For the Guest who left a review a few hours ago telling me to update this story, I dedicate this chapter to you. Here it is! You seriously have one awesome timing. Haha. ;)
Okay, I'm going to say my THANK YOUs for all your support and love now before I wouldn't have any chance to do so after the end of this chapter. ;)
Some of you probably hate me right now. Haha… But I know I've given you all reason to.
For one thing, I left you all with a sort of cliffhanger in the previous chapter and did not update for the longest time (sorry!). But if you must know, there's still more and possibly much worse cliffies to come.
And the second… well… how about we save that for the end of this update, shall we?
So I'm gonna let you all read now. Enjoy!
Chapter 15: Dire
"It would mean an end to all our futures." – 2x05
The first sense to return was Nikita's hearing.
She didn't understand it at first. She didn't understand why Birkhoff's voice pierced through the darkness. It was so loud for her sensitive ears. And grating. And he just wouldn't stop.
Does the guy ever know when to shut up?
When Nikita opened her eyes, she almost instantly regretted it. Her head felt like it was going to split open. But a few seconds later, the pain subsided a bit, becoming more tolerable.
Everything was still a bit hazy though. She blinked at the sight of the glowing dashboard lights. Too bright.
Nikita squeezed her eyes shut when she pulled herself to sit up. A groan escaped her lips as her body felt like it weighed tons. Everything didn't seem right. It was like she had just woken up with a massive hangover.
"Oh God, Nikki, finally you're up!" She heard Birkhoff exclaim when he saw her. She winced at the loudness of his voice as he continued to ramble on, "The tranquilizer's effect was only supposed to be for thirty minutes. I was getting worried that you –"
"I should kill you," she interrupted him, bringing a hand to the side of her head.
"That's great," he said, his voice sounding oddly distracted. The rapid tapping of keys echoed inside the car. "Now I know you're fully awake."
With her memory of everything that happened quickly returning, Nikita could feel her panic reclaiming her at full force. She didn't know what to do as a thousand thoughts ran through her head at that moment.
"Where are we?" was the first question that came out of her lips.
"About a quarter of a mile from Bridgetown Heliport." Birkhoff told her as he scanned through what looked like a blueprint of a building in his tablet while balancing his laptop between his legs and the steering wheel. He continued, "You were right. The place was supposedly closed but they somehow managed to get access to it."
"Not the first time they've done that." Nikita commented. She narrowed her eyes on the computer screen, trying to make sense on what she was seeing. But everything still seemed somewhat hazy. She still had to adjust to the darkness of the car, and the brightness of the lights from all the electronic gadgets.
"What's the status?"
Birkhoff's eyebrows knitted and then he clucked his tongue in frustration. "It's, uhh, complicated."
"What?" Nikita pulled herself closer to the space in between the front seats of the car. But as she exerted some force, a sudden pain shot from her shoulder, making her inhale sharply. She had forgotten that she was shot. And now, looking down at herself, she finally realized why something else felt weird. Her left arm was in a sling.
This was going to be a bit difficult.
"I lost communication with Michael a few minutes ago when he entered the building," Birkhoff explained, giving her a brief glance before returning it to the screen on his laptop. He had opened another program and was trying to access a different network. His fingers skimmed rapidly over the keys as he typed in commands and access codes.
"What building?" She asked while fumbling around the duffel bag she found close to her feet. There were guns and ammunition, but she was searching for something else.
"The hangar for Bajan Helicopters. The moment he stepped into the building, his comm, his tracker – all went offline. They must've placed a jamming field over or something. That's the last thing I know."
Nikita found what she was looking for: a bottle of painkillers. She couldn't be more thankful that Michael still remembered to pack some of it even if he did unceremoniously drug her earlier (she was still pissed at him for that but she wasn't thinking about it for the moment. There were other more important matters that needed to be dealt with). Popping the cap open, she took out 3 white pills and downed them dry. She knew taking more than the recommended number of extra-strength narcotic analgesics was overkill for a former druggie like her, and would probably tip her nearer to the edge of a relapse, but she didn't care. She'll work better without the nagging pain from her shoulder.
