The Homeland Affair

Act II: "There's More To You Than Meets The Eye, Mr. Haverstock."

The passengers had all been rounded up outside the jet. As they were led away, Illya saw that the jet had slid sideways off the end of the runway; one wheel was off in the dirt, and the plane was tilted at a grotesque angle. Smoke rose from various sections.

They were herded into an open hanger, which was very cold inside. The captain the first officer kept everyone together. Illya kept an eye on the man and was impressed by his leadership ability. He tasked the crew with counting the passengers and separating those that were injured. He got into the face of the military men right away, demanding water, food and blankets, showing the Russians that he was someone to contend with and was definitely in charge. Illya was happy to have him take the attention of the guards.

The agent managed to keep away from the crew for quite awhile. He wasn't ready to be separated into a smaller group yet. Scanning each of the uniformed personnel carefully he concluded that he didn't know any of them, and that none of them held any upper rank. The officer in charge hadn't shown his face yet, and was probably supervising the search of the jet itself.

He was busy inventorying the equipment in the hanger when someone lightly took his elbow from behind. He fought down the urge to respond automatically and instead, turned slowly and found himself looking right into the face of a middle-aged woman.

"Here, young man. Let me help you." She directed him to the infirmary area with a determined pull on his arm. "You probably don't even know you're hurt. Here," she pulled a tissue from her cardigan pocket and daubed his forehead. It came away bloody. "Take this and hold it on your head." She stuffed the tissue in Illya's right hand and guided it to the injury. "There you go. I see you hurt your arm, too. Sit over here."

Illya felt like he was getting the bum's rush, but didn't fight back. That might raise more attention than he wanted. The woman made him sit next to a set of Japanese youngsters, obviously twins, that had scrapes on their arms.

"My name is Trudy, and I am a retired Navy nurse. Let me see your hand." She reached for his left arm.

"No, no, I think I'm alright, really. There's other people hurt worse than I am. OUCH!" Trudy had pressed a spot just above the wrist that showed a suspicious lump.

Trudy snorted. "I don't think so. It's broken, I'm sure." She positioned his arm against his abdomen. "Hold it there. I'll see about a splint and a sling."

Illya, one hand holding the tissue on his head and the other pressed against his stomach didn't argue so she would leave. After she left, he felt the eyes of the twins staring at him. "It's not as bad as it looks," he said to the children, slightly exasperated. When they didn't respond, he repeated it in Japanese and they smiled and nodded. His talking made him aware of his accent, and he quickly concocted a cover story.

Trudy came back with sections of cloth and a rolled magazine. "Well, this will have to do," she said. "I've been stuck with less to work with." She placed the rolled magazine as the splint and wound one cloth firmly around the forearm and wrist until it was rigid, then made a sling with another cloth. Then she wrapped his head. A bloody spot immediately bloomed into sight. "Head wounds always bleed like crazy. It'll stop."

"You are very good," Illya finally said. "Thank you."

Trudy squinted her eyes at him. "I can't place the accent. German?"

Illya tried to smile pleasantly. "No. Dutch. Armaand Haverstock." He offered his right hand. "Nice to meet you."

Trudy's wrinkled face brightened slightly with a smile. "Trudy Kidd. Nice to meet you." She shook his hand briefly. "And you were correct, Mr. Haverstock, you aren't the worst injured. So if you'll excuse me," she got up to go.

"Certainly," he said amicably, and she walked away. Illya let out a relieved breath, and continued to scan the hanger. He also made a mental list of the armaments tucked away by habit on his person. His gun was wrapped in his jacket and stashed in the overhead luggage compartment of the jet; another problem when they found it. He knew approximately where in Russia he was. If he could only slip away…

Some action at one of the hanger entries caught the agent's attention. The guards snapped to attention as a superior officer entered. It had been a couple of hours since the jet had touched down, so Illya figured they had finished their preliminary search of the aircraft. He edged closer, without appearing to do so, hoping to get close enough to overhear.

