Napoleon Solo checked his look in the mirror and ran a comb through his hair. He wasn’t exactly delighted about going gray, but several of the women he’d dated recently thought it gave him an air of dignity. He thought it made him just look old… er.
Napoleon adjusted his tie, patted on a little aftershave lotion and checked his watch. No time for breakfast this morning, he thought. He’d have to grab something at work. He had a meeting with the ministers from China and Tibet today. If he could only get them to sit down at the same table at the same time, he would consider the day a success.
Grabbing his attaché case, he headed for the door. His car pulled up and he climbed in. Napoleon had fought long and hard to keep his driver from rushing around and opening the door for him. It had made Napoleon feel both pompous and a bit enfeebled. He could open his own car door.
UNCLE security was such that the only one who could actually open the front doors of the car was the man whose fingerprints were programmed for it. Then it took another scan to make the car engine engage. It was ingenious and fool proof.
“Morning, Harry, how are you today?” Napoleon asked as he climbed in and shut the car door behind him.
The head nodded, but didn’t answer. A little bell went off in Napoleon’s head and he lunged for his door the moment before the locks clicked down.
“Sorry, Mr. Solo, you are going to be taking a ride with me today.” The man waved at him with Harry’s dismembered hand. Napoleon didn’t know who the driver was, but he knew THRUSH when he smelled it.
“You bastard! He has a wife and kids.”
“Wrong tense, Mr. Solo. I think ‘had’ is more accurate, but he didn’t go down without a heroic fight. You should be proud of him for that.”
“Where are you taking me?” Napoleon’s hand went into his jacket and a gun muzzle was suddenly pointed in his direction.
“Don’t be stupid. My superiors would prefer you alive…”
“How do you think I survived this long? It certainly wouldn’t be from doing something life threatening. I’m just getting my pills.” He carefully took the gold case from his jacket pocket and opened it to reveal several white pills. “I have angina and if you don’t want me to suddenly have an attack…”
“Okay, but no funny stuff.” The bullet proof panel slid up between the front and the back. The THRUSH agent’s eyes never left him as Napoleon selected two pills and popped them into his mouth.
“It’s nice to have a kidnapping THRUSH show me some courtesy. My heart doctor, Dan Westin, will appreciate it. He’s keen on taking care of me.”
“You’ve said enough, I think, Mr. Solo. I’m tired of listening to you, so have a good sleep.” A toggle was depressed and a puff of white vapor filtered into the back seat.
“In an emergency, I always call Dr. Dan Westin,” Napoleon managed to get out before succumbing to the sleep gas. His last conscious thought was, At least it’s one of ours and won’t give me a headache when I wake up.
Kate Westin reached into a cage and brought out a large white rabbit. “Okay Oscar, it’s your turn on the chopping block.” The rabbit began to struggle in her embrace. “Stop squirming.”
“That would certainly make me want to volunteer.” Her husband’s voice drifted back to her and she looked in the general direction of the computer keyboard.
“Calm down, Oscar, and later I’ll put you in with Emmy and Golden.” She placed the rabbit on the flat dematerializing platform and moved away. Oscar found his bowl of rabbit food and began to eat.
Kate looked over her shoulder and watched the keys seemingly type the message into the computer themselves. The invisibility machine began to hum and throb as it came to life. A moment later a beam shot out and illuminated Oscar. The rabbit never stopped chewing as he faded from view.
“Danny, you did it!”
“We did it. As you recall, though, this wasn’t the part that gave me trouble the first time around.” A few toggles and switches were moved and readjusted. “Now let’s see if we can undo our little experiment.”
The machine’s thrum became a whine and a moment later Oscar reappeared on the platform. Still chewing away, he seemed unconcerned about what had just occurred.
“Oh… oh, my….”
“I am not using this machine on myself.” Dan’s voice was in her ear as they regarded the bright purple rabbit. “Thanks, but I’ll stay invisible.”
“Oh, I don’t know. You’d certainly be the talk of the town.” She turned her head and kissed a cheek. After this many years of invisibility, she was as good at locating him this way as she was when he was fully clothed.
The phone rang and it drifted upwards. “Westin. Okay, Walter, we’ll be right up. No, Kate is coming with me. I don’t fly solo these days.” The phone hung itself up and a shirt flew up.
“Someone is anxious to hire the KLAE Resource.” The shirt in place, pants followed.
“Danny, if you want, I can stay here… work with Oscar.”
