Gibbs looked at his team through the steam of his coffee. While he didn't quite agree with the decision, he could understand why SecNav had given the order. Ziva David just wasn't meshing quite as well, or quickly, as she should be. Not that it was totally her fault; there was a lot of resentment on the NCIS side of this equation, too. Kate hadn't exactly left them willingly, although his guys didn't know it. Even Abby didn't know how hard Kate had fought to stay with the team after Ari Haswari's failed assassination attempt. It seemed both SecNav and Jen Shepard had other plans for her, though. At least she'd gone to the Agency and not the FBI. Fornell had been itching to get her profiling skills on his own team since Jethro had beat him to the punch after the Secret Service so unwisely allowed her to cut ties.
"Let's get a move on; stow your gear and get in the car. Don't even think about it, DiNozzo. I'm driving." His words were curt as he moved to the driver's seat. It was far too early to suffer through Tony's driving, and he wasn't quite sure there would ever be a time he was prepared for David's.
With minimal chatter, the rest of the team tossed their duffels in the trunk and settled into the dark sedan. Gibbs glanced over at Ziva as she claimed the passenger seat. Seems she and Tony would have a lot more to work out, as his senior field agent grumbled before settling next to Tim McGee in the back seat. It should've been Kate sitting there.
Kate Todd inhaled the rich aroma of her coffee while waiting for the rest of her team to get settled. They were riding together to Station One since it made more sense to travel as a unit. Conserving gasoline was the newest trend, and the Agency had eagerly jumped onto the bandwagon. Anything to cut costs it seemed but at least they were taking her car. The Agency sedan she'd used during her most recent stakeout had smelled like a cross between a locker room and DiNozzo's socks. It didn't take long before they were pulling out of the parking garage, headed for the training camp located an hour away.
"So, Meyers, who's the opposing team?" Stifling a yawn, the athletic brunette glanced over at her team-mate. This would be an interesting experiment for the Agency trained trio with her as they were far more used to operating solo. Both from her days with the Secret Service and while with NCIS, she had learned to move as part of a cohesive whole and still found it odd to being alone. She was very used to depending on a partner. That's the difference between being a cop and hiding in the shadows as a spy, she mused.
"Dunno... Desmond didn't feel the need to share. You know how she is about her secrets, she seems to believe sharing intel might actually hinder us in our job." The blond man grumbled from the passenger seat. He was apparently a very firm believer that the sun didn't rise before noon.
Taking her eyes off the road for a moment, Kate observed Meyers debate the merits of stealing her coffee. "Don't even consider it, Meyers. They'll still be telling stories about your pain when my grandchildren are running the world."
Generous to a fault in many ways, there were simply some things she refused to ever share. Coffee was one of them, unless a certain grumpy Marine was involved... not that Gibbs had ever given her a choice. Meyers slumped over and pretended to doze while Ross and Sherman took catnaps in the backseat. A small smile crossed Kate's face. He had a long way to go before he would ever reach Tony's level of irritating habits. The fact his face was so easy to read was rather surprising though, how on earth did he manage in the field? Even McGee had a better poker face!
A short while later, Gibbs pulled up to the gate for Station One directly behind a dark green SUV. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited for the people in front of them to flash ID and go through the security check point. From the corner of his eye, he watched as Ziva quickly began casing the place. She interested him, although he still wasn't very pleased to have her on his team. He didn't trust her, that was the bottom line. Regardless the fact Jenny Shepard had brought her along, Ziva David was a completely unknown factor and he didn't like it. She made his gut twitch. There were far too many secrets hidden in her alien gaze and lies tripped too easily off her Israeli tongue. He would get to the bottom of it, no doubt in his mind... but he still didn't like it.
The SUV was waved through and Gibbs was showing his badge to the Marine on duty. "Agents Gibbs, DiNozzo, McGee, and Officer David reporting for war games."
"Welcome to Station One, Agent Gibbs. Just follow Director Stetson's SUV and she'll show you where to park."
"Sarge." Gibbs merely inclined his head to the guard at the gate. As a former guardian himself, he knew what it was like to stand over the gates. At least it wasn't snowing.
