaves but leaves a check for Micah's tuition for private school. After her father leaves, Jessica, Niki's amoral, ruthless but protective and very dangerous alter ego, siezed control and confronted Hal Sanders. Jessica displays superhuman feats of strength able to push a heavy built man against a wardrobe and lift him up by the neck, choking him at the same time. Jessica reveals that she remembers everything that he did to her even though Niki doesn't. Jessica gives Mr. Sanders a bloody nose and stuffs Micah's tuition check in his mouth.
At the very beginning of the series as of the episode Genesis, Niki is still living in Las Vegas struggling to raise Micah as a single mother. She is forced to work as an internet stripper to pay bills and put food on the table. Her husband, D.L. is in prison for stealing 2 million from the Linderman Corporation, slaying a security guard and murdering his own crew.
Deal with the Devil
Unable to get by and get Micah into a private school which would be best for his gifted mind and to keep Micah out of trouble, she borrows 30 grand from Mr. Linderman, a powerful and influential mobster and the head of the Linderman Corporation. Soon Micah is forced out of private school because she is unable to continue to pay his tuition and is also unable to repay Linderman. Niki, knowing that Linderman is sending thugs, to get his money back scarcely evades them. Eventually she drops Micah off with her friend, Tina, and goes back to their home to collect some clothes to get prepare to go on the run. She is caught and they take her into the garage where she does her internet stripping show.
They want her to strip for them to lower her debt. Niki refuses and it gets physical. Niki has a blackout when one of the thugs try to hit her again. Niki wakes up to find the thugs strewn in the garage, brutally murdered, blood and guts all around. While panicking, she notices herself in the broken mirror. Her reflection smiles and shushes her as her shirt is covered with blood. Niki takes the camera which supposedly was turned on by a thug to record Niki and while she cannot see anything after she has blackout, she hears the carnage. Fearful, she leaves to go get Micah but has another blackout, finding herself in newer, clean clothes and in a parking lot 4 hours later. Niki tells Micah to pack and returns home to clean up the mess only to find it cleaned up and finds a key to a Cadillac with the bodies in it. Niki uses a map found in the car and with Micah, drives to the desert, where she starts digging the bodies. After she finishes she takes Micah to D.L.'s mom's house. Niki and Paulette Hawkins argue and Paulette reveals that D.L. has escaped. Niki takes Micah with her but are eventually hunted down by a crooked police officer working for Linderman.
She and Micah are driven to the Corinthian Hotel in Las Vegas where Ms. Sakamato, a employee of Linderman, tells her the only way she can give Linderman his 30,000 dollars plus 20,000 interest, is to play a game with Nathan Petrelli, a Manhattan politician running for Congress, seducing him into having sex with her to ensure that doesn't cut back on his deal with Linderman. She goes through with it until they are in Nathan's hotel room, where she is unable to do it. She is then confronted by more of Linderman's men who threaten Micah if she doesn't go through with it but her alter ego takes control and gives them a beating they'll never forget and threatens to kill them if they threaten Micah again. Jessica goes back to Nathan and they sleep together. The next morning, Niki wakes up confused without Nathan next to her and ends up watching a tape of herself and Nathan having sex.
Free to go but confused and distressed, she returns home to find police at her home with Micah and Tina who reveal that D.L. is an escaped convict who is supposedly homebound and they are there to catch him. Soon, Ando Masahashi sneaks up into her home and the police catch him. Ando is hoping to begin a relationship with Niki but Niki tells him the truth of her life and that is just an act to make a living. Ando leaves crushed and Niki, a bit sad. As the cops guard her house outside, Niki walks around her house, sensing something amiss but actually D.L. is using his power of phasing to observe his family and sneak past the cops.
D.L. eventually reveals his prescence to Niki by pulling her into dining room through a wall. Niki is very cautious and distrustful of D.L. threatening to turn him in. D.L. tells her that he is there to clear his name and protect his family and he was framed by a woman and is going to see some of his old coworkers for information. The cops hear voices and D.L. vanishes to go see his son and Niki, despite her feelings, turns them away. In the master bedroom, Niki, supsicious of D.L., couches D.L. but due to subtle influences from Jessica changes her mind and invites D.L. to bed.
