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The Utopia Affair - McDaniel David

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The older man dipped into a manila envelope and spread its contents on the table. "Here is a full set of identification showing him with close-cropped hair and a short beard to disguise the jaw line. His references are excellent—he recently left the Cunard Lines, where he was a cabin steward—and he has been hired by Utopia to begin work for them on the first of November, next Wednesday. This will give him time to fly to Melbourne, become this man, and take the private flight into Utopia the following day. Mr. Waverly will be unguarded only thirty-six hours, and I am more than willing to concede him the ability to take care of himself for that long."

Napoleon looked over the material presented, then glanced up. "You and Mr. Kuryakin have worked together on this. Why didn't you give me a little warning?"

"You were not in charge, and only the acting commander could act to approve our plans."

Napoleon shrugged. "Illya's outside, I suppose," he said towards the intercom. "Send him in too."

The Russian agent, one large suitcase in his hand, came in as Solo said, "There's a communications blanket over everything for the next ten minutes. Are you ready to leave in thirty seconds?"

"I'm ready as I stand."

Solo rose and motioned the head of Section Six towards the door. As it zipped shut behind him, Napoleon addressed his friend. "The radio silence has Thrush on the boil by this time. They'll be ready around every exit, watching like hawks."

Illya nodded and Napoleon continued. "You know that business about being sworn to absolute secrecy?"


"Consider it all said and agreed to. Step outside for a count of twenty and then come back in. Don't say a word to anyone outside."

Illya's eyebrows canted slightly, but he went without a word. Napoleon slipped the electronic lock so he could get back in with the security circuit activated, then stood and spoke as before, in a relaxed conversational tone, the magic words, "Napoleon Solo." The picture opened.

A moment later Illya stepped back into the room, allowing the latch to drop as the door closed. He made no comment, but studied the newly-revealed view intently.

Napoleon spoke briskly. "The elevator will deposit you at the end of a tunnel. Follow it and you'll come out in a subway. Turn right and you'll have a short walk to the station at Fifty-Third and Third. Put on the coveralls you'll find in the elevator, though I doubt you'll meet anyone at ten o'clock on a Sunday morning. Take a taxi up Third to the Pan-Am heliport and you'll be on your way."

"Fine." Illya stepped carefully up onto the couch and squeezed himself and his suitcase into the tiny elevator. "I may even get there ahead of Mr. Waverly. Oh, and Napoleon—good luck."

Solo grinned. "Have fun on your vacation. I'll bet you gain ten pounds."

Illya grimaced. "That's what I'm afraid of. I'll bet you lose ten."

Solo raised his hand in farewell as the picture swung closed, and saw Illya's free hand lift in answer.

For several seconds he studied the line where the picture met the wall, then glanced up at the master clock. Well, at least he could have five minutes and thirty seconds in which to collect his thoughts and prepare to deal with the next six weeks. He crossed the oddly silent room and sat gingerly in the large leather chair, then bounced experimentally a couple of times before reaching for the humidor.

Chapter 2

"Let's Wait And See How You Work Out."

SUNDAY WAS comparatively easy. After handling the flush of calls which followed Waverly's pre-recorded announcement that while he was on vacation everything would be handled by Napoleon Solo, Acting Chief of U.N.C.L.E. North America, there were only a few matters which demanded his attention. During his free minutes Miss Williamson instructed him in several subjects Waverly had passed over. Routine handling of daily reports from dozens of sources would occupy a fair percentage of his time; there were fifty or sixty such, averaging about fifteen hundred words each. Napoleon began to appreciate the benefits of the speed-reading training he had been put through a few years ago; no one who read less than a thousand words a minute could hope to keep up with the constant flow of data through this office.

She showed him Waverly's personal shorthand coding on the priority file and drew up a sheet of notes for him to learn. She taught him the pink copy goes into this slot, the blue copy belongs here, and the rest of them come to me. She completed his check-out on the controls—teletyped printouts, audio translations, tracking data, records access, video pickups and intercom— and made two pots of strong sweet tea during the day. From time to time she came up with something else to startle him.

"Monthly report from Section A, Philadelphia, sir. Did he tell you about Section A?"

"I don't believe so..."

"It's a pet project of his. We've been recruiting out of high schools for some time; Section A is a loose-knit string of inactive agents in the mid-teen range. Sleepers, essentially, doing nothing but watching until we have further training, or an immediate need. Local Section Heads file routine reports on observations and recruitment once a month. This one is from Tern Harris, in Philadelphia."

"A kid?" said Napoleon blankly.

"No younger than many Thrush has used in the field, as you may recall. Besides, Mr. Waverly believes in spotting talent early and developing it. Why, we had our eye on you before you went into the Army, even if you weren't approached until you left college." She smiled. "Or didn't you know that?"

Napoleon studied her appraisingly. "Just how long have you been here, anyway?"

"Only four years, but I learned everything the girl before me knew." She gave him a meaningful look with a little smile under it. "Everything."

The communicator panel chimed and he swung to answer it. A field agent in Haiti reported completion of his assignment while Napoleon's brain raced to remember what it had been. There'd been a newspaper publisher, suspected of either fascist or Communist leanings but necessary to the communications of the island.

He glanced at the big backlighted map display; no trouble in the area. The agent could fly home directly.

Having prepared an answer, Napoleon was surprised to be told, "The people are satisfied to leave him alone now, but they won't let me leave. I'm holed up in a hotel room and there are about fifty guys out in the lobby." "Mr. Rothschild, how did you get them after your

"Uh—can I try to explain later, sir? It's sort of complicated.'

"I see. We can't send an army to get you out," Napoleon said as he considered the situation. "Have you seen the bellhop?"

"Huh? Sure. He brought my lunch."

"Is he anywhere near your size?"

There was a pause from Haiti. "Uh-huh. I call him, put him to sleep, and sneak out in his uniform. I'll give it a shot. If it doesn't work, there's always the laundry chute. Ta."

Napoleon broke the connection. "What do you mean, everything?"

"Just about everything. Like the business with the belly dancer from that little Greek place over on Eighth Avenue in the Twenties. That little escapade isn't even in your personal file, you'll probably be relieved to know."

Solo's eyebrows crept up towards his hairline. "You're referring to an old and slanderous rumor."

"I'm referring to a well-established fact."

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