road stretched out into the night, both its beginning and end cloaked in
darkness. The desert creatures paid
little attention to it, even when the occasional vehicle sped along it. To them, it was just another fixture of the
landscape, much like a rock or a cactus.
bedlam that the motorcycles made caused some of the smaller animals to scurry
away and seek cover, but larger, more knowing creatures simply hunkered down
and waited for the invasion to pass.
lead motorcyclist screeched to a halt and brought his kickstand down. He looked around as if to verify his bearings
and brought up a hand. Behind him the
other bikers held up, pausing in the cool night to await orders.
a distant butte, lights flashed in a seemingly random pattern, as if a driver
had hit a patch of rough road and was bouncing along.
lead biker gestured and immediately the others began to coast along the road,
spraying the blacktop with a clear liquid.
When the road was bathed in a shimmering coat, they rode off, preceding
their self-appointed leader.
he was certain that everyone was clear, the man started up his motorcycle and
roared away into the dark. He sped past
his troop and took his spot at the front.
behind them, the road erupted into flames and all life around the narrow strip
of asphalt ceased to be.
Solo flailed in the water, vainly trying to keep his head above water, while
avoiding the oar that was aimed at the same aforementioned head. The man in the boat was quite intent upon
relieving the world of one more UNCLE agent, just as Napoleon was intent upon
just the opposite. He was especially
keen to get out before the blood from his multiple cuts and scrapes attracted
the sharks known to infest these waters.
all the time, he couldn't help but wonder what had happened to his partner. Napoleon had heard the rifle crack and seen
Kuryakin stiffen and then pitch headfirst over the side of the boat, but hadn't
been able to locate him in their murky depths.
the boat began to rock and the THRUSH agent started to yell, his limbs wind
milling frantically in an effort to maintain his balance. Then abruptly he was also in the water and
paddling anxiously, close to Solo's fist.
Napoleon couldn't see how anyone could blame him for striking out,
catching the THRUSH agent with a serious left hook.
enemy agent gurgled and started to lose his battle with buoyancy, just as a
hand was extended down to Solo.
"Napoleon!" He heard the distinct accent of his partner
and reached for the hand. A sharp pull
and Napoleon was grappling up the side of the boat in a frantic attempt to
crawl inside it.
him, he could hear cries and thrashing; apparently the sharks had arrived, too
late to dine upon him, but just in time for dinner with his foe.
fell onto the bottom of the boat and gasped for breath. Illya Kuryakin collapsed beside him.
your arrival was timely as always."
try to be punctual." Illya studied the
night. "Too late for him though."
okay. I guess the sharks were more in
the mood for fowl tonight as opposed to red meat." He wiped his face free from water and blew
out a deep breath.
what happened to you?" Napoleon gave his
partner a once over, but the man seemed in good shape, albeit wet through and
finger-combed his hair off his forehead and shrugged noncommittally. "THRUSH are notoriously bad shots. They just nicked me, but I saw an
opportunity. Did they happen to leave
you with your communicator? Mine went to
sleep with the fishes and who knows what else down there."
"Sorry." Napoleon reached for the oars. The wind was starting to come up and he
wanted to get ashore as quickly as possible.
"Mr. Waverly is going to love this report."
your fingers, Mr. Solo?" There were many
words to describe Alexander Waverly - benevolent leader of UNCLE - North
America, wise and worldly old work horse, even former rogue and master spy, but
Napoleon felt only an unsettling sense of fear of his boss at the moment. "How is that possible? I was led to believe you were a competent
agent. Apparently, I was misinformed."
Kuryakin kept a low profile, focusing his attention upon a file folder and
trying to keep under Waverly's radar.
They'd been patched up, cleaned up, and allowed a few minutes to change
before being ushered directly to their superior's office.
you, Mr. Kuryakin. I can understand Mr.
Solo being led astray by a pretty face, but I'd thought you made of sterner
sir." Illya took the tongue lashing with
just enough humility to make Waverly think his words were having an effect. Both agents had seriously underestimated the
depth to which THRUSH had recently sunk in an attempt to undermine them. It was as if THRUSH could read their thoughts
and tailored the movement of their operatives just so.
once again THRUSH has managed to outwit us.
This is unthinkable gentlemen. In
the last three months, we have had four operations fall to them. How they are transmitting their information
is beyond us. We have been monitoring
all the usual forms of communications and have even entertained a few not so
usual." Waverly packed the bowl of his
favorite pipe with tobacco and set a match to it. He huffed and puffed away while both of his
top agents sat quietly contemplating his words.
we considered a leak from within the organization?"
we have, Mr. Solo, and have spent a good deal of time and effort pursuing that
course. None of our misdirection has come
to anything but wasted man hours." He
sat and redirected his attention to his pipe.
"This is something new, gentlemen, very new and very threatening. Somehow, THRUSH is managing to pass along
information, directions and counter intelligence right under our noses. I don't have to remind you that unless we get
a handle upon this and soon, this organization will soon be a useless weapon
was something that had never occurred to either agent. Napoleon could see his anxiety reflected in
his partner's blue eyes. "I...uh... think you
might be over reacting, sir," Napoleon said after a long moment.
have seen many things, Mr. Solo, and done even more. Never have I been accused of
over-reacting. Unless either of you has
something pertinent to add, you're both dismissed."
sat at his desk, pushing a paperclip around with a forefinger. The report sat, ignored, on the corner of the
desk and his cup of coffee had grown tepid.
There was something in Waverly's reaction that spoke badly about all of
this. It did seem like THRUSH was
gaining the upper hand more often than not these days. It was common knowledge that they bugged
THRUSH and the other organization did likewise.
Codes were changed, frequencies modulated, but always there was a sense
of connectivity between them...until now.
THRUSH, not surprisingly, had changed the rules and that change
frightened his superior.
came around the corner and sank down into the hardwood chair beside his
too." Illya began to straighten the
paperclip. "Worse than that, I don't
even know where to begin. I've reviewed
all the case files for the last four months so often I can recite them in my
dates must be thrilled. Is there something
in common with all of them that you've overlooked?"
Napoleon, or we would not be having this conversation." Illya ran a hand through his hair, brushing
it back off his forehead. With the
exception of a few pieces, it immediately slid back in place.
we're looking too hard. Maybe we need to
take a step back. Do you have
declassified copies of the files?"
course, but I don't understand. ..."
place, two hours," Napoleon said, smiling.
"Sometimes you are oblivious to the clearest things in the world and all
you need is a change of scenery to see it.
Bring the files and something to drink."
And Napoleon was gone.
sighed and returned his attention to the mauled paperclip. Once you twisted them out of shape, no amount
of care or manipulation could restore them to their former shape. He hoped UNCLE wasn't about to suffer the
town was small, nearly abandoned after the loss of the mine. The few residents kept indoors during the
blistering heat of the day. Here the
temperature could easily melt asphalt.
That was why it suddenly drew the attention of the locals when a road
crew appeared and began the painstaking job of patching the road. A grand total of five cars rumbled down it
during the course of an average day and none of them were usually inclined to
stop and pass the time here.
would the State suddenly decide that the road was worth saving? Dan Nicks was the unofficial head of the
town, such as it was. Shell shocked and
battle worn, he'd purposefully gone looking for some place away from the mass
of humanity. While life here wasn't
ideal, it was quiet; the days bled into one another and his routines went
blissfully uninterrupted...until now.
watched the men sweat as they applied the liquid asphalt to the road, the
newest of the material standing out against the older gray surface of the
road. The newer tar decorated the
surface, looking a bit like fancy icing on a wedding cake.
dogs and English men," he grumbled, turning to back his own task. A dog, so old his nuzzle had turned white
with age, lifted his head and then dropped it back down. No matter what was going on, there was no way
you'd convince him to go out in the mid-day sun.
the knock on his door, Napoleon turned off his oven and tossed the dishtowel
he'd been using as a pot holder on the drain board of his sink.
took a moment to manipulate all the locks, but it was routine and a cautious
agent was a live agent. Eventually, the
door opened to reveal his partner leaning against the door frame.
didn't know what you would be in the mood for," Illya said by way of an
explanation for the bag he carried in one arm.
