A “Captain Scarlet
& the Mysterons” story
By Chris Bishop & Sue Stanhope
“I’m unable to
re-establish contact with Captain Scarlet, Colonel.”
Raising his eyes from the file he
had briefly consulted, White looked over to Lieutenant Green. Since they had
abruptly lost radio contact with Captain Scarlet, minutes ago, the young man,
seated at his communications station, had been pushing buttons and trying many
channels of communication used by the cap microphones. Green’s efforts to restore the link had been
frustratingly unsuccessful. He shook
his head. “He’s probably having trouble with his communicator. I don’t have a single signal.”
White acknowledged the
report with a nod. “Well, then, I
expect he’ll find a way to contact us eventually. And report back to Spectrum New York when his business with
Mister Riordan is finished.”
“Could he be in trouble,
Colonel White turned in
the direction of Captain Blue, who, like Captains Ochre and Grey, was seated on
the raised stools in front of his circular desk, and had been waiting patiently
to continue the briefing. Blue seemed a
little concerned over his regular partner’s radio silence – and subsequent
failure to answer calls from base. Of
course, Blue, like all the others, knew of Scarlet’s whereabouts at the present
– going to Magenta’s old syndicate territory to find some answers to those
questions Spectrum Intelligence were wondering about. Why they needed to concern themselves over another of Martin
Conners’ whims was beyond Blue, to be honest.
The man always was synonymous with trouble – and in the worst possible
“I don’t think we need
be worried for now, Captain Blue,” White replied. “There’s nothing that might lead us to believe that he may
be. The mission Captain Scarlet had set
himself to do is a simple one, and he should be through with it quite
quickly. Especially now that he knows
we have a Mysteron situation at hand.
I’m sure he’ll prefer to deal with more urgent matters like that, rather
than concern himself with some triviality dreamed up by Special Agent Conners…”
White feigned not to see the
mocking smiles spreading on each one of his senior officers’ faces. It wasn’t an easy job, seeing as they were
making a poor job of concealing it. He
looked down at the folder open in front of him. “We’ll give Captain Scarlet an
hour to turn up. If he fails to report
by then, we’ll send a search team after him.”
He raised his head once more, cleared his throat and looked at his
officers one by one. “But right now, we
do have more pressing business to attend to, and that, gentlemen, cannot wait.”
They each nodded their
agreement. They all knew the situation,
each of them having heard the threat over the speakers in different parts of
The Mysterons now wanted to
eliminate the man who was to become the new Supreme Commander of the WGPC – the
World Government Police Corps. That was
a post which Captain Ochre himself, as Richard Fraser, had been offered, years
ago, and that he had turned down in favour of a rank in Spectrum senior
staff. That wasn’t a publicly known
fact however – as far as the world at large was concerned, Detective Commander
Richard Fraser had been killed in a car bomb assault, just prior to his
appointment as Supreme Commander. It
was but a subterfuge concocted by Fraser and Spectrum Intelligence, so he would
be free to engage in his new existence within Spectrum, with a clean slate,
without any hindrance from his earlier, rather bumpy life. Now officially dead,
WGPC Richard Fraser shaved the beard he had been sporting so many years, disappeared
from public view, and took on the new identity of Spectrum Captain Ochre.
As Fraser was pursuing
his career within Spectrum, the post of WGPC Supreme Commander was allotted to
the then WGPC Deputy Commander, Alec Crandon.
It was to be a temporary assignment, as Crandon, like his predecessor,
was contemplating retirement; however, he maintained his position for the next
four years, doing an even better job than would have been expected. Now, Crandon was finally stepping down, and
had announced his definite decision to retire.
A new World Government Police Corps Supreme Commander would need to be
Enter Commander Ian Stewart, WGPC
Stewart was a rough and tough as
nails cop from the old school, whose reputation, like that of Richard Fraser,
preceded him. Crandon himself had
approved of his nomination.
Considerably younger, more energetic, totally incorruptible, often in
the thick of the action, there was no doubt that the WGPC would have, in him, a
good man as Supreme Commander.
If ever he reached that
post. And it was now for Spectrum to
make sure the Mysterons wouldn’t succeed in their threat to kill him.
procedures, Spectrum’s closest ground facility – in this case the offices in
New York – had contacted the target and provided him with immediate
safekeeping, assigning a team of security ground agents who would be in
attendance for his protection. They
would not let Commander Stewart out of their sight, or permit him to leave his
house, and would await the arrival of Cloudbase officers, who would then take
control of the operations. Which would be soon after this quick briefing in the
Control Room, during which Colonel White would give their assignments to his
“At the moment, a security
team, led by Lieutenant Tan, is keeping Commander Stewart securely inside his
home in New York,” White said, consulting his notes. “Their instructions are to wait for you to arrive, Captain Grey,
in an MSV that will take Commander Stewart to our rebuilt Security Building in
“S.I.G., Colonel,” Grey
said with a brief nod. So far the
assignment wasn’t looking too difficult.
But he was presuming the Mysterons would probably not make it easy for
“Commander Stewart will
have to stay in the Security Building until tomorrow, eighteen hundred
hours. You will then take the MSV again
and escort him to the WGPC Headquarters in New York, for the swearing-in
ceremony, which should be held at exactly eighteen thirty.”
“After that,” Captain Blue
concluded, “ according to the Mysterons’ own specifications for the threat, he
should be safe from them.”
“Exactly, Captain Blue.
The Mysterons will try to assassinate him before that time. That’s why we’ll
have to be very vigilant, until Commander Stewart is in office.”
“I bet Stewart doesn’t really
appreciate the prospect of being babysat by Spectrum,” Captain Ochre then
remarked with a faint chuckle.
“Indeed, he doesn’t,
Captain Ochre,” Colonel White admitted, glancing in the former policeman’s direction.
“He told me, in no uncertain terms, that the WGPC could take care of its own
without any need for Spectrum to interfere in matters that aren’t any of its
“That’s Stewart, all right,” Ochre
said with a smile.
“The present Supreme Commander of
the WGPC, fortunately, wasn’t of the same opinion. He strongly ‘suggested’ to
Commander Stewart that he accept our protection.”
“Commander Crandon is certainly
aware that dealing with the Mysterons is strictly Spectrum’s mandate,” Blue
agreed. “He’s much wiser.”
“That he is,” Ochre admitted. “Why he’s supporting Stewart’s nomination as
his replacement is beyond me, though.
With or without Crandon’s support, it would surprise me if Stewart would
make it easy for Spectrum. We’d better
expect him to be a difficult assignment.”
“You seem to know Commander
Stewart very well, Captain,” Grey remarked.
“Yeah, I know him. We met often when I was in the WGPC.”
“Can you tell us about
him?” White asked.
“Well… All in all, he’s a good guy…
Almost perfect for the job he’s going to undertake…”
Grey chuckled. “The perfect one
for the job being you?” he remarked.
“Hey, I’ll remind you I
nearly became WGPC Supreme Commander,
four years ago,” Ochre pointed out. “I should think that would allow me to
judge quite adequately who would get the job.”
“Or so you say.”
“Never mind that,” White cut in,
with a warning glance to both Ochre and Grey.
“Why ‘almost perfect’, Captain Ochre?”
“Well, he’s a good police
officer,” Ochre explained, shrugging.
“Dedicated, morally upright, restless…
He often goes out in the field and has the reputation of always getting
his man. He’s a brilliant detective, as
well as a good leader of men, but…
Well, there’re those annoying… flaws in him.”
“Flaws?” Blue asked.
“Yeah. You see, that guy thinks he’s so smart, it’s
positively exasperating. He’s so
stubborn, you have no idea! He always
has to have the last word in ANY argument – no matter if he’s right or not. He always thinks he’s right, anyway, so
there’s little point arguing with him.”
White shot the American
an unbelieving look, while Blue and Grey exchanged a perplexed glance.
Curiously, Ochre’s first description of Commander Ian Stewart was similar to
Ochre himself. Their surprise wasn’t
complete yet, as Ochre continued:
“I mean, well, he’s not
ALL bad. He looks after the men working
for him. Very protective, in fact.”
Ochre shrugged. “And he plays by the regulations,” he stated firmly. “Well, when
it suits him. And when he’s working on
a case…” he smiled, as he considered this to be a good point, “… he gets down
into the minutiae. He’ll go on a hunch
and if he’s got an idea about something he’ll hold on to it like… like a dog
with a bone.” Ochre’s voice tapered off as he realised that this too had ended
up sounding like a weakness rather then a strength.
