A “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” story for Christmas
By Polly Amber
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house...'
Colonel White recalled the poem which had been a childhood favourite of his. More years ago than he cared to remember, his mother would recite this to him on Christmas Eve. He was then plain Charles Gray, an excited six year old and Christmas was special to him. Now it was to be just another working day. Stationed some forty thousand feet above ground level, in Spectrum's top security Cloudbase, Colonel White knew he would not see his house until January. He lived alone. His elderly father was spending Christmas with friends. In the New Year he had arranged a furlough to take his father to a warmer climate. The wet January weather aggravated his bronchitis. Colonel White did not particularly mind missing Christmas. He was a fifty-two year old widower with no children of his own, and he was happy to stay where he was needed the most - in the front line of Earth's defences against attacks by the Mysterons.
He stood in front of the large picture window beside his desk. The blinds depicting the Spectrum logo had been drawn back to make the most of the fading late December light. The six hundred and thirty foot long Cloudbase landing strip was bathed in a rosy peach glow, the last rays of the setting sun. It was late afternoon on Christmas Eve. From the control room on Spectrum's Cloudbase, he gazed toward the Earth. At this time of year, England's capital would be ablaze with a myriad of twinkling lights. He thought of the people beneath him, scurrying like ants, going about their lives oblivious to the threat hanging over them. Their priorities were the shopping for those frivolous, last-minute Christmas presents. Their worries centered around whether the turkey would be defrosted in time for tomorrow's lunch, or where they would put up all the in-laws who were coming to stay. The possibility that their lives could be extinguished at any moment, by an extra-terrestrial attack would never have entered their minds.
Terrorist attacks have always been anticipated in the run up to the festive season, and people knew they had to be more vigilant. The discarded Christmas package could be a booby trap. A suicide bomber could wreak devastation in a crowded shopping mall. The young Charles Gray had been brought up with all of those possibilities, but yet life carried on as normal.
The Spectrum organisation had been set up by the World President to form an anti-terrorist and task force organisation. It was decided that the sky would be the best place to position a giant hovering base, powered by solar panels and atomic turbines – thus permitting it to move freely above Earth, and situate itself at the best strategic location in any given emergency, to counter any terrorist threat on any part of the World.
But Spectrum’s mandate changed soon after its formation. And the threats they were now facing didn’t come exactly from Earth.
Conrad Turner, codenamed Captain Black, was once a close friend of Colonel White. He had been chosen to command an exploratory mission to Mars, sent to investigate radio signals of unknown force. The rest as they say is history. The mission went horribly wrong. The Spectrum officers were killed. Captain Black was cloned and returned to Earth to act as a spy. His defensive actions when he believed he was under attack, gave the aliens just the excuse they needed to wage war on Earth.
When details emerged of the ill-fated Mars mission lead by Captain Black, it was decided that what the general public didn't know wouldn't hurt them. Spectrum had long ago realised that a hostile alien force was monitoring the Earth.
Colonel White, regarded the view from the stratosphere. He stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He looked much older than his fifty two years. Beneath a shock of snowy white hair his brows were knitted together in a troubled frown.
'Not a creature was stirring...'
"And I hope it stays that way,' he remarked aloud to himself.
"I'm sorry Sir, did you say something to me? I didn't quite catch you." It was the lilting Caribbean voice of Lieutenant Green. Colonel White had been so absorbed in his thoughts, that he had not heard him enter the room. He stood hesitantly in front of the Colonel's desk.
"I was just thinking aloud," muttered the Colonel.
Lieutenant Green stiffened, "Sir.." he began, "About tomorrow... Christmas day..."
"Yes Lieutenant Green?"
"I was wondering..."
"I dare say you were wondering if you could take some time off tomorrow."
"Well yes. It all seems quiet here at the moment. I would especially like to join my family for Christmas lunch and I did work last Christmas." Lieutenant Green shuffled nervously; there he had come right out and said it. Colonel White was a good-hearted man, but a man of many moods. Get him in a good one and he was as jovial as any Santa Claus, but catch him at a bad time and he could be Scrooge. He could be generous one day, but could chew you up and spit you out the next.
Lieutenant Green scanned the Colonel's stony face for any tell tale signs; he was half anticipating a dressing down. The Colonel however, had a soft spot for this young West Indian man, who when orphaned at the age of twelve, was left to help bring up eight younger siblings. He had emerged from an underprivileged background to become a respected communications expert in Spectrum's upper echelons.
"Well if we get through tonight without any event, I will allow you to fly home to join your family for lunch and the rest of the afternoon."
