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The Master

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MFU 12

Meanwhile in New York, Mark Slate was shooting the breeze with a majority of Section Two and Three agents.

"I finally got that pretty little partner of yours to agree to go out with me," Carmine boasted, munching on peanuts.

"And just how, pray tell, did you manage that?" Mark drawled.

Agent Lagussa leaned in close. "I allowed her to talk me into letting her go pick up that damn Ruski." He chuckled. "Shit, I would have paid her to go in my place. It's about time they realized we need to purge ourselves of those sort of people. I use the term people loosely."

"Just what type of people are you referring to?" Mark asked amiably.

"You know." Carmine hung his wrist loosely. "Fureigners."

Mark choked on his coffee. How had this man managed to come through the ranks? He looked around the room, surprised to find that nearly half the agents seemed to agree with him. The other half were looking away. In spite of using the term foreigners they had all gotten the message of what he really meant.

"I beg your pardon, but you do realize that I'm foreign?" Mark asked.

"Yeah, but you speak English."

Mark blinked slowly. Carmine wasn't making sense. Illya spoke impeccable English, his Russian accent barely noticeable after having picked up a slight upper-crust accent while at Cambridge. His French wasn't bad either.

"And another thing - this having women working in the field." Lagussa shook his head. "That's so wrong." He tapped the table with his forefinger to make his point. "Almost as bad as that commie being Number Two when there are others more deserving of that position."

Mark bit his tongue.

"From what I understand, Mr. Kuryakin was more than qualified to be CEO if not for the fact that he's Russian," Jason, a black Section Three agent who looked like a linebacker stood up and towered over Lagussa. "What you're proposing sounds like discrimination to me."

That got Mark thinking. Was that the reason Jason was Section Three and not Section Two? Was the United Network regressing backwards. He sincerely hoped not. Jason was glaring at Carmine and Mark was trying to determine if he should come between the two men when he noticed Mandy Stephenson at the door.

Making her way to where Mark sat, she whispered the magic words. "The helicopter's landing on the roof."

Giving her a bright smile, Mark sprinted for the elevator. He couldn't wait to find out what April's plans were for Carmine. He covered his eyes as the copter settled down and waited for his partner to deplane as the blades slowed down in their turning. He fully expected to see her sexy legs and was somewhat disappointed when a pair of slack-covered legs appeared eventually followed by a blond head. At least she'd completed her assignment and brought home the prodigal son. It was still a bit confusing. He'd heard that Napoleon and Illya had left on an assignment and nobody seemed to know why Illya hadn't returned. He reached in the cockpit and pulled out a duffle bag, then was followed by another dark-haired, slack-clad body appeared.

"Where's April?" Mark shouted over the roar of the blades.

"Baby sitting," Napoleon shouted back.

Mark nodded and shrugged as if it all made sense to him.

Napoleon led the way to Waverly's office, his head held high and his attitude saying 'don't mess with me.'

Illya, a step behind and to his left, with Mark along side. They took the elevator down and got off at the floor to Mr. Waverly's office. As they got close, they found two of the hugest Section Two agents guarding the door. Illya and Mark exchanged glances. This was not normal.

"Waverly only wants to see him." The bigger of the two nodded in Illya's direction.

Keeping his voice deceptively soft, Napoleon leaned close. "I understand there are a couple of openings in Antarctica. I could make that happen for you."

The two agents exchanged looks and you could almost see them wondering if he could do that, after all Mr. Waverly was Number One, Section One.

As if he could read their mind, Mark decided to have some fun. "You do know that you'd be there six months before Mr. Waverly found out, if ever."

"Found out what, Mr. Slate?" Waverly walked up behind them, causing Mark to jump. He turned an intense gaze at Illya. "It's about time you showed up, Mr. Kuryakin. My office now," he ordered as he swept past the men blocking his door.