- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Canon Divergent
- Established Relationship
- Science Fiction
Tony tightened his belt over his green tunic and then knelt down to double-check the laces in his short boots. The clothes were comfortable and utilitarian while allowing free movement. He checked his hair in the mirror and headed to the door. Bouncing twice in place he counted down until his escort would arrive.
Lasi, the jaffa who was in charge of Tony and Rodney’s security, opened the door to their quarters exactly on schedule. In the week they had been on this world, Tony had kept track of all the scheduled movements. The jaffa was nothing if not prompt. You could set a watch by the man’s movements.
Lasi looked like an extra from a fantasy combat movie. Brown hair braided back down the center of his head just highlighted the stylized ball shape tattooed into his forehead. He was dressed in a mixture of high tech metal and chain mail armor.
He slid out of the room and next to Lasi before the door finished opening. Since the door was automated, they had to stand there until it finished opening before Lasi could trigger it to close. It was only seconds, but he knew it irritated the guard and threw him off his stride.
Instead of heading in the direction of Peitho’s private rooms, Lasi turned toward the common dining hall. Tony raised an eyebrow at the change but didn’t comment. Stopping at the doorway, Lasi stepped inside and to the side to wait for Tony to enter. When Tony hesitated just inside the door, uncertain why he was here today, Lasi grabbed his arm and practically dragged him toward the food line. Then he just glared at Tony without speaking.
“What’s wrong, Lassie? Is Timmy stuck in the well?” Tony asked with suitable excitement in his voice.
Lasi broke his blank face for a moment with the barest hint of confusion before he grunted and turned to stalk out of the room.
Considering it a terrific win, Tony coasted over to the food line and filled a bowl with the grain mash that constituted breakfast. He added the minced dried blue fruit to sweeten it while reaching for a skewer of mystery meat and a cup of the tea that was served with every meal here.
He recognized several of the servants and workers who were eating, but their whispers were subdued, and their gazes did not welcome him to join them. Instead he picked an empty table to sit and begin eating. It was less than a minute before two more came to sit at his table.
He smiled openly at them, determined to not break character. One of the rules every undercover operative had to know was that once you built the persona, never break character. Never give them a reason to doubt.
He looked over his table-mates. It was hard to determine their age. They both appeared young enough, but from what he had learned thus far, that was frequently faulty. Both wore their hair extremely short, almost shaved, as was the usual style on base. Tony dreaded anyone thinking he needed a haircut before he and McKay could take action.
He checked how his companions tried to show nonchalance and ever so slightly failed. Daonos was an intense man. Standing just a few inches shorter than Tony, he was muscular and was training hard to understand the automation systems in this facility. Tony was frequently asked to play light switch for him as Rodney called it.
The man was a little too intense and dedicated to his task for Tony’s taste. But he would engage in minor small talk if it worked its way around system operations. On the other hand, you put McKay in Daonos’ path, and he would try to chat for hours.
On the other side was Tirana. Black hair, dark brown eyes, and all the poise of a dancer. She gave the impression of always being in perfect control. Of her body and her environment. She was researching the stasis field and integrated shielding technology. Yet another McKay groupie, she seemed to have a small crush on Rodney and would frequently blush when she received his praise. It was adorable, and Rodney was completely clueless and couldn’t be bothered to remember their names.
“Do you worry about Dr. McKay’s health?” Tirana inquired as she started to mix the fruit into her bowl.
Tony froze a moment, did something happen? “I wasn’t. Did something happen to Dr. McKay this morning?” McKay had an analysis running on one of the systems and had adjusted his sleep schedule accordingly. He had originally planned to work all night until Tony reminded him that they were trying to keep this slow.
Tirana looked up. “No. But that is the third time since you came here that you have asked Lasi about his welfare. Though I do not understand why you call Dr. McKay Timmy. I have spoken to him about this, but he assured me that it is not his name.”
