It happened in the blink of an eye. The innocence of the one teammate, who had until that brief moment never harmed anybody, let alone even picked up a gun before except for when used in videogames, was now lost. It never should have happened and nor would it have happened if it wasn't for the NCIS team needing their lead tech operator's help in finishing a case involving the disappearance of a naval cyber warfare engineer and a supercomputer he had a hand in building.
Nell, the youngest member of the team and also a tech genius like Eric, was usually the one sent out in the field, as she was the one with field and weapons training, but Hetty had sent her out on another task that involved her travelling to DC. So, Eric was sent out to meet up with Callen, Sam, Kensi, and Deeks instead, much to his apprehension. A part of him liked being needed somewhere other than in the ops center, but for the most part, he preferred to remain where he felt the most comfortable, as well as confident, and that was, as Hetty had once said, in his chair.
The case wasn't uncommon. Within a few hours, the team had discovered that their victim had stolen a super computer that contained sensitive information with help from his colleagues, which they had planned to sell to the highest bidder. However, new information lead the NCIS team to discover that the engineer had double crossed them, then attempted to sell the equipment and information to a group of mercenaries until those he had betrayed caught up to him and killed him first.
Callen's team were able to find the engineer's team two days later, but when they arrived they found each of the engineer's friends dead on the ground, as well as a very much alive engineer, who was sitting down at the computer working to encrypt multiple files, and two other armed men left behind to guard him and clean up their mess, leading the NCIS team to the realization that there was another group of mercenaries to deal with, with possible information that could lead to a major disaster for Los Angeles.
Once the armed men were taken down, Eric was called in to take over the encryption in place of the engineer, who clammed up as he refused to cooperate with the detectives. It was also when things became much more chaotic for the NCIS teammates and hell for their happy-go-lucky, in-house geek.
"Does it seem odd to any of you that Hetty appears to be getting more and more comfortable with sending me out here in the field?" Eric asked as he arrived and walked into the warehouse, then quickly felt like he was going to be sick as soon as he saw the bodies. "Man, couldn't you guys have at least until the coroners have come to pick them up before calling me in?"
"Nell wouldn't complain," Callen responded as Eric finally turned away from the crime scene and turned his attention to the supercomputer.
The tech operator stared at the machine as he answered, "You don't know that. Even if that's true, she's better at hiding her revulsion than I am, along with a lot of other things, except for when it's a really, really awesome little piece of technology like this baby here."
Deeks looked over the machine too as he replied, "I wouldn't call this thing little. It's huge."
"What exactly are they after?" Kensi asked.
"Whatever it is, it can't be good if they went through all this trouble," Sam responded and then turned to Eric again. "Do you think you can find out if this genius here has already hacked in and given his buddies partial information so they can begin whatever the hell they're about to start?"
Eric began to type as he answered, "The information's heavily encrypted, so it's going to take me awhile to break through, but so far, there's been nothing I can't hack."
Deeks replied, "There's always a first time."
"Not for me, there isn't," Eric responded as he continued typing then abruptly stopped and looked over at his friends gravely. "What if the rest of them come back while we're still here and choose to open fire on us?"
All of a sudden, gunfire erupted all around the agents as well as Eric, who was swiftly pulled down to the ground and behind the machine for cover by Callen, while each of the field agents took their own cover behind large stacks of crates for protection and began to fire back at their attackers, though they were the ones that had the advantage as they had multiple vantage points.
"You had to say it, didn't you?" Deeks shouted out as he quickly reloaded his weapon and then continued firing. "Can anybody tell how many scumbags are firing at us?"
Sam shouted back, "Too many and they've got us pinned down. We'll run out of bullets before they do unless backup gets here fast."
Kensi answered, "I've already called. The police will be here soon. What are we doing, Callen?"
"We just keep firing," G replied as he caught sight of one of their attackers trying to sneak up on them from above, then shot the man before he could take one of his friends down first.
However, as soon as the police sirens could be heard in the background, the teammates heard shouting coming from their attackers, then watched as those that they could see from their covers suddenly began to pull out and start to leave. Once they were all gone, the agents stood slowly with their guns still raised as they looked around.
"What just happened?" Sam asked in confusion. "They had us cold and the police haven't even arrived yet?"
"Apparently, they really weren't willing to risk getting caught," Kensi responded when all of a sudden, a final shot rang out causing everyone to jump, then quickly turned around to look where it had come from, only to watch as the engineer that the agents had taken down when they had first arrived fell down dead, a gun dropping down on the ground beside him.
It was then that they saw Eric also holding up a gun as he continued to crouch down on the ground in fear, staring down at the now dead man in shock as he had just killed him. The agents looked down at their friend in surprise until Kensi slowly walked over and carefully took the weapon out of his hands, noticing that it wasn't one of theirs, and handed it up to her partner, then gently placed a hand on the side of Eric's face in hope of drawing back his attention, while the others gathered around them.
She spoke softly, "Eric, it's going to be fine. Are you all right?"
The younger man didn't say anything at first until Kensi spoke his name again, then he finally looked into her eyes and between his friends as he struggled to answer, "I don't… He woke up and I saw him pull out… another gun. He was going to kill Cal… Callen. I killed him. I killed him."