The Ghost of a Chance

 

A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" and "Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)" crossover

by Scarlet Lady

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Scarlet lay in the bushes near the perimeter fence of London airport, plucking at grass stems as he waited for a report from his temporary partner.

Hopkirk appeared beside him. “They're just chatting, Paul. The Mysterons seem to be targeting the distribution of fuel and food, above all other things...”

The captain sighed. “Who are 'just chatting'? About what?”

“Sorry, I didn't give a lot of information. Blue and Grey are talking to HQ about the best course of action.”

“And?”

“They're going to split up. Grey's staying on here, Blue's going to go down to Winchester air base.”

Scarlet sighed in frustration. “If only I knew what the Mysterons were planning...”

“To bring the Earth to a standstill, by starving our supplies?”

“I know that!” Scarlet snapped. “They can't just strike everywhere at once, though. They must have a plan.”

“There are certainly enough jets poached,” the ghost remarked. “Looks like they won't need you, after all.”

“Look, Marty, the word is scrambled – SCRAMBLED! – and if I know the Mysterons, I will be needed.”

“Got it – scrambled, like your brain!” Hopkirk stepped away neatly, as the captain took a swipe at him. “Anyway, what are we doing now? Didn't you want to talk to Adam?”

“I did, but I've changed my mind. He'd be expected to call Cloudbase, to let them know that I'm...”

“Loose?”

“That's one way of putting it, I suppose...”

“But he wouldn't, would he? I mean, Jeff would never turn ME in!”

“No, but then he'd be in trouble if he was found out. I'd rather leave him alone, so I can bring nothing down on him.”

Hopkirk nodded. “You've given it a lot of thought, haven't you?”

“Is it that surprising?”

“Well... No. But...” he looked away, awkwardly.

“Anyway, we're wasting time. We need to find out where the Mysterons are, where they're heading, and what their most likely target is.”

“I'll go inside and take a look at the radar thing, then.”

Scarlet was about to answer when he began to feel ill. He leant against the trunk of an old tree, whilst putting a hand to his stomach.

“Paul? What's wrong?”

“Mysterons... Coming this way...” he swallowed hard and tried to clear his throbbing head. “Marty, see if you can warn Adam, somehow...”

Hopkirk nodded and vanished.

Once he was in the control tower of the airport, Hopkirk began to pace, looking for a means of communicating with someone. Nobody seemed able to see or hear him, despite all his frantic yelling and whistling. Eventually, he noticed the computers. They were very different from the old typewriter he used to operate for fun in the office that he and Randall had shared, but it was worth a try. He sat in a chair in front of an unmanned computer and began to type quickly.

'DANGER! MYSTERONS ON THEIR WAY! DANGER! MYSTERON JETS VERY NEAR! SCRAMBLE ALL JETS!'

The man on the next machine turned and frowned at the screen in astonishment. “Hey! What the...?”

“Don't just sit there!” Hopkirk yelled at him. “Tell Spectrum!”

“Captain Grey, what do you make of this?” he called.

“About time! Now to tell Paul that I got the message through.”

“You're sure that they got it?” Scarlet asked.

“He saw it, and called Grey over. Mission accomplished, over and out!” the ghost rubbed his hands together. “You should have seen the look on his face – it was a picture!”

“Why do I get the feeling that you're happiest when you're causing trouble?”

“Trouble?! I just got a very important message through!”

“Ssshh!” Scarlet hissed, ducking lower in his hiding place. “Hear that?”

“Is that the jets?” the ghost asked, ducking down beside him. “They're phantom jets, you know. They just vanish off the radar screen, without warning...”

“That'll be a cloaking device,” Scarlet told him. “Cloudbase uses one.”

“It's dangerous! Two planes have blundered into them, already!”

“It's only dangerous in the wrong hands,” the captain argued. “In war, things like that could be the difference between winning and losing!”

Hopkirk privately wondered who it was that decided who the wrong and right hands were, but he remained quiet.

The jets flew in low, preparing to attack.

“I can't watch!” Hopkirk gasped, hiding his eyes.

