Original series Suitable for all readersMedium level of violence

 

 

A Fated Encounter - A 'Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons' story by VMR

 

 

Scarlet was on a mission.

It had been given to him by someone he could not say no to. Yet – if he was honest – it was not a mission that he was all that comfortable about doing, as he was going to face a situation that none of the training that he ever had could fully prepare him for. Still, he did agree that it was doubtless the best course of action to take.

As he came to the end of his search, he steeled himself in preparation and stepped through the entrance into the room beyond.

The sunlight and scent of the plants on the Promenade Deck were quite a contrast to the ambiance of Sickbay, and it was one that Scarlet appreciated as he looked around for the target of his mission.  Spotting her, he slowly made his way to her; that gave her time to see him and to decide to stay or go. He hoped that she would remain.

“Dianne’s rather concerned about you, Karen,” he said softly as she turned her head to him.

Turning her gaze away, she replied: “She shouldn’t be. Everything is okay.”

Closing the distance between them, Scarlet stopped. He was close but not too close, giving Symphony enough space not to feel irritated, but hopefully showing her that he was there for support.

“Really? Are you sure, considering what’s happened?” Raising a hand in a gesture of sympathy as she turned back to look at him, he continued: “I know I’m finding it difficult and knowing how much you love him, it must be as distressing for you, if not more. So you can’t tell me that everything’s fine.” He gave a slight shake of his head. “The others are noticing changes and…” This time he inclined his head and fixed his eyes on her. “You’re not making any use of the help Doctor Fawn has provided for us, are you?”

Defiant, Symphony fixed him with a stare. “It won’t change a darn thing, will it? Adam will still be the same and I’m not going to learn anything new from them.” Her glare hardened. “Am I?” A flick of her arm showed her frustration. “They can’t even tell me how long Adam could stay like he is or even…”  Stopping in mid-sentence, Symphony took in a deep breath and Scarlet could see that she had started to tremble as she completely turned her back to him. He closed the remaining space between them, and heard her quietly finish: “…that he’ll not die.”

He hated this situation; how could he help Symphony deal with how she felt, when he too had similar worries? It was then that he heard the sound that often flummoxed men, causing him to wrap her in a compassionate hug and as he did so, she turned and laid her head on his shoulder, and let her tears flow.

Standing there, the English Captain couldn’t help but recall the events that had led to this situation. The Mysterons’ threat to the undersea mines in Greece, which brought about an invitation to Grey and Ochre to a dinner celebrating the Mysterons defeat; their abduction from the restaurant where the dinner was held by a secret cult that worshiped an ancient goddess; the consequential finding of them, drugged and abused in a cultic ritual, the end result of which rendered them unfit for active duty.

A sigh of sadness escaped Scarlet as he remembered just how everyone felt when it looked certain that Grey and Ochre’s condition was permanent. No one liked the thought of losing them from the frontline, but there didn’t seem to be a way to change things. Until Blue came up with his crazy notion.

Scarlet gave Symphony a squeeze of reassurance as he was certain that she would be blaming herself for giving Blue the idea to begin with. Still, it worked, to a point; Doctor Fawn had declared Grey and Ochre once more fit for active duty. However, that didn’t change the fact that Blue ended up paying a heavy price for the outcome.

What on Earth possessed Blue, to make him think that contacting the goddess, whose followers caused the harm to Grey and Ochre in the first place, was a good idea? Scarlet didn’t know but he wished to high hell that it had not happened. For now, his best friend, field partner, brother of the heart, and someone very important to him –Adam – was lying in Cloudbase’s sickbay, in a deep coma. He had been that way for over four weeks, ever since Scarlet had brought him back after finding him unconscious at a villa in Turkey. How exactly Blue had got that way, Scarlet didn’t know and the fact that there was nothing he could do about it, well, it left him with an anger he didn’t know quite what to do with. Scarlet just wished that the last four months had not happened.

No, it hadn’t been easy and Symphony wasn’t the only one to be troubled by Blue’s condition. Grey and Ochre had been firmly spoken to, about feeling guilty for their perceived part in Blue ending up in a coma. And Scarlet himself was feeling rather disquiet about it, as well as a little lost without Blue’s presence in the daily scheme of things. Oh, the feeling of disparity was not quite as bad as it had been when Scarlet first broke free of the Mysterons. He had, in fact, become hardly aware of it, but now, for some reason, it was back, hanging around in the back of his awareness like a pair of ill-fitting boots.

Stroking Symphony’s shoulders in a sympathetic gesture, Scarlet gazed through the windows, focusing on nothing. The one good thing since that mission in Greece was there had not been another Mysteron threat. They had been quiet from then.

 

THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US EARTHMEN. WE HAVE VOWED OUR VENGEANCE FOR YOUR SHOW OF VIOLENCE TOWARDS OUR CITY ON MARS. WE WILL DESTROY THE COLONEL WHO IS THE HEAD OF PROJECT CONFIDENT, AND ONE WHO HAS GRADUATED FROM WEST POINT. THE PROJECT WILL NOT SUCCEED.

 

Hell! Well, so much for that.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

“Members of Spectrum…” The precise and measured English voice of Colonel White was quite a contrast from the unearthly sombre timbre of the message that Lieutenant Green had replayed for everyone’s benefit. It was clearly heard by all who were seated around the Conference Room’s table. “You have now all heard the latest Mysteron threat. Thankfully, this one is very clear, and we have already been able to determine who their target is.”

He gestured to the captains to open the folders in front of them. The first item in them was a photograph.

“This is Colonel Shane Walsh. A W.S.P. officer, he graduated with honour from West Point twenty years ago. He’s a brilliant tactician and a genius in telecommunication, whose researches and discoveries have done a lot for the advancement in that field. He’s the man in command of Project Confident, which is about to revolutionized space communication, and so, he is essential for the Project to reach its successful conclusion. Our task will be to protect him, and it will not be easy, as he will not be staying in a Maximum Security Building.”

“And why is that, sir?” Captain Magenta asked.

“Because of the nature of Project Confident, it is crucial for Colonel Walsh to be able to oversee all sectors of activities. So we will be required to provide protection with that in mind.”

“Is it true that this new communication system Colonel Walsh is working on uses Neutroni waves, Colonel?” Captain Zaffre asked.

“Yes, Captain. Colonel Walsh has found a way to make use of their unique properties. He is certain that they will eliminate the time lag present in current communications, giving us almost instantaneous contact in space.”

“That would be one heck of an advantage, sir,” Captain Ochre said. “I take it, because of the threat, that Project Confident has reached a crucial point?”

Colonel White gave a slight nod towards Ochre. “You are correct. The project’s teams have done all the testing they can do here and on the moon. They now need to test it over a greater distance. For this reason Fireball XL 2 has taken up station by Callisto, a moon of Jupiter, so the next stage of testing can be done. It will also allow for verification of other significant characteristics. One of which could be very important to Spectrum.”

“And that would be what, sir?” An intrigued Captain Scarlet enquired.

“Neutroni waves might be invulnerable to Mysteron interception.” The colonel sat back and watched the captains’ reactions. Then with a light cough, White swivelled his chair around to face Ochre and Grey. “These are your assignments. Captains Magenta, Ochre, Grey, and Sepia, the four of you, working in pairs, will be acting as bodyguards for Colonel Walsh.”

“S.I.G.,” the four men answered in unison.

“Grey, Ochre, due to your experience you are the senior captains for this assignment. Captain Scarlet will be the over all field commander.”

“S.I.G., sir,” Scarlet acknowledged.

“Captains Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre, you’re assigned to check security of the sites Colonel Walsh will be visiting, before he arrives there.”

With a wave, White indicated to folders in front of the captains. “All the information you need can be found inside these files.” He watched as his men opened the folders and began to check the content. “Project Confident is of great importance and I am not surprised that the Mysterons have targeted it,” he continued. “This will not be easy but I am certain that all of you will carry out your duty to the best of your abilities.” After giving each captain a look and nod of approval, he dismissed them.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Arriving at the main compound of Project Confident at Cape Canaveral, Captains Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre, got straight on to their jobs. Jade, with the support of Spectrum’s ground staff from Orlando, started to check for bombs or any other booby traps which could have been planted in the area. The team led by Zaffre began to check the personnel’s background and to test them with Mysteron detectors. As for Captain Scarlet and his team, they instigated an assessment of the security that was already in place.

‘Thank goodness, the colonel was able to get Colonel Walsh to spend some time in a M.S.B. while we make all these preliminary verifications,’ Scarlet pondered. ‘That will give us a chance to be ahead and get the sites inspected before he arrives. Still, we have very little time. We are going to have to work with military-like precision to do it properly.’ He felt a slight sense of amusement as that thought came to his mind. ‘That shouldn’t be hard for some of us.’

The task was a big one as Colonel Walsh would also be visiting two other sites: Space City, that Scarlet thought was going to be interesting, and a tracking station on Isabela in the Galapagos Islands.

Getting on with the job, the English Captain was grateful that the compounds security was as efficient as it was. It certainly ensured an easier workload and thankfully, they had it all checked out and secured as Colonel Walsh turned up, with Captains Ochre and Magenta in tow.

After a quick exchange of information and hand-over of duties to the other captains’ ground base assistants, Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre left for Colonel Walsh’s next destination: Space City in the South Pacific, to once again prepare the ground for Walsh’s visit.

 

 

*************

 

Stretching, Captain Scarlet contemplated the view from the balcony of the room he and Captains Jade and Zaffre had been assigned in Space City. Their inspection had gone well, as usual, and the three of them were supposed to be catching some sleep, before heading to the tracking station on Isabela, Colonel Shane Walsh’s next place to visit.

Looking seaward, he could just make out the end of the launching track, its rails and supports bathed in the afternoon’s sun. There was still a feeling of ‘newness’ to Space City, even though it had started to merge into the topical island on which it was built. The headquarters of the World Space Patrol had been relocated here, when the first prototype of the Fireball XL rocket had been built, the sonic boom from its launching making it imperative for it to be well away from other places. The increase of the fleet was slow, and there were only three rockets up to this point. The building of the next one, Fireball XL4, had just been commissioned.

With a sad smile, Scarlet recalled that Captain Black had spent time there, in charge of Fireball XL 3, the most advanced rocket of the fleet, before he left to help set up Spectrum. His smile turned into a slight frown, as Scarlet reflected on all that had happened since then: the commissioning of Spectrum… Black’s ill-fated expedition to Mars, where he ordered the destruction of the Mysterons’ city… the Mysterons’ first strike… the attempted assassination of the World President, which ended up with him being kidnapped instead.

