In The Dark
A sequel to The People Out There
Part One - Cote
"Has the subject been acquired?"
"Yes, Oh Great One."
"Has the new and improved Teleinvisichronomicon been fully Charged?"
"Yes, Oh Great One."
"Very well. Prepare to activate on my signal."
"Yes, Oh Great One."
Timothy McGee, junior special agent, NCIS, had invited Abby Sciuto, forensics virtuoso, to go with him to the exhibit "Fly Girls of World War II", which had just opened at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. The exhibit honored the WASP - over a thousand women who had flown all kinds of military planes during World War II, from heavy bombers to pursuit planes, and the thirty-eight of those women who had given their lives in the service of their country.
Abby had invited Ziva David, Mossad liaison, to come along as well. Ziva had not mentioned their plans to senior Special Agent Gibbs, nevertheless he had somehow heard about it and decided to accompany them. This announcement had been overheard by Tony, senior NCIS agent under Gibbs, who declared his intention of coming along as well.
"In England," said Ducky - the team's Medical Examiner, as the group, which now included him and his assistant, Palmer as well, drove in Ducky's van (which he had used to drive around his aged mother) towards the Memorial, "we had a similar, although rather smaller group, called the Air Transport Auxiliary. And also, similar to what the women of the WASP faced, they were resented by many men, who felt that if their jobs were taken away, they themselves would have to go to the front, which of course was the idea."
Abby nodded. "Typical."
"Now the Russians were really progressive," Ducky continued, turning on the access road to the Memorial, "although they needed to be, as they were fighting for their lives after having been decimated early in the war. They had the Night Witches, women who actually piloted fighter planes and engaged in combat! Interestingly, even in the waning stages of the war when Germany was on the ropes and teenaged boys were being sent to the front, women were not allowed to join the Air Force in any capacity. It was still kinder, kuche, kirche for them."
"What about in Israel, Ziva?" asked Abby.
Ziva shrugged. "It was somewhat the same. Although Israel is the only country in the world where women are drafted into the military, it was not until about 2001 that they were allowed to do anything other than make coffee and push pencils. Now things are a bit more even."
"I'd say so," murmured Tony.
Ducky parked the van, and they started to pile out.
A group of children, under the imperfect control of their parents, charged past. Ziva, stepping out of the van, sidestepped one, and could have sidestepped the other, what with her splendid reflexes, when...
A sudden searing pain lanced through her head, and thus she was unable to avoid the other child, and so when she dropped to her knees on the ground, all witness assumed that it was caused by the little tyke, rather than a combination of the two events.
Because this was a new and improved Teleinvisichronomicon, however, the lancing pain disappeared almost as soon as it had arrived, and Cote de Pablo got to her feet not feeling any the worse for wear.
Except when she looked around. She'd been on the set of NCIS, filming a rather fraught scene between her and Michael Weatherly as Tony DiNozzo, and now instead of being indoors, surrounded by lights and people, she was outdoors, dressed completely differently, surrounded by her actor-mates who were also dressed differently, and it was cold and chill and a little tyke was running away from her while its mother said, "I'm so sorry."
"No problem," said Cote.
"That's not like you, Ziva," said Michael with a laugh, as the woman hurried after her child. "To let a kid knock you down, that's pretty bad."
Cote stared at him with a frozen expression. What the hell? Had he called her Ziva?
"Ziva has the reflexes of a cat," Pauley Perrette defended her. Pauley? Pauley hadn't been in the scene thry'd been filming..what was she doing here? For that matter, what were David and Brian doing here? For that matter, what was she doing here, out in a parking lot in a cold wind? Where the hell were they?
"Coming, Ziva?" said Mark, walking past her.
I'm having some kind of hallucination, Cote thought as she started walking (for it must be remembered that though she had been Charged previously by the people out there, she had forgotten what had happened almost as soon as she had been returned to her own reality, and so this was all new to her again.)
I was filming a scene, and Mike shoved me against the wall and my head snapped back a little hard, and hit the wall, and I'm having a little out of body experience here. Well, out of set and out of mind experience, more like it. But I'm going to go with the flow and soon all of this will start to make sense.
She followed the others into the building, where Gibbs pulled out his wallet and purchased tickets for them all.
