January 2, 1973
The crisp frost of predawn pressed down around the solitary figure leaving fingers of ice crystals forming on his clothing and the cloth wrapped barrel of his sniper rifle. A nearly full moon rested on the western horizon intermittently covered by clouds. The light reflected off snow laden mountain ridges and danced across tops of conifer trees.
Dressed in white camouflage, the shooter painfully edged closer to the crest of the hill overlooking a well fortified building surrounded by razor sharp concertina wire. His tightly bound waist screamed every time he bumped into a rock or bush. He did his best to ignore the feeling of the warm slick moisture that soaked his long john shirt. He pulled the brown and gray knit mask down around his face for warmth and concealment. It wouldn't do to have the telltale cloud of vapor from his breath give him away. Slowly he brought his high powered field glasses to his eyes to observe the building and grounds. Any sudden movement or accidental flare of moon light off of the lenses could give away his position forcing him to abort his grim mission, and that simply was not an option. If he failed...he refused to even let his mind explore that possibility.
The last intelligence report he received was that the intended target would be brought out at 08:30. At this latitude the eastern horizon wouldn't begin to announce the new day until 07:00. Official sunrise was 08:02. He checked his watch. The green luminous hands indicated the time was 06:15. If the reports were correct he had about an hour and thirty-five minutes to maneuver into the best shooting position and hunker down and wait for the target to present itself. He prayed for the predicted weather front to move in quickly to cover the moon.
December 29, 1972
Napoleon Solo, Number 1 of Section 2 – Enforcement, emitted a heavy sigh, scrubbing his face with his hands as he sat back in the upholstered chair and stretched his back and neck. Reaching to his right he toggled a switch on the communication panel.
"Miss Rogers, please bring in Mr. Kuryakin's latest mission file."
Illya, where the hell are you? Napoleon had not heard from his partner in three months. All he knew was that his partner had been assigned to a deep cover operation involving KIND, an acronym for Killers of Individuals in Need of Destruction, a rival organization to THRUSH. In some ways THRUSH was at least predictable, UNCLE could count on its nemesis to try for world domination through clandestine scientific operations or political influence. However, this new organization was heavily involved in arms dealing to any country willing to pay the exorbitant prices. They were also available for huge sums of money to assassinate anyone who had a contract taken out on them through the organization. It did not matter who the paying party was, or the intended victim, or for which government. Anyone was fair game for the right price.
Illya had reported in on a regular basis to Mr. Waverly, never going more than five days between reports. That is until eight days ago. The cryptic message came over Channel X which was strictly reserved for emergency messages from agents under deep cover who had been compromised. Napoleon had been in Mr. Waverly's office when the message came through.
"The sheep in wolf's clothing has left the fold, watch Red Ridinghood's back."
That was the last anyone heard from Agent Kuryakin before events began to go south!
Immediately after receiving the cryptic message from Agent Kuryakin, UNCLE's New York headquarters was under lockdown protocol and security measures were enforced in triplicate. No less than four section 3 security agents were with Mr. Waverly at all times.
The first half of Illya's message, "the sheep in wolf's clothing has left the fold", meant that Illya's undercover ops was in danger of being compromised and he might have to terminate the mission. The second part, "watch Red Ridinghood's back" indicated that Alexander Waverly was a target for kidnapping, at the very least.
Napoleon had urged his boss to stay within the confines of UNCLE headquarters on a twenty-four hour basis. Mr. Waverly had a well furnished apartment just off of his office for just such emergencies. However, the old man harrumphed at such a notion as he packed his briarwood pipe with his newest tobacco blend.
"Mr. Solo, do you honestly think that I'm going to settle for being holed up indefinitely in a security cocoon? Why if that were to happen then both THRUSH and KIND will have already been successful! No, young man, I will not let the likes of them dictate how I shall lead my life."
"Sir, it would just be until we can find out their plan and put a stop to it."
"Absolutely not, Mr. Solo. I have an urgent meeting in Washington, DC, and I will be there. As a matter of fact, I have an UNCLE jet waiting for me tomorrow for a 07:00 departure time."
Napoleon drew his breath to continue the debate. Before he could open his mouth his boss simply said, "Dismissed," and turned back to the files before him. The CEA lowered his eyes and acquiesced. "Yes Sir."
That was seven days ago. Two days later, the Chief of UNCLE Northwest, disappeared off the radar. Literally. During his return flight from Washington, D.C., flight control lost contact with the jet. There had been no communication from the pilot and no report of crashes. The jet simply disappeared. Two days after the disappearance the pilot and the four section 3 agents were found dead, each with a bullet to the back of the head, but no sign of Waverly. Napoleon truly felt the yoke of responsibility that his boss generally wore when he knocked on five different doors Christmas day to bring bad news to the families of the men who were killed.
December 29, 1972
Napoleon closed Kuryakin's file. Mr. Waverly had not had Napoleon "read in" to the deep ops mission as the information was on a need-to-know basis. Now that he was, for the time being, filling in for Mr. Waverly, he felt it was time to acquaint himself with his partner's mission. Illya had been picked for this particular mission because of his knowledge of weaponry, ability to speak multiple languages, and excellent marksmanship which were all qualities that recruiters from KIND looked for. In addition, the Russian agent's fair complexion and Aryan looks would appeal to those in the organization who were recruited from White Supremacist groups.
His partner had been involved with missions of this kind before, hell they both have, but what left Napoleon feeling like he had the wind knocked out of him was the presence of a highly unusual document which bore Illya's signature tucked in the back of the file. It stated that for reasons of complete secrecy between governments, if Illya's cover was compromised there would be no rescue. Any involvement by UNCLE would be denied and Illya would be without protection or support. He would be effectively left out in the cold. The fact that Illya acknowledged this possibility and had signed his name in agreement made Napoleon's blood run cold.
December 31, 1972
Two days later the last cryptic message from Illya came into the communication center. Immediately Napoleon was called down to hear the recorded message.
"Nose of Oro y Plata, RRH fini 36 hours, can't stop it" **
Napoleon ordered the communications agent to have Agents Mitchell, Washington, and Saunders report immediately to Waverly's office. He called down to the map room and requested topographic maps of western Montana and the eastern panhandle of Idaho delivered to the office as well.
"Gentlemen," Solo addressed the agents around him, "we have reliable intelligence that Mr. Waverly is being held in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana on the western border." He unfolded one of the topo maps and pointed to a section of the western Montana that looked like a nose protruding just below the panhandle of Idaho. "It is your job to gather the necessary reconnaissance photos from the military and form an extraction team to safely bring Mr. Waverly back, and gentlemen…you have less than 35 hours before his execution. Any questions?"
"All right, good luck gentlemen."
The agents gathered their maps and headed to their operations room to plan for their mission.
January 2, 1973
Solo had been at the UNCLE New York headquarters for ten and one half days straight, eating his meals at the desk and catching cat naps on the couch. He was exhausted. Between the kidnapping and threatened execution of Alexander Waverly and worry for his missing partner he hadn't had much sleep. Without intending to he had put his head down on folded arms at Mr. Waverly's desk and dozed off. A loud piercing buzz awoke him.
Napoleon Solo impatiently punched the intercom's button when it buzzed, breaking into his half dream state.
"Yes, Miss Rogers?"
"Mr. Solo, the extraction team has reported in. They are in place and ready. They will maintain radio silence until the mission is completed."
"Thank you. Miss Rogers, would you mind making a fresh pot of coffee? I would greatly appreciate it. I'm going to take a quick shower. Please hold all calls unless it's the extraction team calling in."
"Of course, Mr. Solo."
The extraction team consisted of twenty of UNCLES' top agents. They had located the KIND compound nestled in a high valley in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana.
Dressed in cold weather gear to ward off the subzero degree weather, ten teams of two slowly and methodically surrounded the area. They were in position and ready for an assault on the building by the evening before. Each agent was wrapped in a down sleeping bag to keep warm. There were no fires and only cold rations to eat. Not one person complained. They were willing to sit and risk frostbite for as long as it took if it meant getting Alexander Waverly out unharmed. Each team was isolated from the others as they were under complete radio silence.
As each team waited for the predetermined time for starting the assault, the agents constantly scanned the surrounding area for scouting patrols from KIND's fortress. Two of the teams were to stay in their hiding places when the raid began with the assignment of stopping any escapees from taking off over the mountains. Agents Saunders and Kozlow were one of those assigned teams.
Agent Saunders slowly glassed the mountain side below him. There was just enough moonlight peeking from behind an increasing cloud cover to allow for careful observations. Just as the moon came out from behind a cloud Saunders detected movement about 100 yards below him and to the left. He elbowed his partner.
"Stan," he whispered, "take a look down there. Low and to the left about eleven o'clock."
Stan Kozlow took the binoculars and checked the area Saunders had indicated. At that moment a cloud fully covered the moon and the mountainside was dark once again.
"I don't see anything, Partner, but we'll keep an eye out." They both settled back and turned their attention to the compound below with an occasional glance to their left.
The sniper was glad for the weather front coming over the mountains. The added cloud cover made it easier for him to belly crawl over rocks and brush without being seen. Finally he was in place covered by a white camouflage net to break up the outline of his body. His set the bipod legs of his rifle down and took aim at the doorway he knew the target would exit. Satisfied that all was as it should be, he loaded the special cartridge into the chamber and slowly, quietly slid the bolt home with a barely audible click.
In cold the temperatures, sounds were sharper and a slight breeze blowing uphill carried a soft click to the ears of Saunders and Kozlow. The two agents looked at each other and quickly turned their binoculars in the direction of the sound. Nothing. Saunders kept glassing that area while Kozlow waited for the signal. It was almost 08:20.
The south door in the compound opened and a handful of warmly dressed guards emerged dragging a man dressed in thin pajamas and in bare feet through a foot of snow. His hands were shackled behind him. His feet were shackled with a short length that made walking almost impossible. They dragged the prisoner to a stone wall and slipped the chain for his hands through a metal ring and left him as they retreated about ten yards. Snow began to fall… heavily.
They're early! The sniper took careful aim through his rifle scope and set the crosshairs on the chest of the prisoner. The falling snow threatened to obscure his target. He had only one shot and knew he couldn't afford to miss. He took a deep breath, slowly exhaled half of it, and held it as he slowly squeezed the trigger, trying to pull it between the beats of his heart.
Above him Saunders once again noticed movement and now that it was light he could see the sniper's nest. "Son of a bitch! Someone's down there!" He brought his rifle around to draw down on the sniper as all hell broke loose.
The sniper squeezed off his shot finding its mark. A red spot blossomed on the prisoner's chest and Mr. Waverly fell instantly, his torso falling forward. Only the chains on his hands mounted to the iron rings kept him from falling to the ground. His body hung grotesquely bent at the waist.
A mortar round from one of the UNCLE teams landed in a courtyard at the other end of the compound to signal the beginning of the assault. Swarms of UNCLE agents descended upon the compound blowing doors and racing through the building. Two teams ran to Mr. Waverly and gently lowered him to the ground.
In the same instant, Saunders fired a shot at the sniper hitting him. The man raised up, looked up hill and stumbled in their direction. Kozlow also fired. His shot slammed into the sniper catching him in his midsection causing the man to pitch backward and slide down the hill about twenty feet.
The leader of the UNCLE raid called all clear over the radios. Saunders and Kozlow left their cover and climbed down to the downed man. He lay face down in the snow his right arm covered in blood was splayed out to the side. Kozlow used his boot to flip the man over. The white camouflage parka was soaked in blood. The man's chest heaved as he gasped from the pain. Saunders reached down and removed the mask in one quick motion and jerked his hand back as if bitten by a snake.
"What the hell?" Kozlow looked over at his partner. He followed his gaze down to the sniper's face.
"Damn!" was his only response.
Blond hair spilled out onto the snow already mixed with blood, and looking up at them as snowflakes began to cover his face were the pain filled blue eyes of Illya Kuryakin.
** Montana's motto "Oro y Plata" Spanish for gold and silver. If you look at the western border of Montana you will see what looks like a profile of a man.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
The Traitorous Affair Part 2
Disbelief changed quickly to unbridled anger. Agent Kozlow kicked the wounded Kuryakin viciously.
"You fucking, traitorous, son of a bitch! Why did you do it, Kuryakin? Why did you kill Waverly?"
The Russian tried to respond but was unable to talk through the red haze of pain.
Kozlow swept his foot back to kick the man again, but Saunders grabbed his arm. "Easy, Stan, that's not the way to get answers. We'll take him down to Agent Mitchell. He'll decide what to do with him."
"I say we just kill him now and save UNCLE the cost and waste of time of a trial! He sure as hell didn't give the old man any kind of a chance."
"Enough, Kozlow. That's not the way we do things or we'd be no better than those people down there!" Truth be told, I'd like to kill him myself, right here, thought Agent Saunders, but he refused to succumb to the temptation. His belief and respect for the credo of UNCLE kept him from acting on his rage.
Reaching down, Saunders grabbed the extra material on the shoulder of Kuryakin's parka and indicated for Kozlow to do likewise. Together, and none too carefully, they dragged the wounded agent down the mountainside. Kuryakin lost consciousness within the first few yards as he was dragged over boulders and deadfall.
Agent Peter Mitchell directed the cleanup operation. Some of his men gathered the prisoners and prepared them for transportation to the Helena field office, others searched the building for more hostages and booby traps. He personally looked after Mr. Waverly.
The body of the chief of UNCLE Northwest was laid out on a stretcher in the bed of a pickup truck. A blanket had been draped over it. Once they were out of the mountains he would be transferred to an ambulance. Mitchell walked over to the stretcher and pulled back the blanket. The craggy features of the chief had softened, the facial muscles were flaccid.
Mitchell's eyes welled with unshed tears as he gazed upon the man that had brought him back from the brink of despair so many years ago. Peter had started as a Section 3 agent. Soon after he joined UNCLE his wife and five year old son were killed in a car wreck. Mr. Waverly had kept close watch on the young agent and whenever he saw despair start to descend upon Peter, he would make a point of inviting him over to the house for dinner especially during holidays. He would find assignments that would keep Peter so busy he wouldn't have time to think about his loss.
Eventually, the Old Man had promoted him to Section 2. There, under the supervision of Agents Solo and Kuryakin, Agent Mitchell once again began to feel that life had a purpose. He rose through the ranks of Section 2 until he was just below his friend and mentor, Illya Kuryakin, in rank.
"I'm sorry, Sir," he murmured, "I failed the mission, I failed you." Mitchell's voice shook with self recrimination.
Agent Mitchell heard angry, raised voices behind him. He replaced the blanket over Waverly's face and turned to see what the commotion was about. Two of his agents were dragging a bloodied man between them. Surrounding them was a large group of his agents taunting and prodding the man with their rifles. Not pleased with the mob-like mentality being displayed by his men, Mitchell stepped toward the group and demanded what was going on.
"We found the bastard that killed Waverly," crowed Kozlow. "Wait 'til you see who it is!" The two men dropped their burden.
"I'm sorry, Peter," Agent Saunders spoke softly. "I know that you and Kuryakin are friends."
"What?" Mitchell looked at the man now lying at his feet. He reached down and pulled the parka's hood away from his ace. "How…? Are you sure…?" he stammered.
"We saw him take the shot," Kozlow angrily replied. "We just couldn't react in time! That Commie traitor killed the old man in cold blood."
"It's true, Peter," Saunders confirmed. "I wish it weren't."
Peter Mitchell looked down at his unconscious friend. "Yeah," he muttered, "me, too." He couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that Illya Kuryakin would betray UNCLE or Mr. Waverly. There were too many times when relaxing over a beer together that Illya mentioned the debt he owed Mr. Waverly for bringing him into the UNCLE organization.
He noticed that Kuryakin was shivering uncontrollably, probably a combination of shock and exposure. "All right. The two of you get a couple of other agents to help you carry him into the building. We found an infirmary which should have the needed medical supplies until we can get a helicopter in here to evacuate Agent Kuryakin to an UNCLE facility. Get Agent Richards to help you. He used to be a medic in Viet Nam."
As the litter that carried Kuryakin was carried away, Mitchell grabbed two of his most trusted agents. "I want you two to put a guard on Kuryakin. No one is to interrogate him or enter his cell unless on my orders. The men are pretty emotional over Waverly's death and might try and do something stupid. Let's keep that from happening, okay?"
