Nikita had always wanted to be a mother. Her own mother's harsh treatment of her as a child had led her to want to be something better, to do something worthwhile. A child, she thought, would allow her to spread some good in this world, to share some of the love she had inside. When she entered Section, her dreams had changed little, but had become astronomically harder to accomplish. Every time death seemed to be knocking at her door, she would always think of the things she would regret if she died; a child was almost always on the top of that list.
Things had begun to calm down in Section lately. "Calm down" was definitely a relative term. Endless deadly missions, and death and deception were still commonplace, but Operations and Madeline had loosened their iron grip on both herself and Michael. The only reason Nikita could think for their sudden change of heart (again the term "heart" is used loosely) was that they had finally realized they worked better together than apart.
After Section gave its consent, things actually began making some sense between Michael and Nikita. Though Michael was still closed and cold sometimes, Nikita knew him too well to take it at face value. Soon the two found themselves living together, hopelessly trying to balance Section with the rest of their lives. At first times were tough but, amazingly, both came out intact. Nikita's conscience stilled weighed heavily on her, but now she at least had someone to hold her at night when she wept. Nikita thought this was enough, that she should let her dream of a child go. It was impossible for her to bear Michael's child, and it would just be cruel for all involved to put a child through Section.
But now, as she sat in Madeline's sterile office next to Michael, all those feelings returned.
Earlier That Morning: Operation's office

"This is certainly interesting," Operations commented skeptically.
"This was sent from the top, directly from George," Madeline replied placidly.
"Figures! Now George is giving us children to baby-sit! This is ridiculous! We have better ways to use our resources than training some small boy!" Operations was fuming.
"Judging from his file, this is no ordinary boy. His intelligence is off the charts and his reasoning skills are much advanced for his young age."
"So now we have a intelligent boy to baby-sit. How does George expect us to deal with this?"
"He's not an innocent. His parents were killed soon after his birth, and after that he was sent to 25 different foster homes in 5 years. By the time he was five he had run away numerous times and was practically living on the streets. The reason he was brought to George's attention, and inadvertently to ours, was that he shot and killed two men." Madeline paused to gauge Operation's reaction. Operations raised an eyebrow. "Apparently, he did it in self-defense, but who would believe a disobedient, belligerent, seven year old who showed no signs of remorse? The victims were two middle class drunks that had just left a bar across the street, the jury obviously had no pity for him; they gave him the harshest sentence they could."
As Madeline finished her report, Operations thought for a few minutes. "Well it's obvious that George intends for us to follow this through, though I doubt how far this boy will make it in Section. What do you think we should do about this?"
"He has severe behaviorial problems and is definitely not ready to begin working with Birkoff in any productive way. If he is to amount to anything useful, those problems must be addressed first. There is a problem though. I don't think that he would respond to me; authority is not something he appreciates, and he could no doubt prove to be too intelligent to make any headway in a reasonable amount of time."
"Then who should train him?" Operations asked with another raised eyebrow.


"This morning we received a new recruit. This is a very special case." Madeline pauses to turn around her monitor, so that Nikita and Michael can see the screen. "This is August Deedren. He was born in New York, and lived there until his recruitment."
As Nikita looked up her eyes nearly popped out of her head as she saw the picture of August on the screen. He was a small child with shaggy sandy-brown hair, and murky gray eyes, hidden by thick glasses. There was an expression of defensiveness on his face.
"As you can see this is a rather different recruit, in that he is only 8 years old. Make no mistake, he is not an innocent. He came to our attention by killing two people."
Michael was horrified. How could Section possibly think of trying to recruit a mere child, no matter how brilliant, ruthless, or machine-like the child might be? A child was a liability in Section.
"Obviously we cannot put August through a normal training regimen. Operations and I have decided that the two of you would be best equipped to train him."
"What's going to happen?" Nikita asked, coming out of her thoughts.
"First you will begin August with Section basics. For the time being, though, he is not to be trained in Comm, or in any computerized field."
"Why?" Nikita asked puzzled.
"August will not be easy material. He is extremely intelligent, and has no regard for consequences. If he had a chance to get into our system, he would no doubt cause a bigger scene than Mr. Hillinger did." Nikita nodded her rememberance of that teen genius. "After two months of training in Section you will take August home with you and you will try to modify his behavior so that he will be able to survive in Section. His profile, and some guidelines for his training, will be on your panels."
And with that Madeline turned her monitor back around and began to absorb herself in something else. Michael and Nikita got up and quietly exited the room. In an empty hall, Nikita began to let it all sink in.
"He's just a child!" Nikita cried quietly in anguish.
"But not an innocent," Michael replied softly, trying to calm her.

