Balance of Power

 

A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" Story

By Sue Stanhope

 

 

 

"Okay, Blue," Doctor Fawn sighed, "you’re fit for duty." It had been a long day, a long week in fact; the last mission had taken its toll on Captains Blue, Ochre and Scarlet. Of course, Scarlet had been declared fit two days earlier but Ochre only that morning. Ochre had complained that Fawn was keeping him longer than was necessary. Fawn had ignored him. They always complained. It was reaching a point where Fawn almost didn’t need to examine them; the fact that they were well enough to complain spoke volumes. Fawn was tired, he was glad enough to be able to discharge his final patient at last.

"Thanks, Doc," Blue smiled gratefully. As he stood to dress, he turned to look at Fawn. "I mean it’s not like I don’t appreciate it," he added, "but it’s always good to hear."

"Go on, Blue. I’ve still got to clear up."

"On your own tonight?" asked Blue, surprised that he had only just noticed how deserted Sickbay was.

"It’s been so busy, I gave everyone the night off. You’re the last patient and I’m kicking you out now!"

"Okay! I can take the hint! I’ll get out of your way!" Blue grinned, but as he looked at the doctor his smile faded somewhat; he really did look tired. "Get some rest yourself, Doc."

"Is that your professional opinion?" Fawn asked trying to raise a cheerful smile.

"Friendly advice."

Fawn nodded as he ushered the captain out. Finally the door closed leaving Sickbay in absolute silence. Fawn sighed; it seemed to echo around the whole room. Just a few last instruments to sterilise and he could relax.

 

 

Captain Blue walked into the officers’ lounge; it was surprisingly busy, but then it was October and Grey, Ochre and Magenta were cheerfully busying themselves decorating the lounge with the paraphernalia of Halloween.

"Blue!" shouted Grey, his voice slightly muffled by the pins he was trying to grip between his teeth. He went on to say that he wanted help hanging something, but Blue could only guess at this, as the words were completely unintelligible. Blue grinned broadly at Grey and walked briskly over.

"You’ve got the place looking good, Brad!" Blue looked about the lounge nodding his approval. Grey looked down from his perch a few steps up on the stepladder and nodded silently over towards Magenta who was helping Ochre with a giant cobweb.

"This is your idea then, Pat?" Blue asked the Irishman. Magenta merely looked over his shoulder, gave a light shrug and smiled.

Grey dropped the pins into the palm of his hand. "Can you give me a hand here, Adam?"

"Oh, sure!" replied Blue. He grinned as Grey handed him a collection of decorations. "I thought I was going to miss it."

"What, Halloween?" Grey stared at him incredulous. "You weren’t that badly hurt, were you? I mean that’s not until tomorrow."

"No! Putting up the decorations. Fawn mentioned you’d got some."

"Oh, I see. If anything we’re late with the decorations. It’ll be the first time we’ve ever had permission." Grey grinned, he had no idea how Magenta had swung it, but he wasn’t about to argue. "Well you’re only just in time, we’re nearly done."

"Where’s Paul?" asked Blue looking around the room for his friend and field partner.

"I don’t know," Grey shrugged. "I haven’t seen him for an hour or so."

"Brits! No sense of fun!" called Ochre from his position on a stepladder on the other side of the room.

"Is that so, Captain?"

Ochre turned sharply to face the door where Colonel White stood. As he turned, the balance of weight on the step ladder shifted too much to the right; the legs on the left hand side started to rise, only by an inch or two, but for a brief moment, it appeared that the steps and captain would come crashing down. White’s eyes widened as he saw what he believed would lead to another trip to Sickbay. Ochre held on and tried to rebalance, but the legs had lifted too far already. Then as suddenly as it started, the ladder was still again. Ochre looked down, bemused, then grateful as he spotted Captain Magenta with his arms wrapped around some of the lower rungs.

"Thanks, Pat!" he said sheepishly. Turning, more carefully this time, he faced the Colonel once more. "I’m sorry, Colonel, I didn’t mean anything by it."

"Who is responsible for…" White paused; yes, he thought; he’d make them sweat a bit. "…defacing the Officer’s Lounge?"

Magenta got to his feet and stepped out from behind the ladder.

"Erm, Colonel, I… that is… your furlough… I thought you’d already gone. I mean… I didn’t think you’d mind."

"Did it occur to you to request permission, Captain?"

All eyes were on Magenta; he could feel them burning into him. Now was probably not a good time to mention that he had claimed to have already obtained permission. White almost never ventured into the Officer’s Lounge. It seemed to Magenta something of a waste of time to request permission for something the Colonel wouldn’t even be aware of. Now he was in trouble; very possibly, unless he owned up, they all were.

"Colonel, I…"

Better stop him before he really talks himself into trouble, thought White.

"Never mind, Captain. Contrary to Captain Ochre’s belief, I do, in fact, have a sense of fun. We Brits may not take Halloween as seriously as our American counterparts but we know how to get into the spirit."

White stared directly at Ochre and Magenta. He tried hard to suppress a mischievous smile which Ochre and Magenta may have noticed, had they not been experiencing difficulty making eye contact with their Commander-in-Chief. Their discomfort seemed only to amuse White more; Grey caught his expression and had to look away, hiding his grin.

"Anyway," White regained his composure and turned away, to the relief of the two discomfited captains. "I actually came to let you know that I’m leaving now. Captain Blue?"

"Sir?"

"I see you’ve been discharged back to duty."

"Yes, Sir, about twenty minutes ago."

"I hadn’t been informed."

"Doctor Fawn dismissed everyone, Sir. He looked very tired when I left, he must have forgotten to make his report."

"Perhaps he thought you’d already gone too," muttered Magenta under his breath.

"Yes," replied White with a slightly thoughtful, worried tone. His concern for the health of Spectrum’s senior medical officer overriding his irritation at Magenta’s impudent comment. "Good to see you back on your feet, Captain. If you feel up to it, I’m placing you in charge."

"Thank you, Sir."

"And good to see you stay on your feet, Captain." White addressed Ochre once more, with an amused twinkle in his eyes.

"Thank you, Sir," replied Ochre his cheeks flushing with the memory. "Enjoy your furlough."

 

***

 

Walking back towards the adjacent room, which housed the sterilisation equipment, Fawn heard a noise behind him. Turning, he saw a tall, slender, elegant woman standing just inside the doorway. Silently she walked towards him. He was mesmerised by her. By her beauty and her cascading chestnut hair. He felt certain though; he’d never seen her before.

"Excuse me?" he ventured. "Can I help you?"

"I’m sure you can."

Her voice was soft and velvety, her movements graceful and effortless. It was almost as if she glided towards him.

