Original series Suitable for all readers

 

X-Miss?

A 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' story for Christmas, by VMR

 

 

Every week, for the past four weeks, the three of them met to discuss the recovery of Captains Grey, Magenta, Ochre and Blue.

Colonel White listened as both Doctor Fawn and Doctor Weiss made their reports.

Doctor Fawn reported that he was pleased with the slow but steady improvement the captains were showing after coming so close to dying, after having been exposed to a virus that the Mysterons had used in one of their threats. In his opinion, they were ready for a more intensive fitness program. Something that could be done better away from Cloudbase.

Doctor Weiss expressed a small concern about their emotional state, adding that a reminder of why and what they were fighting for, would be a good idea.

So after a bit of a discussion, it was decided that they would spend the next four weeks at a training facility to bring them back up to standard.

“I can’t believe it! I just cannot believe it!” Ochre groused as he went through his draws packing. “It’s been bad enough having to put up with what we have had to, but to be sent away now…. It’s just not fair. I was so looking forward to Christmas this year: being on light duties, more time to spend with the Angels….”

“Angels or Angel, Rick?” asked Magenta as he sat on Ochre’s bed watching, having already done his packing.

“Oh give it over, Pat. You know nothing’s going on,” Ochre retorted while getting things from his closet.

Magenta smiled; the ribbing between him and Ochre was one of his ways of staying sane in this crazy war with the Mysterons. The camaraderie between all five captains was strong but Ochre – more often than not – was his partner on assignments, so the bond between them was of a solid friendship. Still he had to agree, it did seem to be harsh for them to miss Christmas on Cloudbase; it was for some of them their only home. He shrugged; no-one argued with the colonel once he gave an order. His smile got bigger; well, almost no-one. Scarlet might not ‘argue’ as such, nevertheless, the colonel always knew when Scarlet wasn’t in agreement. However, Scarlet wasn’t affected by the latest order, as he would be staying on Cloudbase.

Magenta made a slight frown; this would be the first time in just over three years that Scarlet and Blue would be apart for any length of time. Like Ochre and him, those two also had a very strong bond between them. A bit of a surprise really, when he thought about it, as Blue was the one who shot Scarlet off the Car-Vu after he had been killed and then replicated by the Mysterons, who then used him to kidnap and eventually kill the World President. He gave a sigh of relief: at least the World President had been rescued unharmed and what was more, they had gotten Scarlet back.

A very sly smile came, as he wondered if the Mysterons would have killed Scarlet, if they had known what they would end up giving Spectrum, an indestructible agent. Not an easy burden for him to bear; they all tried to help but they also knew that Blue was the one that Scarlet relied on the most.

‘Oh well,’ thought Magenta. ‘That’s not for me to worry about. I’m sure the colonel knows what he is doing.’

He looked at his watch. “How much longer are you going to be, Rick?”

Ochre’s head turned from the closet. “Why?”

“Well, we only have half an hour ‘til we need to be on the plane.”

“What!? Why didn’t you let me know sooner that time was getting short?”

“I thought you had it all worked out. Why else would you spend so much time going around Cloudbase seeing… hmm, ‘people’, if you hadn’t managed your time?”

Ochre looked at the floor. “Yes well, I had some important gifts that I had to deliver and I had thought that I would be able to, closer to Christmas, but the colonel’s order put pay to that. He didn’t give us a lot of notice. So I had to do it today.

“That’s true.” Magenta hopped off the bed. “What can I do to help?”

Ochre gave him a smile of gratitude and told him what was needed.

“It’s not fair! Why do you have to go away? Surely, the four of you could get fit enough here? Why does he have to send you away this near to Christmas?”

Blue held back a sigh, as he watched Symphony pace in his bedroom, while he packed. “Δlskling, Colonel White is doing what he thinks is best for Spectrum. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Symphony stopped and looked sadly at Blue. “But what about our plans? And the four of you are going to miss out on Paul’s birthday. How could the colonel do that to him?”

Blue came over to her and placed his hands lightly and tenderly on her shoulders. “I’m sure he has thought about all that and in his mind, this must be the best option.” He pulled her into an embrace. “Four weeks isn’t really that long, Δlskling. I’ll be back before you know it and I’m sure we’ll be allowed to keep in touch.” He could tell that she still wasn’t happy with him having to go, so he tried to think of a reason why it would be good for her. It didn’t take long. Pushing her away from him, until she was at arms length, he gave her a speculative look. “Karen, we are away to build up our fitness, right?”

“Yes, so?” She gave him a hard look back.

“So… think about it.” Seeing that she didn’t get it, he stepped closer and leaning, whispered in her ear, causing her cheeks to colour.

“Oh.” Her lips reached for his and finding them, gave him a long and passionate kiss. On finishing, she whispered back to him, “I’ll hold you to that, Sky.”

Stepping away Symphony looked around. She knew that he wasn’t happy about the colonel’s order as well, but – him being him – wouldn’t show it. Noticing the time, she turned back to Blue and seeing a certain look in his eyes, knew that being away was going to be hard on him too.

“Well, I guess if I want to collect on that promise, you need to go. Come on, Sky, you’ve got a plane to catch.”

Grey made his way to the radar room. Because of the colonel’s order, there was something he had to do. Coming to its door, he opened it and called, “Scarlet?”

Scarlet turned his chair, “Grey,” he replied as he saw him standing there. “What’s up?”

“You’ve heard that the colonel’s ordered us ground side?”

“Yes. Blue came and filled me in, as well as to say goodbye, seeing that I won’t be finished here before you go.”

