Breakfast and the briefing were over, and JT. had left them sitting in the sun. Michael hadn't felt this comfortable and safe anywhere else in his life, and was content to just sit and enjoy Nikita's company.
"What are you thinking?" She asked him.
Michael smiled and said, "I was not thinking anything, just enjoying the peace and quiet and your company."
Nikita was amazed at his openness and the genuine smile. Who was this Michael? And how long would it last?
Pushing her luck she asked, "Michael, when this is over what happens to all these people? I mean we have no cover, they know we're from Section and Moon Dancer really seems to know so much that Madeline wants her brought back to Section? What can we do to protect them?"
Michael let his mind go over the many possibilities and didn't like any of them.
"I don't know what we can do for everyone, Nikita. The tribe and counsel will be fine, and so will JT if he survives, the take down of the Red Cell operatives tomorrow night. But I don't know about Moon Dancer."
He signed and closed his eyes and tried to see a way around Madeline's directive to return with her for questioning. Nothing came to mind, no brilliant plan or contingence. Unless Moon Dancer did not survive the attack, she would have to come with them and . . . Michael opened his eyes and smiled at Nikita.
"She has to die during the attack!"
Nikita looked at him as if he had lost his mind!
"Are you sure you don't need to lie down Michael? We don't want her dead. We want her out of Section." The idea hit Nikita as soon as she finished speaking. Of course! If Moon Dancer were to die, she couldn't go with them!
"Brilliant, so how do we pull that off?"
"Let's go inside and try to plan a convincing death for the lovely Moon Dancer," Michael said with a smile and a much lighter heart.
It was early evening when Moon Dancer made her way over to the clinic to check on Michael and Nikita. From her watchers she knew they had eaten their meals outside and that Michael had rested most of the day. If he was strong enough, she would release him to the hotel room for the rest of their stay. It would give them more space and a lot more privacy. She was also curious about the plans Section had for her and for the Red Cell group that was intent on taking over the resort. If their plans were compatible with her own, she would let Section deal with the outside Red Cell group while she personally handled the operatives here. Then, whatever happened after the ceremony. She hadn't planned on staying at the reservation. She was to tempting a target for certain other groups and Section would be a problem too. Her people would be safe and Michael and Nikita would be safe! That was enough.
Wa-ya was waiting for her at the clinic door.
"How are they tonight?"
And with that she entered the clinic, and found the two operatives in the outer room talking with JT.
"So here you all are plotting behind my back?"
JT. blushed and got up to leave, 'how could she know so much,' he thought.
Moon Dancer caught his arm and gently said, "Please don't go, I would really like to know your plans and I didn't mean to make you feel guilty."
Nikita avoided her eyes. Only Michael could look at her and he blushed as well.
"We have been planning and I think we have come up with a way to satisfy everyone, maybe. Would you listen, hear me out before you comment?"
Moon Dancer looked at Michael and then looked deeper into the depths of
those green eyes. So he was going to protect her and try to keep her from
sacrificing her life and put his own in danger!
"Well we will see," she thought, sitting down, and said, "I'm listening."
Moon Dancer had heard Michael out and then her only comment was, "That's an interesting plan, lets see how it works out." She then smiled at them all, and told Michael and Nikita they could leave the clinic and go back to their hotel room. Then she simply got up and left!
JT was the first to comment, and he wasn't encouraged at all with Moon Dancers lack of response. Michael wasn't fooled either. What would she do? Tomorrow night would answer that question as that was the next time they would all be together. So they had gone their separate ways for the night.
As they got back to the room Nikita was struck by the fact they had only one bed and she wasn't entirely sure of what to do. Michael must have been thinking the same thing.
He turned to her and asked, "Do you want me to sleep on the couch?"
She thought gallant gentlemen as always and replied, "If I weren't so tired and you weren't hurt, I would hit you as hard as I could! So let's just share the bed and pretend we are mature adults. OK, Michael?"
He smiled, again, and said to her angry stare, "As you wish, Nikita. I do not want to make you uncomfortable. I would be happy to share the bed with you." He then gently kissed her on her forehead and crawled gratefully into bed. Nikita was mildly stunned by his words and actions. This was getting to be more unreal and she wondered again where was the Michael she knew? Fatigue won out and she also went to bed. Sometime in the night they curled up together and slept dreamlessly till the dawn cast its light banishing the dark night.
