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 2


Colonel White and Lieutenant Green were working quietly in the Control Room on Cloudbase that morning when a faint crackle came over the PA speakers. Then came quite distinctly:





That was the end of the announcement.

All senior officers had standing orders to report to the Control Room for a briefing immediately following any Mysteron announcement. Within five minutes, Destiny Angel, Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue and Captain Grey were seated around Colonel White's console. Lieutenant Green remained at his own console behind the seated officers and Captains Ochre and Magenta were ordered to check on the wellbeing of the remaining Angels.

"Well, you've all heard the latest Mysteron threat," Colonel White began. "Targeting one of our Angels in the city of Manchester. This isn't the first time one of the Angels is threatened."

A yellow light blinked on the colonel's console indicating Captain Ochre was reporting in.

"Go ahead, Captain Ochre," the colonel ordered briskly.

"Sir, all Angels are present and accounted for," Ochre's voice came from the speaker. "None of them have been anywhere near Manchester recently and have no plans to do so in the near future."

"Unless I order them to," the colonel replied thoughtfully. "But that might put them in serious danger."

"Colonel," Destiny Angel said, "All Angels are ready and willing to launch anytime you say. Threat or no threat."

Destiny was the eldest of the five crack fighter pilots on Cloudbase. Several years ago, she had been identified as the target of a Mysteron threat because she was the only Angel away from Cloudbase, at the time, visiting her hometown of Paris, France.

"I know you are, Destiny," Colonel White said. "But we need to understand this Mysteron threat a little more before I send the Angels anywhere."

Captain Scarlet spoke up at this point.

"Sir, there must be a hidden meaning in this message. If the obvious doesn't seem right, then we must look for the double entendre."

"I agree, Captain," the colonel stated. "The Mysterons are seldom straight forward. Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet, it's still early in the day, local time, so get down to Manchester and requisition an SPV. I want you patrolling the city and surrounding area within the hour."

"S.I.G.," Captain Blue responded. "We'll leave immediately."

The colonel continued his orders. "Destiny Angel, return to the Amber Room. You and the other Angels should be ready to launch when I give the word. Lieutenant Green, I want you to monitor local broadcasts around Manchester, for anything that might seem relevant. Captain Grey, you, Captains Ochre and Magenta remain on Cloudbase on standby for the time being. There's no telling where and when you might be needed. Until then, check our historical and news records for anything pertaining to today's date. We know it's Halloween, but the use of the word 'anniversaries' in the Mysteron threat needs further study."

A chorus of "S.I.G.s" rang out, as everyone began their respective tasks.




Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet landed one of the Spectrum Passenger Jets at Manchester Airport, 45 minutes after leaving Cloudbase. They taxied to the high security area, just southwest of the control tower, disembarked and walked over to small office next to a disused helicopter pad. The attendant met them at the door.

It was 10:15 AM local time.

"I'm Captain Scarlet and this is Captain Blue of Spectrum," Scarlet greeted the young man. "We'd like Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle M56, please."

"May I see your IDs?" the attendant asked.

Both Scarlet and Blue flipped open their ID wallets and showed them to the man. The attendant studied them quickly and said, "Thank you."

Then he walked over to his desk and pressed a hidden button. Re-joining the two captains, they all walked out toward the helicopter pad, stopping just before it, where the landing lights at the four corners of the pad began blinking. A rumbling of machinery started up nearby.

 "You're here to assess the damage, I guess," the man continued.

Captain Blue raised an eyebrow. "What damage would that be?"

The whole helicopter pad began rising upward.

"Haven't you heard?" The attendant sounded surprised. "We had a quake here about two-and-a half hours ago. It measured 4.8 on the Richter scale. They think the epicentre was up near the Blackley area about 1.5 kilometres below the surface. There's been one aftershock, about an hour ago, that wasn't very strong."

"We didn't know that," Captain Scarlet stated flatly.

He activated his cap communicator and the microphone swung down. "Colonel White: Captain Blue and I have arrived at Manchester airport. There's been an earthquake in this area earlier this morning. The centre was just north of Manchester city centre," Scarlet reported.

"Yes, Captain Scarlet. Lieutenant Green has just informed me of this." Colonel White's voice could be heard from Scarlet's headset. "An earthquake, and of the reported magnitude, is rather unusual, although not impossible. It could be related to our case. I'm sending Captains Grey and Ochre down to Manchester as well. They are to take two separate Spectrum Saloon Cars and patrol the outskirts of the city. You and Captain Blue, stay within the city centre limits when you get there. All four of you can assist the local government and military with any quake-related issues, if needed, while also looking out for any Mysteron activity."

"S.I.G.," responded Scarlet, his cap microphone flipping upward as communications were ended.

During this conversation, the helicopter pad had continued rising out of the ground to reveal SPV M56 hidden cleverly underneath. The lower floor on which the SPV rested, stopped level with the surrounding ground. The SPV was fully fuelled, loaded with weapons and ready for action.

Captain Scarlet opened the door to the SPV, while Captain Blue turned to the attendant.

"Was the earthquake before or after the Mysteron threat this morning?" he queried.

"The main quake was definitely before the Mysteron message – say, one-and-a-half hours before," replied the attendant. "The aftershock was almost at the same time as the message. Maybe a little before."

"Understood. Have two saloon cars ready for Captains Ochre and Grey when they get here," Captain Blue ordered.

The attendant responded with a brisk salute, "Will do, sir."

Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue strapped themselves into the SPV, with Captain Scarlet driving. They took the southwest exit out of the airport and drove north on the A5103 into the city of Manchester.

As they drove along, both captains were silent, as they each tried to find a truth hidden in the Mysteron threat. Captain Blue finally spoke:

"I just don't get this one. If the threat says the place is Greater Manchester, and the Angels are nowhere near it, how can the Mysterons succeed in carrying it out?" he asked, with a very perplexed look on his face.

"That's what I meant," replied Captain Scarlet. "There's a hidden meaning in the wording of the message. It's a puzzle, or some sort of enigma, that we have to solve. Usually their threats target a person or a place, but this threat has both. And right now both are mutually exclusive, as we understand it. I haven't figured it out yet either!"




At the abandoned Brown Wardle Airfield, about 22 kilometres NNE of Manchester, two figures were standing next to three fighter jets. The fog was still pretty thick and there was little chance anyone would discover them there. The three planes were exact replicas of Spectrum Angel Interceptors, except they were not painted, lettered nor had any decals. They were still in their dark-gray base coat.

Tori Adams acted almost human as she eagerly examined the jet fighters.

"How did you get these?" she asked Captain Black, who stood nearby.

Although now a Mysteron agent, her voice was still normal, not a deep bass version like Captain Black's.

"A few years ago, we hi-jacked a transport carrying parts for three Angel Interceptors," Black replied. "We scanned and destroyed them, then duplicated them as complete fighters. We used them to attack one of the Spectrum Angels. That mission failed and the fighters were destroyed again. We still had their patterns and recreated them for this mission."

Tori asked another question, "Who is the third pilot?"

She was assuming that she would fly one, Captain Black another and a third person would pilot the last aircraft.

Black shook his head. "I will remain on the ground and attempt to thwart any actions contrary to our purpose. You will be the lead pilot and control the other two planes with your mind. The Mysterons will do most of the work, you will just direct their movements. Take them up now for a practice run. The attack will commence later this afternoon."

