Written March 2001
Synopsis: The past becomes clearer when a young girl is rescued and brought to Section.
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
The park was quiet, save for a few singing birds and passing traffic. Large shade trees dotted the area around a lone picnic table and grill. Nikita leaned against the trunk, surveying the scene. “Perimeter is clear.”
“Any sign of Davis?” came the voice of Operations from her comm unit.
“Not yet.” A car pulling into the nearby lot caught her attention. “Wait… He’s here. Three bodyguards. Michael?”
The operative at the picnic table stood. “I see them.” He waited for the four men to reach his position.
Nikita relaxed for an instant. Davis was willingly providing intel about his former employer, and it was important to keep the situation secure. Davis was extremely nervous about being set up. She watched as Davis extended his hand to shake Michael’s. That’s when she saw it.
Another car pulled into the parking lot, and three people stepped out. Her breath caught in her throat. It was a couple with their young child. “Perimeter breach. Abort mission.”
“It’s too late for an abort!” Operations barked. “Contain the situation!”
She could hear him swearing, but she ignored it. Michael heard her over the comm line and turned his head toward the newcomers. The bodyguards followed his line of sight and immediately pulled out their weapons.
“No!” Nikita yelled, running from her position on the opposite side of the park. Everything seemed to go in slow motion. Section operatives who had been hiding in the trees dropped from their positions, firing their weapons. Michael, whose hand was still locked in Davis’s, pulled the man down on the ground to protect him from the gunfire. The family lifted their heads, and their once happy faces twisted into fear.
When the reverberations had ceased, all that remained were the sounds of the birds.
Operations paced Van Access as he waited for the return of the team. Casualties had not been in the calculations; they were to get the intel and egress. Now there were five dead and one wounded. Section One’s performance reflected poorly on him, and he was in enough hot water as it was. Their numbers were falling, and Madeline had been called to Oversight for an explanation. She was due back within the hour, and he suspected she would have nothing good to report.
The steel door opened, and the lower level operatives exited first. Michael came next, dragging Davis with him. The man was shouting about being set up. Operations glanced at him icily. “Take him to the White Room.” Finally, Nikita appeared, carrying a young child. He tilted his head slightly. “What’s this?”
Her face was hard, angry. “Her parents were killed, and she was injured. I wasn’t going to leave her there.”
The girl opened her deep brown eyes and looked at him sadly. He relented, probably against his better judgment. “Get to Medical and have her treated, then report for your debrief.” He watched Nikita turn the corner and sighed. A child roaming the halls of Section? The day had just gone from bad to worse.
Nikita smiled at the girl softly. “You’re going to be okay. My name’s Nikita. What’s yours?”
The child remained silent. She was probably in too much shock to say anything. She had long, sand-colored hair that was thin and straight. She looked around, examining her surroundings, studying the people.
A doctor approached them. “She’ll be fine. The bullet just grazed her shoulder. I’ll give her an anesthetic, and she can leave.” He inserted a needle into the child’s arm. She didn’t even flinch. “There you go. All set.”
Nikita smiled. “Thanks.” She helped the girl off of the bed, careful not to hurt her injured shoulder. “Would you like to stay here or do you want to come with me?” Still no answer. “Well, why don’t you come with me? Will you hold my hand?”
Cautiously, she took her hand and walked with her to Operations’s office for debriefing.
Operations stared down from the windows of the Perch in careful observation. He heard footfalls, recognizing them as Nikita’s. But there was another set, one he wasn’t familiar with. He turned. The little girl stared up at him.
“I didn’t know what else to do with her, so I brought her with me.”
He gazed at the blonde. “You could have left her in Medical.”
“I could have, but I didn’t.”
He set his jaw defiantly. “Why not?”
“She won’t hurt anything.”
“Nikita–” Before he could argue with her, the girl ran to him and threw her arms around his legs. He looked down almost fearfully.
Nikita smiled. “I think she likes you.”
He knelt down to the girl’s height and looked at her. She was not intimidated and stared right back at him. “What’s your name?”
“I think she’s in too much shock to speak,” Nikita said softly.
“My name is Paul,” he continued tenderly. “You’re going to be staying with us for a little while, is that okay?”
She put her arms around his neck, unwilling to let go. He smiled slightly and picked her up. She situated herself and eyed her new surroundings from her lofty position.
Nikita watched in amusement. Operations seemed absolutely captivated by the girl. She never would have pegged him for soft-hearted in the presence of children.
He followed the girl’s eyesight; she was looking out the large windows and down on Section. He turned to face the windows. “There we go. Now you can see better, huh?”
Michael’s voice sounded over the comm unit. “Sir, is Nikita available?”
“I’m here, Michael,” she answered.
“We’re getting ready to interrogate Davis. If you have finished your debrief, I’d like you to report to the White Room.”
