Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck or anything else in this story.

Chuck vs The Inevitability of Life Chapter 36

August 29, 2008

0245 hours local

Target Location

Yemen

Chuck was glad he could garner up enough resolve to control his emotions right now. Ever since he was little, he always had problems holding in his feelings. He just wasn't built that way. It was like asking water to run uphill or the earth to spin in the opposite direction, but on the rare occasion that he did, he would turn into someone he didn't recognize. So he learned long ago that he had to at least release some of those emotions, much like a relief valve on a pressure tank.

This was one of those times.

This mission had been one big bag of lies and deceit from the start. This couldn't be real. Americans don't kill or threaten to kill other helpless Americans, at least not in the world he grew up in. This had to wrong.

Chuck pulled the watch up to his mouth as he stormed toward the door. "We're coming out. Take your positions."

Zondra noticed the change in his demeanor immediately. "Carmichael, you ok?"

If it wasn't for the hostages in the room, he wanted to respond to that question in the worst way. "Sure, I'm fine. I work with people who plant bombs around helpless American citizens every day."

Instead, he ignored her question and kept walking, so angry that he couldn't focus on the next task. Just as he reached the exit door he spun and looked her dead in the eye.

"Were you really going to blow this place up … with the hostages in it?" he fumed under the guise of a whisper.

Zondra could feel the hostility emanating from him. Even in the dimly lit room she saw the dilatation of his pupils and how he kept readjusting the grip on his hand gun. It was raw anger and for the first time in a long time, she wasn't sure if she was extremely turned on or feared for her life. Another look at his face told her it was the latter.

"Orders," she muttered as she hung her head.

"Who's orders? Beckman's?"

She lifted her head and stared at him, unwilling to divulge the name. "What kind of spy is this guy? He surely knows what orders are."

"You know what, never mind," he scowled. "It'd probably be a lie anyway," he finished and yanked the door open.

Chuck made his way to the next building and began climbing up the ladder to the roof. That's when he remembered the words of one of his training instructors at the farm.

"There is no such thing as an unlawful order." He almost lost his footing as the words echoed in his mind.

Sarah was already in place when he reached the top of the roof, so he motioned for her to join them as he sat the bag down next to a pop up vent door and began pulling out flash bang and smoke grenades.

Zondra wordlessly gathered what she needed from the duffel and took her position next to one of the vents on the east side of the building.

Her job was to make sure no one escaped from that side of the building and to keep a look out for any incoming forces, friendly or not, while he and Sarah helped Casey take out those that tried to escape.

There was a reason for leaving one door accessible for egress in the building and that was hope. If the enemy thought they had a chance to escape out that door, then maybe they wouldn't try and blow out the sides of the building to escape. Besides, the four of them only had to contain them for ten minutes or so. He figured that's about how long they had before the Yeminis military became aware of the firefight and came to investigate. Army Special Forces would be on the ground by then to deal with that threat.

Sarah grabbed one of the grenades from his hand and noticed it was shaking. She scooted closer and placed her hand on his forearm.

"Hey," she whispered, "Are you ok?"

He paused and took a breath. He felt stupid for the emotions he was feeling and he didn't want Sarah to worry about that. Some professional he was.

"M'fine," he mumbled before planting a quick kiss on her forehead then continued with his task.

Sarah knew he was anything but fine, but that discussion would have to wait she decided, then stood up and took her place.

"Casey, are you in position?" Chuck asked.

"Roger that. Let's do this," he smiled as he placed the cross hairs of the XM-25 on the only door in the building that could still open.

"Standby."

Just before slipping on their night vision goggles, Chuck turned to his two partners and nodded. Due to the size of the building, they knew that the smoke and flash bang grenades wouldn't be very ineffective, but he wanted to create as much confusion as possible until help arrived, which by his calculations should be in less than ten minutes.

On his mark, they began dropping smoke grenades through the vent windows and it wasn't long before they heard coughing and choking followed by gunfire aimed up at them. The flash bangs followed shortly thereafter and the shooting stopped.

Before he and Sarah could reach the west wall and provide support, Sarah heard the sound of the man door slam against the side of the building followed shortly thereafter by the first small explosions from the XM-25.

Casey wasn't wasting anytime trying out the new weapon.

