A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” novel
by Chris Bishop
Six hours had passed since Captain Scarlet had put Rhapsody Angel back on duty and received Captain Ochre’s research report. During that time, he had conferred with Captain Blue, and the two of them had decided on the course of action to take.
It now seemed obvious that this time the Mysterons needed to use human agents because of Spectrum's inability to detect them, in the way it was possible to detect duplicates. But still, Spectrum now had to figure out what it was these agents were intended to do. Apparently, it had something to do with the Navy; the World one or the British one, it wasn’t really clear at the present. Since Colonel White had a World Navy I.D. card in his real name, it was evident he was to use it… unless he had already done so.
Captains Ochre and Magenta were assigned to try to find out if there were any kind of official or unofficial events for ‘Admiral Charles Gray’ to attend that would suit an eventual Mysteron plan… or if, by any chance, the said admiral had already been seen somewhere. Captain Grey was checking anything out of the ordinary, in the recent past or near future, in the Navy area. Everybody was still searching for who the second “honoured outlawed hero” could be and what the Mysterons’ intended target was.
Captains Scarlet and Blue took it upon themselves to see if there was a way to possibly get some information out of Colonel White. They realised from the beginning it would not be easy at all.
Doctor Weiss, head psychiatrist at the Spectrum Medical Centre, was trying very hard to make the colonel listen to reason. After hours of fruitless attempts, she agreed with Blue and Scarlet that it would be a good idea to call upon Symphony Angel to give a helping hand. Symphony had worked for the U.S.S., prior to joining the Spectrum organisation; she had experience of questioning people, even those in conditions similar to that of Colonel White – although, she had to admit, not QUITE in his condition. She knew how to be gentle and tactful in those kinds of circumstances. More importantly, she had been in contact with Charles Gray a few times during the course of her work in the Secret Service. Blue and Scarlet had hoped her presence and questions could somehow trigger some memory in Colonel White’s mind which would prove helpful to him.
So far, it hadn’t worked much better.
Captain Blue was standing in front of the large window of the observation room, arms folded, looking rather gloomy. On the other side of the window, seated at a small table, Colonel White was facing Doctor Weiss and Symphony. He was looking very calm, seemingly in control of himself, and not threatening at all. Spectrum wasn’t taking any chance with him, however. Handcuffs with magnetic locks, which could not be picked, had been secured around his wrists, and then attached in front of him to a belt. Even his feet were restrained too. A security guard, unarmed to avoid giving any ideas to the prisoner, stood next to the door, behind him, discreetly away from the table, but keeping a watchful eye on it.
Captain Scarlet entered the observation room, and came to stand next to his partner. He had come from the Control Room, where he had been for the last few hours, checking U.S.S. data with Lieutenant Green. He had a file under his arm.
“Any good news?”
Blue shook his head. “No, sorry, ” he answered sombrely. “There’s no change at all. He’s still the same.” He sighed and then turned away from the window to walk towards the table beside them. He poured himself a glass of water from a pitcher and drank it with one big gulp. Scarlet stared at him intensely.
“Maybe you should get some rest, Adam. You’ve been up for a long time…”
“Don’t feel tired.” Blue put down his glass and gestured toward the glass window. “Besides, who could sleep while he’s that way?”
“What have they talked about, all this time?”
“The girls have been doing all of the talking, actually,” Blue grumbled. “HIM, he doesn’t say much. They tried to make him talk about his time in the Navy… About himself, his family, his wife…”
“Did Doctor Weiss tell him that she was…”
“No, not yet. She’s still unsure how he would take the news of her death… That she’s actually been dead for the past seventeen years.” Blue shook his head. “He doesn’t remember much about the day he was captured. Except what Rhapsody had already told us about it: that he was at his old friend Dooley’s house and that he was ready to meet with her…”
“… And that he believed she betrayed him to his enemies, and lured him into a trap.”
“Right. He remembers what they’ve done to him quite vividly… Although it seems evident he doesn’t know WHY exactly. He figures they wanted to make him talk. He figures that WE are THEY.” Blue sighed again and poured himself another glass of water. “Doctor Weiss and Symphony tried to convince him we’re not the same guys who had done this to him, that we were on his side and that we wanted to help him. Didn’t work.” He took a sip. “They told him again and again that the civil war in Britain was LONG finished, that there were no more rebels there, and that in fact the rebels had won. That didn’t work either. He thinks that’s some kind of a trick to get to him. They told him about his time in the Secret Service; that didn’t work out EITHER. He’s still living in the world the Dream Spinner put in his head.” Blue put the glass down again. “So the girls questioned him. Tried to make HIM explain to them WHY he believes so strongly that world to be true.” He turned to his partner. “I don’t know how many times they tried, how many times they asked him the same questions, again and again… Neither Doctor Weiss nor Symphony can reach him.”
“Did Doctor Weiss talk to him about what he said while he was delirious?” Scarlet asked.
Blue nodded slowly. During his transport back to Cloudbase, and while under the care of Doctor Fawn in sickbay, Colonel White had talked a lot in his feverish delirium. Not enough to make himself understood clearly, however, but still, some of his words had aroused curiosity.
He was pleading with somebody to leave him alone, to stop hurting him. He had desperately called out to his father, to his wife, to a man named Jack… That one he seemed quite angry with, since he hurled imprecations at him, accusing him of being a murderer. And there was another name that had caught attention, when he had called it out.
He had mentioned ‘Conrad’.
It wasn’t clear yet if the Colonel was recalling some old memories regarding the man he had long considered his friend… Or if he was remembering something that had happened to him recently. Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet knew that Black was somehow involved with their commander’s disappearance, two days earlier. Maybe that was coming back to haunt the Colonel.
“They tried that too,” Blue answered his friend. “But it didn’t touch him in any way. It’s like he doesn’t want to hear them out.”
“That’s exactly it, I’m afraid.” Scarlet stared through the window, thoughtfully. “So, no clues about the traumatic memory that was used as a basis for the Dream Spinner treatment…”
“The… ‘noose’, as Doctor Fawn called it? No. So far, not a clue.” Blue shook his head. “Do you think it could be his wife’s death?”
“No, he would probably remember it, then. I’d say it’s probably something that happened when he was in the British Navy, some twenty-five years or so ago…” Scarlet sighed. “That damned contraption they used on him has done considerable damage,” he noted dryly. He opened the file and took out a large photograph, which he handed to Blue. “Here. The U.S.S. sent this to us a few minutes ago. This is what a dream spinner looks like.”
Blue examined the picture closely. It showed a padded operating table, surrounded by all kinds of electronic devices. The table was obviously controlled by a complicated computer board, linked to the various monitors. Electrodes and wires covered the floor, connected to the table, under which a piece of hydraulic machinery was apparent. Blue took the rest of the file from Scarlet and read a detailed description of the dream spinner.
The hair on the back of his head stood up straight as he read.
Metal cylinders, containing hallucinogenic gases of unknown composition, connected to a respirator, which was to be placed on the patient’s nose and mouth.
