|Subject: chapters 4-6 (repost)
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Date Posted: Sunday, September 19, 09:39:49pm
In reply to:
's message, "The Progeny of Four" on Sunday, September 19, 09:33:38pm
Michael returned to his office and uploaded the file Madeline had forwarded. The photo of the young woman she showed him earlier appeared on the screen. He stared at the picture, reconciling it with the memory he had of the young girl he’d worked with years earlier.
It seemed a lifetime ago. Was it really her? After studying the photo for several more minutes he decided that there was a very real possibility it was the same girl. It was the look in her eyes that convinced him, that odd mixture of mistrust and innocence that he recalled vividly.
She’d been eleven or twelve then, a young girl from Section Four. Or so he’d been told. He had learned enough during his initial training to know that Section was unlike any other government organization he’d ever heard of, but to discover that they even used children in their work had come as a surprise to him.
Nikita was almost the same age as Monique and Michael had wondered if his assignment to work with the young girl had been Section’s not-so-subtle way of letting him know they were aware of his younger sister’s existence. He’d never mentioned Monique to anyone after his arrest for fear that the government would take her and place her in an orphanage. In his absence Rene had promised to care for Monique and Michael felt forever indebted to his friend from the University.
In the early days, once he’d awakened to find himself in Section One, Michael absorbed all that happened around him, watching and learning. He vowed to survive Section’s training and use what he learned to escape and return to Monique. But as his training progressed Michael came to recognize that there was no escape from Section. Section had eyes and ears everywhere and they didn’t think twice about killing its operatives if they stepped out of line.
It intrigued him then to meet Nikita, this young girl who was owned by Section. He thought at first that she was born there, perhaps the child of an operative, but if that were true then why was she induced with cerebral inhibitors each time she was brought in and again before she left? Section only did that to civilians who were accidentally exposed to Section or its activities, and even then that option was a last resort. Section preferred to manipulate circumstances surrounding the individual to make them believe what it wanted rather than alter their memories.
Section obviously didn’t want Nikita recalling her training sessions or anything else that took place in Section, which made sense; She would be an easy target for information if she was ever exposed. But why was she even put at that risk? If she was living on the outside, who was her family and why didn’t they notice her disappearance every week? Was she a runaway, and if yes, what circumstances led her to the streets? Michael turned away from the screen and stared out the blinds of his office into Section. Obviously there was more here than he was being told.
His assignment back then had been to train her in physical combat, a notion he felt was futile considering how thin and small the girl was. Nonetheless he had obeyed his orders. He’d wanted to question her but had been unable to because there were always cameras on them, those silent Section eyes that reported everything.
Nikita turned out to be a difficult student. Even under the influence of the inhibitors, which was supposed to make her more susceptible to the training, Nikita was wary and untrusting. Madeline explained that a subject’s personality, even when the subject was induced, could still manifest itself. Nikita had mood swings that ranged from silent and sullen to avid curiosity. Mostly she was sullen but there were a few rare occasions when she’d shown a lighter side to her personality. If he recalled correctly it was Walter who had been able to bring out that response in her.
Michael wondered if Walter knew yet that Nikita was alive and had been recruited. The old man had really liked Nikita. Mercifully Section had not told him the same story that they’d told Michael of her being killed. Instead they’d told him that she had moved on to another part of her training and would no longer be coming to Section.
Michael lowered his eyes. How ironic now in hindsight to see that it was he who had been lied to and Walter who had received the truth.
It was evening when Philip received the call he was waiting for.
Michelle watched her father from across the dinner table, disapproving of the interruption but resigned to the fact that with her father work would always come first. When she was younger she had resented the time his work took from her. Though they lived in the same house she usually only saw him at tea or dinner. All of the other times he remained in the north wing of the house where his office was and which was off limits to her.
There were many things strange about her life that she hadn’t realized until she was well into her teens. It began with her noticing during trips abroad, or even just out shopping, that other people didn’t have the type of entourage she did. She had eight bodyguards that always accompanied her; two remained within ten feet of her at all times, the other two at a secondary location further out, and the remaining four were parameter guards.
