The Queen’s Christmas Parade was incredibly popular. It had been introduced in the New Restoration Year as part of the celebrations following the defeat of the Military Government and the return of the United Kingdom to constitutional monarchy in 2047. Over the following 25 years it had grown in size and popularity and now for its ‘Silver Jubilee’ was bigger and gaudier than ever, although in essence it remained the same concept.
Two hundred and fifty ‘disadvantaged’ children, nominated by charities and local organisations across the country, were to be brought together in London for a special gala pantomime performance followed by tea with the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, as well as politicians, grandees and celebrities from all walks of life.
The pantomime was always performed at the London Palladium, a venue long associated with royal theatrical events, and afterwards the excited children would be driven down Regent Street and Haymarket to Trafalgar Square, for a short carol service. Then the whole procession, comprising of a variety of horse-drawn coaches and vintage motor vehicles, would set off again, under Admiralty Arch and along The Mall to the newly restored Buckingham Palace. As the Queen and many of the other celebrities were part of the parade, the streets were always lined with cheering crowds while charity volunteers collected donations for worthy causes as the parade wound along the highly decorated streets. The whole event was televised and had taken on the mantle of a pre-Christmas tradition.
This year it was to take place on the 17 December.
“It’s a wonderful experience; something you never forget,” Rhapsody Angel explained to her colleagues, in the Amber Room on Cloudbase. “The streets were lit up with thousands of lights, something that never happened under the Military Government as it was regarded as a profligate waste of energy. It was magical.”
“You’ve been to watch?” Harmony Angel asked, smiling at her friend’s enthusiasm.
“Several times and I was in one of the coaches when I was seven,” Rhapsody said. “I can still remember how exciting it was and the wonder of it all. Of course, it’s grown into a much grander affair since then.”
“How, exactly, were you a ‘disadvantaged’ child?” Captain Ochre’s scepticism was clearly obvious in his voice and his expression.
Rhapsody had the grace to blush slightly. “I wasn’t really, but there were some children who were expected to attend who never turned up, so Daddy and some other officials were asked to let their children fill the seats. It wouldn’t do for there to be empty spaces in the parade coaches; it was still a fairly new event then and the Powers That Be were keen to show it was popular.”
She glanced apologetically at the handsome American, for she was very fond of him and didn’t like to think he despised her. To her relief, he smiled at her and it was obvious he found her explanation acceptable.
“That must have been truly magical,” Harmony said sweetly. “Of the broadcasts I have seen the children are always so excited.”
“The security must be tight,” Ochre remarked. “All those politicians milling about, not to mention royalty and pop stars. Those type of events were always my least favourite jobs. You had to start planning for the next one the day after the event took place.”
Rhapsody nodded. “It certainly takes some organising. My mother’s been on the committee for years and it takes over her life for weeks at a time.”
“Are you going to watch it this year?” Harmony asked.
“Only on the broadcast.” Her friend sighed. “I’m due to work.”
“I shall watch it with you, then,” Harmony offered, “and we will celebrate with the children.”
“Won’t you be at Scarlet’s birthday bash?” Ochre asked.
“Yes, but that’s later on; assuming he’s on Cloudbase, of course.”
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS, WE KNOW YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN. WE WILL BE AVENGED FOR YOUR UNPROVOKED ATTACK ON OUR MARTIAN COMPLEX. OUR DEADLY LIGHTS WILL ENSURE YOUR CHILDREN SUFFER FOR YOUR CRIMES.
“It might be some kind of beam, broadcast onto the Earth from space?” Captain Magenta suggested to Colonel White and the on-duty officers gathered in the Conference Room to discuss the latest Mysteron threat.
“It might be,” the colonel agreed, without sounding convinced by the idea.
“Lasers?” Captain Scarlet remarked. “Industrial lasers are highly dangerous.”
“But are not often found in the presence of children,” Colonel White reasoned. Scarlet acknowledged the truth of that with a wry nod.
The door of the room slid open and Rhapsody ran in, looking alarmed and distraught.
The colonel rasped: “What is the meaning of this?”
“Colonel – I’m sorry, sir, but the threat, I know what it means!” she gasped, breathlessly. It was quite a hike from the Amber Room and she had run all the way.
“Then you had better tell us, hadn’t you?” White said kindly enough.
Panting heavily, she explained: “The Queen’s Christmas Parade in London. We were talking about it just now and then we heard the threat. It has to be that, sir – all those children and important people driving along streets loaded with Christmas lights and shop fronts – all being broadcast around the world – not just the UK.”
“It certainly meets the usual criteria for a Mysteron attack,” Captain Blue said. “Maximum devastation and maximum publicity.”
“Indeed.” Colonel White looked horrified at the prospect of an attack on what should be such a joyful event. “Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue, I want you to go to London immediately and investigate. Take Captain Ochre with you, he’s well-versed in public security and his experience will be invaluable. He’s off-duty at the moment, but I’m sure he won’t object.”
“S.I.G.,” the captains replied simultaneously, as they got to their feet.
“Rhapsody, I want you to fly escort to the SPJ in Angel Three. You’re familiar with London and I want a discreet aerial watch kept on the route. Pick up a helijet from London airport and use that. Captain Magenta can travel in the SPJ and meet you at the airport.”
Rhapsody watched Scarlet, Blue and Ochre speed towards central London in the SPV, before she and Magenta went to requisition a helijet. Then she piloted the craft in the same direction as the captains had gone, while Magenta set up a high-powered binocular-scope wired to a Mysteron detector, that he’d brought with him from Cloudbase. The device was still at the experimental stage, but as the ever-optimistic Irishman had explained, ‘this was the best chance to check it works that we’re ever likely to get’.
“Spectrum: London have sent a detailed breakdown of the security plans,” Ochre said from the bucket seat of the SPJ, as he studied the documents on his hand-held computer.
Scarlet swivelled around to face him, while Blue negotiated the London-bound traffic. “Anything useful we should know?”
Ochre grimaced, shook his head and sighed. “The attack could come from anywhere along the route and in dozens of ways. The procession moves very slowly all the way along Regent Street, partly because it only forms up outside the Palladium and partly because there’s a toy shop half-way down the street-”
“Humbley’s,” Scarlet explained.
“Yeah; and they’re gonna hand out gifts to the kids.”
“It’s a tradition,” Scarlet confirmed.
“Show me something in ‘Ye Olde Ingerland’ that ain’t,” Ochre muttered.
“Watch it, Yank,” Scarlet said mischievously. “You still owe us for that tea in Boston Harbour, remember? We might still wanna collect.”
