The Pendragon Affair
-a Man from UNCLE slash fanfic by Taylor Dancinghands
Pairing: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin
Characters: Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin, various O/Cs
Genre: slash, h/c, A/U: Sentinels and Guides, Sentinels are a known institution
Warnings: m/m romance, intimacy, period terminology for African Americans (but not the n- word), tropes and themes lifted freely from The Sentinel tv show, episode 1, season 4 (Sentinel Too, pt 2).
Rating: Mature/PG 17
Length: 19,351 words
Disclaimer: I'm old, but still not old enough to be any of the creators or owners of the Man from UNCLE intellectual property. I swear, my own twisted musings are not costing those people a dime, and I won't be making a penny myself.
Summary: Napoleon and Illya are called in when airport officials in San Francisco are threatened with a laser attack on northbound passenger planes and UNCLE thinks it looks like a Thrush operation. Chasing down the villain's probable base on Mt Tam, our heroes discover that this affair involves Sentinel business too, for Mt Tam hides its own secrets —a forgotten shrine, sacred to Sentinels, which is also imperiled.
Prologue: UNCLE business or Sentinel business?
The Pendragon Affair
Prologue: "UNCLE business or Sentinel business?"
Nathan Richardson, Sheriff of Marin County, California, met them in the front lobby of the department headquarters, in the Marin County Courthouse, in downtown San Rafael. The sleepy little mission town, an hour or so north of San Francisco, looked to Illya to be an unlikely spot for a Thrush backed extortion scheme, but that, of course, was just why they would have chosen it. That and its convenient location under several of the primary flight paths used by the San Francisco International Airport.
"Agent Solo, Agent Kooreeyahkin," the sheriff greeted them each with a firm handshake. The mispronunciation was a matter of inexperience, rather than contempt; Illya had long ago learned to tell the difference. The man's demeanor was as no-nonsense as his brush-cut salt and pepper hair and Illya figured him for a Marine. He was also a fellow Sentinel.
He had Illya sized up right away as well, stepping back after he'd shaken Illya's had to look him up and down.
"You gentlemen here on UNCLE business or Sentinel business?" he asked.
"Both, as it happens," Napoleon answered smoothly. "Is there somewhere we can talk?"
Sheriff Richardson led them past the reception desk, exchanging a smile and a nod with the woman there.
"You fellas be wanting some coffee?" she asked.
"Yes please, ma'am," the sheriff answered as they passed down a short corridor to a meeting room. They took seats in folding chairs set around a heavy wooden table, its surface marked by years of scratches and coffee rings.
"Let's start with the UNCLE business," Sheriff Richardson said. "You here looking for the source of those laser attacks on northbound flights out of the city?"
"You are correct," Illya replied. Illya had read what the local papers were reporting about the matter: a series of incidents in which pilots reported seeing a bright red dot of light appear in their cockpits, clearly originating from outside the plane. "But the situation has escalated. Yesterday, airport officials received an extortion letter. Half a million dollars to be deposited into a certain Swiss bank account or the next attack would bring a plane down."
Richardson gave a low whistle. "Deputy Kendall said it would come to that," he commented. "And UNCLE thinks it's coming from somewhere here in Marin?"
"UNCLE scientists have triangulated the data from the previous incidents," Napoleon explained, "and have generated a set of coordinates." He extracted a small notebook from his vest pocket and opened it to the desired page. "I take it you have a good map for the area? he asked.
Richardson nodded, rising to cross to a map chest, just as the woman from the front desk entered with a tray full of coffee, cups, sugar and creamer.
"Thanks, Dot," the sheriff commented. "If you could stay for a moment? These gentlemen claim to be here on Sentinel business, in addition to those airplane attacks."
For a moment Illya wondered why the receptionist was being invited to join them, then he caught Napoleon gesturing subtley to his left hand ring finger. Of course, she was the sheriff's wife, and his Guide.
The coffee went on one end of the table, and the map was unrolled on the other as they gathered round and Illya located the coordinates he had in his notebook on the map before them.
"Mount Tam," the sheriff commented immediately. "Well that makes sense. He'd have the altitude he needs to hit the cockpit."
"You're saying that's where the laser was coming from?" the sheriff's wife asked. "Here, I was thinking it was just some college prank."
"Unfortunately, it is far more serious," Napoleon replied. "The attacker has been communicating with the authorities, under the name 'Pendragon', and has threatened to bring a plane down if his demands for money are not met."
