Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay + NCIS cast
Warnings: this takes place around Thanksgiving '07, a little further in the Ancient!John 'Verse than I've written so far but taking that into account, around the time of the "Miller's Crossing" storyline that is to come. Takes place c. early S5 of NCIS.
Summary: Atlantis has a very high casualty rate. This makes certain people very curious.
Notes: I blame this, as I do all things, on popkin16.
1) Inquistor means detective or investigator. 2) OSI is the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the all-military AF version of NCIS, which really is just Navy/Marines. 3) If you remember in AJ, Lorne really is in a lot of trouble back on Earth for the things he did during the Hegira, i.e., hiding an alien spaceship in Earth orbit, helping the 23 Emigres return to Atlantis, and stealing almost all the ATA vaccine on Earth. 4) This makes liberal use of my backstory for Rodney, as well as John's human cover story. 5) God, what have I done?
An Ancient!John/NCIS Cossover
19 November, 2007 – Washington Navy Yard, Terra, Avalon
The picture on the screen is of a dark-haired man in his early thirties with grey eyes, an open smile, and the words WANTED in bold-faced type at the bottom.
"This is Major Evan Lorne, formerly of the United States Air Force and currently number eleven on the OSI's most wanted list."
"Well, he certainly doesn't seem the type," Abby says, having stolen McGee's chair for the briefing and leaning back in it now. "Well," she adds at Gibb's look, "he doesn't. The Major doesn't look like a criminal, just sort of like an overgrown puppy. I bet you McGee here is more dangerous than him."
Gibbs shakes his head and gestures at the image on the screen with the remote. "Major Lorne is wanted by the Air Force for mutiny, sedition, espionage, forcing a safeguard, and desertion. The FBI recently dropped the treason charges against him for lack of concrete evidence."
Tony can't help but whistle. "That's an impressive list for a guy who never made the six o'clock news."
"His crimes were kept quiet by the DoD to keep from causing a panic. The Major defected while stationed in Afghanistan. It was believed that any televised coverage of his actions would result in enemy retaliation."
"Who'd he defect to? Taliban? Al-Queda? HIG?"
"Doesn't say. Doesn't matter either. All that matters is that he's gone over to the enemy."
"Uh, Boss?" McGee, God help him, actually raises his hand to ask. "I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but he's an Air Force major. We don't have jurisdiction."
"Before he went rouge, Major Lorne was the direct commander of a battalion of Marines with an unusually high casualty rate – almost double the average."
"And you believe the two are related."
"You just don't suddenly decide to turn coat one day. My guess is that Major Lorne was feeding intelligence to the mujahideen long before he left the service."
"As interesting as this may be," Ziva says, tapping the end of her pencil against her notepad, "it says that this Lorne disappeared in the Hindu Kush Mountains. So unless you know something the OSI does not, he is a little out of our reach."
Gibbs' answering grin is reminiscent of the cat that caught the canary. "Major Lorne's former CO is in town. I have reason to believe that he may have valuable information about his former XO's activities."
"Okay. I'll bite. Who's his former CO?"
The image on the screen changes. "Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, the Air Force's own celebrity mathematician."
Georgetown University, Terra, Avalon
"I don't want to alarm you," Iohannes says sotto voce as they duck into a room backstage to get their things after the conclusion of his lecture and the hundreds of questions that had followed, "but there are suits stationed at all the exits and I don't think they mean to let us go."
Rodney almost drops the bag with their computers in it, not having bothered to take off his coat before the lecture – between the Device implanted in neck and the other behind his ear, it's all a scarf and a turned-up collar can do to hide the decidedly not-human tech that allow him to talk with Atlantis when they're in the city. As soon as he's righted it, he hits Iohannes on the arm. "How is that not supposed to alarm me?"
"I don't think they're here to hurt us."
"Oh, yes, because you're comprehensive and detailed three-second examination of them makes me feel much better about their intentions."
"They waited until the lecture was over, didn't they? If they were Trust or NID they would have stormed the stage with Asgard beams and automatic weapons."
Rodney crosses his arms. The bag with the computers in it hits his side, but he doesn't seem to notice. "So, that just means they're IRS or something. Doesn't mean I want to go along with them."
"I don't think we have much choice."
He has time to do little more than incline his head in the approaching agents' direction before they're set upon.
"Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard?" the man asks.
