Chuck vs Golden Thumb Chapter 22
Don’t own Chuck
Once they got ashore Chuck looked for transportation to take them to the top of the old summit, Cumbre Vieja that was at the center of the island. They met a guy coming to market driving an old Norton 250cc with sidecar delivering fruits and vegetables. Chuck gave the man enough euros to buy two new bikes then, after getting the chicken and eggs out of the sidecar, he loaded his mother onboard and they took off heading up the dirt road to the summit.
“This takes me back some years,” said Mary as the wind blew through her hair. Chuck opened up the throttle sliding around on curves as he made his way up. “This reminds me of a mission I was on with your father. He was working in a lab that was compromised and I had to get him out. But I was driving and he was riding in the sidecar eating gnats.”
His mother never talked much about when she and his father were in the agency together. He never wanted to pry out of respect and he didn’t want to open any old wounds so these moments where rare.
“So what happened,” asked Chuck as he looked of at Mary. “Were you chased? Did you get away or were you captured?
“Tree,” she yelled gesticulating. Chuck was puzzled by what she said he continued to look over at her.
“Tree? You mean you ran into a tree? Or did you hide in a tree? I guess the tree would have to be big or...” said Chuck but his mother cut him off.
“No you’re about to,” she yelled as she pointed at a tree directly in front of him. “Look out there’s a tree in the middle of the road”. Chuck flashed leaning over hard he raised the sidecar and they passed by it cutting off some low branches. Mary threw out branches and leaves along with a few feather.
“So you were talking about how this reminds you of a mission you were on with Dad,” said Chuck but he knew the moment was gone.
“Eyes front let’s table this until later,” she said. But Chuck realized later meant never but there was little he could do about it and he had to get his head in the game. They continued on the dirt road heading up to the summit kicking up dust as Chuck put the bike through its paces.
“Chuck, what’s the plan?” yelled Mary over the noise of the bike and the drive. Each pot hole reminded her and her kidneys she wasn’t as young as she used to be.
“We drive to the summit foil Laszlo’s evil plan by deactivating the nuke then shoot him in the face. If I were Casey I’d then add go out for pancakes. Piece of cake no?”
“A little more detail would be appreciated but we can fill it in as we go I guess. We must be getting close to something,” said Mary as they started running into no trespassing and trespassers will be shot signs.
“They don’t seem to be friendly around here,” said Chuck as he pointed out the placards posted by the road and the long fence with barbed wire on the top.
“Charles, this road has to lead to a gate or entrance of some kind,” said Mary then a gate with armed guards came in sight. “There... up ahead is something.”
“Do you hear that? It’s a helicopter probably the one Laszlo left on. Hold on it’s time to take a peek,” said Chuck as he ran through the gate. They heard men yelling behind them as they blew through then they heard the sound of small arms being fired followed by the whizzing sound of bullets flying past them.
“Over there,” yelled Mary she pointed to an old trail that cut across the top of the summit. Chuck drove until he got into a grove of trees where they could ditch the bike but stay hidden out of sight. “Chuck look below,” said Mary as workers in white lab coats attached the warhead to a cable hanging down from the helicopter hovering overhead.
“Okay that’s how they’re going to put the warhead down the shaft but how are they going to cap it,” said Chuck. “There is May Day and Laszlo.” They saw them walking below doing what looked like an inspection of the shaft. He saw Laszlo toss May Day what looked like a piece of C-4 with a remote wireless detonator.
“Look,” said Mary, “Laszlo’s pointing at the charge then he’s pointing down inside the shaft. They have to have charges set up in the shaft so after they place the warhead they’re going to seal it by caving it in. What do you want to do? Charles, Charles did you hear me?” said Mary as she looked around but Chuck was gone.
[Down Near the Shaft]
Zorin and May Day were doing a last minute inspection making sure everything was ready for Laszlo’s revenge. He walked over and made sure personally that the cable was attached securely to the warhead then signaled for them to lift it up then watched them lower it in.
“I’m sorry you lost me on this one Laszlo... I mean Max. The device you constructed in the Pacific was based on water or steam expansion to move the slump. Here it’s dry I don’t understand, why?”