The White Room-the next day

August sat in a corner of the immaculately white room, with his knees drawn up to his chest. He had been in the same position for hours, his chin resting on his knees with an obviously suspicious expression tattooed on his face. As Michael and Nikita entered the room, August didn't move from his spot on the floor, just watched them with wary eyes.
"Welcome to Section One" Michael said, as he came to stand in front of him. Michael gave August the normal new recruit speech, and then stood silent.
"Screw you," August mumbled, as he glared at Michael.
Surprisingly, it was Nikita that spoke next. "That's a death sentence August. I wouldn't go there if I were you."
And with that bit of advice, Michael and Nikita exited the room.

* * *

Over the next two months Nikita and Michael trained August in the ways of Section. Unfortunately, August had different ideas. At every turn, the child did whatever he could to disrupt his training. He was rude, abrasive, and even abusive. More than once Nikita came home with a nasty bruise or cut, where August had caught her off guard. All in all, August proved to be pretty adept at hand-to-hand combat skills and marksmanship, but was often lacking when it came down to a pressured response. During many simulated missions he was "killed" within the first few minutes. Whenever Michael would get on him about this August would point out, "I'm not here to do the muscle work, anyway. I'm here to do what I'm skilled at -- computer systems and data analyses. There's no point in me going through all this anyway!" To which Nikita would usually reply, "What good are you going to be on a computer if you're an easy target?"
By the time August's two-month adjustment period was over, Nikita and Michael had hit a wall with him. There was no more they could teach him unless he was ready and willing to learn. The time was almost near to take little August home for a little one-on-one behavior modification.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Nikita dreaded the coming days. She and Michael had just finished getting the house -- the one they had moved into to accommodate their new addition -- ready for the young hellion's arrival. One thing's for sure. Michael is right, he's definitely not an innocent. This should be an interesting arrangement, Nikita thought bleakly. As she sat in the chair opposite Michael's desk, she felt a pair of strong hands begin to massage her tense shoulders.
"Mmmmm, that feels good," Nikita moaned.
"Madeline said tomorrow," Michael said, referring to the question of when August would be taken out of Section.
"Where is he now?" Nikita asked quietly.
"In Medical. Making sure he's well, and inserting a few trackers into him, in case he decides to run."
Heaving one last big sigh, Nikita stood up and gave Michael a quick hug. "You ready to go?" Michael nodded and they made their way out of Section.
The day of August's next step in training had arrived. All concerned were gathered in Madeline's office. Madeline sat at her desk, with one of her Mona Lisa smiles pasted on; Operations stood next to Madeline's desk; Nikita was slouching in one of the chairs; Michael was standing behind Nikita, his Section mask carefully in place; and August sat in the other chair, glaring at everyone, especially Madeline.
"August, you have been here for a full two months now," said Operations The first phase of your training is complete. Now it's time to move to the next phase. Starting today, you will live outside of Section with Michael and Nikita, and you will continue on a more advanced training regimen, until it is decided that you can be advanced to the next level."
Next Madeline said, "This arrangement is permanent, or at least until we decide otherwise. August, you will not attempt escape while you are on the outside, and if you do, you will be punished severely. You are to do exactly as Michael and Nikita instruct, following all orders. If you do not show improvement within the next two months you will be put into abeyance." When Madeline finished she looked directly at the still glaring boy. "Do you understand, August?"
At August's slight nod, Madeline dismissed him. As he left the room, he glared at everyone in turn, except Nikita. Waiting outside was a section guard, who was assigned to August whenever Michael and Nikita were otherwise occupied.
After August left, Madeline turned to Michael and Nikita. "This will not be easy, but you are expected to have results soon." And with that, the meeting was over.
In the hall, August waited impatiently. "Today you will work with Walter and Nikita," was all Michael said before he went off to do various work around Section.
Nikita nodded to the operative watching August, who also left to tend to other duties. Nikita glanced at August then strode off to Walter's area. August huffed and followed Nikita to Walter's area.
"Hey Sugar, what's happening?" Walter greeted Nikita warmly.
"The usual Walter," Nikita said with a smile reserved just for her friend. Behind her August could be seen glaring.
"I see he's heard the good news," Walter said chuckling. In answer, August simply glared at Walter. "So, what's on the menu for today?" Walter asked curiously.
"I was thinking about running some sims." Nikita replied.
The day passed without incident, Nikita working with August most of the day and Michael catching up on some backed-up work. The end of the day came far too soon for the three of them. They all met in the area in front of Operation's aerie. It was time. Michael led the way out of Section with Nikita bringing up the rear to make sure August didn't get any bright ideas.
The short drive to the house was silent, all three of them lost in their own thoughts. When they arrived, Nikita showed August around the house while Michael made sure they were secure. The security was extreme; of course, it wasn't to keep anyone out, it was to keep August in. The door was locked from the inside by a retinal scan that August couldn't even reach without help. All the windows had titanium bars fitted into a titanium window frame. A few of the rooms had voice-activated locks, opening only for either Michael or Nikita.
Nikita and August were now standing in the kitchen in front of Michael. "I don't get a computer?" August asked moodily.
"No," Michael answered simply. "You will always have two choices while you live here. You can obey us, or...." Michael began.
"Or what?" little August demanded.
"Or this," Nikita answered as she pulled her pistol from the kitchen cabinet (voice -locked of course).
"Figures," August mumbled.
"This is going to be much like Section. You're free to go anywhere that isn't locked." said Michael.
"Then what's with sticking me here? Why not just leave me in Section?"
"Here, we do things a little differently. Here it's not life or death. Consider this life training, not survival training." Nikita answered with a smile. "And, unlike at Section, we serve edible food. Who's hungry?"
After dinner August went to his room, leaving Michael and Nikita in the living room. They were sitting on the sofa talking quietly about the days, weeks, and months to come.
"Well, no one said parenting was easy," Nikita joked.
"Funny, there have never been books on raising eight-year-old geniuses with bad attitudes and Section status," Michael said with a smile.
"Why Michael, was that a joke that just came out of your mouth?"

