A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” novel
by Chris Bishop
The fugitive ex-admiral Charles Gray had succeeded into putting some distance between himself and his pursuer, whose running footsteps he heard echoing at some distance behind him in the numerous corridors of the complex.
He was puzzled. Why had the girl helped him the way she just did? Why did she push him out of the way of a bullet obviously meant for him? It was a deliberate move from her heart, and he knew it, although the reason for it escaped him. For now, he was just grateful to her that she had done it.
All exits were sealed, the man in the red tunic had said. The others had left him. Nowhere to go, nobody to count on. All alone with no way out.
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, Gray had not said his last word. If there wasn’t a way to get out of this mess, he’d just have to FORCE his way out.
There was too much at stake for him to give up. The mission had to be completed. His superiors were counting on him for that. And then, maybe this whole civil war would be finished and done; Britain would be free, and he would be able to stop running into this kind of mess and go back to his home and his wife.
Elizabeth was waiting for his return. He could not, would not, disappoint her.
He saw a staircase at the far end of a corridor and rushed up it. The roof. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? Maybe if he reached the roof, he would be able to find his way out.
He pushed the door at the top of the stair... And immediately took cover behind it. There was a helicopter hovering low, obviously keeping watch over the roof. He sighed heavily. Damn it all! He had seen that helicopter earlier, why had he forgotten all about it? It was so hard to think straight, with his headache becoming worse by the minute.
Escape would be difficult from the roof, he now realised. He was lucky the pilot of that helicopter hadn’t spotted him yet. As long as nobody knew where he was, he had a chance to evade capture.
The decision was taken out of Gray’s hands when his good ear picked up footsteps coming quickly up the stairs. He saw a dark head, above a red tunic, appearing at the landing just two metres below him. He fired instantly. The man stepped out of reach of the bullet, which hit the concrete wall.
No other choice. Gray rushed out through the staircase door and onto the roof. He rolled into hiding behind a large chimney stack. From there, he watched the door. The second it burst open and the Spectrum agent showed his face, the fugitive cracked two shots. The younger man came completely into the open, running like crazy, and jumped behind a ventilator outlet. Gray’s second bullet hit the wall just over his head.
That guy must be mad! Gray thought gloomily. He must have known I was waiting for him... I could have blown his head off!
He heard the sound of the helicopter engine approaching from above and looked up. The craft was not far away, so close in fact that he could discern the pilot’s features... a young blonde woman whose attention was entirely focused on him. He also noticed the machine gun under the helicopter’s belly. Any second, he could be cut in half by that thing.
Damn it! Time to get out of here... IF it’s even possible. He eyed the distance separating him from the door to the staircase he had used earlier. That was the only way out.
He took several shots toward the ventilator behind which the other man was hiding, to force him to stay there. I must be as crazy as that fellow, he realised, rushing to the door. Curiously, the helicopter’s weapon didn’t make itself heard.
Captain Scarlet sprang out from his hiding place and jumped to intercept the fugitive. He caught him in midsection and tried to wrestle him to the ground. Gray turned around and tried to get a shot at the man hanging onto him. A strong grip grabbed his wrist and the shot was diverted away.
Scarlet had to use all of his strength and weight to bring down Colonel White. The two of them stumbled. They were fighting close to the side of the roof; White lost his footing and fell down, taking his opponent with him. With a startled cry, they both slid down the roof toward the dark ground some thirty feet below.
From the helm of her helicopter, Symphony Angel watched as the two men on the rooftop below her fought for supremacy. She gasped in distress when she saw them fall over the side to disappear from her view into the dark.
“Oh dear God,” she muttered to herself. “This is getting crazier by the minute...”
Her epaulettes flashed blue. “Come in, Captain Blue.”
“Symphony, we need you to help us locate Captain Scarlet and Colonel White,” Blue’s voice said urgently. “We believe they may be on the roof.”
“They were,” Symphony answered. “They just fell off it.”
“Say that again?”
“They were fighting for a gun,” Symphony explained. “I can’t see them any more, it’s too dark. But they must be somewhere on the ground. That’s quite a dive... One of them might be injured. Maybe both of them.”
“Okay, now... Can you tell me where they might be, as close as possible? It is of the utmost importance that we find them at once!”
“All right, then. I’ll try to give you as exact a position as possible...”
The drop from the rooftop was the second one for Captain Scarlet this evening, but this time, he had no control over it whatsoever.
Scarlet still clutched his adversary. It was dark and, even if he had tried, he wouldn’t have been able to see where he was falling with the colonel. It was pure dumb luck that the tarpaulin-covered lorry was right under them. They landed violently on the canvas, tore straight through it and they continued their fall into the back of the vehicle. Scarlet’s body took the full brunt of the impact on the floor, White landing heavily on top of him, and he let out a cry of pain, before losing consciousness.
For a few seconds, a half-stunned Charles Gray lay still, over the younger man’s motionless body. Moaning in pain, he raised himself on his elbows, and looked up, blinking, toward the rip through which he could see the dark sky and the rooftop he had fallen from. Three storeys, he evaluated, dumbfounded. He was lucky to be alive. If that man’s body hadn’t cushioned his own and if they had not fallen onto that canvas, which had broken their fall, he would likely have broken his neck.
He rose to his knees, biting his lip, stretching his strained muscles. He heard the other man emit a groan and looked down at him in disbelief. That he could be alive was a miracle in itself, but that he should regain consciousness so soon after that impact his body had taken, it was totally improbable.
But Scarlet grew quiet and didn’t move. He’s out of it, Gray realised with satisfaction. Good. I’m not ready for a showdown right now.
He got unsteadily to his feet. Things weren’t getting any easier. His head was killing him now, not to mention the rest of his body. I may be getting too old for these games, he mused dryly.
He still had to escape his enemies. Taking a look around, he tried to figure out where he was. That was easy; the back of a lorry. The one his men had probably left behind for his use, if he was not mistaken.
Marvellous. Now he had the means to make good his escape. All that was left to do for him was to get behind the wheel and he would have a good chance to get home free.
He moved to the rear of the lorry and was about to push the tarpaulin aside when he heard voices that forced him to stay under cover.