Lieutenant Green's face cracked into a broad beaming smile, showing his perfect white teeth. "Thank you Sir."
"But you will have to stay on alert. At the slightest hint of trouble you will be recalled. It's been too quiet for my liking. The Mysterons are planning something and they probably know that tomorrow is a significant day for us... We must be on our guard."
"Yes Sir and thank you again Sir." Lieutenant Green took up his position in front of his computer screen. Colonel White was often grateful for his aide's relaxed demeanour and naturally sunny disposition, and he was secretly envious of his close-knit family life.
In the leisure room, Captains Scarlet, Blue and Magenta were resigned to spending another Christmas on Cloudbase. Rhapsody and Symphony, two of the Angels - the codename given to Spectrum's all female team of fighter pilots – were making an effort to bring some festive cheer to the area. They used their feminine powers of persuasion to enlist the help of the three Captains who sat around making derisive comments.
"No matter where I am," announced Symphony, "it's just not Christmas without a tree. I just don't want to feel I'm missing out."
"Just think of what we're missing up here," said Blue as he wrapped a garland of tinsel around a jaded artificial tree. "No shopping crowds... No Christmas cards on sale in September..."
"No Cliff Richard songs... No bloody carol singers…" continued Scarlet.
"No endless re-runs of old movies..." added Magenta.
"Aw I kinda like old movies," drawled Captain Blue, Bostonian Adam Svenson. "There. That's my contribution to the festive season." He placed a silver star on top of the wobbly-looking tree.
"And very pretty 'tis too," interjected Magenta with a hint of sarcasm.
"Tacky," said Scarlet dismissively in his clipped upper class English accent.
"Bah humbug!" chided Rhapsody Angel Diane Simms, who secretly had a soft spot for the dark handsome Captain.
"All that remains now is for peace on Earth and goodwill to all men," said Symphony.
"That's going to prove a rather tall order with the Mysteron threat hanging over us," replied Scarlet.
"Yes they've been too quiet just lately. The boogas are up t'som'tin t' be sure!" Pat Donohue alias Magenta, heavily accentuated his Irish accent to the amusement of his colleagues.
"Do they know it's Christmas? Would they be all the more likely to make a move if they did?" asked Symphony.
"It's probably all part of their plan Karen," replied Blue. "Another of those psychological games they play with us. Lull us into a false sense of security and then crawl back out of the woodwork."
Having trimmed the tree the two Angels turned their attentions to unravelling a tangled garland of tinsel. Captain Magenta walked over to the coffee machine and filled a plastic cup with the strong aromatic brew.
"But why tell us what they are going to do before they actually do it? If they really meant to destroy life on Earth, they could have done so before now. Obviously they are a more evolved species than us..."
"That doesn't make them better," said Scarlet. "And make that black with one sugar for me please."
"Same here," said Blue.
Magenta set the hot cups down on a nearby table.
"Just what's in it for them? They have kept this war of nerves going for over a year now, but we've heard nothing from them for nearly three months. I kind of hoped they had got bored with us."
"That is precisely what they want us to think."
"Well I'm getting mighty p'd off just sitting here waiting for their next game of cat and mouse. At least with an all out war there would be an end to it," said Magenta, and then he added, "One way or another."
"It's the one way or another bit that bothers me," muttered Scarlet, lifting the cup to his lips. "Bloody hell! This coffee's scalding hot!" he fingered his lip where a large blister had formed, by the time he had replaced the coffee cup back on the table the blister had healed over to form a scab.
"Do you think that they could have once had a visible form, Paul?" Magenta addressed this question to Captain Scarlet, using his real name of Paul Metcalfe.
"Why are you asking me?" he replied stiffly.
"You seem to know the most about them."
"I was killed by them. Is that what you mean?" Magenta looked uncomfortable.
"It's quite alright. I've had plenty of time to come to terms with what happened to me. The Mysterons may have reconstructed my body, but they didn't get my soul. That was their first mistake. I wasn't as dead as they thought I was. When they reconstructed me they unwittingly duplicated the thread of life I was clinging to. When I fell from the Car-Vu the Mysterons had no further need for me. If they are capable of mistakes, they are fallible. I have my own theory regarding the Mysterons. They may well have had bodies, perhaps not unlike our own. They might have evolved too quickly, and as their brains evolved their bodies may have become superfluous. Whatever destroyed their bodies did not destroy that intelligence. Somehow it could have been artificially enhanced and then replicated over the years. Maybe that intelligence can reproduce anything from an atom to a whole city."
"But why the cat and mouse games? What do they gain from all that?"
