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.
Act II: "... the defiler posing as a pillar of the community."
The man was dark skinned, which was not readily discernible in the half light, but the profile of his 'afro' hairstyle confirmed what the light did not. He was tall as well, even taller than Napoleon, but there was nothing threatening about him… now that he'd removed the knife from Napoleon's throat. In fact, he seemed almost deferential to him, but that would be because he was a Sentinel as well.
"I beg your pardon, Sentinel," he said, formal, but sincere.
"Pardon given," Illya replied with equal decorum. "I can see you were protecting your own."
It took Napoleon a moment to realize what Illya meant, but then he glanced at the woman who had just stepped up to stand beside the stranger Sentinel, and Napoleon figured it out. She was his Guide.
Could these be the 'fugitives' they'd been hearing about? Napoleon was not so naive as to be surprised that a Sentinel—particularly a black one—had come to be a fugitive from the law, but he was curious to know the story.
"He is protecting more than you know," the woman said. "If your interest is in the good of all people, you will not give us away."
Illya frowned, and Napoleon could feel the conflict between his recently riled Sentinel instincts and his duty to the law as an UNCLE agent. It was situations like this that Guides needed to step in.
"Perhaps introductions are in order," Napoleon suggested. "I am Napoleon Solo, agent of the U.N.C.L.E., and this is my Sentinel, Illya Kuryakin, and partner in UNCLE."
"I am Guide Ayisha Washington," the woman replied. "And this is my Sentinel, James Deangelo. We came here from Oakland after I had a dream, to come and protect the Holy Place."
"The dream sent you here?" Napoleon asked. The only answer she gave at first was a look of astonishment.
"You mean… you know what I'm talking about?" she stammered. "You know about the dream?"
"I had the dream, Miss Washington, more times than I can count, along with hundreds of other Guides all over the country," Napoleon answered. "It told me to 'stop the defiler', but I had no idea where or what was being defiled."
"The Holy Place that lies at the top of this mountain," James spoke up at last. "Only Sentinels can find it."
"I was beginning to suspect as much," Illya said. "Just as I suspect that the defiler is none other than our Mr Artos."
James nodded solemnly. "I can confirm your suspicions," he said. "For we have a witness."
There was no doubt in Napoleon's mind that this witness would prove to be young Henry. A glance exchanged with Illya as they followed the Sentinel and his Guide back to their camp confirmed that Illya thought the same. It was full dark when James signalled them to stop, then made a whistling sound that Napoleon assumed was some sort of bird cry.
From within what appeared to be a large thicket just ahead, a light now shone, revealing an opening which had been hidden by a tarp. Ayisha stepped forward to crouch at the low doorway.
"We have a couple of visitors," she said. "Tam, 'Mundo, we need you to come out and start your watch early."
From within the depths of the shelter two young people emerged—Napoleon guessed them to be just past their teens—pushing past Ayisha to stand before their Sentinel. Or perhaps, Napoleon mused, it would be more accurate to say, their Alpha, for they were a Sentinel and Guide pair too.
"Sentinel Kuryakin, Guide Solo," James introduced. "This is Sentinel Tam Kwan and his Guide, 'Mundo Chavez. They came with us from Oakland."
"Sentinel Kuryakin," the young Sentinel asked. "Do you happen to know if any other searchers are looking in this area?"
"Not as far as I know," Illya replied, "But if the Sheriff joins the search he'll be here before long. Henry left a fairly obvious trail, to any Sentinel."
"The Sheriff is a Sentinel?" 'Mundo asked.
"He is, and we've met him," Napoleon confirmed. "If you run across him, tell him we're with you."
James seemed somewhat unhappy about this possibility, but said nothing beyond wishing Tam and 'Mundo 'good hunting' and gesturing Illya and Napoleon to follow him inside. The ceiling was low, but the brush and tarp shelter they now found themselves in was considerably more spacious that Napoleon would have suspected. It was built against one wall of a gully, with the outer walls made of layers of tarps and branches so that none of the light from the string of tiny bulbs strung across the ceiling and wired into a car battery, escaped. From the outside, he figured, it was probably just as invisible during the day as it was at night.
