Original series Suitable for all readersAction-oriented/low level of violence



Tragedy Angel, a Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story for Halloween, by Andrew J. Jones


Part 1

October 31, 2029 – Wednesday


It was shaping up to be a quiet evening in a residential neighbourhood situated in the Bradford area of Manchester. Normally there would be trick-or-treaters ringing door-bells every few minutes, but with the shadow of the war, curfews were imposed after dark in most of England. The war was a little over a year old and the authorities had decided to start curfews soon after it began. There was no Halloween after dark the first year too. It was safer for communities, as most attacks took place at night.

It was a stupid war. Squabbling had broken out between several European countries as suspicions arose over a delay in communications between them, in the summer of 2028. If a governmental message from one country to another wasn't replied to immediately, the sending officials tended to get paranoid that something "was afoot", to use the words of a famous 19th century consulting detective. This circumstance occurred simultaneously to 8 countries one particular week and matters quickly escalated, so that the situation was like holding a lit match to dry newspaper. Czechia attacked Belgium with a small tactical nuclear rocket two days later. Germany wasn't happy either, located between the two. Then most of Europe got slap-happy with each other and you never knew who was going to attack who or why.

It wasn't until after the war ended in 2034 that the participating countries finally decided that the scientists were right all along. The communication problems were not due to wire-tapping delays or having to run sensitive classified messages through cipher translating devices to detect hidden agendas. The satellite delays were simply due to an abnormal period of sun spot activity that had blanketed most of Europe for about 5 days. And that the nightly extraordinary auroral displays were not aerial weapons arriving from the north. One good thing came out of the war, in that many governments started working more closely with the scientific community again. They had gradually had a falling out and had been increasingly arguing with one another since the mid 2010s.


But for this one evening at the end of October, things were pretty quiet. Even the nightly news feeds had started talking about things other than the war, for a change. The weather was foggy and a little rainy outside, as it was unusually warm for mid-Autumn. Cameron Turner and his wife, Emily, had just finished supper and were sitting in their living room drinking coffee and watching the television monitor. Their 7-month old son, Conrad, was crawling around on the floor between them, playing with some toys. He swatted a rainbow-coloured ball, which promptly rolled under the sofa. As it turned out, this innocent act saved his life.

Conrad composed himself to crawl after and retrieve it. Getting between the sofa and a huge, heavy oak coffee table that had four big, thick legs, the baby reached up and grabbed the top edge of the table with one hand and the top edge of a sofa cushion with the other hand and after several false starts managed to support himself just right, so that he was able to stand up. Conrad's little head stuck up from behind the coffee table as he grinned at his parents.

 As for Mom and Dad, they were watching this performance with amazement and Emily said:

 "Oh, quick, Cameron, go get the video recorder."

"Right," Cameron replied, as he leapt up out of his chair and made for the den where the camera was kept.

In very few seconds, that domestic scene of peace and tranquillity was transformed into the sights and sounds of utter disaster and chaos. A sudden flash of light, as if by lightning, illuminated the entire night sky and the television monitor, which was showing highlights of a recent football match, suddenly switched to the Emergency Alert System placard. Then the frantic tones of the announcer said something about, "Citizens of Manchester, please immediately go to your nearest local bomb shel..." when the sound went out and the picture dissolved into static.

A raucous wail arose, as the blare of the air raid sirens sounded outside the house. Emily stared at her son, stood up quickly and reached to gather up Conrad, yelling:

 "Oh my God, Cameron! We're under attack!"

Cameron, in the den at the front of the open cabinet with the video camera in his hand, registered a look of shock and quietly said, "Oh, no..."  

He ran back to the living room where his wife and son were.

Within a fraction of a second, barely diminished in intensity from its detonation point as it travelled through the English landscape, the blast wave hit the Turner house, blew the windows inward and shook the very foundations of the house. Before Emily had a chance to grab Conrad, the quaking of the house threw him back against the front of the sofa where he was standing, having just retrieved his ball. He then bounced forward with a small cry and his wobbly knees gave out just in time. His head just missed the solid, thick top edge of table, his momentum throwing him to the floor, directly underneath the big oak coffee table.

Appearing at the doorway to the living room, where he skidded to a stop, Cameron was just in time to see the front wall of the house crumple inwards, trapping his wife underneath.

"Emily!" he screamed.

Gazing wildly around what was left of the living room, he could not see where his son was. The resulting debris and wind from the outside clouded his vision. Before he had a chance to try and pull his wife to safety, to his horror, the first floor of the house over the living room dropped with a roar and more debris was flying everywhere. Cameron was holding his arms up over his head in a gesture of protection, when a loose joist from above fell and hit him a sharp blow on the head. As he keeled over, not with thoughts of his own pain, but with thoughts of his wife and son, he heard more crashing sounds and the diminishing howl of the wind.

The last thing he saw was the huge oak tree next to his house coming through the side wall.


Fortunately, the attack was not a prolonged one. There were just three targets, the industrial portions of Manchester, Leeds and Belfast. The missiles had been fired either from the Irish Sea or, possibly, the Isle of Man. The attacks were over in 30 minutes, as no retaliation was offered. Later, when asked why these cities were attacked, the antagonist responded with a smug, "Because we can." A more detailed answer was discovered later that showed the attacks were just a demonstration and that even more strategic targets could have been chosen and destroyed just as easily.

Greater Manchester’s emergency responders were on the scene in the levelled neighbourhood a very few minutes after the attacks once the affected areas were deemed to be safe. The shock wave from the nuclear blast carried more heat than radiation, so that any destroyed buildings and homes could not be searched with traditional heat-sensing equipment right away. As the night wore on and the outside temperature fell, such heat sensors would be indispensable in locating survivors, but for now the Search and Rescue Dog Units were ready and eager for action.

A member, Luke by name, of one such unit was scratching and whining at the front of a pile of debris that was once a family home.

"All right, men," said Rescue Sergeant Willis, the leader of the S & R team, "Someone's underneath here somewhere. Gently, now, get this rubble away as quickly as you can!"

Half a dozen searchers with ultra-bright flashlights converged on the spot. Crowbars and portable saws were produced to cut away the rubble and reach whoever was trapped. There was quite a bit of debris to move and much of it was quite heavy, so there seemed little hope for the person beneath it all. The workers finally uncovered enough to find a woman in her early 30's. Two paramedics jumped in next to her to check for vital signs.

"No. I'm sorry. She's gone," the one young paramedic reported. A brief second of silence was all that could be afforded in disaster situations like this. Proper grieving and mourning had to wait, as the rescuers moved off in the hopes they might find someone else alive.

"Here's another one," shouted one of the searchers, who had moved about thirty feet away. But from the look at the man underneath the huge oak tree that had actually pushed most of the house over and not on top of the man when it toppled, it was plain the paramedics could do nothing for him. Nevertheless, several flashlights hurried his way. The paramedic felt for a pulse. They had to confirm it.

"Nope. We can't do for anything for this one either," said the paramedic in a frustrated tone. She hoped her services would be needed by somebody that night.

At that moment, a frantic barking could be heard over by where the woman had been found, but a little further in, towards the centre of the rubble. Some of the branches of the oak tree were covering what looked like a hump in the mound of debris underneath. Luke, the rescue dog, was alternately barking and pulling at some branches trying to get them out of the way. The portable saws were produced again and most of the tree limbs and debris were removed from the top of the mound.