January 2, 1973
Napoleon Solo stood at the window in Mr. Waverly's office. He was on edge. An icy cold lump gnawed at his gut and the sixth sense that good agents develop nagged at him. Something was wrong. He looked at his watch for the hundredth time in the past hour, 11:30. There was a two hour time difference between Eastern Standard Time and Rocky Mountain Standard time. If the raid started at the prescribed time then they should…
"Mr. Solo, there is a scrambled communication from the extraction team coming through to you now, sir."
"Thank you, Lisa." Solo nervously strode over to the communications console. "Solo here, report."
"Mr. Solo, we failed." Napoleon could hear the shakiness and sound of defeat in Peter Mitchell's voice and he felt his own voice catch.
"Explain, Mitchell." He really didn't want to hear it.
"Sir, there was a sniper hidden on the mountainside to the east of the complex. When the guards brought Mr. Waverly out for execution the sniper beat them to it and shot him." Mitchell paused to steady his voice. "Mr. Waverly's dead."
Napoleon felt the blood drain from his face. He swallowed hard before continuing. "Did you get the bastard that shot him, Peter? Tell me you got him!"
"Yes, sir. Two of the agents shot him. He's badly wounded but still alive. Napoleon…," Agent Mitchell hesitated, "Napoleon, it was Illya. He's the one who shot Mr. Waverly."
Oh dear God! Illya? How? And why? If Napoleon's face was pale before it was positively ashen now. He sat heavily into the chair. "Pete…Peter are you sure?"
"Unfortunately yes, Napoleon. I wish it weren't true. What are your orders, sir?"
Solo paused to think.
"Mr. Solo? What are your orders?"
"Ah, sorry Peter. Get Kuryakin stabilized and I want you to personally fly him and Mr. Waverly's remains back here by charter jet. We will perform the autopsy on Mr. Waverly here and interrogate Kuryakin as well. Put Agent Washington in charge of the cleanup operation."
"Yes, sir. Channel D out."
Napoleon Solo never felt more alone. His boss was gone, assassinated, and apparently at the hands of his best friend and partner. What the hell happened?
He toggled the intercom. "Miss Rogers, I'll be in conference for the next couple of hours. Please cancel any appointments and I don't want to be disturbed."
The next hour was spent in high security level phone conferences with the remaining Section 1 chiefs of UNCLE. He reported the death of Mr. Waverly and as much as it pained him to do so, he reported the apprehension of Illya Kuryakin as the alleged murderer. He confirmed that a charter plane was on its way to New York to deliver the body and Kuryakin.
"You will, of course, incarcerate Mr. Kuryakin upon his arrival, Mr. Solo?" The question was asked by Edward Lundstrom of U.N.C.L.E. Northeast.
"Yes, sir. He is currently under medical care, but he will be placed in one of the medical holding cells upon his arrival."
"All right, Mr. Solo. The four of us will meet and decide the next step. Meanwhile make sure that Kuryakin is stripped off all privileges as well as methods of self destruction! We need to find out what caused him to be involved in such a traitorous act. We'll be in touch with you tomorrow."
"Yes, sir." The connection was broken.
Solo rose and strode over to the bar, pouring himself a finger of scotch and downed it in one swallow. All he could do now is wait for Agent Mitchell's arrival with his precious cargo and prisoner.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
January 2, 1973, 20:00
"Mr. Solo, the transport from the airfield by helicopter will soon be arriving. It's ETA is ten minutes."
"Thank you, Miss Rogers. Please have all of the corridors cleared. No one is to be in the hallways." Solo didn't want any hysterics when Mr. Waverly was taken to the morgue and he wanted to protect Illya from the anger that the personnel would understandably feel towards him. He had ordered the extraction team that there was to be no discussion of the situation, but he knew the rumors would be flying anyway.
The acting chief of Section 1 made his way up to the helicopter pad on the rooftop and waited for the rotors to stop before approaching the aircraft. He unconsciously adjusted the black armband on his left sleeve. There was also an honor guard up there to bring Mr. Waverly's body from the aircraft to the morgue.
After the corpse had been delivered, another gurney was unloaded. Illya Kuryakin was swathed in several layers of blankets; every available inch of the gurney was loaded with monitors and IV containers. Medical personnel swarmed around the wounded agent and made ready to bustle him off to the special wing in medical that is reserved for prisoners.
Before they left with him, Solo asked them to give him a minute of privacy with Illya. He looked down at his friend. Illya's face was pale and drawn, pinched with pain and…something else. He was conscious. Napoleon touched his left arm.
"Hey, Partner, what the hell happened?"
"Na…Napoleon. How long?" the words came out haltingly.
"What do you mean, Illya?"
"How long since I shot Wa…Waverly?"
Napoleon took an involuntary step back. He felt gut punched as his friend had just admitted shooting Waverly.
"About eleven hours ago."
"Napoleon, don't le…let them do autopsy! Please don't let them do…Waverly's not dead, yet."
He's delusional! thought Napoleon.
Illya tried to grab Napoleon's lapel, but his wrists were handcuffed to the gurney's frame. "Please! Promise me….no autopsy. Needs antidote. No good after thirty hours." His eyes were clear, the usual blue irises were steel gray and he looked at Napoleon with an intensity that he had never seen.
"Okay, Tovarisch. We'll postpone the autopsy. Now let's get you down to medical."
With an anguished cry Illya whispered, "No! No autopsy!" And passed out.
"Get him down to medical, now!" Solo ordered, then retreated to his…Mr. Waverly's office.
January 2, 1973 20:15
Napoleon Solo heard the woosh of the pneumatic doors click shut behind him. Approaching the command console he flipped the switch to lock the doors. He needed time to think! He wanted to give into his emotions and heave the Waterford crystal ashtray across the room, but didn't. Get a hold of yourself, Solo! If you can't hold It together during this crisis then you might as well resign when it is over. How did the Old Man do it day in and day out?Instead, he went over to the bar that Mr. Waverly kept well stocked and poured a third of a glass of scotch and downed it in one gulp.
Peter Mitchell dropped off Illya Kuryakin's bloody parka, rifle, and other personal effects at the evidence locker where the items would be kept and studied during the investigation. Next he made his way to the cafeteria. He was bone tired and upset. The loss of Alexander Waverly and the involvement of his superior and friend, Illya, left him feeling off balance and numb.Histeam had been in full mission mode since Kuryakin's message alerted Solo about Waverly's scheduled execution, and he could feel the exhaustion creeping up on him.
Grabbing a cup of coffee and a stale sandwich he sat down at an isolated table to mull over the events of the last few days. Something nagged at him, sending tendrils of doubt through his memory. Why would Kuryakin warn headquarters of KIND's plan to kidnap and execute the chief of UNCLE Northwest, only to kill the man himself? It just didn't make sense. He had to talk to Solo. Gulping the last of the coffee and dumping the half eaten sandwich into the garbage, Mitchell headed for Mr. Waverly's office. Lisa Rogers was still on duty and announced Agent Mitchell's request to speak with Napoleon.
Napoleon unlocked the doors and ushered his now top ranking agent into the office. "What can I do for you, Peter?"
The two men conferred over the next couple of hours, pouring over Kuryakin's mission file, his encrypted messages, and the events of the morning before. Both men desperately wanted to believe that Kuryakin wasn't a murderer, but couldn't find enough evidence to exonerate him, a least not based solely on the two short messages transmitted by him.
Exhaustion made it necessary to take a rest. Napoleon sent Mitchell home. Because of both physical and mental fatigue, Napoleon Solo forgot about the words spoken by Kuryakin when he was brought to headquarters. Solo had discounted them anyway, thinking that Kuryakin was simply delirious.
January 2, 1973 22:30
After two hours of probing for bullets and stitching up internal rips and tears, Dr. Phillips asked his assistant to finish closing up the wounds while he reported his findings to Mr. Solo. He called up to Lisa Rogers and asked to have Solo come down to Medical.
Dr. Phillips watched as Napoleon Solo walked the long corridor from the elevator to the nurses' station. The agent's usual self assured presence was missing. Instead, the doctor saw a man who was clearly conflicted with worry for his friend and his duty as acting chief forced to require confinement for Agent Kuryakin. Self doubt was etched on his face. The doctor stepped forward to greet Solo.
"Napoleon, we just finished surgery on Agent Kuryakin."
"How is he, doctor? Will he live?" Napoleon asked, his eyes expressing his concerns.
"Oh yes, he'll live. The bullet and stab wound in his abdomen miraculously missed his vital organs, however, the knife wound did nick his spleen causing a high volume of blood loss. We have prescribed some heavy duty antibiotics to fight the possibility of peritonitis or other infections. The wound to his right arm is worrisome. The bullet shattered the upper part of his humerus then veered up into the right scapula. With months of physical therapy he may regain full use of his arm, but it might not be enough to keep him field certified."
"Ah, well, right now that's the least of his worries I'm afraid," Napoleon answered softly not making eye contact with the doctor. He'll be lucky if he isn't executed within the next week, he thought. "May I see him, Doctor Phillips?"
Phillips gently clasped Solo's shoulder. "Sure, Napoleon, but only for a few minutes. He'll be up from recovery in about an hour. I'll call you when he's ready to be transferred to his room."
Solo went back to the office to wait for the call. He must have dozed off and was startled by the sound of the phone ringing.
January 2, 1973 23:30
"Mr. Solo, you can wait in Room MHC3. He'll be up from the Recovery Room in a few minutes."
Solo rushed out the office door to the elevator. Napoleon walked down the long corridor leading to the security wing on the medical floor. Room MHC3 OR MEDICAL HOLDING CELL, was a misnomer. It wasn't a hospital room as much as it was a high security detention cell with monitors and a hospital bed fitted with restraints. The wall facing the corridor was constructed from heavy metal bars offering no privacy for the occupant. A small observation room at one end allowed agents to watch a prisoner while they themselves remained unseen.
As he approached the area, Solo saw Agent Bill Williams who was the head of Section 3 Security, and one of the Section 3 agents going over the cell and discussing the scheduling of agents to guard the cell. Both men turned towards the acting Chief of Section 1.
"Good evening, Mr. Solo. Er, I'm sorry, sir, that it's Mr. Kuryakin that we are preparing for." He studied Solo's face trying to judge what the man's reaction was regarding his partner's incarceration.
"Evening, Bill. Thanks for taking charge of the arrangements. I, ah, came to see how Mr. Kuryakin is doing after surgery. They should be bringing hi…"
Before he could finish the sentence the elevator doors opened and Illya's gurney was wheeled out and into the cell. Napoleon stood back to allow the medical personnel to transfer his friend onto the bed, put the restraints around his ankles and wrists, and set up the medical monitors and IV drips. They were finished within 5 minutes.
Napoleon stood, hands in his pockets, watching the Russian agent. Kuryakin was still asleep. His usually bright blond hair was dark, in need of shampooing. His eyebrows knitted together as he fought the pain that the medicines could not erase. His pallor, more pale than usual, gave him the appearance of blending in with the white sheets.
With a deep sigh, Solo approached the bed. It greatly distressed him to see his friend restrained and behind bars. Cupping his hand over his friend's uninjured hand, he spoke softly to him.
"Illya, what the hell happened out there, my friend? Why did you do it?" his voice choked. "Tovarisch, I don't know if I can help you out of this mess, but I promise that I will launch a full investigation." To Napoleon's surprise, Illya's eyes flew open. For a brief moment his eyes were clear, lacking any of the usual post operative confusion most patients have.
"Napoleon?" His voice was raspy.
"Hey, Partner. How are you feeling?"
Kuryakin swallowed with difficulty. Napoleon offered him some ice chips. Ignoring Solo's question he asked, "How's Mr. Waverly?"
The CEA looked away unable to make eye contact with his friend.
"He's dead, Illya. You killed him!"
"No! I shot him, yes, but I did not kill him."
"Illya, he's lying in the morgue for Christ's sake!" Solo's voice caught with emotion, from grief for his boss and mentor and from worry as to why his partner would do such a horrific deed.
"No!" the prisoner coughed. "I shot him with a tranquilizer. Please, Napoleon, have…" his voice faded as he succumbed to a drug induced sleep. The pain meds that were injected to his IV drip finally took hold.
Napoleon Solo was dumbstruck. Tranquilizer? He then remembered how insistent Illya had been about not having an autopsy performed on Waverly. "Shit!" Pulling his communicator from his pocket he opened an internal channel down to the medical examiner's office. "Dr. Thompson, do not do any procedure on Mr. Waverly! I'll be down with Dr. Phillips in just a minute!" But there was no answer.
Turning to Bill Williams, "Bill, I want your best men guarding Mr. Kuryakin."
"No, worries, Mr. Solo, but Kuryakin couldn't escape in his condition, anyway."
"You don't understand. You are here to protect him. There are too many agents who wouldn't think twice about Illya having an 'accident' right now. You need to keep him safe. Do I make myself clear?"
"Sure. Of course, Mr. Solo. You have my word."
"Good. I will check back with you later."
Seeing Dr. Phillips down the hall, Solo called out to him. "Dr. Phillips grab your medical bag and come with me!"
Both men entered the morgue at a run. Napoleon told the doctor of his conversation with Illya when he was in the cell, and what Illya had said when being transported from the helicopter to medical. They saw Waverly's body was stored in one of the coolers. Dr. Thompson had apparently left for the day.
Dr. Phillips reached for the chief's carotid artery. No pulse. Next he listened to the man's heart with a stethoscope, nothing. He lifted an eyelid and gently touched an eyeball checking for a blink response. Again, nothing. He looked at the pupils of those vacant steel gray eyes and found that they were dilated. He shined a light into the eyes and nearly shouted for joy. The reaction was extremely slow, but Waverly's pupils were trying to contract from the bright light. Phillips listened again to the heart and kept the stethoscope there for a longer time. Yes, there it was. It was weak and extremely slow, but there was a heart beat. The doctor looked up at Napoleon with a look of total disbelief.
"Illya's right, Mr. Waverly is alive, barely, but alive nonetheless."
Solo let out a deep breath and sigh of relief. "That's great news, doctor! Now we can give him the antidote and get him well."
"Wait, Mr. Solo. The good news is that he is alive. The bad news is that we don't know what type of antidote to use. If Illya concocted the tranquilizer then he must have the antidote. If we give Mr. Waverly the wrong one we would be the ones killing him."
"Can't the lab determine what was used through blood samples?"
"Yes, but that could take over twenty-four hours! And we don't know how long Mr. Waverly has before the antidote will no longer be effective!"
Napoleon thought for a moment, something Illya had said to him. "Wait, Illya said something about thirty hours from the time he was shot. He told me that about four hours ago." He did some quick calculating. He looked the doctor in the eye, his own eyes filled with worry. "Waverly has only fifteen hours left, max."
"That should be plenty of time for Illya to tell us what we need," Dr. Phillips responded. "He should be alert enough in another hour or…"
"Dr. Phillips to medical! Dr. Phillips to medical, code blue!"
Phillips ran to the ME's phone and called medical. "Phillips here, what's going on?" He listened then dropped the receiver onto the phone's cradle and ran for the elevator. "Come on, we need to get up there fast!"
They entered the elevator and slapped the button that would take them to medical. The doctor turned to Solo and explained.
"It's Kuryakin," he said. "He's had a reaction of some kind to the medicine." He swallowed hard and sorrow filled his eyes. "He's gone…he's gone into cardiac arrest. They're working on resuscitating him now."
As one, the two men exited the elevator and ran down the hall to Kuryakin's cell. The hospital bed was surrounded by nurses, technicians, and another doctor.
Illya's body arched as the jolt of electricity went through him. The attending doctor put more conducting jelly on the paddles and barked, "Again!"
Napoleon watched in horror as his best friend's body arched once more.
"Come on, Kuryakin! Fight it!" Dr. Phillips yelled. He had stepped in replacing one of the nurses. "Epinephrine and cardiac needle, stat!"
Within seconds Dr. Phillips was handed the syringe. Carefully he inserted the long needle into Kuryakin's chest, directly into the heart. As he withdrew the needle he watched the heart monitor, looking for a response.
