"From the End to the Beginning"
formerly "Forced Acquisition"

(August 2001)

All original material  © 2001, Jason Manning

Readers' Reviews & Comments

Nikita's position as the new head of Section One depends on
a mission to rescue diplomats held by revolutionaries -- and on
stopping a betrayal of Section by someone on the inside.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni, at night...
A team of five black-clad Section One operatives is engaged in a fierce firefight with hostiles, who are arrayed at the windows and along the rooftops of an abandoned missionary school. Muzzleflash lights up the night. One operative tries to move to better cover, leaving a low stone wall extending across the front of the school, running towards an old van parked closer to the main building. He is gunned down, and, severely wounded, starts to crawl. Seeing this, MENDEZ, the team leader, leaves the wall, trying to reach the wounded man. Bullets stitch the ground in front of him. More strike the wounded man, killing him. Mendez dives back behind the wall.
MENDEZ (via comm link): Quinn! We're pinned. Under heavy fire. I've got ops down. (He ducks as more bullets strike the top of the wall just above his head.) Damn it!

Section One - Communications...
Quinn is sitting in her bay, watching the monitors above her, listening to the gunfire in Sierra Leone through her comm set's earpiece.
QUINN (via comm link): Hold on, Mendez. Backup team, Contingency Seven. First Team is pinned.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni...
Another team of Section operatives, four in number, are crouched in a ditch running along a narrow dirt road , at the corner of the school property. The operative in front, JASMINE KWONG, peers down the road; she can't see First Team, but she can see all the muzzleflash and tracers, and she's concerned.
KWONG (to Quinn, via comm link): Contingency Seven, understood. We're on it.
MENDEZ (listening to Quinn and Kwong via the comm link): Forget that! There's no way we can do this. There are too many of them. We're at abort condition.

Section One - Communications...
Quinn raises an eyebrow, brushes her hair back, and looks across the Common Area at The Perch. She can see Nikita standing there, alone. She keys open an internal line.
QUINN: Mendez wants to abort the ...

Section One - The Perch...
Nikita has the mission frequencies open; she can hear the gunfire.
NIKITA: I heard him. Mendez, you will not abort this mission. We have to get the hostages out.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni...
MENDEZ (shouting above the din of battle): No way. It's suicide. I won't sacrifice my entire team.
VOICE OF NIKITA (via comm link): Kwong, proceed.
Hearing this, Kwong gives her team a curt nod. They leave the ditch at a run, crossing the road to the low perimeter wall, shooting as they go. One hostile is hit and tumbles off the roof. A Section operative is wounded in the leg, goes down. A second goes back to help him, and takes a bullet in the shoulder as the two reach the wall, where Kwong and the fourth operative are crouched.
KWONG (via comm link, breathless, her voice registering disappointment): We're at Point Two. Two ops hit.
MENDEZ (hearing this via his comm link): You see? We don't stand a chance.
KWONG (via comm link): We might. (She fires a burst from her Heckler & Koch MP5KA4 over the wall -- and receives a furious return fire, dozens of bullets striking the wall.) Okay, maybe not.
MENDEZ (angrily): We're done here! Damn it, Quinn. Abort condition. Where's my approval?

Section One - Communications...
QUINN (via comm link): Stand by, First Team.
VOICE OF MENDEZ (via comm link): We're pulling out.
Again Quinn glances up at The Perch, a faint smile on her lips.

Section One - The Perch...
Disgusted, Nikita keys the mission frequencies off. The sound of gunfire ceases abruptly.
NIKITA (to Quinn, via internal comm): Abort the mission.
Closing the internal line, she heaves a deep sigh, turning her back on the windows overlooking the Common Area She folds her arms, and glances around The Perch with an I-don't-want-to-be-here look on her face.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni...
Mendez reaches out to hit the nearest op on the shoulder; when he has the man's attention he points, then raises three fingers, and points back the way they came. The op nods, gets the attention of the other two team members crouched further down the wall. They make a break for it, firing as they run, heading through some trees for the road. Mendez brings up the rear, firing his H&K MP5KA4 at the school. A hostile in the one of the windows cries out and falls back. Mendez turns in time to see another member of his team go down. He kneels briefly beside the body, checking the neck for a pulse. Finding none, and with bullets ripping up the ground around him, he keeps moving. Eighty yards up the road, Kwong and the backup team leave the wall, with Kwong providing covering fire until the others can reach the ditch. She dives in after them. They move along the ditch until they are out of range, then slip into thick jungle growth. Donning PVS-7 night vision goggles, they illuminate their way with flashlights mounted with IR-200 infrared filters.
KWONG (via comm link): Quinn, are we clear?

