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The La Bailadora del Viento Affair

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Within minutes of hearing sirens heading for the beach, a crowd could be seen at the point of land overlooking the shoreline and out into the ocean. The Coast Guard patrol boat could be seen running a search pattern for about a quarter mile out into the deep water near the rocks, back to the shore, and out again. Men on paddle boards glided through the storm beaten surf near the jetty searching intently for anything unusual under the surface of the water.

Below the point, further down the beach first response teams from multiple rescue services met to set up a command center and coordinate personnel in the search. A helicopter swooped beyond the area patrolled by the boats.

Fifty yards away from the command center two ambulances were parked in the sand above the high tide mark away from the hub of activity. A corpse covered in a yellow blanket lay on a stretcher. A man and woman stood next to the stretcher. She knelt down and pulled the blanket back, crying. The dark haired man reached down and pulled her up, wrapping his arm around the woman and pulled her close. Soon the stretcher was loaded into one of the vehicles and the woman climbed in after it. The vehicle pulled away taking its passengers to the hospital and morgue.

An ambulance attendant was assessing the condition of the remaining man who was shivering violently. The patient had suffered a dislocated shoulder and a gash to his head. The attendant was able to put the shoulder back into place and put the man’s arm in a sling. The head wound had been cleaned and taped with butterfly bandages. He wrapped a blanket around his patient. A Styrofoam cup of coffee was pressed into the man’s hand.

"Here, sir. Drink this, it will help to warm you.”

There was no response other than a quick nod. "Sir, I'll be back in a minute. I need to talk with my supervisor and find some dry clothes for you. You stay here, I want to recheck your vitals in a few minutes." Again the man merely nodded, never taking his eyes away from the expanse of water or the rescue crafts conducting the search.

Napoleon Solo absentmindedly tried to sip the coffee. He didn't even remember the cup being handed to him. His hand was shaking so badly the hot liquid spilled. He didn't even feel it. All he could feel was the fear and dread that enveloped him as he watched the search and rescue workers continue looking for his partner, Illya Kuryakin.

The two U.N.C.L.E. agents had been on an arduous mission in the Caribbean Sea for the past couple of weeks. THRUSH had been setting up a radar scanning facility on an unnamed atoll with the intent of becoming modern day pirates. Their scheme was to intercept ships with specialized cargo that would enhance their own technological infrastructure, plus they engaged in a modern day version of “rum running”. Instead of rum, however, the satrapy was smuggling high quality cocaine, heroine, and a new deadly drug only known as Pink World.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin found the satrapy and were able to infiltrate it. Kuryakin was able to plant explosives to destroy the radar equipment as well as the underwater cave where a large cache of the drugs had been stored in waterproof containers. Solo was able to grab the documents that described the manufacturing process of Pink World as well as the documents that revealed the drug suppliers in South America. Both made it back to their rendezvous point with nary a scratch and were five miles out to sea when explosions ripped through the atoll obliterating all signs of THRUSH’s facility. Mr. Waverly, pleased with the results, told his agents they didn't have to report for duty until a week from the following Monday. That gave the two men twelve days to enjoy a little vacation time in the Cayman Islands.

Napoleon and Illya chartered a Florida based forty-seven foot, two masted yawl to explore the various inlets and caves along the shores of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The blue wood hulled boat, La Bailadora del Viento (Wind Dancer) was captained by Mitch Hansford, who had spent the last thirty years running a charter business in the area. His wife, Hetty, ran the galley and provided gourmet quality meals using only a two burner alcohol stove and icebox for cold storage.

Napoleon was thrilled when Mitch asked if he would like to man the helm for a while and help with the winches and sheets when tacking. The Pursang, his own sloop, was a smaller, one masted boat and it felt great to feel the power of the larger vessel as the wind filled her sails.

When the boat was anchored in the various secluded inlets, Illya spent his time snorkeling along the coral reef sometimes accompanied by either Mitch or Hetty. Curious manatees and dolphins would approach the divers and investigate the humans before swimming off again.