Old carpets covered the ground where they were invited to sit, along with two other young women who'd been lounging on the rolled up sleeping bags against the back wall, playing cards with a boy who looked to be around 12 or 13 years old.
"Sentinel Esperanza Jimenez, and Sentinel, Lwazi Kenya," James introduced the two—a Latina around the same age as the pair who'd gone out to keep watch and a black teenager wearing a traditional African head cloth and bright colored tunic over her wiry frame.
"How long have you been here?" Napoleon asked, glancing around at the very lived-in looking space.
"Since the dreams started," Ayisha answered. "Around the beginning of March."
"Unfortunately," James added, "it was also around that time that Ayisha's brother was implicated in an Oakland bank robbery. One of the guards was shot and a witness claims to have seen him driving the getaway car."
"Which is such bullshit, 'cause Royal cain't even drive," Lwazi said angrily. "They named him 'cause they think he was with the Panthers, like his sister."
"Now the DA is saying that they gonna prove that the whole robbery was planned by the Black Panthers," Esperanza continued. "They sayin' that's why James and Ayisha gone away, so the police looking for all of us now."
"I… appreciate your situation," Napoleon said after a moment. "But you surely realize that being found harboring a missing boy is not going to make your situation any better."
"You think I don't know that?" James said, coming to sit heavily on the carpet across from the two UNCLE men. "But what was I supposed to do? Leave him cold and alone in the woods all night? Or worse, let him fall back into the hands of the defiler posing as a pillar of the community, camped outside our Holy place?"
"Make no mistake," Illya said. "I'd have done no different, and we came here for the same reasons you did, to stop the defiler."
"Would it be possible for us to hear this young man's testimony for ourselves?" Napoleon asked.
"Whatta you say, Mr Henry?" Esperanza called back to the young man still sitting at the back. "You wanna talk to these gringos?"
"Ayisha said Guides can tell you're saying the truth, if you are," Henry said. "According to her, I ain't lying."
"We know you have no reason to lie," Illya said. "And for that reason, your account of what you saw could be quite important. We came all the way here from New York because we believe that something bad is happening here—something we need to stop. Anything you know about it could help."
Henry stood and came forward, eventually sitting between Esperanza and Lwazi where they scooted aside to make a space for him. "You came here all the way from New York?" he asked.
Napoleon chuckled. "Well, UNCLE, the agency Illya and I work for, sends us on missions all over the world. For us, this is relatively close to home."
"For you, maybe," Illya quipped.
"You a Rooskie, Sentinel Kuryakin?" Esperanza asked.
"I am a citizen of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Russia," Illya said, "but UNCLE is an international organization, with agents from nearly every country."
"My dad says Russian people are just the same as us," Henry offered, "only their government isn't so nice."
"Out of the mouths of babes…" Napoleon said with a smirk. Illya rolled his eyes.
"So your bosses at UNCLE deem this situation here worth sending a pair of their agents?" James asked.
"One of their top pairs, in fact," Napoleon replied. "There are more than a few Sentinel Guide pairs working as UNCLE agents, and the administration has always taken Sentinel concerns seriously. A situation so significant as to raise dreams in nearly every Guide in North America certainly merited a mission."
Young Henry's eyes widened as he came to see how seriously all the Sentinels and Guides around him regarded the situation. He cleared his throat and looked down at his shoes before speaking. "I dunno what I saw exactly. It was late at night and I really had to pee—that's why I was up. Anyway, I kinda got lost finding the latrines and when I saw a light, I thought it was them. Pretty soon I could see it wasn't the latrines. It was Mr Artos' camper, but he didn't usually leave a light on there, so I thought there was maybe some trouble." He tapered off here to push his hair out of his eyes.
"I never seen him go into that trailer before, but what I saw… It looked like the roof was open in the back and there was some kind of machine coming out the top… and maybe it looked like… I dunno, some kind of gun or weapon or something. I mean, it wasn't like any kind of real gun I know about, more like… like some kinda sci fi laser gun… but that's nuts… isn't it?"