As of yet, the workers could hear nothing, but Luke was still barking at them as if to say, "Hurry up!"

Just as Sergeant Willis was going to request a helicopter with a searchlight, a large section of ceiling was lifted away, and a half-metre-square opening appeared. Suddenly, from within the opening, the cry of a baby startled everyone.

"Blimey! There's a child under there," exclaimed the sergeant. "Give me your torch, Ted."

Taking the flashlight, Willis removed his helmet, knelt next to the opening and slowly stuck the light, and his head in.

"Why, it's a space underneath some sort of table," he reported. "An extremely thick and sturdy table. It acted as a mini-shelter over the baby."

The baby continued crying and it was obvious that the little tot was not in need of air from the volume of the wails he was producing. He was moving his tiny arms and legs in a natural way and did not seem injured at all.

"Looks OK," the sergeant continued. "Bring me the small board. I'll have to pull him out. I don't want to try and move the table with those ceiling joists still on it."

The paramedics brought up a small spinal board and set it close to the opening at the side of the table. Sergeant Willis, a former paramedic himself, gently took a hold of the baby and while supporting his head and neck, gently pulled him out from underneath the table and set him on the board. The paramedics took over then and began checking other vital signs and preparing the baby for transport.

"Amazing!" said Willis, as he stood up and stared at the partially uncovered table that had saved the baby's life. He had also subconsciously picked up a multi-coloured plastic ball, which was underneath the table.

This simple toy had also helped to save Conrad's life, as he had crawled across the living room floor to retrieve it. If he hadn't, he would not have been in the right place at the right time to avoid the terrible fate his parents met.

 Some of the rescuers had stood by and watched the recovery of the child from the rubble, in case they were needed, while the rest had broken up into groups and moved off. Luke, the rescue dog, had become quiet once the baby was out in the open. He took a few sniffs of the ball the sergeant held in his hand and received a few scratches behind his ears in return. Then he strained at his leash to join his handler as they moved across the ruined neighbourhood to search for more survivors.


A fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles and Emergency Ambulance Vehicles (EAVs) were moving across the city, ready to transport the injured to the area’s hospitals. The newer Emergency Ambulance Vehicles were much larger than the standard ambulances; they could accommodate two patients, as well as two passengers and they were staffed by a driver, two technicians and a doctor/surgeon.


A digitized map displayed on the driver's console began lighting up with places that had requested transport. Arriving at the closest point, the vehicle stopped, the back door slid open and the two vehicle technicians jumped out with a wheeled gurney. The paramedic that was standing nearby came forward carrying a small baby strapped to a support board.

"Here's the first miracle of the night," she stated. "He was found under a table that sheltered him from the collapse of a house. He seems to be unhurt."

She handed the small boy to the technician, who further strapped the board to the gurney. The other technician gave the paramedic a clean replacement board from the ambulance.

"Are there any sign of his relatives nearby?" the young technician asked.

"We found two other bodies at the same site, who could be his parents," responded the paramedic. "Unfortunately, they are both deceased and it will take some time to extract them from the rubble. We did record their fingerprints, but the medical network is inoperative to check their IDs."

As the technicians lifted the gurney into the EAV, Sergeant Willis walked up to them.

"Take good care of this one, Doc," he called to the doctor inside the EAV. "Providence saved this little one's life and he looks, and sounds, like a strong one."

"We do that with all of them, Sergeant", said Doctor Martin, giving the sergeant a reassuring smile.

Willis glanced once more at the baby and then thought of the ball he still held in his hand.

"Oh, this was under the table with him. Maybe it's his guardian toy."

He tossed the multi-coloured ball into the ambulance. The technician caught it and placed it at the foot of the gurney on which the baby was resting. Willis closed the doors of the ambulance and returned to the search with his crew.

A dashboard signal told the driver of the EAV to continue on. Since the first patient was not an emergency case, a green light was switched on at the top of the ambulance indicating it could take on more patients.


The automobile was in flames and upside down in a ditch.

Lola Thomas, the driver of the vehicle, was frantically pulling at her sister who was in the passenger seat, trying to get her out and away from the flames. The auto had been travelling away from the blast of the bomb when it hit, which had, to a certain extent, lessened the impact on its two occupants. However, the blast wave was of enough force to send the vehicle out of control. It had veered from one side of the street to the other, flipped over once and slid into a ditch at the side of the road.

The auto hadn’t been moving too fast at the time and as both occupants had their safety belts on, they seemed to be only slightly injured and shaken up. At first, they were content to remain in the closed vehicle, as they realised what had happened, but as the smell of petrol grew stronger and the back end of the car caught fire, they realised they had to get out.

As Lola finally freed her sister and they moved a good distance away from the flames, an ambulance appeared around the bend in the road, shining its headlights toward the wrecked auto.

 "Thank goodness," Lola said to her sister, noticing the green light on the top. "We should have this ambulance take you to the nearest hospital."

Lola walked to the edge of the street and waved her arms to the approaching ambulance. The driver noticed her and brought the vehicle to a stop next to the two women. The back door opened and a technician jumped out.

"Any injuries?" she asked.

"We're not quite sure yet," Lola responded and pointed towards the flaming auto. "We just managed to get out of that burning car."

"Let's take a look."

The technician motioned the two frightened women to the open door of the ambulance where they sat down on the tail board. The second technician joined her to take the vital signs, while the ambulance doctor looked on from the inside of the emergency vehicle.

After a few minutes, the technician said, "I only see some cuts and a few bruises. Neither of you have any broken bones, although this young lady is clutching her stomach." The technician nodded towards Lola's sister. "She's pregnant. How many months?"

Lola said, "30 weeks. This is my sister Tristy – Tristana – Adams. We were on our way to a birthing class tonight. My name is Lola Thomas."

Tristy looked up with a pale face and tears in her eyes. "My stomach hurts. Please, make sure my baby is all right," she sobbed.

From inside the EAV, Dr. Martin stated, "Come on. We'd better get both of you to hospital. Tristy, we'll check you and your baby out thoroughly. Lola. That cut on your forehead is probably going to need stitches and I want to make sure you don't have a concussion."

The one technician gently assisted Tristy onto the remaining bed and Lola sat in one of the passenger seats. The ambulance doors were closed and secured.

Dr. Martin instructed the driver to go immediately to Manchester Royal Infirmary and asked Lola, "Will you be comfortable in that seat? We have another small patient here." He motioned to little Conrad strapped into the first bed.

"Yes, I'll be fine, doctor," Lola replied. "I'm a registered nurse myself at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital."

"I see," said Dr. Martin. "Well, if you feel up to it, Nurse, would you keep an eye on my other little patient while I get some more information from your sister?"

"Certainly, Doctor." Lola glanced over at the baby, who was awake but quiet with wide open eyes. "Why, that looks like Emily Turner's little boy, Conrad," she exclaimed, getting a better look at the child.

The one technician was operating a data terminal and said, "We scanned the boy's footprints, but the medical net has not come back online to confirm his identity. Wait a second... The net just came online!"

Indicators on the hand-held data terminal began flashing back and forth as information was traded with the Greater Manchester Medical Network. Conrad's footprints were sent electronically as were the fingerprints of Lola and Tristana. Data from all the other emergency responders and rescue units were making their way into the system too.

As the information appeared on the screen, the technician smiled and said, "You're right! The little guy is Conrad Turner!"