Following the SUV, Gibbs trailed the director down a long winding road through deep woods. He'd not been here for a long time, actually not since his probie days with Mike Franks. Didn't look like it'd changed much, though. Glancing into the rearview mirror, he watched as McGee typed something into his laptop. Probably one of those crazy games he was always playing. Next to him, DiNozzo feigned sleep while actually taking in the side lanes which angled off into the trees. Gibbs nodded to himself with satisfaction, although he'd not tell Tony he was pleased.
DiNozzo had come a long way in the three years they'd worked together. He was still cocky and arrogant as hell, but his mind was always working. Gibbs had made a wise choice in selecting him, just as he had McGee and his missing profiler. Thoughts of Kate turned the faint smile into a deep frown. When this little exercise was done, he was going to make an appointment to discuss Agent Todd's deployment to the Agency. He'd trained her to be a good cop, and had finally managed to smooth down all the edges left from her days in the Secret Service. It wasn't right for the Agency to be benefiting from his careful planning. At least he didn't have to worry about that bozo, Stetson, though. Granted the man had been at the Justice Department for almost 10 years now, but that didn't change the fact he still stuck his nose in over at his former office from time to time.
Come to think of it, wasn't he married to the agent in charge of Station One? Pretty little thing, that Amanda Stetson. She'd still been going by King when he knew her, though. He wondered if she'd even remember him and decided she most likely wouldn't. He'd been one of the many faceless security guards on the 6th floor. He'd seen a lot in that six week tour, and learned even more. Back in the day, Stetson would've given DiNozzo a run for his money. No doubt about it, Tony and the infamous Scarecrow could almost be soul mates they were so much alike. It sure had been a surprise when news finally trickled down to NCIS about Stetson marrying Mrs. King. Apparently no one had seen that one coming, although he definitely had seen the signs. A smile quirked his cheek as he remembered the cookies... and the discussions.
Kate pulled up to the guard shack, her badge already in hand. A pleasant smile on her face, she handed the slim wallet over to the MP. "Good morning, Sergeant. Todd, Meyers, Ross, and Sherman from the Agency. We're to report at 0700."
"Agent Todd, welcome to Station One. NCIS has already arrived. Follow this road a click and do not turn off. You'll find a parking area to the north. Director Stetson should be waiting for you there. We'll radio ahead and let her know you've arrived." Like the Agency bullpen, Station One was also guarded by the Marines.
Kate Todd quit listening after hearing the identity of their opponents in SecNav's little game. Not that it would be Gibbs, of course. His team would be the last one she would expect to be in need of this exercise. Nodding vaguely to the sergeant's words, she pulled through the gate and drove down the lane. Almost on autopilot, she remembered the impromptu war sessions her former boss had imposed on his team. As a Marine – he'd told her on more than one occasion there was no such thing as a 'former' Marine – he'd been grueling in the training exercises he put them through. She'd barely made it a few times, and had 'died' more than once. God, she missed him!
Ross piped up from the back seat, "Over the river and through the woods..."
Sherman tossed a pen at him. "Can it, Don Ho. Some of us are trying to sleep."
"So, Kate, NCIS, huh? Should be interesting to kill off your former co-workers. Wonder if it's your old team." Meyers arched a playful brow, hoping to get a rise out of his companion. They'd been partnered a few times, but nothing permanent. Chief Desmond seemed to like moving Kate around, and rarely placed her with the same agent for more than two assignments in a row.
"You better hope not, Meyers. If it's Gibbs, I can tell you now, all of you are going to die. He used to be a sniper, and Tony was an undercover cop in Baltimore. Then there's McGee; there isn't a computer yet he can't hack." Smoothly pulling into the lot, Kate parked beside a green SUV. A dark sedan sat on the other side, the occupants having already disappeared. This was it, the moment of truth. She'd find out which of her former co-workers she was supposed to capture. For some reason, she was starting to get a very bad feeling about the coming week.
A slim brunette in a pink Georgetown sweatshirt was leaning against the hood of the SUV. The Agency team met her, each holding their own duffel bag. They had all gone through Station One training, but none had met the infamous Mrs. King. She tended to work behind the scenes during the initial training exercises, although Kate hadn't known why until she'd begun working directly under Francine Desmond. Amanda King and her partner, Scarecrow, had been the central players in a large number of Top Secret undercover ops back in the 80s. Even though the majority of their foes were Cold War agents from the former USSR, their names were rather well-known in the Middle East as well. Their exploits were legendary in the counter-intelligence community and still muttered about by the envious.