"It satisfies their curiosity. Our species possesses the one thing I think they will never understand - emotion. They must not understand why we laugh when we are happy or cry when we lose a loved one. They may have once had those skills at some stage and then lost them in their evolution. Maybe they are trying to learn about us just as we are learning about them. They must get some kind of warped pleasure from watching us chase around solving their cryptic puzzles. We are like chess pieces on a board. Some games we win and some we lose."
"Yeah but when we lose people usually die," cut in Blue.
"Do you think they will ultimately kill us all when they have had their fun? Our defences are pretty useless against such a highly evolved race."
"There is always an Achilles’ heel," replied Scarlet. "The more we learn about them the stronger we become."
"Paul. What does it feel like? You know, when you die?" asked Magenta.
"I don't really know. I still feel pain momentarily." He raised his hand to scratch at the scab on his lip." But if I am gravely injured it's just like going to sleep - and thankfully I stay that way until I recover." He involuntarily scratched at his lip again. The dried scab fell off leaving perfectly healed pink skin underneath.
"Er Paul..." began Magenta pointing to the cup that Scarlet was about to drink out of. "That scab over your burnt lip…"
"What about it? It should have healed by now."
"It's just fallen off into your coffee."
Scarlet gave a look of distaste as he put the cup down on the table. But that had nothing to do with the contents of the coffee cup. Scarlet could feel a prickling sensation in his scalp followed by a dull ache in his temple. His discomfort was noticed by Blue.
"What is it, Paul?"
"Listen. Do you hear what I hear?"
Blue cocked his head to one side. "No." He could not hear the mumblings that Scarlet's hypersensitive ears were picking up.
Scarlet raised his arm to his throbbing temple. "I'm picking something up."
There came the sound of static interference over the public address system.
"Is it them?" asked Blue. Scarlet nodded. A sinister seemingly artificially created voice boomed out from the speakers above them, sending a shiver down Scarlet's spine.
'This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know you can hear us Earthmen. We will strike at the home of a festive legend. We wish you a very black Christmas.'
At once the epaulets on the shoulders of the three Spectrum captains began to flash. Colonel White had summoned them to a meeting.
"A festive legend," said Colonel White, as they were seated around the circular table in the Spectrum Headquarters Command Centre. The three Captains were now joined by Captains Grey and Ochre, Americans Richard Fraser and Bradley Holden.
"That's obvious. The Mysterons intend to kidnap Santa Claus," laughed Ochre.
Colonel White's face remained set. "I know it sounds absurd, but this is no joking matter. The Mysterons are not known for their sense of humour."
"If my sixth sense had not picked up their presence, I would thought someone was playing a joke on us," admitted Scarlet.
Colonel White looked mildly irritated. "The Mysterons are no laughing matter Captain. Whenever they make a threat they see it through. No matter how ridiculous it sounds to us."
"So assuming this isn't their idea of a joke, what could they do?" asked Grey.
"Targeting Christmas shoppers has been done by terrorists throughout the years," said Magenta.
"So what else could they use as their target? Christmas is about the Nativity. Could Bethlehem be their target?” suggested Blue.
"It's a possibility. That area has always had its own fair share of troubles over the years," answered Colonel White.
"The Mysterons said a legend. I don't want to get into a debate about religious beliefs here, but I was brought up a strict catholic. The birth of Christ and the Nativity were alleged to have really happened," said Magenta. "I really do think the threat is against Santa Claus."
"I will send Captains Lovat and Sienna to Bethlehem to keep watch, just in case," said Colonel White
"l agree with Magenta. I can't see how a festive legend can be anyone else but Santa Claus," said Ochre.
" Wait, the Mysterons said the home of a festive legend. Where does Santa Claus live?" asked Blue.
"Lapland of course! What kind of childhood did you have?" retorted Scarlet.
"Different countries have their own ideas about who Santa Claus is and where he comes from," explained Grey. " When I lived In Australia, I was told Santa arrives on a sleigh pulled by six white boomers."
"And what pray are boomers ?" asked Scarlet.
"Kangaroos. You don't get them in Lapland," replied Grey.
"My mother always told me that Father Christmas lived at the North Pole. That's where I used to send my letters anyway," said Magenta.
Colonel White managed a wry smile, he had done the same thing himself as a child.
"Sir!" cried Scarlet suddenly. "The polar ice caps! What would happen if the North Pole was destroyed?"
Colonel White's face grew animated. "It would depend on how it was destroyed. If it was suddenly thawed there could be a massive tidal wave. Half of Europe would be submerged as a result."