The day was spent preparing for the evening ceremony. JT came to escort them to the reservation and a tour of area. This was going to be limited to the people of the tribe and select others. Nikita was worried, there were so many variables and this operation was so multilayered that timing was going to be the key to failure or success! She was also getting worried about Michael. He was pushing himself too hard! Would he have enough left for tonight? She knew he wasn't indestructible but he would do what ever was needed to get the job done.
Moon Dancer was also making preparation of her own for tonight and she would see to the safety of her people and the Section operatives. The sun would be down soon and the ceremony would start. If she survived this night she would have to choose between the darkness of revenge or to change and serve something else. Michael and Nikita did not know she was aware of Section's interest in her and her 'gifts'. Well her death one way or another would take care of a lot of loose ends. She needed to decide which 'end' would take her!
All the camp fires at the reservation were extinguished, all the lights turned off, except the one large fire that burned in the sacred grove. Michael and Nikita were positioned in the tree line scanning for uninvited guests. The three other Red Cell operatives were in the circle, bound and guarded by JT's security people.
Music started playing, flutes and drums and chanting. That was the start of the ceremony and Moon Dancer entered the grove and added her voice to the music. She was dressed in traditional white buckskin dress, white boots and fancy beaded shawl. In her hair was the eagle feather braided on the left side to show her statice as medicine women. The moon wasn't full as it had been in Michael's dream but the wolf was there and he knew the eagle was near!
Moon Dancer glowed from the fire light. She lifted her arms to the sky
and sang first to the Creator above, then to Earth Mother below. She then
turned in the four directions and sang to them.
Michael softly asked Nikita, "Do you see anyone?"
Nikita answered "Negative, no movement in my area."
The ceremony was near its completion and still no trouble, what were they missing? Moon Dancer took a torch from the fire and handed it to Standing Bear. He took it and lit another fire signaling that all the fires should be relit and lights came on throughout the grove. That's when the assassin struck.
Nikita saw him first, "Michael, the pool, there's movement in the pool behind Moon Dancer!"
Michael tried to get a clear line of sight to the figure behind Moon Dancer and was blocked by her and the bond fire that lit the grove with its flickering light.
"Nikita, I can't get a shot. Can you take him out?" his voice was anything but calm!
This was not in their plans at all and he hated the helpless feeling of having no control over the events.
She would die and he would blame himself for failing to protect her.
Nikita's voice came over the com. link, "Michael, I don't have a shot either! Where are JT.'S people? Do they have a shot?"
"Negative. His people are on this side of the grove too."
Michael stared at Moon Dancer trying to will her to look behind her and
see the danger there.
Moon Dancer was aware of the danger and, in the time between one heart beat and the next, time stopped. She was in the grove still but here was the white light of the full moon and her spirit guides waited for her. There was the presence of another.
"Moon Dancer, why do you seek the shadow lands before your time?" asked the silvery moon light.
She raised her eyes to Moon Brother and with tears falling as silvery drops onto the ground answered.
"I seek to leave behind the pain of my heart and rest from the trials this life has offered me."
There was great sadness in the voice of light, "You would leave those who care for you? And what of the work you have begun in Tlv-da-tsi? If you leave this night he will fall once again into darkness, with little hope of healing. Is this the true desire of your heart, little sister?" Moon Dancer looked to the place that Michael's spirit held in the grove, and saw what was reflected by the moon beams. He was ready to blame himself for this nights failure. He was not willing to see that others cared for him and would also give their lives up to save his.
She knew if she did not return with them to Section, both operatives would
suffer greatly. But if she did go with them, Section was not a place for
a healer! The killer in her would be fore most and her gentleness would
be crushed to dust. That alone would destroy her empathic gift of healing
with the laying on of her hands. If she died, now, could she let the healing
of one so hurt, go unfinished?
"What of To-wo-di ? She will also not survive if you leave the healing of her heart-love undone," the soft silvery light asked.
Nikita was linked to Michael and she saw the tie that, if broken, would take her life as well. The tears flowed freely from Moon Dancer as she examined these pieces.
