Title: Agent Very Far Afloat
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, NCIS, Numb3rs
Relationship: Tony DiNozzo/Ian Edgerton
Summary: He had never expected that becoming an Agent Afloat would lead him so far off the beaten track!
Beta: Keira Marcos
Tony stared up at the ceiling of his bedroom and tried not to groan in frustration. He was home from the hospital, away from the blue lights and bored out of his gourd. Not even his movies were distracting him. And given that he had just had the plague, he wasn’t up for any physical distractions either.
Sighing softly he looked up at the ceiling and for once put what he wanted out for the world to hear. “It would be nice to work someplace where I was appreciated for everything I can do, not just because I’m willing to make an ass of myself.”
When the universe didn’t respond, Tony sighed and then coughed. Damn plague.
– – – –
“We’re looking for a good investigative agent, Tom. I’ve been told by people I trust to talk to you first,” George Hammond announced as he walked into the Director of NCIS’s office. “They’ll have to be able to work without backup and have a firm ethical line. Plus they’ll need a steel spine because none of my people can be called shrinking violets with a straight face.”
Tom Morrow stared at his friend for several moments before shaking his head. “Good morning to you too, George. Why are you asking for one of my agents? Aren’t you in the Air Force?”
“Still in the Air Force,” George confirmed. “I know you are heading over to Homeland in a week Tom, so I’m sure they’ve started giving you briefings on what is happening out in the world at large.”
“If you’re asking if I knew what you really do, then yes, I’m aware,” Tom fired back. “You’re still not telling me why I need to assign one of my men to your insanity.”
“Took it badly, huh?” George asked as Tom’s stare turned into a glare. Sighing softly George sat back and tried to relax his body language. No sense in pissing off the man who held the key to getting someone who would work with his lunatics instead of against them. “Tom, I have a mission that currently has 40 Marines, two Air Force officers, and 10 USN in support roles, not to mention the civilians. Calling OSI for an agent would be counterproductive. Plus most of their people aren’t used to working essentially alone for long periods of time.”
“That many huh?” Tom sat relaxed as George did and tapped the fingers of one hand on the table between them. “So you’ve got 52 military members there now, what’s pushing the drive for one of my people?”
“The 180 additional combat troops we’re going to be adding, plus the 20 support personnel. That’s not even counting the almost 200 civilians who are slated to go out,” George told him.
“Jesus, that’s a hell of a jump. Are you sure one agent would be enough?” Tom asked.
“A number of the troops assigned have experience at being MP’s, but they aren’t officially NCIS. They can pitch-hit, but they aren’t investigators,” George started. Waving his hands, he tried to explain the needs his people had given him. “We need someone who can train, who is mentally flexible, and who can stand up to the strongest personalities and not back down. And those qualities are just the start of the wish list we have.”
“Well, shit.” Tom leaned back in his chair and let it swing from side to side as he thought things through. “I know of one agent who fits the bill, but he’s currently out on sick leave, recovering from the pneumonic plague. He’s mentally flexible, able to look outside the box, has been the main trainer on MCRT for the last three years, and he routinely stands up to Gibbs. I think he’ll be a good fit for you, once he heals up.”
“Plague? Who in the hell gets plague in DC?” George asked, flummoxed. “If he’s on the way to recovery, we have things that we can use to help him get better, faster. And he stands up to Gibbs? I thought that bastard ran over anyone who stood up to him. Can I ask who this paragon of competency is?”
“Anthony Dominic DiNozzo Jr. He prefers to be called Tony. Aged thirty-four, multiple degrees in all things related to his job with a side order of film history,” Tom was staring at his computer as he started typing. “Looking at his file here, he’s more than competent. Before he came here, he was at three different police departments, making detective at his last. Been with Gibbs for four years, and was his only partner for almost eighteen months.”
“Sounds like a hell of an agent. Why are you willing to give him up?” George asked.
“One second,” Tom requested before calling his secretary in. “Cynthia, can you go down to HR and get DiNozzo’s file? Also, ask Gibbs how he’s doing.”
Both men watched her as she left and Tom stood up and walked around to take the second chair in front of his desk. “I’m seriously not willing,” Morrow admitted. “But my replacement is… Well, she seems much more interested in her own agenda and getting into Gibbs’s pants. I don’t want one of the best investigators we have to be abused through the transition because he was in her way.”
“In her way? How so?” George asked. DADT wasn’t a problem for the SGC, but he could see how it might be for NCIS since it dealt with both the regular Marine Corps and the Navy.
“He’s been acting like Jethro’s gate guard since wife number three divorced him,” Tom admitted. “Not that Gibbs cares. As far as I know, Jethro is so straight he’d make a straight edge look curved. DiNozzo? Not so much. He’s never been military, so he’s not subject to the rules, but he’s been a cop too long not to figure out how to be discrete.”
George waved away that concern. “I’m not worried about that. DADT has no place in my command, and I’ve never busted anyone on it. I won’t now. Is there something going on between Gibbs and DiNozzo?”
Tom shook his head. “No. At one time I thought there might be, but it seems to have settled into a mentor/student thing that works for them both. Gibbs is gonna whine like a bear with a sore paw if you steal DiNozzo, but it’s time the man moved on and got the experience of leading on his own under his belt. Gibbs will just have to relearn diplomacy. Or maybe tact.”
“I wish you all the luck in the world with Gibbs. Am I getting DiNozzo?” George asked as he looked at his friend.
“If he agrees, you are. You picked a hell of a time to come in here and ask for him, though,” Tom told him as he leaned forward to grab his coffee.
“Needs must is driving this, and we didn’t know we needed him two weeks ago,” George admitted with a shrug.
“Two weeks ago, he was in the hospital, dying of the plague,” Tom informed him, expression grim. “I’m guessing you’re going to want his medical records too?”
“Oh, yeah. We have a lot of doctors under my command, and I’m sure at least one of them has had some passing experience with lung problems. If not, we can see if anything we have on hand might help him in his recovery.” George fell silent as Cynthia walked back in with a thick set of folders that had to be the personal record for the agent he was getting.
“Here you are, Director. Gibbs is out of the office, so I took the time to call Dr. Mallard. He states Agent DiNozzo is recovering, but very bored,” Cynthia reported as she placed the large file on Tom’s desk.
“Thank you, Cynthia. That will be all,” Tom told her before waiting for her to leave. Once the door closed, he pushed the paperwork closer to George. “Take a look.”
“I trust you,” George told his friend as he started reading. An hour later, he had to wonder how the SGC had missed the man he had just read about. He was all that Tom had promised and more. He even had the markers they had found associated with those who were ATA positive, and that was an unexpected bonus since Atlantis needed all of them that they could get. George made a mental note to get him tested for the ATA gene when he got to the mountain. “He’s perfect, at least on paper.”
“He’s on his way in,” Tom told him. “Since you didn’t hand the file back immediately, I figured you would want to meet him. He jumped at the chance to see something other than the walls of his apartment.”
