“Jethro.” Vance said in greeting, stepping out of the car to meet the team. “Not our usual kind of op.” Gibbs said without preamble.
“No, but I would rather see this one on our side than being sent over to the CIA.” Gibbs gave a nod at this, joining Vance as they went through the door, ignoring the black suited agents flanking the rusted metal. The team stepped into the warehouse automatically spreading out slightly to flank each other. Gibbs and Director Vance walked in lockstep side by side out front, leading; Abby, Ducky, and Palmer ten or so feet behind the other agents.
In front of them the warehouse was empty except for a dark windowed car that screamed CIA to one side and a small group of suits standing around a table. The only anomaly was a young woman in her early twenties who sat in the only chair. Dark brown hair had been cropped into a military cut but her thin body was hidden in oversized hoodie, black pants and boots completed the looks. She sat watching the group approach without expression.
“I am afraid my team and I have not been briefed on the situation today. Care to share?” Gibbs asked raising an eyebrow at Vance but one of the suits answered before he could.
‘Suffice it to say that the government has an asset that we are willing to loan out to the NCIS for the time being.” he gestured to the seated woman behind him, “This is 98, she will be working as one of your team until her next assignment is ready. We have already sent her records and such to your office. It should be there when you get back.”
“And why exactly should we take an unknown person on our team simply because the “Government” wants it.” Gibbs asked eyes on Vance. “Perhaps a demonstration is in order.” Vance said glancing at the girl. “You heard him, up.” Black suit two snapped earning a small glare from the woman. She stood and pulled off the hoodie, before removing her shirt and boots as well. She walked to an open piece of ground before crouching, fingers pressing into the dirt before her.
“Do me a favor.” she said, “Don’t scream.” before turning her face away, a sudden heat distortion warped the area around her for a second or two. When it dissipated a silver and black wolf stood in her place. It shook itself out and then trotted closer to them, taking a seat several feet away. Abby opened her mouth to respond only for Ducky to slap a hand over her mouth, preventing any comments. She made a small squeak before nodding to show that she would be silent.
“Good, now turn back.” The first suit instructed. Again the heat shimmer surrounded the wolf, leaving in its place and thin, scar covered girl wearing only a bra and pants.
“Basic training routine, start.” the man barked. With a sigh she stood and trotted back to her starting point and began running through a hand to hand combat routine accented by the occasional squeak from Abby as she shifted back and forth between human and wolf.
The handler calling the shots gestured for Gibbs to join him a few feet away from the others, eyes continuing to track the progress of his charge.
“Listen, I know your team is not exactly equipped to deal with this. Hell, no one is going to be but I need to get her into a more stable environment before she snaps and decides to see what human meat tastes like.”
“No more than anyone else would be in her shoes. She has been training and running missions since she was five, the military is all she knows.” He glanced at his other team member with a grimace. “She has been on punishment duty for the last three days for attacking Grant. Everything I can see says he provoked it but for all intents and purposes she is government property and has no real say in anything. She is one of the last of her kind that we know about. All the others of the group trained with her have went feral at some point and had to be put down. She’s a smart kid but she is stuck being a sniffer dog or assassin for the government with no down time. If you can use her, great, if not she gets a few months of down time to get her head straight and time for me to find better handlers for her.”
“If she harms my team…” Gibbs said trailing off.
“Then put her down. A feral is hard not to spot, their eyes change, lose all the humanity, like a wolf in human form.”
“That’s enough, 98. Relax for a minute. Grant, go start the car, we’ll be out of here in a minute.” Agent Grant moved off with a frown. 98 crouched to one side, ribs moving as she fought to calm her breathing back to normal. Sweat covered her skin, highlighting the scars that wrapped her body. Whip marks and knife wounds Gibbs noted.
“Basic handling rules are in her files, but she eats more than anyone you have ever met. The shifting burns a ton of calories.” he said gathering 98’s clothes and walking out to hand them to her. She stood and dressed quickly.
“No biting the locals, Tricks. See you in a few months.” He said giving her a smile.
“See you, Carter.” she said softly watching him walk away. She turned to face the waiting and almost twitched as she watched Abby signing franticly to Palmer and Ducky bouncing in place in her excitement. “Excuse me dear.” Ducky said stepping forward and offering his hand, which she shook quickly before stepping back. “I am Dr Donald Mallard but everyone calls me Ducky. I am the Medical Examiner for the team. Is there anything with your…ability that we need to be aware of? Any medical conditions?”
“As long as I get enough food and water, no. Shifting takes a lot of energy and I have had one case where I went into insulin shock because of shifting too much.” she said, clearly uncomfortable.
“How much is too much, exactly?” Gibbs asked.
“Depends on the terrain and speed I have to cover, more than ten, less than 20.” she shrugged. Abby had finally hit her limit and bounced forward.
“Oh my god that was amazing! Does it hurt at all? I mean I know I have seen werewolves in movies and it always looks painful but you clearly were not being the half human things they were but are you able to half change like that?” all this was said as fast as possible. “Abs, Breath.” Tony interrupted.
“That’s Abby Sciuto, our forensic scientist. This is Palmer, Ducky’s assistant. Tim McGee, our resident computer geek and agent, Ziva David, also an agent, and myself, Tony DiNozzo. And of course our fearless leader, Gibbs.” she flinched slightly as Gibbs smacked Tony in the back of the head.
“Shutting up Boss.”
“How exactly did you do…that?” Palmer asked still looking a little in shock. 98 shrugged, “Genetics, I was born that way.”
“How about we take this back to the lab, she can ride with me.” Gibbs said, gesturing to the entrance. A thirty minute silent car ride later they were arranged around a large conference table.
“DiNozzo, got snag some food for everyone. Anything you can’t eat?” he asked handing out folders to the rest of the team.
“Anything but curry.” 98 said from her spot next to the wall. “Interesting, is it an allergy or do you simply not enjoy curry?” Ducky asked, pausing in his perusal of her medical files.
“Heavily spiced food can make me sick.” she said shifting slightly, “My sense of taste is more sensitive than yours. Basically anything you can feed a dog, I can eat.”
“I don’t know if I can do what you want me to do.” She told Tony as he came back to his desk.
“What do you mean, Numbers?”
“You guys go out, have drinks, talk to each other, play. You want me to do that to right?”
“Only if you want to. You don’t have to do those things but yeah we would like to get to know you better and doing those things is how we tend to do that.”
“I don’t think I can, I don’t think I…think like you. I don’t know how much of the stuff in my head is training and how much is wolf. I’m not like you.”
“Ok, I think we need Ziva in on this conversation.” Tony muttered getting up and coming back a few minutes later with her in tow.