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Searching for Michael

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Chapter 1

Nikita drove her Porche Boxter through the rainy streets back to her apartment. Once inside, she punched in the security code to open the door. The apartment was dark except for the blue glow of neon in the bedroom.

She took a deep breath of fatigue and threw her coat over a leather chair. Out of the darkness a voice pierced the room.

"Hello darling!"

Nikita quickly pulled out her revolver, pointing in the direction of the voice; she crouched on the floor.

"Who are you!"

James Steel switched on a light and returned to sit in one of Nikita's leather chairs, a drink of scotch in one hand. Nikita pointed her gun squarely at Steel's head. He got up and walked directly at her.

"Why are you here," she yelled.

"I keep coming back for you, my darling. You see - I don't really believe the child you are carrying is Michael Samuelle's. We made passionate love - surely you remember - the timing is perfect - it's my child."

"You are demented!"

"I've always told you - I love you. I want us to be together with our child. I'll do anything to make that happen."

"My unborn child is not yours!"

"Well - it's not Michael Samuelle's anymore; he has met with an unfortunate accident....he's dead."

"Michael isn't dead!"

"I'm afraid he is my dear - he'll no longer be interfering with our love for each other."

"I'm giving you one minute to get out of here before I put two bullets through your head!"

Steel walked directly to Nikita. She backed away as he approached her.

"Back off!"

"Very well... I'm leaving - just as you ask."

Nikita continued to point her gun at Steel as he walked to the door. He pulled it open and turned.

"Don't fight this Nikita.... we will be together one day, just ask your Father. Michael's mission into Afganistan was an abeyance mission. Coric and Samuelle were both shot by terrorists in Kabul."

Steel grinned and slowly closed the door. Nikita's heart was racing, her breath coming in short stabs; her gun dropped to her side. She stared at the door intently.

What is he saying - is my Father involved in this? Michael cannot be dead!

~ ~ ~

Chaos reigned throughout the market square; the suicide bomber had performed his deed as planned; frantic Afghans raced away screaming.

Michael lay wounded in the rubble, almost near death. From the shadows of a bombed out building, a young woman darted forward, pulling and dragging Michael away from the surrounding carnage. Her tiny cottage was minutes away from the market square; once inside, she began immediately to work on Michael's wounds.

Michael lay semi-conscious for three days and on the morning of the fourth, he awoke slowly.

"Ahhhhh....where....awww...where am I?"

The young woman wiped a damp cloth over Michael's face.

"You are in my home...but you must be quiet or they will find you."

"....find me? Who will find me?"

"The militia who hunt the terrorists...we are hiding you...your people have betrayed you."

Michael fought to focus; to remember the events prior to the bombing. He spoke haltingly: "Can you .... help me... get out of the country?"

"Maybe...my brother could lead you into Pakistan...but surely you wish to work with your people who wish to free us...they hide in the mountains."

Michael fell back onto the cot, his head swimming; the room fading from focus. Hours later, he regained consciousness. The young woman was injecting a liquid into Michael's arm as a man stood at the foot of the bed.

"Selina....he speaks nonsense...his injuries and the drugs have distorted his mind. He will be of no use to our cause."

Michael stirred and began tossing on the bed; his hands were bound, as he shouted.

"I must get into Afghanistan...I must go back and find Nikita!

The brother and sister looked at each other.

"He has lost his memory....I must leave for the mountains....he is yours...he is of no value to us now."

"You are giving him to me?"

"Ha! Yes...do what you want with him...better use the full hallucinatory drug...it should make him think you are this woman he keeps asking about....what is the name?"

"A....Ni-kee-ta."

Selina stroked Michael's face and leaned in to kiss him as Michael faded into semi-consciousness.

"He is such a beautiful man."

"You have become obsessed with his man." The brother shook his head. "The obsession is not right."

"He is mine.... you gave him to me."

"Just remember our cause...then do what you want with him."

~ ~ ~

Nikita stared out the window of Section One's private jet - miles of rocky desert stretched into the horizon. Special Ops Surnow handed here a glass of juice, smiling.

"I'm sure you'd like something stronger but your sister Katherine made me promise to look out for you."

Nikita smiled back and took the juice, "Thanks, I wish I felt better about this mission - not telling my father may have been a mistake."

"You have to trust your instincts. There are alot of unanswered questions about Steel, MI6 and Section."

"Has the intel on Michael's whereabouts been updated?"

"It's coming in now. The profile indicates he's being held in Afghanistan at a safe house. He'll be okay, Nikita - his wounds don't appear to be serious."

Nikita looked out the jet's window at the distant mountains.

"If only I could believe that."

Meanwhile, at the Afghan 'safehouse' Michael struggled to get up from the bed. Serina, the Afgan operative walked quickly to him, her hand pushing him gently back onto the bed.

"No, my darling, you are too weak to get up. You must rest."

Michael peered at Serina, his eyes not focusing properly.

"Nik-it-a? Is that you - where are we? We should be leaving this place - when is egress?"

"Your wounds have not healed, we will stay here longer - it's safe."

"Is it you Nikita, my head, eyes.... I don't see properly."

"Yes, it is - your Nikita - I love you Michael - we will always be together."

"Nikita... I - ........

The room faded into blackness as Michael reached out his hand to Serina.

Many days later, Michael and Serina walked arm in arm through the crowed marketplace in Kabul. Fruit and vegetable sellers pushed their wares onto the passerbys. Michael was still experiencing blackouts, dizzyness and some loss of vision. Selina was continuing to inject him with the hallucinatory/memory drug.

Michael stopped at one of the sellers and picked up some papaya. He handed the fruit to Serina, smiling at her.

"Here, Nikita, your favorite... just the correct ripeness."

Serina smiled back at Michael, reaching up to kiss his cheek.

Suddenly, a heavily bearded man ran by the couple and leapt into a group of military personnel who are standing by a fish monger. The man pulled up his shirt to reveal a bomb taped to his chest. He pushed the detonator: an explosion ripped through another marketplace. The suicide bomber had once again destroyed most of the market square. Carnage and destruction lay everywhere. Michael and Serina lay underneath the rubble.

Serina did not move - Michael struggled to reach out his hand; he touched her face.

"NIKITA! ..........No!!!"

************

Chapter 2

High in the Afghan Tora Bora mountains, Michael crouched behind the rocks, protecting the entrance to a cave. Two Taliban fighters walked up to him and offered a jug of water and bread.

"You must rest - you have been on guard duty for three days now."

Michael wiped dried blood from his forehead and eyes. His old wounds from the explosion in the marketplace had caused a concussion and the hallucinatory drug issued by Selina prevented him from remembering anything of his former life - he believes he is fighting the terrorists who have killed 'Nikita'.

Michael looked up at the tall Taliban fighter. " We must protect this cave at all costs - they must not advance further."

The head Taliban fighter took the other one aside.

"He will work for us - his head is gone - in his sleep many days ago, he talked of a war lord leader - a Nee-kee-tee - who is now dead. He will revenge the death. He is our captive but also our weapon. No foreigners will take us."

~ ~ ~

Nikita, Surnow and six other operatives surrounded the stone cottage where Michael and Serina had been in hiding. Surnow kicked the door and the operatives stormed in, guns pointing in all directions. Nikita followed, her gun drawn.

"The place is empty," barked Surnow.

Nikita walked to a table, picked up a cup and examined it.

"There was someone here recently. How good is the intel about this safe house?"

Surnow picked up a syringe that lay inside a drawer of the bedside table.

"Cochran, run a test on this," stated Surnow handing the operative the syringe.

"Nikita, all I know is that Pakistan operatives used this house and stated it was secure."

Cochran pulled out a field test kit and checked the remains of the liquid in the syringe.

"Sir, the syringe contains an hallucinogenic drug....I would need to do more tests to determine exactly which one."

Nikita walked to the bed, bent down and picked up a torn piece of material.

"What is that," questioned Surnow.

"The material is identical to the mission shirt Michael wears."

Surnow frowned, skeptical of how Nikita could possibly know such information.

"Look here," exclaimed Cochran. ".... in this bag, discarded clothes."

Nikita took the clothes and examined the pants and shirt. She put the shirt up to her face.

"These were Michaels'."

"They may have injected him with the drugs. He could be anywhere, not knowing who he is," exclaimed Surnow.

Nikita recalled the time three years ago when Red Cell had used memory loss drugs on Michael. He had become another person. She walked to the cottage door, clutching the clothes.

"We must return to the plane and have a trace done on all movement from this location."

"Nikita, that's not possible... there are too many variables!"

"Now - everyone back to the plane!"

