Original series Suitable for all readersMedium level of violence

Dead ringer


A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” story


By Chris Bishop & Sue Stanhope







With one Spectrum Patrol Car up front and one behind it, and the Angels flying overhead, the MSV arrived in front of the newly operational Spectrum Maximum Security Building, New York.  It had taken nearly two years to rebuild the building, practically at the same spot where the previous one – which had been destroyed by the Mysterons in their first attack on Earth – had stood.  While quite similar to the previous building in appearance, the new one had undergone a few modifications – and a large number of security updates.  It was shorter in height, with five floors removed from the top, but three more levels deep down underground, with walls of reinforced steel of even better quality than before, armour-plated lift cabins and doors, and additional cameras watching nearly every corner of the place.  That was only a small part of all the improvements made to the building.  There was much more to it than met the eye at first glance. 

Captain Grey and Lieutenant Green, riding in the first SPC, had their ID checked out by security guards, in front of the entrance to the building’s private underground parking lot, and the cortege quietly went in. 

“So far, so good,” Grey muttered.  In the MSV behind, Lieutenant Tan was riding with Commander Stewart.  From the few communications he had had with the young lieutenant, Grey had learned that Stewart was behaving himself – keeping very quiet, although asking a few questions about security now and then.  He  had calmed down considerably, and was now curious about how Spectrum would proceed to protect him from any attempt by the Mysterons.  But, Grey had the feeling Tan had not been entirely truthful with him.  From what he had seen of Stewart earlier, he had trouble imagining him as being totally civilised – especially toward a Spectrum agent.

The cortège stopped in front of the door leading into the building itself, where Spectrum security agents were standing.  Grey and Green got out of the front SPC and went to stand next to the MSV passenger cabin hatch.  It opened up in front of them.  First, Lieutenant Tan stepped out, and was then followed by Commander Stewart, who was straightening his jacket, in a dignified fashion.  Following standard procedure, the MSV stayed in front of the door, providing an added protective shield, until Stewart was safely inside the building, flanked by the three colour-coded officers.   Only then did Green contact the MSV driver and instruct him to drive the vehicle off. 

“Contact Building B,” Grey said in the meantime to Tan.  “Make sure everything is ready in case of emergency.  Have your men check and double-check all personnel at every shift change, and send me a list every time.”

“You’re not taking any chances, are you, Captain?” Stewart then said, turning around on his heels, having heard Grey’s instructions.  “Well, I can understand that…  after all, the building that was previously standing at this spot was blown up by those same Mysterons that are now threatening me.  I would be nervous too, in your place.”

“I am not nervous, Commander, but you are right on one account.  I don’t want to take even one chance.”  Grey turned again to Tan. “You’ll stand guard in the Control Room on the first floor, Lieutenant Tan.  Lieutenant Green and I will go down to the Presidential Suite with Commander Stewart.  Report every two hours, on the hour.”

“S.I.G., Captain.”

Lieutenant Tan followed the three men through another control point, where they left their weapons – which weren’t allowed down in the Presidential Suite – and were checked with a Mysteron detector yet again.  Stewart tolerantly submitted himself to the test, like everyone else, not saying a word, but obviously curious about the reason for that particular last check-up, and what it might reveal. When Stewart asked what it was for, Grey was as truthful as he dared to be. 

“It’s a simple X-ray check, Commander.  Just to verity that none of us is carrying weapons on his person.  There isn’t MUCH you can hide from an X-ray check, is there?”

Stewart shrugged; he didn’t notice the smug expression on Green’s face; only the young Trinidadian could appreciate Grey’s tongue-in-cheek humour.

 Commander Stewart, Captain Grey and Lieutenant Green were then escorted by Lieutenant Tan and two security guards to the elevators.  In the new building, there were now three elevators leading underground – but only one of them led to the Presidential Suite, on the lowest of the subterranean floors.  The three men entered that one.  It was only when the doors slid closed on them and they were on their way down that Tan left, and walked away toward the Control Room, lowering his cap mic in the process.  “Lieutenant Tan to all personnel.  Target now securely on its way to the Presidential Suite. Hold your stations until they get there.”


While the level indicator was steadily counting down the remaining distance to their destination, Stewart was looking around at the reinforced walls and doors, with a growing curiosity.   The lift finally touched down, ever so smoothly, and the door slid open.  Grey stepped out first, and Green and the Police Commander followed him.  The door closed behind them.  His eyes set on Stewart, who was now walking to the centre of the well-decorated, and very high-class, suite, Grey lowered his cap microphone.  “Captain Grey to Lieutenant Tan and personnel.  Arrived without a glitch at the Presidential Suite.  Target now secured.  From now on, Security Level One applies to the mission, until the deadline.”

“S.I.G., Captain Grey.” He heard the voice of Lieutenant Tan in his ears.  “Everyone is at his station and ready to intervene if a situation should arise.”

“Building B, are you online?”

“Sergeant Alex Fust, radio operator at Station B, reporting,” a female voice replied.  “We’re all ready to step in if we’re needed, Captain Grey.”

Grey gave a nod, more to himself than anyone else.  “S.I.G., Sergeant.  Keep the team on its toes.  We don’t know when we may need your intervention.  You’re the target’s last chance of escape should anything happen.”  He saw Stewart staring at him, upon hearing his words, but not saying a word. “Keep me informed of anything suspicious.  Captain Grey out.”  The mic returned to the visor, and Grey stood in front of Stewart.  Behind him, Green had been quietly looking around with an apparent curiosity and interest.

“Building B, Station B?” Stewart repeated with an inquiring tone.  “I don’t recall having seen a Building other than this one, Captain.”

“Building B is the name we gave to another place not that far from here, Commander,” Grey explained.  “It is at a secure distance should – ah – this one explode, as happened to the last one some two years ago.  Also for reason of security, Building B is totally inconspicuous.  No-one would ever think of it as part of the Spectrum organisation, as it is using a front to hide its activities.  To people passing by, it’s an ordinary business – although very profitable.”

“What is the purpose of this ‘Building B’?”  Stewart asked with a frown.

“It’s our escape route, sir,” Lieutenant Green behind him explained.  Stewart turned around.  The young lieutenant had sat down on a comfortable sofa, and nodded in his direction.  “At least, yours, if something should go wrong.” 

Grey stepped forward, and pointed to a wall panel behind the lieutenant, covered with a very expensive tapestry.  “There’s a concealed tunnel behind that wall.  With reinforced walls able to withstand the most violent blasts.”  Stewart approached, obviously curious to know more about all this. Grey tapped on the backrest of a leather chair, set nearly against the wall.  Stewart could see it couldn’t even be moved from its place, as it seemed bolted to the floor.  “This chair is attached to an hydraulic system.  Should a problem arise that calls for your immediate evacuation, you sit on this chair.  Pushing that command button there, on the arm, activates the security feature.”

“The wall will open and the chair will slide into the tunnel – and while the wall closes, to contain whatever blast that might have occurred, long enough for you to make good your escape, you’ll be taken in record time to Building B, where a security team will await your arrival,” Green continued.

“My own roller-coaster ride, I take it?” Stewart said with bad humour.

“The ride is smooth enough, Commander.  You wouldn’t feel any discomfort from it.”

Stewart raised a brow. “And if the hydraulic system should fail?” 

“Unlikely,” Grey replied coolly.  “But then again…  The tunnel is sturdy enough to withstand destruction if the building should collapse.  Once the panel closes, you’ll be safe.”

“Hopefully, you will be too, gentlemen,” Stewart replied.  “I’d hate to take that ride and leave you behind to take the full brunt of a collapsing building.”

“There’s nothing to say that it would happen, Commander,” Green answered.  “It’s just an additional security device.”

“I take it, it was used before?”

“Successfully, yes.”

Stewart nodded.  “I heard rumours about the World President escaping death from this building – I mean, the previous one,” he corrected with a meaningful look. “Is that how it was done?”  Neither Green nor Grey responded, so Stewart gave a sigh.  “Classified information, I take it, then. That’s all right.  I suppose I just have to hope it won’t come to that.”

“The building is more secure now than it was two years ago, Commander,” Grey explained.  “Aside from being more sturdy than its predecessor, it has been equipped with the most recent security updates Spectrum has came up with.  An expert worked weeks – months – to perfect it.  Nobody would ever be able to get inside the place to get to you – or to install a bomb without being spotted instantly.”

“Your expert – is it someone I know?” Stewart asked.  “I know a whole lot of people in the security field.”

“It’s Spectrum’s Captain Magenta, Commander.”

“Ah!  A Spectrum officer,” Stewart sighed, sitting down on the sofa.  “Then I’m afraid I don’t know him.  I haven’t met many of you colour-coded guys.  Aside from that Lieutenant Tan of yours, whom I’ve met on some occasions.” He looked around the room, and gave a nod.  There seemed to be some satisfaction in the expression on his face.  “I’ve got to give that to you – your security features seem effective.”

Grey gave a slight smile.  “Thank you, Commander.”

“Let’s hope they’ll stand the test.”

Grey scowled.  Stewart’s ironic tone didn’t escape him.  Neither did the flash of mockery in his eyes. Count to ten, Brad… Don’t let him get to you.

“Well,” Stewart added quickly, with a new sigh,  “since we’re all stuck down here, we might as well enjoy each other’s company, gentlemen.”

Grey repressed a grimace.  He seriously doubted he would appreciate this stay in the long run.

“Anyone of you want to play a game of tri-dimensional chess?”

Grey shivered.  From the tapes they had seen of the last moments that had preceded the explosion of the previous building, that was almost exactly what World President Younger had asked Captain Brown, before the latter actually exploded.  He exchanged a glance with Green.  The younger man was directing a peculiar look at Stewart.

“I – er – am quite good at the game, sir,” Green replied awkwardly.

“Splendid, then!”  the WGPC commander replied, slapping his thigh and standing up.  “I’ll set up the pieces, Lieutenant, while you prepare the coffee.”

“Sure, Commander.”

Green watched as Stewart went to the desk, a few feet behind them, then looked over at Captain Grey, who was following Stewart’s progress with a dark stare, his fists driven into his pockets.

“Lieutenant?” Grey muttered under his breath.


“Beat the pants off that arrogant creep.”

Green offered his brightest smile.  “Aye, aye, Captain,” he replied in an undertone.


* * *


“I’m starting to worry, you know?”

In one of the working offices of Spectrum HQ New York, Captain Blue, who was reading a report he had just received from Spectrum Intelligence – monitoring any possible Mysteron activity around and recounting nothing suspicious so far – raised his eyes from the paper and gave a pondering look toward Captain Ochre, who was staring into space, brooding.

“You, worried?  About Scarlet?”  There was a surprised, inquiring tone to Blue’s voice that didn’t escape Ochre.  The latter grumbled.

“Yeah, I know that I often tease him – and that we often fight, but we’re friends, nonetheless. Not as close as you two are, obviously, but…”

“I get the point, Rick.”  Blue put down the report.  “And I have to agree with you: this silence from Scarlet is starting to worry me too.  It’s not like him to stay away so long when he knows we might need him in a Mysteron situation.”

“I think he ran into some kind of trouble,” Ochre suggested grimly.

“With Riordan?  The guy doesn’t strike me as dangerous enough for Scarlet.  He would be able to handle him.”

“Handling Riordan, yes.  But…  The rest of the Syndicate?  Maybe Scarlet ran into them?”

