Napoleon Solo stepped out of a cubicle in the U.N.C.L.E. headquarters’ washroom and crossed to the basins with a carefree tread. He washed his hands, then began to straighten his tie and smooth down his hair in the mirror. The circuitous route he planned back to his small office from the washroom would take him through the weaponry archive, and he had set his sights on the cute secretary there as a target to be his date this weekend. But as he stood there primping, a strange prickling sensation tickled his skin, accompanied by a faint humming in his ears.
‘Thrush weapons don’t usually reach this far inside,’ he muttered very quietly to his reflection.
He slipped his hand inside his jacket until his hand was resting comfortingly on the butt of his revolver. He stood very still, watching the toilet doors behind him in the mirror. Two of the doors opened, almost simultaneously, and two men in dapper civilian clothing stepped out into the small room. They registered his presence, and made as if to move out of the room. Instantly Solo whirled, whipping out his gun.
‘Okay. Hands up. Then freeze.’
One of them looked startled. The other merely raised an eyebrow. Then the two raised their hands very slowly, and froze.
‘What are you doing in here?’
The slightly smaller blond one gave a charming smile. ‘I’m sorry. We must be in the wrong department.’
‘Yes,’ the taller one added in a deep, steady voice. ‘I fear that we lost our way.’
‘You have to be very lost before you end up in here, friend,’ Napoleon said sceptically. ‘This is private property. Very private. Who are you?’ he asked crisply.
The two exchanged glances.
‘I do not believe our names would be familiar to you,’ the tall one said apologetically.
Solo moved the gun closer. ‘You better decide to tell me soon, before you find a neat, round hole in your head.’
The stranger barely reacted to a threat that would have most people babbling more details than he knew what to do with. Napoleon looked a little more closely at this odd, tall man. He looked - different, was the only way he could put it. His face was very pale, almost faintly green, and totally expressionless. His dark eyes were void of emotion, just like his polite voice. Despite his neat business suit his head was covered by a woollen cap that was pulled down over his ears and even over his eyebrows, but Solo could still see that one eyebrow was raised in a way that could only be described as quizzical.
‘A hole?’ the man asked in that level voice. ‘You mean you would actually fire that primitive - ’
‘Spock,’ the blond one said quickly, shaking his head slightly.
‘So that’s your name?’ Solo asked. ‘I don’t remember that in any of the Thrush files.’ He pulled a slim silver pen out of his pocket, and twisted the end. His eyes never left the two strangers. ‘Open channel D. Illya.’
‘Kuryakin here,’ a Russian accented voice filtered through the pen. Again, the strangers did not react to something most people would see as quite astonishing.
‘Illya, you better get down here. We’ve got feathered friends in our washroom. And while you’re coming, check the name Spock in Thrush files. How do you spell that?’ he said aside to the tall one.
‘S-p-o-c-k,’ the man obliged, looking faintly amused despite the gun. Or was that just Solo’s imagination? There was not a twitch of a muscle in the man’s face, the only sign of humour being a lightness in the eyes. He’d be a damned good poker player, Solo thought.
‘Ah, like the baby doctor,’ Solo said irreverently. ‘Are you a doctor, friend?’
‘I am not, as yet, your friend. But I do hold a number of doctorates, or the equivalents thereof,’ the man said smoothly, without a hint of pride.
‘A number of doctorates,’ Napoleon muttered under his breath. He raised his voice. ‘S-p-o-c-k. You got that, Illya?’
‘Like the baby doctor. Yes, I heard,’ the dark Russian voice replied.
‘Great.’ He closed the communications device, and pocketed it. ‘Okay,’ Solo said, addressing the two men again. ‘Explain. How did you get in without setting off any of the alarms? We should have been alerted all over the complex as soon as you set one foot over the line.’
‘We flew,’ the shorter one said sarcastically, his eyes narrowing as he looked Napoleon over, as if weighing up the possible outcome of a struggle.
