A/N Part two of the finale. I'm changing the functionality of the Norseman somewhat. In canon it was simply a killing box that would allow anyone to kill anything anywhere, so that someone as weak as Vivian could kill someone as strong as Sarah. I'm trying to give it a bit more explanation, with a few more limitations, to explain how Sarah could survive where everyone else died.
"Same mountains, different country."
"An unfortunate accident."
"Good plan, mom."
"A weapon of last resort."
A few days later…
"Morgan, buddy, can you take a picture for us?"
"Sure thing, Chuck." The manager put down his collection of menus and took the phone, envious as usual that his best friend had the best toys. He centered the screen on General Beckman's red hair, as everyone else in her party gathered around her. "What's the occasion?"
Chuck waited until he'd taken the standard three photos of the same pose before answering. He wasn't sure exactly what to say. They'd never met Julian Barker, but they'd kept in touch with Cole and shared his anxiety over his nephew. Now that said nephew was out of hospital and freshly commended for his actions aboard the sinking Contessa, friends on both sides of The Pond were celebrating. "Somebody lived," said Chuck finally, reclaiming his phone.
"That's great," said Morgan, knowing he'd never hear more than that, but he took what he could get, just like all his friends. "I hope all you guys can make it to Alex' graduation party."
"Uh…" said Casey, straightening. Alex Coburn officially died in 1989. No one had told his ex-fiancee Kathleen about his continued existence under another name.
"Don't worry, big guy," said Morgan, aware of that little wrinkle. "We're having two, spies and straights. No press at the spy one."
Casey nodded. He didn't get many chances to see his daughter openly anymore. She was graduating with three commendations and a citation of merit, two of which she'd earned before she even started the course, and the FBI knew a good promotional opportunity when it saw one. Alex was rapidly becoming the face of the agency for a new generation, and the press hovered. "Absolutely."
A few days after that…
The grounds were still, the house unoccupied. A window slid up easily, the alarms disabled. A figure clad all in black slipped through the space and walked calmly across the floor, confident that he was alone. He walked past chests, ignored the electronics, checked no drawers.
In the main bedroom he flipped the covers down, and checked the pillows with a light. With a pair of tweezers he lifted a strand of hair from the pillow and coiled it around a swab, stowing the whole thing into a sealed plastic bag before going on his way.
"How does it work?" asked Vivian. Days of seclusion, of frantic preparation. In spite of the blast, she had no illusions that all of her enemies were destroyed, or indeed, that any of them had been. Her father's notes always mentioned an Agent X, the man who would destroy him. She assumed he meant that metaphorically. There had to be one someday, and for him it been Agent Charles. For her, who could say, but with the Norseman in hand she could make her killer pay a high price before the end.
"I'm afraid the physics is beyond me," said the weaponeer hesitantly. "From the look of it, these two components are virtually identical, but where the tracker merely locates a target, the killing component emits a signal that, um, clogs the inner workings of the victim's cells so that they can no longer function."
"What are the outward signs?" asked Riley, always concerned with evidence, and how to conceal it.
"I haven't tested it yet, sir," said the technician.
"No time like the present."
"Yes, sir." The tech lifted the Norseman from the bracket. "If you'll just hold this…" He went to a rack and brought over a cage of ordinary mice. Reaching into the cage he selected one and pulled off a few hairs. On the side of the tracker he pressed a button and a panel popped out. He put the hairs on the panel and pushed it back in. "All set."
Riley noted the gun-like shape. "Do I have to aim it?"
The technician nodded. "The signal emits as a cone, so distance and directionality are factors. From far enough away, or poorly aimed, the victim would take longer to die, or possibly escape the cone entirely."
Riley pointed the Norseman at the cage and pulled the trigger. The technician clapped his hands over his ears, bled from the nose, and fell over dead. So did one of the mice, but without all the hullabaloo.
"Well," said Riley, looking at the man's corpse. "I'd say that was a successful test." He handed the Norseman to Vivian. "My lady, your kingdom awaits." From his pocket he pulled out his recorder. "Note to self, re Norseman. Always wear rubber gloves."
