A/N: Okay. Here's the deal with this. While I was waiting for votes on the next chapter to come in, I was watching this show on TV which pretty much taught how to survive in various life or death situations. That particular episode was how to survive a skyjacking, but that's neither her nor there. Essentially, it fueled my imagination. What would happen if today's societal systems failed? Government rendered useless and/or nonexistant, resources fought over, etc. It was then I got the idea of WWGD? What Would Gibbs Do?
Now, I know I promised the completion of What If. I can still finish it, which at this point will most likely be a general casefic. But since I didn't get this idea until I had already posted the options, it didn't get a chance to get voted on. So this little preview of my new fic can either be its own story or the newest update to What If. You may be skeptical, but I can totally work it into the storyline I have already established. Oh trust me: it will work.
So it's up to you. This can be the newest Chapter to What If, or it be a preview to a completely different fic.
Let me know what you think about the concept! It's a little different from how I usually go about writing these. I do hope you enjoy it though! Bon Apetit!
The night was deathly still. A dark and vacant block sat on the outskirts of the city, abandoned but for a slew of abandoned newspapers, bottles, and cans littering the pavement. The smell of smoke and decay lingered heavily in the air, which was thick and sticky with the coming summer heat. A single fire-barrel, dull from burning for days, provided only the barest modicum of light, as opaque clouds covered the night sky. The long-dark streetlamps now served only as turf markers.
The weeks following the Incident had given rise to a hierarchy of gangs. Some gangs had existed before the Incident, but they had been challenged, and sometimes defeated, by newer coalitions of former office workers and civil servants. Territory was fought and killed over, as more territory meant greater access to resources. Intruders were dealt with severely, a result of intense loyalty and competition for precious resources. Turf boundaries were delineated by covering street lamps and telephone poles in spray paint, proudly putting their gang names and symbols on display for all to see. But despite the symbols on these lamps, this particular street was void of life.
The remnants of what had once been a Jeep Wrangler could be seen at the far end of the alley, charred and stripped clean of all minable parts. The frame rested directly on the pavement, as all four tires had been removed. The hood was hinged open, revealing a gaping hole where the engine and battery had once been. The gas was gone as well, siphoned off for other uses, leaving the tank as empty as the car's interior, which had been stripped of all its seats and carpeting.
Suddenly, the tranquility of the scene was broken by the appearance of a shadowed shape peeking around the corner of a building. After a moment of scanning the block for danger, it darted out into the open, quick as smoke. The Shadow moved with natural stealth, not making a sound as it crept down the street. It weaved around a fire-barrel, briefly illuminating the shape of a bulky sack slung over its shoulders. A moment later, a sudden clatter of shifting rubble sent the Shadow scurrying to the nearest source of cover—the scorched skeleton of the Jeep. Once there it froze, blending into the blackened silhouette in its attempt to avoid the potential threat.
A raggedy-coated cat trotted from beneath the offending rubble heap, and when only silence followed, it became clear that the feline had been the cause of the disruption. The Shadow paused only a moment more before leaving the Jeep behind as it crept along a diagonal, before finally darting into an even darker alleyway.
As soon as it was shielded by hollow dumpsters, the Shadow removed the bulky pack from its shoulders as four more dark forms detached from the wall and moved towards the sack, sliding closer to get a better look.
"How did we do?" came a male voice, not belonging to any of the curious onlookers, instead emanating from the dark side of a dumpster. The Shadow didn't flinch—it recognized the Voice, expected it.
"Consumables and toiletries only," the Shadow replied in a female, lightly accented voice. "Enough to last us another week at best. We'll need to make another run for Medicinals soon." Shadow opened her pack to reveal the night's loot. The ghostly forms around her immediately began to take inventory, listing each item before dividing the items into three separate sacks.
"Any Encounters?" the Voice inquired. The Voice was steady, calm. Only the keenest ear could detect the undercurrent of concern.
"None," came the reply. "Some activity six blocks west of here, but not the Vipers. Vagabonds, most likely. They found the Quik-Stop and Walmart on E Street— picked it clean."
"Visual confirmation of seven: three male, four female. No identifiable leader."
"Who did we poach from this time?" the Voice asked, this time with a smile hidden in his tone. Possession of this Sector shifted weekly, making it something of a running joke to the Patrol. The Shadow paused for a moment before responding.
Silence met her reply. The Packers froze where they stood, their eyes automatically shooting to where the Voice was located, beside a dumpster. All present knew the impact of that word, what it meant to their way of life.
"Where?" All amusement had abandoned the Voice, until the hard tone of a leader returned.
"Far end of the Sector. No sentries posted, just tags."
"Very well." A moment of silence followed. "Move out," came the command. At that, the frozen dark Packers resumed their motions, tucking away the last of the supplies without a sound. Cinching the sacks shut, the Packers slung the bags over their shoulders and moved towards the far end of the alleyway. Only the Shadow remained behind with the Voice.
"Are we going to have to relocate, Gibbs?" the Shadow asked softly. The Voice sighed and moved closer to her, leaving the cover of the dumpster.
"We may not have to."
"You said that the last time," the Shadow responded shortly. "We moved 20 miles two days later."
"I know that Ziver," the Voice said. "I was there too."
"We cannot keep moving around like this. We pick up more and more people each time we do, and now there are children to care for—"
"We'll talk about this later," the Voice interrupted. He motioned to the horizon. "The sun is coming. We need to get moving."
"You are right," the Shadow said, her voice sharp. The Voice knew that despite her short intontation, she was being anything but insubordinate. She silently slipped away to join the rest of the Patrol, who had already established Roadguards, ready to sound the alarm should an unidentified party approach. The Voice followed behind her, allowing her to take charge of the Patrol. When the Shadow spoke, her tone was firm and precise—the orders of a commander. "Back to Base."