‘Don’t even think about it,’ Solo warned them. ‘I’d have the two of you shot through the leg before you could even think of jumping me. Now, I don’t know what you clowns think you’re playing at, but we’re going to find out, one way or another.’
‘Is that a threat?’ the blond one asked lightly. He seemed far too flippant for the seriousness of the situation. Napoleon was looking forward to taking him down a peg or too.
‘It’s a promise. You look like the leader,’ Solo hazarded.
The man folded his arms across his chest – a seemingly casual action that gave away that he was, perhaps, feeling threatened despite his relaxed demeanour. ‘Maybe.’
‘You’ve already got Spock’s for free. You’ll have to earn my name,’ he said smugly.
‘Would you like to tell me why you’re here?’
‘No, not really.’
‘Thank you very much for asking,’ the tall one added, and again Solo did a double-take, wondering if the man meant humour and then deciding it was impossible.
At that moment the door opened, and a slim blond man walked in briskly, already with his gun out of its holster.
‘Well, Illya?’ Napoleon asked him.
‘Yes, there is a Spock in Thrush.’ Kuryakin looked the two men over quickly. ‘But that one’s a foot shorter than these two, with long blond hair. The first name is Valerie.’ He smiled very briefly – a smile so swift that after the fact it was hard to be sure if it had really happened. ‘Looked like your type, too.’ Then he regarded the men, and looked puzzled. ‘Napoleon, how did they get in? How did they manage to breach security?’
‘They don’t want to tell us,’ Solo said, keeping his eyes fixed on the two men.
‘Who else?’ Solo shrugged.
‘Mr Waverly won’t be pleased,’ Illya said grimly, shaking his head. ‘No one’s got this far in undetected before. Come on, you two.’ He nodded towards the door. ‘Out. And keep your hands away from your bodies. I’d rather not have to shoot you. The corridors have just been cleaned.’
‘Illya is a very good shot,’ Solo added.
The two men exchanged glances, and then, silently, obeyed.
Illya watched the prisoners closely as Mr Waverly sat down at the large round table in his office. The captives were already seated in chairs close by. The blond man looked surprisingly relaxed, but he kept his eyes fixed on the strange, small black devices that had been taken from them, that were sitting on the table just out of reach. The taller one named Spock sat bolt upright in his chair, his dark eyes flicking around the room, taking in every detail with a disturbing intensity. Illya would have sworn the man was recording every detail as if he had a photographic memory.
Waverly faced the shorter man with a charming smile.
‘Allow me to introduce myself – I am Alexander Waverly,’ he said in his polite English accent, focussing on the blond intruder, who nodded curtly. ‘It would be courteous of you to tell us your name. It makes it rather easier to talk.’
‘Very well,’ the man nodded, his gaze now shrewd and focussed intently on U.N.C.L.E. New York’s most senior operative. ‘It won’t hurt. I’m sure you won’t find me in any of your records. My name is Kirk. James Kirk.’
Napoleon snorted, exchanging a glance with Kuryakin. ‘Are you sure it’s not Bond, James Bond?’ he asked.
The two men looked totally baffled.
‘Mr Solo, that’s enough,’ Waverly said in a warning tone. ‘Thank you, Mr Kirk.’ His gaze fell on the taller man. ‘Would you like to take your hat off, Mr - ?’
‘Spock,’ the man replied in a flat voice. ‘Thank you. I would rather leave it on.’
‘I suppose that’s not important for now. What is important is how the two of you got in here without setting off any alarms whatsoever. The building should be resounding with alarm bells by now.’
‘I’m afraid I’m not authorised to tell you how we got in,’ the shorter one said, with a smile that was still bordering on smug despite the seriousness of his situation.
Solo came over from the window, and sat down on the edge of the round table. ‘Okay. We’ll try another question. What do you know about Thrush?’
The dark one raised his eyebrow again. It seemed to be the only expression he would allow himself. He opened his mouth as if preparing to read a well-rehearsed speech.
