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The Metal of a Man

by: Matt51 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 4449
Rating: ADULT
Warning(s): Violence, Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ducky Mallard, Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, Jenny Shepard, Caitlyn (Kate) Todd, Other Female Character, Other Male Character
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Future, Hurt/Comfort
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Tony/OFC, Tony/OMC
Summary: The future world has come a very dark and dangerous place and, to insure safety and justice for all, extreme methods are being implemented by a contingency of visionaries.

Author Notes: Added warnings: Angst, non-con, anal play, bit of kink.
This is a little bit NCIS meets 'A.I.' meets 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' meets 'Bicentennial Man' meets...eh, I don't know, just a whole bunch of ideas.

Chapters: 1

Disclaimer: Most of these characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement intended.


The Earth as we once knew it has changed dramatically, altered and moved in a direction I never would have expected…at least, not in my lifetime. I’d had a boyhood filled with bright, sparkling days of endless summer sunshine, with clear, blue, crystalline skies and fresh, clean air. I’d experienced the joys of swimming in lakes and ponds, jumping heedlessly and exuberantly from docks or banks, splashing handfuls and spewing mouthfuls of brisk water in carefree, youthful abandon. I’d had the opportunity to ski and hike in knee-deep, white, pristine snow along the backwoods of my granddaddy’s property in West Virginia, plowing around cedars heavy with a coating of fresh powder and excitedly tracking the deep prints left by rabbits and deer around thickets and shrubs. I’d watched the seasonal migration of ducks and geese overhead while lying flat in an old hay field, the air so full of the graceful, lively flocks that, sometimes, it seemed the sky was nothing more than a playground for their boisterous, ear-splitting antics. I can remember verdant green hills and clear blue water and sunsets which painted the evening skies with vibrant golds and reds and oranges, the combining tendrils of fiery hues holding on and streaking across the expanse of the horizon like running watercolors, until the purple and indigoes of night ultimately extinguished the dying light of day. If I close my eyes, I can still see it all so clearly…

…until the moment I reopen them. Then, reality hits too hard and I’ve just found it easier not to think back to those days of my boyhood. I’m living and working in the here and now and it does me…and those around me…absolutely no good to sit and mourn for what we once had. As my daddy used to say, we’ve made our bed and, now, we have to lay in it.

The trouble is, this ‘bed’ we made didn’t just start with my generation but began long ago when there were no thoughts of what the quest for civilization and industry and technology could do to the environment and, for that matter, life on the planet as a whole. It was almost an innocuous enemy, stealing into day-to-day life, sneaking up on us until it was almost too late. We’d strangled ecosystems with plastic bags and Styrofoam cups and enough discarded aluminum cans to build several hundred-thousand skyscrapers. Raw sewage floated in streams and rivers and landfills were rapidly changing the contour of the landscape into barely disguised rotting masses of heaped, stinking garbage. Uncountable tons of waste were dumped into the oceans, fumes and toxins were emitted from factories and automobiles, and the decline or extinction of many species of insects and animals heralded the beginning of the end for mankind. Still, populations refused to recognize and change, even after scientists issued stern warnings concerning Earth’s ozone layer and global warming.

Farms and settlements gave way to towns and cities as populations grew and swelled, stretching and expanding the boundaries of every country around the world. Fractions arose, disputes were waged, and wars erupted and were fought with an arsenal of armaments so vile that it only brought more devastation to the environment. Oil fields were burned, tankers were sunk, bioweapons employed, and, still, governments persisted in exhibiting deadly force against their enemies, all in the name of world power and, oddly enough, of peace. Bombs were dropped, military personnel and civilians alike perished, and Earth almost became a choked, angry cinder amongst the heavenly jewels sparkling in the rich ebony of the expansive universe.

Just when it looked as if we were on the fast track to extinction, we’d unexpectedly heard from beings outside our own galaxy. It was then that Mankind had stopped killing itself. It was then that governmental heads of state and bureaucrats and muckedy-mucks ceased the arguing and the name-calling and the sure path to genocide by heeding the voices of our alien visitors. Only, in my eyes, it’d been a damn shame it took something like that to get our collective heads out of our asses and an even a bigger shame we couldn‘t have done it all by ourselves. We’d been so busy trying to kill each other…and, by default, our planet…that we’d forgotten about how really small the Earth is in the grander scheme of the universe. Obviously, Big Brother was alive and well and had been watching from afar, not caring one iota for the mess we’d gotten ourselves into. The aliens gave us a spark of hope, right when everything appeared hopeless.