Nikita closed the door to the private room on board Section One's jet. She laid down on the sofa and closed her eyes, thinking back to the time of Michael's memory loss induced by Red Cell. He had been so vulnerable, so attentive and caring. She longed to be near him, to feel his hands caressing her body. She had resisted him during the memory loss, saying he was not who he normally was. But she had so wanted him at that moment. They had danced - he had wanted to dance. She smiled at his innocent advances to her. He had tried to kiss her and she had resisted. He had even told her he loved her. Their relationship had come along way in three years. She was now carrying his child and he knew he was to be a father. It had made him happy and he had tried so hard to appease her father by going on this mission to Afghanistan - but now he was missing - drugged. Would she ever feel his touch, his hands working wonders all over her body. She felt a shudder of excitement thinking of the last time they had made love.

"Michael - Michael - where are you," she whispered.

Surnow knocked on the door of the private room.

"Nikita, there is an incoming message from the head of Center on the videophone."

Nikita sat in front of the video computer and typed in a password. Her father's image appeared on the screen.

"Nikita, I've been following the intel on developments there. I understand your need to locate Michael but our missions must not be compromised. You must stay focused."

Nikita punched the audio off the videophone. She turned to the other operatives posted in the jet command center.

"Get out - go to secondary command!"

The operatives left quickly, going to the forward section of the jet. Surnow remained.

"That means you too!"

"Nikita, your father is correct, we must follow procedures."

"Get out!"

Surnow walked slowly to the door and exited. Nikita turned on the audio and peered at the videoscreen of her father. His face was drawn and tired as he spoke softly to his daughter.

"Nikita, I know this is difficult for you but intel shows that Michael was killed in a recent suicide bombing in a marketplace in Kabul.

Nikita's heart began to race. "What - when did you find this out!"

"There were other clandestine operatives following Michael's actions."

"What other agents?"

"Well .........."

"What Others!!"

"Operatives directed by James Steel."

"You had Steel kill Michael so we would not leave Section together. You PROMISED ME - US! Why do you think Michael volunteered for this mission - so we could be together!"

"Nikita - Steel did not kill Michael."

"I don't believe you - I don't trust anything you say. I'm going to find Michael - I know - I feel he is still alive."

Nikita clicked off the videophone and pressed the jet intercom. "Surnow, get Cochran to run a trace on Michael's transmitter, then we will return to Kabul."

Surnow and Cochran worked on the trace computers in secondary command.

Cochran shook his head. " Sir, finding Michael Samuelle's whereabouts is impossible. The intel is staledated. She can't possibly believe we can do this."

~ ~ ~

Dawn stretched over the Tora Bora mountains as Michael looked at the Taliban fighter squatting at his side.

"Will there be more guns in the next village?"

"Yes and you can talk with the foreigners and get more food - they will want to help - you."

"What foreigners," stammered Michael.

The tall Taliban fighter looked at Michael. "The British commandos have a post there. You can ask them for supplies - tell them you are undercover for their government."

Michael rubbed his eyes and looked questioningly at the fighter.

"Have I been undercover?"

"Yes."

"All I remember is being in a marketplace with Nikita - were we undercover?"

"Yes, the great leader - Nee-kee-tee. He was a great man."

"Man - no Nikita was a woman."

The Taliban laughed loudly. " Noooo - women are infidels. They must hide themselves under veils."

"No - I am certain I remember."

The Taliban leader looked at the other fighters. " His head is gone. Come we will continue with our plans."

The Taliban Fighters walked away from Michael. He stared into the distant mountains - his memories, his identity - gone.

~ ~ ~

Nikita had been preparing gear for the return trip into Kabul from the Section jet. In the secondary command center, a coded order from Nikita's father was transcribed by Surnow. He stood looking at Cochran and handed him the message. Cochran went about preparing a sleeping potion and dropped it into the drink that was to be offered Nikita.

She paced back and forth in the jet's central command and when Cochran offered her a refreshing drink, she took it, draining the glass completely. Within minutes, Nikita fell into a peaceful sleep.

Four hours later, the jet arrived back at Center and Nikita was taken to her quarters. She slept fitfully, as her father gently stroked her hand.

"This is for the best, Nikita. Michael is no doubt dead and you can't put yourself in danger looking for a ghost." He kissed her forehead. " Trust me - this is for your protection."

Nikita stirred slightly, her drug induced sleep taking her away to search for Michael; a smile on her face, dreaming of the love song she and Michael shared.

'I have a smile, stretched from ear to ear - to see you walking down the road. We meet at the lights - I stare for awhile, the world around us disappears. It's just you and me - on my island of hope, a breath between us - could be miles. If it surrounds you - I see to your shore - let me be the calm you see. And every time I'm close to you - it's too much, I can't say - and you just walk away. And I forgot, to tell you - I love you and lives too lost and cold here without you. I grieve in my condition for I can't find the words to say - I need you so.'

Nikita reaches out her hand; in her dream Michael walks toward her; he gently takes her hand in his.

***********

Chapter 3

The Centre doctor put the stethoscope around her neck and motioned to Nikita to get up from the examining table. Nikita slid her long legs off the table and slipped her robe on.

"Are you still feeling a little groggy," questioned the doctor.

"Yes - but then I would, after all, my father had me drugged and kidnaped."

"There will be no lasting affects from the drugs."

"And the baby?"

"With two months into the pregnancy... everything is fine. However, I would like you to have an ultra-sound in another month."

"My father is playing with my life and the life of my unborn child."

"Nikita, I understand your anger but I'm sure your father is just trying to protect you."

"Protect me - by drugging me!"

"I understand it was the only way to bring you back from Afghanistan. You must accept Michael's death. I can set up some counselling ........"

"Are you finished with me?"

"Yes." The doctor pushed a button on her desk and two operatives entered the room. " She can return to her quarters now."

Nikita glared at the doctor. " Do you enjoy controlling people's lives!"

"I'm only doing my job."

Nikita turned and exited with the operatives on each side of her.

~ ~ ~

Michael peered through binoculars at the dusty plain below and the village occupied by British and American commandos. A Taliban fighter reloaded his rifle beside Michael.

"You - go - now - into the village and tell them to give you food and ammunition for our guns. They have raided our caves and destroyed our supplies."

"They will not believe me."

"If they don't, you will not live. I have you in my gun sights."

"Why are you doing this? I am here to help you. I have always worked for the Taliban and it's cause."

The Taliban leader looked at the other fighters and shook his head. " Yes, you have come from Kabul to aid our cause and this action will help us - now go!"

Michael grabbed an old pack and his rifle; he walked up to the Taliban leader and stared intently into the man's eyes. The leader backed off. Michael walked away, heading down the rocky path into the village.

As Michael disappeared through the rocks, the Taliban leader turned to his men. " This man is not to be trusted - his head is gone - but he is still to be feared."

~ ~ ~

Nikita paced back and forth in her quarters at Center; she was like a caged animal. Her CD player was turned up full volume - Beverly Klass's 'Temple' rang throughout the room.

'We're pure, intangible love - you ask what I've done for you. A burning inside myself - while the tempest returns. It's been years I would say - the night has been too long, the thunder will move away - we'll stand in the sun. No more grey skies, I will meet you there - we'll stand together ................'

Outside Nikita's door, two operatives stood guard.

Nikita wandered to the window and looked out over the river as it threaded through the city and disappears into the haze. She remembered the many times Michael saved her life, covered for her, helped her - loved her. In her first year as an operative, she had been offered escape from Section; the plan had seemed ironclad - but Michael had intervened. He had made romantic advances; she recalled the mixed feelings flooding through her. The excitement she felt as he caressed her - the magic of his hands on her body and then - the cold, remote, removed Michael returned. There had been so many ups and downs in the relationship.

When she escaped Section and Red Cell after the explosion, Michael had found her, or had she allowed him to find her? The reason she returned to Section was to be with him. He had said, he thought he had lost her. In her anger, she replied, ' You never had me! ' But she knew - Michael had always had her - from the first time she looked deeply into his green eyes. The night he found her on the boat, they had made passionate love - all night. At the time she had marveled. but now, she smirked at his stamina. Before he left for Afghanistan, they had been so much in love and then the baby - he had been truly happy.

The CD on the stereo continued to blast through her quarters. Nikita walked into the bedroom and over to the closet. She grabbed a backpack and began stuffing items of outdoor clothing into it. She reached into a secret drawer behind the shoe shelf and pulled out two guns and ammunition. She then pushed a panel in the rear of the closet - it sprang open, revealing a hidden hallway. Nikita scooped up her pack and guns, entered the passageway and disappeared into the darkness.

~ ~ ~

Michael walked straight into the commando camp, his hands raised, his rifle thrown aside. A British commando on guard, pointed his rifle in Michael's face.

"Get down on your stomach, hands out!!"

Michael complied with the orders as other commandos raced over and quickly searched him.

"Who are you," shouted the first commando.

