Original series Suitable for all readersMedium level of violence

Dead Ringer


A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” story


By Chris Bishop & Sue Stanhope






Captain Scarlet slowly opened his eyes to find himself looking up at a low, curved, grey ceiling that he recognised instantly as part of the cabin of a Spectrum Passenger Jet.  He was lying on the standard medical bunk, which could be fixed against the cabin’s wall, to safely transport any wounded agent whenever necessary.  It wasn’t the first time Scarlet had woken on this bunk – but this time, he had to admit, he was grateful to actually wake up, considering the last images he had in his memory. 

He coughed loudly; there was a bad taste in his mouth that was irritating him intensely. Almost immediately, he saw a hand appear in his line of vision, holding a paper cup. 

“Water?” Scarlet turned his head to his left to see Captain Blue seated there, watching him with some concern on his face.  Blue smiled slightly at his friend, who raised himself on his elbow, pushing down the blanket that was covering him and reaching for the cup.  He drank the contents avidly. 

“Easy,”  Blue said, witnessing as his colleague nearly choked on his last gulp, “there’s plenty more where that comes from.”

“Thanks,” Scarlet replied, sighing with contentment.  “I needed that – haven’t felt so thirsty in years…”

Blue grimly shook his head.  “I’m not surprised, considering the amount of water you coughed up earlier, you’re probably pretty dehydrated…”

Scarlet gave his friend a questioning, hesitant look, hardly daring to ask the question that came to his mind.  He looked down at himself, seeming to notice for the first time that he wasn’t wearing anything under the blanket.  He turned back to Blue again.  “I take it you didn’t find me in time before I was… dumped in the drink?” 

Blue slowly shook his head.  “No, sorry.  You’d already been down for some time before Ochre and I found you.  According to what we were able to gather, almost an hour.”

Scarlet shivered.  “I was almost hoping you wouldn’t say that…”

Blue gave a deep sigh.  “We had to wait for Spectrum divers to get you out of there.  We brought you back to New York HQ and right into this SPJ, before heading for Cloudbase.  We did CPR on you right away…  You started showing signs of life as soon as we got all that water out of your lungs.”

How were you able to find me, anyway?”

“Matt Riordan.  He gave us a call at Spectrum New York.” 

“Riordan?!”  Scarlet repeated in surprise.  “I was captured at his apartment.  He called you?”

“He seemed to be very afraid for his life. And as much as afraid of being implicated in the murder of a Spectrum agent.  He was shot for his… indiscretion.  By his own people.  When we found him, he was in a bad way, but he was able to tell us where to find you.  He’s at the hospital, right now, under close surveillance.  He won’t be able to get away, of course, but in case his ‘friends’ want to finish the job…  I don’t know if he’ll be well enough for us to interrogate him later on.” Blue paused a second, giving his colleague time to take it all in. “A lot happened while you were missing, Paul.  There was a Mysteron threat…”

“I know.  That’s the last thing I heard from the colonel before I was captured…”  He paused for a second, running his hand through his hair.  It was still damp from his earlier experience.  He recalled how filthy the water he had been thrown into was, and grunted.  He’d need a good shower when he got back to Cloudbase…  “How’s Magenta?” he asked suddenly, looking up at Blue again.

“He came out of his coma about an hour ago,” Blue answered.  “According to Doctor Fawn, he feels fine. No lasting ill-effects from his experience, it seems.   Maybe he’s a little disoriented…”

“I can relate to that,” Scarlet recalled, shivering.   “Drowning can do that to you.” 

 Blue tilted his head to the side.  “What exactly happened to you, Paul?  Who did that to you?”

“I don’t know if you’ll believe me,” Scarlet muttered, swinging his legs off the bunk and sitting up, while keeping the blanket wrapped round himself.  “I’m not even sure I can believe it myself…”

“You don’t say,” Blue replied with a pensive nod.  “It has something to do with the present Mysteron threat, right?  Was that why Riordan was so afraid?”

“How did you know it had something to do with the present threat?”

“As I said, a LOT happened while we were looking for you… During which we found indications to the fact that the people involved with your… ‘disappearance’… were also involved in the threat.”

“You’ll have to tell me all about this threat, Blue,” Scarlet grumbled, “because I don’t have any idea what it’s all about.”

“And you WILL tell me about what happened to you.”

“Of course.”  Scarlet gave a deep sigh.  “Okay, I’d better start with my visit to Matt Riordan’s apartment, then…  And who ambushed me there…  You better sit tight – because I’m certain you’ll be as shocked as I was when I saw who it was…”


* * *


With a frustrated gesture, Patrick Donaghue slapped the newspaper down on the desk. The headlines of the afternoon edition were a upsetting reminder that his first, well-orchestrated attempt on Commander Ian Stewart’s life had been a complete failure.

 Violent explosion at Spectrum Maximum Security Building shakes whole neighborhood.  Terrorists, Spectrum agent dead.   And right underneath, a smaller headline, less dramatic, which had apparently no link with the preceding news:  Swearing-in ceremony of new WGPC Supreme Commander to be held in New York.  That meant, beyond any doubt, that Stewart was alive and well – and ready to assume his new post of command in the next few hours.

To say that Donaghue wasn’t surprised would have been a lie.  He knew, of course, the efficacy of the MSB security, as well as that of the Spectrum agents who had been protecting Stewart.  Lieutenant Green was an unknown factor he had not accounted for in his carefully crafted plan.  Donaghue would have bet everything that  the young Trinidad-born officer had been instrumental in Stewart’s rescue.  He was as proficient – if not more so – as Donaghue himself with computers and electronic gadgets.  So he must have found a way to counter the failsafe locks that Donaghue had applied to every system in the Presidential Suite, in order to trap Stewart and his bodyguards inside, with no apparent way to escape.  If there was just ONE flaw in Donaghue’s plan, then Green would have been the one to find it – and that had permitted Spectrum to save Stewart. 

But it didn’t matter.  It was only a short reprieve.  Commander Ian Stewart would die soon, at the hands of the Mysterons.  And Donaghue was committed to do it in such a way that it would hurt Spectrum too.

Puffing on a freshly lit cigar, Donaghue turned to the window behind him and looked out thoughtfully.  The World Government Police HQ in New York stood on the other side of the street, beyond the large private parking lot where police cars were lined up in perfect order.  He smiled thinly.  For what it was worth, Ben Fisher was a relatively brilliant man; he had acquired this building many years ago, so to keep an inconspicuous and  close surveillance post on the WGPC building – without anyone suspecting anything about it.  Plus, he had his own moles in the building, one of which, Captain Tony Brealey – the late Jeff Tyler’s contact – was a close colleague of Stewart himself. 

According to the information Donaghue had been able to glean on Brealey, the latter secretly despised and hated Stewart – he was jealous of his fame and the success he had earned in his career. The two men had started out almost at the same time and with the same rank  within the Police Corps, as colleagues, and apparent friends.  But they were quite different.   Stewart had a high standard of values; he was a totally incorruptible police officer –  so morally upright that it could only be sickening for a man like Brealey, who was quite willing to accept bribes and sell out his associates if it might prove profitable for his career or his wallet.  And yet, despite all his shady dealings, Brealey had never been able to accede to the rank and position that Stewart had ascended to through his hard work and straight ethics.  Brealey found himself stuck in a perpetually subordinate role to Stewart.  Obviously, he blamed and  loathed Stewart for that role.  Certainly, his feelings towards his superior were even worse now that Stewart was about to be named to the highest post there was in the WGPC – that of Supreme Commander.  

Nothing would please Brealey more than to see Stewart fall.  And he was willing to help.  For a price, of course.  A price that he thought Donaghue would be willing to pay.

All the arrangements had been made.  And Brealey had been suitably allured by receiving his first, very generous down payment for his upcoming service.  It was more money that he had ever dreamed of having all at one time.  And the promise that he would receive the same amount after the deed was done had secured his reliability.  At least temporarily. 

The fool had no idea whatsoever that he would not live long enough to benefit from this money.

A knock at the door made Donaghue turn on his heels. “Enter!” he called, removing the cigar from his mouth.  He watched as Josh Kirby and Ox entered, one after the other, and approached him.  Kirby was carrying a box that he gave to  Donaghue. Putting it on the desk, Donaghue lifted up the top to check the contents.  He nodded approvingly and closed the box.  

“Perfect,” he declared.  “We’ll be able to proceed to plan B now.”  He turned to face his men, and noticed how Kirby was eyeing the newspaper, trying to look inconspicuous.  He wasn’t really succeeding.  “You got a problem, Josh?” Donaghue asked, in a suave enough tone.

“N-no, sir,” Kirby answered, snapping from his reverie to turn his attention to his boss. He felt himself wilt under the scrutinising stare of Donaghue, and lowered his eyes. “Well, no, that isn’t true,” he admitted reluctantly.  “I was wondering…  why risk another attempt right now?  Surely, there will be other opportunities later.  Better opportunities.  Security around Stewart will be so tight now, how could we possibly hope…”

“Josh.”  Donaghue’s tone was falsely friendly, and it was so obvious that it made Kirby’s skin crawl.  He heard the annoyed sigh of his boss and raised his eyes to see that Donaghue was staring at him implacably – with the kind of look that admitted no questioning of his orders.  “There WON’T be other opportunities, Josh,” Donaghue spelled out slowly, as if he were a teacher trying to explain a lesson to a difficult student.  “It’s now or never.  After the ceremony, when he’s Supreme Commander of the WGPC, Stewart will fly to the Supreme Headquarters in Paris.  We won’t be able to touch him there. It’s while he is still here, on our own turf, that we’ll be able to get at him. After that, it will be nearly impossible.  No, no, right now, at the swearing-in ceremony – that’s where he’ll be the most vulnerable.” Donaghue put his hand on Kirby’s shoulder.  The latter nearly shivered under his touch.  “Believe me.  It’s now or never.  And this time,  we WON’T fail.”

Kirby wasn’t convinced of that; but what he was convinced of was that, most certainly, Donaghue was willing to do anything to get to Stewart.  He didn’t doubt that it meant killing them all, if necessary.  He swallowed hard and shook his head nervously. It was better not to discuss Donaghue’s orders.  “Of course, Mr. Donaghue,” he said with as much assurance as he could muster.

“Good,” Donaghue said with a satisfied smile, turning around to the window.  “Everything is set, then.  The best snipers we have are on the roof, ready to act at a second’s notice.  All our men are armed and ready, and Brealey has been bought to our cause.  We CAN’T fail…”  He took a puff of his cigar and then, as if a new thought had crossed his mind, turned back to Kirby and Ox.  “But there is one thing,” he said pensively.  “We have to get rid of all the proofs the police and Spectrum might find at the main office.”

“You’ll think they’ll go up there, Mr. Donaghue?” Kirby asked with a frown.

“Cody and Billy haven’t come back,” Donaghue remarked.  “They might have been arrested – they might talk to the police.”

“Not them, sir.  They’ll keep their mouths shut.”

“What about Riordan?  We don’t know if they finished him or not.  So, it’s quite possible that Riordan would tell the police – or Spectrum – about our office.  And perhaps the rest.”  Donaghue crushed his cigar into the ashtray.  “This is a risk we cannot take.  Go back there, Josh.  Destroy everything.  Paper, computer, the whole building even.  Don’t leave a single trace.”  He gestured toward Ox, standing behind Kirby.  “Ox will go with you.”

“Ox?” Kirby said, his face becoming pale.

“I can’t spare anyone else, Josh,” Donaghue replied sternly.  “Ox will be sufficient help.  I suggest you go and get on with the job.  Right now, Josh.  Time is of the essence.”

“O-of course, Mr. Donaghue,” Kirby answered, nodding nervously. “I’m on to it.  Don’t worry.” 

Receiving an acknowledging nod from his boss, Kirby turned on his heels and quickly disappeared through the open door.  The silent Ox was about to follow, more slowly, when Donaghue discreetly called him back.  “Ox.”

The giant stopped in his tracks and turned around; Donaghue’s eyes were cold and without emotion when he spoke next.

“If he makes one wrong step, Ox,” he said between his teeth, “you know what to do.  And if anyone from the police or Spectrum shows his face…”

He left the sentence hanging.  Ox didn’t need further instructions.  He answered with a brief, unemotional nod, and turned to leave, without uttering a single sound.  Donaghue grunted with satisfaction, and reached for his cigar-case.

He knew he could fully count on Ox to do a good job.


* * *


Escaping Doctor Fawn soon after his arrival on Cloudbase had been easier than Scarlet had expected.  It was true he had mostly recovered from his ordeal since he had been rescued by Blue and Ochre, and so Fawn merely examined him very quickly, for possible trauma of any kind.  Physically, Scarlet was fine, and once Fawn had made sure of that, much to Scarlet’s ever-increasing impatience, he started asking questions of Blue, who had escorted his friend to sickbay, while Ochre had gone to Colonel White to make a full report of the events.  That was the cue Scarlet needed to leave the examination room.  While Blue – fully aware of Scarlet’s plans – kept Fawn busy, the English captain pretended the need to go to the head, and sneaked out.  He needed to see Magenta.