“We’re approaching Marble Arch,” Blue warned them. “The police are going to want to see our IDs.”
“We’re driving a frigging SPV, what more ID do they need?” said Ochre.
“I am sad to say that car-jacking has reached dear old Blighty from across the Pond now,” Scarlet replied, with an exasperated roll of his sapphire-blue eyes. “Even our policemen don’t take everything on trust any more, you know.”
Blue slowed down and opened the side door to allow the constable a view inside the SPV. He reached down and handed over his ID pass, which the officer swiped into a computerised verifier.
“Proceed,” he said, handing Blue back the disc. “You’ll find that you’ve a clear route to Oxford Circus. You won’t be able to get this vehicle any closer than that, sir.”
“That’ll do nicely,” Blue replied with a smile. He drove slowly down the road which was thronged with spectators hurrying towards the start of the procession. “Looks like a massive turnout.”
Scarlet nodded, a frown on his face. “I just hope we can stop the Mysterons from turning it into a bloodbath.”
“We still haven’t got any idea of what they’re intending to do,” Ochre reminded his colleagues. “We’re fighting blind, guys.”
“Then we must be extra vigilant and ready for anything,” Scarlet replied. “We can’t afford to drop our guard for a moment. There’s too much at stake.”
As Blue brought the SPV to a halt in the middle of a ring of police vehicles at Oxford Circus, and Scarlet’s door slid open to lower his seat to the ground, he glanced up and saw the unmistakable shape of the Spectrum helijet appear over the roofs of the buildings and circle above them.
“Scarlet to Magenta, what can you see?” he asked over his radio.
“The transport is lining up in readiness for the end of the performance,” Magenta reported. “We’re run the Mysteron Detector over the vehicles and the report shows negative, Captain. There’s a heavy police presence along the street and I can see Spectrum Ground Forces deployed on vantage points along the route. We’re going to check the route from here to the Palace and we’ll report back.”
“S.I.G.; keep in radio contact at all times,” Scarlet acknowledged.
He turned to Ochre who was waiting for Blue to secure the SPV. “Captain, would you speak to the senior police officer and confirm everything’s still good to go? Then I want you to co-ordinate their security plans with Spectrum’s. Nothing’s to fall through the net with this one.”
Ochre acknowledged with a salute and marched smartly towards the police command post. Scarlet gave a satisfied smile: however flippant Ochre might be amongst colleagues, he was a total professional when on a mission and, given his own World Police Corps experience, there was no way he would take any bullshit from a local force.
Blue came alongside his field partner. He was scanning the immediate location with a Mysteron detector. “All clear. Nothing’s registering.”
“I just wish we could be sure the detectors were infallible at a distance,” Scarlet remarked, “but it’s reassuring to know that there’s nothing obvious, anyway.”
“The threat spoke of ‘deadly lights’,” Blue reminded him, raising his glance to the swathes of Christmas lights festooned across the street and buildings. “There’s a lot of potential threats here.”
“We can hardly ask them to turn them off, the place would be in pitch darkness,” said Scarlet, “and besides, that might trigger the problem. I wouldn’t put it past the Mysterons to expect us to close them down and be waiting for us to try.”
Blue nodded. “No, they’re warped enough for that, right enough.”
The Tannoy was broadcasting Christmas songs and the impeccable diction of a boy chorister echoed miraculously across the crowded streets.
“That song always gives me goose-bumps,” Blue admitted, much to his companion’s surprise.
Scarlet grinned. “I guess you could say we’re all used to walking in the air, Blue-boy.”
Blue looked pensive as he recalled past Christmases with his family. “It summed up everything I ever wanted to be - and do – and everything my father despised.”
“He doesn’t despise it now,” Scarlet reminded him. It had taken some time, but John Svenson had become reconciled to his eldest son’s choice of career.
Blue brought himself back to the job in hand and gave his friend one of his dazzling smiles. “No; all we have to do is continue to perform miracles and he’ll go right on approving…”
Scarlet chuckled. “Come on then, Miracle-Worker, we mustn’t disappoint him. Let’s get on with the day job.”
Ochre reported that the performance was coming to a close and that the Royal Party would be moving to the entrance of the theatre to get into their coach in the next six or seven minutes.
“S.I.G., Captain. Maintain communication with all security officers, alert the helijet and ground forces. Blue and I will move to the coach and provide cover from there.” Blue started moving in obedience to Scarlet’s orders.
There was already a cordon of Coldstream Guards around the coach and lining the route from the front of the theatre, while a detachment of the Blues and Royals waited to escort the coach, their horses champing on their bits amidst the piles of steaming manure that dotted the street. Blue began assiduously checking them with the Mysteron Detector.
“All clear,” he reported.
Scarlet moved forward as the theatre doors were thrown back and the guard of honour came to attention; his Spectrum tunic blended well with the ceremonial uniforms of the Guards who towered over him in their bearskins. He stood to one side as the members of the Royal party moved along to the coach and were settled inside by their attendants.
Behind them came a stream of noisy and excited children. There were plenty of adults to ensure there were no escapees and that no one got lost as they were marshalled towards the coaches, now moving up to replace the Royal coach, which had moved away towards Oxford Circus, where civic dignitaries were waiting to greet them. Luckily, most of the children were too excited by the tall red-coated soldiers to notice the less decorative but vigilant security men surrounding them.
The Christmas music was replaced by the National Anthem and many of the watching crowd sang along with ‘God Save the King’ with patriotic fervour.
Scarlet noticed Rhapsody Angel’s mother, Lady Susan Simms, standing by the theatre door, to check that the event was going according to plan.
“The Royal Coach is in the Circus,” Blue reported. “Ochre’s checked all the dignitaries and they’re clear. The formal greeting will take some ten minutes, allowing for the kids to get into the coaches and the procession to form up.”
“Blue, get into the SPV. I want you to shadow the procession.”
“They’re not going to like that,” Blue warned, as he moved to obey the order.
“Tell them they can stick tinsel on it if they want,” Scarlet snapped. “The threat was to the children and I’m betting the Royal Family will be okay, but I want Spectrum to be ready to take protective action, if necessary.”
“You’re the boss, Captain. I’ll let you know when the SPV is active.”
Scarlet was still uneasy about the effectiveness of their precautions. There were Spectrum ground forces with Mysteron detectors all along the route, as well as officers armed with the cumbersome electron rifles that were the only weapon Spectrum knew was guaranteed to permanently kill a Mysteron. The national army was on high alert and although the soldiers were dressed in their ceremonial finery, every one of them was armed and ready for combat. The police had marksmen along the route and Ochre had reported that they were confident of protecting the procession.
