Tony admired the DVD case he had just finished filling. It was beautiful which was only to be expected because Gibbs had made it. He shook his head again. He still couldn’t believe that Gibbs had made it for him. He said he wanted Tony to have something to remind him of Rule #5.
The door chimed and Tony thought it open. He smiled in amazement when it promptly and silently opened admitting a shortish Marine in the enlisted service uniform including the jacket.
“Sergeant Major Scrivens, I’m Tony DiNozzo,” Tony said reaching to shake the man’s hand.
“Sir,” the Marine’s grip wasn’t overbearing which was good as Tony had been a little worried. He eyed the man critically, “I’ve just made some coffee, would like some?”
“Yes, sir,” was the quick reply and Tony snorted thinking of Rule #23. Of course he did, he was Marine.
“Well, follow me and have a seat,” Tony waved at the chairs at the dining table, which was littered on one side with paper printouts and two SGC issued tablets. Tony carried a tray over with coffee service on it and poured two cups.
“I’m going to blunt, Sergeant Major, did you want my job?” Tony asked meeting the eyes of the other man.
“No, sir,” he replied with a faint smile, “Too much paperwork for this Marine.”
“It is a lot of paperwork.” Tony grinned, “I understand you’ve been John’s highest ranking NCO for a while and he relied on you for base security in Pegasus.”
“Yes, sir, I was his First Sergeant then. I was promoted when we realized there would be such an increase in personnel.”
Tony nodded and motioned for the man to continue. “Sheppard requested a First Sergeant to wrangle the Marines as well as the equivalent from each military represented. My role will be to coordinate with them and provide one point of contact for command regarding enlisted personnel on base.”
“We have, what five separate branches of the military?”
“Yes, sir. We have military from the USAF, USMC, US Navy, RCAF and Royal Marines.”
Tony leaned back, “They each have NCOs assigned to maintain discipline in the enlisted, right?”
Scrivens nodded and Tony continued, “But no dedicated police force, that’s where I come in or rather my department comes in. The military will assign security patrols, under my direction, and any crimes will be reported to the Atlantean Security Forces,” Tony grinned at the man’s questioning look, “Woolsey let me name it.” Tony sobered, “Have you reviewed the personnel files that have been cleared?”
“Sir, my opinion was not asked in your hiring,” Scrivens said stiffly.
“No doubt, Scrivens,” Tony snorted, “but that isn’t what I asked. Have you seen the files, officially or otherwise?”
“Right, did anyone jump out and scream ‘hire me’ at you?”
“Only you, sir,” Scrivens said wryly.
“Well, that’s good,” Tony laughed, “Anybody else you think you could work with? Because let’s face it, I need to hire people who can work with military and civilians. You’d be a better judge for the military side”
“No one else, sir. You were with NCIS and, in my mind, that made you a perfect choice.”
Tony sighed, “I’d still be NCIS if Vance hadn’t decided he didn’t want to promote me.”
“Sir?” questioned Scrivens. Tony raised one finger and poked at a tablet before handing it to Scrivens. The dulcet tones of Rodney McKay were soon heard. Tony leaned back and watched the Marine watch the footage Abby had given him. It would explain why Tony was no longer with NCIS better than any explanation he could give. After it finished, Scrivens began doing something on the tablet.
“Whatcha doing?” Tony asked.
Scrivens looked up with an impish gleam in his eye, “Posting this to the 3M section of the Wiki.”
“Magnificent McKay Moments,” he explained with a sly smile, “It’s where we post videos of McKay at his finest. This is pretty tame but Sheppard delivers a smack down and that is golden.”
Tony laughed. He really liked this place.
Tony looked around the suite of rooms he had chosen as the office space for the newly formed ASF. Apparently, Rodney, or one of his geeks, had hacked NCIS, USMC CID, and AFOSI to find out what the standard set up was for a new field office. And then for good measure, they had hacked the CFMP and the SIB of the Royal Navy Police. After eliminating the obvious duplicates, they acquired the rest of the items on the lists and deposited them in this space. They had given Tony three days to sort his apartment out and now it was time to work on this mess.