The sixth evening out, at 1700 hours, the two agents and Hetty were eating dinner topside in the cockpit. A slight breeze was stirring and small choppy waves had begun to slap against the hull.

“Well, Partner, in another week we’ll be back in New York.” Napoleon looked over at Illya who was busily munching on Hetty’s delicious fried chicken.

“Yes, Napoleon. It is a shame we could not stay here longer. I could get used to this. I have not even been seasick this time. Besides, my friend, I am not looking forward to getting back and writing the reports.”

“Now, Illya, you lost the bet fair and square. The reports are all yours to do,” Napoleon gloated.

Mitch was down below making an entry in the captain’s log and perusing the charts. It was time to head back to Florida. He would sail around the west end of Cuba before heading East to the Florida Keys. As he was plotting his course, Mitch did a final weather check on his ship to shore radio. He keyed the button on the mic…“This is the Bailadora del Viento calling Grand Cayman Island weather outpost…over.” The radio crackled with static. “Grand Cayman weather outpost, this is “La Bailadora del Viento…over.”

This is the Grand Cayman weather outpost, is that you, Mitch? Over.”

Mitch grinned, “It sure is,Tom! Hey, I need an updated long range weather report, we’re on our way back to Florida…over.”

As Mitch listened, he began to make some mental calculations. Shit! When Tom had finished with the update, Mitch signed off with “All right, Tom, thanks for the report. Looks like I’ll have to change my plans. Thanks a million. This is La Bailadora del Viento signing off, over… and out.”

Napoleon, Illya, and Hetty were laughing and discussing the fun they had over the last week when Mitch appeared in the hatchway. Illya looked over and noticed the serious look the usually laid-back captain’s face.

“Is there something wrong, Mitch?” the Russian asked.

“Could be,” was the reply. “According to the weather report a strong tropical depression is building to the southeast about 100 miles away and is rapidly moving this way. It is predicted to reach tropical storm status in the next couple of hours and hit the Cayman Islands in twelve hours or so. It would be foolish to set sail for Florida.”

Napoleon asked, “What are your plans, Mitch?”

“Originally, we were going to stay here overnight and get started in the morning. Instead, I think we need to leave right now and sail the eighty five miles to Grand Cayman. There you boys can catch a flight out before the weather gets too bad. I had considered sailing to the leeward side of the nearest island, but there just isn’t any good place to ride out the storm, especially if there is a strong storm surge.”

“What can we do to help, Mitch?”

“Hetty, would you please prepare some simple meals…sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, anything that can be fixed now. Make enough for three days, just in case. Later on, it may be too rough to fix anything. “Illya, would you help Hetty by stowing any loose gear. Also, I have a spare radio that needs to be readied in case the main one goes out.”

“Of course, Mitch.”

“Napoleon, I could use your experience with the sails. While it is still fairly calm I want to put as much sail up as possible so we can cover distance more quickly, but when the wind picks up we need to be ready to reef the mainsail, drop the genoa and put up the storm jib. Are you able to do that?”

“Absolutely, Mitch.”

“Okay, from this moment on everyone is to wear a lifejacket and when topside, a safety line. It’s a bit over kill for the moment, but it’s better to learn how to move around with that gear attached when it’s calm. The height of a storm is not the time to learn.”

“Mitch,” Illya asked, “it sounds like you do not intend to use the motor. Would not that be faster?”

Mitch shook his head. “The motor is great for getting us moving when we’re becalmed, but we can travel faster under sail. Besides, I want to save the motor and diesel for later in case of an emergency.”

Napoleon and Illya moved to make the preparations. Hetty reached for Mitch’s hand with a worried look. “Is it going to be that bad, Mitch? I’ve never seen you take such precautions before.”