The Irish captain, he discovered, had been moved from the private room that had been previously assigned to him into the men’s ward – which, Scarlet reflected, was an encouraging sign that he was on his way to a quick and full recovery.  Walking down the main corridor of the sickbay in the grey overall taken from the SPJ, he passed by a couple of nurses, who at first addressed him an odd look – but who recognised him almost immediately, and smiled at him.  He barely answered their gracious welcome – his mind was all set on the meeting he was about to have with Magenta.

Finding his colleague was easy – Magenta was all alone in the ward.  Spectrum personnel, aside from the occasional injuries or colds, were surprisingly healthy people.  Which was a good thing, considering the confined environment in which they lived; Fawn was extremely careful to isolate any sign of sickness as soon as it appeared so it wouldn’t spread – Colonel White would certainly not appreciate that in the least.   So Magenta had the ward all to himself – all to himself, that is, except for the lone visitor who was seated on a chair by his bed.  Scarlet permitted himself a slight, brief smile as he crossed the ward towards the pair, and could hear their faint, whispered exchange.  He wasn’t all that surprised to find Destiny there, keeping the Irishman company. 

His smile had disappeared completely when he reached the side of the bed, and both of them looked up at him.

“Captain Scarlet!” Magenta beamed a genuinely warm smile at his colleague, which within seconds faded to an inquiring expression as Scarlet merely stared almost blankly in reply.

“Is everything all right, Captain Scarlet?” asked Destiny, rising from her seat.

Scarlet took a deep breath and nodded.  It wasn’t hard to see that he was distracted, but it had been a difficult time for him – for them all.

“Destiny,” Scarlet began, “I have to talk to Captain Magenta, would you mind leaving us for a while?”

Destiny smiled. Of course, Scarlet wanted to thank Pat for saving his life, that was understandable.  Gently patting the Englishman’s arm, Destiny nodded.  “Of course, Captain, I’ll see you both later, perhaps.”

Magenta’s smile returned as he squeezed Destiny’s proffered hand before she turned to leave.

It was during times like this that Scarlet would normally want to have his radiocap in his hands.  He would never openly admit to being nervous, but he felt it.  Like a thousand butterflies flying irregular churning patterns inside him.  Thank goodness, Magenta had no inkling of his feelings.  Scarlet knew it was unfair of him to feel this way.  This was the real Captain Magenta, the real Patrick Donaghue, sitting up under the sheets, not the Mysteron reconstruction that had killed him.  But, quite involuntarily, he found himself pondering, wondering if the real Patrick Donaghue had ever been anything like his Mysteron counterpart.  There was so much he didn’t know about Magenta.  The Irishman  always seemed so open and eager to please; but now, as he thought about it, what did Scarlet actually know about him?  Only what he was prepared to tell.  Even Ochre couldn’t possibly put his hand on his heart and swear to know everything about the man. 

But then, they all had their secrets, didn’t they?

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, or are you going to make me guess?”

The abrupt question drew Scarlet from his musings. Magenta was looking up at him with a faint, encouraging smile.  Almost embarrassed at being caught out, Scarlet cursed himself inwardly.  He had forgotten just how observant Magenta was and how adept he could be at figuring facial expressions and body language.

“It’s good to see you looking so well,” he finally managed.

Magenta fixed him with a curious gaze.  No, he thought, that wasn’t it.  Give him time, he’ll come out with it.

“You saved my life, Scarlet,” he replied, with a warmer smile.  “Thanks hardly covers it.”

“I very nearly didn’t, I mean you actually…” Scarlet tapered off, suddenly realising that Magenta may not have been told the full story of his time in the lake.

“Died? Is that the word you were about to say?” Magenta nodded sombrely. “They told me. They explained all about that mammalian diving reflex and all that going into a state of hibernation stuff…  But – I don’t quite know if you can actually say that I died.  Not really.  But it was so very close to it, wasn’t it? Still, not what you can experience yourself.” He paused for a moment before looking up and staring Scarlet squarely in the eyes. “God, Paul, how do you do it?  I mean, I know you’ll recover and everything, but I just did too and I never want to go through that again!”

Scarlet gave a short laugh.  “You want to know?”

Magenta nodded slowly.

“I don’t know.  I guess I feel like I have to keep proving myself.”

“To whom?” asked Magenta, astounded by the reply.

Scarlet shook his head. “Maybe to myself?”

“You don’t need to prove yourself to us, that’s for sure.  You’ve done that a thousand times already!  You’re a decent guy, Paul.  You know, when I first joined, you were the first one to accept me without condition.”

Scarlet raised his eyes, startled by the words.  Before killing him, the Mysteron Donaghue had said almost exactly the same thing to him. All of Scarlet’s darkest thoughts and fears came rushing back into his mind.  What else about Magenta was similar to the reconstruct?  Had he killed in cold blood before? 

Maybe Ochre would know? 

“What?” Magenta asked quickly, seeing a fleeting expression crossing Scarlet’s face. “What’d I say?”

As a soldier, Scarlet had been trained to hide his emotions - but even his best efforts weren’t enough to keep Magenta from seeing through the mask and figuring out that something was wrong. 

“Nothing.” Scarlet shook his head. “How do you feel?”

“Okay,” Magenta replied, still curious about Scarlet’s reaction towards him. “For someone who just drowned.  How about you?”

Scarlet smiled thinly. “About the same.”

Magenta offered yet another puzzled stare.  Scarlet was talking in riddles.

“You must have been pretty scared,” Scarlet added, changing the subject.

Magenta sighed and raised his eyebrows.  “You bet!  I expected my life to flash before my eyes – you know, that old cliché.  But it didn’t.  I just kept thinking about how I’d let my family down.  Scarlet, I have to make peace with my father.  You know, I’m not in any rush to die, but this experience made me realise – I could die any time.  I need to sort this out.”

Scarlet nodded reflectively.  “I know how you feel.  There’s nothing like dying to get things into perspective.”

“What goes through your mind?  You know…when you die.  Well, just before really,” Magenta asked, with an uncertain frown.

“It depends,” Scarlet replied, somewhat cagily.

“On what?”

“What I’m doing, where I am, how long it takes, who kills me.” Scarlet bit his lip, it was out before he realised.  Clearly, he couldn’t push recent events out of the forefront of his mind.  As much as he tried to remind himself that the man before him had nothing to do with his murder, it was so very hard.  He cursed himself over and over.  This was an uncomfortable enough situation.  He remembered how much he had expected people to accept him following his return from the control of the Mysterons and here he was now, having so much difficulty simply talking to the real Magenta after his duplicate – NOT the real Magenta – had killed him.   Damn it! 

“Paul, what’s wrong?”

Scarlet shrugged absently. “Just a little tired, I think. I haven’t really had time to stop, lately.”

Garbage! Magenta reflected, even more suspicious of his colleague’s behaviour.  What aren’t you telling me, Scarlet?

“No uniform?” he observed, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery about which Scarlet seemed reluctant to talk.

“No.”  Clearly, he wasn’t about to elaborate on that particular subject.  The Englishman sighed.   “Look, Pat, I don’t know how to tell you this, but…”

“Captain Scarlet,” the clipped English voice sounded behind him, “I’d like to hear your report now.  In Doctor Fawn’s office.”

Turning on hearing the familiar voice, Scarlet stood to attention, discovering his commander standing only a few feet behind.  “Yes, Colonel.”

“Captain Magenta, I hope you’re feeling better,” White continued, stepping forward, and offering a genuinely warm smile to the recovering officer.

“Yes, sir, much better, thank you.  Perhaps you could put in a good word for me with the doctor?” he answered cheerily. “I would very much like to… leave this place.”

White’s smile broadened at the captain’s boldness.  “We’ll see, shall we, Captain?”

Magenta grinned in reply.  “Thank you, Colonel.”

“Captain Scarlet, if you’ll please follow me?”

Scarlet saluted Magenta with a nod, and stepped behind White, both of them leaving the ward in silence.  They went into Doctor Fawn’s office, where they found Captain Blue and Captain Ochre, waiting.  Fawn was absent at the moment.  Upon the colonel’s request, Scarlet closed the door behind him.

“I fully expected to find you lying in a bed resting, Captain,” White said, turning to his star agent.  “After what Captain Ochre had told me of your ordeal in his report... And what Captain Blue just confirmed to me when I found him earlier…”

“He SHOULD be resting, Colonel,” Blue approved eagerly, addressing a stern glance at his partner.

“I’m fine, sir,” Scarlet retorted quickly.  “Much better than I was earlier.  As Captain Blue must have told you, they only needed to remove the water from my lungs for me to revive.”

“You were shot, by your own admittance,” Blue observed.

Scarlet dismissed the remark with a wave of the hand.  “The shot didn’t kill me –”

“Nevertheless,” Blue continued,  “after what you’ve been through, I think you should –”

“Enough,” White called sternly.  “Captain Blue, I understand your concern. But considering the situation, I need all available men on duty. Captain Scarlet, if you REALLY feel better…”

“I am, sir.”

“Good.  Then I officially put you back on duty.” Scarlet addressed him a grateful nod.  “Although if I had known you were up and about, I would have asked you to come along to the Control Room, and not come down here myself,” White grumbled.  If not for what he had just experienced, Scarlet would have probably smiled at the remark – along with Captains Ochre and Blue.  The Old Man was always trying to show himself so strict and tough; they knew him better than that.  He was always concerned about the welfare of his officers.   “Since we’re all here, I suggest we don’t waste any more time and get down to the business at hand,” the colonel continued with a more business-like tone.  “Captain Scarlet, if you would please give me a quick report of what happened to you during the last few hours…”

Scarlet started immediately.  White, of course, had been informed about this earlier by Ochre, but he always preferred to hear directly from the horse’s mouth. Succinctly, Scarlet gave an account of what had happened to him.  White listened silently, with no interruption.  As always, Scarlet’s report was clear and concise.  When the young officer finished, silence followed, during which White was thoughtful for a moment.  He finally cleared his throat.

 “I’m glad you’re all right, Captain. That was an horrendous experience if ever I heard one.  And I would understand if you don’t feel at your peak at the moment to resume your duties.”

“I’m all right, sir, believe me.  I want to be a part of this.”  Scarlet raised a brow, meaningfully. “The Mysterons tried to put me out of commission.  I think I have a score to settle with them.”

White felt the edge in his younger compatriot’s voice but said nothing about it.  “I expect Captain Blue told you everything about what happened during your - disappearance?”

“He did, sir.”

“Good.  As you know, gentlemen, following the latest Mysteron attack, heavy damage was done to the Maximum Security Building, notably to the Presidential Suite, the escape tunnel, lifts, electronic devices, and so on.  But those are only material damage that can be repaired quite easily.  The important thing is that the MSB has served the purpose for which it was built, and Commander Stewart is alive and well.  And temporarily out of danger.”

“Temporarily, yes,” Ochre agreed.  “Because the Mysterons will surely attempt another attack before the swearing-in ceremony.”

White nodded.  “Some of the bodies found in the tunnel were formally identified as members of the Donaghue gang.  It serves to confirm how the Mysterons had planned to carry out this threat,” he noted gloomily.  “They intended to use the knowledge of the one man who knew all about the security devices of the Maximum Security Building – and who had been responsible for the updates of those very devices.”

“And who, at the same time, knows the most about Ian Stewart,” Blue observed.   “Wasn’t he the police detective who tried to catch Patrick Donaghue when he was head of the Syndicate?”

“You’ve done your homework, Captain Blue,” White approved.  “Indeed he was.  So the duplicate of Donaghue took back control of his old gang – and of some other gangs now affiliated to it – by killing the then head of that Syndicate, Ben Fisher.  It seems he now has powerful resources – finances, manpower, and armaments – to carry out his masters’ attack.  He has already proved he can use this to very dangerous effect.”  He paused for a moment. “As long as Patrick Donaghue’s doppelganger is alive, and as long as the swearing-in ceremony has not taken place, Ian Stewart is in danger,” White remarked.  “Although, he might think he is safe now.” He shook his head.  His officers could almost hear him think what a ‘bloody thick-headed nuisance’ Stewart might be.  “Commander Stewart still needs Spectrum’s protection, until the swearing-in ceremony.  He insisted on having his own men participate in providing his security, since they would already be providing security to the WGPC Building in New York.”

“Spectrum and WGPC’s best working together?” Ochre said, raising a brow.

“Stewart would not have it any other way, for Spectrum’s presence to be accepted.  Although a Mysteron threat is Spectrum’s prerogative, and by that fact, puts Stewart under our protection, the WGPC Building IS the responsibility of the World Government Police.  I had no other choice but to agree.  On the sole condition that Spectrum would be in charge of things.”

“I hope Stewart understood that,” Ochre muttered almost inaudibly. 

Incredibly, Colonel White, who was standing at the other side of the room, heard him very well.  He looked directly at him, folding his arms on his chest.  “Yes, Captain Ochre, I made that very clear to our friend Commander Stewart.  He will follow Spectrum’s directives to the letter.  I imagine he has been sufficiently impressed by Captain Grey and Lieutenant Green’s actions during that last attempt that very nearly succeeded.”

