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.
A “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” short story
By Chris Bishop
Rhapsody Angel slowly sat up on the cushioned examination table, her eyes dreamy, staring at the wall in front of her, without really seeing it. For a long moment, she stayed like that, completely motionless, her mind like a complete blank, in total silence.
“Are you sure, doctor?” she asked, her voice little more than a murmur.
Doctor Fawn, chief medical officer of Cloudbase, was standing next to her, his stethoscope in his hand. His eyes met the young woman’s inquiring look. He could see in her features that she was somehow hoping for news far different from what he had already told her, less than five minutes ago. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to grant her wishes. He nodded slowly.
“Yes, I’m quite sure,” he confirmed, with a regretful expression on his face. “The tests are all positive.”
Rhapsody closed her eyes, and let out a deep sigh. That was what she was afraid of hearing. “And there’s no possibility of a mistake?” she tried again, looking straight at Fawn.
He shook his head. The definite, conclusive answer fell on Rhapsody like a heavy weight. She looked down, unable to bear the doctor’s gaze.
“And how long…” She stopped, as if unable to formulate the right question. She felt so awkward now, after what Fawn had revealed to her. So uncomfortable, and so unsure.
But the doctor had understood what she meant, and the reason for her hesitation was all too obvious. He shook his head again. “I would say about two months.”
“Two months…” Rhapsody repeated absentmindedly. Fawn saw her thoughtful gaze. Her mind suddenly seemed to be elsewhere. He didn’t need her to speak to know what she was thinking about. She sighed tiredly, and then rubbed her eyes. “How… how could this have happened?” she murmured again. Seeing the odd way Fawn was looking at her, she shrugged. “I mean, I thought I’d worked it all out… That everything was all right… It seems so impossible that…”
She saw Fawn nodding his understanding and then he began to speak. She could hear the words as he explained his own theories of what must have happened, and how it happened, but they didn’t make much sense to her. Oh, she clearly understood the meaning of those words, but she felt so far away from them, so out of reach. Her mind nearly blacked out for a minute or two. It was her name, spoken in Fawn’s worried voice, that snapped her back to reality.
“Rhapsody? Dianne, are you listening to me?”
She shrugged and jumped down from the table, reaching for her uniform jacket laid on a chair nearby. “Yes, and no, doctor. I’m sorry, I’m… I must get out of here. I need to think this through.”
“You sure you don’t want to talk to me about it?” the doctor offered gently.
Rhapsody put her jacket on over her sweater. She answered with a very forced smile. “I don’t want to offend you or anything, doctor, but… No. This is something I must do alone.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I NEED to. I… I don’t know what I have to do now. There’s decisions to be taken. I have to consider all the possibilities… All the options.”
“There aren’t many options, you know,” Fawn replied, more harshly than he would have wanted. “Not the way I see it. I would say, there’s only TWO.”
Rhapsody shuddered, and Fawn saw the expression of pain clouding her eyes. He softened up instantly, regretting his severe words. “Not that it’s out of your hands, of course…”
She nodded again, gloomily, as she was adjusting the last of her uniform. She was looking down again, not willing to look the doctor straight in the eyes.
“This is not something I will consider lightly,” she murmured.
She shrugged again. It was at Symphony’s insistence that she was here this afternoon. Her friend had seen that she was sick, and had been worried about her. She had prompted her to see the doctor, to discover what could be wrong with her. Rhapsody could never have imagined, in her wildest dreams, what Fawn’s diagnosis would be.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have come, after all,” she murmured, thoughtfully.
“And how would that have changed anything?” Fawn asked with a frown, thinking she was addressing him. “Rhapsody, this is not something that’s going to go away with time. You can’t just ignore it. You have to deal with it… in whatever way you choose.”
That was the second time the doctor had referred to a certain solution that Rhapsody was not so sure she would ever be comfortable with. She snapped suddenly. “Don’t you think I know that? Doctor, please, don’t pressure me!” She shook her head, looking down as she finished straightening her uniform. “I told you… It’s not something I will consider lightly…”
“And not alone.”
Her eyes flashed. She didn’t care to answer that remark from Fawn. He was staring at her rather insistently. “You’ll have to tell him,” he murmured, in a softer voice.
She couldn’t bear it any much longer.
“Thank you for your time, doctor,” she whispered, looking down again. She directed her quick steps toward the exit. She had her hand on the ‘open’ button when she heard Fawn’s voice calling to her again.
“Dianne…” She stopped and turned to look at him, with eyes plainly pleading to leave her alone. He noticed this, of course, but there was no way he wouldn’t tell her what he had to say. It was too important.
“It’s my advice to you, Dianne… You CAN’T keep this a secret from him. He’ll find out, eventually. You WILL tell him, won’t you?”
She hesitated. She had never felt so unsure and hopeless in her life. She was unable to provide an answer. She knew that Fawn would only hear one from her, that he would never admit that she could give him another one. And she also knew that he was right, that there couldn’t be any other answer for her, anyway. She couldn’t even consider another one.
“Of course,” she said in a very hushed tone. “I’ll tell him.”
Fawn nodded quietly. He realised that this particular task would be tremendously difficult for her. He could see that this situation was something she had not counted on. Seeing her that lost, his heart went out to her. If he dared, he’d ask her if she wouldn’t want him to do it for her. But that wouldn’t be wise, considering the circumstances. “Remember,” he said with a sigh, “whatever you decide, if you need help, anything…”
Her smile was a faint one, filled with both gratitude and sadness when she answered. “I appreciate the thought, doctor, really… I… Thank you. For your support.”
She didn’t wait for him to reply, and quickly turned to exit from the room, and then hurried away from sickbay. She needed to get away from this place, and to put as much distance between her and it as possible…
Captain Blue moved one of his white knights forward on the chess board, but kept his hand on it, indecisively. Seated in front of him, his chin resting on his palm in a pensive posture, Captain Scarlet glared doubtfully at his friend. “Are you sure you want to put it there?”
That sounded like a dare. Blue scowled and sat up straight, removing his hand from the piece. “Of course I’m sure!” he declared in an irate voice. Sitting on the arm of the sofa, close to him, Symphony Angel looked at the ongoing game and then back at him. She too seemed dubious.
“Have it your way, then.”
Blue’s white knight quickly disappeared under Scarlet’s black castle and went to join the other white pieces put on the side of the board. Symphony rolled her eyes. Blue’s brow furrowed deeply as he stared down with incredulity at the board.
“WHAT? How come I didn’t see THAT one coming?” he said, gesturing with annoyance.
“This game is becoming too hard for your brain, Big Blue,” Symphony noted, patting his back comfortingly.
“For what SERVES as his brain,” Captain Ochre piped out innocently from behind the newspaper he was reading. He was comfortably slouched in one of the Officers’ Lounge armchairs, his feet up, and up until now, he hadn’t seemed to care in the least about the chess game his colleagues had been playing for the last hour.
Blue frowned, addressing him: “I don’t see YOU ever playing chess with Scarlet, Ochre!”
“And you WON’T see me anytime soon,” Ochre replied quietly, turning a page. “Unlike you, I know when I’m outclassed.”
Blue turned toward Symphony. “And what about you? You’re my wife, for God’s sake… Aren’t you supposed to give me undivided moral support?”
“I’m trying, Adam, I really am. But sometimes… It simply isn’t possible.”
“Well, if that’s all the moral support you can give…”
“Come on, Blue,” Ochre sighed from behind his newspaper. “Better give up.”
“Never,” Blue answered defiantly. “I’m a Spectrum officer. I don’t give up.” Ochre shrugged indifferently and Blue’s attention came back to the board. “Besides,” he added, “the odds are too important.”
The door slid open and Rhapsody walked in. She took in the entire room with a glance and noticed Scarlet sitting opposite Blue, waiting for him to make his next move. The faint smile on her face was brief; she was glad to have found him, but she was still anxious about how she would break the news to him. Now didn’t seem to be a good time, though. She wanted to talk to him in private. There were too many people here at the moment.
It would have to wait.
“Hi, Rhapsody.” The cheerful call came from Captain Ochre who had momentarily dropped his newspaper to flash her a big grin. She nodded to him, trying her best to respond with a smile of her own, but the spirit simply wasn’t there. She approached the centre of the room where Scarlet sat with Blue and Symphony. The latter turned to greet her with a nod.
“They’re still at it, I see,” Rhapsody noted matter-of-factly, glancing down at the chess board.
“Yeah, unfortunately,” Symphony answered. “I’m really getting bored with this game.”
“Quiet, I’m thinking here,” Blue grumbled, waving his hand at her.
“That would be a first!” Ochre scoffed from his place.
Nobody cared to answer him. Symphony herself didn’t reply to Blue’s admonishment, as she normally would. She was staring at Rhapsody, with an insistent and inquiring look. The Englishwoman noticed it, but ignored it. She looked down at the board again, with a brief glance that took in the entire game, the place occupied by each piece and all. She then moved away, toward the counter and the coffee machine. Symphony followed her with her eyes, puzzled, and watched as she poured herself a big cup.