Scarlet looked on in silence. A voice in his head screamed at everyone in the building to get clear, whilst cursing the Mysterons. The planes seemed to move in slow motion, as adrenalin began to surge through his veins.

Suddenly, the fighters altered course, pulling back up and swerving around. Scarlet looked up to see a variety of jets swoop overhead, instantly recognising three of the planes in the ranks as the Spectrum Angels.

“What's happening?” Hopkirk opened one eye, cautiously.

“The cavalry just arrived!” the captain informed him. “Come on, let's get up there!”

“In a passenger jet? You're mad!”

“Well... Let's see if there's a fighter jet, somewhere. Why don't you go and take a look?”

The ghost stared at him. “What, on my own? Out there, under that lot?”

“You're a coward, Martin Hopkirk!”

“At least I'm no idiot, Paul Metcalfe!”

“Look, the Mysterons must have a specific plan in mind. This is starting to feel like a diversion.”

“A what?”

Scarlet sighed impatiently. “A ruse. A very carefully planned distraction, to draw our attention away from the real target.”

Hopkirk frowned. “Why would they do that?”

“Because they're sadistic aliens, who like to make us look like idiots, that's why! Now, think, Marty. You're a detective. Let's use your super-deductive powers...”

“Are you being funny?”

“No! Now... You can strike anywhere, at any time, Marty. Whatever you need to carry out a threat, you can get it. Your latest task is to bring the world to a stand still... How would you go about it?”

“I'd fit rockets to it, and use them to stop it turning!”

“I'm being serious!”

“Well, I don't know! I'm not a terrorist!” Hopkirk sighed. “They're attacking the world's trade, that seems like a pretty good way of going about it!”

“World's trade...” Scarlet repeated, thoughtfully. “That's it! Of course! How very clever...!”

“You've lost me,” the ghost informed him.

“The trade isn't really what they have in mind, at all. They've been very clever – these attacks aren't just a ruse, they're ALSO a clue! We have to get to Washington – FAST!”

“I still don't...” Hopkirk sighed in frustration as Scarlet returned to the SPJ and climbed aboard. “How are Blue and Grey going to follow?”

Scarlet shrugged as he prepared for take-off. “There are lots of ways to get around, if you're a SANE Spectrum member.”

“Yes, well... Once we go back to Cloudbase, I'll help you to prove that that's exactly what you are.”

The captain scowled at him. “If you hadn't been so stubborn and annoying, it wouldn't need proving!”

“I've already apologised! How many times have I got to say it?”

Scarlet sighed and took off, keeping clear of the fight that was still taking place.

Captain Grey watched from the control tower in astonishment, as the SPJ climbed into the sky. Quickly, he activated his radio cap and put out a call, in order to contact the runaway plane. “SPJ C459, come in, please.”

Scarlet ignored the transmission.

“Hadn't you better answer it?” Hopkirk asked, turning to him with a worried expression. “It might be important!”

“Marty, why don't YOU answer it?”

The ghost moved a hand toward the microphone, but then sighed and shook his head. “You know I can't!”

“Then let's not bother, eh?”

“SPJ C459, come in, please...”

“He doesn't sound ready to give up, Paul...”

Scarlet growled and grabbed the microphone. “This is SPJ C459. What can I do for you?”

“Scarlet? Is that you?”

The captain rolled his eyes. “Who did you expect? A little boy on a joy ride?”

“Might be more plausible than a sick colleague who should be in bed,” Grey replied, before thinking his comment through.

“'Sick colleague'?” Scarlet snapped, as Hopkirk began to laugh. “There's nothing wrong with me, Captain Grey. I've just worked out the Mysterons' REAL target, and am dealing with it myself.”

“And what would that be?”

“Don't tell him, Paul!” Hopkirk urged. “He'll have men in white coats after you, before you can say...”

“First, you have to promise not to tell Spectrum where I am. If I'm right, you might well need me.”

“Scarlet...” Grey began.

He sighed. “I know that it isn't 'by the book', but we have no alternative. In any case, it might be better if you don't inform Spectrum for another reason... If everyone rushes off to the place that I think the Mysterons have in mind, and I'm wrong...”

