A “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” story
by Chris Bishop
“I think we made a wrong turn back there.”
Karen Wainwright – who was known in the Spectrum organisation as Symphony Angel –looked with frowning dismay at the large unfolded road map she was holding in front of her, trying to figure out where the hell she had gone wrong earlier. Behind the wheel of the car, her companion cast her an annoyed look.
“Leave it to an ace pilot not to be able to read a simple map,” Adam Svenson – Captain Blue – muttered curtly.
"Hey, at least there WAS a map in the glove compartment!" she retorted. "And while we're on the subject, leave it to a test pilot not to TEST the onboard computer before signing off on the rental car!"
Blue smiled sheepishly. "Touché."
She sighed. "I'll bet the last customer had trouble with the computer too, but didn't bother to report it."
“You realise that last crossroads is at least an hour and a half behind us?”
“Who had the bright idea of going from El Paso to Las Vegas by heading straight into the desert?” the girl replied coldly.
“I know, I know. It’s all my fault… I take full responsibility.”
“Well, don’t fret too much over it, Big Blue… At least, it gives us some more time alone together.” Symphony unsuccessfully tried to fold the map back into its original format and then, giving up, threw it down on the dashboard. “We will just have to continue on this road. We’ll get there eventually.”
“You’re sure about that?” Blue asked, uncertain about it himself. “How far off course has this taken us?”
“We’ll be three hours late,” his girlfriend answered matter-of-factly.
“Great!” Blue mumbled. “The others will surely wonder what’s happened to us…”
“You’re angry with me?” Symphony asked him.
“No, absolutely not.” He glanced at her, momentarily taking his eyes off the road. Then he extended his right arm and drew her to him. She cuddled against his shoulder. “You’re right,” he said, smiling warmly. “It will give us some more time alone together. It’s just that a desert road doesn’t seem like a very romantic place.”
“Every place is romantic to me, so long as I’m with you,” Symphony sighed longingly.
Blue’s smile widened. “Flatterer. Continue that way and I might ask you to marry me.”
“Isn’t that what we’re up to right now?” the girl grinned.
Both of them chuckled over the thought. Captain Blue and Symphony Angel had been seeing each other since they first met, over three years ago, during the Spectrum organisation’s recruitment. Theirs had been an off again, on again relationship, but for a little more than a year now, they’d been together fairly regularly… And for some months, they’d realised they were in love, and had had thoughts of going further with their relationship. The word “marriage” had come up on more than one occasion. There were just a few little problems about it.
On Cloudbase, Spectrum’s flying headquarters, where they were both stationed – Symphony as an Angel fighter pilot and Captain Blue as one of Spectrum’s senior staff officers – not many people knew about their relationship. Well, some may have guessed about them going out together, since they were almost inseparable when off-duty, but nobody could know how serious they really were. Blue and Symphony had been very careful not to let that be generally known to Cloudbase’s personnel. Only a few chosen ones had been in their confidence… Among them was Captain Scarlet, Blue’s best friend and habitual field partner.
Scarlet’s situation was somewhat similar to that of his friend: he too shared a close relationship with one of the Angels, namely Rhapsody, his compatriot from Britain. Like Blue and Symphony, Scarlet and Rhapsody were keeping their mutual love a secret from just about everybody on Cloudbase. The reason for both couples was the same: they didn’t know for sure how Colonel White, commander-in-chief of Spectrum, would react upon learning of their relationships.
Colonel White was a very stern man, very strict on discipline… It was feared he would follow strict regulations regarding married couples being stationed together on military bases One of the spouses could very well be reassigned somewhere else, despite the fact that White needed every member of his staff. Symphony and Rhapsody, as part of the Angel team, were almost irreplaceable, and the same could be said for Blue and Scarlet, who were Spectrum’s best team of field agents. And while the colonel might be very upset upon accidentally discovering that two of his senior officers were romantically linked to two of his Angel pilots behind his back, there was also another reason that would lead the young couples to think he would be against it.
Captain Brown had been a fellow officer to Scarlet and Blue, and a friend to both of them. Shortly after joining Spectrum, three years before, he fell in love with a young telecommunications operator. Colonel White granted them permission to get married. But some months after the couple had wed, something terrible happened.
