Original series Suitable for all readersMedium level of violence

 

Cindy's Angel 

 

 

A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" story for Christmas

 

by Chris Bishop

 

 

From the infamous dispute over territorial fishing in 2042, and for nearly six years after that, political relationships between Britain and Iceland had been rather tense.  The military dictatorship ruling all British territories in those times had ordered the British Embassy in Reykjavik to be closed down, British citizens working there repatriated, and contacts with Iceland reduced to a minimum.  It was only in the year after Britain had finally joined the World Government, after a short rebellion that had ended the Militarist regime – which had lasted nearly twenty years – that Iceland and Britain started communicating again.  At first, it was only by scarce contacts, buffered by the presence of World Government officials – Iceland not trusting Britain, and Britain not trusting Iceland, and neither really willing to let bygones be bygones, and forget old frictions and disagreements.  The wounds were still too fresh to allow them to heal that easily, even if the initial reason for them seemed so futile, and so confusing, after all those years.  In fact, clever would be the one to explain how exactly it had happened.  Who fired the first shot that had started a short but bloody quarrel.  It had probably all started from a misunderstanding.  That was the official explanation given by most politicians, eager to see peace finally established between the two belligerent countries.

It took both Iceland and Britain some few years of hard work to try to regain trust in each other.  Almost ten years, in fact.  Embassies were reopened, and political and economic activities were re-established.  Slowly, things started to return to the peace and normality the two countries had previously shared.

But there was still die-hard resentment in the minds and hearts of some people.  There were those who couldn’t forget, nor forgive, and who were motivated by a vengeful determination, inspired by rancour and hatred.

Feelings the Mysterons knew they would be able to use in their own ruthless and unforgiving war of nerves against the human race, on this snowy Christmas Eve night – preceding the day when a good proportion of Earth’s population would be celebrating a holiday that was supposed to mean Peace, Love, and Understanding.

The irony of it wasn’t lost on the Mysterons’ cold mind, and even they could appreciate it.

It was a good time to strike.

 

Seven-year-old Cindy Maxwell didn’t know about the Mysterons, or about the dispute that had erupted in past days between England and Iceland.  Or exactly what would be happening tonight.  All she knew was that it was Christmas Eve, that it was supposed to be one of the most marvellous nights of the year – with all that snow that was falling over Reykjavik.  Cindy’s father – Lord Simon Maxwell – was the British ambassador to Iceland.  He had been appointed to that position a mere two years earlier, and had brought his little family – his wife and young child – to Reykjavik.  Cindy had instantly loved the city, and easily adopted it as her own.  She had friends there, amongst the Embassy staff, people who loved her a lot and would indulge almost every caprice.  Cindy particularly liked Jessica, one of the people assigned to the Embassy’s security staff, charged with the little girl’s personal safety, a strong, beautiful young woman with black hair, who seemed a little austere at first glance, but who was warm and gentle, when one managed to get past her severe appearance.

Tonight, Cindy’s parents had been invited to a party by the Icelandic Foreign Minister, and had left the embassy, after tucking their daughter in for what they thought would be the night.  On the morning of Christmas Day, Cindy would wake up, her parents would be back, and they would all open their presents and celebrate Christmas together.

Things didn’t really happen the way they were supposed to.

 

Cindy was scared.  The embassy was plunged into darkness at the moment, the electricity being cut off everywhere.  The little girl could barely see a thing in front of her, as she followed Jessica closely, making their way through the darkened corridors, in near-total silence.  Sudden crackling detonations had awakened the little girl, in the middle of the night, and she had seen explosions through her window, lighting up her room.  Multiple explosions.  It was as if war had erupted in the courtyard.  Like in that awful movie she had caught her father watching, not so long ago.  That was really frightening.  Sitting straight up in bed, Cindy had seen Jessica open the door of her room and stride in; she had hushed her, ordered her to get dressed quickly and to come with her without saying anything.

Cindy couldn’t understand what was really going on.  Only she trusted Jessica enough to know she had to follow her without discussion.

“There’re bad men in the house, Cindy,” Jessica had told her urgently.  “I don’t know how they got in, but we must not let them find us.  Follow me, and don’t make a sound, okay?  I’ll get you out of here, safe and sound, I promise.”

Cindy had simply nodded, not daring to say anything.  Jessica had taken her by the hand, and they had left the room.  Just in time.  From behind the big cupboard in the corridor where Jessica had taken her to hide as soon as they left the bedroom, they saw two men, dressed in black and armed to the teeth, entering the room.  Cindy heard them overturning everything in there.  Silently, Jessica had taken her in her arms and they took advantage of the darkness to get as far away as possible from these men.

The problem was that there were others in the embassy and Jessica had to be very careful not to encounter them, as they tried to make their way to an exit.  For Cindy, it seemed like an endless and scary game of hide and seek.  Jessica was very good at it.  That was fortunate, because Cindy never was.

They narrowly avoided an encounter with another man, walking down the main corridor.  Jessica just had the time to pull Cindy into an empty office, closing the door carefully, but leaving it open just a crack to watch as the man walked by.  He stopped a few feet from there, took out his communicator and contacted someone – probably one of the other men, thought Cindy.  She couldn’t understand a word of what that scary man was saying.  But he seemed mightily angry.  Cindy saw Jessica taking a gun from under her coat.  Cindy had seen Jessica’s gun before, but never before had she seen her holding it.  Now, the security agent watched nervously, as the man barked a few words into his communicator.  Then, he stopped, and went on his way, quickly, looking around, his weapon ready to be used.  Jessica closed the door and let out a sigh of relief.

Cindy pulled on Jessica’s pants leg.  “I’m scared, Jessica,” she whispered.

Jessica glanced down at the little girl she could barely see in the darkness.  She crouched down to take her in her arms and pressed Cindy against her heart, trying to reassure her.  “Don’t worry,” she answered in the same tone.  “We’ll get out of here.”

“Who are those bad men?” Cindy asked, her voice trembling.  “What do they want?  Why are they doing this?  Don’t they know it’s Christmas?”

 

Jessica shrugged, sitting down on the floor.  It would have been useless to try to explain to Cindy who those men were and what their motives might be.  She didn’t even know for sure, in fact.  She had some suspicions, but nothing really definite.  They had taken the Embassy’s security by surprise, and had entered, killing some guards, taking hostages, searching everywhere.  Jessica couldn’t explain to herself how they could have succeeded in getting that far, going through all levels of security.  It was nearly unthinkable.  Certainly, they were well-prepared.  And probably, they had a man inside the house, who had helped them in.

One thing was for sure: they would not be allowed to find Cindy.  She was Ambassador Maxwell’s daughter.  If ever they got their hands on her, it would be catastrophic.

And Jessica was now all the security left to protect the little girl from the evil intentions of those men.