Within the past five years, Earth has made a remarkable recovery, though some things will never be the same. We can’t bring back all those things we lost during the years of madness, like certain, extinct species or, more importantly, the millions of innocent victims that perished so carelessly and so needlessly along the way. We lost several generations during the chaos, biotoxins killing the very young and the very old in just a matter of mere weeks. The world-wide body count had been staggering.

Adding to the horror of the human toll, every country around the world lost priceless artifacts and treasures because of the planned military strikes and the random suicide bombers, including those housed within the Louvre Museum in Paris to the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Great Wall of China. The Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil was toppled in one attack while the Vatican in Rome was reduced to rubble in another. The Statue of Liberty came down in a rain of shattered pieces, as did the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The bombs destroyed indiscriminately, taking away our past as well as our present.

The alien visitors, who’d remained aloof and unidentifiable to most while they‘d helped us begin healing, did an admirable job of fixing what they could before they left us alone again: we now have breathable air, our oceans are, once again, fairly clean, and any weapons of mass destruction once belonging to any of the nations of the world have been confiscated and taken away, destroyed somewhere out there amongst the stars. The aliens didn’t come to rule or subjugate…they came to offer us another chance to live but left with one stipulation: no biowarfare and no weapons of mass destruction. Ever.

I don’t think they’re willing to give us another chance and, I believe, would blithely turn their backs to us if we ever got into that shape again. Honestly, if we ever got like that again, it would serve us right to cease to exist. We just don’t deserve this planet.

So, life continues. Yes, there’re still disputes between countries and, sure, there’s still military forces stationed around the world, keeping a watchful eye trained on problematic areas, but, now, there’s a real sense of apprehension when it comes down to any real warfare. The aliens took what bioweapons we all had secretly stockpiled away but they left the scientists who had the knowledge to recreate them within our midst. The potential for disaster remains…and that makes everyone real uneasy.

Oh…and they left something else, too. Something that is about to change my life forever.

I knew what it was, right from the moment NCIS Director Tom Morrow’s personal, handwritten, sealed instructions appeared mysteriously on my desk late one Friday evening, and I’d immediately realized no formally worded complaint or privately delivered appeal I could ever mount would keep the inevitable from happening. It was a done deal, plain and simple, and no matter what I thought or said or did would make one scrap of difference to anyone. The die had already been cast by those ‘visionaries‘ who, more than likely, had absolutely no background in law enforcement and sure as hell would never listen to someone like me. They’d taken their directions straight from the alien visitors, following a path set up to help protect the world from future ruin, and never wavered in their quest.

I’ve never held an illusion to who I really am in the grand scheme of life. Hell, no. I know I’m just considered a small cog in the wheel of this sizable mechanism, a minor player in the overall, dramatic presentation, a peon among the movers and shakers and intellectuals who run this and the other federal organizations across the country. No, what I thought didn’t amount to a hill of beans to anyone but me and my current team of agents. The decision had already been made by those in power, the appropriate paperwork submitted, accepted, signed, and filed away…probably years ago, when the alien visitors were still hovering nearby…and all those with the proper level of clearance considered this unprecedented assignment nothing more than merely a temporary but necessary stepping stone in a mostly unknown, closely guarded, secret governmental plan for the future of the Nation’s…and, eventually…the world’s law enforcement community.

And I was going to be intimately involved, right from the moment of implementation, whether I wanted to be or not. But let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t take lightly to being anyone’s stepping stone. Oh, hell, no.

Tom Morrow knows exactly how I feel about this subject, knows precisely how I’d react when informed of the decision, so his tightly worded, bluntly written missive went to great lengths to clearly remind me of my sworn duty to my job, my country, and, yes, even to Mankind itself. What a fucking, manipulative bastard.

The Director has an uncanny way of maneuvering around any roadblocks I can erect when we disagree on procedures or protocols and is never above using our long-time friendship to get what he wants. And he’s remarkably good at his job, brilliant in fact. He would, predictably, use his finely trained oratorical skills to sway me to his way of thinking, twisting my outward defiance and words of refusal until I submit…or, at least, stop voicing my disagreement so loudly. He knows he can always depend on me to do the proverbial ‘right thing’ when it comes to the safety and protection of those who are, first and foremost, in the service of the United States of America: the fighting men and women of the Navy and the Marines.