Besides, she didn't think she'd live longer before a relapse can take place. She probably might get shot first.
A grim thought, but highly possible.
"Move," Nikita said while un-strapping her sling.
"What?" Birkhoff gave her a quick look.
"I said move," she shooed him. Placing her hand on the headrest, she winced a bit at the pain but it was getting more bearable by the minute. The fast-acting analgesic was already starting to take effect. Using her other arm, she clutched the back of Birkhoff's jacket and pulled him to the passenger side of the car. Crawling nimbly between the seats, she said, "I'm driving."
"Wait, Nikki –"
"Just tell where to go."
Turning the keys in the ignition, the car revved to life. Nikita tried to focus. She had to get to Michael and the others before it was too late. The feeling in her gut knew that something was going to go horribly wrong. She had to be there. Squinting, she looked outside the window but couldn't see anything. Even with the lights on, she still couldn't see more than a few feet out. It was too dark and the pouring rain was not helping with the visibility.
"Nikki, we should hold back–"
"What part of 'tell me where to go' did you not understand?" She snapped.
Nikita peeled off the side of the street in a matter of seconds, bearing for the direction Birkhoff gave her. She was driving fast but it didn't seem to be enough. If it weren't for the heavy rain, she probably would've cranked up the speed even more. It frustrated her that everything seemed slower than usual.
"What's the lay-out?"
"It's your basic hangar. Only two entrances. One door on the east side and another for the aircrafts on the south. No windows, no ventilation hatches." Birkhoff was silent for a few moments as he typed into his laptop. The glow from the screen and the dashboard threw his features into relief but gave him a sickly look. When the scan was done, he added, "Thermal signature shows three people on the outside. One at each entry way, and one in the helicopter by the pad. Michael took out most of the perimeter guards earlier. Could be more inside though."
A slight frown crossed Nikita's features. There were too many people and, being a hangar, probably not that much cover inside. Tactically, it was bad. Ire bubbled inside Nikita when she thought of Michael's recklessness and stupidity for sedating her. It should have been her that was in the building right now not him.
"Are Ilya and the others there too?" She asked.
"I can only see Ilya," Birkhoff said, almost warily. He kept on giving her a sideward glance, nervous at her edginess. "They can't scramble the signal from the tracker you implanted in her somehow. I don't know about Alex and Owen."
Her hands tightened on the steering wheel. "Something doesn't feel right."
"Yeah, umm," he mumbled. He scooted further down his seat before he continued, "That's probably because Gogol's at the location too."
"They're at the heliport too." He repeated, paling slightly when he saw her livid expression. His voice grew smaller when he said, "Seems like it was a joint operation to take us down."
Nikita felt like she was going to be sick. She tried to keep steady and focused her gaze on the road. But her grip on the wheel was so tense that her knuckles had already turned white. She managed to push the words through her gritted teeth, "And Michael knew about this?"
"Dammit," she muttered, exasperatedly. The car sped up a bit faster. They were almost there. A few more minutes.
Birkhoff remained silent. He even stopped typing into his laptop. Glancing up at Nikita, he looked almost as if unsure he should say anything else or not because it might set her off even more. Given their current situation, that would most likely be the case. But after taking almost a minute, probably to gather his resolve, he swallowed then said gently, "You know, there's a reason why Mikey drugged you back there, Nikki."
"I don't want to hear about it." Nikita answered him dryly. Her voice was firm. "I'm the one who's supposed to be there. This isn't his fight."
Birkhoff let out a scoff. "For your kid and the others? I think it's just a hell's much of his fight too. And mine."
