The Rising Son Affair

By M. E. Wells

Napoleon Solo stepped off the plane and immediately pulled up the collar of his overcoat. Behind him, fellow U.N.C.L.E. agent and partner, Illya Kuryakin, followed suit. Winter in Tokyo was cold and wet that year. At the bottom of the steps, the little Japanese stewardess smiled at the two men despite her obvious chill. Good manners and company policy demanded she put on her best face for the plane's passengers. Solo favored her with a warm smile, full of promise. Kuryakin barely glanced her way.

"Will you stop flirting, Napoleon? I'd like to get inside the terminal before I'm a solid block of ice." Solo dutifully moved on over the tarmac. The Russian followed behind carrying a small black briefcase, handcuffed to his wrist. A third U.N.C.L.E. agent stationed with the Tokyo office, Tohiro Takemoto, or "Taco" to his Western counterparts, took his place in line. He, too, smiled at the petite stewardess, thanking her for the trip.

"No," she said in Japanese, "It is we who thank you." Bowing slightly, she quickly palmed a small pellet and backing up, tossed it at his feet, simultaneously covering her nose and mouth.

Several other things then took place: a second pellet, thrown from the other side of the three men, landed at the feet of Napoleon Solo. Both pellets broke, dispensing an amazing amount of thick, white smoke, causing the three U.N.C.L.E. agents to gasp and fall to the tarmac unconscious, and two men quickly approached, grabbed Kuryakin under the arms, pulled him to a waiting car and threw him in the back seat. Seconds later, the car sped down the runway.


 It was cold and dark outside U.N.C.L.E.'s New York headquarters and Alexander Waverly was irritated. Solo and Kuryakin were late. The two were supposed to be briefed about their assignment starting....Waverly glanced sourly at his watch....almost 20 minutes ago. He looked up as the door to his office slid open.

"Sorry, sir," Solo said, "We were caught in traffic."

Kuryakin glared at his partner and moved to the other side of the table. Waverly tapped his pipe and for a moment ignored the two men, saying volumes with his silence.

"I hope the young lady won't be upset if you are not able to make your engagement this evening, Mr. Solo."

"This evening?"

"Yes, you gentlemen are going to catch a flight to Tokyo." Waverly turned to the photograph now projected on his wall.

"This is Dr. Kanzi Yoshido...."

"The microbiologist?"

"The same, Mr. Kuryakin. You are, of course, familiar with his work."

"Of course. Dr. Yoshido is considered one of the best in his field."

"Which field is, of course, biological warfare. He's been involved in a top-secret government project to develop a device that would effectively combat most known types of chemical and bacterial warfare. Unfortunately, while engaged in this research, Dr. Yoshido made a terrible discovery: he has isolated a microorganism so powerful it could instantly kill the inhabitants of an entire city the size of Tokyo simply by releasing one tiny drop in the atmosphere."

Solo and Kuryakin turned to look at Waverly.

"Surely this Dr. Yoshido doesn't plan to use this information...." Solo began.

"No, of that we are certain. Dr. Yoshido is a man of singular honor who would never willingly give this device to anyone...not even U.N.C.L.E. or his own government. Unfortunately, Thrush has other ideas......"


"Yes, Yoshido discovered a device that distills this deadly microorganism from another chemical -- as yet unknown to us. And Thrush has Dr. Yoshido in their clutches, I'm afraid, Mr. Kuryakin. He's being held prisoner, but has thus far resisted Thrush's pressure to reveal the process he developed." Waverly pointed at the screen.

"Ah, here we are, this, gentlemen, is also Dr. Yoshido." The screen showed a young Japanese boy, perhaps 16 or 17.

"Don't let his youth fool you. This is Yoshido's son, Atsumi, a brilliant child who has been attending school in this country. Dr. Yoshido hopes Atsumi will follow in his father's footsteps. From all accounts, this young man will soon surpass him. He holds several advanced degrees, as well as the key to his father's research." Both agents looked puzzled.

"Once Dr. Yoshido realized what he'd found, he destroyed the prototype and his research on the subject. But one thing he didn't destroy was the second set of notes he sent to Atsumi. The doctor has always made a practice of keeping his son involved in his research by mailing him daily copies of his research. He continued to do this right up until he realized what he had. Then, after destroying his work in Tokyo, he planned to have Atsumi do the same to the notes he'd been sent. This would have worked except for one small problem. Atsumi has disappeared."