“Yeah,” agreed Blue, holding in
the laugh that threatened to burst from him. “That can be really annoying.”
There was only one person in the
room who didn’t seem to realise that Ochre was describing himself and,
embarrassingly enough from the others’ viewpoint, that person was Ochre.
“Annoying? You don’t know the half of it! He has this REALLY irritating hobby…” No-one
in the room could believe their ears at that last statement. If they didn’t
know better, considering the present situation, they would have thought that
Ochre was leading them on. “He collects
stamps,” Ochre continued. “From what
I’ve heard, he's got millions of them, EVERYWHERE!”
“No kidding,” Blue
grumbled, almost scoffing. “And what, now
you’re going to tell us that the stuff he uses to stick them in books isn’t
very agreeable to sensitive noses?”
Ochre pointed directly at Blue,
nodding enthusiastically. “You know
someone who does that too?”
“Something very similar, Ochre,”
agreed Blue, nodding pointedly.
Ochre frowned lightly. All eyes were upon him. He had believed that they were simply
interested in what he had to say, but now he saw the expressions of disbelief
and amusement on their faces – even the colonel’s. And now, as it began to dawn on him exactly what they were
thinking, he could almost hear the barely restrained laughter from his fellow
captains. He bit his lower lip as he
could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks in a flush of acute embarrassment.
“How can you…?” he stammered,
looking at his colleagues with what looked like a mortified expression. “He’s nothing like
me. I mean really, the
“Captain Ochre,” Colonel White
interrupted him, “I think you’ve given
us a fairly detailed description already. Perhaps we should continue? There is a Mysteron threat to deal with
“Yes, Sir,” Ochre agreed with a
“As it’s fairly apparent that you
and he are… acquainted, Captain Ochre,
I don’t think it wise for you to meet with him. I would like you to go with Captain Blue to Spectrum
Headquarters, New York and make the necessary security arrangements for the
forthcoming swearing-in ceremony.
The colonel raised his voice to
address the young communication officer who was seated in front of his
station. Green swiftly snapped in his
commander’s direction. “Yes, Colonel?”
“I need a computer expert to go to
the Maximum Security Building with Captain Grey. One who would know about the
modifications and updates to security that Captain Magenta introduced. Since Captain Magenta isn’t in attendance,
the task now falls to you.”
Green’s face beamed with
a totally delighted expression. It
wasn’t that often that Colonel White would permit him to go down to the
ground. He welcomed every opportunity.
“S.I.G., sir,” he said in a
cheerful tone that conveyed his gratitude for his commander’s decision.
“Right. Captain Grey and
Lieutenant Green, I want you to collect Commander Stewart from his home and
escort him to the Maximum Security Building.
Captain Grey, Lieutenant Tan of the New York Headquarters is currently
in charge of the security operation and he will hand over to you on arrival.
However, he will remain on hand at all times in the Maximum Security Building. Lieutenant Green, I have arranged for
Cloudbase main computer to be manned by Lieutenant Sienna, while you’re
away. He will be here shortly and
you’ll be able to go. That will be all,
Rising from their seats,
the captains saluted and headed toward the door, shooting an amused look in the
direction of the widely-grinning Lieutenant Green who was presently looking as
if he couldn’t sit still. No doubt, he
couldn’t wait to leave and follow them out!
“Come on, Ochre!” Grey slapped his
friend on the back as they headed down the corridor. Ever since he had realized
the fun his colleagues had made of him, Ochre had sported a very grim, almost
pouting look. “You have to admit, that
description you gave sounded a lot
like you. And they were your own
Ochre snorted at the mocking
remark. “He’s nothing like me, you’ll see,” he grumbled. “And when you do, you won’t be
laughing. THAT I can guarantee you!”
* * *
“Come in!” Patrick Donaghue
called, replying to the knock on the door of his office, without looking up
from the papers he was reading.
Josh Kirby entered the room, a
little hesitantly, the unfamiliar surroundings and man seated at the large
walnut desk near the window unnerving him slightly.
“I got the rest of the papers you wanted,
Mister Donaghue,” he announced as he walked to the desk, holding a slim file in
Donaghue finally looked up and
frowned at the thickness of the file.
“Is that all you have?” he asked
“There’s actually quite a lot in
here,” Kirby replied in defence of their information gathering skills.
“Does it have a full schematic of
“No,” admitted Kirby with a sigh.
“Guard duty rosters? Alarm systems? List of personnel?”
“There’s a list of senior
personnel,” Kirby replied with a shrug. Donaghue snatched the file from Kirby’s
hand and opened it, to get a quick look into it. He grumbled with dissatisfaction.
“Not good enough, Josh, I need
more than that.” Donaghue looked up at Kirby, his stare harsh and unyielding.
“Yes, Sir, but, well, isn’t this a
bit much? All this effort for a Plan
B?” Kirby began.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, Sir, I mean you haven’t
even tried your first plan yet, it might work fine,” Kirby protested. “With all
that detailed preparation you already put into it and the instructions you gave
Sean concerning that bomb of his…”
“Was O’Rourke able to build that
bomb following the specifications I gave him?” Donaghue interrupted suddenly.
Kirby eagerly nodded. “That he
did, sir. And he says it’ll work like
clockwork. So to speak.”
“That’s perfect, then. Maybe we won’t need Plan B, Josh, maybe Plan
A will work perfectly. But it might
not. And in that case, we have to be ready.
We’ll only get two chances.”
“With respect, Mister Donaghue,
we’ll get lots of chances and easier ones at that. Does it really matter if we do it before or after he’s sworn in?”
“It matters to me!” Donaghue
growled in reply before checking down the file again. “Now, who is Captain Brealey?”
“He’s our contact at WGP,” Kirby
replied, happy to finally have something to say that he thought Donaghue would
be pleased to hear.
Donaghue grunted. “And according to this, an acquaintance of Ian
Stewart. I want to speak to him.”
“I’ll ask Jeff to contact him,”
Kirby replied with a slight smile, turning to leave.
“Sorry, Sir, Jeff Tyler. Brealey’s his contact.”
“Not any more, he’s my
contact. Give me the phone number to
“I don’t have it, Sir,” Kirby
admitted with a degree of embarrassment. “Like I said, he’s Jeff’s contact.”
Donaghue rolled his eyes and
looked up at Kirby. The cold
expression, unlike anything Kirby had ever previously witnessed, made him
squirm uncomfortably in front of him.
“How Fisher ran a shoddy operation
like this is beyond me. But it’s about to change. Understand? Now get Tyler
here! He and I are going to have a little
“Yes, Sir, he’s in the building,
I’ll send him right up.”
“And get Mister Riordan too, I want
to see him immediately afterwards.”
“He’s over at property number
four, Sir, it’ll…”
“Yes, Sir,” Kirby nodded
vigorously. “Is there anything else?”
“No,” Donaghue frowned at him,
looking back down at the papers before him. “For now.”
Kirby frowned. It was a time of change for them all, but
only hours earlier, he had enjoyed a senior status which now seemed lost. Donaghue had Riordan and it seemed to Josh Kirby
that once his usefulness was at an end, Riordan would step in fully and take
over in the coveted position of right-hand man. He realised in that moment that it wasn’t the power he enjoyed;
the way Fisher ran things, he had none. In reality, Kirby had been little more
than a personal assistant and first line of defence, rather than a second in
command but he liked his job and he was good at it. The idea of being sidelined now, and by a well-known coward like
Riordan to boot, was not a happy one.
Donaghue felt the atmosphere in
the room. Having retained the real
Patrick Donaghue’s skills and knowledge, the Mysteron agent knew that this
particular situation had to be handled carefully. For the threat to be carried out smoothly, he required the
assistance of the Syndicate members. At
least at this early stage, he needed to retain their loyalty. Josh Kirby, although relatively mild when
compared against the likes of Harper and Tyler, was an integral part of
Fisher’s old regime. People respected him
and would be likely to follow his lead.
So far, he had confirmed his loyalty, but a little incentive, Donaghue
decided, would cement that loyalty.
Kirby had almost reached the door
by the time Donaghue looked up once more.
Using all of his retained people skills, the Mysteron agent called him
“Josh,” he spoke kindly, “I’m sorry,
I guess I’m a bit edgy over this plan. It’s risky, and it’s got to go smoothly
or people are going to end up in jail or worse.”
Kirby turned and forced a worried
smile. He was a hundred miles away from realising that the welfare of his gang
members was the last thing Donaghue could be concerned about.