Overhead he could hear the thrum of helicopter rotors as the police overflew the area, and even the television service’s helicopters carried armed marksmen. The helijet was more manoeuvrable and better armed than the civilian craft, and Rhapsody was an excellent pilot. She wouldn’t shirk from attacking if - and when - danger presented and he had no doubt that there’d be little or no collateral damage from any weapon Rhapsody launched.
“Then why am I still so anxious?” he thought.
He glanced across at the theatre, where the final guests were leaving for the last coach in the procession and caught Lady Susan staring straight at him. He smiled and gave an acknowledging salute. She smiled back, apparently delighted to see that Spectrum was also on the scene.
“The Royal Party is starting down Regent Street; the rest of the procession is ready to move,” Blue reported over the radio. “I’m in the SPV, without any extraneous tinsel, and ready to track the procession.”
“Keep the Queen’s coach in range, Blue. There’s something not right… I can sense it.”
“The Mysterons?” Blue trusted Scarlet’s intermittent ‘sixth sense’ when it came to sensing the presence of Mysterons or their agents.
“Something… I can’t pinpoint it. Look, I’m going to cut down Argyll Street and Great Marlborough Street. I’ll head for Humbley’s; that’s where the procession will slow right down.”
He set off at a run.
“There’s a show outside Humbley’s, to entertain the crowds,” Ochre informed them. “Several top pop stars will be blasting out their latest and greatest hits, led by the latest teen-sensation boy-band and there’ll be street performers on hand as well. I’ve told the Ground Forces to keep an eye on them, as best they can with all the movement.”
“Marvellous,” Blue remarked dryly. “Scarlet, I’ll cut through Hanover Square and Conduit Street and get to Humbley’s that way. It should be quicker than trying to get down Regent Street with the coaches. Rhapsody, keep your eye on the Royal Coach for now until I’m in position.”
“S.I.G.,” she replied.
“S.I.G.,” Scarlet panted. “Ochre, get down there too. I have a feeling that’s where the Mysterons will strike.”
Outside the world-renowned toy shop the crowd were cheering the slow approach of the Royal Coach. The Horse Guards were leading the way and even their well-trained horses were nervous at the noise from the crowd and the non-stop hearty banter of the presenter of the show in full swing opposite the shop.
Scarlet rounded the corner onto Regent Street and groaned. The pavement was packed with the crowd and there was no way he’d be able to get along to the shop. He tapped the shoulder of a policeman lining the road and squeezed through the cordon onto the main road, only to be confronted by a row of horses, several deep. He marched alongside the Horse Guards, taking the time to glance up and reassure the rider that he was no threat.
He could see a troupe of implausibly glamorous and manically cheerful ‘cockney’ dancers, dressed as archaic costermongers and Pearly Kings and Queens, performing a theatrical version of ‘Knees up, Mother Brown’ to the perennial ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ to entertain the crowd.
“They say the old songs are the best,” Scarlet remarked to the cavalryman at his side, grinned and dropped back to race across the road before the Royal Coach reached him.
The SPV eased out of Conduit Street and turned towards Piccadilly Circus. The crowd cheered, assuming this was part of the procession, and Blue was grateful to have avoided raising the usual alarm and panic caused by the sight of a huge armoured SPV.
He could see Captain Scarlet striding along the road abreast of the Royal Coach and behind them was the procession of coaches and vehicles packed with children. Captain Ochre reached the SPV and jumped onto the running board, grasping the handhold to steady himself.
“Carry on, Blue,” he said, over the radio. “I’m ready to go to Scarlet’s aid, if necessary.”
Blue noticed that Ochre was somewhat self-consciously acknowledging the cheers and waves of the crowd as they slowly moved forward. “You could become a celebrity in your own right,” he remarked to his colleague.
“Jeez, I hope not. I’m supposed to be dead, remember?” Ochre replied, referring to the fake assassination he had undergone to allow him to become a Spectrum Officer. There had been too many criminal elements who had cause to recall the distinctive features of Assistant World Police Commander Richard Fraser for him to go undercover without some scheme to divorce him from his past.
Blue often thought that of them all Ochre had lost the most through joining Spectrum and he reckoned that Christmas must bring that home even more, as other officers went home to visit families and friends. “I guess we’ll find out if Fawn’s plastic surgery was effective,” he replied sympathetically.
“Huh; it was only some dental work and a decent shave…” Ochre muttered. “You just keep this baby moving, Blue…”
The Royal Coach had moved past Humbley’s after the celebrities recruited to hand out the presents had been presented. There was a military band marching up and down Haymarket who would entertain the party until the procession re-joined them and they all moved down to Trafalgar Square to accompany the choristers who were waiting to lead the carol singing.
The first processional coach pulled up at the shop and the celebrities swung into action, presenting the elegantly-wrapped gifts to the children with smiles and hugs. They posed for press photographs and selfies with the children and then everyone clapped and cheered as the coach moved off and the next one rolled up for the whole routine to begin again.
“Rhapsody Angel to the Field Officers: the Royal coach is now stationary in Piccadilly Circus and the guard of honour is in place. No sign of any threat there.”
“Good,” Scarlet replied. “Maintain surveillance. I am more sure than ever that something’s going on.”
He had remained by the toy shop when the Royal coach had moved on, firm in his belief that the target for the Mysteron threat was the children. He looked back towards Oxford Circus and saw the vehicles bunching up as they waited their turn with the celebrities. There were small events all along the route and he was anxious about the street performers roaming amongst the crowds, although logic told him that one performer was unlikely to be able to cause much damage, especially as there were security men everywhere.
Two coaches moved across the road to allow the additional coaches room to turn into the street and so Regent Street was blocked at both ends: by the Royal party and the first coaches towards Piccadilly Circus, and the waiting vehicles towards Oxford Circus.
Scarlet’s hackles rose; now was as good a time as any for the Mysterons to make their move.
From his vantage point on the SPV, Ochre was also looking back along the route. There was a small stage about half-way between the junction with Great Marlborough Street and that with Conduit Street. Some performers were juggling glowing globes while behind them a bank of laser lights pulsed in swirling patterns.
“Scarlet,” he began to say into his radio at the very moment the laser light show expanded into a brilliant explosion of firepower, showering the startled crowd with shards of hot glass.
“What the-?” Scarlet span round. “That’s no accident!”
He began to race towards the explosion, dodging in between the coaches. As he did, above him the hundreds of lights in the Christmas decoration strung across the street exploded and the live wires hung down, electricity sparking from their trailing ends.