"Along with the notes?" Kuryakin asked.

"You are quite correct, Mr. Kuryakin. So you two gentlemen are going to Tokyo..."

"To find Atsumi?"

"Yes, Mr. Solo, that will be your goal. Mr. Kuryakin will have another job entirely." Illya swiveled around to look at Waverly.

"You are going to be a decoy, Mr. Kuryakin. By this time tomorrow, I expect you to be in the hands of Thrush."


 The plan was complicated and neither U.N.C.L.E. agent was convinced it would work, but, as Waverly had said, there were no other options. U.N.C.L.E. had no clue as to Dr. Yoshido's whereabouts. They had some information relating to the younger Yoshido. Intelligence had traced him back to Japan, but lost the boy once he touched down. U.N.C.L.E. did have one thing on their side: Thrush didn't know Atsumi still had the notes. They believed he had turned the information over to U.N.C.L.E. scientists.

The agency had carefully salted the intelligence community with false information, alleging an U.N.C.L.E. courier would hand-deliver a copy of the notes to the lab in Tokyo, ostensibly to start work on a counter-device so if a hostile entity was able to make one, there would be a defense.

Of course, the  younger Yoshido still had the notes as far as anyone knew, and no one knew where he was. Kuryakin's job would be to carry a set of false notes -- coded so that Thrush would need him for decoding purposes -- be captured, and locate Dr. Yoshido. He would be fitted with a homing device that U.N.C.L.E. researchers claimed was undetectable, fitted surgically under the Russian's skin.

The device was inserted -- an uncomfortable but mercifully quick procedure -- and he and Solo were ushered off on the next flight out of New York. Illya stayed chained to the small black briefcase carrying the bogus notes throughout the flight.

"It would be a lot more comfortable if I didn't have this thing on my wrist," Illya groused for the umpteenth time since the two men had left New York.

"But you wear it so well." Solo signaled the stewardess.

"Would you mind bringing my friend here one of those small pillows..."

"And you, sir? What can I do for you?" A brunette with bright blue eyes and a throaty voice, she smiled at Solo. He returned it.

"Oh, I don't know, what do you have in mind?" The shapely stewardess gave a light laugh and went to find Illya's pillow.

"Subtlety isn't your forte, Napoleon."

"I don't know. She didn't look as though she found my approach too terribly gauche."

"She probably couldn't tell you what the word means. I'm going to take a nap. Wake me when it's time to change planes."


The pair did change planes in San Francisco, picking up Taco in the airport. He'd been retracing Atsumi's steps.

"No one, not even his best friends, seem to know where he went once he hit Tokyo. It just dead-ends."

The three agents discussed what they knew would probably happen once they reached the Japanese capitol. Illya was prepared for his abduction. He would play along and try to keep Thrush on the hook until he located Dr. Yoshido. The Tokyo office would monitor him until he gave the signal for back up to move in. In the meantime, Napoleon and Taco would search for Atsumi.

"Taco, are these guys pretty good at what they do?"

"The best, Napoleon," the Japanese agent looked over at Kuryakin, uncomfortably wedged against the window, the briefcase in his lap, sound asleep.

"I know what you're thinking, Napoleon. Don't worry about your partner. He' ll be in good hands. Besides, Illya's always been pretty good at getting out of a tough spot. I think he can take care of himself."

"Maybe he can. But there's some thing about this one I just don't like."


 Napoleon sat irritably on the edge of the examination table. A very round nurse was dabbing an antiseptic on the abrasion he'd sustained on his cheek when it made contact with the tarmac. Taco was on the other table, where the doctor was gingerly feeling a lump on the back of the agent's head.

"Ow!" Taco said, pulling away. Quickly he spat out a string of Japanese. The doctor moved off with a scowl.

"You should watch that language. You make these guys mad and they'll schedule you for surgery." The nurse smiled and patted Solo's hand.

"You are good, now, Mr. Solo. You may go."

Napoleon jumped lightly from the table.

"Let's go see how the homing device is working, shall we?"

Taco grabbed his jacket and led the way through the maze of corridors.

