Rain pelted the cab. Windshield wipers that strove with a frantic
_swish-clunk_ to resist the onslaught intersected Napoleon Solo's
blurred view of New York's streets. At 3:22 a.m. they were
virtually deserted, and when the cabbie pulled up in front of Del
Floria's, the tailor shop's lights were the only ones in the
brownstone block still burning. His collar turned up against the
downpour, Solo paid his fare and hurried down the rain-soaked steps
to Del Floria's door. He neither heard the jangling shop bell nor
saw the night clerk waiting at the press to admit him. He moved
directly to the cloakroom and reached to turn the coathook release
"Mr. Solo, we have a Code 9, Base Cairo," the secretary's impassive
voice had said over his communicator just minutes ago. There had
been no more to the message: there would be no more until he'd
reached Waverly's office. But Solo's steps were hastened by more
than the knowledge that Code 9 meant the probable annihilation of
Cairo's U.N.C.L.E. Headquarters. He took the triangular badge from
the receptionist without seeing her, and headed for the elevators.
Illya Kuryakin was in Cairo.
Solo's eyes scanned the Section One office before he was all the
way through the door, taking in the harsh night lighting, the
shuttered window, Waverly standing at the console -- and Section
Two's Neal March seated at the round table.
"Ah, Mr. Solo." Waverly motioned him quickly to a chair and went
straight to business, adjusting some key control in front of him.
"Agent March has just returned from Cairo," he said over his
shoulder. "He was working there on a follow-up assignment with Mr.
Kuryakin, compiling a top secret list of couriers to be hand
delivered to our Prague office."
Solo exchanged glances with Neal, his eyes still clearly
questioning. Neal's offered no explanations.
"Thirty minutes ago," Waverly continued, "we received this message
at the height of a seige on our Cairo headquarters. It's from Mr.
Solo leaned forward, all vestiges of his interrupted sleep long
since banished, and frowned at the unmistakable sound of gunfire
that erupted from the tape at Waverly's fingertips. So Illya had
been in the building...
"Emergency channel A, this is Cairo." Kuryakin had had to shout
over the noise of the seige. "We are under assault... by
The voice stopped, interrupted by the sound of an explosion, then
an immediate clamor of voices and running feet. _Breaking through
the door,_ Solo thought.
Kuryakin's voice came back, quickened and breathless with urgency.
"Priority Red -- inform Solo that Chimera has--" There was a dull
thud, a moan, and the loud popping sound of someone cutting off the
circuit. Solo winced.
"I'm afraid that was all of the message," Waverly said as he
stopped the tape and turned back to them. "Several of our field
agents in the area are on their way to assess the situation more
accurately. We expect to hear from them momentarily."
Solo shifted uncomfortably in his chair, rattled by the mention of
Chimera almost as much as the knowledge that he had very probably
just overheard Illya Kuryakin's death on tape. "He can't have
meant the same Chimera, sir," he said grimly. "She died six months
ago in Buenos Aires."
"Apparently died," Neal said. "No one ever found a body, you'll
recall. Yesterday before I left Cairo, Illya thought he had a lead
on her through one of our regular informants. He was planning to
follow it up as soon as the courier list was delivered."
"Well if Chimera--" Solo scowled, and opted to drop the oil
baroness' self-appointed code name. "If Erika de Marce is still
alive, it's one of the best kept secrets in the eastern world. And
if it was her private army that leveled U.N.C.L.E. Cairo..."
"A distinct probability," Waverly agreed. "De Marce had reason
enough to hate U.N.C.L.E. We were the primary force responsible
for preventing her illegal take-over of the major middle East oil
companies. She may well plan to launch further assaults against
our eastern offices. Those plans, obviously, must be thwarted.
Chimera will have to be found, Mr. Solo. And stopped. We have no--"
The warble of the communicator signal interrupted him. Solo heard
an unfamiliar voice request overseas relay and channel D. Waverly
picked up the microphone. "Yes, Mr. Zahrin. What is your report?"
"U.N.C.L.E. Cairo is a total Code 9, sir," the voice replied. "All
personnel dead. Looks like the assault team used enough explosive
charges to knock over a small country."
Waverly pondered that. "I see. Any identification on the
"Well we have several bodies sir, but..." Zahrin paused, then said,
"The munitions appear to have come from the Osiris Construction
Firm here in Cairo."
Neal nodded knowingly. "One of Chimera's holdings."
"Sir," Zahrin's voice said timidly, "our reports indicated the
alert from Cairo HQ was sent out by Illya Kuryakin."
