A "Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons" story
“Wait a minute – you’re saying we’re already married!?”
Seated at the foot of the bed, Blue watched as Symphony, standing in front of the small table, was pouring the contents of a jug into two goblets, her back turned to him. He saw her give a brief nod of her blonde head, before turning around, and marching towards him, with the two drinks.
“We have been for the past three months – are you saying you do not remember?” There was a look of scepticism on her beautiful face that turned into dismay when she saw his hesitation. She came to sit right next to him, and put the two goblets on the floor, to free her hands, and stroked Blue’s face in concern. “My poor, dearest love… Whatever happened to you and Nanna in those mountains? Oh, those Ice Giants – now that we are strong enough, with the union of our two lands, we will make them pay, you will see!” Her eyes were flashing with indignity and anger. Blue took her hand in his, gently stopping her as she moved to embrace him.
“We’ll see about that later,” he said with an uncertain smile. “But right now – maybe if you’d bring me up to date, it’ll help me remember?” She looked at him as if she had not understood what he was saying. Which is probably the case, he realised suddenly. “Tell me about us,” he said instead. “How did we meet?”
“You do not even remember that?” she moaned.
“I’m afraid not,” he answered, a little sheepishly. “But I’m sure it will come back to me very soon,” he added quickly, noticing the obvious disappointment on her face. “If… you can tell me about it?”
“If it will help you…” Symphony gave a sigh. "I do not know if you remember the battle at the pass of Svartalf, just on the border of the Icy Mountains…" Of course, Blue couldn't remember something he had not been a part of, but he simply nodded as she pursued the tale: "I was leading a troop of Vanir warriors, in reconnaissance on the border, and we clashed with patrolling Aesir soldiers – whom you commanded at the time. It was a glorious battle, and even though you were superior in number, it seemed like our forces were equal…" Blue raised an eyebrow, hearing the barely-contained arrogance of her statement, but didn't reply. "A huge force of mercenaries from Svartalfheim – those servile slaves of the Ice Giants – attacked us," she said with a loud snort of loathing. "Those cowards were much greater in number and had estimated that we were growing weaker, because we had been fighting each other for some time, and casualties were high on both our sides. However, they did not count on the fact that we would combine our strength against our common enemies. We were able to hold our ground – more: we actually killed a lot of those bastards and were able to repel what was left of their forces and forced them to flee across their border. The Aesir troop, however, paid the highest price of this victory: except for you, none of them survived. But they died a glorious death." She touched Blue's chest, right where his heart was. "You were seriously injured, and you lost your sight, while protecting me from a treacherous blow from behind – despite the fact that I was an enemy of your people.”
“I lost my sight?” Blue said in a pensive tone. Okay… that might be in accordance with the Norse legends. Hodur was a blind god, but no story told how he had lost his sight.
There was also no existing saga recalling that he did recover his sight, though. To Blue’s knowledge, anyway.
"You were unconscious - we could not leave you behind, at the mercy of the mercenaries who would surely return,” Symphony continued. “So I decided to take you to Vanaheim. You were not expected to survive, let alone recover your sight, but our physician treated your injuries and you got better as the days turned into weeks. I visited you often, and in the end, even stayed by your side, while you were healing." She smiled, as she remembered those fond memories. "You eventually regained your sight, and your strength. Our Lady Freyja did not quite know what to make of you. She was torn between keeping you hostage and demanding a ransom from your sire or sending your head to him as a warning of what would become of our enemies."
Blue stared at Symphony with unbelieving eyes. They’re all incredibly bloodthirsty in these new roles of theirs! he reflected. Uncomfortably, he stroked the back of his neck. "I'm sure glad she didn't choose the second option!" he noted with an uneasy smile.
"After you had saved my life, her conscience would not let her do it – and frankly, neither would I. Not only because I was now honour-bound to you, for you had saved my life – but because we had fallen in love."
"Now it would seem that was a rather awkward dilemma?"
"Aye. But it was you who provided the perfect solution to it; and to all of the problems of your people and mine, at the same time."
"By marrying you?"
"Not only that, my love, but you convinced Lady Freyja that it would be in the best interests of both our lands to form an alliance that would permit us to fight and eventually defeat the dreaded Ice Giants. The battle at the Svartalf pass served as a proof that by uniting our forces, we would be powerful enough to become a fair match for our common enemies.”
"I guess hard times make unexpected allies," Blue remarked.
“That is what you said at the time,” Symphony said with a brief smile. “And after all, none of us know the real reason for this feud between Aesgard and Vanaheim. It happened so long ago, so was it not time to end this war between our people?”
“Quite right,” murmured Blue, pensively.
“The most difficult part of your task was to convince Lord Odin of the advantage of your plan. After Lady Freyja celebrated our union, you were sent back to Aesgard, escorted by Lord Tyr – as a token of our ruler's good faith, he was to put himself under Odin’s command. And of course, submit the proposal to your Lord, with your help.”
“Lord Tyr is a very brave man to expose himself to the wrath of Aesgard’s ruler,” Blue noted. “I’m guessing Odin wasn’t very happy at discovering I had married a Valkyrie of the Vanir.”
“So you told me, my love,” Symphony said, chuckling. “But you and Lord Tyr were able to show Odin the wisdom of an alliance between our clans. And, if nothing else, despite being our enemy, Odin is known as a very wise man and ruler.”
“He insisted that the Vanir people would officially surrender to Aesgard,” Blue remarked.
“I see the memory is coming back to you, my lord.”
Not really, Blue reflected inwardly. Just an educated guess… He stared curiously at the Valkyrie.
“But if you knew all that,” he pointed out, “if this was already all planned in advance… What was the point of that elaborate scene – why the show during the meeting earlier?”
“T’was part of the deal, my love,” Symphony answered. “Freyja accepted Odin’s demand that Vanaheim surrender to Aesgard – but we have our pride, do we not? We were not going to let it appear that we submitted willingly.”
Blue raised an inquiring brow. “That’s why Rhaps… I mean Nanna… flew to the Icy Mountains?”