Napoleon had been gently directed to the cell door where he would be out of the way, but could still observe what was happening to his partner. When he saw Dr. Phillips insert the cardiac needle and there was no change on the monitor, he backed away and sat down. His hearing dimmed and time seemed to slow down as the scene took on a surreal quality. His face was ashen. He felt totally out of control. Waverly dead and now Illya. What the hell is happening? He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees and his face in his open palms. His thoughts were interrupted. Someone was talking to him.
"I'm sorry?" He looked up to see the head nurse standing there.
She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Mr. Solo, it's okay. They have revived Mr. Kuryakin! His heart is beating normally. It was close, but he's okay, now."
Relief flooded the CEA's face as he stood and rushed to his friend. Dr. Phillips stopped him. "He needs the rest Mr. Solo, and so do you. You'll be no help to UNCLE if you collapse from exhaustion."
"What happened, doctor?" We think he had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs. We've drawn some blood and sent it to the lab. Now go get some rest!"
Seeing hesitancy in the agent's face, the doctor said, "Please, Napoleon, I'll call you if there is any change."
"You're right, I do need to get some shuteye, but doctor, I need to know the second he awakens. We've got to find out about that antidote. We don't have much time left if we are to save Mr. Waverly." He turned and left for Waverly's office.
January 3, 1973 02:15 Medical Holding Cell
The overhead lights in the detention cell were dimmed, and to the casual observer the patient lying on the hospital bed slept quietly. The chaos from an hour ago had settled down, the emergency personnel had left since Kuryakin was no longer in danger.
However, Illya Kuryakin was hardly asleep. He woke up feeling like he had been kicked by a mule. His body screamed with pain from the wounds he had received the morning before. Although completely awake he found he could not move, but not because of the physical restraints. No, he had been chemically restrained! Every voluntary muscle was paralyzed including his vocal chords. Not that it mattered because he couldn't open his mouth or eyes, and the respirator would keep him from speaking. If it were not for the respirator his lungs would not have worked and he would quickly suffocate. Yet, involuntary muscles including his heart were functioning perfectly.
Illya Kuryakin was not a man given to panic or anxiety, but he found himself experiencing both. At least with physical restraints he could fight against them and feel like he was doing something to try and get out of a bad situation. Yet being chemically restrained left him without any sense of control. He was totally helpless, and this frightened Illya more than any THRUSH torture.
The nurse assigned to monitor Kuryakin sat at one of the desks on the other side of the bars. Earlier one of the doctors had muted the sounds produced by the monitoring equipment so the patient could sleep undisturbed. She occasionally looked up for a visual check on her patient before turning back to her paperback book. All appeared to be well and she was glad that the blond agent was peacefully sleeping after doctors' battle to restart his heart. She had always been fond of the man. In spite of his reputation for being a loner and unfriendly, she had always found him courteous and could usually elicit a slight smile from the man when passing each other in the hallways. She couldn't believe that he could have possibly harmed Mr. Waverly.
January 3 1973 02:30 Three blocks from UNCLE Headquarters
No one paid attention to the man as he stepped into a phone booth. The collar of his overcoat was turned up to ward off the cold chill of the January wind. His hat was pulled down over his brow. Both also served to obscure his features.
Lifting the receiver off of the hook, the individual simultaneously pulled a small boxy communicator from his coat pocket. He figured he was far enough away from UNCLE headquarters to risk communicating with his superiors. He had no intention of using the phone but kept the receiver to his ear for the sake of appearances.
"Open KINDer station 16."
"Station 16 open. What is your report?"
"The old man is not dead, repeat old man not dead."
"This is a scrambled line, report in detail."
"Agent Kuryakin was the one who shot him. He shot Waverly with a tranquilizer. I assume he used a blood bullet to make the shot look realistic. He, in turn, was shot by UNCLE agents and is currently incarcerated in the medical unit. UNCLE superiors think he assassinated Waverly."
"Does anyone else know that Waverly is alive?"
"Napoleon Solo. He was the one who brought my attention to it. Kuryakin told him."
"And is there an antidote to the tranquilizer Kuryakin used?"
If there is one, Kuryakin didn't have the opportunity to give it to Waverly. Without it Waverly will succumb in less than thirteen hours. Kuryakin is the only one who knows the correct antidote."
"The bastard is as good as dead. I slipped poison into the antibiotics. The attending doctor saw he was in medical distress. I had no choice but to help resuscitate him to keep up appearances. I injected him with a paralytic into his iv line. He is chemically restrained for the moment. I did not give him a sedative so when he wakes and realizes he's paralyzed he should panic resulting in an extremely high heart rate. I will be called in to consult. At that point I can inject him with more poison. His death will appear to be the result of heart failure."
"Make it so. This way we get two UNCLE's for the price of one, an unexpected but highly desirable bonus!"
"Yes sir. But what about Solo?"
"We'll take care of Solo, in due time." With those words the transmission was terminated. Dr. Phillips stepped out of the phone booth and returned to UNCLE headquarters.
January 3, 1973 01:30 An hour earlier
Napoleon Solo did not get a chance to sleep. Just as he lay down on the couch the office phone rang. Jumping up he reached the desk in two strides.
"Mr. Solo, this is Dr. Evans, I was the attending physician when Mr. Kuryakin went into cardiac arrest. The lab just sent up the results of the blood drawn from Mr. Kuryakin."
"What did they find, Dr. Evans?"
"He did not have a reaction to the antibiotics, Mr. Solo. Rather it was a reaction of what was in the antibiotics. He was poisoned! It is a fast acting one designed to cause heart failure. It is already out of his system. He is, however, still in danger as his heart is weakened. We also found evidence that another drug was injected. The lab is still trying to isolate and analyze the substance to find out what it is."
" How?" Napoleon sat heavily into the old man's chair. "He was under medical supervision since he arrived. Who could have done this?"
"I would rather discuss this with you in private, Mr. Solo. Would you like to come down here or I come to you?"
"I think here would be better, Dr. Evans. I'll see you in a few minutes."
January 3, 1973 02:55 Medical Holding Cell
As Dr. Phillips returned to headquarters he planned how he would get rid of Kuryakin. He knew he could pull it off, it was simply a matter of timing to get the deed done and throw off any suspicion that he was the cause of Kuryakin's demise.
The blare of the loud speaker greeted him as he entered the corridor that led to the security wing. "Code blue cancelled. Nurses return to your stations, Section 3 agents return to previous posts."
A nurse rushed by. Dr. Phillips recognized it was the head nurse. "Elma, what's happening?"
Elma took one look at the doctor and burst into tears. "Mr. Kuryakin's dead. It's all my fault. I didn't know…and now he's gone." She started to move away. Phillips took her gently by the shoulders.
"What do you mean, Elma. What happened?"
"I assigned nurse Latsky to watch Mr. Kuryakin . When I walked in to see how both the nurse and Mr. Kuryakin were doing, I saw she was reading a book instead of observing him!
Mr. Kuryakin…he looked like he was sleeping peacefully. Then I noticed…oh my God, I noticed that the heart monitor's alarm system was muted. His heart was beating at over 200 beats per minute and had been for quite some time! I paged Dr. Evans…" she broke down and sobbed into Phillip's shoulder, "by the time he and Mr. Solo got here, Mr. Kuryakin was too far gone. He died within minutes of their arrival."
"Shhhh, it's okay, Elma. Mr. Kuryakin was very sick, it wasn't your fault. You shouldn't blame yourself, Honey. Shhhh, it wasn't your fault," he crooned into her ear, stroking her hair, while secretly smiling to himself. Sometimes little annoyances had a way of taking care of themselves, and Kuryakin was definitely an annoyance…but not anymore.
He gently took the nurse's arm and led her towards the ladies' room. "Go wash your face, dear. Try not to think about it, his death wasn't your fault." And with those words he turned and headed towards the security cell.
Running down the corridor of the security wing, his face a mask of concern, Dr. Phillips entered the cell. Kuryain's body was draped with a sheet. Bill Williams, Dr. Evans, and Solo were gathered around the bed. All wore expressions o sadness or in Solo's case, anger and grief. He heard Dr. Evans say to Solo," Sit down, Mr. Solo, before you fall down. Napoleon, let me give you something to calm your nerves. UNCLE needs you now more than ever to be rested and alert."
"No, doctor! I can't…I won't rest now. Illya's gone and with his death Mr. Waverly will die as well. Whoever is behind the enents of the past week must be stopped."
Napoleon looked up to see Dr. Phillips enter the cell. All the fury and frustration, all of the grief that had been building over the past twenty four hours surfaced and he exploded into action.
"You Son of a Bitch! You killed him. You killed the only man whom I called 'brother'. Why? What did he ever do to you?"
He rose from the chair in which he was sitting and attacked Dr. Phillips, shoved him up against the bars and punched him hard in the face, not once, but three times.
Bill Williams and Dr. Evans pulled the distraught man off of Phillips.
"Mr. Solo! Stop. Killing him won't bring back Illya," the security agent yelled.
Napoleon let himself be pulled away. The two men pushed him up against the opposite wall and restrained him until he calmed down. Two other agents flanked Phillips.
Solo jerked his arms away from their hold, but had regained control of his emotions.
"Take him to interrogation room 3 and hold him. I'll be down there as soon as I can." His voice shook with barely contained rage. He walked up to Phillips. "I look forward to questioning you, Phillips, the whole time I'll be thinking of what you did to my partner! Take him away!"
January 3, 1973 03:45 Across town from headquarters
Lights were on in an old brownstone building when a Borden's Milk van quietly pulled up to the door. At that hour in the morning no one noticed the three men exiting the truck. One ran up the steps and knocked an intricate pattern of raps on the door which immediately opened. The other two retrieved a stretcher from the back of the truck and maneuvered it up the steps and into the house. A woman in a nurse's uniform directed the stretcher bearers into a windowless room which was set up with a hospital bed, medical monitors and IV hooks.
"Put him in there, please."
The patient was transferred onto the bed. The nurse set up the equipment and covered her patient with several layers of blankets.
"Thank you, gentlemen." They nodded and left without a word.
Elma turned back to her patient and saw that he was awake.
Pain filled eyes watched her as she approached. Lightly touching his forehead, she pushed back strands of fine hair.
"It's okay, Mr. Kuryakin, you're at an UNCLE safe house."
UNCLE Headquarters January 3, 1973 04:15
As Napoleon Solo and two Section 3 agents entered the interrogation room where Dr. Phillips was being held, he saw the man stand up and move towards a corner trying to put as much distance between him and Solo.
"Stay away from me, Solo!" he spoke through clenched teeth and a swollen mouth.
Solo didn't say a word. Nor did he make eye contact with the man while he slowly took off his suit jacket draping it over the back of a chair next to the cell door. As he walked to the table in the center of the cell he removed his cufflinks and slowly rolled up each sleeve. Finally, he looked up, his face hardened and eyes narrowed. "Sit down, Dr. Phillips," he spoke in the low dangerous voice, indicating the empty chair bolted to the floor on the other side of the table. He sat down as well.
"Go to hell, Solo!"
"Gentlemen, I believe the doctor has made his choice. Please show him the error of his way."
The two Section 3 agents moved forward silently, grabbed Phillips' arms, and dragged him to the chair. They let his arms go.
"Now, doctor, let's try again. Sit down."
Phillips leaped across the table with every intent of putting his hands around the agent's throat. To his credit, Solo never flinched, never moved. He knew his men would stop the attack, which they did. Once again they held the man's arms, this time somewhat more forcefully.
The agents forcibly placed the doctor in the chair cuffing his hands to the table, his ankles to the chair. Solo leaned forward. "Now Dr. Phillips, I want to know why you killed my partner? Who are you working for?" His voice was low with a hard edge.
"I'm not working with anybody. That bastard deserved to die! I saw an opportunity to get rid of him and I took it!" Phillips shouted as he pulled at the cuffs on his wrists. "He and his ilk deserve no less."
"Why?" Solo controlled the rage in his voice. He couldn't let Phillips see how much he was affected by the man's hatred of Illya. "What did he ever do to you?"
"I lost my brother in Korea to those Communist bastards." Phillips voice raised in pitch, his eyes darted from Solo to the security agents. "He was captured and the sons of bitches tortured him before killing him." Continuing with clenched teeth, "If I could I would kill every last one of them, no matter their nationality."
"If that's the case, why didn't you just let him die during surgery. You certainly had the chance?"
"Too many witnesses," Phillips snarled.
"And what of Mr. Waverly, Phillips? Why would you want him dead?"
At that point Phillips chose to clam up and wouldn't answer any more questions. The interrogation continued for an hour without any more information forthcoming before Solo received a coded communication. Grabbing his suit coat he turned to Phillips. "I have another matter to tend to. I will leave you in the capable hands of these gentlemen, Phillips." He leaned in close, invading the prisoner's space. "I have given them permission to use whatever means necessary to encourage you to talk. Frankly, I'm hoping that you don't. Then I'll have the pleasure of continuing our discussion on a whole different level."
Without another comment Napoleon Solo turned on his heel and left the interrogation room. As Napoleon headed for his office to find out more about the coded communiqué, he reflected on the events of the last several hours. After speaking with Dr. Evans regarding the man's suspicions about Dr. Phillips, Napoleon called a conference that included Peter Mitchell, acting Section 2, number 1, Bill Williams, head of security, Dr. Evans, and Nurse Elma Townsend, UNCLE's head nurse. They agreed that Illya needed to be transferred to a safe house to protect him from whom ever was working with Dr. Phillips as well as any overzealous agents who saw his partner as nothing but a traitor. After Mr. Waverly, receives the antidote, he will also be sent to the same safe house.
Whoever wanted him assassinated by execution must think the man was still dead so he, or they, would show their hand for the next phase. You mean if Mr. Waverly gets the antidote in time, Solo, he reminded himself. If not, he feared for Illya's future. The council of Section 1 chiefs would demand that his friend be terminated, of this Napoleon had no doubt.
As he entered the reception area outside of Mr. Waverly's office, Lisa Rogers looked up and handed him a message. Napoleon could see the strain on her face. She had faithfully assisted him while waiting for word on her boss, Alexander Waverly. Even when she heard of Waverly's death she stood ready to help Solo if he requested it.
"Mr. Solo, you have a call from Elma Townsend. She says it's urgent."
A knot of apprehension developed deep within his gut. He had asked Elma, Illya's nurse, to call when he awakened, but the tag of "urgent" gave him pause for thought. Had Illya taken a turn for the worse?
"Thanks. Why don't you go home, Lisa. You've been here almost as much as I have. Go home and get some rest." He gently touched her cheek, wiping away an errant tear giving her a sad half smile. "It's been a long week."
Lisa stepped from behind her desk. Laying a hand on his forearm she looked at him with tear filled eyes before collecting her purse and coat. "Okay, Napoleon, but if you need me, don't hesitate to call." Solo entered the office and called the safe house on the secure line. Within minutes he was on his way across town.
January 3, 1973 05:38
The UNCLE Safe House The blue Chevy pulled up in front of the brownstone building. Security cameras and rifles tracked the driver's move to the door. One of the Section 3 agents let Solo in then shut the steel reinforced door, engaging the security locks.
"May I take your coat, Mr. Solo? Mr. Kuryakin's room is off to the left of the foyer."
Elma Townsend met Napoleon at the door and drew him away from the room.
"How's he doing, Elma?"
"As well as can be expected, Mr. Solo. He's been conscious since arriving here. He is in a good deal of pain, although he denies it, and he has been highly agitated. Mr. Kuryakin has been quite desperate to talk with you and only you."
"Thanks. Do me a favor, go get a cup of coffee, freshen up, or get something to eat. I'll call you if he needs you." With that he shut the double doors leading to the room and approached the hospital bed.
Napoleon stood at the side of Illya's bed watching his partner, wondering what he had been up to the last three months while deep undercover. Blue, pain glazed eyes opened to return his gaze.
With a great deal of effort, Illya reached up with his left hand to grab Napoleon's arm ignoring the IV drip line inserted in the back of his hand. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out except a hoarse croak. He swallowed and tried again without success.
"Easy Illya, it's okay. Let me get you some water." Napoleon grabbed a glass of water from the bedside stand and guided the straw to Illya's mouth.
After several soothing sips, Kuryakin tried again. "The antidote? Did Waverly get it?"
"Not yet, Tovarisch. We haven't been able to come up with the correct antidote. We had to start from scratch by analyzing blood samples."
