Chuck vs Golden Thumb Chapter 15
Don’t own Chuck
Alex had to leave the topside going down below decks after her run in with Oddjob. She hoped everything would work out for Morgan and she promised herself she’d go back to check on him as soon as she could. However, she had a golden opportunity to look around below decks seeing as most of the crew was involved with receiving the guests so she took off to see what was hidden down below.
“What’s this,” she said to herself. She’d been wandering around up forward under the forecastle just past the crew’s quarters when she found a hatch in the deck that seemed to lead down to a deck that had no other access. She was about to climb down to check it out when she heard voices from coming from below so she hid herself and listened.
“Hey Will where are you going with your badge on? You know all the film badges are supposed to be locked up down here. The boss doesn’t want to get the crew nervous.”
“Thanks I almost forgot. I’m just tired I guess they’re running us ragged to meet their schedule. I supposed they don’t care if we make a mistake.”
“Before they can get out of the blast radius somehow I think they do but you do have to wonder with our marching orders. Anyway the project is almost completed and we haven’t gone boom yet. You know with the money they’re paying me I’m going to find someplace afterwards where I can sit on a beach. Someplace where the beer is cold and the women are hot if you know what I mean.”
“Oh I hear you all right I could go for a few of those fruity drinks with the little umbrella but for now we have to put up with SOS and powdered eggs. Come on I’ll buy you breakfast.”
“I bet those people who just flew in aren’t eating powdered eggs and chipped beef on toast. Someone told me they had quite the spread out for them on the flying bridge including real Russian caviar and champagne.”
“Every man who’s about to die ought to have a last meal. They just don’t know what’s about to happen to them,” said the one man as he climbed up then waited on his friend.
“But we do... Yes lambs to the slaughter just they don’t know they’re standing in the slaughterhouse and the axe is about to fall, fat dumb and happy all the way to the end.”
“Now you’ve got me thinking about lamb chops. We’re supposed to be anchored out for a bit this evening I might take a boat in and try to get something decent. Do you want to come with me?”
“Come on we can talk this over breakfast. Personally, I don’t want take any risks and stay on board until after X hour just to be on the safe side. We’re getting good money for what we do but it doesn’t do us any good if we’re dead. You know it makes it kind of hard to spend it,” said the one man as the two walked back down the passageway.
Alex hid and waited for the men to disappear down the passageway out of sight then she sprang into action. She had a notion what they meant when they talked about badges so she climbed back down to check to see if she was right. She picked the lock on the badge locker and there they were. The same types of badges people who handle nuclear ordinance have to wear. On the one bulkhead was another hatch with a door but it was locked with a numerical keypad.
“Crap now what,” she said to herself then she searched the lockers until she found a container of talcum powder.
“I guess this will have to do,” said Alex as she took a handful then blew it on the keypad. Finger prints came out not clear enough to run but they were there.
“Okay in the western world it is only natural that the numbers go from top to bottom then right to left,” she said to herself as she pressed button after button but one seemed to have a number of finger prints overlapping.
“Sneaky,” she said as she pressed that one twice. The door opened and the lights came on inside. Looking around she was in a lab of some kind and in the middle was a device that was being assembled. The casing was set aside with Korean writing on the outside so she grabbed her phone and took pictures. On the table next to the device was a Geiger counter she picked it up and it confirmed why everyone had to wear a badge inside. The dial bounced all over the place the whole room was radioactive.
“I got to get out of here,” said herself. She made a hasty retreat and was about to go back up the ladder when she heard voices coming back down. “Crap I need to hide,” she said but looking around the room was empty other than some changing lockers. Now the voices were near.
“Come on we don’t need to go back inside,” said one man. “There’s nothing to worry about we can put it away when we get back.”
“No you know how Oddjob gets if things are out of place. He already yelled at me once for this I don’t intent to have to hear him spew on again.”
“He did really get on your case for leaving the Geiger counter out but in a way he was right. If the ship took a roll it would’ve been all over the deck then we’d have to improvise.”
“Whose side are you on? It was just for a few seconds and I was right there and with the extra draft we’re not rolling,” said Will. He caught his friend’s look. “Okay not that much. But there was no reason to make a capital offense out of it. Geez, someone needs to talk to Kowalski he’s getting his talcum powder everywhere. It’s even on the keypad.”
