The Synthetic Storm Affair
By I.G. Edmonds
Volume 3, Issue 4
Deadly beyond belief was the secret THRUSH had learned—how to goad Nature herself into a frenzy that could ravage the world as Illya and Solo sought the perverted madman who could summon the very hurricane of hell to do his bidding.
The Atoll of a Thousand Deaths, men called it. From it maddened nature would unleash a storm which would engulf all mankind, unless Solo and Illya could get there before it was too late—and still stay alive!
ACT I: A STORMY FUTURE
ACT II: THE STRANGE STORM
ACT III: THE STORM GIRL
ACT IV: VANISHING LADY
ACT V: "SO LONG, LUPE!"
ACT VI: WATERLOO?
ACT VII: GIRL IN THE DARK
ACT VIII: INTO THE STORM
ACT IX: THE CRASH
ACT X: THE THRUSH OUTPOST
ACT XI: THE PASSING STORM
ACT I: A STORMY FUTURE
It had been a most trying business, that Stolen Steamer Affair, and Napoleon Solo, felt that he had earned a good rest. And what better way to spend a vacation in Rio than in the company of an extremely beautiful woman?
Solo surveyed himself in the full length mirror in his suite in Rio de Janeiro. Slender, medium height, with dark hair and a cleft chin, he admitted that he wasn't exactly a Dracula in appearance. But he also wondered what there was about him that beat the time of two Hollywood movie stars for the company of luscious Lula LaAmour.
Lula, along with the other Hollywood types, was in Rio to film an extravaganza called "Rompin' in Rio." Napoleon had only asked her for a date from force of habit he had when meeting any lovely unattached young woman.
It surprised him when she accepted instead of taking up invitations from the handsome actors. Movie stars aren't easy to date. But although he thought her crazy, he was grateful for her idiocy. Lula was the new Marilyn Monroe. A latter-day version of Jean Harlow. The reincarnated spirit of original vampire, Theda Bara.
Napoleon Solo adjusted the carnation in his evening clothes lapel and thought with genuine pleasure of the envy his entrance with the film queen would elicit from his colleagues, Illya Kuryakin and Mark Slate. He even hoped that April Dancer, the Girl from U.N.C.L.E., would be a bit jealous.
Solo grinned at his image. "We know how Don Juan must have felt, eh, old chap?" he said.
He looked at his watch. It was almost time to pick up Lula. He started for the door and stopped when he remembered that he had not called Illya Kuryakin, to let the other U.N.C.L.E. agent know that he would not be available that evening for anything less than a four-alarm emergency.
But as he walked over to pick up the telephone, it rang. He picked it up.
"Harmon," he said, using the name he was registered under.
"Mr. Harmon?" Napoleon recognized the slightly Spanish accent of the hotel desk clerk. "I have a message for you from New York. The gentleman who called said it was most urgent."
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. sighed. He had an unhappy vision of the technicolored image of Lula LaAmour vanishing as a curtain marked "business" drew across the screen.
"Yes?" he said wearily, "What is the message?"
"The caller said to inform you that the closing market in New York is decidedly unsteady."
"Thank you," Napoleon said with ill grace.
He dropped the telephone into its cradle and considered the cryptic message. He understood it. U.N.C.L.E. headquarters wanted him to call it. Thoughtfully he took a silver fountain pen from his pocket and twisted the cap. A tiny antenna shot up six inches.
"Central Control." He said into the ultra-miniature transmitter built into the fake pen.
The electronic wizardry of the tiny communications set bridged the distance to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York with face-to-face clarity.
"Mr. Solo?" a slightly English accented voice said from the set.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Waverly," Solo replied to his chief's brief question.
"What is her name, Mr. Solo?" the U.N.C.L.E. chief said.
"Whose name, sir?" Napoleon answered.
"The lady whose escort for the evening I am stealing."
"You won't believe me, but is Lula LaAmour."
"Buxom only in the right places, sir."
"Well, her type can always find a substitute escort, fortunately."
"But my type can't find a substitute for her type!"
"Fortunately, Mr. Solo," Alexander Waverly went on. "I never let my emotions interfere with business. Do you, Mr. Solo?"
Napoleon Solo sighed.
"No, sir, I do not," Solo said sadly, "but only because you will not let me."
"An excellent observation, Mr. Solo," Waverly said. "I need you on a matter of the gravest concern. I also need Mr. Kuryakin. I suppose he has one of these actresses dated for the evening?"
"No, sir," Solo said. "He is having dinner with April Dancer."
"Then I will have three of my operatives upset for the price of two."
"Yes, sir," Napoleon said.
"I assure you, Mr. Solo, that this is a matter of the utmost importance or I would not interrupt your well earned vacation. It is so urgent that every second counts. Every second! The lives of thousands now and millions later depend upon prompt and decisive action."
"Yes, sir," Solo replied crisply. "What is the problem?"
"There is registered at the Quitandinha Hotel a man named Senor Pablo de Santos-Lopez. This man is a world reknown meteorologist and has been working in South Argentina on a revolutionary method of breaking up storms. We have a tip that this man's life is in extreme danger. Protect him at all costs."
"Yes, sir," Solo said. "Is THRUSH involved?"
"Yes," Waverly replied. "We are not sure just how, but THRUSH agents are showing an extraordinary interest in Dr. Santos-Lopez. We believe they intend to kidnap him."
"I see, sir," Solo said. "If Santos-Lopez can really break up storms, it would be an important war weapon."
"This man has been very secretive about his experiments," Waverly said. "But it stands to reason that if a man can break a storm, he may be in a fair way to discover how to start one!"
"That would really be something," Napoleon said. His face grew grave at the implications. "I believe I've read that typhoons carry the destructive fury of a thousand atomic bombs."
"That is correct, Mr. Solo," Waverly said. "A weapon like that in the hands of THRUSH could be disastrous. I do not know that there is such a weapon, mind you, but it is a chance we cannot afford to take. You see now how grave the situation is."
"Yes, sir," Napoleon Solo replied. "Illya and I will get on it at once. Is there any evidence of a direct contact between this meteorologist and THRUSH?"
"There was a conference between this man and a THRUSH agent in Buenos Aires three days ago," Waverly said. "Apparently it was not a satisfactory one. Santos-Lopez left the city under an assumed name and came to Rio. He is registered at the hotel as Senor Diego de Vega. He seems afraid, according to my information."