Original Air Date: 30/09/2003
Scene opens to a nighttime shot of a car parked under a big tree in the middle of a Park. Two teens are making-out in the backseat. The boy wants to take it further than the girl is willing.
GIRL: Jimmy. Jimmy, ugh. Stop! I said no! (pushes him away)
JIMMY: God, hey! I sat my sorry ass on a [torment??] bus for three hours to hook-up with you.
GIRL: If you only came to "hook-up", then you should have stayed in Charlottesville.
JIMMY: Oh, come on. You know I love you. (tries to kiss her again) Come here, come on...
GIRL: (holding him back) Jimmy. (he persists, she struggles to push him away) Stop it or I'll scream!
While the girl keeps trying to make Jimmy stop, he isn't listening. Then, at the moment she threatens to scream, a pair of legs punch through the roof of the car and splatter the teens in blood. The girl makes good on her promise to scream - quite nicely, in fact.
The camera then pans back from the car and we see that the body is a paratrooper, stuck halfway through the car's roof with his torso sticking out. The girl continues to scream.
Gibbs is in his basement working on his boat. The television plays a football game in the background. Tony appears at the top of the stairs.
TONY: Don't you lock the door?
TONY (walking down stairs): We got a call. Quantico. Marine got killed in an exercise.
TONY: Night training jump. Guy's chute didn't open. (examines wooden frame which is obviously a boat) Is this a boat?
Gibbs gives him a look, as if to say "what kind of stupid question is that?" then with a shake of the head, goes back to sanding his boat.
GIBBS: His reserve chute failed to open?
TONY: I don't know. (looks at jar of orange liquid on tabletop, inside is a cell phone) Huh. I tried your cell. I tried your hard line, too. (we see wall-mounted phone has been ripped down)
GIBBS: Don't ask.
TONY: You know, my dad gave me a power-sander for my birthday. I don't really power-sand much. You're welcome to it.
GIBBS: Except for that bare bulb there and the cord going to that idiot box, you see a power cord around here anywhere?
Tony takes a quick look around just to check, then shrugs. He stokes a hand slowly along the smoothed surface Gibbs was working on, admiring it.
TONY: (appreciatively) You use hand tools, huh?
GIBBS: I use my hands. You call Ducky?
TONY: Not yet.
GIBBS (walking up stairs): Give me your cell. (holds out a hand)
Tony tosses Gibbs his cell phone, then turns around to look at the broken telephone Gibbs ripped down. Gibbs exits the basement.
GIBBS (calling back from upstairs): Coming, DiNozzo?
TONY: (quietly) He's a weirdo. (louder) Yeah. I got the li- (the lights shut off, plunging the basement into pitchblack.) Light.
*cut to Park*
Big klieg lights turn on, illuminating the area around the car with the paratrooper's body still in it. A military jeep and the NCIS mobile response unit are already on scene. A marine walks with Gibbs and Tony to the car.
TONY: He impaled an SUV?
MARINE: Like he was laser-guided, sir.
GIBBS: Where are the other jumpers?
MARINE (indicating a group of Marines off to the side): Over there, sir. They landed in the drop zone 400 meters north of the road.
GIBBS: Just one stick?
MARINE: Yes, sir. I guess the Jump Master held the others back when the victim's chute didn't open.
GIBBS: Did you secure the paraloft and the aircraft?
MARINE: Yes, sir. I also have the Marines who didn't make the jump under guard at the hanger.
GIBBS: Yeah, put them with the others. Just keep 'em all separated.
MARINE: Yes, sir.
GIRL (overheard from offscreen): Oh my god.
GIBBS: These the witnesses? (walks over)
MARINE: Yes, sir.
GIRL (talking to medic, distraught): My dad's gonna kill me. He's on duty, and he doesn't know that I took his SUV.
GIBBS (to girl): Your dad's a Marine?
GIRL: Yes, sir.
MARINE: Master Sergeant Tom Schaefer, sir. He's a TI at Quantico.
TONY (at boy, lurking behind them): Your dad a Marine, too?
JIMMY: No way. (smokes a cigarette)
GIBBS: (solicitously) You cold, Sarah?
SARAH: A little.
Gibbs goes over to the obnoxious boy and rips his jacket right off him. The boy barely protests, just keeps smoking.
GIBBS: Thanks. (gives jacket to girl) Here you go.
SARAH: (smiles gratefully) Thank you.
GIBBS: Special Agent Gibbs, Special Agent DiNozzo. NCIS. Want to tell us what happened?
SARAH (looking at boy): We were... parked, and...
JIMMY (interrupting): We were hanging-out. Listening to Dashboard Confessional.
GIBBS: (baffled) Emo?
TONY: Emotional music. (whispering) Radio, Gibbs.
GIBBS: Okay, so you were listening to music and...?
SARAH: He smashed through the roof.
JIMMY: Wham, pow, blood everywhere.
SARAH: And I screamed, and we ran out for help.
MARINE: I met them about a klick down the road on our way to the scene.
SARAH: I felt bad for leaving him there.
GIBBS: He was alive?
SARAH: (nods) I heard him groan.
JIMMY: (defensively) It was a death rattle.
TONY (to boy): You ever hear a death rattle?
JIMMY: I was using it as a trope.
GIBBS: A what?
JIMMY: A trope. A figurative use of (waves hands) expression.
GIBBS: Yeah. (to Marine) Call her dad, have him pick her up.
JIMMY: (eagerly) Does that mean I get to go?
GIBBS: Not until after Master Sergeant Schaefer gets here. I'm sure he's gonna have a "trope" or two for ya.
Gibbs walks away. The boy looks worried, cigarette forgotten in his hand.
Gibbs, Tony, and the Marine walk to the SUV with the paratrooper stuck in it. Ducky has set up a ladder beside the vehicle so he could climb to the roof to examine the body.
GIBBS: Ducky's here.
TONY: Yeah, and on a ladder. I'll get the monopod.
DUCKY: Last time I was up this high I was hanging a pinata at my nephew's birthday party.
GIBBS: What do we got, Duck?
DUCKY (using a flashlight): Oh, abrasions. (looks up) The tree must have slowed him a bit. Purple discolouration - neck's broken, I'd say. Hardly surprising given the rapid descent followed by the equally rapid deceleration.
GIBBS: Witnesses over there said he groaned after he decelerated?
DUCKY: It's possible. I won't know until I do the autopsy.
