CHUCK VERSUS DAS BOOT (Chuck 6-07)

Sequel to "Chuck Versus Route 66—Part Two" (you might want to read that first if you haven't), and the seventh episode of an imaginary sixth season of Chuck.

A seemingly routine job for C. I.—and a cryptic distress call from Jeffster!—send Chuck, Sarah, Morgan, and Alex to the Rhine River country of Germany! Please fasten your Lederhosen as our heroes take a riverboat cruise into a realm of dark castles, decadent rich people, curious QR codes, Pop Musik, and Liebfraumilch! And…the Wurst is yet to come!


There is a SOUNDTRACK for this episode (as in the actual series). Music cues are embedded in the text, and you can listen while you read! The soundtrack is available on 8tracks dot com; just search on the tag "anthropocene." You can also find a direct link to the soundtrack on my author Bio page.

I appreciate hearing from my readers at any time...whether you liked the story or not, or have comments or questions. Even just a few words are always welcome. This is the only compensation a FF author ever gets. So please send me a comment via the review box at the end of each chapter...and THANK YOU!

Disclaimer: This fan-fiction story should not be construed as a violation of copyright because I do not claim to own Chuck.


"Hi—I'm Chuck! Here are a few things you might need to know, or maybe just forgot…."

(Flashback to Chuck and Sarah at the doorstep of Ellie and Devon's Chicago home—as Sarah looks into Chuck's eyes and tells him, "I'm remembering…I wanted us out of the spy world…all of us…as soon as we're done with this Intersect business…." Chuck replies, "Deal, babe. Deal," and the two of them seal that deal with a fierce kiss….)

(Flashback to CIA Agent Juanita Saldana breaking into Ellie's office and examining one of the Keys that Chuck built…then liberating Manoosh Depark from imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay to work for her: "I require a skilled assistant for a very special project….")

(Flashback to Morgan and Alex viewing the mysterious DVD sent from Germany by Jeffster!...Alex asks, "It's some kind of message for Chuck and Sarah, don't you think?" and Morgan replies, "More than that—it's a call for help!")

(Flashback to an excited Ellie breaking the news to a very nervous Chuck and Sarah: "Sarah, you're pregnant!")


PROLOGUE

In a state-of-the-art, secure research laboratory hidden in a facility near the campus of Stanford University

(Music: "The Right Thing [Kleerup Remix]," by Moby feat. Inyang Bassey)

A freshly groomed Manoosh plunges into his work, backed by a righteous mix on a pair of Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones: a little gift from his new lady boss whose name he still does not know. He sits at a workstation, familiarizing himself with a complex series of circuit diagrams and 3-D renderings—the raw empirical designs for the Key pirated by Saldana herself. A fully equipped "fab lab" surrounds him in readiness: a facility in which any kind of device can be built, including a functioning copy of Stephen Bartowski's pivotal invention.

Manoosh opens, closes, and shuffles windows on his monitor screen, while typing on a digital notepad in sync with the dance music pulsing in his ears. He bounces energetically in his swivel chair and slaps the soles of his sneakers against the floor, unconcerned with the electronic tether strapped on just above his right ankle. And if he's aware that Agent Juanita Saldana and Professor Fleming are watching him on a surveillance monitor in an adjacent room, that isn't fazing him in the least either.

Saldana, standing alongside the Professor in his wheelchair, watches Manoosh work with unconcealed pride in her eyes. But Fleming's outlook is more cynical.

"Can he be trusted?" the Professor asks his former student. "He's an MIT man after all. You know I prefer to play with an all-Stanford bench."

She laughs softly. "Sí…but at the present time Manoosh Depark is the best available athlete. And up to the task, I think."

"We shall see."

For a while, they continue to watch Manoosh at his labors. Then Fleming remembers another concern, and lifts his face inquisitively toward Saldana.

"I found it interesting—and worrisome, my dear Juanita," he notes, "that you were finally able to secure the schematics for the Key right about when I was making my case to the Bartowskis. I hope my trip to Chicago wasn't simply intended as a distraction."

"¡Por supuesto que no—of course it was not!" counters Saldana with mock indignation. "We both had valid orders. Perhaps the Agency was hedging its bets, but I am certain my superiors believed your arguments could win the day. Except that Sarah proved as intransigent as ever."

"Yes." Fleming sighs sadly. "And…I'm not supposed to know exactly how you got the intel…am I?"

Saldana pats him gently on the shoulder. "No laws were broken, sir. That much I can say. And now…with the assistance of Mr. Depark, I will soon have Keys made here. And that will put our team on the inside track to a fully reliable Human Intersect modality."

The Professor perks up. "That will help a great deal, Juanita, but in the meantime we're already making progress—surprisingly good progress, all things considered. Thanks to the data sets on Winterbottom and Shaw that you provided, we might even be a little farther along than the good Doctor Woodcomb is right now."

Saldana beams in approval—but Fleming shrugs.