She looked at the back of Operations’s head. He was pointing at various people on the ground and talking quietly to the girl. “Sir?”
“Go ahead, Nikita. You can debrief later.”
“All right. I’ll be right there, Michael.” She took one last look at Operations and walked out of the Perch.
Birkoff tapped at the keyboard, entering in the intel provided by Davis. Once he finished updating the systems, he had to send the information to the panels of the Beta Team. Then he had a systems analysis to perform, per Operations’s request. As he reached for a handful of gummy bears, he noticed Madeline. She was back from Oversight. He swallowed. She looked less than amused, and for that to be obvious was definitely not a good sign.
“Uh, Madeline, Operations wanted to see you in the dining room as soon as you got back.”
She nodded curtly and continued past him, her heels clicking angrily as she went. He exhaled slowly. Definitely not a good sign.
Madeline took a moment to stare at her bonsai plants in her office before going to see Operations. Her meeting at Oversight had taken longer than expected, and she needed a moment to regroup.
Finally, she turned and calmly walked to the breakfast room. She nodded politely to the operatives she passed on the way. When she arrived, she noted that no food had been prepared. Instead, Operations sat in the far chair at the table, staring intently at a chessboard. She saw the chair closest to her wiggle and realized it was occupied by his opponent. Never one to turn away from a chess game, she studied the board. Operations was about to be slaughtered. Whoever he was playing against was good.
“You will be mated in three moves.”
He looked up, startled, and smiled broadly. “Well, I’m glad to see you, too.”
“I was referring to the game.”
“Oh.” Three moves later, his king was cornered, and he laid the piece on the board in defeat. Addressing his opponent, he teased, “You were just lucky. I’ll get you next time.”
“On the contrary,” Madeline began, “the moves of your opponent were highly calculated. A skilled player. My congratulations to the victor.”
The chair spun around, and she frowned slightly at the sight. A young girl, about six or seven years old, examined her cautiously.
“Who is this?”
“We aren’t sure,” Operations answered. “She was injured at the meeting with Davis this afternoon. Her parents were killed.” He smiled softly at the girl. “She’s a bit shy, so we don’t know her name. Birkoff did a search for her identity, but it wasn’t in our database.” He stood up. “How did it go at Oversight?”
Looking at the girl out of the corner of her eye, she replied, “The committee members were disappointed with our numbers and recommended a list of operatives for abeyance. Then they suggested a boost in recruitment and training. We go up for review again in six months. If things haven’t improved, they will take over.”
“Well, that wasn’t so bad.”
“That’s what worries me. They said our failed missions were still above standards. I disagree.”
“So do I.” He paused. “I’ll pass the information onto Michael, see what he thinks.”
He hoisted the girl from the chair and into his arms. “Come on, darling, we’ll head to the kitchen and see what Christopher has cooking.” He turned to Madeline. “Join us here for dinner?”
His attitude deserved more study, she decided. “Yes, I’d like that.”
“Good. Eight-thirty.” He smiled at her then turned his attention to the child. “Let’s go.”
The girl grinned and latched onto his neck, cheek pressed to his. She kept her eyes on Madeline as they left.
Nikita sat at the briefing table, waiting for Operations to proceed. The intel they had received from Davis proved to be very useful. His former employer had a weapons deal in the works for tonight. She, Michael, Stillman, and Bates were part of the team to stop him.
Madeline arrived and pulled her chair out to sit down. It was occupied by the young girl, who looked up at her curiously. She almost bristled. There were no other seats available, and this was the place she always occupied. Irritated, she released her chair and folded her hands behind her back. The girl smiled, standing as a sort of peace offering. Madeline nodded her thanks and settled into the chair. Immediately, the child climbed onto her lap. She glanced at Operations, who smiled softly.
“This,” he began, bringing up a holographic image, “is Davis’s former employer Christian Beauregard. We believe he may be the middle man in a weapons deal with Red Cell. Your job is to bring him in for questioning.” He clicked the remote, and the image changed. “Here’s the warehouse where the deal will take place. Birkoff?”
“The largest room, outlined in red, is where Beauregard will meet with Red Cell,” Birkoff stated. “The green areas are your designated sniper points.”
“You will be using tranq guns on Beauregard and the operative,” Operations continued. “Bring them in alive. The profiles are on your panels. You leave in an hour.”
The girl jumped off Madeline’s lap and ran for Operations. He scooped her up in his arms and waited for everyone to leave. Nikita went over to them and smiled. “How’s it going?”
“She still isn’t speaking, but she beat me in chess.”
She raised her eyebrows. “She beat you in chess? She’s six years old.”
“I’m not very good.”
“I guess not.” She chuckled, ruffling the girl’s hair. She looked between her and Operations for a moment. “You know…” She bit her bottom lip in thought. “Never mind, it’s silly.”