“And rightly so,” Blue acknowledged.  “Without them, he wouldn’t even be alive.”

“At the moment,” White continued, “Captain Grey and Lieutenant Tan are assigned to Commander Stewart’s protection.  Lieutenant Green is back on Cloudbase and has returned to his communication console.  His presence is no longer required on ground operations, since you’ll all be assigned to this mission.” 

“He did a wonderful job down there, from what I heard,” Scarlet remarked.

“Indeed he did,” White approved with a nod.  “That young man will never cease to surprise me.” He turned to Scarlet, narrowing his eyes at him suspiciously.  “When I found you in the ward, Captain Scarlet, I hope you were not about to tell Captain Magenta about that Mysteron reconstruct of his who’s wandering around New York?”

Scarlet gave a sigh.  “I will admit, sir… I don’t know exactly if I was going to tell him.  But I figured that if someone would know that doppelganger, and what he might be up to now, it would be Captain Magenta.  After all, they’re the same man…”

“No, they’re not,” Ochre protested in a low tone.  

Scarlet turned to him, a bit surprised by his outburst.  “Whether you like it or not, Captain Ochre, you have to admit that the Mysterons chose their agent perfectly.  Patrick Donaghue was the best candidate they could use for the mission of killing Commander Stewart.  He knew him when he was head of a crime syndicate…  He had clashed with him.”

“In order for his business to survive, he had to know about the man trying to trap him,” Blue said in turn.

Ochre pondered these words for a moment. “Yeah,” he admitted, “he certainly knows the guy…but they are not the same man.”

“We have to find that reconstruct,” Scarlet insisted. 

White raised an inquiring brow.  “I supposed you’re volunteering for that particular mission, Captain?” he observed quietly.  “If I remember correctly, the last time you volunteered to go after a member of his gang, you very nearly didn’t come back alive…  If I were you, I’d pray that Special Agent Conners never finds out about all that misadventure – after what you told him before your departure.”  Scarlet almost reddened under the calm remonstrance. White scrutinised him closely. “Tell me – would it be because you have a ‘score to settle’ with him?”

“Sir, you know me better than that,” Scarlet replied, looking almost hurt by his superior’s assumption.  “You said it yourself:  as long as the reconstruct of Patrick Donaghue is alive, Ian Stewart is in grave danger.  If we find the reconstruct before he launches his attack…”

“So you thought that information from Captain Magenta could help us locate his doppelganger?”

“Sir – I know, it’s probably a bad idea, but…”

“I volunteer.”

While they were talking, the door in front of which Scarlet was standing had slowly opened, and a voice – faint with an obvious crack in it – had made itself heard.  Everyone in the room shuddered upon recognising it, and Scarlet turned around, his heart nearly missing a beat.  Captain Magenta, in his pyjamas, was standing awkwardly in the doorway, holding himself upright against the frame.  His face was ashen, and the expression on it so lost and devastated – like a man in total shock. 

“Captain Magenta,” Colonel White then said, his voice sterner than he really intended it to sound, “how long have you been standing behind this door?”

Magenta made an effort to stand upright. “Long enough,” he answered in a low tone, trying to muster as much assurance in his voice as he could. 

“You heard everything?” Ochre asked with dismay.

“I heard enough.”  Magenta gave a meaningful stare at Scarlet, who was looking at him in total silence, standing like a statue. “Paul, I’m so sorry…”

“It wasn’t your fault, Pat,” Scarlet answered charitably.  “It wasn’t you…” 

Magenta measured his colleague’s look; Scarlet didn’t look away, and yet, Magenta sensed his awkwardness toward him, despite what he had just said.  How could I really blame him? the Irish officer thought bleakly.  After what happened to him?  He looked away, and simply nodded, very slowly.  “I hope that answer will be enough to make me feel less responsible.”  Magenta stepped inside the room, and Scarlet made way for him, permitting him to go directly to Colonel White.  “Colonel, I want to participate in this operation.”

“Captain, you’re hardly able to stand,” White responded.  He had noted how Magenta was now supporting himself on Fawn’s desk.  Noticing the direction of his commander’s stare, Magenta straightened up.

“I’ll be all right, sir.  Please.  I have to be a part of this mission.  There’s… there’s an malevolent copy of me down there…  out to kill people…”  Magenta quivered and felt his legs losing their strength.  He needed to sit down, a thing he wouldn’t normally do in front of his commander, unless the latter invited him to.  Behind him, Blue was pushing a chair forward, and he felt Ochre’s and Scarlet’s hands reaching to help him down.  He nearly shoved them away, wanting to prove that he was able to manage by himself,  but accepted the chair, on which he sat heavily.  His face was even paler than earlier, reflecting the inner torment he was feeling.  He was still trying to come to terms with the fact that there was now a Mysteron agent in his image, which had probably been created during that brush with death he had had recently. 

“I have to help stop him,” he muttered, looking right at White’s apparently stern face.  “He’s already done too much damage… too many victims…  in my name…”  He looked up at Scarlet, who was looking down at him, with a face almost as set as White.  “You know what I’m going through, Scarlet, right?  You know I have to…” He stared briefly at the colonel. “…I have to prove myself.”

He looked back at Scarlet.  The latter seemed to lose his stiffness, and a light of empathy appeared in his blue eyes. He visibly relaxed, and gave a brief nod, looking away as he did.

White slowly shook his head.  His expression softened upon hearing his officer’s plea.  How could he accept it, without endangering him, in his present state of health – physically and psychologically? 

And yet, how could he refuse him? 

“You don’t have to prove anything, Captain Magenta,” he replied to the Irish captain’s latest remark. He gave a deep sigh.  “All right,” he said, watching as Magenta’s face lit up with hope and gratitude.  “You’ll be part of this mission.”

“But Colonel…” Ochre started to protest.

“BUT,” White continued, raising his hand to still his officer’s objections, “you’ll be in a restricted role – OUT of the danger zone, OUT of Commander Stewart’s way so he will NOT see you at any time,  and you will abstain from any other involvement in the mission than the post you’ll be assigned to.”  He looked squarely at a silent Magenta.  “That means NO heroism of any kind, Captain.”

“Sir,” Magenta answered with a beaming – although still tired – smile, “All I’m asking is to participate – in any way I can be useful.  I’ll do whatever I’m told.”

“Good,” White said with an approving nod.  “That’s settled then.  So perhaps we can now get down to serious business, and settle on a plan of operation.  Here’s how we’ll proceed…”


* * *


Captain Ochre made his way along the hospital corridor.  It wasn’t difficult to work out which of the many rooms housed Matt Riordan; the two Spectrum guards standing outside one of the doors made it very plain.  As he approached, the two men stood to attention.

“At ease.” Ochre addressed them, then frowned as there was almost no change in their stance or bearing. “Seriously, guys, at ease. I want to talk to you.”

It was the first time either of the two men had met a Cloudbase officer and the pair were determined to make a good impression; the revelation that the officer in question seemed to be a regular guy almost took them by surprise.  The pair made a visible attempt to relax and Ochre almost smiled at their efforts.

“How’s the patient?”

“No trouble, sir, I don’t think he’s well enough to move yet.”

“No, I dare say you’re right, but I’m more concerned about people trying to get in than out. Remember, no one is to enter this room without authorisation.  You have the list of authorised personnel?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good,” Ochre nodded, reaching for the door handle. “I’m going to question him.”

“Captain,” one of the guards cut in, blocking his path.

“Yes, Sergeant?”

“Can I see your identification, please?” he asked almost apologetically.

Ochre smiled and nodded again as he drew out his Spectrum pass. “Good, very good.”

Satisfied with his credentials, the guards stepped aside and allowed Ochre into the small single ward.

Even having seen the extent of Matt Riordan’s injuries, Ochre was not prepared for the sight before him.  Riordan lay on the bed, his upper body slightly propped up by two or three pillows. A dual drip, delivering blood and a saline solution, was feeding into his left arm.  A thin tube with a double opening supplying oxygen lay beneath Riordan’s nostrils.  A clip secured onto the middle finger of his left hand measured his heart rate and a number of other attached wires led to machines and digital displays that Ochre couldn’t hope to understand.

As he stepped closer, Riordan opened his eyes, blinking a few times as he forced himself to wake.  Ochre noticed a flicker of recognition in Riordan’s tired eyes and a barely audible groan.

“Gotta hand it to you, Mr Riordan, you’ve got more lives than a cat.”

“Alive?” he grumbled. “Are you sure about that?”

“The doctor assures me that you’ll make a full recovery,” Ochre replied brightly.

“If that’s the same doctor who confidently told me that inserting these drips wouldn’t hurt a bit, then he’s a liar!”

Ochre smiled. Yes, Riordan was going to be all right.

“I need some information, Mr Riordan.”

Riordan sighed. “I know, but I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I’m sorry, Mr Riordan, I know how you must feel, but we don’t have that luxury.”

“You know how I feel?  Do you really?  I find out that one of my friends is dead and has somehow been replaced by someone, no, something that looks and sounds just like him.  Same face, same bearing, same memories, everything. Except, no, this guy’s a homicidal maniac! And you know how that feels, do you?”

Ochre took a deep breath. Yes, he knew exactly how that felt.  A couple of years ago, it had been he who had found Scarlet’s original body and he who had found it most difficult to come to terms with that, and accept that the Captain Scarlet who had survived the fall from the Car-Vu was, in fact, the man he knew.

“We’ve been dealing with the Mysterons for a long time, Mr Riordan. I’ve seen a lot.”

There was something about Ochre’s tone, at once empathising and yet filled with sadness.  Riordan felt a surge of guilt as he remembered that here stood the man who Pat Donaghue himself had once described as his best friend.  He knew exactly how Riordan was feeling and had very probably lost many more friends to the Mysterons.

“What can I tell you?” he asked in a subdued tone.

“Donaghue, you know, is a Mysteron duplicate?”

“Yes, he told me as much,” Riordan replied quietly. “Hardest thing I ever had to hear. Scared me half to death.”

Ochre nodded knowingly. “He killed Fisher too?”

“Yeah, and some others. Oh!” Riordan suddenly broke off with a look of concern on his face. “I’m sorry, Captain, your friend, Captain Scarlet. I forgot,” he added awkwardly.

Ochre said nothing, merely staring in reply. Riordan stared back, almost squirming uncomfortably under his gaze.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.  Did you find him? Was he there?  In –”  He paused again as he shivered at the thought  “– in the water?”

“You sounded sure he would be there when we found you.”

“Well, I didn’t see him dropped.  I just assumed…  I mean – I didn’t even see him killed.”

“Did Donaghue tell you he’d killed him?”

“Yes. Well, no, not exactly.  Just that he was going to deal with him, but the way he dealt with everything and everyone was to kill.” Riordan looked even more miserable.

“Well, Mr Riordan,” Ochre smiled, “I’ve got what will hopefully be a pleasant surprise for you.”

Riordan raised an eyebrow and watched the Spectrum captain open the door and beckon to someone.  As he turned back into the room, he was followed, to Riordan’s surprise, by another Spectrum captain he recognised very well.

“But, I was so sure..” Riordan spluttered. “Then he didn’t kill you?” he frowned almost immediately as he realised it was such a ridiculous question. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Captain.  I realise it was mostly my fault that you got caught and were almost killed.  I –”

“Mr Riordan,” began Scarlet in a business-like, almost curt tone, “what can you tell us of Donaghue’s plans?”

“Not much,” Riordan admitted. “He didn’t tell me, didn’t trust me. I don’t think it took him long to realise that I knew something was wrong with him, but I’d never have guessed what in a million years.”

“You can’t tell us anything?”

Ochre glanced briefly at Scarlet.  Yes, it was true that Scarlet frequently cut through niceties, but today he seemed almost abrupt, unkind even.  It simply wasn’t like him.

“Well –” Riordan paused for a deep breath, grimacing at the effort. “Can I have some water, please?”

Scarlet merely stood awaiting the reply, leaving Ochre to round the bed and pour out a glass.

“Here, Mr Riordan, sip it slow,” suggested Ochre as he handed him the glass.

“Matt, please,” he replied as he took the glass gratefully. “I guess I’ll hear ‘Riordan’ quite enough when I go to prison.”

“Mr Riordan?” Scarlet continued. “Can you tell us anything?”

Riordan turned his eyes back to Scarlet; they were once again half-closed and his face had drained of what little colour it had previously shown.

“Something to do with the WGPC building.  He wanted a schematic, guard rosters, personnel, all kinds of detailed stuff.”

“Makes sense,” agreed Ochre. “Since the swearing-in ceremony for Stewart will be taking place there.  Anything else, Matt?”

“Not really.  I mean, I can give you names, office addresses, that sort of thing. Not sure if it’ll help though.”

“Give us what you can, Matt,” Ochre replied with a smile, “then we’ll leave you to get some rest.”