The other hand clutched the briefcase carrying all the reports.
easy," Napoleon said, with a smile.
the bathroom walls would lead us to believe." Illya waited for his partner to
reset the extensive lock system and then followed him into the kitchen,
dropping the briefcase onto the sofa as he passed it. Immediately at home, he took two bottles of white
wine out and put them into the refrigerator.
The reds he left on the counter top.
"I figured you'd probably do Italian, but wanted to cover all bases,
just in case." He shut the refrigerator
door and opened the freezer, pulling out a bottle of vodka, and retrieving a
water glass from the cupboard next to the refrigerator.
fancy, just sausage and peppers over pasta." Napoleon turned the heat back up
on the pot of water, letting it come back to a rolling boil before adding the
had already carried the bottle to the sofa and had collapsed onto it, spreading
out the files on the coffee table. He
poured a generous amount of vodka into the glass and picked up the closest
is truly maddening," he admitted hours later.
The vodka was long gone as were two of the bottles of wine. He dropped the sheaf of paper he was holding
and tipped his head back with a groan.
heard Waverly, the very world, hell, our retirement hangs in the balance."
capitalistic of you, Napoleon." Illya
stretched his arms over his head and winced at the pull in his shoulder, a
legacy of their last encounter with THRUSH.
"I just can't connect the dots.
The only thing these files have in common is nothing in common. Oh, and the language. They're all in English."
because it's what we speak," Napoleon said.
it's what you speak. What I'm saying is
that all these reports came in English.
Usually they are all over the map, language wise, and Translations puts
them into English for those poor souls who are restricted by a single tongue."
head jerked up at a thought. "Say that
"What? That some people are hampered by a lack of
linguistic skills?" Illya had had just
enough alcohol to start to feel sleepy.
these reports came from America?"
I say that all ready?" He stood and
stretched again. "I think it's time to
put a lid on this and go to bed."
really shouldn't be driving, partner."
not drunk, Napoleon, just tired. I'm
running on fumes."
the more reason you should stay here tonight."
looked like he was going to protest for a moment, but then started a none too
steady path towards the guest room.
Napoleon watched him go and then glanced back down at the files. "All in English...hmm." He thought for a moment and then pulled out
his communicator. "Open Channel D
please, Solo here."
D is open." Napoleon was startled by a
male voice. Usually communications was
handled by women. "Go ahead, Mr. Solo."
Harkney." The name wasn't familiar and
Napoleon thought for a moment. Perhaps
he was just being paranoid, but this was an odd situation.
Napoleon, what's going on?" asked the familiar voice of a woman he'd recently
dated. Relief flooded back to him.
I was worried."
just had to step out of the room for a moment and Denny was filling in for
me. Is there a problem?"
was wondering if you could connect me with files and records."
one o'clock in the morning, Napoleon, there's no one down there now."
glanced at his watch and over at Illya, stripped down to his underwear, as he moved
from the guest room to the bathroom. "I
guess I lost track of time. Sorry, I'll
try when I get in."
what are you doing, tiger?" The woman's voice had dropped to a purr as Napoleon
continued to watch Illya struggle with the bathroom door. Eventually the Russian would remember you
pushed, not pulled, but it was an amusing sight, none the less.
just waiting for Illya to get ready for bed."
see." The woman's voice had dropped
several degrees. "And do you frequently
watch him get ready for bed?"
he thought about the possible misconstruing of his answer, he would have
phrased it differently, but he'd had just enough alcohol to slow that part of
his brain. "Oh yes." Then he realized the channel had gone
dead. He shook the instrument and set it
down on the table.
air was so hot, so still, it was as if all time was stopped in place. Dan Nicks drained the last drop of beer from
the bottle and tossed it onto a growing pile.
For three hours, he'd watched the road crew work, patching the road with
their new fangled bits of equipment.
They were suffering in the heat; there was no doubt of that. One had already collapsed and he was
unceremoniously dragged back to the shade cast by one of the trucks. Even the smallest child here knew that you
didn't venture out during the day. Too
bad these idiots didn't have enough common sense to fill a thimble.
they doing out there, Dan?" Old Man
Whelan was a man of few words.
heat stroke, I would guess. They can't
be from around here - too stupid to be local."
would the State be fixing our road?"
I asked, I was to shut up." Dan opened a
bottle and handed it to the older man.
attitude for a public servant," Whelan said, then took a long drag on the beer.
think they're leaving messages for aliens."
didn't answer, trying not to roll his eyes.
This was a common theme with Whelan's conversations. Always on the lookout for space aliens,
always worried about being abducted, like aliens would, first, be looking at
the population of No Luck as fodder for the human race, and second, that they'd
take Whelan over someone else.
he had to give the old man credit, the squiggles and swirls did sort of look
like some crazy writing.
I'll tell you something else, Mr. Mayor," Whelan continued. "You'd be a mighty poor official to not put
an end to it."
glanced up as Napoleon dropped a handful of reports onto the already towering
stack of paper in Kuryakin's incoming basket.
"It seemed like such a good thought last night," Illya muttered, pulling
off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Are these all of them?"
finally. All the reports made in English
with no prior translation."
need to thin the herd, I think." Illya
lifted up the closest one. "This one was
made from England." He set it
aside. "Canada..." Another pile.
"The U.S." - went in a third
pile. He flicked his eyes up at
Solo. "Do you want to play?"
I...ah...heard something that I thought...I mean..."
Napoleon." Illya gestured to the door as
he returned his attention to the files. To be honest, it would be faster
without his partner's help anyway.
was a hesitant knock on his door, just as the sun was starting to kiss the
horizon. Not that it made any
difference. Day or night, it was always either
blazing or freezing here, whether from the sun or night, extremes were what No
Luck did best.
looked up at the noise, shocked. So few
people bothered to knock anymore.
opened it to reveal a young woman, her hair escaping from the ponytail that had
previously held it in place, disheveled clothes. She was another citizen who spent her day in
this hell hole working hard for nothing, going nowhere but to bed so that she
could repeat the performance the next day and the next.
Whelan, granddaughter to the old man was an oxymoron. College educated, she'd had a free ride out
of this stinking hell hole, but had returned after graduation to take care of
her grandfather. Parents gone, she'd
reckoned he was all the family she had left and family always stuck together.
you seen Granddaddy? Sol said you were talking with him earlier."
around two. He's not home yet?"
and I'm starting to get worried. Those
construction workers have him all riled up."
That was Halle-speak for her grandfather's alien invasion conviction.
you what, honey, I'll get the dog and go have a look around. He couldn't have gone too far."
really appreciate it, Dan. Last time he
wandered off like that, I found him naked in the Hansen's grain storage bin. I don't have to remind you of how that all
chuckled, he remembered that. "You get
yourself home and let me see what I can find."
ducked out of his office door and mentally wiped his brow. It wasn't that he was lazy; he just really,
really hated paperwork. He started to
wander down the hall just as a group of new recruits passed by. Their tour guide, Chris Bangston, held up a
hand and they paused.
know some of you are assigned to Section 2.
This is your CEA, Napoleon Solo."
Bangston stopped as if expecting them to break into applause.
to UNCLE," Napoleon said, smiling and doing a mental survey of the group. They
were all so young and he wondered if that's how he'd looked to his CEA the day
they'd been introduced. "How goes the
bad...where's that partner of yours? He
wouldn't happen to be down in the gym today?"
in his office with mounds of paperwork, I'm afraid, Chris."
paperwork in Section 2?" One of the recruits blurted out and then covered his
mouth with his hand as if afraid of the outcome.
yes, a lot of it, but if you're lucky, you get a partner who's willing to
handle his or her share of the load."
yours as well," Bangston joked.
rank doth have its privilege. Do you
want me to talk to Illya, see if I could arrange something? I'm sure he'll be spoiling for a little
maybe around 4 if he could. It will give
me something to talk about at dinner tonight."
the end Illya ended up with five neat piles, the folders all sorted out by
country. He pushed all but the America
stack aside and picked those up. Granted
the stack was still impressive, it was finally at a manageable level.
got to the elevator without incident, only to realize he couldn't reach the
call button without losing control of the pile.
