Actions

Work Header

Four Light Years Farther - A Fan's Rewrite

Work Text:

Committee

“This doesn't bode well for the Section One.” Operations, standing and waiting for Mr. Jones to show, stated.

“Why do you say that?” A seated Madeline asked.

“Have you ever met anyone who has seen Mr. Jones?”

“Just George.”

“And he’s dead.”

“I see your point.” Madeline conceded.

“It's how he protects himself and the agencies,” Operations continued. “Anonymity.”

“So, if he shows himself now, either he's planning to step down, or he has other plans.” Madeline mused aloud.

“It's unlikely he's coming here to announce his retirement.”

A woman’s voice sounded over the intercom, “Mr. Jones is here to see you, sir.”

“Send him in.” Operations responded, thinking As if I could say no.

Madeline stood, straightening out her clothes while Operations turned so they both faced the door and incoming Agency head. The door opened and Mr. Jones walked down the ramp, stopped in front of the Section leaders, cleared his throat and waited for the couple to acknowledge him.

“Mick Schtoppel!?” A surprised Operations asked.

“To a few.” Mr. Jones replied.

“But, why?” Came Operations’ next question.

“Well, I needed to investigate Section One. Call me a hands-on manager. I have to see things with my own eyes, touch them with my own hands. And Mick? Well, he allowed me to do that, didn’t he?”

“We picked you through Ilya Benko -- you were his gofer.” Operations reminded.

“Simply building a resume. I knew that Section would never use Mick as an informant if he wasn't established. But it’s hard to believe that old Mick was just fiction.” Mr. Jones briefly slipped into his Mick persona, “He was the life of the party. I mean he was...wasn't he?”

“Mick was not enough,” Madeline interjected. “You had to have someone inside.”

“Of course I did.” Jones stated. “And no, it wasn't either of you.”

“Then who?” Operations asked the obvious question.

The door opened again with its standard screech. Michael walked down the ramp, coming to stand in front of Mr. Jones with his hands clasped in front of him, his typical stance.

“Ready when you are, sir.” Michael stated, eyes forward and unblinking.

Operations slanted his head, genuinely surprised. “Michael.”

“He works for me at C.I.I. My cover was thorough -- his…unprecedented.” Mr. Jones explained. “You're looking at the best of the best.”

While Operations studied him, Michael continued staring ahead with his customary expressionless mask.

“When did he begin working for you?” Operations asked his superior.

“A year ago.” Mr. Jones saw no harm in answering the question. “I recruited him after a certain unauthorized Section experiment. I knew he would cooperate.”

“Why?”

“I chose Michael for his loyalty to the organization in general...and his rising disdain for Section One. Well, I think it's time to get started.”

********

Mr. Jones, his assistant Monique, two Center operatives and Michael crossed the main floor of Section. Seeing them, Walter put down his gadget and called out.

“Hey Michael!” Walter hurried to catch him. “What's going on?”

One of Mr. Jones’ operatives moved to intercept Walter, pointing a gun at his head.

“Whoa!” Walter snapped.

Michael waved the operative’s hand away, “It's okay.” He then turned to Walter, “We'll talk later.”

Once the group moved past him, a confused Walter moved back to Munitions where Jason suddenly appeared.

“Hey Jase, what's coming down here?” Walter asked.

“It’s evaluation time.” Jason answered.

“Evaluating what?”

“Everyone. Everything.”

“Who's doing the evaluating? Operations?”

“I don't know too much.” Jason replied “You know, you better get your house in order. Make sure that your inventory is checked.”

“Wait a minute.” Walter interrupted, recalling what he had to tell him. “I got something to show you.”

“What?”

“It's about your girlfriend Naomi.”

Walter led Jason to his terminal and brought up a picture of Naomi, walking with a team of operatives, Madeline’s search team, leaving no doubt that she wasn’t a prisoner.

Looking at the picture, Jason put two and two together, “She's Section...” He continued to look at the monitor while Walter enlightened him.

“She came off the bench right after you went to Center. Started helping out in Comm. She's been playing you from the get-go.” Walter shook his head. “I'm sorry. You gonna be okay?”

Jason looked at Walter then Naomi’s picture one last time before walking away.

