A 'Captain Scarlet' story for Halloween
By Chris Bishop
Nearly out of breath, Captain Ochre stood at the top of the metal staircase he just had climbed, and at the foot of a ladder riveted to a concrete wall. The ladder led to the trap door to the roof, about seven feet above his head. Beyond that trap door, he could clearly hear the thundering engines of the Angel craft flying overhead, and the roar of King Kong, challenging them. He glanced at his watch, to discover he was well within schedule, and lowered his cap microphone.
“Captain Ochre to Angel Leader. I’m right under the trap leading to the roof. I should be able to access it within the next minute. Please continue to keep Kong busy. With any luck, that’ll give me the time I need to rescue Symphony.”
“S.I.G., Captain Ochre,” Melody’s voice answered him. “Please proceed with care. Once you have reached Symphony, evacuate the roof quickly. With both of you safely away, we’ll be able to come into attack and take care of the robot once and for all.”
“Just be sure to aim accurately,” Ochre requested. “I wouldn’t want for us to be blown up by accident by one of you girls”
“Worry about your rescue mission, Captain Ochre,” Melody answered casually, “and we’ll worry about our aim. We’ll be careful, don’t worry. Angel Leader out.”
Ochre grunted with annoyance, as his mic returned to his visor. He hoped that Melody wasn’t too overly confident.
With determination, he started to climb the ladder.
* * *
“Colonel White, I managed to hack into the patrolling camera drones from the Los Angeles M.A.T. Complex,” Lieutenant Green suddenly announced from his station.
Colonel White had been checking the map on the wall behind his desk, which showed the position of the King Kong robot, along with the Spectrum force involved in the operation to stop it. He spun his seat around and turned an inquiring look at his aide, frowning. “How did you manage to do that, Lieutenant?” he asked with curiosity.
“Well, I actually discovered the camera feed as I was investigating the signal controlling the MIGHTEC from the satellite, sir,” Green explained. “It carried the M.A.T. protocol signature, so even though it obviously wasn’t the same signal, I figured that maybe, by hacking into it, I might be able to divert that feed to indirectly disrupt the signal which controlled Kong.” The young man shrugged. “Turned out it’s impossible to do, but at least we can use the feed to access the camera drones… and use them to see what’s going on in Los Angeles.”
White smiled. He couldn’t help but admire his aide’s ingenuity. “On screen, Lieutenant,” he ordered, as he turned around to face the wall screen again.
Green flicked a button and multiple small views appeared on screen, with the word ‘Cambot’ and a small number on the bottom right of each of them. Each of the pictures showed a different view from the Los Angeles M.A.T. complex. Quickly, White scanned them; four of them displayed images which were of interest to him.
“How much control do you have on those cameras, Lieutenant?”
“I’ve got the same as the security people at the M.A.T. complex, sir,” Green answered. “In fact, I’ve rerouted everything to my station, so you can say that they don’t have any control at all, now that I hacked into their system.”
“Well, I suppose we can make better use of their cameras than they would right now,” White commented. “Keep cambots three, five, six and eight, and discard the others.”
Green typed a command on his keyboard and all pictures but four died out on the screen. The four remaining images increased in size, so that they filled the entire screen.
White nodded approvingly. “Very nice. This way, we’ll be able to see exactly what’s going on over there. Well done, Lieutenant.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lieutenant Green beamed with satisfaction.
Colonel White studied the silent pictures on the screen. One of them showed the curious onlookers, gathered on the grounds not that far from the M.A.T. Tower, with police officers doing their best to control them and keep them behind a security line; just on the other side of the cordon, he could see Captain Magenta, working with a small man on what looked like a computerised tablet, while another man, standing close by, was watching them fretfully. From the picture he had seen of the man, the Spectrum commander recognised Curtis Greenwood.
Another camera gave a wide view of the M.A.T. Tower, with all the damage it had already suffered from the MIGHTEC, while a third one showed the Angel jets flying in circles around the building. Finally, the fourth and last camera showed a picture of King Kong himself, taken from a low point, visibly raging and roaring at the fighter jets flying by.
“I admit, this is quite impressive,” White said to himself, rubbing his chin. “You would believe that thing’s a real giant ape…” Absorbed with his study, he distractedly heard a beeping sound coming from Green’s station behind him; he only raised his head when his aide called to him.
“Sir, it’s a call from Captain Scarlet! It’s relayed by Rhapsody Angel’s personal communicator.”
Colonel White frowned upon hearing Lieutenant Green’s announcement; he looked down on his desk at the red communication light indicator that was normally assigned to Captain Scarlet and wondered why his special agent had not used his radiocap to contact him.
Probably misplaced it again, following whatever trouble he got himself into this time around…
“Put him through, Lieutenant.” White waited for the red light to turn on, indicating that the communication had been transferred to his desk. “Glad to finally receive news from you, Captain. We were starting to worry about you and Captain Blue. I’m guessing Rhapsody Angel finally found you, since you’re using her communicator.”
“Indeed, sir. There was… a little accident with my cap.” White heard Scarlet clear his throat. It was obvious his compatriot wasn’t that eager to give further explanation on that question.
“Doctor Gordon and his assistant Doctor George were Mysterons. Captain Blue and I fell into a trap and were captured. Rhapsody Angel has just managed to free me, and the Mysterons have been eliminated.”
“Good news. Did Rhapsody have time to brief you further on the situation?”
“She mentioned about the King Kong robot running amok in Los Angeles and capturing Symphony Angel. She also mentioned that the signal controlling the robot possibly originates from here. I confirm this is the case. The Mysteron agents told me so themselves.”
“So now that the Mysterons are eliminated, I imagine you can regain control of that robot – or at least, cut the signal that causes it to run amok.”
There was a pause before Scarlet answered. “It’s… more complicated than that, sir.”
White frowned in puzzlement. He then realised he was missing something and he grew somewhat concerned.
“Captain… You haven’t mentioned Captain Blue so far. Is he all right? Has something happened to him?”
“As far as we know, he’s alive, sir,” Scarlet quickly reassured him. “Rhapsody is currently working to free him.”
“Free him?” White repeated. “Free him from where?”
Again, he heard the hesitation in Scarlet’s voice; then his captain spoke again: “Well, sir… you will probably find it hard to believe. But here’s the situation…”
Fearful she might be knocked off the roof by the wind or trampled by one of Kong’s feet, Symphony had managed to crawl from the edge and had taken refuge close to the base of the huge communication antenna. From this new position, she was watching with trepidation as the robot bellowed his rage at the Angel Interceptors, which were buzzing around him like very loud and annoying bees. The young woman knew her colleagues’ task at the moment was to try and provide enough of a distraction to keep Kong’s mind off his captive, so that she could be rescued from his clutches. It seemed to work, but the cybernetic ape was getting angrier by each passing second, as the Angels, flying closer and closer, were forever eluding his continuous attempts to catch them. He was obviously growing frustrated.
That didn’t make sense to Symphony. How could a robot, a mechanical being, feel so much rage and anger at all? Kong was a machine, he shouldn’t be feeling anything outside of his programming. And if this apparent anger was part of his programming, then it was without a doubt the best piece of software that had ever been designed and built.
Amongst the thunder of the Angels’ engines and the raging roars of Kong, she perceived, just at the limit of her hearing, a very faint thumping, which attracted her attention. She looked around, searching for where it might be coming from; she couldn’t find anything.
The thumping then became more insistent, and she suddenly felt a vibration from the surface on which she lay.
The thumping – or rather knocking – was coming from beneath her. Looking down, she discovered she was lying on a large plate of metal of about four by four feet. On one side of it, she could see large hinges.
The plate unexpectedly rose a few inches, as if pushed up from beneath by some unknown force; that almost made her jump in surprise. Then it dropped back, into its previous position.
A trap door, Symphony suddenly realised. No wonder I couldn’t find a way to leave this roof. I was looking for a regular door, and there isn’t one. I was sitting right on top of my ticket to freedom!
Feeling the trap door pushed from beneath again, she crawled off it. She watched as it rose a few more inches, very slowly, and a dark head, surmounted by a yellow cap, appeared, looking around. She was nearly in front of the newcomer who found her instantly.
She blew a sigh of relief. “Captain Ochre…”
“Sorry,” Ochre apologised. “For some reason, this door wouldn’t open… Something must have been blocking it.”
Symphony nodded with some kind of a sheepish smile. She wasn’t that willing to tell her colleague that it was her who was weighing the door down.
“Be careful,” she said. She glanced up towards Kong who was still raging against the Angels, which were turning around in the distance and preparing to make another approach. She didn’t want to find out what would happen to Ochre if the robot should discover him there. “Boy, am I glad to see you,” she said in a low voice.
“Let’s wait for the Angels to come back,” Ochre instructed. “Then slip into the opening to join me. Do you think you’re up to it, even with your injured ankle?”
Symphony nodded again, vigorously. “I’d crawl on my hands and knees to get out of here.”
She caught sight of Kong lowering his head in her direction, as if he suddenly suspected something was going on. Ochre just had time to lower the trap door to hide his presence.
Seemingly reassured that his prized captive was still there at his feet, the robot returned his attention – and anger – to the upcoming Angels, one of his enormous hands reaching out in another futile attempt to snatch one of them whooshing close by.
Ochre swiftly pushed the trap door open and held out his hand to Symphony: “Quickly! While he’s looking the other way!”
He didn’t need to repeat himself, and taking his hand, Symphony fluidly slipped through the gap to join him…
… Just as Kong, once again, lowered his head and spotted her escape.
After completing his report to Colonel White and listening to the last update on the situation in Los Angeles, Captain Scarlet shut down his borrowed communicator and approached from the operator cabin. Rhapsody was crouched in front of the lock and had been working on it for the last minutes. Arthur James was standing behind her, watching the young woman’s manipulation of the lock with deep curiosity and a fair amount of wonderment. Binx, comfortably perched on his shoulders, was seemingly watching as well with a somewhat indifferent expression on his small furry face. The juice of what remained of a small orange half-stuck in his mouth was trickling down the white coat of his guardian, who didn’t seem to either notice, or care about it.
“I have news from L.A.,” Scarlet announced, as he stood next to the vet, who slightly edged aside to give him space. “There’s a rescue operation in progress, with Ochre attempting to get Symphony out of King Kong’s clutches, while the Angels keep the ape busy.” He shook his head with some dismay. “I can’t believe I just seriously said that…”
“Let’s hope it’ll work,” Rhapsody replied, without turning her eyes away from her task.
“Once Ochre and Symphony are safe, the Angels will then be free to attack the robot, whenever necessary.”
“Attack the robot?” James repeated, turning to Scarlet.
The latter nodded. “While it stays out of control, it’s a potential tool for the Mysterons,” he explained. “It might still pose a threat.” He failed to notice James’ thoughtful expression as he addressed Rhapsody next: “Any luck with that lock yet?”
He had barely spoken before he heard a click coming from the lock. Slowly, Rhapsody rose from her crouched position.
“I can’t get over it,” James said, shaking his head. “All it took for you to open this door was a simple, very ordinary hairpin. You didn’t learn that trick from Spectrum, I bet.”
“Trade secret,” she answered, pushing the pin back into her hair. She turned to Scarlet. “I think we just need to press against the surface of the door for it to open. There isn’t any handle.”
Scarlet nodded and handed back her communicator. “Please, step aside, both of you.”
He walked forward, and brushed both James and Rhapsody aside, to stand in front of the cabin. He looked at it with hesitation, apprehensive of what he would find. Although the two Mysterons had told him his friend was alive, he feared that Blue could be in a bad way, drugged to the eyeballs with disinhibiting drugs, with his brains plugged into an electronic device... Who knew what kind of ill-effects this would have on him?
Scarlet held his breath as he pressed the door with his right hand, as Rhapsody had suggested. It barely resisted under his touch and when he removed his hand from the surface, the door opened ajar with a hissing sound. Impatiently, he inserted his fingers into the slight opening and pulled the door wide open.
He almost did a double take.
Captain Blue was indeed inside the tube, stripped to the waist, and strapped in a supine position to a seventy-five degrees inclined padded table. He had medical tubes inserted into his arms and electrode conductors applied on his bare chest and neck. A helmet, with wires connected to a large electronic panel behind him and seemingly made of the same glassy, opaque material as the cabin imprisoning him, covered almost his entire head down to his nose, hiding his eyes; he probably couldn’t see anything. He was apparently conscious, grunting through the plastic gag inserted between his clenched teeth, and was straining frantically against his restraints, but they held him down so securely that he barely could move.
Scarlet opened eyes wide with horror, just as he heard the gasps from Rhapsody and James behind him.
“My God, Blue…”
He rushed forward and reached to remove the gag from his friend’s mouth. As soon as it came out, a loud and hoarse moan escaped from Blue’s throat. He was in obvious pain, the little that could be seen of his face distorted, his upper body covered with sweat, and his hands desperately clutching at empty air.
“Blue, can you hear me?” the concerned Scarlet called to his friend.
To his dread, Blue didn’t seem to have heard him at all. He kept fighting against his restraints, obviously trying to escape, with such desperation that the straps were leaving red marks on his exposed skin.
“Sweet Jesus,” James breathed out, the disgust obvious in his voice.
He approached to stand near Scarlet. At this point, he gently brushed Binx away from his shoulder, as he was becoming a nuisance. The small monkey didn’t seem to take any offense at it and jumped to the floor to scuttle towards the table, on which the bowl of fruit beckoned to him.
Free of his movements, James leaned over the captive, and checked him out swiftly. The skin was clammy and cold to the touch; the whole body was shuddering with muscle spasms and the pulse was racing. James knew the symptoms all too well.
“He’s in shock, completely under the effects of the disinhibitors,” he said. He looked at the medical tubes hooked to Blue’s elbow pits. “That must be what those medical tubes are feeding him. I don’t know how much of it he was given already, but I bet it was a lot. He looks like he received a massive dose.” He stared at Scarlet. “You won’t be able to get through to him, Captain. And I suggest you be careful when you free him. There’s no telling how he’ll react, but he could prove violent.”
“How do we get him out of this state?” Scarlet asked.
“Well, the effects will burn off with time,” James said, scowling as he thought about it.
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting for that,” Scarlet replied.
“Then we would need a kind of counteractive drug,” James continued, musingly. “Doctor George possibly had some… He always kept some around whenever he conducted his experiments.”
“Somehow,” Scarlet groused, “I don’t have the impression he planned to use any on Blue.”
“How about the automated laboratory?” Rhapsody suddenly asked, pointing to the small computerised console James had showed to her earlier. “Couldn’t you just work it out so it can create that counteractive drug, Doctor?”
Scarlet approved of the idea. “If it’s anything like the one Doctor Fawn has in sickbay, it certainly could,” he added.
James nodded in agreement. “All right, then. I can do this. In the meantime, you’d better get your friend free of this apparatus, before the MIGHTEC is attacked in Los Angeles.” As Scarlet and Rhapsody turned interrogative eyes to him, he went on to explain: “His brain is in direct feed with the robot’s DNI circuit board. If ever that circuit board’s destroyed, or even the MIGHTEC itself, come to think of it, I’m afraid the feedback might cause your friend permanent damage.”
“Great,” Scarlet muttered, his features becoming hard.
James pointed to the tubes stuck to Blue’s elbow pits. “You have to remove the medical tubes first,” he suggested. “If he struggles even more when you free him, he’s liable to hurt himself with those needles in his arms. In the meantime, I’ll get to work on that counteractive drug right away.” He started to move towards the console.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Scarlet called after him, genuinely grateful for the vet’s help. He didn’t waste any time to lean over the captive Blue and reach for the tube plugged into his right arm. “Calm yourself, Blue,” he told him soothingly. “You’ll be free in a minute.”