Tori suited up and the three dark-coloured fighters took off in unison. She found out that she could just think about what the two supporting aircrafts actions should be and the Mysterons manipulated the controls and made it happen.

Tori piloted her aircraft well and as a last test before she landed, she had all three aircraft perform an "aileron roll". All three did so to her satisfaction, with no locking of the controls and they returned to the airfield.

Tori re-joined Captain Black and said, "That was easy, but there are many differences between these interceptors and their Viper predecessors. Why don't the Mysterons re-create a dozen of these and increase their chances of success?"

Captain Black hesitated a second before responding. "The Mysteron power source is not unlimited. It can only do so much. One of the reasons the previous use of these jets failed, was that it took too much energy to fully control all three properly. With you flying one manually and the Mysterons only controlling the other two at your bidding, they feel this new tactic will work."

Tori nodded to show she understood, then stated, "I do have one request. I think I should have a code name, like the Spectrum Angels do."

"Very well," said Captain Black. "What codename shall we call you?"

Tori thought a bit, looked down at the ground and shuffled a few pebbles around with her foot. Finally, she said, "Considering the circumstances of today, I think it appropriate I be called 'Tragedy Angel'".

If Captain Black was even capable of smiling, let alone remember how to, as it had been so long since he had done, he almost did smile now.

Instead he just pronounced, "It is done. You shall be known as 'Tragedy Angel'".

The two figures stood atop the airfield on the hill and looked silently at the three sleek aircraft for a minute. Then Captain Black said to Tori:

"I must go to the city to oversee matters there. You wait here for the signal to start for your target. It probably won't be for several hours." He turned and faced her directly. "You know what you must do."

Tori looked directly at Captain Black and replied, "Yes. I know what I must do."




Destiny Angel sat in the cockpit of Angel One on the flight deck of Cloudbase. She was expressing her frustration at knowing there was an imminent threat, but not being allowed to do anything about it.

Speaking to Symphony and Rhapsody Angels, seated in their launch chairs in the deck below, she said, "This inaction is going to drive me crazy!"

"You said it," Symphony agreed and added, "Why can't we be patrolling the skies above Manchester, just as the officers are doing on the ground?"

Harmony and Melody Angels, stationed in the Amber Room, could hear the discussion and they nodded their heads too.

After a moment, Rhapsody said, "Colonel White is being cautious about this Mysteron threat. We don't have enough information yet to respond intelligently. Don't worry, we'll get our chance."

Meanwhile, Captain Magenta was reporting to Colonel White on some of the anniversaries he had discovered for October 31st.

"Colonel White?" A magenta-coloured light blinked on the colonel's circular desk.

"Yes? What is it Captain Magenta?" the colonel responded.

"The only two anniversaries that concern Manchester and October 31 are the structure known as the 'Co-op Headquarters' building in Manchester which was completed 60 years ago today in 2013. As I guess you’re aware, Colonel, the Co-operative Group has become one of the largest consumer organisations in the United Kingdom. They were the first, and in fact, the only, tenant of that building since it was built.

"The other interesting anniversary is an observance known as 'World Cities Day'. It was created by the United Nations, also in 2013, although it wasn't first observed until 2014, to honour global urbanization. There are scores of minor secular and religious observances as well. I'll have a complete list sent up to you. Oh, I also had two of our cryptographers analyse the Mysteron message. They found nothing out of the ordinary."

"Very good, Captain Magenta," the colonel replied. "I don't know what the 'Co-op' building or 'World Cities Day' have to do with one of our Angels; however, we'll keep them in mind. You and Lieutenant Pine continue your research."

"Yes, sir." Captain Magenta signed off.

Lieutenant Green took this opportunity to report something, after hearing what Magenta had said.

"Colonel White, there's a connection between those two observances," he stated. "One of the media stories from the BBC mentioned that the Co-op HQ building is host to a 'World Cities Day' symposium today. There will be seminars this afternoon and a dinner and celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Co-op building this evening. Over one hundred mayors from cities around the world are expected to attend."

"I see," the colonel mused. "Lieutenant, we may have located a piece to the Mysteron puzzle. Where it fits is still anyone's guess. Contact Captain Scarlet, Lieutenant."

After a few seconds, Green had reached Captain Scarlet and transferred the line to the colonel's console.

Scarlet's voice sounded over the speaker, "Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue here, Colonel, what are your orders?"

"Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue," White said, "you are to proceed to the Co-op Headquarters building in Manchester city centre. There's a high-profile symposium there today, with many international mayoral dignitaries attending. Today is 'World Cities Day', and the Co-op building's 60th anniversary. It's not a promising clue, but the only one so far. How soon can you get there?"

Scarlet replied, "We're checking out the northeast Manchester sports arenas with no luck. The Co-op building is near Manchester Victoria railway station, I think. We should be there in ten minutes."

Green broke in with some geospatial information. "That's right Captain Scarlet. The Co-op HQ building is in the N.O.M.A. Development of Manchester, grid reference SJ844."

"S.I.G., Lieutenant. We're on our way." Scarlet sounded more excited now that he and Captain Blue had been given a definite destination. Anything was better than cruising around aimlessly.

Colonel White looked pleased at the efficiency of his officers. He said to Green, "Lieutenant Green, what is the status of the Angels?"

Opening a call to the Amber Room, Green asked, "Symphony Angel, what is the status of you and the other Angels?"

Symphony Angel's voice came over the intercom, "Spectrum is Green, Lieutenant. We're ready to launch at your command." There was just a little hint of impatience in her tone, indicative of what all five of the Angels were feeling by now.

Colonel White stood up and started pacing around the Control Room. It's going to be a long day, he thought to himself.




Once they picked up their respective Spectrum Saloon Cars, Captains Ochre and Grey started out, travelling counter clockwise, on the vast M60 highway network encircling Manchester. Ochre started out first, while Grey waited about 20 minutes and then followed. This put either one of them a maximum of a half circle away from any area that they might be ordered to, and about 180 degrees around the circle from each other.

Proving once again the sound judgment of Colonel White's deployment tactics, Captain Grey was nearing the apex of one of his laps when Lieutenant Green contacted him.

"Captain Grey, there's been a news report of one fatality, supposedly due to the earthquake this morning, in that area." Green stated the facts as they knew them. "A monument toppled over in Blackley Cemetery, crushing a woman underneath. No name was reported, pending the notification of next of kin. Colonel White wants you to investigate this incident for more details."

"S.I.G., Lieutenant," Grey acknowledged. "I'm just approaching that exit now. I should be there in less than five minutes."

It was in less than half that time, when Captain Grey pulled his vehicle up to the main Blackley Cemetery office. He was about to enter, when he noticed in the distance several officials gathered under a copse of trees. The fog, which had blanketed the Greater Manchester area since early morning, had lifted some.

Grey walked over to the two local police sergeants, the cemetery director and a workman in a backhoe, ready to move fragments of the fallen monument off the dirt lane. They had noticed Captain Grey's arrival and turned to meet him.

"I'm Sergeant Jones, Manchester police," the officer introduced himself, offering his hand.

"Captain Grey, Spectrum," Grey replied, shaking the other's hand.