He saw the officer gesturing and talking, and Illya made out something about sorting the group. He saw some papers in the man's hand and wondered if there was a printed passenger manifest on board. The papers were handed off to a guard, who then cleared his throat.

"When I call your name," he said with a thick accent, "Please move over there." He pointed to an empty corner of the hanger. He raised the list and started reading. It was alphabetical. Illya watched as each person stood when they were called and moved to the indicated corner. There, the person's identifying papers were then taken from them, and they were again separated by nationality.

When the officer came to the name 'J. Clark', there was no response. Illya saw his chance and stepped forward, past the puzzled face of Trudy, who remained silent.

"Mr. Clark, please give me your identification," the guard asked, clearly bored.

"I don't have any." Illya replied. "It's all in my luggage on the plane."

The guard raised his eyebrows.

"And my name is Haverstock. I took Mr. Clark's place on the flight today."

The guard was now perplexed. "No papers at all?"

"No, none with me. If I could go back on the jet…"

"No, I don't think so. Go over there for now." The guard pointed to another spot, separate from the rest.

When the list was complete, there were fifteen others with Illya who all claimed to have identification on the jet. As the other groups were moved out of the hanger, Illya could just see out the hanger door. He saw the groups escorted across the tarmac to another building.

The jet captain voiced loud complaints about everyone being separated, insisting that they all be kept together. The guards and ranking officer were kept busy trying to placate him, and finally Illya heard him get threatened with arrest. The pilot backed off, and Illya was relieved. The sooner they were out of this hanger and away from such direct scrutiny, the better for him to escape.

A small electric cart came into the hanger, loaded with purses, papers and jackets. One by one, each remaining passenger was allowed to find his personal belongings and identification, then moved out. Illya was the last to approach the depleted pile. There were just a few guards left, and the ranking officer had already departed.

Illya pawed through the items. "My jacket is not here."

The guards looked at each other. One said in Russian, "Now what?"

The other replied in kind. "Don't ask me. He probably needs to be detained alone. Some items did burn in the plane."

"And there was that gun they found in that coat." They glanced at Illya, sizing him up.

"He doesn't look like he would even know how to hold a gun!" They both snorted a short laugh at that one.

"Yeah, maybe he's a hired killer!" Again, quiet laughter between them.

Illya understood everything, but kept his face passive. So far, so good.

"Let's put him in the briefing room. The Captain can figure out what to do with him."

Illya acted surprised when they took his arm and lead him off. Outside, he glanced around. The only security he saw was a wobbly chain link fence around the base. The perimeter guards must be watching the passengers, he thought as he gauged which way he would be the best way to escape. The bite of the wind reminded him of his lack of supplies, especially a coat. Maybe the briefing room would yield something.

The guards lead him through an entry door, which entered a hall lined with doors. Guards were outside several of the doors and Illya presumed that's where the passengers were being held. The guards pushed him into a small room and shut the door.

His hopes dropped. There were some tables and a bookcase but that was about it. He went to the small window to gauge his distance from the perimeter fence, and noticed two men just meeting outside; they looked furtively around as if they wanted to be alone. Illya noticed a smaller building behind them, which was topped with numerous antennas and radio dishes. His hopes perked up again; he felt along the hem at the bottom of his shirt and dislodged a lump, producing an ear piece with a box-like device attached. His left fingers didn't work very well, and he fumbled to press the box to the window. Now he could hear most of what they were saying.

"I don't like this. How did he find out about the device? I can't let him have it, understand? It was my way out of here! Is he taking the navigational tapes from the jet? There should be evidence on there! We have to move fast. Tell the Thrush contact that I need to meet this afternoon. If they want the device, they have to get it and me, out of here before the General!"

