Nikita: One and None

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Nikita: One and None

Postby GirlTalk on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:39 pm

“One and None”
WGA: 1466578

Planting Alex at Division was risky but it’s paying off for Nikita. Her plan to destroy the rogue band of mercenaries is slowly progressing. Nikita is a critical threat to Percy and he has every Cleaner, Asset, and Agent on alert to eliminate her.

Today, Nikita will lay ruin to another of Percy’s money making schemes. He often takes odd jobs from his CIA associates so this mission is no surprise to Nikita. Acting on information from Alex, Nikita is perched in a window on the top floor of the Thompson West warehouse in Manhattan. Division’s plan is to kidnap and eliminate the son of the Russian ambassador to Cuba.

Grigor Chenenkoff, a self-made billionaire from St. Petersburg, has just been appointed ambassador and is scheduled for a series of meetings at the UN the next day. Grigor’s fifteen year old son, Nikolai, begged his father to take him to New York City. Now, having just arrived, Grigor and Nikolai head to The Surrey in downtown Manhattan.

Nikita, in her position high above the busy New York City street, has full view of the Surrey’s VIP entrance. She is cloaked in the darkness of the empty warehouse floor and invisible to the street below.

A line of black limousines with embassy flags comes into view. Nikita steadies her aim and tightens her grip on the trigger of her M24 sniper rifle. The first limousine slowly pulls past the entrance and stops just beyond the double glass doors. This allows the second limo to stop directly in front of the entrance. Nikita scans the scene through her rifle scope and focuses intently on the vehicles and crowds around the second limousine. Moments later, the doors of the car swing open.

So intently focused on her mission, Nikita doesn’t notice the shadows stealthy moving from the bank of elevators behind her. Each of the three men is heavily armed. They take cover behind towers of brown cardboard boxes. Slowly, they move closer to Nikita’s position but she remains unaware of their presence.

Nikita continues to survey the situation at The Surrey but there is no movement by any hostiles. The Ambassador and his son wait for their luggage and then enter the building.

“Nikita,” a deep voice calls to her. Startled, she instantaneously drops her M24, pulls her Glock 27 from her waistband, and points it in the direction of the voice. Not seeing anyone, she quickly jumps behind a mound of boxes beside her, takes an offensive position, and fires several rounds. There is no return fire. Luckily for Nikita, her aim is good and one of the men falls backward, his Koch MP5 slides across the floor. One of the other gunmen, turns toward his lost partner and reveals his position. Nikita fires. The man falls. Two down and one to go she thinks.

“Nikita,” the voice repeats. Nikita realizes she’s heard the voice before.

“Sorry. You’ve got the wrong person. My name’s Makita,” she calls out from her hiding place. She hears the man laugh.

“I always liked that about you. You’re funny. I told Michael you were always my favorite,” the voice says from behind a wall of boxes. A look of confusion falls over her face as she realizes who is trying to kill her.

“Why aren’t you dead?” she calls back.

“It’s not from a lack of trying,” the voice responds with a chuckle.

“Practice. You’ll never achieve your goals without practice,” she says. Again the voice laughs.

Nikita is now impatient with the situation. “I’d love to stay and chat about old times but as you can see I’m busy,” she says.

“There’s no way off this floor. Just drop the gun and walk out where I can see you,” the voice warns.

“Why not just shot me?” Nikita asks.

“I need you alive for the bounty,” the voice continues. “Sorry. Would be easier for me to kill you but the payout only comes if you’re alive.”

Nikita is shocked. Who would put a price on her head? Percy’s too cheap. She knows he’ll just bide his time until his own people track her down and kill her. Nikita’s intrigued but she’s also tired of the standoff. She looks around to familiarize herself with her immediate surroundings. Then, Nikita formulates a plan. She slowly backs up behind the stacks of boxes that hide her position. She lunges as high as she can toward the tower of boxes and rides them to the ground. The motion of the movement rolls her along the floor and she stops along side of her assailant. He is taken by surprise as Nikita whips her legs around and kicks him off his feet. Nikita quickly stands over him, her gun pointed just above his head.

“Nice to see that Harvard education isn’t going to waste,” Nikita says.

Michael is spending his morning observing fighting techniques with the recruits. Today’s class is advanced kickboxing with a twist – it’s caged fighting and the opponents are blindfolded. Michael watches as Thom and Sam begin their battle. Both aggressively attach each other. The sounds of both men’s grunting and growling mix with the cheers from the other recruits. Finally, Thom pins Sam. Michael glances at the clock on the wall. It reads 11:30 a.m. Time to break class for lunch. Before he has a chance to excuse the group, an Operative bursts into the training gym.

“You’ve got a call,” the Operative directs at Michael. Michael ignores him and continues watching the action on the floor.

“It’s Nikita,” the Operative says. Michael turns, a look of surprise on his face. He pauses for a moment and then turns back to the recruits.

“Let’s take a break,” he tells them. “We'll review field first aid after lunch so if you’re even remotely squeamish around blood, plan accordingly.”

Birkhoff slouches in his chair in Operations. He focuses on his many LCD screens and watches as they continually change their view. He sees Michael enter and sits up in his chair.

“I’ll patch her through,” Birkhoff offers as Michael grabs a Bluetooth device from Birkhoff’s desk and places it in his ear.

“You must miss me,” Michael says into the air as he paces around Division’s control center.

“Not really,” a male voice replies. Michael looks surprised. He puts his finger in his other ear to hear more clearly.

At Nikita’s safe house, her prisoner is covered in duct tape and plastered to a folding chair. Nikita holds her cell phone close to his mouth. It’s on speaker so she can hear Michael.

“Mark?” Michael asks. Nikita takes the phone off speaker and puts it to her ear. She paces around her captive.

“Any idea why you’re brother’s trying to kidnap me?” Nikita asks. Michael quickly turns to make sure no one’s listening.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?” Michael says a hint of desperation in his voice. Michael stops pacing when he sees Percy overlooking the scene from the doorway of his office.

“Mark is freelancing,” Nikita offers as she looks down at Mark and moves her gun inches from his temple. “Mark and I have tried to figure out who wants me dead but your little brother is being less than helpful. Do you have any ideas?” she asks. Michael is silent as he turns away from Percy.

“You’re silence means either A - you’re in on it; B - you know Percy’s in on it; or C - you can’t talk,” she says.

“I see,” Michael says maintaining his composure. Nikita smiles at Michael’s cleverness.

“Just so you know. He’s only alive because of you,” she says. Michael is silent.

“I’ll give him back to you but just you. Understand?” she asks as she notices Mark squirming against the duct tape constraints.

“Yes,” Michael says.

“Central Park by the Alice in Wonderland statue. 1:15 today,” she says.

“Fine,” he replies and he rips the Bluetooth from his ear and throws it on the table next to Birkhoff.

“She does that to you, doesn’t she?” Birkhoff asks. Michael, a vision of controlled anger, ignores him and climbs the stairs past Percy. Birkhoff knows Percy is none too happy that Nikita is back on the grid.

“A word,” Percy calls after Michael. He sees Percy holding the door to his office. Michael decides it’s in his best interest to humor him at this point.

“Please, take a seat,” Percy waves his hand toward a chair. Michael, showing signs of frustration, sighs and slips into the chair. Percy takes a seat at his desk.

“Michael, I’m not going to give you that ‘I’ve always thought of you as s son speech’,” Percy starts, “Because you know that’s ****.”

Michael looks down to cover the smile on his face.

“It’s interesting that Nikita continues to reach out to you, don’t you think?” Percy asks, a sarcastic tone to his voice.

“What’s your real question, Percy?” Michael asks.

“I don’t have to tell you how I feel about this situation. I believe you’re unclear about your priorities when it comes to Nikita,” Percy continues.

“I think it’s you that’s unclear,” Michael offers. “I don’t know what you think has passed between Nikita and me, but you’re wrong. She was one of my assets and nothing more.”

“Either you’re in denial or you’re lying to me,” Percy says. He pauses for a moment and then continues.

“Did you every kiss her, Michael? Or more to the point, did you ever want to?” Michael is surprised by the questions but doesn’t show it.

“No to both. Happy now?” Michael says.

“Either way, my level of confidence in your ability to control this situation is more than lacking. It’s unfortunate for you she wasn’t eliminated in Montreal,” Percy continues.

Michael runs his thumb and forefinger over his mustache and down his chin. “Is that all?” Michael coolly asks.