“Come one let’s hurry up I’m hungry and they won’t be serving breakfast for very much longer. If we miss breakfast we’ll have to wait for lunch.”
As soon as the men went into the lab Alex emerged from one of the lockers. For once it was good to be petit. She made her way as fast as she could up the ladder.
“Time to report in and find Morgan,” Alex said as she hurried along but back in the lab things were happening.
“That’s strange,” said Will. “I could’ve sworn I left this on the other side of the warhead. I was working over there and now it’s here. Something is off.”
“The talcum powder on the keypad,” said the other man. “What if? Oh crap there goes breakfast. We need to call Oddjob.”
Morgan ran as soon as he could get away from his servant duties. He made his way back below decks back to the A/C room where he could make this urgent phone call then find Alex. They were already navigating the channel getting ready to pull into the harbor. Morgan thought about calling Chuck but Chuck would have to call the General which would just add one more step and in two steps it would be too late.
“Agent Grimes why are you calling me,” said the General bluntly. “This may be hard for you to understand but there is something called the chain of command...”
“Sorry Diane but there’s no time. Just shut up and listen,” said Morgan then his brain caught up with what his mouth had already said. “Shut up with all due respect that is... Oh just listen it’s a set up you’ve got to call the boarding team and tell them to stand down before it’s too late.”
“What do you mean it’s a set up,” said the General as she put Morgan’s call on speaker for Roan and the Major to listen to. “Why do I need to put the board team on standby?”
“Laszlo isn’t onboard. He got off the other day by helicopter and last night they flew in two governors, a senator and a bunch of celebrities for this mega party in the harbor this evening but Laszlo didn’t return with the chopper.”
“So we’ll end up with egg on our face when we board. I bet this senator is on our Senate oversight committee. Major call our men and have them stand down and wait for further instructions. Good work Agent Grimes I can start to see a sparkle in that diamond. What word do you have about Agent McHugh?”
“I’m going to look for her now but we got separated when the guests arrived. I was shanghaied into carrying luggage for a cheap governor who didn’t even leave a tip. Can you believe he wanted me to put his clothes away for him? I don’t even put my own away.”
“Somehow I can. Agent Grimes next time just tell me your team got separated and now you’re trying to find them. The rest I’ll read in your after-action report. Now would be a good time to hang up and go look for Agent McHugh. Keep me informed Beckman out.”
On the flying bridge Oddjob was playing host to Laszlo’s guests. Joining in on small conversations and making sure each guest was taken care of. At the same time he was taking care of his guests he kept an eye on the pier where they were preparing to pull up to. There was a line of black Escalades with tinted windows lined up to receive them then strangely they just started up and drove away.
“I’m sorry,” said Paul AKA Oddjob looking at his watch. “But I have to report into my boss and tell him that we’re pulling in. Maybe he’ll be done with this emergency and can join us.”
“Tell him to take his time just keep the champagne and caviar flowing,” said the Senator laughing. “But joking aside maybe when you come back you can enlighten us a little about this geothermal power system he’s proposing. My constituents would love to hear about anything that can make us energy independent.”
“I have some reports for you all to look over and I’ll do my best to explain how this is supposed to work. But for now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be right back,” said Paul then he quickly disappeared down to Laszlo’s stateroom where he could call his boss in private.
“Laszlo… I mean Dr. Zorin I’m sorry if I’m interrupting you but I had to call something strange just happened,” said Paul. He sat down at Laszlo’s desk and put the call on speaker so he could relax.
“I’m in the middle of a meeting here with our supporters Oddjob and you’re interrupting me for something you call ‘strange’? This had better be important.”
“Well we’re pulling in now and the boarding party you thought would greet us was waiting on the pier like you expected but they just turned drove away right now without boarding. It was as if they knew you weren’t on board.”
“Someone warned them. That’s what it has to be Oddjob we’ve got a mole on board. You need to start scanning bandwidths looking for unauthorized communications. See if you can pinpoint a location on board ship,” said Laszlo. As he was speaking a man knocked on the stateroom door then came in.
“You’re supposed to wait until I tell you to come in before you walk in,” said Paul. “I’m on the phone with Dr. Zorin or can’t you see that. You’re here so tell me what you have to say.”
“Sir we think there’s been an intrusion in the lab. We can’t be for sure but certain items were moved around and then there was talcum powder on the keypad.”
