Word count: 9278
Illya and Napoleon go under cover to safe the world from a laser-welding THRUSH and where better to do it than from Maui?
This tale was originally published in U is for UNCLE #8 and I lost track of it. Hope you enjoy this little taste of Hawaiian Paradise... And my thanks to sparky955 for her beta and Google help.
Many years ago, when the Hawaiian Islands were still young, there was a god called Maui. Maui was a lover of games and jokes, innocent, but cleverly conceived, for Maui was much smarter than his other brothers. One day, Maui found his mother very distressed and sad. When asked why, she merely gestured to her damp tapa.
The sun, she cried, was so fond of sleeping, that it rushed across the sky in order to get back in bed as quickly as possible. This made the days only four or five hours long and that wasn’t enough time for her tapa to dry on the mamaki tree.
Maui thought about this for a long time before deciding on a course of action. He watched the sun and observed that it first thrust one of its sixteen leg over the rim of Haleakala, then another and this way, it moved across the sky. Maui went to the jungle and found 16 strong vines. Then in the darkness, Maui crept to the top of Haleakala and waited for the sun.
When the first leg appeared, Maui lassoed it and tied it to a wiliwili. Then he caught a second and third leg, continuing until all sixteen legs were captured and the sun was helplessly ensnared.
At first, Maui announced he planned to kill the sun with an axe, but the sun pointed out that then his mother's tapa would never dry. A point well taken, Maui decided, so he struck a bargain. The sun agreed to move slowly and Maui agreed to cut the ropes holding it prisoner. Both parties kept to their part of the agreement, but Haleakala was badly burned in the process, its land remaining brown and barren except for an occasional silversword.
Carl Viscson was well aware of the legend, yet it was not the figure of Maui lassoing the sun that came to mind as he watched the sun rise over the distant clouds, sending streams of silver light out in all directions. He didn't think about Maui's threat or his mother's wet tapa as the shadow from Haleakala spread out until it engulfed the distant island of Hawai'i. No, he had more important things on his mind than contemplating the beauty that stretched out on all sides of him. Carl Viscson had a world to destroy.
CHAPTER ONE “You only have three hours, Illya."
Napoleon Solo looked up from the magazine he was reading, then glanced down at his watch. It was just about time for the captain to announce that they were on the final approach to Oahu and the Honolulu airport.
Sure enough, the pilot's voice crackled through the loudspeaker system, adding the temperature, weather conditions and the local time to his announcement. Napoleon listened courteously for a moment before leaning over and tapping his partner on the arm.
The blond head swiveled in his direction and then pulled off the earphones.
"We are getting ready to land," Napoleon said, while looking for the end of his seat belt.
"I know, I just lost the jazz channel," Illya complained, sitting back in the seat and pushing up the closed window cover. "Still not much out there but ocean and ocean."
Napoleon fastened his seat belt. "Well, I'm sure the pilot knows where he's going."
"Don't be so sure. I ended up in Bangalore once under the same misconception," Illya said, pausing at Napoleon's glare.
“How long is our layover in Honolulu?"
Illya frowned in thought, then reached into his jacket pocket. He flipped through the sheath of tickets for a moment. "Looks like about three hours. Just enough time to buy our own weight in poorly-produced, useless souvenirs."
"Aren't we in a critical frame of mind today?"
"Comes from spending the night on a plane. You should know that by now."
Napoleon chuckled, then broke off as the stewardess approached them.
"Are you gentlemen all strapped in and ready to land?" she asked, personally checking Solo's belt.
"I'd say just about any time now," Illya murmured, checking his watch.
"A small joke on his part," Napoleon explained, his eyes never leaving the stewardess's face. "I've enjoyed our flight."
"Especially the scenery," Illya added, adjusting his tie.
"But this was a night flight. You couldn't see anything," the woman protested, a smile on her lips.
"Pay no attention to him. He's always like this when he gets up in the morning."
"I see." Another smile, then, "We hope to see you both again some time. Especially you," she directed this last sentence at Solo.
Napoleon smiled, his thoughts lingering on the slip of paper that had appeared on his dinner tray. "I imagine you will, possibly sooner than you think."
"You are really something, you know that," Illya muttered as soon as the woman was out of earshot. "How do you keep them all straight? You can't even keep your desk drawer organized."
Napoleon yawned, more to pop his ears than from fatigue. "Intense concentration and mutual respect - two things my desk drawers never inspire in me."
Illya's jacket came off the moment they stepped from the plane. "I wouldn't mind Hawai'i so much if it just was a little cooler."
"You only have three hours, Illya. Find some nice air-conditioned lounge to curl up in and you'll be fine," Napoleon said, loosening his tie. Truth be known, he didn't care much for the heat and humidity either, but he'd be damned if he'd let his partner know that. "Listen, I'm going to go freshen up a bit."
"I think I'll go try to scrounge up some coffee," Illya said, looking around for a likely spot.
"Okay, I'll meet you back here in fifteen minutes." Napoleon watched his partner walk away before he headed for the men's room.
Ten minutes later, shaved and washed, Napoleon felt at least semi-respectable. He'd have preferred a shower and a change of clothes, but that would have to wait another 14 hours until they landed in New York. He walked back into the hallway and glanced around for Illya. Not immediately spotting the Russian, Napoleon bought a paper and wandered over to a chair. He settled into it and turned to the business section.
After fifteen long minutes, Napoleon tossed the paper aside and stood. It wasn't like Illya to not be punctual...unless. Unless something or someone detained him. Napoleon looked around carefully, his eyes scanning everything and everyone in the immediate vicinity, but no alarms went off. No one's face looked familiar or even suspicious. Maybe Illya had just found a cute little stewardess of his own.
"Mr. Solo?" whispered a voice behind him and Napoleon's muscles tensed, ready for battle.
