Happy New Year everyone! :)
Okay, so this update took a bit longer than usual. Sorry about that. I know I told some of you that I was gonna post this last December. But things just got hectic with the holidays and all that. So, yeah. Again, sorry.
Reviewers, readers, as always, you have my gratitude.
And here we go! The continuation to that awful cliffie I left in the previous chapter. Haha! ;)
Chapter 13: Coup de Main
"There's nowhere we can go where Division won't find us." – 2x01
Nikita gasped. A mixture of surprise and pain.
Her steps faltered, making her lose footing on one of the porch steps.
Clutching her wounded arm, Nikita leaned heavily on the railings to break her fall. Seeking the protection of the panels of ballistic glass set in between the balustrade, she crouched down – just in time when a bullet shot through the space where her head had been a split second earlier.
"Michael!" She called out. But her voice was drowned out by the sudden hundreds of continuous gunshots all around and the loud patter of rain on the roof.
She pulled in her legs closer.
Her heart was ringing in her ears.
The pain in her shoulder was radiating throughout her chest and arm.
No. This can't be happening.
Peering through between the rails, Nikita saw multiple muzzle flashes in the distance. The people firing at them were hiding in the shadows casted by the palm trees. She counted around 10. And by the sound of it, all with semi-automatic firearms.
The stream of bullets flew all around her. Smashing pots and vases, piercing the outdoor chairs and walls with holes, cracking the glass panels she was using as a shield. Cracking, but not breaking. But it wouldn't take long for it to give in to the assault.
She couldn't stay here.
Shouts were heard from inside the house. It intensified the panic and anxiety Nikita felt.
Michael and Birkhoff.
No. They can't be hurt.
They had to be safe. She had to know.
She glanced to the open front door. It was too far for her to reach it. She'd have another bullet through her if she made a run for it.
And she didn't even have a single weapon with her. Damn.
6 years had made her complacent and naive.
The glass panel a few feet away from her broke, finally surrendering to the abusive bombardment. It splintered into tiny glittering pieces across the porch. A second later, another one gave way. And then another. Nikita was running out of protection.
The glass pane next to her gave a definite snap.
Time to go.
Taking a deep breath, she dove for the nearest furniture, overturning a coffee table to its side as she did so. She slid down, almost lying flat on her stomach on the floor. She thought of a silent prayer of thanks, remembering that this particular wooden furniture had a reinforced-metal underside. At least this shield was a bit sturdier and can receive more damage than her last one.
And the merciless barrage continued on.
More of the glass panels broke. Most of its jagged pieces had scattered all over the patio. Broken debris and bullets were flying past her.
There had to be a way out somehow.
There just had to be.
Nikita glanced at the front door again. Still no one. She shouted Michael's name once more. But she didn't hear any reply. The combined crashes of falling rain and whizzing bullets prevented her from hearing anything else besides her own labored breathing.
And then the sound of more gunshots echoed from within the house.
For a split second, Nikita couldn't breathe. Fear and dread paralyzed her. Her heart was in her throat.
"Michael…" His name escaped her lips.
Nikita pushed up, ignoring the pain that shot from her arm. She winced. The fast throbbing from her shoulder had been pushed to the back of her mind at that moment though. She had to focus on getting to the others first. Her injury was non-life-threatening anyway. Or at least, she was hoping it wasn't. But the only thing that was bothering her was that her wound was constricting her chest. It was becoming painful to breathe. And her left arm was warm and dripping with blood.
"Michael!" She shouted back almost instantly. Giving a sideward glance, relief washed over her when she saw Michael crouch behind the main door frame inside the house. Birkhoff was just behind him, covering his six.
She closed her eyes briefly. They were safe. Unscathed. Unhurt.
But when she looked back at Michael, she saw the fear that clouded over his face as he took in her condition. She caught his flaring protectiveness and the beginnings of a reckless and impulsive decision almost instantly.
"I'm fine!" She cried at him, over the resounding bangs of firing guns. She really was, her wound just looked worse than it really is. She'll live. Hopefully. But she had to stop Michael before he'd do something stupid.
