This story is in response to the World War II challenge on the Chuck forum here at FanFiction. We're always looking for more people to be crazy with, so please, come join us at the "TWoP Kicked Us Out, But We Still Love Chuck" forum!
Chuck vs. the Resistance – A World War II Story
Chapter 1: "All Is Not As It Seems"
CAST (in order of appearance):
General Bill Donovan: Dennis Hopper
Bryce Larkin: Matthew Bomer
Richard Mauser: Michael Rooker
Morgan Grimes: Joshua Gomez
Chuck Bartowski: Zachary Levi
Anna Wu: Julia Ling
Major John Casey: Adam Baldwin
Corrine "Carina" de Montgalliard: Mini Anden
Department of War
Wild Bill Donovan, director of the newly formed Office of Strategic Services – or, as his official government title read, "Coordinator of Information" – looked with a skeptical eye at the two new agents seated directly across from him. Mauser looked washed up – as well Donovan could imagine; after all Mauser had spent the last twenty years as an LAPD beat cop. Donovan could scarcely imagine why Herbert Yardley had recommended Mauser for the OSS, but there it was.
And then there was the other one. Larkin. He barely looked old enough to shave, let alone be an intelligence agent. Donovan remembered when he had been Larkin's age – he had been a wet-behind-the-ears Wall Street lawyer at the time, still two years from his first service in an organized militia.
That, of course, was all completely discounting the dossier that lay on Donovan's desk. The dossier was a file on one Charles Irving Bartowski, an associate producer at RKO Pictures who seemed to have a remarkable propensity for retaining subliminal imagery. Donovan had been tasked by President Roosevelt to see that Bartowski was recruited, and so Donovan was about to assign the odd couple before him to ensure that it occurred.
"There are some things to consider," Donovan explained. "Bartowski is a liberal Hollywood type, and so he might not be so inclined to join the fight. On top of that, he's something of a klutz, and seems to be obsessed with technology." Donovan snorted. Technology was the bane of his existence. Cryptography machines? Radar? This new M4 tank bullshit? For God's sake, just give him his Colt 1911 and a good, old-fashioned rifle, and he'd take care of the enemy but good.
"I'm sure we can persuade him, sir," Larkin replied. "I imagine he can see which way the wind is blowing, and we can convince him to do his part for America."
Donovan raised an eyebrow. "And just how do you plan to do that, Mr. Larkin?"
"Threaten his sister," Mauser grumbled. "Twist his arm a little bit. Good, old-fashioned coercion."
"Much as I would like to approve that, I'm afraid Secretary Stimson would crap his pants," Donovan grunted. "No, Bartowski has to come of his own free will."
Larkin and Mauser spent a further ten minutes in Donovan's office, discussing with him how exactly they would get this Bartowski to join their ranks. "Whatever it takes – within reason, gentlemen," Donovan told them in conclusion. "The orders on this come directly from FDR himself. We cannot afford to screw around."
"Yes, sir," the two men said in unison.
"Very good," Donovan said. "Dismissed."
Once the two men were out of Donovan's earshot, Mauser turned to Larkin. "So, what exactly are we going to do to this Bartowski?"
"It's simple," Larkin replied. "We'll drive him mad."
Mauser narrowed his eyes. "How exactly do you propose we do that?"
Larkin smiled in response. "Agent Mauser, believe me, Fulcrum command had this worked out long before General Donovan ever called us to his office."
Mauser wasn't entirely pleased with the cryptic response, but for whatever reason, Larkin was a far higher-ranking member of Fulcrum than he, and so the former LAPD officer let it go. "Are you going to let me in on the plan?"
"Absolutely," Larkin replied. "Follow me."
Mauser did as Larkin ordered, following him deep into the bowels of the Munitions Building. He grew puzzled when they passed through a door marked "RECORDS."
"If I may ask," Mauser said, "how exactly is anything in the Records Department going to drive this Bartowski fellow out of his mind?"
