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Subject: chapter 1-3 (repost)

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Date Posted: Sunday, September 19, 09:36:26pm
In reply to: s.b. 's message, "The Progeny of Four" on Sunday, September 19, 09:33:38pm

The Progeny of Four
By s.b.

It was 4:02 a.m. when Madeline entered Section. She savored the isolation of the early hour; the halls were quiet, dimly lit, and the air cold and undisturbed. The only sound was the quiet clicking of her heels as she made her way to her office.

There was much to be done that day. At the top of the list was a meeting with Michael. His performance on the Vachek mission of late was deteriorating, it had been ever since Simone’s death, and Operations was beginning to lose patience with the situation.

Michael was caught between the two worlds he’d had to live in for the past year and a half. When Simone was alive it had been a fairly easy task to remind him which of the two worlds was real and which wasn’t. But now that she was gone it appeared that Michael was becoming confused, his loyalty subtly shifting away from Section, and that simply couldn’t be allowed. The solution was simple; she had to find someone to replace Simone’s role in Michael’s life.

The search had not been easy. There were any number of female operatives, and a few male ones too, who were more than willing to replace Simone in Michael’s life but none of them were right for the job. Bringing in someone from outside of Section would take too much time and there was no guarantee that Michael would become emotionally attached to that person. No. It had to be someone whom Michael could bond with easily and assuredly without realizing that that was what he was expected to do. Not an easy task at all. It hadn’t been until Madeline spent an hour trolling through Michael’s extensive file that she’d suddenly remembered the experiment he’d been assigned nine years earlier and the answer to her search began to form with great clarity in her mind.

The timing was perfect. Providing the girl had survived, and Madeline was fairly certain she would have been informed if the girl hadn’t, she would be the perfect link to Section that would reel Michael back in from the Vachek mission. The girl wouldn’t remember him but Madeline was certain Michael would remember her. Though their contact had lasted only a few months the girl’s effect on Michael had been indelible. Actually, Madeline mused, a ghost of a smile appearing in her eyes, perhaps it wasn’t the girl herself but the situation she was in that had left the lasting mark on Michael. She dared say that Michael learned from that little experience that Section would stop at nothing to achieve its goal.


Two time zones away Sir Philip Baines stood in his darkened office and stared out his window. A weary frown tugged at the corners of his mouth. The silver-handled cane he leaned heavily upon was a new accessory to his wardrobe, one that he’d prefer to do without, but it seemed that his aging body disagreed with him.

Despite his physician’s optimistic outlook Philip was not taking any chances. He’d devoted his life to this work. Too many sacrifices had been made to ever let the Sections fall into the wrong hands, the type of sacrifices that filled him with lonely regret in the odd moments that he allowed his mind to wander and left him wondering at times if there remained in him any trace of the man he’d once been.

Philip gave a small self-depreciating laugh that was barely audible in the silent room. It was in these early morning hours that his demons were most active. They drove him from his bed with nightmares of what would happen if he failed to find a successor soon. Turning away from the window he made his way slowly over to his desk and sat down.

Never a man to leave things to chance he had long ago faced the certainty of his own mortality and began planning accordingly. Unlike Adrian who had believed Section’s scope should remain sharply limited and its need eventually eliminated, Philip believed the very opposite. As long as there was power to be gained and riches to be made there would always be conflict in the world, if not from opposing countries then from groups of individuals who would stop at nothing to get what they wanted. They would be the new enemy of the free world. New international treaties would legally limit the capability of governments to go after these individuals, thus the need for an organization such as Section would only increase with time.

The years unfortunately, Philip sighed, had proven him right. Now there were five Sections spread over four geographical areas; Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Asia and Indonesia, North and South America. Section Four was a special unit devoted strictly to research that was overseen directly by Philip.

Philip leaned back and closed his eyes for a brief moment. Section Four –and Octavian- was the means to his salvation. One had given him twenty years ago what was then the impossible, the capability to create a progeny of hope. The other, Philips greatest technological success, had provided him the answer to which of his creations would one day soon become his heir.