The local crowd panicked and tried to run from the danger, but in the press of people and vehicles, few could escape. The security men, several of whom had been injured by the original explosions, were trying to restore order as Scarlet ran up.
“Blue, get them to turn the power off,” he ordered.
“He’s already on it,” Ochre assured him over the radio. He was directing the traffic towards Piccadilly Circus to relieve the press in Regent Street. “Stop any more coaches coming down here, Scarlet. We’re too crowded!”
Scarlet ordered a policeman to direct those coaches that could move to go down Great Marlborough Street and Maddox Street – anywhere away from the danger zone.
The emergency services were trying to get to the injured and the wailing of sirens was adding to the confusion, but gradually people were being moved away from the immediate danger of the broken cables.
“The power’s off, but the lights are still working,” Blue reported. “Some stores have generators, I guess, but the police have issued an emergency shutdown order, so they should go out soon.”
As he spoke two of the department stores that lined the route went dark as their generators shut down, but overhead the Christmas decorations burned even more brightly.
“Deadly lights,” Blue muttered, then he cried out, “Scarlet, be careful! Those lights are Mysteronised!”
Overhead the helijet was shining its spotlight down into the chaos below. Magenta reported that there was no reading on their Mysteron detector. “It may just be an accident, Blue.”
“Nothing they do is an accident,” Scarlet interjected through clenched teeth. “I think Blue’s right; the threat must be these lights. Otherwise they’d have gone off when the power died. Get the kids out of here, as quick as you can, and then close the roads.”
The police were making a reasonable job of getting the coaches out of the way and marshalling the crowds away from Regent Street, but it was taking much longer than Scarlet liked. The Fire Brigade had arrived and they were proposing to isolate the damaged cable so that it wasn’t a danger. Scarlet wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, although he had nothing better in the way of a solution to offer at that particular moment. He stepped back to allow the firemen access to the trailing cables and watched them kit themselves up to deal with the live wires.
The two men climbed onto a short turntable ladder and were raised towards the post that supported the cables that swung across the road. One man stretched out his gloved hand to grab the cable.
There was a blinding flash, a scream and smell of burning.
Scarlet ran forward to where the man’s body lay smashed on the pavement, his protective gear smouldering. His companion was descending the ladder, calling his friend’s name in a vain hope that he had survived.
Scarlet stepped forward and prevented him reaching down.
“I’m sorry; he’s dead. What happened up there? Did he make contact with the power source?”
“No.” The fireman was adamant, shaking his head. “Ted’s the most experienced one on the team; he’s dealt with countless electrical fires, he’d never touch power sources. That cable. It swung, violently, towards him – a breeze, a shift … I don’t know. It hit him, in the chest. Are you sure he’s dead?” The man struggled to get past Scarlet and reach his companion.
“Positive: I’ve seen death often enough to recognise it.” Scarlet beckoned over a paramedic. “Here, look after this guy; there’s not much you can do for his friend, but be careful when you move him, he was electrocuted.”
Captain Ochre arrived at a run. “What happened?”
“The cable attacked him.”
“What? How did it do that?”
“It reacted as he reached for it and it hit him in the chest. A huge electric pulse went through him.”
“It must’ve been an accident,” Ochre said.
Scarlet turned towards him and looked pointedly at the startled American. “Rick, I was watching. As his hand got close the cable moved; it wasn’t moved by any breeze. It was moved by the Mysterons.”
“Next you’ll be telling me they have powers we can’t hope to understand,” Ochre complained, “But cables don’t move on their own, Paul.”
“This one did. We’ve seen the Mysterons affect inanimate objects, we’ve seen them teleport things out of the way or remove them from a site. I should imagine hitting a man moving towards a live cable is no big deal for them.”
“We can’t let another fireman go up there,” Ochre said, looking to where the fire brigade were holding a meeting, presumably to work out a new strategy.
“We won’t,” Scarlet agreed. “I’ll go.”
“Now wait a minute,” Ochre said. “You’re no more immune to electricity than the rest of us. There’s no reason that it has to be you.”
“Of course there is: I’m the Field Commander,” said Scarlet. “It’s my duty to go.”
“I think we should discuss this with the colonel before any of us goes messing with the national grid,” Ochre said forcefully. “He might just have something to say about you risking your neck.”
Captain Scarlet’s short temper flared up. “Look, Ochre; if we’re all facing the same risk, there’s no reason for me not to go – any more than you or Blue would if you were Field Commander.
“There’s every reason – and you know it!”
“I never asked to be indestructible but I won’t accept that there’s any logical reason why I shouldn’t take the one risk that might actually kill me…”
Blue was walking over from the SPV and he heard this last remark.
Ochre turned and appealed to him. “Tell him, Adam; he wants to go up there and deal with the electricity cables. He could be killed – permanently.”
Blue looked from one stubborn expression to the other and sighed. “He’s the Field Commander.”
“Is that all you can say?” Ochre demanded.
“I work with Scarlet more than you do, Captain, therefore, I recognise pig-headed obstinacy when I see it,” Blue replied with resignation. “Don’t waste your breath.”
Scarlet gave his friend an amused glance and Blue continued, “When you go up there you’ll have to wear the protective gear the firemen have, so you’d better go and talk to them – get fitted out.”
Scarlet nodded and went to interrupt the firemen’s discussions.
“I still say we should speak to the colonel,” Ochre said, angry at his colleagues for ‘ganging up’ on him.
Blue shrugged. “Probably; but whatever the Old Man says, Scarlet will do what he wants and, personally, I’d rather he did it properly equipped and with as many precautions as possible.” He looked at Ochre’s expression which remained sceptical and continued, “We don’t know for certain that Scarlet’s vulnerable to electricity; he’s not a typical Mysteron agent, is he? One of us has to go up there and disconnect the cables somehow: if all three of us had retrometabolism Scarlet would probably get the nod anyway. It’s no reflection on you and me, Rick; it has to be the best man for the job every time. As Paul said, ‘there is too much at stake here’.” He waved an arm towards the congested street where pedestrians and vehicles were still being channelled away from the danger. “We’re not out of the wood yet.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But it rankles.”
“Tell me about it,” Blue commented dryly.
Scarlet took no argument from the Chief Fireman; he was determined to do the job himself. Finally the man agreed that there was no way his officers could accomplish the task without Spectrum’s permission and that he wasn’t going to get it – for reasons best known to the security officers. He led Scarlet to the fire engine and with the help of an officer they found protective gear that would fit well enough to offer Scarlet as much protection as possible.