Grey nodded. “Yeah, I get the picture. OK, Captain, just tell me where it is that you think they'll strike.”

“Washington.”

“Why?”

“They're after the World Trade Centre. The jets are just a ruse, to draw attention.”

“If you're right, surely you'll need backup?”

Scarlet smiled. “Don't worry. I have an ace up or two up my sleeve.”

“If you're sure...”

“Grey, if I need backup, you'll be first to know.”

“S.I.G., Captain Scarlet. Uh... Good luck.”

“Thankyou,” Scarlet replaced the microphone.

Hopkirk gave him a worried frown. “You should have told him to mind his own business!”

“If I'd done that, it would have been out of character, and Grey would be another person to add to the list.”

“What list?”

The captain rolled his eyes impatiently. “The list of people who think I've died once too often!”

Hopkirk frowned again. “There's one thing...”

“And that is...?”

“The World Trade Centre... You said that it's in Washington...”

“It is. It has been ever since Futura was established, when the World Government came to power.”

Hopkirk nodded his understanding.

Upon arriving in Washington, Scarlet requisitioned a Spectrum saloon and headed for the World Trade Centre. Hopkirk sat beside him in silence, torn between asking him to slow his speed, and urging him to hurry up.

 

Pulling up in the car park, Scarlet unfastened his seatbelt. “Right, Marty, see if you can find any clues in there. I'll see you inside. Meet me at the front desk.”

“Right!” Hopkirk closed his eyes and prepared to disappear. “Wait a minute! What sort of clues?”

“Well... For a start, if you see a man who looks like death, dressed all in black, and talking in a deep voice... Come and get me!”

“I take it that's the 'Black' that you want to kill?”

“He's a very dangerous Mysteron agent, and he's always right in the thick of any trouble. He usually does the murdering for his masters.”

Hopkirk shuddered. “Murder?”

“What are you worried about? He can't hurt you!”

The ghost nodded and vanished.

Scarlet rolled his eyes and ran inside.

Hopkirk crept around, nervously. Although he knew that no harm could come to him, he didn't like violence, and dreaded coming too close to someone like Black. He jumped as a door opened behind him and spun around, but it was only a clerk hurrying off to do some photocopying. Sighing with relief, the ghost continued on his way.

As he came to the lifts, he saw that one was marked with an 'OUT OF ORDER' sign. “Typical,” he remarked. “There's always something that's broken.” He was about to continue on his way, when a man in black overalls arrived on the scene, carrying a tool kit. “Hello... what are you up to, eh?”

The man turned to him with a sardonic expression. “I'm repairing the lift, what does it look like?”

“Oh...” Hopkirk took a step back. “Right... uh... Good. That's good. Uh... Excuse me.”

The man went back to his work without another word.

After making sure that he wasn't paying any further attention to him, he went to Scarlet.

“Paul! He's here!”

Scarlet finished talking to the receptionist at the desk and excused himself, making for the lifts. “Who?” he asked, quietly.

“Black. He's on the third floor, 'fixing' one of the lifts!”

The captain decided against using one of them after all, and made for the stairs. “You'd better be right,” he warned, quietly.

“He spoke to me! He said that he's fixing the lift. He looked... horrible! And that voice...!”

Scarlet nodded. “That's him.”

Captain Black finished his work in the first lift. He moved the 'OUT OF ORDER' notice to the third and final lift, and started on the one in the middle.

Hopkirk stepped into the lift behind him. “Would you like a hand?”

“No, thankyou. I know what I'm doing.”

“Yes, I bet you have a lot of work to blast your way through, eh?”

Black turned to stare at him with dark, cold eyes. “You could say that.”

“What are you doing, anyway?”

“I told you that, just now. I am repairing the lift.”

“I thought you were repairing the other one...”

“You are mistaken.”

“I don't think so. Detectives tend to notice these things.”

Again, the Mysteron gave him a cold glare. “You are mistaken.”

Hopkirk took a careful step back, making sure that he didn't step through the wall. He watched as Black reached up to set a small device into the top of the lift, and casually began to smear something up there. Oil, by the look of it. “Aren't the ropes smooth enough?”