In the morning, they wake up and D.L. tells Niki that she should be tired since she got up in the middle of the night and came back a while later after taking a bath but Niki doesn't remember doing that. They sit up and Niki sees herself and D.L. but her reflection still laying down rubbing D.L.'s chest smirking. Micah comes in and greets his father. Later, D.L. has Niki take him to his old coworkers place downtown and it so happens that Ando and Hiro were there the night before playing a poker game for their lives. They walk in to witness a destructive and bloody carnage similar to the one found in their garage earlier. They leave in a rush and Niki breaks down back at their house thinking that it's her but she doesn't remember. Niki has another blackout where she forced Micah to pack his bags but returns to her room where she has a face-to-face encounter with Jessica in the mirror.
The Bad Side
Niki thinks she is going crazy and breaks down but Jessica tells her to pull herself together. Niki is crying and confused but Jessica explains that she framed D.L., stole the 2 million, killed the security guards, killed D.L.'s old crew, killed the thugs in the garage, buried their bodies and took that car, beat the snot out of some more of Linderman's men, had sex with Nathan, and killed those idiots at the poker game. Niki stunned about how the bodies were ripped in half, had fist-sized holes, heavy furniture thrown about and doors broken. Jessica makes a passing comment about how she is stronger than she looks and has nothing more to say about it.
Niki says those people didn't do anything but Jessica coldly retorts that witnesses would be sloppy. Jessica says the whole purpose of this is to protect Niki and Micah and to provide them with enough money to last a long time. Jessica persuades her to take the 2 million hidden in the attic and to take Micah and run because D.L. is going to figure it out, take Micah and probably will hurt her in the process. When Niki returns with the money, D.L. is there waiting after figuring it all out, takes the suitcase full of money and threatens to take Micah. Niki begins to have a breakdown but Jessica gets into control and fights D.L. D.L. would've been killed if it weren't for Micah's prescence distracting her. D.L. then suffocated Jessica by phasing his hand into her lungs and choking her and he took Micah and left.
Niki awakens on the floor coughing and winded. After running around the house, she finds out that Micah and D.L. are gone. Niki cries for help after looking in the mirror to find no one but herself. Tina arrives to check on Niki and Micah and Niki tries to confide in her about what's going on with her but Tina thinks that there is no Jessica and that there is just Niki. Later, Niki contacts Nathan for help but is unsucessful. Jessica awakens and takes control and scares Tina offf. Jessica then later goes to a shooting range with a sniper in order to kill D.L. without getting too close.
Niki is nervous about killing D.L. but wants Micah back nonetheless as shown in a mirror but Jessica ignores her pleas. Jessica recieves a call from Micah and poses as Niki and Micah tells her their location. Jessica appears at the motel they are at and from an unseen place, shoots at D.L. with her sniper. D.L. gets hit in the shoulder but upon spotting Jessica phases through a bullet meant for his head that puts out the tire. Jessica follows Micah and D.L. into a nearby forest but is tricked by a false trail.
The next morning, Jessica attacks an unoccupied cabin where D.L. and Micah are staying. During a short battle between D.L. and Jessica that Jessica is winning, Micah tries to calm them down but Jessica backhands Micah sending him hurtling into rocks. Niki comes back and screams for Micah. After a short family reunion and Niki telling them that she has a split personality the police arrive and Niki turns herself in for multiple murder, robbery and framing charges.
Niki is imprisoned for a life sentence but is threatened with the death sentence since the 2 million dollars is missing. Niki has no clue where it is and her interrogator witnesses first hand Niki's split personality disorder constantly switching between herself and Jessica, frightening the interrogator.
When D.L. and Micah visit her, Niki wants to go see her son but the prison guards refuse to let her. As Niki pleads, she gets closer to the prison guard who swings his club at her after warning her. Jessica furious at being contained surfaces and snatches away from him and snaps it in half. Niki returns shocked and is swarmed by multiple prison guards. D.L., cleared of all charges, phases into the prison to find Niki sedated and in a padded room with a broken straight jacket nearby. D.L. tries to spring Niki from prison but Niki refuses while Jessica encourages him. Niki encourages D.L. to support and provide for Micah.
Jessica: Assassin, Henchwoman, Mother
Aron Malsky, another employee of Linderman, accompanied by Linderman's men come Niki's containment cell offering her freedom and being cleared of all charges in exchange for Linderman's assassin and bodyguard. Niki refuses but Jessica takes control saying that she loves money and power and says yes.
She returns home to her family posing as Niki while leading a life as a mercenary and seemingly trapping Niki. Her missions include killing Nathan's bodyguards, robbing a bank to get back valuable jewels for Linderman, killing a traitorous Aron Malsky coming into conflict with telepath Matt Parkman and taking the jewels, gold and 50 grand that Malsky stole from Linderman's personal safe. She ultimately fails to bring in Nathan to Linderman. Niki resurfacing for a brief moment warns Nathan and asks him to knock her out and flee immediately. Jessica awakens unaware of what went on but is aware that Niki is getting stronger when she overpowers Jessica placing a photo of Nathan Petrelli under D.L.'s pillow as a sign.