"That's correct. Is there a problem, Mr. Zahrin?"
"No sir. Or maybe yes. That is, we've counted at least 21 of our
people dead, but Kuryakin isn't among them. I'm calling from the
communications room, sir, and there are signs of a struggle. But
he isn't here."
Both Neal and Solo directed new attention to the overseas
conversation. Waverly's discouraging look went unnoticed.
"Mr. Zahrin, you will direct your full report through the proper
channels, please. Contact me again should you turn up anything of
With the communications channel closed, the head of U.N.C.L.E.
turned weary eyes on his chief enforcement agent. "This latest
development would seem to complicate matters somewhat," he said.
"Why?" Solo wondered out loud. "It means Illya is probably still
"Yes. And in Chimera's hands." Waverly looked at Neal and took a
seat at the table as he picked up the explanation.
"That list we were compiling contained more than just courier
names," Neal said. "There were also informants, confidential
government contacts, double agents... 73 names of vital importance
to U.N.C.L.E.'s operations on the European continent."
"Compiled and encoded on what?" Solo asked. "Microfilm?"
Neal shook his head. "We had what we thought was a safer method."
Waverly raised an eyebrow at his choice of words. "It appears," he
said, "that Erika de Marce somehow had inside information regarding
that list. And that she staged the Cairo assault to obtain it --
for the purpose of destroying U.N.C.L.E. Europe."
"No doubt," Solo agreed. "And you think she can force Illya to
tell her where the list is hidden?"
Neal stared glumly at the tabletop. "She already knows where it
At Solo's confused look, Waverly said, "Eidetic, or photographic
memory is often considered more a curse than a blessing. Should
you locate your partner alive in Cairo, Mr. Solo, you shall have to
ask him. You see, Mr. Kuryakin is not simply privy to the location
of the courier list. I'm afraid he _is_ the list."
* * *
Less than 12 hours later, Napoleon Solo, Neal March and
U.N.C.L.E.'s private jet touched down on a runway fully half a
world away from New York City. Solo's first view of Cairo out the
port window proved a disappointment: he saw smoky clouds blackening
a rain-drenched horizon.
"It rains here once in a proverbial blue moon," he said to his
reflection in the glass. "You ever get the feeling the whole world
was trying to dampen your parade?"
Neal ignored the remark. Wearing a blue field jumpsuit similar to
Solo's, he was preoccupied with the adjustment of a backpack strap.
"We still don't have any idea where to find Erika de Marce -- or
Illya. They could have left the country entirely by now."
"I don't think so." Solo stared out the rain-splattered window.
"Knowing de Marce, she hasn't taken Illya far. She'd be much too
eager to get her hands on that list."
"I'd like to know how she knew about it in the first place.
Whoever the leak was--"
"--is probably dead along with the rest of the Cairo personnel."
Solo moved to the forward hatch: the plane had completed its
taxiing maneuvers and rested now at the end of a privately-arranged
runway. "Who betrayed us isn't important anymore. If Chimera
learns the identities of the people on that list--"
"She could devastate U.N.C.L.E. Northeast, I know. This lady has
one big grudge against us -- and all because we wouldn't let her
buy Europe. Lousy sportsmanship." A green light over the hatch
winked on. Solo spun the locking controls to "open," threw open
the door and tripped the control that extended the boarding ramp.
"All ashore that's going ashore," he said.
Neal gazed out at the drizzle dampening Cairo's night air. "After
you," he said. "I'll forgo priority for the sake of an adequate
Laughing, Solo preceded him down the ramp. His first step onto
Egyptian soil, however, was accompanied by the whine of an errant
bullet. "Get down!" He shouted the warning as a second shot
whanged into the metal stairs. Both of them had dropped and
scrambled for the protection of the ramp: both had drawn U.N.C.L.E.
Specials from beneath their well-equipped backpacks.
"Where are they?" Neal's voice was a whisper. "I can't see a
Another shot came at them in answer. Solo pointed with the
Special. "Just to the left of the service trucks, behind those
packing crates. Right about... there." His gun coughed twice, and
Solo was immediately rewarded by a moan and the sound of a body
crashing into the packing materials some 50 feet beyond them.
"Bingo," Neal said softly. "But I think there are two of them.
I'm sure I heard two different guns."
"So did I." Solo wiped beaded rainwater off the Special with his
sleeve. "Cover me."
