Some people are made of plastic
And you know some people are made of wood
Some people have hearts of stone
Some people are up to no good
Napoleon Solo knew what he was doing, in spite of his partner's obvious objections… his repeated obvious objections.
Of course Angelique Le Chien was a villainess of extraordinary proportions. Thinking that made him chuckle to himself, the pun was not intended. She wasn't fooling him, or controlling him or manipulating him. No, he was in charge of …
"Damn it." He hadn't meant to say it aloud. Illya turned his head slightly, drawled out with his manufactured accent the words he knew would annoy Napoleon.
"Have you reconsidered?"
"No.' That was too abrupt.
"No Illya, I'm going through with it. We have history, and every once in a while she even tells the truth. We need to know for certain what's going on with this formula, and it's, uhh…"
Illya looked straight ahead once more, his eyes set on the building where the formula in question and the woman named Angelique, were both located.
"Foolhardy, dangerous, likely to lead to something undesirable? Is that what you were going to say?" He knew full well that it wasn't, but sometimes the Russian found it impossible to not editorialize.
Napoleon joined his partner in gazing at the building. Angelique had sent him a message to meet her at the park bench that was located just a few hundred feet from the building in question. She gave no detail save the crudely drawn image of a skull and crossbones. That was, he assumed, to warn him or inform him, that the topic was a dangerous substance.
"I think she wants to do the right thing. Sometimes… she has helped me in the past. If what we know about this formula is anywhere near accurate, it's going to kill a lot of people and… " Napoleon sighed deeply as he ran out of rationalizations for why he was here.
Illya knew that his friend had, in spite of so many reasons why he should not, a strange affection for the blonde agent from THRUSH. She was attractive, not what he considered beautiful in any way but, admittedly she had a certain appeal. Not to him, naturally, but to a man like Napoleon Solo, her strength and intelligence were balanced by an innate ability to exude sexuality on a very high level. At least, to Kuryakin, it appeared to be so.
"I suppose it is possible that she wishes you no harm, but we will go together.' Napoleon started to object but Illya held up a hand and sternly rebuked the objection.
"I am going, do not think for a moment that she is beyond larceny and deceit, in spite of allowing that she isn't planning on killing you… today. We will go together."
Napoleon nodded, still looking past the hood of the car to the building, then across the street as he saw Angelique approach the designated bench. Angelique pulled out a handkerchief, or what appeared to be one, and wiped off the bench seat. As she did so she looked around, settling her gaze on the car where Napoleon and Illya were seated. On alert for any sign of betrayal, Illya put the key in the ignition and started the engine. In an instant there were men jumping out from behind hedges that lined the walkway next to them. Napoleon withdrew his Special and took aim through the open window, cutting down two of the assailants as Illya gunned the accelerator and sped past the spot where Angelique stood.
Napoleon didn't take his eyes off of her as they passed, enabling him to see a man grab Angelique from behind and wrench her arms backwards with great force. He couldn't hear it, but he knew that she screamed in pain at the rough treatment.
"She was not setting us up Illya. She just got caught. We need to go back and save her." Illya pulled the car over into an empty lot, both hands on the wheel as he gripped it and uttered a Russian epithet intended to insult Angelique and Napoleon both.
"Are you mad? She waved that handkerchief like a flag, while she was looking straight at us." Illya found no room for mercy in this scenario.
"Illya, I'm telling you, she was trying to warn me, not alert THRUSH. They must have intercepted her message somehow, or …' Pangs of guilt for his cavalier attitude toward his dalliance with the enemy agent suddenly assaulted him.
"Or, she has been suspected of treason because of me." The realization that their, what to call it? Was it a relationship? Napoleon's brain was fizzing like a can of soda that's been shaken up and then popped open.
Illya recognized the signs of guilt on his friend's face and in his voice. The verdict might finally be in on his activities with Angelique.
"You might be right. How do you want us to proceed?" Napoleon breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude. Illya was nothing if not loyal and reasonable… most of the time.