For the time being, anyway.  Until they could get some help.  Jessica knew it must be on its way.  The taking of the Embassy was loud enough to alert the whole neighbourhood.  Surely, there were police surrounding the place by now, and tactical squads getting ready to enter to take care of those terrorists.  Jessica was wondering to what lengths they were ready to go to take them.  Iceland wasn’t known for ever having accepted terrorists’ claims.  Neither was Britain.  Whatever action the proper authorities would take could mean putting the hostages – and Cindy – in danger.

Jessica took her duty communicator from her jacket pocket and looked thoughtfully at it.  She ought, at least, to contact the exterior, to let them know the ambassador’s daughter was alive and well.  She was unable to find a way to get the little girl out, though.  Perhaps somebody out there could help.  The communicator was equipped with a special safety device that would allow it to send a transmission, without risk of it being intercepted by whatever enemy had taken the embassy.  But the transmission had to be brief, and it only worked across a short distance.  Hopefully, there would be somebody within its range.  Under the worried and curious gaze of Cindy, Jessica pressed the emergency button, and entered her Secret Service access code, addressing a prayer to God that it would work.

A beeping sound came from the communicator, answering her call.  “Code Red Omega, I’m receiving you…”

Jessica refrained from sighing in relief.  She thought she had recognized the voice.  “This is Agent Blake,” she murmured into her communicator.  “Is that you, Raymond?”

“Yeah, it’s me, Blake.  You’re in an awful lot of trouble, you know.  There’s enemy all over the Embassy.”

“Where are you?”

“Out in the courtyard with the Icelandic police strike force.  We were called in the second the alert was given.  But never mind that.  What’s your situation?”

“I succeeded in avoiding the enemy,” Jessica continued, still in a low voice.  “So far, I don’t think they’re aware of my presence just yet.”  She glanced about, looking down at Cindy.  The little girl got closer to her, as if she was trying to get more security for herself that way.  Jessica could almost feel her shiver against her.  “I’ve got the Little Princess with me.”

“You’re both safe?”

“Safe but trapped in the lion’s den.  We’re unable to find a way out of here.”  Jessica marked a short pause, then continued, in an even lower voice, so she would not worry Cindy further: “Who are those guys, Raymond?  What do they want?”

“Not sure.  Looks like Icelandic extremists wanting to make a statement, to remind their compatriots of the past conflict with England.”

“I thought as much,” Jessica murmured gloomily.

“There might be something else too.  Some clues indicate a plot on a larger scale.”

“Could you be more specific?”

“I’m not at liberty to tell you.  It’s not a U.S.S. matter anymore.  From what I heard, it’s been taken under another jurisdiction.”

Jessica pondered that enigmatic answer.  Obviously, Raymond, head of security at the Embassy, who was supposed to be out of the Embassy tonight, and had obviously escaped the invasion, wouldn’t be telling her anything more.  She shrugged it off.  Later, she would have explanations.  Right now, there were more important considerations.

“Can you help us get out of here, Raymond?” she asked expectantly.  It wasn’t for her, but for Cindy.  Raymond knew as well as she did that the little girl had to get safely out of the embassy, before these men could find her and use her for their own ends.

“Where are you?”

Jessica looked around, straining her eyes in the darkness.  She had not really noticed before, but they were in the conference room.  She gave the information to Raymond who pondered it for a few seconds, before coming back with instructions: “Okay, right.  There’s a concealed door behind the water cooler.  You’ll find a secret passageway.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Not at all.  During the previous regime, before the territorial incident, it was intended to be used for security task forces, in case of situations like we’ve got now.  They’re in strategic points all over the Embassy.  But the passageways have been sealed for years, except for a few rooms.  Such as the one you’re in.”

There was a short pause, as Jessica, Cindy in tow, and following Raymond’s directions, moved toward the water cooler.  She examined the wall closely, but couldn’t see anything that would lead her to believe there was a concealed door there.  If there was one, it was well-hidden, and the darkness wasn’t helping her to find it.  She grazed the wall with her fingers for a few seconds, looking for a mechanism to open the door.  Raymond instructed her to check the framed picture hanging about two feet to the left of the water cooler.  She found a series of small buttons built into the frame, barely noticeable as they blended into the elaborately moulded frame.  She pressed the buttons following the sequence given to her by Raymond.

A panel of the wall silently slid aside, revealing the darkness of the promised passageway.  Cindy gasped in surprise.  Jessica wasn’t too far behind.

“I didn’t know about that,” she murmured into her communicator.  “Raymond, why wasn’t I informed?”

There was no reply.  Jessica frowned, wondering what was going on.  “Raymond?” There was nothing but static coming from her communicator.  Jessica shook her head.  Of course.  The built-in security had cut the transmission automatically, after a few minutes.  It had to be brief, in order to remain unnoticed by the enemy.  But it was rather strange anyway.  Normally, a signal would have made itself heard, to let Jessica know there were only a few seconds left.  She shrugged it off.  In the heat of the moment, she probably had not noticed.

She would be able to contact Raymond again after a few minutes, using the same code.  For the moment, there were more pressing matters.  Raymond had given her the means to flee the Embassy.  She pocketed the communicator and took Cindy’s hand.  “Okay, Cindy.  You stay close to me and we’ll be out of here.”

 

Cindy worriedly looked inside the darkness of the passageway.  She was afraid to go into this strange place, to tell the truth, but she didn’t want to tell Jessica.  However, she trusted the young woman to protect her, whatever might happen.  Jessica had always been there for her.  She was a gentle lady, but also a strong, and devoted one.  She would never ask Cindy to go in there if there was any danger.

Taking a deep breath, Cindy walked with Jessica into the passage.  The first thing Jessica did was to find controls on the left side of the open door.  One click of a button powered up feeble red lighting, so they would be able to better see where there were going.  Another button closed the panel behind them.  Cindy suddenly felt trapped in there.  She grabbed Jessica’s leg.

“Well,” murmured the young woman, “at least everything seems to be working fine.”

“I’m scared,” Cindy whispered.

“Don’t be afraid, sweetie.  We’ll be out of here soon.  And you’ll be back in your parents’ arms.  You trust me, don’t you?”

Cindy vigorously nodded.  She let go of Jessica’s leg, as they approached a plan of the passageways, stuck to the wall in front of them.  Jessica studied it a moment, her finger tracing the ways out of the embassy.

“There’s a stair going down that way for the gardens,” she murmured, nodding to her left.  “And another one to access the roof that way.” She indicated the right.  “Where should we go?”

“The gardens?” Cindy suggested tentatively.  She couldn’t see very well how they could leave the house by the roof.  Obviously, Jessica was of the same opinion, as she nodded, thoughtfully.

“The gardens, then,” the young woman murmured.  “Come on, Cindy.  I can’t wait to be out.  Stay close.  Don’t wander around.”

Cindy had no intentions whatsoever of leaving Jessica’s side.  The two of them headed off to the left and walked quickly down the corridor, the echo of their steps reverberating around them.  That made them nervous.  Cindy had the impression that the bad men who had invaded the house would hear them.  Jessica tried to reassure her, explaining that the walls probably were too thick for them to hear anything going on in the passage.  That didn’t convince her entirely.