Just before Chuck and Sarah could begin firing, a group of four men had managed to slip through the door and took off for a nearby tree line. Deciding to let his partner's guard the doorway for a moment, Casey took aim at the group's center, leading them slightly and fired. The laser in the on board gun sight fed the 25 mm projectile the necessary information and Casey watched with delight as all four fell when the bullet exploded just inches in front of them. He grinned with delight.

Using their M4A1 assault rifles, Chuck and Sarah were firing down at the door way literally creating a curtain of bullets, keeping the others inside when they heard the familiar sound of inbound helicopters. Chuck pulled out his flare gun and fired off two green shells, the signal telling them it was safe to come in. Unfortunately, it would also signal the Yemenis military.

Zondra was actually bored on her side. Sure there were attempts to open the two doors, but that's all they were. Most of the sounds were from bodies or objects slamming up against the man door trying to force it open. Gun fire followed closely thereafter as the actions of the trapped insurgents became desperate. When the shooting on her side stopped and the first helicopters began to land, Zondra stood up, ready to leave her post, when an explosion below her almost toppled her over the edge.

She looked down through the dust and saw three men trying to make a run for it. She fired her weapon, but only got two of the three.

"We've got a runner. I'm going after him," Zondra said as she ran toward the ladder.

"I'm going with her," said Sarah.

"You sure? I can do it."

"No. I got this one."

"Be careful, Sarah. If you're not back in time …"

"I know," she cut in, "We'll meet you at the boat."

With a quick kiss, she was gone.

August 29, 2008

0315 hours local

Target Location

Yemen

Army Special Forces took up the fire fight as soon their boots hit the ground and in a matter of minutes they breached the building. Chuck gave a final sigh of relief, especially since he expected these guys to put up a better fight than this.

He pulled up his night vision binoculars and looked off to the east. The headlights of a convoy of vehicles were headed their way. They were about to have company.

"Sarah, Zondra. We've got a large group of incoming hostiles coming in from the east."

The two women both acknowledged the transmission.

He decided to climb down off the building and take a look inside the warehouse. Not wanting to be shot by friendly fire, he laid his pistol and assault rifle down and began to climb down the ladder.

"Freeze, U.S. Army Rangers. Identify yourself."

Knowing these young men were full of adrenaline and just itching to pull the trigger if they had to, Chuck did as they ordered and stood still."

"CIA. Take me to the officer in charge."

With his hands behind his head and the barrels of two rifles stuck in his back, Chuck was marched over to a group of men, one of which he assumed was the commander.

"Who do you have here, sergeant?"

"He was coming down from the roof, sir. Says he's CIA."

The commander gave him an appraising look. "Major John Gillespie, U.S. Army Rangers, first battalion, 75th Regiment. What's the code word?"

"Charles Carmichael, CIA. Code word is raven's nest."

"Can you give me sitrep, CIA?"

"I can, but you need to know you're going to have company in about ten minutes. Most likely Yemenis military."

"Thanks, we've got it covered," the commander replied as two AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships passed over them heading toward the incoming threat.

"We'll try to talk them down, but if they persist, I've got orders to take them out."

Chuck nodded his head knowingly and motioned to the Major he needed a minute.

"Sarah, Zondra. You've got two Apache gunships headed your direction."

He received their confirmation and began rattling off the sitrep.

"Two hundred yards out you should find eight hostiles, seven alive and secured, one dead. "There's two guards in the next building, tranq'd and secured. I need them all brought in for questioning. Also, we found both building's wired with C-4."

Gillespie turned to his left. "Lieutenant Cotton, take six men and gather up and secure the prisoners."

"Roger that, sir," the Lieutenant replied before he scurried off.

"There should be four dead out in that tree line over there that my team mate took out and we had three escape on the other side when they blew a hole through the door. My other team mate got two, but one escaped. Two of my team are hunting him down now. The rest of the hostiles should be in there."

"How about the hostages?"

"Talked briefly to one of them, but that's all I know. I think they're in pretty bad shape, Major."

"You need to search the building for anything?"

"Yeah, I do. Is the building clear yet?"

"Let me check on that. Your team did a good job, Carmichael. Looks like you caught them flat footed. You need a lift back to the ship?"

