Hello. It's been a while since I've done a long-form story, but I've been playing around with a few ideas. As it happens, I went back and forth between doing a sequel to Chuck vs. the Next Generation or another Forrest & Slade story. The F&S story will take a bit of time to develop, but I came up with what I hope is a good idea of continuing the story of John Bartowski, the son of Chuck and Sarah Bartowski. Yes, he'll be teaming up with Samantha again and it'll be a wild trip through the UK (I hope).
Special thanks to BDaddyDL for looking over some of the material and for giving me the original idea for Chuck vs. the Next Generation. As always, please leave reviews. Let me know what you think, what you like, what you don't like, don't be shy.
London, United Kingdom
May 24, 2033
9:00 PM GMT
Arthur Pollard took one last drag on his cigarette and threw it away. He conceded it was not the healthiest of habits…less than five percent of the nine billion people in the world still smoked…but he figured his career choice was far less healthy than a cigarette. After ten years at this, going on mission after mission, ordered around by people who cared more about politics than doing what was needed, he had grown weary of it. He wasn't a human being anymore; he was simply a tool to be used and discarded by His Majesty's Government.
But things were changing. He had a purpose now. A purpose that would bring him back to the days when this job mattered. And a lucrative purpose at that. He would certainly deliver on his end of the deal. He hoped that the other people involved were just as competent and determined at fulfilling their objectives.
He exited his car and opened the trunk, taking the weapon out of it. To the casual observer, it looked like a grenade launcher. However, a grenade launcher would be far too loud and far too messy for his assignment tonight. The people who provided the weapon promised it would do the job required and help them move forward with the first phase of their plan. The weapon Pollard held in his hand would do the trick quite nicely. Certainly Pollard preferred that to trying to take out the rumored twenty men inside the warehouse through conventional means. Then the huge cache of weapons inside the warehouse would be theirs for the taking.
He placed the protective noise-canceling headphones over his ears and placed the barrel on his shoulder. He activated the weapon and looked through the laser-guided sight to find his target inside the warehouse fifty yards away from his location. He released the safety and fired. The projectile that fired out of the barrel penetrated the outer wall and landed in the middle of the warehouse. The men inside didn't have enough time to react as the projectile released a high-pitched electronic wave. Instantly every man inside grabbed their ears in pain, but it was to no avail. The electronic waves overloaded their nervous systems and short circuited the neural pathways to their brains. All twenty men collapsed dead where they stood.
He switched the laser sight to heat-detecting to confirm nobody was moving inside the warehouse. He put the launcher back in his trunk and removed the protective headphones. He took out his iComm and dialed a number nobody but him knew about.
"The warehouse is ready."
As he heard the sounds of trucks off in the distance, ready to transport tonight's treasure to a secured location, he couldn't help but think he was finally doing something worthwhile. He was getting in on the ground floor of something that could reshape the world. No more pencil-pushers, no more fickle politics, and no more disrespect.
For the first time in a long time, a smile came across his face.
Santa Monica High School
June 4, 2033
11:30 AM PDT
Sarah Bartowski was typically not one to shed tears. It wasn't her style. That was not to say she hadn't done it before; she wasn't a robot. Bryce Larkin's death…both of them, as it turned out…created an emotional upheaval in her, as did the time when Chuck was captured by The Belgian, or when Jimmy Slade sacrificed his life to insure Chuck's and her survival. She was quite emotional when Chuck told her all of those stories on the beach because she had the memories of them taken away by Nicholas Quinn.
The number of times she shed tears in times of happiness could be limited to the births of her two children. And today, as she watched her son, John, graduate high school.
It still didn't feel real to her. Not in her wildest dreams did she ever think her life would end up like this. This was, in fact, the first high school graduation she ever attended. She didn't bother showing up for her own 35 years ago. The last thing she needed was to have the other students remind her that her father wouldn't be there because he was in jail. But today, as she looked across the football field at all of the graduates, she enjoyed every minute, as proud as any parent could be at seeing their child make such a tremendous accomplishment.