Tony laughed out loud. “No. On my world, Lassie is the name of a dog. Um…animal we keep as a pet? It can be trained to do jobs for us like fetch and protect. Timmy was a character in the show. He was the child that owned the dog.” Tony bit back his smile at her confused expression. “I guess it’s a cultural thing.”
“I have heard rumor that Tau’ri have strange beliefs,” Daonos added softly.
“I suppose some of us do.” Tony took a bite and swallowed before continuing. “What about your people? What kind of beliefs do you have?”
“We believe in living to serve our Lord Peitho. What else would anyone wish to do but serve their god?” Daonos responded before looking away and picking up the meat stick to take a bite.
“Yes, right. Serving your god. I guess I can see where you could find that fulfilling.” Tony choked back his desire to tell them what he really thought of their God.
Tirana gave Daonos a quelling look. “We are honored to work on a project of such importance to Lord Peitho. It is rare to receive as much of his personal attention as we have been blessed with recently. It is unfortunate that he was forced to leave us at such a critical juncture. What with yourself and Dr. McKay working so diligently to gain access to the ship. Our understanding of the systems has increased tenfold with just your presence, Agent DiNozzo.”
Tony prevented himself from reacting to her words while his heart began to race. “You mean Peitho…I mean, Lord Peitho is no longer here?”
“No, he left during the night. But do not be alarmed; he will return periodically to check on our progress.” Tirana patted in sympathy.
“I suppose he would be able to move around quickly through that chapa, um…that stargate thing?” Tony fumbled over the goa’uld word.
Tirana looked at him, puzzled a moment. “You mean the chappa’ai.” She stated before shaking her head. “No, there is no chappa’ai on this world. The Gods did not place one to maintain security for their shipyard. Lord Peitho travels to and from this world in his ship. By his command, we are to make this world our home. If he desires in his wisdom for us to serve on another world, then he will arrange our transportation.”
“I guess that’s good. So, do we know how long he will be gone this time?” Tony asked lightly as if the answer did not matter to him.
“It is unknown. His last visit was over three cycles of this world’s moons. Lord Peitho will come when he is ready.” Daonos replied.
Tony changed subjects and deftly continued as if this were just small talk at a dinner party. He was still able to obtain a lot of intel, but he did so while his mind quickly reassessed their situation and exit plan.
He felt a headache begin behind his eyes as he realized that their only hope for survival was on a ship that a race that died off thousands of years ago had never completed. They would need to get it working, steal it, and then fly it home without a pilot. McKay was going to go nuclear.
Gibbs exited MTAC and then paused at the railing to look down over the bullpen. He hadn’t spoken to the team since early morning yesterday. He’d been coordinating ops in MTAC. It was a regular duty for him, but two situations that he had been working on for a while went hot at the same time. It led to a marathon session.
All he wanted to do was go home, take a shower, and sleep. Below, Mike Williams was at his desk in conversation with Mena Sands. Based on her body language, she was pissed, and Williams was calming her down. Gibbs looked at the other desks, but they were empty and did not show signs of occupation recently. He glanced toward the Director’s office and knew the man was in office today, so they shouldn’t be working the security detail.
Gibbs gave a little chuckle as he stood to walk down the stairs. Vance’s normal security detail was absolutely not happy that David and McGee had been added to their ranks, even in the limited capacity they were. Head of the detail had complained…loudly.
Reaching the bullpen, he walked to Williams’ desk and just raised an eyebrow in question. Williams just let out a sigh.
“Gibbs. Op over?” Williams asked calmly, giving Sands a moment to reel in her anger.
“Well enough. Anything I need to know?”
“Nothing I can’t handle. Just a few growing pains with the team.” Williams shrugged slightly.
“Drugs and stolen equipment. Witness heard one of the suspects tell another he had disposed of everything in the dumpster. There were two dumpsters behind the condos, so I ordered David and McGee to go dumpster diving. McGee hesitated but didn’t actually argue about going in. David insisted that since Sands was the newest on the team, she should be the one to search for evidence. I had to threaten her with a reprimand to get her to comply.”