From the security of his hiding place, he saw a group of three men approaching the lorry; two of them were wearing the same black and white uniform he had already seen at the Naval Depot that very morning. The other was clad in the same attire as the unconscious officer in the truck, except his tunic and boots were of a different colour.
The men were searching the area, the one in the different uniform obviously giving the orders. Gray saw him sending one of the other two fellows to the other side of the building. The other man, who stayed with the officer, was carrying a strange-looking weapon equipped with shoulder supports. Never before had Gray seen a weapon like that.
The two remaining men were close to the lorry; carefully, Gray went deeper into the darkness, keeping his hand close to his combat knife. It was the only weapon left to him, he then realised bitterly. Should have searched the other man, he mused. He must have something useful on him… But now, he didn’t dare leave his position. The knife would have to do, if it came to it.
The two men kept searching the immediate area around the lorry, using flashlights. Looking for that other chap and me, Gray understood. For now, neither of them seemed to have any interest in the vehicle itself. It was just a question of time, though.
The two men separated to broaden their search. The one in the coloured uniform stopped just a few feet away from the lorry and Gray saw him flip from his cap something that appeared to be a microphone.
“Captain Magenta to Captain Blue,” the former admiral heard him say in a slight Irish brogue. “We arrived approximately at the point where Symphony said she saw our quarry fall. So far, we’ve found nothing. We’ll keep searching until back-up arrives…” He paused, obviously listening to what was said to him, then he nodded. “Yeah, Blue. Don’t worry. We’ll be careful.”
The man holding the strange-looking weapon was coming back to his leader, whose mic had returned to its previous place on the cap visor.
“Any luck, Willis?”
“I found this.” The man handed a gun to his superior and then gestured toward the lorry behind them. “Near this vehicle.”
Captain Magenta stared at the lorry; Gray, who had recognised his gun, drew further still into the shadow and grabbed the handhold above his head.
“Come with me,” Magenta said softly. “But don’t use that Mysteron gun. We have to take the fugitive alive. And he may be holding Captain Scarlet.”
The two men moved to the lorry; while Willis headed toward the rear, Magenta, drawing his pistol, moved cautiously toward the cabin. He opened the driver’s door in one swift movement, aiming his weapon inside. The cabin was empty. Magenta went slowly around the front and then on the other side, checking under and over. He noticed a ripped piece of the tarpaulin on the roof, flapping in the wind. And what if… they’d fallen inside? he mused.
He found a small tear on the side of the canvas, which enabled him to peek inside the vehicle; he strained his eyes, trying to see beyond the darkness…
He saw someone there, lying on his back, motionless, and recognised the red tunic he was wearing.
Before he had time to call out, Magenta heard a thump and a low groan coming from the rear of the truck. He turned in that direction. “Willis?”
No answer. Uh huh, trouble, Magenta thought. Slowly, as silently as possible, he crept alongside the truck toward the rear, raising his gun. Nothing impeded his progress, until he reached his goal. He then saw Corporal Willis lying flat on his belly, in the dust behind the vehicle.
Magenta hurried to him and crouched at his side. He checked his pulse and was relieved to discover the man was alive, but unconscious. He had a big bump behind his left ear. A good indication that he had been knocked out by someone…
…who couldn’t be very far.
Suddenly aware of another presence, Magenta looked swiftly around. He found himself face to face with a grim-looking Colonel White, staring at him from the shadow where he was standing. He had appeared there like some kind of a ghost, startling the Spectrum officer.
Magenta shrugged his surprise away and quickly got to his feet. He dropped down his cap mic: “Spectrum is White! Need immediate assistance!” he shouted, before stepping toward the colonel, raising his gun. He quickly realised he would never dare use it against his commander, especially after what Captain Blue had just told him about his situation. Lowering the pistol, he chose to try a gentler, yet physical approach and walked toward White.
“Sir, please, don’t do anything rash…”
The first thing he saw was the furious, yet icy glance Colonel White was casting upon him, as he stood ready for his approach. The last was the right hand coming fast, straight for his face, palm first. Magenta’s quick thinking and reaction at this moment probably saved his life, as he slightly shifted his head to one side. Instead of striking him under the nose, as intended, the palm hit the side of it. Still, the violence of the blow did break the bone under the skin; Magenta heard it crack and sprawled on the ground with a yelp of pain, letting go of his weapon, which fell in the shadows.
Charles Gray looked down at the unconscious young man at his feet. From this one, like the other near him, he realised, he had nothing to fear for the immediate moment. But he’d had time to call for help and Gray thought that he shouldn’t stay around too long if he wished to avoid capture.
He picked up the officer’s gun. Then his eyes fell on the odd-looking weapon lying on the ground. A Mysteron gun, the captain had called it. Gray didn’t know what a ‘Mysteron gun’ might be exactly, but it was a weapon nevertheless, and in his situation, he couldn’t afford to be choosy.
He picked the gun up and quickly rushed to the lorry’s cabin. He climbed behind the wheel. No key. Not a problem for him. Gray hot-wired the starter system. The engine gave a satisfactory roar.
At that moment, Gray heard loud shouting and looked in the rear mirror; Spectrum men were running toward the lorry. Too late, my friends, the retired admiral thought with a sly grin. I’m out of here. His foot pressed down on the accelerator and the vehicle jumped forward… long before the Spectrum commandos, led by Captain Blue, had reached the spot where it previously was.
One of the men raised his rifle, but Blue put his hand on the barrel, pushing it down. “What do you think you’re doing?” he barked at the commando.
“Trying to get a good shot at the tyres, sir?” the man responded, apparently surprised by his superior’s intervention.
“Yeah, and if you miss and hit the fuel tank…” Blue let the rest of the sentence hang. Grumbling, he dropped his microphone. “Helicopter A12, a truck has just left the building, going full speed. Can you spot it?”
“Yes, Captain Blue,” answered the voice of the pilot.
“Follow it! Make sure you don’t lose it!”
Blue turned around at the sound of groaning behind him. Magenta, along with Willis, was trying to sit up. Rhapsody Angel, who had followed Blue with the commandos, had crouched beside the Irish captain to give him a hand. He was holding his head down with his hand on his bleeding nose.
“Oh, man…” Magenta grumbled, “What did he hit me with?”