"That's it then," said Scarlet jumping to his feet. "That's where we must go. That's just the sort of havoc the Mysterons would like to wreak."
"You could well be right Captain Scarlet. Lieutenant Green I would like you to inform the World President immediately. Tell him we have reasons to believe the Mysterons intend to destroy the North Pole."
"But how will they manage to do it? What will they use?" asked Blue.
"That's for us to find out," said Scarlet stroking his chin pensively.
While Blue and Scarlet were studying a map of the Arctic circle, Colonel White relayed further instructions to Lieutenant Green, "All Christmas leave is cancelled. Put Destiny and Rhapsody Angels on red alert. "
"S.I.G. sir," said Green dejectedly.
"Captains Blue and Scarlet, you will take one of the Spectrum helicopters and go to the North Pole with Destiny Angel escorting. Grey and Ochre will go with Rhapsody to Lapland.
"Guess I'd better go pack my thermals," said Grey.
It was a silent night for the crew of the U.S. nuclear submarine, The Orca. Some were reclining on their bunks listening to Christmas carols, others were reading messages from the loved ones they would not see until after Christmas. Their submarine had surfaced through the ice packed sea of the Polar Circle. A lone watchman stood under a canopy of stars and scanned the horizon with his binoculars. Everywhere was still and quiet, save for the creaking of the ice as it started to freeze around them. Giant Ice bergs glittered in this ethereal winter wonderland.
The night watchman let the binoculars dangle around his neck, while he blew into his hands and rubbed them together to keep the blood circulating to his numb fingertips. He thought he saw something black slide into the sea. A seal or a young whale maybe. He took hold of the binoculars again and raised them to his red rimmed eyes. No it was too small for a whale. Must be a seal. The night watchman put his binoculars down to wipe a droplet that was threatening to freeze on the end of his nose. He did not notice a silent, black clad figure haul himself out of the water and steal silently onto the submarine. He did not hear the man creep up behind him. Suddenly he felt a strong arm grip him around the neck. He did not even have time to struggle, he gave a muffled cry before toppling into the freezing black waters. He died instantly in temperatures of minus 25 degrees. As he floated face down a pair of circular green lights engulfed his body. Seconds later his Mysteron replica stood gazing out to sea, watching through the same pair of binoculars. The stranger beside him looked on approvingly. In the full moon's light his face bore an unhealthy pallor, reminiscent of a corpse dug up from the grave.
"You know what you have to do." he said in a robotic voice devoid of all humanity.
"Yes." answered the night watchman mechanically. "I know what I must do."
Destiny Angel, Juliette Pontoin, sat in the cockpit of her rapier slim interceptor. A voice came over the intercom, "Angel One you are clear for take off."
"S.I.G." she replied in a soft Parisian accent. She wore a snow white flying suit trimmed with a fur hood. Beside her in the bue/grey helicopter waiting on the Cloudbase landing strip, were Captains Scarlet and Blue. They were attired in lightweight thermal clothing befitting the Arctic weather they were flying to.
"How do you suppose they are going to carry out this threat?" mused Blue, "What could they use to thaw the North Pole?
"Some kind of laser beam from outer space perhaps." suggested Scarlet as he waited to be cleared for take off.
"What use would we be against that kind of attack?" asked Blue.
Destiny Angel, who was to remain in constant radio contact, answered him. "Melody and Harmony are monitoring the edge of Space. They are in constant contact with the Lunarville station. We have someone in striking distance if they chose to deploy any weapons from a Space craft."
"Hmm. That's not their way," said Scarlet, taking the controls of the helicopter. "There would be no sport in that. "
Minutes after take off the Spectrum Angels interceptor flew into bad weather. Thankfully not a raging gale but a swirling snowstorm. Large flakes of snow had joined together, limiting visibility. Destiny had to drop her speed. She mentioned how pretty it all looked as she radioed Cloudbase to report her position.
"I am flying over Iceland now. Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet are some way behind me. I think the helicopter is having more problems coping with the snow. The snow clouds are moving south so you may get a 'White Christmas' on Cloudbase after all."
"S.I.G. Destiny," returned Lieutenant. Green, "I'm afraid I can't get excited by the snow though. My ideal Christmas is a barbeque on a warm, sunny Caribbean beach, singing calypsos surrounded by my family. Sadly it's not to be." He sighed wistfully.
The submarine Captain smiled at the night watchman as he descended the ladder into the weapons chamber. He handed him a tot of brandy to warm him up. He assumed that the man had just changed shifts.