With deep sorrow she turned again to Moon Brother and said, "To live, I must take the life of my enemy. What will my punishment be for the shedding of his blood in the grove?"
He answered, "Then you will choose to stay in the light and not enter the shadow lands until called?"
Moon Dancer whispered, "v v" (yes).
The light in the grove grew to an unearthly brightness and Moon Dancer closed her eyes in pain.
"You will shed your blood tonight too and then do as you will be guided. We will always be at hand little sister, never fear.
With that assurance, her heart finished it's beat, and she was back in the game.
Moon Dancer looked into Michael's eyes, and she knew she would not let this one suffer any more pain, or even self hate, for her mistakes. In one motion she turned drew her knife and threw it as the assassin fired two shots. The knife appeared in her enemy's throat as the first bullet took her in the chest and spun her around as the second found its mark in her leg. Pain, fire and then wetness, she felt the paths of destruction into her chest and felt the lungs start to fill with blood.
"OK Healer, heal your self or fail in the task given to you."
She turned inward and started the healing songs. Michael was quickly by her side, and protectively stood over her as JT. went to the body by the pond.
"He's dead," JT. said and looked to Michael, and then down at Moon Dancer.
He knelt and saw her struggling to breathe as the stain of blood on her chest.
"She's alive, but the lung is hit as well as she's bleeding heavily from the thigh." Nikita came over to stand by the gravely injured women.
"Will she make it?" Nikita quietly asked. Moon Dancer forced her eyes open and looked into the green ones above her.
"I choose life," she said and, smiling, slipped into a healing sleep.
Michael and Nikita were seated in Madeline's office. They had been ordered to report to her directly from the van. Michael was in obvious pain, his chest had tightened up and started throbbing the farther they got from the reservation. He had a pounding headache to go with it. Nikita didn't look much better. The dark circles under her eyes made her look like she had been beaten. Madeline took into account that, after the second attack, she had ordered them to evacuate and bring the girl with them. They had disobeyed her order and would now give her a good reason!
"I am waiting, Michael. Why did you leave the girl behind?"
Michael raised his eyes, trying to calm the inner turmoil, and explain their reason.
"Moon Dancer was critically wounded after the ceremony. She was moved to
the reservation clinic and remains in critical, but stable, condition.
She will not be going anywhere until she heals."
Of course, he was not going to add she could heal her self faster then anyone. He had to close his eyes. The pain in his head was making him nauseous.
"You can send in a team to retrieve her later."
"Nikita, you agree with Michael's evaluation of her condition?" Madeline looked to her for confirmation. Both operatives were protecting this Moon Dancer person!
"Yes, I agree with Michael, she was injured and won't leave the clinic till healed." Nikita was getting much better at hiding her emotions.
"Very good. Michael, report to med-lab for evaluation and, Nikita, stay in Section tonight. I will expect your full report tomorrow." She smiled and let them leave.
This was a definite puzzle and Madeline would take her time thinking about this one. "Michael, do you think she believes us?" Nikita softly asked.
"We told her the truth, Nikita." But Michael knew Madeline would not leave it at that. "She will have the reservation under surveillance for a while. Then, I don't know. Leave it alone, Nikita. We will work something out later if we need to."
Nikita nodded and helped Michael to med-lab.
Operations entered the office from the other door.
"Well, what of their report?"
Madeline turned to face Operations and calmly answered, "They were able to trace the identity of a Red Cell mole in the tribal's outside legal counsel. With his identity, Mr.Birkoff has bank transfers and other accounts Red Cell uses. We will be able to cripple them financially."
"And the girl?" Operations asked.
Madeline let some of the irritation she felt into her voice.
"They are protecting her. But as stated she is critically injured and will not be leaving the reservation in the near future. I have people en route to the location to maintain surveillance. She won't get away from us for long."
Operations shook his head and wondered why this one had captivated Madeline's
attention. Poor girl.
Moon Dancer was resting in the clinic, for the night, when JT entered with a cell phone. "Your contact in the Mosad would like an update on the money transfers you made out of Red Cell's accounts. Are you up to speaking with her?"
She sighed, "No rest for the wicked," and took the call.
"Yes, what is the problem?". . . .
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