A ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ story
by Hilary Perry
The blazing midday sun beat down relentlessly on the trio of aircraft clamped to the flight deck of Cloudbase. At 40,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, Spectrum’s aerial headquarters hovered effortlessly under the blue sky.
Strapped in her seat in the lead aircraft sat Harmony Angel, one of Spectrum’s team of women pilots. Glancing at her watch for the fifth time in as many minutes she saw with relief that her spell of duty was over at last. Reaching out to press a switch on the instrument panel, Harmony closed her eyes and rubbed the back of her neck tiredly as her seat sank down into the Amber Room.
Gazing across the shimmering runway Melody stood by the window idly swinging her crash helmet. Sighing she turned towards the others. ‘Well, here comes Harmony. I guess I’d better go and roast in the cockpit for a few hours!’
Rhapsody laughed. ‘You know you enjoy hot weather, Melody,’ she said.
‘Yeah, but when I’m sitting on a beach, not under a perspex canopy!’ As she spoke Melody made her way to the seat Harmony had just vacated. ‘See you later.’ The doors closed silently and within seconds she was locked into the cockpit.
* * *
Elsewhere on Cloudbase most people were taking the opportunity to relax. In recent weeks there had been little time for rest, as the Mysterons had kept Spectrum at full stretch.
‘1 think I’d forgotten what it was like to have nothing to do,’ Captain Blue remarked with a wry grin.
‘I know what you mean!’ As he spoke, Captain Scarlet pushed Blue’s feet off the table and threw down the book he had been reading. ‘I wonder how long we’ll have this time?’
‘Not long enough!’ grumbled Magenta from the other side of the room where he was staring out of the window. ‘You know, it must be murder sitting in that aircraft for four hours at a time. It must be so hot.’
‘Well, they do have air conditioning to help keep them cool.’ Scarlet sounded doubtful.
Silence fell over the room again as they enjoyed the rare luxury of idleness.
* * *
Alone in the Control Room, Lieutenant Green sat back in his chair and swung his feet upon to the communications console. Closing his eyes he was gradually starting to doze off when a door slammed. Opening his eyes abruptly, Green was horrified to see Colonel White standing there.
‘Oh... er... Colonel, sir… er...’ His voice tailed away in embarrassment.
‘Nothing to do, Lieutenant?’ The colonel’s voice was icy as he surveyed the scene.
Before Green could say any more a cold voice came out of the radio:
This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. Your unprovoked attack on our complex on Mars has not been forgotten. Our revenge will be slow but nonetheless complete. Within two weeks those who once ruled the Earth will do so again. Do you hear us, Earthmen? Your past will become your future!
For a moment Cloudbase was still as the sound of the Mysterons’ threat faded away. Scarlet, Blue and Magenta looked at each other in silence.
‘Well,’ murmured Magenta eventually. ‘That will teach us to keep our mouths shut when we’ve got a chance to relax!’
Before anyone could answer, Lieutenant Green’s voice came over the radio. ‘Will all personnel report to the conference room in five minutes.’
With a sigh Scarlet heaved himself out of his chair. ‘Here we go again!’ be groaned as be led the way down the corridor.
* * *
Colonel White took his scat in the centre of the table and looked at his staff. ‘Well, ladies and gentlemen, you have all heard the latest threat from the Mysterons.’
‘Cryptic as ever.’ grumbled Captain Ochre. ‘Why can’t they just say what they mean?’
‘Thank you, Captain, but maybe we should just be grateful for any information from them at all,’ chided the colonel quietly. So, we have to work out who or what the Mysterons intend to attack next. Their threat is a difficult one to decipher. Does anyone have any ideas?’
No-one answered. Looking at the blank faces around him Colonel White sighed. This certainly was a difficult one, and he had no suggestions to make either.
Hesitantly Destiny spoke up. ‘Sir, so many people have ruled the Earth, but now they are all dead. Surely the Mysterons cannot bring people back to life after hundreds or even thousands of years.’
‘We don’t know what the Mysterons may be capable of Destiny,’ put in Blue. ‘They seem to have powers we cannot begin to understand.’
Silence fell over the room once more. Everyone exchanged hopeless glances, waiting for a flash of inspiration that never came.
Eventually the colonel stood up. ‘Well,’ he said decisively, ‘we must solve this as soon as possible. I want you to monitor all news broadcasts and carefully scan all papers. We must find out what the Mysterons intend to do. That will be all.’
* * *
As the colonel left the room, Captain Grey stood up and walked across to the window. ‘That will be all!’ he echoed with a groan. ‘Does he realise just how many broadcasts and papers are held in the computer banks each day? And we have no idea what we are looking for!’
‘Oh, I wouldn’t say that.’ Captain Scarlet grinned at his colleagues as he sat back in his chair. ‘We are looking for someone who has ruled the Earth. That narrows it down a bit!’ He yelped as the empty coffee cup Rhapsody threw at him hit its target.
Slowly they wandered out of the room discussing the threat. The Angels returned to the Amber Room, and the five Captains wandered into the lounge, each of them settling themselves in front of the computer terminals to check through the last few days’ news items.
* * *
The next evening they were no nearer a solution. Looking up with a yawn from the computer screen he had been studying, Magenta rubbed his hands over his eyes. ‘It’s no good,’ he remarked. ‘I’m having trouble reading all of this, never mind making sense of it. All we have done for the last twenty four hours is look at these damned computer screens!’
‘Yeah,’ replied Blue. ‘And we’re not even sure we’re using the right keywords! We’re just stumbling around in the dark.’
‘If I have to check one more item I shall scream.’ Destiny looked as frustrated as she sounded. ‘Do you think we shall ever discover what the Mysterons mean?’
‘I don’t know,’ Melody sighed hopelessly. ‘Do you think we have missed an obvious keyword?’ She frowned at her keyboard. ‘I’ve tried kings, queens, rulers, leaders...’
‘Got it!’ yelled Scarlet, thumping the table. As his colleagues gaped at him in amazement he stood up. ‘Dinosaurs!’ he added by way of explanation and dashed out of the door.
There was a stunned silence as he disappeared. For a moment no-one moved, then as one they all started to their feet and hurried in pursuit of their colleague.
‘Has he gone mad?’ Ochre sounded hopeful. ‘Maybe being indestructible has become too much for him - dinosaurs indeed!’
Rushing around the corner they came face to face with a grim-faced Colonel White. ‘No, Captain Ochre. Captain Scarlet has not gone mad; I fear he has discovered the meaning of the Mysteron threat. I want you all in the conference room in ten minutes.’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Blue to the colonel’s retreating back.
* * *
‘Captain Scarlet, would you please tell everyone exactly what you have found.’ Colonel White looked at his staff from his seat at the centre of the circular conference table.
‘Yes, Colonel.’ Scarlet waved the piece of paper he was holding in the air, ‘It’s a copy of a page from yesterday’s Siberian Times. Apparently there is going to be an exhibition of dinosaur skeletons at a town called Viadimur. Five palaeontologists are taking their specimens. After fire days they will embark on a world tour lasting a further month. This will be the first time in years that so many complete skeletons have been in one place at the same time.’
There was a moment’s silence, then Ochre sat forward, a confused frown on his face. ‘Sure,’ he said softly. ‘There was a time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, figuratively speaking, but how can the Mysterons use a few skeletons? After all, it’s nothing more than a load of old bones!’
Magenta nodded. ‘That’s right. Even the Mysterons need the original item in order to reconstruct it.’
Colonel White handed each of his staff a sheet of paper. ‘This is an article from last month’s copy of Natural History World, a scientific magazine in which one of the scientists involved has written an article about his find. I suggest you all read it as soon as possible, but basically he explains that although the skeletons were fossilised in the normal way small amounts of the original bones have remained unaltered — a remarkable occurrence, apparently. Also, large amounts of amber have been found near the site of each discovery.’
As the colonel paused Grey looked at the others in turn. ‘So?’ he muttered. ‘What’s the significance of amber?’