"Is it still all quiet out there? I saw three ships on the horizon earlier this afternoon, but they obviously didn't come too close to us."
The night watchman did not answer, he looked as if he had not even heard. The brandy glass in the Captain's outstretched hand crashed to the floor, as he sustained a fatal blow to his right temple. He lay motionless on the floor. Captain Black stepped impassively over the body. "Good. Now we have work to do."
Lieutenant Green sat at his console monitoring messages from around the world. He had relayed details of the Mysteron's latest threat to the World President and all the World Defence Organisations. A flashing red light on his console alerted him to the fact that a high priority call was coming through. He put it straight through to Colonel White's hot line. It was from the Marine Defence Core's Submarine Section.
"And when was this..." Lieutenant Green strained his ears to catch snippets of his superior's conversation. " You say they were on manoeuvres in the Arctic Ocean...? and when were they supposed to have radioed in ... ? I see... I have two of my best men approaching the area. I will alert them immediately. Thank you for your information, Commodore. "He addressed Green: "A significant development, Lieutenant Green. That was Commodore Harris. He reports that one of his nuclear submarines has broken radio contact and has veered off course. It is heading for the North Pole. It has armed nuclear warheads which can be primed and deployed within minutes. There is enough firepower there to melt the Polar ice cap completely. Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue must locate that sub. I am sure that the Mysterons intend to use it to destroy the North Pole"
Captains Blue and Scarlet were flying over the coast of Greenland when Colonel White's message came through. They had passed through the worst of the snowstorm, and were trying to make up their lost time. Destiny, whose interceptor jet could travel five times faster than the speed of sound, had already reached the North Pole . Captain Scarlet put a call through to her."
"Destiny. Are you airborne?"
"Oui, Captain Scarlet."
"I want you to deploy the thermal image locater. I want you to search for a US Submarine, the Orca. It may be hiding underneath the ice. Pinpoint its position but do not make any contact. I need to get aboard that sub without being seen."
"What do you intend to do, Paul?" asked Blue.
"I'm going to try to get on board and disable the nuclear warhead."
"In freezing waters?"
"I intend to be well prepared for that. I'm going to change into a thermally heated body suit. I'll take diving equipment, and the laser cutters to deal with any pack ice. If a seal can slip through a hole in the ice, so can I."
"I suppose it's no use me telling you to be careful"
"None whatsoever!" replied Scarlet arrogantly.
Destiny made another sweep over the frozen ocean. She smiled as a colony of penguins tilted their heads back to watch her. She had visions of them all falling over backwards like a line of dominos. Suddenly a faint image appeared on the MRI screen.
"I think I've found it." she called to Scarlet and Blue. " Coordinates 2460 by 4075. It is bearing East. Heading towards the North Pole."
"Thank you Destiny. Keep tracking it. We should be with you in fifteen minutes."
When Blue drew nearer to their destination, he switched on the helicopters MRI screen. When he was directly over the image of the submarine he switched to hover mode.
"All set?" he called to Scarlet.
"S.I.G." his colleague answered from the hold. A trapdoor beneath him opened and Scarlet activated the winching mechanism to deposit him onto the frozen sea. His feet landed on firm ice. He wobbled slightly as he tried to stand up. He then detached his harness which was automatically winched back up in to the helicopter.
Scarlet told Blue to standby and await further instructions, before employing the laser to cut a circular hole through a section of the ice, just wide enough to squeeze his body through. A circular plug of ice bobbed free. Scarlet put on his underwater breathing apparatus and eased himself into the bitingly cold waters. He dived beneath the iceberg and kicked out his legs to gain maximum speed. When he reached the submarine, he knew he would have to find a way in without being detected. He felt for the pistol strapped in a waterproof holster around his waist. It might not be enough to actually kill a Mysteron clone for good, but at least it would stop one in its tracks for a while, and buy him valuable time. In his experiences with the Mysterons, he had learned that once their 'clones' had been discovered they were of little use to their masters and were usually abandoned. Only Captain Black appeared to share the same indestructible qualities as himself. The only thing that would kill Black would be the only thing which would also destroy Scarlet himself - high voltage electricity!
Scarlet located the entrance hatch leading to the airlock. The hatch would be firmly closed and there would be no way for Scarlet to open it from the outside. He reached for the cutting device again. Small sparks hissed and fizzed as he set to work. Soon he had cut enough of the hatch away to sneak inside. He opened the door to the inner chamber. So far so good. He had avoided detection. He closed the hatch as quickly as possible to stop too much of the water flooding inside. As he paddled knee deep in water he heard muffled cries coming from a store cupboard. He unlocked the door and out tumbled four crew men. They appeared to be unharmed
"Quickly!" one of the men shouted, "An intruder has taken over the sub. The Captain and one of our colleagues have either taken complete leave of their senses, or they are being forced to act against their will. "
"Where are they?" demanded Scarlet.
