A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” short story
By Chris Bishop
NOTE: This story takes place shortly after the events in the TV episode “The Mysterons,” and somewhere in the middle of the fanfic story “Chance for a Lifetime” written by Mary J. Rudy.
So the surprise of this story won’t be spoiled, I put the Acknowledgement note at the end of it. Please DON’T read it until you’re through with the story!
Thanks for Hazel Kohler and Mary J. Rudy for proof-reading this story.
Colonel White stood uneasily in a dark room in Cloudbase's sickbay, before the glass window that permitted him to peer into the next room. Knowing that the people on the other side could not see him in return wasn’t making it any easier on him. He felt like some kind of morbid Peeping Tom, and hated every second of it. At least one of the two men on the other side knew he was there. The second, for whom this… ‘experiment’, for lack of a better word, was taking place, could only guess.
He was calm enough, White noticed, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He certainly didn’t look as if he had anything to hide. He had agreed to this, after all, and was fully aware of what was at stake here. His career being the least of it. His very life being the most.
“I don’t like any of this.” Captain Blue, standing to the colonel’s right, had uttered those words in a grim voice. His superior officer nodded his agreement.
“Me neither, but it has become necessary. And Captain Scarlet has agreed… almost begged to go through the test.”
“Well, if he’s the same guy, that doesn’t surprise me,” Blue noted in reply. “He wants things out in the open. Even if it means risking everything.”
“I suspect he wants to know what happened as much as we do,” White retorted. “I imagine that, if I had the kind of memory loss he has, I would too.” It was much more than a memory loss, he added to himself. Discreetly, he did not voice his concern.
On the other side of the window, the object of their attention, dressed in pyjamas, sat beside a padded examination bed. If Captain Scarlet appeared calm from the outside, he didn’t know how to sort out and control the many emotions that roiled inside him. That turmoil he was feeling was enough to drive any man crazy.
But Paul Metcalfe wasn’t any ordinary man. A year and a half ago, he had been chosen to be part of Spectrum, an elite military organisation that had been conceived to ease the pressure on other world security organisations. Save for the probable exception of Captain Black, Captain Scarlet was regarded as the best of Spectrum’s field agents and officers, carrying out his orders with determination, doing his duty at all costs, pushing himself to risk life and limb in the service and for the safety of others, and always in control of the situation and of himself.
Yesterday, he was told, he had lost control. In a way he would never have thought conceivable. He didn’t know the details – they wouldn’t allow him to know too much yet, but he was sure that, whatever it was he had done, or what the others thought he had done, must have been terrible, if he were to judge by the way they were treating him. And it was so frustrating not to remember anything about it... He just woke up in Cloudbase sickbay, after a terrible car accident he thought had brought an end to his life. Obviously, it hadn’t, though his partner and friend, Captain Brown, who was with him at the time, had died. For Scarlet, the questions and the accusations began.
He had threatened World Security, according to Agent Wade, of Spectrum Intelligence. He had jeopardized the entire mission he had been entrusted with by his superior, Colonel White – to guard the life of the World President with his own, to protect him against the threat to his life these… ‘Mysterons from Mars’ had pronounced against him. He had acted like a traitor…
Yet, perhaps he wasn’t responsible for his actions, and that was what the questioning from Spectrum Intelligence had been trying to establish for the last few hours. The questions Senior Agent Wade and his assistant, Agent Conners, asked Scarlet were puzzling, though; as if they somehow doubted his identity.
That was a curious, uncomfortable impression. Up until now, the questioning, and Scarlet’s truthful answers to it, hadn’t shed any light on the many questions he was asking himself. There were gaps – unexplainable gaps in his memory that made those accusations seem so horribly true. He had to know what had happened, he wanted to know, as much as the others. By any means possible.
That was the reason why he had agreed to go through with this experiment.
Standing next to Scarlet, Doctor Fawn, Cloudbase medical chief officer, was attending to the last details of it. He had asked the captain to unbutton his pyjama top, and had put a stethoscope on his chest, to check on his heartbeat and breathing. That done, he invited his patient to lie down on the bed.
“Am I still all right, doctor?” Scarlet asked, obediently complying with the request, and resting his head on the elevated part of the table.
“Yes, Captain, you’re doing fine,” Doctor Fawn answered quietly. “You’re in better health than most of my patients, actually.”
“Rather surprising, considering the dive I took in that car, wouldn’t you say?”
Fawn nodded, without really answering. He had been instructed not to comment on any of this with the patient, until further notice. He didn’t like it, but those were his orders.
He put some liquid onto Scarlet’s chest with a cotton applicator, and then applied an electrode conductor. The captain shivered uncomfortably under the cool touch and raised his dark head to look as the doctor positioned another electrode, just below his ribcage.
“We want to keep track of your vitals, Captain,” Fawn explained, seeing Scarlet’s worried look. He applied two other conductors, one on the patient’s forearm and the other on his temple and then secured a leather strap around his chest. That last detail got Scarlet a little more worried. Fawn shook his head. “For your security, Captain…”
“Mine… or yours?” Scarlet asked suspiciously.
“This experiment could prove a little… bumpy for you. Believe me, I’ve seen this sort of thing before. I don’t want you to fall off the table and hurt yourself.”
“If you say so, Doctor.” Scarlet watched as Fawn turned to a monitor next to him, to which were hooked the many sensors he had applied to his patient. He powered it up; a series of lines appeared on the dark screen, drawing steady patterns, each with a different beeping sound. All seemed normal enough. Scarlet stared at the sight for a second, before laying his head back on the padded surface. “I hate those things,” he muttered.
“Having second thoughts, Captain?” Fawn asked him carefully.
Scarlet shook his head. “No. It just reminds me of that lie detector test I took earlier on. I mean, I really hated having to go through that. I’m not too thrilled about this either, but…” He shrugged. “I suppose I just want to get my life back on track when this is finished.”
Fawn nodded his understanding. He had his doubts, however, that Captain Scarlet would ever get his life back the way it was before the dreadful incident of the day before. What he himself had witnessed, since the young man had been brought to him, defied everything he knew. The body had endured a vertiginous 800-foot drop; it was crushed, its limbs broken, all signs of life were gone. And yet, it began to repair itself, apparently out of nothing. In a matter of hours, wounds that would normally be fatal had completely disappeared, without the slightest scratch apparent, and the body was whole again. Never, in all his life, had Fawn seen anything like that.
He knew that what he had seen was the manifestation of the Mysterons’ powers. This man… Fawn wasn’t even sure of his identity. Yesterday, the man he knew as ‘Captain Scarlet’ had been killed in a car crash. Of that, he was certain. And the Mysterons had somehow used the dead man’s body to create a replica, some kind of clone, totally devoted to their service. They wanted the World President dead; the replica had kidnapped his target, but his mission went wrong. It was the duplicate body that had been brought back to Cloudbase. But after he had healed, and regained his senses, he acted exactly like the man he was created from. By some strange occurrence, he had retained the real Scarlet’s consciousness, along with that miraculous healing process, but none of his memories of what he had done while under Mysteron control.
Doctor Fawn knew that further tests would have to be conducted, to try to understand more of this body’s ability, and how it succeeded in doing what he could do… But he was conscious that would have to wait, until the end of Spectrum Intelligence’s investigation of the claims of this man.
But perhaps this experiment that was about to take place would be of some help to his investigation too.
The door slid open and two other people entered. The first, a woman in her early forties, dressed in a white jacket, just like Fawn, came to sit right next to him, on one side of the examination table. The second, a tall man in civilian clothing, with a multi-coloured security badge pinned to his pocket, approached to look quizzically at Doctor Fawn.
“Is he ready?”
Fawn frowned; he didn’t like the all-too-official tone of Special Agent Martin Conners. Neither did he like the obvious way he kept referring to Scarlet like some piece of furniture.
“Ask him yourself,” the doctor replied.
“Captain Scarlet?” Conners asked, looking down at the Spectrum officer. “I’m sure you’re aware of what this experiment could imply?”
“Yes, I am, Agent Conners,” Scarlet answered softly. “I signed the waiver card Doctor Fawn gave me.”
“That’s not what I meant, Captain. What we discover during this test could have a tremendous impact on your career…”
“Not to mention my life, eh, Mister Conners?” Scarlet nodded. “I’m ready. Whatever you’re looking for, go for it.”
Conners gave a nod of his own. “Doctor Fawn will stay here. He will give you the injection and assure himself that nothing goes wrong for you, physically. Doctor Weiss here will do the same, regarding the psychological aspect of the experiment…”
“If you don’t mind, Mister Conners,” the woman then said, with a calm and even voice, “I’d rather address the captain directly. I’ll tell him myself how we will proceed.”
Conners sighed. “Suit yourself, doctor.”