"Who wants to know?" Napoleon turned slowly, not letting surprise and concern show on his face as he took in the large bulk of the Samoan who stood there.
"You will come with me, please." The man's voice was soft, as if struggling its way free of its host's huge body had somehow quieted it.
"I don't think so."
"Mr. Kuryakin was very... reasonable about it." The man patted a bulge in his pocket firmly.
Napoleon considered his options for a moment, then decided not to press matters. "Since you put it that way, lead on."
He walked through the hallways of the airport, all too conscious of the man looming threateningly behind him. There was always the possibility of losing him as they approached the main overseas terminal. That spot always was a conglomerate of confusion, haste and panic. Still, the fact that the man had Illya and might retaliate against him kept Napoleon check.
By the time they reached the curb, Napoleon was ready for some action, anything. At least, he was until he saw the car parked at the curb and Illya sitting on the hood, reading the Honolulu Advisor.
Mouth agape with surprise, Napoleon just stared at him until the blond head bobbed up and saw him.
"Hello, Napoleon, has Keoni given you the bad news?" Illya asked, sliding off the hood and walking up to the pair.
"No, not yet," Keoni said with a grin. "I was having a little fun first." The huge man suddenly snapped his fingers and pulled a slightly bent eclair from his pocket, then tossed it to Kuryakin.
"What did you do with this? It's all smashed."
"Used it as a lethal weapon," Napoleon answered, now scowling at his partner. "Would someone tell me what's going on?"
"Keoni Smith, Pearl City UNCLE." A large, tattooed hand was offered. "Welcome to Honolulu."
"You could have saved us a large amount of trouble if you'd simply introduced yourself at the beginning." Napoleon walked up to the car and opened the front passenger door.
"I agree. This was Mr. Kuryakin’s suggestion." Keoni pulled out a set of keys and walked around to the other side of the car as Solo was climbing in.
"I should have guessed." Napoleon glared as Illya got into the back seat and pulled off his tie.
"We're in Paradise, Napoleon. Like Adam and Eve, I was tempted."
"You call me a snake, man," Keoni warned, "and you'll be breathing out your ear."
"A point well taken," Napoleon agreed, then looked out at the traffic. "Speaking of being taken, where are we going?"
"Downtown. My boss wants to talk to you guys." Keoni looked over his shoulder at the oncoming cars and then over at the pair of mainland UNCLE agents. "I'm sorry about that. It was nice knowing you."
CHAPTER TWO "It gets worse."
It never ceased to amaze Napoleon Solo how every UNCLE office looked the same. Once you were past the front business, in this case a booth selling oysters with pearls in them, everything was identical to that of the New York office. Same barren, steel-lined corridors, same white tile floors. Napoleon wondered if he turned the appropriate corners, would he end up in his own office.
The trio paused before a door and Napoleon took the opportunity to check his jacket. Illya watched him, curious, his own tie already stuffed into a jacket pocket and that article of clothing draped over his arm.
"It wouldn't hurt you to put your tie back on," Solo admonished softly. "After all, this is the Section One of this office."
"It wouldn't help either," Keoni intoned. "This guy is an animal, I tell you, an animal."
The door slid open and Napoleon found his stomach tightening with apprehension. He'd not heard much about this Section 1 and he was just a little concerned.
The room was similar to that of Mr. Waverly's, with the exception of the potted palms and paintings from local artists. Behind a desk was a man, bedecked in a loud aloha shirt, tossing macadamia nuts into the air and deftly catching them in his mouth, all the while, talking on the phone.
"Not to worry, I'll take good care of them, Alika. And give my best to your wife. Aloha." He cradled the phone and stood up. At most, the Section One was five feet tall. "Aloha guys, welcome to Paradise."
"An animal?" Napoleon asked of a grinning Keoni.
"Yeah, a real popoki."
"Pussy cat." Keoni slapped Napoleon's shoulder, sending the man practically to his knees. He tried a similar move on Illya, but the Russian held up a protective forearm. Keoni simply laughed and looked over at the desk. "Gentleman, Liwai Nahola, our fearless leader here on the island."
Nahola leaned forward and talked into an intercom. "Kilia, could you bring us some coffee, please?" Then he walked around the desk, his hand outstretched. "It's good to finally get to meet the Holmes and Watson of UNCLE."
Napoleon accepted the hand, grinning at the man, "I'm afraid to ask which of us is which."
"I like you already, Mr. Solo; you have a sense of humor."
"Working with Illya, that's a necessity," Napoleon said, as his partner stepped forward to shake Nahola's hand and scowl over at Solo. Apparently unconcerned or unaware of it, Napoleon kept his attention on the Section One.
Nahola pumped the Russian's hand enthusiastically and then gestured to the table. "If you gentlemen would like to join me...?"
Immediately, all three men took their places and Nahola walked back to his desk, just as the door opened and a woman wearing a brightly colored mu’u mu’u entered, carrying a tray.
Nahola smiled and met her halfway, taking the laden tray from her. "Mahalo, Kilia." The woman smiled and looked over at the trio already seated. Her smile warmed at the Samoan and Keoni grinned back.
Kilia walked gracefully from the room and Keoni leaned over towards Solo, as Nahola placed the tray before them.
"Beautiful, huh?" Keoni started to cut a piece of the pineapple-macadamia nut cake that had accompanied the coffee.
"Gorgeous," Napoleon agreed, with a smile.
"She's my fiancée. Any man who touches her, I break into little pieces." He passed a plate over to Napoleon, then Illya as coffee cups were set before them.
That task completed, Nahola settled back at his desk, sipping at his coffee. "How much do either of you Mainlanders know about the island of Maui?"
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders and looked over at Illya. The blond toyed with the piece of cake in front of him for a moment, then replied.
"Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands and was named after a god, I believe. Maui's last reigning king, partially through strategic location, gained control over all the other islands, except for Hawai'i itself. In 1790, King Kamehameha finally conquered Maui's king and united the islands. Lahaina was a very popular stop for the whaling and cargo vessels in the 1840's. This brought in considerable wealth, along with venereal disease, chicken pox and the measles, which practically devastated the Hawaiian population of all the islands. A sad repayment for the warmth and hospitality that was shown to anyone who arrived in Lahaina's port."
Napoleon sipped his coffee and listened to his partner, while watching the faces of the two Hawaiians. Whatever Waverly had told Nahola, it hadn't included Illya’s propensity for knowing a little bit about everything. Napoleon kept a smile from his face as the Russian continued.
"The island is formed by Haleakala in the East and the West Maui mountains to the west, with an isthmus joining the two. It is rapidly becoming the most travelled-to spot in the Hawaiian Islands and tourism makes up a good part of Maui's economy. Chief exports are pineapples, sugar, onions, and potatoes."
"Don't forget the pakalolo," interrupted Keoni. At Kuryakin's confused look, he amended, "Marijuana - Maui Wowie. Unfortunately, Maui's most profitable export."
"Oh," Illya said, still frowning. "I'll have to remember that. That is just about the extent of my knowledge on Maui."
"Which is considerable," Nahola remarked.
"But no more so than one of your own people," Napoleon pointed out, steepling his fingers before him. "You didn't take us off the plane for that reason."
Nahola laughed and reached for some cake. "Quite correct, Mr. Solo. There is another reason." In mid-motion, he changed direction and reached for a panel of buttons. Pressing one button, the room grew dark. Pushing a second, a movie screen came down from the ceiling and its whiteness was filled with a landscape. The land was desolate, barren of all plant life and the ground was various shades of browns and blacks.
"This is Haleakala, the House of the Sun. It is one of the most visited areas on the island. It's so tall, it even creates its own weather."
The image changed to that of several white-domed structures.
"This is what we call Science City. Several countries have telescopes and various equipment housed in those buildings, including an experimental laser that the United States military is testing."
The next slide showed a grey-haired, aged man, scowling at the camera, his expression one of angry annoyance.
"Meet your reason for being here. I believe you gentlemen know Mr. Viscson."
"He's responsible for half the scar tissue in UNCLE," Illya responded, sitting forward on his chair to study the picture more closely. "I thought he was in prison for trying to overthrow the government in Chile."
"So did we," Keoni muttered. "Until one of our agents snapped this while on a routine stake-out."
"I've never personally had to deal with the man, but from what I understand when he shows up, UNCLE agents tend to die in large numbers. This is not good news," Illya said, shaking his head.
"It gets a lot worse." Keoni leaned back in his chair, the furniture groaning in protest. "We had a permanent tail on him since taking this photo. He's been seen going into Science City. We think he's after the laser. We don't know how he's managing to bypass the security."
"You are here, gentlemen, because your boss feels that you two have the greatest chance of success against this lepo." Nahola spoke with passion. "If he were to get that laser, he could quite efficiently hold 90% of the world at gunpoint from the top of Haleakala."
"We do have a problem," Napoleon agreed, offering to pour more coffee for Keoni and Kuryakin before refilling his own cup. "Can we get in there?"
"We have been in contact with the operations manager at Science City. He has reluctantly agreed to permit you two access to the compound and we felt that two haoles would draw less attention than if we were to send, say, Keoni in. Besides, from what I understand, Mr. Kuryakin has a Ph.D. in physics, isn't that right, Mr. Kuryakin?"
"Quantum Mechanics, actually," Illya corrected, rather self-consciously.
"You'll fit in nicely there," Nahola said, as he turned the projector off and the lights on. "There is a B&B right around the corner from the turn-off to Haleakala. It is really the closest we can get you to the mountain."
"Exactly how far away is it from the turn-off?"
"Forty-six miles, 103 switchbacks and a rise of 10,000 feet. Takes nearly an hour to drive it." Nahola stood and gestured towards to the door. "We have made reservations for you at a local hotel, where you can freshen up and get a little rest. You'll be leaving later this afternoon on Aloha Flight 108. Keoni will see to it that you get back and forth safely."
"You aren't coming with us?" Napoleon asked as they rose.
"Too obvious. But if you need anything, just whistle."
CHAPTER THREE "May THRUSH be wary."
Illya looked up from the map he was reading to study the surroundings. "Okay, there's the turn-off for 378. Kamehameiki Road should be right around this corner."
Obligingly, Napoleon slowed the rental car, while keeping an eye out for any road signs. Almost immediately, they were upon the turn-off and Napoleon maneuvered the car down the steep incline. "Good thing they don't get any snow here. I'd hate to drive this with ice on it."
"Left here," Illya directed, apparently ignoring of Solo's comment. "It should be at the end of this road." He pulled off his glasses and tucked them into a shirt pocket. "Probably wouldn't exist in its present state if this was anything other than a tropical climate."
Solo just smiled and eased the car over a narrow bridge and up another small incline. "Here we are," he announced with finality as he braked the vehicle, "the Kilohana B&B."
Illya tucked the map into the glove compartment and looked around. "I'd hate to think of how much this would cost back in New York. This yard must be three acres in itself."
"Me, I'd hate to mow it, no matter its cost." Napoleon climbed out of the car and rested his arms on the roof as he looked around. "We seem to be the only ones here," he said as Illya joined him.
"Hopefully it'll stay that way. The fewer people who know about us, the better."
"Did security have anything interesting to say about this Mrs. Baldwin?" Napoleon started down a cement path toward the house.
"Nothing that could be deemed a risk. She's divorced, has a daughter and likes to travel."