Mitch hugged her and gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze. “I’d rather be over prepared, dear. This will probably amount to nothing, but according to Tom and the weather outpost this storm is practically developing over our heads.

“Sweetheart, do me a favor and make sure Illya takes the Dramamine immediately. Actually, give some to everyone, we’re going to need to be on our toes and don’t have time to deal with seasickness.” He gave Hetty a quick kiss before she disappeared in the hatchway.

Napoleon came up topside and handed a set of foul weather gear and a life jacket to Mitch. Both donned harnesses with lifelines attached. The other end of the lines were attached to stanchions.

“How long do you think it’ll take us to get to Grand Cayman, Mitch?”

“I’m not sure, Napoleon. If we can continue to run before the wind and the current is with us we’ll make good time and maybe we’ll be there in twelve to fifteen hours. If the wind shifts and we have to tack back and forth it could take as much as twenty-four hours. If we can just keep ahead of the storm we’ll be in good shape.”

By 1745 hours, La Bailadora del Viento was underway. The mainsail, mizzensail, and large foresail were all raised and set to catch the wind blowing directly off the stern. The forty-seven footer made quick time topping 9 knots, however, as the winds became more organized and swept towards them, the ocean swells grew causing the boat to skid down the leeward side of the waves and climb the steep windward sides.

By 0600, La Bailadora del Viento had covered nearly fifty nautical miles, but the weather took a turn for the worse. Illya was down below with Hetty and stood by the ship to shore radio reporting their position and passing messages from the nearest weather outpost up to Mitch. Shouting to make himself heard over the wind he yelled, “Mitch, they are reporting that we are now dealing with a tropical storm! Expected wind gusts to reach 60 knots. I checked the anemometer and it is registering 35 knots with gusts up to 45 knots.” As he finished, a large wave washed over the cockpit and spilled down the hatchway hitting Illya full force. “Choryt!”

Mitch yelled down, “All hands on deck! We need to reef the sails. Illya, Hetty, tend to the mainsail. Hetty will show you how. Napoleon, tend to the genoa. Don’t worry about bagging it, just shove it down the forward hatch.”

All four jumped into action and before long the boat was sailing with a vastly reduced sail area. They all stayed topside in the cockpit ready to tend to the sails, trimming them or letting them out when needed.

Tensions were high among the four as they wrestled with the high winds and coaxed the forty-seven foot yawl through the giant swells. By this time, Illya was not the only one dealing with seasickness. Each person had had a turn with leaning over the sides to empty their stomachs, although the Russian was having a decidedly harder time. He was at the point of severe dehydration and could not hold any fluids down. Mitch had him lie down on the sail locker closest to midships.

“No, I am okay, besides you need as many hands as possible to help.”

“Illya, the way you’re feeling, you are too weak. Save your strength for later when we will really need you.”

After several more hours of riding an oceanic roller coaster, the storm began to subside leaving long rolling swells. At least the high winds and rain had stopped. Streaks of blue sky could be seen on the western and northern horizons. Hetty kept a watch for signs of land. According to the charts and their position, they would be approaching Rum Point soon. Once they rounded the point they would sail into the North Sound. The water would be somewhat calmer since the sound is protected on three sides by the island’s land mass.

“Mitch! I see the point about 50 degrees off the starboard bow! I’m guessing it’s about two miles away.”

Everyone raised up from the cockpit seats to take a look and the relief they felt at seeing land was almost palpable.

“Great! Okay, folks, stay alert. It’s time to start the engine and bring in the sails. We can’t afford to get slop…”

Mitch didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. As their attention was drawn to the point of land off the starboard bow, none of them saw the rogue wave approaching from the stern off the port side. Just before a huge wall of water slammed into the boat, Mitch looked up to see it towering over them. He had just enough time to yell, “Knockdown!” Everyone grabbed a handhold. One hand on their lifeline another holding onto the boat. Mitch and Napoleon jumped towards the winches to release any tension on the mainsail and storm jib. Hetty reached for the mizzensail’s sheet. Illya, who was closest to the hatchway grabbed Napoleon’s harness to keep his friend from falling into the water as he wrestled with the main’s sheet (rope).