Sergeant Jones remarked, "I don't think there's anything here for Spectrum, Captain. It looks like a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We had the body extricated and removed about an hour ago."

"Well, from what we can tell from reports across the county," Grey replied, "almost all of the injuries due to the quake have been cuts and bruises only. This case stands out as the only fatality. Spectrum is leaving no stone unturned. Has the body been identified yet?"

"Yes, the coroner's report just came in," Jones responded, referring to some notes. "Female, age: 44 years, name: Tori Beth Adams, lived in a terraced house not far from here. The body was formally identified by her aunt, Lola Thomas. Cause of death: blunt force trauma to the head and internal injuries."

Grey knelt down near where the top of the monument had shattered. "What about these pieces of plastic?" he asked.

Looking again at his notes, Jones said, "We took the larger fragments as evidence. It was brought here by the deceased. Some sort of plastic ball. Not very new. The only identifiable fingerprints on it were hers. It's possible she was carrying it to place on a child's or relative's grave. It was broken, presumably by the monument, when it fell on her."

Captain Grey's eyes were darting here and there, looking for other possible clues. Finally, he stood up and said to the sergeant, "Do you mind if I look around a bit?"

Jones replied, "Not at all. We've processed the scene and are done. We'll be in the director's office, if you have further questions.

"Thank you," Grey said.

The cemetery director spoke up and called to the man on the backhoe: "MacDonald, wait until Captain Grey is done here, then you can finish straightening things up."

As the police sergeants and the director walked back to the office, MacDonald simply replied, "Right."


Grey knelt down again and sifted through the broken rubble at the top of the monument.

None of these plastic pieces are under the stone fragments, he thought, which they would be, if the monument fell on the ball. Instead, the remaining pieces are all on top of the rubble. It's as if the ball was broken and the pieces were placed, or dropped there, after the monument fell. Was there a second person here?

Standing once again, Grey walked to where the body had been discovered. He could see the indentation in the dirt lane. The pieces of monument that had covered the victim had been rolled over, so the body could be recovered. He proceeded to the foundation of the monument and jumped up, to stand where the monument was, and looked in the direction in which it fell. He could see several tombstones and grave markers on the other side of the dirt lane in the shadow of the trees. He hopped off the concrete foundation, crossed the dirt lane and stood at its very edge, surveying the ground directly opposite the monument.

Yes, it looks as if someone walked through the grass and stood next to that tombstone for a while, thought Grey again. Unless it was the police.

His gaze followed the faint traces through the grass to the lane, quite a distance down in the opposite direction of the cemetery office and maintenance building.

No, he continued to himself, the police didn't come from that direction. It was definitely someone else.

He turned back to the tombstone where the footsteps had paused and walked in closer to read the inscription on the headstone. The large letters read "Turner".

Captain Grey understood the impact of what this meant. His jaw dropped open and he looked around suspiciously in the gloom under the trees. They retained enough leaves to make it quite dark underneath, which was amplified by the still cloudy skies.

Grey was not a superstitious man at all, but now he muttered out loud, "This place gives me the creeps!" He walked briskly out from under the trees to the comparative brightness of the lane.

He called over to MacDonald on the backhoe, "I'm finished. Thanks," and started walking to where he had parked the saloon car.

MacDonald muttered back at him, "Right."

Standing off to the side of the parking area, away from the noise of the backhoe and where no one could overhear him, Captain Grey made his report to Colonel White. When he mentioned the deceased's name, the Colonel had him repeat it and Grey knew his superior had recognized the name in some fashion. After detailing the results of his investigation and ending up with the trail of footprints and the tombstone they led to, Grey lowered his voice and said, "Colonel, I believe Captain Black was here."

White responded with an equally lowered voice, "I think so too, Captain Grey. If this Adams woman is the one we know about, she and Conrad Turner had some sort of relationship, long before Spectrum was even formed." He paused a second, then exclaimed, "Excellent report, Captain! Continue your circuits around Manchester with Captain Ochre. We'll probably ask you to join Captains Scarlet and Blue shortly."

"S.I.G.," Grey acknowledged. He walked over to his car, waved to the police sergeant inside the cemetery office, and drove out to the highway again. He was relieved to be out of that dismal cemetery.

Colonel White had taken his seat at his console while conversing with Captain Grey. He now sat silently as he thought about Grey's experience. Lieutenant Green had a question, but he could see that the Colonel's mental machinery was in high gear, so he waited.

Finally, White stood up again and resumed his pacing.

"Colonel," Green ventured, "didn't a Tori Adams express an interest in becoming a Spectrum Angel at one time?"

"Yes, Lieutenant," Colonel White replied. "You have a good memory and I'm quite sure that the Tori Adams who applied years ago is the same one who met her demise this morning in cemetery. Perhaps you would be so kind as to confirm that theory for me."

"Right away, sir," Green said, as he turned to his own console.

Colonel White walked casually down the observation tube that opened to the Cloudbase Control Room, his hands clasped behind his back. Stopping at the end and looking down, he could just see the three Angel aircraft sitting at the end of their runway, their shadows casting distinctly under them.

Cloudbase personnel did not get the same view of the weather condition on Earth in these particular cases. While it was dark and cloudy in Manchester, Cloudbase was above the clouds, both brilliantly lit by the late October sun.

White was trying to solve this Mysteron enigma with no success whatsoever. There were too many questions and guesses running through his mind. Twice now, they had been given what looked like a piece of the puzzle, but instead both pieces were puzzles themselves. The Co-op building's anniversary and World Cities Day seemed to match the threat when it said, "Your pathetic observances like Halloween and other anniversaries are insignificant..." But they seemed to have no correlation to the part of the threat that said, "Before the day is over, we will do away with one angel in Greater Manchester."

If that sentence referred to Tori Adams, then the threat was fulfilled and the ordeal over.

But Tori was not a Spectrum Angel. She had aspired to be one.

White remembered her desire to be a fighter pilot from, what was it? 25 years ago? She was one of Conrad's attendant nurses after his plane crash and, from his hospital visits, White correctly conjectured that a relationship had sprung up between them. As it turned out, it was a one-sided affair, more on Tori's side. He thought then of Tori's application to be a Spectrum Angel. It was true that she had an almost flawless flying record. There had been two other reasons why she was rejected as an Angel: one, her flying experience, while diverse, was more with civilian aircraft and not military planes, and two, her age. She was a good 11 years older than the oldest Angel – Destiny.

While one of those reasons would not be fatal by itself, Colonel White felt that both of them together were unacceptable.

Maybe the Mysterons made a mistake then? It wouldn't have been the first time. Maybe they thought she was a Spectrum Angel. No, they relied on Captain Black for information and if anyone knew whether Tori was an Angel or not, it would be him. If he was in that cemetery with Tori this morning, just what on Earth had transpired between them?

Another thought hit Colonel White. The earthquake seemed to be a piece in this puzzle as well. Was it a coincidence that Tori was standing directly in front of that monument when the aftershock caused it to fall over? Did Captain Black cause the monument to topple? Did the Mysterons cause the earthquake? If the Mysterons had figured a way to control the forces of nature, then mankind was in big trouble.

Colonel White closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to meditate for a minute to clear his mind. That one-man brain storming session accomplished nothing.

