Actions

Work Header

Project Pygmalion

Work Text:

FROM THE JOURNAL OF HENRY BELDON

19th June 1955

Have just reviewed Jules Cutter's latest batch of recruits. Like watching an army of robots, all hulking great lantern-jawed muscle men without 2 brain cells to rub together. V. good at dodging bullets, I have no doubt, and prob. also at withstanding torture, duffing up goons etc etc, but any idiot can be taught to do that. Am convinced Jules is imperiling future of UNCLE by this short-sighted obsession with physical prowess. Any fool can be trained to shoot straight and duck a bullet, but impossible to take man with no brain and turn him into an agent capable of independent thought, someone who remains his own man even when following orders. Must have word with Alexander about this.

20th June 1955

Alexander not an easy man to convince. Know he has razor-sharp mind hidden behind that English gentleman façade, but sometimes think mask of conventionality is starting to get to him. At this rate, Yours Truly will soon be only lateral thinker left at UNCLE. Am convinced could do much better job than Jules at training agents, if only A. would give me the chance.

21st June 1955

Alexander has proposed bet. If I can train nominee of his choice to be perfect UNCLE agent within three months, to standard so high no-one can tell has not been to Survival School, he will give me Section 1 position in Europe. If he wins, I will stop telling Jules how to run school. Have naturally accepted, though found it hard to conceal smirk. Celebrated impending promotion by buying new fur coat – have heard German winters can be chilly.

22nd June 1955

Humph, did not think Alexander would stoop to cheating. Must remember in future that he is wily old fox. 3 months v. short time frame to achieve Pygmalion-like transformation of hopelessly unpromising material, to whit Section 8 boffin, and Russian to boot. Apparently Sov. U. pulled wool over Alexander's eyes (kudos to them, doesn't happen often) and contributed speccy scientist as their part of recent deal. Fellow doesn't even fulfil Section 2 height requirement and can't be extracted from lab except by threats of terminating contract. However, would not be Harry Beldon if not confident of ability to turn even absent-minded professor into pocket-sized James Bond well within timescale, and it will be one in the eye for Jules. Have accepted bet and drawn up training program.

30th June 1955

Am reluctant to concede that anything could raise Jules Cutter in my esteem, but must admit that training agents not quite so easy as had imagined. Have put IK on fitness regime – rising at 5am, 6 mile run before breakfast, followed by weight-lifting, bench-pressing, boxing, shooting etc etc. Do not, however, have feeling that am getting anywhere. IK's attitude all wrong – makes it clear wishes only to return to lab and has no interest in "crude animal behaviour." Cannot hit tin can with stone at ten yards' distance; cannot climb rope ladder without falling off; cannot even be persuaded to flirt with female staff simulating Thrush lovelies. Must find way of arousing his interest, but v. difficult to hook fish without knowing what bait to use.

FROM THE PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF ILLYA NICKOVETCH KURYAKIN

DATE: 7th July 1955
TO: Comrade Secretary Alexei Alexandrovitch Oblomov, Representative of the Soviet Union at the United Nations
FROM: Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin

My dear Alyosha,

I beg you to arrange for me an immediate transfer out of UNCLE. I have not been able to conduct an experiment in over two weeks and my paper on transdimensional Icthyan strings is languishing unwritten. I have submitted an official complaint to the Soviet authorities but they insist that it is UNCLE's right to assign me where they will. And so, instead of getting on with important and constructive research, I am forced to spend my time in mindless acts of running, jumping, climbing and shooting, all of which I endeavour to perform as badly as possible. Yesterday I achieved a minus score on the shooting range, after putting a bullet through the hat of the instructor, who was standing behind me. I can only hope that, with your help, Mr Beldon will soon abandon his plan to turn me into an Enforcement agent and allow me to return to my lab.

Yours in near despair,

Illya

DATE: 8th July 1955
TO: Comrade Dr Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin
FROM: Alexei Alexandrovitch Oblomov

Dear Illya,

Sorry, no can do. Transfer to UNCLE is a life appointment – you're in their hands now.