Her husband appeared as a mask slid into place and suddenly Dan Westin was visible again. “No, thank you. I don’t do anything without my associate and partner.” He tugged on his hands and settled the wig in place. He reached out and drew her close. “We are a package deal.” He kissed her tenderly and then grinned. “Do I pass muster?”
“As soon as you put your shoes on, you will. That might scare a few people between here and there.”
As he sat to pull on his socks and loafers, Kate lifted the very purple rabbit up and carried him back to his cage. She petted him and sighed. “We will put you back to rights, Oscar, I promise.”
“If not, we could still put him in with Goldie. They might make interesting babies.“ Dan paused at his wife's expression. "What?”
"I was just wondering, what would happen if we let him breed? What if everything was fine?"
"I'm way ahead of you, Kate, and stop.” He stood and approached her. Hugging her gently, he murmured in her ear, "I'm as anxious to have a child as you are, but we don't know what damage has been done to my DNA. Until I know, I just can't take the risk. It wouldn't be fair to you or to our child."
"I know, I just…"
He kissed her temple and smiled. "I feel that we’re very close now. Just be patient for a little while longer.”
Dan led the way out of the lab and to the elevator. The doors opened and he let Kate precede him in. She pushed the button for Walter's office while he made sure everything was in order. The last thing he wanted to do was reveal the KLAE resource before its time.
Napoleon Solo walked carefully, letting his guards lead the way, much as he had for much of the last two days. He’d woken up and movement immediately told him they were on a boat of some kind. He was bound and blindfolded. The only time the bonds came off was when the ate. The blindfold remained in place. His jaw still ached from his only attempt to remove it.
The smell and sounds around him made him think of something from his distant past. He didn’t know what – it dangled in front of him like a carrot in front of a horse. It was so close and yet the moment he tried to focus upon it, everything danced away.
“Sit down.” He was pushed into a chair and landed with a grunt.
“Thanks, don’t mind if I do.”
“Napoleon, is that you?” Napoleon’s head automatically turned in the direction of the voice even though he couldn’t see.
“Duna, is that you?”
“It’s all of us, I’m afraid, old friend.” Napoleon recognized the voice of Nat Copeland, the Section One from the European headquarters. “You were the last.”
“Shut up!” A voice ordered and there was the sound of blows falling.
“Enough, we don’t have to beat them silly.”
Napoleon’s mouth dropped open. “I can’t believe it. They told me you were dead.”
Napoleon’s blindfold was removed and he blinked painfully in the light until his eyes had a chance to adjust. Angelique smiled at him. Her face looked like a caricature of her former self. As his eyes adjusted more, it was even worse. “Pretty, aren’t I? Your former partner did this to me. Then the little bastard up and died on me before I could pay him back. So, tell me, how have you been, darling?”
“I have been fine.” He looked over at the other members of the Section One elite. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, this and that and Illya Kuryakin.” She dropped a stack of photos in his lap.
“Sorry, a bit tied up at the moment,” Napoleon murmured, glancing down at the top one. It showed a grainy shot of him kneeling by a gravesite.
“So, tell me, darling, why, after years of visiting your partner’s grave nearly twice a week for twelve years, did you suddenly stop?”
“I got counseling,” Napoleon lied smoothly. “He convinced me I needed to move on and accept reality.”
She smiled at him, a viper’s sneer. “Nice try, dear, but I know you. Nothing would have kept you from that grave, unless… something happened to make you stop needing to visit the site. Like say your partner’s reemergence?”
“Illya’s dead. You bastards killed him.”
“I don’t believe you, darling,” she purred, than slapped his face. “And for your sake, I hope you are lying.” Napoleon suddenly blanched, he recognized where he was and his stomach dropped. “You know where you are, don’t you?” Angelique took a step away from him and threw her arms open. “Welcome to La Isla del Diablo.”
“Survival School…” Napoleon’s mouth grew dry.
“Not necessarily in your case. Not this time… at least…”
Dan led the way into Walter's office, as usual. "So what do you have for us, Walter?"
His head swiveled in the direction of the gasp, and for a moment, he, too, felt a bit of a shock. In front of him were two people from his past. It had been nearly 15 years since he'd seen April Dancer and Mark Slate. Time hadn’t been especially kind to either of them, but they, like Napoleon, had stayed in the fight. From the expressions on their faces, the fight had hit home today. And from their presence here, he had a good idea it involved Napoleon.