"Good morning, welcome back to Station One. I'm Director Stetson, nice to meet all of you." The woman's voice was soft and slightly raspy.
Kate extended her hand, "Kate Todd, nice to meet you as well, Director. These are my team mates: John Meyers, Arnold Ross, and Mike Sherman."
The women exchanged smiles, feeling an instant rapport. Although Kate's immediate superior, like the directors of both the training camp and NCIS, was female, there were still far more men than women in many government agencies involved with national security. They shook hands before Amanda turned her attention to the rest of the Agency team.
"You'll be bunking on the west side of camp. Like your opponents, you are assigned three cabins with one being designated for the team leader. You will have access to all of our facilities, should you need them. NCIS is settling in on the east side. As each of you have attended training exercises here in the past, you should have no problems navigating your way around the complex. Both teams will assemble at the commissary in an hour. I'll see you then." The older woman checked her watch before moving off towards her office, leaving the Agency team in the parking lot.
Kate glanced at the men before heading towards their assigned area. She would be staying at Mission Central. Ross and Sherman often worked together so it was likely they would bunk together, leaving Meyers to fend for himself in the third cabin. Again she wondered who the opposing team would be, but decided they were probably from Norfolk. NCIS was a large organization and she'd only gotten to know those stationed with her at the Navy Yard. For that matter, it could even be the new team being set up L.A., before she'd left the Yard there had been rumors of at least one of the agents not playing well with others. Once she met them, she'd have to give McGee a call to pick his brain. While it wasn't a guarantee he'd know them either, he could at least pull up their jackets and tell her something. Winning would depend on intelligence and prowess. It was going to be an interesting week.
Gibbs unpacked quickly, stowing his gear in the compartments neatly. Mission Central consisted of two rooms: a tiny sleeping area and a larger war room complete with a large table, maps on the walls, and a LCD monitor. McGee would have no problem hooking up his gizmos.
McGee and DiNozzo had chosen to share. Ziva had actually offered to room with McGee, to his young agent's discomfort. Tim's flushed cheeks combined with the nervous stammer had amused DiNozzo while the woman had merely stood next to him with an inscrutable look on her golden face. Gibbs shook his head as Abby's words floated in his memory, "...take care of McGee. I don't like the way Ziva looks at him." Maybe there was something going on there after all.
Could be that his team needed a rule refresher. This, however, wasn't the time. They had to be up to the commissary in less than ten minutes, and he'd rather be the first ones there. Training exercise or not, he approached the impending war game as a serious mission. It didn't matter who the opposing team was, they didn't stand a chance.
Amanda settled a different dossier at each chair. She had a feeling this would be an interesting week, and not just because Lee's nemesis was going to be here. The Israeli woman was a wild card, and one she wasn't so certain she was happy about. Most of Ziva David's records were sealed. Mossad might be friendly with the United States, but it didn't mean things couldn't still happen. Maybe Lee would be able to turn something up today; he still had informants out there, even though they had left espionage not long after the Berlin wall had fallen.
She chewed her lip before checking the coffee service. Ah well, if there was one thing she'd learned over the years, it was to always be prepared for the unexpected. Wouldn't it be ironic if the problems originated with the Agency instead? Not that Francine wouldn't eviscerate the troublemaker, but it sure wouldn't be the first time willful independence had reared its contrary head there – Lee Stetson was a prime example of that!
"Coffee, check. Snacks, check. Dossiers, check. Now to just wait for the teams to show up. Amanda, you have to quit talking to yourself. It's now considered a sign of senility!" She laughed at herself as she moved around the room.
"You're far too young to worry about senility, Director Stetson," a voice purred over her left shoulder.
Amanda jumped and spun around, reaching for a gun she'd stopped carrying many years before. Midway through, she started laughing at herself again. "It's been a while since you've been able to do that, big fella. Lee?"
Puzzled, she searched for her husband. It had been his voice which had startled her. She would never mistake it, but where was he? "Lee, where are you? And why are you spying on me? Don't you have enough to do at the office today? Lee?"