Gibbs, having put on gloves, pulls out his own flashlight and starts examining the parachute draped over the back of the SUV.
GIBBS: Looks like a number of his shroud lines failed. Enough of those go, chute doesn't catch air. It tootsie-rolls; puts you down like a roman candle.
DUCKY: They cut?
GIBBS: Nah, they look worn. (aims flashlight up) Still got his reserve chute on. Why didn't he pull it?
TONY (interrupting): Hey! Look who I found.
Tony is escorting Agent Kate Todd onto the scene. Kate is dressed in a business suit with a skirt and high heels.
TONY: MPs weren't gonna let her passed.
KATE: I got my Sig and badge, but HQ didn't issue my photo ID. (sees body) God, is this for real?
DUCKY: Unfortunately, my dear, it is.
GIBBS: Put 'em on. (hands her a pair of gloves)
DUCKY: Ah, your first crime scene with us, Caitlin.
KATE: What about Air Force One?
DUCKY: Doesn't count, you were in the Secret Service. Hey, Tony, take a team photo for posterity.
GIBBS: Forget posterity. Sun's gonna be up soon. (hands Kate a box) Welcome to NCIS.
KATE (pulling a boot out of the box): How'd you know my size?
GIBBS: (smirks and puts an NCIS cap on her head) Put 'em on. Can't work a field in high heels.
TONY: (cheekily) Depends on the kind of work you're doing.
KATE: Your mind, DiNozzo, runs the gamut from X to XXX.
GIBBS: Photos, Tony!
TONY: (sighing) Yeah. (lifts camera mounted on monopod up to roof to take pictures of body) Ducky? Why would Gibbs rip his hard line out and dunk his cell phone into a jar of paint thinner?
DUCKY: Oh, dear.
DUCKY: I should have realised the time of year. (climbs down and into car) It's his anniversary.
TONY: Which marriage?
DUCKY: Why, the last one of course. Isn't it always?
Tony takes some pictures around the outside of the SUV while Ducky examines the body's legs.
TONY (popping into the car beside Ducky): Ducky, I'm not following.
DUCKY: Every year, ex-wife number three gets drunk on their anniversary and calls him. Repeatedly.
TONY: Why doesn't he, uh, change his number?
DUCKY: I have no idea. In case you haven't noticed, Gibbs is a man of more questions than answers.
They both chuckle. Gibbs and Kate return, Kate wearing the boots and her hair tucked under the cap. Tony snaps a picture of her.
KATE: (sarcastically) Thanks, DiNozzo.
TONY (grinning): Hey, you could be the NCIS poster-girl in that outfit.
*cut to Quantico airplane hanger*
The tail end of the aircraft is sticking out of the open hanger doors. Lined up under it are each of the Marines involved in the jump. Each one has their parachute sitting beside them.
Gibbs, Tony, and Kate approach. A disgruntled Marine meets them.
MARINE: You JAG or NCIS?
GIBBS: Do I look like a lawyer?
MARINE: Word's all over the base by now. My men can't even call their families and let them know they're not the one who died.
GIBBS: Was Sergeant Fuentes married?
MARINE: He has a wife and son.
GIBBS: Notification detail should be there to talk to her by now. Word will get out he was killed.
MARINE: Sergeant Fuentes was under my command. I'd like to see her.
GIBBS: After we finish questioning you and your men.
MARINE: How long is that gonna take?
GIBBS: I don't know.
MARINE: These men have another jump at 21: 00.
KATE: They're jumping again tonight?
MARINE: We don't stop for casualties in war, miss. Neither do we in training.
GIBBS: Not true, Captain. They don't jump off a lower bunk until we find out what happened.
CAPTAIN: (insultingly) I don't take orders from NCIS cops.
GIBBS: Special Agents. And you'll follow this order.
CAPTAIN: (belligerently) Or what, Special Agent?
Gibbs pulls out his cell phone and hits speed dial.
CAPTAIN: I don't take orders from your boss either.
GIBBS: I'm not calling my boss; I'm calling yours. Commandant Mae? Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS.
The Captain walks away. Gibbs waits until he's gone, then closes the phone.
TONY: (knowingly) I don't have a Commandant of the Marine Corps on my speed dial.
GIBBS: Captain didn't know that. (they walk over to the plane) Alright DiNozzo, shoot and sketch. Focus on the static lines, Kate and I'll start the interrogation.
TONY (gets into plane): Jumping's gotta be so cool.
GIBBS: Hey! You wanna play paratrooper, pay a $180. Take a class, like all those other weekend warriors.
TONY (leaning round the side of the plane to call after Gibbs): (sarcastically) Yeah, I have so many weekends free!
Gibbs and Kate walk back into the hanger. Tony stands on the rear hatch of the plane, hands in his pockets, smirking.
Inside the hanger, Gibbs and Kate are interrogating the other Marine jumpers.
GIBBS: Did Fuentes lead your stick?
MARINE: Yes, sir. I was number two, Ramsey was three, Brinkman four.
*cut to flashback*
The paratroopers are on board the plane, preparing to jump. The Captain is issuing orders, the men are lined up in formation.
CAPTAIN: First stick, you're up! Fuentes, look sharp! Dafelmair, Ramsey, Brinkman. Keep it tight!
MARINES (all together): Aye, sir!
CAPTAIN: Stand by. (pauses in front of open hatch) Go! (Fuentes jumps) Go! (Dafelmair jumps) Go! (Ramsey jumps)
RAMSEY (in voice over): After my shoot deployed, I looked around. I saw Brinkman's chute open above me, but when I looked down I only saw one canopy below.
RAMSEY: I didn't know whether it was Paul or Thumper.
RAMSEY: That's what we called Fuentes, ma'am.
BRINKMAN: Sounds crazy now, but he was the squad's good-luck guy, ma'am.
RAMSEY: He was a walking rabbit's foot.
KATE: (nods) Oh.
RAMSEY: Yes, ma'am. He always seemed to dodge the bullets. We could tell you a million stories.
GIBBS: Why don't you tell us just one.
RAMSEY: Well, sir, Larry bought a new bike last week. Car ran a red light, he went over it and into a plate glass window.
DAFELMAIR: Dinged his collarbone a little. Other than that, not a scratch.
GIBBS: Dinged it a little?
DAFELMAIR: Day or two, he was fine, sir.
GIBBS: Hmm... who reached him first?