“Oh my God,” April stammered, holding onto the back of her chair. “Illya, is that you?”
“No,” he answered tersely. “Illya Kuryakin is dead. Dead and buried and I mean to keep it that way.”
“But, blimey, mate, it is you… isn’t it?”
Dan sighed and looked over at his wife. She hunched her shoulders and he shot her a ‘thanks a heap’ look. “Yes, Mark, it is me. And this is my wife, Kate. Kate, April Dancer, Mark Slate, two former co- workers.”
“So I gathered.” She offered her hand. “I’m pleased to meet you both.”
He walked to the leather sofa and sat. Kate joined him after a moment. “Why are you here?”
“Napoleon… Mr. Solo,” April corrected herself. “He was kidnapped.”
“So were all the Section Ones. THRUSH has them.” Mark looked from Kate to Walter and then back.
“Anything you can tell me, you can tell them. We are a team.” Dan took Kate’s hand and she gave his a sympathetic squeeze. “Why haven’t you effected a rescue?”
“We’ve been trying ever since the South American No. 1 was taken. We located the probable site, but all of our rescue teams were cut down before they could even attempt a rescue.” Mark shook his head and sighed. “We have tried everything we have and can’t even get inside. Hell, you’d need an invisible man to do that.”
Kate hid her smile behind her hand, coughing slightly. “Sorry, frog in my throat.” Dan patted her back and shared a knowing look with her.
“Is that why Napoleon sent you?”
“No, when Mr. Solo was taken, he managed to get one short message out. If I may?” April took a small recorder from her purse and set it on the edge of Walter’s desk. She punched the play button.
“You’ve said enough, I think, Mr. Solo. I’m tired of listening to you, so have a good sleep.”
“In an emergency, I always call Dr. Dan Westin.” Napoleon’s voice trailed off and Dan frowned.
“He was drugged, probably to keep him from knowing where he was being taken,” Mark said.
“I know that voice,” Dan said. “Play it again.” April rewound the tape and Dan listened intently. “I just can’t place it.”
“You better,” April said, reclaiming the recorder and tucking it away. “THRUSH isn’t asking for money. They only want one thing in exchange for the safe release of the Section One heads.”
“What’s that?” Kate asked.
“Illya Kuryakin’s head.”
“Well, that’s… an interesting choice,” Walter said, speaking up for the first time since the Westins had arrived. “They don’t believe you are dead.”
“Give them a skull. Tell them it’s mine. I’m sure the gentleman resting in my grave wouldn’t care.”
“That body was stolen months ago, Illya--” April started, but Dan cut her off.
“Daniel or Dan, that’s who I am now.” He stood and walked to the curtains, parting them to look outside. Thirty minutes ago, the only problems on his mind had been what to do with a purple rabbit and what he wanted for dinner that evening. “Am I ever going to be rid of UNCLE?” he asked, softly.
“As long as you value Napoleon, I guess not.” Kate stood up and walked to his side. “He’s your friend.”
“It’s bigger than that, Ill… Dan…” Mark opened a briefcase and took out a roll of papers - blueprints. “They are being held at an UNCLE facility.”
“Remember Survival School?”
“How could I… he’s being held at La Isla del Diablo?”
Walter pulled down a wall map of the world. “I’ve never heard of that.”
“That’s because it doesn’t exist, mate.” Mark walked to the map and pointed. “About there… sort of. It’s an unnamed island. We called it La Isla del Diablo because that’s basically everyone’s feelings after completing the course. The guy who ran it had to be part demon.”
“Survival School was not just about molding Section Twos into agents, it was about learning what it meant to survive. Death was not an uncommon occurrence there, although they were kept to a minimum. Cutter was certifiable.”
“You’re joking… please?” Kate asked, her eyes troubled as she took her husband’s hand.
“No joke, they used live ammo, live everything, you either passed or failed, sometimes in a very real sense of the word.”
“And you all went through this and didn’t think it was wrong?” Walter waited as the three nodded. “What is the matter with you people?”
“It was what we signed on for,” Dan said. “You didn’t get to be Section Two without passing and for some of us, it wasn’t a case of wanting to be an agent, it was more a matter of what we were… or are.” He smiled at April and Mark. “I’m assuming you still are agents, since Napoleon struck down the ‘out of the field at forty’ rule.”
“We are, although we tend to play it a bit closer to home now.” April walked to her partner’s side.