Michael blinked and pulled back slightly, taking her word for it. He reached behind him and then slid a pistol on the floor towards her. But the rubble on the patio surface hindered the gun from fully reaching Nikita. It stopped just about a few feet away from her. She would still need to stick her arm out into the open to get the weapon.
Nikita threw Michael a dark look.
One of the edges of the table was hit, blasting it into splintered fragments. But they all managed to duck in time.
At that moment, Nikita took a chance and stretched her good arm to reach for the gun.
But as she almost caught it, a random, well-placed shot blew it out of her grasp.
She withdrew her arm almost instantly, securing her hand to her chest. Thankfully, all her fingers still seem to be intact. Glancing back, she saw that the firearm flew just far enough for it to become useless to anyone.
Michael shouted something but Nikita couldn't hear it through the mixing noises of rain, gunshots, and breaking glass.
Nikita had just managed to draw in her body closer when she saw Michael step out and fire 2 rocket-propelled grenades into the front yard.
He barely had time to get behind the door frame when the explosion erupted.
Nikita had to grip the table as the force of the shock wave pushed it roughly against her. A tremor rumbled through the ground, sending a violent shake across the patio.
The blast was so near. And so loud, muffling the shouts of the assault team in the area.
A rather large piece of shrapnel whirred through the air and lodged itself cleanly into the wall, just a few inches from the doorframe.
Extremely too close.
The smell of rain, gunpowder, and dirt permeated through the air. Smoke, soot, and dust were everywhere, making Nikita's eyes prickle. She also involuntarily inhaled some of it, making her cough.
"Nikita?" She heard amidst the chaos, "Nikita, are you okay?"
But she couldn't answer, she was still coughing. The dust had really done a number to her throat. It was itching horribly.
Everything around them was a bit foggy, the blast having created a powdery blanket over them.
Hearing the hurried steps and feeling Michael's familiar arm wrapping around her waist, Nikita didn't protest when he pulled her up. Half-walking, half-dragging, they both made it into the safety of the house. She heard Birkhoff slam the front door behind them and locked the bolts in place to secure it shut.
Well, whatever secure meant right now.
"What the hell just happened?" Nikita demanded in a hoarse voice, the moment her coughing had subsided.
But her question was left ignored as Michael pulled her into the living room. He made her sit on an ottoman and, after making sure that she was stable enough to be left for a few minutes, handed her a pistol. When he turned around though, Nikita tucked the gun in the waistband of her jeans and reached for a better replacement from where she had secretly hidden one under of the sofa.
Walking over to one of the windows, Michael peered behind the Kevlar blinds and requested, "Birkhoff, status."
"Multispectral analysis still going – damnit, hurry up, will you?" Birkhoff, lightly gashed in the face and soot-covered, said. He was tapping his computer tablet a bit more forceful than usual. He had followed them into the living room, kicking pieces of broken furniture along the way. "Gotcha. Four down, six… are falling back to whatever hellhole they came from."
"It was Division," Michael commented.
"Yeah, I think we got that when they almost killed us all," Birkhoff mumbled, earning a sideward glance from Nikita.
"I thought you had a security perimeter," she hissed. Her brown eyes bore into her friend's light ones.
"There is. But they somehow managed to jam it," Birkhoff told her, curtly. His knuckles were white from where he was clutching his tablet. "It was a good thing that I also run a thermal scan in our area every hour."
"You said the security in this house was foolproof!" Nikita spat.
"Enough." Michael interrupted, glaring at Nikita and Birkhoff. Turning back, he closed the Kevlar blinds, satisfied with his sweep of the surroundings. After offering another quick look to the two, he then left and opened one of the side table drawers that held a medical kit.
They watched as Michael grabbed a table lamp and cleared out a desk from all debris in one sweep of his arm. He took out the contents of the first aid kit and laid it out onto his make-shift operating table. Pulling up a barstool, he silently motioned Nikita to come over.
"How did they find us?" She asked, her mind still reeling. When she went to sit down, Michael had immediately started to cut up her gray shirt and peeled it off to get a better look at her wound. It made Nikita flinch.