A sound drew his attention and one of the many hard working secretaries
was at his side.
please." He recognized her as Gwen Trisk, one of Napoleon's many admirers, and
knew that her attention was likely more due to an interest in getting the
inside track to his partner as opposed to actually helping him. The elevator door opened and Illya waited for
his co-workers to disembark before stepping on himself. After a heartbeat the secretary followed him.
are you headed, Mr. Kuryakin?" Finger
poised over the control panel, she smiled sweetly at him.
map room, please." Illya was always
careful to be very polite with the secretaries and the maintenance workers as
he relied heavily on their good graces.
He'd learned soon after arriving that a kind word and a smile went a
long way with his colleagues. They rode
the elevator in silence and she followed him to the map room.
like you've got a long night ahead of you.
You and your partner?"
he, like Elvis, has left the building."
He dropped the pile onto the nearest desk with a sigh of relief.
bad. So, could I get you anything from
the commissary? A sandwich, some coffee?"
please, that would be wonderful. I seem
to have forgotten to eat today." He absent mindedly loosened his tie and undid
the top two buttons of his shirt.
be why you're so skinny. Anything you
want me to avoid - the liverwurst, corned beef, tongue?"
is fine really. Thank you." She slid out the door and Illya immediately
began to re-sort through his stacks, separating each state into its own pile. That accomplished, he picked up the nearest
file folder. Flipping the cover open, he
glanced down at the originating point and then found the corresponding point on
the map. He set it aside and reached for
the next one.
wasn't like there were many places to hide in No Luck. The church with its steeple was the tallest
building in town and during the day, you could see the horizon stretching out
in seemingly endless quantities. At
night, it was too dark to see your hand in front of your face without a
Dan walked down these streets easily, knowing every bump and crack in the
pavement. The smell of fresh asphalt
hung heavy and thick in the air, burning the back of his throat. He stopped to study the sky. Nights like this were so clear it was as if
you could look straight up to heaven and see God looking back down at you. Dan figured if that ever happened, he'd ask
God why the hell he'd ever made a place like No Luck or if it was proof that
Hell was here on Earth.
in the distance, there was a sudden flare of light and Dan frowned. He'd never seen anything like that
before. Whistling for his old hunting
dog, Dan walked quickly back to the rundown cardboard shack he laughing called
his palatial estate and climbed into his old Ford.
took two attempts, but it resentfully rumbled to life and Dan drove out,
heading for the site of the distant glow.
burned faintly in the distance and Dan followed the road out and into the
badlands. He suddenly braked and stared
out at the road. It had melted, burned down
to the gravel bed and both sides of the road suffered a similar fate. Everything was blackened. He hit the high beams so that they cast an
eerie glow over the still smoldering ruins of the one end of their only escape
out of this Podunk crap town.
he saw something, a lump. Even the rocks
out here were only the size of your fist.
Something that big could only be...
his way quickly and carefully through the devastated landscape, he approached
the shape with caution. A flash of white
hair and he knelt by Old Man's Whelan's side.
His back was horrible burned, crisped, and the smell made Dan's stomach
you just sit tight. I'm going to bring
the truck over. We'll get you over to
the Doc's and he'll fix you up."
late." The voice was hoarse, Dan
realized from the flames and smoke. "It
was them, Dan, it was them."
than aliens, Dan, it was... birds." Whelan's voice faltered and Dan leaned closer
as the man whispered something. Something
Dan hoped he'd never have heard again, something he'd run to the ends of the
Earth to escape and like a bad check, it kept finding its way back to him.
held Whelan on his lap as the man breathed his last, held him until he was sure
that whatever makes up a man's soul had fled its flesh and blood
container. He stood, lifting Whelan's
body up and flung it over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.
took him a while to struggle back to the truck with is burden, but he wasn't
about to leave the man's body behind for the scavengers to find. Settling him almost reverently down in the
passenger's seat, Dan reached into the glove compartment. He pushed aside the usual assortment of crap
that gathered there until he found what he was looking for. It looked like a simple silver tire
gauge. Then he pulled out the tip of it,
uncapped the other end and spoke the words that had been a part of his former
life. "Open Channel D please, priority one."
Gwen Trisk returned carrying a well filled
tray and she stopped at the door, amazed at what she saw. Illya looked up over the top of his glasses
and smiled at her.
you. You can just put it over there." He waved towards one of the few spots not
covered with files.
amazing. How did you figure that out so
quickly?" she asked as she set the tray down.
what?" Illya looked from her to the wall
map he'd been working on. "I'm just registering all the points where
we've intercepted THRUSH messages in the last few months. Why?"
you see it?"
what?" Illya glanced at the map of the
United States and frowned. "Are you
detecting a pattern?"
too close." She gestured frantically. "Walk over to me and look again."
Illya set down the
file folder he was holding and joined her by the door and stared. "о мой
swore. "I can't believe I'm seeing that. I can't believe I didn't see that before." He reached for a nearby phone and dialed a number
quickly. "Mr. Waverly, could I see you
in the map room please? Yes sir, it's
very important." He cradled the
receiver, still transfixing by the map.
"Here." He handed Gwen a
folder. "Read off the originating point
of transmission." He pointed to a line
on the report.
"Um, Bismarck, North Dakota."
Illya slid a pin into the map and nodded. "The next one?"
"Lubbock, up towards the top of the state."
It took him a moment of squinting to locate it. "Got it - next?"
"Fort Smith, Arkansas."
The recruits were headed down the corridor, towards the
firing range when Napoleon's communicator went off. Most
had not yet experienced the joys of being tethered to the thing and watched
with great curiosity as he uncapped the pen and spoke into it.
"Solo here." He
grinned as Barbara's voice responded.
"Napoleon, we've got an incoming message. I think you're going to want to review it
personally. It's from a former Section 2
who went out on a Code Seven."
Napoleon frowned at that.
Code Seven, UNCLE speak for a nervous breakdown. Some men came back from it, others weren't as
lucky. "Okay, let me grab Illya and I'll
be right down. Sorry, Chris, looks like
the demo might be scuttled."
"Just give me a head's up, if you can reschedule."
Napoleon stuck his head into the cubicle that served as
Illya's office, but there was no sign of his partner, except for stacks of file
folders marking his wake.
"Huh." He couldn't
believe that Illya had finished, nor was it likely that he'd abandon this
project halfway through without a word to Solo.
Napoleon pulled his communicator out.
"Where might you be, partner of mine?"
"Map room, awaiting Mr. Waverly's arrival."
"I need you in communications. We have an incoming from a Code Seven."
"And I need you here."
"Is it important?"
"I'd say rather."
"Guessing I'm coming to you then."
Napoleon was nearly to the map room when he saw Waverly
getting off the elevator. The speed of
his steps indicated that he was less than pleased by the trip from his
"What is this all about, Mr. Solo?"
"I have no idea, sir.
Illya just contacted me."
"I see." Together
they stepped into the room and came to an abrupt halt.
"Off-hand, though, I'd say that," he gestured to the map, "is
what it's all about."
"My word, what are the two of you playing at?" Waverly
"You see it too then?
It's not just the imagination of someone laboring under an illusion?" Illya set down the pins and joined his
superiors at the door.
"I see it, but I do not understand it, Mr. Kuryakin. What exactly are we looking at?"
"All the recently intercepted THRUSH transmissions."
"Interesting. I'm not
exactly sure what to make of it however."
"It occurred to me that we were looking at all the
transmissions as one package as opposed to trying to pigeon hole, or perhaps
THRUSH hole, would be a more accurate term.
I still have no idea as to how this pertains to our communication
"And good job assisting Mr. Kuryakin, Miss...ah Trisk. That sort of initiative looks good on an
operative's record." The old man glared
at Napoleon for a moment and then walked out of the room. For the outline of the pins indicated the
definite outline of a bird. Illya was
willing to bet it was a THRUSH...
"You could have warned me," Napoleon complained, looking
down at the few bits of remaining food on the tray.
"Yes, I could have."
Now that Napoleon was in the room, Gwen had unconsciously moved closer
to him, as if trapped in his orbit. "But
I chose not to." He turned back to the
map, resigned to the fact that he'd be seeing the rest of the work through by himself. "What did you say about a Code Seven?"