"We'll go to the tracking room and I'll introduce you to the team that's assigned to Illya."

The  two followed the snaking hallways through the Tokyo headquarters of U.N.C.L.E.. stopping in a room dominated by an electronic map on the wall. The map of Tokyo was huge and detailed. Three men, all Japanese, shirtsleeves rolled up, cigarettes smoking in the ashtray, were at various tasks. One watched the map. A second man kept track of the coordinates, while a third poured some fresh hot tea from the pot on a nearby console. A neat Japanese woman with long straight hair and bangs sat at a desk with earphones. She turned a set of dials occasionally and punched in a number or two. Looking up, she flashed a smile at Taco and Solo. Taco spoke to her first in Japanese, then switched to English.

"Everyone here speaks English and Russian, Napoleon. This is part of the team that will be monitoring our friend around the clock. There will be two on duty here at all times. When the time comes to bail Illya out, they will do the job."

Taco introduced Solo around the room.

"Don't worry about our end of it, Napoleon. We've got Illya covered and as soon as he gives the word, he'll be out of there."


 Illya's head felt as though someone had pulled it off his shoulders and used it to play basketball. He opened his eyes and blinked. For a moment he wasn't sure exactly where he was, but then he remembered. The briefcase -- he sat up and looked at his arm. It was gone, but then he expected that.

Illya found himself in a small cell of some sort. It was very dark and somewhat cold and damp: four walls, one cot, no window, a large solid metal door, and that was it, not even a sink or commode. Illya sighed, pulling the blanket up tight around his chin. Might as well get some sleep, he thought, too early to escape. Yawning, he rolled over on his side and soon was fast asleep.

It didn't last long. Within an hour, he was pulled out of the cell and given a jumpsuit to put on -- his clothes, shoes and personal effects had been taken from him when he was brought in -- and ushered into the presence of what Illya deduced was probably the Head Thrush. Or at least the Thrush In Charge of This Particular Operation. He introduced himself as Thomas.

"Is that Thomas, first name, or Thomas, last name?"

"I don't care what you call me, Mr. Kuryakin. I only care that you quickly restore the documents you were carrying to their original condition."

"And why should I do that?"

"Because if you don't, Mr. Kuryakin, I am going to kill you. And I promise you I am a man of my word. Take him."

Illya was ushered down a long, dark hallway and into a small room outfitted with a desk, a lamp, paper and pen. The contents of his briefcase were also there. The guard shoved the agent inside and slammed the door. Illya could hear the lock being turned.

He sighed and looked around. Time to stall. Sitting at the table, he began to write a few lines, mindful of the cameras recording his every move. He knew the tactic would only work for a while, but it might buy him a little time, perhaps enough to locate the doctor. Illya wrote a college physics paper from memory, including equations. To the untrained eye, it might be good enough to buy a few extra hours.

Thomas did not have an untrained eye. When the guard delivered Kuryakin's papers, the tall Thrush agent glanced at them, then came storming into the small room.

"I see you are playing games with me, Kuryakin. I am warning you. I'm not in the mood for this. I have a dangerously short fuse, my U.N.C.L.E. friend, and you are playing with matches. You have one more chance to get it right and if you do not, then I will put personally put a bullet between your eyes. Get back to work."

Illya heard the lock fall back into place and sighed. Obviously Thomas was not going to be taken in by random scribbling and Illya had no desire to have his head ventilated. Time, he thought, for Plan B.

Turning his head away from the camera and placing his chin in his hand, Illya appeared to be doing some very serious thinking. In reality he was snaking his finger into his mouth and breaking a small false crown that held a tiny pill. He swallowed both and continued to write, but in about 20 minutes, he suddenly stopped, dropping the pen from his hand. The U.N.C.L.E. agent stood up, clutched his chest and fell over the desk, sending paper, pen and lamp to the floor in a crash.

 "I told you, I'm not a medical doctor."

"I don't care, Dr. Yoshido. You're all I have at this moment. What is wrong with the U.N.C.L.E. agent?"

"I said I'm not a physician, but it appears to me he has suffered a heart attack. And judging from his symptoms, I would suggest you get him to a hospital as soon as possible, before he dies."


"His heartbeat is quite irregular, his color is very bad, respiration shallow...I am not a betting man, but if I were, I'd say this man will not live much longer without medical treatment."