Did I mention he’s a bastard? Well, he is.

He knows how I feel about those in uniform, knows I took this job years ago, after my own honorable discharge from the Marines, so I could specifically help those associated with that branch of the military. But the fact he also willingly pushes the limits of our personal friendship and sometimes strains our strong professional bond just doesn’t seem to bother him one, single bit…not like it does me. He sees this as a positive direction for NCIS, sees it as the ‘new frontier’ for law enforcement, sees it as a chance to really begin making a difference in the battle against the ranks of continuing terrorism across the globe.

I can only see it as one, big, honking FUBAR.

To make matters even worse, current NCIS Assistant Director Jen Shepard is viewing the whole event as a feather in our caps and has declared the selection of *her* agency as the prototype’s testing ground a combination of her intense, highly influential lobbying skills and plain, old-fashioned good luck. I almost couldn’t stomach seeing that wicked, scheming gleam in her eyes or the shark-like glitter of her small, white teeth when she announced the committee’s choice at a recent supervisory agents’ meeting. It still just about makes my stomach turn each time I look her way..

But that was nothing compared to the predator-like air that hangs around her every day now. She watches everything from a position up by the high railing just outside MTAC like a hawk, her cool, sharp eyes looking down on us at our desks, making sure the training we’ll be needing to ‘handle’ our newest addition is thorough and extensive and very exhausting, and has taken, at times, to almost screeching and hissing when anyone or anything goes contrary to her wishes or ruffles her feathers. It almost seems as if this is what she feels she’s been waiting for her whole career…and all I can see is we’re about to make the biggest mistake of our professional lives.

This prototype we’ll be receiving soon, this ‘Agent Assistant Android‘ unit…or Triple A as it’s been whispered about around the communal water cooler…is going to be her new pet project and, unfortunately, I know she plans to drop the…thing…solely in my lap, per Tom Morrow‘s instructions. All the team leaders have been doing the same time-consuming prep work, have been grooming to handle the specifics of making this…thing…an integrated part of the organization but I know, without a doubt, it’s going to be coming my way first. I’ve seen the signs, can read Shepard’s body language pretty damn well now, and know when the official announcement comes, it’ll be my name she utters. The other supervisors know it, too, and there’s a strangely combined undercurrent of relief and jealousy running the gambit through the individual teams. They’re secretly glad they won’t have to personally fool with this new, unwanted addition but, like everything else, they’re envious of the prestige and honor the placement is supposed to bring to the ‘hosting‘ team.

Prestige and honor. Give me a fucking break.

Nevertheless, I’ve been making sure my agents are prepared for the inevitable. It’s the least I can do for them. They’ll be working side by side with this…thing…and have to be able to understand the hows and the whys and whats of it’s systems, prepared to use it’s programs in sync with our other ’normal’ procedures, and be able to rely on it for quick, accurate assessments at crime scenes and when interviewing potential suspects. It’s supposed to make all our jobs easier but I don’t know how in the hell that’s all going to be accomplished. I can tell both McGee and Todd are already building up walls, have heard them snidely whisper comments about ‘Robocop’ or ‘Data’ or ‘Gort’ to each other when they think I’m not paying attention. That’s okay…I have no idea what I’ll be calling this…thing…either, so those fictional names are all good to me, too. But what *does* bother me is the divide this is causing between us and our colleagues. I’ve seen their strained, almost-forced attempts at keeping personal connections with the members of the other NCIS teams intact and, unfortunately, have witnessed some failures. This is pressure none of us needs at this point.

This…thing…hasn’t even arrived yet and we’ve already been all but ostracized by our peers. What’s going to happen when it’s finally present? Honestly, I shudder to consider the possibilities.

“Boss.”

Tim McGee’s soft voice pulls my attention away from my unproductive musings and I quickly glance in his direction, realizing the scowl I have on my face is probably what’s making him look so nervous. I keep my smirk minimized and can’t help but wonder if he’ll always be this edgy around me. Frankly, I hope so…or at least until I decide to retire.