“Come here, Josh,” Donaghue
Returning to the desk, Kirby
waited, not quite knowing what to expect.
“Mister Riordan has always been my
right hand man,” began Donaghue.
Here it comes! thought Kirby miserably.
“… But he never got involved in
the day-to-day running, the data, the files, the detail. You follow me?”
“I… think so, Sir.”
“Josh, you know more about this
Syndicate now than anyone and one this size takes a lot of running. I used to do it all myself. I couldn’t do
that now. I need someone I can trust
and who is up to the job. I fear Mister
Riordan… lacks certain skills required.
In other words, I think he doesn’t have what it takes. But you, Josh…” Like a well-drilled actor, the duplicate Donaghue made a dramatic
pause, and watched with satisfaction as he saw Josh Kirby’s growing interest
and anticipation appearing on his face.
And then moved on: “You did a great job for Fisher, Josh, and I suspect,
knowing him, that he seriously undervalued your skills. So…
I’d like you to carry on. What
do you say?”
“You can trust me, Mister
Donaghue,” Kirby replied with a broad grin.
“I know I can, Josh.”
“Sir,” Kirby began with some
hesitation, “what are you working on, exactly?”
“When I’ve worked it out, I’ll
explain everything, but for now, get me Tyler.”
“Yes, Sir,” replied Kirby turning
to leave once more.
Donaghue watched him as he closed
the door behind him. A cold,
calculating smile crossed his face, realising he had made another small step
toward carrying out the Mysterons’ instructions.
It was only a few minutes later
when a second knock at the door disturbed Donaghue from his thoughts and the
scheming plan that was taking form in his mind, while consulting his
papers. Closing the file, he looked up.
“Come in,” he called again,
sitting back in the chair.
The door was pushed open and Jeff
Tyler entered the room, casually. Tyler had been one of Ben Fisher’s men and,
therefore, something of an unknown quantity for Donaghue; but he was skilled at
evaluating people, his first impressions of them had rarely been wrong. Dropping a small carry-on bag by the door,
Tyler approached the desk. Donaghue did
nothing but stare at the man; it was a practised, calculated stare and had
often proved invaluable in assessing the people he was dealing with. Tyler stared back, unflinching, unblinking.
“You wanted to see me?” Tyler
finally broke the silence.
thought Donaghue, arrogant and
“We have a contact in the
WGPC. Captain Brealey. I want his phone number.”
“You want to see him?” queried
Tyler. “I can get him for you.”
“Perhaps it’s the way I’m saying
it?” Donaghue spoke, shaking his head with a sigh. “I want his number,” he repeated emphasising each word.
“That’s not the way it works,
Mister Donaghue, he…”
“… Will speak to me if he wants to
get paid. End of discussion. Give me the number.”
Tyler sighed. In truth, it wasn’t
Brealey who was the problem. Tyler
enjoyed the power of being the only one allowed to contact him. Even if he withheld the private number,
there were any number of other ways for Donaghue to contact him. It would only take a little longer. But Tyler didn’t fancy his chances of
staying alive if he crossed Donaghue so soon after the deaths of Fisher and
Harper. The man seemed totally ruthless – so different from what he had heard
of him from the past. And completely
“Sure.” Tyler leaned forward on
the desk and jotted the number onto a pad. “There.”
“Good.” Donaghue looked up at him
once more. “What else?”
“What else? What?” asked Tyler,
“You have something else to say.”
Tyler raised his eyebrows; it was
a statement not a question, he wondered what he’d done to make it so obvious.
“Well, yeah, I do, but I…”
“Out with it, I don’t have all
day!” Donaghue snapped.
“It’s about you.”
“What about me?” Donaghue narrowed
“Some time ago, Fisher told us
that Carlotta put a price on your head,” Tyler replied, referring to Anton
Carlotta, the Chicago Mob Boss who had, only a few months earlier, attempted a
take-over of Fisher’s Syndicate.
“What of it?” asked Donaghue
“Well, I happen to know that
there’s someone in the organisation who would be more than happy to try to
claim that bounty. For a price, I could
deal with the situation,” Tyler shrugged.
Donaghue laughed briefly and
nodded. “And what would that price be?”
“I’m not a greedy man, we could
say an even two million. You get to
stay alive and I get a nice bonus.”
“Two million?” Donaghue rose from
his seat and rounded the desk. “How
about you get zip and,” he paused to check himself over theatrically, “hey, I’m
Tyler scowled in annoyance.
“It’s your call, Mister Donaghue,
but don’t say you weren’t warned,” Tyler grumbled as he turned to leave.
As he reached the door, instead of
opening it, he quickly locked it.
Turning on his heels, he spun around, drawing his gun as he did.
Catching Donaghue totally off guard, Tyler fired quickly; the gun barely
produced a sound of huffed air as the bullet impacted into Donaghue’s chest,
sending him crumpling to the floor, where he lay still.
Tyler smiled to himself as he
unscrewed the silencer from the end of the gun barrel. Nobody had heard the
commotion in there so he didn’t have to worry about the rest of the gang
bursting in and surprising him. He was
rather pleased with himself over the way things had gone without a glitch. Of
course, Donaghue had refused his offer, but it was really of no concern, as he
was certain of at least one prize; five million dollars would set him up for
life. But perhaps there would be even
richer pickings to be had. Somebody had
to take over the Syndicate, after all. And why not him? He considered himself as capable as any
Tyler knew he might not have much time
before someone would eventually come in for some reason or other. Reaching into his bag, he grabbed a Polaroid
camera and moved toward Donaghue. First
checking for a pulse, just in case, he smiled maliciously at being unable to
find one; there was no question, he was definitely dead. Aiming the camera, he pressed the shutter.
Anton Carlotta would require proof before handing over such a large sum. A
picture of Donaghue’s dead body would convince him. Picking up his bag once more, Tyler stood by the rear door to the
office waiting eagerly for the picture to develop, not wanting to leave before
he was certain he had the proof he needed.
The picture started to form on the square of photographic paper he held
in his hand. He grinned as he watched
it, then reached for the handle of the rear door.
“I don’t think you got my best
Tyler turned in panic and horror
at hearing Donaghue’s voice. The latter was now standing straight, looking
implacably at him. He didn’t appear at all like a man who just had been shot
down. Only the small stain of blood in
the middle of his chest was serving as proof of what had just happened. Staring at the man he was certain was dead;
all Tyler could do at first was stammer.
“B-but how…? You were dead!”
Donaghue laughed. “Oh yeah?
Well, I obviously got better!
But you? You’re going to stay
Tyler threw down the carry-on bag
and reached for his gun, but Donaghue’s was already in his hand. A single shot was all it took to silence
Tyler as he slumped to the floor bleeding heavily from a shot to the head.
Donaghue could hear the commotion
outside the office as they tried to break in to the locked room. Casually, he replaced his gun in its holster
and reached for his jacket to hide the gunshot wound, which had clearly pierced
Only seconds afterwards, the door
splintered on its hinges and burst open.
In the doorway stood Kirby, O’Rourke and Riordan.
“Mister Donaghue, are you all
right?” asked O’Rourke with concern.
“I’m fine, Sean, thank you,” he
replied with casual ease.
“But Tyler?” Kirby voiced the
question for them all.
“Tyler was a traitor who thought
he could cash in on Carlotta’s bounty money.
I thought I’d made it perfectly clear that I wouldn’t tolerate anything
less than absolute loyalty, but I guess some people need more convincing than
others. If anyone else tries the same
stunt I’ll be happy to oblige them in much the same way. Understood?”
The question was followed by a
series of nods and murmurs, all of them keen to express their loyalty and avoid
the same fate as Tyler.
“Now, as you’re all here, I can
tell you about our next move.
Gentlemen, we are going to pull off nothing short of a coup. Something that will hit the headlines and
for its sheer ingenuity and audaciousness will be talked about for years to
Donaghue’s introduction to the
scheme drew their attention like moths around a light.
“There’s only one man good enough
to put a halt to our operations. A man who already had been a thorn in our side
in the past, as I’m sure you well know.
He’s about to receive a promotion that will make him even more of a
problem in the days to come. Therefore, we remove that man from the picture,
before he gets the chance to make life unbearable for us. Gentlemen, today… we will kill Commander Ian Stewart.”
Donaghue was greeted with open
mouths and wide-eyed expressions. Only
Josh Kirby remained unmoved. He
listened to the discomfited mutterings and slowly looked at each of them in
turn. None of them were willing to
speak out of turn, for fear that it be interpreted as disloyalty. Every one of
them knew Ian Stewart. The New York
WGPC commander who had caused so many problems to the Syndicate over the years.