Scarlet looked at the woman and gave her a smile. “Hello, doctor.”
“Hello, Paul,” Doctor Shawna Weiss responded, with a smile of her own. She was Spectrum Medical Centre’s head psychiatrist, and had always preferred to address her patients by their first name, rather than the colour-coded one assigned to them by Spectrum. She always said that this way, she was keeping a closer relationship with them, which was invaluable in her kind of work. “How are you doing?”
“I’ve had better days.”
Doctor Fawn, who was working on the other side of the bed, gave a nod to the psychiatrist and turned his attention to the glass table standing next to him. He took one of the many syringes on it and began preparing it for the upcoming injection, while Doctor Weiss addressed Captain Scarlet, still in her cool and reassuring voice. “Now, Paul, so you won’t feel too nervous, I will explain to you exactly what we’ll be doing. Doctor Fawn will be giving you the injection of truth serum. When you’re totally under it, I’ll conduct the interrogation, and ask the questions. Mister Conners here is present mainly as an observer, but he may ask some of his own questions, at some point. However, I’ll make sure he doesn’t upset you… I want you to be totally relaxed. There’s absolutely no need for you to worry about anything…”
“Easy for you to say,” Scarlet mumbled.
“You trust me, don’t you, Paul?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then you should not worry. You know I won’t trick you into saying anything that may incriminate you.”
“Well, at least, if there isn’t anything TO incriminate me.”
Doctor Weiss smiled again. “Nothing you say will change much about what we already know about you. We’re just trying to find some more information about what happened yesterday, and if you have any hidden memories regarding the Mysterons. That may help us understand more about them.”
Scarlet nodded quietly. Doctor Weiss gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “We’re using Pentothal XK-3 for this experiment, Paul. It will put you into a deep hypnotic trance, in a matter of seconds. I know you’ve been trained to resist the effects of this kind of drug. I want you to try not to resist it, in any way, so this experiment won’t be too unpleasant for you – and easier for all of us.”
Another nod from the patient. Doctor Fawn, who had finished preparing his syringe, then addressed him in turn, and gestured toward the monitor. “We’ll keep close track of your vitals throughout the experiment. We don’t expect anything to go wrong, but if it does, we’ll stop it right away. Doctor Weiss will bring you out of your trance and, should her efforts fail, I have an antidote here for the effects of the XK-3. I’ll use it if necessary.”
“You don’t have to tell me this,” Scarlet replied, frowning. “I told you, I trust you…”
“It is necessary we tell you,” Doctor Weiss retorted. “If only to ease your worries…”
“The scans say you are a little nervous,” Doctor Fawn nodded, his eyes on the monitor. “That’s quite normal, mind you… Just try to relax.”
“We won’t let anything happen to you, Paul,” Doctor Weiss added. “Now, are there any questions you’d like to ask before we begin?”
Scarlet nodded. “Will I remember anything of what I might tell you?”
Doctor Weiss shook her head. “Frankly, I don’t know. The effects of the XK-3 are unpredictable in that respect. There is a fifty-fifty chance of you either remembering, or not. In addition, what was done to you is rather unusual, and we don’t know exactly how it has affected your mind.”
“Wish you’d tell me what those Mysterons actually did to me,” Scarlet muttered roughly.
Doctor Weiss exchanged concerned glances with Doctor Fawn. Since Captain Scarlet had first revived the day before, security had been high around him. He didn’t know what had happened to him and nobody had told him precisely yet. He had just been informed that the Mysterons had used him, somehow… He would probably never have been told even that if he hadn’t worked it out for himself. Since Agents Wade and Conners had been questioning him for hours, it wasn’t really difficult for him to figure it out, anyway.
He didn’t remember anything that had happened to him, except for the moments that preceded that dreadful car accident.
An accident he didn’t know yet had taken his life.
“You’ll be told what happened, Paul,” Doctor Weiss promised him, “as soon as we understand it ourselves.”
“Fair enough.” Scarlet smiled lightly. “Shall we begin, then?”
Doctor Weiss nodded. “Yes, we’ll begin. Doctor Fawn…?”
Fawn picked up his syringe and pressed the needle into Scarlet’s left forearm. “Close your fist, Captain… It will sting for only a second…” He made the injection. Scarlet didn’t even blink. Agent Conners had drawn up a stool, so he could observe the experiment more closely.
Doctor Weiss gave Scarlet a reassuring smile. “Now, Paul, close your eyes and begin to count from zero to ten… Slowly… Take your time.”
Scarlet nodded; closing his eyes, he began to count. The others waited patiently as he did so.
When he reached ten, he opened one eye and gave Doctor Weiss a mischievous stare. “Hey, Doctor, what do I do now that I’ve counted to ten? Do you want me to continue?”
Doctor Weiss looked up at a perplexed Fawn. “Don’t you feel the effect of the serum yet, Captain?” the chief medical officer asked the patient.
“Not in the least… You could have injected me with water, for all the effect it’s had.”
“Well, impossible or not, I don’t feel anything,” Scarlet said with a grin.
“Give him another injection,” Agent Conners then demanded.
Doctor Fawn frowned deeply. “I don’t know if it’s wise…”
“Please, Doctor, do as the man says,” Scarlet sighed. “I’m betting Mister Conners is as eager as I am to get this over and done with. And since that first injection didn’t have the desired effect…”
“You see, Doctor?” Conners said, shrugging. “Even the captain agrees with me. Give him a second injection.”
Fawn glanced at the monitor; all the readings were that of a normal, healthy, fully conscious man. He shook his head and took another syringe. He was about to administer the second injection when he stopped dead.
The first needle mark on Scarlet’s forearm had completely disappeared. It was as if he’d never received any injection at all.
“What is it, Doctor?” Doctor Weiss asked him.
“Nothing,” Fawn lied, frowning in puzzlement. “Captain Scarlet… you really don’t feel anything of that first injection?”
“Not a thing, Doctor.”
“What about your arm? Does it still sting?”
“Hardly felt it in the first place… And I don’t feel any discomfort from it now. What is it, are you worried about how you give your jabs?”
Again, Fawn shook his head. He would have to investigate this later on. But he was betting everything he had that this phenomenon somehow had something to do with the ability of this body to repair itself.
He gave the second injection. Following Doctor Weiss’ instructions, Scarlet closed his eyes and counted again.
Reaching ten, he stopped; the others stared at him expectantly for a few seconds.
“Paul, do you hear me?” Doctor Weiss softly called to him.
Captain Scarlet blew out a heavy sigh. “Loud and clear, doctor.” He opened his eyes again and glanced at Fawn. “Maybe this stuff of yours isn’t as strong as you thought?”
“What is this?” Conners grumbled in annoyed frustration. “Shouldn’t that man be deep under the drug’s influence?”
“He should,” Fawn replied roughly. He was looking at Scarlet’s forearm. The second mark he just made on it had disappeared already. “I… wish I could offer an explanation.”
“Are you resisting the effects of the serum, Captain?” Conners asked Scarlet accusingly.
The Spectrum officer shrugged. “Hey, I’m cooperating the best I can here. I’ve done nothing to reproach myself for.”
“That’s what we’re trying to find out, Scarlet.”
“Mister Conners,” Doctor Weiss then said coldly, “I thought we agreed you wouldn’t do or say anything that would disturb my patient…”
Behind the glass window, Colonel White and Captain Blue witnessed the scene with curiosity and mystification. The American captain was uneasily shifting from one foot to the other. “What’s going on in there?” he grumbled. “Do you think Captain Scarlet really is resisting the effects of the serum, sir?”
“If he is, I’ve got the feeling he’s not doing it consciously,” White answered gravely.
“What do you mean, sir?”
“Let’s see where this takes us first, if you will, Captain.”
In the other room, Conners was addressing Doctor Weiss and Doctor Fawn angrily, while Captain Scarlet watched the scene in silent amusement.
“You said you’re using XK-3 serum on him. Maybe it’s not strong enough. Why not use that new XK-4? I heard it’s the ultimate in truth serum and that nobody can resist it.”
“Oh, sure!” Fawn answered, rolling his eyes. “It’s quite fine when you want to endanger your patient’s health! The XK-4 solution is far too unpredictable. It’s notorious for having disastrous side effects, like brain emboli… And I’m not about to mix treatments. Now maybe you don’t care about that, but I’m not about to put my patient’s life at risk!”
Conners sighed. “Then give him another injection. And double the dose if necessary.”
Fawn hesitated; oddly, Scarlet’s vitals were still going strong, and right now, there was no indication whatsoever that the patient’s life would be put at risk if given another shot. He realized he really was in completely unknown territory, confronted with this body’s strange abilities. Nothing he knew of human physiology could be of any help here.
