"There's one for each of you; a little something extra for my favorite UNCLE agents."
The sultry tone of the man's voice did nothing to diminish the dismay being felt by the objects of Henry Jones' torment. Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin and Kitt Kittridge were each standing at the window in Jones' apartment that overlooked the strange testing ground built for him by THRUSH.
"You can blow up a row of exploding boxes. Are we supposed to be impressed by that?"
Napoleon knew there was more to it, of course. The fact that Jones had gone to the trouble to capture each of them, from entirely different parts of the world, gave some measure of brevity to the situation. There was obviously a point in the offing.
"Always the one with a cool, smart reply eh, Mr. Solo? Well, as I am certain you have already surmised, the importance of this little demonstration goes far beyond some simple need to flex my muscles in front of UNCLE's finest.'
Jones rose from his throne like seat to the left of the agents and approached the one nearest him; Illya didn't flinch when a leather lash came down hard on his shoulders, in spite of the pain. He did seethe sufficiently, however. Kitt looked on in admiration; something about the Russian had impressed the Scot when they'd first met in London. His reserve was no more a front than the bravery he exhibited now.
Jones saw the look on Kittidge's face and harrumphed at the admiration he recognized coming from the red headed agent. Kuryakin would bend, as would all of these men.
"You see, gentlemen, my toil and, to be honest, my genius, have brought me far in the Hierarchy. Unlike you three, I do not find it sufficiently satisfying to merely do a good job. I have plans for domination that far exceed the paltry schemes of THRUSH."
Kittridge snorted, his red beard unable to soften the sound.
"Aye, that's a rare bird indeed, with plans for world domination. What do ya say, lads, to that?"
Napoleon grinned, his defiance was written all over his face.
"I'd say it's just one more megalomaniac with another big idea."
The lash came down on Napoleon's back this time, barely eliciting a whisper of pain from the stalwart American. God save us from another THRUSH maniac, he thought to himself. It did little to assuage the sting of that leather whip.
Illya grimaced in empathy at the sound of Jones' instrument of torture
"I don't suppose you're going to tell us exactly what your plans are, Jones. We don't want to hear it, of course, so just save the breath it would take and get on with whatever it is you have in mind. I, for one, am growing bored with this exhibition."
Illya's speech had exactly the desired effect. Henry Jones huffed and puffed, just a little, and proceeded to tell them his entire plan, including the part where he blows up THRUSH Central. That seemed to be the reason he needed Kuryakin. Kitt wondered why he was there, since explosives were not his specialty, and for that matter neither were they Napoleon's.
"If you wanted an explosives expert then Illya is certainly the man for the job.'
Kuryakin shot his partner a scathing look, his blue eyes a shade icier than usual.
"In fact, it seems unnecessary to have Mr. Kittridge or myself here at all. So, why exactly are we here?"
Henry Jones was very pleased with this conversation. He loved nothing more than extolling his own virtues and abilities. A captive audience was always welcome for doing that.
"Ah, Mr. Solo, you get to the heart of the matter, do you not."
"I try. Thank you for noticing."
The smile on Napoleon's face served to placate Jones a little more, indulging his sense of superiority by finding a bit of repartee with this intelligent man. Even if he was going to kill Solo, there might as well be civil and agreeable conversation.
"Well, now that you mention it…'
Jones grinned impishly, his delight at having captured these three now more complete for the entertainment it provided.
"I do need Mr. Kuryakin's expertise in explosives, although you have witnessed the veracity of my ability to destroy. Those three fireballs would certainly produce the desired effect."
Illya was a little confused. How often did THRUSH need to recruit an UNCLE agent to do their dirty work?
"If you can do what we just witnessed, why do you need me?"
Again, Jones was gratified. They were such dolts at times.
"Mr. Kuryakin, Illya… May I call you Illya?"
"No. I'd really rather prefer that you do not,"
That reply threw Jones, and he backed up a little, as though he'd been slapped.
"That is really rather rude, Illya. You see, I can call you anything I like. Illya, Illya, Illya. Haha… try and stop me."
Illya merely rolled his eyes, an obvious sign of disdain.
Whap! Another stroke from the whip drew blood this time as it creased the blond's back. A bad attitude was beginning to brew, and suddenly Napoleon realized that, as Jones had moved closer, he was providing the UNCLE agents an opportunity.