"Let me know when you're ready to pull out. I'm waiting for my two team mates to return. If they're not back, I've got a boat stashed on the shoreline and I can contact the ship for pickup."

"Roger that," the Major replied and stuck out his hand and smiled. "Thanks for the assist, CIA."

"Bull shit," Chuck grinned as he shook his hand. "Thank you for the assist."

Gillespie shook his head and laughed, then turned and walked away.

~o~O~o~

Chuck found Casey talking, primarily with his hands, to one of the sergeants and a couple of his men.

"How'd the gun work, Casey?"

The big man pulled the cigar out of his mouth and smiled. "Sweet. I need one for my collection."

Chuck rolled his eyes. "One of the insurgents escaped. Sarah and Zondra went after him. You want to help me go through the warehouse? Not sure what we'll find, but we need to make a sweep."

~o~O~o~

The commander of the Yeminis unit was in the lead vehicle hollering at his driver to step on it. He'd been paid handsomely to provide protection to the people that were in the warehouses and they were under attack.

One of his men in the back seat leaned forward and told him that they had picked up two aircraft approaching their position. The commander turned and ordered that the aircraft be shot down.

The early missile warning systems on both Apaches went off and the pilots pulled the aircraft up hard and over, away from each other. The onboard computer activated the chaff dispensers and fired the system, lighting up the early morning sky with a dispersion of bright flickering lights. The missiles headed for that heat source and exploded within the colorful grouping.

The pilots brought their twin engine attack helicopters back around and activated the onboard weapons targeting acquisition and night vision systems. Taking aim at the lead vehicles, the pilots fired their AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and watched as the first three vehicles turned into balls of flames, halting the progress of the group.

The pilots activated the nose mounted machine gun system and swept over the rest of the convoy, watching as the 30mm bullets chewed up the remaining vehicles. They made one final pass and turned to head back, leaving behind them a line burning metal and dead bodies.

~o~O~o~

Sarah cursed Zondra for the seventh time in the last hour. She just had to run off after the Ring agent that had escaped and because she had promised Chuck she'd try and play nice with her old partner, she took off after her.

Her intentions were good up until they had subdued their quarry with one of Sarah's knives, but the two decided that getting back to the boat wasn't their first priority.

As the two ex-partners stood and faced each other, all the pent up feelings and emotions the two had for each other came to the surface and the fight was on without a word. Of course that's when Chuck and Casey caught up, essentially ending the feud. Now they were walking toward the shoreline to find their boat.

The four spies trudged onward and in a matter of an hour or so, the four could hear the waves from the Gulf of Aden crashing on the shoreline. As they crept closer they could also hear voices. They stopped in their tracks and Chuck crept forward intent on taking a closer look before Sarah put her hand out to stop him.

"Let Zondra and I take care of them. You and Casey go get the boat ready. It'll probably take both of you to carry it into the water." Chuck looked at her and then at Zondra. "You sure that's a good idea?"

She wasn't surprised by the question. She herself wondered about it for a second, but she knew Zondra wanted to get out of this godforsaken country just as bad as she did and right now they needed each other.

Chuck reluctantly nodded and gave his girlfriend a quick kiss and watched them slip off into the night.

"Come on lover boy," Casey said as he slapped his hand on Chuck's back. "I'm tired of eating sand, so let's find this boat and get the hell out of here."

Chuck winced at the surprise contact, but agreed with his partner's sentiment toward the whole mission. He wanted nothing more than to get home and spend some quality time with his beautiful girlfriend.

~o~O~o~

"How many you count, Walker?"

"Four. Looks like they're Yemenis military," said Sarah as she pulled the night vision binoculars away from her face. "Piece of cake for you and me."

Shocked at the statement that was close to approaching a compliment, Zondra turned to her old partner, fighting a smile as she remembered the times when they both had taken on more than four men.

"So, you and Carmichael, huh? You guys serious?" Zondra asked. She'd never seen her ex-partner so taken with a man before.

"That's none of your business," Sarah growled, putting the binoculars back to up to her eyes.

Zondra shook her head and smirked. "So, you wouldn't mind if I made a play for him then?"

Sarah whipped out her knife and placed the tip of it firmly against the other woman's throat. "I'm only going to say this once, so listen up," she hissed. "You stay away from Chuck. You hear me?" she finished, her voice seething with anger.