"No! I have the antidote, Napoleon." He closed his eyes fighting the pain. He looked back up to Napoleon. "It's sewn into the lining of my parka. Please hurry, Napoleon, he doesn't have much time left. I…I don't want him to die by my hands…please…hurry!"
Without a further word Napoleon left the room immediately to call Agent Mitchell and Dr. Evans. He was greatly relieved to hear that Mitchell had brought Illya's clothes back to headquarters and stored them in the evidence locker.
"All right, Peter. Let me know immediately if you find the antidote. Then take it directly to Dr. Evans."
Less than fifteen minutes later Agent Mitchell called back. Yes, he had found the antidote and Dr. Evans was administering it to Alexander Waverly as they spoke.
"Good job, Peter. Please get Mr. Waverly to an isolated room. Make sure that nobody, and I mean nobody except Dr. Evans or the assigned Section 3 agents have access to him. As soon as he's stable we'll transport him to here."
The connection was terminated. Napoleon sat down in an upholstered chair, totally exhausted. He ran his hand through his hair, scrubbed his whiskered face with his hands and leaned his head back against the chair while he gathered his thoughts. One disaster was averted. Now to find out who was involved with the conspiracy to kill Mr. Waverly and why. For that answer he needed to talk with his partner and he hoped that Illya could enlighten him. With a great sigh he rose from the chair and sought out one of the agents to get a cup of coffee. It had been a long night and it wasn't over yet. With cup in hand he returned to Illya's bedside.
"Tovarisch, we need to talk."
Illya had closed his eyes after telling Napoleon where to find the antidote. The effort of fighting the waves of pain that gripped his body and the worry about Waverly's condition had left him exhausted. He did not hear Napoleon leave the room to talk with Agent Mitchell at Headquarters, nor was he immediately aware of his partner's return.
Napoleon looked down as he gently grasped his friend’s forearm. He watched as Illya's facial muscles twitched. His partner was in obvious pain and moved restlessly trying to get comfortable. "Illya?"
Blue eyes turned towards him. Napoleon continued, his voice clouded with concern, but also with a tone of urgency. "Illya, we found the antidote and we've administered it to Mr. Waverly.”
The man’s whole being seemed to relax with that bit of news. Napoleon continued. "I need to know what you discovered while infiltrated with K.I.N.D. Who is behind the attempt on Mr. Waverly's life?"
The Russian agent tried to respond, but was overcome by a spasm causing him to gasp, crying out involuntarily. "Napoleon," his voice hoarse. "I'm sorry, I need something for the..." Once again he clamped his jaws to fight the wave of pain. He turned his head away from Napoleon, ashamed at his display of weakness.
Nurse Townsend heard him from the other room and came in to check on him. Seeing the pain that Agent Kuryakin was in she filled a syringe with a combination of pain killer and sedative and moved to inject it into the IV port. Napoleon grabbed her wrist, stopping her actions.
"What are you giving him?" His voice was stern.
Surprised, Elma Townsend turned to look him. "Mr. Solo, he's in terrible pain, I'm simply giving him something to ease the intensity and help him sleep. He needs the sleep to help with the healing process."
"No!" Shit! The one time my stubborn partner admits to needing pain killers and I can't let him have them. "I'm sorry, but I can't let him sleep. He has vital information I need!"
"Mr. Solo! He is not some THRUSH agent that you are interrogating! He is one of ours and your partner!" She knew she was overstepping her boundaries, but her compassion for the man lying in bed was stronger than her need to worry about insubordination.
"It's okay…he's right." Illya's raspy voice drew their attention. "This is more…important." Just the effort of speaking left him drained, but UNCLE's needs outweighed his for the moment.
"I'm sorry, Tovarisch. I wish there was some other way." Napoleon squeezed Illya's forearm.
"S'okay, Napoleon." Illya closed his eyes and thought back on the events of the last three months.
"Mr. Kuryakin, I know that you are aware of the danger for this particular assignment, however, with your knowledge of weapons and ability to mimic many North American dialects and accents, you are the best man for this assignment.
"We have reason to believe that several high ranking members of different intelligence agencies from around the world are mixed up with K.I.N.D. There is even some vague evidence that someone from the UNCLE may be involved. You are to trust no one. The men you are to find are former mercenaries. One of them goes by the name of Nathan McAvoy, though reports say his men call him Coyote. He is reported to be one of the leaders of K.I.N.D and is responsible for recruiting new members. The other man is Sergio Mendez, who is the founder and self appointed director of K.I.N.D.
"Here is the file on the intelligence reports gathered so far. Read it while you travel. Your plane leaves in two hours, Mr. Kuryakin. That gives you just enough time to pick up any equipment or supplies you need."
Isaac Cummings entered the Hanging Horseshoe, a dusty bar near Darby, Montana. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the low lighting in the room. Filtered sunlight leaked through the louvered blinds, mixing with dust and cigarette smoke. Light from the neon sign behind the bar reflected off of sweat stained Stetsons and ball caps. Low murmurings of conversation from men standing at the bar could be heard.
Cummings' dusty, heel worn boots scraped across the floor boards as he moved to the bar. A quick look around told him which beer was favored by the locals. Nodding to the other men at the bar he caught the ar tender's attention. "I hope you have a nice cold Ranier with my name on it," his slight southern draw softening the vowels.
One of the customers noticed the newcomer and silently looked him up and down taking in the dusty worn jeans, the faded black t-shirt under a Carhartt canvas jacket, and the double creased bill of an old baseball cap. Then pointedly he turned his back on the slight, blond man and continued his conversation with his friends.
Isaac threw back his head and guzzled the contents of the brown long necked bottle in just a few gulps. As he set the empty bottle on the bar he ordered another. Leaning over the bar a bit, Cummings asked the bartender if he knew the whereabouts of Coyote. The bartender merely shook his head and mumbled that he didn't know anyone by that name. Isaac shrugged his shoulders, grabbed his second beer, and headed for a table.
With the nonchalance of someone who had no cares and in no hurry the blond man sat and observed the room through half closed eyes. It hadn't escaped his notice that at the mention of Coyote there was a barely perceptible pause in the conversation among the men at the bar before they carried on. Finishing his second beer, Isaac rose from the table and headed for his truck only to have his path blocked by five of the men from the bar, and each one was at least six inches taller than he was.
"What business do you have with Coyote?" asked one particularly large man who was obviously the leader.
"Who's asking?" The soft southern drawl was offset by a low dangerous edge to Isaac's voice. As he looked from one face to another he squared his shoulders and shifted his weight to the balls of his feet. His fingers moved reflexively in anticipation of a fight.
"I am, and if you have any thought of seeing Coyote you have to get approval from me, so spill!"
"I understand he's doing some hiring, ah...looking for weapons experts and the sort."
"And you're telling me that you qualify?"
"Oh, absolutely. Probably more so than most of you."
The men roared with laughter. One of the others mocked, "Why you're nothin' but a small fry! Hell, I've thrown fish back bigger than you! Would you care to put your money where your mouth is?"
Isaac raised up to his full height and stepped into the man's personal space. Looking up at the man, keeping his face from showing any emotions or anxiety he replied, "If you insist."
And promptly felled the man with a swift front kick to the solar plexus, followed by a double fisted power slam between the shoulder blades as the man doubled over. One of the others stepped forward to take a swing at Isaac, but was easily thwarted as Isaac nimbly sidestepped him and pushed the guy into the side of the pickup.
Keeping an eye on the second attacker Isaac turned to the leader saying, "Look, I didn't come here to fight you." As he spoke a third man advanced on him.
"That's enough, Tom, leave him be, " ordered the leader, who then stepped forward and extended his hand to Isaac. "As is so happens, I'm Coyote. It looks like we could use a man like you. Of course, we will have to check you out."
"Of course." Isaac smiled inwardly. He was sure that they would find his "resumé" in order.
The first two months were spent waiting for security clearances, orientation, and training exercises. He was put in charge of warehousing the large and varied collection of weapons ranging from small derringers to antiaircraft missiles. His knowledge of weapons was so impressive that he was assigned to design a training schedule where he would instruct and qualify all members of the crew on the operation of each weapon. He proved to be adept as an instructor. Both Mendez and McAvoy felt Isaac would be best used at the compound as a trainer instead of being assigned to missions involving assassinations. He was thankful that he wasn't part of the assassins' team.
Shortly into his third month the organization's operations were moved to a secluded narrow valley in the Bitterroot Mountains bordering the Montana-Idaho border. All of the men were pressed into service helping to pack and move items from one location to the other. Isaac grabbed a box from the back of a truck and heaved it up onto his shoulder. As he carried it down one of the corridors of the main building he heard voices from one of the offices. He placed the box on the floor and knelt to retie his boot lace trying to buy time to hear what was being said, but the voices were too muffled. However, one of the voices was one that he recognized. It was slightly accented, but he couldn't remember who it was or where he had heard it, but definitely one he had heard before.
He finished tying his boot lace and continued down the corridor, wracking his brain for a clue as to who the voice belonged to. He would have to find a way to bug the office.
The next day Isaac was able to enter the office under the guise of bringing in some boxes to be unpacked, giving him time to plant a bug under the center drawer of Sergio Mendez's desk. A week later a rumor that some important clients would be meeting with Mendez and McAvoy was circulating among the crew. Isaac observed a small group of men enter the complex and were ushered to Mendoza's office. He found an isolated area and listened to the signal transmitted by the bug with a receiver disguised as a transistor radio.
"Gentlemen, here's to our newest mission. May we have great success," Mendez's voice announced.
"Have you formulated a plan yet to bring down Waverly?"
The voice belonged to the same individual that Isaac had heard over a week ago. He still couldn't put a face or name to its owner.
"Yes, we expect to have him in our hands very soon. A matter of days we think. What exactly do you want us to do with him once he's in our care?" McAvoy's voice.
"I want you to interrogate him to find out just how much he knows, if anything, about my involvement with your organization and anything else you can get out of him. Then kill him. But I want to see him before he's killed. I want to see the look on his face when he realizes who betrayed him.
"If you insist. You are paying for our services so we will do as you wish," replied Mendez. "We will let you know when we have him in custody."
"Thank you! Now if you will have one of your men drive me back to Missoula I can catch the next flight out. I'll be waiting for your call." With a click of his heels The Voice left.
Cummings tried to get a look at the visitor as he left the area, but to no avail. The man was dressed in multiple layers against the winter temperatures and his wool muffler hid his face. That afternoon Isaac transmitted his first message. "Open Channel X…"
Once the message was sent, Isaac went to the barracks and quickly packed. It was time to leave. Shouldering his knapsack he used the early darkness of the winter evening to make his way to the motor pool. It would be just a matter of hot wiring one of the Jeeps and he would be long gone. Giving a furtive look about and seeing no one he opened the door of the nearest vehicle. He bent down to reach under the dash to grab the wires. When the motor started he stood up only to see a .45 automatic pointed at him from the passenger's side.
"Hello, Isaac. Going for an evening drive?" Coyote's voice resonated with contempt.
The smaller man spun to get away only to feel the butt of a rifle stock meet with the side of his head. His legs buckled and he landed hard on the frozen snow covered ground.
Consciousness returned slowly and painfully. Isaac was gradually able to open his eyes completely and take in his surroundings. He was lying on the cold cement floor of a cell. A small glassless window was set high into the wall allowing a subzero draft to drift into the cell. Two buckets stood in a corner. Slowly, he pushed himself into a sitting position. His head felt as if it was going to come off and he pressed his hands against his temple letting out a quiet groan.
"Ah, Mr. Cummings, I'm so glad you are finally awake. I was concerned that you would sleep through the Christmas holiday." Coyote stood at the bars of the cell.p "How long was I out?" Isaac's voice was thick with pain.
"A little over 24 hours. My how you seem to have lost your southern accent. What kind of accent is that I'm hearing now? It sounds British mixed with something else. Just who are you anyway…really?"
Isaac remained silent.
"Suit yourself. I don't have time to deal with you now, we have an important guest arriving soon. But when we're finished being entertained by him, you and I will have a little chat. How's that sound?"
"Go to hell!"
Coyote laughed. "In due time, Isaac, in due time. Guard, this man is to receive nothing. No meals. No lights." He turned on his heels and left.
Two days passed with no other visits from Coyote. True to his instructions no food was given to the prisoner and his cell was kept dark save the little bit of light that came through the north facing window. The third day, Christmas Day, before dawn there was more activity than usual especially considering that many of the men had been given time off.
A truck with a camper shell pulled up to the door of the main building. Isaac pulled himself up to the window sill. It was still dark but one small exterior light illuminated the area just enough for him to see some of the proceedings. He watched as three men carrying automatic pistols jumped out of the vehicle. They turned back and pulled a man out the bed of the truck and onto the ground. He did not move. He wore nothing to protect him from the Montana winter, only pajamas with no shoes. His feet and hands bound in shackles.
The guards dragged their unconscious prisoner to Isaac's cell and pushed him through the door, letting him fall hard onto the concrete. Before Isaac could go to the man to help him, he heard more footsteps approaching. Before they got to his cell, Cummings turned his back on them. He knew it was Mendez and McAvoy, but there was a third person with them.
"Well, Mr. Cummings, it looks like you have company. Consider it a Christmas present." Mendez spoke with false cheerfulness.
"Excuse me, what did you say the prisoner's name is?" The Voice! A flashlight was shone into the cell and onto Isaac. Even with his face turned away from them the third man recognized him. "Mendez, do you have any ideal who this man is? This is Illya Kuryakin, number 2, section 2 of UNCLE northwest.
Illya Kuryakin turned around to face the men and gasped audibly as he came face to face with the owner
"Well it looks like I'm getting two Christmas presents for the price of one!" With that the newcomer laughed and retreated with the other two men down the corridor.
Illya turned his attention to the prisoner on the floor. He reached for the man placing his hands on the still shoulders. The body was radiating the cold through the thin cloth of the pajamas. Gently, he rolled the prisoner over onto his back to be able to better assess the damage. He looked down and was taken aback. Even in the dim light of the cell there was no mistaking the bushy eyebrows and craggy face of Alexander Waverly! "Chyort!"
Illya Kuryakin stopped talking. His voice was weaker than before. Napoleon offered him some ice chips.
"Illya, you're almost finished. Can you tell me any more?"
The injured agent sucked gratefully on the ice chips and nodded his head slightly.
"Mr. Waverly regained consciousness. A couple of hours later the bastards came and took him away. They beat him, Napoleon. Each day for three days they took him away for several hours. I could hear him cry out, and there was nothing I could do to help him or prevent them from taking him. All I could do was tend to him when he was returned to the cell.
On the fourth day they left him alone. Mr. Waverly was conscious but very weak. Napoleon, he ordered me to escape. I told him that I would take him with me. He grabbed my shirt and told me to get out." Illya's voice trailed off as he recalled the moment.
"Go on, Illya."
"I told him I would be back for him. He just smiled and said, 'Get out! Tell Mr. Solo he's in charge now. Tell him who our traitor is.'
"Shortly after that, one of the guards came in to check on Mr. Waverly. I was able to overpower the man and get out. Just before I left, I overheard some of the men discussing the execution date and time for Mr. Waverly. I made it to the boundary of the compound before being caught. I was able to take away the guard's firearm, but he stabbed me with his knife before I could take him out. "I was able to get away and reach my cache of weapons and communicator. I sent my last message before heading for a cave up in the hills. You know the rest."
"Indeed." It was all Napoleon Solo could think to say. "One thing, Illya, who was the man who hired K.I.N.D to kill the Old Man?"
Illya was exhausted from the debriefing and his voice was no more than a whisper. He motioned Napoleon to lean down as he whispered the identity of the man in the senior agent's ear. What Illya told him was alarming, and he wondered just whom he could trust in the upper echelon of UNCLE. He assured Illya that they would keep Mr. Waverly safe. They had plans to bring them to the same location as Illya.
Solo called Elma Townsend in to administer the painkiller to Kuryakin. Napoleon had offered his hand in support which Illya grasped and squeezed hard against the discomfort. It bothered Solo to see his normally stoic partner admit his pain and need for relief.
"I'm sorry, Tovarisch," Napoleon whispered. "I'm so sorry, but you can rest now. Get some sleep. I'll come by and check on you later."
But Illya wouldn't let go, he had more to say. "Napoleon, don't...don't bring Waverly...here. Put him in a different safe...house."