DAFELMAIR: I did, sir. I saw him roman candle short of the field. Soon as I got out of my harness, I took off to find him.
GIBBS (to Ramsey and Brinkman): You two?
BRINKMAN: I hung up in a tree. Dave gave me a hand. Saw Paul yelling, we joined him.
RAMSEY: Can't believe we let Thumper die. It's like a bad movie.
GIBBS: Was he dead when you reached him, Corporal Dafelmair?
DAFELMAIR: Yes, sir. Died on impact, sir. I'm sure... well, at least I hope he did.
KATE: Why didn't he pull his reserve?
BRINKMAN: Jumping from 1300ft, your main fails? You have three, maybe four seconds to react, ma'am.
GIBBS: Okay. Each of you need to prepare a statement detailing what you saw.
MARINES (together): Yes, sir!
The Marines go to pick up their parachutes, but Gibbs stops them.
GIBBS: Whoa! Leave 'em. Your gear is ours now.
The Marines share a look, then leave Gibbs and Kate alone. They watch them go.
GIBBS: What'd you get out of that?
KATE: He didn't have time to pop his reserve.
GIBBS: Why not?
KATE: (looks at Gibbs) Obviously his reaction time was too slow.
GIBBS (turning to walk out of the hanger): That's...
KATE: Dinged collarbone.
GIBBS: Injured clavicle hurts like hell. Takes more than a couple of days to heal.
KATE: You think Corporal Dafelmair was lying?
GIBBS: He was if he knew that Thumper was taking painkillers so he could jump.
KATE: That's stupid.
GIBBS: No. That's a Marine.
*cut to Autopsy*
Dr. Mallard is outlining the victim's various injuries to Gibbs and Kate, using the x-rays as visuals as he goes.
DUCKY: Our victim sustained a broken neck, crushed vertebrae, multiple leg fractures, shattered pelvis...
GIBBS: What about his clavicle?
DUCKY: With all the massive skeletal damage, you're curious about his clavicle?
GIBBS: Humour me.
DUCKY: (pulls down the specific x-ray for a closer look) Huh, how did you know? There's a fine hairline fracture on the left clavicle, which he-
KATE: Incurred recently, but not last night.
DUCKY: No, it's begun to mend. (turns to look at Gibbs and Kate) You two are beginning to scare me.
GIBBS: Ducky, would that fracture pain him much?
DUCKY: Oh, nothing too severe. But of course, the shock of a parachute opening would have hurt like blazes. (points at x-ray) How did you know?
GIBBS: The girl in the SUV said she heard him moan. Was he alive after impact?
DUCKY: (nods) Briefly.
Ducky goes over to the body. Kate moves to follow, but Ducky stops her.
DUCKY: Ah, not too close, Caitlin. I'll put it on the monitor. (to Gibbs) He most certainly would have died of massive trauma, but the technical cause of death was severing of the femoral artery.
Ducky hauls down a camera probe and feeds the image of the wound unto the big screen monitor mounted on the wall while he explains. Kate looks queasy at the graphic image.
DUCKY: Yes. Our young Marine... bled to death.
*cut to Abby's lab*
Abby is hanging a picture on her wall when Tony walks in.
TONY: What happened to the sad end to a Drain-O drinker?
ABBY: I did a new one. Art can't stand still, Tony. (admires her new wall art)
TONY: (frowns) It was my favourite. So, what's the new one?
ABBY: Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen.
TONY: (hamishly) Of course!
ABBY: I'm gonna call it "Blast from the Future". I figure with my shotgun shattered backbone (points at other picture on opposite wall) I've got like a Chagall feeling going on.
TONY: Ah, in a Manson Family way.
Gibbs and Kate enter.
GIBBS: Abby, you have my tox screen results?
ABBY: Yup, right over here. (goes to her computer) The victim tested positive for percocet and vicodin. Double your pleasure.
TONY: Double your fun.
GIBBS: What kind of levels?
ABBY: 0.17. He was slow juiced, like a koala bear. My guess is that he popped right before he dropped.
GIBBS: The Marines we questioned in his string probably knew.
KATE: Why didn't they tell us?
ABBY: Semper Fi. You rat, you fry.
Gibbs gives Abby a look. She sobers.
GIBBS: Was his reserve chute okay?
ABBY: Yeah, it was perfect. All he had to do was pop it.
KATE: Well he might have, if his reflexes weren't slowed by opioids.
KATE: General term for opiates and synthetic analgesics.
ABBY: Go Kate! (they bump fists)
GIBBS (to Tony): You sure you were a Baltimore cop?
Tony makes a face. Abby smirks.
KATE: Okay, he was too juiced to pop his reserve.
GIBBS: Maybe. Maybe not. Pump adrenalin when you jump. Your main chute doesn't open, it would really kick in to high gear.
KATE: Gibbs, if he had the reflexes to use it, why didn't he?
GIBBS: I don't know. (to Abby) What you'd find from the shroud lines of his main chute?
Abby walks into her other lab area. Everyone follows.
ABBY: Fibre disintegration, but not from textile fatigue. It's fluorescing as some sort of cleaning agent. (runs a UV light over the broken lines) But that didn't cause this kind of damage.
KATE (leaning down): Edges look melted.
ABBY: I haven't tagged it yet, but it was definitely an acid that shredded the lines holding three hundred pounds of jumping Marine.
GIBBS: How long to find the acid and check out the rest of those chutes?
ABBY: Well I'm flying solo, so at least a day.
GIBBS: Would it go faster if you had an assistant?
ABBY: Oh, definitely.
GIBBS: Okay (to Kate) You got the job.
KATE: I get to do forensics?
GIBBS (leaving with Tony): No, you get to schlepp for Abby. She gets to do forensics.
Abby hands Kate a lab coat. They smile happily at each other.
*cut to [empty elevator shaft??] next to paraloft*
A parachute is hanging suspended down the shaft. Tony stands below it taking pictures. Gibbs is inside talking with Cpl. Dafelmair. The Corporal is preparing a table for of chutes.
GIBBS: Why didn't you tell us you were a rigger, Corporal?
DAFELMAIR: Thought you knew, sir.
GIBBS: Did you? (grimaces) What's next?
DAFELMAIR: Sign the log and stick it in the chute pocket.
Dafelmair signs the log. Gibbs picks it up and compares it to the one from Sergeant Fuentes' chute.