A shiver of uneasiness ran through Scarlet. Even though he didn’t remember a thing about what he had done under the Mysterons’ influence, he could never think about it without a shiver running down his spine. The Mysterons had killed then replicated him, so that he could be used to abduct the president. If it hadn’t been for the fact that his colleagues succeeded in trapping him on top of the Car-Vu tower, and without Captain Blue risking his life to stop him by shooting him, Scarlet didn’t know what could have happened. He shivered once more. ‘In all likelihood, the Mysterons would have succeeded in their first mission, and who knows how that would have changed things? What would have become of me, then?’

But Spectrum had succeeded and now he lived in a body that was not really his. Oh, he looked exactly like he had before the Mysterons killed him, for that was their modus operandi. However, there was one big difference. He now was able to heal –very quickly – from injuries, even those that caused death. At least, he had so far. No-one, not ever he, knew for sure just how indestructible he really was.

With a shake of his head, he turned his thoughts away from that line of thinking and once more considered their assignment. He had to agree with Colonel White’s assessment: there was no way the Mysterons would want Project Confident to succeed.

The Neutroni waves had been known about for years, but using them the way Colonel Shane Walsh had come up with was revolutionary. His researches and discovery, not to mention his unique knowledge and passion of the subject, meant that he was an invaluable part of the Project. No one could replace him.

‘So far so good,’ thought Scarlet. ‘But we still have Isabela to check over before Colonel Walsh goes there. Then it’s back to Cape Canaveral, when the testing will begin. When are the Mysterons going to strike? No doubt they will attack soon.’

As he watched the wind move the palm fronds, he reviewed in his mind the security inspection he had run here in Space City. ‘It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I didn’t come across as much resentment as I envisioned we would, considering that the “Top Brass” of W.S.P. have their noses out of joint because it was Spectrum who received the mandate to deal with the Mysterons, and not them.’ Scarlet almost snickered, as the thought of how out of their depth the World Space Patrol would be if that had been the case. He very quickly sobered; when he thought about it, it really was not a laughable matter. Scarlet considered how disastrous that might have been if the Word Space Patrol had received that mandate to begin with; they would quickly have been out of their depth. Considering the Mysterons abilities, the W.S.P. would not have had a chance in hell. Only an anti-terrorist organization, like Spectrum could face them, with any chance of success. He certainly knew all about it.

He shook off the gloom that had settled on him.

‘Like most members of the armed forces, the guys in the lower ranks don’t have any idea just what the Mysterons are. Well, whatever the case, at least there was no treading on anyone’s toes. The Mysterons are Spectrum’s business and it looks like they will leave us to do our work properly.’

He took a deep breathe of the topical air, entered the room and walked towards his bed. ‘I should try and get some sleep. There’s still a lot to do tomorrow… and a lot could happen. The Mysterons are likely to make a move sooner or later. They’ve been too quiet up until now. They’re sure to attack soon.’

He was a little unsettled, and missed the surety of Captain Blue‘s support; he was also aware of the unspoken reason why Colonel White had paired him with Jade and Zaffre. Technically, this was their first mission as Cloudbase Captains, and Scarlet knew that the colonel would very much like for them to survive it.

He lay in his bed and got comfortable, resting his head on the pillow. Unsurprisingly, he found he couldn’t fall asleep; after all it was only late afternoon here. Nevertheless, he and his two colleagues had been on the go for over sixteen hours.

‘Blasted time zones.’

He tried the relaxing disciplines he had learned at West Point for going to sleep. He needed to be in top form for what might come ahead.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

A cup of coffee in his hand, Captain Magenta stood in the terminal lounge of the WSP’s Isabela Tracking Station waiting for the arrival of Colonel Walsh. This was the last place the colonel had to check before heading back to Cape Canaveral to begin the testing. Captains Grey and Sepia had taken over from him and Ochre at Space City, allowing them to go ahead and rest up. They had briefly meet up with Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre before those three had left to make sure that Cape Canaveral was still secure.

It had been two long days. Gazing thoughtfully through one of the many windows, Magenta watch as a group of technicians worked on one of the satellite dishes. As he watched them, a myriad of thoughts ran through his mind; a smile tugged at his lips, at he thought with some amusement at Ochre’s earlier comment about the name Walsh had given to his project: ‘Confident’. ‘Okay,’ Ochre had said, ‘so it’s an acronym for Capturing and Organizing Neutroni For Data Transferring. Still couldn’t they have found one that didn’t sound so pompous?’

Magenta had to chuckle. Being Irish he certainly enjoyed the humour and the irony. That was probably one of the reasons why he and Ochre got on so well. He had to agree that naming the project ‘Confident’ did seem to be a bit like waving a red rag in front of a bull.

However, everything seemed to be going well. All the time and effort put in setting up the network to test the Neutroni communication system seem to be going without a hitch.

The tracking stations here in Isabela, in Cape Canaveral and also in Space City had locked on Fireball XL2 which had reached its destination two days ago, and was now in orbit around Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons, waiting for the test to start. Any change in the interspatial craft’s position would be known instantly.

The system was ready to go, and properly backed up, should the worst should happened. All it really needed was to apply a few modifications to the program, so to nullify the effect of Jupiter’s magnetic influence.

The main test for Project Confident, which was to take place at Cape Canaveral, could now proceed according to plan.

The sight of a plane coming in to land caught Magenta’s eye, and he found he was growing nervous, as the time for the test got closer. Apprehension plagued the Irish Captain, leaving him tensed and on edge because so far there been no sign of the Mysterons trying to carry out their threat. If they were to make a move it would be soon.

 ‘When are they going to strike?’ he wondered. ‘Maybe they already did.’  He thought of that flock of birds that Grey’s S.P.J. had collided with earlier in its flight; there had been no way for the jet to avoid them. That cost the craft one of its two engines, but fortunately, the S.P.J. could fly with only one. So they were still able to continue on to here. It was a risk, but it had been deemed as being less of a one, than landing at an unsecured airport.

‘Maybe it was an attempt from the Mysterons,’ Magenta reflected. He shrugged at the thought. ‘If it was, then they failed. Although with one engine down, it means that Ochre and I will have to use the S.P.J. that would have taken Grey and Sepia on ahead.  At least the slower trip hasn’t caused a big delay; Colonel Walsh still has most of the day to check out the tracking station. Unfortunately it does mean that we will end up arriving at Cape Canaveral later than we had planed.’

He heard the sound of a door opening and Ochre’s greeting: “Morning.”

With a spin, Magenta faced Ochre, returning the greeting before adding, “Good timing. They are just coming in to land now.”

“I know. Obviously, there’s been no other dramas or we would have heard,” Ochre said as he joined Magenta by the window. “Ah… Not a bad landing, Grey,” he noted as they watched the S.P.J. touched down.

“True, especially considering he had only one engine.”

“That may be Magenta, but with the training we had, we had better be able to land well with one or even no engines.”

“You’re right, but you have to admit that learning that stuff was easier for you, Scarlet and those other fly boys, Blue and Brown. You four were already good at flying.”

“Oh, don’t be too hard on yourself, Pat, you’ve turned out to be not a bad pilot, really.”

Magenta very lightly sighed; he knew that it was a compliment but he could also hear the slight testing tone in it.

Both of them watched as the plane taxied to its designated spot and powered down. As it did so, the Angel interceptors that were escorting it also landed.

Very soon, the S.P.J. hatch opened and Sepia started down its steps, followed by Colonel Walsh, and then Grey. The three of them quickly made their way to the terminal lounge’s outer door.

“Here you are, sir,” Grey stated as he closed the door. “Our apologies for the delay, Colonel. I hope it will not be too much of inconvenience for you?”

With a gesture of acceptance, the colonel answered: “Not at all. Although I do have a tight schedule, it’s not one that is ordered minute by minute. So a little bit of lost time here or there, it’s not a major concern. And I could hardly hold you responsible for the birds that collided with our plane, Captain.”

“Thank you, sir,” Grey answered. “Captain Ochre and Magenta will be taking over as your bodyguards for your visit of Isabela. Now, due to the incident with the birds, there’s been a slight change: Captain Sepia and I will join Captain Ochre and Captain Magenta to escort you back to Cape Canaveral. We want to make sure you’ll safely reach destination. Captain Sepia and I will be at your side from the moment we leave, and Captains Ochre and Captain Magenta will be your pilots.” He grinned.  And I can assure you, it will be in a different S.P.J.” Turning, he faced Ochre. “It has arrived?”

“Yes,” Ochre answered. “It is currently being checked, fuelled and will be ready to go when required.”

“That is good to hear, Captain.” Colonel Walsh said, entering the conversation. “However, even though I’m not pushed for time, it would be nice to get on with what I must do.”

“Certainly, sir.” Ochre replied as he headed to the door that lead to the corridor, followed by the colonel.

“See you two when we take off and do try and get some rest,” said Magenta to Grey and Sepia, before he also headed to the door. “Don’t spend all your time entertaining the Angels,” he added as he followed the colonel.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

After completing the check on the W.S.P. Tracking Station in Isabela where they had crossed path with Ochre and Magenta, Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre had boarded their S.P.J. and headed back to Project Confident’s main compound at Cape Canaveral. While on route Scarlet contacted Cloudbase and was informed that the S.P.J. being used to transport Colonel Walsh. Had lost an engine due to bird strike but was still on course to land at Isabela. No further problems had been reported. That made Scarlet slightly on edge. Delays were to be expected, but that incident with the birds… it couldn’t be a coincidence.

He passed the news onto Jade and Zaffre, who expressed the same speculation that he had. Had the Mysterons caused it or had it been just bad luck? For the moment they had no way of knowing. Making himself comfortable, he began to discuss the up and coming inspection with Jade and Zaffre

Arriving late morning – Cape Canaveral time – the three Spectrum officers started rechecking the compound security, in much the same way they had done it a few days before.

They were partway through their inspecting, when Scarlet was contacted by Lieutenant Green, to inform him that Colonel Walsh had encountered a problem implementing a modification to the tracking program and it was going to take a bit of time to resolve. Which meant that Colonel Walsh and his escort would not be arriving until sometime the next day. Lieutenant Green assured Scarlet that as soon as he knew more precisely when, he would let him know.