“Captain?” he asked Scarlet. “I’m going to give you that other shot. I’ll prepare a double dose, as Mister Conners suggests, but I’ll give it to you gradually. If you feel any discomfort…”
“I think you’ll notice it before I do, Doctor,” Scarlet replied, nodding toward the monitor. “Go ahead. I won’t hold it against you.”
Doctor Fawn sighed. He prepared the new injection and then slowly gave half of it to his patient, his eyes riveted on the monitor. There was a faint variation in the brainwave patterns, but nothing remotely sufficient for what was needed. He injected the whole of the syringe, very carefully.
He saw Scarlet, who had closed his eyes, wince.
Finally, Fawn thought with relief. A reaction… He kept watching the brainwave patterns, while Doctor Weiss approached more closely.
“We’ll do it differently now, Paul,” she said. “Start counting backward this time. From ten, to zero.”
Scarlet nodded quietly. “This is getting boring,” he sighed tiredly. “Okay, then… As you wish. Ten, nine, eight…”
Conners had come closer to Fawn, and was leaning over his shoulder. “Are you sure he won’t try to deceive us with some trick?” he whispered.
Fawn waved to him to stay quiet; he was keeping one eye on the monitor and one on the patient. The latter’s voice was quietly trailing away, to become nothing more than a faint murmur, barely audible, when he reached three.
“Look at the monitor, Mister Conners,” Fawn then said. “See those brainwaves? They can’t be tricked… except maybe for yoga masters who have total control over their own body functions. Which is not the case with Captain Scarlet.”
“Paul,” Doctor Weiss was calling the patient. “Do you hear me?” He mumbled; waved his hand as if trying to brush away an annoying fly. Doctor Weiss smiled slightly. “Open your eyes.”
He did, only to stare at the high ceiling. He frowned, as if disoriented to find himself there.
“Look at me, Paul.”
Scarlet turned his head to stare at Doctor Weiss, seated next to him. He welcomed her with a big broad smile. “Hi, doc! How’s it going?” His voice slurred as if he were drunk. The psychiatrist smiled back at him.
“You recognize me, then.”
“Of course… You’re Shawna Weiss… Spectrum Medical Centre psy… You come to Cloudbase once a year…”
“That’s right. That’s who I am. How do you feel, right now?”
He gave a long, heavy sigh, before settling himself comfortably on the bed. “Good… I feel good… What have I been drinking? My head is a little fuzzy…”
“Are you relaxed?”
“Oh, sure, doc… Like I haven’t been for a long time.”
“That’s quite fine. Can you tell me who you are?”
“You know my name, Doctor… What’s the matter? Too much booze for you too?”
“I would like for you to tell it to me, please.”
“My name’s Paul Metcalfe…”
“And who is Paul Metcalfe?”
A short pause. “Captain Scarlet, from Spectrum.”
Doctor Weiss nodded. “That’s good, Paul. Now that we know who we both are, we’re going to have a little chat…”
“About what?” Scarlet asked with a curious look.
“We’re going to explore your memory,” Doctor Weiss responded quietly. “We will be trying to find out what happened yesterday.”
Scarlet’s face gave a quick flinch, as if he wasn’t so sure it was such a great idea. The shadow of a doubt crossed his eyes. Noticing this, Doctor Weiss touched his arm in a reassuring way. “Do you trust me, Paul?”
“Yes…” Scarlet answered, but he sounded unsure.
“Are you afraid of something?” He didn’t respond. Weiss smiled. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. They’re only memories. They can’t harm you. I know some of them may be difficult, even painful, but it is necessary we learn what they are, so you’ll be free of them. I’ll be there to help you. I will not let anything hurt you. Are you still with me?”
“Good, then. Do you remember your last mission, Paul? Your last mission for Spectrum?”
“With… Captain Brown?”
Another shadow crossed Scarlet’s blue eyes. Doctor Weiss gave a nod and continued in a soothing voice, “Yes, with Captain Brown. Can you tell me what you remember of it?”
Scarlet shook his head and frowned deeply, before looking away. “Don’t want to…”
“Why is that, Paul?” No answer. Obviously, Scarlet was fighting some very bad, very deep memories he didn’t want to recall. Doctor Weiss then tried another approach to try to reach him.
“What was your relationship with Captain Brown, Paul?”
A faint smile came across Scarlet’s features. “Steve was my partner. My friend, too.”
“Steve Blackburn. That was his name.”
“Oh, that’s right… Can you tell me a little bit about Steve?”
Standing behind Doctor Fawn, Agent Conners was quickly losing his patience, and was shifting from one foot to the other. He bent toward Fawn. “What does that give us?” he hissed between his teeth. “We’re here to find out what happen after that car crash, not to have some casual conversation…”
“I’ll thank you to keep quiet, Agent Conners,” Doctor Fawn replied in a harsh whisper. “You’re not very subtle. Doctor Weiss knows what she’s doing. Let her do her job and don’t question her methods. She’ll get results.”
Doctor Weiss feigned not to hear Conners’ intervention, but gave a grateful, though quick look toward Fawn. For his part, Captain Scarlet didn’t even seem to notice what had just happened.
“Steve was an Australian,” he was saying, eagerly answering Weiss’ request. “One of the best pilots I’ve ever known.” His smile became a fond one. “A real daredevil… always pulling crazy stunts… That got him into trouble with Colonel White not so long ago.”
“How so, Paul?”
“Him and Adam, and Karen… They each took an Angel craft, pretending to test their manoeuvrability… Drew circles around each other in the sky, all around Cloudbase… Oh, what a beautiful sight that was!”
“Must have been. How did that get Steve into trouble, though?”
“Told you… he was always pulling crazy stunts. THIS time, would you believe, he actually ‘threaded the needle’ between the Cloudbase Control Tower support pylons! That was enough to get him into trouble right there. But as if THAT weren't enough, THEN he buzzed the Promenade Deck!” Scarlet gave a low chuckle. “I was there with the colonel, and Dianne, and… and Conrad.” He frowned. Weiss took mental note of his hesitation at that moment. “We were having our normal Sunday tea… The colonel was startled by it, nearly fell backwards off his chair, and broke one of his antique cups…” A big grin was now threatening to split Scarlet’s face in two.
Behind the window, Colonel White, for his part, was scowling with obvious displeasure, hearing this story he would have rather forgotten. Captain Blue, a bit embarrassed, but nonetheless amused, was trying his very best to keep a straight face, while not looking too closely at his disgruntled commander.
“Is something the matter, Captain?” White asked rather harshly, without turning toward the younger man.
“I’d better not hear you chuckle.”
It was bad enough, thought the Spectrum commander, that Doctor Weiss was now answering to the story with a grin of her own.
“I can see why the colonel was angry at Steve now,” she was saying to Scarlet.
“He grounded him for months!” Scarlet continued, laughing. “Steve… He was so depressed. Didn’t have the chance for a really big assignment just yet. That was before… before…”
Scarlet’s voice trailed off. He kept staring at the ceiling, hesitating again. Doctor Weiss touched him gently. “Before that mission concerning the Mysterons?”
He gave a nervous nod, and then quickly hid his face in the palms of his hands. Doctor Weiss heard him utter a faint, sobbing sigh. She quizzically glanced at Doctor Fawn, who was still checking the traces on the monitor. He motioned to her that it was still safe to continue.
“Take a deep breath, Paul,” she told the patient. “Calm down… You’re not alone. I’m here with you.” He passively obeyed, and put his arms back to his sides. “Are you all right, now? More relaxed?”
“Are you ready to tell me what happened with Steve?”
He nodded briefly, but the idea was still obviously unsettling him. She thanked him with a satisfied smile. Her voice was soft and gentle when she next spoke to him. “All right, then… Close your eyes… Try to stay calm. Breathe deeply again…”
Scarlet nodded again. He had closed his eyes and, following Weiss’ further instructions, was taking long, deep breaths. The psychiatrist stared at Doctor Fawn, still watching all this. As for Agent Conners, he was keeping silent.
“He’s still quite uncomfortable about remembering what happened,” she whispered. “Despite his best efforts, he still resists some of my questions.”
“Why not give him some more serum?” Conners suggested.
“It could help, doctor,” Doctor Weiss added, before a reluctant Fawn could tell the Spectrum Intelligence man what he thought of his suggestion. “It would help him relax a little more. Of course, if it’s not too dangerous for him…”
Fawn looked at the indicators on the monitor. “Vitals are still strong,” he muttered. “The brainwaves have fluctuated a bit for the last minute or so. He could wake up in about five minutes… All right, I’ll give him one more. The LAST one,” he added quickly. “He’s already had a lot. More could have disastrous effects.”
He kept to himself that Captain Scarlet had already far exceeded the limits of known human tolerance for the drug. There was no sense in burdening Doctor Weiss with that right now. She had enough to concern herself with for the moment. Fawn took a note to examine this strange phenomenon more closely after this.