"I’m sorry, I don’t know you."

"You will."

"Identify yourself or I’ll be forced to call security."

She smiled demurely. "No, Doctor Fawn, you won’t do that."

Fawn now knew something was amiss, and resolved to raise the alarm. It was only then that he realised that he was unable to move. Seized by panic he stared at the approaching woman in alarm.

"Who are you? What… why can’t I move?" he demanded.

"But you can Doctor," she smiled again; this time the smile became a sneer as Fawn was lifted from his feet and flung backwards against the wall. Sliding to the floor, Fawn groaned as he shook his head and briefly closed his eyes. Looking up once more, he saw that she was standing over him.

"I am Xaria. I am the Herald of Antaya, Ruler of the Dark World and Bringer of Destruction. You are chosen as the Guardian. It is an honour bestowed on few mortals."

"Guardian? What are you talking about? Who are you?" Only feet away, Fawn could see the alarm console; the large red alert button on the wall was so close. Launching himself in a last ditch effort, he reached out and hit the button with a satisfied grunt. Nothing happened.

"What?" he cried perplexed as he turned to face her once more.

"You are the Guardian," she repeated, without further explanation. Walking towards him once more, Fawn realised to his horror, that whatever she had planned, he was totally at her mercy; unable to either raise the alarm or escape. Xaria now approached him with the assurance of someone who knows she holds all the cards.

"Doctor Fawn," she wrapped one arm around him, then another. "I am the Herald of the New Age."

Slowly she pulled Fawn’s head closer until their lips almost touched.

"No!" he whispered trying to pull free, but to no avail; her strength was greater than any force he had ever encountered.

As her lips touched his, Fawn relaxed; all the fight in him seemed to melt away. She drew back smiling in triumph.

"I am the Guardian," he announced. Once more the room was deserted and Fawn was alone.

 

***

 

Captain Scarlet was asleep; it was a fitful, restless sleep. The nightmare he was having was making him toss and turn violently. Whatever it was, it was frightening. The sounds of sleep-slurred cries for help initially went unnoticed. It was relatively rare for personnel to be in the vicinity of the officers’ quarters at this time. Perhaps on this occasion he was just lucky, as one of the engineers happened to be passing on his way to the Conference Room to adjust the screening equipment. Even as he approached Captain Scarlet’s quarters he could hear the commotion. Scarlet was shouting, pleading in fact, for help. It was not something to be ignored. Putting out a security alert the engineer tried to focus on gaining access to Scarlet’s room. Within moments, he heard the sound of footsteps running towards him; turning, he could see Captains Blue and Ochre at the head of the small crowd responding to the call for assistance.

From the noise coming from within, there was no need to ask how he knew that there was a problem, but what?

"Stand aside, please," requested Blue, certain in the knowledge that he knew the code to Scarlet’s quarters.

What awaited him when he finally pushed past the opening door shocked him. Lying on the bed was Captain Scarlet. He appeared seized by panic, tossing and turning wildly.

"Paul!" cried Blue as his worried eyes fell on his stricken colleague.

It was no use trying to wake him as if from a gentle sleep. Taking him by the shoulders, Blue found himself trying more to stop him shaking than for anything else.

"Paul wake up!" Blue shouted in between Scarlet’s desperate cries for help.

Scarlet’s eyes flew open and he stared, at first unseeing Blue, his eyes wild and unfocussed. Suddenly startled, Blue released his arms and took a step back. Now with something to focus on, Scarlet’s eyes followed him. Starting to wake, yet still disorientated, he sat bolt upright, grabbing Blue’s arm as he did so.

"We’ve got to stop her!"

"Paul," Blue gazed sympathetically at his wide-eyed friend, "you were dreaming. It’s okay now," he added smiling.

"No, I wasn’t, you don’t understand." Scarlet was insistent. "We have to find her and stop her."

"Who?" asked Blue, sceptical but intrigued.

"Xaria, she’s here."

Blue pulled his arm out of Scarlet’s grasp and pushed his shoulders back down into the bed.

"Paul, you were dreaming."

This time Blue’s voice had a slightly harsher edge to it. It didn’t go unnoticed by Scarlet, who glared back at him angrily. Brushing Blue away, Scarlet swung his legs off the bed and stood up in one fluid movement.

"I wasn’t dreaming!" he snapped.

"Really? You were asleep, screaming for help and thrashing around. Are you telling me that’s normal for you?"

Scarlet frowned, he couldn’t explain, he knew it didn’t make sense but he also knew that he wasn’t dreaming.

"I know what it looks like, Adam. But I’m telling you, Xaria’s here."

"Who the hell is Xaria?"

Scarlet opened his mouth to reply. Now that he had been asked to explain, he found he couldn’t. He didn’t know who she was, why she was there or even how he knew. He closed his mouth again and sighed; he felt so foolish. He was standing in his quarters with at least half a dozen onlookers, having an argument with Captain Blue about a dream he couldn’t even remember. All that he did remember was that he had been terrified, fearful for his life and the lives of his friends. Deep inside, although he didn’t know why he was so scared, he knew that he should be.

 

 

The room was huge, heavy, expensive velvet drapes hung from the walls showing off tapestries and fine paintings to excellent effect. The room shone with gold and silver, everywhere one looked were the trappings of riches. At one end of the room a woman who appeared in her late twenties or early thirties was seated on a large, imposing but nevertheless comfortable throne. She was pale and appeared tired and drawn. Time had drained her, but she would soon receive a new lease of life, all her colour and beauty would return. Her name was Antaya.

"Is it nearly time?" she asked the young woman before her.

"Yes, Your Eminence, we are very close," Xaria spoke gravely, a look of intense concentration on her face.

"What preparations have you made?" Antaya asked, her mood lightening as she considered her forthcoming victory over the humans. To take control of the Earth, to succeed where her ancestors had failed for millennia. She allowed herself a satisfied smile. The Prophesy allowed her only one attempt. She had discovered the human celebration of Halloween and it seemed so wonderfully apt to choose that time for the demons of the Dark World to rise.

"I have selected a sky borne craft. It is a military base; the humans are strong and will make very suitable subjects for you. I have chosen the three we require. Once they are conquered, your army will ride from the skies on horses of flame to take the Earth. Nothing can stop you!"

"Do not underestimate the power of the Immortals, Xaria."

"They cannot interfere with the Prophesy, it is written that you are allowed one chance," Xaria argued. "You will rule over all of the Lower and Upper Worlds."

"They will try to find a way, Xaria. Believe me, they will try." Antaya looked away, momentarily distracted by her thoughts. "What other preparations have you made?"

"The man who will serve as the Guardian is already in our power."