Alyosha

P.S. You couldn't see your way to lending me five rubles, could you? You do little enough in the way of favours for me, considering all I've done for you.

FROM THE OFFICIAL FILES OF ALEXANDER WAVERLY

ANNOTATED EXCERPT FROM AUDIO SURVEILLANCE TRANSCRIPT 14/7/55, TEAM D, PROJECT PYGMALION

SUBJECT: ILLYA N. KURYAKIN

8.15.15pm Subject in bedroom
16 Sound of heavy object being pulled across floor
20 Click of catch
23 Sound of human body sitting down on bed
25 Subject plucks guitar strings

IK (sings): And in that moment there'll be silence on the dockside
When they ask me which of them should die?
And they'll listen as I give the answer: BELDON!
And when his head falls, I'll say"Oops!"
(Tune tentatively identified by Miss Pickering in Accounts as Pirate Jenny from The Threepenny Opera)

8.17. 20 Subject pours drink from bottle
21 Slurping
29 Subject resumes guitar playing

IK (sings): These boots are made for walking
And that's just what they'll do,
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over YOU!
(Tune identified by entire surveillance team as Nancy Sinatra, These Boots are Made for Walking)

8.18.20 Slurping
24 Subject refills glass
26 Slurping
31 Glass falls to floor

IK: Hooy morzhovy!*

8.19.01 Sound of guitar playing (Tune as yet unidentified but somehow strangely familiar)

IK(sings): Just you wait, Harry Beldon, just you wait!
You'll be sorry but your tears'll be too late.
You'll be broke and I'll have money;
Will I help you? Don't be funny!
Just you wait Harry Beldon, just you wait!

Just you wait till you're a traitor and you're caught!
And you face the firing squad, just like you ought!
As they raise their rifles higher,
I'll shout: "Ready! Aim! Fire!"
Oh-ho-ho, Harry Bel–

(mutters): No, no, that's not VIOLENT enough – wait, wait, I've got it!

(sings): Just you wait until I'm sent to track you down,
And I find you in a cave far out of town;
There's a hand grenade I'll let off,
It'll blow your bloody head off,
Oho, Harry Beldon!
Down you'll go! Harry Beldon!
Just you wait, Harry Beldon, just you wait!

Yeah, thass wha'll do, blow his bloody head clean off, bang! Bits of Beldon everywhere! Hallelujah, iss raining Beldon! Hush, here comes a whizzbang, an' iss making straight for Beldon! Tha'll teach 'im, tha'll blurry show 'im... juss you wai...

8.23.45 Sound of body falling to floor.

*Translator's note: Russian expletive, approx. meaning walrus genitalia

MEMO: 15th July 1955
FROM: Mr Waverly
TO: Mr Kuryakin

Following unsatisfactory reports of your progress, I have instructed Mr Beldon to enroll you in an explosives course, as more in keeping with your scientific and engineering abilities. Training starts tomorrow at 9am sharp. Please be punctual.

FROM THE JOURNAL OF HENRY BELDON

22nd July 1955

Got to hand it to Alexander, suggestion of explosives training sheer bloody genius. Have never seen man so fascinated by bangs since "Stinks" Smithers in chemistry class back in '26. Transpires that IK bloody well can throw straight (and curve balls, and googlies) provided object being lobbed is bomb or hand grenade. As further bonus, can construct top notch explosive device out of shoestring, lighter fluid and 2 pieces of chewing gum. Will be invaluable addition to field work, providing mission consists of blowing up everything in sight. Must now endeavour to curb enthusiasm somewhat, so that can be used on occasions when scorched earth approach inappropriate eg. guarding ambassadors, smuggling microdots, interrogating suspects etc etc. If progress continues apace, will suggest trial run to Alexander. Guarding Sheikh Ibn Ali during annual Ascot visit obvious opportunity, though had better have trained field agent as back-up, just in case enthusiasm for explosives insufficiently curbed.