GIBBS: Same signature.
DAFELMAIR: That was the log from Thumper's chute, wasn't it, sir?
GIBBS: Yup, you packed it.
Gibbs starts to walk away. Dafelmair anxiously races after him. Tony follows behind them.
DAFELMAIR: Sir, I didn't know he'd get one that I packed. The chutes are handed out randomly, even when we jump.
GIBBS: Riggers usually go on jumps?
DAFELMAIR: On training runs, yes sir.
TONY: How many riggers jumped last night?
DAFELMAIR: Uh, Corporal Ramsey, Brinkman, and Thumper, of course. He was senior rigger.
GIBBS: Figured we knew that too?
DAFELMAIR: Sir, we weren't trying to hide anything.
GIBBS: (exasperated) Oh, like hell you weren't, Corporal!
TONY: You all knew Thumper was using painkillers for that dinged collarbone. (pulls the tag on a chute, popping it) He died because he was too juiced to pull his reserve.
DAFELMAIR: Sir, there was not way for anyone to sabotage a chute and count on it getting to a specific jumper.
GIBBS: Were all the chutes packed here?
DAFELMAIR: Yes, we prepped them at 09: 00. Put them on the trucks for the jump at 18: 00.
GIBBS: They were here for nine hours unattended?
DAFELMAIR: Under lock and key, sir.
GIBBS: Who's got the key?
DAFELMAIR: Captain Faul and Thumper, as senior rigger, both have keys.
Gibbs and Tony share a look. Gibbs open up a folder containing a police report.
GIBBS: You had a criminal record before entering the Corps, Corporal.
DAFELMAIR: Made a few mistakes, sir.
GIBBS: Shoplifting. Drug possession.
DAFELMAIR: It was a long time ago, sir.
TONY: Three years. Not so long.
DAFELMAIR: Look, sir, you have my file. You know the judge gave me a choice. Prison or the Service. The Corps gave me a second chance, sir. And I would never do anything to hurt it or one of my brother Marines. Never, sir.
*cut to Abby's lab*
Kate is helping Abby to prepare specimens of the shroud lines so she can analyze the acid.
ABBY: (grinning) Carl Sagan time. (computer beeps) Sulfuric acid! That would chew the shine off a trailer hitch.
Kate looks excited and impressed, grins at Abby.
KATE: How'd you get into this?
ABBY: Filled out an application.
KATE: I mean, forensics.
ABBY: Oh, uh, when I was a kid, we lived near this lot where they brought all the burned out hulks from the narliest car wrecks. I used to sneak in there at night and take pictures. (Kate nods) It wasn't about the gore. It was about figuring out how things happened. You know, like action and reaction and the science of the whole thing. I got hooked. How 'bout you?
KATE: Actually, I wanted to be a lawyer. I did a year of law school - felt like ten years in prison.
ABBY: With really boring inmates?
KATE: (chuckles) Uh huh.
ABBY: Admit it. You just like strapping on a gun.
KATE: More than one.
ABBY: Really? You packing more heat than meets the eye?
KATE: (nods) Those your only tattoos?
ABBY: You show me yours, I'll show you mine.
*cut to Quantico base jumping school*
Gibbs and walk past a training area where an instructor is teaching new jumpers how to roll when they hit the ground.
TONY: You ever jump?
GIBBS: When I get an electric shock.
TONY: Explains the lack of power tools.
GIBBS: (indicating trainees) You gonna do it?
GIBBS: Spend $180 to defy gravity.
TONY: Yeah, I think I am.
MARINE (calling from offscreen): Agent Gibbs!
Gibbs and Tony turn around. A Marine jogs up to them carrying a mail package. He hands it to Gibbs.
MARINE: This came for you, sir. I just missed you at the paraloft.
GIBBS: Thank you, Lance Corporal.
MARINE: Okay, sir. (leaves)
TONY: Who's it from?
GIBBS: (opening package) Ducky.
The package is a new cell phone. When Gibbs pulls the phone out of the box, a note falls to the ground. Tony picks it up and reads it.
TONY: Jethro, bean counters couldn't find you so they gave this to me. I suggest you read the instructions on call blocking.
GIBBS: (sarcastically) That addressed to you?
The new phone rings.
TONY: (helpfully) It works.
GIBBS (answering the new phone): Gibbs. Yeah, I'll be there in twenty. (hangs up, they go back to watching the trainees) You know, some of these guys freeze on their first jump. Have to be kicked in the ass to get 'em out.
TONY: Not me.
GIBBS: No. You fall into the category I want to kick in the ass on the ground.
Gibbs forcefully shoves the empty box into Tony's gut, making him grunt. Gibbs leaves, Tony lingers to watch the trainees.
*cut to Abby's lab*
Abby has the parachute spread out all over the lab. The lines are stretched taught in every direction like a spider's web. Abby moves through them carefully scanning each with a UV light. Gibbs and Tony walk in.
TONY: Very electric kool-aid, Abby.
ABBY: I was thinking more Blue Man Group.
KATE: Sergeant Fuentes's chute wasn't the only one tampered with.
GIBBS: How many?
KATE: Nine, out of sixteen. Log book signatures show different riggers packed the lot.
GIBBS: How many did Corporal Dafelmair pack?
KATE: Four. The rest were packed by Corporal Brinkman and Sergeant Fuentes.
TONY: Corporal Ramsey didn't pack any?
KATE: Nope. When his signature didn't show up on a single chute, I called Captain Faul. He put Corporal Ramsey on a two-week rigging suspension for sloppy work. And guess who wrote him up for that sloppy work.
GIBBS: Senior rigger. Sergeant Fuentes. (Kate nods)
TONY: We got motive.
ABBY: We got more than that. Kate and I have a theory.
TONY: Why didn't you take to me this fast?
ABBY: You're like a piercing, Tony. Takes a while for the throbbing to stop and the skin to grow back.
TONY: (smiles ruefully) That's more than I wanted to know.
GIBBS: What's the theory?
ABBY: Okay. Every time you lace up your Docs or cinch your laundry bag, you leave some skin cells behind. It's the same with the parachute rigging. (types at computer) I pulled skin samples from the deployment bags of the chutes that were futzed with.
GIBBS: Did you get a DNA signature?
ABBY: All nine knots had a number of different sets of skin samples, but there's only set that's common to all nine.
GIBBS: The saboteur.