Part Two - Ziva
Cote de Pablo, who played Ziva David on the televison show NCIS, and Michael Weatherly, who played her partner/sparring partner, Tony DiNozzo, had rehearsed the scene they were about to film. Cote's character, Ziva, who was having a rough time of it in this episode, was to go off on Tony, and Tony was to shove her up against a wall and calm her down.
Only, he shoved a little bit too hard, and Cote's head hit the wall a bit hard, and sparks went off before her eyes.
"Um...what, Oh Great One?"
"Show me the other one, now."
"Oh...but...we don't know that they exchange places, Oh Great One."
"Oh, yes we do know that, Gamma, don't we?"
"Um..yes, Oh Great One."
"So, show me."
"Yes, Oh Great One."
Ziva David, who had been getting out of a van and noticed several small figures rushing at and around her, suddenly saw sparks in front of her eyes, and a tremendous pain in her head. The pain disappeared in an instant, but now she felt someone holding her pressed up against a wall, wrists locked in iron grips, and whoever it was, they had to pay.
She lifted her knee into a very strategic spot...as she did so the bright lights cleared from her eyes and she realized who was holding her. She tried to hold up...failed.
"Je---sus," moaned Tony, folding into the ground.
From somewhere, Ziva heard someone yell, "Cut."
Tony lifted a pained face up at her. "What the hell'd you do that for, Cote?" he choked.
Ziva looked up and around, shocked and bewildered. She was surrounded by bright lights, and people..hundreds of people, in a room, somewhere. And there was an incredibly big camera pointed at her. But...but...Tony was on the floor, and there was Gibbs, and McGee, both staring at her incredulously... and she was standing in a room with only two walls and no ceiling...and vaguely she noticed that she wasn't even dressed the same.
Had she somehow been kidnapped? Brainwashed? Filmed while being brainwashed? And the team had arrived to rescue her?
"Tony, I am so sorry," she said, "I reacted instinctively, I..." she bent down and tried to help him to his feet.
"Good try on trying to save the scene, Cote," Gibbs told her, coming forward and helping her lift Tony. "But I don't think it's going to do any good. Mike...you okay, man?"
Why were they calling her Cote? And why was Gibbs calling Tony, Mike?
"Yeah...yeah, Mark, I'm fine. Cote, you gotta watch it with that knee."
Why are you calling me Cote? Ziva wanted to scream, but she dared not. Something was wrong here, very wrong. This huge room, those lights, the filming...something was very wrong.
"Uh...Mike...are you ready?" asked another man Cote didn't recognize. "Want to give the scene another try?"
Tony...whom they were calling Mike, bent over, said "Whew," a few times, and then, "Sure, I'm ready to go." He turned to look at her, and gave her one of his charming smiles. "Sorry, Cote, to push you so hard. I'll go easier on you this time."
Ziva stared at him. "I...I am not ready," she said. "I...that hit on the head...it has got me woozy."
Gibbs stepped forward. "Tom, we were going to quit after this scene anyway. Why don't we call it a night, pick it up tomorrow morning?"
"Sure, Mark...okay, everybody, that's a wrap!"
Ziva stood, watching, as all the crowd who'd surrounded them suddenly started talking among themselves and bustling around.
"Cote?" Tony came up to her and she couldn't help herself, she flinched away. "Cote? Jeez, girl, I must have given your head a pretty good knock. You look zoned out. Let me take you to the nurse."
"No, I am fine. I... I just want to go ...home."
Gibbs came up to her. "Cote. You'd better go to the nurse. You don't look fit to do any driving."
"I am fine..." she couldn't say Mark..she couldn't say Gibbs...
"Look, I"ll drive you home," said Tony, whom they called Mike.
There may have been more conversation, but Ziva paid no attention. Even as she accompanied this man who was Tony DiNozzo but answered to the name of Mike, as they walked down corridors, stopped into a room to grab up a big book, then continue on and out into a car, she was busy assessing possibilities and probabilities. It wasn't possible that they'd all been brainwashed, was it?
Whatever was going on, she mustn't let it be known that she had broken through her conditioning, and remembered who she was..or perhaps more accurately who she wasn't. She had to take things very slowly, very carefully, until she knew who was responsible for all this...and who she was going to have to kill.