"I'm undercover ......," stammered Michael.

"This bloke isn't Afghan ... who are you and what do you want," demanded another commando.

"I need food and supplies to take to the underground."

"Underground what...you mean the Taliban!"

An officer approached quickly. "Who is this? Get him up and take him to H.Q. for interrogation!"

The British commando captain paced in front of Michael, who was handcuffed and seated on a wooden chair.

"Look mate, you've got to tell us who you are and why you're working with the Afghan army. If that is indeed what you are doing. And you're not in very good shape."

The officer turned to another commando. "Get the medic in here to look this bloke over."

A medic entered the interrogation room and walked up to Michael, taking out a stethoscope.

"I'm going to examine you, sir .......okay .....?

Michael stared straight ahead .

As the medic continued to examine Michael, the officer shouted at him. " If you don't want to tell us who you are and what your order are - fine. We'll have to ship you to Kandahar and transport you to command headquarters, then to London for further interrogation. You may not fully understand what's happening here. If you're just some foreign do-gooder, thinking you're helping the Afghans - you're mistaken. The British and U. S. governments don't take lightly to any anomalies in Afghanistan." He leaned into Michael's face. "You'd do better for yourself if you told me who you are and what you're doing in the mountains!"

Michael continued to stare ahead.

The officer turned to the medic. "Well, any medical problems?"

"If I'm not mistaken, sir, I think he has a concussion. There's a deep wound on the back of the head. Also, he is dehydrated and malnourished. He seems like he might be suffering some sort of post-traumatic disorder."

"Rubbish! The man's playing games with us. There is more to this man than surface appearances. Prepare him for transport!"

"But sir, it might not be a good idea to move him, especially air travel."

"Prepare him!" The officer turned to another soldier. " Corporal, get him cleaned up, shave the beard and cut off all the long hair. We'll soon get to see what he's hiding!"

~ ~ ~

Nikita threw her backpack and sportsbag with guns and ammunition into the small trunk of her Porsche Boxter. She had put on the leather mission clothes, noting that in another few months or so, the pants would probably not fit. She drove through the rainy streets, neon blue and red signs flashing by her. She thought to herself, "I really should have more of a plan - but, I've had to improvise many times before, why should this be any different. I can feel that Michael is alive."

"I can't trust anyone to assist in finding him....but...maybe....Walter." Nikita pulled her cell phone from the glove compartment and pressed Walter's number.

"Walter?"

"Sugar, is that you - how are you feeling? I hear they have you in lockdown."

"I need a favour."

"Oh, oh - here we go again!"

"Can I meet you in the Tower At Section?"

"What!!"

"Come through the security entrance... no-one will expect to see us there. And please bring that new tracking PDA you've tested."

"Sure Sugar, but what ....... I thought they had you locked .....never mind - why do I always ask."

"Will you meet me there?"

"You know I will."

Walter paced back and forth in the Tower. He looked around and thought, "The place feels haunted ...with Operations and Madeline. Even they needed each other and time to forget Section."

The door opened and Nikita entered. " Thanks for this." She kissed him on the cheek. " How many times over the years have you come to my rescue." She smiled.

Walter shrugged and blushed a little. " You know me, Sugar, I'm all yours."

"Did you bring the new PDA?"

"Sure, but it's only been field tested once."

"Do you think it could pick up Michael's implant transmitter?"

"What! Nikita - Michael is suppose to be dead!"

"He's not ....."

"And how do you know that!"

"I....Walter.... I just know ....."

"Sugar, this is crazy. You're not going looking for him in Afghanistan!"

"Yes."

Walter shook his head and took Nikita's hand. " No, no, no. I can't let you do this!"

"His last known whereabouts was Kabul. There was a suicide bomber in a marketplace....and... Michael was in that market and ..........."

"Yes - and was killed!"

"I....I... don't think so."

Walter took Nikita by the shoulders. "Sugar, I know you love him and with the baby and all, but you must accept he's gone ......"

"No Walter - he's alive. Will you help me!"

Walter walked to the sofa, sat and held his head in his hands. "No Sugar, I won't help this time."

"Fine.... then.... just give me the PDA."

"I can't let you do this!"

Walter got up, walked to a computer and punched in access codes. "I didn't want to show you these."

Images of Michael and Selina flickered onto the screen. "These photos were recovered at the Kabul safehouse after you left.....the girl's name is Selina....she and Michael, well, we don't know for sure, but intel and traces showed....what we do know is they were killed in the marketplace in Kabul."

Nikita's eyes were riveted to the computer screen. "Who was she?"

"Intel shows she was El Quaeda."

Walter walked slowly over to the internal telephone. "Sorry Sugar, I'm calling security - it's for your own good!"

Nikita pulled her revolver out and pointed it at Walter's head. "Don't make me stop you Walter!"

"You won't shoot me, you never could shoot anyone in cold blood."

Nikita's piercing blue eyes bore into Walter. " You may be my first!"

Walter shook his head; his eyes began to tear. "No, no, no!" He slowly replaced the telephone, all the while Nikita pointed her gun at his head. " Okay .....if you must do this madness ....I'll help."

He picked up the PDA and handed it to Nikita. She lowered her gun; tears flowing down her cheeks. She put her arms around Walter and hugged him.

"You're right, I never could have shot you." She looked at him and smiled. " Please don't change your mind about this."

Walter stretched his arms around Nikita, tears streaking down his face.

**********

Chapter 4

Aboard a private charter jet, Nikita and Walter sat going through computer intel on Afghanistan and known El Quaeda hotspots. Nikita looked over at Walter from the computer screen.

"Walter ........"

Walter was busy scanning data from his PDA. " Yes."

"The girl - Selina - do you think she - well her and Michael ......."

"I don't know Sugar. When you and the operatives swept the house they stayed in, there was trace amounts of a very powerful hallucinogenic drug. Michael was probably injected with it; he may not known where or who he was."

Nikita thought of all the times Michael had been a valentine operative for Section and of the times she had been forced to do Valentine op missions. Perhaps that was the reason he was with this woman....this Selina.

~ ~ ~

Michael had been taken out of Afghanistan. He was sedated and shackled to a bed in a concrete cell. His tormented dreams were confused - distorted, but one image was constant - that of Nikita.

Michael awoke to find himself shackled to the cot with a male medic standing over him. An intelligence officer entered the room with two armed guards.

"How is he?"

"He's a bit groggy sir, but he's coming around."

The officer leaned over Michael, "Well, you look different cleaned up. We have some people for you to meet."

The armed guards undid the shackles and got Michael up from the bed, each taking him by an arm and leading him into a large room. The commanding officer entered the room and addressed the assembled military personnel. Michael was placed in a chair, unaware of his surroundings or what was going on.

"Gentlemen, we do not know who this man is but we have intel that he is an undercover agent. We're just not sure which country or side he is working for. He was found in Afghanistan; his dossier is in front of you."

The officer walked behind Michael and spoke again.

"We have come up with a plan to have him join a movie company that is currently filming in Czechoslovkia."

"A movie company?", a high ranking officer questioned. "Why?"

"We have reason to believe the security section he has been working for has been aiding the El Quaeda."

Michael, had been sitting passively with his head lowered. Suddenly he looked up at the officer who has been speaking. This doesn't go unnoticed by the commanding officer.

"Yes! Have I said something that sparked your interest." He chuckled. " Gentlemen, we haven't been able to trace this man's name, his country of origin or the people he is working for, so we will simply be referring to him as the mole."

The high ranking officer who spoke before, spoke again. "What is the point of having him working with this film company in Czechoslovkia?"

"He will be taking the part of a movie extra. Our intel shows that some of the middle eastern crew working on this film are involved in an undercover cell that is aiding El Quaeda. He paused briefly. "That's all I have for you now gentlemen, you will be updated as events take place."

Guards were summoned and Michael was immediately removed from the room and returned to the security cell. He was continually being sedated to control violent outbursts directed at his captors and therefore only somewhat aware of what was going on around him.

After the debriefing, a half dozen coalition security agents sat around a large, oval table at British security headquarters. A civilian intelligence agent from MI-6 rose and addressed the other agents

"I don't see how we can keep surveillance and control over him once he's released on the set of this film company."

The military intelligence officer replied: " There will be another agent with him, who will also be acting as an extra for the film. He will constantly be at his side. What we're hoping for is that the agents for the El Quaeda cell will recognize him and pass on information."

"This sounds risky - how will we retrieve the information? The man is so sedated, he's like a zombie."

"He will have surgically implanted communication devices planted on him. We will be able to monitor him at all times.

************

Chapter 5

A week later, Michael and a British intelligence agent from MI-6 walked onto the set of the film being shot in Czechoslovakia: The film - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Michael and the agent were introduced to the director and producer of the film.

