A ‘Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons’ short story for Halloween
Captain Black felt his mind drift into an uneasy sleep. The scene unfolded from the beginning:
The Martian Exploration Vehicle lumbered over the unfamiliar landscape as he scanned the horizon, searching for something to explain the strange signals Spectrum had monitored. Nothing to report so far, just a barren topography of dust and rocks.
“Well that about completes our patrol, Captain Black. Once again nothing to report.” That was Lieutenant Dean, and Black heard himself answer, “But those signals we monitored at Spectrum - they must have come from somewhere. Let’s just take a look over that ridge and then we’ll return to Earth.”
Captain Black stirred restlessly.
“Would you take a look at that!”
Lieutenant Dean’s exclamation when the MEV arrived at the ridge jolted Black into the next scene in the dream - something he could not have known during the original journey. He knew now, but if only he’d known then…
“THE FIRST OF THE EARTH SPACE TRAVELLERS HAVE ARRIVED. THEY TOO HAVE A CURIOSITY ABOUT THE UNIVERSE WE LIVE IN. WE MUST WELCOME THEM. LET US TAKE A CLOSER LOOK.”
Black groaned with the memory of what happened next.
“We’ve been spotted!”
“They’re getting ready to attack!” Lieutenant Dean again.
“OK Lieutenant. Let them have it!”
Captain Black did not think he could ever forget the destruction of the Martian complex - and its subsequent reconstruction. He should not have panicked. Years of discipline and training were seemingly forgotten in an instant. And why had he ordered them to wait and see? Would it have made any difference if he’d given the order to retreat? Probably not. He knew what was coming next…that chilling message.
“EARTHMEN, WE ARE PEACEFUL BEINGS AND YOU HAVE TRIED TO DESTROY US. BUT YOU CANNOT SUCCEED. YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR THIS ACT OF AGGRESSION. THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. WE KNOW YOU CAN HEAR US EARTHMEN. OUR RETALIATION WILL BE SLOW BUT NONE THE LESS EFFECTIVE. IT WILL MEAN THE ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION OF LIFE ON EARTH. IT WILL BE USELESS FOR YOU TO RESIST FOR WE HAVE DISCOVERED THE SECRET OF REVERSING MATTER, AS YOU HAVE JUST WITNESSED. ONE OF YOU WILL BE UNDER OUR CONTROL. YOU WILL BE INSTRUMENTAL IN AVENGING THE MYSTERONS.”
The message continued but Captain Black no longer listened. He saw himself frozen in time, trapped in the MEV with no means of escape. His life would never be the same again.
Out of tragedy, a partial success. Colonel White considered the loss of Captain Brown - a good officer who would surely be missed. But…the Mysterons did not succeed in their mission and incredibly, Captain Scarlet had recovered and returned to active service in a way the Colonel could never have envisaged. The worry now was; when would the Mysterons strike again…and where? It was all the more difficult perhaps to fight an enemy that could not be seen or felt, but only heard as a disembodied mechanical voice, but he would find a way. Colonel White had already begun drawing up contingency plans.
“THE MYSTERONS ALSO HAVE COMPASSION…” Captain Black wondered why he had said those words to Symphony Angel. HOW could he have, knowing nothing could be further from the truth? At least he wasn’t thinking about… No, better not to remember. The Mysterons had left him to his own thoughts, to sleep or at least return to inactivity until the next time. Had he been asleep? Not conscious at least, but truly sleeping? No, not this time. He always knew when he’d been asleep and that was because… Captain Black abruptly shied away from delving any further into the reasons; it was enough that he knew.
Sometimes he wondered what had happened to his crew in the MEV. But as time passed he thought about them less and less, until in the end it was a bitter truth to finally admit that he no longer cared. If they were dead then they were lucky. Here and now, Black was where THEY required him to be. And where was here? Sometimes, surprisingly it was in an ordinary city, doing ordinary things. Waiting. He had already found he could not break free. Try it and he’d disappear - into a kind of non-existence. Days, weeks, months or even longer might be lost forever if he crossed them again. Black supposed the Mysterons were studying him when he was left ‘alone’, perhaps they were studying the planet as well. All he knew was he no longer had control of his own fate. Not in this half-life he now lived. It was their words he said and their instructions to be followed, but in this last mission he had failed. Oddly enough they didn’t seem to care. No retribution, even though he’d expected it. All was quiet. Captain Black felt he’d been cast adrift - all he could hear was an eerie silence in his own mind.
Colonel White sat at his console unwilling for the moment to relinquish command even though he would soon be off duty. Who was on night duty? Oh yes, Captain Ochre. Following the latest incident with Captain Black, Colonel White considered how much information had been gleaned about the Mysterons. Not nearly enough, if truth be told. That they were not infallible was already a fact. Their first mistake was undoubtedly losing control of Captain Scarlet. And as for the Mysterons’ second mistake…hmm. Things had not quite gone to plan despite all his hard work, and the best efforts of his officers.