“I’m sure. So, he got the plague from a sample placed in an envelope? That’s inventive. And I’m taking notes. I don’t want something like this to happen at my command,” George muttered. The SGC really didn’t get much true mail, Area 51 had a mail drop where everything was scanned, and Homeworld was housed in the Pentagon, so he expected they had their own procedures. But after reading the shit that DiNozzo had been through, he was going to insist on all three places getting overhauls. All it would take would be one fuckup, and they might not be so lucky as to get a suicide strain.
Tom nodded in agreement. “We’ve already revamped our procedures. And that was a total cluster fuck to get that sorted out. We barely had anything in place. It was a mess.”
The sound of a knock on the door cut through their conversation, and George watched as Tom called the knocker into his office. The man who entered matched the file in his hand, but looked much more exhausted than his picture. Then again, he had been seriously ill recently and was recovering. But his eyes looked clear and full of intelligence and curiosity, so that was a good sign.
“Director Morrow, you asked for me to come in?” DiNozzo asked as he moved into the room after closing the door.
“I did, thank you. Did you let Gibbs know you were here?” Tom asked as he waved to one of the remaining chairs in his office.
“No. You said to be discreet, and there is no way on this planet you can all Gibbs discreet. Also, you seemed…” Here, DiNozzo paused and sat down, taking a careful breath. “Like you were feeling me out for something.”
“I am, son,” Tom allowed. “I’ve got an assignment that will basically be that of an Agent Afloat. You will be the only pure officer of the law on the facility, have to work without backup from NCIS and be able to hold firm to your ethics. You’ll be out of touch enough that you will be given extraordinary powers to arrest, try and sentence as needed and in cooperation with the CO of the base that you will be stationed at. Also, you will be tasked to work with a number of civilians in the capacity of your job as an NCIS agent.”
“And the General? What does he have to do with this assignment?” DiNozzo asked. “Given that he’s Air Force and I the only mixed commands I know of are in combat zones overseas.”
George smiled at that. It seemed that Tom’s wonder kid was one of the ones who kept a finger on the gossip chain, be it official or not. Excellent. “I’m the one in overall charge of the base in question. The CO is a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, the 2IC is a Major, same branch and most of the remaining officer corps are Marines. The enlisted corps is much the same, only Marines and Navy.”
DiNozzo cocked his head to the side and stared hard at George before drawing in a sharp breath. Whatever he was going to say got interrupted by a spate of coughing. Wincing in sympathy, George grabbed the water bottle he had been offered and handed it to the younger man. As DiNozzo took a hit off an inhaler, he kept an eye on his breathing. It seemed steady, no hitches or stutters, just not quite up to sudden shocks it seemed.
When the younger man was breathing easier, he stared at his boss before looking back at George. “You want me out at Cheyenne Mountain?”
“How in the hell?” George asked, staring at the man who he was taking, come hell or high water.
“I have a lot of friends across the services, plus a lot of contacts and all I heard was there was a base with a mix of most of the services. You don’t have any of the medals for action in Iraq or Afghanistan, but you do have a lot of metals for things best unmentioned. The only other place that means is Cheyenne,” DiNozzo told him, eyes clear.
“And you have a clearance that’s almost higher than Tom’s due to things that you and your boss get into,” George observed.
The shrug he got back was elegant in only the way someone truly comfortable with their body could do. “When you investigate a death on Air Force One, you have to have the right clearances.”
“So it seems. So, Agent DiNozzo, do you think I can interest you in being my Agent, very far Afloat?” George asked.
DiNozzo slated a quick look at Tom before turning to stare George straight in the eye. “Yes, sir. I do believe you can.”
“Excellent.” George slapped his hands on his thighs and smiled. “Lemme give you an idea of where you are going to be headed out to.”
– – – –
Tony walked down the stairs in a bit of a daze. He had accepted the posting of a lifetime, and now he needed to break the news to the team and Gibbs. He was aware enough to know that the news was going to go over like a solid lead balloon, but the job was the best thing for him. It would let him grow beyond the semi-frat boy he had been presenting to MCRT if nothing else.
“Tony, why are you here? Shouldn’t you be home, resting?” Kate called as he got into range.
“Got some news, Kate. Where are Gibbs and Probie?” Tony asked as he descended the last few steps to the bullpen floor. He wasn’t going to go hunt down Abby at this point. She hadn’t visited him in the two weeks he had been home, and his contacts in the office had said she had had the time.
“They’re downstairs with Abby. Why?” Kate looked suspicious as he sat down at his desk and started going through it. “What did you do?”
He didn’t say anything, just looked around for a container. Tony leaned over to grab the paper box he normally kept odds and ends of office supplies in then flipped open the top. It was empty. He started piling all the various personal items he wanted to keep in it. There wasn’t much left after the cleaning crew that had cleaned up after the SWAK incident. He hadn’t had time to replace anything.
“Tony.” Kate leaned on his desk, and he turned to look at her as he sorted his desk drawers by feel. “What did you do?”
“I got offered the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m taking it,” Tony told her. He had no way to let her know what that opportunity was, but given that she was ex-Secret Service, she might have a clue. “I’ll be working with a General Hammond, and from all I’ve found out, he’s a damn decent commander.”
“He’s beyond decent,” Kate told him, voice quiet. “If that’s your opportunity, take it and run. They’ll take care of you and back you to the hilt.”
“Are you going to be okay here?” Tony asked. Gibbs was, as he always said, a bastard of the first order. When she had arrived at NCIS, Kate hadn’t managed to stand up to him on a regular basis, but she had slowly but surely grown a stronger spine as time went on. Since she was senior to McGee, Tony expected that she would be the one to step into his shoes and be Gibb’s senior agent.
“I’ll be fine.” Kate stared at him before she smiled abruptly. “Make sure you send email to my private account. I won’t answer it here so no one can get it. Remember, the work one is a crapshoot.”
“I’ll remember,” Tony promised. “And give you all my cheats so you can get the SFA reports out on time. Don’t let him obsess about Haswari to the point he puts himself or you in danger because you know he will. If you do get a line on the bastard, make sure you have all the backup in the world, even if that means going to Fornell. Also, see if anyone in the intelligence community can tell you what that asshole’s skill sets are. It’s horrific that we don’t have access to even the most basic dossier on him.”
“Good point, I’ll start reaching out to my contacts. And if it gets to the point where we are going after Ari, I’ll smack Gibbs until he listens about the concept of backup,” Kate told him before she pressed her lips together.
It took several tries for her to get out whatever she was thinking of and Tony let her work her way towards it as he booted up his computer and quickly emailed all his workarounds to her. While he was in the system, he made sure to burn to a few CD’s all his emails, the various manuals that he had on the hard drive and anything else he thought he might need.
“Are you better?” Kate finally asked. When he looked at her in askance, she waved at her chest area. “I mean your breathing.”
“Mostly, I only really start coughing anymore when I’m moving too fast or pull in the odd quick breath,” Tony told her.
“Good to know,” she said. “Better hurry. You know someone’s gonna call down to Abby to let them know you are here.”
