4:52 P.M.

February 1st, 2527

Companion House Madrassa, planet Sihnon

"Priestess Inara!" a voice called.

Inara turned, to see a Companion-in-training running toward her.

"Yes, my child?

"This was just delivered for you."

The trainee handed Inara an envelope. A fairly ancient envelope, from the looks of it. It had been stamped with the seal of the National Security Agency.

Looking at it, Inara saw that it was addressed to her, in care of Companion House Madrassa, to be delivered February 1st, 2527. The return address, though, puzzled her.

"Malcolm and Sarah Reynolds," the label said. "Bethesda, Maryland."

"What in heaven's name," she whispered to herself, opening the envelope.

Inside was a single secure digital memory stick. Removing it and looking at it curiously, she placed it in the reader attached to her computer – and Mal's face appeared on her screen.

"Howdy there, Inara!" he said enthusiastically. "This is the ghost of Malcolm Reynolds, speaking to you from 500 years in the past."

"Goofball," she muttered with a smile.

"By now, you've no doubt heard reports that Serenity disappeared without a trace somewhere between Persephone and Greenleaf. While it is true we disappeared, the reports of our demise are somewhat exaggerated.

"Renegade agents of the NSA sent us back in time in an attempt to cause us to crash someplace where we would never be found. However, they failed to take into account River's superior piloting skills, which saved us when we crashed.

"Interestingly enough, we ended up crashing on Earth-that-was, in the early 21st century. And in an odd twist, who found us but our old friend, Chuck Bartowski.

"That was followed by a strange little piece of business where said renegade agents followed us back, met up with their compatriots from the 21st century, and tried to kill some folks. During those events, something odd happened.

"Zoe fell in love, with John Casey – Jayne's ancestor. Jayne and River went to this city called Las Vegas and came back having won over 500 million dollars from the casinos there. I think that River may have cheated -"

"I didn't cheat!" River's voice came from off-screen.

"- but who cares if she did, really. Kaylee rekindled her love for Chuck, and I found myself having an odd connection with Sarah Walker.

"Anyway, after all was said and done, we as a crew made the decision – and a difficult one it was – to stay in the 21st century. The damage to Serenity was irreparable, and we decided it was time for all of us to stop running from the Alliance.

"So, Kaylee and Chuck got married. The ceremony was beautiful. There are pictures of it in another directory on the memory stick. Zoe and Casey, believe it or not, are expecting little boy – they're going to name him Hoban Washburne Casey... which, I guess, means he will probably be going by Wash, just like his namesake. There are ultrasound pictures of him on the memory stick as well. We have determined that this means that Zoe is Jayne's several-times-over great-grandmother. Try to wrap your head around that.

"Jayne used his new found fortune to buy an entertainment enterprise known as Playboy. It's right up his alley. Simon's working at a hospital called Cedars-Sinai, and River managed to get drunk and get married in a casino chapel to the Air Force pilot who flew the Enterprise when they came for Chuck all those years ago.

"As for me… believe it or not, I finally settled down. Sarah and I got married a little while back. We had our first kid a couple months after we got married – yes, that means she was pregnant before we got married; don't tell my mother. Oh, wait, she's dead.

"Anyway, because 36 is a little late in life for a woman of this time period to have her first child, her doctor was concerned that the child might develop something called Down Syndrome, but she turned out just fine.

"We named her Lisa Derrial Reynolds – Derrial, after Shepherd Book, and Lisa because that is apparently Sarah's real middle name. You probably won't believe it, but Sarah Walker isn't actually her real name. It was her undercover name, but she spent so long as Sarah Walker that she became Sarah Walker. Now, she told me her real name, but I'm only allowed to call her by it if she's feeling dirty."

Mal's head suddenly jolted in the video, as it was evident that Sarah had overheard him and smacked him in the back of the head. She stuck her face into view.

"Don't listen to him," she said with a smile. "Malcolm Reynolds is a filthy, perverted old man."

Sarah turned to Mal and kissed him, and then exited the video frame.

"Sorry about that," Mal said. "Anyway, everybody wanted to say hi, so…"

The video panned out, and there was the whole crew of Serenity, plus Sarah, Casey, and Chuck. "Hi, Inara!" they all called, waving. "Have good sex!" Kaylee added in a shout.

Inara smiled and shook her head at that one.

The camera zoomed back in on Mal. "So that's all. I hope all is well for you. We miss you, Inara. Take care."

The video ended, and the screen went dark again. Inara smiled sadly and removed the SDM stick from the reader. She felt a curious mix of happiness and sadness – sadness that she'd never see her friends again, happiness that they'd finally found peace and joy in their lives.

"Godspeed," she whispered. "And good luck."


2:34 P.M.

March 15th, 2021

Office of Bryce Larkin, DD(O), CIA

Washington, DC

"Alright, send him in," Bryce said to his secretary over the intercom.

His door opened, and a kid entered. At least, he looked like a kid. "Doctor Mark Winger," he introduced himself.

"You're a doctor?" Bryce asked him in disbelief. "You look like you're 19."

"Twenty-three, actually," Dr. Winger said. "The CIA grabbed me when I was young."

"No doubt," Bryce muttered. "So, what do you have for me?"

"Well," Dr. Winger replied, "we've been working with some of the technology we recovered from Frank Mullins' shuttle."

"Good Lord," Bryce exclaimed. "That was almost three years ago."

"That's how long it's taken us to figure some of it out," Dr. Winger said. "But we've finally come up with our first device from the technology. Here."

He set the device on Bryce's desk. Bryce just looked at it. "What is it?"

Dr. Winger simply said, "Put it on."

Bryce did. He held it up and looked at it. "So, what does it do?"

"It's incredible," Winger replied excitedly. "It's one size fits all – it'll conform to any person's hand, no matter how big or small. It keeps your hand at a consistent temperature, and your hand doesn't sweat."

Then he smiled and leaned in on Bryce's desk. "But here's the best thing. It can be reprogrammed to make you anybody – your fingerprints can become anybody else's fingerprints, or you can become nobody at all."

Bryce held it up again and looked at it in disbelief. "That's incredible," he finally spoke. "I mean, if I didn't know better, I'd think it was just a…

Blue.

Latex.

Glove."

fin


And so ends Chuck vs. the Past. It comes time now to put the good ship Chuckaylee on the shelf so that I can return to Chuck vs. the Pie-Maker

A quick word about some of the locations in the story. With the exception of Chuck's fictional mansion in Rancho Palos Verdes - and obviously, the Buy More shopping plaza on Santa Monica Blvd. - all the locations in this story are real. Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the Beverly Center, South Coast Plaza, Bel-Air Presbyterian Church, and obviously, the Playboy Mansion and Disneyland are all very real locations in Los Angeles. As far as Phoenix goes, the Chase Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Phoenix; Deer Valley Municipal Airport really is on 19th Avenue, Central and Dunlap do intersect just south of North Mountain, U-Haul does in fact have their corporate headquarters at 2701 N. Central Avenue, and believe it or not, there really is an abandoned old CostCo at 27th Avenue and Bell Road.

It really doesn't feel like it's only been thirteen days since I started writing Chuck vs. the Future. I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read my flights of fancy, and I hope you enjoyed yourself. See you 'round the 'verse.