‘Hold on...’ put in Blue, gazing thoughtfully into space. ‘This reminds me of something.’ He paused for a moment while the others watched him in silence. ‘I remember,’ he went on. ‘When I went home for a couple of days last year my niece made me watch this old movie... Now what was its name... Something ‘Park’.’ His face lit up as he finally remembered: ‘Jurassic Park’!’ he exclaimed triumphantly.
‘What Park?’ Scarlet gave his friend a pitying look.
‘Jurassic Park. It was all about some guy who managed to recreate dinosaurs from minute traces of their DNA. It came from blood inside insects which had been perfectly preserved in amber...’
His voice trailed off, and for a few moments there was silence in the room. At last the colonel spoke again.
‘I think you are right, Captain Blue. That would tie in with the information in this article. We know the Mysterons have the ability to recreate life from apparently dead remains. The idea of reconstructing long-dead dinosaurs would seem to be an extreme case, but... well, who knows the limits of the Mysterons’ power? We will have to watch these specimens and the additional exhibits very carefully. As you know, there are five dinosaurs being taken to Vladimur. This is a small town some thirty miles north-east of Moscow. Although the town has a population of only twenty-five thousand people it is the site of one of the largest exhibition centres in Russia, second only to the building outside Kiev. The dinosaurs are being transported from various parts of the world to arrive at the centre the day after tomorrow.’
Grey voiced the question they all wanted to ask. ‘How can we watch them all?’
Colonel White looked at each of them in turn. ‘The information we have is as follows: A Pterodactyl is being transported from Moscow accompanied by one Professor Anton Radetski; Dr. Patrick Magee is taking a diplodocus from Dublin; Dr. Roger Peterson and his dimetrodon will be travelling form Sydney. From New York are coming Professor John White and his brontosaurus. And lastly, Dr. Pedro Gonzales will be transporting his stegosaurus from Lima.’
For a moment there was silence again. Groaning, Rhapsody looked at Symphony. ‘No sleep for us again,’ she murmured quietly. Colonel White heard her and turned an icy frown on her. She shifted uncomfortably. ‘Sorry, sir.’
Destiny spoke. ‘How will we supervise the transport of these creatures, Colonel?’
‘Each of you will leave immediately for one of the scientist’s homes.’ He looked at the five captains. ‘You will each travel from here in an SPJ. Once at your destination you will accompany the transporter by means of whatever transport is appropriate. Some of these... creatures, will be carried by road and sea, others will be flown part of the way and then transferred to road transport. An Angel will escort each of you.’
‘Do these scientists know what we are doing?’ asked Blue.
‘Yes, captain. Lieutenant Green has advised each of them by radio. They are seemingly only too happy to wait for us - they appear to think that the more protection their valuable specimens get the better.’
Magenta asked Colonel White who was to go to each town. ‘Captain Scarlet, you will go to Moscow; Rhapsody will accompany you. Captain Magenta, you and Harmony take Dublin. Captain Ochre and Destiny, Sydney. Captain Blue and Symphony, New York. Captain Grey, you and Melody will leave for Lima. Any further questions?’ There were none. Colonel White stood up. ‘Very well,’ he continued. ‘The Spectrum Passenger Jets wilt leave in thirty minutes. Make sure you have all the equipment you need, and maintain frequent radio contact.’ Colonel White left the room as everyone else stood up.
* * *
Sitting at his desk in the Control Room, Colonel White watched the monitors showing the purposeful activity on the flight-deck.
Snapping out orders in rapid succession Lieutenant Green organised the departure of three SPJs and all five Angel Interceptors. As silence descended once more over the huge structure Green looked up from his communications console. ‘What do you think the Mysterons could possibly do with the dinosaurs, Colonel? he asked.
‘I don’t know, Lieutenant. But you can be sure that it won’t be to our benefit. I just hope we can work out what it is before it’s too late.’
‘It’s all so fantastic, sir.’
‘Yes,’ agreed the Colonel. ‘It is.’
* * *
Dublin airport was cloaked in darkness as a Spectrum Passenger Jet touched down; it was past midnight. Magenta leapt out with a wave to Scarlet and made his way to the control tower. As the jet lifted off again Harmony landed in her Angel and taxied to the hangars.
After completing the airport’s formalities the two Spectrum agents drove towards the scientist’s house. In spite of the lateness of the hour lights were still blazing from the windows as the saloon car pulled up outside the gate. As Magenta led the way up the path the front door opened.
‘Good evening to you both! Paddy Magee’s the name. You must be the personal escort. Come in and have some good old Irish whisky!’
‘Thank you, sir, that would be nice.’ Magenta started to follow the Professor, and then turned in surprise as Harmony’s fingers dug into his ribs. ‘Ow!’ he exclaimed, frowning at her. He turned back to Professor Magee. ‘Er, well, maybe we ought to have coffee instead - after all, we are on duty.’ Harmony managed to subdue a snort of amusement at Magenta’s expression of mixed self-righteousness and disappointment.
Professor Magee led the way into his lounge. He hastily cleared a pile of papers off each of the chairs.
‘Sit down, sit down!’
It was the early hours of the morning before the Professor stopped talking about his beloved dinosaur. Glancing at Harmony, Magenta looked at the Professor again. ‘What time do we leave for Moscow, sir?’ he asked.
‘We have to get the 8.30 ferry from Cork to Fishguard, young man. How does this beautiful lady assist in the escort?’
‘Harmony will provide continual aerial cover while I drive behind you to keep an eye on things from ground level. Might I suggest we get a few hours’ rest now, sir - it will be a long drive.’
* * *
Meanwhile, Captain Scarlet and Rhapsody had received a very different welcome. Arriving at Moscow International Airport an hour after leaving Dublin, both the Passenger Jet and Rhapsody’s Angel aircraft had been met by armed guards. Production of their Spectrum passes had mollified the guards a little, but still they had been taken to the control tower under armed escort. It took some time for the security staff to check their papers, but eventually they arrived at Professor Radetski’s house. The lights were out, and there was no reply to Scarlet’s knock. Returning to the car, he looked at Rhapsody.
‘Well,’ he said with a grimace as he shut the door. ‘It looks like we are stuck here for the night.’
Rhapsody looked at him in dismay. ‘Are you sure there is no-one in?’
‘If there is they aren’t opening the door!’
With a groan Rhapsody settled herself lower in her seat and glared at the apparently deserted house.
* * *
The SPJ landed at New York airport, closely followed by Symphony Angel. Jumping out, Captain Blue waved as the jet took off again, bound for Lima. He walked over to the bustling terminal building where a uniformed security officer was waiting for him.
‘You must be from Spectrum.’
‘That’s right,’ replied Blue. ‘I’m due to meet Professor White here this afternoon.’
‘Yes, sir. We have the, er, specimen under guard. The Prof. wants to leave in about half an hour. Come with me and I’ll introduce you.’
Professor White looked up form the book he was reading as Blue and the security officer approached him. ‘Hi, there. I guess you must be my escort. Do you really think it is necessary’?’
‘Yes, we do. WE can’t afford to take any chances.’
‘But what can these Mysterons do? How can they use a few skeletons?’
‘We don’t exactly know, Professor. But we will maintain a constant watch at all times. Hopefully we will be able to defeat the Mysterons before they even start whatever it is they plan to do.’
‘Okay. Well, let’s go.’ Leading the way to the cargo hold of the waiting aircraft, the Professor supervised the loading of the crate containing the dinosaur. Once securely installed, the Professor climbed into the pilot’s seat. Swinging himself into the other seat, Blue looked across and grinned at the other man. ‘Okay, pal,’ he said. ‘Let’s go!’ Within minutes the aircraft was thundering down the runway, followed by Symphony.
* * *
Lima was fogbound. Looking out of the aircraft’s window, Captain Grey frowned. ‘Are we going to be able to land here?’ he asked the pilot.
‘Sure,’ was the reply. ‘We’ll be able to touch down okay, but there’s no way Melody can. This murk goes down to within a few feet of the ground.’
A tense silence fell over the cockpit. Slowly, his eyes fixed on his instruments, the pilot gradually brought the ’plane to rest in the middle of what he hoped was the main runway. Breathing a sigh of relief, Grey rubbed his hand over his eyes. ‘Phew!’ he muttered. ‘Which way is the Control Tower?’