Then he typed out a series of goodbye letters to everyone but Kate. The email program NCIS had allowed him to set up a set of nicely time delayed messages. “I’ve got everything done, and I’m not going to stay for the drama. If they want to talk to me, they can write.”
“Well, that’s gonna be fun.” The pinched look reappeared on Kate’s face for a moment before she nodded. “Go. Stay safe. Make sure they give you every bit of respect you deserve. When can I expect the drama to start?”
Tony smiled softly before he stood up and walked around the desk to hug her. “If I were ever to be given a sister, I would have wanted it to be you. I’ll stay safe, get the respect and you have two days before you need popcorn.”
“You are such a jackass,” Kate told him, voice fond as she gave him a tight hug. “Get moving before one of them comes up here.”
Tony nodded before letting her go and picking up his box. “Right, I’ll head out the back. Talk to you later!”
The walk out of the NCIS bullpen was much quieter than his first walk in, and he wasn’t upset at that. Tony was sure that if he had stayed, he would have started regretting the missed chance with everything in him. Not having a chance to say goodbye to Gibbs was, well if he was honest with himself, it was both a relief and a wrench. The older man would have tried to guilt him into staying, and he wanted to think he would have been strong enough to go, but this was easier all around. Even if he had said basically just that in his letter to him.
His elevator was there when he hit the button and Tony breathed a sigh of relief. One chapter of his life was over, and now, now he needed to start getting ready for the next.
– – – –
Tony was sure that a cab ride to Cheyenne Mountain would be massively expensive but he had been told he would be getting picked up by one of the most experienced members of the command. He had wondered at how the man fit it in, but he was learning that his new command was a very unique place.
He managed to get all his gear curbside and settled in with his ebook reader to wait. He had no idea how long it would take his ride to arrive. Every few seconds he looked up and scanned the area around him before reading a bit more. When a car pulled up by him, he kept an eye on it as it glided forward.
“Agent DiNozzo?” the man in the car called through the passenger window. Tony closed up his eBook reader and tucked it into his backpack before walking over to the car.
“I’m Tony DiNozzo, and you are?” Tony asked. General Hammond’s note had told him who to expect.
“Dr. Daniel Jackson, at your service. I understand you are going to be stationed here?” the good doctor asked as he put the vehicle in park and got out.
“I am,” Tony confirmed as he wheeled his case and bags to the trunk of the car.
“Let me help you get all that in.” Jackson easily handled the heaviest case as he heaved it into the trunk. Tony managed to get his bags in the backseat without issue, and they both climbed into the finish the last part of his journey.
“Thanks.” Tony eyed the other man for several seconds before letting his curiosity out to play. “So how long have you been here?”
Jackson flicked his eyes over to look at him. “I’ve been here, in one form or another for nine years with the added bonus of being on the team that reopened our connection to the wider universe. It’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t change anything that has led me to this place.”
“That’s reassuring,” Tony tried to sound convinced.
“Sorry, I know I suck at that. Anyway, I’m guessing that George acquired you from your last job, gave you a deadline and told you to report at this time?” Jackson asked.
“Pretty much,” Tony allowed.
He’d had to cram a lot of things into the two days he had been given. His apartment had been packed up and stored, his remaining bills had been paid off, with a special autopay for his storage locker, and he had gone shopping. Washington DC had a few military surplus stores, and he had hit every one up that he could on a massive buying spree. He had even had stuff mailed out to Cheyenne Mountain so he could… arrange for his extras to come out with him. And in somewhere in all of there, he had taken the time to freakout that he was going to Atlantis. Atlantis. Holy, shit.
“Has George given you the lowdown on where you are going, what you will need and how to get your supplies?” Jackson asked.
“I know I’m going somewhere in a galaxy far, far away,” Tony told him. “He mentioned something about raiding the bases storerooms, having a small storeroom of my own to store my haul on our ride and free reign?”
Jackson started laughing and then nodded. “Yeah, you got lucky. The SGC’s been here for nine years and the base itself has been used since not long after NORAD was set up. There is decade’s worth of office supplies stored in various rooms around the place. Talk to Master Sergeant Siler to see what he can get you, what he can dig up for you and what can be set aside for you to be shipped out at a later date.”
“I take it this Master Sergeant Siler is one of the people on base who knows where everything is located?” Tony asked.
“Oh, yeah. And Siler will know how to get the most use out of your cubic footage,” Jackson informed him. “And if he can’t, then Chief Master Sergeant Harriman can. Those are the two people you want to get on the good side first. The General in charge is Jonathan O’Neill, goes by the nickname Jack. He’s going to be doing all he can to supply your new duty station with everything they need and then some. He’s a damn good man, and he’s the third person you want to get on the good side of.”
“Thanks for the advice, Dr. Jackson,” Tony said. He was actually quite grateful for the information. Knowing who to talk to get his office, lab and stuff put together was more than he had expected to have. Tony had thought that he would have to spend his whole time wandering the storerooms and moving his stuff on his own. “Any other advice?”
“Make sure that Lam, the base CMO, likes you. She won’t use the big needles then. The mess is willing to share goodies if you are good to them, our IT guys can take that e-reader of yours and soup it up, so you have more space and the weapons master can get you anything you need,” Jackson said. “I’m in charge of archeology and anthropology, so I don’t know what my people can do for you, but I’m sure if you are cool, they’ll find something.”
“All of that is good advice, but I think I need gossip more than anything else,” Tony allowed. “Something about my new duty station, the people on it, and maybe an idea of how the morale is?”
“Huh. Well, I can give you some of that, but it’ll have to wait until we get in the mountain,” Jackson informed him. “And frankly, you’re going to be busy this afternoon, checking in, getting a physical, meeting with the general and anyone else Jack has you scheduled with and getting an initial orientation for the SGC. Make sure he feeds you somewhere in there.”
They had pulled into the parking garage for the Mountain then, and Jackson grabbed two Marines to help get his gear to his assigned room. Tony watched the whole display in amusement as the two Sergeants jumped to do his bidding without a fuss. That was an interesting testament to how civilians were thought of by the military on base.
Four hours later, Tony really wanted a cup of coffee and place to sit down and digest all that he had learned. The SGC was insane, wonderful and scary as fuck. His check in had been easy, and he had even met Master Sergeant Siler when the man swung by the admin office to do some work in it. He had an appointment with him for later that afternoon. Lam had been horrified at the damage his lungs had sustained and wanted to have a Lt. Colonel Carter look at him. Other than his lungs, she seemed happy with his health overall.
While he had been in her tender hands, he had been handed a small DVD/TV combo and told to watch the disk queued up. The information it contained about the SGC had been a welcome distraction to the battery of tests he had endured. By the end of it, he had managed to escape from Lam with some of his blood volume intact and was on his way up to see the general in charge of the SGC. He wasn’t sure what to expect. Most of the generals he had met had been due to work and involved dead people, stolen stuff or just generic bad shit. Not to mention Gibbs.
“Here you are sir,” his escort delivered him to one of many plain doors on what he thought was level twenty-six, but Tony could easily admit he might be wrong.