They were well aware that, in the past, Stewart had done everything in his
power to stop Patrick Donaghue’s operations, get his hands on him and gather
proof of his illegal operations in order to arrest him. But as far as they could tell, he had come
up with nothing. It was probably the
only stain on his otherwise spotless career.
In the past, Patrick Donaghue had
done nothing against Commander Stewart – he knew he was after him, but didn’t
seem to be bothered with that. He was
always considering himself smarter than Stewart – or any cop for that matter –
enough anyway to keep everything out of their reach. And he had always considered Stewart a worthy opponent. He respected him. Yet now he wanted to kill him.
And… he wanted to do this
Seeing the uncomfortable and
uncertain expressions obvious in each of his men, Donaghue smiled reassuringly
“Josh will reunite the rest of the
gang and he’ll start explaining the plan. Sean, you’ll go with him, gather
“Yes, Mister Donaghue,” O’Rourke
“I’ll come in a short while. Matt,
you’ll stay with me, I want to speak to you alone.”
Riordan nodded and took a seat
near the desk as Donaghue gave some last minute instructions to Kirby. Distracted by the sight of Tyler’s dead body
lying only feet from the desk, Riordan’s eyes were drawn to it. As he turned his head, he noticed something
lying on the floor near the discarded carry-on bag. Casting a furtive glance behind him and seeing Donaghue still in
deep discussion with Kirby, he headed for the body. Pulling the white corner of what he now realised was a photo, he
was surprised to hear Donaghue’s voice behind him.
“Everything all right, Matt?”
“Uh, yeah,” he replied uneasily,
pushing the photo into his jacket pocket.
“Just checking him. You know,
making sure he’s dead. Not just hurt.”
“Oh, he’s dead all right, I made
sure of that,” replied Donaghue emphatically.
Riordan sighed and hung his head;
he barely recognised his friend, especially now. Statements like that would have
been impossible to imagine coming from him, only three short years
earlier. Riordan got to his feet and
turned to face Donaghue, watching as he lit a cigar. Everybody else had left,
and they were now alone.
“You seem a little distracted,
Matt. What’s on your mind?” Donaghue
“What have they done to you,
Pat? Spectrum, I mean. You were never like this.”
“I’ve learned to kill bad
guys. Tell me, Matt, the men I’ve
killed, were they good men? Will you
“That’s not the point!” Riordan
sighed hopelessly. “You never killed
before, never! And then there’s…”
Riordan broke off, unsure if he should continue.
“Yes, Matt? Then there’s what?” Donaghue’s tone had
become slightly aggressive.
“We’re holding a Spectrum officer
prisoner, Pat. That’s bad any way you
look at it. He knows you, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, he does,” Donaghue spoke
with indifference as he blew out a cloud of wispy grey smoke.
“I’ll deal with it, Matt,
personally. You have no reason to
Oh great! thought Riordan.
Now I’m REALLY worried!
“I’m going to deal with it now, as
it happens. Matt, I want you to stay
here for a little while. Josh needs
help getting some important information on the WGPC offices. I need a building schematic, and a few other
small things. I told him you’d hack in
and get it for us. That won’t be a problem, will it?”
“No, Pat, that won’t be a
problem,” Riordan sighed.
“Good. Then I’ll see you at, what do you call it? Property number five? Later?”
Riordan nodded. “I’ll leave as
soon as I’m finished.”
Riordan watched as Donaghue headed
into the outer office; turning once more to stare at Tyler’s body, he couldn’t
help but shiver.
Once out of the room, Donaghue
beckoned to O’Rourke and Kirby to approach him. The two men had already reunited five of the gang’s junior
members, who were presently entering what served as the conference room in the
“Josh, I count on you to tell the
boys everything that they need to know about the plan,” Donaghue spoke in a
business-like tone. “In the meantime,
I have a little business to attend to.
I need a driver. A man I can
“Yes, Sir. Billy will do. I’ll have him get the car,” Kirby replied.
“Thank you, Josh,” Donaghue
replied absently. “And… Josh?” he
frowned with distaste, “can you get rid of Tyler and sort out the mess? Oh, and I’ll need a new door.”
“I’ll get right on it, Mister
Donaghue,” Kirby replied, reaching for the phone to contact one of the
“A minute, Josh, I have another
little job for you,” Donaghue interrupted him, quietly pulling Kirby by the arm
to a corner of the office. “Mister Riordan, he’s getting a bit jumpy. Nothing to worry about I’m sure, but he’s
always been the nervous type, you know that.
I want you to watch him, closely.
Don’t let him be on his own.
It’s not in his best interests at the moment.”
“Sure, Mister Donaghue, whatever
you say,” Kirby agreed enthusiastically. “You know you can count on me.”
told himself inwardly, with a knowing nod.
“Good man. Sean, you’ll be coming with me.”
“Sir?” Sean O’Rourke asked with
uncertainty evident in his tone.
“You’ll have an important part to
play in the plan, as I told you earlier, and I want to give you the last
details of it. Right after my… business
is finished, we’ll go join the others at the rendezvous point.” Donaghue turned to Kirby as if to make sure
he had well understood his instruction.
Kirby nodded to the affirmative.
“We’ll all be there, Mister
“Good. We’ll catch you later,
Placing the cigar back into his
mouth, Donaghue went with O’Rourke to get a few things from his office, before
heading out to tie up some loose ends.
* * *
Captain Grey drew the
MSV up outside the apartment block just off Central Park West. There was no need to check if it was the
right one, the number of Spectrum security guards posted in and around the
building was an instant giveaway. Grey
nodded thoughtfully; they seemed to have the place well protected, with guards
posted at every vantage point and the road cordoned off; there seemed to be no
way to gain unauthorised entry.
“So,” Grey turned to Green
with a smile, “I guess this is where we find out if the rumours are true.”
“You mean, what Captain Ochre
said?” asked Green with curiosity.
Grey chuckled. “Yeah! If you can believe that anyone can
‘out-Ochre’ Ochre! The way he tells it,
he’ll be a cross between President Roberts and General Ward of the Frost Line
Outer Space Defence.”
“Oh, I remember him!” replied
Green. “He had the colonel pulling his hair out!”
“Yeah, he wanted to blow the
Mysteron Complex up all over again! He
was a nightmare to deal with. Can you
imagine what it would be like to have the two combined?”
“I can see how that would be a
serious problem,” agreed Green.
“I can’t see him being as bad as
Ochre suggests, my guess is that they don’t get on for some reason,” Grey
“Sour grapes, you mean?”
“Something like that,” replied Grey
unbuckling his harness. Looking up, he
could see Lieutenant Tan approaching the MSV.
“Ah, good, here’s Tan. He’ll be
able to update us on the situation.”
Lieutenant Tan had been standing at
the main entrance to the apartment building when the MSV arrived. Standing at an inch under six feet tall, he
cut a striking figure. Born Armando Spinnetti, in Florence, Italy, straight
from college he had attained distinction at the Giardello Military Academy in
Rome, subsequently working in the Italian diplomatic corps, and gaining himself
an outstanding reputation in security.
Joining Spectrum almost from its inception, Spinnetti trained at Koala
Base before transferring to Spectrum’s New York Headquarters on his commission
with the rank and colour code Lieutenant Tan.
More than satisfied with his work, only six months earlier, he had been
offered the role of Chief of Security at the newly rebuilt New York Maximum
Security Building, upon its completion; he eagerly accepted the position, which
was something he seemed almost born to do.
Opening the doors, Grey and Green
climbed down from the MSV; Grey extended a hand to the approaching Lieutenant.
“Lieutenant Tan,” Grey beamed a
smile at him. “Good to see you
again. What’s the situation here?”
Grey fully expected to hear a
report solely concerning the steps taken to secure the Commander’s safety and
the success of that operation thus far.
Instead he was somewhat taken aback to see Tan’s exasperated expression
as he shook his head with a sigh.
“Captain Grey, can I be straight
with you?” he asked with a pained frown.
“Sure, Lieutenant. What’s up?” Grey
asked leading the agitated Lieutenant to one side.
“He’s driving us crazy!”
Grey raised his eyebrows at so
blunt an admission. Tan continued:
“He’s stopped short of abuse but I
honestly think he would if he could get away with it.” The exhaustion was evident
on Tan’s face. “I just wish I could hand him over to you completely!”
Grey frowned; Lieutenant Tan was
not given to overreaction, it was more in his nature to understate a problem.