Digital sound disk containing recorded ultrasonic waves, with subliminal messages, usually employed during brainwashing sessions; the sound conveyed to the patient by the use of ear-jacks.
High voltage electrodes, to be put on strategic parts of the patient’s body, to break down his physical resistance.
Long hypodermic needle, mounted onto a hydraulic device, set directly under the patient’s head…
Heavy duty restraints…
Blue read two more lines before angrily throwing down the file, scattering its contents across the table behind him. It was all he could do not to tear the papers into shreds. “Drugs, electricity, ultrasonic waves… They used all the dirty bag of tricks on him!” the American lashed out furiously. “According to this, they even used a gag so he couldn’t cry out! This is… monstrous! Why did the Mysterons put him through that treatment?”
“Unfortunately, this Dream Spinner thing is not the Mysterons’ doing,” Scarlet replied. Blue stared at him. Scarlet shrugged, gesturing toward the file. “That thing wasn’t conceived by a Mysteron mind. Maybe they used it, but a human mind definitely invented it. The U.S.S. told us the British section had one of those devices, taken in a raid some years ago… The thing was supposed to be safely dismantled, stashed away, in secure storage… They checked up on it after our call. It had completely disappeared…”
“Disappeared…?” Blue repeated, frowning “You mean, stolen?”
“From a secure storage facility of the Secret Service, yes… An inside job, most probably.”
“The Mysterons have infiltrated the Secret Service?”
“Well, just to be sure, I’ve already dispatched agents from Spectrum London to check that out. They’ll investigate everyone who may have been able to pull a trick like that. Checking them out with Mysteron detectors, looking into possible ‘accidents’ the Mysterons could have used to their advantage… With the collaboration of the U.S.S., of course.” He paused a second. “But quite frankly, I doubt if they’d find any Mysteron insider.”
Blue gave his friend an odd look. “What do you mean?”
Scarlet shook his head. “We’ve already checked out ‘accidents’ in the vicinity of London, Blue. When we were looking for the colonel. We would have found out if any U.S.S. employee had been killed…”
“Except if said accident was carefully covered up.”
“Well, that’s also a possibility. Anyway, that official from the U.S.S. British Section who talked to me said the Dream Spinner had probably been stolen months ago… He wasn’t too proud of admitting it to me, you know. So, if an insider did the job, any evidence of it could have been erased with time. Furthermore, the Mysterons don’t work that way. Planning something like this, MONTHS in advance? That’s definitely not their style. And seeing as ‘human agents’ are being used by the Mysterons for this particular case…”
“The insider may be human,” Blue finished.
Scarlet snorted. “The colonel would have a fit! He worked so hard to purge the service when he was there…”
“What are we facing here, exactly?” Blue murmured, pondering, gazing into empty space. “You’re right, Mysterons wouldn’t plan a scheme like this on a prolonged schedule… And using a device like this Dream Spinner… Even knowing that they need human agents to do their dirty work this time, it’s so unlike them.” He stared back at his friend. “What if it were humans who did that to the old man?”
Scarlet nodded slowly. “That would explain the hired hands, the brainwashing session, the stolen goods from the U.S.S. months ago…”
“Working for the Mysterons,” Blue added, frowning. “Hired by them… Who could they be? Another party, with its own agenda, maybe? They CAN’T be aware of the Mysterons’ true objectives! No human in his right mind would help them to achieve ‘ultimate destruction of life on Earth’!”
“One can only guess, Captain.”
“Makes you so proud to be part of the human race, doesn’t it?” Blue sighed.
“That’s only a theory, Blue,” Scarlet noted quietly. “We have no evidence that there is indeed such a group, working for the Mysterons. Until we can be sure of that, we’d better keep it to ourselves.” He paused. “Maybe the colonel will be able to tell us something about that, when he’s himself again.”
“You’re right,” Blue admitted, nodding. “Let’s not spread the word around for the time being.” He sighed. “Well, humans or Mysterons, they’d better stay out of my way. I don’t think I’d be able to control myself.”
“Angry’s not the word. Furious. Completely outraged. Even IF they used humans, the Mysterons ARE responsible to what happened to the colonel. I can’t believe they did such an awful thing to him.” Blue looked at White, through the window, and then turned his attention toward his friend. “There are no depths they won’t stoop to, are there? Taking over Conrad, killing you and Steve to tamper with your genes and control you… That wasn’t enough for them. They had to do this to him.” He sighed again. “At least they didn’t Mysteronise him,”
“No. What they did to him was worse,” Scarlet remarked. He walked to the table and gathered the papers back into the file. Blue gave him a puzzled look. Scarlet shook his head. “It looks like he has had a bad and very painful experience,” the Brit explained. “At least, my… death… was quicker.”
“It wasn’t quick at all,” Blue replied bitterly. “And certainly not painless. They let you burn alive, Paul.”
“I know. Remember I still have nightmares about it from time to time.” He patted his friend’s shoulder. “I was talking in relative terms, Adam. I don’t know how much time it took them to subvert his mind. But it must certainly have been slow, and excruciatingly painful, if we are to judge by all those instruments described in there and the marks on his body. They must have worked on him for hours.”
“According to Doctor Fawn, some twelve hours,” Blue sighed. “Lord, it’s horrible.” He took another look through the window. “I pray we’ll be able to help him out.”
“We have to think we will. Listen, I know how you feel about this… I feel the same, too. But, we still have a job to do. Remember, we have a Mysteron threat to face.”
“They intended to use the colonel. We have him now. Could it be enough to stop them?”
“If I know them – and I know them well – I have to say no. And you know that too. The colonel is just one card. The Mysterons still have another.”
“Right. That second outlawed hero. We still have no idea who it could be. Someone in that group of hired hands, maybe?”
“There’s somebody who may be able to help locate him… or her, since we don’t know who we’re looking for, exactly.”
“Not in his present state of mind, Scarlet. You saw it. He still thinks of us as the enemy. So far, we haven’t managed to convince him to the contrary.”
“Then we have to try harder. We have to get that information on what the Mysterons are up to this time. You said it yourself: they intended to use him. He must KNOW something.” Captain Scarlet gave a low sigh. “And the deadline established by the Mysterons isn’t our only problem, you know… We have yet another one, that makes this situation even more urgent.”
“You’re talking about Spectrum Intelligence, right?”
Scarlet nodded. “Our friend Conners keeps calling here, demanding to speak to Colonel White. I don’t know how long we will be able to keep this up. We certainly don’t want HIM – or anybody else in his section – to find out what’s happened to the colonel. The minute they know, they’ll want to question him themselves. He may be Spectrum’s supreme commander, but, in the state he’s in right now, he no longer has the capacity to command. They will be quick to point that out to us. In that case, Intelligence will have full authority to take charge.”
“Would it really be so bad to let them, then? It’s their job to question people. They could get results, where we can’t.”
“You forget: Conners is in charge of the investigation.”
“Oh!” Blue gave it some thought. “I’m sure he would LOVE to have the Colonel under his responsibility. He knows how the old man despises him.”