The door slid open and in strolled Tony’s old friend, the RMO.
“Johnny,” Tony said, “Come to help me?”
“Afraid not,” John said with a grin, “Just came to see how you are settling in.”
Tony waved to the mess in front of them, “I’m not. I’m still trying to decide where to start.”
John chuckled, “McKay said the geeks got you some stuff.”
Tony glared at him, “Some stuff? I have the stuff to set up five different field offices.”
“Yeah, I know,” John smirked, “Rodney does nothing by half. I know Scrivens is on leave but you can request to have some soldiers assigned to help. Just talk to First Sergeant Kasprzak.”
“Okay,” Tony breathed out a sigh, “What I really need to do is pick the two other personnel first. Woolsey tells me the IOA is very interested in that.”
John hummed and Tony continued, “He, or rather they, aren’t pressuring me to choose anyone specific. Just that they come from the pool of candidates that have already been cleared. And wow, can I say that there are some awe-inspiring people in that pool.”
John nodded, “You were the best of the bunch.”
“No way,” Tony stared at John, “Really?”
John nodded again as Tony shook his head in disbelief, “Well, I know the IOA wants to limit US influence. Did you realize that they don’t consider me a US selection?”
John nodded, “A US agency refused to appoint you so they figure you are sympathetic to their cause.”
“Right,” Tony snorted, “Well, they can think that all they want. I’ll be making the best choices for my team regardless of where they are from.”
John grinned and nodded, “You would have anyway.”
“True,” Tony allowed, “So, I’m leaning towards another cousin of Rodney’s.”
John raised his eyebrows and Tony continued, “Corporal Benton Fraser of the RCMP.”
“Ah, the nice one,” John said.
“The nice one?”
“Yeah, Rodney calls him Dudley Do-Right.”
“He is no Dudley,” Tony retorted, “Do-Right was incompetent. He was just very lucky and had a great horse. Fraser is extremely competent.”
“Well, he is a McKay.”
“Yeah, they do tend excel at what they do, don’t they?” Tony laughed, “He has a partner, a Chicago PD Detective Ray Kowalski. They’ve worked together for over a decade and seemed to alternate between the US and Canada investigations. They’ve done some impressive work but decline any promotions that might separate them. There are several reports of people who believe they are lovers but it doesn’t appear to be true. Both are natural gene holders.”
“Tony,” John said gently, “It’s your call.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m just,” he waved a hand, “adjusting. It’s a little unnerving to go from SFA to Director.”
John snorted, “I have faith.”
“Thanks, I think. But I’m concerned about Fraser and Kowalski,” at John’s puzzled look he continued, “They have never lead a team, either separately or together. Except when it’s part of a larger op, and that concerns me. If this department expands the way I like to see it do, then I’ll need people with proven leadership skills. And if it doesn’t, I’ll need people who can command the respect of the soldiers I’ll have to assign them to work with and that means proven leadership skills.”
John leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling for a few moments.
“Deep thoughts there, Colonel, wanna share?”
John focused on Tony, “Is this their only weakness? Do they need to have the leadership skills now or can you mentor them? Or can you hire someone with the skills you need later and have them remain in a subordinate role if they decide they don’t want the responsibility? Remember, you’ll need to hire someone from the UK sooner rather than later.”
John’s radio crackled, “Sheppard here,” a slight pause, “Understood,” and then “On my way.”
“Go,” Tony said shooing him away, “You raised some good points. Thanks.”
Tony looked around, sighed then clicked his radio, “DiNozzo to Woolsey.”
“Well, this is the office,” Tony waved his hands around, “Home away from home.”
“What is all this stuff?” Ray Kowalski asked as he looked around alarmed at the state of the office.
