Ziva David was fuming. Her jaw ached, her pride was severely dented and anyone who got in her way was going to regret it. She strode down the corridors of MacArthur Supply Base, scowling at anyone who even came near.
She was meant to be the expert in unarmed combat. She was not meant to be the one left dazed and confused after a fight. She was not meant to be the one taken out with one kick.
Her Mossad instructors would have practically disowned her on the spot. All those years of practise, the constant sparring, the mastery of krav maga.... and one crazy brunette in tight leather pants takes her out like a rank amateur.
She scowled again as the signs on the wall directed her up a flight of stairs. Taking them two at a time, she continued replaying the fight in her head for the eighth or ninth time. Grudgingly, she had to admit that Faith was good. Real good.
Although, obviously, things would be different next time (and with Gibbs on their trail, she was guaranteed that they would meet again) as she would not be so foolish as to underestimate her opponent.
There it was: the security centre for MacArthur Base. Pushing the door open with great force, she strode into the monitoring centre quickly.
Tony DiNozzo looked up from his position perched next to an attractive redhaired Chief Petty Officer, his hand reaching almost automatically towards his gun (good to see some reflexes had rubbed off on Tony after all these years, though Ziva suspected that this case was getting to him as well). He relaxed when he recognised Ziva. “Hey, how’s the jaw doing?” he asked.
Grrr! Typical DiNozzo, planting himself next to the most attractive female in the room and making fun of her after that, that humiliation! “I am fine, Tony,” she said through gritted teeth, “Ducky checked me out.”
Tony blinked. “I think you mean ‘over’. In fact, I pray to all the gods there are you meant ‘over’.”
Ziva delivered her second best death scowl at Tony, “As you said only last Wednesday to McGee, whatevers.”
She reached the desk where Tony and the CPO were sitting and stared up at the screens around them. “When I contacted Gibbs, he instructed me to locate you, and get caught up on the situation at present.”
Tony nodded, all business now. “Right, here’s the state of play,” he said, nodding to the CPO who expertly brought up a map of MacArthur Supply Base on the main screen. With a few clicks, she narrowed down the focus to just one section.
Tony cocked his head to one side. “Okay,” he said, and pointed at one block. “This is the warehouse where Balboa was found, and here’s where we came in. The main entrance to it. We got exits here, here and here, all too small for getting crates in and out, but suitable for getting people though.”
He made another gesture, and the CPO pulled up three camera feeds next to the main map. “All of which are naturally monitored around the clock, and tapes say nothing and nobody left through them.”
He paused dramatically. Ziva wanted to hit him, but somehow refrained. “Oddly enough, nobody came in through them either. And the main entrance to each warehouse is always manned as we noticed when we came in. They swear nobody got past them either until Balboa went off for her internal patrol.”
Ziva’s brow furrowed. “Then where did those... people... come from?”
“Tucker swears his people are good at their job, and challenged us to find that they did anything hinky at all.”
Ziva scowled again. “They did seem most professional,” she grudgingly admitted. “What else?”
Tony smirked at her, and turned back to the CPO. “Bring up the feed,” he said, still smirking.
This time the feed was from outside the warehouse and from some distance away. Suddenly, a window on the side of the building two floors up broke as a chair came flying through it. Two figures, looking female from that distance, quickly followed it up, climbing through the broken window, and dropping two stories to the ground. They both hit the ground, rolled once and stood up immediately.
“Wow,” Ziva found herself saying, as the two grainy images on the tape faded away as they ducked back around the corner of the warehouse away from the camera viewpoint.
“I know!” said Tony with an odd air in his tone of voice. Ziva flashed a quick glance at him. Maybe Gibbs had been correct to remove Tony from the direct search for this Faith after all.
“Anyhow, before we found all this on the tapes, Gibbs had had Probialicious doing a search inside the warehouse with Tucker’s men, assuming they might still be there.”
He raised one eyebrow at Ziva. This time, she did punch his arm. “Stop with the dramatics, Tony DiNozzo and get to the point!”
Rubbing his arm and with a pained expression on his face, Tony turned to the CPO beside him and pouted. “See, this is what I have to work with.” The CPO was smart enough to only snicker quietly and not catch Ziva’s eye.
“Tony....” she warned.
“Another burn pattern, just like the one in the main centre area,” Tony spoke, edging away slightly. “Dis-used area, kinda dusty, but with that same set of burn marks down either side of the wall. McGee swears that there’s 2 or 3 sets of women’s shoeprints there, but I really don’t want to know how he’s an expert on women’s shoes.”
“You, obviously, were not listening last week when he was talking about his sister Sarah’s birthday.”
“And you know how much I hate it when there’s any prosaic explanation for any of McGee’s little foibles.”
Ziva’s lip twitched in amusement for the first time since she’d woken up on the warehouse floor. “And that, Tony, is why I do so.”
Tony pulled a face, and turned back to the CPO. “Okay, last tape. Roll it!”
This time the tape was of a section of the fence surrounding the base. Timestamp in the corner indicated that it was approximately twenty minutes after the body of Seaman Balboa had been discovered. The sun had just reached that area and was shining brightly down.
From the edge of the screen, a figure appeared. At least, Ziva assumed it was a person, as they were completely covered underneath a tarpaulin. “Must have spotted the cameras,” Tony said quietly besides her.
The body language of the person beneath the tarpaulin seemed to indicate them scanning the area before dragging a very heavy looking metal gas container closer to the fence. Climbing on top of it, the figure (still completely covered) jumped over the tall fence from a standing start, and quickly disappeared into the surrounding woods, and from camera view.
“And the second half,” Tony ordered.
This time, according to the timestamp, it was about five minutes after the previous tape of the warehouse breakout. First Faith, then Buffy came into view of the camera. The brunette in the leather was leading, studying the ground intently, yet still moving fast.
The two of them quickly spotted the moved gas container and its nearness to the fence. The body languages expressed extreme dissatisfaction, and Ziva could almost see Buffy’s foot tapping impatiently on the ground as the two of them conversed.
Finally, they nodded, and leapt up to the top of the container in one jump. Ziva doubted whether she could have even climbed up that so easily, other than with a helping hand. Who were these women? Then, just like the figure under the tarpaulin, one jump and they were across the fence and off into the woods.
“So,” Ziva said, after the playback had stopped, “There is a third person involved.”
Tony looked at her, all pretence of the fool now absent from his face. “Yeah. And it looks like our best chance of finding out what the hell is going on is to find them first.”
Ziva nodded, grimly. “Those women are hunters, despite their appearance. And that, that is most definitely their prey.”
~ + ~