A Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons story
By Flic City
Centuries ago, a race of supernatural beings attempted to forge a connection between Earth – the mortal planes – and their homelands, the dark planes. They made pacts with humans, playing upon their greed and violence to gain access to their souls – and through them, to the mortal planes.
But their plans were thwarted by the Powers Above. The beings of the higher planes could not act directly, for doing so would have destroyed the balance between the planes. But they could inspire humanity to fight the demons’ influence. Those who were especially strong in this were called heroes, and were honoured by the humans. And the demons lost their hold on Earth, fleeing across the emptiness of space to Mars, where they planned their revenge on those who resisted their influence.
For a long time, the demons had known that they would be hunted by the men of Earth. That was the way it had always been, since that fateful time when the Powers Above first inspired the humans. But this time, they would ensure that the heroes sent to fight them would instead serve them...
Captain Black scowled thoughtfully as he stared out of the window. He didn’t like being here, out in the middle of nowhere – a Martian desert was the closest thing he could imagine to nowhere at this moment – searching for the source of some mysterious readings. He felt that there was danger coming from somewhere; danger and dishonour.
But his worries were not sufficient reason to call off an expedition which had been planned for years, and he knew it. Still… he decided to call off the search for the day if they found nothing after passing over the latest ridge. With any luck, this unsettling feeling would vanish by tomorrow.
As the vehicle passed over the rise, however, he found himself confronted with a completely unexpected sight.
There was a city here, however impossible it might seem. A city that glowed, and wavered as though viewed through a heat-haze.
Black shivered. It was ridiculous, but he could feel an evil presence watching him and his men. Evil, and hostile, and old as time...
The demons noted the arrival of the humans. They had prepared for this long ago. The identity of the group’s leader was unexpected, but welcome. His parents had died in one of the wars the demons had inspired on Earth, and he had spent most of his life trying to make peace — peace which the demons, who fed on destruction and chaos, could not allow.
Their plans were altered slightly by this discovery. Instead of destroying all of the men within the expedition, they would use this one as a figurehead in their war of nerves; a war in which they were about to strike the first blow...
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN. ONCE, LONG AGO, WE CAME TO YOU WITH AN OFFER OF POWER BEYOND YOUR IMAGINING. YOU REFUSED US, AND HAVE FOUGHT US FOR CENTURIES, DENYING US WHAT WE ASK.
NOW, YOU SHALL PAY. ALL OF EARTH SHALL FEAR OUR WRATH, AND THE LEADER OF OUR FORCES WILL BE ONE OF YOUR OWN. DO YOU HEAR US, EARTHMEN? YOU SHALL BE BETRAYED BY ONE OF YOUR MOST TRUSTED MEN, AND WE SHALL CRUSH YOU UNDERFOOT.
Captain Black grabbed at his head. There was a stabbing, burning pain at his temples...
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. HEAR US, EARTHMEN! FOR TOO LONG HAVE YOU HUMILIATED US. NOW WE SHALL PROVE THAT IT IS USELESS FOR YOU TO RESIST OUR POWER. WE SHALL KILL YOUR WORLD PRESIDENT. DO YOU HEAR US, EARTHMEN? YOUR PRESIDENT SHALL DIE!
Two men in the distinctive uniform of colour-coded officers of Spectrum stared at each other in shock as they drove to the nearest base, wondering about the strange message.
Colonel White’s voice sounded over their cap radios. “I assume that you are both aware of the threat just made against the President?”
“Yes, sir!” they both chorused.
“Captain Brown, you are to go to the President immediately. I am placing you in charge of the operation to safeguard him.”
“S.I.G, sir,” acknowledged the brown-haired man, casting a sideways look at his partner.
“Captain Scarlet, I would ask you to return to Cloudbase.”
“S.I.G, Colonel,” the black-haired man echoed. Their cap radios switched off.
Blue eyes met brown as the Spectrum captains looked at each other. “Well, your first big assignment,” said Captain Scarlet finally. “I wish you luck.”
“Thanks, but do you really think I’ll need it?” asked Captain Brown sceptically.
“Judging by what happened on the expedition to Mars, these Mysterons certainly have the capability of carrying out their threat,” Scarlet reminded him. Brown grimaced.
“I wonder what they meant, though. I’ve never heard of them before now, have you?”
“No. The name doesn’t sound at all familiar,” said Captain Scarlet, shaking his head. “I honestly don’t think I’ve ever come across it before.”
Brown nodded thoughtfully; if Spectrum’s war historian didn’t remember any mention of ‘the Mysterons’ before, they probably hadn’t been mentioned. “I wish that we were fighting something we understood,” he half-muttered, trying to voice the aspects of the situation that bothered him the most. “You know, something in three dimensions.”
Scarlet understood what he was trying to say. “I know what you mean,” he assured Brown, his temporary partner until Colonel White decided who to pair him with after Black’s disappearance. “We only hear them over our radios,” he continued in a quieter voice, “but I feel they are watching us all the time...”
Before Captain Brown could respond, one of the tyres suddenly burst, sending the car into a desperate skid off the edge of the road...
The demons had indeed been watching the two men, and listening to their conversation. It was decided that they would be perfect choices as the first of the Mysterons’ allies...
Captain Brown was flung forwards – to be caught by his seatbelt, saving him from a nasty collision with the windscreen. Beside him, Captain Scarlet was similarly battered as the car plunged from the road and smashed itself on the ground.
For a few moments, they gasped in silence, catching their breath and assuring themselves that they were still alive as they catalogued the injuries they had received.
“Captain Brown, are you injured?” asked Scarlet urgently.
“Uh – my neck feels sprained, and I’ve probably got a doozy of a bruise on my ribs and my stomach, but I think that’s it. You?”
“Probably a cracked rib or two, but nothing worse,” Scarlet assured him, recognizing the stabbing pain from previous experience. “What caused that?”
There was a sudden feeling of evil that made the two agents shudder and look around. Brown was the first to notice it – “Paul, look! What’s that glow?”
Scarlet ignored Brown’s breach of protocol by using his real name, and turned with difficulty, wincing at the pain in his damaged ribs, to see what his field partner was talking about.
Perhaps a foot away from the car, a pair of glowing rings slowly materialised. The sensation of evil seemed concentrated within them.
Captain Scarlet’s eyes widened. “We have to get out of here,” he said, his voice low and urgent.
“How? That crash ruined the doors – look at them! We’ve no way of getting out of this car. And after that smash, she ain’t going nowhere.” Brown sounded quietly frantic. The green rings seemed threatening, dangerous – and their apparent innocence only made them more disturbing.
The rings suddenly began to move, flowing over the ground.
YOU SHALL BE THE FIRST OF OUR SERVANTS. YOU SHALL AID US AGAINST THE EARTHMEN.
There was no need for either of them to ask if the other had heard that statement; the way that their faces had paled, and the anger in their eyes, answered the question without it being asked.
“Never!” the Spectrum Captains declared in unison. “We’ll never agree to work for you!”
The demons laughed viciously. DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE YOU HAVE A CHOICE IN THE MATTER, EARTHMEN? they taunted, as the green rings – a manifestation of their magicks – swept over the car, and zeroed in on Captain Brown.
Captain Scarlet watched helplessly as his friend writhed, screaming in agony. “What are you doing to him?” he demanded. “Torturing him will get you nowhere. He’s stronger than that!”
The green rings suddenly vanished, as though they were being absorbed into Captain Brown’s body. Brown opened his eyes, and smirked coldly. “That’s better. I await Mysteron instructions.”
“What... Brown?” asked Captain Scarlet weakly. The man beside him turned easily, his eyes cold.
“Yes, Paul?” he asked, his teeth bared to reveal that his canines were much longer – long enough to be called fangs...
Before Captain Scarlet could recover from his shock, the green rings reappeared – and focussed on him...