 Blue pondered that possibility.  He nodded slowly, closing the folder containing his report. “You may be right,” he admitted.  “Maybe we should investigate this – but we are on stand-by for Stewart’s security, remember?”

Ochre was about to answer that when knocks coming from the open door attracted both men’s attention.  They turned around to see a young woman standing in the doorway, a folder in her hands.  “Pardon me for interrupting you, Captains, but I just received a telephone communication that I think might interest you.  It concerns Captain Scarlet.”

“Speak of the devil,” Blue said with a sigh, leaning on his desk.  “What is it, Sergeant Marlow?  So he called?”

“Not exactly, sir,” Marlow started.  “The call came from a Mister…”  She consulted her file, “…Riordan. Matt Riordan.”

“Riordan called?” Ochre said with a perplexed tone, nearly snatching the folder from Marlow’s hands.  “Now THAT’S a surprise…”  He started reading, with Blue rising from his seat to look into the folder too.

“He seemed rather agitated, Captains,” Marlow continued.  “He kept saying that Captain Scarlet’s life was in danger… that they were going to kill him…”  Both Ochre and Blue raised their eyes from the paper they were reading and stared straight at the sergeant. “…And that they were going to kill Mr Riordan too.”

“Oh, Hell…” muttered Ochre.  “I KNEW there was something wrong going on…”

They?” Blue repeated inquisitively.  “Who are ‘they’?”

“Mr Riordan didn’t say.  We were cut off suddenly.”  Marlow saw the grim look both Ochre and Blue exchanged.  “He said he knew where Captain Scarlet was,” she continued quickly.

“A warehouse in the harbour docks,” Ochre quickly read from the file.  “By the Hudson River,” he added looking at Blue.

“Nothing more specific?” Blue asked Marlow.

“I’m afraid not, sir.  That’s when we lost communication.”

“That’ll have to do.  When was that call received?”

“Less than five minutes ago.  Just took the time to print it.”

“Thank you, Sergeant,” Blue said, quickly moving from behind his desk and picking up his cap.  “Come on, Captain Ochre, let’s go see if we can’t find Scarlet.”

“On the docks?!” Ochre remarked, picking up his cap and following his colleague. “We could search for hours before finding one single trace of him!”

“You have a better option?”

“No. But I thought I should mention it…”

“Sergeant,” Blue said to Marlow,  “if you get any further contact from Captain Scarlet, Matt Riordan, or anyone else claiming to know of their whereabouts, I want you to inform us immediately.”

“S.I.G., Captain.  You’re going alone with Captain Ochre?”

“Have Captain Forbes to send four agents to the docks – we’ll divided into three groups for the search,” Blue said, passing by Marlow and walking down the corridor, followed by Ochre. 

“Only four?” Marlow called from behind.

“Because of the present Mysteron situation, we can’t afford more,” Ochre called back.  “Be quick about it, Sergeant!”

“I… S.I.G., Captain,” Marlow answered.  She briefly looked on as Ochre and Blue disappeared in a hurry at the end of the corridor, then turned around to the nearest comm. link to carry out the two captains’ orders.


* * *



Matt Riordan drew up the car alongside Donaghue’s.  Inside the other car, Riordan could see Billy still settled in the driver’s seat reading a magazine, presumably ordered to wait.  Turning the key and removing it from the ignition, Riordan looked up thoughtfully at the entrance to the storehouse.

“Hey!” he cried suddenly as Kirby reached over and snatched the keys from his hands.  “This is my car!”

“You won’t be needing it for a while.” Kirby grinned at him.  “I’ll take care of it for you, don’t worry.”  He was enjoying making Riordan squirm.  Pat Donaghue, it appeared, didn’t trust Matt Riordan.  Well, that was a turn up for the books, but then so was finding out that Donaghue was more than prepared to kill.  Donaghue had been a legend in the underworld, people had spoken of him with awe and reverence. It seemed to Kirby that some of the other claims made about him – about his personal views concerning killing and violence in general – were probably largely fictitious too.

“Shall we go in?” Kirby asked with feigned respect.

Riordan scowled.  There was only one possible explanation for Kirby’s sudden change in attitude towards him and that reason had to be Donaghue.  He wondered what his ‘old friend’ had said, and even more importantly, what he was thinking.

“Cody, you stay with the car,” Kirby instructed, not waiting for a reply.  “After you…” He paused, wondering how to address Riordan.  It was more than probable that Donaghue wanted the surveillance to be discreet, in which case he had already overstepped the boundary.  It was best to play it safe. “… Mr Riordan.”

Stepping from the car, the pair headed into the storehouse in silence.  Ahead of them as they entered, they saw Donaghue nearing the end of a phone call.

“… and nobody’s entered yet?  Good.  Keep me informed.”

Donaghue closed the call with a satisfied smile; everything was going according to plan.  Slipping the cell phone back into his pocket, he turned and seemed almost surprised to see Kirby and Riordan standing only yards away.

“Everything all right, Mr Donaghue?” asked Kirby.

“Yes, Josh,” Donaghue nodded.  “The men you asked to watch the Richens and Wilson building have been most efficient.”

“Thank you, sir,” Josh smiled.  “You’d never have thought it though, would you, a simple tailor’s store as a cover for a Spectrum operation.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised, Josh,” Donaghue nodded gravely.  “Now…” Donaghue paused to stare at the two men. “…I think Mr Riordan and I have things to discuss.  Would you leave us alone, please, Josh?”


“Wait outside, would you, Josh?  I’ll be along shortly.”

Kirby considered his words. ‘I’ll be along…’.  Was it his plan to dispose of Riordan?  They were certainly in the right place, after all.  In the previous twenty-four hours, no less than four bodies had been dumped into the Hudson River.  Could Riordan be the fifth?  Kirby smiled; perhaps he was interested in power after all?

“Yes, sir,” he replied.  He turned and left Donaghue and Riordan alone in the large empty room, closing the door behind him.

“Now then, Matt, did you get everything Josh needed?”

“Yes, Pat, it didn’t take long. Got a few other things I thought might be useful too,” Riordan replied without enthusiasm.

“Good, I have a feeling that this is going to work,” Donaghue replied distractedly.

“Pat,” Riordan began awkwardly, “what about the Spectrum officer?”

Donaghue rolled his eyes and sighed.  “You know you don’t want to know the answer to that, so why even ask?”

Riordan’s shoulders dropped visibly.  “You killed him?”

“What do you think?” Donaghue replied sternly. “He stood in the way of our plans for Stewart.”

“I don’t like this.  I don’t understand why we’re doing it. Why you want to kill Stewart that badly.”

“I told you why.  He’s going to be a real problem to us.” Donaghue lit a cigar as he spoke.

“I don’t accept that.” Riordan spoke slowly, fearful of the backlash.

Donaghue shook out the flame on the match and stared coldly at Riordan.

“Oh? And why not?”

“You told me that you’d learned to kill bad guys, and that’s bad enough, Pat.” Riordan briefly lowered his eyes before looking up again. “But now, you’ve gone too far!”  The words were out now. Riordan continued; he was so scared and confused he could barely help himself.  “You killed a Spectrum officer, someone you’ve worked with, a friend for all I know.  And now you want to kill Commander Stewart.  You’ve changed, Pat, and I don’t like what you’ve turned into!”

“Oh,” Donaghue sneered, as he took the cigar from his mouth and blew out a cloud of smoke, “you don’t know the half of it.”

“No, you’re right!  There’s plenty I don’t understand!”

Donaghue raised a curious eyebrow in an almost amused fashion.  “Really, what else is on your mind, Matt?”

“What’s this?” Riordan asked, producing the photograph taken earlier in the day by Tyler. 

Donaghue took the photo from his hands, looking closely at the picture of himself lying on the floor, clearly dead, shot through the heart.  Carefully placing the photograph into his jacket pocket, Donaghue smiled a cold cynical smile.

“I don’t think we need bother anyone with this, do you?”

“Pat, I don’t understand what’s going on, but I don’t…” Riordan cut short the dangerous sentence.  Outside were three men formerly of Fisher’s Syndicate who would happily kill him at Donaghue’s command.  And then there was Pat himself.  Would he do it?

“You don’t want any part of it.  Is that what you were going to say?” asked Donaghue coolly.

“I don’t want to kill anyone, Pat, is that so hard to understand?” Riordan sighed.  “You used to insist upon it.  You’ve changed.”

“You don’t know how much.  Don’t worry, Matt, you won’t be called upon to kill anyone.”

“That’s not enough, Pat.  Stop all this, please, you don’t HAVE to do it,” Riordan begged.

“Oh, but I do. You see, Matt, I have my orders as much as you have yours.”

“Orders?  Who from?” Riordan stood aghast. “Spectrum?”

Donaghue laughed as he pulled out his gun.  “No, Earthman, a much higher authority.”

In less than the blink of an eye, all the colour drained from Matt Riordan’s face, his eyes widened and he caught his breath in short, juddering snatches.  As he stared down the barrel of the gun, he knew what fate had in store for him.

The corners of Donaghue’s mouth raised in an unkind sneer; Riordan had pushed too far and now he would have to be disposed of, like the others.  Nothing and no one was more important than the Mysteron threat.

“Cat got your tongue, Matt?” he asked, with a look of determination on his cold, implacable face.

“Wh-what did you say?  That’s not funny!” Riordan searched Donaghue’s expression, desperate to find even the suggestion that it was all a joke. “Earthman?”

“Does it look like I’m laughing?” Donaghue replied coldly.

“You’re…Pat, what did they do to you?”

“You have no idea how much is being kept from you, have you?” Donaghue shook his head.  “But even so – what you know already is too much, Earthman.

Bewildered at the second use of that word, Riordan repeated, “Pat, what do you… We’re friends, we’ve known each other for years…”

“No, Matt.  I am not your friend.  I am not Pat Donaghue.  Your friend is dead.  Now do you understand?”

“You’re not Pat?” Riordan spoke so slowly as to almost make the three words sound like three separate sentences.

“You have heard of the Mysterons, Matt?  Those ‘terrorists’ that Spectrum fights? Surely, you have heard things – rumours from the mob’s contact in the security business. From so-called ‘unreliable’ sources – of what the Mysterons do to people? Terrorists, really!”  Riordan stared in disbelief at the man standing in front of him, unable to respond, his mind an almost total blank as he tried to absorb the information. The other slowly shook his head.  “Well, it’s all true, Matt. All of it is true.  I am the living proof of it.”

It was too much for Riordan to take in all at once.  Pat was dead.  This…this thing in his place, had been fooling them all, killing them all.

The image on the photograph he had taken from Tyler suddenly flashed into Riordan’s mind. And with it, he didn’t need more proof that he was being handed the truth.  A Mysteron.  According to the craziest of rumours, not even a human being.  An alien. Nearly invulnerable. Unstoppable.  Who had taken his dead friend’s appearance?

It was far too much for him to comprehend.

Riordan fled.  Turning sharply on his heels, he headed for the storehouse’s rear door.

“You won’t make it, my friend,” Donaghue called as he ran.  It wasn’t a taunt, it was a statement of fact, and somehow that made it all the worse.

In his terror, Riordan’s legs refused to assist his escape.  They felt like jelly beneath him; Riordan slipped more than once, catching himself, barely preventing a tumble as he staggered forward, propelled purely by panic.

With an almost regretful sigh, Donaghue pulled the trigger.  It seemed to Riordan that his right side, just below the ribs, exploded in a flare of searing pain.  His legs gave way from under him and he found himself falling forward, carried by the momentum of his hopeless flight.  Rolling as he hit the floor, Riordan groaned as the air was driven from his lungs.

