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Date Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 12:06:08pm
In reply to:
's message, "TMTC" on Tuesday, July 24, 12:04:39pm
Eighteen long months had passed since the painful goodbye at the train station. Nikita and Michael’s lives seemed as opposite as their personalities once were.
Michael had taken his son Adam and ran – literally. Unfortunately, within their first year and a half on the run there had been two close calls. The Collective had found them once in Switzerland, six months after Michael had left Section for the last time. Luckily however, the perimeter defense system Michael had installed outside their isolated estate had given them just enough warning to get out unscathed.
Almost a year later a resurgent Red Cell had found father and son in a small, sleepy New England town. Michael had chosen that particular town because many who’d moved in were running and/or hiding from something. Townspeople didn’t ask questions nor did they offer answers themselves.
It had been the ideal place to live in – or so Michael had thought. Fortunately, Adam had been in school for Michael had had to shoot his way out of the remote gated estate they’d been living in for less than three months.
Following the second incident, Michael had come to one of the most heartbreaking decisions of his life. Realizing that all he had to offer Adam was a life constantly on the run, he’d decided to do what he thought best.
Michael contacted someone he knew from his early days in Section One. It was a resource he was loathe to use, uncomfortable with being in anyone’s debt. For Section purposes he’d used her liberally and had compensated her well.
For himself, he’d secured her services only once before – when he went against Section to free Nikita from the Gelman mind control process. For her part, she’d only secured his services once as well. After this he’d owe her, unless she changed her MO and asked for immediate payment for personal favors.
Being in the ‘business’ herself, Michael’s contact knew about his situation. She’d assumed Michael was going to ask her to help him and his son disappear.
Heeding the rule of never meeting in the same place twice, Michael and his contact chose to meet at a cafe in the bustling New York City, when the busy dinner hours were just beginning to wind down. At this hour no one would pay any attention to a couple foregoing dinner and sharing a cup of coffee instead. Having arrived first, Michael politely deferred the waiter’s request for his order and sat down, patiently waiting for her arrival.
While waiting, he placed a call to his and Adam’s current home, speaking softly so as not to be overheard. Satisfied that the high paid bodyguard/child care giver was doing her job in his absence, Michael hung up the phone and sat back to wait for his “date.”
Spotting his quarry after only a few minutes, Michael stood to greet her as she made her way to the back booth.
“Diana,” Michael addressed the brunette, kissing her on each cheek. She stood five feet, eight inches tall in her stocking feet. With jet black hair, blue eyes and a curvaceous figure many men would admire, she’d normally stand out in any crowd. However, in deference to the nature of this meeting, she’d toned down her usual appearance in order to blend in.
“Michael,” Diana smiled warmly as she returned his greeting, genuinely pleased to see for herself that the former Section operative was indeed alive and well. “I’m glad that the rumors of your survival and welfare appear to be true.”
“Thank you,” Michael returned her smile and gestured for her to sit down across from him.
Deciding to get certain formalities out of the way, Michael waved over their waiter, turned to his companion and waited for her to order first.
“I’ll have an iced cappuccino and a tiramisu,” Diana ordered, politely thanking the waiter after he repeated her order.
“Just a hot cappuccino, please,” Michael took his turn then raised an amused eyebrow at Diana once the waiter had left with their order.
“Just remembering the first time you tried tiramisu,” Michael replied.
“It wasn’t made very well,” Diana explained. “I’ve had much better since then. It’s really rather good when made properly.”
“Does that mean you’ve had it here before?” Michael asked cannily.
“Yes,” Diana knew why he was asking. “But only as a civilian. It’s clean.”
“I’m sure it is,” Michael apologized, knowing she wouldn’t have picked the cafe if it weren’t. Changing the subject, he decided to broach the topic of potential payment arrangements, “Are you still collecting favors?”
“Yep. Luckily I haven’t had too many rainy days.”
“So, this will add to your collection.” Michael surmised she wouldn’t be asking him for any sort of payment today.
“That’s right,” Diana confirmed.
Their conversation was briefly interrupted by the waiter’s return. Once he left, the two old acquaintances got down to business over their respective orders.
“What do you need?” Diana asked.
“For Adam to disappear,” Michael replied.
“Where do you want to go?” Diana asked.
“Not me,” Michael clarified, stunning Diana. “Just Adam.”
The past year and a half had been difficult for Nikita as well. Standing in the darkened perch, looking down at the main area below, she thought over the difficult times behind her and the equally difficult times to come.
Keeping Walter close had been one of the few things that had kept her sane. He was the only one left in Section that she truly trusted and his sage advice had helped her out more times than she could count. As vital as his advice had been, Walter’s continued friendship and strong shoulder to lean and cry on, had been just as important.