Riordan duly furnished Ochre with as much detail as he could on remaining Syndicate members and their offices.  As Ochre jotted the information down, he noticed Scarlet’s expression growing ever more sullen and dark.  Thanking Riordan for his efforts, despite his pain and discomfort, the two Spectrum officers left the room and headed down the corridor to the small filing office they had commandeered.

“What’s up?” Ochre asked as soon as the door was closed.

“Nothing’s up,” replied Scarlet sourly.

Ochre caught him by the arm and turned Scarlet to face him. “Yes there is. Now, I don’t know what it is and maybe you don’t want to discuss it with me, but...”

“You know Pat well, don’t you?” Scarlet butted in.

“Yeah, for my sins.”

“What was he like in the Syndicate?”

“Well, I never really crossed swords with him. He was in New York and I was in Chicago.  I mean, I knew who he was and all, but...” Ochre cut himself off in mid-sentence and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Why?”

“Did he kill?  I mean, he never talks about his Syndicate days much...”

“No, he doesn’t.” Ochre’s tone became harsh. “Probably because he’s keen to put it all behind him.”

“But did he ever kill?” Scarlet persisted.

“No, he didn’t,” Ochre replied sharply.

“You’re telling me that it was just that easy for an exact duplicate to change into being a ruthless mob boss, capable of killing any and all rivals and anyone else standing in his path?”

“Hey!” Ochre bristled. “Let me take you back a few years. You’re telling me that it’s in your nature for you to kidnap and threaten to kill the World President?”

“I was a soldier, Ochre,” Scarlet replied sourly. “Like it or not, I’m a trained killer. The difference is that I killed out of duty.”

“So you think because you’d killed before that, Pat must have too? Is that it?”

“Yeah, that’s exactly it. How else would his duplicate find it so easy to do?”

“Now are you going to tell me that every person who’s ever been Mysteronised and then killed people on behalf of the Mysterons must all have been killers before, too?  Because if you are,  then the WGPC can’t be doing all that great a job, can they?  All those uncaught murderers loose on the streets…”

“Well I don’t know, it just...”

“And me?  What does that say about me, eh?  My best friend’s a murderer? No, Scarlet, no, you’re wrong.”

“He killed me, Ochre!” Scarlet snapped suddenly. “He even had the gall to apologise for having to do it, because he considered me as a friend, and…”

“That wasn’t Pat!” Ochre cut in sharply. “I don’t believe I’m hearing this! And from youYou, of all people, are doubting Pat, based on the actions of a Mysteron double?  You?  And you expect me to understand?”

“Well you gave me a hard enough time when it was me in the same position, I thought you’d understand!”

Ochre let out a long sigh, dropping his shoulders.

“And I was wrong and stupid!  Paul, Pat was no killer.  Sure, he’s learned to now, but only when it’s absolutely necessary and...”

“What?” Scarlet prompted, following Ochre’s abrupt stop.

Ochre’s brow furrowed deeply. “You don’t see what he’s like later on.  It eats him up, Paul.” He shook his head sadly. “Pat’s no cold-blooded killer. He wasn’t one before;  he isn’t one now. He will never find it easy to kill someone.  Oh sure – he’ll do it if he has no choice.  If it’s his duty to do so. Because he knows his duty.  But he’ll never like it. Never.”

Scarlet pondered that revelation silently for a moment.  He finally  lowered his gaze, feeling ashamed of his doubts.

“I’m sorry,” he sighed.

Ochre shrugged. “I know you’re not blaming Pat –  not Pat himself anyway. But the shock of seeing what someone could be capable of is quite nasty.  Doesn’t mean they are like that, though.  I know that about you and you know it about Pat.”

Scarlet nodded as he exhaled deeply.  “You’re right.  Of course, you’re right.”

Both men’s eyes met in a gaze of mutual understanding just as the door opened, revealing the tall striking figure of Captain Blue.

“Hi,” Blue greeted them cheerily.  “Did you get anything?”

“Not much,” Scarlet replied, with a dissatisfied shrug. “A few leads. How about you?”

“Zip. Those guys who tried to kill Riordan have closed up tighter than a clam. They won’t even give their names. We running an ID scan to find out who they are.”

“Don’t blame them,” Ochre commented.  “I’ll bet they think Donaghue has a very long reach. They’re afraid of what he might do if they talk.”

“Okay,” Blue began, “what do you have?”

“Some names and addresses.  We’ve been waiting for you so we can check them out,” Scarlet replied. “One of those addresses seems to be the gang’s main offices.  We may start there.”

“Right,” Blue nodded.

“And I’ll get back to the WGPC building,” Ochre said. “We know something’s going to happen there, just not what it is yet.”

“Just don’t let Commander Stewart see you, unless it really can’t be helped,” added Scarlet.

“I’ll blend with the crowd,” Ochre grinned, “No-one will even know I’m there.”

“Yeah,” Scarlet chuckled, “that’s what I like about these uniforms - so inconspicuous!”



* * *


Kirby pushed the last wad of documents into the shredder and pressed the button; ribbons of paper fell onto the basket underneath the machine, which was already thoroughly full, and fell down to the floor on all sides.  They had disposed of the last piece of evidence the police might use against them, if they ever raided the place.  Minutes earlier, Ox had destroyed the computer in Donaghue’s office, after Kirby had erased the hard drive.  Not that it would matter that much, Kirby reflected, looking over his shoulder, and watching as Ox was spreading gasoline all over the place.  There won’t be that much left of the place in a little while.

Ox had thrown the now empty jerry can into a corner of the room.  It was, as far as Kirby had been able to notice, the fourth can he had emptied that way.  Kirby sniffed with disgust.  The building was now impregnated with a strong, distasteful odour that was literally churning his stomach.

“Is it really necessary to go that far?” Kirby asked, as Ox came to stand in front of him. 

The big man shrugged his huge shoulders.  “Boss’s orders,” he replied matter-of-factly.  “Better not take any chances, in case the police or Spectrum come sneaking in here.”

“We wouldn’t be in this mess if we had not attracted Spectrum’s attention to begin with…”  Kirby stopped before adding another sentence.  He just had noticed the odd way Ox was glaring at him. Damn.  Too late to back off now… “Admit it, Ox, you’re thinking the same as me.  If we had not attacked that Security Building…”

“The boss had his reasons, Mr Kirby,” Ox replied icily.

“As he had his reasons to leave the others behind like he did?” Kirby said.  “Ox, you didn’t like it any better than I did.”

“Couldn’t be helped,” Ox remarked, offering his boss’s own answer to the incident.

“You really think that?” Kirby insisted.  “Donaghue’s so determined to get to Stewart – it’s like an obsession of his.  Ox, I’m afraid of what lengths he’ll go to to kill the man.”

“What are you saying, Mr Kirby?” Ox asked, with a suspicious glitter in his eyes.

“Ox… After the others… we might be next to be sacrificed to the boss’s obsession.”

The glitter in Ox’s eyes became hotter, and Kirby suddenly grew concerned that he had said too much; Ox might not be a very bright man, but he was excessively loyal to his boss.  Especially when this boss was Patrick Donaghue.  He probably didn’t like hearing someone badmouthing him.  Ox, however, didn’t say anything, and turned around, reaching for another jerry can behind him.

“We’d better get moving and finish this job,” he mumbled.

Kirby shivered. “Ox, didn’t you hear a word I said?”

“I heard!” Ox snapped, turning around sharply.  “Now, please, Mr Kirby:  don’t say another bad word against Mr Donaghue.  Or I will be forced to tell him about it.  Please, I don’t want to do that.”

“I know he sent you with me so you could keep an eye on me,” Kirby moved on.  “He thinks I might use the first opportunity to get out, right?”

“Will you?” Ox asked coldly.

Kirby shrugged.  “Donaghue knows he can rely on you. He knows your loyalty to him.  And it’s all to your honour, Ox.   But, Ox… we can’t rely on him.  It’s not in our interest to stay with this madman…”

“Mr Kirby…”

“He’ll be the death of us all,” Kirby continued, not letting the bigger man continue.  “Ox, deep down, you know it’s true.”  He took Ox by his huge shoulders, looking up into his wary eyes.  “We have to get out while we still can…”

“I can’t abandon the boss like that…” muttered Ox, shaking his head obstinately.

“You would die for a man like that?  Who has little interest in the lives of his own men?  You saw what he did to the others.  Damn it, he condemned them to death by pressing that remote control button.  He killed them!”

Kirby could see that Ox’s confidence was wavering  – yet, he was still reluctant to admit the truth of what was being told to him.  Kirby wanted desperately to get out of the fire before it was too late – but he had little hope of escaping Ox’s vigilance.  If he couldn’t talk him into joining him, he feared that he would have to shoot him.  But using a gun against Ox, it would mean killing him at the first shot.  He had little doubt that the big man would be able to strangle him with his bare hands if he was only wounded.

Looking at Ox, in the hope that he would not have to take that risk, Kirby heard a faint sound, coming from the stairwell beyond the door.  Ox heard it too, and both men turned their heads in the same direction.  Someone was coming – trying to sneak up on them, but betrayed by the creaking of the wooden steps.  Kirby paled, while Ox’s face became a mask of determination.  Swiftly, the giant moved toward the door.


Upon their arrival in front of the building, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue had seen the lone car parked in the abandoned parking lot. A gleaming, brand new car, of the latest model, that seemed a little out of place, considering the surroundings.  Checking out the number on the license plate gave them the identity of its owner, and they knew they might have hit the jackpot:  according to the records, Josh Kirby was one of the top members of the Ben Fisher’s gang.  Had been, was a more accurate term, actually – considering that his old boss had been murdered – and that he more than probably was now taking his orders from Fisher’s murderer:  Patrick Donaghue’s Mysteron duplicate, now turned mob boss for the purpose of his mission.

Whoever might be in the building, however, Blue and Scarlet intended to catch them.  They needed a lead on Donaghue’s whereabouts, and the possibility of finding a member of the gang in this place was a chance they were not willing to let slip by.  They had entered, as quietly as possible, hoping to surprise their quarry.  The first floor provided few clues that someone was there – except for the fact that the whole place was stinking with a strong gasoline odour. 

They heard rushing sounds coming from the second floor and moved to climb the stairs.  Scarlet took the lead, with Blue close behind.  Both had their guns drawn and were careful not to make any sound.  It wasn’t easy – the wooden stairs creaked under their boots as they climbed.  They just hoped it would go unnoticed.  They couldn’t hear any other sounds coming from the second floor, though; maybe they would surprise whoever might be up there.

When Scarlet arrived at the top of the stairs, he found himself standing in a narrow corridor.  In front of him was an open door, beyond which he could see an apparently empty room. He stepped forward and stopped in the doorway.  The smell of gasoline was even stronger here, and that made him prick his nose; empty jerry cans were lying in a corner, not far from him.  One of them was still pouring out its contents onto the floor; it was as if it had been hurriedly thrown there…

As he suddenly became aware that there was someone there in this room, near to him, Scarlet saw a huge shadow coming from the right side of the door; big hands grabbed him by the front of his uniform and pulled him inside, with such force that his feet momentarily  left the floor; he smacked face first into the wall facing him, almost knocking himself down in the process.   

Seeing his colleague manhandled that way, Blue jumped forward; his forehead collided with the door, which had been slammed closed, and he was thrown back toward the stairs.  His gun had escaped from his hand and clattered down the steps toward the first floor;  if he had not caught hold of the railing at the last possible moment, he would have followed the same trajectory.  Shaking himself, he turned his attention back to the door, behind which he could hear the sound of a furious fight.

Scarlet didn’t have the time to recuperate after his encounter with the wall before a fist hit him violently in the  back, between the ribs.  Twice.  That hurt, and knocked all the breath out of him. He had lost hold of his gun by the third blow;  it was as if huge hammers were slamming into him.  Somehow, right at this moment, he guessed who was pounding into him like that. 

When a big hand took him by his collar and turned him around to push his back violently against the wall, he saw he had been right; and he saw the surprise and confusion in Robert Oxbury’s face as the giant, his right fist up, ready to strike, froze instantly upon seeing the face of his victim

You!” Ox gasped, apparently not believing his eyes.  “You should be dead!”

Scarlet offered a forced grin. “Surprise, Mr. Oxbury!” he said with a grunt, and pressed his foot against Ox’s belly to try to push him away.  Amazingly, it did the trick, and the giant’s hold on him broke.  Ox stepped back.

That was the moment Blue chose to enter the room, through the door, breaking it down with a loud crashing sound in the process, and stumbling into the middle of the room. Ox turned on his heel to face him; Blue rarely had to face a man who was taller than himself – if he was impressed by the man’s massiveness, he didn’t show it for so much as a second and attacked on sight, punching him in the jaw.  He was astounded to see that the only effect it had was to make the giant divert his eyes.  He looked with wide-opened eyes as Ox slowly turned an angry stare on him, spitting out blood as he did so.  A faint but distinct clinking sound was heard as something hit the floor.