Opening eyes made bleary by the pain, he could see Donaghue approaching him, walking slowly, deliberately.  Riordan waited, he expected the second bullet would come any moment.  Of all the ways he expected that he might die, he would never have believed that it would be at the hands of Pat Donaghue.  But this wasn’t Pat; this man, this creature was a pale imitation of his friend and former boss.  He was sullying Donaghue’s good name and Riordan was suddenly furious. 

The whole room, like many of the others, contained remnants of unfinished construction work, as if the workmen had left all their tools and equipment and simply never returned. Lying beside him now was a rusting old pipe approximately four feet long.  Discreetly, and ignoring the pain from the profusely bleeding bullet wound, Riordan’s fingers closed on the pipe.  For Riordan, wielding the pipe with his left hand would have been difficult enough.  In addition to that, the almost overwhelming pain and weakness should have prevented him from delivering a blow that was, at best, feeble.  But Riordan found, as he often had before, additional reserves of energy when his life was at stake.  Self preservation was something that Riordan was famous for.  Cowardice was another word for it, but right now, his determination to survive against the odds was about to pay off.  The badly aimed pipe hit Donaghue square on the shoulder, bounced, and delivered a second heavy blow to the side of his head with a shower of many years worth of dirt and rust raining down around him.  Donaghue staggered and fell to his knees, dazed.

Breathing heavily as he regained his senses, he finally opened his eyes after a short instant; he grimaced as he saw that he was alone in the room.  Riordan had escaped through the rear door.  Still, it wasn’t necessarily important; Riordan was badly hurt and unlikely to survive for more than a couple of hours.  Getting to his feet and dusting himself off, Donaghue headed back to the cars.  He had more important things to think about than going after a petty mobster.

Not himself, anyway.


* * *


Kirby looked up as he saw the door to the storehouse open; Donaghue was indeed alone and Kirby couldn’t help but grin.  His stock was rising once more.  Under Fisher, he had been resigned to a position of assistant and trusted confidante, but now, he believed, there was more on offer; power, and he wanted it.  Stepping from the car where he was seated, Kirby approached his new boss.

“Mr Riordan’s not joining us, Mr Donaghue?”

It was almost a statement and Donaghue noted that the tone of the question was one of self-satisfaction.

“No, he won’t,” Donaghue frowned.  “He’s got one bullet in him already, but I want him dealt with once and for all.  Ask Billy and…” Donaghue paused as he realised he was unaware of the second man’s name.

“Cody,” Kirby offered helpfully.

Donaghue nodded briefly.  “Get Billy and Cody to find him and finish him off.  We have to get going.”

“Yes, sir!” replied Kirby.

Donaghue swept past to the car he had arrived in and climbed into the passenger seat almost as Billy climbed out the other side.  Having given the pair their instructions, Kirby slid into the driving seat and turned the key in the ignition.  He knew the plan, there was no need to discuss it further.  Smiling as he pulled away, Kirby felt a rush of power, sitting here as Donaghue’s right-hand man.  Riordan had been a fool to rock the boat.


Upon entering a neighbouring warehouse to the one he had just escaped, Matt Riordan fell heavily, breathing with considerable difficulty.  Propping himself up against a wall, hidden from view from the door, he allowed himself to relax and immediately regretted it.  The muscles around the open wound tore in opposite directions and the pain that washed over him was virtually overwhelming.  Awkwardly, he reached into his jacket’s inside pocket and slowly withdrew his cell phone.  Thankfully, his blurring vision was not called upon to distinguish the tiny numbering on the phone, neither was he required to remember the number he wanted to call.  He needed merely to press the last number redial.  Gripping his side and watching with distress as blood seeped between his fingers, Riordan waited.

“Spectrum, New York, how may I help you?”

Still breathless with pain, at first Riordan found himself unable to reply.

“May I help you?” the female voice repeated.

“My… name is… Matt Riordan,” his staggered reply began, only to be cut off by the woman’s voice.

“Putting you straight through, Mr Riordan.”

Riordan was perplexed.  To whom? And how did they know he would call?  He waited the brief seconds until a man’s voice clicked onto the line.

“Captain Blue, Mr Riordan.”

“Blue?” gasped Riordan.  “The docks.  Storehouse thirty-four by Pier nine.  I’ve been shot.”

“Where is Captain Scarlet?” asked Blue, somewhat agitated.

“Find me first!” Riordan growled, using up almost what was left of his energy.  He slumped and the phone slipped from his fingers.


* * *


“Riordan?!” Captain Blue was shouting into his microphone.  He was still connected, but received no reply.  He hurriedly switched channels back to the radio-communications control room in New York Headquarters.  “The call from Riordan –  we have a lead.  The phone is still connected but there’s no reply.  Put a trace on it, just in case.”

“S.I.G., Captain Blue,” came the efficient response from the female duty officer.

Blue pressed the accelerator a little harder.

“Storehouse thirty-four.  Apparently if we find Riordan in time, he’ll lead us to Scarlet.”

“You trust him?” Ochre, settled on the passenger seat, asked sceptically.

“We’ve got no choice, and we’d better get there fast.  Riordan’s been shot, sounded in a bad way,” Blue replied grimly. 

“Don’t worry, if I know him, somehow, he’ll survive!”


Ochre shook his head. “No, well yes, obviously, but I meant Riordan.  That man’s capacity for survival is second to none! Except Scarlet, of course.”

“Let’s find him,” Blue declared dourly.  “And when we do, I hope he’ll be able to take us to Scarlet.  Or it’s with us that he’ll have trouble…”


* * *


To anyone who wasn’t in the secret, ‘Richens and Wilson’ was an exclusive tailor’s shop with a national reputation.  There could be found the most fashionable dresses or elegant suits – made especially, and personalised for any client willing to pay the price demanded for it.  Charges were excessive, even for the high class standard, but the results were always more than satisfying, and that had brought about that the shop would only serve its own very selective brand of customers – a few movie stars, in search of the special and unique dress in which to walk down the red carpet leading to the latest award ceremony, international business persons, millionaires – it was even said that an Arab prince was one of the shop’s most exclusive clients.

No-one would have ever suspected that ‘Richens and Wilson’ was, in fact, used by Spectrum as a front for security operations.

Referred to by Spectrum as ‘Building B’ – in order to keep its location a total secret – the select tailor’s shop was situated half a mile away from Spectrum’s Maximum Security Building in New York.  It was at the edge of a business district, far away enough to be out of reach of eventual debris, if the MSB should be destroyed by bomb or any other form of terrorist attack, as it had been two years before.  It was into a reinforced security room, far beneath ‘Building B’ that the escape tunnel from the MSB’s Presidential Suite led.  A security team was posted near that room, ready to collect any incoming people that would have escaped any catastrophe happening at the MSB, or to use the tunnel themselves, and rush to the rescue.  The use of the tunnel was regarded as a last resort operation, though, and only once before, in the relatively short history of Spectrum, and throughout the many MSBs established around the world, had it been necessary to use it – and it was with the previous MSB here in New York.  All things considered, even though many brave Spectrum agents had died that time, the tunnel had served its purpose – and had saved the life of World President James T. Younger, the person that Spectrum had to protect at all costs during that specific operation.

Now, the person whom it was Spectrum’s duty to protect was the man who would become the next Supreme Commander of the WGPC. And from what the personnel at Building B had heard, unlike World President Younger, who had been a very gracious, easy-going individual to protect, Commander Stewart was anything but easy.  Everyone was hoping that it would be a clean operation, with no major problems, so that Stewart would go back to his business as soon as it was safe for him to do so.  AND that he would have learned that Spectrum was a capable and effective organisation.  It wouldn’t look too good if the WGPC Supreme Commander himself went around spreading gossip about Spectrum’s ineffectiveness – or, worse still, that he would die while under Spectrum protection, after having claimed that WGPC was more than capable of taking care of him.

But nobody really expected that it would be a smooth assignment.   Not with the Mysterons involved. 

The word at Building B was ‘business as usual’.  Everyone was ready to proceed to an emergency rescue operation if it should become necessary.  The latest drill, perfected only a week ago, had set a new record in the procedure that had been proved more than satisfactory.  So the team was confident that everything would go like clockwork, if their skills should be called upon.  No-one expected a problem on that side of the operation.

Spectrum agent Jonah Maxwell was working in the shop, going through the many orders received in the week.  The problem with working undercover was to maintain the most believable front possible, so that nobody would suspect anything.  It wasn’t so difficult for Maxwell to pass as a tailor.  His father had been one and had trained him to follow in his footsteps during his teenage years – that was long before Maxwell became an agent of the Secret Service, and trained to be the best spy he could be.  Then he was approached, nearly five years ago, to be part of the new Spectrum agency, and become one of their many undercover agents throughout the world. 

Due to his previous training as a tailor, he had immediately been chosen as one of the many agents who would be stationed at Richens and Wilson’s Building B.  He didn’t mind the job at all.  He was as much at ease as either a special agent or a tailor. And in that latter field, he had even proven he had exceptional talents. For another, the job might even have seemed boring, but Maxwell had encountered all kinds of interesting people in the shop.  When the previous Maximum Security Building had been destroyed by the Mysterons, two years ago, in that terrible explosion that claimed the lives of the Spectrum security officers stationed there, Maxwell was working in the shop, and with horror had seen the building collapse, while way beneath his feet, the Mysterons’ target, World President Younger, was collected by the security team in attendance at the tunnel entrance.  In the following months, Maxwell had had to maintain his cover, while the MSB was being rebuilt, so nobody would suspect the link between the Richens and Wilson Tailor Shop and the Spectrum Building.  Now, with the MSB completed, standing high in the sky half a mile away, the shop was regaining its undercover status as Building B – and Jonah Maxwell couldn’t help but feel a little wary that the present operation might very well end up like the preceding one.

Maxwell was busying himself in the back storeroom, while his partner, Brent Finnegan, was keeping guard in the front when he heard the jingle announcing that someone was stepping inside.  Immediately, Maxwell glanced up at the monitor screen set on the wall, permitting him to peer into the store, to check what was going on there.  A tall, broad-shouldered man, smartly dressed, had entered the shop, and was looking around at the display of men’s suits.  Maxwell left the storeroom and entered the shop through a door behind the counter.  He addressed a nod to Finnegan to keep at his station next to the cash register and walked briskly to the man, who was scrutinising the most expensive suit the shop had to offer.  His back was turned to the two Spectrum agents, with a hat concealing most of his features.

“Sir, may I be of service to you?” Maxwell offered with his clipped, distinguished voice, keeping at some distance from the apparently interested client. 

“Yeah, maybe you can,” the man answered vaguely, rubbing his chin in a thoughtful way, and only half-turning to him, but still admiring the suit he had been examining for the last minute.  “I was thinking that this could be the perfect outfit I need for a special occasion.”

“That suit, sir?  That’s our most expensive item…”

“Money isn’t important.  I need it in rather a hurry.  Would it take very long for you to make one in my size?”

Maxwell had already noticed the slight Irish accent in the man’s voice. Curiously, he was sure he had heard it before, but he wasn’t sure where.  If the man would face him, maybe he would be able to see who he was.  Maxwell wasn’t very comfortable.

“Fortunately for you, sir, this one would need only a few alterations to fit you perfectly,” he said, taking a step forward in order to get a better view of the visitor.  “You… need it that quickly?”

