Authors: Spikesgirl58 and Avery11
Genre: Gen Crossover with The Prisoner
Spikesgirl58 will recount Illya's experiences, and Avery11 will handle Napoleon's perspective.
Many, many thanks to sparky955 for her most excellent Beta skills.
Begin reading Chapters 1 - 4 HERE
Illya took a deep breath. He could smell the sea and feel the breeze against his face. The sun was warm, almost hot. He reached out and touched a plant. It was real. He knelt and picked up a handful of dirt. It trickled dry and loamy between his fingers. Standing, he ran his hand down first one surface and then another, each time letting his consciousness report back to him.
He took a step back into his apartment and the door closed behind him, a soft hum, just like the doors at the hospital. He went to the phone and his hand paused in mid- reach. In the center of the dial was the number Twenty-Two.
Lifting the receiver, a chipper voice asked, “Number, please?”
“Uh… KLondyke 5-6443.”
“I’m sorry, only local numbers.”
“I don’t… have one.”
“Call back when you do.” The line went dead and Illya gently slipped the receiver into its cradle. He snapped his fingers and took out his communicator. “Open Channel D.”
“Number, please.” It was the same chipper voice.
Illya dropped the communicator and looked wildly around the room. It was his apartment, right down to the half-finished pizza on the tiny dinette table.
Illya drew his weapon and checked the clip. It seemed real, felt real, but the bullets were fake. He slapped the clip back in and pointed it at his sofa. Pulling the trigger, the gun ejected the bullet without firing. Illya returned it to the holster and took out his frustration on the closest thing to him, his record collection. He yanked the albums from their spot and strewed them over the floor. He stopped short of breaking any. After all, some of them were very valuable, at least to him.
He walked into the bedroom and stopped. The hospital room had been bugged… and there were cameras. It stood to reason they were here as well.
It took him fifteen minutes to find them, but he did. He quickly dismantled them. Then he went to his dresser. If they’d taken his actual furniture, they might not have found this. He rummaged through his underwear drawer until his fingers felt the slightest of ridges. It took him precious seconds to work loose the fake bottom, but eventually it opened and Illya reached inside.
He almost cried when he felt the cool metal against his fingers. He withdrew the weapon and smiled. Experimental, it was made of a metal-infused plastic alloy. He’d been assured that, while it wouldn’t hold up in an extended gun battle, it could fire a clip. Illya checked the mechanism and smiled. If nothing else, at least he was armed now.
He’d just managed to get the false bottom back in place when there was a knock to his front door.
Patting his hair in place, Illya went to answer it. The woman standing there was wearing a black and white striped shirt and tight pants. Pinning to the shirt was a button with a pennyfarthing and the number Forty-Eight on it.
“I received a report that you had a malfunction.” Her voice was oddly chipper and she seemed vaguely familiar.
She started to move past Illya and his eyes widened. He grabbed her arm, and spun her towards him.
“Who’s Nellie? I’m Number Forty-Eight.” She struggled to break his grip, her eyes wide and fearful.
“Where am I?”
“You’re here! We’re all here. Let me go.”
“Not until you tell me where I am.”
“Let her go, Number Twenty-Two.”
Illya turned and the man was standing there. “You!” Illya pushed the woman aside and stormed up to the man. “What is this?”
“Your best defense right now is to play along with them. You already have all the answers you need. You are in the Village. So is your partner. Your brains will be picked clean one way or the other. To confront them is to lose. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way.”
“So I am supposed to take this lying down?”
“That’s the last thing they would expect from you, Number Twenty-two.” The man’s eyes spoke volumes. “They have asked me to escort you to the hospital.” He nodded to Illya’s records. “Perhaps you’d like to tidy up your records first?”
Illya frowned and then sighed, trying to sound put upon. “All right, if I must.”
“Yes, they like things neat and tidy here.”
Illya shuffled through the albums. He found Herbie Hancock’s Inventions and Dimensions and placed it carefully on the counter. “Where is this place?”