Section One - Communications...
Quinn's fingers fly over her keyboard as she brings up a satellite thermal imaging scan of the sector, overlaying it onto the tracking grid that shows the location of the two teams.
QUINN (via comm link): No pursuit is indicated.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni...
Kwong and her team make their way through the brush until they arrive at a pair of black Land Rovers. Mendez and the two remaining members of his team arrive at virtually the same moment. Mendez is fuming.
MENDEZ (to Kwong, and removing his PVS-7 goggles as the other operatives pile into the Land Rovers): Well, that was brilliant!
KWONG: The sims indicated a 48 percent success rate...
MENDEZ: To hell with the sims. This is the real thing. The intel was incomplete and...
KWONG: It was the best we could get, under the circumstances. This is Sierra Leone, you know.
MENDEZ (sarcastically): Right.
With thumb and forefinger he touches the collar of the black pullover he's wearing under his flak jacket, shutting off his comm unit transmitter. Kwong reluctantly does likewise.
MENDEZ: Too bad we're not all named Michael Samuelle. We're just mortals, after all. I'm sure Michael could have pulled off a miracle and rescued those hostages. (Disgusted, he throws his H&P into the first Land Rover and climbs in behind the wheel.) Let's get to the LZ. All hell is about to break loose around here.
KWONG (standing beside the first Land Rover): And what about the hostages?
MENDEZ: It's simple. The UN releases Sankoh, the hostages are freed.
KWONG: Then the RUF wins.
MENDEZ: So be it. The next time there's a suicide mission, let them send abeyance ops. (His tone turns sarcastic again.) Oh, wait, I forgot. We don't have abeyance ops, anymore.
KWONG: And I, for one, am glad.
MENDEZ (checking to see that his team is loaded up, and starting the Land Rover): I know you're one of Nikita's great admirers. She trained you, didn't she? That's fine. Just don't try to sell me on the idea that she can run Section. I know better.
He puts the Land Rover in gear and roars off down the road. Kwong shakes her head and gets into the second Land Rover, nods to the op behind the wheel, who takes off after the first vehicle.

Section One - The Perch...
Walter arrives, pausing on the threshold when he sees Nikita standing, hands clasped behind her, gazing at the global "hotspot" monitor. His expression is one of sympathy -- and is replaced by one that's very business-like as she senses him, and turns.
NIKITA: Hello, Walter. What have you got for me?
WALTER (walking towards her, holding out a mini-disk): The Makeni mission tapes.
Wearing a forced smile, Nikita nods and takes the disk.
WALTER: Um, absent the debriefs, of course. ETA for the teams is two hours.
NIKITA (stiffly): What's left of them, you mean.
WALTER: Hey now, no one expects the home team to win every game.
NIKITA (sternly, as her gaze is drawn back to the hotspots monitor): This is no game, Walter.
WALTER: No, you're right. It isn't. Well, I better get back. (He heads for the door, pausing at the threshold again.) You know, you can do this.
NIKITA (looking at him): Can I?
WALTER: Absolutely. Hey, have I ever lied to you?
NIKITA: I think you're the only one who never has.
VOICE OF QUINN (via internal comm): Jonathan Soto online from Center.
NIKITA: Allright.
She glances apologetically at Walter, who raises both hands and leaves. An instant later, Soto's gaunt face, with it's hollow cheeks and thin, bloodless lips, appears on one of the wall monitors.
SOTO: I hear we dropped the ball in Sierra Leone.
NIKITA: You mean I dropped the ball.
SOTO: Yes, that's what I mean. The UN and several friendly nations were depending on us.
NIKITA: I know.
SOTO: Our analysis indicates you might have succeeded with more personnel onsite.
NIKITA: To send any more would have elevated the exposure risk to an unacceptable level.
SOTO (with a thin smile): I'm not trying to second-guess you...
NIKITA (skeptically): Really.
SOTO: ...any more than I would think of second-guessing your father. I knew him for many years, and learned to respect his judgment.
NIKITA: I only knew him for a few days, so you have an advantage over me.
SOTO: Section One's mission success ratio remains fairly high, though I must admit I think it's due in large measure to the fact that The Collective has been quiescent for the past six months. With Graff and Alain dead, it's taking the new leadership some time to consolidate its power.
NIKITA: We'll be ready.
SOTO: Will you now. You've made a number of changes in Section One, Nikita -- some of them ill-advised, in my opinion. But time will tell. You thought your predecessor's regime was too ruthless. Yet there's something to be said for Paul's brand of ruthless efficiency. You tend to forget that your operatives are expendable. They are, in a sense, already dead. You give them too much leeway. They are not your friends, Nikita. They are your material. Extend a hand to such people and they will likely cut it off.
NIKITA (deadpan): Thanks for the advice.
SOTO: Don't mention it. As for Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front has issued a new deadline for the release of Foday Sankoh. One week. That's how long you have to free those hostages. I don't need to remind you that these are very important people that the RUF has seized. High-ranking diplomats from three friendly nations. Extract them.
NIKITA: They will be.
SOTO: I'm sure. One more thing. I see you still haven't selected an executive strategist. Consequently, I am exercising my authority to assign someone to fill that post. Pro tempore, naturally. Who knows, you may want to keep her.
NIKITA: Somehow I doubt it.
SOTO (wagging a finger): Now, now. We mustn't be so quick to judge. She will not be my mole in Section, if that's what you're thinking. No, I believe you'll find her quite...helpful. Keep me posted on Sierra Leone.
Soto's cadaverous image fades from the monitor.