“Oh yes… I need it A.S.A.P… for ‘official’ business.”  The man presented a cardholder to Maxwell, and the latter frowned when he saw the Spectrum emblem stamped onto it.  Under his hat, the man looked at him with what could pass as a mischievous twinkle in his eye.  “So, I guess it would be S.I.G., Agent Maxwell?”

“Sir?” Maxwell said, without even blinking. 

“Don’t worry, Maxwell, I’m only here to make sure the operation goes smoothly.” 

Turning fully toward Maxwell, the man put the cardholder in his hand; Maxwell scrutinised him for a second, now perfectly sure he knew who he was, while his fingers were opening the cardholder.  He lowered his gaze to check the card inside. A brief smile appeared on Maxwell’s face.  “Captain Magenta, I wasn’t aware that you were to be involved with…”  He stopped, suddenly conscious that something wasn’t quite right.  Magenta… He had heard about the accident in Vermont.  How the captain had barely escaped with his life.  He raised his eyes swiftly.  And saw the pistol, with the silencer, now in the man’s hand.

“I wasn’t,” he heard Captain Magenta say in an implacable voice.  There was barely a plop when the trigger was pulled, and Jonah Maxwell, hit in the chest, toppled backward.  At the counter, Brent Finnegan reached for the alert button, but the killer was quicker and in one swift movement, turned toward him to shoot him clear through the head.  Finnegan collapsed without a sound. 

The second after, five men of the Donaghue gang were entering the shop, amongst them Kirby, O’Rourke, carrying a large bag with him, and the huge Ox, who, upon Pat Donaghue’s hand wave, closed the door behind him and locked it.

“Pull the shades down,” Donaghue instructed. “And put the closed sign up.”  He motioned to the two men lying on the floor. “And put those two in the back room.”  While O’Rourke, Ox and the two other men, Stacey and Wheland, followed his orders, he moved to round the counter and pressed a button, which in turn opened a full electronic panel, previously concealed within the counter. Putting his still smoking gun into its holster, Donaghue made a few quick, expert checks and grinned widely.  Perfect.  Nobody knew they were in; his previous jamming of the security cameras and communications systems from the van that had brought them there had paid off.  Only he could have known the exact frequency to use, to put the whole system out of order.  The security people in the underground bunker would have no idea that anything suspicious had happened at the tailor’s shop – all their attention was focused on the security around the MSB itself.

Kirby looked with curiosity as Donaghue worked the board, pressing buttons quickly.  A panel slid aside to reveal a 3D map of the building, that Donaghue consulted quickly.  Kirby couldn’t help but be amazed by the ease with which his boss was presently reading the information on the diagram, and how he seemed to know just exactly which command to press.  Donaghue knew this was an undercover Spectrum office and seemed to know all there was about the security set in this place. Almost despite himself, Kirby was wondering how Donaghue had come up with such detailed information that was presently helping them in this operation. He certainly has good contacts, Kirby reflected. Contacts that neither he, nor anyone else in the gang, was aware of.  How did he make those contacts, Kirby wondered.  Maybe Riordan knew.  And maybe, Kirby thought, it would have been interesting to know what Riordan might have had to say about his old boss, just before Donaghue got rid of him. 

“Ox, you’ll stay right here.  Keep guard and make sure that no-one comes in.”  He pointed to a green button embedded in the electronic board.  “That’s the comm.  If you see anyone approach this building, call me.”

“Right, Mr Donaghue.” 

“The others, follow me.”

Donaghue preceded the four men into the storeroom and went directly to the far side wall.  He searched and found, without any difficulty, a concealed button; a panel in the wall slid to the side, revealing the door to a lift, which was locked by a digital numeric pad.  Kirby watched with silent surprise as Donaghue dialled the combination that opened the door.  The five men entered the lift.

“Put on your masks. Take your guns.”  Like well-drilled soldiers, each of Donaghue’s four men slipped on nylon masks, Donaghue doing the same himself, before commanding the door to slide closed and selecting a level.  He drew his gun, and watched as the others did the same, checking their ammunition.   “We’re going five levels down,” Donaghue reminded them of his latest instructions, “and we come out in the control room.  Remember, there’s only four people there.  Three technicians and one security guard, posted next to the door.  We shouldn’t encounter trouble from the technicians.”

Kirby fought himself not to ask Donaghue how he came by that very useful information.  Now wouldn’t be a good moment.  Later on, he promised himself, he would know.

The descent only took a few seconds, and the five men inside the lift were ready when the door slid open before them.  As Donaghue had said, a security guard was stationed in front of the door, and turned around to greet whoever was arriving.  He just had the time to notice something was wrong when he saw the five masked men, and reached for his sidearm.  The butt of Donaghue’s gun violently collided with the man’s forehead, and he crumpled heavily on the floor, with a loud huff.

Three technicians, two men and a woman, standing in front of a large console, their backs turned to the doors, suddenly spun around, surprised by the gang’s arrival. One of the men tried to reach for the comm.link.  Kirby was on him before he was able to make a further move, and pressed his weapon against the man’s head.  The technician gasped, feeling the cold contact of the metal on his temple.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” the muffled voice of Kirby warned him.  “Or I’ll blow your head off!”

Donaghue had gone directly toward the panel, shoving one technician aside, and busied himself with the controls, while Stacey, finding a closed door, opened it, pressing a button.  It revealed a narrow room, probably a small storage space, presently completely empty. “In there!” he ordered, waving his gun in the direction of the three technicians.  “All of you, quick.  Do as you’re told and you’ll stay alive.”

Their hands up, the technicians grimly followed the instructions given to them.  Wheland had picked up the unconscious security guard and had dragged him into the very small and narrow room, unceremoniously dropping him in the middle of it.  While the technicians were crouching near the guard to check on him, Stacey closed the door, locked it, and destroyed the opening control, to prevent the captives from getting out. 

Having swiftly put the camera monitoring the room out of order, Donaghue removed his mask, and the others did the same, each replacing the mask with a small personal communicator unit, that they installed on one ear.

Donaghue was still going through the controls, very quickly, with the easiness of someone accustomed to them, under Kirby’s scrutinising eyes. The day duty roster appeared on a screen, revealing the names of everyone involved with the operation.  He took note in passing of the control room operators’ names, then moved on to the camera controls.  He flicked on a number of switches, pressed keys on one of the digital keyboards of the computerised panel control, and the many screens over his head came to life with different views of many parts of Building B, the MSB, and the access tunnel between them.  He pointed to one screen, showing a lounge room, where a number of security agents, armed, were waiting, drinking coffee and talking.

“The bunker, lowest level of this building,” he announced to his accomplices.  “That room is right next to the tunnel entrance. Those security guards are waiting for a possible emergency to arise.”  He keyed a new command, and on another screen appeared the 3D map of Building B.  Under his fingers, the map changed, and the information was narrowed to specifically concentrate to the bunker and the ventilation system.  He drew a path with his finger on the screen.  “This is the room next door to this one.  This conduit leads directly to the bunker.  There is an intake in that room.  Wheland, go there and find that intake.  Release the gas.  That’ll put those guards out of commission.”

“On my way, boss,” Wheland announced, removing from his back the bag he was carrying.  He left the control room.

“Won’t they try to get out of there?” Kirby asked, nodding in the direction of the screen.

Donaghue pressed just three keys.  “They might try, but they won’t be able to,” he announced coldly.  “I just locked the doors.  And they won’t be able to call for help.  They’ll soon find out the comm isn’t functioning in the bunker.”

“You did all that from that keyboard?” Kirby asked, with amazement obvious in his tone.

“This station controls about everything in this building. And a lot of other features in the Spectrum Security Building.”

“Mr Donaghue…  How did you come by such information?”

“I have my sources, Josh.”

Best sources I have ever seen, Kirby thought grimly.  And apparently, coming from within Spectrum itself.  That was a little unnerving.  Why did he need to know how to contact Brealey, if he knew all that already?

Donaghue was going through the many cameras available to him, the images on the many screens changing at each command.  He finally found two that gave him different views of the MSB Presidential Suite.  A thin smile of satisfaction pulled on his lips when he saw his target, seated there, finishing a game of tri-dimensional chess with Lieutenant Green, while in the background, Captain Grey was busy preparing himself a cup of coffee.

“He’s there all right,” Donaghue murmured to himself. 

Keeping the two cameras from the Presidential Suite, he flicked through the others, familiarising himself with each camera’s position.  His eyes returned to the screen showing the bunker; he could see that Wheland had found the intake and that the gas had been sent in.  The effects on the guards were starting to become apparent, as some of them, feeling unwell, were rushing to the door, trying to get it open without success.  Donaghue checked his watch.

“They’ll be out of it in five minutes.  We can safely move on with the operation.  O’Rourke.”

“Mr Donaghue?”

“You’ll take lift number Two, with Wheland and Stacey.  It’ll take you to the lowest level.  The entrance of the tunnel is well-marked, you’ll find it easily.”  He pressed a button, and on one of the many screens appeared the door he was mentioning. “That’s the one.  I’ll open the doors for you from here, and you’ll be able to get in.  You’ll find a small electric vehicle once you get through the door.  Take it, and drive it into the tunnel through the other end, where you’ll find the door leading to the Presidential Suite.”  A series of commands made new images appear on the screen, three from different views of the tunnel, one showing the end of it, and the entrance to the Presidential Suite in the Security Building. “Don’t try to open the door, or it’ll set off an independent alarm, and you would never have the time to get out.  Just put the bomb against the door, following the specifications I gave you.”

“Right, Mr Donaghue.”

“Don’t forget to power on your comm.links on your way down there. As soon as the bomb is ready, call me, and I’ll set the electronic timer from here, using the remote.”

“You’re sure there isn’t any risk, boss?” demanded Stacey in a concerned tone.  “We’re dealing with Spectrum, here, and…”

“Has it gone wrong so far? You have nothing to fear from Spectrum.  Look for yourself.”  He gestured in the direction of the screen that was showing the interior of the bunker room, where the Spectrum security agents were falling like flies, under the effects of the gas, and were lying everywhere.  “Spectrum won’t cause us any trouble, believe me.  I’ll be staying here, handling the controls and the radio station, so nobody will get suspicious of what might be going on. I know all the security codes to give them, if they should call.  And I’ll be following your progress every step of the way, and giving you further instructions through the personal comm.  I’ll be checking on everything from here.  If a problem should arise, I’ll alert you in time for you to get out of there.”

“Right, sir,” O’Rourke said, picking up his huge sack.  “You’ve never let us down before.”  He addressed a warning glance to a still obviously concerned Stacey, compelling him to keep his mouth shut, almost accusing him of ever doubting their boss’s plan.  He turned to the door.  “We’re on our way right away, Mr Donaghue.”

“Right.  Be quick about it, Sean.  Josh, you’ll be staying with me.”

Kirby kept himself from blowing a sigh of relief.  Somehow, the idea of going down with O’Rourke, Wheland and Stacey into that underground tunnel and off to a Spectrum Maximum Security Building didn’t appeal to him.  He knew there wasn’t any way to escape if anything did go wrong, even though Donaghue assured them that it wouldn’t happen.  Besides, he would much rather stay right where he was, if only to keep his eye on the boss.  He didn’t know why, but he was starting to get a sinking feeling that not everything with this operation was right, and that Donaghue was keeping something from them.  He couldn’t figure out what as yet.