He motioned to the empty desks, and mentioned, “They are signing in evidence and then will be hitting the showers. Sands and I picked up the suspects, and they are in holding until their lawyers arrive.”
Gibbs nodded his understanding. Looking at Sands he asked, “Is David your problem?”
Sands shook her head firmly. “No. She’s a problem, but I’ve dealt with her type before. I cut my teeth on the type of power plays she likes to practice. What I haven’t had to deal with is this childish passive-aggressive bullshit with the forensic tech. Her behavior is just so, well, frankly it’s bordering on harassment.”
“Abby.” Gibbs sighed, feeling worn out. He looked at Williams, “You, too?”
“Yes. Look, there’s almost always minor hazing of the new people in the building. Tony’s well-liked and it looks like we came out of nowhere and are just taking over his place. So while it’s expected, I’ve never approved of that kind of activity in my command or in my workplace. But, when it crosses over into harassment, then it’s actionable.”
Taking a deep breath, Gibbs nodded. “I’ll go take care of it.”
Williams stood up. “With all due respect, Agent Gibbs. Having you step in to get the situation under control is detrimental to the chain of command. She crossed a line with Agent Sands. Sands tried to correct the issue on her own and was rebuffed. She has come to me, her direct supervisor, to report the infraction. While I am informing you, the next step is for me to take action and try to resolve this matter. Once you are involved this becomes a reportable offense, and we would expect you to take action with HR on the complaint that will be submitted.”
Gibbs winced but nodded his agreement. Williams had warned him he was by the book on these matters, and he assured the man he would give him a chance. That included Abby and any similar issue. “I’ll wait to see what happens.”
Williams gave him a little sigh of relief and sat back down to finish what he was typing. “Gibbs, you’re beat. Even if this has to be escalated, it won’t be until tomorrow. Take off and get some sleep.”
“Right. You and me for an update, 0730.” Gibbs turned to get his firearm from the desk and picked up his Go Bag before heading to the elevator. He noticed half of Balboa’s team and some of Jenkins’ group standing to watch him leave in shock. He was tired enough to almost burst into laughter.
He made it to his car and paused a moment behind the steering wheel as the hair on his neck stood up to tell him someone was watching. It was a feeling he had noticed come and go since DiNozzo’s disappearance. A knock on the passenger side door had him instantly relax as he recognized the familiar face of Jimmy Palmer, assistant to their Medical Examiner, Ducky. Dr. Donald Mallard had been mentoring the young man for years.
“Agent Gibbs, can we talk? Wow, you look exhausted. Maybe this isn’t a good idea. We can talk any time, but I need to know.” Palmer took off talking.
But Gibbs was too damn tired to let this go on. “Palmer. Can I help you?”
“I had a question, but it’s not a good time.” Palmer cocked his head to the side and changed gears. “Should you even be driving? You know studies show that exhaustion can be more detrimental to drivers’ reaction time than alcohol.”
“I’m going home now to sleep, Palmer.” Gibbs refused to roll his eyes.
“You should get some sleep. You look like you need it. Why don’t…well, I would hate for something to happen because you’re tired. Why don’t I drive you home?”
Gibbs looked at Palmer’s face to see what he was really thinking and damn the kid could never lie. He really was just worried about his current state. Come to think of it, the longer he sat here, the less he thought he should be driving home. “Ok. He opened his door and got out. Grab my bag.”
Palmer paused a second and then jumped out, reaching back to grab the bag before he shut the door. They were in his car and out of the Navy Yard in no time, Gibbs leaning against the door with his eyes closed.
A thought came to him. “What did you want to ask?”
Palmer frowned and shook his head. “Oh, that’s not important. You’re tired.”
“Go ahead and spill it, Palmer.”