The smile turned into a frown as further information appeared under Conrad's entry. The technician looked at Dr. Martin who frowned as well, knowing what the technician saw, and gave an imperceptible shake of his head that neither Lola nor Tristy noticed. Martin didn't mind Lola knowing the bad news, but Tristy could do without that knowledge in her current state.

"What about Conrad's parents?" asked Lola, missing the invisible communication between doctor and technician.

The technician replied, "Nothing yet," she fibbed.

Underneath Conrad's entry, the two lines appeared one at a time: "Father – Cameron Duncan Turner: Deceased 31-Oct-2029." And under that: "Mother – Emily Irving Turner: Deceased 31-Oct-2029."

The medical data from around the city was accumulating fast indeed.

As the big EAV zigzagged through debris on its way to the Infirmary, Dr. Martin and the other technician turned their attentions to Tristana. She was looking very pale and worried as she lay in the ambulance bed and did her best not to panic.

Dr. Martin, known for his excellent and calming bedside manner, talked gently to Tristy as he used several instruments to determine his patient's exact condition.

"If I may inquire, Tristy, why isn't your husband accompanying you to birthing class?" he asked.

"Oh, Brennan, that's my husband, was going to, but was called back into service two days ago. He's a pilot for the British Air Force. Lola volunteered to stay with me until he got back. I wonder if Brennan's unit was called into service due to what happened tonight," Tristy replied.

"It's possible," Dr. Martin said.

He glanced at the technician with the data terminal again. Without saying anything, the technician knew he wanted her to look up Brennan Adams on the medical network.

Speaking to Tristy again, Martin said, with a wry face: "The military is often aware of things we, as civilians, don't know about until we read it in our history books."

The technician suddenly started and almost dropped the data terminal. She knew she shouldn't show her emotions in front of patients, but the facts she located on the data terminal surprised her immensely. There it was in cold liquid crystal letters: "Brennan Smyth Adams – Flight Lieutenant, British Air Force: Deceased 31-Oct-2029."

Details emerged later indicating that Brennan Adams's BAF Recon Unit had been despatched to the Irish Sea just two hours earlier that evening. The antagonist, not wanting their little "demonstration" in certain English and Irish cities spoiled in any way, promptly shot down all three of the Typhoon fighter planes, before they got remotely near the ships that launched the missiles. All three fighter pilots were killed, one of which was Brennan Adams, BAF.

Reading his young technician's body language, Dr. Martin knew more bad news was emerging from the medical data terminal. Tightening his lips, he discovered his patient was looking paler, starting to shiver and breaking out in a sweat. His duty technician looked up, as he noticed it himself on one of the internal anatomy monitors. Bleeding was taking place somewhere in Tristy's abdomen.

The technician hooked up an intravenous feed to keep Tristy hydrated. Martin pressed a button on the bedside panel that lit an indicator on the driver's cab console. This told the driver to get to the infirmary as fast as possible. Lights flashed on top of the EAV and the vehicle's siren was activated.

"Doctor?" Lola asked, as she heard the siren and sensed the vehicle's increased speed.

Tristy heard the siren through a haze, not realizing it was coming from the EAV she was in, and, as she started to fall into unconsciousness, she said, "Somebody's going somewhere in a hurry!"

Dr. Martin said quietly to Lola, "Your sister is going into shock. Please speak to her and try to keep her awake. I don't want to give her any stimulants in her condition."

He and the duty technician started preparing monitors and instruments that might be needed if matters turned to the worse. The technician with the data terminal had recovered from her own personal shock and moved forward to watch over Conrad, while Lola bent over Tristy.

"Tristy?" Lola asked, as she took her sister's hand in her own.

"Hi, sis," Tristy muttered feebly and gave her sister a weak smile.

Lola spoke gently, "Dr. Martin wants you to try and stay awake, hon. Tell me again what names you and Brennan had picked out for the baby."

She found a soft wet cloth and began cleaning some of the wounds on her sister's arms and face, attempting to keep her sister cool.

It took a few seconds before Tristy responded but finally she concentrated and said, "Oh, if it's a boy, we'll name him Thomas Archer. That was Brennan's grandfather's name. He fought in the Second World War. If it's a girl, her name will be Tori Beth. That was our grandmother's name."

"Yes, I remember," Lola said fondly.

Tristy put both hands on her lower stomach and cried a little. "I still have a pain here, sis." She gave a little gasp and winced.

At that moment two medical monitors started beeping softly and several indicators turned from green to red. Dr. Martin studied each reading and came to a decision. It was likely he could lose both mother and child.

 Both of them have a better chance of survival if they are separated, he thought. Activating the intercom to the driver's cab, he asked, "How much longer to the Infirmary, driver?"

"At least twenty minutes, sir," responded the driver.

Bugger, Martin thought. Too long!

"Driver, find a secluded, level area, away from the road, stop and lock this vehicle down tight! And then get your tail back here as fast as you can. NOW!"

"Yes, sir," the driver replied.

Up to now, the EAV was still in a residential section of Manchester. Normally, it would only take 5 minutes to drive to the centre of the city, it being only about 3 kilometres by road. But the roads, as well as wrecked rail lines, made simple distances much longer due to the destruction wrought by the missile explosion. A dark, fairly open lot was found next to what looked to be school. The driver pulled in, set the vehicle brakes and turned off the siren and flashing lights. He then hurried back to the rear of the vehicle, realising something serious was going on.


Back in the main area of the EAV, Dr. Martin was firmly issuing commands to everybody present.

"Driver, you take care of the Turner boy. Lola, you and the technicians assist me. We're going to perform an emergency C-section on Tristy. And Tristy," who was pretty much unconscious at this point, despite Lola's efforts to keep her awake, "Tristy, hang in there."

Heroic efforts were made by the entire EAV team during the two hour long medical procedure. Nurse Lola Thomas was of great assistance to the EAV medical crew, suffering discomfort to be as helpful as possible. The EAV driver, kept Little Conrad Turner busy the whole time, by playing with the ball that was coloured in all the hues of the spectrum. A partition was put up in his bed and soon he was joined by another very small patient whose noisy beginning in life was a sharp contrast to Conrad's quietness.

Eventually, the EAV pulled slowly out of the empty lot and made its way to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, through the still darkened and destroyed residential neighbourhood, flashing lights and siren resuming.

Just before midnight local time, two more entries appeared on the one EAV technician's data terminal.

"Tori Beth Adams: Born 31-Oct-2029."

And underneath, a few seconds later, almost as if the data terminal was unhappy about displaying it:

"Mother – Tristana Williams Adams: Deceased 31-Oct-2029."


Lola Thomas could be seen gazing from the rear window of the EAV as it weaved around the maze of debris on the roads. Through tear-filled eyes she only saw the faint light of a few LED-lit jack-o-lanterns that had managed to stay upright through the Halloween tragedy of 2029.


October 31, 2047 – Thursday (18 years later)


During her first year at university, Tori Beth Adams was a trainee nurse at the University Hospital of South Manchester. Guided by her aunt Lola into this vocation, Tori thought this would be as good as any line of work to start with.

Her ambition, though, was to be in the military, hopefully as a pilot. She had heard about her father being a pilot and how he met his demise on the very day she was born. She thought it would be fitting to pick up where her father left off. But for now, being a trainee nurse was interesting. She was learning useful things and was helping humanity in her own way.