KATE: Our riggers of record packed the chutes, then someone came in and repacked them, leaving some skin behind.
TONY: Corporal Ramsey.
ABBY: Well, depending on how much he knows about forensics, he's either very smart or very dumb.
GIBBS: There's gotta be other chutes that Corporal Ramsey packed in the paraloft inventory for comparison.
ABBY: Hnn, negatory. I checked. They were all packed since he's been suspended.
KATE: Well there's an Armed Forces DNA registry. All military personnel are on record, right?
KATE: (satisfied) Then we got our guy.
GIBBS: No. (sigh) All we got is a pile of dead scene. The only thing you can use the DNA registry for is to identify a body.
KATE: Well there has to be a way around that.
GIBBS: (proud) See, now you're thinking like an NCIS agent.
Kate grins, pleased.
*cut to NCIS Headquarters, outdoors*
Gibbs (in voice over): We know that nine parachutes were rigged to fail.
*cut to Interrogation Room*
GIBBS: Killer doctored them and repacked them. Sergeant Fuentes died as a result of that. It's premeditated murder.
The camera pulls back to reveal who Gibbs was speaking with, and we see it is Lt. Bud Roberts crossing-over from JAG.
BUD: I'm sold. Hey, if I'm on the jury, you've got my vote.
KATE: We found DNA evidence on the chute deployment bag knots.
BUD: Belonging to your suspect?
KATE: We believe so. To be certain, we have to access the Armed Forces registry.
BUD: (scoffs) That's impossible! Registry was set up to identify remains only. He knows that.
GIBBS: I do?
BUD: You tried to use it when you after Commander Rabb, for murder.
KATE: He get him?
BUD: No, because he wasn't guilty. You couldn't use the DNA registry then, what makes you think you can use it now?
GIBBS: You, lieutenant, you're a smart lawyer. (lurks over Bud's shoulder, takes his pen) And you know the law. (starts clicking the pen next to Bud's ears, one side then the other)
BUD: I know why I'm here.
GIBBS: Oh, I hope so. I requested you.
BUD: Yeah, you requested me because you think you can work me like you did last time when I ratted out Commander Rabb.
GIBBS: You did not "rat" on anyone. You told the truth. (starts looking for lint on Bud's shoulder)
BUD: I, uh, gave my uniform an extra lint roll this morning, Agent Gibbs. And you waltzing around in my blind spot? Not gonna intimidate my this time.
GIBBS: Were at 24 hours now, soon it's going to be 48. You've done investigations, you know what that means?
BUD: I've done JAG nano-investigations, sure. At 48 hours, you're evidence begins to degrade. Disappeared witnesses change their stories, suspects improve theirs. I know.
KATE: So help us.
BUD: No! You're not going to get me to lawyer you passed an iron-clad prohibition that prevents tapping into DNA records that were designed to identify bodies. Not chase suspects.
GIBBS: This guy is guilty. He killed him. Let him drop to his death from 1300ft.
BUD: It doesn't matter.
GIBBS: For every legal firewall, there is a way around it.
BUD: (shakes head) I can't help you. And can I please have my pen back?
GIBBS: Oh. Oh yeah, sure. (returns pen) You're gonna need it, because if I can't have my DNA I'm gonna need some search authorisations signed. (smiles conspiratorially at Kate)
*cut to NCIS Headquarter's offices*
KATE: You knew Lieutenant Roberts wasn't going to lawyer us access to the military database.
GIBBS: (innocently) Did I?
KATE: You did. So why go through the exercise?
GIBBS: Kate, I come from a long line of horse traders. First rule, you pick the best horse in the barn and you work the deal until it bursts.
TONY: That way, when you go for the second best nag, you get her for a song.
KATE: (realising) The search authorisation.
GIBBS: We didn't have probable cause. But the lieutenant, he's a man who aims to please. You never work the system, when you can work the people.
KATE: Any of those horse traders you come from get hung?
GIBBS: (glibly) Yeah, a few.
Kate nods, unsurprised.
GIBBS (to Tony): Did you find out what Ramsey was written up for?
TONY: Ah, yeah. (reads from clipboard) Frayed lines, bent cones, cuts in the canopy. Tell ya, I hope this guy isn't going to medical school at night. (remembers something) Oh, yeah! Scuttle butt is-
KATE: Scuttle butt?
GIBBS: That's Marine, for watercooler gossip. (Kate nods in understanding)
TONY: The scuttle butt is that Ramsey took a swing at Thumper for getting him suspended.
Gibbs's cell phone rings. He pulls it out to look at the call display.
GIBBS: Identity withheld.
TONY: Probably the reason you married her.
Kate looks up, interested. Gibbs looks annoyed.
TONY: She probably hid her real personality. As most women do.
Now Kate gives him a disgruntled look. The phone continues to ring.
TONY: And by that time it was too late, because you'd already...
Tony finally looks at Gibbs, who is staring at him. Just daring him to finish that sentence. Tony wisely withdraws.
The phone keeps ringing.
TONY (backing away): I'm gonna shut up now.
GIBBS: (sarcastically) Now?
Tony slinks back to his own desk. Quietly.
KATE (to Tony): Do you really just say "as most women do"?
Tony just gives her a petulant look.
GIBBS: Meet me at the paraloft at 14: 00. We'll execute our search authorisation to go through the riggers's lockers.
TONY: That's two o'clock Secret Service time, Kate.
KATE: (smugly) We used Zulu time, Tony.
TONY: (scratches his chin) Zulu time. Oh yeah, that'd be...
KATE: 19: 00.
TONY: (scoffs) I knew that.
Gibbs shakes his head and leaves.
*cut to Fuentes residence*
There's a kid up in an unfinished treehouse in the front yard. Gibbs looks at him as he walks up to the door. The he pauses, changes his mind, and approaches the kid instead.
GIBBS: Hey. Can I come up?
The kid, a young boy, doesn't answer.
GIBBS: Do I need a password? (no answer) Ah, maybe I'll just come up a little.
Gibbs climbs up the ladder until he can the kid. The kid is sitting despondently, tearing up leaves in his bare unfinished treehouse. The treehouse itself is little more than a platform with posts at the corners.
GIBBS: You really should have a password.
KID (finally looking at Gibbs): Why? (holding back tears) It's never gonna be finished. My dad's dead.
GIBBS: Yeah. Yeah, I know.
WOMAN (calling from below): Who are you?