The next day progressed without incident. Still, Scarlet, Jade and Zaffre were pretty much on edge as there hadn’t been any other trouble. When were the Mysterons going to strike? Soon, no doubt.

Scarlet looked at his watch. It was early in the afternoon and the S.P.J. carrying Colonel Walsh was now on its way. ‘At least those guys had no more difficulties. I wonder if that delay has thrown the Mysterons plans out of line? Unless they caused the glitch to begin with?’ He shook his head. ‘No. According to Green, Magenta looked into it and he was certain that it wasn’t the case. So how and when are they going to attack? That’s the question, isn’t it? At least Ochre will be piloting the S.P.J. He’s the best of the four. I hope they don’t run into any more trouble.’ Again he shook his head; he knew that there was a very good chance that they might.

“Everything’s okay, Captain?” Zaffre asked, as he noted Scarlet’s head shakes. He and Scarlet were in the compound’s main guard room. Scarlet had been checking the CCTV monitors while his colleague had been going over maps and building plans, making sure that he and his team had checked all the nooks and crannies.

“Yes. It’s just the not knowing what ‘they’ are going to do is annoying me.”

Zaffre nodded in acknowledgement.

Scarlet rechecked his watch. “It’s time for another perimeter check, anyway. I’ll get on with it.”

“S.I.G. I’ll let you and Jade know if anything is spotted on the monitors.”

“Of course, Captain,” Scarlet replied as he went through the door.

Scarlet started to check in with the Spectrum guards; that all was well. Traversing the gap between two of them, he looked beyond the fence to a group of warehouses that he knew held components that went into the fuel used by rockets for space travelling. They were not that close – about a kilometre away – but he was nonetheless concerned about the risk they could present.

Walking slowly along the fence line towards one of the compound’s gates, Scarlet started to feel a familiar feeling of queasiness that he knew all too well. He looked around, trying to work out what could have triggered it. His scan took in the guards at the gate, and a technician who just cleared the gate to leave. Up the alley leading away from the gate, there were two other technicians, who were heading to a building in the opposite direction.

The queasy sensation didn’t lessen as the two technicians entered the building, closing the door behind them, and they disappeared from Scarlet’s view. Obviously they weren’t the cause of it, so the English Captain dismissed them. That left the guards at the gate and the other employee.

He moved faster towards the gate, radioing Jade to ask him if the guards at the various gates had been checked. According to Jade, they all had been.

 “Why?  Do you have reasons to believe they might not be clean, Captain?” Jade asked.

“I don’t know,” Scarlet answered.  “I’ve got this strange feeling, you know… that something is off.”

He almost heard Jade’s sharp intake of air. “Yes, I know, Captain.  It is possible that, since we scanned the guards, something might have happened to them.”

Scarlet nodded to himself. Pulling his Mysteron detector, he took a quick overall snap of the guards. The picture he retrieved from the detector a few seconds later confirmed their Mysteron-free state.

That left the focus on the person who had left the compound. Unfortunately, that man had gotten too far away for him to test.

Scarlet didn’t want to accuse an innocent man; he needed to test him to be sure. But to test him, he would have to follow.

“The guards at Gate 2 are cleared, Captain Jade,” he informed his colleague through his cap mike. “But there is one possibly suspicious individual that just left the compound that I need to check. I’m going to follow him, just to make sure.”

“Shouldn’t you wait for us to join you, Captain?” Jade asked in concern. “You shouldn’t do this alone. What about Jefferson and Morley? They are near you and could serve as backup. Aren’t they with you?”

“No, leave them where they are. I don’t want to give the Mysterons any opportunities. This could turn out to be a false alarm,” Scarlet explained.

“Then I’ll come with you.”

“You still have to make sure the compound is safe. Just inform Jefferson and Morley of what I’m doing and tell them to join me when they have been relieved. That is, if I had not finished first. This should only be a formality.”

“S.I.G., Captain. I’ll tell Captain Zaffre what’s going on.” There was some reluctance in Jade’s voice, but he just knew that Scarlet was right: they still need to secure the compound and that left Scarlet to do what he needed to do on his own.

Scarlet left the compound and, with a quickened pace, started to close the distance between him and his suspect.

He started to become really concerned when after a while, he noticed the direction they were taking.

They were going towards the warehouses he had been checking earlier.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

 

The unexpected problem with the tracking software had delayed their departure until the next day. And morning had half gone before they were on their way again. Now, partway into their flight back to the cape, something was nagging Magenta. The feeling had started not long after they had taken off, and had refused to go away even through the business of settling into the flight. Now, in the monotony of mid-flight, it was very hard to ignore.

It was a half-formed thought, a worry that refused to be pinned down. It was like the feeling he sometimes got, back when he used his skills and wits on the other side of the law – a warning that things were about to go to hell.

A part from the software glitch, Colonel Walsh’s inspection of the tracking station in Isabela had gone well. No trouble there. The pre-flight inspection and refuelling had happen with no problems and the flight so far had been good. The Angels were in place and even the weather forecast was excellent, although the plane had gone through the end of a severe front during his earlier flight between the maintenance base in Bogota to Isabela. Now everything seemed fine.

Magenta looked over to Ochre, who looked comfortable, even happy, as he handled the jet with ease. There didn’t seem to be anything to worry about there. Magenta checked the instruments; their readings looked normal. He contacted Grey who was in the passenger area, along with Colonel Walsh and Sepia, to check that all was well with them. When he reported everything was, it didn’t make that feeling that something was odd go away.

 ‘Scarlet has his sixth sense about the Mysterons. I have mine. I’ve always trusted my instincts. So what is it that’s making me feel so ill-at-ease?’

Sitting back, he tried to concentrate. Was it the birds which collided earlier with Grey and Sepia’s plane? There certainly was a little of that, but he knew it wasn’t all. The bad weather that this Spectrum Passenger Jet went through? Maybe, but when it had finally arrived, everything seemed normal. Magenta could not help but give his head a shake. They were too close to the actual testing of Project Confident now for the Mysterons not to use every opportunity to strike and sabotage it. Birds flight… Bad weather… They might not have created that, but they certainly could have used it.

‘How?’

“What’s up?” Noting his colleague’s pensive look and head shake, Ochre had engaged the auto-pilot and was now looking at him.

“I’m not sure,” Magenta replied in frustration. “Something doesn’t feel exactly right.” He shrugged. “But I can’t put my finger on it.”

Troubled, Ochre nodded acknowledgement. “I know what you mean. The Mysterons have to make a move and it has to be soon. They don‘t make idle threats.”

 “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Magenta said with a frown. “And I was also thinking… Maybe they had made their move.”

“In Space City? Isabela? Scarlet gave us the all-clear for both areas.”

Magenta shook his head. “Maybe… I don’t know.”

“Okay.” nodding again, Ochre paused, contemplating. “Apart from the birds taking out the other jet’s engine, there’s been no other hiccup that we know about.”

“I know and that’s one of the things worrying me.”

“Why? We aren’t flying that jet and we checked the crew of this one. They weren’t Mysterons.”

Magenta lifted his hands, palms up. “I just don’t know, Ochre, but I know something isn’t right.”

“Well let me know as soon as you figure it out, then we might be able to do something about it,” Ochre said as he returned his attention back to flying.

Magenta’s gaze ran around the cockpit; he noted the jet’s coordinates and he realized that they would soon be crossing the coast of Costa Rica. As his eyes crossed over the reinforcement that divided the cockpit windows, a horrid feeling came over him. There wasn’t the scratch that he knew should be there.

Twisting partly out of his seat, he checked the jet’s commissioning plate that was on the bulkhead separating the cockpit from the passenger area.

A low grunt escaped his lips and Ochre turned to him.

“What is it?”

Magenta held up a hand as he investigated. “Oh hell… This can’t be right, can it?”

“What isn’t right?” Ochre asked with a certain amount of concern.

“What S.P.J. did Green say this was supposed to be?”

“Supposed to be? S.P.J. Alpha 4-3. Why?”

“I thought so. That’s what I remember.” Returning his gaze to Ochre he replied, “this is not S.P.J. Alpha 4-3.”

Ochre stared at him. “What? How can that be? What does it mean?”

“That’s exactly my question.” Magenta looked straight at Ochre as he sat back in his seat. “That’s what’s been bothering me. I helped do some computer upgrades on Alpha 4-3 about a week ago, as it was going through its annual overhaul. This cockpit…” He waved around. “…is not the same cockpit. It’s very similar, but a small mark that one of the techs accidentally made; it’s not there.”

“So if this is not 4-3 then what one is it?”

“S.P.J. Alpha 3-8.” Magenta said, as he checked out some information on the onboard computer.

“Alpha 3-8? Now why does that sound familiar? And does it mean we are in big trouble? Maybe Alpha 4-3 had a problem and they sent this one instead?” But a thought came quickly into his mind and he dismissed that. “But of course, Lieutenant Green would have informed us if it was the case, and its crew used the designation of Alpha 4-3 when they were talking to the air traffic controller, I was there. So what’s going on?”

A grim look came to Magenta’s face as he looked into the computer’s screen. “According to its commission data plate, this is indeed Alpha 3-8,” he said. He nodded to the screen. “And according to this info from Spectrum’s central computer, 3-8 has been reported crashing while being tested after an engine overhaul.”

“Hell,” Ochre muttered. “The Mysterons must have exchanged planes somehow.  And neither the pilots nor anyone else noticed a thing.”

Magenta confirmed Ochre’s realization with a nod.

“How the hell could this have happened and what can we do about it?” A tensed Ochre asked.

“Should we try to land?” Magenta suggested.

“Where?”

Magenta made a quick survey of their navigation chart. “The closest airports are Siuna or Rosita.”

“S.I.G.” Ochre applied pressure to one of the pedals controlling the plane’s rudder. Nothing happened. He cursed. “That figures. It’s not responding. Looks like we’re locked onto this course. If we had any doubt about the Mysterons’ involvement and we’re in trouble, guess that answers it.”

“Then there’s only one thing we can do,” stated Magenta.

“If we can,” Ochre retorted. “This plane’s a Mysteron reconstruct. We might not be able to do anything.”

“We don’t know what the Mysterons have planned exactly,” Magenta reasoned. “Or even if they realized that we now know. Maybe we still have a chance to make it work, if we act fast enough, before they find us out.”

