"Let there be light!" Abby announced cheerfully as she and Palmer returned from their second trip out. "Or at least . . . let there be computers!"
Abby hurried over to the computer and powered it up. It hummed and sprang to life. Abby punched the air in triumphant and quickly logged on. Unfortunately, as she had said before, the cameras were unavailable.
"Oh well," she muttered. "Can't have everything. We have a computer though."
"To do what with?" Harry asked. "It's not quite the time for playing Solitaire," he joked.
"We-ell." Abby drew out the word. "I'm sure I can think of something."
"So what are we going to do now?" Palmer echoed Harry. "We have guns and lights and a computer with no security cameras."
"It's better than what we had before," Abby defended. She turned to Ducky. "But we have to do something," she exclaimed. "We can't just sit here and do nothing." She paused and her face lit up. "We could attempt a daring rescue!"
"I don't think that's a good idea, Abigail," Ducky replied. "The best thing we can do is wait for reinforcements."
"But what if they don't come?" Abby argued. "What then? Harry needs medical attention and who knows what's happen up in the bullpen. They could be injured for all we know. Or worse . . . dead."
"She is right, you know." Palmer looked nervous. "We have no idea if a rescue team is coming any time soon. We can't sit around and do nothing."
"Yes, we can," Ducky said firmly. "There will be no rescue attempts, no foolish acts of bravery. I would like us to remain alive to be rescued."
"Well, I disagree," Abby replied defiantly. "I think we should try and free the hostages."
"This is not a film, Abigail." Ducky gave her what passed as a glare from the medical examiner. "We do not rush in heroically and save the day. If something goes wrong, there is no second take."
"But it's Gibbs." Abby looked to be on the verge of tears. "Don't you get it? This is our place, our home, and it's been overrun with bad men and guns. We're meant to feel safe here. We investigate the crimes; we're not supposed to become one!"
"Abby, I understand . . ." Ducky rubbed his temples; he was getting a headache.
"No, you don't understand!" Abby yelled. "I just can't . . . let these . . . people take over. I just can't."
"Um," Palmer spoke up with an idea. All eyes zeroed in on him and he gulped. "Um, perhaps we could get access to one of the security cameras in Agent Gibbs' office. Just one, surely we have enough power to do that. Then we could see what's going on and take it from there."
Abby glanced at Ducky. "A teeny little look wouldn't hurt."
Ducky finally relented and nodded. "But no theatrics, Abigail."
"Of course not." Abby grinned and turned back to the computer.
She entered a few commands and pressed a complicated pattern of keys before crowing in triumphant. "And we're in!"
The others clustered around the computer desk and the screen crackled to life. It wasn't the best angle, but it gave them a clear enough view of the bullpen and . . .
Abby swore. Violently.
The remaining employees lined the edges of Gibbs' team's office. Their hands were positioned on the backs of their heads, but that wasn't what had caught their attention. Lying in the middle was an agent, though the autopsy inhabitants couldn't identify him properly, clearly dead.
Again that wasn't what caught their attention. A man, a terrorist, stood in the entrance to the bullpen. At his feet lay another agent . . . Tony. He'd been shot, that much was obvious, but he was writhing in pain so thankfully he was still alive.
Abby gasped and covered her mouth, tears forming in the corner of her eyes. They could see that Gibbs was itching to go to Tony's side, but the terrorist in the bullpen doorway held a gun to a women from Legal, stopping all attempts at getting to Tony.
"Tell me they don't need rescuing now!" Abby exclaimed tearfully, glaring at Ducky. "One man's already dead and Tony's dying! And what about that poor woman? They need our help."
She could tell Ducky was relenting. Abby could see the tense creases on Ducky's face as he tried to assess Tony from the little grainy picture on the screen. So Abby tried one final push.
"No one's coming, Ducky," she finished softly. "Don't you think they would have by now? It's been hours. We need to do something to end it and get Harry and Tony medical attention."
"Abby's right," Palmer agreed. "Although I'm terrified just thinking about it, she's right. We can't sit back and do nothing. This could go on for days. What if the bad guys start shooting hostages, what then? I don't want to see that happen."
"Harry?" Abby asked.
"We-ell," Harry started hesitantly, "I am a man of action but it's pretty risky. No offense, but you guys are hardly trained agents. A scientist, two medical officers and a wounded security guard . . . it's not who I'd choose to stage a rescue."