While Neal pumped bullets into the shadowy pile of wooden crates,
Solo rolled under the plane ramp and came up in a running crouch,
heading for the shelter of a parked military supply truck flanking
the loading area. He slipped twice on the waterlogged asphalt,
nearly losing his grip on the Special both times, but he regained
his footing well enough to make it to the back of the truck, where
he paused and listened. Silence... punctuated by dripping rain.
Neal's barrage had ceased when he'd reached shelter. Pressed
against the truck's greasy tailgate, Solo risked a peek around the
musty-smelling canvas in time to see a bearded man in coveralls
disappearing into the forest of packing crates where his shot had
felled the first assailant. Gun in hand, he followed the figure
into the shadows, coming silently up behind him as he knelt over
his fallen comrade. The U.N.C.L.E. Special pressed itself against
a back that went instantly rigid: the man's right hand moved
instinctively toward the gun in his belt.
"Don't try it." Solo gave the Special's muzzle an emphatic shove,
and pulled the erstwhile assailant to his feet before relieving him
of a bulky Walther PPK. "All right, now turn around. Slowly."
Lettering -- in English -- on the pocket of the man's coveralls
identified him as Hassad, and the firm that employed him as Osiris.
"I want answers," Solo said over the raised threat of his gun.
"Where do I find Erika de Marce? "
Hassad opened his mouth as though to answer, but in the same
moment, the man on the ground groaned and stirred on the wet
pavement. Solo's attention was drawn away for the fraction of a
second necessary for Hassad to act: one foot came up to send the
Special flying, and Solo found himself falling backward under the
crushing force of a desperate tackle. He recovered in time to roll
with the momentum of the attack, and somersaulted Hassad over his
head into a pile of crates that splintered noisily with the impact.
By the time Solo regained his feet, Hassad had already come up
swinging. He made three solid connections to Solo's jaw before the
U.N.C.L.E. agent managed to land a doubled fist in his midsection.
Hassad yelped and doubled over. Solo hit him again, tackled him
and shoved him -- hard -- into the solid wall of concrete that
formed part of the loading dock. Hassad's skull hit the cement
with a resounding thud.
"Answers," Solo growled, shaking the coveralled shoulders until
Hassad's head came back up. "De Marce and Kuryakin -- where are
Hassad sputtered something negative. Cursing, Solo slammed him
against the wall again. "_Where?!_"
"No..." The man's voice was tremoring. "I can't. Please."
Solo hadn't noticed Neal's arrival on the scene until he'd spoken
his name. He came into view with the retrieved Special in hand.
Solo took it from him, ignoring the warning look in his eyes, and
brought its business end to rest firmly between Hassad's eyes.
Waverly might have called this exceeding the rules of fair play.
At the moment, Napoleon Solo called it expedient.
"I don't have time for amenities," he said. "Now either you're
going to answer my question or I wil,l have to very untidily
ventillate your head. Your choice."
Hassad closed his eyes tightly, as though the act somehow excused
his cowardice. "Refinery," he murmured.
Solo's fist closed tighter over his collar and dragged him away
from the wall. "Take us there," he ordered, and at Hassad's look,
he re-aimed the Special at him. "No arguments."
Still shaking, Hassad acquiesced, and headed for the military truck
like a man on the way to his own funeral.
He probably was.
* * *
It was nearly 1 a.m. in Cairo. The rain, a rarity in this part of
the world at any time of year, had given way to a dry chill wind
that buffeted the streets of the ancient city like some demon-
driven gale from a B movie. Solo hardly noticed. He sat crammed
into the truck's musty cab with his gun on Hassad, and Neal pressed
close on the other side, his mind churning with contingencies. If
de Marce remained true to form, she would not have a large battery
of troops around to call attention to her activities. The assault
force would long since have been paid off and disbanded. But
wherever she was keeping Illya, there were bound to be guards...
He looked up at the sudden slight tap of Neal's hand on his
forearm. "Don't worry," he said quietly. "We'll get him out."
The reassurance did little to ease Solo's apprehension, and it
showed. "I guess my 'professional detachment' has been slipping a
bit lately," he said. "As Illya himself is fond of pointing out,
friendship too often gets in the way of practicality."
Neal stared through the dirty window at the poorly paved road they
were lumbering over. A full moon, suspended over the highway,
showed the way for them better than the almost non-existent street
lighting. "You can't be detached all the time," he told Solo.
"You work with someone long enough, you start to care. No one can
Solo shook his head. "It isn't just Illya. There are hundreds of
lives that will ultimately be at stake. The people on that list,
then every U.N.C.L.E. office in Europe. Nothing could stop de
Marce from rampaging through the oil fields after that. She'd own
half the world..."