Every fibre of his body shrieked with pain. The light burned and froze him both at once, changing him unnaturally, turning him into a monster...
Then it was gone. He opened his eyes and said calmly, “I await Mysteron instructions.”
YOU WILL BOTH LEAVE THE CAR. WE WILL PROVIDE ANOTHER, the demons told the two men – their first two soldiers, in a war to decide the fate of humanity...
Captain Brown tore the seatbelt off, and ripped away the door, climbing out and stretching his arms and wincing slightly at how bright the sunlight seemed now.
Captain Scarlet watched him contemptuously, then carefully unbuckled his own seatbelt. He slammed a hand against the door where it had bent, and forced it open.
“Why so careful?” asked Brown scornfully as he watched Scarlet shield his eyes. “It’s just an Earthman piece of junk.”
Scarlet rolled his eyes under the shadow cast by his hand. “And if you go around tearing everything to pieces, you’ll draw the Earthmen’s attention,” he pointed out. “Why do you think our masters want us to use a car in the first place?” He smirked maliciously as his eyes adjusted enough for him to move his hand back to his side. “Or are you too weak to run a few miles?”
Brown glared at him. “I can do anything you can,” he snarled.
“Aside from thinking, evidently,” Scarlet responded.
Brown leapt at Scarlet with a wordless howl of rage. Scarlet ducked, his hands raised defensively as he evaluated the weak spots in Brown’s attack –
The force of the order blasted the two combatants apart. Before they could resume their fight, the green rings of light reappeared over the car. But this time, instead of restoring and improving the original, they merely passed over it slowly and then up to the road…
…Where they created an exact copy, in perfect condition. “Better than the original,” breathed Brown, obviously impressed.
“Like us,” Scarlet grinned. And the grin bared his own fangs, long and sharp.
They drove to the nearest Spectrum base, where Scarlet would catch a flight to Cloudbase. Neither of them spoke during the trip; they no longer had anything to say to each other, although just a quarter of an hour ago they had been chatting together easily.
Shortly before they reached the base, Scarlet turned to Brown. “We should be careful not to draw the Earthmen’s attention to the fact that we’ve been changed.”
“You think I need you to tell me that?” asked Brown, his eyes flashing with anger.
“If we aren’t talking when we arrive, they’ll notice that something’s wrong,” Scarlet hissed, his eyes narrowing. Brown rolled his eyes.
“Fine, let’s have a chat about the football results,” he said sarcastically. Scarlet pulled a face at the suggestion – it sounded about as appealing as watching snail racing. His lip curled, as he reflected that the Earthmen ran so slowly, that was probably an accurate comparison.
“Joke?” asked Brown, not really caring.
Scarlet shook his head. “These Earthmen.”
Brown smirked. “Yeah, they’re a joke.”
They looked at each other, and snorted with laughter. But there was none of their former camaraderie there; only a shared disdain for humanity.
The sound of the Spectrum guard walking up to them drew their attention. They both watched his approach, eyes focused on the pulse beating in his neck. Their new teeth ached at being restrained; but there was no telling if there were any witnesses, and the sight of them draining someone’s blood would be too strong a warning that they had changed for the humans to ignore.
Besides, they didn’t need the blood yet – their bodies could manage without it for several hours yet. Still…
“Wonder what his blood’s like?” Scarlet muttered, too low for mortal ears.
“Wonder if he could put up much of a fight?” Brown returned, equally low.
Scarlet looked at him in disgust. “Did your mother never teach you not to play with your food?”
Colonel White watched Captain Scarlet as he finished reporting on the accident which had made Captain Brown late meeting with the President. “...so once Captain Brown was with the President, I returned here, sir.”
“You’re a very lucky man, Captain Scarlet,” said Colonel White.
‘More than you realise,’ thought Scarlet, feeling the supernatural strength that now ran through his body.
Colonel White took in the pale features of the man sat before him, and decided to be lenient. ‘I could almost believe that he’s in shock,’ he reflected. ‘The coldness of his reactions, and the pallor of his skin, both point to it. But what would have caused it?’ He forced himself to ignore the unprofitable speculations. ‘Still, it wouldn’t hurt to allow him a short break before his next shift,’ he decided.
“Captain Scarlet? You are off duty for the next – four hours,” Colonel White announced, dismissing Scarlet with a gesture.
“Thank you, sir!” said Captain Scarlet, his eyebrows raised. He rose, and left the Command Room for his private quarters.
Before he reached them, however, he ran into Captain Blue. “Hey, Scarlet! Where are you going?” Blue asked jovially.
“To – my quarters,” Scarlet managed. He suddenly felt his connection to his masters grow weaker. ‘What is wrong with me?’ he asked himself, looking at his once friend. He noticed the familiar chain around his neck, and fought the urge to hiss. ‘Of course – Adam always wears a crucifix!’
But he also noted the pulse in Adam’s neck. ‘Blood. And I haven’t fed.’ He forced his attention away from Blue’s neck, and back to his friend’s face. ‘I’m no good to the Mysterons if the Earthmen realise what I’ve become,’ he reminded himself, gritting his teeth with the effort not to allow his fangs to lengthen.
Blue noticed Scarlet’s lack of attention. “Is something wrong?” he asked, concerned.
‘Pitiful. Worrying about another – bleah! These Earthmen are far too weak to be a threat. I almost wonder why the Mysterons insist that we fight them...’ He broke off, amused at the realisation that he was trying to find a reason not to kill the human in front of him. ‘It seems that there is more of the original Paul Metcalfe in me than I realised,’ he reflected. Out loud, he said, “No, not really. I’m just feeling somewhat tired, that’s all.”
Adam was not convinced, but as he couldn’t think of any reason why Paul would lie to him, he accepted the comment. “Oh, right. I guess I’ll let you go have a nap, then.”
Scarlet managed a quick smile. “Sounds like a good idea,” he nodded. Blue watched him carefully as he left. ‘You’re hiding something, Paul,’ he thought. ‘I just don’t understand what – or why.’
Scarlet was careful to take the less-used corridors to reach his quarters. ‘The less people I have contact with, the better,’ he thought grimly. When he finally reached his destination, he locked the door and slumped against it, his mouth open and his fangs extended. ‘So many humans. So much blood... NO! I can’t risk feeding from one of them. I have to keep them from getting suspicious.’ His limbs started trembling faintly. ‘I have to find a source of blood soon. I need it,’ he thought, aware of a gnawing pain inside him. It was not like what he remembered of hunger; it felt as though his body was dying slowly. ‘It is,’ he realised. ‘I need blood.’
Captain Brown was having no such difficulties as he saw to the President’s safety whilst they waited at a secure hotel for the arranged convoy to arrive and escort them to the Maximum Security Building. During a quick stroll to check the guards, he found a young woman who was taking a cigarette break in an out-of-the-way corner.
“Can I help you?” he asked politely.
She looked around, startled, then visibly relaxed as she recognised his uniform. Captain Brown could practically hear her thinking, ‘It’s all right, I’m safe, he’s a member of Spectrum.’ He fought down a laugh at how pathetically easy to trick she was.
“Thanks, but I’m just here for my cigarette break,” she said pleasantly. “Do you want one?” She extended the packet.
“No, I’m not really in the mood for a smoke,” Captain Brown answered. He let his eyes linger on her, and added, “I’m actually feeling kind of hungry.”
She smiled uncertainly. “Yeah? ’Fraid you’re out of luck. I don’t have any food on me.”
His lips curled unpleasantly. “I never said that I was hungry for food…”
The smile dropped from her face. She began backing away slowly. “Uh, look, I don’t know what you’re thinking of, but I’m not interested. Okay?”
He bent his head, looking apologetic. “Sorry if I’m upsetting you. I should be going now, anyway.” He turned and left.
The woman relaxed as she watched him walking away. “Idiot,” she muttered to herself. “The guy was a little peculiar, but that’s it. He wasn’t going to do anything to you… that’s just your imagination working overtime again.” She shook her head, turning away. “God, I really need a smoke to calm my nerves.”