Zondra squeaked out a positive response and breathed a much needed sigh of relief when the blade was removed from her throat. Even though she and her ex-partner never had gotten along since what they both dubbed "the incident", Sarah had never threatened her with a weapon before. She must be in love, the brunette surmised.

"I guess you guys are serious," Zondra replied clutching her throat, taking comfort in the fact that it was still intact. "He seems like a nice guy. Now let's use that rage of yours to take care of these four."

Sarah looked at her suspiciously a moment, surprised by her response, but before she could ask, Zondra was already moving toward their targets.

~o~O~o~

"I hope there's something here to inflate this damn boat," Casey growled after watching Chuck uncover their method of escape.

Chuck smiled when he caught a glimpse of the collapsed Zodiac F470 inflatable and the 50 horsepower Evinrude outboard attached to it. It was a favorite of all special force services. "Casey, it's not just a boat, it's a Combat Rubber Raiding/Reconnaissance Craft. Say that real fast when you're drunk."

Casey rolled his eyes. "I don't care what it's called. I just want it inflated so we can use it."

Chuck's laugh caught the big man by surprise. "Just how long has it been since you used one of these?"

Casey's growl told him he didn't appreciate the old guy crack.

"Well there's a couple ways to do that, but the quickest is to use the onboard CO2 system, which should be right here," Chuck smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at the big man when he found what he was looking for.

It only took two minutes for the internal compressed air system to inflate the craft, but it took almost twenty minutes for the two men to drag and carry it and the fifty horsepower outboard down to the shoreline, through the loose sand no less. During those twenty minutes, Chuck was beginning to worry about Sarah. He glanced at his watch and then down the deserted beach for any signs of the two women.

"Casey, here's the radio. I'm going to look for Sarah and Zondra. If we don't come back …"

"I'm not leaving until we're all here, now go," he scoffed.

~o~O~o~

"Damn it Walker! Just let me help you," said a very irritated Zondra.

Sarah gritted her teeth as she took another step. She was still pissed off at herself for not seeing the other two men that had literally come from nowhere and to add to that she had sprained her ankle taking down one of their surprise guests. Now she was just slowing them down.

"I'll be … grrh … fine," Sarah replied stubbornly. "Why don't you go on ahead?"

Zondra was very aware that Sarah had saved her life back there and now she had a sprained ankle to show for it. So she decided to risk the wrath of her former partner and took Sarah's arm and put it around her shoulder. It was a risky move, but she didn't want to owe her anything.

"Just shut up, Walker and live with it. I'm not leaving you behind. I don't know how in the hell you're boyfriend puts up with you anyway."

"Maybe because I've never betrayed him," Sarah grumbled in pain.

Zondra ignored the dig and kept pressing forward down the beach.

"Have you seen Carina lately?" she asked wanting to change the subject to something or someone they both shared in common.

"Earlier this year," Sarah groaned again.

"How was she? I haven't seen her in a couple of years," Zondra replied somewhat melancholy.

"She was really acting weird. She pulled one of her stunts and Chuck and I almost broke up over it," Sarah hissed with pain both from her ankle and at the bad memory. "Did you know she was raped last year?"

Zondra stopped at the news, but then started walking again. "Do you know what happened?"

"I don't know all the details, but she was captured in Russia and … well … you know how it is for us," Sarah replied in almost a whisper.

All female spies knew what to expect if they were captured. "Where's she at now? Not on a mission I hope?"

Sarah stopped when she saw the figure of a man approaching them and just barely was able to answer the question before pulling her weapon and dragging Zondra off to the side, sprained ankle be damned. "She's in a hospital in DC. Now be quiet, someone's coming."

Zondra hadn't seen anyone, but then again she couldn't keep her head up with the weight of Sarah's arm wrapped around her neck. "How many?" she whispered.

Sarah held up one finger and Zondra smirked. "I'll take care of him," she replied, but before she could pounce she recognized the familiar figure.

They breathed a sigh of relief and stood up when they saw it was only Chuck, who recognized them in an instant.

"Sarah?" Chuck replied as he ran up and hugged her. "Are you ok? Are you hurt?"