‘I’m not sure,’ replied the pilot doubtfully. ‘I think it’s that way. Or is it over there?’
Suddenly, out of the gloom, a police car appeared. Leaping from the driver’s seat, a smiling officer approached the aircraft. ‘You are from Spectrum? This way please, Senor. I will take you to meet Senor Gonzales, and then we will wait for this fog to leave us!’
As he left the warmth of the aircraft’s cockpit, Captain Grey heard the drone of Melody’s aircraft circling overhead. ‘I hope it will soon disperse,’ he muttered. Almost before he had shut the door the driver swung the car around and headed into the gloom at breakneck speed. Eyes tightly shut, Grey gripped the sides of this seat. With a squeal of tyres the car skidded to a halt. Gingerly opening one eye he released his breath in along sigh. The driver looked at him with a wide grin. ‘You liked the ride, yes?’
‘No!’ Grey’s retort was emphatic. Heading for the safety of the building, he walked up to the only other person in sight. ‘Senor Gonzales?’ he asked.
‘Yes - you must be from Spectrum. You have come to look after me and my little pet, have you not?’
Looking at the size of the crate which was ready to be loaded into the cargo hold of the waiting aircraft, Grey glanced sideways at his companion. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I suppose I have!’
* * *
It was almost three hours before Captain Ochre reached Sydney. The heat was shimmering over the busy airport as he brought the SPJ in to land near the terminal building. Before he had taken more than half a dozen paces towards the control tower, Destiny taxied slowly up. Waving to her, Ochre entered the welcome coolness of the building. Lounging against the wall was a tall, longhaired man. Seeing the Spectrum Captain,, he wandered over, hand outstretched in greeting. ‘You must be my personal escort!’ he said.
‘Yes,’ replied Ochre, taking his hand. ‘And you must be Professor Peterson.’
‘Sure, but call me Roger. I can’t stand all this formality.’ Smiling, he took hold of Ochre’s arm and led him back outside. ‘The aircraft is loaded I ready. Let’s go, shall we? I’m impatient to get to see five complete dinosaur skeletons together under one roof!’
* * *
Darkness came early to the sleepy town of Vladimur. The small town was peaceful, with very few people moving around. Suddenly the silence was shattered by the roar of a heavy transporter. Through the gloom the headlights lit up the road ahead as Professor Radetski drove his precious cargo along the main street and pulled up ‘ outside the vast exhibition centre.
Captain Scarlet drew up behind him in a Spectrum Saloon Car, while overhead Rhapsody circled around the town. As Scarlet opened the door Radetski thrust his head in to the car. ‘I knew there would be no trouble!’ He glared at Scarlet. ‘It is a waste of time you being here!’
‘Well, it’s my job,’ replied Scarlet, resisting the impulse to punch the scientist on the nose. Professor Radetski bad been decidedly unpleasant every time he approached Scarlet.
‘Hmmph!’ The Professor withdrew his head from the car and strode back to the transporter. Scarlet walked over to join him, and in silence they started to unfasten the ropes securing the crate.
Scarlet’s epaulettes flashed and his cap mike swung down. ‘Rhapsody Angel to Captain Scarlet.’
‘Go ahead, Rhapsody.’
‘I can see another transporter approaching the village. It’s about forty miles away. Other than that there is very little traffic and no sign of trouble. No aircraft are in the vicinity other than the Angel escorting the approaching transporter.’
‘S.I.G., Rhapsody. You’d better return to Cloudbase.’
‘S.I.G.’ As she spoke, Rhapsody turned her aircraft and disappeared into the dark sky.
Before the second transporter arrived, Radetski’s crated dinosaur was in the exhibition hall. The local police force had been drafted in to help both with setting up the display and providing security, and at the moment they were standing around the hall chatting excitedly to one another.
* * *
By midnight, the complete exhibition was assembled and almost ready for the following day’s opening. The Angels had returned to Cloudbase and the scientists had disappeared to their hotel. Blue looked around the hall with a self-satisfied smile.
‘I think we’ve done a great job organising this,’ he commented.
Magenta glared at him. ‘As far as I could see, all you did was give the orders.’
‘Yeah,’ added Ochre. ‘And spent most of the time sitting down!’
Scarlet grinned at his colleagues. ‘Okay, you guys, that’s enough! Everyone knows I did most of the heavy work around here!’
Grey waved his fist under Scarlet’s nose. ‘Huh!’ he snorted. ‘You did almost as little as Blue!’
Laughing, they made their way through the building to the main entrance, checking the security as they went. Once outside, Ochre closed and locked the main door. Handing the key to the officer waiting on the pavement, he said, ‘We’ll see you at 0830hrs. Don’t forget, under no circumstances must this door be opened until we return.’
‘Very good, sir.’ The policeman saluted as the Spectrum Captains headed for their hotel.
* * *
Inside the Exhibition Centre, the moonlight cast eerie shadows over the walls. The five perfect skeletons stood on the platform, barely visible in the darkness. Suddenly, materialising out of nowhere, a tall man appeared. As he moved into a patch of moonlight, the pallor of his face stood out in stark contrast to the blackness of his clothes. Walking closer to the exhibits, his expressionless eyes glanced briefly at the dinosaurs before staring intently at the glass cases containing the specimens of amber, each piece containing a perfectly preserved insect. As he stood there a thin beam of pale green light stabbed down through one of the skylights. Forming two haloes, it played over the cases of amber and then concentrated on each of the skeletons in turn.
At last the green light disappeared. Casting a final glance at the exhibition in front of him, Captain Black faded once more into thin air.
* * *
It was snowing when Captain Scarlet woke up the next morning. Gazing out at the wintry scene he breathed a deep sigh.
‘What’s up, buddy?’ Captain Blue sat up sleepily.
‘Not two days ago we were roasting, now we are going to freeze!’ grumbled Scarlet.
‘Stop complaining!’ Swinging his legs out of bed Blue stood up and wandered over to join Scarlet.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ he continued with a faint grin, looking sideways at his colleague.
With a snort, Scarlet turned away. ‘I’m just glad I haven’t been standing outside that exhibition centre all night the way those police officers have!’
* * *
After a quick breakfast, Magenta led the way out of the door. Reaching the exhibition centre just before half past eight the Spectrum captains were greeted by a cold but cheerful police officer.
‘Good morning,’ he greeted them. ‘You slept well, I trust?’
‘Yes, thanks,’ replied Ochre. ‘Everything okay here?’
‘No trouble at all.’ As he spoke, the police officer unlocked the door. Magenta led the way in, switching on the lights as he passed.
As he approached the exhibition stage, Scarlet stopped abruptly and stood swaying slightly. Grey looked at him as he passed a hand over his face. ‘What’s wrong, Scarlet?’ he asked anxiously.
‘Strange,’ muttered Scarlet, looking around the hall. ‘Got that dizzy feeling I sometimes get when there’s a Mysteron around. But there’s no-one else here.’ He shook his head slightly. ‘Surely I didn’t just imagine it?’
Before anyone could reply, the door was flung open and the scientists strode in. As one, they stopped and stared at the sight that met their eyes. There, on the raised floor of the display area, was the culmination of many years work for all of them, now almost ready for the public.
Gonzales was the first to move. ‘Come on,’ he said in a hushed voice. ‘We must make the final preparations.’
‘Yes,’ added Magee. ‘If these dinosaurs aren’t lit up when the public come in they will be wanting their money back!’
Blue looked at Scarlet, who had not moved since the scientists entered the room. ‘What’s wrong?’ he asked softly. ‘You still look a bit strange.’
‘I’m not sure,’ replied Scarlet. ‘You and the others stay here and keep an eye on things. I’m going to get a Mysteron detector.’
‘You don’t think one of the scientists has been got at, do you?’
‘1 don’t know. But I did get that feeling just before they came in. I won’t be long.’ Scarlet turned abruptly and dashed out of the door.