Before she managed to light her cigarette, Captain Brown had clamped one hand over her mouth and wrapped the other around her body, pinning her arms to her sides. He heard a muffled crack from the woman’s ribs that indicated he’d been too rough with his food, and smiled mockingly as she gasped in agony.
He forced her head to the side, ignoring her struggles as he bared her neck. His fangs sank deep into her flesh, tearing through veins and arteries.
She died almost soundlessly, her coppery blood flooding his mouth as he drank thirstily.
He dropped the body carelessly on the ground, and threw his head back, flexing his muscles and delighting in the way the new blood made his senses even sharper and his body feel even stronger. ‘Now back to playing nursemaid for the President. I wonder what his blood would taste like,’ Brown thought idly. He left the body where it was. His masters would remove any sign that it had ever been there, after all.
Captain Scarlet left his quarters as soon as he was sure of his self-control, and headed for the Sickbay. There would be supplies of blood there, ready for transfusions, and although that blood would lack the vital essence of living blood, it would have to do for now.
It suddenly occurred to him that if he did attack someone, his masters could probably remove the body and destroy any evidence of what had happened. His fangs extended at the thought of fresh blood... but, he thought, even if the body vanished, there would still be difficulty in explaining what had happened to the person. That was the problem with being on Cloudbase; everyone was known by someone, and everyone had someone watching out for them.
‘Ridiculous, the way these Earthmen worry about each other,’ he thought disdainfully. He was careful not to ask himself why he was searching for excuses not to attack these people. It wasn’t that he cared for them; if they were to die, he would gleefully dance upon their graves. But something stopped him from causing their deaths...
He shook his head, and concentrated on how to reach the sickbay without being seen.
When Scarlet got there, he found that he was in luck: there was only one person around, a nurse who was busy itemising the medical supplies. He smiled – then doubled over with the pain in his gut. As the cramps lessened, a voice in his head mentioned, ~She’s alone.~
‘So what? I already realised that I can’t afford to attack–’
~Rationalised, not realised. She. Is. Alone. There’s no one here to tie you to her death. And you know that her blood will be much better than the supplies that you were planning to steal.~
Scarlet held absolutely still, not even sure why he was so resistant to the thought of attacking a defenceless person. But… he was. She was a member of Spectrum, like him –
~You’re better than a member of Spectrum now, remember?~
The woman shifted position as if she was going to turn around – and Scarlet reacted instinctively.
The nurse frowned as she felt a cool breeze against her arms. “Who’s there?” she asked without turning around. When no one answered, she looked up from her clipboard – to find that she was alone in the room. She shrugged, and returned to counting the bottles of chemicals in storage.
Scarlet grinned as he left Sickbay. It had been child’s play, grabbing some of the transfusion bags and leaving before the nurse spotted him. He ran lightly back to his quarters, and locked the door again. Then he raised one of the bags to his mouth, and sank his teeth into the plastic, sucking avidly.
The blood tasted strange, because of the anti-coagulants. But it was rich; he could feel the strength returning to his limbs as he drained the bag.
He gasped, eyes half-closed, when he had emptied it. He licked the blood from his fangs, and looked at the other bags in his possession; but he didn’t know how long he would have to pretend to be an Earthman, and he didn’t need any more blood at the moment.
He was startled by the effort it took him to resist emptying the bags immediately. His thirst had been slaked for the moment, yet he still wanted more. Instead, he carried the bags to his cupboard, and hid them on the bottom shelf.
Captain Brown rode in the same car as President Younger. “Where exactly are we going, Captain?” Robert Younger asked courteously.
“To the Maximum Security Building. You’ll be safer once we get there, sir. And if you look out of the window, you’ll see that there are guards on the roofs – and of course, we have the Angels flying overhead.”
The President smiled. “Angels is the right word for that team! I’m very reassured by the precautions being taken. All the same, I’ll feel better when this is over. We still know hardly anything about these ‘Mysterons’, after all...”
Captain Brown nodded gravely, concealing his boredom with the conversation. He knew more about the Mysterons than President Younger realised. And his masters were powerful beyond these Earthmen’s comprehension...
They entered the foyer of the Maximum Security Building, and were greeted with the sight of two guards aiming guns at them. ‘As if those could harm me,’ Brown reflected.
“Identification?” asked one of the guards. Captain Brown fished out his Spectrum Identicard, and held it out to the guard. He looked at it, and nodded, satisfied.
The President stepped onto a mechanised walkway, which carried him through a metal detector. Captain Brown followed, but the alarm began to sound. Immediately, a shield dropped down between Brown and the President, and the guards aimed their weapons at him.
Brown was careful to make it seem that he was moving fast for an Earthman as he reached into his left pocket, saying, “It’s all right, don’t panic!” He pulled out his cigar case, and threw it to the ground. It flew open at the impact, revealing the set of ten cigars.
The shield retracted. “You had me worried for a minute there, Captain,” the President remarked.
Captain Brown shrugged, trying to seem apologetic. “It honestly never occurred to me, sir,” he said. ‘And I didn’t expect the warning sirens to be so loud,’ he thought, resisting the urge to rub his ears.
They both walked into the elevator and stood in silence, watching as the numbers flickered above the door. Brown clenched his jaw at the sound of the President’s heartbeat. ‘No. I – must – not... the Mysterons need him to reach the safehouse alive and well, to prove how utterly ineffective the Earthmen’s precautions are. I am not allowed to feed from him!’ He couldn’t help giving a relieved sigh as the doors opened, revealing the safehouse.
“Welcome to our home for the next few weeks, sir,” he said, allowing the President to leave the elevator first.
President Younger looked around with approval. “It seems very nice.” He noticed a table set up ready for a game of chess. “Do you play at all, Captain?”
Captain Brown fought down a smirk which would have revealed his fangs. “I play a very good game, sir,” he assured the President, who blinked at a sudden glint.
“It’s electronic eyes, sir,” said Captain Brown. “They’re watching our every move.”
“Well, I can see that with Spectrum guarding me, I shall have nothing to worry about,” smiled the President.
Captain Brown was silent. Something had changed in his body, and he was trying to pinpoint the disturbing sensation... as if the chemicals within him were being forced out of true somehow, swiftly unbalancing his metabolism to the point where –
‘NO!’ he screamed inside his head, staring at the ceiling. ‘YOU CAN’T DO THIS!’ But the changes had already progressed to the point where he could no longer control his body, leaving him helplessly aware of the fact that his masters were going to destroy him with as little concern as he had felt for the woman he attacked.
‘Is this because I didn’t attack the Spectrum guards?’ Brown asked desperately. There was no response.
“Captain Brown? I said, I’ll have nothing to worry about... Captain?” Worried by the captain’s lack of response, and what looked like smoke rising from the man’s collar, the President quickly pressed a button on the side of his chair.
The President was whisked away to another location – just before Captain Brown exploded, and the Maximum Security Building turned to rubble!
Colonel White looked grim, as he regarded the President and Captains Scarlet and Blue. “Let’s review what happened, and see what we can learn from it,” he said.
“I don’t understand,” President Younger said quietly to Captain Scarlet.
“You’ll see in a moment, sir. Fortunately, the recordings are kept in another building, so they’re safe,” Captain Scarlet told him. Privately, he was as interested in seeing what had happened as everyone else, although for very different reasons. What could have gone wrong with his masters’ plans?
“Play it back,” the Colonel ordered Lieutenant Green. The large screen behind him lit up with an image of the President and Captain Brown stood in the Maximum Security Building foyer. “Roll on,” ordered the Colonel. He waited for a few seconds, then said, “Right, try it now.”
The screen showed Captain Brown throwing his cigars to the floor. ‘Typical. How did he manage to forget those?’ thought Scarlet, fighting the urge to roll his eyes.