The man known as Thomas swore and looked over at the young Russian agent, lying quite still and pale on the cot.

"I don't like this. I don't like this at all, but I can't afford to have him die until one of you gives me the answers I'm seeking. Dr. Yoshido, you will stay with him while I send the boys to find a doctor for Mr. Kuryakin."

"Kuryakin? This is Kuryakin?"

"Yes, you know him?"

"No, I...I know of him through my contacts with U.N.C.L.E. What have you done to him?"

"We've done nothing, old man. Kuryakin's weakness is just another example of U.N.C.L.E.'s inferiority. Lock them both in."


 Napoleon and Taco were having no luck locating the younger Yoshido. Every lead led to nowhere. Finally, the two agents located a young scientist who had befriended the teen. He told them he took Atsumi to rhythm and blues clubs in Tokyo's Shinjiku district.

"He could be himself there -- no one thought of him as some smart little kid," the friend said, giving the agents a list of the clubs they had frequented.

The U.N.C.L.E. agents waited until after nine to start hitting the clubs. Night life in Shinjiku started late. Staying together, they walked the district, checking out everything on their list, along with anything that looked promising. Finally, around midnight, tired and ready to sit down, they ducked into a place called, "Mo-Jo's" and took a small table in the back of the club. The jukebox was blaring "Gimme Some Lovin" while the band took a break. The club was crowded and full of smoke and the noise made it impossible to talk, so they contented themselves to sip a couple of drinks.

When the band began to filter back into the room, Taco stood up.

"Guess that's our cue to move on."

"Maybe not. Taco, look at that table over by the stage...the one to the left."

Taco looked, then glanced back at Napoleon with a smile.

"My what good eyes you have, said Little Red Riding Hood."

Atsumi Yoshido sat alone at the small table, chin in hand, listening intently to the music and drumming his fingers on the table. He didn't see the two men approach from either side and pull up chairs until they were both seated. Startled, he began to rise, but Taco grabbed the boy's arm and firmly pulled him back into his seat. He looked at the two men with loathing.

"Now you have me. It will do you no good. I'll die before I help you."

"That won't be necessary," Solo said, pulling out his identification card.

"We're the good guys."


 Illya was feeling terrible, but that was what the pill was designed to do. And it's effects would pass muster even under the scrutiny of a doctor or the most sophisticated medical equipment. When taken, the pill's initial effects would last about two hours, then cause a deep sleep, so deep it mimicked death. The effects would last for three days unless counteracted by an antidote. Illya hoped the U.N.C.L.E. response would be quick.

Dr. Yoshido leaned over the young Russian.

"Can you hear me, Mr. Kuryakin?"

"Yes. Please doctor. There is help on the way. You must..." Illya stopped and drew a gasp as pain slammed his chest. Yoshido pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, dampened it with the water the guards had brought, and gently mopped the agent's face. He then took Kuryakin's pulse, erratic and racing.

"You must lie still. You are very sick and we have to get you some help."

"No! Please. Listen to me. We cannot leave here. U.N.C.L.E. is on the way. You must stall them. Please!"

Behind Yoshido the door opened and a frightened man was shoved into the room.

"This is Dr. Matsumoto. See to the patient, please. Guard, remove Dr. Yoshido to his cell." Thomas watched as Yoshido was taken away.

"Examine the patient and let me know what you find," he said and left the room.


 U.N.C.L.E. headquarters was ablaze with activity. The teams monitoring Kuryakin had called in the rest of the strike force and fully two dozen Section Two agents stood ready to effect a rescue. The team leader was briefing them when Solo and Taco wandered in with their prize catch. Atsumi, who was still not sure he could trust the two agents was allowed into the briefing to hear plans surrounding his father's rescue.

The team leader had just given the orders to mobilize, sending agents scurrying for equipment, as Solo rounded the corner.

"Ah, Mr. Solo, you are just in time. We are preparing to move out. It appears Mr. Kuryakin has located the doctor and is ready for us to effect a rescue."

"Or something's gone wrong. When do we leave?"

"In five minutes. He set off the alarm a little less than 20 minutes ago. It doesn't appear he's been moved. A team has had the building under surveillance since we picked up the homing device's signal. Ah, all is ready. Would you care to join us?"