“What’s his problem?” asked Grey.
“He doesn’t see why he needs Spectrum
security. Says his own guys at the WGPC
can do just as well, if not better.”
“And he can order them about too!”
Grey replied astutely.
“Got it in one, Brad – er…
Grey smiled, Tan really was
flustered if he managed to forget protocol.
“That’s okay, Armando,” he said patting the younger man’s arm
sympathetically. “I’m warned. Let’s see if we can’t tame the tiger.”
“Good luck, Captain!”
Grey headed back towards Lieutenant
Green; the expression on his face was stern and gave little away.
“Is there a problem, Captain?”
asked Green with a quizzical look.
“Nothing we can’t handle, I’m
sure,” he replied cryptically. “Come
on, let’s go in.”
Grey headed the small group of
three Spectrum officers, his face set in a grim mask of determination. On reaching Commander Stewart’s apartment,
Grey and Green flashed their Spectrum passes
to the security guards standing in front of his door and were allowed to
enter. Grey was first struck by the
contents of the living room into which they stepped. On the walls there were collections of stamps set in frames. Books on stamp collecting adorning the
shelves, a magnifying glass and a couple of magazines on the subject rested on
the coffee table. In fact, everywhere
Grey looked there were stamps.
“Oh God!” Grey muttered under his
breath. “He IS Ochre!”
Lieutenant Green, looking around
with wide-opened yes, was thinking about the same. Replace the stamps by model planes and the picture would be perfect!
“Who are you?”
The voice came so suddenly and was
so abrupt that Grey was caught completely off guard. The voice was so severe, it was almost like being addressed by
Colonel White on a bad day. Losing all
his resolution, Grey suddenly found himself struggling to reply.
“Er…Sorry, Sir. Captain Grey, Spectrum and this is
“And I’m supposed to trust myself
to a guy who doesn’t know who he is?” Stewart snapped as he rose from the deep
armchair in which he had been sitting.
“I didn’t see you there, Sir.”
“You fill me with the utmost
confidence, Captain. If you can’t even
see me, I dread to think how you would see any would-be assassins.”
Grey counted to ten. Behind him he could hear Tan breathe a ghost
of a sigh and knew exactly how he felt.
“Now, Lieutenant Tan, for the
benefit of your near-sighted friend, perhaps you would explain that I neither
want nor need Spectrum protection. My
men at the WGPC are more than capable of handling the situation. Now I will ask you, very politely, to leave
my home and let me get on.”
“With respect, Sir…” began Grey.
“A sentence that begins ‘With
respect’ usually contains none whatsoever,” Stewart interrupted irritably.
“With respect, Sir,” Grey
nevertheless continued, “you have been
threatened by the Mysterons. That is
not something to be treated lightly.”
“I am not treating it lightly,
Captain. Are you suggesting that my men are a joke force, only capable of
performing the most menial of tasks?”
“No, Sir, not at all.” Grey was starting to realise how Tan had so quickly
reached the end of his tether. The man
was infuriating in the extreme, twisting words to his own ends. “I’m merely
suggesting that as we at Spectrum have greater experience with the Mysterons…”
“An assassin’s an assassin,
Captain. It’s not the first time a
Commander of the WGPC has been targeted by some crank. You may recall the unfortunate Commander
Richard Fraser of some years ago?” Grey
kept a set face, and Stewart continued, shrugging. “Well, unlike him, I’m not
going to take any chances. My men can
take the responsibility, for which they are more than capable. Now, if you would, Captain, I’d like you to
escort your men off the premises and return to your respective offices.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,
Commander,” replied Grey sternly; having decided that he and the rest of the
Spectrum officers had taken enough abuse from the man. “You have been threatened by the Mysterons,
that makes it Spectrum’s business by Presidential Order.”
Grey noticed Stewart open his mouth
to argue and continued quickly:
“If you still object, Sir, you
can take it up with the World President,
but I doubt that he would share your concerns about the organisation he helped
to found.” Grey paused for a moment, watching Stewart’s reaction, then added,
Stewart glared at Grey; the pair
stared at each other, unblinking for a few moments before Stewart spoke again.
“What is your plan, Captain?” he
“We have a Maximum Security Vehicle
downstairs, Sir. We intend to take you
to the Maximum Security Building.”
“You mean the place the Mysterons
blew up about two years ago?” Stewart scoffed loudly. “That’s your idea of protection is it?”
“Sir, that was before we knew
anything about them. We are much more
prepared, and we have methods to detect and kill their agents now. Since its
reconstruction, the Building is much more secure. And one of our men has spent
a considerable amount of time making additional security improvements. You will be quite safe, Sir.”
“Very well,” Stewart grumbled. “Seeing as I don’t really have a choice…”
“I’ll wait while you get ready to
leave, Sir. Lieutenants Green and Tan will accompany you in the MSV passenger
Stewart sighed heavily as,
accompanied by a Spectrum security guard, he headed for the bedroom to pack a bag
while Grey waited in the living room.
Grey turned to Tan and rolled his
eyes. “Good thing he agreed to come on
his own! I wouldn’t have wanted to drag him down there.”
Tan smiled; it was hard to know if
Grey was being serious or not, but he had to admit, it was a thought that had
crossed his mind too.
“I’ll meet you downstairs in a
little while,” Grey continued with a sigh.
“S.I.G.,” Green grinned as he
turned to leave with Tan. Heading down
the stairs once more, Green turned to Tan with a knowing smile. “That was a serious battle of wills up
“Actually,” replied Tan with a
straight face, “I think it was more a battle of ‘won’ts’!”
The pair laughed quietly as they
returned to the MSV, glad the confrontation was over with, for now at least.
* * *
This was getting out of hand.
WAY out of hand, Matt
Riordan was thinking as he was working frenetically on his computer, in order
to find the information that Patrick Donaghue had requested of him.
As he had said to Donaghue, it
wasn’t a problem. He had easily found
what he was looking for. And more,
even. But as he was downloading the
information onto a disk, he was wondering why he was doing it. Why he had accepted so easily to follow
those orders, even though he knew it could very well signify the death of one
Because you’re a coward, Matt, that’s why!
he told himself
He knew that Donaghue would never
take no for an answer, and he was so very afraid for his life. He had no doubt in
his mind that his ‘old friend’ would kill him as easily as he had killed
Jack. Or Fisher. Or Tyler.
Or like he was preparing to kill that Spectrum officer he was detaining
at the warehouse. He would not hesitate
for one instant.
Riordan had seen how Donaghue had
been in action up until now. So
ruthless, so unpredictable, and cold.
So unemotional. It was exactly as if he wasn’t feeling anything anymore. The way he was looking at all of them, he
didn’t have any consideration for anyone.
They were mere tools to be used for his own purposes.
That wasn’t the Patrick Donaghue
Riordan knew. The man that he was in
the past, even though he was head of one of the most significant mob
organisations of the New York area, he was a caring one, considerate, and one
who would have never accepted that his men would kill on his behalf. That was what set him apart from all the
other gang bosses in those times. They
were all cold and ruthless killers.
Donaghue was not. His were
always clean operations, and nobody would get hurt. At least, physically, if not financially.
Riordan permitted himself a faint
smile of amusement upon remembering that old, rich – so very rich – financier
from Wall Street – a self-made successful businessman who said to anyone willing
to listen to him that he had made an household name of himself when he had
started his business at twenty, with only a thousand dollars in his pocket, and
by taking no prisoners in the market – the man had been known as a ruthless,
heartless businessman who had driven many competitors and less fortunate
companies into the ground, leaving nothing for their owners to survive on. The arrogant, self-satisfied son-of-a-gun
had publicly proclaimed that his computer systems were completely protected
from any attempt to hack into them.
That was a challenge Pat had been unable to ignore. He hacked into the systems, cut through all
the security devices implanted in them and had drained the man of all his
assets. Then he had generously
deposited an amount of a hundred thousand dollars in a personal account set up
in the man’s name, and had sent him a note, telling him that now he could start
his business again with a hundred times what he had when first he did forty
years ago. The daring exploit had made
the front page news at the time – with everyone in the business world wondering
who had been able to do that – and trembling that he would start again, with
any one of them.
Those days were gone now, Riordan
realised bitterly. Pat Donaghue had
become as ruthless and bloodthirsty as any of his mob competitors of the
time. If not worse.