The Center...
Jonathan Soto turns away from the wall-mounted terminal and crosses a bright, cavernous room, empty but for a glass desk and several chairs. Seating himself behind the desk, Soto flicks a piece of lint off the label of his impeccable Savile Row suit before looking at the young woman sitting in a chair across from him.
SOTO: Well then, Michelle. You're off to Section. But you don't look pleased. That's where you want to be, isn't it?
MICHELLE: Why do you allow her to remain?
SOTO: I can't simple go in and remove her without a very good reason. Your father installed her with certain safeguards. You must be patient, my dear.
MICHELLE: She'll ruin Section.
SOTO: If so, when the time comes you'll simply have to repair it.
Michelle rises from the chair, sits on the edge of the desk and crosses her legs. Soto can't help but be distracted by the way the black sheath dress climbs up her thighs.
MICHELLE (in a seductive voice, as she reaches out to trace his jawline with her fingertips): You're going to miss me, aren't you.
SOTO (clears his throat): Yes. But I'll muddle through.

Section One - Van access...
Nikita is waiting as Mendez and Kwong arrive with their teams. Med-techs are wheeling two of Kwong's team through on gurneys. Nikita watches the wounded go by with regret on her face. But her expression hardens as she turns to face Mendez, who waits, with Kwong, while the other operatives disperse.
NIKITA: What happened out there?
MENDEZ: Bad intel. A faulty profile. Deployment was off. We went critical as soon as we took out the sentries.
NIKITA (nodding slowly): I see. Bad intel. Bad profile. But not bad execution.
MENDEZ: If you don't like the job I do you could put me in abeyance. Or cancel me.
Nikita glances at Kwong, recognizes the worried look on Kwong's face.
NIKITA (to Mendez): No. I'm sending you back to Sierra Leone. You're going to get those people out, Mendez. Or die trying.
Mendez glares at her, then walks away. Nikita turns to go.
KWONG: I want to go back, too.
NIKITA: You like him.
KWONG (embarrassed): He's very good. (Blushing) I mean, as an operative.
NIKITA (suppressing a smile): He's Class-5. He's supposed to be good.
KWONG: It's just that...well, he admired Operations. As far as he's concerned, no one could fill Operations' shoes. And he...he thinks you betrayed Section.
NIKITA: What do you think?
KWONG (picking her words carefully): I think I know what you're trying to do. Before, we all risked our lives out of fear of what would happen to us if we failed. You want us to risk our lives because we believe in the cause we're fighting for.
NIKITA: Something like that.
KWONG: Most of the people recruited into Section are criminals. They're not interested in causes, other than their own.
NIKITA: You weren't a criminal. You were a victim.
KWONG: So were you.
NIKITA: Those hostages in Sierra Leone...
KWONG: Are victims, too. That's why I want to go back.
NIKITA (smiling): Is that the only reason?
KWONG (looking down the corridor in the direction Mendez has gone): No.
NIKITA (putting a hand on Kwong's shoulder): Romance inside Section. It's a killer, Jasmine.
KWONG (resigned): I know.

Section One - Communications...
Quinn and an entire shift are hard at work. Perturbed, Quinn removes a disk from a reader and takes it to a work station where Dori is sitting.
QUINN: I need a Fourier transform on these satellite images from the Lebanon mission.
DORI: I'll get to it in a minute.
QUINN: You'll get to it now.
DORI (snatching the disk out of Quinn's hand): Fine.
QUINN: You know, I liked you better when you'd been modified.
DORI: I've never liked you.
Quinn just shakes her head and returns to her bay. Once she's gone, Dori takes a look around to see if anyone else is approaching, then keys up an image on her monitor. The image is of a handsome, dark-haired man named Jean-Baptiste Serrett.
DORI (smiling): There you are, darling. Aren't you going to be surprised!