"Of course," he continues, lifting his eyebrows, "we'd be even nearer to our goal if I'd been able to study even one of those two subjects in vivo, rather than in silico."

"I know, Professor…I know. Such a pity Shaw is dead. As for Winterbottom, we have operatives assiduously searching the globe for him."

Fleming nods. "We also could have learned much from Chuck and Sarah Bartowski."

"They will see the light eventually," says Saldana. "Hopefully before they are struck down by the oncoming train."


Thousands of miles away, on a jumbo jet midway through a red-eye transatlantic flight

(Music: "Mission Creep," by Cheatahs)

The sleek jumbo streaks through a moonless, clear night high above the Atlantic….

Sarah makes her way up the compact spiral staircase leading from the sleepy first-class cabin to the lounge deck above. At a distance, she has the look of an elegant and experienced world traveler, in her dark taupe knit maxi-length dress, comfortable low-heel pumps, a single strand of cream-white pearls, and a black leather handbag. But a closer look reveals a pallor to her smooth skin and shakiness in her normally graceful motions. As she ascends the spiral stairs, Sarah is trying hard not to jiggle her innards.

The lounge deck is dimly lit, so that the full glory of the starry sky outside can seep in through the cabin windows. There are no customers at the semicircular bar in the middle of the lounge; just the bartender, who gives Sarah a little wave. She smiles wanly at him and continues past the bar to an aft seating area, where three plush leatherette chairs are set in a half-circle around a tiny table and facing a television screen mounted on the rear bulkhead wall. The TV is on but muted, and running a business news program from CNBC.

Sarah takes her iPhone out of her handbag. As she unlocks the screen and settles down in one of the leatherette chairs, her attention is briefly drawn to a particular news item that appears in the crawl at the bottom of the screen:

…TECH TRENDSETTER ROARK INSTRUMENTS DECLARES BANKRUPTCY—ALL ASSETS TO BE SOLD OFF…

"Hmmm," Sarah murmurs to herself, before quietly instructing her phone to "Call Mom at home." Waiting for the call to go through, she peers back over her shoulder. The bartender has his back to her, and is busy wiping down a set of highball glasses.

The face of her mother Emma appears on her screen.

("Hello? Ohhh! Hi sweetheart!")

Sarah holds the phone close so that she can speak out of the bartender's earshot.

"Hi, Mom. I thought it was still early enough back in California that I could call."

("Of course it is. Any time is fine really. Molly's in bed though. How are you doing?")

"Okay…now that I'm over the initial shock."

("It'd be a lie if I told you I'm not thrilled," Emma joyfully replies.)

"That's what I figured."

("But how are you doing…?")

"Well…considering that I'd been telling Chuck over and over again that I didn't feel ready to be a mother yet…." Sarah rolls her eyes and takes a long breath.

("Well," says Emma cautiously, "that's certainly understandable, dear…it's only been a few months since your accident—")

"But I guess we got a little careless," Sarah interrupts, "and now it's happened—and maybe you're going to be shocked, Mom—but I'm happy…and so excited! For the first time since I…since my accident, I feel…well, just normal again! Can you believe it?"

("Of course I can, Sarah—it's you! You're going to be a loving, caring mother—and Chuck will be a terrific father. I'll bet he's all excited too…isn't he?")

"Oh, he is, for sure…though when Ellie first told us, he freaked out more than I did!" Sarah giggles and shakes her head at the recollection. "But you know he's really happy too…and he's taking very good care of me, whenever I let him."

("That's so wonderful," says Emma. "So you aren't just calling me for reassurance then.")

"No…but I do have an important—and kind of personal—question for you."

Sarah's expression abruptly turns sheepish—and Emma breaks into a knowing grin.

("It's either about having sex during pregnancy, or morning sickness…isn't it?")

"Mother!" Sarah blurts out, startling the bartender. She blushes and lowers her voice back down to a whisper. "No—no issues with sex. It's the morning sickness. Not just morning! Afternoon…evening…midnight…I'm just feeling bleah all the time."

("I thought you looked a little out of sorts, dear. And I still remember having it pretty bad too, back when I was carrying you.")

"What goes around," Sarah ruefully notes. "So what works for it?"

("Ginger. Ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger snaps—anything with ginger in it will help tremendously.")

Sarah glances toward the bar and smiles. "Talk about your perfect timing."

She and Emma continue their teleconversation for a few more minutes, then part fondly. Sarah slings her handbag over her shoulder, eases to her feet, and goes to the bar. The bartender awaits her with a friendly smile, glad to have a customer at this wee hour. He's greying, perhaps somewhere in his early sixties, and has kindly eyes.

"What would you like, young lady?"

"Double ginger ale, please. Light on the ice."

"You got it!" He tosses a half-scoop of ice cubes into a tall glass, reaches for his soda gun, and meticulously fills Sarah's glass to within a few millimeters of the brim with the bubbly, light-amber beverage. He sets it down on a cocktail napkin in front of her.

