A/N – This will be an A/U - It starts just after Major Casey leaves through the Morgan door at the start of Season 2. I also have the Beta Intersect going live in June 2008 not in September 2008. There will be some back and forth- flashbacks etc - through the time period September 2008 to October 2009. I will try to make the flashbacks easy to spot.
Someone once said that all actors one day want to play Hamlet. Perhaps it is also true that all Chuck fanfiction writers one day want to write a "Chuck goes on the run" story. My other ambition is for Chuck to confront General Diane Beckman. One of them has all the power and an army of Agents while the other is alone and has no real power. But is Chuck really powerless? I'm hoping this story will be four or five chapters. We shall see. The quote below is accurate except I have removed "military-industrial complex" and replaced it with intelligence agencies. The latter works better with the story. Either way, "Ike" was rather prescient it would seem.
Oh yes, I don't own Chuck. I don't own a Trek 520. I do own three other bikes, one is a classic touring bike.
"..In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the intelligence agencies. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961 (General of the Army)
June 2008 – Evening Echo Park, Burbank
Major John Casey slipped out through the Morgan door. He was ecstatic that he had failed to complete his mission. This was a first for Casey. Hell, he didn't want to kill the moron and when Walker knocked on the door and blurted out that the Beta Intersect had been blown up he got out of there as quickly and quietly as possible. He knew Beckman would rescind the order any minute now. Time for a stiff drink.
September 15, 2008
The following message went out to all NSA & CIA stations and field operatives:
1299990RC –TNY September 15, 2008 12:08pm Zulu
Subject: Asset –Charles Irving Bartowski
Order: Locate/ Terminate, by Order Brigadier General D. Beckman, Director NSA
Bartowski is former asset/ analyst/ hacker who escaped custody and is deemed a threat to National Security.
September 16, 2008 22:00 PST
To all Law Enforcement; All FBI offices, West Coast/ Central Area- Continental US
Subject: Charles Irving Bartowsk
Action: Locate and Detain. To be turned over to NSA Agents only.
Bartowski is considered a serious threat to National Security. Description & Photo's attached.
November 9, 2008 Motel 6, Room 208- Salem Oregon
Agent Sarah Walker stood beside Agent Sam Baldwick, NSA. Both were in their black tactical gear ready to storm the room. She turned to the junior Agent and said in a no nonsense tone. "Are we clear Agent Baldwick, you will under no circumstances fire your gun. Bartowski is mine to deal with. Before I kill him I need to extract information from him." Sam Baldwick was both thrilled and a little intimidated to be working with the legendary Agent Walker. But he was well trained to follow orders, so he blurted out.
"Yes ma'am. But I thought our orders from General Beckman were to terminate him?"
"Agent Baldwick, I'm the senior Agent. If you have an issue with my authority go back to the car and call Beckman." She glared at him waiting for him to back down. It took three seconds but Baldwick dropped his eyes and said. "Understood Agent Walker under no circumstances ….do not harm Bartowski."
Sarah didn't trust him. "Agent Baldwick, safe your weapon, right now…that's an order. Now get ready."
The door flew back on its hinges as they stormed into an empty room. They quickly checked the washroom ….nada. Agent Walker was disappointed and also a little relieved. The triangulation data from the satellite was still picking up a ping from the cellphone. The call came from this room and the cellphone was still here.
Sarah said "Search the room. Find me the damn cell phone."
Five minutes later they found the cell phone and battery pack behind the air ventilation grill. It was a burner phone. She grabbed it, searched through the phone and found the WAV file that had been sent to her cell phone six hours earlier. She pressed play and held the phone to her ears.
"Sarah, I just wanted to say Hi and let you know that Fulcrum hasn't captured me. I hope you're okay and didn't get into any trouble because of me running away. I really couldn't stay. Graham wanted me dead and so did Beckman. I want to live but just so you know I'll kill myself before I let them put me in a bunker. Sorry don't want to sound morbid. Well….I'd better go. Bye."
Sarah Walker clicked the phone off. She would send it off the Lab rats to see what they might find. It was obvious he wasn't here. The actual date he recorded the message was September 9, 2015. He'd actually recorded it two days before he went on the run and then sometime after dropped the cell phone here at this motel. The problem was there was no record of him staying in this room. Also this Motel didn't have a working CCTV surveillance system. They would now have to check all camera feeds in this area going back two months.
Agent Baldwick was headed back to the car to report. When Sarah was sure she was alone she allowed herself a smile and said in a soft voice. "Clever, clever boy Chuck, I just knew finding you wasn't going to be easy."