"They won't be expecting us to come back, certainly not to rescue Angelique. I say we just go through the front door and then figure it out from there. We just need to find where they have her and get her out." That's all he had. It wasn't a brilliant scheme, but he figured time was of the essence, so to speak.
"That's all? We just waltz in and ask them to hand over their agent?' Illya shook his head in frustration at his own willingness to do this thing.
"Fine. Look, it's getting darker, maybe they have a shift change we could take advantage of. I can't believe I'm going along with this." Napoleon laughed out loud, in spite of the seriousness of the situation.
"Neither can I, but I'm grateful that you are. Let's walk, less of an announcement without a car driving up."
The street lights were just coming on as the two men drove back to their original position and parked on the street, across from the THRUSH building where, they assumed, Angelique and the formula were still in residence. They exited the car with a degree of apprehension, looking around to make sure they wouldn't be ambushed again. The nagging thought that perhaps things weren't as they seemed kept popping to the front of Illya's mind, but he was determined to make a win out of this, for Napoleon's sake if not his own neck. The variables involved were numerous.
Napoleon took the lead as they approached the front door to the building, an older brick house in a neighborhood where people lived above businesses, and houses were recycled into shops or restaurants. This building had been a single family home, not large and without any particular style. Illya figured it had been added later, perhaps to replace what had been torn down. It lacked the charm of some of the other buildings, not unlike the wretched organization that now owned it.
The warm air of a summer evening seemed to suddenly envelope the two men as they paused at the door, a dim yellow porch light intended to ward off insects had a slight buzzing sound, a small detail that made Illya uneasy. He touched Napoleon's shoulder and indicated with a nod of his head for them to step off of the small stoop that fronted the building. Napoleon asked why with a singular expression, but trusted that his partner had good reason for it.
They stepped down to the side of the stoop, crouching down in anticipation of whatever might have been signaled by their arrival. Illya suspected the buzzing sound was due to an alarm that was triggered when someone, or something, stepped within the lighted area. His suspicions were rewarded when a slow moving electrical current swept across the space, visible beneath the yellowish light. Had they not moved away from it, the surge of electricity would have knocked them out, or possibly killed them.
Predictably, after any danger was past, the door opened and a large fellow emerged, ostensibly to remove the bodies. When he saw none, the momentary lapse allowed Napoleon to jump towards him, surprising and disabling the man with a single blow to his midsection. Illya finished him with a karate chop that rendered him unconscious for enough time to drag and handcuff him to a nearby drainpipe.
Assuming that the coast would not be clear enough to enter the house, Napoleon and Illya moved cautiously into an area filled with monitors and banks of computers. The room had a sound to it that spoke of information being processed and stored within those computers, very much like the corridor at UNCLE Headquarters where personnel attended to the constant business of espionage and world order. They certainly hadn't expected to see a similar sight here.
Napoleon motioned towards a corridor that seemed to lead to several rooms. There wasn't a staircase anywhere in sight, a curious thing in what appeared to be a two story building. Looking up, it was now evident in the dim lighting, that there was a metal grid about sixteen feet above them. That accounted for the height of the building, and looking across the width of the structure, both men spotted the barely discernible shape of a body. A woman's body.
Not willing to make a noise, Illya and Napoleon both began to search for a way up onto that platform. It seemed incredibly convenient that only the one man had been here to guard this place, and Angelique. However, THRUSH was often arrogant in assuming a victory before laurels could be collected. It was entirely possible that the threat of escape had been diminished considerably, and that this place was not important enough to warrant additional personnel.
Illya soon spotted the way up, a ladder that was welded to the metal platform. He made a pssst sound to get Napoleon's attention, then proceeded to climb up to the level where Angelique was lying unconscious. It didn't take long for Napoleon to follow, but not until he had checked out the rest of the bottom floor. No one else was here, but that didn't mean they weren't somehow under surveillance. Risking it, he made his way up to where Illya was attempting to wake Angelique.
"There's no one else here, we're all alone. What sort of operation is this do you think?" Napoleon was confused about the formula's value, for surely THRUSH would guard it were the rumors about it accurate.