“How did THRUSH get onto the island? Surely Cutter would have stopped --”
“I’m sure he tried, but when all you have are a handful of green recruits against an experienced THRUSH assault, well, the beach was littered with skeletons. There had been no contact from the island for five months, not all that unusual, but when no call came to pick up the new class, a boat was sent. What they found wasn’t pretty. They’d just managed to make a report back when… I’d rather not go into the details.”
“That’s why you can’t get anyone into the facility. No one can approach the island without being seen, but for some reason, Napoleon thinks you can.” Mark turned sharply from the map. “Why is that, mate?”
Dan shrugged his shoulders. “Napoleon has always been an optimist. How close can you get us to the island?”
“Without trouble, about five miles… After that, they are tracking you every inch of the way.”
Dan pursed his lips and then glanced at Walter and Kate, then back to his former co-workers. “Could you excuse us for a moment?”
“Of course.” Mark took April’s elbow and directed her to the door.
Dan watched them leave and closed the door behind them, then he walked to Walter’s desk. He grabbed a pen and scrawled, ‘turn on audio scrambler.’ Walter flicked a couple of switches and Dan nodded.
“What’s going on?” Kate asked and Dan grinned.
“They left too willingly. They bugged the room, probably when you were on the phone to us. It’s an old spy’s trick. I could find it if I wanted, but time is short. What do you think, Walter?”
“It’s your life, Dan, what do you think?”
“If we go in as a team, we might stand a chance.”
“We?” Kate’s jovial mood grew more solemn as Dan explained his plan.
“You, me, Walter, and Nick.” He counted people off on his fingers.
“Nick?” Walter was puzzled. “Why Nick?”
“For my plan to work, he’d going to be crucial.”
“What are we going to do?” Kate’s eyes were bright, as they always were starting out on a mission. She loved the excitement.
“We beat them at their own game, my sweet.” Dan smiled. “C‘mere and I will explain.”
Napoleon sighed as his hood was removed and one hand was unmanacled. Not that the food in front of him was all that appetizing. The food here never was. At least some things never changed.
“Napoleon, is it true what they say?” the head of the UNCLE Asia asked softly.
“About what, Hisao?”
“That Kuryakin lives?”
“Not that I know of.”
“I hope you are wrong then, my friend.”
“Angelique has only one condition for our release, Napoleon. She wants his head.”
It took a very few minutes to explain his plan and at the end of it, Kate was shaking her head. “That is brilliant, Dr. Westin.”
“Thank you, Dr. Westin. Walter, why don’t you call our friends in? They are probably driving your secretary crazy by now.”
Walter barely had time to get his door open before Mark was inside, his face dark and exceedingly not happy. “How did you know?”
“I was an UNCLE agent, once upon a time, Mark. Now, my secrets are my own…” He looked at his wife. “Our own. Call THRUSH and tell them Illya Kuryakin will be along.”
“You can’t be serious!” April’s mouth dropped open.
“Why not? They want me, then me they shall have.” He brought up his hand to pat the wig he wore. “Of course, I hate having to think about cutting my hair.”
“Don’t worry, it’ll grow back,” Kate managed to get out without laughing. “You’ll look odd with a different hair style though. It’ll be like going to bed with a stranger.”
“Variety and all that.”
“Illya, they will kill you.”
“My name is Dan,” he reminded them again. “And THRUSH has tried, a lot of other people have tried, even UNCLE tried, but I don’t kill easily.”
“Are you going to let us into your plan, Dan?” April gave the name emphasis.
“No. You want this done, then you will have to trust the KLAE Resource.”
“What’s the KLAE Resource?”
Dan gestured to the three of them. “Us, plus one.”
“The four of you are going to do what a hundred UNCLE agents couldn’t?”
“Yup!” Kate answered resolutely. “We’re a can-do group.”
“Is he alive?” The voice pounding him was relentless. The air practically vibrated with the intensity of the demand. “Does Illya Kuryakin live?”
“No, no,” Napoleon half sobbed. “Don’t you think I would know?”
“That’s exactly what we think! Does Illya Kuryakin live?”
With a cry, Napoleon’s head pitched forward.
“Shall we wake him up, Ma’am?” The THRUSH agent looked over his shoulder to where Angelique lurked in the shadows. Another man rushed in, saluting as he approached. He held out a piece of paper to her as if it was some sort of peace offering and Angelique snatched it from his hand. A moment later, she started to chuckle and then laugh.