* * *

The next few days were strained and tense at Michael and Nikita's house. August wasn't stupid; he never directly defied them, but he did everything he could to protest this latest development. They had told August that his room was his; he could do whatever he wanted there. This resulted in the demolition of the room and an almost constant stream of aggravating, loud metal music. It got so bad that Nikita was almost thankful for missions. Sometimes, Nikita or Michael would just have to leave for a while, take a walk. This was what happened in their off time; in Section they were all perfect operatives.
This continued for the next six weeks, causing Nikita to lose heart. "We've only got two weeks left," Nikita said despairingly as she lay next to Michael one night. "I don't think we're gonna have any effect on him."
"Don't give up on him, Nikita. Everyone else has already. Something will happen." Michael said reassuringly.
Later that night Nikita woke up and went downstairs to the kitchen to get a glass of water. After gulping down a glass she headed back upstairs. As she passed August's room, she heard a soft sound, like whimpering coming from inside. Listening closer, Nikita recognized August's childish moans coming from inside the room. Her maternal instincts kicking in, Nikita didn't think twice as she quietly opened August's door. Inside, August lay curled in the fetal position at the foot of his bed, sobbing. Nikita stepped closer to August and sucked in a breath at the realization that he was asleep. August started shaking violently and chanting "Mommy" over and over again. All Nikita wanted to do was run to August and comfort him, but she knew that he would just retreat more into himself. A few tears slipped down Nikita's cheek as she reluctantly slipped out of August's room. She stood at the door a moment, time enough to hear August jolt awake. Nikita returned to bed, thankful that Michael was sound asleep.
The next few nights found Nikita awake at odd hours of the night, trying to think of some way she could help save August from his dreams. As it happened, August himself solved this question. About a week after Nikita had first seen August's night terrors she was sitting on the couch at about 3:00am. Michael knew that Nikita hadn't been sleeping, but he didn't say anything, figuring that Nikita would work out whatever was going on.
Nikita's thoughts were interrupted by a soft slapping of bare feet on wood, then the thump, thump of August walking down the stairs. Nikita didn't bother to look up; it would just make this more uncomfortable anyway. Nikita had always liked the night. At night, anything could happen. Tonight would be no exception. August flopped down on the end of the couch, and remained quiet. After a while, Nikita looked up to meet August's eyes, eyes that were normally guarded and hostile, but were now sad and emotional. When their eyes locked Nikita saw all the hurt contained in such a small body, and August saw all of the love that Nikita had for this child that had caused her so much pain and frustration. At that moment, both completely understood each other, and things changed, in one moment.