The Mysterons launched their war of nerves on the people of Earth.
The Mysterons were inhabitants of Mars. Two years earlier, an Earth exploration expedition, led by Spectrum’s Captain Black, had discovered their city complex and destroyed it, mistakenly believing the Mysterons were about to attack their vehicle. The aliens had then vowed revenge upon the entire human race, and stopping their multiple acts of terror on Earth had become Spectrum’s principal mandate. Unfortunately, during Spectrum’s first strange encounter with the Mysterons, Captain Brown became one of their first victims… Captain Blue was the one to break the news to Becky Evershaw, his friend’s wife, who was then expecting their child. He still remembered the look on her face when he had gone to see her, in London. She knew what had happened before he could say a word.
Colonel White had eventually gone to visit the young widow. Years ago, he had himself lost his wife, under tragic circumstances. The colonel knew the pain of losing a loved one… Upon seeing Becky Evershaw trying so hard to be so brave, the commander in chief of Spectrum had felt somewhat guilty about what had happened. Granted, he had sent agents to face death before – and after – that incident, but he blamed himself for the young woman’s predicament. To lose a husband at so young an age and to raise a child who would never know his father… Captain Blue had heard Colonel White say that he should never have given Brown permission to marry in the first place. Knowing the daily danger faced by all Spectrum field agents, it wasn’t a wise move to even consider it.
Hence the decision of Captains Blue and Scarlet not to inform their commanding officer – or anybody else, for that matter – of their feelings towards their respective girlfriends. In the beginning, it all seemed like an amusing game of hide and seek, but as the months passed by, and the war against the Mysterons continued to rage on, Blue and Symphony had begun to grow bored with it and had expressed the need to move on with their lives.
The next logical step would be marriage. Blue knew that Scarlet and Rhapsody had already talked about it between them, but that they had mutually agreed to wait until this whole business with the Mysterons was over with before actually going through with it. But for Blue himself, that was not something to even consider. Nobody knew how much longer this war would go on… One year, five, ten… Scarlet was fooling himself if he thought for even one minute he would be able to wait THAT long. Blue didn’t want to take that course. He was now impatient to go on and felt himself ready for it. And Symphony felt exactly the same way.
Colonel White was the major obstacle to their plans. How to tell him about all this without having him objecting vehemently to it? That was a risk neither Blue nor Symphony wanted to take.
They simply decided they would not have to. As soon as they were able to go off-base together, they would get married, secretly, without Colonel White ever knowing about it.
Captain Scarlet, when they took him into their confidence, found the enterprise rather hazardous. Keeping such a secret from Colonel White? If he were ever to find out, there was little doubt both Captain Blue and Symphony Angel would face court-martial, even get sacked from Spectrum. Their commander would never forgive such disregard for Spectrum regulations… or the respect due to himself.
But Scarlet could see his friends were ready to risk everything, careers and way of life, to profess their love for each other. “You know what you’re risking, don’t you?” he had said to them, after pointing out what it would mean, if they were to be found out.
“Yes, we know,” a determined Blue had responded.
“Eventually, HE’ll find out, you know.”
“We know that too.”
“And there’s no telling what he might do…”
“We’ve already talked about all this, Paul. Don’t feel compelled to help us, but please, don’t try to convince us to change our plans. Nothing you can say or do will stop us.”
Scarlet had sighed deeply. “You’ve got more courage than I have,” he had simply noted. “All right. I’ll help you, however I can. Don’t think for one instant I would miss your wedding. THIS I have got to see.”
The occasion soon presented itself. Blue and Symphony each arranged for their personal furlough to be due on the same time. They had announced their intention to go to Texas, as they had to specify their location to Spectrum in case they should be recalled for emergency duty. The plan was relatively simple: from Texas, they would travel through the desert to Las Vegas, Nevada… While it may not be the most romantic spot on Earth for marriage, it was still the best place to get it done fast and simple.