“Talcum powder where?” said Paul. “You people smoking something down there. It doesn’t make sense. If the CIA knew about the warhead why did they pull their men out? I would think we’d be drowning in agents by now.”
“No I believe him,” said Laszlo over the phone. “It makes perfect sense if you think about it. They just found out about the warhead so they pulled back until they could get decon gear. Don’t worry they’ll be back but in the meantime have the lab people remove the warhead to the boat and you review security footage from the lab. Our mole might have made a mistake and gotten filmed.”
“You heard Dr. Zorin what are you waiting for? Now go get it done and make it fast because we don’t have much time. There will be a boarding party arriving soon and not the friendly kind. The first place they’re going to go look in will be your lab,” said Paul as he entered his password then scrolled through the security footage from the lab.
“Did you find something?” asked Laszlo holding on the line. He heard Paul’s exclamation of joy. “Good send me a copy.”
“Yes I’ve got our little mouse and say cheese. I’m printing her photo as we speak. I’ve also sent you a jpeg. I’ll make sure to get this out to the crew then we’ll do a little pest control.”
“I know her,” said Laszlo. “We met at Los Robles her name is Agent McHugh. They called her Alex and she’s John Casey’s daughter. I guess he never taught her to look for video surveillance when entering a room.”
“Casey... Casey, isn’t that the Colonel you put the contract out on that we put down? I guess she’s trying to make this a family thing.”
“Which I’m willing to give her,” said Laszlo. “Do this for me make an effort to take her alive then hold her for me. I want to be the one to pull the trigger on her. It seems only fitting after all.”
Chuck was in Castle looking over the photos of the documents Alex and Morgan had sent back. Plus he was trying to make sense out of the models Morgan had photographed. Morgan evidently tried to cowboy it by taking a photo without looking to see what he was photographing. The photos were out of focus and askew. But not to worry he had an app he was running on them to clear them up. The documents they had photos of had to do with ocean beds and tidal conditions along with a study on acoustic vibrations. But he had a lot of data but noting to tie them all together.
“Come on Chuck you can do this if you concentrate what’s the missing piece?.... Augh nothing I’m just too tired. Okay I’m just going to close my eyes for a few minute,” he told himself as he leaned back in his chair. “I can’t do anything until Morgan’s photos are cleaned up any way.” He closed his eyes and it was lights out.
“I’m back Sweetie,” said Sarah as she walked back into Castle. She ran Emma and Sam home so they could get a good night’s sleep which was what she found Chuck doing at the console.
“My poor baby,” said Sarah. She went back to detention grabbed a blanket then brought it out and put it on him. Chuck had gone for some time without sleep and the intersect in him was telling him he need to go into standby mode for a while.
“I’m late getting back because Kat called me worried about Alex and Grimes so I went over and talked with her. She’s not happy but...”
“Shush,” said Sarah. “Chuck’s asleep and unless it’s an imminent threat of thermonuclear war let’s let him sleep. I don’t expect Kat to be happy. What did you tell her she was doing?”
“Just that they were out on mission and were away from any place they could call from. I didn’t want to lie so I tried to sat as close to the truth as I could.” But as they were speaking Casey’s phone rang he took it out it was Alex.
“Alex, where are you and the Troll? You know we’re going to have as nice sit down when you get home about going off without telling anyone. .... Hold on hold on I’ll put him on the line.”
“Time to get back to work,” said Casey as he kicked Chuck’s chair. Sarah gave John a look but she couldn’t stop him. “Alex, I’m putting you on speaker but you’re going to need to try to speak up it’s hard to hear you.”
“Geez, thanks for the wakeup call John,” said Chuck as he stretched and yawn. “I guess I was sleeper than I thought.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him in time. But you know how he is,” said Sarah as she kissed him. “Alex needs to talk to you.”
“Yeah, yeah just talk to Alex she’s in an A/C room on the crazy egghead’s boat and she found something she wants you to look at.”
“Chuck I just sent a few pixs I took inside a lab I found onboard the ship. The workers wear radiation badges and when I passed a Geiger counter over the device in the photo the needle jumped all the way over.”
“Okay I got them and I’m bringing them over the monitor to get a better look at.... Oh my God,” said Chuck as he flashed. He saw missiles on the back of Soviet trucks, Mayday celebrations and Red flags. Then he saw mushroom shaped clouds. “It’s a nuke. It’s a North Korean warhead for their Musudan intermediate range ballistic missile.”
