Somewhere in Virginia
Abby Sciuto gradually regained consciousness, wishing she hadn't after she fully awoke.
The forensic scientist for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was loosely bound to a large pole inside of a barn with rope. Her legs also were bound with rope, more tightly than her arms and hands.
An empty barn, she thought. And whoever 'tied' my hands up didn't know how to tighten the rope.
She remembered the time right after Mikel Mawher went away to jail (hopefully forever) when Gibbs showed her what to do if she were to be abducted. While it didn't hurt that the ropes weren't very tight, Gibbs's lessons were handy in unraveling the bindings.
Once Abby got her hands and arms loose from the pole, she hopped around the barn until she found an old rototiller and a rusty screwdriver. Nearly a half-hour later, she had taken apart the machine until she jury-rigged a knife that she used to cut her legs loose.
Free of her bindings, Abby sought the closest way out of her surroundings...which seemed familiar, although she knew she had never been there before.
I'll figure it out later. Right now, I need to get out of here. Abby walked out a side door as quickly as she could.
She stopped when she saw him standing next to his motorcycle.
"Oh God," she muttered, as he took off his helmet. "Omigod, omigod, OMIGOD."
"Is that one of your American idioms? Or a most unusual manner of greeting someone?" said a man who possibly couldn't be alive that, as far as Abby knew, had been killed by Gibbs. "I believe you recognize me, Abigail, but in case you have forgotten my name, I am Ari Haswari."
The man who appeared to Abby like a demonic ghost pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her. "I see you are out for a walk? Unfortunately, I cannot allow you to go very far. One never knows what dangers lurk out here in the countryside. So I insist you go back inside...so you may not suffer the same fate as befell Caitlin."
Abby tried to run. Her fear of the man slowly walking towards her -- his handgun aimed at her forehead -- paralyzed her.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Tobias Fornell sat at his desk, gnawing on a piece of bread and wondering about his sanity.
He heard the news about an incident at Rock Creek Park from a colleague and about the leprechaun at the Navy Yard. Fornell himself had met people claiming to be time travelers and Civil War-era soldiers and a familiar looking family of eight he couldn't possibly have seen in real life. Then there were the incidents with Gibbs.
All of this led Fornell to this point in time: staring at the television monitor next to his desk and trying to judge whether he, too, has lost his mind.
Fornell finally determined that, for now, he was still sane.
More or less.
"If I decide to remarry Diane, then I'm really losing it," he said to himself. Reaching for the remote, he flipped through the channels on the TV, settling for ZNN. He turned up the volume.
"--we have with us Dr. Matthew Breedlove, a historian at Georgetown University and an expert in the field of counterfactuals and alternate history. Doctor, welcome."
"Thank you, Ms. Sterling."
"Doctor, in the interest of time, I'll cut to the chase. There's a massive amount of confusion as to what's going on right now. We've asked you here to explain the effect, not the cause."
"Well, I'll do my best. It IS interesting to me that these phenomenons began with the appearance of the bat--"
"Isn't 'alien space bat' a term used in your field of expertise, Doctor?"
"No. It originated in what is popularly known as 'alternate history' and also as 'counterfactuals'. Alternate history explores what could have happened if a historical event, or events, occurred differently."
Fornell hoped the historian would explain things better than the science-fiction writer the Bureau brought in on the second day of the phenomenon. The best-selling author's explanation confused Fornell and a lot of agents, and his speaking manner put some others to sleep.
The 'American Revolution failed' and 'Nazi Germany victorious in World War II' concepts that Breedlove explained were familar to Fornell. So were the tropes of time travel and parallel universes.
"Now we come to the alien space bat," Breedlove said. "Before recent events, 'alien space bat' was a phrase that referred to the point of divergence in the historical event occurring by implausible means."
"Meaning something that shouldn't happen?" Sterling asked.
"What I mean is the divergence is caused by something that doesn't exist in real life: attacks by aliens we recognize from movies or television, for example. Or, time travel: someone travels back in time and kills Adolf Hitler before he becomes ruler of Nazi Germany. A scientifically implausible event, such as the inability to use electricity and technology forcing society to revert to, um, living as our ancestors did until the 19th century."
Fornell saw the presenter stifle a yawn. He decided to give the historian another couple of minutes before finding a halfway decent explanation online himself.
"It's been a long week," she said apologetically. "If I understand you, professor, you've explained how the term alien space bats has been used, at least before the phenomenon. Well, after those aliens, um, alien bats flew past the moon, we've seen a lot of things that shouldn't exist in reality. How would YOU explain them, professor?"
"Sheila, I am a historian, not a scientist. As much as I would love to provide a plausible explanation for the UFOs, aliens, cartoon animals, gnomes and the millions of historical, and fictional, persons walking our streets, I can't. I'm in the dark as much as you are."
Thanks a lot, Fornell thought. We already know the scientists don't know a damn thing.