"If someone comes...looking ... for me, then won't find...Waverly."
"Everyone thinks you're dead, Illya, no one will come here." He patted Illya's shoulder.
With strength he didn't think he had, Illya pushed himself up, his blue eyes narrowed with the effort and frustration. "Trust me...just do it!" His voice was no louder than a hoarse whisper, yet the tone of urgency was not lost on Napoleon. Illya fell back onto the pillow.
"All right, Illya, I'll take care of it." He stayed with his partner until Elma had given him the drug and Illya lapsed into a more relaxed state and slept.
As Napoleon Solo left the safe house he neither noticed a curtain on the third floor fall back into place nor the shadow behind it that spoke quietly into a communicator.
"Sir, he has left the building."
"And Kuryakin is still alive?"
"Yes, Sir. He has been sedated, but he is definitely still alive."
"All right. Keep watch over Kuryakin. I'll let you know what to do next. Make sure no one knows that you have been in touch with me. We don't want Solo to get wind of our plans."
"Yes, Sir!" Agent Gerald Finkmeyer closed his communicator.
January 3, 06:50
Upon entering the UNCLE headquarters, Solo headed down to Medical to check with Dr. Evans regarding the status of the Old Man's recovery.
"He's a little woozy from the effects of the tranquilizer, but he is coming around quickly, Mr. Solo. He should be able to be transferred to the safe house in about a half hour."
"All right, doctor. Please stand by for further instructions. However, I don't need to remind you that it is vital that no one knows that Mr. Waverly is alive."
"I have it under control, Mr. Solo. No need to worry."
"Thank you, Dr. Evans."
Napoleon returned to Waverly's office and flipped the intercom switch. "Section 2, Peter Mitchell please come to Mr. Waverly's office immediately." For just a moment he allowed himself time to take a deep breath and collect his thoughts while waiting for the arrival of Agent Mitchell.
"Napoleon, you wanted to see me?"
"Yes, Peter. Please have a seat. I have a special assignment for you. I need you to transport Mr. Waverly to the safe house in Englewood. He's not going to stay at the same one as Illya for security reasons. And absolutely no one is to know Mr. Waverly's status. As far as anyone knows he died of a gunshot wound in Montana.
"And, Peter," Napoleon's voice softened a bit, "we have to tread carefully, it appears we have a traitor in our midst."
Napoleon began to formulate a plan to expose the mole seated among the UNCLE upper echelon. To make it happen he would have to give the performance of his life. He prayed that he could pull the charade off.
Not long after Peter Mitchell left, the warble signaling incoming intercontinental communication was heard. Napoleon opened the channel connecting him to Section 1, South America. "Ah, Solo, here, Señor Yrigollen. How may I help you." This was a conversation that Napoleon dreaded. The council members of Section 1 chiefs had promised that they would contact him him with further instructions.
"Good morning, Mr. Solo. What is the current situation, please?"
"Grim, Sir. We lost Mr. Kuryakin last night."
There was a lengthy pause. "Did he succumb to his injuries?"
"No, Sir. He was killed by one of our doctors, Dr. Phillips. The doctor confessed under interrogation."
"Why would he do such a thing?"
"Retribution, Sir. At least in his eyes. He lost a brother in Korea and blames all communists for it."
"Sad business this, Mr. Solo. However, as unpleasant as this is, the doctor may have done us all a favor."
Napoleon's blood ran cold. "What do you mean, Sir?"
"We won't have to go through the motions of a trial or an execution, Mr. Solo."
But Sir, we don't even know if Mr. Kuryakin was guilty of anything!"
"Nonsense, Mr. Solo. You even told us in your report that there were witnesses. No, the doctor shall be punished, but there will be many who think he should be pardoned for helping us get rid of a traitor."
Blood boiled in Solo's veins. How dare this man speak of Illya this way. Yet, there was nothing he could do without giving away his plan. "But Sir, that is...."
"Enough, Mr. Solo! I am fully aware of your friendship with your late partner, but you are letting that cloud your judgement. I will be arriving in New York tomorrow to take over the investigation and the other Section 1 chiefs will be arriving this week to meet with you. Meanwhile, I want all of Mr. Kuryakin's personal records to note his traitorous act and and his name removed from the active files. Copies of his personal files will be sent to Mr. Kuryakin's superiors in the USSR for them to do whatever they want with the information."
"Sir, Illya had family in the Ukraine. There might be actions taken against them if the government thinks Mr. Kuryakin was a traitor. You can't do..."
"That is not yours or our concern, Mr. Solo. It is something Mr. Kuryakin should have thought of before he turned on us. Good day, Mr. Solo. I'll see you tomorrow!" The communication channel was closed.
Solo sat staring at the console trying to collect his thoughts. "Cold, heartless bastard!" Just when he thought things could not possibly get worse they did. Not only had he omitted the information about Mr. Waverly being alive, but he had just lied to the section one chief of South America about Illya's death and also had unwittingly endangered his friend's few remaining family members who still lived in the Soviet Union.
Napoleon leaned back in the chair scrubbed his face with his hands and let out a huge sigh. God was he tired. He checked his watch. It would be sunrise soon. He needed to grab about two hours of shut-eye if he was going to be of any use to both Mr. Waverly and Illya Kuryakin.
Somewhat rested and refreshed, Mr. Solo left Mr. Waverly's headquarter based apartment, stepped up to the communication console and paged his outer office. "Lisa, would you please call department representatives with class one security to the Section 1 conference room and would you also please join us."
Within 10 minutes about 20 people filled section one's conference room. Many had heard vague rumors about Waverly's death and that one of their own had been the assassin. They waited in uncomfortable silence for their CEA to make his announcement. Solo entered the room, made quick eye contact with Bill Williams of Section 3 before calling the group to order.
"Gentlemen, I have some very sad news. As you are aware Mr. Waverly was kidnapped two weeks ago, his whereabouts unknown. We had received word from an agent under deep cover as to Waverly's location and a mission was launched to rescue him. Yesterday, Mr. Waverly was struck down by a bullet while being held captive by an outlaw organization known as K.I.N.D." Napoleon paused for effect, " His memorial service has not yet been planned as the whole incident is still under investigation. And, gentlemen, his wife has not been informed of his death. Let's keep it that way for a bit longer. She's been through enough as it is."
A collective gasp and murmuring could be heard throughout the room. Lisa, who knew of Waverly's death quietly sobbed. Solo raised his hand to silence the group. "And, I'm afraid, the news gets worse. Mr. Kuryakin, who was the agent assigned to deep cover with the same group for the past few months was also shot. He, ah," Napoleon let his voice falter. "...he died from his injuries early this morning."
"Tell them the rest of it, Mr. Solo." An angry voice spoke from the back of the room. "Go on, tell them the bloody rest of it. Tell us who killed Mr. Waverly! We've heard the rumors, tell us they are not true."
Napoleon's head came up sharply, fury and then sadness showed in his eyes. "I wish I could, Agent Stewart, but I'm afraid the rumors are true." He took a deep breath. "Mr. Kuryakin has been accused of assassinating Mr. Waverly." Loud exclamations of disbelief and condemnation echoed throughout the room.
Again Solo raised his hand for silence. His next statement was probably the hardest one he would ever have to make. "I have been in contact with the remaining Section 1 chiefs regarding this whole affair. They have left me temporarily in charge pending further investigation. Senor Yrigollen of the South American bureau has ordered me..." he stopped a minute and lowered his head, when he looked up he didn't have to act out the emotions he was feeling. Taking a deep breath he looked back up and continued. "He has ordered me to have all departments holding any files with personal information or open files that involved Mr. Kuryakin pulled, a notation made of his status as deceased and ... traitor. Said files will be given to Section 3 agents of a class 1 rating and delivered to the Section 3 security files safe." He paused to let the shocking news and instructions to sink in. "All right, gentlemen, you have your orders. Dismissed."
As the room slowly emptied, Solo caught Williams' eye, held up five fingers and nodded towards Waverly's office.
As Napoleon Solo turned to leave the conference room, Lisa Rogers approached him and laid a hand on her boss's forearm. "Napoleon, I'm so sorry about Illya! Is it true? Did he kill Mr. Waverly?"
He looked at Lisa regretting that he would also have to lie to her. That way she could honestly answer the section 1 chiefs if asked about the situation.
"I guess we'll never know, Lisa. I would like to believe that he didn't. But I have to follow Section 1 orders." He gave her a comforting hug and handed his handkerchief to her to dry her tears.
Solo looked up as Agent Williams, Section 3, came through the doors. "You wanted to see me, Mr. Solo?"
"Yes, Bill, have a seat." He dismissed Lisa and locked the doors. "We have important matters to discuss."
"I'm sorry to hear about Illya, Napoleon. I thought he would make it."
"That is what we need to discuss, Bill. Illya's alive."
Williams jaw dropped and pointing back towards the conference room sputtered, "Then what in God's name was that all about?"
"Well, it's quite an involved story." He proceeded to tell Agent Williams about Illya's accounting of his mission and report of a high placed mole in the organization. He chose not to reveal the name of the mole at that time.
"So you see, Bill, I need your help, but what I'm about to ask you to do could cost you your career. I won't hold it against you if you say no.
"The reason I asked for all of the files on Illya turned over to your department is that I need you to hang on to them. Senor Yrigollen is expecting you to deliver them over to the Soviet embassy. We can't do that as it could put Illya's remaining family in jeopardy, not to mention it would be a death sentence for Illya when we finally reveal that he is still alive.
So I want you to go ahead and report his death and then alter any files labeling Mr. Kuryakin a traitor and then send them over to the embassy." He paused to let the words sink in. "What do you say, Bill, are you willing to do that?" Williams didn't hesitate.
"Mr. Solo, Mr. Kuryakin is one of the finest agents I have had the pleasure to work with. And I know when someone's being railroaded when I see it. I would be happy to help him out and I'm honored that you trust me to do so."
"Be very sure of what your are agreeing to, Bill. This could very well blow up in our faces and the aftermath wouldn't be pretty."
"I'm sure, Mr. Solo. I had better go and get those files prepared if Yrigollen is expecting all of them to be ready and delivered by the time he gets here." He turned and left Waverly's office.
After Williams left, Napoleon sat down and mentally ticked off the things he needed to do before the Section 1 chiefs arrived. As he thought back to his discussion with Illya, something kept niggling at the back of his mind about what Illya had said.
He had been surprised at how strongly Illya had felt regarding Mr. Waverly being at the same safe house. Napoleon had learned long ago to trust his partner's gut instinct. His partner obviously was concerned about security and that not all the agents could be trusted.
If Illya was discovered in his weakened state, what would happen if someone interrogated him about Mr. Waverly? Would he be able to keep the fact that Waverly was still alive a secret? Napoleon was about to make his second hardest decision of his short tenure as chief of Section 1. He just hoped when all was said and done, Illya would forgive him.
He paged Lisa Rogers. "Lisa, I want no visitors for the next two hours, if you have an urgent message please contact me on my communicator." He pushed a well hidden button under Mr. Waverly's desk and left through the silently swinging door of the secret entrance into the UNCLE headquarters.
Solo pulled up to the safe house where his partner and friend was being kept while the whole affair was being investigated and straightened out. As he entered the foyer he saw Nurse Townsend. "How is he doing, Elma?"
"About as well as can be expected, Mr. Solo. He's in a lot of pain and will be for quite some time. He kept calling out in his sleep for you and Mr. Waverly after you left. He's awake now, but groggy."
"I need to talk to him." Seeing the expression on her face, Napoleon assured her that he wouldn't take long.
He stepped into Illya's room closing the doors behind him. He stood by the hospital bed studying his friend's face, hating himself for what he was about to do. "Illya." He placed a hand on the Russian's blanket covered shin. "Illya," he repeated quietly giving the leg a small shake.
Pained blue eyes met his. "Na..." Illya's voice was no louder than a croaking whisper. Napoleon gave him a sip of water. Illya tried again. "Napoleon, what are you doing here? You shouldn't be coming here at all." This time the whisper was a bit louder.
"Hey, I came to see how you're doing, my friend. You have me worried."
"I'll be okay, now get out of here," he urged.
"Illya, I have some bad news. Mr. Waverly passed away a couple of hours ago. Between the beatings and exposure to the cold, his body just couldn't take the shock."
Napoleon watched in despair as his friend tensed and turned his head away. "Illya, it wasn't your fault!" Damn how he hated doing this to his friend. When the blond did not respond, he repeated, "Illya, look at me! This is not your fault!"
With the voice of a tortured soul Illya whispered, "Yes, Napoleon, it is. If I hadn't been shot I could have gotten the antidote to him sooner. He would have had a chance, but I got careless."
His voice faded out and Napoleon thought his friend had drifted back to sleep. He squeezed his partner's leg, "I'm sorry, Illya. I'll come back later." He turned to leave.
"Napoleon." He barely heard the whispered call. "Napoleon..."
Solo turned back to his injured friend. "Yes, Illya?"
"Leave me your, gun." He saw the bewildered look on the brunet's face. "If I'm found, there will be a trial and I will be sentenced to death."
"No, Illya! No one knows you are here. There will be no trial!" and isn't that exactly why you lied to him? In case he is found. And if he is found there would certainly be a trial.
"Napoleon, you are acting Chief, it will fall upon you to give the order. I can't...I can't let you go through that. Leave me your gun and I'll take care of it for you."
"No!" There won't be any trial, Illya." He turned and retreated from the room turning deaf ears to Illya's weak calls. He found nurse Townsend.
"Nurse, Mr. Kuryakin has just received bad news and is distraught. I want you to keep him heavily sedated, until you hear from either Dr. Evans or me. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Mr. Solo."
"Good, I need to return to headquarters, please give him the sedative now." Knowing Elma would follow his orders he glanced once more in Illya's direction before leaving the building.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Jan 3. 11:46
When he returned to Waverly’s office, Solo informed Miss Rogers that he was once again available. "Yes, sir. Mr. Williams is waiting to talk to you and Agent Mitchell has asked that you contact him."
"Thank you, Lisa. I'll talk with Mr. Mitchell first. Please have Agent Williams come up in twenty minutes."
Napoleon picked up the receiver to Waverly' s private secured line and put a call into the safe house in Englewood, New Jersey.
"Peter, what is your report?"
"All is quiet, Napoleon. There hasn't been any suspicious activity. Mr. Waverly is alert and would like to speak with you."
"That's good news, Peter. Put him on, please." Napoleon could hear the receiver being passed to the Old Man.
"Hello, Mr. Solo! It's good to hear your voice."
"And yours as well, sir!" Considering what he had been through the Old Man’s voice sounded only a little weak with fatigue.
"Agent Mitchell has informed me as to the events that brought me here, however he says that you have given orders that I am to remain here. What the devil is going on? Report Mr. Solo!"
The temporary chief of UNCLE Northwest spent the next ten minutes summarizing to his superior the information he had, his worries regarding the mole's next move, and his hope to trip the man up.
"Very well, Mr. Solo, we'll play this out your way, however I'm not happy about it. Mr. Kuryakin should be at UNCLE medical and I would rather be in my office!
"Understood sir. I want to get both of you back here as soon as possible. I'll keep you informed."
"Be careful, young man. If these people are hell bent on disposing of Mr. Kuryakin and me, then you are in as much danger."
They said their goodbyes and hung up. Napoleon flipped a switch on the communications board.
"Miss Rogers, have Mr. Williams come in."
The pneumatic doors whispered open and a troubled Bill Williams entered.
"What is it, Bill?
"Mr. Solo, I don't know how to say this..."
"Just come out and tell me, Bill."
"Ah, Dr. Phillips is dead."
Solo sat in stunned silence for a second before responding. "Shit, how the hell did that happen, Bill? Your boys were supposed to be watching him?"
"The agent assigned to observe him left his station just long enough to intercept Phillip's breakfast tray being delivered from the commissary and bring it to him. He heard a loud thump, unlocked the door and found Phillips bleeding from his head and his neck was broken! Apparently, he had climbed up onto the table and pitched himself forward to the floor landing on his head."
"No one else had access to his cell?"
Napoleon released a deep sigh. "All right, Bill. I want him autopsied to rule out foul play. Then ask the morgue to hold the body until they receive word from me."
"Yes, Sir." Agent Williams left the offfice.
Damn! The doctor could have been a witness, albeit a hostile one, to help clear Illya of any wrong doing.