Captain Scarlet would be there. At the Los Angeles Headquarters for a routine security job, he had arranged for a few days furlough in order to join his friends in Las Vegas, after his work was finished. The only drawback in this was that Rhapsody Angel, who was in on the secret, could not attend. She was not able to liberate herself from duty. Destiny Angel was to accompany Scarlet.
Despite the fact that Captain Blue and Symphony would have preferred Rhapsody’s presence at their marriage, they were quite satisfied with Destiny. Captain Scarlet’s oldest friend in the Spectrum organisation – and an ex-girlfriend of his – Destiny knew about Blue and Symphony’s relationship, though she had never talked about it openly. Taken into the confidence of her fellow pilot and Blue’s plan, she had shown herself pleasantly surprised… and not at all concerned by all the problems it could raise. “Oh! A conspiracy!” she was reported to have joyfully said to Scarlet. “That certainly sounds exciting! Count me in. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” That was not a surprising reaction coming from Destiny: sometimes, she had the tendency – which annoyed Scarlet intensely – to take life as a game. The professional military pilot then gave way to the child in her, and it was all she could do not to get carried away. Fortunately, she had the discernment to know when it was time to be serious – and she took her job VERY seriously when it counted – and when it was time to have some fun.
Destiny was to join Captain Scarlet in Las Vegas. Blue had arranged for rooms to be reserved for the four of them at a good, but not too sumptuous, hotel. No sense in drawing too much attention by staying at Caesar’s Palace, he had said to his friends. The Svenson name carried some weight and influence, he had found out during his not-too-frequent leaves off-base. As the eldest son of one of America’s wealthiest financiers, it seemed people thought he was entitled to some privileges. While he generally didn’t care very much about that, he didn’t mind THIS time around. It helped him to make quick reservations and ask for – and obtain – total discretion.
“I feel bad, though, doing this to the colonel,” Symphony sighed, cuddling closer to Blue in the speeding car.
“Yeah, me too,” Blue replied. “But it seems more cautious to act this way. You know Paul still says it’s a crazy move.”
“He should know about crazy moves,” Symphony smiled fondly. “I think he would rather face ten Mysterons all at once than Colonel White’s wrath, if he was in the same situation as us.”
“Want to bet he will be before long?” Blue laughed out loud. “I don’t think he and Dianne will be able to wait for this war to end… They’ll be marching down the aisle too, before we know it!”
“Do you think he’s arrived at the hotel already?”
Blue glanced at his watch. “Probably. When I called him this morning, he told me that he was waiting for Juliette to arrive in L.A., and that they would head off for Vegas soon after.”
“Maybe we should call them, as soon as we can,” Symphony suggested. “Just to make sure they don’t worry about us…”
Blue glanced at her, wondering what was on her mind. He could see she was very serious about this. “I’ll call them,” he said. “If that’s what you want.”
“Just don’t use your Spectrum communicator. You never know: what if the communication was to be intercepted?”
“By whom, may I ask?”
“I don’t know… Some Spectrum official… Lieutenant Green… Colonel White.”
“Don’t fret over it. I won’t use the communicator. Besides, if I did, I wouldn’t say anything to ‘incriminate’ us, you know that.”
“It’s not somebody else learning about our plans that’s got me worried. I don’t want anybody taking the opportunity to call us back to duty before we’re through.”
“Stop worrying about that. It won’t happen.” Blue cast his fiancée an amused glance. “I’ll use a phone when we reach the next town or gas station.”
“Mind if I ask you a question, now?”
“What makes you think Paul and Juliette would worry about us?”
Symphony sighed. “You know, with our kind of job, there’s always some possibility that we may run into some kind of trouble…”
“Please! Don’t even mention them! Paul once told me he and Steve were actually discussing them before their car crashed, two years ago…” Symphony shivered at the mere thought of her friends plunging into a ravine to their deaths, in a blazing car. That one of the two men should have been brought back to them afterwards was simply a miracle. “I hope they’ll give us a rest, until we are actually married,” Symphony added grimly.
“I just can hear them right in the middle of the ceremony…” Blue stopped suddenly, when Symphony angrily punched him on the shoulder with her closed fist. “Ow! What’s that for?”
“You’re really terrible, Adam Svenson! Hearing you talk like this makes me wonder if you really want to get married!”