“It’s,” Tony shook his head, “a mess. It is the equipment lists for a field office for NCIS, USMC CID, AFOSI, CFMP, and SIB of the Royal Navy. Less the obvious duplicates.”
Benton and Ray turned to stare at Tony and he laughed, “The Geeks were being helpful.”
“I’m sure most of it will be useful once we have some order,” Benton said.
“Yeah,” retorted Ray, “Some order. Reminds me of your office at the consulate.”
Benton nodded and turned to Tony, “Where would you like us to start?”
“Let’s block out where everything should go. First Sergeant Krasprzak is sending five soldiers to help in about 30 minutes,” Tony said and pointed to a doorway, “I think we should use this area as reception and visitor seating, and the space through that door as a bullpen.”
Four hours later, Tony sent the five men back to the First Sergeant. They had been immensely helpful. The ASF offices were set up with a reception area out front with uncomfortable ancient seating and a basic desk with a computer that was hooked into the Atlantis Intranet. The bullpen had a LAN with its own isolated server so they didn’t have to worry about someone hacking their, as yet non-existent, case files. Tony had spent a couple of hours comparing the software for tracking cases and, surprisingly, he found the CFMP system the best. Since the military in Canada had unified, their system had to be flexible to adapt to cases from their army, navy and air force. It meant a bit of a learning curve but it had been the clear winner. Tony made a note to order more flash drives. They would need to use these to move information between the LAN and Intranet. Dr. Kaur Chaudhri had been assigned to help them with the connections to the Internet and setting up the LAN. She had also brought dedicated tablets for them that were network disabled. Connecting the tablets to the docks in the office would sync them with the LAN. Tony liked the idea that his case files were completely separate from the Intranet. Dr. Chaudhri had also taught each of them how to download their emails from the Intranet to flash drives so it could be transferred to the LAN. It was cumbersome but worth it in Tony’s opinion. There were entirely too many geniuses on Atlantis.
“Are these tablet thingies really necessary? Paper works great, you know,” Ray said.
“Well,” Tony replied, “in Pegasus we will have limited access to paper.”
“In Pegasus,” Ray shook his head in wonder, “Really finding it hard to believe we can go to another planet, let alone another galaxy.”
“We will experience that for ourselves,” Benton injected, “As we leave for the three-week intensive course at the SGC tomorrow.”
“That’ll give you three weeks here alone,” Ray looked to Tony who nodded.
“I’m sure the Director will be fine, Ray,” Benton said.
“Tony, please in private call me Tony.”
“Thank you kindly, Dr. DiNozzo, but no. During working hours, I will accord you the respect your position demands.”
“So if I invite you to my place for dinner, you’ll call me Tony there?”
Benton and Ray exchanged a look and Ray rolled his eyes, “Yeah, sure. Outside of a work environment, we’ll call you Tony.”
“Excellent, I’ll make lasagna. Be at my place by 1800,” Tony smirked at the two men.
Monday morning found Tony at the computer in reception reading his work related email. There were some large files attached to a series of emails that needed more examination. He had a long list of things to do today and this was a complication he did not need.
After a three-hour meeting with Woolsey about budget constraints, and how crazy is it that he hasn’t done any ordering but he’s already over budget, Tony had lunch with Rodney and John in the new Officer’s dining facility.
“Are you sure I’m allowed in here?” Tony asked. Rodney rolled his eyes as John nodded.
“Department heads are considered Officer’s. It’s determined by pay grade and your’s is high enough to eat here. Benton and Cow’s are not.”
“Cow?” Tony laughed, “Ray is not that hard to remember, Rodney.”
Rodney harrumphed as John laughed. Tony smiled apparently Rodney’s inability to remember anyone’s name was legendary. During his first week on Atlantis, Tony had realized that Rodney knew everyone’s name he just refused to admit it. Tony wasn’t sure what prompted this coping mechanism, and he was sure it was one, but he’d tease out the full story eventually. He sighed and at the questioning look from John, “I was just thinking I don’t know where Gibbs got his rules from. I’d been wanting to know for years and every time I ask he ignores me.”