Chapter 2:

If there was one thing Operations detested above all else it was when an operative broke profile. What made it even more infuriating was when the guilty operative was Michael. Section One’s top operative, hand-picked by Operations to take on the Vachek mission due to his exemplary performance and record, and now Michael was showing all of the classic signs of an operative about to go rogue. It was absolutely disgusting.

Operations lit up another cigarette, his second within the past twenty minutes, and took a long deep drag on it before releasing a thin stream of smoke into the air. It felt good to be disobeying orders, even if it was only that of his doctor’s, it just felt good to prove that he could do whatever he damn well pleased. He was the boss here and no one, not the doctors, not even Madeline could tell him what he could and couldn’t do. Besides it wasn’t the cigarettes that were going to kill him. If anything it would be the stress from these goddamn operatives who couldn’t follow their goddamn orders!

Reigning in his anger Operations took another long pull on the cigarette in his hand before snuffing it out and flicking it into the wastebasket. Sighing he stuck his hands into his pockets and stared moodily out at the main floor below.

He wasn’t a man given usually to swearing. At least not out loud. And certainly not in recent years, especially with Madeline around. If he did she would give him one of her silent looks, the one with one brow arched up in disapproval that always made him feel as if he’d just sworn in front of his mother. It was a good thing she hadn't known him thirty-five years earlier when he first joined the military.

His mood lightened suddenly at the memory, a gleam appearing in his eyes as he thought of his old army buddies. Then just as quickly other memories flitted in, ones of a much darker time. Memories he’d never been able to forget over the years, filled with death and torture and the screaming of his men begging for mercy as the Viet Cong tried to get them to break.

His mood shifted once more, the light in his eyes fading and the mirth of a moment earlier ebbing quickly into silence. Operations turned away from the glass windows that overlooked Section and took several steps away.

Despite the years that had passed he still couldn’t forget those screams. Neither could he rid himself of that feeling of utter helplessness he'd felt back then to do anything to save them. All he'd been able to do back then was to tell the others to close their ears the best they could, to block the screams out… Just hold on for one more day and they’d be alright. But of course the next day the Viet Cong would choose new prisoners to torture and the screaming would begin all over again.

Operations reached into his pocket to the remote he kept there and quietly darkened the windows to his office, his back still toward the glass. He placed his hand over his forehead, shielding his eyes and pressed his fingers to his temple. He took several deep breaths. In and out, slowly reclaiming control of his emotions.

This was why he hated it when operatives lost sight of the endgame. In his mind he could still see every single one of his men who had given their life in that awful period. Their deaths haunted him, filled him with hate, but it also fueled his determination to win this war. It was why he had accepted the call to serve in Section. Eventually it had even been the reason he had plotted to overthrow Adrian. She just didn’t understand how important it was that Section not only survive, but that it be allowed to flourish and become all powerful.

But Operations understood. He knew only too well the need for the type of power that Section wielded, where one could fight the enemy with the same tactics, the same ruthlessness that they employed. Never again would he allow himself to be helpless as he was in Nam. Now he had at his fingertips the capability to make a difference, and he would do it. To his dying day he would devote all Section’s resources and more to the protection of the greater good. He could do it, he vowed. It was all within his power.

The sound of the buzzer startled him out of his thoughts and Operations blinked, then reached over and hit the intercom. “Yes?” he snapped, irritation at being interrupted clearly evident in his tone.

Madeline’s calm voice answered. “Will you be joining us?”

She was about to reveal Michael’s new assignment to him and was offering Operations the courtesy of being present. Operations though wasn’t in the mood to deal with Michael at the moment. The way he was feeling right now he was afraid he might very well do something foolish like order his top operative to be put in abeyance.

“No,” he answered, then hit the intercom button again to shut it off before his second in command could comment further. He made his way back then to the glass windows and stood watch over his domain.