Knocking firmly on the door, he headed in as soon as he heard the call for him to enter. Sitting behind the desk was an obviously tall man, with salt and pepper hair, dark brown eyes and a face that seemed well lived in. “General O’Neill, I’m your new NCIS Agent, Tony DiNozzo.”
“George told me to expect you. And that you were one of the best finds he stumbled across since he became a part of this madhouse.” O’Neill looked up him, eyes accessing. “I know he wants you to go to Atlantis to be their line of law and order, but I want to know if you are a rule-bound ass or if you know where the shades of grey are.”
Tony pulled a chair out in front of the General’s desk and sat down. “I can’t tell you that because honestly, I’m both. I know that there are shades of grey in the world; this is why we have judges who help make sure justice is served. But I’m also as black and white as they come. I follow the law. I will do my best to stand by the people I serve.”
“So, where do you draw the line?” O’Neill asked, leaning forward to stare him in the eye.
“I draw the line where the law does. Where the UCMJ draws the lines,” Tony tried to figure out how to put what he knew down to his bones into words. “My job is to make sure that anyone who breaks the law is taken in so that they get their day in court. I don’t have the luxury of personal opinions in this line of work.”
And he really didn’t. It was something that he had wrestled with a lot when he had taken his first oath as a police officer, and it hadn’t gotten any easier since. If it did, Tony was certain that he would be hanging up his shield. Justice wasn’t easy or neat. And trying to make it so, would be a betrayal of the victims and weirdly, the perpetrators.
“And if I asked you to go through this base and enforce DADT?” O’Neill pressed.
“I would then remind the General that the full title of that regulation is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue. And that means that I am not going to institute a witch hunt for you.” Tony was very certain of his stance. He had seen too many instances where people who were damn good soldiers and sailors had been run out of the service for loving those of their own sex. He wasn’t going to be one of those who hunted them for that.
“I’m glad to hear that. And DADT isn’t a thing here anyway. We’ve found that that homophobia and xenophobia go hand in hand, so if someone is gay, the rule here is live and let live. It’s been that way since Hammond was in charge,” O’Neill informed him as he sat back in his chair, seemingly satisfied.
Tony let loose a mostly silent breath. It looked like he had passed the first test. “Well, that’s good to know. So what do you see me doing on Atlantis? And where is Atlantis anyway? Everyone’s been telling me that my duty station is going to be a long, long way from here, but not exactly where.”
Keen brown eyes stared at him before the General snorted in amusement. “She’s in the Pegasus Galaxy, son.”
“Holy shit,” Tony hissed. “General Hammond did not tell me that!”
“He likes to save the freak-outs for me. Did he tell you to pack for the end of the world?” O’Neill asked.
“Yeah, he did. And that I could get a good chunk of the supplies I need out of the storerooms?”
Tony was feeling a bit wrong footed. He had known that the SGC dealt with alien things. The DVD had made no bones about that and had given him a decent overview of what he was getting into. He just hadn’t made the connection that he was going to be living on an alien planet. Suddenly, Dr. Jackson’s remarks made a lot more sense.
“You can. Since you are going to be our NCIS agent, do you need stuff to investigate crimes? Should you have a special kit or something?” O’Neill asked.
“I’ve already ordered a lot, and Director Morrow will be shipping me out a full kit, enough to cover myself and another two people for at least six months. But that’s just the things I need to process crime scenes, he’s not sending me what I need to furnish anything.”
Tony was starting to feel like he was beating that point like a drum. But it was such a sore point for him. He was being sent elsewhere, and he had to build everything from scratch.
The hum O’Neill let out was not comforting. “Have you had a chance to eat today?”
Tony blinked at the non sequitur. “No, I haven’t.”
“Come on then. I want pie, and then I’ll turn you over to Siler for your shopping spree.” O’Neill stood up and started walking out. Tony hopped up and started walking after him, a bit shocked at the turn of events.
Dinner was military bland, but it was hot, well done and as tasty as cafeteria food could be. The pies were rather awesome though, and the coffee was top notch. The conversation wasn’t bad either. He learned a lot about the general and some of the notable personalities he was going to be stationed with. Apparently, he would be meeting some of them in the morning.
Right after his late afternoon meal, he got turned over to Siler and had started tagging everything he wanted. He had even managed to tag a bunkbed set that Siler was willing to modify for him. The upper area was going to be a queen sized bed, and the lower area would be an entertainment set up. He had a very nice flat screen TV that would work well in that spot and still let him have room to do other things.
His office plus conference room was easily picked out too. The pieces all seemed to be part of a set, and he was glad everything appeared to be in good condition. Careful questions had led him to a couch that was decently comfortable, and he had added that to the pile. He had also picked up a table and some chairs that would go in the interrogation room if he needed to set one up, a safe and enough locking filing cabinets to hold a years’ worth of case files for MCRT. Speaking of files, he had boxes of office supplies as well. Pens and pencils were the least of it.
“Do they ever throw anything away here?” Tony asked as he peered into another endless storeroom. This one seemed to be devoted to tacky shiny shit that looked horrifically overdone.
Siler glanced in the room and snorted before closing the door on the glittery nightmare. “No, sir, they don’t. We’ve needed to get into that mess many times over the years.”
“Fantastic,” Tony murmured as he opened the next door. “It’s like a government sponsored Ali Baba’s cave. I’m wondering if the Ark of the Covenant is in here. Anyway, I think I’ve got everything.”
“Okay, sir. I’ll have everything shipped up to the Daedalus in the next few days. Should I add your trunk and duffle to the pile of gear?” Siler asked as he carefully locked the door Tony had just opened.
“I have more coming, so I think we can have that head up last,” Tony told him after a moment of thought. “Now, I have no idea where I am in here, but do you think you can get me back to my room?”
“Sure, sir.” Siler seemed rather amused at that.
Tony didn’t take the amusement as anything against him. NORAD and the SGC had taken over the whole of Cheyenne Mountain and hollowed the whole thing out in a multitude of levels, and he was just lost. He wasn’t going to be there long enough to learn his way so he would be sticking to the areas he knew.
His room was rather… bland military hotel, if he was honest. It did have a nice bathroom set up though, so there was that. And it had all his gear. One shower, a quick drink of water and he was just done with the day. Crawling into bed, he wondered if he should do some final ordering now that he knew what he was being supplied with.
Shaking his head, Tony decided that he would see about making a quick trip to Staples or even Walmart to get his final needs met. Decision made, sleep was easy to give into.
– – – –
The next morning came sooner than he wanted to think about. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, Tony made it down to the mess and enjoyed another military meal with great coffee. As he was enjoying his second cup, he was gathered up by the same Corporal that had been his escort the day before.
He was delivered to the conference room that he had glimpsed outside General O’Neill’s office and sat down. The room seemed rather closed in, but they were in a mountain, so what did he know?
When Dr. Jackson walked in, Tony smiled. Someone he knew, even if it was barely. “Hey, Dr. Jackson. How are you?”