 

They reached the stair announced on the sign.  Jessica stopped at the top of it, and looked down, thoughtfully.  There was something suddenly brewing in her mind, a suspicion that she couldn’t totally dismiss.  How did those guys enter the Embassy anyway, with all the tight security installed by Raymond?  Of course, an inside job would answer that question, but even with that explanation, it could not have been so easy.  There must be something else.

She heard footsteps coming from downstairs and she opened her eyes wide.  Warily, she took her service gun and aimed it at the first landing below.  A shadow appeared and she cocked the hammer.

Raymond appeared in full view and stopped on the landing, looking curiously at her.

“What is it, Blake?  Want to scare the kid witless?”

Jessica blew out a sigh of relief and lowered the gun.  “You gave ME a scare, Raymond!”  She gave him a faint smile.  “It’s good to see you.”

“And it’s good to see YOU and the kid, Blake.”  Raymond left the landing, climbing a couple of steps.  Jessica saw other shadows moving behind him.  Then other men appeared… all of them armed, and wearing the same kind of clothing as the men who had taken the embassy.  Jessica froze, when she saw Raymond levelling a handgun straight at her.  “Now give her to us.”

The answer he received was a bullet right in the chest and he fell heavily on the steps.  Without waiting for any kind of answer from the others, Jessica took Cindy by the hand and they quickly ran back the way they had come.  Behind them, they heard the ruckus of the men rushing up the stair and trying to pass the falling body in order to catch up with them.

Stupid! Jessica told herself.  I’m so stupid!  I walked right into the trap without blinking!  She hadn’t doubted Raymond for a second, but then it should have been so obvious.  Only he, as head of security, could have permitted those men to enter the embassy.  And for them to go unnoticed, they would use this very passageway, of course!  Raymond had given them access to it.  He had never had struck Jessica as a traitor, it seemed so improbable, but now, she had had the proof handed to her, in the worst possible way.

Well, at least, HE won’t be celebrating a victory, Jessica bitterly thought, upon remembering the fatal shot she had herself fired.  That traitor deserved nothing better!

Now to escape his men.  And the only way left now was to go to the roof.

Detonations made themselves heard behind, and the bullets started ringing all around, hitting the concrete walls, and sending sparks all around the two fugitives.  The terrorists had finally got past Raymond and stepped onto the landing to fire at them.  Instinctively, Jessica pushed Cindy in front of her, shielding her with her own body.  Her foremost duty, after all, was to protect the Little Princess’s life.  If it should mean giving her own life in order to do it, so be it.

 

Cindy was so afraid that she didn’t need for Jessica to urge her to go fast.  She was already running as quickly as her little legs could carry her, her heart beating wildly in her chest.  The explosions coming from behind them, the whistling to her ears, the echo of the noise surrounding them were adding to her fear.  So much that she couldn’t speak, even less scream or cry out.  The only sound coming from her was a rapid breathing.  She didn’t dare look back, nor slow down.  Jessica was close behind her, so very close that she could feel her body brushing against hers.

They passed the place where they had first entered the passageway.  Without so much as glancing at the direction board, Jessica pushed Cindy into going forward.

“The roof, Cindy!” she urged the small child.  “We’ve got to reach the roof!”

Cindy heard her, and continued to run.  The shouts coming from their pursuers seemed somehow closer.  There were more detonations.  Cindy heard a muffled cry coming from Jessica, and felt the young woman’s hand gripping her shoulder.  “Don’t stop!” Jessica whispered.  “And don’t look back!”

 

Jessica had felt the bullet tear into her body; she knew instantly that she had been hurt badly, but she also knew she had to push herself onward.  No time to stop, got to protect the child.  She alone stood between Cindy and the terrorists, and she knew that perfectly.

She couldn’t think of how they would be able to escape their pursuers once on the roof, but at least, they would be out of this narrow passageway, that trap laid for them by Raymond.  They were far too easy targets for those bullets here.  At least, on the roof, they might be able to find a place to hide.  Hide Cindy, that is, until somebody comes to rescue her.  In the meantime, Jessica was determined to draw those men’s attention away from the child, until she breathed her last breath.  That was all she could hope for.

At a corner of the passageway, they found the stairs that lead up to the roof, while the corridor continued straight ahead.  Following earlier indications, Cindy climbed the steps, Jessica still close to her, but limping heavily.  The young woman could feel her strength rapidly leaving her, at the same rate as the blood she could feel dripping down her waist and thigh.  Her eyesight was blurring, and she had trouble keeping upright.

They reached the upper landing of the stairs.  Glancing down, Jessica could see the men continuing their way into the passageway.  She knew they would eventually realize they had gone the wrong way and come back to take the stairs, but in the meantime, she and Cindy had gained a few seconds’ breathing-space.  They had to use it to their advantage.

They reached a door.  A big metal door that refused to open when Jessica pushed it.  Her mind was now in a complete fog.  No, it must be a sliding panel… Like the one in the conference room.  Where’s the mechanism?  She looked around for it, working as quickly as she could, shivering as she did.  Going into shock… Don’t panic… Keep yourself focused… for the child’s sake.  She found a button on the wall and pressed hard.  The door she was leaning on suddenly slid to the side, leaving her with no support at all, a strong, snow-laden wind lashing suddenly at her.  She stepped into the open, trying to regain her footing.  Then it was curtains, and she fell heavily onto the deep snow-covered surface of the roof.

 

Seeing her guardian dropping like a stone, Cindy’s heart missed a beat.  She ran out to her, fearful of what may be happening to her, not taking the least notice of the whistling wind and snow, and the glacial air of the Icelandic night.  She sank to her knees near Jessica and shook her as strongly as she could.  Not a movement from the young woman.  Her eyes were closed as if she was sleeping.  But Cindy knew she wasn’t sleeping.  Her friend had been hurt, it was obvious.  Or she would not stay there, lying in the cold snow.

“Jessica, wake up!” she called desperately, shaking the motionless body once more.  “Please, wake up!  I’m scared on my own!  I need you!”

A faint moan answered her, but nothing more.  Jessica wouldn’t wake.  Cindy started crying.  She didn’t know what to do.  She was afraid those bad men down there would come up eventually and find them, and hurt them.  She couldn’t understand what it was they wanted, or why they were acting so badly.  And seeing how Jessica had already been hurt by them, she had no doubt they would only do other mean things.

Cindy suddenly became aware of a presence nearby.  Not coming from the open door behind her, but in front of her.  She didn’t dare look up and kept staring down, in a fearful way.  She then saw boots coming into her line of vision and stopping.  High boots in a bright red colour.  Her heart still beating in fear, Cindy finally found the strength to look up.  Through the heavy snowflakes swept by the wind, she could see a tall silhouette, wearing a bright red coat, standing only a couple of metres away from her.  She had trouble making out his features, but he was just standing there, motionless, and by the way of it, he was staring at her intently.  The fear left Cindy’s heart in one beat, and her eyes, now wide opened with surprise, dried instantly.

