"Quigly, where's that file?" The stressed out assistant was flustered at the current mood her boss was in. He was tossing things around, his eyes seemed bloodshot and, if she looked again she thought maybe he was starting to foam at the mouth. As she recoiled from the sight of it, the man began to bleed from his eyes and a piercing shriek preceded a total collapse.
Shelly Quigly shrieked as well as she ran from the office and out into the hallway of the big firm in which she worked. Staten, Staten and Berg was one of the largest law firms in Manhattan, and now one of the Statens was dead.
Alexander Waverly shuffled some papers on his desk in search of the pipe he had only moments before held in his hand. Blast it all, where was his secretary?
"Miss Quigly, please come in here and help me sort through these, um… papers." The summons was met with immediate action; the pneumatic doors open with a whisper and the newly acquired secretary, Marlene Quigly, hurried into the office of the head of UNCLE Northwest.
"Mr. Waverly sir, what can I do to help?" She was solicitous and came highly recommended from one of the top law firms in the city. Poor girl had been through a terrible ordeal it seemed, but she was on the spot as secretary to the Old Man.
"Yes, well… um, I seem to have misplaced…' his hands were still searching and like magic, the pipe was where it had last been seen.
"Oh, well I'll be… well, never mind. Just the same, please help me clear this desk and perhaps you can file some of these away for me." He felt strange, a little bit of a headache was coming on.
"Mr. Waverly, you look tired. Perhaps a nap or …"
"No, no naps. I don't have time for naps." He snapped at her, an uncharacteristic response to her kindness. Marlene thought back to the horrible scene with Mr. Staten, remembered how he had reacted after his morning coffee. She looked at Waverly's half full cup of tea.
"Sir, perhaps if you finish your tea you'll feel better." Her tone made him feel comforted somehow, in spite of the splitting headache.
"Yes, tea… a spot of tea…" Was he seeing double? Something was off, and the old spymaster was suddenly alert to the signs of trouble that seemed to be mounting. He touched the intercom, the direct line to Mr. Solo's office.
A buzzing sound alerted Napoleon to something he both dreaded and responded to with a swiftness borne of training and loyalty. Waverly was down, in his own office. The intercom system had been added to Waverly's arsenal of buttons after the Brain Killer Affair. The Old Man was to be as well protected as possible.
"Illya! Waverly's office, something's wrong up there."
The two men ran to Waverly's office, grabbing two other agents as they sped past them. No amount of training ever prepared them for the eventuality of Waverly's demise, and if possible they were going to prevent it at all costs. They reached the doors in record time, rushed inside to find Alexander Waverly seated, his devoted new secretary hovering over him as she tried to force tea down his throat.
"Stop what you're doing! Stand back or …" Marlene made a sudden move and Illya shot her with a sleep dart. There was no point in being generous in his estimation of the situation. She had the cup and Waverly looked stricken.
"Call for a medical team" Napoleon barked out the orders as the other agents complied. Within a few minutes Waverly was heading to Medical on a gurney, his ramblings turning to shouts and whimpers of agony.
Illya smelled the tea, his acute senses picking up the faint odor of a poison he knew from his Soviet training.
"I think we may have a serial killer on our hands, Napoleon. Her former employer died in a manner that was suspicious, and I believe Mr. Waverly would have met a similar fate had he not triggered that alarm. We made it, quite literally, in the nick of time." Illya's expression was stern, and as Marlene came back to consciousness a few hours later, her fate was virtually sealed by the stream of evidence quickly compiled against her.
Alexander Waverly recovered, but his stay in Medical lasted a few days longer than his patience for it. Napoleon handled the day to day in his absence, but when the Old Man was once again in his seat of power, UNCLE felt once again like the bastion of reason and order for which it was created.
Another round of danger and near misses would not hinder the mission of the U.N.C.L.E., or the vision of Alexander Waverly.