Walter finished what he had to attend to and then made his way to Medlab. Apparently everyone in Section must have been made aware of what had transpired in the White Room because immediately upon slipping inside the doors, everyone turned and smiled in his direction. This was not something that Walter wanted nor welcomed. Up until now, he'd always managed to blend in and appear to be following Section's rules and now he was the center of attention.
One of the nurses came up to him. "Birkoff's over there," she motioned to a curtained room. She'd been the one who sedated and restrained Operations and afterwards had maintenance install a curtain to give Birkoff some sense of privacy.
"Oh, well, thanks, how is he?" he whispered as she took his arm to accompany him to the appointed area.
"He's got a killer headache and he said his face is hurting him again but considering the alternative," she shrugged. "He owes you his life," she turned to walk away but not before she heard Walter whisper to no one in particular, "Just paying him back," she wondered what that meant but thought better of asking.
"Birkoff?" he whispered, fear kept him from moving closer before he saw that Birkoff was awake. "You okay?" his voice remained at a whisper.
"Walter is that you?" once more Birkoff had to fight off the blinding glare from the overhead lights.
"Yeah Birkoff, it sure is," he sounded tired and for once actually felt every one of his years as he slowly made his way over to his friend. "How you feeling Amigo?" he studied the bandaged area under Birkoff's eye then noticed the red welts on each side of his temples. "Man he did a number on you, you're sure you're okay?" he didn't want to touch anything that might cause his friend discomfort.
"He could have killed me, Walter what did you do?" his voice was full of shock and amazement.
"What I should have done a long time ago," he pulled a stool up then slowly sat down. "I could have killed him Seymour, I could have sat there and watched him die and no one would have blamed me," he looked about ready to cry.
Birkoff reached out and touched his friend's hand. "Why didn't you?" he knew that an answer might be impossible but he had to know.
"Because, then I'd have been no better than them." Birkoff knew whom he meant. "I'd have been judge, jury and executioner just like they are," he rested his head on his arms as he leaned against the gurney. "But I could have, it would have been so easy," his sobs came in agonizing detail and each shook Walter to his very core. "I would have if he'd killed you," was all he managed to blurt out before his body was once again overcome by sobs.
"He didn't," Birkoff reassured his friend, "and it's because of you that he didn't get the chance." He attempted to sit upright but the pain in his head seemed to grow with the effort.
Birkoff didn't know how to comfort Walter. He knew that Walter did what he had because of his friendship. Because of him Walter risked facing the wrath of Oversight, being canceled by Operations which was still a very real possibility. He wished that the Madeline mission would have been over and he'd have had the chance to speak with Nikita or Michael. Instead, he could only sit there, best he could and pat the arm of his best friend.
They came in the middle of the night, 10 men and women that Section believed had been canceled by Madeline. Former operatives first sent to Abeyance and then supposedly off to missions where any hope of returning was quickly destroyed once they read their panels. She'd saved the best for herself knowing that their gratefulness at having been saved and allowed to lived freely of Section would one day be the reason they would eagerly back her up. It was a promise that each had made in return for their lives and now came the time to anti up.
Alan woke to find Madeline seated at the table surrounded by a bunch of people apparently quite familiar with her. "Good morning Alan," she smiled as his look of confusion brought amusement to the others. "I'd like you to meet some members well, former members of Section One," she introduced them one by one with the exception of one of the woman who had been in the bathroom during the introductions. "And that would be Belinda," she pointed in the direction of the flushing noise."
Alan rubbed his palms across his face "So this is our back up?" And Madeline nodded. "Why? Why would they want to help us?" he sat on the edge of the radiator.
"Well it's because of me they're alive," she was jotting notes and had the Arial map laid out on the table between them all. "We're going to go in two layers out with you and I taking point," she drew a line directly around the compound. "There'll be five members of each team with Chris and Belinda each taking lead position," she continued and everyone but Alan seemed aware of what she meant. "Two layers?" he waited for someone to explain. "Section One goes into areas in layers we saturate each area with as many operatives as needed so that if one unit, layer or ring of operatives are discovered or worse, taken out, we're prepared with backup," he seemed satisfied.
"Why are we taking point?" he wasn't clear on Section One's methods.