Unlocking the boot of his car, Scarlet suddenly froze. He had a strong feeling that he was being watched. Loosening his gun in its holster, he slowly turned around. The street was deserted. Frowning, he turned back to the and reached in for the detector. Slinging the strap over his shoulder he locked the car again and started back to the exhibition centre. Still unable to shake off the sensation of being watched, he shivered as he entered the hall. What was the matter with him this morning, he wondered, feeling mildly annoyed with himself.
Ochre looked around as Scarlet returned. ‘Who are you going to use that on?’ he asked, indicating the detector.
‘The scientists first, then the police officers.’
Scarlet still looked distracted as he lifted the camera and pressed the button for the first picture.
* * *
Outside, the snow was falling faster now. Standing in a doorway, Captain Black did not feel the cold as he watched Scarlet hurry back to the exhibition centre. ‘So,’ he said softly, a faint smile touching his lips. ‘Captain Scarlet suspects one of the scientists to be a Mysterons agent, does he? He will never guess the truth!’ Taking no notice of the driving snow, be left his hiding place and walked openly along the street.
* * *
At last the display was complete. Stepping back to admire their handiwork, the scientists smiled at each other.
‘Professor Radetski,’ said Peterson hoarsely. ‘We are in your country - you have the honour of lighting our first exhibition!’ He stood back to allow the Russian access to the lighting control panel as the Spectrum Captains stepped forward silently to watch. There was a breathless anticipation in the ball as Radetski reached Out a hand that shook slightly. With his finger poised over the switch, he paused and looked at his colleagues.
‘Gentlemen,’ he said, his voice charged with emotion. ‘This is the culmination of years of work for each of us. I declare this exhibition well and truly - alight!’ As he spoke the last word, Radetski pressed the switch and the display lights came on, together with a cloud of smoke from the liquid nitrogen canisters which quickly settled down into a thin mist over the exhibits. There was a gasp from all of those watching.
‘It’s...eerie!’ breathed Grey with a shudder. ‘Say, what’s wrong, Scarlet?’
Scarlet staggered and put a hand on the wall to support himself. ‘Mysterons - somewhere. I can definitely sense it. The feeling’s stronger this time, too.’
‘Are you sure?’ Blue put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘Everyone in here has been checked with the detector. They all proved negative.’
Scarlet shook his head. The sensation was passing off now. ‘I’m okay,’ he said, looking around in bewilderment. ‘But there must be a Mysteron around somewhere! When I went outside to get the detector I had the strangest feeling that I was being watched. I wish they would make their move - at least then we would have something tangible to deal with!’ Frustration made his voice sharp.
‘I guess Captain Black could be around somewhere.’ Magenta looked around the hall. ‘We wouldn’t be able to see him unless he wanted us to!’
‘You’re probably right.’ Scarlet pushed himself away from the wall and walked towards the main door. ‘Come on, everything is ready now, and it’s time for the grand opening!’
‘You sure you’re okay now?’ asked Blue as he joined Scarlet by the entrance.
‘Yes. Don’t worry about me.’ Scarlet paused, then looked at Blue in consternation. ‘1 suppose we ought to check everyone who comes through the exhibition!’
‘Oh, heck, I hadn’t thought of that!’ Blue gestured to the others. ‘We’d better go and get the other detectors from the car.’
* * *
The weather hadn’t deterred the people from visiting the exhibition. From the time that the doors were opened to the public at two o’clock that afternoon, a steady stream of people filed in. Watching their expressions as they saw the dinosaurs brought smiles of satisfaction to the faces of the five scientists. This exhibition was going to be more successful than they had dared to hope!
In the four hours the doors were open, over five hundred people had entered. Each one had been checked with a Mysteron detector, and each one had proved negative.
* * *
Standing in a shadowy doorway once again, Captain Black watched the Spectrum personnel at work. As before, a mirthless smile played about his lips. ‘All that wasted effort!’ he murmured. ‘What fools these Earthmen are - even those who work for Spectrum!’
* * *
The doors were shut and the vast hall fell silent once more. Professor White reached out a hand and switched off the power to the display lights. ‘Well,’ he said tiredly, ‘four more days like this and we will have recouped our costs for the entire world tour! I never imagined1 we would see this many in such an out-of-the-way little town.’
Radetski glared at him. ‘It may be only a small town, but Russia is proud of her second largest exhibition centre!’
Ochre interrupted them. ‘Gentlemen, please. If you could return to your hotel we will be able to lock up the hall.’
As one, the scientists turned and walked silently out into the cold evening. Closing the door behind them Grey yawned tiredly. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘not one Mysteron all afternoon. I wonder if they will come here after all.’
‘We’ll just have to keep checking everyone until the end of the show.’ Magenta rubbed the back of his neck as he spoke. ‘Boy, am I fed up of using that detector.’
Blue smiled. ‘Never mind. You can have a rest until tomorrow. Let’s go and get something to eat. I’m starving.’
Handing the key to the police officer waiting outside the main door, Scarlet again had the feeling that someone, somewhere, was watching him. He shivered suddenly.
‘Cold?’ queried Ochre.
‘No...’ Scarlet hesitated. ‘Someone just walked over my grave, I suppose.’ His keen eyes searched the street, trying to pierce the shadows.
‘Come off it,’ grinned Blue, slapping him on the back. ‘I didn’t think you indestructible types had graves!’ The smile Scarlet gave was rather strained, and didn’t quite reach his eyes. ‘Let’s just keep our eyes and ears open as we go back to the hotel, shall we?’ he suggested quietly.
* * *
The rest of the exhibition passed quickly. Spectrum continued to check everyone entering the hall with a detector, but no Mysteron agents appeared. Scarlet was unable to shake off the sensation of being watched, but none of his colleagues felt the same way. By the end of the week he had almost managed to convince himself that it was all in his imagination, and stopped mentioning it to the others.
At last the doors were shut behind the final visitor. The scientists congratulated each other excitedly, while all the Spectrum men wanted to do was to sit down. Over seven and a half thousand people had passed through the doors. Now, at long last, the dinosaurs shrouded in darkness, and the hall was silent once more.
After a few moments, Professor Peterson shook his head ruefully. ‘Well, this won’t get things cleared away. We’ve got to head for our next site tomorrow.’
* * *
Gradually, over the next few hours, the exhibition was dismantled. By midnight the dinosaurs were stowed in their crates and ready to load on to the transporters. Looking around the hall Scarlet felt more strongly then ever that someone was watching them. Taking Blue by the arm he walked away from the others.
For a moment Scarlet said nothing, trying to collect his thoughts. Watching him, Blue felt uneasy at the expression in his eyes. ‘Paul,’ he said quietly. ‘Are you okay? You look kinda...strange.’
Scarlet looked at his friend. ‘Adam, can’t you feel it?’ At Blue’s questioning glance Scarlet shrugged his shoulders. ‘Obviously not,’ he continued, grimacing slightly. ‘Someone - or something - is definitely watching us.’
‘Come on, pal, you’re just imagining it. You’ve been feeling like this all week and nothing has happened.’ Blue tried to grin, but failed miserably. Scarlet in this mood always unsettled him. ‘You’re just spooked because of these dinosaurs.’ If only he felt more certain of that...
‘No.’ Scarlet was insistent. ‘I just feel that there is a terrible danger near. I’m not going back to the hotel tonight. I’ll stay here with these crates to make sure nothing happens.’
‘I’ll slay with you.’ Blue’s offer was immediate and Scarlet nodded his acceptance.
The scientists were finally persuaded that they had done all they could until the following morning and reluctantly left the hall, Ochre wandered over to Blue and Scarlet. ‘Are you guys going to stay here all night?’ he joked. Scarlet’s brief nod took him by surprise. ‘What’s wrong?’ he breathed.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Scarlet. ‘Look, will you requisition an SPV first thing in the morning? There’s one about a mile down the road.’
‘Sure. Are you expecting to meet trouble?’
‘I’m not sure. Lock us in when you go, won’t you?’
Ochre, Magenta, and Grey wandered slowly back to the hotel, yawning loudly.