Either the galley better have some strong tea and coffee for the rest of the day, or Dr. Fawn better have something for a headache handy, he thought.

White sauntered back down the observation tube and into the Control Room.

Lieutenant Green knew that when Colonel White went into the observation tube to think, he should put out the "Do Not Disturb" sign.

When Green saw the Colonel enter the Control Room again, he literally bombarded his commanding officer with, "Colonel! Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue think they have solved the riddle!"




Reaching Manchester city centre, Captain Scarlet tried to get to the Co-op HQ building, but the traffic got worse, the nearer he got to it. He looped south and could see the building in the distance, along with the other buildings in the complex. He finally reached Manchester Victoria station and found an area to park the SPV. Both he and Captain Blue got out and found a local police constable on security duty.

"Excuse me," Scarlet said to the man, "We need to get to the Co-op Headquarters building."

The constable replied, "Sorry, all immediate roads around Angel Square are cordoned off due to the symposium today. You'd do better to walk."

At the words, "Angel Square", both Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue's heads turned to stare at the man.

"What's this about an 'Angel Square'?" Captain Blue asked.

"Angel Square," repeated the constable. "That's the name of the road leading into the complex of buildings there. The Co-op Headquarters building address is One Angel Square."

"One Angel Square", Blue said out loud, looking at Captain Scarlet. "How could we have missed that obvious clue?"

Scarlet practically shouted at his fellow officer. "That's it! 'One Angel' in Manchester. That has to be what the Mysterons meant! Come on! We can walk there faster than trying to get the SPV through this traffic. It's only a couple of blocks."

The surprised constable watched as the two men from Spectrum walked rapidly away, wondering how they could not know about one of the most famous landmarks in Manchester.

Walking along with Captain Blue, Scarlet activated his cap communicator and reached Lieutenant Green at Cloudbase. He told Green about 'Angel Square' and waited a few seconds for Colonel White to come online.

"What have you got, Captain Scarlet?" the colonel asked.

"Sir," Scarlet responded, "The Co-op Headquarters building's physical address is 'One Angel Square'. This has to be what the Mysterons meant when they said 'do away with one angel in Greater Manchester'. They just left out the word 'square'."

"I do believe you're right, Captain", White agreed and then thinking to himself, "So, those two puzzle pieces do fit together! The episode in Blackley Cemetery was either a diversion or a coincidence." Speaking to Scarlet again, he said, “The threat is not against a Spectrum Angel then, but a building with a similar name."

Captain Blue chimed in and asked, "Shall we start evacuating the area, Colonel?"

Colonel White hesitated a second then said, "Yes. I think you should. The Co-operative Group and those visiting dignitaries will never let me hear the end of it if I'm wrong about this, but so be it." Decisions were snapping into place in White's orderly, military mind. "I'll instruct Captains Ochre and Grey to assist you. I'll also call in the local Spectrum Security Unit. One more thing, Captain Scarlet, we have evidence that Captain Black may be in the area, so keep alert!"

"S.I.G.," Scarlet said.

With the Co-op HQ building in sight, Scarlet and Blue headed straight to the security office.


Back on Cloudbase, Colonel White continued his orders. Turning to Lieutenant Green he said, "Lieutenant, manoeuvre Cloudbase to within 100 kilometres of Manchester city centre at this same altitude."

He wanted to be closer to the action if there was to be any, but not too close. "And tell the Angels to stand ready."

There was still a chance that the Mysteron threat was aimed at a Spectrum Angel. He didn't want to commit them until it was necessary.

The evacuation, which entailed a 200-metre radius around One Angel Square, went smoothly. Since the roadblocks were already in place, vehicular traffic did not get in the way. There was no panic – everyone cooperated. There were some grumblings from some of the more temperamental dignitaries, but they quieted down after they realized that the evacuation was for their own safety. The local law enforcement assisted and the local rail company brought in some special passenger trains to help move people out of the area.

Spectrum Security had a few helicopters in the air to supervise movements.

Captains Ochre and Grey had arrived and were directed to help with the evacuations, while Captains Blue and Scarlet started searching the building for bombs or other dangers.

Three hours later, when the evacuation was completed, they had searched all of One Angel Square, both inside and out. They used the remaining daylight hours to search outside of the other Angel Square buildings and the neighbouring evacuated buildings as well. Everything was normal and nothing suspicious was found.

Captain Blue had brought the SPV over from the railway station and parked it in a strategic position in the empty street, while Ochre's and Grey's saloon cars were likewise positioned around the area. There wasn't anything more Spectrum could do at this point, except wait.

Local law enforcement offered to patrol the surrounding area, which made sense, as they were more familiar with the vicinity. Spectrum Security was guarding the entrances to One Angel Square, and the other evacuated buildings had their own security teams on duty.

Blue and Scarlet were standing watch, right next to their SPV, with a perfect view of One Angel Square. The building was basically three-sided with blunt round corners. The sides were almost totally glass, as was the roof. Facing mainly south, it allowed much daylight in and was a bright, airy environment to work in. It had fourteen floors and the working spaces inside were clustered around the edges of the structure. In the centre was a huge atrium, were you could stand on the ground floor and look all the way up to the glass ceiling.

The roof was tapered from the back corner, and the only solid covered area of the building held maintenance facilities, down to the front, where the height was only seven floors. Floors eight through fourteen, followed the taper of the roof and had open air balconies on each side. Over the atrium, the glass was somewhat opaque in five "canopies", following the floor configuration, to provide a softer light underneath. The building had won awards soon after its completion in 2013 for its renewable energy and recycling usage and was a role model for many subsequent buildings throughout Europe.

 Blue excused himself for a minute and then came back.

"Here you go, Captain," Blue said, and handed Scarlet a cup and wrapped package. "Courtesy of The Co-operative Group."

He had brought over a couple of sandwiches and coffee.

Since no one knew how long the lock down would last, a Co-op representative told Spectrum, and local police, that they were welcome to any of the food that had been prepared for the celebration that night in the Co-op HQ building.

 "Someone might as well eat it," they said.

"Thank you, Captain," returned Scarlet. "Ever the efficient company, even in a time of crisis, aren't they?"

"Indeed." agreed Captain Blue.

While they were eating their quick meal, it was rather quiet in the evacuated area. The sun had set, shining briefly underneath the cloud cover before it disappeared past the horizon. Dusk was falling rapidly and the street lamps and building interior lights began switching on in response. An occasional train could be heard going by two blocks streets away, and every now and then, a helicopter would fly over.

They had finished eating and Captain Blue was just about to speak, when Captain Scarlet held up his hand and said, "Listen!"

From the north, came the sound of a jet approaching.

Captain Blue cocked his ear towards the sound. "Why, that sounds like an Angel Interceptor!"

That's what had caught Scarlet's attention. The Angel aircraft’s distinctive engine whine was unmistakable. And now it sounded like there was more than one of them.

Captain Scarlet quickly activated his cap communicator and queried briskly, "Colonel White, did you launch any Angels?"

Colonel White was quick to respond once he heard Scarlet's question.

 "Certainly not! Why do you ask that?"

At that moment, the jet sounds were louder as they passed about 300 metres overhead.

"What looked like three Angel aircraft just flew over the area," Scarlet reported.