Her husband's rich teasing chuckle was the only response she got. It took her a second before she realized he must be sitting at her desk, watching the live feed on the wall screen she'd had installed last year. He'd been as curious as a young cat about her guests last night, she shouldn't be surprised. She wrinkled her pert nose towards one of the hidden cameras while shaking an admonishing finger, "Behave yourself, Stetson, or I'll have your security privileges revoked."
His meek, "Yes, Ma'am," only made her roll expressive brown eyes.
Pouring herself a mug full of the rich caffeine-laden brew on the table, she thoughtfully stirred in sugar and milk while watching to see which team would arrive first. She continued the conversation, knowing he hadn't left the comfort of her desk chair, "I know you've looked over the dossiers. What do you think?"
She could hear him swallow quickly. That certainly explained what happened to the rest of the poppy-seed cake.
"Amanda, I think this will prove to be an interesting and entertaining week. This is the first time we've had a Mossad officer stationed on home soil, in one of our own outfits. David's file has more black-outs than the rest with the sole exception of Gibbs." His voice turned sour at the mention of one LeRoy Jethro Gibbs.
Before she had a chance to reply, the stairs leading to the door creaked under the weight of an approaching person. In case he'd not heard the same, she gestured quickly for silence. There would be time for them to discuss things later.
Eight people entered the room in a single file. One was disgruntled, two were beaming, another was trying to mask emotion with a smile, three were confused, while the last was completely enigmatic. A group formed naturally although it wasn't composed entirely of the same team. Amanda watched as the younger members of NCIS greeted the Agency leader with teasing smiles. Rather than joining his men, Gibbs immediately veered towards the coffee pot. Her eyes twinkled at his obvious surprise when he took his first taste. What he did next had her curious, however. After filling his own mug, he added milk and sugar to a second before rejoining his team. Her brow climbed as he gruffly offered the extra cup to Kate Todd, although no one else seemed to take it amiss. Well, well, well. Isn't this interesting?
Allowing her guests to mingle for a bit, the housewife cum spy watched their interactions. All three of the Agency men attempted to engage the Mossad officer in conversation to no avail. While never rude, Ziva David made it clear she was not interested in casual chats. According to what Amanda had learned about the young woman, she'd only been with NCIS for about two months with limited contact to her superiors back in Tel Aviv. She hovered on the outskirts of the joyful reunion DiNozzo, McGee, and Todd were enjoying under Gibbs' watchful wintery blue eyes, looking rather like the child who was never invited to play. Kate, on the other hand, was cheerfully spatting with her former team mates while sipping on coffee which had been delivered to her by Gibbs.
There were other differences between the women but now was not the time to examine them. Her attentions turned to the trio from the Agency. Ross, Sherman, and Meyers. Francine was hoping to turn them into a cohesive team with Kate as their leader, apparently much like the one Miss Todd had left just a few short months before. Amanda wasn't certain how well this would work. One of the things that made the Agency unique was the versatility of its agents. Unlike the rest of the intelligence gathering networks, the ones who worked for the most clandestine of bureaus usually operated alone or as a group... but rarely as teams. However, things had changed a lot since her Agency days.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you would find a seat, please." Director Stetson moved to the lectern situated to the left of a large screen. She smiled politely as the team members moved into position, some with a bit more grace than others. "Thank you. Now, as you all are probably already aware, my name is Amanda Stetson and Station One is my facility. I won't bore you with a long lecture on the history and importance of Station One. Each of you have taken classes here at one time or another in your careers, so I am fairly certain you've all heard the speech.
Instead, let's focus on why you're here now. The Secretary of the Navy and the President believe each of you will benefit from a small team building exercise we here at Station One like to call WarGames. It comprises of two teams, yourselves, and the object is to both win, of course, as well as create a cohesive team by the end of the week." Her eyes settled on each player individually as she spoke. Some looked enthusiastic while others were bored; one in particular, however, was shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
"In front of each of you there is a dossier on a member of this week's exercise. If you chose a seat with a dossier you already know, you have one of two options. You may keep it, therefore denying the opposing team valuable intelligence, or you may exchange it for one you are not as familiar with. I leave the choice to you. Keep in mind, by not exchanging, not only are you denying the opposing team information, you are also denying your own team the same lack. There is only one dossier per player. The briefing will resume in 15 minutes."