"You don't get it." Nikita spat, looking at him through the corner of her eyes. Her voice sounded harsher than she intended but she didn't care. There were a lot of things on her mind right now and the appropriateness of her tone was not one of them. All the things she kept inside just barreled out as she reasoned, "They wanted me, Birkhoff. I would've went there in exchange for everyone's safety. A sacrifice. I was willing to do something happened to them, to Ilya, or Michael…"
She paused. A lump had lodged across her throat at that thought.
Forcing it back down, she shook her head. Her eyes annoyingly began to prickle too. She added, careful not to let her voice break, "It's all my fault."
Looking out the window, Birkhoff remained silent. He was descent enough to let Nikita compose herself. She was grateful for that. When he gazed back at her, his expression showed understanding and fear. For her life. It was sweet, in a way. He said, "Nikki –"
"We're here." She interrupted, pulling up a few feet outside a fenced up lot. She had turned off the car's lights a way back but they still could see the place because of the dim lights faintly spilling from the building, which they could only assume was the hangar, in the distance. She asked, the firmness of her voice indicating that their conversation a few seconds earlier was closed, "Are there any changes?"
Birkhoff stared into his laptop then shook his head. "Nothing. Number of heat sigs still the same."
Running through the information in her mind, Nikita tried to map out a possible plan.
Her priority was the safety of her daughter, at the very least. But not knowing the condition of Michael, Alex, and Owen was something she could not ignore. They were her family too. Aside from Ilya, there weren't anyone else she kept close to her heart as she did them.
But she wasn't a superhuman. She was just one person. Against many. And they had a gun to the very heart of everything she held dear.
She was conflicted. She didn't know where to go first. How to save everyone. But she had to make a choice. Somehow.
Shifting uncomfortably in her seat, Nikita glanced at Birkhoff, who was typing something into his computer. She briefly closed her eyes and bit her lower lip in frustration. With her out in the field, her friend was left vulnerable to any type of attack too. And with Division and Gogol involved, she just couldn't take any chances.
But… maybe there was a way for him.
She inhaled deeply.
"When I get out, you go. Put a safe distance between you and this place," Nikita instructed calmly while staring at a spot on the steering wheel.
He didn't say anything.
Taking her friend's silence for his understanding, Nikita moved on to double-check the knife and guns she was going to bring with her. Reaching into the duffel bag at the back seat, she took out the bottle of painkillers again. She popped another pill into her mouth, just to be sure, and tucked the bottle into her back pocket. She knew that she may be adding more fuel to the fire of her past drug-addicted self but desperate times called for desperate measures.
It was at that moment that she noticed that Birkhoff was watching her. Worry evident in his eyes.
But she ignored him.
When Nikita was done and ready, she closed her eyes briefly once more and let out a sigh. She then turned to look at the scruffy face of her longest and most loyal friend. One whom she might never see again. She didn't want to be pessimistic but she had to face the reality of their situation. And it wasn't good. Her heart ached in her chest as she thought about what she was going to say.
It was hard. But it had to be done. For his safety.
She took another deep breath. She was running out of time and she needed to finish this.
"If you don't hear from me or anyone in twenty minutes…" She said slowly, enunciating every word carefully, "run. Abort everything and save yourself."
Birkhoff stared at her blankly, probably not understanding what she meant. When comprehension dawned on his face, he blinked. The horror of the possibility became clear in his face. His eyes widened as he fought back, "N-no! How could you even say – Nikki–!"
Reaching over and placing a hand on his arm, Nikita steadied him. She then moved her hand to cup his cheek. Her throat had become so thick at that moment that it was getting hard to say what she needed to. She stared into his eyes and tried to gently plead with him, "Just go. And never look back, okay? Move on."
Trying to lighten the mood, she added, "The world still needs a nerd like you."
But he didn't take her words kindly.
Birkhoff pushed her hand away and leaned back. He looked at her disbelievingly. Shaking his head, he said, "I warned you not to go kamikaze-crazy on me, Nikki. B-but this – this is just plain bonkers. I am not leaving you or anyone behind!"
He shook his head again. "We're still gonna see each other again so I'm gonna wait."