A figure clad in black dangled in a chute of stone, a ventilation shaft cut into the rock that led into the weapons lab. He heard everything, except for whatever made the dead guy shout "What's that noise?" right before he became a dead guy.
Too late. He considered dropping a grenade down there, and taking whatever pieces remained, but his orders were explicit. The whole weapon, nothing less.
Still, there was actionable intelligence to be had. When they left the room he dropped down into the lab, almost on top of the dead guy. He reached into the cage and grabbed the mouse, then hit the retractor on his cable.
Yet more days later…
"It's like watching a Pink Panther movie," said Chuck out loud.
"Is that your professional analysis, Mr. Bartowski?" asked General Beckman calmly.
Chuck looked up, at his team gathered on the monitor. Casey scowling as usual, but the ladies all seemed to be amused to some (very slight, in the General's case) degree. "I…could use fancier words if you'd like, General…"
"I would like to get on a conference call with my peers in the intelligence community with something more to go on than Jacques Clouseau, yes."
Chuck cleared his throat. "It's a deliberately provoked feeding frenzy, General. She doesn't even need to use the Norseman, just let the news of its existence leak out into the weapons-dealer community and let them tear each other to bits over it. The ones that don't get killed by their fellow arms dealers get mowed down by her mercenaries before they can get close. Soon she'll be the only game in town."
"She said she'd use it to claim her kingdom, she just didn't say how," commented Casey.
"Try 'empire', Colonel, and you'll have some idea of why my colleagues are getting involved," said Beckman. "We may have to accept black markets as a fact of life, but we cannot allow one person to monopolize the business, or take over any more of it than she already has. We have to capture the Norseman, so that we can demonstrate to the world that it has been destroyed."
"You can't be coming to us to do that, General," said Sarah. An observation, not a directive. "She knows all of our faces."
"Correct, Sarah," said the General. "This team will support, but another team will take point when action is called for."
"Do we know what action that will be?"
"No, but we have a general idea. Once the number of players drops below threshold, Vivian will have to change her tactics. We must be ready when she does."
"Use it or lose it."
Another quiet day in the lab…
"Hey Chuck," said Manoosh. "How's life back in the cave?"
Chuck took a second to reply. "After you've destroyed the Death Star, it's hard to go back to fixing moisture vaporators, you know?" Even with Darth Vivian out there, gunning for him.
"Actually I do, Chuck," said Manoosh, his voice oddly flat.
If Chuck had had something to bonk his head on, he'd have bonked his head on it. "Sorry, Manoosh, didn't mean to bring up bad memories."
Bad memories. Try 'Dark Side of the Force', not a memory at all. The voice of power, whispering. He turned his back on it again, as he always did. The Dark Side may have had cookies, but it would never have Ellie, or Orion, or the rest of his true friends. "No worries. How's the project coming?"
Chuck was grateful for the change of subject. "Just need an audience."
"I think we can make that happen."
Another afternoon meeting, not so quiet...
"Good afternoon, team. We've just received…Hannah? What are you doing here? I thought you had a few days left on your honeymoon."
Hannah made a face. "I made the mistake of checking my emails, General. I saw what was up and…we knew my place was here."
General Beckman sat up straight. "Analyst, your country thanks you, and your husband, for your service."
Hannah gaped a second, and looked down, suddenly shy. "Uh, thank you, General."
Embarrassing her wasn't the General's intention, so she redirected the attention of the group back to the mission at hand. "Interpol has recently detained Graciela La Barba, wife of the Italian arms dealer, Ettore La Barba, as a suspect in his recent murder."
Hannah put up two photos of the not-so-happy ex-couple.
"He looks like Morgan," said Chuck.
Casey grunted in a way that normally meant he'd been stabbed.
Beckman ignored him. "Sra. La Barba claims that she was not fleeing the country, but was instead simply going to Moscow to attend the very private auction of a new weapon, as part of her husband's, now her, business."