“I’m good, Agent DiNozzo. How was your day yesterday?” Jackson asked.
“Call me Tony. And it was as busy as you mentioned. I did get time to select my furniture with Siler, but I need to do a bit more shopping to fill in the things that I didn’t know I would need,” Tony admitted. “Maybe you can answer a question I’ve had though. What’s with the really good coffee here? Normally military bases have crap coffee, if not worse, and the DVD didn’t explain it either.”
The snort Jackson let out was rather loud, and Tony had to smile. “When I started working here, crap coffee would have been a step up from what they were serving. I was a very poor post-doc who had had all of my funding pulled, and I couldn’t even afford coffee, so I drank what they had. As the years passed, my taste got better, and I dragged the whole of the SGC into coffee snobbery. It’s paid off in drinkable coffee.”
“Good job, Dr. Jackson,” Tony congratulated him.
“Don’t feed his ego, Agent DiNozzo,” General O’Neill told him as he walked in from his office. “Thanks to him, the SGC has been a major contributor to the success of Kona and Columbia’s coffee futures for the last eight years.”
“Sorry, General, but anyplace that’s managed to not buy the dregs of the coffee world is automatically a good place to be,” Tony disagreed with a smile before taking another sip of his very nice coffee.
When O’Neill took his spot at the head of the table, he was far more serious than he had been in their first meeting. “Valid point, Agent DiNozzo. Okay, I asked for you to be brought up here for two reasons. One; it seems we’ve had a murder on Atlantis. They called in last night and shoved the victim’s body through with the CSO. He’s got all the reports on what they have so far. He did want to let you know that they only removed the body, wrapped it in a body bag and have sealed and placed the scene in stasis. Two; your leave taking is being sped up. You’ll be heading out to Atlantis in three days.”
Shit. Tony leaned forward and tried not to demand to get to his crime scene. “General, is the victim being autopsied? And what do they mean by stasis?”
“She is,” a voice rang out from the doorway. “And stasis means that the room’s condition will not change after it was sealed. The only person who can override my seal is here on Earth.”
Tony twisted around to look behind him. The man who was speaking was shorter than him, slightly heavyset, with a sharp and clever face. He was wearing a uniform very different from the rest of the people Tony had seen in the mountain, and the cloth was very worn. He was also clutching a coffee cup and a tablet computer.
“Hey Rodney,” Jackson called out. “Come get some coffee before you fall over. Have you had a chance to eat?”
“Thanks, Daniel,” Rodney replied as he sat down at the table and grabbed a carafe. “I ate after I got poked and prodded by the voodoo practitioners upstairs in medical. I’ve been waiting on the results of the autopsy.”
“McKay, don’t insult the people who can put you back together if you get shot,” another voice called. From the way Rodney stiffened and then relaxed he knew it. “And you’ve also been ranting, raving and calling my intelligence into question over the supplies I’ve arranged for your departments.”
“Sheppard, stop baiting him,” O’Neill snapped at both of the new arrivals. “DiNozzo, these are two of your new coworkers. Sitting at the table is Dr. M. Rodney McKay; CSO of the Atlantis mission and at the door is Lt. Col John Sheppard, the military head of the Atlantis mission. Gentlemen, this is your new NCIS Agent, Tony DiNozzo.”
Both men stared at Tony, and he waved at them before turning to stare at the CSO. “So, the stasis the room is under will keep the scene exactly the same way it was when you left?”
The look McKay gave him was scathing. “Yes.”
“How much did you all touch?” Tony asked. If he was going to be investigating the murder as soon as he got out to Atlantis, he needed to know how much of his scene was contaminated.
“Not much,” McKay told him, anger sparking in his blue eyes. “It was horrifically obvious that Keller was dead when we got to the room. I walked in, picked her up, walked out and then put her in a body bag. Once I did that, I slapped the whole room into stasis, dialed Earth and found out we were getting you.”
Well, that was a bit better than it could have been, Tony thought. But there was a lot of evidence that might have been lost due to how the victim was handled. “You say that you picked the victim up? After you placed her in the body bag, what did you do with the clothes you were wearing?”
“I stripped out of them since they were soaked with fluids. Carson bagged them, and I don’t know what he did with them,” McKay huffed out a breath before sipping on the coffee he had poured.
The next hour was a combination of interview and report. Tony was getting all the information he needed to start his mental file on the murder. “Wait, you said Keller? Did you know the victim?”
“Yeah, we both did,” Sheppard cut in. “She came to Atlantis in the second wave of reinforcements from the Daedalus. She was one of the medical doctors that had been helping with our wounded and stayed on after the ship left. Elizabeth and I had left before the Daedalus headed out. McKay stayed behind to oversee the repairs of the city.”
“So, Dr. McKay? You were on the city when the victim was killed?” Tony asked.
“Yes. Didn’t you figure that out? I mean I was the one who entered the room to get her out of it!” McKay snapped.
“Dr. McKay, I have a job to do, and that job is to investigate what happened, who did it and why. I’m not going to disparage your job, please don’t disparage mine,” Tony told the doctor evenly. He was going to have to lay down the rules with the scientist now. McKay seemed like the kind of man who would run anyone over if they didn’t stand up to him early and firmly.
McKay stared at Tony for several moments before nodding once. “Fine.”
“Looks like there is someone else who can stand up to you,” O’Neill murmured, amused. “I figure you’re going to be investigating the crime as soon as you get on the city and I’m sorry that I can’t get you to there today. There’s just not enough power to fire up the stargate and get you going.”
“I can’t say that I don’t want to go, General, but the news that the scene will still be fresh is a relief. If you don’t mind, I want to go talk to your ME and examine the body,” Tony informed him.
“Go ahead. Your escort is outside the door and will take you to correct level,” O’Neill told him with a point to the correct door.
Tony nodded at everyone in the room and left. He could feel the pull of the mystery getting to him, and he wanted to get stuck in immediately.
– – – –
“When I asked you for help in corralling my marines, I wasn’t expecting you to get me a cop,” John told his CO.
O’Neill shrugged at him and leaned back in his chair. “Actually you can thank General Hammond for him. I know we tried for years to get an NCIS agent in here when George was in charge, but it kept falling through. Your request seems to have come at the right time. Last time I saw George this happy about an acquisition; we had just gotten our first glider.”
“So things were looking good, and then we get one of our people murdered,” Rodney muttered.
John didn’t have the heart to tell his friend that he was likely one of their new agent’s suspects. What a cluster fuck the day was turning out to be. John looked at the notebook he had been taking notes on and seized on the one item that was mostly off topic. “Sir, do we have the room on the Daedalus for him and his gear? Colonel Caldwell has been very tight lipped on the amount of room he has available for discretionary items.”
O‘Neill raised an eyebrow at him for that. “His idea of discretionary? Or yours and McKay’s?”
“In this case, it’s Chief Cooper’s idea of discretionary with a side order from Botany,” McKay informed him. “And I totally signed off on everything she needs. Without question.”
“I’m surprised,” Jackson muttered into his coffee cup. “Normally you treat Botany like it’s some stupid half-assed thing passing itself off as a science.”