Napoleon reluctantly pulled his attention away from the
secretary. "Oh, forgot about him." He leaned over the desk and hit a
toggle. "Go ahead, Communications."
"I thought you'd forgotten about me, cowboy," Barbara's
voice answered back. "Okay, let me patch
you through on the monitor." Almost
immediately her face came into view and she smiled warmly at the agent while
Gwen started a slow burn. Illya glanced
from one to the other and just smirked.
"All right, play back the message."
"This is Agent Nicks.
I have a situation to report and request authorization."
"Go ahead, Agent Nicks," Barbara's voice answered.
"I need to request help.
I'm looking at a possible infestation of the bird type. One man is dead, but before he died, he
verified THRUSH involvement."
"Where are you, Agent Nicks?"
"You don't know?"
"No, I'm in No Luck, Arizona." Illya followed the outline of the bird and
slipped a pin in the tip of its beak.
"It follows the pattern, Napoleon," he said over his
"I'll forward your report on, Agent Nicks. Are you in danger?"
"Not at the moment."
"What do you think, Napoleon?" Illya glanced over at his partner as he
tucked his glasses into the pocket of his shirt.
"I hear it's nice in Arizona this time of year."
pulled the sedan over at the fork in the road and stared out over the
shimmering blacktop. "And I thought I
knew hot. This is worse than the Sahara."
I don't know - there aren't any bullet holes in you yet and you're still fully
dressed. That has to count for
something." Napoleon dropped the map and stared up at the road sign. The huge billboard had long seen its prime
pass and now seemed to be barely clinging to life. "I think we're supposed to
hard to tell. I can't see anything in
the part that's scaring me," Illya admitted putting the car back into
gear. "Still, if you say right, then
right it is."
drove along in companionable silence for a few minutes, until Illya finally
what constitutes a Code Seven, exactly?
I've heard the phrase, but never actually come up against a working
case. No one around HQ wants to talk
mental collapse. Some folks just can't
handle the job. Usually there's
something big - a massive death scene, loss of an entire family, something
catastrophic - it completely unhinges the agent and he's pulled."
and just tossed back out into the mainstream?
That's hardly sporting of UNCLE."
are all sorts of programs in place to help them ease back into life, but some
don't need hand holding - they just need to get away. That was the case with Dan Nicks. He was Section 2 Number 2 when I came on
board back in '57. I'm not exactly sure
what happened. THRUSH went after his
family, I think - wife, kids, parents, siblings -- murdered them all right in
front of him, but he wouldn't betray UNCLE.
Right after that, Waverly put the no marriage rule into effect for
active Section 2 agents. Poor bastard
chose to lose his mind rather than betray UNCLE."
rubbed at his neck as the sun beat down on it.
Off in the distance, black shapes suddenly jutted up from the desert
floor, the sun making them dance and shimmer in the heat.
like you were correct, Napoleon. It was
closer they got, the more the town took shape.
Small buildings huddled together as protection from the harshness
very odd." Illya pushed his sunglasses
up onto his sweat dampened head and looked around. "Really, really odd."
road leading into the town showed signs of being recently patched. Why would someone pay to do that out here?"
the town has more money that it knows what to do with. It certainly doesn't spend it on
landscaping." The desert came right up
to the houses, sand dunes collecting around warped siding and stairs.
did this agent say he lived?"
straight through town and then take your first left. Down that road about two heart beats."
what he said." Napoleon checked his
notes again to verify. "Two heart
put the car back into gear and drove slowly through the town. Even though the streets were deserted, he
could see curtains moving as they drove by.
Obviously their presence was immediately registered. Some folks were even adventurous enough to
drift cautiously to their doors and watch as the sedan moved down the street. Illya was willing to bet that Nicks would
know they were there long before they arrived at his house.
like the tallest structure in town is that old church steeple." Napoleon pointed
as they drove past it.
something to be said for small towns."
Illya took the pre-described left turn, counted one, two and stopped the
building was like many in the small town, weather beaten and gray. Tumbleweeds had piled up against one side of
it and a dog lifted its head to stare at them.
stepped from the car and the dog let out a bark. Illya followed his partner,
but reluctantly. He didn't like dogs
form filled the door way, a rifle pointed in their direction. "What the hell do you want?"
looking for Dan Nicks."
you called us, Agent Nicks." Napoleon
studied the man, but the rifle didn't waiver.
Solo. You were Section Two, Number Two,
when I came on board." He gestured to
Illya. "This is my partner, Illya
exactly," Illya muttered. "We are here
because you called us, Mr. Nicks."
want to see ID." Both men reached slowly
into their jackets and withdrew matching cards, holding them up.
stared at them for a long moment and then shook his head. "I'll talk to you, Solo." He waved the rifle nuzzle into the
distance. "You, take a walk."
all right, Illya, I'll be fine." Napoleon
reached into his jacket and withdrew his communicator. "I'll be on Channel F."
'Understood. Be careful, my friend. I don't trust him."
makes two of us."
slipped back behind the wheel of the car and drove off, heading back into
town. Killing time would be problem
here. What few buildings there were
looked as if they were in imminent danger of collapse.
parked the car in front of what purported itself to be the general store and
climbed from the car. Two old men stared
at him from their seats upon upturned boxes, openly suspicious of the
stranger. Illya moved past them, sparing
just a brief nod in their direction.
inside of the store was no cooler than outside and he wished he could peel his
jacket off, but that would reveal his shoulder holster and weapon, not a wise
move. Instead, he pulled off his
sunglasses and stared around in the dark interior, allowing his eyes to
adjust. It looked like any one of a
dozen small stores he'd been in. He
walked to a case and studied the contents before selecting a bottle of
soda. He didn't usually drink soda, but
beer or juice were the only other choices and he felt like neither.
carried the bottle to the counter and smiled at the young woman there.
"Yes." Illya didn't make a face at the outrageous
price. Back in New York, he could have gotten a six pack for what they
were charging one bottle, but it wasn't like there was any choice. He handed over the bills and glanced around
for the bottle opener. She held out her
hand and he gave the bottle to her.
a stranger here - passing through?"
we're former co-workers of Dan Nicks and we thought we'd pay him a visit as we
were just... passing through."
me a break. We're a hundred miles from
passing through anywhere." She handed
the bottle back. "Try again."
truth, I have no idea why I'm here. Just
along for the ride, I suppose." He drank
deeply from the bottle, draining it and then placing it back on the counter.
you want your refund?"
it; a nickel isn't likely to break me."
He headed back out into the sun, wincing at the intensity of it. He put the sunglasses back into place on his
nose and started to walk.
learned earlier in his career that when in doubt, always head for the highest
point. That usually gave you a whole new
perspective of the problem. With that
thought in mind, he headed towards the church steeple.
followed Nicks into the small house and habitually glanced around, immediately
cataloging what he saw for future reference.
you want to tell me why I'm here, Agent Nicks?
You said there was THRUSH involvement here?"
old man, four nights ago. He was the
town kook, always worried about being abducted by aliens. He went missing. His granddaughter asked me to look for him."
the closest thing in the town to the law, being the mayor and all. While I was searching, I saw this fire. We worry about those things out here, us
being tinder dry. When I checked it out,
I found Old Man Whelan. It looked like
someone had taken a flamethrower to him and the only road out of town was
melted down to the bedrock."
road into town was fine."
now. When I asked him who had hurt him,
he said "THRUSH." There is no way he'd
know about them. I never talked about my
time with UNCLE, so it couldn't have been that.
That's when I called you."
call happened to coincide with another situation that my partner was
investigating." Napoleon handed him over
a snapshot of the map room.
studied it and shook his head. "What the
hell are they playing at?"
question exactly." Napoleon's
communicator chirped and he dipped into his pocket. "Yes, Illya?"
Russian's voice was tinny over the instrument.