"Yes, yes, I will. Moving the timetable up should not be a problem. I will notify…"

The rattling of the door knob made Illya jump and palm the device just as the door swung open. The guard's Captain entered, alone, and the door was closed behind him. The two men regarded each other suspiciously.

"So, Mr. Clark, tell me .." the Officer started.

"I am not Clark," Illya corrected. "My name is Haverstock. Armaand Haverstock. I'm a salesman in the same company as Mr. Clark."

"So I am told," the Captain said slowly. "And you are Norwegian?"

"No," Illya said slowly, knowing the man was trying to trap him. "Dutch."

"Pardon my mistake," he said again, studying Illya. "You have no identification?"

"I did on the plane. I don't know where it is now."

The Captain walked slowly around Illya, sizing him up. Illya tried to look innocent, and held up his arm. "This arm hurts. Do you have some aspirin or something?" The Captain replied in Russian. Illya looked perplexed. "What? I don't understand..." The man then replied in Dutch. Illya smiled, and replied in same. "Thank you. You speak Dutch very well."

"I don't speak very much of it though," he replied in accented English again. "There were several names on the list with no one claiming them," the Captain said.

Illya waited, looking polite.

"Three looked Russian. We are checking them now."

Wonderful! Thought Illya, not letting his expression give him away. I've got to get moving. I don't know where this fellow stands in his politics and I can't take any chances. "I hope you find them," he replied politely. "Meanwhile, I think I need to rest. Between the shock of the landing and my arm, I don't feel very well. May I lie down in here?" He indicated the floor.

The officer cocked his head as if making a decision about this man in front of him. "Of course. I will notify your government that you are otherwise unharmed." And he turned on his heel and left the room.

Illya immediately zeroed in on the window and got to work. He didn't have much time. His communication pen was on the jet with his gun, and combined with the conversation he just overheard, the communication building out there was a tempting target. The latch on the window yielded easily, and he pushed it open. It was a tight fit, but he managed to squeeze through and drop to the near-frozen ground. His arm throbbed painfully, but he pushed the pain aside and ran to the communication building.

There were no guards on this side of the building. Illya knew they had plenty to keep them occupied, and carefully examined the target building. A survey through the windows revealed a less than skeleton crew inside. In fact, the only person inside was the man he saw earlier, who was hunched over a console and working fervently. Illya assumed he was trying to disconnect whatever it was that Thrush wanted, and the agent saw an opportunity.

He went around and quietly entered via the door and used one of the numerous consoles as cover. The man was swearing in Russian, mumbling about a lack of proper tools. It was quiet for a moment, then the man rushed by Illya and out the door. Now was the time.

The agent reached the console that was left open and peeked in. Recognizing radar emitters and tracking devices, he at first missed the small, green box attached to the assembly. Illya cocked his head, thinking, but couldn't figure what it was for. He finally realized it was a small power amplification device, and visually traced it to the radar tracking hardware, but still couldn't figure out what it did. Standing up, he found a log on the table and flipped through the last few pages. They were power readings, mixed with range and distance numbers, but something wasn't quite right. Illya slipped the logbook inside his shirt, holding it firm against his skin with his slinged arm.

Next, he made for a radio and dialed in the frequency for the Sapporo U.N.C.L.E. office. He dashed off a message in code, indicating he was following up a Thrush lead on an unknown radar device. Keeping it very short and not waiting for a response, he reset the frequency and exited the building. The quiet indicated that he wasn't missed from his holding room yet, and he took a moment to extract another device from the hem of his shirt, affixing it to the window of the radio room, directly across from his holding room. Then, he made his way between the buildings and climbed into the holding room.

He was just settling down again when the door to his room rattled and creaked open, letting in the Russian Captain. Illya tried to look like he was roused from sleep. Trudy was with the man.

"See to him." The Captain growled, then left.

"I have the painkillers you requested," Trudy said easily as the door closed. Then she moved in closer. "Captain Glenn is quite adamant about knowing where everyone is. I think our gatekeepers are getting tired of him, and will want to get us out of here soon!" She said, handing Illya some pills. "Aspirin. It's all we have right now."