Relieved to see that his colleague was alive and was only suffering from what seemed to be a rather minor wound, Blue left the Angel pilot to tend to him and then opened a priority channel to Cloudbase.
“Launch all Angels! Helicopter A12 is presently following an army-type truck that escaped the net we set in Bristol. Patch him into Angel One so he can pass on co-ordinates.”
“Check out location for a SPV near my position, and get back to me.”
“Stand by, Captain Blue. Checking now.”
Blue turned back to Magenta. Rhapsody was examining his nose more closely; the second she touched it, the Irishman gave a low groan and winced.
“Looks broken,” she commented.
“FEELS broken,” Magenta responded between his teeth. He stared at Blue, standing over him. “It was the colonel,” he said with a shaken voice. “I… think he tried to kill me. If I hadn’t moved quickly enough…”
“He took off in that truck?” Blue asked.
“Yeah…” The thought that his commander had indeed tried to kill him was very uncomfortable for Magenta. Blue could relate to the feeling. He patted him on the shoulder.
“You’re okay, though?”
“My pride’s hurt more than anything,” Magenta grumbled. “I feel like I’ve let you down. Even if he IS the colonel, I should have been more prepared for him.” He shook his head, more annoyed at himself than anything else. “One of the hazards of my… er, ‘old job’, was that even good people could turn on you without warning. I should have seen it coming.” He looked at Rhapsody, still beside him. “You’re sure he’s not a Mysteron?”
Rhapsody nodded grimly.
“What did they do to him?” Magenta murmured.
“I don’t know exactly,” the Angel pilot answered sombrely. “But because of that, he has became terribly violent and unstable. He doesn’t remember any of us and regards us as the enemy.”
Magenta gently stroked her cheek; there was a look of concern in his dark eyes. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No… No, I’m absolutely fine,” she said with a faint smile.
“Magenta, where’s Scarlet?” Blue demanded suddenly, crouching next to his colleague.
The Irish captain nodded toward the direction taken by the vehicle. “In that truck,” he answered.
“In the rear. I saw him. Looked unconscious…”
“How the Hell…”
“I don’t know. I’m just reporting what I saw…” A thought suddenly crossed Magenta’s mind and he looked around. “Oh, dear Lord… the Mysteron gun!”
“What?” Blue murmured, suddenly worried.
“Willis was carrying a Mysteron gun… It’s not here!” Magenta looked up to Blue with the same look of concern that was on his colleague’s features. “The colonel must have taken it,” he realised.
Rhapsody had frozen, a look of concern on her face; she stared at Blue. The latter kept himself from cursing; he sprang to his feet, using his mic again. “Lieutenant Green! Do you have that SPV location?”
“Just got it, Captain Blue,” the Caribbean voice responded immediately. “It’s twenty miles northeast from your current position.”
“The fugitive’s truck?”
“According to Helicopter A12, it’s going due north. The Angels should pick it up any minute now.”
“Is that SPV accessible by ’copter?”
“Put me through to Helicopter A04, right away, then!” Blue demanded. “We’ve got to intercept that truck, before it’s too late!”
* * *
Captain Scarlet woke up all of a sudden.
He was lying on his back, and found himself staring at a large rip in a dark canvas, that was flapping in the wind. He could see the sky, clouds and high treetops quickly passing by. He frowned; that sensation of movement he was feeling, that vibration, the low sound of an engine… he was riding inside a vehicle.
He remembered the fall he took from the roof with the colonel; the last thing he’d seen had been the roof of a tarpaulin-covered lorry he was about to hit.
I’m inside it. And it’s moving.
Scarlet staggered to his feet. He was physically fine, didn’t felt any discomfort resulting from that fall, but the lorry’s movement made it difficult for him to stand. Above the sound of the vehicle engine, he could definitely hear the roar of a helicopter rotor. He raised his eyes again and, through the rip, caught a glimpse of a Spectrum Helijet, following the progress of the lorry.
A wild guess who was behind the wheel.
Good, Scarlet mused. Spectrum hasn’t lost us. He knew they wouldn’t let the colonel escape that easily.
He had to admit he was rather impressed to see that the Old Man was well able to hold his own. He had been the best, during his time as a field agent in the Universal Secret Service. And despite his age, he was still going strong. The Mysterons, as always, had not made an idle choice by taking him over.
Right. They killed him. Mysteronised him… and left us to do the dirty work and pick up the pieces…
Now, Spectrum had no choice but to stop its commander.
Captain Scarlet looked up toward the rip; he didn’t lose time pondering what his next course of action would be.
He hauled himself up through the torn tarpaulin and crawled out on his belly onto the soft surface of the roof. Despite the rip, the material was strong enough to support his weight and, carefully hanging to the railings and keeping close to the roof to avoid being blown away by the rushing wind, he began to silently move toward the driver’s cabin…
Charles Gray couldn’t shake that damnable helicopter flying over him. It was still following his vehicle twenty minutes after he had fled the complex in such a hurry.
It was curious how it wouldn’t attack to stop him. He had seen one of those helicopters up close, he knew it had firepower. It could blow him away any time its pilot wanted to… But he wasn’t doing it.
If you think I’m going to lead you to the others, think again, my friend! I’m not that kind of fool. I’ll find a way to lose you.
The lorry was following the edge of a wood. Now, if he could just find a way in, maybe the fugitive would be able to lose himself under the trees…
There, up ahead. There was a gap in the trees; apparently a narrow beaten path… And quite fortunately, a lot of high trees hid its presence from the sky. Gray made a rough turn into it. The helicopter pilot wouldn’t be fooled, certainly. He would notice the lorry’s disappearance from the road, and would guess it had taken a shortcut between the trees. By the time he actually found the route the vehicle had followed…
Well, it’s a long shot, Gray realised grimly. But one is always entitled to dream, right?
It was worth a try, anyway.
Gray looked up; he could still see the helicopter hovering way above the treetops. He wasn’t sure if its pilot was still able to see him, or if it was still following him, but he made no attempt to slow his vehicle down, even considering how bumpy the path had become.