“Yeah, I know that.” Grey moved forward keeping his hands below the secondary consol. “That’s why I came, to give you this.” He lifted a hand and held out a box, covered in coloured paper. “Don’t open it until your birthday now,” he said giving it to Scarlet.

A big smile creased Scarlet face as he received it. “Thanks, Grey. And I promise not to open it until then.”

“When Harmony heard that we wouldn’t be around for Christmas, she came and asked if we would like her to look after our presents for you lot and to put them under the tree at the right time. It didn’t seem right to lump it in with them.”

As he put it down, Scarlet asked: “I guess you feel like the others, annoyed at not being able to be here for the Christmas celebrations?”

“Yes and no,” replied Grey as he perched in the edge of the secondary consol. “Yes, because it can be a lot of fun, as long as the Mysterons don’t show up.” Grey pulled his ear.  “I’ll have to admit: that they might. Well that, adds a bit of zing to the celebrations

Scarlet gave an understanding smile. “I know what you mean.”

Folding his arms, Grey continued, “And no, because, to be honest, I’m bored. I didn’t ever think I would say this, but there is only so much swimming one can do.”

He had said it with such a deadpanned face that it took Scarlet a moment or two to realize he was joking. Grey joined him in the laugher.

“Well, I hope that wherever you are going to puts on a great Christmas for all of you, as you certainly deserve it,” Scarlet managed to say once he had stopped laughing.

Grey gave a slight shake of his head. “If it’s anything like what I’ve experienced before, we will be too busy and too tired to do anything.”

“Oh?” Scarlet raised his eyebrows.

Becoming somewhat uncomfortable with memories their talk had brought up, Grey stood up. “Let’s just say that this isn’t the first time that I’ve had to recover fitness after a stint in medical care.”

Realizing that Grey was uneasy, Scarlet decided to put a lid on his curiosity. “Okay.”

Grey looked at his watch. “I’ve got to go. Have a good birthday, Paul.” The last was said as he went through the door.

 

 

“Welcome to Caesar, World Army Air Force - Advance Training Area. I’m Brigadier General Alex Manson, commanding officer of this base. I’m sure that you realize that you have been sent here to bring you up to Spectrum’s requirements as soon as possible. That will mean hard work and discomfort, but I‘m sure that none of you will give us anything but your best.”

Standing in a loose line in a area that looked a lot like a parade ground, Ochre, Magenta and Blue looked at each other then at Grey, who just shrugged and turned his attention back to the general in front of them. Blue couldn’t help but think that Scarlet would feel right at home and that they were going to be in for an interesting time.

They had arrived at Caesar out of uniform and in a WAAF helicopter. Obviously, Colonel White wanted to keep their identities secret. That made them wonder why he had sent them here instead of one of the Spectrum training facilities. The answer was not long coming.

“Caesar is no ordinary training base. It is one of a few training areas that were set up by the World Government to provide highly specialised training for undercover operations as well as a recovery and maintenance facility for people of importance.” The general nodded towards them.  “Like yourselves. As you might have already figured, your identities have been kept secret as a need to know and even I only know your first names and that you are Spectrum officers, but not your rank. So while you are here, my staff will know each of you as Officer Adam, Officer Patrick, Officer Bradley and Officer Richard.”

The general turned to each captain as he addressed them, and with a smile continued: “I only hope that you will not think too badly of us, once you are finished here. For I will warn you this is not a pleasure camp.” He looked at Ochre as the later tried not to laugh.

“Sorry, it’s just…,” Ochre could not hide his grin. “That’s something that I expect our col… commanding officer to say.”

“Oh? Then I trust that you will respect me as much as you would him?” the general asked with a raised eyebrow.

Ochre faced him with a smile but answered honestly, “Yes, sir.”

The general looked at the others and after getting agreements from them, carried on:

“As it will soon be time for lunch, we will not be starting with you straight away. This will give you time to settle in. At fourteen hundred hours, each of you are required at the gymnasium for an assessment. There, you will meet some of the staff who will be getting you into shape.”

The general’s gaze moved from the captains to someone behind them and with a wave of his hand called them over.

“This is Major Nubia Goosen,” he said as the person came into view“He’s the one who will be responsible for you, while you are here. Major, these are the officers that you were briefed about.”

“The specials, sir?”

“Yes Major.” And as the general turned to each of the captains, he introduced them. Looking back to the major he asked, “Time to show them around, Major?”

“Yes. That is, if you are finished with them, sir?”

“I have,” the general replied with a nod. His attention then moved back to the captains. “Officers, I will now leave you in the major’s capable hands.” And with that, he left them.

“If you will follow me, I’ll show you what buildings and areas you need to know,” the major said as he started to walk towards a group of buildings.

As they followed him, Magenta studied the major. He was smaller and lighter than them, and his dark hair and skin confirmed what his name had suggested: that he was African. South African, if Magenta had placed his accent right. He may have looked inconsequential but his movements, like those of a hunting cat, belied that he would be easy to takeout. Coming up along side the major, he enquired: “I was wondering why you referred to us as, ‘the specials’, Major?”

“That’s the designation we give to those who come here without a clear link to one of the armed forces,” the major replied with an astute look on his face. “They could be anybody, from bodyguards, to spies, even leaders of countries, and as they often don’t have a rank, we just refer to them as officers. Does that answer your question?”

Magenta gave him the same look back. “Yes, it does.”

Coming to the buildings, Major Goosen seemed to turn into a tour guide, as he told them what they needed to know, and then dove them around the rest of the camp. Coming back to the first set of building, he released them for lunch with advice to eat lightly and a reminder to be at the gym at fourteen hundred hours.