Agent Finkmeyer stood his watch at the safe house. He resented this particular assignment as much as he resented having a Soviet agent at the New York headquarters. Illya Kuryakin had been a thorn in his side ever since the pipsqueak was assigned to UNCLE Northwest. After all, he had been with the agency for 8 years before the Russian had arrived and now his status was junior to that of Kuryakin. “It just isn’t right!” he muttered. His sour grapes was motivation enough to pick up the phone and make another long distance call to someone he felt should know what is going on in New York.
January 3 13:00
With assurances from agent Williams that Illya Kuryakin’s files had been doctored before being sent over to the Russian embassy, Napoleon Solo isolated himself in the inner office and made an effort to catch up on the daily routine of running UNCLE. There were other pressing problems throughout the world which required his attention.
After assigning agents to deal with some of the more immediate difficulties, Napoleon Solo sat at Mr. Waverly’s desk and began the daunting task of working his way through the mountain of paperwork threatening to topple over and spill its contents over the floor.
Nearly eight hours later, Solo had managed to reduce the pile of folders by over half. It had been a long couple of days and he desparately needed some sleep. He made a quick call to Agent Mitchell to check on Mr. Waverly, and another one to Nurse Elma to check on Illya. She reported that she had been keeping him heavily sedated as per his orders and that Illya was sleeping.
Solo pushed his chair from the desk, turned out the lights, and made his way to the leather couch in the alcove hoping to take a much needed rest to recharge his energy level.
Unfortunately, sleep eluded him as he worried about his partner. Physically, his friend was still not out of the woods yet, and he was now in danger of being terminated for a crime he didn’t commit, all because Napoleon was playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with his plan for catching the mastermind of Waverly’s kidnapping. Maybe he should just make his accusation when all of the chiefs arrive and be done with it. But, he wasn’t sure who else, if any, was involved in the plot and he needed to make sure he could build a case satisfactorily enough to bring all of the culprits to justice.
January 4 06:00
The acting Section 1 Chief shifted his position on the couch, checked his watch and decided that there was no point in delaying the inevitable. Fernando Yrigollen, Section 1 Chief for South America, would soon arrive and Napoleon needed to prepare for the chief to take over the investigation. With a quick shower and shave as well as a fresh suit, Napoleon was ready when he received the message that Sr. Yrigollen was at the agents’ entrance to headquarters and on his way up to Waverly’s office. Napoleon took one more look in the mirror, shot his cuffs and walked over to the entrance of the office to greet Sr. Yrigollen.
The pneumatic doors opened to reveal a small statured man surrounded by Bill Williams and three other New York Headquarters Section 3 agents.
“Sr. Yrigollen, welcome to UNCLE Northwest Headqua...”
“Agents, arrest this man!” The South American Section chief’s brown eyes snapped with anger as he gave the order. “Agent Napoleon Solo, you are hereby relieved of all duties and will stand trial for treason, deceiving your superiors, and abuse of the powers available to you in the past two weeks.”
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
January 4 10:00
No one in the neighborhood thought twice about the two black sedans and a faded white delivery van parked a block west of the brownstone building where Illya Kuryakin was being guarded. None of the pedestrians hurrying along the sidewalks gave a second glance as four men in each sedan and two in the van exited the vehicles and stood together chatting and smoking nervously while they waited for the telling squelch of static on their communicators signaling them to pull up to the edifice and complete their assignment. Circumstances at UNCLE headquarters were getting increasingly bizarre and they didn’t know what to think of the turn of events.
“Yes, sir!” Agent Finkmeyer smiled smugly as he capped his communicator and left his post at the third floor window in the safe house. “This is going to be rich”, he muttered as he descended the narrow stairwell. Reaching the main floor he opened the doors to the parlor and stepped in. Nurse Elma was bending over her patient, preparing to inject another dose of sedative into the IV port, so intent upon her task that she jumped as Finkmeyer called out.
“Nurse, stop right now! Do not give that bastard the injection,” Finkmeyer demanded.
“Agent Finkmeyer! What’s wrong?”
“You are not to give Kuryakin any more sedatives!”
“But, Mr. Solo gave me orders to...”
“Napoleon Solo is no longer giving the orders.” Finkmeyer sneered. “He has been relieved of duty and is currently in an interrogation cell keeping the bunk warm. Now move away from the prisoner,” he ordered sharply.
“I can’t do that, Agent Finkmeyer! This man needs continuous medical attention and he needs the sedative to help keep him calm. It will help him heal faster.”
“The Section 1 Chiefs want him coherent during interrogation and for his trial. Besides, he won’t be needing to worry about healing. The little Commie’s only going to have to worry about one more injection. The one that will carry out his execution! Now, move...away...from...the prisoner!” He pulled his special from his shoulder holster to further convince her he meant business. With his other hand he opened his communicator and gave the signal for the waiting enforcement team to enter the building and take Kuryakin back to the medical holding cell at headquarters.
Fernando Yrigollen, Section 1 chief of South America, followed the guards and Napoleon Solo to the interrogation cells. As they stepped in to the security area, Yrigollen grabbed Solo’s collar and spun him around to face him.
“I don’t know what you were thinking, Solo. We know that Kuryakin is alive and where he is being stashed away. Rest assured that he is being returned as we speak, and he will stand trial for murder and treason tomorrow. Then we’ll deal with you.
“Mr. Williams, this man is to receive only the basic needs. No radio, no television, and no communicating with the guards!”
The man turned away and headed back to Mr. Waverly’s office.
Bill Williams was angry and frustrated as he watched three of his agents go through the protocol of booking a prisoner. It was a rather humiliating procedure not only for the sake of security but also designed to humiliate and break down the confidence of a prisoner. Prisoners were given a full body and cavity search. Full face and profile photographs were taken and then prisoners were finger printed. Never mind that the man in front of him was the most trusted agent in UNCLE. Never mind that they already possessed several id photos and that he had been finger printed many times before.
Embarrassed for Solo, as well as himself, he approached his prisoner.
“I’m sorry, Napoleon, this is not the way I would have handled the matter if I hadn’t been ordered to do so.”
Napoleon gave a sad half smile, shrugged his shoulders, and looked his friend in the eye. “Bill, it’s okay. You and your men need to follow standard procedure no matter who the prisoner is, that’s called doing your job. Besides, you don’t want the Powers that Be breathing down your neck as well. You just do what you have to do.”
“But this just plain isn’t right, Napo...”
“Bill, it’s really okay.” He looked at the other agents who were waiting to go through the procedures. “Gentlemen, let’s say we get on with it.” And he started undressing.
After the booking process, Napoleon stood in front of the cell door with his hands cuffed behind his back. He had been stripped, searched, and given a jumpsuit to wear. His face was a mask of calm hiding the turmoil that dwelled within him. There must be a mole within the New York office. How else would Yrigollen know that Illya is alive? One of the guards asked him to move forward into the cell. The door was closed and locked. Napoleon backed up to the bars and extended his wrists so the cuffs could be removed. Once his wrists were freed he walked over to the bunk and laid down. There was nothing more he could do except worry and sleep and right now he needed to sleep.
The white van, escorted by the agents in the two sedans, pulled into the emergency vehicle bay in the underground garage at UNCLE headquarters. Finkmeyer walked to the back of the van. Jerking the double doors open, he grabbed at the gurney Kuryakin was on and gave it a hard pull causing the medical attendants to lose their hold of the IV bags and their grip on the handrails and nearly upending it as it hit the ground with a vicious thud.
The injured agent screamed. The jarring pain from the harsh jolt was more than the pain drugs could compensate for, and the IV ports pulled hard at his skin.
“Hey, Finkmeyer! Take it easy!” One of the agents yelled. “What’s your problem, man?”
Finkmeyer spun around, anger coloring his face. “What? You want to molly coddle this son of a bitch? Have you forgotten that he killed the Old Man? Or are you some kind of Commie lover?”
“Allegedly killed Waverly, Finkmeyer. Allegedly,” the agent retorted. He didn’t particularly care for Kuryakin, but he liked Finkmeyer a whole lot less. “We’ll let the Chiefs decide his fate at the trial. Meanwhile, back off, man!”
Finkmeyer backed off. The medical attendants and nurse Elma checked their patient over then rapidly made their way to the infirmary and the medical holding cell.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
January 4 12:30
The elevator opened on the floor where the UNCLE infirmary was located. The ding signaling its arrival along with the sound of the gurney’s wheels rattling over the car’s threshold alerted the waiting personnel that their patient had arrived. Instantly, the sound of hurried soft soled shoes could be heard as nurses and orderlies rushed to their stations to receive their patient. With the ease of long practice and experience they moved the gurney into one of the medical holding cells and transferred Kuryakin onto a hospital bed. Nurse Elma found they had to redo the IV lines thanks to Finkmeyer’s harsh treatment. Monitors were hooked up and the assistants stood back to let Dr. Evans step in and assess his patient. As he listened with the stethoscope to Illya’s heart Sr. Yrigollen and a couple of Section 3 agents came up behind him and stood to one side giving the doctor time to finish.
Dr. Evan stood up, looped the stethoscope around his neck, and turned to Sr. Yrigollen.
“How is he, doctor?” the Section 1 chief inquired.
“He’s very weak, sir. His body has been so badly stressed and traumatized over the past two days that it’s a miracle that he hasn’t succumbed to shock.”
“But he will live, yes?”
“Yes sir. He should recover, although it will take several months.”
“Good!” He signaled the agents to handcuff the doctor.
“What’s the meaning of this?” the doctor struggled against the agents, men whom he knew well. They looked away avoiding the glare he cast in their direction.
“Now, Dr. Evans, you will accompany these agents to security where you are to be placed under arrest.”
Dr. Evan’s face paled. “Wha...what for?”
“Doctor, certainly you cannot deny aiding the prisoner beyond his medical needs, and let’s not forget the little matter of conspiring with a traitor to deceive the Command. Agents take this man to his cell.”
The security agents escorted a loudly protesting Dr. Evans out of the infirmary.
Yrigollen turned his attention to Elma. “Nurse, I understand you have been tending to the prisoner since he arrived.”
Elma gulped and nodded her head.
“Good. Make sure he is clear headed by tomorrow, and you are not to involve anymore medical personnel than the ones that are already here. For his protection, I don’t want anyone to know that Kuryakin is here. Tomorrow the other Section 1 chiefs will be here for his trial.”
“But...but, sir, this man needs to be monitored by one of the doctors,” she sputtered.
“Nonsense, he was obviously in good care at the safe house without the aid of a doctor. Have one of the orderlies help you and stay with this man. I hold you responsible for having him alert and ready for his trial. Do you understand?”
Elma resisted the urge to tell this unpleasant man exactly what she thought of him and his orders. The only reason she held back her rage was that Illya Kuryakin needed someone who cared what was happening to him, an ally. If she got herself dismissed, or worse, arrested then who would be there for the injured agent?
“Yes, I understand.”
“When Kuryakin wakens I want to be called immediately.”
As Sr. Yrigollen left Elma turned to her patient to check his vitals then took a seat next to the bed. As she watched her sleeping patient she wondered what the next day would bring to him.
January 4 17:48
Medical! It smells like medical! As Illya Kuryakin awakened he felt as if he was wading through layers of wool. His brain was muzzy, but he was alert enough to recognize that he was no longer at the safe house. He turned his head and saw Elma dozing in the chair beside his bed.
“Nur...,” he croaked. He swallowed and tried again. “Nurse?”
Elma, instantly awake, looked towards her charge and saw the pained blue eyes watching her.
“Mr. Kuryakin, I’m glad to see you awake.” Turning to the room’s telephone she made a call to Mr. Yrigollen. “Yes, sir, I’m calling as you requested. Yes, sir he is awake.” She hung up the receiver and turned to her patient.
“How are you feeling?” Elma’s hands moved quickly over her patient as she checked his bandages and took his vitals.
He ignored her question, more concerned as to why he had been moved back to UNCLE headquarters.
“Wha...what happened? Why am I here?”
Teary eyed Elma exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Kuryakin! Sr. Yrigollen from the South American headquarters has taken over here.” Before she could continue Fernando Yrigollen strode into the room and immediately asserted his authority.
“Nurse, please leave us. Mr. Kuryakin and I need to have a private discussion,” he ordered brusquely.
“Yes, sir.” Elma gave Illya a quick pat on his good shoulder and left the room.
“Well, Mr. Kuryakin, I am Sr. Yrigollen from the South American office. I believe we have had the pleasure of meeting once before. Although not so pleasurable this time, no? It seems as if you have quite a bit of explaining to do! Not that it matters. You have too many witnesses that are ready to testify against you.”
Kuryakin turned his head to face the man eye to eye. His body stiff with both pain and defiance. “I would like to speak with Napoleon Solo.”
“I’m afraid that is impossible.” The man laughed. “You, see he is being held in one of the interrogation cells.”
“No! You can’t. Solo has done nothing wrong!” Illya gasped, losing what little volume he had to his voice.
“Really, Mr. Kuryakin, I believe your friend can say goodbye to his days with UNCLE for aiding a rogue agent.” Yrigollen leaned in closer toward his prisoner and spoke in a low, dangerous voice, “You do know they have a special place for his kind. We’ll lock him away and throw away the key.” Without another word he turned and left.
Illya allowed himself to sink further into the pillow. Panic and fear threatened to well up inside him. He clenched the hand of his good arm into a tight fist actually drawing blood from his finger nails digging into his palm. He wasn’t worried for himself. He knew he was a dead man. He had killed Mr. Waverly and knew the punishment for such an act, no matter what his actual intentions were. But Napoleon had done nothing wrong. He didn’t deserve such suspicion or treatment.
January 4 21:00
Security Chief, Bill Williams, folded the interoffice memo he had received from Section1 and put it in his pocket. Taking a deep breath he let it out slowly trying to find a way to calm himself. The events of the last several days was taking a toll on all of UNCLE Northwest. He still couldn’t believe that Mr. Waverly was gone. The plans for Kuryakin to stand trial for his boss’s death had polarized the local UNCLE personnel. To further complicate and destabilize the climate of the New York headquarters their CEO was confined to a security cell and Section 1 taken over by South America’s Section 1 chief.
“Shit!” he ran his hand through his hair, got up and walked down the hallway to Napoleon Solo’s cell.
Awakened by the key turning the lock of his cell door, Napoleon swung his feet over the side of his cot and sat up. It seemed that he had just fallen asleep as he spent a lot of time stewing about Illya. The security agents had confiscated his watch, among other things, and he could not be sure how much time had past.
Agent Williams entered the cell and Napoleon could tell the man did not have good news. Without a word Williams handed the interoffice memo to his prisoner and gave the man a moment to read it.
To: Agent Williams, Security Chief, Section 3
From: Fernando Yrigollen, Section 1 of South America, Acting head of Section 1 Northwest
Re: Kuryakin, Illya Nicovitch, Number 2, suspended from Section 2 - to be tried for murder and treason
* All Section 1 Chiefs are present and will preside over the trial of Agent Kuryakin
beginning tomorrow, January 5, at 08:00. Please have the prisoner escorted to the
Section 1 conference room by 07:45. He is to be brought there by wheelchair and physically restrained.
* Ask the medical section to have lethal injection ready for immediate execution should a verdict of guilty be imposed.
* Regarding Napoleon Solo: Have a monitor brought to his cell so that he may observe the proceedings.
However, no one is to discuss the proceedings with him.
“Napoleon, what should I do? This man is gunning for both you and Mr. Kuryakin. If Yrigollen has his way Illya will be facing a kangaroo court! Then the son of a bitch will come after you!”
Solo looked up from the memo he was reading. “It does look that way, doesn’t it, Bill.”
He paused for a moment as he wrestled with what to do next. “Listen, Bill, I need you to contact Peter Mitchell as soon as possible.”
“Well sure, Napoleon. But how can Mitchell help?”
“Bill, Mr. Waverly isn’t dead. Peter is guarding him at the UNCLE safe house in Englewood, New Jersey. We’ve been sequestering the Old Man there to keep him safe from whomever is trying to kill him.
“Look,” he continued after seeing utter disbelief in his security chief’s eyes. “I’m sorry for the deception, but we have been trying to lay a trap for the ones involved with the plot to kidnap and kill Mr. Waverly. Now we need to bring Mr. Waverly in and stop the trial. Can you do that for me, Bill? Illya’s life depends upon it.”