“Roll on!” ordered the Colonel. He was frowning slightly. “Stop! Play back.”
The two men were visible inside the safehouse. Suddenly, smoke began rising from Captain Brown’s body. The President pushed a button on his chair. A protective screen appeared around him, and he was rushed to safety as the smoke around the captain thickened. Then Captain Brown exploded, and the screen went dark.
For a moment, the room was silent. Captain Scarlet was particularly shocked. How could his masters have done that to Brown? Sure, he was an annoying bastard, but he hadn’t deserved that!
“The first thing that recording shows us,” the Colonel finally said, speaking to the President, “is that you only just escaped with your life. And the second is that Captain Brown was somehow responsible for the destruction of the Maximum Security building.”
“Are you saying that Captain Brown was somehow a part of these Mysterons’ plans?” asked President Younger in surprise.
“Captain Brown was one of my finest men. That is one of the few things I am sure of,” Colonel White responded. He continued with a sigh, “Since the expedition, there have been a lot of peculiar happenings. Captain Black, again a trusted man and the leader of that expedition, has disappeared. And now this!” He sighed. “Captain Scarlet, you will take the President to a new location.”
“S.I.G,” said Captain Scarlet, scarcely able to believe his luck.
“We must defeat the Mysterons!”
‘Earthman, you have just given the Mysterons the opportunity they need to defeat you!’ thought Captain Scarlet. And however much he pretended otherwise, there was as much anger as joy in the thought.
When Captain Scarlet had left with the President, Lieutenant Green turned to Colonel White with a bemused expression. “Sir, Spectrum agents report discovering a wrecked SPC just off the route that Captains Scarlet and Brown were taking earlier.”
“What!” exclaimed the Colonel, staring at him.
“But Captain Scarlet didn’t say anything to suggest that the car they were in got destroyed,” Lieutenant Green continued. “And I’ve just checked, and he and Captain Brown arrived at the rendezvous in a SPC.”
“Something must have happened at that accident. Something we don’t understand,” the Colonel mused.
“Do you think it has something to do with Captain Brown’s death?” asked Lieutenant Green.
“Possibly. I don’t understand why Captain Scarlet didn’t report it...” Colonel White’s eyes widened with his sudden realisation. “Captain Scarlet! If whatever happened there is responsible for Captain Brown’s treachery, the same thing might have happened to Captain Scarlet!”
“Captain Scarlet, come in please,” Lieutenant Green’s voice sounded over the plane’s radio. “You are to return to Cloudbase immediately.”
Scarlet rolled his eyes. ‘They’ve figured something out,’ he decided. ‘Fine. I was getting bored of this masquerade anyway.’
“Captain, aren’t you going to do as they say?” asked President Younger nervously. Scarlet turned to him and grinned, revealing his long, sharp fangs.
“Shut up,” he said, still grinning. “I don’t take orders from you anymore.”
The Angels were flying after the plane. “He is not responding,” Destiny Angel reported, her accent thickening slightly.
Colonel White scowled. “Lieutenant Green, put me in contact with all of the aircraft.” He waited until Green signalled that he had done so, then said, “Angels, I order you to shoot that plane down!” He signalled for Green to cut transmission, and listened to the acknowledgements of his order. “Now get me just the Angels.
“Angels, belay that last order. You are set up for a dummy run on the plane – and make sure you miss!”
“S.I.G, sir!” came the response.
“What’s wrong with you, man?” demanded President Younger. Scarlet laughed.
“Wrong with me? I’ve never felt this good in my life!”
“And you think you’ll feel good when they shoot us?” asked Younger incredulously.
“They won’t.” Harmony’s Interceptor flew past, shooting towards them. President Younger flinched, but Scarlet just shook his head pityingly. “Not even trying. I suppose the Colonel gave them orders not to risk harming you.”
The President set his jaw. “We’ll see about that!” He grabbed the radio. “Angels, I order you to –” Scarlet reached over and crushed the radio between his fingers.
“Be quiet,” he suggested to the President, who stared at him in shock. “Or I’ll crush you, next time.” He turned his attention back to flying the plane.
~Why just crush the radio?~ part of him asked.
~Come on. Breaking his jaw would have meant that he couldn’t say anything to you. You know your masters wouldn’t disapprove. So why just damage the radio?~
~You’re behaving like a human again...~
Scarlet growled, his hands tightening on the controls – but only slightly. Damaging the getaway vehicle was not part of the plan. ‘If he speaks to me again, I really will crush his jaw.’
~You’re lying to yourself.~
“Sir, the President tried to say something, but the transmission cut off,” said Destiny urgently.
Colonel White frowned. “As soon as they are over solid ground, Angels, force Captain Scarlet to land.”
“What is going on up there?” Colonel White muttered.
Scarlet smirked as he saw England. “Hold on,” he mocked, before sending the plane into a steep dive. Younger clutched at the handholds desperately, wondering what this madman was trying to achieve.
The plane began to shudder as the pressure of its descent increased. Scarlet’s smirk became wider, his eyes almost glowing with suppressed laughter.
“Stop! You’re going to kill us both!” Younger shouted, profoundly aware of the complaints from a machine pushed beyond its limits.
Scarlet gave a wild laugh, and forced the nose of the plane up. The stresses of the situation made it seem inevitable that the plane would disintegrate...
The Angels watched in horror as Scarlet appeared to attempt suicide, sending the plane plummeting to the earth. They were astounded when he managed to guide it to a safe landing without destroying it.
“Captain Scarlet and the President have both left the plane,” Harmony reported, her voice dazed. “Scarlet – I think he’s gone insane!”
Scarlet opened one of the doors, and jumped out. He reached back in, and pulled President Younger behind him. “We’re going for a ride,” he said, baring his fangs again. He dragged Younger along by the arm to a nearby car, then opened the passenger door and gestured courteously for Younger to climb in.
“Forget it!” Younger told him. Scarlet’s eyes narrowed, and he snarled.
The light gleamed on his fangs. Younger swallowed, and climbed into the car meekly.
“Good move,” applauded Scarlet. He closed the door, and was in the driver’s seat before Younger could open it again, reaching to hotwire the ignition. The tyres squealed as Scarlet gunned the engine. The Angels tailed after it, in a bizarre parody of their earlier display over the procession taking the President to the Maximum Security Building.
“M27, here we come!”
Captain Black watched the roads. His skin was parchment, with black rings around his eyes and stubble covering his chin. He looked as though he had been without food or sleep for too long.
SCARLET WILL BRING THE PRESIDENT ALONG THE M27. WHEN HE DOES, YOU WILL TELL HIM THAT WE WANT THE WORLD PRESIDENT TO BE TAKEN ALIVE. ONCE HE IS THERE, WE WILL MAKE HIM OUR FINAL OFFER – AND IF HE REFUSES, WE SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD!
“I hear and obey,” Black responded. His eyes glittered in the light, as he resumed his watch. The demons were well-pleased with the effectiveness of their decision that the most fitting punishment for a man renowned for his love of peace, was that he should become the figurehead of their army during the war.
Scarlet sped towards London, ignoring his unwilling passenger. The Angels’ shadows fell over the car as they flew overhead, and then circled around.
As he approached the junction, one of them peeled off from the formation. The bridge leading towards England’s capital exploded.
“So much for London,” he sighed, turning towards the Car-Vu.
A few miles away, another car parked hastily at a small waystation and a blond man climbed out. “Captain Blue, here for Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle,” he said to the serviceman watching him with interest.
“I.D?” asked the mechanic, wiping oil from his hands with a rag. Captain Blue reached into his pocket, and flipped out his Identicard. The mechanic looked at it, nodded, and pressed a hidden button. The nearby trailer collapsed, revealing the hidden vehicle. “See you have an expert rating on these things. Must be hard, driving backwards,” he remarked chattily.