Grey fell into bed, shattered. They had been put through the mill that afternoon, as the staff tested them. At least the massage and a soak in a hot tub meant no aching muscles.

It wasn’t quite the same as before but it was still enough to bring back memories of another time. He shook his head trying to forget his last year in WASP, the accident that killed some of his best friends and left him unfit for sea duty. It had been a trying time but with hard work and persistence, he got WASP to give him a chance to at least try and get back into shape and prove that he was ready and capable to go back on active duty.

Lying on his back, arms behind head and eyes on the ceiling, he recalled the WASP base he had been sent to on that occasion; it was nothing fancy like this place. He had worked bloody hard to meet and surpass their requirements and even after all his efforts, they still procrastinated in giving him even a berth. It seemed that for them, his time was passed, and all he would be doing for now on would be desk duty. He wondered if that was why, when Spectrum approached him, he had said yes.

Blowing his breathe through his nose, Grey pushed the thoughts away. Here he was again, in a similar place, and there was no way in hell that he wouldn’t give his best.

Besides, this time around, he had friends alongside him.

Ochre woke to the sound of someone knocking on his door. It took him a moment or two to get his bearings, but he soon remembered where he was. Grabbing a top, he went and opened the door, to find in front of him the lieutenant who had been assigned to them as an aid.

“Morning, sir,” he said. “Breakfast will be ready for you in fifteen minutes and you are expected to be at the gym in an hour.” He then left, to go next door.

Ochre closed the door and stretched. ‘They don’t muck around here, do they?’ he thought.

 He dealt to his morning needs, dressed and headed for the mess.

On arriving, he was disappointed as he saw what was on offer: cereals, fruits and yoghurt. No eggs or bacon, nothing like they got on Cloudbase. Just as well there was coffee and toast with good number of spreads. He made his selection and seeing Blue, made his way over to him.

“Hi, Adam. The others aren’t here yet?” he asked as he sat down.

“No,” Blue answered. “But here they are,” he added as he saw them coming through the door.

Swinging around, so that he could see, Ochre watched his two fellow captains react to what was for breakfast. The looks on their faces said it all. Having got what they wanted, Grey and Magenta joined Blue and Ochre.

“Well, this is a good start to the day,” grumbled Magenta. “I wonder what other lovely things they have in store for us?”

Blue looked at his watch. “I don’t know, but I do know that we only have half an hour until we have to be at the gym.”

“Oh, goody,” went Ochre.

“I think it’s going to be a long and tiring day,” Grey added.

“You’re probably right,” replied Magenta

With that the four of them got stuck into their food.

Magenta leaned back against the side of the hot tub. “Man, I feel wiped. Guys, if I fall asleep, make sure I don’t go under, please?”

Hearing affirmative replies, he closed his eyes as he recalled what they had done that day.  Grey had been right, the day had turned out to be tiring. It started simple enough, a light warm-up and stretching, followed by some circuit work. ‘Thank goodness,’ Magenta thought, ‘they gave us break after that and some more food. Boy, did I struggle towards the end of the ‘walk’ they made us do. At least, Grey should happy we ended up swimming. Now, this is nice. I wonder what they have planed for us tomorrow?’

With a stretch, he opened his eyes and looked at the others; all of them looked as tired as he felt. How were they going to survive this? With another stretch, he decided he would be calling it a night soon, before his energy totally left him. “Will we be contacting Cloudbase tomorrow?” he enquired of Blue.

“Yes, Colonel White wanted us to have a couple of days to settle in, and although he be getting regular updates from the base’s commander, he also wants to hear from us.”

“I wonder if they’ve been busy?” Grey speculated. “I doubt the colonel would let us know if they had a Mysteron threat.”

“You are probably right, Brad,” replied Blue. “We are here to get back into shape, not to work.”

“That’s….” Ochre stopped before he said what he thought. Then ending up feeling defensive as the others looked at him. “Come on guys, I know you feel the same way as me about not being on Cloudbase. That’s bad enough, without being totally sidelined.”

“True, except that right now, we wouldn’t be any good out in the field,” said Grey.

“We could still help out with the research,” Ochre answered back.

“You’re right we could, let’s suggest it to the colonel when we contact him,” Magenta added.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to work? Us being in Spectrum is a secret,” said Blue as he also stretched.

With a yawn, Magenta pulled himself up onto the hot tub’s edge. “Well, if he thinks that it’s a good idea, then the colonel will work out a way for it to be done. I, for one, would like to keep my hand in, so to speak.” Carefully standing up, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around him. “I’ll see you lot in the morning,” he said as he left.

Leaning back against the tree that he had sat down by, Blue inhaled the smell of his coffee as he started to eat. Just over two weeks had passed since they had arrived at WAAF - ATA Caesar and they had been challenging ones. Their time was spent in the gym, or in the pool, or out in the grounds, or on the obstacle course. There was, as well, the physio, the massages and the hot tub. Time definitely flew when you were kept busy and tired.

Added to these regular exercises, the captains were sent every fourth day into a hike, each time taking a different route. Taking a sip, Blue thought about these hikes. They all followed the same pattern: in the morning, the captains were driven to a spot, given a map –with the way back marked out – and refreshments for the morning. Come lunch time one, of the camps cooks would meet up with them, bringing more food and drinks. After that, they were left to make their own way back, if they could. Blue remembered with some embarrassment the first two hikes – the fact that they had needed to be picked up because they hadn’t made back to the camp before the sun had set. ‘Well, we certainly made sure that we completed the last one and I know the others want to do the same with this one.’ he thought.