“What is a commie warhead doing on Laszlo’s boat? I’m calling Beckman. Alex you stay put where you are and wait for our team to arrive. I don’t know why they haven’t boarded yet,” said John as he brought Beckman up on the monitor going split screen.
“General, we have a problem on the Good Ship Lollypop Alex found a nuke onboard. Chuck flashed on it and I’m uploading the photos to you. Where’s our boarding party?”
“I turned it off when Agent Grimes called in...” Casey cut her off as he went into a tirade about Morgan.
“He did what! They don’t have to worry about killing him I’m going to do it for them. I’m going to strangle him with my own bare hands. I’m going to strangle him until his eyes pop out then I’ll use them to play pool...”
“Colonel, contain yourself Agent Grimes was right in calling off the boarding party. At the time we didn’t know about the nuke and Laszlo slipped off the ship bringing onboard a group of high ranking politicians and celebrities...”
“So we’d look like the village idiots when we raided his yacht looking for Zorin accusing him of being Laszlo. Without Laszlo being onboard there’d be no way to prove that Zorin and Laszlo are the same person. Remember when you said he knew there was a spy sat overhead that’s what tipped him off.”
“I really need to get off this line and go look for Morgan,” said Alex. “We’ve been separated for a while and I need to make sure he’s okay.”
“Wait Alex, a quick question when you went in the lab what precautions did you use again the CCTV cameras they had in place,” asked Chuck as he pointed them out in the background of the photos she took. They were without any doubt pointed right at her.
“Oh crap, there were cameras,” said Alex. “I was thinking so much about getting in I forgot to check. Maybe they didn’t see me.”
“Impossible,” said Chuck. “Listen, you have to assume your cover has been burned. Now you need to get off that ship as quickly as you can and Morgan will have to take care of himself. Alex, I don’t like this anymore than you do but you’re radioactive right now if you get close to Morgan you could blow his cover too.”
“The boarding party has been turned around and they should be back on the pier in twenty,” said the General. “Colonel and this goes for all of you there’s nothing you can do for them right now so stay put. Chuck, if Laszlo isn’t on that yacht where is he? Those documents that were sent to you hold the key decipher them and we might be able to get out from behind this. I expect everyone to follow orders. Beckman out.”
“Alex by now they’ve distributed your photo to the whole crew. Worst case scenario they’ll institute a ship wide search compartment by compartment. If you can make it topside avoid making contact with any of the crew. Once you’re there you can jump ship. You should be close enough to swim ashore but you have to avoid detection at all cost.”
“I’ll try. Dad, I’m sorry I screwed up and if I never get to tell you this again I love you.”
“I love you too,” said Casey then the line dropped. “To hell with the General and her orders I’m going. I’m sorry Chuck if I’m ruining your plan but I can’t...”
“I’m coming with you,” said Sarah. “You’re my partner and Alex is my trainee. If she screwed up it’s my fault.”
“We both are,” said Chuck. But as he was talking the computer came back with a positive hit on Laszlo. Mahnovski’s photo flashed on the monitor with a hundred percent match in the airport at Mexico City.
“No you two stay here I can manage alone. The General’s right we need to get Mahnovski and Chuck you’re the man to do it.” John walked back in the armory and came out with a Makarov 9, loaded it and pulled Chuck’s dart pistol replacing it.
“No John, I can’t carry that you know how I feel about guns.”
“Chuck, I saw the way you took care of those perps in the woods. Keep in mind that Sarah and Walnut will never be safe as long as Laszlo breathes air. If you keep that in mind when the time comes you’ll make the right decision. Look you’ve got another hit,” said John. When Chuck turned his back Casey darted him.
“Are you going to tranq me too,” asked Sarah as John pointed the dart pistol at her.
“No, but only because you’re pregnant put the cuffs on,” said John as he handed them to her. “Chuck can take them off when he comes around. Don’t argue with me you know what I’m doing is right and if it were Chuck or Sam on that ship you’d already be out the door. You need to stay here and keep him focused.”
“Take the Lear it’s gassed up and ready to go. I won’t mention anything about you taking it so you should be able to file a flight plan with no hassles. I only ask you keep us in the loop take one of the burner phones and John good luck.”
“Thanks, tell Chuck no hard feelings but a father has to do what a father has to do no matter if he’s twenty years too late.”