“You get used to it,” Blue answered, smiling easily. He dropped his casual air as soon as he was in the vehicle, feeling a cold knot in his stomach at the thought of what lay ahead of him. He settled into the driver seat, and headed off down the M27.
“Captain Blue, we have Scarlet’s car in sight. It is a plain blue Saloon, heading towards the London Car-Vu,” Destiny reported.
“S.I.G. I should be in sight of him in – five minutes. Keep me informed.”
Captain Black watched as Scarlet’s car smashed through the barrier in front of the Car-Vu. “Captain Scarlet, you will take the president to the top of the London Car-Vu. We have control of Helicopter A42. Remember, we need the president ALIVE.”
“Mysteron instructions will be obeyed,” Scarlet acknowledged. Black raised an eyebrow. Was there a hint of reluctance in that comment?
The demons had indeed gained control of the helicopter, and were guiding it towards the Car-Vu. They were not happy about having to alter their plans. Scarlet would need to prove to them that he could handle this mission, or they would rid themselves of him...
Scarlet narrowed his eyes as the car swung around the Car-Vu ramps.
~You aren’t having second thoughts, are you?~
‘Don’t be ridiculous. These Earthmen are pathetic.’
~You were an Earthman.~
‘And I was as pathetic as they are! I’m grateful to my masters for changing me into this; for making me so much more than I was. I couldn’t bear to be merely human again.’
~Good. Remember that.~
Blue drove after the saloon. His training as a Spectrum officer had taken over, pushing his questions as to why Scarlet would do this to the back of his mind. All of his conscious attention was now focused on how to save the President.
The saloon reached the highest level of the Car-Vu. “Out,” Scarlet said, exiting the car. The President obeyed him, looking around for signs of Spectrum.
The SPV screeched onto the tarmac behind them. Blue called, “Captain Scarlet, let the President go! You have no other options!”
Scarlet rolled his eyes, and dragged the President towards the edge of the platform.
‘That’s what he thinks. My masters aren’t so easily defeated.’
Captain Blue frowned when Scarlet didn’t respond. “Helicopter A42 in position,” came a voice over his cap radio.
“Good! Run an attack on Scarlet; you’re in a better position than I am. And be careful, he’s right next to the President,” Blue ordered.
The helicopter lowered itself to attack, and shot – straight at Captain Blue!
“Angels! Helicopter A42 is attacking, and must now be considered hostile!” he called over his radio, diving for cover. One of the Angels turned to defend Blue, spitting bullets at the enemy aircraft.
The helicopter began defensive manoeuvres, but it was no match for the sleek Angel Interceptor. The bullets tore through its rotor blades, and it plummeted to Earth, crushing the supports of the Car-Vu.
Captain Scarlet grabbed hold of a support strut as the structure shuddered, and watched angrily as Captain Blue pulled on a hoverpack taken from the SPV and flew towards him.
“Captain Scarlet, surrender! You have no other choices!”
“There’s always a choice,” Scarlet hissed, his fangs fully extended. He snatched at his gun, and aimed for Blue’s heart.
The bullet missed, but it was close enough that Blue flinched. “All right, Captain Scarlet,” he muttered grimly. “If that’s the way you want it, it’s either going to be you – or me.” He began to return fire.
The Car-Vu swayed suddenly. The President grabbed hastily at a support, trying not to fall off. Scarlet spun around to check on him – and Captain Blue saw his chance.
The bullet lodged itself in Scarlet’s chest. Scarlet cried out, his face twisted. He stepped backwards – off the platform...
Captain Blue hurried to secure the President before his grip on the support weakened. The Car-Vu swayed again, tilting dangerously far. Blue caught hold of the President, and lifted them both – just before the Car-Vu collapsed in an avalanche of concrete and metal.
They floated down to earth in silence. As they landed, Blue noticed with absent surprise that someone was trying to contact him.
“Captain Blue! Report!” Colonel White was going frantic trying to reach his officer.
“Captain Scarlet took the President to the top of the London Car-Vu. I ordered Helicopter A42 to shoot him. Helicopter A42 proved hostile, and attacked me. One of the Angels shot it down. It hit the Car-Vu supports. Captain Scarlet refused to surrender. I shot him. He fell off the Car-Vu, and I rescued the President by hoverpack.” Blue was aware that his report was disjointed, but he couldn’t forget the scream Captain Scarlet had voiced as he fell. It had been inhuman...
There was a pause. “I see. Good work,” said Colonel White. “I’ll send some ground agents to recover Scarlet’s body.”
“S.I.G,” Blue remembered to say. He closed his eyes for a moment, then looked at the President. “Are you all right, sir?” he asked.
President Younger looked at him. “What was Captain Scarlet?”
Blue’s brow furrowed as he tried to understand the question. “Well, if you’d asked me that yesterday, I’d have said that he was the best officer in Spectrum,” he began.
Younger shook his head. “Captain, the man who kidnapped me – the man whom you shot – he wasn’t human.”
Blue stared at him blankly. “What?”
“He moved faster than I could see, he crushed the radio in the plane with his bare fingers... That was not a human being, Captain!”
Blue was silent for a moment. “Then it wasn’t the Captain Scarlet I knew,” he said finally. “Because he was human.”
Captain Scarlet’s body was sent to Cloudbase as soon as it was found. Almost four hours had passed since the Car-Vu was destroyed...
Doctor Fawn studied the body carefully immediately it arrived in Sickbay. “Strange,” he muttered. “He almost seems to be healing...”
Captain Scarlet drew in a deep breath.
Doctor Fawn fell back in astonishment. He called for security, not taking his eyes from the corpse that, somehow, was alive. Under his orders the body was moved, and restraints were applied.
Captain Blue ran to the Sickbay as soon as he heard that Scarlet had revived. He found himself staring into a quarantine room where Captain Scarlet was restrained, taunting everyone.
“Do you honestly believe that my masters will give up so easily?” he asked contemptuously. “Your time is done, Earthmen. You will not survive the wrath of the Mysterons.”
Blue stared at him, taking in the pale skin and the long fangs. “What did they do to him?” he breathed.
Scarlet turned and met Blue’s eyes. “Improved me,” he answered, with a fiendish grin.
Blue shuddered. “No.”
“Oh, but they did. Here, I’ll prove it –” he tore free of the restraints as though they were tissue paper, and flung himself through the observation window. Before anyone could react, he caught Blue’s jacket, his rush propelling them both to the other side of the room.
“The only problem with what I have become is, I need fresh blood every so often,” he smirked, one hand tearing away the chain which held Blue’s crucifix and throwing it across the room, while the other one lifted Blue off the floor by his jacket and held him against the wall. Scarlet opened his mouth, his fangs growing even longer – and froze.
Slowly, his eyes moved up from Blue’s pulse. Blue stared back, wondering what would happen to him.
Sky-blue eyes stared into their equal for a moment. Scarlet’s gaze began switching between Blue’s pulse and Blue’s eyes, while Blue watched a struggle between the Scarlet he knew and a terrible hunger.
~What are you waiting for? Drink!~
‘I – I can’t.’
~You need blood.~
‘Yes, but I can’t do this.’
~You will. You can’t resist it forever. This is what you are now.~
‘No! No, I won’t do this. Not now. Not ever.’
~Your masters will not be pleased with you.~
‘I’m not pleased with them. And I’m not going to hurt someone just because I’m thirsty.’
Scarlet’s fists tightened slowly, until the seams of Blue’s jacket started to creak. No one dared move, for fear of disturbing the fragile balance and causing Scarlet to attack Blue.
~You can hear his heart beating. Just one bite, and you’ll feel much better...~
‘NO! I won’t do this!’
~This is what you are.~
‘This is what they tried to make me. I’m not going to let them.’
~Do you really think you can resist what you are?~
‘Yes. I have to. I will not let them win.’
~You’ll die without fresh blood! Don’t you realise that?~
‘Better than injuring someone else so that I can live.’