"Let's go."


 "He has a homing implant," the guard said, holding up the tiny device. "The doctor found it. I had it removed."

"Damn!" Thomas exploded. "Get the U.N.C.L.E. agent and Dr. Yoshido -- quickly before U.N.C.L.E. shows up. Put them in the limo. Do you hear me? Hurry."

"What about Dr. Matsumoto?"

"Kill him. He is of no further use to us. Oh -- and place the homing device on his dead body where our friends from U.N.C.L.E. will be sure to see it. Move!"

 The limo carrying Kuryakin, Yoshido, Thomas and two of his henchmen pulled out of the underground garage just minutes ahead of the U.N.C.L.E. attack. Other vehicles containing the remainder of the guards had already left. The surveillance team didn't see a thing. The garage exit was a full city block away from the building it serviced. It had been constructed just for occasions like this one, a way to enter and exit without anyone on the outside seeing anything.


Napoleon didn't realize it, of course, but he and Taco passed the limousine carrying his partner and quarry as it pulled out into the dark streets. Traffic in Tokyo was usually hectic, but at this early morning hour there were fewer people about and the U.N.C.L.E. assault teams made good time.

The entry teams forced the doors in the both the front and rear of the building, leaving a guard on the perimeter, just in case some of the baddies made it out of the building before being caught. Inside, the teams, their U.N.C.L.E. specials drawn and some carrying high-powered rifles, made their ways cautiously down the corridors, sweeping one room at a time. Nothing was found.

The team leader, Taco and Solo were searching the Thrush leader's office when another team member burst through the door.

"You'd better come look at this," he said. The three agents followed him down the hall to the cell where Kuryakin had been kept. On the cot was a body, covered with a blood-stained sheet. Napoleon felt his stomach knot as the other agent reached over and pulled the sheet aside. Fully expecting to see a shock of blonde hair, Solo felt himself exhale with relief as he saw the body a Japanese man, one he'd never seen before.

"Who is he?" Taco asked.

"Don't know, but something's very wrong. Look at this," he said as he picked up a small device from the dead man's chest and held it up for them to see.

"It's Kuryakin's homing device."


 The limo sailed through traffic, the driver urged on by a furious Thomas. A Thrush guard rode in the front seat with the driver while Thomas sat in the back, directly across from Yoshido. Kuryakin was stretched out on the seat, his head in Yoshido's lap, feigning unconsciousness. His chest hurt like hell and, even worse, there was now a small hole on the inside of his thigh where the homing transmitter had been removed without the courtesy of drugs to dull the pain. But the physical pain wasn't what worried Illya: losing the homing device did.

He knew their chances of being rescued without the homing device were nil. They'd have to find another way. Illya watched Thomas through narrowed eyes, hoping to catch him in a weak moment. Finally, when Thomas turned to exhort the driver through the open window that separated the two compartments, Illya saw his chance. Lunging as quickly as his weakened condition would allow, he launched himself at Thomas's throat, and grabbing hold, put the man in a chokehold.

Caught off-guard by Illya's attack, Thomas slid partially down in the seat, trying to pull Kuryakin's fingers from his throat, but unable to do so. The Thrush guard, hearing the commotion, turned to check and in doing so, hit the driver's elbow, knocking the steering wheel from his grasp.

The driver grabbed for the wheel and tried to brake but its path couldn't be corrected in time and the huge limo began to fishtail into the opposite lane, directly in the path of a very large and very fast truck.


 Solo and Taco looked glumly at the map of Tokyo. It had been hours since the abortive rescue attempt and nothing had changed. Lights blinked from the map's surface, each one pinpointing the location of an U.N.C.L.E. agent currently deployed in the big city. All the lights were red, signifying Section Two agents. There were no yellow lights, the kind used to track homing devices.

"How far ahead of us do you think they were?" Solo asked in a weary voice. Both he and Taco were bone-tired, but that wasn't where the weariness came into play. The senior Section Two agent was worried about his partner and Dr. Yoshido. After they'd found the homing device, the U.N.C.L.E. agents discovered the tunnel leading to the garage and the way out. All Thrush agents had flown the coop, right under their noses.

"I don't know, Mr. Solo. I would guess not more than a few minutes," the team leader said.