John winced slightly at that. Yeah, Rodney was shit with anything he considered a soft science and Botany was that. But, Botany and Chief Cooper had managed to keep everyone on the City fed, and that went a long way with the scientist.
“Half-assed or not, being able to grow our own food to supplement what we import is just smart. And most of what we want can be grown inside the city in pots and container gardens. The rest of it will need some specialty tech, but that’s easy to acquire or cobble together,” McKay said, voice even. “I like to eat, so I’m willing to indulge the squishy brigade.”
“I’ll deal with Caldwell,” O’Neill interjected before any possible rant could fully take off. “Tell me again, what you saw when you found Keller.”
“She was in her room,” McKay started at the beginning and ran all through the whole series of events. It wasn’t any less gruesome the fifth time around. “Do you think the cop will be able to figure out who did that?”
“Yeah, I do,” O’Neill told him.
John was staring at his friend trying to see into him. He hadn’t been on Atlantis when the murder took place, so he had no idea if Rodney had done it or not. His gut was telling him that Rodney hadn’t killed Keller, but his gut wasn’t evidence. After all, when McKay had neutralized the wraith right before the siege, he had shaken for hours in the jumper after his adrenaline had worn off. McKay wasn’t shaking now. And that meant there was a murderer on his city.
– – – –
Tony managed to make it most of the way to medical on his own, his escort had been willing to let him lead. The corporal had taken over only when Tony had tried to find the morgue. When he pushed the door in the heavy smell of disinfectants assaulted his nose.
“Hello?” Tony called out. Tucking his hands behind his back, he waited until the person who had to be the base’s ME came out of her office. “Hi! My name is Tony DiNozzo, and I’ve been assigned as the NICS agent for Atlantis. I’m here for the murder victim that came in from Atlantis this morning?”
“I’m Dr. Brightman. Can I see a badge?” the woman asked.
Tony pulled his badge from his belt and laid it flat on his hand, extending it out to the doctor. “General Hammond hired me on to be the NCIS for Atlantis, and I’m going to do my best for all her people. Even the dead ones. Maybe especially the dead ones.”
Brightman nodded and waved him over to the refrigerated drawers that were used to store the dead. Pulling one open, Tony saw it contained a body draped in the traditional white sheet. Reaching out one hand, he let it hover over the shroud before looking at the ME. “May I?”
At the doctors’ nod, Tony carefully pulled the cloth back and took his first look at the victim. From the front, the young woman was slightly beat up, but also beautiful. There were some bruises on her face and in her hairline, but her face was remarkably clean. The back of her head though was another story. It was shattered, and Tony could see the inside of the young woman’s skull.
“Do you have some gloves I can use? Also, can you give me some idea what caused the wounds?” Tony asked.
Brightman reached out and grabbed a box of blue nitrile gloves and presented them to Tony. “Here, use these. As for the weapon? From what I can put together, the weapon used to kill Dr. Keller was round, with a flat bottom. As the beating continued, it seems to have distorted, but still was rather round and flat. I don’t know what did it, but I’m certain it isn’t in good shape.”
Tony nodded as he slipped on the gloves with the ease of long practice. Carefully he moved over the victim, examining every inch of the killing wound, the defensive wounds and any identifying marks she had. “Do you have a good camera that I can use?”
“Not one that you can use, but I did take pictures of everything, and I videotaped my exam as well,” Brightman told him.
“Thank you, Doctor. I would like to get those right away,” Tony told her “Have you sent things like the nail scrapings out to be tested?”
“Yeah, full set of tests are being run at this time. I know that there’s a time limit,” Brightman confirmed.
Tony hummed at that and carefully rotated the head to expose the back of the head. “Yeah, whoever did this, wanted to make damn sure she was dead. Given the condition of the skull, doctor, was her brain intact? Or is it missing anything?”
“You are taking this very well,” Brightman observed before answering the question. “The skull is obviously broken open, with the skin in shreds. The brain was grievously damaged in the assault, and no, I wasn’t able to verify that all of it was in the skull when she was brought in. I checked the body bag she was transported in, and while there were some bits of brain-matter in it, there wasn’t enough to make up the difference.”
“Thanks, doc. I’m taking this ‘well’ because I’ve been a cop of one type or another for ten years. Also, I worked with Ducky Mallard the ME out of the Navy Yard in DC,” Tony absently informed the doctor of his bona fides.
“Ducky’s good people,” Brightman said. The doctor seemed a bit more comfortable with Tony now that he knew Tony wasn’t just an ignorant lookie-loo.
Glancing up, Tony smiled and then shook his head. It totally didn’t surprise him to know that Ducky was known of by the doctors at the SGC. Looking back down at the head in his hands, Tony carefully placed her back on the neck prop. “Is there anything else you can tell me about her?”
“Yes, she was sexually active not long before she was killed, but there’s no evidence of her partner or even if she had a partner, no semen. At any rate, there was some lingering irritation of the tissues. None of the wounds on her seem to have been made in a sexual context,” Brightman reported.
“Good to know,” Tony said. “This will all be in your report?”
Brightman nodded. “It’ll be there. If you haven’t been added to the system by the time I get that finished, I will have a physical copy delivered to you, along with all the pictures.”
Stripping the gloves off his hands, Tony tucked them together and dropped the ball of nitrile into the box Brightman held out. “Thank you, doctor. I’ll be looking for that report.”
– – – –
When Tony made it back to the conference room, he took the chair he was waived to and listened as the meeting he had interrupted restarted. Lt. Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay were hashing out with a final list of supplies and scenarios with a new person. The woman was blond, with piercing blue eyes, high cheekbones and a mouth that both knew how to smile and frown. Dr. Elizabeth Weir was, from what Tony could piece together, the leader of the expedition.
As the conversation moved to things that didn’t concern him, Tony pulled a notebook out of his backpack and started jotting down his impressions of the victim, the facts he had gotten from McKay and any thoughts that had been sparked as he recalled everything. It was a jumbled mess, but he was used to working with things laid out that way, and it helped him make the connections that would lead to solving the case. He hoped.
“Agent DiNozzo,” Dr. Jackson’s voice interrupted his thoughts as he was tapping his pen against his lips.
Looking up, Tony found the whole room staring at him. “Dr. Jackson? Can I help you?”
“I wanted to introduce you to Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the leader of the expedition,” Jackson waved a hand at the blond woman. “Elizabeth, this is Agent Dr. Anthony DiNozzo. He’s going to be the Agent Afloat for Atlantis. Right now, he’s investigating the murder of Dr. Keller.”
Shrewd eyes gazed at him and measured him against an internal measuring stick. Whatever she saw, Tony seemed to have passed because her eyes warmed up. “I’m glad to see you, Dr. DiNozzo. Do you prefer Doctor or Agent?”
Tony smiled at that question. “I’ve only had the doctorate for about six months, Dr. Weir so, I would prefer Agent. I’ll be doing my best to serve the people of Atlantis in this.”
“I’m sure you will,” Weir told him.