"Sounds like a nice normal person and wouldn't that be a welcomed change of pace." Napoleon stepped aside to permit Illya to precede him. The usual leader, it was difficult for Napoleon to not take charge. This time, however, it was Illya who was supposedly in command.
Nodding his thanks to Solo, Illya stepped up and knocked on the door. After a moment, he heard a faint voice and then, abruptly, the door swung open to reveal a smiling, middle-aged woman. She was simply dressed in jeans, a white tee shirt and a painting smock.
"Mr. Solo, Dr. Kuryakin?" she asked, holding out a paint-splattered hand.
"I am Dr. Kuryakin," Illya said, accepting the hand.
"Great, you guys showed up just in time. I could use an extra couple of hands right now. Come in, please." She stepped aside to permit them entrance to a small alcove. "If you could take your shoes off, my white carpet and I would appreciate it. Don't ask me who thought of putting white carpet in this place, but it's the next thing to go. Do either of you know anything about wallpapering?"
As she took a few steps back, standing at the foot of a stairwell, Illya leaned closer to Napoleon's ear. "Nice and normal."
"May THRUSH be wary." Napoleon wiggled his feet free from his Italian hand-tooled shoes and stood up. "I'm Mr. Solo."
"I'm Jody Baldwin. You don't look much like a secretary," Jody said, brushing a strand of sandy brown hair from her face.
"And I was expecting a little white-haired old woman who had the unmistakable smell of apple pies and chicken dumplings clinging to her skirt. I am thankful that I was so wrong." Napoleon bowed to her hand and Illya rolled his eyes as Jody blushed.
"Really, Mr. Solo," she managed finally.
"Just leave him to me," Illya interrupted in his best boss voice. "If he gets out of hand, you will let me know."
"You got it, Dr. Kuryakin...or do you prefer Mr.?"
"I prefer just Illya, if that's acceptable. Doctor makes me sound like an insufferable bore."
Napoleon smiled, then looked away as if he'd come up with a blazing retort, but had thought better of it. After all, Illya was supposed to be his boss.
Jody also apparently saw Solo's sudden shift of expression and she started up the stairs, saying, "How about if I show you your rooms first and let you change. You look like you came straight from the airport."
"Actually, we came straight from Japan, so that would be welcome," Illya said, following her. As he passed his partner, he smiled faintly, then asked, "Napoleon, will you bring the bags please?"
"Yes, sir." With the air of the oppressed, under-paid and put-upon, Napoleon returned to the atrium to put his shoes back on.
With an amused smile, Jody watched for a moment, then resumed her walk up the stairs. "I put you and Mr. Solo in the same room. I hope that's all right."
"That'll be fine."
"Here we go," Jody said, opening a door. "The bathroom is right down the hall. You two pretty much have the run of the house."
"Thank you." Illya stepped past her and looked around the room. "This will be perfect," he said as Napoleon staggered into the room with four suitcases. "You could have made two trips, you know," he murmured as Solo passed.
Napoleon muttered something under his breath and piled the suitcases onto the nearest bed.
"Well, I'll let you two get settled," murmured Jody and she edged towards the door. "Oh, I was serious about needing some help moving some furniture. Just whenever you have some time." She shut the door and Solo turned to the Russian.
"Prepare to die, Kuryakin."
"Now Napoleon, it wouldn't look good to beat up your partner or, in this case, employer." Illya backed a few steps away, a grin on his lips.
CHAPTER FOUR "I've never seen anything so barren"
Napoleon Solo tied his tie deftly as he walked down the narrow staircase and paused before a mirror its foot. He checked his hair, smoothing down a lock made rogue by the humidity of the Maui air. That taken care of, he walked through the living room and into the dining area of Baldwin House.
"Oh, hello, Mr. Solo," Jody said as she entered, carrying a tray of thickly-sliced cinnamon bread and a coffee pot. "Did you sleep well?"
"Marvelously so, thank you. You haven't perchance seen Dr. Kuryakin, have you?"
"He asked me where a good place to run was," Jody said, setting things down and arranging the silverware.
Napoleon looked over his shoulder at the front door, apparently torn between going out to go find the man or not. "I wish he wouldn't do that. You know the type, all brains, no brawn."
"He seemed to do well enough yesterday afternoon when we moved that table."
"That's because that table wasn't punching back. He had a little trouble when he defected, you see."
"Oh," Jody said, nodding. "I didn't realize."
"Well, it's no big thing, but if you see any strange people or vehicles hanging around, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know." The front door opened and Napoleon barely checked himself in time to keep from drawing his gun. Illya came in, red-faced and sweaty.
"Good morning, Napoleon," Illya said as he started up the stairs, then paused. "Napoleon, did you get those notes typed up for me yet?"
"Yes, sir." Napoleon rose and walked over to join him. "I left them on the table by the window. Let me show you."
"Thank you." Illya climbed up the stairs with Napoleon close behind. Once they were safely behind the closed door, Illya plopped back on the bed and took a deep breath. "I didn't see anything featherish out there. Went down to the junction and a short way up the road."
"I mentioned to Jody that you were likely to attract some attention of an unwanted sort and to keep her eyes open. Figured it couldn't hurt."
"You're right, as usual. I think I'm going to grab a shower and then I'll be down."
"In the meantime, I think I'll go pump Mrs. Baldwin for a little more information about Haleakala."
"Oh my God," was Solo's statement as they rounded the final hairpin turn and the crater of Haleakala stretched out before them. "It looks like a nuclear blast took place here. I've never seen anything so barren in my life."
"Try the outpost in Antarctica. It's just white instead of brown." Illya reached behind the seat for his jacket, then saw something that drew his attention. "Bicyclists? Here?"
"Maui Downhill Cruises," Solo read out loud as they passed a trailer-hauling van. "That's my kind of trip, downhill. Remember that tour back in France?"
