“You know, when I was a young man, well just a bit younger then I am today…”
Scarlet shook his head, whilst trying not to laugh at Magenta. The latter was staring at the gym wall, whilst sitting on the running machine, reminiscing about his childhood memories to his friend.
“I used to love the snow. Everything was so pure white, with a lovely crunch under your foot when you stepped into it,” Magenta continued.
It was only two weeks ’til Christmas and a lot of lights and hanging decorations had been put up on all levels of Skybase. There was a big tree in the control room that the Angels had decorated, with lots and lots of baubles, stars and snow decorations, and a smaller one in the viewing room that had so much tinsel on, it was almost a health and safety hazard.
“Yes, but the problem was, when I was a child, Mario, we didn’t have many white Christmases,” Scarlet said in turn, thinking back. “It was either rain, or sun. So you’re lucky.”
“Yes, well, it wasn’t always good, to be honest; I was afraid Santa Claus wouldn’t be able to fly because the snow was too heavy and thick!”
Scarlet just smiled. `Yeah that sounds like you,’ he thought. ‘More worried about presents then the meaning of it.’
“But, did you ever manage to stay awake to see him come to your house?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think I ever did. I tried my hardest, but I think my mom used to knock me out with something, so I wouldn’t be awake to see her put my stocking by my bed.”
“No, she would never do a thing like that!” said Scarlet, looking at him. “It’s all a lie Mario. Come on, admit it: you just didn’t have the stamina.”
“Oh, you’re so nice. What about you, did –”
Just then, the voice of Lieutenant Green emerged from the speakers, requesting that Captains Scarlet and Blue were to head to the Control room immediately.
Magenta sighed. “Oh well, nice to think back, but life has to go on now.”
Scarlet took his leave of him, and walked out of the gym to head to the control room.
“Captains,” Colonel White started after his two officers had taken place on the seats in front of him, “we have a problem at Technewology, a science company in London, UK. Three staff members have suddenly disappeared. Miss Eliza June, Mr Robert Jones and Mr Jeffrey Cotz. They all work in the same department, creating a new, very advanced microchip which, put into anything that is electric, makes that particular item think for itself. Why you would want that to happen is beyond me,” he added to himself. “Anyway, the three of them were working in their room. Then the CCTV showed them going down to reception, one by one. And then… they vanished… like into thin air. One minute they were there on camera… and the next... They were gone.”
White pressed a button, and the screen on the wall behind him became alive, with the footage in question. Scarlet and Blue watched and were totally amazed, when, right before their eyes, the three scientists literally vanished from the screen. They had never seen anything like that before.
“There could be someone fiddling with the cameras?” Scarlet suggested.
“Yes, I thought that as well,” Colonel White said, looking very concerned. “But Lieutenant Green couldn’t see any skip of time or any picture changes, so it may well be they have, just as the footage suggested, just vanished.”
“Not even the Mysterons have done that yet!” said Blue.
“And yet, who else but them could pull a trick like this?” Scarlet replied, musing.
“My thoughts exactly,” Colonel White said it in a way that he was agreeing with him. “That’s why I want the two of you to visit the laboratory and see if you can get any answers. Because the rest of the staff cannot come up with anything. They are just plain confused, at this point. Talk to the head of security. His name is John Syth. The last news we received from him was that his security guards were still looking for the three missing people. And you’d better wear some warmer gear; the temperature isn’t very high today, in London.”
Blue and Scarlet nodded and left the control room.
They went up to vehicle bay and
into the Hummingbird already prepared for take off.
An hour had passed, and all Scarlet did was wonder how on Earth June, Jones and Cotz could just have vanished. Blue was right: so far, the Mysterons had not showed they were able to perform a trick like that. If this was indeed orchestrated by them, was that a capacity they had kept from the Earthmen, so to surprise them when the time would be right? Or had they come up with something that they could now use? A new weapon of some sort? And why using it against these people at Technewology? Was there any reason for that choice?
Questions, questions… He hated it when there were too many questions, especially when he couldn’t answer them.