She then quietly left Blue’s side, as he was still absorbed in the game in front of him, and approached Rhapsody. She looked at her expectantly.
“So?” she murmured.
Rhapsody frowned. She had seen her friend and fellow Angel pilot approaching. She had feigned not to see her, but it was difficult to ignore her further. “So what?” she said, in the same hushed tone.
Symphony was perplexed. She had heard the brusqueness in Rhapsody’s voice. There was little she could do not to notice how she was avoiding eye contact with her. Symphony knew about her friend having gone to sickbay for a check up; she was the one who had urged her to go, worried about seeing her so under the weather these last few days. The American pilot glanced over her shoulder, assuring herself that nobody was paying attention to them. The chess game had totally engrossed Captains Blue and Scarlet, and Captain Ochre was deep into his reading.
“So,” she pursued patiently, addressing Rhapsody, “how did it go? Are you all right?”
“Of course.” Rhapsody brought her cup to her lips and nodded, absentmindedly. “I’m all right.”
Symphony shook her head. Something was wrong with her friend, she could feel it. Rhapsody was still avoiding looking her in the eye. “You’re hiding something,” she noted. “You weren’t feeling good at all before. What was it that was making you so sick?”
Rhapsody shrugged. “Later, okay?” she asked her friend.
“Are you SURE you’re all right?” Symphony insisted with a doubtful tone. The way Rhapsody answered, with a quick nod, but still unwilling to look at her, did nothing to convince her that she was telling the truth. There was definitely something up. Perhaps Dianne didn’t want to say anything with Paul nearby, who could hear her. Perhaps she wanted to tell him first, whatever it could be…
“Adam, seasons are changing, birds are building their nests and laying their eggs… When are you going to make your move?”
Rhapsody looked over her shoulder; Scarlet and Blue were still at their chess game, and Blue, not having moved yet, was being teased by his increasingly impatient partner. The American’s blue eyes glowed with annoyance. “Give me time, will you? I’m preparing a strategy.”
“If your ‘strategy’ is to wait until I fall asleep, I’m telling you, you’re practically there.”
Rhapsody gave a deep sigh and, turning her back again on them, she absentmindedly took another sip of her coffee. “White bishop to D4, takes black knight,” she said, without even a second thought.
Both Scarlet and Blue raised their heads to look at her. Scarlet didn’t seem to believe his ears, while Blue looked intently at the board. “White bishop takes black knight…” he repeated, pondering.
Rhapsody nodded; not even turning around, she continued: “It’s the only logical move you can make, or you’ll be checkmated by the black queen in two moves. With that move, you get rid of the knight, and in the same time, make way for your queen to threaten the white king. The black bishop – which was about to take your castle in the next move – will be paralysed, because your bishop is in position to take the black king. The black king can’t move left, nor forward, because your last knight will take it. And it’s blocked on its right by a black pawn. Which means…”
“Checkmate,” Ochre suddenly said, unbelief apparent in his tone. Throughout Rhapsody’s explanation, curious, he had risen from his seat to look down at the board. Rhapsody’s description of the game was one hundred percent right. She hadn’t missed anything. Scarlet was looking with scepticism at the board, as Blue was moving his bishop to take the black knight. The British captain couldn’t do anything but gloomily knock over his king.
“I don’t believe this!” Ochre laughed loudly, sitting down next to the grim-looking Scarlet and elbowing him. “You lost, Scarlet! The only person I know who has even beaten you was the colonel. Then YOUR lady comes in, takes just ONE glance at the board and proceeds to beat the pants off you!”
“Thanks, Rhapsody!” Blue beamed, looking at the young woman who had finally turned around. “I owe you one!”
“Indeed you do,” Scarlet grumbled dryly.
“Well, Mister Metcalfe,” Blue pursued, thumping his friend’s arm, “this means YOU’LL have to get the money out when we go to Paris!”
“Come on, Adam! You’re not seriously thinking that we pursue this little bet, are you?”
“Oh yes, I am!”
“What kind of bet is it?” Rhapsody asked, frowning.
“It concerns the four of us,” Blue explained, pointing to Rhapsody and Symphony, and then to Scarlet and himself. “For our next scheduled furlough. The winner of this game was to pick the Parisian restaurant of his choice… and the loser has to pay the bill.” He grinned broadly, seeing Scarlet scowling. “I already have a good idea where I’m gonna take you all…”
“Keep my limited finances in mind, when you make your choice,” Scarlet warned him.
“I’ll pay,” Rhapsody declared matter-of-factly.
“No, a bet’s a bet. I lost, I’ll pay.”
“You lost probably because I interfered, Paul.”
“Hey!” Blue protested. “It’s ALSO quite possible that I would have won all by myself!”
“In your dreams, Svenson!” Ochre replied, mockingly.
“Will you butt out, Ochre?”
“Let me handle the bill,” Rhapsody insisted. “It’s no big deal…”
“No,” Scarlet answered again, more insistently.
“He’s right, you know?” Ochre told Rhapsody in turn. “The way I see it, if there should be someone who SHOULDN’T pay the bill, it’s you. You won this game for Blue…”
“…And Scarlet is definitely the one who should pay. He lost.”
“Rick, not now,” Rhapsody pleaded, seeing the annoyance crossing her fiancé’s features. She could very well guess that he was growing tired of Ochre’s incessant banter. She wasn’t in the mood for it, either. She sighed; she was feeling a headache coming. “Let me do it, Paul. I’ll pay the restaurant bill.”
He shook his head, still adamant about it. “I’ll handle this, Angel. You don’t have to pay for a bet I made…”
“You got that right,” Ochre added quietly.
“Ochre,” Symphony warned him.
“Why do you have to be so obstinate about this?” Rhapsody told Scarlet, without letting anybody else finish.
He raised an eyebrow. “I’m obstinate?”
“Yes, you are. You don’t have to be such a chauvinist. Men! Why can’t they ever accept that sometimes we only want to help them?” She turned around brusquely, and put the cup down on the counter. She was losing the little patience she had had up until now. And she was aware that everybody was now staring at her. She feigned not to notice and kept her back turned to them, so they would not see the tears slowly coming to her eyes.
Evidently, Symphony, still so very close to her, noticed how distressed she seemed.
Rhapsody didn’t answer her friend’s gentle call. She even turned her face away from her. It was becoming so very hard to keep up a strong façade. It had been a mistake coming here, in the first place.
“What’s wrong, Angel?”
That was Paul’s voice. She could feel the concern in it. She shrugged, still not turning around. “Nothing…”
Scarlet rose from his seat. He slowly approached the Angel pilot. “No, there’s something, I can tell. Something bothering you.”
“It’s nothing, Paul. I’m sorry. That bet… We… shouldn’t have argued about it.”
“It’s not the bet,” Scarlet replied, shaking his head. “That’s got nothing to do with it, or with who pays the restaurant bill.”
“I still say you should,” Ochre piped up from behind him.
“Cut it out, Rick,” Blue warned his compatriot. He could see there was something serious going on. Why Ochre couldn’t see it himself was beyond him.
A puzzled Scarlet had stopped behind Rhapsody. She obstinately kept her back turned on him, but she could feel his piercing eyes drilling a hole in her back.
“Dianne?” he pleaded softly. “What’s wrong, love?”
“I told you. It’s nothing, really. I…”
He heard the shake in her voice; something WAS wrong, he could feel it, deep inside him. He reached for her, but when he touched her shoulders, she shivered, and drew away. That surprised him, but he didn’t let it deter him.
“Look at me, please.”
Again, Scarlet took the young woman by the shoulders; this time, she didn’t resist when he gently forced her to turn around. He then looked down on her devastated face, and frowned in deep concern and perplexity.
“I was right,” he murmured. “Something’s upsetting you.”
She shrugged him off and backed away, turning away again. “Not now, please.”
Now Scarlet was completely baffled; he couldn’t understand what was wrong. Rhapsody had never reacted that way to him before. A thought occurred to him.
“Dianne, I know about your visit to sickbay.”
Rhapsody spun around and stared at Scarlet, obviously annoyed. “You know? How did you…” She stopped suddenly; turning to her right, she faced Symphony who was still standing there, and glared at her accusingly. “Karen! You promised…”
“I didn’t find out from Karen,” Scarlet interrupted her. “I went to the Amber Room this morning, and you weren’t there. Destiny told me about it. Obviously, she didn’t know it was supposed to be a secret from me.”
“It was NOT supposed to be a secret!” Rhapsody defended herself.
“Then what?” Scarlet snapped, more harshly than he intended. He was beginning to lose patience, and frankly, this situation, with Rhapsody not wanting to say anything, was confusing him. “Look, I’m starting to get worried, here. Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
“Paul… Not now, please. Later, okay?”
Scarlet blanched suddenly. A dreadful suspicion had formed in his mind, and he was afraid that… “You… You’re not ill, are you?”
Rhapsody understood right away what was on his mind. Her family had a history of cancer, and her mother had had a very close call some years earlier. She had yet to fully recuperate from it, to this day. He was most probably concerned that she had inherited the same ailment.