“Right,” Scarlet said gloomily. “Well, I have no intention whatsoever of letting Conners get his dirty hands on Colonel White. I still remember what he did to me.”
“He wouldn’t DARE go to those lengths with our commander!”
“I wouldn’t bet on it. Anyway, neither Spectrum Intelligence nor Conners knows about the colonel’s present predicament… So why tell them?”
Blue narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Are you seriously suggesting that we CONTINUE to keep the charade up?”
“As long as it can work.”
“You said yourself earlier that you didn’t know how long we’ll be able to keep it up.”
“We need all the time we can get, Blue. So we can get ourselves the information we need… and, at the same time, to help the old man get out of this jam.”
“You know, when you present it that way, it sounds like a piece of cake,” Blue replied, rather mockingly. “May I make just an itsy bitsy note of interest, here? If that sympathetic fellow Conners – or anybody else for that matter – ever finds out what we’re doing right now… you do realise we may end up in deep trouble? At the very least, we… could be charged with conspiracy.”
“Colonel White’s last order, before he went down to the surface a few days ago, was to give us command over Spectrum, Captain Blue,” Scarlet replied with a faint smile.
“Oh, sure… I bet it will look GOOD as a defence during our court-martial… You know as well as I do that it was meant as a temporary measure, Scarlet.”
“As it will be, Captain. As it will be.”
“And what do you think the colonel will say about this, if – when – he’s his old self again?”
Scarlet’s smile was again a faint one. “Knowing him, I’m fairly sure he’ll be tempted to put both of us up in front of a firing squad… And that, given the circumstances, he would probably step in front of it with us.”
“In which case, at least ONE of us will survive.”
“I need your consent for this, Blue. But if you feel otherwise, I…”
“Did I say I wouldn’t back you up?” Blue grinned in turn. “You know I will, Captain. We’re partners. We always stand together.”
Scarlet thanked him with a nod. “We’ll have to inform the senior staff about this,” he added. “Discreetly.”
“I already asked for their discretion, earlier. I don’t think they will present any difficulty in continuing to keep the secret a while longer. For the colonel’s sake.” Blue paused a second, and lowered his gaze. “May I ask you a question, Paul?”
“What is it?”
“Why are you doing this?” Blue looked again at his friend. “Why are you willing to risk so much, personally, to help him out? I know you’re not doing it only to stop the Mysterons…”
“You have to ask why?” Scarlet looked through the window, directly toward their commander, still sitting there, obstinately keeping his defence up against Doctor Weiss and Symphony Angel. “Don’t you know the answer?”
“I guess I know, yes,” Blue sighed. “Because of the way he stuck his neck out for YOU two years ago, when nobody else in the World Government believed in you?”
Scarlet nodded. “He put his career on the line for me. I owe him that much… And why are YOU doing it?”
“Me?” Blue gave a glance too toward Colonel White, before giving his answer, very quietly. As much as I love my father, I never felt like he was the kind of man I would like to become. He never was much of the role model for me. Colonel White, on the other hand... Well, that's the sort of man I certainly would like to become."
"You're already half-way there, Big Blue," Scarlet told him with a fond smile.
"Oh, do come on," Blue mumbled, feeling the heat coming to his ears. He cleared his voice. “So… how do we proceed now?”
* * *
Charles Gray felt tired. And annoyed. He had not slept soundly for hours… days, it seemed to him. It was even more apparent his body was in dire need of rest since his capture by Spectrum.
He had to admit they didn’t mistreat him. They had kept him under guard, in a comfortable enough room, with a decent bed, gave him a shower, tended to his injuries and offered him food – that last thing he had obstinately refused. He was far too afraid they would put some kind of medication or drug into his nourishment to take the chance of eating anything. He had only accepted some water, from a cooler, and had insisted that it was tasted before drinking it himself. One of the guards assigned to him had no trouble complying with his demand. Gray had deemed it safe enough and had drunk his fill.
That first woman had been questioning him for hours now. Three, four, even five… he didn’t know exactly. He had no means of telling. Strange questions, she had asked him… She kept enquiring for his name, and encouraged him to talk about himself. It was obvious she was a psychiatrist of some sort. It wasn’t so rare that psychiatrists should conduct interrogation sessions. Under the cover of friendliness, and kindness, they could wheedle their way into a person’s mind to find what they were looking for. Gray knew he had to be very careful what he told this woman… And not to listen to anything she might say in return, in order to make him talk.
Then came that other woman. Younger, apparently in her late twenties, tall, with blonde hair, very beautiful. She was casually, yet fashionably, dressed, and didn’t look at all like a psychiatrist. And even less like an interrogator. This made Gray even more suspicious of her. She kept referring to how they knew each other, how they had met in the past… Gray didn’t remember ever seeing her, but she seemed so sincere, he wondered if it was true… After all, there were big holes in his memory… She could be telling the truth. However, he had to stay cautious. Since she was with Spectrum, there was an enormous possibility that she was trying to confuse him into making a mistake that would make him talk a little too much…
He had noticed her American accent. Is this Spectrum organisation using a bunch of mercenaries or what? Gray wondered. Up to now, he had encountered two English people, one Irish, some Americans and a doctor who sounded slightly Australian… Who were all those people, anyway? And more importantly, what did they want from him?
They were civil enough toward him. Perhaps TOO civil. Certainly, that was hiding something.
“Ladies,” he said to the two women, after the older one had made a lengthy, talkative speech, “haven’t you had enough of this conversation? This is becoming boring…”
Doctor Weiss stared him straight in the eyes. “Because you have the impression we’re having a conversation?” she asked him. “If you were actually talking to us, Charles, we would be having one…”
“But I AM talking to you,” he answered with a faint, mocking smile.
She was constantly addressing him by his first name. Like a friend of old. Obviously a strategy to get him to open up.
“Not really, since you don’t listen to what we have to say,” she replied in her turn.
“Then maybe it’s because I don’t find what you’re saying interesting.” He frowned. “I’m still trying to figure out WHAT it is you want from me.”
“We keep telling you, sir,” Symphony then said, “We want you to remember.”
“And if there’s nothing TO remember?”
“You did admit you had trouble with your memory,” Doctor Weiss noted.
“Yes… But it doesn’t mean I have to accept all these things you’re trying to convince me are true.”
Doctor Weiss exchanged glances with Symphony. For the past hours, they had done nothing but go round in circles… They knew Colonel White was growing tired, but he was stubbornly keeping his guard up. They were tiring too, which made things all the more difficult. Obviously, he had far more resistance than they…
The intercom gave a faint signal, before the voice of Captain Blue made itself heard in the interrogation room: “Doctor Weiss, would you mind coming to see me for a minute, please?”
Weiss stared at the intercom for a second, wondering what it was about; in principle, the interrogation was not to be disturbed, but seeing as it wasn’t going anywhere so far… She stood up, giving a nod toward Symphony and, followed by the attentive eyes of Colonel White, walked toward the door. It slid open to let her out.