She shook her head and replied. "Twisted my ankle. That's why we haven't made it back yet," she replied as she pulled away from him. "Zondra wouldn't leave me to go get help."

Chuck turned and gave the woman a smile. "Thanks for taking care of her."

Zondra just shrugged her shoulders in response.

"Well I hate to break up this little reunion, but we need to get going," the brunette noted. "We're not exactly in friendly territory."

"Oh … yeah … sure," Chuck stammered for a moment. "Come on Sarah, I'll carry you," he said as he reached and prepared to put her in a fireman's carry.

"What? Seriously, you're not throwing me over your shoulder like some prized wench," Sarah huffed.

Chuck put his hands on his hips and smiled. "But you're such a pretty wench."

"You're not helping you yourself, you know."

Chuck threw his hands up in defeat. He knew how head strong his girlfriend could be when she wanted to. "What do you propose then?"

"Piggy back."

Chuck arched an eyebrow. "What?"

"You heard me, piggy back. Now turn around," Sarah demanded.

"Seriously?"

Sarah's glare convinced him to do as she said.

"Alright," he replied in defeat and turned around and squatted.

Sarah hopped on and put her arms around his neck. Chuck let out a huff as he grabbed both of her legs, stood up straight and began walking.

"You know, a guy's never supposed to say this, but it feels like you've gained a few pounds."

"It's the extra ammo and the grenades."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" he replied in mock hurt as he heard her giggle.

"Oh, I most certainly am," she whispered into his ear then turned her head and nibbled on his ear lobe.

"Momma loves riding her stallion."

Chuck nearly stumbled at the visions that immediately entered his mind. His heart began to race faster, the sound of blood whooshing through his ears. "Yeah?" he managed to squeak out, his voice sounding like he had a case of laryngitis.

"Uh huh," she replied in a naughty voice, her lips brushing up against his ear. "Now giddy up or momma's gonna have to use her spurs."

Chuck managed an "oh boy" before picking up the pace while listening to Sarah laugh in his ear.

~o~O~o~

"Can't you two give it a rest just one night?"

"If you're jealous Casey, I'm sure Zondra would like a piggy back ride," Sarah laughed.

Casey gave her an "I can't believe you said that look" and threw their gear in the boat.

Zondra sidled up next the gruff man. "Are they always like this?"

Casey paused as he grabbed the last of their guns and groaned. "At least their clothes are on this time."

Zondra's eyes went wide at that bit of information. She no longer recognized her former teammate.

"Relax Casey, Sarah sprained her ankle and I just carried her here. Now let me have the radio," Chuck replied as he slipped on the radio's headset.

Casey clearly wasn't buying it as firmly placed the radio in Chuck's hand.

"Sand Dollar, this is Starfish, over."

"Sand Dollar, this is Starfish, over."

"Roger Starfish, read you loud and clear."

"10-4, Sand Dollar. Requesting immediate water extraction. I say again, requesting immediate water extraction. Do you read, over?"

"Roger, requesting immediate water extraction. What will you be in. over?"

"Zodiac CRRC, four souls, over."

"Roger, Starfish. Zodiac CRRC, four souls aboard. Send us your current coordinates, Starfish, over?"

Chuck punched a few buttons on the GPS devise and sent the coordinates to the Essex.

"You should have the coordinates now, Sand Dollar, over."

"Roger Starfish, we have your location. Coordinates for your extraction point have been sent to your unit and you should have them now. Please confirm."

Chuck checked the GPS and when the coordinates popped up on the screen, he confirmed he had received them. "Roger, Sand Dollar. Coordinates received and verified."

"Roger, Starfish. Pickup time will be at 0600 hours. I repeat, 0600 hours."

"Roger, Sand Dollar. 0600 hours. Starfish out."

Chuck placed the radio back in the water proof container and looked out into the black night that covered the sea. "Extraction point is approximately one mile out at sea," he replied as he set the time on his watch. "Approximately one hour from now. We can wait here for awhile or we can go ahead and leave and wait out there."