********

Evaluation Room

Madeline stood in a small, glassed in room where Michael and Mr. Jones performed their evaluations.

“Please, sit down,” Michael requested politely.

Once she sat down, the back door slid closed behind Madeline.

Completely prepared as usual, Michael began the evaluation. “You and Operations do not complement one another,” He paused. “And you’re both well aware of it.”

“How did you come to that conclusion?” Madeline asked.

“The joint mission with Red Cell,” Michael answered simply. “He tried to eliminate you.”

“How dare you two have the presumption to judge my contribution to this organization on one single event?” Madeline queried disdainfully.

“Single?” Michael proceeded to remind Madeline that in Section, someone was always watching. Parroting Operations’ words to her in Systems after his and Nikita’s ‘escape’ from Section, the final test of the duo in charge, he said, “You have 24 hours. If Michael and Nikita are not returned by then, you will be removed from your post.”

“We were both under exceptional pressure at the time,” Madeline defended, recognizing the statement immediately. “Paul can be emotional sometimes but the endgame is all that matters. We’re both still alive.”

“Fortunately for us,” Mr. Jones decided to join the conversation.

“Can we get to the punch line, gentlemen?”

“Of course,” Michael smiled, knowing how surprised she’d be at their decision.

********

Operations stepped down from the perch, coat in hand and walked over to a waiting Michael. What the younger man had to say to Operations was private, no need for all of Section to witness it.

“You wanted to see me?” Operations sarcastically mimicked Michael’s standard greeting.

“Yes,” Michael, already wearing his coat, stated calmly, refusing to be baited.

“Where’s Madeline?” Operations asked once they were out of Section.

“Madeline is no longer your concern,” Michael replied, leading the way to an empty wooden bench overlooking a school playground.” Deciding to let his superior off the hook, he sat down and added. “She’s been promoted to Oversight.”

“What?” A stunned Operations inquired, taking a seat.

“As a team, you and Madeline needed to be separated. Individually you are still useful to the Agency. She was better qualified for Oversight.”

“Why?” Operations asked curiously.

“Everything Madeline does, she does for the organization,” Michael explained. “And unlike her, your emotions sometimes get in the way of the Agency’s agenda. Until that changes, you will remain in Section.”

“For how long?”

“For as long as it takes,” Michael replied. “I will take Madeline’s place until a replacement is trained and I feel you are ready to solo once again.”

Leaving Operations on the park bench to ponder his words, Michael returned to Section and his next evaluation.

********

Walter was seated where Madeline had recently had her evaluation. Michael sat alone on the other side of the glass.

“So, what do you feel about all this, Walter?”

“Confused and a bit betrayed, how do you think?” Walter answered with more than a hint of bitterness.

“I thought you wanted change,” Michael rejoined mildly.

“Yeah,” Walter admitted. “But not like this.”

“How else do you suppose change could have been enacted here other than an evaluation and purge?” Michael asked seriously.

“You could have told me,” Walter evaded the question as he did not have a practical answer for it.

“What purpose would it serve?” Michael queried. “We would have both been canceled.”

“Fine, let’s cut to the chase then. We both know that I broke every rule in the book helping you and Nikita. So, are you going to cancel me?”

“You’re still useful to Section,” Michael answered, “A replacement at this time would be wasteful.”

“Useful, huh? Gee, thanks.” Sarcasm dripped from Walter’s voice.

“While I’m here, I will monitor you. Ensure nothing untoward occurs.” Michael tried to convey a deeper meaning to Walter.

“Untoward?” Walter asked, confused at Michael’s tone.

“Yes. If I see any problems I will be forced to move you to Center when I return there.” Michael elaborated.

“I understand,” Walter said after a moment, suppressing a grin as realization dawned. He did understand what the other man was telling him. Knowing Walter didn’t want to be anywhere else but Munitions, Michael left him in place and furthermore, would protect him from any fallout that might occur. If he couldn’t then Michael would take him out of the line of fire. “See ya around, Sir,” Walter winked, conveying his comprehension of the situation.

********

Operations’ Perch

Jason was busy transferring data to discs. Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned to see Naomi at the door.

“Jason?”

“Come in.” Naomi walked in while Jason turned back to his work.