Paris - The Rive Gauche (Left Bank)...
Dori steps off a Metro bus and into the crowd on the busy sidewalk of Boulevard St. Germain. She looks like a street kid, wearing a bulky parka and baggy jeans. Her hair is captured beneath a baseball cap. She's wearing sunglasses, and chewing gum. No one pays her much attention. She moves with the human current until she's opposite the sidewalk cafe of Les Deux Magots. The tables are crowded, but she spots the man she's looking for in the shade of the green and white awning. Taking another long look around, she crosses the street and sits down at the man's table. Jean-Baptiste Serrett looks up from an edition of Le Monde.
SERRETT: Puis je vous aide?
DORI (giggles): You don't recognize me!
SERRETT (putting the paper down and peering at her): Dori?
DORI (taking off her sunglasses): Hello Jean-Baptiste. Missed me?
SERRETT (smiling fondly at her, and shaking his head): I never thought I would see you again. What has happened to you? Where have you been? (He leans over the table and whispers.) You realize the police are still looking for you. They think you may have murdered your brother.
DORI: I didn't kill Damien. Section One did.
SERRETT: Section One?
A waiter arrives. Dori quickly dons her sunglasses and looks away.
SERRETT: Un menthe un l'eau pour mon ami, s'il vous plaît.
With a nod -- and a look down his nose at Dori -- the waiter leaves. Dori sheds her sunglasses and leans over the table.
DORI: Section One is a covert anti-terrorist organization. They're the ones who killed Damien. He was...linked to a terrorist group. Section wanted to interrogate him, but he put up a fight, and he was shot. I happened to witness it, and they kidnapped me. I've been held ever since.
DORI: I tried to escape, but they caught me. Then Madeline modified me. The bitch.
SERRETT: Modified you?
DORI: Yes. Brainwashed. Mind control. Called the Gelman Process.
SERRETT: Gelman? Ross Gelman, the neurobiologist? He simply disappeared, and then they found him, dead, on a park bench in Stockholm about two years ago. Shot, at long range, as I recall.
DORI: How do you know all this?
SERRETT: Crime is what I write about. You know that. It stuck in my mind, because it seemed to me to be a professional hit.
DORI: Section One killed him. They'll kill anyone who threatens them.
SERRETT: Then how is it that you're here, telling me these things?
DORI: There's been a change of leadership at Section. I was deprogrammed. They even removed the cesium crystal...
SERRETT: What's a cesium crystal?
DORI: Allows them to geotrack their operatives. (She stares at him for a moment.) You don't believe me. I can see it in your eyes. You think I'm making this up. (She puts her hand on his.) I would never lie to you, Jean-Baptiste. Not after everything we meant to each other...
Serrett puts his other hand on tops of hers, and Dori smiles, relieved -- until he gently places her hand back on the table.
SERRETT: As to that...I'm getting married in a few weeks, Dori.
DORI (stunned): Married? But...what about us?
SERRETT: Dori, you vanished from the face of the earth. Don't you think I searched for you? I have many resources. No one could find a trace. I had to come to terms with the likelihood that you were dead. But, Dori, even when we were together, neither of us thought about marriage. It wasn't like that.
DORI: Hmm. Apparently you think differently now. Is it someone I know?
SERRETT: No. Her father is, um, very high up in the Defense Ministry.
DORI (bitterly): How nice for you. I'd love to hear all about her, but I don't have the time. I've been away too long, as it is. There's a disk attached to the bottom of this table. I think you'll find the contents very interesting. (She starts to rise.)
SERRETT: What do you want me to do?
DORI: Section One is full of criminals, Jean-Baptiste. If you only knew! Bring them down by telling the world what they do.
SERRETT: You seek revenge for your brother's death. That's it, isn't it? How do I find you again?
DORI: I'll find you.
She leaves, melting into the crowd on the sidewalk. Serrett feels under the table, finds the disk, and looks at it. Then he looks around, and slides the disk into his copy of Le Monde.

Section One - The Perch...
When Michelle enters the Perch she finds Nikita at a wall terminal, reviewing what appears to be a mission profile. Her back is to Michelle, who clears her throat to make her presence known.
NIKITA: A moment.
Michelle smiles wryly, takes the liberty of entering and going to the windows to gaze down at the activity in the Common Area and, across the way, Communications and Systems. Nikita turns.
MIKITA: Welcome to Section.
MICHELLE: Don't you think Father would be proud?
NIKITA: I suppose. (She studies Michelle.) So you're really my sister?
MICHELLE: Half-sister, actually.When I was two years old Father had what they used to call, in polite society, an "indiscretion."
NIKITA (with a wry smile of her own): An affair with my mother.
MICHELLE: More than that. Our poor father always wanted a son. After I was born my mother couldn't have any more children. In fact, her health deteriorated steadily...and she died a few years later.
NIKITA: I'm curious. Are you justifying what he did?
MICHELLE: Just explaining why he did it.
NIKITA (dryly): I see. So I was supposed to be the bastard son, instead of the illegitimate daughter, is that it?
MICHELLE (with a frosty smile): Something like that.
NIKITA: Would you care to see your office?
MICHELLE: Certainly.
They leave the Perch, traverse a stairwell by way of a catwalk, to elevator doors. Nikita keys a code into the access panel and the doors open. She gestures for Michelle to enter first, and follows. They stand as far apart as possible in the confines of the elevator as the doors close.
NIKITA: Level five.
ELEVATOR: Voice print recognized.