The director gave them the once over. "Yes, you chaps will do nicely for the extra parts."

Michael and the British agent walked to the side of the set for the scene being shot. The producer took the director aside.

"This is crap! I don't like governments getting involved in our business."

"We don't have any choice. If the British government thinks there's undercover cells of El Quaeda working on this movie, we have no choice, we have to co-operate."

"And those two are suppose to find out who the cell members are?"

"Apparently, yes."

At that moment an assistant director walked up to them. "Okay sir, we're ready for the take."

The movie lights came on and the camera rolled. The director yelled, "Action."

A tall, aging, Scottish actor entered the scene; and from the right side of the set, a tall, leggy, blonde actress entered the scene. Michael had been seated, watching the on goings. When he saw the blonde, he stood immediately and started to walk onto the set as the British agent frantically grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

"Hang on! Where the hell to you think you're going!"

Michael couldn't take his eyes off the blonde actress. He whispered, "Ni-ki-ta?"

The director yelled, "Cuttt! Alright, what's the problem here!"

The British agent replied, "Sorry, it looks like he recognized this actress."

The director stormed over to Michael and the agent, "Alright, let's get this over with - I'll introduce you to the lead actors, you seem a little star-struck! But then you must be quiet."

The lead Scottish actor hollered to the director, "What the hell's this about, what's going on here! Who are they anyway?"

The director whispered to the lead actor, "It's a security matter, I'll fill you in later." He looked over at Michael and the British agent. "Alright, come on over, I'll introduce you."

Michael, together with the agent, walked slowly up to the actors while the director made introductions.

"Well, this is Sean Connery," He chuckled. "You may recognize him ..... and this beautiful lady here, is Australian actress, Peta Wilson."

Michael's eyes were riveted to the blonde actress, Peta. They shook hands all round. She smiled at Michael, "How do you do."

"Okay, introductions over - we really do have a movie to make here!" He motioned to Michael and the agent. " If you two could please leave the set entirely, we might get some filming done today."

With that, the British agent started pulling Michael away. Michael's eyes were still riveted to the blonde actress. The agent pulled at Michael's arm, "Come on, mate, we've got to leave, we're holding up production."

Over a week passed, with Michael and the British agent performing walk-on parts in the film. No cast or crew members attempted to make any contact with either of them. At the end of the week, the British agent talked to command headquarters.

"We've been here nearly two weeks, we've been on every part of the movie set and nobody has made contact with us. As a matter of fact, we're being totally ignored - nobody even wants to talk to us about anything. They see us as intruders interrupting production."

"What about the mole? Has he made any attempt at contact or interest in anybody?"

"Only the female lead, but then who wouldn't appear interested in her!"

"What do you mean?"

" Well, it was almost like he seemed to recognize her."

"Interesting. See if you can set up a meeting where they're together - alone."

The next day, the MI-6 agent and Michael walked onto the film compound. They approached one of the cast trailers and knocked on the door. The blonde actress opened the door.

"Sorry to bother you, but I understand it's okay for us to come in and talk to you. Actually, my mate here is a big fan and would like to get an autograph and have a chat, that is if you have the time."

The blonde actress invited them into her trailer. "Here, have a seat. Would you like a drink of something?"

"No, no, no that's not necessary. I'm just going to leave my mate here and be back in a moment. I have a few important things to attend to."

The actress smiled. "He certainly is a quiet one."

"Yes, yes, he doesn't talk much but I know for sure, he's a big fan." The agent left the trailer. The actress smiled at Michael. "Are you sure there isn't anything I can get you?"

Michael said nothing.

"Ahhhh..... your friend said you wanted an autograph. I have some photographs that are autographed." She rummaged around, pulled one out and handed it to Michael.

Michael looked at the photograph and looked up at her. He spoke softly.

"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry to bother you. It's just that - you remind me of somebody - somebody that was ......."

The actress interrupted him and smiled, "That's interesting, you remind me of an actor that I worked with - - or more like a character in a series I did years ago." She laughed, "You even look a bit like him. But that's ridiculous! Anyway - do you have any questions you'd like to ask me?"

Michael got up to leave. "No, I'm sorry I bothered you. Thanks for the picture."

He turned and left the trailer. The actress followed him to the door, shaking her head. "Wow! That was too weird!"

Back at command headquarters, the officer leading up the investigation into Michael's identity, spoke to the British MI-6 agent who had been on the film set with him.

"You're sure there is absolutely nothing."

"Nothing sir. He just sat there and barely said anything to her."

"And what about her?"

"Wellllllll - she thought that maybe he looked like somebody she'd worked with years ago."

"And......"

"I checked it out. It's true, he does kind of look like an actor she worked with on a tv series but, well - it's nothing, absolutely nothing."

"Our intel showed that there was a cell working on that movie set."

"Sir, we couldn't find anything....there was no contact from anyone."

"It may be academic. HQ wants him sent back to London. They have they're own means of finding out who he is... so, arrange for him to be transported to London."

"Sir, I think if we stopped the medication. He's so heavily sedated, he's doesn't know or recognize anything."

"Possibly, if the violent outbursts don't re-occur..... I don't know - there's more to this man than meets the eye. By keeping him sedated, we have control over him. However, nothing has worked yet. Hummmmmmmmmm - this is going to be London's problem anyway - stop sedating him and get him ready for transport to London."

~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, aboard the private jet, Walter motioned to Nikita, "Hey Sugar, you look tired, why not get a little sleep before we land?"

"You're right Walter, maybe I will."

Nikita went into the sleeping compartment on the jet and layed down. But sleep wouldn't come.

She began to think back of how surprised Michael had been at her announcement of the pregnancy. All Section operatives had been sterilized and therefore he naturally wanted to know how she had avoided the procedure. She recalled how the announcement had taken place.

Nikita was in the Section medical, recovering from minor wounds received on a mission and the doctors had confirmed that in addition to her leg wound being superficial, that she was pregnant. She sat opposite Adrian in a lounge chair in her medical room.

"You seemed to have recovered completely, my dear," smiled Adrian.

"Yes, I feel good."

"Answer me one thing - how did you avoid the sterilization of female operatives?"

Nikita laughed playfully. " I must have been away that day!"

"I didn't support Madeline and Operations program of sterilization but I'm curious how you avoided it."

Nikita smiled. " You've read my file - I didn't actually co-operate with them on anything."

"True - but they had a testing program - and let's not kid ourselves, Nikita, you were a female valentine op who had to perform ........"

Nikita laughed. "I always knew I would be making decisions about my life someday, and besides the doctor performing the operations owed me a favor."

"Very well, but now you are with child, your roll in Section will change."

"Adrian - you know what I really want ......"

"Yes dear, I know, but your father has a role for you to perform at Section ......you must tell him of the pregnancy."

"Do you think he will ever let Michael and I ......."

Just then Michael stormed into the room. Adrian got up and walked by him.

"I'll leave you two, I'm sure you have things to discuss."

Michael had gone to Nikita and wrapped his arms around her. She held him tightly.

"Ni-ki-ta. I thought I had lost you! The mission reports stated you had been shot!"

"A minor leg wound....I'm fine. I'm so glad you're here..... I have some news to tell you. Maybe you should sit down."

"What ......what's wrong .....

"Michael .....I'm, I'm pregnant .....with your child."

" I don't understand .....a baby?"

"Yes."

"But I always thought Madeline's procedure had been performed on you."

"That was one thing Madeline didn't do to me."

"But how did you manage to not ....."

Nikita smiled. " Michael, surely you know about birth control."

"But how did you get pregnant ...."

Nikita laughed. "The old fashioned way!"

" ou stopped taking the pills ....but why ...."

"Did it not ever occur to you that I wanted your child."

Adrian suddenly re-entered the room, "Sorry ...but Nikita your father is at Center and wants to see you and Michael as soon as you're strong enough."

************

Chapter 6

Nikita twisted and turned in the jet's sleeping compartment, recalling the time she and Michael had met with her father.

Michael and Nikita entered a large office at Center Headquarters. Mr. Jones sat behind a massive desk. He struggled getting up from the desk, and grasping his cane, he walked up to Nikita attempting to put his arm around her; she backed off.

"Nikita, Adrian says you have news."

Nikita glanced over at Michael. " What - you haven't been told - I'm surprised."

Michael spoke quietly. "She's going to have a child."

Nikita's father glanced back and forth between his daughter and the man before him.

"Ahhhhhhhhhh, I might have suspected as much." He walked back to his desk. " I have news also. In discussion with Adrian and George, I have decided to grant you special status in Section, Nikita. And in light of your news, it becomes all the more important. You and Michael can have your own home and now...." He surveyed Nikita. " ...... a nanny for your child .....in a way ...a real life."

"But we still belong to Section," questioned Nikita.