"And the Mel Kaufman Tri-Athlete Award is presented to John Bartowski," the principal announced.
John rose from his seat for the third time that morning, having already been announced as a Merit Scholar and winning the Glenn Ford Citizenship Award. He walked up to the stage to thunderous applause, the majority of which was provided by John Casey and Jimmy Slade, who were sitting right behind Chuck, Sarah, and their daughter, Emma. Sarah shook her head and smiled: those two made enough noise for a thousand people. Sarah couldn't help but wonder how John would feel in a few years when his two adopted daughters would go through this process. She was determined to be there just to see if John cried. As for Jimmy, he was in the same situation as her, having never attended a graduation before, not even his own. She could understand his enthusiasm, even if it was starting to give her a headache. At least both of them promised not to break out the cigars until after the ceremony was over. Thanks to them, the graduation party for both John and Emma, who had her 8th grade graduation ceremony the night before, was going to be epic. Jimmy called in a few favors to reserve the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, and one of the best catering companies in southern California was a client of Casey's. Ordinarily Sarah would have protested such extravagance, but then Sarah didn't have to worry about cleaning anything up.
As the band played Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance and the graduates started to make their way up to the stage, Sarah put one arm around her husband, Chuck, who was recording the whole ceremony. She put her other arm around Emma, hugging her tightly and giving her a kiss. Four months from now, the family would travel with John to London to see him begin his college career at Cambridge. In a life that started with so few happy moments, this was the type of day that infinitely made up for it.
May 27, 2033
2:45 AM CEST
Amorette Cotuand ran her hands over the shoulders of Gaston Bonami. She knew it bothered him whenever he worked at his old computer, but she couldn't help herself. Besides, he had a lot of experience at knowing what else those hands could do, so it was rare when he protested.
They had been together for almost a year, and tonight was a big night. This would be the answer to all of their financial problems. Best of all, given how the French government taxed the living hell out of the citizenry with so little in return, Amorette felt like a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to...well, they were poor. Surely that should count.
"Almost there," Gaston said as he programmed his home computer to break into the central bank of France and make a little 'withdrawal'.
"C'est manifique," Amorette replied as she held his face in her hands and gave him a kiss that held a lot of promise for later. "Go get the champagne. We must celebrate!"
Gaston gave her a smile and bounded for the kitchen to pull the bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator Amorette bought earlier that day. At the computer, Amorette typed in a few numbers.
"What do you think, my darling?" Gaston said as he played some smooth American jazz on his iComm and danced towards Amorette.
She played demurely with her long, blonde hair. "I think…we should head to Rome. Then Istanbul, New Delhi, Tokyo. Then we spend a few weeks in Hollywood soaking up the sun and hanging out with the movie stars."
Gaston grinned as he placed the bottle and the two glasses next to his computer. Amorette stood as Gaston sat down. "Are you ready?"
Amorette raised an eyebrow, and then she straddled Gaston on the chair. She spun them so his hand was by the keyboard. "Trois, due, un..."
Gaston hit the [ENTER] key on the keyboard. The computer began the transfer.
"We're going to be rich!" she exclaimed as she gave him a kiss. It all seemed so simple. Gaston always talked about sticking it to 'the man', to use the American colloquialism; she simply convinced him to go through with it.
"And it's all thanks to you," Gaston replied. "I wouldn't have had the courage to try this without you."
Gaston grabbed the bottle of champagne and popped the cork. Amorette grabbed the bottle and gave Gaston a seductive look. She opened her blouse and poured some of the champagne over her chest, which Gaston lapped at like a dog that was getting his first bowl of water in days. She held the bottle above his head, and he tipped his head back as she poured some of the champagne into his mouth. Gaston's smile lit up the darkened room as Amorette put the bottle down on the table.