He gave the last injection, very carefully, keeping his eyes on the monitor. Scarlet gave a low grunt and became a little restless. Fawn gave a nod. “All right, doctor. It should be sufficient. You can continue.”
Weiss bent over Scarlet. “Paul? Can you still hear me?”
The patient muttered a few inaudible words. “You’re not sleeping now, are you?” Doctor Weiss added in a humorous tone.
He sighed. “…Trying my best to…”
A faint smile crossed Doctor Weiss’ face. “All right, Paul. Now we will be trying something else. I’m going to bring you back to the events of yesterday. You will relive what happened. And we’ll start just before the car crash… You remember the crash, don’t you?”
She saw him cringe. Yes, she realized. He does remember it.
“You’re in a Spectrum Saloon car,” Doctor Weiss continued softly. “You’re with Captain Brown – Steve – on a road, speeding in the direction of New York. You’re en route for your next mission, to protect the World President whose life has been threatened by the Mysterons… Are you there, Paul?”
“Yes…” Scarlet swallowed hard. There was some tension apparent on his face as he continued uneasily, “Yes, I am… I’m… I’m behind the wheel… driving the car…”
He could see himself, in the car. Steve sat next to him, in the passenger seat. Good old Steve… so glad to be finally given a real assignment. He had such a good feeling that it was going to be a success. Right now, they were talking, trying to keep their minds off the mission for just a moment, before it really started.
“So, when are you seeing your wife again?” Scarlet asked, his eyes on the road. “It’s been a while, eh?”
“Yeah, too long, unfortunately,” Steve sighed.. “Since I’ve been grounded by the old man… Too bad this mission doesn’t take us to London!”
“The Security Building in New York is much safer,” Scarlet reminded his friend. He gave a big grin. “When’s Becky having the kid, anyway?”
“It’s scheduled for four weeks from now… I’m so nervous about this, you have no idea. I hope to be there for the birth. Think the colonel will let me?”
“I don’t know… Just try to keep quiet for a little while. Maybe he’ll forget all about that old cup he lost because of you.”
“The colonel never forgets, Paul.”
“Yeah, but MAYBE he will forgive.” Scarlet smiled, seeing his friend’s gloomy features. “Come on, you know that the colonel only grounded you because he had your best interests at heart…”
Steve scoffed loudly. “Oh, really? He has a funny way of showing it!”
“Be fair, Steve. I was there, remember? What did he tell you?”
“Called me an irresponsible fool…”
“And told you he was grounding you for your own safety, and that he wanted your kid to actually HAVE a father when it was born. You could have killed yourself with a stunt like that!”
“I knew what I was doing…” Steve sighed. “Yeah, maybe I was a bit irresponsible… You’re right. I’m not being fair to the old man.”
Scarlet’s epaulettes flashed white, notifying him that Cloudbase Control Room was trying to reach him.
“Speak of the devil…” Steve noted quietly.
“Yep,” Scarlet nodded, dropping down his cap mike. “Back to business…”
“Colonel White is trying to reach us,” Scarlet said to Weiss with a sudden tone of urgency. “He wants to give us his last orders, before we reach New York…”
His voice had changed drastically; from the casual tone it previously had, while relating his conversation with Captain Brown, it had quickly become professional, even formal. Doctor Weiss modified her approach accordingly.
“What are those orders, Captain?”
“The World President is to be escorted to the New York Maximum Security Building… The colonel’s put Brown in charge of the operation. I… I’m to return to Cloudbase after Brown makes contact with the World President.”
Behind the glass, White was looking at Scarlet attentively, listening to his every word. So far, so good, he thought. Captain Scarlet’s account of the events seemed to be in accordance with what he knew. Now, if he didn’t miss his guess, the accident should be happening soon…
“What happens after Colonel White’s call?” Doctor Weiss asked her patient.
“I congratulate Steve… His first big mission, you know? Probably something he would brag about to his child…” Scarlet frowned. “We… we’re discussing whether the Mysterons can carry out their threat. Steve seems doubtful.”
“Not you, though?”
“No… I think they can do it. I… I have a feeling they’re with us all the time…” Scarlet stopped suddenly, his voice catching in his throat. “Something’s wrong,” he rasped.
“What is it?”
“I… A tyre’s exploded!” Scarlet responded, unnerved. “But… that’s impossible! We’re in a Spectrum Saloon! Those tyres don’t explode so easily!” He frowned. “The Mysterons…” He tried to rise from the bed. The strap Fawn had put around his chest previously held him back; he let his head fall back on the padded surface. “I’m losing control of the car… I can’t control it!”
Captain Scarlet was at the wheel of the car, battling to regain control of it as it swerved crazily across the road. He found he couldn’t do anything constructive at all… At his side, he could see the pale, frightened face of his partner and friend.
“We’re never going to make it!” he said, with a croak in his voice.
Then he saw it. The car was heading straight at an embankment.
“Look out, Steve!”
The car jumped over the embankment and Scarlet saw nothing but the ravine in front of him. “Dear God, no…” The car tumbled down the ravine, overturning time and time again. Scarlet couldn’t really see anything. All was confusion and chaos, and pain as his now battered body was dragged along for the ride, prisoner of the falling, toppling vehicle. He noticed at some point, with horror, that Steve wasn’t near him anymore. His door was open, and his seat empty…
His mind barely had time to register that before he felt himself flung from the car, still attached to his seat. He didn’t know how he found himself free of the seat… Maybe he had somehow found the strength to press the release buckle of the security harness attaching him to it. He connected roughly on the sharp rocks of the ravine; something hit both his legs… He couldn’t see if it was some wreckage from the car or something else. It made him cry out in pain…
“What is happening, Paul? Tell me what is causing you such pain!”
Doctor Weiss felt somehow alarmed when she saw her patient writhe and cry out. She looked worriedly at Fawn who was still checking the monitor, but this time with a worried look on his face. The readings had changed significantly.
“The heartbeat has increased, breathing is laborious… He’s panicking...” Fawn quickly stared at Weiss. “He’s reliving his death, here…”
“His death, really?” Conners muttered behind him.
An annoyed Fawn was about to admonish him, when he suddenly stopped in his tracks, his eyes still on the monitor. “Wait, he’s calming down…”
Doctor Weiss nodded; she had noticed that too. Scarlet was still clearly distressed, but his eyes were still closed and he had ceased to agitate himself so violently. His forehead was literally drenched with sweat and he was panting loudly.
“Paul, do you hear me?”
He shook his head nervously. “Yes,” he gasped faintly. “Yes, I hear you… Oh God, I…”
“Can you tell me what happened just there?”
“The car… the car went over the embankment into the ravine…” He swallowed hard. “Can’t believe… I’m alive.” He grunted. “Hurts all over… Steve… Where’s Steve? He was thrown out of the car before I was… Where is he?” Scarlet gave a faint cry. “God, the pain…”
“Are you still in the car?”
“No… No, the car exploded,” the captain replied swiftly. “I was… thrown clear of it just before.”
Scarlet was lying on his back, on the steep rocky slope of the ravine, bleeding from multiple wounds. His head felt horribly heavy. His whole body was hurting, and he had tremendous difficulty breathing regularly, as each breath he drew was an agony. Something wet was spreading rapidly inside his chest. Internal bleeding, he realized with dread. He was injured badly.
Scattered all around him were the remains of the Saloon. The main chassis was downhill, a few feet away from him, burning as if plunged into an inferno. He could feel the terrible heat of the fire…
So close… he was so close to the flames. He had to get away from there. He tried to move, to rise from where he was lying, but the pain pulled him down. A cry of pain escaped him…
“I can’t use my legs!”
The desperate cry reached the observers behind the glass. All they were witnessing now somehow unsettled Captain Blue and Colonel White. Hearing the words, the Spectrum commander had opened a file he held in his hands and was now quickly consulting it. Blue seemed perplexed by something he had heard Scarlet say, a short moment ago.
“According to Doctor Fawn,” he noted dully, “Scarlet was still in the car when it exploded… he was burned badly by the fire, which would seem to prove it.” He hesitated a moment. “Of course, I’m talking about the… other body, sir. I mean…”
“I know, Captain,” White interrupted him. He tapped a document in the file. “This is the doctor’s report on the examination of that body. It says that both legs had been shattered in the crash…” He stared at Blue for a very short moment. The American shook his head, obviously troubled. White closed the file, and returned his attention to the patient. “At least, this is in accordance with his statement. Let’s see what else he’ll tell us.”
“I hope this will be over soon,” Blue grumbled. “I don’t feel too good about this. I don’t know how he can take it.”