“What?” I ask, adding a bit of bark. Not too much…wouldn’t want him to start stammering.

“I…I…”

Too late. He’s stuttering already and it‘s not even noon.

“Spit it out, McGee,” I huff and cut my gaze toward the pile of paperwork near my right hand. It contains more about the…thing…that should be arriving at NCIS headquarters today but I’m doing everything in my power to ignore it. I’ve already read enough crap to know I’m not going to like it, no matter what the combined experts at MIT, Stanford, the European Robotics Research Network, or the Naval Research Laboratories have to say about it. Hell, there’s so many foreign countries involved in this project, including Germany, Japan, and Great Britain, this…thing…may not even speak English. I push that thought roughly away and sigh. When nothing else comes from McGee, I raise my eyes back toward my junior agent. “Well?”

“Security just called,” he swallows raggedly and his eyes are as big as saucers. As in, *cups* and saucers…not *flying* saucers, though, realistically, either analogy would probably work in this instance. Since our little indoctrination into the wonders of our distant, celestial neighbors, that distinction now has to be made. “You’ve got a visitor on the way in.”

I frown openly, not caring if it makes his stammering any worse. “*A* visitor? Singular? Not more than one?” I can’t imagine anyone allowing that…thing…to move unaccompanied anywhere among humans…not without causing all kinds of complications or, in my opinion, stampedes. I shrug and shake my head. “It can’t be our Triple A then. Must be some liaison or company flunky, here to shove more crap in our faces before it arrives.”

“Could be that pretty redhead that picked you up from our last crime scene,” Caitlin Todd offers with a gracious, but knowing, smile. She props an elbow on the surface of her desk, drops her chin to one, closed fist, and coyly arches an eyebrow my way. “You still haven’t given us her identity, you know.”

“And I never plan to,” I deadpan back quickly, not wanting to open my personal life up to anymore speculation…especially not with them.

“Oh, come on, Gibbs, just a name would be fine,” she persists and I have to wonder when she got so bold. True, she’s been with me longer than McGee but they both know I don’t do ‘personal’ while on the job…or any other time, for that matter.

I just grunt in response and, when the elevator dings, look quickly over the dividing panels to see who disembarks. The metal doors part and out comes Valdez and Reynolds…and someone else I don’t recognize. He’s tall and fairly young and walks with an easy, open gait. He says something quickly to Valdez, catching the Hispanic woman by surprise, and she whirls to face him, her usually stoic face breaking into a pleased grin. They exchange some words, a few of which I can barely hear, and I realize immediately they’re communicating in Spanish. I frown, taking in his finely tailored suit and his carefully coiffed hairstyle, instantly recognizing him for what he is: just some damn, company lackey. I should have known.

Just as Valdez begins to turn and raise a hand to point in my direction, I slant my focus away from their position and heave a heavy sigh. I don’t need to continue watching to know he’s going to be heading my way. After all the information I’ve already read and absorbed about that…thing…why would I now need some posturing messenger to bring me more? I can hear the soft footfalls on the thin carpeting in front of Todd’s desk and know he’s already entered my team’s work space.

“Agent Gibbs?” The tenor voice is strong and steady but I don’t look up. Let the turd wait a bit. This is my turf and this will be played my way.

After a few silent moments, I decide he’s waited long enough and speak but I continue to keep my eyes on my work. “You here about that …” I scramble around in my head to find the correct designation. It probably wouldn’t be good to call it a ‘thing’ right now, no matter how much I want to say it. “…Agent Assistant Android?”

“Yes, I am.”

Crap. “That’s what I thought.” Throwing my pen down, I push slightly back in my chair, and lace my fingers loosely behind my head, looking up and getting my first real look at the tall man. He offers a small, closed-mouth smile but there’s no humor or friendliness reflected in the depths of his green eyes and I can tell he’s assessing me just as much as I’m assessing him. I let my gaze travel downward, as far as the desk between us will allow, and even though the dark suit hides much, I can tell he’s in good physical condition. Probably plays squash or polo or some other expensive, dumbass, rich-boy, sport. When I slowly work my way back to his face, he’s got his head tilted at a strange, almost bird-like angle and is waiting patiently. There also seems to be a knowing look in his eyes and, maybe, a bit of a smirk, too, and I really don’t like that expression at all. If fact, it really pisses me off. “Well?” I snap. “I’m waiting.”

