Ummm, OK. I really don't know what to say this time. The more I go, the crazier things get. Obviously I had wanted to get this to you back sometime six months ago, but everything's been upside-down. I worked a couple of substitute positions before getting a full-time offer in the Chicago Public Schools. But that job took up all of my time, even on weekends. Not to mention two more hospital stays, one of which I'm in the middle of now. And things have just been wacky. But despite all of that (and the considerable writer's block I was experiencing), I finally got the next chapter completed. BTW, I discovered it's very hard to type with only two of the fingers on your right hand available. (I'll work on it.)
This chapter tells of the adventures in getting that data. Naturally, nothing ever goes right, but hopefully the team will triumph. And I threw in a couple of little surprises for you, which I hope you'll like. One of these has to be put in because it will have a bearing on the conclusion, which is now a few chapters away.
Thank you once again for your patience and understanding. I hope you like the new chapter and please leave reviews.
Good luck in 2018!
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro – Irvine, CA
June 8, 2016
9:00 AM PDT
"An Intersect room?"
The shocked expression on Sarah's face wouldn't go away, and everyone else in the surveillance van was also stunned into silence.
"I saw a room similar to the one the CIA built for their Intersect," Chuck replied softly. "Just like the one we were in that night when I uploaded the new Intersect."
"The Ring is readying their own Intersect?" Ellie asked.
"After seeing what Shaw did, it's safe to say they have enough of our data to attempt one. And they know we have the full one. They'll try to come after us and take the rest."
"Chuck's right," Casey said as Ilsa and he entered the van. "We have find it and destroy it."
"Or use it ourselves." Everyone turned to Jimmy. "We need an Intersect room to get Chuck's out and mine in. With Beckman still in the clink and Decker running the show, this is our only choice."
Sarah shook her head. "I still think it's too risky to send Devon in there. None of us can walk in with him. He'd have to do this with no backup. And they may already know who he is."
Everyone sat there in silence. A smile slowly came to Chuck's face. "I know how we can."
"Just like at the drive-in when you rescued my dad. All it takes is some John Casey firepower and some Jimmy Slade cleverness."
"Um, Chuck?" Devon interjected. "I've never handled a gun before, and I'm not really up for starting now."
"You won't have to." Chuck pulled up a page on his computer. Casey, Jimmy, and Devon looked.
"Oh, this ought to be good," Jimmy said with a grin.
Sarah and Ellie came up behind the group and looked at the screen. "Sarah, can I talk with you and Devon for a moment?"
"Sure," Sarah replied.
The three walked outside. Ellie turned to Sarah. "Look, I know how good you and the others are, but I really don't want Devon going in there."
"I know, Ellie. Believe me, I wish there was another way to do this. The problem is, they'd recognize all of us. But if Devon went in alone and we gave him the tools to get the information, he has the best chance to walk out of there."
"She's right, babe," Devon said. "As long as they never spot Sarah or the others, they might buy that I'm really going there to put our marriage license in our safe deposit box."
Ellie looked at both of them for a moment. "Then I'm going with you."
"Ellie…" both Sarah and Devon started.
"There is no way I'm letting Devon walk into danger alone," she retorted in a firm voice. "Two sets of eyes are better than one in there. Plus, if we're together, it might make the Ring less suspicious. The Ring would assume you're not dumb enough to put two civilians into obvious danger like that."
She pulled Devon next to her and grabbed his hand…a bit too hard for Devon's liking. "It's a package deal, Sarah. We both go or neither one of us does."
Sarah exhaled in frustration. The situation was getting worse by the minute, but there wasn't much of a choice. They needed to know where the Ring was housing their Intersect room.
"We'll do whatever we can to keep you safe," she finally said.
Ellie smiled. "I know you will. We trust you."
Sarah looked at the ground and smiled. It was clear the things that made Chuck such a special person were traits of the entire family. Given Ellie had to become the matriarch of the Bartowski clan at such a young age when their parents left, her determination to protect others was a formidable attribute. And Sarah couldn't have been more thankful for that, as she now had the stability of friends and family she didn't have growing up.
