Author's Note: Wow, so this is a little weird, me actually posting a story. But weirdness is the goal when writing a story for Halloween, so I guess I must be doing something right. Why this story? Well, as some of you may know, I agreed to participate in the Castle Inanity Hallowhedon challenge (and seeing how it was half my idea, that's probably a good thing). This is my entry, a multi-chaptered sequel to my old one-shot Chuck vs. the Zombie Apocalypse. While reading this, some of you may ask what this has to do exactly with Joss Whedon or any of his universes, and my answer to you is...it's a tenuous connection at best, which will be explained as the story progresses. Heh. But what can I say, I'm a rebel, and tenuous is all you're going to get. Also, this is what I wanted to write. So there.
Oh and Happy Halloween!
Scouting Team - Alpha
234 days since Z-Day
Morgan peered through his binoculars at the desolate, white wasteland that surrounded him in all directions. There was nothing but white snow as far as the eye could see. It was so cold that he contemplated shaving his beard off for about the forty-third time. Nobody liked having a beardsicle.
He adjusted the hood of his parka so that it was pulled closer to his face and sighed, his breath transforming into swirling vapor.
Morgan had to twist his entire upper body just to see the man standing next to him. He briefly thought about making some smartass remark about the man stating the obvious, but bit his tongue. He had been working on his impulse control issues. So instead, he said a simple, "I know." When in doubt, be laconic. That's what years of Clint Eastwood movies had taught him.
"They wouldn't be late. It's not like Roy and Argento to miss a rendezvous."
Morgan nodded his head and refocused back on the expanse of open plain in front of him. Jones was right. Roy and Argento had never missed a rendezvous before. That meant both men were likely dead.
Casey was not going to like that. It made them the fourth scouting team to suffer casualties in as many months.
He adjusted the strap of the Mossberg 500 hanging from his right shoulder nervously. He squinted through his goggles, trying to see if he had missed anything in their immediate area that might give a clue to Roy and Argento's location. He couldn't even see tracks that might give an indication as to where they might have gone.
"You tried raising them on the radio?"
"For the last 15 minutes. Nothing."
"Then they're probably dead."
"Aw, man, don't say that. You'll jinx 'em."
Morgan frowned and turned around completely to face the much taller man. There was no point in wasting time on fantasies. Not anymore. "Just being practical. We should keep looking, though. Their snowmobiles are too valuable to lose."
Jones didn't say anything, the two men staring at each other. Morgan did his best to stay implacable. It was important to convey the proper façade of detached professionalism. At least that's what Casey had been trying to drill into his head for the last eight months.
Eventually, Jones conceded to his words with a nod of his head. "You're probably right. Where do you think?"
Morgan peered carefully at the snow-covered plain and tapped his gloved fingers against his thigh. "If I were them and a wampa was chasing after me, I'd head west, toward the mountains, and hope I could lose them there. If they're still alive, that's probably where they are."
Jones groaned and said, "Dude, I thought we had a rule about no more Hoth references."
"I don't remember that," Morgan said as innocently as possible. He couldn't help smiling a little. Not all of his old self had disappeared since the dead had consumed the world.
"We had a group meeting, remember? There was even a memo. Agent Walker threatened you with dismemberment if you continued to encourage Chuck."
Morgan shivered then and it had nothing to do with the cold. Discovering that Chuck's sweet, innocent-looking girlfriend was a highly trained secret agent had been almost as big a shock as Fernando trying to play Mystery Crisper with his tasty brain. And ever since Sarah no longer had to hide her true nature, she'd become far less understanding than he was used to. He now regularly suffered horrifying flashes of his untimely and completely unwarranted death. The most common vision these days was Sarah popping out of the frozen tundra like a rabid wampa and ripping his arms out of their sockets.
Still, you could put the fear of a wild ice beast into the nerd, but you couldn't take the nerd out of the, well, nerd and he really needed to work on his analogies. "Good thing she's not here, isn't it?"
Jones scowled. "Unlike you, I don't have a get out of jail free card when it comes to Agent Walker, and I'd rather not incur her wrath, thank you. Why tempt Fate?"
"Because it's fun?"
"I hate you."
"Relax. She's mostly all talk." Morgan adjusted his shotgun and held it a little closer to his body. "I think."
He took a deep breath, wincing as the cold hair bit into his throat and lungs. They had stood around long enough. They needed to get going if they hoped to search for Roy and Argento and still make it back to the convoy before it got too dark. The last thing anybody wanted was to be out in the open at night.
You never knew when a zombie squirrel would sneak up on you and take a chunk of your flesh to store away for winter.
Morgan walked over to his snowmobile. He climbed onto it and turned it on. He looked over his shoulder to see Jones do the same. He raised his voice to be heard over the dual machines. "Call in, make sure they know what we're doing and give them our position."
Jones was already speaking into his radio. Maybe once the convoy caught up to the rendezvous point, he and Jones would have found something. And if not, then he knew Chuck and Casey would check the area themselves. It's possible he could have missed something. The others would make sure.