"Napoleon, do you remember how I
was remarking that it seemed odd someone was patching the roads here?"
it also strike you as odd if I told you I am discerning a vaguely familiar
pattern in those repairs?"
do you mean, Illya?" Napoleon glanced
over at Nicks who hunched his shoulders.
he heard the scuffles, the sharp sound of fists hitting flesh, the grunts as
they impacted. Then the communicator
have the feeling our playmates just kicked the action up a notch."
was first aware of the metallic taste of blood and he lay quietly, listening,
waiting for his body to come slowly back to reality, as unpleasant as that
might prove to be. Not hearing any
whisper of movement, he risked opening an eye.
When it seemed he was alone, he struggled to sit up.
was a hand on his shoulder and he instinctively started to jerk free of its
grasp, gasping as pain lanced through his bruised stomach muscles. Whoever punched him had the strength of a
it easy, I'm a friend."
though Illya was disinclined to believe that, he relaxed. If the speaker had intended to harm him,
there would have been ample opportunity for him to do so while Illya was
sat back and examined the speaker - tall and lanky, wearing a brown suit and
almost as out of place in this spot as he was.
forgive me if I don't take you at your word," Illya said, starting to get to
his feet. The man leapt to his and
offered him a friendly hand up. After a
moment, Illya took it and managed to stand, swaying slightly as his body protested
the change in position.
you don't mind me saying, you look like you could use a doctor."
recognized the accent as British, which struck him as odd, but no more odd than
a dozen other things he'd seen in his lifetime.
man had pulled a pair of black-rimmed glasses from his coat pocket and Illya's
hand went reflexively to his own jacket. His were still there. Even more surprising, so was everything else
except his communicator.
be fine. Who are you?"
told you, I'm the Doctor." He stuck out
a long tapered hand and Illya reluctantly took it, not as much out of
hostility, but because he still wasn't sure of his standing with this man. He kept his grasp neutral. "Ah, naturally cautious, I like that in a
Kuryakin and if you don't mind, I think I'll get out of here."
I wouldn't try that if I were you."
you going to stop me?"
cautiously opened the door and a slender black leather-encased biker was
me, but he will and he's the one who hit you the first time. Slabs don't know their own strength"
another occasion, Illya would have launched himself at the biker, but a hitch
in his side and a throbbing in his stomach temperd his judgment. Hastily, he closed the door.
called them what?"
basic slave clones, do whatever their buyer tells them and I reckon this one's
told him to watch you." The Doctor
tucked his glasses back away. "You're
gonna know what it's like to have a shadow."
be the first time." Illya glanced about
the room. There was a small window. It would be tight, but he could slip
through. He wasn't so sure about the
other man though. "Think you can make it
would I want to do that?" The Doctor smiled warmly at him
need to find my partner. There's
something going on here and he needs to know.
We need to stop it."
know what? What have you seen?"
shook his head. "I would rather not share
that information with a stranger, if you don't mind."
I'm not a stranger." He pulled a sheet
of paper from his pocket and Illya started at the sight of a gold UNCLE ID
card. "London branch, John Smith, at your
service. So, what information?"
Solo ran up to their rental car, still parked in front of the store. Two men sitting there stared at him long and
hard. A moment later, Dan Nicks joined
him, panting slightly from the run.
I'm out of shape," he muttered.
Dan," one of the men said, raising a hand.
you see the man who was driving this car?" Napoleon asked, unwilling to lose
any time on small talk.
of the men ignored him and kept their attention on Nicks.
the man, Bernie. Did you see the guy
driving this car?"
nigh under an hour ago. He bought
himself a soda and then took off in that direction." The speaker pointed towards the church. "Scrawny little fella, then some other fella
showed up and went after him."
you describe him?"
told you, scrawny, blond, sort of looked in a hurry."
him, the other one," Napoleon snapped and the speaker and Nicks glared at
him. "Look, my partner might be dead for
all I know; I have neither the time nor the inclinations to play nice at this
point." The Walther was out of his holster. "Where is my partner?"
man on the porch didn't exactly cringe in fear from the sight of the pistol,
nor was he unimpressed. "I told you.
Your partner headed towards the church.
The biker fella followed him."
heard enough." Napoleon started towards
the church at a steady jog.
his shoulder, he heard, "Who was that fella, Dan?"
some crazy guy I used to work with.
arrived at the church and glanced around, trying to think like his partner.
Illya always tended to go up. He spotted
a set of stairs and headed for them.
wait! Those might not support you. This place has been abandoned for years."
why are there fresh tracks in here?" Sure enough the sand on the floor was
scuffed as if by feet. Still, he let
Nicks' warning caution his steps. He
tried one step; it creaked a protest, but held.
He moved as quietly up them as he could, coming to the top of the
belfry. There amid the scuffled sand and
debris was Illya's communicator. It had
been crushed completely. "At least we
know Illya was here. But what did he
see? He said it was patterns...something
to do with patterns."
Solo, check this out." Nicks pointed out
the open side of the belfry towards the road, the part that hadn't been
fried. "You two came in this way. Now, look at the way out of town."
whistled softly. "And I take it that's why
you called us in?" He'd had never seen a
road completely melted down to the gravel base before. It was as if the road had been made of
nothing more than candle wax.
"Incredible. What would it take
to do something like that?"
I was asking Illya, but he's not here, is he?"
He studied the part of the road that was still intact. "All those squiggles, they almost look like
almost, check this out." Nicks pointed
to the sand where Illya had apparently transcribed some of the shapes.
look vaguely familiar. Napoleon knelt
and studied them, then just as his partner had, he happened to look up and the
reflective surface of a bit of metal added a top image to the bottom. "That's it - they're half letters. It's Cyrillic. "
sorry; what are you babbling about?"
started to trace over Illya's letters.
"The squiggles down there are the bottom half of letters. You complete the top half and you have that."
a bunch of garbage to me."
imagining that's what they wanted people to think, however. However, for those of us who aren't American
born or those who happen to speak and read the language because we have a
Russian partner, we can recognize those for what they are, letters from the
Russian alphabet. No wonder Illya was so
Ruskies are doing this? Those red
bastards, I should have taken more of them down when I had the chance. And you can read it?"
was one of the reasons I was initially partnered with Illya. To be honest, however, my reading of Russian
isn't as good as my speaking is, no matter what my partner says." Napoleon studied the words, his mind
grappling with the half familiar alphabet.
"Open Channel D please."
D is open. Is that you Mr. Solo?"
are you and Mr. Kuryakin progressing?"
seem to have lost Mr. Kuryakin, sir."
Mr. Solo? You are getting inanely lax
when it comes to your partner's whereabouts, Mr. Solo."
sir, but he did manage to stumble onto something. I was wondering if you could patch me through
course, keep me apprised." There was a
momentary pause and then a different voice came on.
"Dona, my delight, I have a problem for you
that's right up your alley."
Mr. Solo, unraveling problems is my specialty."
need a quick translation."
sure, but why don't you just ask Illya?
I'm sure he'd be able to translate it faster and quicker for you."
my treasure, you don't know how much I wish I could ask him."
reached down a hand and pulled. For his
thin frame, the man was astonishingly heavy.
The climb through the window hadn't been particularly hard, but Illya
was breathing heavily. His stomach was
just a dull ache now, nothing he'd not suffered with before. He glanced to his left and his right. The window had dumped them into a corridor of
oh, your absence has been noticed."
Smith grabbed his arm and pointed.
Two black figures were approaching.
don't run," Illya muttered, pulling out his Walther. He aimed and shot. He saw the bullet hit his target, the figure
hesitated a moment and then continued forward.
Another bullet, the same response.
you're fulfilled your need for senseless violence now, listen to me. These guys, they aren't human, they never
ever stop, they never ever sleep, and they have but one purpose in life and
that's you, my friend."
stared down at the lengthy translation before him. "Soon all dead. We want you come us. Be us now."
whoever wrote this is still struggling with sentence structure." Nicks
grumbled, fanning himself with his hat.
more concerned with the overall message."
Napoleon stood and brushed off his hands. "Soon all dead is pretty straight forward,
but we aren't sure who the victim will be- the people of this town? And why? We want you to come. Again who wants whom?"
you think your partner knew?"
"Knows. He's not dead."
me, he's harder to kill than you think."
would have to agree with you on that."
The third voice sent Napoleon for his weapon and both men spun, and then
Halle, you shouldn't sneak up on a man like that..." he trailed off at the
slender bit of metal she held in her hand.
