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Subject: Chapter 9

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Date Posted: Friday, January 18, 10:23:45am
In reply to: Rita 's message, "TMTC" on Tuesday, July 24, 12:04:39pm

Chapter Nine

“Why is your boyfriend back in Section One?” Mr. O’Neill asked Nikita in an unusually contemptuous and imperious manner.

Stunned at the approach, but hiding it well, Nikita decided she wasn’t going to cower in front of them. “Michael Samuelle,” she stressed the name, refusing to be baited by Mr. O’Neill’s scornful tone, “is my new second-in-command.”

“Why didn’t you ask for authorization?” Mr. O’Neill continued the inquisition, pleased at Nikita’s tactic, but refusing to show it.

“Personnel decisions are mine to make.”

“Not when they involve recruiting from the outside. And you knew that. Otherwise you wouldn’t have tried to do it in secret.” Mr. O’Neill countered.

“You wanted a twenty percent increase in Section One’s numbers in the next six months. This is the only way.” Nikita didn’t bother refuting her superior’s charges, both of them knowing he was right.

“In all of the Agency, there was no else?” Mr. Lacroix asked softly but with no less authority.

“No.” Nikita confirmed without hesitation.

“Is he better than you?” Ms. Giles asked cannily.

“We work best as a team,” Nikita answered truthfully. “However, if you feel our positions should be reversed, we are willing to consider it.” Nikita chose her words carefully, successfully conveying that her higher status was not a problem for Michael.

She also impressed upon them the fact that she and Michael would not make a command decision of *any* kind simply because the triumvirate willed it so. Nikita had wanted to pave the way for a smooth transition, but Mr. O’Neill spoiled it by going on the offensive instead of hearing her out. But, that did not mean that she would not fight to keep Michael alive and by her side.

“Tell you what blondie,” Mr. O’Neill regained control of the conversation. “Seeing as Section One hasn’t fallen apart since you took over, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.” He chose his next words purposely, “You can keep loverboy – provided you deliver the numbers we asked for in three months.”

As much as she didn’t want to ask, Nikita couldn’t stop herself, “If we don’t?”

“We’ll just say there won’t be a retirement program for either one of you and leave it at that.”

“Agreed.” Nikita replied needlessly. She had known it would come to this at the end, anyway. Mr. O’Neill had merely confirmed it for her as well as the fact that he was every bit as ruthless, if somewhat less diplomatic, as his predecessor, her father.

On her way out a few minutes later, Nikita turned back to Mr. O’Neill, “How did you know?” She asked, not really expecting an answer.

“I thought you understood,” Mr. O’Neill looked at her with some exasperation, “We know everything.”

“Of course,” Nikita replied sourly and turned back towards the door she came in through. She’d hoped for confirmation of either a human or electronic source for their information, but got neither. Of course, as Michael had taught her long ago, she always assumed the worst and prepared for it. Presuming the surveillance was both human and electronic, Nikita resolved that tracking the sources down would be a top priority, more so than in the past. For her and Michael’s partnership to work, independence from Center was key.

Following behind his colleagues, Mr. O’Neill was the only one of the three left in the room when he turned around and called, “Nikita.” Once he was sure she was listening, he looked at her pointedly and surprised Nikita by answering her previous question, albeit ambiguously. “Surveillance,” he said, without explicitly stating what kind.

Without another word or backward glance, Mr. O’Neill turned back around. Using the doorway his colleagues had just exited through, he left behind a thoughtful Nikita behind to interpret his answer and work out whether it was meant to help or hinder.

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Chapter 10RitaFriday, January 18, 10:24:41am

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