"My legs ached for a week afterwards," Illya muttered as he pulled his jacket on and waited for Solo to park their rental car.
"You sure you're gonna need that? It looks pretty sunny out."
"Remember what Nahola said. Haleakala is high enough to make its own weather. Look at the speed of those clouds going by." Illya pointed out as white mist sped by. "You better put your coat on too."
"Yes, boss," Napoleon said, grinning at the blond. He grabbed his overcoat and climbed out, stunned as the first icy blasts of wind hit him. Immediately, he pulled on the coat and buttoned it shut. Together, and at a very brisk pace, they walked towards the observation post.
Halfway there, Illya stopped in midstride and looked over his shoulder. Likewise, Napoleon paused and glanced around at the huddled groups of shivering tourists.
"You feel it too?"
"Yeah, like we're being watched."
Carl Viscson pushed the field glasses back against his eyes until the eyepieces bit into tender skin. He squinted, trying to see what was too far to be clearly viewed with even high-powered binoculars. There was something strange about the pair of men that had just stepped into his range of vision. A little bell was jangling in his head, one that meant trouble. He studied the two for a long time before retreating to the warmth of Observatory Three. Once inside, he pulled his parka off and threw it down onto the ground with a vehemence that brought open-eyed fearful stares from nearby scientists.
Viscson ignored them and sat down at a nearby console, drumming his fingers against the desktop. Those chumps were harmless enough. It had taken little manpower to find and kidnap their loved ones, to put the fear of God into these hapless weaklings. Or should he say the fear of Viscson. Yes, he liked the sound of that. He looked down at his fingers and thought about the two men he'd just observed. Perhaps too many years with THRUSH had left him paranoid, left him seeing UNCLE agents behind every bush. So far, he'd not seen anything that had alerted him to UNCLE's presence, no men talking to rocks or pens, no cameras clicked in his direction by loud-clothed tourists. Nothing that was the least bit suspicious and that made him as suspicious as hell.
CHAPTER FIVE “That's the trouble with people over here."
The small group of men weaved their way between various pieces of equipment, the leader droning on about the pluses of working in this observatory, as opposed to those on the mainland or the neighboring island of Hawai'i. Carl Viscson paid little attention to them. The work on the laser was slow and he was anxious for his first demonstration. These scientists were boorish, dull and Viscson ached for a little action. All those long months in that Chilean prison had left him claustrophobic and nervous. And those two men nagged at the back of his mind incessantly.
"And here, Dr. Kuryakin, is the computer that will be solely responsible for controlling the laser once we have it operational."
That captured Viscson's attention immediately. What did the fool think he was doing? Viscson couldn't have been more surprised than when he turned around to lambaste the head scientist and saw the same pair of men standing before him.
"Dr. Viscson," the head scientist, a bespectacled and tired-looking man, gestured to the men. "This is Dr. Kuryakin and his assistant. They are here to make a cursory examination of the laser and its operational components. Dr. Kuryakin, this is Carl Viscson, our chief technician with the project."
Kuryakin offered his hand and Viscson took it warily. The man's handshake was brief but firm. Close up, the unsmiling visitor looked about as dangerous as a wet nurse and his assistant even less. Perhaps this morning's unease had just been his nerves claiming him.
"Dr. Kuryakin will be observing for a few days before returning to the mainland with a report for the United Nations," the head scientist continued and Viscson smiled widely, revealing white even teeth. Excellent, exactly the type of dupe he needed to deliver his demands to the world.
"Kuryakin," Viscson mused. "Isn't that Slavic?"
"Yes, how perceptive of you," Kuryakin responded, his face still unsmiling, the eyes neutral.
"So, how do you find the Hawaiian islands?" Viscson asked in Russian.
"A little hot to tell you the truth," Kuryakin responded in his mother tongue, a smile finally toying with the corners of his mouth. "Nothing like Moscow. Of course, nothing is like Moscow."
"Agreed," Viscson reverted back to English. It should have made him more relaxed, but it didn't. Maybe what he really needed was a drink. Of course, a drink and a chance to become better acquainted. "Tell me, Dr. Kuryakin, do you have plans for dinner this evening?"
"No, I don't believe that I do," the man answered with a slight smile.
"Wonderful. There's a little place down the road called the Kula Lodge. The service is marginal, but the food is excellent. Would you care to join me there?"
"Yes, we could further discuss this project of yours, this laser."
"My feelings exactly."
Illya Kuryakin hesitated outside the entrance to the Kula Lodge. He had hoped to get closer to Viscson, to become his confidant, but hadn't expected it to be so easy. It was as if Viscson was manipulating him into a yet unrevealed corner.
Napoleon was worried, especially when Illya had opted to leave his gun at home and dress in a casual but loud Hawaiian shirt. Illya was determined not to do anything that might be out of character with a scientist visiting the Hawaiian Islands for the first time. That necessitated the purchase of several tourist items, including the shirt he now wore. Unfortunately, the role also demanded that Napoleon stay home.
Illya glanced around, hoping to act like he was admiring the view before stepping into the restaurant, when, in fact, he was on the lookout for baddies, be they bodyguards or some of the local muscle. The parking lot was nearly empty except for a few rental cars and a tired-looking family. Satisfied that everything looked safe, he went into the building.
Viscson was already seated at the back of the restaurant, admiring the view from the huge bay windows. From here, one could look down the side of the mountain and onto the isthmus. It truly reminded people that they were on an island, for one could see both sides of it and beyond to the West Maui Mountains.
"I am sorry that I am late," Illya said as he slid into his chair. "I am still battling the time zones."
Viscson grinned and signaled the waiter. "Isn't it about a ten hour change?"
"Something like that. I can't really remember, and besides, that is my secretary's job. God knows I pay him enough for what little he does do." He looked up at the waiter and said, simply, "Vodka."