March 15, 2009 Ft. Mead Office of the Director NSA
The following order was sent out from the NSA Director's office to all NSA/ CIA / FBI offices
14853310RC –TNY March 15, 2009 11:58:pm Zulu
Subject: Asset –Charles Irving Bartowski
Order: Locate/ Report & Protect- by Order Brigadier General D. Beckman, Director NSA
Bartowski is considered an important asset/analyst who is deemed essential to our National Security. Report his location to Agent Sarah Walker. Do not interfere with Mr. Bartowski in any way. Observe his movements, protect and wait for further orders from Agent Walker.
October 2009- Roy & Bandt Mitchell's Farm - 10 miles south of Worthington, Minnesota
Chuck was sitting above a stream which ran through the Mitchell's property. The harvest moon would start to rise soon, but for the moment it was pitch black except for the constellations just starting to flicker above him. He had built a wooden bench for himself two months ago. He could now sit in comfort on a rise of ground behind the old weathered barn and look out over Willoughby Stream.
Roy had taught him how to make the bench, he had been very patient with Chuck and talked him through the whole process. He showed him how to use each wood working tool. Roy could fix almost anything and before his arthritis slowed him down he had made beautiful furniture for many folk throughout the county.
He had showed Chuck how to select the right wood, trim it and how to use the chisels and saws. Chuck had made his fair share of mistakes but Roy waved his hand at him and laughed it all away saying that the imperfections were what made this bench his creation and his alone. Roy had looked at him and said "how many people do you know Charles who can build a bench from scratch…you're now one of them."
The stars were starting to fill the night sky. After being here at the farm for nearly six months he could name the constellations. Bandt, Roy's sister was quite the teacher and had taught him to move clockwise through the constellations, how to spot Taurus and Orion, how to pick out the bright stars like Altair, Vega and Sirius, the Dog Star. Chuck shook his head, in his wildest imaginings he never once thought he would be living on a 100 acre farm owned by aging siblings deep in the heart of Minnesota. Roy and Bandt didn't have any WiFi, they had no internet and no TV. All they had was a radio.
Chuck was pleased and grateful that Casey and Sarah still hadn't found him. He had been on the run for more than a year now. But what choice did he really have? He had to run to save his life. Each and every day he regretted leaving Ellie, Devon and Morgan behind somewhat exposed to the NSA & CIA. Maybe his confrontation with Beckman back on March 15th, almost seven months ago had worked. Maybe Ellie & Devon were now safe. Time would tell.
He and Orion had taken a huge gamble, even now he didn't know if it had worked. Since the confrontation with General Beckman he hadn't been near a computer nor used a cell phone. Chuck and Orion had agreed they would both go "dark" for a year. The only news he got was from the radio and the local newspaper the Worthington Daily Globe. Latest news:- Worthington beat Luverne by a field goal. Hog prices were up and the price for a bushel of wheat was down 1%, vital information.
He closed his eyes and leaned back. In his mind he could still picture Sarah Walker, not a day passed without him thinking of her and he still had her picture by his bed.
He remembered that night a year ago when Sarah came over to the apartment at Echo Park. He saw her sad expression as she told him that the cypher key had been a Trojan virus planted by Fulcrum….. and that same virus had triggered an explosion in the Beta Intersect room.
Langston Graham was dead. Chuck for some reason felt this wave of relief that Graham was dead. But his heart still sank to hear the news, mainly because it meant he was still the Intersect. He was still a pawn on General Beckman's chess board. He remembered that Sarah then left him to check in with Beckman or the CIA, or Homeland Security….whatever.
When she left he was still numb from hearing the news and went back into his bedroom. He remembered sitting in front of his computer feeling down and very sorry for himself. Without much effort or conscious thought he had hacked into Casey's surveillance system of the apartment and his bedroom.
It was child's play for him to set up a loop feed on his bedroom surveillance camera for the next hour. He looked at the last hour of surveillance footage on his bedroom and what he saw sent a deathly chill through his whole body. He felt sick to his stomach and barely made it to the toilet before he puked.
The next week was really a fog. Sarah and Casey must have noticed how withdrawn and out of sorts he was. And if they didn't notice then the room full of analysts back at Ft. Mead certainly had. Beckman sent Sarah to talk with him and …"see what was wrong with the Intersect. Agent Walker we need him to focus and keep his head in the game."
As Sarah sat on the edge of his bed she looked at him and patiently waited for him to tell her why he was acting so weird. He told her a big truth and a big lie. He knew they weren't alone. Casey along with the NSA were watching their so called "intimate" chat. The big truth he told Sarah was how bitterly disappointed he was that he was still the Intersect. When he told her that he could tell from her eyes she believed what he was saying. Why shouldn't she, it was the truth. The next words out of his mouth were the lie but it was still couched in the truth.
"Sarah, I'm weary and fed up that we have to go back to all the lies and pretending. My sister doesn't deserve the daily lies about me and about us. I love her too much to put her or Devon at risk by ever telling them what's going on but it's slowly eating at my insides." The lie was that he was not going to tell someone. He couldn't carry this burden by himself any longer. But that meant whoever he told was also at risk. At risk of being killed or dragged to a bunker. Nonetheless he had decided to tell someone.