‘The thrush. A small, rather common bird of this planet. The name includes any member of the Turdinae subfamily of songbirds, especially those of the genus Turdus, particularly those species that possess a spotted breast. I can name a number of varieties if you wish. The song thrush, the mistle-thrush, the - ’
‘We’ve heard enough,’ Illya said sharply, moving in closer. ‘We do not have time for jokes.’
‘And you’re not being very funny, either,’ Solo added.
‘I assure you, I was making no attempt at humour,’ Spock replied, fixing Solo with a gaze of the utmost solemnity.
‘Spock, I think you should let me do the talking,’ the blond one broke in quickly.
‘Perhaps our guests are nervous,’ Mr Waverly hazarded, seating himself at the table. ‘Mr Solo, would you pass me that box?’
He waved his hand at a small, rectangular box, crafted very simply but tastefully out of silver. Solo pushed it across the table to him, keeping his eyes curiously on the strangers. Waverly opened the box to reveal a row of pristine white cigarettes, and held it out to the dark one.
‘Would you care for a cigarette?’
Spock picked one of the rolls of paper out of the box and looked at it quizzically, as if he had never seen a cigarette before. He held it to his nose and sniffed it lightly.
‘This contains tobacco?’
‘It’s a cigarette, Spock,’ Kirk said, looking sideways at him. ‘You know. For smoking.’
Spock dropped the cigarette back into the box as if it were on fire.
‘This is a narcotic. A drug,’ he said, incredulity edging his voice for a brief moment. He looked at Waverly. ‘I am afraid I must decline your invitation,’ he said politely. ‘I do not wish to fill my lungs with noxious gases. I intend to live a life free of lung disease, and other drug related illnesses.’
‘We don’t smoke,’ Kirk summed up briefly. ‘Sorry.’
‘Changed your mind?’ Illya asked Spock, noticing that the man had picked up the cigarette again and was sniffing at it delicately.
‘No, I have not changed my mind. There seems to be another scent to this. I cannot quite identify it.’
‘They’re Turkish,’ Kuryakin spoke up quickly. ‘Flown in all the way from – ’
‘No.’ Spock shook his head. ‘This is an additional fragrance. It seems to be familiar to me.’ He glanced at Kirk. ‘These contain a truth drug, Captain. Tribexyanaline, developed during the early nineteen-sixties by – ’
‘All right, Spock,’ Kirk said quickly. He looked at Waverly with narrowed eyes, obviously annoyed at so nearly being tricked. ‘I see.’
‘Wait a minute.’ Solo held up his hand. ‘No one should be able to smell that.’
‘I apologise for having disproved your theory,’ Spock said simply.
‘Very well,’ Waverly said with a brief, tight nod. ‘I don’t like doing this - but since you refuse to co-operate.’ He reached into another box, and took out a syringe. ‘Mr Kuryakin, would you oblige? And please be brief - I find the whole business of drugging our guests most distasteful.’
‘Certainly, sir,’ Kuryakin nodded, putting on a grim enthusiasm for the benefit of his guests. He let a little of the serum fountain through the needle, then waited for Solo to remove the tall one’s jacket, and roll up his shirt sleeve.
‘Spock!’ Kirk began, the worry clear on his face.
‘I do not believe the wound will be large enough, sir,’ Spock said in a reassuring tone, although a hint of concern had crept onto his face.
‘Oh, it’ll be quite large enough for the truth serum to work,’ Kuryakin told him darkly.
Spock and Kirk exchanged quick glances, as if that hadn’t been what was on their minds. Spock didn’t flinch when the needle entered his skin. As the drug hit his system he relaxed a little in his chair, and his eyes clouded. He sat forward again with a jerk, then fell back, blinking and struggling against the drug. His mouth half opened, and he gasped for air. One hand began clutching at nothing, then its wild swings found the table, and gripped onto it.
‘Spock?’ Kirk asked anxiously, leaning forward.
The other men in the room looked at least as anxious as Kirk did at the man’s reaction.
