When Scarlet awakened, he was lying on his back, on a rough and cold surface. The first thing that hit him was the smell; it was strong, very musky, and it was pervading everywhere around him; that was nearly overwhelming. He felt drowsy. Otherwise, he was fine, if somehow a little light-headed and hot; he didn’t feel hurt physically; it was just that he had trouble focusing. He remembered the knock he had received on the head, the terrible pain that had reverberated through his skull and down his spine, just before he lost consciousness, but he knew the discomfort he was presently feeling wasn’t due to that.
He took a deep breath. The air was cold, and the musky odour came even stronger, almost choking him. He moved to sit, and, as he did, he heard the sound of something metallic rattling the floor. Sitting fully, he blinked his eyes several times, raising his hand, which felt strangely heavy. His vision became clearer, and the first thing he saw was the shackle around his wrist. The end of a sturdy chain of about a foot and a half long was attached to it, with the other end fixed to another shackle around his other wrist. A longer chain was attached at the centre of the first one, with the other end bolted into the back wall.
Scarlet looked at the restraints with perplexity, before looking around, trying to assess his surroundings. It was dark, but not so much as he couldn’t see anything. He could feel a strong breeze coming into his face; that was a blessing as it was dispersing some of that awful smell. He looked up in the direction that breeze was coming.
He saw a wall of iron bars, beyond which, in the darkness, only lit by the pale glow of the moon, he could see the bushes of the mansion garden and some of the small cages forming Doctor Stein’s little zoo. He looked around him. The three other walls, the floor and the roof of his prison were made of concrete, with a narrow metal door at the bottom of one of the walls. Okay, now I know where I am… Scarlet thought grimly. They put me in one of the cages…
He heard a faint moan not far from him. Scarlet quickly turned in that direction. He saw a big hump on the floor, not far from him. He watched in concern as he saw it move. Then he realised, almost instantly, that it was somebody sprawled there, stirring a little. He moved toward his cell companion, and put a hand on his shoulder to turn him around. The moonlight came dancing on his face; it wasn’t a surprise for Captain Scarlet to recognise Lieutenant Green, apparently unconscious.
“Lieutenant? Can you hear me?”
A very faint mutter answered him. Green’s face remained set and his eyes, closed. Scarlet shook him gently, trying to get him out of his torpor. “Lieutenant Green, wake up!” he called with more insistence. “We’re in trouble!”
His efforts were in vain. He couldn’t reach his companion. Green produced only a groan and moved only by an inch. That’s not surprising, Scarlet thought gloomily. He must still be under the effect of those painkillers Stein gave him. He’s totally out. He noted how Green was free of any restraint. Of course, considering his state, that would be quite useless.
“You’re quite a fascinating man, Captain Scarlet.”
Scarlet raised his head hearing the calm voice suddenly addressing him. Beyond the bars, he saw a man standing in the middle of the garden alley, staring at him, his hands clasped behind his back. Scarlet scrambled to his feet and went more closely to the bars, grabbing them, and stared down with anger at the impassive face of Doctor Xander Stein.
“Fascinating, indeed,” the doctor continued, examining Scarlet squarely. “I fully expected Jaak to have cracked your skull when we captured you… But you seem to have recovered quite nicely.”
Scarlet moved his shackled hand to the back of his head. Evidently, considering his retro-metabolism, he had no wound, nor did he feel any bump. But the hair on the back of his head and the nap of his neck felt crusty and matted with dried blood that had certainly come from a very recent injury. That had healed, but the traces of it were still there.
“Furthermore,” Stein pursued, “we have given you enough drugs to keep an elephant sleeping for at least a week. And yet, there you are, standing in front of me. How did you manage it?”
Drugs. So, that’s why Scarlet felt so drowsy when he had first awakened. Now, however, the effects had worn off. Clearly, all those observations were intriguing Stein, but Scarlet had no intention of giving away any information about those strange phenomena.
“Where’s Rhapsody?” he asked bluntly. He was worried. Green and himself were prisoners in the cage, but there were no traces of Rhapsody. The last he remembered of her was that scream he heard, just before losing his senses. She was calling his name in worry and despair.
“Don’t worry about Rhapsody,” Stein answered very quietly. “She’s all right. We wouldn’t harm her, she’s much too valuable to us.” He sighed. “You, on the other hand, have become an inconvenience. You’re too much of a liability, so I’m afraid I’ll have to dispose of you.”
“Our commanding officer knows we’re here,” replied Scarlet. “When we fail to report, he’ll send someone to investigate.”
“Unfortunately, it will be too late for you. As for us… Do you honestly believe we’ll wait for any visitors?” He paused briefly, and approached the bars. Scarlet was not letting him out of his sight. “It’s a shame, really, that I don’t have more time to examine you properly. Your recuperative capacities are simply remarkable.”
“But I’m too dangerous for you to allow me to live, isn’t that right, doctor?” Scarlet asked very coldly. He shook his head. “What is it you’re doing on this island? You may as well tell me, since you’re planning to kill me, anyway. That research on canine species… That creature that roams this island and that attacked both Rhapsody and Lieutenant Green… That virus you claim it’s infected with… What’s all this about?”
Stein answered with a very cold smile. Scarlet could see he was considering whether he would tell him or not; then Stein seemed to decide and he shrugged, approaching a little more. He tilted his head to the side, still looking at Scarlet. “When earlier this morning, you said this… ‘creature’ looked like a werewolf, Captain… you didn’t know how right you were.”
Scarlet narrowed his eyes at the man. “I remember you saying that ‘werewolves’ were nothing but a folklore myth,” he noted.
“Yes, that’s what I said. Folklore myth. Legend. Fantasy. But all myths, Captain, are often based on facts. As strange as it seems, werewolves DID exist in the past, and still exist today. I spent years studying lycanthropy cases… I researched all historic reports on werewolves, all sightings, to this day. I came to believe that some lycanthropes – not all of them, but a small amount – may very well be, in fact, cases where a the genetic evolution from human to full werewolf failed. That’s what a werewolf is, Captain. That’s not a ‘curse’, as the folklore led us to believe. It’s a genetic mutation of the human DNA, a condition that appears once in a while, and where the carrier of the mutated gene takes the attributes of a wild wolf-like animal. Savage, strong, fierce, relying on his most bestial instincts, and superbly adapted for survival. A magnificent and extraordinary evolution between the man and the beast.”
“If a human being reverts to the state of animal,” Scarlet replied coldly, “I hardly call it evolution.” He shook his head, somehow doubtful. “You would expect me to believe that?”
“You SAW the creature, Captain. Can you believe otherwise?” Scarlet kept silent. Stein shrugged again. “The werewolf gene laid dormant far into the recess of the carrier’s mind. It could take years to awaken. Something it could be triggered by a sudden increase of stress, or during puberty, or even simply because of the ‘call of the moon’.” He smiled again and motioned to the moon up above their head, casting its feeble light into the night, half-hidden by passing dark clouds. “You surely know that the moon is responsible for some erratic behaviour in both human beings and animals, right? In the case of werewolves, the ‘changes’ that then occur are much more evident.”
“Changes,” Scarlet repeated, with incredulity. “You mean… the ‘metamorphosis?’ You’re saying that’s true too?”
“I witnessed it, Captain,” Stein answered coldly. “It’s rather impressive, believe me. I don’t know HOW this metamorphosis could be activated exactly, but I’ll find out eventually. I just have to pursue my research. I believe I’ll have plenty of subjects very soon.”
Scarlet felt rather nervous. “What do you mean by that?”
“Ah, Captain… Remember what they say about werewolves. ‘Whoever is bitten by one will also receive the curse.’ That’s not a ‘virus’ I was telling you about today. It seems the werewolf meta-gene is transmittable from the host to any person whose blood has been in direct contact with the werewolf’s saliva or own blood. A lot like a genetic disease, if you like.”
“My God,” murmured Scarlet, with horror fairly evident in his eyes. “Both Rhapsody and Green were attacked by that… creature. You mean they…”
“Yes, Captain. They’re carriers of the werewolf gene, now. That’s why they’ve been healing so quickly from the wounds they have received. Quick healing is one of the extraordinary attributes of the werewolves. That’s been passed on to your colleagues… as well as the other attributes.”
Scarlet paled. He looked over his shoulder towards Lieutenant Green. The young black man was still unconscious and still lying immobile on the floor. Scarlet’s heart felt sorrow and concern for his fellow officer, so quiet and apparently unaware of his dreadful situation. He couldn’t help but think with anxiety about Rhapsody, who, according to Stein, was in the same predicament.
“That’s what you meant when you said that you’d have ‘plenty of subjects’ to work on!” Scarlet went on, turning with anger in Stein’s direction. “I still fail to understand why you’re doing all this research, to begin with… And for whatever reason you could be ready to kill so people will not find out about them!”
“You remember me telling you about my sponsors, Captain?”
Scarlet scoffed derisively “You mean to say somebody actually took your research seriously?”
“Seriously enough to back me. They saw the potential behind my discoveries, and thought they could exploit them into a very interesting avenue. I’ve been contracted to continue my research in order to create a new race of soldiers – more precisely SUPER-soldiers – who would have the animal-like attributes and the unique healing ability of the werewolves.” Stein shook his head, seeing the incredulous look upon Scarlet’s face. “They provided me with a real werewolf in order to pursue my research and see how it could be done. Now seeing how the ‘condition’ is easily passed from an original host to others, through saliva and blood, creating a serum to achieve the same result was rather easy. The major difficulty lies in that the werewolf powers are rather uncontrollable. Whenever they take hold of the host, the latter finds his human, logical mind completely drowned by the savage side. He has no control over his actions, and lashes out indiscriminately at allies or enemies, until there’s nothing else to kill. When regaining his human persona, he doesn’t even remember what had happened, most of the time – except as if it has been only a dream. The trick is to find a way for the host to have a certain control of this savage side. That isn’t easy to work with, admittedly.” He eyed Scarlet carefully. “You’ve heard of the legend that says that one of the only things that can kill a werewolf is a silver bullet? I discovered that the reason behind this affirmation is that silver is genuine poison to the werewolf’s blood. Working with that, I tried to modify the serum with a silver-based solution, trying the find the right combination that would not kill the host, but rather would help his human mind to keep control over not only his savage side, but also to be able to trigger the powers at will. My experiments went… wrong, at some points, I have to admit. I lost most of my guinea pigs – human or otherwise.”
“Human?” Scarlet repeated, becoming livid.
“That couldn’t be helped, I had to know if my experiments worked. I nonetheless achieved some success. The serum has now several degrees of utilisation, depending on how diluted with the silver-based solution it is. Your friends,” he motioned toward Green and by his tone, he was also talking about Rhapsody, “have been ‘treated’ with that serum. With results different for each of them.”
Scarlet froze suddenly. Upon hearing about human guinea pigs, he had already figured out that both Green and Rhapsody had been nothing more than this to Stein. Revolted, he lashed out furiously. “What kind of a sick madman are you? What is your intention now? I know you plan to kill me, but what will you do to Green and… and Rhapsody? What have you done with her?”
“I told you not to worry about her,” Stein replied calmly. “I have plans for her.”
“What kind of plans?” Scarlet asked nervously.
“Frankly, Captain, that should be the LEAST of your worries. You should be more concerned about the plans I have for YOU and the lieutenant.” Stein pointed toward Green. “Green has been infected with the wolf meta-gene. He has not yet transformed into a werewolf, but considering that it’s full moon tonight…” Behind Scarlet, Green suddenly moaned and began to stir, as if on cue. Scarlet gave him a brief glance before turning his attention back to Stein. The latter produced a Machiavellian smile, watching as Scarlet was carefully listening to his explanation. “That should happen in a very short time. I doubt he’ll be able to control the savage side of the beast, considering the diluted blend of serum I gave him. Maybe he would be able to keep a certain control over his brain, but the rage would be too great and he will not be able to stop himself. Since I have to get rid of you, I decide to let him do the work. That way, I’ll be able to judge of the efficiency of a ‘werewolf soldier’. That experiment will serve to prove that he would kill anybody in his path, even if it’s a friend.”