“I’m pulling you off the Nikita directive,” Percy says. Michael, visibly angry, jumps from his chair.

“Is this another test, Percy? You want me to drag her in here by the hair and throw her on the floor in front of you. Then you’ll trust me again, right?” Michael snaps.

“I’d love that,” Percy says with a smile. Michael, frustrated with the conversation, walks to the office door.

“Until then, you stay busy with your recruits,” Percy calls to him. Michael stops in his tracks and looks back at Percy.

“I’ll let you know if I need you for anything else,” Percy states. Michael flings open the door and storms out.

Central Park is alive with New Yorkers enjoying the beautiful fall day. Mark and Nikita slowly walk down one of the paths toward the statue of Alice. No one in the crowd of people appears to notice that hidden under Mark’s Ray Bans are small patches taping his eyes shut. Or, that a thin layer of Super Glue applied to his lips prevents him from calling out. Or, that his slow cadence is the result of a small C4 explosive device strapped between his legs.

Nikita gently guides Mark forward. She presses her gun against his back, her hand hidden under his olive green hoodie. She sees Michael enter the park. When Michael sees Nikita and Mark, he stops. He lets his coat open to show her he has no weapons. She scans the park for anything out of the ordinary.

“He’s here” Nikita whispers to Mark. Michael moves closer to the statue.

“I don’t need to tell you it’s in your best interest to behave, do I?” Nikita asks Mark as she encourages him with a gentle push.

Mark makes a groaning sound deep in his throat. Michael reaches the statue and watches as Nikita and Mark approach.

“He’s wired with C4,” Nikita says to Michael, a huge smile on her face.

“You’re so mistrusting,” Michael calls to her. He gives Mark a cautionary look.

“You’ve got one hour,” she says, Michael’s eyebrow raises.

“You’re too nice,” Michael offers.

“I’m in a generous mood today. I would encourage you to use that hour to disarm the bomb and don’t try to follow me,” Nikita adds. She continues to smile at Michael as she slowly backs away from them.

“The code to disarm the bomb is my birth date. Hope you remember it,” she says continuing to enjoy the situation.

Michael takes Mark by the arm and watches as Nikita starts walking away. She turns back to them.

“In case you don’t remember, call me on the encrypted phone in his pocket,” she says and then she slips into a crowd of people and out of sight. Michael looks at Mark again.

“I have no clue what Nikita’s birth date is,” he teases Mark. “Oh well, we’ll try and figure something out.”

Mark squeals deep in his throat. Michael just smiles as he pulls Mark by the arm and down the path toward the street.

The Harvest moon casts gold light through the shades on the windows of Nikita’s safe house. She has been focused on scanning the Internet and lost track of time. She looks down at the clock at the corner of her screen. Midnight. Michael didn’t call. She smiles at the idea that he remembered her birth date.

Her Internet research into Grigor Chenenkoff doesn’t provide her with much information. Interestingly enough, there is no news about his son being kidnapped. Clearly, she was set up.

She hopes to enlist Alex in her quest for more information on the supposed kidnapping plot by Division but Alex isn’t responding to her pings. Regardless, she knows Division is involved. The real question is does Michael know. If he doesn’t, then Percy is keeping information from him and that causes her real concern for Michael’s safety.
For Percy, life is far beyond cheap. It’s a tool to use and discard. He cares only about people’s ability to help in his quest for more wealth. Beyond that, no one is indispensible. She knows Michael has followed Percy’s orders in the past and that her elimination is a Division priority. But she also knows Michael is struggling with what’s right and wrong when it comes to Division. Hopefully, he’s keeping that struggle from Percy.

She wipes a tear away from her face and then realizes it’s the result of a yawn. Nikita shuts down her computer and heads to her makeshift bedroom.

Mark is lying on Michael’s couch. Dried blood covers his face. Earlier, Michael used his own special type of persuasion to encourage his brother to talk. He’s now a bloody mess but alive. Or at least that’s what Michael keeps telling him.

Michael takes a sip of Scotch and looks over at Mark as he lay quietly moaning on the couch.

“I’m putting you on the ‘no fly’ list with Homeland. Your mercenary days are over,” Michael calls out to Mark.

“Give me something for the pain,” Mark barks back at him.

“No,” Michael says coolly and takes another sip from his glass.

The door bell rings and it startles Mark. He jumps up and the motion makes his head ache. He lets out another moan. Michael goes to the door. It’s a Division Operative. Michael shows him in.

“I want you sitting on him until you hear from me,” Michael says. The Operative grabs Mark and pulls him to his feet.

“Ahhhh,” Mark groans doubling over in pain.

“I’ll be in touch,” Michael says sarcastically to Mark.

The Operative quickly pulls Mark all the way out of the apartment.

Michael goes to his desk and grabs a cell phone sitting next to his computer. He studies it for a moment and then pushes the “on” key and then the number 1. The words ‘Bat Girl’ appear on the display. Michael smiles and puts the receiver to his ear.

“You remembered,” Nikita whispers into the phone. She is half asleep.

“Just to clear up any confusion. Mark isn’t working for Division again,” Michael coolly offers.

“That’s good. I was worried Percy was getting desperate,” Nikita jabs. The corner of Michael’s mouth twitches.

“Mark’s better than you think,” Michael continues. “I taught him everything you know.”

“I need to practice my interrogation skills. I didn’t get much out of him,” Nikita states.

“I did,” Michael teases. “It seems you have enemies in high places,” Michael adds. “Anton Churnovic.”

“The industrialist?” Nikita asks. “Why would a Russian industrialist want me dead?” she asks.

“You should be asking yourself how he found you. With pin point accuracy I might add,” Michael says, still showing coolness to his voice.

“All that time you were underground even Birkhoff wasn’t able to track you, but Churnovic can. Don’t you think that’s odd?” Michael asks.

Nikita is silent.

“Figure it out, Nikita, before he tries again,” he adds and then Michael hangs up the phone. He stares at the device and thinks of Nikita. He not only has to keep Percy from killing her but now some Russian wants her dead.

Dr. Mangenoli intently studies Nikita’s medical file as she pushes open the door to the examination room. Nikita, dressed in a hospital gown, sits on the examination table.

“You were right,” Dr. Mangenoli says as she looks up from her file to see Nikita. “It took me twenty minutes of studying the data to find it. How did you know you had a tracking device?”

“It’s a long story,” Nikita offers. “But I’ll shorten it by saying someone told me.”

“Well, it’s located in your belly button,” the doctor adds. “I’d say it was inserted at birth to minimize scaring and keep the device hidden.”

Nikita is silent as she thinks about what the doctor is telling her.

“So, what would you like to do,” Dr Mangenoli asks.

“I want it out. Now,” Nikita says with some sense of urgency.

“All right then,” the doctor replies as she turns to leave.

“And I’d prefer a local over anesthesia, if you don’t mind,” Nikita adds.

“No problem. Whatever you prefer,” Dr. Mangenoli says. “I’ll have the nurse prep a room. Give us fifteen minutes and we’ll begin,” she says with a comforting smile.

Nikita smiles back. “Thank you,” she says.

Nikita wraps her scarf around her neck as she walks down the hospital hallway toward the exit. The expression on her face shows the discomfort she feels from the incision in her belly button and the ten stitches used to close the wound. She rounds the corner toward the door. Suddenly, someone grabs her by the arm and pulls her against the wall on the far side of the hallway. None of the hospital staff or visitors notices the scene. Nikita feels the hard shaft of a gun barrel pressing tightly against her rib cage.

“Where’s your gun?” Michael whispers in her ear. Nikita turns to see his face just inches from hers.

“Michael, it’s you,” she says with a relaxed sigh. I thought it was …,” she trails off after he again, jams the gun into her ribs. He looks at her, his expression serious.

She raises her arm slightly. The motion opens her jacket. Michael reaches across her body and takes the weapon from her waistband.

“Out the door. Slowly,” Michael says just above a whisper. Nikita moves from the wall toward the door with Michael still holding the gun to her chest.

“How did you find me?” she asks with some amazement.

“Birkhoff is a genius at hacking other people’s toys,” Michael states.

They pass through the automatic doors and onto the street. Michael gently guides her to the right of the sidewalk and out of the rush of walking traffic. Nikita continues slowly and occasionally turns to glance at Michael but he looks straight ahead. The crowds start to thicken as they approach the intersection at 42nd Street. The traffic light warns them not to cross. Nikita takes the opportunity. She pulls away from his grasp and runs full on into traffic. Michael covertly tucks his gun in his pants and runs after her.