Carefully, he started pulling on the tube, trying to remove the needle inserted into the arm as gently as he could. He stopped, with the needle almost completely out, when he heard his still struggling friend give a guttural moan through his clenched teeth. He looked up at what he could see of Blue’s face and discovered it was even more twisted with pain than before.
Scarlet half-turned over his shoulder to address his fiancée, standing just outside of the cabin. “Rhapsody, you’d better call Cloudbase. Tell the colonel we found Blue and that he’ll possibly need medical help. Inform him to wait for our signal before initiating any attack on the King Kong robot in L.A.”
“S.I.G.” Rhapsody took a step back, getting her communicator ready.
Scarlet returned his attention back to his friend. “Blue?” he asked with concern. “Are you – ”
He didn’t get to finish his question.
Under Blue’s continuous struggles, the strap holding his right wrist down suddenly snapped; his arm came loose, tearing the medical tube from it.
Kong roared in fury as he saw his treasure getting away from him. That sound made Symphony shudder as she hoisted herself down the ladder, using the strength of her arms. She wasn’t that keen to find herself back in the robot’s clutches, and she wasn’t that sure that he would be that lenient towards her for trying to escape. The further away from the giant ape she could get, the better she would feel.
Added to that, she was rather concerned that he might have seen Ochre, standing there by her side. She had seen the previous films, and she did remember how King Kong was very jealous and possessive of Ann Darrow, and how he badly reacted to anyone trying to get her away from him; he didn’t like it at all and he was truly murderous. Never mind that this Kong was a robot; so far he had acted enough in character for her to imagine that if he got his giant paws on Ochre, the latter would be a dead man.
The same thought possibly came to Ochre’s mind, as the American captain, upon hearing Kong’s furious cry, swiftly closed the trap door over their heads, before tumbling down the ladder to her side and turning to her, pale as a sheet.
“Quick!” he urged her. “Let’s get the hell out of here!”
He helped her, as she limped down the first flight of stairs as fast as she could.
They had barely reached the first landing at record time when the roof imploded above them; the metal staircase trembled and they lost their footing, sprawling on the landing, just as debris fell on them. Symphony couldn’t help a cry of panic escape her lips when, looking up, she saw the huge gap leading into the roof, above the stairs, just where the trap door used to be. Kong was trying to insert his fingers into the hole, and just beyond these huge fingers, she could just make out one of his eyes and his bared teeth.
* * *
Following behind Harmony’s jet which just swooshed past King Kong’s head, Melody was carefully making her approach, her mind concentrating on the task ahead. Her sharp eyes had caught sight of Symphony, sliding down into the opening on the roof to join Captain Ochre, who she could just make out under the shadow of the trap door. At this point, Cloudbase had informed the Angel pilots that this was the most crucial moment in Ochre’s rescue attempt, and that it was imperative that the fighter jets kept the robot busy and distracted long enough for the operation to succeed.
And for a split second, it did look like it was about to succeed… until Kong looked down and noticed what was happening.
Melody’s heart almost missed a beat when she saw Kong divert his attention completely from the Angel jets to lean over the now closed trap door and tear it open effortlessly with his massive hand.
Ochre and Symphony couldn’t have had the time to go very far; they definitely were in danger.
“Get away from our friends, you monster!”
Melody took careful aim and fired.
* * *
Blood trickling down from the fresh injuries to both his forearms, Blue hollered; it sounded more like a cry of anger than a cry of pain. That took Scarlet so much by surprise that the English captain froze on the spot.
With a powerful swipe of his free arm, Blue shoved Scarlet aside, making him stumble back and step clear of the cabin, almost colliding with Rhapsody who stood behind him. The young woman, who had just managed to press the button of her communicator to make contact with Cloudbase, swiftly stepped back to avoid being bumped into.
Arthur James, who stood at some distance from there, in front of the automated laboratory, turned swiftly to look at them, startled. Seated on the table, holding half of a banana he had started to eat, Binx shrieked in alarm, and jumping down from his perch, darted to the far side of the room.
The same swift movement from Blue seemed to give him enough leverage for him to break free of the remaining straps all at once. The wires connected to his helmet were torn off, and blinding sparks of electricity flew around him. He howled again in pain, and reached for his head with his now free hand. But when his fingers came into contact with the surface of the helmet, that seemed to completely send him over the edge. Visibly upset, in complete panic, he pushed himself from the table, in an attempt to get up. However, his feet were still restrained, and he stumbled forward.
Everything happened so fast that neither Scarlet nor Rhapsody had had time to react, and could only watch helplessly as Blue fell face first out of the cabin.
There was a very audible crack as the helmet crashed against the hard surface of the floor.
* * *
“Get down! Get down! Get down!” Ochre barked, forcing Symphony to her feet and pushing her towards the second flight of stairs – which still looked solid enough to support their combined weight. “Don’t look back! Don’t panic! Just run!”
Symphony was in total agreement with him and, ignoring the pain of her injured ankle, she hurried down the stairs, supported by Ochre.
Behind, they could hear Kong’s furious roar reaching a deafening crescendo.
And then there the whistling sound of an upcoming fighter jet and a thunderous sound of explosion they both knew very well, followed by a new bestial howl.
The Angels were coming to their rescue!
* * *
Melody’s intention was more to force the robot to refocus its attention back on her, than to really destroy it, so she had used one of the less-destructive projectiles of her arsenal. The small missile hit Kong on the side of the head and exploded into a fiery ball. The giant ape staggered under the impact and fell on one knee. But it was only momentary, as after a second or two, he pushed himself to his full height, and turned around with a loud bark, to face his opponent.
Stunned, Melody could now see the vivid marks of her attack on the MIGHTEC. On the left side, the fake realistic eye that looked so much like that of a real ape was gone, and in its place was now a mechanical red eye, shining brightly in the simian face glaring straight at her. She knew all along that Kong was a robot, but so far, he had acted so naturally, exactly like the character he was supposed to portray, that she had tended to forget that fact. But now the evidence was staring her right in the face: ‘King Kong’ was nothing but a highly sophisticated piece of machinery, with very advanced programming; any sympathy she might have had for the real beast he might have been, instantly disappeared.
Melody pulled on the helm of her fighter and buzzed past Kong at high speed; once more, the giant ape tried to catch her with his huge hand, but to no avail. His frustrated roars filled the air again. And he sounded very unhappy now. He visibly didn’t like having lost Symphony.
What were the intentions of those in control of that robot towards her, anyway?
Melody lowered her helmet microphone. “Captain Ochre from Angel Leader. Are you and Symphony all right, Captain?”
She was relieved to hear the voice of her colleague over the speaker: “Ochre here. We’re okay, Melody. Whatever you girls did up there was in the nick of time. It provided just enough time for us to escape Kong. We’re now making our way down to the fiftieth floor…”
Melody acknowledged the information with a nod to herself. “Then get the hell out of the building as fast as you can, both of you. We will take care of Kong properly, now.”
“Be my guest, Angel Leader.”
Melody turned her jet around and changed channel on her radio. “Angel Leader to Captain Magenta,” she called.
“Captain Magenta here. What’s been going on up there, Melody? We saw one of you firing directly at Kong.”
“That was me, Captain. I didn’t have much choice.” Melody went on to explain the reasons of her intervention in a few brief sentences.
“Then Ochre and Symphony have escaped the robot?” Magenta concluded for her.
“Yes, Captain. They’re on their way down as we speak. Shall we pursue our attack on the King Kong robot? Now that Symphony is gone, he looks even angrier. He could prove more dangerous.”
“Let’s give Ochre and Symphony a few more minutes to leave the building,” Magenta recommended. “We wouldn’t want for them to become trapped in the elevator, while the fight rages on, would we?”
Melody nodded to herself. She was eager to get rid of the robot, but she could understand how it could jeopardise Ochre and Symphony’s safety. She certainly didn’t want that. “Of course not, Captain.”
“I’m still working with Mr. Doyle to regain control of the robot. Plus, I’ve received news from Cloudbase that there might be new developments soon in London. We’re still waiting for confirmation, but if we can stop the MIGHTEC without attacking it, we might prevent more property damage and have better chance to keep everyone safe. In the meantime, keep an eye on Kong and continue to buy us some time by keeping him busy.”
“S.I.G., Captain.” Melody changed channel again. “Melody Angel to Angel Squadron,” she called. “Get in formation, girls. We still have a job to do.”
* * *
With that apprehensive shout, Scarlet rushed forward to his friend’s rescue, fearful that he might have seriously hurt himself. Blue was sprawled on the floor in a prone position, moaning, and attempting with difficulty to get up. There were pieces of glass on the floor, right under the helmet, stained with dribbles of blood. Rhapsody was right behind Scarlet, ready to offer her help, while Doctor James was still in front of the automated laboratory, unsure what to do.
“Captain Scarlet?” he called apprehensively.
“Get that counteractive drug ready, Doctor!” Scarlet shouted back, waving at him to stay where he was. “We’ll need it as soon as you have it!”
Still hesitant, James turned back to the automated laboratory and started to work. On the far side of the room, the very unnerved Binx was screeching with obvious trepidation; visibly, the little monkey didn’t like all that commotion that much.
Scarlet couldn’t say he disagreed with him.
The English captain reached his colleague, and crouched down by his side. He put a helping hand on his naked shoulder, and like Doctor James before him, noticed how cold and clammy Blue’s skin was under his touch. He winced. Obviously, he was in an even worse way than he imagined; the experience he had just gone through must not have been an easy one.
“Take it easy, Adam,” he said reassuringly. “You probably should lie still, while I’ll help you out of this bloody helmet.”
He tried to compel his friend down, as gently but firmly as he could, but he felt Blue resisting him. More than that, he even felt Blue shudder and try to escape his hands, as if the merest touch was upsetting him. Scarlet frowned and looked up, meeting Rhapsody’s eyes. The young woman was watching fretfully, with her communicator still in hand, having forgotten all about her call to Cloudbase.
Scarlet turned his attention back to his friend. “He’s visibly in shock,” he said. “Rhapsody, I will need your help to – ”
Scarlet didn’t finish his sentence, as suddenly, with a roar of complete fury, Blue pushed himself to his knees and shook himself free of the English officer’s hands. With his closed fist, Blue’s left arm made a large arc, straight towards Scarlet’s face.
The latter stepped back, but was too slow to completely avoid his friend’s unexpected attack. Blue’s fist caught him squarely on the side of the head, sending him back. Rhapsody, who was approaching to help, couldn’t step away fast enough this time: her fiancé collided with her at full strength and she was thrown to the floor, the communicator escaping her hand.
Gasping, with his head reeling, Scarlet backed away, glancing down briefly in Rhapsody’s direction with some concern; the young woman appeared slightly shaken, but otherwise unhurt.
Scarlet reached for the spot where Blue had hit him and winced when he carefully felt it with his fingers and found it so sore and wet; he looked at his blood-stained fingers and grimaced.
“That wasn’t very nice,” he mumbled. “Rhapsody, are you okay?”
“I am,” his fiancée answered. “Took me by surprise, that’s all.”
Scarlet nodded and took a step forward to place himself between Rhapsody and Blue, who was pushing himself up completely.
He finally stood on shaky legs, breathing hard and grunting with effort. He raised his head and turned towards Scarlet; the front of the helmet was shattered on the left side, and Scarlet could see through the gap the cuts left on the American officer’s face, surrounding a bloodshot blue eye.
There was no recognition whatsoever in that eye. It was burning with complete rage and glaring ominously at Scarlet.
Blue wasn’t seeing a friend anymore.
He was only seeing someone whom he didn’t trust and had to destroy to get him out of his way.
* * *
Captain Ochre and Symphony had managed to hurry down the staircase to the fiftieth floor in record time, despite the Angel pilot’s injured ankle. They pushed the door leading to the main corridor and walked clear around the hole Ochre had nearly stepped into upon his arrival on the floor earlier. They then went directly towards the elevators, Ochre striding up front, and Symphony limping behind him. He pressed the button to call the lift and looked back at her in concern, as she leaned against the wall, and stopped for a brief moment to take a breather. She was pale as a sheet.
“You’re holding on?” he asked her.
She offered a sheepish smile. “I guess I’ll have to,” she replied. “Right now, I’m just cheering myself with happy thoughts of a nice bath of very hot water, with plenty of bubbles to calm my aching muscles.”
“I’m thinking it’ll take more than that to mend your broken bones,” Ochre commented. Frowning, he pressed the button for the elevator again, this time with impatience. The light on the button was on, but the door was taking an awful long time to open. He glanced at Symphony and smiled. “But maybe Adam could take care of that?” he offered teasingly.
“This time, I’ll settle for Doctor Fawn,” she confessed with a chuckle.
There was a chime and the light atop the door turned green, announcing the elevator had arrived. Ochre sighed with relief; it was about time too. They needed to get out of this building quickly, before the Angels initiated their attack on the Kong robot.
The door slid open and Ochre was about to step through – but he came to an abrupt halt, and held on with both hands on each side of the doorway to stop himself from going further.
The elevator wasn’t there. Instead, there was only the empty shaft, in the middle of which multiple rows of ruptured cables were dangling freely, shifting under a draft that hit Ochre in the face. He looked down in horror; the shaft seemed bottomless, going down near a thousand feet.
If he had not stopped himself in time, he would have fallen to his death.
“Sweet mother of God,” he whispered. Symphony leaned by his side to look with dread into the empty shaft in turn. She groaned with apprehension, and Ochre, carefully, held her back, concerned that she might lose her footing and fall.
“What just happened?” the young woman moaned. “You came this way, didn’t you?”
“I did,” Ochre answered. “By this elevator too…” He leaned forward, and looked up towards to the shaft’s roof; in the darkness, he could see part of the sky above. “Looks like Kong might have destroyed it between the moment I took it earlier and now…”
“A good thing he didn’t do it while you were inside,” Symphony remarked, shivering. “You could have been killed.”
Ochre turned to her. “He possibly did it when you escaped from him just now, and he destroyed part of that roof to get you back. He seems… I don’t know, quite attached to you. Losing you might have been a shock to him.”
Symphony grimaced. “Oh yeah… That stupid ‘Fay Wray’ thingy whatever... Well, he’s sure not getting me back.”
Ochre smiled thinly. “You’re Adam’s girl, and Adam’s only, right?”
“Shall we see if the other elevator is working, then?” She pointed to the next set of closed doors.
Ochre considered the idea, wondering if it was indeed safe to do. What if that elevator was damaged too? They didn’t want to fall fifty stories down to their death. Not after escaping the Kong robot.
“Maybe we ought to find the main maintenance stairs and get down that way,” he suggested.
“On foot?” Symphony had a look on dismay on her face. She was obviously thinking of her injured foot and that the task of going down fifty stories of stairs in her current state would possibly be beyond her.
Ochre smiled again, this time with an encouraging smile. “I’ll carry you,” he offered her. “But don’t tell Blue, or he might not like it.”
Symphony rolled her eyes and was about to reply when, just at that moment, the light at the top of the second elevator’s doors chimed and turned green.
Both Spectrum officers exchanged perplexed glances.
“This place’s been evacuated, right?” Symphony inquired.
“Completely,” Ochre confirmed. “Would you bet it’s Magenta coming over to get us? That idiot Irish fool, he was probably worried sick about us. He could have been killed getting into that elevator.”