“When did you find out?” Naomi asked.

“It doesn't matter.”

“I'm sorry.” Naomi tried.

“Don't be. I enjoy my work. In fact, I've never had such clarity in my life.”

“You don't really mean that.”

“I do.” Jason said sincerely. “You saved me, Naomi, from the corporate world. A world I never did feel comfortable in.”

“I want you to know something.” Naomi entreated and Jason turned to face her. “Those times we spent together? They did mean something.”

“I'll never forget them.” Jason smiled slightly. Naomi returned the smile, stepping forward. “You may return to your post.” Jason stopped her cold, putting an end to any expectation Naomi might have had.

********

Michael waited for Nikita in the evaluation room. He was sorry it had to end this way, but there was no other way now. He hadn’t lied to her in that glassed-in room. Michael didn’t completely trust Mr. Jones and he didn’t know for sure whether or not Center would intervene on his behalf. In case they didn’t and his duality never came to light, his words to Nikita were the truth. She truly was the only one Michael could entrust with Adam’s well-being.

When Operations told him that he would survive and Nikita would be canceled, the emotions that spilled forth were real. It was not supposed to happen that way and because he wasn’t allowed to break cover, there was nothing Michael could do to change what was happening.

Alerted that a solitary Nikita was approaching the room, Michael ended his musings and concentrated on the difficult conversation ahead.

“Come in, Nikita,” Michael called to her.

Nikita dressed in black, entered the room, pushed the chair away and stood defiantly to face her judge, jury and possible executioner.

Michael looked straight at her while announcing his verdict, his face expressionless, even his eyes giving nothing away. “Nikita Wirth, brought into Section One seven years ago. Your compassion made you an exceptional if problematic operative. You did what you thought was right despite the consequences.”

“I broke the rules,” Nikita interpreted.

“More significantly, you enlisted others to help you,” Michael continued, blank stare still in place. “I have no choice but to recommend your cancellation.”

“Is there an abeyance mission pending?” Nikita asked sadly. She would not be canceled in Section, not if she could help it. She thought she’d finally broken through Michael’s formidable barriers over the years, but now she knew better. Everything between them had been a lie.

“Yes.”

“Thank you.” For that much at least, went unspoken.

********

Section stairwell

Mr. Jones and Operations were talking as they descended the metal staircase.

“Now you understand how this has to play out?” Mr. Jones asked Operations.

“Nikita cannot survive.” Operations was surprised Michael recommended her cancelation, believing that his former heir apparent’s feelings for the blonde operative had been genuine. However, Operations wasn’t exactly disappointed. After all he’d been trying to get rid of the young woman for years.

“That's right.” Mr. Jones confirmed, changing the subject. “I'm going to give you Jason to assist on Comm.”

“You mean Seymour, don't you?” Operations tried to bluff.

“No. Seymour’s dead.”

“You understand why I did it.” Operations stopped and faced the head of Center.

“Of course. If you hadn't accommodated, you’d have been canceled.”

They both turned at the approaching figure - Michael.

“My work’s done here, Mr. Jones.” Michael stated.

“Good job.” Mr. Jones commended. “I'll see you back at Center.”

Michael left without another word to either of the two men. Mr. Jones and Operations shared a long look before Operations turned and walked down the corridor and through a door on his left.

********

The abeyance mission team, Nikita included, were in Systems being briefed by Operations. Nikita stared stonily ahead while everyone around her listened intently.

“Teams three and four will fall back for the retreat. Nikita, you’ll proceed alone to the engagement area.” Operations instructed.

“By this point, you will have triggered their security. We've estimated ten to fifteen hostiles with orders to kill anything that moves,” Jason joined in.

“You will be wearing a suicide vest with one pound C4 explosive, thermal detonator,” Operations continued. “Once the engagement has commenced, you will have a window of thirty seconds. You'll take this route all the way to the target.”

“Won't that approach be blocked?” Kurtzman, one of the operatives asked.

“No, it dead-ends. And there's no retreat.” Jason answered.

“Then how does Nikita get out?” A confused Kurtzman asked.

“Check your panels, you'll move in fifteen.” Operations ignored the question and ended the briefing.

********

In Munitions, a group of operatives were waiting for Walter to supply them with their equipment.

