Nikita began training with the seven female operatives. She carefully read each of the reports that Birkoff had been thorough enough to forward and Nikita felt that this would enable her to gauge their various strengths and skills to their advantage. Two of the seven had been placed in Abeyance because their attitudes were deemed troublesome at best. She decided to conduct a short interview of sorts to see which would be the best way to handle each. She had learned early on that to separate each from the group and hand them on an individual basis often worked to keep them in line later on. As a group they often had an attitude against their instructors but once divided and trained one on one they came into their own and often found it easier to adapt.
Megan, 28 Auburn hair, hazel eyes had been brought to Section One after killing a classmate in school over a man. At least that was what her record showed but Nikita knew to be wary of anything that Section accused new recruits of. She had been placed in Abeyance for breaking the neck of another recruit over the affections she felt for her trainer. Nikita though having a female teacher would quell any temper tantrums from this one.
Justine, 30, Black hair, brown eyes had been brought in from a life of drug dealing. She had been working for Davenport and the reports he forwarded to Nikita told of a well-adapted and highly skilled operative. Nikita figured that she would use Justine as an assistant with the others.
Rita, 28, Brown hair, brown eyes was another drug addict that was now well adapted to life as an operative. Although her trainer had added a memo that he felt she could easily slip back into her former life if given the opportunity so it was taken under advisement to keep her extremely occupied with mission after mission. Nikita didn't see much of a problem there.
Skyler, 32, Blonde hair, blue eyes. She was now a full time valentine operative and Nikita wondered why she might have been placed on Davenport's team to begin with. She didn't feel comfortable without an explanation and decided to speak with him later. The reports that she had were short but glowing and that would be the bottom line in this mission.
Blythe, 35 Black hair, brown eyes, she was the only African American operative on the mission. An attractive woman, she had been removed from Abeyance when she was able to clear herself with her instructor after being accused of beating her former trainer to death. She had actually tried to save him after another Abeyance operative had found his weak point and savagely beat him while out on a mission. She had a soft spot for innocents, which was dually noted in her file but her work after the incident showed that she was well trained and hard working.
Chynna, 24, Black hair, black eyes she was an exquisitely beautiful Oriental woman who was the crack shot of the group and a weapons expert that would come in handy. She had been recruited into Section by Madeline which made Nikita curious to how she would feel going up against her. The details of her files were sketchy at best and Nikita got the impression that this was another doing of Madeline's. She would be the first operative that Nikita interviewed.
Jolene, 38, Blonde, Hazel eyed beauty. Nikita thought they could have passed for sisters from the picture on her file. She was another attitude problem for her former instructor. She was considered highly motivated given the right training and instruction but it often took extra training and extreme measures to keep her inline. Another person to keep you on your toes.
Nikita spent most of the evening studying and restudying the reports on each of the operatives that she was now in charge of. Jotting notes about their personalities and what she had read, she decided that she would need more info and called them in one by one.
Chynna came in with her usual flair, flipping her coal black mane this way and that as she swaggered toward the desk. Her outfit left little to the imagination and Nikita decided to knock her down a peg or two. "Sit down!" the command was stern and sharp. Chynna stood with her arms crossed in a defiant stance. "I said sit down" Nikita rose behind the desk and found herself at least a full foot taller than the Oriental woman before her.
"First off, that is not a training outfit and I don't want to see you showing up in it again is that understood?" she sat on the desk in front of the still standing woman.
"I like it." the confrontation had begun and with a leg kick that came out of nowhere, Nikita delivered an abdominal blow that not only sent Chynna flying backwards into the chair but took away any chance of retaliation.
"When I give you an order I expect to be obeyed, is that understood?" she sat back against the desk. The girl was clearly in pain as she tightly wrapped an arm around her bruised ribs.
"Yes," she barely whispered trying to capture her breath.
"Now, you will not dress like that again?" she leaned in to hear the reply. "No" the rasping voice still unable to take a deep breath. "I understand that Madeline recruited you herself?" the girl nodded. "Why?" Nikita sat upright, arms crossed waiting for an answer.