Horns honk and brakes squeal as Nikita flees across the avenue, Michael in hot pursuit. She makes it across without injury and looks back to see Michael’s position. He is within 20 feet of catching her. To gain some distance, she turns and runs down the street against traffic. The horns and brakes intensify and she jockeys to avoid getting killed. Michael, doing the same, continues the chase. Quickly she turns left and dashes up on the sidewalk and into an alley.

Suddenly, she feels her body and then her head slam against the brick wall. Michael presses his knee into her groin and his left arm across her collar bone. She’s pinned against the wall of the dark alley and can’t move.

Just then, she feels a new pain. The stitches from her incision pull and break. She can feel wet warmth on her stomach. For a moment, Michael and Nikita look at each other. The sound of their breathing is all they hear.

“Finishing Percy’s dirty work?” Nikita asks still gasping for air. Michael purses his lips. He presses harder against her chest and she gasps. He doesn’t notice the small red spot forming on her shirt just above her belt.

“Why didn’t you just kill me in Singapore, Michael?” she whispers still trying to catch her breath.

“I’m not here to hurt you,” he offers. Nikita fights against his hold but he’s too strong.

“Feels like you are,” Nikita says.

“I want you to come back to Division. It’s the only place I can keep an eye on you,” Michael continues.

“You’re delusional,” she says. “As long as Percy’s around, you can’t save me” she says. Michael just stares at her.

“If you come back, I’ll convince him it’s in his best interest to keep you alive,” Michael says still pushing against her.

“He must’ve been pretty ticked I survived that fall into the St. Lawrence,” she says, her breathing still heavy.

Michael breaks eye contact with her and looks down. She tries to make eye contact with him again.

“You must hate me,” she says. Michael’s face softens.

“You were the best and the brightest. Percy’s ‘go to’ guy. You were flawless. The perfect machine. Then I came along and suddenly you were a failure. Everything you had worked for. Everything you believed in, now in question,” she whispers. Michael quickly drops his knee, grabs her upper arms, and shakes her.

“Shut up,” he threatens. “You don’t know me,” he punctuates his words with another shake of her arms.

“I wanted to,” she says at just above a whisper. “That’s why you hate me.”

He lets go of her and leans in closer, his mouth just inches from hers. In the darkness of the alley, Michael still can’t see the red spot on her shirt getting larger with every heartbeat.

“I don’t hate you,” Michael finally says. Nikita takes a deep breath and the sound excites him.

“Percy asked me if I ever kissed you. Or if I ever wanted to,” Michael whispers but doesn’t move.

The sound of his voice is deep and soft. He breaks eye contact with her again and tilts his head down. Nikita doesn’t move. She looks at his mouth. His lips are parted and every so often she can see the mist from his breath escape into the cool evening air. Nikita tilts her head and slowly moves upward to press her lips to Michael’s. As she feels the warmth of his mouth, she closes her eyes. Michael also closes his eyes as he feels her lips move against his. Nikita gently presses harder and her breathing quickens.

Suddenly, Michael moves into the kiss and presses her against the brick wall. He takes her by the arms again. He begins to move his mouth with hers and the kiss deepens. She can hear his breathing intensify with hers. Abruptly, he breaks off the kiss. He is silent as he backs away unable to look into her eyes. He quickly slips out of the alley and back on the street.

Nikita closes her eyes and thinks about the kiss. She wonders what this will mean for her and Michael. Quickly, her thoughts return to a more pressing issue. She reaches into her pants’ pocket and removes a small metal device. She rolls it in her fingers for a few seconds. She raises her arm to throw the devise in the alley but stops. For a moment she pauses and then walks out onto the street.

Heading down 42nd Street, she sees a scruffy dog tied in front of a liquor store. She notices the unusual collar around the dog’s neck. She smiles and thinks now there are 102 uses for duct tape. She peeks into the store and sees the dog’s owner surveying the many bottles on the walls. She unties the dog and takes him around the corner out of sight. The dog is affectionate and Nikita is able to fumble with the collar until she fines a frayed edge.

“Yes, you are the sweetest thing,” she coos at that dog. “What’s your name, Sweetie?” she asks knowing there will be no answer.

Finally, she works an edge of the duct tape free and is able to pull the tape loose. She places the metal device on the sticky side of the tape and presses’ tightly making sure the device is secure in the dog’s makeshift collar.

“There you go,” she says. “You’re all set.”

She rounds the corner from her hiding place and heads back to the liquor store. The dog’s owner has finished his shopping and is in a visible panic seeing his dog is gone.

“Missy,” he calls out in all directions. His worn clothes and unshaven face hint that he might be homeless. Perfect, Nikita thought.

“Oh my god,” Nikita says frantically. “Is she yours?” she asks. The owner turns to see Nikita walking toward him holding his dog’s tattered leash.

“I just caught her,” she says pretending to be out of breath. “Her leash came loose just as I was passing by so I ran after her,” Nikita continues.

“Thank you so much,” the man responds.

“No problem,” Nikita says as she hands the leash back to the man. Then, she bends down and rubs the dog’s neck and face.

“Now you behave and no more running away,” Nikita says. “Bye,” she offers as she waves to the man and the dog and walks down the street.

Michael burst through his apartment door, walks past the living room and into the kitchen. He tosses his cell phone and keys on the kitchen island. The silence of the night is broken by the sound of these items landing hard on the marble counter top. He walks directly to the crystal decanters sitting on a silver tray. He picks up one of the bottles, pulls off the top, and pours a generous amount of Scotch into a glass. The apartment is dark but the lights of the city reflect through a wall of glass that overlooks the street below. It’s an incredible view.

Michael takes a gulp of Scotch and walks to his desk. He turns on the desk lamp. The light illuminates his shirt and he sees a dark red spot just above his belt buckle. He thinks for a moment. Then, he grabs the cell phone Nikita gave him and begins to type in a message.

Nikita pulls the white cotton thread through the small needle and ties a knot at the bottom. She looks down at her belly button. She must continuously wipe away the blood to see the wholes from the original stitches. She starts at the bottom and weaves the thread through to the top. She ties another knot this time flush with her skin. The ringer on her cell phone chimes the arrival of a text message. She walks across to her desk, grabs the phone and checks the display. The envelop icon blinks before her eyes. She hits the open key and sees the message is from the phone she gave Michael.

Why are you bleeding?

She types a response, hit’s ‘send’, and tosses the phone back on the desk.

Michael takes another gulp from his glass and hears the ringer on the phone chime. He picks it up and hits the open key.

Field injury. I’ll be fine.

Michael knows that’s all he’ll get from her tonight and that’s fine. He’ll get more answers the next time they meet and he would make sure that’s soon.

Nikita wipes away the last remaining blood and dresses the wound. Now, she has to get ready to leave.

Michael rarely uses Division’s gym equipment for personal use but this morning is different. He can’t sleep. He needs to regain his focus and sort through what’s happen over the last few days. He arrives in the locker room, puts on his workout gear, tapes his hands, and hits the punching bag. After an hour, his fingers are numb and swollen. After another hour, his hands are bloody and raw but he doesn’t see any reason to stop. Focus, he keeps saying in his head. Focus.

The cloudy New York morning and the muted sunlight set a dreary tone for the day. A door opens on an old brownstone in the warehouse district of Manhattan. A tall, slender woman emerges wearing a long Giorgio Armani faux fur leopard coat. She takes the ten stairs out the door, her black leather Prada boots clicking on the pavement until she reaches the edge of the street. Her appearance including her Coach suitcase is strangely out of place in this part of town. She ignores the occasional gawker that may stare. Her short blond, shoulder length bob is perfectly coffered. Her youthful face hidden only by her Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses. She hails a cab which immediately stops. She gets in and the cab drives away.

“Can I get you anything, Ms. Evers,” the flight attendant asks as she takes the leopard coat from the passenger.

“Evian, please,” Ms. Evers answers. The flight attendant walks back to the galley.
Snug in her first class seat and relatively confident no one knows who she really is, Ms. Evers removes her sunglasses to reveal Nikita’s hazel eyes. The flight attendant returns with her water. Nikita takes a long sip and looks out the window of the Boeing 747. She pulls out her laptop from her carryon and begins surfing the Internet for more information about Time magazine writer, Jennifer Evers and Russian Industrialist Anton Churnovic.