No one needed her to spell out the implications. Casey took it one step further. "General, you can't be thinking–?"
"Can you think of anyone better suited, Colonel?"
"Better suited than who, General?" asked Chuck, looking from one to the other like a little fat kid hoping to get picked for a team.
"Greta," said Casey, almost spitting, except there were no sibilants in the name.
"Which one?" said Carina, confused. Not the season for it.
"Not a Greta, Miller," said Casey. "The Greta. The only student never to pass Montgomery's little charm school. She's an assassin, and she likes it, but it's all she likes. I'd say she's a dead ringer for the little woman up there, but that joke's too much like the truth."
Beckman added, "She'll be the perfect addition to Vivian's soiree. If things go well, she'll simply outbid everyone for the Norseman, and leave without bloodshed. If not…"
"If not, she'll get to do what she likes doing a lot more than peacefully outbidding other people," said Casey.
"Which is why your team will be on hand to keep her under control, Colonel." Beckman dismissed her team with a more-heartfelt-than-usual "Good Luck."
Casey waited until the screen went black. "This is a horrible idea."
"Can I just go on record as saying I hate this plan?" said Agent Bartowski (male).
Greta frowned. "It's your plan, isn't it?"
"Yeah it is, but it's not the best."
Greta looked mildly curious, a better expression than the frown and especially the smile. "What's the best?"
"Your enemies all have convenient heart attacks while you're home watching Star Wars on the newly re-re-re-re-re-remastered Blu-Ray edition."
"Where's the fun in that?"
Chuck looked at the demure young woman, dressed in her executive finest. It looked form-fitting, not that he wanted to think about the form with Sarah right there. "Are you ready?"
"My ensemble is complete."
"I meant your weapons," said Chuck.
"I was talking about my weapons."
"Remember the mission objective," said Sarah as Chuck seemed to have trouble thinking of anything else to say. "Obtain the device. Everything else is secondary to that."
Greta smiled. "Thank you."
Vivian's gaze swept the room as she entered majestically, music from Holst's 'The Planets' (Mars, to be precise) playing in her head to get her into the right frame of mind. Naturally her sweep stopped on the one female face in the room, the one she knew least about. "Graciela, is it?"
Greta stared back evenly, her face a mask. "Si."
"So sorry for your loss."
Greta snapped open her switchblade, and started cleaning under her nails. "I'm not. I got rid of an annoying thing. E' stato divertente." Then she added, "But only for me."
Vivian smiled. "How pleasant to be able to combine business with pleasure." She moved on to her position, and launched into her spiel. The gentleman around her sat back, playing it cool, while Graciela leaned forward, eager to catch every word of the killing efficiency of this new weapon, until Vivian got to the part about DNA targeting. Then she sat back in her own chair, muttering "A coward's weapon" under her breath.
Then came the live demonstration.
Casey watched as everyone around the room screamed, covered their ears, and fell, including Greta. "Stay down, I've got the room covered."
The secret of playing dead is not holding your breath, but rather breathing shallowly and often, so the movement of the ribs is undetectable. Greta lay there, cataloging the reasons why she needed to kill everyone in the room who wasn't already dead.
The woman, for using a coward's weapon.
The man, for being an idiot. The simplest way to flush out a phony, is just to go around the room popping the corpses in the head until you get to–Interesting. Not just her.
Braggart MI-6 pretty boy, I'm going to enjoy–whoops, too late.
The sound of the snaps closing on the case prompted Greta into action. She rolled silently to her feet, pulling out (some of) her weapons while shielded by the table. She aimed her guns at their feet and then stood, catching her victims, that is, enemies off guard.
Not off guard enough. Riley snatched up the case and held it in front of him like a shield. "You want this, don't you?" With Vivian behind him, they backed away to freedom.
The door opened, and Carmichael walked in, drawn by the sound of gunfire.
"Agent Bartowski," said Greta, not fooled for a second by the cheesy mustache disguise, "You're just in time." Although five minutes from now would have made her happier. She could have a lot of fun in five minutes. "Grab his gun."