“Don’t bother. I have what I want.” She dropped the paper and the message, ‘I’m coming, I.K.’ landed face up. It would be the first thing Napoleon would see when he regained consciousness. She smiled, delighted at the thought of the agony it would cause dear Napoleon.
Dan leaned on the rail of the boat and groaned. “Now I remember why I hate sailing…”
“Watch the horizon. You’ll feel better once the Dramamine kicks in. Didn’t you tell me you were in the Russian Navy?”
“Yes, but I was on a submarine. It’s different.”
“We are approaching the five mile mark,” Walter shouted from below.
“Danny, what happens if they try to kill you on the spot?” Kate asked softly. Dan smiled gently at her.
“I was wondering when you’d get around to asking. That’s not how THRUSH operates, Kate. They will want to make a big deal about it, a way to dishearten UNCLE entirely. That will probably mean killing me in front of the Section Ones and then killing them.”
“But they said --.”
“They lie, Kate. It’s what they do. There is no way THRUSH is going to let them off the island alive.”
“Without you there, you mean.”
“Without us there,” he repeated and pushed off the rail. He climbed down the short ladder into the hold of the boat where Nick was working. “How are you doing, buddy?”
Nick gave him a short laugh. “Have to say this is a much different lab than I’m used to working in.”
“Just be ready. There won’t be much time once we get them on board. If we take too long, they will send out a second craft to investigate.”
“I’ll need fifteen minutes, no more.”
Dan smiled and squeeze Nick’s arm. “Then that’s what you’ll have.”
“Danny, there’s a boat coming towards us.”
“It’s show time.” Dan exchanged his shirt for a black turtleneck and his usual wig for another. “How do I look?”
“Like a different man.” Nick helped him settle the wig in place. “Be careful, my friend.”
“Always.” He came out onto the deck as the craft approached.
“Ahoy, vessel, you are trespassing,” the voice bellowed at them from a bullhorn.
Dan cleared his throat and shut his eyes.
“Danny, are you still sick?” Kate rested her hand on his shoulder and he glanced back at her.
“Stage fright. I can’t remember what I used to sound like.”
“Then neither will they,” she whispered and he lifted her hand to his lips.
“I do love you, Dr. Westin.”
“Later, you two,” Walter snapped. He was crouched down and wearing a dark turtleneck and one of Dan’s extra masks. “How do you breathe in this thing?”
“At regular intervals,” Dan murmured. Walter handed him a bullhorn and Dan brought it to his mouth. “I’m here by special invitation,” he called back.
“Prepare to surrender and to be boarded!”
Dan dropped the bullhorn and squatted down. Immediately, Walter stood and raised his hands over his head.
On the deck, Dan hurriedly stripped out of his mask and clothes. Everything was folded into a bundle and then it floated, as if by magic, to a storage bin and was tucked inside.
The boat pulled up alongside and one man looped a rope around a cleat and rapidly tied the boats together. As two men jumped from the THRUSH vessel to theirs, Dan smoothly moved in the opposite direction.
He walked as quickly as he could, knowing that it would take just seconds for them to unmask Walter. He came up behind the only person left on the THRUSH boat and winced. A woman, well, so much for the equality of the sexes; Dan punched her hard. The woman gasped and dropped, but Dan didn’t have time to be pretty. He rendered the woman unconscious, leaving her in an uncomfortable heap and head back for his boat. He just dropped noiselessly to the deck just as a demand went up from the other THRUSH.
“What the hell are you playing at?” The THRUSH raised the rifle, aiming it at Kate. “You made a big mistake!”
“Not as big as the one you made,” Dan said, standing just to the right of the THRUSH. The man spun, his mouth agape with confusion when there was no one there. Dan shut it for him. The second THRUSH started to move, but Kate plunged a hypo into his neck and the man collapsed before he could take another breath.
“What the hell is that stuff?” Dan asked, as she exchanged one hypo for another and injected the first man.
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” she quipped. “Now what?”
“Now Nick works his magic. Walter, help me get the other crewman on board.”
“Ah, crewwoman, you mean,” Walter corrected as he followed the invisible Westin. They hefted her back onto their vessel as Nick was kneeling and hurriedly making a mask of one of the unconscious men.
“We have a problem.”
“What’s that, Nick?”
“We can pass Walter off as this guy, no problem, but I’m about seven inches taller than the other one. Unless…”
“Unless we use Kate. Those two are about the same size and the hair is almost a match.”
“No, I don’t want her anywhere on that island.” Dan said as he redressed.