“No, I’m not ill,” she sighed. “I’m in perfect health. In fact,” she added in a mumble, “I’ve never been healthier in my life…”
“It’s me, then.”
“It’s me who’s upsetting you. Somehow. I don’t know, I must have done something…”
“Paul…” Rhapsody sighed again, this time tiredly. Now she was REALLY feeling a migraine coming. “Whatever gives you THAT idea?”
“You’re shutting me out,” Scarlet explained, frowning.
“That’s crazy!” Rhapsody protested vehemently. “I’m not shutting you out!” He didn’t seem convinced. She took a brief, deep breath. She lost what was left of her patience altogether. “All right!” she shouted, giving up. “I admit it! That’s it. Yes, it’s you. That’s the truth. You DID something and that’s upsetting me. It’s turning my life upside down, and you’re responsible!”
The rapid fire of words, mingled with tears no longer contained nearly took Scarlet aback. He quickly strode the short distance separating him from the woman he loved. He couldn’t take it anymore, seeing her like this. He was angry that she wouldn’t open up and talk to him. It hurt him that she wouldn’t confide in him, and he was worried, dreading what it could imply.
“What is it, then?” he snapped at her with the same violent tone she had used. “What have I done? What is wrong with you?”
The deep, stunned silence that followed between the two was broken by the sound of falling chess pieces. Captain Blue, who was trying not to listen to his two friends’ argument, had just dropped a quantity of them to the floor, on hearing Rhapsody’s shouted answer. His jaw dropped, and he could see that Ochre and Symphony were as stunned into silence as he was, the three of them looking at Rhapsody. But their surprise was nothing compared to Captain Scarlet’s shock. His face had gone white, and for a moment, his mind was a total blank. He was staring with wide, disbelieving eyes at his fiancée, who had dropped this news like an atomic bomb. She wasn’t speaking anymore, and was looking back at him. He couldn’t think of anything to say. When he finally found his voice, he was only able to stammer.
“P-p-pregnant?” He was incredulous, utterly shocked. He was trying to decipher on Rhapsody’s face if, by any chance, she wasn’t playing some kind of sick joke. But no. He could see she was deadly serious. She wouldn’t joke about a thing like that. “H-how?” he asked, still bewildered.
“Gee, Scarlet,” the voice of Ochre made itself heard from behind him, much to the irritation of both Blue and Symphony, “if we have to tell you HOW, it’s a wonder that kid’s even there! Maybe your parents neglected some part of your education…”
“Would you MIND, Ochre?” Scarlet raged savagely.
His patience was obviously nearing its limits, and that, Blue could easily see. He rose from his seat, clearing his throat. “I think it would be better if we leave both of you alone to discuss this,” he told Scarlet and Rhapsody.
“Yes,” Symphony quickly agreed, moving toward her husband. “Indeed, we’d better go.”
“Go ahead, you two,” Ochre then said, much to the couple’s distress. “I’ll catch you later…”
He was motioning to sit down and get himself comfortable, as if he expected to see a good show, but he never reached his seat. Blue had grabbed hold of his arm and was forcing him up. “Oh no, you don’t! You’ll come with us, if you know what’s good for you!”
Pulled by Blue and pushed by Symphony, Ochre found himself heading toward the door. “Hey! Hey, you two!” he protested. “You know I was only joking.”
“Now’s not the time, Rick,” Blue said between his teeth.
“That was only a joke, I tell you!”
“You could have fooled us!”
“Yes, you got a death wish or what?” Symphony added. “It could become dangerous for your health if you stay.”
“Come on, now! Paul’s not that mean! He would never hurt me!”
“HIM, maybe not,” Symphony answered ominously. “But WE’RE another matter…”
The three of them walked out of the officers’ lounge, the door sliding closed on Ochre’s further protests. Now alone, Scarlet and Rhapsody stared at each other, an uncomfortable silence between them. It was the young woman who broke it, in a soft, yet still uncertain voice.
“I’m sorry, Paul. I didn’t mean to tell you like that.”
Scarlet slowly shook his head; he was still in shock. “So, that’s why you went to see Fawn this morning,” he murmured.
“Yes. I wasn’t feeling very well. But I didn’t know, I swear. I had no idea what the matter was. I wasn’t prepared for this.”
“Well… neither am I.” Scarlet felt the need to sit down. He could feel his legs shaking under him. Rhapsody looked at him, still unsure.
“I was wondering how you would react to the news,” she whispered. “How you would take it…”
“How I’d take it?” Scarlet said. “Well, I’m…” He glanced at her. “I’m as shocked as you are, apparently. I didn’t expect this at all!” He tiredly rubbed his eyes, and then sighed heavily, trying to let the news sink in. “How?” he repeated, almost in a whisper, looking down as his hands. “I thought we were careful. That we… I mean, that you… were safe, with that…” He stopped, not knowing how to say it without being blunt.
“I… don’t know exactly.” Rhapsody sat down next to him. “Actually, Fawn has a theory about that. About why that method of contraception didn’t work in our case. I admit, I wasn’t really listening to his explanation… It has something to do with you. Your… ‘metabolism’ to be precise…”
“I see,” Scarlet murmured again. He gave a deep sigh. “I’m… I’m sorry, love.”
“About what? We should have seen this coming. I’m as much to blame for this situation as you are.”
“I can’t help feeling sorry. I can see you’re not happy about it.”
“Paul, I…” Rhapsody hesitated a second, not knowing how to continue. It was plain to Scarlet she was very upset, and that her confused emotions were threatening to overwhelm her. He gently touched her cheek, and gazed into her trembling eyes.
“Are you all right, Angel?”
She shook her head, tears filling her eyes again, and it hurt him to see her that way. Then she answered, her voice shaking as she reached for the hand that so lovingly rested on her face.
“It’s so unfair…”
Scarlet frowned, puzzled. “Unfair?”
She nodded, unsettled. “Why did it have to happen NOW?”
“What… what are you saying?” Scarlet stammered, with uncertainty. “What… You mean your career, and…”
“Oh, no!” Rhapsody protested. “No, you’ve got it all wrong. I mean… It’s unfair on this baby. We’re at war, Paul. And it’s a war we’re deeply involved with, you and I. Me, as a fighter pilot and you… you, for being who and what you are. Do we really want to bring a child into this world? Do we even have the right to?” She bowed her head, her shoulders suddenly seemed to carry all the weight of the world. “Two years ago, I would have welcomed this child with joy, but now…”
Scarlet nodded grimly, understanding what she meant. “So… what do you say we should do now? Just… don’t have this baby?”
The thought seemed to horrify him. One look at Rhapsody’s trembling eyes informed him that she was uncomfortable with that idea too. But it had obviously crossed her mind.
“I’m not saying anything, Paul,” she sighed. “I’m just… evaluating the situation, at the moment. We can’t make a decision – any decision – too lightly. We have to consider every aspect.”
“You’re right. EVERY aspect.” Scarlet had a gloomy enough look. He kept silent, looking away thoughtfully; there were so many other issues, so many more problems to consider. The war wasn’t the only thing on his mind, and it was more than likely that the same thoughts were coursing through his fiancée’s mind. He turned his attention to the young woman by his side. “I suppose… we have a lot to talk about.”
She smiled sadly. “Yes,” she answered in a murmur. “And a lot to think about.”
Night had fallen on Cloudbase. It had been a long day for Captain Scarlet, now sitting all alone on the Promenade Deck, listening to the sound of rushing water from a fountain nearby. He was so tired, but it wasn’t a physical weariness, as he had not done nothing much more today than think. He had delegated his routine duties to the other captains, as he desperately needed some quiet time, away from any distractions, and out of everybody’s way. Usually, work helped him get by, taking his mind off his problems, but today, he couldn’t afford that. He had to be alone, and that was why he came up here. The Promenade Deck had always been his favourite spot, whenever he wanted to be alone. When he wanted to think things over.
Rhapsody had been right. They had indeed a lot to think about. They had talked for hours, covering every aspect of their present situation. All the implications. The good points… and especially the bad points. The latter seemed to be far more important in number than the former, and that was quite distressing. After having discussed it together, they found they couldn’t come up with a solution straight away. That would have been too easy, and anyway, they didn’t want to rush things. They still needed to mull it over on their own for a while, to let it all sink in. Scarlet wasn’t even sure he was over the shock of this discovery. And he was willing to bet that Rhapsody was in the same state of mind.
Absentmindedly, he stared down at the upper flight deck, where Angel One was sitting, and that he could see perfectly from his spot. He knew that Rhapsody had taken some time off from her duties in the Amber Room. She didn’t feel that she would be able to perform her duties properly, considering the situation. After they had parted, to each go their separate ways and think about all of this, she had gone to make arrangements for the other Angel pilots to fill in for her, until the next day. She too wanted to have some quiet time alone. He was wondering what her thoughts were right now, what decision she would be inclined to make. He simply had no idea. He didn’t even know what HIS would be.
“You know, I’ve been searching all over for you.”
Scarlet didn’t even turn around when he heard the voice of his best friend booming from the entrance. He sighed deeply. “If it’s all the same to you, Captain Blue, I would rather be left alone at the moment.”