The stare Scarlet gave to Stein, following that tirade, had become simply cold and murderous. The doctor sighed heavily, as Green’s moans increased.
“However extraordinary your healing abilities seem, Captain, I doubt very much you’ll be able to make much use of them, once the lieutenant has torn you apart. I’m truly sorry, believe me.”
“You’ll be sorrier when I’ll get out of this cage,” Scarlet promised him with a growl. “I’ll make you pay for what happened to my friends. Be sure of that.”
Apparently, Stein wasn’t impressed at all by the threat. He scoffed loudly, gave his prisoner one last contemptuous look, and then turned away, to go back toward the mansion. For a brief moment, Scarlet followed him with his eyes, then Green’s moans increased behind him, and he heard him move. Scarlet turned around, nervously. Green was trying to rise on his knees, but had doubled over, holding his stomach, grunting as if in pain. Scarlet quickly walked toward him and crouched by his side, concerned. He saw the young man’s face creased in a painful expression, his eyes closed shut, and his teeth clenched. His face was drenched with sweat and he was breathing hard.
“Lieutenant?” Scarlet called softly. “Can you hear me?” A grunt answered him. He shook his head. “Focus on my voice, Green. Try to keep your head.”
“It hurts, Captain,” was the feeble answer he heard through the gritted teeth. “What’s happening to me? What’s going on? I can’t remember… So hard to think…”
“Hang on, Lieutenant,” Scarlet urged, reaching for the younger man’s shoulders. “Don’t give in, please. Fight it. Fight the pain.”
“I… can’t… It’s too strong!”
Scarlet felt his heart sink. He could see Green was making a commendable effort to overcome the pain; but it was as if it was a battle already lost. Stein was so confident that he wouldn’t be able to fight the bestial urge that would get hold of his mind, drowning it completely, and that he would kill blindly, without even recognising him. Scarlet wasn’t about to give up, however, and he was determined not to let Green do it.
“Fight it, Seymour,” he urged him again. “For your sake, you must not give in!”
Green grunted more noisily in answer and bent closer to the floor. His breathing had become rapid and loud. “Paul, I’m afraid…” he murmured, as if he was asking for forgiveness. He couldn’t hold on. The pain was just too great. His head felt as if it was about to split in two, his brain was on fire. “What- what’s going on?” he said his voice nothing more than a murmur, not understanding any of this. “I’m – I’m so afraid.”
“Resist, Seymour, please!”
“Keep away from me!”
With a strong shove, Green pushed Scarlet away from him, sending him to the floor, his voice suddenly transforming into a half-growl, carrying a mix of anger, rage, suffering, and complete, unexplained fear. He crawled further away from Scarlet, trying to get some distance between them, as if he was feeling that this terrible pain he was in was announcing something that would prove fatal for his superior officer. He let out a cry of pain as he spread onto the cold floor, his body aching all over. Something was happening to him.
From his position on the floor, Scarlet watched in complete horror and dismay as the transformation took place before his eyes, in the narrow cage. He suddenly felt so useless; there was nothing he could do to help his fellow Spectrum officer in his distress.
Green’s skin began to irritate him for some unknown reason. Some kind of prickly, painful feeling ravaged his frame. Even the coolness of the floor couldn’t stop the sensation.
The lieutenant’s dark skin beaded densely with hot sweat; the agony that was sweeping over his body was too much to even contemplate, his flesh burned so much, like a white-hot fire biting at him in sharp waves. Dark bristles coated his flesh, appearing through the very pores of his skin. In a sudden cold rush, like an invisible wind, fur flowed from his body, covering every crevice in a shaggy layer of dark brown to nearly black fur.
He let out a cry, looking up at his aghast superior. His eyes melted away from chocolate brown to a ravening yellow. The pupils thinned drastically, losing their human characteristics.
To his horror, he felt the bones and muscles inside his body agonisingly twist, pop and crack, to reform the new shape that was bulking out in strong ripples. The pyjamas he had been wearing tore off in shreds, not being able to fit his ever-growing form. He watched in complete panic as his fingers began to extend to look completely inhuman. The nails sharpened and turned black. The same was happening to his feet.
In the heat of his despair, he let out a deafening cry; nothing human was left in his voice. It was so bass and scratchy now. His ears doubled in size, developing into a pointy shape that covered over with the wiry hair that seemed to blend with the rest of Green’s face. His features were disfigured to the point where the human face could no longer be recognised. The skin of his face was moulding like clay while beneath the surface the bones cracked loudly as they clicked into place to form a muzzle and strong jaws, with sharp, white fangs that snapped at the air angrily.
Scarlet couldn’t believe it; he couldn’t find his breath as he watched as the last few minor details fell into place to complete the werewolf’s form.
Green was no longer human. Nothing left to tell that he ever was. Now completely transformed, the werewolf stretched out in his strong new form and stood up on its hind portion, staring down like a giant over Scarlet.
Two yellow eyes fixed on the captain. All that was on Green’s mind now was boiled fury as he focused in on the red-clad man. A growl seeped deeply from the animal’s throat and he began to stalk towards Scarlet, looming over him. In the narrow space of the cage, it was going to be hard to avoid the attacks.
Scarlet tugged the long chain of the restraint, bolted tightly into the back concrete wall. It wasn’t going to easily come loose; in fact, it would take someone with the strength of an elephant to pull it out of the wall. Even the shackles on his wrists were tightly on, almost bruising.
Scarlet looked up to the beast his friend had become. What could he do now? How could he help him? First off, he had to help himself, and that was by keeping himself from getting eaten alive.
The werewolf Green roared out in a howl filled with rage, calling out into the night. From the other cages the animals were disturbed, the wolves joining in on chorus with the howls.
A crash of lightning lit up the sky followed by the deep echoing sound of thunder surging through the air. Rain began to pour down fast, as if someone just turned on a tap on full; the sound battered on top of the cages.
Green sniffed out towards Scarlet, drool dripping from the lower lip of the muzzle and sticking to the fur. The growl began to pick up. Scarlet could feel his heart race. He knew what death was like, but with the feeling that he may not survive this assault, he had to try to appeal to Green’s humanity, or what was left in him if any.
“Seymour, please, you’ve got to take control!” Scarlet pleaded.
The yellow eyes stared at him blankly, a snarl pricking at the lips, baring gleaming white teeth.
“Seymour, it’s me, you know who I am. Think!” Scarlet kept trying to implore to the animal, but he wasn’t sure if he understood. “It’s me, Paul. Remember? You have to understand, you have to get control.”
The wolf tilted his head, looking as if he was considering something. Scarlet’s hope arose. Could he have actually reached through to Green? At first it did seem like it, but then the wolf raised up a claw and slashed it down at him in an angry rage.
Scarlet barely had the chance to react, but managed to throw himself out of the way, only feeling his right shoulder sliced by the sharp claws. He cried out, shifting back to the far wall and crawling away from the monster.
The chain clatter across the floor as he pulled to the other end until it strangled his wrists, going to its limit. Werewolf Green watched and again began to approach Scarlet, craving for blood more than ever, just wanting to go for the kill.
Scarlet didn’t know how much longer he could keep it up. He couldn’t last long by just running around with nowhere to hide; eventually Green would catch him when he lost concentration and that would be it. He needed a way out.
He gripped at the long chain; that was another problem as well. It was stopping him from even having a chance to properly defend himself. He tugged at the shackles on his wrists, looking up as Green went down onto all fours ready to pounce at him. The werewolf snarled deeply and angrily.
Scarlet shuffled back slightly, about as ready as he could be for another attack that his former human colleague would impose.
Another bolt of lightning lit up the sky and the sound of rain filled the tense scene more furiously then before. Vicious snarls leapt from the animalistic throat; that was something frightening to hear, because once, the beast used to be a man, and a man could never make those sounds. But Scarlet still didn’t want to lose all hope for his friend. There had to be a way to help him.
Werewolf Green pounced with rapid speed, straight towards the captain, who waited till the very last second before rolling out of the way. As he tried to escape back down to the other way, he felt himself being snapped backwards, and he landed hard on his back. As Green was skidding to a halt, the chain got caught round his back legs, knocking him off balance.
The wolf’s full weight smashed into the bars in one hefty fall, crumpling a few of the bars till they bent outwards unceremoniously. For a few seconds, the wolf was stunned, gradually getting back to his feet, staggering slightly, shaking his head to gather his senses once again.
Scarlet groaned and rolled onto his side, his back giving him grief, but it was fading off fast. His wrists felt numb now, after the sudden whipping effect he had just received. He looked up towards Green who was having problems standing at that moment, grunting angrily.
It was just then he noticed the chain itself had been pulled off the wall. That was at least one plus point for the captain. He pulled the chain towards him and ravelled it around his arm. He was thankful for the little time he had while the wolf was getting itself together. He heard a sharp snap of a strong jaw as Green roared in hatred at Scarlet and crawled towards him on all fours.
Now that Green was away from the bars, the full extent of the damage could be seen; there was a nice gaping hole that could permit a full-grown man to squeeze through. There was now a possible way out if Scarlet could only get past the wolf who had plans to kill him.
He breathed slowly, watching Werewolf Green’s movements carefully. He needed to slip around him without getting caught. The injury to his shoulder was now painless and was knitting itself back together. His back no longer cramped with pain.
Green paused mid-step, his yellow eyes watching his prey. He had shaken off the soreness in his lower back and was determined to catch Scarlet. No more fun and games, he was ready for the kill.
He leapt at his prey, claws ready to meet flesh but the captain moved fast. Scarlet dived forward, straight underneath the beast and rolled on his good shoulder. He scrambled onto his feet, not giving the animal time to think, and charged towards the bent cage bars; he squeezed through them, and dropped out into the open, met by the rain that came blasting down onto him.
Scarlet had gained his freedom but was now desperately worried about where Stein had taken Rhapsody; he needed to find her. His thoughts were disturbed as he watched Green advance to the bent bars and gripping them with his strong clawed hands and pulling. A high pitched whine echoed as the metal bent further apart, to the point that the wolf’s bulk would be able to squeeze through.
The chase wasn’t over yet.
Scarlet had to worry about Rhapsody later; right now, his own life was still at stake. He needed to get away.
He was about to break into a run when a bullet was fired close to his right foot, stopping him in his tracks. He turned slowly around to see Syrn. His eyes were levelled down the barrel of a gun, as the man was approaching him.
“You’re not going anywhere, Captain.” The Russian man spoke slowly and impiously. “Doctor Stein is intent on seeing you dead, so he had me make sure you met your demise.” The gun clicked to reload. “Whatever way came at hand.”
Scarlet stood his ground. “The only ones who will be dead around here are you and the dear doctor.” He narrowed his eyes as he spat the words out at Syrn.
“On the contrary, I’d say the boot is on the other foot.” The Russian aimed again, this time levelling the gun with Scarlet’s head.
There was a deep, foreboding growl emitting from the cage Scarlet had escaped, and Syrn, who was now in line with it as he had approached Scarlet, stared up at the angry yellow eyes resting on him. In a flash of dark fur, Green was on top of the Russian man, who screamed in complete terror.
Scarlet backed away, horrified. Green would never forgive himself if he ever realised what he had done in the werewolf form.
Blood spilled over the wet ground and mixed with the rain, draining away in thin patterns like small streams splitting away from the sea. The sound of teeth and claws tearing flesh apart was enough to get Scarlet running from the scene. He didn't want to stick around to see if this one kill was enough to satisfy the wolf's bloodthirsty fury.
Once Green had turned from Syrn's bloodied body, his instincts told him to go after the captain, not to let him get away. The hunt was on as he chased after Scarlet, who was heading out into the woods as fast as he could.
He bobbed and wove between the trees in an effort to escape. He knew the monstrous werewolf wasn’t too far behind. He could feel him like a rush of power following over his skin. Heavy panting and ragged growls vibrated through the woodland groves. The thunder roared again and the rain didn’t hold up as it pounded down on everything on the ground, turning the soil into sloppy mud.
