Thank you all, for reading, reviewing, PM-ing, and marking this story as a favourite and for alerts.
It has been a while since I have written and it feels really good to be doing so now. This story is developing of its account and will likely keep your emotions running high…
Enjoy and review please . Thank you.
The inside of the container was dark. The stench was stifling, foul with human waste and rotting flesh. But it was the gasps and sobs of more than a dozen young, terrified, half naked girls that made the team jump into action.
"McGee, call for the EMT's. DiNozzo, Ziva…" Gibbs said.
"We'll get blankets and water," DiNozzo stated.
"And notify immigration." Ziva said.
"Mr. Palmer, my bag please." Ducky ordered standing at the mouth of the container.
Ashika wavered as she stepped into the container.
"Hey, you ok?" Gibbs' asked his hand on her elbow.
"No…" She whispered. "No, … I mean yes. We need to help them." She said as she and Gibbs moved closer to the girls who were crouched together sobbing and using their arms to cover their nakedness.
"How did you know?" Gibbs asked.
Ashika ignored his question, "We need to get them out of this hell hole."
"Sana," Gibbs increased the pressure on her elbow just long enough for her to stop and glance at him. "You will tell me, everything."
She gave him a curt nod before turning back to the girls.
"Sub…" Ashika started speaking in Hindi. "Sub kuch teek he. Everything is going to be alright."
Gibbs watched as the girls sobbed louder in recognition of their mother tongue.
"Chalo, aap sub rakshak he." Ashika reached forward to help the girls to their feet, one at a time. "Come forward, you are all safe now."
When Gibbs reached out to assist the girls, they flinched and tried to pull away.
"Yeh Gibbs Saab he. Yeh forgi he. Yeh aap ko madid karenge. Aur woh joh baahar he, be forgi he. Aap sub rakshak he. Agent Gibbs is with the Navy. He's here to help you. Those people outside are also with the Navy. You are all safe now." The women hesitated, until Ashika took Gibbs' hand and placed hers into it. Then she closed his palm over hers and showed the girls that it was safe. Gibbs found her hands to be warm and a bit rough, but he kept his focus on the girls.
The first girl stepped forward and Ashika took her hand and placed it into Gibbs'. He held he gently and walked her to the edge of the container where DiNozzo, McGee and Palmer were waiting to help them out.
As per Ducky's orders and Ashika's translations, the girls kept their light sensitive eyes closed. Ziva wrapped the girls into blankets and when they ran out, she collected the team's NCIS jackets and covered the girls.
Ashika was still speaking calmly in Hindi to the girls once they were all outside and seated on the floor, their legs too weak to hold them up. They were skinny, their skin ashen, their lips cracked and their bodies dirt smeared. They were thirsty and tried to grab the bottled water the team gave them.
"They should take small sips." Ducky warned as the EMTs arrived. The Port Authorities and local Police arrived then too. The girls became skittish and Ashika quickly explained what was happening. They insisted that she stay with them.
She did, but her eyes returned to the container. Gibbs and DiNozzo were inside it, kneeling to examine the two dead bodies lying at the back. Ashika closed her eyes as memories assailed her.
"Boss, how did Sana know there were women in this container?" DiNozzo asked.
"Don't know, but I intend to find out."
"Poor girl, she's pretty messed up." DiNozzo stated as he looked around the container with Gibbs. "Her stockings are ruined and that skirt suit will never be the same again. And she took a pretty bad blow the head. I was surprised she managed to hold onto the truck and pull the driver out. And then the way she straddled…."
"DiNozzo." Gibbs slapped the back of his head sharply.
"Boss, sorry." DiNozzo said. "I'll get the container moved to the navy yard and the driver waiting in interrogation for you."
At that moment Ducky entered the container. "Oh dear, what a terrible end for those so young and innocent."
"What can you tell me, Duck?"
"They're all aged between 11 and 15, of central India origin based on the dialect of Hindi they speak. They have been trapped in this container for three and a half weeks. Can you imagine the horror of it? And then to have your friends die and decompose and you have no escape. This is the worst kind of horror any human being can suffer. They will likely never overcome this trauma, Jethro."
"I guess not Duck. What killed these two?" Gibbs asked looking at the dead girls.
"They're very young. They could have died of starvation, trauma, shock or a host of other possibilities but I will need to get them back to autopsy to give you more than that. "
"Do we know when they died?"
"About 10 days ago, according to the other girls." Ashika's said as she stepped into the container.
"My dear, did you let the EMT take a look at your head?" Duck asked.
"I'm alright Dr Mallard." She said, pressing a hand to her head and negating her words.
"Please call me Ducky."
"Get yourself checked out." Gibbs ordered.
"No." Ashika said.
"Are you going or am I going to have to take you?" Gibbs' face broached no argument.
"Oh, okay, in a moment. They're just getting the last two girls into the ambulance now."
Ducky looked from Gibbs to Sana. There was something about the two that he could definitely sense but not name. Instead he said, "Agent Sana, I am rather impressed by how you were able to gain the trust of those young ladies out there. I would have to guess that you have had some experience with trauma counseling."
"Yes, Ducky... Please call me … call me … Ash or… Ashi … ka." Ashika looked from Ducky to the two dead girls. "I worked with … NCIS Psych team … in … in Mumbai for … while … guess I've gained … skills as a … a result." Ashika's eyes were fixed on the two dead girls.
So young, so fragile, lost forever. She swayed on her feet. Her head felt heavy and sudden pain short through, stinging her eyes and making her see black spots.
"Sana," Gibbs stepping up to her.
She looked at him her eyes blank, her breathe shallow.
"Sana?" Gibbs repeated his hand on her shoulder.
Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she fell forward against his chest.
Gibbs swore as he gathered her up in his arms. Ducky followed him out of the container, concern lining his face. Gibbs laid her on the ground and Ducky proceeded to examine her. The rest of the team gathered around them.
"What happened?" Ziva kneeled next to Ashika.
"Is she going to be okay, Ducky?" McGee asked.
"Her blood pressure's very low and she breathing shallow. She could have sustained a concussion as a result of the blow to the head. I think we should get her to the ER post haste, Jethro."
"McGee, lock down the scene. Then get me everything you can find on that driver and the dead officer. Ziva, find a connection and trace the movements of this container. I want the bastards who did this found." Gibbs stated as he lifted Ashika into his arms and he and Ducky headed for his car.
Damn it Sana. I told you to get checked out. What the hell's your connection to this case? How did you know those women were in that container? What are you hiding?
Gibbs was irritated at Sana and worried about her. She intrigued him and annoyed him. She was a mystery and he didn't like surprises.
He would get the truth out of her. Hell no one was allowed to keep secrets on his team.