Nikita kept her gaze level with him for a moment longer. He didn't see the danger of it all. Or didn't want to was more like it. She wanted to give him an appreciative and grateful smile but now was not a moment for him to be all brave and noble. Birkhoff had to survive, no matter what. If there was one thing she could ever ask for him, it was that he live the life he – and all of them – had always wanted, free.
She really hoped that for him. For all of them.
But maybe she wasn't supposed to have that. Maybe her freedom had a deadline.
Maybe she'll know after tonight.
Her hands had just closed on the door lever when she heard Birkhoff say, "May the Force be with you, Nikki."
A small, lopsided smile briefly passed through Nikita's lips.
In a soft and gentle voice, she replied, "You too, Nerd."
Nikita exited the car and waited for her friend to climb behind the steering wheel before closing the door. It was only a matter of seconds for her to be completely soaked in the rain but she didn't leave her place until he drove away (she half-expected that he would stay put in that spot but then again, it was better if he placed some distance between himself and the place. Nikita would have one less thing to worry about). When the darkness finally engulfed the car, it was the time that Nikita made her move towards the hangar.
Guided by the light from the building in the distance, and the occasional flash of lightning, she approached the compound as quietly as she could. The rain did help in masking the sounds of her footsteps. But it was terribly messing with her vision. She had to keep wiping her eyes to rid of the sting whenever the droplets of rain hit them. It also didn't help that a shiver kept on running down her spine whenever the wind picked up.
When she got to the fence of the compound, she paused to look for any movement – not that it really helped because she couldn't see past a few steps in front of her. As she crept her way towards the gate, she strained her ears to listen for any other sounds aside from the pelting rain and the low rumble of thunder in the distance.
"One of the guards is about 10 meters to your right," Birkhoff's voice filtered in through her comm unit.
Nikita paused at that. She was a bit surprised to be honest. First, was because she didn't remember putting on a comm unit. But then she guessed that she has been used to wearing one before and didn't really notice it anymore when she wore one now. And two, she didn't expect t her friend's help at that point.
Then she realized that no matter what, Birkhoff was still going to continue and give her support and be her lifeline up till they lost contact. Or even past that. It didn't matter what she did or ordered that he should keep safe. He was just as stubborn as she was.
Grateful of his help nevertheless, she made her way to the direction given. And sure enough, with the dim light casting his silhouette, there was a Division agent a few meters away from her. He was securing his assigned area, keeping an eye on the surrounding perimeter, enduring the rain and darkness. Diligent.
Just not for the right mission.
With his back to Nikita, he never saw her coming. She took him out silently by swiping his legs from underneath him and striking the back of his neck. Her approach had to be non-lethal so as not to alert the others when the agent's tracker went offline. Though it will probably not matter that much since they would all soon know about her presence, she still had to buy some time. Even the smallest element of surprise was an advantage.
"He's down," Nikita said, prying the fallen agent's semiautomatic firearm from his hands. There was a strange humming sound in the distance, but she couldn't see what was the source. Touching her comm, she asked, "Where's the next?"
"Uhh, way across the compound. There's two on the other side of the building, by the helipad to your left – oh wait. Now there's three. But there's a door to the hangar on the east side to your right."
Nikita quickly looked at both directions. She was most certainly closer to the helipad. She weighed things out. Taking down the remaining agents would certainly help if things ever ended up in a gunfight. She'd have three less people to worry about.
But for every minute Michael was without communication, the danger was greater.
"How long has it been since you lost contact with Michael?"
"About… twelve minutes ago."
Nikita shook her head. No, twelve minutes was too long. Her panic rose but she was quick to quell it. She had to focus. She had to make sure.
"I'm going for Michael and the others," she informed Birkhoff as she ran to the side of the two-storey tall facility. The concrete wall was cold and wet as she pressed up to it. With the wind and rain getting stronger, it made moving a bit more difficult. Her lips and fingertips were a bit numb from the frigid air. But it was a good thing that the painkillers still seem to be holding up. She couldn't feel that much pain from her shoulder.