In seconds, La Bailadora del Viento was knocked over onto her starboard side. The gunnel was a good three feet under the water’s surface, with the port gunnel pointing up to the cloud laden sky.

Thanks to the weighted keel the boat righted itself. Water sloshed in the cockpit, coils of the sheets floated like water snakes, and any object that wasn’t tied down floated among the sheets. As the boat righted itself, the boom swung wildly. Illya looked up just in time to see it and yelled, “Mitch! Look out!”

Mitch, intent on making sure his wife and passengers were okay, stood up and looked their way forgetting one of the most elementary rules of sailing, keep clear of the boom. It swung from the starboard side over to port and connected with the back of Mitch’s head. The momentum threw him over the port side into the storm driven waves.

“Mitch! Oh my God, Mitch!” Hetty yelled.

Illya didn’t hesitate and dove overboard to help Mitch. Both of them were attached to their lifelines, but Mitch was unconscious and Illya struggled to keep the captain’s head above the water while Hetty and Napoleon pulled them both in and onto the boat. They laid Mitch down on the lid of the sail locker which also served as a bench. His head bled profusely. When Illya check the man’s pupils he saw that they were unequal. Mitch had suffered a severe concussion. Hetty held Mitch’s head in her lap while Illya dashed below to retrieve the first aid kit. Napoleon was at the helm trying to keep the vessel pointed perpendicular to the swells.

Within fifteen minutes, Mitch’s head had been bandaged and he was moved down below onto one of the berths in the main cabin.

“Hetty, you should stay with him and try to keep him calm if he should awaken. He very likely will be agitated.”

“But, Illya, I need to run the boat. You and Napoleon…”

“…will do just fine, Hetty.” He gave her a reassuring smile and placed his hand on her cheek. “Remember, Napoleon, has been sailing for much of his life. As for me,” he chuckled wryly, “I’ve been trained to ‘go and do’. Napoleon will tell me what he needs help with.”

Hetty nodded and held Mitch more closely. Illya climbed up the steps. As he poked his head through the hatchway he saw Napoleon’s expression and knew that circumstances were going to get a whole lot worse.

“How’s Mitch?”

“Not good, Napoleon. He has a severe concussion. I am not sure he is going to make it.” Illya looked at his friend. “What is wrong, my friend? Looking at your expression one would guess that the world is coming to an end!”

“It just may be, at least for us, Tovarisch. Look ahead.”

Illya looked out beyond the bow. In the short time since the knockdown, the boat had drifted very close to the shore, it was now only about a half mile away.

“Start the engine, Napoleon!”

“I’ve tried! It won’t even think about turning over. And Illya…we have lost our rudder. I can’t move the helm at all.”

Illya crawled aft and looked over the side. One of the lifelines that had been released when Hetty and he had carried Mitch below had somehow fallen over the side and was entangled in the rudder. He pointed it out to Napoleon.

“Napoleon, hand me Mitch’s knife. I will go over the side and cut the line loose and free up the rudder. I suspect it is wrapped around the propeller as well.” He started to remove the lifejacket and foul weather gear.

“No, Illya! It’s too dangerous. Between the current, waves, and the drift of the boat you would be left behind!” Napoleon, a nervous swimmer at best, did not like the idea of his best friend adrift in the sea.

“Do not worry, my friend, I’ll have the harness and lifeline. I will be fine.” He called down to Hetty. “Hetty, would you please hand me one of the diving masks?”

Napoleon grabbed the man’s arm, “Don’t do it, please, Illya!”