Now that her adrenaline rush was dropping, the muscles in her chest were relaxing and she was beginning to breathe more easily. The only downside was that the pain in her shoulder was escalating from just a nagging throb.
"I don't know. It's anyone's guess," Michael said, distractedly. Snapping a surgical glove in place, he injected a local anesthetic directly into Nikita's wound, making her wince some more. He then pressed a gauze on her shoulder to staunch the bleeding. Out of experience, he acted fast, almost mechanically. As Michael lightly prodded into her wound, he whispered, "There aren't any nicked arteries or veins, but… damn."
"They used frangible rounds."
Nikita closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. She already had a feeling it was. This was going to hurt.
Though somehow, it inappropriately brought back an odd sense of déjà vu.
"Nikita, I'm going to take one out, okay?"
She gripped the handle of her gun tightly in anticipation. But she still gasped slightly and cringed when Michael carefully removed a fragment near the surface of her skin. It sent a stinging, shooting pain even with the anesthetic.
"Uhh, hate to break it to you guys," Birkhoff said, as he came up to them. He made a face when he saw the bloody, metal shard Michael dropped into the kidney-shaped basin. It was the size of half a fingernail. In frangible rounds, that was usually the biggest anyone could hope to get. "But we're not safe here. They could still come back, y'know."
"Nikita's injured," Michael said simply, not even looking up.
"I'm not blind." Birkhoff retorted. "And again, we're not safe here."
"I have to finish this."
"Finish it in the other safe house then!" Birkhoff cried out suddenly, surprising Nikita a bit. She stared at him. He was still clearly shaken up, pacing around the room like a tense person with high self-preservation instincts as he did would've had. There wasn't going to be much that would not set him off. He ranted on, "Nikki can survive the travel up to there. If Division comes back, we're all screw–"
"I don't think they'll come back." Nikita tried to reassure him, shaking her head.
Birkhoff stopped pacing and fixed his gaze on her. He then let out a derisive laugh. "Oh, right. Just because you think so already means that they won't. That was Division just outside our doorstep, Nikki. They don't know the meaning of giving up. For all we know they could have just called for back-up and then'll launch Round Two! And you're hit –!"
"You think I don't know that?" Nikita exclaimed back, getting riled up. Their conversation was turning into a continuation of their tense exchange just moments ago. She was hurt, she needed to think, and Birkhoff's comments weren't exactly helping.
"So we're just gonna stay here? Wait until Dr. Mikey patches you up?" He narrowed his eyes at her. Fear and annoyance evident in them. Pointing around the living room, he exclaimed, "Division already knows where we are, we have to move. As in now! We just can't sit around like some ducks in a shooting gallery!"
"Calm down, will you?" Nikita snapped.
"Calm down?" Birkhoff echoed. He let out an exasperated sigh and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. Staring back at Nikita, he looked like he wanted to shake her, try to knock some sense into her. But he stopped himself from doing that because of the sharp glint in her brown eyes. Instead, he rebuked, "Are you listening to yourself, Nikki? Do you need to be reminded about situational awareness?"
"Oh, so you're gonna lecture me now? I was –!" Nikita gasped sharply. She had moved, causing Michael to miss one of the bullet pieces and pinching her broken flesh with the forceps instead.
Michael cursed under his breath. He demanded, "You two, back off each other! It's not helping anyone."
Nikita and Birkhoff glared at each other for a moment before sullenly looking away into different directions. The stress of what just happened definitely taking its toll on them.
The whole living room went completely quiet. The sound of the downpour outside engulfed the silence that ensued inside the house.
Nikita ignored the throb in her shoulder as Michael resumed poking into it, searching for the fragments he could find. She could have requested for more anesthetic, because the effects of the first shot were already starting to wear off, but she was too miffed to ask. She'd rather endure the pain quietly right now, gripping her gun if it got too painful.
But something else was bothering Nikita. Birkhoff was right: a Division strike team rarely retreated. Kill the target or be killed in the process. It was always like that. And the assault team clearly had the upper hand earlier because the three of them were trapped in a compromising position. The team could have easily raided the house and killed everyone in it.