Only the silhouettes of the fighters were visible through the ground lighting glare. His shoulder epaulets now blinked yellowish as Captain Ochre broke in.

Ochre was further to the west, on the roof of a building.

 "Captain Scarlet! I got a good look at them with my binoculars," he said excitedly. "The interceptors are similar but they're definitely not our Angels. They're a dark gray colour and marked with two green rings on the side!"

"Did you hear that, Colonel?" asked Scarlet.

The colonel had indeed heard that. Not unlike a reflex action, that last piece of the Mysteron puzzle snapped into place in his mind and he finally grasped the big picture. He immediately ordered Lieutenant Green activate a red alert and to launch all Angels.


Green spoke tersely into his microphone. "All personnel, Spectrum is now on Red Alert status. Angels One, Two and Three, immediate launch! Proceed to Manchester City Centre. Enemy aircraft sighted. Engage and defend."

Destiny, Symphony and Rhapsody were still the Angels on duty.

Destiny, in Angel One, blew out her breath and said, "S.I.G., Lieutenant." To herself she added, "Finally!" And then to her wing mates, "OK, Angels. We may have a busy time ahead of us."

She pressed the launch button on her console and Angel One catapulted down the flight deck and off into the skies.

Symphony and Rhapsody had ridden their elevator-like launch chairs up into their respective aircraft and were locked in place in the interceptors. In unison, they both replied, "S.I.G." and within seconds, they rocketed off Cloudbase and joined their leader.

Without missing a beat, White responded to Scarlet, "Yes, Captain. I've just ordered a launch of all Angels. They should be with you in less than two minutes. Now this is important: I want anyone down there to confirm as soon as possible, that one or more of the unidentified fighters is manned. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Colonel," Scarlet replied.

Both he and Captain Blue were reminded of a similar attack by three dark Angel Interceptors several years back, when Destiny Angel had been threatened. But that time all three jets were unmanned and under Mysteron control. Every Spectrum officer knew it was not wise to question any of Colonel White's orders, so they all just bent to the task of seeing who was flying those jets, without really knowing the reason behind it.

As the lead aircraft did a forward loop, straightened out and came back over Angel Square at high altitude, the two supporting fighters crisscrossed each other as one turned left, the other right and took formation behind the lead craft again.

This time it was Captain Grey who called out, from his position on the roof of another building, to the east of the perimeter.

"Colonel White, it looks to me that only the lead craft is manned, while the two trailing jets have empty cockpits," he reported.

Two seconds later, Captain Ochre spoke again over the comm line, "Confirmed! The lead aircraft is manned, the two trailing jets’ cockpits are empty."

Captains Blue and Scarlet observed the fighter's performance from the ground and listened to the information the others were conveying.

"They seem to be acting in a much more professional manner than we've seen Mysteron controlled objects do before," observed Blue.

Scarlet nodded his agreement and said, "It looks like they're making reconnaissance passes. They have not attacked yet."

It was now almost fully dark and very difficult to make out the three fighter aircraft visually. Against air travel rules, these jets were not displaying any running or landing lights. They were completely dark, except for very slight illumination emanating from the cockpit instrument panels.

Several of the Spectrum Security helicopters were turning on searchlights, to help those on the ground pick out the jets as they flew by. They could be heard turning around again, but came in lower this time and in a different formation.

Another captain was on a nearby roof with his binoculars, but he was on the side of the marauding dark fighter jets. Captain Black had a front row seat on the Manchester Victoria railway station roof, and had a clear view of almost all of Angel Square. At the first sight of the Mysteron fighter jets, using an invisible form of communication not fully understood by Spectrum, he asked Tragedy Angel why she put representations of the Mysteron scanning beams on the aircraft.

Speaking from the cockpit of the lead jet, Tori replied, "I got tired of waiting on that hill, so I walked to the nearest village and got some paint and a brush and gave our 'fleet' a little class".

"That was dangerous," said Black. "You might have been recognised."

"Not likely," Tori returned, as she and her escorts flew over the target area. "I've never been in that village in my life." Changing the subject, she stated, "I'm ready to make another pass."

"Yes, commence the attack." Captain Black looked at the searchlights on the helicopters and added, "Get rid of those helicopters, and quickly. There are three Spectrum Angel aircraft approaching."

If anyone had doubts as to the intent of these dark, sleek, fighter jets, it was removed when the lead craft, as it approached, levelled off and fired a shot straight at one of the Spectrum Security helicopters. It was a direct hit and the helicopter exploded and fell to the earth in a fiery mass.

One of the unmanned attacking fighters likewise fired a shot at another security helicopter, but it glanced off the tail rotor and the copter wobbled out of control and smashed onto the roof of the Four Angel Square building. This one did not explode and the pilots threw open the doors and escaped without injury. The pilots in the third security helicopter, figured it was a bad idea to remain where they were, and landed in a nearby park as quickly as they could.

An angry cry was heard from the others on the ground as the hit helicopters went down, and the other Spectrum personnel now scrambled to position their vehicles where they could return fire.

Captain Scarlet obtained permission from Colonel White to retaliate and shoot down the enemy.

The interceptors could really only come from one direction to be able to hit One Angel Square. From any other direction, one or more buildings would be in the way. The SPV that Captains Blue and Scarlet commanded, was already in a good position. Captains Ochre and Grey hurried down from their rooftop posts, Spectrum Security personnel taking their place, and drove their respective cars to either side of the target building, turning them so they pointed towards the attack vector.

Back on Cloudbase, Lieutenant Green waited until Colonel White was done barking orders and everybody had responded to the red alert and all stations were ready. Finally, he asked, "Colonel, how did you know that the attacking aircraft might be manned?"

"Lieutenant," the colonel began seriously, "I'm quite certain that the person in that lead fighter is a 'mysteronised' version of Tori Adams. With her experience as a pilot, this threat may be one of the most challenging Mysteron attacks we have faced. It could be doubly so, if this new Tori feels any sort of allegiance towards Captain Black. Or rather, the human being he was before he was mysteronised. The one chance we might have is that Tori lacks combat experience. If she makes a mistake along those lines we must exploit it."

Green was silent for a few minutes as he reflected on what Colonel White said. He started another question, "Colonel, what about those..."

Colonel White smiled and held up his hand to interrupt the Lieutenant. "I know what you're going to ask. You can help answer that question yourself. Contact someone on the ground, and the Angels when they get there, and get them to scan the enemy craft. Then we can determine whether these are the same three fighters we encountered years ago."

Green nodded to show that's what he was thinking about. He turned and reported to the ground forces all that the colonel had said.

Captain Scarlet had come to the same conclusions as Colonel White and was gratified when Green called in and gave them White's new orders. He and Captain Blue had been preparing the SPV's weapons.

After a minute, Scarlet said to Blue, "We've got to manoeuvre that lead jet into a position where she'll make a mistake."

Blue, still activating equipment, said, "Sounds like a plan. Let me know when you figure out how to do that."

Finishing his check list, Scarlet reported, "All batteries fully charged and systems show 100% operational capacity." and then he sat back in his seat and said, in response to Blue's comment, "I'm working on it."

As the three attackers were regrouping for a second run, a trio of lights could be seen high overhead and another set of jet engines were added to the noise. The Spectrum Angels had arrived at last and now a cheer went up from those on the ground. They wouldn't have to be the only ones now to deal with the onslaught.

