Chuck vs Golden Thumb Chapter 14
Don’t own Chuck
Laszlo got off the phone with Paul then did a little dance as he went over and took out a bottle of wine. Everyone in the room could see he was exuberant at the news he’d just received. And he was beside himself with joy. He walked over and kissed Ginger as she was tied to her chair. She fought him turning her head.
“Hey leave her alone jerk,” yelled Stanley as he fought against his bindings. “Let me out of this chair and I’ll teach you some manners.”
“Sorry, I just got a little carried away,” said Laszlo. “I know how about a little wine to celebrate my latest victory? Chuck’s taken care of and now his handlers you know there’s no one left to stand between me and my objectives. Château LeFranc ’86,” he said as he uncorked it to serve. “This is a peppery Pinot with a stable on the label, and a stork on the cork.”
“Don’t you mean a peppery Pinot with a cork on the stork and a label on the stable,” said Stanley remembering Chuck’s mission reports.
“No, it's a stable on the label and a cork on the stork,” said Laszlo. “I’m sure of it or at least I think it is. Here you drink and tell me what you think.” He sat the glass in front of Stanley. “Oh I’m sorry I forgot your arms are tied. Well isn’t that too bad I could get you a straw,” he said as his men laughed.
“I don’t have to taste it. That's actually a Burgundy from Bordeaux with the coil on the foil, and the fork on the cork. Someone ripped you off Laszlo and you didn’t know even know it. Well I guess you can’t be a genius in everything or is it taste and intelligence are two different things?”
“There is blood and sweat in this
bottle! The pride of lords and peasants alike! You, Stanley wouldn't know the
difference between this and a glass of Two-Buck Chuck.”
“First of all, I happen to like Two-Buck Chuck. Great bang for your buck. Second of all, you are dangerously close to becoming a walking cliché, Laszlo. Winery I get it now I understand… yes it makes sense.”
“What makes sense? I warn you I’m feeling good right now. Don’t go busting my bubble,” said Laszlo as he drank from his glass. He made a face the wine had turned sour and was vinegar now.
“I get what happened to you and why you hate everyone so much. It’s because of your parents isn’t it? They sold you to the government.”
“What do you know? You read my file I was eleven and some agent saw me playing Tetris at an arcade. So he asked me if I could take all these tests. The next thing I know, he's offering to pay my way through school. My parents, like, they didn't know what to do with a kid whose IQ was higher than both theirs combined. So they signed me over and that's when I became property of the United States government.”
“But there’s more to you than that. Your parents were illegal immigrants. Laszlo Mahnovski isn’t even your real name that’s why you wanted to be called Max Zorin. What did they do? Seasonal hands I’m willing to guess who worked in Napa valley on farms tending vineyards. Is that where you learned about wines?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. This wine is gone someone take this away and pour it out. Then I want the guy who sold it to me shot in the face,” said Laszlo as he handed the bottle to one of his men. “Stanley you want to see something. Ginger will appreciate this too.” But, as he was speaking, one if his men came and whispered something in his ear.
“Okay tell the pilot to go ahead and land. I’ll be right there,” said Laszlo. “I’m sorry but we’ll have to continue this conversation later. We’re almost at the airport in Mexico City where I have to meet with some gentlemen in the air terminal. After I’m done and we’ve refuelled we’ll be on our way for the Canary Islands, more specifically the Island of La Palma. Have you ever heard of the Cumbre Vieja?”
“It means ‘the old summit’ in Spanish but other than that no,” said Ginger as she looked over at Stanley who shook his head.
“Very good Ginger, yes an old dormant volcano. Well, I’ll leave that for you to think about until I get back. Oh by the way don’t go anywhere,” said Laszlo then he disappeared forward behind a curtain.
“What do you think he could be up to,” asked Ginger. I didn’t like the look he had when he talked about the dormant volcano.”
“I have no idea and I didn’t like
it either. Laszlo is a raging lunatic
and he has something evil tucked up his sleeves.”
It was still raining when Casey got Chuck and Sarah on the Black Hawk. He tosses them a Mylar thermal blanket to share then handed Chuck an ice pack for his lip. Sam looked at him puzzled reaching over touching it with her little hand. Chuck took it hand held it in his.
“It was slippery because of the rain and I fell down,” said Chuck guessing what she wanted to ask then leaned over at Sarah and kissed her.