“You BROKE one of me teeth…” Ox growled, glaring murderously at Blue, taking a threatening step forward. Blue didn’t wait for the giant to be on him and threw another punch; Ox literally caught the fist in his massive hand and Blue yelped, feeling as if his fingers were being crushed. 

Scarlet jumped onto Ox’s massive shoulders, holding onto his head and trying to force him to let go.  Grunting with frustration, Ox easily swatted Blue away, and backed against the wall, trying to squash Scarlet against it, as if he were an annoying fly.  Scarlet’s back took the blunt of the shock and he grunted at the pain.  It took Ox a second shove to finally force him to let go, and Scarlet fell against the wall, half-stunned.  Ox’s hand grabbed him again by his collar.  He peeled Scarlet off the wall and threw him, spinning, in the direction of Blue, who was coming back for a second round. The American captain was ready, and caught his colleague as he almost fell to the floor.

“You all right?” Blue asked hastily. 

“Never felt better!” Scarlet gasped. 

Blue hurriedly pulled him back to his feet as Ox was coming in, charging like the proverbial bull.  Both Spectrum agents were ready for him and hit him with the same punch – which had the effect of stopping him in his tracks. More blood spilled from his mouth, but that didn’t seem to bother him.  He shoved Scarlet aside like a rag doll and encircled both his huge hands around Blue’s throat.  The blond officer gasped, searching his breath, trying to break the bigger man’s grip.   His knees started to buckle. 

“You Spectrum officers are really a pain,” Ox growled between his teeth, looking down into the face of the gasping man. 

“Thanks for the idea…” wheezed Blue.  His booted foot went up and hit Ox where he thought it would really count; it did have the desired effect of making Ox loosen his grip.  Blue shoved his arms upward between Ox’s, forcing him to release him – and hit him with all his strength in the mouth again.  For the first time, the giant’s legs swayed.

He was finally brought down when Scarlet, coming back once again, now determined to finish it off, broke a wooden chair he had found lying in a corner directly onto the man’s skull.  Ox’s knees gave way and he fell heavily on the floor, moaning, at the feet of the two Spectrum officers, who were looking down, breathing hard.

“Not very refined,” Scarlet panted, looking at the piece of wood still in his hand.  He threw it away. “…But effective nevertheless.”

“Can you believe that guy?” Blue replied, shaking his right hand. He grimaced.  “I think I broke a finger or two…”

“Not to mention he nearly snapped your head off like the cap of a Coke bottle…”  Scarlet reflected.

“You weren’t doing any better against him, I will remind you!”

“Well, at least, teamwork got the job done…”

Scarlet carefully leaned over to pick up his gun from the floor; that’s when he noticed a shadow trying to slip throughout the still-open door.  Another man, that neither he nor Blue, all too busy with trying to bring Ox down, had seen up until this moment.  And who was now making a break for it.  Scarlet brought his gun up, training it on the man.  “Hey, you!  Not so fast!  You’re not going anywhere!”

Amazingly enough, that was the moment that Ox chose to straighten up from the floor, taking Scarlet and Blue totally by surprise, and pushing them away from him.  The gun spat a wild shot into the ceiling as Ox ran toward the exit, pushing aside Josh Kirby, who had stopped in his tracks upon hearing Scarlet’s warning.  Kirby  fell back, and let out a cry of pain, as the big man stepped over him and all but jumped down the stairs, making them creak noisily under his weight.  Blue and Scarlet were at the top of the stairs just as he reached the first floor, Scarlet getting ready to shoot to stop him.

“You might kill him,” Blue advised, stopping his colleague from pulling the trigger.  “We may need him alive.”

“You’re right,” Scarlet grumbled, putting the gun away and starting to run down the stairs.  “I’ll go after him.  Stay with the other one and see what he knows!”

“Be careful!” Blue called after him.  His colleague had already disappeared through the door, running after the fleeing giant.  Blue looked down at the man lying on the first upper steps of the staircase.  His right foot was at an odd angle, and he was moaning piteously, gritting his teeth against what seemed like an enormous amount of pain.

“Okay, mister, what’s your story?” Blue asked him harshly.

Kirby looked up at him, his face pale and contorted with pain.  “You don’t know how glad I am to see you,” he exhaled with a whimper.

“Are you, now?” muttered Blue with a frown.  “Now you’re going to tell me what you were doing with that monster-man – and where in Hell we can find Patrick Donaghue!” 


* * *


The Mysteron duplicate of Patrick Donaghue looked coldly out of the window, with his binoculars, in the direction of the WGPC building.  From where he was standing, he could see the front entrance very well, where police, officials, journalists, television crews and the merely curious had gathered in packs to attend Ian Stewart’s swearing-in ceremony as the new Supreme Commander of the World Government Police Corps.  There was a multitude of policemen on the ground, along with Spectrum agents,  working together now to provide security. Vehicles of both organisations were spread around, at strategic points – surveillance vans and patrol cars, and even a SPV and two MSVs which had transported Stewart and the World Court judge who would preside over the swearing-in.

Donaghue scoffed loudly.  A large stage, with a lectern, had been put up in front of the building’s entrance, with microphones and speakers.   The news had it that the ceremony would be performed outside.  It was so much like Stewart to decide to do that – an obvious, arrogant way of telling the ‘terrorists’ who had recently threatened his life that he would not be intimidated.  Donaghue imagined that Colonel White wasn’t too happy with this new development.  Probably, the Spectrum commander had debated the point, and protested loudly.  And of course, considering what Donaghue was seeing now, he had lost the argument.

It didn’t matter that much.  Soon, Stewart would be dead.  And all those preparations outside would have been for nothing. 

Donaghue had just checked on his men’s positions.  There were three snipers on the roof, with long-distance rifles, ready to shoot whenever they received the word from their boss.  Other men, armed with handguns,  were standing surveillance at various windows.  A driver was waiting at the wheel of his van, in the sub-basement garage, ready to make a quick getaway with whoever remained of his companions, if it became necessary. 

Everything was ready. 

What a shame… Donaghue mused, almost feeling sorry that they were all making all that effort for nothing.

He checked the ammunition in the Spectrum-issue colour-coded gun he took from the table behind him.  Perfect.  The magazine is full.  He put it back on the table, then picked up the red-coloured tunic laid next to it.  Scarlet’s tunic, that he had kept since the moment he had captured the indestructible agent.  He slipped into it, over the dark Spectrum uniform he was already wearing.  Scarlet was taller, perhaps a little leaner than himself, but the tunic was of the same size as Magenta’s, so it fitted perfectly.  Donaghue pulled the zipper up and fastened the belt.  Then he checked on the hidden knife in his right sleeve; one flick of the wrist was enough to operate the mechanism allowing the knife to slip into his hand, ready to be used if he needed it.  He would rather put a bullet into Stewart’s brain, he reflected, but if all else failed, he would be more than satisfied to slit his throat instead. 

He put the knife back into place. His hand then reached for the phone. And he quickly tapped in a number he knew by heart.

Spectrum New York HQ.  How can we help you?”

“I have information about the whereabouts of Patrick Donaghue’s gang,” Donaghue then said, in a very calm voice.  He looked out through the window, his features becoming cold.  “You’ll find them in the 2020 Building, just in front of the WGPC Building.  Their snipers have a grand view of the stage on which Commander Stewart’s ceremony will take place…”

There was a surprised – but short – pause. “Can I ask your name, sir?”

“I’m just a concerned citizen doing his duty.  JUST be sure Spectrum arrests those scum.”  With that, Donaghue hung up swiftly.  No sense permitting Spectrum to trace the call just yet.  They didn’t need to know it was coming from the same building he just had mentioned.  A quick survey of the building by the Angels and or helicopters would prove to them that he had told the truth.

Quietly, he took the brilliant scarlet cap from the table, and tore away the mic from the visor, not wanting anyone to try to contact Scarlet – and find him out instead.  He put the cap on, before looking himself in the mirror.  His hair was longer than Scarlet’s, and thicker…  But the illusion, at a distance, would work perfectly.  That would be all he would need to enter the WGPC Building without attracting too much attention – while the rest of the Donaghue gang would unwittingly cause a diversion for Spectrum.

He picked up the gun again and put it into the holster.  “Right.  Now down to serious business.”

He left the room, took the stairs down,  and directed his steps to the unguarded rear entrance.  Nobody from inside the building noticed when he came out and quietly walked away, not looking behind, and taking a detour in order to enter the WGPC building.

He failed to see the tall, bulky man who had arrived seconds earlier, stopping his car on the nearby parking lot, and who was looking in his direction with an odd look of confusion splattered on his face.  Robert Oxbury had recognised his boss, wearing the uniform of one of the Spectrum officers he had just fought a few moments earlier, and apparently abandoning the surveillance building, and the rest of the gang.  He slowly got out of his car, not taking his eyes off Donaghue’s red-clad silhouette as he was  walking away.

Ox didn’t know what it could mean.  He had no idea of what might be going on.  But he had every intention of finding out. 

He closed the door to his car and started to follow his boss at a distance.


* * *


To Ochre, it was almost unnaturally peaceful around the WGPC building.  On the few visits he had made, the place had been a hive of activity with lots of coming and going of, amongst others, police, prisoners and their legal representatives.  Today, the place was still and silent.  The building only contained those people authorised to be there on the protection roster for Commander Stewart and the World Court Judge who would swear him in to his post as Supreme Commander of the World Government Police Corps.  Despite reports to the contrary, Ochre sensed that something was wrong and it frustrated him that he didn’t know what, exactly.

“Calm down or leave me alone!” grumbled Magenta.  “I can’t bear your pacing any longer!”

Inside the large Spectrum surveillance van, Magenta and Ochre were manning an impressive array of monitoring equipment.  Over the previous thirty minutes, Ochre had paid less and less attention to the screens, which had revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and become firmly convinced of his assertion that something was wrong.  As large as the van was, the sheer volume of equipment held within dictated that Ochre had to turn every three or four paces and the sheer monotony of it was driving Magenta to distraction, away from his surveillance instruments, and it irritated him.

“Something’s wrong,” Ochre explained.

“I know,” Magenta answered curtly.

“You do?”

“Yes, you’re losing your grip on reality!  Now sit down!  You’re making me dizzy.”

Ochre frowned.  “Something’s wrong!” he repeated.

What’s wrong, Rick?” Magenta asked tiredly.

“I don’t know,” Ochre sighed. “Something.”

Magenta smiled sympathetically; it was rare for Ochre’s police instincts to fail him. “I’ll do a sweep with the cameras.”

Ochre watched over Magenta’s shoulder as the van’s first camera performed a full sweep of the area but discovered nothing untoward.  Magenta shook his head as he looked up.

“Can’t shake it, Pat,” Ochre shrugged. “I’m certain that…”  He was suddenly interrupted by an incoming communication, and lowered his cap mic. “Captain Ochre.”

“Captain, this is Sergeant Holroyd, Spectrum Headquarters New York.”

“Yes, Sergeant, what is it?”

“We’ve had an anonymous tip-off, sir.  Members of the Donaghue gang on the roof of the 2020 building with sniper rifles.”

“Get one of the Angels to overfly the building,” Ochre replied urgently.

“Melody Angel has already confirmed unusual activity on the roof of the building, Captain.”

“Good work, Sergeant.  Out.”

“What is it?” asked Magenta, intrigued.

“I’ve located my nagging doubt,” Ochre replied distractedly, before once again lowering his microphone. “Grey, get the commander inside, we have trouble.”

 A rather perplexed Magenta watched on the monitor, where he could see Grey hastily following those last instructions, while Ochre was making a further call to Captain Santini, the leader of one of Spectrum’s special commando teams.  Ochre explained the situation and plan of action, with Magenta listening intently, frowning deeply as his colleague referred to the men in the 2020 Building as ‘Donaghue’s Gang’.

“They’re not my men,” he grumbled, as he got to his feet.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ochre asked, ignoring Magenta’s complaint.

“Coming with you.”

“Oh no, you’re not! You’re in no fit state to go rushing around fighting. Remember what Colonel White ordered? You’ll stay right here, understand me?”

“Yes, mammy!” Magenta grumbled, sitting back.

“Just stay out of trouble. Not too much to ask, is it?” Ochre frowned as he opened the door and stepped down from the van to meet the commando team.  “Captain Santini?”


“Right, let’s go.”

Magenta stared miserably at the monitors and watched Ochre lead the commando team towards the building opposite.  If he were honest with himself, his friend was right.  He wasn’t physically capable of storming the building, but he hated it when Ochre was right.  He could be unbearable.  Magenta sighed as he continued to watch the monitors.  Everything was happening on the roof.  It was going to be a very dull watch.  Leaning back in the chair, Magenta was secretly  grateful that he was allowed to rest.  He was feeling rough, and finding it difficult enough just trying to remain seated upright; he had rather underestimated just how bad he felt.  Still, with any luck, the problem would be resolved shortly.  Ochre and his team would catch the gang unawares and hopefully that would be that.  Magenta allowed himself a half smile; he knew that sounded too easy. 