"That's just terrible!" she exclaimed, turning to take her Sentinel's hand. "What kind of man would do such a thing?"
"The kind of men we are frequently sent to put a stop to, as UNCLE agents," Illya said.
"And to do that, it looks like we need to make a visit to… Mount Tam-al-pais?" Napoleon continued, stumbling over the name.
"It's pronounced, Tam-el-Py-is," said the sheriff's wife. "But everyone here just calls it Mount Tam."
"I wonder if this Pendragon fellow is connected with those hoodlums from Oakland who've been holed up out on Mount Tam?" the sheriff wondered. "In any case, we should plan a trip out first thing tomorrow, as it's late now, and we'll want Deputy Kendall. He knows that area like the back of his hand, but he's been out all day looking for those fugitives from Oakland someone said they saw camping out there."
"Tomorrow should be fine," Illya said, moving to the other end of the table to get a cup of coffee and take a seat. "Now I'd like to discuss the Sentinel business, if I may."
The others followed him and took seats, though Richardson introduced his wife first. "Gentlemen, this is my Guide, and my wife, as I'm sure you've figured out, Dorothy."
"But nobody ever calls me Dorothy, sweetheart," she prodded him playfully. "If you have to be formal you can call me Mrs Richardson, otherwise, you can just call me 'Dot', like everyone else."
"Then you may call me Illya, or Mr Kuryakin, as you wish," Illya replied. "But my Guide here prefers to go by, 'Mr Solo'. He will explain to you the nature of our Sentinel business."
"There's two things, really," Napoleon began, stirring his coffee. "The first is simply to meet with you personally, to ask how much contact you have with other Sentinels and Guides in your area, and whether any of you have formed your own Prides or networks, or inherited them from those who came before?"
"You sound like someone trying to organize something," the sheriff said.
"More like trying to get some idea of what organizations exist already," Illya said, "and encourage you and any other Sentinels you know, to organize yourselves, wherever you see a need. We promise to lend whatever assistance we can."
"And just what kind of assistance can you lend?" the sheriff inquired. "UNCLE assistance? Federal assistance? Communist assistance?"
"None of the above," stated Napoleon without batting an eye. "We are speaking now only as the Alpha Sentinel and Guide of North America… until someone else can come along and make a better claim than us."
Sheriff Richardson took a thoughtful sip of coffee, but made no immediate reply. After a moment his wife did.
"Adam doesn't mean to be rude," she said. "And naturally, we've heard the rumors… that some Russian Sentinel was 'taking over' all the Sentinels and Guides in the US. Of course, we know you're not really 'taking over'..."
"I am glad to hear you say so," Napoleon replied. "Illya and I have enough work as UNCLE agents, and we have our own boss who demands most of our time. But we had an experience in Europe a few years ago, where we found out that Sentinels over there have a sort of social hierarchy… along with a fairly formal network and territory protocols. Now this isn't Europe, and we're never going to do things exactly the way they do, but we've come to see how having a communication system at least can come in pretty handy. The current situation is a case in point."
"So you are here to talk about the Guide dreams," the sheriff said.
"We are," Illya answered. "And the fact that you clearly know them to be a phenomenon beyond your own Guide tells me that you already have some kind of local Sentinel network operating here."
"I suppose we do at that," said Dot. "It's not anything formal."
"It doesn't have to be," Napoleon said. "As long as you've got some way of getting the word out, and of hearing what's going on with neighboring Sentinels."
"So what are other people saying about this Guide dream?" the sheriff asked.
"Everyone who has spoken to us about it has described a strong sense of urgency," Illya said, though his words belied the state of panic Napoleon had woken in just two weeks ago, bolting upright in bed in the middle of the night, crying "Stop! Stop the defiler!"
"The very morning after I first had the dream," Napoleon continued. "A Guide we met a couple of years ago called us up and described the very same dream, but in greater detail. She said that all Sentinels and Guides are called by this dream to protect some special place, 'sacred to Sentinels' which, was in danger of being harmed in some way. Within days we had received reports of Guides all over the country experiencing the same dream, to the point that even UNCLE was getting these reports. The consensus we've been able to gain so far is that this sacred place is in the west, possibly on a mountain, and in some natural area."
"The very next morning after I had my first dream," said Dot after a moment's reflection, "we had the first report from a commercial pilot about seeing a laser in their cockpit."