“No idea. It doesn’t appear on any maps. It simply is. There is a general store where you can buy anything you need.”
“A ticket out of this place?” Ornette Coleman’s Ornette on Tenor was next. What this man did on a tenor sax was almost orgasmic in Illya’s opinon.
“That would be The Funeral Home at the other end of town.”
“You weren’t joking, then.” Fuchsia Swing song by Sam Rivers was next.
“I never joke, Number Twenty-Two.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” Illya slid Pharoah Sanders’ Tauhid onto the shelf beside the Rivers album.
“It’s your number.” The man’s face darkened. “That's your first lesson here. Everyone in the Village is a number. Accept that and you are halfway to freedom.”
“My name is Illya Kuryakin.” Illya examined the cover of Ira Sullivan’s Blue Stroll before adding it to the collection.
“I’m Number Six. It would do you well to remember your place here.”
“And what exactly is my place here?” Albert Ayler Goin’ Home seemed a safe choice.
“You will be expected to find a job and settle in. Make this your new home. Tell them what they want and, with any luck, they will leave you to die in peace. Press your luck and it can go very badly for you.”
You and Lee by Lee Konitz was the last one he selected and he nodded slightly. “I doubt they can hit me with anything I haven’t already experienced.”
“You have no idea what they are capable of. Will you get on with it?” No. 6 knelt and started handing him albums. Number Forty-Eight came out of the bedroom and walked quickly to the door. “Is everything fixed?”
“Yes, Number Six. Everything is shipshape.”
Illya finished staging the record albums. If Napoleon was indeed here and able to find him, then this would be a message to him. Possibly too little, too late, but it was the best Illya could do.
Straightening up, he followed Number Six to the door and outside. Music was playing, something soft and slightly jazzy. He tried to place it as he trailed behind. Trust the Village to come with its own soundtrack.
A small golf cart pulled up and a young woman, dressed similarly to the repairwoman, leaned over. “Where to?”
“Oh, are you feeling poorly again, Number Twenty-Two?” She smiled sympathetically. “Seems like you just got out.”
“Just a check up, Number Fourteen,” Number Six answered. “Drive on, please.”
Illya used the time to study his new prison, for he was certain he’d simply exchanged one cell for another. There was a news stand, a café, a labor exchange… labor spelt with a ‘u’ and that caught Illya’s eye. There was a post office, several clothing stores, a book store, in short everything that a small town would have.
“What is your major supplier?”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“Who brings your food and goods in? They can’t just magically appear.”
The girl in the front seat, Number Fourteen, laughed merrily. “Yes, they can. That’s the glory of the Village. Here you want for nothing.”
“Except freedom,” Illya whispered.
“Except freedom,” Number Six concurred.
They pulled up in front of the hospital and the taxi paused just long enough for them to get out before speeding away. There was a large sun drenched patio and there were patients in wheelchairs enjoying the morning. Two men were playing chess and a nurse paused here and there, checking with her charges.
“All very civilized,” Illya murmured as they mounted the stairs and walked into the hospital lobby.
“Apparently, but as you will soon find out. Appearances can be deceiving.”
The Hospital's somber facade contrasted sharply with architecture in the rest of The Village. Where the surrounding buildings were elegantly beautiful, the Hospital was unusually dreary and colorless. The place reminded Napoleon of an ancient Scottish castle, all aged stone and crumbling, ivy-covered walls. Tall turrets stood at each of the four corners of the ominous-looking structure.
All it needs is a drawbridge, he thought. Steeling himself for whatever lay ahead, he climbed the single flight of stairs, edged past a row of pasty-looking patients in wheelchairs, and entered the main lobby.
“Number Eleven!” the nurse at the front desk chirruped. “What a lovely surprise!”
Napoleon's jaw dropped. “Nellie? Don't tell me they got you, too?”
She blushed prettily. “I'm afraid you have me confused with someone else. I'm Number Forty-Eight, don't you remember?”