Blue laughed and drew her closer still to his heart. “Honey, I’ve never been more sure of anything in all my life,” he assured her. “And nothing, not even Colonel White, nor the Mysterons, would be able to prevent me from marrying you.”
* * *
The St-Maurice wasn’t a hotel with an international reputation, which was one of the main reasons people, famous or otherwise, stayed there. That certainly was why Captain Blue had chosen it, anyway. He was very conscious that his real name could be tracked right back to his father. The reputation of the family firm, Svenson and Sons, was renowned all over the financial world, not just on Wall Street, and his father and brothers had almost celebrity status. Blue could just see the news in the papers if he was careless enough to chose a hotel where reporters had the habit of camping in the lobby, just to get their hands on some good exclusive.
Nevertheless, the St-Maurice was a very good hotel. Excellent food, congenial employees, marvellous services, very clean rooms. Captain Scarlet, who had taken rooms there with Destiny Angel, under their real names of Paul Metcalfe and Juliette Pontoin, had no complaints. And he knew that Destiny had been well pleased upon discovering that the hotel was run by genuine French people. He was fairly certain that the hotel manager had developed an immediate attraction toward the very beautiful pilot.
“We don’t receive very much foreign visitors,” he personally said to the British-born Scarlet, with an accent heavier than Destiny’s. “Our clients are mostly American people, desiring to live up a little ‘exoticism’, as they say. Why anybody would think that French are exotic people is beyond me!”
The thought of the little man brought a smile to Scarlet’s face as he stepped out of the shower and dried himself. He was almost certain the man would have asked Destiny on a tour of the city if he hadn’t thought she was the imposing Scarlet’s girl. That was funny, smiled the British Spectrum captain to himself. Some years ago, that would have been true. Today, Destiny was a very dear friend, but no more than that. Captain Scarlet’s heart was taken by another Angel.
Scarlet consulted his watch, which he had put on the sink previous to his shower. He nodded thoughtfully. The day was still young. Adam and Karen were not due to arrive for another two or three hours. The other guest at their little get-together would arrive before them. Her plane was due at the airport in about an hour and a half. That gave him and Destiny some time off. Las Vegas had some shows going on twenty-four hours a day. Maybe he would invite the Angel pilot to go see one of them. She must still be in the other room, Scarlet mused. Like him, she had craved a good long shower upon their arrival at the hotel, something none of them were really able to do on Cloudbase. Must have finished now, though. He would dress and knock on her door, to ask her what she thought about going out.
His clothes being in the bedroom, Scarlet wrapped a towel around his hips, opened the door and stepped through…
…only to quickly retreat back into the bathroom.
“Juliette!” he cried out.
Destiny was in HIS room, obviously browsing around. She had turned around when he had stepped in and got only a glimpse of him. She laughed out loud when he disappeared so hastily.
“Really, Captain Scarlet! You don’t have to be so shy!”
Scarlet only poked his still wet dark head into the room, casting an angry – and surprised – glance toward her.
“What are you doing in my room?” he snapped at her.
She smiled at his use of French, even though he was shouting it at her, recalling how she'd complimented him on his accent when they'd first met. Even now, years later, they spoke her native language whenever possible, because she was much more comfortable with it than English.
“I was waiting for you,” Destiny answered in French. “I thought maybe, before the others arrive, we’ll have time to catch a show.” She rolled her eyes at him and added, with a wicked smile: “Although I think I had a very good one…”
“Oh! Very funny!” Scarlet grumbled, amused despite himself.
“Oh, come on, Paul!” Destiny protested. Then, reverting back to English: “That would not be the first time I saw you naked!”
Scarlet could feel himself reddening. “I am not naked!” he objected. He took a look at himself, searching for a smart repartee. “I am just at some… disadvantage, here.”
Destiny chuckled a little, trying very hard not to burst out laughing.
“That’s the English reserve for you,” she retorted. “Always so uptight, so prudish…”
Scarlet scoffed. “I’m not uptight!” he protested again. “Or prudish… Well, to a certain extent, perhaps. For God’s sake, Juliette, you should understand how embarrassing this is! You were educated in a convent, for crying out loud! Please, I have to dress. Go back to your room.”