“She was on a mission there, but nothing had been seen or heard from her since she left. You volunteered to find her – as a demonstration of Aesgard’s good faith in this agreement between our people.” Symphony smiled thinly. “As I understand, Balder also volunteered, considering Nanna was his betrothed, but Freyja did not trust him entirely. As you are the only Aesir she could truly trust, she agreed that you should go.”
“So it was already decided who would be betrothed to whom,” Blue mused. “Again, it was part of the charade.”
“Of course, my love. Would you have run the risk of me ending up in the bed of one of your brothers?” She laughed, seeing Blue’s response in the form of an awkward look. “I have to admit that neither Nanna nor Sif were pleased with the situation.”
“I bet,” Blue murmured, more to himself than to Symphony.
“You did bring your knowledge of your Aesir brethren to the matching, though,” Symphony continued. “You were confident that Balder and Nanna were perfect for each other… And that Sif’s fiery temper would be a perfect match for Thor’s rowdy manners.”
“Oh, sure, if they don’t kill each other first,” muttered Blue. If they were anything at all like Captain Ochre and Melody Angel, he had no trouble imagining the sparks flying in Thor’s chamber at the moment. Those two were playing a strange game of cat and mouse together – and nobody really knew who was the cat and who the mouse. They stopped just short of getting at each other’s throats. If they had not yet ended up in bed together – and nobody could say for sure if that had already happened – it was certainly bound to happen sooner or later.
“I have told you all that I know so far, and I can see, by the lost look in your eyes, that you are still confused," Symphony declared after scrutinizing him closely. She leaned down and lifted the two goblets she had previously put aside, offering one to Blue. "Enough talk, then. Here is something that might help you regain your memory… or at least, cheer you."
Blue guardedly sniffed the contents of the goblet, remembering how the ale he had drunk earlier in the Hall – even in such a small quantity – had tasted so terrible. The smell of this new drink wasn't disagreeable at all. He tasted it cautiously. "Cider," he proclaimed in surprise.
Symphony nodded her head. "Made with the golden apples of my own garden in Vanaheim," she answered proudly. "My family have tended them for generations – and the cider we make from them is a nectar from the gods. It is said to have healing abilities."
"Is that so?" Blue said, raising an eyebrow. "How much truth is there in that claim?"
"At least as much truth as there is in Lord Thor's assertion that the touch of his hammer can heal mortal wounds?" That didn't sound like a positive answer to Blue, who was taking another sip of his drink. Symphony laughed. "When you tasted it in Vanaheim, you told me it was probably what healed you."
Blue took a larger gulp of the cider. He had never tasted anything like this before. It was truly delicious. Which is really strange. This drink is a part of a 3D game. It shouldn’t even have any taste in the first place. And yet…
"This will be very popular in Aesgard," he noted, looking thoughtfully at the nearly empty goblet.
"Aye, I reckon it will…" Sipping at the contents of her vessel, Symphony watched as Blue drained the last of his. Then, she took it from his hand, and put both back down on the floor. "…And enough drinking, now," she said, leaning toward him and putting her arms around his neck. "I want you to keep a clear head, my love. We might be already married, but that does not mean we cannot be like the others and consummate this 'wedding night'…" She started nibbling at his neck, playfully. At first, Blue didn't react; he was feeling rather hot and slow, and he thought it might be fatigue starting to set in – that, combined with the effect of the cider… He gently tried to disentangle himself from her arms.
"I don't think it's…" He stopped, noticing his slurred voice. His vision was starting to lose its focus and the room was spinning. He blinked several times. "I don't feel too well…”
“I will make you feel better, my love,” she said, in a purring tone, that reminded him very much of Symphony at her most impish. She had no trouble pushing him down onto the bed, as he was quite unable to offer any resistance now. At another time, and in different circumstances, he would have enjoyed himself; but at the moment, considering the awkwardness of the situation, he wasn't sure if it was too wise to pursue this… venture.
And he really didn't feel too well. He tried to fight off the drowsiness that was threatening to overcome him – and a terrible suspicion suddenly formed in his mind.
My God… was the cider drugged?! He didn't think that Symphony – 'Iduna' – would knowingly do him any harm – not after what she had just told him about herself and ‘Hodur’. She truly believed this ‘background story’ to be the truth. She had narrated it, as if she had truly participated in it.
Besides, if she had wanted to, she could easily have slit his throat earlier…
That was logical, wasn’t it?
No… there was definitely something wrong here.
“The cider…” he said, almost in a whisper.
“…Is just making you relaxed,” the voice of Symphony told him. It sounded as if it was coming from afar, and he could barely see her face, now hovering in front of his eyes. He screwed up his eyes, grunting with the effort of desperately trying to stay awake.
“Karen…” he moaned, trying to raise his hand to his aching brow. “My… head…”
“Just relax, my love…” he heard the voice of Symphony tell him again, echoing from even further away. “Relax…”
Darkness engulfed him completely and he felt as if he was falling from a vertiginous height as he finally lost his battle to keep awake, the voice still reverberating through his mind…
“This is the Voice of the Mysterons… We will be avenged for your unprovoked attack on our Martian Complex… Nothing will stop the events leading to Ragnarok. Hear us, Earthmen… Your nightmare is not finished. Ragnarok is coming…”
In the darkness surrounding him, as he was trying to draw himself from a very deep sleep, Captain Blue tensed. The ominous words had made their way into his drowsy mind. This was an abrupt wake-up call to reality, if ever he had heard one. He desperately clung to it, and physically and mentally struggled to wake up.
“Relax, Captain… You’re back with us, now. Just take it easy.”
Blue blinked his eyes and he regained his sight. There was an unnatural brightness surrounding him, now… electric light, he observed, as his eyes became accustomed to it, and he found himself staring up at a high ceiling. He was lying on his back, on a bed – a modern bed, with a mattress – his head elevated on a pillow, and with bleeping sounds coming from a panel embedded in the wall just over his head. An electrode was applied to his brow, and he could feel others on his bare chest. His brow furrowed as his mind cleared and he considered his new situation.
I'm in sickbay, he realised. This is Cloudbase. I'm back…
Next to a powered-down projector, set just above him, he could see a male face, hovering, looking down at him. “Doc,” he sighed, recognising Fawn. When he tried to push himself up from the mattress, it was to discover that his wrists and ankles were held down by security restraints. He looked up with concern into Fawn's face. Fear suddenly crept into his mind.