‘I - feel - ’ His voice began to slur. ‘I feel a little nauseous, sir.’
‘It’s not supposed to make you sick,’ Napoleon said in a worried tone. He came round to face the man, asking quickly, ‘Tell me your full name.’
Spock looked even more ill and disorientated when he tried to focus on the man before him, but he forced his mouth to form words.
‘My name is Spock.’
‘Your full name,’ Solo said more insistently. ‘Tell it to me.’
‘I - I do not - think - you would understand the syllables,’ Spock forced out.
‘How did you get in here?’
‘I cannot tell you.’
‘It’s not working,’ Illya put in quietly. ‘He looks awful.’
For the first time some emotion seemed to crack the stranger’s façade. His eyes locked on those of his companion, perhaps with a hint of panic in them.
‘Jim, I can’t breathe...’ he began in a strangled voice, putting a hand uselessly to his throat as if to loosen a too-tight collar.
He gasped for air, wheezing as if his windpipe was collapsing in on itself. His face began to turn a frightening grey-green and he slumped further in his chair, concentrating solely on the vital task of dragging air in.
‘You’ve poisoned him!’ Kirk exclaimed. ‘My God, you’re trying to kill him!’
‘It’s not meant to do that,’ Illya said in puzzlement.
‘Well it is doing that,’ Kirk snapped.
‘Captain,’ Spock wheezed, his eyes locking with Kirk’s. ‘It’s – easing… Only - an adverse reaction to the drug.’
He made an effort to get out of his chair, and stood briefly, before pitching to his knees on the floor, retching. Kirk knelt down by him quickly, putting a hand on his back, looking away as the Vulcan vomited profusely.
‘It must be hostile to Vulcan physiology,’ he muttered very quietly, but Illya heard the whisper.
‘Mr Solo, get a doctor,’ Mr Waverly snapped. ‘Quickly. We don’t want the man to die.’
‘No!’ Spock collapsed back on the floor and leant against the chair, his face blanched and damp with sweat. ‘I will - be perfectly all right - in a moment.’ He closed his eyes for a few seconds, then got to his feet long enough to collapse back into the chair.
‘I will be fine,’ he reassured the anxious U.N.C.L.E. agents. His complexion was fast returning to normal, his breathing steadying. ‘I am ridded of the poison. There is no need for doctors.’
‘Good.’ Napoleon turned to the blond one, harshly ignoring the suffering of the other. ‘So, your friend refers to you as ‘captain’. Captain of what, I wonder?’ When he gained no response, he continued, ‘What else do you want to tell us?’
‘I don’t want to tell you anything,’ he said tautly, keeping his attention on his friend.
‘Illya,’ Napoleon beckoned, pointing at the box that contained the serum.
‘After what happened last time?’ Kuryakin asked doubtfully.
‘He happened to be allergic to it,’ Napoleon shrugged. ‘We know the drug works. We’ve used it hundreds of times.’
‘Go ahead, Mr Kuryakin,’ Waverly nodded, sitting calmly in his chair.
The small Russian took a new syringe, and skilfully injected the drug into Kirk’s arm. The man’s eyes clouded, and he slumped back. The expressionless one was still struggling for composure after his reaction to the drug, but Illya decided he was also beginning to look worried.
‘Does what he might say scare you?’ he asked.
‘The emotion of fear is alien to me,’ Spock said flatly.
‘Yes,’ Illya nodded. ‘I thought it might be.’ He looked at Waverly. ‘Sir, may I ask some questions?’
‘By all means, Mr Kuryakin.’
‘Thank you, sir. Now, Kirk. Captain James Kirk, I presume?’
The man began to look drunk. ‘I am Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise,’ he said semi-automatically, then he grinned, ‘We come in peace.’
Kuryakin flicked a startled glance at Solo. It was unusual for the drug to produce delusions instead of the straight truth. ‘What about your friend?’
The dark one looked even more worried, but made no move.
‘Commander Spock, my First Officer and Science Officer. He’s a very good First Officer and Science Officer. He’s my best friend.’