Different types of weaponry are employed when a battle is taking place in a populated area, as opposed to open country, whether high in the air or in space. In the city, you really can't defend your position with conventional bullets or missiles. If you miss your target then those bullets or missiles are going to continue on their trajectory and most likely hit a civilian target, or person. The offenders don't care about this as it's the whole point of their attack, but since there had not been enough time to evacuate the entire city, the police and Spectrum had to keep this in mind, to protect for the innocent bystanders of Manchester.

Fortunately, the technology based on lasers and electronic pulses was advanced enough to be formidable weapons if needed. These are used in urban situations. Lasers and electronic pulses are not affected by gravity and continue in a straight line and eventually dissipate. As long as you fire above the horizon, or away from an object, if it misses, it will not fall to earth.

The Angels had to change their strategy as well. Forming a single file attack pattern, the Mysteron fighters dived straight for One Angel Square. Tori, in the lead, came in quite low over the open street and fired a missile. The projectile landed to the right of the rear corner of the Co-op HQ building. Due to the very slight angle of descent, the ordnance did not explode on impact but rather deflected off the roadway and continued straight, smashing through the glass windows. It continued through the lower floor and atrium of the building, scattering displays and chairs, and through the front glass doors. It finally exploded as it hit a retaining wall about 30 meters in front of the building.

Tori misjudged her altitude and speed a little and almost did not pull up in time. She veered right and just missed hitting the Co-op building herself.

"Whew!" she said to herself. "That was close. I'm not ready for a suicide run just yet."

The second attack fighter also let loose a missile, which impacted to the left of the rear of the building. It had hit a row of recycling dumpsters and exploded. The jet then veered left and up and continued on.

The third fighter's run mirrored the second, but its missile shot was aimed above the first two and into the main building structure. Almost at the same instant that the enemy missile left its tube, Captain Blue pressed the trigger of the SPV's laser gun. He had a clear shot at that third fighter and the laser beam hit the jet's missile directly, exploding it well before it got near One Angel Square. The third fighter veered right and up, but wobbled a bit as it reeled from the proximity of the laser blast and resulting explosion.

"Nice shot, Captain!" Scarlet shouted over at his friend. Several congratulatory shouts were heard from other members of the ground forces.

"That was luck! I couldn't do that again in a million years," Blue shouted back modestly.

Other lasers and pulse rifles were now being put in action by the Manchester Police and Spectrum Security as well. The noise level in the area was now so high that you had to yell to make yourself heard: what with the weapons discharge and interceptor engines.

Thinking about Tori's dive that was too low and Captain Blue's excellent marksmanship, Captain Scarlet got an idea. He got up out of his seat and started rummaging around in the back of the SPV. He came forward again, with the heavy-duty laser rifle and made sure it was fully charged.

Captain Blue noticed what Scarlet had in his hands and asked, "Where are you going with that?"

"I need a better location to shoot at these fighters," Scarlet explained. "We're limited to one direction – the one they attack from - and the SPV can't swing around to shoot as they pass. I'm taking this up to the roof of One Angel Square. That way, I can shoot at them coming and going. I may be able to panic Tori before she gets too used to flying that fighter."

"You'll be making quite a target of yourself up there," Blue argued.

"Yes, but I'm a smaller target than any of these armoured vehicles on the ground," Scarlet countered.

Captain Blue opened his mouth to argue some more, but Scarlet said quickly, "And you know I'm the better target than anyone. Take over down here, Captain. I'll contact you when I'm in position."

"S.I.G.," said Blue, disappointment in his tones. He thought to himself, "I hate it when he does this. I still don't know whether to envy him or pity him."

As if Captain Scarlet could read his friend's mind, he gave Captain Blue a hearty clap on the back and started running toward the Co-op HQ building.




As soon as Destiny Angel assessed the situation from above, she gave her orders.

"We're going in, Angels. One-to-one coverage. I'll take the lead fighter. Symphony, you take the fighter that just veered south. Rhapsody, you take the one that went north.

"S.I.G., Destiny," responded Symphony and broke formation to follow her target. She noticed it was wobbling as it flew and diagnosed that the craft's gyroscope was damaged. It fired a volley of tracer bullets at Symphony as it climbed, but they passed safely underneath her fighter.

Diving down, Symphony got the enemy jet in her sights and saw that directly behind the line of fire was the River Irwell. A missed shot of her electronic pulse gun would go harmlessly into the river, so she acted quickly and sent off a blast toward the Mysteron jet. Her aim was true and the blue energy pulse tore straight into the empty cockpit of the wobbling jet, splitting it in two. The pieces began falling to the ground. The rear of the jet, containing the engines and power plant, exploded in mid-air, while the front nose and stabilizer fins curved down and impacted on an empty parking lot, knocking over several overhead lights as it spun around.

"One down!" Symphony shouted gleefully, a little surprised her target had been despatched that quickly.

"Good work," Destiny said.

Captain Scarlet had reached the front of the Co-op HQ building. Instead of using the other set of undamaged glass doors, he ran into the opening in the glass wall that the unexploded ordnance had made. He could see the path of destruction it took as it tore across the ground floor inside the structure. 'World Cities Day' displays were strewn everywhere and the table containing the sandwiches, beverages and Halloween treats were scattered all over.

Scarlet took all this in as he raced across the atrium.

So much for dessert after supper, he thought, as he ran toward the building's back corner that contained the elevator to the roof, laser rifle slung over his shoulder.




Rhapsody had acknowledged the orders from Destiny Angel and took her aircraft low, to try and get below her designated target. The enemy fighter was taking a long loop to the north and was realigning to make another pass at the Co-op building. Just before the Mysteron jet was lined up, Rhapsody had a clear shot at it. She pressed the fire control button on her steering console, and another blue pulse of energy shot across the city sky. It struck the pilotless jet’s underside and electric sparks travelled back and forth along its length.

Smoke started emitting from the engine compartment, but it did not explode. It retained enough power to complete its curve and aim itself directly at One Angel Square.

Rhapsody reported into her microphone, "I hit it, but it seemed to absorb the energy of the pulse blast. It looks like it might dive bomb into the building. I can't get lined up for another shot before it hits."

Captain Ochre, who had seen Captain Scarlet running across the square with the laser rifle, had also grabbed one from his SSC. He was about 50 metres away from the Co-op HQ building and had watched Rhapsody's manoeuvres.

"I think I can get it!" he shouted into his headset.

When the disabled fighter was about 200 metres from the building and closing fast, Ochre aimed and sent a massive pulse from his rifle. The enemy jet was directly hit for a second time, and this time it exploded brilliantly, illuminating the ground below. What little was left of the aircraft continued on its trajectory toward the building.  All but one piece was tiny enough to harmlessly tinkle down on the glass canopies, like sleet. That one larger piece, which turned out to be one of the engines, struck the base of the chimney on the building roof.

The engine struck the chimney so hard that it actually sheared it from the roof. Like a pool ball hitting another, the engine stayed where it was and the chimney shot over the glass canopies, missing the first two, but crashing into the middle one. The glass and roof beams were not designed to support that much weight, so the chimney, still pretty much still intact, tore a large hole in the canopy and crashed to the atrium floor below. There, the chimney smashed into pieces and, still retaining some momentum from the engine collision, slid forward towards the front doors.