White eyed the guard standing there, still watching him closely. The Spectrum commander turned back to face Symphony. He gazed at her intensely for a brief instant, before clearing his throat.
“Well, it seems we’re alone, you and I,” he noted.
She shook her head. “You forget Jarvis, over there.”
“The security guard?” White shrugged. “He doesn’t count.” He paused. “Now that that psychiatrist is out of the picture, maybe we can have a normal discussion…”
“I seem to recall that it’s what we’ve been trying to do for the last few hours.” Symphony was keeping on her guard. She wondered what could be going on in the head of her commander right now.
“So according to you, we’ve known each other for a number of years. We worked for… the U.S.S.?”
“Yes… The Universal Secret Service…”
“I know what the U.S.S. is, young lady. And we worked there together?”
“Not exactly. We were from two different departments. I was in the New York based department. You headed the British section. But we met during the course of our work. The first time during a social event.”
“Is that so?” Charles Gray gave a devilish smile. She’s lying, he decided. ME, head of the British Section of the U.S.S.? There was no British Section for the U.S.S., to begin with. However, there was a Military Intelligence Bureau, based in London, and their work there looked a lot like what the U.S.S. was doing elsewhere… Could there be collaboration between these two organisations? Perhaps… The U.S.S. was a World Government organisation … And Spectrum was too, according to that red-haired girl who had briefly been Gray’s captive. It seemed obvious that the World Government was helping the Militarists against the rebels now.
I wonder what else she will tell me, Gray asked himself, staring at Symphony. He was curious to know…
“So we met during a social event?” he repeated thoughtfully.
“Nearly five years ago. In London,” Symphony nodded.
“So if what you say is true… you must have met my wife as well?”
Symphony kept a set face; she knew Colonel White believed his wife to still be alive. So far, Doctor Weiss hadn’t tried to convince him otherwise. Truth to tell, she didn’t know how to handle this particular part of the problem. Until the Colonel became really aware of his condition, it might not prove safe to tell him. There was no way to guess how he would react, considering his present state.
“No, she wasn’t there,” Symphony said simply, without really lying. “But you made quite an impression on me… Sir Charles.”
Gray frowned. “What did you call me?”
“Sir Charles. That’s how you were presented to me. You were wearing some badges on your chest I had never seen before. And a cross on a red ribbon around your neck, and a red sash going from the right shoulder to the left hip…” She smiled slightly. “Before that day, I had never encountered a real-life English knight…”
Gray’s jaw dropped. “Knight? Me?”
“Somebody explained to me what the badges and sash meant. Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath.”
“You’re pulling my leg…” Gray mumbled.
“I wouldn’t dare, sir.”
“Who do you think you’re kidding?” Gray replied, frowning even more deeply, raising his voice. “‘Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath’? How could I have been awarded one of the most prestigious honours British Royalty has to offer? There is no more Monarchy in Britain. The Royal Family has been in exile for years… How could I have been knighted, then?”
“STOP lying to me, young woman!” Gray hissed between his teeth, his eyes flashing.
“Please, sir, try to stay calm,” Symphony told him, rather worriedly.
“I am calm.” Charles Gray glanced toward the security guard behind him. The man had made a step in his direction. “Steady on, Jarvis… I’m not about to jump at anyone’s throat.” He moved a little on the chair he was seated on, making his cuffs jingle against the metal ring attaching them to the belt. “I’m not in any position to do that, you know?” he added, giving the man a sardonic grin.
Jarvis kept a stern face; Symphony gestured him not to move, and he stepped back to his place, right next to the door, his eyes still riveted on the prisoner. The latter turned back to face the young woman.
“You don’t believe me,” she remarked quietly.
“Why should I believe you?” he replied coolly. “It’s obvious you Spectrum people are trying to confuse me…”
“We’re not trying to confuse you.”
“Well, you would say that… You’re following your superiors’ orders by doing this, right?” Gray gave Symphony a curious gaze. A faint smile crossed his face. “What is your name?”
“I told you that already. It’s Symphony.”
Gray frowned. “That’s not your real name…”
“That’s the one you gave me,” Symphony answered.
“I gave you?”
“When I joined Spectrum, about three years ago.”
Gray shrugged. “You’re still trying, right?” He paused, staring at her. “What if you’re not really following your superiors’ orders? What if, instead, you’re a compulsive liar or something like that, and you can’t help telling lies?”
“I’m not lying to you, sir.”
“Either way, it’s not your fault.” He gave her another smile. “What is it your superiors want from me?”
“I can tell you we don’t want to do you any harm.” Symphony carefully answered.
Gray nodded quietly. “Coming from you, I can believe that…” He paused. “You don’t look like a bad person…”
She looked at him sharply. “You have something on your mind, sir?”
He kept staring at her for a few seconds, with a very grave look. He bent toward her, the best he could, given his restraints and the table between them. “Help me get out of this, Symphony,” he said in a whisper, almost pleading. “Help me get my freedom back. Come with me and join the cause. We can use someone like you…”
Symphony almost drew back; she hadn’t been expecting this. She shook her head. “I don’t think it would be in your best interest if I did that, sir.”
Gray sighed inwardly. He hadn’t really expected her to leap at his proposal, but he had to try. This didn’t make it any less frustrating. “Haven’t you had enough of this?” he continued insistently. “Don’t you get tired of being used by others?”
“I’m not the one who’s being used here… sir.”
He frowned. “And what do you mean by that?”
Symphony didn’t have time to answer. The door behind Colonel White slid open and she saw Captain Scarlet entering, a file in his hand, and stopping just inside the doorway. She looked past the colonel’s eyes to gaze into the other officer’s.
“All right, Symphony,” he told her. “That will be all, for now.”
She nodded and quietly stood up to leave her seat, making a large detour around Colonel White to walk toward the door. The Spectrum commander didn’t turn around to follow her or to acknowledge the other man’s presence. The young woman stopped next to Scarlet and gave him a thankful look. “I think you arrived just in time, Captain,” she whispered to him. “I was getting the impression he was about to lose his cool.”
“I heard,” Scarlet answered in the same tone, his eyes on Colonel White’s back. “I had the same impression.” He looked at the young woman. “You did your best. I’m taking over.”
“You...?” Symphony stared at him for a second, perplexed. Then she smiled sadly. “I hope YOU won’t lose your temper.”
Coming from anyone else, Scarlet could have taken offence at that remark. As it was, from Symphony, and knowing how straightforward she was, he could only smile back in humour. He could never get angry with her. She was too much like him. Like the little sister he never had.
“You know me too well,” he replied. “Don’t worry, though. You can go, now. Take a few hours rest. You’ve earned it.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Symphony walked through the door, which slid closed behind her.