"Yes."

Nikita walked to the window and gazed at the street far below. "That is no real life."

Michael went to her, putting his arm around her waist and whispered, "We will find a way."

"But - there is a catch. In exchange for this special status - we have a mission for you in Afghanistan. The El Quaeda are suspected of possessing a nuclear device. You will mount a mission, travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and locate that device."

"Why aren't the British special ops doing this mission?"

Mr. Jones ignored Michael's question. " You, Steel and Nikita will travel as journalists, enter Afghanistan and locate the device. Do you agree to the mission?"

"Yes...but Nikita will not go - remember she's pregnant."

"Michael, I'll be alright!"

Mr. Jones tapped his fingers on the desk. "Hummmm, yes Michael is correct - only Steel and he will go."

"But......!"

"No arguments Nikita!"

~ ~

Nikita sat up abruptly. The private jet had lost altitude suddenly, having hit a small air pocket. She returned to join Walter; he sat dozing, the plane's maneuver hadn't wakened him. Nikita smiled and placed a blanket on him, then placed the computer before her and began, punching in codes. Walter had connected the tracking PDA to the computer; Nikita sat peering at the screen.

Hummmm...... Michael's transmitter is intermittent but still transmitting. What had Steel to do with Michael's disappearance and why had her father insisted he accompany Michael to Afghanistan?

Nikita punched in more codes and began downloading an image file.

A picture appeared before her eyes - it was Selina and Michael; the woman holding Michael's head in her arms.

Nikita touched the screen, Michael - where are you and who is this woman ........

~ ~ ~

Michael and four security guards arrived at a secluded military airport outside London England. Michael was not sedated and therefore becoming more aware of his circumstances; he was beginning to recall some of the past events in Afghanistan. He still could not remember who the woman was that was killed in the marketplace in Kabul: he still believed she was Nikita.

Michael was placed in a holding cell for the night. The next morning, two security guards and Michael drove through the streets of London. As they approached Picadilly, the car slowed and stopped.

"What's the matter!" shouted the guard in the rear seat handcuffed to Michael.

"More celebration parades for the Queen. The traffic's blocked for miles."

"Damn! We're in for it if we don't get this bloke to MI-6 immediately."

"I'll pull over there....we're not too far .... let's get out and walk, it'll be faster.

The guard shackled to Michael looked worriedly around. " I don't know ...what if.....oh, what the hell! Come on."

The two guards exited the car with Michael, "We better take the cuffs off - too many people will start gawking."

"Right.....he's spaced out anyway...not likely to do a runner."

Michael's handcuffs were removed and the three men started pushing their way through the crowds. At that moment, a group of young women bump into the men. One woman walked up to Michael and stood directly in front of him, blocking his movements.

"Hey! Aren't you ......!" She turned to her friends. " You know, that hotty actor from ....."

"You're right Julie! It is him! Can we get your autograph!"

"It is HIM!!!!"

Michael looked taken aback and startled by the women. The guards stepped forward and started to push the women aside.

"Hey back off mate! We only want his autograph!"

As the guards dealt with the women, Michael backed away, turned and slipped into the crowd, disappearing into the throng. The guards turned, looking frantically around.

"Where the hell did he go?!!!"

"Oh shit, if we've lost him ......we're ......"

Michael slipped away, consumed by the mass of spectators filling the streets. He walked quickly for over an hour until he found himself in Hyde Park. Turning down a narrow pathway, he glimpsed a blond woman pushing a baby carriage. Michael began following her. The blond woman sat on a park bench and bent over the carriage to give the baby a bottle. Michael walked up to the woman; she looked up suddenly.

"Oh my God, it's you again!"

" I didn't mean to startle you."

The woman looked shaken, "I met you in Prague on the film set, right?"

"...... yes, I think so."

"What are you doing in London?"

"I'm ....I'm getting ready to return to ......where I came from."

"Oh, well, what a coincidence seeing you again."

"Why are you in London?"

"I have a few days off from filming, so I came to London." She motioned to the baby. Actually I made a special trip so James' grandfather could see him."

"Grandfather?"

"Yes, you may have heard of him, he's an actor - Richard Harris."

"No - sorry." Michael bent over the carriage and looked closely at the baby. " I was going to be a father....."

"Oh?"

"Yes my child and the mother were killed by a suicide bomber."

"Oh.... how horrible! I'm so sorry. Where? Where were they killed?"

"In Afghanistan."

"I don't understand - why were you there? I thought you were an actor."

"Actor? No - I've never been an actor."

The blonde woman looked puzzled. "What....I'm afraid I don't understand...."

"Your child is beautiful."

"Maybe some day you will have another child."

"I don't think so. The mother of my child....that was killed....well....she.....I don't think I could love another woman."

The blonde woman bit her lower lip. "Would you like to hold my baby?"

Michael paused momentarily. " No - I better be going."

Michael stood staring at the woman and her baby, then walked slowly away. The blonde woman sat shaking her head. "This is getting to be too strange!"

************

Chapter 7

After leaving Hyde Park, Michael wandered the streets of London until dusk.

He came upon a small bistro, entered and ordered an espresso. As the waiter went to get the coffee, Michael suddenly realized he was without any money. He smiled to himself.

Hummm, I better look after that.

He got up and left, walking until he arrived at an internet café . He sat at a computer terminal and punched in codes and passwords, transferring money to an account in his name at Barclays Bank. He left the internet café and went to an ATM and withdrew $30,000 in US currency.

Michael felt a fatigue and re-occuring headache coming over him. He spotted a small up-scale hotel and took a room for the night. Once in his room, he showered and ordered food from room service. He toyed with the food but drank a full bottle of wine then went to lay on the bed with only a towel wrapped around his waist; tossing and turning, he cast the towel on the floor and pulled a sheet over his naked body.

The coolness of the sheets felt good on his skin. Images drifted before him as he closed his eyes.

Jazz music drifted into the room from a club across the street; blue and red neon flickered on and off, reflecting on the walls. Michael's mind was obsessed with thoughts of Nikita.

Could he ever live without her? And the loss of his child she was carrying.

Tears ran down the side of his face.

"Ni-ki-ta. I love you....and yet I found it so difficult to tell you that."

He got up suddenly and walked to the window. He stood, his nakedness and arousal, present to any person on the street. He grabbed the curtain and pulled it over the window, and returned to the bed. He sat and stared at nothing.

He would return to Afghanistan; to the cottage he had shared with 'Nikita'. He would fight again with the rebels.

He mused, Strange the British government bringing me to London. Why would they think I'm more than just a rebel fighter? My memories are...was there another life....a different place I lived? And how did I know the protocol for obtaining money from computers? What is in my past that allows me to remember that procedure?

He shook his head, the headache pounding in his temples. My memories are gone.....all except those of Ni-ki-ta.

The next morning, Michael entered a motorcycle dealership and purchased a powerful bike and clothing for his trip across Europe. He had a plan now - bike to Greece, meet up with underground rebels and then make his way back to Afghanistan. But first he would need fake documents - that shouldn't prove difficult. He made a phone call and spoke to a man who agreed to supply a passport and identity papers for 5,000 pounds. When the man asked Michael how he knew about him, Michael looked puzzled and said, "I'm....not...I have certain memories that supply me with what I need." The man laughed, taking the money, "Well that's handy."

Michael straddled the motorcycle and sped out of London.

~ ~ ~

Nikita and Walter set up a command centre in a hotel in Pakistan. Walter felt there would be a better chance of gaining intel from Pakistan than from war-torn Afghanistan. They had just finished connecting all the computer and communication devices up in their hotel suite. The cover was that they worked for Australian and Canadian broadcasting companies and therefore needed a variety of communication feeds.

Walter sat in front of a bank of computers " You're right, Nikita, Michael's transmitter is very weak. It could be ..... well, maybe someone stole the transmitter and has it in the mountains."

"You still don't believe he's alive, do you Walter."

"Well Sugar, all the intel points to the bombing in that marketplace and he was definitely there, we know that for sure."

"Then how do you explain the transmitter. We were all implanted with them... you're not going to tell me, someone stole it from his body!"

"Sugar - I don't know. I'm a little out of my depth here."

Nikita walked over to Walter and put her arm around his shoulder. " I'm sorry Walter, I know how it looks but....how can I convince you -- I just know he's still alive."

************

Chapter 8

Walter looked up at Nikita, "......you think he's alive .....love will do that."

Nikita kissed him gently on the cheek. "I can't explain it - I just know."

Walter smiled grimly. "You got a point about the transmitter though. Damn, I wish Birkoff was here - he could come up with a full trace pattern. It'll take me hours, maybe days to figure the co-ordinates out."

"You can do it Walter. In the meantime, I'm going to make a trip to the British military command. They might have more information about the blast in the marketplace."