Ochre nodded grimly. “You’re right and really what else can we try? I’ll inform the Angels. You better let the others know what’s going on. They have to be ready and at this height, it will have to be the full kit.”

“S.I.G., Captain Ochre,” Magenta replied before making his way to the passenger area.

 

 

*************

 

Three sets of eyes locked onto Magenta as he entered the cabin; there was a definite look of enquiry on Grey’s face.

“What’s happened?” Grey asked.

“The three of you need to prepare to eject. We need to leave the jet,” he replied, surprising them. He flicked a quick look at Colonel Walsh before continuing, “Ochre and I have just found out that the Mysterons have had a hand in an upgrade of this S.P.J.”

“Are you sure?” queried Grey, needing confirmation.

“Yes.”

“Do you mean that they have managed to sabotage this plane?” Colonel Walsh asked, incredulously.

Magenta acknowledged the colonel’s question with a nod. “I’m afraid so, sir. Please follow Captain Grey’s instructions and we will be able to foil the Mysterons plans.”

“But…”

“Colonel,” Grey interrupted him, “Captain Magenta would not tell us to do this, unless it was really necessary. Now time is of the essence, so please follow my instructions.”

Nods passed between the captains and Magenta felt happy to leave the colonel in Grey’s capable hands.

“I’ll flash you when we are ready.” Grey told him as Magenta headed back to cockpit.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Something seemed odd to Scarlet; obviously, his target should be aware that he was being followed; as he was getting nearer, the Spectrum Captain had made no attempt to hide his presence. However, the man either didn’t seem to have noticed him or didn’t seem to care. That made Scarlet even more wary. Still, at least he would soon be close enough to confirm that this person was indeed a Mysteron agent – even though the queasiness hadn’t left him.

As Scarlet was about to make use of the detector, his quarry suddenly sped up and hurried to the nearest warehouse.

Cursing, Scarlet broke into a run himself; he was just able to get near enough to get a photo as his target went through a door. Scarlet checked the picture; it confirmed what he had already suspected.

Now he was free to do whatever was needed to stop the Mysterons’ schemes.

He lowered his cap microphone. “Scarlet to Zaffre and Jade…  Mysteron suspect confirmed. He has now entered the first building of the warehouses complex set one kilometre east of Gate 2. I’m about to follow to apprehend him. Will need support A.S.A.P.”

“S.I.G., Captain Scarlet,” Zaffre answered immediately. “Support’s on its way. Be careful.”

“S.I.G.”

Scarlet stood in front of the door leading into the warehouse his quarry had disappeared into. He put the Mysteron detector down by the door; the bulky equipment would only hinder him in his movements if he was to bring it along. Then, un-holstering his gun, he carefully entered. He found himself in the middle of a long, dark passageway that ran along the side of the building, with aisles branching off it. Each aisle was bordered from floor to ceiling of shelves of large drums and huge boxes.

‘Now where has that Mysteron gone? This is not going to be easy.’ Scarlet was not happy with the thought.

Walking carefully down along the main passageway, he tried to use his built-in detector, to see if he could pinpoint which way he needed to go. He never had tried this before, but he hoped that if he was able to concentrate enough, maybe then he would be able to use his sixth sense to track down his quarry.

With all his senses intensified and his gun at the ready, he carefully made his way through the aisles between the contents on the shelves. For the moment, he was on his own. Back up was on its way, but it wasn’t going to arrive anytime soon.

Moving down an aisle, his eyes caught the warning printed on the drums stacked on the many shelves, indicating that the drums contained a caustic and volatile substance. That wasn’t very reassuring. He almost drew a sigh of relief when he reached a part of the aisle where the shelves were stacked with huge boxes.

He spotted some movement at the far end. That made him stop in his track and he stood there, his gun at the ready.

Surprise ran through him as Captain Black stepped into sight.

“You!” Scarlet spat between his teeth.

“This time we will destroy you, Captain Scarlet.” Black intoned. “You have done what we knew you would, and there will be no escape for you. Our threat will be carried out.”

Scarlet’s finger was already stroking the trigger; he froze and looked at Black with puzzlement. “What? What about Colonel Walsh? Are you not after him?” He had to know, for the threat had seemed to be as clear as day. Had they misinterpreted it? If they had, he had to know, and then inform the others.

“We are. We also threatened you. Remember the wording of the threat. We named three objectives: destroying you, Colonel Walsh and stopping Project Confident. The destruction of the colonel is underway. And yours will happen now. Goodbye, Captain Scarlet.”

Before Scarlet could even decide to move, a rain of boxes came down on him from both sides of the aisle, knocking him to the floor and pounding his breath from his lungs. As he tried to rally in order to retaliate, he felt a very heavy box falling straight onto his right leg. He cried out. The very audible crack and the pain he felt made him realize that it was likely broken.

He couldn’t get up; he soon found himself buried under more fallen boxes. They were crushing him and his ribs felt broken; he could feel the sharp pain each time he took in air.

The corner of another falling box hit him in the upper part of his right arm and shoulder; the blow almost made him pass out. As he lay there, fighting against oblivion, totally at Captain Black’s mercy, he knew that there was not going to be any way he could get himself out of this.

Partly conscious, he wondered were Blue was, why he wasn’t coming to his rescue – until he remembered that his usual partner was still in a coma, in Cloudbase’s sickbay. That thought caused him a sense of anguish, making the situation harder for the English captain to endure.

He could not hold on any longer and as his awareness faded, he became aware of a loud noise, a flash of light and a wave of heat. The debris under which he was buried was burning. It was a raging fire, fuelled, he imagined, by whatever volatiles component contained in the boxes – or the drums, he couldn’t be sure.

Very quickly, before the smoke could even get to him, the pain became too much for him to endure and, finally, mercifully, Scarlet lost his fight to stay awake and became oblivious of his surroundings.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Back in the cockpit, Magenta noted that Ochre had just completed his radio contact with Angel One. As he sat back into the co-pilot seat, he saw his friend shake his head grimly.

“Man, do we have two very irate Angels,” Ochre said, as his mike returned to its rest position. “They were not happy to learn what’s happened on their watch.”

“Yeah, I don’t think the others were too happy either,” Magenta said in turn. “The Angels got our back?”

“Of course, they have it. As soon as we are out, they’ll shoot this craft out of the sky.”

“It’s not going to be a very nice landing once we eject. We’re right over the Patuca national park. That’s some seriously rough terrain down there.”

“I know but you’re right, it’s the only real option we’ve got.”

They got busy preparing for their leaving of the jet. All too soon they were ready, just as Magenta’s epaulets flashed grey.

Catching Ochre’s eyes, Magenta nodded to the control panel. “Let’s do it, then. They are ready in the back.”

“S.I.G.” Ochre flicked the onboard microphone, and lowered his cap mike again, so that both the Angel pilots and the passengers of the S.P.J. would hear him: “Attention to everyone! Get ready for ejection procedure…”  He put his hand on the master lever, hoping that the system would work as it should and that the Mysterons had not fouled it up. “Ejecting on one!” he announced. “Three… two… one.!”

He pulled the lever.

Two sections of the cockpit’s Fleethonium roof slid away as they felt their seats brutally pushed upward. The thrust of the initial release was never a pleasant experience, but the fact that it had occurred brought some relief to the concern that Magenta had. The relief increased as he spotted the three additional seats ejecting from the top hatches of the SPJ passenger cabin. He was happy to see that they followed a trajectory similar to his and Ochre’s seats.

Reaching the apex of the boost, his seat began its descent, triggering the deployment of its parachute. Around him, four other chutes also deployed.

As he drifted down, Magenta was thankful for the luck of the Irish or God, or whatever else it was that allowed them to extract themselves from a situation that he just knew would eventually have cost them their lives. However, he quickly realized they were not yet out of danger, as he saw the flight of the S.P.J. suddenly changing direction…

… To come straight towards them.

Then the Angels appeared, diving towards it, with guns blazing. Magenta breathed a sigh of relief, when he saw the S.P.J. veer off course in an attempt to escape the attack from the Spectrum interceptors. The girls had bought them some time.

As luck would have it, the updrafts and the swirling mountain air currents kept the five seats in the same general area, and they all broke through the treetops in relatively close proximity to each others.

Magenta removed his oxygen mask and thermal-pressure blanket, before untangling himself from his seat and dropped a short distance to the ground. He looked around and could just see the back of one of the other seats through the undergrowth. As he headed towards it, the greenery parted and Sepia joined him. Arriving at the seat, they found Colonel Walsh in the middle of extricating himself from it; while Sepia gave him a hand, Magenta contacted Grey and Ochre to see where they were. Grey was close by but Ochre had hit a snag; his parachute had ended up getting very tangled in a tree, leaving him dangling too high to drop down. Once the colonel was free from his seat they all headed to Ochre’s position.

As they did, they could hear the three planes above them but the canopy stopped them from getting a good view of what was going on. Still, Magenta could tell by the sounds, that the Angels were engaging the jet.

When the four of them arrived at the spot where Ochre was, they saw the predicament he was in. He wasn’t going to be able to get down by himself. However the Irish captain notice that Sepia had come up with a solution. He had grabbed some of the cords from the other chutes and had formed them into a rough rope, which Ochre was able to use to descend. While he was doing so, they all heard the rumble of a crashing plane and it wasn’t long before Ochre’s epaulets flashed white.

“The S.P.J. has been destroyed, Captain Ochre, and is no longer a threat. Have you all landed safely and are secure?” He heard Harmony Angel asked as his feet touch the ground.

“We have and are, Harmony. We’ll be okay until we can be picked up. ll contact Cloudbase and arrange it,” he replied, looking around.

“S.I.G. Captain. We will take up a holding pattern until it arrives.”

“S.I.G.”

Magenta and the other captains had been busy, while Ochre had been climbing down and had done what they could to make things as comfortable as they able to.

 “Our apologies for the abrupt end to your flight, Colonel,” Grey said. “I hope it wasn’t too upsetting, but our mandate is to keep you alive and unfortunately if we had stayed on the jet that would, in all likely hood, not have been possible.”

Magenta watched as the colonel dusted off his uniform and gave Grey a hash glare; it was only momentary as, with a single shake of his head, a slight smile replaced his first expression.

“I do realize that things don’t always go according to plan, Captain, and that one has to do what one can to achieve the objective,” Walsh replied. “What the hell just happened exactly?”