Gaston suddenly grabbed his throat as his breathing became restricted. He looked at Amorette in wide-eyed terror, but she calmly stood and watched as he tried to reach for her. His eyes glazed over as his breathing stopped entirely. His arm dropped limply to his side as his heart stopped beating.
Amorette checked the computer to verify the money was being transferred to the account she typed in. She took the bottle of champagne to the toilet and dumped it, flushing the toilet immediately. She looked in the mirror and took her blonde wig off, revealing the auburn hair cut in a pageboy style underneath. She placed it in her bag and went into their bedroom to retrieve the rest of her clothes. She walked back to the computer to verify the transfer was complete. She took one last look at Gaston. He was a decent-enough person and certainly he was fun in the bedroom, but he had to be eliminated. Fortunately, the poison she put in the champagne would be mistaken as a barbiturate from the medical prescription Gaston had. The police would simply think Gaston made the mistake of combining his pills with alcohol, not the first time someone had done that.
She took one last look around the flat and headed out the door. She didn't have to worry about fingerprints, since Natasha Herbert didn't technically exist and hadn't existed since joining MI-5 four years ago. One of the advantages of being an agent, even a rogue agent, was knowing how to make a clean getaway.
Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA
June 4, 2033
2:30 PM PDT
John took a look around in stunned shock. He didn't know anybody in his graduating class who had a graduation party like this. And he knew this because a lot of his classmates came up to him at the party and told him exactly that.
He had kept his mouth shut about the graduation party Emma and he were supposed to have. But Emma invited a few of her friends to it. There wasn't anything wrong with that, as John had done the same thing. However, Emma's friends took that as permission to tell every last person in their class, and eventually the rumor spread to his classmates about the huge party at the Four Seasons. Thankfully, Uncles Casey and Jimmy took it in stride and simply told the hotel and the caterers to double the number of people expected. As a result, there were over 200 people at an event originally meant for around 75.
And if John wasn't tired enough at seeing some of his classmates stare lasciviously at his mother, Emma's classmates were even less subtle about it.
"How are you holding up?"
John turned around to see Uncle Morgan and Aunt Alex behind him. "You don't look like someone who just graduated high school. You should be bouncing off the walls."
John smiled. "It's just hard to believe. It still hasn't sunk in I'll be heading to Cambridge. It's crazy."
"As opposed to rescuing your parents and taking down one of the worst criminals in U.S. history? Which is, like, totally plausible, right?" Morgan replied with a grin.
John laughed. "OK, good point, Uncle Morgan."
"How did Emma take it when your parents told her everything?" Alex asked him.
"She was…shocked. But she took it a lot better than me. I have to give her credit for that. But how did she not figure out something was wrong in Cancun with all of that extra security around?"
"She never saw 90% of the security people. They were hidden throughout the house, some posing as resort staff or groundskeepers. Then there were two couples who pretended to be old friends of mine from school who "happened" to be in Cancun at the same time. There was always someone within ten feet of us the entire week."
"Wow, that's impressive. Thanks so much for taking care of her."
"Hey, it's totally cool. I mean, your old man bailed me out in high school so much, it's…I can't even count how many times he did it. Plus, of course, giving the Buy More all of the games his company produces for next to nothing. Between that and the iComm, the stores did pretty well."
John nodded in consent. It was still a shock to him his father was actually the one to invent one of the most popular electronic devices in the world. But then, given what he now knew about his parents and all of their friends, perhaps he needed to learn not to be surprised anymore. Even Morgan was a successful businessperson, something Uncle Casey still couldn't believe to this day.
"So you finish high school, and Emma starts next August?" Alex said. "Your parents must be going out of their minds."
"Like you wouldn't believe. They discovered the hard way Emma is more of a troublemaker than I was."
"And I still stand by what I say about Morgan dropping by the house one day when your old man wasn't around," Casey grumbled as he came up behind John. "Must have caught your mother wrestling over lady feelings."
John rolled his eyes. "Really, Uncle Case? Still won't let that go?"