If she wanted to shop at a certain place the store was contacted beforehand and an appointment made so that when Michelle arrived there would be no one but the store owner or representative in attendance. She would walk through, choosing what she wanted, and then the guards would whisk her back to the waiting car while the store owner would arrange for the items to be delivered.
Growing up she had private tutors and everything that money could buy but now that she was older, twenty in December, what Michelle wanted most was normalcy in her life. She wanted friends, love, a father she could talk to and most important of all was news -any news- about who her mother was.
Her father had never answered her questions regarding that subject. Instead like all other matters he didn’t want to deal with he would dismiss her question with a wave of his hand and change the subject. Once she had asked him if she were adopted and he had gave her a look so piercing it had frightened her. “You are my flesh and blood,” he said to her, and from that day on Michelle had never raised the question again.
Philip nodded as he listened, a frown upon his face, but Michelle knew by the way that he did not move that what he was hearing pleased him. When he finally did speak it was -as always was the case where her father was concerned- brief and to the point. “I want a video feed immediately.”
Michelle suppressed the urge to sigh. This meant dinner was over and he was going back to his office. Before he could speak Michelle quickly interjected what she’d been thinking of over the past several weeks. “Father, I’d like to work.”
Philip paused, his eyes focused on her as he considered what she said. Then he nodded and stood. “Very well. See James about it.” James was Philip’s personal secretary.
“You’ll let me work?” she asked, surprised at how easy he had consented.
“Within certain circumstances,” Philip replied, picking up his cane, and Michelle’s spirits sank. She knew what that meant; he would choose the job for her.
“Goodnight my dear,” Philip said, as he came around and leaned down to kiss her cheek.
“Goodnight Father,” Michelle answered.
She waited till he had left the room before she pushed away from the table and went to stand at the window overlooking the gardens. Well at least it was a start, she thought as she drew a deep breath and raised her chin. She was determined to look at it from a positive point of view. He’d consented that she could work, now all she had to do was decide what kind of work it was she wanted to do… and hope that he would approve of it.
The ambulance pulled into an alley. Immediately a Section team dressed as construction workers put up a road barrier to block off the road. In the alley a Section van awaited the transfer. The back of the ambulance opened and two operatives, McDaniel and Kenmore, exited. Davenport, the team leader appeared from around the side and hurried them along. “How is she?” he asked, glancing briefly at the blanket covered body on the gurney the two men were unloading.
“Out,” McDaniel answered. He and Kenmore transported the body quickly to the waiting van and loaded it in.
Davenport used the time to check in with Section. “The package is secured. We’re coming in.”
“That’s a roger,” Birkoff answered, and signed off.
Davenport thumped the roof of the van to signal the driver they were ready to go and then settled down. Kenmore pulled back the blanket that covered the woman’s face and checked on her pulse. Section had scored a beauty this time. She’d been in prison serving a life sentence for killing a police officer. Kenmore shook his head. Beauty and the ability to kill in cold blood; Section would love her.
“Think she’ll make it?” Kenmore asked, as he settled down on the bench next to McDaniel.
“I hope so,” McDaniel replied, grinning suddenly. “I’d love to get a piece of her.”
“You’d better not let Taylor hear you say that. She’d cut off your balls and feed it to you.”
McDaniels chuckled and closed his eyes. He leaned his head back. “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Besides Taylor and me don’t have anything exclusive going on.”
“I suppose that’s why you pulled that little stunt when she went out with Roger?”
“Hey man, Roger had it coming to him. The man just doesn’t know when to call it quits.”
“Shut-up,” Davenport growled at them. He used the ensuing quiet to check on the other members of his team who were following in a second van. That done he settled back and closed his eyes to get some sleep.
“Maybe she’ll end up on our team,” McDaniel said to Kenmore, nodding toward the gurney.
“That’s if she makes it through training,” Kenmore answered.
“I think she’ll make it, unless she turns out to be a wacko like that Angie chick was.” McDaniel shook his head. “Man now there was one seriously deranged woman.”