Leaving the lectern, Amanda moved to the back of the room to warm her coffee. To her complete lack of surprise, her husband was already at the table helping himself to a danish. She allowed his presence to go unremarked, intercepting instead the sweet his doctor had just banished from his diet the week before. He gave her an indignant look, which she returned with equanimity. "Don't think I don't realize what happened to the rest of the poppy-seed cake."
In unison the partners turned to watch what was happening at the table. They may have completely left the field 10 years ago, but that didn't mean they didn't still operate as a unit. Lee arched a brow as Gibbs moved around the table to blatantly read over Kate's shoulder while the woman smoothly tugged his file from his hand. Amanda suppressed a knowing grin when DiNozzo attempted a similar move, gaining a smacked hand for his troubles. The former team Gibbs was exactly what Francine Desmond was wanting for the Agency.
The new team Todd wasn't working out quite as well. Ross and Sherman had already exchanged files, which was to be expected as they were actually partners, while Meyers hadn't even bothered to open his yet. It seemed that Todd was collaborating well with the enemy. McGee had succeeded where his own partner had failed and was reading the dossier which had begun with Kate while she quickly flipped through his. Like Meyers, David also was not reading the information in front of her; however, unlike him, she was closely watching everyone at the table. Amanda got the impression she was also eavesdropping on each quiet conversation. The exotic woman was definitely one to watch this week.
After exchanging a silent conversation with Lee, Amanda inclined her head towards the lectern with an arched brow. He grinned but refused the offer. She definitely knew her training yard better than he did, and was far more qualified to be giving the next part of her presentation. She smiled graciously before taking charge of her class again, carrying the danish with her.
"All right then, if everyone has had a chance to examine the literature, my assistant will be collecting them now."
Meyers looked at Lee with dismay before reluctantly relinquishing his unopened folder. Fortunately for his team, it was not the one on David. Just as luckily for team Gibbs, Ziva's unread file was on Caitlin Todd. Neither team yet had a clear advantage, although Kate would have her work cut out for her.
"As with any exercise, there are rules. Live rounds are not allowed on Station One grounds. If you have brought ammunition with you, please turn it in now. It will be returned at the end of the week. Each of you will be issued a sidearm equipped with rubber pellets as well as a paint ball rifle. Further, considering some of you are combat trained, deadly force is also against the rules. As each of you are federal employees, I am certain you are aware that Uncle Sam would be less than amused to lose any of you in a training exercise.
You may, however, trap your opponents. The only places off-limits are the infirmary, my office, and a mutually agreed upon neutral zone. You may take whatever means you deem necessary to subdue and capture the opposing team. Points will be deducted, however, for mishaps on your own team due to friendly fire. Are there any questions so far?"
Scanning the room, Amanda noted with satisfaction that all of her guests were no longer lounging back, but instead were all facing her with bright-eyed interest. She almost laughed aloud when she realized the interest also glittered in her husband's eyes. She should've known. He didn't stay in one place for long, even if he did work for the Justice Department now. Lee found any reason he possibly could to be out and doing. The eagerness in the room was palpable.
"OK, then." With the tip of her finger, she flipped a switch for the lights to dim. A few keystrokes brought up the power point which was projected onto the big screen beside her. Laser pointer in hand, she turned to continue, "As I indicated before, Station One is a multi-purpose training facility used by various federal organizations. The compound sits on 100 acres of wilderness terrain. There are swamps and quicksand. Four cell towers, located at various points, will allow for communication of that kind. Please keep in mind, if you disable my towers permanently the repair bills will be sent to your directors.
Each player is also kitted with a flare gun. Station One staff is trained in search and rescue. If you get misplaced, don't worry. We will find you. I've not lost a guest yet. In order for a capture to be counted, you must transport your captive to the infirmary. The winning team must have the most free members by Saturday morning. Use your resources. Your directors will have direct links to the security cameras. Not all of the monitors are obvious, so assume nothing."