"And what date was that?" Napoleon asked, drawing a notebook from his breast pocket. The discussion that followed was somewhat tedious, and involved Dot running home to return with their kitchen calendar, but resulted the kind of irrefutable data that any Sentinel, or UNCLE agent, would relish. What they eventually worked out was that Napoleon, Dot, and a handful of the strongest Guides in the US had all had the dream on the same night, before anyone else. Like ripples in a pond, other Guides, starting with those who lived in Northern California, came to experience the dream over the next few days, and every time there was a report of a laser sighting, the phenomenon repeated itself.
The laser incidents were absolutely connected with the dreams, and furthermore, the epicenter seemed to be right here, in Marin County, possibly on Mount Tam.
"So is it a coincidence that this Pendragon character seems to be operating in close proximity to some Sacred Sentinel spot?" Illya asked over the meal of hamburgers, fries and shakes which they'd carried in to their hotel room later that night.
"Or, was there something about the place that attracted him?" Napoleon mused. "I wish Abigail had been able to tell us more about what this 'sacred place' was all about."
"So does she," Illya replied, for indeed, their Guide friend from Chillicothe had expressed frustration at how much she didn't know.
"The more of this New World Sentinel lore I try to collect, the more I realize how much has been lost," she'd commented in her last conference call with UNCLE.
"Perhaps we should be talking to our European contacts," Napoleon suggested. "Whatever 'sacred places' we may have lost knowledge of here in the US, there must be something equivalent in Europe that is still known."
Illya agreed and Napoleon added that note to his nightly report. While Napoleon called that report in to UNCLE headquarters, Illya cleaned up the burger wrappers and prepared for their usual evening 'nesting'. In the four years they'd been working together as a Sentinel-Guide pair for UNCLE, they'd developed their own routines for missions. They didn't always get to sleep in a bed when out in the field, but when they did, and one of them was not required to be on watch, they made sure to spend some time together, just relaxing and basking in each others' presence. It strengthened and renewed their bond, kept the connection between them clear and sharp, and refilled often badly drained energy reserves. An hour or two of nesting at the outset of a mission would keep them on their feet and able to endure much for many days.
"Join me in the shower?" Illya asked as Napoleon signed off.
"You know it," Napoleon answered with relish.
By now, they knew each other's scars by heart, and by touch. Illya didn't see Napoleon's various scars as imperfections or flaws; on the contrary, he saw them as an integral part of the man he loved. He sought them out on his lover's body as Illya drew Napoleon into his arms under the shower spray. His fingers paused over every rough patch or irregularity, communicating with kisses and touches, by these marks I know you; by these travails have you become the one I love.
Napoleon did the same with him, turning in Illya's arms to meet his lips in a kiss, hands moving over Illya's body to seek their own familiar flaws. This mutual inspection and recognition was always the first part of their routine, and might on some occasions be followed by a mutual pleasuring, but on others, as tonight, merely concluded with a thorough washing up, with their own unscented soap.
Out of the shower they dried each other, then retired to the bed where they could let their bodies and minds relax, each immersing themselves in the other. For Illya this was the time he could let his senses extend to their fullest, all focused on his Guide. For Napoleon this was when he could let down his guard and let Illya in, to fill him with the presence he knew and trusted, to shield him from all others.
Illya loved the feeling of Napoleon's body relaxing in his arms, knowing that his Guide was never so relaxed anywhere else. Napoleon gathered his Sentinel's hands together to lift them to his lips, then held them over his heart.
"I know you want to protect me from these dreams," Napoleon said. "And you think you can't, but you do, you know."
"How is that?" Illya asked skeptically. He hated hearing Napoleon's terrified cry in the middle of the night, knowing that it was no enemy he could fight that caused it.
"The dreams themselves can't harm me, you know," Napoleon reminded him. "And even when something awful is happening in the dream, I know you're there beside me, and I'm safe."
"But there's something, or someone, that isn't safe," Illya said, frowning. "They know what it is." He glanced, as he spoke to the foot of the bed where Napoleon's spirit guide otter could be seen, and just beyond it, where Illya's falcon perched on top of the tv.
"And they'll help us find it," Napoleon said. "Tomorrow, when we get to Mount Tam, we'll let them lead the way."
Glancing up from where his lover lay in his arms, Illya met the steely gaze of his falcon, and knew it to be true.