Colonel White got up abruptly and walked towards the observation tube. He stepped inside and gazed towards the cloud-covered blue planet below, wondering where Captain Black was now. White collected his thoughts and considered what had been learned so far. The Mysterons’ second mistake was when Black became detectable due to the radioactive isotope. But even then, Spectrum had failed to capitalise on that advantage and Captain Black had escaped. The Colonel privately admitted he had not liked explaining that detail to the World President in his report. Two days they’d had to find the Mysteron agent and still he’d got away. It was too close to reminding him what had been whispered in World Government circles ever since the Zero-X incident: just how much was Spectrum to blame in the first instance for what happened on Mars? Captain Black was a Spectrum officer - one of his most competent and trusted men and the ideal choice for the Mars mission. The logical choice…but what a tragic mistake that had turned out to be. What in heaven’s name had happened to Conrad up there?
He’d had that dream again. He awoke with a start and realised he could sense the alien malevolence that heralded a message from THEM. He got up calmly and waited for instructions. Then suddenly he was elsewhere, driving a car. Momentarily disoriented until the knowledge of his mission filled his mind, he drove on until his quarry was in sight. He knew what he had to do - kill Dr Magnus and have the reconstruct carry out the Mysteron threat. Black thought it was needlessly complicated, like many of the Mysterons’ instructions. HE would be more direct, but despite their promise to destroy Earth, the methods used were probably some kind a game to the Mysterons. They apparently did not see any reason to hurry. Black detected no sense of anger if they failed nor any feeling of triumph if they succeeded. It was all the same to them, a slow and steady inexorable march towards the destruction of life on Earth.
Afterwards Captain Black reviewed the progress of the Mysterons’ war against Earth. The plan to kill General Tiempo had not gone well and Spectrum had discovered yet more anomalies between Earthmen and the Mysteron reconstructs. Damn Magnus for his carelessness. Spectrum also made the discovery that electricity could kill his people. No, not his. Never his. Theirs. He was not a reconstruction. But there was someone who was – or had been – one of them. Black wondered if it was possible to capture Scarlet and return him to the Mysteron’s control. If he could make Captain Scarlet his prisoner then use him to bargain with the Mysterons - give them Scarlet in return for his freedom. Maybe then he could finally be free…
But for the moment there were more pressing concerns. Captain Black watched the fallout from the Tiempo debacle continue and realised there were new problems to be overcome. Acting on the information they had gleaned from what happened to Dr Magnus, Spectrum scientists had built a Mysteron detector and a weapon that could kill the reconstructs. Captain Black felt the first real stirrings of alarm when he discovered just how far Spectrum had advanced. His life was bound up with that of his captors – and after the Mysteronised Captain Indigo had failed in his mission, for the moment they had gone silent on what Black should do. If Spectrum succeeded and they were destroyed, what would happen to him?
Colonel White reviewed Spectrum’s progress against the Mysterons so far. Real progress at last! The Mysteron gun was in production ahead of schedule and the manufacture and distribution of the detectors were also on track. True, they both had a range of only about 50 yards and were somewhat cumbersome but it was a start and he was very confident Spectrum’s scientists would soon come up with improvements. Colonel White was almost buoyant with optimism. The tide had definitely turned. Colonel White allowed himself to hope that the day would come when Spectrum would triumph and the Mysterons would be defeated.
His words to Symphony Angel had indeed been a lie, the Mysterons had no compassion. No humanity, no pity, no mercy and certainly no forgiveness. They’d given him a choice though – to exist in nothingness until activated in their service, or he could retain his sense of self and remain on Earth when they didn’t need him. It was much as he expected, to have to make a decision that once made could not be changed. Just like on Mars… He’d taken the second option of course, even though he soon realised it was a promise kept only when it suited THEM. In the beginning he’d even hoped he might have used the time to find a way to escape their control.
A faint hope - Mysteron control was worse than anything he could ever have imagined.
In the beginning he grasped any opportunity to retain his original identity and survive - until he realised it was pointless. Even then Captain Black could not see with every passing day his humanity was being eroded and that over time his thoughts seemed more and more integrated with those of his captors. He no longer considered escaping. The gauntness of his features and ghostly pallor were just the physical manifestations of the Mysterons’ control of a shadow, once human, gradually being consumed from within. They made him think about the consequences of his actions, and increasingly he could live with what he had done in their name. In time their mission had become his mission. If Captain Black had ever expected forgiveness - or some small measure of peace - as a reward for years in their service, it was not forthcoming. And it never would be.
On the occasions he was left alone a weariness came over him and he slept…and then it started. The Mysteron induced dream. The only dream he could ever have… the only dream they would let him have…to be relived over and over…to remind him of his folly and the war with Earth that he alone had caused.
Captain Black closed his eyes and not for the first time, he wished he’d opted for complete oblivion when, almost without pause, sleep overcame him and the familiar scene unfolded…
The MEV lumbered over the Martian landscape as he scanned the horizon, searching for something to explain the strange signals Spectrum had monitored. Nothing to report so far….
T H E E N D
This story is based on characters created by Gerry And Sylvia Anderson for the TV series “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons and all other series titles, all their characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram. Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, TV medias, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton. The episodes referred to are: The Mysterons, Manhunt, Operation Time and Spectrum Strikes Back.
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