"I don't think there's much we can do right now, Napoleon. We're putting all of our people out to shake down their informants, check the places Thrush is known to frequent and monitor all routes out of the country. They will find something. For us, it had become a matter of honor. As for you, you need to sleep, my friend, so you will be fresh when we do have a lead," Taco said.

Napoleon started to protest, but changed his mind. Perhaps a couple of hours of sleep would help him think more clearly. But first he had to report to Mr. Waverly. It wasn't a task eagerly anticipated.

"Yes, Mr. Solo. What do you have to report?" Waverly was on the giant screen from New York. Solo swallowed.

"We failed, sir. Or at least partially. We've found Atsumi and he is working with our scientists to devise a method to counteract Dr. Yoshido's device. We have not been able to rescue Dr. Yoshido."

"What about Mr. Kuryakin?" Solo briefly explained what had happened. Waverly frowned.

"I am not happy with this outcome. Not at all, Mr. Solo. Find Dr. Yoshido, no matter what the cost."

"Yes, sir. We're already looking, sir. We hope to have a lead on Illya and the doctor before it's too late."

"Mr. Kuryakin will have to take care of himself at the moment, Mr. Solo. You are to concentrate on Dr. Yoshido. Find him." The screen went blank and Taco whistled.

"Whoa! He wasn't exactly in a jovial mood, was he?"

"That's an understatement. Taco, I think I'll take you up on the nap. If you'll help me get back to my hotel room, I'll take a shower and get a little sleep."

"Sure Napoleon. I'll make sure you're called if anything pops."


 The accident was terrible. The Thrush driver and guard were killed outright, as was  the driver of the truck. Dr. Yoshido had been badly injured, pinned inside the limo, which had rolled several times before stopping. Ambulance crews and police had found a fourth man, also dead, in the tall grass, where he'd apparently been thrown when the car rolled. He had a gash on his head and appeared to have broken several bones. The man, a foreigner, had no identification on him, so his body was taken to the morgue and put into cold storage.

There was no one else found at the scene.


 Sleep came quickly for Napoleon. He'd learned over the years to rest whenever he could, no matter what the circumstances, and although he was deeply worried about his partner, he was also exhausted. And practical enough to know that exhaustion could be fatal in his line of work.

So Solo crawled into the western-style bed in his room at the New Otani Hotel, a place more luxurious than his U.N.C.L.E. per diem usually allowed, but arranged for by one of Taco's friends on staff, and slept, a deep, restless sleep.


 The man in the intensive care unit was hooked up to all sorts of machines. They helped him breathe, helped his heart beat. And although he had not yet regained full consciousness, the doctors were encouraged when he drifted up for a moment, like a swimmer trying to break the surface of the water, and spoke, although no one knew what he was talking about.

He had been brought in the middle of the night, and this was his second night in the unit. All the nurses had heard him calling for his "Uncle". He said it many times, over and over, he needed to warn his uncle of something. The man seemed insistent, almost desperate and when one nurse leaned over and gently asked the man the name of his uncle, he clearly said, "Not my uncle, but "U.N.C.L.E."" before lapsing back into unconsciousness. The nurse told the on-duty doctor of the man's fretfulness and repeated requests for "uncle" and he, in turn, mentioned the curious delusion to his superior, a top-notch, world-renowned surgeon.

The surgeon considered what the man said and then thoughtfully went into his office at the hospital, carefully closed the door and opened a locking file cabinet, where he removed a lock box and pulled out a coded piece of paper. He then picked up the telephone receiver and dialed the number on the paper.

`Yes, this is the friend from Kamakura," he said and was told to hold while the line was scrambled, which he did. When the individual he had called finally picked up, the surgeon recounted what he had been told about the car accident victim in intensive care and then hung up the phone and looked at his watch.

They should be here in less than 20 minutes. That left time for some hot tea.


 The body in the morgue had not been claimed nor identified and protocol dictated an autopsy be performed within 24 hours of its arrival.

The nightshift technician was reviewing the morgue's occupants, when he pulled open the drawer holding the foreigner and to check his toe tag. Yes, this one had been there much too long without an autopsy. It should have been done that day. They must have been really busy and someone just overlooked him. The morgue tech put a big red check mark next to the entry on his list, and scheduled the unknown foreigner for autopsy first thing in the morning.