Iohannes gives them the smile he reserves for situations like this one, where they're about to be taken prisoner by some angry group of natives. Granted, this lot – a man and a woman, both wearing suits and keeping all their weaponry in their holsters – doesn't seem all that angry, but he's still leery of anyone who might work for any of the Terran governments. "That's what they call me."
The man flashes a badge. "Special Agent DiNozzo, NCIS I'm afraid you're going to have to come with us."
Washington Navy Yard, Terra, Avalon
"They're in interrogation three, Boss," he says as Gibbs steps off the elevator, a fresh coffee cup in hand.
"Any trouble bringing them in?"
"Other than the fact Sheppard's got more metal in his body than some junk drawers I've seen, none. Made getting them through security interesting through."
"One of his colleagues was with him when we went to bring him in, a Doctor Rodney McKay. He insisted he come with. I didn't see the harm. He mostly spent the ride in typing on his phone and muttering about how, if he wanted to be kidnapped, he would have stayed at home."
Gibb's eyebrows go up at that. "What do we know about him?"
"Canadian citizen, born in '68; PhDs in astrophysics and mechanical engineering. Been working for the Air Force since '91 in a highly classified research capacity." He hands over the file, thin as it is. "Most everything else is redacted. The last entry has him being transferred to Nellis Air Force Base from McMurdo a year ago.
"Get this, though: McGee did some digging. None of McKay's bank accounts show any checks from the US government being deposited since December of last year. For fifteen years they're as regular as clockwork, but twelve months ago it all stops. Only money coming in has been prize money, lecture fees, and transfers from a Swiss account that was opened two months before he was cut off."
"Now that's interesting. Anything similar with the Colonel's finances?"
"Not that anyone can tell, but the guy has money coming left, right, and centre and a series of bank accounts that would make a mob boss proud. It'll take some time."
"Get McGee on it."
"Already done, Boss."
"Well then, let's see what they have to say, shall we?"
Sheppard, at least, has taken off his jacket. It's some dark grey wool thing, too fashionable for him to have picked out for himself (judging by the lazy, almost apathetic way he's slouching his chair) and unworn enough to be a recent purchase. Between it, the grey slacks, and the dark brown V-neck sweater he still wears, he looks rather more like a pompous academic asshole than an Air Force lieutenant bird. Not, of course, that that's saying much.
The other man – Doctor McKay – is hunched around the computer bag they let him keep, wearing a too large but equally pompous jacket and an absurdly thick scarf for a man whose file, thin as it is, testifies to years spent in Siberia and Antarctica. He looks irritated to be here, though he's the one who came by choice, and his glare only increases when Gibbs steps through the door. "Who are you and why are we here?"
"My name is Special Agent Gibbs and I was under the impression you were here voluntarily, Doctor McKay."
McKay snorts. "Please, like I'd let him come here alone. We only just got the Joint Chiefs off our back. Last thing we need is for him to start another war."
"Ah, c'mon, Rodney," Sheppard drawls, sounding absolutely nothing like an Air Force officer or a pompous academic asshole. He sounds like he should be combing a beach somewhere, not giving lectures on advanced mathematics or commanding a Marine brigade in some undisclosed part of the Hindu Kush. Gibbs finds himself faintly relieved to be retired, if only so he'll never have to face the indignity of having to call this man his CO. "You've got to let these things go."
McKay scoffs this time, one hand coming off the computer bag to gesture imperiously in his direction. "So, what is it you want? Money? Technology? The chance to threaten us with bodily harm if we hurt one hair on your Marines' heads?"
"Rodney," Sheppard repeats, admonishing. He sits up straighter, placing both hands on the table top, the fingers of his left hand to pluck at the lacings of a black bracer that had, until now, been hidden under the sleeve of his right. "So what can we do for you today, Agent?"
Gibbs takes his own seat, allowing himself the screech of metal chair against cement floor for his irritation. "I actually did bring you here to discuss Marines. Specifically, are you aware that the Marines under your care have casualty rates almost twice that of the average?"
"Is that so?"
If Gibbs were the type of man to snap pencils, he would at that comment. Instead he continues, forcibly pleasant, "It is, or was until shortly after your former XO's departure from the service."
This actually earns him a smile, thin-lipped and slightly predatory, and for the first time he can see how this man managed to reach the rank he did. "You're looking for Evan."