Scarlet was having a hard time staying upright without feeling he’d slip and fall into the deep mud patches. There were many sloping areas that dipped down in different directions. They were made up of lots of trees packed close together in their own small crevices. The rain had turned the land into a thick horde of unstable mud paths that squelched under foot. Scarlet had to grab out for trees for support as he dodged through the pathways, in his attempt to escape.
He came out into a small opening, catching his breath, leaning over as the sweat dripped off him in large droplets.
He looked about. From what little moonlight had got through the large spacious branches hanging high above him, he could see the frame of the large werewolf rush in his direction. He slowly backed off, watching Green come into the clearing, his fur slopped against his large body covered in rain and mud. The werewolf bared blood soaked teeth, the blood dripping ominously down his muzzle.
Scarlet backed away towards the safety of a thicket of trees growing in a tight formation. This prompted Green to stalk on towards him, the rumbling in his throat growing ever louder.
Scarlet gripped the chain wrapped onto his arm and gently let some hang loose. He needed some form of protection against Green even though he didn’t want to hurt his friend in any way; but at the moment his ‘friend’ wanted to tear him to shreds.
A claw lashed out, scoring deep slashes in a tree; the bark tore off, as if it had been a curtain pulled away from its flimsy rail.
Scarlet lashed out the chain like a whip in self-defence to try and make the wolf back off. It caught the large arm and Green roared out, lashing out again, swiping nothing but air.
Scarlet again used the chain, but missed; instead, it was caught by Green, who gripped it tightly. He brusquely pulled the captain towards him, and the latter fell down onto his knees in front of the giant creature.
Scarlet tugged the chain, but it was wrapped tight to his arm and held against the shackles on his wrists; he was at the mercy of the ruthless wolf Green had become.
Another crash of lightning lit up the clearing in a bright white glow, so close it was blinding. The lightning bolt had stuck the high branches of the tree towering over them.
A fire began to burn on the thick branches, breaking them away in a furious snap, sending a horde of heavy wood tumbling down. Green looked up, flattening his ears down on his head, loosening his grip on the chain so Scarlet could move out of the way as the branches bombarded the wolf. Branch after branch crashed against Green, dropping him down to the ground under the crushing weight.
Scarlet sat mesmerised as the rain still poured heavily. Green didn’t move; he only groaned slightly before falling silent.
Was he dead? Scarlet doubted it. Just unconscious, most probably.
He dragged himself to his feet, slipping slightly in the mud.
He needed to get back to the mansion and quickly. Rhapsody was in grave danger.
There was some kind of a laboratory, on the second floor, in the east wing of the mansion. Rhapsody had never been there. Her room, where she had rested, along with the one that had been given to the other officers, and the infirmary, were all in the west wing. The door leading to the east wing had always been closed, and she had often seen Stein or Syrn going there.
After she had witnessed the brutal attack on Captain Scarlet, Rhapsody had been brought and kept there, imprisoned in a sterilized cage, with steel bars. She didn’t know what had happened to her fiancé, nor to Lieutenant Green, whom she had not seen since she had left him in the recovery room this morning. She was deeply worried for them and for herself as well, as she didn’t know what Stein’s plans for them all could be.
She had some suspicions about her own situation. Some hours ago, before leaving her all alone, the doctor had explained about the so-called ‘virus’ he had previously told her she had been infected with – telling her that it was, in fact, a ‘werewolf meta-gene’ that had been passed to her, following a werewolf attack. He had explained to her about the ‘serum’ and how he had ‘treated’ her with it. She didn’t know exactly about the ramifications that could apply to her, she didn’t understand it fully, and frankly, she was afraid to actually learn more about it. Afraid to learn that she could turn herself into a bloodthirsty monster, and that she would kill anybody in her path, without recognition. Afraid that it had actually happened the preceding night, when Paul had found her running in the woods, needlessly, when poor Seymour had been attacked.
At the moment, she was already feeling bad, feverish, drenched with sweat, her eyes were misty, and she was dreadfully thirsty. She feared – no, she was certain – that it had something to do with her present condition. She had been like that for the last couple of hours. That was nothing to reassure her at all. And that wasn’t helping her any, as she was presently working desperately with a hairpin on the lock of the cage she was imprisoned in.
Her heart filled of concern for her fellow Spectrum agents and herself, she was determined to get out and find a way to stop Stein from whatever he was planning to do to them. She was growing more and more impatient as the minutes passed, much too slowly to her taste. She finally heard a small click and thought her efforts had paid off. She was about to try pushing the door open when she heard footsteps approaching. She drew back, away from the door, so the person coming won’t discover what she was up to, and waited. She was expecting to see Stein appear on the other side of those bars, but she was very surprised when she finally saw who the newcomer was.
Young Jaak had stopped just a foot away from the bars, looking at her calmly, without any expression on his face. He was just staring at her, coldly enough, and she stared back, rolling furious eyes. He had been there when she had been captured. In fact, he was the one who had struck Captain Scarlet so violently when he was about to enter the house.
“So, you have come to check on the very rare animal I have become now?” the Angel pilot almost spat in disgust at the young man.
“Rhapsody…” The cold look then flickered. Jaak suddenly seemed uneasy. “I’m really sorry for all this happening…”
“Are you really?” Rhapsody replied, icily. “How can I believe you, after you attacked Captain Scarlet so savagely?”
“You have to understand me! I was driven mad with jealousy…”
The stare she was addressing him turned into a very perplexed one. “Jealousy?” she repeated, unsure if she had understood. “What are you trying to say?”
“I’m trying to say that…” Jaak hesitated a moment, and looked away, suddenly intimidated. “I fell in love with you.”
Rhapsody’s brow furrowed. “You ‘fell in love’ with me?” she repeated again. She was astounded. “Was that what you tried to tell me during the day?”
“In a way,” he murmured. “I was rather clumsy…”
“Jaak… How did you come up with that? I’ve never led you to anything that might indicate…”
“It’s not you, it’s me,” he interrupted her. “From the first time I saw you. From the moment I saw what the… ‘creature’ did to you.”
“The ‘creature’. The ‘werewolf’, you mean.”
He nodded, silently.
“If you love me, like you claim you do,” Rhapsody declared bitterly, waving at her surroundings, “how can you let Stein do this to me? How can you have hurt Captain Scarlet the way you did?”
Jaak’s eyes glittered ominously. “I saw you two kissing on the path,” he said, with an almost growling tone. “And I remembered what you told me about the two of you. I saw red. I had to do something to keep you away from him. Even if it means…” He let the sentence hang.
Rhapsody’s eyes opened wide with unbelief. The gentle young man, who had treated her wounds after that werewolf’s attack, who had taken such good care of her, who had just admitted he was in love with her, had been so driven mad with resentment and jealousy that he had found himself ready to kill for her. By the way he was averting his eyes, not looking straight at her, unable to face her reproving look, she could see he wasn’t too proud of this now.
“You really thought that killing him would bring me closer to you?” she said, accusation in her voice.
“Rhapsody, we’re destined to be with each other.”
“I should think NOT. And what can give you such an idea?”
“Please, don’t shun me … You’ll see; everything will be all right. Doctor Stein will make it so.”
Rhapsody left her position and drew closer to the bars. The cage was cramped enough, too low for her to stand up fully. She had to stay on her knees. “Jaak,” she told the young man more gently, but in a tone where reproach was still very manifest, “HOW can you trust that man, after all he’s done?”
“All he’s done?” Jaak murmured, frowning.
She sighed, leaning her forehead against the bars. “Look at me. I’m in a cage, feeling sick. I don’t know if I’ll transform into that werewolf creature and that’s scaring the hell out of me!”
“You won’t transform,” Jaak told the young woman, with a reassuring voice. “The doctor gave you the serum. He says you’re responding well to the treatment.”
“Is that why I’m feeling so sick?”
“I… don’t know. Probably. Rhapsody, the doctor’s a wonderful man. He’ll see that you’ll be all right. He promised it to me. He wouldn’t hurt you.”
“What about my friends?” Jaak didn’t answer, and suddenly looked embarrassed. Rhapsody shook her head, understandingly. “That’s what I thought,” she said coldly.
“And I’m not so sure he wouldn’t hurt me, Jaak. He’s the one responsible for me being here in the first place!”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Ask him about that cannon he used to shoot my aircraft down,” Rhapsody said with an accusing tone.
“Cannon?” Jaak asked, obviously confused.
“Ask him where it comes from, and WHY he shot me down in the first place,” Rhapsody went on with anger and frustration. “What is it, was he afraid that, just by flying over his island I’d discover the strange things that have been going on there? He certainly didn’t expect me to survive that attack and to end up here! I wondered how he took it when he learnt about me being attacked by that creature. Was he upset? Or was he glad? Maybe he thought I would be a fine addition to his little zoo, another guinea pig to work on and examine…”
“Stop it!” Jaak was genuinely confused. Rhapsody figured she had told him things he didn’t know about, or had not thought of all by himself. Obviously the youth was so taken in his admiration for Stein that he had not caught on to his real motives. And now, with the truth being handed to him with so much force, he was denying it, obstinately. “Doctor Stein is a wonderful man,” he argued forcefully. “He’s a genius. Without him, I… I don’t know what I would have become. I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you, that’s for sure. You don’t have ANY idea what he has done for me!”
Then it hit Rhapsody in the face. What he has done for me… We’re destined to each other… And those words he had told her during the day, just after her fight with Paul… they suddenly took a new meaning to her. It wasn’t only coming from a lovesick young man. There was something else. Instinctively, without even wanting it, she drew back. “My God… It was you.”
Jaak’s eyes glittered, upon hearing the barely concealed horror behind the Angel pilot’s murmur. Then the horror made way to a feeling of compassion, so evident that a pang of pain clutched the young man’s heart. He didn’t want her pity. He wanted for her to love him.
“You’re the werewolf,” Rhapsody realized. “You’re the one who attacked me in those woods… And who attacked Green, the following day.”
He nodded, acknowledging the accusation. He looked away, again. “I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I couldn’t control myself. When I’m like that, all I can feel is anger… rage… bloodlust. I can barely remember what I have done, when I… come back to normal.” He stared at Rhapsody, hurt in his eyes. “When I was told that I nearly had killed you, I felt so horrified…”
“You don’t remember?”
Jaak hesitated. "I never remember these things very clearly. It's like they're part of a very bad dream..." He shook his head, not wanting to elaborate. "I helped Doctor Stein the best I could, so you would heal promptly. I was so afraid that you would die. And I knew that I had passed the gene to you as well. I was feeling so guilty. Doctor Stein reassured me, telling me that the serum would help you…”
“How can you be so sure he was telling you the truth?” Rhapsody asked. “What makes you think that he can actually help me?”
“He has helped ME,” Jaak answered with a faint smile. “Look, at the same time last night, the werewolf was running free in the woods… ready to kill whoever it would come across. Tonight, I didn’t change. I don’t feel the urge to kill. For the first time of my life, I’m in control of the beast. I won’t let it free. Thanks to the doctor’s wonderful serum.”
Rhapsody gave a deep sigh. It was so frustrating. How could this young man be so naïve? Why couldn’t he see that Stein was only ‘treating’ him, because it was a means for him to study his condition? How could she hope to convince Jaak that he was being manipulated?
“Jaak, he’s only doing it for his own purposes,” she tried again. “Don’t you see he’s using you? He’s using you like he’s using everybody else. All he wants to do is conduct his experiments, and he’s ready to do ANYTHING for that.”
“You’re trying to turn me against him!” Jaak growled furiously.
“No, I’m not…” Rhapsody stopped, realizing that, indeed, it was what she was trying to do. She sighed again. “I’m trying to get you to see the truth. Please, Jaak, open your eyes before it’s too late. Help me get out of here. I’ve got to find my friends and put a stop to Stein’s research.”
Jaak’s eyes had turned very icy. He obviously was still adamant to the Angel’s plea. “You don’t know what you’re asking of me,” he answered. “I can’t betray the doctor. I owe him too much. I simply won’t do it, so you’d better forget about that. As for your friends… I’m afraid it’s already too late.”
Rhapsody blanched. “What do you mean?” she asked with concern. “Where are they? What happened to them?”
“The last I saw of them, they were about to engage in a… very interesting exchange.”