“Slippery right that’s a good one maybe with a little help,” said Casey as he shook his head. Both Chuck and Sarah gave him a look. “What? Don’t be surprised when you get a call from the school someday telling you to come down because Sam punched some boy out and when you ask her why she’s going to tell you it was because she liked him.”
“Ignore him. Here let me look at that,” said Sarah as she held the ice pack to his lip. “I’m sorry you were right I shouldn’t have brought her.”
“I never said you shouldn't as a matter of fact Sam’s probably safer with us,” said Chuck as he held Sam’s hand with one hand and caressed Sarah’s face with the other. He thought it strange that Sam had nothing to say when he checked her he found out Sam was fast asleep with her head tucked into Emma’s side.
“Chuck, what’s the plan?” asked Casey but before Chuck could answer a light came on in Johns head. He turned to the lead Agent. “Has anyone heard from our team on Catalina? Are they overnighting over on the Island?”
“Really I don’t know. From what I was told we lost track of them shortly after they arrived on the island. If they’re reporting in it’s directly to Langley.”
“Chuck do you know anything about this? Has Grimes called you to report in? I swear if he tries anything…”
“John, they’re going to get married. Would it be so wrong if they were a little intimate? I don’t understand you. They live in the same house and you don’t…” Chuck started to say then he saw Casey’s angry face. “I guess you don’t.”
“John, Alex is a responsible adult. No one is going to make her do anything she doesn’t want to do. Kathleen raised her well so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“At least not from Morgan, Laszlo’s a different story,” added Chuck. Sarah rolled her eyes at him and shook her head.
“Sweetie not helping,” she said. “Look John, Alex can take care of herself. She’s a strong responsible young woman with a gun. I’m sure she can handle anything that gets thrown are her.”
“And she has Morgan to help her,” added Chuck which didn’t exactly made John jump up and down with joy.
The chopper dropped off team Bartowski on the roof of the Buy More where it hovered overhead then it returned to base with the downtown agents and their prisoner. John started to run down to Castle to connect with Langley to find out Alex and Morgan’s status but Chuck grabbed him.
“Wait up John or you’ll ruin everything I worked to get accomplished. Let me connect you to Langley just help me get the ladies down the ladder and into Castle first.”
“Okay just make it quick,” said John betraying his growing female emotions as he called them. “I swear if that Morgan has... well has gotten them killed I’ll kill him again.”
“John, relax before you bust a gasket or something. I’m probably the last person to tell you this because I can’t take my own advice but we need to concentrate on Laszlo. If Morgan and Alex are in trouble it’s because of him.”
“I swear if that egghead has done anything to them I’m going to crack an egg and make an omelet,” said Casey as he cracked his knuckles.
“Okay let’s talk to the general and see what the situation is,” said Chuck as he sat behind the computer console and established a peer to peer connection with the General’s work station directly.
“Oh thank you Roan that feels so good,” said Diane as Roan stood behind her giving her a neck message. “You know all the right places to touch,” she said as her screen came on with the whole team plus Sam standing there watching.
“What are they doing,” asked Sam as the General buttoned up her uniform quickly straightening up her hair. Emma rushed Sam off into the back. “But I want to know? You guys never tell me anything.”
“When you’re older your mother will explain,” said Chuck as Sarah gave him a look. “Listen if she’d been a boy I’d be game but she’s a she and this is way outside my comfort zone.”
“First of all,” the General started off saying as she composed herself. “It’s good to see you’re all alive which is contrary to what I was told in my briefing and second of all Chuck, how the Sam Hill did you connect to my computer?”
“I left a back door in case of emergency so that you and I could communicate directly with you without anyone else knowing. Laszlo is under the assumption that we’re all dead and I want him to keep on thinking that.”
“Well this back door had better stay closed except for emergencies or I’ll be kicking your backdoor. That being said if everything works out right Laszlo’s days as a free man may be numbered. As we speak a team is getting in place to apprehend him. Agents McHugh and Grimes discovered some vital information. It seems Laszlo is onboard his yacht the Xenia pulling into Hilo, Hawaii. We’ve arranged for a boarding party to greet him and to retrieve our two Agents.”
“Retrieve?” said Casey as his attention suddenly got piqued. “Are they being held hostage? If they are I could go there and try to negotiate their release.”
“No offense John but your idea of hostage negotiating is down the barrel of your Sig. Asking them if they want a headshot or gut shot isn’t really negotiating. You’re liable to get them both killed...”