“Of course, Napoleon. I’ll call Peter right away.”
As Agent Williams left Napoleon’s cell and turned to lock the door an announcement was made over the intercom system.
“Effective immediately UNCLE headquarters will be under a code red lockdown. No one will be allowed to come in or leave the building. A communications blackout is also in effect. All incoming and outgoing communications have been suspended. This protocol will remain in effect until all Section 1 chiefs have left the building. Repeat: we are now in a code red building and communications lockdown.”
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
January 5 06:30
Illya Kuryakin was awakened at 06:30 when the guard opened his cell to allow a breakfast tray to be delivered. The guard raised the head of the bed to help the injured agent sit up and lifted the cover off the platter of food and saw Kuryakin grimace at the offered meal.
“Is something wrong, Mr. Kuryakin?” The guard, Simon LaRue, liked his superior and found it hard to believe that Kuryakin could possibly be guilty of the crimes for which he was accused. Yet, Mr. Waverly was dead and there had been witnesses.
Illya shook his head wearily. Fighting the pain he half smiled and with a macabre sense of humor croaked out, “No, Mr. LaRue, nothing is wrong. It just seems that a condemned man would get something other than green jello for his last meal.”
Simon, uneasy with the direction the conversation was going, shrugged his shoulders and left the cell. As he turned to lock the door he spoke. “Mr. Kuryakin, try to eat something, sir. Nurse Townsend will be in in a few minutes.”
The Russian sighed and pushed the platter away. He must have dozed off as he gradually became aware of Elma Townsend fussing over him.
“Good morning, Mr. Kuryakin. How are you feeling, today? How is your pain level?” She was not merely making small talk, she truly wondered if his pain had lessened over the night especially without the aid of sedatives and in spite of the reduced dosage of pain killers.
“Don’t worry about me, Nurse Townsend, I’m alright.”
She watched his face as she checked his bandages and saw the truth in the gray pained eyes.
“I’ve been ordered to get you cleaned up and ready for the hearing, Mr. Kuryakin.” She picked up the breakfast tray. “I’ll be back in just a minute to give you a sponge bath.” She left quickly before he could see the tears in her eyes.
Bill Williams had not slept all night. He had tried every avenue to circumvent the protocols put in place by his own security section during the red alert. Once the computers had been programmed for a red alert, only a Section 1 chief could disengage them. If circumstances hadn’t been so dire he would have been proud of the security protocols his section had created so well.
Instead, he spent the rest of the night in conference with several of his agents formulating a plan.
At 07:15, Agent Williams entered Napoleon Solo’s cell pushing a television before him. Solo, who had just finished his breakfast, was expecting his security chief and rose and greeted him solemnly.
“ ‘morning, Bill.”
Williams could barely make eye contact with his CEA. “Here’s the closed circuit tv, Mr. Solo, so you can watch the hearing.” He paused, “I’m sorry, sir, I was unable to get word to Pete Mitchell, but we haven’t given up trying, sir.”
Napoleon gave the man a funny look as he had not missed the use of the word “we”.
“What about Dr. Evans, Bill. Will he be testifying on Illya’s behalf?”
“I’m sorry, sir. Dr. Evans has also been arrested and is in one of the cells in the next corridor.”
Damn! Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Solo paced for a few minutes before taking a deep breath and faced his security chief.
“Thank you, Bill, for everything you’ve done. Now I guess we have to trust that the truth will prevail.” His own words sounded hollow even to him. He feared greatly for Illya’s life. He fervently wished he could visit with his partner before the hearing. “How is Illya this morning?”
“I don’t know, Napoleon,” he replied dropping any pretense of formality. “I am about to go up and take him to the hearing.”
Napoleon’s eyes burned as he grabbed Agent William’s arm. “Bill...,” he stopped, swallowed then tried again. “Bill, tell him...tell him...,” his voice trailed off. Tell him what, he berated himself, that you’re sorry you sent your own friend to his death because you used him to try and trap the real traitor? That you got too clever for yours or his own good?
Agent Williams clasped Solo’s shoulder. “I’ll tell him, Napoleon, that we are rooting for him. He’ll understand.” He patted Napoleon’s shoulder and left the cell.
The label on the door “Section 1 conference room” was a misnomer. It was less of a conference room and more of a lecture hall utilized by U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Continuing education classes were often held there to keep agents apprised of the latest technological advances in the area of forensics as well as other skills needed to fight the constant efforts of groups such as THRUSH.
The seats were occupied mostly by Section 2 and 3 agents. A few were occupied by secretarial and other support staff members. Undercurrents of anger and disbelief towards Kuryakin flowed through the audience as they waited to hear the fate of one of their own.
In the front of the room were five chairs both in front of and behind a table. Four men, each person a CEA of their headquarters and acting personal assistant for their Section 1 chief, sat in front of the table facing the audience.
Seated in four of the chairs behind the table were the Section 1 chiefs of UNCLE from around the world.
The center chairs in front and behind the table, the one designated for UNCLE Northwest and his CEA, remained empty. The symbolism was not lost on the audience and the angry buzz containing the word “traitor” rose to a crescendo. Several agents glanced about uneasily as the mob mentality swept through the room.
At precisely 07:45 the security doors opened and Agent Williams, followed by five Section 3 agents, wheeled Illya Kuryakin into the conference room where the hearing was being held. The accused agent, ‘though propped up with pillows, slouched in his wheel chair. Nurse Townsend, who had been called in to keep an eye on the prisoner, checked the IV pole and lines before standing back. Williams then wheeled him up to a table and set the brakes before giving Illya a reassuring squeeze on his shoulder before taking his place by Elma Townsend.
“Agent Williams,” an electronic squeal squawked as Fernando Yrigollen spoke through a microphone, “why is the prisoner not restrained as ordered?”
Bill Williams stepped forward. “Begging your pardon, Sr. Yrigollen, such actions are superfluous. Mr. Kuryakin is unable to attempt an escape. He was unable to assist in helping him into the wheelchair. He is incapacitated by his medical condition. He is essentially already restrained by his injuries.”
Yrigollen covered the microphone with his hand while he conferred with the other Section 1 chiefs. With a nod of their heads he turned back to the mic. “All right, Agent Williams, you may leave the prisoner unrestrained for now. However, you are held responsible for keeping him here in this room. Do you understand?”
Williams face turned beet red and he worked the muscles in his jaw as he refrained from responding with an angry retort. Taking a deep breath he replied, “Of course, sir.”
One of the agents on security detail was Gerald Finkmeyer. He looked briefly towards the panel and smirked as he caught the eye of one of the men.
“Agent Kuryakin,” Sr. Yrigollen called.
Upon hearing his name, Illya sat a little straighter in his chair, at least as much as his injuries allowed.
“Yes, sir,” came the strained response.
Illya looked towards the speaker taking note of who was present. He knew all the men, if not personally, then from their photos. On his left was Tanaki Yamagoto from the Asian region and in front of him his CEA , Kim Ji-hoon. Next was Henry Schmidt and his CEA, John Oosthuizen, representing Africa and the Mideast. His eyes lingered for just an extra moment over the empty chairs in the center before moving on to the right. Next, was Fernando Yrigollen and his CEA, Jaime Jaquez. Farthest to the right was Edward Lundstrum and his CEO, Terrance Payne, representing UNCLE Northeast.
Kuryakin continued scanning the room and to the right his attention was drawn to a waiting gurney complete with restraints. Sitting on it wrapped in a sterile transparent package were two vials and a syringe. He knew their purpose.
“Mr. Kuryakin, we are ready to begin. Do you have anything to say before we commence these proceedings?’
The Russian agent looked around the room before speaking. He was fully aware of the unfriendly faces in the seats behind him, but there were some friends there as well. However, the one person he needed was absent.
“If it please the Board, I would like to request that Agent Napoleon Solo be allowed to act as my spokesperson.
“Request denied!” Yrigollen barked into the mic.
Yamagoto spoke up. “Is there a reason why Agent Solo cannot appear before us and represent the accused?”
“I’m afraid it is quite impossible and totally inappropriate,” Yrigollen replied.
“And may I ask why?” Schmitt inquired. “It seems that would be a small thing to ask.”
“Mr. Solo is incarcerated for aiding and abetting this man,” Yrigollen gestured at Illya. “He is awaiting a trial himself.”
His answer was considered satisfactory to the other three men and they nodded for Yrigollen to continue.
Napoleon Solo sat in his cell watching the proceedings on the monitor. His knuckles were white from gripping the table so hard. He was dismayed at how haggard his friend looked. His heart broke as he watched Illya’s request for his presence at the meeting denied. Hang in there, Illya. Oh dear God, please help him.
Solo reached over to turn up the volume and continued to watch as Fernando Yrigollen continued with the hearing.
“Agent Illya Nicovetch Kuryakin, you are accused of murdering Section 1 Chief of U.N.C.L.E. Northeast, Alexander Waverly, in cold blood. How do you plead?”
Illya Kuryakin’s eyes strayed to the empty chairs. Of course, it wasn’t murder, but the result of a plan to save the man’s life gone horribly awry. No matter, he thought. Mr. Waverly is still dead and by my hand. He looked back to Sr. Yrigollen and the rest of the board. His eyes fixed on the one person who was responsible for this whole sordid affair.
“Mr. Kuryakin, we are waiting for your answer! How do you plead?”
“Yes, Mr. Waverly died by my hand,” he wheezed.
The collective gasp and angry murmurings from the gallery was interrupted by the hammering of the gavel Sr. Yrigollen had in his hand.
“Let the record show that the prisoner has confessed to the death of Alexander Waverly.” He turned to Illya. “Illya Nicovetch Kuryakin, because of your admission of guilt, this hearing is now ended. You will be executed immediately by lethal injection. Guards, bring the gurney over and prepare him for the injection.”
Illya Kuryakin slowly pushed himself out of his wheel chair to stand before the board.
“Sir, I accept my sentence, but there is something you must know. There is a trai...”
“Sit down! You have already confessed. There is nothing more you can say that will change the course of action or have any bearing on our decision.” Sr. Yrigollen nodded to Finkmeyer and the other guards who moved in quickly. They lifted Kuryakin onto the gurney and used the straps to restrain his chest, hips, arms and legs.
An executioner, trained specifically in lethal injections opened the package and prepared the syringe.
“No! Oh God, please, no!” Napoleon yelled as he watched helplessly from his cell as the camera showed the executioner approaching his partner and best friend. A second later the closed circuit tv went blank.
Solo let out an anguished sob, “Illya, forgive me. Oh God, Illya!”
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
January 5 08:15
A cruel half-smile stretched over the lips of one of the men sitting facing the gallery of spectators. Soon he would be rid of one more problem that had come close to upsetting his and his sponsor’s plan. Kuryakin had been a thorn in his side for a very long time, ever since the Russian had first joined U.N.C.L.E. He wasn’t surprised by the SOB’S confession. Kuryakin had always been honest and loyal to an annoying fault.
His heart did skip a beat when Kuryakin tried to tell the board there was a traitor amongst them, but Fernando Yrigollen’s over zealous determination to play the role of head man effectively put the kibosh on that. He let out a soft sigh of relief.
He watched as Finkmeyer and the other Section 3 agents strapped the condemned agent onto the gurney. Finkmeyer had been extremely helpful keeping him informed of Kuryakin’s status and what part Napoleon Solo had in hiding his accused partner. It made it that much easier to have his sponsor convince Yrigollen of Solo’s complicity and drawing attention away from himself. Yes, Finkmeyer had been helpful and he would give the man his due later.
The tension was thick as silence filled the room. An occasional sob could be heard from some of the support staff. The traitor watched as the executioner approached the gurney and began to insert the filled syringe into the IV port.
“FREEZE RIGHT THERE!” Agent Bill Williams and twenty other men stationed throughout the room stood as one with their UNCLE specials in carbine mode. They rushed to the front of the room and surrounded the gurney facing themselves out the way a herd would when trying to protect the young and weak.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sr. Yrigollen asked indignantly.
“Sir,” Williams raised himself to full his full height of 6’ 6” and spoke. “You have condemned an innocent man to death. Alexander Waverly is very much alive!”
Illya Kuryakin had resigned himself to death, welcomed it, actually. So he was almost distraught to hear those words.
“Bill,” he called out weakly. “Please, do not make this harder for me. I know you are just trying to help, but this isn’t the way.”
“No, Illya! Mr. Waverly truly is alive.”
“So where is Alexander Waverly? Why isn’t he here to speak on Kuryakin’s behalf?” demanded Edward Lundstrom on UNCLE Northeast. “Why hasn’t he addressed the board?”
“Sir, you’ll have to ask Agent Solo,” Williams replied. “He was in charge here until Sr. Yrigollen arrived. I respectfully suggest you bring him here so he can address the Board. He’ll be able to tell you Mr. Waverly’s whereabouts.”
“Nonsense!” Terrance Payne, CEO of Europe stood up. He’s incarcerated because of his alleged complicity. Guards take these men!”
Twenty-one UNCLE carbines were raised to twenty-one shoulders and Williams spoke again.
“I think not, Sir. We will not surrender ourselves or Agent Kuryakin until Agent Solo is brought here an allowed to speak.” The tall Security Chief barked out an order to one of the men. “Agent Kidder! Go down to the detention area and bring both Napoleon Solo and Dr. Evans here immediately.”
“Yes, sir! With pleasure!” Kidder left the room. No one else was permitted to leave.
The closed circuit tv lay shattered against the far wall of Napoleon Solo’s cell. He had picked it up and heaved it in his frustration and unbridled grief. Illya was gone, terminated unjustly. His friend and comrade payed the ultimate sacrifice for his loyalty to the U.N.C.L.E. and his Chief. Napoleon promised himself that he would petition Mr. Waverly to posthumously award Illya the Command’s highest award for meritorious service and valor above and beyond the call of duty.
Napoleon brushed the hair off of his forehead and scrubbed at his whiskers as he moved to his cot. If only he could go to sleep and wake up to find this was all just a really crappy nightmare. His thoughts tormented him with all of the “if only’s” that haunted him. If only Illya hadn’t been shot, if only Mr. Waverly had been able to testify on Illya’s behalf, if only..... No! Those thoughts would serve no purpose. He needed to concentrate on how to expose the true traitor before anyone else was accused falsely and before he could bring his nefarious plan to fruition. Over my dead body! He promised himself. He owed Illya that much.
The pounding of running foot steps through the corridor brought Napoleon out of his malaise. He looked up to see Agent Kidder unlocking his cell door.
“Mr. Kidder, what’s going on?”
“Come with me, Mr. Solo,” the agent replied breathlessly. “Agent Williams has a plan and needs you and Dr. Evans to come to the hearing, post haste!”
“A plan that is too late for Illya,” Napoleon lamented.
Agent Kidder gave him a funny look and realized what must have happened.
“Oh, no, sir! Mr. Kuryakin is still alive and there are twenty good men up there risking their careers and possibly lives to keep him that way. That’s why we need you to come quickly.”
The CEA of UNCLE didn’t need a second invitation. Grabbing his suit coat he followed Kidder.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Chapter 14 the traitorous act affair
Napoleon and Agent Kidder stopped in front of the conference room doors to catch their breath.
“Sir, I will go in ahead of you to make sure everything’s okay.” Kidder opened the doors and moved into the room giving a nod to Agent Williams.
Napoleon entered a few seconds behind the agent. In spite of his rumpled and unshaven appearance the man was the epitome of calm and assured grace. His eyes sought out Illya Kuryakin’s gurney but couldn’t see him for the circle of protection offered by so many agents. Ignoring the panel of Section 1 chiefs and their CEAs, Napoleon broke through the circle and stood by his friend. Leaning over he spoke softly into his partner’s ear.
“Hey, Partner. How are you doing?” His hand rested on Illya’s leg. “I see you started the party without me.”
Angry blue eyes met his for a brief moment before his friend looked away. “What kept you?” was the icy reply.
Napoleon’s eyes narrowed at the rancor evident in Illya’s pained voice, but he kept up the pretense of banter. “Well, you know me, Partner, I like to make a grand entrance.”
He backed away from the gurney, pushed through the protective circle once again and faced his superiors.
“Ah, good morning gentlemen. It seems that we have a bit of a misunderstanding here.”