Gibbs looks down. Two women are exiting from the house. He climbs back down the latter.
GIBBS: I'm, ah, Jethro Gibbs. (shows badge) NCIS.
WOMAN: I don't have time to answer questions. We're on our way to the funeral.
GIBBS: I'm not here to ask questions.
WOMAN: Then why are you here?
KID: He says I need a password, mom.
GIBBS: I told him a treehouse should have a password.
WOMAN: Oh. (looks at treehouse) Larry was building that for him.
GIBBS: Doing a good job.
WOMAN: Larry was a good man. A good husband, and a good father.
GIBBS: Good Marine.
WOMAN: There are rumours that his death wasn't an accident.
GIBBS: Whatever happens, Mrs. Fuentes, I'll find who's responsible.
MRS. FUENTES: Billy, we have to go.
Billy climbs down the ladder. His mother starts brushing dust/dirt off his suit.
MRS. FUENTES: Ah, look at you. All dusty. Come here, your hair's a mess. Where's your comb? (kid pulls a comb from his pocket) Larry always told him to carry a comb.
BILLY: (combing hair) Like J.F.K. Whoever he is.
GIBBS: He was a Navy guy, like your dad was a Marine. (kneels to kid's level) Navy guys, Marines... they always look their best. Your dad would want you to look your best today for him.
BILLY: (tearfully) I don't want the Marines at the funeral to see me cry.
GIBBS: Never be ashamed of tears, bud.
BILLY: Marines don't cry.
GIBBS: Yeah, they do. At J.F.K.'s funeral, his son saluted the coffin. You know how to salute?
Billy steps back and demonstrates a text-book salute.
GIBBS: (smiles) Perfect. You salute your dad today, nobody'll notice the tears.
Billy nods. His mother smiles briefly in gratitude. Car starts up.
MRS. FUENTES: We have to go.
Gibbs stands and Mrs. Fuentes starts to lead her son away. She only gets a few feet before she stops and turns to look at Gibbs.
MRS. FUENTES: I believe you'll get whoever did this.
GIBBS: You have my word.
*cut to Quantico para-training facility*
This time, Tony is the trainee getting lessons in how to jump and land properly. He's all decked out in the cammo gear, too.
MARINE: Keep your feet together, cushion the impact.
TONY: That's it?
MARINE: You signed the release to notify next of kin, right?
TONY: (huffs a laugh) Just don't say break a leg.
The Marine pats him on the back and Tony turns sideways to jump the five feet to the ground. He hits hard, but manages to roll back up to his feet. Gibbs and Kate are approaching, watching him.
TONY (to Marine): How was that?
KATE: Very ladylike.
GIBBS: DiNozzo! What are you doing?
TONY: Ah... (takes off helmet) Just doing a little research for Abby.
GIBBS: (doubtful) For Abby?
TONY: Well, maybe I'm serving two masters.
GIBBS: (crooks a finger) You're serving one, now.
KATE: How did you get into NCIS?
TONY: I smiled. (grins)
*cut to paraloft*
MARINE: I had the riggers's lockers sealed immediately after the incident.
Tony, Gibbs, and Kate snap on gloves. Thumper's string of jumpers are lined up in front of them.
GIBBS (to Ramsey): Keys?
Ramsey passes the first set of keys over and Gibbs gives them to Kate. She opens Ramsey's locker. DiNozzo gets the next set of keys, and checks Dafelmair's locker. Gibbs takes Brinkman's. All three thorough search the lockers. Kate finds a small box full of stuff.
KATE: Got something.
She sets the box down on the table and starts carefully unloading it. Rags, tools, a canister of something.
GIBBS: (picking up canister) Brass-stripper solvent.
KATE: Read the contents.
Gibbs flips the container over and tries to read the small print on the back, but can't make it out without his glasses. He passes it back to Tony with a wince.
TONY: (reading contents) Contains petroleum distillate, ammonia, and sulfuric acid. Harmful if swallowed. Or applied to shroud lines.
KATE: Ramsey's locker.
RAMSEY: That stuff's not mine.
GIBBS: Sergeant Nutt, place the corporal in custody. Tony, read him.
TONY: (while Sgt. cuffs Cpl.) You have the right to remain silent.
Tony keeps reading Ramsey his rights while Gibbs relocks his locker.
*cut to Interrogation room, NCIS headquarters*
Gibbs has Cpl. Ramsey in the room. Gibbs is twirling the corporal's keys around his finger.
GIBBS: Scuttle butt has it that you and Thumper mixed it up in the paraloft.
RAMSEY: We exchanged words, sir.
GIBBS: And fists.
RAMSEY: Punch or two was thrown, nothing serious. I damn sure wasn't angry enough to kill him, sir.
GIBBS: Well maybe you only meant to scare him. But Thumper was on painkillers and didn't have time to pull his reserve.
RAMSEY: I didn't touch his chute, sir. How could I? I'm on suspension. The paraloft is under lock and key.
Tony enters the observation room. Kate's already there.
KATE: What'd you find?
TONY: Hardware store where our guy did one-stop shopping. Clerk's pretty fussy. He does remember a Marine in a real hurry to copy a key.
Kate nods. In the Interrogation room, Gibbs reveals a duplicate key.
GIBBS: All you needed was a key. Like this one. (Ramsey looks nervous) I found this one in Thumper's personal effects.
RAMSEY: If that's the paraloft key, you won't find one like that on my keychain. (Gibbs checks key matches) I've messed up some rigging, sir, but never intentionally. A guy jumps with one of my chutes, he puts his life in my hands. I never breached that trust, sir, never.
GIBBS: Now. (holds up key match) Are you gonna tell me that was a plant too?
RAMSEY: (desperately) Had to be. I'm not guilty, sir.
In the observation room, Kate rolls her eyes at Tony.
TONY: They're always so sincere when they say that.
Gibbs stares at Ramsey, who is on the verge of freaking out.
GIBBS: What if I was to give you an offer to prove that?
RAMSEY: Anything, sir.
GIBBS: Maybe you'd be willing to give us a sample of your DNA.
RAMSEY: Someone put that box in my locker and that key on my keychain. How do I know that you don't have my DNA on something else they planted too?
GIBBS: (smirks) You don't.
*cut to NCIS Headquarter's offices*
Gibbs is reading a file, or trying to. He closes it in frustration and tosses like a frisbee to Tony.