Gray then heard a kind of a thump coming from the cabin roof. As if a great weight had fallen onto it. He didn’t really have the time to ponder what it was, as he saw a shadow suddenly appearing outside, on the left side of the cabin. The door burst open and a streak of red came straight at him. Gray just had the chance to recognise the bright uniform, before he was hit in the stomach. The breath driven out of him, he almost lost hold of the wheel.
He hadn’t forgotten about the Spectrum officer he knew was riding in the back of the lorry. Considering his state of unconsciousness, after that fall, he had just dismissed the possibility that the man would pose a real, immediate threat to him. He realised now he had made a big mistake by underestimating him so. The young chap seemed quite resilient and certainly determined to stop him at all cost.
He went for the wheel and the pedals. Gray wasn’t about to let him take control and fought him off. Elbows and fists flew around in the narrow space of the small cabin. The lorry wove dangerously to and fro on the bumpy road, and its speed had increased.
We could hit a tree any second, Gray grimly noticed. And at this speed, it could prove fatal. He had just realised the danger when the vehicle swerved violently across the road before going straight into a ditch alongside of it. Gray gave a violent shove to disengage himself from his opponent and brutally slammed down the brake. The sudden stop made the Spectrum officer totally lose his grip on the wheel, and threw him against the dashboard.
Seconds before the vehicle tilted over into the ditch, the captain was thrown out of it. Gray hung on to the wheel, as the lorry overturned three times, rolling down the ditch, ripping its tarpaulin, losing tyres, and sending mechanical parts flying all around. It finally came to a halt at the bottom of the ditch, and lay there on its side, broken, completely useless.
For a few seconds, all was silent. Then a hand pushed open the door of the lorry and Charles Gray extricated himself from it. He jumped on the ground, stumbled, and fell on his knees, breathing hard. As badly shaken as he was, with multiple bruises and cuts, he considered himself lucky. No bones broken, and while he was sure his muscles would ache horribly before long, he knew he hadn’t ripped any of them.
However, what a headache he had! It was getting harder to think… The shock of that brutal fall, most probably. And he was also aware of a rapidly mounting fever. With annoyance, he wiped the perspiration from his brow with his forearm and then glanced at his hand. With blurred vision, he could see it shaking. And it wasn’t just his hand: his whole body was shivering. His nerves were crumbling; he was losing it, and losing it fast.
No. Not now, please. I don’t have time for this now… If only he still had that medication Shelby had given him…
But he did not. The Spectrum girl had deprived him of it. He would have to go without. He would have to worry about that later, when he got himself out of this jam.
The sound of a rotor made Gray lift his head. Above the dense treetops, he could see the helicopter still overhead… But differently this time. It was circling, as if in search mode. Obviously, its pilot had lost track of his prey. Probably never noticed the crash.
Good. Now would be the chance to get away from those Spectrum agents.
He stood on his feet, staggered for a second and caught himself on the side of the overturned vehicle near him. What direction to go, now? Toward the sea would be the best option. He looked around, trying to orient himself. Why is it so difficult for me to even do that? I shouldn’t have this much trouble…
He then saw, a few yards away, the motionless body of the red-clad Spectrum officer who had tried to stop him.
He must have made a very bad landing, Gray mused, staring for a moment at the other man. The way he had been ejected out of the lorry, there was no way he could have walked away from it. He was probably dead. Unexplainably, Gray felt a certain sorrow at the thought of the young man’s demise. There was a sensation of total, useless waste in this entire situation. It didn’t need to come to that.
He walked toward Captain Scarlet and knelt by his side, looking for the slightest sign of life. He turned him on his back and, not really counting on finding any, searched for a pulse on the neck, just below the ear. He was astounded to find it strong and steady. Breathing also seemed regular enough. That man must have muscles of iron, Gray mused, shaking his head. He let out a heavy sigh.
“You’re a lucky man, Captain,” he murmured. “What a waste… A dedicated fellow like you would be such a help to the cause. Too bad you chose to stay loyal to the Government.”
He rose and turned to move away, determined to leave before the Spectrum Helicopter found somewhere to land and its occupants came looking for him.
It was then he heard moaning behind him. Gray stopped in his tracks and spun around. The young Spectrum captain, still half stunned by his fall, was unsteadily trying to raise himself on his hands and knees. A dumbfounded Gray shook his head in dismay.
“I don’t believe this,” he muttered.
He felt the rush of adrenaline, as fury built inside him. Slowly, he came back toward Scarlet, picking up a thick dead branch lying on the ground.
“Stay DOWN, son,” he suggested in a warning tone to the young man who was trying to regain his senses.
He wasn’t sure Scarlet had heard him, but he saw his hand searching for the gun that was still in its holster. He stood over him. “Don’t you ever give up?”
The second he saw the pistol out of its holster, Gray hit the extended arm with his improvised weapon. The gun flew out of Scarlet’s hand and fell to the ground, out of either man’s reach. With the same swift movement, the former admiral brutally struck Scarlet in the side. The Spectrum officer let out a grunt and sprawled on his back, clutching his side. An angry Gray approached him. “I said to stay down! You’d better listen, it’s for your own good!”
Scarlet blinked, trying to dispel the pain, along with the fog his mind was in. He tried again to get up; a vicious kick in his belly knocked him back onto the leaf-covered ground. He was too incapacitated to avoid another blow from the wooden staff, which caught him over the shoulders.
“Why won’t you keep down?” he heard White shouting at him. “I don’t want to hurt you… I don’t want to KILL you. I just want you off my back long enough for me to get away from here!”
Again, Scarlet tried to rise. He bit his lip; his whole body hurt. He was fairly certain he had a few broken ribs. “I can’t… let you go,” the told the colonel in reply to his tirade.
From the corner of his eye, he saw the staff coming again. To protect his head, he raised his arm and received the blow across it. He rolled with it, and found himself sprawled against the foot of a tree. Maybe I’ll be able to get some leverage from here…
Gray saw the young man supporting himself against the tree as he staggered to his feet. His icy blue eyes glared daggers. “If I don’t stop you,” Scarlet continued in an even voice, though it was easy enough to hear the pain in it, “somebody else will.”
A stubborn one, the brainwashed Spectrum commander mused, half-impressed, half-dismayed by the young officer’s dedication. He leaves me no choice.