“No. The lifts are jerky, and bounce. We have had complaints.”

“Oh,” the ghost shook his head and tutted. “Can't have that.”

“So if you don't mind, I'll just put the final one right.”

Hopkirk frowned. “Then why did you lie about working on the three of them, as opposed to just one?”

“What does it matter to you?”

“Would you prefer to answer to somebody else?” the ghost asked.

“Such as...?”

Scarlet poked him in the back with his pistol. “Me, perhaps?”

Hopkirk sighed with relief and vanished, as Black turned to face his old adversary.

“Scarlet...”

“Hello, Conrad. It's been a long time.”

Black gave him an unpleasant smile and vanished.

Scarlet fired a bullet, but he had no idea whether he hit him before he was gone. “Blast it!”

Hopkirk appeared nervously behind him. “He... he's outside. You chased him off, before he did... whatever he had in mind.”

“I hope so,” the captain replied, doubtfully. “Come on, let's see if we can get hold of him, before he disappears altogether.”

“Ghosts disappear altogether...”

“Do they, really?”

“Yes. That's when we tend to moan in the night. Woooohaarrrr!”

“Can you be serious for once in your...” Scarlet came to an abrupt halt.

Hopkirk turned to him, frowning. “What's the matter?”

“Can you smell... burning?”

“I can't smell anything.”

“You must have a cold, then! It's getting stronger.”

Hopkirk began to look for signs of smoke. Suddenly, he gasped, and reached out for the captain's arm, to grab it. “Paul!”

“Yes?”

“Look at the lifts – there's smoke pouring out from under the doors! We're dead!”

“You are,” Scarlet muttered, grabbing an extinguisher. “What's the matter with the alarm and sprinkler system?”

“They aren't working,” the ghost replied, helpfully.

“Sometimes, Marty, you surpass yourself!” he went back to the lifts, coughing as the smoke began to effect him.

Hopkirk stood beside him and watched with concern as he began to attack the lift doors with the extinguisher. “What are you doing? If you open those doors, the smoke'll be even worse! There might even be flames...”

“Can't just leave it,” the captain replied.

“But... You might...”

“Marty... Instead of standing there worrying about me...” Scarlet coughed loudly. “Find the alarm system and try to get it to work. If you get the sprinklers to kick in, so much the better... But we have to evacuate.”

“Alright,” Hopkirk closed his eyes and vanished.

Captain Black watched as smoke began to billow from the lift doors in the roof. It wouldn't take long for the fire to spread, after he'd knocked out the alarm system. Soon the fire would be racing through every floor of the building, and even Scarlet could do nothing to prevent it. Whether the men and women got clear or not was of no consequence to the Mysterons; it was the building, and all the documents that were of importance.

 

Scarlet had managed to bash the lift doors open now, but as Hopkirk had predicted, there was too much smoke. Quickly, he ripped one of the sleeves from his tunic and tore at the stitching of the seam so that it became a long, flat piece of fabric. That done, he tied it around his head so that it covered his nose and mouth. The smoke was becoming denser, stinging his eyes as he continued to fight the fire for all he was worth. He jumped slightly as the siren began to wail.

“Done it, Paul. Can't get the sprinklers to do anything, but at least the system is linked with the fire station...”

“Great work,” Scarlet replied, smiling behind his makeshift respirator. “Can you think of a way of helping me?”

“Not really... I'd need to be solid, to man one of those things!” he eyed the extinguisher in his friend's hands. “Unless...”

The captain turned to him questioningly, but Hopkirk had already vanished.

Hopkirk floated in the middle of the lift shaft, and assessed the fire. “What a mess! I'd like to get Black to clear this lot up – he had all the fun!” He shook his head and took a deep breath.

 

“It's working like a charm!” the ghost informed Scarlet, reappearing beside him.

“What is?”

“I'm blowing the fire out! Only trouble is, it's so hot down there, it's hard to make it STAY put out... And I think Black might've smeared something that burns easily on the ropes.”

“But it's working...”

“Yes.”

“Then what are you doing up here?”

Hopkirk glared at him. “It's wearing me out! I had to take a breather!”