“Father Christmas?” she breathed.  No, it couldn’t be him.  From what she could see of him, the man was MUCH slimmer.  And his features were that of a young man, with dark hair, and very piercing eyes.

He approached Cindy and then crouched down next to her, looking straight at her, with a calm expression upon his handsome face.  His eyes were very blue.  As blue as the sky, Cindy thought.

“You’re the Ambassador’s daughter,” the man stated, with an accent reminding Cindy of her own father’s.

“Please,” she said with a shiver in her voice.  “Don’t hurt me…”

“I’m not here to hurt you, sweetheart.  I’m here to help you.”

“Help Jessica.  She’s been hurt.”

The stranger looked down in concern at the young woman at his feet.  He lifted her in his arms and brought her to cover, away from the open door, and laid her at the foot of a wall, assuring himself that Cindy was following close.  The child watched as he touched Jessica’s neck, than gently tapped her cheek.

“Jessie, can you hear me?  Wake up!”

Cindy’s eyes opened wide in bewilderment.  The stranger knew Jessica?  Who could he be?  She then heard Jessica moan loudly; with relief, Cindy saw her eyes flicker.  The child looked upon the stranger with something akin to awe in her eyes.  He had brought her friend back to life.  He must be an angel.

 

Jessica’s eyes opened and blinked several times.  She had lost consciousness, through the loss of blood, she knew that.  How long had she been out?  Not very long, it seemed...  She was still rather lost; her eyes found those of the man looking down at her with worry.  She frowned.  She thought she was dreaming.

“P-Paul?” she croaked.  “Is that you?”

“Lie still,” he whispered encouragingly.  “Everything will be all right now.”

Jessica nodded, although still unsure of what would happen.  So, for what it was worth, Raymond had not lied when he had said that the situation had been taken under the jurisdiction of somebody else.  Of course.  Terrorist activities… That would call for Spectrum to get involved… One of their officers was there.  The one they called Captain Scarlet, but whom she knew as somebody else.  Paul.

“The terrorists…” she whispered, “…They’re right behind us… Be careful…”

She was too weak to go into further explanation.  Her mind wanted nothing but to plunge into oblivion, no matter how hard she was trying to hang to consciousness.  She closed her eyes once more.

 

Cindy saw the man in red’s concern when Jessica’s eyes fluttered.  He put his hand on her neck again, then blew a sigh of relief.  Two white lights appeared on each side of his head, coming from what seemed like brilliant golden cylinders attached to his shoulders.  He raised his head, turning away from Jessica and Cindy.  The latter heard him talk urgently.  “Yes, Colonel.  I found the Little Princess on the roof, with the U.S.S. agent serving as her guardian.  The agent has been wounded, but the girl is fine.”  He paused a second, and Cindy then saw the tiny mic hanging from a small rod attached to the strange-looking cap he was wearing.  He was now listening intently.  Cindy was a little confused, still wondering who he could be exactly, and what he was doing on the roof.  And how come he and Jessica seemed to know each other?

Cindy then noticed the gun hanging from his belt, and the fear automatically came back.

That was when footsteps made themselves heard from the open door not far from there.  She looked back nervously to see one of the bad men coming into the open.  The second he set foot on the roof, and saw the red-clad man, he raised his gun.  But the newcomer’s own weapon suddenly appeared in his hand, and spat once, before the bad man could squeeze the trigger.  He fell onto the roof, to stay there, motionless.

That was enough to send Cindy into complete panic; the stranger couldn’t be an angel.  Angels didn’t need weapons to shoot at people.  They just wouldn’t do that, she was sure of it.

Before the man could react, she darted from her place and ran like hell, toward the other end of the roof, wanting to put as much distance as possible between them.  She heard the muffled curse behind her, as the red-clad man jumped to his feet.  “No, wait!”

Other men came from the open door.  Unlike their companion lying in the cold snow, they started shooting the second they appeared.  The man in red ducked into safety behind the wall, to escape being hit.  Cindy checked over her shoulder, just in time to see him pulling Jessica into hiding too.  But by now, she was too panicky to think straight.  She continued to ran.  She didn’t realise how lucky she was that the direction she had chosen was taking her away from the terrorists and out of their view.  At the moment, only the stranger in red could see her, keeping close to the wall and the ground, and almost shouting into his mic to make himself heard over the crackling gunshots.

Loud explosions suddenly came from underneath.  Cindy couldn’t see any of it, but she had heard.  And felt, too, as the roof seemed to vibrate under her feet.  She stopped dead.  Something was happening inside the house; she had no idea what it could be, but she was very aware that it could only be bad.  She knew about bombs, and grenades, and all those awful things that caused so much destruction and death.  After what she had seen tonight, she could only imagine the worst.

An explosion to her left, coming from the courtyard, to the side of the house, confirmed to her that it WAS indeed the worst happening.  Then, there was a shrieking sound, piercing the night, and raising her head, she saw a sleek white aircraft flying low over the roof, seeming to split the night and snowy sky in two, and then disappeared quickly.  At the same time, Cindy spotted a dark shape, flying low over the garden.  A strange-looking helicopter, that swiftly moved toward the house.

She was really right in the middle of a war.  That was far more than Cindy’s mind could understand.  How could she know that they were Spectrum aircraft, and that they were there to help?

All Cindy really wanted at the moment was to get away from all that violence and back into her Mummy’s arms.

Footsteps behind her made her look back.  She saw the man in red running behind her, trying to get her back.  She ran again, not wanting to wait for him.  She could hear him shout after her, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.  She didn’t care.

Then there was another, huge explosion.  A ball of fire suddenly erupted through the roof, making it shake violently under Cindy’s feet, shooting pieces of it right into the air, and creating a hole right behind the little girl, cutting off the Spectrum officer’s pursuit.  The force of the explosion sent Cindy flying, and she fell roughly to the roof, the snow nearly not enough to soften her fall.  She cried out, more in terror than in pain.  She was really too afraid to feel the pain of her now scraped hands and knees.  She was lying there, looking with horror at the gaping fiery hole she was so close to.  So dangerously close.

She could hardly detach her eyes from the fire burning through the pit.  When she finally was able to, she looked over to the other side, to see the man in red standing there.

 

Captain Scarlet, too, was looking down in concern at the hole, searching for a way to cross it.  It was too wide for him to jump.  To the left, it was impossible to get to Cindy, as a wall was blocking the way.  To the right, the half-destroyed roof formed some kind of ledge, standing in precarious balance over the fiery hole.  He looked up to Cindy and saw where she was lying.  His eyes widened when he saw how dangerous her position was.  The roof underneath her was threatening to give way.  Cupping his hands round his mouth, he called to her:

“Cindy, stay where you are and don’t move!  I’m coming over to get you!”