Crowds of people pack Sheremetyevo International Airport just outside of Moscow. Nikita deplanes and walks through the hordes of people to baggage claim. She grabs her Coach bag from the baggage carousel and heads off to flag a cab. Just beyond baggage claim, she sees a well dressed man holding a sign saying “Jennifer Evers.” Strange, she thinks. She didn’t order a car. She decides to approach the man.

“I’m Jennifer Evers,” she says.

In a strong Russian accent the man offers, “Welcome.” He bows to her and reaches for her bag.

“Mr. Churnovic welcomes you,” he continues. “Did you have a pleasant journey from the US of A?” he politely asks and heads off to the exit.

“Very,” Nikita offers shyly from behind her sunglasses.

“Our car is right out front. Please. Come,” he says as he leads her out the airport exit.

Once in the limousine, the driver pulls open the window to the passenger compartment.

“Is it right, you are staying at The Four Seasons?” he asks.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Nikita says. She wonders how the limo driver knew where she was staying. She pulls out her phone and begins typing a message.

Michael doesn’t know what possessed him to bring the phone Nikita gave him to his office, but there it is, resting on his desk in front of him. He stares at it intently and doesn’t notice Amanda walking into his office.

“Lost in thought I see,” she says with a hint of sarcasm.

Michael looks up and sees her standing next to his desk. He doesn’t really care for Amanda. Even in the world of intelligence and problem neutralization, she is a cold-hearted bitch. There is something almost mystical about her conniving ways and that touchy feely garbage she dowels out to the recruits is like witchcraft to Michael. He stays clear of her whenever possible.

“What can I do for you, Amanda?” he says.

“I’m starting the pain desensitization sessions today. I want to know if you’ll be joining us,” she says.

“I’m busy,” he fires back. “But, if you have concerns with one of the recruits, you let me know,” he continues.

Wanting to end this meeting as quickly as possible, Michael stands and opens his office door indicating their meeting is over. Amanda slowly walks out the door. As Michael closes the door, he hears the sound of vibration. It’s Nikita’s phone.

Michael sits down at this desk and picks up the phone. He studies the envelop icon frantically blinking on the display screen. He hits the key to open the message and reads:

I need your help

The same limo driver comes to The Four Seasons the next morning to take Nikita to see Anton Churnovic. The drive to Churnovic’s home from Moscow is long and the Russian countryside is drab. Finally, the limousine driver turns onto the long tree-lined drive that leads to the house.

Anton Churnovic’s mansion is not what Nikita expects. It isn’t the age but rather the upkeep that surprises her. Evidently, Churnovic doesn’t care to spend his billions on maintaining the grounds or the maintenance of the home itself.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” the limo driver proudly asks clearly expecting an affirmation to his question.

“Lovely,” Nikita offers. “How long has Mr. Churnovic lived here?” she asks but she knew the answer.

Forty five years ago, Churnovic started as a small time arms dealer. He loved the opportunities offered by selling black market weapons. He very much enjoyed the world the Soviets had created. No need to be concerned with pesky competition like in the States.

When communism fell in Russia, Churnovic survived and even flourished by selling weapons and gadgets on the open market. This also allowed him to expand his underground business to include military grade weapons.

Churnovic is a very private person but he prides himself on being a customer focused entrepreneur. If he doesn’t have it, he knows where to get it. And will, for the right price. Churnovic is also an inventive genius, creating high tech toys for the Russian intelligence community. His philosophy has always been ‘make the market believe they need your ****, even if you know they don’t’.

He bought his home in 1990 from an ex-KGB commander that was forced to surrender his wealth. Churnovic loves a deal and the house was cheap.

“Twenty years,” the limousine driver continues as he turns left in the circle driveway and stops in front of the house. Nikita looks out the window and waits for the driver to open her door. The landscaping, although dead for the season, is overgrown. It’s been several months since anyone has worked on the grounds. There’s something about this property that doesn’t seem right. She will add this to her list of questions to ask Churnovic as part of her Time magazine ploy.

A crusty old Butler comes to the door of Churnovic’s mansion. He looks as old as the house itself. He opens the door just enough to see Nikita standing there in her leopard coat and sunglasses. A cold gust of wind hits the door and he shuts in slightly to keep the winter out.

“Jennifer Evers to see Mr. Churnovic, please,” she says. The Butler opens the door wider and Nikita slips through. She finds herself in a massive reception room with vaulted ceilings and a large ornate mahogany staircase ascending the middle of the room.

“This way, Ms. Evers,” the Butler calls to Nikita. She realizes the Butler has a slight British accent which surprises her. The Butler’s cadence is slow as one would expect. Nikita slows her normal gait just to stay behind as he walks to the left of the reception room and stands before a set of cream and gold colored doors. He slides the doors open and Nikita walks into the room.

“I’ll let Mr. Churnovic know you’re here,” the Butler replies as he slides the doors closed.

The room is surprisingly modern and new, nothing like the outside of the house. Perhaps Churnovic spends his money on the comfort he can experience on the inside rather than the impression he can create on the outside. Nikita thinks that must be the old school Russian mentality Churnovic carried over from his earlier days under the Communist regime.

After a few moments, the doors once again slide open. This time a man in his late thirties enters the room. He is well dressed and clean cut with short light brown hair and medium build. His face shows signs of aging from the harsh Russian winters but is still attractive.

“Hello, Ms. Evers,” he says as he crosses the room, his hand extended to Nikita. “I’m Ivan Churnovic.”

Nikita knows this is Anton Churnovic’s son. She extends her hand and they shake.

“Nice to meet you,” she offers.

“Please, sit down,” he gestures for her to take a seat.

“I must tell you, Mr. Churnovic, we appreciate the opportunity to speak to your father,” Nikita jumps in. “I know he rarely gives interview.”

“Ivan. Please call me Ivan,” he corrects her and continues. “Of course. We have nothing to hide. My father has been more than forth right about where his wealth comes from. He’s not ashamed.”

“You’re English is excellent,” Nikita says.

“I was fortunate enough to spend much of my youth in America,” he says. “You can’t do business in this world unless you speak English,” he says with a small chuckle.

“Will you excuse me for a moment,” he says and he stands and walks across the room to a desk by one of the many floor-to-ceiling windows that fill the room. He picks up the phone and dials a number before putting the receiver to his ear.

Alex and Michael are sitting in his office. His vertical blinds are at a slant to discourage a clear vision of the inside of his office. Alex, sitting at a round table in front of Michael’s desk, is wearing a phone headset and watching the screen of a laptop. Michael is sitting behind his desk anxiously waiting. Suddenly, Alex sits up straight in her seat. Michael anxiously watches her. Alex hits a button on the laptop keyboard.

“Time, Incorporated. How can I direct your call”? She asks.

Ivan Churnovic speaks into the phone receiver. “Jennifer Evers, please,” he asks.

Alex continues, “I’m sorry but Ms. Evers is traveling for a story. Would you like her voicemail or to speak with her Editor?”

Nikita, watching Ivan, tries to appear calm but her pulse is racing.

“The editor, please,” says Ivan as he looks over at Nikita patiently watching from the couch.

“One moment,” Alex says and she types something into the computer.

On Michael’s desk is a copy of Time magazine open to the credits page. At the top is the name of the Editor-in-Chief, Andrew Knight. The phone at Michael’s desk rings. He waits for the second ring and then picks it up.

“Andrew Knight,” Michael says.

“Yes, Mr. Knight. My name is Ivan Churnovic,” Ivan says into the receiver.

“Yes, Mr. Churnovic,” Michael says. “Wonderful to hear from you. I’m hoping Ms. Evers arrived safely,” he adds.

“She did. Thank you, Mr. Knight,” Ivan says as he slowly returns the phone to the cradle.

The line goes dead. Michael slowly hangs up his receiver.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Ivan says as he walks back to where Nikita is sitting.

“Not at all,” she says. “I understand completely. I want you and your father to be comfortable sharing his story so whatever verification necessary is fine with me.” Ivan smiles broadly at Nikita.

“Of course you do,” he says.

Alex pulls off her headset and tosses it on the table. She runs her fingers through the loose strands of her hair to straighten them.

“What Op was this for?” she asks and then looks at Michael who is deep in thought. “Michael?” she asks again. Michael finally turns to look at her.

“Never question an Op,” he sternly says.

“Right. I forgot,” she shoots back.

“And don’t talk about it. To anyone,” he fires back.