‘Yes, I’m sure he is.’
‘Yes. I’ve got that now. Now, tell me about Thrush.’
‘S’a bird. Tweet, tweet.’
Illya sighed. ‘Mr Kirk, why did you say that your friend’s physiology couldn’t take the truth serum?’
‘It was poisoning him.’
‘Is his physiology different to yours?’
‘Yes. Very different. Bones always says his heart’s where his liver should be. He’s my friend too.’ His voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, and he leant nearer Kuryakin. ‘I’ll tell you something else as well. His blood’s green – green like the trees...’
‘I’m sure it is,’ Illya said dryly. ‘Mr Kirk, has Thrush found a way to use genetic engineering to create super-humans? A breed of men called Vulcans, who are genetically created to be stronger and more intelligent than the average man?’
Kirk shook his head. ‘Spock doesn’t breed. He’s a Vulcan. He’s got another seven years to – ’
‘Captain,’ Spock broke in, looking more embarrassed than worried now.
‘You’re my best friend, Spock,’ Kirk smiled sweetly.
‘Is your friend one of these super-humans?’ Illya asked.
‘Oh, no, no, no. He’s super-Vulcan.’
‘Do you work for an organisation named Thrush?’
‘I’ve never heard of Thrush.’
Illya sat back, almost defeated. Nothing seemed to be gleaning the expected answers.
‘Let’s try some simple questions,’ he began again. ‘When and where were you born, Mr Kirk?’
‘March 22nd, 2233. Riverside, Iowa, USA, Earth.’
‘March 22nd, 2233. Riverside, Iowa, U - ‘
‘2233 was the time? You mean half past ten? What year?’
‘The thirty-third year of the twenty-third century, silly,’ Kirk giggled. Spock winced visibly. ‘In the United Federation of Planets. I’m not a Klingon.’
‘Mr Kuryakin,’ Spock said in a level voice. ‘I do not believe it will be necessary for you to continue questioning. I will tell you all that you need to know.’
‘Is that a promise?’ Kuryakin asked darkly.
‘I do not lie.’
‘Okay.’ Kuryakin cracked open a capsule, and held it under Kirk’s nose. He blinked, then opened his eyes wide, coughing.
‘What was that?’ Then he looked around him. ‘Spock, what did I tell them?’
‘You seemed somewhat inebriated. You told them your correct date of birth. I have agreed that we must tell them something of our presence here.’
‘You did right.,’ Kirk nodded, still looking a little spaced out. ‘You may as well take off your hat, Spock.’
The man nodded, and solemnly pulled the woollen hat off his head, revealing two gracefully pointed ears, level with eyebrows that climbed up towards his fringe instead of curving over his eyes.
‘I don’t see the point in making someone look like an overgrown pixie,’ Napoleon muttered. ‘But it must have been good plastic surgery.
Spock raised an offended eyebrow, and Kirk’s eyes narrowed.
‘I don’t think I like you talking about my very good friend like that,’ he muttered, then his face creased as he tried hard to shake off the influence of the drug again.
‘I assure you my ears are my own,’ Spock said firmly.
At that moment, the same hum that Napoleon had heard in the toilets built again, and a figure materialised in a sparkle of gold. He was wearing a fitting blue top and tight black trousers, and looked as if he had appeared from one of the more off the wall jazz venues in Greenwich Village. An alarm whooped on – and was quickly silenced as Waverly calmly touched a button on the round table.
Napoleon stared, trying to work out whether he was going crazy, or whether a man really had just materialised from thin air in the very centre of U.N.C.L.E. Command.
‘Oh, Bones,’ Kirk sighed, pressing his hand over his eyes as if he wished the figure would go away. ‘You do pick the worst times for your medical exams.’
This man was slightly older, his face lined with worry. He started forward, looking about in bewilderment.
‘Where in blazes am I?’ he asked in a rough, angry voice.
‘I think you have rather a lot to explain to us,’ Waverly said seriously.