That infuriated him. More than it should have.
“You don’t want to stay down?” he barked at Scarlet. “Good! Suit yourself, then! That’s quite all right by me! I didn’t want the situation to come down to this, but you’re giving me no other choice! I can guarantee you, I’ll kill you before you take me alive!”
White raised his staff higher. Here it comes, Scarlet realised, his eyes riveted on the man he thought was a Mysteron. He’s going for the kill…
Gray knew a moment of hesitation. The young man’s intense stare had stopped him. He could see no fear in it, just a determination, and a coolness he didn’t often witness. There was something familiar in that look. He couldn’t figure out what exactly; but it was so vivid he could not bring himself to strike the Spectrum officer.
The unexpected delay was the opportunity Captain Scarlet was hoping for. Colonel White was wide open. Now or never…
Pushing himself off the tree, Scarlet lurched at White. He felt the wind of the thick staff passing only millimetres over his head as he rammed into the other man’s stomach and drove him back. The two crashed into some bushes covered with very nasty thorns. The fall broke the struggle. Scarlet quickly stood up, holding his left side, gritting his teeth in pain, and watched as White, who had lost hold of his club, also struggled to his feet, leaning on a nearby tree.
“All right! If you want me, come and get me!” Scarlet goaded his opponent, his eyes flashing with anger. “For what your masters have done, so help me, I’m going to kill you!
White launched himself at Scarlet from a crouching position, with a roar of fury. He slammed him against the wreckage of the lorry. Scarlet’s already injured back hit hard, sending another wave of pain through his entire body. White smashed his fist into the younger man’s stomach, then hit him on the chin.
Scarlet avoided a second blow to his face just in time; instead, the fist hit the metal surface of the lorry and a muffled cry of pain and frustration burst out from between Colonel White’s teeth. Scarlet jabbed his opponent’s side, driving him out of the way just long enough for him to dive away from his position against the wreck.
He delivered one punch to White’s jaw, and was about to hit him again when he froze suddenly; the eyes staring at him, with that glitter of frenzy inside them, were definitely those of his commander, a man he had the utmost respect for, somebody he would even have called his friend. They were his, but they were somehow so different now, in the middle of that craggy face, covered with sweat and blood, distorted with the rage of a desperate and possessed man.
Possessed by the power of the Mysterons. Scarlet could not feel the alien’s presence in him, as he usually did, but that wasn’t so unusual: his built-in detector had sometimes been known to fail him in the past. Now was probably one of those times.
Captain Scarlet’s brief hesitation gave a chance for Colonel White to land a vicious blow to his left side. The young Brit winced in pain, as he felt one of his ribs give. What am I doing? He’s as strong as I am, he’s about the same weight as me, but I’m younger and should have the advantage. He’s fighting like a raging bull, and I’m holding back. Scarlet realised he was still seeing him as the colonel, not as the Mysteron pawn he had become.
And he’s getting the upper hand because of that.
The Spectrum officer deflected Charles Gray’s next blow, and hit him in the stomach, putting all his strength behind his punches, catching his opponent off guard. His breath knocked out of him, the renegade’s knees gave way. A series of quick and angry punches stunned him. He already had trouble seeing clearly, but now it was a complete blur of colours; he tried to get hold of the young man’s body, to stop him from hitting so blindly. He missed. And a last blow to his already wounded temple drove him to his knees, at the foot of a tree.
The colonel stayed there for a couple of seconds, panting, trying to catch his breath and to regain his senses; Scarlet was standing nearby, ready to strike if he should come back. He watched in dismay as the older man clutched desperately at the tree and tried to help himself up. I can’t believe he’s still trying! Doesn’t he know when he’s beaten? Obviously not. Colonel White never was a man willing to yield. That certainly was one of his most enduring traits.
But the confused ex-admiral Gray had overestimated his capacity and couldn’t find the strength to get up. His head reeling, his whole body in pain, he sprawled back onto the ground with a low moan and lay there motionless.
Keeping a careful eye on the man he still thought was a Mysteron, Captain Scarlet looked around for the gun he had lost; the one Blue had given him before he set out on pursuit of the colonel. He saw it on the leaf-covered ground, close to the overturned lorry. The Spectrum agent went toward it, and bent over to pick it up. Straightening up, he got a peek at the inside of the vehicle’s cabin, and something caught his attention. He frowned in perplexity.
There was a Mysteron gun in there. How the Hell did the colonel get his hands on one of those? Scarlet wondered. Could it be he was planning to kill me with that?
Electricity was the Mysterons’ Achilles heel; it was the only way to kill an otherwise indestructible Mysteron agent with certain effectiveness. From this discovery originated the creation of the Mysteron gun… which projected electron bolts against its target. Since Scarlet himself had been Mysteronised, his body recreated in the same fashion as the other duplicated agents, it was a good bet this weapon would destroy him as well as them.
He got his arm through the opening and pulled the weapon to him. He had to pull hard, as it was stuck under the dashboard.
When he finally got it out, Scarlet looked closely at the weapon. The barrel didn’t appear as straight as it should have been, and the box containing the fragile mechanisms of the electron gun had a large dent in it. That probably occurred during the accident, Scarlet mused. He wasn’t sure if the weapon was damaged or not. If so, it wasn’t really reliable. The memory of what had happened some months ago, to the Mysteron agent who had stolen the prototype handgun the Spectrum Research Centre had built, was still clear in Scarlet’s mind. The gun was defective, and when the Mysteron tried to use it against Scarlet, the weapon’s circuitry overloaded and the electric charge surged through the Mysteron’s body instead.
Right, I’m not about to use THIS gun, Scarlet thought grimly, leaning the Mysteron gun against the lorry. He would have to use Captain Blue’s pistol, after all. It was insufficient to definitely stop a Mysteron, perhaps… but at least, it’d do the job temporarily. And I won’t risk getting myself electrocuted, Scarlet added to himself.
A groan from Colonel White drew his attention. He came back to the man who was trying to rise anew, and looked down grimly at him. This is not going to be easy, he thought. He grabbed the alleged Mysteron by the collar of his T-shirt and forced him to his knees, putting the barrel of the gun to his head.
“You stay quiet,” he said with a threatening tone. “ONE wrong move from you and I’ll blow your brains out!”