“Well, it’s NOT all the same to me. It’s not good for you to shut us out like this. Particularly at this moment.”
Scarlet knew better than to argue with his friend; he heard Blue’s steps as he approached from behind. “Be careful with that telescope,” he said suddenly. “If you so much as touch it, you’ll be in trouble with the colonel.”
Blue made a large detour around the said object, positioned at the window and pointing upward to the sky. All the while, he wondered how Scarlet had managed to know the precise moment he was getting close to it.
“Thanks,” the American captain said sheepishly. “I certainly don’t want to get on the colonel’s bad side! What is he trying to find with this new hobby of his, a new comet he can name?”
Scarlet shrugged indifferently. Colonel White had set up this telescope three days ago, when Cloudbase had arrived at this new location, over the Fiji Islands. Scarlet didn’t know much about astronomy, or what it was that interested the Spectrum commander in this particular part of the sky. He just knew that White had strictly forbidden anyone to touch the telescope, and that was enough for anybody not to go anywhere near it. Moving the object just one millimetre could change everything in the colonel’s observations, as he had been taking notes each time he moved it himself.
Blue came to sit next to his friend, who didn’t even turn to greet him properly. He was still looking thoughtfully through the window. It was exactly as if he was somewhere else.
“So,” Blue said elbowing his friend playfully, to get him out of his fugue. “It seems you’re about to become a father. How’s that make you feel?”
It took a time for Scarlet to actually respond. The look he gave Blue was devoid of its usual confidence – the kind of look the American had not often seen in his friend’s eyes. “Actually, Adam… I don’t know how I should feel.”
Blue’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean, you don’t know? You’re going to have a kid. I know you and Rhapsody aren’t married yet, but… you should be ecstatic! I know I would be, if I were in your place.”
“Well, you’re NOT in my place!” With obvious annoyance, Scarlet stood up abruptly and took a couple of steps away from a perplexed Blue, turning his back on him. He stopped suddenly. He was embarrassed to have snapped that way at his best friend. Uncomfortably, he ran his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, Adam,” he murmured. “I didn’t mean to…”
“What’s going on, Paul?” Blue interrupted him, with a firm but soft voice. “What’s wrong?”
“Me. It’s me who’s wrong.” Scarlet gave a long, frustrated sigh, before turning to face Blue again. “A few years ago, it would have been different. I would have been completely thrilled about having a child, without a second thought. Now… now I don’t know how I should feel about it. How I should react. It’s all so confusing and… and frustrating…”
“What are you trying to say?” Blue asked, puzzled by his friend’s words. “You don’t want the kid?”
“It’s not as simple as that, Adam.”
“How could it be not simple? I don’t understand. I remember you telling me about some of your concerns. I know it was hard for you to even think about it, or confide in anyone, even me. You weren’t even sure you’d be able to father a child after…”
“…After what the Mysterons did to me.” Scarlet finished the sentence his friend had hesitated to pronounce entirely. “Can’t you see, Adam? That’s just the problem! Or one of them, anyway.” He met Blue’s puzzled stare, and shook his head. “There are many problems, Adam,” he stated gloomily. “So many of them, I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll explain them all to you. We’ve been talking about it a good part of the day, Dianne and I. And it seems that, every time we tackled one, another one presented itself. They seem endless… I’m thinking about the war against the Mysterons. I’m thinking of a child raised in these circumstances, who may very well end up growing up without one of its parents. I’m thinking about the loneliness it would feel, because of being different, and not able to cope…”
“Nobody has ever said this world is a safe place for any children, Paul,” Blue noted. “That’s an issue for any parent. If that stopped every human being from having children, I’m afraid the Mysterons wouldn’t need to carry on with the war…”
Scarlet blew out a deep sigh. He stared straight at his friend, hurt in his eyes. “You don’t understand, Adam… That’s not our only concern…”
“Then explain to me.”
“Considering what I am, do you think any child of mine could be normal?” Scarlet murmured in a shaky voice. “What kind of life would it have? Half-human, half… half what, exactly?” He gestured toward himself, his movement showing the full depth of his displeasure and frustration. “I don’t even know WHAT I am exactly! I feel like I’m human, but I’m not even sure I am! I’m not NORMAL, in any case. I’m not…” He closed his eyes. “…I think I’ve been trying to kid myself, for years. I know I’m not entirely human.”
“Maybe you should rephrase that,” Blue said with a frown. “You should rather say that you’re not ONLY human. Paul, the fact that you fathered that child should be proof enough that you are still one of us.”
“It should,” Scarlet said bitterly. “But I think of what that child’s life would be… COULD be. Imagine, if he or she would end up being like me.” His eyes became sad, as he stared straight ahead, into empty space. “Every time I’m injured,” he murmured, “every time I step in front of a bullet, and literally lay down my life for someone else, I’m reminded of how different I am. Every time I wake up in sickbay, after an injury that would have killed anyone else, I’m reminded of how fragile the lives of others are, in comparison to mine. Doctor Fawn’s a good man, but he’s a scientist, and even he sees me as a curiosity. I couldn’t bear to see any child of mine regarded as some kind of… freak of nature and being treated accordingly, being exposed to the curiosity of so-called scientists, eager to find out what the hybrid of a human woman and a Mysteron clone would turn out to be.”
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake, would you STOP with all this NONSENSE?”
Captain Blue’s angry protest surprised Scarlet; the American officer suddenly got to his feet and stood in front of his friend, his blue eyes flashing daggers. “Did you stop a second, to listen to yourself?” Blue pursued heatedly.
“It’s not about the kid,” Blue interrupted, without letting Scarlet finish. “It’s about YOU. What is it with you, anyway? We’ve been through all this already. I thought you were over it! The doubts that you had about yourself, about your humanity, that was all behind you! How can you still have doubts? How could you even think that this child will be less than whatever you and the woman you love will try to make out of it?”
Scarlet didn’t respond. He looked away, obviously still pondering. Calming down, Blue sat down again, next to him. “YOU are like any of us, Paul. You may be indestructible, but deep down in yourself, deep down HERE…” he touched his chest, where his own heart was, “you’re still very much human. And oh-so-vulnerable.” Blue gave a low sigh. “You have doubts about the baby. You’re afraid of bringing it into this world. You’re not the first man to have this kind of doubt, even if the reasons are different. Even if yours seem rather unique…” He saw the flicker in his friend’s eyes, and knew that he was reaching him; but still, there was that same indecisive look about him, that uncertainty concerning what he had to do.
“There’s no way of telling if it would be different from any other child,” Blue added in a quiet voice. “You have no way to know that for sure. It could very well be very human. I know you can’t be sure of that either. But in any case, it would be YOUR child. Whatever this child is… it will still be yours. You would always be its father.” He shook his head. “Don’t tell me that doesn’t stir some feelings inside you.”
“It does,” Scarlet murmured looking down. “And that’s why it’s so difficult to make the right decision. I have to sort out what I feel. Dianne and I… we can’t afford to be wrong about this.”
“I know you two have to weigh your decision carefully,” Blue said, nodding. “Because whatever you decide, it will have a tremendous impact on both your lives. But Paul, consider this… This child… it’s a gift from God. Don’t you see He’s trying to tell you something?”
Scarlet stared at his friend’s quiet face for an instant, still apparently unsure, and certainly unsettled by his last words. He wasn’t the God-fearing man Blue was, he wasn’t even comfortable with any aspect of religion. He did believe, but not as fervently as Blue. He always felt he was his own man and that God had little to do with what he was and the decisions he had to make. But at this moment, he couldn’t say that Blue’s little speech was leaving him indifferent.
“You know you’re making it harder for me to make a decision, Svenson?” he grumbled.
Blue’s smile was a faint one. “I didn’t mean to go easy on you either, buddy.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me,” Scarlet chuckled, almost despite himself.
“Well, whatever decision you and Dianne come to, Paul… I’ll stand by you, no matter. Just make sure it’s the right one, for both of you and the baby.”
Blue put a comforting hand on Scarlet’s shoulder, and the latter squeezed it gratefully. The British captain smiled as he met his friend’s eyes, thankful that he had someone like that just to be there, and support him, whenever he needed it. Adam wasn’t only his best friend. He was like the brother he never had.
“I don’t know how to thank you, Adam.”
“I’m sure you’ll find a way,” Blue smiled mischievously. “Remember, you still owe me and Karen that meal in Paris…”
Scarlet scowled. “That reminds me… I hope Rick has been keeping quiet about all of this? I mean… with Dianne being pregnant?”
“Don’t worry about Ochre,” Blue replied reassuringly. “You know, he’s not such a bad guy. He knows when to be serious. And he certainly knows you don’t want this news to get around. He’ll keep it to himself. We don’t want it to come to the Colonel’s ears, do we?”
“You won’t have to worry about him finding out through the grapevine,” Scarlet answered, shaking his head. “I plan to tell him myself.”
That news left Blue completely dumbfounded. “What?” he exclaimed. “You’re going to tell him? Why would you do that? You’re not even sure whether you’re going to keep the baby or not.”