That was Stein’s voice that had answered. The doctor appeared in the doorway at this moment, addressing a mysterious smile to the young woman. Jaak didn’t even flinch when Stein came to stand next to him. He was only looking at Rhapsody.
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Rhapsody snapped, eyeing Stein with blazing eyes. She was very determined not to show him she was afraid. He didn’t answer her question. “You killed them,” she stated trying not to shiver.
“No. Not yet. They’re serving for a fascinating experience, Fräulein. As you will.”
That didn’t reassure Rhapsody. She went pale. “What have you done to them?”
“You shouldn’t concern yourself about them anymore,” he declared rather coldly. That was all he said on the subject. Rhapsody understood that she wouldn’t be able to find out more about it for the moment.
“You’re going to tell me that I should be more concerned about myself?” she asked with the same tone as his.
“Now, why do you have those ugly thoughts? You don’t have to be afraid… I will not harm you. You’re much more too precious to me.”
She rolled angry eyes. “Yes, I bet. Coming from you, Herr Doktor, I must say it really isn’t comforting.” She looked on as he moved toward a worktable covered with a multitude of instruments and equipment. Jaak was standing still, his eyes fixed on Rhapsody. The latter watched in concern, as Stein chose a small bottle, containing an opaque blue liquid, and then took a syringe. “What do you want from me?”
He smiled at her, briefly and returned his attention to his work. He filled the syringe with the liquid contained in the bottle. Her concern for her safety growing, Rhapsody checked the door, briefly; she wasn’t even sure it had been unlocked. She decided to wait for the right time to test this. In any case, she couldn’t do it now, with Jaak watching her so closely. He would stop her the second she opened the door.
A beeping sound coming from an electronic board, complete with numerous screens set on the opposite wall, caught everybody’s attention. The screens presented multiple angles of the mansion, inside and out. A security system, Rhapsody realized. There must be cameras all over the place. She could see the Spectrum Helicopter next to the pier, struck by the furious waves, as the storm raged on over the lake. There was a yellow light blinking in the middle of the board. Stein frowned and strode toward the board, checking on the indications it was giving him. He grumbled something and pressed a few buttons. The camera of one of his screens, the one in his zoo, changed, and Stein let out a muffled curse. Something’s happening, Rhapsody thought. Could it be…?
Jaak had left his place in front of Rhapsody’s cage to stand next to the doctor, in front of the board.
“My boy, I will need you out there,” Stein told him quietly. “Something’s afoot.”
“What exactly, doctor?”
“I can’t say exactly,” Stein murmured. “It’s difficult to see, but… it seems that some of the bars from the cage we put our friends into has been ruptured…”
“No. In theory, Mister Syrn should be checking this.” Stein pushed again the same series of buttons. “But I can’t raise him. He’s supposed to keep in radio contact with me. It could be the weather… You’ll have to go and check what’s going on. And if need be… you know what to do.”
“Is that safe, doctor?” Jaak asked carefully. “I mean…”
“I know what you mean.” Stein turned toward the young man. “You don’t have to be afraid of losing control. I told you, it won’t happen. My studies of Rhapsody and Lieutenant Green’s conditions have permitted me to find a way to modify the serum, so you’ll be able to keep control of the beast inside you. You haven’t changed tonight, right?” He put his hand on Jaak’s chest, over his heart. “You trust me, don’t you, my boy?”
“Yes, of course, Doctor,” Jaak answered, with just one flicker of hesitation.
“Good. You must then believe me when I say that you have control of the beast now. You can trigger the metamorphosis by yourself. And you won’t lose yourself in the beast anymore. You’ll feel the rage, but you’ll be able to control it.”
“I… can’t help feeling afraid, doctor,” Jaak murmured. “After so much time trying to escape the beast, to actually let it loose willingly…”
“I know. It will be a new experience for you.” Stein patted the young man’s shoulder. “You’ll do it. And you’ll do what you must, if it should come to it.”
“I’ve never killed before, doctor,” Jaak murmured again. “I mean, it was always the beast. Not me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”
“You’ll pull it through. You’ll just have to let your instincts act for you. And don’t ask yourself any questions.”
Jaak nodded quietly. “I will do as you ask, Doctor.”
Stein patted him again, encouragingly. Jaak just gave one last glance toward Rhapsody. She had heard every last word of what they had said to each other. “You’ll take care of her, Doctor?”
“Of course, my boy. Now go.”
Jaak went on his way, disappearing through the door; Stein watched him go, then went back to his worktable, and took up the syringe he had previously filled. Rhapsody was still watching him worriedly, wondering what he was up to.
“You’re good at lying to the boy, aren’t you, Herr Doktor?” she asked matter-of-factly.
“What makes you say I lied to him?”
“A feeling, actually. Let me guess when he ‘lets loose the beast’… he won’t really be able to control it, will he?”
Stein gave the faintest of smiles. “You must have been a detective in a previous life, dear Fräulein,” he deadpanned. “Let’s say… I made a… slight mistake, while mixing the different components of the serum.”
“A calculated mistake, I’m sure,” Rhapsody replied.
“Jaak will believe it to be an accident on my part. And there’s nothing you’ll be able to say to convince him otherwise.”
“I already noticed how you had him eating out of your hand, Doctor. That naïve young man trusts you implicitly. He won’t betray you, but you don’t have any scruples about betraying him!”
Stein shrugged. “The boy knows he owes me much. He won’t be suspicious of any misdeed. As for your friends, if they’re loose, they don’t stand a chance.” He checked the quantity of liquid in his syringe, then stepped toward Rhapsody. She was apprehensively watching his approach.
“What about me? You’re planning to kill me too?”
“I told you, Rhapsody: I still have need of you.”
“You never told me what you wanted of me exactly.”
“What I want from you, my dear, is quite simple. I want you for selective breeding.”
She rolled astounded eyes. “Are you crazy?”
“Not at all. I’ll explain myself. As I have told you earlier, my contract stipulated that I am to create the ultimate werewolf soldier, who would possess the rage, powers, and all the attributes of the beast, and who would also be able to keep a human mind, to control it.”
“That’s why you created that serum,” Rhapsody noted. “I was wondering what you wanted it for.”
Stein kept quiet for a moment, as if thoughtful, following the pilot’s statement. Than he cleared his throat.
“There are several degrees to my serum,” he explained. “Up until now, it has been successful at different levels. But it doesn’t prove sufficient to achieve my goal of creating that perfect wolf soldier. At least, not by itself. I need another angle. That’s where you come in. The particular solution of the serum I had used for you has caused the meta-gene to stay dormant within you. A stronger solution may even suppress the gene completely, eventually… But that’s not important, as far as you’re concerned…”
That had Rhapsody pricking up her ears. Suppress? Why on Earth would Stein want to suppress the gene? The doctor, in the meantime, was continuing his explanation. “Because of it, you haven’t changed into the beast yet, although you have been feeling symptoms related to the werewolf’s condition. That’s why you’re so feverish now, and feeling sick. You were the same, last night. But the symptoms were stronger, and somehow different. You felt the urge to go out and run free into the woods. Maybe you even chased after a rabbit, who knows? But of course, you don’t remember that…”
Okay, that answers one question, Rhapsody thought, listening carefully to Stein’s rambling, and still keeping her eyes fixed on him, as he stopped in front of her prison.
“The symptoms have lessened, tonight, which means you’re getting better control,” Stein continued. “Now, for that selective breeding project I was telling you about: I have at hand a genuine werewolf, provided by my sponsors: Jaak. He was born with the meta-gene; he didn’t inherit it from a werewolf attack. He’s a ‘pure breed’, so to speak. But even as so, The meta-gene in him is still fairly unstable. There is little he can do to control the changes and the rage of the beast inside him. Tonight, with him keeping his human aspect although the moon is full, is only one of my small successes, but unfortunately, they never last. I need a specimen with a more stable DNA. With Jaak’s pure bred DNA and yours, containing the modified, dormant werewolf meta-gene, I should be able to create offspring which would possess a human mind able to dominate and control the beast’s rage.”
“You ARE crazy,” Rhapsody murmured. “How can you believe that I would agree to be a part of this?”
Stein sighed heavily. “I don’t think you have the choice, my dear.” He smiled coldly. “Jaak is quite WILLING to participate more actively. It seems the boy is very fond of you. Maybe he could still convince you.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Rhapsody replied between clenched teeth. “I will not take part in this abomination.”
“That’s too bad… But it doesn’t matter, really. I can easily take what I need from you without your consent. An ovule to fertilize with Jaak’s semen. The specimen would simply mature in a gestation chamber. You see, I certainly don’t need your cooperation.”
“So you’re going to drug me with that?” Rhapsody asked, nodding toward the syringe he held in his hand.
“That?” Stein laughed mockingly. “Oh, that’s not for you. He plunged his hand into the pocket of his vest and showed her another syringe, filled with a transparent liquid. “THIS is for you. And you don’t have to worry. It won’t hurt you at all.” He put it back in his pocket, and then showed her the other syringe. “As for this other one…”
Before Rhapsody’ startled eyes, he used the syringe on himself, clenching his teeth as he injected the serum into his left arm. He grunted when he finished, and threw the syringe away from him, before staring with glimmering eyes at the stunned Angel.
“Now you know why I was doing all this research for a serum, to suppress the werewolf’s influence, and even destroy the meta-gene, in parallel with my experiments to create a wolf-soldier,” Stein declared with a growling sound. “I was infected with the gene, early on during my experiments. During one of his sudden raging spells, Jaak bit me severely and passed it onto me. Since then, I’ve been working desperately to suppress my werewolf-side and to find a cure for myself. And I may have found it, seeing how it has worked with you. I just have to wait and see to be sure. I already underwent the metamorphosis in the past, and that changed the human metabolism. While you never changed yourself. Maybe the serum won’t work on me as well as on you.”
“You’re truly mad, Doctor,” Rhapsody replied, her brow furrowed. “Sicker than I thought...”
“Sick? I may be, Fräulein. But I KNOW what I want…”
Stein’s features hardened, as he took the second syringe from his pocket, to show it to Rhapsody. The young woman braced herself. “Now you will be quiet while I make this injection,” he told her. “I don’t want to, but as you know now, I can be very disagreeable with you, if you don’t behave and upset me. I may lose control…”
With that ominous threat, Stein made a step forward toward the young woman. Maybe he was expecting for her to draw back and flee to the far side of the cage. That wasn’t at all what happened. His free hand had grabbed one of the bars of the door when suddenly it flew open, right in his face, pushed with tremendous strength by the desperate Angel. Stein heavily fell on his back, half-stunned. Grateful that she had actually succeeded to unlock that door a little earlier, Rhapsody found that now was the perfect time to make her escape. She jumped out of the cage, stepped over the fallen doctor and ran toward the open door, leading out of the room. She had reached it when she suddenly heard a growling sound behind her that made her stop and look over her shoulders.
Stein was on his hands and knees on the floor, where he had fallen, and seemed to be tormenting with tremendous pain. His face was creased with deep lines, his teeth clenched and his eyes shut tight. He gave a loud cry and suddenly hugged himself, shivering. “It’s not… working!” He said with a struggling voice, breathing hard. “I can… feel it.”
Rhapsody’s eyes opened wide in horror as she saw the doctor’s face starting to deform. She didn’t wait to see what would happen next; she had a pretty good idea, anyway. She already had been witness and victim of a werewolf’s murderous rage. She didn’t want to stick around when Stein completed his transformation.
She turned on her heel and made a run for it.
But she was in an unfamiliar corridor, and she didn’t know what direction she should take. She made a wild guess and turned left, running as fast as her legs could carry her, despite the fever burning in her.
The corridor ended at a closed door. She stopped in front of it, trying to open it, but it refused to open. It was locked, and she didn’t have the time to work on the lock. She had taken the wrong turn, then, she realized with dread. She backed away for a few yards, trying another door, hoping she would find an exit, or at least a safe place where she would be able to hide herself. Rapid footsteps made themselves heard from the far end of the corridor – the way she had come from. Then, a frustrated roar. Rhapsody went pale. Xander Stein, now a werewolf, was in hot pursuit. And it was so dark; she couldn’t see him coming.