The colonel uneasily straightened up on his knees. He still had difficulty keeping his balance, but he managed to stand as tall as he could.
“Put your hands on your head!” Scarlet ordered again. “With your palms up… carefully!”
White obeyed passively, still trying to regain his breath. “It seems you have the upper hand for now, son…”
“Don’t call me that!” Scarlet barked angrily. The tone the ‘Mysteron’ was now using reminded him a little too much of the real Colonel White, whom he believed dead. He stepped back behind the man, his gun still aimed at the white head. He tasted blood in his mouth and spat it out in disgust. He had trouble focusing, as his head was spinning. There was something damp running down the side of his right ear. Great. A concussion. It would take a few minutes before his retrometabolism healed that. In the meantime, he’d have to put up with it and concentrate on his job.
He hesitated. Truth to tell, he didn’t know if he should pull the trigger, now.
Capturing Mysteron agents wasn’t something that commonly happened. They usually let themselves be killed, even going to the extent of destroying themselves, rather than be taken as prisoners. This one had already claimed that he would not be taken alive. And yet, here he was, in Captain Scarlet’s own hands.
Could he be taken from the influence of his masters? Scarlet was himself the living proof that it was possible. But he was the one and only escapee of the Mysteronisation procedure. Because he was probably still alive when they scanned his body to create a duplicate of him… It was believed the Mysterons were now taking good care not to make that mistake, following their loss of control over him. Yet, they had made the same mistake again, with Major Blackheart. But the man was already a madman, and the powers of retrometabolism the Mysterons imbued him with had only served to bring him to the brink of ultimate madness, after he regained his freedom from them. As it was, it was highly probable ‘true’ Mysteron agents were beyond any help, but even that had never been truly proved.
Now what? What to do with Colonel White? A confused and frustrated Scarlet looked to the sky. He saw the Spectrum Helicopter still hovering up there, still searching for the fugitive. The Spectrum officer’s thoughts were very far from that helicopter, as he shouted angrily into empty space, addressing Humanity’s alien torturers: “Why did you need to take him, anyway? Why did you have to kill HIM?”
A puzzled Charles Gray thought the man behind him was speaking to him, and wondered who he was talking about. It occurred to him that it was probably the Spectrum commander that red-haired girl had already accused him of having killed… just before she declared HE himself was that commander. There was considerable confusion in all this, but Gray didn’t want to figure out what it was exactly. He didn’t remember having killed that man. He didn’t even know if, indeed, he had killed him. And frankly, he didn’t much care. The only thing important in his feverish mind right now was that he was a captive, yet again. And he didn’t like it at all. He didn’t want to be put back into that damnable contraption which had wreaked total havoc in his head. He didn’t remember much, and he didn’t know why that thing was used on him, but he still recalled the excruciating pain he felt from that first experience.
They wouldn’t use it on him again, he decided with determination. He would rather die first. And the angry and upset young man who was presently keeping a gun aimed at him could very well help him in that matter.
I’m sorry, Elizabeth. I won’t come home this time. Please, forgive me.
“You want to know what happened to your commander, don’t you, son?” he quietly asked Scarlet.
“Shut up!” Scarlet looked at the Mysteron agent with fury in his eyes. He levelled the gun. “I’ve got half a mind to…”
“Why don’t you do it, then?” White taunted him. “Why don’t you pull that trigger and be done with it?”
“Don’t TEMPT me!” Scarlet spat out. “I’m sick and tired of how you Mysterons keep manipulating and using us! And you seem to have a fancy for Spectrum members. First Black, then Brown and me, then Captain Indigo. And let’s not forget the failed attempts against Destiny and Colonel White. Now you’ve killed HIM as well. One of the most decent men I have ever known! He even offered you peace once, and you shunted him aside! Well, that’s the end of the line, mister. It’s finished! I will not let YOU hurt other innocent people!”
Mysterons? Gray mused, frowning to himself. That word again… He wondered who they were exactly, why those Spectrum people kept mentioning them.
No matter. Soon, it will make no difference…
“What are you waiting for?” Gray asked Scarlet in a grim tone. “Come on, shoot! Or perhaps you like to make the pleasure last?”
“Tell me what you did with the body!” Scarlet barked, forcing himself not to listen to the taunting voice.
“Colonel White’s dead body! We haven’t found it yet! I know Mysteron agents have the habit of hiding the bodies of their victims… Where did you put it?”
Gray had not the slightest idea. He shrugged, indifferently. “You can search all you want, you’ll never find it.”
“Tell me where he is!” Scarlet demanded in anger. “He deserves a decent burial!”
Gray could clearly feel by the fury he heard in the young man’s voice that he was about to lose it. Have to keep it up; don’t let him think too much…
“What does it matter where the body is?” he said with an arrogant edge to his voice. “He’s dead. Nothing you can say or do will change that fact!”
“I killed him. Shot him through the head. Isn’t that what you really want to hear me say? Now avenge your commander’s death and pull that trigger!”
Scarlet was on the brink of doing it; but the words he just heard made him reconsider. He looked intently at the kneeling man, who still had his back to him. Gray couldn’t see the perplexity on the young captain’s face, but he did notice his hesitation.
“What’s the matter?” he added roughly. “Don’t tell me you can’t work up the courage to shoot an unarmed man? Your Colonel White was unarmed too, when I executed him. I didn’t hesitate one second. Why should you?”
“Why… are you telling me this?” Scarlet murmured, frowning.
“I’m giving you the truth of what happened, that’s all,” Gray replied dully. “I killed your commander, you should kill me.”
“No.” Scarlet instinctively lowered his weapon, his eyes riveted on the back of his prisoner’s head. “This is crazy… There is something… not right.”
Again, Gray had sensed the faltering in the young man’s voice. This one has a conscience, he realised sombrely. He won’t kill in cold blood so easily… The anger in him isn’t enough…
A daring, crazy scheme, suggested by despair, imposed itself into Charles Gray’s mind. It’s hateful, but I have to do it, he told himself, trying to disperse his feelings of guilt and repulsion over the very idea.