Tori went to her early morning class and then started her hospital shift at 11. The level of activity around the emergency room had noticeably increased about noon. A helicopter had flown a patient in and Tori had even seen some military officers walking around. At 6 PM, an hour before her shift ended, one of the head nurses, Nurse Janet Irving, called Tori to her office.

"Hello, Miss Adams," Janet began, "We have been impressed by the level of care you give the patients as you assist the nurses."

"Thank you, ma'am," Tori replied.

"You've kept your head in difficult situations", the nurse continued, "and the more serious accident cases do not seem to bother you."

Tori thought to herself, At least not yet. I wonder where this is leading?

"Would you please accompany me to the burns unit?" Nurse Irving asked. "We'd like to assign you there for a while."

Tori and the nurse began walking the hallways of the hospital to the burns unit.

Nurse Irving explained further, "A rather special patient was admitted right before noon today. He was in a very serious aircraft incident and suffered second and third degree burns over much of his body. He just now emerged from surgery in a stable but critical condition."

"Wow! Six hours in surgery? He is special to have lived through that ordeal," Tori said.

"Well, not only that," Nurse Irving replied. "He recently entered the British Air Force and is not much older than yourself. A certain Captain Charles Gray, of the British Navy, arrived with him. I think the Captain had something to do with the young man's rescue. Captain Gray has been giving orders, pledging us to secrecy and warning us to only allow caregivers access to the pilot's room. We're to keep everyone else out, especially the press. Several other military officers arrived during the afternoon and they held a private meeting in one of our conference rooms. There seemed to be quite a row over the young man's actions, leading up to his injuries. He was in a bomber jet all by himself when it exploded, out over the ocean."

The women arrived at the burns unit and had to show their hospital IDs to a uniformed guard before entering the sick room. The lights were dimmed and several monitoring machines beeped and hummed softly. As she approached the side of the bed, Tori was a little anxious about what the patient would look like after being burned so badly, but she could not see any of the man's injuries anyway. He was pretty well wrapped up, not unlike a mummy, with treated bandages covering all of his burns. The only distinguishing feature she could tell was that the patient had black hair. He was heavily sedated and probably would be for several days.

Tori gazed at the young man for a minute and suppressed a shudder. So, you want to be a military pilot? she silently asked herself. That could be you lying in that bed someday.

Nurse Irving and Tori walked over to a desk in the room. Quietly, Nurse Irving asked Tori, "Would you care to take this new assignment, and help us get this man back on his feet? It may take several months for him to recuperate fully."

"Yes, I would," Tori replied equally quiet. "Thank you for the opportunity."

"You're welcome. We feel you are up to it," the Nurse said. "We also need you to sign this form. It states that you will not discuss this patient's case, or repeat any information heard about him, with anyone but authorised hospital staff. The other nurses, the doctors, and me have had to sign it as well."

As Tori took the clipboard to sign the document, the nurse looked at the clock, smiled and added, "Your shift is up in a half an hour, but you may leave now. I understand today is your birthday and I think your aunt has a wonderful supper waiting for you."

"Thank you very much, Nurse Irving," Tori responded, as a smile lit up her face too. "Yes, Aunt Lola is making my favourite dish – Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti."

As they both moved to the exit of the room, Tori asked one more question, "What is the patient's name, Nurse Irving?"

"Ah!" Nurse Irving said. "That is the one thing that will be common knowledge soon enough, if it isn't already." She checked her clipboard to make sure she got it right. "The patient's name is Conrad Turner."


Lola Thomas had lost her husband very soon after they were married and adopted her niece when Tori was very young. Tori's parents would have been glad to know their daughter was being raised by a family member and not a foster family.

Lola and Tori's relationship was not exactly as mother and daughter, but it was more than aunt and niece. "Best friends" is what both of them would call it, if you were to ask them.

Tori caught an earlier public transport bus from work and, walking the few short blocks to where she and her aunt lived, she encountered a few kids who were trick-or-treating. She had forgotten that it was Halloween. As she had grown older, the birthday aspect of the day seemed more important than the Halloween part.

Rushing up the front steps of the two-storey house where she and her aunt lived, Tori opened the front door, to find her aunt working busily in the kitchen and watching the video monitor, when she could glance at it.

"Mmm!" Tori said. "It smells like an Italian restaurant in here."

Lola looked up. "Hey! You're home early," she exclaimed. "What did you do? Fly a plane home?"

"I wish," Tori laughed. "Let me get cleaned up and change my clothes and I'll help you."

A few minutes later, Tori joined Lola in the kitchen and the video monitor was switched off. Tori started preparing a salad, while Lola fixed the spaghetti and kept an eye on the Chicken Parmesan baking in the oven.

"Anything exciting in the news today?" Tori casually asked.

"Hmm?" her aunt replied. "Oh, there was a brief spot on a big plane explosion out over the Atlantic Ocean. It happened late this morning, I think. As usual, the early reporting on these stories never has many details. They said there were no survivors."

Tori said, "Well, I can give you a little more information on that. There was at least one survivor, and he was brought to the Burns Unit in my hospital today. Several military officers came later and swore us all to secrecy. Nurse Irving transferred me to the unit right before I left for the day."

Tori's aunt listened wide-eyed at this narrative and chided her niece. "Well, if you were sworn to secrecy, you shouldn't be telling me then."

"Oh, you know I can't keep any secrets from you," Tori replied. "Besides, I know you won't let it go any further. You had military clearance at some point in your career, didn't you?"

"Yes, and you're right, I won't breathe it to a soul," Lola responded.

Tori continued, "The poor guy is in a stable but critical condition. He's got bad burns over much of his body. He wasn't conscious when Nurse Irving took me in to see him and he was in surgery for about six hours. Can you believe that? His name is Conrad Turner and..."

Lola almost dropped the pot of boiling spaghetti on the floor.

"What? What was that name again?"

"Conrad Turner," Tori repeated. "Why, do you know him?"

Ignoring Tori's question, Lola asked another, "How old is he?"

"I don't know exactly," Tori answered. "But Nurse Irving said he wasn't much older than me."

"What an amazing coincidence, if Conrad Turner is who I think it is," Lola said, more to herself than to Tori. "And I may know him. I last met him exactly 18 years ago tonight."

"What on earth are you talking about?" Tori asked quietly, looking at her aunt as if she had been sampling the wine before dinner.

"Oh, I'll explain later," her aunt replied. "This spaghetti is done and so is the chicken. I'll tell you after supper, I promise."


The meal was a happy one. In addition to the salad, chicken and spaghetti, there was crispy garlic bread and of course, a birthday cake was produced for dessert. Normally, Lola and Tori would watch the video monitor for an hour before retiring for the night, but this night the video remained off.

Seconds of the birthday cake were brought forth along with tea. After both were settled comfortably in their favourite chairs in the living room, Lola again recounted the events of the entire night that Tori was born, which she had done several times before for Tori. But this time, her aunt included how the second patient in the ambulance that night was a 7-month old baby named Conrad Turner.

Tori was astounded when she heard about Conrad's seemingly miraculous escape from the destruction of his parents’ home. She was even further amazed after her aunt ran upstairs and searched around in the box room for ten minutes and came back down with a multi-coloured toy ball.

"I hung on to this," Lola explained, "not wanting it to get lost in the chaos that night. It was found next to Conrad when he was rescued. I was planning to give it to whomever came to claim Conrad, but some relatives came and whisked him off to North America the next week, and I never saw them. I heard later that the relatives had lived in Scotland, but then went to visit more relatives in North America and stayed there for several years, with Conrad, until after the European War was over. His parents were killed that night, just as yours were. So, if this is the same Conrad Turner, you shared an ambulance bed with him for your first hour of life."