Blue came over to consult with his friend before Scarlet started on the perilous mission.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Sure; doesn’t every kid always want to be a fireman, but how many actually get the chance?” Scarlet said, with a cheerful grin.
“This isn’t a game, Paul.”
“I do know.” The grin was replaced by a wry smile. “You know, it’s been a long time since I actually felt this nervous about a mission? I always anticipate pain and the rest of it, but there is rarely the uncertainty that I’ll come through it, eventually. But don’t look so worried, Blue-boy, I assure you I’m not taking this lightly.”
“Yeah. One thing, keep the radio link open and remember, Rhapsody’s in the helijet. Try not to scare her witless with more derring-do than is good for you, okay? If you can’t do it the first time, we can reconsider and try again.”
“Yes, sir, Captain Blue, sir,” Scarlet said with exaggerated meekness.
“Oh, can it, Paul; can’t you just accept that we’re all concerned for you and for the success of the mission?”
Scarlet laid his gloved hand on Blue’s arm in sincere apology. “Yeah, I understand. I always do and it is appreciated, but – and you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? – Spectrum officers shouldn’t put the safety of themselves or colleagues before the success of the mission.”
“The words are engraved on my heart,” Blue said sourly. “Get on with it, if you’re going.”
The two men were close friends and knew that however much they might aggravate each other there was a genuine concern and respect between them. Scarlet grinned and Blue returned the salute with one of his dazzling grins.
Scarlet took his time on the turntable ladder; he wanted to feel comfortable and needed to be confident of the range of movement the protective gear allowed him. As he drew close to the top, he could hear a hiss from the cable as it dangled above his head.
“Rotate the turntable to the right,” he ordered over his radio. The mechanism was surprisingly smooth, but he clutched the handrail tightly as his position changed and watched the cable intently. He was sure that it wasn’t just his imagination that it seemed to quiver and respond to his move.
“Keep turning, slowly,” he commanded, watching carefully all the time. “Slowly!” he complained as the turntable swung round suddenly.
“The mechanism isn’t responding,” Ochre warned him over the radio. “They can’t stop it, Scarlet!”
“I told you this wasn’t an accident…” Scarlet replied, and he quickly assessed his situation. “Right – here goes!”
He reached out and grabbed the live cable as the turntable continued to rotate faster. He held on with both hands and stepped off the ladder, trusting it to take his weight. The live end swung below him, but wasn’t long enough to swing up and make contact and so Scarlet began to build a momentum, pushing off against the rapidly rotating ladder as it spun round. Overhead the cable began to unravel, slowly lowering him towards the ground.
“Watch out!” Blue’s voice came clearly over the radio.
Scarlet glanced up to see cables were beginning to fail along the street. The bulbs in the next garland exploded, showering glass everywhere and creating another live cable swinging free and dangerously spitting electricity from the severed end.
As if imbued with a mind of its own it menaced Scarlet, curling up from the street and darting towards him, spitting sparks like tongues of fire.
“Be careful!” Blue shouted.
Scarlet glanced down and saw his friend standing some yards off, looking up at him apparently seeking a way to shield him from the Mysterons’ attack.
“Get away,” Scarlet yelled back, through clenched teeth. “Run, Adam!” Blue did not move. “Run!”
Then Ochre joined him, dragging a pair of unwilling horses harnessed to a barouche landau. “Jump,” Ochre yelled. “Jump into the coach!”
Scarlet was having to watch carefully as there were now three severed cables liable to attack him. “Keep away!” he ordered Ochre, as the horses bucked and plunged, scared by the chaos and confusion around them.
While Ochre was commandeering and then cajoling the horses towards Scarlet, Blue had raced towards the watching firemen and he now returned to the coach with a protective helmet and insulated gloves on his hands. He went to the horses’ heads and stroked them both, before clambering onto the box of the barouche and taking the reins from Ochre.
“NO!” Scarlet yelled, realising what Blue had in mind as he turned the horses and moved away, before turning again and urging them forward at a canter.
“Jump!” Blue and Ochre’s voices came over the radio as well as through the air and the horses, petrified and neighing nervously, raced towards the cables and the man suspended from them.
Scarlet timed it to perfection and let go just as the barouche passed beneath him. The fall knocked the wind out of his lungs and he sustained a severe fracture to several ribs, as well as a minor fracture to his right leg. He swore loudly and continuously for several minutes until Blue managed to bring the horse to a halt, round the corner in Maddox Street.
“What the bloody hell did you think you were doing?” he demanded of his friend, as Blue swivelled round on the box to see how he was.
“Saving your hide,” Blue replied, unperturbed by Scarlet’s anger.
Ochre came up at a run and seeing them both alive and arguing, slowed to a more casual saunter for the final yards.
“What’s the damage?” he asked Scarlet.
“A few broken bones and the pair of you on report when I get back to Cloudbase,” Scarlet grumbled.
“And that’s all the thanks we get?” Ochre said to Blue. “Sometimes I wonder why we bother.”
“And I wonder why it is that whenever you and Blue go on a mission together it results in chaos! Those cables are Mysteronised but they were focused on me; now I expect they’ll be after civilians – so ‘yes, it is all the thanks you’ll get’!” Scarlet raged.
“The police and the army have made sure everyone’s out of the reach of the cables,” Ochre reassured him. “No one’s going to be going anywhere near them for the foreseeable future.”
“They don’t have to go near them,” Scarlet snarled, “the bloody lights are strung up all over the city and we’ve got to stop them!”
There was the noise of distant explosions and the sky lit up with multi-coloured flares as garlands came down along Regent Street. Ochre contacted the Chief Constable and ordered him to get the Royal Party back to Buckingham Palace and to move the children away from the streets, placing them and the rest of the spectators inside the shops and offices that lined the street, where they were safe from the live cables, if necessary. As soon as he was able to, Scarlet hobbled back to Regent Street with Blue and Ochre at his side.
The sight that met their eyes was one of total devastation, all along the curving sweep of the road garlands were down, in some cases bulbs still flickered along the cables as they sparked and jumped with random fluctuations in the power. There was no way any vehicle would be able to go down the road without running the gauntlet of fatal danger.
“I’ll get the SPV and clear a route through,” Blue said. “It should be heavy enough to take even a direct discharge.”
“One or two, maybe,” Ochre agreed, “but I’m not sure even an SPV could survive being hit by every cable along this entire road, Blue, and that’s what’d happen. Besides, shifting them to the side’s only gonna mean that the civilians in the shops are closer to the risky end of the wires. It’ll take hours for them all to be evacuated through staff entrances and got safely out of the area.”