“So… Maybe you need some more motivation?” he said, between his teeth. “I’ll give you some… That girl I took prisoner at Greg Dooley’s house…”
“What about her?” Scarlet asked, instantly pricking up his ears.
White swallowed hard. “I had my way with her.”
Scarlet blinked in surprise. “What?” he whispered.
“You heard me,” White nodded nervously. “Ask her, if you don’t believe me.”
“You’re lying,” Scarlet realised.
“Am I, really? Ask her, I tell you. Maybe she’ll deny it, but surely, you have already noticed her ripped clothes. She wasn’t very… cooperative.”
“Stop that,” Scarlet snapped. “I’ve heard enough.” He approached one step closer. “You’re trying to get me angry by telling me all those lies.”
“They are not lies.”
“Yes, they are. I KNOW they are. You want to make me angry, so I’ll pull the trigger and kill you.” He shook his head. “You can’t fool me. You’re not a good liar. The man I know would NEVER act the way you described.”
“You said he would never put a knife to a woman’s throat either,” White scoffed. “But you saw me doing it.”
“There is something else,” Scarlet replied, scrutinizing the man kneeling in front of him. “Impossibilities…”
Scarlet tilted his head to one side. “When did you get that wound?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Those cuts on the left side of your head. I saw that after I jumped through the skylight. Were you cut then?”
White shook his head in negation. “No, it was… some hours before that. The girl broke a bottle over my head when we… fought. I told you she wasn’t cooperative.”
“That’s enough of that,” Scarlet told him dryly.
“What difference does it make?” White replied in annoyance.
Scarlet did not answer. With perplexity, he was staring at the wound. Normally, if sustained by a Mysteron, a wound like that would have been long healed. Why then was it still there, a few hours later?
Then he noticed something; on the back of his prisoner’s neck, half covered by the thickness of his white hair. Carefully, Scarlet approached still closer, and pushed the soggy hair aside, to look more closely. He felt White shiver nervously when he grazed his skin.
“What are you doing?” the older man demanded.
Scarlet said nothing as he narrowed his eyes, looking down on White’s neck. It was all covered with feverish sweat, dampening the hair, but that wasn’t what was troubling the Spectrum captain.
The flesh on the nape of White’s neck was swollen and had an ugly bluish-red colour. There were multiple red dots, all concentrated at the highest part of the neck, where it joined the head. There was no mistake about it, those were needle marks.
The kind of injuries a Mysteron’s retrometabolic system would heal almost instantly.
Scarlet’s eyes suddenly opened on the obvious. Now everything was clear to him. Why his built-in Mysteron detector had not worked in White’s presence. Why this man’s behaviour was so unlike Mysterons he had encountered. Why Rhapsody had pushed him away from the line of Blue’s fire. Why they hadn’t found the dead body of the real Colonel White.
There was no dead body. THIS was the real Colonel White.
“Those marks on your neck,” Scarlet murmured in both relief and disbelief. “You’ve been drugged… You’re not a Mysteron agent.”
White sighed in frustration. “I don’t even know what a damned Mysteron is!” he declared grimly.
Scarlet walked around to face him. The colonel’s features were awfully pale, literally showered with sweat, covered with blood and bruises sustained during the recent crash and the fight. He looks sick, the English captain noted. Lord, why didn’t I realise sooner what was the matter with him? The hair stood straight up on his neck at the thought of the way he had hammered his commander and at the realisation that he almost pulled the trigger on him.
“You say you don’t know what the Mysterons are?” Scarlet repeated in puzzlement. “Yet, you’re acting as their agent…”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!” White replied between his teeth.
“I have the feeling THAT, at least, is true.” Scarlet shook his head. “They didn’t Mysteronise you, but they’re still using you. Against your will, isn’t that right?”
“Go to Hell,” White snarled. “If you intend making me talk… You’d better kill me instead.”
“Why do you want me to kill you that much?”
“Isn’t that what your kind is paid for?”
Scarlet shot him a perplexed look. His kind? A doubt inserted itself into his mind. “Do you know ME, sir?” he asked in a softer tone.
Charles Gray stared at the young man’s grim and battered face for a few seconds; yes, it was familiar, somehow. But he wasn’t able to recall where he could have seen him. He shook his head.
“Should I know you?”
“You called me ‘captain’, earlier.”
“Isn’t that what the girl called you?”
Scarlet hid his dismay and nodded his understanding of the situation. “You don’t remember me. You don’t remember any of us in Spectrum, I bet. Somehow, the Mysterons have erased your memories.”
“What is it?” Gray grumbled in frustration. “You and that girl arranged this little game together? To what purpose are you trying to confuse me?”
“I’m not playing any game,” Scarlet answered patiently. “And I’m not trying to confuse you; quite the contrary. You’re confused enough as it is…”
Gray didn’t reply. Again, Scarlet nodded.
“They have brainwashed you,” he continued. “Used drugs to make you follow their orders and make us appear to be the enemy.”
“You are the enemy!” White lashed out furiously. “STOP pretending you don’t know anything about those drugs! YOUR people did this to me!”
“Nobody in Spectrum would ever do you any harm, sir,” Scarlet answered softly. “That I can assure you.”
White scoffed dryly. “Oh, that’s right… That’s why you keep chasing me around, trying to kill me!”
Scarlet shook his head in despair. His commander appeared fairly agitated, and his peaked features indicated how unwell he was. Which wasn’t so surprising. “You look ill,” he noted, instead of answering his hateful remark. “You need help…”
“I already told you,” Colonel White retorted between clenched teeth. “Help from the likes of you, I can do without.”
Scarlet sighed. “I thought you would see things that way,” he replied. “Nevertheless, like it or not, Spectrum is going to help you.”
“That doesn’t sound at all comforting,” White replied dully.
For a moment, Scarlet tried to figure out what he could say or do to reassure his commander and put his paranoia to rest. It seemed it would not be easy trying to convince him he had nothing to fear… He didn’t know where to begin.
Captain Scarlet didn’t really have the time to find an answer, as he heard the sound from the rotor of the helicopter still flying over their heads becoming stronger. That could mean only one thing. He looked up to see the aircraft indeed approaching their position over the trees. The pilot must have finally spotted us, Scarlet realised. Too bad I don’t have any means of communicating with it.