"Okay, I'll keep plugging away here. Good luck, Sugar."

Nikita grabbed her coat and started to leave. "Walter, I couldn't do this without you - you know that."

Walter grinned. "I know Sugar."

Nikita sat in a waiting room at British Command Headquarters. An orderly approached her.

"I'm sorry ma'am. The commander is still tied up. He said to tell you, that he is not really available to talk to the media today."

Nikita smiled. "His name again is......"

"Commander Firestone. ma'am."

"Thank you."

Nikita got up and left the waiting room, then walked down a long corridor, making note of the room numbers on the floor. She entered a room, half way down the hall; another orderly looked up from his desk. "May I help you?"

Nikita smiled and walked up to the orderly. "Hi, I think I'm lost. I'm looking for Commander Firestone's office." She leaned into the orderly "Can you help me?"

The orderly blushed, obviously taken with Nikita's beauty. "Ah, ah, oh, well....it's down the hall, ma'am."

"Oh, right. I think I might have just missed him then.....I was suppose to meet him for lunch. Do you know his itinerary, maybe I can catch up with him."

"Well.... oh.....yes....you know him then.........?"

Nikita smiled. "Yes, you could say, we're..... very good friends."

"Yes.....well...."

"He's going to be very disappointed if we don't get together today."

The orderly shuffled papers on his desk. "Let's see.... well he should be leaving at 01400 hours for inspection of ordinance."

Nikita brushed the orderly's cheek. "Thanks. Oh, and I hope he's shaved that little moustache and goatee off - it tickles so much."

"He....he never had a goatee but.....ah, still has the moustache."

"How silly of me, that must have been the commander at the American command. Thanks, you've been a real help."

"Right....fine...anything....at all...."

Nikita left the office and went to the command parking lot. She sat in her Land Rover and waited; within an hour a British officer came walking through the lot. Nikita got out of her car and approached him.

"Excuse me sir, I wonder if I could have a word."

The officer looked somewhat startled. "Yes."

"I don't know how to start...ah, what to say...you see my brother was killed in Kabul recently and I want to know where he is buried."

"He was in the British army?"

"Well no." She looked around suspiciously. "He was....undercover for the British government."

The officer also looked around the parking lot. "I don't understand."

"Is there somewhere we can go to talk - I really need to find out what happened to him."

"This isn't the correct procedure - you need to go to military personnel."

"I just told you - he was working covertly."

"Look, I don't know who you are but this is most......!"

Nikita started crying. "Oh please, I've come all the way to Pakistan to find my brother. You see I don't think he was really killed!"

"Miss, I don't think I can help you.....I...ah..."

"Can we just talk then....."

"Talk.....?"

"Please, some place quiet."

"I don't know......" The officer glanced around the lot nervously. "Oh, very well, there's a small café a few minutes from here ......come, get in my car..... we can go there."

Nikita and the officer drove to the café and sat waiting as a waiter brought them coffees.

"Well, what you tell me is puzzling but there was a chap." He stopped mid-sentence. "I'm really sorry but I can't discuss military matters."

"You just started telling me something!"

"I know." The officer shook his head. " Look - this is most unconventional. I'd like to help you but ....I can't.....I should take you back to your car now.....I shouldn't have brought you here."

He rose from his chair and motioned for Nikita to follow.

Upon returning to the command parking lot, Nikita got into her waiting Land Rover; she sat and waited as the officer gunned his car and drove away. She began punching codes into a tracking device attached to a small PDA and started the car. She followed the officer at a safe distance until he pulled up to an apartment house and entered. Nikita waited in her car, then darted to the apartment entrance. She slipped an entrance device into the door and pushed the door open. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, she looked around furtively, then knocked on the officer's door.

The officer opened the door slowly. " My God, what are you....how did you get in here!"

Nikita started crying. "Please, please, you are the only one I can depend on!"

She collapsed into the officer's arms, feigning a faint. He brought her into the apartment and helped her to the sofa.

"Look, I don't know who you are! I know you've told me your story but....well I can't help you!"

Nikita drabbed at her tear stained cheeks. "Do you have anything to drink?"

"Yes, water...ahhhh.... tea...."

"No, something stronger, please."

"I have brandy....and....wine...."

Nikita smiled shyly as the officer poured her a brandy, hesitated then poured himself one also.

Nikita swirled the brandy in the glass, remembering her pregnancy. The officer knocked back his whole glass and sat beside her; she got up and crouched before him. The officer jumped slightly at her unexpected move; he looked into her tear stained blue eyes.

"Look, I'll try to help you....but there's only so much I can do..."

"I'm sure you can do anything you want."

The officer smiled. "Well, no....."

Nikita got up and returned to his side, touching his face, outlining his cheeks and eyelashes. She leaned in to kiss him; he pulled back slowly, inhaling his breath.

"Well ..... I could try to find out more about your brother ...it might be him we had transported to London."

"London?" questioned Nikita.

"I can't tell you any more now. You really must go now....I'm expecting a fellow officer here any moment...... look I'll meet you tomorrow - I'll see what I can find out..."

Nikita got up to leave; the officer following her to the door. She kissed him gently on the lips, the officer began breathing deeply and stammered.

".......look we'll meet at Talimali park at 1300 hours, that's one o'clock. I won't be in uniform, I'll find out what I can ....then...well maybe we can get together for dinner and..."

"You're so sweet to do this for me. And yes, I'd love to have dinner with you and later...." She kissed him again, this time more passionately. "....well...we'll see.."

She turned and slunk down the hallway, the officer watching the sway of her hips. He shut the door slowly, breathing heavily. "My God, beautiful women like this one don't enter my life every day."

~ ~ ~

Michael steered the motorcycle towards the English coast and the customs and immigration line for entry into France via the Chunnel. A customs official took his passport and identity papers and entered the information into a computer. The customs man peered at Michael.

"Please take off your helmet sir."

Michael removed the helmet and looked directly at the customs officer. The customs man nodded.

"Very well sir, you can enter the line to proceed."

Michael put his helmet back on and pulled the motorcycle slowly into the line of traffic entering the tunnel under the Channel to France.

~ ~ ~

The next day, Nikita drove to the park the officer had mentioned. The streets were crowded and the traffic heavy. She entered the park and found a place to leave the car. Before exiting the Land Rover, she checked her make-up and hair, musing to herself.

I hope this guy breaks with the intel I need; I'm not in the mood to go full measure with him.

The officer drove up in a convertible; Nikita dashed to the car and jumped in smiling.

"You look very handsome out of uniform."

"Oh, thanks. Look we should go somewhere quiet, and not my flat... somewhere we can be alone...."

"Fine. What do you have in mind?"

"There's a small hotel I noticed the other day.. ...very upscale and private."

Nikita smiled sheepishly. " Sounds great."

They drove through the crowded streets out into the countryside. The officer did not talk during the trip. Nikita placed her hand on his leg and smiled; the officer breathed deeply. The convertible whisked into the driveway of the small hotel and they got out and walked to the front desk.

"Yes, my wife and I would like a room please, overlooking the courtyard.... and send some champagne up to our room."

The desk clerk nodded knowingly. "Yes sir, ahhhhh, Mr. Smith."

Nikita and the officer walked into the hotel room. She went out on the balcony and peered at the distant mountains.

"Everything alright?" questioned the officer.

"I guess, but I just can't help but worry about my brother. Did you find out anything?"

There was a knock at the door; the officer opened it and took the champagne from the attendant; he tipped the man and closed the door.

The officer opened the bottle and poured the champagne into two long stemmed glasses.

"Here....have some of this bubbly."

"Thank you.......but did you find out any more about my brother's whereabouts?"

"You know this is highly irregular.....I shouldn't be telling you..."

"You have some information!"

"Yes, from the description you gave, there was a man who came down from the mountains, walked right into a command post even. He appeared to be fighting with the Taliban rebels but he was white and either French or something." The officer searched in his jacket. " Here I have a sketch of him..... anyway, Command felt he was an undercover agent for the Taliban. He was interrogated here but to no avail so....."

"And what!"

"He was transported to London for further interrogation."

"When?"

"Oh, over a month ago. Apparently they had him and an agent go undercover on a film in Prague."

"What on earth for?"

"There was information a rebel cell was working on the film, it was hoped he would contact them."

"And did he?"

"Don't really know, I couldn't find out anymore."

"Is he still in London?"

"I would think so. My information is somewhat limited."

The officer walked over to Nikita, reached out and pulled her to him.

"Now I got you what you wanted, let's not kid ourselves, I think we both want the same thing!"

He smiled and started kissing Nikita, rubbing his hands up her back and stroking her breasts.

She pushed him back and smiled.

"Why so fast, let's make this memorable. Go sit on the bed and loosen your clothes. I'll take mine off, slowly, just for you. I'll be just a minute in the bathroom."