Jessica's last mission for Linderman was to bring in Micah to him as part of a deal with a hesitant Nathan and Nathan's mother, Angela, upon learning that Micah has the psionic ability to mentally control electronics and the like such as computers in addition to his technological genius. Jessica, still feeling an obligation to protect Niki and therefore her son, refuses so Linderman backstabs her, freezing Jessica's monetarily assets and has Candice, an illusionist, impersonate her as to where bring Micah to Mr. Linderman on a "field trip."
D.L. confronts Jessica about this finally realizing that she has been in control for some time. Jessica for the first time learns of this duplicity and is furious. D.L. wishes to fight her and leaves to go get Micah and Jessica spitefully wishes that he dies along with Linderman, refusing to go. Jessica speaks with Niki in her cosmetic mirror and Niki convinces Jessica to go with D.L. becasue he'll get killed without her skills and strength. Jessica, still looking out for Niki, goes with D.L. but is very sour about it.
Where is Mr. Linderman?
They go to Linderman's manor in Las Vegas to find him that he left for New York City but they discover that Linderman has extensive files on their family and some prophetic paintings from Isaac Mendez one of which showing Niki and Jessica confronting each other in the mirror shown in Better Halves. D.L. thinks that their powers and Niki's split personality disorders are results of experiments on them. Jessica is stunned about being used and betrayed and D.L. cooly asks how does it feel. Jessica and D.L. almost get into a fight but she settles down when she catches a glimpse of Niki in D.L.'s watch and after D.L. threatens her by phasing her into a wall and leaving her there.
They travel to New York to the Kirby Building where Mr. Linderman is staying. They meet up with Mr. Bennet and Matt Parkman who are trying to destroy the Walking Tracker System and to confront Linderman. Matt is frightened to see Jessica and Jessica smiles at him, surprised that he survived. The four team up but D.L. and Jessica go after Linderman and Candice and to search for Micah while Bennet and Parkman go after the Walker Tracker System but Bennet warns them that Candice and her power of illusion is dangerous but Jessica says that she is also dangerous.
They ambush Mr. Linderman in his office, Jessica tossing Linderman across the room like a ragdoll. Linderman tries to calm them down but the two are furious at being used and watched and observed. D.L. wants to stop Linderman permanently but he has Jessica to get Micah. Before Jessica leaves, Linderman tempts her with millions of dollars for her to kill D.L. and leave quietly and never come back, taking Micah with her as he has no use for him anymore. Jessica wants to as she still holds a grudge towards D.L. and loves money but she backs off, knowing what's best for Niki, lets Niki take control again after a deep breath. Niki and D.L. have a brief reunion but Linderman, evilly calls Niki out, calling her pitiful and worthless and weak, and takes out a gun and shoots Niki, but D.L. jumps in the way.
The bullet pierces D.L.'s side and Linderman recocks the gun at a scared and defenseless Niki but D.L. phases his hand through Linderman's head and resolidifies it, killing Linderman and leaving a fist imprint in the back of his head. D.L. critically injured encoruages Niki that she is strong and as Linderman's guard comes D.L. with Niki's help manages to phase them through the wall to escape. At D.L.'s behest, Niki goes to find Micah.
How to Use Superhuman Strength
When she walks into the room, she finds herself trapped in an elaborate and realistic illusion from Candice that shows D.L. and Micah dead, bodies torn in half or with holes in them. Candice impersonating Jessica battles Niki while taunting her that she will never be strong enough. Though this Jessica doesn't have super strength, Candice as Jessica manages to beat Niki up. Niki seeing the true Jessica in the reflection of the TV and with Jessica's encouragement, Niki finally relies on herself and discovers how to use her strength, sending Candice flying into wall, denting the wall and with a bloody nose and unconscious with a powerful uppercut and ripping a storage room door off its hinges to find Micah. Niki looks at a mirror on the wall to only see herself on the way out.
Niki returns with Micah and D.L. as Molly Walker and Mohinder Suresh run up to the elevators. Niki carries a surprised but still critically injured D.L. and Micah uses his power on an elevator and they narrowly avoid being caught by Linderman's bodyguard. They reach Kirby Plaza where Sylar and Peter Petrelli are facing off. Niki decides to help out and saves Peter's life by snatching the parking meter from Sylar's hands and hitting Sylar with it. Peter mimics her superhuman strength and upon hearing Micah's cry, Peter sends Niki back to her family. As Matt Parkman and Claire Bennet arrive, Peter gets an overload from all the absorbed powers and is about to explode, Niki and her family watch Sylar's "death" at the hands of a recently teleported, Hiro Nakamura and Nathan arriving and taking Peter away and finally the explosion over the New York skyline.