“Like you could have been killed getting in the other earlier,” Symphony reminded him. “Well, I suppose that if it’s working now, maybe we can take it as well after all.”
Ochre moved in front of the elevator and Symphony followed to stand by his side, just as the doors slid open.
They froze at the scene that offered itself to their eyes.
Blondie O’Day was standing in the middle of the elevator, gagged, with her hands bound together in front of her. She was dishevelled, and her beautiful long hair was falling wildly around her terrified face; she was trembling and rolling terrified eyes at the two Spectrum officers, while the barrel of a gun was pressed against her shoulder.
The owner of that gun was standing slightly behind the actress, holding her by the arm to make sure she wouldn’t escape, glaring at both Symphony and Ochre with a cold, uncaring expression that they both knew very way.
“Step back, Earthmen,” Ida Quinton said ominously. “Or Fay Wray here is dead.”
* * *
With Symphony lost to him, Kong’s anger now seemed to know no bounds, and the giant ape freely vented his rage at the Angels coming right at him once more. He was pounding on his chest with such fury that the steel surface was starting to cave in, and the fake fur covering his mutilated torso was torn in many places. He didn’t seem to notice, nor did he seem to care; after all, he was a robot, and didn’t feel any pain.
But then again… why does it feel such fury? Melody mused for the nth time, chewing on her bottom lip. That doesn’t make sense at all.
Melody took point, just as Harmony positioned herself to her right and Destiny arrived on her left. She watched with fascination as Kong tore a huge chunk from the concrete roof to toss it in their direction. Fortunately, they were at a more than safe distance and it couldn’t reach them.
Melody followed the debris’ trajectory with her eyes; it was falling towards a half-empty parking lot down below. The Angel pilot could just imagine it would soon land right onto a car or two. With any luck, all vehicles down there were empty, and there would be no victim to Kong’s rage.
Kong picked up a new piece of debris – a smaller one – and threw it again it their direction. The result was no better than last time.
“If he keeps hurling those things, one of them will land on civilians,” the voice of Destiny remarked through the speaker embedded in Melody’s helmet.
“He’s getting completely out of control,” Harmony agreed.
“It does look like it.” Melody was keeping her eyes on the figure of Kong, which was getting bigger as the Angel squadron approached his position. The robot was now tugging with both hands at the giant antenna set in the middle of the roof, seemingly wanting to wrench it off its stand. Soon, unless Spectrum found a way to get the giant ape back under control, they would have little choice but to attack to stop it, before more damage was done and people got hurt.
“It might be time to put an end to it,” Melody muttered to herself. She felt sorry for both Ochre and Symphony and was worried for them; she didn’t know if they had managed to leave the building. She had received no news as yet, which could mean they were still inside. But she figured that if the Angel squadron could avoid hitting the building as much as possible and concentrate their fire directly on King Kong, then maybe that would buy their colleagues enough time to get away – or at least to put themselves at a safe enough distance from the fight.
They were capable people; she felt confident they would make it in one piece.
She lowered her helmet microphone. “Angel Leader to Cloudbase –”
“Look out, Melody!”
Destiny’s warning, overlapping with her own message, took Melody by surprise; she glanced ahead, to see that Kong’s gigantic efforts were astonishingly bearing fruit. He had somehow managed to twist the huge antenna, breaking it in the middle; the structure was starting to tip down…
… right in her direction.
Melody tried to pull her fighter out of its trajectory, but she knew it was already too late.
She pulled the ejection lever seconds before the tip of the falling antenna made contact with the end of her right wing.
* * *
“That damn signal is still blocking us out!”
Captain Magenta had always prided himself to be able to crack any computerised system in the world, but he had the impression right at this moment, as he was working with Arnie Doyle, that he had met his match. He had tried nearly every trick he knew to get control of the MIGHTEC back, but nothing had worked so far.
It was as if something supernatural was keeping him at bay, and counteracting every of his attempts with deadly effectiveness.
No. Not something supernatural, he reflected grimly. Something ‘Mysteron’.
They keep bragging they have powers beyond our comprehension. That must be true, then…
“He’s got one of them!”
The sudden commotion around made Magenta and Arnie raise their heads from their work and look about with some confusion. People had become more agitated, and the panic was palpable. They were looking up to the sky, and pointing – straight towards the top of the M.A.T. Tower. Magenta looked up, wondering what Kong could be up to this time.
With horror, he saw that the tip of the massive antenna adorning the top of the building was currently leaning down to the side – right in the trajectory of one of the Angel fighters which, despite all the efforts of its pilot, couldn’t possibly escape it.
* * *
Captain Ochre backed away, doing his best to keep himself between Symphony and the threatening Mysteron agent who was leaving the elevator, pushing the captive Blondie O’Day in front of her with her gun. He didn’t have his sidearm, unfortunately; somehow it wasn’t in its holster. The only moment he recalled where he could have lost it, was when he had fallen down the ladder, escaping King Kong. They had left in too much of a hurry after that, for him to realise he was just a little lighter.
Colonel White will have my hide for misplacing my gun, he told himself grimly. That is, if I survive long enough to face him again.
“How did you manage to get through the police lines down there?” he asked roughly. He waved at Blondie. “And with a hostage, no less.”
Ida chuckled. “Everybody was just too busy checking what was going with the big ape at the top of the building to really take any notice of what was going on around them,” she answered cheekily. “It was ridiculously easy to get inside shortly after you did, Captain Ochre, and to take the other elevator to get up here.”
With his eyes set on her gun, Ochre was still backing away from her approach, with Symphony still behind him, until they found themselves in front of the row of floor to ceiling windows and they had to stop.
“So what are your intentions now?” Ochre asked Ida.
“Now?” She waved her gun. “Well, I’m here to see the Mysterons’ threat through, as you can imagine. I’ll go on the roof with ‘Ann Darrow’ here. King Kong must be missing her.”
Blondie’s eyes opened wide with horror at these words; the thought of having to face Kong again was obviously terrifying for her. She protested through the gag and tried to get away, but Ida’s hand tightened on her arm and the gun pressed against her side. The actress froze instantly.
“Be quiet, or I won’t hesitate to kill you,” Ida warned her.
“What good will it do you to go up there?” Ochre harshly asked. “You know the story, right?”
“I was assistant to Peer Abramson, who’s directing the new King Kong movie,” Ida sighed, rolling her eyes with exasperation. “Of course, I know the story!”
“So you know that Ann Darrow has a calming effect on Kong,” Ochre continued. “He’s already in a destructive mood right now. If you go on the roof with Blondie, that will certainly not help the Mysterons’ cause.”
An evil smile spread on Ida’s lips. “That’s right, Kong is furious right now. And as you say, he loves his precious little blonde doll. So can you imagine how furious he’ll become when he’ll see Blondie over here… seconds before I throw her into the void to her death?” Blondie whimpered louder at these words and Ida had to squeeze her arm even tighter to keep her still, before chuckling wickedly. “That’ll surely send him off the deep end!”
“Are you for real?” Symphony suddenly shot with irritation, sidestepping on Ochre’s right in an attempt to escape from his protection. “That insane plan can’t possibly work… Kong doesn’t give a fiddle about that silly two-bit actress!”
Blondie nodded vigorously at Symphony’s comment – before all of the words suddenly sank in, and she turned an incensed look in her direction.
“Symphony, you’d better shut up,” Ochre demanded swiftly in a low voice. He was afraid she would say something she might regret before having thought it through.
But it was already too late.
“That’s right,” Ida suddenly realised. “Despite my best efforts to ensure this silly girl would go in the direction of the M.A.T. Complex, so Kong could carry out the Mysterons’ threat, the big dumb ape lost interest in her the minute you appeared. He seemed to have taken a fancy to you, for some reason.” She narrowed her eyes, looking at Symphony with suspicion. “Maybe that has something to do with that Spectrum officer in London who’s currently being used as the vehicle for controlling Kong.”
The revelation stunned Symphony. She looked at Ida with both confusion and incredulity. “Hang on… What?”
“Surely even the likes of you has heard of DNI technology?” Ida said, rolling her eyes once more.
“Direct Neural Interface,” Ochre swiftly answered, as much as a response to Ida as to inform Symphony of what it was that the Mysteron was talking about. “A technology used to create communication between the brain’s electrical activity and an external device… Rhapsody already suspected that it could be the technology used to control Kong… from London.” He tilted his head to one side. “She was right, then?”
“My colleagues in London needed a subject – unwilling, strong-minded, combative… someone who would be the perfect pawn in the Mysterons’ plan,” Ida explained, as with a furrowed brow, Symphony’s mind was processing all that information and attempting to figure out what it could mean exactly. “Once this subject’s submitted to the effects of disinhibiting drugs, he’d be like the most primal of beasts, unable to control his basic needs to break free and fight back violently. He’d then be used as the operating force for DNI control of the MIGHTEC – who would then wreak havoc and destroy M.A.T. from within.”
“That’s completely twisted, even for the Mysterons,” Ochre remarked dully.
“Blue!” Symphony suddenly realised, opening eyes wide with horror and understanding. She squeezed Ochre’s shoulders so hard that he felt her nails digging into his flesh. “Blue’s in London… Oh my God… they’re using him! It’s his mind controlling Kong!”
“It’s possible,” Ochre conceded with a brief nod, without turning around. Keeping his eyes fixed on Ida, he waited for an opening that would permit them to subvert her. “That sure would explain why King Kong went after you – and was unwilling to do you any harm. But then again, Scarlet wouldn’t hurt you either.”
“I’m sure this bitch is talking about Blue!” Symphony insisted. “I can feel it!”
“Now then, am I to think that there’s something going on between you and the subject chosen for this experiment?” Ida asked, looking straight at Symphony. She turned the barrel of her gun to her. “Well, in that case, I do think you’d make a much better bait for King Kong than Ms. O’Day here, don’t you agree? You will follow me willingly.”
“Over my dead body,” Ochre hissed between his teeth.
Ida aimed the gun at him, her face showing no emotion. “That can easily be arranged.”
Blondie emitted a loud whine through her gag and Symphony made a move to intervene; Ochre stepped forward. None of the protagonists seemed to have noticed the squealing sounds coming from outside, getting louder and louder during the last seconds – until it became so loud that it couldn’t be ignored anymore.
A shadow suddenly appeared on the other side of the windows, blocking part of the sun.
Glancing over his shoulder, Ochre thought he saw the outline of a Spectrum Angel.
Scarlet clucked his tongue and shook his head dejectedly. Blue was on edge, looking for a fight. It was obvious that only one false move would be enough for him to attack. He was dangerous in that state the disinhibiting drugs had put him in – lethal even, especially for Rhapsody and James, if he should turn against them.
At least that helmet on his head has been disconnected, he reflected. Which means contact with the MIGHTEC has been cut.
Doctor James had said that the effects of the disinhibitors would wear off in due course… Scarlet wondered if he couldn’t get Blue to burn through it faster, if he allowed him to vent his anger freely.
At least, that would distract him long enough for the counteractive drug to be ready for him.
Without looking at her, he waved at Rhapsody. “Get out of the way and try to keep a low profile,” he advised her.
Rhapsody nodded her understanding, and was about to get back to her feet, when a beeping sound attracted her attention and she looked around. On the floor, a few meters from her, lay her personal pen-like communicator, with a white light blinking at the top.
Cloudbase was trying to reach her, possibly wondering why she had suddenly cut contact earlier, without speaking to them.
“Captain Scarlet,” she said softly.
“I heard,” Scarlet answered. “Cloudbase’s hailing you. Try to get your communicator – discreetly – and call them back. I’ll try to keep Blue busy.”
At the sound of Scarlet’s voice, and seemingly sensing he was talking about him, Blue’s throat emitted a low rumble; it didn’t sound human at all. Rhapsody slowly got up and walked away from her fiancé who started to walk in the opposite direction, trying to keep Blue’s attention focussed on him, while keeping a safe distance from him.
He glanced quickly in Rhapsody’s direction; she was near her communicator, but she didn’t yet dare bend down to pick it up. He saw Blue’s attention shift towards the young woman and took a step forward towards him. Tersely, Blue looked back at him.
Scarlet could see his friend’s breathing accelerate and his body get tense. He looks like an animal getting ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, he realised.
“Come on, Blue,” he said between his teeth. “You really want to come to this?” He gave a slight shake of his head. “You know it could get messy.”
“It’s no use, Captain,” the voice of Arthur James suddenly called from the automated laboratory, causing Blue to look in his direction. “You won’t be able to reason with him, he doesn’t recognise you. He’s just like an animal right now.”
Scarlet grunted with irritation. “Doctor, would you shut up and not attract attention to yourself?” He was relieved when he saw Blue turning his head back to him. “You still have to work on that counteractive drug of yours,” Scarlet reminded the vet.
“It’s on its way,” James said, forcing his voice to be soft and calm, and waving at the console. “I entered the data and the machine is working on the drug right now.”
“How long before it’s ready?” Scarlet asked in a strong voice, so to keep Blue’s attention on him.
“A few minutes…”
“Oh, great,” Scarlet muttered. “Guess we’ll have to do this, then…” He waved invitingly at Blue. “Come on now, Big Blue. You want a piece of me? Then come and get it!”
His words seemed to spur his friend. With a terrifying snarl, Blue suddenly charged him.
Just as Scarlet engaged the fight with the out-of-control Captain Blue, Rhapsody frantically threw herself down to reach for her communicator.
* * *
“Oh my God…” Magenta watched helplessly as the antenna made contact with one of the Angel aircraft’s wings. He distinctly heard the sound of metal being torn under the impact and watched with horror as, part of its wing now cut off and its engine sputtering, the fighter jet went into a wild, uncontrolled spiral.
He saw a small speck emerging from the top of the Angel fighter, shooting into the sky high above the top of the M.A.T. Tower, and then, he witnessed the deployment of a white chute. At least, he thought with some relief, the pilot had made good her escape.
He swallowed hard, his eyes set on the Angel craft, wondering with dread what direction it would take, where it would fall, what damage it would do and how many victims there would be when it hit…
He felt absolutely helpless.
* * *
“Angel One has been hit!”
Upon hearing Lieutenant Green’s urgent announcement, Colonel White’s seat spun around to face the large screen behind him. In the last instants, the Spectrum commander had been busy attempting to raise Rhapsody Angel, after the young woman, having hailed Cloudbase, had so abruptly cut communication without uttering a single word. Whatever was happening in London had to be serious for her not to answer his hailing, but now something even more concerning was demanding his attention.
On one of the images relayed by the cambots on the screen, he could see that one of the Angels was going down, after being hit by the giant antenna that previously stood at the top of the M.A.T. Tower.
“Melody had time to eject, sir,” Lieutenant Green reported, after feverishly checking on his screen the data relayed from the downed aircraft’s computer.
White acknowledged the information. He could indeed see on the screen the deployed parachute of the pilot’s seat. They had to assume Melody was safe, until she was able to contact them.
But there was still the Angel fighter now without any control, threatening to crash on innocent bystanders…
Without more consideration, Colonel White flicked a small transparent plastic cover on his desk and his open hand slammed onto a large button marked ‘One’.
On the screen, the out-of-control Angel jet exploded into a large ball of fire.
* * *
Anticipating the worst, and taking advantage of Ida’s surprise, Captain Ochre pushed Symphony Angel to the ground and threw himself at the Mysteron agent. He never actually reached her as, almost at the same instant, the Angel interceptor which had just appeared on the other side of the windows suddenly exploded in a blinding fiery ball; the force of the blast shattered the windows and the blast rushed in, bringing fragments, fire and heat inside, and throwing everyone down. Ochre felt the heat of the deflagration through the back of his tunic, as he hit the floor. He saw both Blondie and Ida falling, unable to keep on their feet; a gust of wind swept the Mysteron away through the shattered windows with a cry that was drowned out by the thunderous deflagration.