Illya sank down to the floor, feigning a sudden loss of strength. Napoleon turned towards Henry Jones in order to keep the man's attention with him and away from Illya, who was maneuvering his arms and legs so that he could get his hands in front of his body. Napoleon saw it, always amazed at that feat from his partner.
The limber agent managed to get himself positioned just as Napoleon was enticing Jones to come closer and tell him more of the story, and when he did, Illya was close enough to Henry Jones to tackle him.
Kitt, his hands still behind his back, dove on top of Jones while Napoleon located a cord hanging from the draperies. He pulled on them, still operating with his hands behind his back, and was able to disengage it from the fabric in time to hand it off to Illya, who promptly tied up the now whimpering THRUSH.
"Gee fellas, it looks like we have a little birdie that needs to be taken back to headquarters. Henry, you should never gather three UNCLE agents in one room. Something bad is always bound to happen, and mostly to the one making that mistake."
Illya was untying Napoleon's wrists, who in turn untied Kitt. The three men stood in front of the window now, the dissipating smoke a grey reminder of the explosions they had so recently witnessed.
Jones looked up at his former prey, his eyes full of more disappointment than typical THRUSH madness.
"I don't understand. How did you three manage to ruin everything so completely? My three glorious explosions were intended to strike fear into your souls, to grind you to immediate submission."
He was wailing, seemingly unable to fathom the superiority of the three men who faced him.
Illya, in a casually dismissive tone, supplied an answer to Henry's lament.
"It would seem, Henry Jones, that you are simply incompetent. Perhaps that will help you to contain any future plans for world domination, as I fear they will all end badly."
Kitt and Napoleon nodded their agreement. Henry Jones really wasn't much of a megalomaniac, actually. Pretty poor at it, by the look of things.
"Yeah, Henry… I think you'd do well to just give up this business and try something a little less … hmmm… challenging. Illya's right, you're pretty incompetent as world domineering types go."
Henry was reluctant to give up his dreams, but Solo had a point. He had failed miserably, and now THRUSH would be wanting their pound of flesh… and bone. He was going to be punished.
"Do you think I could join UNCLE?"
The three agents all shook their heads in unison. Napoleon spoke for all of them.
"No, I don't think so Henry. Do you have a second career choice, aside from all of this…?"
He pointed around the room from the throne chair to the expansive window with the view of his doomed threat.
Henry looked beaten, his eyes no longer bright with enthusiastic madness. He was simply undone by all of this.
"I never wanted to be anything else. This is my dream."
Illya was astounded at the stupidity of it all. What a complete waste of a lifetime.
"Napoleon, did you see where he put our communicators?"
The American looked around, somewhere by that chair… He strode towards that lofty piece of furniture and was gratified to see all three communicators in a small porcelain bowl. It seems they were being kept, for souvenirs perhaps.
"Here they are. I'll call this in…'
Napoleon uncapped the pen and raised the little antennae…
"Open channel D, this is Solo."
"Ah, yes, Mr. Solo. I have been wondering if…er, when I'd be hearing from you. I understand you have some company there?"
"Yes sir, Mr. Kittridge and Mr. Kuryakin are both here, and all three of us are fine. We also have Henry Jones, and he seems willing to be a guest of UNCLE. May we have transport to this location? I will set the homing signal."
"Very well, Mr. Solo. I expect you had some excitement earlier, a series of explosions I believe."
"Yes sir. How did you know?"
"Er, Mr. Solo, surely by now you realize it is my business to know such things. Mr. Jones has been under observation for some time, and his attention to things of, shall we say an explosive nature, are well known. We did not foresee him kidnapping all of you, however. Although, Mr. Kuryakin was not a surprise, I suppose."
"Interesting. In any event, sir, we will have him ready for transport and all of us will be glad to get out of here. It smells a little like gasoline and sulphur."
"Indeed, the devil's own work, I'd say. Carry on, gentlemen. Wavelry out."
With that the conversation ended, Napoleon looked back over towards the throne. Illya had tied Henry snugly into his own chair.
"We'll have a ride in less than an hour."
Illya was contemplating their situation, the three explosions they had witnessed. Something wasn't quite right.
"Henry, do you have any other explosives ready to detonate? Those three weren't the last, were they."