* * *

There was no drastic change. Things happened bit by bit. The first few nights after the change Nikita would still wake up and go downstairs, and August would wake from his night terrors and amble downstairs, too. After a while it got so familiar that August even let Nikita comfort him. And, as August learned to trust Nikita, he began to cooperate more in training, and at home. Of course, with Michael it was a different story. While August was warming to Nikita, he still had no tolerance for Michael's quiet, commanding, always-in-control personality. Though this definitely was going to cause problems in the long run, Madeline had noticed August's change in attitude, which saved the boy from imminent cancellation.
Though he knew this was what was going to happen, Michael was frustrated by the fact that August would only listen to Nikita now. Today had been the deadline for August, and he had been put through many grueling evaluations. These included weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, sims, and a talk with Madeline herself. When they had gotten home August plopped down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. After a while, Michael decided he would take August to bed. Unfortunately, the moment Michael touched him August woke and glared. August then rose and stalked up the stairs.
"Give him time," Nikita said reassuringly, as she walked over to Michael and wrapped her arms around him.
"I know," was Michael's quiet reply.
While at Section things remained professional and civil, at home things were different. August refused to speak to Michael, and would freak out if Michael touched him. All of this, of course, put poor Nikita in the middle. Though Michael and August never fought verbally, their respective silences and tension was enough to completely frustrate Nikita. Life, it seemed, had hit another roadblock.

* * *

It was just another day in Section, it seemed like nothing out of the ordinary, but then again, in Section nothing is as it seems. With Madeline's conditional approval, August began training in Comm with Birkoff. That was where August was now, listening to Birkoff explain about the importance of cycling data during a mission sequence. As August half listened he watched Michael and Nikita's team come in with a bad guy in tow. Michael and Nikita stopped to talk to Madeline, and with a sigh, August returned his focus to Birkoff and the screen in front of him. The only thing that could keep August's attention on Birkoff was the thought that anything was better than field exercises.
"All I want to do is take a nice hot shower and crawl into bed for a week," Nikita complained as she and Michael made their way to Comm to get August. The mission had been tense, grueling, and three days long.
"Hey, August," Nikita greeted as she and Michael reached Comm.
"Hey, Nikita," August replied, looking up, a sure sign that he was more than ready to go home.
"Sorry Birkoff, you're gonna have to finish your lesson tomorrow."
"It's alright Nikita, I doubt he heard one word that I said anyway," Birkoff said with a smile.
After collecting August and saying goodbye to Birkoff, Nikita, Michael, and August began heading out of Section. They couldn't have picked a worse time. As they left Comm and came out into the main area August was walking a few feet in front of Michael and Nikita. All three were very wary; Michael and Nikita from the mission, and August from the fact that he could never sleep in Section anymore. As August walked through the main area he was suddenly grabbed by the man that Michael and Nikita had brought in earlier.
Apparently the man had freed himself from his captors and taken an operatives' gun. The man lifted August so that he had no leverage to break free, and pointed the gun to his head, threatening to shoot. Unfortunately the operatives had their orders and kept advancing on the man. Nikita was freaking out, but Michael was devising a plan. The man had backed himself up against the wall below Operation's office, and Michael had an idea. Using Nikita to help block his movements, Michael slipped out of the main area and dashed down an intricate maze of hallways.
Stopping to take a deep breath, Michael stood in the doorway not a foot from where the man stood with a gun to August's head. On the count of three, Michael swung out of the doorway, and landed on the man's knee, bending it in a very unnatural way. The man screamed and came crashing to the floor. Unfortunately, the man didn't let go of August, who went down with him, smacking his head on the floor. The other operatives rushed the man before he had time to pick the gun up, leaving Michael kneeling over August, who had yet to move. Before Nikita reached the two, August groaned and Michael helped him sit up. Michael looked him over and saw only the nasty bump on his head. Sitting there on the floor, August looked up at Michael and stared straight into his eyes. Once more, things had changed.