And taking one last look at the curious golden hair of the dead man, he shut the drawer and went on to the next body.


 The man crept quietly onto the ward. It was dark and most of the staff was scattered . He'd been watching and was certain Yoshido was in the third room on the left.

Wearing a hospital orderly's uniform and bent over to make himself seem smaller, the man shuffled quietly through the hall, pushing a laundry cart ahead of him. He stopped outside of the third door and looked around. There was no one in the hall, no one paying attention to him. He ducked into the room, pulling the laundry cart.

Yoshido was on the bed, hooked up to all sorts of fancy machines. The man didn't care. He started pulling out wires, unhooking him. He carried a .45 fitted with a silencer and enough clips to take out the entire hospital. He would not leave without Yoshido, no matter what else happened.

The nurse in charge of the ward pushed open the door and scurried in, concerned by the alarms being set off at the ward desk. She saw the man hunched over Yoshido' s bed and barked an order for him to move back. He spun and dropped her neatly with one shot, then turned back to the task at hand. Picking up the frail doctor, the man dumped him into the laundry cart and began to push it out of the room, kicking the body of the interfering nurse aside with his foot as he passed.

He pushed the door open and peered out into the hallway and, seeing no one, began hurrying toward the service elevator. The passenger elevator opened as he passed and three men got off -- two Japanese and a foreigner. The man put his head down and continued to push the cart, hitting the button at the service elevator. As the service elevator opened, the three men stepped into Yoshido's room and came spilling back out into the hall. Two of them ran toward the service elevator with guns drawn. The service elevator closed and began to make its way to the ground floor.

The man pulled his gun out and held it steady so that when the door opened he could immediately fire. But there was no one there. Cautiously, the man pushed the cart out into the service hallway and began to run, pushing it ahead of him, to the door at the end of the hall, the door leading to the garage. No one tried to stop or challenge him.

He hit the door with the car and was in the garage. There it was -- the car -- only a few more yards and he'd have Yoshido away from here. He almost laughed out loud. So preoccupied was he that he almost missed hearing the footsteps behind him, turning around so late he didn't have time to bring up his gun and fire. For a split second Thomas felt the bullet that caught him in the chest. His heart gave one more beat before he dropped to the garage floor, dead and bloody.

Solo and Taco, their guns still out and covering the body, made their ways cautiously over to the man. Napoleon shook his head.

"Never seen this guy before."

"Look over here, Napoleon. I believe this is our Dr. Yoshido."

"That is my father. What have they done to him?" Atsumi had followed the two agents down the stairs.

"Let's get him back up to the ward," Solo said, pushing the laundry basket.


 An hour later, as the sun came up, Solo and Taco stood looking out the big window on the hospital's fourth floor lounge. The sky was a wonderful pink, tinged with gold. Yoshido was still being worked on and they hoped to speak with the doctor before they left.

"Napoleon, I wish there was something I could say. We blew it. I'm sorry," Taco hung his head.

"You never know how these things are going to turn out, Taco. Illya wasn't a school teacher. He knew this could happen. I just always thought it would be a bullet, not a car accident, even though he drives..." Napoleon stumbled and corrected himself, "Drove like a maniac."

"If you want, I'll take you over to the morgue later today to identify him and make arrangements to send him back to New York."

There was a long silence and Napoleon thought for a moment he was going to lose it. Big boys don't cry, do they? He took a deep breath and pushed the thought away for a moment.

"Yes, that will be fine, Taco. I'd like to take him home with me. I don't want him here alone."

A young nurse approached the two men.

"So sorry to interrupt your conversation, gentlemen, but Dr. Yoshido and his son would like to speak with you," she said.

They turned and walked down the hall to the room where Yoshido had been moved. U.N.C.L.E. guards were stationed alongside the door and a technician was busy installing a high-tech monitoring system.

"Nobody's going to get past us this time," Taco said as they pushed open the door. Yoshido, looking wan but happy, was propped against his pillows, holding his son's hand.

"I want to thank you for saving my life, Mr. Solo and you, Mr. Takemoto. I would also like to thank Mr. Kuryakin, is he here?"

Napoleon shook his head.

"No, sir. Illya's dead. We just received word that a man meeting his description was found dead at the scene of the accident. His body's at the morgue."