“Too bad it took sacrificing Al to figure that out. Did you hear what she did to him before she killed him?” Kenmore shuddered. “Reckon that’s why they tell you that you can’t date other operatives. You’d better be careful with Taylor that she don’t go ballistic on you like that.”
“I’d f-----g blow her head off if she ever tried something like that,” McDaniel declared, and Kenmore snickered.
“If you two don’t shut-up,” Davenport warned, “I’m going to shoot both your asses and save Taylor the trouble.”
Birkoff frowned as he stared at the data flowing across his computer screen. He reached up and scratched his head and then jumped when he heard Madeline’s voice right behind him.
“Is something wrong, Birkoff?”
Madeline turned to study his computer screen.
“You’re doing a black track on Davenport’s mission. Is there a problem?”
“Not really… Well, I’m not sure exactly, I don’t think it’s anything.”
Birkoff began typing commands into the computer that pulled up tactical commands and corresponding computer activity of the mobile unit. “Here,” he said, pointing out a blip in the sequence of codes. “I don’t know why there’s a break there. There shouldn’t be one, and yet there it is.”
“Is it external?”
Bifkoff nodded after a moment. “It could be… It wasn’t from anything the mobile team did, and then again it could be nothing that anyone did.”
“Have we been compromised?” Madeline asked, cutting to the core and Birkoff shook his head.
“No. I’m pretty sure we haven’t. I disconnected from all external lines just in case and ran a thorough check on the whole system; we’re okay. This break in sequence just seemed odd to me so I wanted to check it out.”
“Could someone be tracking the mobile unit?”
“No... That would have left a traceable pattern, and the break in sequence would have been more significant. There’s nothing else irregular here except that one break and it’s possible that it could have been a technical malfunction that caused it.”
Madeline stood a moment and reviewed the screen as Birkoff continued to type. Davenport’s team was on their way in with Nikita...
“What’s the possibility that someone on the inside is tracking the unit?” she asked suddenly, and Birkoff looked up at her with a curious expression.
“You mean from within Section? It’s possible but not likely. You’d still leave a trail.”
“What if it was someone who had clearance?” she asked, glancing up at Operation’s office.
Birkoff swallowed, suddenly feeling as if he were treading somewhere he didn’t want to be. “It’s possible… If you had the right access and passwords, and you knew what you were doing, you could get in and out without leaving hardly a trace.”
Madeline ran over the possibilities in her mind. The only people who had access were Operations, herself, and Birkoff. Operations didn’t have the technical skill to break into the system, and it didn’t make sense for him to do so anyway; she didn’t do it, and Birkoff was the one who discovered it. So who did that leave?
“Let me know if you find any other anomalies,” she said. “And let me know when the away team arrives.”
Michelle stopped in her tracks, the glass of water in her hand momentarily forgotten. There were voices coming from the sitting room and one of them was her father’s.
It was past midnight, who could he be meeting with at this time? Security? Was there a problem?
She strained to listen but it was of no use; she was too far away. Well there was one way to solve this. Michelle took a deep breath and crossed the large hallway.
“Father?” she knocked on the door, paused a moment and then pushed it open. Philip was seated in one of the armchairs dressed in his robe. “Are you alright? I heard voices…”
There was another man in the room and he stood quickly as the door opened and looked from Philip over to Michelle and back again. He was young with dark hair, glasses and a goatee.
“I’m fine,” Philip said, not bothering to introduce his guest. “Go on back to your room. Everything’s fine.”
Michelle lingered, looking again at the man with her father; he looked oddly familiar. Where had she seen him before?
“Yes? Oh, right. I’m leaving.” She gave her father a nod and closed the door behind her.
Philip waited a minute and then turned to the young man across from him. “I’ll expect weekly reports from you or Steve. It’s best if you don’t come back here to the house. I’ll provide you a secure line within 48 hours.”
“Yes sir,” the young man replied, and prepared to leave.
Philip gazed at the young man before him. “Don’t underestimate your new boss. She won’t hesitate to kill you or your brother if she finds any of this out.”
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