Napoleon was momentarily taken aback. “Yes, of course. My mistake,” he covered quickly. “I'm here to – visit a friend. Number Twenty-Two. I understand he was brought in recently.”
“Let me check.” Nellie sifted through the stack of Admissions slips. “Yes, here it is.” She scanned the page, and her expression fell. “Oh, dear. Your friend is not at all well.”
Napoleon schooled his expression to reveal nothing. “Why? What's wrong with him?”
“I'm not really supposed to – ”
“Well – ” She glanced around. “According to my records, Number Twenty-Two suffers from an acute case of Dissocial Schizotypal Avoidance Personality Disorder. I'm afraid the prognosis is rather grim.”
“Can I see him?”
“Yes, but you'll have to hurry. He's scheduled for surgery shortly.”
Nellie nodded solemnly. “In cases like these, a pre-frontal lobotomy is the only cure. They're prepping him now.”
Napoleon paled. “Which way?”
“Third floor, end of the corridor. You can take the elevator.”
Napoleon was already moving, fear for Illya displacing his innate sense of caution. He stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor. The doors closed, and then, oddly, his next sensation was of the elevator descending.
Of course. The building wasn't tall enough to have a third floor. More misdirection. Trust nothing, he reminded himself. Trust no one.
The doors opened.
Another circular room, this one housing a state-of-the-art operating theatre. A pair of empty gurneys waited beside a complex bank of computers. The machines hummed with sinister purpose, belching out reams of data onto punch cards. White-coated technicians bustled about, fiddling with the various dials and noting the punch card responses on their clipboards. Illya was nowhere to be seen.
“Ah, Number Eleven,” Visconti exclaimed. “Right on time. You UNCLE agents are so tragically predictable.”
Visconti shrugged. “I've no idea. It doesn't really matter, since he's already served his purpose.”
To get me here, Too late, Napoleon realized what his impulsiveness had cost him. Illya will never let me hear the end of it. “What is this place?”
“I call it 'The Village.' I designed the place for THRUSH some years back, as a no-holds-barred interrogation facility for high-end captures. Using a variety of psychological triggers, we alter our captives' paradigms, pick their minds clean, and sell the information to the highest bidder. I must say, it's been a real moneymaker over the years.”
“Oh, it is, it is! Of course, yours is a special case. We have no intention of auctioning you off – the information you carry in that clever head of yours is far too valuable to to sell. Rest assured, THRUSH will put it to good use.”
Napoleon shrugged. “You'll have to get it first.”
“By hook or by crook, we will.”
He took a step toward Visconti, but the click of a THRUSH rifle stopped him. He held out his hands, a gesture of acquiescence. “Your little plan seems awfully complicated,” he remarked casually. “Why not simply capture us both at the townhouse?”
“And have UNCLE breathing down our necks looking for you?” Visconti shook his head. “That would have been foolhardy. No, a more elegant solution was called for. Having you personally witness Kuryakin's murder convinced UNCLE that he was indeed dead, and your overwhelming grief guaranteed that you would be placed on medical leave. The hints regarding his resurrection were enough to make you follow the trail of bread crumbs we laid. Now we have you both, and no one at UNCLE is the wiser.”
Napoleon had to admit that THRUSH's plan had been spectacularly effective. “Sooner or later I'll be missed.”
Visconti laughed. “Later, I should think. The beauty of it is, with Kuryakin 'dead' and you on medical leave, no one's even looking for you.”
He doesn't know about April and Mark! The realization gave him hope. “Why the charade with the fake apartments?” he asked. “It served no purpose as far as I can see.”
“A personal indulgence – I enjoy toying with my prey on occasion. Frankly, I thought you'd be more of a challenge.” He rubbed his hands together. “And now I'm afraid it's time to get down to business.”
Napoleon sighed. “Business?”
“Don't sound so surprised. We are in the 'business' of gathering information here. I want yours. Everything the CEA of UNCLE New York knows.”
“You know I'll never give it to you.”
“Fortunately for me, I don't need your permission to take it.”