 

Cindy could only nod.  She saw the man moving to the ledge on the right, walking over it carefully.  It trembled under his weight, little bits of it crumbling into the fire below.  Still, he continued to move, going as far as he was able.  When he finally stopped, it was to look in Cindy’s direction, gauging with his eyes the distance still separating him from her, over the fiery pit.  A few feet, and no room for miscalculating his jump.  If he failed, he could fall right into the flames.

He jumped, without hesitation, and landed right next to Cindy, in a crouched position, with a loud huff.  The roof quaked a little underneath his added weight, but he didn’t seem to care.  Right away, he put one arm around her shoulders and looked down at her; she stared back, unable to move, wondering what he would do.

“Don’t be afraid,” he murmured reassuringly.  “I told you, I’m here to help.”  He removed his coat.  She saw the tunic he was wearing underneath it, the same colour as his coat, over a dark turtleneck shirt.  There was a little rainbow on his sleeves, just like the one in the middle of his cap.  Gently, he covered the little girl with his coat, to protect her from the cold.  Then, the mic from his cap flipped down to his mouth and he spoke into it once more: “Symphony Angel!  Home in on my position, and come down as low as you can to pick us up with the line!”

Cindy’s eyes went wide, as the man drew her close to him, in an attempt to keep her safe and warm.  She looked up to his handsome face, with perplexity.  Angel, he had said.  Who could he have talked to?

Was she right about him, in the first place?

“Are you an angel?” she asked him timidly, finding her voice again.

He looked down at her worried features; then produced an amused and reassuring smile.  “No, love.  No, I’m…”

 

There was a cracking sound from beneath them, and the roof tilted towards the hole; instantly, Captain Scarlet brought Cindy closer still to him, wrapping his arms around her tightly and keeping her head securely hidden.  “Hang on!” he shouted over the noise.  The roof gave way under their weight and they fell down into the fiery hole.

 

Cindy squeezed her eyes shut, and found herself unable to scream in terror.  They were falling through hell; she didn’t see the flames, nor the debris falling with them.  She could feel the heat, and hear the awful sounds all around them.  The man held her tight, protecting her with his body.  She could hear her little heart racing against his, as he was keeping her coiled against him.  They fell through half-burning beams that broke under them.  The man’s body was taking the full force of all the impacts, protecting her from them, grunting each time through clenched teeth.  The fall was short enough, but seemed to last longer.  When they finally hit the floor of a lower storey, the man had managed to position himself underneath, so he would cushion Cindy from the impact.  That last one made him lose hold of the little girl, and she rolled away from him.

Getting up on her knees, Cindy looked about at her new surroundings.  She had no trouble recognizing her father’s office; she was kneeling right next to his desk.  But the place looked so different, with the light of the fire dancing all around, and casting strange and worrying shadows against the smoke that filled the room.

Cindy heard the man in red moan and then move.  The little girl watched, as his eyes blinked several times, and looked around, trying to find their focus.  Then he saw her, and stared in concern.

“Are you all right?” he asked with effort; his voice sounded as if he was either tired or in terrible pain.  Cindy nodded in answer, unsure.  She was physically all right, but her mind was nearly a total blank.

 

Captain Scarlet stood up, with great difficulty, grunting and wincing, unfolding his tall body, stretching it and making sure he was himself okay.

No sooner was he back on his feet and was about to go to her than the door behind him, leading out to the corridor, sprang open.  With eyes opened wide in horror, Cindy saw the figures of three men standing in the doorway, opening fire on the Spectrum officer with their automatic weapons.  He never saw them coming; struck down by a hail of bullets that hit him in the back, his body suddenly arched itself, before crashing to the floor like a felled tree.

 

It was pure instinct that drove Cindy to seek refuge by crawling under her father’s desk, just as she saw the tall red stranger falling.  She stayed there, curled up, not daring to make a move, after the terrifying scene she had witnessed.  Her small hand over her mouth to stifle the gasping sound of panic threatening to come out of it, she stared at the man lying there, on his belly, motionless, his eyes closed.  She saw two pairs of booted feet appeared in her line of vision, and the muzzle of one of the guns, pointed at the man, a spiral of white smoke coming from it.  The owner of the gun kicked the still body.  It didn’t move.

“He’s dead,” a voice declared, with a satisfied tone to it.

Cindy’s heart sank.  The bad men had killed her angel.  Silent tears started running down her cheeks.

“Good.  Where’s the child?”

The voice was coming from a third man, who had entered the room, following the first two.  He walked toward the desk.  Cindy kept quiet and still, hugging the side of the desk as closely as she could.  She didn’t want to give herself away.  The men had not seen her yet; there was too much smoke in the room.

“Search for her!” the second voice added with authority.

The two men spread around the room, looking all over.  Cindy watched their feet moving around, her little heart beating wildly.  One went around the desk and got really close to her hiding place underneath it, but he didn’t bother to look there.  She watched with concern as the feet, after stopping for a moment, continued to walk around, going away from her.  She then saw the face of the man, as he stopped in front of the window, to look outside, where lights were flashing.  She nearly gasped when she recognized the man she knew as Raymond, who worked for her father.

The man she had seen Jessica shooting.

There was a red dot right in the middle of his very white shirt.

“Spectrum is all over the place,” the man grumbled.  “I’ll be damned if I let them win this one!”

“They have taken us by surprise from all sides, and are already inside the Embassy,” one of the others remarked to him.  “Liberating the hostages as we speak.  We may be the only ones left.  Sir, maybe we still can escape, if…”

“Not before finding the child!” Raymond snapped, turning around furiously to glare at the man.  “You wanted to make a statement, didn’t you?  So you’d better act accordingly!”

He was about to add something else, when something caught his eye.  Cindy realized he was looking in her direction.  Still hoping that he had not actually seen her, she kept immobile.  He slowly started to walk.  Towards her.  Panic flooding in her, her heart racing and keeping herself from whimpering, Cindy turned her head in the direction of the man in red, her angel, fallen not far from her.  She wasn’t really hoping.

Then the impossible happened.

Despite the smoke, but illuminated by the dancing light of the fire, which was growing ever stronger, she saw him moving his hand.

She almost gasped in surprise.

“There you are…”  The ever so sweet voice of Raymond nearly made Cindy jump.  She turned her eyes to him, just in time to see how close he was from her.  She darted out of her hiding place, and crawled away from him, as far away and quickly as possible, to duck behind a cabinet, where he couldn’t see her anymore.  He didn’t follow right away, and contented himself with staring at her new hiding place.  He then chuckled wickedly.  “Don’t bother,” he said ominously.  “You can’t escape me, now.  You’re not really inconspicuous with that red coat on!  Come out of there.  I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

Somehow, Cindy had doubts that he was telling the truth.  She didn’t move from where she was.  Raymond sighed with annoyance, and made a gesture, addressing the two men with him.

“Bring her to me.”

Cindy heard the two men moving to approach her position.  One of them simply threw the cabinet to the floor, noisily, revealing her huddled against the wall, jumping upon hearing the sound and seeing them standing in front of her.