He nodded toward Captain Scarlet who was still struggling against the events he was recalling, under the influence of the XK-3 drug. Doctor Weiss was doing her best trying to keep contact with him, as he continued to talk.
“I must get away from the flames…” Scarlet was mumbling. “Have to climb up…”
Have to climb… But how was he going to make it? Every movement was excruciatingly painful. Yet, Scarlet managed to progress, ever so slowly, hauling himself with only his arms, pushing himself higher up the slope, and farther away from the raging fire down below. His breathing was more and more laborious; the pain almost unbearable.
There was a ledge… Up there, just out of his reach. A flicker of hope rekindled in Scarlet’s battered mind. He had to get there. If he could access it, crawl onto it, he would be safe from the burning wreck downhill.
He moved toward the ledge. The slope was so steep, so uneven… It was threatening to slip right out from under him, and send him sliding down toward the flames and his death. His left hand, trembling, hurting like all the rest of his body, finally reached his goal… But he couldn’t pull himself up further…
“I’ve got to make it…” Doctor Weiss heard her patient say. “I’m almost there…” he rasped. “Not strong enough… I’m losing it… God, don’t let me slide into the flames…” He stopped; and Doctor Weiss saw him frown, and then frantically turn his head from side to side, as if he were looking around. Except that his eyes were closed, and what he was searching for was there only in his mind. He looked like a panic-stricken wild animal. “There’s somebody else here!” he shouted.
Doctor Weiss raised her head. Here. This is it. Now we’ll learn something…
“Who’s there, Paul?”
Still hanging on for dear life to the sharp edge of the ledge, Scarlet could distinctly hear heavy footsteps drawing nearer to him; he was aware of a presence there, almost before he saw disturbed pebbles rolling down the ledge, next to his face. He raised his eyes.
A pair of boots appeared just beside the hand that was desperately hanging to the ledge.
“There’s a man…” Scarlet said, shaking his head.
“A man?” Doctor Weiss asked. “What does he looks like?”
“He’s… he’s wearing a Spectrum uniform…”
The despair in Scarlet’s voice was almost palpable. The sounds coming from the monitor had increased their rhythms considerably. Doctor Weiss looked up as a distraught Doctor Fawn read the information given to him by the instruments.
“Heartbeat’s rising very fast… All the readings are off the scale…” The Cloudbase chief medical officer stared back at the psychiatrist. “Whatever – whoever – he’s seeing, it’s frightening the hell out of him. I don’t know how much more of this he can take. You’d better do it fast, now, so we can bring him out as soon as possible.”
Weiss nodded her acknowledgment and turned her attention back to Captain Scarlet.
“Paul, who are you seeing? Can you make out his face?”
“I… No. It’s impossible…”
Scarlet could not answer. All he could think about, all he could see in his mind was that threatening figure standing on that ledge, looking down at him, with that awfully cold, unfeeling stare.
“It’s not possible,” Scarlet murmured again, with a catch in his voice.
“Who is it, Paul?” Doctor Weiss insisted, seeing him hesitate.
Behind the window, Captain Blue and Colonel White were keeping all their attention focused on what was going on. They both had a deep, very bad, feeling something terrible was about to be revealed. Blue had a nagging, very nasty assumption, and what he suspected was something he would rather not think about.
He could not help himself.
“God!” he whispered. “What is he seeing now? I hope… I hope it’s not…”
Blue did not say what was on his mind, and glanced at his commander, standing by his side. He understood by the gloomy, distant, and worried look he saw in the older man’s features that the two of them were sharing the exact same thought.
“Sir, you don’t suppose he’s seeing…”
“I hope we’re wrong, Captain Blue,” White responded, his stare not leaving Scarlet. “For his sake, I hope we’re wrong.”
On the other side of the glass, Doctor Weiss was still trying to learn from a now very reluctant Captain Scarlet what it was that was frightening him so.
“Please, Paul, tell me. Who is it you’re seeing? You know I’m here to help you… Tell me.”
“You can’t help me,” Scarlet rasped. “But… But maybe he can…”
“Who? That man there with you?”
“Help me, please…” Scarlet whispered. He was pleading with the man standing there, doing nothing but staring down at him. “I’m about to let go… Give me a hand, please. I can’t make it without you…”
“Paul, who is it?”
“I beg you…”
“The man you’re seeing… Is he wearing your face?”
“Is it yourself you’re seeing on that ledge, Paul?”
“Who is it?”
The sudden shout startled Doctor Weiss; the revelation it brought with it also. Upon hearing it, from behind the glass where they were standing, Colonel White and Captain Blue stared at each other in disbelief.
“Conrad?” Blue murmured, dumbfounded.
“Conrad,” White whispered, shaking his head. “Captain Black. Dear Lord…”
“He was there?” Blue added. “How… how is that possible?”
His commander did not respond; he had turned his attention back to what was still going on in the other room. The story hadn’t unfolded entirely yet.
And he just knew the worst part was yet to come.
Weiss was leaning over her patient, trying to get him to explain exactly what his memories were telling him.
“Captain Black is there at the scene of the crash, Paul?” she asked Scarlet. He nodded nervously, but kept silent. “You’re sure it is him?”
“Y-yes, it’s him… It’s Conrad,” Scarlet answered uneasily. “I… I beg him to help me… I…” Scarlet frowned, shaking his head with incredulity. “Conrad, give me your hand… I’m slipping! He’s just standing there, staring at me… His eyes… so unfeeling…”
“Conrad, please, why won’t you help me?”
Scarlet saw Conrad crouching calmly over him, and a glimmer of hope then enlightened the injured man’s heart. For a second, he thought his friend’s hand would reach him, but it stopped suddenly, a few inches from its goal…
At that moment, the desperate Scarlet saw another figure of a man coming to stand next to Conrad.
Doctor Weiss saw his patient gasping in surprise. “Steve,” he croaked.
“Steve?” Weiss echoed in a murmur.
It was Steve, standing on the ledge, next to the crouched figure of Conrad. Scarlet couldn’t believe his eyes. “Steve, you’re alive,” he told his partner with relief. “Thank God, you’re alive… Steve, help me.”
But like Captain Black, Captain Brown didn’t answer his friend’s plea. At that moment, Scarlet noticed Brown wasn’t looking at him at all, but was rather concentrating his attention in a direction a little bit lower down to the wounded man’s right. The puzzled British captain looked that way too, wondering what could be catching his partner’s interest to the point that he would dismiss his call for help.
His blood chilled in his veins at the sight that offered itself to his eyes.
“Oh, no!” Doctor Weiss heard Scarlet whisper. “No, no, no, no…”
Panic was sending the lines on the monitor way off the scale. Doctor Fawn addressed a distraught look at the psychiatrist who was trying to keep her patient calm using as soothing a voice as she could produce. “Paul, listen to me… Try to calm down, please…”
“There’s two of him,” Scarlet whispered, almost sobbing, seeming not to hear her. “There’s two of him…”
“Two Captain Browns…” Scarlet’s body was shaking all over. His mind was obviously refusing the vision that was imposing itself.
He saw the motionless body of his friend and partner, downhill, just a few yards away from him. It was lying on its back, and it didn’t seem to have suffered many injuries. Except it was distorted, in a grotesque way… The head was at a strange angle…
“He’s dead,” Scarlet croaked, realizing that instantly. “Steve is dead… But then who’s up there… Who’s up there standing next to Conrad?” His voice caught in his throat. “God, Conrad…”
“What’s happening with Conrad?” Doctor Weiss asked. “Try to stay relaxed, Paul, and tell me…”
“He’s… talking to me.”
The horrified Captain Scarlet couldn’t detach his eyes from the broken body of Captain Brown, so near to him, yet so out of reach. Up there, he could feel the presence of this stranger, wearing his friend’s face. He felt so useless, so terrified to be confronted with a situation he could not even begin to understand.
That’s when he heard the ominous tone of Captain Black addressing him, and it startled him as it would a wild animal. It wasn’t Conrad’s voice at all. It rather sounded like a disturbing rattle coming straight from the far recesses of a coffin. It sent a shiver crawling down Scarlet’s spine.
“I’m sorry, Captain Scarlet…” It immediately drew Scarlet’s attention. He turned to gaze directly into the awfully cold eyes of a man he had once called his friend. The only thing he could read in those eyes was death itself. He felt Black’s hand suddenly seizing his own. “…But the Mysterons have need of you.”
An alarmed Scarlet understood instantaneously it was his own death he was seeing in his friend’s eyes. Without any more warning, Black mercilessly detached his hand from its precarious grip on the ledge and pushed him down the ravine… right toward the wrecked car, still burning a few yards down.