His best friend looked at him cooly with slate gray eyes that matched the sky and the color of the sea. His hand patted Napoleon’s forearm. “It is not like there is any other choice, Napoleon. Really, I will be fine. Just be ready to pull me aboard when I tug three times on the line.” With that he placed the mask Hetty had handed him on his face, took five large air gulping breaths, grabbed the mask to keep it in place, and jumped into the water.  Napoleon watched for him. When Illya surfaced the boat had already drifted well away from his position. Illya grabbed the lifeline and pulled himself hand over hand to the stern of the boat. Napoleon watch as his friend dove under the surface. He could hear Illya pulling at the entangled line as it rubbed against the rudder. The American agent looked away from the stern and towards the bow. The boat had drifted another 600 yards closer to the rocks just off the point. There was no more time. No time to start the engine and no time for Illya to free the rudder.

“Hetty! Hetty!” he yelled. There was no hiding the alarm in his voice. Hetty climbed the stairs to the main hatch’s opening.

“What is it, Napoleon?”

“Trouble, and lots of it. We need to get Mitch up here and abandon the boat. We’re headed for the rocks. We have no power and no rudder!”

They both hurried below and grabbed Mitch hauling him up the gangway. “Can you ready the life raft? I’ve got to pull Illya back in.”

“Sure.”

She climbed onto the main cabin’s roof and pulled at the lashes that held the rubber life raft securely to the deck. She dragged it to the starboard side and pulled the cords inflating the raft with CO2, pushed it over the side, and tied the painter to one of the stanchions with a bowline.

Napoleon turned to Illya’s life line and desperately pulled on it to bring his partner back to the boat. Nothing happened. He tried again pulling even harder. Illya’s head popped up close to the stern.

“I am almost finished, just a few more cuts!” he yelled.

“We have to abandon the boat. I’m pulling you in!”

Illya shook his head, frustrated. “Napoleon, it is just about free, I just need…”

“Illya! Look! We’re only seventy-five yards from the rocks. We need to leave, now!”

The blond looked in the direction his friend was pointing and realized the danger they were in. “Napoleon, get in the life raft and get free of the boat!” he yelled. “I’ll swim over to you.”

Napoleon gave him a thumbs up. Before returning to Hetty and Mitch he grabbed one of the life buoys attached to the stern’s railing and threw it over the side close to where Illya was. Then he turned and made his way to the life raft. Making sure that all had life jackets on he pushed off. The raft quickly drifted away from the boat.

“Where’s Illya?” Hetty asked.

“He’s coming. He said he would swim to us.”

But Illya didn’t come. Illya couldn’t come. As he ducked his head below the surface to release his lifeline the other line had wrapped itself around his right arm and his neck. As the boat drifted towards the rocks it dragged him with it. He was fighting a taut line and slowly strangling. He pulled at the line trying to get some slack. His vision and hearing faded. Blackness threatened to envelop him. His right hand held the knife but was impeded by the twisted line. Desperately, he grabbed the knife with his left hand and began wildly slashing at the line. He could no longer see it. The first slash missed the line completely. He tried again only to slice the bicep on his right arm, instead. On the third try, he was able to free himself. Willing his lungs to hold out just a little longer he struggled to the surface, surfacing with a loud gasp. As he tread water, gulping air, he looked around. The life raft was nowhere to be seen.

“Illya! Illya, where are you? Damn it, Illya, where are you!” Napoleon called. He searched the surface for any sign of his friend. “Oh God, Illya, where the hell are you?” The only thing he could see was the yellow life buoy he had tossed overboard. It’s strobe light signaling mockingly.Illya was not holding onto it. Hetty, reached over and touched Napoleon. Her eyes misting. She knew that the chance of his friend’s survival was slim.

Napoleon tried calling again, but eventually sank down to the floor of the raft, dejected. His eyes never stopping their search for a hint of his friend breaking the surface.

Miraculously, the life raft was pushed to the east of the rocks and on toward the beach. The surf pushed the raft into the shore flipping it into some rocks before it was beached. Someone standing on the high point of land had seen the drama unfold and sent a friend for help. Soon, the sound of sirens filled the air.