Something seemed to break; and the only thing in the blue eyes staring at Captain Blue was the shock and remorse of his best friend. “Adam...?” he breathed quietly. He set him down gently, his expression horrified. “Adam – I almost –” he turned and fled, moving too fast for the men in the room to see.
Blue stared after him for a moment. “Paul?” he whispered, then set off after him.
“Sir, where are you going?” asked one of the security guards who had been there in case what had just happened, happened.
“After him,” said Blue impatiently.
“That’s not a good idea,” came the immediate response. “He’s not human, he’s been changed – and he just attacked you...”
“He didn’t hurt me,” Blue corrected him. “See?” he raised his chin, and tilted his head so that everyone could see the lack of bitemarks. “He’s my best friend. I’m going after him.” He set off again, and this time no one got in his way.
‘Only problem now is, where is he?’ reflected Blue. ‘He’s not likely to go somewhere with other people, so that leaves out the observation deck. And he’s definitely not going to be in the gym. Let’s see... He’ll probably want to be alone – of course!’ Blue mentally knocked his palm against his head. ‘He’ll be in his quarters!’
He headed off, wondering what he was going to say if he did find Scarlet.
Paul Metcalfe slammed the door to his room shut, and tore the door of the cupboard off in his hurry to get at the bags of blood still hidden in there. He bit one and drained it in seconds, letting it fall and reaching for the next one.
‘I almost bit him! I could have killed him!’ he thought, agonising over how close he had come to seriously injuring his best friend.
Someone knocked on the door. He jerked his head up, panicking. The scent was familiar – “Adam?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s me, Paul,” came the response. “Are you... How are you?”
“Don’t you mean what?” Paul asked with a bitter laugh.
There was a pause. “May I come in?”
“No!” Paul said quickly. Adam opened the door and looked around it.
“Are you –” he started, but fell silent as he saw that Paul was crouched on the floor holding a transfusion bag, his fangs dripping red.
Paul looked down, ashamed.
“Paul?” He heard Adam open the door further, and step into the room. He leaned back unconsciously. “Are you going to be all right?”
He closed his eyes against the sudden sting of tears. “I don’t know,” he breathed, admitting his uncertainty. “I don’t feel like I know anything, anymore.”
“What happened to you?” Adam asked, settling himself to one side of the distraught man.
Paul swallowed, and began to quietly describe his last clear memories. “I was going to the rendezvous with Captain Brown. I wished him luck on his first big assignment, and we talked about the Mysterons.” He frowned. “The tyre blew out – I don’t know how. I – couldn’t control the car. We were thrown about a lot; the car ended up smashed on the ground. We were both bruised and battered, but nothing irreparable...” His eyes glazed over with the memories. “There was a sudden impression of – evil. I know it sounds melodramatic, but – we were both scared stiff. We’d have run, if we could, but the doors were damaged. We couldn’t get out.” He wrapped his arms around himself. “There was a –” he stopped, and looked sideways at Adam. “It sounds ridiculous, but there was a pair of glowing rings on the ground. And then... the Mysterons spoke.” He shuddered at the memory. Adam stayed silent, unsure what he could say that would help Paul. “They said that we were going to be their first servants. We said never, of course.” His voice became even quieter. “They asked why we thought that we had a choice in the matter. The rings moved, until they were over Brown...” He started breathing faster, the memory obviously scaring him. “He was – screaming. I thought they were torturing him... and then it stopped, and he sat up and said, ‘I await Mysteron instructions’ as though it was normal.” Paul buried his face in his arms. “And then they turned the rings on me.”
Adam waited for Paul to continue. He was horrified by what he had heard, but he knew that his friend needed to get this out of his system before he could heal. And he needed someone to – not understand, but at least know what he had been through.
After a few minutes, he prompted Paul gently. “What did the rings do?”
“This.” Paul gestured towards his body. “I’ve been – changed. I heal faster, I’m a lot stronger and faster, I can hear and see and taste and smell and feel more acutely than before.
“I’m a monster.”
Blue blinked at the last comment. “Why a monster?” he asked cautiously.
“Look at me, Adam!” Paul turned to face him, baring his fangs. “I need blood. I attacked you – I almost...” he broke off, chest heaving. “I’m not human any more! I don’t know what I am!”
Adam stared at him for a moment. “You’re an officer of Spectrum,” he told Paul firmly. “You’re the youngest colonel ever in the WAAF. You’re my best friend.”
Paul stared at him. “After what I did?” he asked. Adam held his eyes, and nodded.
“Shouldn’t I be asking that? I’m the one who shot you, you know,” he reminded Paul.
Paul frowned thoughtfully. “When?”
Adam stared at him blankly. “On the Car-Vu. When you were trying to kidnap the President.”
Paul sat up, looking at him intently. “Trying to... Adam, when was this?”
“Uh... maybe six hours ago. Why are you asking?”
Paul stared at him blankly, then sat forwards, frowning in concentration. He raised his head, his eyes wide. “Adam... I don’t remember.”
“I... The last thing I remember clearly before I attacked you is those rings. After that, it’s – hazy. I remember odd things – leaving Captain Brown, your crucifix, putting these bags in my cupboard, watching something in the Control room, flying a plane, driving a car somewhere... and nothing else. Just flashes, moments when I broke through whatever they did to make me obey them.” His eyes widened further. “Adam, what did I do?”
“Do you remember what happened to Captain Brown?” Adam asked.
Paul frowned. “Something... I was angry that the Mysterons did that to him... What happened?”
Adam took a deep breath, and explained what had happened, beginning with Paul’s report on the minor accident which made them late. Paul listened intently, fitting his memories to the situations Adam described. When Adam had finished, he was still for a moment.
“So. What happens now?”
Adam blinked. “What do you mean?”
Paul met his eyes. “I’ve kidnapped the World President, laughed at everyone, attacked you... I don’t think a firing squad would do me any permanent damage, and I’m not sure what would. So a death sentence is probably out of the question. What will be done with me?”
Adam was silent. It had never occurred to him to worry about that. He’d been too busy wondering what had happened to Paul, and hoping that he was still himself. But now that the question had been raised, he found that he didn’t have an answer. What would Spectrum do to Paul, after what he’d done?
“I’ll stand with you, whatever they decide,” he said firmly. Paul searched his eyes, and found that he was completely sincere.
“You’ll probably damage your career beyond repair,” he warned Adam.
Adam laughed. “I’ll survive,” he promised, then changed the subject. “How are you feeling?”
Paul considered for a moment, and shrugged. “I’ve had enough blood for now. Physically, I feel wonderful.”
“And mentally?...” Adam prompted.
Paul rubbed a hand over his face. “It’s going to take some time for me to adjust to – all this,” he sighed. “It helps, knowing that you’re here.”
“That’s what friends are for, buddy,” Adam grinned, finally daring to clasp Paul’s arm. Paul rested his hand over Adam’s, his eyes filled with gratitude.
Colonel White stared at Doctor Fawn as he reported what he had found out about Captain Scarlet. “He is the same man, Colonel. But somehow, his body has been altered. The metabolic processes have been sped up to the point where he can heal from any wound, even a fatal one, in a matter of hours. His strength and speed have increased drastically. You could almost say that he is no longer human.
“But there is a price for these changes. For an unknown reason, the haemoglobin in his blood is no longer capable of carrying oxygen. He requires regular supplies of normal blood in order to survive.”
“Where would he get the blood from?” asked the Colonel, his eyes narrowing.
“Some of the blood supplies for transfusions have vanished from Sickbay,” Dr. Fawn informed him. “I would assume that he took them.”
Colonel White considered, leaning back. “So far, you’ve only described his physical changes. What has happened to him psychologically?” he asked.
Dr. Fawn sighed. “He is the same man. But there seems to be something else... almost as though the Mysterons managed to implant a new set of instincts. He’s fighting them; but I’m not sure whether he’ll succeed...”