"Want some tonic to go with that?" the waiter asked, attempting a joke. Illya remained unsmiling.
"No, just vodka." As the waiter walked away, Illya shook his head. "That is the trouble with people over here."
"That they question everything or that they don't drink their vodka straight?"
"Both." Illya picked up a menu and glanced through the offerings. "Do you have something that you recommend?"
"If you like lamb, it is very good and is served with a homemade chutney that makes the entire dish worth it."
"Very well, then. Are you as precise and sure of your laser, Doctor?"
He was and as the evening wore on, Illya became more and more convinced that the man was setting him up for some reason, attempting to pry personal information from him. For his part, Illya played it to the hilt, watchful, distrusting and wary, but allowing information that he had a much-beloved daughter slip out. He had a feeling that it was exactly what Viscson wanted to know.
They finished and said their good-byes. As Illya walked to his car, suddenly an alarm bell jangled inside his head. Out of the shadows came a man, swift, silent and pretty dangerous looking. Illya sized him up quickly and knew he could take the man out easily, but was unsure whether he should or shouldn't.
From the restaurant door, he could see Carl Viscson watching and Illya decided on he should.
As the man drew closer, Illya spun quickly, slamming a foot into the man's midsection. The attacker doubled and Illya brought his clasped hands together down on the back of the man's neck. There came a rewarding grunt and the man went belly down on the gravel. Illya checked his watch. Hmmm, twelve seconds; he was getting slow. And Viscson was still watching.
Illya gave the man a kick in the ribs for good measure and climbed into the car. He wasn't exactly sure what sort of an impression he'd left Viscson with, but he was sure of the impression he'd left his assailant with, and for the moment, that was enough.
CHAPTER SIX “What do you want me to do?"
"You're pacing, Napoleon," Illya murmured as he looked up from his notes. "You're doing yourself and the carpet no good. Why don't you relax a little? After all, you are in Hawai'i."
Solo smirked at him and plopped into a chair, looking out at the fog-shrouded back yard of Mrs. Baldwin's B&B. "We should have heard by now."
"Give Viscson's men a chance to move. Lil knows her job." Illya spoke of the UNCLE agent that Waverly had agreed to set up as Illya's daughter. She was young, but appeared younger and therefore helpless. Illya knew she could also break six boards in half with one hand behind her back and not strain doing it. Lil could protect herself and that should keep her safe. If not that, then the dozen UNCLE agents 2ho had been secretively placed around her in France should do the trick. "All we have to do is hope that they take her to the same place that they're holding all the other kidnap victims. It would be nice if we could get them all released at once."
"And unharmed," Napoleon said, taking out his communicator and shaking it, as if hoping the action would bring it to life.
"If you're so worried, Napoleon, why don't you call Keoni and see if he's heard anything."
"Good idea, except that Keoni said he'd tear my head off if I called in again. With most men, I'd consider that a ruse; with him, I'm not so sure." Suddenly, the pen in his hand beeped and Solo jumped, nearly dropping the instrument.
"Wish I'd had a picture of that," Illya joked, attempting to underplay the tension that he too felt. He sat forward on his bed, making sure he didn't miss a word.
"Channel D, Solo here."
"Lil's been taken and we've trailed them to the outskirts of an abandoned mill in Troyes, France. Looks like there's quite a crowd in there too. I'd say Viscson is putting all his eggs into one basket. We're going to move in at dawn our time."
"Great, that gives us about half a day to play with here." Napoleon gave Illya a thumbs up, then returned to the communicator. "Be careful, Jerry, there are a lot of innocents inside."
"We're hoping to smoke the whole lot of them out. We'll keep you updated. Channel D closed."
"Now will you relax a little?" Illya asked, returning to recline upon the bed.
"It's even worse now. How do we get Viscson to move?"
"I don't know," Illya said, considering the question. "Let's go find out."
Illya walked into the main room of the observatory and over to the laser. Two guards flanked it and stepped forward as he approached.
"No one gets near this, Mr. Viscson's orders."
"I do not acknowledge Mr. Viscson's orders." The men were unmoving. "I have been sent half way across the world to examine and report on this machine. If you do not step aside, I will not be responsible for my actions."
"I'm shakin' in my boots," sneered the tallest of the pair. "We do what Mr. Viscson tells us to - period."
Illya was preparing to stress his point in an all- together too familiar way when he heard Viscson's voice behind them.
"Good, I see you men are as inflexible and stupid as usual." Viscson approached, a clipboard in one hand. "I told you to keep unauthorized people away from the laser. "Has there ever been a security guard who can think?"
"Mutually exclusive, I believe," Illya answered. "May I see the laser now?"
"Just a minute of your time, Dr. Kuryakin. I was wondering if I could discuss a couple of things with you first...in my office."
Illya listened to the man, playing the proper emotions at the proper time, anger, despair, complete dejection. His 'daughter' was everything to him, after all. He'd do anything, anything to save her. Yes, Illya admitted, to himself, anything, including something as vaudevillian as his current performance. Perhaps a career on the stage after his time in UNCLE was up...
"I trust I will not have to place guards on you to prevent you from going to the police. One false move and your daughter will be no more."
"What do you want me to do?" Illya sunk back into the chair, trying to look tired and submissive.
"Merely your job, Dr. Kuryakin. You are to examine the laser and then give a report to the United Nations. You will do exactly that, but you will then deliver my ultimatum."
"And what's that? Give me the world or I'll start slicing off little pieces of it," Illya responded, sarcastically.
"How quickly you catch on, Doctor. I wish you could give lessons to my men."
"It's impossible to teach pigs how to dance. You merely waste your time and annoy the pigs."
