Birkoff continued walking beside Operations as they moved steadily down the long corridor leading away from Van Access. "I have an awful lot of work to do now, do you need me for anything else?" he first glanced up at Operations but his attention was quickly diverted by the steady approach of two burly operatives.

"As a matter of fact Mr. Birkoff, I still have many questions for you" he motioned the men to either side of the younger man.

"I've told you everything I did while...." his voice quivered as he looked for a way out. "Just call George" he continued trying to buy time. "If I knew anything more I'd tell you," his eyes darted from the men to Ops and back.

"Take him to the White Room" he turned to leave. "I'll be with you in a little while Mr. Birkoff" he smiled then retreated as both men moved closer and took hold of Birkoff's arms.

"Don't do this, please?" he pulled back but was no match for either of the two operatives. "Birkoff, we have our orders" they apologized knowing that Birkoff was often their last line of defense when they needed a quick egress from various mission. "NO!" he shouted pulling harder and in the process dropping all the papers he had been carrying. "No, I'm not going with you" he continued to scream as they wrestled him to the ground.

"Birkoff don't fight it" the older of the two operatives tried in vain to calm him as the other operative quickly tied a restraint around his wrists.

"Stop, don't do this, I've saved your asses more times than I can count you know that" he fell backwards making himself as much dead weight as he could. He had absolutely no intentions of going quietly.

"Birkoff don't make this harder than it already is. Please?" they both pleaded with him. "We're sorry but if we don't do as we're told we'll be canceled" the bigger of the two grabbed him under his arms and the other took him by his legs, not an easy feat considering that Birkoff was squirming and kicking with all his might.

Michael had been doing a final weapons check when his palm unit went off. "Excuse me" he said to Davenport who had been in the middle of reading off the inventory check when they were interrupted.

"What is it?" he was growing increasingly impatient that this mission was constantly being delayed for various reasons. BIRKOFF TAKEN TO WHITE ROOM....COME AS SOON AS YOU CAN!" was the message typed into his unit. "Dam!" he hissed, closed the device and turned to face his third in command. "Find Nikita NOW!" he paced like a caged tiger. This was not going to help his cause. Once they made an appearance at Section, Operations would be able to put two and two together and know that they had never actually been on Mandatory Refusal. Davenport bolted out of the room and headed toward the gym where he knew Nikita was scheduled to work out with her team. She was in the middle of taking down two of her teammates when he crashed through the door. "Michael needs you NOW!" and turned before she could ask him what the problem was. "Now Nikita!" and he was gone...

She found them in the communications room and the moment she looked at Michael, she didn't imagine she was going to like what he had to say. "Birkoff was taken to the White room," he held up the unit so she could read the message for herself.

"Why?" her voice was loud and sharp. "What's the reason?" as if Michael would know. He shook his head and shrugged.

"We have two choices as I see it." He paced and she knew that he was deep in conflict within.

"What choices do we have?" she blocked his path. "We can do nothing, remain here and carry out our plans to get Madeline," she was violently shaking her head "No, absolutely not, I am not leaving Birkoff in the hands of that madman!" she hissed inches from his face. "Next choice?" she had her hands defiantly placed on her hips. "We go back and get him" she nodded "If we do, Operations will know we were working behind his back" he wanted her aware of all the consequences.

"If we go through with our original plan," he held up a hand to silence her as she started shaking her head no once again. "Maybe Walter can buy us the time we need to get Madeline and we can use her to bargain," he knew that she would never agree to this. "NO!" she turned her back and her long blond pony tail whipped across his face. "Absolutely not, how the heck is Walter supposed to handle this alone?" she turned to him then looked at Davenport who up until now had gone unnoticed in the corner of the room. "He's out numbered," she refreshed his memory. "Operations has nothing to lose by canceling both of them," she would not in good faith leave them to fend for themselves. "We can't do this Michael we have to go back," she was fighting for their lives now. "How many times have both of them covered for us?" she pleaded.

Michael knew she was right but still believed that they had a better chance with Madeline as a bargaining chip. "If we go back Nikita," he stopped not wanting to think what could happen, "we might not even be able to save ourselves let alone them." he looked at Davenport for back up. "At least with Madeline..." he began but she turned on both of them.

"We don't even know if she's coming," she pointed a finger. "Hell, we don't even know where she is right now," she took a deep breath. "We have to go back," she sighed. "We have to at least try to save them." Michael knew she was right...

Birkoff was quickly quieted by the sleeper hold the larger of the two operatives finally managed to get him in. "I hate this" he hoisted the unconscious younger man over his shoulder. "What choice do we have?" the younger of the two asked as he led the way to the White Room. "If Michael were here he'd know what to do...." They both nodded in agreement. When they got to the room, they gently lowered him into the chair, tightened the metal restraints around both wrists, ankles and his midsection. "Better wake him" the one said as the other broke open an ammonia capsule and held it under his nose. "Birkoff" he watched as the young man sputtered and coughed into consciousness. "NOooooooo!" his screams could be heard down the corridor.....



Birkoff now sat alone. It wasn't the first time he'd been inside the White room, only the first time he'd been strapped into the chair in the White room. He thought about the many times he'd heard Operations or Madeline instruct operatives to bring someone here and often wondered what it must be like to know you were being taken to a place where you're very existence could come to an end in the blink of an eye. Now he knew. He studied the walls, the restraints even testing their strength against his and wondered how many others had done the same. Probably all of them he mused. The chair was a steel structure, not built for comfort of course but certainly made to keep someone from slumping down or being able to pull away to avoid the many ways they might find themselves being tortured.