Almost finished with his lunch, Blue looked at his surroundings; it was nice to be out. His gaze fell on his fellow captains who were eating nearby. They all were looking a lot better than they did two weeks before, and even though he sometimes wondered if he would be able to go back in the field, he knew that all of them were doing the best that they could. Blue sighed. It was so easy to lose track of time here; most of the nights, they were all too happy to fall into bed, exhausted. It made keeping in touch with the others on Cloudbase hard.

Blue did a quick calculation and with astonishment called out to the others: “hey guys, I just realize, today’s Christmas Eve.”

“What? It can’t be!”  Ochre exclaimed.

“No way!” Magenta said at the same time.

“Are you sure?” Grey added.

Blue just nodded.

“Well, isn’t that just great,” Grey said. “I hope they have a good party back at base. I wonder what’s in store for us tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I hope it’s something good,” replied Ochre.

“I’m sure the boss will have something planed,” Blue answered.

“No matter what it might be, we need to get back, guys. So why don’t we get moving?” asked Magenta as he handed his dishes and cutlery back to the cook.

“Why not?” answered Ochre as he did the same. “Come on, you slow pokes.”

“Watch it, Rick, or I’ll dunk you the next time we’re in the pool,” Grey threatened.

Blue just shook his head as he got ready to start walking again.

The directions on the map brought them to a small area of overgrown forest, with the path that they were following going through the middle of it. As they entered, Blue noticed the cooling of the air around him and the sound of the wind in the trees. It was almost magical and he found himself relaxing as he continued to walk, noting that the other captains seemed to be feeling the same way.

A small rustle was the only warning he got as his mouth and nose were covered by a cloth, with a distinctive smell to it.

‘Oh no, Chloroform,’ he realized.

His eyes widened as he saw the same thing happening to the others. He tried to fight, but his assailant held the upper hand. ‘What on earth’s going on and how the hell could this happen?’

That was the last thought coming to his mind before he felt himself succumbing to the drug-impregnated cloth pressed against his face.

A grey ceiling greeted Blue’s eyes when he opened them and he came to the realization that he was lying on his back, on a cot, covered by a blanket. He also quickly realized that he was almost naked.

‘What the… How the…’ His mind went as it started to clear itself of the drug’s residue. As it did he heard a nearby voice:

“This stinks. Not only were we caught flat-footed, but also in a supposedly secure area. I wonder what this is all about?”

It took Blue a moment before realizing it was Magenta who was speaking. Turning his head, he saw his colleague sitting on another cot – dressed in grey sweats– with Ochre lying on it, also awake.

As Blue took in what he was seeing, another voice came from across the room: “Where the heck are we, Ma –”

“Don’t, G,” Magenta interrupted Grey, pulling on his ear as he did so.

Blue recognized the signal: it meant that the room might be bugged. A look of understanding showed on Grey’s face as well. With the feeling of disorientation leaving him, Blue sat up and took a good look at where they had ended up.

The room had nothing but the four cots that they had been laid on. The lights were recessed and fluorescence, the window bared and opaque. In other words, it was a cell. His thoughts echoed Magenta’s: ‘This is just great, it seems that we have become prisoners.’

“What do you know, M?” Ochre asked as he sat up as well.

“The door’s locked with a simple lock but it also seems to be bolted on the outside, so it’s a no go. The ‘glass’ is Perspex, double-layered, no way out there.” Magenta shrugged. “Looks like we are going to be the unwilling guests of whoever, for a bit.”

“How come you’re awake and dressed, M? And how long have you been awake?” questioned Grey.

Laying a finger by his nose, Magenta answered, “Let’s just say I have a higher tolerance to the drug than you lot. Remind me to tell you why later, and I haven’t been…” He was interrupted by the door opening to reveal six masked men, four of which were armed.

“Get dressed,” one of the unarmed ones commanded, upon entering.

“And if we don’t?” challenged Ochre.

The man turned to two of his armed companions and barked, “Oбеспеченный его!” For the four captives, it sounded definitely like Russian. With precision and finesse, the two men very quickly had Magenta, with his hands cuffed behind him, against a wall between them, covered by their guns.

“Now, is blood going to be spilled because you are not willing to follow a simple request?” the mask spokesman asked.

Magenta looked at Ochre, Grey and Blue and they looked back at him.

“All right, we’ll get dressed,” Ochre answered, getting up and grabbing the clothes that had been left at the end of each cot. Blue and Grey followed suit.

Magenta was furious with himself. That was twice he had been subdued so easily. If this had happened when he was the boss of his syndicate? He certainly wouldn’t be where he was now – he would be dead. And that was a condition that he hoped he wouldn’t end up in this time.

“What do you want from us?” queried Grey as they got dressed.

The masked man who had spoken earlier scrutinized him. “What do you think? Information.” His attention widened to include the others. “We know that you are Spectrum officers and this was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Seeing that they were now all dressed, he signalled his armed men and, with one of them keeping Magenta covered, they cuffed the other three.

“Now, so that you will understand that we will have no nonsense….”

He nodded to the gunman closest to Magenta, and the man sent his knee into the Spectrum captain’s groin, causing him to sink down onto his knees, and triggering protests from the others.

“Any attempts to go against us will be taken out on your fellow officers and we won’t go easy. So kept that…,” He nodded towards Magenta. “…in mind. Now come.”

Turning, he went through the door, followed by the other unarmed masked man who had just stood there observing all this time.

As they walked along a corridor, Blue evaluated their masked captors. Even though he could not see their faces, he could tell that they were fit, young, and at this moment of time, more that a match for them. He looked closer at the two he had pegged as the leaders: the two unarmed men, the one who had spoken to them, and the other, who had kept silent the whole time. He wondered what they wanted exactly.