"Can you explain her being short and not a genius?"
"I'm doing fine in school, Uncle Casey," Emma said with considerable annoyance behind Casey.
Casey turned to her and gave a little smile. "I know, squirt. Just busting your uncle's balls a bit. You earned this party, too. It's tough to live up to an older sibling. Just ask your old man. Ellie's a total brain."
"Trapped in the body of a game show hostess," Morgan quietly mused to himself, which earned him a glare from Alex. "Old movie quote, sweetie. I promise."
"Yeah, right," Alex spat.
"Nah, it's true, Alex," Casey replied before turning to John and Emma. "One of those old movies your dad talked your mom into seeing when they started dating. Caught her watching it back when we worked in Castle. Weird seeing her tear up at it, given how many scumbags she's taken out in her career. Beats the crap movies the kids go to about good-looking vampires or zombies or aliens or whatever the hell turns the girls on these days."
"You really know how to keep up with 'us kids', Uncle Case," Emma said with a small amount of snark.
"Gee, I think I forgot to bring someone's graduation present with me," Casey playfully retorted.
Emma grinned. "I'm just kidding, Big Guy." Casey didn't mind being called that by Emma, given he was more than a foot taller than her. Nor did he mind whenever she wrapped her arms around him, like right now.
Emma looked up at him with a smile. "Russian hug, right?" Casey nodded. "Thank you for the party, too. This is awesome."
"Ah, no big deal. Client was happy to do it after we caught that dirtbag who embezzled those funds out of his company. Thank your other uncle for getting the ballroom. Most politicians don't have the connections he does."
"Where is Uncle Jimmy?" John asked.
Casey motioned to the other end of the room, where Jimmy and his wife, Alex, were talking with his parents, and Ellie and Devon. "He just got back from getting his wife at LAX."
"Excuse me," John said as several of Emma's friends pulled her away to gossip, leaving Casey to talk with his daughter and son-in-law, which was a word nobody was allowed to use around him. John crossed the room to find the group of six chatting amiably, which surprised him, as his mother was still a little annoyed at Jimmy for going overboard on the party.
"Hey everybody," John said.
"Hi, John! And congratulations!" Ellie exclaimed as she gave her nephew a hug.
"Thanks, Aunt Ellie. Oh, sorry. Thanks, Nobel Prize Winner Aunt Ellie," John replied with a smile.
"Stop that," Ellie retorted with an even bigger smile. "You don't have to keep greeting us that way. Or should I start reminding you how many of your diapers I had to change babysitting you?"
"OK, OK." While finding out his parents and their friends used to be secret agents was a major shock to the system, John was always proud of Aunt Ellie and Uncle Devon winning the Nobel Prize in medicine four years ago. After almost two decades working at the Schulman Medical Center in Chicago, they had combined to improve on the Jarvik-7 artificial heart, using the body's own nervous system to keep the battery charged and reduce rejection by the host body. The Jarvik-Schulman artificial heart was successfully implanted in a retired Tucson police officer, who still played 18 holes of golf every single day. Ellie and Devon spent most of their time on the lecture circuit now as more candidates were tested for the transplant procedure.
"How does it feel to graduate?" Devon asked him.
"Awesome," John replied in a none-too-shabby imitation of his uncle, which generated a laugh from everybody. "But I don't know. Compared to all of you, graduating high school doesn't seem like much in the grand scheme of things. I feel like a dummy standing in this group."
"Now you know what my life is like," Jimmy quipped, which earned him an instant smack upside the head from Sarah, Ellie, and Alex. "Hey, no ganging up on me."
"So, did you talk to them?" John asked Alex eagerly.
Alex expression was downcast. "I'm sorry, John." John was crestfallen before her expression reversed into a grin. "We could only get sixth row in the auditorium."
"I can go?"
"We were able to get you a ticket. You'll be there to see Sam graduate."
"Oh, I can't believe it!" John was ecstatic as he gave Alex a hug. "Thank you so much for doing this."