"I saved her ass once and she repaid me by recruiting me to Section," she hissed and something in her eyes gave Nikita the distinct impression that Madeline was not among her favorite people. "Will you have any problems bringing her in?" the girl laughed "I'd gladly kill her just for you except that Davenport would have my head," she rubbed at the black and blue mark spreading across her abdomen.
"Good, I'm glad to hear that, you may go," she smiled. "And don't forget about the clothes."
The girl turned and gave a smile, "Don't worry, I don't think I can," and with that Nikita was left alone.
Justine was next and did exactly as instructed by Nikita from the start. "Sit down." No problem she was obedient as a puppy. "I'm going to need an assistant and I believe you might just work out fine," she smiled at the girl before her. They were roughly the same age and Nikita noticed a hardness about her that reminded her of the face she saw in the mirror every morning. "Will there be any problems with drugs?" she knew that the woman before her had spent most of her life hooked and using.
"None, I've been clean since I came to Section and certainly don't want to go back" she smiled then showed the healed needled marks that were now barely visible.
"Good" she smiled putting the woman at ease. "Then you will be next in charge under me," she laughed then dismissed the thankful girl.
Nikita felt confident with the first two interviews but decided to break for lunch and a quick workout before resuming the last five interviews she had scheduled. When she made her way to the work out room, she found Michael already heavily sweating from what appeared to be a rather intense workout with the weight machines.
"Hi," he blew out with a deep breath.
"Hi yourself, trying out for Mr. Universe?" she teased after reaching over and testing a bulging muscle.
"Not hardly," he suppressed his own laugh. "Just getting prepared," he resumed his workout and together they struggled with the various machines, side by side often times taking a moment to spot one another.
They worked out for almost two hours, two bodies side by side pumping iron, doing stretches and kicks, sparring together and finally collapsing side by side on the mat. "You finished?" she sighed as she struggled for air. He simply nodded as a hand came up to wipe the cascade of sweat dripping off his brow. "You?" she nodded as she quickly rolled over trying to locate a cold bottle of water she had brought with her. A bit of disappointment crossed her face as she took a huge slug only to realize that the once cold liquid was now nearly room temperature.
"Well, I'd better get going" she stood up and slowly stretched "I've got five more interviews before I start their training,"
He stood up beside her "How's it going?" He had not felt a need to interview any of the men he would be working with. Davenport knew most of them and Michael trusted his judgment to where each operative would be placed when the time came.
"I thought one of the first would be trouble and who knows, she might just live up to my expectations but for now, they seem dependable enough," she picked up a towel and threw if over her shoulders. "I've gotta grab a shower, will I see you later?" she smiled and cocked her head waiting for an answer.
"Elena is fixing dinner for all of us," he didn't want her to think it was simply for him and the family.
"I'll see you tonight then." She turned and disappeared into the shower room.
She didn't bother to dry her hair, simply ran a comb through it and pulled it into a ponytail, she returned to her office and called in the next operative. Megan came in chewing a wad of gum much bigger than her mouth could comfortably hold. She blew bubble after bubble as Nikita perused the report in front of her. "Toss it." Nikita never lifted her head but pointed a slender finger toward the wastebasket. "Now!" yet the operative still chewed away like a cow in pasture. "You can hear right?" Nikita looked up as she watched the jaws churning away at the pink blob in the woman's mouth.
"Yeah, I heard ya," she snipped back.
"I said toss the gum" Nikita stared at her but the operative didn't move.
"I ain't done with it yet do ya mind?" the defiance emanated from the woman now seated across from her, leg crossed and swinging wildly.
Nikita put her hand down below the desk without alerting the operative across from her until she brought it back up now holding the gun she had been carrying. "I'll cancel you here and now if you don't toss the gum" she chambered a round as the wide eyes operative stopped in mid chew.
"Ya ain't serious?" she backed up as far as the chair allowed.
"Your choice" Nikita leveled the weapon directly toward her head.
"Fine, just checking" she quickly lifted the wad from her ruby red lips, deposited within a paper towel she had in her pocket then into the wastebasket Nikita had first indicated. "Sorry" she sat back this time, legs tightly held together.