"You have done well, Xaria.  Tell me, how did you secure his willing cooperation so quickly?" asked Antaya, impressed with her Herald’s good work.

"There are few who can resist a magical kiss, Your Eminence."

"You fool, Xaria! You said it yourself, I have only one chance! I will not have you destroying that with your impatience!" Antaya swept to her feet and stared harshly at the woman before her.

"I’m sorry, Your Eminence. But…" Xaria tried to think of a way to excuse her recklessness.

"There are no excuses, Xaria. We can only hope that your error will not prevent my ascension, or you can rest assured, you will pay a heavy price. Now, what other news?"

"Yes, Your Eminence, I will be more careful." Xaria collected her thoughts; Antaya was not to be crossed. "Soon the Keeper of the Seal and the Channeller will be ready for your return."

"Good," she replied smiling briefly. "Are our legions ready?"

"Yes, Your Eminence, when the gateway is opened, you and your armies will ride triumphant and take your new world."

Antaya noticed a slight hesitation in the voice of her Herald.

"What is wrong, Xaria?" she asked harshly; nothing was to be allowed to come between her and her goal.

"There is one, Your Eminence. He is aware of us, he can sense us."

"How is that possible?" she asked irritably, her patience waning fast.

"He seems to be one of the Immortals."

"An Immortal? Living amongst the humans?"

Antaya gave this some thought. The Immortals had always held sway and kept their power and position over the demonic kingdoms. But Antaya had kept the pressure on, there would be nothing to stop her, not even this Immortal.

"We must deal carefully with this one. When the time comes, we must do whatever is necessary. He will not halt my intentions. See to it, Xaria, there is not much time."

"Your Eminence," Xaria replied bowing reverently and gracefully.

 

***

 

Captain Grey looked around the Officers Lounge; he was satisfied. It had been Magenta’s idea but he had taken the role of Artistic Director for the evening and he had to admit, even to himself, that he had done a good job.

"Nice one, Grey," Ochre slapped him on the back. "The place looks great!"

Grey turned to look at him and smiled. His smile quickly turned into a worried frown.

"How’s Scarlet?"

Ochre sighed, stifling a laugh as he did so.

"What?" asked Grey perplexed.

"Security dragged us back on duty to wake him from a bad dream!" snorted Ochre.

"A bad dream? Is that all?" asked Grey with a chuckle. "You and Blue racing through the corridors on full alert because Scarlet’s watched too many scary movies?"

"About the size of it," Ochre laughed, flopping down onto the sofa and putting his feet up.

Grey pushed Ochre’s booted feet off the arm of the sofa and perched there himself. Ochre frowned and started to pull himself up to a seated position, then decided against it. Repositioning his feet, he pushed them back and settled down, ignoring the thud and loud complaints as Grey hit the floor.

"Thanks, Rick!" grumbled Grey as he picked himself up off the floor.

"No problem," replied Ochre sleepily, without even opening his eyes.

 

***

 

Captain Blue poured another cup of coffee for his friend. Ochre had ushered everyone away before returning to the Lounge, leaving Blue alone with a still clearly shaken Scarlet.

"What’s going on, Paul?" asked Blue. "I’ve never seen you react like this to anything."

Scarlet pursed his lips and looked up. "I know it was a dream, but Adam, you have to trust me on this one, it’s real too."

"How can it be real, Paul? It’s a dream, that’s all. You can’t even remember what it was about!"

"I know." Scarlet rubbed his eyes. "I just think we should be careful, that’s all, call it intuition if you like. I just don’t know, it’s not the first time I’ve had that dream an it’s getting more vivid each time I’ve had it."

"When did it start?" asked Blue, concerned for his friend. The more he looked at him the more tired and even run down he appeared to be.

"Just a few days ago, it was just a voice telling me she was coming. And I was awake, Adam, I swear to you!"

Blue chewed his bottom lip thoughtfully, then sighed and shrugged. "I don’t know what to say, Paul."

"I know, you’re wondering where we keep the straitjackets," Scarlet said with a smile.

"Hardly! But perhaps you’ve been working a little hard lately. A few days off couldn’t, hurt could it?"

"Maybe not," sighed Scarlet. "I’ll speak to the Colonel when he gets back."

Blue rose and patted Scarlet’s shoulder. "Maybe you should try and get a bit more rest."

Scarlet nodded as Blue let himself out; despite his retro-metabolism he certainly felt in need of rest; it was perhaps that which was worrying him more than anything.

 

***

 

Grey made his way down to his quarters on the deck below the Lounge. It was one of the quietest areas on the base, but even so, he thought it a little strange that there was no one else around. The corridor, too, seemed a little darker than usual, Grey sighed to himself; I must be more tired than I thought.

"Holden!" a voice screeched behind him. It didn’t even sound human.

Instinctively, Grey whirled, gun drawn, his eyes scanning the corridor for the source of the sound. His heart pounded, ready for action as the adrenaline flowed, but he could see nothing. Then, almost as if it were creeping out of the very shadows, a dull orange light seemed to emanate from the wall at the bend in the corridor, roughly twenty feet from him. Uncertain, Grey activated his cap microphone; all he could hear was the hiss of static. Whatever that light was, he assumed that it was blocking his transmission. He had to get out of there.

Without warning the light flared into a bright yellow/white flash. Dazzled and temporarily blinded, Grey threw his hands up in front of his face, closing his eyes tightly, colours still dancing behind his closed lids. Grey then found himself caught in a powerful, soundless blast. Thrown from his feet, he tumbled and rolled helplessly along the corridor under its force. Landing violently against the wall at the far end of the corridor, Grey tried desperately to gather his senses and recover his sight.

"Who’s there?" he asked, scrambling to his feet. Alone, practically blind and with his gun and cap lost in the blast, Grey felt vulnerable to say the least. He could make out a shape coming towards him; it seemed to be a woman, he squinted hard, it was still so difficult to see. She had long hair, he thought it looked red.

"Rhapsody? Is that you?" Grey frowned, unnerved by the lack of reply. "Who are you?"

Grey ran his hand along the wall of the corridor as he tried to keep moving, he cursed himself for not knowing this corridor better as he bumped into another service panel. Where is everybody?!

"You can’t run from me, Holden."

The voice came from all directions at once. Grey stopped dead in his tracks; he neither knew who he was running from or where he was running to. The voice was everywhere; he had no idea where the danger was. Pressing himself up against the wall, he peered hard into what he knew was the corridor. He could see nothing, just the flashing lights mingled with the darkness. A hand touched his left arm and he lashed out in that direction; taking a few stumbling steps, he soon realised that whoever it was had swiftly moved away.