“Dianne and I talked about this, Adam. And we made our decision. We’ve kept so many secrets from him, in the past, since we’ve been seeing each other… And he found out anyway, and didn’t let on…”
“Tell me about it,” Blue grumbled. “You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found out that he knew all about Karen and me.”
“Well,” Scarlet noted with an amused smile, “that shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. EVERYBODY on base seemed to know, at the time.”
Blue scowled. “I admit, I’m not so good at keeping secrets. But I still don’t understand why you would go and tell him about Rhapsody’s condition. What would be the point, if… you decide not to keep the baby?”
“That’s BESIDE the point, Adam.” Scarlet nodded thoughtfully. “We have to tell him, whatever decision we make.”
“So YOU’re going to tell him?”
“Dianne and I thought at first we’d do it together, but… Maybe it would be better if I handled it alone. And the sooner, the better.”
“Uh… Yes, I did.”
“You value the colonel’s opinion enough to want to hear it,” Blue realised.
“That’s not it,” Scarlet defended himself.
“I’m not so sure about that.” Blue shook his head. “Do you have any idea how he’ll react?”
“I… uh… Actually, I’m a little afraid just thinking about that.”
Scarlet ran a finger round his uniform collar, demonstrating by that simple gesture how uncomfortable he was with the whole idea. Blue couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Colonel White’s reaction to news like that was unpredictable. Blue knew that White and Scarlet often clashed over many things, and that they often didn’t have the same opinion, but the two men had a profound respect for each other. It was also true the Spectrum commander was very fond of Rhapsody – as he was of all the Angels – but Blue was pretty certain that Rhapsody held a special place in his heart. She looked much like his beloved wife, Elizabeth, who died so many years ago, and who White still cared about very much after so long. And Elizabeth was carrying a child at the moment of her tragic death. They were White’s only family and he had lost them both, in one single, fateful blow. Learning that Rhapsody was now pregnant would surely bring back some painful memories to him. Sure, White knew about Scarlet and Rhapsody seeing each other. He had, more or less, given his blessing – on the express condition that they be discreet, and because he also knew that, eventually, the couple would make it official by getting married. Just as Captain Blue and Symphony Angel did themselves.
Still, with the announcement of Rhapsody now being pregnant – whether she and Scarlet would decide to keep the child or not – Colonel White would surely be stunned. This certainly would be an unexpected turn of events for him.
Blue cleared his throat, still musing over what the Spectrum commander’s reaction would be. “And when do you plan to tell him, exactly?”
Scarlet was about to answer, when the door opened and Colonel White himself strode in, quietly humming a happy little tune. He had a small notebook and a pen in his hand and he was heading straight toward the telescope and the two captains next to it. With the same head movement, Scarlet and Blue turned to him. The song died on the Spectrum commander’s lips when he saw his officers there, staring at him.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” he said with a pleasant enough tone and a smile. “I didn’t realise I would have company tonight.” Seeing them preparing to rise from their seats, he motioned to them to stay. “Please, stay seated, Captains. That isn’t necessary.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“So, do you fancy a bit of star gazing with me?”
White moved toward his telescope, checked on it and noted with obvious satisfaction that it had not moved. Then he drew up a chair next to it, sat down, put his notebook down on a nearby table, and opened it. He was aware of the unsettled silence now pervading the Promenade Deck. He had his back to them, but he could almost feel the two captains staring intently at him. He checked the settings of his telescope, put his eye to the viewfinder and made some adjustments.
“Please, gentlemen, take no notice of me,” he said to the two officers who were still keeping silent. “Continue whatever you were doing.”
That would hardly be possible now, thought Captain Blue. He exchanged glances with Scarlet. His friend wasn’t moving from his seat, as he was scrutinizing White. He addressed a nod to Blue. The latter figured out that his British counterpart was presently thinking that now was as good a time as any to have a chat with the colonel. Blue wondered if it was, indeed, a good idea. He knew better than to argue with his friend, though. He could see his mind was made up.
Blue cleared his throat and got up on his feet, gathering his cap from the same table where White had put down his notebook. “It’s all right, sir,” he said in answer to White’s earlier remark. “We had finished, anyway. I think I’d better take my leave, before my wife launches a search party for me.”
“The life of a married man isn’t always easy, is it, Captain?” White pleasantly noted, still checking the viewfinder.
Blue smiled. “There’s more advantages than inconveniences, sir,” he responded. He looked again toward Scarlet. “Paul, do you want me to…?” He nodded in White’s direction, obviously making an attempt to convince his friend to let him give him a hand. But Scarlet shook his head.
“It’s all right, Adam. I think I can manage.” And anyway, he added to himself, it’s something I’d rather do alone.
Blue nodded his understanding. “Okay, then. I’ll see you later if you want to talk about it. Good night, Colonel.”
“Good night, Captain.” White didn’t move from his spot or turn around to acknowledge Blue’s departure. He heard his receding footsteps and the sliding door opening and closing on him. Then, satisfied with the settings of his telescope, he carefully left the viewfinder, made a note in his book, and put his eye to the eyepiece.
Still sitting in the same place, Scarlet stared intently as his commander was settling himself to look into the sky. At another time, Scarlet would have been curious to know exactly what he could be looking at. But it wasn’t the case, right now. The captain was far too preoccupied with his own problems to worry about such apparently trivial questions.
He still didn’t know how to tackle the problem with White. It would be even more difficult than he had anticipated, he thought, bowing his head, clasping his hands between his knees. He closed his eyes, thinking about how to proceed, and was just able to stifle a sigh of resignation that his commander would no doubt have heard.
“You’re awfully quiet tonight, Captain,” White declared quietly, his eye still set on the sky. “I’ve got the feeling you’ve got something to tell me and you don’t quite know how to start…”
Scarlet nearly scowled. The colonel’s assumption was right on the spot. Not that it should surprise him. Maybe the best bet would be to tell him head on, without any hedging…
“Indeed, sir,” he said, trying to calm his faltering nerves. “We have to talk…”
“It sounds important.”
“Rather important yes.”
White nodded quietly. Scarlet thought he had failed to hear the urgency in his tone, as he was still absorbed by his contemplation of the sky. “The sky is very clear, tonight,” White declared. “The stars are so bright, even a non-initiate would be able to make out the constellations…”
Yes, that’s it. Say it, without beating around the bush. Now, while he seems in such a good mood.
“Did you ever have any interest in watching the stars, Captain?” White continued. “I always thought that…”
“Dianne is pregnant.”
The words were pronounced very quietly, but firmly, without any hesitation. If Scarlet had shouted at the top of his voice, he couldn’t have had a greater impact on White. He froze instantly, his eye still glued to the eyepiece. A heavy silence fell on the Promenade Deck. Slowly, White’s eye detached itself from the eyepiece. “What?” he said, not yet turning around, the frown on his brow cutting deep lines of perplexity.
The news was out, now. Scarlet raised his head and looked over to his commander, waiting for a reaction, of any kind. It seemed to him it was taking an awfully long time to happen.
Ever so slowly, White turned around, and stared at his junior officer, sitting behind him, worry clearly apparent on the young man’s face. The Spectrum commander shook his head with total disbelief.
“Tell me you’re joking,” he said in a very low tone.
Scarlet blew out a deep sigh. “No, sir. I’m not joking.”
White let the information sink in. There was still doubt on his face, as he struggled to assimilate it.
“I can’t believe it…” he murmured, shaking his head again.
Then, it happened. White’s temper suddenly took over, as Scarlet had dreaded it would. With dismay, he saw his commander, obviously upset, throwing his hands into the air, repeating the same words he had just said, but this time more forcefully: “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!” His left hand accidentally brushed against the telescope standing next to him. It tilted on its stand and fell hard to the floor. Scarlet winced, hearing the crashing sound; White looked down in dismay at his telescope, grumbling something that was not really too pleasant, and that Scarlet couldn’t quite make out. Then the colonel turned and furiously approached him..
“Now you’ve done it, Scarlet!”
“Sir?” The captain wasn’t sure if his commander was talking about his telescope – which he would have preferred – or the news he had just heard. He was quickly informed.
“How?” White growled, standing over him, in a almost threatening attitude. “How could you?”
“Well, sir… I… We…”
“DON’T answer that, please!” White cut in suddenly. “Spare me the details!” His eyes were blazing with anger. “I knew the two of you were sleeping together, even though you were discreet about it, and that’s part of the reason I let it slide, but now you’re making it difficult for me not to say anything!”
“We didn’t plan it this way,” Scarlet sighed heavily.
“You’re telling me it was an accident?” a dumbfounded White continued, not believing his ears. “My God, man! Haven’t you ever heard of taking precautions?”
“Sir… we were,” Scarlet explained, taken aback by his commander’s sudden bluntness. “Dianne… She shouldn’t have got pregnant, in the first place. But it… didn’t work.”
“No. Because… because of me.”
“Because of you.” White’s brow furrowed deeply, his eyes almost disappearing. His tone quieted down. If only a little. “You didn’t take into account your unique condition, with the contraceptive method you used.”