Scarlet turned his attention again toward the man seated at the table, obstinately keeping his eyes front. He must have recognised my voice, the British captain mused to himself. I don’t know what he could be thinking right now, but I’m sure he’s preparing for a confrontation with me…
Scarlet quietly walked round the table toward the chair Symphony had occupied a minute ago. Charles Gray glanced toward the young man, dressed in the bright red tunic, who passed near him. Indeed, when he had addressed the girl, upon his entrance into the room, the former admiral had recognised the voice of the Spectrum agent who had taken him prisoner – when was that? The day before? Since then, Gray hadn’t seen anything of him. He had been wondering where he could be…
“I heard what you said to Symphony,” Captain Scarlet told him quietly after clearing his throat. “Believe me when I say it wasn’t worth the effort. She’s not the kind of woman who can be bought that way…” He sat down, putting his file on the table in front of him. He noticed then the perplexed, even dumbfounded frown on Colonel White’s features, as he stared intensely at him.
“Excuse me,” the older man noted ever so calmly, “by any chance, do you have a TWIN, or something like that?”
Scarlet stared back at him, with an inquisitive look. The Colonel shrugged, nodding straight at the young officer’s face. “I would have thought that I’d done as much damage to the face of the man who captured me as he did to mine…” He frowned more deeply. “And I’m pretty sure I CUT him…”
Scarlet looked intently at the bruised face of his commander. He slowly shook his head. “It’s a… rather long story,” he said, hesitantly.
“Tell it to me. It seems I have all the time in the world.”
“Well, I, for one, haven’t. Sorry. It will have to wait.”
Gray shrugged indifferently. The door slid open again behind him, and Captain Blue stepped in. Gray slightly turned his head in his direction. Him too, he recognised.
The blond officer who had prevented his escape from the sickbay.
“Are things arranged with Doctor Weiss, Captain?” Scarlet asked his colleague.
He had asked Blue to inform the psychiatrist of their decision to take over from her and Symphony and have a conversion with Colonel White themselves. He was wondering what Doctor Weiss would think of that idea. He saw Blue nodding at his question. “Not only is it arranged, but she even thinks it’s not such a bad idea.”
“You don’t say…”
“Said it could even do a lot of good for him to see familiar faces and have a talk with us.”
Familiar faces, indeed, Scarlet mused. Considering in which circumstances he ‘met’ with each of us recently… Maybe we’ll be able to smooth things over a little, here. He addressed Colonel White. “You do recognise Captain Blue, sir?”
“We’ve… encountered each other.”
That wasn’t the answer either Scarlet or Blue had hoped to hear; but somehow, it didn’t surprise them.
Blue turned to the security guard, still standing next to the door. “Will you hand me the key, Corporal Jarvis?”
“Captain?” There was a puzzled look on the guard’s face.
“The key to the restraints. Give it to me, please.”
Corporal Jarvis nodded and produced the key from his trouser pocket. Blue took it, and gestured toward the exit. “Leave us, now. We won’t need you for the time being.”
“Are you sure, Captain?”
“Captain Scarlet and I will be able to handle the prisoner if any problem arises.”
Jarvis hesitated a brief instant before nodding his acknowledgement. He walked out the door and it slid closed after him. Blue quietly came toward Colonel White who was looking at him expectantly.
“What is it you intend to do now?” he asked sombrely. “Gentle persuasion didn’t work out, so now you’re planning to be more brutal?”
“I just want to remove those restraints, that’s all. I’ll feel more comfortable seeing you out of them… And I’m sure you’ll feel that way too.” Blue crouched in front of a disbelieving White and unlocked the cuffs, freeing his hands. He did the same with the feet before standing up to go sit beside Scarlet. The latter was casting a thoughtful glance toward their commander who had brought his hands up to rub his sore wrists. White shot him back a suspicious look.
“Isn’t it better that way? Blue asked with a faint smile.
He saw the Spectrum commander shaking his head, apparently unsure. “I really don’t know. I’m still wondering about your motivation in setting me free. It’s not the sort of… ‘interrogation’ I’d expected of you.”
“Why is it that you’re always expecting the worst from us?” Scarlet asked.
“You nearly killed me,” White responded ruefully. “Why shouldn’t I expect the worst?”
“He’s got a point there,” Blue noted quietly.
White nodded toward Scarlet. “I seem to recall, however, that YOU saved my life.”
“You KNEW that gun was going to explode.”
“I merely suspected it could be defective.”
“What KIND of a weapon was it? I’ve never seen anything like it… And I certainly never saw one blow up like that before.”
“An electron gun,” Blue explained. “We… use it against Mysterons.”
“That’s not the first time I’ve heard that word… ‘Mysterons’. Who are they?”
“At this point, if we told you exactly what they are, you wouldn’t believe us,” Blue answered. “Let’s just say they’re responsible for your… present state.”
White frowned. “And what do you mean by my… ‘present state’, exactly?”
“You experience severe memory loss,” Scarlet explained. “Disorientation, sudden mood changes, violent behaviour, paranoia… Not to mention, of late, headaches, sudden rises in body temperature, and shakes…”
The older man scoffed sulkily. “What are you… doctors?”
“That’s not ours, but Doctor Weiss and Doctor Fawn’s diagnosis,” Blue replied. “You remember Doctor Fawn? You wanted to wring his neck in sickbay early this morning… After he had tended to you.”
“Sorry. I had a rather bad experience with doctors recently,” White replied somewhat coldly.
“That’s what we understood.” Scarlet produced a picture from his file and carefully slid it across table, face down, toward White. “I think you know about this… Tell me if I’m wrong.”
White eyed the younger man with a probing look, before taking the picture and turning it over to take a look at it. The two captains saw him cringe upon looking at what they knew was in the picture. He raised a furious, yet controlled gaze upon them.
“I get it,” he said in a low, sinister tone. “If I don’t prove co-operative enough, you’re going to put me back on that thing, aren’t you?”
“You DON’T get it,” Blue quickly answered. He gave a sideways look at his partner. “I told you it would be a bit too harsh showing it to him that way…”
“Nobody will put you back on that thing, sir,” Scarlet said in a reassuring tone. “We don’t want to do you any harm.”
“You Spectrum people keep saying that… Why show me that?”
“We wanted to make sure you recognized it. That picture has been sent to us by the Universal Secret Service. It’s a dream spinner. That’s the origin of your problems.”
“And you think I don’t KNOW that?” White angrily threw the picture onto the table. “Am I to believe the U.S.S. is using this contraption to question its prisoners?”
“The U.S.S. doesn’t use this device,” Blue replied. “And its purpose isn’t interrogation.”
“WHAT is it, then?”
“It’s a mind controlling device,” Scarlet answered. “It implants false memories… and erases real ones. It makes people believe things. To push them to act in a certain way.”
White’s face stayed imperturbable. He stared suspiciously at the two men. “Your Doctor Weiss and that little lady with her…"
“Symphony HATES being called a ‘little lady’,” Blue noted.
“Anyway, they’ve already tried that line with me,” White noted flatly. “They didn’t succeed in convincing me. What makes you believe you will?”
“We HAVE to convince you, sir,” Blue replied, shaking his head.
“GOOD LUCK, then,” White shot back, stressing every word. “I’m not a fool you can manipulate easily!”