“So, I was listening to the conversation, and from what I understand, one of the things you are trying to figure out is how to recover people from these Wraith dart things, right?” Tony asked.
“Yes,” McKay stared at him and Tony stared back. “What is your degree in?”
“Something that you probably think is hopelessly soft sciency, but I got my Ph.D. in Forensic Science,” Tony told him. When McKay pulled a slightly disgusted face, Tony laughed. “Deal with it, Dr. McKay. Not all of us can fall in love with hard science. How do you get access to the darts?”
“Mostly chance. The few times we’ve been able to examine one, it’s been due to using a jumper and its weapons to knock one out of the sky,” Sheppard reported promptly.
“So they are vulnerable to earth munitions?” Tony pressed. He had an idea percolating in his head, but he needed some more information before he said anything else.
“They are. We’ve used an M249 machine gun to force one out of the sky, but it took all the ammunition in the magazine to do it,” Sheppard explained.
“Did you not have a sniper rifle?” Tony asked.
Sheppard shook his head. “Nope. And while we have several in our updated TOE, we don’t have any trained snipers.”
“You need one. If an M249 took down a dart, I figure a .50cal could take care of one easily,” Tony offered. “I’ve got the training, and I can train, but I’m not the best out there for this type of thing.”
“It’s a damn good idea,” O’Neill chimed in. “Do you have anyone in mind?”
“Ian Edgerton. He’s been teaching the course at the FBI for several years. He also has a great deal of experience in fugitive retrieval and military service in the Army,” Tony said. Ian was one of the absolute best snipers on the planet, and given what he was proposing a sniper do, Sheppard and his people needed the best to teach them how to bag a Wraith dart.
“Good contribution, DiNozzo. I’ll look at Agent Edgerton to see if he might be a fit for the SGC,” O’Neill murmured as he jotted down the information Tony had shared.
“Cool,” Tony said, voice soft.
Dr. Weir clapped her hands and pulled the attention of the room to her. “Okay, we’ve been talking in circles for the last half-hour. I propose that we break for the afternoon and meet in the morning.”
“Tony, I have some more DVD’s for you to review,” Jackson told him as he pushed a stack of jewel cases over to him.
“Some? Doctor Jackson, you have a gift for understatement,” Tony muttered. “General, is there any way I can get a ride into town? I want to get some last minute things for both the trip out and my new life on Atlantis.”
“I’m heading into town,” Sheppard broke in. “I’ll be happy to take you.”
Tony nodded. “Thank you, Colonel.”
– – – –
The next two days were insanely busy. Tony barely had the time to catch a few catnaps as he started receiving the supplies he had ordered. Brightman got him the results of the autopsy, and he spent several hours poring over it and talking to the good doctor about his findings. When it was time to head up, Tony joined Siler as the master sergeant packed up the storage room he had been assigned. Between the two of them, they packed his allotment full up to the ceiling, using every square inch of space.
Tony didn’t even blink when Dr. Jackson swung by and handed him a bag full of goodies. Peeking in Tony wasn’t surprised to find it full of candies and coffee. There was no note included, but he was sure the bag was for him to use as bribes. Always a useful thing. Chuckling softly, he worked it into a shallow hollow in front of the door.
Turning to Siler, Tony shook his hand. “Thank you, Master Sergeant. You’ve been a great deal of help.”
“You’re welcome, sir,” Siler told him with a smile before heading out.
He was fussing with the last bit of arrangements when Lt. Colonel Sheppard walked up to him with a bag in his hand. Tony raised an eyebrow at the possible contraband. Not that he had a leg to stand on, given the givens, but he was surprised to see the colonel be so blatant.
“Oh, I’m not going to ask you to do anything with this.” Sheppard shook the bag as he came to a stop. “You and Siler really did manage to pack that room to the ceiling.”
“Siler is amazing at packing a lot into a small space,” Tony confided.
“I just hope it doesn’t shift and fall in on you when you open the door at the end of the voyage,” Sheppard said, eyeing the door.
“Oh, me too.” Tony looked up at the tightly packed room. “I can’t see how I could get much more in there.”
“Well, if you’re done, let’s get you to your berth,” Sheppard told him. “Grab your backpack and your computer bag.”
The walk out of the bowels of the ship was fascinating to Tony. Most of the personnel they passed seemed to be busy with their own tasks, and that was fine. As much as Tony was curious about everyone’s jobs, but he didn’t want to interrupt them.
Sheppard stopped in front of the door of a stateroom and waved to Tony in. “Caldwell said you were right next to Rodney and me. As far as I know, this is it.”
“Thank you, Colonel,” Tony murmured
“See you at dinner,” Sheppard told him with a salute and a jaunty wave of his bag.
Stepping into the room Tony sighed. It looked like someone had taken lessons from the Navy on how to get a lot out of a little space. The bed was flat against the wall and ready to be flipped down to sleep. Opposite the door to the attached head was a desk/chair combo also flat against the walls.
High up on the walls were hooks and what looked like shallow shelves. Tony was sure this was where he was supposed to store his gear. Unpacking was the work of moments, and he took the time to wet a towel down to freshen up. This was going to be worse, in some ways, than the times he had been on subs. More room, just as much danger, way more time inside.
A quick check of his watch showed he had a half-hour until dinner and a lock to set. The directions were easy to figure out, and he made short work of that. Then it was time to head out and see if he could find the mess.
A few wrong turns led him to both the gym and the mess. The gym seemed to have all the standards, so he had someplace to go when he needed out of his head. Lam had come through for him and Lt. Colonel Carter had used some nifty alien tech on his lungs. They weren’t back to where they had been before the plague but were miles better than they had been.
The mess seemed to tag all the military norms of bland and boring, so Tony loaded up on dinner before tucking himself into a corner to eat and observe. The food was good, hot and filling. Tony made sure to clean his plate, and he had everything piled on it, ready to police when he was joined by Sheppard and McKay. He sat back and sipped on the last of his coffee as he stared at the two men. Swallowing carefully he got ready to lay out some simple but harsh truths.
“Colonel, Dr. McKay, it might not be the best thing for you to be sitting with me. After all, I am investigating a murder on your city, and my list of suspects does include one of you,” Tony told them softly, eyes on McKay. “If you are my murderer, taking the time to be friendly won’t stop me from arresting you.”
McKay stared back over the top of his coffee cup he had cradled in his hands and nodded. “Is this why I had a shadow when I was doing all my last minute shopping?”
“Yes,” Tony told him, keeping the answer simple. “You were on Atlantis when the death happened, and you knew the decedent, both in life and in death. As much as you might think I’m pulling your leg by having you observed, the whole process has a function.”
“I know. Well, Sheppard made sure that I knew what was going on and didn’t freak out about seeing the extra Marine,” McKay said, voice steady. “While I know I didn’t do anything, you have to get to that point by finding the person who did it.”
Tony nodded and looked at Sheppard. The Colonel was staring at him, green eyes hard and it took all he had to stare back, unconcerned. After all, he got it. The two men were apparently decent friends, and he was sure the Colonel had his own opinion on the scientist’s guilt or not. But he was the one investigating the death of a scientist, and he had to be as objective as possible.