"I believe he may have fed information to the mujahideen that led to the death of at least forty servicemen and women under your command."
"Do you now?"
"You can tell your superiors, Special Agent Gibbs," the Colonel asks, his words like thunder on the horizon – not a direct threat, no, but the distinct promise of danger, "to drop the witch hunt. If they think I'm going to let them crucify him because they can't get to me, they've got another thing coming." He stands, yanking his jacket with its mother-fucking elbow patches off the chair as he stands. "Rodney, we're leaving."
"I'm afraid that's not-" Gibbs begins, but Sheppard is already out the door – which should have been locked – before he can so much as finish the sentence, McKay only pausing to roll his eyes before following.
They're already in the elevator by the time Gibbs as stormed back into the bullpen.
"I want everything there is to know on Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay. Bank statements, phone records, Internet histories – if they so much as got sent to the principal's office in kindergarten, I want it on my desk first thing tomorrow morning."
20 November, 2007 – Washington Navy Yard, Terra, Avalon
"Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay," Tony begins the moment Gibbs steps out of the elevator. "Born in Québec, Canada on 14 April, 1968. Parents died in a car crash in '94. Only living family is a sister, Jeanne Miller, currently residing in Toronto with her husband and five-year-old daughter.
"Entered MIT at age thirteen, majoring in aeronautics and astronautics, graduated in '85. After that he went to California, got a PhD in astrophysics from Cal Tech in '88 and another from Stanford in mechanical engineering in '91. He headed back east after that, worked in DC until '02, racking up an impressive number of parking tickets. Seems the good doctor had trouble remembering which side of the street he could park on outside his apartment on which day."
McGee takes over the dossier from here. "There's nothing interesting in the money trail until '04. At that point, the money keeps coming in, but nothing comes out for almost twelve months – no transfers, no withdrawals; no expenses that I can find. It picks up again in mid '05 and remains steady through November of last year. At that point, he goes off the grid again for two months – nothing in, nothing out this time – and when it picks up again, the only funds coming in are either from royalty fees for publications dating after the first of this year or transfers from an account out of a bank in Zürich that is listed in both Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay's names."
"And what about Colonel Sheppard? What could you find on him?"
"The man's a ghost, boss."
"As in, the paper and the paper trail don't match up."
Looking intrigued, Gibbs asks, "How so?"
"Well, take his parents: his service records indicate that his mother died in '73, cancer; his father died in '88 during Sheppard's freshman year of college, apparently a drug overdose. However, when I tried calling the Marin County records office, I was informed that both death certificates had been destroyed in a fire, also in '88, along with all three birth certificates and his parent's marriage certificate."
"Fires happen, DiNozzo. There was a big one at the National Archives back in '73. They're still trying to piece together all the service records that were destroyed back then."
"The fire happened in August of '88," Tony says, unable to hide his grin. "Sheppard's father is supposed to have died in October of that year, long after the records office had moved to its current site."
"Now that is suspicious. So what do we know about the Colonel?"
"Well," he drawls, "Lieutenant Colonel John Patrick Sheppard, supposedly born 14 June, 1970 in Sausalito, California. Only child. Mother was an orphan, no known family. No family that can be found on the father's side either.
"All other records are pretty much non-existent until late '88, when he enters Stanford. This is presumably where the two met, as Sheppard would have been an undergraduate while McKay was working on his second PhD. He graduated in December '91, having majored in mathematics. He gets his PhD, also from Stanford, in May of '94, this time in theoretical mathematics. I was able to get a hold of his thesis advisor, Doctor Daniel Bump, who described him – and I quote – as a charming young man you should never play poker with.
"He was commissioned in the Air Force one week after graduation. After that, his record is scrubbed. You have names of commanding officers but no specific postings or operational involvement."
"Be my guess if he wasn't a mathelete. Whatever he's been doing the last thirteen years, the DoD does not want us to know about it."
Gibbs rubs at his eyebrow tiredly. "What about finances?"
Tony looks at McGee.
"Nothing spectacular until late 2006, when the Clay Mathematics Institute awarded him one million US dollars for solution to the Riemann Hypothesis – part of their Millennium Prize program. He received another six million Norwegian kroner – just under one point one million US – the following January for the same, this time as part of the Abel Prize. This money, along with all subsequent royalty, publication, appearance, interview, and lecture fees, disappeared into no less than ten separate accounts in five separate banks on three separate continents, but between stock holdings, currency exchanges, and known land purchases, it's a safe bet to assume he's worth somewhere between a quarter and a half of a billion dollars."