"Holden, are you still trying to escape me?" the voice spoke once more, then dissolved into mocking laughter.

"Who are you?" Grey demanded. Where are you? He thought in frustration. He felt so useless, so helpless.

He heard the laughter, cruel, unkind laughter ringing in his ears, close by but at the same time somehow distant. He wished desperately that he could get to his quarters, where a spare gun lay in the cabinet. He couldn’t hope to find it, blinded like this with no idea even where he was in the corridor.

"Oh!" came a voice near his ear, making him recoil. "You want to see don’t you?" The voice was tinged with false sympathy. Grey was disorientated, fearful and on the verge of panic. How had anyone managed to do this? He sensed that the woman was nearby and without further word or warning his vision returned whole and unhindered. She was closer than he realised, standing at his shoulder. And there, thankfully, only a few doors away were his quarters. Racing to the door, he slid his access card into the slot and forced himself through the opening door. As he squeezed through the widening gap in the doorway, impatient and desperate to reach his gun, he realised with horror that he had stepped out into nothing. He screamed in terror as he found himself hanging by his fingertips, bitterly cold and gasping for breath. He didn’t know how she had done it, but it wasn’t his quarters at all. Somehow the door led directly outside the base and he clung to the corridor floor for dear life. The woman stood over him laughing.

"I told you, you couldn’t run from me, Holden."

Grey gazed up, terrified and speechless. Fear had taken complete hold of him to the point that he could no longer see the impossibility of what had just happened. Even the fact that there had been no depressurisation hadn’t occurred to him. The biting cold and lack of oxygen felt very real, very real indeed. His fingers felt numb, his mind fogged, it wouldn’t be long before he fell to his death, 40,000 feet below.

"Are you ready to take your task?" she asked.

Grey stared back, teeth chattering, his reply almost incoherent. "Task?"

"You are the Keeper of the Seal. Agree and I will save you."

Grey was confused; he didn’t understand how any of this could be happening. All he knew was that he was within moments of plunging to his death. He could be saved by simply agreeing to perform a task. If the crazy woman believed he would actually do it then that was her problem not his!

"Yes," he called in as strong a voice as he could manage.

The corridor returned to normal. Grey opened his eyes, he lay on the floor of his quarters, everything was as it should be. Pushing himself to his knees, he sighed and looked around, he was alone. For a few moments his eyes glazed over, a distant expression covered his face.

"I am the Keeper of the Seal," he intoned, just moments before passing out.

 

 

Scarlet was once again alone. He let his head flop down onto the bed and let out a heavy sigh, then closed his eyes.

"Do not be afraid," advised the quiet yet assertive voice near his bedside.

Scarlet jerked himself upright, his eyes wide with surprise. Already his gun was in his hand, but somehow he knew he was not under any threat. The white haired, white robed man standing to his right indeed appeared to pose no threat at all to him; he merely stood quietly, apparently waiting for Scarlet to respond.

"Who are you?" asked Scarlet, lowering neither his guard nor his pistol.

"I think you know who I am, Captain."

"Well, you’re wrong. I know why you’re here but nothing about who you are," he replied, unsure how he knew anything.

"My name is Sorfian, I am an Immortal. I have come to warn you."

"About Xaria?" Scarlet frowned. "That much, I know. Tell me why."

"I can tell you certain things, but I can help you very little. What you must do, you must do alone."

Scarlet’s brow creased as he swung his legs off the bed and sat on the edge merely staring at the elderly gentleman.

"Tell me what you can," Scarlet said finally with a worried frown.

"Xaria is the Herald of Antaya, ruler of the Dark World." Sorfian almost spat the words out with contempt. "She must find three willing mortals to open the gateway to the Lower World."

"Willing?" scoffed Scarlet. "Then, I take it your warnings are not required. No one will help her willingly on Cloudbase."

Sorfian smiled at the captain’s naivety. "Do not underestimate Xaria, Captain. She is determined and will do anything for Antaya."

"Hmm," Scarlet frowned. "So, what else?"

"Antaya has a weakness. If she succeeds in opening the Gateway then this is the only way you can defeat her."

"Gateway?" asked Scarlet, unsure of almost everything he was being told.

"The path from the Lower World into yours," Sorfian explained.

"How come you can come here if the Gateway is closed?" Scarlet directed an accusing finger towards his uninvited guest.

"I cannot stay, my time here is limited, as is Xaria’s."

"Then she is actually here?"

"Oh yes, and she has two of the three mortals chosen already."

"What? Who?" Scarlet’s eyes opened wide in horror at Sorfian’s words.

"I cannot tell you that," Sorfian smiled, "you have to discover for yourself. There are rules to every game."

"Game! You think playing with peoples’ lives is a game?"

"But of course, Captain. You are only human. I understand that, you deal in absolutes, good and evil, right and wrong. To you, I suppose we are no different to the Betrayers."

"Betrayers?" asked Scarlet, becoming increasingly lost by the conversation.

"Antaya and her followers. Many, many generations ago, they separated from us to form their own Kingdom. There was much bloodshed. They are…" he paused to find an appropriate phrase, "…not to be trusted."

"And you are?" asked Scarlet with a hint of scepticism in his voice.

Sorfian smiled; it was a sinister, unnerving smile. "You must believe what you feel is right. Now I must leave."

"Wait! You said Antaya has a weakness."

"And that is all I will tell you. You must remember, Captain, I cannot say much. It is written that this will take place and it is up to you to prevent it to save your world. She may not kill you, we protect you. It is allowed for us to intervene in this small way. If she kills you, all is lost to her."

"Why are you so interested?" Scarlet’s eyes narrowed.

"We hold the power over them. Whoever rules the Upper World rules all. If they are successful in their attempts to take what is ours, the balance will shift. It is in our interests to stop her too. But it is not for your sake that we intervene."

"Take what is yours? The Earth doesn’t belong to you!"

Sorfian smiled again. "Captain, we are not interested in power for its own sake, unlike Antaya, but believe me, your continued existence here is entirely within our power. You live because we choose to allow it. The alternative, of existence under Antaya’s rule, would not be pleasant, I assure you."

Scarlet opened his eyes; he was lying on the bed once more. Had it been a dream? No. He was certain. He sighed. Perhaps. He wasn’t sure. Shaken by the experience, he got to his feet. He needed to think. The Promenade Deck, he decided, as ever, was the place he needed to be.

 

***

 

"Hello, Pat," called a cheerful voice from the doorway.

Magenta turned, looking up from his book. He placed a finger over his lips.

"Shh!" he urged. With a broad smile he pointed at the sofa. "Sleeping like a baby."