“I could swear I’ve just heard Papa!” Destiny sighed.
“I’m not your father.”
“No, you’re an ex-boyfriend of mine who has a sudden case of shyness with me.” Destiny sat down on the bed, demonstrating rather obviously to a distraught Scarlet that she had no intention of going away. “What’s the matter, anyway?” she asked again in French. “Are you afraid of me?”
“Why should I be afraid of you?” a dismayed Scarlet replied.
“Well, that would be rather strange now, n’est-ce pas, that a man that has no fear even of death should be afraid of little old me…” Destiny looked mockingly at a silent and very annoyed Scarlet. She narrowed her eyes at him again. “You think I would get you in trouble,” she added quietly.
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re not afraid of me. It’s Rhapsody who frightens you so.”
Since Scarlet did not even answer her remark, Destiny gave a victorious smile.
“That’s it, isn’t it true?”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, you don’t? Paul, it’s me, Juliette. I was the one who presented you to one another, remember? If you recall, I already noticed some sparks flying between the two of you at that time…”
“Juliette, that was three years ago…”
“Well, some people take longer than others…” Destiny smiled. “How long has it been going on, exactly? I’ve suspected something for quite some time, but…”
“Do you really expect me to confide in you, while I’m dressed like this?” Scarlet asked, frowning with perplexity.
“Well, since you’re at a disadvantage… as you put it yourself.”
This time, Scarlet laughed. He pointed toward his clothes spread on the bed.
“Give me something to put on. I’ll admit anything to you afterward.”
“Is that a promise?” Destiny asked him.
“Yes, it is.” Scarlet sighed. “Please, Juliette, I’m about to freeze to death, here.”
“Fat chance of that.” Destiny got to her feet, taking up Scarlet’s clothes, and walked toward the half opened door of the bathroom.
“Don’t come any closer!” Scarlet suddenly urged her, stopping her right in her tracks. “Just throw me the clothes.”
“Vraiment, Paul! You really have turned shy on me!”
She obeyed anyway and threw each piece of clothing one after the other. Scarlet expertly caught them on the wing, save for the shirt which he received squarely in the face. He smiled at Destiny.
“This shouldn’t take very long,” he announced before disappearing completely into the bathroom.
Destiny nodded and turned away toward the window, checking out if they had a pretty view of the city.
“So, how long have you had your suspicions?” came Scarlet’s voice from the bathroom.
“About you and Dianne? For some months, now.” The view wasn’t so bad, Destiny thought. Well, the manager didn’t lie about that. “They became certitude when I saw that rock on her dresser.”
“The ring you gave her. A big ruby, surrounded by smaller diamonds… I thought the colour of the principal stone was a dead giveway to who gave it to her.”
“Oh!” There was a short moment of silence, before Scarlet continued: “Maybe I should tell Dianne to be more careful with that ring.”
“Don’t bother,” Destiny replied. “I have seen it only once, and only for a moment.”
Scarlet came out of the bathroom, fully dressed with trousers, shirt and socks. He was still busy buttoning his cuffs when Destiny turned to him with a faint smile.
“So,” she said, “I take it you’re engaged now?”
Scarlet nodded. “Yes, we are. Since Valentine’s Day.”
“You always were the romantic one,” Destiny remarked fondly. “Who knows about this?”
“Only Adam and Karen.” Scarlet shrugged. “I haven’t told my parents yet, and Dianne hasn’t told her father, either. In fact, they don’t even know we’ve been seeing each other.”
“I hope your father won’t be as difficult with her as he was with me,” Destiny noted. She remembered vividly how Scarlet’s father, General Charles Metcalfe, commander of Winchester Air Base, had reacted to his only son going out with her. He didn’t seem to trust the young woman’s real feelings toward Paul. She shook her head. “No, I don’t think he would object to you marrying Dianne. She’ll find a way to charm him. Why I didn’t succeed in that is still puzzling me, though.”
“I think you tried too hard,” Scarlet retorted, smiling a little.
“What about Colonel White?” Destiny asked.