“Take a breather when the rest of us can breathe, Marty. I need your help.”

The ghost took a deep breath, before vanishing again.

Captains Ochre and Magenta raced to the burning World Trade Centre.

“What are we going to do, when we get there?” Magenta asked. “By the sound of it, the fire's spreading pretty quickly...”

“Jets are already being sent to the scene, with water bombs,” his partner replied, taking his eyes off the road for a moment. “And at least everyone's got clear.”

“I bet they'll be plenty of news teams...”

Ochre groaned. “Probably. At least all we have to do is try to help keep everyone back, and help the fire and rescue teams where possible. They can get their pictures, so long as they keep out my way!”

Magenta laughed. “Yeah.”

Hopkirk was just beginning to think that they might be fighting a losing battle, when a whooshing noise echoed around him, and the shaft was filled by a dense, black cloud. Coughing instinctively, he closed his eyes and retreated, appearing beside Scarlet.

The captain turned to him, frowning. “What's the matter with you?”

Hopkirk gasped before answering. “Couldn't breathe! The shaft was suddenly full of smoke!”

“Marty, you're a ghost – you DON'T breathe.”

“How do I do this, then?” he demanded, taking a big gulp of air and blowing sharply in Scarlet's ear. “Or THIS...?” he whistled, loudly.

“I don't know, but I DO know that dead men don't breathe – OR cough!”

The whooshing sound filled the air again, and more smoke spilled out from the open lift shafts. Hopkirk jumped back.

Scarlet moved to edge of the shaft, and looked down. “Marty! Someone's throwing water down the shafts – the fire's almost out!”

 

“Look!” Magenta pointed to a somewhat blackened and dishevelled man, as he stepped from the main doors of the building.

Ochre looked up. “That can't be...”

“Scarlet?”

The captain greeted his two colleagues with a weary salute. “At your service, gentlemen...”

“What are YOU doing here?” Ochre demanded.

“Let's see... I've chased Black off, I've fought a fire, and I've tried to get a sabotaged fire alarm and sprinkler system to work...”

“That's nice,” Hopkirk protested. “After all the help I gave you!”

“Well, I can't take all the credit,” Scarlet added. “I had an unusual kind of help.”

“Oh...?” Ochre frowned at him. “What kind of help?”

“You just wouldn't believe me if I told you.”

In the Conference Room, Colonel White shook his head and leaned back in his chair. He had just finished going over the reports of his officers, and one stood out from all the others.

“Captain Scarlet, it seems to me that you have first been insulting your fellow officers, and then been undertaking your own dangerous missions when AWOL...”

“Yes, Colonel, but...”

“And that you are now making excuses by blaming it all on a ghost.”

“I know it looks that way, but...”

The colonel cleared his throat. “Do you really expect me to believe that you have been working with a ghost, since your last mission, Captain?

“No, Colonel, but it IS the truth.”

Hopkirk rolled his eyes. “Why don't you just tell him that you ran away to marry the fairy who lives at the bottom of the magic wishing well?”

“He's standing behind me, Colonel. I wish there were a way I could convince you... But he IS there.”

Hopkirk smiled, suddenly. He rolled the colonel's pen across the table. “There! Who moved that?”

“Scarlet, this isn't funny,” White warned.

“How could it have been Paul?!” the ghost demanded, appearing on the table in front of the colonel. “I don't care HOW much respect you get from your men, I think you're an idiot!”

The colonel frowned, and slowly raised his head to look up at him. “Mister... Hopkirk?”

“Marty?” Scarlet looked around at the other officers, who were all staring at the angry ghost standing on the glass table of the Conference Room. “They can see you?”

Hopkirk smiled and jumped down from the table. “I must've got REALLY angry, that time!”

Scarlet turned to scowl at him. “Do you mean to tell me that you could have made them see you at ANY TIME?”

“No, not at any time – just when it suited me!” The ghost smiled, waved... and vanished.

Colonel White cleared his throat. “It seems that I – WE – owe you an apology, Captain. I should have known better.”

The captain lowered his gaze uncomfortably. “It's quite alright, Colonel. I'd never have believed it, myself.”

 

THE END

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