Good riddance, he thought soberly.
He stayed flat on the floor, keeping his head down under both his arms. He couldn’t see Symphony, but he certainly hoped she was all right.
All they could do for now was to wait, until it would be safe to stand up again.
* * *
“Thunderstroke self-destruction protocol engaged at nine hundred feet,” Green announced swiftly, reading from his screen, as Colonel White turned his head to glance at him. “Angel One…” The young lieutenant read the rest of the data to make sure of the information, while his commander turned his attention back to the screen, where the explosion was dying out. “… Complete destruction, sir.”
White blew a deep sigh. The powerful explosion of the Angel fighter’s highly combustible colboltibe fuel had blown the plane into tiny fragments, too small to cause much injury to bystanders. However, the same couldn’t be said for property damage. On the screen, he could see that the fragments had hit the side of the M.A.T. Tower, and that windows had burst, and fire could be seen through the torn opening.
The Spectrum commander remembered there were at least two people inside that building, and he hoped that, if they were near that explosion, they had managed to get to safety without being hurt.
The MIGHTEC, however, didn’t seem to have suffered that much from it. The blast had not reached it – regretfully. He was still on his feet, banging on his chest, challenging the remaining Angels to come and get him.
If he didn’t know better, White would have sworn he was celebrating his victory over Angel One.
On the higher portion of the screen, he could see the white parachute descending… The jet boosters from the pilot’s seat had taken her high into the sky, some two hundred feet above the M.A.T. Tower.
Unfortunately, it was now slowly taking her down toward the top of that same building…
…Where the MIGHTEC still stood.
Colonel White swore under his breath and swiftly opened a radio channel directly from his desk. “Destiny Angel,” he called in a stentorian voice.
“Sir!” was the immediate answer.
“You are now Angel Leader! Melody is about to land on the roof of the M.A.T. Tower. Protect her at all costs, and destroy that infernal robot before he kills her or someone else!”
White closed the channel and turned to Green. “Contact Captain Magenta right away, Lieutenant, and tell him that the MIGHTEC is now going down.”
“S.I.G., Colonel,” Green replied, turning to his station.
White punched the next communication button on his desk.
“Rhapsody Angel,” he barked. “Please report!”
* * *
Melody Angel was looking down with dread; her parachute, over which she had no control whatsoever because of the particularly high winds that day, was bringing her to the last place she wanted to be at that precise moment: straight onto the roof of the M.A.T. building.
Fortunately, the two remaining Angels were keeping the King Kong robot busy, flying over and around him, and firing small missiles at him that seemed to have the approximate effect of bee stings on his robotic body. They did some superficial damage, burning the fake fur, tearing apart his metallic ‘skin’, but as he didn’t feel any discomfort, it wasn’t stopping him; as long as his mechanical joints were working, he would continue to be fully operational.
The Angels would need to use more powerful firepower, but it was obvious to Melody that they didn’t dare do it at the moment, because she was so close to the line of fire and they might hit her.
Melody’s feet had nearly reached the surface of the roof, with Kong still thankfully unaware of her presence. If her luck held on a little longer, she might still get out of this mess alive. Once she had landed, she would free herself from her seat, and would make a break towards the opening which used to be the trap door that Symphony had gone through earlier. She would then be able to get away from Kong, and the Angels would be free to complete their task and destroy the monster.
But just as she was making these plans, Melody felt a violent tug from above and her descent stopped abruptly; instinctively, she raised her arms to get a hold of the suspension lines. The straps around her body tightened around her and the seat was pulled back, banging against a hard surface, making her gasp in surprise. Her right arm became completely entangled with the lines, and she could barely move the left one.
She looked up to discover that her chute had twisted itself around the ragged top of the broken antenna, which stood now about thirty feet high.
She was trapped, dangling barely a foot away from the surface of the roof, and unable to free herself.
She watched in fear as Kong, only a few meters away from her, was still raging against the Angels attacking him. If he should turn around, he would discover her, and then… She didn’t dare hope that he would be as magnanimous with her as he had been with Symphony.
I simply cannot pass as Fay Wray, she thought with fatalism. I’m just not blonde enough…
She lowered her helmet microphone.
“Melody Angel to Angel Squadron,” she gasped. “I’m stuck over here, girls… You’d better do something fast and get that monster down before he turns against me.”
* * *
Planting his feet firmly on the floor, Captain Scarlet thought that he was ready to receive the full weight of Captain Blue’s charge, but wasn’t quite prepare to face the fury that currently possessed his friend. With a blood-curling roar, Blue had tackled him like a raging bull and had pushed him against the consol behind him. Scarlet grunted, feeling the air expelled from his lungs, and his ribs complain against the assault. Gritting his teeth, he found he had no alternative but to retaliate; he punched his friend in the face… but only managed to hurt his knuckles on the hard surface of the helmet. He let out a yelp of pain.
A short distance away, while Scarlet was courageously keeping Blue distracted, Rhapsody Angel had managed to pick up her communicator… and turned it on at the same instant as a voice suddenly boomed impatiently out from the speaker:
“Rhapsody Angel, please report!”
Talk about the nick of time, Rhapsody reflected. She swiftly answered the call: “Rhapsody Angel here, sir.”
“What on Earth is going on down there?” Colonel White thundered.
“Sir… we have some trouble over here.”
“The same in Los Angeles! The King Kong robot is now totally out of control!”
“W-what?” The news astounded Rhapsody and she looked in dismay at Captain Scarlet, still fighting Captain Blue.
“Did you manage to cut the source of the signal controlling the robot?” Colonel White requested.
“I… I thought we did.” She looked on helplessly as Scarlet still had his hands full with Blue; somehow he was able to keep him at bay, punching him high and low as hard as he could, but obvious he wasn’t quite able to wear him down.
The English captain was hearing every word that was exchanged between Colonel White and the Angel pilot. The Spectrum commander was speaking loudly enough.
“Captain Blue is out of control as well,” Rhapsody reported. “Is it possible the link with the MIGHTEC is still on?”
“We got him out of the operator’s cabin…” Scarlet remarked in a gasping but sufficiently loud voice, as he landed a powerful uppercut straight into Blue’s stomach. “The wires connecting the operating helmet to the machine are broken. The signal should be cut!”
“No, no,” Doctor James then swiftly interrupted, leaving the automated laboratory to approach Rhapsody. “Those wires… they probably had nothing to do with the DNI control…” He pointed to the screens over the huge console on which the two Mysteronised agents were working before being killed; they were currently blank. “They must have been connected to the system, so Doctor Gordon and Doctor George could monitor your friend through scanners and see through his eyes what was going on in Los Angeles. Remember the images we could see on these screens.”
“But I thought the helmet was necessary for the DNI control,” Rhapsody replied.
“It is! But the DNI control on this helmet must be like a ‘wireless’ connection of sort… We have to remove this thing from his head, if we are to cut that signal which links your friend to the MIGHTEC.”
“Then do it!” the voice of Colonel White barked. He had heard the exchange. He had no idea who that person was over there with Scarlet and Rhapsody and he didn’t care; the man seemed to have the knowledge necessary to help his agents accomplish their mission.
“Easier said than done!” Scarlet shouted. It was a second before Blue tackled him again and sent him crashing against the working table. He pushed the American off him with a kick in the side.
“What is going on over there?” Colonel White demanded, hearing the commotion. “If you’re unable to cut that signal, I’ll have no choice but to order an airstrike against the robot!”
“Sir,” Rhapsody said in alarm, “you can’t!”
“Captain Ochre succeeded in freeing Symphony, but the robot managed to down Melody Angel’s jet. She had time to eject, and I used the Thunderstroke protocol to destroy it before it crashed… But now, Melody is trapped on the roof, and when the robot discovers her, he will kill her. We have to destroy that thing!”
“No, you don’t understand, sir,” Rhapsody replied, hoping she could speak fast enough to convince her commander before his decision would irremediably be taken. “If the robot is destroyed while Captain Blue is still wearing that helmet, the feedback may have disastrous consequences for him!”
At that moment, a loud crash coming from the two fighters’ direction made her spin around… just in time for her to see Blue, still wearing the helmet, giving a vicious head-butt to Scarlet’s face. The English captain, still suffering from his earlier blow to the head, proved a little too slow, and Blue backhanded him violently, sending him down straight into the operator’s cabin. Scarlet wasn’t able to control his fall, and his head hit the sharp edge of the door.
Stunned, he flopped onto the floor.
* * *
Captain Ochre stood up on his feet; with the windows completely shattered, the wind now gusted into the building and was so strong it threatened to sweep him off his feet. He looked at the surrounding destruction. The inside walls had almost been completely blown away from the deflagration and part of the supporting structure had been bared down to the steel beams; Furniture had been tossed around, and reduced to ruins; there wasn’t anything left on their feet.
He heard groaning behind him and turned around to see Symphony, sat on the floor, and visibly trying to pull herself together.
Of Blondie O’Day, he could see no sign of. Perhaps, he thought, the actress had followed the mysteronised Ida Quinton through the shattered windows. Which was possible, since the two women stood so closely to each other.
He quickly went to Symphony. “Are you all right, honey?”
“Yeah,” she answered in a strangled voice. She coughed, clearing her throat, and asked: “What the devil just happened?”
Ochre shook his head slowly, unsure if he should tell. He realised just then that his epaulettes were flashing a dark pink. He wondered if Magenta had been calling him for long.
He was lucky he had not lost his radiocap in the explosion. At least, something the colonel will not be able to reproach me for, he thought.
He lowered his microphone. “Ochre to Magenta…”
He immediately heard the frantic voice of his partner. “About time you answered! Are you and Symphony both okay?”
“Yeah,” Ochre answered with a sigh. “Yeah, we’re okay…” He watched as Symphony took her communicator from her pocket, grimacing as she did. Her already injured ribs had taken a beating when she had been thrown on the floor by the explosion. She was apparently in a lot of pain.
“Hi, Captain Magenta,” she answered in a slightly slurred voice. “We’re both all right… Was that… an Angel jet that we just saw exploding?”
Ochre shook his head. Well, she saw that too…
“Yes,” Magenta answered. “It was Angel One. Kong managed to get it… Don’t worry, Melody was able to bail out though,” he added quickly, sensing that his friends might feel concerned over the news. “Cloudbase safely destroyed the plane before it crashed on the ground and caused more damage.”
“Wait… Melody’s plane?” Ochre repeated. “And you say that she was able to eject? She’s okay, then?”
“Well, that’s the problem, Ochre… Her ‘chute landed her right on the roof.”
“On the roof?!” Ochre almost shrieked into his microphone, startling Symphony in the process. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“You know I would not joke about something like that, Ochre. She’s now trapped on the roof. Kong hasn’t seen her yet, but he might discover her at any second now, and – ”
“I’m going to get her!”
“Wait, Ochre, don’t do anything rash… Kong is still up there, and the Angels might attack at any moment.”
“I don’t care, I – ”
“Adam!” The sudden exclamation from Symphony made Ochre look at her with perplexity. Her eyes were wide open with realisation. “Adam’s mind is controlling King Kong!” she said quickly.
He hesitated. “Symphony, we cannot be sure. For all we know, that Mysteronised broad could have been lying through her teeth…”
“What’s that about?” Magenta asked through the speakers, obviously at a loss about what they were talking about.
“To what purpose?” Symphony objected, ignoring the Irish officer’s intervention. “Captain, I’m sure of this. They’ve been using Blue’s mind to control the robot with that IND control.”
“DNI,” Ochre corrected her. “But Symphony…”
“I don’t know where you got your information, but I can confirm this,” Magenta then interrupted. “I’ve got the news from Cloudbase: the Mysterons are indeed using Blue’s mind to control Kong through DNI.”
“My God!” Symphony brought her hands to her mouth, and gasped. “I knew it,” she added in a quivering voice. “I had that terrible feeling… How is he? I mean, is he okay… Is he…”
“As far as I know, he’s all right,” Magenta reported. “He has not been Mysteronised, if you’re worried about that, and he’s being used against his will. But he’s trapped in whatever device they’re using to control Kong. Scarlet and Rhapsody are currently working to free him. We’re waiting for news from them.”
“So he’s still… there?” Symphony said, furrowing her brow. “His mind is still controlling Kong?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. But he’s been fed with some kind of experimental drug, and he’s not really in control as such and – ”
“I’m sure I can get through to him if I talk to Kong,” Symphony declared suddenly.
“What?” Ochre scowled at her. “Have you lost your mind?”
“I second that question,” Magenta piped up. “Symphony, he will not recognise you! He’s not himself.”
“No, I just know I can do it. You weren’t there, either of you. You cannot know how Kong was listening to me, how gentle he was, whenever I talked to him. He wouldn’t hurt me.”
“He broke your ribs,” Ochre reminded her. “Possibly your ankle.”
“That was an accident. He didn’t really mean it.”
“That’s what all battered wives say about their husbands.”
“Don’t be silly, Captain,” Symphony admonished him. “I can save Melody, before Kong hurts her. I can go up there, talk to him… Now that I know that Adam is behind him, that it’s his mind that’s controlling Kong. I can reach for him. He’ll listen to me. Remember how furious Kong became when you took me away from him? If he sees me, he’ll calm down. I know he will!”
“Of all the cockeyed ideas…” Ochre muttered and swallowed the rest. “Okay, let’s do it then,” he finally conceded. “I’ll go with you.”
“Ochre, you’re not serious?” Magenta protested.
“Now you are the one who’s lost his mind,” Symphony replied. “You took me from Kong. The minute he sees you, he’ll pop your head off like a bottle cap.”
“I’m not leaving you to –”
“Captain Ochre, wait,” Symphony suddenly interrupted him. She was hearing something, just at the limit of her hearing. She wasn’t sure; after that explosion, her ears were ringing a bit. “Do you hear that?” she asked his companion.
Ochre listened in turn, and then heard it too. It was a voice, coming from nearby, calling faintly:
“Help! Please somebody, you’ve got to help me!”
They both turned towards the shattered windows, where that voice was coming from; Ochre strode to the edge, and Symphony, getting up, limped after him. They looked down, with some edginess.
I hope it’s not that Mysteronised woman, who somehow survived the blast, Ochre thought gloomily.
Although he didn’t know many Mysteron agents who would freely call for help – unless as part of a plan to lull people’s suspicions and trick them.
As both Spectrum officers looked down, they discovered that it wasn’t Ida Quinton calling for help, but actually actress Blondie O’Day. The bonds holding the young woman’s hands together had been caught on the broken side casing of a window, on the floor just below. She was sitting in a rather precarious position, at the edge of the window, her legs dangling into empty space, holding on for dear life to the very thing that was keeping her from falling hundreds of feet to her death. Somehow, she had managed to remove her gag, and seeing Symphony and Ochre standing there just overhead, she screamed again for help, despair and tears filling her voice.
“Help! Please! Help me! I don’t want to fall!”
“What do you think?” Ochre asked his companion. “Could she be a Mysteron, like that other girl who had taken her hostage?”
Symphony shrugged. “With no way to make sure, we can’t very well leave her there. We’ll figure it out after you help her.”
He turned to face her. “Me?”
“We’re wasting time, Rick,” the young woman replied turning to face his scowling expression. “You’ve got to save that woman…” She stood up on tiptoe to plant a sudden kiss on his cheek. “… And I’ve got to save your girlfriend from my fiancé.”