He thought about the time Michael was brought here during the Zalman episode. He's been tortured both physically and mentally when Ops supplied the fact that he had a son to Zalman. He admired Michael for being strong enough to stand up to everyone. He remembered Nikita being brought to the White Room as well when there was a question of which operative broke and gave a location to one of Section's substations. He often thought about asking her how it felt, until now but she never mentioned it and he felt uncomfortable reminding her of something so unpleasant.

He thought about Walter as well. He wondered if his friend had found the message or had he been kept away by some devious plans of Operations and now had now clue as to what might become of Birkoff. He hoped his hunch was right that Walter would get curious as to why he had been missing and never took the time to say good-bye. He hoped. Then his thoughts turned to Madeline... For the first time he could almost feel sorry for her as he thought about what it now felt like being turned on by Operations. How difficult it must have been being physically dragged toward a room where she once reigned supreme. He didn't know why this all replayed in his head but thought that this must be normal when you are about to die.

He continued to think about his life in Section. How could you call it a life? He sat back, as far as the chair allowed and closed his eyes, perhaps death would be better after all. The door creaked open and his eyes snapped open to find Operations standing before him. "Shall we begin Mr. Birkoff?" his hands were clasped behind his back and there was no trace or hint of what he was feeling or thinking.



Michael knew Nikita was probably right. He wanted badly to bring Madeline in with them and show Operations that there were reasons that he had been forced to run a parallel mission. He knew that she would be the only thing that might keep them all from being canceled but didn't want to dredge up anymore problems for Nikita.

Nikita knew that Michael was very conflicted at this point. She knew his reasons for wanting to continue the mission were valid. She knew what a huge risk simply walking back into Section while they were supposedly under Mandatory Refusal would be but she couldn't justify sitting back and doing nothing while Walter and Birkoff were left to deal with a situation both were ill equipped to go up against. She didn't know it yet, but she was severely underestimating Walter's resolve to save himself and his friend.

Walter had put the finishing touches on his plans. He carefully removed the only picture of Belinda he had and placed it inside the pocket of his well worn denim jacket. "I love you sweetheart" he had placed a gentle kiss on it after studying her features. "We might be together sooner than you think," he closed his eyes and steadied himself against the workspace that took up most of the center of Munitions. After today, Walter knew that nothing would ever be the same again. He looked around the room that had been his own domain for the past 20 of the 25 years he had been in Section and memorized every detail. He didn't know why since he could find anything with his eyes closed but he did it anyway. Perhaps his way of saying good-bye to the only life he had known in so long.

Davenport busied himself loading all the ammunition they might need onto the van that Jurgen had stored in his version of Van Access. He took whatever he thought they might need and a few extras that he had admired after studying the entire collection. He wondered why it was that he might be so willing to follow Michael into what he knew might just be a death trap. Wouldn't it have been simpler to stay behind and complete the mission that Operations had started? It would certainly move him up in his levels. What a feather in his proverbial cap to be the one who captured Madeline while Michael was busy trying to save whom? His friends? Did Section actually allow you to have them? So many questions he couldn't answer yet he knew that even if it meant his own death, he would stand beside Michael and Nikita both against the one man that held their lives within his power. Oh yes, Section might not allow friends but that is what he believe Michael and Nikita to be, his friends and friends stood together through thick or thin.

Madeline finished with her last minute details and decided that now was as good a time as any to contact Jurgen. "Is this really a good idea?" Alan had questioned her at every turn. "We could be out of the country by nightfall" he stopped her hands as they lifted the phone from the receiver. "Think about it" his eyes pleaded with hers. "I have and I don't intend to spend every moment I have left on this planet running from my past," she shook her hand free. "Madeline don't do this, we could be free, we could be together," he turned and started to walk away as she began to dial the telephone.

"We can't be free while Section is after us." she watched him fighting some inner demons. "This will work," she assured him as she heard the ringing as her call was being connected.

They stood together in the living room. Michael, Nikita, Davenport and Elena as they spent what might very well be the last minutes together. Michael knelt down and drew Adam close to his side. "Remember that I love you okay?" he kissed his cheek.

"Are you going away Daddy?" the little boy's eyes brimmed with, as of yet, unshed tears.

"I have to Adam," he apologized. "But I'll be back if I can." he looked into the eyes of the one woman outside of Section who actually once loved him. "Take care of him and yourself," he stood up.

"I will" she whispered knowing that any attempts to talk him into staying would fall on deaf ears.

"Arrangements have been made for both of you" he kissed her cheek. "You'll want for nothing," he promised and looked confused as she pulled away.

"I'll always want the father of my son in his life, can money buy that?" she was hurt and angry. Not so much for herself but for her son who had just been reunited with the man he loved. "I, we have no other choice..." his thoughts were interrupted by a ringing telephone and immediately all their eyes met.

Elena walked to the sideboard where the phone sat. "Hello?" her soft accented voice whispered into the hand piece. "I'm sorry who is this?" she covered the mouthpiece. "It's her" she pointed to the phone. "Her?" Nikita looked stunned "Her as in Madeline?" Elaine excitedly nodded her head. "I'm sorry Madeline, yes this is Elena but Jurgen isn't here right now" she lied...