“Well, if you’re sure. Not to say you wouldn’t just ask if you weren’t sure…right. Well, you see. I’ve heard rumors about Tony, and while I would really like to know what’s happening and if he’s OK, I understand that I’m not allowed to ask about that. But, I was on vacation when that happened, and I haven’t actually been ordered or told not to talk about any of it. So, I was just wondering if I could mention anything in my letter to my Aunt Alicia.” Palmer shrugged.
“Why would you tell your aunt about DiNozzo?”
“Tony’s a friend of mine, so I’ve mentioned him. But no. I meant about Dr. McKay.”
“You want to tell your aunt about the victim of a crime we have been told was a classified operation? Palmer.” Gibbs growled. What is he thinking?
“My aunt and I have talked about him before. It’s just, Aunt Alicia works on some classified project. She’s a medical doctor and medical examiner, Dr. Alicia Biro. My mom’s sister. We write emails to each other all the time. Well, for a while, she sort of dropped off the planet. I didn’t get anything from her for years. She and mom don’t really get along. But she started writing regularly, and she’s mentioned some of her co-workers. Dr. Rodney McKay is like her boss there. Or her boss’s boss or something. But she knows him really well and has written about him. I was just going to tell her that I hoped everything worked out ok and that he hadn’t been hurt too bad and all. But, I didn’t know if that part was classified. Like I said, we’ve talked about him before, so I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t allowed to even talk about him anymore.”
Gibbs sat up straight and stared in shock. Could it really be this easy? Well, why not? He considered the repercussions, but whoever it was that was watching shouldn’t even have Palmer in their sights.
“Well, Palmer. As long as you don’t mention any specifics of the case, I don’t see any harm in you mentioning to your Aunt that you hoped he was OK, and he finished with the work he was doing soon. Might even be ok for you to ask her to let you know if he’s made it back to work. I would be interested in that, too.” Gibbs bit back any more in-depth request for information. All he could do was bait a hook and see what fish was swimming in the pond.
Tony put on a burst of speed as he was coming around the final bend. He could feel the two jaffa close on his heels, and as he saw the doors to the great lift start to open. He reached it and screeched to a stop as Lasi stepped out and faced him. The three jaffa behind him stopped as well.
Tony bent down with his hands on his knees as he took deep breaths, reveling in the feel of the air moving in and out of his lungs without a hint of wheezing. He kept his face down as he smiled. Lasi was berating the Jaffa for their performance in their language. Tony hadn’t been able to pick up any of it yet, but he had experienced enough dressing downs by coaches over the years to know what was being said.
He stood up and patted Lasi on the shoulder. “Don’t be too hard on them. What they lack in speed they more than make up for in endurance. I would never outlast them in a marathon.”
Lasi glared at Tony before turning back to his men and giving a barked command. The did the jaffa version of a salute and turned to start jogging in the opposite direction.
“Come,” Lasi ordered as he began walking back toward Tony and Rodney’s shared rooms. “Dr. McKay has entered his rest cycle. The technicians will need you on the ship to continue their research.”
They set off walking at a good pace for Tony to use as a cool down. Once they had determined their only avenue of escape was the ship, Rodney stepped up the program to gain access to it.
It was still slow going as individual systems had to be initialized in the correct order, and Rodney was finding and completing system connections as he ran diagnostic after diagnostic.
They had encountered only two major issues so far. First, the ship had only limited power. Rodney had determined that the engines and main power relays had never been engaged. And, they hadn’t determined the location of the main power source.
The second was a blessing in disguise. The ship absolutely required an ATA gene carrier on board for any of the systems to function. As long as he or Rodney were on the ship, they could access displays and limited systems. If they both left, the ship had a security lockdown feature that wouldn’t allow anyone to access it. And, attempts to circumvent the lockdown had thus far resulted in deadly consequences.