Oh no… not Edward…
"Do not worry, Captain," a voice told him. "Your doctor isn't an agent of the Mysterons." Blue could see that Fawn's expression was troubled – even upset. The physician looked up in the direction from which the voice had come. A man came to stand next to him, and Blue's eyes hardened upon recognising him.
"But you are, aren’t you, Bromwell?"
Technician Bromwell didn't answer the accusation; he didn't even flinch. Blue struggled against his restraints.
“You’re behind this crazy situation, aren’t you?”
“How perceptive,” Bromwell retorted coldly. He shook his head. "I will free you, Captain… if you give your word that you will behave yourself."
"And why would I do you that favour, exactly?" Blue asked sharply.
"Because if you don't, Sergeant Rochester will kill your friends?” Bromwell made a gesture, and a second man, wearing a Spectrum security uniform, appeared, holding a gun in his right hand. Blue became alert, and stopped struggling. “Starting with the good doctor,” Bromwell added in an ominous tone. As he heard those words, Blue saw the gun being aimed at Fawn who looked down at it with anger in his eyes. Bromwell casually addressed Blue again: "Is that a good enough reason, Captain Blue?"
Blue swallowed hard and nodded briefly. "I think it is, yes."
"So do I have your word?"
"You have it. Free me. I won't try anything against you."
"Good. I knew you were a reasonable man. Doctor Fawn, if you would, please…?"
Under the threat of the gun, Fawn approached and leaned down to first remove the three electrodes attached to Blue’s chest, and the one on his brow. Then he unfastened the restraints on Blue's ankles, and then his wrists. The Spectrum captain carefully kept still, mindful of the gun now trained on them both, until Fawn had finished and stepped back. Only then did Blue finally sit up in bed and swing his feet to the side. He grunted, rubbing his neck. His body felt stiff, as if he had slept a long time – much too long.
Well, of course… That's exactly what’s happened, actually…
Blue looked down at himself. His blue vest was gone, and his shirt had been torn open halfway down to expose his chest, where the electrodes had been attached – he could still see the marks on his flesh. As he raised his head, Blue noticed the bunk next to his. Rhapsody Angel was lying on it, her eyes closed, and her breast rising and falling quietly – obviously deep in sleep. She was restrained as he had been, and, through the discreetly opened cleavage of her uniform, he could see electrodes on her as well, linked to the electronic panel over her head. Just above her face, there was a projector, sending waves of multicoloured lights onto her features, in a gentle, quiet motion. Blue felt anger rising inside him again, and he turned to face Fawn, with an inquiring look. The latter shook his head and offered a faint, but reassuring smile.
"Rhapsody is quite all right, Blue," he informed him. "Just asleep… and, I suspect, deeply involved in this idiotic 3D game…"
Blue thanked him with a brief nod. "How are you, Doc?" he asked in concern.
"Frustrated," Fawn answered, with a frown. "And I also feel quite useless, to tell the truth. One minute, I was falling asleep in… ‘Aesgard’ – and the next, I wake up here, staring up at the business end of a gun. I reckon they figured I’d already told you too much of what was going on."
"On the contrary, Doctor," Bromwell retorted quietly. "You actually served your purpose quite nicely… by giving Captain Blue the first information he needed, so he would be able to play our little game."
"You’re telling me you wanted him to be informed?" Fawn replied with a doubtful glance.
"You are behind this, then," Blue murmured. He nodded thoughtfully, seeing the smug expression on Bromwell's face. "I heard the Mysterons' Voice as I woke up… I'm sure it was not my imagination."
"It wasn't," Fawn said gloomily. "You did hear them."
"So I was right," Blue added, still staring at Bromwell. "You are a Mysteron."
Bromwell smiled faintly. “There’s little point in me answering that question, is there?”
“It was not a question; it was an affirmative statement.” Blue’s tone was as hard as his features, as he stared straight at Bromwell. He glanced briefly in Rochester’s direction; the gun the security guard was holding was aimed straight at him, and his face was implacable. Another Mysteron, Blue thought with loathing. He quickly evaluated his chance of actually taking on the two of them all by himself, without endangering Doctor Fawn. He was interrupted in his reflection by Bromwell’s loud scoffing, which compelled him to turn in his direction.
“Don’t try anything foolish, Captain Blue. Do you really want to see all your friends and colleagues, all the people living on Cloudbase, die? Because if you attack us, if you even succeeded in subduing or killing us, you will sign their death warrant, I can guarantee this. Besides," he added in a mocking tone, "you did give me your word, didn't you?"
“You mean to tell me that all these people are in your power?” Blue asked. He squinted doubtfully at the man.
Bromwell’s glare was icy. “That’s exactly what I mean, Captain,” he said in an ominous tone. “Every single one of them. They’re all in our power.”
“I don’t believe you,” Blue retorted, deeply furrowing his brow. Fawn had a similar expression of doubt on his face.
“Oh, ye men of little faith…" Bromwell declaimed. "So typical of Earthmen…” Sighing, he turned to a nearby TV monitor set on a desk and, with a gesture, invited both Blue and Fawn to approach. It was only two or three steps, and, with Rochester in tow, keeping at a careful distance, with his gun trained on them, the two Spectrum agents came to stand in front of the monitor and watched the image displayed on it.
“This screen is linked to the various security cameras onboard Cloudbase,” Bromwell explained. “I’m sure you’ll recognise most, if not all, of the locations…”
The screen was divided into four sections, showing different areas of Cloudbase. The engine room, the main hangar, the nurses’ station in sickbay and the radar room were first displayed. Bromwell pushed a button repeatedly, and the images flicked through other portions of the base… The cafeterias, the sports centre, the galley, the officers’ lounge, the technicians’ stations, and so on… Blue and Fawn opened their eyes wide with disbelief; all of those places were displaying the same, incredible images…
People were lying on the floor, or sprawled on seats, or at their stations, seemingly unconscious; there was a mist in every room, ominously floating in the air, and the ambient lighting, in all the rooms, was flashing in a strange motion, that reminded Blue very much of the hypnotic lighting system in the Room of Sleep – and of the lights he had seen flashing over Rhapsody’s face.