Scarlet nodded. “And even given the SPV’s thick hide, it wouldn’t be safe for the driver.”
“You can’t know that for sure,” argued Blue.
“Neither can you,” Scarlet snapped. “You’re not going; that’s final.”
Blue was fighting to restrain his temper. “But you will?” he demanded curtly.
“No, nobody is driving anything down the street right now.”
“You just going to wait until the Mysterons get cut off for not paying their utility bill?” said Ochre flippantly, but he continued in a far more serious tone: “We have to do something, Scarlet. In case you’ve forgotten, the world and his wife are watching this on a TV broadcast. Spectrum standing around like shop window dummies won’t go down well with the colonel or the World Government.”
“I’m aware of that. Let me think, willya?”
“Rhapsody Angel to the Field Officers: is everyone okay? We saw what happened to Captain Scarlet.”
“I’m fine, Rhapsody,” he assured her.
“Good show. I’ve dropped Magenta off at the main power plant offices. He’s trying to isolate the power grid that’s keeping the cables live.”
“We thought the power was off,” Ochre commented, glancing at Blue, who nodded.
“It was; that is, it should’ve been. Magenta says the technicians believe there’s been sabotage to the computer controls and all the sectors have been rewired so the switches don’t connect to the correct areas. All they have to do is find and isolate the correct part of the grid for this area. At the moment they’re plunging random parts of London into darkness looking for the right switch.”
“How long will that take?” Blue asked with a despairing sigh.
“Less time than they’d expected now that Magenta’s taken charge.” There was a smile in her voice as she replied for they all knew that Patrick Donaghue was one of the most skilled computer experts in the business. She continued:
“The Royals are back in Buck House and The Mall’s in lock-down: there’s a bomb disposal unit taking down the Christmas lights as we speak. The biggest headache for Cloudbase is that the Prime Minister’s demanding a full report from the colonel. She wants to broadcast immediately, so she can reassure everyone the Royal Family’s safe and that the situation’s under control. It is under control, isn’t it?”
“It will be,” Scarlet assured her.
“Uh-huh. What can I do to help?”
“Keep us informed and – if you can – keep the colonel and the PM off our backs,” Scarlet pleaded.
“S.I.G., well, for as long as I can anyway.”
“Thanks, Angel,” Scarlet said, as he cut the radio link.
“What are we going to do?” asked Ochre into the lengthening silence.
Ochre looked at Blue who shrugged and rolled his pale-blue eyes towards the SPV. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Ochre chuckled.
Scarlet glanced at him and sighed. “Okay, I hate to admit it, but you’re right, Blue; I can’t see any other way to begin to deal with the situation. Unless Magenta can shut down the power to the sector, we need to interrupt the power in a more direct way. I suggest using the SPV tow rope and pulling each support column down. That should break any residual power couplings.”
“Yeah, I agree, it should.”
“One small point,” said Ochre, “How are you going to get the rope round the support column without dancing an electric fandango with the cables?”
“Teamwork,” said Scarlet. “One of you will drive and the other will attach the tow rope, while I distract the cables…”
“No way,” Blue cried. “You’re already hurt, Scarlet, you can’t risk it. Let me handle the cables, while you and Ochre do the tow rope.”
Scarlet smiled and placed a consoling hand on his anxious friend’s shoulder. “No; it’s my job, Adam. I need you and Rick to hitch the tow rope and topple the support columns, so that we can be sure the civilians are safe. Leave the rest to me.”
Ochre didn’t bother to question Blue’s terse ‘you drive’; he knew that if Scarlet was in trouble, his compatriot would want to go to the rescue, whatever Spectrum’s regulations said. He nodded and made his way to the SPV, wishing he could have more confidence in the scheme than he did. Once inside, he contacted Magenta and urged his friend to do everything he could to expedite matters at the power station – there wasn’t much else he felt he could do.
Blue acquired some of the Fire Brigade’s insulated gloves and pulled one of their padded helmets over his Spectrum cap, which was the best he could do as he would need to maintain radio contact. As he walked back towards Captain Scarlet he pulled the gloves on and tried to remain focussed and calm.
“Ochre’s ready,” Scarlet informed him as he drew close, “and I’ve got the tow rope out and attached it. The SPV should pull the supports down with ease. Hopefully we can get this done before the PM’s broadcast deadline, so that the colonel can pass on the good news for her to report.”
“You be careful,” Blue said, rather surprised that his voice sounded so composed – he certainly wasn’t feeling that way.
Scarlet nodded and licked his lips thoughtfully before saying, “If anything goes wrong – and it’s a big if – but if it does, tell Dianne…” he hesitated. “Tell her…”
“She knows, but I’ll tell her anyway,” Blue assured him. “Besides, nothing’s going to go wrong.”
“No, of course it isn’t.” Scarlet grinned. “Off we go then, Blue-boy!”
He moved away as Blue picked up the tow rope and edged towards the nearest support column.
For a moment Scarlet was at a loss how to ‘distract’ a supposedly inanimate object: you couldn’t just shout ‘Hi’ and wave your arms about at it – or could you? He considered that perhaps the Mysteronised cables were ‘programmed’ to attack movement; after all, movement sensors were commonplace these days.
He approached the original cable and skirted around it at a safe distance. He had some of the insulated gloves that the Fire Brigade had provided and he decided to try and grab the cable, keeping clear of the lethal ‘business end’ and hold on tight while Blue and Ochre pulled the support column down.
He opened the communication channel on his radio cap and outlined his plan to them.
“S.I.G.,” Blue replied. He had moved onto the pavement behind the support and signalled that he was ready to attach the thick tow rope.
“On my mark: three, two, one!” Scarlet sprang towards the cable and grabbed it low down, behind the exposed live wiring. The cable jerked and writhed in his hands, twisting and undulating wildly as it tried to make contact with his body. He was surprised at just how powerful it was and realised that it wasn’t going to be easy holding on for long.
“Go, go, go!” he shouted.
Scarlet heard the SPV engines rev with some relief and, moments later, there was a grinding noise as the support column gave way and then a loud metallic crash as it hit the floor. The SPV dragged the column away across the road so there was no chance of any reconnection, and Blue ran after it.
“Tow rope disconnected,” he reported, stepping away from the support column.
Scarlet dropped the inert cable and stepped away. “Cable neutralised,” he reported back with satisfaction.