Sarah as she sat beside him on the bed had said and done all the usual comforting things, the consummate handler of an asset. Or was there more? Chuck dearly hoped that it was more than just her handling him. He saw her reaction when Agent Longshore was going to take him to a bunker. Sarah Walker had told him the truth when they first met. She had a lot of baggage.
As they sat there both of them were painfully aware of the hidden cameras and microphones. After another half hour of talking about "safe topics" she had finally left him alone.
That's the precise moment when he started to put his plan together to run away. It took him two months to put all the pieces of his plan together and he never worked harder at anything in his entire life. Mainly because his life now depended on not making a mistake.
Because he was under such close surveillance and going on missions, he needed arms and legs to make his plan happen. Someone that could be trusted and wasn't under constant surveillance.
In the end he had told Devon. Looking back he was so proud of his sister's fiancé. Devon had been, well, he had been truly awesome. He remembered meeting Devon over at the hospital, they had gone into an empty operating room and Chuck told him everything that had happened in the past year. Then Chuck made Devon promise to tell Ellie everything once he had run away and they were safe from the clutches of General Diane Beckman. He begged Devon to tell his sister that he loved her and say that all the lies he had told her that past year were solely to protect her from the NSA & CIA, terrorists, and the never ending parade of drug lords.
Finally he told Devon never to trust Sarah and Casey or anyone else from the alphabet soup of federal agencies, no matter what they said or what they promised. Devon was the perfect guy to help him, he was highly intelligent and motivated to help him and…. here was the bonus…. both of Devon's parents, the Woodcombs, were closely connected to state and US senators.
If the NSA & CIA leaned on or threatened Devon or Ellie, they would get their wrists slapped hard. They wouldn't be able to steam roll over Devon or his parents. He worried about Morgan but was counting on the fact that Morgan was completely in the dark. Chuck met with Devon in one of the radiation bunkers in the hospital used for treating cancer patients. The machines were seldom used after 9pm.
Devon and Ellie both worked odd shifts at the hospital so Chuck could go there fairly often, even late at night, without raising any suspicious questions from Sarah or Casey. Both the handlers knew that Chuck and Ellie were very close given all that had happened in their lives.
Chuck would leave his tracker watch with the GPS in the doctors on-call room then head for the radiation bunker. No one could listen into their planning sessions in the radiation bunker with tons of concrete surrounding them. Devon did all that Chuck had asked him to do and far, far more. He even helped him with refining the escape plan and funded his escape.
Chuck remembered Devon telling him "Bro, you're good for the money. Ellie and I will be fine, don't worry about us, once I talk with my folks they will both make some phone calls and the NSA & CIA will totally back off from bothering us." Chuck and Devon agreed that Devon would tell his parents that the NSA/CIA wanted to get their hands on Chuck for his computer hacking skills.
Chuck's eyes flashed open and his memories flew away, he was back in the present. It was October and he was far away from Burbank. He was back in Minnesota.
Chuck knew the property that Bandt and Roy owned like the back of his hand. He had walked all over the 100 acres and he knew all the trails and roads for twenty miles in any direction because he had cycled them all. He knew all of the sounds of the farm during the day and during the night. He was no longer a city kid. He could tell you the names of each type of bird, what their call was and what they looked like. He knew where the barn owl's nest was and he sometimes could hear it leave the nest at dusk.
Once the barn owl launched itself after its prey, after that initial flap of its wings to get it airborne, it just glided towards the unwitting prey. It was one of nature's most silent and efficient killers. The vole or the mouse at the very last moment might hear the soft rush of wind over the owl's wings but most would never know the moment they died in the owls talons.
Chuck knew the regular sounds around the farm, around the woods and around the stream and that's how he heard her approach. She had managed to get within 25 feet before he heard the twig snap. It wasn't her fault. She wouldn't know about or see the low dead pine branch at the edge of the stream. He waited looking at the dark shadows surrounding the copse of trees, he sensed her presence.
Just then the harvest moon crested over the tree line. A ribbon of golden light moved across the stream towards the rise he was sitting on and all around him the ground was suddenly bathed in moonlight. She took a step out of the shadows into the moonlight. She was dressed all in black and he could see her left hand reach up to the top of her head. She pulled off the black watch cap and gave her head a shake, the moonlight caught her blonde hair as it fell down around her shoulders. Chuck drank in the sight of her, God she was magnificent. His heart ached to see her again but he also felt fear.
As she got closer he could see the gun with the silencer hanging down by her right side. He held his breath. She stopped and said a tentative "Chuck?"…. Chuck for a couple of seconds couldn't get his tongue to work but finally the words came out "Hi Sarah….. It's been a long time."