GIBBS: DiNozzo, where'd you learn how to write? China?
KATE: I'd say Egypt, looks more like hieroglyphics.
TONY: (indignantly) Hey! You were in a rush to read it.
GIBBS: (salutes him with his mug of coffee) My mistake.
KATE: Are those the interviews of the Marines that didn't jump?
TONY: Yeah, it's not very interesting...
While Tony tells Kate what's in the file, Abby steps off the elevator and into the offices. She carrying a box with a cotton swab in it.
ABBY: Corporal Ramsey finally gave it up. His mouth was drier than mummy dust. I had to swap it four times to get a decent DNA sample.
GIBBS: How long to test for a match to the skin cells?
ABBY: Well, if you want no [??time stamp 33: 01??] in court, you've gotta give me 24.
GIBBS: Abby, clock's ticking.
KATE: You don't expect a guilty man to give up his DNA.
TONY: Well, he's rolling the dice. Hoping for that one-in-a-million shot it won't match.
KATE: Guilty people do that?
TONY: (huffs) All the time.
GIBBS: Uh, Kate has a point. What if Ramsey was set up? What if, what if he's innocent? What if he's telling the truth?
TONY: Well we'll know in 24 hours but I wouldn't bet on it.
GIBBS: (gets up, puts on coat) Well, you know what, I don't like sitting on my ass waiting for a DNA match.
KATE: (gets up, grabs gun) They are only two other possible suspects. Corporal Dafelmair or Brinkman.
GIBBS: No, there's three. You're forgetting Captain Faul. He's got a key to the paraloft. (sees Tony getting up putting his holster on) Where do you think you're going, bubba? You've got a report to finish.
*cut to Captain Faul's office*
FAUL: Sergeant Fuentes was one of the finest NCOs in my command. He was tough on his riggers, but fair. Ah, I still find it difficult to believe his reporting Corporal Ramsey drove him to murder.
KATE: Corporal Ramsey hasn't been proven guilty yet, Captain.
FAUL: You're holding him. Scuttle butt is he's confessed.
GIBBS: Never knew a Marine captain who believed scuttle butt.
Gibbs grins at his own statement. Cpt. Faul does not look amused.
GIBBS: How did you prepare the day of the exercise?
FAUL: I spent the morning in [trout??] talk with the Naval aviators piloting the C-130.
GIBBS: The nest used a Navy bird?
FAUL: Most of ours are deployed in Iraq.
KATE: You each lunch with them?
FAUL: At the Officer's Mess. After lunch, we had a couple of dry runs, had another [trop??] talk, and then loaded up. Why?
GIBBS: Do you have your paraloft key, Captain?
Faul opens his drawer and pulls out his keychain. He displays his paraloft key to Gibbs.
GIBBS (to Kate, but not quietly): Corporal Ramsey must have lifted Sergeant Fuentes's key long enough to make a duplicate.
FAUL: Corporal Ramsey made a key to the paraloft.
GIBBS: It's the only way he could have slipped in to sabotage the chutes. (shakes hands with Faul)
KATE: Thank you. (shakes hands with Faul)
FAUL: Thank you. (fiddles with keychain) Why didn't you just ask to see my key?
GIBBS (pausing at door): Agent Todd is new, just teaching her how to interrogate.
FAUL: The paraloft was secured between 09: 00 and 18: 00. That's why you wanted to know what I was doing all day. You suspected me.
KATE (to Gibbs, playing along): If the captain were a suspect, we would have read him his rights, wouldn't we?
GIBBS: (smirks) Very good, Agent Todd, very good.
Kate grins at Cpt. Faul and follows Gibbs out. Faul watches them leave.
*cut to NCIS Headquarter's offices*
Gibbs and Kate walk off the elevator onto the floor. Tony hands Gibbs his typed-up report.
TONY: The Captain have an alibi?
KATE: He was no where near the paraloft when the chute's were sabotaged.
TONY: Ramsey's the dirtbag.
KATE: It could still be Dafelmair or Brinkman.
GIBBS (reading from Tony's report): Sergeant Fuentes supervised the riggers handing out chutes.
TONY: Yeah, he watches the riggers from the back of the truck.
GIBBS: Ramsey participated.
TONY: Well, he's on suspension from rigging, not passing out chutes or jumping.
KATE: (theorising) He could have given Thumper a dirty chute.
GIBBS: (looking up) What'd you say?
KATE: Ramsey. Could have given Thumper a sabotaged chute.
GIBBS: No, you said "dirty".
TONY: With Gibbs, you never know.
Gibbs takes off quickly, having an idea. Kate and Tony follow in confusion.
*cut to Abby's lab*
GIBBS: Abby, I need to see Sergeant Fuentes's reserve chute.
ABBY: Might want to take a look at this first. (indicates her wall monitor) Now that I'm only running one DNA analysis, I finally had time to do a particle pick on the shroud lines. You're looking at the infrared of Bolivia's best.
GIBBS: The killer's using?
ABBY: No, the rock's too pure. The residue on his skin s probably from cutting and weighing.
KATE: (rhetorically) Why don't I think Thumper was killed for reporting Corporal Ramsey's rigging?
GIBBS (to Abby): Where's Thumper's reserve chute?
ABBY: It's over here. (picks up a plastic wrapped bag) I already checked it, Gibbs. It's clean.
GIBBS: (puts on gloves, lifts flap on chute) Know what, it's too clean. Too clean for someone who smashed into a tree and an SUV. (to Abby) Where's the other jump gear we confiscated.
ABBY: I stored it in the Ballistics lab after I tested it.
They all go into the other room. Gibbs starts searching through the bagged chutes.
ABBY: What're you looking for?
GIBBS: Ramsey. Dafelmair's. Brinkman's gear. Here's one. (moves it to make it more accessible, Abby starts cutting the plastic wrap open)
TONY: What are you looking for?
GIBBS: A screwed pooch.
Abby finds and cuts open the bagged chutes of the other two guys. Gibbs starts opening them up and taking them apart to check the reserve chute tucked away inside. On the second one, he finds it.
GIBBS: Here it is, it's dirty. (holds it up so we can read the number "13" printed on side) This is the reserve that Thumper jumped with.
ABBY: Unlucky thirteen.
GIBBS: Someone pulled a switch after he hit the SUV.
Gibbs tests the reserve chute by pulling on the pin. Nothing happens. He flips a flap and sees why.