Rhapsody tilted her head and smiled kindly at the sight of Ochre sleeping peacefully on the sofa, a very slight smile on his face.

"Oh, isn’t that sweet!"

Magenta raised his eyebrows. "I’ll tell him you said that," he said with a mischievous twinkle in his brown eyes. "You know he’s got his eye on you."

Rhapsody blushed. "The very idea!" she exclaimed, eyes wide. "Don’t talk nonsense, Pat!"

The Irishman’s smile broadened. "Yeah, I mean, what would Paul say?"

"What are you…?" Rhapsody was aware that her cheeks were starting to clash with her hair. "Oh, Pat! Do you think that’s funny?" She realised he was teasing her.

"Made me laugh," he replied with a chuckle.

"Yes, well, all I can say is you’ve been spending far too much time with Ochre, if that’s your idea of fun!"

Magenta frowned slightly. Had he just been insulted?

"Who are you looking for?" he muttered, trying once again to find his page.

"Well, I was looking for Paul," she sighed.

"Oh!" Magenta chuckled. Before he’d fallen asleep, Ochre had divulged all the details of his and Blue’s not-so-emergency call. He’d probably added a few extra details of his own, but the story was still funny, regardless.

"Magenta! If you’re going to giggle like a schoolboy…"

"Easy!" he interrupted her. "I’m not talking about your…er…you and…" Magenta was lost for words. Well that wasn’t strictly true, he certainly knew what he wanted to say, but actually saying it was another thing entirely. He knew about Scarlet and Rhapsody, everybody did. Why they wouldn’t just come out and admit it was beyond him. But until they did… Magenta sighed, it wasn’t his place to say anything. Now Rhapsody was standing in her "indignant" pose. Head tilted, glaring, hands on hips. There was something about her, in this mood that just made Magenta want to slip quietly away. Magenta. Charming, witty, articulate Magenta had been reduced to squirming, awkward, tongue-tied Magenta with one withering look.

"I think he’s in his quarters."

"Thank you, Pat," Rhapsody replied lightly. She had an uncanny ability to make Magenta feel awkward around her, when she wanted to.

"He had a bad dream," he tried to explain, but with the moment lost, it came over quite serious. "I wasn’t…oh!" Magenta gave up. "Yeah, he’s in his quarters."

"A bad dream?" Rhapsody frowned. "And that’s funny, is it?"

Magenta sighed. Yes, it had been funny… Well, the way Ochre told it, but he guessed now was not the time.

"No, I guess not," Magenta conceded finally, trying to keep the peace.

Rhapsody smiled again. Poor Pat, she couldn’t leave him like this. He watched with some awkwardness as she walked behind him; then once out of sight, she crouched down and wrapped her arms around his shoulders and brushed her cheek playfully against his.

"Oh, Pat you’re such a worrier!"

Magenta unhooked her hands with great haste and slid out from her impromptu hug. Turning, he saw her grin, her devilish, mischievous grin. Magenta sat on the edge of the seat, wide eyed and blushing. Blushing so severely he clashed with his uniform. Rhapsody stood up and raised her eyebrows; she had never seen Magenta so flustered.

"Oh, Pat, I’m sorry," she said, stifling a laugh. "You just, get back to your book. I’ll go find Paul."

"He’s, uh, in his quarters," repeated Magenta trying hard to regain his composure. Pretending to find his page without even realising his book was upside-down.

" Yes, Pat, you said." Rhapsody thought about telling him about his book but decided against it. The poor man was embarrassed enough. Waving behind her, Rhapsody left the Officers’ Lounge with a slight but very audible chuckle.

 

***

 

Antaya raised her head, she was weary, but soon enough the world would be hers and her strength would return. Yes, the Prophesy allowed her a chance of taking the Upper World, but she was paying a heavy price. If her plan failed, she would pay the greatest price of all. She gazed darkly as Xaria approached. She hoped it would be good news.

"Your Eminence." Xaria bowed deeply. "The Keeper of the Seal is chosen," she announced triumphantly.

"Willingly this time?" asked Antaya rather more harshly than Xaria had expected.

Xaria thought back to the insurmountable fear in Grey’s eyes, as he believed himself about to fall to his death. She smiled maliciously; she had enjoyed his terror.

"Yes, Your Eminence, he was willing." Xaria had, once again, stretched the limits of ‘willing’ to its extremes.

"The Immortal?" Antaya’s voice was filled with concern. "He can still destroy us."

"I am dealing with that now. From my sources, I have discovered that he is not an Immortal, but he is under their protection."

"You cannot kill him, our only chance lies…"

"I am aware of the Prophesy, Your Eminence. He will be dealt with."

"I am relying on you Xaria."

"I won’t let you down, mighty Queen. The Upper World and power over the Immortals will be yours." Xaria swept from the room, determined to fulfil her Queen’s destiny. It was time to deal with the all too human ‘Immortal’.

 

 

It had taken Scarlet a long time to shake off his restlessness following Sorfian’s visit. It was now the earlier hours of the morning and the shaken captain was finally on the verge of sleep. It had been a strange day, not one he understood. On the table lay detailed notes of everything he had been told and dreamt. In the morning he would run it all through the Information Centre computer databanks. There had to be something, just to prove to himself that he wasn’t going crazy. He closed his eyes, and then opened them quickly as he heard the hammering on the door.

"Scarlet! Let me in! Let me in!"

Scarlet could hear the sheer panic in Grey’s voice and jumped to his feet. If there was one thing that could confidently be said about Grey, it was that he was not one to panic. Whatever it was, it was serious. As the door slid back, Grey pushed his way in to the room, almost knocking Scarlet flat in the process. Grey’s face was ashen, his eyes wide in panic.

"Brad, what is it? What’s wrong?" asked Scarlet, his voice filled with concern.

"She’s here, Scarlet, she’s here!" Grey stammered in reply.

"Who? Who’s here?" he asked in reply, although he had a horrible feeling that he already knew the answer.

"Xaria."

It was the answer he had expected, but it was not Grey who had spoken. The voice was a female one and had come from behind him. Turning sharply, he saw her stood in the centre of the room, a smug, superior expression set on her face. His hand went to his holster but was halted as a searing pain shot down his neck and up into his head. Dropping to his knees, he could only watch in dazed astonishment as Grey relieved him of his pistol. Steadying himself on the rim of the table as he tried to recover, he realised that the attack had come from Grey, bringing the full force of a half clenched fist down on the side of his neck. It wasn’t just the ferocity of the blow that overwhelmed him; it was the sight of Grey himself, standing over him like a man possessed. Maybe, he realised, as a second even more vicious blow knocked him to the ground, that was indeed the problem. As the second blow hit him, his grip on the table momentarily held firm. He fell, the table toppled with him, sending a lamp, several books and his notes sliding to the floor in disarray.