Sarah takes a big gulp of the ginger ale and sighs gratefully, feeling some relief even as it goes down. She sets her iPhone on the bar and opens a tourist website: NEW!—RIVERBOAT GAMING CRUISES ON THE RHINE! She quickly becomes absorbed in studying the text and images.

The bartender abruptly looks up and past her, toward the stairs. Someone else has come up to the lounge deck. Without turning around, Sarah smiles, having made Chuck by the barely audible rhythm of his footsteps. A second later, he slips his arms around her waist.

"Hel-looo there, gorgeous yet tragically unaccompanied lady," Chuck croons as he releases her and takes the barstool by her side. He's wearing a blue blazer over a grey oxford shirt and cardinal-red tie, slightly loosened. He leans toward Sarah for a kiss. She surprises him by turning her head so that his kiss lands on her cheekbone rather than her lips.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," she murmurs. "A little worried about my breath right now."

Chuck takes a gentle sniff and shrugs. "Nothing but ginger, babe—you're good. I was wondering where you'd gotten to. I'd say something like 'you know you can't get away from me when we're in a jet forty thousand feet over the ocean'…except that you probably could."

Sarah smiles mischievously. "But why would I? You knocked me up—you're twice as stuck with me now."

They both laugh at that—then, their conversation momentarily halts as the bartender comes over and lays a napkin down in front of Chuck.

"For you, sir?" he asks.

"Oh, right…" Chuck gestures toward Sarah's half-empty glass. "Whatever my wife's having is fine for me. Thanks."

"I didn't want to wake you," Sarah continues after the bartender steps away. "You looked so comfortable curled up in your seat. So I came up here to give my Mom a call and chat about lady stuff. She sends you her love."

"That's nice. She and Molly doing well?"

"Yes…both are fine."

"Great! I'd have been up here sooner—but I had to check all the forward lavatories first." He shoulder-bumps her…but tenderly.

"H'yeah," Sarah chortles. "Except that by now, there isn't anything left inside for me to hurl."

"You poor thing. Better drink up," Chuck suggests, as the bartender brings him his own glass of ginger ale and tops Sarah's glass off. "Gotta keep you well hydrated, for the little rugrat's sake."

Sarah shoulder-bumps him back—with a bit more oomph.

"Been thinking about that little rugrat," she says. "A baby will bring some rather drastic changes to our lifestyle. No more jet-setting for quite some time."

Chuck nods. "Seems to fit in nicely with our plans to scale back on the more hazardous aspects of our work, wouldn't you say?"

"Yes—absolutely—but are we going to be okay with that?"

"Why not? There'll be plenty of jobs you and I can do from Castle or the office…or even home. Ellie's still gonna need help with her research. And I haven't even started on mining those files we copied from The Octopus—"

"That's not what I meant, sweetie," Sarah cuts in. "Everything you just rattled off is fine, but none of it pays nearly as well as the big off-site contracts—like this one now that we've got in Germany." She points to the images on her iPhone screen. "Our little company's been on an upward trend all this year, and I'd sure like to keep that going."

"Yeah," agrees Chuck, now sporting one of his classic goofy grins. "Especially since we've got to start saving up for college tuition and all that."

Sarah swats him on the arm and playfully growls, "You'd better not be making fun of me!"

"No, no…I'm just staying optimistic. We'll be just fine, babe. I mean—between the two of us, just think about the skill set we command!"

"True that. And before you know it, it'll be 'between the three of us.' Or is that 'among the three of us?' Anyway, our rugrat's going to be one formidable addition to Clan Bartowski. And—oh, wait a sec—look!"

Sarah's sixth sense draws her notice back to the TV across the bar, just as the news item about Roark Instruments going broke shows up again.

She points to the screen. "Did you hear about that?"

Chuck squints to read the text on the crawl—then his body jolts in astonishment. "Wow—no I didn't!"

"I suppose it was bound to happen," reasons Sarah, "without Roark at the helm."

"Yeah. Ted was an evil SOB and he robbed my Dad blind, but nobody can say he didn't know his market inside and out."

"Indeed." Sarah finishes off her ginger aie and reaches down to squeeze her husband's knee. "You know, I'm feeling much better. Ready to go back downstairs?"

"Sure…."

"Any chance the kids are asleep down there in first class?"

"Alex was, but you know Morgan—he's doing that silly meditation he thinks keeps the plane flying. Why do you ask…?"

Sarah chooses to explain by running her forefinger lightly up Chuck's leg, from his knee toward his waist. She bends and whispers huskily in his ear:

"'Cause I was thinking we'd put a date movie on your iPad, with two sets of earbuds and a nice big blanket…and maybe engage in some clandestine ops."

"You are feeling better," Chuck murmurs in her ear. "But in the middle of first class? We'll have to keep it PG."

"Maybe," replies Sarah. "Maybe not. What was that you just said about our combined skill set…?"

(Opening credits and "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" theme by Cake)