With a thoughtful look, he watched as O’Rourke and Stacey, now joining the returning Wheland, left the room and headed toward the second lift, which went even deeper underground, and was the only way down to the tunnel and bunker level.  He saw them disappear, when, after they had entered it, the door of the lift closed on them and the lift started taking them down.  He turned around; by his side, still standing in front of the controls, Donaghue was putting on his personal comm.link upon his ear, adjusting the mic so it would rest on his chin.  Apparently, he had every intention of following the operation step by step, just as he had said.

“Josh, you keep your eyes on those cameras.  I don’t want anything to go wrong.”

“Sure, Mr Donaghue,” Kirby agreed with a brief nod, moving in front of the controls.

“Right,” murmured Donaghue, his eyes set on one of the screens showing him the interior of the Presidential Suite. He flicked a small switch.  “Let’s hear what’s going on in there…”


* * *


It could have been seconds or an hour later.  Matt Riordan couldn’t be sure.  He felt reasonably certain that he had passed out through the pain, but for how long, he couldn’t say.  This was not how he’d wanted to die.  The thought almost made him laugh.  Who wanted to die?  But it was particularly relevant to him.  He was a complex man; not brave, by any stretch of the imagination, but, he liked to believe, not quite a coward.  Deeply loyal, he had proved willing to give up his freedom to save the life of a friend.  Riordan grimaced.  That friend was dead and some sort of duplicate was walking around in his place; looking like him, talking like him, with all his knowledge, down to the minutest detail.  No…  There was a huge difference.  This duplicate was cruel, ruthless… and homicidal. 

How was that possible?  And did Spectrum know? 

He cursed himself for dropping his phone; but, he hoped, at least, that it would act as some sort of homing beacon, helping them to find him.  Glancing down, almost not daring to look, Riordan saw the blood still oozing from the wound, which he was trying hard to close with his hand.

Damn it, Spectrum, where are you?  Riordan thought as he watched the bloodstain on his shirt grow increasingly wider.

It was then he heard it.  A noise.  It sounded like a door opening.  Riordan strained to hear, barely daring to breathe.  Yes, there it was again, the door closing this time.  Riordan almost fainted with relief, he was going to be all right, surely.

“In here!” Riordan tried to call out.  The pain of the movement took his breath away and even he was surprised to hear his own voice emerge in a barely audible whisper.

Looking to his left, Riordan noticed a short length of pipe only inches away from his fingertips.  With a grunt of sheer agony, he shifted his position.  The crushing pain threatened to push him into oblivion as his hand scrabbled for the pipe.  More than once, his fingers almost closed around the cold, rusty metal before it rolled out of his grasp yet again.  Finally, and with a sigh of relief, Riordan’s grip on the pipe was firm and he once more slumped back against the wall.  Breathing hard, he lifted the pipe and began to bang the end of the pipe on the concrete floor.  The hollow sound echoed around the large empty room.  Riordan’s hold on the bar was fast loosening; he prayed they would hear him before it slipped from his fingers. 

“Finally!” he whispered as the door to his left opened.

“Well, well, well!” came a sneering voice. “Keen to be put out of your misery, Mr Riordan?”

Riordan stared at the two men who had entered the room with equal measures of distress and panic.  He had expected Spectrum officers, coming to save him, but instead he found himself looking up at Cody and Billy, come to finish the job.

“No!” Riordan found his voice once more.  “Hear me out…”

“We have our instructions, Mr Riordan.” Cody casually withdrew his pistol from beneath his jacket.  “Discussion over.”

“That’s not Pat Donaghue…  He wants me dead because I found out, just like Tyler.”

“Oh really?” Cody shook his head.  “And you expect us to believe that?”

“He’s some sort of look-a-like, I don’t know how, but it’s not him.” Riordan stared up, a look of sheer desperation on his face.

“Some sort of look-a-like?” Cody repeated with a smirk.  “So good he knows every detail about our operations and everyone in it?  So good, he fooled you, Ox and Sean?” Cody laughed.  “I don’t think so.”

“Please!” Riordan raised a bloodied hand in a pleading gesture.  “You have to believe me!”

Cody shrugged.  “So what if it is true?  What difference would that make anyway?  So long as he gets the job done.”

“He’ll kill you all…” Riordan gasped as he returned his hand to the gunshot wound.  The effort of talking had taken its toll on him.  Now Cody and Billy were somewhat blurred in his vision and Cody’s voice came to him as if through a distant echo. At least, he thought to himself, when Cody pulled the trigger, he would be unlikely to feel much.

“Well, you don’t need to worry about that now, do you?”

“Spectrum!” a commanding voice suddenly barked from the still open doorway.  “Drop your weapons!”

The two men turned abruptly, startled by the call.  Two colour-coded Spectrum officers stood just inside the doorway, both with their guns trained on the two gangsters.  Raising their hands slowly, Cody and Billy tossed their guns to the floor, clearly shocked by their sudden appearance.  Behind them, two Spectrum sergeants from the New York office entered and headed immediately for the two men, who were both surprised and frustrated to have been caught red-handed.  It made them wonder – since he had gone so quickly, had Donaghue known Spectrum were on their way?  Had Riordan been telling the truth?  They would, perhaps, never know; but, if it were true, at least they were alive.

And if they were clever enough, they would keep their mouths shut until they knew what the deal really was.

While the sergeants handcuffed and led away Cody and Billy, Ochre and Blue ran towards the severely injured Riordan.

“Sergeant! Find out where that ambulance is!” Ochre barked an instruction as he and Blue knelt at Riordan’s side.

“Riordan?” Blue began, but on receiving no reply, he shook the injured man’s shoulder.  “Riordan!”

“Easy, Blue, he’s been shot!” Ochre reminded his colleague as he leaned in to support the wounded man.

Blue ignored Ochre’s words, encouraged by the flicker of movement he saw in Riordan’s eyes.

“Riordan, where’s Captain Scarlet?”

Riordan half-opened his eyes.  It was quite a struggle for him to remain conscious now.  Seeing his lips start to move, Blue leaned in to hear his whispered words.

“Next warehouse… Out the door, left, down…” Riordan grimaced with pain and breathlessness.


“Down stairs, second on the right…” Riordan gasped for breath once more.

“Is that it?  Is he there?” Blue snapped.


It was the last thing Riordan said before finally losing consciousness and slumping into Ochre’s arms.

“Dropped?” Blue stared incredulously at Ochre.  “What does that mean?”

Ochre shrugged.  “I’ll stay with Riordan till the ambulance gets here.  You find out.  And, Blue?”

“Yeah?” Blue turned whilst still heading for the door. 

“Be careful, no heroics.  He’ll be all right!”

Ochre watched as Blue disappeared from sight.  Sighing with relief, he heard the sound of an ambulance siren drawing near.


* * *


“Checkmate,” Commander Stewart declared, pushing his queen forward. “You’re a mean player, Lieutenant, but I’m afraid you’re not mean enough…”

Lieutenant Green stared a moment at his trapped king, grimly wondering how he could have let himself be beaten that way.  Granted, Ian Stewart hadn’t seemed to him like a serious opponent at first – but after three or four moves, it had appeared obvious that the man knew all the tricks in the book, and was playing to win.  I should have known, Green thought bleakly. That man doesn’t like to lose.

Green was a good player, but apparently, not nearly as good as Stewart himself.  It would have taken either Captain Scarlet or Colonel White to beat the WGPC commander, the lieutenant was sure of it.  Graciously conceding victory to his adversary, Green knocked over his king, addressing a smile at Stewart.

“You’re right, Commander, I wasn’t mean enough.”

“You’re still young,” the policeman – himself about barely ten years older than Green – declared with assurance.  “This kind of game takes good strategy, and a clear mind…  Something that can be acquired only through experience…”

Green kept himself from noting that the worldwide champion of tri-dimensional chess was, at the present, a kid of only thirteen years old…  who had beaten the previous holder of the title, a man of about fifty years old, with the greatest of ease.  Green contented himself with grinning, and got up from his chair, stretching his legs.  He accepted the cup of coffee that Captain Grey offered him, before excusing himself to Stewart, and going to sit in front of the Suite computer.  He was curious to examine those new security features installed in the building – especially since Captain Magenta’s much vaunted updates.  He typed the access code.

Grey sat down in the place previously occupied by Green. Stewart was repositioning the pieces, whistling quietly; Grey put the cup of coffee on the table in front of him, and sat comfortably. Stewart sipped from the cup he had received a few minutes earlier from the Spectrum captain and eyed him conspicuously. “How about you, Captain?” he asked, waving towards the board.

“Me?”  Grey shrugged.  “If Lieutenant Green couldn’t beat you, I know I don’t stand a chance, Commander.  And I’m not that good with that game.”  He produced a smile.  “However, if you prefer a game of Battleship…

Stewart waved the suggestion away.  “Forget it, Captain.  I get seasick at the mere mention of boats…”

Ships, Grey corrected inwardly, trying to suppress his smile.  “A game of cards, then?”

Stewart nodded his consent and Grey stood up, in order to retrieve a deck from the desk, where he knew it was kept.  He passed by Lieutenant Green who had gained access to the security database and was examining it with an attentive eye.  He saw the frown upon the younger man’s brow.

“Captain,” Green called, attracting Grey’s further attention.  “There’s something peculiar, here…”

Right away, Grey was by his side.  “A problem, Lieutenant?”

“I’m not sure, sir.  This station is supposed to give me access to ALL the security features of this building, right?  It seems it’s denied access to some of those features…”

“Such as…?”

“Doors and lift controls, sir.”

“Doors and lifts must be controlled from upstairs,” Grey reasoned.  He pressed a button on the computer.  “Lieutenant Tan?”

“Yes, Captain Grey?”

“Lieutenant Green is reporting that he can’t access doors and lift controls from the computer station in the Presidential Suite.  Is that normal?”

“Not as far as I know, sir…”  There was a silence, as Tan was obviously checking something.  “We have a green light here, Captain.  Has Lieutenant Green entered the proper code?”

“I did,” Green confirmed with a certain amount of annoyance.  “But I still don’t seem to be able to gain access.”  He gave it some thought, then started typing a new command.  “Maybe this station hasn’t been updated to Captain Magenta’s new specifications.  I’ll try to access the system using another path.”

“All the machines SHOULD have been updated,” Tan replied in protest.

“It’s all right, Tan,” Grey retorted.  “If there’s another path to access that database, Green is the man to find it.”

“And here it comes,” Green said with a satisfied grin, as he saw the screen changing image.  A list appeared, and Green started reading, with Grey leaning over his shoulder.  Every security feature was on the green. “Everything seems normal,” the young Trinidadian muttered, scrolling down the list. Grey straightened up, pleased that there was nothing to worry about.  He was aware of Stewart’s intense gaze set on them, as obviously, the WGPC commander was wondering what was going wrong.

Green just had time to notice the last item on the record, listed in red characters, with the word ‘offline’ next to it, as it suddenly changed to the green ‘online’.  He frowned.  “Now what’s that?” 

Grey instantly turned to him once more.  “What is it, Lieutenant?”

Green pointed to the last lines on the screen.  “Security cameras in the tunnel, sir,” he announced.  “They were on the red a second earlier.  Now the screen is showing them ‘online’.  I nearly didn’t see it.”

“Tan?” Grey called to the comm.link.

“Systems all green here, Captain.”

“Can you verify if those cameras are actually working?”

“Not from up here.  They’re linked to Station B.  Wait a minute, sir, I’ll contact them.”