"Way to go, Ochre! That's two down!" Rhapsody yelled, as they saw the fighter she’d disabled, disintegrate into little shooting stars.

Someone else let loose with a "Woo-hoo!" over the intercom.

Rhapsody half-expected to hear a rebuke from Colonel White on this rather informal battle conversation, because he had chided them once before in a similar situation: "You're members in a military organisation, not cheerleaders at a football match!"

But Cloudbase remained silent during the battle.




Destiny Angel had kept an eye on the lead attacking aircraft during her comrade's individual victories, and was pleased with the results so far. She now took the liberty of switching her radio frequency to one that the Mysterons could hear.

"This is Destiny Angel of Spectrum to the lead Mysteron interceptor," she intoned over the communications channel. "You've lost all your supporting aircraft, Miss Adams. You had better land and surrender. It's now our three ships to your one."

She didn't expect an answer but received one almost immediately.

"I don't care if it's thirty to one," Tori shot back. She knew her performance today wasn't very good and she was frustrated. Controlling the other Mysteron aircraft during a practice flight was one thing. Doing it under combat situations was quite a bit different.

"I'm going to bring that building down if it's the last thing I do." Tori was getting angry now and went on, "And don't 'Miss Adams' me! My call sign is 'Tragedy Angel' and you and your hot-shot pilots will see I'll live up to my name!"

She put on a burst of speed and began another run on One Angel Square. Then she heard Captain Black's voice in the cockpit.

"Be quiet! Do not communicate with people from Spectrum anymore, or I'll shoot you down myself!"

Tori stuck her tongue out at the radio speaker, even though that wasn't where Black's voice was emanating from, and angrily snapped off the intercom channel.

Destiny was taken aback by the vehemence of Tori's reply and thought, "I won't be able to reason with her."

She changed her intercom back to the Angel frequency and said to the other Spectrum Angels, "Come on girls, join up with me and let's stop her from reaching the building."




Captain Scarlet heard the noise on the roof, just as the elevator stopped at the top. He got out of the car and ascended the final flight of stairs to the roof. Opening the door cautiously, the first thing he saw was a blaze of light. There were numerous spotlights around the roof, which illuminated the building at night. He knew they had to be turned off or he really would be a good target up there. Looking around the top of the stairwell, he thought there might be a circuit breaker to shut the spotlights off, but then realised it was probably in the basement.

Before stepping out on the roof, he contacted Captain Blue and the Angels.

"I'm up on the roof now," he reported. "I'm going to douse some of the spotlights up here. Destiny, if you or the other Angels can get a shot at the enemy interceptor, do so, but from an angle. I'll be shooting from head on and I don't want to accidentally hit one of you."

"S.I.G., Captain Scarlet," Destiny replied.

Scarlet walked out in the open, on the roof of One Angel Square. He could see the still smoking interceptor engine on the far side of the roof, next to where the chimney once stood. Setting his laser rifle to low power, he extinguished each of the four spotlights that illuminated the roof.

"Good", he thought. "I'm in relative darkness up here now."

He switched the power setting back up to high on his rifle and positioned himself just offset of the centre of the roof, facing the back corner. Lit from the city lights below, Tori's fighter was just discernible, swinging around in descent to approach the building from behind it.

The Spectrum Angels were still too far off to the right to attempt a shot.

"Here she comes, Captain!" Captain Blue shouted.

"I see her," Scarlet calmly said.

Spreading his feet apart to steady his stance, he took aim at the interceptor coming directly at him.

Yes, she was doing it again: descending too fast.

She came in low and was on the direct horizontal from where Captain Scarlet stood. He balanced the cross hairs of the rifle sight directly on the jet coming right at him, and gently pulled the trigger. The electronic pulse hit Tori's jet head on, shorting out all its power and ammunition systems, before she had a chance to fire a missile.

Dropping the laser rifle, Scarlet took out his sidearm and fired a volley of shots at the approaching cockpit windows, but the bullets just deflected off. With the fighter still coming right at him, Scarlet decided it might be a good idea to get out of its way.

The aircraft's lower wingtips scraped the roof sending out a shower of sparks. Scarlet jumped to his right, just as the nose point of the interceptor was about to impale him. The left stabilizer fin, however, caught him on the left arm and threw him down onto the roof.

 Fortunately, the stabilizer fin broke off, otherwise it probably would have severed his arm.

The impact sent him rolling across the roof toward the glass canopies at the front of the building. Before he fell onto the first canopy, he felt the heat of the fighter engine as it passed within inches of his head. He saw Tori's' interceptor continue on over One Angel Square, and start veering off to its left.

Momentum carried him forward over the first canopy, and he tried to grab something to slow himself down. His left hand and arm were useless. He couldn't even feel them. They flopped around like those of a rag doll, as he fell to the second canopy. His speed had slowed enough that he thought the third canopy would be the last he would fall to, and he could rest on that one until help arrived. He rolled over the edge of the second canopy and braced himself for the jolt of that last metre drop.

As he cleared the edge, he looked down, expecting to see the opaque glass of the third canopy. What he actually did see immediately caused him to start flailing with his right arm, searching for something he might grab a hold of. His path across the roof canopies had led him directly over the huge hole in the third canopy left by the cement and steel chimney, when it was torn from the roof and fell.

Captain Scarlet dropped into that opening and fell twelve storeys to the hard, unyielding, tiled floor of the atrium below.




Tori was wrestling with the steering controls and jabbing at various firing mechanisms in her interceptor, but the pulse blast had knocked out practically everything.

"Shoot!" she yelled. "One more second and I would have fired that missile."

As she skimmed the roof of the target building, her fighter shuddered as she struck a dark object on the roof, knocking off the front port stabilizer wing. She had little steering control left but the jet's thrusters were still working – kind of. Her craft was losing altitude and seemed to be locked in slow counter-clockwise circle.

Still fighting the steering column, she tried to gain more height.

"Well, NOW it looks like the time for a suicide run," Tori concluded. "If I can just keep airborne and circle around, I'll fly right into the side of that darned building."

She made it halfway around and was so low she barely missed two smaller buildings, as she flew in between them. At the three-quarter mark, she was lower still and her wingtips got caught in, what looked like, a pedestrian walkway over the railroad tracks. This forced the nose of the interceptor down where it got caught among the tracks and actually snapped off right in front of the cockpit.

The rest of the aircraft landed hard and spun around twice before coming to a rest sideways, on the centre railroad track, just northeast of the Manchester Victoria railway station.

Tori shook her head to get rid of the cobwebs after the violent crash landing. She tried to open the cockpit canopy, but was unable to.

"There's more than one way out of this bucket," she thought, and pulled on the ejection seat lever. That refused to operate as well.

She slumped back in her seat and said: "Okay, now I'm either going to be captured or hit by a train."

As soon as she finished saying that, a light appeared in the distance as it rounded a curve on the far side of the station. It was on the same track as Tori's crashed jet and approaching fast. Tori quickly unstrapped her chair harness and positioned herself to start kicking at the canopy.




Captain Black had been watching the attack progress from his location on the railway station roof. Other than the one remonstrance to Tori to be quiet, he had said nothing. As he observed the two supporting fighter jets go down, he thought about taking pot-shots with his gun, at the various personnel that he could see moving back and forth around One Angel Square. But he was too far away to hit anyone with much precision.