Illya took them. "Thank you."

She reached over and started adjusting the sling before Illya could step away. She felt the notebook, and her eyes flicked up to his, but continued the adjustment. "There's more to you than meets the eye, Mr. Haverstock." She stated quietly.

Illya calmly regarded her with a noncommittal expression.

Trudy continued. "I saw you sneaking around outside. You're lucky I wasn't a guard."

"Yes, apparently I am lucky."

"What were you looking for? Better yet, what did you find?" she asked.

"Nothing of interest."

He held her eyes for a few seconds. Hers were skeptical, his, cool.

"Alright. If you say so." She rose to her feet. "I need to report your progress to our captain." She stopped at the door and turned, with a small grin. "I will be keeping an eye on you, though."

Illya let slip a rare smile. "I bet you will," he responded. "But I think you'll be bored."

She knocked to be let out. "Somehow, Mr. Haverstock, I doubt I will be. It's just a feeling, you know."

Then she was gone.

Illya spent his time going through the notebook page by page. The implications of what he saw worried him. There were a few things missing, and he felt those items had been left out on purpose by the man who wrote this, but he was still able to make out the purpose of the log. It was a record of trials run on a navigational altering device.

That would explain the jet's drift into Russian airspace, but didn't answer the question of who ran the tests - the Russian government or Thrush. Simple deduction of an overheard conversation made the agent believe that the inventor, possibly the man outside earlier, was a government worker trying to buy his way into Thrush. So who was this General he spoke of? How did he fit in? And where was this device, exactly?

Stuffing the notebook back in his shirt he stood up when he heard murmurs outside. Peeking out the window, he saw the man and another person go inside the building. Illya connected his ear piece and aimed it at the amplifying device he had stuck on the window outside. Now he could hear the conversation in the radio building clearly.

"I've disconnected the device, and it's ready to go. The jet outside will have to be ample proof that it works! I need to get out of here now because it's now or never. If Thrush wants it, we need to go immediately! General Asikov is just now reviewing the flight tapes, and will take them and the device when he leaves. What is your answer?"

Illya didn't hear the response. "Asikov!" he whispered out loud. "Pietor Asikov is here?" He straightened up, stunned, and began tucking away his devices. With only one working hand, it was difficult to do that with any speed, but he didn't really notice at the moment. He had to get away. Now.

Illya Kuryakin started to work the window again with new vigor. Asikov knew him from another life, his Navy life. As a KGB officer Asikov especially knew him as an enemy of the people. Illya had slipped away from him before, and he knew that the grudge was still strong. That's the way Pietor Asikov was; unfinished business annoyed him, and that's exactly what the blond agent was to the man: Unfinished business.

Illya slipped out the window knowing dusk wasn't far off and he didn't have much time. He stayed low, and ran to the fence on the other side of the communication building. Luckily, the fencing material was old, and the bottom wires were loose enough for him to wiggle under. He shivered from the cold, and made a mental calculation as to the direction of the city of Habarovsk. He needed better clothing and supplies, but first needed some distance from this place before Asikov found the passenger manifest. Deciding on a direction, he took off at a run, hoping the guards were fighting fatigue from their unplanned guard duties involving the passengers and a very long day.

He was just to the edge of the open area around the base when he heard the sound of dogs barking; many dogs, and they were coming his way. He also heard the sound of shouting men and patrol trucks leaving the base.

Illya threw himself into the dismal brush that was dotted with snow. The dimming daylight was the only thing working for him now. As he fought his way through the failing light, he saw a spot of sun on the horizon and pushed himself even harder. The dogs were much closer, and he could hear trucks on two sides of him. He found a spot close to a large boulder and ditched the notebook, and took a moment to catch his breath. His arm was throbbing, and he knew that his head was bleeding again as it was running down his cheek.