“Hmmm,” Rodney said around a mouth full of mashed potatoes after swallowing he gave Tony a pointed glare, “I wonder what he would be so reluctant to talk about?”
Tony blinked as that statement made his brain explode, “Shannon,” he whispered softly, Rodney rolled his eyes and nodded, “Shannon.”
John looked at his husband with a raised eyebrow, “Shannon was Jethro’s wife. She and their daughter Kelly were killed in a car accident.”
“Murdered,” corrected Tony, “It was no accident.”
Rodney closed his eyes, “I was overseas working on a project at the time. I didn’t learn about their deaths for almost a year. Nest was working undercover and it was closer for 2 for her. Uncle Jacks said they weren’t speaking when I reached out to him. Never did learn why.”
Tony held up a finger as he swallowed, “He took a date to the funeral.”
John choked on his food as Rodney gaped at Tony who nodded. Rodney rolled his eyes, “Uncle Jacks was always a little selfish. He often couldn’t see beyond his own wants. Aunt Ann was a McKay and that should explain everything.”
“It is so weird to hear someone talk about Gibbs like he’s normal,” Tony said.
“He is normal,” Rodney complained, “compared to the rest of us. He’s smart but joined the Marines. He could have done so much more as an engineer but no. He’s a cop and builds boats in his basement. Please. He is normal,” Rodney tilted his head considering, “But he’d have been even more wasted being a shopkeeper like his father wanted.”
Tony nodded in agreement and the three men ate quietly for a few minutes.
“Oh, I almost forgot to ask,” Tony reached for his tablet, “How do I tell who sent me some emails?”
“You look at the from address?” Rodney asked sarcastically.
“Ha ha,” Tony replied, “It’s blank.”
“Blank?” Rodney made grabby hands and Tony passed him the tablet. He poked at it and harrumphed. “You downloaded them to this.”
“Yes,” Tony agreed, “from the computer in reception.” Rodney handed the tablet back, “I need to see that computer.” He stood up grabbing his tray, “Well, come on. I only have about 10 minutes to look. Move it!”
“Better go,” John said.
“The door’s locked,” Tony said smugly, “He won’t be able to get in.”
John laughed, “There isn’t a door on Atlantis that can keep Rodney out. Or me for that matter.”
Tony jumped up, “Take care of my tray for me?” He called as he ran from the room.
He found Rodney seated at the computer in reception.
“What?” Rodney asked surprised at Tony’s disgruntled appearance.
“Just how hard was opening the door?”
“It opened like every door does,” Rodney replied puzzled. Tony hung his head. Then looked at Rodney seriously, “I need to make the office secure. How do I keep you out?”
Rodney leaned back, “You don’t. You can’t keep John out either. We both have total and complete access to all of Atlantis’ system. Well, the ones she wants us to use. Occasionally, we’ll run into an area she has locked down but we’ve convinced her to send John and I priority emails when that happens. The doors she locks us out of are the really dangerous shit. Why?”
“I need the office secure, Rodney.”
“Hmm, let me think about it. Maybe we can have Atlantis notify you when someone unauthorized opens the door. I’m not real comfortable not having access but I understand your concern. I’ll work on it or have Chaudhri do it, okay?”
Tony nodded, “Atlantis sends you emails?”
“Yes, and you as well. These emails that have the blank from address? They came from the central computer that controls the city so they’re from Atlantis.”
“We have found no evidence of that,” Rodney looked at Tony, “The IOA was very happy when we confirmed we found no AI.”
Tony nodded. He got it – no suggesting Atlantis was intelligent. Rodney’s radio crackled, “McKay here.” Pause “On my way.”
“Go,” Tony said, “I’ll look over the emails and see if I can figure out what she’s trying to tell me.”
Rule 23: Never mess with a Marine’s coffee if you want to live.