"How romantic!" Tori rolled her eyes.

Mechanically, she took the ball her aunt offered her and was lost, deep in thought, for a while.

"If it is the same Conrad Turner," Tori continued softly, "he’s survived a nuclear attack and now a plane explosion. He seems indestructible."

Youth can be prophetic at times. Tori took the rainbow-coloured ball upstairs with her that night and set it on a shelf in her room.


Conrad Turner of the British Air Force did not regain consciousness until a fortnight after being brought in to hospital. That is, the doctors did not let him regain consciousness. They wanted to wait until his skin healing process was well underway before he was subjected to the pain that surely would accompany it. Even then, he was pretty well sedated. Fortunately, there was very little muscle damage, but he still faced months of physical therapy.

In the meantime, Tori did find confirmation that this was the same Conrad Turner who had been in the EAV that night, so many years ago. She felt an invisible bond form between them, even though they hadn't spoken to each other yet.

Captain Gray came to see Conrad at least once a week, sometimes bringing other military or government representatives with him.

It wasn't until that December, that Conrad's care took the form of a regular routine. Tori conversed with Conrad briefly, during the times she assisted Nurse Irving, or on rare occasions, another nurse, in changing the man's bandages or helping to move his limbs around. During this time, it was finally revealed how Conrad Turner came to be in this situation.

A saboteur managed to land a large bomber jet, loaded with explosives, in a vitally important area of a secret military base. Despite knowing that the jet was packed to the ceiling with explosives and not knowing when it would go off, Leading Aircraftman Conrad Turner got aboard the jet, single-handedly took off, and headed out over the Atlantic Ocean. When he felt he was far enough away from civilisation, he pointed the huge bomber downwards towards the open ocean and pressed the pilot eject button.

A split second later the explosives in the jet (along with almost fully loaded fuel tanks) detonated in an incredible fire ball. Conrad was engulfed in that fireball and became one himself, until he landed in the waters of the Atlantic. A flight helmet protected most of his head, but his face and the rest of his body weren't so lucky. If a rescue copter hadn't literally followed him out there, he would not have survived.


One day, in mid-December, Captain Gray visited Conrad and brought another military official and a reporter from the Tribune. Tori helped Conrad sit up in his bed and made sure he was comfortable.

Before the Captain and his guests came up to his room, Conrad said to Tori, a little peevishly, "I don't particularly care to be speaking to anyone in the press at this point, but Captain Gray said it was inevitable and I might as well get it over with."

Tori adjusted his pillows and replied, "Well, at least Captain Gray honoured your request of no cameras. It's a taped voice interview only and not going out live."

"With the skin grafts and the therapy mask covering most of my face, I probably look like an opera phantom or something," Conrad said wryly.

A knock sounded at the door to Conrad's room and Captain Gray arrived with the Tribune reporter and a major of the World Army Air Force.

The interview lasted about an hour. Nurse Irving was present to keep an eye on her patient and Tori kept Conrad's water glass filled, to help him with all the talking he was doing. He kept his answers to the reporter's questions short and to the point and did not embellish his role in the episode of the sabotaged jet. He stuck to the facts.

The major and captain intervened once or twice, when the reporter touched on a sensitive topic. That Conrad had unwavering patriotism and attention to duty was obvious during the interview. When asked what his ambition in life was, he answered, "My ambition is to serve the military to the best of my ability."

"Your ambition is to fight then?" the reporter countered.

"No." Conrad raised his voice a little. "I'll fight when I’m required to. It is always a part of military duty. But, my ambition is more to see peace. I feel that I survived the bombing incident, not only because of actions by the other members of the military who fished me out of the Atlantic," Conrad slightly glanced at Captain Gray as he said this, "but because peace and a secure world is what I want to see. I can't do much about those if I'm dead, can I?"

Tori was very impressed with how the young man handled himself in front of the press and his superior officers during the interview. The bandages and other healing devices did not hamper his responses in any way. If one just listened to the taped interview, you would think Conrad was healthy enough to walk out of hospital, but he hadn't been on his feet much since the crash.

The next day, Tori arrived a little before her shift time to visit Conrad. One of the advantages of being a nurse meant that she could visit patients any time without having to wait for visiting hours and not get in any trouble. She had a newspaper in one hand and a cube shaped package wrapped in Christmas paper, in the other. Knowing Conrad should be finished with his physical therapy session, she went to his room, showed ID to the guard outside and knocked on his door and went in.

"Oh, no", Conrad said. "Miss Adams, they just put me back in bed!"

Tori replied, "No worries. This is a purely social visit, with two items I hope will cheer you up."

Conrad said, "I hope so. Between my regenerating skin itching and my muscles aching, I don't know what's worse, the injuries or the recovery."

He grimaced as he tried to find a comfortable position in his bed.

"Both the itching and aching are signs that you are healing nicely."

Tori showed him the newspaper first. "Look!" she said, and held the Tribune up so he could read the headlines on the front page. "Your interview made front page news! I had to visit three newsstands to get this paper."

"Well, at least the reporter who interviewed me kept the story focused on the peace aspect," Conrad said, as he glanced over the article. "There was a news video on earlier today,” he motioned toward the video monitor up on the wall of his room, "where the announcer made me sound like some mercenary, bent on destroying anything that moves. I don't like being under public view, especially in that false and unfair context."

Tori waved her hand at the monitor and dismissed it.

"Oh, most of the news shows hype everything up, good or bad, just to get ratings and show you advertisements."

She changed the subject to something more pleasant, she hoped, and gave the square box to Conrad.

"Here." She laid the box gently next to him. "It's a little early, but Merry Christmas. You can open it now if you want."

She was pleased to see Conrad's deeply scarred face show some colour and a faint smile.

"Thank you, Miss Adams. What can this be?" he asked quietly.

He opened the wrapping slowly as even his fingers were still healing and needed therapy too. Within the box, a multi-coloured ball, about six inches in diameter rested. He shook it out onto his lap, picked it up and looked at it, almost as if he was hypnotised by it.

Tori pulled up a chair next to Conrad's bed and sat down. She had rehearsed this moment and wanted to get it just right, so as not to upset the patient.

She also spoke quietly and asked, "Did your relatives tell you about that night in 2029 when Manchester was attacked?" Conrad nodded, while still staring at the ball. "After that ambulance took you on as a patient," Tori continued, "it stopped to take on two more patients that were in an automobile wreck. Those two patients were my mother and aunt. My mother had sustained internal injuries and was seven months pregnant with me at the time. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and before the ambulance could get to hospital, the supervising doctor on board ordered the EAV over to the side of the road to perform an operation."

Tori was speaking slowly now, because she was becoming emotional over her own story and had to keep herself from breaking down in front of Conrad. She went on, "The doctor's hope was to save both my mother and me, but only I came out of the ordeal alive. My father was a military pilot and he had been killed earlier that day." That last sentence was uttered almost as a whisper.

Tori was silent for a while. Conrad finally broke out of his trance and looked at the nurse. He moved his arm over the side of the bed and laid his hand gently on Tori's arm.