“Mr. Solo, your propensity for understatement is most annoying,” sputtered Fernando Yrigollen. “You are interrupting legal proceedings. There is nothing you can say that will save Mr. Kuryakin from execution. He has admitted to killing Mr. Waverly and is found guilty by the Section 1 board.” He turned to several agents standing by the dais. “Gentlemen, please escort Mr. Solo back to his cell. The men moved hesitantly towards Solo while keeping a nervous eye towards Bill Williams and his security men.
Again, twenty weapons were snapped to shoulders. Some of the men broke from the circle surrounding Kuryakin and positioned themselves between Napoleon Solo and the approaching agents.
“Excuse me, Sr. Yrigollen, but you seem to have forgotten that I’m calling the shots right now,” Agent Williams interceded. He turned to Napoleon and winked before continuing, “At this moment I am handing the reins over to Mr. Solo, who should have been the one allowed to lead this investigation from the get go!”
Napoleon stepped forward to address his superiors.
“Gentlemen, Agent Williams’ initiative has prevented you from making an egregious error.” He spoke softly, his voice taking on a low dangerous tone. “Agent Kuryakin has done nothing wrong. Mr. Waverly is very much alive and he is that way because of Illya’s professionalism and loyalty to both UNCLE and Mr. Waverly.”
“Mr. Solo!” interrupted UNCLE’s Northeast chief, Edward Lundstrum. “How is this possible? We have witnesses that unequivocally state they saw Mr. Waverly shot. Two of your men witnessed Kuryakin’s actions.”
“No!” Napoleon shouted. “Mr. Kuryakin did shoot Mr. Waverly, but only with a fast acting tranquilizer to simulate death! He was trying to extricate Mr. Waverly from...”
“Mr. Solo,” Henry Schmidt of Africa called out. “I am confused. If Mr. Waverly is indeed alive, why did you keep up the pretense of his death? Why would you have jeopardized Mr. Kuryakin’s life by not revealing to us the truth? And, where is Mr. Waverly now?”
As the drama unfolded in the conference room, nearly everyone’s attention was focused on the exchange between Solo and the board. Agent Finkmeyer, who was standing at the perimeter of the crowd, slowly worked his way towards Kuryakin’s gurney. He melted into the group providing protection for the injured agent. He eyed the stainless steel tray that held three separate syringes.
“Ah yes, sir. All good questions and I’ll be happy to answer them,” Solo responded. “I’ll answer the last question first, if you’ll indulge me. Mr. Waverly is currently at one of our safe houses for his own protection, Sir.”
“Tell us, Mr. Solo,” asked, Tanaki Yamagoto, “why would Alexander need to be sequestered from headquarters? If circumstances are as you say, we would not be having this discussion, and I dare say, you’re partner would not be facing execution.
“And you, Mr. Solo, have gone out of your way to lie to this panel and make us think that Mr. Kuryakin was dead. Why should we trust you?”
Napoleon Solo looked down for a split second, swallowed and then looked Yamagoto in the eye as he straightened his posture and addressed the panel.
“Yes, I did mislead you and for that I make no apologies. I kept Section 1 in the dark because there is a traitor amongst you and I ...”
“This is preposterous. I have heard enough!” shouted Sr. Yrigollen. “Mr. Solo, you have gone too far. Gentlemen, I submit to you that this man has sold his soul to the devil himself and will do or say anything to save his partner.”
“No! No, you are wrong, Sr. Yrigollen, and I can prove it! Let me have Mr. Waverly brought here. He’ll be able to corroborate what I’ve said.”
“Why haven’t you done so already?” inquired Schmidt.
“I was being held in a cell when headquarters was put under a code red, sir. All communications, both incoming and outgoing have been stopped. If you will lift the conditions I can make a call to the agent on protection detail and have Mr. Waverly here in less than an hour.”
“Fernando, I think we should allow Mr. Solo to make his call.”
Sr. Yrigollen reluctantly concurred. He turned to Solo and said, “We will send two of our CEA’s to escort Mr. Waverly here.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but I can’t let that happen. I have no way of knowing how deep this treachery lies. I will direct agents that I know I can trust to escort Mr. Waverly. I want to make sure he gets here safely. We can have a helicopter bring him here. ”
Napoleon nodded to Bill Williams who picked two of his most trusted agents, one of whom was a pilot. Solo quietly told them which safe house and they were on their way. He faced the panel once again, “And now, gentlemen, we wait. I must insist that no one else will be allowed to leave this room.
“When Mr. Waverly arrives both he and Mr. Kuryakin will identify the traitor...”
Elma Townsend screamed and lunged for the gurney.
“Stop him!” shouted one of the agents.
All turned toward the voice in time to see Finkmeyer grab one of the syringes from the tray and plunge it into one of Kuryakin’s IV ports.
“God damn fucking Commie! I hope you rot in ...” He never finished his rant. He crumpled to the floor with a gaping hole in his chest. Bill Williams lowered his specialized Walther, smoke still escaping from the muzzle.
Napoleon turned as Williams shouted in time to see Finkmeyer start to empty the syringe. Only half of the drug was injected before the man could finish his deed.
Agent Kidder directed one of the agents. “Get Dr. Evans here immediately!”
Napoleon and Agent Williams both rushed to Illya’s side. Mere seconds had passed yet Illya was already unconscious, his breathing rate had slowed down dramatically.
“Oh, God, this can’t be happening,” Napoleon begged silently. “Forgive me, Illya.”
Dr. Evans appeared at Napoleon’s side. He inspected the half empty syringe, then checked Kuryakin’s vitals. After listening to the pulse of his heart and carotid arteries, taking the man’s blood pressure, and checking his pupils, Dr. Evans let out a relieved breath and turned to Napoleon.
“He’s going to be okay, Mr. Solo.”
“How’s that possible, doctor?” Agent Williams asked.
“There is a certain medical protocol used in cases of execution by lethal injection, gentlemen. Notice the three syringes? One is filled with phenobarbital which sedates the accused and puts them in an unconscious state. Then a paralytic is introduced which will eventually cause asphyxiation and finally potassium chloride. The potassium chloride is what stops the heart.
“Thankfully, that bastard Finkmeyer, grabbed the phenobarbital. As a result, Mr. Kuryakin is only sedated. A very close call!
“I want to get him down to medical immediately so that he can be monitored carefully.”
“Please, doctor, do so quickly. Agent Kidder, Weston, and Roberts! You are to go with the doctor and provide security for Mr. Kuryakin,” Solo ordered. The three men nodded and left, following the gurney to the elevators.
Solo was quiet for a moment. He felt drained of all energy from the near disaster and took those few seconds to compose himself before turning back to the men sitting at the dais and addressed them with a steady voice, “You asked why I lied to you about Agent Kuryakin’s death. It was for his protection as this was the second attempt to his life.
“Now, gentlemen, I need one of you to give the computer the order to cancel the code red so we can contact Mr. Waverly and get him here. Which one of you will it be?”
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Chapter 15 (conclusion)
While waiting for the helicopter to return, Napoleon Solo insisted that everyone in the room remain seated and had his security agents strategically placed around the dais. Others were interspersed among the crowd watching the proceedings. He didn’t want to risk the chance that loyalties to the traitor ran deeper than was known.
Alexander Waverly arrived in the conference room with little fanfare. His face was somewhat drawn and his pallor suggested that he had certainly endured severe physical hardships recently, yet his carriage and presence left no doubt that he was a man who was in charge. The wheelchair in which he sat did little to diminish the awe and respect the people in the room held for their chief. The low murmur in the room quieted to an expectant silence.
Peter Mitchell pushed the wheelchair to the front of the room and at Mr. Waverly’s direction he turned it so his chief was facing the dais.
Napoleon walked over and shook his boss’s hand and spoke quietly. “Welcome back, sir. I can’t tell you how good it is to see you.”
Slightly embarrassed, Alexander Waverly harrumphed, “Yes, quite, Mr. ah...Solo. Now shall we get on with this unpleasantness?”
“Yes, Sir.” Solo moved away from his superior and stood nearby.
Alexander Waverly turned to face the board. “There seems to be a a question of loyalty and treachery among the U.N.C.L.E.’s personnel. I understand that Agent Kuryakin's loyalty, his very integrity, is in question. Let me assure you, gentlemen, that if it weren't for Mr. Kuryakin's initiative and bravery I would not be standing here addressing you, instead you would be in the process of installing my replacement! I understand that Mr. Kuryakin was to be executed and it was only due to the tenacity of my security chief that the execution was prevented.
“No, gentlemen, the treachery does not lie with Mr. Kuryakin. The real traitor is sitting before me.” He paused and focused on the very man that had for the past two weeks caused so much trouble.
As their chief spoke, four section 3 agents quietly moved towards the end of the table closest to the doors. Napoleon Solo had earlier revealed the turncoat agent’s name, according to Illya, to Bill Williams. He, in turn, had directed his top four agents to stand by for action when Mr. Waverly revealed the person involved.
Alexander Waverly continued, his voice cold, “Mr. Williams, please take Terrance Payne into custody.” The agents swiftly moved in on Europe’s CEA relieving him of his weapon and cuffing his hands behind his back.
Payne fought hard against the agents and when it was obvious that he couldn’t break free, he shouted, “I’m not going to take the heat for this alone!”
Edward Lundstrom, dove out of his chair and grabbed the closest man to use as a shield...Fernando Yrigollen. “Get back or I’ll shoot Waverly!” Lundstrom ordered as he shifted his hold on Yrigollen and pulled his Walther aiming towards Alexander Waverly. The Section 1 Chief of Europe saw movement out of the corner of his eye as several agents began to move in on him. He fired.
Napoleon Solo, who had moved to place himself between the gun and Mr. Waverly, fell to the floor, a pool of dark crimson flowing beneath him. Pfft, pfft, pfft. The report of three specials reverberated through the small room as three sleeping darts found their target. Lundstrom also fell to the floor.
“Get those two out of here. Take them to interrogation,” Waverly ordered. “And summon Dr. Evans up here, tell him we have an agent down.” He looked down to see several agents kneeling next to his CEA trying desperately to staunch the flow of blood that was spilling from a bullet wound in Solo’s lower left abdomen. Napoleon’s skin had turned an alarming shade of gray. He moaned as strong hands applied pressure to his wound both in front and back.
Dr. Evans and a crew from medical arrived with a gurney. Gently, they lifted Solo onto it. Dr. Evan’s took a few seconds to assess the damage before turning to Waverly with a worried expression. “I don’t know, Sir!” he answered the chief’s unspoken question. “I’m taking him to surgery right now. I’ll let you know when I know more.” With that he rushed out of the room following the gurney down the corridor.
Four harrowing hours later, Dr. Evans called up to Mr. Waverly’s office.
“It was touch and go for awhile, Mr. Waverly, but Agent Solo is out of immediate danger. We have to watch for any post op infections, but he should do just fine.”
“Very well, doctor. Please keep me posted.” He toggled the switch and closed the link between them. In the privacy of his office, he allowed himself a moment of reflection of the events over the past two weeks and how close he came to losing both of his top agents. Hell, he still may have lost them from field work depending how able they were to recover from their injuries.
The familiar smell of a hospital room was the first sensation of which Illya Kuryakin was aware. The incessant beeps of a medical monitor hammered at his brain keeping time with the pounding of his pulse. Slowly, he dared to open his eyes and saw that he was in a hospital room.
The last that he remembered was being in the conference room and watching helplessly as Agent Finkmeyer grabbed a syringe and plunged it into his IV port before darkness took over. Am I dead? I should be dead. The pain from his wounds and the pounding in his head assured him that he was indeed very much alive. Kuryakin moved to get comfortable and realized that he was no longer restrained.
More of the proceedings from the conference room came back to him. He remembered admitting to killing Alexander Waverly. He remembered trying to explain about the traitor that was sitting in their midst before being cut off by Sr. Yrigollen. He also remembered Bill Williams explaining to him that Mr. Waverly was alive.Why did Napoleon lie to me?
Elma Townsend came into Illya’s room to check on her patient. “Oh, Mr. Kuryakin, I see you’re awake. How are you feeling?”
“Other than I feel like I was run over by a tank and my head hurts, I am fine, nurse.” The sound of his own voice surprised him somewhat as it was stronger than the last time he spoke. “What happened?”
Elma Townsend looked down briefly before saying, “The doctor will be in shortly, Mr. Kuryakin, and he will fill you in.”
“What aren’t you telling me? Is something wrong?”
Dr. Evans came through the door and answered for Nurse Townsend. “Quite the contrary, Mr. Kuryakin! Everything seems to be settling down. Mr. Waverly is fine and resting in his office.”
“So Mr. Waverly is alive.” Illya relaxed visibly, his shoulders less tense and the stress lines on his face softened.
“Yes, Mr. Solo will be in here soon and Mr. Waverly will come and talk with both of you.”
Before he could comment further, two orderlies came through the room’s door wheeling in a gurney.
Illya gasped as he saw his partner being wheeled in hooked up to IV’s and monitors. His irritation at Napoleon’s lie dampened by concern for his partner.
“Doctor, what happened?
“He got in front of a bullet meant for Mr. Waverly.”
Illya watched as the men transferred Napoleon to the bed next to his. “Will he be okay, doctor?”
“He should be fine. I would say that between the two of you our nursing staff and physical therapists will be kept busy for several weeks. Given the reputation you both have, I think I will recommend to the Old Man that all medical personnel who deal with you should receive hazard pay for the duration.”
Dr. Evans and Elma checked to make sure Napoleon was settled and the machines were working properly. Before leaving the room he turned to the blond agent, “Get some rest, Illya, you’re going to need it.”
Several hours later, Alexander Waverly visited Medical to visit his agents. Peter Mitchell, who was still guarding Mr. Waverly until Solo released him, pushed Waverly’s wheel chair into Solo and Kuryakin’s room, then left to stand outside the door.
Waverly watched as both injured men dozed. Dr. Evans had briefed the chief on the medical conditions of his two top agents, and Bill Williams and Peter Mitchell had filled him in on the events leading up to the hearing. It had been a close one, too damn close for comfort. The U.N.C.L.E Northwest had nearly lost him and its two top agents due to an inherent trait found in most agents...stubbornness. If he had not been so stubborn he would have listened to his CEA’s advice to stay at headquarters until the immediate threat against him passed, and five good men would not have lost their lives.
If Kuryakin had listened to him while they were both incarcerated the young man would not have come back to the compound to rescue him, and his number two man wouldn’t have faced trial for treason nor would there have been an order for execution pronounced against him. Nor would Solo have been put in the position of throwing himself into the path of a bullet meant for him.
Yet, all of those unfortunate events were instrumental in bringing down the two traitors. It seems even a spy’s darkest cloud can have a silver lining. Waverly’s musings was interrupted by a groan from Kuryakin as the man attempted to find a more comfortable position in his bed.
Illya awoke and attempted to turn over to relieve some pressure from being on his back for a long period of time. As he maneuvered himself into a more comfortable position he became acutely aware that there was another person in the room by the door. He opened his eyes to see his boss watching him carefully.
“Mr. Waverly, I’m glad to see you up and about, sir.” Seeing his chief alive was a relief, however the wheel chair was a reminder that his superior had been through a rough time.
“Yes, and I have you to thank for that young man. How are you feeling?”
“I’ll be fine, sir. I’m more worried about Napoleon. I understand he was shot. What happened, sir?”
“All in due time, Mr. Kuryakin. When you and Mr. Solo are able to move about in wheel chairs I want to meet with you for a debriefing. Until then you both need to get plenty of rest.” Before Illya could reply Waverly had turned and left the room.
Later that evening Napoleon Solo woke enough to realize that he was in one of the rooms in medical. The bizarre events of the morning came back to him with all too much clarity. Mr. Waverly! Was the chief okay? Did security get the two bastards? He felt someone watching him. He turned his head to the right to see the welcomed sight of two ice blue Russian eyes watching him.
Any residual anger Illya had felt towards his friend for the lie about Waverly’s death instantly melted away.
“Welcome back, Napoleon. I see you did not trust me down here by myself and had to go get shot just so you could keep me company.” His bemused half smile did not hide the concern in his eyes.
“Well, someone has to keep you out of trouble,” Napoleon retorted and promptly fell asleep.
Chapter 16: Conclusion
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.”