Before they could make a further move in her direction, the red-clad angel suddenly jumped to his feet, from behind the desk, his gun in his hand, aiming it at the two men, shouting at them.  They froze upon seeing him standing there, alive, when they had thought him to be dead.  They started to raise their weapons, but never got the chance to fire a single shot.  He, on the other hand, squeezed the trigger several times, each of his bullets ramming home.  The two terrorists fell to the floor, before even understanding what was happening to them.

 

There was one more detonation as Captain Scarlet turned to face Raymond.  He stumbled; smoke was curling up from Raymond’s gun.  It spat once again, and the Spectrum officer fell on one knee, behind the desk, grunting, his face a mask of pain.  He kept himself upright the best he could, and targeted Raymond with his own weapon.  It fired three times, but he didn’t fall, and remained standing there.  Scarlet tried to fire again.  His gun refused to fire, and he gave a dissatisfied moan.  Raymond’s lips curled into an evil grin.

 

Cindy was staring in disbelief as Raymond looked down at his shirt, now spattered with three new stains of blood – right next to the first one, caused by Jessica’s bullet.

Neither wound seemed to bother him.  It was as if he was some kind of demon, coming straight from Hell.

“Not enough ammunition, Earthman?” he taunted the wounded man, who was kneeling, breathing hard, and barely able to make a single move.  “How do you propose to stop me from doing my masters’ bidding, now?”

He turned his attention to Cindy, who had not moved from her spot, frozen with fear.  Probably not considering his wounded opponent as a threat anymore, he walked toward the child.

 

Captain Scarlet suddenly found enough strength to spring to his feet, bellowing with fury, and rammed right into Raymond.  The momentum pushed him away from the frightened little girl and sent him against the wall.  A steel-like grip grabbed Raymond’s wrist, forcing it upward, as another shot was fired, the bullet being lost in the roof.  The gun was finally knocked out of his hand, as the two men entangled in a fight to the finish.

 

There was a hellish feel to the scene, with all that smoke, and the fire now spreading quickly.  For Cindy, it was impossible to get away now, as the room was surrounded by flames.  She could do nothing but watch helplessly, as the battle raged between the two adversaries.  The evil demon, wanting to hurt her, and her protecting angel.  Both driven by the same kind of determination, and possessing the same ability to resist bullets and withstand pain.

Clearly, Raymond had the advantage, as he was pushing his opponent away from him, trying to free himself from his grip.  But the angel was not giving up.  He called upon some strength remaining deep inside him, and grabbed Raymond by his shirt; he pulled him out from against the wall and then threw him across the desk, sending him sprawling to the floor.  Raymond tried to stand up again but the angel was already on him, and pushed him one last time.  Though the large window behind the desk, breaking it in a big, ear-splitting crash.  Large pieces of glass fell upon Raymond who let out a loud scream of pain.  He stumbled backward, and disappeared through a rain of glass, falling four floors into the garden below.

For a moment, Cindy’s protector looked down, holding himself upright against the window frame, breathing hard, in long gasps.  The beam from a spotlight down in the garden suddenly swept across his pale features, and then bathed the room.  He turned on his heel, and looked around.  He found his cap lying on the floor and picked it up, then saw Cindy, who had not moved from her corner, and who was looking his way, anxiously.  He knelt and extended his arms to her.

“Come here, sweetheart,” he croaked.  “I’m taking you out of here…”

Cindy almost surprised herself when she ran into his arms.  He grunted when he received her, wincing, apparently in pain.

 

“Everything will be all right, now…” Captain Scarlet murmured soothingly.  Cindy saw the mic flipping into position in front of his mouth, as he began to speak into it.  “Symphony, can you home in on my position?  We need a lift out of this furnace…”

It didn’t take one minute for a helicopter to appear in front of the broken window, and to then position itself right over it.  A strong line then came dangling in front of them, with a harness hanging from it.  Scarlet caught it with a bloody hand and put the harness around him, as quickly as he could.  When this was done, he gathered Cindy against him and stood up, with great difficulty. 

“Hang on to me.” It was a useless recommendation, as she was clutching him so tightly, and he was doing the same, with one hand.  Upon his instructions to Symphony Angel, who was piloting the helicopter, the line tightened, and they were pulled upward.  They found themselves hanging high in the air.

 

“Don’t look down.  And don’t be afraid…” That second recommendation was as useless as the first one.  Cindy wasn’t afraid.  Not in the least.  Her angel was holding her in his arms.  He wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her.  She knew that now.

The line hauled them straight up to the helicopter, in a smooth enough ride.  As they reached the craft, two strong new arms took Cindy from her angel’s.  This new man standing inside the helicopter was wearing a coat very similar to the one the little girl had seen on the red-clad man earlier, and which was now covering her, except it was of a light blue colour.  He had the same kind of cap on his head, and hair as blond as her friend Helga, the cook’s daughter. 

“Come here, honey.  You’re safe now.” The blond man’s voice was gentle and warm, and he had very reassuring and smiling blue eyes.  Cindy could see she could trust him.  He put the little girl down and he turned to help Cindy’s angel to free himself from the harness he was still attached to.

Cindy looked around with curiosity.  The cabin she was in was narrow, and faintly lit.  Her eyes caught sight of another man, kneeling beside what looked like a camp bed at the other end of the cabin, and checking on somebody lying there, covered from neck to toes by a heavy blanket.

Recognizing that last person instantly, Cindy ran to the bed side.  “Jessica?” She looked down worriedly at the set face, and closed eyes of the pale-faced young woman lying there.  She didn’t react to Cindy’s call.  Even since she had left her on the roof, the young girl had all but forgotten about Jessica, so afraid she had been for herself.  She was now very ashamed of that.  She hoped her friend wouldn’t be angry at her.

“Jessica, I’m so sorry…”

The young woman gave a faint sigh, and opened one eye, very tiredly.  She looked up to Cindy, and smiled faintly.  “Hiya, sweetie,” she murmured.  “I’m so glad to see you…”

“I’m sorry,” Cindy repeated, with nothing more than a whisper.

“No need to be sorry for anything…” Jessica’s voice trailed off and her eyes closed again.

The man at her side, wearing a red cross insignia on his sleeve, addressed a reassuring smile to Cindy who stared up at him with concern.  “Don’t worry, child, she’ll be all right.  She’ll be sleeping, for now.”

Cindy answered with a thankful smile.

Behind her, she heard grunts and huffs, and turned around.

 

Captain Blue was helping his friend and partner Captain Scarlet to literally crawl into the helicopter.  Once he had cleared the hatch, he sprawled motionless on the floor, with a deep sigh, breathing with great difficulty, with a gasping sound.  The blond officer sat directly on the floor to cradle him in his arms.  Scarlet let out a muffled cry of pain, and struggled faintly when Blue hurriedly put an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose.  Then he stopped, too weak even to fight back, but also because the oxygen was now permitting him to breathe normally again.  His eyelids fluttered, searching for something to focus on, and fell on Blue.