To Doctor Weiss’ utmost surprise, the strap holding her patient down abruptly gave way under his sudden desperate efforts, and a hysterical and very confused Captain Scarlet, eyes wide open, pushed himself up on the bed, tearing away the electrodes attached to him, trying to somehow get free. She couldn’t hope to keep him down on her own, for she knew he was far too strong for her, even without the stress-induced adrenaline rush that had presently increased his strength. Thankfully, Doctor Fawn and even Agent Conners came to her aid. It seemed that even all three of them weren’t enough to keep Scarlet down.
The door of the room slid open and Captain Blue quickly strode in, to come over and offer his assistance. He pushed Doctor Weiss aside and stepped into her place, grabbing his colleague and trying to keep him from struggling so much. He prevented him from falling to the floor and pushed him back onto the bed, maintaining him there forcefully but as gently as he could, considering the situation.
Doctor Weiss approached and tried using a softer tactic to calm the still very frantic patient with only the power of her soothing voice. “Calm down, Paul… you’re out of danger now. It’s finished… It’s okay.” She saw the pupils of his blue eyes trembling. Up until now, they hadn’t seemed to see anything around him, but now, they found her, and his panting calmed down a little. “Doctor Weiss?” he croaked. He saw Blue’s face, so close to him, looking at him with concern, and frowned. “A-Adam?”
Doctor Weiss smiled. “Easy now, my friend… Relax… You’re safe now.”
He gave a long deep sigh and then let his head fall heavily back onto the bed. He closed his eyes. Weiss called to him: “Paul?”
He groaned. “So tired…” he murmured. “I was burning. Conrad… He…”
Doctor Weiss nodded. She heard. Everybody in the room had heard. And judging by the apprehensive look of Captain Blue, there was no doubt he heard it too. Behind her, Colonel White, who had entered very shortly after his staff officer, was quietly approaching. A look at the Spectrum commander informed the psychiatrist that he, too, knew.
She silently motioned to Blue to step aside, and drew nearer to her patient. He was calming down gradually; his breathing was returning to normal. She didn’t need the now useless monitor to know he would soon come totally out of his hypnotic trance.
“Paul, can you still hear me?”
“Leave me alone…” Scarlet grumbled tiredly.
“Conrad pushed you down the ravine,” Doctor Weiss replied, not letting him finish. She saw him wince at the mere mention of that painful episode. “He let you burn in the car wreckage… Do you know what happened next?”
“Don’t you think he’s had enough?” Fawn whispered to her with a frown.
Weiss gave him an annoyed look, while Scarlet was repeating her question: “What… happened next?”
“Yes, Paul,” she quickly told him. “After the fire… Do you remember anything?”
“I…” Scarlet hesitated.
“Do you remember the Mysterons, Paul? What they did to you?”
“I… I see… light.”
“A bright, white light… I… I see faces looking down on me…” Scarlet stopped, and then gave a heavy, obviously relieved sigh. “I’m in a hospital room… Doctor Fawn? I’m… I’m on Cloudbase, then?”
His voice trailed away and then died in a low groan. The agitated man grew quiet and then seemed to fall asleep, out of exhaustion.
Doctor Fawn gave a last look at the monitor. About the only electrode still connected and working was the respiration sensor. “That’s it,” the physician murmured. “You won’t get any more from him.”
“Oh, yeah?” Conners then replied rather coldly. “What makes you say that?”
“You heard him,” Doctor Fawn said, turning a frown full of animosity toward the Spectrum Intelligence agent. “His memories jump from his death in that car crash to the very moment he awakened here, in Cloudbase sickbay. What he said just now were the same words he used when he woke up yesterday. There isn’t anything else.”
“He doesn’t remember at all what happened in between,” Doctor Weiss added with a nod. “Not a single instant he was under Mysteron control.”
“That’s impossible. It must be somewhere there, inside his mind.”
“Well, if it is, we obviously can’t reach it.”
“You don’t think he may be faking this?”
“I sincerely doubt it.”
“Maybe we’ll find out more if we give him another shot of that serum and continue the experiment.”
Doctor Fawn bristled at that suggestion. “No!” he almost shouted.
“Doctor,” Conners replied turning to him, “we must find out…”
“You’ll find out nothing!” Fawn angrily interrupted. “I won’t gave him more of that damned drug! Already, his resistance to it has far exceeded what could have been expected from him. Giving him more of this stuff could kill him!”
“He’s exhausted,” Doctor Weiss added, more calmly. “We’d better leave him alone.”
“I’m not giving up like this,” Conners replied. “This experiment…”
“…is finished, agent Conners.”
That English voice, with a determined accent to it, suddenly boomed out from behind Doctor Weiss’ back. Conners turned to face Colonel White, very imperturbable, looking sternly at him. “I think this experiment has been conclusive as it is,” the Spectrum commander stated flatly. “Don’t you agree?”
Conners hesitated. In these circumstances, Spectrum Intelligence had jurisdiction, but there was some kind of a warning behind the colonel’s intervention. He realized it would be folly to cross swords with the Spectrum commander. He sighed.
“Yes, Colonel. I agree.”
“Good. Then, you’d better present your observations to Agent Wade. I know he’s waiting for them, so he can finalise Intelligence’s report on the affair. Leave the captain to the care of his doctors.”
Conners hesitated again, before nodding his acknowledgement. He gave a last withering look toward the sleeping Scarlet, mumbled a quick farewell to the people in the room, and then, furtively, went out through the sliding door. Doctor Weiss watched him leave, with a suspicious look.
Doctor Fawn was scrutinizing Captain Scarlet’s body, in search of the faint marks he would normally find at the different spots where the many sensors had been applied on him. He couldn’t find any. Even under the last one he had just removed, a few seconds ago. Somehow, that didn’t surprise him.
He looked up, as Colonel White approached the bed with Captain Blue, the same look of concern cast on the man lying there. “How is he?” the Spectrum commander asked.
“Sleeping,” Fawn answered, shaking his head.
“After what he’s been through, it’s not surprising,” Captain Blue noted in a dull tone.
He had hardly spoken, when they all heard Scarlet sighing heavily. They saw him open his eyes, and then immediately try to sit up on the bed.
First surprised to see his patient awake after such an ordeal, Fawn stepped forward and caught him in mid-movement to push him back into a lying position. “Easy now, Captain. I’d advise you to lie still and not move.”
Scarlet did not resist; he laid his head back on the mattress and put his hand to his pounding forehead. “My head!” he moaned. “Talk about a hangover…”
“How are you feeling, Captain?”
That was the voice of Colonel White. He regretted his question right away as he saw the young man trying instantly to straighten up, oblivious to Fawn’s previous warning. Scarlet swung his legs off the bed. “Colonel White! I…”
As soon as he touched the floor, he staggered. He would have fallen face first into his commander’s arms if Blue hadn’t grabbed hold of him in time, and helped him back to the bed.
“Oh, boy… That stuff was pretty heavy.”
“I told you to stay still, Scarlet,” Fawn remarked.
“How… how did the experiment go?” Scarlet asked tiredly. He blinked several times, trying to focus his sight and mind. He had tremendous difficulty doing so. “Did you learn anything?”
“You don’t remember?” Doctor Weiss asked.
“No, I…” Scarlet shook his head. “Last thing I remember is counting backwards. After that, it’s a complete blank… Did I say anything of significance?”
Doctor Weiss put a reassuring hand on her patient’s shoulder. He was obviously still trying to get his ideas straight. The psychiatrist exchanged a glance with Doctor Fawn and shook her head.
“We’ll talk about this later,” she noted. “You’re too tired now.”
Colonel White nodded slowly. “Captain Blue, would you help Captain Scarlet to his room? He needs to rest.”
“S.I.G., sir,” Blue answered eagerly.
“Here, Captain,” Fawn proposed, moving toward a nearby wheelchair, “you’d better use this.”
“It won’t be necessary,” Scarlet mumbled tiredly. “I can manage on my own...”
“THANK you, anyway, Doctor... You won’t get ME in one of those things.”
Scarlet tried again to stand up, but staggered again. For the second time, Blue stopped him from falling; he took Scarlet’s arm and swung it over his shoulder, helping him up. “Come on now, Captain. You’ll be better in your bed.”
Scarlet seemed to notice the presence of his colleague only at this moment. “Hi, there, Blue… How are you doing?”
Blue gave him a faint smile. “Better than yourself, obviously. Come with me, buddy.”
Scarlet nodded tiredly and let Blue help him toward the examination room door, back to the sickbay room that had been assigned to him since the preceding day. Doctor Weiss stood up from her stool, announcing her intention to follow them, to make sure her patient would be comfortable, and then joined the two departing officers. Colonel White, with a frown of concern upon his face, watched as she disappeared beyond the door.
“I’m surprised he was able to walk,” White murmured.