The ambulance attendant was able to find some dry clothes for Napoleon Solo who gratefully accepted them. The first responders urged the American to go to the hospital to receive a thorough check up, but he categorically refused. He stayed for five hours watching the search and rescue teams comb the water, jetty and rocks for signs of his best friend.

Finally, a policeman approached. “I’m sorry sir, they are calling off the search on account of darkness. Also, the head of the search teams has downgraded the operation from a rescue mission to a recovery operation. The chiefs from the different agencies all agreed that, at this point, there is little chance your friend survived. If he didn’t drown, then he would likely have been dashed against the rocks by waves.

“Please sir, let the medics take you to the hospital. Your shoulder and head need attending to.”

Napoleon never made eye contact with the policeman. He closed his eyes and exhaled a long shuddering breath before nodding. “All right, officer.” He climbed in the back and laid down on one of the gurneys, exhausted and emotionally drained. Clenching his eyes tightly against the tears that threatened to fall, he turned onto his side away from the attendant and willed himself to wake up from the nightmare that he surely must be having.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Napoleon placed a call to Mr. Alexander Waverly, Chief of U.N.C.L.E Northwest based in New York City. The Cayman Islands were an hour behind Eastern Standard Time and the agent wondered if the old man would still be at headquarters. He wasn’t surprised to hear the chief’s voice over the line.

“Mr. Solo, I must say I am a bit surprised to hear from you this time of night while you are still on vacation. How are you and Mr. Kuryakin getting along?”

Napoleon swallowed hard and pulled himself together before saying,“Ah, there was a boating accident, Sir. We were caught in a bad storm. The boat’s captain died from a head injury, and…” he swallowed again, “…and Mr. Kuryakin is missing and feared dead. The search teams will resume a recovery search at day break.”

There was silence on the other end of the line, then, Waverly spoke in a hoarse voice. “I’m sorry, Mr. Solo. Under the circumstances, I think you should get some rest tonight and head back to New York tomorrow. Arrangements need to be made regarding Mr. Kuryakin’s funeral and estate and I want you to be here for that.”

“Sir, I was hoping I could stay on here. He might still be alive, Sir! And if….if not, I would like to be here when they find him and personally accompany him home. It’s the least I can do for him.”

“I understand, but I would rather you return to headquarters, Mr. Solo, and that’s an order.” The cold tone belied what Alexander Waverly was truly feeling. He wanted to spare Napoleon the trauma of seeing Kuryakin’s body after it had suffered the ravages of drowning and being fed upon by fish.

“Sir, please! I must…”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Solo, but I must insist.”

“Yes, Sir.” Napoleon’s voice was strained. “I’ll be on the first plane out of here, tomorrow.” He slammed the phone down on its cradle before picking the whole thing up and hurling it across the room.

The next morning, before leaving for the airport, Napoleon stopped by Hetty’s hotel room. He knocked softly on her door in case she was still asleep and waited. Just as he had decided that she was asleep and turned to leave, Hetty opened the door. They embraced each other.

“Hetty, I’ve been ordered back to New York. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Mitch was a heck of a guy and will be missed by many.”

“Thank you, Napoleon. Have you…” she paused. “Has there been any word about Illya?”

He looked down not able to meet her eyes, “No, no word yet. The powers that be have decided that there is no way he could have survived and called off the rescue operations. I don’t know, Hetty. I just can’t believe he’s gone…I thought I’d feel it here,” he pointed to his heart. “We’ve always had sort of a sixth sense about each other. I guess it’s what made us good partners.” He looked up and gave a half smile that never reached his eyes. “I wish I could stay for Mitch’s funeral, Hetty.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek, turned, and left.