"I wouldn't choose us either," Abby pointed out. "But we have to choose us; there's no one else."
"Okay," Ducky said finally, holding up a hand to stall all other conversation. "Say we went along with this, hypothetically, how would we do it?"
That threw Abby, who hadn't actually thought about the logistics beyond actually staging a rescue.
"Well, we have guns?" Palmer shrugged.
"Do any of you actually know how to fire a gun?" Harry asked.
Abby and Ducky raised their hands, but Palmer shook his head.
"But I've never actually fired one with the intention of hurting someone." Abby bit her lip nervously. "I don't know if I could."
"So if guns are out," Harry theorised, "what else do we have?"
"We have a computer," Palmer pointed out.
"And what could we do with a computer?" Harry challenged.
"Um . . . " Palmer had no idea.
"There is my medical equipment," Ducky offered, "but I'm not sure how it could be of help. And we have receiving –"
"Actually," Abby cut in, "we don't." She shrugged apologetically. "We could, theoretically, get into receiving from this side, but the other side is controlled mechanically. I don't think the Powers That Be would have designated it important enough to divert power to."
"Okay," Ducky amended, "no receiving."
"I wasn't finished," Abby cut in, slightly annoyed. "Even though we can't use receiving, it gave me an idea." She paused and gazed intently at the three men. "Remember the old fire exits on each floor? We don't use them anymore because they've been upgraded, but they're still there. There's one near Gibbs' bullpen."
"And they could use that!" Palmer finished excitedly.
"Exactly!" Abby exclaimed. "It leads to the outside and it's all operated manually so it would still work."
"But how," Harry pointed out, "are they going to get around the terrorists?" He ignored Ducky's "no terrorist" rule. "They could gun them down before they even reach the end of the bullpen."
"A diversion!" Palmer yelled and then lowered his voice when he got three strange looks. "Sorry. But like they do in the movies. A diversion."
"Yeah." Abby nodded rapidly. "To distract them and give Gibbs time to get out. I like it!"
"Abby," Ducky sighed, "what, pray tell, do you think you're going to use as a distraction? We are, as you said, not exactly rolling in materials."
"Smoke," Palmer suggested. "I saw it in a movie once. Or maybe it was a TV show. But anyway, they used smoke bombs to distract the bad guys."
"We don't have smoke bombs, Palmer," Abby told him. "But . . ." Her face lit up. ". . . I could probably mix something together that would resemble a smoke bomb." Abby frowned. "I'd have to go back to my lab, though."
Ducky shook his head. "I'm not sure if that's a good idea, Abigail. We want to distract them, not kill them."
Abby pouted. "Do you not have any faith in my chemistry abilities?"
"I trust your abilities completely, Abby. There are just too many variables with something like that. I do not know if we should risk it."
"So what do you suggest?" Abby snapped. "I can do it, you know. I know I can."
"I know you can too," Ducky said wisely. "But if we must, we can use it as a last resort."
"What about sirens?" Harry suggested. "The fire alarms, the sprinkler system, that kind of thing. If we could divert power to them from something else, that might give us the advantage we need."
"But it's not enough," Abby mused. "Even if it distracts them for a little while, they can still fire." She glanced at Ducky. "But if we added Jimmy's smoke idea, that would mean we could cut their sight and their hearing. It might be enough to let Gibbs and the others get away."
"And how are they going to know what to do?" Ducky played Devil's advocate, trying to pick out every point where something could go wrong. "If we spring loud noises and smoke on them, how are we to know they won't panic?"
There was silence as they mulled this over, but then Abby had an idea.
"Look." She pointed to the computer screen. "McGee can see that computer in the bullpen, right. The terrorists aren't focused on him or the computers. I saw it in a movie once. I could hack that computer in the bullpen and type Tim a message. He could pass it on so they were ready when it happened." Abby grinned. "It's practically perfect."
"Until one of the terrorists sees it," Harry pointed out.
Abby shrugged. "They won't see it then."
"I don't know, Abby." Ducky still looked unsure. "It sounds as though it's a plan from a poorly scripted film."
"What else do we have, Ducky?" Abby said desperately. "It's the best we've got. It's all or nothing. Look at Tony. How much longer do you think he's going to last?"
Finally Ducky nodded. "Okay. But we have to think this through carefully."
"Of course," Abby replied solemnly.