“Unfortunately, you already HAVE been manipulated,” Scarlet retorted with a dull tone.
“Don’t be IMPERTINENT, young sir!” White looked at each of the two captains in front of him. “What IS IT you want from me?”
“We want our commander back,” Blue answered.
“That man is dead!” White said savagely, between his teeth.
“No, I don’t think so,” Scarlet retorted, his calm contrasting with the older man’s agitation. “I believe he’s still very much alive…”
White gave him an intent look. “You’re still implying I AM your commander,” he realised, shaking his head. “I am not your Colonel White.”
“Yes, you are,” Blue insisted.
“That’s insane… If you believe so strongly NOW that I am your commander, why did you try to kill me BEFORE?”
“It’s rather difficult to explain… But believe us, you are Colonel White.”
White’s features became hard. “My name is Gray, Charles Gray. Former captain of the British Navy. Former admiral of the World Navy. My identification number is 187C34729…”
“That’s all true, ‘Admiral’,” Scarlet answered, sighing. “But it’s also true you’re Colonel White, supreme commander of Spectrum.”
“…And your boss, then?” White asked sarcastically. “Then I order you to let me go!”
“That’s a bit premature at this point.”
“I thought you‘d say that… Listen, I’m tired of your game…”
“It’s not a game. It’s deadly serious.”
“Oh, THAT I can believe!” White shook his head. “If I don’t play this your way, what’s going to happen to me?”
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make you see the truth,” Scarlet said. “Eventually.”
“And hopefully, before it’s too late,” Blue added.
“Too late for what?” an annoyed White replied.
He didn’t receive any answer; the two Spectrum captains exchanged glances. Upon Blue’s nodding to him, Scarlet cleared his throat. “Would you mind answering a few simple questions… ‘Admiral’?”
Charles Gray braced himself. Here it comes, he thought grimly. The real questioning begins. I’d better be careful of what’s going to happen now. “I’m warning you, I’m not about to let you…”
“What year is it?”
White stopped in the middle of his sentence, interrupted by the English captain’s quiet and unusual question. He frowned. “What?”
“What year is it?” Scarlet repeated, carefully stressing each word very calmly. He saw the other man hesitate.
“What kind of question is that?”
“How OLD are you, sir?” he asked again.
“I was born July 14th, 2017…”
“That’s not what I asked. I want you to tell me your age.”
White scoffed. “Can’t you work that out yourself?”
“Why won’t you answer, sir?” Blue asked quietly.
White kept silent. Scarlet narrowed his eyes at him. “You don’t want to answer because you don’t know,” he noted quietly.
“That’s preposterous!” White grumbled.
“Is it?” Blue replied. “I would say it appears you don’t know what year it is… Why is that?”
Still no answer.
“How long since you retired from the World Navy?” Scarlet asked.
“I didn’t retire. I…” White stopped again, obviously searching for the right word.
“Quit?” Scarlet suggested. “Or better… deserted?”
“Tell us in what circumstances,“ Blue added.
“I wasn’t happy at the way the World Government turned its back on the British people.”
“How did the World Government do that exactly?”
“Do you want me to give you a history lesson?” an aggressive White replied.
“I’m a historian,” Scarlet answered back. “And I can assure you, the World Government never did what you implied.” He shook his head. “You didn’t ‘desert’, sir. You retired from the World Navy with full honours. An admiral at thirty-one… A hero.”
Colonel White gave a faint snort of contempt. “Talk about a hero…” he murmured.
Scarlet raised an eyebrow. Touched a raw nerve, here… I wonder what’s eating at him? He exchanged another glance with Captain Blue. His partner had obviously noticed the same thing.
“Is something wrong, sir?” Scarlet asked carefully.
He saw the older man shrug with indifference. “You say you’re a historian. YOU tell me.”
“We’d rather you did, Colonel,” Blue insisted.
White turned a furious look toward him. “Stop calling me that! My name is Charles Gray,” he repeated, obstinately. “I was an admiral in the World Navy. Identification number 187C34729… I’ve got no more to say to you!”
“You’ve got much more to say than you think,” Scarlet replied. “Who’s the ‘Thorn’?”
“Does the codename ‘Thorn’ mean anything to you?” Scarlet insisted.
“Never heard that name before in my life!”
“We’re sure to the contrary,” Blue replied again, pointing to the older man. “You’re the ‘Thorn’.”
White frowned. “What?” he murmured. “What are you saying?”
“Or rather you were. That’s the codename under which you were known when you were a field agent in the U.S.S.”
White smiled sarcastically. “According to that young blonde woman I was HEAD of the British section of the U.S.S.!”
“You started out as field agent. That’s why you retired from the Navy…”
“Quite a demotion. I would have relinquished a rank of admiral for a job as a FIELD AGENT?”
“Why not? According to you, you would have relinquished it for a job as a fulltime rebel.”
“I’ve only done what my conscience and duty were telling me to do!” White snapped angrily.
“So you did when you joined the British section of the Secret Service.”
“There’s no such thing as a U.S.S. British Section. There never has been!”
“You’re wrong,” Scarlet quickly retorted. “Throughout the time the Militarist Government was in power in Britain, there was an underground service bureau of the U.S.S. in England. It was monitoring the Government of the time. It’s through that underground bureau that the British rebels came into contact with the World Government to ask for President Bandranaik’s help.”
White gave the young man a suspicious look. “How did you know that?” he asked.
“I told you: I’m a historian. And my family had its part in the insurrection.” He looked sharply at the older man. “Did YOU know any of that information yourself, sir?”
“What are you trying to get me to say?“
“How is it you didn’t know about the U.S.S.’s involvement with the rebels?” Scarlet persisted.
“I don’t know ANYTHING about the US.S.! I’ve never been part of it! If you think I would BETRAY my own…”
“How about your wife?”
Hearing Scarlet’s words, Colonel White became totally livid. “Leave my wife out of this!” he warned the younger man.
“Don’t go too far, Scarlet,” Blue whispered to his friend.
“I must, Captain,” Scarlet replied dully, his eyes riveted on those of his obviously infuriated commander. “We have to go on.”
“If you make any kind of threat toward my wife,” White said between clenched teeth addressing Scarlet directly, “I swear to you, I’ll kill you!”
“I already told you, killing me won’t do you any good. And I promise you, I’m not threatening your wife. I just want you to tell me how you met her.”
“What’s that got to do with anything you’re telling me right now?” White shot back. “I told you to leave her OUT of this!”
“Tell me how you met her!” Scarlet demanded forcefully.
“I don’t have to tell you that!” White shouted back.
“Why?” Scarlet barked in turn. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember that!”
White quickly stood up, sending the chair rattling noisily on the floor. Blue jumped to his feet also, ready to prevent any move his commander might make. Oddly, Scarlet didn’t move from his seat; his eyes were locked onto those of his furious commander. The latter didn’t move from his spot. He was really upset, and it was also apparent he was desperately trying to conceal his confusion. He really DOESN’T remember, the British captain realised. And it was so obvious it was frustrating him a lot. The edge in Scarlet’s tone disappeared instantly. “That’s true, isn’t it, sir? You don’t remember…”
Charles Gray didn’t answer. He was trying hard – so very hard – to recall to his mind that particular event; not to tell it to these men – it was too personal, too private to tell them – but for himself. He felt so terrible that he couldn’t even remember THAT, a memory that should have been so precious that nothing should have touched it.