“How much longer to go, Adam?” he asked his colleague, noticing that the sky wasn’t looking quite as clear as it was two minutes before. He knew they were close, but he couldn’t see the outlines of the city below.
“Not far, Paul,” Blue replied, whilst keeping an eye on the flashing circle on the screen which indicated their position. “Keep north, and you should see it in a few minutes.”
Five minutes latter, they arrived at the Technewology building. Scarlet landed the Hummingbird in a nearby park, which was the property of the company. They stepped out of the craft and made their way towards the building.
“Moles get everywhere,” an observant Blue blurted out, as he noticed the many holes in the lawn.
“Come on, let’s get in there and get some answers,” Scarlet said.
They walked fast to the silver front door which had a huge glass pane permitting to see inside. They saw two security guards at the desk, who appeared to be waiting for them. They had obviously seen the landing of their Hummingbird.
Once inside, the Spectrum officers introduced themselves to the two security guards and showed them their IDs. The shorter of the two men was John Syth, the head of security. Blue asked him if there had been any new development, or any discovery made since Technewology had contacted Spectrum.
“No, no luck,” Syth answered. “We kept on searching for Cotz and the others, but they obviously aren’t in the building. We have no idea where they have got to.”
“It’s got to be aliens!” the taller man by his side joked. “Aliens took them to experiment on.”
He failed to notice the awkward expression on the two Spectrum officers’ faces.
“This is not funny, Martin,” Syth said right in his companion’s face. “Three people have gone missing, and we could get fired for this!”
“Ok, you two, that’s enough,” Scarlet said, a bit annoyed. “This is getting us nowhere. Please take us to the room all three of them were in before they disappeared.”
“Sure,” Syth said. “It’s up to Level One. Please follow me.”
Just as John Syth was about to take the captains up, Martin suddenly looked at the four huge mirrors that were hanging on the wall on the left side of the security desk. He had seen something out of the corner of his eye. He froze instantly.
It was the reflection of a woman waving at him.
“Wait! Here’s Miss June!”
That stopped the others in their tracks, and they turned to him.
“Where?” Scarlet asked with a frown.
Martin looked near the mirrors and all around but could not see anyone about.
“I could have sworn…”
He looked back at the mirror. The reflection was still there, and it looked like Miss June was still waving at him, but this time, she was also yelling something, but he couldn’t hear a single thing.
And then, in the second mirror, a new reflection appeared. It was Robert Jones.
In shock, Martin just stared. He could not understand what was going on. Syth approached him, wondering what was going on.
“Martin, what is it? Where did you see –” He then noticed the direction of Martin’s eyes and turned to the mirrors.
He gasped and paled.
Scarlet and Blue, standing by his side, saw exactly the same thing, and were as astounded to discover the two people in the mirrors – but with no-one standing in font of them to throw any reflections.
The four men quickly walked right up to the mirrors. In all appearance, it looked like the people were trapped on the other side, and they were now both yelling and banging on the surface, obviously begging to get out.
“How is that possible?” Scarlet asked, putting his hand on the smooth surface of the first mirror. He saw Miss June trying to grab his hand, but obviously, she couldn’t get through the barrier. She was getting panicky.
“It’s got to be a Mysteron trick!” Blue muttered.
Scarlet looked at Blue, and then back at the two scientists, trapped behind the mirror.
“There’s two, but where’s the other man?” Scarlet said to his colleague.
“We can’t hear what they’re saying,” Blue said in turn. “But can they hear us?”
Scarlet and Blue saw them nod their heads and yell, although they couldn’t make out what their words could be.
“They can hear us,” Scarlet said. “Right, how did they get in there? And how do we get them out?”
“Blimey!” Syth muttered. He was pale as a sheet and was staring at the two trapped people beyond the mirrors. “Do you guys often see things like this?”
“Not often, no,” Blue answered, as he examined the mirror’s surface. “In fact… that’s the first time.”
“There’s still only two of them,” Scarlet said. “Where’s Mr Cotz?” He watched the two captives. Each of them was inside a single mirror, and seemed oblivious to the presence of the other. They obviously couldn’t communicate, and possibly couldn’t even see each other.
They were going frantic.