"If we can get her conscious enough to get out of here then perhaps we will have our answers.' Illya hefted up the blonde, amazed at how heavy an unconscious body was regardless of the diminutive figure he now held. Together they managed to get her down the ladder, not an easy feat but something two capable agents could manage without too much trouble. At the bottom it was Napoleon who slung Angelique over his shoulder, something she would be aghast at learning, (although secretly anxious to have demonstrated when they were completely alone).
Illya did a search through the entire house, coming up with nothing. The formula, if it existed, was in the computer banks that he summarily destroyed by planting a fuse that ignited soon after he closed the front door behind him. Inside it was a series of pops and fizzes that completely destroyed everything in the room without burning down the building. He had no desire to put the neighbors at risk, and the new tool designed to destroy a computer's memory and function was handily put to good use on this night.
It took only half and hour to get back to UNCLE Headquarters with Angelique in tow. She was admitted to the Medical wing and put under armed guard. Regardless of Napoleon's insistence that she had been attempting to warn him of danger, Illya and Mister Waverly agreed that, in any case, she was a THRUSH agent and therefore considered dangerous, and duplicitous. Napoleon had to agree, and waited patiently for Angelique to wake up and, hopefully, tell him the truth.
Whatever had been given to her caused Angelique to wake with a thundering headache and nausea. She suspected, when her mind cleared sufficiently to think a clear thought, that she had been poisoned with the very formula she had sought to give to Napoleon. As far as she knew there was only one sample, and now she was a victim of its unresolved properties. She looked across the unfamiliar room and saw Napoleon, his head lolling to one side in an effort to stay awake.
"Napoleon… darling, over here." Angelique spoke softly, knowing that he would be instantly alert and, she assumed, at her side.
"Napoleon!" More volume was needed apparently. He jolted up out of his chair, checking the room before letting his eyes land on the lovely THRUSH agent.
"Ah, sleeping beauty is awake. None the worse for wear, I hope." He walked towards her, hesitating only slightly before bending down and kissing her. He instantly regretted it for the immediate effect that kiss had on his body, hoping no one would enter for a few minutes at least.
"Oh my, you are happy to see me.' The smile in her voice was echoed in the crooked smile on Angelique's face. Napoleon supposed that crooked smile was an unintended clue to her vocation, and her propensity for deception.
"Yes, well, some things seem inevitable my dear. And now, assuming you were always going to be honest with me, let's hear about what happened yesterday."
Angelique's smile disappeared, her tone was serious as she responded.
"I've been poisoned darling. They used that wretched formula on me, and now… Well, I don't know what happens next. I truly was going to get it to you, or help you, something. When Omar …" She saw the look on Napoleon's face go from concern to curiosity.
"Who is Omar? I've not heard that name before."
"He isn't well known, sort of schmoozed his way into Central from a hidden satrapy in the Baltics. He's quite evil, and he especially dislikes women who don't bow and scrape to gain his attention and approval." Her expression showed the intensity of her dislike of this Omar character. Angelique would never be accused of pandering to anyone, especially a misogynistic oaf like Omar Shekarsian.
"I assume you two butted heads." Napoleon had no doubt it had happened. And that it was the reason he poisoned her with the formula touted to be a means to topple nations.
"I don't think it actually works very well, but in any case, it knocked me out and gave me a dreadful headache. I suppose…' Angelique looked up at Napoleon from beneath eyelashes not her own but somehow still intact without a sign of their being artificial.
"I might just be a clue darling, a sort of living antidote to this, whatever it is." That sounded like a plea for amnesty, a means to avoid being punished for her vocation. UNCLE was tediously determined to put away THRUSH when they could.
Napoleon knew she had a case for remaining safe, and free.
It would be several days before results came in from the blood samples taken from Angelique. In that period of time she was allowed to stay in one of the apartments kept for visiting agents and innocents in need of protection. Angelique was neither, but she was necessary for the moment. Napoleon observed a degree of self-control, avoiding her until, after two days, he decided it would be safe to visit her and, well… talk.
A late supper was ordered in for the two of them, something special from the chef in the commissary. Also on the menu that evening was a bottle of Chateau Margaux Margaux that Napoleon brought with him, a remembrance of a particularly remarkable encounter in Provence.
