January 12, 1973
Alexander Waverly’s Office
“Yes, Miss Rogers?”
“Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin are here for their appointment, sir.”
“Please send them in.” Alexander Waverly closed the files before him and picked up his pipe.
Both Solo and Kuryakin were wheeled in by junior agents. Dr. Evans had agreed to allow the agents temporary leave from medical as long as they stayed in their wheelchairs and let others maneuver them through the corridors of UNCLE headquarters. The agents, dressed in UNCLE issue pajamas and robes were wheeled up to the revolving conference table before the junior agents took their leave.
“Gentlemen, it is good to see you both out of bed.”
“Thank you, sir.” Kuryakin spoke for both of them.
“I have read both of your reports as well as those of Agents Mitchell and Williams. I must say that we could do without any more of that type of excitement!”
“Please, sir,” Napoleon interrupted. “It has been over a week and Illya and I have been completely left out of the loop. We were told that any follow up reports to the affair is on a need to know basis.”
“Yes, Mr. Solo. Dr. Evans requested that we not ‘bother’ you with details until you were no longer restricted to medical. He felt that it was more important for you to be left alone to heal. However, we agreed that now would be the appropriate time.”
“When Edward Lundstrom tried to kill me three of our security agents shot him with tranquilizer darts. As you are aware, one dart is rarely fatal but multiple darts can be. Mr. Lundstrom did not survive.”
Mr. Waverly noticed how his CEA absently rubbed at his wound at the mention of Lundstrom’s attack. He continued, “Terrance Payne, on the other hand, sang like the proverbial bird. Lundstrom had promised his CEA that with me out of the way he would be able to secure a promotion for Payne to become the new Section One chief of UNCLE Northwest. Other individuals in the upper echelon of several other intelligence agencies across the world have also been implicated.
“You know the rest of the story. We knew of the trouble the leaders of KIND had been causing and sent Mr. Kuryakin in under deep cover. Lundstrom contracted KIND to kill me. It was quite by accident that Mr. Kuryakin heard their plans and was able to contact us.”
“And what of Nathan McAvoy and Sergio Mendez?” Kuryakin asked.
“Dead, Mr. Kuryakin. They were killed during the rescue raid on the compound in Montana. Agents involved in the cleanup detail found their bodies. A further search of the premises turned up records that provided us what we needed to round up other members of the organization and their sponsors.
“Do either of you have any questions?”
“Ah, yes sir.” Napoleon took a deep breath before continuing. “There is the matter of Sr. Yrigollen, sir. As you are aware he took over the investigation himself. He seemed hell bent on condemning Illya without the benefit of a hearing. When we tried to tell him of the traitors he would hear none of it. Sir, he basically presided over a kangaroo court, making a mockery of the hearing process!”
“Yes, well...ah...Fernando Yrigollen will no longer be a problem for you or UNCLE, Mr. Solo. Upon review of the situation Section 1 agreed that he went completely against UNCLE’s charter and prescribed protocol. He has been deprogrammed and is no longer with this organization.”
Mr. Waverly fussed with his pipe giving his agents time to digest that bit of news, then cleared his throat before continuing. “And now, gentlemen, we need to discuss your futures with this organization.”
Napoleon glanced sideways at his partner. Illya took in a deep breath. They both sat straighter in their chairs.
Mr. Waverly poked at the two folders in front of him. Both were quite thick and neither agent had any doubt that the folders held their records.
“Mr. Solo, Dr. Evans tells me that you are on the mend and should recover fully. However, it has not escaped my attention, young man, that your fortieth birthday has come and gone. You should have been pulled from the field a month before this fiasco began.”
Napoleon opened his mouth to argue then closed it. He had hoped that his chief hadn’t noticed or had decided to extend his time in the field.
“As of this moment, Mr. Solo, you are no longer eligible for field service. You will continue as head of Section 2 until further notice.”
“Sir, Napoleon is still the most capable agent in the field! You can’t pull him!” Illya spoke up in an effort to intercede for his friend and partner. “ We have always had the best success when we work as a team.”
“Ah, yes, well that does bring me to the next point,” Waverly looked pointedly at the Russian agent across the table from him. At the change of the tone in his voice, Illya sat very still in his seat and looked at his superior almost afraid to hear what in his heart he knew was coming.
“Mr. Kuryakin, You are very lucky to be alive. Dr. Evan’s has informed me that you will recover from your abdominal wounds over time and they, by themselves, would not keep you out of the field. Your injury to your right arm, however, is too severe. You may regain much of its use, but it will never be quite right. Your status as field agent is permanently revoked.
“I’m sorry, son,” Mr. Waverly’s voice gentle with compassion. “You don’t know how much I regret that your loyalty to me and the attempt to save me caused you to sacrifice your standing as an enforcement agent, but I must not let those regrets keep me from making this decision.”
Illya had never looked more vulnerable as he did at that moment. Napoleon looked over to see his friend ramrod straight in his chair, jaw muscles clenching and unclenching. Napoleon reached over placing his hand on his friend’s forearm in a gesture of support.
“What is to become of me, sir?” Kuryakin’s voice almost a whisper. “My Soviet handlers will demand I be sent home if I am no longer any use to UNCLE.”
Mr. Waverly’s eye brows shot up, surprised at how hopeless his agent sounded. He stood and walked over to the blond agent. “Mr. Kuryakin, self pity does not become you! No one said anything about you being of no use to this organization. With your intellect and skills you could have any nonfield position you wanted. You have the labs at your disposal in research, you can train new agents far beyond what survival school has taught them, and I would suspect that Mr. Solo might want you as his assistant, advisor, confident, or whatever word you choose to use when he takes over my position in a year’s time!” He turned and walked back to his chair.
Both agents looked up at their boss after the last statement, then at each other before Napoleon asked, “Excuse me, sir?”
With a sigh Alexander Waverly, chief of Section 1, New York, UNCLE Northwest, sat heavily in his chair. “You heard correctly, Mr. Solo. I’m tired. I’ve been at this business for a long time and it’s time to hand over the reins while I still can. You have known that I favored you as my replacement when the day came.” He chuckled, “I’ve been accused by my colleagues of grooming you for the position since the day I made you number 1, Section 2. I have recently discussed this very thing with my colleagues and they agree with my decision.
“You are the perfect choice and you have proven that you are up to the task during this last sordid affair. You are ready and Mr. Kuryakin is your best choice for backup as he has always been. You will not find a more loyal or capable person.” He paused to let the news sink in. “What do you say, Mr. Solo? Do you think you are ready to move up to Section 1?”
“I...I don’t quite know what to say, sir. I need time to think this through.”
“Well, don’t take too long, Mr. Solo. Times passing and I’m not getting any younger! ” The old man rose from his seat and left the room.
The room was filled with a heavy silence as each agent mulled over Mr. Waverly’s words.
Napoleon looked over at his friend. “I’m sorry, Illya. I always thought you would be back in the field.”
Illya looked up and smiled that bemused half smile he was known for. “It’s okay, Napoleon. I suspected Mr. Waverly would make such a decision. It just was hard to take actually hearing the words spoken.
“And what of you, my friend? What are you going to do?”
Napoleon looked his friend in the eye. “I think, Illya, that I will accept Mr. Waverly’s proposal, but only under one condition. I want you as my second. We have worked together so well that it is only natural that we stand together in Section 1. What do you say, partner? Will you join me?”
Illya reached out with his good hand and clasped Napoleon’s hand in a warm, firm handshake. “Napoleon, I would be honored.”