Napoleon felt a needle prick his arm, and the world faded to black.
He woke to find himself strapped to a metal gurney. A steel band encircled his skull, with wires and leads that connected to various portions of the giant computer. An IV dripped a clear liquid into his veins.
“Ah, awake at last, I see!” Visconti leaned over Napoleon's body to tighten the restraints. “I imagine you're wondering what that contraption on your head will do?”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“'Crossed my mind?!'” Visconti began to laugh. “'Crossed my mind?!' Oh, that's a good one!” He wiped his eyes, still chuckling. “Tell me, do you recall a scientist named Wilhelm Seltzman?”
“Doesn't ring a bell. Should I?”
“He was a German scientist. Brilliant, eccentric. Unconventional. Shortly before his death, he perfected a rather remarkable device he called a “mind-swapping machine.”
“A mechanism by which the minds of two human beings could be exchanged, Subject A inhabiting Subject B's body, and vice versa.”
Napoleon forced a laugh. “Pure science fiction. It can't be done.”
“I assure you, it can.” Visconti's eyes glittered with excitement. “Imagine if you will, the body of a trusted agent – your body, for example – walking into UNCLE Headquarters, carrying within it the mind of a top THRUSH agent. What a coup it would be – a THRUSH at the head of UNCLE New York, and no one able to tell the difference.”
“They're not so easily fooled. They'd know it wasn't me.”
“Not with your voice print, fingerprints and retinal scan all a perfect match.”
“It'll take more than a set of fingerprints to fool UNCLE,” Napoleon countered easily. “Even if you accomplish the transfer, it won't matter. THRUSH has tried using doubles before. They failed. The doubles were detected and neutralized.”
“Not this time. You see, I'm the one who will be taking over your body. Not some lookalike actor with no motivation, zero talent and two weeks to rehearse.”
“And why not?” Visconti drew himself up, looking every inch the leading man. “I've spent the last ten years studying every detail of your life. Every mission. Every conquest. Every habit you've ever formed and every one you've broken. I've even made it a point to bed some of your women. Ah, the stories they tell about you – ” He chuckled at some private joke. “It's safe to say that I know everything there is to know about you. Maybe even more than you know about yourself.”
A chill began to work its way up Napoleon's spine.
“Once I secure my place inside the organization, it will be a simple matter to arrange Waverly's demise, and assume the position of Number One, Section One. I can dismantle UNCLE from the inside out. They won't suspect a thing until it's too late. ”
Visconti climbed onto the second gurney, and a technician attached a steel band to his skull. “Places, everyone.” He slipped on a pair of goggles.
Visconti's minions scurried about, taking last minute readings and making preparations to initiate the transfer procedure. A nurse fitted a pair of goggles over Napoleon's eyes. “The flash at the moment of transference is bright enough to burn your optic nerve,” she explained helpfully. “We don't want that now, do we?”
Napoleon ignored her. He struggled against the leather straps, but there was no give. Think! he ordered his suddenly sluggish mind. The IV – they're drugging me!
“Machine at full power,” the head technician announced.
“Excellent. Begin transfer.” Visconti saluted. “Be seeing you, Number Eleven.”
The machine hummed and spat, and began emitting a deafening feedback screech. The steel band around Napoleon's skull grew warm, and then hot. A sizzling, snarling arc of energy formed in the space above his head. The air crackled with electricity. His teeth chattered uncontrollably. The hair on his arms stood straight up.
Illya, I'm s
The beam coalesced. Fired.
“Once upon a time –”
Illya sat up with a shout. He looked around. He was back in Medical, and he wanted to scream in frustration. They’d been close, so close to escape.
The door slid open and Nellie… No, what was she? … Number Forty-Eight ran in. “Illya, what’s wrong?”
“Leave me alone,” he growled and pulled back as far as he could in the bed. That’s when he realized he wasn’t strapped down.