“S.I.G.,” muttered Grey.  He saw Stewart slowly standing up from where he was seated and approaching, curious to know what it was all about.

“Is there a problem, Captain Grey?” he asked meaningfully.

“It’s uncertain, Commander,” Grey answered, keeping his voice calm.  “As far as we know, it may only be a computer-related problem.  Everything seems all right from here, and upstairs too.”

Stewart nodded curtly.  “I HOPE you are right, Captain, and that it is not the indication of something more serious.”

“We’ll just wait for a confirmation from Building B that everything is all right,” Grey replied.

The voice of Lieutenant Tan made itself heard again on the comm.link:  “Captain Grey?  I just contacted Sergeant Fust at Station B.  He confirms to me that everything is S.I.G. from their end, and that the cameras in the tunnel are fully operational.  Everything is normal.”

Grey breathed a sigh of relief.  “S.I.G., Lieutenant Tan.  Thank you.”  He closed the link and addressed a smile at Stewart.  “Nothing to worry about, as you can see, Commander.”

Stewart snorted.  “Yes, well…  if they had been able to access those tunnel cameras from upstairs,” he mumbled, nodding curtly towards the ceiling, “that would have spared us useless minutes of worry, don’t you think, Captain?”

Grey gave a sigh.  Truly, this Ian Stewart was an infuriating man.

“Commander,” Lieutenant Green then said, while typing on the keyboard of his station, “I’m presently gaining access to those cameras myself …”

“You can do that, Lieutenant?” an impressed Stewart demanded.  “From down here?”

“Give a computer to the lieutenant, and he can perform miracles, Commander,” Grey said with a faint smile. 

“It’s only a matter of accessing the right program, sir,” Green replied modestly.  “I’ve been doing that, while you were talking to Tan.  I’m nearly in…  We’ll then be able to see the interior of the tunnel.”

“Perfect, Lieutenant,” Grey said with a slow nod.  He watched, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, as Green finished entering his command. “Lieutenant,” he then said in a musing tone,  “did Lieutenant Tan say he contacted ‘Sergeant Fust’?”

“That’s the name he said, sir.”

“He said ‘he’,” Grey remarked. “But… I talked to a female Sergeant Fust earlier.”

Green looked up at his superior.  “Lieutenant Tan probably made a mistake, Captain?”  Grey contented himself with a grim look.  Green turned back to his screen as the computer was giving a brief beeping sound.  “Cameras online, sir…”  The screen divided in four sections, each giving a different view of the escape tunnel that linked the MSB to Spectrum Building B.  At first glance, on the first three cameras, everything seemed normal, with an image of a wide, dark and empty corridor.

On the fourth camera, which was showing the door to the Presidential Suite, there was movement.

Grey and Green stiffened.  “WHAT is this?” Grey exclaimed, pointing to the screen with insistence. 

Now Stewart hurried to the two Spectrum officers’ side; Green was selecting the fourth segment of the screen and it filled the entire surface of the screen.  Through the semi-darkness, they could see three men, crouched in front of the door, suddenly getting up and hurrying to an electric vehicle that was apparently waiting for them. 

“There’s someone out there!” Stewart stated.  “Don’t tell me they’re maintenance people!”

“I hardly think so, Commander,” Grey said bleakly.  “They left something against the door.  Lieutenant, give me a close-up.  I want to see what it is.”

“S.I.G., sir,” Green responded, pressing a few keys, as a sinking feeling was making its way through his heart.

“Grey calling Station B!”  Grey barked into his cap mic. He received no answer, but static…   Sergeant Fust…  Of COURSE, it was a woman earlier.  Whoever had answered Tan just now had only used her name.  “Lieutenant Tan!” he barked again.  “There’s something going on in Building B!  I can’t reach Control! Send a team in!”

“S.I.G., Captain Grey!” answered the hurried voice of Tan. “On its way!”

“My God, it’s a bomb!” Green suddenly declared, his face becoming suddenly ashen.

“A what?” both Grey and Stewart uttered with the same surprised and unbelieving tone.

The camera had zoomed in as much as possible on the explosive device set against the tunnel door; it was massive enough, with small tanks attached to it, and a LED indicator blinking on top of it.  A number had suddenly appeared on it. “Four minutes before it goes off!” Green announced. “Captain… this thing looks powerful enough to blow the whole door – even if it’s reinforced…”

“We must get out of here!”  Grey hurried toward the lift door, only a few feet away from it, followed by Stewart.  He savagely pressed the opening button. 

Nothing happened. Instead, on the small digital screen set over the digi-lock, a message appeared, blinking.

“Opening malfunction?!” Stewart nearly shrieked in Grey’s ear.

“It’s been blocked,” the Spectrum captain replied.  “Damn!” He hit the wall with his open palm.  “Damn! They trapped us here!  Grey to Security!” he called, lowering his cap mic again.  “There’s a bomb on the other side of the door, and someone’s tampered with the elevator controls! Can you open the doors from up there?”  

“Trying to, Captain Grey.”

“Make it quick, man!” 

“Captain,” Green, still at his station, called from behind, causing Grey to turn in his direction.  “I just had a good look at that bomb…  We HAVE to get out of here.  Not only was it installed so it would rip the doors open, but it looks like it will also discharge into the opening whatever those tanks might contain…”  He swallowed hard.  “My guess is an incendiary substance,” he added.  “I’ve seen similar tanks containing napalm… The whole room will be destroyed.” 

“We can open the door from this side and defuse that bomb,” Stewart proposed.  “I’ve got experience doing that.”

Like I would let my charge go near that bomb, Grey thought sourly.

“Negative, Commander,” Green then declared, “they set the bomb so that if we open the door, it’ll blow up.”

“Wonderful,” grumbled Stewart.

“Captain Grey?” That was security calling Grey back on his cap microphone.  He took the call urgently. 

“Give me good news,” he asked hopefully.

“I’m sorry, sir…We’re unable to open the lift door. Down there or up here.  The systems seem blocked by an outside source!”

“My guess is that ‘outside source’ is at Building B!” Grey replied harshly.  “They have full control of EVERYTHING there.”

“But to do that, the person in question MUST know all the codes,” Green reflected.

Grey wondered if a Mysteron had not infiltrated the Spectrum team in Building B.  

“Lieutenant Tan and a security team is nearly there, Captain,” his contact explained urgently.  “Hang on, we’ll try to pry the doors open here and will send you a line.”

That may be too slow, Grey thought grimly, but he didn’t advise against it.  He looked down thoughtfully at the panel control beside the door. “Lieutenant Green, do you think you’d be able to get this door open?” he asked urgently, turning toward the younger man.

“I can try, sir,” Green said, raising from his seat.  “But I’m in no way an expert like Captain Magenta is at this sort of thing…”

“Didn’t you ever tell me that ANYTHING Captain Magenta is able to do with a computerised gadget you can do better?” Grey replied insistently.  “Get to work, Lieutenant.  We haven’t got much time!”

“S.I.G., sir,” Green answered, briskly walking the remaining distance separating him from the door.  “I’ll get on with it.”

He crouched in front of the panel, and examined it closely. With little effort, he tore off the metallic and plastic cover, and threw it aside to look at the now bare wires, electronic cards and apparently complicated circuitry that was revealed to him.  He gave a low grunt, shaking his head.

Behind him, nervously, Grey looked at his watch, counting the minutes – seconds – before the explosion.


* * *


When Lieutenant Tan and his team of armed security guards arrived at the Wilson and Richens Tailor Shop, it was to find the front door wide open, with nobody in the main store to greet them.  That in itself was already strange, as there was always supposed to be someone in attendance there.  When they got into the back room, it was to find the two undercover agents there, both lying on the floor.  A quick assessment informed Tan that Brent Finnegan was dead – a bullet through the head, while Jonah Maxwell, more lucky, was seriously wounded, with a chest injury, but unconscious.  Tan left a man to contact the medics and rushed down to Control with the rest of his team.  All the way from the MSB he had been trying to contact Station B, without any success, so he was expecting the worst when he arrived at his destination.

As the door of the elevator opened, and the guards, guns at the ready, entered the control room, they found nobody at his usual station.  Instead, there was a constant thumping and shouts coming from behind the closed door leading to the storage room.  Tan left two of his men there to investigate – suspecting it might well be the Spectrum personnel who had been imprisoned there.  He went directly to the computer controls, and looked up at the many screens over his head.  The cameras were still set on different areas, giving him a clear image of what had been going on.  The unconscious Spectrum guards in the bunker, which was still filled with a gaseous substance; the bomb set against the door leading to the Presidential Suite, the three men hurrying onboard the electric cart to leave the tunnel.

“They’re still down there,” Tan growled with anger obvious in his tone.  He turned toward his men.  “We can get them and stop that bomb!” he announced, raising his sidearm.  “Come with me to the lift, boys!”


* * *


Seated behind the wheel of the van, Josh Kirby was looking expectantly in the direction of the tailor’s shop he had left with Patrick Donaghue and Ox, only mere seconds before the Spectrum security guards had arrived in a hurry.  Behind him, nearly leaning over the seat, the eyes of the huge Ox were following the same direction as his, while Donaghue, in the passenger seat, seemed to be totally oblivious to what was going on, and was quietly lighting a cigar. 

“That was close,” murmured Kirby.  “One minute later, and we would have been caught.”

“One SECOND later,” Donaghue replied in an even tone, killing his match.  “It was good luck I was monitoring those Spectrum radio conversations, isn’t it, Josh?”

Kirby nodded grimly.  “Sir… what about O’Rourke and the others?” he asked tentatively.  “You… didn’t warn them.”

“There wasn’t any time left, Josh, you know that,” Donaghue replied matter-of-factly.

“Yes, but… what happens to them now?  Spectrum will catch them for sure.”

“You’re certain about that, Josh?”  Very quietly, Donaghue produced a small black box and showed it to Kirby.  The latter became pale when he recognised the object as being the remote control O’Rourke had devised for the bomb. “I kind of think they won’t get caught…” Donaghue added.

Stoically, he pushed a small lever, and his thumb hovered close to the push button.


* * *


“I’ve got it!”

With that triumphant cry, and after what had seemed like long minutes of hard and complicated work, that was making him sweat profusely, Lieutenant Green pressed one of the wires against the circuits, and in front of Grey’s and Stewart’s unbelieving eyes, the door of the lift slid open.  Even Green didn’t seem to truly believe he had done it, as he wiped his brow.

“I’ve outdone Captain Magenta,” he muttered with no false pride, and still looking incredulous over his exploit.  “I don’t think even HE would have been able to do it in so short a time…”

“Well done, but we’ll congratulate you later, Lieutenant!”  Grey unceremoniously pushed Commander Stewart inside the lift and entered, quickly followed by Green.  “Now close it!” he ordered the younger man.

“Right away, Captain,” Green replied, attacking the control panel inside the lift and tearing it apart in much the same way he had done on the other side.  He was confident of being able to close the door in less time than it had taken him to open it, now that he had acquired the experience, but he was still concerned at being able to do it before the bomb actually exploded.  And even then… “Sir, we might not be able to get this lift moving up even if we close the door…”

“He’s right, Grey,” Stewart gloomily commented.  “We won’t be able to reach the higher level before…”

“Just close the damned door, Lieutenant!” Grey nearly shouted impatiently.