Scouting Team - Alpha
234 days since Z-Day
They found their first clue to the missing scouts' whereabouts over an hour later. Morgan had missed the little hillock completely. Jones said he'd only seen it because he'd caught the splash of red out of the corner of his eye while checking behind them for tails.
They took a wide arc to come back to the hillock, Morgan carefully searching for any suspicious furrows or deformations of the terrain. Hunters were known for being sneaky bastards and loved to set ambushes. If anything had gotten to Roy and Argento, it was probably a group of Hunters. They were too experienced scouts otherwise.
Eventually both men stilled their machines about 20 feet from the hillock. Blood was everywhere. One snowmobile was turned over on its side. The second had a huge hole in the engine block, evidently taking a hit from a stray round. Spent shell casings littered the ground, as did three corpses. None of which were Roy and Argento.
Jones voiced what he was thinking. "That's good, right?" The taller man carefully booted a corpse onto its back, shotgun held at the ready. A hole the size of Morgan's thumb was where the corpse's left eye had been. A killshot.
"It's better than I was expecting, honestly." Morgan gave a careful once-over to the other two corpses, both of which were already face-up. "Though if they're out there on foot," he absently pointed out into space, "then they're probably not going to last the night."
"Again with the jinxing." Jones double-checked his examination of the other two corpses.
"Last I looked, they don't actually have a tauntaun."
Jones didn't do anything more than roll his eyes this time. Morgan flashed a quick grin and then walked off in the direction of a blood trail. "Looks like somebody walked away."
Jones crouched down to the ground studied the trail closely. "I think Roy's got a busted leg." Jones stood up and stared in the direction of the trail. "His right one."
Morgan shook his head and stared at the ground. He didn't get how Jones could tell something like that from the boot imprints and blood at all, but he had learned long ago not to discount Jones when it came to tracking. "How long?"
Jones toed a dulling patch of red snow. "Hmm…I'd say about ninety minutes."
"Then they couldn't have gotten far." Morgan adjusted his parka again and looked up at the sky. Not much longer before dark. If they didn't find the missing scouts soon, they'd have to call off the search, at least until morning. "Come on, we'd better find them before darkness falls."
Scouting Team - Alpha
234 days since Z-Day
They found Roy and Argento twenty minutes later. Or what appeared to be Roy and Argento. It was impossible to be sure from a distance. If Roy was injured, it was likely he'd been bitten, which meant it was only a matter of time before he was no longer Jameson Roy.
They stopped their snowmobiles well back from the two figures slowly walking northeast across the snow. Zombies were fast bastards for the walking dead and Morgan had once seen a loper cover a hundred yards in less than eight seconds, rip the arm off one man, and use the torn limb to beat another man to death before the loper was put down.
They climbed off their vehicles in tandem and Morgan reached for the radio that Jones carried. Jones handed it over and then raised his shotgun to his shoulder.
Roy and Argento had already turned around and started toward them; Argento was waving. Morgan waved back and activated the radio.
"This is Rogue Two. This is Rogue Two. Captain Solo, do you copy?"
There was brief static and then Chuck came in loud and clear. "Go ahead, Rogue Two." Even through the radio, he could hear the bemusement in Chuck's voice. Sarah must not have been listening in if Chuck was indulging him.
"We've found them. I repeat, we've found them."
More static and then Chuck said, "Roger that, Rogue Two. Alive?"
"Any idea what happened?"
Morgan shook his head even though Chuck couldn't see him. Roy and Argento were only a hundred yards away now and Morgan tensed. He knew there was no need to. Even if both of them had been bitten, they still wouldn't change for a few hours. Still, he couldn't shake the nearly overpowering desire to hop on his snowmobile and get the hell out of there. He had a very finely honed survival instinct. One had to when spending any significant length of time around John Casey.
Somehow, Chuck must have known he had shaken his head because the next thing his best friend said was, "Alright, Morgan, go ahead and bring them in for quarantine. If you need help, let me know."
"Roger that, Chuck. We'll be moving pretty slow. Argento's snowmobile is useless."
He heard Chuck mutter a curse and then said, "Okay, make the best time you can. We're going to be stopping soon for—"
Whatever Chuck was going to say was cut off as another voice cut into the transmission. "Obstruction ahead! I repeat, obstruction ahead!" That was Skip, Morgan instantly recognized. His voice was high and excited.
Morgan shivered then and felt all the muscles in his body temporary lock. Skip's message had been in the clear, and the only messages transmitted across all channels were when there was an emergency.
The sound of tinny gunfire suddenly assaulted his ears and Skip's panicked voice cut through again, "Damn it, we're under attack!"
Note: I wanted to thank all of you who read and I hope you enjoyed. Normally, I would never ask for reviews, but I just wanted to remind everybody who reads that both Frea O'Scanlin and I have agreed that for every review somebody leaves for a Hallowhedon contest story, we will vote for Chuck in the TV Guide contest.
Next chapter: Chuck's perspective! Look for Chapter Two to be posted either tomorrow or, more likely, on Tuesday.