Viscson laughed and slapped the desk top with an open hand. "Oh, that's a good one, Doctor. I'm glad to see you've kept your sense of humor about this." He stood and motioned to the door. "And now I believe you have a laser to examine?"
"What if I were to sabotage the laser? Make it useless?"
Viscson came up behind him and pressed something cool against the back of his neck. "Then you'd become childless or perhaps I would kill the father and let the daughter live with the guilt and emptiness of being alone in the world."
The Russian watched him out of the corner of his eye. "Not entirely alone. She does have an uncle." Illya was careful not to put too much emphasis on the word, but its mere mention caused a visible reaction in Viscson. The knife or whatever Viscson held bit into his skin.
"Interesting choice of words, Dr. Kuryakin. I didn't know you had a brother."
"An entire country full of them."
"I see. You'd better not keep the laser or your daughter waiting." Viscson walked to the door and held it open as Illya exited, rubbing the back of his neck.
The two security guards were nowhere to be seen and that suited the UNCLE agent just fine. It took him just a matter of minutes to gain access and control of the computer, making him wonder just who had programmed or re-programmed the thing. Any second class computer whiz could break the password and Illya smiled, just faintly.
Carl Viscson watched the doctor for a long moment. The crack Kuryakin had made about an uncle bothered him. Since he had no affiliation with THRUSH this time out, he didn't have access to their files or their vast knowledge on UNCLE. The more he studied the blond, the less sure he became. The Russian had moved well last night, but that was certainly no indication of anything except some professional instruction. Anyone with a little money could get that...for the time being. After he started calling the shots, well, he'd have to think about that.
With a snarl, he disappeared back into his office and slammed the door behind him. His private phone jangled and he snatched it up with a vehemence that surprised himself.
"Uh..." Obviously, one of his more intelligent guard selections.
"Have you lost your tongue, man? What is it?"
"We just found Kuryakin's secretary snooping around the front gates, sir, looking for his boss. What shall we do?"
"Bring him in. The good doctor is playing ball with us now anyhow, so it shouldn't make any difference."
Solo or whatever-his-name-was was delivered to him a little shaken and dirty, but otherwise intact. "Ah, Mr. Solo, I hear you've been in places that really don't deserve your attention."
"Where's the doctor?" Napoleon demanded, pulling uselessly against the two guards that held him.
"He's fine and working away happily at the laser. It's amazing the cooperation you can get from someone when you discover what makes them tick. Remember that, Mr. Solo, and perhaps you'll be able to become something a little better in this world than someone else's slave," Viscson said, snapping his fingers. Solo was immediately released. "Go to your master, Mr. Solo. I grow tired of talking to you."
Viscson watched the man straighten out the sleeves of his jacket before walking stiffly from the room.
CHAPTER SEVEN "Burn is hell, UNCLE!"
"Is he still watching?" Illya Kuryakin didn't take his eyes off the green cursor that winked back at him.
"No, he's gone back to pacing again." Napoleon checked his watch. "Jerry should be just about ready to move anytime now. I hope he's successful."
"Jerry's got a good track record, especially when it comes to raids. If anyone can get those hostages out without spilling blood, it's him." Illya risked a glance over his shoulder at the closed office door. Viscson's shadow passed back and forth across the frosted glass of the door.
"It's not the spilling of blood that worries me as much as whether or not any of the thugs will spill the beans before we have a chance to get our hands on Viscson."
There was the sound of shattering glass and Illya glanced over at the broken window that had resulted from the chair Viscson had thrown against it. "Somehow, I don't think drawing Viscson out is going to be the problem. However, I do think a hasty retreat could work in our favor."
"A Napoleon retreat? Perish the thought!" A gun blast interrupted him. "Then and again, it takes a brave man to know when to put a little distance between him and certain death."
Illya was already out of the chair and moving, Napoleon heading in the opposite direction. There had been no discussion of plans, who would meet who where. That was part of the benefit of having worked together for so long. Each man knew what the other was likely to do in any given situation.
Napoleon slipped around the corner and looked back towards the laser. Viscson, a trail of debris littering the floor behind him, ran up to the console and began to punch buttons. The UNCLE agent wasn't exactly sure what Illya had done to the computer, but it must have been something peachy. The man spun and threw his head back, screaming, "You'll die, UNCLE!"
Somewhere, from the back of the room, Napoleon could hear Illya shouting at Viscson, but the words didn't quite make it back to Solo's location. Whatever Illya said upset Viscson and the man unleashed a round of ammunition in the Russian's direction.
Guards were starting to react and Napoleon didn't wait for any of them to take pot shots at the scientists who were cowering behind various tables and chairs. With a certain flourish, he pulled his P-38 free from its holster and took out the two nearest guards. That seemed to give the others pause. They started to retreat and this made Viscson even angrier. Instead of concentrating on bringing Illya down and improving the odds, Viscson started to fire upon his own men.
Napoleon watched, stunned, at the turn of events. Abruptly, Viscson stopped, apparently realizing that he was failing to inspire any of the remaining guards to loyalty.
"It's over, Viscson," Solo shouted. "Throw the gun down and we'll talk."
"Burn in hell, UNCLE."
A bullet cut into the wall just above his head and Napoleon ducked lower. Viscson turned and ran from the building. After a second, Solo followed, darting from side to side, just in case Viscson had the presence of mind to try and shoot him.
He didn't bother. Viscson simply climbed into a car and began to drive away, waving his gun out the window as if it were some type of railroad lantern. He weaved around a tour bus and into the parking lot of the Haleakala tourist stop.
Illya ran up to join his partner, slightly out of breath. "What is that maniac doing? He's going to kill somebody if he doesn't back off!"
"I think that's his idea, Illya." Napoleon looked frantically around. "We could take our car, but I don't think we'll have much of a chance to catch him. That road is too treacherous and he's got too much of a lead."