As far as Blue and Fawn could tell, by the flickering of the many lights from different electronic panels, all the computerised and electrical systems they could see seemed to be operational and working in perfect order. Whatever had hit the personnel didn’t seem to have any effect on the material. That reminded Blue uncomfortably of what had happened at several bases of the Frost Line Defence system, more than a year ago… Everyone working in those bases had died, at that time.
This was so very similar – down to that ominous mist. Except for those dancing lights…
“Don’t worry, they’re all alive.” The voice of Bromwell made his way through Blue’s brain, seemingly reading his mind. The Mysteron agent flicked through the images one last time, until the screen finally displayed its last four images: the Control Room, which, at the moment, was completely empty; the Amber Room, where he could see three of the Angel pilots slumped on the two sofas, apparently deep in sleep; the sickbay Room of Sleep, fully operational, where colour-coded officers could be seen lying on beds. Closest to the camera, Blue could recognise Colonel White and Captain Ochre. Blue counted three other officers, but the rapid and irritating flickering of the hypnotic lights made it difficult for him to see who they were or what the colour of their uniforms was. The last image was that of Rhapsody, lying on her bed right next to them, looking so peaceful.
Blue turned furiously toward Bromwell. "What evidence do we have that they are indeed alive?" he asked.
Bromwell smirked. "I could give you my word that they are, but I think you would not find it sufficient. You already know that Rhapsody is alive. And I can show you the readings from the beds in the Room of Sleep…" He gestured to the third image on the screen. "Look closely. You can see that your colonel is in good condition. As well as Captains Ochre, Magenta and Grey – and Lieutenant Green."
Blue pricked his ear, noticing that Bromwell didn't mention Scarlet. He said nothing for now. He was watching the screen intently.
“What is this… mist… that seems to be all over Cloudbase?” he asked suspiciously.
“Actually, it is all over the base, except for sickbay,” Bromwell corrected. “We sealed all airlocks leading here, you see, so we’ll be perfectly safe. This is gas, as you might have guessed. A very strong, narcotic gas.”
“And this is what you used to knock everyone out.”
“Correct, Captain. It is true that we could have killed them all. Quite easily. By using lethal gas, instead of this one, for example. We had the opportunity. But we didn’t do it.”
"Why didn't you?"
"It would not serve the purpose of the Mysterons." He marked a short pause. "At this point, anyway.”
“How did you get that gas in here?”
Bromwell chuckled. “Ah… Captain, you would have me tell you all of my little secrets?” Blue simply frowned in answer. Bromwell looked thoughtful for a minute, before giving his answer: “Creating the gas onboard was a little matter, when you have access to all the components necessary. Some of them, you would find in sickbay, others in the hangar bay – the rest, down in weaponry.”
Blue narrowed his eyes. "How did you succeed in getting it all over Cloudbase?” he asked. “And how did you put everyone into such a state? How did you achieve that?”
“How did I trap all of them in this fake reality, you mean?” Seeing Blue nodding to the affirmative, Bromwell shook his head. "Oh… through a simple rewiring job within Cloudbase’s various life-support and environmental systems, and computers… addition of special software and programming… Easy enough when you have the natural ability to do it...”
“Easy my foot!” Fawn scoffed loudly. “You had the help of the Mysterons! And there is nothing ‘natural’ about this 3D game… The Mysterons simply used its setting and literally ‘created’ that world the others are trapped in…”
Bromwell grinned faintly. “The Mysterons have powers you can’t even dream of possessing… Let alone start to understand. ”
“I hate it when you Mysterons get melodramatic like that,” Fawn muttered.
But Blue was shaking his head dismissively. “You couldn’t have had access to all those components like that, Bromwell,” he said harshly. “It’s impossible that you would have been able to do so without your efforts being discovered by security or Cloudbase’s automatic safety features.” He nodded abruptly in Rochester’s direction. “Neither you nor this guy could gain all the necessary access codes to all the safety locks you would have run up against, looking for those components – let alone to access the life-support controls systems, breach them and send your crap through the vents. That, before being able to ‘rewire’ – as you said it – the environment systems?” Blue stared directly at Bromwell. “You had help, all right… But not only from the Mysterons.”
“Bromwell smiled again. “You are a clever man… Not much gets by you, does it, Captain?”
“I have my moments,” Blue growled.
“Yes,” Bromwell acknowledged then, with a shrug. “I will admit it… I had some help to breach the security systems. Some very useful help.”
“How?” Fawn asked suddenly. “To breach that kind of security, you needed to gain access to…”
“The Control Room, of course,” Bromwell confirmed.
“Someone from the Control Room helped you?” Fawn repeated, opening eyes wide with astonishment. He could see that Blue had already figured that out, by the grimness displayed on his features. But Fawn was still sceptical. “Who…?”
“Who else but the Control Room duty officer at the time?”
Blue paled. “Green…?”
“Green was at the sickbay Room of Sleep when it all started. Helping to transform it into an FX Room.” The new voice coming from the door made Blue and Fawn turn in that direction. There was a newcomer standing in front of the closing doorway. He was dressed in a dark red uniform and was looking at them from under his cap visor, with cold, unconcerned eyes.
“Lieutenant Burgundy?” Blue said with a frown, recognising one of Lieutenant Green’s usual replacements at the central computer. “So you’re in it too?”
“Correct, Earthman,” Burgundy said, approaching with a quiet step.
Blue tensed. He’s a Mysteron, like the others, he realised. Of course. There could be no other way to explain how faithful Spectrum personnel – like these three men were supposed to be – would turn against their colleagues.
“It was easy for Sergeant Rochester to kill Lieutenant Burgundy, before he could start his duty stint at the main computer,” Bromwell explained. “Aside from the opportunity, he was perfect. Burgundy has been part of Lieutenant Green’s team of auxiliaries almost since the beginning. His knowledge of Cloudbase Control is second to no-one’s on base – except maybe Green himself.”
“… And Captain Magenta,” Blue corrected.
“… And Colonel White,” Fawn added obligingly.
Bromwell nodded his acknowledgement. “So now you understand how easy it was for us to disable the security failsafes and gain access to wherever we wanted to go within any of Cloudbase’s systems. We were able to imprison everyone, without anyone noticing it before it was too late. We even blocked Angel One on deck, so she won’t be able to take off and escape.”