Chapter 3

Madeline stared a moment at the silent intercom, instantly curious at Operation’s behavior but not surprised by his answer. She hadn’t expected him to agree to be in attendance when she met with Michael, not with the way he was feeling as of late toward the latter, but there had been more than anger in his voice just now.

Anxiety had tinged his voice. And he was trying to cover it up with anger. Madeline sat back, her upcoming meeting with Michael momentarily shifted aside as she assessed this new piece of information.

Paul was reminiscing about Vietnam again.

She breathed a sigh, satisfied that she’d pinpointed what it was that was bothering him. She hated it when something was wrong and she couldn’t find what the source of the problem was. It didn’t matter if it was a mission, a profile, Operations, or someone else; if there was a problem she wanted to know about it. Knowing the problem brought you that much closer to finding a solution. And it was no secret that he who held the answers would also hold the power. Paul was Operations but he turned to her for the answers. That was just how Madeline liked it.

She had always been good at reading people and situations. She enjoyed watching people, assessing their behavior, finding out what made them act a certain way. But what she enjoyed even more was then making them do what it was she wanted.

She didn’t bother with books and theories –those were for people who didn’t have talent. If you needed to be instructed on how to read people then you were in the wrong business. To study people you had to delve into your own mind, study all the dark recesses of your own soul, and then turn around and apply the insight you gained to those you dealt with.

There was a slight beep and the door to her office opened as Michael stepped silently in.

Her lips curved into a welcoming smile. Here was one of her favorite and most challenging subjects of all. She invited him to take a seat, noting his quiet “Thank you” as he did so.

“How are you?” she asked, once he’d settled into the chair facing her.

“I’m fine,” Michael answered, meeting her gaze with a blank look.

His answer brought another smile to her lips. “How is Elena?”

There was the slightest shift of his eyes, the briefest flash of emotion before he smoothed it over with a small smile – one that didn’t quite reach his eyes, Madeline noted—and said calmly, “She’s fine.”

“And the baby?” she pressed.

This time there was a more noticeable reaction as Michael shifted his gaze to her right. What was it he was feeling she wondered? Anger? Hatred? Love? Resentment? He was fascinating to study and she made note of it all in her mind.

He turned back to face her, all traces of emotion safely tucked away.

“The baby’s fine,” he answered, and Madeline didn’t miss the slight tension in his voice.

She turned then to her computer and began typing to pull up the file she wanted him to see. An integral part of her job was knowing what to ask and also when to stop. Right now it was time to shift the line of questioning from Michael’s mission family over to a new topic, one where he wouldn’t feel so threatened.

Once the file she wanted appeared Madeline turned the screen so that Michael could view it too and then sat back and loosely clasped her hands on her lap. “We have a new assignment for you,” she began. “Now that Elena’s expecting we don’t want you going out in the field as much. You should have more regular hours and be able to go home to her at night. Keep her comfortable. Continue to convince her to contact her father.”

“We’ve also decided to utilize you as a trainer.” She paused here, watching for his reaction before continuing. Undoubtedly he’d be surprised by this though she was certain he wouldn’t show it… And she was right.

“This is your first assignment. Davenport’s team is securing her as we speak. Her file has been sent to your office. I’d like your initial evaluation by tomorrow afternoon. If she’s not going to work out for us then we don’t want to waste anymore resources than necessary.”

Michael studied the photo of the woman on the screen. She was young, nineteen or twenty years old he guessed. Blue eyes, blond hair. Good bone structure. “A valentine operative?” he inquired, assessing in his mind what type of training she would need.

Madeline turned her attention to the photo too and studied her a moment. “Possibly,” she answered.

“Do you want her in the field?”

Madeline nodded slowly. “She’s had previous combat training, although it was quite a while ago.” She turned her gaze back to meet Michael’s, watching him carefully. “In fact, it was you who trained her.”

