Pirates, Traitors and Goats, Oh My!
Day One: On the Assault Craft
From the episode:
Tim: "So, pirates that weren't really pirates, who were actually Russian sailors, were on a covert mission to steal a Navy research ship that wasn't actually a Navy research ship in order to get back nuclear weapons that we thought they didn't think we had retrieved?"
Gibbs replies ... and the Navy fires on Chimera, destroying it.
Ziva: "How did the Navy know we were off the ship?"
Gibbs: "Don't think they did."
Gibbs felt, rather than saw the horrified looks from his younger teammates and gave one of his trademark smirks, hiding his worry from them. Ducky would know his concerns but unless someone else brought them up, best to stay quiet for now. He concentrated on the ocean around him as he piloted the liberated assault craft on a westerly course through the heavy seas. He spotted the ship's radio and made a mental note to try it later. There was no time now, they were going to have to just tough out the next few minutes.
"Brace yourselves. Shock waves any time now."
He was none too soon with his warning; the small craft dipped and swayed and nearly spun as it was battered by the first of the turbulent waters generated by the destruction of the Chimera. Behind him, he could hear Ducky speaking calmly to his unfortunate junior agent who was heaving over the side. Gibbs fought to keep the boat from capsizing as the turbulence turned to a thankfully brief maelstrom. At some point DiNozzo made his way to his side and they continued the struggle together. After what seemed like hours, the ocean gradually calmed, completing its tantrum over the destruction and having absorbed the wreckage of the Chimera.
"All clear. We can breathe for a little bit now. Has anyone tried their cell phones?"
Tim replied groggily, "No signal, Boss, don't know if we're too far in international waters or some other reason."
"Fix it, McGee. Duck, how is he?"
"He's becoming dehydrated, Jethro, the patch he's wearing is past its time limit and the others that we brought were destroyed in the shock waves, they're too soaked to be effective. I hope your plan is to reach help or get us to dry land?"
"He won't get accustomed to being on the water?"
"NO, Jethro, it's an inner ear problem caused by …" Ducky paused and looked at Tim, who gave a slight shake of his head, "well, caused by an accident as a child. There is no cure or getting over it!"
Tim opened his mouth to speak but the glare from Gibbs stopped him. Defeated, he slumped back on the deck. Gibbs quietly gave the wheel to DiNozzo, "DiNozzo, maintain course, keep her steady. David, there should be navigational maps, look below, we need to figure out where we are and how to get home."
Working his way aft toward McGee, the Team Leader regretted his earlier question, knowing Tim would now assume he would be blamed for any problems that could in any way be seen to be caused by his seasickness. Gibbs made a mental note to make sure DiNozzo understood the topic was off limits for teasing or pranks. There was no room for that on this boat anyway.
Reaching the end of the bench, Gibbs sat, carefully looking over his miserable agent. Reaching out, he gave him a supportive tap on his shoulder. He figured a headslap would make things worse at this point, not to mention Ducky was watching them very closely. And a hug was definitely out of the picture, even if it was on his mind.
"Ok, we need a plan. Cell phones fixable, Tim?"
Tim's eyes widened as his first name was invoked. That was not good but he knew better than to give his boss anything less than the truth.
"No Boss. Only chances I can see are if we try again at night; if we happen to be within reach of a satellite, it's possible. Or if we get close enough to a shipping lane or land. It would help to know where we are, of course."
"Ok, good job with the assessment McGee." Seeing the young man had more to say, Gibbs signaled him to continue.
"If we're in danger from whoever launched this boat, Boss, we need to disable the GPS in all the electronic equipment immediately. And the phones need to be turned off, the batteries removed to save what charges we have left. Unless there is some sort of charger on this boat, we have no way to recharge them. In case we can use them somehow."
DiNozzo spoke up, "You don't have a charger on you, Probie?"
"Not this time, Tony; Ducky, do you..." turning, the junior agent saw a smile on their doctor's face, "I have one, Timothy, Mr. Palmer and I each added one to our go bags last time we were unexpectedly overnight at a crime scene."
"Great, Ducky, then as long as we have power in the boat, we can charge the phones. But seriously, Boss, disabling GPS has to happen now."