“I’m surprised he’s even awake,” Fawn replied in turn, causing the Spectrum commander to turn toward him. “Colonel, with the quantity of XK-3 he has in his bloodstream, he should be, at the very least, totally knocked out at this time, and in bed for several hours. If not several days. His resistance to the drug is simply phenomenal. Frankly, I’m even surprised we were able to put him under at all. If he hadn’t been willing to do it…”
“Do you have an explanation for this?”
“Yes, I have. But I have to conduct further tests.” Seeing the insistent way White was staring at him, Fawn sighed deeply. “It has to do with what the Mysterons have done to him. That much I’m sure of.”
“You’re referring to that power of regeneration he demonstrated when he first revived here,” White nodded.
“That body’s still doing it, you know? When I was giving him those shots, I kept noticing how the puncture wounds disappeared mere seconds after I made them.”
“His body was healing those punctures?”
“Yeah. Almost instantly.” Fawn snapped his fingers. “And the marks the sensors should have left on his skin? He has none. They were gone almost as I removed the electrodes.”
White stared a moment at Fawn, pondering what would be the best course of action to take now. He nodded slowly.
“Yes, there’s still much to learn, isn’t there?” he murmured. “What happened to him… These are unfamiliar waters.” He cleared his throat. “Doctor, I want you to continue your tests concerning Scarlet’s new ability. Do it discreetly.”
“Too bad his memory doesn’t seem to heal the way his body does…”
Blue came back at that moment, alone. White shot him a concerned look. “How is Scarlet, Captain?”
“He fell asleep almost before his head hit the bunk,” Blue answered with a faint smile. “He looked completely wiped out, Colonel. Doctor Weiss has stayed with him a while, in case he wakes up and needs her care.”
“Did he say anything before falling asleep?”
“Only to ask Doctor Weiss again if the experiment achieved anything.” Blue shook his head. “It doesn’t look like he recalls anything of it, sir.”
“Yes… Doctor Weiss had said there would be an even chance of him not remembering what he said,” White noted.
“Could there be a reason for that, Doctor Fawn?” Blue asked with curiosity.
“I’ll have to confer with Doctor Weiss on that one,” Fawn answered.
“Maybe it’s the same reason that’s preventing him from remembering what he did under the Mysterons’ control,” White added.
“He was in a deep hypnotic trance. Under the influence of a very strong dose of truth serum, and yet… We didn’t find anything in his memory about the time he was under alien control. Not the slightest trace of it. There’s six hours unaccounted for in his memory… and yet, he doesn’t even realize they’re not even there.”
“Could he be faking it?” White asked. “As Agent Conners implied?”
“Doubtful. You’ve seen it… Do you really believe he could have faked what happened in this room?”
Colonel White hesitated a few seconds, pondering that. He finally shook his head. “Right now, I don’t know what to believe,” he murmured. “I’ve been faced with strange situations before in my life, but this… this is really something else. And after hearing what happened after that car accident…”
“It wasn’t an accident,” Blue replied sombrely. White stared at him. The American captain cleared his throat. There was a certain flash of anger in his blue eyes. “That was a murder, sir… committed by Captain Black.”
“If it’s the truth.”
“It is the truth.” Doctor Weiss had appeared in the doorway. The words she had just pronounced, ever so softly, almost startled Colonel White, who turned to face her. She seemed almost as tired as the patient she had helped to his room a few minutes earlier. She entered and came to sit on the stool she had occupied all evening long.
“Captain Blue told us your patient fell asleep, doctor,” White told her.
“He’s still asleep. He will be sleeping for a good number of hours. This experiment drained him. I know it drained me too.”
Colonel White nodded his understanding. He felt tired himself. The evening had been particularly long and eventful. “You think Scarlet spoke the truth, then, doctor?”
Weiss gave him a long look. “Oh, yes, he did. No question about it. He couldn’t lie under the XK-3 serum. He told us exactly what happened after the actual crash.”
“That he was, indeed, killed by Captain Black,” White murmured. “Who, apparently, was acting for the Mysterons.”
“We have to assume Captain Black must be in the same condition Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet were yesterday…” Blue noted grimly.
“The Mysterons would have to have killed him too, to exert control over him,” White nodded. “But we found no body after the return of the Zero-X from Mars.”
“Black disappeared immediately after his return,” Blue replied. “It is possible he was killed on Mars.”
“Yes, I suppose it is.” White’s gaze became a distant one; it then was swiftly replaced by a determined look. “If Captain Black is under Mysteron influence, he could be a dangerous foe to face. We have to send notification around the world, tell all Spectrum personnel to keep an eye open for any appearance of Captain Black. Any place he may be, any action he may take, would be an indication that the Mysterons are preparing something. He killed Brown and Scarlet, so his masters could replicate them and use them for their own ends…”
“What a shock it must have been for Scarlet,” Blue then murmured. “Black was his friend. To be in the desperate situation he was, begging for his friend’s help… and then being thrown to his death by this same friend…” A thought crossed his mind. “Could that be the reason why he didn’t remember?” he suddenly asked. “About the crash, that is.”
“It’s a possibility,” Weiss nodded quietly. “Yes, indeed… the shock must have been tremendous. Enough to cause amnesia, specific to that event… and the hypnotic trance brought it back to the surface.” She shook her head grimly. “Well, in any case, it seems he didn’t keep the memory of it when the effect of the drug wore off.” She hesitated a second. “Of course, I’ll have to verify that more exhaustively…”
“Please, do that,” White sighed. “But let Scarlet have his sleep for now. I believe he’s earned it.”
“I believe so too,” Doctor Weiss agreed. “I didn’t intend to wake him up, Colonel. No matter what you would have said.”
White gave just the shadow of a smile before looking at his watch. “It’s late. We could all do with some rest too. So we’d better call it a night. Doctors, I’m waiting for your report as soon as you can produce it… And I want to discuss it with you, before we hand it over to Intelligence.”
“S.I.G., Colonel,” Fawn nodded.
“What about Agent Conners, Colonel White?” Weiss asked. “What do you think his report will look like? Frankly, I doubt he will be objective.”
“We have a tape of the experiment,” White replied dryly. “And I’ll have an account of my own concerning Mister Conners’ behaviour during it. Since it’s Intelligence pulling the strings here, I can’t do any more than that. Fortunately, it’s Senior Agent Wade who’s in charge. And he’s a lot more understanding than Conners. I’ll make sure he has all the right data before making his full report.”
“That’s a bit of luck, for a change,” Blue muttered.
“Captain Blue,” White called him.
“Sir?” a startled Blue answered.
“I expect to have a talk with you also, after I’ve talked to the doctors.”
White nodded and then turned around with the obvious intention of leaving. That was when Blue’s voice made itself heard again, calling to him hesitantly: “Colonel?”
White looked over his shoulder toward the young officer who now seemed somehow unsettled.
“About Captain Black, sir… I’m sorry. I know he was a dear friend of yours…”
White nodded grimly. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, he was. But the cruellest part of this situation… is that he was Scarlet’s friend too. And in his present state, if he has been able to murder a friend the way he did… There’s no telling what he could do next for the Mysterons.”
With that, Colonel White turned away and went out the door.
* * *
It was night, and everything was quiet on Cloudbase.
Colonel White was alone on the Promenade Deck, standing in front of the glass bay and gazing thoughtfully toward the clear sky, full of bright, shining stars. He needed this rare moment of peace to sort out his thoughts about all that had been happening lately.
Twenty-four hours, he mused grimly. It has been twenty-four hours since that dreadful experiment took place.
He hadn’t had any choice but to agree to it. Intelligence demanded it; Scarlet had given his consent to it; Doctor Fawn and Doctor Weiss were there to supervise it.
It couldn’t be avoided. I realized that. We had to learn as much as we could, of course. But he couldn’t help thinking how much he would have wished they’d never found out what happened during the crash.
White shook his head. No, it wasn’t fair to think like that. Not fair at all. That crash had claimed the lives of two of his most valuable agents.
Right, Scarlet had been given back to them. But in what state? What exactly did the Mysterons do to him? Physically, Doctor Fawn was at a loss with that. Said the man has kept the power of – what was he already calling it – retro-metabolism… His body would be able to regenerate from any wound. White still found that hard to believe. But he saw the recording the MEV from the Zero-X Mission took of the Mysteron Complex, while it was recreating itself, after Captain Black had ordered it blown to pieces. And he also saw the state Scarlet’s body was in when Captain Blue had brought it back from London. Lord, the man should have been dead… And yet, a few hours later, he literally came back to life.
This body wasn’t even Scarlet’s own, White mused, still perplexed by the thought. It had been recreated by the power of the Mysterons, to follow their commands… And in order to create that agent – that indestructible agent – they had killed a good man.
That brought White to the other part of the problem.