“That’s why I’m the genius and you are the minion my love. It’s simple,” he said as he tossed her a C-4 charge with wireless detonator. “We place the warhead at the bottom of this shaft. Below are ventilation shafts caused by the last eruption then we seal this tunnel with charges like that placed in the wall. Once this is closed we detonate the warhead hot gas expands heating the whole backside of the summit to molten temperatures. The plugs at the end of the vents are reopened but without magma to stop the back flow of ocean water. The cooler ocean water with make contact with the hot rock and crack,” said Laszlo as he held out a pencil snapping it in half at the same time for effect.
“You mean it will be like putting a hot glass bottle in cold water,” said May as she looked down in the shaft. She heard voices from workers below.
“See I knew my genius would rub off on you. Very good my lovely an excellent example but yes exactly like that. Then the broken part will simple slide into the ocean.”
“Max, there are people still down there. Shouldn’t you be evacuating everyone they are your workers?” said May as she saw people moving around below.
“Inferior souls who are actually giving meaning to their lives by doing my bidding and in the end give tribute to my intellect by sacrificing their meaningless existence for my project. They’re pawns on a chessboard or fodder for cannons. Now let’s go someplace where we can get out of this heat. I need a cherry coke. Don’t look at me like that, I sent them down a couple cases of cherry coke.”
In the Pacific on the ocean floor, the mini sub was making its run to the shaft. They were hauling as the rig above was slowly moving in place. The O’Kane had damaged its propulsion system but that had been calculated in and now the currents were taking it into position. The First Mate knew it was now or never and the warhead had to be dropped.
“You’ve got us moving too soon, the surface ships have got to have us on their sonar now. If we don’t hide soon we’re done for.”
“No keep on going the platform is almost in place we need to get the bomb in the breech before they seal it or all our effort has been wasted. Don’t expect a hero’s welcome when we surface.”
“But at least I’ll surface. You’re as insane as the nutjob we work for. No, I’m taking us to the bottom where we can hide. Shoot me if you want but remember if the bullet passes through me you’re in deep kimchi.”
“Who said anything about shooting,” said the First Mate as he flipped the toggle for autopilot shoving a knife into the Third Mate at the same time. “Dr. Zorin told me to get rid of all obstacles that includes you.” He pulled the Third Mate out of the seat then proceeded to the breech as fast as the electric motors of the sub would take them.
“You’re insane,” moaned the Third Mate as he bled out on the deck. “You’re never going to make it out of here alive.”
“There we are it’s just ahead,” said the First Mate. Then there was a loud explosion the lights blinked and the sub shook. Warning alarms started screaming as water began to leak inside.
“I got this now,” said the First Mate as he held true to course. Resting the sub on the porthole he dropped the warhead down the shaft.
“Medusa this is Starfish mission accomplished seal the breech,” radioed the First Mate as he started humming ‘She’ll Becoming ‘Round The Mountain’ when the sub disintegrated from a direct hit.
[On the O’Kane]
There was a series of cheers on the bridge when Fire Control called up to tell them the bandit had been eliminated. But the CO called everyone to order reminding them that men were still fighting on the platform.
“Everyone calm down this isn’t over yet we’ve still got men on that rig. Call the Hamilton and let’s begin circling the rig. We can test their defense perimeter. If the Colonel has taken out her missile batteries we can send over our own boarding party.
“Sir, sir,” said a man as he ran on the bridge then over to the Skipper. “This was intercepted by Comms a message the sub communicated with the platform right before we got it.” He handed the CO a piece of paper he read it then he passed it to Alex.
“We were too late he seated the nuke before we got him,” announced the CO which took the wind out of everyone’s sails. “It’s now up to the Colonel on the platform. Let’s draw a little fire and see what happens. Set a course running parallel with the platform let’s take her in close. Sound battle stations. Let me talk with the CO of the Hamilton.”
“He’s on the horn Sir,” said the officer of the deck. He handed the mic to the Skipper as the Boatswain’s mate of the watch sounded all hands to battle stations.
“Bill I want you to hang on our starboard side as we make a run then when we draw fire you drop back and take out their defense positions. If I’m right once they’ve targeted us with their automatic fire control radars it will take them time to disengage from us then switch to you so in that meantime you can take out their batteries.”
“Roger that let’s light them up.”
[Meanwhile Outside the Control Room]
Morgan had his toxic cocktail of bleach and ammonia now he just had to get it to his delivery system which was the air duct. The only problem was that the duct was suspended twenty feet off the deck over an open hatch that led straight down to the ocean below.
“Looks like someone is going to have to climb up there then open the access hatch on top of the duct. They could then drop a rope and pull up your bucket put the bucket inside then climb back down.”