Sarah squeezed Ellie's hands tightly. "Let's see what the boys have in store for us," she said, nodding in the direction of Chuck, Casey, and Jimmy.
United Flight 682 to Los Angeles
June 8, 2016
1:45 PM EDT
Alex, Morgan, and Big Mike settled into their seats for the cross-country trip back to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there weren't any seats available in first class or the business section. And worse for Alex, she was stuck in the middle seat. Big Mike needed the extra room the aisle seat provided, and Morgan was still geeking out too much to be denied the window seat. Still, they got to return to Los Angeles having accomplished far more than they set out to do yesterday. Between the information Jimmy stole last night and their discovery Clyde Decker was the mole, the last twenty-four hours were extremely productive. And of greatest importance to Alex, her credit cards still worked, so the bar was definitely open.
"Hey, I should have said this earlier," Morgan started as he turned towards Alex. "I was just so freaked out by everything that happened, I didn't get a chance to thank you for rescuing us."
"Same here," Big Mike added. He noticed Alex's credit card. "Hey, I'm buying the booze on this flight, young lady. Least I could do for saving our asses, so put that away."
Alex shook her head and smiled. "This must be what Walker calls the 'Bartowski influence'. I should be thanking the two of you for what you did. You're not trained for any of this. You didn't even know about Sarah and the others until those agents were at the Buy More threatening all of you. You came through then and you did again this morning."
"Well, it's like you said before we left," Morgan replied. "We'd do anything for Chuck. I mean, I've never seen the guy happier in his life. Meeting Sarah? Best thing that ever happened to him."
Alex nodded. "I'm thinking Sarah would say the same about meeting him. The way that entire team worked together…I owe my life to them."
The little smile on Alex's face disappeared. "Everything OK?" Big Mike asked in a voice less like his standard booming baritone and more like a concerned father.
"It's…" Alex fell silent.
"Just having a painful flashback to how I used to be as an agent. Cold, calculating, heartless. I almost got the team broken up the first time I was with them."
"I recommended it to Beckman because I thought how they handled Chuck was a detriment. Obviously, now we know it's really a benefit, but I still regret that so much."
"But they're back together," Morgan replied. "They trust you now, right?" Alex nodded. "So obviously they've forgiven you if they brought you in on this. I mean, Jimmy is totally into you. And who can blame him? Smart, smokin' hot, can totally kick ass like Sarah and Carina…who wouldn't have a thing for you?"
Alex couldn't help but grin at the compliment. She had a couple of friends in high school who were a lot like Morgan: annoying pains in the ass. But she would never dare question their loyalty. "I do owe the whole team a lot, especially Jimmy. I haven't met anyone like him since…" her voice trailed off.
"There was someone before Jimmy?" Big Mike asked.
Alex nodded. "I got engaged back in 2000 while I was at Quantico. He was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11."
"Oh. Sorry about that."
"I can't lie; that hurt me for a long, long time. That's why the CIA snatched me up. They knew they could put my hate and anger to work better than the FBI would have. I just couldn't get past what happened to me."
"You have now, it looks like."
"I have Jimmy to thank for that. I guess that's what happens when you're around these people long enough." She paused and gave a little smile. "Ellie was right; I was given a second chance. And I'm sure as hell not going to let it go by."
"Speaking of not letting something go by," Morgan said as he flagged down the flight attendant with the beverage cart.
The three ordered several drinks to celebrate their successful mission.
Republic Private Bank – Los Angeles, CA
June 8, 2016
2:30 PM PDT
Ellie and Devon pulled into the parking lot of the bank.
"We're here," Ellie said over the earpiece she was wearing.
"Good," Sarah replied as Casey and she sat in a nondescript sedan several blocks away. "Devon, are you ready?"
Devon took a long breath. "Ready as I'll ever be."