On the north shore, in a cliffside cave, an utterly exhausted Illya Kuryakin, lay unconscious in the sand just above the high tide mark. His arm oozed blood from the knife wound in his right bicep and he was covered with cuts and scrapes from being tumbled among the rocks. His feet were sliced up from walking on the barnacle covered rocks that lined the cave floor. He crawled up onto the sand and collapsed never hearing the helicopter circling overhead nor the Coast Guard’s patrol boat.

Twelve hours later, Illya felt a hard pinch on his right thumb. He opened his eyes in time to see a curious crab go after his thumb again. “Ouch! Son of a bitch!” he yelled, or tried to, as he sat up and flung the crab across the sand. He looked around remembering how he got there. He had been treading water for a long time wondering what became of Napoleon and the life raft. He feared that it may have capsized and his friends were also floundering in the water. Eventually, the waves pushed him towards some rocks where he was dashed against them. He saw the cave and with a herculean effort swam against the current until a large wave picked him up and roughly deposited him on the rocky bottom.

Illya needed to find a way out. He knew he didn’t have the strength to swim out, he would only end up being tossed about by the waves and he probably wouldn’t survive the abuse a second time around. For the moment, though, he didn’t have the energy to think about his circumstances. Instead, he crawled over to a rocky shelf about five feet above the sand. He climbed up onto it and lay down hoping the crabs wouldn’t be able to climb up. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

The next time he opened his eyes he saw two huge brown eyes staring back at him. Startled, he quickly sat up. A young boy was kneeling next to him with a warm smile. "you must be the man that everyone is looking for! You're supposed to be dead!”

Illya smiled. "Well, young man, I hate to disappoint you, but it appears that I am quite alive, thank you very much.”

"Why are you down here? Come with me.”

"I am unable to walk right now, can you bring someone here to help me?”

The young boy did not answer, instead he turned around and headed for the back of the cave calling," I will be back soon.”

Within an hour, four man came back with the boy and carried Illya out of the cave through a back entrance. Waiting for them, was an ambulance. The Russian was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

Napoleon Solo wearily boarded the plane. He had just fastened his seatbelt when a police officer banged on the airplane door. The stewardess opened the door letting the officer in. After a rather somber discussion, she lifted the mic to the paging system.

“Will Mr. Solo, Mr. Napoleon Solo please come to the front of the plane.”

With a heavy heart, Napoleon made his way to the front of the plane and steeled himself for bad news. As he reached the front he said, “I am Napoleon Solo.”

The police officer grabbed his arm, “Sir, you must come with me. Your friend, he is alive. He is at the hospital right now! Come quickly!”

Two hours later, after the doctors had meticulously cleaned and treated the cuts and abrasions caused by the coral, stitched up his arm, and bandaged his feet Illya Kuryakin was wheeled to his hospital room. The nurse helped him to stand and climb into bed. When she finished getting him settled and left, Napoleon walked in.

The American stopped at the door at took in the sight of his heavily bandaged partner. He stepped in and approached Illya’s bed. “You are a sight for sore eyes, Tovarisch.” Reaching for Illya’s unbandaged left hand, he took it. “I thought I had lost you for sure. I had visions of you becoming fish food. Welcome back to the land of the living, Illya.”

Illya Kuryakin looked up solemnly, “ Thank you, my friend. It’s good to be on solid ground.”

Pointing to his partner’s right hand Napoleon said, “You’ll do anything to get out of writing up the report, won’t you!”

Illya chuckled. "I have only one thing to say, Napoleon Solo, given our track record I refuse to go on any more vacations with you. It has proven to be entirely too dangerous for my health! I’d be better off facing THRUSH!”

Napoleon was slightly taken aback until he saw the amused twinkle in his friend’s eyes. He patted Illya’s shoulder and laughed, “You may be right, Tovarisch, you just may be right. Now if you will excuse me I have a report to make to Mr. Waverly. He hasn’t heard the good news, yet.

Napoleon stepped out the room and pulled out a spare communicator. Smiling broadly he spoke into it. “Open Channel D, overseas relay. Hello, Mr. Waverly…”