Napoleon and Illya stepped out of the lab into an empty hallway. The klaxons were still sounding as they headed toward the stairway. Guns drawn, they stepped into the stairwell which was also empty. They eyed each other uneasily and proceeded down until they heard gunfire on the second floor. Popping the door, the air was redolent of sulfur and a faint fishy smell that both of them remembered.
On the other side was the open area the British field agents used as an organizational room, much like the bullpens of American police departments. As they joined the fray, each noted agents down and others ducked behind furniture and firing sporadically now. Across the room loomed a line of cloaked figures.
"Somehow, this is all Cheri's fault," Illya offered grouchily to Napoleon's faint smile of acknowledgment. He fired at one of the lumbering figures with no effect while his partner assessed the situation and figured out the fastest way to get the surviving agents out of the room.
They simultaneously spotted the muttering cultist in the fez at the back of the cloaked crowd at the same time they noted the skinny, underfed looking youth rise up behind the bad guy and plunge a short, shiny dagger into the dirty tunic covered back of same. The chant cut off in mid syllable and the cloaks stopped in their tracks. Where one might have expected milling around in confusion, this was more like all motivation ceased when the chant did.
Illya moved toward the closest member of the attacking force, pulling the hood down from a face only a mother could love. Nose wrinkling in disgust at the foul smell emanating from the corpse like flesh, the Russian backed up as the body liquified and dropped into a pile of slime. He refrained from looking at the others, knowing that they were doing the same.
Open mouthed, Napoleon stared at the mess, at the dead cultist and then at Illya. "What the hell just happened?"
"It's Her fault," Illya reiterated as he holstered his gun and started helping stunned agents to their feet. "We never had problems like this before she showed up."
That got a slight laugh from his American partner. "No, we didn't. The weird factor certainly has increased since her arrival. April," he gave the auburn haired woman a hand getting her partner out from under the desk where he'd taken refuge. "Mark."
"What was that?" The slender blond took a deft step around the noisome goo headed toward his hand made leather boots. "I have never encountered anything like the inexorable … shuffle … of that lot." His face was furrowed with a frown. "Goo people?" He met Napoleon's dark gaze, his gaze thoughtful. "This isn't THRUSH, is it?"
"We ran into something … equally peculiar … in Maine a year or more ago. Innsmouth."
"The tidal wave?" April asked, joining them again. "Where you put the entire town under water?" She grinned at Illya's scowl. "Come on, we know you didn't do it, that it was connected to something THRUSH was up to."
"Not exactly," Napoleon corrected her. "There was a connection to THRUSH, but they were as much pawns as anyone that time. The real problem was a woman who seemed to be involved in some sort of genetic research. I don't think we ever determined exactly what caused the tidal wave at that point. It didn't hit the rest of the coast, just that one harbor."
April nodded. "The ocean's a funny thing. Did one of you shoot the man with the chant?"
The two men exchanged looks. She hadn't seen the younger man, almost an adolescent, who took the cultist down? "Not me," Napoleon denied his involvement.
The head of the London office spotted the two of them at that point and hurried over to congratulate them and reprimand them in the same breath. They took it well, admitted they'd arrived just at the end of the confrontation and knew practically nothing beyond what was obvious. Neither of them felt like addressing the completely not obvious issues at hand. Napoleon escorted his partner back to the lab where their assistant was waiting for them with samples.
"Find out if there are any interns in this office," Napoleon flung at her as they entered the office.
"Interns? Oh, like the Midwest offices have during the summer?" she asked.
"Something like that. There was a young, very young, slender, ginger haired young man; not more than nineteen or so. He … knifed the man who was chanting and stopped the invasion."
"But didn't hang around to be thanked," she surmised. "So, see if there is one and if there isn't, find out how he got in and out. Anything else?" At their head shakes, she disappeared into the hallway to deal with her assignment.
"What is she doing here?" Illya asked apropos of nothing.
Three blocks away, the ginger haired young man stopped moving and melded into the shadows of an alleyway. He pulled out a communicator, much like the ones used by UNCLE agents and contacted his superior. "My Lady. They are on the move again. Invasion of the UNCLE headquarters here in London." Her drawling response was amusing. "Yes. All taken care of. Dispose of the puppeteer and the rest … takes care of itself." He listened for further instructions. "Of course. I will take pains. The two probably saw me, but no one else. I'll be on guard."
A few moments later he left the alleyway, unrecognizable, the ginger wig gone along with the Carnaby Street garb. Now he was a young businessman on his way up the corporate ladder. He hummed a few bars of A Well Respected Man as he joined the throngs of others