Considering the ship was built while the Ancients were at war with the Wraith, it wasn’t really a surprise that it was hostile to non-Ancients. Tony was only worried that it wouldn’t accept him at full power. But Rodney insisted it was pretty much an all or nothing proposition. It accepted them now, so they should be ok. Of course, Rodney had insulted his intelligence as he said it.
However, the security did cause one unfortunate consequence. Lord Medesh, the minor goa’uld who served as second for Peitho on this world, had ordered that Rodney and Tony should be placed on separate shifts to maximize working time on the ship. It wasn’t giving them much overlap to discuss their options.
Tony entered the darkened quarters and headed for the shower to get cleaned up for his shift. He was singing in the shower, touching controls that adjusted the various sprays and water patterns while being careful not to trigger that sonic feature he had discovered completely by accident and from which his prostate still hadn’t recovered. Rodney’s humming accompaniment caught his attention before he noticed the man in the room.
“How did your unwarranted display of testosterone go?” Rodney asked as he leaned against the doorway.
“It was amazing. You were right, the sarcophagus healed my lungs. You don’t even understand what it’s like to run full out and not feel like you’re breathing through a straw at the end. I was on a strict exercise regimen to retain my field status, and now, it’s like the plague never happened.” Tony grinned as he stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel.
He briskly rubbed down and threw the towel into the laundry device along with his soiled clothes. With only a thought, it turned on and began cleaning. In ten minutes it would all be pristine with no odor. That part was weird.
Rodney stepped aside as he headed back to the sleeping quarters to pull on another outfit. “That thing is amazing. It even healed my knee, shoulder, and I could swear that it helped my old collarbone fracture and head injuries.”
Snorting, Rodney quipped, “Head injury explains so much about you, Tony.”
Tony flopped down on the bed. “Yeah, well, getting shot in the ass describes you to a T.”
Rodney flipped him off, “It was an arrow in the upper thigh.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.” Tony laughed and finished dressing by pulling on his boots. “Anything I need to know today?”
“Keep everyone away from Deck 12. I’m missing a power relay in that section and don’t need anyone else injured looking for great discoveries.” Rodney poured two glasses of water and handed one to Tony. “Also, make sure that Daonos gets readings for the automation system between the ship and the facility. I restored those connections today, and there’s something off about it. I need more data to review.”
“You need more sleep.” Tony insisted.
“I’ll sleep when we find a way out of here. I don’t know how much more time we have before Peitho returns. Right now, we can use the gene to keep the ship’s systems locked down while we try to make it flight-ready. But he’s not stupid. If he decides to take one of us as a host, there’s nothing we can do to stop him from finishing the repairs and firing it up.”
Tony took a drink of water and then stared at the glass in thought. “Any way we can expedite the plan?”
“Not if we don’t want to overload the drive and explode.” Rodney rubbed his face with his hands. “I don’t know what the Ancients were up to. They took a brand new ship, and they disconnected so many of the power relays. It was like they were trying to bypass critical systems, but they didn’t leave any notes behind on why.”
“Do you think there’s any danger in restoring the connections?” Tony cracked his neck to relieve stress and finished off his glass of water.
“Yes, like I said, it looks like it was fresh off the assembly line. Other than the relays, there’s not a thing wrong with it that I can find. Well, other than not finding access to the main power room. All of the readings indicate there’s enough power, but I can’t even find diagrams to show what makes it run. I just know it’s got to be a ZPM. Can you imagine a ZPM just sitting here in stasis all this time.”
“Whoa, boy. Drool on someone else.” Rodney’s eyes got that glassy look every time he mentioned ZPMs. Tony found it beyond amusing and wanted to commission the man a sex toy shaped like one of these things.
“OK, fine. But we’re close, so be careful. The last thing we need is to have that asshat, Medesh, calling Peitho back to take a look. So don’t touch anything in there DiNozzo and keep thinking low power no matter how much the tech begs you to play.” Rodney got up and headed for the bed.
“Yes, Mother.” Tony headed toward the door. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you only use my last name when you’re questioning my intelligence. Do you do that to Sheppard, too?”