* * *

After the incident in the main hall the med techs insisted on examining August, even after his protests that he was perfectly fine. August, like most operatives, hated Med Lab. The place was unbearably sterile, and deathly quite. The only thing that kept August here was the fact that Nikita was sitting next to him on the examining table watching over him, and Michael standing not far off, in the way of the door. August smiled at the memory. That was one thing that Michael, Nikita, and the Med Lab staff had learned early in August's training -- he hated Med Lab. The first time Nikita had brought August to Med Lab, it was for a sprained wrist; of course, neither the doctor nor Nikita had been prepared when August bolted from the room. It took Nikita an hour to find him, sitting in a remote hallway. Now was no different; all August wanted to do was go home, but the reassuring hand on his shoulder calmed him. Soon the doctor proclaimed that it wasn't serious and that what August needed was to get some sleep; he was obviously suffering from sleep deprivation.
Finally, the three operatives found themselves home, away from the craziness of Section. When Michael pulled into the driveway, he looked in the backseat to see August sound asleep. Nikita brushed a soft kiss against Michael's lips before getting out of the car. Nikita opened the backseat door intent on waking up August, but Michael stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. Nikita stepped back and Michael leaned into the car and carefully picked up August, cradling the sleeping boy against his broad chest. August stirred slightly, looking up sleepily at Michael, before relaxing once again. The three entered the house and Michael went up to put August to bed, while Nikita surveyed the house, in typical Section fashion.
Once settled in, Michael and Nikita relaxed on the sofa together, contemplating the day's events. Nikita's heart had nearly stopped when the terrorist had grabbed August. Just the thought of August not being there made tears well up in Nikita's eyes. But, seeing how August had looked at Michael a little while ago made Nikita almost grateful for the incident. Michael, too, was reeling from the attack of the cornered man. At first Michael couldn't believe that the man had dared to take this child, a child he thought of as his own. Once Michael had realized this fact, that he loved this pain-in-the-ass of a boy, he had acted on auto-pilot, letting his instincts take over. Brushing his fingers thru Nikita's hair lightly, Michael was just glad that a bump was August's only injury.
Soon, things settled into a comfortable routine for the three Section ops. August worked with Birkoff full time, and Nikita had been promoted to Level 3, as she and Michael continued their life-and-death missions. Time began to fly, and before anyone knew, August's 11th birthday arrived. Operations had let the three operatives off that day; things had been slow lately anyway. It had been a good day. For August's birthday Michael had gotten Birkoff over to set up a good system for the boy. From Nikita, August got a pair of rollerblades, which, she said, he would definitely be using soon. August dreaded the possible reasons for the devilish glint in her eyes as she had said that. But the day had been fun, and above all, August felt the love that his surrogate parents had for him.
It was amazing to August that anyone could love him so much, especially after the hell he had put them through at first. That night though, August woke in a panic. It was another nightmare. It had been awhile since he'd had one. August stumbled down the hall and to the bathroom. Splashing some cold water on his face, he heard Nikita coming down the hall. Nikita, it seemed, had a sixth sense for August; whenever he was in trouble, she was there. Coming to the open bathroom door, Nikita leaned in and looked August up and down to make sure he was okay.
"Bad?" Nikita asked, not bothering to ask the whole question.
August simply nodded, and Nikita pulled the young boy into her arms. Eventually the feelings of fear and disquiet faded and Nikita made sure August got to bed alright and kissed him on the forehead, the simplest gesture that meant so much to August. Soon, all was once again quiet. The quiet would not last, though.
* * *
The night was shattered by the yelp of August being grabbed. A group of men dressed in black moved with deadly precision through the house. Michael and Nikita both woke at the sound of August's cry, but it was too late; the men busted into their bedroom before Michael could even grab his weapon. Two shots rang out, and Michael and Nikita's world went black.
Sometime Later

