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The Final Affair - McDaniel David

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The Final Affair
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THE FINAL AFFAIR

by

David McDaniel

==*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Note: Scanned but not fully proofread for typos.

==*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Dedicated to Sam Rolfe and Nonman Felton -for a hell of a good idea.

And to Terry Carr, without whom, etc.

FINAL AFFAIR —flyleaf

The author wishes to thank. the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, w1thout whose cooperation this series could never have been written, and to extend special thanks to agents Andante Nemo (Section 2, Number 11) and Vaughn Carazini (Section 2, Number 2) for permission to adapt from their personal files. For further information on the operations of the United Network. Command, do not contact Ace Books. Inc.

Write instead to:

U.N.C.L.E. Inner Circle HQ, Section Seven

Box 353

Malibu, California 90265

INSIDE BLURB:

IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!

The nightc!ub brawl had followed Illya into the kitchen. The biker they called Thing slammed through the swinging door behind him and roared, “Hey, Blondie ?I wanna talk to you!”.

A cycle chain, slung like a bola, tangled Illya’s ankles and he fell against a uble. He clawed the chain free and flung it straight at the grinning unshaven face of its owner. Sharp links drew blood where they slashed the hairy forearm.

Thing staggered back a step to an aluminum sink behind him, turned and gripped the edges. His tendons stood out like granite ridges until with a terrible creak and tearing sound there was a roar and a white fountain of water from ruptured plumbing IS snapped pipes belched hot and cold. He pivoted mightily and heaved the sink at Illya like a boulder.

FRONT COVER COPY:

The ultimate confrontation with Thrush in this last and greatest U.N.C.L.E. adventure by DAVID McDANIEL

BACK COVER: (2” x 3” cut of Mr. Waverly, formal portrait style, with 1/4” black border)

Caption: “Mr. Solo, we are now preparing to

strike the most damaging blow ever

delivered to the very heart of Thrush — perhaps to destroy it completely.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - An U.N.C.L.E. bug planted in Thrush Central for six weeks had given Alexander Waverly enough information to risk the most daring attack ever attempted against Thrush -the hijacking of a Satrap Terminal and its use to tap the Ultimate Computer, the brain and central nervous system of the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.

Mr. Waverly believed he had only to capture the elusive, continent-hopping, three-headed Thrush Central.

and the Hierarchy would fall.

Little did we know what incredible secrets were hidden in Banda Sea!

Darkness, and silence. The clammy smell of cold concrete.

After some indefinite time, the scrape of metal on stone and a glow of light faintly filling the arch of a yawning doorway from a descending ramo which curved upward out of sight. The dazzling spot of a hand-torch .

appeared in the opening. followed by two black-clad men. moving cautiously, each with a heavy satchel swinging by his side. They entered the large room, ceiling and end walls lost in darkness. and paused. sweeping the spot of light across a dark green wall.

One stuck a sheet of paper into the light. and a finger underscored a dimension line of the blueprint; the spot scanned leftward close to the floor. focusing on a covered heavy-duty electrica1 socket. Both men nodded. One set down his satchel and walked forward into the illuminated area. drawing a small tape-measure from his pocket.

Three full arm-spreads he measured along the base of the wall. then four feet straight up. A stethoscope unfolded from another pocket —he fitted the tips in his ears and set the cup against the wall at this point, then thumped the cement lightly with his fist in several places. shifted the cup three inches and tried it again.

Finally, with a felt marker. he marked the last spot he’d tested and stepped back, eying it speculatively. Meanwhile his partner set the torch on a folding tripod, adjusted its aim slightly, picked up both satchels and came forward into the light. He set both bags down close to the wall.

He opened one, and brought out a small electric dri11.

When the man with the stethoscope stepped back and nodded, the other reached back into his bag. He pumped a small lever on a high-energy short-life battery. releasing the activating chemicals within; he checked the cable that led to the drill 1; after a few seconds he tested the trigger.

The motor began to respond sluggishly. then revved up to a high, muffled whine. He stood. and pressed the drill to the wall at the base of the inked mark. With a brief flurry of paint. white concrete dust began to sift down.

As he began work, his partner unpacked the other satchel. In a series of numbered plastic boxes components nestled in cotton. dark plastic modules with gleaming contacts and locking dovetails grooved into matching sides.

He sat down crosslegged. unfolded a sheet of paper. and began to assemble them.

The drill took about two minutes to sin~ six inches into the wa11; the steady drone shot up in pitch as the bit punched through. Smoothly the tool was withdrawn and moved to attack another spot a foot up and to the 1eft.

In fifteen minutes six half-inch holes had been lanced around a circ1e above the mark, and a seventh in the center. He leaned away from the wall and flexed his shoulders with a sigh and the motor whined down to silence.

During this time. the other man had assembled and brought~to life an irregular block about ten by twelve by fifteen inches, with tiny neon pips which glowed briefly as his fingers moved over its surface. checking the intricate circuitry one last time and activating certain control mechanisms.

After the last hole had been sunk. he dug into the bag which held the power supply and brought out two small electric saws. He took the warm drill from the stretched arm of his partner. disconnected its cab1e and stowed it away. He drew a second cable from the bag and connected both to the saws. Then he picked up one and inserted its long heavy blade into the bottom hole. The motor vibrated to life and white dust spurted out as he started a cut diagonally up towards the next hole.

His partner breathed deeply and rubbed his right shoulder, flexed his neck, cracked his knuckles, and picked up the other saw. With in a minute there was room for him to start at the base of the slot already cut and begin working in the, other direction. The quiet stammer of the first motor faltered slightly and recovered as the second started, and white dust fountained down on both sides of the circle.

In five minutes there remained only a six-inch gap uncut at the top, and both stopped. One got out a long thin rod and thrust it through the center hole, then twisted the end until it locked, spidery legs unseen clamped against the pieces of wall from inside. He gripped the rod as the other sawed through the last support.

As the mass of concrete broke loose, he pulled, jerking it out two inches as it dropped half an inch, then working it farther out. His partner put down his saw and helped him pull it the rest of the way out. catching it as it came free and between them lowering it to the floor.

Between outer and inner walls a heavy structural brace fitted, its top level with the bottom of the hole they had cut. Some jelly from a finger-burst pod was smeared along the upper surface of the short metal beam, and the quiescent block of dark plastic was lifted into place on it, neatly centered and settled. Then the final button was touched and a small square of wire grid extended towards them on the end of a slender rod.

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