 Tori almost burst out in tears at this gesture, but quickly cleared her throat, sat up in her chair and said, "Right. That ball was with you in the one bed of the ambulance. They partitioned the bed and put me on the other side. We rode on together. In all the confusion once the ambulance arrived at hospital, my aunt tried to give the ball to your relatives for you, but could not locate them. She’s had it ever since. She gave it to me on the night of your accident when I told her my new patient was named Conrad Turner. She was, as was I, sure it was the same person I met by chance 18 years ago."

Tori looked at Conrad and smiled.

Conrad patted her arm and then lay back and said, "I'm sorry I don't have a present to give you, Miss Adams."

Tori wished he would stop calling her that, but she did realize how important protocol and respect meant to him.

"No matter. Just being able to visit with you, and not have you laugh in my face for my sentimentality, is present enough," she responded.

Inside the box was a little stand that Tori's aunt had found and Tori set it up with the ball on a nearby light table. She said, "I may be on holiday for a few days during Christmas and Boxing Day, but not more than a week."

Conrad replied, with a straight face, "I promise not to go anywhere until you get back."

Tori smiled at Conrad's small show of humour, looked at the clock and said, "That's fine. I'm now officially on duty, so time for you to get some rest and I'll see you later today or tomorrow."

She gave Conrad's hand a gentle squeeze, which he returned.

As Tori left, she was pleased at the outcome of her visit with Conrad. She had kept her composure and professionalism, despite the visit not solely being a nurse/patient one. While assisting in Conrad's recovery the last few weeks, she had been around him enough to see the attitude of the man towards life and his strict devotion to military duty that lay beneath the wounds and bandages. She admired what she saw and, to her surprise, she had developed feelings for the young man. She was cautioned, not unkindly, by Nurse Irving and her aunt about the "Florence Nightingale Effect", where caregivers fall in love with their patients, but, as Tori still performed her duties well around all her patients, nobody could really complain.

Later that week, Captain Gray came to see Conrad again, alone this time, and they had an extended private meeting. The World Government, as a last act before they retired for the holidays, had nominated and passed unanimously, a formal recognition of Conrad's bravery for saving his military base from destruction.

Conrad obstinately refused to participate in a big public ceremony, so it was on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, in his hospital room, that Conrad Turner was awarded the Commendation for Bravery by World President Bandranaik himself. Captain Gray and two of Conrad's military superiors also being present. The same Tribune reporter who interviewed Conrad earlier, was allowed to be there and the only difference from the previous interview was that a single photograph was taken of the ceremony, where everyone was posed to look their best.

Tori had gone on holiday with her aunt the day before and sadly missed the award ceremony, but she was touched when Conrad gave her a specially gift-wrapped and framed copy of the photograph when she returned to work. She noticed right away that, somehow, the little multi-coloured ball had been placed prominently in the background before the photo was taken. It was clearly visible between Conrad and Captain Gray. Her Aunt Lola insisted the photo be placed on the mantle of the fireplace in their flat, although Tori would rather it be placed in her own room. It wasn't until Tori actually showed the photograph to her aunt that she noticed the handwritten message, underneath the cardboard bracket on the back. It read:

To Miss Adams – Thank you for your professional care and your personal kindness. You are truly an angel. – Conrad Turner.


Early 2048 saw Conrad Turner moved from the Burn Care Unit to a regular hospital room, still under heavy security. To Tori's satisfaction, her nurse assignment was shifted also, to the floor that Conrad was assigned. She continued to see him almost daily, as she assisted the nurses and doctors who oversaw Conrad's physical therapy and plastic surgery. Captain Gray's visits were much less frequent in the New Year and he was never in uniform anymore. These visits were invariably quite long and always private.


In May 2048, Conrad was offered a post in the World Army Air Force, which he accepted. There was no fanfare nor ceremony this time. Conrad loathed any sort of public display or exposure and the transfer papers were signed efficiently and quietly.

Tori had eventually revealed her desire to become a pilot to Conrad and they had had some lively aeronautic discussions on occasion.

Conrad was all afire to start the duties of his new post, but his doctors convinced him to see his therapy through to the end.

"I feel fine," Conrad said, one day as he finished his weights workout with his physical therapy doctor. "I want to be back in uniform again."

"You may feel fine," the doctor replied, looking at Conrad's progress charts, "but our instruments and tests show you are not up to the same physical level that you were when you entered the military a year ago. If you go back to duty now, you'll still have that limp in your right leg and still be badly scarred in a few places. I think you would rather be as strong as you can get before taking up your new post."

"Yes," said Conrad, as he thought about what the doctor had told him. "I see your point and you are correct. I want to be as ready as I can be to face my future. But when is that likely to be?"

Still looking at the progress charts, the doctor replied, "You are making excellent progress and are even ahead of our predictions in several areas. However, I can guarantee you will be out of here before November of this year."

Throwing his towel into the laundry bin in the corner of the weight room, Conrad said, "Good! A year in recuperation is long enough."


October 31, 2048 – Saturday (One year later)


Tori Adams was pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair outside, both of them were enjoying the chilly air and colourful autumn leaves. They were passing the resident patient suites at the University Hospital of South Manchester, when she noticed an object inside one of the unoccupied apartments on a table by the window. After depositing the old gentleman in his room and seeing to his needs, she walked to the corresponding suite, unlocked the door and went in. This was the suite that Conrad had occupied for the past five months, after he no longer needed a hospital room and the associated care that went with it. He was able to look after himself, but still needed to be nearby his recovery routines.

Tori and Conrad had said their goodbyes the morning before, when Conrad was finally discharged. As the hours, and now a full day had gone by since they parted, a sickening emptiness was growing inside Tori.

I'm going to miss him badly, she thought to herself. After being with him for so much the past year, the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years were going to be difficult.

That rainbow-coloured ball was sitting on a table by the window, with a note addressed to her beside it. Tori frowned as she picked up the note, but as she began reading, a smile replaced the frown and the emptiness inside her eased a little. The note read:

Angel – Will you please keep this safe for me until we meet again? It's too big for my watch- or key-chain and it takes up too much room in my WAAF locker trunk. Thank you. – Conrad

Short and sweet, Tori thought.

Conrad rarely showed any sense of humour, but it delighted Tori to see it in Conrad's last communication to her. Equally reassuring was the greeting of the note: not "Miss Adams", not even her first name, but a nickname Tori would cherish and allow no one but Conrad to use – Angel.


October 31, 2073 – Tuesday (25 years later)


Tori had moved out of the flat she had shared with her aunt years ago, and now lived alone in a rented terraced house in a rather run-down section of Blackley, north of Manchester. She woke up that morning at about 7 o'clock, and lay in bed thinking what she might do that day. She had a part-time job as a waitress at weekends at a local pub, but had no steady job during the week. Once in a while, Manchester airport would contact her to help with an airplane, or jet, that got out of order and puzzled the airport mechanics. With her diverse experience with all types of flying machines, Tori still retained the knack of piloting an ailing jet, and, within fifteen minutes, could diagnose and also repair the trouble, once back on the ground. She was kind of a consultant and not paid very much for her work.

Tori graduated university in 2050 after four years of study, and remained working at the University Hospital of South Manchester for two more years after that. She then enrolled in flight school and after four more years, Tori was an accomplished pilot. Her talents were with fighter jets, but she could handle almost any single seat, military or civilian, aircraft with ease. During her last year at flight school, in 2056, Tori and another classmate, after finding a modern correct-sized engine, finished building a 1:1 scale working replica of a "Sopwith Camel", a propeller driven bi-plane first flown in 1916.