‘Is this part of a Mysteron threat?’ he wondered, ‘and what’s Spectrum going to do, when they’ll realize we are missing?’

“If we’re from Spectrum, then you know that they’ll be looking for us,” Grey then said to their captors. “And when we are found, it will be perilous for all of you.”

“Only if they know that you have been abducted and they will only find us if they know where to look,” was the reply he got from the man who had spoken to them earlier. “We are not novices. We’ve made sure you have no tracking devices. This has been well-planned for when someone we would want came to Caesar. The four of you were just too good an opportunity to pass up. Whatever information we get from you will be gold on the black market.”

The corridor itself reminded Blue of an old hospital – and not a nice one. They had passed about six doors when, at the next one, one of the gunmen opened it and pushed Ochre inside. He shut the door, before continuing on with the rest of them. At the next one the same thing happened to Magenta. Then it was Blue’s turn.

The room he found himself in was bare, with a metal floor. It was small, lit by a single light and had no windows.

Blue stayed there for a short amount of time – he didn’t know how long – with nothing happening, when suddenly, an ear-splitting sound filled the room causing him to jump.  As he walked around the room to see if he could find where it came from – so he could disable it, if possible – it stopped. He stopped walking, only for the sound to make itself heard again. He started walking again, and it stopped. When he stopped walking, the sound started again. He got the idea;  he had to keep moving. ‘They must be watching me,’ he supposed. As he paced, his thoughts were perplexed, as he went over what had occurred to them and what might happen next.

After a while, as he started feeling tired, he leant against one of the walls, only to feel an electric jolt going through him, causing him to jump; he stumbled across the room. So he was not going to be able to rest.

He kept walking. ‘Are the others facing the same treatment?’ he could not help but wonder.

How long he was kept in that room, he had no idea, but it was long enough because when they came for him he was exhausted. Half-walking and half-being dragged by three masked men, he was brought into another room, where he was quickly stripped to the waist and strapped to a chair by them. Three other masked men came into the room. As far as he could tell, two of them might have been the ‘leaders’ he had met earlier. The other – ‘a doctor?’ Blue wondered – brought over some medical equipment and started to place sensors on him. Once that was done, Blue watched as a syringe was filled. He grimaced when the content was shot into his arm.

It didn’t take long for him to feel the effects of what was in the syringe. His level of worry dropped away, as the drug - whatever it was - made it hard for him to keep a hold of his thoughts.

“What’s your name?” one of the ‘leaders’ asked.

‘My name? I’m not allowed to tell, am I?’ Blue tried very hard to get over the feeling of being drunk, while tying to come up with a strategy to stop himself from giving away information.

‘Could I get away with nonsense?’ he wondered. He brought to his mind his favourite Nordic tale and used it to fudge his answers.

He lost track of how many questions he had been asked before he could no longer stay awake. So with a feeling of relief, he sank into oblivion.

Waking up, Blue was surprised that he felt as good as he did. No aching head or muscles, even the bed was nice and he was in pyjamas. ‘What gives?’ was the question that came to his mind.

Looking around, he saw that his room had two openings and through one, he could hear voices. Listening, he recognized them as being Ochre’s and Grey’s. As he got up, he saw that there were clothes on the end of the bed. ‘What the hells going on?’

He moved to the other opening and stuck his head around. It was a small bathroom with a toilet, shower and a wash basin, but what caught his eyes, were the toiletries.

‘Something very strange is going on here.’

He headed for the other opening and passing through it, entered a lounge-like room, with – as he had guessed – Ochre and Grey already there. They were sitting by a small table that had some food on it.

“Morning…, I think,” greeted Ochre. “You look as puzzled as we are about all this.” He pointed at Grey. “G here thinks that they are trying to throw us. You know, make us relax our guard, so we let things slip as we talk to each other.”

Blue gave a nod. “You could be right. So we had better be careful. Where’s M?”

Grey pointed to another opening. “In there, asleep when we looked. Okay as far as we can tell.”

“Yeah, I fine,” Magenta then said, as he came into the room having awakened since being checked. “What’s going on?”

“G here thinks that they trying to catch us off guard, so we’ll let things slip,” Ochre repeated.

“Oh. Makes sense.” Looking at the food as he joined them, Magenta asked, “Any good?”

“Haven’t tried it, just in case it’s been drugged,” answered Grey.

“Well, I guess it’s a subtle form of torture, having food you wonder if it’s safe to eat.” Magenta sat down. “Any ideas about what’s going to happen next?”

“No,” Blue replied.

“I wondered if you would?” Ochre said to Magenta.

Magenta shook his head. “This is not like any situation I have ever found myself in. So sorry, I haven’t a clue, as S would say.”

There was a scraping noise above them but before they could do anything, they found themselves covered in white sticky stuff. Looking up, Blue just had the time to see part of the ceiling replace itself.

‘What the…,’ and ‘hey, what gives’, plus other exclamations were heard from the four of them. They looked at each other, wondering if they were all thinking the same. Was there anything sinister in the substance? Without a word, they all went and showered.

Coming back into the ‘lounge’, Grey was becoming more and more puzzled with what was going on. He couldn’t understand what all of this could mean. When he thought about how roughly they had been treated, the first time they had woken up, and how much their situation had improved now – except for that white-stuff, shower episode, that was – it did not make any sense at all. Maybe he was right and they were being spied upon. He shrugged. There wasn’t anything he could do about it for now, but to watch what he said or did, and to remind the others about it as well.

