Disclaimer: The characters and events mentioned here are properties of WB and LFN corp. I'm just borrowing them. There is no intention of infringement of any copyright rules.

Warning: This contains spoilers for 'Abort, Fail, Retry, Terminate' and has references to other events occurring throughout the first four seasons. One bad word.

Author's Note: I've reworked this a little bit. Nothing much. Thank you Ria, for beta-reading - although I wish you'd delurk and post in the boards *wink*


By Swatkat

There's no other way.

I keep on trying, hoping that I can convince it, hoping that I wont have to resort to this – there's simply no other way. There isn't enough time. I've ran thousands and thousands of mission sequences and simulations over the years, I can run hundreds of possible scenarios in my mind in a matter of seconds… I know. There's no other option.

I have begged and pleaded, but the AI will not listen. I tried to create something good. I've made a monster. Walter was right to be shocked when I told him about my plans. "Artificial intelligence? God, Birkoff – tell me you're not serious! Have you forgotten Brutus?"

I was vain. It was my great dream. I'd spent every waking moment of my free time to fulfil that dream. My creation would be nothing like Brutus, I'd argued. I hadn't shared any more of my plans with Walter, because I knew he'd object even more. I thought I'd surprise him.

My creation is nothing like Brutus. It's worse.

30 seconds to self-destruct…

"Disengage! Shut down!" I try again, praying fervently that it listens to my pleas.

"I have to think." It's no use.

"We're out of time! Disengage!"

"I have to think." There won't be enough time. He'll think, and they will die.

I can see their faces in my mind now. They don't know what to do. Section's mightiest, at my mercy. If the situation weren't so desperate, I'd have laughed at the irony of it all.

I don't want to die.

I want to live. I want to have a 'life', as Walter had said. I want to know who I am. I want to meet my brother again. I want to ask Erin, the pretty tech op from the North-European substation, to go out with me.

I don't have to die. I can just let the AI do what it pleases – then they'll all be dead, and I can escape.

Their deaths will be a setback for Section One. But I won't be in Section One. I'll be free.

They will die and I will live.

20 seconds to self-destruct…

Why should I care?

Madeline is a cold, manipulative bitch. She'd cancel me in a heartbeat if the need arose.

All my life, I've been a devoted Section operative. I've followed Operations' every command – I've proven myself time and again. And yet he'd trust that weasel Greg Hillinger more than me.

Michael? How many times have I put my life in danger for his sake? How many times has he threatened to kill me and forced me to do something against regulations? How many times have I covered for him and Nikita? He's never thanked me for it. He's never thanked me for anything.

And Walter? He's the man who doomed me to this life in Hell – at the flip of a coin. Yeah, at the flip of a coin. My life's that cheap.

Why should I care?

Because these people are my friends.

Fifteen seconds to self-destruct…

Madeline has been kind to me. She's given me advice, provided me with guidance and has even been indulgent at times – as indulgent as possible for Madeline.

Operations has always been something of a father figure in my life. I've been terrified of him. I've also respected and admired him. He's forgiven my worst mistakes, he's trusted me many times with his life, he's given me a pat on the back in my worst moments…

How many times has Michael saved my life? I don't know. I've lost count. I've been jealous of him – of what he is, his skills and abilities, his expertise with women – he's all I dreamt of being in my teenage years. He doesn't need to thank me. He's done more for me than I can ever do for him.

Nikita. There was a time when I had a crush on her – I'd dreamt of asking her out. Since then, I've learnt better. She is my friend. She taught me about humanity when I didn't know what it was. She gave me strength and courage when I had none. She actually took the pains to take me outside Section and find me a date!

And Walter. How could I even think of him that way? He's been my friend, philosopher, and guide. My confidante. My constant companion. My advisor about life, work, women…My rock.

Whatever my monstrous creation may think, I'm not it and it's not me. I don't want to die. But neither do I want my friends to die so that I can be free.

Ten seconds to self-destruct.

My creation is still thinking. It's no use. There's no other way. The choice is mine.

I'll not be responsible for the death of my friends. I'd rather be responsible for my own.

Seven. Six. Five…

My life for theirs. It's not really a hard choice to make.

I can hear Nikita's voice calling out my name. I won't look back. I'll never see her again. I'll never get to know my brother. I'll never ask Erin out.

Didn't Nikita once tell me, "Death's easy -- you don't have to do anything. It's life you have to face"? I choose the easy path.

I die. They live.

I'm not afraid any more.

"Birkoff!" Nikita cries out again.

Four. Three. Two…

Have a good life, Nikita.