For the next several years, Tori was a commercial pilot for New Trans World Airlines, during which time she had applied to the World Army Air Force to be a fighter pilot. In 2062, Tori was selected from among the applicants to fly a demonstrator version of their new Viper fighter jet at a public air show. Tori made a few practice flights, but a mishap during the actual demo flight effectively terminated her application in the WAAF, and put a major crimp in her flying career.

After encountering difficulties pulling out of an "aileron roll" at a low altitude in front of the crowd, Tori finally had to eject because most of the aircraft's controls had locked up. Fortunately, she ejected upward while the jet was upright and, in her parachute, she landed safely, but the jet continued spiralling downward, smashed into the ground and exploded. The fiery wreckage careened into the grandstand killing thirty-two spectators.

The inquiry that followed was not pleasant for Tori. In support of her defence, she had studied the Viper specifications from nose tip to tail fins and maintained that there were multiple aircraft failures, while the WAAF leaned more towards pilot error. In the end, Tori was not charged with incompetence nor negligence, as the results of the investigation proved inconclusive.

As far as the relationship between Tori and Conrad Turner was concerned, he heard more about her exploits than she did of his. That was to be expected, as Conrad had climbed the ranks of several military and space organisations, in the years they were apart. He sent her brief messages, when he heard about her in the news or read about her in an aircraft technical journal, but this happened only once every five or six years. That wasn't how Tori imagined the relationship would pan out. Yet she still felt that the seed of friendship, planted twenty-five years ago when she last saw Conrad, was still there inside her and she was destined to be with him somehow.

Tori definitely thought her time had come to be with Conrad when, in 2065, he took her into his confidence and informed her about the creation of the Spectrum organisation. He explained to her that the members of it were to remain secret and only be referred to by their code names. Conrad had been chosen as a senior member and, as she found out later, was known as Captain Black. Tori knew of no other members, but heard that the jet fighter pilots were to be called "Angels". 'Angel' was Conrad’s nickname for her.

 Can this be a coincidence? Tori thought. Do I detect the subtle humour of Conrad Turner at work here? She got more excited when she found out that the Angel Interceptors were based on the WAAF Viper jets.

Tori immediately sent messages to anyone (including Conrad) she thought might be able to inform Spectrum of her qualifications and interest in becoming an Angel. She was so sure this was her one chance for her dreams to come true. Her enthusiasm quickly waned, however, as days, weeks and even months went by and she heard absolutely nothing about her application. After six months she sent her application package in again and a month after that she finally received what looked like a form letter, from a Colonel White, stating that her "skills were not needed at this point and we thank you for your interest, etc."

That's a load of poppycock, Tori thought. Who could be better qualified to be an 'Angel' than me?

Maybe it was her age... Maybe it was her episode with the demonstrator jet at the air show... Maybe she needed to learn to read music. She had heard some of the Spectrum Angels had code names like "Symphony" and "Harmony"... Whatever the reason, her hopes were shot down and she sank into depression in subsequent months.

Her mental state hit an all-time low when, in 2068, she heard rumours that Conrad was missing and presumed dead after a mission to Mars.

Tori recollected all this about her past as she lay in bed that morning, staring at the ceiling. She leaned over to pull the window shade aside to see what the weather was like.

 "Ugh!" she muttered. "Misty, foggy and gloomy. Oh well, it matches my mood."

She flopped back in bed and rubbed her eyes. "Let's see, today's Halloween, isn't it? That means it's my birthday too. Great. Another year for the dustbin." She stuck out her tongue for a moment.

Tori frequently talked to herself. She often thought about getting a cat, or a budgie. That way, if people asked her who she was talking to, she would have a better answer than "Myself."

Still in her nightshirt and socks, she forced herself out of bed and shuffled to the kitchen and made some coffee. Grabbing a couple of shortbread cookies, she sat down at the little table with her coffee, and gazed out the back window.

A few minutes later, the dog in the next yard started barking and Tori heard a deep rumbling noise.

Uh, oh. An earthquake, Tori thought, not getting too excited. Manchester rarely has earthquakes but they are not unheard of. Two seconds later she felt instead of just heard the rumbling as it shook her flat fairly violently.

"Oooh, a big one!" Tori's eyes opened wide as she grabbed her coffee cup from spilling.

Then it seemed as if somebody picked up the terraced house and dropped it again. Dishes crashed into the sink, pictures dropped off the walls and the door to her kitchen cupboard flew open. Some items on the top shelf of the cupboard bounced where they stood and then dropped to the floor. Just as Tori was about to run outside, the noise and rumbling stopped and everything became quiet.

"Wow!" exclaimed Tori, visibly trembling herself by this time, although still seated in her chair.

One last item dropped off the top shelf of the cupboard, bounced a few times on the floor and then rolled across and came to a stop at Tori's feet. It was a ball, about six inches in diameter, coloured in all the shades of the rainbow. It showed some signs of wear and the colours were faded, but Tori recognised it.

In her high state of tension from the tremor, she considered running outside again, in panic at the sight of the ball as if it was a poisonous snake.

Instead, she took a deep breath and said, "I haven't seen that thing in years."

She picked the ball up and stared at it for a while, another set of memories running through her head.

"I should try and find Conrad's grave. I could place the ball there as a memorial," Tori finally said thoughtfully, somewhat less depressed now that she had a goal for the day.

She finished her cookies and coffee, tidied up the flat some, from the damage after the quake and got dressed in a pair of black jeans, a black, long-sleeved, turtle neck sweater, black trainers.

"I don't have a costume, but this seems appropriate for Halloween," she told herself.

Before she had a chance to leave, the telephone rang. Tori picked up the instrument.

 "Hello? … Oh, hi Aunt Lola. … I know, I haven't called or come to see you in a while. … Yes, I felt it here too. Some things were knocked over and the pictures fell off the walls."

Tori looked quickly at the spot where she had hung the picture of Conrad receiving his commendation. Amazingly, it was still in its place even after the earthquake!

"What? … No, I'm fine. Do you need any help? … OK. Oh, say, do you know where Conrad's parents are buried? … Why? … Oh, I found that stupid ball of his and I thought I could put it on his grave as a memorial. … His parents are in Blackley Cemetery? That's where my parents are. … Yeah, it's pretty close by. I could walk there. … Well, it's a starting place. I could ask in the cemetery office if they know where he's buried if he's not there. … Tonight?"

Tori closed her eyes and grimaced. "Yeah, I guess I could come for dinner tonight. What's the occasion? … Yes, I know. Thank you. … Chicken Parmesan? Well, in that case count me in. I'll be there. … Yes, it'll be good to see you too. … OK. Thanks. … Goodbye."

Tori slumped a little after hanging up the telephone. She had become a recluse as her happiness faded over the years. She didn't have any friends and seldom saw or spoke with relatives, including her Aunt Lola.

Tori grabbed the ball, locked the door to her flat and started off down the street.

Blackley Cemetery was less than three kilometres from where Tori lived, and on the way there she could see other signs of damage from the earthquake. A streetlamp globe had dislodged and smashed on the ground underneath. There was an old tree that had toppled over. A stone wall at the corner of a property had fallen over and crumbled.

Arriving at the cemetery, she walked through the wrought iron gates towards the cemetery office. It was a quarter to 9 and a sign on the door said the office would not open until 9, so Tori thought:

 No bother. I'll go visit my parents’ grave and then look for Conrad's parents’ site. If I can't find it on my own, I'll come back to the office and ask.