He was still unsure when she turned around, not waiting for his answer, but he did nothing to stop her, and she ran as fast as she could towards the door leading to the maintenance stairs to the roof. She was right, and he hated having to leave her go that way.
Distractedly, he wondered how she could run so fast on her injured ankle. She was barely limping.
“Let the record show that I was totally against that idea,” the voice of Magenta said into his ears.
“Shut up,” Ochre groused. “She’s right, damn it. If anyone can get through to Blue by talking to Kong, it’s certainly her.”
He turned on his heel and looked down at Blondie, still in her precarious position, looking up to him with sheer desperation.
“Please, help me,” she sobbed in a little voice.
“I’m coming,” he answered, more roughly than he really intended to. “Just hold on, I need to find a way to get down there.” He spoke into his microphone to address Magenta again. “I need a favour, Magenta – if Greenwood is still nearby, please ask him where I can find the main maintenance staircase. There is no way I’m going to take an elevator in this building again.”
* * *
“Oh my God,” Rhapsody whispered.
With Captain Scarlet lying unconscious at his feet, Blue turned slowly around, and glared at the young woman with a murderous expression in his bloodshot eye. He took a few steps towards her, seemingly completely oblivious of Arthur James, who stood only a few feet away from Rhapsody, and who was now looking with dismay at the downed Scarlet. Completely scared stiff, he stood absolutely still, didn’t dare to move one inch, and was barely breathing, afraid to attract attention to himself. He looked with concern as Blue approached Rhapsody; the young woman slowly backed away, apprehensively presenting her hand to him, palm up, in a gesture that she hoped appeared reassuring.
“Adam,” she said in a soothing voice. “Please, get a hold of yourself… You wouldn’t want to do something you’ll regret later.”
“Rhapsody, what’s going on?”
The voice of Colonel White coming from the communicator seemed to prompt Blue into action. With a terrifying snarl, he suddenly charged her. Rhapsody, heart pounding, took one last step back, and seized with both hands the working console against which she found herself. Her communicator dropped to the floor.
“No!” Courageously, Arthur James rushed to offer himself as a shield for Rhapsody, fully aware that he was no match for the Spectrum officer who, in his normal state, he had no doubt would easily dispose of him. In this enraged condition, the vet fully expected him to completely tear him apart.
But Blue never reached his target. Coming out of nowhere at lightning speed, Binx leapt onto the American captain’s bare back, screeching with ferocity and baring impressive fangs and claws… and savagely bit the Spectrum officer in the shoulder, cutting his charge short.
* * *
It was obvious to Colonel White that something serious was happening in London; communication was cut again and what he had heard just before he lost contact with Rhapsody, was enough to convince him that his agents’ lives were at risk.
“Lieutenant Green, call Captain Forrest, and order him to enter the M.A.T. Building in London,” he swiftly instructed his aide. “Code S.I.R.: officers in danger. He’s fully authorised to use whatever force necessary, even lethal, if there is a need for it.”
“S.I.G., sir,” Green answered, turning to his station.
White pressed another button on his desk. “Cloudbase to Angel Leader,” he called. “Do not, I repeat, do not initiate destructive attack against the MIGHTEC.” He paused for a second, before adding: “Wait for my signal.”
* * *
Melody was still frantically trying to free herself from her precarious position, but with no avail. The more she struggled, the more she became entangled in her own parachute. The seat on which she was imprisoned was weighing her down heavily, and she didn’t have enough purchase to pull herself out of this trap. The Angels were doing their best to keep Kong busy, and the fact that he was blind with fury seemed like it would play in her favour – until he discovered her, that was… In which case, he would certainly turn that rage against her, and reduce her to a messy muddle of blood before she would even have the time to scream.
And then, it happened; he turned slightly around and noticed the parachute tangled with the huge antenna. Forgetting momentarily about the Angels, he turned fully to examine it, snorting with curiosity. Melody held her breath and didn’t dare to move; he had not seen her as yet, only the large white drape wrapped around the top of the broken antenna seemed to have attracted his attention. She knew it would only be a question of time.
Kong’s huge fingers tentatively touched the fabric of the parachute; he grunted, seemingly unsure. He tilted his head to one side, then the other. He let out a loud snort of contempt, visibly not impressed – and even seemed to consider this strange new object with some mistrust.
His eyes lowered, discovered the suspension lines fixed to the drape of the chute, and they followed them down, slowly, to finally discover the seat attached to them…
… And the young woman, strapped into that seat, completely still, and looking up at him with fear.
Melody’s heart was already hammering against her ribcage; she thought it would escape from her chest.
Kong snorted again, louder and Melody saw him scowl with irritation. She tried to swallow, but the lump in her throat didn’t want to go down.
That’s it… I’m dead.
She gasped in terror, completely paralysed and unable to scream, when Kong bellowed at her.
* * *
“He’s going to kill her!” Destiny suddenly shouted in alarm, her heart missing a beat when, through her cockpit, she saw the threatening King Kong leaning in front of Melody, banging his closed fists against his chest in fury.
“No choice now, Angel Squadron,” she heard the voice of Colonel White say urgently through the speakers of her helmet. “Come in to attack and destroy! And shoot accurately so not to hit Melody!”
“S.I.G.!” Destiny answered eagerly. “Harmony, come on! It’s up to us now to save her!”
Angels Two and Three veered in unison, and flew directly to the top of the M.A.T. Tower, aiming at the King Kong robot.
* * *
Arthur James blinked in surprise at the sight of the normally gentle Binx suddenly going feral, in a way similar to what he had seen the day before. This time around, however, the little macaque wasn’t under the influence of Doctor George’s dreadful disinhibiting drugs. He seemed to have attacked the charging Spectrum officer with the sole purpose of saving his human friends. James knew enough of the primates’ social behaviour to know that they could be very protective of their families. Born in captivity, and having little contact with other members of his species, Binx had been around humans all of his life, and had grown as close to them as he would have been to any of his kin. There was no doubt in James’ mind that Binx viewed him as the closest he could have to a family.
The small monkey had managed to hurt Captain Blue, biting deep into his shoulder and drawing blood, and he was holding on to him, seemingly not wanting to let go. But the Spectrum officer was out of control, totally under the disinhibitor’s spell, unable to think, or to be reasoned with. He couldn’t recognise friend from foe and for him, there was just the crazed and wild instinct to fight back and run amok until there was no-one to fight and nothing to destroy. He wouldn’t stop until the effects of the drugs had dispersed from him.
For Blue, Binx was just another aggressive creature threatening him and which he had to get rid of. Crying out with pain and complete fury, he was trying to tear the lithe monkey from his back. So far, he was unsuccessful, but should he get his hands on his opponent…
“Binx!” James shouted, afraid that his small furry friend would get seriously injured. “Get away from him! He’ll kill you!”
It was unclear if Binx actually heard the call from his human friend, or if he even acted upon it, but nearly at the same moment, he let go of his adversary, avoiding his hands just in time, and jumped off his back with a loud, shrilling bark; he ran on all fours towards the other end of the room. With a hoarse cry of pain, Blue fell on one hand and knees, reaching for his sore shoulder with his other hand. Blood was flowing from Binx’s vicious bite, but although the wound looked impressive, it didn’t seem like it would endanger the Spectrum officer’s life.
And it didn’t look like it would calm him down either.
When Blue raised his head again, James could see his face was even more distorted with rage than before, and that the same fierceness was burning in the only eye he could see through the gap of his helmet.
From the other side of the room, he heard a chiming sound and he glanced in that direction. There was a green light on the automated laboratory panel, indicated that the counteractive drug was now available, and ready to use. He could just make out the small phial, filled with an opaque liquid, which had emerged at the top of the container unit, after the various components had been flawlessly mixed following the analysed data.
But it was too late; he couldn’t get to it safely. Not fast enough anyway.
James stepped back, getting ready for new attack, determined to protect the young woman he knew was standing behind him.
* * *
Melody watched with dread as Kong, after banging his chest and venting his anger in a thunderous roar that almost deafened her, fell on all fours and leaned down to glare directly at her. He looked even more impressive now, with the left part of his head unprotected by the fake fur and showing the mechanical structure and electronics beneath. The red eye seemed alight with something malevolent – at least, that was the impression the young woman had, as it coldly contemplated her. It was a definite contrast with the right eye, which looked very much alive and real… and strangely, seemingly animated with feelings of its own.
Kong raised one of his hands and moved it towards her; desperately, Melody tried to escape, but she still could barely move. Most of the huge fingers had lost their fur, and all she could see was a mechanical hand with hydraulic joints coming to get her. Melody started hyperventilating, and looked away.
The monstrous fingers reached her but, unexpectedly, started to stroke the young woman’s helmet, very gently.
Melody held her breath and stayed very still. Maybe the robot recognised the uniform as the same worn by Symphony. Maybe he would think she was his precious lost treasure returned to him… Perhaps he wouldn’t hurt her, after all.
But then, Kong seemed to realise she wasn’t Symphony, and the life-like eye on his face furrowed deeply; he roared in frustration and stood on his rear feet, raising his right arm in a threatening gesture.
Melody gasped and closed her eyes, fully expecting him to squash her. In the distance, she could hear the engines of upcoming fighter jets.
And then, she heard the sound of a cannon firing, and the explosion of a missile impacting on a target.
Melody opened her eyes; Kong was stumbling back from her, a smouldering hole having appeared in his right shoulder where a missile had obviously hit him. An Angel flew by at reduced speed, and there was the sound of another shot. A new missile impacted on the robot’s chest, forcing him back one more step.
Melody looked up with hope; the Angels were circling around, attacking the monster relentlessly, keeping it at away from her, making sure he would not hurt her. They were mindful to only fire shots they were sure would not reach her either and it was obvious they were not using enough firepower to utterly destroy the robot, so not to expose her to any danger. They were apparently buying her time.
She lowered her helmet microphone.
“Destiny!” she rasped.
“Hang on, Melody!” She heard the voice of her French friend. “We’ll keep him away while you get yourself free!”
“I cannot free myself!” she answered with an oppressed voice. “I’m totally stuck here, like in a spider web!” She swallowed hard and clenched her teeth. “Attack that robot with all you’ve got and destroy it!”
“If we do that, you might get caught in the crossfire,” Destiny protested.
“I know that, but there is no other way. While it’s still there, there’s nothing you can do for me.” She took a deep breath and added, optimistically: “Once the robot is destroyed, you’ll be able to come and fetch me.”
There was a brief silence at the other end of the line, while another missile hit Kong again, on the back of one of his legs. He hollered in fury and fell on one knee.
Then Melody heard Destiny’s voice again:
“S.I.G.,” the Frenchwoman answered with some reluctance. “Hang on tight… We’ll be coming for you.”
“S.I…” Melody’s voice suddenly caught in her throat when she realised that Kong, ignoring the latest attack, was coming back, with his right arm raised high. With determination, he grabbed the top of the antenna and she felt it shaking.
The next rocket that exploded against his shoulder was more powerful, and Melody had to close her eyes and look away, as debris and fire started to rain on her.
Kong’s next roar was even more thunderous than before; and was it her imagination, but was he bellowing in pain, rather than in rage? That was an impossibility.
There was another explosion, and Kong let go of the antenna; he stepped back, his mechanical right arm still raised into the air and visibly damaged. It looked like it was permanently locked into that position, and that he was unable to lower it. He didn’t seem to understand it. He certainly didn’t like it.
He growled again, and attempted to step forward, his eyes set on Melody. She could read her death in them.
The third missile exploding against his shoulder was even more powerful than the previous one, and the joint attaching his arm to his body creaked loudly. Kong backed away, and another rocket hit him, in a huge ball of fire.
His right arm separated from his shoulder, the metallic joints breaking, and the electric wires snapping loudly. The amputated mechanical limb bounced against the side of the building, before dropping down from it, straight to the ground below.
A fighter jet flew by Kong’s head. It didn’t have the sleek white outline of the Angel jet.
It was the bulkier, darker shape of a bronze Copperhead craft.
* * *
“Yahoo! That’s what I call a perfect shot!”
Billy ‘Cobra’ Plissken aligned his craft into formation with the two Angel jets which were veering quickly to come back for another assault on the King Kong robot. Through his cockpit, the W.A.A.F pilot waved at Destiny, who was looking at him.
“Hi, Angel squadron,” he said into his helmet microphone. “You wouldn’t mind me tagging along for that one, would you?”
Destiny heaved a heavy sigh. As a former W.A.A.F member, she knew of Plissken’s reputation – obviously, she didn’t know him as well as Melody seemed to – and she was aware that he wasn’t the kind of man to stay out of a fight if he knew he could lend a hand. She had to admit, although his insistence could be annoying, that she wasn’t that unhappy to see him there. She had no doubt she and Harmony could take care of Kong on their own, but with the Copperhead by their side, they would make a faster and more efficient job of it.
“You are more than welcome to stay, Copperhead Leader,” she told their newfound companion. “Your help will be appreciated, as long as you remember that this is a Spectrum operation, and that I call the shots.”
“All right by me, Angel Leader,” Plissken answered with a joyous – much too joyous, from Destiny’s point of view – voice. “Say, if you don’t mind me asking… where’s the Angel girl with the nice Southern Belle accent? Not that I don’t like yours, mind you...”
Destiny rolled her eyes. That sweet-talking was also part of Plissken’s reputation.
“That’s Melody. That’s her, down there on the roof,” she explained. “She had to eject when Kong destroyed her Angel.”
“So that’s her we have to protect against the monster?”
“You’ve got that right, Copperhead.”
“Roger, Angel Leader… Sorry, S.I.G., I mean. It’s your call, then. I’m just here to lend a hand.”
“Right,” Destiny said. “Then let’s do that one more time.”
“Destiny!” Harmony’s voice suddenly sounded into her speaker. “The King Kong robot… It’s getting back to Melody!”
“I thought that last shot would teach him not to touch a pretty girl who says ‘no’!” Plissken commented. His words might have sounded facetious, but the tone of his voice certainly betrayed the concern he currently felt.
“Then let’s show him again,” Destiny replied with determination. “And this time, let’s make it count.”
* * *
“Stay back, Doctor!”
James was stunned when he heard Rhapsody’s voice ringing out clearly and firmly behind him; he felt for sure that the young woman was paralysed with fear. He obeyed the order more out of surprise than anything else; he saw her swiftly stepping forward to dash straight at Blue. There was something in her hands, and he wasn’t quite able to make it out.
“Adam, I love you like a brother, but I’ll be damned if I let you get your hands on me. This is for your own good.”
If was only when the young woman violently swung her improvised weapon onto the exposed part of Captain Blue’s head, that Arthur James recognised what it was: it was the large and now empty fruit bowl, that had previously been on the table and from which Binx kept eating.
It broke under the impact, and it was with a hoarse moan that Blue collapsed to the floor. Astounded, James looked at Rhapsody, who stood before the downed man.
“Now, Arthur!” she shouted at him in an authoritative voice. “Get that antidote, quick!”
James hastened towards the automated laboratory. He got the phial out of the unit, and fumbled through the drawers, looking for an unused syringe. Although there were many instruments in there, he couldn’t find the one thing he was looking for.
After long seconds that seemed like an eternity, he found an injection gun, at the bottom of the last drawer; he just needed to insert the phial into the plug.
He turned around – to see in dismay that Captain Blue was already attempting to raise himself from where he had fallen.
What will it take to keep him down for long enough to inject him with this stuff?