Neal scowled. "Well I'm all for women's suffrage. But I think
trying to conquer the world is going just a bit too far."
The truck lurched to a stop, and they found themselves looking out
at an acre of towers, fences, equipment and scaffolding, all of it
neatly outlined in high intensity light strands that cast an eerie
pinkish glow on the ground below. The place had the nightmarish
look of some hellish, sinister fairyland.
"No guards at the gate," Solo noted as they prodded a reluctant
Hassad from the cab. "Perhaps Madam Chimera wasn't expecting
visitors tonight after all."
"Mm." Neal fitted a new clip to his Special. "Come into my
parlor... Do we take Hassad with us?"
Solo decided against it. They hog-tied Hassad with the climbing
rope from Neal's backpack, gagged him, and left him in the back of
the truck. The compound gate, secured with a large lock, obliged
them to scale the fence, and when they'd dropped inside, Solo
pointed to two likely clusters of buildings some 100 yards apart
amid the refinery towers.
"Eenie meenie minee moe," he half-whispered. "Which one looks like
the best spot for an interrogation to you?"
"I prefer beating the odds. You take the one on the right. I'll
try the other one." Neal patted the communicator clipped to his
left front pocket. "If you need any help..."
He was gone before Solo could offer a comeback. He headed for the
righthand buildings, and spent 20 fruitless minutes snooping
through unoccupied offices and equipment rooms. He scaled a ladder
on the side of a smaller building behind the first one, and set
about investigating skylights set into the corrugated steel roof.
Approaching the fifth, he saw light -- and the fact that the glass
was propped open to allow air into the room below.
Soundlessly, Solo crept to the edge of the opening and lay on his
stomach to peer over. He saw a small steel-walled room, several
portable pole lights -- and a wooden table on which Illya Kuryakin
lay spreadeagled, wrists and ankles secured to the table legs by
manacles and lengths of chain. His eyes were closed.
A woman walked into Solo's line of vision then. Tall, bulky,
attired in a fastidious fawn pantsuit that clung to every bulge in
her too-large body. _Erika de Marce in the flesh,_ Solo thought
sarcastically. He watched her circle like a shark closing in on
its prey. She bent over Illya and slapped him sharply across the
"Wake up!" she demanded. Kuryakin's eyes pulled wearily open and
tried to focus on her.
"We're going to begin again," de Marce said. "Name."
In a slurred voice, Illya said, "Kuryakin."
"What year were you born? And where?"
"Nine... nineteen thirty three... Kiev."
De Marce smiled. "Excellent. That's two answers further than we
got last time. Who do you work for, Mr. Kuryakin?"
Solo never heard the answer. He'd been distracted by the sudden
touch of a gun muzzle to the side of his head, and spun to find
himself facing two burly security men from Chimera's private army.
Relieved of his weapon, communicator and backpack, he was summarily
marched down, around and into the building, finally coming face to
face with the woman who aspired to own Europe. She'd come out of
the corrugated room, and came toward him with that unwavering air
of total control she extended over everything and everyone in her
"So it's you, Mr. Solo. All alone?"
He gave her a sick smile in return. "Well Cairo was just a tad
short of backup personnel."
She nodded at one of her men. "Make sure there are no others." The
man turned sharply and left. Solo's eyes raked the partitioned
rooms inside the quonset-like building. De Marce and one guard...
Almost on top of his thought, a young man wearing a lab coat
emerged from one of the cubicles with a clipboard and a filled
hypodermic. "We're ready for the final phase," he said to de
Marce. "He's talking now. One more injection should do it."
De Marce nodded to the guard whose gun was still firmly in place
between Solo's ribs. "Bring him."
The four of them crowded into the room with the makeshift lighting.
Someone produced a chair, into which Solo was compelled to sit.
They didn't tie him. The threat of the guard's gun, he guessed,
was considered sufficient deterrent.
De Marce took her previous position near the table while Lab Coat
jabbed the hypodermic through the sleeve of Illya's shirt. He
moaned and tried to turn away from it, but the manacles prevented
"Thirty seconds," Lab Coat said, capping the hypo.
A tape recorder sat running on a small stand near the door. De
Marce, her air of triumph tangible, bent over Illya again. "The
name of the organization you work for."
Illya's eyes came open again. Speech still slow and thick, he
said, "U.N.C.L.E. The United Network--"
"I know what it stands for. Let's come to the point. Yesterday
you were compiling a list of names for U.N.C.L.E. Memorizing them.
I want those names."