Scarlet scowled. “What about him?”
“Don’t avoid the question. You know what I mean. He doesn’t know, évidemment?”
Scarlet made a face and shrugged again. “You know how it is, Juliette. I haven’t worked up the courage to tell him about it yet.”
“So,” Destiny smiled, “You may just decide yet to do like Blue and Symphony and go get married without telling him…”
“Are you kidding?” Scarlet started to protest. Then he shook his head. “I must admit, the thought had crossed my mind,” he finished.
“Then it’s a good thing it’s ME who is here with you, today.” Destiny continued. “What, if Dianne had come with you, this adventure may have ended up as a double wedding.”
“Don’t joke about that. I tried hard to talk Adam and Karen out of it. Can you imagine if the colonel happened to find out? There would be Hell to pay.”
“Yes, for us as well as for them, since we would be regarded as ‘accomplices’. But I think we were very cautious about this. Karen and Adam having gone in Texas before coming over here, and us coming on our own from Los Angeles… I don’t think anyone could suspect this was planned all along.”
“I don’t know. The colonel isn’t a fool, you know.”
“Then why don’t you tell him about YOUR situation with Rhapsody?”
“Would you believe I’m SCARED of the old man?”
“That, I would believe.” Destiny smiled. “Well, whatever you decide to do, let me be the first to congratulate you… after Blue and Symphony, of course.”
Scarlet grinned broadly when Destiny came to him, with her arms opened, and hugged him warmly, kissing him on both cheeks. There was a time, he thought, about two years ago, just after he snapped out of the Mysterons’ control, when she would not even give him the time of day. She did not trust him, did not even consider him the real Paul Metcalfe, since his original body had been destroyed in the car crash, and then recreated by the incredible powers of the Mysterons, into a clone whose only purpose was to follow the orders of his masters. That Scarlet should have broken free of their influence was due merely to a twist of fate and thinking about it now only brought up one more concern to his mind.
“You don’t know how happy I am for you!” Destiny was saying in French, still hugging him. “You and Dianne, I think you were meant for each other.”
“Yeah, I’m happy too,” Scarlet stated. “But you do realize, of course that there is ONE major drawback to all this…”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. My… particular condition?”
Destiny broke the embrace and looked at her friend, realizing what he was implying.
Since his encounter with the Mysterons, Captain Scarlet had become virtually indestructible. He had acquired the ability to heal from any injury, even a fatal one, in a matter of hours… He could not be killed and had proven this amazing power repeatedly over the last two years, putting his life on the line and taking on missions that would have meant certain death to anyone else. Destiny herself had seen him ‘die’ before, and then come back to life again, his body completely unscathed, and himself seeming to be totally oblivious to what he had gone through.
Destiny knew for a fact that his condition had caused him a great deal of distress. For a long time, and even now, she realised, he had felt apart, different from other, normal human beings. He had confided in her, in the first year following his initial ‘death’, that he was afraid he could eventually lose his sense of identity, that he would not be able to relate to the rest of the world. In that respect, he felt desperately alone, and she was particularly grateful that, for Scarlet’s sake, he was surrounded by some very good friends. The fact that he had fallen in love with Rhapsody Angel and eventually became engaged to her was a very good sign.
“Now, Paul,” Destiny said in a soothing voice, “I don’t think that should be a problem for you and Dianne. I’m quite sure she thought hard about it before…”
“I don’t think you understand,” Scarlet interrupted abruptly. He hesitated and sighed heavily. “Juliette, for the past two years, have you noticed anything different about me?”
“Anything different? Well, apart from the fact that you seem a little more at ease with your indestructibility…”
“I mean about my appearance, Juliette,” Scarlet cut in again. She looked at him, puzzled, and he shook his head. “I don’t seem to have changed much, do I?”
“No… At least… I don’t see anything different.” Destiny frowned. “What are you trying to say?”
“Don’t you think I should, at least, AGE, Juliette?”
“Are you saying…”
“Yeah,” Scarlet sighed. “I haven’t told anyone about that, beside Doctor Fawn, Adam… and Dianne, of course. And without being sure about it, I think the colonel might know too. I may be stuck forever just the way I was looking when the Mysterons took me over.”