In the distance there was the sound of ironic cheering and some scattered applause. He glanced to where the firemen and the police officers were watching the Spectrum officers and for a moment resented that they could never be told why Spectrum was insisting on what obviously seemed to them an unnecessarily elaborate resolution to the problem. But the Mysterons were not the sort of news you wanted to broadcast too widely and even trusted organisations and valued partners in protecting the public knew little enough about them.
He gave his audience a sweeping bow, in acknowledgement of their mocking appreciation, and had the satisfaction of hearing a few guffaws of laughter. Maybe that’ll win them over? he thought hopefully.
Blue had moved to the next support column and was signalling his readiness.
“On my mark: three, two, one!” Scarlet chanted, leaping towards the second exposed cable, but this time he wasn’t as successful. It almost seemed as if the cable was expecting him and as he approached it reared up, spitting sparks and waving back and forth as it fending him off. He leapt back and moved round to the side, but the cable followed him.
But even this caused enough of a distraction for Blue to act and the SPV revved up and shortly after the support came down to be dragged away across the road and left next to the other fallen support. The cable fell heavily and lay inactive in the dust.
“The plan seems to be working okay,” Scarlet remarked. “Often the simplest solutions are the best with the Mysterons, as we’ve found before.”
“What’s happening? That thing looked alive.”
“Just motion sensors, I think,” Scarlet replied, “but they’re definitely dangerous, nevertheless.” He glanced down the street at the pairs of cables, some of which were still strung across the road and all of which were still alight. “This could take longer than we thought…”
“Let’s get a move on then.”
Scarlet went towards the next hanging cable, but as he did so there was an explosion above him. He looked up to see the next garland, which was still clinging on to its support columns on either side of the road, droop dangerously low. Then bulbs started to explode, one after another like the report of a rifle and shards of glass ricocheted around him. Instinctively he put his arms up to shield his face, looked away and moved to one side, glad of the protection offered by the firemen’s equipment.
“Scarlet, watch out. Don’t move!” Blue’s urgent warning made him stand still and risk raising his head so he could see the danger.
The garland had come down from its support on the other side of the road from where Blue was working and was lying perilously close to his feet. The live wires were sparking against the road surface and if he’d taken another step away from the exploding bulbs he’d have trodden on it. He glanced around looking to see how he might escape from his predicament. On one side, there were the inert cables Blue had already dealt with, and then on either side of him the live cables. He made a slow movement back towards the collapsed columns and immediately the garland over the waiting SPV snapped and fell, shattering glass bulbs as it went. It slid over the armoured vehicle and bounced off the bumper, with the live cables coming to rest on the fallen metal columns. The result was that they became electrified, forming a barrier across the road.
“I don’t think that was a coincidence,” said Scarlet.
“You’re right, something or someone is orchestrating this,” Blue agreed. “I wonder if Captain Black is around; there have been no reports, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t here.”
“We can’t start looking for him,” Scarlet replied. “One job at a time, Blue.”
“True, but the Ground Forces can keep their eyes peeled. I’ll alert Cloudbase.”
Something made Scarlet take off one insulated glove and lob it towards the metal columns. It didn’t hit the support, but disintegrated in the air as it flew above the metal barrier.
“A force field?” Scarlet’s surprise was obvious. “I wonder how high it reaches.” He moved a step closer.
“Don’t even try it,” Blue warned.
Scarlet hesitated and glanced around, realising he was trapped. “If I can’t risk stepping over the columns, I’m going to have to run the gauntlet then, aren’t I? Down between the live cables until I can get off the road,” he said.
“Wait,” Blue suggested, “Magenta might be ready to kill the power to this area.”
“Look, Adam, these are Mysteronised; even if Magenta cuts the remaining power what makes you think they’ll be affected?”
“I have to believe they will be,” Blue replied.
“I could blow all the supports to Kingdom Come,” Ochre suggested, bringing the SPV’s cannon to bear on the nearest upright column. “I reckon I could shoot them down like ninepins…”
“No!” Scarlet and Blue cried in unison and Blue went on to explain, “It’s too powerful; the missile could hit the buildings and there’re still civilians in there.”
He picked up a handbag someone had dropped in the confusion and lobbed it high in the air, towards Scarlet, only to see it disintegrate in the electrical field that now seemed to reach up to the level of the remaining garlands and maybe beyond that.
“That has to be the work of the Mysterons,” Ochre said.
Blue threw one of his insulated gloves at the same height but to the other side of where Scarlet was standing. That too disappeared in a flash of electrical fire. “Not only that, but it’s spreading, between the garlands that are still in place, and those that have come down already. It’ll make an electrical prison. There’ll be no way out, Paul.”
“Then I have no choice; I have to make my way down to Piccadilly Circus. If I stay on the pedestrian walkway in the middle I should be safe,” Scarlet said and he began to move slowly.
Around him the air shimmered and sparked with blue electrical sparks. Occasionally one would arc across the road and earth itself in the buildings on the other side. One sparked down like a lightning bolt to the pavement where he was walking and Scarlet leapt aside and raced forward, to avoid the danger.
Another bolt struck in front of him and he was hemmed in by the pulsating light and the exploding bulbs overhead. There was nothing his colleagues could do as the electrical tide flowed in around him.
“Paul!” Blue shouted despairingly.
Scarlet turned towards him, and raised a hand in what might have been a gesture of farewell.
“Rhapsody Angel to Captain Scarlet: I’m coming to get you.”
“No, stay away; it’s too dangerous, Dianne. Please, my love, stay away!” Scarlet cried, staring up into the dark sky where he could hear the approaching thrum of the helijet.
“I’m overhead, and I’m switching on the spotlight, so mind your eyes. I’m lowering the escape ladder… catch it, Paul! Reach for it! I daren’t come much lower…”
The helijet hovered over the centre of the road, where Scarlet was marooned on the central walkway. The insubstantial rope ladder was buffeted by the downdraft as it dropped groundwards.
Scarlet reached up, stretching on tiptoe to catch the lowest rung as it swung above him. His fingers brushed the rung several times, but he couldn’t catch it.
“Dianne, it’s no use - get away before the electric wall reaches as high as the helijet. Please, darling, get away!” he shouted over his radio.
“One more try. I am dropping another few feet. Catch it, Paul, catch it!”
The helijet dropped lower and the ladder swung into reach. Scarlet grabbed it and hung on for dear life as, sobbing with relief, Rhapsody Angel threw the helijet into a vertical ascent. He began to climb towards the body of the helijet and although the swaying ladder made it difficult he managed to progress a few rungs closer before he wound the ropes around his arms and hooked his knees into the lower rungs for stability.