“Fine,” she says as she stands. “Are we done?” she impatiently asks.

“Yes,” he says as he turns back to his thoughts. Alex moves toward the door. Before she can turn the door knob, Michael calls after her.

“Alex,” he says without looking at her.

“Yes,” she replies. Michael looks at her now, his expression soft.

“Thanks,” he says.

“Yeah. Sure,” she offers and leaves Michael alone.

Ivan is sitting across from Nikita. “So tell me why an article about my Father?” he asks.
“Americans are having a love affair with Russia right now” Nikita confidently begins. “There’s a powerful attraction between our two counties. It used to be the States that held the fascination of a happy, successful like. Now, twenty years after the fall of Communism, its people like your father that enjoy the good life,” she says.

“We want to share the story of the most powerful Russian in democratic Russian history with the world,” she finishes. Ivan listens intently. She can see he likes what she has just said. It appears he enjoys the notoriety of his father and isn’t the least bit apprehensive about basking in his father’s limelight.

Michael is restless and although he’s not prepared to admit it, he knows why. He leaves his office and heads down to Operations. Birkhoff, wearing his trademark headset, is typing away at his keyboard. The glow of computer light washes Birkhoff’s skin even paler than normal. Michael walks up behind him.

“When was the last time you saw the sun”? Michael asks. Birkhoff doesn’t even turn to acknowledge him.

“I need a lock on that tracking device from the other day,” Michael continues. Birkhoff sighs and looks up at Michael.

“I have more pressing issues,” he shoots back at Michael.

“Will you be able to deal with your pressing issues with a broken hand?” Michael asks, a serious look on his face. Birkhoff thinks he’s kidding but can’t be sure.

“One minute,” Birkhoff offers. He clicks a few keys and three seconds later he’s displaying a map of New York City with a small blinking blue dot moving slowly at the corner of 42nd Street and Grand. Michael’s eyebrow rises as he studies the map. A moment later he leaves.

“Thank you,” Birkhoff sarcastically calls after him as he clicks the delete key and the screen disappears.

The sound of the sliding doors interrupts Nikita’s conversation with Ivan. She hopes it’s Anton Churnovic but to her dismay, it’s the Butler.

“Lunch, Mr. Churnovic,” the Butler calls out.

“Wonderful” he says as he stands. “Ms. Evers.”

“Please call me Jennifer,” she says.

“Of course,” he adds and holds out his arm to guide her to the dining room. As they walk, Nikita continues the conversation.

“Will your father be joining us?” she asks.

“I’m afraid not,” Ivan say as he guides her through the open doors of the massive dining room. At the far end of a long table are two place settings. Ivan continues toward the end of the table and then pulls out the chair for Nikita. She sits in front of the place setting to the right of the head of the table. That’s where Ivan sits.

“I hope you like Salmon,” Ivan adds. Nikita is a vegetarian but she knows Jennifer Evers is not.
“I love it,” she says confidently.

“Good,” Ivan replies.

They begin to eat.

“I have to tell you, Jennifer. I loved your story on the Chilean mine workers rescue,” he added.

“Thank you,” Nikita offers between bites. “Incredible story.

“It must be difficult to move from a story such as that to one about a simple Russian entrepreneur,” Ivan says.

“I wouldn’t exactly call your father simple,” she says.

“I like you Jennifer,” Ivan adds. Nikita wonders where he’s taking the conversation but gives him a smile.

The ringer on her cell phone startles her. She fishes in her purse to pull it out. A text message.

“Excuse me for one moment,” she says to Ivan.

“Of course,” he adds, cautiously watching her.

Nikita opens the message from Michael.

Anton Churnovic is dead.

Nikita tries to keep her composure.

“Anything wrong?” Ivan asks.

“They’re changing my deadline. That’s all. I need this story written by the end of the week now,” Nikita offers.

“That does change things,” Ivan says as he stands from his chair and walks over to an antique sideboard running alongside one of the dining room walls. He opens the top drawer and pulls out a 9mm Luger and turns to Nikita.

Nikita abruptly stands pushing out her chair as she does.

“Nice gun,” Nikita says.

“I suspect you have one to,” he questions her.

“Not as nice as yours,” she says.

“Of course not,” he counters. “I’m an arms dealer, remember? Put it on the table, please.”
Nikita removes her gun from the back of her skirt waistband and places it on the table.

“Hands where I can see them, please,” he adds.

Nikita raises her hands just slightly.

“How long has your father been dead?” she presses.

“I thought that text might have included some interesting information, Nikita,” he fires back at her. Nikita’s head is swirling with all the events unfolding in front of her. She’s past Plan B and well into Plan G or H at this point. She slowly reaches up and pulls off her wig, letting her hair fall down her back.

“Nice,” Ivan comments.

“Why a bounty on me? I don’t even know you or your father,” she says.

“Since the day my father died two months ago, I’ve had two goals. Keeping his death a secret from the world and killing you,” he offers. “Thankfully, I will be able to achieve the most important of those goals today.” Nikita takes a step backward.

“You won’t be leaving this house alive,” he adds.

“Kolzak. Matvei,” Ivan hollers over his shoulder. Two men carrying Heckler assault rifles burst into the room behind Ivan.

“Take her,” Ivan orders. The two men slowly move closer to Nikita. She begins to back up but stops when she hears a door behind her open and quickly close. She’s assuming more goons have now positioned themselves behind her.

Percy hangs up the phone, a smile on his face. His call with Fouad Eidelberg from Mossad went well. The Israel intelligence agency often lines Percy’s pocket when Division assists with some of Mossad’s more unpopular jobs. Those potentially messy jobs that leave dirt on the hands. Percy is more than happy to support Mossad’s needs for the right price. He leaves his office and takes the half flight of stairs down to Operations. He looks at the assortment of screens before him and then calls out to Birkhoff.

“Where’s Michael?” he asks.

Birkhoff turns to Percy, pulls off his headset and looks at the screens.

“He was here just a minute ago,” Birkhoff offers. Percy looks frustrated.

“Tell him I need when he comes back” Percy adds.

“Will do,” Birkhoff says.

Nikita is surprised that Ivan hasn’t just killed her. Instead, she’s enjoying the limited comforts of what appears to be a series of cells constructed in the basement of the mansion. This could be just leftover from the days of KGB dominance but it’s hard to tell.

From her cell, she looks around the dark room for any mode of escape or for any type of makeshift weapon, but there is none. She’s in real trouble. She sits down on a wooden bench which is the only piece of furniture in the small cell. She leans back against the bars and thinks about her options. The sound of silence is almost painful. Her thoughts of survival and her memories of the past mingle and her mind turns hazy as she falls asleep.

The sound of the door to the basement swinging open and closing startles Nikita from her sleep. She had been in the middle of a dream.

In her dream, she was alone in her room at Division. She had just failed her interrogation test. She’d refused to use negative incentives to secure information from the prisoner. She also failed to notice he had loosened his restraints. The chair he threw at her crashed onto her back and face. It was a painful lesson and she had a cut across her face to prove it.

Alone in her dark Division quarters, she was lying on her bed, tears falling down her face. Suddenly, the door opened and light from the hallway flooded her room. The shadow of Michael stood in the doorway. He turned on the light switch and walked in.

“You sleeping?” he asked.

Nikita quickly sat up opposite the doorway and wiped the tears from her face. Michael walked over to her bed.

“What’s new?” he asked. Nikita gave him a sarcastic chuckle.

“Nothing. What’s new with you?” she mumbled keeping her face turned away from him. He walked over next to her and stooped down. He grabbed her by the chin and turned her face to the side exposing the nasty cut on her right cheek. The dark dry crusty blood made the cut look worse but Nikita didn’t care. She pulled back, yanking her chin from his grasp.

“I’m really in the mood for visitors right now,” she snapped at him.

Michael sat next to her on the bed. He pulled first aid supplies out of his pocket. Nikita turned to see what he was doing but remained seated. He tore open a packet with an alcohol towelette and grabbed her face again. He wasn’t very gentle as he began wiping the dried blood from her face.

“Ahhhh,” she moaned from the sting of the liquid as he continued to wipe her face.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” she asked. Michael gave her a half smile.

“You’re attitude about your failure has negatively influenced your decision to seek medical attention,” he coldly told her. Nikita was silent.

He tossed the towelette on the bed and opened another packet. This one contained small stitch like bandages. Then, he pulled out a tube of Super Glue and yanked off the top. He reached over and pulled the skin of her wound tightly together.