“Ok, Miss June, Mr Jones,” Blue said trying to calm them down. “We will get you both out of there as soon as we can.” He then noticed that the woman was now starting to point insistently, trying to get them to look behind them.
Scarlet turned his head and saw a figure, in a long black coat, standing there, in the middle of the lobby.
“Well, well,” he said, turning around. “Why am I not surprised to see you here, Black?”
“I knew it was a Mysteron trick!” Blue hissed between his teeth, turning as well, with both Syth and Martin.
“How did you do this?” Scarlet continued. “You better not hurt them in any way!”
“Oh, come on, Scarlet,” Black said with a crooked smile, “you know me better than that. Why would I want to hurt them, when I can so easily kill them? Where’s the fun in that?”
“Where’s Cotz?” Blue asked roughly.
“He’s behind the third mirror. He’s just a bit shy. You need to be in his line of view for him to know you’re there. That’s how it works, you see.”
“What have you done to these people?” Blue asked, drawing his gun.
He prepared to aim it at Black, and it was obvious he had every intention of shooting him, but Scarlet pushed his arm down. “Let’s wait until he’s given us the answer, Captain Blue.”
Blue lowered his arm and just stared at him.
I’m not standing here any longer,” Martin then said. “I’ve found those people – and now I’m going!” He then ran to the lift.
“But, you’ll miss all the fun!” Black shouted after him, smirking.
“How did you do it, Black?” Scarlet repeated, now getting annoyed.
He took his gun out and pointed it Black. Blue did the same. At this point, John Syth decided to disappear as well, as he didn’t really want to hang around for this match.
“Well, it’s a bit complicated, but I will try and make as simple as possible,” Black explained. “You see, the technology that these three people have created has made it possible for say, when implanted into a coffee machine, it learns what your favourite coffee is and makes it for you automatically, before you ask for it. You know how I love a good coffee, Scarlet.”
“I’m sure that’s not the real reason why you did this,” Scarlet said sorely.
Black nodded in answer. “You’re still too clever for your own good, Scarlet. Indeed, you’re right. We can make the microchip do other things by… ‘rewiring it’, I guess you could say.”
“You stole the technology and the Mysterons tempered with it?” Scarlet asked with a frown.
Again, Black nodded. “I took one microchip, and planted it into one of the mirrors. The three scientists then walked past them – and then I ‘told’ the mirror to ‘swallow’ them!”
“You sound so proud of this,” Blue said with disgust in his voice.
“Destroying the mirrors now means killing these people,” Black continued. “So if you want to get them out, you have to disable the chip first. But first, you have to find it. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that it would work, to tell you the truth, but as a little tester, I thought it was a risk worth taking. Just think who I can get rid of with this little beauty?”
He walked up to the mirrors, visibly admiring his handy work, ignoring the guns Scarlet and Blue were trailing on him. He then noticed Cotz, who had just approached the surface of the third mirror.
“Ah, there you are, sir!” he said in a falsely friendly voice. “We were wondering where you had disappeared to!”
Cotz saw him and backed away.
“You’d better get them out of there, Black!” said Scarlet. “Or I’ll make you pay for what you’ve done.”
“Well, I’m not sure if I want to, Scarlet.” Black got a little device out from his long black leather jacket and started typing something in. “Anyway, wouldn’t you like to see how it works before we close this conversation? There’s one mirror left, so room for one more.” He looked up with glowing green eyes. “Which one of you will it be?”
“Move and you’re dead!” Blue warned, raising his weapon.
“You can’t kill me,” Black replied tauntingly. “And if you shoot me, you’re condemning these people to spend eternity behind these mirrors – until someone breaks them, that is.”
Scarlet had to think quickly and work out which of the mirrors had the chip so he could destroy it and free the scientists.
That, before Black would trap him or Blue into the last mirror.
Blue made an attempt to gain some time. “Look, Black, you said it yourself, earlier: you weren’t sure this thing would even work in the first place. What if it backfires and it puts you in the last mirror?”
“Why would it?” Black said, as he finished typing something, and his finger hovered over the little green button set in the middle of his device. “It’s my idea.”
“Exactly my point, Black!” Blue retorted sharply, with a short smile.