“It never occurred to us that it would happen,” Scarlet continued tiredly. “In fact, I thought just the opposite. That I would never be able to father a child.”
“Well, it seems you thought wrong,” White replied dryly. “Now, what are you going to do?”
“We don’t know. We’re still trying to decide…”
“You’d better decide quickly, then!” White grumbled implacably. “Did either of you consider the consequences of having a baby?”
“Sir…” There was a pleading look upon Scarlet’s features when he looked up at his commander. White saw it and he noticed how the young man sounded so weary, almost worn out. His anger cooled down some degrees. That wasn’t like the Scarlet he knew, generally so full of energy, and always prepared to face any situation. The colonel realised that he wasn’t prepared for THIS particular situation, that it was relatively new to him. He must have found out about this very recently. He probably had been caught unawares. If I was surprised, just then, how much more shocking it must have been for him, the Spectrum commander mused, rather gloomily.
He blew a deep sigh, letting out that was left of his ill feeling about the bombshell that had just been dropped on him, and sat down next to his junior officer.
“All right,” he finally said, waving an hand impatiently, his voice still a little grumpy, but sounding considerably softer than before. “You wanted to talk to me… I’m listening.” He crossed his arms on his chest and stared squarely at Scarlet. “You have my undivided attention…”
* * *
After having discreetly announced herself, Symphony entered Rhapsody’s private quarters, her helmet tucked under her left arm. She had come directly from her shift in Angel One, and had asked Destiny to cover for her for an hour or two in the Amber Room, while she went to check on her British friend. She had not seen Rhapsody for hours, ever since that announcement she had made in the Officers Lounge, and frankly, she had not been very surprised when she had learned that Rhapsody had asked to be excused from duty for the rest of the day. That didn’t stop Symphony from being a little concerned about her.
The room was nearly dark, slightly haloed by a soft blue light from the computer-controlled lighting. She had to listen hard to hear the faint notes of classical music in the background. Not a movement in the room. She found Rhapsody sitting on her couch, turning a cup in her hand, her eyes looking away into empty space, apparently deep in thought.
“Hey,” Symphony said, approaching quietly, “How are you doing? I was worried about you!”
Rhapsody smiled slightly, as her friend sat in front of her, in the only armchair she had – an object she had had in her possession since her days in the FAB. “You had no need to worry, Karen,” she answered quietly. “I’m fine…”
“Are you sure?” Symphony asked, putting her helmet down at her feet and settling herself comfortably in the armchair. “I don’t know… The last I saw of you, you seemed rather down…”
Rhapsody looked down. “I had a lot on my mind,” she murmured. “I’m sorry.”
“You look like you still have,” Symphony noted. “Want to talk about it?”
Rhapsody didn’t answer. Somehow, she felt it was pointless to try to explain to Symphony about the feelings inside of her.
“The others must wonder what’s happening with me,” she noted, referring to the other Angel pilots.
“I admit that, yes, they’re wondering about you,” Symphony answered. “And you know Destiny: she’s actually beginning to be really concerned about you.” Rhapsody nodded quietly. That was so like Destiny, who, even though she was only a few years older, always acted like some kind of overprotective mother. Hearing her friend’s silence, Symphony shook her head. “Talk to me, Dianne, that’s why I’m here. I know this situation is upsetting you…”
“You mean the fact that I’m carrying this baby?” Rhapsody replied, raising an eyebrow.
Symphony nodded, her throat tightening a little; the uncertainty she could see in her friend’s eyes was much too obvious.
“That shouldn’t upset me,” Rhapsody murmured. “I mean, this is Paul’s child… I love that man. I should be overjoyed, shouldn’t I?”
“It’s plain to see you’re not,” Symphony noted quietly.
“No. No, I’m not. It would be so easy to be happy about this. But something’s stopping me…”
“What’s bothering you exactly?”
Rhapsody sighed deeply. “Too many considerations,” she murmured distantly. “Even since Doctor Fawn gave me the news, I’ve kept thinking about what it would mean to bring a child into this world…”
“And that would be so terrible?”
Rhapsody stared incredulously at Symphony. “You’re kidding, right?”
The American Angel sighed. “Obviously, you’ve been mainly thinking of the bad things…”
“They’re foremost in my mind, Karen! I can’t help it. As much as I love Paul, I’m very aware of how different he is, and it… worries me that this child would be like him. And it bothers him too, you know? Imagine what would happen he or she got hurt in a school playground? A grazed knee would heal instantly, in front of other children… Children are cruel, Karen, you know that. You know how they react to anyone different! I’m not even sure our baby would even be able to attend a normal school, be with normal children…” She looked gloomily away. “And if only that was the only concern we have…”
“I can easily think what the others could be,” Symphony replied. “And the conclusion is also very obvious: You don’t want this baby…”
“No, you don’t understand, and that’s the main problem, you see: I DO want it!” Rhapsody’s protests surprised herself more than it did Symphony. The blonde woman didn’t react in any way, and still gazed at her friend, waiting for her to continue. “I just know what it would mean to have this child, the extraordinary consequences it would have. And that’s scaring me.”
“So… you’ve decided not to have the kid because of the responsibilities it would bring?”
“Don’t be mean, Karen: you know it wouldn’t only be because of that.”
“I’m not mean, I’m just trying to help you understand yourself and make a decision. You haven’t decided yet, have you.”
“No, I haven’t. Karen, it’s a terrible decision to make: there’s a life growing inside me. It’s a part of me. And it’s a part of the man I love. I can’t decide just like that to get rid of it, before thinking very carefully.”
Symphony narrowed her eyes. “Dianne, you just said it yourself: it’s a part of Paul. If the baby DOES inherit its father’s condition… Have you ever considered that maybe you won’t be able to get rid of it so easily? It may be impossible.”
“Believe it or not, the thought had crossed my mind,” murmured Rhapsody. “And in that case, maybe the decision would be taken out of my hands.” She looked away, avoiding her friend’s gaze, and her brow furrowed. “WHY doesn’t that make me feel any better?”
“Because it would mean taking the coward’s way out, without accepting responsibility,” Symphony noted, with a brief smile. “I know you well, Dianne Simms. You’re certainly not a coward. Far from it. You want to make your own, honest decision, without relying on a technicality like that.”
“I don’t want to have to look at my child and think that he or she is only there because I wasn’t able get rid of it,” Rhapsody nodded. “That would be so cruel… It should have loving parents, who would care for it, and be there in its moments of need.”
“Dianne… what are you saying?” Symphony asked, frowning.
The British pilot shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not saying anything. I still have a lot of thinking to do… Karen, do you mind… I need to be alone for a while.”
“If you’re sure…”
“All right.” Symphony picked up her helmet from the floor and rose to her feet, comfortingly patting her friend’s knee in passing. “Do me a favour, though.”
“When you do your thinking, take into consideration the good things, will you?”
The smile Rhapsody gave the American pilot was very faint, and filled with sadness. “I am, Karen. Believe me, I am…”
* * *
Colonel White had listened to Captain Scarlet’s explanation, only asking him one or two questions in passing. Never before had his compatriot made such a prolonged speech, or opened up so fully to him. Scarlet had always tried his best to keep a strong façade, even when he had, on very rare occasions, confided in his commander. Captain Blue was the one who knew most about Scarlet, his best friend, his moral support, and his normal confidant. Blue always had been there, especially in those trying times when Scarlet was struggling so valiantly against his doubts concerning his humanity, in those early days when he had been released from the Mysterons’ control. But even Blue didn’t know everything that was brewing inside Scarlet’s mind, as the British captain always kept a certain degree of reserve. His pride wouldn’t allow him to fully open up. But now, White could see he had unburdened his heart to him, without any of that reserve. He had told his commander of all the fears and doubts he had inside of him, that he shared with the woman he loved, concerning the child she was carrying. And of the terrible decision they had to make concerning that child.
“Yes, the consequences of keeping the baby would be enormous,” White said finally, his voice now considerably calmer, after the young captain’s speech finally came to an end. “Your career, for both of you, is probably the least of your worries at the moment. There’s the war, in which you’re both involved… DEEPLY involved, I might add.”
Scarlet nodded gloomily. “Yes, I know. And there’s also the fact that the baby could very well be unlike any other child on this planet…”
White nodded, quietly. He could very well see the young man’s point of view. All of Cloudbase tried to act as if nothing was different about Scarlet, but that wasn’t always something it was possible to do. The Spectrum commander himself had to disregard his personal feelings more often than not, when sending officers on missions, and even more so when it came to Scarlet himself; sending him into the thick of the action, where it was the most dangerous for anyone, because he would surely be the only one who could survive that kind of threat to his life. Scarlet was different, and was the first to act accordingly, by using that strange gift he had received from those aliens who had tried to make him one of their slaves.
White tilted his head to one side, scrutinizing the younger man. “I can see how THAT could worry you, yes. The problems that could arise, if the baby is like you…” He paused a second, hesitating. “What about the Mysterons?” White asked suddenly.