“The hostages…” he murmured through the mask.

“It’s okay,” Blue reassured him.  “Ochre’s and Magenta’s teams freed them.  With the minimum of casualties.  We lost two of them during the operation, I’m afraid,” he added sadly.  “But the survivors are fine.  Apart from a good scare.”

“Good,” Scarlet croaked faintly.

“Hang on, buddy,” Blue whispered to his friend.  “We’ll drop our two passengers to safety, then we’ll take you back home to nurse those wounds.” He received in answer nothing more than a faint groan, as Scarlet, nodding, let his consciousness slowly leave him.

 

Cindy approached, before anybody could stop her, and stood in front of the injured man.  His face was now deathly pale, drenched with sweat, his eyes closed, and he didn’t seem to be aware of her presence.  She gently touched his cheek; it was damp and cold; she felt him shivering under her touch.

“You’d better go back there, honey,” the man in the blue coat told Cindy in a firm, but still gentle voice.

“Can’t I stay with him?” the child replied, not taking her eyes off her saviour.

“I’m sorry, but you can’t.  We’re taking you back to your father, and we’ll be leaving right away.”

“I want to say thanks when he wakes up,” Cindy tried again.

“He knows you’re grateful, honey.”  He saw the concerned look on the child’s face and smiled kindly.  “Don’t worry.  He’ll be all right.”

“I know he will,” she answered confidently, raising her eyes to face the blond man.  There was an assured expression on her face as she spoke.  She looked down again at her protector, her angel, lying in his friend’s arms and nodded again, stroking his smooth face with fondness, before taking his hand in her tiny ones, and clutching it with gratitude and affection.  “You are an angel, aren’t you?  You can’t be hurt… You’re gonna be all right… I know you are.” She saw the blue eyes open once to look at her very tiredly.  The smile beyond the oxygen mask could barely be seen, but the eyes were eloquent enough.

Along with the gentle squeeze Cindy felt from his hand.

“Please, be all right, my angel…”

The helicopter descended slowly to the ground, away from the now burning embassy, where a large group of people, surrounding vehicles with flashing lights, were waiting impatiently…

 

* * *

 

“The incident at the British Embassy in Reykjavik last night ended with the almost complete destruction of the building.  Most of the city’s fire service were called out to battle the flames.  As our cameras now look at what’s left of the building, it’s becoming obvious that the British diplomats and Embassy personnel will need to be relocated elsewhere.  British officials say that at the moment, it’s still too early to decide where the new Embassy will be…”

 

“You don’t suppose they have OTHER things to worry about right now, do you?” Seated in the officers’ lounge on Cloudbase, dressed in civvies, Captain Blue was practically shouting at the television screen, where a reporter was seen commenting on the dreadful events of the preceding night.  At his side, Captain Scarlet contented himself to exchange a sly smile of amusement with Rhapsody Angel and Captain Ochre.  Blue’s anger at the reporter was understandable enough.  So many lives were put at risk during the taking of the Embassy, and the following operation to free them all.  All of Cloudbase’s senior staff had been involved in this particularly difficult mission, where every move had to be precisely prepared, in order to make sure the Mysterons would not succeed this time around.  Unfortunately, not everyone had been saved.

 

“Along with the destruction of the Embassy,” the reporter continued, as she stood in front of what was left of the building, still smoking from the fire, “two members of the diplomatic corps were killed, along with two members of the Embassy personnel and four members of the security staff.  In all, eight victims of the terrorists, and six wounded.  The terrorists involved in the incident were identified as criminals already wanted for various crimes in Iceland, and are believed to be part of a very small group of disaffected Icelandic nationals trying to provoke a resurgence of the tense relations that existed between Britain and Iceland from 2042 to 48Icelandic authorities have issued assurances that they are not associated in any way with any larger underground network, and that no such group exists in Iceland.  A Spectrum spokesperson confirmed this by stating that the terrorists were commanded by a Mysteron agent, who, unbeknown to them, was only using them as part of a Mysteron operation to sour the relationship between England and Iceland and take it back to that mistrustful period of some years ago…”

 

“Divide and conquer,” Scarlet murmured thoughtfully.

“Who would have thought that the Mysterons knew about Caesar’s tactics?” Rhapsody said in turn, nodding.

 

The Embassy security staff made no comment about the rumours that it was through an inside contact that the terrorists had gained access to the Embassy,” the reporter continued relentlessly.  “It was only by pure luck that Ambassador Maxwell and his wife weren’t present when the incident happened.  Their seven year-old daughter, however, apparently targeted by the Mysterons, was in the building, and was only saved by the quick thinking of her U.S.S. guardian and the action of an unnamed Spectrum officer, who are both amongst the wounded.”

 

“Unnamed Spectrum officer,” Captain Ochre repeated, nudging Scarlet with his elbow, a big grin across his face.  “That’s you, Paul.  Yet again, you received the honours of the Press.”

“Only under ‘unnamed officer’,” Scarlet replied.  He shrugged.  “Which suits me fine, mind you.” He didn’t like the attention his ‘exploits’ attracted from the Press.  He feared that could put Spectrum’s security in jeopardy, in view of his particular situation.  So he avoided as much of it as he was able to.

 

“While Cindy Maxwell was unhurt during her ordeal, the U.S.S. agent in charge of her protection, herself saved by the Spectrum intervention, was taken to a hospital in Reykjavik, where she received immediate treatment.  Her present condition is described as satisfactory.  The Spectrum officer who saved young Miss Maxwell’s life, however, was not left in the same hospital, and was flown away to an unknown Spectrum base to receive medical care.  An official report from Spectrum told us that he’s ‘presently fine’.”

 

“Sure,” Blue said, looking at Scarlet with a big grin.  “They wouldn’t believe how fine!”

“How’s your cousin, anyway?” Rhapsody asked.

Scarlet quietly shook his head.  The thought of his cousin, injured during the incident of the past night, had been the first thing to come to Scarlet’s mind when he had woke up, after his rejuvenating sleep.  He had immediately called the hospital she had been left in, in Reykjavik, to find out how she was.  “Jessica was badly wounded, but the news is encouraging.  She’ll have to stay in hospital for a few weeks.  All in all, she’s been very lucky.  She’s a tough girl.”  He smiled at Blue.  “I have to thank Adam for saving her, though.”

“What did I do?” Blue replied, opening wide eyes.  “I only picked her from that roof and up to the chopper, while you were trying to find that little girl and battling your way with that Mysteron agent.”

“Still, I think you saved her life.”

“She won’t mention anything about you, will she?” Ochre asked with concern.

“Jessica’s with the U.S.S.  She knows how to keep silent, especially when it concerns security matters.  And she already knows how anonymity is important for Spectrum colour-coded officers.  You don’t have to worry about her.”

“I think bravery must run in the family,” Rhapsody reflected, thinking of Jessica’s actions of the past night.