Michael awoke slowly, the sedative still affecting his system. His Section training taking over, he surveyed his surroundings. Michael was imprisoned in a tube of unbreakable plastic, just wide enough for him to sit with folded legs at the bottom. Looking to his right, Michael saw August curled up at the bottom of a cell identical to his own. To his left, Nikita was regaining conciousness in her own cell. Nikita looked up and met Michael's eyes and a look of reassurance and hope passed between them. But when she saw that August still lay unconscious, frustration and fear swept over Nikita.
A few minutes after Michael and Nikita woke, a door opened on the far side of the bare room that contained their cells. A group of operatives walked into the room surrounding a well-dressed man, obviously the leader of this operation. The operatives spaced themselves around the room, gazing menacingly at their captives. The man walked up to where Michael was now standing and gave him a smug grin.
"Hello Mr. Samuelle, and how are we today?" came the thickly accented voice of the man. "My name is Mr. Page, and I'm afraid that you'll have to be detained here for a while. That is, if you don't cooperate." The man smiled cheerily, giving Nikita chills. "I do apologize for your rough treatment, but given your reputations, it was necessary. I'm sure you understand."
With that the man and the guards left the room, leaving Michael, Nikita, and a finally awakening August to their own thoughts.
Back At Section One

"Sir, we have an anomaly." Birkoff said nervously, looking up to Operation's office.
"What is it Birkoff?" Operations demanded angrily.
"Michael, Nikita, and August are gone. It looks like they were grabbed in the night."

* * *

"So what happens now?" Nikita asked quietly.
"We wait," was all Michael could say, given their situation.
"Wonderful," August said angrily. But August was scared. They all were.
Section One, days after the abduction

Walter sighed as he took his hands from the new detonator he was working on. He was too worried about his friends to concentrate on anything right now. Walking to the entryway of his station, Walter watched as Birkoff sweated under the anger of Operations.
"I don't want excuses, Birkoff, I want them found," Operations said as he stormed out of Comm.
"Hey, Amigo. How goes it?" Walter greeted as he walked into Comm.
Heaving a loud sigh and rubbing a hand across his tired eyes, Birkoff said, "I can't find them, Walter, it's as if they disappeared. None of their tracking devices are functional anymore. There are absolutely no signs of them anywhere. God, Walter, what if I can't find them?" Birkoff looked scared.
"Hey, don't talk like that! You'll find them!" Walter said adamantly.
Just as Birkoff was about to respond, the terminal behind him beeped. Birkoff turned around and answered the incoming communication. Listening to the other line, Birkoff's face lit up and his hands began to busily type.
After a few minutes, a very worried Walter gave an exasperated, "Well?!?!"
"Johnson just picked up a Red Cell op who knows who grabbed Michael, Nikita, and August!" Birkoff said, relief filling his voice.
"Oh thank god!"
Back With Our Favorite Captive Ops