"Well, first we have to make this smoke of Ms Sciuto's." Harry started to plan their offensive. "And we will need someone to get close enough somehow to set it off." He paused. "How are we going to do that?"
"Air vents?" Abby suggested. "It's just if we're going to go with the whole movie thing here, we might as well go all out. I can put the smoke into little vials that should crack when they hit the ground. Someone can sneak through the air-conditioning and push them out."
"Who?" Harry asked.
All eyes turned to Palmer and he sighed; apparently Black Lung wasn't about to retire just yet. "Fine. I can do it."
"Excellent." Abby grinned and turned back to the computer. "I'm going to close the camera." She couldn't bear to look at it anymore. "And pull up the central heating system to map out a path."
"Why don't I do that?" Harry suggested, leaning heavily on Abby's chair. The bleeding had stopped, but he was getting paler and paler by the second. "You need to get onto that smoke."
"I'll come with you," Ducky volunteered.
When Abby started to protest, Ducky held up his hand to silence her. "Nonsense, Abigail. I am not letting you roam around NCIS unescorted. And besides, I was a dab hand at chemistry in my day. You might need some help."
"And what about me?"
Ducky chuckled. "You, my boy, need to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the heating and cooling of this fine building. We wouldn't want you falling through the roof, now would we?"
"Right," Abby started determinedly once she and Ducky had returned from their science experiment in her lab. She was sitting at Autopsy's computer and was preparing to send a message to McGee and the other captives.
"I've managed to divert enough power to the alarm systems so they go off," Abby told them. "Though MTAC is now unfortunately running on next to nothing and I'm afraid we'll have to be quick or Petty Officer Banks might protest. The smokin' smoke satchels, as I call them, are set to go. Now for the important part . . ."
A blank screen appeared in front of Abby and she started typing out a short and concise message. It was nothing spectacular, nothing fancy, just simple instructions on what to do and what would happen. She finished with a flourish and pushed the chair away from the desk, twirling around on it.
She looked slightly nervous. "I really hope they got the message. I gave them a ten minute head start. It should take Jimmy about five minutes to navigate the ducts, so that gives us five minute until blast off. Everyone know what they're doing? I'm going to activate the alarms in five minutes and watch the camera, hoping things don't go wrong."
Palmer nodded. "I'm to get intimate with the insides of NCIS."
"That's one way of putting it," Abby agreed.
"I shall keep trying to make contact with the outside world," Ducky summarised. "Perhaps in their confusion, whatever those men are using to jam our signals may fail. We will need to alert the proper authorities that some friends shall be emerging from an old fire escape."
Abby smiled at him.
"And I'll try not to die," Harry said dejectedly. It wasn't as though he wanted to die, but the others had refused to allow him to take part in their rescue mission and for that, Harry was practically pouting. He didn't want to be left behind.
"And that's very important," Abby replied seriously before breaking out into a grin. "You need to be around to celebrate our awesome rescue skills.
"I guess." Harry still didn't sound happy, but he didn't complain.
"Right, so . . ." Abby glanced at the computer's clock. "Three minutes to show time. Anyone have any last words of inspiration?"
"Uh . . . I hope we don't kill anyone?" Palmer offered.
"I said inspiring words, Palmer."
"You'll be fine." It was Harry that spoke. "If I were one of them, I'd want you on my team. I couldn't think of a better group of people to rescue me, except for me of course, but I don't hold that against you." He grinned.
"See, Jimmy, those are what inspiring words should sound like," Abby remarked. "Ducky? Any wise words? Doesn't this remind you of a time when . . .?"
"Frankly, Abigail, I'm not sure that it does." Ducky looked amused. "Although, I do remember the time . . ."
Abby grinned brilliantly.
"Let's see what you're made of, Jimmy."
Five minutes had passed and during those five, they had managed to pull off the grate covering the duct. It was just big enough for Palmer to fit through, though he was not looking forward to it.
"Are you alright, Mister Palmer?" Ducky asked.
Palmer nodded, but looked pale and a little shaky. "Oh, you know, all in a day's work."
"That's the spirit, Black Lung," Abby exclaimed cheerfully. "Think about the accolades and recognition you'll get when this is over."
"I'd just like to be alive when it's over," Palmer muttered as he was boosted into the vent by Ducky and with the help of the desk chair.
"Got our smokin' smoke satchels?" Abby asked.
"As if I'd forget them."