“Dan, you don’t have a choice,” Kate snapped. “Just do it, Nick.”
With the three THRUSH agents sleeping on the craft under Nick’s watchful eye, Kate piloted the boat towards the island.
“Remember that once we hit the island, I am your prisoner. You are Ari Parson, Walter, and Kate, you are…?”
“Got it,” Walter said, watching the shoreline approach through binoculars.
“That’s going to be easier said than done.” Dan drew a deep breath. “They are going to be so happy to see me, they’ll probably throw me a party.”
“No, and I’ll be the party piñata. I’m just hoping to stay alive long enough to have a chance to escape.”
Kate cut the engine and let the craft ride the waves onto the beach. “You don’t think there will be a problem with three going out and only two coming back?”
“No, but if any asks, blame Illya. He used to have a way of making THRUSH disappear.”
There were a handful of men on the shore and they didn’t look the pleasant type. They barely managed to tie off the boat, when the men swarmed onto the boat and inspected the UNCLE agent.
“Hello, Kuryakin.” The man let go with a roundhouse and caught Dan in the mouth. He staggered back a couple of steps and Walter caught him to keep him from falling. “Damn, I’ve been waiting a long time to do that,” he said, glancing over at his comrades.
Dan’s fist caught him in the stomach and made the man double over. “Wish I could say the same, Wilson. I haven’t missed you one little bit. I knew it was you on that tape.” He knew they’d retaliate and they did immediately and with as much brutality as THRUSH always used. Dan let himself lapse into half consciousness, knowing the seven kinds of hell he was putting his wife through. Mentally he swore he’d make it up to her, if given the chance.
He let himself be dragged down the half overgrown paths that led to the compound. Walter and Kate followed behind, looking as if they were enjoying the good natured ribbing the other THRUSH offered them.
He was dragged into a room and dumped. The concrete floor was cool against his mask and for a moment, he longed to strip off and luxuriate. Instead, he got to his hands and knees and took a breath. He didn’t bounce back from a beating the way he used to.
There was movement in the dim shadows that decorated the corners and he watched them. Gradually a form emerged and took shape. Dan felt his stomach roil as he placed a name to the figure.
“Angelique,” he fairly spat the name out and came smoothly to his feet, unwilling to let her know just how sore his body was. Then he stopped and stared. “What happened to you?”
“You happened to me, you miserable little…” She stopped at that point. “Let’s just say I caught one of your little presents head on, darling.” She lashed out to tear open his face and then gasped. Her fingernails tore the latex of the mask, but nothing else. “What?”
“Let’s just say you weren’t the only one who had an accident.” Dan tore off his mask. The wig went with it. His shirt and hands were also removed and dropped to the floor. Angelique was too stunned to do any more than stare. He disposed of his pants and shoes in one fast motion and quickly moved to stand beside the door.
As if suddenly waking, Angelique raced to the door and pulled it open. Dan was out the second it was wide enough for him to slip through. Angelique quickly slipped out and slammed the door. locking it. “Nice try, Kuryakin, but I don’t have to see you to know where you are.”
While she railed against the closed door, Dan slipped down the hall. He paused at the women’s quarters, looking until he spotted a familiar pair of shoulders. He walked through the room, not even pausing to ogle the half or completely naked bodies of women as he passed. Dan only had eyes for one woman. I am so married, he thought as he came up beside Kate and stroked her arm.
Kate’s eyes widened and then closed in happiness. She knew Dan was alive and with her.
“Outside,” he whispered and she nodded.
“I’m going to go grab some air,” she announced to no one in particular and walked from the room.
“Sandy’s acting weird tonight,” one woman said as Kate left.
“She caught a legend, a better dead than alive legend, but one all the same. She’ll be yelling like the rest of us tomorrow when Angelique rips his heart out, then shoots Solo through the eye.”
For a moment, Dan wanted to hit her, make her suffer, then he drew a breath and walked swiftly from the room. He couldn’t afford to lose it now.
Kate was sitting on the steps of the barracks, staring out at the thick vegetation.
“Kate, don’t answer me or even look around. You need to find Walter and get back to the THRUSH boat. Make up some excuse as to needing to go back to see why it didn’t blow up or something. I am going to go find Napoleon and make our way back to you. Angelique is running the show and she knows I’m invisible. I was hoping to keep that under my belt a bit longer, but it can’t be helped. Nod if you understand me.” Kate nodded slowly. “Okay, be careful and see if you can find a couple more rifles while you are at it. All the Number Ones used to be agents. Give them a weapon and they are as deadly as anyone else here.” He gave her knee a squeeze.