Xaria curled her lip in a self-satisfied sneer. These humans were too easy to control, child’s play in fact. At least if they’d put up more of a fight she would have appreciated them as worthy adversaries. They were fools, weak-minded fools. But not this one. She frowned as she nudged the unconscious Scarlet with her foot; he would yet be useful. Turning to Grey, Xaria gave her instructions.

"The Channeller is on her way. You may use the Gateway to the Dark World. Take him; make sure all is prepared for my arrival. If all goes well, as the clock strikes midday, Antaya’s hordes will ride unstoppable, as the Prophesy predicts."

Xaria watched as Grey and Scarlet faded slowly. Raising her eyes she detected Rhapsody standing outside the door, even before she knocked.

Rhapsody’s knuckles had barely touched the door than it was opening already.

"That was quick! How did you…?" Rhapsody’s voice trailed off as she saw the steely-eyed woman with the long chestnut hair, sat opposite her, apparently aware of, even expecting her visit.

"So," began Xaria, pushing her hair backwards, "I imagine you’re looking for the Immortal."

"It’s none of your business!" exclaimed Rhapsody. As she looked around the room she noticed, with alarm, the upturned table. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

"My name is Xaria, I am to take you to the Immortal."

"What are you talking about? Who are you? Where is Captain Scarlet?"

"Ah, you wish to see?" asked Xaria with a low cruel chuckle.

At the wave of her hand an emerald green glow appeared, hovering and shimmering in the centre of the room. Momentarily forgetting her concern over Captain Scarlet, Rhapsody was utterly encapsulated by the glowing orb. Its colour seemed to move within itself, swirling like a cloud. Slowly it began to clear; Rhapsody peered hard. Could she make something out of the murky mist? Was it an eye? It was almost as if a camera was bearing down on its subject then decided to pan back. The eye became a face, the face became a man; a man Rhapsody knew very well.

"Paul!" she gasped without care for regulations. "Where is he? What is this? What have you…?" Rhapsody stopped abruptly as the picture and glowing light disappeared with the speed of a burst bubble. Turning to face Xaria, Rhapsody was left speechless by her gloating expression.

"Shall we?" she asked, at the same time waving her hand. A swirling vortex filled the room and before Rhapsody could even flinch, she felt herself falling.

 

***

 

It was morning and Captain Blue had waited patiently for Scarlet for some time. Now he was waiting impatiently. He had tried his cap mic several times with no response. He had made allowance at first. Scarlet hadn’t been himself the previous day, even managing to be convinced to take time off. That really wasn’t like him. Neither was being late. Blue frowned; he was worried, but if he turned up at Scarlet’s door only to find that his partner had left a long time earlier and he’d made a fuss over nothing, he would never hear the end of it. He looked at his watch again; fifteen minutes. Right that was it; he was going to check on him!

He had only just turned into the corridor approaching the officers’ quarters when he saw Captain Magenta coming towards him. Magenta wore an expression of concern and broke into a run as he saw Blue rounding the corner.

"Blue!" he shouted as he approached him.

"What is it, what’s wrong?" asked Blue. His eyes searched the corridor beyond Magenta, instinctively he knew that there was something wrong with Scarlet.

"Rhapsody didn’t show up for duty in Angel One, there’s not a sign of her anywhere on the base. I checked Scarlet’s quarters." Magenta shrugged, "well, you know," he added with a slight blush. "Anyway, Ochre’s still there, there are signs of a struggle. We don’t know where either of them are."

Blue wanted to see for himself, Ochre could miss something. Perhaps it was concern for his friend that had made him momentarily forget Ochre’s background, but when he and Magenta returned to Scarlet’s quarters, they found Ochre had everything under control. The whole room had been mapped out in minute detail. He was studying it carefully.

"Ah, good. Blue, what do you make of this?" Ochre handed over the notes that Scarlet had made the previous night. "It is… well, shall we say, not typical of Scarlet."

Blue glanced through the notes, detailing Scarlet's dreams and his discussion with Sorfian. To the casual observer, it appeared the ramblings of a disturbed mind. But this was not the case; these were very detailed notes, carefully prepared by Scarlet. At least, hoped Blue, it was not the work of a disturbed mind.

"Paul hasn’t been himself lately," Blue tried to explain.

"You’re telling me!" Ochre replied pointing to the notes. "Now he’s gone missing, and Rhapsody too."

"No one’s seen her since last night, she was coming here," Magenta explained.

"What are you suggesting, Pat? Scarlet’s gone off the deep end or something?" Blue snapped.

"I’m not saying anything," Magenta snapped back. "But if I did, I doubt too many people would contradict me!" he added as Blue fixed him with a glare.

"I think we should check out the notes," Ochre suggested staring thoughtfully at the pad in Blue’s hand.

"Are you serious?" asked Magenta.

Even Blue was surprised.

"Very," replied Ochre with a nod. "It doesn’t matter what we think, if this is real to Scarlet, it might help us learn where he is. Where both of them are."

 

***

 

The vortex stopped suddenly. Rhapsody put out her hand and right foot in an attempt to stop herself from falling only to find to her surprise that her footing was very sure. It was as if she were in the middle of a dream. How could any of this be real? Looking around she found herself standing on a high rock bridge within a vast cave. Beside her stood Xaria, apparently waiting patiently for the inevitable question.

"Where am I?" asked Rhapsody, desperate to hide the shake in her voice.

"Welcome to the Dark World. You are to be the Channeller. You must attune yourself to the surroundings. You will open the Gateway between the Lower and Upper Worlds."

"I have no idea what you’re talking about, but…"

"Oh, but you will," Xaria assured her. "I have something here that will ensure your co-operation."

"Who are you? What are you talking about?" asked Rhapsody nervously.

"Look about."

Rhapsody looked down. Below her was a pit. A deep, dark, seemingly bottomless pit gaped wide in the cave floor. She looked up. A glass case approximately seven feet tall hung from the ceiling on an almost impossibly thin wire. The glass was smoked, a very dark grey, but, was there movement within? No surely there couldn’t be.

Rhapsody screamed with surprise as the flames shot high from the pit. It had been perfectly still before, but now the whole pit raged like a giant furnace. The flames licked high, the heat of them almost overwhelming her. Rhapsody stood back from the edge of the bridge and stared at Xaria.

"Who are you? Where are we?"

"I am Xaria, the Herald of Antaya. You are the Channeller."

"I am no such thing!" replied Rhapsody, her nervousness now being replaced by anger.

"Let’s see if I can’t change your mind."