Grey and Sepia looked at Ochre and Magenta as they had been the ones to uncover the Mysterons attempt.

“The Mysterons, they…”  Magenta hesitated.  There was no easy way to explain this, and he wasn’t going to do it at full length. “They managed to take control of that craft,” he said. “And they tried to remotely use it in an attempt to get rid of you.”

“Take control?” Walsh repeated with a frown. “Through sabotage, you mean?”

“Something like that, yes,” Ochre said, nodding.

 Walsh fell silent for a moment or two, then with another headshake, he added: “You lot certainly provide an interesting form of in-flight entertainment. Now what do we do next?”

“Hopefully, Colonel, we’ll now be able to get you without any other problems to Project Confident’s main compound at Cape Canaveral,” Magenta explained.

 “I’ve called Cloudbase for a pick up,” said Ochre “It will be by one of our helijets. I’ll get you to destination safely and swiftly.”

“Are you sure it’ll be safe?” Walsh asked. “I mean, what if they managed to sabotage that other craft Spectrum will send to us? Are you sure it won’t happen again?”

“Colonel, this is the first time that the Mysterons have played this particular trick on us. And the Mysterons don’t use the same trick twice in a row,” Ochre explained to a dubious-looking Walsh. “Don’t ask me why, it’s part of their modus operandi.”

“Very well,” Walsh said. “I’ve been told that you’ll do your best to make sure this project succeeds. So I’ll follow your lead.”

“Thank you. Now make yourself comfortable, Colonel,” Ochre said. “I’m sure our stay here will be as short as possible.”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

What exactly was the first thing that Scarlet became aware of, he didn’t know for sure. Was it the rhythmic rushing/sighing sound, the cool movement of air on his arms and face, or the damp briny smell teasing his nostrils? Whatever it was exactly, the combined assault on his senses made him open his eyes.

He saw the blue sky and white clouds above him; at the same time came the realization that there was no pain. That caused him to sit up, and to look at his surrounding with astonishment. He was seated on a beach, backed by dunes of almost pearly white sand, which glistered under the sun. In front of him, there was a sea of turquoise waters, with waves relentlessly and quietly rolling back and fro a few meters away. It was calm, peaceful. The most peaceful he had ever known.

‘How did I get here? Why am I here? Where is here?’ The questions passed through his mind but no answers came. In fact, he couldn’t even remember what he had been doing before waking up here. That alone should have made him worried, but for some reason, he wasn’t concerned at all.

He looked around, and noted that the beach was deserted; there were no obvious signs of human presence. Standing, Scarlet decided that it was time for some reconnaissance. He moved away from the dunes towards the shore; his impression of it was definitely one of wilderness and loneliness. So it was quite a jolt when, after looking up and down the shoreline, he turned back to examine the dunes and suddenly spotted a lone figure standing there. Who it was, he could not see clearly; all he was able to distinguish was a hat and a top, which seemed to be brown.

The figure made a gesture, indicating that Scarlet should follow, before turning to head into the dunes.

Unsure but hoping for some answers, Scarlet went after his unknown visitor. Staying some distance ahead, his guide led him to a path within the dunes, before indicating that Scarlet should follow it. With that done, the figure walked away from the path and disappeared behind the dunes.

Startled, the English captain hurried to where the figure previously stood, only to find no sign of its presence. All that was there was the path he had been shown.

He had no idea what was going on, but as odd as the situation was, he wasn’t – for some unknown reason – all that concerned. Somehow he knew that he wasn’t in danger. Not knowing what else he could do, he followed the path. It led him past the dunes, and then in the direction of a house, where once again he saw the same person as before – at least he thought it was the same person – standing on the porch.  With a wave, the figure beckoned to him to approach further. Even though he still could not see clearly who it could be, Scarlet started to get the impression his unknown guide was wearing a uniform.

As Scarlet got closer, the person went inside the house and disappeared again from his view.

Now very curious to know who this could be, Scarlet entered as well, and found himself standing in the living area. It was decorated with comfortable, stylish furniture which had all the hallmarks of excellent quality. The walls were home to some pieces of modern art that were quite tasteful, and all the equipment from the entertainment system was from the top brands. Obviously, this place belonged to people who had money. All around, there was a sense of peace, enjoyment, comfort and security.

Continuing to look around, Scarlet saw the well-appointed kitchen and dining area that looked out to the sea. However, it was the man standing by a set of stairs that his eyes were mostly drawn to.

Now that he could see him properly, he immediately recognized who it was.

“Steve?” There was astonishment and apprehension in Scarlet’s voice as he pronounced the name, as he struggled with the undeniable fact that it was indeed Steve Blackburn, Captain Brown, in his uniform, who was standing there before him.

With a faint amused smile and a nod, Captain Brown acknowledged Scarlet’s surprise. He pointed up the stairs.

“You are needed up there,” he said, then stepped aside and watched, as if to see what Scarlet would do.

“Why? What’s up there?” Scarlet enquired.

Brown didn’t say anything. Instead, he once more motioned to Scarlet that he was to climb the stairs.

“Are you coming as well?”

A shake of Brown’s head was Scarlet’s answer. The English captain looked at the stairs then again at Brown. “Is it safe?”

Brown replied with a nod.

Again, Scarlet considered the stairs. “So I need to go up there alone?”

Turning, he fixed Brown with a stare; the latter replied once more with a nod.

With a shrug of his shoulders, Scarlet moved to the bottom of the stairs. “The last time we saw each other, you told me that you were still fighting and looking out for me,” he said. “You also were great help, so even though I have no idea what’s going on, I know you have a very good reason for me to climb these stairs.”

And with that, he went up.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

 ‘This is not good. No this is not good at all. Cripes. What state is he going to be in? A Goddamn awful one no doubt.’

Doctor Fawn felt a shiver run through him as he stared at the smoking remains of the warehouse he knew Captain Scarlet had entered some two hours before. Now it was nothing but a pile of smouldering ash and a few flames, which bore no resemblance to the building it once was.

And buried somewhere under all these rubbles and ashes lay Captain Scarlet – or, at least Fawn was hoping fervently, some recognizable and recoverable remains.

‘I just knew it spelled trouble when Lieutenant Green summoned me to an urgent meeting with Colonel White in the Control Room. It wasn’t exactly surprising to hear the Mysterons had once again caused trouble and mayhem, but the captains were on to them and were able to stop them. Colonel Walsh is still alive and will be on his way here soon. Project Confident’s systems are ready for testing and that without any casualty.

Well, almost…’ 

That was the reason why Fawn had been sent here, in Cape Canaveral. He had arrived only a few minutes ago, by Medicopter, with a team of medics from Cloudbase’s sickbay. As he stood there, waiting to receive the all-clear from the fire-fighters still finishing their job, he looked in dismay at the destruction in front of him and wondered exactly how this could have happened. Did Scarlet intervene in an attempt from the Mysterons to steal the volatile components stored in this place that they would have used against the Project Confident Compound nearby? Did that explosion occurred as he tried to apprehend them, and was caught in the blast in the process?

It seemed like the most likely explanation, and now, as the fire fighting personnel were removing their equipment and were about to leave the premise, Fawn couldn’t wait to start his search for the missing Spectrum captain.

He hoped he would find something.

“Doctor Fawn?” The query came from the chief fire-fighter as he came near the Spectrum medical officer. The latter turned to face the man.

“Yes?”

“Chief Walter Foxx,” the chief stated, with a hand held out.

Fawn shook it as he regarded the chief with the respect of one professional for another. “How is it going?” he asked with a wave at the destruction site.

“Acceptable. It could have been a lot worst, but the containment measures trigged straight away and stopped the fire propagating to the other buildings, as they were suppose to. A good thing too.”

“Very.”

The chief acknowledged Fawn’s comment with a nod. “That gave us the time to intervene, as soon as your men alerted us to the fire. Now I’ve been told that you wish to conduct a search for a known victim?”

“Yes, it very important I do so. He must be recovered as quickly as possible,” Fawn replied earnestly.

A perplexed look crossed Foxx’s face, but it was quickly replaced by concern. “Normally, only fire personnel are allowed into the site for safety reasons. But an exception has been made for you.” He fixed Fawn with a stare. “I’ll appoint you an escort. You must stay with them and follow their instructions. If you don’t, then you’re out of there. However, you will have to wait a little longer before I allow you to go.” He held up a hand as Fawn opened his mouth to say something. “Unfortunately the site is still too dangerous. So you will not be allowed in there until I deem it safe.”

Unhappy, Fawn was about to protest but he recognized the necessity of it. So he took hold of his impatience. “How soon?” he asked instead.

The Chief looked over the site. “It should be cool enough to consider it safe in a couple of hours.” He nodded and turned back to Fawn. “Two and half hours, and then you may start your search.” Pointing to spot by one of the other warehouses he added: “You can meet up with my men there. Remember, for your own safety, you must follow what they tell you.” After a thank you from Fawn, he headed back to his staff.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Climbing the stairs, Scarlet found himself on a landing with the roof sloping to its apex a meter or so above his head.

Looking through one of the two opened doors that were on either side of him, he saw an area that was set up as a family fun room; the doll’s house, train set, soft toys and adult easel set up for painting gave it away. Turning to the other door, he took a step forward, wondering what he might see through it.

Obviously, this room was a study, with a desk, computer and a well-filled bookcase. Stepping into the room, Scarlet discovered that there was also a telescope and a well-used comfy chair. However, it wasn’t any of these things that attracted his attention the most.

There was a man, standing in front of a pair of French doors that led to a balcony, looking out pensively, with the light causing a slight glow around his blond hair.

Even though he could not see his face, Scarlet knew without a doubt who this man was.

“Adam…”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

A little more than two hours later, as he finally stood in the ruins of the warehouse, Doctor Fawn understood why the colonel had sent him. If he was still in this warehouse when the fire had broken out, Scarlet was certainly in a lot of trouble, and he definitely was going to need his expertise.

He only hoped that ‘help’ would be possible. He had taken the time between talking to Chief Foxx to this point to organize what he could, but until he found out just how Scarlet was, Doctor Fawn could only worry. It didn’t help that his medical team and himself were the only Spectrum personnel on the scene. Despite this incident, added to that attack against the plane, Colonel Walsh was still coming to Cape Canaveral. Considering it all, it was unlikely the Mysterons would yet consider a new attack, but Spectrum just wanted to make sure that from this moment on, everything would go as it should.  So, while Magenta, Ochre and Sepia were taking Walsh to the safety of a Spectrum Maximum Security building, Grey would join Jade and Zaffre and the three of them were to focus once again on the main compound’s security.