Another keystroke brought a clock face up on the screen. "You have today to gather needed supplies and explore your surroundings. This evening will be the last time you gather as a group before Saturday. You will have access to station maps and personnel to plan your strategies. Both teams have been assigned a color which must be worn and seen at all times during this exercise. Team Gibbs is pink, Team Todd orange. These are also the colors of your ammunition. As of now, leaving Station One is considered an automatic forfeit of the game. Good luck and have fun."
Amanda flipped the switch again, bringing the lights back up while shaking her head at the players. She wondered if Agent Todd would approach her husband first, or if Lee would directly offer his services. He was very eager to join in, even if it was merely for the opportunity to shoot Gibbs. The men were so much alike it was little wonder they didn't see eye to eye. Alphas rarely did. She reached under the laptop to withdraw fluorescent t-shirts. The eye-bleeding neon would be difficult to camouflage.
It hadn't taken the Agency team long to gather in Kate's cabin. Sherman and Ross settled into chairs with coffee then began discussing strategy amongst themselves. The men had worked together for years without a problem, which was why Francine had included them for the new team she was adamant in building. Regardless the mission, the men always performed well.
The lone woman of the group stood in front of the maps on the wall. She searched the area surrounding their base camp, noting all of the terrain. It was rough but doable. Definitely nothing she hadn't handled in the past working under Gibbs, although she'd not been doing anything lately to maintain the level of awareness she needed to win. And, by God, she would win!
"Awfully comfy with your old team, werencha Kate? Sure you don't want to switch sides now?" Meyers was leaning against the wall watching Todd at the map. He had spent most of the time since Orientation trying to decide exactly what he wanted to say.
"Are you trying to say something, Meyers?" She didn't even look at him, continuing to trace what appeared to be the most likely plans of attack.
"Yeah, I am. For one, why are you the one in charge? You've only been with the Agency for a couple months. How does that make you qualified to run this op? Just what are you bringing to the table?"
Ross and Sherman looked up at the confrontation happening across the room. They exchanged a speaking glance but wisely remained quiet. All three of the men had been with the Agency for close to 4 years compared to Kate's 3 months, but that didn't necessarily mean that Meyers should be the one in charge.
"What am I bringing to the table? Perhaps if you'd taken the time to pay attention to what's going on around you rather than napping you'd know." Kate turned to the indignant man, ticking her accomplishments off on her fingers. "First, I spent 5 years on Presidential detail with the Secret Service. There isn't a vehicle on land, in the air, or on the seas I can't operate. I've never lost an assignment. Secondly, I worked for two years with NCIS as part of the Major Case Response Team – under the man who is running the opposing team. I know how they think; I know how they move. I have taken out both DiNozzo and McGee in training sessions run by Gibbs, more than once.
Third, I know how a team is supposed to work. And, a team doesn't start sniping at the leader as soon as her back is turned. Lastly, I am a trained profiler and investigator. Even if I didn't know how the NCIS team reacts personally, I am still more proficient in predicting their movements. You have a problem working under me, Meyers?" Kate stepped closer, her voice cold.
"Sure looked like you were more interested in sharing information than gathering it." He wasn't going to back down. Sure, Kate was cute and everything, but she was a woman. When the cards came down, everyone knew she wasn't going to be able to keep it straight.
Kate glanced at the pair at the table. "Do you agree?"
Ross opened his mouth then thought better of it. Sherman settled back before taking apart his sidearm to clean it. Kate nodded, getting the message. They were staying out of it, waiting to see who would come out on top in the pissing match. She turned back to Meyers, a dangerous glint in her eyes. She advanced on the man, channeling her inner bitch. "Perhaps you've not noticed the purpose of this week, Meyers. It's not only about building a team, it's also about working well with others. While I was 'consorting with the enemy', I read dossiers on you, Ross, and Sherman. I also read the one on Ziva David, who is the sole wild card in this exercise. I am the only person in the game who has worked with 6 of the 8 players. I have sat in on the planning of the last 4 major ops that went down at the Agency, and saved the one you botched last. Yes, I did read the dossiers with NCIS, because they had the ones I didn't already know intimately. I can tell you right now, with absolutely no doubts, that I am the only person in this room qualified to go head to head with Jethro Gibbs."