"Bikes," Illya shouted, pointing to a row of bikes that were being unloaded from a Maui Downhiller trailer. "We could catch him on those, or at least get close enough to slow the car down a little." Illya started in that direction.
"How, Illya?" Solo asked, trotting behind him. "His car's got a few more RPM than my legs do."
"Yeah, but remember the road. He'll have to slow down for each of those hairpin turns!" Illya had stopped in front of the van, pulling out a card from his wallet.
Napoleon stood there, staring at the bicycles a little doubtfully. It had been several years since he'd even sat on a bike, much less ridden one. “Oh well, they say you never forget,” he muttered, as he caught the helmet and gloves Illya tossed him. Pulling these on, he grabbed the nearest bike and climbed on.
And they were right. After a few shaky seconds, Solo felt like he'd been on a bike all his life as he took off after Viscson's car. He still thought it was hopeless as far as stopping Viscson, but at least it was an attempt and they could always seal off the Lihue airport and the various seaports to keep Viscson on the island until they could catch him.
They rode at full speed into the first hairpin turn and braked only slightly coming out, passing a slow moving convoy of cars coming up the mountain. Maybe they did have a chance.
Three more switchbacks and Solo caught sight of a familiar car. Their quarry had gotten caught behind a tour bus. Napoleon gave Illya a thumbs up and began to urge the bike on faster. Just as it seemed that they would catch up with the madman, the bus pulled off the narrow road to permit picture taking and Viscson stamped on the gas.
The two UNCLE agents whizzed past the bus and caught sight of Viscson's car disappearing into yet another of Haleakala's switchbacks. Napoleon chanced taking one of his hands off the brakes long enough to wipe at the sweat that covered his face. Biking, even downhill, in this weather was hot, exhausting work. He ignored his body's protests and pedaled harder.
Apparently, Viscson had spotted them, for the car began to pick up speed, a dangerous thing to do, especially with the curves and steep drop-offs that clung to the side of the road.
"I'm going to try to get close enough to get a shot off," Illya yelled as he sped past Napoleon.
"Good luck!" Napoleon braked slightly to allow the Russian plenty of room to maneuver. They came to a wider spot in the road and it looked as though Illya was going to get one chance. However, he never got it.
Abruptly, Viscson's car began to shimmy and with a crack, it barreled through a protective guardrail and floated out for a few yards before plummeting to the lava fields several hundred feet below.
Napoleon clamped down on both sets of brakes and narrowly avoided running into the back of Illya's abandoned bike. The Russian had practically jumped off it at top speed and had run to the edge of the road, staring down at the crumbled ruins of the car.
"I'm going down," he yelled over his shoulder to the approaching Solo, but a sudden explosion cut through the usual still and peaceful Haleakala air and a fireball rose in the sky.
"I don't think that will be necessary, old friend," Napoleon said, joining the Russian and shielding his eyes from the intense heat of the wreck. "He couldn't have lived through that."
"Couldn't he? He's lived through everything else."
"Not now. It's finally over, at least for him. Let's try and figure out, instead, how we're going to get back up the mountain."
Napoleon leaned over and gently shoved Alley Cat from his suitcase. With a protesting meow, the cat stretched and sauntered over to Illya's suitcase and plopped down.
"I'm sorry, Alley, but I don't think you'd like New York. It's cold in the winter," Napoleon explained to the uninterested cat.
There was a tap on the door and the pair looked up at a smiling Jody Baldwin. "Off so soon, guys?"
"I have to address a joint meeting at the UN in just three days," Illya said, sounding slightly depressed. "That is, I will, if Mr. Solo will ever get my notes ready." He dropped the lid of his suitcase, then opened it again to permit an unworried cat to disembark.
The phone rang and Jody looked over her shoulder. "I'll be right back." She scooped up the cat, talking softly to it as she hurried away.
"It would be fun to run something like this," Napoleon murmured, closing and locking his suitcase.
"I don't know."
"Think of the interesting people you'd meet."
"As opposed to the uninteresting people we meet now, you mean. And your time would never be your own."
"Is it now?" Napoleon's tone was rueful as Jody's voice interrupted him.
"Doctor, you have a call."
"I do?" Illya was puzzled. "Who would be calling me here?"
"Certain you didn't bump into any special wahines while you were out of my care?" Napoleon teased.
"That would be the only time I could and stand a chance with them." Illya tossed his suitcase onto the bed and walked quickly from the room. Napoleon used the time to check through the room one last time, making sure everything they had come with was leaving with them.
That accomplished, he pulled the airline tickets from his pocket and checked the schedule.
"Don't bother," came Illya's voice from the door. The Russian came in and sat down on the bed for a moment before plopping back to stare at the ceiling.
"Don't bother what?" Napoleon was confused.
"You can put those away. There's been a change of plans. We're not going back to New York, at least, not yet."
"Where now? Istanbul? Greece? Paris?"
"You wish. Nope, we're heading for the Waialili Swamp."
"Where's that? In Florida?"
"Nope. About half an hour in that direction." Illya pointed out the window at the ocean.
"Kauai, but first we have to stop back in to see Keoni and Mr. Nahola."
"You know, much more of this and New York is going to start looking a whole lot better to me." Napoleon tucked the airline ticket away and shook his head. "Airport? Still, it could be worse."
"Yup, we should have some tickets waiting for us and how could it be worse?”
"We could be heading for Alaska or someplace like that. At least, we won't have to worry about frostbite."
Illya thought for a moment, then smiled. "Oh, I don't know. You know what they say about there being no place like Nome."
"I can't believe you said that," Napoleon muttered. "I can't believe I didn't think of it.” His mouth broke into a grin and he gestured towards the door. "Shall we, Doctor Watson?"
“After you, my dear Sherlock."
And, again, as always, they were off.