And then, coming unexpectedly from behind Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet appeared, with a fresh injury to his brow and a determined expression on his face, and caught his colleague in an arm and neck lock.
“Now that’ll be enough, Blue!”
* * *
Symphony Angel had climbed the metal maintenance stairs of the last two storeys as fast as she could, ignoring the pain from her left ankle. She realised it must not be broken after all, or she wouldn’t be able to walk on it at all, let alone run like she had. Possibly it was only sprained.
She had reached the access ladder, almost torn from the concrete wall; she could see the hole pierced by Kong earlier, through which the light of day was coming. There were loud sounds of turbo jets, explosions and bestial roars coming from over there and all around. It was a crashing cacophony that was almost head-splitting and which made it difficult to think.
She almost didn’t hear the beeping from her personal communicator. If she had not felt it vibrating inside of her breast pocket, she might not have even noticed that someone was hailing her.
The colour of the light at the top of the pen-like device informed her who her caller was.
“Captain Magenta?” she almost shouted into the mic.
She had trouble hearing the reply. “My God… it sounds like a war where you are. Have you reached the roof?”
Symphony looked up to the hole over her head. “Just about!” she answered.
“The Angels have initiated attack on the MIGHTEC. Going up there might be hazardous.”
“Melody is still there, isn’t she?”
“Yes, trapped in the lines of her parachute. She cannot free herself.”
“Then I’ll go up there anyway,” Symphony replied. “I might be able to help her.”
“I can’t believe you’re going back up there after all that effort to get you down! You’d better be careful, Symphony! The robot is totally out of control. ”
“S.I.G.” Symphony didn’t leave Magenta the time to utter another argument. With determination, she climbed up the steps of the now wobbly ladder.
She emerged straight into a warzone, nearly underneath the antenna. She fought the urge to cover her ears, so loud were the sounds assaulting her. There was destruction everywhere; the roof barely resembled anything she remembered of it. And she had left it less than twenty minutes before.
She instantly spotted Melody, struggling to free herself, her seat bumping under her vain efforts. She was so entangled in the parachute lines that it was indeed impossible for her to get free on her own. Kong was there too; he too bore signs of extensive damage. His right arm was gone, and pieces of broken rods and fizzling circuitry poked through from the hole where the arm used to be attached to the body. He had lost almost half of his fake hair, and the mechanics underneath showed through multiple gaps. Part of his chest had caved in under multiple impacts. But the most appalling sight of all was his face; it looked half-simian, half-robot, and gave him an aspect even more frightening than when he looked like a ‘real’ giant ape.
Barking a challenge, still indomitable, Kong was looking in the direction of the three fighter jets coming straight at him; Symphony could see two Angel jets, and one bronze fighter – one of the Copperhead interceptors she had seen earlier. They were now teaming up to take the robot down.
She looked around. The roof was very damaged; even more damaged than the Angels might suspect. She had seen the structure from the floor below; it wasn’t safe anymore, Kong’s antics had certainly done a number on it, and a direct hit might bring everything down; it could be a powerful rocket from the interceptors, or even the robot falling heavily.
Either way Symphony was looking at it, it didn’t look very good.
Symphony watched with dread as Kong, shuffling on his left leg – in which the hydraulics were now obviously defective – stepped back towards the antenna… and the captive Melody. He was preparing to have his last stand with the upcoming fighters. From the angle they were coming, if they were to fire at the robot, Melody and herself were directly in the line of fire. One single random projectile, one fragment from an exploding rocket could kill either of them. Even if they were to only hit Kong, he might fall on them and crush them to death.
Taking her decision, Symphony selected a channel on her communicator and, keeping it in her hand, she stood up deliberately, putting herself into full view and rushed to stand in front of Melody – slightly behind Kong, at the exact moment he roared his ultimate challenge to the interceptors coming directly towards him. Melody stared at her colleague with astonishment, wondering where she’d come from – and if she had not gone completely crazy.
“Angel squadron, stop your attack!” Symphony yelled into her communicator.
She was relieved that her call was heard – and answered. The two Angel craft, along with the Copperhead fighter, increasing their speed, shifted trajectory, and flew on each side of the M.A.T. Tower and over it. Kong grunted at them, victoriously.
“ADAM!” Symphony shouted at the top of her lungs.
* * *
His head hurting, Captain Scarlet was using all of his strength in trying to keep Captain Blue down. It wasn’t an easy task; Blue was already recuperating from Rhapsody’s attack, and with his strength seemingly increased in proportion to his rage, he was now trying desperately to free himself. He couldn’t obviously bear feeling trapped, and that was even more infuriating for him.
But Scarlet had no intention of letting go. It was now or never to see the end of this madness.
He looked at Rhapsody, who stood right in front of them. Scarlet was thankful that she was all right, but if Blue were to get free again, he had no doubt that, given the state he was currently in, the American captain might attempt to attack her again.
The young woman’s strike with the bowl had extended the damage to the glassy helmet, and more of his face could be seen through the gap. Still, what remained of it was still solidly fixed to his head. Scarlet couldn’t be sure if the helmet was still operating or not – if Blue’s mind was still linked with the King Kong robot’s DNI circuit board.
He didn’t care. It had to be removed.
“Rhapsody, now, while I’m holding him,” Scarlet said with a voice strained with effort. “Get this thing off his head!”
Rhapsody came over and lowered down onto her knees in front of Blue. With Scarlet keeping the American down, she started unfastening the two straps adjusted against his chin and under his jaw line.
“It’s now or never, Doctor James!” Scarlet shouted again. “Give him that shot, quick!”
Arthur James had not waited for Scarlet’s pressing call to come running to the scene, plugging the phial containing the precious antidote into the injector gun. He crouched near the still struggling and grunting Blue.
“Keep him as still as you can,” he asked of Scarlet.
Part of Blue’s neck was exposed and pressing the barrel against the skin, James pulled the trigger. His patient groaned loudly under the sting and his efforts to free himself grew.
But Scarlet was holding tight and kept Blue down. He would not let go, until the counteractive drug took effect.
And would free Captain Blue from his frenzy.
* * *
At the sound of Symphony’s voice, Kong turned around, to discover her standing there, looking at him with a challenging and courageous poise. The discontent bark he emitted was terrifying, but she stood her ground as he loomed over her, glaring at her threateningly. Either as Kong, or as Adam, he didn’t seem to recognise her. He was just too angry.
She raised her hand in a stopping gesture.
“Adam, it’s me! You’ve got to stop RIGHT NOW!”
And suddenly, the King Kong robot stopped in his tracks. The roar mounting in his throat died out and he stared at Symphony intently; the red cybernetic eye stayed cold and unfeeling; but there was something in the life-like, simian eye, an emotion that sent hope into Symphony’s heart.
“You recognise me, don’t you, Adam?” she said softly, her voice catching in her throat. “You’re in there, aren’t you?” She took a step forward. “You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?”
Kong gave but a low grunt, that almost sounded like purring; his anger subsided. Slowly, he sat down on the roof, lowering his head to look closely at the petite woman standing there, facing him.
She reached out, tentatively, and stroked the simian part of his face. The hair felt fake now, it had lost the natural feel she had experienced before. With his partly destroyed body, he looked less like the giant ape that had captured her, and more like the cybernetic machine he really was.
But there was still something in that eye that still touched her, and now she knew perfectly what it was; it wasn’t any kind of software, a program imbedded into the complicated circuitry of a computerised brain.
It was the trapped soul of the man she loved and who loved her, and who would never hurt her.
“I love you, Adam,” she said in a whisper. “I hope I’ll be able to see you later, safe and sound… And that you’ll take me in your arms to hold me, and keep me safe from harm.”
Kong gazed at her fixedly. A guttural sound emerged from his distorted lips; Symphony felt for sure he was trying to speak to her.
He grew increasingly quiet and he remained still.
It took a moment for Symphony to realise that the red light in the cybernetic eye had completely died out. The King Kong robot had stopped functioning.
Apprehensively, shivering from head to toes, Symphony turned her eyes away, swallowing the tears that were mounting to her eyes. She didn’t know what it meant for her fiancé. Was he all right, and had Captain Scarlet and Rhapsody been able to save him from whatever predicament in which he had found himself?
Slowly, she walked towards Melody, who was still imprisoned in her seat and staring at her with complete disbelief. Somehow, Symphony realised, her limp had returned, along with the shooting pain in her ankle. Possibly, she imagined, she had been running high on adrenaline.
“What was that all about?” Melody asked as her friend stopped in front of her.
Symphony shook her head sadly and sighed heavily. “I’ll get you down from there, Mel,” she said. “Just give me a moment.” She raised her communicator to her mouth. “Symphony Angel to Cloudbase… The King Kong robot has been stopped.”
“Well done, Symphony Angel,” the voice of Colonel White answered her quietly. “We’ll be sending an helijet to take you and Melody off this roof.”
“Thank you, sir.” Symphony paused a moment, hesitating, wondering if she should ask the question that was burning her lips.
And was worrying her mind.
“Colonel… Any news from London yet?”
* * *
The antidote prepared by Doctor James had taken effect quite rapidly; Captain Blue had stopped fighting and had grown considerably quieter, so that Rhapsody was able to carefully remove the damaged operating helmet from his head. His full face appeared, more relaxed now, covered with a heavy layer of sweat, with superficial cuts all over, caused by fragments from the broken helmet… and no doubt from the heavy glass bowl that the Angel pilot had crashed upon his face. His nose looked broken, with a deep cut crossing it transversally, and both his eyes, now closed, were surrounded with dark circles. His blond hair, soaked with sweat, stuck to his head and fell onto his brow, where electronic conductors, still wired to the helmet, were stuck.
Seeing Blue’s chin slowly dropping to his chest and feeling no resistance anymore, Scarlet gently laid him down onto the floor, holding his head cautiously. Rhapsody put the helmet down, and with great care, removed the conductors from his brow. Blue moaned softly, but didn’t move, nor did he open his eyes; his breathing had slowed down to a normal rate and he seemed to have fallen asleep under the effect of the counteractive drug. Doctor James checked his pulse, and opened one eyelid to look at the pupil. It was still dilated, the white was still filled with blood, but it wasn’t as dark as before.
“He’ll be okay,” the vet informed them, sighing with relief, as both Scarlet and Rhapsody stared at him apprehensively, waiting for his prognosis. “That was quite an experience for him, and he’ll need some rest… But if I have to judge by what happened to Binx yesterday… He should make a full recovery.”
“Speak of the devil…” Scarlet nodded towards the small monkey, who was approaching them with some hesitation, looking at them anxiously, as if he was wondering if everything was all right and if he could come back safely. Squeaking, he made a large detour around Captain Blue, and went to leap onto Rhapsody’s shoulder. The young woman chuckled, as Binx held on to her head with one hand and offered her something he was holding in the other. It was her personal communicator.
“Why, thank you, Binx,” she said cheerily, taking it from the small monkey’s hand. “You’re being quite the hero, today.” She affectionately rubbed him behind the ear. Contented, Binx chattered in his own language and started playing with a lock of her hair. “I think Doctor James ought to thank you for putting yourself at risk for him.” She gazed at the vet, who was seated on the floor, and she reached over the unconscious Captain Blue to take his hand in hers. “And I have to thank you too, Arthur,” she told him. “Putting yourself between me and Captain Blue like you did, to save me… that was very courageous.” She smiled mischievously. “Crazy, but courageous.”
“Aww shucks,” James replied, the red coming to his ears. “To tell you the truth, I really didn’t take that much time to think about the consequences. But... Well, I couldn’t simply just stand there and let your friend tear you apart.”
Rhapsody offered him a grateful smile.
Just at that moment, the main door leading to Room 5 burst open, startling them, and a colour-coded Spectrum officer, wearing a dark green vest, strode in, followed by a team of four Spectrum guards, all with their guns at the ready. They stopped in their tracks, at the sight of the three people, either crouched or sitting on the floor around the unconscious Captain Blue, and of the two dead men lying at the foot of the computerised console.
“Captain Scarlet! Rhapsody Angel!” The colour-coded officer looked around, in perplexity and then approached swiftly to stand over Scarlet. “Are you all right?”
“We are, Captain Forrest,” Scarlet replied. “And how are you, yourself? You’re just in time for the cleaning up...”
“Oh please, don’t start with that,” Forrest replied with a scowl. “We would have come sooner, but we had received orders from Colonel White to wait…”
“We know, Captain,” Rhapsody reassured him. “Captain Scarlet is teasing you.”
“We came as fast as we could, when Colonel White finally ordered us in after he had lost communication with you. He feared that you might need our help.”
“Really?” Scarlet said, his tongue firmly planted in cheek. “Now I wonder why he would have thought that…”
“Now, Captain,” Rhapsody chided her fiancé. “Do stop teasing him...” She looked up at a disgruntled-looking Forrest. “Everything is okay now, Captain Forrest. We just managed to wrap everything up. But your presence is appreciated, nonetheless.”
“Indeed?” Forrest looked around with perplexity, took note of the two dead bodies in their pools of blood, and of the extensive damage done to the room. “It looks like there’s been a fight in here.”
Scarlet smirked with a crooked smile. “There’s been a fight indeed,” he confirmed. “But the good guys won.”
“And Captain Blue?” Forrest looked down with concern at the American, noticing his body covered with bruises, cuts and various other injuries. The man looked in a bad way, visibly unconscious, although from the rise and fall of his chest, he was obviously alive. “Is he going to be all right? Colonel White told me what the Mysterons did to him.”
“He will be all right now,” Doctor James informed them. “He needs to have his wounds tended to, and to take a lot of rest. Ah, he’s been bitten by a monkey. It might be a good idea to give him shots of tetanus toxoid and antibiotics. You can find some at the veterinary hospital, on the fifth floor.”
Forrest narrowed his eyes at him. “Are you a doctor, sir?”
“Yes. No. That is… yes, in a manner of speaking… I’m a vet.”
“Okay…” Forrest rolled his eyes. “We have a medic downstairs, with the rest of the team. I’ll ask him to look into those antibiotics of yours and to come here right away to take a look at Captain Blue.”
“How’s things in Los Angeles?” Scarlet asked. “You seem relaxed, so I’m guessing there is no rush anymore?”
“Has the MIGHTEC been stopped?” Rhapsody asked in turn.
“Yes, it has been stopped,” Forrest confirmed. “Without any casualties that I know of… Ah, you won’t believe who stopped the robot, by the way: Symphony Angel.”
“Symphony?” Scarlet replied, raising a brow.
“I don’t know all the details, but from what I heard, it sounded like she simply stood in front of the MIGHTEC and told him to stop his fooling around.” Forrest shrugged. “And he stopped.”
“Did she, now?” Scarlet looked down at the still sleeping Blue, who now seemed very peaceful, and then caught sight of Rhapsody’s knowing smile. He chuckled. “Actually, Captain… we believe it easily. Quite logical, when you think of it.”
Forrest nodded slowly, but he failed to fully get what the two Cloudbase officers seemed to have understood. He sighed heavily. He was sure he would learn the details soon enough.
“One of you better call Cloudbase quickly,” he said. “The colonel is quite concerned about what could have happened over here. In the meantime, I’ll call for a… ‘cleanup crew’.”
He addressed a teasing smile to Scarlet who answered with a smile of his own. Then he nodded at the small group and turned away, lowering his cap microphone to make a call to the rest of his team.
“I’ll make the call,” Rhapsody said to Scarlet, showing her communicator that she still had in her hand.