“You think you’ve thought of everything, don’t you?” Blue said roughly. A thought suddenly hit him. Angel One… The craft was to be manned constantly, so that meant that someone was in it when the attack began. The pilot might have realised that something was wrong, and would have been safe from the gas, in the cockpit of her craft. He turned to the screen. There were three Angels there… Destiny, Melody, Symphony… Of course, he realised. Those who were playing the Valkyries in that fantasy world… Harmony was probably the one in Angel One, then… She had not been included in the fantasy.
“Don’t get your hopes up too high, Captain,” Bromwell then said. His eyes were fixed on Blue and he probably suspected the Spectrum captain was preparing a plan of action. ”We disabled all communications systems. No distress messages were sent. No one is even aware of what has happened to Cloudbase, so don’t expect any outside help.”
“Before long, someone is bound to suspect something’s happened,” Blue warned. “Cloudbase will fail to report, as it regularly should – or to answer calls. And then they will investigate…”
“By then, it might be far too late for you or your colleagues, Captain.”
Blue was still staring at the screen. “What have you done with the pilot of Angel One?” he finally asked. “And with Captain Scarlet? I can’t see them anywhere.”
“Don’t worry; they’ve been taken care of.”
That sounded terribly ominous to Blue’s and Fawn’s ears. “What have you done with them?” Blue repeated with insistence.
There was a short pause, and Bromwell apparently considered his answer. “As I told you, Lieutenant Burgundy blocked Angel One on deck,” he said finally. “The systems are all down. That means that the pilot is trapped inside, unable to do anything.”
“So she’s no threat to you.”
“She certainly is not,” Burgundy answered nonchalantly. He checked his watch. “…And especially since about half an hour ago, now.”
Blue frowned, not quite understanding what Burgundy meant. “What happened, a half hour ago?” he asked, almost dreading to learn the answer.
“The oxygen in her cockpit ran out, I’m afraid…”
The carelessness with which Burgundy had made this statement left Captain Blue and Doctor Fawn completely horrified.
“Oh God, Harmony…” Fawn whispered, blanching.
Blue had also turned pale; but his horror was mixed with a good dose of anger. And guilt. He couldn’t believe that he had neglected worrying about the quiet and gentle Chinese pilot up until just a few minutes ago. She had probably died a hideous death, choking until she couldn’t breathe anymore, not understanding what was happening to her, why it was happening. Blue exchanged a glance with Fawn and could see the shock and grief in the doctor’s features.
As for himself, he was truly repulsed.
“You murderer…” he growled, eyes flashing, and stepped toward Burgundy.
Rochester just needed to raise his gun to stop him in his tracks. Blue stayed where he was, glaring furiously, first at Burgundy, then at each of the other two Mysteron agents. “Don’t think you’ll get away with this,” he said between his teeth.
“I didn’t think that proffering empty threats was your style, Captain,” Bromwell remarked with cynicism. “How disappointing of you.”
“Where is Captain Scarlet?” Blue asked suddenly. There was still the matter of his friend’s and colleague’s fate to consider. And none of the Mysterons had told him so far what had happened to him. What they had learned just now concerning Harmony wasn’t really that reassuring for Scarlet…
Bromwell slowly walked away from the monitor. The bastard is taking his time, Blue reflected. He doesn’t look like he wants to tell us…
“We had to take… special measures with Captain Scarlet,” the Mysteron finally announced.
“Meaning exactly…?” Blue was now very suspicious.
“If you’re wondering if your friend is alive or not, I’ll reassure you, Captain Blue: he is very much alive.”
“I want to see him.”
“Unfortunately, Captain – that isn’t possible. You’ll have to content yourself with my word that he is alive.”
Blue tensed, feeling more apprehensive than ever. Why don’t they want to show us Scarlet? What have they done to him?
Fawn grunted. “How can we believe you?” he snapped, in answer to Bromwell’s statement, “Scarlet has been a pain in the Mysterons’ side since day one of this ‘war of nerves’ they declared against us. You’re telling us you’d pass up the chance of getting definitely rid of him?!”
“Do you want proof of what I’m saying?” Bromwell retorted. “You have both seen him, in that fantasy world. Playing a role, like the others.” He smirked. “…And believing every minute of it.”
“Just like everyone else,” Burgundy remarked.
"Your friend’s survival – all of your colleagues’ survival – rests in your hands, Captain Blue,” Bromwell continued. “They will die, if you do not play our game. Your colleagues are trapped within the fake reality that was created for them – totally unaware of who and what they are…” He tilted his head to the side. “… And of the danger hanging over their heads.”
“What kind of danger?” Blue asked. “What do your Mysteron masters have in mind, this time?”
"You heard the content of their threat when you woke up earlier, no?"
Blue frowned, trying to recall the exact words he had heard. "Something about 'Ragnarok'…" he muttered.
"That's the end of the world, according to Viking legends, isn't it?" Fawn asked in concern.
Bromwell ignored his interruption. "If you want to save your friends, it will be your task to try and stop Ragnarok from coming to the Aesgard world," he told Blue. "If you should fail…" He let the rest hang.
"That world will die?" Blue finished, with a deepening frown.
"And your colleagues will die," Bromwell continued. “I mean… not only in the Aesgard world. But truly die.”
Fawn scoffed. "This is just a silly 3D game," he retorted curtly. "Whatever happens in that fake world is purely on a subconscious level. It can't harm anyone…"
"You mean, it can't harm anyone physically? Are you so certain of that?" Fawn hesitated. Bromwell grinned maliciously, looking at the two Spectrum officers one after the other. "Anyone who dies in this 'fake world' – will die for real,” he repeated with self-confidence. “For any participant of this ‘silly 3D game’, Doctor – it will truly be 'game over' – once and for all.”
"You can't be serious," growled Fawn. “And we truly are to believe you on this?"
"So far, Doctor, I haven’t lied to you. They will die, believe me." Bromwell marked a dramatic pause, before adding, in a tone of ominous promise: “Even your oh-so-reliable Captain Scarlet… His relative invulnerability will be of no help in this matter. When his subconscious mind dies in Aesgard, he will also die in reality. With no hope of ever returning.” He smiled wickedly. “Or do you prefer to believe I am bluffing? In that case you are condemning everyone on Cloudbase.”