August cringed as the knife slid across his forearm, creating yet another cut on his body. I will not let them win, August kept repeating silently. He was being tortured as Michael and Nikita were forced to watch. Their captors were asking Michael and Nikita questions about Section, but they couldn't answer them, not even for poor August. Glaring up at the burly man with the knife, August bore another, particularly deep cut on his abdomen. Though he knew that he could take this pain for a good amount of time, August wasn't so sure about Michael and Nikita. Section better get here soon, August thought grimly.
Nikita felt like she was about to die. They were hurting her baby! She wanted desperately to cry, but that would do nothing but make them more vulnerable, and cause them all a lot more pain. She had to be strong. They would get out of this. Nikita glanced at Michael, who had his Section mask carefully in place, but she knew he was as torn up as she was.
Michael was enraged. These miserable bastards will pay for hurting him, and putting my poor Nikita through this! Michael could think of nothing but escape and revenge as he was strapped to a chair, watching his child mutilated slowly.
"Now, Now. I know one of you has something to say to me. Don't be shy. Just give me the location of Section One, and all of this will end. You'll all live happily ever after," said Mr. Page. Silence was his reply. He had to admit that they were impressing him, especially the boy, who hadn't so much as flinched from the cutting.
"Well, then I suppose we'll have to keep on going," Mr. Page said with mock disappointment. He nodded to the burly man, who then made a gash on August's left cheek.
Section One

"Five days ago, Michael, Nikita, and August were taken from their home in the middle of the night," Operations began. He had calmed down significantly since locating his three missing operatives, but would not relax until he had them back.
"We found out from a captured Red Cell communications op that they were taken by a group calling themselves Black Heart. Up till now they had been gaining support, but are not considered a major threat. We believe that they are trying to find the location of Section One in order to destroy it." Birkoff explained to the assembled operatives.
"From various informants we have derived the location of Black Heart, here."
Operations clicked a remote, and a map of the eastern United States appeared in front of the operatives. Clicking the remote again, Operations continued the briefing. "Their outpost, where we believe they are holding Michael, Nikita, and August, is located here, in a secluded area of Main. This complex is where our sources indicate they are being held." Operations said with another click of the remote.
"According to the data, they are being held in this part of the building," said Birkoff, pointing to a smaller building attached to the rest with a long exposed corridor. "Our best chance is a night attack coming from these woods behind the building to the south.
"That's it. You leave in two hours. Your panels will be loaded with any other data that comes in." Operations dismissed the operatives, wondering if this was actually going to work.

* * *

Mr. Page had switched tactics; now, instead of Michael and Nikita watching them torture August, August was forced to watch as Nikita was beaten to a bloody pulp, and Michael was electrocuted. Oh god I can't take this any longer. Make them stop! August bore his anguish in silence. I can't break, I won't let them suffer in vain.
Outside the Complex

"First team in position."
"All right, proceed to first mark," Birkoff replied. Good luck, he thought.
Outside the complex the guards were systematically taken out, while another team disarmed the alarm system. Things were going smoothly.
"Proceeding to enter the building," said the team leader as ten black-clad operatives ducked into the building. Making their way through the corridors, they encountered few people, but as they were nearing their target the halls began to echo with the sound of gunfire.
"First Team, report."
"We've encountered resistance, no casualties yet," said the breathless team leader.
"I'm showing an alternate route. Go back the way you came and three doors down on the right there should be a door marked, Service Personnel Only. Go down the hall and make two lefts, then a right. You should come out close to the target."
"Will do. I'm leaving a few men to keep the hostiles pinned down."
With that, seven of the men began sprinting down the corridors.
Inside the Torture Room

Nikita wasn't aware of the blows anymore. She wasn't aware of much of anything. The beatings were nothing compared to the suffering of the ones she loved. Suddenly the pain stopped. Nikita was faintly aware of gunshots and yelling. The next thing she knew, Michael, despite his own wounds, had picked her up and was carrying her out of the room.
"August?" Nikita managed to get out between bleeding lips.
"Mom?" came the soft scared voice of her son, and with that Nikita let the darkness descend upon her, knowing that they were safe.

* * *

After spending an extended stay in Medlab Michael, Nikita, and August went to their new home to recuperate. When they came back, Michael was allowed the pleasure of disposing of Mr. Page himself, while the rest of Black Heart was eradicated from the terrorist scene. And they lived as happily ever after as anyone can in Section One.

The End

© 2003 by the author.  All rights reserved.

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