“Yeah that would work but where are you going to find someone to volunteer. All your men are keeping the men in the Control Room boxed in.”
“Everybody except one,” said Casey as he looked at him and patted him on the shoulder.
“Oh no, no way I’ll get a nosebleed and aren’t you always calling me Troll? Well Trolls live underground not up in the air.”
“Grimes remember this was your idea and you’re saving the lives of your fellow agents. It’s time to show me what you’re made of. I’d do it but the duct won’t support my weight.”
“Yeah I was going to mention that. You know you really ought to lay off all those hot pockets and get some fiber in your diet. Do you eat your own muffins? Or do you just try to make the rest of us suffer?”
“How would you like me to... Oh I get it... you get me mad I break something then you can’t climb up there. Well it’s not happening.”
“It was worth a try. Okay but I warned you don’t stand below me my stomach already feels queasy,” said Morgan as he grabbed the first rung of the ladder and started going up carrying rope wrapped around him.
“Don’t worry Morgan,” said Casey up at him as he was halfway up. “I can always break something when you come back down. And for your information yes I do eat my own muffins. It’s just you Philistines don’t appreciate them.”
“That explains a lot. I hate to tell you Big Guy but the rats and ants don’t like them either,” said Morgan as he was almost at the top.
“What did you say? Grimes, you need to speak up,” yelled Casey. “You’re going to have to repeat your last I didn’t hear it.”
“I said I’m almost there stand by with the bucket of ammonia. I’m dropping the rope now,” said Morgan after he opened the access panel on the duct.
Morgan lowered the rope and Casey attached it to the bucket then Morgan pulled it up. Chief McAlister watched Morgan with his men as they kept the pressure up on the men in the Control Room. The bucket of Ammonia got put in with no problem then Morgan sent the rope back down for the bleach. However, as he was pulling it up there were some loud explosions and the whole platform shook. Morgan had to grab on to the duct and held on to the rope with his teeth.
“Casey what the heck,” yelled Morgan but with the rope in his mouth that was about all that was discernable.
“Stop screwing around up there and get this done,” yelled Casey. “That was the O’Kane or the Hamilton taking the platform under fire. We need to hurry up so get in gear up there and finish what you started. Don’t make me come up there.”
“I’d like to see you up here trying to hold on and pull up this rope at the same time... oh that’s right you can’t because you’re too heavy not to say....”
“Grimes remember you have to come down sooner or later. Now hurry up and finish or I’ll declare squirrel season,” said Casey.
“Just about done,” said Morgan as he added the bleach then closed the panel. There were another series of explosions after he had everything buttoned up. The platform shook again but now Morgan was feeling a little light headed from breathing the fumes and lost his grip.
“Crap Grimes,” said Casey as he grabbed the railing reached out caught Morgan with one hand then pulled him back in holding him in his arms.
“I knew you cared John,” said Morgan. Casey promptly let him drop on the deck plate. He made a loud thud when he hit and a low moan
“No get up and stop screwing around let’s see if your bright idea actually works,” said John as he walked back over to the Chief.
“Did you get it in,” asked McAlister both John and Morgan nodded their heads. Then there was another loud explosion and the rig shook. “I don’t know how much more this thing can take. I wish we knew what was going on.”
“No more word from the O’Kane,” asked Casey. “Something must’ve changed if they’re shelling us now.”
“Here we go,” said Morgan as they started hearing people inside coughing. “It won’t take long now before they start pouring out. Tell your man to standby and be ready.”
[A Little While Before Inside the Control Room]
“Dr. Zorin we’re trapped inside the Control Room. You promised us an exit strategy well I don’t see one. We don’t have anywhere to go I’m requesting permission to surrender. It’s useless to continue,” said a man in a white coat to Laszlo on the monitor.
“Did the warhead get seated?” There was a pause as the man obviously was thinking about what to say. “It was an easy question. Did the warhead get seated? You can give me a simple yes or no but if that’s too difficult you can either nod or shake your head.”
“Well technically yes it did but there could’ve also been damage done to the shaft which will make our sacrifice useless. So I think...”
“You’re not being paid to think you’re paid to follow orders and your orders are to continue on with the mission at all cost. I don’t want you to think I’m heartless. Once you’re in place you can surrender but not until you’re lined up. You know what will happen to you and your families if you disobey.”