"Indeed, it is possible some who were here on Earth before the first alien passed the moon are posing as historical or fictional characters themselves--"
Fornell turned the monitor off, then left his office to go for a walk. Two blocks from the Hoover Building, Fornell crossed paths with his ex-wife, Diane.
Fornell and Diane sat down on a nearby bench to begin a friendly conversation which quickly turned to the phenomenon.
"I've watched too many news channels, Tobias," she said. "Every last one of them talk about this, THING, and no one seems to know what they're talking about."
"I thought you were talking about the federal government," Fornell replied with a chuckle. "Too many chefs in the kitchen winging it. We're reacting to things popping up every minute. Nobody knows why all this is going on."
Diane pulled a feather out of her purse. "This fell off a man at the National Mall. He looked like a Native American warrior, a brave. I saw him looking around, confused, then he ran off with his horse when a couple of policemen approached."
"Could be an actor, or someone running a scam. Bureau's heard of, and come across, both. Numerous times."
"That man was for real, Tobias. In the last week alone I've met an elf; a woman in a tuxedo who called herself a magician and did things that are IMPOSSIBLE; a talking dog; and John Lennon."
Fornell raised an eyebrow. "Talking dog. What did it say?"
"Asked for directions. Tobias, I met JOHN LENNON. The Beatle."
"The one born here, on Earth, yeah. This is another John Lennon, who traveled in time from another universe or wherever. He's staying here in town at the--"
"He could be an actor--"
"Tobias WHY must you be SO negative? You NEVER take people at their word--"
"I'm a federal agent. It's my job to investigate."
"And you ALWAYS argue about the smallest things--"
"I always argue about the smallest things? YOU'RE the one who argues about everything. Especially when it came to--"
"You're doing it NOW, Tobias."
"Doing WHAT now Diane???"
"THAT. That...that THING!!!"
"WHAT in hell are we talking about?!?"
"You NEVER listened to me!!!"
And just a few minutes later, Diane and Fornell realized the ridiculousness of their arguing in front of dozens of people, and stopped. Then they apologized, over and over, until they noticed a large, grey rabbit jump out of a hole on the sidewalk.
"Ehhhhhhh, what's up, doc and doc-ette?" the rabbit said. They looked him over from the top of his large ears to the toes on his large white feet. Fornell noticed something very odd about the texture of its fur, then realized what it was.
"Holy friggin Fourth of July fireworks! Are you--"
"Yeah. I'm the 'wabbit'. Hey, I was traveling and made a left toin at Albuquerque. Is this D.C.?"
Diane was rendered speechless at the sight of the 'wabbit'. Fornell nodded in the affirmative.
"That's what I thought. Eh, something crazy always happens to me whenever I make a left toin at Albuquerque and I jump out of the hole. Sooooooooo, I'm gonna go now."
The rabbit jumped down the hole, and Diane and Fornell looked at each other in shock. Some of the people looking on were also in shock; others acted as if they'd seen it before.
It was going to take a long time before things like this became commonplace for Fornell.
"I believe you about John Lennon," he told Diane.
--NASA STATEMENT REGARDING THE TWO "ALIEN SPACE BAT" SIGHTINGS AND SUBSEQUENT UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA
...working in conjunction with military, federal government agencies and civilian companies. Other than the two sightings of the bat-like alien(s), we have not so far found any credible evidence of alien life. While the spacecraft currently in orbit do resemble their fictional counterparts and are more advanced than our current technology, we have not found any credible evidence these spacecraft, nor the persons in them, are of extraterrestrial origin. ...--
Upon arriving at the NCIS building, Gibbs was told he was needed in forensics, and told to report first to Director Vance's office.
With McGee right behind him, Gibbs didn't acknowledge the Director's secretary; McGee gave her a nod and a smile, as he followed Gibbs into the office. Vance was yelling at someone on the phone, but Gibbs and McGee were sidetracked by a woman standing by Vance's desk.
The man they knew as the current director of NCIS spoke loudly and clearly was trying to contain his anger at whoever he was half-shouting at.
"Yes. 'The Department of Scientific Inquiry was established by NASA at the request of the President. The department's purpose is to examine the causes of and offer solutions for the numerous, worldwide phenomena following in the wake of recent 'space bat' incidents," Vance spat. "Look, I know your people are busting their asses on this thing. I know the White House, the NSA, Homeland, Congress are breathing down your neck for answers and want them yesterday. I need you to give me some kind of answer...yes, I'm aware of the political pressure on you...so work HARDER. Find out what in hell is going on--"
Vance paused, then slammed the receiver down in frustration. "Agents Gibbs, McGee. I--"
He then noticed Gibbs turning to him, nodding at the woman, waiting for an explanation.
"Director Shepard?" blurted McGee.
"Believe me, Agent McGee...Agent Gibbs...and 'Director' Vance," she replied. "I'm just as confused as you are."
"Can't wait to hear the explanation...Directors," Gibbs quipped, to Vance's annoyance and Shepard's amusement.