FROM THE OFFICIAL FILES OF ALEXANDER WAVERLY

REPORT FROM: POSITIVE VETTING OFFICE
TO: NUMBER ONE, SECTION ONE
DATE: 15th August 1955

Dear Mr Waverly,

Following instructions received from you personally, my team has thoroughly investigated ILLYA N. KURYAKIN'S background and found no evidence that he would pose a security risk to UNCLE on political or personal grounds. As a result of his deployment in the Ascot Affair, however, we find renewed cause for concern with respect to the sexual orientation of Field Agent NAPOLEON SOLO. An excerpt from the transcript is attached:

NS (dropping into chair opposite IK): Did you see that?

IK: I believe all of Ascot saw it.

NS: Rather an overreaction, don't you think? She didn't have to slap my face, just because I forgot it was her birthday.

IK: Typical woman.

NS: Totally irrational. I'll never understand women. Why can't they be more like men?

IK: Women? Impossible.

NS: No, really, why can't a woman be more like a man? Men are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you're with them, you're always at ease. Would you be slighted if I didn't speak for hours?

IK: Of course not.

NS: Would you be livid if I had a drink or two?

IK: Nonsense.

NS: Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?

IK: Never.

NS: Well, why can't a woman be like you? Why can't a woman take after a man? Men are so friendly, good-natured and kind. A better companion you never will find. If I buggered up your soufflé would you bellow?

IK: Of course not.

NS: If I forgot your silly star sign, would you fuss?

IK: Nonsense.

NS: Would you complain if I took out another fellow?

IK: Never.

NS: Can I get you a drink?

You may feel that in the light of Mr Solo's known proclivity for female companionship, no further action is necessary, but we recommend an annual review of his security rating.

FROM THE JOURNAL OF HENRY BELDON

16th August 1955

Consider that the Ascot Affair went rather well. Assassination attempt on Sheikh foiled in dramatic fashion by IK, with only minor damage to onlookers. Unfortunate that Sheikh's racehorse sustained injury to rear end, but cannot have everything, and anyway have never liked these greasy Arab types. Only fly in ointment one of Alexander's Section 2 agents, who has taken distinct interest in IK. Perhaps should have been less insistent on having trained agent in place as back-up, though prob. just as well was present for damage limitation re. aforementioned foiling of assassination attempt. However, cannot have Section 2 poking their noses into Project Pygmalion, as will be dead giveaway that IK not trained by Survival School. Have not got this far only to have victory snatched from my jaws. Will speed up proceedings and suggest to Alexander that Hungarian Embassy ball in 3 weeks time is perfect opportunity for final test.

1st September 1955

Humph. Alexander has proposed Strothers as man to identify source of IK's espionage training. On plus side, Strothers is complete tit and it would be most satisfying to wipe his eye. On minus side, Strothers awfully good at sniffing out imposters, traitors, double agents etc. so will have to play this carefully.

8th September

Embassy ball tonight. Am not at all nervous.

FROM THE PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF ILLYA NICKOVETCH KURYAKIN

DATE: 8th September 1955
TO: Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin
FROM: Alexei Alexandrovitch Oblomov

Dear Illya,

Owing to a reshuffle in the Politburo's International Relations sub-sub-committee, there's a chance I can get your UNCLE assignment rescinded. Shall I go ahead?

Alyosha

P.S. Any chance of forwarding ten rubles as a mark of gratitude? Owing to my upcoming wedding, I find myself a bit strapped for cash.

FROM THE OFFICIAL FILES OF ALEXANDER WAVERLY

9th September 1955

Dear Mr Waverly,

May I begin by saying how honoured I am to have been selected to carry out the appraisal of the mysterious agent I.N. Kuryakin, who was attached to the security forces at the Hungarian Embassy ball, ostensibly at the request of the KGB. I spent much of the evening observing the subject's demeanour, and was well placed to examine how he dealt with a crisis when an attempt was made to kidnap the Ambassador's wife. Allow me to say, sir, that your suspicions were entirely correct. Given the swiftness of Kuryakin's response when the kidnappers emerged from the tureen of goulash, the effectiveness of his cooperation with our own Mr Solo in bringing down the chandelier upon their heads, and the initiative he displayed in constructing a home-made explosive device out of the resources to hand when Thrush reinforcements showed up, I am forced to conclude that the man is a FRAUD. There is no way he can have been trained by the KGB. In fact, the only logical conclusion is that he is a renegade UNCLE agent, trained at Survival School by our own esteemed Mr Cutter.