“Well, I was just going to say that she…she almost looks like you.” She laughed slightly at the ridiculousness of her statement and walked away.
“Really?” He gazed at the girl. She put him under equal scrutiny. Now that Nikita mentioned it, there were some possible similarities. The same wide forehead, the creased upper lip, the perfectly c-shaped ears. Then he laughed, and the girl smiled. “Shall we return to the Perch?” At her nod, he carried her back upstairs.
On the ride to the warehouse, Walter handed out the weapons. Nikita and Bates received sniper rifles equipped with tranquilizers. Stillman and Michael received live ammunition. Michael went over the final profile again. “Nikita and Bates will be in charge of taking down Beauregard and the Red Cell operative. Stillman and I will eliminate the other hostiles. We predict there will be six, three for each side. When the area is secured, we will bring the sedated back to Section, and Housekeeping will take care of the rest. Are there any questions?”
The rest of the trip was spent in silence. Nikita mused over the little girl. What would happen to her? Section was not particularly fond of children, and no one knew what happened to an operative’s newborn. This situation had a different twist, however; Operations seemed completely taken by the girl. He was fatherly around her. If Center gave an order regarding her fate, how would he react?
The van pulled up to the warehouse. Michael nodded at the team. “Take your positions.” Everyone crept to their locations in the rafters and hid from view. They were ready. Now all they had to do was wait.
Birkoff took a bite of his Oreo and brushed the crumbs off his jacket. Operations appeared behind him. “Report.”
He quickly swallowed. “Michael and his team are in position. He just called in to say that both parties have arrived and the deal is about to proceed.”
He waited, watching the scene from Michael’s vid unit. The two main players stepped out of their vehicles, followed by their guards. Beauregard gestured to one of his men, who unlocked the trunk and removed a long box. It was opened to reveal several machine guns. The Red Cell operative displayed a briefcase, presumably full of money. The exchange began.
“Nikita, Bates, go.” Within moments, both targets were unconscious on the ground. The guards began looking around, guns poised for a confrontation. They had little chance to react; Michael and Stillman eliminated them immediately. “Retrieve the two men. Call Housekeeping. Report to egress.”
Operations clapped Birkoff on the shoulder. Finally, a successful mission. “Good job, team. See to it that our new guests are taken to Containment. Debrief in the morning.” He turned and headed to the Perch, grinning broadly.
Madeline found herself embroiled in a staring contest with the girl. They were waiting for Operations, and Christopher was preparing the place settings. The child seemed to be studying her intently, and Madeline didn’t like to be studied, especially by someone so young.
“Madame?” Christopher prompted as he held out a pitcher of water. At her nod, he poured her a glass.
Operations strolled into the room. “Christopher, I believe Madeline and I will be having wine with dinner tonight.” The waiter nodded.
She gazed at him, smiling slightly. “I take it the mission was a success?”
“Yes. It seems our luck is changing. The team is bringing in the prisoners now.”
“When will I be needed?”
He opened his mouth and paused for a moment. “I think Michael can handle it this time.”
He sat across from her and smiled at the girl. “And how are you? Are you keeping Madeline company?” He looked up at Madeline, and his cheerful expression faltered. “What is it?”
She said nothing for a moment, leaving him to look between her and the girl in confusion. “Have we learned anything about her parents?”
“Birkoff found them in our database. They were just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill couple, nothing of note…except for the fact that they didn’t have any children. The man was infertile, and all attempts at conception failed.”
Madeline raised an eyebrow. “Meaning?”
“They weren’t my parents.”
Both Operations and Madeline turned to the girl, unsure if she had spoken or if they had imagined it.
“They took care of me, but they weren’t my real parents,” the girl continued before taking a drink of milk. “I was adopted.”
Operations almost chuckled. “So you can speak.”
“Of course. How do you think Christopher knew what to serve me for dinner?”
Their eyes turned to the waiter, who made his exit after offering them both a smile. Madeline looked back at the girl. “So what’s your name?”
“Sabrina,” Operations repeated, smiling. “What took you so long to talk?”
“I was scared.” She took a bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich but didn’t halt in her speaking. “But everybody here is really nice. We play games and don’t have to eat vegetables.”
“What happened to your real parents?”
She shrugged. “I never met them. Do I have to stay here forever? I want to go home.”
He sighed and knelt down by her chair. “You can’t go home, Sabrina. You’re going to have to stay here for a while.”
Operations looked at Madeline, who wore a blank expression on her face. He turned to Sabrina once more. “Finish your sandwich, sweetheart. Maybe when you’re done, Birkoff will show you a game on his computer.”
She grinned brightly and continued to eat. He returned to his chair, catching Madeline’s gaze and offering her a weak smile.
End of Part 1