Fawn was about to protest loudly, when Blue put a calming hand on his shoulder to stop him saying something he might regret. It wasn’t really wise to anger their captors, at this point. Not when they were learning much of what was going on. "Let's not forget this world was created by the Mysterons," Blue reminded the physician.
Fawn marked a pause. "Quite," he conceded, “which is an aberration in itself. Why did they create this world in the first place, and trap everyone in it, instead of killing us all, while we are at their mercy?" He addressed a murderous look to Bromwell. "And now they’re giving us a chance to get out of this trap of theirs? Why?"
"Isn't it obvious, Earthmen?" Bromwell said ominously.
“It might be obvious to you,” Fawn rumbled. “But it’s not bloody well obvious to me!”
Bromwell sighed and rolled his eyes, like a teacher would when facing a very stubborn pupil. "By making all the personnel on Cloudbase believe themselves to be part of this world, the Mysterons want, before striking the fatal blow, to demonstrate that your much-vaunted 'advanced civilisation' has not changed much since the beginning of your race. Deep inside, you are still the same savage barbarians of centuries past – your life still very much guided by your most basic instincts..."
"That is a matter of opinion," Blue growled.
"Try to deny, Captain, that you didn't feel any surprise by seeing how easily your colleagues – even your so composed colonel – settled into their new roles of brutal and uncivilised Viking warriors," Bromwell said with a wicked smile. "It must have been quite a shock to you. Especially considering your own lineage…”
"I will not deny nor admit anything," Blue retorted. “And was my ‘lineage’ the reason why you chose me to take up this… ‘challenge’ of yours? Because this is what we’re talking about, isn’t it?”
“Call it what you will, Captain… This ‘challenge’ could very well be the end of all the people living in Spectrum. You stop Ragnarok from happening – and they’ll live. But quite frankly, I doubt very much that you’ll be able to succeed.”
“How much time do I have to ‘stop Ragnarok’?” Blue asked with annoyance, not willing to answer the Mysteron’s obvious gloat.
Bromwell raised a brow. “How long do you think your friends are likely to survive in this unconscious state, without sustenance, before their health becomes endangered? That is – if Ragnarok doesn’t kill them first.”
“You always like to put pressure on, don’t you?” Fawn mumbled in an undertone.
“Assuming that I’ll accept this challenge,” Blue continued, “What will happen if I stop Ragnarok from happening?”
“If you were to succeed… everybody will simply wake up from their induced sleep. Alive and well. Those who haven’t died, that is.”
“As simple as that?” a suspicious Fawn asked. “What about the gas?”
“The gas is starting to dissipate, as we speak, Doctor. Not that it is of any use right now. No one will be able to wake up before the end of this experiment, but, if they don’t die before you succeed – if you succeed – they will wake. Not that that is a very likely outcome.”
“You’re full of optimism, aren’t you, Bromwell?” Fawn remarked with disdain. “And we are to take your word for it, that you will let all of these people go free if Captain Blue succeeds in his mission?”
“You have my word.”
“Well, I don’t trust you,” Fawn snorted.
“You don’t count, Doctor. The decision is Captain Blue’s alone.” Bromwell looked in Blue’s direction. Blue kept silent, glaring at the three Mysterons, weighing his options. “So are you up to the… ‘challenge’, Captain Blue? Are you ready to go back to Aesgard world and try to stop this new threat from the Mysterons?”
“It’s not like you’re leaving me much choice, is it?” Blue grumbled.
“Quite frankly, knowing your dedication to Spectrum, it would surprise me if you refused the challenge, Captain.”
“Mmm… Am I to act alone?” He was looking in Fawn’s direction.
“The only other person who still remembers about the real world and who she really is, is Rhapsody Angel. I’m sure she’ll feel duty-bound to help you.” Bromwell shrugged dismissively. “You can always try to convince the others… But I doubt you’ll succeed in making them see the truth. In their present state of mind, it would be a difficult concept to grasp… They will think you are mad.” He glanced at Fawn. “The good doctor will not join you in this… adventure. He’ll be staying with us. In the real world.”
“I’m to be a hostage then, to make sure Captain Blue behaves?” Fawn demanded matter-of-factly.
“You might think that if you wish, Doctor. But I thought you’d like to monitor the health of all your ‘patients’ – while the captain and the Angel are away performing their… mission.”
“You’re just planning to play with me – like a cat with a mouse,” Fawn groused. “Watching me squirm, as I watch them all die one by one…”
“Unfortunately for you, Doctor,” Bromwell said ominously, “that’s an eventuality that just might happen.”
“I’d like to discuss this with Doctor Fawn,” Blue suddenly demanded, in a firm voice. “Alone. Without any of you watching over us.”
Bromwell stared at Blue with curiosity. Then he exchanged looks with both Burgundy and Rochester, as if asking for their opinion on the subject. Both of the other Mysteron agents shrugged, as if they didn’t care about the seriousness of Blue’s demand.
“I don’t see how it could cause any problems,” Bromwell finally said. “In any case, your mission is doomed to fail. Consider this the last request of a condemned man.”
“Because when Ragnarok comes to Aesgard, I will die too, like all the others, right?” Blue asked casually. “Somehow, coming from the Mysterons, that doesn’t surprise me.”
Bromwell simply stared at him coldly, not deigning to answer the remark. “Take them to Doctor Fawn’s office,” he ordered the other Mysterons, his eyes still not leaving Blue. He addressed the Spectrum agents again: “I give you five minutes, gentlemen.”
Docilely, under the threat of two guns trained on them, both Blue and Fawn let themselves be taken to Fawn’s personal office nearby. They were pushed inside, and the door was closed behind them. They heard the lock being pulled and could see, though the frosted window, the shadow of the Mysteronised men as they stood guard in front of their new prison. Fawn immediately went to his desk and pressed the command button of his comm.link… only to discover that it was dead. He then turned to his computer and tried to access the communication programs. The message ‘Access denied’ flashed on his screen.