“Be careful,” she murmured.
“Who should be careful, Sandy?” A female agent paused as she walked by.
“Me, I’m talking to myself. I’m falling hard for a guy and I’m trying to keep from having my heart broken.”
“Oh, do we have a name?”
“Ari, Ari Parson.”
“Oh, girl, you need to do more than advise caution. You need to put up flashing red lights and caution tape. He’s broken every heart on the island.”
“I know… “ Kate sighed, sounding for all the world like a lovesick woman. “You wouldn’t happen to know where he is, would you?”
“It’s your heart. He’s over by the firing range.”
“Thanks…” She didn’t move from her seat on the stairs and the other woman finally walked off. “Where is the firing range?” she whispered and Dan squeezed her shoulder.
“Follow that path about a hundred yards and turn left. The firing range will be in the building to your immediate right.” She nodded and stood. Dan leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Love you,” he whispered into her ear.
He watched her walk off and then started to pick his way down his own path. If he was going to secure prisoners, he’d put them in The Hole. The hard part was that the only entrance and exit was up a ladder and through a hatch. If someone wanted, they could sit and pick escapees off as they exited. That was the glory of this arrangement.
As an invisible man, it didn’t pose much threat to him, but for the Section Ones, they might not fare as well. As he approached The Hole, he thought back. The last time he’d been in that pit, it had been to shake out a THRUSH spy. It didn’t end well for their decoy he recalled, although the affair had been successful in the end.
It took him just a few minutes to find the guard, hidden in the bushes, and incapacitate him. It took more time to find the sensors. He had no equipment, no way of rewiring them, but the guard had a jackknife and he made do with that. He figured he would have about ten minutes before things went south. He also grabbed a ring of keys.
That accomplished, he wrestled the lid open and hurriedly climbed down the ladder. It was dim inside and it took him a minute to locate Napoleon in the group of five men. He pulled off the hood and whispered, “Napoleon, it’s me. Don’t answer or make a sound. Get your men out of here as quickly as possible. Tell them to head for the beach. We have a craft waiting there. I’m going to be topside.” He fumbled with the key for the manacles, but then the restraint sprang open and for the first time in nearly a week, Napoleon was a free man.
Dan hurried up the ladder, picked up the guard’s rifle and waited. The first Section One cautiously peeked up and looked around. It only took him a few seconds to climb free and race towards the jungle. As Dan predicted, Napoleon was last to leave.
Napoleon’s breath caught when he heard Illya’s voice in his ear. Part of him thought he was hallucinating, but then his hands were free and an invisible force was helping him to his feet.
In spite of the pain shooting through his limbs, he forced himself to move, quickly unchaining his fellow Section Ones.
“Napoleon, how did you…?” Nat’s voice was rusty from disuse.
“Let’s put it down to an Act of God and get the hell out of here! Head for the beach, there’s a boat waiting for us. Go!”
Nat didn’t have to be told twice. He headed for the ladder and was gone. All the others followed and Napoleon brought up the rear.
Cautiously, he peeked out and then some instinct sent him back in a second before a bullet ricocheted off the metal hatch. He held his breath and heard gunfire exchanged. Then he heard a voice, so incredibly familiar it hurt his heart.
“Napoleon, go! I will cover you!”
Napoleon didn’t hesitate, but climbed out of the hatch and headed for the jungle. There was gunfire behind him, in front of him, all around him. All he could do was run and pray no one shot him.
He got to the edge of the jungle and saw the UNCLE leaders crammed into a small vessel. Two THRUSH agents were waving him on and he wondered, just for a minute, what Illya was playing at. Still he’d spent his earlier career trusting his partner. He wasn’t about to stop now.
He’d nearly made it to the boat when a bullet sliced through his pants leg and buried itself into the sand.
“Stop right there, darling. Don’t make me shoot you in the back.” Angelique’s voice was heavy with contempt.
“When shooting me in the face is so much easier?” Napoleon turned around, silently praying that one of his fellow agents would pick up a gun and end it for both of them. It wasn’t that he was anxious to die, but to know that the world was safe from the likes of Angelique, he would gladly pay with his life.
“I want to see you fear death, dear Napoleon,” she said as she approached.
“Then you will die a disaapointed old woman, Angelique. I neither fear nor crave death. When it comes, it comes.”