“Says the man who stabbed his prisoner in both legs, threatened to cut off his hands and then feed him to the wolves.”
“Desperate times require desperate measures and for the record I didn’t cut off his hands nor did I feed him to the coyotes John. If you’re going to tell a story at least get your facts right.”
“How about fist, face, hurt,” said John as he cracked his knuckles. “You want to keep it up Bartowski and we’ll take this to another level.”
“You know cracking your knuckles like that all the time can’t be good for them,” said Chuck as Casey growled.
“Gentlemen,” said the General. “Can we get back on topic and you set all that aside for now because they’re not being held prisoner. They’ve stowed away onboard the yacht and thus far have avoided capture and detection. I have to say I’m starting to see a glimmer in your rough diamond Casey.”
“Now that’s my daughter,” said Casey radiant with pride. “General, I’d like permission to fly to Hawaii and assist with the boarding party. I’d like nothing more than to slap cuffs on Laszlo.”
“I think all of us would but no. If something happens at the last minute and Laszlo gets away then you’d blow your cover and he’ll realize what happened at the cabin was a hoax. We have another problem but first Chuck I’ve a tasking for you. Alex sent back photos they took of some sort of plastic model Laszlo had built and there are pages of data our people have looked at but came away scratching their heads...”
“Was that the only thing they were scratching,” said Casey. This was the second time the General shot down his request and it was starting to rub him the wrong way.
“Sure ma’am I’ll break out the intersect look at them,” said Chuck. “Maybe I’ll flash on something that will help us figure out what Laszlo’s up to.”
“My thinking exactly,” said the General. “Now for our other problem Dr. Stanley Fitzroy and Dr. Ginger Hartley were taken from Bethesda. Alex and Morgan uncovered that Mahnovski was behind their abduction.”
“Do we know why,” asked Chuck. “I’m sorry but with everything he’s got going on I don’t see how they’d mean anything to him.”
“Nor do we at least for now. Anyway we thought we found them when we tracked down their plane but when our people arrived in Honolulu to rescue them the plane was empty. We’re trying to figure out what plane they’re on now because that’s the only way they could’ve gotten out.”
“General, you need to initiate an internal audit to look for a mole. Someone said once to trust people is nice but to trust no one was better. I think this is the case.”
“Agent McHugh mentioned that Laszlo knew we had a spy satellite overhead. However, that could be attributed to the work he did for us. My experts believe he left dormant programming that activates when near his location alerting him to their presence which renders our satellites useless against him.”
“Ma’am you said out satellites. I may have an idea about what to do about that. I’ll be signing out now and looking over the pics that Alex took then I’ll get back with you,” said Chuck as he started to sign out.
“One last thing Chuck,” said the General. “The next time you violate my privacy as little heads up would be appreciated.”
“What Diane? You don’t like it now that the shoe’s on the other foot,” said Chuck with a big smile. The General did not look amused. “I’ll put a little music lead in before we sign on. Are you in to the classics? I was thinking about maybe a little Bach, ‘Toccata and Fugue’.”
On board the Xenia the crew was working furiously preparing for their port visit and more. The yacht’s current position found it sailing off Hawaii navigating around the coast of the big Island. The First Mate was on the bridge looking over the charts searching for a safe course into port that would accommodate their draft when the Third Mate came over to relay information.
“I see you’re busy and I hate to dump this on you but I need your input. It looks like we might’ve lost someone. Brad didn’t show up for his watch so I was notified and when I went to check out his rack it didn’t look like he'd slept in it.”
“I saw him the other night when the boss left on the chopper. To tell you the truth we’re not missing much. Make entries in the logs then get ready to receive the chopper. The boss’ guests will be arriving soon and Oddjob wants everything ready. That’s another one I wouldn’t mind tossing over the side.”
“Don't you think I should organize a search party to go look for Brad? He might still be onboard and you know someone might ask later if we tried to find him.”
“Like who? Who really cares what happened to him? So say we search the ship and confirm the idiot fell overboard. The boss isn’t going to allow us to go back to look for him and if we find him I’m liable to float test him for dereliction of duty. We have deadlines to keep and right now I’m having trouble plotting us a course that takes us in with our additional draft. Just go do whatever you’ve got to do but the chopper needs to be met.
Morgan and Alex were still in the A/C room talking out what they should do while they were waiting to pull into port. Alex was arguing in favor of exploring the yacht to gather more intel while Morgan was arguing that whatever there was onboard they’d discover it soon when they pulled in so there was no reason to take the additional risk. Suddenly the hatch for the room opened and another man came in carrying a clipboard. Alex had to think fast.