"Good point, Tim. You're in charge of that, get everyone's cells and do what you need to." Gibbs paused. "Why don't you leave your phone intact for now, without the GPS, until you try the night-satellite-thingy. Mitas," Gibbs turned to the ship's cook, still huddling aft, "do you have a cell or anything electronic on you?"
The young man, who had been quiet since they escaped from the ship, reached into his pocket, pulled out a cell and handed it to Gibbs, who passed it to McGee. Tim took it, disabled the GPS, then removed the battery and looked around the deck for a likely storage spot. Finding nothing, he put both phone and battery in his pocket for the time being.
After the cell phone discussion, Ducky had disappeared below to help Ziva. Both now appeared, Ziva with maps and notebooks, Ducky with bottles of water, and packets of cheese and crackers, which he passed to each of them. He also tossed Tim a waterproof padded zippered bag, large enough to hold the phones and batteries. From Tim's sitting position against the railing, he gave the doctor a small salute.
"There's quite of lot of "stuff" below, Jethro, some of it might be helpful. If no one currently needs my services, I think I shall take an inventory. Perhaps Mitas could assist."
Gibbs nodded at his good friend. The inventory was an excellent idea and involving Mitas even better. The man had been attacked, knocked unconscious, accused of treason, and then rushed to the attack craft when they escaped. He likely needed to do something mundane to release some of the stress of the day. Letting him spend some time getting to know Ducky was also a good plan. Who knew how long they would be stuck out here… he shook his head to dispel that disquieting thought.
After checking with DiNozzo, he played with the radio then noticed it was not the usual device seen on ships. This had one channel only; Gibbs thought it probably linked directly to whatever ship had launched this one. Since he and his team had the Soviet nuclear warhead the Russian assault team had been looking for, he did not want to be found by their superiors. Motioning to Ziva, they both took a long look at the radio and soon got Tim involved. He located the GPS chip and disabled it, as he'd done all the others, knowing it was sadly unlikely that their own people were looking for them. Gibbs breathed a little easier once that was accomplished, he asked Tim to disable the radio even further so that the lead ship would assume the craft lost at sea rather than stolen.
Gibbs took the maps and notebooks from Ziva and sat down at the table mid-ship, motioning for Ziva and Tim to join him. Positioned where they were, Tony could still hear them and contribute to the discussion. The first thing on the agenda was finding their position on the planet, followed closely by estimating how much fuel was left in the boat. Once again, his team came through with the information, pooling what they had to make as complete a picture as they could. Ziva had questioned Mitas earlier about his knowledge of the ship's location. He didn't know much, the crew had been flown out just as they had, but what little he did know helped. Ziva's years in Mossad with operations in many different countries, gave her some knowledge of where the Soviet warhead was likely placed decades ago. Tim knew how long they had been in the air from Anacostia; they put their heads together to estimate the miles flown and along with the bits from Mitas and some gut feelings from Gibbs, they were able to come up with a reasonable assumption. They'd know better once the stars were visible; Tim and Gibbs were both astronomy buffs and figured they'd be able to confirm their location after dark.
Emerging once again from the lower deck, Ducky held a box of ginger cookies for Tim, hoping they might help to settle his stomach. Once the turbulence had passed, Tim brought out his "experimental" aids in combating his seasickness: a ginger root supplement and wristbands, called sea bands*. He had not had a chance to try them while on the Chimera, now he was praying they would work. Slipping the bands on and swallowing the supplement with the rest of the bottle of water, he got to work on figuring out how much fuel they had left in the boat. They'd found the manual for the craft, luckily written in both Russian and French. With Ziva translating, they found the number of gallons for the boat's fuel capacity and estimated nautical miles per gallon. Once they had that, Tim and Tony worked together to determine how many miles the craft had likely already traveled and how much further it could go. That number, which they checked 3 times before they ran it by the others, was rather alarming. As soon as they came to an agreement on the estimate, they went back to the maps to find any piece of land or rock big enough to temporarily house them. Although they saw a few likely spots, it did them little good, except for reassurance that there were spots of rock or land out there, until they knew for sure where they were.