There would be another delay of a few hours, but the test for Project Confident would take place as planned.

In the meantime, for Fawn and his team, the first thing to do was to find Scarlet; it wasn’t going to be easy, as the area they needed to search was just over a thousand square meters and there was a lot of rubble.

‘Still, the sooner we started, then the sooner we’ll hopefully find him. And it’s not like I’m having to do this all by myself; my team will be there, and Chief Foxx’s three inspectors are also combing the site. Okay, so one’s of them is keeping an eye on me, and it’s a risk having non Spectrum people hunting for Scarlet and discovering him alive when he’s supposed to be dead…’ The good Doctor shrugged inwardly. ‘…But there’s not a lot I can do about it.’ He took a good look around, gloomily. ‘I have feeling that it’s not going to be an issue, anyway.’

And with that thought, Doctor Fawn got to work.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Scarlet had only whispered his friend’s name, but it was enough to startle the man, who turned around.

“Paul!” Surprise was written all over Adam’s face as he came towards his friend. His hand gestured questioningly as he asked: “What are you doing here? How did you get here?”

“I… I don’t know, exactly. And I could ask the same of you. What is this place, exactly? How come I find you here?”

Adam suddenly looked self-conscious and unsure. “I’m… not quite sure either, I…” He lowered his eyes and sighed, before answering ruefully: “I think I did this to myself, actually. All I wanted to was to help Brad and Rick to return to their normal selves, and… I guess it turned badly for me. Now I find myself stuck here… And I don’t even know if my efforts gave any results.”

“They did,” Scarlet reassured him. “Whatever exactly it was you did, it worked. Brad and Rick were miraculously healed. And Doctor Fawn okayed them for field work over three weeks ago.”

A look of satisfaction showed on Blue’s face. “That’s great.” his gaze dropped. “Then I guess that makes all of this, worth it.”

Scarlet took another look around. “Where are we, Adam? Do you know?”

Blue nodded. “Of course. This is my place in Nantucket,” he answered. He turned to watch the waves out the window and continued quietly: “At least it seems to be.”

“Seems to be?” Scarlet echoed.

Blue shrugged. “I’m guessing this is some kind of metaphysical representation of my place in Nantucket. I’ve always found peace and safety here and it’s been no different this time.” He returned his gaze to Scarlet. “I do realize that things are not as they appear to be… That I’m not really here, physically.”

Scarlet glared at him with some irritation at these words. “Oh, you think so? Do you realize that for the last four weeks or so, you have been lying in a coma on Cloudbase? Causing all manner of heartache to all of us – to Karen, more than anyone else?”

“In a coma?” Blue repeated with some confusion.

“Yeah, in a coma!  Doctor Fawn’s been at his wit’s end, trying to figure out exactly what happened to you and how to wake you up!” Scarlet took a step forward, and added in an angry voice: “What the hell are you thinking, Adam? Staying here and not coming back to us? Don’t you know that it’s killing all of us to see you like this and to feel so helpless? Wake up already!”

Reining in a smile, because he could understand Scarlet’s reaction and feelings, Blue met Scarlet’s glare with a mild one of his own. “Do you really think I want to stay here?” he asked softly. “In a coma…  Paul, I thought I was dead.”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

After hours of searching, the sun was starting to set and it was becoming difficult to see. Soon, they would have to bring in lights, even though it would be impossible to illuminate the site well enough. They might even need to interrupt the search for the night, only to start again in the morning.

That didn’t sit too well with Fawn. It didn’t really help that no-one had any idea where exactly Scarlet could have been inside the warehouse when the fire had started. Or even if he was there to begin with. However, considering he had not reported back since he had called to announce he was going inside was a good indication that he had been trapped inside.

So he had to be there.

But where?

Stumbling around a pile of burnt out drums, and what looked like remaining pieces of wooden boxes, a smell hit Fawn’s nose. It was one that he thankfully hadn’t smelt very often but that, once experienced, was never forgotten.

The awful smell of burnt flesh.

Hastily, he started to move the debris, trying to pinpoint where exactly that smell was coming from. The inspector with him, who had also noticed the smell, joined in, and alerted everyone within earshot.

Fawn lifted a piece of burnt wood and threw it aside. The smell became worst. His hand reached for the next item and suddenly froze in his movement. The object, which rested in a nest of char matters, was about a foot long, mottled with black, brown and white colours.

Startled, Doctor Fawn pulled back.

It was an ulna; and next to it, there was a radius.

They had found Scarlet.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

 “What?” Taken back Scarlet, could only stare at his friend.

“I thought I was dead, Paul. And seeing you here, that kind of confirms it, don’t you see?” Blue shook his head. “In short… I contacted that deity whose cult was responsible for what happened to Brad and Rick.”

“Symphony told me about it – she already felt responsible about putting that idea in your head to begin with… And Fawn told me about his ‘third encounter’ with what he believes was your ‘spirit’ and the deity in question – Cynthia, right?”

“That’s right.”

“So that’s true then? You had an out-of-body experience? Like Fawn thought?”

“Sort of. I… I was heading back, Paul. I was heading back to my body after meeting up with Fawn on Cloudbase. But I ran into a Mysteron plot. Captain Black… He was about to murder someone. What could I do, let him kill an innocent?” Blue shook his head. “Of course I couldn’t. I did save a life that night, but once that was done, where I was to go was no longer clear and I knew that I was in danger. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just did.” He moved back to the French doors, and stood in front of it, studying the sky beyond. “I don’t know exactly how I got here but once I reached this place, I felt I was safe. I did try a number of times to get back. But something stopped me, every time. That’s when I came to the conclusion I had to be dead.”

“But you’re not,” Scarlet replied. “So that should mean you would be able to come back.”

Blue shot a look back at him, before returning to his contemplation of the clouds. “Oh, I would love to get back,” he said. “I miss my life, I miss all of you… and I miss Karen most of all.”

Scarlet saw the smile coming to Blue’s face.

“And besides this has became really, really boring,” Blue added, chuckling nervously. “One can only take so much peace and quiet. So if there’s a way for me to leave…” He interrupted himself, and an expression of puzzlement crossed his face as he turned back to Scarlet. “How did you get here, Paul?”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

It took some time to completely uncover the English Captain’s remains, and they had needed to bring in lights to illuminate the area and give a clear view of the scene. The horrible condition of the charred body wasn’t very pleasant to look at for anyone who stood next to it, and it was obvious that the victim had had an horrible death.

Turning to Chief Foxx, who was now standing with him, Fawn nodded. “My thanks to you and your men for their help, Chief. Now can you all please leave, so that I can examine the captain and decide how to proceed with the… disposal of his remains?”

“I would like one of my crew to stay,” Foxx replied. “Although this part of this building has been made safe, the rest is not. Also, this area needs to be investigated as we haven’t found the seat of the fire yet. Let alone, how it started. You Spectrum people are supposing a criminal fire, am I right?”

“The investigation will have to wait, Chief Foxx. At least, until we leave. From this moment on, I prefer to work with own my people. Your man will only get in the way.”

Annoyed, the chief was going to retort but stopped when he took a good look at Fawn. He had seen many medics at disaster sites in his long career, so he recognized the stress that the doctor was feeling. For him, it wasn’t just any victim they had found. It was obviously someone closer to him. Possibly a friend.

“Okay. We will leave you be but for safety, stay in this area and only use the path we’ll clear for you.” He looked down at the body. “For what’s it’s worth, my condolences for the loss of your man.” After that the chief gathered his men and left.

Once they had gone, Doctor Fawn crouched down next to the body and looked at it with dismay. He could tell that Scarlet, lying on his left side, had tried to protect his vulnerable areas, which meant that his right side was the most exposed to the fire; his body had been burnt to the bones in places. Some of the smaller bones from his right hand were even missing.

‘How in hell am I going to deal with this?’

Fawn had no idea what to do exactly at this point. Should he try and move Scarlet now? How important was it exactly for them to get ‘all’ of Scarlet’s remains? Some of him was just ash. Would it be best to see if his retrometabolism started before moving him?

Would moving him up set it?

At the moment there were just too many questions; and the conditions were not conducive to make things easy; there was the darkness of the night and the many witnesses all around to consider.

After a closer inspection, Fawn finally made the decision to wait until morning before they would move the body.

He stood up and contacted Cloudbase to apprise Colonel White of the situation. After the colonel’s agreement, Fawn also got in touch with Captains Grey, Jade and Zaffre, exchanging news. They were still keeping an eye on security at the compound, as Colonel Walsh was now due to arrive in a few hours time. Then he looked up in the direction of Chief Foxx, who stood beside the fire truck, some distance away from the site. Fawn sighed; now he will have to face the man and tell him that he was going to upset the investigation further. He doubted that the chief was going to like hearing that the area around Scarlet was now going to be totally off limits to any of his men, and that part of the site would be disturbed by the putting up of a tent. Scarlet needed to be closely monitored and Fawn’s equipment required protection.

Also Spectrum didn’t need anyone to witness Captain Scarlet’s extraordinary powers of recovery.

That was, if he was able to recover this time around…

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Scarlet frowned, troubled by his friend’s question. For a moment or two, he couldn’t remember. Then it came all back to him: the assignment, his discovery of the Mysteron agent at Cape Canaveral, the fire, the pain – that memory caused him to grimace – and finally, the beach and Captain Brown, coming to him.

“Would you believe I’m here because of the Mysterons as well?” The English Captain shrugged. “We were dealing with a threat… I got trapped in a warehouse that they set fire to.” A small shudder ran through him. “Apparently, we misread the threat and it turned out I was a target as well. So it looked like it was the end for me… And the next thing I know, I’m on a beach.” Giving Blue a meditative look, he inquired, “Do you remember what we talked about after Halloween last year? What I told you about… meeting Steve?”

Blue nodded.

“Well, he appeared to me again on that beach. I think he’s helping again.”

Blue’s eyebrows rose.

Scarlet nodded. “He led me from the beach to this house. Then he told me that I had to come up here.”

Blue looked astonished. “Oh boy... I wish I could have met him. It would have been great to see Steve again. I miss him.”