"Not to worry. Once you've entered the bank, we'll turn off comms so they can't detect the signal. When you're in the vault, use that scanner Jimmy gave you. Act normal until you know you aren't picking up any bugs or hidden cameras."
"And the keys you gave us will work?"
"Assuming they haven't changed the safe deposit boxes in the last two years," Casey replied. "The CIA has the specs for every type of lock used by safe makers. It's like a bump key but more sophisticated. Once you insert the key, give it a squeeze, and it will fill in to grab the cylinders. Then you just turn it like normal."
"And the contact lenses are the same ones Alex Forrest gave to General Beckman?" Ellie asked.
"Correct. It'll transmit whatever Devon looks at to the small drive you have. But it's modified so it only has a three-foot range. That way, they won't detect it. Just make sure you don't turn it on before you check for their surveillance. And do exactly what we said with the drive and scanner when you walk out."
"Will do," Devon replied.
"You two will do great," Sarah reassured them. "We're all right here."
Ellie and Devon looked at each other. They then exited the car. Devon carried the briefcase Chuck gave him into the bank. They went to the reception desk.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Devon Woodcomb," Devon said, showing the receptionist his ID. "We have a safe deposit box here, box number 241. We needed to put our marriage certificate in it."
"Oh, you two just got married?" the receptionist asked.
"About six weeks ago," Ellie replied, trying to put a convincing smile on her face. "We just received it from the state."
"I'll get someone to help you right away."
The receptionist walked towards one of the offices. Ellie took a look around. She tried not to look nervous at seeing all the security cameras, but knowing they couldn't talk to Sarah or her team right now didn't exactly assuage her anxiety.
"Hello, I'm John Utah, branch manager," a man who came up to Ellie and Devon with the receptionist said. "Let me walk you to the vault room."
Ellie and Devon followed Utah to the vault. Devon procured his key for box 241. Utah took it and put it in the lock, followed by his own key, unlocking the door. He pulled the box out of the safe and opened it.
"Here you go, just call me when you're done," Utah said and left the vault.
Ellie and Devon waited for a moment. Devon opened the briefcase and gave Ellie the scanner Jimmy prepared for them. Ellie peeked outside to find nobody in the hallway. She swept the scanner around as Devon put the contact lenses in his eyes.
"I didn't pick up anything," Ellie whispered.
"OK," Devon replied. He stepped over to box 227 and inserted the two keys Casey gave him. He squeezed both and turned them. Sure enough, he was able to unlock the box.
"Awesome," Devon whispered with a grin. He slid the box out of the safe and opened it. There were two folders inside, both of which had documents in them. He turned on the drive and opened each folder, going through every page in both.
"Hurry, Devon!" Ellie whispered.
"Last one," he replied. He flipped through the final pages. "Done."
He shut off the drive and put the folders back inside the box, sliding it into the vault and locking it once again. Ellie slid their safe deposit box back into the vault.
Ellie turned to see Utah at the door. "Uh, not a problem," Ellie said with ample nervousness. She turned to Devon, who gave her a look.
She turned back. "Mr. Utah, maybe you can help us with something." She walked towards the door, and Utah turned with her. "We're looking to buy a house sometime in the next six months and we really don't want the hassle of these real estate companies coming out of the woodwork and just seeing us as another commission. Do you know anybody who deals in homes around the $1.5 million range? $2 million, maybe?"
Devon waited until Utah's back was completely turned. He then quietly removed the keys from box 227 and slipped them into his pocket.
"Our bank has relationships with several good agents, depending on where you want to live," Utah replied to Ellie. "If you wish, I can take you to our loan department and they can give you a list."
Devon quietly coughed and Ellie looked at him. "Oh, I wish we had time today. We'll set an appointment for some time next week. We just have to check what day would work best for us."
"Until then. Have a wonderful day."
Ellie and Devon exited the bank. They got in the car and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"Did you get everything?" Ellie asked.
"All of it, babe," Devon replied as he took out the contacts. "I hope this is what Sarah and the others need."
Devon started the car. Both of them then heard the click of a gun. They turned to find a man sitting in the back seat.