"In fact, it is not." Illya said, which only made Henry's expression grow more alarmed.
"Well, anyhow, I just had a gut feeling I shouldn't be seeing any of it," he continued. "So I found the latrines and a did my stuff, and then when I came out, there was Frankie."
"Ah," said Napoleon. "We talked to Frankie, but he omitted to mention this."
"I swear, it was him," Henry said, distressed. Lwazi laid a hand on his shoulder. "We know," she said.
"We do not doubt you, Henry," Napoleon clarified. "Very little of what Frankie said to me was true, and much was left out. Please continue."
"Well he pretty much told me that I was dead if I said a word to anyone about what I saw," Henry replied. "That's when I decided to take off."
"So" said Napoleon after a pause."Mr Artos is our Pendragon."
"The evidence does seem conclusive," Illya concurred.
"Who or what is Pendragon?" James inquired.
"It is the name used by the person or party who has been threatening to bring down planes flying in the vicinity of the San Francisco International Airport with a laser weapon of some sort," Illya answered. "Discovering the identity of this 'Pendragon' and thwarting his plans is the main thrust of our mission here for UNCLE."
"A real laser gun?" Henry said, wide eyed."That's what I saw?"
"Very likely," Napoleon said. "And I'll wager that if we found out all the dates of Artos' previous camping trips, we'd find them concurrent with all the previous attacks."
"What attacks?" Ayisha asked. "There wasn't anything about that in the news."
"Authorities have discounting them as harmless pranks," Illya said. "So as not to alarm the public, and so far, all he's done is tag the cockpits with a low intensity beam."
"He's surrounded himself with hostages," Ayish said, quiet anger in her voice. "We could catch him in the act tonight, but it would put the rest of the boys at a terrible risk."
"I agree," Napoleon said and his Sentinel nodded. "We need to report all of this to headquarters. Do you happen to know if you get any radio signals down here?"
"It's how we keep up with the news," James said, pointing at a transistor radio in the corner. "Why?"
Napoleon drew his communicator pen from his jacket pocket and extended the antenna by way of an answer. Henry's eyes bugged out even further when a voice emanated from the device in response to Napoleon's call for an open channel.
"What have you to report, Agent Solo?" Mr Waverly inquired from New York, where it was later in the evening than he usually stayed at the office. Something was up.
"We're fairly sure that we have the identity of Pendragon, sir, to start with," Napoleon reported. "His name is Leroy Artos and he is currently posing as a youth mentor in San Rafael California. Furthermore, he seems to be preparing to run another test tonight."
"It's no test he's preparing for tonight, Agent Solo." Waverly's voice was deadly serious. "We received his ultimatum early this morning: either the money is delivered by midnight tonight or a plane goes down."
"Holy shit!" Esperanza exclaimed, then clapped her hands over her mouth when Lwazi glared at her.
"It is essential that you put a stop to this man's schemes tonight, before midnight," Waverly ordered. Illya exchanged glances with Napoleon, then took the communicator.
"Understood sir," Illya said into the microphone, "but I must inform you that he is operating under the cover of a boys' camping trip, and that there are currently some forty or so young boys sleeping in tents all around the trailer where Artos has his laser set up."
"That is… unfortunate," Waverly replied."I presume you are in touch with the local authorities?"
"We are, sir," Napoleon answered.
"Use all the resources you have to hand, Agents," Waverly finished, "but Pendragon must be stopped, with as little collateral damage as you can manage. Waverly out."
"Man, they don't cut you much slack, do they?" said Esperanza.
"There is very little slack to be cut here, Sentinel Jimenez," James replied seriously. "The defiler must be stopped, and the innocent must be protected. We will help you in any way we can."
"Your help could be instrumental, Sentinel Deangelo," Napoleon said. "If you and your people could bring the campers out, as quietly as possible, before we move in on Artos…"
Ayisha nodded. "Yes, that would be our best chance, and the best use of our talents," she said.