In the meantime, the long day drew to a close as the sun dipped beyond the horizon, verifying, as Tony laughingly pointed out, that they had been correct about which way was west. That crack, meant to ease the tension, did so with a few chuckles and the expected headslap, albeit a light one, for DiNozzo.
While they waited for the stars to be visible, Ziva, Mitas and Ducky reported on the inventory they'd discovered. First of all, Ducky presented Gibbs with an old-fashioned sextant which they both knew how to use, along with a few other old fashioned navigational aids. There were enough canned food items to last them a few weeks if they were careful, providing vegetables, fruit and some protein. Mitas had found a huge box of potatoes, making them wonder if the Russian crew had planned to make their own vodka or perhaps they were just very fond of potatoes.
There was even a decent supply of coffee, much to the relief of the team. Mitas looked puzzled at the sighs of relief but didn't comment. There was a small refrigerator housing a package of still frozen meat, a large carton of eggs, several bottles of beer and a few vegetables. In the tiny freezer compartment, they discovered a frozen bottle of vodka, which Ducky claimed for medicinal purposes. They decided the crew had probably planned to celebrate their successful reclamation of the nuclear warhead with the meat, potatoes, beer and probably the vodka.
Other items included: an extensive first aid kit, which Ducky also commandeered; kitchen items, the grill from a barbecue, but no barbecue, a stack of thin mattresses and blankets they conjectured were meant for the bunks in the compartment below, decks of cards, poker chips, several items of men's clothing including cold weather gear, a bit of rope, a sewing kit, some paperback books, printed in Russian; fishing line and hooks. The item saved for last brought a laugh to them all; oddly enough, it appeared to be a shopping bag with various items still in their original packaging, complete with receipts. Ziva claimed that one for herself.
All of the humorous conjecture about those items stopped when Mitas revealed they had also found diving gear for four people, including spear guns and fully loaded oxygen tanks. Lastly, much to Gibbs' delight, Mitas handed over a toolbox full of Gibbs' favorite things: hammer, screwdrivers, small pry bar, folding saw, plus various fasteners. Given the items found, they surmised this craft had been used in a variety of ways, from assault to possible training missions to long term surveillance as well as simple transportation from ship to shore and judging from that shopping bag, tourism.
Now that the sky was dark enough for the countless stars to be visible, Tim and Gibbs stretched out on the deck to locate constellations, compare notes and with any luck confirm their location in the world. As some of the team had gone below to sleep in the bunks, they kept their voices low, calling out each constellation as they spotted it.
Once they had their information, Gibbs used the sextant as a final confirmation. As he was doing that, he realized that Tim was no longer exhibiting any sign of seasickness. Making a mental note to check with his agent about this when they had a chance, he finished his work, finding that all their various calculations had been very close to true.
Now they knew where they were, nowhere near home, any large land mass or shipping lanes. This made sense since the Chimera had been on a secret mission and the original drop of the warhead would have been in a scarcely traveled area although still within the range capability of that era missile's target, the United States. They could use the navigational charts to find a suitable temporary home before they ran out of fuel, and had to row their way home; yes they had found aluminum oars! Gibbs was secretly amused by the irony of them pirating such a well-provisioned boat. He wondered if the Russian crew they had stranded on the Chimera had been its regular crew and if they had just learned to store anything they might want on the assault craft.
Once they finished, Gibbs relieved DiNozzo at the helm and the Senior Field Agent headed below deck. A few minutes later, Ziva returned topside, having decided to spend the night on deck. She dragged a mattress and blanket with her; eying them, Tim thought that looked pretty good, and disappeared below only to reappear with his own mattress and blanket – and a cup of coffee for Gibbs, compliments of Ducky. As Tim handed the mug to his boss, Gibbs pulled him back, "Hang on, Tim, you feeling better now? You haven't been sick in hours and you're up and around."
Tim gave him a quiet and relieved smile, "Yeah Boss. You know the regular medication just wasn't working for me, so I did a little more research online recently and found that ginger root helps defeat seasickness. I also found a product called 'sea bands'," he pointed to the wrist bands, "which are acupressure bands that fit around the wrist just like a sweat band, with a pressure stud sewn inside. I didn't have a chance to use the ginger or the wrist bands before this afternoon, but they're really working well, I'm barely noticing the motion of the ship and the waves."