“I know you do. Who knows, maybe you will? He seems to be sticking around.”

All Captain Blue could do to that comment was to gesture with uncertainty. “The question would be to know if we met him here or after we get back,” he said. “If we can go back, that is. From what you’re telling me, Paul – you could be dead.”

“Well, I’ve been dead before. But…” The full effect of what he had been through and what he had found made itself felt and Scarlet found that he had to sit down. “But it’s true I’ve never experienced something quite like this before. Except for that first time I met Steve. So maybe… he wants to help the both of us get back.”

Grapping the desk chair Blue, joined him. “So now what?”

Scarlet raise his hands, gesturing with uncertainty. “I don’t really know, Blue Boy. This is certainly one of the strangest situations we’ve both found ourselves in.” He sat back and tried to compose himself, contemplating their predicament. “I can only assume that my body has been badly injured, so there’s no telling how long it’s going to take to heal.” Worry crossed his face. “I hope it will.  Black made it clear that they were indeed gunning for me.”

“Don’t let that worry you, Paul,” Blue said with a bright smile. “You have proved them wrong often enough before.”

Scarlet smirked in return. “True.” Looking at the ceiling, he added: “It’s Steve’s involvement that has me wondering. Because of him, I’m sure that I am meant to be here.”

“So you can help me get back to my body?”

Fixing Captain Blue with a look, Scarlet nodded slowly. “That’s what I’m thinking, yes. What other explanation could there be?”

“If it is the case, then the question would be… how?” Blue commented.

“Yes, that would be the question, wouldn’t it? For one thing, I don’t know how I got here. Secondly, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the two of us have a meeting like this, while I have been badly injured or dead.”

“Well, this is also the first time I’m in a coma while you are injured or dead,” Blue pointed out.

 “And thirdly: how do I know that this is for real?”

Blue scowled. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, for all I know, it could be a dream, a figment of my imagination or a sign that I’m finally going mad? It could even be a product of my mind because I miss having you around.”

“You do?” Blue grinned. “Well I must say I’m flattered…”

“This is no joke, Adam.” Scarlet pulled a major shrug. “I’m sorry, it’s just that things haven’t been the same without you being around and I do have to admit that at times, I’ve got very vexed at you.”

“Hey, is it my fault I’m in a coma?” Blue protested.

“After you told me of what really happened that led you there?”  Scarlet gave it some thought. “I’d say it is,” he said teasingly.

“Oh come on…”

Scarlet chucked. “It got particularly bad when Diane was on my case, because Karen was feeling down… She thought because of the close friendship we have, Karen might accept my support. The others couldn’t seem to help.” A grin appeared on his lips. “Boy, a guy has no chance when he gets singled out for a task that his fiancιe wants him to do.”

Blue smiled in turn. “Don’t I know it.”

Laughing, the two of them shared the comradely sense that men sometimes got when they talked about their love ones.

“No doubt Steve knows what’s meant to happen,” Scarlet concluded, coming back to their situation. “I think that, when it’ll be the time, he’ll point us to the right direction –  or maybe shove us into doing what must be done.”

Blue nodded. “When he was alive, he certainly could be quite forceful in his understated way,” he agreed. “Do you think it’ll take long?”

“I wish I could answer that. It depends on how badly I’ve been hurt.”

Blue nodded again and, sitting back, gave a deep sigh. “So in the meantime, why don’t we pass the time by you telling me about all the things I’ve missed?”

And with that, the two of them got comfortable and started to converse.

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

The sun had risen from the sea and its light was beginning to caress the land.

Doctor Fawn had stayed up all night, supervising his equipment and keeping a close personal watch on his most unusual patient. Colonel White had requested regular updates on the situation, demanding to be informed as soon as there would be any change in Scarlet’s condition – which, much to Fawn’s frustration and concern, didn’t happen.

Taking a cup of coffee that one of his team handed to him, he watched as the sun’s light began to illuminate the top of the tent that had been erected in the destruction zone, just over the area where Scarlet’s body lay.

It had been a depressing night and Doctor Fawn and his team were glad it was over.  To say the lack of change in Scarlet’s condition was concerning for Fawn would be a very big understatement; he was scared stiff that this time the English captain might not be able to cheat death. It never had taken this long in the past, before some indication of Scarlet’s healing would be seen. But now, as the sun rose in the horizon and brightness grew, it had been more than fourteen hours of no restoration… And that was too long.

If there wasn’t any change soon, some decisions would have to be made.

He called to his nurses, and he began to organize what he could, giving them their instructions for the following hours. Then he steeled himself, and prepared to contact Colonel White to inform him of the ‘probability’ no one wanted to hear.

The light increased and crept inside the tent through the opened flap; distracted, with his hand resting on his cap microphone, Fawn watched as the sunlight touch the still and damaged form of Captain Scarlet.

As it did, something happened.

The body became slightly hazy with a light glow and it soon became hard to clearly see the form this light was enveloping. A stunned Doctor Fawn squinted his eyes and looked on… and suddenly, it became clear to him that the body, damaged beyond recognition, was slowly reforming.

A wave of relief hit Fawn; it looked like Scarlet retrometabolism had finally kicked in. Still he was worried, for this experience of Scarlet’s retrometabolism was once more taking them into unknown territory, leaving Fawn with no idea of what could happen next. The process he was witnessing now was fascinating, and with the sunlight falling strongly on Scarlet’s body, combining with the visual manifestation enveloping it, Fawn couldn’t tell what exactly was happening.

Nevertheless, he was very relieved and thankful that something was happening; and he thought it could only be a good sign. Watching it, he remembered the footage of the reconstruction of the Mysteron’s city. This was very similar.

Fawn glanced at his portable robotic nurse hooked to Scarlet and saw no readings indicating whatsoever that he was returning to life. ‘No, too soon,’ he told himself. ‘Be patient.  Remember the extent of his injuries. Give it time.’

Forgetting about his call to Cloudbase, he informed his team of this new development, and called for two of them to stand vigil next to Scarlet and to monitor his progression. Then he sat back in a chair and kept his eyes on his patient.

Precisely how long he stayed there watching, Doctor Fawn had no clue. In fact, he became quite unaware of what was going on around him for a time, until a shadow covered Scarlet; that drew Fawn back to reality and he looked out through the opened doorway. The shadow had been made by some of the ruins beyond the tent, which was now blocking the sun’s light. Looking back at Scarlet, Fawn saw that glow around him was fading, allowing him to get a clear view of the body’s state. It wasn’t great, but at least he was now whole; not healed, bad burns still covered his whole body, but in a better condition than what he had been in.

‘What should I do now?’ The physician was still faced with the same questions as he had before.

Or was he? He examined Scarlet very cautiously and thoroughly, wondering if now it would be safe to transfer the body back to Cloudbase. The fingers were there; the toes too. It looked, miraculously, like all the organs were at their usual places. The bones were mostly covered by muscles, but still, there wasn’t much skin.

As he stood up from his crouched position, the robotic nurse to which Scarlet had been plugged since the previous day gave a fain, beeping sound.

That made him turn to it.

“Doctor,” Nurse Monroe then said, with some excitation.

“I know,” Fawn interrupted him.

‘At last,’ he thought.  ‘A vital.’  The first in so many hours.

He lowered his cap microphone.

“Doctor Fawn to Captain Ochre,” he called urgently.

“Ochre here,” he heard the voice in his ears. He could almost hear, in the silence that followed, the mute question the Detroit-born captain was at the same time eager and afraid to ask.

“Tell my pilot to get the Medicopter ready, Captain,” Fawn told him. “And make sure that Chief Foxx and his fire-fighters still keep clear of the area for the next few minutes.” He permitted himself a smile. “We’re making Scarlet ready for transfer to Cloudbase.”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Captain Scarlet didn’t really know how long he and Blue stayed there talking conversationally. Minutes, hours…, time didn’t seem to have any meaning in this place.

Then he had started to experience a very odd feeling. It was a faint sense of being in two places at once.

It grew stronger and then transformed to something akin of a pull.

His surrounding began to distort and become unrecognizable. He blinked his eyes, thinking there was something wrong with them. Nothing changed.

He suddenly realized what was about to happen.

“Adam! Quick, grab my hand!”

He felt his fingers being enclosed by his friend’s hand, just as everything dissolved, and he ended up knowing no more.

 

 

*************

 

Adam!”

The shout made both Doctor Fawn and Rhapsody Angel jump in surprise. The doctor moved away from his study of Scarlet’s vitals on the screen embedded by his patient’s bedside. With relief, he saw Scarlet open his eyes and looked up to him. At the same time, he heard Rhapsody’s shaky voice:

“Oh, Paul!  You’re awake… You’re finally awake!”

As Rhapsody stroked his forehead, Scarlet frowned and looked around, visibly dazed. “Adam?” he repeated, his voice now soft and sounding perplexed.

“Oh Paul.” Rhapsody smiled sadly. “I’m sorry. Adam’s still not awake.”

“It’s great to see you awake, Scarlet,” Fawn added as he took note of how Scarlet was looking and the changes in his stats. “You ended up in a right old mess this time.

He could see disappointment in Scarlet’s eyes at the news that Blue was still in his coma. Looking the captain in the eye with a slight smile on his face, he handed over some water.

“You got me out of Cloudbase, you know?” he said in a way to change the subject. “I don’t know whether to thank you for the break or make you stay here longer to get you back for it.” He made a gesture of exasperation. “Because I’ll tell you now, it was no holiday.”

Knowing that the captain would be hungry for news as well as for food, he settled against the bed, before asking casually: “I guess you want your usual: steak with all the trimmings?”

He noticed the thoughtful look crossing Scarlet’s face and was taking aback when he heard his answer.

“You know, Doc… I think I might like some fish this time. Yes, a nice big plate of fish and chips would be just the ticket. Please.”

Surprised, Fawn moved to the door to pass on Scarlet’s request to the duty nurse; he was unsure he heard correctly when Scarlet added behind him, in a quiet voice: “Trust the scent of the sea to give me a craving for fish.”

When he came back, he heard Rhapsody answering a question about Captain Blue.

“He is not awake yet. That’s why I’m here, so you didn’t wake alone.”

That made Fawn wish the answer could have been different. Knowing the worry that Scarlet was feeling for his friend’s condition, he entered the conversation. A change of subject was needed to divert Scarlet’s mind from his present concern about Blue situation. For it would do Scarlet no good to dwell on it.