There was a grim silence for a moment. It was broken by an urgent call, “Doctor Fawn? Scarlet just attacked Captain Blue, then ran off. Captain Blue has gone after him.”
Colonel White and Dr. Fawn stared at each other. “This seems to answer the question of which side of his nature won,” Colonel White said grimly.
“Ye-es... but why would Captain Blue go after him?” wondered Dr. Fawn.
“Important! Captain Scarlet has escaped from confinement. He is highly dangerous. Any personnel spotting him are to report his whereabouts to Security immediately! Security, use any and all force necessary to restrain him!”
“Well, now we know how the Colonel is going to respond to me,” said Paul helplessly, seeing that Adam was as shocked by the announcement as he was. He shook his head, trying to dislodge the self-pity and think. “They’ll probably come here any time now. I should go – I should leave Cloudbase.”
Adam nodded reluctantly. “Where will you go?”
Paul sighed. “I’ll have to worry about that later. For now, I need to get off Cloudbase safely, without letting them find out where I’ve gone.”
Adam nodded again. “Come on,” he said, holding out a hand. “We’d better hurry to the hangar before they think to cordon it off.”
Paul blinked at him, and smiled gratefully – then stopped, realising that the smile revealed his fangs. He climbed to his feet, and the two friends left his quarters, heading for the hangar bay to borrow a plane.
Captains Ochre, Magenta and Grey were all in the Officer’s Lounge when the announcement was made. They looked at each other in surprise. “But – Scarlet’s supposed to be dead!” protested Magenta. “Blue shot him!”
“Yeah,” Ochre agreed. “So what’s going on?”
Grey shrugged, as perplexed as they were. “I don’t know. But if Scarlet’s in trouble, he’ll probably want to leave Cloudbase,” he pointed out.
“Right. We’re going to the hangar bay,” said Ochre decisively.
“Who made you leader?” asked Magenta, but he was already getting to his feet. Grey didn’t say anything, just followed after his companions as they headed for the hangar bay – the only exit from Cloudbase.
Paul and Adam stood at a corner, watching the guards cautiously. “I think they’ve figured out where we’re heading,” Adam remarked quietly.
Paul nodded, his face grim. “If they just look the other way, I’m sure that I can get past them before they see me,” he said, his voice as low as Adam’s. Adam grinned.
“Why didn’t you say so?” He straightened up, and walked towards the guards. “Have any of you seen Scarlet?” he asked.
“No, sir,” they responded, all looking at him. Paul flitted past them, and stopped as he reached another empty corridor.
Blue noticed a flicker out of the corner of his eye. Remembering the speed with which Paul had attacked him earlier, he felt sure that his friend had made it to relative safety. “I’ve been checking these corridors,” he said, careful not to mention what he was checking for. “I’m sure he isn’t in them.” Which was perfectly true. “Which passages have you checked?”
The guards pointed down the corridor that led to the hangar bay. ‘Perfect,’ thought Adam, careful to hide his relief at their answer. “So we know he isn’t there,” he said, lying through his teeth. The guards shrugged, and nodded. “Has he been seen, do you know?”
“We haven’t heard anything, sir,” came the response. Adam tried to look concerned, but inside he was laughing with glee.
“Has anyone checked his quarters?” he suggested, secure in the knowledge that Paul was safely away from that area of Cloudbase.
The guards blinked. “That never occurred... I’ll suggest it right away, sir!”
“Good.” Adam walked past them, and turned the corner. Paul raised an eyebrow at him as they walked down the passage.
“You just lied to Security,” he said in a mock-serious tone.
Adam looked startled, then realised that Paul was teasing him. “Only one lie. And we know that no one knows where you are, and Security are off on a wild goose chase to your quarters. Not bad for a five minute chat, hmm?”
Paul grinned, then stopped, realising that his fangs were showing again. “Not bad,” he agreed. The two friends hurried towards the hangar bay.
Ochre, Magenta and Grey were also hurrying towards the bay. “You realise that we’ll probably be too late,” Magenta said conversationally.
“Not necessarily,” Ochre corrected him. “Remember, Scarlet has to be careful to avoid being seen. We don’t have that problem.”
“He could just attack anyone who sees him.”
“That would draw too much attention,” Grey pointed out.
“And don’t you think that a trail of unconscious bodies would be a little conspicuous?” added Ochre sarcastically. Magenta began to answer, but fell silent as they reached a group of security guards.
“Where are you going?” Grey asked them.
“To see if Scarlet is in his quarters.”
“Why?” asked Ochre incredulously.
“Captain Blue suggested it.”
The three colour-coded officers exchanged glances. It was certain that Captain Blue would realise that Scarlet would have left his quarters by now, if he ever went there... which suggested that he had a reason for aiming the guards in that direction. Specifically, to stop them looking somewhere else...
“This just keeps getting stranger,” Grey muttered as they stood aside and let the guards pass.
“Tell me about it. I mean, is it just me or did it sound like Blue is helping Scarlet escape?”
“This situation is getting weirder,” Ochre complained. “First Scarlet kidnaps the President, and Blue shoots him – then the next thing we know, there’s a message on the intercom that Scarlet’s loose and dangerous, and now Blue seems to be helping him to escape!”
They reached the hangar, and looked around. “All of the aircraft are still here. See, Magenta? I told you we wouldn’t be too late!” Ochre scoffed at his partner.
Before Magenta could respond, the doors opened, and Scarlet and Blue ran in – and stopped, staring at the other captains uncertainly.
Scarlet ran his tongue over his fangs nervously. The gesture made the other captains stare, and he realised that they didn’t know what had happened to him.
“What happened to your teeth?” Magenta got out, eyes wide.
Scarlet forced his fangs to retract, and tried to ignore the questioning gazes of his friends and choose a plane. Blue was making his way to one of the small, fast jets that were available for Spectrum officers.
Ochre noticed what he was doing. “Blue, why are you helping Scarlet?” he asked, careful not to look away from the black-haired man.
“Because he needs my help,” came the simple response. Grey moved to block him off as he drew closer to a plane, eyes flicking between him and Scarlet.
“He attacked someone!” protested Magenta.
Everyone spun to look at Blue in surprise, as he stood meeting Grey’s questioning glare.
“Why are you helping Scarlet if he attacked you?” insisted Magenta.
“Because he needs my help!” Blue took in a breath. “He didn’t harm me. I’m fine. And Security are hunting him, and we don’t know what they’re planning to do if they catch him. So I’m making sure that they don’t.”
“We can’t let you do that,” said Ochre, his jaw firming. He turned back to Scarlet. “Captain Scarlet, I am placing you under arrest...”
Scarlet rushed him, landing a solid punch to his jaw. Ochre went down like a sack of potatoes, as Magenta and Grey yelled and drew their guns.
Blue clubbed Grey as soon as he turned to draw on Scarlet, leaving Magenta alone and facing two opponents. He looked from one to the other quickly, evidently afraid of letting his attention leave either of them long enough for them to do something. But he didn’t plan for Scarlet’s enhanced speed.
Faster than Magenta could see, Scarlet snatched his pistol out of his hand and knocked him out.
“Are they still alive?” asked Adam, seeing how still the three men were lying with a qualm.
“Yes. I can hear their hearts beating,” said Paul simply. Blue gave him a cockeyed look, but decided not to comment.
“All right, then, let’s get going,” he remarked instead, looking towards the small jet.
“We’d better get them to safety first,” Paul pointed out with a worried frown. “Or the depressurisation...” he didn’t need to finish.
“You’re right.” Adam looked around, slightly uncertain. “Where do you think... Oh, of course!” He smacked his head with an open palm as Paul slung Ochre and Magenta onto his shoulders, and started carrying them to a Spectrum Passenger Jet. Adam followed him, hauling Grey along.