"Take out your comms. Now," the man commanded. Ellie and Devon handed over their earpieces in wide-eyed shock. The man threw them out the window. He also threw out the transponder Casey put on their car.
"Drive," he ordered Devon, pressing the gun against the back of his neck.
Sarah sat in the passenger seat fidgeting nervously. "They should have come out by now."
"Give them a minute or two," Casey replied. "They've never done this before. Better to get it right than to rush it and screw it up."
The pinging sound coming from Casey's laptop suddenly ceased. "Son of a bitch…" he checked the program. "We lost the signal on their car."
Sarah bolted up in her seat. "Ellie, Devon, come in. Come in! Nothing, Case."
Casey slammed the laptop shut and gunned the engine, driving towards the bank.
"The car isn't there," Sarah said as they passed the parking lot. "Chuck, Jimmy, anything?"
"Checking traffic cams right now, Sarah," Jimmy replied. He sat at the ready while Chuck went through all of the public cameras they could link to in the area. "Goddammit. We should have staked ourselves out much closer."
"We made the right call," Casey retorted. "If we can spot them, they can spot us. We would have blown this had we gotten closer."
"Hang on, I might have them," Chuck said as he desperately went through the camera feeds. "There! They just passed the hospital on Wilshire. They're heading northwest."
"Carina you, Cole, and Ilsa get ahead of them," Sarah ordered. "Jimmy, box them in from the south. Casey and I will come east. Chuck, keep a sharp eye on them."
"Trying," Chuck replied, unable to keep the anxiety out of his voice at his sister and brother-in-law being captured. "They're going through MacArthur Park. Wait, they just turned onto Carondelet. They're slowing down."
"They're going into Carondelet House," Carina concluded. "Lots of rooms to hold them in. If we tried to storm it, they'd be killed before we found them."
"We'll go in," Casey said. "Chuck, stay in the car and keep an eye on things. We can't risk you flashing. Slade, cover the south. Carina, Cole, and Ilsa, cover the north and east. And stay the hell out of sight."
"And then what?" Chuck asked, his fear increasing exponentially.
"Let's hope your idea worked."
Carondelet House – Los Angeles, CA
June 8, 2016
3:30 PM PDT
Ellie and Devon sat at a table in a small room on the top floor inside the Italian-designed villa. Had she not been terrified, she probably would have loved for her wedding reception to have been here. Small, intimate, and with the perfect number of friends in attendance. But all of that was moot now, and she feared any future plans she had were about to be rendered moot as well.
The door opened, and Mr. Utah appeared with two gun-toting escorts carrying the briefcase Devon brought into the bank, as well as a safe deposit box.
"Dr. Woodcomb," Utah began. "I'll get right to the point. Why did you break into our safe deposit box?"
"I didn't," Devon replied, figuring they couldn't prove it.
Utah smiled. "See, that's the thing. We know you two are good friends with one of the government's best spy teams. A very tech savvy spy team. So how do you outthink them? You go old school."
Utah showed Ellie and Devon the safe deposit box. An electrical wire protruded from the back of it. "You pulled out the box and that broke the wire's connection to the other end inside the vault. That sent a signal to my desk. No computers, no Wi-Fi, no way to detect it."
Ellie and Devon looked at each other in fear as Utah continued. "Now I would very much like for you to unlock this briefcase so we may look at its contents."
"There's nothing in there," Devon replied. "We didn't have enough time to take anything."
"Then there's no harm in unlocking it." Utah nodded, and one of the agents aimed their gun at Ellie's forehead. "On the other hand, there's plenty of harm if you don't unlock it."
Devon glared at Utah but dialed the combination to the briefcase. He released the catches and opened the briefcase.
"There," he said angrily, turning the briefcase towards Utah to show it was empty. "Happy now?" Devon turned the briefcase back and slammed it shut.
"Not so fast, Dr. Woodcomb," Utah said, pulling the briefcase from him and turning it around. "Showing an empty briefcase doesn't always mean it's empty."