~o~O~o~

The four were glad they had decided to leave the shoreline and venture out into the water. It was barely twenty minutes after they'd left, when the headlights of what was most likely Yeminis military vehicles appeared, approaching their previous position on the beach. He could see their spotlights franticly scanning the shoreline and beyond. Surely they were beyond upset, especially when they had discovered the six dead bodies of their comrades, compliments of two former members of the C.A.T. squad. He knew it wouldn't take them long to figure out what happened, especially when he saw the spotlights beginning to search the sea. They were too far out for the lights to reach them, unfortunately that didn't hold true for the Yeminis Navy who had found them as they were approaching the extraction point.

The sound of bullets hitting the water got their attention rather quickly.

Casey turned and saw two boats approaching quickly from the rear and after notifying the others of the threat, quickly picked up his automatic rifle and began targeting one of the boats. Zondra and Sarah quickly followed.

Chuck opened up the throttle to max on the outboard and the rubber craft began to skip over the waves toward their extraction point, which was still over five minutes away.

It may as well have been an eternity as he turned to see the boats rapidly gaining on them. It would be just a matter of time before they were hit.

With her bad ankle and the bouncing of the rubber craft, Sarah was struggling to maintain her shooting position. Chuck saw the pain on her face whenever they hit another wave and he decided to offer to switch places with her.

"Sarah," he yelled. She gave him a very annoyed look that made him almost regret his question. Even in pain, she didn't want her gun play to be interrupted.

"Let's switch. You drive and let me shoot. You're in too much pain. Come on," he pleaded.

Sarah shook her head, ignoring his plea and let off a couple more bursts all the while grimacing in pain. He was about to plead once more when he saw three helicopters barreling towards their position. As they got closer, he let out breath as he recognized the familiar outlines of the two AH-1 Super Cobras and a MH-47G Chinook.

The Chinook slowed to a hover, but the Cobras continued on toward them. Almost simultaneously, there was a burst of light from the missile launchers of the two gunships. Chuck was able to turn his head just in time to see the two boats chasing them explode into flames. Sarah, Casey and Zondra, who hadn't seen the gunships approach, sat up, surprised at the destruction they saw.

With the threat eliminated, the pilot of the Chinook positioned the rear of the giant helicopter facing the Yemen shoreline and slowly began his decent toward the water, listening to the co-pilot call out the closing distance.

"100 feet, 75, 50, 30, 20, 15, 10, 5 … contact, sir."

As the aircraft settled down in the water, the crew immediately felt it begin to rock back and forth in the two foot seas. The pilot tweaked the collective to adjust the pitch of the forward rotor blades, increasing the lift on the front of the helicopter ever so slightly. It was just enough to prevent it from drifting, forcing it to maintain a steady position. Once settled, the aft ramp was lowered into the water and with the front of the helicopter slightly higher than the rear and a small section of the rear cargo area was quickly flooded and disappeared in the water. Now they just had to wait for their passengers.

~o~O~o~

Even though the bullets weren't flying anymore, Chuck kept the throttle wide open and pointed the Zodiac at the rear opening of the helicopter. This wasn't the first time he threaded one of the 75 inch wide boats into the 90 inch wide opening of a Chinook. The trick was to do it fast enough so that the rotor wash from the rear blades wouldn't blow the Zodiac too far off course, but slow enough so the forward momentum wouldn't throw everyone out of the boat when it abruptly stopped inside. As the boat got closer to its inevitable destination, Chuck let off the throttle and motioned for everyone to hang on and get down.

He made a slight course correction and held the steering in place, his eyes focused on the front center of the boat and the opening in the Chinook. In a matter of seconds, the boat shot into the cargo compartment where the friction between its bottom surface and the anti-skid on the helicopter's cargo floor halted their forward movement. The four spies jumped out of the boat, well three did; Sarah hobbled out and the Chinook's crew pulled it forward to clear the ramp area.

The pilot slowly pulled up the collective and the twin rotor helicopter lifted off the surface of the water and headed for the USS Essex. Mission accomplished.

A/N: This chapter finishes up this arc. I don't know about you, but this arc seemed to take forever.

If you'd like to see what that last scene looks like, go to you tube and search for "navy seal water extraction." It's even better when you see it.

We're also going to get into a little of Chuck's back story and maybe see why he made some of the decisions he did. I also plan to get into Sarah's back story and pick up the plot involving Eve, Casey, and Shaw.

Not sure when the next chapter will be out, so please be patient.

Thanks again to all of you who are sticking with this story. You guys are awesome!