How could he have changed so much,
and so quickly? That was still a
mystery to Matt. He finished the job on
his computer, and sat down on his chair, thoughtfully. Some months ago, the last time he had
encountered Pat; he was apparently still the same. Aside from that burning anger he was feeling for Ben Fisher, that
is, but even that was quite understandable, considering all Fisher had done to
him in the recent past – added to which, he was holding Pat’s sister Sarah as a
hostage, to force Pat to do something for him.
Pat had sworn to Fisher that if he ever used his family against him
again, he would kill him, but that was the limit of Pat’s ruthlessness at the
time. Probably Fisher got the message,
because he never attempted to approach Sarah Donaghue again. Not that it would have served him, anyway,
since he had no reason to use her anymore.
But Matt Riordan was sincerely asking himself if Fisher wasn’t really
afraid of Pat at the time. He would
probably never have the answer to that question.
What happened between that time and today?
Matt was asking himself, his brow furrowed. Pat was still a Spectrum officer then – and
apparently a very dedicated one, loyal to his friends and his job. There wasn’t really a good explanation for
his present behaviour, that was really troubling Riordan. He couldn’t explain it to himself.
Turning around on his seat; Riordan
looked out through the window of the office, set on the second floor. Down there, in the dead-end alley behind the
building, he could see a dark, impressive car which had been brought up in
front of the service door, of the other wing, that Riordan could see very well. Billy Brennan, one of the gang’s minor
members, had stepped out to open the rear door, just as Pat Donaghue came out
of the building from the service door, his long, expensive coat almost flapping
in the wind at each step, casually smoking a cigar that he threw away just
before getting into the car. Behind him, Sean O’Rourke following, getting into
the car on the other side. Riordan shivered almost despite himself when Billy
closed the door and took his place back at the wheel, driving the car
away. All of Riordan’s thoughts
instantly went to the Spectrum officer the gang was keeping captive at the
warehouse. He knew that Donaghue was
going there to see him.
To ‘deal’ with the problem.
Riordan shivered anew. He knew exactly how Donaghue intended to
deal with it, and he didn’t like it at all.
It was one thing that Pat had killed Fisher and the others – they were
criminals, rivals, killers, probably they deserved to die, not withstanding the
fact that there wasn’t really a need for it.
Nobody would really miss them, and certainly nobody would cry over them. But a Spectrum officer? Now that was more serious. It was plain, cold-blooded murder of a man
whose function was related to that of an international policeman – more, a
member of an anti-terrorist organisation.
Riordan didn’t want to get mixed up
with that, but what could he do?
“For God’s sakes, Pat,” he mumbled
with a deep sigh. “What happened to you? Did you snap under pressure at
Spectrum? Have you gone completely crazy?”
He grimly watched as the car
disappeared from his view, after turning the corner of the alley. He sighed
again, heavily. Pat was going to kill a
Spectrum officer – one of his own colleagues.
And after that, he was planning to assassinate his old adversary Ian
Stewart – a man that he had tremendous respect for, despite the fact that
Stewart tried to arrest him. And
apparently, now Pat would kill him without a second thought. Riordan felt as if he could do nothing but
look on helplessly – all the while hoping that he too would not become a victim
of Pat’s madness.
In frustration, Riordan pushed his
fists into the pockets of his jacket.
He felt something inside the right one.
He then remembered the picture he had picked up from the floor, not that
far away from the dead body of Tyler, and had quickly hidden in his pocket to
avoid Donaghue seeing it.
He got it out, merely out of morbid
curiosity, wondering what it could be about.
When he turned it in his hand to check the picture, he frowned deeply.
It showed Patrick Donaghue,
sprawled on his back on the floor of the very office Riordan was presently
sitting in. With a red dot of blood
staining the white of his expensive shirt.
Dead centre in the chest – where the heart would be.
What’s that supposed to mean? Riordan asked himself, not understanding any of it. The date and time stamp on the photo told
him that it had been taken barely an hour ago – at about the moment of Tyler’s
death. Pat had said that Tyler had
tried to kill him to collect on Carlotta’s bounty money. Did Tyler actually shoot Pat and then take
this photo as some kind of proof? But…
Pat didn’t appear wounded earlier…
A bullet proof vest,
decided. He was wearing a bullet proof vest when Tyler tried to kill him. Then Pat surprised him and killed him, and…
No. Where was that blood stain coming from, then?
Well… they do it all the time in Hollywood, no? Sachets of fake blood on actors’ chests, to
make believe they’re dead and…
That sounded so stupid! Would Patrick Donaghue REALLY go to such
extremes to make an enemy believe he was dead, in order to shoot him?
Quite unlikely. How more absurd could that be?
Riordan couldn’t find a logical
explanation for the photo – although he was quite sure there was one. There
MUST be one, he added inwardly, rather unnerved. And the person who would be able to tell him about it would be
Patrick Donaghue himself. But Riordan
wasn’t that eager to ask him about it…
There was something very disturbing about that picture, and he was sure
it was hiding something terribly wrong concerning his friend…
That’s it, this is the last straw. I have had enough of all this! Riordan suddenly decided that he wouldn’t stay
around to wait for the ship to sink under his feet. He had to get out of all this, and put a good deal of distance
between himself and Patrick Donaghue.
Away, as far away as he could get.
Mars would be far away enough! he thought grimly. He grabbed for his jacket, hanging on
the back of the chair he was working on.
He wouldn’t go through the front door.
The men in the other room would see him go; maybe they wouldn’t ask
anything, but Riordan didn’t want to take the risk… Who knew if Pat hadn’t
asked them to keep their eyes on him?
He would take the back door; which
led directly outside. Quietly opening
it, taking care not to make a sound, he stepped out and walked down the narrow
flight of stairs and out into the dead-end alley where he had seen Donaghue get
into a car a short while earlier.
Riordan’s car was parked in the street, just beyond the alley. He only had a short walk before reaching
it. He looked over his shoulder often,
making sure nobody was following him – or watching him.
Nobody in sight. Riordan let out a sigh of relief only when
he finally reached his car. He fumbled a
moment with his key, searching the right one to unlock the door, and when he
finally found it, he literally jumped behind the wheel.
His key stopped short at the
ignition. Something flashed into his
mind. Something that was making him
fight with his conscience.
“Scarlet,” he muttered under his
breath. “Can’t leave him in trouble…”
He reached for his cellular phone
in his inside pocket and hurriedly dialled a number – ironically, it had been
Pat, some months ago, who had given it to him.
He never thought he would use it again – and this time against his
He hoped the number was still
working. He waited, rubbing his sweaty
hand against his lap.
“Spectrum New York Headquarters… How can we be of service?”
Riordan’s heart jumped in his chest when he
heard the female voice at the other end of the line. He closed his eyes and drew a deep breath.
“It’s me who can help you,” he said
quickly, trying to render his voice as firm as possible – but obviously failing
to do so. “I have information that you
might be interested in.”
“Your name, sir?” the
voice asked patiently.
“Never mind my name. That’s not important. You have a missing officer at the
moment. Captain Scarlet. I know where he is.”
“Would you like to talk to an investigating officer, sir?”
“Never mind the investigating
officer. You have to act fast! He’s in danger… They’re going to kill him!”
“Sir, if you would just wait a short instant, I’ll transfer
“Lady, I don’t have an
instant! My name is Matt Riordan, and
my life may also be in danger.” Riordan
closed his eyes again. Why did I have to
tell her my name? he thought with irritation. He opened his eyes again.
“Look. I’m telling you they’re going to
kill him. If you act quickly enough,
you might be able to save him. They’re
in a warehouse, on the harbour docks, by the Hudson River. The number is…”
A sudden movement at his left, on
the other side of the door window caught Riordan’s eye. His heart jumping, he quickly cut the
communication, and hid the phone, hoping he was swift enough. About that same moment, the rear door from
his side opened wide and someone climbed in to sit down. Looking over his shoulders, Riordan saw Cody
Flint, one of Kirby’s trusted hired hands, seated right behind him, very
casually. Riordan started to protest:
“What the hell…”
The sound of another slammed door
made him turn to his right; Josh Kirby himself had just climbed into the car,
settling himself comfortably. Riordan’s face became awfully pale, upon seeing
the large sneer widening on Kirby’s face.
“Hello, there, Matt,” Kirby asked
with an even, almost cold tone, turning to Riordan. “What’re you doing here all alone? I thought you were in the office, working for Mister Donaghue?”
“I… needed some fresh air,” started
Riordan, knowing, even as he spoke, that it sounded like a dull explanation.
“And you get into your car to get
it?” Kirby asked innocently.