Happily Ever After...Not
In the episode, Four Months Ago, Bob Bishop, the head of the Company, approaches Niki at the hospital where D.L. is staying after surviving his gunshot wound. Bob reveals that he payed for the surgery and the treatment and says that he knows about her dissociative identity disorder and offers his help. Niki takes it and recieves special medication that drains her of emotion while suppressing Jessica. Niki tells D.L. that Jessica is gone and she no longer needs the medication so she dumps them down the drain.
D.L., Niki and Micah have a happy time together for four months. D.L. gets a job as a different kind of hero, a firemen, and time and time again using his phasing powers to help people in disastrous fires such as stopping a complex from exploding and rescuing girl from an exploding building. D.L. is a candidate for best firefighter of the year for his constant heroism and courage. On the first day of what was to be her new job working at a nearby hotel, Gina, a new personality emerges who is all about partying, men, drugs, drinking and sex, seals Niki off and runs away. D.L. returns home from work to find Micah home alone and D.L. calls him mom and asks her to watch Micah as he goes off to look for Niki.
D.L. tracks Gina down in a club on the shady side of Los Angeles using a picture of the family. Thinking her to be Jessica, D.L. is ready for a fight, finds her dancing with another man. After D.L. realizes that this is another personality all together, D.L. confronts the guy and the guy throws a punch at D.L. but D.L. phases through the blow and delivers a blow to the man's stomach. Gina protests and is ready to fight but sees the picture and Niki returns.
As they leave the club, Niki and D.L. talk about her problem and how they can fix it while remaining a family and after they exchange I love yous, the man approaches them and under the facade of apologizing shoots D.L. point blank in the chest, killing him. The man runs off before Niki can do anything about it. At his funeral, Micah recieves the award from the firemen that D.L. worked with and Micah meets up with D.L.'s aunt, Nana Dawson. Niki talks with Bob at the funeral and makes arrangements to come to Hartsdale, NY while leaving Micah with Nana Dawson and her grandkids in New Orleans.
A Widow's Company
A widow, Niki turns to the Company for a cure for her condition. Niki confused and sedated thinks that the Company imprisoned her in her daze and Jessica returns wrecking havoc in the Company facility and injuring several guards and scientists there before bowling Mohinder over to kill Bob. She lifts him up off his feet as high as her arm can reach and strangles him. Before Niki can complete the act, she is shot in the back with a taser by Mohinder.
While being treated, Mohinder tries to free Niki and Niki says that she came to them to get help and her husband is dead because of her problem. Later, claiming to be cured, Bob believes Niki after detecting no sign of any other personality, and Bob asks Niki to stay with them for a while and help them out. Niki without hesistation accepts and becomes Mohinder's partner.
At Adam Munroe's command, Maury Parkman launches an attack on the Company, planning to kill Bob but Bob is warned by Matt and Nathan. Nathan and Niki have a brief reunion but Nathan goes with Bob to get information as Niki and Mohinder prepare to use the Shanti virus on Maury to stop him and test how the virus works. Maury corrupts Niki by using her nightmares against her making her see D.L. and Jessica. Niki takes the syringe with the virus in it and breaks Mohinder's nose and knocks him out in several feats of superhuman strength. Niki marches through the facility taking down anything and anyone that gets in her way. She reaches Bob's office where she bangs on the door with the syringe in her hand like in Isaac's painting, and breaks the door in with no hesitation.
As Matt defeats his father, Maury's control over Niki weakens but in order to stop herself, Niki injects herself with the virus. When Mohinder tries to cure her with the antibodies in his blood, it is revealed that she has a modified form of the virus. Mohinder has Bob destroy every sample the Company has while he releases Niki to go visit Micah in New Orleans.
Niki returns to New Orleans to spend some time with Micah and the Dawson family. When Micah's backpack with his extremely valuable comic in it and his father's award in it is stolen and Damon is injured because of a gang, Nana Dawson calls the cops and Niki forbids Micah from getting involved since that kind of thing, being a hero, got his father killed. Monica overhears and takes pity on Micah. As Monica and Micah go to get Micah's possessions back, Niki recieves a call from Mohinder telling her that he has a cure and Niki rejoices and that Mohinder will be there as soon as he can.