The last was not a question. Illya now felt as though there was something else to dread, and that Henry was not completely vanquished in his efforts; he was THRUSH, after all.
"You see, that's why I chose you, Illya Kuryakin. You are the best, even your instincts lend themselves to sniffing out explosives.'
Henry Jones preened just a little, like a peacock spreading his feathers. He felt special again.
"I absolutely do have another surprise for all of you. I thought it was ruined, but now it seems just knowing that you are worried will give me some final satisfaction."
Napoleon was alarmed at that word.
"Final? What have you done, Henry?"
Henry simply shook his head.
"I shan't tell you. That would spoil my fun."
Illya quickly gathered up the communicators and, with a quick perusal of the area around Henry's throne he located their weapons.
"Out! Now, we're leaving here and quickly. Henry has most certainly booby trapped this place, for what reason I dare not speculate.'
Illya eyed the strange fellow who had brought them all to this place, amazed always at the caliber of miscreants that flocked to THRUSH.
"Why did you do it, Henry? Afraid you'd end up dead and we would be caught here, as a punishment?"
Henry whimpered again. Suddenly his plan didn't seem all that much the work of a genius, not really. He was about to kill himself.
"Please take me with you. I did set it to explode if you weren't stationed to take the controls of the unit. You, Illya, you were the key. I don't suppose I can cajole you into blowing up an ocean liner?"
All three of the UNCLE agents shook their heads in disbelief. What an incredible piece of work this one was.
"No, Henry I won't blow up anything for you. We'll take you with us, but you'd better not have any more little surprises. One more and the joke will most definitely be on you. Do you understand?"
The look on the Russian's face made Henry Jones shrink back a little, the icy glare more than he wanted to endure right now.
"Yes, all right. Come this way and don't… don't touch anything. I don't have time to explain what might or might not be a problem."
After much traipsing along staircases and beneath the bunker in which they had recently been tied up and forced to watch those explosions, Napoleon, Illya and Kitt were once again back at UNCLE headquarters. Henry Jones was locked up with a psyche evaluation team and a talented interrogator; strange stories were emerging.
Mr. Waverly convened his usual de-brief meeting and asked of his men to give detailed explanations of their time at the THRUSH compound, for lack of a better description. Of course, it had blown itself to smithereens, and the men had escaped with only their good luck as a shield.
"Mr. Solo, to what end was this lunacy directed? I can't make head nor tails of it."
"Nor can I, sir. It seems that Henry Jones thought he could rules the world with a few explosives; threaten the travel industry, perhaps with his intention to blow up things. It's hard to ascertain how he expected this to work."
Waverly huffed and tamped on a pipe he would not actually light.
"The man is a terror, that's what he is. Blasted terror to the world and to himself. I suppose we should be glad there aren't more like him at the moment, although with THRUSH the danger is never far away.'
He raised his eyebrows as though searching for agreement.
"Very well. Please go and… find something to do, gentlemen. Good day."
With that the three younger men were dismissed. Each of them had a sense of wariness about Henry Jones. Somehow it just didn't seem over.
Illya was the only one with words for the occasion. Not even the usually glib Kittridge had anything to offer about their recent experiences.
"I believe we will need to re-examine the site, backtrack where Henry has been and who he's been talking to, doing business with. There's more to him that the silly show he put on for us. He may be slightly eccentric, but he's no fool."
Napoleon tilted his head as though to get better reception from the signal Illya was sending out.
"Why? I mean, what else could there be? We have Henry, and his compound is destroyed."
Kitt was anxious to get on to the next assignment. Jones had given him the heebie jeebies, a phrase he'd only recently heard and it applied to this case very well.
"I for one da not wish to revisit the man, either in person or otherwise. He's a looney, a nutter. Why don't we just leave it at that, eh Illya?"
The Russian knew better than to continue. His friends were not sensing what he knew must certainly be true. He'd give it some time, do a little research.
"Yes, perhaps you are correct. Let us go about our business here and not dwell on what is already a fait accompli."
Kitt didn't catch it, but Napoleon knew this wasn't over.
"Drinks then? I believe it's just about quittin' time."
The three each retrieved what he needed before leaving the building, the prospect of a friendly conversation sounded like a proper ending to the day.
Meanwhile, in the bowels of the building sat Henry Jones. No one knew what was on his mind.