She could sense more than see any change in him. Careful to not make him too wary she continued on. “Nine years ago. You were brand new to Section, just completed with your own training when you were assigned to teach her.”

Michael turned to look again at the photo on the screen. Recognition dawned upon him and he remained silent for a long time. Finally, when Madeline didn’t provide any further information, he said, “Nikita.”

Madeline nodded.

“I was told she died.”

“A lie,” she answered, and he looked at her, suspicion and curiosity mixed in his eyes. A rare observance for her in him. It filled Madeline with curiosity to know more but she kept that desire in check, letting Michael take the lead instead.

“Why?” he asked.

“Why the lie, or, why are we giving her to you again to train?”


Madeline breathed in, assessing how much to reveal as she swiveled her chair to face the screen. “I don’t know why the lie. The experiment was Section Four’s and had approval from Oversight. Operations wasn’t pleased with it but there was little we could do to alter it or any of the parameters surrounding it.” Madeline looked over to Michael. “You were selected by Oversight to work with her.”

“Why reveal this to me now?” he asked, and Madeline smiled.

“Because I’m just as curious about the situation as you are,” she admitted.

“Is Oversight ordering her recruitment into Section?”

She lowered her lashes. It was a question she’d wondered about herself over the past few months. Though she had initiated the request to recruit Nikita she wondered too if Oversight hadn’t been counting on that. Had they been gambling on it all along? It was an intriguing question.

She shook her head and looked up at Michael. “I requested her recruitment. Oversight complied.”

Michael was silent. She could see the wariness creeping back into his eyes. He sensed the anomaly in the planning, just as she did. But she was prepared for that. “Oversight is up to something,” she conceded, “and we want to know what it is.”

Michael’s brows arched slightly. “We?”

This earned him a rare genuine smile from her. She even laughed softly. “Alright. *I’m* curious.”

Madeline grew serious again. “Oversight never gave us a plausible reason for the experiment the last time and I want to know what it is they’re up to.” She paused again, her eyes assessing. “Perhaps it’s something we can use here in Section.”

“Latent mind-control,” Michael agreed.

“Yes. If it proves successful it'll open up more options to us for future recruitment.”

He turned to look at the screen again. “What happened to her?” he asked, and Madeline instinctively knew he was referring to the intermittent years since he’d last seen her.

“According to her file, nothing. You’ll remember that when she was brought here before it was under the pretext that she was at school. Her mother was an alcoholic and didn’t keep track of where Nikita was most of the time. I suspect that was the main reason she was chosen as a subject. Do you recall that part of her profile?”

Michael nodded. “Were there others?”

“I’m certain there were but she was the only one brought here.”

“Why did they choose her?”

Madeline noted with satisfaction Michael’s string of questions. As she suspected it would, Nikita’s case was bringing out his own deeply rooted training as a profiler, his need for information as he planned out in his mind how best to handle her. She knew already that he would take on this challenge, even if he did suspect there was an ulterior motive behind it, because like her, Michael thrived on challenges. It was something new, a different test of his skills, and it thrilled him much the same way new challenges elated her.

“I don’t know why they chose her, or why they stopped her training. Perhaps they felt she’d received enough.”

“And now Oversight wants to see how much of that training she’s retained?”

“Actually they claim that they’ve abandoned that particular experiment. But I don’t believe them. If that were true I think they would have cancelled her long ago. It’s unusual that they haven’t.”

“Perhaps they were waiting for you,” Michael returned.

Madeline smiled. This was why she enjoyed working with Michael. He had a natural aptitude for grasping situations and people. It hadn’t taken him long to recognize the same thing she had, the possibility that Oversight was testing her.

Leaning forward she turned the screen back around to face her. “I’ll expect your report by tomorrow afternoon,” she reminded.

Michael, recognizing the dismissal, rose gracefully and headed toward the door.


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chapters 4-6 (repost)s.b.Sunday, September 19, 09:39:49pm

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