He found himself next to a dirt road, and heard trucks coming his way. Illya looked around coming up with a plan. A weak one, but it was all he had. He took off the bloody bandage from his head and tossed it onto the middle of the road, and then crouched down behind a boulder next to it. He was counting on the truck being a two-man patrol.

He was able to catch his breath before the truck came to a sliding stop at the sight of the bandage. Illya went to the back of the rock, and peeked around it. His guess was right; two of them. The driver was just stepping out, and swung his rifle around. The passenger was in front of the truck, holding the bandage and talking on a radio. Illya heard him calling for back up.

The agent tossed a rock behind the truck, and the driver swung around and walked back to the noise. When he was next to the boulder, Illya jumped out and kicked the rifle out of the man's hands. Then he chopped him with his good hand, grabbing for the rifle now hanging by a sling around the guard's neck with his broken one. His arm screamed in pain, and his fingers fumbled momentarily, but he got a grip on the muzzle and yanked it free, swinging it around to the surprised radioman in one movement. One shot took the man out. Illya turned on the driver, who was just coming around, and knocked him out with the rifle butt. He took the man's handgun as well.

He jumped in the jeep and fired it up, discarding the idea of taking the men's jackets; he didn't have time. Throwing the small truck into gear, he shot down the road, his arm and head throbbing.

The dirt road intersected with a poorly maintained, two lane road, and Illya geared up. He heard the whizz of bullets go by his head and stole a glance behind him to see two trucks in pursuit. Out of time! he thought, jamming the pedal down. He returned fire with the handgun, taking out a windshield. The damaged truck swerved dangerously, but kept on.

The road was curvy and shooting haphazard. If anyone hit anything it would be from sheer luck. Illya shot off a couple of rounds, hoping to slow them down a little more, when he entered a long, sweeping turn around a hill. When he came around the other side, he saw that the road merged with a larger one, and that his lane was blocked by at least five military trucks. He wrenched the wheel to the left, trying to cut across to the road before the roadblock. The sound of bullets hitting the side of his vehicle made him duck, and then there was a gut wrenching drop and everything went black just as he noticed the last of the golden daylight striking the meager trees tops above him.

Napoleon Solo studied the unsealed files of Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin to try and get an idea of what his partner might do. Solo knew what he was capable of, as he had seen him in action for years now, but this was unknown territory for Solo. Illya was going to have to tap every resource he could find out of this one, and something in his history may give Solo a clue as to what would be available to his friend. The files, however, were pretty meager in the pre-U.N.C.L.E. part of the Russian's life, and Solo didn't know if this was because the organization didn't have the information, or chose to keep it sealed. He suspected the former.

He also studied the terrain surrounding Habarovsk, and tried to figure out which way Illya would go. There wasn't much choice, really; south to China, north or west deeper into Russia, or east to the sea with Japan the closest ally.

So Illya will make for the coast, he thought. That's a long way, 200 miles at the least. He was going over the geography of the coast in that region when his communicator beeped.

"Solo here," he said, eyeing the maps.

"Mr. Solo, we just got word from Sapporo," Mr. Waverly's voice said without preamble. "Mr. Kuryakin has managed to get a brief message to their office. He has discovered the possibility of a Thrush operative being responsible for the course change of the jetliner. Some kind of new device, right at the base, possibly without the Russian government's knowledge."

"Did he say anything else?" Solo asked. "Any escape plans?"

"No, I'm afraid not. It was very brief, we assume to avoid detection."

"Well, I guess we know that Thrush is active in that area now."

"It would seem so, Mr. Solo. Keep me updated on your plans."

"Yes, sir. Solo out."

Replacing the slim communicator in his pocket, the dark haired agent rubbed his eyes and leaned back in his seat, the maps momentarily forgotten. He let out a sigh. "Ah, Illya, this is a game of hide and seek I wish I knew the rules to."

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