"In the weapons room. They are going to arm the nuclear warheads. We, along with half of Greenland will be obliterated if they succeed."
"Lead the way!" cried Scarlet.
Scarlet and the rest of the crew burst into the weapons room, Scarlet fired, hitting the duplicates of the captain and watchman. They fell to the ground and did not get up again.
"Too late Captain Scarlet," boomed a deep sinister voice. "The missiles have already been primed."
"Captain Black! I knew you would be behind this." Scarlet fired a shot but it had no effect. Black fired back. Scarlet dodged as the bullet whizzed past his temple.
"Sir look! The countdown has started, the first missile will be fired in sixty seconds," alerted a crew member.
Scarlet had no time to chase after the escaping Captain Black. He had to abort the firing sequence. The crew member who had shouted the warning was the leading weapons officer.
"Captain Scarlet, follow my lead I know the shutdown code. You disarm Warhead 1 and I will disarm Warhead 2. Okay you will see a panel to your right. It reacts only to mine and the Captain's palm print. He and I were the only ones to have access to the code. " He pressed his hand against a smooth black scanner. A red light changed to green.
"Good. Now we have only forty seconds left. Blue dial two turns to the right. Yellow dial three to the left. Press the amber button and key in this code 'ANTAS 2512.' “
Scarlet could feel the perspiration trickling from his forehead as he tapped in the code.
"I've done it!" said the weapons officer triumphantly. A buzzer was sounding and the instruction 'abort missile' was flashing on a screen in front of him.
Scarlet's fingers felt like lead as he tapped in the last number. He held his breath watching for the screen to change. In the last remaining seconds which seemed to him more like minutes, the screen flashed the command 'abort missile'. Scarlet exhaled with a sigh, accompanied by the cheering of the crew.
Captain Blue landed his helicopter on the most stable ice floe he could find. He sat watching and waiting to hear from his friend and colleague. Watching and waiting was the worst part of it for him. Scarlet was beginning to take his indestructibility for granted. Dr Fawn had said 'virtually' indestructible, not 'totally indestructible'. Even he would not stand a snowball chance in hell in a nuclear explosion. Blue wished that Scarlet had allowed him to come along as back up. It sometimes irritated Blue that Scarlet ploughed in single-handedly, but then he realised that Scarlet had lost another friend and partner - Captain Brown.
Blue drummed his fingers impatiently, "Come on Paul. What's going on down there?" His eyes scanned the icy wasteland beneath a velvety night sky. Suddenly something broke the surface a few metres away. At first he saw a periscope and then the whole submarine appeared.
"He's done it!" yelled Blue and punched the air in triumph. Simultaneously, he received a call from Scarlet who he could see waving from the hatch.
"Good work, Paul..." he was cut short before he had time to finish his sentence. A blow from the butt end of a pistol rendered him unconscious.
"Adam!" came Scarlet's anxious voice.
Captain Scarlet watched in horror, as his colleague was tossed out of the helicopter cockpit like a rag doll. He raced across the ice as fast as he could. Slipping and sliding and cursing loudly. He could see Captain Black at the controls, waiting for the rotor blades to get up enough speed to lift off. As the helicopter hovered inches from the ice, Scarlet lunged and grabbed hold of its underside. Clinging on tightly he could feel frost forming on his wet hair and face as the helicopter gained height. Blue regained consciousness, and sat up just in time to see the helicopter rise into the air with Scarlet dangling beneath it. Groggily, he activated the mike secreted in his cap and alerted Destiny Angel.
"Hurry. Captain Black has taken the helicopter. Scarlet is trying to stop him. I don't know how long he can hold on!"
Visually checking on Captain Blue’s position, Destiny Angel reported it to Cloudbase, and then gave chase. The helicopter flew over the coast of Greenland. Scarlet had managed to haul himself inside. When Black saw him, he fired. The bullet lodged in Scarlet’s shoulder. The Spectrum officer cried out in pain as he fell onto the floor. The pain and effects of the extreme cold were starting to take their toll on him. He shivered violently and pulled on the scarlet overcoat he had left on one of the seats in the helicopter. It quickly became stained with a deeper shade of red.
"Foolish Earthman, You will not stop me," hissed Black.