Scarlet shuddered, at the mere mention of that name. He turned his head to stare at his commander, his eyes trembling, demonstrating how unsettling just the thought of these beings was for him. White nodded again. “What do you think the Mysterons would make of all this?”
Scarlet looked away uncomfortably. “I wish I could say I’m trying NOT to think about that,” he said in a low tone. “It scares the hell out of me. I’m not afraid for myself, mind you…”
“No,” White replied. “I’m sure of that, because I know you. You’re afraid for Dianne… and for the baby.” He narrowed his eyes at the young man. “What do you want exactly, Paul?” he asked, rather bluntly.
Scarlet shot him a puzzled look. “Sir? I don’t quite see…”
“I think it’s plain enough. If you didn’t even know if you were going to keep the baby or not, why did you tell me about it?”
A sad smile crossed Scarlet’s tired face. “Adam asked me the same question,” he murmured, running his hand through his hair. “I suppose, I… we, Dianne and I… we’re so unsure what to do now. We thought we needed all the advice we could get.”
“You want MY advice? Why? It’s not as if I’ve actually already been there!” White shook his head of silver hair. “I came close to it, a couple of times, but I never got the opportunity to raise a child, to see it grow up and to be there whenever it needed me…” There was a brief flicker of regret in the colonel’s eyes, as he thought back to all that had been taken from him, so long ago. It only lasted an instant, as he turned to Scarlet. He had come back to his somewhat stern self, as if trying to conceal his sudden discomfort. “You’re not actually answering my question, and I know quite well there’s more to it. You want to keep the baby, and be a father to it.”
“What I want is irrelevant,” Scarlet replied. “We need to make the right decision.”
“And who can tell what decision is right?” White asked. “Nobody can predict what the future holds for any of us. There are consequences in keeping the baby, and there are also consequences in NOT keeping it. Did you think about those? Have you considered what it would mean, to you, to Dianne, or – I don’t know - even to a greater scale, what it could imply if this child is not allowed to live?” White shook his head slowly. “I lost a child – and with it all that I held dear – a long time ago, because of a stroke of fate. I wonder if it would be wise for you to provoke that same fate, without realising the full extent of what that could bring.” He leaned toward the younger man, who was looking away, trying to sort out his troubled thoughts. “I’m not trying to influence you or anything,” White continued. “You asked for my advice. The only advice I’ll give you is that you should consider all the options equally, and be honest with yourself. Take into consideration what it is you want.”
There was a short moment of silence. Scarlet closed his eyes and let out a very deep sigh. “I want… what Dianne wants,” he murmured finally.
“And you don’t know what she wants?”
“No. No, I don’t. She’s as unsure as I am.”
The look of hurt in Scarlet’s eyes made Colonel White feel sorry for the distressed young man, and for the young woman he knew was going exactly through the same trial. He didn’t envy them at all. Comfortingly, he patted Scarlet’s broad shoulder, and grunted his understanding.
“I’m afraid I wasn’t as helpful as you thought I would be.”
Scarlet slowly shook his head, his eyes fixed straight ahead, without really seeing anything, but grateful for his commander’s support. “It’s all right, sir,” he murmured. “I already knew it wouldn’t be an easy decision to make… I just hope that, whatever it will be, Dianne and I will be able to see it through…”
“I’m sure you will, Paul,” White answered, nodding. “I’m sure you both will…”
* * *
Long hours had passed since Symphony had left Rhapsody to her reflections. Even if she had tried, the British pilot would have been unable to sleep. In the semi-darkness of her quarters, she sat on her couch, doing nothing but think almost all night long, turning over and over in her mind all the thoughts related to the earth-shattering news she had received that morning. She could not escape them, even if she had wanted to.
She had been true to her word, concerning what she had said earlier to Symphony; she had been thinking about the good aspects of keeping that life growing inside her. She had surprised herself by smiling at what it would be like to raise a child; but the second after, another one of those dreadful considerations had hit her, and her heart was at once filled with sorrow.
Paul was present in her mind; she kept coming back to his initial reaction to the news. The utter shock, the consternation she could read in his eyes, at the moment she had told him of her pregnancy, and the worries she had about it. She didn’t see, or feel, a single trace of joy in him; she would have thought he would have been happy, or at the very least, pleased, to learn that he was indeed able to father a child. It was a concern that he had first confided in her long ago, when he had confessed his love for her, and had been wondering whether or not they should get involved with each other. But no, she hadn’t seen any of that; on the contrary, if there was anything apparent in his troubled eyes as she was speaking to him, it was discontentment, and sadness. And the concern he obviously shared with her.
She had now moved to stand in front of the lighted fish tank set between her sleeping area and the confined but comfortable ‘lounge’ of her living quarters. She was dreamily watching, with some sort of quiet fascination, the tiny angel fish going to and fro within the confines of the tank. She had now reached a decision; it wasn’t an easy one to make, but she knew it deep inside her heart that it was the only one she could ever consider. And not knowing what Paul had decided, not knowing his true feelings on the subject, she was asking herself how he would react when she told him about it. She was wondering if their relationship would hold up under this crisis, and that was making her so very afraid.
She couldn’t believe she had to go through this with Paul. Nobody should have to decide whether or not they should keep a baby, she told herself, her heart so terribly heavy. That’s so unnecessarily cruel.
She heard buzzing at her door and knew instantly it was Paul. She didn’t move from her spot, knowing he would use her private code to let himself in, and simply turned her head in the direction of the door when it slid open and Captain Scarlet entered. He caught sight of her, and quietly moved toward her, only to stop a few paces away, keeping some distance between them.
“Hi,” he said simply, his voice quiet and low.
“Hi,” she answered. “Or should I say ‘good morning’? I lost track of time. The sun must be nearly up.”
“The dawn was breaking when I left the Promenade Deck.” Scarlet consulted his watch briefly. “It’s about four thirty.”
Rhapsody nodded and turned back to contemplating her fish tank; so she had been awake all night. And apparently, Scarlet hadn’t slept either. She didn’t feel tired, though; that wasn’t because she was overly stressed out. Since she had made her decision, she was feeling much more at ease with herself. She would stick to it, no matter what. She was just preoccupied about how she would tell Paul.
“I was wondering if you were awake,” Scarlet continued. He seemed awkward, still fairly unsure. He cleared his throat and took one step toward Rhapsody; he stopped again. “I thought maybe we could… talk? Now?”
That was a question, but also a desperate request. Scarlet didn’t know how to start the conversation. This situation was so unlike any he had ever had; especially with the woman he loved. But he wanted to get this out on the open, to resolve it as soon as possible. “I was wondering if you had… reached a decision?”
There, it was out. For what appeared like a moment too long, Rhapsody kept silent. Then Scarlet saw her nodding, her eyes riveted on her swimming fish. “Yes,” she said, in nothing more than a whisper. “I’ve reached a decision.” She closed her eyes and let out a deep breath, before opening them again. “I’ve decided to keep the baby.”
There was a profound silence, following her announcement. Rhapsody turned to look at him. She couldn’t make his features out; he was still out of her reach, standing at that same spot, his bright red tunic against the dark background, slightly illuminated by the very dim blue light of the room. The fact that he wasn’t saying anything was a good indication of what he was presently feeling. Rhapsody cleared her throat and very slowly, walked toward him.
“I’m sorry,” she said, still unsure of exactly how he would react. “I… couldn’t stop thinking about it… Should we keep this baby or not. I… I know the problems it could represent, and that we discussed earlier but… I can’t do it. This baby, this special child, it means SO much more than just problems. It’s a part of us. It’s a link between us, a gift that I can’t… that I MUST NOT refuse. If I do, if I refuse the responsibility of having this baby, no matter WHAT the consequences, I would end up hating myself. And maybe, I would end up hating you too. And that’s something I can’t bear to think about.”
She stopped in front of him. His blue eyes, looking darker in the shadowy room, were focussed straight on her face, and his features, completely set, didn’t allow Rhapsody to guess at his feelings. She found this somewhat alarming. She would have preferred him to say something.
“Please, Paul,” she whispered. “Talk to me. I don’t know how you’re taking this, but I can only guess it’s upsetting you…”
“Upsetting me?” he answered, now with a puzzled expression upon his face.
“I’ve made up my mind,” Rhapsody continued, her voice firmer now. “I’m keeping this baby. Please don’t fight me on this, I…”
He silenced her, swiftly but gently putting his open palm on her lips. Rhapsody’s voice trailed off, and Scarlet gazed deeply into her blue eyes; he could see she was threatening to break down. She was calling upon all her strength just to stand up to him, and tell him of her decision. He shook his head, slowly, his throat tight.
“When I came in here,” he said, very quietly, “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really know what your feelings were on the matter, and I didn’t know what to do. Because I’d reached a decision of my own, and I was preparing to fight you every step of the way, to convince you that it was the right one, the only one to make. I’m just so glad… that I won’t have to.” Now it was Rhapsody’s turn to look puzzled, opening wide eyes at him, as if she couldn’t believe her ears. Scarlet’s hand moved to caress her cheek. The smile that curved his lips served to reassure her that she heard him correctly. “You’re not upsetting me, my darling Angel,” he continued, his voice now filled with gratitude and joy, “you’ve just made me the happiest man in the world!”