"You have to think creatively, Richard," Larkin said. Mauser bristled – he didn't like it when people he barely knew used his first name, let alone this officious little prick. "How do you mess with the mind of a man who remembers everything he sees?"
Mauser shrugged and shook his head. "I suppose you find some way to overload his brain."
Larkin turned around, a smile on his face. "Exactly." He then turned back and continued forward. "We need something that will overload Mr. Bartowski's brain, make it snap."
"How exactly do you plan to accomplish that?" Mauser had just about had enough.
Larkin stopped in front of a shelf containing a single film reel, which he picked up. "This," he replied with a smile.
Mauser rolled his eyes. "Alright, Larkin, what's the game here? A reel of film is going to drive Bartowski out of his mind?"
"Again, you're not thinking creatively," Larkin admonished him. "This reel of film contains 31,680 frames. Each frame has one piece of US intelligence stored on it."
Mauser raised an eyebrow. "And?"
"And, Bartowski is a producer in a movie studio," Larkin continued. "If he receives a reel of film, his first instinct will be to watch it. Now, can you imagine the effects of more than 30,000 frames of information being forced into the brain of somebody who remembers EVERYTHING HE SEES?"
And that's when the lightbulb went on in Mauser's head. "Of course," he breathed. "His brain will be overloaded, and he'll lose his mind!"
Now Mauser was nodding. "That's ingenious!" he exclaimed. "What brilliant madman came up with this idea?"
Larkin's smile turned slightly evil. "Well, the man who came up with it is certainly brilliant, but I wouldn't go so far as to call him mad," he said, a conspiratorial tone to his voice.
Mauser cocked his head. "Who was it?"
Larkin's words made Mauser's blood run cold. "Adolf Hitler."
Richard Mauser was stunned. "What do you mean, Hitler came up with it?" he replied. "What does Hilter have to do with Fulcrum?"
"Ah, Richard," Larkin replied. "How little you know. How little so many Fulcrum men know. But they can't know – if they knew that they were serving the Third Reich, they'd all depart!"
A sick feeling began to spread in Mauser's stomach. "Then why are you telling me all this?"
Larkin raised his right arm – and to Mauser's horror, a Walther P38 pistol was in his hand, aimed at Mauser. "Because I'm going to kill you."
"What?" Mauser gasped. "Why?!"
Hauptmann Bryce von Larkin of the Waffen SS looked at Richard Mauser, a touch of pity on his face. "Orders from der Führer."
Culver City, California
Chuck Bartowski groaned. This was getting out of hand. When he had agreed to work on Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion, he hadn't expected Hitchcock to be a downright tyrant. But as it was, he had forced Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine to reshoot the same scene nine times now – and as far as Chuck was concerned, each and every take had been near perfect.
Fortunately, Hitchcock announced a ten minute break, and Bartowski made a beeline for his cottage. The first three years after he had graduated from Stanford with a film degree, he had had to share a cottage, but with his promotion to assistant producer nine months before, he had been allocated his own cottage – one which his childhood friend, Morgan Grimes, took full advantage of.
"Chuck!" Morgan exclaimed as Chuck entered the cottage. "A package came for you."
Chuck looked at Morgan, and then at the package on the table. It was flat and wide – a sure sign of a film reel. "You didn't open it, did you?"
Morgan shook his head. "I did not. I know the rules."
Chuck sighed. "Damn well better." He set the package on end, and then sliced it open. Sure enough, a film can was inside, along with a note. Mr. Bartowski – think you'll find this to your liking, the note said. It was unsigned, but this wasn't the first time Chuck had received a film reel with no signature.
He slid the can out of the box and opened it – and was surprised to discover that it was a double, 2,000 foot reel, as opposed to a standard reel. Now his curiosity was piqued.
Crossing to his desk, Chuck picked up the telephone and dialed zero. "Anna," he said a moment later, "is the screening room available?"
"Yes, Mr. Bartowski," he heard. "Jeff and Lester are on projection duty right now – do you need them?"