‘I shall be glad to get back to Cloudbase again,’ commented Grey as he left the hall. ‘I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep all week!’
* * *
Outside the hall Captain Black watched the three men leave. ‘So,’ he murmured, ‘Captain Scarlet suspects that the Mysterons may attack tonight If only he knew - there is nothing these Earthmen can do now to stop us completing our revenge. The Mysterons will triumph this time!’ Taking one last look at the darkened exhibition centre he stepped out of the shadows, climbed into his car, and drove swiftly away.
Scarlet stared out of the window, watching as the snow fell faster. With a groan he glanced at his watch: 0730. Soon now the scientists would be arriving to put their crates on the transporters ready for the long journey to Japan and the site of the next exhibition.
From behind him Blue spoke into the darkness. ‘You sound awful. Have you slept at all?’
‘No, I couldn’t settle.’ Scarlet turned to look around the hall. ‘I still can’t shake off the feeling that something’s going to happen soon.’
Before Blue could answer the silence was shattered by the roar of a powerful engine, and an SPV pulled up outside the building. Ochre jumped out, followed by a yawning Magenta. Moments later Grey drew up in the saloon car. Together they wandered into the hall.
‘Hi there!’ Magenta grinned cheerfully at Scarlet and Blue. ‘What’s the schedule for today?’
‘We wait for the scientists to arrive, load the transporters and then set off for the next site,’ Scarlet glanced out of the window again as he spoke. ‘Here they come,’ he added. ‘I’ll advise Colonel White.’
* * *
It was almost an hour before the dinosaurs were loaded and ready to go, by which time the one of approaching aircraft could be heard.
‘What’s that?’ Professor Radetski frowned as three aircraft appeared through the snow.
‘I contacted Cloudbase and arranged for the Angel flight to escort us,’ replied Scarlet.
‘Do we really need you?’ Radetski had still not completely accepted Spectrum’s presence. ‘After all, nothing has happened. We would have known by now if the Mysterons were going to cause trouble!’
‘Well, sir, we have our instructions. Could you just humour us, please?’ Blue tried to ease the tension.
‘Oh, all right. But let’s just go, shall we.’
The convoy set off, led by Professor Magee. Sitting in the SPV beside his colleague Magenta thoughtfully watched the line of trucks on his monitor. ‘Do you think anything will happen? He looked doubtfully at Scarlet.
‘I don’t know, I really don’t,’ replied Scarlet. ‘But I feel certain that someone, somewhere, is watching us at this very moment.’
Magenta grinned slightly. ‘You’re not still on about that, are you?’ Scarlet ignored him and settled more comfortably into his seat, prepared for several hours of non-stop driving. Time was tight to get the next exhibition site set up ready for the visitors.
* * *
Several hours later, the convoy slowed to a halt. They had left the snow behind, and it was a lovely sunny afternoon. Magee jumped out of his truck and stretched. Leaping out of his transporter Peterson hurried up to the lead vehicle. ‘What’s wrong?’ he asked Magee.
‘Nothing. But we’re about halfway to our destination and I thought a break would be a good idea.’
By now the scientists had formed a small group away from the trucks. Watching them Scarlet switched off the engine and yawned. ‘About time we has a rest!’ he commented. ‘I thought we were going all the way to Japan without a break!’
‘Yeah, I know. These guys are so keen on their dinosaurs. They’re nuts, the lot of them!’ Magenta glared at the group of scientists.
Scarlet grinned. ‘Well, let’s get out and stretch our legs, before our friends decide it’s time to move on again.’ Opening the hatches, Scarlet and Magenta were lowered to the ground in their seats. Before they had a chance to stand up, the saloon car slowed to a halt behind the SPV.
Watching the scientists eating their sandwiches the Spectrum captains wandered across to the side of the road and sat down. ‘Why didn’t we think of bringing some food?’ complained Ochre. ‘I’m hungry!’
After a general laugh they sat in silence, enjoying the sunshine. It was a remote area, and Magenta sat up suddenly in surprise. ‘Hey!’ he exclaimed, ‘listen - there’s a car coming!’
‘Strange,’ remarked Grey. ‘Who on earth would be using this road? We’re not exactly on the normal tourist routes - that’s why we chose it!’
They watched for a moment as the car approached the convoy. Drawing level with the first truck the car slowed to a crawl. ‘Hey, this looks like trouble,’ breathed Blue, standing up. ‘Who on earth is that?’
‘I recognise that car,’ muttered Scarlet. ‘It was parked in Vladimur while the exhibition was on, and...’ He broke off as a wave of nausea swept over him.
Blue looked around to see his friend swaying, seat streaming down his face. ‘Mysterons?’ he asked quietly. Scarlet nodded.
Blue started towards the car, loosening his gun as he did so. The car drew level with the end of the convoy before he could reach it, however, and suddenly accelerated into the distance. Blue stared after the rapidly disappearing vehicle, an amazed look on his face. ‘That was - Captain Black!’
* * *
As he sped away from the convoy Captain Black glanced back at the watching group of men. A satisfied look passed over his face as he saw their confused looks. Turning off the road he cut across country to the cover of the surrounding foothills. Taking a pair of powerful binoculars from the car he leant against a convenient tree and settled down to watch the activity in front of him.
* * *
Gathering his wits together again, Scarlet looked worriedly at the crates. ‘Get those scientists back in their trucks; we’ve got to get moving,’ he ordered. ‘Goodness knows what is going to happen, but it’s surely going to be soon.’
As one they started to run towards the other men. Reaching them first Ochre opened his mouth to speak, but before he could get a word out a sudden noise made them all jump. Turning abruptly, they stared, horrified, at the sight that met their eyes. Even as they watched the crate on the first truck rocked slightly from side to side. For a brief moment there was silence, then suddenly there was an angry roar, the corner of the crate was kicked out and a large, green reptilian foot appeared.
Staring wide-eyed at the extraordinary sight Professor Magee was the first to find his voice: ‘How... But... But the crate was holding a skeleton! What’s happened to the skeleton?!’
Grey grabbed the scientist’s arm urgently. ‘That’s no skeleton any more!’
At that moment the crate flew apart with a tremendous crash, showering the watching men with fragments of wood. The dinosaur - now a living, breathing thing of flesh and blood - turned around and looked at the group of men. Then, with another roar, it swung around and stepped down from the shattered remains of the crate. Slowly at first, but with increasing speed, it lumbered off away from the stationary convoy.
Mentally shaking his head, Scarlet activated his cap mike. ‘Colonel,’ he said as his commanding officer answered, ‘there is now a live dinosaur wandering around Russia!’ Silence met his words, then Colonel White drew in a deep breath.
‘Captain Scarlet,’ he said tensely, ‘we have in the last ten minutes received a further threat from the Mysterons. What is your exact position?’
‘We’re stationary, about ten miles from Borovitch.’
‘Good grief!’ The Colonel’s voice was filled with horror. ‘That’s only twenty five miles from the nuclear power station.’ He paused, then added: ‘Captain Scarlet, the Mysterons have now threatened to destroy Chernobyl 3!’
‘They stated exactly what they intend to do, sir?’ Scarlet was surprised at the Mysteron’s uncharacteristic directness.
‘Yes, Captain, and they now have the perfect weapon with those creatures. No-one will remain at their posts if they see those things approaching. You must stop them!’
‘S.I.G., sir.’ Scarlet turned to the others as his mike swung back up. ‘You heard the chief,’ he said grimly. ‘We’ve got a dinosaur to get rid of before it can destroy a nuclear power station!’
‘Yeah, but how, for heaven’s sake?’ queried Grey desperately.
Scarlet shrugged. ‘Come on, Magenta,’ he said. ‘Let’s get after it in the SPV.’
* * *
Once the hatches had closed Scarlet triggered the motors and sent the SPV screaming in pursuit of the dinosaur.
‘I wonder how Professor Magee feels now that his pet diplodocus is on the loose?!’ Magenta said with a wry grin.
‘He’s probably studying its every move as a matter of scientific interest,’ muttered Scarlet.