For a moment, Meyers looked worried. Apparently Gibbs' reputation was getting around again, although she'd not heard anything recently about him. Things had definitely changed from when she met the opposing team leader. Back then, NCIS was looked down on by all the feds. Good for reigning in a few drunken sailors but not much use otherwise. That, however, was then. The MCRT had begun carving out a reputation. Fewer people were looking at them in askance now, and Gibbs was far from a joke. Yeah, Meyers should definitely look worried. It wasn't fun to cross LeRoy Jethro Gibbs. No one did it more than once.
The determined brunette didn't hesitate to press her advantage. She may not have the same reputation as her former boss but they did have a few things in common. Her temper was pretty legendary in certain circles, too. Further, she wasn't a profiler just because it looked good on her resume. "Is that what you want, Meyers? To have a pissing match with Gibbs? See who has the bigger dick? Don't let the gray hair fool you, that man's a long way from retirement."
"You really think you can win against him, Kate? The man knows you inside and out. Hell, he trained you; you just said so yourself. What chance do you have to stand against him? He's gonna snap his fingers and you'll heel like a well-trained bitch, tail wagging." Fumbling to regain the advantage, Meyers played what he felt was his ace. "Look at how you just got done sharing valuable intel with him, for Christ's sake!"
Kate actually had to wrap her arms around her stomach she was laughing so hard. That may have been true at one time, but things had changed even before Haswari's second shot missed. There had been a time when she'd have almost sold her soul for a word of praise from the Marine but, as the saying went, that was then and this was now. It took the petite woman a little bit to regain her composure while her team watched with consternation. When she stopped, it was as if she'd never cracked. The masque was solidly in place, hiding memories better forgotten. "Once I saw what files NCIS had, I wasn't worried about valuable intel any longer. Ross and Sherman had your file and DiNozzo's. You had McGee's, and David had mine. There was no need for me to read any of the three, since I am already familiar with them. I spent my 15 minutes reading up on Gibbs, Ross, Sherman, and David. Why on earth would I willingly hand over leadership to a man who refuses to take advantage of the resources at his fingertips?
For that matter, you just spent almost an hour in the same room as the NCIS team. What have you learned beyond the fact I used to work with them – which, by the way, you knew before we got here."
Defeat was there on Meyers' face. The sad thing was, she didn't feel like she'd won anything in particular. There was never a doubt she was going to remain team leader, even if she didn't already have Chief Desmond's blessing. These guys might play footsie with international scum every day of the week, but they'd never gone up against anyone like Gibbs when he was fully engaged. And, yes, she would make sure he was exactly that. After all, she'd told him once, long ago, that she was pretty sure she was destined to shoot him.
"Now that that's settled, we only have a few hours until we have to meet up again and I'd like to get some actual scouting on the lay of the land before it gets too late." Kate took charge again, letting the argument to fall in the past. She beckoned for her team to come closer to the map on the wall. As the men neared, she pointed to a hollow approximately 2 miles northwest of their current position. "Now, according to this map this is perfect for the other team to set up an ambush. According to what I've read about you, Sherman, you are a wizard when it comes to remote detonations. How do you feel about a surprise?"
A slow smile curled across the Native American's lips. She could almost see his brain working out the possibilities. "I'm all for surprises. He's a sniper, you say? Trained in what conditions?"
"I know he served in Desert Storm. He was in the Corp for over 20 years, and most of his service file is redacted. DiNozzo, on the other hand, has never been anything other than a cop and McGee was a Boy Scout but doesn't seem to remember as much of his experiences as he should. Ziva David is the mystery. I have a feeling it will take all of us to take her down. But, she doesn't appear to be playing well with the boys, so that's another advantage. Thoughts?"
"McGee is a techie, right? Take away his toys and there's a good chance he'll just be another rookie floundering about in the woods. Ross is really good when it comes to gadgets." Sherman nodded towards his partner, exchanging grins with the short Hawaiian. They both stepped closer to the map, pointing out places for ambush, including a trail which led right to Gibbs' front door. "Now, Stetson said that only her office and the infirmary was off limits, yes?"
"Yeah, and a to be determined neutral zone. I have a feeling that will be determined tonight. Now, I think here would be a good place to immediately offer up." Kate pointed at a likely spot which would automatically give NCIS an advantage. "Because we're offering it, Gibbs will be suspicious and not likely to take it. Here or here are the places he'll probably be offering, neither of which we will accept either. Meyers, what do you think?"