GIBBS: The cones been soldered in place. Doesn't matter if the painkillers slowed his judgement, he couldn't use this chute.
TONY: (starts looking for a label) Hey, how's ruck sack is this?
Gibbs finds the label with the owner's name on it. Everyone shares a look.
GIBBS: Call Captain Faul. Tell him jump ops can resume, we've got our killer.
KATE: Do I tell him who?
GIBBS: Nope. I don't want DNA evidence, I want this b*st*rd to confess. (Kate nods, leaves to make call)
TONY: How we gonna do that?
GIBBS: (tosses sabotaged chute at Tony) Where this when we jump.
*cut to airplane, night*
A line of paratroopers are boarding the C-130 parked outside the hanger. Tony and Gibbs, in full paratrooper regalia, join the procession. They pause when they get to the hatch.
GIBBS: Hey, Cap!
FAUL: Aren't you a little old to re-up?
GIBBS: (drolly) I hear there's a war on.
FAUL: Agent DiNozzo, I can't tell if your enlisting or just listing.
TONY: (struggling under the weight of the pack) Ha, ha, ha. That's a good one.
GIBBS: We're going with you, boys. NCIS training mission.
FAUL: (rolls his eyes) Now why don't I believe that? (Gibbs stares at him) Hell, why not? Hate to pass up the opportunity to toss a couple of NCIS agents out of a plane. (gives Gibbs his hand to haul him aboard)
The plane takes off.
BRINKMAN (to Tony): Why you jumping with us, sir?
TONY: Always wanted to jump. Agent Gibbs came along to laugh.
DAFELMAIR: Hare to believe Dave killed Thumper over a lousy two-week suspension, sir.
BRINKMAN: Thumper rode him, sir. But no more than the rest of us. Just doesn't make sense.
TONY (acting like he just noticed his reserve chute has "13" on it): Oh no!
GIBBS: What, chickening out?
TONY: (scowls at Gibbs) Thirteen. It's my first jump and my reserve is number thirteen?
GIBBS: (leadingly) Wouldn't have bothered Thumper, would it guys? (Dafelmair and Brinkman share a look) Is either of you superstitious?
MARINES (together): No, sir!
GIBBS: Great! (to Tony) Why don't you swap with Corporal Brinkman.
TONY (to Brinkman): What's your reserve chute number?
TONY: Four? (looks at Gibbs) Four is unlucky in China.
GIBBS: We're not in China.
TONY: I don't care. (to Dafelmair) What's your number?
TONY: Great! (to Gibbs) Eight's lucky in China.
Tony takes off his reserve chute and offers it to Dafelmair. Dafelmair just looks at it.
GIBBS: There a problem? (stares at Dafelmair)
DAFELMAIR: (hesitates) No, sir.
Dafelmair unhooks his reserve chute and switches it for Tony's. He stares at Gibbs the whole time.
An alarm beeps.
FAUL: Stand up!
The men grasp hands to haul each other up to their feet in the cramped space. Gibbs and Dafelmair help each other - neither looks pleased. Dafelmair takes the lead in the string, Gibbs right behind him.
FAUL: Hook up!
The men hook on to the static lines and start to move forward.
GIBBS: Thumper ride you, Corporal Dafelmair?
DAFELMAIR: He rode everybody, sir.
GIBBS: About being a drug dealer? (Dafelmair stops and stares at him) That's his reserve chute you're wearing. The one you switched on him when he landed.
DAFELMAIR: (looks down at chute, worriedly) Don't know what you're talking about, sir.
TONY: You were the first one down. First one to get to Thumper. Ramsey was helping Brinkman out of a tree.
BRINKMAN: What's he saying, Paul?
DAFELMAIR: I don't know!
TONY: Only takes a couple of minutes to switch a bad chute for a good one.
GIBBS: Marine Corps gave you a second chance. When Thumper found out you soiled the uniform by dealing drugs, he wouldn't do it.
FAUL: I thought Corporal Ramsey was guilty.
DAFELMAIR: (aggressively) He is, sir!
Gibbs draws a small pocket knife.
GIBBS: [Fa bra??], Corporal. Prove it. (cuts Dafelmair's main chute line)
FAUL: What the hell you doing?! His main can't open.
GIBBS: He's got a reserve!
DAFELMAIR: Captain, this is nuts! You gonna put a stop to this, sir?
Everyone looks at each other. It's a tense moment. Then the alarm beeps again.
FAUL (checking watch): Thirty seconds 'til drop.
GIBBS (to Dafelmair): A confession right now of your drug supplier will get you a deal.
DAFELMAIR: (thinks about it for a few seconds) How good a deal?
GIBBS: (sneers) Read him his Article 31s.
TONY: (unhooking to step forward) You have the right to remain silent.
BRINKMAN (interrupting): He doesn't deserve a deal!
Brinkman attacks Dafelmair and in the confusion of the scuffle, Tony gets knocked off the plane. He screams on the way down. Gibbs runs to the hatch to look out.
GIBBS: (sees Tony's canopy open) Goodbye, DiNozzo.
*cut to NCIS Headquarter's offices*
The television is playing a news broadcast. Sgt. Fuentes's picture is on the screen with the image of a waving American Flag behind him.
NEWS ANCHOR (on TV): Military authorities arrested a Marine and charged him with murder, in connection with Larry Fuentes's tragic parachute mishap three days ago.
TONY (watching broadcast): We ever gonna make the eleven o'clock news?
GIBBS: Could have happened tonight if you broke your neck.
TONY: Well, it's been a long one. (puts on weapon) You leaving soon?
GIBBS (writing a report): Mmmhmm.
TONY: Alright. (grabs coat and keys) G'night.
Tony leaves. Gibbs watches him limp past, favouring his right leg, and smiles. Then his cell phone rings.
Gibbs drops his pen and flips open the cell, holding it up so we can read the call display. It says "Caller ID Withheld". Gibbs stands up and throws the phone into a drawer.
*cut to Fuentes residence, early morning*
We hear hammer noises. Billy Fuentes comes out of the house in his pyjamas. He looks up at his treehouse and sees Gibbs, hammering a board into place as a railing.
BILLY: Can I come up?
GIBBS: You got a password?
BILLY: Yes, sir. Semper Fi!
GIBBS: (grins) That's a good password. Come on up.
Billy climbs up to the treehouse and he and Gibbs work together to finish building the treehouse.