By the time they had caught up with the dinosaur they were at the outskirts of a small village. ‘Borovitch. Population 1500,’ read Magenta as they passed the sign. Scarlet grimaced and accelerated the SPV in an attempt to get within range for a shot before the diplodocus entered the village.
Too late! Hearing the noise doors and windows began to open along the street. With a muttered curse Scarlet stamped on the brakes to avoid the people dashing out of their houses to get a glimpse of a real, live dinosaur.
With a mighty roar, however, the dinosaur swung around. In a split second the interest had turned to sheer terror. For an instant there was a gap in the crowd and Magenta took his chance. Aiming swiftly, he fired the SPV’s cannon. As the missile hit the dinosaur it crumpled to the floor. Momentarily there was silence as people saw it fall. Then a cry of horror went up from the crowd.
‘No! It can’t...’ Magenta’s strangled gasp sounded loud in the stillness of the SPV.
‘There are two!’ Scarlet couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘Surely even the Mysterons can’t do that?’
* * *
Standing a little way away from the transporters Blue, Grey and Ochre watched in horror as three more of the dinosaurs fought their way out of their crates, sending chunks of wood and splinters flying in all directions. The scientists stood awestruck as their work came alive before their eyes.
Suddenly the dinosaurs were completely free. Drawing guns, the Spectrum captains ran forward. Taking swift aim, and ignoring the protests of the watching scientists, they fired and with satisfaction saw the creatures fall. For a brief moment they congratulated each other on their success, then their pleasure turned to horror. Where there had been three dinosaurs now there were six!
‘No! It can’t be true!’ Grey took an instinctive step backwards and collided with Professor Radetski.
‘This is fantastic!’ breathed the Russian. ‘I had never in all my wildest dreams imagined anything so fantastic!’
Magenta watched the scene grim-faced. ‘Sure, it’s fantastic. Fantastic and terrible.’
Silence fell over the group once more as they watched the unbelievable scene.
* * *
In the SPV, Magenta looked at Scarlet. ‘We’ve got to warn the others!’ he aid urgently. ‘If those other dinosaurs escape and anyone tries to shoot them...’
‘I know,’ replied Scarlet grimly. ‘Who knows how many we could end up with!’ As he spoke he pulled down his cap mile and contacted Blue.
‘Have any more of the dinosaurs escaped, Captain Blue?’
‘Yes, Captain Scarlet. Three of them...’
‘Well, whatever you do, don’t shoot them with ordinary guns,’ interrupted Scarlet. He looked for a moment at Magenta before continuing: ‘If you do, you will end up with-’
‘Twice as many. Yeah, we know - we’ve already tried it. What do we do now?’
Scarlet thought for a moment before answering.
‘As far as I can see, the only thing we can do is get in close and use a Mysteron gun. But what means getting a bit too close to these creatures for comfort! Which way are your three heading?’
‘Your way - but now there are six!’ Blue’s comment brought a frown to Scarlet’s face.
Looking at Magenta, he drew in a deep breath. ‘Oh, heck!’ he murmured. ‘This village is in trouble!’ Suddenly his epaulettes flashed white and Destiny’s voice sounded in his ears.
‘Captain! Ze dinosaurs are all around ze village!’
‘All around, Destiny?’
‘Yes. Ze village, it is surrounded Shall we attack?’
‘No!’ Scarlet sank back in his seat and ran his hand through his hair. ‘Whatever you do, don’t shoot!’
‘What on earth are we going to do?’ Magenta’s voice was full of despair. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any way of getting rid of these dinosaurs!’
* * *
Scarlet looked at his colleague in consternation. ‘Pat?’ he said worriedly. ‘Are you all right?’
His words startled Magenta; it wasn’t often that Scarlet dropped his Spectrum formality with anyone other than Blue. ‘I’m all right,’ he replied with a half hearted attempt at a smile. ‘Just tired, I guess.’
‘Don’t give up yet! We’ll defeat the Mysterons again this time!’ Scarlet exuded confidence. ‘We’ve got to!’ If only he believed his own words!
Suddenly, Magenta grabbed Scarlet’s arm and pointed at the video screen. ‘Look!’ he gasped.
Approaching the SPV were a crowd of panic stricken villages, screaming and shouting as they ran. Only yards behind the terrified people pounded a diplodocus. ‘What on earth can we do?’ Magenta’s strangled gasp made Scarlet jump.
‘What? Oh-’ Scarlet had no real idea. ‘Well, the only thing that may work is a Mysteron gun,’ he went on slowly, thinking rapidly.
‘Yeah, but how are we going to use it with all these people around?’
‘I suppose we’ll have to wait for a gap in the crowds!’
Suddenly, Scarlet’s epaulettes flashed and Blue’s voice sounded in his ears again. ‘What’s the position, Captain Scarlet?’
‘There’s a panicking crowd being chased by a diplodocus. There’s no way we can get a shot at it - there are too many people in the way!’
‘I hate to say this, but those other dinosaurs must be almost in the village by now!’
‘Thank you, Captain Blue.’ Sarcasm dripped from Scarlet’s words as he swung his cap mike back up.
* * *
Well,’ exclaimed Professor White. This sure is fantastic! If only we could find a way of caging them we could study them at our leisure!’ He rubbed his hands together excitedly at the scene in front of him.
Standing to one side, Ochre listened with a growing expression of disbelief. ‘These guys don’t realise how serious this situation is!’ he exclaimed.
‘No, but what on earth can we do?’ Grey still sounded as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Suddenly, from the fifth crate there came a tremendous crashing noise. ‘Oh, no,’ groaned Blue. ‘Well, at least that is the last one!’ As he spoke, the pterodactyl broke free and stood for a moment amongst the wreckage, stretching its wings and yawning. Looking upwards, a glint of sunlight reflecting from one of the Angel aircraft caught its eye. With an angry squawking it launched itself into the air and circled the stationary convoy once before soaring upwards towards the unsuspecting Angels.
Blue quickly gathered his wits and pulled his cap mile into position. ‘Destiny!’ he shouted. ‘Look out! There’s a pterodactyl heading for you!’
Destiny spotted the creature as Blue spoke. ‘Break formation!’ she ordered the other pilots. ‘Peel off, watch out for yourselves, and under no circumstances shoot at it!’
‘S.I.G.’ Melody and Rhapsody replied together as they swung away from their leader. Before Destiny could turn, however, the pterodactyl swooped down in front of her. Terror making her hands shake on the controls, Destiny yanked the aircraft into a steep climb, the resulting g-forces slamming her back into her seat and almost knocking her unconscious. Dazed, she shook her head as the ’plane stalled and fell into a vicious spin. Fighting desperately with the controls, Destiny managed to regain control of the plummeting aircraft and pull out of the spin with only feet to spare above the trees. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see the pterodactyl approaching for another attack ‘Mon Dieu” she cried. ‘How can it go so fast?’
* * *
‘Destiny, are you all right?’ Blue’s anxious voice sounded over her radio.
‘Captain Blue, ze dinosaur — I cannot shake him off! How can he fly so quickly? Are you sure I must not shoot him?’
‘Destiny, don’t shoot! If they are killed, they double in numbers. And don’t forget it isn’t really a living creature - it’s a Mysteron reconstruction. They have control of it and are making it do what they want.’ Blue felt so helpless watching her try to escape.
Before she could answer, the pterodactyl made one last swoop at her aircraft. Extending its talons, it grabbed hold of the tail and started to shake the ’plane.
‘Destiny, eject! Eject!’ Grey’s voice was hoarse as he spoke. Sagging with relief he saw the canopy fly off hollowed by a flash of flame as the rocket-powered seat shot into the sky.
Ochre looked at Grey. ‘I hope that dinosaur doesn’t go after the parachute - Destiny wouldn’t stand a chance!’
Grey turned white at these words. ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ he said despairingly.
* * *
Watching Destiny, Blue pulled down his cap mike and called Cloudbase. ‘Yes, Captain Blue,’ responded Colonel White. ‘What do you have to report?’
‘All the dinosaurs have escaped from their crates. The pterodactyl has attacked Destiny- she has ejected safely and is about to land. The other dinosaurs are all in the village.’