Kate was more than willing to step back and invite Meyers into the planning now that she'd set him straight. While she was fairly positive this wouldn't be the only discussion they'd be having this week, she also knew when it was time to back off. The man in question tried to give the impression he was doing her a favor by sharing his knowledge, but it was quite obvious to her he was just as eager as the rest to take the laurels back to the Agency. Perhaps he'd manage to reign in his drive to be alpha? It was all she could do not to roll her eyes as the man muscled his way between Ross and Sherman to trace his own ideas on the board. This was going to be a very long week.
"Talk to me. DiNozzo." Gibbs was treating the planning like any other case, by utilizing his team to their best advantages. It made no sense to change things now, particularly when the system wasn't broken.
"Yeah, Boss. Wow, seeing Kate was a surprise. Guess life at the Agency isn't quite as plum as she thought it'd be. I say we take her out first."
Unexpectedly, the next voice wasn't McGee's. Ziva stepped forward to share her opinion while negligently resting her hip against the table. "Actually, Caitlyn should be ignored. First, because it is expected; and secondly, I believe her team will give her more problems which will split her focus. It should be one of the men, the short one. I believe his name is Arnold Ross."
Before he could say a word, McGee was anticipating Gibbs' next words and setting up his laptop. "On it, Boss. This might take a little bit, but I'll see what more I can find out about Ross that wasn't in his jacket."
A slight nod was the only acknowledgement, but it was more than enough to make the computer geek flush with pride. A nod from Gibbs carried more weight than both his degrees. The older man expected the best; McGee would crawl through a burning building to provide it.
Secure in the knowledge that McGee would soon be able to prove David's theory, the man in charge moved on to the next step of the plan. Phase two involved the actual geography of the land. He started tracing out different areas on the maps on the wall. It wasn't long before both DiNozzo & David were on either side of him, making suggestions. She was smart, this assassin Jenny had saddled him with. She knew her stuff, which was a bit interesting since Israel was mostly desert.
Tony knew how Kate thought, just like Gibbs did. Both men knew better than to underestimate their wily former partner. She may have played by the books with the Secret Service, but it hadn't taken her long to get sneaky. Kate was going to be a worthy adversary, and her team had been on the fore-front of the shadows hiding game for several years. The Native American's dossier had revealed he was almost as comfortable in the woods as Gibbs was, and the Hawaiian was a demolitions expert. This might not be as bad as he'd feared...
A short time later, he had two different plans of attack and a good idea as to where he wanted the neutral zone to be located. Just to throw Kate off her game, he was going to push for the spot just south of his teams' camp. That wasn't where he really wanted it at, because he didn't want her getting that close to his HQ but she would be sure to fight him on it, so it wasn't really a worry.
McGee was grumbling at his computer screen, making vicious threats towards the unknown IT guy assigned to the training camp. Gibbs didn't understand even a third of what he was muttering about, but could tell it was upsetting the probie all the same. The young man's fingers were flying across the keyboard of his laptop when he pulled one hand away to punch a single digit on his phone. Seconds later, Abby's face was beaming at them all from the LCD screen on the wall.
"Abbs, I need you to patch me through to the NCIS mainframe. I can't get a hookup on this end. The signal isn't strong enough."
"Hi Timmy! Isn't this against the rules or something?" Her black pigtails bounced merrily as she tried to peer through Tim's tiny camera feed.
DiNozzo piped up from the map, "What's the first rule of Fight Club?"
"There is no discussing Fight Club!" Abby sang out happily.
"Abby! Focus, please? I can't get the information I need, and the boss is gonna..." Tim's words died slowly as Gibbs turned to look at the slightly pudgy young man.
"I'm working on it. Man, where are you guys, lost in the Stone Age somewhere? I can barely keep a signal to hook to."
"Playing in the woods, Abby. I think Gibbs has a couple tin cans and a string in the car so we can stay in contact."
A rich chortle was the only response from the Navy Yard while Tony ducked in anticipation.
"Thanks, Abbs! I owe you one. Now, can you send me that file?"