Gibbs grinned, "That's great, kiddo. For a little while today I was afraid we were going to lose you."
Tim gave him a look, "I know you're teasing, Boss, but if these hadn't worked I would have been in a pretty bad place by now. "
His boss nodded, "I know; Ducky made that very clear to me. Grateful that didn't happen – and you found the solution yourself, good job Tim!"
"Boss, there's something else. Ducky didn't want to break a confidence and I didn't really want to talk about it with everyone, but my own number one rule is not to lie to you, so I need to correct what he said earlier on my behalf. It's…my inner ear problem Boss; it wasn't caused by an accident."
Gibbs frowned, "What happened Tim?"
Tim took a deep breath, "My father hit me; punched me in the head when I was 4 years old. Asked him to help me make a birthday card for my mother and he hammered me. Punctured an eardrum. Luckily I didn't suffer any hearing loss, but any thought of following the McGee tradition of being a Naval Officer was ruined that day."
Gibbs tried to appear calm and not as horrified as he felt. "Tim, that's awful. Was that the only time he hit you?"
McGee shook his head, "No Boss, it wasn't the only time but it was the last time. My grandmother Penny raised me after that and I was a "Navy brat" with my step-grandfather and her. For years, I only returned to my parents' home for visits when my father was away. After Sarah was born, I asked to move home again; my father and I co-existed after that. We just didn't speak. That's a major reason I worked so hard to finish high school as early as I did and went off to college; I couldn't wait to leave my father's house. When I left for college, I became an emancipated minor."
Gibbs jaw nearly dropped."You were on your own at 16?"
Gibbs put his coffee down and leaving one hand on the helm, put his hand on Tim's shoulder.
"And you earned scholarships for both universities. You did a good job raising yourself, kiddo. You have a lot to be proud of."
"Have my grandmother to thank for raising me, Boss. She made sure I was well rounded in my interests and that I always knew I was loved. Made sure I had plenty of contact with other kids, did some sports, even when I only wanted to work on the computer or read books. That's why I got into scouting, baseball and astronomy; she pushed me to develop other interests. After I moved back with my parents, Penny, Grandpa Nelson and I spoke nearly every day. It was the same thing after I was emancipated and in college; in fact she was the one who sponsored me for the emancipation."
"Like to meet her some day, Tim. Sounds like a good woman."
Tim smiled shyly. "Yeah she is, Boss, the best. I just hope we're not out here too long, I hate to worry her."
"You still talk with her a lot?"
"At least once a week Boss, even if it's just to say we're camped out at work on a case and I can't talk. My grandfather's gone now and Penny is kicking up her heels all over the world, but still we manage."
"We'll get home, Tim, might not be tomorrow, but we'll get home. "
"I know we will, Boss, I trust you and have faith that between all of us, we'll figure out a way!"
"That's good, kiddo. Now go get some sleep. Going to stay up on deck?" At the nod from his junior agent, Gibbs continued, "Don't be watching the stars all night. Now that you're an able seaman, I'll give you some piloting lessons so you can spell Tony and me at the helm. You can do nights and use the stars to navigate. And make sure you make yourself as secure as possible on deck, McGee, case we run into any rough weather."
"Aye Aye Boss!" McGee chuckled as his cheeky remark earned him a soft headslap.
Tim found that Ziva had folded the table to the railing and secured it. She had then fastened her mattress to the cleats imbedded in the deck, hidden under the table when it was in use. He followed her example, securing his mattress and laying down, bunched his jacket up for a pillow and relaxed, watching the thousands of stars visible in the velvety black sky. As Gibbs had ordered, he'd kept his phone intact in his pocket and now he took it out, turned it on and scanned the night skies, hoping to link to a satellite. After doing several careful passes over a period of time, he turned the phone off, removed the battery and tucked both safely away. He would try again the next night. Through his peripheral vision, he could see Gibbs at the ship's wheel, keeping their course steady. Feeling safe with his boss watching over them all, Tim finally gave into sleep.
A/N: Credit for the idea of using ginger root and seabands to combat seasickness goes to Smartkid37, who introduced them in a wonderful story of hers unfortunately not posted on this site.