Belinda put both her hands up in the air as a sign that she was no threat to Madeline "What are you doing?" she backed as far as the door but was stopped by it being closed. "I'm on your side Madeline, you saved me from being canceled" she decided to play on Madeline's sense of self worth. "I've done everything you've asked me to so far, haven't I?" she put her hands down and stood there. Madeline lowered the weapon and laughed "I'm just making sure that you above everyone else understands that I demand strict loyalty" she turned and holstered the gun. "You have to understand something Belinda" she turned back to where Belinda was now leaning against the wooden door trying to bring her breathing back to normal. "And what is that Madeline?" she steadied herself, unsure that she'd make it across the room her legs were shaking so badly. "You don't trust anyone." She sat down and waited to see if Belinda would join her "It's as simple as that, Section teaches you not to depend on anyone but yourself and it's a lesson that should stick with you" she patted the sofa but still Belinda leaned heavily against the wooden door. "I think I'll just stand here for a few" she nodded.

Michael had the team ready for any assault but put them on hold until the hostiles showed their hand. "This could be a trap" he surveyed the fields from the observation tower. "Do you see Madeline?" Nikita stood beside him. "Teams one and two, hold you positions" he spoke into his Comm unit "no, she doesn't appear to be among them" he saw the first vehicle enter the compound and make a sharp turn into the protection of the trees. "Birkoff, first vehicle has reached their mark" he was calm, a good sign as far as Nikita was concerned. "Davenport what have you got?" he knew that Davenport had quickly positioned himself so that he'd be able to identify anyone that he might recognize as they entered the compound.

"Two hostiles, both males they appear to be armed but only doing surveillance" he watched as the two positioned themselves just in behind their vehicle and one withdrew binoculars as the other stood guard. "Second vehicle approaching" he informed them. The second vehicle, followed closely by the third entered the compound but stayed together. "They're grouped should we take them?" he asked prepared for whatever Michael decided. "No, they stand too good of a chance at escape, we don't have them surrounded" he noticed that they seemed to be talking but only one seemed to be checking out the place. "Everyone remain invisible, I don't want them to know we're waiting" his voice remained sure and calm "Any of them Madeline?" but his answer from each of the operatives was no.

They didn't stay long. Davenport took it that they'd been sent to see if they'd be met with hostility, instead Michael had every team member stand down and wait for them to take the initiative. When it became apparent that Madeline wasn't with them, Michael slowly brought the team in and the hostiles just as quietly disappeared. "Sir, we could have taken them!" Justine's voice sounded irritated.

"You were given an order Justine!" Michael's tone made it clear that he did not like being questioned by a mere operative. "But sir" she decided to continue, "We lost our window," but she was quickly cut off by Davenport.

"You were told to stand down, Michael doesn't have to explain his reasoning to you or anyone else!" his voice took on an ominous tone. "I was," she wasn't giving up. "Justine, you need to meet me right now, level three is that clear?" Davenport retorted. "Fine!" she sounded incredulous. Nikita turned to Michael, "She's just inexperienced," she felt the need to make excuses but he was having none of them.

"She's questioning authority Nikita, we can't have that going on with this mission," he placed the binoculars on the shelf then turned to face her. "I'm not risking this mission or anyone else for that matter on an operative that can't follow orders" he turned and left the tower. Nikita hurried behind him hoping to prevent another operative from being canceled. "Perhaps she can back up Birkoff? Help Walter?" she was having a hard time keeping up with his quick strides. Michael continued his pace to Level three.

Davenport was standing toe to toe with Justine and the argument was heated. "We could have taken them!" she was screaming. "You were issued an order!" he replied "This mission sucks, you could have taken them hostage," she was waving her hand in his face. "And do what with them Justine?" Michael's voice held the low venomous tone that Nikita knew meant that he was holding his temper in check.

"We could have used them to get to Madeline," she turned, apparently feeling she had all the answers.

"They have no value to Madeline don't you get that?" Nikita interjected hoping to diffuse the situation. "None of us mean anything to her. She uses us to get what she wants then has us sent to Abeyance," she got between Michael and Justine, "you need to learn to follow orders." She pulled her by the arm hoping that the girl would simply follow but she pulled back.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'm not finished here!" she screamed then turned back to Michael. "You lack leadership skills." Michael's cheekbones were showing and Nikita realized that the situation was getting past the point where Justine would be able to be spared. "You could have taken Madeline's team and weakened her defenses," she continued.

Nikita had enough, just as Michael stepped forward, Nikita reached out and grabbed a handful of Justine's black hair taking her by surprise "You need to come with me NOW!" and she got her arm around Justine's neck and applied just the right amount of pressure to knock her out.

"I'm sorry Michael." Davenport stepped forward and tossed the unconscious body over his shoulder. "I'll see to it that she doesn't cause anymore problem." Nikita looked at him then at Michael. "You can't cancel her!" she got directly in front of Michael. "We need everyone we have," she pointed out the obvious for sure but Michael couldn't risk having someone choosing to disobey direct orders. "She's a liability," he nodded to Davenport who started down the hall.

"She'll come around, I'll see to her myself." Nikita quickly realized that her pleas were falling on deaf ears. "Michael!" she grabbed his arm. "Nikita, it's going to be done, we can't risk having insurrection among the operatives, I'm sorry," he pulled away and left her standing there watching Davenport head off to the room and Michael back down the corridor.


...to be continued