The Dream Spinner hadn’t even left him that, he noted with resentment.
He gauged his opponents. They had already proven to him that they could handle him, separately. The black-haired man had almost killed him; the blond one was strong as an ox. I may be confused, but I’m not totally irrational, Gray thought gloomily. Against the TWO of them, he had no chance to escape, whatsoever.
Casting a withering look toward Blue, who was still standing ready for him, he drew the chair to him and sat back.
“Leave me alone,” he replied bitterly, lowering his gaze.
Scarlet sighed. “I can see how this upsets you, sir.”
“You don’t know ANYTHING about me.”
“I know enough to tell you about what the Dream Spinner made you forget.” White raised his head toward Scarlet. The latter nodded quietly. “You met your wife during your first years in the U.S.S.,” he said to the older man. “She was assigned as your field partner after the first one you had was killed on duty. She was codenamed ‘The Rose’.”
“The Thorn and the Rose…” Gray scoffed dryly. “Very poetic…”
“Does THAT remind you of something?” Blue asked.
There was something of a softer note in the colonel’s voice when he spoke, with a sad smile. “My wife wasn’t a spy…”
“I think U.S.S. operatives preferred to be called ‘agents’,” Scarlet retorted.
“That’s not the historian talking again, is it?”
“I got that from my grandfather. He worked for the U.S.S. You met him there.”
“Really now?” White grumbled. “I keep telling you: I never worked for the U.S.S. And my wife certainly didn’t either.”
“Yes, you did,” Scarlet insisted. “Both of you worked there.” He sighed. “Don’t you realise what’s the matter with you, sir? Don’t you see the reason WHY you can’t remember how you met your wife is because the Dream Spinner has erased all of your memories of your time in the U.S.S.?”
“It’s probably because those memories conflicted with what the Dream Spinner implanted in your mind,” Blue added. “That’s how this thing works, sir. It weaves and realigns memories, and gets rid of what is unwanted.”
“On the other hand, while the Dream Spinner implanted those memories, it seems that it didn’t leave you with many details about them,” Scarlet pursued. “You think Britain is still under the control of the Militarist elite. You were made to believe you deserted from the Navy, when the World Government didn’t fulfil its promise to help the British people. And yet, you don’t remember any DETAILS of those events. Do you know how exactly you came to work as an underground rebel? How did you meet those men you were with, when Spectrum took you back? Why can’t you even recall what year we are in? The Dream Spinner didn’t give you any of those details.”
“The year, sir, is 2070,” Blue then said. “According to what you’re telling us, you would have been fighting the Militarists for the past twenty-five years. In twenty-five years, there is A LOT of detail you should be able to remember…”
A hesitant Charles Gray pondered what was now stated to him. There was an impression of truth in those words. It would explain so much. Could it be…
No. Don’t let yourself be manipulated that way, old man!
“So you say…” White replied adamantly. “But that doesn’t prove ANYTHING! That Dream Spinner device played tricks with my mind, I admit, but… if what you say is true, to what purpose would somebody have done that to me? Why play with my memories that way? What does it serve?” Colonel White shook his head. "I can’t believe any of this is true!”
“You MUST believe it, sir. The Dream Spinner made you believe the civil war wasn’t finished in Britain…”
“All of you, you’ve said this to me, again and again…” White sighed. “Will you PLEASE change the record?”
“Hear us out, sir, and try to understand what was done to you,” Scarlet replied sternly. “The Dream Spinner erased any memory of the civil war being won by the rebels... That war has been over for the past twenty-five years…”
White shook his head obstinately. “No… You’re lying to me…”
“The open conflict didn’t even last a MONTH,” Scarlet continued. “The Militarist Government had no other choice but to step down, and gave the governing power back to the people. The rebels WON, sir… Britain joined the World Government.”
“The World Government turned its back on Britain!”
“President Bandranaik gave the rebels the support they asked of him.”
“Perhaps he did. For a time. But then he let us down.” White waved toward the two Spectrum officers. “Spectrum is a World Government organisation, right? So that means the World Government is siding with the Militarists now? Politics make strange bedfellows, don’t you think?” He stared straight at them and narrowed his eyes. “Or perhaps it is the reward on my head that brought you people against me?”
“You mentioned that ‘reward’ already,” Blue noted. “Why would there be a reward on your head?”
“The British Militarist Law is quite eager to get its hands on me, is it not?”
Scarlet frowned. “You have nothing to fear from British law, sir,” he retorted quietly. “Why would that be the case?”
White scoffed dryly. “What about that man I killed?”
“You’re talking about Jonathan Dempsey?” Scarlet asked.
White gave him an odd enough look. “What are you talking about? Last time I saw that swine Dempsey, he was alive. Not well, but alive. The Militarists wouldn’t give a damn about Dempsey, anyway…”
Scarlet nodded slowly. He’d have to come back to that subject later. For now, there was another question that needed to be clarified. “Who are you talking about, then?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know,” White mumbled. “I’m talking about Jackson Bennett.”
Probably the ‘Jack’ he had mentioned during his delirium, was the common thought in both Spectrum captains’ minds. The one he kept insulting…
“Who’s Jackson Bennett?” Blue asked.
“Who WAS Jackson Bennett, you mean. A confirmed and loyal Militarist, that’s who and what he was…”
“And when did you kill that man?” Scarlet asked in turn.
“Still you pretend you don’t know. I thought you were an historian.” He sighed. “All right, if you want to play this game… December 13th 2046… That’s the date that was on my calendar…”
“December 13th…” Scarlet frowned deeply. “Dear Lord…”
“That day means something to you, Captain?” Blue asked his partner.
Scarlet nodded slowly. “Yes, definitely. That’s the day Captain Charles Gray of the British Navy turned against the Militarist Government… and demonstrated it very clearly by using his destroyer, the Sir Francis Drake, to engage the Lord Horatio Nelson, and two other warships, in order to protect Liberty Base, a base the British rebels had set up in the Orkney Islands.”
“Well, well, well... What do you know?” White mocked him. “You really ARE an historian.”
Scarlet frowned. “Who was that Jackson Bennett to you?”
White didn’t respond. His eyes were riveted defiantly on Scarlet’s. He won’t say anything else on the subject, the British captain realised instantly. He cleared his throat and stood up, tapping on his colleague’s shoulder to attract his attention. “A minute of your time, Captain Blue…” He added, addressing Colonel White, “If you’ll excuse us, sir…”
Again, the older man didn’t answer. He watched with silent curiosity as Scarlet drew Captain Blue toward the other end of the room to converse with him more privately.
“What is it?” Blue asked in a whisper. “You think you’re on to something?”