Captain Scarlet lay still behind the helicopter seat. He could see that Black's attentions were focussed elsewhere. Captain Black's face was staring impassively at a map of Norway. The helicopter appeared to be flying on its own. Scarlet reached out his uninjured arm and dragged a jet pack from beneath one of the seats. He grimaced as he slipped the straps over his shoulders, but it was better to be safe than sorry. He felt sure that Captain Black had another trick up his sleeve. Black appeared to be speaking to his Mysteron Masters.
"Yes I can see the atomic plant ahead," he droned. "I will open fire on your command."
So that was it. Captain Black intended to use the Spectrum helicopter to destroy the Norwegian atomic power station. Scarlet wasted no time. He quickly contacted Grey and Ochre, who were patrolling Lapland. Fortunately both of them were on their way, in another Spectrum helicopter, having already been alerted by Captain Blue. Captain Scarlet could see the helicopter closing in on its intended target. He knew he would have to act swiftly.
Captain Blue radioed Colonel White to report the latest development.
"Captain Blue, Captain Grey, Captain Ochre and Rhapsody will be with you very soon."
"I have a visual on Rhapsody Angel at two o clock," said Destiny.
"Any word from Scarlet?" asked Colonel White.
"No Sir. I think he managed to get in to the helicopter, but we have had no further communication. I have tried several times and I cannot raise him."
"Then we must assume he is either injured or dead."
"Sir," interrupted Destiny. "I am picking up a message... It's from Captain Black..."
"Nothing can be done to stop me... I will carry out my plan..." came the monotone voice.
"Shoot him down," ordered Colonel White.
"But sir..." protested Destiny.
"You heard me. There's nothing else we can do. The helicopter is setting course to the Norwegian atomic plant. It has explosive missiles capable of destroying the station and setting up a massive chain reaction. Shoot him down now while he is over an uninhabited area."
"I am now over land, sir. The helicopter is skimming the coast of Norway. No, it's veering off out to sea."
"Then fire! That's an order!"
"It's turning again," said Destiny. "Captain Scarlet must be alive. It looks as if someone is wrestling for the controls. We must hold fire, sir."
" I will try to contact him again.” Upon Colonel White’s request, Lieutenant Green opened a radio channel to the helicopter Scarlet and Black were in. “Captain Scarlet, if you can hear me bail out now that's an order," yelled Colonel White. He received no answer. "For Heaven’s sake man, I have to order Destiny to open fire. Bail out!"
Captain Blue, now with Ochre and Grey in the Spectrum helicopter that had just picked him up, couldn't believe his ears.
"Come on Paul... Come on..." pleaded Blue into his cap microphone, but to his dismay there was still no reply.
"You are to destroy the helicopter. I order you to fire now!" shouted the Colonel reluctantly.
"You can't do that, Destiny!" blurted out captain Blue. "It's Paul in there, remember. I know he's indestructible but there are obvious limitations. If he is blown to smithereens, there is no way his body can heal itself. The Mysterons will only reconstruct him for their own ends. You can't fire on that helicopter."
"I have been given an order!" snapped Destiny. "Mon Dieu! Do you think this is going to be easy for me?! How did you feel when you were ordered to shoot him down?"
"What are you waiting for?" came the urgent voice of Colonel White. "Captain Black is approaching a built up area. For God's sake shoot him down now! There is a chance the helicopter will explode on an uninhabited forest area. There may be loss of life, but hopefully minimal. Open fire on that helicopter now! That's an order!"
"But sir...Captain Scarlet..."
"Captain Scarlet must take his chances."
"I think he is trying to wrestle Black for the controls, that's the sort of thing he would do. But if he has been injured. he will be weak," explained Blue.
"I will make one last try to contact him. I hope I can make him see sense and bail out." said White, who really didn't want to loose his best agent. Again, he used the channel to the helicopter: "I repeat the helicopter will be destroyed in ten seconds. Bail out Captain Scarlet! That's an order! You have now eight seconds... seven... six... five... four.."
"Bail out Paul. Bail out!" begged Blue
The three Captains and two Angel pilots held their breath as the helicopter flew towards a Norwegian port and within striking distance of the atomic power station.
All of a sudden, it veered around sharply and headed far out to sea.
"Firing missiles now!" cried Destiny.
The helicopter exploded with a violent orange flash.
"It's a hit! It's down!"
"Is it clear of the town?" Colonel White was the first to break the silence that followed.
"Yes sir. It exploded in the sea. He did it. Captain Scarlet managed to steer it away from the port."
Blue's heart was still thumping in his chest. "Paul… Is there any sign of Paul?" he asked Destiny.