“Arnold. Wilson. Jason.” Walter handed out the boxed equipment as Nikita made her way towards the counter. “Just wait here a minute.” Walter told Nikita moving out of sight and returning a moment later with an orange pouch. “Here, take this with you Nikita.”

“What is it?” Nikita asked.

“Solvents and a compressor. You can get through a three-foot wall. Dig yourself out before the detonation.”

“Why bother?” Nikita asked, kissed Walter goodbye on his leathery cheek then walked away with her supplies for the mission, leaving the pouch behind. What did she have to live for? The one thing she thought real in Section had turned out to be the biggest lie of all. Besides she had tried running once, lived on the outside alone twice. Neither time felt like any kind of freedom. She learned long ago that the only true freedom from Section lay in a body bag. Moreover, Section would know she was alive and hunt her down.

Walter watched Nikita leave, his expression troubled.

********

Jason sat in front of his laptop inside the mission van, running tactical.

“Nikita’s at first mark.” Jason commanded. “Teams one and two disengage. Nikita, seventy-five meters. You have twenty seconds to hit your next mark.”

Nikita came up through a trapdoor and shot several hostiles. Stepping out, she went to the corner of the corridor and shot two more hostiles.

“At second mark.” Nikita announced through her comm unit.

“Hold.” Jason paused. “Okay, go.” More shooting. “Proceed to final mark.”

Leaning against the wall, a resigned Nikita activated the detonator. “I'm at the door.”

“She's at her final mark.” Jason stated.

Operations and Jason both looked somber. Operations monitored the mission from the perch. As much of a thorn in his side as Nikita had been, he felt sorry for her now.

“Okay, Nikita,” Jason spoke calmly. “We detonate in fifty seconds.” Nikita braced herself for the final assault. “Go.”

As soon as Nikita opened the door, Operations turned off the intercom. There was no reason to hear this. Jason took his earpiece out, not wanting to listen either. What neither man knew was that communications had been remotely jammed by Michael even as the door closed behind Nikita.

A very surprised Nikta held her automatic in front of her, looking at all the dead hostiles, the hole in the wall and Walter’s pouch laying on the floor.

The only person standing was Michael, dressed in his mission gear. “I thought someone should use Walter's little bag of tricks.”

A still numb Nikita stood immobile while Michael divested her of the suicide vest, letting it drop behind her.

“Let's go.” Michael prodded Nikita. She had to go first as he wasn’t sure she’d follow him. Once she was through, he dove in after her.

********

They emerged through a drainpipe to the outside and into a forest. Michael led the way, sprinting, through the vegetation. He finally stopped at a clearing.

“We're clear.” He declared, holding out a scanning device.

“Four minutes, then we'll be in range of Map C-Two.” Nikita countered. She watched Michael stop scanning, apparently satisfied with the readings. “Why did you break protocol?”

“You were never meant to die.” Michael replied.

“Then what’s going on?” Nikita asked, still confused.

“You’re free,” Michael explained. “I’ve disabled your tracker. As backup, this will jam their frequency long enough to get you out of the hemisphere. Take it.” He pushed the field router into her hand until she took it.

“Why?” Nikita needed to know. Ignoring the question, Michael reached into a vest pocket, pulled out a small packet and pushed that into Nikita’s hands as well. “What’s this?”

“Answers to your questions and enough money for you to get a new identity and live comfortably.” Michael answered, watching as Nikita slipped the packet inside her jacket. Other than documents and money there was also information about her recruitment into Section, the second most important thing to her next to freedom.

“Why?” Nikita repeated her question.

“It’s what you’ve always wanted.” Michael replied, almost sadly.

“What about you?” Nikita suddenly realized that freedom was never really his dream, only hers.

“I have to stay.” Michael saw as understanding dawned on her.

”Why?” Nikita needed to hear it from him.

”I want to,” Michael stated the truth.

Nodding dejectedly, Nikita pocketed Michael’s ‘gifts’ and took off through the forest, never once looking back at the man who’d given her true freedom.

Michael watched Nikita go unhappily, part of him having hoped she’d have chosen to stay with him fighting for the innocents. Turning away, he was resigned to being alone while he fought for what he believed in.