The conclusion of the investigation by both Spectrum Intelligence and the doctors was quite specific. He was Paul Metcalfe, the man who had been recruited two years ago to adopt the name of ‘Captain Scarlet’. Nothing could prove to the contrary.
He didn’t know much about what happened to him. That too was certain. He didn’t remember any of the things he did while under Mysterons’ control. Apparently, he was free of their influence. I hope so. For his sake. For ours. Neither did he recall what had happened during the car crash… And Captain Black’s involvement in it.
Dear Lord, Conrad… How could you let THEM do this? How could you let them use you this way?
Doctor Weiss’ suspicions of Scarlet’s amnesia concerning that particular episode confirmed themselves. Out from under the truth serum’s influence, he didn’t remember any of it. The car going out of control, the plunge into the ravine, the burning fire… That was it. No recollection of Black whatsoever.
Over time, maybe he would get over the trauma, Doctor Weiss had said. But not right away.
We could interfere. We could tell him about Black. But Doctor Weiss advised against it. In Scarlet’s current state, he already had too many problems to handle. The psychiatrist was afraid that one too many could push him over the edge.
He’s already been there, White thought gloomily. And he’s still so close to it.
Colonel White remembered how Captain Blue had reacted, when, after he had talked with Doctors Weiss and Fawn, he had received the young man in private, to discuss the situation, and asked him to keep the secret. He didn’t remember ever seeing Blue that angry before. He literally lashed out at him.
“Wait a minute! You can't be serious! You want to keep that information from him? I’m sorry, sir, but I was brought up to believe the truth was always the better course of action. And this… thing, it’s just too important to play around with!”
“Yes, it is,” White replied. “That is why we must keep it from Scarlet.”
“He’s my friend. You can’t EXPECT me to do that to him!”
“Captain, considering how you acted during the Car-Vu incident – and you acted admirably – I would have thought you’d put your personal considerations aside in this matter and…”
“At the Car-Vu, I only did what was dictated by my duty. Don’t think, sir, that it was easy for me to shoot down a man I had always viewed as a friend until that moment!”
White stared at the angry and frustrated Blue with a stern look. “You say he’s your friend,” he told him. “All I’m asking you to do is protect him by keeping silent about this situation for a while.”
Blue scoffed loudly. “And how long is a while, sir? A week? A month? A year? Longer than that?” he narrowed his eyes at his commander. “Who are you trying to protect anyway, Colonel? My friend… or yours?”
That took White aback. He would have expected that kind of insolent tirade coming from Scarlet himself… or even from Captain Black. Those two always spoke their minds, and did so without concerning themselves about the consequences. But from Blue, it came as a total surprise. He was generally an easy-going young man. The situation was certainly out of the ordinary, White had to admit. And he realized that Captain Blue hadn’t really had it easy since the beginning of all this.
The colonel stood up behind his round desk and came over to the young man. When he put his hand on his shoulder and looked straight into his eyes, he could see the grief and concern in them.
“Now listen to me,” White told him, his voice still stern, but with a soft enough feel to it. “Doctor Weiss and Doctor Fawn agree on this: Captain Scarlet suffered a deeply traumatic experience. And I’m not talking about the acts the Mysterons made him do… He DIED, Captain. He died a horrible death. He was killed by one of his closest friends. His mind had dismissed that last detail, because it couldn’t assimilate it. Proof: it came out only under the influence of the drug, and it was forgotten, as soon as he woke from his trance.”
“Sir, I don’t think…”
“He has enough trouble as it is, Blue. There is much for him to adapt to, right now. He doesn’t need that kind of complication on top of everything else. That could even prove too much for him.”
“That’s not my opinion. It’s Doctor Weiss’ prognosis. Consider this, Captain: he has come a long way. And he still has a lot of progress to make. We have to give him some time. Maybe his mind will be able to overcome the trauma one day, all by itself. Or maybe we’ll eventually be able to tell him what we have learnt. But not now.”
“It still doesn’t feel right not to tell him,” Blue sighed heavily.
“I know. I feel the same. But we have no choice.” White shook his head. “I assure you, Captain, I’m not doing this to protect or save Captain Black. After what he has done, I’m not sure there is a chance to save him anymore. As for Scarlet…” He sighed. “For him, maybe there is one chance left, and I think he deserves that we give it to him.” He eyed the young man closely. “Don’t you agree with me, Adam?”
The answer came, rather reluctantly, but it was the one Colonel White expected to hear from Captain Blue. “I agree, sir. He deserves that chance. And… I won’t be the one to jeopardize it for him. I’ll keep the secret.”
At the very least, Captain Scarlet had to be told about some of the rest, Colonel White had decided. He was asking so many questions about what was going on. Which was only natural, of course. Captain Blue volunteered himself to be the one who would have the unenviable task of telling him the truth about what the Mysterons did to him. How they killed him to recreate his body, how they used that body to carry out their evil deeds. Scarlet had absorbed it all, reacting as well as could be expecting, considering the situation. Perhaps even better. He had demanded to see his original body. It seemed so cruel to let him do it, and yet, White couldn’t refuse him that. He just made sure Scarlet would not be alone to face that. Blue was with him when he did see the dead body.
The young man nearly broke down over it.
That wasn’t all. There also was the matter of that relative indestructibility of his… Something he wasn’t even clearly aware of, yet… or the extent of it. No one was, in fact, and that was why Doctor Fawn still had all those tests to pursue.
And he was still on probation, under close surveillance, until he could prove he was worthy of Spectrum’s trust. Intelligence would have it no other way. Colonel White neither, as a matter of fact. There was no other way to handle the situation. The World President already felt uneasy enough knowing his abductor, the man who nearly caused his death, was still running around free… He had demanded measures to be taken against him. Yet, with the assumption that Captain Scarlet was, in retrospect, probably not responsible for what he had done, Colonel White had stuck his neck out for him. The least he could do was give him the benefit of the doubt. The Spectrum commander was willing to stand by his man. If Scarlet was still loyal to the cause, he would not let White down.
Scarlet has more than enough to concern himself with right now. Doctor Weiss was certainly right. Better spare him at least one concern for the time being. Weiss and Fawn won’t tell him. Blue won’t tell him.
And I won’t either.
Colonel White came closer still to the glass bay and looked down toward the upper flight deck, where, in the dark, he could still perceive the outlines of Angel One, with her pilot at the helm, standing ready to take off if an emergency should come up. He then turned his sight back to the heavens.
God! How beautiful the sky is tonight! The night is so peaceful, the stars so bright… Difficult to even imagine there are alien enemies up there, plotting their next move against us…
They had already taken much, White realized, as sadness slowly filled his heart.
Damn you, Conrad. You made a mistake, such a terrible mistake. I guess, with all your self-confidence, your arrogance, and your strength, you learned the hard way you were still just human.
But you’re not anymore…
White turned away from the glass bay and slowly walked toward the door leading out of the Promenade Deck. He knew he still had a long fight before him. What he didn’t know was how in Heaven Spectrum would have any chance to save Earth from those powerful enemies she had just made herself…
We’ll have to make every opportunity count, Colonel White thought, with quiet resolution. And maybe, just maybe, the Mysterons had handed Spectrum the weapon to oppose them.
If Doctor Fawn was right, Captain Scarlet could become a most invaluable asset to the fight.
The last thought of Colonel White, as he departed the Promenade Deck, was for the friend he knew he had lost, probably forever, to the powers of the Mysterons.
I’ll miss you, Conrad Turner.
I hope that, one day, you’ll find peace, old friend.
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 ideas – such as the recollection of Scarlet’s first awakening in Cloudbase – and the characters of Steve Blackburn (as Captain Brown), Doctor Weiss and Intelligence Agent Wade – who does not really appear here – have been borrowed from the story “CHANCE FOR A LIFETIME,” by Mary J. Rudy.
The idea of Captain Brown being grounded after doing some stunts with an Angel around Cloudbase also comes from Mary.
This story serves the purpose of answering two questions that I’ve been asking myself for quite a while. First: why wasn’t Captain Black of much use in the first episode of the series? Wouldn’t it be logical that he would be more “instrumental” and that he would have more of a hand into the attack the Mysterons launched against the World President? And if he had something to do with the death of his two colleagues, then?
Second: it’s only from the 5th episode, “Manhunt,” that Spectrum discovers that Captain Black works for the Mysterons. They must have had some suspicions about that, and yet it didn’t seem that way. In the first episode, Colonel White only stipulates that: “he had disappeared shortly after the return of the Zero-X Mission from Mars”. In “Manhunt,” Blue says, “So he IS still alive!,” and Colonel White adds that “he was working for the Mysterons ever since his return,” with no more surprise than that. So maybe the colonel knew a bit more about this than he let out…
I hope some diehard fans won’t think I’m digressing too much from the story here, and wish to apologize if they should think so.
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site.