Green nodded his acknowledgement and caught hold of a series of wires that he twirled together before pressing them hard against a circuitry plate…  There was a spark of electricity…


The bomb in the tunnel suddenly blew up; and just as it was meant to, it ripped a hole in the reinforced doors against which it was leaning, and sent scorching flames of death and destruction into the Presidential Suite as well as down the whole length of the tunnel. It caught up with the three members of the Donaghue gang, just as they were reaching the exit.  The reinforced door leading out of the tunnel to Building B groaned ominously under the strain, but held against the terrible blast.  Building B and the Spectrum personnel within were safe – but they had felt strongly, the power of the explosion…


* * *


The rumbling came first to the surface – then the tremor, as the rumbling itself subsided.  It felt exactly like an earthquake, or maybe as if a main gas pipe had exploded under the New York street.  Josh Kirby felt it, and saw its effects on the surface, through the opened window of the van.  He saw the ground as it quivered and the asphalted road crack slightly under the sudden pressure.  And then, it stopped.  By all appearances, the buildings around had suffered the minimum of damage.  And people were starting to pour out into the streets, looking around, wondering what had happened just then.

Kirby could see that the Spectrum agents, in and outside of Richens and Wilson, were very agitated, shouting into their communicators, apparently asking what was going on and instructions on what to do.  From where he was seated, Kirby could see the look of horror in the men’s faces as they stared at each other, bewildered and nearly helpless.

The horror felt by the Spectrum agents then reflected itself in Kirby, and he turned to Donaghue by his side; the latter was blowing out smoke from his newly-lit cigar, very quietly and as he didn’t have a care in the world.

And no remorse.

“Sir… the others,” Kirby stuttered.  “O’Rourke, Wheland and Stacey…  They… they didn’t get out in time… They…” 

Donaghue raised his eyes to him.  They were so cold that Kirby was unable to stop a shiver running down his spine.  Casually, Donaghue blew out a ring of smoke.

“They did what they had to do, Josh,” he replied callously.

Kirby swallowed hard.  What kind of a man was this Donaghue, to sacrifice three of his men in such a cold-hearted fashion?  It was as if he didn’t care about anyone – anything – as long as his goal was achieved. Kirby glanced back at Ox, seated in the back, looking for some support from him.  The big man did seem affected by what had happened, but Kirby could perceive nothing more than a quiver in his eyes, as he looked around in confusion.  Ox noticed the pleading way Kirby was staring at him, but said nothing.  His eyes taking a kind of non-assured, yet resigned expression, he sat back on his seat.  It was obvious he wouldn’t say a word, wouldn’t do a thing.  His actions were stating very clearly that he would follow Patrick Donaghue anywhere the man wanted to take him, and do everything he asked of him.  Passively.  Without asking questions.

The sinking feeling that he might be alone, and way over his head in a situation that could prove catastrophic, if not lethal, made Kirby shiver even more. 

“Let’s get back to the office, Josh,” Donaghue then said quietly, in a business-like tone.  “And turn on the radio.  We have to know if our little coup worked.”

Kirby acquiesced with a nod, uncomfortably.  “Right, Mr. Donaghue,” he said, turning the ignition key. “Anything you say…”

He had no choice, if he wanted to survive, but to keep his mouth shut.


* * *


The deafening roar had subsided somewhat, but any meaningful conversation still required shouting.  Beyond the lift doors the small group could hear the sound and feel the heat of the flames consuming the room that they had occupied only moments before.  It had been a lucky and narrow escape, made possible only by the alertness and quick action of Grey and Green.

Captain Grey still stood, hands on the rear wall of the lift, arching his body over Commander Stewart in an attempt to protect him still further.  As Grey realised that the immediate danger had lessened, he pushed himself back and stood upright.  As he did, he felt beads of sweat running uncomfortably down his back.  Despite the protection of the thick, reinforced doors and walls of the lift, the temperature inside had risen sharply to match that of any quality sauna.   Glancing to his left, Grey nodded briefly to Green, who returned the same expression of relief and concern, before turning back to help Commander Stewart to his feet.

“Commander?” Grey addressed him, still slightly breathless with the tension of the situation. “Are you okay?”

Stewart stood and smoothed his jacket.  To his displeasure, it refused to co-operate.  He had been unceremoniously bundled into the lift, pushed to the floor in the far corner and made to wait in a cramped space in rising humidity and heat.  As a result, his clothes, dignity and temper had all suffered greatly.

“Captain Grey, I am far from okay!” he snapped finally, staring the astonished Spectrum officer squarely in the eyes.  “You brought me here for my protection, did you not?”

“With respect, Commander,” Grey countered, “the Mysterons have made an attempt on your life, and you are still alive.  It may have been close, but what counts is that you are safe, thanks largely to Lieutenant Green’s efforts.”

Stewart merely glared in reply, unimpressed by Grey’s assurances or what he saw as false confidence.  Seeing Stewart about to comment, Grey continued:

“As you’re obviously well, I think it best to get us out of here.” He leaned to pick up his cap from the floor, where it had dropped during the initial blast that had shaken the lift so much. He withheld the frustrated sigh as he noticed that the visor, but more importantly, the mic, had been crushed beneath Commander Stewart’s foot in the rush to enter the lift and was no longer working.  He grunted.  “Lieutenant, can you contact Lieutenant Tan, please?” he asked with a shrug, showing his cap to the younger man. 

“Of course, Captain,” Green nodded in return. As he had left his own cap in the bunker, such was the hurry in which they had left, he turned to the control panel he had been working on only seconds earlier.  “I’ll try to get this comm.link to work…”


* * *


Captain Blue found the place described by Riordan easily enough.  It was a big warehouse, badly kept, with spider webs all around the place, and dirty windows.  Yet, it was obvious that it had been in use or at least visited recently – and many times, considering the number of footsteps he could see on the dust-covered concrete floor.  Many people had come in and out of here, but the place was now apparently empty.  Still, Blue took no chances as he swiftly, but quietly, entered, his gun at the ready, and all his senses awakened.  He couldn’t see anything suspicious, nor could he hear any sound.  

Whoever had been here was definitely gone now, Blue reflected.  Looking around, he discovered a patch of blood on the floor, and a trail of dark droplets leading out through a back door.  He deduced that it must have come from Riordan, as he was fleeing the place, wounded.

No trace of Scarlet so far.

“Down stairs, second on the right…”

Blue discovered a door leading to a lower level.  Still on his guard, he walked down the steps and came to a halt, as he considered the doors in front of him. Second on the right… He tried the handle of the said door; it wasn’t locked, so he pushed the door open, his gun trained on the inside.  He found himself looking into another empty storage room.

The silence was starting to get to him.

Damn it, Paul… where are you? he thought irritably.  He entered the room, looking around, fully expecting to find his friend lying in a corner, either trussed up, wounded – or even dead.

He noticed the toppled chair in the middle of the room, with ropes hanging from it.  He quickly went to it, to find a large enough puddle of blood staining the floor right next to it.  He became increasingly worried when he noticed the bloody trail stretching from it.  As if a body had been dragged from the spot where it had fallen.

Blue followed the trail with his eyes.  It led directly to a trap door, cut into the floor.  It ended there.

Blue opened eyes wide with horror, suddenly realising what had happened to his friend.


“Sweet Jesus…”  He pulled on the large ring serving as a handle to the door to open it… Then he looked down with amplified shock and revulsion at the dirty surface of the cold river below. 

His fears were confirmed.


Captain Blue raised his head to see Captain Ochre as he stood in the doorway  leading into the room.

“The ambulance has arrived,” Ochre said, stepping into the room. “Riordan is being taken to the hospital now, and those other guys who tried to kill him are…”  Further explanation from Ochre died on his lips, as his eyes suddenly fell on the hole by which Blue was crouched.  He stopped his approach.

“Oh no,” Ochre muttered, his eyes fully reflecting his inner dread. “Scarlet… Don’t tell me he’s down there…”

Blue shook himself; nodding grimly to Ochre’s question, he stood up and swiftly removed his cap and tunic, under Ochre’s worried scrutiny.

“There’s only one way to find out…”


* * *


Lieutenant Tan stood hunched over the console.  All the indicators told him that sensors to the Maximum Security Building Presidential Suite were cut.  There was only one possible cause: they had been destroyed.  The tunnel escape mechanism had not been activated and the lift, he knew, had been disabled.  That meant that Grey, Green and Stewart had not left the bunker suite, there was simply no other means of escape.  He tried each of the security cameras in turn, hoping that at least one would still be functional.  Finally he found one in the tunnel and was unprepared for the sight that met him. 

He viewed the tunnel through a cloud of dust still hanging in the air, obscuring the scene.  There was obviously a lot of debris, and parts of the tunnel had collapsed.  He realised almost immediately that the bomb must have been massive to have caused such extensive damage.  Amongst the fallen masonry were bodies; at least two were visible, maybe a third, it was difficult to say.  Clearly they had either been careless, or the bomb had been activated early.  Needless to say, Tan thought with a heavy heart, if there were dead men in the tunnel, so far from the Presidential Suite, then it seemed impossible that there would be any survivors inside. 

Trying a few more of the security cameras, Tan was surprised to find one still working within the bunker suite itself.  The room was ablaze with flames of such ferocity that it suggested to him that there was some sort of incendiary keeping them burning.  He shook his head sadly; there seemed to be no chance of survivors.  Sighing deeply, he rubbed the bridge of his nose.  Lowering his cap microphone, he waited until he reached a colleague in the Maximum Security Building.

“Patch me through to Cloudbase,” he murmured unhappily.  “Colonel White.”


* * *


Commander Stewart had removed his jacket.  The shirt he wore was stuck to his back, soaked with sweat, such was the heat in the confines of the lift.  He was once more sitting on the floor, leaning back against a corner and resting his arms on his knees.

“How are you doing, Lieutenant?” asked Grey as Green worked hard to contact the Spectrum staff in the building above.

“I’m having a bit of trouble, Captain, there’s a lot of interference at the moment,” replied Green gravely.  “I’ll keep trying.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Grey let out a slight sigh. The sooner they were rescued the better.

“Oh sure,” came a disgruntled voice from the floor of the lift.  “ ‘Spectrum will take care of you.’ ”

Grey took a deep breath to steady his nerves.

“ ‘The Maximum Security Building will be safe,’ ” Stewart continued in a sarcastic tone.  “ ‘We know so much more about the Mysterons now.  You’ll be quite safe, Commander.’ ”

Grey turned and reluctantly stared down at Commander Stewart who was eyeing him with contempt.  Grey tried hard to keep his expression even, but Stewart could see – and seemed to be taking a spiteful delight in the fact – that Grey was fighting to maintain a calm façade.  

“And if you had remained in your home, Commander?” Grey asked flatly. “Do you have anything that would have protected you as this lift did?  Or would you be lying dead, surrounded by other good, dead men from your own force?”

“You are out of order, Captain Grey!” Stewart snapped, getting quickly to his feet.

“No, Commander.” Grey glared, his patience long since at an end, tired of the abuse and ingratitude of their charge.  “You have made it your business to ridicule Spectrum and pour scorn on everything we’ve done to ensure your protection.  Yes, it was close, but you ARE alive, thanks to this man –” Grey’s eyes blazed with fury as he swung his arm to point directly at Lieutenant Green, “– his attention to detail and quick thinking.  Now I suggest that you think about that and if you really can’t say anything civil then just sit down and shut up while we figure out how the hell to get out of here!”