Ellie and Devon looked at each other as Utah unlocked the catches. He opened the briefcase.
The two jumped backwards as Utah and the agents were hit with the tear gas canister Casey rigged inside the briefcase. They doubled-over coughing as Devon grabbed the briefcase and swung it hard, knocking the guns away from the two agents. Ellie threw the door open, and the two ran out of the room and down the hall.
"Case, I'm at the south end of the building," Jimmy said with both of his guns out.
"Copy that," Casey replied from the west side of the building, where Sarah and he readied themselves to storm the building. "Miller, Barker, your status?"
"We're on the north side of the building and Ilsa's covering the east," Carina replied.
"Chuck, are you ready?"
"Looking now," he replied, having interlaid a schematic of the villa over the tracking software to locate Ellie and Devon inside the building. "I should get a hit from the briefcase if that tear gas canister…it just went off! They're on the run, heading west!"
"We'll pick them up. Everybody else, breach the structure and clear their path to us!"
Carina, Jimmy, Cole, and Ilsa charged into the building as Sarah and Casey readied themselves by the west side of the building.
Ellie and Devon ran through the hallways trying to get out.
"Which way?" Ellie asked in a panic.
"Let's try here," he replied, pointing to their left.
They started running down that hallway and saw a sign pointing towards the exit at the end of the corridor. They raced ahead. Someone turned from a cross-hallway and aimed their weapon.
"Get down!" Devon shouted.
Ellie dove for the floor and Devon dropped to his knees, pulling the briefcase completely open and holding it like a shield as the agent fired. The bullets hit the Kevlar-lined briefcase but left Devon untouched. The agent paused to reload, and Devon charged the man, swinging the briefcase to knock him down. Ellie got up and the two continued to run. They made a turn.
Ellie and Devon stopped and saw agents ahead of them with weapons aimed. The agent they first encountered came up from behind with two others.
"Drop the briefcase!" the man ordered.
Ellie and Devon looked at each other and nodded. Devon held the briefcase up by its handle over his head and slowly put it on the floor. He then squeezed the handle hard, grabbed Ellie, and hit the deck. A spray of tranq darts flew out of the sides of the briefcase, taking down all of the agents in the hall.
The two got up and continued running. They reached the balcony that surrounded the house and allowed patrons to view the main level.
"Where are we?" Ellie asked, looking back and forth.
"We need a stairwell," Devon replied. "I hope Sarah and the others are coming."
They turned when they heard the click of a gun. An agent was ready to pull the trigger.
A loud crash made Ellie and Devon hit the floor as a figure flew through the window, slamming into the agent, who went over the balcony railing and to the ground floor.
"So, how's your day going?" Jimmy asked them as he unhooked his harness.
"Finally!" Ellie exclaimed. "Where were you?"
"Well, it's a little difficult to get you on comms when you don't have them!" Jimmy replied in exasperation.
"How are we getting out?" Devon quickly asked.
They heard lots of shouting and movement below. Fifteen more agents were on the main floor and were starting to spread out after seeing the body hit the floor.
"Aaah, hell," Jimmy groaned.
"You say that a lot," Devon said with a weird look.
"Oh, I do…Awesome?" Jimmy shot back with an annoyed glance.
Ellie smacked both of them upside the head. "NOT YOU, TOO!" Jimmy roared.
"Get us out of here!" Ellie yelled to get them back to reality.
"Carina, Cole, Ilsa, southwest stairwell. Scoop them up," Jimmy said over his comms. He pointed to their left. "Go down that stairwell. The three of them will lead you out. I'll keep those agents off your backs."
"How?" Devon asked.
Jimmy threw his hands up. "How do I do anything?"
"Crazy, stupid, and with a lot of one-liners," both Ellie and Devon muttered in annoyance.
Ellie and Devon ran for the stairwell as Jimmy grabbed his piton gun and jumped off the balcony, firing a line to the ceiling to slow his descent. He opened up on the agents with his guns, taking them out.