Scarlet chuckled. “Well, at least defending British embassies against terrorists does, it seems!” He nodded thoughtfully. How strange, he reflected, that history should repeat itself that way.  Years ago, when he was a Special Forces lieutenant, he had to break into the British Embassy in Tunis, in order to free hostages there.  He had also done the job successfully, also been seriously wounded... THIS repetition of history was too close for comfort,

 

The reporter, however, had been continuing her depiction of the events on the television, and the four Spectrum officers turned back to listen to the rest of her comments.  “When asked about her Spectrum saviour, young Cindy Maxwell was full of praise for him.  She said: ‘He’s an angel.  A Christmas Angel sent to Earth to save me on Christmas Day.’”

 

“An Angel, really?” Ochre noted, glancing at Scarlet with amusement.

“Are you trying to steal my job, Captain?” Rhapsody said with a bemused expression, looking straight in the Captain’s face.

“I wouldn’t DARE, my lady,” he replied, chuckling.  “You’re much better at it than me!”

 

“So yet again,” the reported finished on the television, “Spectrum has thwarted another threat from the Mysterons.  We can only wonder when and where they will strike again.  And we’ll pray that Spectrum will continue to successfully stop them from doing as much damage as possible whenever they appear.  This reporter, for once, is grateful for Spectrum’s efforts.  This is Sandra Newark, from W.B.C., wishing you all Good night… and a Very Happy Christmas.”

 

“And a Merry Christmas to you,” Blue answered to the screen, pressing a button on the remote control to turn off the television.  As the screen turned black, he addressed his companions.  “Well, that seems to be the end of it.  The Mysterons failed to turn Iceland and Britain against each other.  What a thing to try on Christmas Eve, really!”

“I don’t think the Mysterons really care about our Earth customs, Adam,” Scarlet remarked, shaking his head.

“Correction.  They do care.  Enough to try to ruin them for us, that is.”

“Perhaps there’s some truth in that, yes.”

The door of the officers lounge slid open at that moment, and Symphony Angel, casually dressed, strolled in.

“Hi, there!” Blue called upon seeing her.  “Are you ready to go for that Christmas furlough, Symphony?”

“Just about, Captain.” There was a large smile spread across Symphony’s face.  Her furlough had been scheduled for the day before, but due to the Mysteron situation, she had had to postpone it.  Now she was very happy to be able to leave this very day.  She would arrive at her mother’s home in Iowa in time for the Christmas supper.  Further more, there was the unexpected pleasure that Adam – Captain Blue – would now be able to join her, as he had himself received leave permission a couple of hours ago.  “And are you ready yourself?”

“Of course I am!” he beamed.  “I wouldn’t pass up the chance to eat a good old country Christmas dinner with my favourite Angel!”

She rolled her eyes.  “Country dinner!  Right!”  She cleared her throat and plunged her hand into the pocket of the jacket she was wearing.  She produced an envelope she presented to Captain Scarlet.  “Paul, I’ve been looking for you.  I went to the courier plane when it arrived a few minutes ago and this arrived for you.”

He straightened up on the sofa, taking the envelope and looking down at it with curiosity.  “For me?  Where it’s from?  Family from England?”

“No, it’s been forwarded to you by our base in Reykjavik, where it had been originally sent.  They thought it could be urgent, and sent it straight away to you.  I think it was lucky to make the courier plane in time.  Or you would have received it tomorrow.”

“Reykjavik?” Scarlet repeated, frowning.  “From Jessica’s hospital, maybe?”

“It doesn’t look like an official document,” Symphony noted.  “Maybe from your cousin herself?”

Scarlet had ripped the envelope open to find out.  He took a folded white paper out and quickly unfolded it.  The others watched expectantly as he read, in silence.  For a moment, he didn’t say a word.  Then a large smile spread across his face.  Rhapsody leaned over his shoulder and took a look at the letter’s contents.

There were few words.  Only a very crude, childish drawing of a black-haired man dressed in black pants, and red coat and boots, with a strange-looking hat sporting a multicoloured circle.  White wings had been added to the man’s back and there was a brilliant yellow halo surmounting his head.  Only a few, big, blocky words had been added beneath the drawing, surrounded by a quantity of little red hearts:

 

“My Christmas Angel,

hope you get well.

will never forget you.

merry christmas,

Cindy.”

 

 

That brought up a large smile on Rhapsody’s face.  “Oh, that’s so sweet,” she noted, taken the paper and showing it around.  “What do you think?”

Ochre examined the crudely drawn character and nodded mockingly.  “Yep.  It’s him, all right.  Minus the wings and the halo.  She perfectly caught the two-dimensional aspect of his character.”

“You’re a complete philistine, you know that, Fraser?” Symphony retorted with a warning tone, taking the paper from his hand.  “Don’t listen to him, Paul.  It’s a wonderful, very kind thought, from that little girl.”

“Hey!” Ochre protested then, suddenly uncomfortable.  “I didn’t mean to attack the child in any way.  I was only trying to tease Scarlet a little.” He looked up at his colleague, offering an embarrassed smile.  “She IS very sweet, and that’s a kind thing she did for you… Which is not surprising, considering you saved her life, and…”

“Ochre…” Blue warned him with some sympathy, seeing how he was pushing himself further down, “you’d better stop right now.  We understood what you meant.”

Ochre shut instantly.  Still a little embarrassed, he got to his feet, clearing his throat.  “Well, I… er… better go see if I don’t have some duty to attend to.  Have a nice time during your furlough, Karen.  You too, Adam.”

“Merry Christmas, Rick,” both Blue and Symphony answered and Ochre hurriedly left the room.  The door closed on him, and they turned to look at Scarlet, who was still staring at the letter he had received, with some kind of admiring look on his face.

“It seems you made a strong impression on the kid, Paul,” Blue noted, with a large grin.

Scarlet nodded slowly.  “She is a wonderful child,” he said.  “A very courageous little girl, seeing the awful situation she just experienced.  I will never forget her myself.”

“And you know she may be right about you,” Rhapsody remarked with a very fond smile.  He looked at her with inquiring eyes, and she simply nodded, pointing to the simplistic but cute portrait Cindy had made of him.  “You may really be an angel.” Her smile broadened, and she kissed him on the cheek, very slightly.  He responded with a grin of his own and when she drew back, his hand quickly reached for her face and he gave her the same kind of kiss, just grazing her lips.

“Merry Christmas, Rhapsody Angel.”

“And a Happy Christmas to you…” her smile became a mischievous one, “… My Christmas angel.”

 

 

THE END

 

 

This story is based on characters created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson for the TV series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. 

Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, all characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.  Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, T.V.  media, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.

Some references in this story come from the story “A Cross to Bear”, by Mary J. Rudy, to whom I take the opportunity to present my thanks, along to Hazel Kohler, for their advices and corrections to this story

The character of Jessica Blake, cousin to Captain Scarlet, is my own creation. The name of ‘Blake’ comes from the idea that the character of Paul Blake, from the series Secret Service, is really Scarlet’s grandfather, from his mother’ side.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this story, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

Chris Bishop

 

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