There was no warning.
There was only the roar and then … silence.
Napoleon thought he was dead at first. Not at first. It was afterwards.
After the roar and the silence there was … nothing.
That's when he knew. Finally, after all of the danger and the miles of travel dedicated to stopping evil in the world, after all of that he was finally at the end.
Napoleon thought he heard something moving, and then came memories of other people who had been with him on this flight.
The pilot, for one. Napoleon had a bad feeling about his fate, and upon checking confirmed his fears concerning that poor man.
Who else? Someone else had been in this plane.
Moaning from somewhere in the back.
Illya! Good God, Illya was on this flight and …
"Illya? Illya… "
Napoleon scrambled over a seat and some suitcases that had been tossed out of the luggage compartment. It was just now getting to be daylight, and shadows played with the available light inside what was left of the aircraft.
More moans. Solo's Luck had held out once more. Napoleon didn't feel anything out of place, and yet there was that wretched moaning from his partner. How was he always in the wrong place?
There. Curled up behind a seat with a pile of boxes on top of him. How had that happened? Oh, transporting a collection of rare books. Leave it to Illya to wind up at the bottom of a pile of books.
Napoleon almost laughed, but then he heard his partner's groaning voice again.
"Illya. Hey, are you hurt? Illya, talk to me."
The blond grunted as Napoleon reached for his shoulder and tried to pull him up from the tumble of books and cardboard.
"Ouch. Didn't you pay attention in that first aid class? You're not supposed to move a wounded man."
Illya was fine. You could always tell by the level of annoyance in his voice.
"Okay, I'll let you pull yourself up. Far be it from me to lend a hand."
Blue eyes tried to roll but a razor sharp stab of pain stopped the motion.
"I am fine, only a minor bludgeoning from a box of rare books. At least I can appear well read."
Napoleon chuckled at that, relieved that there was nothing worse here than a bump on the Russians hard head. Illya asked about the other member of their crew.
"Have you checked the cockpit… oh? I am sorry. Charles was a good man."
Napoleon communicated with a shake of his head. The pilot was dead, and now they were alone in a plane that would never fly again, somewhere in the jungles of Costa Rica. It only now occurred to the UNCLE agent to check for his communicator.
"Aha! We are not stranded … completely.'
A flick of the silver pen shaped instrument and then the relay to a satellite miles above them, and Napoleon made his connection.
"Open Channel D … Solo here … somewhere. Can someone please tell me where I am?"
There was a hiss and a long interlude in which both Illya and Napoleon feverishly hoped for another voice to manifest.
"Mr. Solo? Thank goodness you're alive. We were aware of the plane going down, but it's been hours ago. Are you all right?"
The voice belonged to Wanda, and Napoleon was cheered by her concern, and the fact that they knew about the crash. That meant help was probably on the way.
"Yes, Wanda my sweet. And, by the way, you do sound very sweet to me right now. Mr. Kuryakin and I are both fine. Well, mostly fine. As usual Illya has a bump on his head the size of a grapefruit. Charles Carpenter though, sadly, didn't survive the crash."
A sniff on the other end told Solo that Wanda had entertained some special feelings for Carpenter. It was better to not ever indulge in that among the personnel of this organization.
"Wanda? Are you all right?"
"What? Yes, yes of course. Now, back to you and Illya…er, Mr. Kuryakin…"
"Gentlemen, Waverly here. Are the books still intact?"
Always the mission, even while his agents sat in the rubble of a plan crash.
"Yes sir, the books are fine, although a few of them landed on Mr. Kuryakin and knocked him out quite effectively.'
Napoleon watched as Illya gathered up the scattered tomes, efficiently setting them into the order in which they had originally been packed.
"They seem to all be in perfectly good shape, sir. Umm, what exactly are we to do now? We aren't in sight of anything remotely civilized, as far as I can tell. Is there some help on the way?"
I hope, he added silently.
Illya was now sitting down, the effort of maneuvering the books into place in the squalor of the plane's damaged interior suddenly a strain on the blond. His head was pounding and he felt nauseous. Concussion. That figured.
Napoleon noted his partner's slumped posture as Waverly continued to speak.
"Remain where you are, Mr. Solo. A rescue team is headed towards your location and should be arriving… within the hour. We were aware of your misfortune immediately, and the team was dispatched soon afterwards. Agents Noonan and Crowe will assume this assignment. Please pass onto them the documents and, of course, the books. They will fill you in on the rest. Please report in as soon as they arrive."
"Yes sir, and thank you. Solo out."
The sun was completely in view now as the plan began to warm with the day's heat. It would be hot soon, and humid. Napoleon felt a twinge of familiar regret as he thought about Charles Carpenter, of Wanda's halting response to the news of his death. Illya was pale, his eyes slightly unfocused as he watched his American partner.
"What is it, Napoleon? We'll soon be out of here and headed back to… I have a headache, probably a concussion. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to not have a headache and a concussion."
Napoleon chuckled, understanding Illya's wistful expression. Sometimes it seemed pretty good to think about waking up in the morning and not being in the path of danger. Is that really how the world was supposed to be?
"We'll get you to Medical, wherever it is they take us. A little unexpected R&R, tovarisch. I won't turn it down."
"Nor I, Napoleon. Sitting in the middle of a jungle alongside a corpse in this mangled airplane… I am sorry about Charles. He was a good man, a valued comrade."
Napoleon considered that, and then thought of Wanda.
"Indeed he was, Illya. And, for what it was worth, I think he was loved."
Silently the two men each considered that, and decided it was worth quite a lot.