It was pointed directly at them and Napoleon instinctively took a step
in front of Parks. "What do you have
like to call it a subcutanial disruptor.
One blast and a person's cells explode."
She pointed it at him and smiled.
"Would you like a demonstration, Dan?"
don't we just take your word for it?" Nicks said, looking uneasily from the
instrument to her face and back.
seen Illya?" Napoleon pulled the woman
attention from Nicks.
blond? Yes, he and the Doctor are
currently leading the slabs on a merry chase.
The only problem is that humans wear out, so do Time Lords, if you chase
them long enough so it's only a matter of time before they are caught and
then..." She aimed the instrument at a
pigeon and fired. It exploded in a ball
of feathers and blood. Napoleon
instinctively shielded his face.
stared open mouth. "What the hell did
you do that for?"
had the feeling that you weren't going to take me seriously and you should."
Halle.. the real one?"
was of use in controlling her grandfather, but once we extracted all the
information from him that we needed, her usefulness ceased to be. I assumed her shape so that we might walk
freely among you."
Man Whelan was right. He was being
we found him of limited help, but that information was enough for us to
continue undetected while we awaited the word of the Bird."
she means THRUSH. Is that what this was
all about? You've been crisscrossing the
country destroying towns to attract their attention?"
but they refuse us. They ignore us."
are probably as clueless about to your presence as we were."
no longer," Halle said, smiling, and tilted her head to the side. "Soon the picture will be complete and they
will know us and feel us and be one with us and we shall be complete."
obvious to me - they have power, they have money and more than that they have a
burning desire to control the planet.
Control them, control the world."
then we will control them and the Earth will be ours. Then the Doctor will be no more."
is the second time you mentioned a Doctor... Doctor who?" Napoleon asked and the girl merely shook her
more, with this town, we are through, we are complete. The Bird will come to us
soon and we will be one."
necessarily." All three turned at the
voice. The speaker was tall and
exceedingly thin. Close on his heels was
Illya, but Napoleon kept his jubilation to himself, especially at the sight of
two leather-clad bikers behind them.
brought them, excellent." Halle walked
to the slab and pointed. "You will
maintain contact with him." She pointed
me?" Illya wanted to know.
woman shrugged her shoulders. "With you,
we control your friend and through him, Nicks.
And eventually The Doctor, I think."
She moved to him. "You are an
added pleasure Doctor."
you never learn, do you?" The man's tone
was plaintive. "I kicked you off Taraka
Five and Albeca Three; you will not have this planet."
didn't ask you, Doctor. The Bird drew us
here and with the Bird, we will fly."
you get this through your thick skulls?"
He turned to Illya and tapped his own forehead. "Literally they're thick, almost two inches
in some spots." He returned to Halle.
"This planet is defended, by me, by Torchwood; you will not be allowed to
succeed. Leave this planet; I will not
give you a second chance."
laughed. "Oh, Doctor, issuing ultimatums
at your age? Hasn't nine hundred years
taught you anything?"
yeah, I make a great banana daiquiri, I know how to play a bagpipe and I once
taught an entire legion of Attila the Hun's boys how to play chess. They are killer players, really understand
strategy." He ran a finger around the
collar of his shirt. "And no mercy; I
will stop you."
he talking about, Illya?" Napoleon asked his partner quietly.
have no idea, I woke up and he was in the cell with me. Said he's a John Smith out of London, but not
likely," Illya murmured back. "Those
guys, I don't know what they really are; he calls them slabs, but stay out of
arm's reach. They pack an incredibly
read their little message?"
and our dear hostess was explaining that they are trying to get hold of THRUSH,
some sort of bargaining is in session."
Napoleon trailed off as he realized the others were staring at them.
we finished?" The Doctor's words were
politely sarcastic. He turned back to
Halle and pulled a slender tube from his pocket.
sonic screwdriver?" The girl
laughed. "You're threatening me with a
sonic screwdriver? You Time Lords, you
don't even have proper weapons." She
pointed hers at the Doctor.
do." Illya slipped his Walther out and
fired. The bullet clipped the weapon she
held and Halle dropped it to the ground with a gasp. One of the slabs took a step forward, but by
then Napoleon had scooped it up and was aiming it in its direction. It took an involuntary step back.
love humans!" The Doctor exclaimed, grabbing Illya's head and kissing his
temple. "You're so impulsive."
show you impulsive. Do that again and I'll
put a bullet in your foot." Illya pulled
free from his grasp and wiped at the spot, frowning.
sorry, I just..." He made an expansive
gesture with his arms. "You're always so
Napoleon had drawn his weapon and now aimed it at the woman. "And if you have indeed assumed this woman's
form, then I wonder how you'll hold up to a 9 mm. bullet. They can do an awful lot of damage. As he said, this planet is defended, from
you, from THRUSH, from whoever threatens her."
took a step back, her gaze going from the man to the P-38 and back. She touched her wrist and both she and the
slabs disappeared into a shower of sparks.
volunteer you to write up this report," Illya muttered, holstering his weapon.
you keep pointing out, senior agent by two years."
technically your boss."
your dreams, Solo."
me." The sarcastic tone was back in The
Doctor's voice. "Could we focus on the
problem here? She's taken your friend."
looked around. Sure enough, Nicks had
vanished as well.
Nicks looked around at very different surroundings. It looked as if he was standing in the middle
of a large high-tech cockpit of some sort.
Lights were flashing and a console was beeping. It was straight out of a science fiction
movie. Then he turned around and caught
two men from the store porch were looking back at him. "Hey, Dan, not as hot up here, is it?"
the hell?" He spun around and saw
Halle. "What are you doing? Where am I?"
questions that are destined to never be answered, I'm afraid." She snapped a finger. "Take him to interrogation and let's find out
the history of the men he was with."
will she have taken him?"
back to her ship. If I know Resillians,
and I do, nasty little grabby things, they are going to give your friend a
massive headache and suck all the knowledge right out of his head." The Doctor glanced over at them. "I do mean that quite literally."
with his programming," Napoleon said confidently. "He's an UNCLE agent; he'd rather die than
won't be given the option. They will
wipe his brain clean and then use his body for whatever purpose they need it
for. Then they'll probably come back for
doesn't sound good. Why not you?" Illya
asked. "You obviously know more about
true, but they know all about me; it's you and your planet they are interested
in." The Doctor took a step
forward. "Listen we aren't going to have
much time. I need some answers and I
need them very quickly." He raised his
hands towards Illya's face and the Russian took a step back. "This won't hurt."
thank you." Illya voice was firm.
Kuryakin, I beg of you. If you want this
stopped and to have any hope of saving your friend, I need to get this
information and this is the fastest way."
hurt him and I will put a bullet through your head where you stand, do you
understand me?" Solo replied.
do and I won't. Please, we are wasting
"Illya..." Napoleon gave him a smile and Illya sighed.
take a look, shall we?" The Doctor
touched his fingers to Illya's face and began to concentrate. "My word, you really did that? You need to change the fifth variable to x
over pi to make that equation work, by the way. I need information on this bird
thing they are going on about." He grew
very quiet and then suddenly dropped his hands, his eyes glistening. "I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry. How do you stand it?"
what...?" Napoleon asked and his partner
shook his head.
idea what he's talking about." But Illya
kept his eyes downcast, not meeting his partner's.
this THRUSH organization is constantly trying to take control of the world and
now the Resillians want to join forces with it, THRUSH controls the world, they
would never agree to it."
won't have much choice. The Resillians
will make nice, pretend to worship and glorify them, give them superior weapons
and then slowly, and without THRUSH Command knowing it, key members will be removed
and replaced by Resillian look-alikes, just like they did with that woman."
do they do with the person?" Napoleon
them dry and then use their skin, like a human bodysuit."
why Earth?" Illya had rejoined the
party, still looking a bit subdued.
you have something they crave - salt.