“Damn,” he murmured. “Still not working.”
“Still?” Blue asked, raising a curious eyebrow.
“From the moment I woke up until about half an hour before you woke up, they kept me locked in here,” Fawn explained. “I’ve already tried using the comm. and the computer, without any success. Those Mysterons thought of everything…”
“Did they?” Blue picked up a sharp letter-opener lying on Fawn’s desk and showed it to the physician. The latter grunted with bad humour, while approaching his colleague.
“I doubt this would be much of a weapon to stop three Mysteron agents, armed with guns,” he noted, tapping the blade with his forefinger.
“Oh, I don’t know… There’s a lot you can do with a blade like this one.”
Blue’s hand suddenly took hold of Fawn’s extended wrist, imprisoning it in a strong grip. A surprised Fawn opened his eyes wide with surprise, when he saw Blue pull the hand towards himself, and then bring the blade to the open palm.
“What are you doing?!” he snapped in alarm. “Blue, are you crazy? Stop!” He struggled, but was unable to stop Blue from stoically cutting his hand. Fawn let out a yelp, more of surprise than pain, as blood started pouring through the fresh wound. He pulled hard to free himself, but Blue simply released him. Fawn grabbed a paper tissue from the box on his desk and started to wipe his wounded hand.
“You are out of your mind!” he snapped again, raising angry eyes at Blue. “What did you hope to achieve?”
“Prove that you weren’t a Mysteron,” Blue replied, shaking his head quietly. “Admit it; it was suspicious that they would allow me to talk to you in private… without any surveillance. Unless you were working for them. I had to make sure you were on the level.”
“Oh, right! By cutting one of my fingers off and putting my surgical career in jeopardy?”
Blue rolled his eyes. “Don’t panic, Doc… I hardly wanted to cut off one of your fingers. It’s just a little cut.”
“A little cut that can get infected. I will have to clean that up…” Fawn examined the wound, grimacing. Blue looked at it too, a smile starting to form on his lips. It was still bleeding. Fawn noticed his expression.
“Well, I hope you’re satisfied,” he growled.
“You’re a maniac, Blue. Beside, this little experiment of yours was useless… You know as well as I do that not all Mysteron agents are retrometabolic. This wound might bleed, but it doesn’t mean I’m not a Mysteron.”
“Maybe not. But your attitude sure means it.” Blue’s smile was faint but genuine. He pointed to the injured hand, that Fawn was wrapping in the handkerchief. “If you had been a Mysteron, you would have used this bleeding wound as proof, and claimed that you were not one. Instead of being your usual self and pointing out that it wasn’t really proof… as you just did.”
Fawn glared at him. “Somehow, somewhere in that thick skull of yours, I’m sure that argument makes a lot of sense,” he grumbled.
Blue shook his head and handed the letter-opener to Fawn. “Here. You were right; it isn’t much of a weapon… But keep it anyway. It might save your life, if it comes to it.”
Fawn nodded briefly, and, taking the blade, put it inside his vest, where it would be inconspicuous. “How do you reckon these Mysterons came onboard?” he said, quickly changing the subject, and looking up at Blue again.
Blue shrugged. “The explanation might be very simple. Consider that one of them died accidentally or naturally – he could have killed the others, to make them his accomplices.”
“Then they put their plan into motion,” Fawn said, pensively. “Yes… that must be how it went. We did learn that it was Rochester who killed Burgundy… That’s about all we know on that subject.”
“We only have five minutes, Doc,” Blue reminded him. “So we’d better not lose any more time, or someone else might die. We already lost too many – amongst them, Harmony.” Blue marked a silent pause, looking sombre at the thought of the deceased Angel. Fawn put his good hand on his broad shoulder and squeezed it with empathy.
“They won’t get away with this,” the physician promised. “They’ll pay for her death.”
“I do intend to make them pay for all they’ve done,” growled Blue. He shook himself. They didn’t have much time. They couldn’t allow themselves to be distracted by their feelings, he reminded himself. There would be time later to mourn… “What do you make of it, Doc? Do you think what Bromwell said is true? If someone dies in Aesgard – will he also die… in the real world?”
“You said it yourself: this world is the work of the Mysterons. We don’t know a thing about many aspects of their powers.” Fawn shook his head. “Do we dare take the risk and assume they’re lying?”
“So they might be able to make Ragnarok happen – and then everyone will die?”
“What does ‘Ragnarok’ mean, exactly?”
“It’s the ‘Twilight of the gods’, Edward. When Aesgard is destroyed and everyone dies, in a final battle against the Forces of Evil. In effect – for the Vikings – it meant the end of the World.”
Fawn became sombre. “I hate it when I’m right,” he whispered. “And how does this ‘Ragnarok’ happen? You said – a ‘battle against the Forces of Evil?’ ”
“I’m not sure – my memories of those legends are rather vague. It’s been a long time since I read about them. I was only a child. There was a catalyst, though… It has something to do with Balder, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Balder? You mean… Scarlet?”
Blue nodded slowly. “Why do you think Bromwell didn’t want to show us Scarlet? Or to tell us what they actually did to him? Don’t you find it suspicious?”
“I found it damned worrying, if you want me to tell you the truth. I just hope he is alive – and well. Wherever he might be.”
Blue sighed. “He has to be. For the time being. I think the Mysterons might need him – somehow. To carry out this new threat of theirs.”
“Blue, how can you say that?” Fawn protested. “You know Scarlet would never…”
“I don’t mean willingly, Doc,” Blue interrupted. “I mean: he might be the catalyst they need.” He shook his head pensively. “Like Balder was the catalyst for the Ragnarok…” He frowned, as if something had hit him, as an after-thought. “… Or was it Loki?”
“The evildoer of Aesgard… Doc, you won’t believe it. In this fantasy world – it’s Captain Black.”
Fawn stared at Blue in deep silence, with a blank expression on his face, obviously stunned by the news; he finally reacted, by taking a deep intake of breath.
“So he’s involved in this too, then. We should have known.”
“I’m positive it was Black himself,” Blue insisted. “Not some kind of… ‘creation’ of this silly game.”
“Which would mean he’s somewhere on board Cloudbase,” Fawn noted.