"You deserve it," Alex replied as she returned John's embrace. It was far easier to get an audience with the king of England than it was to see the promotion ceremony for new candidates who passed the rigorous training programs of British Intelligence. But Samantha Collins, whom John was still surprised to be the daughter of Carina Miller, would be graduating early thanks to her work in bringing down Daniel Shaw. Of course, setting every record for a female agent in agency training certainly didn't hurt her, either. Short of completely blowing off her final classes, Samantha stood to graduate as the youngest field agent in MI-5 in almost sixty years. John hadn't seen her since March, although they talked on the phone whenever they could. But this was something he had been hoping to do. He couldn't wait to see her again.
"Whoah, hang on," Jimmy said with a raised eyebrow. "Did you run it by the parental units yet?"
John's eyes widened. "Please tell me I can attend," he pleaded with Chuck and Sarah.
Chuck stared in that way parents always did when their kids wanted something. "Mmm, I don't know. You got that 'B' in differential calculus this semester.
"Oh knock it off, Chuck," Sarah said with a laugh, giving her husband a playful smack on his arm. "Of course you can go, John."
"Thanks, Mom," John replied with an ear-to-ear grin.
Sarah gave him a hug. "Alex is right, you deserve it."
Chuck also gave John a hug. "Absolutely. And I want you to remember one thing, John. One very important thing."
John gave his father a weird look. "Exactly how do you mean?"
"Dude, seriously?" Jimmy shot Chuck with a disbelieving glance. "That movie is older than me."
Chuck shrugged. "Still a classic."
"Yeah, so was a pet rock," Jimmy replied caustically.
"Annnnd…that's my cue to get another drink," Alex said, prompting Sarah, Ellie, and Devon to join her at the bar.
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Cheltenham, United Kingdom
June 1, 2033
10:50 PM GMT
Tyler Cook was on his last hour in front of the computer. It had been the usual long, boring day. Keeping an eye on computer activity throughout greater London was not the sort of job one signed up for unless they really liked computers. Certainly the pay wasn't that great, and with the world a fairly quiet place these days, there wasn't much to break up the monotony.
"Heading home soon?" Grace Donloe, his supervisor, asked as she looked over his terminal.
Tyler gave a little stretch. "Soon. Just waiting for these last data packets to come in from the West End IPs."
"Well, don't stay too late. Hand it off to Charlie shift if you must. Good night."
"Good night," Tyler replied. He shook his head. His boss was a decent enough person, but she had a mere fraction of his intelligence on her best day. Yet another one of the downsides of this job.
Tyler waited until the door closed and locked behind him. The next shift wouldn't be there for five minutes, which was far more time than he needed. He opened his briefcase and took out the wireless router he was given. He took out the iComm they provided him and he studied the schematic. He had to install it in just the right place so GCHQ would never find it or detect its signal. He walked back to the large server in the room and opened the door. He pulled two of the drives out he knew were down for the evening, since computer activity in London slowed to a minimum during the nighttime. He attached the router to the server and replaced the drives. Short of taking the entire server apart, the pen-sized router he just installed would never be found, and the signal it transmitted would never be traced.
He went back to his computer and logged out for the evening. He exited the office and went downstairs to check out with security. They let him pass after a cursory look at his I.D.; the security guards knew exactly who he was. Tyler exited the building and went to his car. He pulled out the iComm again and punched in a number.
"All set, Mr. Lightman," Tyler said.
"Well done," Mr. Lightman replied. "You'll receive your next assignment soon."
Mr. Lightman disconnected from Tyler. Over the past few weeks, he added quite a bit to his empire. He had weapons, he had money, and now he had a way to access the computer systems of British Intelligence. He was off to a good start, but to bring Daemon to life, human intelligence was the most important aspect. He had a few capable intelligence pieces and plenty of manpower to handle the brute force assignments, but he would need a lot more than that. It was time to recruit.