"This really is a nice place," Jimmy observed as he unhooked himself and headed for the exits.
Ellie and Devon got down to the third floor when an agent charged up the stairs. The door to the 3rd floor flew open and Cole dove at the agent, knocking them down. He got up as two more agents charged up. Carina came through the 3rd floor door and jumped down to land on one of the agents as Cole sent a roundhouse at the other agent. Ilsa fired down the hallway to take out two more that were approaching from behind.
"Almost out," Cole said as Carina and he led the five down the stairwell with Ilsa covering the rear. Two more agents appeared in front of them. Cole grabbed the handrails and kicked one right under his chin as Carina leaped up, wrapped her leg around the neck of the other and rammed his head into the wall. Two other agents tried to attack, but both fell when Ilsa nailed them with throwing daggers.
Sarah waited nervously for the gang to make it down the stairs. Casey went to pull up the sedan.
Sarah looked behind her to see Utah with a gun aimed at her.
"I should have suspected you'd have something to do with this," Utah teased. "What interest did you have in our bank?"
Sarah gave a little smile. Utah was confused until someone hit him in the back of the head. He turned around…and fell from Casey's vicious hook.
"Direct deposit," Casey snarled.
Sarah's eyes widened. She ran at Casey, leaped, and planted her hands on his shoulder, using him to swing hard and roundhouse kick the two agents coming up behind them.
Sarah exhaled in relief. "That's what I like best about you, John," she said with a grin and patted his shoulders. "Built like a concrete statue."
Casey grumbled in annoyance as everyone made it down the stairwell. They ran outside as Chuck and Jimmy pulled up.
"You'll go get it?" Sarah called.
"No prob," Jimmy replied. "Get Nick and Nora out of here."
Ellie and Devon joined Sarah and Casey in the car and drove back to El Toro as everyone else went to finish the operation.
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro – Irvine, CA
June 8, 2016
6:00 PM PDT
Ellie paced back and forth, practically wearing out the concrete underneath her feet. Devon and Casey went to get some supplies and food, but she still couldn't shake off what happened now that the adrenaline and stress of the situation had worn off.
"Ellie?" Sarah asked as she walked out of the van. "You OK?"
"No, I am not OK. In fact, I'm as far from OK that I can be! How the hell did that happen in there? How did we get captured? Why the hell couldn't all of you find us? Why did you let me go on this?"
"You…insisted…" Sarah started timidly.
"Why the hell did you listen to me?! You let me do an incredibly stupid thing like that? Then we barely get away! I…we…" Ellie began to shake uncontrollably, and tears formed in her eyes.
"ELLIE!" Sarah shouted, grabbing her. She led Ellie back to the van and sat her down. She got a bottle of water for her.
"Ellie, please…" Sarah pleaded, taking her hands and holding tightly. "You two were amazing in there. You couldn't have done better. You know how many people would have folded in your situation? Even agents in the field sometimes lose it, but you didn't. We did everything right, and they still outsmarted us. But in the end, we got what we needed. And you and Devon are the reasons we did. Be proud of that."
Ellie's shaking subsided. She slowly exhaled. "You're right, Sarah. I'm so sorry…"
Sarah pulled Ellie to her and hugged her tightly. "Do not even think of apologizing. You have been such a big help to us, and you've been so amazing to me. You've helped me more than you can possibly know."
"Thank you for taking care of us," Ellie replied, returning the hug. "And thank you for taking care of Chuck."
"El…El…" Sarah started desperately tapping Ellie.
"Oh!" Ellie let Sarah go. Sarah took in a breath.
"You REALLY need to teach me how to do that," Sarah rasped as she pulled away from Ellie's oxygen-depriving hug. "That could have saved my life so many times in the field."
Ellie laughed. "Sorry. I'm just…you were right. You have amazing people working for you. That move Carina made twisting that guy's neck with her leg, and Ilsa with the knives."
"Wait, don't tell me; then Jimmy did something stupid and crazy."
"And that was incredible, too," Ellie said.