“Yes, we’re all well aware,” said the man as he started coughing then he looked around to see everyone else coughing too. His eyes began to water and his throat started burning. “My God they’re using mustard gas.”
Laszlo sat comfortably halfway around the world in his mining offices sipping on his cherry coke. He watched his men start to run out of the Control Room in mass panic then he saw on his monitor Colonel Casey and Morgan walk in.
“Colonel Casey, Morgan you surprised me and that isn’t easy to do. Colonel you and Chuck have a certain knack for resurrection. I guess that means the other Agent is still alive too. Well I’m going to have to see about that but you two I can handle now,” said Laszlo. “Do you like my pretty button, magenta? Everyone chooses red but I thought I’d be different.”
“You’re different all right, a different kind of crazy,” said Casey. “I’m going to enjoy putting a bullet in your head and draining off a quart of genius. You should invest in some corks because you’re going to need them to keep your brains from pouring out.”
“Funny man John,” said Laszlo. He pressed his magenta button. The whole platform shook then began to settle. “While we were talking I calculated the drift factor in my head and guess what you’re close enough to close the breech and there’s nothing you can do about it. Oh if you want to live I’d start running,” said Laszlo as he laughed.
“Come on Morgan let’s run,” yelled Casey. Morgan picked up a pistol and emptied it into the monitor. Sparks and flames shot out before it went blank.
“Now we can go,” said Morgan as he tossed the empty pistol. They ran as fast as they could as water rapidly filled the platform. Deck after deck behind them filled with water as they ran up the ladders until they were topside as it went under.
“Hold onto something that floats if not the rig will suck you down with it,” yelled Casey as he fought to stay afloat. Morgan had a hold of a floating barrel when he saw Casey go under.
“No, no,” said Morgan. He dove under after him he found Casey a few feet underwater. Grabbing the back of his jacket he pulled him up as he swam for the surface. Breaking surface he found the motor whaleboats of the O’Kane and the Hamilton picking up survivors.
“Help me get him on board,” yelled Morgan. The men on board pulled Casey in then Morgan climbed in. “Lay him out on deck,” said Morgan as he straddled John. “John, this is for your own good.” Morgan bent down like he was going to give him mouth to mouth but Casey’s eyes opened up.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” said Casey as he looked up at Morgan’s eyes looking down at him. “Get off of me.”
“I was just going to give you the kiss of life,” said Morgan as Casey shoved him off.
“And I’ll give you the kiss of my fist if you don’t get off of me.”
A little while later they were back onboard the O’Kane changed into coveralls. The CO received them in his stateroom.
“I can’t put into words how I feel,” said the CO as he looked out the porthole to where the rig once stood. “We did our best and some of our best gave even more but we couldn’t stop him. PACFLT has ordered all ships available to standby and be ready to take on as many passengers as possible then put to sea. The Air Force and Marine Air Commands are flying east to safe ground. All this is taking place because we couldn’t stop one lunatic.”
“What are your orders,” asked Casey. He already had an idea what they were. “I take it there’s a reason we’re still sitting here waiting.”
“Yes we’re the sentinel standing watch over the apocalypse. Our data flow is being sent directly to Pearl where analysts are looking it over. As soon as the event takes place they will use us to determine the magnitude and the area that will be affected.”
“How do you know when the ‘event’ will occur? It could be now or a couple of days from now. We still might have time to remove that rig.”
“That was debated back in Pearl too but there’s just not enough time even if we had the resources. Dr. Zorin was kind enough to provide us with a countdown clock that appeared in Combat. We have less than half an hour. If you’re thinking about firing torpedoes we thought of that. We risk ensuring the breech has an even more secure seal. No at this point there’s nothing that can be done. I have a chopper coming to take your people off.”
“With all due respect I’d prefer to stay,” said John but he looked back at Alex and Morgan. “However, you can send the rest of my team away.”
“No Dad, if you’re staying so are we,” said Alex. Morgan nodded his head then took Alex’s hand.
“Colonel, Commander this is a useless conversation,” said McAlister. “Where would we go to? We’d never reach our families in time and the blast will create an EMP that will knock the chopper out of the sky. Even if we make it to shore the tsunami that this thing creates will come crashing back on the islands with worse force than when it hits the east coast.”
“Then the only thing we can do is wait it out and prepare for heavy seas.”
“That’s probably an understatement,” said Casey as he pulled out cigars and passed them around. “You know what they say something’s got to kill you.”