To Rhapsody Angel’s utmost surprise, Captain Scarlet took her by the waist, and raised her in the air, at arm’s length.
“We’re going to be parents!” the captain shouted, unable to contain that sensation of contentment he had deep inside of him, from the second Rhapsody had told him of her decision. She had taken him completely aback, and he had been so overjoyed that he had been unable to utter a single word right there. Now, he was sweeping her around in the air, twirling her round, and laughing as if nothing else, not one of those terrible doubts he had been having all day, mattered anymore.
“Put me down, you brute!” Rhapsody said, laughing with him. Her head was almost touching the ceiling, which suddenly appeared terribly low to her. That was making her somewhat uncomfortable. “Don’t you realise how fragile I am now?”
He instantly put her down, ever so gently, but didn’t let her go; instead, he drew her closer to him, and longingly gazed into her eyes. “My love,” he whispered, “I don’t know how to thank you. You don’t know what this means to me. I’m going to be a father… I had thought for SO LONG that it wouldn’t be possible for me! But then, you came this morning, with the news and…” He shrugged, trying to find the right words to say. “I didn’t know how to react. All kinds of emotions rushed into me, all at once. I was torn between relief, and joy and… and sadness, and hurt, as I could see you weren’t so keen to have the baby… And then I understood the motives behind your reactions… And I shared them…”
Rhapsody nodded; now she understood all about his initial reaction. She had misinterpreted it. As he had misinterpreted hers. “I wanted the baby, Paul,” she corrected him, with the same low tone. “So badly. That was the FIRST thought I had, when Doctor Fawn gave me the news. But then, very quickly, the doubts came, as I realised what having the baby might mean. I shouldn’t let myself be distracted by those thoughts. They’re unimportant. This child is ours, and I can’t hurt it, without hurting myself, or, what’s worse, hurting you.” She smiled kindly, stroking his cheek. “Yes, you’re going to be a father. I could never take that away from you. Because, yes, I knew what it could mean to you. To us. THAT’s what’s important, Paul. Nothing else matters.”
His smile was filled with gratitude, and his blue eyes trembled a little. He drew her closer still to him, and breathed a long sigh of relief. “Thank you,” he whispered into her ear.
He had had doubts about his own humanity for so long, and worse, he had been afraid that he would not be able to father a child. Blue had been right, after all. He had taken it the wrong way, trying to convince himself that THIS child’s coming would be some kind of burden. No, it was all he needed to reconcile himself entirely with the rest of the human race. To a certain degree, he was still very human.
“You’re right, nothing else matters. Whatever the problems, whatever the consequences. We’ll face them together, you and me. For this child of ours.” He kissed her tenderly, and his hand reached for her belly, to rest on it, as if trying to feel that child, well-protected inside its mother’s womb. A child that was theirs, and that he helped conceived, with the love he shared with his darling Angel. Rhapsody’s own hand came to cover his, as their lips parted, and he drew her even closer, if possible. He let out a deep, shaky breath. “Can you hear me, little one? We’ll always be standing by your side, your mother and me. We’ll always be there for you. Because you’re now our most cherished possession, the most precious of gifts, and nothing will ever change that.”
Rhapsody’s smile widened, upon hearing those words. She looked up to Scarlet, her eyes now bright with a happiness she would not have thought possible a few minutes earlier. “In the meantime, that ‘most precious of gifts’ will be turning our lives upside down,” she noted, trying her best to sound serious, but barely able to smother a chuckle. “You realise a lot of things will have to change now. For example, I’ll have to give up my duties as an Angel pilot… at least until the baby is born. Risking MY life is one thing… But I don’t want to risk this one.”
“I’ll bet the colonel would agree with you,” Scarlet said, nodding.
“We’ll have to tell him soon, Paul.”
“He knows, Angel.” Seeing the now perplexed look upon his fiancée’s face, Scarlet reddened a little, as if embarrassed. “We met on the Promenade Deck earlier… Since we already decided that he would have to know, we… had a talk. The advice he gave me… was surprising… and quite helpful, you know?”
Rhapsody nodded slowly; that wasn’t exactly the way she had planned it to go with Colonel White. But since it seemed to have been helpful for her fiancé, there was little she could say against it. “How did he take it?” she asked, frowning, at the same time curious and concerned about that question. “He wasn’t too upset, I hope?”
Captain Scarlet pondered how he would answer that one. He looked down at his fiancée for a second, then smiled slightly. “He was… surprised, to say the least.”
“I hope he accepts our decision. I’m… I’m prepared to leave Spectrum, if it comes to it.”
“I don’t think you’ll need to go that far,” Scarlet reassured her. “He’ll probably find you a nice position as a non-essential agent somewhere.”
“Maybe here on Cloudbase?” Rhapsody suggested timidly. “I can always fly SPJs and cargoes… There’s not much danger in that!”
Less dangerous than flying an interceptor jet, anyway, Scarlet thought, pondering the suggestion. He wasn’t sure he was himself in total agreement with it, and knew even less what the colonel would think. Somehow, he doubted that the Spectrum commander would accept that solution very easily. As for Rhapsody staying on Cloudbase, Scarlet had the feeling that would be more than likely be the case. He didn’t voice his concern, for fear of frightening Rhapsody, but he suspected that the rather unique position of this child, in regard of the Mysterons, would probably force Spectrum to keep a close eye on it and its mother. Extraordinary steps would have to be taken, then, to ensure its safety… And what better place on Earth to keep the child safe but on Cloudbase?
Somehow, the idea of a child being brought up on Cloudbase, despite the rigorous military rules, had an amusing ring to it…
“We’ll see what the colonel says about that, love,” Scarlet told Rhapsody. His smiled broadened, mischievously. “In the meantime, I have to take into consideration ONE thing he was especially concerned about. And he was quite adamant about it. I’m afraid I’ll be in trouble if I don’t follow THAT bit of advice.”
“What is it?” a concerned Rhapsody asked, furrowing her brow.
“He told me that if I don’t make an honest woman out of you, no matter how indestructible I am, he’ll find a way to have my guts for garters.”
“Wha…” Suddenly realising Scarlet was mocking her, Rhapsody playfully hit him on the shoulder. “Liar! He never said that!”
Scarlet laughed. “No, he didn’t. But he might as well. We’re going to get married, Angel, and very soon. We were going to, anyway, so what do you say if we bring the date forward? I’d like this baby to be born within a real family…”
Rhapsody nodded, her eyes not leaving his, the smile on her face softening, as she brought her hand up to caress his cheek. “I’d like that very much too,” she answered. “Yes, I think it’s about time we agreed on a date, and finally got married. That way, our baby will be born a Metcalfe…”
Scarlet kissed her again, bringing her closer to his chest; Rhapsody kissed him back, very tenderly, with so much love and promise that he understood, without any doubt, that they both had taken the right decision. They were meant to be together, and to have the baby and, without any regrets, accept all the responsibilities, all the joys and the sorrows that decision would bring. All the concern had completely left their minds, and in their hearts there was only warmth and love for each other and that baby between them.
Driven by a sudden impulse, Scarlet swept Rhapsody off her feet and up into his arms, without even stopping to kiss her. When he started to carry her in one specific direction, she looked him squarely in the eyes, putting her brow to his, smiling mischievously. “Do you think that’s wise?” she murmured, cooingly.
“And what more can happen, Angel?” he mocked her. “We already have one baby on the way!”
“I didn’t sleep at all last night… I’m not tired but I’m due for duty in the Amber Room in three hours... I’ll have to make arrangements with the other Angels, and talk to the Colonel… He’ll probably call up one of those stand-in pilots he demanded training for months ago…”
“Will you stop worrying?” Scarlet gently admonished her. “Everything will work out fine, you’ll see…” He kissed her again. “As long as we’re all together, you, me, and that baby boy of ours…”
“Boy!? You’re going fast, Paul Metcalfe! It might be a girl!”
“A girl?” Scarlet seemed to muse over that fact. He smiled back warmly. “A girl! I’ve always liked girls. She’ll probably be as beautiful as you.”
“Well, if we’re in any kind of luck,” Rhapsody continued, with a falsely grumpy tone, “he – or she – will SURELY have your disposition… Which means we’re not nearly out of the woods yet!”
Scarlet made a face at her. “And I suppose you think that’s funny?”
“There’s no escaping the facts, you know?” Rhapsody protested.
“Well, there’s another fact that you can’t escape, my lady…” He had reached the side of the bed. He looked deeply into the eyes of the woman he still held in his arms, as if unable to detach his eyes from her. “I love you,” he finished in a tender whisper.
“And I love you, Paul Metcalfe, with all my heart, and all my soul.”
The exchange was sealed with a kiss; Rhapsody found a short instant to get her breath, and, with little more than a murmur, to call out one last order to the voice-command of her living quarters’ computer-controlled environment. “Lights. Out.” The dim blue light completely extinguished itself, as Scarlet slowly lowered her down onto the bed.
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