“How are you feeling?”
Fifteen minutes earlier
“Why does THRUSH hide a lot of their operations behind food distribution businesses?”
“Your guess is as good as mine Chum,” Napoleon answered, as they skirted along the outside wall of the Purple Valley Produce warehouse. “At least this one is fruit and vegetables; always preferable to raw meat.”
Illya found himself wondering how many legitimate businesses THRUSH were running. He made a mental note to ask Mr Waverly if a team could be set up to investigate as many food distribution centres as possible. The name ‘Purple Valley’ seemed very familiar to him.
“Illya? Are you still with me?”
“Are you ready to break into this warehouse?”
Dragging himself back to the matter at hand, Illya nodded that he was ready. He kept a look out while Napoleon placed a charge in the lock of the door. As soon as it was open, the two men stealthily entered. There didn’t seem to be a soul about, which was odd. It was the middle of the night but a small staff would still be expected in this sort of business. What was more concerning was the apparent lack of any security guards. This was a THRUSH outfit, so there should be more security than would generally be expected.
“Which way to the office?” Solo asked the other man.
Illya mentally recalled the plan of the warehouse he’d studied before the mission.
“There should be a stairway in the far corner, with the office at the top.”
Sticking to the edges, the agents made their way to, and up, the stairs without any problems. Napoleon tried the door to the office and found it opened at once. Something was beginning to feel very wrong. He turned back to Illya and raised an eyebrow. The Russian shrugged, getting the same sense of unease as Solo.
Pushing the door open, Napoleon leapt into the room. Illya waited outside, ready to back his partner up should he need it. After a few seconds, Napoleon reappeared and beckoned Illya in.
“The safe is in the corner.”
Amongst Illya’s plethora of talents, was his ability to crack a safe quickly. However, managing to open this safe in ten seconds flat surprised even him.
“That was too easy,” he muttered. “Something tells me we should not open this safe.”
Digging out a length of string from his pocket, Illya tied one end of it to the door of the safe. He then ran it around one leg of the desk to form a crude pulley, before motioning to Napoleon to join him behind some filing cabinets. Both men held their breaths as Illya slowly pulled the door open.
Creeping towards the safe, Illya cautiously peeked in. Inside, he found a clock, which was counting down, and a note. He read the contents of the note aloud.
“Dear U.N.C.L.E, so sorry to have missed you. Opening the safe has primed the explosives dotted around the building. I suggest you run.”
The agents looked at the clock. They had three minutes to get clear of the building. Illya got out of the office first and took the stairs two at a time. Napoleon was hard on his heels but somehow lost his footing. He tumbled forwards, pushing Illya down ahead of him. The Russian landed hard, striking his head as he went. It was just as well he was unconscious, or else it would have really hurt when Napoleon landed on top of him.
The American quickly scrambled up and tried to rouse his partner.
“Come on Tovarisch,” he cajoled, while patting Illya’s cheek. “I know you like a boom, but you’ll prefer it from the outside.”
A groan signalled the blond agent’s return to consciousness.
“Ow,” he moaned. “Was I in a cave-in?”
“Sorry Partner Mine, I fell on you. Can you get up?”
Illya climbed unsteadily to his feet and wobbled alarmingly. Napoleon draped his partner’s arm over his shoulder and half dragged him towards the exit. They’d just made it outside when the explosions began. They weren’t quite far enough away to avoid being showered in debris and bits of salad vegetables. When everything settled, the two men sat on the edge of the sidewalk. Throwing a lettuce leaf at his partner, Napoleon asked how he was feeling.
“How would you feel if an elephant landed on you?” The Russian grumbled.
“Are you trying to say something about my weight?” Napoleon asked, prodding at his mid-section.
“Well, you have been looking a little thicker around the middle lately,” Illya replied, as he reached for a stray carrot. “Try eating a few more of these.”