“We’re good, Agent, DiNozzo,” Sheppard said with a sigh. The words were said in an even tone, and Tony nodded. He wasn’t looking for anything more than that.
“I’ll let you finish your meal then, gentlemen. I have an appointment with some DVDs. Can I come to you with questions about events at the SGC or Atlantis?” Tony asked. The SGC’s IT department had gotten in touch with him and made sure that he had the equipment he needed to get his job done. And Dr. Jackson had gotten them to include a preloaded tablet with all the videos he would need to get his initial briefing out of the way. They had even souped up his e-reader, and he had spent time getting as many ebooks as he could download for his time away.
“We’ll be available for questions. Most people on the ship are long time hands at the SGC as well, so they will also be able to help you fill in any blanks,” McKay told him before taking a bite of his dinner.
Tony just nodded and grabbed his plates and headed out after nodding a quick goodbye at the Colonel. He hadn’t been lying; he had a lot of work ahead of him. Time to buckle down and get it done.
The trip out to Atlantis was very weird and at times incredibly fascinating. He was on a spaceship, and that fulfilled every odd dream he had ever had about wanting to be an astronaut. But it was also massively boring because there was actually very little for him to do other than study the DVD’s he had been given, read the copies of reports he had access to and exercise.
The most excitement happened in the middle where there was a mess of digital sabotage. From what Tony was able to learn, the whole kerfuffle could be traced to the Wraith. As Sheppard and McKay rushed around fixing the sabotage, Tony was busy gathering all the evidence he could along with keeping the civilian passengers calm enough that they didn’t get in the way of those trying to fix the problem.
When Sheppard and McKay got back on board, Tony arranged time with both of them for interviews. Each of them laid out the events as they understood them and he was able to piece everything together. Sheppard was calm through the whole experience, relaying the order of events without drama and without prompting. McKay on the other hand sat and shook as he relived the events that they were going over and needed to be redirected several times back to the interview.
Tony didn’t count the shakes against McKay. Sheppard had been trained to deal with combat and the aftermath of it and was handling the whole event well. McKay was a civilian scientist who, despite having been in a combat zone for the previous year, didn’t have the training or the experience to work through the aftermath of the recent crisis. He was recovering rapidly, but Tony had to contrast how McKay was acting right then with how he had acted in the security tapes he had reviewed.
In the tapes, McKay was obviously upset but seemed to be focused on reporting what had happened. There was little in the way of nerves, more concern, and horror. Tony had even had a chance to see the footage of the man as he had come through the stargate and McKay had been yelling for assistance as he walked down the ramp. He hadn’t fallen apart, and he hadn’t seemed too fazed by the body in his arms.
He didn’t quite know what to think about McKay. At times he was incredibly brave, and at other times he seemed like he was scared of his own shadow. He had even heard the Canadian comment about being a coward. Tony had to disagree. Bravery was standing up and doing something, even when one was afraid. McKay was plenty brave.
Tony just had to make sure that he wasn’t a murderer, too.
– – – –
Four days later they were on Atlantis and Tony was too busy to dwell on his personal wishes.
Atlantis had opened like a flower to him, and Tony nestled down into the feeling in relief. His DVDs had told him that those with the ATA genome had an easier time of it on the city than just about anyone else. Since he did have the genome, Sheppard gave him the basics of how to use his shiny new ability and what sounded like a standard set of warnings not to touch anything that gave him the willies.
His stuff was supposed to be delivered to his quarters and his office, but Tony barely noticed. The crime scene was just like McKay had told him. Totally and completely preserved and full of evidence. He spent hours going over every inch of the room Keller had died in, collecting reams of evidence. After that, he spent time logging it in and starting the tests needed.
Then he stumbled his way to his room to get some badly needed sleep.
Once he woke back up, Tony made his way back to his lab and went over everything he had started the day before. Every single test was reviewed, new ones were prepped, and Tony loaded his next batch of samples in the machines and then set his watch. He had a few hours before his results started coming in, and he had a city to interview.
Dr. Carson Beckett was added to the list not long after Tony started interviewing the personnel of the infirmary. It seemed that Dr. Keller had engaged in heated words with their boss, Dr. Beckett. Said heated words seemed to have something to do with the CMO’s ethics and a drug referred to in the notes as the Hoff vaccine. From what Tony gathered in the various discussions he had with the doctors and nurses of Beckett’s staff, it seemed that the good doctor had been instrumental in developing the drug and bore some of the guilt for its implementation and the deaths that followed.
Tony made a note to look into that. It seemed that there was a lot that hadn’t gotten reported to the SGC and someone needed to figure out where the line in the sand was going to be drawn. O’Neill had wanted him to have iron ethics, and this seemed to be a good start to that.
The next person he added was a petite Japanese scientist out of McKay’s lab. She had marched right up to him in his lab as he was running tests and told him that he would be speaking to her next. Tony had stared at her for several moments before kicking her out of his lab and telling her to go next door. He had an office and anteroom set up over there, and it had the couch he had found and some of the chairs he had brought along. Interior decorating wasn’t high on his list.
Loading the next batch of tests up he took the time to record the results before moving on to the remaining samples. He had gotten a complete list of personnel from the SGC and was sure his visitor was one of the original expedition. Less than ten minutes later, his supposition was confirmed, and he was reluctantly amused. Dr. Miko Kusanagi wasn’t what he had expected, and she pulled no punches in her assessment of anyone, living or dead.
“Keller was not a good fit for Atlantis,” Kusanagi told him, voice frank. “She was very snoopy and getting into things that were not hers to explore. I caught her in the main science labs several times, trying to get into the computers and I kicked her out each time.”
The sniff that she let out at that was very offended. “She tried to tell me that she had authorization to get into the computers, but she was a medical doctor, not one of the hard scientists, not one of the ones Dr. McKay had allowed to work in there.”
Well, that put a different light on the puzzle. Thanking Kusanagi for her information, Tony walked into his office and stared at the murder wall he had been putting together between tests. He had one section devoted to Keller; the victim, one section set up to all his test results, and another with all the suspects laid out.
Kusanagi was added without much thought.
He had a crewmember from the Daedalus on the board as well as the three from the original expedition. Yakiu Brent had apparently had a relationship with Keller while the Daedalus was on her way out to rescue Atlantis. If you could call the four days they had spent fucking around the kid’s duty schedule a relationship. Brent seemed to have thought that there would be something more but had been rather brutally slapped down by Keller when he had approached her after the siege to pick things back up.
There was a second kid who had been involved with Keller on the city, and he seemed to be quite happy she was dead. Tony wasn’t quite ready to say that Roy Ethan was humming ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ as he went about his day, but it was a close thing. Both men were of a type, and that type seemed to be younger, mixed race and relatively naïve.
Staring at his boards, Tony shook his head. Damn, but he had no idea, yet where all the information before him met up and formed an answer. But he was determined to find out.