"They are great. Casey got someone I didn't see while I waited for all of you. We always have each other's backs."
"That you do."
The two heard cars entering, and they went outside. Everyone had returned.
"Did it work?" Ellie asked Chuck.
He held up the drive. "We got it."
"Nice work, everybody," Sarah said and went over to Chuck. "Especially you," she purred, giving him a kiss.
"Ewwww…" Casey ground out and snatched the drive out of Chuck's hands as he passed him.
"That was brilliant," Ellie said.
"Li'l bro's a genius," Jimmy said with a grin. "That's twice now From Russia With Love saved our asses. Beautiful idea, Chuck."
"I'm just glad you thought of the courier service," Chuck replied.
"I figured it'd be safer if the two of them didn't carry it out of the bank. And it was at the drop-off mail store right on time."
"Let's see what we got," Cole said.
Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Jimmy went into the surveillance van while everybody else got things organized. Jimmy attached the drive to their computers as Ellie and Devon came in to take a look as well.
"Good, yes, this is great," Jimmy said. "Glad you went slow, Devon. These are good images."
Jimmy continued to flip through the pages, sharpening anything that was out of focus.
"Bingo," Chuck said, pointing at the image on display. "There's our Intersect room."
"You were right, Chuck," Ellie replied.
"Yeah, but what about a location?" Casey asked.
Jimmy flipped through a few more images of documents. "How does Woodland Hills sound, Case?"
Casey looked at the screen to see an image of a corporate park. "We have a winner."
"Now we just need to get the Intersects there," Sarah said. "But what about the Ring itself?"
Jimmy continued to flip through the pages. "Stop," Chuck told him. "Go back two pages and zoom it in."
Jimmy did as Chuck requested. Chuck saw a list of names and flashed, seeing images of a double-helix, countdowns of nuclear warheads, acres of weapons, and the faces of five people.
"Aaahhhh!" he cried out, doubling-over. Casey had to catch him before he fell.
"Chuck!" Sarah cried. Jimmy bolted out of his chair and helped Casey ease Chuck into it. Sarah grabbed his face. "Chuck!"
Chuck blinked himself back to the present. "The Ring…the Ring…" he pushed through his breath.
"What about the Ring?" Devon asked as everyone else entered after hearing Chuck's cry.
"The Five Elders." Chuck said weakly but began to gain his strength back. "I know who the Five Elders are."
Everyone looked at each other in complete astonishment.
Buy More – Burbank, CA
June 8, 2016
8:30 PM PDT
Morgan said goodbye to the agents who were working at the Buy More for Cole. They said nothing had gone on since yesterday, and nobody from the government had come yet to confiscate the equipment. Maybe Sarah and the team were wrong about that and didn't need that surveillance van after all.
"All set?" Big Mike asked as he opened the employees' exit.
"Yeah, just talked to Chuck. He had one of those flash things hurt him earlier."
"Is he OK?"
"Yeah, he's good. And they scored big today. I mean they got everything now! We are gonna win this!"
"Hope so. Don't want to spend the rest of my life in jail or always looking behind my back."
"Let's get some rest, dude. Lots still left."
Morgan and Big Mike left the store. Two figures waited until their cars were gone and went to the door. The paper they left in the lock did its job and they were able to open it.
"Did you hear that?" Lester whispered.
"I hear lots of things this late," Jeff slurred.
"No, it all makes sense now. The CD in the right place, the hole in the parking lot pavement, Slade coming here all the time. Now Morgan and Big Mike know, too! They're part of this!"
They made it to the office door. "It's all back here! That's how he can be with someone as hot as Sarah Walker!"
Lester went to tap on the computer keypad.
"Unauthorized entry," a computerized voice called out. A shock gun aimed at Jeff and fired. He was lit up like a Christmas tree and fell to the ground. Lester screamed.
Jeff lay on the ground. "That was so cool," he droned in a voice mellow enough to make the Big Lebowski proud. Lester shook his head.
"Chuck Bartowski is a spy!" he whispered in shock.