As Blue was attracting Black’s attention on himself, Scarlet noticed that every time the Mysteron agent moved near the second mirror, a glow of green light was appearing in the top right-hand side corner. It was just a quick flash, but it was enough for it to catch his eye.
Surreptitiously, Scarlet moved his hand so that his gun would face the mirror. Before Black could even notice the direction of his gun, he fired a shot. Then there was a burst of green light and a huge surge of electricity shot through the four mirrors in front of which the three men stood.
As he swiftly backed away with Blue, Scarlet turned to the mirrors. “You three!” he shouted to the scientists. “Step back and cover your faces!”
He and Blue watched expectantly, waiting for something big to happen.
Black couldn’t believe Scarlet had found out how to free the scientists. Feeling really angry that Spectrum had spoiled his plan again, he walked backwards, hoping to escape. Scarlet turned one last time in his direction, and noticed his attempt, but it was too late to stop him.
Just then, there was a huge bang that threw the two Spectrum captains onto the floor; they covered their faces whilst the mirrors exploded, and glass sprayed all over the place, in small and sparkling bits, like glitter chucked around by school kids at Christmas.
Keeping their heads down, the captains waited until the worst of it calmed down; then, they uncovered their faces and sat up. The first thing they noticed was that what remained of the destroyed mirrors was now falling from the high ceiling, in insignificantly tiny and bright sparkly particles. It was all over them, and covering the floor with a white, sand-like glittering blanket.
“Wow, It’s like it’s snowing inside,” Blue commented extending his hand, palm upside, so that some of the glass would land on it. The edges of the tiny bits had obviously been smoothed by the explosion, and would not cause any injury. “Man, that was close!”
“Yeah. You okay, Adam?” Scarlet inquired.
Blue looked all over him.
“I’ve got that sand stuck everywhere,” he said. “But only a few cuts on my hand, from when the mirrors exploded. Nothing major.” He nodded in direction of the broken mirrors. “Let’s go and see if these three are okay.”
They got up, brushing themselves off of the particles of glasses, and then walked carefully to the broken mirrors. They found Mr Cotz, Mr Jones and Miss June sprawled on the floor, just underneath the now empty frames that previously held the mirrors. They helped them to their feet. Thankfully the three scientists had escaped without a scratch on them.
The particles of glass, or ‘snow’ as Blue called it, had stopped falling.
“I thought I was never going to get out of that nightmare!” Mr Cotz said, whilst shaking the Spectrum officers’ hands.
“Thank you so much for rescuing us,” Miss June said in shock and disbelief. “I cannot believe that he could use that chip and do something like this. How did he do it!?”
“I’m not sure,” Blue said. “But he won’t be doing it again. Now that he knows we can stop him.”
“We want you to go and see a doctor,” Scarlet then told the three scientists. “Just to make sure you’re all right.”
“Okay, we will,” said Cotz. “But first I need a strong coffee just to help me gather my thoughts. Maybe I’ll convince myself that I didn’t dream all this.”
“Good idea,” Scarlet said with a smile.
The three scientists went their way, obviously still very shaken by their experience, and unsure if indeed, all this had not been a very strange illusion.
“Where’s Black?” Blue asked looking around, in search of their enemy. “Of course, he took advantage of the confusion to make good his escape.”
“Of course he did,” said Scarlet. “He’s around somewhere. Plotting his next plan.”
Both Spectrum officers made sure the three scientists were okay, before Scarlet would contact Skybase and make his report. When they left the building, some time later, it was to step into some very cold white stuff which was covering the ground.
From the sky, snow was falling, very slowly.
“Snowing inside and out, I see,” Blue said, with some amusement. “Snow doesn’t happen often in London, does it?”
“No,” Scarlet confirmed. “Not something that would stay on the ground for long, anyway.” He smiled. “I was just discussing Christmas and snow earlier with Mario. Shame it’s two weeks early.”
Blue and Scarlet stood there and enjoyed for an all too brief moment, before they had to head back to base, the soft white snow falling all around them.
This story was beta-read by the Spectrum Headquarters beta-reading panel.
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