Yours respectfully,

Gerald Strothers

FROM THE PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF ILLYA NICKOVETCH KURYAKIN

DATE: 9th September 1955
TO: Alexei Alexandrovitch Oblomov
FROM: Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin

Dear Alyosha,

Grateful though I am for your efforts on my behalf, now that I have had my first real taste of active service, I am resolved to trade in the study of quantum theory for the life of an UNCLE field agent. Nothing in my training had prepared me for the sheer thrill of action, but having experienced it once, I cannot give it up. I could have fought all night. It was like dancing; at least, it is how I imagine dancing would feel, if I had ever done it. Napoleon Solo, who fought alongside me, says that if I come to New York he will teach me how. I suspect he wishes to introduce me to decadent Western ways, but I am sure I can convert him to proper thinking.

With best wishes,

Illya

P.S. Congratulations on your impending nuptials. Please find enclosed ten rubles; don't drink it all at once.

TELEGRAM TO H. BELDON

CONGRATULATIONS STOP YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD DO IT AND INDEED YOU DID STOP ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED BY TRICK WITH CHEWING GUM AND LIGHTER FLUID STOP KURYAKIN NOW PROMOTED SECTION TWO BUT REQUEST SIX WEEKS LEAVE OF ABSENCE TO TEACH "BUILD YOUR OWN EXPLOSIVES" COURSE AT SURVIVAL SCHOOL STOP WAVERLY

FROM THE JOURNAL OF HENRY BELDON

9th September 1955

Triumph! TRIUMPH! Am complete and utter genius! Sucks to Alexander for thinking I couldn't do it, double sucks to Strothers for being silly ass enough to fall for it, and triple sucks to Jules Cutter for being militaristic moron with the pedagogic abilities of a dead slug. This calls for immediate celebration - have ordered twenty cases of champagne delivered to Madam Mercy's Palace of Pleasure with view to visiting tonight. IK can keep eye on office if am slightly indisposed tomorrow. V. useful having fully qualified field agent as right hand man.

16th September 1955

Humph, human nature really most unedifying spectacle. One would think that Kuryakin would be grateful for being rescued from life of languishing in obscure laboratories without a hand grenade in sight, but not a bit of it. On the contrary, has been curiously sulky ever since my triumph at embassy ball. Admittedly has been given rather dull routine work to do, but field work not always glamorous and exciting pursuit of villains, and besides, it's only fair he take on some of my admin after all I have done for him. Have decided to take him with me when transfer to Berlin, as Russian speaker will be handy for dealing with Sov bods, also life much pleasanter with someone else to write reports, liaise with lower sections etc etc. Have put in application to Alexander, along with request for increase in transport budget for Berlin HQ, as do not think it right that man of my standing be driven around in Trabi.

17th September 1955

Note to self: Never, ever forget that Alexander Waverly is wily back-stabbing old fox, who will sell you down the river before he's finished shaking your hand. IK came to see me this morning to inform me that he has put in application to New York HQ, to be partnered with Napoleon Solo. Laughed raucously in his face (in retrospect, was perhaps rather too raucous to be entirely convincing - must work on this). Told him promises of promotion and exciting fieldwork would come to naught, because Solo flighty and irresponsible and bound to get taken out by Thrush bullet before long, and anyway, transfer not possible unless approved by Yours Truly. Turned out, however, that Alexander had already overridden my veto and IK had only dropped in to say goodbye on way to airport.

Am sure Alexander is laughing up sleeve at having pulled fast one on me, getting me to spend months turning useless boffin into top-class field agent, and then snatching him away from under my nose. But he who laughs last, laughs longest. Story not over yet by a long way, and would not be Harry Beldon if had not already formulated brilliant plan to be revenged on the whole pack of them.