A shot is fired.

A nation is sent into chaos.

The ripples created by one lone act of violence reach into the lives of people all around the world.

One man, among just a few, has enough power to stop the ripples from turning into a tsunami with global implications. If he chooses wisely from among the men at his disposal, those who will carry out his plans, then the world may yet recover from this latest setback.

A warbling tone pierced through the darkness in which Illya Kuryakin was shrouded. His dreams had left him breathless once again, and the sound of his communicator was a welcome relief from the tormenting images he had endured this night.

"Kuryakin…"

"Illya, sorry to wake you…"

"No, really… it is fine. What?"

"We're needed, have been summoned. The old man's waiting for us."

Illya almost snorted, the ludicrous thought sprinting across his fuzzy brain that Waverly was somehow an integrated circuit within the framework of UNCLE's computerized networks.

"I have no doubt… Twenty minutes. I'll meet you…"

"Yes, at the door. See you then."

And that was that. No explanations save the almighty need to save the world. Again.

It was actually fifteen minutes later that found Kuryakin waiting at the door of his apartment building, staring into the early morning that was illuminated with street lamps and passing cars; the streets were not empty. New York seemed to always have some life left over from the day and night previous, no matter the hour or how desolate the mood of its inhabitants.

Napoleon pulled up to the curb and Illya was out the door, sliding smoothly into the bucket seats of the Charger.

"Any idea what this is about?"

Napoleon shook his head, his eyes were watching the road and the shadows; each could be dangerous.

"No, only that something has happened on the other side of the world and we're the lucky ducks who get to clear the pond.'

Solo managed a sideways glance at his partner, noted the signs of a night not spent sleeping.

"You okay? You don't look okay."

Illya cut his eyes, not yielding to the concern. He saw Napoleon's grim expression in his peripheral view.

"I've been better I suppose. The … I have …"

"I know. Me too."

That was the only conversation as they headed across town towards UNCLE Headquarters. Their shared silence only served to reinforce their resolve to not have a repeat of the disaster they had recently survived.

Napoleon pulled up to the curb in front of Del Floria's just as the sun began to illuminate the sidewalks with the first light of a new day. It was six in the morning, and early enough to warrant copious amounts of coffee for their early morning meeting with Alexander Waverly.

The 'old man' as they sometimes bravely referred to him, was already seated at his large desk, the round table of this modern Camelot. The knights assumed a look that was appropriately noble as they strode into the sleek office to face their king and commander. No one carried the mantle of law and order with more verve or confidence than Waverly. His duty was to the world at large by whatever means available to him. Today, for this task, he would send out his best team and hope, once again, that they would return victorious.

Napoleon settled into his seat, shot his cuffs and gave his neck free reign to work out any kinks. Illya sat still, hands on the table in front of him, waiting for their superior to speak. He lacked the nervous mannerisms of his partner; they had been schooled away by his years of training in the Soviet Union. The USSR excelled in turning out spies who never flinched, never played with the cuffs of their shirts.

And yet, Kuryakin was not a star student among his comrades. His failure to adhere to everything within the military codes had made him subject to recrimination and threats of re-training on more than one occasion. Now, in spite of his theoretical adherence to the philosophies of his homeland, he found himself generally disengaged from the Soviet mindset. Anarchy and threats of war taunted him as time after time some miscreant revolutionary called on the Soviets to stand with them as they went to war. That was beginning to wear on the recalcitrant Russian.

Sitting at the great table before the great man, both Solo and Kuryakin were closer to a state of dread than either of them would ever admit.

Napoleon Solo could charm and disarm both men and women, it was a gift not often bestowed on mere mortals to be so completely engaging. Solo knew what he had to offer and exploited it for various purposes, some of them good. Optimistic beyond reason according to his partner, Napoleon Solo trusted in one thing more than any other: himself. He trusted his partner as well, but ultimately, and luck notwithstanding, Napoleon knew than when it all came down to a final accounting, the win column would be dictated by how well he stuck to his own game, followed his own instincts and played by his rules.

Both men were engrossed in self-examination as Waverly turned to address them. The morning would be punctuated by news from the troubled area to which Solo and Kuryakin were being sent. Bags already packed would be snatched from their hiding places as the two men prepared to be launched into action.

The world never stopped needing their services, and for now they would heed the call once again.