They love the stuff! They'd bathe
in it if given the chance. Can't get
enough of it. Once they are in control,
they will amp up your sun, dry the planet out and scrape the salt from its
surface. You are one big salt cellar to
suck it out of you lot as well. You're
like Hershey's Kisses to them."
we need to stop them and I am of the opinion, Mr. Smith or Doctor, whichever
you prefer, that you are the man to do it," Napoleon said, pulling out his
communicator. "What do we need to do?"
reckon that you are correct, Mr. Solo.
Call New York and let me talk to your boss."
Channel D, top priority."
Mr. Solo." Waverly's voice sounded weary
tonight. "Do you have any news?"
I found Mr. Kuryakin and he had a very interesting gentleman with him, a Mr. John
THE John Smith?" There was a long pause
and Napoleon glanced down at the instrument, concerned that he'd broken the
connection somehow. "Doctor?"
Alexander! How's the wife and kids?"
don't believe this," Illya muttered, lowering himself to the floor and propping
his back up against the wall. "This is
just getting more and more strange."
excellent, thank you, what can we do for you?"
I'm afraid you've got a bad case of Resillians.
This is what I need for you to do.
You need to get your people together and contact THRUSH."
be done, for the sake of the world. You
see, while THRUSH may be keen on taking over, they wouldn't be as keen to be
played for fools."
have your military stand by. If the Resillian's
ship gets close enough, you might stand a chance of bringing it down. There's a man who has been collecting all
sorts of alien technology. He might have
something that would work for you." The
Doctor lifted his screwdriver to the communicator and it trilled for a
moment. "Contact information is being transmitted
directly to your data files. Contact him
and make him help you, Alexander."
understand. We will and, Doctor, thank
pleasure, Alexander, it's what I'm here for.
And I'll take care of your two agents as well, shall I?" He winked in their direction. "But be fast.
I'm not sure how much time we have." He handed the communicator back to
Napoleon and grinned. "And now I think
it's time we called in the Big Dogs." He
gestured. "If you'll follow me?"
Nicks felt as if every cell in his body was exploding at the same time. He thought he'd been tortured before, but
these jokers had it all over THRUSH.
He'd given up screaming and now sprawled helpless in his manacles, all
but a small bit of his brain numb.
captors didn't seem to care whether he heard or not, so confident were they of
are many gaps in his memory. The
knowledge of the Bird is not as it should be.
It is... dated."
need one of the others then. "
others are with the Doctor and he has hidden them from our view."
there has been no communication from The Bird?"
call our scouts back and we will burn the town.
Then our message will be complete and our voice mighty."
of this one?"
might be of further use to us. He knows
of this enemy organization and with him, we may be able to infiltrate
further. Transport him to a holding
felt himself hauled up off the table, but he didn't offer any help to his
captors. Playing dead was something he
knew how to do very well and he wasn't ready to go down without a fight yet.
and Illya trailed after the tall lanky stranger.
still not convinced of his intentions."
the best option we have right now, Illya."
right you know, unless you've had nine hundred or so years of dealing with this
sort of thing, I really am your best choice right now." The Doctor tossed the comment over his
shoulder as he stopped in front of a structure akin to a blue phone booth. He opened the door and disappeared inside. Both UNCLE agents stood quietly just outside
until the Doctor reappeared. "Well, come
on, don't be shy."
don't think there would be quite enough room in there for all three of us,
Doctor," Napoleon said politely, as if he were addressing an idiot.
plenty of room. Come on!" The Doctor ordered and Napoleon exchanged a
doubtful look with his partner, who hunched his shoulders, but followed the
on... God's green earth?" Napoleon started
as he stared about. The inside of the
box was huge. "Illya?"
this throws everything I learned in Quantum Mechanics out the window." The Russian was wandering, hesitantly
touching the walls. "What is this?"
is a TARDIS and it's not a what; it a who, just as alive and breathing as both
of you. As long as you stay in here, the
Resillians won't be able to detect you.
I'll wager that they won't be finding out what they want from your
friend and will come looking for you next.
But that leads us to another problem.
You see, for me to deal with our bird worshipping friends, it would
really be better to do it on their level."
on their ship, not to put too fine a point on it. But with you two on board, I can't take the
leave us here. We're expendable."
you do have a problem." Illya sank down
into one of the chairs around the console and reached out.
touch anything. Just... don't," the Doctor
ordered and slipped into one of the seats opposite him. He threw a switch and there was a hum, a kind
of half throb, half whine. The ground
began to shake and Napoleon grabbed onto the nearest thing he could find, a
sort of tree trunk arrangement. "Next
stop, the Resillian ship."
Doctor cracked the door of the TARDIS open and cautiously stuck his head
out. When no one pointed a weapon at it
or threatened him in any language, the rest of his body followed. He held up a restraining hand to the UNCLE
let me have a bit of a look around first, shall I? Be back in a jiff. Just sit tight until then. The TARDIS can withstand anything, so just
stay here, okay?"
keep expecting to wake up any minute now," Illya confessed. "Just when I think this affair can't get any
stranger, it does."
right there with you, partner." Napoleon
walked to his side. "And yet Mr. Waverly
obviously believes this crackpot and trusts him. That has to count for something..."
retirement." Illya stood and adjusted
his jacket. "I don't care what he says,
Napoleon, to sit here is just asking for trouble. If the planet is indeed threatened by these
leather-wearing maniacs, I'm not going to sit by and let them take it. I fought too many wars to end up hiding my
eyes in fear. I don't mind facing death
as long as I can look it square in the eyes."
put, Mr. K. and I agree." Napoleon
walked to the door and eased it open.
"No one in sight, let's go."
Nicks studied the ceiling of his cell, trying to formulate a plan. He had no weapons, he had very little
strength and more pain than he knew what to do with. He also had his resolve. If an opportunity presented itself, he would
do whatever he could to bring this to an end.
Until then, he rested and tried to regroup.
Nicks, how are you feeling?"
Nicks head came up and he looked directly at the Doctor. He was standing in front of the door, waving
about something that looked like a communicator, but bulkier. "You?"
the rather stupendous flesh. Let's get
you out of there and back to the TARDIS, shall we?" The metal rod made a buzzing sound and the
force barrier at the door stopped humming.
"No time like the present. Can
"Barely." Nicks got to his feet swaying. They'd taken just a few steps out of the cell
when there was a shout of "Stop!"
Doctor grabbed his arm and started to drag him, stumbling over his feet as he
tried to make them work, along. Just
when Nicks was ready to collapse, they stopped and he was roughly shoved into
something that looked like a phone booth.
He was about to point out that it was an inadequate hiding place when he
saw the interior for the first time.
my God, it's..."
know, bigger on the inside," The Doctor snapped as he looked around. "Why don't they ever listen to me? What is it about humans? 'Stay put' you tell them and they hear 'go
bugger off and get into trouble.' I
don't know why I bother, I really don't."
He led Nicks to a chair and punched a screen into life.
where I came in." Nicks pointed to a
spot. "Right there in fact with Halle...
but it's not Halle any more, is it?"
I'm afraid all that was your friend is gone."
the same thing is happening to me, isn't it?"
what sort of talk is that?"
can feel it. Everything is different
now, I feel distant from my body."
let them use me. Please, I lived my
whole life protecting my people and keeping the world safe; don't let me be
used against them now.
won't let them have you." The Doctor
settled a hand on his shoulder. "You're
in the TARDIS now and safe. I'll cure
you. I don't know how yet, but I'm the
Doctor. It's what I do."
stared at him for a long moment and then back at the screen. "What are you looking for?"
big red button which must never ever, under any circumstance, be pushed."
I intend to push it." He grinned at the
former UNCLE agent. "I never could
resist a big red button." He
lever, button, who's to say?"
will it do?"
a destruction sequence. If there's one
thing that Resillians hate more than me, it's being captured, and they will do
everything they can to avoid it. Death
is far more preferable to them than being caught." He ran a hand through his dark hair and
sighed. "Now all I have to do is find
your two friends before they get into... oh dear..."
and Illya stared uneasily at the people surrounding them. All of them were holding those pen-like
weapons that the woman had been waving about earlier.
am thinking that we have perhaps met your Waterloo together, Napoleon. These people do not look like the bargaining
but that's where you are wrong, Mr. Kuryakin."
Halle stepped from behind a slab and smiled happily at him. "We are very much the bargaining type, so
much so that we will strike a deal with you.