“That would mean that in twenty years…”
“I would STILL look like this. And fifty years from now, it would be the same.”
Destiny was amazed. She could not take her eyes off him. “Diable!” she murmured. “We’re not talking only invulnerability, here, but… what? Immortality?” The word seemed so strange, yet accurate enough.
Scarlet nodded grimly. “What good is immortality if you’ve got nobody to share it with?” he grumbled.
Destiny shook her head in disbelief. “What does Docteur Fawn have to say about this?”
“Nothing much,” Scarlet answered curtly. “He said there’s nothing really conclusive yet.” He stuck his fists into his trouser pockets, sighing. “But here I am, two years later, feeling absolutely the same physically, absolutely unchanged. Damn it, I don’t even have grey hair yet! I think that with our kind of job, and the Mysterons to boot, I should at least have some!”
“How old are you, Paul?” Destiny asked him.
“Thirty-three… Well, technically. I was thirty-one when the Mysterons… well, you know.”
“So, you’re at an age where physical differences often are not so apparent,” the French girl remarked. “And you don’t have grey hair? That doesn’t prove a thing. Lots of people don’t have any before their late thirties. Others have it before their twenties. Look at Captain Magenta. He’s about the same age as you. His hair is as black as yours… I don’t think he has grey ones either.”
“He’s about two years and a half older then me,” Scarlet replied, musing. A sudden thought came into his mind. He looked at Destiny, narrowing his eyes. “How do you know about him not having grey hair?” he asked.
He saw the young woman blushing violently. “A lucky guess, maybe?”
“Mmm… Perhaps Blue and I aren’t the only ones around Cloudbase with a secret girlfriend…” Scarlet said jokingly. He instantly received a thump on the chest in protest and laughed out loud. “Hey! Striking a superior officer! I could have you court-martialled for that!”
“Try it, and I’ll sing like a bird about you and Rhapsody, Captain!” Destiny hissed mockingly. “Seriously, Paul, about Magenta and me…”
“Your secret is safe with me, you know that.”
“But there is nothing serious going on!” Destiny protested indignantly. She could see by the expression on his face that Scarlet didn’t believe her in the least. She gave up. Anyway, her personal life wasn’t the subject of the conversation, here. His was.
“Anyway,” she said clearing her throat, “you shouldn’t worry too much about all those thoughts that seem to be troubling you. We live very fast lives, Paul. All of us. Who knows what tomorrow might bring? You should reach to every available moment of happiness you can find… and hang on tight to them!”
“A bit of a poet now, aren’t you, Destiny Angel?” Scarlet smiled raggedly.
“Well, I’m French, Capitaine Scarlet. And after all, the best poets are French. Won’t you agree?”
“Whatever you say, chérie.”
“And somebody should try to raise your spirits, since you’re being so depressing.”
“Me, depressing?” Scarlet scowled. “I was rather, wasn’t I?”
Scarlet sighed. “All right. I’ll take your advice to heart.” He smiled broadly. “This is no time to feel down, anyway. After all, Adam and Karen are about to get married. That should be a happy moment!”
“Now you’re talking!” Destiny said joyfully.
The phone began to buzz at that moment. Scarlet lifted the handset.
“Hello?” he called into the receiver. A wide smile came upon his face when he recognized the voice at the other end. “Oh, hi, Adam! How’s it going?”
At the other end of the line, Adam Svenson was standing in a corner of a small smoky bar, using a public phone. He was trying to block out some bad country music, coming from an antique jukebox not very far from him, as he spoke into the receiver.
“I’m calling to tell you that Karen and I will arrive late at Vegas,” he said, plugging his free ear to muffle out the music. “We took a wrong turn at a crossroads that sent us a few hundred miles off course…”
“Who had made a mistake like that?” a bemused Scarlet asked.
“Would you believe Karen did?”
“Sure it wasn’t deliberate?”
“I admit I have my doubts about that myself!”
Scarlet noticed his friend was almost screaming into the phone. He also noticed the muffled music.
“What’s that noise?” he asked.
“Country music,” Blue replied. “At least, it sounds like it.”