She could certainly understand the colonel’s concern; the last time she was in contact with him, she had been interrupted by an aggressive Captain Blue. The last he had heard from her end of the line must not have been very reassuring. He certainly deserved to learn what had been gone on since then.
She turned her communicator on. “Rhapsody Angel to Cloudbase.”
“Cloudbase here,” the voice of Colonel White immediately answered. “We were trying to reach you, Rhapsody. We were starting to really worry.”
“Everything is S.I.G. over here, sir,” Rhapsody answered swiftly. “Captain Blue is recuperating from the effects of the disinhibitors he had been injected with, and the DNI link he had with the MIGHTEC in Los Angeles has been efficiently cut. Mission accomplished.”
“You’re all right, then? And Captain Scarlet?”
“Over here, sir,” Scarlet answered, raising his voice. “We’re both all right. And Captain Blue will be too, according to... erm… his doctor.” He addressed a wink to Doctor James who chuckled.
“Very well done, both of you,” the colonel answered with satisfaction obvious in his voice. “I have good news from Los Angeles as well. The MIGHTEC rampage is finished. The robot has been successfully stopped.”
“Captain Forrest informed us, sir,” Rhapsody informed him. “He also told us that… Symphony stopped the robot?”
“Yes, she did,” White confirmed. “When she learned that Captain Blue’s mind was in control of the MIGHTEC – so to speak – she decided to step in and stop him. Considering Captain Blue wasn’t really himself, because of those drugs he was injected with, she took an enormous gamble. But, obviously, it paid off.” He chuckled openly. “Come to think of it, we shouldn’t be that surprised that it did, should we?”
“And Melody, Colonel?” Rhapsody asked tentatively.
“Safe and sound, because of Symphony’s intervention. We only have one casualty to deplore in Los Angeles… That of a woman who had been acting as an agent of the Mysterons.”
“That’s a relief,” Captain Scarlet then said. He knew that Blue will feel awful when he’ll learn he had been a pawn of the Mysterons. He would be thankful that, at the very least, he wasn’t responsible of anyone’s death, during Kong’s rampage.
“Captain Grey is already on his way to Los Angeles by way of helijet,” White explained. “He’ll be taking over there and wrapping things up, while the rest of the team will come back to Cloudbase. I’ll be sending a helicopter to bring you back too. Is Captain Blue in any state to travel for treatment here in sickbay? Or should he be transferred into a hospital in London?”
“I think he’ll be okay to travel,” James said, as Scarlet turned an inquiring look at him. “Once he has had his shots, that is.”
“I beg your pardon?” Colonel White said, with obvious perplexity in his voice.
“It’s a long story, sir,” Scarlet answered, keeping himself from sniggering. “We’ll tell you all about it in our report.”
“I expect you would,” White replied. “I’ll see all of you on Cloudbase, then. Colonel White out.”
The communication was swiftly cut, and James shook his head, slowly. “He’s rather curt in business, is he not?”
“Well, he’s preoccupied right now, with all that happened in L.A.,” Rhapsody reasoned. “He probably doesn’t have much time for small talk.”
“Actually,” Scarlet added with a knowing smile, “I would say he’s been rather more demonstrative than he usually is.”
“So you’re going back to your base, then?” There was some disappointment in James’ voice and both Rhapsody and Scarlet noticed it. The English captain glanced at his fiancée. The vet had obviously taken a liking to the young woman and he certainly could understand that he felt attracted to her; any full-blooded man who appreciated the fairer sex would. But it didn’t mean the English captain had to like it, and not feel a pinch of possessiveness towards her.
“We have to,” Rhapsody explained, gently taking James’ hand into hers again. “This assignment is finished and our job is done.”
“And you have to go where you’ll be needed next.” James nodded in understanding. “That means that I might never see you again.”
“That seems unlikely… but who knows?” Rhapsody offered generously. She glanced briefly at Scarlet, who was keeping silent. She saw no reason to tell James she was spoken for. As she had said, it was unlikely the two of them would meet again. “We never know where the next mission will take us next,” she added.
“You know we’ll miss you… Binx and I?” James pointed to himself and then to the small monkey, still perched on Rhapsody’s shoulder. “He doesn’t go and sit on just anyone’s back. That’s a sign he became quite attached to you.”
“Then I’m very flattered,” Rhapsody said, reaching her hand to pat Binx under the neck. “I’ve grown very attached to him, and will miss him too. And his human friend as well.”
James beamed at her words and started reddening again around the ears. He was about to add something, when a groan coming from Captain Blue interrupted him. He lowered his eyes, imitated by Rhapsody and Scarlet.
Blue’s eyelids fluttered and he opened them, very tiredly. The whites of his eyes were still bloodshot, but the redness was slowly dissipating. He took a deep breath and blinked a few times, looking up with a confused expression. His eyes lit on Rhapsody.
“S-Symphony?” he slurred.
Considering the redness of his eyes, Rhapsody figured that his vision might be somehow blurry and that he possibly mistook her presence for that of his fiancée. She smiled down at him, and gently stroked his cheek.
“I’m sorry, Adam, but Karen isn’t here,” she said softly. “It’s me, Rhapsody.”
“R-Rhapsody…” Blue repeated. He took another deep breath, and his brow creased as he tried to put his thoughts together. He groaned; his head was throbbing, and he reached for it with his hand.
“Take it easy, Big Blue,” Scarlet told him. “You need your rest. You gave us quite a scare, you know?”
“Did I?” Blue moaned. “I… had a strange dream… I was so very angry… Couldn’t help myself lashing out at everything around me... Symphony was there, and… Can’t remember most of it…” He tried to, but couldn’t make any sense of the elusive images in his mind; his head was splitting, making it hard to think. Giving up, he removed his hand from his head, and opened his eyes, to look up at his friends again. He frowned again, this time in puzzlement, as he stared straight at Rhapsody.
“Rhapsody… Is it me… or is there a monkey on your back?”
* * *
“It’s finished,” Captain Magenta said, as his cap microphone returned to his visor after Lieutenant Green’s call from Cloudbase. “The Kong robot has been neutralised.” He sighed and shook his head. “Can’t barely believe all it took was for Symphony to stand up and talk to the beast… Talk about a crazy move that worked!”
Magenta turned around at the sound of Arnie Doyle’s voice to find the short man staring down at his tablet. The Spectrum officer took one step to approach and Arnie showed him his screen.
The message ‘Do you want to shut power now?’ was displayed, with two buttons underneath, waiting for the operator’s decision.
“You were able to get the signal back, then?” Magenta was somehow affronted. He was one of the best hackers in the world; that a New Hollywood cybernetic controller had been able to succeed where he had failed was something of a put down.
But Arnie shook his head. “I doubt it comes from my efforts, Captain. Whatever was blocking me out simply… seized. That outside signal, it’s gone.”
“Well, yes, I imagine it was interrupted from London,” Magenta said, thoughtfully.
“I have complete control of the King Kong robot now,” Arnie continued.
“Do you mean to say it’s still on, Mr. Doyle?” Magenta asked in disbelief.
“Well, apparently it is… I don’t know how well it might answer to my command, right now, damaged as it is… Should I shut it down?”
“Magenta stared at him in disbelief, as if he had said something immensely stupid. “What do you think, Mr. Doyle? Do you want to take the risk of it coming back to life again?”
Arnie barely gave it a moment’s thought. He shook his head. “You’re right, Captain.”
And he selected the ‘Yes’ button on his screen.
* * *
“Ladies, it’s been a real honour to fight by your side.”
The two Angel craft and the Copperhead interceptor were flying in formation, at some distance from the M.A.T. Tower. They had received news that the robot had been finally stopped, and that there was no need for an aerial intervention anymore. That was a relief for them, as they knew that, if the attack had continued, it might have incurred severe risks to the two women standing on top of the building, right next to Kong.
Captain Billy ‘Cobra’ Plissken had received orders to return to Edwards Base, and was now taking his leave of the Angels.
“I don’t know many guys who would have freely stood in front of that robot, unarmed, to try and stop it,” Plissken continued. “You Angel girls certainly have balls, I can certainly tell you that.”
That was a certainly an odd statement, but each in their own way, Destiny and Harmony were sure that Plissken meant it as the highest compliment he could come up with.
“Why, thank you, Captain Plissken… I think,” Destiny replied with a somewhat amused smile.
“Be sure to give my compliments to that other Angel girl, please?”
“Melody? We will give her the message, Captain.”
“Melody... or Magnolia?” Plissken asked, his voice sounding suspicious and mischievous at the same time.
That took Destiny aback slightly. “I am sure I don’t know what you mean, sir.”
Plissken laughed openly. “Sure you don’t…” He manoeuvred his plane away from the Angel flight, flipping his wings in a sign of salutation. “Tell her I’ll get back to her about that drink in Santa Monica. Adieu, Angel Squadron.”
He opened his throttles and the Copperhead craft darted forward, towards the horizon.
Destiny watched it go, musingly.
“So he knows Melody and found her out, then?” she heard Harmony’s voice in her helmet speakers.
“Or he was fishing for information,” Destiny replied, wondering about that herself. “But those two definitely knew each other.” She smiled to herself. “We’ll have to grill her and ask all about it when we are back at base…”
“That ought to be interesting.”
“For sure. Captain Plissken has quite the reputation, you know? And I don’t mean his reputation as a pilot either…”
* * *
The King Kong robot had been stopped and the commotion was coming to an end. How it had happened exactly, Peer Abramson didn’t exactly know, but he was ecstatic. Harold and Benji had taken for him footage that would be the envy of any movie director or producer in the world. His fortune was made, and Prestige Pictures would be so pleased with him that they would keep him under contract, under his own conditions, until the end of his days.
And the best of all that was the finish… The Spectrum helicopter hovering above the top of the M.A.T. Tower, to pick up Kong’s hostages – two of them, he had counted by the number of harnesses that had lowered down onto the roof in the operation – before flying away, towards the sun. Then that Spectrum officer – Captain Ochre – had exited the building, escorting Blondie O’Day – of all people! – towards an ambulance which had come to pick her up. From what he had been able to gather, the young woman looked fine, but was said to be suffering from some kind of shock. That didn’t stop her from posing for the cameras, waving and throwing kisses around… That, after Captain Ochre had left her in the care of the police before quickly disappearing from view. The man was still very much camera shy…
Blondie didn’t look too bad, whatever might have happened to her. She had walked into that ambulance like a queen ascending her throne, waving at her adoring subjects all the way. Abramson didn’t know how she had ended up in that building, but he made a note to be sure to ask her, whenever he went to visit her at the hospital. Maybe she was on the roof with Kong as well; maybe she knew how the robot had been stopped, although he couldn’t figure out why, if it was the case, the helicopter would not have taken her along with the others.
Oh well… She’s not a Spectrum agent, that must be the reason.
“You did very well, boys,” Abramson told the two young men with him, as the crowd started to break up, and people, thinking there would be nothing interesting to look at anymore, returned to their usual occupations. Standing next to the electric cart he had borrowed at the entrance of the M.A.T. complex, he was checking some of the footage taken on Harold’s portable. He could barely believe that such a small device would take such good images. “This is absolutely fabulous,” he said, unable to detach his eyes from the small screen. “Do you realise what kind of movie we would make with that material?” He chucked. “This will more than compensate for the whole King Kong debacle…”
“Hey, man, what about what I have in here?” Benji offered his handheld camera to Abramson, who hastened to check the content.
Benji leaned against the side of the cart, crossing his arms on his chest, and smiled with a smug expression at Harold, who stood by his side. The latter grunted with annoyance. He couldn’t stand that cocksure Australian and didn’t trust him as far as he could throw him. That guy was after his job.
“Fantastic,” murmured Abramson. “Absolutely fantastic… You managed to film most of the last attack of the fighter craft against Kong? Wow… It looks like you were right next to it. You’ve got talent, kid.”
“How about that plane exploding, Mr Abramson?” Harold swiftly asked him. “That was good footage too, no?”
“Yes, it was very good, Harry, very good indeed…” Excitedly, Abramson waved both devices at the two young men. “This is a chance of a lifetime which doesn’t come often. A Spectrum operation against a monster… Interceptor jets fighting the beast… Rescued hostages, devastating explosions, people panicking… And the heroes finally bringing down the monster! The best documentary ever filmed! Almost too good to be true! And you’ve been there, with me. Filming everything. Oh, I sure am very pleased with you, boys!”
Both Harold and Benji beamed at these words.
“Really, Mr. Abramson, just working for you is an honour…” Harold started.
“Yeah, right – but of course, the fame and money is very much welcome,” Benji quickly added.
“Don’t worry, lads,” Abramson replied, looking down again at the footage on Benji’s camera. “You’ll have it all, I promise: fame, money, honour… Stick with me… and you’ll have a bright future ahead!”
The voice coming from behind him startled Abramson and he turned on his heel. His heart missed a beat when he saw two Spectrum officers standing there, looking imperturbably at him. One of them he had met already that day – the one wearing the dark pink uniform, who had been so disagreeable to him. The other, who wore a grey tunic, he didn’t know.
“Hello, Mr. Abramson,” the man in the pink uniform said, in a very suave voice. “Fancy finding you here…”
Quickly, Abramson hid the portable and the camera behind his back. He remembered quite vividly that this man had confiscated his first camera earlier. “Ah, er… It’s you, Captain, er…”
“Magenta,” the Spectrum officer provided, seeing that Abramson was struggling to remember his name. He pointed to his silent companion, standing by his side. “I don’t think you know my colleague, Captain Grey. He just arrived here.”
Abramson nodded absently. Captain Grey. Sure, that made sense.
“What is it you’re hiding behind your back, Mr. Abramson?” Magenta continued, still in the same amiable voice.
“Come, come, Mr. Abramson… Playing dumb doesn’t suit you.” Magenta presented his hand, in a demanding gesture. “Hand it over. You know the drill.”
“Captain,” Abramson replied. “I must protest…”
“You can protest all you like,” Magenta said with a tolerant sigh. “You know you don’t have a choice. Give me that camera, please.”
Reluctantly, with a scowled expression, Abramson turned the camera over to Magenta.
“And the portable as well,” Captain Grey suddenly requested, presenting his hand in turn.
Gruffly, Abramson relented and handed the phone over, glaring at Grey. “And I had pegged you as a quiet one,” he mumbled.
“I am,” Grey said matter-of-factly, turning the phone in his hand and examining it musingly. “You’re a very good judge of character, Mr. Abramson. Mmm… Nice portable…”
“That camera is too,” Magenta commented, showing the device he had confiscated from Abramson a few seconds earlier. “Very state of the art.”
“Hey, that’s mine, man,” Benji suddenly declared, taking a step forwards. “You can’t take it from me like that, and expect me to let you go with it! That’ll be theft!”
“Don’t worry, sir,” Magenta said politely. “That device will be returned to you, once all the pictures you have taken related to this current Spectrum operation have been purged from it.”
“You can’t do that!” Benji protested. He turned to Abramson. “He can’t do that, can he?”
“He certainly can,” Abramson moaned with a dejected shake of the head. “Unfortunately.”
“The phone will be returned as well to its owner when we are done with it,” Grey said in turn. “I imagine that both devices have identification? If not, we’ll have to take your names, if you want them back.”
“You elitist military types take unfair advantage of us ordinary citizens!” Benji interjected.
“Oh, shut up already,” Harold groaned with annoyance. “Can’t you see there’s nothing you can say or do that’ll make any difference?”
“But it’s not fair!”
“I’m sorry, but that argument doesn’t hold water with us,” Grey replied patiently. “You can write a letter of complaint to the Spectrum office in Los Angeles, if you want.”