Section One - Michelle's office...
The door slides open, Nikita and Michelle enter. Nikita stops just inside the door, while Michelle roams.
MICHELLE: This was Madeline's, wasn't it? I've never been here, but I've studied the Section schematics.
NIKITA: Yes. (She looks around the room, assailed by the memories.) This was Madeline's office. (Noticing that Michelle has stopped to study an empty wall alcove bathed in bright flourescent light.) We can get you a plant or two, if you like.
MICHELLE: I'm not Madeline.
NIKITA (nodding): Good.
MICHELLE: You didn't care for her.
NIKITA: Or she for me.
MICHELLE: You should have heard some of the nicknames they had for her at Center.
NIKITA: I'd rather not.
MICHELLE: Don't speak ill of the dead, is that it?
NIKITA: I'd just as soon forget her.
Michelle nods, goes to the glass desk, runs her fingertips across it.
MICHELLE: I'm not here to make trouble for you, Nikita. I'm here to help.
NIKITA: I don't recall asking for any.
MICHELLE: The perception at Center is that Section is...in disarray. This is due, in part, they think, to the recent struggle with The Collective. And in part due to your, um, alterations.
Nikita crosses to the desk, stands across from Michelle, her chin at a defiant angle.
NIKITA: I'm listening.
MICHELLE: You've cancelled the abeyance program. It's long been deemed an acceptable use of defective material.
NIKITA: Defective material? (She shakes her head.) Is that what you call them. Yes, I did away with the abeyance program. Operatives who don't measure up to our standards are retrained.
MICHELLE: You've also had the cesium crystals removed from most potential runners. Your people are not here because they want to be, Nikita. They're here because they know they can't escape. That we could track them down if they tried was an important deterrent.
NIKITA: We've had no runners in six months.
MICHELLE: Then you've been very fortunate. And I understand not a single operative has been cancelled since you took over.
NIKITA: I'm proud to say that's true.
MICHELLE: Departmental reports indicate a sharp rise in insubordination along with a decline in productivity. This is directly related to your alterations.
NIKITA: You haven't mentioned the Gelman Process. We deprogrammed nineteen operatives that Madeline had modified.
MICHELLE: We never approved of her modification experiments. The bottom line is, you're losing your grip on Section, Nikita.
Nikita turns, takes three paces, then three paces back, and leans on the desk, staring at Michelle.
NIKITA: And how upset would you be if that turned out to be the case, hmm?
MICHELLE (with a smile that's only skin-deep): As I said, I'm here to help you.
NIKITA: Good. (She keys in a code on a keyboard, and a mission profile -- the same one she had been working on in the Perch -- appears on the monitor.) We're going back into Sierra Leone. There's a briefing in one hour. You'll want to be up to speed, so I'll leave you to it.
Shexits the room.

Paris - Serrett's apartment in Montparnasse...
Serrett has fixed himself a drink at a sideboard. He takes it to an armchair near an open window, sits down, sips the drink, loosens his tie, and glances at the disk on the table beside the chair.
SERRETT (a murmur, to himself): Somehow I think you will be sorry, Jean-Baptiste.
He takes another sip, puts down the glass, picks up the disk, and rises, going to a desk. He sits down, slips the disk into the drive. The monitor screen goes black, the word UPLOADING flashing in red. And then he sees a file manager, belatedly recognizes it as his own, just as the files begin to disappear, one after the other, rapidly, from one folder to the next.
SERRETT: What the...
He tries to shut down, to no avail. Then tries to remove the disk. It won't eject. The last thing he sees on the screen are the words ICMP_DEST_ATTAINED, then SYSTEM_FRAG_COMPLETE, followed by DISK ERASED, the letters of which disintegrate before the screen goes black as his system crashes.

Section One - Communications...
Quinn and others are at their workstations. One of the techs stares in surprise at his monitor.
TECH: Quinn, I've got a Q Alert. Whatever that is.
QUINN (moving quickly to the tech's station.) Verified?
TECH: It's genuine. But what is...?
QUINN: Location.
TECH (fingers flying over the keyboard.) Paris. Montparnasse.
QUINN: I'll take it. (She returns to her bay, looks up to see that Nikita is back in the Perch, and keys in a comm link.) We have a verified Q Alert.
VOICE OF NIKITA: I want to know who, where and how in five minutes.

Section One - The Perch...
Quinn enters. Nikita is pacing, looking very grim.
NIKITA: What do you have for me?
Quinn goes to the wall terminal, keys up a Section file on Serrett.
QUINN: The Q Alert originated at 4 rue Lalande, Montparnasse, Paris, from a flat owned by this man, Jean-Baptiste Serrett, a journalist currently employed by Le Monde. Born May 12, 1967, Boulogne. Educated at Universite de Caen. Served in the Regiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine, the French equivalent of the British Special Air Service. He writes principally about the French judicial system and organized crime.
NIKITA: Source of the Q Alert?
QUINN: It was integrated into a virus imbedded in data that, according to the signature, was uploaded from a disk formatted in Section.
NIKITA: You cross-referenced Serrett with the directory?
QUINN: Yes. (She glances at Nikita, then keys up Dori's file.) Dori Burns. Serrett was her boyfriend at the time she was acquired.
NIKITA: Do we know what she put on the disk?
QUINN: No. She erased relevant segments of the cache duplication, and bypassed internal alerts. But neither the Q virus or alert can be detected once it's imbedded. It's impervious to antiviral scans. She wouldn't know what to look for.
NIKITA: Whatever was on the disk, he saw none of it?
QUINN: He didn't see anything.
NIKITA (sighs): Monitor him. I want to know everything he does for the next twenty four hours.
QUINN: And Dori?
NIKITA: Do nothing. Yet.
Quinn raises an eyebrow, but while she clearly disapproves of Nikita's last decision, she says nothing and leaves the Perch.