"Perfect. Right, time to go, Palmer," Abby announced. "Have fun." She grinned, though her grin was almost nervous.
Palmer grumbled something that they couldn't make out, but took a deep breath and descended into the air vents of the NCIS building.
"He will be okay, right?" Abby asked worriedly when Palmer had disappeared from view. Now that she thought about it, their plan was pretty flimsy to say the least. So many things could go wrong . . . mostly their plan hinged on perfect timing and extraordinary luck.
Abby wished she'd brought a four-leaf clover to work today.
"Mister Palmer will be fine," Ducky assured her. "Now, aren't you meant to be preparing some alarm systems to fail?"
"Yeah," Abby echoed, glancing forlornly at the air duct. She really, really hoped this wasn't about to backfire on them.
"Yeah," she repeated firmly. "This will work."
"That's the spirit!" Ducky replied, almost jovially. He'd come around to the plan much quicker than Abby would have thought.
Abby took a deep breath as she sat down at the computer. This was it; the moment of truth. Make or break. Life or death. It sounded melodramatic, but it was true. Everything rested on the perfect timing of her and Jimmy. She just hoped they could pull it off.
"Here I go."
Wriggling her fingers to stretch them, Abby waited until exactly four and a half minutes had passed since they'd sent Palmer on his way. Then she attacked the keyboard with fury, using up all the auxiliary power to set off the fire alarms and the sprinkler system. Abby set them all for a ten second delay and pulled up the lone camera she had that viewed the bullpen. As much as Abby didn't want to look at the prone body of Anthony DiNozzo, she knew she had to watch.
This was their moment and nothing could go wrong.
Loud sirens screeched and filled the air with their painful pitch. Water started pelting down, soaking everyone to the core. Abby hadn't been able isolate the alarm or sprinkler system to just the second floor squadroom, so at this very moment the entire NCIS building was getting a thorough shower. Dully and distractedly, Abby wondered just how much trouble she might get in for making such a mess.
And then she saw her work of art. Smoke billowed across her camera, making it virtually impossible to see what was happening. She hoped, God she hoped, that Tim was rounding up the troops and getting everyone to safety, especially Tony. Dimly, she heard Ducky's triumphant exclamation as his cell phone managed enough bars to put through a static-y call to Navy Yard security.
The second floor of NCIS was plunged into chaos.
There was nothing more she could do; it was a waiting game now.
Drama on High Land
By Madeleine Rein, Features Writer
Yesterday, the Washington Navy Yard had its worst breach of security in a decade.
Early yesterday morning, six armed terrorists stormed the Naval Criminal Investigative Service headquarters and took several employees hostage. It is unknown why they did so, but it is possible that it is linked to the recent rumour of stolen state secrets.
Armed with machine guns, the terrorists took fifteen people hostage. Director Leon Vance of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said in his statement to the press that it was lucky it was a Sunday; the slowest day of NCIS's week.
"Otherwise there might be many other families tonight without their loved ones at home," he said.
Veteran Special Agent Kevin Sands, 46, was the only fatality of the siege. It is not known how or why he died, but his family has asked for their privacy during this difficult time and NCIS has not released any other details. Other injuries included Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo with a serious gunshot to the thigh but who is in a stable condition, and security guard Harry Layne who was shot in the stomach and is expected to make a full recovery.
The most interesting aspect of this saga, though, is not the injured or the deceased, but how a rescue was staged. Prevented from directly entering the building, Navy Yard personnel and Metro police were at an impasse until the hostages started pouring out of a disused fire escape. Once the story of their courageous triumphant against the terrorists was told, it was clear that there were four heroes of the day; none of them trained Special Agents.
Forensic Specialist Abigail Sciuto, along with Medical Examiner Doctor Donald Mallard, his assistant James Palmer and shot security guard Harry Layne orchestrated a daring rescue attempt amid a Yard-wide blackout. Although details are sketchy, the rescue was pulled off successfully with no further fatalities.
"We are extremely proud of our employees," Director Vance commented in his press statement. "They showed fierce determination, creativity and logic during an otherwise terrifying situation. Be assured that these employees will receive the accolades they deserve."
While all four heroes declined to make a comment, it is clear from their colleagues that they will be forever grateful to their support staff for mounting such a daring rescue in such difficult circumstances.
One thing's for certain, we can be glad that people like them are protecting us from the dangers we face.
We salute you.