He didn't know if they were going to shoot or not. The scene was certainly set for that eventuality, he recognized the signs. Beaten and bloodied, barely able to stand, his hands were tied behind his back as he stood facing a line of men who were armed and taking aim. That seemed to be sufficient for the speculation to have some basis, and he foresaw nothing to stop it.
The colonel in charge of this squad was red faced and sweating; the heat of the jungle was suffocating when combined with the oppressive humidity. Not a man among them could complain about the odor coming off of his compadres in this stinking South American hell hole.
A bug was flying too close to him, smelling death perhaps. Maybe it was attracted to the dried blood on his face and arms, and neck and back...He hated to to think about dying looking like this. Silly thing to think about right now. His partner hadn't made it as far as this wretched camp, and when last seen was lying in the river where they had shot him and left him for dead. There wasn't any sign of him now, and it didn't look as though time was going to wait for him to show up. It was entirely possible that the run of good luck had finally come to an end. Of course, he also knew he had said that before, and the melodrama that accompanied such statements was always rewarded with a dramatic last minute rescue that defied the odds and the skeptics. But this time...
Now the show was ready to start, and he was so underdressed. He could barely hold up his head, it suddenly felt like a watermelon sitting on his shoulders. His legs were buckling from the strain of his injuries and general exhaustion. It was unlikely he could stand here much longer; this was certainly the slowest firing squad he'd ever witnessed. Oh there it goes now...the orders:
"Objetivo! Listos! Fuego!"
Just as each man was pulling his finger into position to fire, Napoleon Solo passed out cold. Down he went as bullets whistled over his falling body, confounding the fuming colonel and giving Illya Kuryakin just enough time to blow up their barracks...and their armory and the mess hall. It was a glorious explosion that nearly took out the jungle behind them, but it definitely accomplished his purpose. He swung down from a roof top that hadn't been destroyed, picking up his partner as the men in the death squad scattered as far from danger as they could run. The red faced colonel shouted orders that no one heard and then picked up a rifle and took aim at the two UNCLE agents. It was too late, though. The Russian had already taken aim at the colonel, and given his pique at having been left to die in the river, decided it was quite reasonable to dispatch the man, which he did.
Napoleon grunted his approval as his partner hitched him up with his left arm and loaded him into a conveniently idle jeep. With keys and determination the engine turned over and they were soon barreling out into the jungle along a well worn path that would take them far enough away to call for help. Illya had managed to hold on to his communicator and had alerted the Lima office as he approached the now smoldering camp. A helicopter would be on it's way, but they needed to find a spot where it could land. Napoleon rolled his eyes to make sure he was still alive, all of that action had taken just minutes and he still had an image of six riflemen lined up and ready to make him dead. Looking now at his blond partner, he wondered how the wiley man had survived being shot and drowned. He must have missed something...must have...
"Napoleon, come on we're here. The chopper's here...that's right...come on"...Illya coaxed his groggy partner out of the jeep and into the waiting helicopter, grateful for the Wright Brothers and all who had come after them. Napoleon wouldn't have made it much farther without medical help, and driving all the way to Lima would not have been possible for either of them; he was listing to one side as well, the bullet in his shoulder finally taking it's toll on his stamina and resilience. As he pushed his friend up into the craft he felt a jab of pain that painted stars in his vision. The blue eyes rolled back and he lost consciousness, slumping into the open door as two section three agents pulled him up and motioned to the pilot to take off.
When Illya woke up in the Lima medical unit, a pair of brown eyes were watching and waiting from the bed across from his own. A smile cracked his friend's face just enough to reassure him that Napoleon was going to be fine, and had been waiting to make sure the same could be said of his friend.
"We haven't been in all of the UNCLE medical units. I suppose we should just keep going until we've hit them all". The CEA of UNCLE Northwest was fully grinning now, and Illya supposed he had a point. "I imagine we could probably set some kind of record, so at least we'll be remembered for all of this blood loss we've endured". They weren't ready to quit, and neither of them would ever go at less than full speed.
"What's say we give it a rest for a while, though. Maybe let some of the others try and catch up". Illya's lips turned into a hint of a smile, just the corner of his mouth indicating that he found it amusing.
"Yes, I believe you may be on to something. We wouldn't want to get so far ahead in this medical globe trotting that the others get discouraged. Do you think we could take at least a month with nothing punctured or broken? That seems reasonable. It's almost like a head start. I think a memo should go out, just to be fair".
Pragmatic and organized. Napoleon liked that about his partner; that, and he was dependable.
"By the way, thanks for showing up and blowing everything sky high. Eventually they would have started shooting at me on the ground, so...explosives helped".
"Yes, well it was very handy for you to pass out like that. I had a little trouble getting it all set up, so...".
Just then they both stopped and let it all sink in. It had been very close. Illya could have died in that damned river, and Napoleon almost bought it with the firing squad. Just luck and determination...
"You're a stubborn Russian". Illya's grit pulled him up out of that river with a bullet in his shoulder, never losing sight of saving his partner from certain death.
"You're a lucky man". Only Napoleon would pass out in time to duck a firing squad.
Napoleon looked over at the blond hair atop the too young looking face. How on earth did they ever end up like this?
"You know what, we're both lucky. And I guess we're both pretty stubborn. And, it seems to be a pretty good combination.
Go home tomorrow?" He grinned at Illya, knowing what the answer would be.
"Home...tomorrow. It will no doubt take both luck and stubborness to escape here". He was right, because the doctor would fight it, but to no avail.
The stubborn Russian and the lucky American boarded the UNCLE jet at noon, and slept all the way home.