‘Have you managed to destroy any yet, Captain?’
‘No, sir. We did shoot some of them, but within a couple of minutes there were two of each of them! We’re going to have to get in close and use the Mysteron guns.’
‘S.I.G.’ Colonel White closed the radio link and turned to Lieutenant Green. ‘Open a channel to Melody and Rhapsody Angels at once!’
‘S.I.G., sir.’ Green turned to his console and flicked a switch. ‘You’re through, sir,’ he reported.
‘Colonel White turned to his microphone. ‘Melody and Rhapsody Angels, peel off immediately and return to Cloudbase, but make sure that the - creature - doesn’t see you go.’
‘S.I.G., Colonel.’ Rhapsody’s voice was shaky. ‘We’re safe at the moment - it is still worrying the tail of Destiny’s aircraft. Returning to base immediately.’ As one the aircraft turned and accelerated into the afternoon sun.
* * *
On the ground Blue, Grey and Ochre watched the disappearing ’planes. A crashing noise made them turn in time to see the pterodactyl drop the wrecked machine and fly towards the village.
‘Come on, we’ve got to go and help Scarlet and Magenta!’ Ochre’s voice was filled with urgency as he moved towards the saloon car.
‘Hold on, Ochre!’ Blue put out a hand to stop him. ‘It’s no use going in the car - that won’t give us any protection at all. There’s an SPV not far down the road. We’ll requisition that.’ As he spoke, Blue settled himself into the driving seat. Barely giving Ochre and Grey time to get in he switched on the engine and accelerated away.
Pulling up at the filling station Blue stuck his head out of the window. ‘SPV 591 immediately. This is an emergency!’ he demanded.
‘Identification, please.’ The attendant was not going to be hurried through the routine, Impatiently, Blue held out his Spectrum pass, then leapt out of the car as the other man nodded. There was a crash as the sides of a mobile home sited on the forecourt hit the ground, revealing the gleaming blue bulk of the SPV. Racing over to it the three Spectrum Captains leapt in and sped back to the village.
* * *
Watching the crowd of people running through the streets Scarlet opened the hatch of the SPV. ‘I’m going to try to get that dinosaur,’ he said as he disappeared. ‘Come after me in the SPV as soon as you can.’ Magenta nodded as Scarlet sped off.
Dodging the people, Scarlet ducked into a doorway. Waiting until only a few stragglers were between him and the dinosaur, he stepped out into the street again. Seeing him, the diplodocus stopped. Scarlet swayed violently as a wave of nausea swept over him, dispelling any doubt that these were, in fact, Mysteron recreations. With a roar the creature advanced menacingly towards him. Gritting his teeth and willing his hand to stop shaking Scarlet pulled the trigger. As the bolt of electricity hit its target the dinosaur stopped abruptly and with a final roar collapsed. Wiping the sweat from his eyes, and gasping with relief as the nausea receded, Scarlet sidled past the creature and backed towards the approaching SPV.
Magenta opened the hatch. ‘Well?’ he asked anxiously.
‘I think it worked.’ Scarlet’s voice showed his relief. ‘Come on, we’ve got to find the rest of the dinosaurs.’ He took his seat in the SPV and triggered the motors again. ‘Tell the others the Mysteron gun works, will you?’
Magenta nodded and contacted Blue. Half listening to the conversation Scarlet watched his video screen, searching for the other dinosaurs. Slowly turning one corner they came face to face with the second diplodocus. It was only yards away from the SPV when Magenta recovered his wits enough to open the hatch. Leaning out, he took swift aim. A bolt of electricity leapt from his gun, ending at the dinosaur. As it collapsed Scarlet reversed back into the main street, grinning faintly at the shaking Magenta. ‘Nice work, pal!’ he muttered.
Turning back to their video screens they both gasped in horror at the sight that met their eyes. Approaching along the street were the other dinosaurs. ‘Now what do we do?’ breathed Magenta.
* * *
Scarlet reversed the SPV away from the oncoming creatures. ‘We’ve got to get out of the way long enough to be able to think,’ he muttered.
‘Yeah, but how can two of us take on all of those?’
By now the SPV was almost on the outskirts of the village. Scarlet reached down and grasped the lever that operated Magenta’s ejector seat.
‘Hey, what are you doing?’ protested Magenta in amazement.
‘There’s only one chance for you. Even if we get two of them the others will be on us before we can fire again,’ replied Scarlet. ‘See you later!’ There was a roar as Magenta disappeared through the roof.
Opening the throttle again, Scarlet drove back towards the approaching dinosaurs. Halting in the same place as before he leapt out of the vehicle and ran a few yards up the nearest side street. Turning, he saw that the dinosaurs had reached the SPV. A diplodocus lifted one huge foot and placed it on the SPV. With one swift movement all that was left was a heap of twisted metal. For a moment Scarlet was frozen to the spot in horror. Suddenly there was a roar as the dinosaurs spotted him and started to advance along the narrow street.
* * *
Feeling the usual reaction to a Mysteron presence rushing over him Scarlet shakily raised his gun and took hasty aim. Another dinosaur fell to the ground. Then, as he stood there swaying, the rest of the creatures charged towards him. Terror swept over him like a tidal wave. His gun fell from his suddenly nerveless fingers, and his legs felt like lead. After what felt like hours but was in reality only seconds his legs once again obeyed his brain. Wondering if he was going to be sick with the fear that gripped him, Scarlet turned and fled along the street. Unable to think logically, but behaving through sheer instinct, he turned into a narrow alley. The dinosaurs were unable to follow him. But still he ran. His heart pounding in his chest and gasping for breath, he was driven by his terror to keep running along the length of the alley which opened out into the village square. With a red mist of exhaustion in front of his eyes, Scarlet halted in the middle of the open area. Unable to see any dinosaurs he sank to his knees, drawing in great lungfuls of air. Pressing his hand to his chest to try to alleviate the pain of his thumping heart he took another look around the deserted square.
Gradually the terror and dizziness he had felt receded, and he started to relax. The noise of an approaching vehicle caught his attention, and he looked up to see an SPV swinging around the corner.
‘No!’ he gasped in horror, remembering the tangled wreckage that had been his vehicle. ‘Not a Mysteronised SPV!’ Staggering to his feet he reached down for his gun, only to encounter an empty holster. Terror swept over him once more as he remembered dropping his gun when the dinosaurs had approached.
* * *
For an instant time appeared to stand still, then the hatch opened and a head popped out. Recognising Blue, Scarlet sagged with relief. Suddenly a look of horror crossed his friend’s face. ‘Paul!’ yelled Blue. ‘Above you... Run!’
It was too late. Before he could move the pterodactyl swooped down and sank its talons into Scarlet’s shoulders. With a scream of agony he was lifted into the air, watched by a horrified Blue.
* * *
Ochre leapt out of the SPV to stand beside Blue. ‘The dinosaurs are approaching. We’ve got to-’ He broke off as he took in the sight before him. ‘Oh, good grief!’ he breathed.
‘What can we do?’ Blue asked uncertainly. ‘If we use a Mysteron gun we could hit Scarlet by mistake!’
‘We’ve got no choice - it’s a risk we must take, and soon, or he’ll be out of range!’ Ochre wished he felt as sure as he was trying to sound. Willing his hand to stop shaking, he took careful aim and fired. As the bolt of electricity sped towards its target, Ochre closed his eyes, not wanting to watch the results of his actions. Grey and Blue held their breath, unable to take their eyes off the pterodactyl.
‘It’s okay,’ gasped Grey with relief. ‘You hit the right one!’ As he spoke, the pterodactyl hit the cobblestones with Scarlet underneath it. ‘Come on, we’ve got to get to Scarlet.’
Before they could move, a roar from the side street made them retreat into the SPV. Watching on the video screen, they saw the remaining dinosaurs charge into the square. The creatures paused as they emerged into the open, looking around. As they spotted the pterodactyl lying in the centre of the square they gave another roar and rushed forward.