The officer obeyed, quickly removing his jacket, shirt and pants. He sat on the bed, then nervously removed his socks. He started to remove his underwear but stopped; he laid back on the bed.

"Hey, what's taking you so long!"

Nikita came out of the bathroom still fully clothed.

"What......I thought you were going to.....", stammered the officer.

Nikita grinned slyly. " Quiet. I said I was going to take them off for you."

She climbed onto the bed and stood over the officer. He swallowed hard and breathed deeply. She straddled him and leaned over to whisper in his ear.

"I have something special for you."

She began taking all her clothes off, except for her undergarments. Nikita kissed the officer passionately. , his eyes rolled back and he immediately passed out. She removed a lipstick cover from her lips and place it in her bag, then took out a small syringe and injected the officer's arm.

" Sorry my friend, but when you wake, you'll only remember the wonderful time you think you had."

She pulled on her clothes, checked the room and exited.

Once downstairs, she jammed the key into the ignition of the officer's convertible and raced back towards the city.

***********

Chapter 9

After entering France and passing through customs, Michael headed to the south of France until he reached the French Riviera. He decided to spend the night in a Pensione in St. Tropez, and after checking into his room, he wandered outside and sat at a sidewalk cafe, sipping wine, while looking out at the sea. Nikita and he had spent some downtime on a yacht offshore from St. Tropez. He recalled the special time they had together after rowing ashore and walking the beach.

He closed his eyes to make the memory more real - they had built a small fire, had a light dinner with wine and then made tender love as the moon and stars illuminated their bodies. After their lovemaking, he recalled how Nikita had run naked into the sea, teasing him 'to come and catch her if he could'. Michael had raced into the sea, diving into the water. He swam out to her and dove under, grabbing her legs and flipping her over his shoulder. She had yelled, 'Michael - not fair - a wave put me off balance'. She clung to him, her arms tightly wrapped around his neck; she whispered in his ear over the crash of waves. 'Michael I want you, take me here'. Michael had laughed and replied, 'That would be some balancing act with the waves crashing on us!'

Nikita had laughed and shouted, 'Michael Samuelle, nothing has stopped you before.'

With that she withdrew one arm from his neck and reached down and grasped his erect manhood. She guided his penis into her; at the same time a large wave crashed over them. They both fell over and went under the water. Michael's arms grabbed Nikita and pushed her to the surface. He rose to the surface, looking around to find her. Nikita was laughing, 'Alright - maybe there are some circumstances even you can't perform to your usual standard!'

With that comment, Michael grasped Nikita under the arms, she wrapped her legs around his waist and buttocks. His eyes twinkled, with water glistening on his eyelashes.

'Try again', he commanded. Once again she grasped his erect member and inserted him into her throbbing opening. Michael moved up and down with the action of the waves; he held her with one arm holding her upper body and the other pushing her bottom together with his thrusting movements. They could both feel the moment of climax coming as a huge wave burst over them. Nikita was thrown over onto Michael; they held on together, their bodies still joined as the explosion of climax coursed threw them at the same time. They drifted, still joined as the ocean pushed their spent bodies ashore until they lay at the edge of the water. Nikita rolled off Michael and smiled, stroking his chest, 'I take it back Michael Samuelle, you can perform anywhere!'

Michael's thoughts were interrupted by the waiter asking him if he would like to order food. He looked up.

"Maybe later, I'll just finish my wine." Michael continued to stare out at the sea.

~ ~ ~

Nikita returned to the hotel to find Walter still working over tracer computer codes. Walter looked up and grinned at the revealing clothing Nikita was wearing as she walked into the suite.

"The military needed a little extra convincing, Sugar?"

"Well yes, you could say that. But I have intel that puts Michael in London."

"London?"

"Yes they apparently transported him there for further interrogation."

"Why were they interrogating him - what do they think he has done?"

"British intelligence thinks he's working for El Quaeda and the Taliban rebels."

"What!"

"He walked out of the mountains right into a British command post. They interrogated him but found out nothing."

So Michael is alive! You know Sugar I really doubted it but now - are you sure it is him?"

"An officer showed me a picture."

"Hummmmmm..... Michael - what the hell are you doing and with the Taliban and El Quaeda.?"

"Walter his actions are bizarre - could the drugs we found in Kabul or maybe the explosion have affected him?"

"Something sure is."

"Let's pack up - we're going to London," smiled Nikita.

"Sugar - your father and the whole of Centre are tracking us. We're barely one step ahead of them now."

"Fine, we'll get a different private jet and our pilot's reliable - we're paying him enough for his silence."

"Well as long as you can keep accessing money accounts that can't be traced - I guess anything's possible."

Nikita smiled and kissed Walter.

Walter blushed. " Sugar you know what affect that has on me.... come on let's pack up all this gear."

Once Nikita and Walter arrived in London, they took up residence on a houseboat. The quarters were somewhat cramped but their cover on the houseboat was more secure than hotels.

Walter sat at the bank of computers. "Your hunch was correct, Sugar, Michael's transmitter is showing a stronger signal."

"Then he could be in London now?"

"Maybe. What's your plan?"

"Well.....I have to admit, I don't really have one....other than trying the U.S. diplomatic reception you keyed into."

Walter looked into Nikita eyes, realizing the stress of the mission was starting to show, in addition to her morning sickness, which today had left her nauseous and remaining in bed until the nausea subsided.

Walter had brought tea and dry biscuits to Nikita. He had been on the telephone with an old operative flame of his, and she had advised him of the morning sickness remedy. They had reminisced of the old missions they had been on.

That afternoon, Nikita had Walter drive her to the US diplomatic reception. Walter had wanted to accompany her but Nikita had refused, saying she worked better alone.

"Sugar.... you've been kind of under the weather - with the.....you know......"

"Morning sickness. It'll subside. Your contact...the former MI-6 operative... I had a good talk with her about how to handle it."

"It'll take more than tea and biscuits, Sugar."

Nikita smiled at Walter and exited the car, "I'll check in with you in two hours."

She entered the front doors of the mansion. A butler took her wrap and false invitation and showed her into the main ballroom. Nikita drifted into the maze of people, making her way to the bar. She ordered a mineral water and stood sipping the drink when a man approached her from behind.

"Anna is that you?"

Nikita wheeled around quickly. " Helmut, Helmut Volker!"

"Is it really you Anna?"

"My name isn't Anna - it's Nikita."

"You saved my life two years ago but.....who are you working for?"

Nikita hesitated before answering, glancing around, she whispered. "I'm an operative for Section One."

"Good God no, not Section One." he whispered back.

"I'm glad to see that you're still alive, I thought they would have tracked you down and killed you."

"Well unfortunately, I've had to revert back to some of the illegal ways I was using when I was an undercover Interpol agent. That's how I've managed to avoid detection. But what are you doing here in London?"

"I'm trying to find an operative that has gone missing."

"Are you having any luck?"

"Well I thought I was but his trail is running cold. He escaped from the British military and has left London now."

"So what are your plans?"

"That's why I came here tonight....I thought there might be some intel...... then maybe I can trace him across Europe."

Helmut looked longingly at Nikita. "Will you join me for a late dinner?"

"I don't know Helmut, I don't think....."

"Anna...or Nikita, isn't it. I owe you my life - at least I can buy you a dinner."

Nikita smiled, "Very well."

Later that evening Helmut and Nikita sat in a French restaurant; he began to pour her some wine.

"Just one glass thanks," she said.

"Oh really....."

She smiled, "I'm watching my alcohol intake."

"This operative you're looking for, he's important to you?"

"Yes, his name is Michael. You may remember him as Freddy, the heroine dealer."

"What! He's an operative for Section One also - Freddy!"

"Yes."

Helmut looked into Nikita's eyes. " He's more than just an operative, right? He's someone very special to you, isn't he."

"Yes, he is special to me - I'm carrying his child."

Helmut swallowed hard and blinked his eyes. "How can I help you Nikita?"

"You'd be putting yourself in danger - exposing your identity."

"Perhaps I have more means at my disposal than you and Section."

"Well to be perfectly honest - Section and Centre are tracking me - you see - well - my father, at Centre.... thinks Michael is dead ." She looked away. "I feel he had something to do with what's happened to Michael."

"Your father....at Centre...."

"It's a long story - I don't want to burden you with the details."

"Hummmmm..... I understand - more protocol. But I want to help - in any way I can. Perhaps some discreetly place probes. Do you have a picture of Michael?"

"I won't ask you to help. Not after what was done to you."

"I'm not doing this for Section - I'm doing this for you Nikita!"

************

Chapter 10

Two American CIA agents walked into the motorcycle dealership in London and showed a picture of Michael to the salesman.