Glancing to his left as he caught a movement from the corner of his eye, Magenta brightened as he saw on another screen Captain Scarlet heading towards the WGPC building.  He flipped the communications channel switch, but  immediately switched it off again.  He had to keep Scarlet informed about the current situation, he knew that, but it would be best discussed face to face, of that he was certain. Well – for him, anyway. That was a good enough excuse. Anything other than remaining cooped up in this van!  Of course, if he said one word to the effect that he had left the van without authorisation, Scarlet would be down on him like a ton of bricks.   He knew that Scarlet would be furious with him for risking his health and potentially placing himself in danger, but, he told himself, there were very few options available to him.  Sure, he could contact one of the WGPC guys and ask for Scarlet to report to the van, but he was perfectly happy to pretend not to have thought about that option. Throwing down his headset onto the desk, Magenta headed for the doors at the back of the van.  He knew that he shouldn’t, but then, hadn’t his whole adult life been based on ‘things he shouldn’t’?  He was hardly straying from expectations.

Closing the doors to the van, Magenta stared in the direction that Scarlet had been walking.  Gone already.

“He’s quick on his feet,” Magenta complained.  “Or maybe it’s just that I’m not right now,” he corrected himself with a frown.

It wasn’t a problem.  There was only one place Scarlet could be headed – into the WGPC building itself.  At as brisk a pace as he could manage, Magenta set off after him.


* * *


For Ox, it had not been difficult to get ahead of his boss, Patrick Donaghue.  Despite his size and sheer bulk, Ox was surprisingly light on his feet, stealth playing quite a significant part of his job. 

He now stood in the shadows and watched with discontent as Donaghue, dressed in a Spectrum uniform, approached the building. Ox’s mind was in turmoil.  He had always believed that ‘Mr Donaghue’ would return to lead the Syndicate back to its former glory, despite Mr Riordan’s protestations to the contrary.  He knew, he’d felt it.  But as he stood, staring as the man in question approached, he wondered if he had been right.  Yes, it was him – of course it was him – but so much had changed, more than Ox truly wanted to accept.  For the first time since he had been entrusted with the role of enforcer within the mob, years ago, he found himself doubting his boss.  He had always been loyal, almost obsessively so.  No one would dare utter a word against Donaghue in his presence, even now when things were obviously so very bad.  Josh Kirby had earlier feared the possible repercussions of voicing his concerns. 

Now it was Ox’s turn.  As much as he hated to admit it, Mr Donaghue had let them down.  It was unthinkable and he felt betrayed, even hurt.  But he was determined to know why.

“Mr Donaghue,” he called as he stepped from the shadows.  His huge form stood not quite in Donaghue’s way.  It was intimidating enough in itself, but the giant couldn’t quite bring himself to threaten his boss.

Donaghue stopped in his tracks and frowned in obvious surprise.

“Ox, I didn’t expect to see you here,” he replied uncertainly.

Ox paused for a few seconds, realising that this would be no easy task.


“A lot of the men are dead, Mr Donaghue…” Ox left the sentence hanging. He felt awkward and uncomfortable.

“Yes, that’s unfortunate, but I never said it would be easy,” Donaghue replied callously.  “Have you destroyed  the evidence?”

“Yes. No. Not quite.” Ox shook his head.  “Mr Donaghue, you never killed before.  No one ever died. You never did nothing like this. How could you come back and tear the gang apart like this?”

“Ox, I have a job to do. Please go. We’ll discuss this later.”

“No, Mr Donaghue, you’ve gone too far,” Ox replied, barely believing that he was saying the words. “There’s been too much killing.  It has to stop!  Nothing is that important. You’re not like this…”

“Oh, but you’re wrong, Ox. Ironic really, don’t you think?  If not for you, I think the men would have bailed on me long ago.”

“Don’t do this, Mr Donaghue, please. Prove me wrong about you.”

Donaghue sighed.  “I’m sorry, Ox, truly I am, but you’re far from wrong.”

Ox’s brow furrowed, as he stared in confusion at the man standing before him.  Glancing down, he froze in stunned silence as he noticed the pistol in his boss’s hand. It was a total shock.  There was no way that he could comprehend his fate in the brief moments allowed to him.  Ox barely felt the bullets enter his chest; there was almost no sound, as the shots were muffled by the gun’s silencer.  Heat washed over him in waves as he clasped his hand over the gaping wound.  One last brief glance into Donaghue’s eyes revealed  that his boss had no remorse for his actions, not even a glimmer of compassion.  In too much pain to do little more than gasp, Ox slipped silently to the ground. Without even a backward glance, Donaghue walked on towards the WGPC building and his intended target.


* * *


The downed man was the first thing Magenta saw as he rounded the corner.  The blood was hard to miss, but what was harder was the fact that he recognised the man.  Even from that distance and angle, his features were clear.  Magenta’s heart leapt into his throat as he defied his own injuries to run to the man he had once called his friend.  In the distance, he saw Scarlet heading inside.  Magenta was confused.  Surely he’d seen the injured man?  He would never just ignore a man lying dead or dying, almost in his path.

“Ox?” Magenta’s eyes were wide with the horror of the sight before him, and were inexorably drawn to the gaping chest wound from which blood still oozed. “Ox!” he cried, shaking the man’s shoulder.

It was only the briefest of flutters at first, but Magenta saw immediately that Ox was still alive. Ox was badly injured, and Magenta had seen enough of those kinds of injuries to know they were fatal. The giant would be dead in a matter of minutes.  He cursed himself over and over for leaving his cap in the van.  Calling for help would have to wait until he was inside the building.

“Mis… Mr Donaghue?”

“Easy, Ox, I’ll get some help for you.  You’ll be okay.”

“The men, boss… why? Why did you leave them to die?”

“No-one else will die, Ox and especially not you, my friend.”

“Why… Why d’you shoot me, boss?”

 “I didn’t…”

Shock suddenly hit Magenta.  And realisation dawned on him.  That hadn’t been Scarlet he had seen earlier.  The peculiar behaviour was suddenly explained. He should have realised – the walk wasn’t Scarlet’s at all.  How blind could he be?  That was his walk.

The Mysteronised Donaghue.

A Mysteron was entering the WGPC building and Magenta knew his intentions.

“I’m sorry, Ox, I have to go. I have to put an end to all this. I’ll call for someone to help you, I…”

“I… I knew you wouldn’t… leave me to die.” Ox gave the faintest of smiles and then, grunting noisily, closed his eyes and stopped moving. 


Magenta didn’t receive any answer from his motionless friend.  His jaw tightened.  A low, disgusted and angry growl rolled into the Irish captain’s throat, as he got to his feet and looked with fiery eyes in the direction of the WGPC building.

 ‘I won’t have my name dragged through the mud,’  he thought with righteous fury. ‘No more killing.  You’ll be this Mysteron’s last victim, Ox.  I swear it!’




In a small glassed-in room  not far from there, where he had set up his operational office, Lieutenant Tan was checking on the latest reports from Spectrum security patrols on the premises, while Police Captain Anthony Brealey, seated on the other side of the desk, was doing the same with the reports handed to him by WGPC personnel.  Both men were growing more concerned as time passed, fully aware that the closer they were to the swearing-in ceremony, the closer they also were to the moment when Donaghue’s gang would attack.  Already, the earlier alert from Captain Ochre had served as a reminder that the time was now very near. From what they had last learned,  Spectrum was presently  leading an assault on a nearby building, where snipers and  members of the gang had been spotted earlier.  Since then, they had had no further news that the WGPC building was threatened.  Maybe, as far as they knew, the danger had been averted. 

Tan’s epaulettes flashed suddenly, and the lieutenant lowered his mic to answer the call. “Spectrum officer approaching  door number two, sir,” he heard the voice in his ear.

 He rose from his seat and walked to the door to open it and see who might be coming. From where he was standing, he could see the glass door, behind which two Spectrum men were standing guard, one of them holding a Mysteron gun.    He saw the tall figure clad in the very recognisable bright red uniform, coming their way with a quiet enough step, while apparently fiddling with the mic of his radiocap.  “That’s Captain Scarlet. He seems to have trouble with his cap mic. Let him pass, Tremaine. No need to check him out with the Mysteron detector.”


 “Another one of your colour-coded officers?” Brealey grunted from behind.  “Seems there’s an awful lot of those in your organisation, Lieutenant.”

 “That colour-coded officer is one of Spectrum’s best operatives, Captain Brealey,”  Tan informed the WGPC officer in a calm voice.  “He might have come to offer better back up for the operation.”

“Oh,” Brealey said with a quiet nod.  “Then if he has trouble with his communicator,  it might be better if we greet him properly, wouldn’t it? He might have interesting information to give us concerning what’s going on outside.”

Tan concurred and stepped out of the office, followed closely by Brealey, to walk down the corridor toward the glass door, his eyes set on the officer in the red uniform who had nearly arrived there.

He opened eyes wide with surprise when, upon reaching the guards, ‘Scarlet’ suddenly pulled out his gun and shot the first one at almost point-blank range.  Tan stopped in his tracks, as the second guard was shot too, before his very eyes.  By that time, he had seen the man’s face – and knew instantly it wasn’t Captain Scarlet, but the Mysteron double of Captain Magenta that everyone had been looking for.  He reached for his own gun, lowering his cap mic at the same instant. 

“Damn it!  It’s…”

He never had time to draw his gun or to call for help.  From behind him, Brealey suddenly gave a violent shove that sent him face first into the wall, knocking him off balance, and sending his cap flying from his head.  Then, his own gun in hand, the WGPC captain used the butt to hit the Spectrum lieutenant over the head with such violence that it drew blood.  Tan gave a loud moan and slid to the floor, where he lay  unconscious. 

Brealey quickly  took the key from his belt and ran over to the door, which he unlocked and  opened wide for Donaghue.  He helped him haul the two dead guards inside and hid them inside a closet, into which they also threw the still unconscious Tan.  Brealey locked the door and, puffing with tension,  turned to the Mysteron agent standing by his side.

“I can’t believe that went as well as you thought it would, Donaghue,” he mumbled.

“With your help, it did,” Donaghue replied.  “I had no doubt it would succeed.”

Brealey gave a deep frown, sighing as he recovered his normal breathing rate. “Using that Spectrum uniform to enter was a great idea.  They didn’t suspect you, thinking you were one of their own.”

Donaghue smiled thinly.  More importantly, they thought I was Scarlet.   And so they didn’t use the Mysteron detector on me… That gave him the advantage of being able to come close enough to strike without them being suspicious of any wrong-doing.

“Stewart is in Room 7A – seventh floor.  You can’t miss it.”

“Certainly not, since you’ll show me where it is.”

“Oh no, Donaghue,” Brealey replied, taking a step back.  “The deal was to help you get inside. Then it’s up to you.  I’m not going any further with you.   While you busy yourself with Stewart, I’ll get rid of that Spectrum officer before he denounces me as your accomplice.”

“Lieutenant Tan is of no consequence to you,” Donaghue replied coldly.  “I need you, Captain Brealey, and you will help me.  There’s no turning back for you now.”

“There’s nothing you can do to force me, Donaghue,” Brealey replied arrogantly.  “And indeed, you need me.  You will need my help again to avoid capture – and get out of here alive.”

“So you think that can protect you from me?”  Donaghue raised his gun, much to Brealey’s alarm.  He apparently didn’t expect this. “You’re wrong, Earthman.”  There was but a single gunshot;  a bullet between the eyes, Anthony Brealey was propelled against the wall and rolled onto the floor, dead.  A mere moment later, two circles of green eerie light slowly traced across his prostrate body… 

Then the Mysteron double of Patrick Donaghue raised his eyes and met those of a new Captain Brealey, standing over the dead body of the man whose face he wore.

“Now, you will help me,” Donaghue said coldly.

The new Mysteron duplicate nodded his consent and turned on his heel, preceding his accomplice in the direction of the elevator.


* * *


“Are you sure it’s wise to stand in front of that window, Captain Grey?” Commander Stewart asked in a sceptical tone.

“There’s nothing to worry about, Commander. Spectrum took additional security measures for your protection.  All of the windows here and in the room housing the World Court judge have been lined with a reinforcing, bullet-proof material.   It’s totally transparent, but no bullet will pass through, I assure you.”

“Then it would take someone quite extraordinary to get to us?”

“Yes, Commander,” Grey nodded grimly.  Knowing exactly who was trying to kill Commander Stewart worried him even more.  If there was anyone more likely than Patrick Donaghue to find a way to break through the tight wall of security, then Grey had never met him, and seriously doubted that he ever would.

“You seem concerned, Captain. Is there something I should know?”

“No, sir,” Grey smiled reassuringly, “I’m sure everything will be fine this time.”

Before Stewart could comment on Grey’s obvious lie, a buzzing noise drew Grey to the internal communicator.

“Captain Grey,” he announced as he answered the call.

“It’s Captain Brealey, sir,” came the voice over the radio. “ Captain Scarlet has just arrived, I’m bringing him to you now.”

“Thank you, Captain, we’ll be expecting you,” replied Grey, thankful to receive the additional Spectrum presence. Scarlet’s help certainly wouldn’t be too much in the circumstances.