Section One - Systems...
Nikita, Michelle, Kwong and Mendez are gathered around the sim-rep table.
NIKITA: The faction of the Revolutionary United Front that we're dealing with has given the UN just 48 hours more to release their leader, Foday Sankoh. The RUF has reiterated that if Sankoh is not released, they will kill their hostages. The UN fully intends to try Sankoh for war crimes, and will not free him. We work on the assumption that the RUF will carry out its threat.
She keys up a three-dimensional, computer-simulated holograph model of the missionary school.
NIKITA: The hostages are still being held here, at the abandoned school outside Makeni. In response to our first attempt to free the hostages, they have been reinforced by about a dozen rebels, bringing the total of hostiles onsite to a minimum of thirty.
Mendez grimaces as he exchanges glances with Kwong.
MENDEZ (dryly): The reinforcements slipped past the SLA outposts.
NIKITA: The Sierra Leone army is...unreliable.
MICHELLE: For a week now the International Red Cross has been trying to persuade the RUF to allow a medical team in to check on the health of the three hostages. The RUF has refused -- until this morning. One of the hostages, an Argentine envoy named Arturo Rozaz, suffers from chronic heart disease. He may have had a mild heart attack. In addition, two of the hostiles have contracted a disease. The symptoms suggest diphtheria. Most of the hostiles have not been inoculated. They want to be.
MENDEZ: So we're going in as the medical team.
NIKITA: Yes. You and Kwong. Our intel suggests the hostages are held here. (She uses a laser pointer to indicate the location on the revolving sim-rep.) This is an outside wall. Your signal will launch an Air Tactical strike on the building. You'll punch through the wall and be picked up immediately. Any questions?
MENDEZ: How good is our intel on the location of the hostages?
NIKITA: You tell me -- when you get back. You'll leave in an hour.

The streets of Paris...
Serrett is driving a Citroen C5 on Rue du Cherche Midi. He's in a hurry, weaving skillfully through the traffic. Lowering his sunglasses, he peers into the rearview mirror and peers at a black SUV, with darkened windows, that seems to be following him. He turns on Boulevard Raspali; the SUV follows. He cuts across lanes to make an abrupt turn on Rue de Varennes; the SUV veers between two cars and stays behind him. Serrett swerves suddenly into an alley, nearly running over pedestrians on the sidewalk, roars to the end of the alley. The SUV follows; the alley so narrow that it scrapes the sides of the SUV. Up ahead, Serrett reaches a narrow backstreet lined with small shops. He slams on the brakes, stopping the C5 so that it blocks the mouth of the alley, gets out, and walks rapidly up the street. The SUV stops behind the Citroen. There are two Section operatives in the SUV.
SUV DRIVER (via comm link): Subject has made us. He's left the vehicle.
VOICE OF QUINN: Continue surveillance.
The operative on the passenger side of the SUV jumps out of the vehicle, squeezes past the C5 and looks up the street, then nods at the driver, and disappears in pursuit of Serrett. The driver puts the SUV in reverse and begins backing out of the alley at high speed. The operative on foot spots Serrett in the crowd of pedestrians up ahead -- and then doesn't see him anymore. He slows down, proceeding more cautiously, peering in all the shop windows. As he passes a doorway, Serrett comes out behind him.
SERRETT: Looking for me?
The operative whirls. Serrett kicks the man's leg out from under him and then drops him with a spin kick. The operative rolls and comes up in a crouch. Pedestrians scatter, a woman cries out in alarm. The operative throws a series of punches; Serrett blocks them, and the operative comes in low, plowing into Serrett, driving him backwards into a parked car. The car window shatters. Serrett brings an elbow down hard on the operative's collar bone, breaking it. With a shout of pain, the operative spins away. Serrett wraps an arm around the man's neck. The operative reacts by pushing backwards, shoving Serrett over the hood of the car. Serrett brings a leg around and drives a heel into the operative's groin, then finds the pressure point in the neck he's looking for, and in thirty seconds the operative is out cold, sagging to the sidewalk. Kneeling, Serrett swiftly searches the operative. He finds no wallet, no identification, but he does find a gun and a knife. He takes the knife, putting it in the pocket of his overcoat. A squeal of tire rubber jerks his head up, and he sees the black SUV swinging around a corner up the street. He realizes he has lost his sunglasses in the struggle -- and takes the pair the unconscious operative is wearing. Then he runs, back to the alley where the C5 is located. He jumps in and puts the car in reverse down the alley.
SUV DRIVER (via comm link): Subject is back in his vehicle. Operative is down. (In the distance he hears a police siren.) We're exposed.
VOICE OF QUINN: Discontinue surveillance. Retrieve the casualty and come in.