"Any idea where all that money is going?"
"Your guess is as good as mine, boss. Give me a month and access to a supercomputer and I might be able to find out, but right now I couldn't tell you if he's using his fortune to buy baby bottles for church orphanages or fund half the terrorism in the Middle East."
"Well get on it then," Gibbs orders, pinching the bridge of his noses and getting that look that says they need to have at least one probie getting coffee at all times. "Ziva-" He looks up. "Where's Ziva?"
"Tailing the suspects."
"Alone? And they're not suspects, not yet anyway."
"But you think he set Major Lorne up to take the fall for him."
"Not him. Do you remember what he said in interrogation? He referred to the Major by his first name and said he's not going to let any one crucify him. Colonel Sheppard isn't trying to frame Major Lorne: he's trying to protect him."
"Protect him from what?"
"I don't know yet."
"Any ideas as to why?"
"I've got some ideas," he says, standing. "Let me know when Ziva gets back. I'll be in-"
"I am back," Ziva announces, looking tired but pleased as she drops her bag on top of her desk.
"Colonel Sheppard? Doctor McKay?"
"On a flight to New York. I watched them board myself. Also," she continues, still far too entertained for the situation, "they knew they were being watched, possibly the whole time."
"The Colonel waved at me before boarding the plane. And, when I returned to the hotel to investigate the room, I found this," she produces a creamy, crisp sheet of hotel stationary – whatever Sheppard's actual net worth, it seems its more than enough to cover a night at the Ritz-Carlton. And, quite possibly, Hebrew lessons, because on the outside of the stationary are the words, נהנהמהנוף. "It asks if I am enjoying the view. The inside translates to something along the lines of, You'll get more money selling the pictures to Vanity Fair then The National Enquirer."
Tony grabs the camera from her bag eagerly. "Pictures? What kind of pictures?"
"Nothing that would be considered incriminating back in Israel, I assure you."
It takes him five seconds to put it all together. "Aw, really? Sheppard and McKay? Well there's one I didn't see coming."
"They have a joint bank account and are travelling alone together on a three week lecture series that hits almost every major university on six continents," McGee says, strongly implying that Tony's an idiot in tone if not words. "I guarantee you're pretty much the only one that didn't see that coming."
"Where are they off to next?" Gibbs demands.
"Columbia University. After that, it's up to MIT, but then they head to Europe, the Middle East, South Africa… They won't be back stateside for almost two weeks."
"So let's get this done now, before they have a chance to disappear into whatever hole is hiding Major Lorne."
Columbia University, Terra, Avalon
Terra will be the end of him, Iohannes knows that now. It's bad enough he has to do this lecture series, his popularity on Terra somehow managing to have reached rock star proportions – a phrase he admittedly had failed to understand until Kaleb had taken him in hand and guided him through the downright terrifying social morass that were the celebrity gossip news sites. He had known the Terrans considered his publications revolutionary and had taken somewhat of an interest in the mystery his life must appear to them, but had been unprepared for the level of interest.
"At least it's only magazine covers," Rodney had told them after the first lecture, after he'd been beset by bespeckled undergrads looking for autographs on their way back to Kaleb's car. "Real rock stars sometimes get asked to sign underwear, which can't possibly be sanitary."
Iohannes had looked it up after, at the airport, waiting for their fight to LAX and the next stop on their whistle-stop lecture tour of the planet. All things considered, he'd rather be called a god than a rock star.
The crowd in the lecture hall here at Columbia University is the largest yet, Rodney having gleefully informed him that over five hundred people had come to hear him speak shortly before he'd gone on stage. Iohannes sincerely doubts that they are all here to listen to him talk about his advancements in number theory. A good portion of the fifth row, or so it would seem, is here only to giggle and take pictures, and the handful that had trickled in late and lingered by the doors are likely here to take him in to custody.
One day, he'll visit a planet where the locals don't want to detain him.
He finishes his presentation and opens the floor to questions, and is far from surprised when on of the men who'd slipped in late – Special Agent Gibbs – makes use of the second Q of the Q&A to arrest him for aiding and abetting the enemy while the cameras are still rolling.