After a couple of fruitless efforts, the second door suddenly opened wide; she gave a sigh of relief and stepped out into the main landing above the large entrance hallway.
Lightning flashed through a nearby window, and then she saw the stairway, not far from her. With renewed hope, she swiftly made her way towards it.
She had reached the top of the stair when a growling sound made itself heard behind her; she nervously looked back. A new flash of lightning through the window lit a threatening silhouette, in the doorway she had just left.
Stein was close on her tail, snarling angrily at her. She was panic-stricken, backing down the first step, ultimately feeling her heart lurch as she lost her footing.
She suddenly couldn’t feel the floor anymore beneath her feet. She fell forward, and suddenly found herself rolling down the staircase. Instinctively, she covered her head with her forearms and hands, in order to protect herself from either being knocked unconscious or breaking her neck. She landed roughly at the bottom of the steps, her back taking the full brunt of it. She grunted in pain; she was hurting all over. She lay there, motionless, trying to regain her breath and her senses.
That was when she heard the ominous, echoing growl, up the stairs. Raising her eyes, even in the darkness, she could see two yellow, glowing eyes set on her. And beneath them, there was the glittering vision of very sharp teeth.
She swallowed hard, and her heart skipped a beat. She was wondering how she could escape now.
Whilst the later events at the mansion were taking place, Scarlet was struggling through the muddy paths in the woods, not knowing how badly Rhapsody was in danger. He feared for her, hoping he could find her in time before anything dire was to happen.
The man was soaked from head to toe in the non-stop battering rain, and he shivered heavily as he trekked on through the trees. Mud coated his uniform, hiding the red and black with a deep brown layer. He had been finding it difficult to get through the surroundings, now becoming more of an assault course with dips and turns altered by the bad weather to become treacherous slopes. Scarlet wasn’t in the least bit surprised to find that, in some cases, he’d slip and fall into the ankle deep mud. The land was that bad.
He staggered through a sticky area of growth, which, he concluded, was close to the mansion. He held onto a tree for support, looking up at the darkening sky, as the full moon kept disappearing behind dark clouds. The thunder roared loudly and every now and then, lightning lit his path.
He clambered carefully up a steep part of the pathway, pushing himself upward against the trees. He searched the near pitch black for any signs that Green or any other werewolf could be following him. He jumped, struck with shock as a dark figure stepped through the trees directly in front of him.
He stepped back instinctively, ready to defend himself but lost his step and slipped back, banging his back against a tree, and finding himself sitting in a small mud puddle. He groaned in pain and looked up, shuffling back with the chain gripped between his hands. The figure stepped forwards; the voice that spoke to the captain stopped him. He recognised it.
“Captain Scarlet?” the person asked.
The whole section of the wood lit up in a flash of lightning, followed by the demonic sound of thunder. Edgar’s concerned face stared at the captain, a gun resting at his side.
“Are you all right?”
He held his free hand to Scarlet, offering to help him up. The captain suspiciously eyed the man standing in front of him, wondering if he should trust him. When he had first seen him, a second before, he was fully expecting him to shoot him down with his rifle. Seeing that Edgar was presenting his hand insistently, Scarlet accepted it, and pulled himself up on his unsteady feet. The chain rattled noisily and Edgar looked down to the shackled wrists. He pulled out a key from his pocket, and proceeded to unlock the restraints.
“We need to act fast, Captain,” he declared. “If we are to stop Doctor Stein…” He took a revolver tucked into his belt and gave it to a perplexed Scarlet who eyed it with curiosity. It wasn’t his hand weapon.
“It’s loaded with silver bullets,” Edgar declared swiftly. “As is my rifle. It’s the only thing that can kill a werewolf. I thought you would need some kind of leverage when you come face to face with…”
He didn’t have time to say more. Scarlet suddenly grabbed him by the collar of his vest, and roughly pushed him against a tree, tearing the rifle from his hand. Edgar gasped in surprise, obviously not expecting that. He looked in the captain’s furious eyes.
“How about I use that on you?” Scarlet growled, cocking the hammer of his newly-acquired weapon and pointing it right under the man’s nose.
“Please, Captain!” Edgar pleaded with urgency in his tone. “I’m on your side…”
“Give me ONE reason to TRUST you!” Scarlet snapped in anger, tightening his grip on the man’s collar. “You work for Stein. For all I know, you’re in league with him.”
“I’m not,” Edgar whimpered. “I should have helped you before, but I couldn’t… I didn’t dare!”
“You were afraid?”
“Yes. Yes, deadly afraid. You don’t know… You don’t know what that man is capable of. I warned you, Captain. I told you there was more to that virus than Stein let on to you!”
“I know about Stein’s work, Edgar,” Scarlet said ominously. “About the experiments to create a ‘werewolf soldier’. About the human guinea pigs.” Scarlet spat out the last two words in disgust. “What’s your angle in all this, Edgar? Why are you working for that scum? What’s in it for you?”
Edgar hesitated a brief instant, gazing into the blazing eyes of Scarlet; he swallowed hard. “He has promised me help,” he murmured finally with an oppressed voice. “My son, Captain…”
“Jaak? He’s working for Stein too, isn’t he?”
Edgar briefly nodded, and sighed. “He’s a werewolf,” he then declared. “He has been since the day he was born. Stein… He had promised to cure him.”
Scarlet let go of Edgar; he scrutinised the man closely. No, he’s not lying to me, he reflected, seeing his depressed features. Edgar looked exactly like a man who had lost everything, and who was now realising fully the full extent of his loss. He looked up miserably to the captain.
“Doctor Stein promised to cure Jaak,” he repeated, “in exchange for the possibility of studying him, and using him for his experiments. It was some years ago. I was so desperate to cure my son, that I would have accepted anything. I didn’t realise it would mean selling my soul.” He looked down in shame. “The horrors I’ve seen that man do… Yes, he used human guinea pigs. At the beginning, he told me they were other unfortunate souls, like Jaak, in need of being cured. Then, after a while, he didn’t even pretend anymore. And I… I couldn’t do anything. So I looked the other way and hoped that he would eventually find a cure for my son.”
“He never did,” Scarlet realised.
“Oh, he did find something,” Edgar sighed. “He created some kind of a serum…”
“He told me about that,” Scarlet cut in. “So he would be able to create his ‘werewolf-soldier’.” He looked down at his weapon, thoughtful. “He also told me that, by lacing it with a silver-based solution, he was hopeful that, in the right combination, the human mind of a subject would be able to keep control of the wolf side.”
“He hasn’t found the right combination so far,” Edgar murmured. “The last one he was working on… Mister Syrn told me that it might not work on someone who had already undergone the metamorphosis. That wouldn’t help Jaak. But that monster had told him otherwise. He’s been lying to him, as he’s been lying to me, feeding us with false hope. He has not lived up to his promise to cure my son. He just wants to keep using him.”
“And that surprises you?” Scarlet grumbled bitterly. “He’s using everybody, mate. Your son. Yourself. Green. Rhapsody…”
“I know. I know. I just want to put a stop to all this, Captain. This has gone too far. I want to help you… I want to make amends.” He nodded towards the woods. “Your friend, Green… He transformed into the wolf…”
“Yes, he did,” Scarlet stated gloomily. “He tried to kill me. I miraculously escaped him, when a tree fell on him, and knocked him out. I’m not even sure he’s still alive.”
“Don’t presume anything. He’s a werewolf. He could survive things that would kill the toughest human being.”
Scarlet didn’t answer to that; he saw Edgar pointing to his rifle. “The silver bullets, Captain. That only could kill a werewolf. I’ve been keeping them with me for years, in the eventuality that I would need them for…” His voice trailed off, apparently unable to finish the sentence. Scarlet understood that he was probably keeping the special ammunition for his own son. “I never dared use them before,” Edgar continued. “Even with any of the specimens that serves for Stein’s experiments. But now, I want to make amends. I’m ready to do anything that’s needed.”
Scarlet examined the load of his hand weapon. He could see the bright silvery-coloured bullets in the cylinder. He nodded and put the weapon in his empty holster. He then let Edgar take back his own gun.
“There isn’t much we can do to help your friend Green,” the man commented. “So if you ever find yourself in front of him, or any other werewolf…”
“You let me decide what to do with my colleague, Edgar,” Scarlet replied harshly. “For now, he isn’t the one I’m most concerned about. I want to find Rhapsody…”
Edgar nodded. “Stein must have taken her into his laboratory,” he explained. “I don’t know exactly what he wants with her, but since she was attacked that night she landed here… by a wandering werewolf… He’s been VERY interested in her.”
That declaration made Scarlet very nervous. “ We must find her before it’s too late. Lead me to the house, Edgar,” he demanded with an urgent voice.
Edgar nodded again; he and Scarlet turned towards the mansion, heading up the slushy mud path, but it was barely a heartbeat later as a blur of brown fur charged straight through the trees. Scarlet turned his head just in time to see fangs and yellow eyes glow at him. He was sent tumbling backwards, slipping in the mud. The wolf skidded to a stop, turning around and crawling through the thick sodden soil.
Scarlet rolled onto his elbows and tried to stand up. He felt for the gun in his holster and realized it was gone, now somewhere in the mud. He cursed angrily and started to slip back as the wolf approached him. He stared into the eyes of the wolf. Dread filled his heart.
Could it be Rhapsody? He hoped to God it wasn’t.
Drool crept down the edges of the wolf’s lips as a deep foreboding growl coiled from its throat, throwing at Scarlet hate that boiled inside its heart.
The beast rose up carefully over Scarlet, howling angrily, ready to sink its teeth into the man’s flesh, to acknowledge the need to kill him. It reached down with a large claw and managed to catch the captain around the neck as he tried to get away. Scarlet was pulled up towards the snarling beast, hardly being able to breathe through the tight grip.
“Rhapsody…” Scarlet could barely get the word out, watching the beast’s eyes narrow and the snarling pick up ever more. He now really believed it was her.
“JAAK!” Edgar cried between them. The beast turned his gaze from Scarlet.
It suddenly became clear who it was after all.
“Please, Jaak,” Edgar pleaded, daring to aim his gun at the monster supposed to be his son. “You don’t want to hurt anyone, you’ve never been like that. Don’t you see how Stein has manipulated you into this?”
Jaak roared at his father and his grip tightened around Scarlet’s neck. The captain now found himself choking, his lungs burning. He suddenly felt himself out of the deadly grip, and his shoulder hitting the nearest tree. He cried out, and doubled over onto his side, looking up briefly to see Jaak advancing on his father.
“Listen to me, Jaak! See what you’re doing! He’d said you’d have control, but even now you are acting like the beast, instinct and all!” Edgar shouted out towards his son.
Jaak froze up, looking at his father with uncertain eyes. Everything was so wrong to him inside; his urges were still so strong, and things weren’t totally in his own perspectives. He glanced back and forth between Scarlet and his father and lowered down to all fours, deeply confused. He was certain now he was following the beast, being taken along for a ride. He’d been tricked. He cried out, bringing his head down to the woodland floor, paws pressed to his skull. His anger, fear and doubt pressured inside his head.
“Please, understand the truth…” Edgar spoke softly.
Jaak finally lifted his head to look up at Edgar, unsure what to do; he began to take steady steps forwards. He wanted to feed the bloodthirsty urge to kill but he couldn’t do it, not his own father. He could feel the bloodlust filling his form, as he fought the urges within him. He turned back to Scarlet and froze in his steps. He didn’t have the heart to kill the Spectrum captain. No, that one was close to Rhapsody. And he wouldn’t hurt Rhapsody. Then he completely paused, just hovering on the name.
His ears pricked up suddenly, his head scouting about, his senses going crazy. Something was happening. Stein… Rhapsody…
He took off through the woods as fast as he could, leaving the two men standing there stunned, especially Scarlet who had just managed to climb to his feet, pain wracking his side.
“What just happened?” inquired the captain, limping towards Edgar. He kicked something under his foot and found it to be the revolver; he bent down carefully to pick it up. A bit late to have found it, if Jaak had proceeded to kill him.