"Did you sell a motorcycle to this man?" barked the agent.

"Yes, he looks similar to a bloke who bought a bike a few weeks back."

"Did he happen to give you any information as to where he might be traveling to?"

"No, not really but he bought packs and everything to carry gear on his bike."

"You mean equipment like he was traveling a long distance?"

"Yes, that's right."

The two CIA agents left the motorcycle dealership and returned to their vehicle. The older agent swung their car back into the London traffic.

"Let's start checking all exit immigration points. This guy is probably on the continent.... we'll put out information to every border crossing in Europe.... we're going to nail this scum. My gut feeling is he's the one responsible for all the bombings of our embassies."

"What makes you think he's the one."

"I don't know, I just have a gut feeling..... and these damn Brits let him escape....these tea baggers think they know everything about intelligence and terrorist tactics - but they haven't got a clue - and then they let him escape!"

"But. MI-6 stated they had the border checked."

"Yeah, but he made his move fast - he was probably out of this country before they had the smarts to do border checks. Come on, let's get back to headquarters!"

As Michael made his way out of France and approached the Italian border, he slowed his motorcycle. For some reason he had an uneasy feeling. He drove the motorcycle up onto a hill that overlooked the border crossing at Ventimiglia. He took out his binoculars and scanned the activity at the crossing, thinking to himself.

Perhaps this traveling across the continent had not been smart, maybe he should have arranged a flight back to Afghanistan from a discreet airport that wouldn't have drawn any suspicion.

He initially felt his plan had been sound, to fly from Rome to Palermo, to Athens and then into Beirut. From there he felt he could make contact with the rebels and they could smuggle him back into Afghanistan. But now he had this uneasy feeling. He would have to find an unofficial route across the border into Italy. He scanned the horizon with his binoculars. He could see a series of secondary roads, even dirt roads north of where he stood. He got back on the bike and retraced his tracks into Menton from where he had come from, then headed north out of Menton on highway 204 and drove for a short distance. Once again he pulled the bike over and walked up onto a hill; he scanned the horizon with his binoculars.

Hummm, I will have to go cross country, there are no undetectable routes crossing the border into Italy.

While in Paris, Michael had taken steps to alter his appearance. He had dyed his hair a lighter color and used cosmetic applications to make himself look younger. The techniques were time activated, and were now taking affect.

Michael left the road and proceeded to drive carefully overland. He drove for a least two hours, then stopped; took out a directional locator disguised as a camera, and took readings.

I must be inside the Italian border by now.

He calculated the time and direction he had been travelling overland and figured he was at least 20 kms inside Italy. He left the bike and walked up onto a bluff and once again, scanned the horizon. In the distance he could see a secondary highway and a small village. Returning to his bike, he gunned the motorcycle until he reached the highway.

As Michael proceeded along the road, the motorcycle slowed until suddenly the engine stopped. He got off the bike and pulled off the carburetor cover.

He got out a small tool kit and started working on the motorcycle. The heat of the day was oppressive, so Michael stripped off the leather jacket and his t-shirt.

The sweat glistened on his shoulders and back as he worked to remove dirt from the oil soaked engine. After half and hour, a Fiat drove towards Michael along the road. He peered into the hazy distance as a young girl steered the small car towards him. She slowed and stopped the vehicle; got out of the car, speaking Italian and then quickly switching to English.

"Oh, I see you are from England..... you have troubles with your motorcycle?"

Michael stood up, "Yes, a small mechanical problem, but I'm afraid I need a part."

The young girl scanned Michael's glistening body and his tight black jeans; her eyes widened, as the sunlight reflected on her spiked hair.

"I can give you a ride to St. Michele or even to Cuneo. But those are such small towns, I'm afraid they won't have parts for such an expensive motorbike. You might have to go all the way into Torino."

Michael smiled at the girl. "I appreciate your kindness...let me just push the bike behind those trees over there and I"ll get my things."

As Michael manoevered the bike, the girl looked away and spoke to herself under her breath, "Oh, my God, where did this beautiful man come from!"

Michael threw his packs in the back of the Fiat and after putting his t-shirt back on, got into the car. The girl smiled at him, "It is a very hot day, today!" "Yes," replied Michael.

As they entered Cuneo, the girl pulled into an automotive center. Michael got out and asked in Italian for the part he needed. The mechanic shook his head and stated that for such a part, they would have to go into Torino. Michael returned to the Fiat, "You were correct, I will have to go to Torino for the part. But I don't want to impose on you to take me there."

The girl smiled, "Oh that will be no problem at all. I live in a small town, Carnagnola, just south of Torino, and I don't mind at all taking you there. But it's late now...the shops will be closed.... why don't you come and stay with me and my sister."

"I don't want to impose."

"It will be no problem." She laughed. "Besides, what else will you do.... I can't just leave you on the highway."

Michael smiled again, "You are very kind.... thank you - I accept your hospitality ..... oh, I like your hair - it becomes you ....."

The girl laughed nervously and stammered, "I change it - the color and style - to my mood - every day."

They drove through the small town of Carnagnola and up to a small, whitewashed cottage. The girl pulled a small pack with fresh vegetables from the Fiat as Michael shouldered his packs; they entered the house.

"My older sister will be home from work and then we can eat dinner together."

Michael smiled, "Is there anything I can do to help? Can I offer you some money for the food and help with the preparation?"

The girl looked longingly at Michael and stammered, "No, no there's nothing for you to do!"

At that moment, the telephone rang. The girl answered and after speaking in hushed tones, she hung up the receiver.

"That was my sister..... she must go to my aunt's, who is not well. My sister will not return this evening." She smiled. "So I guess it is just you and me to eat dinner."

Michael looked at the girl, who was about 17 or 18 years old, "I'm sorry, where are my manners, I don't even know your name."

"My name is Carmana.""I am called Michael."

After eating a leisurely dinner and finishing off a bottle of wine, Carmana invited Michael to come and view the garden. "This is my sister's favourite place."

"It is beautiful. Do just you and your sister live here?"

"Yes, my parents died in an automobile accident."

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, it was a long time ago. We were brought up by our aunt, the one that's not well."

The girl danced around Michael, "But you haven't told me anything about yourself, where were you heading to?"

"I'm just touring around Europe......I want to see Italy now."

The girl took Michael's hand, "You know ......you are very....what's the English word for it....you are a very handsome man." She blushed.

Michael smiled pulling his hand back. "It's been a very long day, I think I'll get my sleeping bag and rest on that hammock over there."

"You don't have to sleep outside, you can have my sister's room."

"Thank you, but I would prefer to sleep outside."

The young girl looked disappointed. "Very well......then....good night."

"Good night."

Michael lay on the hammock: but sleep would not come.

I must get the bike repaired...... but if I hide out here for awhile - if the military are still searching for me......

He tossed in the hammock and finally fell asleep. His dreams were taunted with images of Nikita.

The next morning Michael and Carmana drove into Torino. They searched for the motorcycle part but to no avail. They stopped to have lunch at an outside café and were just finishing their meal when a police car pulled up and two officers entered the café, scanning the customers. They held an artists rendering of a picture resembling Michael. They walked up to him. "Your papers, sir!"

Michael offered his passport and papers to the police officer. Carmana was startled as the policeman examined the papers, looked at each other, and spoke Italian in hushed tones. They could not decide if Michael was the correct person they had been on the lookout for. They started arguing with each other and then one officer handed Michael his papers back. The policemen left the café but remained seated in their police car.

Michael whispered to Carmana, "We must be going, but not from here.... enter the cafe and we will leave separately from a rear door."

Carmana looked worriedly at Michael as they rose and entered the café. Spotting a rear exit, Michael took Carmana's arm and led her out.

"Please get your car and meet me at the end of the street."

Carmana rushed away to the vehicle as Michael went in the opposite direction to the front street. Spotting Michael, Carmana pulled the Fiat up to Michael and they sped off.

"What was that all about? Why are the police questioning you?"

"I'm sorry, I don't want to get you involved.....but I guess they are tracking me."

"What did you do?"

"I took some money from the company I worked for. They had cheated me and my family so I decided to get revenge and just took the money."

"Was this in England? Why are they looking for you here in Italy?"

"No it was in France - in Nice. That's why I was on the road I was - I didn't want to cross the border at the main crossing."

"What will you do now!"

"I'm not sure."

The young girl began to cry. "They'll take you away, put you in prison." She looked over at Michael. "You can stay with me - with me and my sister. I'll make up a story to my sister about us being friends and that you are just touring Italy and will stay awhile."

"You shouldn't lie to your sister."

"That's alright , I don't tell my sister about a lot of things I do. Please, you'll be safe there!"Michael looked into her eyes, "You are very kind and I only accept your invitation because....." He swallowed hard. "........ I don't have any other options now."