Xaria indicated for the glass case to be lowered. Slowly it edged closer to the flames. As it did so, the glass began to clear. Rhapsody couldn’t avert her eyes. She had been right; there was something moving. no someone… NO!

"Paul!" Rhapsody cried in horror at the sight of Scarlet enclosed within the glass case, which was very slowly being lowered into the inferno in the abyss below. She turned to Xaria. "Stop! Please no!" Rhapsody begged. Within his tiny glass prison, Scarlet could hear everything being said. He hammered on the front of the case with an open palm.

"No! Rhapsody! Don’t agree to anything, she can’t hurt me! It’s all a show!"

Rhapsody could only see Scarlet’s panic, the case held all the sound inside. Not even the sound of Scarlet’s relentless pounding on the glass escaped. She looked in terror as the flames began to lick around the base of the case.

"What do you want?" asked Rhapsody, in panic as the lower half of the case disappeared within the flames.

"No, Rhapsody! Don’t do it!"

"You are the Channeller, agree and I will save him."

"Dianne! She can’t hurt me! It’s a trick!"

The case sank lower still.

"Yes, anything, I’m the Channeller. Now, let him go!"

The vortex engulfed her once more and within moments she found herself back on Cloudbase, on the floor of the Conference Room.

The three were chosen; it was now just a matter of time.

 

 

"Okay, Pat, I guess it’s a race against time," Ochre said with a smile as he and Magenta reached the Information Centre.

"What is?" asked Magenta looking over his shoulder at Ochre.

"We got the Info Centre, Blue and Grey are taking the library. We have to find Scarlet and Rhapsody soon."

"You think they’re in danger?" asked Magenta with a worried tone.

"No. We are, if we have to tell the Colonel that they’ve gone missing."

"I see what you mean," nodded Magenta, then adding, "Grey? I haven’t seen him since yesterday either."

"Blue’s called him, he’s on his way apparently."

Ochre and Magenta settled themselves each in front of a monitor. Each held a copy of Scarlet’s notes. The answers must surely be in there somewhere.

 

***

 

Seated in the library, Captain Blue was already engrossed with the book he was checking.. He had found a reference, but the piece was short and uninformative. There was a cross reference to another book. Blue was about to search for it but as he rose to his feet he saw Grey standing in the doorway.

"Brad, come in. I’ve got a set of notes for you and…" Blue trailed off as he saw the glazed, distant look in Grey’s eyes. Blue walked over to speak to him.

"Brad, is everything okay?" asked Blue.

Grey tried to step forward, but on reaching the doorway, he screamed as if in agony. Suddenly recoiling, breathless and furious, Grey merely glared at Blue from beyond the library door.

"What’s wrong?" asked Blue, not quite believing his eyes. As he stepped forward, Doctor Fawn stepped into view and again, Blue noticed the same glassy-eyed expression.

As Blue reached the doorway, Rhapsody arrived and took her place alongside Grey. Elated to see her, Blue took a welcoming step forward.

"Rhapsody, we’ve been looking for you everywhere! Where have…" Blue cut off sharply and stumbled back as six arms reached out to grab him. Struggling in the inordinately strong grip of his three friends, he realised that they were no longer his friends. They were controlled by some external power. It occurred immediately to Blue that it could be the work of the Mysterons, but to recoil at merely crossing through a doorway seemed most unlike typical Mysteron behaviour. Unable to pull free, Blue was dragged, under protest, towards the Control Room. Lowering his radiocap mic, Blue cursed in frustration, as all he heard was the sharp hiss of static.

 

***

 

"Captain."

Scarlet looked up. He was imprisoned in an artificial alcove in the cave wall. The entrance was barred, there didn’t even seem to be a door. He had no idea how he’d even got in there, let alone how he’d escape. Now as he looked up, Sorfian stood at the bars. Scarlet rose and approached him.

"Let me out of here!" he demanded.

"Indeed I will, Captain. But first, I will tell you of Antaya’s plans."

"Can we still stop her now that she has all three to open the Gateway?"

"Well, that depends on how resourceful you and your friends are. Yes, she can open the Gateway but you may challenge her. She will have to accept. The method of the challenge will be of her choosing. If you win, she returns to the Dark World and the Upper World is yours for the next thousand years."

"And if I lose?"

"You, your entire planet, lose everything. I suggest you win."

At a wave of Sorfian’s hand, the bars vanished. "I will return you to your base. You must prepare."

 

***

 

"Who are you?" snapped Blue as he entered Cloudbase control to see Xaria seated in Colonel White’s chair.

"I am Xaria. Surely your friend told you of my arrival? Weren’t you listening to him? That’s such a shame. Now you’ll pay for your mistakes."

The door to the Control Room sealed itself securely as Blue was made to stand by Lieutenant Green.

"She just appeared out of thin air," Green tried to explain. "I don’t understand."

"I think this is a little beyond us," nodded Blue. "Now I understand Scarlet’s notes, I just hope…" Blue trailed off hoping that nobody had heard him. Xaria was too busy checking that everything was prepared to even notice that Blue had spoken. Finally satisfied she gave a signal to Grey, Fawn and Rhapsody. The three joined hands in a circle. Within moments the centre of the circle appeared to glow, then pulsate with a bright white light. The controlled trio, whilst still holding hands, were now standing with their arms at full stretch as if the light needed more room. The circle burst apart with a torrent of raging noise. Blue and Green shrank back with their hands over their ears against the deafening noise. Out of the light poured Antaya’s army: hideous beings from the depths of the Dark World, almost filling the Control Room.

In the Information Centre, hearing the commotion, Ochre looked up. "What the…?" he began to query as he stood up and ran to the door.

Magenta flipped a switch to view the sight being recorded by the Control Room cameras. He couldn’t believe the scene on the monitor before him.

"Ochre, no!" he yelled as he saw a vanishing dark yellow tunic with the door closing behind it. Moments later the cameras picked up the sight of Ochre in a losing battle to fight off several demons. Magenta was on his own, with no choice but to lock the door. He couldn’t help anybody by following Ochre; he glanced from the screen to Scarlet’s notes again. He knew! Magenta realised with a sigh. And we all thought he was going crazy! We’re the mad ones to have doubted him! Studying the notes, he prayed that they held t the key to this whole craziness. He had to find that weakness they were mentioning.

 

 

The door to the Control Room slid back and the three captive Spectrum officers breathed a sigh of surprise as Captain Scarlet strode into the room.

"You!" hissed Xaria. "How did…? No, I know. But you are too late. The Gateway is open, there is nothing that you can do now!"

"By right of the Prophesy, I challenge you!" Scarlet barked.