“You’ve received all the pertinent details concerning your unit? Understand all the specifics?“

“God, I hope so,” I sit up tiredly and cast a wary eye his way. “You’re not here to deliver any more company crap, are you?”

“Crap?” There’s a fleeting, slightly bewildered expression that almost concerns me. Almost but not quite. “No, no more company crap.”

“That’s good.” I’m inordinately relieved. I decide to just get this little chitchat over with as quickly as possible and let this strange, corporate minion get back to his boss. Both Todd and McGee haven‘t done a lick of work since pretty boy waltzed into our space and they need to get back on track. Immediately. “So, you’re here to deliver the thing?” I barely contain my wince and try to gloss over my flippant wording. “Our Triple A unit, I mean.”

“Yes. Your Triple A unit.”

He just stands there, staring at me with those peculiar eyes, and I have to wonder if he’s actually some company bigwig’s mentally damaged nephew, entrusted to do nothing more than deliver simple notices and fetch coffee for his doting uncle and his corporate associates. But I immediately have to rethink that assessment because there’s clear intelligence in that gaze…and an innocence that’s pretty unnerving. I stand up and round my desk, facing him toe to toe.

“So, do we have to go through some protocols to switch it over from your guidance to mine,” I growl irritably, ready to end this oddly disconcerting confrontation, “or is it already set to the parameters of the new assignment?”

“It’s ready to go.” There’s a small smile playing around the corners of his mouth that almost makes his face look boyish…and, dare I say it…charming. He reaches into the depths of his inside, breast pocket and reveals a crisply folded sheet of paper, his slim fingers passing it to me without hesitation. “Just put your signature and date on the appropriate lines and deliver it to Director Morrow.”

“That’s it?” I ask, opening the sheet as I begin to walk toward the staircase leading up toward MTAC and Morrow’s office.

“That’s it.”

“And when can I expect delivery of the…” I barely catch myself this time, “unit?”

There’s a slight hesitation and I pause on the first step to look back at our visitor, seeing his perplexed expression. I frown but wait.

“Agent Gibbs,” he takes a few steps toward my position and looks up at me, “I think there’s been some type of misunderstanding.”

Well, crap. Now what? “Exactly what *kind* of misunderstanding?”

“Your Triple A unit is already here.”

“At NCIS headquarters?” I ask for clarification.

“Yes, that‘s correct.”

“In one of the labs?” I think my query is a pretty logical assumption and the…thing…is probably getting a careful once-over from Ducky and Abby and any other tech who’ll be working with my team. And, as much as I hate to admit it, now that the day of delivery has finally arrived, I’m a little anxious to see this remarkable bit of technology, too.

“No, not in one of the labs.”

Okay, not in the lab. I’m momentarily stymied by this negation but my thoughts instantly fly to my next option. My eyes automatically track up toward Morrow’s domain and, thinking back on the months of Shepard’s unflattering, unfettered glee, I can just about imagine how she’s running her coveting, greedy, little hands all over the…thing…and salivating with a disturbing kind of pseudo-lust. “With the Directors then. Must have been delivered before I arrived this morning.”

I haven’t even taken a half-step before he’s opening his yap again, stopping me cold before I have the chance to move. “No, Agent Gibbs…not with the Directors.”

I turn to face him fully, ready to ream him another asshole, my anger and frustration almost getting the better of me now. Almost. I’m tired of his presence, tired of his non-specific answers, and extremely tired of his weirdly manufactured little smirks.

And then it hits me…hard. I don’t want to believe what my gut is telling me but there’s just no denying the evidence. And I could kick myself for overlooking the obvious. *He’s* the damn Agent Assistant Android unit, in all it’s fabricated, fake, flesh-like covering and it’s fancy, fine-fabric tailored glory, and it makes my real skin crawl to think I didn’t have a fucking clue to his true identity when he walked off the elevator only minutes ago. I level my gaze at the human imposter and, this time, it offers me a genuinely warm, sincere, human-looking smile. My stomach clenches and churns in rising anger and utter revulsion. Nothing made by man should ever look this lifelike. Nothing.

I suddenly find I hate this…*thing*…even more than ever.


TBC















Chapters: 1

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MTAC - NCIS Fic