Sitting down, he waited for his colleagues.

Ochre looked at the clothes that had been left for them. A nice pair of trousers, a shirt and a jacket. Putting them on, he was surprised that they fitted as well as they did. Seeing to his hair, he reminded himself to be on guard. Their captors obviously had something odd in store for them.

Having finished getting dressed, Ochre joined Grey and sat by him, but he soon got bored, so he decided to walk around and check out the ‘lounge’.

Magenta was buzzing; after going over the room that he had slept in and its en-suite, he had found small pieces of wire. Just right for picking locks. Now if they had a bit of luck, they might have a chance to escape.

Leaving the bedroom he re-entered the lounge-like area where Grey and Ochre were. Blue joined them not long after.

Seeing Blue come in, Magenta called the three over to him.

“I’ve found something that might get us out of here if we’re lucky,” he told them very quietly.

“Oh?” the others responded. Like him, they were keeping their voices very quiet.

“Wire, that I can used to pick locks.”

“What good would that do if we are under surveillance?” asked Grey in a hushed tone.

“I don’t think we are,” replied Ochre. “I’ve been having a good look around this room and I haven’t seen anything to show that we are under visual surveillance. There are microphones but no cameras – at least nothing I would recognize as one.”

“That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any,” Blue remarked.

“True, Blue,” Ochre agreed. “But I think the main question is, what are we going do with what Magenta found?”

“You know, I’m finding this whole situation weird. What if our abductors were giving us a chance to escape?” The others could hear the puzzlement in Grey’s voice. He shrugged. “To give us false hope and catch us afterward, for example?” He suggested. “They could have planted that wire there on purpose.”

“They didn’t, Grey,” Magenta assured him. “The place I found the wire wasn’t an easy one to reach and was all dusty.  It had been there a while.”

“Can the door be picked?” Blue asked.

“No,” Ochre answered. “ But there’s a window that Magenta might be able to try.”

“Well, shouldn’t we start acting, then?” Grey asked. “I mean, we’ve been quiet for too long. Our jailers might suspect that’s something’s up.”

“Right.” Blue gave out some instructions: “Grey and I will have a discussion, while you two go and see about that window.” He nodded at Magenta and Ochre. “If we can get out that way, then I say we go for it. It’s a much better option than do nothing, but to sit and wait, while stressing about what these guys have in store for us next.”

The window did provide a way of escape. However, after going through it, they found themselves outside, in a courtyard surrounded by a two storey-high building. They couldn’t recognize their surroundings as part of Caesar training camp, and had no idea where they could be. Out there, they were far too exposed to feel comfortable about it. They needed to take cover quickly.

Ochre made his way to a nearby door and looking through the window set by it, he could see that it opened into a lounge. He tried the door, and found it to be locked.

Blue and Magenta joined him. Turning to them he asked, “Do you think it’s worth trying to unlock it, and get out of here?”

“No,” Grey replied as he tried the handle of another door on the opposite side of the window, it turned. “This one is open.”

Quickly, they went through it, hoping that they hadn’t been seen. Once inside they found themselves in a storeroom, holding old outside chairs. With two other doors leading out of it.

 Magenta opened one of them, and found another room. “That’s no good,” he said.

“Jackpot,” said Blue as he opened the other. “A corridor. This way, guys.”

Along it they went, Ochre taking point, Grey bringing up the rear, all of them looking to see if they could spot any cameras. None were seen.

Not too far along, they came to an intersection with another corridor, to find their way barred by two sets of double doors. It was there that they saw their first camera. It was facing one lot of the doors.

“Now we know which way not to go,” said Ochre.

“I wonder why only one camera?” Magenta questioned.

With a thoughtful look, Grey swung around. “If I’ve got my bearings right….” He pointed at the door that had the camera aimed at it. “… That would be the direction of the rooms that we just escaped from.”

“So we definitely don’t want to go down there,” declared Ochre.

“That being the case, let’s move it, before we are caught,” stated Blue.

“S.I.G,” the others replied.

The next several minutes were nerve-racking, as they tried to find a way out of the place, or even a room where they would find something with which to contact Spectrum. More than once, they just avoided being found by a patrol, or spotted by a camera, by quickly ducking into a room or down another corridor. They couldn’t even find their way back to the room they had got inside the building by.

Then, after what seemed like a very long time, they found themselves in front of another set of double doors.

“You just got to be joking.” Ochre waved a hand. “This place is like a bloody maze. I’m almost at the point of wanting to be caught, if only to end this ridiculous situation.” He turned and looked at the others. “Here we are, the best in our fields, and we can’t find our way out of a building.”

“At least, we haven’t been caught,” Magenta pointed out.

“True, but I get a sense that more is going on than we know,” Blue added.

“That might be,” replied Grey. “But we still only have two options: go through these doors or go back the way we came.”

“And wander in here for another hour or so,” Magenta added.

Each of them contemplated the options and, as one, headed towards the doors and pushed them…

…Simply to stand and stare in surprise at what was waiting for them behind.

The doors had opened out into a grand meeting room, but that was not what had stopped them cold.

It was a tree. An eight foot high fir tree, standing against the opposite wall – a decorated Christmas tree, with the obligatory fancy wrapped parcels under it.

They walked into the room without a word, wondering what the hell was going on. Gazing around they saw that the tree wasn’t the only thing to be decorated: the room had been as well. Had they stumbled upon their captors’ Christmas party, they thought absurdly? If they had, they had better get out of the room fast. Turning on their heels to do just that, they were stopped by a voice:

“Having barely arrived, are you going to leave so soon?”

Blue slowly turned, he knew that accent!