Number Forty-Eight retreated a step, and then another. “Agent, get Dr. Stokes and let Mr. Waverly know that Mr. Kuryakin is awake.” She turned back. “Illya, it’s okay… you’ve been through a lot.”
The door opened and April ran in. She didn’t pause, but came to his side. She hugged Illya so tightly, he thought his ribs would break. Mark was right behind her.
“Ah, Mate, it’s good to see you awake. You had us worried.”
Illya pulled away and did his best to keep from hyperventilating. He wanted to believe, he truly did, but it had been so long.
Waverly appeared at the door, his face tired and drawn. “Ah , Mr. Kuryakin, you look to be in remarkable shape for a corpse.”
“Thank you, sir.” Illya looked around. “Where’s Napoleon?”
“Never fear, young man, he is just next door.”
“Section Three has him in a holding cell.”
“I am looking forward to talking to him.”
“Both he and Mr. Solo are still unconscious.”
Dr. Stokes, another familiar face, appeared and Illya felt the iron band in his gut release just a bit more.
“Illya, what happened?” April sat beside him, still holding his hand. “After Napoleon parachuted in, it felt as if we waited for days for a signal. We’d just about given up when we spotted you in that truck.”
“What were those things, Illya?” Mark had gotten a chair for Waverly and he stood beside it, his expression troubled. “They looked like some wild beach balls come to life.”
Illya shut his eyes for a moment and frowned, remembering.
“We found Napoleon and Visconti strapped to gurneys, and somehow managed to get them into a delivery truck.” It had seemed too easy, and that was when someone had taken a shot at him. He returned fire while Number Six drove the truck away from the hospital.
Just when it looked like they might just make it, the truck engine died, and Illya spotted the first of the three orbs.
“The ball is called a Rover and it’s a weapon.” He could still hear the things roaring as they encircled the truck.
“Guess no one ever warned them about the danger of chopper blades.”
Illya remembered one of the Rovers screaming and exploding. “I wondered what happened.” The other two Rovers had backed off, and that was when Illya saw the helicopter with April at the controls. Suddenly Mark was beside him, helping him carrying Napoleon and Visconti to the helicopter.
“Come with us,” Illya shouted as he ran back to Number Six.
“Long ago, I learned it’s not just four walls and a jailer than makes a jail, my young friend. “ He glanced over his shoulder as the Rovers regrouped and began to approach again. “Go! I’ll lead them off. The man popped the clutch, let the truck roll back a few feet and it started.
Illya raced back to the helicopter, climbed on board and watched as the nightmare called the Village dropped from view.
“Why wouldn’t he come with you, Illya?” April seemed tuned into him. “That man driving the truck, why didn’t he leave with you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Who was he?”
“A friend.” Trust no one, not matter how sweetly they sing. Number Six's warning came back to Illya, and he managed a small smile. “Dr. Stokes, when can I get out of here?”
“How about as soon as all these people leave so I can check you out? The headshrinkers are going to want to talk to you as soon as you feel up to it.” Nellie started escorting people to the door.
“Can I see Napoleon?” Illya unbuttoned his pajama top.
“In five minutes if you cooperate.” Illya did just that, and in less time than that he was wrapped in a robe and standing by Napoleon’s bedside. Illya touched the gauze wrapped about Napoleon’s forehead.
“Why is he still unconscious?”
“We don’t know. Visconti is unconscious as well.” The doctor scanned Napoleon's chart. “Vitals are good; everything’s stable. Aside from the burns on his temples, we can’t find anything wrong with him.”
The doctor placed a hand on Illya’s shoulder. “You should go home and get some rest, some real rest.”
“I can’t, not until I know he’s okay. He risked everything to save me, Doctor. I won’t abandon him now.”
“Tell you what. How about I get an orderly to bring in a bed for you?”
Illya smiled and nodded. “That would be perfect.”
“Go and get something to eat. They tell me the Shepherd’s Pie isn’t too bad today.”
The trip to the Canteen was an experience of normality. Everything was right, everyone was right. So, why did everything feel so wrong?
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