“Stein has used my son like a pawn, Captain,” Edgar’s words were shaking with fury. “Jaak wanted to be able to control the wolf but Stein must have done something to the serum. Thank God, I was able to reach my son through the animal instincts. He understands now.”
“Come on,” Scarlet grabbed Edgar’s arm. “We need to find Rhapsody now. Let’s get back to the mansion.”
Rhapsody was crawling backwards weakly, staring up at the descending werewolf Stein. Her body was battered and bruised from toppling down the flight of stairs; thankfully, she hadn’t been too badly injured. But it added to the ever-growing weakness inside her, the fever making her blood boil red-hot. Sweat dripped down her pale face.
Stein watched her, smelling her fear like a perfume; it urged him on towards her, descending the steps, careful not to make her mistake.
Rhapsody couldn’t get up and run like she wished she could. Her legs felt so sore and stiff; she could barely move herself as it was, relying on sheer will to survive to keep her body moving.
Please God, don’t let him near me, she thought, aware that her situation was becoming desperate.
The front doors crashed open and Jaak charged through and dropped down to all fours, staring directly up at Stein. The rain pounded in on the floor behind the newcomer, and the sound of thunder was frighteningly loud.
Jaak turned his attention to Rhapsody, who was sprawled out on the floor, barely leaning up as she was trying to get away. He could see the look on her face, the urgency and horror. His mind was going crazy, but the one thought that stuck within him was the lies that Stein had filled him with. He should have believed Rhapsody when she pleaded with him to see the truth he was blinding himself from.
Stein had promised not to hurt Rhapsody, but from what he could see, the Angel was marked with swelling bruises and a few cuts to her arms and legs. He saw that he couldn’t trust the doctor; he had to stop him once and for all… to defend Rhapsody.
Jaak let out a roar of anger and Rhapsody jumped, fearing he’d join in on the attack against her, but to her surprise, he viciously pounced at Stein. The other wolf wasn’t prepared and was sent crashing back against the steps.
Stein managed to throw the younger wolf off, and he retreated up the stairs, to stand ready on much safer ground. Jaak growled and stalked up the stairs, narrowing two very yellow eyes on his enemy. Lightning flashed outside the back window and through the skylight instantly filling the room with pure white light; Rhapsody shuddered, looking up at the dome shape in the roof.
Jaak attacked again, but just missed Stein. The latter dodged out of the way and retreated for an instant before taking the opportunity to leap at his opponent himself. Jaak didn’t turn in time as the werewolf doctor slammed into his shoulder and sent him down rolling. The young wolf shook his head and shuffled back onto his feet just at the same second Stein took a swing at him. Jaak balanced back on his hindquarters and grabbed Stein’s paw; they both interlocked, trying to force each other down.
Rhapsody rested back tiredly onto the coolness of the floor. She turned her head towards the door as two figures, Scarlet and Edgar, rushed into the hall.
“RHAPSODY!” Scarlet called to her, his guts twisted in dismay to see her lying there. He ran over to the fallen Angel who looked up at him with confused eyes, without even replying. They just stared at each other.
Her pain was so strong now. She whimpered slightly, looking back up, onto the upper landing, at the two wolves trying to fight the other down. She was startled to see that Jaak was outmatched by Stein, who was pressing him back down. With one hefty push, Stein sent him backwards.
Stein jumped on top of Jaak, digging his claws into the other’s chest. Jaak let out a bellowing cry of pain and used what strength he had left to lift his shoulders off the floor and push Stein off. The latter slashed down, letting the blood stream. Jaak was feeling himself becoming weak but wasn’t planning to give up; he wanted Stein dead for the way he used him and for what he was going to do to Rhapsody. He bounded forward, swung a paw forward and smacked Stein in the face, dragging his claws into the flesh of his furry cheek.
Stein agonizingly cried out, for a moment losing his senses, giving Jaak the time to knock him down, sending him rolling against the banister.
Edgar and Scarlet watched the exchange, not knowing what to do, whether they should intervene or not. Edgar knew it had become very personal between his son and Stein. The Spectrum captain knelt close to Rhapsody, to show he’d protect her.
Jaak growled deeply, lowering himself into an attack stance. Stein slowly got up, his body pulling away from the wooden banister. The whole room blindingly lit up again, followed by a sound that was deafening. Lightning had struck the skylight and in a flash, the whole dome paneling of glass erupted and fell in large shards. Rhapsody shuffled onto her side, covering her head. Scarlet quickly covered her with his own body as, just not far off to their left, glass crashed against the floor. Edgar dived out of the way to escape the shattered falling glass.
Scarlet rolled off of Rhapsody to one side, checking to see if she was okay; they were both lucky. She just lay there, her breath shuddering.
The two wolves didn’t really acknowledge this happening, too deeply involved into their heated fight.
Stein’s eyes now showed a ferocious desire to tear the other apart. Jaak leapt at him, ignoring his pain, only feeling determination. Stein rose up quickly and snapped his jaws to clamp around Jaak’s neck as he was practically on top of him. The latter roared out, overwhelmed with pain and gasping for breath as his opponent crunched down. Stein used his leverage and released him quickly; Jaak’s body smashed against the banister, breaking a section of it into large splintering pieces. His body fell straight down and hit the floor below with a stomach-turning crack.
Everyone froze. Rhapsody couldn’t speak, her eyes growing wide. Edgar collapsed to his knees.
“Jaak…” His voice was lost in a shaking sob.
The young wolf made a deep, grunting cough, drops of blood spitting onto the floor. After a moment he stopped moving.
Stein roared in victory.
Edgar’s face creased with pain as he leaned over, beating his fist into the floor, unable to believe what had just happened. He gripped his gun tightly in one hand and lifted his head slowly to look at the Werewolf Stein with blazing fury. He rose up to stand, and levelled his gun at the monster. He cocked the rifle with a loud click.
“I won’t let you get away with that,” Edgar eyed Stein down the barrel. “This is for all the lies you’ve filled us with.”
Stein boomed a loud howl at him angrily, a flash of lightning sending light through the window behind him.
A shot blasted out, ringing in the tense air. The bullet impacted in the centre of Stein’s chest. He cried out bitterly as the shot took out most of the chest, blood exploding out, splattering across the carpet in crimson streamlets. Edgar took another shot, his heart fuelled by grief; this time, it hit Stein straight between the eyes, sending him backward in a strong thrust. There was a final cry of pain as the werewolf smashed against the large window, the large mounted pane breaking and collapsing out backwards with Stein, falling out into the dark storm.
Then, there was nothing but the sound of rain pouring in through the broken skylight, window and door, the floor covering in water spilling about. The wind began to pick up and the main doors banged shut, making them all jump momentarily.
Edgar lowered his gun, unable to speak after his actions.
Scarlet sighed softly, reaching to take Rhapsody’s hand to help her up, but she pushed away from him, shunning him off.
“Dianne?” He whispered, shocked from her sudden recoiling from him.
She stared into his eyes, frightened; the look made him think of a small creature trying to escape a big predator. It was as if an animal instinct was lingering over her mind.
“It’s the after-effects of the serum,” Edgar said approaching the pair.
Rhapsody shimmied back across the floor. Scarlet held the hurt in his eyes.
“Please, we’re here to help you,” he spoke softly to her.
“No, please… don’t come near me…” she gasped.
Scarlet looked from her to Edgar, his eyes full of worry for the Angel. He wanted to hold her tight, to let her know everything would be fine, but now she was reacting so badly, so alarmed by his nearness, he was unsure how to approach her.
“She needs one last dose of the serum to be rid of the werewolf influence. We need to get her back to the laboratory,” Edgar said, his voice subdued. It was apparent he had other things on his mind.
Scarlet knelt in front of Rhapsody as she sat up carefully, freezing as he moved.
“Dianne,” he addressed her as tenderly as possible. “We want to help you, we can’t if you don’t let us. Do you want these feelings to go away? Do you want the animal hiding within you to go away?”
She watched his expression, one so gentle, she couldn’t speak. Deep inside, something was billowing with fear. But this was Captain Scarlet – Paul Metcalfe – the man she loved. Why was she afraid of him? She knew he wanted to help her.
She took in a shaky breath and moved towards him, reaching her hand to him.
“Please help me,” she begged in a whisper.
He took her hand. “I’m here to help you, and I will.”
She pulled herself to him, resting her head on his shoulder, sobbing quietly. He comforted her, wrapping his arms around her. He helped her to her feet, and they stayed that way, close to each other, for just a minute longer before parting. He wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled.
“Come on,” he said. “We’ll get this all sorted out. You don’t have to worry; Stein will never do anything to you or anyone anymore.”
Edgar stood on the first step of the large staircase. “This way, follow me.”
Scarlet and Rhapsody had barely started across the floor littered with broken glass and slick with water when suddenly the main doors were thrown open again and a shadowy form stood in the doorway.
Scarlet turned with Rhapsody held close to him, holding the gun tightly in his hand. Edgar reloaded his rifle.
The newcomer was lit up by a sharp flash of lightning behind.
The Werewolf Green stood growling, more or less recovered from the injuries he had sustained earlier.
Scarlet’s eyes went wide. He kept the gun at his side, not wanting to raise it. Silver bullets will kill a werewolf and his gun was packed with them.
Rhapsody cowered against Scarlet. “Oh my God! Another one…”
“Seymour,” Scarlet murmured.
This made Rhapsody gasp. “No… Oh God no!” She stared at the large wolf, framed in the doorway.
Edgar raised his gun. Scarlet looked sharply towards him.
“NO, DON’T KILL HIM!” he shouted. The Estonian man turned to the captain, confused.
“It’s too late for him, it’s the only way to set him free.” As he turned his attention back to Green, the beast moved with astounding speed, and he was there in front of him, his large bulky arm pounding the gun upwards, the shot hitting the ceiling.
Edgar soon found himself flying over the rail of the staircase, gun soaring from his hands.
Green roared at the fallen Estonian then turned towards Scarlet, realizing he had some unfinished business to attend to.
Scarlet didn’t want to shoot him; Green was his friend and colleague, and he’d never forgive himself if he pulled the trigger.
The Werewolf didn’t hesitate to approach them. Rhapsody gripped Scarlet’s arm, afraid for them both, the pair slowly stepping backwards.
“I don’t want to kill you, Seymour,” Scarlet said in a warning tone. “I know you can understand me. You know who we are, please stop.”
The wolf growled angrily at the captain, stalking towards him, intent on spilling his blood, to finally be victorious over his wanted prey.
“Seymour, come on! Get some control over yourself. I don’t want to have to shoot you.” Scarlet put the gun up in line with him.
Green didn’t listen, picked up his pace and swiped his paw to dislodge the weapon from the captain’s hand; Scarlet grunted in pain, holding his now bruised wrist.
Rhapsody felt herself pushed away from Scarlet as he was yanked from her by the giant monster, who picked him up by the collar, like a little toy, and held him up high, howling angrily at him. The captain was thrown across the room, onto the stairs, landing roughly as his body banged back awkwardly; the breath was driven out of him and he lost consciousness.
The Angel was alone now. Green slowly turned his attention towards her. With the others out of the way, he felt the need to inspect her for his own devices. He began to stalk forward toward her, reasonably slow. Rhapsody backed off from him; her legs felt so tired and weak that she collapsed back onto the floor, inching backwards the best she could until she met solid wall. She tensed up, watching Green loom over her, casting her under his shadow.
Her breathing went erratic. She couldn’t defend herself against him, even if she had felt one hundred percent. She pushed herself back into the wall, shaking her head at him, putting a hand up in front of her.
“Please, don’t…” He tilted his head and dropped down onto all fours and came ever closer and sniffed her, his nose only inches from her skin.
She smelt enticing to him, something about her that made him feel she was close to him somehow. He could smell something animalistic about her, the smell of a werewolf. He looked into her eyes, two frightened blue ovals.
Rhapsody swallowed hard, bringing her arms to hug herself. She had to find a way to plead to his humanity; it was the only option left. Sweat trickled in large drops down her face; she had to close her eyes to stop it stinging them. She opened them again, feeling so tired.
“Seymour, please. It’s me. It’s Dianne, can you hear me?” She watched him look over her; a small growl emanated from his throat.