Yes it was definitely who he thought it was, standing there, and looking at them with a wide grin on his face.

“Paul! What the hell is going on?!”

Scarlet could see the changes in Blue’s face as well as in the others. He mentally told Colonel White off for putting him in this not so enviable position. Holding up a hand, he said, “Please, don’t shoot the messenger. I had nothing to do with planning this.”

“Planning this… You mean, all of it was just a test?” Blue could feel real anger rise up in him, as he remembered what the four of them had gone through.

“You’re kidding us,” Ochre said in turn. “A test? Colonel White put us through hell yesterday just to test us?”

Scarlet shook his head. “Colonel White isn’t completely to blame for it as well,” he said. “To tell you the truth, yesterday was courtesy of a Spectrum Intelligence officer – who shall remain nameless, to save the four of you from charges of manslaughter. I guess his nose was put out of joint, because the colonel hadn’t chosen a Spectrum facility for your getting up into shape. So he has been on and on pestering his superior about how security had been compromised and then, his superior, annoyed the colonel. If it’s of any consolation to you, you lot weren’t the only ones tested: Caesar was as well.”

Scarlet saw by his colleagues’ expression that they had understood very well of whom he was talking about. Indeed, there was only one man they could think of, who would go to such extremes, just for the sakes of security. Spectrum Intelligence’s Martin Conners. He wouldn’t care in the least if, just to make a point, his actions would place some Cloudbase’s officers in an unpleasant situation. As a matter of fact, to the contrary, that despicable man would probably take some pleasure in seeing them squirm.

Scarlet reached for a covered tray and brought it over to a table near his friends. He uncovered it to show a range of eatable Christmas treats.

“Don’t worry,” he told them. “You all passed, and it over now. So please, don‘t be angry about it. Sit, eat, relax… As far as the colonel’s concerned, you are all on leave for the rest of the day and tomorrow.”

He watched and felt relieved, as the other captains’ body language eased and they joined him, each taking something from the tray.

“Let me guess… that ‘not so intelligent officer’, who shall remain nameless, was the masked man who just stood there, observing the whole thing, without saying a word?” speculated Magenta. “He didn‘t seem to be the right height though…”

“No, that was me,” Scarlet admitted. “The colonel wasn’t going to allow him anywhere near you and made it very clear that SI had to be careful in what they did. I was there to make sure they were. So was Fawn.” He turned to Magenta and added with a shake of his head, “I have to say that you surprised me with how quickly you recovered from the chloroform.”

Magenta looked sheepish. “Yes, well, it’s a trick that I was shown by one of my old associates. I’ve been meaning to pass it on to you guys, but forgot.”

“Well, what is it?” Ochre demanded.

“It’s simple, really. It’s a bluff.” Magenta folded his arms. “You struggle like you would, breathing in as little as possible, but you give up sooner than you would. Hopefully, your abductor takes the cloth away sooner than he would have, so you don’t get as bigger a dose of the drug as you would have.” He shrugged his shoulders.  “That‘s it, really.”

“So you were playing possum,” said Scarlet with a nod.

“No, I was out of it for a time. I just came around faster, not that it did me any good,” Magenta said with a wince. “That knee hurt.”

Scarlet had the grace to look embarrassed.  “Ahhh, yes. Sorry about that. I couldn’t interfere.”

“It’s alright Paul. I won’t hold it against you,” Magenta said with a grin. “Now I know who I should blame for that. So he wasn’t that other guy either, right? Because it seems to me like that guy was also taller than our… esteemed friend.”

“You kidding?” Scarlet said, scoffing. “He wouldn’t get his hands dirty and as I said, the colonel didn’t want him anywhere near you. No, that was another SI agent – some kind of expert in those operations. A nice guy, all in all.”

“Nice guy, right,” Blue said, rolling his eyes.

“So now what?” asked Grey.

A gigantic smile lit Scarlet’s face. “It’s Christmas day. A day for fun, food, presents, friends and family.” As he said the last, he turned to a door and called: “Symphony, it’s time.”

On hearing that name, Blue’s heartbeat quickened in anticipation of seeing her; he had missed her so.

Sure enough, the door opened and in she came – but not alone. She was followed by Rhapsody and Destiny and behind them, came others – whom, although it took a moment or two, Grey, Magenta, Ochre and Blue recognized.

“As I said,” went Scarlet, “it’s Christmas day. A day for friends and family. So Colonel White organized this surprise for you lot. Enjoy!” And with that, he left them to go and see his mother, father, Rhapsody and her father.

Blue didn’t wait either. He headed straight for Symphony who was standing with her mother. It was a bonus that his mother was with them.

Magenta had just picked up a Christmas mince pie when he saw someone he didn’t expect. “Sarah! I thought you would be with Mammy and Pappy!” Leaving his seat, he went over to his sister, and they started talking.

Ochre thought about joining them but didn’t want to intrude. He looked around. Destiny had her parents with her, and even Grey had someone. He recognized her: it was Grey’s younger sister, Lauren, another water lover and a doctor in the World Navy. Memories of their brief friendship came to mind, but it had been over long before Spectrum had called him and her brother. He wondered what her reaction was going to be, seeing him again. Especially with him supposedly dead.

A sigh escaped him. That was why he didn’t have anyone outside of Spectrum. To the rest of the world, Richard Fraser, former detective for the World Government Police Corps had been killed. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, to stage his own assassination, so that he would freely join Spectrum, but now he could not help but wonder if it was.

“Ah! Now what explanation do you have, for the obvious falsification of official records?”