As the chopper rose into the dark sky, the electrical field sparked violently, and a flare rose up and struck the rope ladder. The whole ladder was shot through with an electrical pulse and Scarlet screamed with pain. He lost consciousness and hung on the ladder. In the cockpit, Rhapsody saw all the control panels short out, but to her relief the engines and the rotors kept going: Spectrum’s helijets were built to withstand more than one strike.
She urged the chopper to keep rising and once they were as high as the buildings, she turned west and flew over the roofs. Once she was clear of Regent Street, she flew to the nearest open space – Hanover Square - where she set the auto pilot to ‘hover’ and having discovered that the motor winch was out of commission, crawled to the rear of the cabin to pull in the emergency ladder by hand. Her hands were bleeding and she was sobbing in pain and dismay long before she was able to touch Scarlet’s apparently lifeless hand. She grabbed both of his hands and hauled up his dead weight with the last of her strength and determination.
Gasping for breath and cradling her aching hands to her chest, she gradually realised the auto-pilot was issuing proximity warnings, so she left Paul lying on the floor and crawled back to the pilot’s seat. The chopper was flying so low it was almost at the height of the trees and gritting her teeth against the pain, she took hold of the controls and edged down into the park, landing amidst the trees and the park benches in what she later considered to be her luckiest manoeuvre.
Almost as soon as she touched down she saw Blue and Ochre running towards her across the square: they had followed her trajectory and were rushing to offer whatever help they could.
“How’s Paul?” were Blue’s first words as he pulled open the hatchway.
“I think he’s dead,” Rhapsody wailed. “It was all for nothing! The electricity struck the ladder, the control panel blacked out and he’s dead!”
Ochre went and put his arms around her as Blue knelt beside Scarlet’s body. He placed the tips of his cold fingers against the still warm neck and pressed. For a long moment he felt nothing and then as his fingers warmed up, he was sure he felt the merest flutter of a pulse.
He looked up at the tear-stained Angel and smiled. “I’m sure reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. Doctor Fawn will be able to confirm that once again Captain Scarlet has proven he is truly indestructible.”
“Thank God,” Ochre gasped, grinning at Blue in sheer relief.
Both men exchanged bewildered glances when Rhapsody burst into a fresh bout of weeping and this time she pushed Ochre’s comforting arm away.
“I’ll kill him,” she raged. “The stupid man! How dare he scare me like this?”
“Come on, Dianne; he wasn’t doing any of it on purpose,” Ochre said with gentle yet impeccable logic. But Rhapsody wasn’t to be placated and she continued to berate the senseless Scarlet, even as she crawled to his side and laid her cheek against his where it lay cushioned on Blue’s chest.
“I’ll call for a medijet to pick him up, shall I?” Blue asked gently. “I think you should go with him,” he added, explaining before she could turn her anger on him, “Your hands will need attention, Rhapsody.” She looked down at her bleeding hands as if in surprise and nodded.
Blue smiled and said, “Your quick thinking saved his life, Angel. Well done.”
She looked up at him and seeing the genuine regard for her in his expression, blushed and gave a shaky smile as her tears started to flow once more. This time she did not reject the comforting arm Blue moved to encircle her and even accepted with gratitude the large, white cotton handkerchief he offered.
Ochre looked at the trio opposite him: Blue had his hands full with Scarlet and Rhapsody, so he opened a communication channel and reported back to Cloudbase.
Lieutenant Green sounded relieved to hear from them and he was able to report that Captain Magenta had now managed to isolate the correct switch and close down all power to Regent Street. The whole street was in darkness and the Fire Brigade was reporting that none of the cables were still live. The police were quickly evacuating all civilians and no children had been seriously hurt.
“It’ll take some time to clear everything away, but they’ve called in the army and bomb disposal units and all sorts. The Prime Minister’s made her broadcast and she even thanked Spectrum for our prompt action. She extended her best wishes to the ‘brave men who tackled the situation’ and there is muttering of medals all round,” Green explained. “The colonel’s what you might call ‘chuffed’…”
“You might call him that, or Scarlet or even Blue,” Ochre replied, “but I definitely can’t comment as I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, Lieutenant…”
Green sighed. “The Medijet will arrive in approximately seven minutes,” he reported and closed the comm link.
Doctor Fawn patched up Captain Scarlet in time for the birthday party that traditionally started the Christmas Festivities on Cloudbase to proceed with its guest of honour in attendance.
Rhapsody Angel’s hands were wrapped in protective bandages but Fawn had given her permission to go to the party, believing that would be the best cure for her shock and distress. Everyone was being very solicitous and bringing her drinks and tasty titbits from the buffet and as she sat next to Scarlet surrounded by her friends, it was almost possible to witness the progress of her recovery in her face.
Recovering from a fractured leg and a couple of broken ribs, dancing had been ruled out for Captain Scarlet. Not that this was one of Fawn’s restrictions he felt aggrieved enough to challenge. So, as the other party-goers revolved on the crowded dance floor to a slow and romantic tune, he leant across and whispered to his fiancée:
“I’m at your service when bedtime comes, Di; after all, someone has got to undo all those zips and buttons and hooks and straps…”
She turned and smiled at him, gazing into his deep blue eyes and rejoicing in the love and desire she saw reflected in them.
“You’re supposed to be recovering yourself,” she reminded him. “I doubt Fawn would approve of too much exertion.”
Scarlet grinned. “If you can wait another hour or so before you leave the party, I think you’ll find that my retrometabolism will have dealt with any physical imperfections…”
Dianne chuckled. “Well, that is the one thing I can thank the Mysterons for,” she said, adding as she leant across to place a kiss on his lips, as a foretaste of things to come. “Happy Birthday, darling.”
As Captain Ochre says with regard to traditions: “Show me something in ‘Ye Olde Ingerland’ that ain’t.” Well, it sort of is a tradition that there’s a story for Captain Scarlet’s birthday – so I wrote another one. I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks to Hazel Köhler for beta-reading services above and beyond the call of –even- friendship. Any mistakes are mine (and, yes; I did mean ‘God Save the King’) Thanks also to Chris Bishop, for her wonderful website and her devotion to the cause of the Man in Red (not Santa, this time!)
Captain Scarlet, all of his friends and the Mysterons, were the brainchildren of some pioneering programme makers in the 1960s and they have been entertaining children of all ages, ever since. So, I offer my thanks to them, as well, for all the pleasure their creative endeavours have given me.
This story comes with my love and best wishes to all of the ‘Scarletinis’ around the World, for their friendship and the fun we have together.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone!
11 December 2014