“You’re being relieved, Captain?” Stewart asked with a surprised tone in his voice.

“No, sir. We’re just stepping up security, that’s all.”

Stewart nodded, quietly impressed.

Only moments later, a knock at the door was heard,  followed by a call.  “Captain Brealey, sir.”

Grey checked the monitor linked to the corridor beyond the door.  The image on the screen confirmed that it was indeed Captain Brealey.  Behind him, partially obscured by the tall, broad figure of Brealey, stood Scarlet. Everything seemed quite normal.   As soon as Grey opened the door, Brealey strode in and handed Grey an open file, drawing his attention to some photographs contained within.

“Captain Grey, these men have been spotted in the vicinity.  Are you familiar with any of them?”

Grey gave the photographs a cursory glance, and passed the file back to Brealey. It seemed very strange for Brealey to be bothering him with this detail.  If they were members of the Donaghue gang, then it would be highly unlikely that he would know them and surely it was more appropriate for the WG police themselves. 

Far too enthusiastic, thought Grey.  That’s what happens I suppose when individuals want to impress Spectrum with their competence.  He even blanked his own commander. He’ll be in trouble for that later.

“No, sorry, I don’t recognise any of them.  Scarlet...” Grey began as he turned to face who he thought was his colleague.  His eyes opened wide with surprise as he spotted the Mysteron sporting Scarlet’s lost uniform. Reaching for his gun, he yelled, “Commander, get down!”

Grey’s gun was barely out of its holster before the heavy file in Brealey’s hands came crashing down on the back of his head and neck.  Not suspecting Brealey to be a Mysteron, Grey had allowed him to get behind him.  Believing his only foe to be immediately in front of him, the blow had come as a complete surprise.  The dazed captain staggered forward, raising the gun and firing as he did so.  The shot missed its target, the valiant effort drawing mocking laughter from the Mysteron.

“Not good enough, Grey,” Donaghue commented coldly.  His own gun was now in his hand, trained on a stunned Stewart, making sure that way that he wouldn’t make any unwise move.  Brealey had pulled the gun from Grey’s grasp and swiftly removed the cap from his head.  He pushed him to the floor, at the foot of a large, solid, round table; Grey’s hands were pulled behind him and secured with handcuffs behind one of the table’s sturdy legs.

“Now then, Commander,” Donaghue began, as he walked toward his intended victim,   “We have some business to attend to.”

“Donaghue!” Stewart gasped in disbelief as he suddenly recognised the man who had spoken as the former New York mob boss. “Patrick Donaghue!  I can’t believe…”

“It’s not Pat Donaghue,” Grey corrected, raising his head, his voice slurred. “He’s a Mysteron…” He tried to move to check the sturdiness of his handcuffs, but at the same time, Brealey smashed the barrel of his gun against his face, knocking him half-unconscious.  “Shut up!” the Mysteronised man barked at him.

“Brealey, are you insane?” Stewart snapped angrily.  “You, siding with that…”

“That what?”  Donaghue raised his gun, pointing it directly under Stewart’s nose.  That compelled the man to shut up instantly; he stared down into the barrel, before raising his eyes to look into the cold eyes of the Mysteron. 

“Where have you been?” he grumbled.  “You just disappeared.  No sign of you for the last few years – were you afraid you were going to get finally caught?  Were you feeling the heat, Donaghue?”

Donaghue permitted himself the faintest of smiles.  “You really have no idea what you’re dealing with here, Commander…”

“I know a sleazeball  when I see one, Donaghue,” Stewart hissed between his teeth.  “I always knew you were one, but never would I have thought you would sink so low, you basta…”

“You have mere minutes to live, Commander,” Donaghue cut in implacably.  “I suggest you choose your last words carefully.  Soon, you will be executed, as the Mysterons ordered, right in front of that window.”

“What do you hope to achieve?” Stewart asked angrily, hoping to stall what seemed to be inevitable.

“You REALLY don’t know what you are dealing with, Commander,” Donaghue replied with another faint, sneering grin.  “This will be a double victory for the Mysterons.  Beyond that window is the world’s press, broadcasting live.  What they will see is ‘Captain Scarlet’ – Spectrum’s number one agent – murdering Commander Ian Stewart.  Pictures beamed around the world, live and uncensored.  No amount of denials from Spectrum will quell public fears –  after all, everyone will have seen it with their own eyes.  It will certainly be the end of Scarlet’s career and the beginning of the end for Spectrum.  Then, Commander, who could stop us exacting our revenge on you, pitiful Earthmen?” Donaghue finished with an air that was a chilling combination of superiority and malice.

Earthmen?” Stewart repeated with a furrowed brow.  “What are you…?”

“If you really believe all that, Mysteron, then you’re seriously underestimating us all!” Grey suddenly interrupted from his place, having regained a little of his senses, trying hard to sound as though he were certain that help was on the way. His intervention certainly wasn’t to Brealey’s taste, for the Mysteron agent kicked him violently in the side, making him gasp in pain.

“I told you to keep your mouth shut, Earthman!

“Be careful, Captain Grey,” Donaghue said in turn, glaring coldly in Grey’s direction. “Those strands of hope you’re clinging to are very fragile.”

Donaghue turned to Commander Stewart who stood opposite him, his bearing erect and noble.  Half-stunned by the last attack from Brealey, Grey managed to look up at Stewart, frustrated that he was unable to prevent his murder and yet at the same time, impressed by the courage he was displaying.

“You face death, Commander.” Donaghue’s expression, whilst still cold and dispassionate, exhibited the slightest flicker of what might almost have been respect – perhaps a remnant from the real Pat Donaghue’s own regard for the man and his abilities. The two of them stood briefly, eye to eye, unmoving until Donaghue himself broke the tension and forcibly dragged Stewart in front of the window and forced him to his knees.  Stewart’s pride and determination to face the situation without exhibiting fear was still very much in evidence, but it was clear that neither would Stewart pass up the opportunity to fight. Donaghue was able to see that, and exhorted his intended victim to put his hands on his head.

“You know the drill, Commander,” he said, in the same merciless tone he had used ever since he had entered the room.  “Palms up…  Now, that’s better.  I know you won’t be trying anything to escape your fate.”

With an expression filled with loathing, Stewart eyed both Mysterons carefully, hoping to see an opportunity to save himself.  His situation seemed desperate.

Donaghue smiled as he noticed the buzz of activity outside as the representatives of the world press noticed Commander Stewart held at gunpoint at the window. He carefully kept out of view for now, glancing at the bulletproof covering over the glass, ironically meant for Stewart’s protection, which would actually assist in his execution by protecting his killer.

Satisfied that the moment had come to carry out the Mysterons’ orders, Donaghue placed his finger firmly on the trigger and prepared to step forward in full view of the watching press.

To his right, the door suddenly burst open, distracting Donaghue long enough for Stewart to lower his shoulder and barrel into his legs.  Knocked off balance, Donaghue stumbled backwards; the shot meant for Stewart instead embedded itself in the wall.  Regaining his footing, Donaghue turned furiously toward the newcomer and was momentarily taken aback by the sight of the man who had just entered the room.

“Magenta!” Grey cried a warning. “Brealey’s a Mysteron!”

Magenta spun to his left, as he caught the movement of Brealey raising his pistol. At the same instant, Grey raised his legs and pushed his feet hard behind the Mysteronised policeman’s knees, bringing him down.  Grateful for his colleague’s intervention, Magenta fired twice, felling Brealey instantly. The distraction was enough time for Donaghue to act.  Leaping forward, he grabbed Magenta by the waist and wrestled him to the ground.  Slamming Magenta’s right hand viciously on the floor was enough to make him lose his pistol.

“So,” the Mysteron finally said,  looking coldly into his double’s face, “you’re not dead after all?  But I can feel you are weak.  I’m surprised you have the energy to stand, never mind put up the feeble effort you’re managing now!”

It was true, Magenta was struggling under the weight of the Mysteron; whatever move he tried to free himself was countered.  It was all he could do to keep Donaghue from pointing the gun in his direction.

“That’s the problem with fighting yourself.”  Donaghue stared coldly down. “I know all your moves.”

All the while, Commander Stewart, whilst obviously stunned at the scene before him of two men wearing the same face and fighting it off, still had the presence of mind to edge towards Magenta’s dropped gun.  From the corner of his eye, Donaghue spied him as it was almost within his grasp.

“No, Commander.” He turned his own pistol towards Stewart.

With a grunt of effort, Magenta took advantage of the distraction and heaved his body to the left, pulling Donaghue with him.  Donaghue pulled out of his grip and hauled himself to his feet, landing a vicious kick on his human counterpart as he did so.  Temporarily disabled by violent tearing pains from behind his ribcage, Magenta gasped for air and tried desperately to focus his blurred vision.

Seeing Stewart finally place his hand on the lost gun only served to spur Donaghue into action. He lashed out with a second violent kick, this time forcing Stewart’s hand against the floor, almost crushing it in the process; Donaghue watched with satisfaction as the pistol skittered away once more.

“Magenta!” yelled Grey.

Now on his knees, his vision blurring with pain and weakness, Magenta had never looked so pale.  Driven by sheer determination, plus a considerable measure of anger at the misuse of his name and reputation, Magenta launched himself forward as Donaghue stood back from Stewart, getting his balance again and ready to pull the trigger.

Hurried footsteps and voices could be heard beyond the open door, now closely approaching the room, but Donaghue would not be distracted or denied this time. He squeezed the trigger – and screamed in frustration as he saw Magenta crash into Stewart’s side, shoving him away.  A short, desperate cry of pain from Magenta as he fell was the first indication that the bullet meant for Stewart had found another target.

Donaghue turned towards the door in time to see Captains Ochre and Scarlet, weapons drawn, heading towards him. He tried to shoot at them, but his gun refused to fire.  Growling with anger, he overturned the large desk behind him, managing to secure himself a brief respite, as it threatened to roll onto the downed Magenta.  Ochre and Scarlet rushed forward to halt its progress, and laid their hands down on the edge of the desk just in time to prevent it rolling onto Magenta’s legs and crushing them.

A frustrated Scarlet turned to see Donaghue fleeing from the room.

“I’ll get him, you take care of Magenta!” Scarlet barked, breaking into a run.

“S.I.G.,” Ochre replied, as he bent over his field partner with concern in his eyes. “I thought I told you to stay in the van?” he muttered as he held a cloth down firmly over the bullet wound on his friend’s shoulder, in order to stem the blood loss. Lowering his cap microphone, Ochre continued, “Urgent assistance, Room 7A, officer down.”

“Ha!” Magenta weakly  replied to his remonstrance, “you just want all the action for yourself…”

“You stupid Irishman!” Ochre snapped, as he closed the communication channel. “You nearly killed yourself!”

“You don’t get rid of me that easily,” Magenta grimaced, as Ochre pressed harder with the now blood soaked cloth.

“Well, stop bleeding then!  You need this stuff!”

“Er...excuse me?” Stewart interrupted somewhat hesitantly.

Ochre looked up. “I’m sorry, Commander.  Are you all right?”

Stewart shook his head dismissively. “I’m fine, but...” He paused as he tried to find a way to phrase the question.  “Rick?  Rick Fraser?  Is that you?  And… Patrick Donaghue?”  The rest of the question wouldn’t materialise, so shocked was he by the sight before him.

Magenta managed a weak smile as he looked up at the man who, several years ago, had tried so very hard to arrest him on a number of occasions but had never managed to make the charges stick. 

“Always a pleasure to see you, Commander,” he managed, despite the pain.

“But how… what…”  Obviously lost for words, Stewart looked in the direction where the Mysteron doppelganger and the Spectrum officer wearing the same coloured uniform had disappeared.  “You just… saved my life…”  He frowned deeply.  “But if YOU are Donaghue…  then WHO was that other man – that other Donaghue… who tried to kill me?”

Magenta grimaced a pained smile.  “My evil twin?” he suggested feebly.  He could see the perplexity in Stewart’s face – and the annoyance in Ochre’s.

“Stop the pleasant banter,” the American officer replied with bad humour.  “You need your rest, Captain. Keep quiet.”

 “Can somebody get me out of these handcuffs?” came a frustrated voice from the other side of the room.

Both Ochre and Stewart turned their heads towards Grey.  Ochre grinned as he seemed only now to notice his predicament.

“You should learn how to pick locks,” Magenta commented between two painful coughs.

Grateful to finally see the arrival of a medical team, Ochre casually tossed a set of keys to Commander Stewart. “If you don’t mind, sir.”

“Er, no, of course,” replied Stewart, still unable to fully accept the presence of a man who he believed to be dead and the former mob boss working side by side as Spectrum officers.

“Ochre, how did you know there was trouble?” asked Grey as he rubbed his wrists to restore circulation.

“It was rather easy to figure out when we found a mammoth of a man lying in the parking lot, not far from one of the WGPC building door – and who Scarlet identified as a member of the Donaghue Gang.”