“Your partner cried for mercy…”
“I seriously doubt that.”
She was close now, her face just inches from his. “How did he do it? How did he manage that trick?”
Dan watched Napoleon disappear into the jungle and took a deep breath. He picked off two THRUSH who had the misfortune of thinking they were going to follow his former partner and stopped to consider his options.
When he was here, he’d been held back for a month to teach an ordinance class. If anyone could actually see Dan, the smile that suddenly graced his lips would have them scurrying for cover. It had been a very long time since he’d blown anything up… on purpose. He was so due.
The ordinance bunker was unguarded and the increase in gunplay told him about where the THRUSH had been repositioned. He didn’t take long, for he was not in the mood to linger. Even though he was invisible, somehow the mosquitoes were still finding him. They whined around his head as he uncoiled the fuse and set the detonator. He gave himself fifteen minutes. If they weren’t off the island by then, it wouldn’t very much matter.
He raced down the path blasting past anyone who happened to be in his way. He didn’t stop for the looks of amazement as he pushed people aside. He had one focus now, getting that boat clear before the bunker full of explosives ripped this island apart.
Dan cleared the jungle and skidded to a stop. Angelique was standing there, her gun aimed at Napoleon. He sighed and shook his head. Leave Napoleon alone for five minutes and he gets himself into trouble and usually that trouble was with a woman.
“I want to see you fear death, dear Napoleon.” Angelique was leveling the pistol at Napoleon.
“Then you will die a disappointed old woman, Angelique. I neither fear nor crave death. When it comes, it comes.”
“Your partner cried for mercy…”
“I seriously doubt that.”
“How did he do it? How did he manage that trick?”
“No trick, I am invisible,” Dan said from behind her and she jumped, spinning to face him. “Boo.”
She tried to lash out, but Dan easily evaded her by ducking below her hands. Without fanfare, he let go a punch and socked her square in the mouth. She collapsed semi conscious to the ground and Dan looked over at Napoleon. He gave the man a push. “Napoleon, run, this island is going sky high in about a minute.” Napoleon hesitated, looking down at Angelique. “No, Napoleon, don’t even think about it.”
“No, for once, Napoleon, no.” He grabbed Napoleon’s arm and tugged. After a moment, Napoleon followed, wading through the surf to reach the rocking boat. Strangers, apparently the Section Ones, shouted encouragement to him.
Dan looked back as he was helping Napoleon to climb in and saw Angelique struggling to rise from the sands. Part of him wanted to return to her, give her the chance she’d never give anyone else. Then he saw her aiming at Napoleon’s back.
Dan grabbed the side of the boat and pulled himself in through a feat of strength he didn’t know he still possessed. He tumbled into the boat and grabbed the closest pistol to him. It was still in someone’s hand, someone who later claimed his hand was guided by Divine Providence. It didn’t matter to Dan. Angelique was just as dead no matter how the trigger was pulled.
Dan slipped past everyone to Walter’s side. “Get going, my friend, and don’t spare the horsepower.”
Walter nodded and gave the engine full throttle. The boat raced away even as the first of the explosions shot up into the tropical sky.
“Good bye, La Isla del Diablo.” Napoleon murmured.
“I think a better term, old friend, is adios.” Dan appeared from below deck. The Section Ones turned and gasped.
“Illya Kuryakin,” one sputtered.
“Dan Westin,” Dan corrected and offered his hand. “Just someone who has a passing resemblance, that’s all.”
Kate pulled off her mask and blew out a mouthful of air. Walter followed suit, splitting his attention between staring back over his shoulders at the fireworks and scanning the horizon for their boat.
“That has got to be the most uncomfortable five hours of my life,” she muttered, rubbing her hand over her face. Dan smiled and knew he’d gotten more out of this assignment than sore feet and mosquito bites.
“And this is my wife, Kate, and my boss, Walter Carlson.” Dan gestured to each of them in turn.
“But how did you arrange all of this and why?” An Asian man asked and Dan looked over at Napoleon and smiled gently. He remembered the morning that Napoleon left their home for the first time. He set something down on the table and at first Dan had thought it was forgetfulness on Napoleon’s part. He should have remembered that Napoleon never did anything by accident. It was an assignment file, the only physical evidence that connected Illya Kuryakin and Dan Westin. Napoleon had given it to him.
“Once upon a time, not that long ago, someone did me a favor. I always repay my debts.”