So as they waited for the food to arrive, as well as to avoid discussing Scarlet’s death in front of Rhapsody, the details of which he just knew would disturb her, Fawn took over the discussion by recounting what had happened, after Scarlet had gone into the warehouse. He explained to Scarlet how the Mysterons had carried out an attempt against Colonel Walsh’s life by swapping the S.P.J. he was supposed to be flown in, with a Mysteronised one.

A look of concern showed on Scarlet’s face as he listened to the doctor’s tale. “Colonel Walsh wasn’t harmed was he?”

Fawn shook his head. “No. All of them came through it fine and the colonel was finally taken to Cape Canaveral, safe and sound.”

“Good.” Concern changed to puzzlement as Scarlet asked, “How on earth were the Mysterons able to change the S.P.J’s?”

“The subsequent investigation found S.P.J. Alpha 4-3 in a disused factory. From what was discovered, it seems the Mysterons managed to smuggle the Mysteronised S.P.J. to the same factory. Once there, the replicate of Corporal Baston, an aero-tech at our maintenance base in Bogota, swapped them.”

“But what about the security checks and paper work?” Scarlet insisted.

“Ah… Our adversary found a hole in our security procedures. It appears that once S.P.J. 4-3’s upgrade was done, no-one thought to check the jet’s number when it was sent to replace the one that had been hit by the birds.” With a decisive nod and a fold of his arms, Fawn continued: “Colonel White was as angry as a trapped dingo about that, and he’s ordered a review of our procedures. The Mysterons won’t get away with doing the same thing again. And, needless to say… we took care of Corporal Baston.”

Scarlet gave a sigh of relief. “That’s good to hear. Do we know if the Mysterons had anything to do with the birds?”

“No. and I don’t think we will ever know if the ‘birds collision’ the first S.P.J. had been victim of was indeed orchestrated by the Mysterons,” Fawn declared.

“Oh, so…” The English captain was interrupted by the arrival of his food. The smell was making his mouth water. With a little help from Rhapsody and Doctor Fawn, it wasn’t long before he was sitting upright and free of most of the medical paraphernalia, and ready to eat.

Before he did so, however, he finished what he was going to ask: “Did Captains Jade and Zaffre have anymore trouble?”

“Not really. Walsh’s arrival at the compound was delayed again – as you might suspect, and that gave them time to make a new check. Grey replaced you in helping them. As it looked obvious the Mysterons wouldn’t make another attempt, Walsh was finally allowed to go. Colonel White was very pleased with Jade and Zaffre’s work.”

As he had started to eat, all Scarlet could do was nod in acknowledgement.

“They were certainly not happy about what happen to you,” Rhapsody added. She laid a hand on Scarlet’s arm. “Why didn’t you wait for back-up?”

He quickly swallowed. “Dianne, you know that sometimes that’s not possible.” With a shrug he continued, “Not that I think it would have mattered.”

“Huh?” interjected Rhapsody.

“Doc, what’s happening with Project Confident?” asked Scarlet, as he realised that nothing had been said about it.

“The good news is that, despite the many delays, the first test of Project Confident, was carried out without anymore interference. At any of the sites. So Colonel White’s confident…” Fawn smiled at his witticism, “…that we’ve once more put an end to the Mysterons’ threat.”

Scarlet nodded slowly. “We did at that. Despite making the mistake of misreading their threats. We’ll have to be careful in the future.”

“What do you mean?” Fawn asked with puzzlement.

Scarlet hesitated, glancing in Rhapsody’s way. “I thought you realized already,” he said. “The threat wasn’t only aimed at Walsh and Project Confident. It was also aimed at me. That’s why the Mysterons trapped me inside that warehouse. It wasn’t only because I had discovered their agent who was slipping in there. He was leading me there.”

“What?” a stunned Fawn said.  “But –”

The rest of what he was going to say was interrupted by Doctor Tan who suddenly entered the room with a grin plastered on his face.

“Doctor Fawn!” he called excitedly, making everyone almost jump and turn to him. Come quick!”

“What is it, Tan?” Fawn said, as he stood on his feet.

“He’s awake, Doctor! Captain Blue has woken up!”

Fawn didn’t have time to reply, and Tan was unable to say anything more. In the split second that followed, Scarlet had pushed away the sheet under which he lay as well as his meal and had jumped to his feet. Tan quickly cleared the door, before being passed by a swiftly moving Scarlet, with Rhapsody hot on his tail. Fawn, irate that his patient had left his bed without authorization, called after him, admonishing him and ordering him to come back. Which of course was ignored.

Grumbling with annoyance, Doctor Fawn followed them. He wasn’t really that surprised by Scarlet’s reaction – nor was he unsympathetic. He fully understood his agitation. However, after what he had been through, he still needed his rest, and there were still some final checks before he would be released.

But he had a feeling that Scarlet would not even listen to him. Fawn saw Scarlet and Rhapsody, at some distance in front of him, entering into the private area of the sickbay, and he followed them there, only a few seconds after they had disappeared from his view.

He stopped dead at the entrance, as if he didn’t dare interrupt the scene that then appeared to his eyes.

Scarlet was standing in front of the bed where Blue lay. The English captain reached for his friend’s hand and clasped it.

Two sets of blue eyes looked into each others for a brief moment.

“Hell, Blue,” Scarlet said with a shaky voice, causing Fawn to smile with elation. “You took long enough.”

 

SIGSIGSIGSIGSIG

 

Two weeks later…

 

Standing in the uplifting environment of the Promenade Deck, Scarlet gazed down at Angel One, where Rhapsody was on duty.

He still needed to pinch himself, as he couldn’t believe the events of the previous day. It had been awaited for so long, and it had been always on the cards but kept on being put off, now finally it had happened.

Symphony Angel and Captain Blue were finally married.

He knew that he shouldn’t really be that surprised. Taken into account what had happened to Blue, it certainly had made him think about the future and how much time was too precious for him to lose anymore of it.

So as soon as he had recovered enough, and had been released from sickbay, he had decided to go on with the wedding preparation without anymore delay.

Scarlet knew that Blue had moved so quickly with this in good part because of the scare he had. But also because Blue ‘somehow’ had reasoned that after such an effort, it might take some time before the Mysterons would strike again.

Shaking his head, the English captain smirked; Blue had called it. So, with Cloudbase handily stationed, the ‘important’ personnel got to attend. It made for a great reception party after.

…And he and Symphony were now on their honeymoon.

‘Thank goodness that it did all work out fine in the end. Adam’s lucky that, thanks to modern medicine, he recovered so quickly, and almost completely. He’s already almost as fit as he was before his time in the sickbay. These two coming weeks alone with Symphony will probably be good for him. He’ll have enough time to rest and recover fully.’

He smiled wickedly. ‘Well… maybe not rest that much, if I know these two lovebirds.’

‘Who knew that Adam could be so bullish.’ He quietly laughed; if he thought about it, the signs were obvious. ‘I think even the colonel was surprised how quickly those two organised things once the date was decided. Poor Mrs Svenson and Mrs Wainwright… Neither of them quite got what they wanted. It was plain they weren’t exactly happy with Adam’s choice of where the wedding would take place. But knowing what I do now, I understand why Adam chose to tie the knot at his house in Nantucket.’

He smiled inwardly. ‘However, I know everything was forgiven once their mums saw Karen and Adam in front of the minister, and I KNOW that the colonel was tickled pink – not that he would admit it – to give her away.’

Scarlet sighed; still it hadn’t been all good news. Two weeks ago, Spectrum had managed to stop all of the Mysterons’ attempts here on Earth, but the Mysterons achieved one of their aims. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the testing of Project Confident had come to a halt, with the loss of Fireball XL2.

Sadness ran through Scarlet. It was always hard when lives were lost, especially ones where there wouldn’t have been any way for Spectrum to save them.

‘It was just not fair,’  Scarlet reflected.

On another note, having Blue back was nothing short of a miracle. And this was definitely one hell of a ride Scarlet hoped that he and Blue would never have to experience again. He certainly wasn’t looking forward to meet the goddess Cynthia ever again, or any other god, goddess or whatever deities. Even meeting with the ghost of Captain Brown, as much as he liked him when he was alive and well, was something that he would happily forgo – at least for some time. Dealing with his own ability of coming back from the dead was really enough of the supernatural for him for some times.

Sighing, Scarlet recalled the discussions he and Blue had had with Doctor Fawn and Spectrum psychologist, Doctor Weiss, and how the two physicians had reacted upon hearing of the two friends ‘otherworldly meeting’. They had tried to be open, but Scarlet knew that there was no way that they could or would be able to fully understand.

He wondered if anyone else could understand; he doubted it, even if that ‘anyone’ would happen to be Rhapsody or Symphony.  So he and Blue had agreed: no-one else, outside of Fawn and Weiss, would know about this.

The launch of Angel One pulled him from his musings. He looked around thoughtfully, and a slight melancholy feeling came over him. What did the future hold for him? Should he also take the plunge, like Adam did? He certainly loved Dianne more than anything…

And maybe that was the problem. There was so much uncertainly in his life and he knew that he could never be fully committed to her as she deserved. What life would be for them? He didn’t know, and that made him wonder.

He leaned against the glass that separated him from the hostile environment outside, and let out a couple of breaths as he dealt with his inner feelings. He knew that sooner rather than later, he needed to make decisions.

He looked down at the runway below, at the spot that Angel One had been stationed, just before taking off.

He could only hope that, whatever these decisions he would make, they would be the right ones.

 

THE END

 

Author's Notes:

I know that some timelines of the Anderson universe have the World Space Patrol and Spectrum operating at the same time. To me, that does not seem quite right when you add the Mysterons. So I modified the timeline in my story setting and to me it makes more sense. Therefore, the W.S.P is up and running but is still in its infancy. The Fireball XL series of rockets have only just started to be developed and of course, their really fast communication system is still non-existent.

I do acknowledge that Captain Black had been the captain of Fireball XL3, so I gave him the honour of having piloting the most recent and advanced craft commissioned by the W.S.P.

The way I see things happening, once the Mysterons are defeated, the World Government, now knowing that we are not alone, will decide to make a big push out into space. Therefore the W.S.P. comes into their own and Fireball XL5 is designed and built to become the flag ship of this new line of space exploring ships.

 

 

 

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