Xaria frowned; there was only one way he could have known about that. The Immortals, infuriatingly, were staying just within their allowed boundary. They would not forfeit the game, even when it was so close.

"You cannot." The voice came from behind Scarlet.

"Behold, Queen Antaya. Your Eminence." Xaria bowed low as Antaya walked gracefully into the room. Her beauty and strength now restored by the impending victory, she seemed to almost light up the room as she walked in. The Gateway now fully open, Antaya had chosen to make her own arrival a subtle yet menacing one. Taking her place as the Ruler come to survey her freshly conquered dominion.

"I am allowed to challenge you. You know I’m right," Scarlet replied defiantly.

Blue smiled faintly at Scarlet’s reply. A room full of demons, and he still retained that same air of confidence.

"Then you know that I may choose the challenge."

Scarlet nodded.

"Very well. You will fight to the death, against…" Antaya paused as she considered who would be the best choice. "You will fight the Channeller."

Scarlet’s eyes opened wide as Rhapsody stepped forward to take up the challenge.

"And in this fight you will not have the protection of the Immortals, neither will you have what protection you seem to have even without them. When she kills you, you will be dead."

Scarlet’s heart pounded. How could he kill his beloved Rhapsody? But how could he not? The future of the Earth rested squarely on this one fight; if he didn’t kill her then, there would be no Earth.

"If only I’d managed to jump back!" Blue admonished himself.

"What are you talking about?" asked Ochre.

"In the library, they couldn’t get in for some reason."

"They don’t seem to have had any trouble controlling any of the other doors," Ochre replied.

"No, it was open, they just couldn’t walk through the doorway, they recoiled, screaming. If I had been able to stay there, I could have helped Magenta." Blue turned to see Ochre’s incredulous expression.

"Yeah! Staying in the library! If I were them, I’d have given up myself," Ochre replied sarcastically.

"I’d found a book about it!" replied Blue sharply, "There would have been two of us looking. There would have been three only a certain hot-headed Captain thought he could take on a horde of demons single-handedly!"

"Well let’s hope he does find something. And quick!" replied Ochre, with a frown, as the battle between Rhapsody and Scarlet seemed about to commence.

 

***

 

"Oh! but you did help me Blue, more than you realise," Magenta murmured to himself as he scrolled up a few screens. He had opened the main communication channel to hear what was happening inside the Control Room. Now that those creatures – whatever they were – had arrived, they seemed less inclined to prevent communication. It was arrogance on their part, believing that the humans could no longer offer any resistance. Well, Magenta laughed quietly to himself, the Mysterons had made that mistake, why shouldn’t these guys? He had earlier discovered something on the legend of Antaya; something he had read and dismissed, that suddenly made much more sense following Blue’s statement. He re-read it now. …and it is said that knowledge is that which they feared above all else… Knowledge. They couldn’t even step through the door to the library. Well, thought Magenta, typing furiously, what are they going to make of this? With a satisfied flourish, Magenta pressed a key to initiate his plan. Over the speakers all over the base, a stream of information, everything held vocally in the base databanks, made itself heard. Knowledge and information on almost every subject from all over the world. Simultaneously, on every viewing screen, scenes of science, history, and literature were displayed for all to see.

"Xaria!" shouted Antaya in panic.

Xaria had overlooked one man; surely this couldn’t be the end? They had come so close. They had concentrated too much on the one protected by the Immortals and had seriously underestimated the others. Xaria looked around; the scene was unthinkable. Antaya’s beauty had already started to fade once more, and the light had returned out of nowhere, pulling back the demons, returning them to the Dark World.

Grey dropped to his knees, shaking his head; alongside him Fawn did the same, blinking as if waking from a long, deep sleep. Rhapsody fell into Scarlet’s arms as she regained control of herself.

"Scarlet! What’s…?" Grey spoke wide-eyed at the sight of the demons being sucked back, unwillingly, into the light.

With a deafening scream, Antaya and Xaria followed. All was still; the Spectrum officers almost not daring to breathe. They had gone. The Demons and the two strange women, leaving everybody who didn’t know wonder what had just happened and what it was all about. And there was ONE question in particular, prominent in all their minds.

How would they explain this to the Colonel on his return?

 

***

 

Captain Ochre opened his eyes and blinked in the bright light.

"About time too!" came a familiar voice beside him. "I thought you were going to miss the party."

Ochre looked to his left. He was in sickbay. Magenta sat at the side of his bed.

"Party? What are you talking about? Is everything ok?" he replied, somewhat confused.

"Yes of course, it is," smiled Magenta.

"You did it, Pat, you did it!" Ochre sat up, exuberant, then promptly slumped back as he felt the pounding headache.

"Hey!" Magenta raised his hands defensively. "I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I definitely didn’t do it!"

"The demons," Ochre tried to explain.

"Demons?" Magenta frowned. "Just how hard did you hit your head when you fell off that ladder?"

"Excuse me? I didn’t fall, you caught the ladder."

"Sorry, Rick, you fell alright. Now come on, get yourself sorted out, the Colonel’s back, and he’s authorised a party. You wouldn’t want to miss this ‘never to be repeated’ sensation would you?"

"Back from his furlough so soon? What’s wrong?"

"Furlough? Rick, he left for a meeting yesterday," replied Magenta with a puzzled expression. "I’m going to get Fawn, your memory…"

"No… no. I’ll be right with you, I just need to wake up."

"Well, be quick about it, I’ll see you in the Lounge."

Ochre watched as Magenta left sickbay. He couldn’t believe he had dreamt it all. But, he must have. That was the only logical explanation.

"Okay, Ochre, you’re fine now," Fawn advised him after a short examination.

"Thanks Doc," smiled Ochre as he rose from the bed.

Fawn turned away to update Ochre’s notes on the computer and Ochre grinned as he saw a long dark reddish brown hair standing out clearly on Fawn’s white coat.

"Hello? What’s this?" Ochre grinned. "Who is she, Doc? One of the nurses?"

Fawn turned, puzzled by the question. Ochre pulled the hair off his coat and with a broad grin, waved the evidence in front of Fawn. Fawn looked Ochre straight in the eye. There was something in his expression that told Ochre that he was genuinely puzzled. Now that he thought about it, Ochre couldn’t remember seeing anyone whose hair would be that colour and length. Nobody, except…Ochre shook his head. No, now he wanted to believe it was a dream.

"I’m off to the Lounge," he said with a slight shake in his voice.

"Yes," nodded Fawn. "I’m about to leave myself, I think I’ll join you. I don’t feel like being here on my own tonight, somehow," he added with a wink. "After all it is Halloween, who knows what might happen?"

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, all characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.  Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, T.V.  media, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.

 

 

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