“This is going to hurt,” he said as he poured the liquid onto her wound. Nikita started to scream but Michael placed his hand over her mouth. The screams were limited to her throat and she squirmed against the hold he had on her. When the glue was dry, she turned to face him.

“Oh my god, Michael,” she said. He replaced the Super Glue top and reached for a bandage.

“What have we learned today, Nikita?” he asked as he placed the first of three bandages on her wound. Nikita defiantly spoke up.

“That Super Glue stings like a hell.” she said. Michael gave her another half smile and placed another bandage on her face.

“You failed a test,” he said. “Remember. Failure is just practice” and then placed the last bandage on her face.

“There,” he said.

“Why did you bother?” she asked.

“You’re a beautiful woman, Nikita. I’d like to keep it that way,” he said just above a whisper.

Suddenly, Nikita realized their proximity to each other on her bed. The moment turned intimate when she looked up into his eyes, her mouth just inches from his. Michael, too, could feel the heat between them. Something was pulling him into her and all thoughts of Division where suddenly lost. He placed his hand on her face and caressed her cheek with his thumb. Her skin was soft and warm. He wanted to feel her lips. He slowly moved his open mouth toward hers.

It’s 3 a.m. in the Churnovic mansion. Nikita shakes the thoughts of her dream of Michael and focuses on her immediate situation.

“I can’t seem to sleep,” a voice says from the darkness at the bottom of the staircase. It’s Ivan.

“I could hit you over the head,” Nikita shoots back at him.

Ivan laughs as he walks closer to her. He grabs a bucket from a table next to her cell and throws cold water on Nikita.

“What,” she screams as he laughs again.

“I think next time you leave the jokes to me,” he fires back at her. Nikita looks down to see her jacket, blouse, and skirt covered in water.

“You’re going to catch your death,” he says with a huge grin. “See I can be funny too,” he laughs. “I can’t sleep because I’m so excited about having visitors.” It’s fun, no? “

Nikita doesn’t quite feel the same way. She thinks about her training and hopes the things Michael taught her will keep her alive long enough to kill this bastard.

“You never answered my question,” she asks him.

“Refresh my memory?” he asks.

“Why me?” she asks.

“You really don’t know do you?” he asks. “I’m fascinated Percy never told you.”

Percy. Of course he was involved she thinks.

“Told me what?” she asks.

“Do you know much about our parents, Nikita?” Ivan inquires.
“I know my father was a Polish diplomat and my mother a Japanese government official. That’s all,” she answers.

“Not quite,” Ivan says.

“What do you know about my family?” she asks.

“Too much,” Ivan answers. He pulls out a walkie-talkie from his shirt pocket and speaks into the receiver.

“Get down here. I want to start,” Ivan says into the mouth piece. The device crackles with static.

“On our way,” a voice comes through the device. Ivan returns the walkie-talkie to his pocket. He walks over to directly in front of Nikita’s cell.

“Don’t you just love what I’ve done with this place?” he says as he looks about the room his arms held high to acknowledge the space.

“Needs work,” she fires back. She’s tiring of his games.

“It’s modeled after the Tower of London. We just completed the remodel,” he lovingly says. “It’s been waiting just for you.”

“Have you got the right person?” Nikita asks. Ivan lunges at her through the bars.

“I’ve waited 30 years to get my hands on you,” he shouts as he tries to grab her. Nikita scrambles to the back of the cell to avoid even the remote chance that Ivan might reach her. Clearly, he has crossed over into insanity and that scares Nikita.

“Soon I’ll have a rope around that neck of yours and I’ll drag you through the streets of Moscow” he says.

Upstairs, Ivan’s body guards, Kolzak, Matvei, and two other men - Stepan and Lev - wake from their beds in the Servant’s quarters. They dress, grab their weapons, and descend the stairs of the basement. When they arrive, Ivan is in a rage.

“Lights, Matvei,” Ivan shouts at one of his one of his men. Matvei walks to a large grey panel on the wall and pulls the lever up. Light floods the room. Nikita squints as her eyes adjust to the light.

“Bring her out,” Ivan waves them over to the cell. Kolzak unlocks the door and the four men pour into the cell, two with guns drawn. They grab Nikita one on each arm and drag her out of the cell. Nikita doesn’t resist.

“Chair,” Ivan barks. The men move Nikita to an ominous chair stationed in the middle of the room and strap her down. The chair is unique in that it can transform from a sitting position to a full recline with the push of a switch. She shivers from the wetness of her clothes, the dampness of the cellar, and fear.

“Don’t worry,” says Matvei as he finishes strapping her down. “We’ll warm you up”

A black sedan with heavily tinted glass speeds along the dark highway out of Moscow. The tires squeal as the car makes a sudden right turn down a long tree-lined road. The car lights reflect the dust kicked up by the car’s tires. Far in the distance sits an Old Russian mansion. The car slows as it gets closer and kills its headlights.

“Can you at least tell me why you’re doing this?” Nikita begs.

Ivan is agitated and unrecognizable from the man Nikita met just hours before. His face distorted from rage and hate. He’s more animal now than human and Nikita is in awe of how quickly he moves from sanity to insanity and back again.

Ivan walks over to a table behind the chair. Laid out in perfect order are a series of medical and dental tools guaranteed to extract pain when used incorrectly. Nikita can’t see the table or its contents. Ivan picks up a scalpel-like knife with jagged, rusted edges and holds it up to the light.

“We really should clean these tools” he says with a sarcastic laugh. His men laugh too.

“I want to start with the salt,” he says. Kolzak and Matvei put down their weapons and prepare for their master’s request. Kolzak hits a switch and the chair transforms into a table with Nikita now lying in a prone position. She fights against her constraints.

Kolzak says something to the other men in Russian. He doesn’t realizes Nikita speaks Russian and understands that he’s saying she’s pretty and would like to be alone with her before they kill her.

“No,” Ivan fires back. And the conversation ends.

“Restrain her head,” Ivan barks. Lev pulls a Velcro strap from below the table and braces Nikita’s head. Matvei opens a small bottle of white granules and walks over to Nikita.

“Do it slowly,” Ivan orders. Matvei slowly pours a stream of salt into Nikita’s left eye and then her right. She fights against the constraints as tears pour from her eyes.

“Haaaa,” she screams over and over again as she continues to fight. The pain is excruciating. Nikita tries to focus on survival. With every scream she refocuses away from the pain. Her mind is on fire. She remembers what Michael taught her – never give up – and she screams the pain away.

The dark sedan pulls down the long lane to the Churnovic mansion and parks on the side of the road about a half mile from the house. Cloaked in the darkness of the night, a figure emerges from the car and pops the trunk. He pulls out an assortment of weapons and starts to run toward the mansion.

“Why am I here”? Nikita cries, her eyes filled with mounds of crusty salt. “Why?” she screams. Ivan is untouched by her pain.

“My father loved you so much,” he says. “I wish he could see you now.”

“What are you saying?” Nikita cries out.

Ivan turns red with anger. He slaps Nikita hard across the face. The force of the blow causes the salt on her eyes to go flying. Her lip tears open and blood begins to slip from the corner of her mouth.

“Stepan,” Ivan screams. “I want the hose.”

Stepan turns and walks to the wall by the light switch box. He opens another panel to reveal a series of multicolored buttons. He pushes a red button and an alarm sounds in the room. Nikita tries to see but her vision is blurred from the remaining salt mixed with blood that coats her eyes. All she can see is the movement of something ascending from the ceiling. Ivan moves next to her. He grabs the hose as it comes into arms length. He pulls it hard to increase the slack.

“Sit her up,” he calls to Matvei who pushes the switch to return Nikita to an upright position.

“I’m ready,” he calls to Lev. “And, make sure it’s the water and not acid,” he calls out. “I don’t want the fun to end too fast.”

Lev verifies the hose connection at the panel. “We’re good,” he calls back to Ivan in a heavy Russian accent.

Suddenly, a rush for powerful water explodes from the hose. Ivan almost loses his balance from the water’s energy but he regains his composure and quickly points the hose at Nikita. The water feels like a thousand needles plunging into her skins and she screams again.

“Bastard,” she yells but her words are inaudible. Ivan watches as the power of the water rips at her skin and clothes. He continues to spray her for several minutes and then Nikita passes out.

“Make sure she’s still alive,” he barks at Matvei. “I’d hate to see her drown before the real fun begins.” Matvei walks over to Nikita and checks the pulse point in her neck.