“It’s the hair. It regularly causes interference in the transmission of electrical impulses across neurons.” Came Rodney’s response as the door was closing between them.
Tony looked at the jaffa who was waiting for him today. “Yen’tek, my good man. You owe me two jugs of ale. Your buddies weren’t able to keep up today.”
“They would have succeeded against you, Tony DiNozzo, if not for the arrival of Lasi.”
“No excuses. Two jugs.” Tony grinned as he walked toward the ship’s access hatch. Make nice with the natives phase two complete.
As Tony walked through the ship’s corridor, he ran his and along the wall. There was a thrum and a buzz deep in his head when he did this that honest to god felt like a purring kitten. He got a feeling of hope and need and a tiny bit of contentment-satisfaction that encouraged him to touch more but didn’t actually force it. It was desire without circumventing will. It was safety.
Tony pulled his hand away and felt a twinge of sorrow, but firmly forced himself to not touch the wall while thinking hard about suppressing power. A ghostly feeling of acknowledgment drifted by, and then the lights dimmed slightly, and the door waited for his touch on the control panel to open.
Rodney had explained that the stronger the ATA gene, the more eager the tech was to perform. Eager was a perfect word for it. It anticipated his needs and often provided him with solutions before he even knew to ask. It irritated some of the technicians to no end since it didn’t even acknowledge their existence.
He was working with Tirana, physically touching each system she needed to access. Many of these systems would shut down completely when a non-gene carrier came into contact with them without a direct override.
Their conversation had been completely professional as other technicians and jaffa moved in and out of the ship. Tony had to frequently stop to escort them because the ship did not appreciate jaffa at all. The last two days their presence had increased along with the frequent oversight of Medesh. It was frustrating and terrifying. Tony and Rodney had hypothesized that Peitho was expected back soon.
Tony returned to the life support control station that Tirana was studying, his guard of the day was waiting at the main access port. This room was too small for three people, and there was no point in hovering.
When he entered, Tirana motioned for him to close the door. They had to do this every time they accessed the controls. As soon as it closed she turned to face him. “Agent DiNozzo, There is information of which you and Dr. McKay must become aware.”
“OK. What’s up, Tirana?” Tony looked up at her and then jerked back, scrambling to reach the door as her eyes lit up with an inner golden-white light. “You’re goa’uld.”
“No. My name is La’lista, and I am an agent of the Tok’ra. You have spoken to my host, Tirana.” She stood still but held her hands up to urge Tony to stop.
“Right, your host. That’s what goa’uld have, right? You just take over people.” Tony took another small step backward.
“Where the goa’uld take, the Tok’ra coexist with a willing host. We are allies in our fight against the goa’uld. Your Dr. McKay knows of us.”
“I’ll be sure to check that.” The reverberating voice was seriously freaking Tony out.
“I felt I must warn you, Agent DiNozzo, that I have a mission to see that Peitho does not gain access to this ship. It would be devastating in our fight against him. I am not here alone. We will aid you in an attempt to escape with this vessel in exchange for safe passage from this world.” Tirana…La’lista, whoever it was, explained.
“I’ll have to discuss this with McKay,” Tony stated without agreeing.
“Understood. But know if we can not remove this ship from Peitho’s grasp, then we will see that it is destroyed. Word comes that Peitho will soon return. It must not be here when he arrives.” She stared at Tony for a moment before leaving the room.
Tony stood there alone a moment and wondered how many other surprises existed out here. Damn, if only they had access to power this damn ship. Lights flashed on the opposite wall before the entire wall slid away, revealing a huge room with five large crystalline-metal latticed objects that glowed brightly. They were inset into five stands, two of which were lit up and appeared to be awaiting an open circuit.
“What in the world?”
A holographic display lit up beside him, and Tony saw a word that McKay had drilled into him in Ancient. Potentia. Here was power begging to be used, awaiting only a connection.