Riordan somehow got a hold of
himself. There was no way he was going
to let himself be intimidated by Kirby. “I wanted to get myself a drink,” he
replied in a dry enough tone. “Is there a law against that?”
“No, not really. But I’m pretty sure Mister Donaghue wouldn’t
want for you to get drunk JUST before going into that important operation of
“I don’t have to explain myself to
you,” Riordan replied with an exasperated sigh. “It would be between Mister
Donaghue and myself.”
Kirby’s face became implacable for
the space of an instant. Then he sat
back on his seat and a new, very thin smile appeared on his lips. “Quite right, that. So… why
don’t we go see him right now, then, see what he thinks about it?” He casually pointed to the ignition
key. “Switch it on, Matt. I’m letting you drive. You know the way, don’t you?”
Riordan kept himself from
scowling. He couldn’t see any way for him
to get away. He knew that Flint behind
always carried a gun – and he would have bet anything that Kirby was armed too,
and so willing to shoot him if he only felt
that he needed to.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, turning toward
the wheel. “I know the way all right.”
With an impending sense of doom, he
turned the key.
* * *
Each blow felt like it
was being dealt by a hammer.
At least that’s how it felt to
Captain Scarlet, as he was given the worst punishment he ever remembered
receiving. What was worse was that he
couldn’t even defend himself. Given the
chance, he would have tried to answer his assailant in kind. Even if that the latter was bigger and
obviously stronger than him, Scarlet could hardly be considered a wimp – six
foot one, strong enough himself, and he had had military training in all forms
of combat to stand his ground against any adversary – and eventually win. But in the kind of situation he was facing
at the moment, there was little he could do.
And it didn’t look as if it was going to improve. Quite the contrary.
He was in a large room,
all made of wood – walls, floor, and high ceiling, with studs supporting the
whole structure. No windows in the
place, only a door at the far side of the room, which was closed. As far as Scarlet could tell, by the
collection of ill-assembled objects and tools lying everywhere around the
place, it looked like it had been, in its time, a storage area. That was all he had been able to figure out;
he had been unconscious when he had been brought there and he didn’t even know
how long it had lasted. He had been
awakened rather roughly, by the contents of a bucket of very cold water, to
find himself stripped to the waist of his uniform, in his undershirt, and tied
to a very uncomfortable wooden chair, hands behind his back and ankles roped to
the chair legs. There were three men in
there with him – one of them, the size of a mountain, he recognized as the man
who had attacked him at Matt Riordan’s place.
As soon as he opened his
eyes, and as he was still trying to focus on his surroundings and trying to get
his bearings back, the questions started.
And Scarlet obstinately refused to answer any of them.
And that’s when the pain really
The man-mountain had
started hitting him. Over and over
again. Punching, slapping, back-handing…
His hands were enormous, and heavy and every time he used them, it was
as if he was putting all of his weight behind them. The two other men were watching stoically at some distance, not
involving themselves with the beating, but stopping the punishment from time to
time, to ask Scarlet the same questions they had already asked him: what was he doing in Matt Riordan’s
apartment? How did he track him
there? What was it Spectrum was looking
for? It was rather frustrating that
the captain wasn’t willing to answer, even after what seemed like long hours of
interrogation. It was worse that he was
keeping completely silent. Not even a
smart comeback from him, not a single word.
It was as if he had gone totally mute.
The only sounds he was allowing to come out of him were the grunts and
groans following each of their huge friend’s blows.
Scarlet wasn’t very
surprised when he overheard the name the others gave to the monster of a man
who was hitting him, blow after devastating blow. Ox. Strong as his name was implying. Scarlet had heard of him.
And had seen the results of his skills when the man had attacked and
beaten Captain Grey nearly to a pulp.
Grey had been forced to stay in Cloudbase sickbay for days – Doctor Fawn
believing he had been the victim of a group attack – and that he had probably
been hit with clubs or baseball bats.
Scarlet had hardly believed Grey when he had reluctantly told him the
truth – considering that Grey was a man more than able to hold his own in a
Now Scarlet knew perfectly how
Grey had felt.
Ox was an enforcer of
the Donaghue gang. Captain Magenta had admitted that – ashamedly enough – when
Grey had revealed the name of his attacker.
For Scarlet, learning the name of the strong man had led to the
realization that the last image he had seen before being knocked out wasn’t a
dream – however improbable it apparently was. His mind was having considerable
difficulty focusing, with the punishment he was receiving, to be able to
concentrate on the problem, and it wasn’t very clear yet, but he had a fairly
good idea how it might have happened.
Finally drained of his strength by
the punishing blows, Scarlet fell unconscious again – probably knocked out by
one of the man-mountain’s powerful punches.
Again, he was awoken when cold water was poured over his head. Shivering
under the icy shower, he opened his eyes tiredly to look numbly around. The two
other men had gone away, leaving him in the care of his huge tormentor. His
whole body hurt in places he didn’t know he had. The backrest of the chair was
pressing painfully against his armpits, and he couldn’t even move them to ease
the discomfort. He could feel his
wrists burning, the ropes binding them having deeply abraded them, not allowing
his retrometabolism to, at least, heal them fully. His healing ability was of little consolation and help in the
present situation, under the continuous assaults of the man who had been
hitting him. It was nothing short of a
miracle that nobody had noticed that many of the wounds inflicted on him were
already healed. But then again, Ox had
not stopped long enough to look closely at his handiwork on his prisoner’s
bruised and bloody face and upper body.
He never noticed that his fists were inflicting new injuries over the
previous ones, as they were fading.
That made Scarlet’s dazed mind wonder, at some point, if the man was all
“Come on, now,
Spectrum,” Ox growled, standing at his full height over the officer, whose body
was now resting limply on the wooden chair.
“If you know what’s good for you, you’d better tell me something… Anything that we want to know.” He cracked the fingers of his right hands in
an ominous way, so to get his captive’s attention. Scarlet could barely react.
He had trouble thinking; he could feel blood running down his left
temple, where Ox had hit him repeatedly.
He was sure he had a concussion. He made an effort to raise his heavy
head in the direction of the man,
shooting him a look that was so very cold and determined, despite the
mess he knew his face was in. Ox didn’t
appear impressed in the least. He
violently backhanded his captive, sending his head to one side. Scarlet felt a shooting pain reverberating
through his skull.
“I can go on like this
all day,” the huge man continued, shaking his head. “Is that what you want me to do?” He crouched beside the groaning captain, and took a handful of
hair, pulling his head up, and forcing a moan out of his lips. “You won’t like that, I can tell you. ‘Course, I can also kill you, with my bare
hands… An accident can always
happen.” Scarlet’s breathing was
heavy, and he was obviously in a lot of pain.
His head felt numb in Ox’s grip and was threatening to fall
forward. The big man got closer to his
ear. “I’m normally a nice guy, Spectrum,” he whispered, threateningly, “but
there’s something you ought to know about me:
I HATE guys in uniform. Police,
Spectrum… They’re all symbols of
authority I can’t bear. What makes it
WORSE for you: I also hate Brits. So you can say you’re still in for a hard
He violently released
his grip, and was somehow surprised when his captive found the strength to keep
it straight enough to stare at him again, in complete and cold silence. Ox’s immediate answer was a punch that
forced Scarlet’s eyes down.
“You want to play tough, Spectrum,
I’m more than happy to oblige!”
Ox raised his fist
again, furious to see this man able to resist him this way when others would
normally fall down and play dead. A quiet voice suddenly made itself heard,
stopping him in full swing.
“You can stop now, Ox, it’s
Ox raised his eyes from
the limp form seated in front of him and looked in the direction of the
door. He had not noticed that somebody had
opened it a minute or so earlier. Now
he could see a dark silhouette standing in the doorway, looking at him, and
quietly smoking his small cigar.
“That’s a tough one, sir,” Ox said
lowering his arm. “I’ve never seen
anyone standing against me like he does. I can’t get anything out of him.”
“I know, I don’t blame you.” Patrick Donaghue entered the room fully,
just as Scarlet was slowly raising his heavy head to look in his direction.
“You could hit him ‘til Kingdom come.
It wouldn’t do you any good.” Despite the obvious pain he was in, there
were daggers in the Spectrum’s officer’s eyes.
Donaghue coldly gazed down at him, before blowing out some smoke and
taking his cigar in his hand. “Now, if
you would excuse us a moment, I would like to talk to the good captain. Alone.”
“You’re sure, Mister Donaghue?” Ox
asked with uncertainty. “Is that safe?”
“Now what could he do,
trussed up like he is? Please, Ox. You
know I can take care of myself.”