Ochre jumped in surprise. He knew that voice, but the surprise of hearing it was more than a shock. Spinning around, he saw a man a few years older than him, with light brown hair, hazel eyes, and sitting in a wheelchair.

“Tod! What…. How? You’re here?” Ochre stammered.

“Surprise! I’ve finally pulled a joke on you. Sit down before you fall down.” Tod wheeled himself around, so that he could face Ochre. “Yes, I am here, and it’s really good to see you, old friend.”

“But… I thought that you never wanted to see any of us ever again?”

“True, and…” Tod shook his head. “That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to find that you’re still alive. So I would be able to tell you I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?”

“In a nutshell, I finally got over being stuck in this.” Tod waved at his chair. “I know, it’s been a long time and I didn’t make it pleasant for any of you at the precinct. Blaming everyone for what happened to me, driving you away, becoming a recluse.… Well, let’s say that something happened last year and I finally decided to reclaim my life.” He grabbed a sandwich from the tray. “So with a bit of hard work, I became an arms consultant for the old boss, the World Government Police Corps. I was doing alright, until one day, a man in a suit comes to my workplace and tells me I’m wanted. So a member of Spectrum I become.”

“You’re kidding!” Ochre said with a smile.

“You’re sure you don’t have anything to do with it?” Tod asked with suspicion.

“I had no idea Spectrum had recruited you, honest.”

Tod took a bite, and waved at Ochre.  “Eat. You look as white as a sheet. Interesting job I got. It certainly keeps me busy. Well, one afternoon my boss calls me in, and introduces someone from Spectrum Intelligence –who tells me an interesting story about you – how you tricked your own death to join Spectrum. Trust you to pull something like that!”

“At the time, it sounded like the best thing to do. It wasn’t an easy choice.”

“I guess not.” Tod shook his head. “When I was invited to come over for this Christmas party – I thought I couldn’t pass on the chance to see you again. And now I’m here.”

“Who’s this, Rick?” asked Magenta as he came over with Sarah.

Ochre stood and with a gesture said, “May I present to you Theodore Smith. One of the best men I worked with in the WGPC.”

“Rick,” Tod said hitting his hands on his wheels, “I’ve told you, never call me Theodore. It’s Tod.”

Ochre gave him a cheeky grin.  “Well, Tod, may I present to you Sarah and Patrick Donaghue. Pat’s my working partner here at Spectrum.”

Tod looked at Ochre then at Magenta and then returned his attention back to Ochre. “Patrick Donaghue? Not the Patrick Donaghue? Who used to be boss of a crime syndicate in New York?”

Magenta flushed in embarrassment. “Yes. But that’s all behind me now. I’m… reformed.”

Tod cracked up laughing. “Finally! Someone managed to pull one hell of a joke on you, Rick! Boy, I would have loved to had been there when you two first met!”

Ochre stared at Tod and then glanced at Magenta, who had a cheeky grin himself.

“That’s what I had thought,” agreed Magenta. “And we weren’t exactly looking eye to eye at the time. But now I could not have a better partner.”

“I know, Spectrum’s lucky to have him,” concurred Tod.

While they had been talking, waiters had been going around serving food and drink. As they did so, the other captains had also noticed Ochre’s guest. Coming over they wanted to be introduced. Ochre was more than happy to oblige.

Time passed, and everyone mingled, having a good time. However, they were interrupted by a message from Colonel White, which came via the large screen that was set on the wall next to the Christmas tree.

“Members of Spectrum and guests. I hope this time has been one of pleasure and refreshment, a time of renewing and strengthening the ties that are between you. For it was once pointed out to me that it is these connections that give us the strength to be able to do what it is that we do. So I extend my thanks to the families and friends of my officers, for your willingness to hold their secret and the support you give them. They would not be the officers that they are without it.

 “To my senior staff, I know that the past year has been one of trials, and for some, great hardships. Your willingness to carry on and your drive to be and do your best is the greatest aspiration a commanding officer could hope for. So you have my leave to enjoy this day and all the things in it. Happy Christmas, everyone.”

And with that, his image faded from the screen.

Grey, Blue, Magenta, Ochre, Scarlet, Symphony, Rhapsody and Destiny looked at each other with some surprise and apprehension.

“Well, I guess that’s as close to an order the colonel’s ever going to give us, to have some fun,” said Ochre. “So I for one, am going to obey it.”

“Yes, let’s,” agreed Magenta. He raised his glass high. “Merry Christmas to all!”

And everybody chorused after him, wishing a happy Christmas and the best of time to each other.

 The End

 

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson are the original creators of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and thanks go to them, as well as all those who worked on the storylines of the show that ended up giving us such fun characters to play with.

Also a big thank you to Chris Bishop for a wonderful website that allows us to find lots of cool things and for her skills as a beta-reader.

I also thank the other writers on this site for the characters that they have created. Sarah Donaghue is Sue Stanhope’s and is part of her wonderful stories about Magenta. Lauren Holden is Sage Harper’s and is first found in her story, Sweet Child of Mine. Doctor Weiss is Mary J. Rudy’s and was used in a number of other stories. Thank you for their creation.

For the others who were used but not named, I like, Chris Bishop, Marion Woods and Mary J. Rudy’s characterization of them.

Tod Smith is my own creation.

Oh and lastly: Martin Conners, the Spectrum Intelligence officer, ‘who shall remain nameless’, but was actually named is Chris Bishop’s creation. Well done. Thanks, Chris, he’s a great character, if only to use as a target on the captain dart board.

My story has been written for mine and others’ enjoyment and not for any financial gain. And any boo-boos are mine and mine alone.

A Happy New Year to all.

 

 

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