“You’re not a monster, Seymour.” She raised a hand cautiously in front of him. “I know you’re in there somewhere, please, don’t hurt me…”
He was curiously looking at her, hearing her words and thinking. Something about her, something that dug into his mind. His yellow eyes set on her pale, sweat-covered face, her soft eyes searching his to see if he actually could comprehend her words.
“Seymour…” Her voice was so shaky, not far from breaking down. “You wouldn’t hurt anyone. You’re my friend and you’re in my heart, please understand me. You know my voice, you know me.” She shook her head. “I’m afraid, Seymour. Please, don’t hurt us anymore… please don’t hurt me…”
His heart jumped, realizing. After all the confusion and the bloodlust, he could actually feel something taking over, fuelling his memory. Love.
His eyes softened and he backed down, whimpering, looking over his own body, and seeing what he had become. Rhapsody could see the Lieutenant Green she knew, showing through the large beast. His sadness brought tears to her eyes.
“Oh, Seymour.” Her voice was choking up, almost lost now. “I’m so sorry.”
He moaned, softly trying to speak to her but couldn’t make the words as the wolf. Instead he lifted up a large dark paw and rested it against her cheek, looking so dominating; it was so different from his original smaller human hand. He gently wiped away the sweat from one side of her pale face, watching her relax against the touch.
The tears began to flow down her face, feeling pity for him. She lifted a hand to place on his paw and rested her face there, eyes closing.
“We’ll help you, we’ll do everything we can…” she whispered, slowly opening her eyes to look at him. She lifted up her other hand to touch his furry face; he whined and brushed his muzzle against the palm of her hand, accepting who she was properly in his mind.
The clicking sound of a gun pricked up Green’s ears and he growled, lifting himself away from Rhapsody to see Edgar was back on his feet and, having found Scarlet’s revolver on the floor, was lining it up on him, finger hovering on the trigger.
Rhapsody leaned forward slightly. Oh God…She knew what Edgar was about to do.
“Keep away from the girl, monster!”
Captain Scarlet was coming out of his momentary torpor, when he heard Edgar’s warning. He opened his eyes just in time to see the werewolf Green lurching in the Estonian’s direction. There was a single shot. Green was sent backward by the impact and howled in pain, sprawling on the floor, under his two colleagues’ horrified eyes. Edgar was about to shoot again, when Rhapsody finally found her voice back:
“No! Stop! Don’t kill him!”
Edgar’s finger froze on the trigger. He stared with perplexity at Rhapsody, who, with what little strength that was left in her legs, was rushing to the wounded creature that had been her friend. Scarlet had also got up from his sprawling position across the steps, wincing and groaning against the pain in his back. He felt bad, but he knew it was even worse for Green. He went by his side, and crouched near Rhapsody.
Green’s bestial form was spread out on the floor, on his back. He was breathing, but that was all the movement the creature was capable of, and it was with great difficulty. There was a hole in his chest, bleeding profusely at each rise and fall. Scarlet grimaced at the sight of the wound and examined it closely. He shook his head, sighing. He had seen enough of those kinds of wounds in his life to know about them.
“The bullet missed the heart,” he announced. “He’ll live for now, but he will need medical care as soon as possible to remove this bullet.” He looked at the werewolf’s frame. How in the world would any doctor be able to operate on him in the form he is at the moment?
Rhapsody hurriedly tore off her sleeve and didn’t hesitate to put it on the wound to try to stop the bleeding. “We have to help him,” she murmured. “Paul, we can’t leave him this way.”
Scarlet had no intention to. He looked up to Edgar, who was keeping close, staring down at the fallen wolf. “You said that a dose of the serum would help Rhapsody,” he asked hurriedly. “Could it also bring Green back to normal?” Edgar seemed confused. “I don’t know,” he said hesitating. “I guess so… It has worked in the past with Jaak, but… Stein kept modifying his serum. I don’t have Stein’s expertise, and I don’t know what effect it may have on your friend.”
Scarlet took a quick decision. “We have to try. Help me bring him to that laboratory.”
Lieutenant Green’s werewolf form was heavy enough and both Captain Scarlet and Edgar lost precious minutes bringing him upstairs, and then into Stein’s laboratory, where Rhapsody had been held captive. They laid Green onto a padded table, on his back. Edgar went to the working table where she had seen Stein’s phials of serum. All of them were dated. He chose the most recent one, which was the same colour as the one Rhapsody had seen Stein use earlier, and brought it to the table.
Edgar then selected a set of syringes. He filled two of them with the serum and turned to Rhapsody. “You need a last shot too,” he reminded her.
“Him first,” she answered nodding towards Green.
Edgar hesitated. He stared at the young woman’s obviously sick but still determined face. There was no arguing with her. He nodded his consent.
“I’ll do it, then,” he announced. “I’ve done enough of these for my own son…”
Scarlet stepped aside. Edgar leaned over Green, took his furry arm and made the injection. Both Scarlet and Rhapsody stared at the disfigured face, waiting for a reaction. At first they saw a faint twitch, then heard a growl, and thought for a second that would be it. Then the huge frame began to shake spasmodically. Edgar moved back next to the two Spectrum officers, his face pale, looking at the scene in complete dismay.
“Is that normal?” Scarlet asked with urgency.
“No,” Edgar answered. “No, it’s not… I… He looked at the empty syringe in his hand. “That must be the silver bullet,” he murmured. “This serum is silver-laced, but… the addition of this bullet in his body… That may be too much for him.”
“Oh, Lord…” Rhapsody murmured. Her legs were shaking with fear. She didn’t know what could be done for Green now.
The great body went rigid, and the bestial face creased with obvious pain. Not concerning himself with the fact that one sporadic movement from Green’s claws could tear him apart, Scarlet approached to examine him closely. He could feel his body trembling and was hearing the breathing becoming more and more erratic. Under his fingers, put on the beast’s chest, the heart was running wild.
“He’s going into cardiac arrest!”
His words had not faded away that Green suddenly collapsed on the table and stopped moving.
“NO!” Scarlet yelled. His fingers searched for the beat of his heart, then for the pulse. Nothing. He heard Rhapsody stifling a sob behind him.
Don’t panic, the Spectrum captain told himself. It’s still possible to save him! He started thumping furiously on the chest, with his closed fist, where the heart was.
“Come on, Seymour! Don’t give up on me like this!”
There wasn’t any movement at first from the wolf. Then it shook; before Scarlet and Rhapsody’s staring eyes, it seemed as if it was starting to melt. It lost volume in seconds, and the fur disappeared quickly. The body and the limbs started regaining their normal human size and frame.
Scarlet looked at the wolf’s face. The beast’s awful jaw had vanished, to make way for Green’s smooth face. He was now completely human. But his eyes were closed and he remained motionless. Scarlet searched for the pulse. Still nothing.
Edgar shook his head, grimly. “He’s dead,” he declared. “That’s what happens when a werewolf dies. The host is free of the curse, and takes back his human form.”
Scarlet desperately looked around; his eyes fell on a coffee maker, on the worktable not far. He turned toward Edgar and Rhapsody, a distraught expression on his face. He wasn’t going to abandon hope just yet.
“Bring me that coffee maker!” he yelled.
That demand seemed to surprise Edgar who didn’t move and kept standing where he was. Rhapsody hurried to the table and came back with the requested object. Scarlet nodded toward Edgar; applying cardiac massage to Green’s heart, without stopping, hoping to restart it.
“Tear out the electric cord!” he ordered. “Strip the ends of the wires, and find a plug!”
Edgar suddenly understood what he was up to. So did Rhapsody. She stared in disbelief at her fiancé, while Edgar was proceeding to obey his instructions.
“Are you crazy?” she murmured. “You’re not planning to do what I think you…”
“There’s isn’t any choice,” Scarlet replied. He put his ear to Green’s chest. He couldn’t hear anything.
“This is crazy. It may not even work.”
“There’s an even chance that it COULD work.”
Edgar had found a plug at the foot of the padded table. He handed Scarlet the other end of the cord, with the two stripped wires. The Spectrum captain took it, and motioned to him and Rhapsody to step back. He checked the electric current in the wires by briefly rubbing them together. A small blue flash appeared.
This is not going to be easy, he thought. And Rhapsody might be right. It may not work. The risk of losing Green definitely was there… and there was also the fact that he was also putting himself in danger, handling electricity like that.
But it could work. He had to try.
He put one end of the wire on Green’s chest; for a second, he hesitated. Then he applied the other wire as well. Briefly, before removing it right away.
A jolt shook through Green’s body; he jumped an inch from the table, but fell back on it and remained motionless. Scarlet groaned, and tried again.
Again, Green shook, and trembled, but still didn’t show any sign of life.
Scarlet was growing desperate. A look towards Rhapsody told him she had just about given up hope.
Another try. Come on Seymour! You’re a fighter! You can do it!
He applied the wires one more time. A new jolt shook through Green’s body; when it fell back on the table, however, a sound came out of it. Like a faint grunt. Then there was the sound of a deep, shaky breath. Both Rhapsody and Edgar opened wide eyes as they saw Green’s bloodied chest rise. Scarlet stepped back, not believing it.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he murmured, looking down at the wires he was clutching in his hands.
Rhapsody approached with a large smile forming upon her tired face. She leaned over Green, who was now groaning loudly, shaking his head from side to side; Scarlet came back to stand next to her. Both of them saw their colleague’s eyes open tiredly, and blinking a good number of times, trying to assess his situation.
“Rhapsody?” he murmured, finding her staring apprehensively at him. He raised his eyes a little, and discovered his superior officer, with the same concern in his eyes. The two looked positively exhausted. “Captain Scarlet…? What happened? I feel… hurt…”
“Don’t move, Seymour,” Scarlet told him, putting a reassuring hand on the younger man’s shoulder and squeezing it. “You’re going to be all right.” He shook his head and sighed. “You gave us quite a scare, you know?”
“I did?” Green’s voice was nothing more than a murmur. He looked back again at Rhapsody, and could see the tears bordering her eyes. He gave her a faint, but heartening smile, without pronouncing a single word. She squeezed his hand in turn, in answer.
“I’m glad you’re back, Seymour,” she whispered.
He gave her a look that said he had no idea what she was talking about. He simply nodded.
Edgar had approached from behind. He was holding the other syringe, filled with the same serum he had given to Green, earlier. He addressed the Angel with a gentle, but careful tone. “Now, Rhapsody. Your friend is safe. It’s your turn. If you want to be rid of the beast also…”
She nodded at the question, and sighed deeply. When she turned to face Edgar, she was still feeling so very tired and sick, but now there was a quiet resolution on her features.
“I’m ready when you are, Edgar.”
Doctor Fawn stood upright, his check up finished. He took the pad at the foot of the bed, and scribbled something onto it, looking down at his patient, who was waiting for his diagnosis.
"So?" Rhapsody said with impatience. "What’s the verdict?”
He smiled down at her, closing his pad. "Well, I guess, it's the end of it, Rhapsody. I can't see any trace of that wolf meta-gene."
Rhapsody sighed happily. "I'm so relieved to hear that."
"You won't ever have to worry about turning into a bloodthirsty wolf-like creature," Fawn concluded.
"Thank you so much, Doctor," she said to him gratified.
"Don't mention it. I mean, I didn't do that much. You've got to thank that silver-based serum that was given to you. It did all the work."
"But still, Doctor, you have confirmed for me that it did work," she said softly. "It makes me happy to be sure that the gene is gone."
She looked concerned, as a thought crossed her mind. "And... What about Lieutenant Green?” She was worried about the communications officer. Since Captain Scarlet had brought them back to Cloudbase, some days before, she had barely seen him.
They had been taken to Sickbay the second they had arrived, and separated, Rhapsody to be taken into the isolation ward, for observation, and Green to the operating theatre, to remove the silver bullet in his chest. Then Green had been transferred into another room, being kept under observation while recuperating.
Fawn offered her his most reassuring smile. “He is recovering well from his injuries. I’m pleased with his progress after what happened. AND there's no trace of the meta-gene in him, either.”