She found her own parents’ site fairly easily, paid her respects and then started searching for the Turners’ grave site, still thinking that if Conrad was buried here, he would be near, if not right next to, his parents.

In the fog and gloom, it was difficult to see and read the inscriptions on the tombstones. The cemetery was an old one and had grown to over 50 acres in area, so Tori didn't have any clue what an immense task she had embarked on. Searching for a single grave site in that big an area was not unlike looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. After only walking a short distance down the dirt cemetery lane, she approached a section heavily shaded with trees. There were several tombstones and grave sites off to the left and an old mausoleum with a huge granite monument next to it, on right of the lane. As Tori got closer to the mausoleum she could see the surname "Anderson" etched in stone over the crypt entryway. Then, she noticed the shadow of a man, dressed in black, towards the left in the midst of the tombstones.

Thinking it was the groundskeeper, she approached him to ask a question.

"Excuse me, sir," she began.


Sensing the Mysterons were planning another attack, Captain Black wanted to visit his parents’ grave on the anniversary of their deaths, before he was called on to do something. It was still early on a dark, foggy day. There was little chance he would be seen by anybody: who in their right mind would be wandering around a cemetery on a Halloween day like this?

He arrived at his parent's grave several minutes after the local earthquake. One of the headstones nearby had fallen over and was it his imagination, or was that monument across the lane leaning forward? He had been standing there quietly for about twenty minutes and was so absorbed in his thoughts, he failed to hear footsteps approaching.

He whirled around as a feminine voice asked, "Excuse me, sir?"

Normally at this point Captain Black would have used one of his powers as a Mysteron agent and disappeared. But the tone and inflections in the voice made him hesitate and remain where he was. The voice sounded vaguely familiar.

The woman took another few steps forward and continued her questions, "Do you work here? Do you know where the Turner..."

Tori's voice faded away as she recognised the individual before her. If she had any doubt as to who this man was, it was removed as she glimpsed the name on the tombstone behind him. It read "Turner".

If Captain Black had any doubt as to who she was, it was also removed as he recognised the object she held in her hand. It was a round, multi-coloured ball.

"Conrad!" she exclaimed, a look of ultimate surprise on her face. "Is it really you? I thought you were dead!"

Fortunately, she did not move any closer to Captain Black as he would have shot her with the pistol he always carried. Inwardly, he groaned because her fate now was already sealed in some similar manner. The Mysterons would not allow her to escape to tell anyone about who she had seen.

Tori continued asking questions, not really giving him time to answer in between. Black hesitated after each one but just as he was about to answer, she asked another.

So many of Tori's conflicting emotions were rising to the surface that she wasn't quite sure which one would be the winner.

Tori was curious. “Where have you been these past five years?"

 "You look terrible! Are you hurt? Can I do anything for you?" There was a feeling of pity and caring, ever the nurse.

"Why didn't you contact me more often?" She thought she meant something to him.

 "What happened to you on Mars?" Curiosity again.

"Couldn't you have helped me in my case against the WAAF after the demonstrator crash?" A definite tone of reproach accompanied that question.

"Why couldn't I get into Spectrum as an 'Angel' pilot?" A little frustration there as Tori never got a good reason from anyone and felt let down.

"Couldn't you have pulled a few strings to get me in?" Now she felt guilty for even mentioning that. She thought he might help but didn't really count on it. She would rather have gotten in by her own merits.

 "Don't you think I would have made a good 'Angel'?" Her voice raised on that last question.

Finally, the anger kicked in and she fairly screamed at him, "WHY DON'T YOU SAY SOMETHING?"

She actually threw the ball at him and fell to her knees, covering her face with her hands. "At least I gave you your ball back," she sobbed.

After the release of all those emotions, she just wanted to get up and leave now, not caring whether Conrad answered her questions or not.

In sharp contrast to Tori, Captain Black withstood this verbal onslaught with no emotion at all. He had stood still and looked down at Tori. In a very rare show of compassion, he picked up the ball, walked the few steps to stand right in front of her. He gently reached down, held her right elbow firmly and helped her to stand up. He held her arm tightly to prevent her from embracing him and said, "I am no longer Conrad Turner, nor the original Captain Black."

At the sound of his deep voice, so different than what she remembered, Tori disengaged his grip on her arm and slowly backed away from him a few steps toward the dirt lane.

Captain Black took out his pistol and continued, "I am now and have been since the end of the mission to Mars, a part of the Mysteron consciousness here on Earth."

A look of fear was beginning to creep into Tori's eyes as she looked at the gun in his hand. She had heard the Mysterons were a terrorist group that had taken hundreds of lives and caused countless billions in property destruction.

Tori was in the centre of the dirt lane now and her voice turned to pleading. "Conrad, how could you have done such things? You, who had the dream of world peace? You have caused the exact opposite from what you fought so hard for to help mankind."

Tori thought maybe she could talk him out of his twisted ideas and break him away from whatever force was compelling him to act this way. Captain Black's calm stoicism suddenly disappeared and his face registered pure rage. "DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT?" His deep voice thundered so supernaturally loud that the canopy of trees over their heads seemed to shake. The tall monument that was now directly behind Tori, leaned forward a tiny bit more, some bits of mortar flaking from the seams. The gun came up now to point directly at Tori.

The Mysteron voice in his mind said, "Wait."

Tori physically jumped at Black's sonorous voice and thought to herself, Wrong thing to say, girl. You are in deep trouble.

Both figures stood frozen in their standoff. Undetected by Tori, because she was facing away from it, two round rings of greenish light appeared at the base of the monument. They floated there for a second and then moved gradually up the monument. Pausing again at the very top, where a sculpted angel was perched, they finally disappeared. At that moment, an aftershock from the earlier earthquake began shaking the ground. Staring right into Captain Black's dark eyes, Tori was poised to make a dash for safety up the road, while his attention was diverted by the tremor. Before she could move though, the huge monument fell forward, striking her on the head. Both she and the monument crashed to the ground, the huge stone blocks almost burying her completely. The granite angel from the top of the obelisk broke into pieces at Captain Black's feet, who was just far enough away so that the monument missed him.

Black slowly lowered his pistol as the ground stopped shaking and walked over to stare down at the body laying underneath the rubble. One of Tori's arms was exposed and part of her face, where a tiny trickle of blood ran down her cheek.

The Mysterons spoke to him again in a voice, not unlike his own, deep inside his head.


The import of what the Mysterons had just said to him slowly made itself clear to Captain Black, as those two greenish rings reappeared, moved over where Tori's body lay from her head to her feet and then back again.

 She was being scanned for the creation of a duplicate.

A brief look of panic showed on Captain Black's face and he said out loud, "No, wait!" But then he resumed his emotionless mask and walked away, knowing that any protest was futile.

As he stood there waiting for the inevitable, he could hear the Mysterons delivering an announcement to the human race. The only visible reaction he gave to the Mysterons’ latest threat was to take the multi-coloured ball, which he still held in his hand, and tear it into pieces. He let the fragments fall on the shattered remains of the angel that used to be on top of the monument.

Half a minute later, a shimmering of lights began next to where Captain Black was standing. It coalesced into an exact duplicate of Tori Beth Adams. They looked at each other briefly. Then the two figures walked off amongst the tombstones, both dressed in all black, to find a hiding place and receive instructions from the Mysterons.










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