Paris - Plaza near the Musee D'Orsay...
Serrett crosses the plaza with long strides, heading for SOPHIE, a beautiful black-haired woman standing near a fountain. She sees him, smiles, and runs to embrace and kiss him.
SOPHIE (laughing): Cheri, you are later than usual! I'm beginning to think you don't love me!
SERRETT: Sophie, there has been a change of plans. Will your father be home tonight?
SOPHIE: Why, yes...I suppose. Jean-Baptiste, what is wrong with you?
SERRETT: No time to explain. There is something I must do, right away.
SOPHIE (sighs): You're in trouble again, aren't you? I can tell. Oh why can't you be a sports writer?
SERRETT (has to laugh): I will see you tonight, then, at your home. I need to talk to your father about something. (He gives her a quick, hard kiss on the mouth.) We'll visit the museum some other day. I must go! (He turns to walk away, looks back with a wave of the hand and a smile.) I love you!
Sophie, pouting, gives a half-hearted wave in return and watches him walk away.
Section One - Communications...
Nikita enters, goes to Quinn's bay.
NIKITA: You have something?
QUINN: A situation. Serrett has a piece of our equipment.
NIKITA: What, specifically?
QUINN: When he took Riley down he also took Riley's glasses. The audio and video were on, and still are. Fifteen minutes later, Serrett met this woman.
Nikita watches a monitor, sees Sophie at the fountain, sees Sophie turn, smile, and run towards the cam. Quinn freezes the image.
QUINN: Sophie Gaillac. Listen to this. (She keys up audio.)
VOICE OF SERRETT: Sophie, there's been a change of plans. Will your father be home tonight?
VOICE OF SOPHIE: Why yes...I suppose.
VOICE OF SERRETT: I will see you tonight, then, at your home. I need to talk to your father about something.
QUINN: Her father is the minister of defense. This is real time.
She keys up a new scene on the monitor -- a table at a sidewalk cafe. A man is sitting at the table, looking straight into the cam.
VOICE OF SERRETT: Pierre, I need a favor from you, my old friend.
PIERRE (the man on the monitor): You saved my life in Somalia. I owe you.
VOICE OF SERRETT: Have you ever heard of an anti-terrorist organization called Section One?
PIERRE: Why do you ask?
VOICE OF SERRETT: Come on, Pierre. If anyone in France were to know about Section One, it would be the GIGN.
QUINN: The GIGN is...
NIKITA: I know. French anti-terrorist detachment.
VOICE OF SERRETT: Section One is after me. I'm not sure what they want. The agent I tangled with was armed, but he didn't use his weapons. I took this from him.
The cam pans down (as Serrett looks down) at the knife he slides across the table to Pierre.
VOICE OF SERRETT: There may be prints on it. Run them for me, Pierre. I'll wager they come back the prints of a dead man, or one who has disappeared. A criminal, probably.
Pierre places a newspaper over the knife.
PIERRE: You should drop this, Jean-Baptiste. Take a holiday. Leave the country for a while. Go sit on a beach and do absolutely nothing. But I know you will not take my advice.
VOICE OF SERRETT: You've heard of this group, haven't you.
PIERRE (looks around): I've heard rumors. Enough to know you want no part of them.
VOICE OF SERRETT: Will you run the knife?
PIERRE: You'll hear from me in a few hours.
He picks up the paper. The knife has disappeared. He walks away.
QUINN: Pierre Duchenne. A major in the GIGN. He and Serrett served together in the RPIMa ten years ago. (She looks up at Nikita.) What do you want to do?
Michelle has walked up behind them.
MICHELLE: There are only two options.
Nikita turns and looks at her impassively.
MICHELLE: I've looked at Serrett's history. He's not the type who'll quit until he gets some answers. And we don't have any leverage to speak of inside the GIGN, or the Ministry of Defense.
NIKITA (to Michelle): There's only one option. (To Quinn): Prep an acquisition.
She walks away.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni, at dusk...
Kwong and Mendez pass through an archway in the low stone perimeter wall around the abandoned missionary school. They are wearing white frocks over street clothes, and armbands bearing a red cross. Kwong is wearing what appear to be prescription eyeglasses. Behind them is an open Jeep with a Red Cross flag on the radio antenna. They are met by a pair of gunmen. While one holds an MP-6 on them, the other frisks them thoroughly, then takes their medkits, puts them on the ground, and opens them, rifles through the medical supplies they contain. He rises and nods at his colleague. This one motions with the MP-6. Kwong and Mendez pick up their kits and walk into the school, escorted by the two hostiles. They are met by several more, all armed, in a wide hallway littered with refuse. One of these speaks curtly to their escorts, then looks Kwong and Mendez over.
RUF LEADER (to Mendez, in English): You are the doctor?
KWONG: No, I am.
MENDEZ (smiles): I'm a nurse.
RUF LEADER: You bring vaccine?
KWONG: The agreement was that we'd see the hostages first. Once we know they're allright, we begin the inoculations.
RUF LEADER (curtly): Very well.
He turns and walks down the hallway. Kwong and Mendez follow, flanked now by four hostiles. The leader throws open an outside latch on a door, pushes the door open.
RUF LEADER: Be quick.
Kwong and Mendez enter the windowless room. There is a guard sitting on a chair just inside the door, an automatic rifle across his lap. Three civilians, two men and a women, all of them disheveled and haggard are sitting in a corner across the room. Kwong and Mendez go to them, kneel, and open their kits.
KWONG: We are with the International Red Cross. Does anyone have any physical complaints? Which one of you is Arturo Rozaz?
ROZAZ: I am.
KWONG (whispering): Can you walk?
ROZAZ (also whispering): If it means getting out of here, I'll run.
Kwong glances over her shoulder. The guard is watching them. The RUF leader is talking to the other men in the hallway. Kwong readjusts her eyeglasses.