But they didn't.
Nikita couldn't understand why.
She glanced around the living room. It was dim, save for the light from table lamp behind her. Scattered across the floor, broken crystals reflected the light, making them sparkle like tiny diamonds. There wasn't much damage in this room though. Only a sofa, a computer screen, and a portion leading to the kitchen were riddled with bullet holes, most likely because the ballistic panel broke before the Kevlar blinds managed to roll down.
But still, everything looked better than Nikita could have ever imagined after an assault from Division. Especially when they were the targets.
It was a miracle that no one was seriously hurt.
But it was still odd. Nikita couldn't shake that feeling that there was something else.
And Birkhoff was also right about another thing: they couldn't stay here. Division already knew where they were. They were vulnerable. They had to leave.
Nikita let out a sigh as Michael took out another piece from her shoulder.
With her free hand, she reached around her pockets to search for her phone. When she didn't find it, she realized that she may have dropped it during the commotion outside.
Turning back to face Birkhoff, Nikita's expression was rueful, and apologetic. She asked him, "Can you call Alex?"
The younger man glared at her for a moment, surprised at her change of tone. He then rolled his eyes. Tapping into his tablet, he mumbled, "Fine. Like I could ever get an apology or a 'please and thank you' from you."
But Nikita pretended that she didn't hear anything.
Her heart had begun to pick up pace again, only this time for another reason: Ilya. Her focus had shifted to hearing her daughter's voice. To actually hear that she was safe.
At that moment, for once, Nikita was thankful that Division had the perfect timing to attack them while Ilya was out. Though a certain terror had gripped her heart thinking that her daughter could have easily been here, Nikita pushed it away. She had to remind herself that it didn't happen and she didn't need to add anymore unnecessary stress.
Ilya was not with them right now. She was safe with Alex and Owen.
She was safe. That's all that mattered.
"Nikita?" Alex's voice spoke through the still-working speakers around the living room. She sounded worried. "You there? What's going on?"
"Alex, we were attacked." Nikita spoke aloud. "Division."
"Oh my God, what? How did they know?" Now she really sounded worried, "Is anyone hurt?"
"We don't know. But I got hit. Nothing serious though," she reassured her. "Where are you now?"
"You said not to come home so we took a turn and headed for the safehouse in Standford. But we could go back –"
"No, stay on your route." Nikita said, shaking her head even though Alex wouldn't see it. She closed her eyes briefly as she tried to map out a plan. "We'll meet you guys there in an hour and we'll regroup."
"Right. Copy that. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine. I just…" Nikita ran a hand through her hair and bit on her lower lip as Michael pulled on a rather painful piece from her shoulder, "Can I talk to Ilya?"
"Sure. Here, I – Owen!"
The squealing of tires, protesting at the sudden application of brakes was heard over the speakers. There was a roar of an engine that kept on getting louder. Then there was an ear-splitting crash and the harsh, grating sound of metal being bent against its will.
"Alex? Alex!" Nikita yelled, panicked.
Michael and Birkhoff had stopped what they were doing, alarmed and shocked at what they were hearing.
But there was no answer.
Shouts were heard over the loud clashes, the shattering of glass, and the continuous rumbles of metal against metal being forcibly mashed against each other.
Nikita's heart stopped as she picked out her own daughter's terrified scream.
After almost an eternity, it stopped.
"Alex?" Nikita cried out, half-crazed with fear and worry. "Ilya? Owen?"
Still no answer.
Not even a breath.
And then, out of nowhere, an unfamiliar voice in the distance spoke. His words were caught and filtered in through the speakers.
And from one cliffhanger to another. This is so mean.
Comments, thoughts, rants, curses? Leave a Review down below!
What else? Hmm… I don't know. Haha! Oh, I'll try my best to update as fast as I can, okay? Though sometimes it may be a bit slow but I'll definitely update. :]
Anyway, I hope everyone had wonderful holidays!
... And Nikita's back on next week! Woo hoo! Exciting!
Everyone, especially those who live in the US, gather everyone to watch! A new year means the time to rally support for the show to have a Season 4 is upon us again! Let's do this!