“I see why you wanted to get me in here now,” said Alex angrily then she slapped Morgan across the face and pushed past the guy in the hatchway.
“Buddy I was going to tell you that you’re not authorized to be in here but I think she already took care of that for me.”
“What can I say women and mixed signals the story of my life,” said Morgan as he started to walk away.
“Hey, you what are you doing down here,” he heard a voice behind him. Morgan looked around then pointed at himself. “Yeah you, I’m talking to you. Never mind just get topside to the flight deck the chopper’s coming back in and we’re going to need to get the guests situated.”
“Right away,” said Morgan as he started to take off.
“Hey where are going that’s not the right direction. Listen I’ve got my eye on you now follow me,” said the man. Then he led Morgan up to the flight deck so there was no way he could slip out. Years of working at the Buy More doing the bare minimum made him an expert slacker all of which he planned to put to work now.
“This should be the last one,” said the man who brought Morgan up. “I’ve got everyone ready like you asked. What do you want us to do?” Morgan recognized the man for what he was a brown noser first class.
“Thanks,” said the Third Mate. “You can fall in with the rest of the men and stand over there out of the way from the chopper. I don’t recognize you,” said the man looking at Morgan.
“He’s new,” spoke up the guy who caught Morgan and Alex in the A/C room the day before. “He’s sailed on other boats like the...”
“That’s right,” said Morgan as he cut off the man before he blew his cover. “But I can say without a doubt none of them have been like this one. I can tell you this is a fine vessel Captain.”
“I’m not the Captain and get back in the group with everyone else. Okay once the chopper’s on deck the VIPs will be taken to their staterooms,” said the Third Mate as he handed out a printout of the stateroom assignments. “I want you to memorize this. Once the VIPs are stowed away then we take their luggage to them. If any of the VIPs have a special request bring it to me and I will handle it. Does anyone have any questions? Now is the time to speak up not when one of our guests comes screaming at Oddjob or the First Mate.”
They heard the Sikorsky S-76 nearing the ship. One of the people pointed it out as it swung around the ship then sat down on the flight deck. Alex saw it too she’d heard the chopping getting near so she made her way topside in time to see Morgan herded in with the rest of the work detail
“Geez, if Laszlo was onboard he’d spot Morgan and blow his cover,” she said to herself. She tried to get him to see her so she could signal for him to get away. However, as she was standing there Oddjob walked by.
“Don’t you have someplace to be?” he said. “These people are nervous types and don’t like people staring at them. If you’re not here to work you need to go find something to do.”
“Yes, Sir I was just curious,” said Alex as she tried one last time to catch Morgan’s attention before she had to go.
“You know what they say about curiosity and the cat,” said Oddjob. “Now move along before I talk with the Captain and the First Mate.”
Morgan didn’t need Alex to remind him about Laszlo. As a matter of fact that was about all he could think about as the helicopter sat down. The rotors stopped turning afterwards the side door opened up and a group of men got off. There were a couple governors, a senator and a couple congressmen along with some professional athletes but no Laszlo.
“Crap,” said Morgan as he realized what was going on.
“Crap? I would hardly call my stuff crap,” said one of the Governors who overheard Morgan. “Grab my crap as you called it and show me to my cabin.”
“Come on Joe give the little guy a break. Someone had a sense of humor you brought the most ‘crap’ and they gave you the shortest crewmember to carry it.”
“I’d complain to Dr. Zorin but he’s not even on board to act as host.”
“That’s right,” said Oddjob, “and he extends his deepest regrets but he had a sudden emergency. But he hopes you like his caviar and champagne. We’re pulling in soon in Hilo taking on party supplies then anchoring out for an evening of fun and festivities.”
Morgan lugged the bag up to the governor’s stateroom as he led the way up banging into everything on the way. When he got to the door he opened in then walked in leaving the man in the passageway.
“Here’s you go,” said Morgan as the tossed the bag on the bed then started out.
“Aren’t you going to put my things away? You’re not trained very well.”
“That’s what people have been telling me for years. You can keep the tip too. Something tells me you might need the money after the next election.”
Morgan ran out of the cabin then looked for a quiet place to call Beckman. He understood what was about to happen and he had to avert it at all costs even if it meant he had to risk blowing his cover.