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Date Posted: 12:22:46 04/30/05 Sat
Author: Diane
Subject: Okay - Chapter 8 - Altered Version
In reply to: Diane 's message, "Okay - Chapter 8" on 19:15:47 04/22/05 Fri

I didn't make a lot of changes, but see if this helps.

Nikita’s first stop was Munitions. “Hey, Walter!” she called back into his inventory room.

Walter’s gravelly voice floated back from seemingly out of nowhere. “Be with you in a minute, Sugar.” Nikita smiled at Ken’s lifted brow.

Walter emerged, wiping his hands on the thighs of his pants. Shit! The one time he let his guard down and the boss-lady was being official. He wondered how much trouble he was in.

If Ken wondered what a retired Hell’s Angel was doing working in munitions, he kept his opinions to himself.

Walter removed the navy rolled handkerchief from around his head, wiped his still sweaty hands, and quickly retied the bandana. He pulled his long gray hair back and quickly knotted it into a ponytail. Who was this new guy in the suit, and what was he to Sugar?

“Walter, I’d like you to meet Kendrick Lockett. He’s one of the applicant’s for Michael’s old position.” She and Walter both knew she meant ‘and Madeline’s,’ but the less often her name was mentioned, the better.

“Ken,” said the suit, reaching forward to take Walter’s hand. Good grip, the older man noted. Not afraid to look you in the eye, either.

“So, Ken, where do you come from?” said Walter conversationally.

“Spec. Ops.” Silence. Okay, so he’s not a talker, thought Walter. I can live with that.

“What’s you favorite beer?”

Ken smiled. “Coors.” Interesting, Walter mused. Drinks American beer in Germany. “But I don’t drink anymore,” he added.

“Let me introduce you around before Walter totally corrupts you,” said Nikita with a smile. She put arm out for Ken to take. He ignored it. Nikita looked at Walter, who shrugged. Nikita just raised her brow and started walking toward Comm., with Ken following behind.

* * *

Quinn was not in sight, much to Nikita’s relief. “Jason, I’d like you to meet Ken Lockett. He’s one of the candidates for Michael’s position as Head Strategist and Chief Tactician.”

Jason rolled back lazily in his chair to ‘scope out the competition.’ Taller than Nikita. Hell, taller than Michael. Older than Michael, too, if you went for that type. But could the dude profile? Could he run a mission on site? So far, Jason had yet to be impressed. He flashed Ken a quick “Hey,” then turned his attention back to his screen.

Nikita was visibly annoyed. “What are you working on, Jason?” she asked stiffly.

“Nothin’ much. Just breakin’ a few codes.” His hands drifted lazily over the keyboards.

At least he hadn’t called her ‘darlin’’. “Maybe Ken could help you out for a while. I have some things to do in the Perch.”

“Why not?” said Jason agreeably. He’d been putting on a show for the dude—slacking off to look like the job was s-o-o easy. In truth, as soon as Nikita left, he intended to return to warp speed.

“Where do you want me?” asked Ken.

“Uh, over there’s fine,” said Jason, gesturing to an empty work station. “Just don’t touch anything.”

“How can I work if I don’t touch anything?” asked Ken patiently.

Great. A know-it-all.

“Fine,” said Jason tersely. “Work on this for a while,” purposely shooting him the most difficult encryption—the one that had been giving him the most trouble all morning. When he checked on him a few minutes later, Ken’s tall frame was bent over the keyboard, working slowly and methodically. Jason allowed himself a grin. Newbies!

After about 10 minutes, Jason heard Ken asking him to come look at something. He wasn’t about to help Nikita’s new fair-haired boy. Let him crash and burn on his own. “Uh, kind of busy here,” he shot over his shoulder, hands flying over his keyboard.

Quinn, who was returning to her post, stopped to see what Ken, who she had first thought was a trainee, needed.

Immediately recognizing the code Jason had been struggling with, she cried out, “You broke it! Well done!”

Jason stopped what he was doing and rolled to Ken’s side, flummoxed. “How did that happen? What did you do?” he demanded.

Ken shrugged. “I ran it through a Delta Four pattern, then recycled. It wasn’t that hard.”

“But you’re not cleared for a Delta Four. I’m head of Comm., and I’m not cleared for a Delta Four!

Ken lowered his voice. “Yeah, that was the tough part. Some of those firewalls were a bitch. Getting through them without setting off an alarm was a little tricky.”

Jason just sat there, slack-jawed.

* * *

Nikita descended from the Perch, having spotted Quinn. She dreaded this moment. “Quinn, have you met Ken Lockett?”

“Not officially,” she said, smiling warmly. “Welcome to Comm.”

“That may be a bit premature,” said Ken with a shrug.

“Ken is interviewing for my Second-in-Command,” said Nikita. Well let’s call it what it is. She held her breath. She half expected Quinn to throw a fit right there in Comm., but Ken was better than either she or Jason, and she knew it. Quinn also knew that Ken would have had to pass rigorous tests in sims and profiling to have made it this far, and she conceded defeat.

“I don’t think so,” Quinn said, her smile not as wide but still as genuine. “Welcome to Section One.” She extended her hand to the better man.

“Thank you,” said Ken quietly, taking it. He looked at Nikita, who shrugged.

“Welcome to Section One!”

Ken smiled.

“I’ll still have to have it approved by Center, but I don’t see a problem,” said Nikita. “How soon can you wrap things up and prepare to move in?”

“Give me four hours notice,” was his quick response.

“Well, then,” said Nikita, clearly pleased, “let me make some phone calls. After that, how would you like to do a little sparring?”

Ken lifted his eyebrows. He hadn’t done much sparring in Spec. Ops, only as part of his weekly fitness routine, and rarely as a combatant. He figured Nikita would probably wipe the floor with him, but what the hell. He needed to get in shape quickly if he was going to be out in the field again anytime soon.

“Okay,” he agreed, “but take it easy on the old man, all right?”

Nikita giggled. Ken couldn’t believe his ears. A Section head who actually *giggled*. “You’ve got a deal. See you in the General Gym in about . . . an hour?”

“I’ll be there,” promised Ken, “in full body armor.”

Nikita giggled again. Ken wasn’t kidding.

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