One of you can go, the other, we will need to extract information
from. Mr. Nick's data was sadly dated
and I suspect that either of you would be able to provide us with what we
stay," both men said in unison.
I'm CEA and I'm ordering you."
you know how well I respond to direct orders. "
To Halle. "My mind is much more
analytical and ordered than his. I have what you want."
"What? A backdated sense of capitalism, a cock-eyed
sense of world order, and a stubborn streak?
Who needs that? I won't let you." Softer.
"Get back to the TARDIS and wait for the Doctor. I'll stall them."
can't stop me, Napoleon."
hell I can't. Watch me."
clapped her hands and pointed. "Enough
of this male posturing. Take them
both." She smiled again. "I was lying anyway. If one of you had left, he would have been
hear it for loyalty then."
were dragged into the interrogation room and both strapped to tables.
want to know about the Bird."
mean THRUSH; what do you want to know?" Napoleon wiggled the fingers of one
hand, testing the strength of the manacles that held him.
smiled at him and nodded just once.
Napoleon was bathed in light, suddenly stiffened and started to scream
as Illya struggled in his bonds.
"Everything," she said.
Doctor watched the last slab walk from the room and stepped in just as Napoleon
cried out. All attention was on him and
he slipped over to a console and took out his screwdriver. Making an adjustment to it, he pointed it and
it whirred quietly. The light bathing
Napoleon ceased and the UNCLE agent sagged in his restraints. At the same moment, the whole ship shuddered
like a dog shaking off water.
didn't keep Illya from continuing his attempts to break free from the manacles
walked to a table beside Napoleon and pressed a small switch. "What has happened?"
been an unaccounted for power surge from the planet below."
Alexander," the Doctor murmured softly, carefully keeping from view.
would appear to be some sort of holding beam, but it is weak and we are
am coming. I am sure these two will be
more than happy for a reprieve, however brief it might be."
Doctor waited for her to exit the room and hurried up to Illya. He readjusted the screwdriver and pointed it
at Kuryakin's manacles.
part of 'stay put' don't you understand?"
The restraints sprang open and Illya rubbed his wrists, bright red from
his efforts. A moment more and the ones
holding his ankles opened and he sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the
did you do?"
fused the components for their little light show. Why no one thinks of using fuses any more is
beyond me. I like fuses, I helped
develop them, you know... well, did develop them, but I let Tom Edison get the
credit for it."
slid off the table and went to Napoleon.
The agent was starting to come around, moaning.
all right, Napoleon," Illya assured him quietly, rubbing a shoulder. To the Doctor, Illya continued. "No, I meant
the other. He said a holding beam?"
would be your Mr. Waverly's doing, not mine.
However, it is time for us to make our farewells. I have Agent Nicks waiting for you. He's been... compromised."
nodded and waited for Napoleon's bonds to release. "We have to go, Napoleon. Lean on me."
He helped the man to his feet and they headed for the door.
Doctor glanced around the immediate area when they arrived back at the TARDIS
and fumed. "When am I going to
learn? When am I just going to leave you
all to your own devices?"
wrong?" Napoleon's voice was husky, but
he was moving more easily now.
he is." Illya pointed to a monitor and
the Doctor began to slap himself.
no, no, no, no!" he screamed at the monitor.
here - I mean it! Do not move! I will be right back!"
watched him run from the TARDIS, coat flapping in the wind, before moving to
Napoleon's side and squatting before the seated agent. "How do you feel?"
I'm coming down with the flu or something." Napoleon was rubbing the back of his
neck. "Everything hurts. What happened?"
not sure, but the Doctor stopped it almost before it started."
small favors for that then." Napoleon
leaned back in the chair and groaned.
"You wouldn't happen to have any aspirin on you, would you?"
smiled. "Sorry." He squeezed Napoleon's shoulder. "Sit tight.
I'll be back."
heard what the Doctor said."
well, there's still one of our own out there, Napoleon, and despite the fact
that he hates commies, this commie isn't about to leave him behind."
kept in the shadows as much as possible. The slabs didn't seem to be paying any
attention to anything except the consoles to which they were assigned. The ship shuddered again and Nicks smiled. The Doctor was obviously up to no good. Well, so was he. That lever, the one that the Doctor said
should destroy the ship, was close now.
He just had to convince his body to move those last few feet. He'd be damned if he'd stand by and watch the
planet fall first to THRUSH and then to these yah-hoos. He still wasn't sure about the whole alien
bit, but it didn't matter. If he was
going to die, it would be in the line of duty.
door opened and the Doctor raced around the corner and slammed into a wall of
slabs. The two closest grabbed him and
held him firm as Halle approached.
Doctor." Halle grinned pleasantly at
him. "I rather expected to find you
behind all of this. "
"What? This? Me? Not
my style." He immediately relaxed. "But I did warn you. You will not have this planet."
will take what we want. It is our way."
doesn't need to be. Cooperate with
them. These humans, they're not bad
sorts." The Doctor kept his attention on
Halle even as he watched Nicks creep closer and closer to the self-destruction
lever. The ship shuddered again. "But they are unpredictable. Call off your invasion and I'll call off the
a matter of minutes, this planet will burn and we will take what we want. The Bird has ignored us; now it will feel our
might. Then their tractor beam will be of little consequence to us."
boosted himself up the last few inches, his hand now on the lever. "Yeah?
Well, how about this then, Halle?
Is this of consequence?" He pushed
it and claxons started going off. An
alien voice began to drone.
screamed aimed and fired. Nicks
evaporated into a brilliant explosion of lights and the Doctor spun on her.
was dying anyway, why did you do that?"
I could and if it is to be my last act, then so be it, but know that you will
die too, Doctor, along with us."
gun rang out, firing twice, and the slabs holding the Doctor both fell.
might have something to say about that."
Before Halle could react further, Illya aimed and fired. She collapsed into a heap. "Time's a-wasting, Doctor." The slabs started to advance and the Doctor
ran past Illya. He fired twice more and
like old times," Illya muttered, following.
did you say?"
Illya let off two more rounds, nearly losing his footing as the ship
started to cant dangerously to one side.
to go." The Doctor gave him and
encouraging push towards the door and they ran.
rushed into the TARDIS and the Doctor slammed and locked the door behind
him. Without wasting a word he moved to
the control console and began fiddling, slamming and kicking various levers,
switches and dials in an effort to do everything at once. Finally he pushed up a lever and the ship
started to hum.
about Dan?" Napoleon asked quietly.
in the line of duty," Illya said softly.
"He took down the principle target at great personal cost." Illya sank into a chair and shook his head
slowly. "I cannot wait to see Mr. Waverly's reaction to this report."
Solo moved slightly and groaned softly.
"What were you pouring last night, tovarish? My head feels like it's about to come
off," he whispered. He opened his eyes
to stare up at the ceiling of Illya Kuryakin's living room.
shouting," Illya crawled halfway up onto the sofa and flopped onto it. "The last time I felt like this... I have never
felt like this. I am Russian, it is
physically impossible for me to have a hangover."
"Really?" Napoleon managed to join him on the couch and
leaned against him.
but it's my story and I'm sticking to it."
man saw a third one standing on the fire escape watching them from behind the
glass. After a moment, he disappeared
from view and there was a strange humming wailing noise.
triggered some half forgotten memory and Illya looked in its direction. "Did you hear that?"
what? All I hear is my pounding head."
listened for a moment more and then shrugged.
"Nothing, I guess. I just..." he looked toward the window and shook his
head. "Weren't we somewhere else?"
"Hot, I remember being hot." He looked around at the files that were
strewn about the place. "I've studied
these things seven ways from Sunday and can't find anything."
going to recommend to Waverly that we shelve this for the time being." Napoleon lifted his head up and thought for a
long moment, then he dropped it back with a groan.
you ever have a feeling that something incredible had happened and you should
remember but you can't?"
"No..." Illya staggered to his feet. "I need a shower or to throw up or possibly
let me get in your way then." Napoleon
gave him a push and sank back to the cushions.
He looked back over at the balcony door and then shook his head. Oh well, if it was really important, someone
would mention it to him...