“I don’t know…” Scarlet replied. “We need more information on that Bennett character… and probably the events surrounding what happened on the 13th of December 2046… I know what happened historically, but we need more detailed data, from that day and of the other days surrounding it. Particularly, the days preceding." He gave a look toward White who kept his seat, looking around, apparently not trying to listen to them. Scarlet wasn’t fooled. The old man must certainly be hearing a few words… “Go see Lieutenant Green and help him search the Colonel’s personal files. I bet you’ll find something interesting for us, regarding those events. Also, check the World Military database from that period. Find out if there’s anything in the enlistment roll concerning Jackson Bennett.”
"What about the British Military database?" Blue suggested. "Britain was not part of the World Government in those years. If Bennett was British military, it's quite possible his name won't appear on the World Military enlistment roll. Especially if he was killed before Britain joined in."
"You're right. You'd better check that too." Scarlet paused.
“You think we’ve found our ‘noose’?”
“I wish I could be sure… But it’s something we have to check, right?”
“What will you do, while I’m going through those files?”
“I haven’t finished with our friend, here.”
“You plan to continue talking to him?” Blue said, frowning. “Are you sure it’s wise?”
“What are you afraid of, Captain? That we’ll end up killing each other?”
“Considering recent events…” Scarlet silenced his friend with an old-fashioned look. Blue answered with a knowing smile. “Okay then,” he added out loud. “We’ll do it your way.” He glanced in Colonel White’s direction. “I'll better get going. It's a tall order you just gave me and I have a feeling it could take a little time... I’ll contact you if we find anything.”
Blue directed his steps towards the door. It slid open before him and he walked out. Colonel White watched as the door slid close again; he had just the time to have a peek at the security guard, standing just on the other side. He turned towards Scarlet, who was sitting down again.
“Change of plans?” the older man asked.
“Let’s just say what you just told us may have brought something up,” Scarlet replied. “Captain Blue is going to see if he can find some more details…”
“I understood that, you know,” White answered. “I may not have heard your conversation too well, but…”
“Right, your ear.” Scarlet nodded. “Doctor Fawn told us the eardrum in your left ear had been damaged. That’s probably due to one of the aspects of the Dream Spinner’s treatment.”
“You don’t say…”
“Doctor Fawn says the problem is only temporary. You should hear just fine in a few days.”
“Glad to know that. WHY are you so good to me, anyway?”
“I think you should know the answer by now.”
“You’re trying to convince me I’m your commander…”
“Yes, but not for the reasons you obviously believe. You think we want to make you talk.”
“And that’s not what you’re been trying to do?”
“You know we’ll find what we need, anyway. Spectrum has very sophisticated computers and has access to every database in the world… But you can spare us the waste of time by being a little bit more co-operative…”
“Right, you would say that. And I’d say that I’m GAINING some time…”
“For what, sir?”
White shrugged. Scarlet stared intensely at him. Still can’t reach him, he mused ruefully. Well, Doctor Weiss didn’t succeed either. And I’m no psychiatrist… What could I possibly say to make him listen to reason and see the truth?
“What is it the Mysterons wanted you to do for them?” he asked quietly.
“I keep telling you,” White mumbled. “I don’t know ANYTHING about those Mysterons. Unless it’s the name you Spectrum people use to refer to British insurgents…”
“No,” Scarlet murmured, sighing. “No, that’s not it. The Mysterons are… well, a worldwide threat to Humanity, to say the least.”
“’Threat to Humanity’?” White scoffed. “Aren’t you pushing this a bit far?”
“Absolutely not, sir. You can take that from me.” Scarlet shook his head. Trying to convince the colonel of his good faith could prove a bit hard if he were to explain to him that the Mysterons were aliens from Mars, intent on destroying all life on Earth, and that, to carry out their revenge, they used tremendous, unknown powers, one of which enabled them to reconstruct objects or people after they had been destroyed or killed. “They act as terrorists,” he said simply, “But they’re not your typical terrorists… They’re using people – innocent people, unaware of what they really doing – to achieve their objectives… Like they intended to do with you.”
“You’re telling me those Mysterons are behind what was done to me with that Dream Spinner?”
“Because they wanted to use me?” As Scarlet nodded quietly, White pondered the revelation for a few seconds. He frowned. “And they’re doing this all the time with people?”
Scarlet sighed. “The use of the Dream Spinner is a first, as far as we know.” The use of human agents too, he added to himself. “Generally, they use another, different technique. A more radical one.”
“What is it?”
Scarlet shook his head, hesitating. “Right now, I’d rather not tell…”
“I wouldn’t believe it, right?” White scoffed. “Or rather, it’s a long story?”
“You’re right on both accounts, sir.”
“And I think you’re simply lying to me,” White added, roughly. “You want to know who my superiors are, right?”
“I don’t know exactly where you’re driving at, with your ‘Mysterons’ story, but it isn’t working. I won’t talk.” The colonel gave an exasperated look toward Scarlet. “I’m tired. I haven’t slept much these last few days… At least, not any RESTING sleep. I can’t keep this up… Leave me alone. I won’t answer ANY MORE of your questions…”
Scarlet hesitated; Colonel White sure looked like he could use some sleep. “I would like you to get some rest, sir,” he said quietly, with a deep sigh. “But time is running out…”
“For you to stop what the ‘Mysterons’ are planning to do, right?” White said with irony. He shook his head. “My name is Charles Gray,” he then added, much to Scarlet’s dismay, “former admiral in the World Navy. My identification number is S-00498W01…”
Scarlet suddenly stared at him intensely, in disbelief. “Repeat that, please.”
“What?” Colonel White asked, frowning.
“Repeat that identification number!” Scarlet dem
anded forcefully, grabbing a pen from the pocket of his tunic.
Surprised by the young man’s outburst, White obeyed passively, and looked puzzled, as Scarlet was opening the file in front of him to consult it quickly. “S-00498W01… But what are you…”
“That’s not the same I.D. number,” Scarlet cut in, finding what he was looking for on a piece of paper. He turned his eyes back to White: “187C34729… What that does say to you?”
White seemed confused; he shook his head. “That’s… my identification number. I… must have made a mistake…”
“No. No mistake,” Scarlet replied evenly. “187C34729 is your World Navy identification number. S-00498W01,” he turned the paper toward the Colonel to show him what he had just written on it, “… is your SPECTRUM I.D. number.” He pointed to the number imprinted at the top of the document.
White shot him a dumbfounded glance before taking the paper to look at it. It was a short computer printout; it showed a black and white photograph of him, wearing what appeared to be a uniform similar to that of the young man in front of him, but with a tunic apparently coloured white. There was a short description of him, his date of birth, a rank…
…And the identification number he just blurted out seconds ago.
“That must be a trick,” White whispered, frowning in disbelief.
“A trick, really?” Scarlet replied calmly. “Well, if you think it is, explain to me how I could have achieved that one…” He gave the faintest of smiles to the incredulous Colonel White who had raised his eyes toward him. “Your memory’s coming back, sir…”