"Good," Napoleon said, glancing over at Illya to see what he would suggest as far as their strategy, when another whistling bird cry was heard from outside the shelter.
"That's Tam!" Lwazi said.
"It's the signal for intruders," said Ayisha.
"I expect that will be the sheriff," said Illya. "Shall we go meet him?"
No one but a Sentinel would have heard him, but Illya did and knew that Sheriff Nathan Richardson would be aware of them as well. They walked a few yards up the hill away from the shelter, James and Ayesha following in their wake, and waited.
"He's here without his Guide," Illya murmured to Napoleon, who nodded, unsurprised.
"He's old fashioned," he replied. "Thinks it's too dangerous for her out in the field. She probably isn't far, though, possibly waiting in a car at the trailhead."
When he had approached close enough that even Napoleon sensed him, Illya called out a greeting. "Well met, Sentinel Richardson."
"Sentinel Kuryakin, Guide Solo," Richardson replied, stepping out from the shadows. "I take it you have the boy here?"
"Young Henry is not far, and in good hands," Napoleon answered.
"Whose hands?" came the immediate question. Illya saw Napoleon draw a breath for a full and diplomatic answer, but he was cut off.
"Ours," said James, stepping forward with his Guide at his side.
Richardson turned his look of outrage on Illya."You left the boy in the hands of a gang of fugitive criminals?"
"We are neither fugitives nor criminals, Sentinel Richardson," James said with stiff formality.
"Are you not Nakuru Washington?" Richardson demanded. Ayisha answered.
"Nakuru is my brother," she said."And I have no idea where he is. This is my Sentinel, James Deangelo, and we are here on Sentinel business, just as these two gentlemen are."
"Surely you did not miss that this man is a Sentinel," Napoleon slipped in with steely cordiality. "The others keeping an eye on Henry are also Sentinels and a Guide. I don't think he could be in safer hands, do you?"
Richardson frowned, glancing between the two UNCLE men and James and Ayisha. "If they've been camping here all this time, that's a violation of State Park regulations."
"It is true, we have broken that regulation," James said."And whatever fine may be levied against us, we will pay it. I promise you as well that once we are gone, you will find no sign that we were ever here. We did not even light a fire."
Illya could attest to that. From what he'd been able to make out in the shelter, they'd all been subsisting on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Slim Jims and pretzel sticks the whole time.
"Sentinel Richardson," Napoleon stepped in once more."We've met with the boy, taken his testimony and seen to it that he's safe and protected. Unfortunately, he's not just a runaway, but a material witness in the case that we came here to investigate."
"What… that laser business?" Richardson was incredulous.
"Were you able to speak to your Deputy, Mr Kendall, before you set off on the boy's scent trail?" Illya asked.
"Yes…" Richardson answered. "Are you talking about your theory that Leroy Artos is some kind of… stunted Sentinel, who shouldn't be around kids? I can't say that I'd put much store in it.The man is a pillar of the community."
"What better a disguise for a man bent on such mayhem?" Illya pointed out. "And young Henry's statement to us, before we said anything about our mission or the laser attacks, included descriptions of Artos setting up what was unmistakably a laser weapon. He has it hidden in his trailer."
"And that's why he ran?" Richardson said, clearly finding all this difficult to digest.
"He ran because another boy threatened to kill him if he told," Napoleon said.
"That would be Frankie Albertson?" Richardson said.
"It would," Napoleon answered."Did you get a chance to speak with him?"
"I did," Richardson answered, "and so did Dot. She says you're right about his being a naiscent Guide."
"Sentinel Richardson," Ayisha spoke up now. "I invite you to come to our camp and speak to the boy yourself. There is more we must discuss all together, for the situation is more urgent than you know."
Once again the Sheriff looked uneasily between the two pairs of Sentinels and Guides. Illya didn't need Napoleon to tell him that the man was reluctant to be in such close proximity to so many black people, though his Sentinel instincts had to be telling him that they were safe. He finally bade them to lead the way and followed, and was as surprised as the UNCLE men had been when the shelter was revealed.