"I... I don't think so.... Sacrebleu... I can see something red... It's him! He's falling, Captain Blue! Oh he'll be all right won't he? He's fallen like this before and survived."
"Hurry, can you get to him?"
"It's dense forest down there. There's nowhere I can land safely."
Captain Scarlet was freefalling in the bleak midwinter night air. His legs were kicking beneath him almost as if he was walking in the air. His limb felt rigid with cold. At last he was able to move his frozen fingers and activate the jet pack which he hoped would propel him to safety. He depressed a button, but nothing happened. The frost had seized the jet engine up. Scarlet could see the ground swirling towards him. He was descending too fast. His landing was definitely going to be an uncomfortable one. Below him the could see the forest, the best he could hope for was to land in a dense pine tree. He felt the wind billow underneath his coat, blowing him off course. It was carrying him towards the edge of town. He saw a house in front of him and narrowly missed its chimney. He was fast approaching another rooftop. He could see the snow laying crisp and even, and he hoped, that it would be deep! Again luck was not on his side. His feet hit the rooftop with a sickening thud. Searing pains shot through his legs and he lost consciousness.
Captain Scarlet awoke slowly and took stock of his injuries. He felt sore all over and he was sure that both his ankles were broken. The freezing weather would slow down his powers of retrometabolism. There was nothing he could do except lay there until the Spectrum personnel found him. He realised that he was lying on a rooftop wedged between two chimneys. As he tried to move, he dislodged one of the chimney pots and felt himself sliding down smooth icy slates. He managed to grab hold of some guttering beneath a small dormer window, there he dangled precariously over a thirty five foot drop. He noticed the small dormer window to the right of him was now wide open. Scarlet wondered if he could manage to pull himself inside. He winced as he tried to pull his body up. Blackness threatened to engulf him again. When he managed to focus his eyes, he saw a small fair-haired girl gazing wide eyed in amazement. She giggled at him and spoke to him her native Scandinavian tongue. Scarlet didn't know what she was saying.
"I'm sorry, I'm English," he slurred still only half conscious.
"I know English also," the little girl announced proudly. "I am Freya. Where is Rudolph?"
Scarlet groaned and closed his eyes again. He felt the guttering give way. His grip loosened and he braced himself for another fall. There he lay spread-eagled in the snow. His long red overcoat vividly contrasting with the whiteness around him.
Captain Scarlet awoke again in the medical bay of Cloudbase. He didn't know how long he had been unconscious, but he knew that his body was now healed. He could feel his legs again.
Blue and Destiny had managed to requisition an SPV. They had set out to locate Captain Scarlet so that he could be taken back to Cloudbase to recover. The Norwegian emergency services had also been called out, following a report of a red-clad man falling from a rooftop. At first they ignored it thinking it was a hoax. When they heard about the missing Spectrum Officer they put two and two together and decided to investigate. As for Freya, when Destiny arrived she was in tears. Her mother was trying to comfort her. Destiny Angel gently reassured her that Santa wasn't really dead. Santa was indestructible. He had clearly had too many glasses of sherry and had fallen asleep. Rudolph had gone to get help and Santa's helpers were taking him home in a helicopter to give him a strong cup of black coffee! Destiny told her to be a good little girl and go back to bed. Santa would finish delivering his presents when he felt better!
Captain Scarlet knew by the look on Dr Fawn's face that he was not going to hear the last of this escapade.
"Have I missed Christmas then?" he asked, rather hoping that he had.
"No. You're just in time for Christmas lunch. That's if you're up to it."
"And the Polar Ice cap...?"
Seymour Griffiths, Lieutenant Green poked his head around the door and gave a cheery wave.
"Merry Christmas everybody. I'm off to the sun."
Scarlet closed his eyes and lay back on his pillow. He didn't see Blue and Magenta sneak over to his bed. Wearing flashing reindeer antlers they burst into song,
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose."
Scarlet groaned. "Captain Blue, Christmas is bad enough for me already without having to endure your singing! There are times when being dead has its advantages." With that he placed a pillow very firmly over his head.
v Carlton, who own the rights to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
v Gerry Anderson the creator of the characters and television series.
v The verse 'Twas the night before Christmas' was originally believed to have been written by Clement Clarence Moore, but other sources say it was Major Henry Livingston Jr. ( That's the answer I got from ask Jeeves anyway)
v 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' was written by Robert Lewis May (source Waltn.net/rudolph)
There are several popular Christmas song titles hidden in this story. ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ is one. How many others can you find?
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