Sorry for the delay in this - I've been busy on a few writing projects, plus I had to write a major article for a magazine. Anyway - we're in the endgame now, with just a few chapters left. I had a bit of hard thinking to do with this chapter, but it finally came out ok. Here we go! Oh - and I do not own these characters!
Nate had always prided himself on his driving. His father, Garland Wuornos – ok, so adopted father – had taught him and he knew all about pushing the gas pedal to the floor and gunning it down the road as hard and fast as possible.
It therefore came as a hell of a shock when a black Fed car blew straight past him, going at close to 80 miles an hour and still accelerating. It was being driven by Ziva David, who had a grin on her face that could best be described as ‘feral’. In the front passengers seat was Agent Dinozzo, who looked as if he’d just lost a game of rock, scissors, paper and was now massively regretting it. The look on his face could best be described as ‘rictus of fear’.
And ten seconds later Nate saw a second black Fed car blow straight past, this time being driven by Agent Gibbs. With that… whatever the hell he was, McGee, in the passenger seat. Who directed a lazy wave of the hand at them as they passed, before appearing to go to sleep.
Which was… well, insulting.
Nate looked down at the speedometer for a second. Damn it, they were doing 80 themselves. “Can’t this thing go any faster?” he griped.
“It’s ten years old and it needs a new transmission. So – no. Nate, can you please not try to kill us?”
“But the Feds-”
“Screw the Feds, this car can’t beat them to wherever the hell Duke Crocker says we need to be. It needed to be replaced a year ago, but we didn’t have the budget. Nate, I know you can’t feel pain, but can you please not try to kill us?”
Dwight had a point, and Nate lifted his foot slightly off the gas pedal. He watched the diminishing dots of the Feds on the horizon. “Dwight, can you call Duke and warn him that he’s about to have an avalanche of Feds on his hands and that he shouldn’t panic too much?”
“Duke? Panic? At Feds?” Dwight grinned and pulled his cell phone out. “This should be a hell of a thing.”
McGee opened his eyes and stared at the horizon as the car roared down the road and Gibbs finally passed Ziva. That odd feeling was getting stronger and stronger the more that they approached the GPS coordinates. He embraced the Force and then winced slightly. Yes, something was very, very, wrong about what he was feeling right now. It felt like… like there was a bulge in the world, if that made sense.
“Boss, there’s something… ahead of us.”
Gibbs looked at him for a moment in the mirror and then nodded. “I feel it too McGee. It’s like… something setting my teeth on edge.”
“God, this is going to be hard to deal with, the way that you too can see – sorry, feel – things that the rest of us can’t,” Fornell groaned.
“Deal with it, Tobias,” Gibbs grated as he pulled the car around a corner. “It isn’t like I can turn this stuff off. McGee, we getting close?”
“Gps says that we are. And buzzing in my head says that we are as well. Wait a second – I see a car up ahead of us, parked on the side of the road.”
“I see it,” Gibbs grunted, as he pulled in behind it before looking at the stand of trees that was about fifty yards away. The boom of waves striking the shore could be heard off to their left, not too far away. “This way.”
He led the way as Ziva screeched to a halt behind their car and the other two agents joined them.
“What’s the story McJedi?” Tony asked as he jogged up to them.
“Gibbs and can both feel something hinky on the other side of these trees,” he replied as he checked that his lightsabre was clipped to his belt.
“Oh, that is not good at all,” Ziva muttered.
“What?” Tony asked.
“McGee just checked where his lightsabre was.”
“Ah crap,” Tony muttered as they reached the treeline and passed through it. “Yup, not good at all.”
McGee moved a branch to one side as he walked and then suddenly they were through the treeline. Ahead he could see two people. The first was a dark-haired and rather nervous-looking young woman. The second was a slightly older man with long hair tied back, a moustache and goatee, and a face that looked strangely familiar to him. Both were looking confused – and then looked even more confused as Gibbs, McGee and the others approached them.
“Who the hell are you?” the man asked.