“I think the same… if he was subjected to the same treatment as all of us.” Blue went pensive. “That would mean he’s probably unconscious like the others… defenceless. Imagine: that would be an ideal occasion to finally capture him.”
“Blue, your dedication is certainly admirable… but I honestly think our priority should be to free ourselves first,” Fawn commented. “Then we might consider what we’ll do with Captain Black. If he is indeed here and if we can find him.”
“I’m sure he is,” Blue retorted with conviction.
Fawn shook his head. “We didn’t see him on any of the cameras. If he’s here, they’re hiding him.”
“Like they’re hiding Scarlet.”
“The last time I saw Scarlet, he was in the auxiliary Room of Sleep, in sickbay,” Fawn said thoughtfully. “Where the colonel, Ochre, Magenta, Grey and Green are at the moment.”
“Those Mysteron agents must have moved him, then,” Blue noted.
“So you might be right in thinking either Scarlet or Black might be the catalyst to this… Ragnarok thing.” Fawn paused. “Or, in the case of Scarlet… could he be the solution?”
Blue offered a faint smile. “Like he so often is, Doc? I wish it was that simple…”
“Well, maybe it is a possibility to consider, don’t you think? You can try to get through to him in the fantasy world – no matter what these Mysterons say, they might have lied. Maybe you’ll be able to get him to see reason.”
“I can try… At least I’ll be able to count on Rhapsody’s help as well. Together, we might be able to decipher this… insane riddle.”
“And I’ll be stuck here, a hostage, unable to do anything,” Fawn grunted. “They’ll probably lock me in here, like before. If I was free to move about… I could try to find where Scarlet – and Black – are hidden.” He looked regretfully at his computer screen. “I wonder if I would be able to access the surveillance cameras from here? That would make the search easier. And also – if I’m able to gain access to Worldnet too, I would do some research; to find out all I can on ‘Aesgard’ and ‘Ragnarok’ – and then pass the info on to you…”
“I doubt you’d be able to do that, Doc,” Blue retorted. “The Mysterons won’t leave you without surveillance. Or – they will restrict all your access to the computer databanks.”
“I think these Mysterons don’t consider me a real threat, Captain,” Fawn snorted derisively. “They left me pretty much by myself earlier. And – I might be able to crack the security code they used to lock the accesses. I may not be Magenta or Green, but… I know a thing or two about computers. And I imagine that their lock won’t be as secure on the cameras and the Worldnet as it is on communications. Their main concern, more than anything else, would be that we don’t contact anyone.”
Blue raised a doubtful brow. “Assuming you can do that… how would you be able to contact me, while I’m in that fantasy world? Frankly, I don’t…”
He stopped suddenly, interrupted by sounds behind the door. Someone was unlocking it; their five minutes were obviously up. Quickly, Fawn leaned over his desk and opened the first drawer, removing a small gleaming object from inside, that he swiftly put into his vest pocket. Blue couldn’t see what it was and didn’t have time to ask. The door was now sliding open, and Burgundy and Rochester appeared in the opening, their guns trained on them.
“It is time,” Burgundy announced icily. “You must come with us, both of you.”
Both Spectrum agents left the office, and under the threat of the two guns, returned to the room they were previously in. Bromwell was waiting for them, standing next to the empty bed, waiting.
“Did you change your mind then?” Fawn demanded as they both approached. “Am I to go too?”
Bromwell smiled thinly. “No, Doctor Fawn. I know you never were too keen on the ‘Room of Sleep’ technology… And this… experiment we’re pursuing, as you know, uses some of the same processes. So I’m putting your mind at rest.” He paused for a short second. “As a doctor, you will make sure your friend is safe, while we put him under and send him back into the Aesgard world. Then you will know the Mysterons are true to their word, contrary to what you might believe.”
“There isn’t much you can say that would make me change my mind about the Mysterons,” retorted Fawn coldly.
Bromwell ignored the remark. He gestured toward the monitors set over Rhapsody’s bed, where she was still sleeping; they were beeping steadily. “As you can see, the Angel pilot is still in good health. There seems to be a little nervousness, as indicated by some of the lines, but then… considering the situation, I think it is normal, don’t you think?”
“The kid must be thinking she’s going crazy,” Fawn said with a scowl.
“Captain Blue…” Bromwell motioned to the empty bed, and Blue felt the muzzle of a gun pressing against his back. “If you would take your place now…”
Blue didn’t really need any incentive; nor did he hesitate further. His decision was made. He sat down on the bed, and willingly laid himself on it, stretching his long body to get into a comfortable position. He only started feeling a little uneasy when he felt the restraints being put back on him.
I feel like I’m putting my head into the lion’s mouth, he reflected. But what other choice do I have but to agree to go?
Following Bromwell’s invitation, Fawn himself prepared the electrodes and expertly applied them on Blue’s body. Their cold touch against his bare skin made Blue quiver, but he didn’t say anything. He was mentally preparing himself for the upcoming experiment.
While Fawn was busying himself, under the watchful eyes of Rochester and Burgundy, Bromwell was preparing a syringe, taking a blue liquid from a small bottle on a nearby table. As Fawn finished placing the last electrode on Blue’s forehead, Bromwell handed him the needle. He took note of the worried look on the doctor’s face.
“Don’t worry, Doctor. This will only put your friend to sleep… and will permit him to smoothly enter the realm of Aesgard.”
“Go ahead, Doc,” Blue said in an assured tone. “I’m ready.”
Fawn nodded, with still a little uncertainty, and leaned over Blue’s forearm. Blue’s eyes were looking upward, and as he felt the puncture on his arm and felt the drug enter his bloodstream, he could see Bromwell pushing buttons on the monitor. Multicoloured lights from the projectors above his head started dancing.
The injection was barely finished before Fawn’s hand took his, and Blue felt something cold and metallic that discreetly slid around his middle finger. A ring, he realised. He wondered what it was about, but kept silent, and Fawn encouragingly squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back, making the gesture appear as natural as possible.
“Good luck,” Fawn told him in a near-whisper. “You will need it.”
Blue briefly nodded, as he could see the projector being lowered, and he now could only see the hypnotic lights. His mind was already fogging.
“See you later, Doc…” he slurred.
Then he fell deeply asleep.