“It’s positively awful!”
“Yeah, well… The place is awful as well. I’m in a small bar, at a gas station, in the middle of the desert. ‘The Bull’s Horn’, it’s called. I won’t describe it to you. Just think of the worst you can imagine of those kinds of places… And I can assure you, it’s even worse.”
Blue could almost see his best friend frowning at the other end of the phone line. “You’ve taken our Symphony into a dump like that?”
Blue laughed. “You sound exactly like a worried big brother or something like that!” he noted with amusement.
“Well, you know I regard Karen as the sister I always wanted…” Scarlet replied, rather primly.
“Then keep your shirt on, bro! She’s not in here.” Blue looked around, glancing over the few men strolling around the place. None of their faces were really pleasant ones. They all looked like rugged, tough characters. “She’s out at the gas station, filling up the car,” Blue continued, addressing Scarlet. “We’ll find something to eat when I finish this call and then be on our way.”
“Not too nervous?”
“No, she seems fine.”
“I’m talking about you, Adam.”
Blue smiled. “Are you kidding? I can’t wait to be in Las Vegas so we can get on with this. By the way, did you check out any of the chapels on the list I gave you on Cloudbase?”
“Yes, I did. I've still got one or two left to check… But so far, there are two which seem very nice… and they’re available for a ceremony tomorrow.”
“Great! I’ll tell Karen right away. She’ll be glad to hear we will really make it.”
“When do you expect to arrive, anyway?”
“At seven… or eight tonight, at the latest.”
“That IS a long way off track! Well, at least it gives you and Karen some time alone together.”
Blue smiled, nodding thoughtfully to himself. “You know, you really could be her brother. She told me the exact same thing, earlier.”
“Great minds think alike, Adam, you know that.”
“Yeah, that’s what they say. We’ll see you in a few hours. Did… our ‘special guest’ arrive?”
“Her plane should touch down at the airport in about a hour and a half. Juliette and I will pick her up, don’t worry.”
“Karen will be so pleased to see her. What will you and Destiny do in the meantime?”
“Probably go to a show.”
“We really appreciate your help, buddy. Yours and Destiny’s. Give her our regards.”
“Give Karen our love. And try to be here as quick as you can.”
“Will do, buddy. See you soon.”
Captain Blue hung up the phone, sighing. Well, he thought, things were looking up. Paul and Juliette had already arrived at the St-Maurice, a couple of the chapels he had looked at in the brochures were available for the next day and he and Karen only were a few hours away from getting married. No Mysteron threat, no call from Spectrum, and no Colonel White to oppose their plans.
Now to get out of this godforsaken place and get back on the road…
Blue walked toward the exit, at a very determined pace. He was about to open the door and go outside when he suddenly bumped into the shoulder of a big man who staggered under the shock and turned around to face him.
“Watch where you’re going, mister!”
Blue turned too, fully aware that he was the one at fault here. “Excuse me,” he started politely, “I didn’t see you…” He stopped in the middle of his sentence.
The rugged man, of about fifty, with greying beard and hair, particularly sharp blue eyes and a short scar that crossed his left cheek right through to the bridge of his nose, was staring at him blankly. Blue’s face became pale, as he recognized the face. He knew those piercing eyes, that scar…
And the memories of them suddenly made him very uncomfortable.
“Excuse me,” he croaked.
He tried to turn away from the staring man, who then put his hand on his shoulder, stopping him. His grip was like iron, like he didn’t want to let go of Blue.
“Is that you, kid?” the man said, still staring at the younger man with a querying look.
Blue shivered, upon hearing that voice. He drew back from his touch, looking at him nervously. Then he turned away. Without even answering the question, he shouldered his way past the man and pushed the door to get out.
Fresh air, he thought. He desperately needed fresh air… and to get the Hell as far away as possible from this place.
As he walked toward the car, where Symphony was waiting, Blue cast a quick glance over his shoulder, toward the bar he had just left.
He could see the man with the scar, standing in the opening of the door, still looking at him.
Blue quickened his pace toward the car, feeling as if he had just seen a ghost.
A ghost he had thought had been dead and buried for twenty-five years…