"I am not surprised to hear he is dead. Such a young man for a heart attack. He should never have tried to take the Thrush agent when he was so sick."

"Heart attack?" Solo asked, puzzled.

"Yes, he had a heart attack soon after his capture. They brought a doctor in to treat him..."

"Napoleon, did Illya have one of those simulator pills..." Taco began, but Solo was already on his communicator.

"Open Channel D."

"Waverly here, Mr. Solo. Congratulations on your...."

"No time for that, sir. Did Illya have a simulator in one of his teeth? I need to know and quickly."

"One moment, I'll check...." there was a brief pause, then Waverly's voice came back on.

"Why yes, Mr. Solo. Mr. Kuryakin had a heart attack simulator pill in his back right molar, why do you ask...."

But Napoleon was running for the door with Taco behind him. They hit the parking lot at a dead run, jumping into Taco's car and taking off at breakneck speed. Behind them, the day was underway. The streets were becoming crowded with small cars,  shopkeepers were tossing buckets of water on their sidewalks and sweeping them clean, children made their ways to school.

"We're never going to make it."

"Yes we will. Call in to headquarters and have someone meet us there with the antidote. Oh, and hold on to your hat. We're going to do some illegal driving here." With that, Taco veered up on the sidewalk, narrowly missing an old lady.


They did their best, but it took nearly 15 minutes to get to the morgue in Tokyo's morning rush. They didn't even bother to park the car, just leaving it in the travel lane and jumping out, running up the steps. Taco barked a question at the man in the reception area. When he didn't answer fast enough, the Japanese agent hit the double metal doors and went into the morgue with Solo in tow. He stopped a technician pushing an occupied gurney and fired off a question.

"He said the unknown foreigner is in that drawer over there. Here, follow him, Napoleon." He pointed to the man who'd been pushing the body, who led them to a drawer, saying something in Japanese and pointing to the large red check-mark on the card on the front of the drawer.

"What did he say?"

"This one's to be autopsied this morning." Taco paused. "You know, Napoleon, this is a long shot, don't you? He really could be dead."

"I know. But I won't give up without trying." Napoleon took a deep breath and opened the drawer.

It was empty.

Taco threw a question at the technician, who shrugged and pointed to a room down the hall.

"He says they've taken him to the autopsy. Let's hope we're not too late." They hurried down the hall and Taco peered through the glass on the autopsy room door just in time to see the pathologist completing the Y-cut into the chest cavity. He put his arm out and forced Napoleon back.

"Don't, Napoleon. Please. Stay back."

"So that's it."

"I'm afraid so. I guess I should let headquarters know we won't need that medical team after all and then I'll see about getting his personal effects." Taco squeezed Solo's arm and guided him up the hall.

"Sit here and wait for me, Napoleon, while I check...." he stopped abruptly. "There's the medical team now. I'll brief them."

A moment later and he was back.

"Napoleon, you aren't going to believe this and it may still be too late, but that wasn't Illya. Atsumi had enough presence of mind to call the morgue after we left. He discovered Illya had been moved to an autopsy room and managed to persuade the staff to hold off until we arrived. Our friend is in the last autopsy room at the end of the hall and they're going to give him the antidote. Depending on his other injuries...well, the odds aren't promising but it's not over yet."


 Napoleon adjusted his seat backward and closed his eyes. The previous week had been exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and he planned to sleep all the way across the Pacific Ocean. He had hoped to bring his partner back when he left, but the time was too short. Taco promised to bring Illya back to New York in a week or so. Napoleon glanced at the empty seat next to him. He felt unfinished, like something was missing. His communicator beeped.

"Solo here."

"Napoleon, I thought you were going to smuggle me a bottle of Vodka in here before you left." Solo chuckled. He'd left Illya in traction in a hospital bed, indignant since he awakened to find himself wearing nothing but a body bag and surrounded by strangers. He' d been especially put out when he discovered he'd been in a morgue drawer for a day and a half.

"Look under your pillow, Snow White. You were asleep when I came in this morning to say good-bye. And if you finish that bottle before they let you go, tell Taco. He promised me he'd look after you."

And with that, Napoleon Solo closed his communicator and leaned back in his seat for a little well-deserved rest.


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