“She’s alive,” Matvei says.

“Wonderful,” Ivan gloats. “I’ll give her a half hour to wake up. Then, we’ll begin the electric shock.”

The dark figure arrives at the circular drive of the Churnovic mansion. He checks his surroundings and notices the house is dark from the front. He moves around to the side. Nothing. In the back of the house, he sees a light in a small window on the first floor. He remembers that’s the hallway leading to the Servant’s quarters. He checks his watch. 3:40 a.m. The house should still be asleep.

He pulls off a rope and hook draped over his shoulder and tosses it up to the third floor balcony. The hook catches on the balcony railing. He tugs it several times to test its strength. Then, he scales the wall and climbs onto the balcony. He quietly slips the hook off the railing and pulls the rope up into a uniform circle in the corner of the balcony. There are three carriage doors that open up on the balcony. He’s betting at least one of these will be open.

He slowly moves to the first door and gently pulls the handle down. There is no sound or movement. The first one is locked. He tip toes to the next door and repeats the pattern. Again, there is no sound or movement. His heart begins to beat faster as he slips to the next door and gently pulls down the handle. Again, no sound or movement. All three of the doors are locked.

He then removes a small black clothed case from his vest and rolls it out to display a series of small lock picking instruments. He pulls out two long metal tools and a small pen sized flashlight. He rolls the cloth case up and tucks it back in his vest pocket. He knells down before the door lock and puts the flashlight in his mouth. He points the light at the lock and with his tongue, turns on the lamp. He then inserts the two metal tools into the lock and begins manipulating the tumblers. He is just seconds away from opening the lock when the ceiling light in the room turns on. Instantly, the dark figure lets his tongue slip from the flashlight in his mouth. He freezes behind the seam of the two double doors. The figure silently watches as a man enters the room and walks across to a wall of doors on the far side. He walks through the doors but doesn’t turn on any other lights. The man in his late thirties is well dressed and clean shaven.

After a few moments, the man comes back into the room, turns off the light, and leaves. The dark figure on the balcony begins his work again and finally picks the balcony door lock. He gently opens the door and enters the room.

He turns his head and moves the flashlight around the room but sees nothing out of the ordinary. It’s a large room with a king size bed and small conversation area that includes two couches and two chairs. One wall is all wooden double doors opening up to what looks like might be a study or perhaps a large closet.

The figure moves quietly to one of the doors and gently turns the handle. The door opens inward. For a moment, the man can’t see even with the flashlight. As he moves deeper into the room, he gasps and drops the flashlight. Quickly, he recovers the light and returns it to his mouth. Then he lets it rest on the vision of a body outstretched on a table encased in what appears to be glass. He moves closer and gazes at the face. It’s Anton Churnovic.

The door opens to the basement and Ivan bounds down the stairs. The men are dozing and quickly jump up in response to Ivan’s return. Nikita is awake now. Her eyes are recovering and her eyesight is almost back to normal. There had been some advantage to the water torture she thought.

“Let’s begin again,” Ivan barks as he takes the last stair step and walks over to Nikita. Kolzak, Matvei, Stepan and Lev await his orders.

“Ah, I see she’s awake,” he mentions. “Get her ready.”

Nikita braces herself for the next round of attacks. Stepan and Lev strap a series of wires to Nikita’s arms, legs, and feet. She squirms against her restraints to resist their mission but it’s no use. They successfully prepare her for the electric shock.

“You look so much like your mother,” Ivan adds.

“My mother’s dead,” Nikita says.

“I know. I killed her,” Ivan offers. “Tomorrow at this time, you’ll be dead too.”

Nikita admires his tenacity at psychological torture. He is a master at increasing his subject’s primal fear while continuing to apply physical pain.

Kolzak hands Ivan a wireless control box. “Ready,” he says to Ivan.

Ivan walks over to Nikita and bends down to whisper in her ear.

“You’re mother was my father’s whore, you know,” Ivan says and abruptly stands.
“How do you think that made my mother feel?” he shouts and his voice echoes off the walls of the chamber.

Nikita looks confused. She knows very little of her parent’s history. Nikita was given up as an infant. What she did know were bits and pieces of information she had gleaned from Percy and from the Internet.

Ivan turns back to Nikita. “My mother killed herself. She was disgraced in her own home and country” Ivan says.

“Let’s see if you can feel the same pain as my mother. So much paid you will take your own life,” Ivan calls to her. He pushes a button on the device and Nikita screams.

“Ahhhh,” Nikita yells. Sweat begins to pop out on her face and tears explode from her eyes.

The dark figure continues to survey the body of Anton Churnovic. He’s perfectly preserved and dressed in a black suit and light blue tie. He notices Anton’s hands folded at his chest. He is clutching the picture of the same man that was just in the room moments earlier. The dark figure goes back and shuts the door to this macabre sanctuary. He flips on the light switch. It’s Michael. He turns to look again at the vision of Anton lying out before him. It’s surreal.

Michael is completely dressed in black. Even his hands and face are covered with a black soot-like residue that doesn’t reflect light. He leans down and peels off the many tools and weapons he brought. Then, he picks up his Glock 27 and a silencer and attaches the device. He stands and quickly pulls off his vest. He tucks a Glock 23 in the back of his waistband. He takes an assortment of other weapons and devices from his vest and tucks them in his pockets. Time to take down this house.

He holds out bracing his gun with both hands. He turns off the light in the room and opens the door. He’s back in the bedroom. He slips out the main bedroom door and out into the third floor hallway.

He knows from his study of the mansion’s blue prints that the third floor is only bedrooms. Nikita could be anywhere at this point so he begins by securing each of the 5 remaining rooms on that floor. The first room down the hallway has sliding doors. Michael holds his gun steady as he slowing slides the door open. The room is dark. He slips through and disappears inside. Seconds later he emerges. He closes the door. Another room secured. He continues down the hallway and enters each room. Nothing. He has one last door on this floor.

He enters the room. Its small compared to the other rooms maybe 15 feet by 19 feet. There are no windows in this room and the darkness is intense. Michael must wait for his eyes to adjust to the difference between the dark room and the small amount of light streaming from the hallway. Poised in a defensive position, he is startled as his vision improves. He quickly circles the room, his gun cocked and ready to fire. He can’t believe his eyes. The walls and ceiling of the room are covered in pictures, posters, and news articles -- all of Nikita. He quickly closes the door and fumbles on the wall for a light switch. Suddenly, light fills the room. Michael stands there in awe. Hundreds of pictures of Nikita’s life from infancy to just weeks ago. He sees clippings of stories he is unfamiliar with but assumes they pertain somehow to Nikita’s life. More than half of the pictures in the room have been mutilated. Clearly, this shrine has been created by a person on the brink of insanity. Michael has to find her and now.

Ivan is shocked at her ability to survive such pain. He’s shooting her with 50,000 volts and she’s still conscious. He admires her and that makes him hate her even more.

“You’re ability to impress me won’t mean your survival,” he casually says. “I impress easily.”

Nikita is close to blacking out. With all her strength she’s fighting to keep her wits about her.

“Tell me how you killed my mother,” she fires back at him.

“Bullet to the head,” he says. “But I showed her too much mercy. I should’ve prolonged her death like with you.”

With that, Ivan turns up the voltage and switches the device on again. Nikita barely cries out this time. She is close to losing consciousness. She fights the sensation with all her strength knowing that if she blacks out she will surely die.

“Matvei, I tire of her tenacity. I think I do want the acid drip. Get it ready,” Ivan barks as he watches Nikita slip in and out of consciousness.

Michael has secured the second and third floors and he can’t find Nikita. He fights the fear that he’s too late. He slips down the main staircase leading to the first floor. The house is still dark but the sun is breaking on the horizon. Michael knows the main floor includes a dining room, library, kitchen, pantry and assorted servant’s quarters. He’ll secure the servant’s quarters first.

He walks down the hallway from the kitchen to the servant’s rooms. The first room he enters appears to be a maid’s chamber but it’s empty. Michael’s beginning to think the whole house is deserted with the exception of the man he saw earlier. The one in the picture Anton Churnovic was clutching.

He walks to the next door and reaches for the door knob. Suddenly, he hears the rustling of feet from behind the door. He backs up into a defensive stance, his finger on the trigger of his gun. The door opens and the Butler walks out into the hallway.