“That’s Ox,” Magenta then murmured.  “I – I found him too.  Ochre, I know I shouldn’t have gone after that Mysteron agent, but… when I found Ox dying, I…” He closed his eyes and sighed.  “…I had to stop the killing.”

 Ochre snorted.  “Well, I don’t know if ‘your friend’ will live, but…”

“Ox’s alive?” an astonished Magenta interjected.  “I- I thought he died…”

“He might not survive the day,” Ochre said.  “But he was still alive when we found him, and handed him to the medics.  Tough guy like that, hard to kill.”  He looked over at Grey. “We then entered the building, and we found the real Brealey’s body.  And Tan locked in a closet, he told us what had happened to him.  Then it was easy – we heard the sounds of gunshots and fighting that obviously were coming from this room.”

“Tan’s okay then?” replied Grey with a sigh of relief.

“Yeah, they just knocked him out.” 

“Are you okay, Commander?” asked Grey, turning to his charge.

“Yes, Captain, thank you, I’m quite fine.” He turned to Ochre, with an inquiring stance.  “You will have to explain all this to me later, Rick. At least, I hope you will…”

“Whatever we’ll be allowed to tell you, Ian,” Ochre replied with a forced grin.  “It’s a long story… as I’m sure you can imagine.”

Ochre suppressed a smirk as Commander Stewart, nodding thoughtfully, settled himself in a chair.

“We should have been assigned to him all along,” Ochre whispered in Magenta’s ear, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so quiet!”




In pursuit of Patrick Donaghue’s Mysteron double, Captain Scarlet saw him pushing open a door and disappearing behind as it closed.  Scarlet opened the door in turn, and found himself in a narrow stairway.  He could hear footsteps echoing  from overhead and raised his eyes to see the silhouette of Donaghue rushing up toward the roof.  He followed suit, not wanting to lose his quarry; he made  a call with his cap mic to report their positions and request the Spectrum Angels and helicopters to assist once he was on the roof.

He took a second to stop and get his breath back when he reached the door leading out into the open, and behind which he knew Donaghue had disappeared.  No doubt, he thought, the Mysteron was waiting for him on the other side.  Carefully, his gun well in hand, he opened the door and looked about, searching for any sign of his quarry.  He couldn’t see any trace of him, but he knew he could only be somewhere out there.  He stepped out, looking around once again, taking into account any possible hiding places where Donaghue could be.  There wasn’t much of anything onto the flat roof of the WGPC building.  At the other end of it, there was a helicopter pad, presently empty -  which was a good thing, since Scarlet didn’t doubt one instant that if a craft had been there, the Mysteron would have instantly seized the chance to take the helm – and would possibly have crashed it against the building at the very storey where his prey was kept.  At this point in his mission, Donaghue had absolutely nothing to lose, and would do anything to see it complete.

He had to be stopped at any cost, not only in order to protect Stewart before the start of the swearing-in ceremony, but also for Captain Magenta – the real Pat Donaghue – who certainly wouldn’t appreciate that there was a Mysteron double of himself loose in the world, capable of killing any and all for his masters.  

Scarlet took one more careful step onto the roof, his senses on alert.  Still nothing – and it was beginning to get unnerving.  A sound from over his head made him look up and he saw an Angel craft passing by.  Its pilot surely had a grand view of the roof, and would be able to tell him where he would find his quarry.  He lowered his cap microphone. 

Then he heard a new, creaking sound, that made him spin around.

From the top of the booth that housed the staircase, he saw a red and black silhouette jump at him.  He didn’t have time to raise his pistol to shoot, before his attacker landed heavily on him, bringing him down roughly to the ground.  The shock drove the air out of Scarlet’s lungs and half-stunned him; the gun escaped from his grip and clattered away, out of reach. 

Scarlet gasped when Donaghue’s hands encircled his neck tightly and started to squeeze his throat; he grabbed for the Mysterons’ wrists, trying to force him to let him go.  Donaghue leaned on him, his face an implacable mask of coldness. 

“I need your gun, Scarlet,” he said between his teeth.  “I need it to finish my mission.  You won’t be needing it – I’m sure you won’t mind lending it to me, my friend.”

The last words made Scarlet see red.  Gritting his teeth against the pressure on his throat, Scarlet found the strength to remove Donaghue’s fingers and then pushed his hands up, slowly.  “I… am… not... your… friend!” He pushed his opponent up and sent him flying head over heels.   Taken by surprise, the Mysteron made a spectacular flip before falling on his back. 

Taking advantage of this moment of reprieve, Scarlet got back to his feet and reached for the stunned Mysteron, forcing him to stand, and then sent his fist into his stomach, angrily.  Donaghue bent double. 

“First of all,” Scarlet said between his teeth, “this tunic isn’t yours…”  In a fraction of a second, he had unzipped the tunic and had literally torn it from Donaghue’s back,  roughly pushing the Mysteron away from him.  With a disgusted gesture he threw the tunic away from him, as if it had been dirtied by the simple fact that it had been worn by his opponent.  He then advanced threateningly toward Donaghue, who, temporarily stunned, was regaining his balance after such a violent shove.  “Secondly,” Scarlet continued, pointing an accusing finger at him,  “I’m friends with Pat Donaghue…”  He sent his fist into the Mysteron’s face, angrily.  “The REAL Pat Donaghue.  Captain Magenta, you remember?  The man whom who just got shot to protect your would-be victim…” 

Donaghue tried a punch at Scarlet, who stepped back to evade him, before hitting the Mysteron in turn, with an uppercut to the jaw, throwing him back.  “You are not even fit to polish his shoes… Let alone bear his name.”

Donaghue shook himself, trying to regain his composure.  He wiggled his jaw, as if wanting to put it back in place.   “I can see you’re very angry with me, Paul – can’t blame you, actually, after I dropped you in the river… But somehow – I knew you would get better.  After all, you always do.”

“Well, it’s NO THANKS to you!” Scarlet barked, his fists clenching.  “If not for Riordan, Spectrum might not have found me at all! You’re NOTHING but a murderer! A Mysteron duplicate dragging my friend’s name through the mud…”

“Then what does that make you, Paul?” Donaghue asked tauntingly, stepping back as Scarlet approached.  “Another ‘Mysteron duplicate’, just like me?  An impostor trying to live a life that isn’t his own?”

Scarlet narrowed his eyes, a murderous expression on his face.  “I know who I am,” he seethed ominously.  “And I know who you are -  and who you are not.”  He stopped his advance, barely two feet away from Donaghue, who was now standing close to the edge of the roof.  Scarlet was watching him very closely, wary of what he might be up to now.   “You can never be Patrick Donaghue, even at his worst.”

The Mysteron duplicate nodded very slowly; discreetly, he was keeping his right hand out of Scarlet’s view.  One flick of the wrist dislodged the knife that was hidden inside his sleeve.  It slid down into his hand, inconspicuously.  Scarlet was nearly close enough for him to use it.  “Well, I’m sorry to hear you say that, old friend…” 

Goaded by the last remark from the Mysteron, Scarlet took another step forward.  Donaghue avoided the coming fist and tried to strike in turn.  Scarlet’s other hand caught hold of his wrist before the knife struck.  The two men were holding together in a close hand-to-hand tussle, each peering into the other’s face, the knife between them, only centimetres from Scarlet’s chest.  “I have to kill you – and finish my mission,” Donaghue said between his teeth, struggling to try push his knife into his opponent.

“That’s what all Mysterons say,” Scarlet replied implacably. His hand gave a sudden twist to Donaghue’s wrist and he pushed with all his weight, driving the blade deep into the Mysteron’s abdomen and then up to his heart.  Donaghue gave a deep throaty cry, his free hand clutching his opponent’s shoulder;  his eyes opening with obvious disbelief  that the Spectrum officer had not hesitate to stab him so viciously.

“And for the last time, I am not your friend,” Scarlet finished icily.  Feeling Donaghue falling backward, he freed himself from his clutches; Scarlet tried to grab Donaghue when he saw him tumbling over the side of the roof, but wasn’t able to hold him.  The Mysteron fell, and crashed into a series of power lines beside the building and entangled himself in them.  Scarlet half-covered his eyes, against the violent display of electric flashes that surrounded the Mysteron’s body.  He heard a cry of pain, amidst the loud crescendo of sizzling sounds. He narrowed his eyes, trying to see.  The flashes gradually died down, as smoke mounted from the point where the Mysteron double of Patrick Donaghue hung from the cables, what was left of his body and  uniform still burning. His face was still recognisable enough – and from where Scarlet was standing, he could see his eyes, wide open, staring into nothingness.

He gave a disgruntled sigh and stepped away in disgust, his stomach nearly churning.  Seeing an electrocuted dead body – especially one who was wearing a friend’s face – wasn’t a pretty sight. 

The door from the booth behind him flew open and Scarlet turned around, tensing.  Captain Blue appeared in the doorway, his gun drawn, and ready to use it.  Both men relaxed when they saw each other and Scarlet gave a deep sigh of relief.  He left the side of the roof and walked toward his colleague, reaching for his cap as he did so.  Blue walked fully onto the roof and approached him.

“Is it finished?” he asked, watching as Scarlet casually picked up his gun from the ground to re-holster it.

Scarlet simply nodded.  “Yes, over and done.”  He turned around, looking toward the edge of the roof from where Donaghue had fallen. The Mysteron duplicate of his friend was dead – but killing him wasn’t something he had liked to do.  He felt as if he had killed Magenta himself.  It was a really bad feeling; he felt sick in the stomach.  But also, he felt somehow relieved. Not that he had settled HIS score with the Mysteron, but that he had somehow righted a terrible wrong. Pat was a good man.  He certainly didn’t deserve that an evil, alien creature had been killing people, using his name.

“Come on,” Blue said, patting his friend’s shoulder.  “Let’s go down.  We still have some unfinished business to attend to.”

Scarlet nodded his agreement. He followed Blue to the door leading to the stairs, at the same time lowering his cap microphone for his report to Colonel White concerning the final fate of the Mysteron agent.


* * *


When Scarlet and Blue came back to Room  7A, they  found that the paramedics had already arrived, and were carefully  putting Captain Magenta onto a stretcher, with Captain Ochre standing close by and surveying the scene like a vigilant watch dog.  At a short distance from them, Captain Grey was keeping Commander Stewart company, as they, too, were watching with interest.  The Irishman was pale, and a dressing had been applied to his wounded shoulder, a red dot marking the place where he had been shot, but he looked more relaxed now.  When they all saw Scarlet coming back, all eyes, save for the medics’,  turned to him.  Grey made a step forward.  “It’s finished?”

Scarlet nodded, noticing that Grey, too, was very pale.  His face was bruised, and he had blood on the back of his neck. He gave a look in Magenta’s direction, and back again at Grey. “I think you should go too, Grey,” he noted.  “You need medical care too.  Captain Blue and I are relieving you.”

Grey gave a deep, slow sigh, seemingly letting go of all his tension.  He  nodded, reaching for his cap he had put on a low table.  “I suppose you’re right,” he commented.  “I need the rest.  I’m busted.” He turned to Stewart and saluted him briskly.  “I’m leaving you in good hands, sir…”  He didn’t wait for a reply and accepted the helping hands of a medic, who came to escort him towards the door, while Captain Blue was taking his place beside the commander.

“You too, Captain Ochre,” Scarlet said.  “I think it would be better if you leave the premises before someone else from the WGPC sees you and recognises you.  I think Blue and I can cover things from here. You can go back to the surveillance van.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Ochre acknowledged.  “After I have seen Captain Magenta to the medicopter, Captain, if you don’t mind…”

 Scarlet moved closer to Magenta.  The medics were raising the stretcher to a level that permitted them to stand in order to finish preparing their patient.  Magenta grimaced a little, and then looked at Scarlet who was gazing down at him with concern.  He reached out for him and Scarlet took his hand comfortingly.  “You got him, Paul?”

“Yeah, I got him,” Scarlet replied quietly.  “He won’t use your name to hurt anyone anymore.”

Magenta gave a deep sigh of relief; it seemed to send a shooting pain through his shoulder and he grunted, closing his eyes. Scarlet tilted his head to the side. 

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I guess I will be, now,” Magenta replied, opening his eyes.  “I’m just not used to getting hurt, I think.”  He smiled thinly.  “I still don’t know how you can do it over and over again, taking bullets like you do. ” he added.  “The pain is terrible…  And I’m not sure the pay is worth it…”

Scarlet chuckled at his friend’s attempt at a joke.  He squeezed his hand as the medics finished making Magenta comfortable, and seemed ready to go.  “You did fine, Captain Magenta,” he said with an assured tone and a broad smile.  “That was a great job you did today.”

Magenta smiled in turn, his eyes closing tiredly; his hand let go of Scarlet’s, as the stretcher started to roll away and the medics took him out of the room, with Ochre following closely behind.  “I’m not sure it’ll be enough to keep me out of trouble with the colonel, though,” he slurred faintly.  He wasn’t sure if anyone had heard him.  With a sigh of contentment, he closed his eyes completely and allowed himself to sink into a state of partial sleep.















Other stories by Chris Bishop


Other stories by Sue Stanhope


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