"Oh darling, you do remember me fondly.' Angelique mewed with pleasure as Napoleon began to alternately pour wine and undress his sometime lover. The evening continued on like that until, in the early morning hours, the two of them were entwined on her bed in a manner not unlike that time in Provence.
The warbling of his communicator woke the exhausted agent, alerting him to his need to not be found in Angelique's bed.
"Yes, Solo here." His voice was throaty, the result of too much wine and, well…
"Napoleon, where are you?" It was Illya, and he knew where his partner was. What he couldn't understand was why he would risk it, right there in Headquarters.
"What is it? Why are you calling me?" Annoyed with himself and Illya, Napoleon took note of the need for the communicator, meaning Illya had already called his apartment looking for him.
"Mister Waverly wants us in his office. Now." That was all, and the Russian closed his device.
The Old Man was tired looking, probably too long at the job the previous evening. Solo and Kuryakin sat their places, waiting for their boss to convey the reason for being in his office. Napoleon was fresh as the proverbial daisy, no detail missed in his grooming regimen. Illya was dressed in black, a turtleneck and corduroy trousers that highlighted the blond hair and made him look more like a rock musician than a spy.
Alexander Waverly looked up as a plume of smoke wisped its way from the pipe to ceiling tiles, then set his eyes on his agents.
"There was nothing in Miss LeChien's system that would indicate a poison or foreign matter of any sort. Either the formula doesn't exist and was merely a ruse to get the two of you in their grasp, or it is an utter failure and THRUSH doesn't realize it. I find the latter hard to accept."
Illya shot a sideways look at his partner before speaking.
"I should think we were the intended targets of this. What, may I ask, caused Ange, er… Miss Le Chien, to be passed out cold for so long? She must have ingested something." Waverly was nodding his head.
"Yes, it was a cocktail of some sort intended to simply make her sleep. She was never in any danger, and does not now have any reason to expect leniency for her role as an active THRUSH operative." Napoleon blanched slightly at the inference that Angelique might find herself in prison… Tartarus.
"Sir, I know that Angelique is a THRUSH operative, and that we have been on opposite sides at, ummm … various times. But, in this instance, she did try to help me, us… She tried to warn us."
Napoleon couldn't let this happen. He couldn't consign Angelique to prison, no matter what had happened before, and not simply because of their relationship. He looked at Illya, his only witness to her efforts. The blond sighed, of course he would support his friend.
"It is true, sir. Miss LeChien did attempt to warn us of the danger, and was forcibly restrained and, we know now, drugged." As he said the words, Illya was beginning to imagine that some of what they witnessed might have been staged for their benefit. But why warn them with that handkerchief?
Waverly heard the words, but he also saw something in Mister Kuryakin's expression. He was thinking along the same lines, but he couldn't prove it.
"Very well, Mister Solo. We shall interrogate her again and, most probably, release her. And I do not intend for you to do that task. In fact, I am ordering you to remain out of contact with the woman, do you understand me?"
"Yes sir, loud and clear."
"Very good, you and Mister Kuryakin are no longer involved in this affair, your assignment is outside. Please pick it up and do not delay. That is all."
As they rose from their seats, Napoleon and Illya understood only too well that they were being sent out of town on a non-essential task in order to insure they were not in contact with Angelique. There would be no goodbye, not anything.
Illya opened the packet with their 'assignment'.
"We're going to Brussels to pick up a box of chocolates. I don't really mind, the trip might be a pleasant one." He knew Napoleon was going to be anxious about things, but it was for the best that he not be here, just in case.
"Brussels sounds nice, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the chocolates.' He sighed audibly, the very real possibility that Angelique would not be freed would occupy his thoughts until he knew for certain that she was alright.
Alexander Waverly buzzed his receptionist.
"Please have Miss LeChien brought here to my office. But, not until Kuryakin and Solo have left the building. Oh, and have a tea service sent up as well."
The Old Man leaned back in his chair. Sometimes the job had more twists than he liked to admit.