“Huh,” the Butler gasps. He clutches his chest when he sees Michael. Michael rushes him back into the room. They fall back onto a bed. Michael grabs the man’s collar and holds the gun to his head.

“Quiet, ole’ man,” Michael warns.

“Please don’t hurt me,” the Butler begs. Michael pulls tighter on the man’s collar.

“I want to know where the woman is that came to visit Churnovic.” Michael asks. The Butler is scared and takes a moment to gather his wits.

“The blond woman?” he asks. “The reporter?”

“Yes,” Michael says with a sense of urgency.

“She disappeared after lunch. That’s all I know,” the Butler coughed out.

“Is there any where Churnovic could hide her?” Michael asks.

“I don’t know,” the Butler answers. “Maybe one of the bedrooms.”

“Guess again,” Michael continues.

“There’s a cottage close to the road,” he Butler offers.

“Does Churnovic use it for anything?” Michael asks.

“Not really,” the Butler says.

“Anywhere else?” Michael pushes. “Anywhere else in the house?”

“There’s a basement,” the Butler continues, his voice shaking. “But no one ever uses it. I don’t even go down there.”

“There’s no basement on the blue prints of the house,” Michael adds.

“It was an old KGB installation,” the Butler says. “I don’t think it was on the original house plan.”

“How do I get down there?” Michael asks.

“There’s a door off the dining room. But it’s secured. You need a code,” the Butler adds.

“And you don’t know it do you”? Michael guesses.

“No. I’m sorry,” the Butler said sincerely.

“Is there anyone else in the house besides you and Churnovic?” Michael questions.

“Since Mr. Churnovic died his son let all the staff go except me and his personal body guards” the Butler adds.

“How many?” Michael asks.

“Four,” the Butler says.

“All right,” Michael says as he stands the man on his feet. “I’m going to cause a little chaos so I recommend you get out now,” Michael says.

The Butler heads out the bedroom door and into the hallway. Michael is fast behind him. They both enter the open kitchen and the Butler turns to Michael.

“I don’t know how you’re going to get down there but there’s the door to the cellar,” the Butler says as he points to a wall panel off the dining room. Then, the Butler runs out a set of double doors leading to an outside patio and disappears into the early morning light.

Michael studies the door to the cellar and sees it’s flush to the wall and opens out into the dining room. He makes a quick plan and puts it into action. He pulls 3 small explosive devices from his pocket and sets them to detonate in sixty seconds. He runs into the main hallway and tosses one device into the library, one on the main staircase, and one into the hallway leading to the servant’s quarters. Then, he runs back to the dining room, positions himself by the door and waits.

Ivan has finished with shocking Nikita and is about to begin dripping acid into her throat.

“Move her to the floor,” Ivan yells to Matvei. Matvei removes the straps on Nikita’s arms and wrists. But before he can remove the straps on her legs and ankles, the house above them shakes with a tremendous force and Ivan and his men are knocked to the ground.

“What?” Kolzak said. He is the first of Ivan’s men to gather his wits. He grabs the gun he dropped and gets back on his feet.

“Someone’s upstairs. You two check it out,” Ivan calls to Kolzak and Lev. They bound up the stairs and open the door to the dining room.

Nikita is now semi-conscious. She’s aware that something has happen but she’s not sure what. She pretends to be unconscious hoping Ivan will ignore her while his men deal with whatever has happen on the main floor of the house.
Kolzak opens the door into the dining room, his gun drawn. Michael comes from behind the door and point blank shoots Kolzak in the chest. Kolzak falls back toward the doorway. Lev sees Kolzak being shot. He steps over his fallen comrade and turns and fires at Michael hitting him in the upper right chest. Michael fights the pain and lunges at the barrel of Lev’s Heckler. He smashes the butt of the sub machine gun into Lev’s head knocking him out.

Luckily, Kolzak’s body blocked the door from shutting and Michael is able to pull it open. He hits the ground on the basement stair landing and begins shooting at Ivan’s two remaining body guards. Matvei and Stepan return fire. Michael kills both in rapid succession.

“Drop your weapon or I’ll kill her,” Ivan says. He had taken refuge on the floor behind Nikita. Now, he stands, a gun to her head. Michael surveys the situation. He sees Nikita. She’s been tortured and is now unconscious. Her eyes are red and bloody. Her blouse is torn exposing her bra and her skirt is shredded. Her arms and legs are covered with ugly red whelps leftover from what he assumes is electric shock.

“Drop it and walk down the stairs,” Ivan repeats. Michael does as he’s instructed. He stands, tosses his Glock 27 on the landing and walks slowly down the stairs. As he does, he takes note of his surroundings. Churnovic has created a torture chamber in his basement complete with holding cells and various types of torture. Michael steps onto the basement floor and moves just in front of Ivan and Nikita.

“Hands where I can see them,” Ivan barks at him as he takes a few steps away from Nikita toward Michael. Michael glances at Nikita. She quickly lifts her head and arms and looks at Michael. Then she bows her head back down, pretending to be unconscious again. Michael takes a few steps backward and Ivan takes a few steps toward him.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” Michael says in an attempt to draw him into conversation.

“Thank you,” Ivan says. “It serves its purpose.” Michael takes a few steps to his left and Ivan circles around him.

“So why Nikita?” Michael asks.

“Why not?” he says.

“I’ve been upstairs,” Michael adds. “You definitely have issues.”

“I don’t think you’re in a position to criticize my motives,” Ivan barks.

“Perhaps,” Michael says and he continues to move closer to Nikita. Ivan mirrors his movements as Michael circles around to come between Ivan and Nikita. “At least let me know what I’m dying for.”

“Justice, my friend,” Ivan continues. “I seek justice for my mother.”

Michael is now just a few steps from Nikita.

“Do you think killing us will bring you peace?” Michael asks as he takes the final steps placing himself between Ivan and Nikita, his back to her.

“I’m not looking for peace,” Ivan offers. “I’m looking for ….”

Suddenly, Nikita grabs the gun tucked into the back of Michael’s pants. Michael drops and Nikita fires. The bullet hits Ivan right between the eyes. As if in slow motion, he drops to his knees and then falls face down on the floor. Seconds pass. Michael turns to Nikita who is staring at Ivan, her gun still points straight ahead. Then, Michael pulls a syringe from his pocket and turns to Nikita.

“Michael,” is all she can say as she drops the gun and falls back into the chair.

“I need to get you out of here,” he says as he pulls the cap off the needle and grabs her arm.

“What’s …” her voice begins to trail off and she collapses forward. Michael inserts the needle full of adrenaline and pushes in the plunger. He then pulls the needle from her arm and tosses it to the floor. She begins to come around as he removes the restraints from her legs and ankles. Awake now, Nikita tries to stand but falls into Michael’s arms.

“Come on, Nikita,” he says to her as he gently slaps her cheeks to revive her. “I can’t do this alone. I need your help.”

“I need to go,” Nikita says as she takes a few steps away from the chair.

“Yes, you need to go. Come on,” Michael tells her. He quickly guides her up the stairs and out of the house.

Percy is furious when he sees Michael drag Mark into the Division training room. He comes rushing into the training area to confront Michael.

“Michael, wonderful to see you. It would be nice if you would let us know when you’re taking a day off,” Percy snaps at him. He gets a closer look at Mark who is still covered with contusions and bruises.

“I had a little family business to take care of,” Michael fires back.

“I can see that,” Percy remarks as he walks over to greet Mark. “You’ve looked better, Mark. Did Michael do this to you?”

“My cat scratched me,” Mark says. Percy gives him a critical eye.

“I’ve persuaded him to give up mercenary work in favor of a job at Starbucks,” Michael adds.

“Wonderful. I’ll have a double mocha latte, please,” Percy says as he walks away.

Michael smiles. Percy turns back to them.

“Oh, Michael, I’ve got a little job for you now that you’re back from your family reunion.”

Michael watches as Percy turns and walks back to his office.

Nikita walks down the stairs of her safe house. Her hair is wrapped in a towel. Her sports bra and yoga pants are wet and cling to his skin. Her arms are covered with distinct burn marks. She walks over to her computer and begins typing. Just then, her phone rings signally a text message. She picks up the phone and clicks to open the text. It’s from Michael.

Want to come back to Division now?

Nikita stares at the message for a moment and. Then her laugh gives way to tears.
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Re: Nikita: One and None

Postby Lockes disciple on Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:09 pm

Just wanted to "publicly" give this story two-thumbs up, GirlTalk. :rockon:

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