After a brief instant Blue shook his head. ‘Come on!’ he said to the others. ‘We’ve got to get rid of these dinosaurs!’ Looking at his white face, Ochre and Grey sat Blue down before running towards the dinosaurs, taking swift aim with their Mysteron guns as they did so.
* * *
Two of the dinosaurs fell to the ground, then the square erupted into life as excited villagers surged out of their houses, eager to see what was happening.
Muttering furiously to himself Ochre turned to Grey. ‘Where did all these people come from?’ he asked, lowering his gun. ‘Now what do we do?’
‘Goodness knows! Somehow we’ve got to get through the crowd.’
Together they elbowed their way past the eager watchers. Reaching the front of the crowd they paused for an instant, appalled at the sight that met their eyes. The remaining dinosaurs were tearing apart those that were lying on the ground, trampling over the bodies. Somewhere underneath that was Captain Scarlet!
Trying not to look at what was happening, Ochre and Grey raised their guns once more. As two more of the creatures crumpled, the remainder turned to face their attackers. With a roar, they slowly advanced, causing the crowd to run, screaming, for the shelter of their houses. Ochre and Grey stood, frozen with fear, unable to raise their guns again. Suddenly, the whine of a Mysteron gun discharging twice in quick succession broke the tension. As the last of the reptiles collapsed Blue stepped forward.
‘Are you guys okay?’ he asked his colleagues. As they nodded a shout rang out across the square. Turning, Blue saw the five scientists running towards them.
‘Holy Mary!’ gasped Professor Magee. ‘What a mess!’ He looked at the devastation. ‘Is everyone all right?’
Blue was grim-faced. ‘Captain Scarlet is probably dead.’ He looked around. ‘Apart from that,’ he continued cynically, ‘and a terrorised village and a destroyed aircraft, everything is just wonderful.’
Ochre put a hand on Blue’s shoulder. ‘Steady on,’ he said quietly. ‘Come on - we’ve got to find Captain Scarlet.’
* * *
Hesitantly Ochre and Grey walked forwards. Grey shuddered. ‘God,’ be exclaimed, surveying the tangle of reconstructed skin and tissues of the Mysteronised creatures, ‘they didn’t leave much of each other, did they?’
‘Where’s Paul?’ Blue’s voice shook.
Ochre turned abruptly. ‘Are you sure you want to be here, Captain Blue?’ he asked, taking refuge in formality.
Blue nodded and stepped forward. ‘There’s not much left of the scientists’ exhibition.’
‘I wonder what the Mysterons will do next?’ mused Grey as he picked up a piece of the recreated skin. He shuddered as he dropped the tissue. ‘Ugh! That feels awful!’
Ochre suddenly pounced on the pile. ‘I’ve found him!’ he shouted.
With renewed energy the three of them scrabbled amongst the remains, and gradually they uncovered the body of their colleague. Turning Scarlet over blue gasped. ‘What a mess,’ he whispered. The talons of the pterodactyl were still embedded in Scarlet’s shoulders; the fall onto the cobblestones had made a terrible mess of his face; the other dinosaurs had trampled on his legs.
* * *
Watching, the scientists moved in closer. Seeing Scarlet lying there they gasped in dismay. ‘Is he - dead?’ whispered Professor Radetski.
‘Yes,’ replied Grey shortly. ‘What did you expect?’
Blue looked at Radetski in silence for a moment before turning back to Scarlet. ‘There’s nothing you can do here. Why don’t you return to your transports and head for home?’ He was unable to keep the bitterness from his voice.
Recoiling from the Spectrum officer’s tone, Radetski backed away. ‘I’m... I’m so sorry. Are you sure we can’t help?’
‘No, thanks.’ Ochre glanced up at the scientists. ‘You guys go on. We’ll clear up here.’
For a moment longer the scientists stared at the scene in front of them, then slowly turned away and walked across the square.
‘We shouldn’t have been so hard on them,’ muttered Grey as he watched the slowly disappearing group. ‘They didn’t mean this to happen...’
‘We’ve got to get him back to Cloudbase.’ Blue indicated Scarlet’s body. ‘I’ll radio the colonel.’ He stood up and began walking back to the SPV; he lowered his cap mike.
* * *
On Cloudbase Lieutenant Green turned to Colonel White. ‘Captain Blue for you, sir,’ he said.
‘Thank you, Lieutenant.’ The Colonel turned away from the window and walked across to his desk. Watching him, Green thought how old the Colonel looked. This episode had really worried his commanding officer.
‘Go ahead, Captain Blue.’ Colonel White’s voice was strained. ‘How are you getting on?’
‘All the dinosaurs have been disposed of. But Paul - Sorry, sir; Captain Scarlet is...dead. We need transport to get him back to Cloudbase as soon as possible.’
‘How far are you from an area in which an SPJ can land?’
‘No more than a couple of miles, sir.’
‘Very well. We will get Dr. Fawn out to you as soon as possible.’
‘S.I.G., sir.’ Blue climbed into the SPV and drove over to the others. Leaping out again, he paused and looked around the square. ‘Say,’ he said. ‘Where’s Magenta?’ Grey and Ochre looked up.
‘Heck, I don’t know!’ Grey expression of confusion would have been comical in any other circumstances. ‘I haven’t seen him since he went off with Scarlet in the SPV.’
‘Okay, let’s get Scarlet in here.’ Blue held out a body bag. ‘And then we’d better look for him!’
Turning their attention to the grim task of zipping their colleague’s body into the bag, they were silent for a few moments. At last the job was finished and Grey stood up. ‘I’ll get rid of the SPV,’ he said. ‘There’s more room in the car.’
‘Okay.’ Blue ran his hand through his hair. ‘We’ll wait here for you. If you see Magenta send him here.’
‘S.I.G.’ The hatch shut behind Grey and the roar of the engines shattered the silence as he accelerated away.
* * *
Blue and Ochre carried Scarlet’s body to the edge of the square. Setting him down on the pavement they sat on a low wall to await Grey’s return. For some moments they sat in silence, then a noise made them look up to see Destiny approaching with one of the villagers.
‘Destiny!’ exclaimed Ochre. ‘Are you all right?’
‘I am fine, Captain,’ replied the pilot excitedly. ‘But Captain Magenta, ’e was not so lucky. Zis gentleman, ’e was in ’is garden when ze Capitaine landed by parachute. ’E ’as broken ’is leg.’ Destiny paused for a moment, frowning. ‘But I do not understand - why was ’e in a parachute?’
‘No idea,’ responded Blue. ‘Guess you’ll have to ask him!’
As he spoke, the saloon car drew up and as Destiny climbed in beside Grey. Blue and Ochre carefully lifted Scarlet’s body into the boot before taking their seats in the rear of the vehicle. Pausing only long enough to collect the injured Magenta, Grey drove rapidly to the rendezvous point with the SPJ and Dr. Fawn.
* * *
Early the following afternoon Blue wandered into the Sick Bay.
‘Ah,’ said Dr. Fawn, grinning at him. ‘I wondered how long it would take you to get here!’
‘Too much paperwork as usual,’ snorted Blue, leaning against the wall and gazing towards the two occupied beds. ‘How are the patients, Doc?’
‘Captain Magenta will be up and about in a couple of days. I’ve mended the break with the bone laser - his leg will be sore for a while but that’s all. And Captain Scarlet, I think, is about to discharge himself. He’s been complaining all morning about having to stay here!’
Blue chuckled and walked past the Australian, pausing at the foot of his friend’s bed. ‘I guess that means you’re okay again,’ he remarked, grinning as Scarlet sat up and started to remove the wires connecting him to the various monitors.
‘I’m fine. Let me get out of here before Dr. Fawn decides to do some more tests!’ Blue wandered over to speak to Magenta while Scarlet hastily pulled on some clothes, then the two officers wandered out of the Sick Bay and along the corridors to the lounge.
‘By the way, Paul, spoke to my niece this morning.’ Blue’s face was a picture of innocence. ‘I asked her to try and get a book I think you’ll enjoy reading.’
‘A book? What sort of book?’ Scarlet looked suspiciously at the American.
‘Why, Jurassic Park, of course!’