"Because I'm in charge of the entire mission and couldn't possibly send in a team without me," she sounded like this happened every day.
"Ummm...Madeline?" Belinda spoke up. "When's the last time you actually did any field work?" she didn't ask to embarrass her but simply because each person was hoping to not only survive this mission but to also return to their lives outside of Section as Madeline had promised.
"When Michael was wounded behind enemy lines," she answered honestly. "You don't forget your operative training" she certainly sounded confident.
"Sorry, just checking?" she turned beet red as she sunk back into her chair.
"I understand that for most of you, working in the field with me seems strange but I've done quite a bit of field work and as you can all clearly see, I've survived this long." The tight lipped smile returned.
They were dismissed for the moment and most chose to find the local diner and grab some breakfast. Belinda and Chris decided to find a corner booth away from the others and discuss the upcoming mission. "I'll be glad when this is over," Chris opened a menu and made his selection to the waitress hovering nearby. "Eggs over easy, bacon and sausage, toast well buttered and coffee black," she jotted it down and turned her attention to Belinda "And for you Miss?" she waited. "Just toast, plain and black coffee for me" she absentmindedly answered before turning her attention back to their conversation.
"I'm going back to Section when this is over" her announcement almost made Chris's jaw drop.
"Are you insane?" he nearly spilled the water he had taken a sip from. "Why?" he studied her face and realized she was serious.
"Because I married Walter before they 'killed' me," she thanked the waitress who deposited their cups of coffee. "I love him Chris and every day without him is hell," she stirred the hot steaming liquid.
"Section is hell to ya know?" he studied her features.
"I know, but I figure after this mission, it will be my decision." She wondered if she had said to much. Chris didn't know that she had no intentions of fighting operatives with the experience of Michael, Nikita and Davenport. She didn't know if she would actually come up against them only that Madeline was probably being hunted for leaving Section and that if Operations was going to send anyone to get her back, it would be the top three operatives in Section One. She had no intentions of dying at their hands whatever it took.
"Whatever it takes," she whispered, unaware that her words were said just loud enough for Chris to hear.
"Michael, we've got company," were the words he wasn't prepared to hear as Davenport returned to what was now their communications and planning area.
"What do you mean?" he looked up from the arial map that he and Nikita had been studying.
"Tyler came back and said that someone appeared to be scouting the outer ridge of the compound but didn't know if the person was alone" he stood waiting for what he wasn't sure.
"Was Tyler spotted?" he rolled up the map as Nikita came around the desk. "Is the person still in the area?" she was checking the gun that she'd started carrying at all times.
Davenport pulled the radio from his field vest pocket "Team leader is target still in the area?" he waited for a moment. "Team leader do you read me?" his voice remained steady as he waited for some response. "Target is moving to the East perimeter of the compound what do you want us to do?" he knew that taking out the target would be a decision only Michael or Nikita could make.
"Tell him to take him out of play" Michael pulled an assault weapon from the case beside the desk. "Take him alive and bring him to me," he motioned Nikita to follow him "Davenport, cover the East perimeter and head him off" Davenport acknowledged the order and immediately left the room.
"What do you want me to do Michael?" Nikita watched his every move. "Prepare to interrogate the prisoner," and with that he quickly followed Davenport.
The target had been watching the compound for a better part of the hour and so far had nothing to report. No one seemed to come in or go out. The shades or whatever window coverings there were concealed any amount of light leakage so the operative didn't know how many people might actually be inside. The thought running through the operative's mind was that had they been on an actual Section run mission, Birkoff could have confirmed hotspots, thermals on the amount of hostiles they might be encountering...but this was plain stupid. The team would be going in with no read on the situation. Madeline had been unable to earth so much as building plans on the compound so everyone knew they could be walking into a dead end.
"We don't even know how to enter the building or if it's even possible!" Alan had screamed at her upon hearing the plans she'd laid out. "We're walking in blind for God sakes" he looked like an insane person who was ranting and raving yet each operative knew he was justified. So it was that the operative was sent to observe the compound and try to get a visual on the situation.