Kuryakin blinked. "Names..." he repeated groggily.
"Seventy-three of them. We'll begin with the first four."
Solo held his breath, hoping against hope. But with almost no
hesitation, Illya answered, "Almington... Chinua... Marois...
The list went on, four by four, while Solo listened and wondered
whether Chimerals first security man had found Neal. The answer to
his question appeared at the skylight overhead just as Illya was
reaching the end of the long list of names. Solo saw the muzzle of
an U.N.C.L.E. Special slip through the open window and draw a bead
on the guard beside him. De Marce was pulling the tape reels from
the recorder and bundling them hastily into a satchel.
"Get rid of both of them," she told the guard. "And clean up
around here." She swept out the door mere seconds before the soft
_chuff_ of a sleep dart came from above. The guard slapped at his
thigh, then toppled. Lab Coat ran forward, but Solo's foot caught
him in the stomach, and a blow to the neck sent him sprawling on
top of the guard.
Neal dropped into the room. Solo blocked his hand before he could
reach for the first of Illya's bonds. "He'll be all right. De
Marce is getting away with the list. Come on!"
He scooped the guard's gun up off the floor and went out at a dead
run with Neal at his heels. They emerged from the building to find
the eerie fairyland as deserted as before. There was no sign of
"She can't have gone far," Solo insisted. "She only walked out a
few seconds before you--"
The sudden roar of an engine cut him off, and they both spun to
look back over the building at a small red helicopter, rapidly
rising from the rooftop beyond. Solo dropped and fired at it,
trying desperately to hit the tail rotor, the fuel tank, anything.
But by the time he'd reacted, the copter was already too high for
the shots to be effective. The noise of the blades diminished
swiftly as the machine rose, and in a moment it was gone, vanished
into Cairo's night.
Solo looked down to see Neal holding the sleep dart clip he'd been
trying to change for bullets in time to shoot at the copter. "I'd
have rescued you sooner," he said acidly. "But I had a little
altercation with one of Chimera's guards." He threw the clip down
in disgust and slapped the bullets into the gun with the palm of
his hand. "He's napping in the boiler room next door."
Solo had scarcely heard him. "Give me your communicator," he said.
"If we can reach Zahrin, maybe we can still stop her before she
gets any further with that list..."
"List," Neal repeated oddly, then at Solo's impatient gesture,
surrendered the transceiver. "I heard the end of it. What were the
names at the beginning?"
Solo frowned. "Almington, something, Marois, Veradicci. I don't
know. I don't have an eid... a photographic memory. Why?"
Neal headed back inside. "Don't call in yet. See if you can help
me find some black coffee..."
Eighty minutes and several cups of strong Egyptian coffee later,
Illya Kuryakin was coherent again. Chimera's aides had been bound
and dragged safely out of earshot.
"What other names can you remember, Napoleon?" Illya prompted.
"Try. It's important."
Exasperated, Solo shrugged. "Henderson, Belvidore. Mai Tung, I
think. Look, I don't know what you two are being so mysterious
Neal was looking pointedly at Illya. "List B?"
"List B," Illya said.
"Chimera is getting away with that list--" Solo interrupted
himself. "List B? Whatta you mean, list B?"
"Subliminal conditioning," Illya said, rubbing the back of his
neck. "You know, the process U.N.C.L.E. uses to 'program' an agent
with misinformation, to be triggered by interrogation?"
Solo scowled at the uneccessary discourse. "You mean you memorized
two lists? "
"146 names," Neal said. "But given an eidetic ability, that's no
more difficult than memorizing 73."
"Chimera will be combing Europe for 73 non-existent people," Illya
said. "And I, in the meantime, will have safely delivered the real
list to our headquarters in Prague."
"Mm," said Solo, feeling somehow cheated. "Good thing we broke in
after you'd given her all the phony names." Neal looked at him with
mock hurt. "We?"
"Yes, Napoleon," Illya said. "We must look into this unfortunate
propensity of yours for getting yourself captured and then redeemed
in the nick of time by fellow agents."
"Oh?" It was Solo's turn to look hurt. "Well listen, the next time
you need rescuing, why don't you try calling the cavalry?"
"Well I suppose you never had to--"
"Whoa!" Neal threw up a hand. "I'd let the battle of wits
continue, but I promised Mr. Waverly I'd bring you both back in one
Illya's joke about fellow rescuers notwithstanding, they both
chorused a surprised, "You what???"
Laughing, Neal turned and walked ahead of them toward the gate and
the waiting truck...
-- The End --