Chuck rolled his eyes. Jeff and Lester, the twin idiots of RKO Pictures. "That's a definite no," he replied. "This is going to be a private screening."
Morgan's face fell when he heard Chuck say the words "private screening". "Aw, Chuck," he complained as Chuck hung up the phone, "does this mean I don't get to see it either?"
Chuck looked at Morgan with a raised eyebrow. "Morgan," he replied, clapping his friend on the shoulder, "the last time I let you see a reel like this, the Los Angeles Times had a full synopsis of the first twenty minutes of Citizen Kane two days later."
Morgan raised his hands. "That wasn't my fault, swear to God," he said. "How was I supposed to know that that girl at the Frolic Room worked for the Times?"
Chuck shrugged. "Sorry, Morgan," he said on his way out the door.
Five minutes later, Chuck entered the darkened screening room. He smiled as he walked in – he loved coming in here to watch film. It made the days of silent films with his older sister seem like an almost prehistoric memory.
Chuck loaded the reel onto the projector and sat down in the seat next to it. Reaching up, he flipped the switch to start the reel –
And was presented with a bizarre sequence of rapidly jumbled images. "What is this?" Chuck muttered in confusion. He reached up to turn the projector off –
But he found he couldn't move his hand. In fact, he couldn't move at all. He tried to look away, but couldn't move his head.
The images seemed to be getting closer. Chuck's eyes widened, and he began to hear his heartbeat in his head. "HELP!" he yelled – and then realized, no sound had come out, his lips hadn't moved.
What the hell is this?! Chuck thought in despair. Oh God, oh God, oh God –
The two agents standing in front of Wild Bill Donovan were very, very different from the two the week before. Donovan snorted in disgust as he thought of those two – Mauser, found shot dead in the Records Room, next to a shelf missing the single most important US military intelligence asset. Larkin, completely disappeared. God only knew where – and nobody knew if he was a turncoat or if he was dead himself.
No, these two were trained professionals. John Casey was a major in the US Army, and had been one of the best trainers at the Army's sniper school until Donovan had co-opted him. Corinne de Montgalliard, who went by the nickname "Carina", had come to him from André Dewavrin's Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action, which at the moment was not doing much at all in an attempt to keep under the radar of the SS.
"A film reel was sent to this film producer, Charles Bartowski," Donovan explained to the two agents. "It contained all of the most important military intelligence secrets we have."
"You say he's a film producer," Carina said. "What if he viewed the reel?"
Donovan shrugged. "To answer that, you have to understand that Bartowski has a phenomenal capability to retain that which he sees," he replied. "With that in mind, there are two possibilities. One: his brain couldn't handle the information, and he went mad."
John Casey grunted. "And the other possibility?"
"This is just a theory," Donovan warned them. "However, one of the psychologists that works for us believes that Bartowski's mind may have been able to absorb all of the information on this film reel, and that he will be able to access certain frames based on certain stimuli."
Carina raised an eyebrow. "That's a pretty far-fetched theory, sir."
"Nonetheless," Donovan replied. "You need to find this Bartowski and get the reel back. If he hasn't viewed it, so much the better, but if he has…"
Casey smiled. "I think I know the answer to that, sir."
"No," Donovan warned him. "Do not kill him, Major Casey. If he's mad, he's mad, and he can go into a home. If, however, he can process the imagery, he just became an invaluable intelligence asset. We planned to recruit him anyway; this would just increase his worth."
Casey grumbled in displeasure. "Where is he?" Carina asked.
"Los Angeles," Donovan said. "He works for RKO Pictures."
"Los Angeles, huh?" Casey echoed. "Good. I've been feeling a little pasty lately."
Author's note: the following were real people –
General William "Wild Bill" Donovan – director of the OSS, 1941-1945
Herbert Yardley - director of MI-8, the US Army's intelligence service until 1929
Secretary Henry Lewis Stimson – US Secretary of War, 1940-1945
André Dewavrin – director of the French BCRA, 1940-1946
And I'm sure you all know who Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, and Joan Fontaine were.