The night was still, no breeze to even move the leaves of the canopy of trees the operative took cover in. Crickets sawed a serenade to each other and the occasional hoot of an owl overhead was the only sounds that could be heard. Several times the sounds stopped and the operative could only listen to the beating of a quick racing heart. Too bad that the target was becoming comfortable with the occasional silence otherwise they might have taken it as a warning instead of some type of break that the insects and animals might have been taking. They might have noticed that this break was unusually longer than any of the previous ones. Might have even paid more attention to the hairs prickling on the back of their neck just before the noose slipped silently over their heads gliding downward to quickly tighten around their neck taking away any chance of fighting back.
It only took a moment but the target was contained. "Target has been acquired" was the report that came across the two ways of Michael, Davenport and Nikita. "What should we do with him?" they hadn't removed the hood covering the target's face. "Bring him in." came the response from Michael.
Nikita was waiting at the access door for the return of Davenport, Michael and their target. It didn't take long and Nikita had to hand it to whomever this person was, they were not going quietly. Instead they twisted and turned trying desperately to land even one kick to the people around them. The hood that had been thrown over their head made locating a target even more impossible as Michael and Davenport dragged the person toward Nikita. "I want to see whom we're dealing with" she said as she reached up to remove the hood and then the person's mask. "Let's just have a look," she smiled but it was quickly erased from her face. "Belinda?" everyone looked stunned.
Belinda stood before her, arms still pinned behind her back as Michael and Nikita exchanged glances. "Belinda? You both know her?" Davenport looked surprised.
"She's an Abeyance operative from Section" Michael relaxed his grip on her arm.
"I thought you were dead?" Nikita was still stunned.
"Technically, I am," she hoped they would understand that she was on their side. "To Section that is," she gently pulled her arm free of Davenport's hold. "I'm not the only one," she knew that she'd need to act fast if she was going to prove her worth to them.
"What do you mean?"
Oh, Michael hadn't changed one bit and a slight smile creased her lips. "There are ten of us who were supposedly killed on missions," she wanted to connect with Nikita.
"What are you doing here?" he motioned for her to start walking down the corridor.
"I'm here scouting for Madeline," she walked between Nikita and Michael now with Davenport bringing up the rear.
"For what purposes?" still those short and to the point questions of his. God she wished just once he'd have even a hint of expression to his voice. "Madeline is planning on..." but she stopped.
"Madeline is planning what?" he turned and stared directly in her face.
"No, we have to make a deal before I do this," she pulled back a bit and made space between her and Michael.
"A deal? You're in no position..." but Nikita stopped him. "What is it you want Belinda?" she came to stand between the woman and Michael.
"I want to know that after all of this is over, I can return to Walter" she decided that honestly truly was going to be the best policy. "You want to go back to Section?" the incredulous tone of her voice made Belinda smile once again. "I love him Nikita, what can I say?" she simply shrugged.
"Fine, I don't see how you think that Operations is going to overlook the fact you're supposed to be dead but if that's what you want." she turned to see that Michael and Davenport would agree to the term. Both nodded.
"Madeline is planning a strike, I don't know when," she held up her hands knowing that this would be Michael's next question. "But apparently she thinks that taking Jurgen out and taking over this place will give her somewhat equal footing to Section." She knew it sounded ridiculous even to her.
"And you say there are ten of you?" Davenport wanted to warn his team about what they would be up against. "Ten with me, twelve with Alan and Madeline," she shook her head. "How is Walter?" she couldn't help herself, she'd waited so long to get any information on her husband.
"Having a hard time dealing with your death, he almost killed Operations when he found out you'd been killed" she felt comfortable telling Belinda this. "That poor sweet man" she sighed.
At some point, Michael and Davenport realized that Belinda really was on their side and together with Nikita and the rest of their teams they met in the comm room to discuss their plans. Belinda would be returning to Madeline as a sort of 'Trojan Horse" telling her that she'd found only a handful of men at best and that none appeared to be any sort of challenge to her team. She'd require one more scouting mission before the actual strike and take that opportunity to inform Nikita and Michael when it was going down. "I promise, all I want is to see Walter again," she smiled, hugged Nikita and returned.
True to her word, she informed Madeline that other than four or five men, Jurgen appeared to be over confident in his abilities and didn't seem as well protected as he should have. Madeline knew that Jurgen wouldn't have had an entire army since he trusted very few people. Less to have to worry about stabbing him in the back.