"Chuck?" asked Casey, staring through his scope. "What do you think you're doing? You're supposed to be in the van."
"I am in the van, guys," said Chuck. "Where do you think I am?"
"Greta!" shouted Casey, "He's a ringer!"
Carmichael took the gun from Riley's belt, turned, and pointed it at Greta. She ducked behind the table as he fired.
Casey switched targets, but the positioning was bad. His line on the body-double was partially blocked by Riley, and after him, the Norseman case. Fortunately this guy was tall. Casey aimed for the head.
Glass shattered and a man cursed in sudden pain. Greta heard Vivian yell, "Riley, take the gun!" and she rose again to take advantage of the lapse.
Riley tossed the case at Vivian and lifted Carmichael's arm. Casey's bullet had gone wild from the reinforced glass and struck him in the shoulder, but there was nothing wrong with his trigger finger. Greta ducked again as the fake Agent Bartowski kept firing even as Riley dragged him backward through the door. She got a couple of shots off at their feet, and was rewarded by a bellow of pain, but the door closed on it.
She got up and ran from the room, but the elevator doors were already closing. "They're in the elevator!"
"Get out of there, Greta," said Casey. "You can't do anything more up there."
Four men in white haz-mat suits emerged from a stairwell, carrying large tubs and bottles of acid.
Greta put her gun away. Too quick. "In a minute," she said with a smile.
"They're heading for the parking garage!" said Sarah. "The executive elevator has an override!"
"Carina, take the west exit!" They weren't on the right side of the road to get there themselves.
"Chuck," said Sarah, "That's the main exit!"
"I think Carina can handle it."
"Do you think they're actually going to come out the front door?"
A limo pulled out of the east exit at high speed. "I hate it when you're right," said Chuck, hunching slightly as he pressed down on the accelerator. Sarah braced for impact.
They hit the limo at an angle, and the limo did what they wanted it to do. It came to a stop, jammed between their vehicle and the side of the road. Sarah climbed out the window, while Chuck went to check the driver of the car.
Carmichael sat in the driver's seat, stunned a bit, his wounded arm crudely bandaged to stanch the flow of blood. Sarah checked the other side. "Chuck, there's nobody here."
Chuck stood up. "Carina, did you get them?"
"Nobody on this side, Chuckles."
"Chuck, watch out!" yelled Sarah.
Chuck heard the sound of an engine and turned to see what was coming. Lines of fire drew themselves along his cheek and he fell back.
"Ha!" yelled Vivian, as their van sped away. The limo suddenly lurched into motion, and Sarah jumped back as it climbed the curb and drove after the van.
Sarah ran to Chuck with a cloth in her hand, pressing it against his cheek.
"Sarah, what are you doing? We have to go after them." Chuck turned to get back in the van but Sarah prevented him from going anywhere.
"No, Chuck! We can't!"
Vivian Volkoff sat back, smiling broadly, flushed with excitement. "One for me, Agent Bartowski."
"And I'm sure it was very personally gratifying," said Riley, his voice harsher than usual with the pain in his leg. "But we have to go to ground, now."
"No, we don't, Mr. Riley." Vivian held out her hand, her claws, smeared with blood and traces of skin. "Now it's Chuck's turn to hide."
A/N2 For anyone who doesn't know, Gustav Holst's music in the Mars section of his orchestral suite 'The Planets' is the source for practically every science fiction anthem since Star Wars. In canon they had Morgan use the Imperial March. Same idea.
I brought Hannah back simply because the canon idea that two of the CIA's best agents would shirk their duty merely for a wedding rehearsal was both stupid and treasonous. Not to mention that three of them (Chuck, Sarah, and Frost) somehow managed to let Vivian slip out from between them and didn't chase after her, preferring instead to go back to the same wedding rehearsal. And where did Vivian go, anyway? One minute she's standing in front of Chuck, the next, Sarah shoots Riley and she's nowhere to be seen, even though Sarah had to be standing right behind her.