Walter, for his part, was happy to stay in munitions and look after his “Sugar.” Nikita may have been the ‘big cheese’ and out of the field, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any dangers. Both from the outside and within. With Michael gone, Walter took it upon himself to watch over her.
Out of necessity, Nikita had promoted Kate Quinn to second in command. She knew Quinn had wanted the position when Paul Wolfe had been in command. Not having any better qualified candidates anyway, Nikita had given the position to her.
Quinn had proved to be up to the task and was quite capable in her own way. Of course though, she was no Madeline. Whatever her faults had been, Madeline had been one of a kind when it came to psych ops, strategy and interrogation. Her skills had been sorely missed over the last eighteen months. It was too bad that Nikita’s recommendation for Madeline’s evaluation had gone unheeded forcing Madeline’s hand.
Jason, on the other hand, was proving to be just as good as his predecessor. While he’d never replace his brother in her heart, Nikita had to admit that Jason’s proficiency equaled that of Birkoff’s.
As for the other positions, they weren’t as well manned. While Michael, like Madeline, had been irreplaceable, Nikita had hoped for better than she had got. The first level five who Nikita had inserted into Michael’s slot was a very good strategist and tactician – as long as there were no anomalies. Dorothy couldn’t think on her feet; as soon as anything went wrong she was useless.
Next she had tried William. He was excellent on his feet and could change a profile mid mission with barely missing a step. The problem with him was that he wasn’t that good at planning the missions in the first place.
In the end, Nikita had had to settle for splitting the difference. Dorothy handled planning while William carried out the mission. Even then Nikita and Kate had been finding themselves stepping in more than they should to achieve closure on missions gone slightly awry.
Sadly, there were no better alternatives. These two had been the best the Agency had to offer. Nikita hoped that with more experience one of the two would step up and claim the position as their own.
One of the other few bright spots was Jasmine Kwong. Nikita had promoted her to team leader way ahead of the curve but Jasmine had not disappointed her. In time, the young operative could become the field leader Nikita needed, but time was a luxury Section One didn’t have.
As soon as she had promoted Jasmine, Nikita searched the Section databases for the rest of the Section Eight crew that Jasmine had been a part of. To her pleasant surprise, Nikita had found they were all still alive.
Claire Brooks had been turned into a valentine op - a waste of her talents as far as Nikita was concerned. She’d requested a transfer for the young woman right away. When Claire had shown up in Section One, Nikita had been shocked at her appearance. Gone was the innocent looking, lollipop toting girl and in her place had stood an embittered operative who looked like she was about to get out of Section the only way she could – in a body bag. Nikita knew the look and the despair behind it for she’d been there more than once herself.
Nikita had immediately assigned Jasmine as Claire’s mentor and field op trainer and Claire eventually showed great aptitude in the field and would probably soon be promoted to level three.
Trent Hammett had been toiling away in a Section One substation, running their comms. While not as good as Jason, Trent was more than capable of being a first-rate assistant for Section One’s resident computer genius. Once transferred, Trent had successfully run several high level missions on his own and had recently begun to sub for his superior when Jason desperately needed some downtime.
Patrick “Darwin” Donoghue had fared the best. He’d apparently learned as much as he could (getting his hands on any information available and some not officially available) about armaments on his own in between missions. He’d been comfortably ensconced in Section Three as a munitions assistant when Nikita had found him.
Nikita had him transferred to One and had handed him over to Walter for taming and training. Darwin was now happily assisting Walter and only flirting with Section One’s female population as opposed to hitting on them. Well, most of the time, anyway.
All things considered, the four teens, once condemned to no-contest missions were proving their nay sayers wrong. They weren’t only surviving – they were thriving.
A little more time and Nikita was sure she’d be able to return Section One to what it used to be – the most effective (covert) anti-terrorist organization on the planet.
Nikita’s reminiscing and brief respite from current problems was predictably interrupted by the intercom.
“Yes, Jason,” Nikita answered the page, barely keeping the sigh out of her voice.
“Center on the line for you,” Jason returned.
Nikita took her cell phone out of her pocket and spoke crisply into it, “Yes?”
After a brief, one-sided conversation Nikita hung up, frowning. She’d been summoned to Center to meet with the triumvirate who oversaw the entire Agency. Philip Jones may have been the ‘managing partner,’ but in reality he had been just one of three colleagues who’d had an equal say in how the Agency was run. He’d been replaced within forty-eight hours after his death and the triumvirate had been up to three again.
A summons to meet with them had hardly ever involved good news. As she was preparing to leave, Nikita wondered what they wanted from her and Section One this time.
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