“All right, sir. I’ll be in the other room if you need me.” With a sigh, Ox took his jacket, lying on a
small toolbox nearby and directed his steps toward the exit.
“Close the door on your
way out,” Donaghue instructed him, looking down at the captive, who had lowered
his aching head. “I don’t want to be
Scarlet heard the heavy steps fade
away, then the door close. A few seconds passed, before another sound made
itself heard. “You must excuse Ox,” the
voice of Pat Donaghue remarked in a business-like tone. “He’s really a great
guy… He’s just overzealous, when it
concerns business. At other times, you’d like him.”
Scarlet grunted. “I
doubt it.” Those were the first words
he had pronounced since he had been taken prisoner. The sour taste he was feeling
in his mouth trickled down into his throat and that made him cough, causing a
new pain in his chest. He didn’t know
how many ribs Ox had broken. A few
certainly. He raised his eyes, and
turned his head, to briefly look in Donaghue’s direction. The latter was quietly staring down at him,
chewing his cigar, obviously thinking.
“I didn’t realize Patrick Donaghue
had ever smoked,” Scarlet mumbled, lowering his gaze, and giving a sigh as he
was trying to get his breathing back to a normal rate. Donaghue calmly shook
his head and removed the cigarillo from his lips, while walking with a slow and
casual step to position himself in front of Scarlet.
“Oh yes, that… Well, no, I hardly
smoked. This brand of cigars only, and
only occasionally. It gives a certain
look, don’t you think?” Scarlet barely
glanced up to him. Donaghue shrugged
and threw the cigar on the floor, before stepping on it. “Anyway, I stopped, about three months
before joining Spectrum…”
“YOU didn’t join
Spectrum,” Scarlet mumbled in reply, fighting to regain his focus.
Either Donaghue didn’t hear him at
all, or heard and ignored the allusion.
He approached and crouched down in front of Scarlet, and stared closely
at him. He stretched out his right hand
to raise the Spectrum officer’s heavy and tired head and turned it to the side
to check on the open and bleeding wound just under the hair-line. He narrowed his eyes as if he was examining
it with an expert eye. Scarlet didn’t even have the strength to draw away.
“Already healing,” Donaghue said
with an approving nod. “It’s amazing how you retained the retrometabolic power
to help with any injury you get…”
Scarlet then found enough energy
to pull away from Donaghue’s touch, with obvious disgust. “You ought to know,”
he said, looking up to him with blazing eyes. “You’re a Mysteron, right?”
“Nothing gets by you, does it,
Paul?” Donaghue replied very quietly.
“Don’t call me that,” Scarlet
spat. He narrowed his eyes, his mind
now fully functioning, and the situation becoming clearer. “You were duplicated following that accident
in Vermont,” he murmured. “When Magenta
drowned in that lake.”
“You got it, champ.”
“Those men at the scene,” Scarlet
continued. “One in dark clothing…
Captain Black, of course.” Donaghue
nodded again, very slowly. Scarlet
grunted with irritation. “I knew
something was wrong. I should have
trusted my instinct!”
“You should have,
maybe,” Donaghue agreed. “But, what
difference would that have made?” He
rose to his feet. “Would that have
saved your friend?”
Scarlet didn’t reply. So, obviously, this Mysteron duplicate of
Magenta was unaware that his original was alive. He didn’t know what impact that might have – on either the real
Magenta, the duplicate or even the situation.
But he certainly wasn’t about to reveal the truth. He didn’t know what kind of advantage it
could give to Spectrum. If any.
“You came here to New York and
took over Patrick Donaghue’s old gang from Ben Fisher,” Scarlet remarked
matter-of-factly. “I bet he wasn’t easy to convince…”
“Oh, he was, really,” Donaghue
answered matter-of-factly. “All it took
was one bullet. He was… well, standing about where I am, when he finally
“You killed him.”
“Of course. There was no other
“Why?” Scarlet snapped. “You certainly
didn’t take over out of interest. It
isn’t the Mysterons’ way. What are you
up to? What’s your mission?”
“You mean you don’t
know?” Donaghue asked with a faint frown. When Scarlet answered only with a
deep silence, he slowly shook his head. “I noticed you did seem surprised to
see me at Matt’s place. So I guess you
weren’t there to investigate my… mission at all, right? ‘Only the accounts’,
Matt told me.” He sighed, moving around
to Scarlet’s right. “Okay, I was careless when I accessed those accounts. It never occurred to me that would raise
Spectrum’s interest at all.”
Scarlet nodded his
understanding. For what it was worth,
Martin Conners had been, somehow, right about Patrick Donaghue having accessed
the accounts. He just didn’t have any
idea that it was in fact a Mysteron
duplicate of Patrick Donaghue.
Scarlet wondered which
was scarier: the fact that there was a
Magenta duplicate around, or that Conners had found a clue that something odd
was going on…
“It did,” he replied with an icy
and firmer tone to Donaghue’s remark. “What did you need that money for?”
“I needed liquidity for a few
things,” Donaghue replied with a casual shrug.
“Transportation, weapons, equipment, clothes… You didn’t think I would try to take over my old gang again,
wearing a Spectrum uniform?” He
gestured toward the outfit he was wearing.
“I had to look the part. What do
you think, not bad, uh? Carnation and
“What are you up to?” Scarlet
asked again. “You obviously need the gang’s resources for your mission.”
“Oh, that I do. You mean, you
really don’t know what the target is?”
Donaghue replied. “The Mysterons
didn’t make a secret of it, though. And
you’ve got to appreciate the irony…” He chuckled softly. “Even I
can appreciate it.”
Donaghue turned around, to walk
toward a dark corner of the room, followed by Scarlet’s curious eyes. While the Mysteron agent crouched down to
take something from under a large canvas, the Spectrum officer tested the
strength of his bonds. They were solid,
and bit even deeper into his flesh.
There were no way he was going to free himself from them.
Donaghue got to his
feet, a rattling sound accompanying his movement. Scarlet looked on as he came back in front of him, bringing a
long and sturdy chain, that he let fall noisily at the captain’s feet. Scarlet briefly looked at it, before staring
back at the Mysteron; the latter’s face was now implacable.
“I’m sorry, Captain
Scarlet,” Donaghue said, his voice now cold.
“But the Mysterons still consider you a dangerous liability.”
“What are you going to do to me?”
Scarlet asked with a frown.
“Kill you,” Donaghue shrugged, with a near indifference,
then pointed at the chain at Scarlet’s feet, “then weigh you down with these…”
He leaned over a trap door cut in the floor, next to the chair. He pulled on the large metal level to open
the door and Scarlet then stared straight at a watery surface, about three feet
below the opening. He shivered, almost despite himself. “That’s the Hudson River down there,”
explained Donaghue with the same business-like tone. “This place is called ‘The Drop’. The reason why is obvious.
Actually, it was Fisher who ‘affectionately’ called it that. I’m afraid you’re going to keep company with
that scum at the bottom of the river.”
“What, no cement shoes?” Scarlet
noted with dry sarcasm, trying to render his voice firm. In truth, he wasn’t
looking forward to be thrown through that trap at all, and drown into that
murky, filthy water.
“That would be too
cliché,” Donaghue replied. “Beside,
cement takes time to dry. Time I can’t
allow myself to lose.” He drew a pistol
from his pocket and pointed it at Scarlet. “I won’t have you suffer needlessly,
Paul. You were a true friend. Out of all the others from the senior staff, you
were the first to accept me freely, without any condition…”
“STOP talking as if you
were Patrick Donaghue!” Scarlet lashed out angrily, pulling on his bonds. “You are not him!”
“Right,” the Mysteron agent
replied very coldly. “Like you are not
Paul Metcalfe?” That made Scarlet
hesitate a second. He kept his face
hard, as Donaghue levelled the gun at him. “I am truly sorry to have to do this, whether you believe it or not.”
In a split second, just as he saw
the finger squeeze the trigger, Scarlet made a last desperate attempt and
pushed violently against the chair’s backrest with the hope of making it tilt
enough for him to escape the bullet that was meant to kill him. He heard the detonation at the same instant
as the chair started falling, and almost right away, felt the searing pain of
the bullet’s impact. He was still
conscious enough to feel himself crashing to the floor, his head roughly
hitting the surface. But it only lasted
a very short second.
Then he saw and felt
nothing else but the darkness and the cold surrounding him.
TO BE CONTINUED
IN PART 4
BACK TO PART 2
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Other stories by Chris Bishop
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