“They should be all right there,” Paul said with a sigh of relief as he shut the door on the unconscious men. “Let’s go, before some guard has the bright idea of coming to see if I’m here yet!”
Adam nodded, and the two friends climbed in to the jet and settled into the cockpit. Paul took the co-pilot’s seat, giving Adam a quick smile. “Since we both know which of us is the better pilot!” he laughed.
“Like that was ever in question!” Adam grinned in return. He noticed the forced quality to his friend’s teasing, but there was nothing more he could do to help.
Fortunately, no one had thought to close down the lift and prevent the aircraft from reaching the runway. The take-off was perfect, of course; Adam had been a test pilot before joining Spectrum, and it showed in the way he handled the aircraft. The two men both looked at Cloudbase as they left; they had enjoyed being Spectrum agents...
“Spectrum Control to Jet 64; what are you doing, Jet 64?” Lieutenant Green’s voice suddenly sounded over the radio.
“Leaving,” Paul answered, with only the faintest hint of a tremor in his voice.
“Captain Scarlet, bring that plane back right now!” Colonel White ordered.
The two captains looked at each other in surprise. “Well, I would, sir,” said Paul, his blue eyes suddenly lighting with amusement, “But Adam’s the one who’s flying it.”
“Get me in trouble, why don’t you,” grumbled Adam.
“Well, it’s perfectly true,” Paul retorted.
“Then, perhaps you would be so kind as to return to Cloudbase, Captain Blue,” Colonel White stressed. The radio cut off.
“I think he’s annoyed with us,” said Paul.
“So why are you smiling?” asked Adam blankly.
“Didn’t you notice?” Paul gave a half-laugh. “He called me Captain Scarlet, Adam. I’m still a member of Spectrum!”
Adam paused to consider what he’d said, then began smiling too. “Shall we go home?” he asked, already guiding the plane back to land on the runway.
“Let’s,” Paul smiled, looking more relaxed than Adam had seen him since the ‘accident’. “Let’s go home, Adam.”
They were surprised when after leaving the jet they were greeted by a squad of medicos, instead of the expected security guards. Adam and Paul were both given a hasty check over, and then Paul was hurried off to Sickbay ‘for some tests’. Ochre, Magenta and Grey were all being looked after as well, meaning that Blue was the only one fit enough to report to the Colonel.
“Would you care to explain your recent behaviour?” Colonel White began, his eyebrows lowered.
“Well, you see, after hearing the announcement that Captain Scarlet was to be arrested, we thought that you’d decided against giving him a chance,” Adam began. ‘Why did Paul have to get himself carted off to Sickbay and leave me to face the Colonel alone?’ he thought desperately. “So, we thought it would be best if he left Cloudbase, and the only way for him to do that was by plane, and –”
Colonel White held up a hand. “Enough!” Adam gulped, looking even more uncomfortable. “While I can understand your mistake about my decision, it does not excuse attempting to steal a Spectrum craft.”
“We’d have –” Blue began, then bit his tongue. White raised an eyebrow at him.
“Have returned it later? How, if I may ask?”
Adam blushed, looking down. It had never really occurred to him – he’d been too busy worrying about all the other problems they were facing to ask himself what they would do with the jet once they were off Cloudbase.
Colonel White watched his officer blush with faint amusement, tempered with respect for his loyalty to his friend. Mostly, however, he was irritated that two of his best men had misunderstood the situation so thoroughly, and he intended to make sure that they both knew it. And since Captain Scarlet was in Sickbay, that just left Captain Blue for him to torment...
“Very well. I assume that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation again, you will please wait to find out what is going on before you decide to flee the scene?” he asked with heavy sarcasm. Blue winced and cringed slightly.
“Yes, sir,” he mumbled, head hanging and ears as scarlet as his friend’s tunic.
“Good. Oh, and when you see Scarlet, tell him that I want a word with him.” The Colonel dismissed him, turning his attention back to the hundreds of minor details involved in running an operational base whose staff seemed largely convinced that it was some form of rest-centre – which he frequently reminded them it was not.
Captain Blue gave a sigh of relief as he left the Control Room.
“Sir, what are you going to do about Captain Scarlet?” asked Lieutenant Green as soon as he was sure the blond officer was out of hearing.
Colonel White gave him a discouraging frown, to remind him not to question his superiors. When the young man seemed suitably crushed by it, he told him, “I’m going to keep him as a Spectrum Captain, of course. Why would there be any question of it?”
“I thought that – after that incident with the President –” Green began, looking confused.
“I am convinced that whatever influence the Mysterons might have held over Captain Scarlet, it has been broken – and the captain is not the sort of man to allow his enemies another chance to control him!” Colonel White smiled, somewhat coldly. “No, lieutenant, who- and whatever these Mysterons are, they seem to have been far too confident of their control over him. That it has been broken, I have no doubt. And in the coming war, Captain Scarlet may well prove to be our greatest asset...”
In Sickbay, the man who would be considered Spectrum’s ‘greatest asset’ sat on a bed talking with Dr. Fawn about what had happened to him.
“You should come in here for a transfusion every other day, but apart from that, I can’t see any problems with your new state,” Dr. Fawn told him.
“Thank you, doctor,” said Paul gratefully. He stood up, and then looked thoughtful. “Do you think it might be possible for me to have a blood-pack with me on assignments, though? Just in case...” he trailed off, unable to say out loud what he was thinking.
“Of course. I’ll make sure of it,” Dr. Fawn assured him, aware of what had crossed Scarlet’s mind. If he should need blood in a situation where a transfusion was impossible... “I’ll make sure of it,” he repeated.
Scarlet nodded, but stayed looking at the doctor.
“Is there something else?”
“Magenta and Ochre. They are all right...?”
“Oh! Of course they are!” Dr. Fawn smiled widely. “Although, if Patrick doesn’t stop flirting with my nurse, I do believe that Chan might change that...” The two men laughed together.
“Goodbye, doctor,” Scarlet called over his shoulder as he left the Sickbay, and almost walked into Blue.
“Colonel White wants to see you.”
Scarlet searched his face apprehensively. There were definite signs of coming from one of the Colonel’s notorious tongue-lashings. “Dare I ask about what?”
“Go and find out,” Blue responded, with a slight smile. Scarlet looked unconvinced, but headed off to the Control Room.
Later, the Colonel looked around at the staff he had called to a general meeting to discuss the results of their first brush with the Mysterons. Captains Scarlet and Blue were still subdued from his earlier reprimands over their behaviour; Captains Grey, Magenta and Ochre were all giving Scarlet and Blue sideways glances, ranging from questioning to dubious; Destiny Angel was watching the men in surprise; and Dr. Fawn had one eyebrow raised and a wry expression on his face as he met the Colonel’s eyes.
“Well. As I am sure you are now all aware, Captain Scarlet was attacked and changed by the Mysterons. However, he has regained his – ah – self-control, and is as willing to fight the Mysterons as any of us. There have been several changes to his body, but none to his personality or memories. In truth, the only important difference between Captain Scarlet as he is now and as he was before the Mysterons attacked, is that he now possesses the ability to retro-metabolise. Captain Scarlet is now virtually indestructible!”
In the silence that followed, Captain Scarlet blushed deeply, and wished that the ground would open and swallow him whole.
If the demons had been furious before, their wrath now knew no bounds. Their chosen vassal had somehow broken their hold over him! This should be impossible!
Eyes filled with inhuman fury and malice glared through space at the unknowing humans. They would have revenge for this latest insult to their power...
(Just for anyone who was wondering: A vassal is ‘someone who is dependent on or subordinate to another’. I thought it was a good definition of how the Mysteron agents seem to act...)
This story is based on the pilot episode of the original series, written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. I do not own any of the characters I have used here.
I don’t think that I borrowed anything from other fanfiction writers in this story. If I am wrong, say so – and please don’t be too mad at me; I didn’t ignore it on purpose...
Please what you think of this story.