Chapter 1 – Failed Mission

Michael scanned the bookstore cataloging the few customers there as Nikita approached the saleswoman.

Woman: "Excuse me? Can I help you?"

Nikita: "I want your database."

Woman: "Look I don't know what you think you'll find here. We're just a…"

Nikita: "I wasn't asking."

Woman: "Okay, alright."

He noticed one of the customers was paying too particular of attention to the conversation. His suspicion was confirmed when he pulled out a gun. He quickly took him out as he scanned the remaining people to ensure no further resistance.

His Comm piece crackled on as Quinn reported: "Michael, hostile converging from the south quadrant."

He glanced back to Nikita and the salesclerk as she reached for a gun. Nikita shoots her and yelled out: "Michael go!"

He ducks to avoid gunfire as they left the store. "I need a location on Nikita."

Quinn: "She's just behind you Michael. I'm getting an elevation reading."

He used the storm drainage pipes to climb up to the stairs in time to see a guy take aim at Nikita and shoots. He shoots at the guy, but it was too late as he watched Nikita disappear from view off the building. He kept his voice as calm as possible as he asked: "Nikita's location?"

Quinn: "She's on the ground Michael. Sixteen meters SSE. You're going to have to make a ground approach."

He climbed down to the street level and made his way around the building to the back. To his horror all he found was some blood on the ground.

The ride back to Section was long and filled with unbearable silence. Chatter on the transport was minimal as all the team members avoided his glance. He kept the rising panic at bay by separating his emotion and focusing on completing the mission debrief. He knew if he thought about what might have happened to Nikita, he would slowly unravel and would be of no use to help her. She needed him functioning and at his best in order to save her, especially if she had been taken by Bright Star operatives.

The mission debrief was difficult to sit through. Operations has been waiting for a chance to write Nikita off for years and now he's getting his chance.

Quinn: "Housekeeping found this. It's a thermal block. We knew that Bright Star had the technology to block our RNR block scans…but not this. This is why we couldn't see them until they left the room."

Michael: "What's the status on Nikita?"

Operations: "Nikita's implant went off a few minutes after we lost our visual on her."

Michael: "Last known location?"

Quinn: "2 blocks from where she fell. She's off the board."

Operations: "Quinn isolated another Bright Star substation in Romaine. Now since they mirror their database information, of course the network will assemble a storm team and attempt to acquire the personnel database we lost. It is essential that we obtain this information in the next 72 hours. There will be severe repercussions if we can't."

Michael: "Nikita has the disk."

Operations: "Your mission is now listed as aborted Michael. We consider the database information you acquired on premises unobtainable. We've had no contact with her for 6 hours. Per procedure, she'll be listed as killed in action."

Instead of a clean death, Operations would leave Nikita lingering as a captive by Bright Star. This scenario was too close to what happened with Simone that it took all his control not to leap out of the chair and strangle Operations with his bare hands. The only thing that stopped him was that Nikita needed him alive and not confined in order to find her.