Nikita carefully placed the weapon beside her on the desk. "Now, I hope this is the first and last bit of trouble I will have with you," a statement, not a question which Megan didn't miss. She nodded and the remainder of the time they were together was spent discussing the contents of her profile. She had broken the neck of another recruit but her story was that of self-defense, it had been the other woman who had attacked her and left little choice in the outcome. Nikita found holes in the story that Section had provided for how she had been recruited but she was used to that by now.
After their talk, Megan apologized for her lack of respect and returned to her quarters until Nikita summoned her. Nikita knew that they would probably have another run in before it was all over and would plan accordingly.
Rita was next. She looked nervous, almost like a deer in the headlights look and Nikita got the distinct feeling that this operative would gladly crawl into the nearest corner than be involved in any confrontation. She made a note to ask Davenport how she had worked out on previous missions although she was sure that if there had been any problems it would have been so noted in her profile. "How are you?" Nikita decided to try a different approach.
"Fine, just wondering why we're here?" she was straight to the face.
"Section is not happy with the fact that Madeline is out there running around beyond their control" she decided to be honest with this girl.
"I can understand that, what I don't understand is why they need all of us to bring in one person," she sat quietly studying Nikita.
"Obviously you've been introduced to Madeline a time or two?" the operative nodded. "Well, then, you know she is a formidable opponent to whomever she goes up against?" Nikita wanted all of them to understand that Madeline was not going to just go quietly.
"But she's one woman against an army," she seemed surprised and Nikita couldn't comprehend why this woman just wasn't getting it.
"Madeline is one of the highest trained operatives Section has ever had, she'd just as soon slit your throat with a toothpick then go back, what are you missing?" she was losing patience and wondered if Michael's approach might have been the correct one. Train them and get the job done, no questions allowed.
"She seemed nice enough when I met her" the girl just remained clueless.
"It's an act damn you why can't you understand that Madeline is pure evil?" she slammed a fist on the desk startling the woman seated before her.
"I'm sorry, I kinda liked her." The girl apologized and was a bit confused as Nikita jotted down note after note regarding the interview.
"Please return to your quarters till I call you," she looked up and dismissed the woman.
"Is this going to be a problem?" she stopped in front of Nikita "Because I liked Madeline and can't understand why Section needs an entire army to retrieve her?" she was afraid of being canceled and rightly so.
"Just do as I said," and with that Nikita waved her off.
Davenport came to her office soon after he was summoned "You wanted to see me?" he came in quietly closed the door and came to sit in the edge of her desk. "Is there a problem?" he saw the profiles with post it tabs sticking out of each.
"I can handle Chynna, Megan and Justine but something about Rita sits wrong with me," she showed him what she had gotten from the interview.
"She's always done her job when I've been on missions with her." He read her notes. "I know you have to keep her motivated and working but I didn't see this coming," he set the file back on the desk then turned to sit in the chair across from her. "She's obviously not going to work out on this mission," he sat hands folded under his chin. "And we can't send her back to abeyance without drawing some attention," he concluded.
"Why was she in abeyance to begin with, the reports on her were glowing about her being a well-adapted operative?" Nikita needed to know more before making her decision.
"She seemed to lose her edge." Davenport thought about it. "When did you say she was put in abeyance?" he sat forward. Nikita checked the date and realized what Davenport was thinking.
"About the same time that Madeline made her disappearance from Section." They both had their doubts now. It was suddenly clear that Madeline had always managed to remain one step ahead of Section yet they could never figure out how. "Apparently Miss Rita has more than simple admiration for Madeline."
Davenport knew what would be required next. "Shall I do it?"
Nikita shook her head, "No, I want to know more before I cancel her," she closed the file. "Can you bring her to," but she stopped. She didn't know if Jurgen had the equivalent to a White Room on the premises.
They looked at each other with a bit of amusement on their faces. "I'll check to see" he laughed then left the room to check the blueprints. Nikita was not happy to have to make this decision but keeping Rita alive would jeopardize the entire mission.