“Federal Agents,” Gibbs replied, flashing his badge. “Detective Wuornos told you about us I believe, Mr Crocker?”
Duke Crocker looked vaguely panicky and then looked at his phone. “Reception’s shitty out here,” he muttered as he peered at it. “Crap. Two missed calls.” He looked up at them. “Can I… help you?”
“We were going to ask you the same thing,” Gibbs replied.
Crocker looked shifty. “With what?”
Gibbs looked at McGee, who nodded slightly. “Oh, that door behind you.”
Crocker’s eyes widened and he turned around, his eyes flitting all over the field, whilst the girl squeaked slightly and then looked at Gibbs with very wild eyes.
“You can see the door?” she asked excitedly.
“What freaking door?” Crocker shouted. “I don’t see a door!”
Gibbs looked at McGee. “You see it?”
“I do. White door, fifty yards away, feels like there’s a howling void behind it.”
“That’s what I see too. Tobias, DiNozzo, Ziva? You see anything?” He got three baffled shakes of the head in response. “Crap. But you can see it, young lady?”
She nodded, before holding out a tentative hand for Gibbs to shake. “Jennifer Mason,” she said. “You can really see it?”
“Jethro Gibbs. And yes, I can.” He squinted at it. “Hinky,” he muttered. “Abby would love this.”
Mason looked at him and then looked at McGee. “And… you can see it too?”
“Yes, I can.” He smiled at her whilst frowning slightly on the inside. There was something off about her. It wasn’t that she had anything supernatural about here, but there was an oddness in the Force that resonated off her.
“You can see it and you can see it and she can see it… ok, apart from Jennifer who the hell are you people again?” Crocker looked as if he was about to explode with a combination of anger, frustration and bewilderment.
“Special Agent Jethro Gibbs,” came the reply as Gibbs walked over the door that was standing in the middle of the field. “NCIS. So – you think that Audrey Parker is behind, or in this thing?”
Crocker ran his right hand through his hair whilst he fumed visibly. Finally he seemed to come to a conclusion. “Fine! I’m going to skin Nate Wuornos alive after this, but fine! Weird Feds… what’s next, Vader in a shuttle?”
McGee looked at him calmly. “You don’t want to say things like that,” he called out as he joined Gibbs at the door. Mason was next to them, shooting them all kinds of slightly creeped-out looks.
“You should never wish out loud. You never know who’s listening. By the way, do you have any family in California?”
This threw Crocker, who opened and closed his mouth a number of times without making a sound before finally coming out with: “What?”
“Do you have any family in California?”
Crocker scratched the back of his head for a second. “I have a few distant cousins. Why?”
“Oh, you look just like a picture I saw in the house of a friend of mine there. It was a memorial to a friend of his who… died. Jesse McNally.”
Crocker froze. “That was a cousin of mine. He died in Sunnydale.”
McGee nodded sombrely. “Yup. Condolences. Dangerous place.” He embraced the Force and then inspected the door carefully. It certainly looked real. It was a white-painted wooden door in a white wooden frame. And yet behind it… there was a nothingness. A void. “Boss, this thing is dangerous.”
“It most certainly is that, Tim.” Gibbs had both eyebrows raised and he looked worried. “Doors like this thing don’t just happen. They’re made. So – who the hell made this thing and why?”
“And what’s on the other side?” He paused. “Wuornos and Hendrickson are here Boss. I can sense them.”
“Me too. And… others.”
“We’re being watched.” He said it quietly so that Mason didn’t hear. Not that she could – she was talking to Crocker, who was regarding them all as if they were a giant grenade with the pin removed.
“I don’t want to use magic here, as I don’t think it would be a good idea. That said, I might not have a choice. You might have to use that lightsabre of yours.”
“That might complicate matters a bit, Boss. But I agree.”
“Good.” Gibbs turned around to face a rather bewildered Wuornos and Hendrickson. “Showtime. Detective Wuornos – why don’t you ask your friends in the treeline to come forwards?”