Then again, it could just be the adrenaline.
Securing the gun close to her, she crept along the side of the wall. The nearer she got to the corner, the bigger the light that spilled out of the entryway. She was close.
But just as she rounded the corner, a figure came out of the hangar. Another agent. Probably to check on why one of their men was not responding. Nikita stopped short and quickly doubled back. Luckily, the other person hadn't seen her.
Lurking just out of the reach of the light, Nikita waited for the agent to pass her. When he was at a safe distance away from the building, she crept up behind him. The rain and that humming sound continued to mask her footsteps.
She tapped him on the shoulder. The agent turned around just as she swung the butt of her gun to the side of his head. He was knocked out before he could even see who hit him.
Stepping over the agent's unconscious body, Nikita made her way back to the side of the building. The rain had lessened a bit, but that humming sound was still there. If anything, it got even louder. And it was on the other side of the building.
A gasp escaped her frozen lips as she realized what that sound was. The rotating blades of a helicopter.
Someone was leaving.
She had to move fast.
As if on cue, Birkhoff's voice erupted through her earpiece, "I'm getting a signal by the helipad!"
Nikita immediately crouched down by the side entrance of the hangar. Touching her comm, she hurriedly asked, "Whose is it?"
"I have Owen!" A second later, he added, "And Alex!"
A quick sigh escaped Nikita's lips as some relief washed over her. At least she now knew that Alex and Owen were within close range.
And more importantly, alive.
Taking another deep breath and looking down at the gun in her hands, Nikita realized that she was going at this all wrong. She would probably be better off saving Owen and Alex first so that she can have back-up when she went to rescue Michael and Ilya instead of going in blind and alone.
God knows, she was going to need all the help she can get.
The hard questioned that still remained though was how to rescue them.
"I'm registering five tangos by the tarmac."
Okay, first and foremost, she had to regroup. Now. Five people to be taken out was not going to be an easy feat.
But maybe she could formulate a plan if she got to see what she was going to deal with.
Retracing her steps, Nikita sprinted to the other end of the building. As much as she hated not being able to go to her daughter and Michael first, she had to do this. Saving Owen and Alex meant that they may have a fighting chance.
Hope flooded through her veins as her heart picked up pace.
Maybe there is a way out of this after all.
Maybe everything might not be as hopeless as it seems.
Maybe there was a tomorrow waiting for them.
As Nikita approached the corner, she could hear the rhythmic beating sounds of the helicopter's rotor blades grow louder and louder. And because of the vortex it created, the wind picked up too, pushing forcefully and coldly against her as she came closer. The only good thing though, the rain had lessened a bit so she was able to see a couple of feet more ahead of her.
Let things work in her favor, Nikita thought as she trudged on.
The desperation and the weight of wanting to make things work her way had barely sunk in when a strangled cry pierced through the icy night air.
Don't let it be.
"Alex," the name slipped through her numb lips.
No. Let nothing happen to her.
But just as she reached the edge of the building, the scene Nikita saw in front of her made her blood run cold.
Alex was inside the helicopter, hopelessly trying to fight off the two brawny men holding her down.
But she wasn't the one immediately needed to be worried about.
It was the man kneeling on the tarmac.
Her heart dropped.
It was a bad sign. A defeated posture.
And when the lightning flashed, she saw why.
Blood streamed down his face, his body, his arms. It pooled and dripped from his handcuffed hands. It stained the little puddles of water surrounding him a diluted ruby color.
He was wounded, bruised, and exhausted.
And being held at gunpoint.
The name was ripped out of Nikita's mouth before she could even think better of it.
But her voice was drowned out by the sudden roar of thunder and the gunshot that echoed through the sky.
Uhh… I think I should go hide now.
(Reviews would be nice. If that's not too much to ask. Even if they're flames, it would still be okay too. I'll gratefully accept them all the same.)