She runs to tell Micah to find his bed empty and the window open. The next day, Niki is very worried and has called the police only for Micah to rush in. Niki begins to get angry but Micah tells her that Monica has been kidnapped and Niki gets upset that Micah disobeyed her but softens up when Micah asks her to come with him and use her super strength to beat the bad guys up and rescue Monica. Niki tells him that the virus makes her powerless and Micah is disappointed and sad but asks Niki to just drive him after taking his mom's phone.
You Don't Have to Have Powers to be a Hero
After following a electromagnetic trail emitted from Monica's phone thanks to Micah's technopathic powers, they run into a burning building about to explode and one of the gang members. Niki gets out of the car and surprisingly disarms the gang member easily after using a groin kick karate move. Niki tries to pistol whip info on Monica's whereabouts out of the guy but Micah says she is in the burning building. Niki knocks the guy out and rushes into the burning building asking Micah to call the cops and the firemen.
Niki runs inside the building and quickly finds a tied up Monica who was unable to free herself since her iPod full of useful skills was taken. Niki unties Monica and on their way out, Niki is almost knocked out by a falling plank of wood. Niki using her jacket pushes the pillar up to let Monica escape. Niki tries to escape too but can't lift the pillar anymore. Monica runs out with Micah's bag and as she gets closer to Micah, the building explodes. It is unsure whether Niki escaped in time or not.
POWERS AND ABILITIES
Niki has the power of superhuman strength. She is strong enough to pull off a safe door with her bare hands, send people flying off their feet with a single hit, overpower and strangle a grown man, break away from restraining cuffs that could hold down an elephant, lift large amounts of weight, throw people and heavy objects like ragdolls and literally rip people in half.
She also displays superhuman feats of durability able to withstand physical blows from grown men without getting bruised or showing any sign of weakness, endure a blow from a sledgehammer and get up with no apparent harm, break a mirror with a punch without injuring her hand and to endure the stress inflicted on her body by her own strength as to not have her hand injured when she punches through a wooden door.
Intially, Niki is unable to access and is unaware of her superhuman strength and it was only used by Jessica, her alter ego. After accidental and rare cases of displaying a low level of super strength, in the season 1 finale, How to Stop An Exploding Man, fully unlocks her potential to use superhuman strength and retains it without becoming Jessica.
Niki suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a mental illness where someone displays multiple distinct personalities with different identities, each with its own way of interacting with the environment. At least two personalities routinely take control of a person's behavior with associated memory loss and blackouts that go way way beyond normal forgetfulness and causes stem from child abuse. This applies to Niki and in her case the most prominent personality shown is Jessica. At the start of the series, Jessica only surfaces in times of stress, when Niki is in need or when Niki is in danger but surfaces with increasing and disturbing ease as the series moves on. The transformation between Niki and Jessica is immediate and almost unnoticeable besides Niki's sudden aggressive, angry, strong-willed and impulsive behavior. Jessica also freely demonstrates the superhuman strength and durability that Niki has just recently unlocked. She gains a tatoo like a RNA helix a repeated symbol. And like other extremely powerful heroes in the comic book world, Niki was only able to use her strength in her subsconscious or unconscious mind as Jessica.
Jessica is named after Niki's late sister, Jessica, who took Niki's beatings for her, stood up for Niki and was usually always calm and in control. Jessica could be Niki longing for her sister back and who is strong-willed, domineering and very aggressive due to Niki's suppressed rage at the murder of her sister at her father's hands. Jessica has been around since after Niki's sister died and remembers the event while Niki doesn't. Niki though originally unaware finds a way to communicate and see Jessica in mirrors and reflective objects and the blackout effect weakens over time as the two personalities fight for control of their body. Another of Niki's personalities named Gina, a nickname Niki used when she ran away to Los Angeles in her teens and asked everyone to call her that and all she wanted to do is party, drink, do drugs and she only cared about men.
In Five Years Gone and the graphic novel, Walls, after the exploding man exploded in New York which the heroes were unable to prevent, Niki had gained complete and utter control of her body after Micah who wasn't rescued was killed by the bomb and D.L. who was killed by Sylar. Niki was placed in a special prison under maximum security and Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamrua used their powers to free every prison including Niki.
Niki was working as a barroom stripper under the stage name Jessica and is very emotional and often angry. She is dating Peter and when he goes off to fight Sylar who is impersonating Nathan Petrelli with Candice's illusion powers, Niki doesn't want him back in her life. Peter then reveals that he actually was the bomb and Niki furious and confused leaves him.