And now he actually frowned in disappointment as he watched his ace-in-the-hole, his Tragedy Angel, crash land on the railroad tracks, only a few dozen metres from where he was hiding. He thought again about using his gun to detonate the fuel tanks on the crashed fighter. The resulting explosion would kill Tori. Then Spectrum would not have a prisoner to gloat over.

Black was about to pull out his gun to do just that, when the Mysteron voice in his mind said:


He climbed down a ladder and ran over to Tori and they both tried to get the cockpit canopy open.





The high-speed commuter train from Liverpool to Leeds was on time that night. The engineer and conductor heard there was some activity going on near the Manchester station, but since they were not scheduled to stop there, the authorities let the train go on through. Normally, when a train (or other metallic obstruction such as a crashed Angel Interceptor) occupies a section of track ahead of another train, the following train would be stopped by a red signal. By chance, the Leeds express had just passed the corresponding signal when the jet fighter landed on the tracks, so all the engineer and conductor saw was a green signal, telling them it was okay to proceed at their present speed of 180 mph.

As the train approached Manchester Victoria station from the southwest, the engineer gave a couple of warning toots of the horn.

Rounding the slight curve before the station, the conductor and engineer both let out a gasp: they could see some sort of dark mass on the tracks ahead. The engineer flipped the horn switch on continuously and set the emergency brake. As the train got closer, its headlight illuminated two figures ahead. One was outside trying to pry up the canopy on an aircraft fuselage, while the second one was pressing upward on the inside of the canopy. Two startled faces looked back at the fast approaching train.

Two seconds before the train hit the downed jet, the two figures shimmered and disappeared, just like a candle flame expiring for want of oxygen.

The train slammed into the solid mass on the tracks like a hot knife through butter. The resulting explosion lit up Manchester city centre for a whole 20 seconds before dying down. The sound was as deafening as thunder, shattering a few nearby windows.

The train, which stayed on the tracks, finally came to a rest 300 metres past the point of impact. The fires were quickly extinguished by the local fire brigade, which just happened to be in the area. Miraculously, no one aboard the train was killed. Even the conductor and engineer escaped without injury. The debris clean up lasted well into the night, but no traces of the two figures seen before the train hit them were ever found.

They had simply vanished!




It was midnight on Cloudbase. The chronometers had just changed from "OCT 31" to "NOV 01". Most of the Spectrum officers and Angels were gathered in the officers’ restaurant discussing the events of the day.

Plenty of seasonal food was available, like hot and cold apple cider, hot and cold sandwiches, pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. There were bowls of Halloween candy and sweets. Someone had even carved a jack-o-lantern in the shape of the Spectrum logo.

Colonel White entered and held up his hand for attention.

"I see that it is after midnight," he began. "That means the latest Mysteron threat is officially over. The Co-operative Group sent up the food you see here from their kitchen in One Angel Square, so I thought the restaurant was a more fitting venue for the debriefing. They had prepared extra food, in addition to what was in the atrium of the Co-op HQ building, and also sent some to the Spectrum branch near Manchester, as well as our colleagues in the local police and fire departments."

A murmur of appreciation went through the room.

The only two members of the day's drama that were missing finally came in. They were Dr. Fawn and Captain Scarlet. A respectful round of applause broke out and Colonel White once again held up his hand for silence.

"Captain Scarlet," White addressed his officer.

"Sir," Scarlet said smartly.

"I see Dr. Fawn has released you from Sick Bay," the colonel observed. "How is your arm?"

"Yes, sir," Scarlet responded. "My arm was broken in several places, but I talked Dr. Fawn into not making me wear a sling."

Dr. Fawn added, "Only after I talked Captain Scarlet into going on light duty for the next few days."

"I see. I think we can arrange that." Colonel White paused, looking over the men and women assembled before him. "I want to take this opportunity to say that I'm proud of the workmanlike way this latest threat was handled by the entire Spectrum organization. The teamwork displayed, not only amongst Spectrum officers and pilots, but between everyone involved, including the Spectrum Security members, local law enforcement and emergency management personnel, was worthy of a truly professional military organization."

Some handshakes and back-slapping went around the room at this rare show of praise from their commanding officer.

The colonel continued: "The Co-op Headquarters building at One Angel Square sustained relatively minimal damage and a preliminary report says everything should be repaired in time for the rescheduling of the symposium later this year. Unfortunately, I have to say we suffered two casualties. The two Spectrum Security pilots that were in the helicopter that was shot down."

A moment of silence was observed in honour of the two men and their families.

"Now to some business," the colonel said. "Lieutenant Green."

Green stood up and announced, "Telemetry from our Angel aircraft and the serial number from the interceptor engine left on the roof of the Co-op building, have definitely been identified as coming from the interceptors the Mysterons replicated years ago, when Destiny Angel was the subject of a Mysteron threat."

Destiny Angel spoke up, "But we saw those three interceptors destroyed back then, Lieutenant."

Colonel White said, "That's what makes this an important point. The Mysterons now have, or possibly always had, the ability to replicate something multiple times after first destroying it. They evidently store the pattern and can recall it at will whenever they need to.

"One more thing." White looked at his notes. "The data camera recorder from the train that collided with the crashed enemy fighter, shows a second person, besides the pilot, next to the fighter. It was Captain Black. The footage shows him and the pilot in the cockpit clearly disappearing just before the collision."

This produced another murmur in the crowd. To keep the atmosphere positive, White didn't state the obvious deduction based on what he just said.

Instead, he finished up by saying, "This concludes the debriefing. The restaurant will close at 0100 hours. I think we all deserve some well needed rest."

A little later before the colonel left the restaurant for the night, Captain Scarlet approached him privately and asked quietly, "Sir, do you think we'll see 'Tragedy Angel' again?"

White looked at his officer and replied, "It's possible, Captain, although I certainly hope not!"





Author's Note:


I would like to express my appreciation to Chris Bishop for the Spectrum Headquarters web site where an amazing collection of Captain Scarlet information is presented. Especially, the Chronology of the Captain Scarlet Universe and Cast of Characters pages compiled by Chris and other sources. I based the first parts of my story on them and expanded on some of the fan facts presented there.


Also appreciation is due to several Spectrum Headquarters Forum members who gave me some advice and encouragement as this is my very first foray into any type of fan fiction. I just let my imagination go where it wanted to and hope the result is coherent and entertaining to the reader.


I'd also like to acknowledge my beta readers, Chris Bishop, Marion Woods and Skybase Girl for adjusting my story when I strayed canonically, historically and grammatically.


Lastly, many thanks to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and their team for the TV programs all this is based on. I hope the above story honours their work and shows how we all appreciate the very large Sci-Fi universe they gave us to think about.


Some of the events first portrayed in the original Captain Scarlet series episodes The Mysterons and Seek and Destroy are referenced in this work.


The Co-Operative Group is a real organisation and their name and description of their headquarters building in Manchester, UK is used without their permission. After studying Wikipedia and saw their address is One Angel Square, how could I not use them? I tried to keep the perception of them, even in the year 2073, as positive as possible. This and other real-life facts just fell into place in my story.


Andrew J. Jones


October 2017













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