Section One - Communications...
Quinn is at her bay, with Nikita standing behind her.
QUINN: Kwong has activated the strike signal.
NIKITA: Send in AirTac.

Sierra Leone - Outside the city of Makeni...
Both Kwong and Mendez tear open a sanitized roll of gauze. Kwong removes a grenade the size of a gold ball, presses the pin and lobs it at the door. As the guard rises, swinging the automatic rifle around, she hurls a shuriken star that had also been hidden in the roll of gauze. The star lodges in the man's eye. He falls backwards, dropping the rifle. The tear gas grenade explodes in the doorway, obscuring the RUF men in the hall. Kwong can hear them coughing and gasping for air. Mendez takes a wall punch out of his roll of gauze, places it on the wall, flips a switch.
MENDEZ: Get down!
He and Kwong cover the three hostages with their bodies as the wall punch explodes outward with a concussion that sends plaster and debris raining down on them. Outside, a pair of black AH-64D Apache attack helicopters rise above the jungle treeline. RUF sentries on the school's rooftop begin firing at them. Inside...
KWONG: Let's go!
She hustles the woman out through the hole in the exterior wall. One of the RUF men in the hallway, completely obscured from view by the tear gas, is firing wildly into the room. Bullets stitch across the wall above their heads as Mendez shoves the two men out and dives out after them. An unmarked black Mi-24 Hind helicopter is landing just outside. Kwong and Mendez bundle the three civilians inside. Mendez and Kwong look at each other.
MENDEZ (shouting over the Mi24's rotor noise): Ladies first!
KWONG: After you!
Mendez grabs her around the waist and throws her in. As he follows, the Mi-25 lifts suddenly off the ground and veers abruptly away from the building. Mendez lands on top of Kwong. On the other side of the building, each Apache fires a pair of laser-guided Hellfire missiles. The building vanishes in a fireball. Inside the Mi-24...
KWONG (from beneath Mendez): Do you mind?
MENDEZ (smiling): Not at all. (He takes his time getting up.)
The Mi-24 gains altitude and speeds through the darkening sky. The two Apaches fall in behind.

Section One - The Perch...
Nikita and Michelle are watching a tape of the Hellfire missiles obliterating the RUF stronghold.
MICHELLE: Congratulations.
NIKITA: Thank you.
Neither sounds sincere.
VOICE OF QUINN (via internal comm): Serrett acquisition is ready. Team in place.
NIKITA: Acquire the...material.
She turns away from Michelle and closes her eyes.

Section One - The White Room...
The heavy metal door swings open, squeaking on its hinges. Wearing a long black leather coat, Nikita walks in to confront Dori, who is strapped to a metal chair in the center of the room.
NIKITA: I want to know one thing. Why?
DORI (trying to mask her fear): For my brother.
NIKITA (nodding): Revenge. I can understand that.
DORI: What will happen to Jean-Baptiste?
NIKITA: You realize that had you succeeded, everyone in Section would have died.
She turns away.
DORI (defiantly): I don't care what happens to everyone in Section.
Nikita turns back. She has drawn a Glock17 from under a coat -- and fires.
She forces herself to look at her handiwork for a moment, then leaves the White Room. Leaning a shoulder against a wall, she takes a deep breath, puts the Glock away, then straightens and walks down the corridor.

Section One - A room in Containment...
The door swings open and Nikita walks in, carrying a folder. The door swings closed behind her. Serrett is sitting on the edge of a narrow metal bunk. The room's only other furnishings are a metal table and chair.
NIKITA: Good morning.
SERRETT: This must be...Section One. Who are you?
Nikita walks over, takes a photo out of the folder, and hands it to Serrett.
NIKITA: Your apartment was destroyed by a bomb. The police will learn that it was the work of the Union Corse. You've caused them some problems in the past. Dental records will confirm that the remains found inside the apartment are yours. This is a picture taken at your funeral this morning.
Serrett takes the photo. Mourners in black are gathered around a casket beside an open grave.
SERRETT (coldly): What do you expect of me?
NIKITA: I expect you to...survive.
SERRETT: What if I don't accept this?
Nikita taps the photo in Serrett's hand.
NIKITA (sounding apologetic): Plot E-27.
She turns and leaves the room. Hands trembling slightly, Serrett touches the image of Sophie Gaillac, captured as she lays a red rose on his casket.


Characters from the television series La Femme Nikita:
Nikita, Jasmine Kwong, Walter, Quinn, Michelle ("Deja Vu All Over Again"), Dori Burns ("There Are No Missions").

Original "Season Six" characters:
Antonio Mendez, Jonathan Soto, Jean-Baptiste Serrett, Sophie Graillac, Pierre Duchenn