Rhapsody, physically relaxed, let out a relieved sigh. “That’s good to hear. I was really worried about him after all he went through…” She stopped, still shaken up that they could have lost him. It had been a scary thought, so she didn't say more, and just nodded her head. “I’m just glad he’s all right.”
"Well, you’ll both be fine," Fawn replied, gently patting her shoulder. "So don't you worry about any of this anymore."
She smiled thankfully at him. "I'll try not to."
A faint knock made itself heard, and Captain Scarlet stepped in the doorway.
Fawn turned to regard the newcomer. “Ah, Captain. Here to see Rhapsody, I take it, or for something else?”
The Angel was pleased to see Scarlet, greeting his entrance with a beaming smile.
“For once you’re lucky it isn’t something else,” Scarlet smirked.
"Don't you think I've had enough, these last few days?" Fawn grumbled. "This is rather an unusual case, I must say."
“A nice change for you.” Scarlet approached the bedside. “Not always the same old stuff around here.”
"Doctor Fawn said I'm totally cured," Rhapsody then announced to Scarlet. "And so is Lieutenant Green."
"Wonderful news!" Scarlet said as he smiled at the Angel. "Does Green know about it?"
"I told him this morning, when I went to give him his daily check up. Just before I came here, to see Rhapsody," Fawn assured him.
"It's great that it is all working out now. You won't have anything to worry about," Scarlet said, happy for his friends. "And you'll both be back on your feet in no time."
"Give them time to recover, Captain," Fawn replied. "At least for Green. He has been through a lot." He flapped the pad against Scarlet's stomach, playfully, before walking towards the door. "Remember that neither of them are you. Now if you'll both excuse me, I have other chores to attend to..."
That said, Fawn left them to their business. With a wide grin, Scarlet sat on the edge of the bed, and looked levelly at his fiancée.
"Nice of him to leave us on our own," he noted.
"Very nice indeed," she agreed.
He nodded thoughtfully, reaching to stroke her cheek. "It's nice to have you back and well, Angel."
“It’s nice to BE back and well!”
"I was so afraid for you. Thinking of what you went through… At one point, I even thought that... that you were that werewolf, attacking me."
"Oh Paul..." Rhapsody had saddened eyes. "I would never have attacked you, I would never have let myself if I had changed."
In the corridor, some feet away, the hobbling figure of Lieutenant Green, in a robe and leaning on crutches, was heading towards the door of Rhapsody’s room in Sickbay.
He looked a little nervous, playing with the small stems of flowers he had picked for the Angel. He had sneaked out of his room because he wanted to see her. He had to tell her about the feelings for her; they were eating him up. Ever since he got back from that horrifying experience, his emotions for her had increased. She had been the one to touch his heart, even when he was in a different form.
You can do it Seymour, be straight up and honest, he told himself. As he approached her door, he could hear the sounds of voices. Rhapsody's own sweet voice and that of Captain Scarlet. He stopped just outside, keeping out of sight.
"When you told me that last werewolf was Seymour, I thought the nightmare would never end," he heard the voice of Rhapsody stating.
Green frowned, feeling his heart lurch as he listened on to the conversation, Scarlet speaking softly to Rhapsody.
"It scared me to see him change into that monster, but I always kept up hope... we had faith in him, especially you who actually reached his human mind."
"I knew he was still there, inside that fierce-looking creature. The good ol' Seymour we all know and love. I couldn't let him down."
Those words brought a smile to Green's lips.
"You have to admit, you were lucky. If you hadn't been able to reach him, I dare not think what he would have done," Scarlet's voice lowered.
Rhapsody looked down, her voice matching Scarlet's. "I don't want to think about it, especially how he looked at me..." She shook her head. "No! I won't believe he would have hurt me, he was too strong for the beast's mind."
Scarlet nodded, and gently lifted her chin, to look deeply in her eyes. “You were strong enough for the two of you, my love,” he said in a hushed tone. “You were the one who brought our friend back.” He kissed her on the forehead. "And I got you back, at the same time."
"I was always here for you," Rhapsody whispered.
Green listened carefully, his facial expression dropping, as did his heart, beating sadly. He let the information sink in. Scarlet and Rhapsody... Why didn't he realise it sooner? Why didn't he SEE it before?
He got a peek inside the room; if he had any illusions left, they faded away, as he saw the kiss exchanged between Scarlet and Rhapsody.
What could he say? It was too late; he didn't have a chance now. He sighed silently; just feeling like his heart had been stomped on. He looked down at his flowers; so useless now... He couldn't proclaim his love anymore.
He looked on as Scarlet and Rhapsody finished the kiss. Then, he drew a deep breath and stepped into the room, somehow awkwardly.
Scarlet looked around, suddenly noticing Green entering.
"Hey! What you doing out of bed?" he asked.
Rhapsody looked in Green's eyes and noticed something off, no real sparkle to them. She assumed he was tired, but she thought they looked like the eyes of a depressed man.
He smiled tiredly. "I thought I would come to see how things were with Rhapsody.” He forced a smile across his lips, and then took a cheerful tone: "I sneaked out of my room. There'll be nurses all around the place searching for me in a little while."
"You took all those risks for me?" Rhapsody smiled brightly. "You shouldn't have!"
"How’re you feeling, Lieutenant?" Scarlet asked him.
"Better, thank you."
Scarlet rose from where he was seated. "I'll leave you two to talk, then. I have to get back to duty. Lieutenant?"
"Don't overexert yourself. You know how precious you are to all of us."
Green blushed slightly. "Thank you, sir."
Scarlet smiled, squeezing the young man's shoulder, and gave a look toward Rhapsody. "And keep an eye on her, will you?"
"I will, Captain," Green answered. Scarlet failed to notice the fond glitter in the young lieutenant's eyes. With a last nod toward Rhapsody, he went out, leaving them together.
Green hobbled to the bed, drawing closer. Rhapsody saw that he was keeping his free hand - the left - behind his back, as if he was trying to hide something.
"What’ve you got there?" she asked curiously, trying to peak around him.
Green felt somehow embarrassed now, for not thinking of getting rid of the flowers before coming into the room. Now, it was a little too late, and he had no other choice than to bring his hand forward.
Rhapsody smiled at the arrangement presented to her. "Are those for me?" She watched him nod, now quite sure of himself. "Oh, you're sweet. Thank you."
"I...” Green cleared his throat. Now how was he going to get himself out of this? "I thought it would be useful, for me to present you my sincerest apologies."
She looked into his eyes as she took the flowers from him. She could see something was deeply troubling him, something he needed to get off his chest. She was willing to listen and gave him a soft, reassuring look, urging him to continue.
"What do you want me to forgive you about?" she asked gently, seeing that he was still hesitating.
"I... I didn't hurt you, did I?" he asked, still unsure.
"No, you don't have to worry, you didn't," she quickly said with certainty. “Why do you ask?”
"I don't know exactly, I..." Green seemed confused. His brow furrowed. "I can't get over that nightmares pursuing me..."
"Nightmares?" Rhapsody covered his hand with hers in a soft caring gesture. He looked down at it, thankful for her support.
He shook his head. "It's rather complicated to explain. There were mostly impressions. I... In my nightmares, I see things as if I was a beast..."
She watched his unsure face, trying to find the words. She gripped his hand tighter.
"I... I can taste everything around me... especially blood. I can taste it so strongly in my mouth. The images are vague, but I can remember seeing Captain Scarlet and others running away from me. Bloodlust was strong... and you... I..." He didn't know how to explain the latter part.
"Go on..." She said.
"Desire... so much... I hardly remember the last parts of the nightmares when I see you, but what I remember thinking is unspeakable… what I planned to do…"
Green's voice broke suddenly; his face had become pale. He was shuddering violently. He felt the need to sit down, on the wooden chair next to the bed. He practically fell down on it. "I'm sorry, Rhapsody... I'm so sorry..."
"Oh, Seymour," She climbed from the bed and walked over to him, kneeling in front of him, taking both of his hands between hers, holding them close to her. "Please trust me here, everything is okay. You didn't really hurt me or anyone badly."
"What about Captain Scarlet?" Green said lowly. "I... I tried to kill him, right?"
She smiled, gently. "You know he doesn’t hold it against you. You weren't in control, Seymour. It wasn't you. It was the beast - the wolf - you were trapped inside."
"I did so much evil inside that body," Green said sadly. He looked down at his hand. "I killed Syrn."
"He was a bad man, Seymour. He tried to kill Captain Scarlet. You were just there, at that moment."
"I don't remember much about it, Dianne. But I can still feel... his blood, on my hands."
"He deserved what he got, and it wasn't you who killed him, it was the wolf, always remember that."
Green looked into her face, so firmly held on her beliefs.
He looked down again at his hands. Then he closed his eyes, sighing deeply. "I'm just glad that part of me is gone," he murmured. "Once, and for all."
Rhapsody smiled lightly, feeling the sudden urge to hug him, to make him feel calm and safe. He was shocked to feel her lean against him, wrapping her arms around his body.
"You and me both, Seymour. I'm so glad you're back with us and well."
He shivered lightly, remembering it was only to reassure a friend, nothing more, but at least, for that, he would be grateful to her.
He sighed contentedly, remembering the feelings that had released him from within the beast. The feeling of love and friendship.
The night was young. So soft and calm, and so beautiful as the full moon shone through the thick blackness. The little stars twinkled like little winking eyes, watching over the tranquillity of every river and landscape.
The moon shined full onto the island on Lake Peipus; the land was richly lit up by the silver light that cast a glow of radiance down onto the contours of the small land mass.
A month ago had been an awful catastrophe, especially for the position Edgar was in; he had to make strong decisions that could have put his head on a silver platter. The Estonian man had spent the whole time rebuilding up a lost part of his life, and restoring the place around him.
Now that Xander Stein was gone, things were changing rapidly.
Edgar was going to convert the mansion for good use, still in a way that would carry on the Doctor’s work but to use it in a worthy cause. He dreamed of helping other werewolves, hoping to turn the place into a refuge for them so that he could work with them to override the beast and learn to control themselves. He’d need to get some money to work on the project and there were a few people he could contact to get the funds, but it would take time. But eventually, it would all be worth it.
All Stein’s notes were still there, everything to work from and improve, and Edgar had given complete dedication to the work. He’d find not just a suppressing serum, but an actual cure.
It was a goal he wanted to achieve whatever the costs.
He had just finished up on the roof, fixing the last panelling of glass to the domed skylight. It had been a hefty repair job, since it had been obliterated by a bolt of lightning, a month ago.
He climbed down the ladder and retracted it. He carried it off to lean against the front of the shed, then he grabbed a bucket of raw meat and went off into the zoo.
The small area of cages were lit up by the vast full moonlight, catching down through the cages and illuminated in patterns across the ground.
Edgar pulled his jacket on tighter due to the coolness, then went towards the first few sets of cages. The wolves were desperately hungry and savaged the food that was thrown into their cage. The jackal did nothing but grunt as his food was set out, he tiredly approached it and sniffed it, settling back down, not yet ready to feed.
The last cage on Edgar’s round was at the far end; the Estonian man approached it and looked in with soft eyes upon the animal that stared back sadly.
“Hello Jaak,” Edgar greeted, he opened the cage and began putting the last scraps of meat into a feeding bowl in the front corner.
Jaak, in werewolf, form looked at his father and down at the food. As soon as the Estonian man had left the cage, Jaak went over to it and began to eat it down reasonably slowly, ripping thick chunks of meat from the quite large scraps. He had recovered well from the fight with Stein, from which he had received a few nasty injuries: lacerations to the chest and neck, a broken shoulder and hip and devastating internal injuries. But only silver was known to kill a werewolf, and thus he survived.
Edgar believed that there really was no need for drugs; they only made half of the process of self-control to work, and it had to be time and patience for one to gain control. Jaak was proving him well and had begun to control most of his actions and emotions. But he was physically sad. Heartbroken. He missed Rhapsody; she had been everything that lit up his dark world.
Edgar watched his son, feeling nothing but sorrow to see him the way he was. Having to fight for control of the wolf and pining for an impossible love. He turned away from the cage and looked up towards the full moon, bright and mocking him.
He sighed, wondering when it would all end…
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