“Yeah!” Abramson scoffed. “Like that will make a difference!”
“I see that you’re starting to understand, sir,” Grey commented imperturbably, as he started to leave. “We wish you a good day, gentlemen.”
“We thank you all for your cooperation,” Magenta added in turn. He saluted them with a tip of his hat and turned around to join Grey.
With resignation, Abramson looked at them go, as they walked across the ground towards a red Spectrum patrol car, parked a short distance away.
“Are we really letting these guys take millions of dollars’-worth of film away from us?” Benji protested again. “We should have stopped them!”
“How?” Harold declared, stoically. “They had guns.”
“Can’t believe that,” muttered Benji, looking at Harold and then at Abramson with daggers in his eyes. “You two are complete losers.” He waved at them with disgust. “I’m out of here!” With that, he briskly turned on his heels and walked away, without a single look behind him.
“Good riddance,” Harold muttered. “We’re better off without that whiner.”
“Perhaps,” Abramson said fatalistically, having perfectly heard what the young man had just said. “But we certainly would be better if we had that footage those two Spectrum officers just took from us.” He sighed and turned to Harold. “Well, there goes the fame, fortune and honour I promised you, Harry. I’m afraid that after this disaster with the Kong movie I’ll be broke as a joke, as the saying goes.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Mr. Abramson,” Harold replied with a mysterious smile. “There might still be a solution…”
Abramson looked at him inquiringly, wondering exactly what he meant. The young man, still smiling, pointed to a specific direction behind the movie director who turned around.
“You see that thing hovering over there, Mr Abramson?” Harold asked him, coming to stand by his side and pointing with insistence to a dark metallic object flying about twenty feet above the ground and slowly moving around. “That’s a cambot, sir… It’s used for security, we have the same at the studio. I saw a few dozen of those patrolling around this complex. They’re all over the place.”
“What about them?” Abramson asked, suspiciously.
“I’m pretty sure some of them recorded what happened over here, sir,” Harold explained. “You see, I know a guy who’s pretty good at accessing camera systems. If I can give him a call…”
“You’re thinking he might get those recordings for us,” Abramson finished for him. He nodded, narrowing his eyes to the young man. “You’re pretty resourceful, Harry –”
“Thank you, sir,” Harold beamed. “And it’s still Harold.”
“… And what you are proposing is not very honest.”
“You’re saying you won’t try it?”
“I’m saying I like the idea. Very much. And I like your style.” Grinning widely, Abramson took the young man by the shoulders and steered him around to the electric cart behind them. “You remind me a bit of me, when I was your age, lad. Stick with me, and I’ll show you all the tricks of the trade… Now, you mentioned that Prestige has some of those cambots… Do you reckon your friend could access the camera system there as well?”
It was three days later, on Cloudbase, and all the members of both teams from the latest assignment in both Los Angeles and London were reunited in the officers’ lounge, along with Melody Angel, and Colonel White, who had come to take a short break from the Control Room. Captain Blue was still on the mend, but was nicely recovering from his ordeal, still sporting on his face the signs of his fight with both Captain Scarlet and Rhapsody Angel – more prominently a white cast which covered his broken nose, and the black circles around his eyes that gave him the look of a human raccoon. Symphony’s foot wasn’t fractured, but three of her ribs certainly were, so she had been signed off duty for some time. Both she and her fiancé were finding comfort in the fact that, considering they needed some time off to recover, they could actually spend that time with each other. As for Melody, a sprained wrist had put her off duty as well, and so, with two Angel pilots out of five being unavailable, Colonel White had called for a couple of junior pilot officers to perform standby duty for a couple of weeks. That was why he wasn’t that surprised to find Rhapsody Angel in the lounge when he came for a visit – the young pilot was probably off duty for the time being.
By a bizarre coincidence, the Worldnews channel was broadcasting the latest news regarding the strange events in Los Angeles, and so everyone sat back and listened with curiosity as the reporter on screen revealed the conclusion to one of the most bizarre assignments Spectrum had ever had.
“All the clues about the rampage of the King Kong robot point to sabotage by the mysterious terrorist group known only as “the Mysterons”. Both Prestige Studios and the M.A.T. Corporation complex here in L.A. sustained millions of dollars’-worth of damage. The M.A.T. Corporation, which suffered most during the incident, counts among its losses its L.A. head office, the 50-storey tower that the robot climbed at the end of its rampage. The building will have to be demolished, due to excessive damage to its structure. The robot itself, a prototype designed and built by M.A.T., and described as the most advanced piece of technology ever produced by the Corporation, was also destroyed.”
Captain Magenta huffed. “Most advanced piece of technology, my foot,” he muttered. “I still can’t get why someone would build a thing like that in the first place and think nothing would go wrong with it…”
“Surprisingly enough,” the reporter continued, “although the damage caused by the robot was extensive, only one casualty was reported. Ida Quinton, assistant to director Peer Abramson, was apparently killed, after having abducted actress Blondie O’Day to take her to the M.A.T. Tower. According to Ms. O’Day herself, Ms. Quinton may have been injured by falling debris earlier, while both women were fleeing from the robot, and that might have rendered her mad to the point that she hoped to appease King Kong’s anger by offering Ms. O’Day as a sacrificial offering…”
Symphony gasped and then burst out laughing. “Who the devil came up with a cockeyed story like that?” She looked directly at Ochre, who was keeping quiet. “That came from you, didn’t it? Is she so dumb she actually swallowed it?”
“Hook, line and sinker,” Ochre answered, chuckling. “Of course, it helped a bit that we had a member of the Spectrum L.A. medical team at the hospital, who gave Ms. O’Day a shot of that hypnotic mind-wiping drug we sometimes use with people who’ve seen just a little too much.” He smiled smugly. “Then it was just a question of ‘suggesting’ the right story for her to give to the news people. She was surprisingly receptive.”
Symphony rolled her eyes. “Not that surprising, if you want my opinion.”
Colonel White cleared his throat. The news being finished, he shut off the television with the remote, and put it on the low table in front of him, before sitting back on his seat.
“The real Ida Quinton was killed the day before in Malibu,” he explained. “Her car went off the road and fell into a ravine. Of course, that was an accident engineered by the Mysterons, for them to replace her with their own agent. If I am to believe the report of your meeting with her, her mission, when the MIGHTEC started to go berserk, was obviously to take Blondie O’Day to the M.A.T. Complex, making sure that the robot followed her there to wreak destruction on the place, in accordance with the Mysterons’ threat.”
Scarlet shook his head. “They certainly served us a twisted scenario this time around.”
“You can say that again,” Blue grumbled. “I can’t believe I was responsible for millions of dollars of property damage to both a movie studio and the L.A. M.A.T. complex. I sure hope this won’t be taken off my pay check…”
“Hell, you can get your dad to pay for it,” Ochre said teasingly. “So what’s to worry about?”
“You were not responsible, Adam,” Rhapsody told him kindly.
“Rhapsody is right,” Colonel White approved. “After reading all the reports on the incident, I daresay that anyone in your situation would have been unable to resist that disinhibiting drug those two Mysteronised scientists injected you with. Except maybe you, Captain Scarlet,” he added, “considering how they thought you might have been a poor subject for their experiment.”
“Oh, I’m not so sure, sir,” Scarlet mused. “Seeing how Blue was acting – like a real party animal – I fear I might not have fared any better, if I’d been in his place.”
Blue sighed and turned to Symphony. “Well, at least I should have been able to stop that robot from hurting you,” he said regretfully.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied with a faint smile. “You probably were able to exercise some kind of restraint with Kong. Otherwise, I might have ended up in worse shape than with just a few broken ribs and a sprained ankle.”
He shivered. “I’d rather not think about it.”
“It was quite overwhelming to find myself as the centre of attention of a twenty ton mechanical gorilla,” Symphony continued. “Frankly, I can relate to Ann Darrow now. Kong was rather sweet… in a very odd kind of way.” She turned to Ochre. “Will Blondie O’Day do that King Kong movie after all? I don’t know, I might decide to audition for the role…”
Ochre grimaced. “It would surprise me if they actually do the movie now. The MIGHTEC was a prototype, and it was damaged almost beyond repair in the incident. It would cost a fortune to put it back together. And with what happened, I bet neither Prestige Pictures or the M.A.T. Corporation would want to go into that venture again…”
“And Peer Abramson won’t be doing a movie for some time,” Magenta added, chuckling. “Did you see the newspaper yesterday? He was so desperate to have exclusive footage of what happened in L.A. that he tried to hack into the security cameras of the M.A.T. complex. I would have loved to see his face when he realised that the databank had already been cleansed of any pictures which might have held any interest for him… courtesy of your truly. He must have had apoplexy over it!”
“He’s just lucky no-one will press charges against him,” Scarlet said, chuckling.
“I think he’s been sufficiently punished as it is,” Ochre replied. “It must be very hard on his ego not to do this movie and lose that amount of money. But he’s rich, he’s talented, and he’s resilient…”
“And how!” Magenta confirmed, laughing.
“… He’ll get back on his feet in no time,” Ochre concluded.
“So no studio for us to visit, then?” Melody asked him, raising a brow.
“Well, didn’t you see enough of King Kong as it is?” Ochre teased her.
“Quite enough to last for a lifetime, thank you very much. Which reminds me… I’ll have to send a ‘thank you’ note to my old friend Captain Billy Plissken, for having joined the fight with the Angels against Kong. That shot of his actually saved my life.”
“You say he’s an old friend?” a suspicious Ochre asked, frowning.
She waved dismissively. “Oh… That was a lifetime ago.”
Ochre sighed. “Melody, you’re not even thirty. A lifetime ago would mean you met that guy while you were still a babe in diapers.”
She chuckled. “He was a very dear friend, way back when, Captain.”
“According to Destiny… he was possibly more than a very dear friend,” Ochre retorted.
Melody glared at him. Like the good detective he was, Ochre had a way to worm information out of anyone. Especially if that ‘anyone’ was a pretty lady, and considering that Ochre was very popular with all the Angels. Herself included.
She took a mental note to have a word with Destiny on that subject and to be wary of Ochre.
“Destiny wouldn’t know that,” she replied. “And anyway, this is more than I am willing to actually tell you. This is something personal, Captain Ochre.”
Ochre narrowed his eyes at her. “Fine… for now. But remember, my dear: I know ways to make you talk.”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t I know it.”
“Oh, stop teasing her, Captain,” Rhapsody intervened before Colonel White got suspicious about what could be going on between the two American officers. “Don’t you think she’s had enough these last few days, without having you tormenting her like that?”
“Thanks, Rhapsody,” Melody said gratefully. “We women have to stick together in adversity. I know I can always count on you.” She nodded to Symphony. “And on you as well, Symphony. Without you, I might not be here today. You saved my life as well.”
“Don’t mention it,” Symphony replied, smiling. “I couldn’t very well let Blue smash you to bits… He wouldn’t have been able to live with that afterwards.”
“Oh, so true,” Blue said with a sigh.
“As you say… we have to stick together. And not only us girls, but all of us as well.”
“Amen to that,” Blue said with a grin.
“If you will excuse me,” Colonel White then said, rising to his feet, “I will have to leave you now. I’ve got some business to attend to in the Control Room before turning in for the night.” He nodded all around. “So I wish you a good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Captain Scarlet, remember you have Control Room duty for the night.”
“Don’t worry, sir. I’ll be there.”
They all bade him farewell, and the colonel walked out of the room.
Once the door slid closed on him, Blue heaved another deep sigh. Symphony turned to him. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he answered. “Yeah, I’m all right. All’s well that ends well, as they say. That was…” he frowned. “… a weird assignment.”
“It certainly was,” Scarlet conceded. “But we saw it through. And we did nicely.”
“We should celebrate that,” Blue decided. “Tonight.”
“Over dinner and a movie?” Magenta suggested.
“Sounds fine by me,” Blue approved. “What’s available on the movie network which is worth watching these days?”
“Easy to check,” Scarlet declared, reaching for the remote on the table in front of him. “Let’s see the schedule…”
He pressed a button and the lounge television set powered up; but instead of the TV schedule that Scarlet was planning to check, the music of an already planned movie began, and an image appeared on the screen, displaying the title in wide letters.
‘Planet of the Apes’.
They all watched with slack jaws and in an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds, and then Scarlet mechanically switched off the television and put the remote back onto the table. He looked at each of his colleagues in turn. They all looked like they had been put off their wish to watch television.
“Just dinner then?” he asked, clearing his throat.
“Just dinner,” Blue confirmed.
And the others all approved with a vigorous nod, before they got up and walked towards the door.
Except for one.
“Hey!” Captain Ochre called, seeing them abandoning him. “That movie’s a classic! What wrong with it anyway?”
‘Last Remake of King Kong’ was born out of numerous chats, and prompted as a round-robin fan fiction on the Spectrum HQ forum, where members were invited to write their own bits of scenes one after the other, developing the story without much consultation between the participants. Unfortunately, after about five or six contributions, the story stopped to a still, and never went further. But where it could go always intrigued me. Although I think unlikely that the forum round-robin would have followed the same tangent, due to its various participants bringing their own two cents, I was curious to see if I could make something out of it – and finally see the end of that story started so long ago!
I took the already written scenes and rewrote them, to suit my own needs and purposes. So parts played by characters have been turned around and taken over by other characters. Ochre became the movie buff, as he had been described as one in some of my stories, making Magenta the long-suffering friend who doesn't quite know what to make of it. Despite these changes, I certainly have to acknowledge the contribution of Sage Harper and Matt Crowther for haven written some of the few first original scenes. Guys, you sparked the original inspiration. Thanks!
Other acknowledgements go as well to:
The classic ‘King Kong’ movie, produced in 1933 by Merian C. Cooper, screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose, written from an idea by Cooper himself and Edgar Wallace. Fay Wray was the original actress who played ‘Ann Darrow’ in that movie. I also acknowledged the more recent, equally wonderful remake by Peter Jackson, filmed in 2005. Ah, there was another remake in between, and a few apparitions of Kong in various Japanese monster movies. Let’s forget about all those…
The ‘very famous producer/director Peer Abramson’ is a mashed up creation inspired by Peter Jackson and J.J. Abrams, that I both admire very much. The insertion of the character in this story is meant as a tribute. Peer Abramson was written as a friendly character, even if he ended up as a somehow very unlucky chap.
Blondie O’Day is also a mashed up, of many blonde Hollywood actresses, too numerous to name here. The surname ‘O’Day’ comes directly from ‘Angel O’Day’, a character in the comic book series ‘Angel and the Ape’… The Ape character from these books was called ‘Sam Simeon’… So now you know where Sam Simmons came from too!
The MIGHTEC name and concept were inspired from the British comic strip ‘Mytek the Mighty’, which had been published in the pages of the Valiant and Vulcan (1964-1976) magazines, which were similar to TV Century 21. Mytek was a giant robot, which had basically been created by scientists to help people, but who had been stolen by evil men to wage revenge against the world. Eventually, Mytek returned to the good guys and fought evil… It’s no coincidence that characters from this story I just wrote shared the same initials with those of the human protagonists of the Mytek the Mighty comic strip… It’s really on purpose!
DNI already exists today and, among other things, can be used to performed miracles in the medical field, for the use of prosthetics. I just pushed it a little further!
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, and all the characters of the series, of course, you all know: they are the creation of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and the results of the collaboration and hard work of those who had been involved in this wonderful series. I do not own it. That would be ITC Entertainment.
My great, great, great, great, great thanks to Hazel Köhler for serving as beta-reader for this story and for her infinite patience!