Stewart stared back, at first furious at the Spectrum officer’s tirade.  How dare a functionary speak to him like that?  Following the direction of Grey’s arm he glanced briefly at Lieutenant Green, trying his best not to look at either of them, working feverishly to establish contact with Lieutenant Tan.  As he looked back at Grey, still glaring furiously, Stewart took a deep breath and briefly lowered his eyes.

“I guess I asked for that,” he admitted quietly, to Grey’s surprise.

“Please, Commander,” Grey returned graciously, “sit down, we’ll get you out of here, safe and sound.”

Commander Stewart nodded briefly and lowered himself to the floor without another word.

“Captain Grey, I think I’m getting somewhere,” Green announced with a relieved sigh.

“Keep at it, Lieutenant, you’re doing a fine job,” Grey replied quietly, as he leaned against the back wall of the lift, wiping his brow with his sleeve.


* * *


“Colonel.” Lieutenant Sienna, seated at the main computer in Cloudbase’s Control Room turned to the Spectrum commander.  “I have Lieutenant Tan calling from the Maximum Security Building in New York.”

“Lieutenant Tan?” White mused. “Put him through, Lieutenant.”

“S.I.G., Colonel.”

Sienna acknowledged the call and transferred it to the main speakers.

“This is Colonel White, go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“Colonel, I have very bad news.  The Mysterons have attacked the Maximum Security Building.”

“What?!” White instinctively knew from Tan’s tone that he had not yet disclosed the worst of it.  “Casualties?”

“Sir, the Presidential Suite is destroyed.” Tan paused for a moment as he thought of the loss of lives, the personal loss of a friend. “I don’t think there can have been any survivors.”

“That’s impossible! With Captain Magenta’s security improvements, how did they get in?  What about the tunnel to Building B?”

“But that’s just it, Colonel, that’s how they got in.  They disabled the lift mechanism and set a bomb at the tunnel entrance.  Captain Grey, Lieutenant Green and Commander Stewart… they were trapped,” Tan explained sadly.

“A bomb?” White thought fast.  “The suite is large, it is quite possible that they have survived the blast.”

“Sir,” Tan’s voice audibly cracked.  “Not this bomb.  It was a dual blast incendiary.  Apparently, the first blew a hole in the door, the second tore the place apart with what appears to have been napalm, or something very similar.  The whole place is a charred ruin and still blazing.  There’s nothing left.”  Tan’s voice had, by the end of his explanation, dwindled to the merest whisper.

White closed his eyes sadly.  The mission had failed, but in addition to Commander Stewart, Spectrum had lost two of its elite men.  It was a terrible blow.

White sighed, perhaps three or four times, before continuing:  “How fast can we get the emergency crews in there?”

“MSB Control inform me that they’re already in place and should be tackling the flames,  Colonel.  I’m afraid there won’t be much left to find, sir.”

A crackling sound interrupted the transmission.  Briefly and at first weak, the signal soon strengthened and became more persistent.

“What?” Tan was incredulous. “It’s not possible!”

“What is it, Lieutenant?” asked White, leaning forward with interest.

“Colonel, it’s one of the bunker communicators, but I don’t understand…”

“Hey!” came the distinctive voice of Lieutenant Green.  “Any chance of a lift, here?”

“Lieutenant Green?” stammered Tan in utter astonishment.

“S.I.G. Lieutenant Tan.  We’re alive. Both Commander Stewart, Captain Grey – and me, obviously!”

“But the bomb?”

“We’re in the lift.  Get us out of here, Tan, before we cook!”

“Lieutenant, how is Commander Stewart?” asked White with concern.

“Colonel?” Green answered with surprise, obviously not counting on hearing the sound of his commander’s voice over the comm.

“I’m fine, Colonel,” the voice of Stewart then answered.  “Your men have taken very good care of me.”

“I’m relieved to hear it, Commander,” White sighed.  “We’ll have you out of there as soon as possible.”



* * *


Captain Ochre was nervously pacing in front of the opened trap door.  A few instants earlier, despite Ochre’s concern and protests, Captain Blue had lowered himself into the cold, dark, foetid waters of the Hudson River.  There was nothing Ochre could say to Blue to stop him from going down there – no argument that the cold exposure would be almost deadly, that currents might sweep him away, that it would be too dark to see anything.  It was only after that last remark that they had run off to the nearby SSC to retrieve a powerful flashlight that was part of the patrol car’s standard equipment. Waving away Ochre’s further protests that they should be waiting for the divers they had called for, Blue had then plunged into the bitterly cold waters. Leaving Ochre with nothing more to do than wait worriedly for him next, to the hole.

It’s too long, the American captain reflected, muttering.  In that cold water… He can’t stay much longer.  Come on, Blue, come back already.

He heard splashing and hurriedly came over the hole to look down.  Blue had pierced the surface of the cold water, gasping loudly for much needed air.  Ochre nearly grimaced upon seeing how pale – nearly white – his friend’s skin had become.  Quickly, he grabbed the arm Blue was extending to him, and hauled him up and out of the water that clung viscously to him.  Blue was literally out of breath and out of strength as he stumbled out of the hole and onto the floor, teeth chattering, and his whole body shivering.  Ochre hurriedly wrapped him in the thick blanket that they had brought from the SSC along with the flashlight. 

“You’re crazy, Blue,” Ochre declared.  “Look at you… You could have killed yourself going down there.  What were you thinking about?  This isn’t Hawaii…”

“I found him, Rick…”  Through his rattling teeth, Blue had managed to say the words that he knew Ochre really didn’t want to hear.  He felt his friend going rigid, and turned to face him.  He nodded and took a deep breath.  “He’s down there all right…  They shot him, weighted him and threw him down into those freezing waters.”

“Damn,” Ochre muttered.  “I knew there was something wrong.  But I never imagined that Fisher would use the old Mob ways to…”

“He’s down there too.”  Ochre stared at Blue with a clueless expression.  The blond man, still searching for his breath, nodded vigorously.  “Ben Fisher.  And a couple of other guys.  And by the looks of things, they’ve not been down there long.  It’s pretty recent.”

“I don’t understand,” Ochre said shaking his head.  “If Fisher is dead, then who…?”

“I don’t know.”  Blue took another deep breath.  “We will need those divers, Ochre.  And fast.  We’ve got to get Scarlet out of the water and back on Cloudbase.  Then we’ll start looking for explanations.”

“The divers are on their way,” Ochre said, grabbing his colleague’s shoulder.  “Don’t worry, Adam, he’ll be all right.”

“I know he will be,” Blue said with a shiver.  “Physically, at least.  But… This will sound horrible, Rick, but I hope he was unconscious or dead when he was thrown down there into those filthy waters.  It is not a pretty way to die… especially for a man who can come back from the dead and remember it.”


* * *


Captain Magenta lay still.  But for an occasional flickering of his eyelids, he hadn’t stirred since he was brought back to Cloudbase.  Doctor Fawn returned the chart to the slot at the foot of the bed with a sigh.  He had done everything he could; it was entirely up to Magenta now – he simply had to want to live enough to pull through. 

Fawn’s eyes rested on the figure of Destiny Angel seated at Magenta’s bedside.  She had been there at every opportunity since he arrived and more than once, when she believed she was entirely alone, Fawn had caught sight of her stroking his hair or holding his hand to her cheek.  He knew that all of the senior staff were close, and there wasn’t a single one amongst them who hadn’t taken their turn to visit the injured captain, standing or sitting with deeply furrowed brows, replete with concern for their colleague and friend.  But this was different.  Destiny wasn’t just concerned, she was terrified.  To Fawn’s sympathetic eyes, it was obvious that the life of the Irishman seemed to matter to her more than her own, more than anything or anyone.

“Destiny,” Fawn said quietly,  “you should rest.  You’re on duty in an hour and I know you haven’t had any sleep since your last watch.”

“I’m fine, Doctor, really,” she replied quickly, giving a half glance over her shoulder in an attempt to acknowledge him without actually taking her eyes from the patient.

“You’re not fine, Destiny, you’re…”

“Why hasn’t he woken, Doctor?” she cut in with a voice that clearly didn’t want to ask the question and feared the reply.

“I don’t know, Destiny.  It looked hopeful earlier, but – ” Fawn paused. “– it’s up to him now.  There’s nothing more I can do.”

“Nothing?” Her reply was little more than a barely audible whisper.

“I’m sure your being here is doing more for him than anything I can offer right now.” Fawn patted her shoulder sympathetically.

“You think he knows I’m here?” she asked, her increasingly frail voice on the verge of breaking.

Fawn sighed.  What could he say?  He didn’t want to give her false hopes.  Magenta was strong, there seemed no reason for him to slip away now, but Fawn couldn’t be certain.  His body had taken a tremendous shock and there was the possibility of permanent damage to contend with too. There could be no way of telling until he woke.

“He’s a fighter, Destiny. We have to hope.”

Destiny nodded with an air of concern and desperation, content to cling to the faintest of hopes.

Behind them as they talked, Magenta frowned and twitched his head slightly to the left.  His brow furrowed as he trembled beneath the sheets

“Pat?” Destiny whispered as she caught sight of the stream of sudden jerky head movements and shuddering breaths that indicated that Magenta was in extreme distress.

Fawn, with his back half-turned to the unconscious captain, turned to see what was wrong.

“I was afraid of this,” he frowned, instantly heading back to the bedside.  “Destiny, fetch Doctor Taupe, I need assistance.”  Fawn spoke with a voice clearly tinged with concern and urgency.

“What’s wrong?” Destiny asked, more than worried by Fawn’s change of tone.

“Get Taupe, he’ll be fine, just…”

As he spoke, Magenta lurched, pulling himself bolt upright in the bed.  Gasping and obviously in a state of panic, he fought against Fawn’s restraining hands, that were desperately trying to push him back down onto the mattress.

“Pat!” cried Destiny, shocked at the sight before her. 

Magenta’s strength, born of fear, left Fawn fighting to hold him.  Grimacing, Fawn held Magenta’s upper arms, as he struggled against him.  Destiny stood, rooted to the spot, uncharacteristically uncertain of what to do for the best.  Fawn needed help, certainly, but was it too late to fetch Doctor Taupe? 

“Destiny!” yelled Fawn in desperation as Magenta threw him back and lunged forward.  Magenta fell from the bed, jarring his hands as he landed heavily, tangled in the sheets as he pulled them down with him.  Still fighting for breath that seemed to be eluding him, he tried anxiously to free himself to no avail.

“Pat!  It’s me, Juliette.” Destiny knelt at his side clutching one of his hands and trying with some difficulty to place a calming hand on his forehead.

Magenta’s struggles diminished, more out of exhaustion than calm.  It was only then that he began to hear Destiny’s distressed voice calling to him through his waking haze.  Looking up, he saw the concerned faces of Destiny and Fawn, looking down at him as he lay on the Sickbay floor, soaked with sweat, his legs wrapped in a tangle of sheets.  Blinking in confusion, he continued to stare at their troubled expressions.

“Why am I on the floor?” he asked uncertainly.

“Welcome back, Captain,” Fawn greeted the confused Irishman with a light chuckle. 

Unconcerned about the presence of the doctor, Destiny gathered Magenta close and caressed his hair.

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again!” she scolded gently.

Magenta glanced up at Fawn with a degree of embarrassment at the acute lack of discretion Destiny was exhibiting.

Fawn merely smiled and raised an eyebrow.  Magenta relaxed slightly, helped by Destiny’s comforting caress, hoping that the scene would be considered part of patient confidentiality.














Other stories by Chris Bishop


Other stories by Sue Stanhope


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