Charles Gray was also looking up in complete dismay at the helicopter hovering over them, looking for a possible spot to land. The minute they put me onboard, there’ll be no escape. And the young captain who had captured him didn’t seem to want to finish him, like he had hoped he would do. Gray couldn’t explain to himself what could have happened for him to change his mind; a few minutes ago, he felt for certain that the young man, unable to control his anger, would shoot him. But then, suddenly, something happened, and his anger had dropped. Nothing Gray had told him, however infuriating, seemed to have worked to make him lose his calmness again.
A wave of despair washed over Gray; again, he was in the enemy’s hands; they would do as they pleased with him. Even put him back under interrogation… and onto that abominable operating table, under the care of that ‘doctor’.
Gray saw the slightest chance to escape that awful fate when he saw the Spectrum captain’s attention being diverted by the hovering helicopter. For one second only. Last chance, Charles. Try to make it count, or you’re done for.
From the corner of his eye, Captain Scarlet saw Colonel White make his move; so quickly, he hardly had time to react. His drugged commander lurched to his feet and jumped him, trying to go for the gun. The two men struggled for it, and it was all Scarlet could do to keep White from taking the weapon.
“What are you doing? Let go of that… You’ll get yourself killed!”
Scarlet realised, almost upon saying the words, that it was exactly what his commander was so desperately looking for.
White’s left hand reached for his belt and quickly drew his combat knife. Scarlet instinctively raised his arm to deflect the blow. The razor-sharp blade grazed his forearm and cut a deep enough slash across his face, barely missing his eye. Scarlet let out a muffled groan under the stinging pain, as blood gushed from the wound, half blinding him. Scarcely aware of his opponent’s position, and since he could see no other way to stop him, he struck out with a powerful punch.
It caught White right under the chin and drove him back, causing him to lose hold of the gun he was trying to tear from Scarlet’s hand. Unfortunately, the Spectrum captain also lost the gun, and it went flying to the ground again, away from the two men. Scarlet didn’t see where it fell, but he could see White stumbling away, and ending up with his back against the wreck of the lorry.
A mortified Scarlet then noticed the Mysteron gun he had left leaning there. White saw it too… and took it, aiming it awkwardly, yet in a very effective angle, toward his opponent. The captain froze instantly.
“Don’t pull that trigger!” he shouted forcefully.
White stood there, hesitant, holding the Mysteron gun steady, if even in an inexpert way. Seeing it pointed directly at his chest, just two yards from him, Scarlet swallowed hard. Now, this was a very uncomfortable situation.
“You WON’T take me back in,” White proclaimed between his teeth.
“Let go of that weapon, sir,” Scarlet demanded, trying to sound as calm as possible. “You don’t know what it can do.”
“It’s a gun, right?” White hissed. “It can kill you.”
“Yes, I believe it could, but it can also kill you… or the both of us together, for that matter. Look at it: it was damaged during the accident. If you pull that trigger, there’s no telling what might happen.”
“I’m not. Please, put that gun down. I promise, you’ve got nothing to fear from me. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’ve got nothing to lose, son! I won’t let you capture me again! I’ll die before I’m put back into that Dream Spinner contraption!”
Dream Spinner? Scarlet repeated in his mind. Is that what they used against him? “Please, sir… Listen to me…”
“No!” White barked savagely. “It’s you who’ll listen this time! I’m getting away from here! And I don’t want you to follow me! If I have to kill you to make sure you won’t, I…”
A powerful engine roar interrupted him; three triangular shadows suddenly passed by overhead, skimming the tops of the trees to the point of relieving them of some leaves. Startled, Charles Gray looked up. He just had the time to see three sleek white aircraft already departing. For a fraction of a second, he had let himself be distracted.
The sound of a brief detonation made itself heard, almost covered by the remaining echo of the planes’ engines. Scarlet saw White flinch and clutch his right side with his left hand. The Mysteron gun was now pointed upward, away from Scarlet’s chest. The captain took advantage of the situation and jumped his drugged commander, without asking himself exactly what was happening.
Colonel White was starting to level the weapon again, but Scarlet reached him in time. He grabbed the barrel with his left hand and pushed it away from him. He saw White’s finger instinctively squeezing the trigger. Nothing spectacular happened, but he felt a tingling sensation in the hand that was holding the barrel. That tingling quickly spread up his arm right to his elbow.
The gun was malfunctioning, all right, and there was a fair risk it would overload and explode in the next second. Scarlet karate-kicked the hand still holding the weapon and tore it out of its user’s grasp. There was not much resistance on White’s part, and, throwing the gun away from them, Scarlet hit the ground, bringing his commander down with him, shielding him with his own body.
He saw the blinding, blue flash of the electron gun as it exploded, a few yards away from them, and setting fire to a copse of trees and bushes.
Scarlet rose to his knees and looked around grimly. A second later, he realised, they both would have been killed… and this time, he wasn’t so sure HE would have come back from it!
As it was, he was quite fine. His arm felt numb from the elbow down to the tips of his fingers and he could feel the annoying itching coming from the already healing gash on his face, but that was all.
As for Colonel White…
Obviously doing his best to stay conscious, he had risen on one elbow to stare with a mix of horror and shocked surprise at the burning trees not that far from them. The sweat beading on his forehead and the pallor of his face were a good indication that he wasn’t feeling well at all. He averted his eyes from the fire to look at Scarlet, with a quizzical look.
“You saved my life,” he told him with a croak in his voice. “W-why…?”
Scarlet did not have the time to respond; White gave a low grunt and dropped down on his back, his strength betraying him for good. He closed his eyes, as his mind gradually fell into oblivion.
Hearing a rustling sound coming from behind him, Scarlet briefly glanced away from Colonel White and raised his head to see Captain Blue running out from behind the thickness of the wood. He had a rifle in his hands. Somehow, Scarlet wasn’t even surprised to see him there.
Coming up to his partner and his commander, Captain Blue had flipped down his cap microphone to make a call to Symphony, whom he knew was following him in Helicopter A04. There was a medical team on board who would be able to take care of the colonel. He directed the Angel pilot to a nearby place he had spotted for her craft to land and asked for the medics’ immediate assistance, while Scarlet was checking on their apparently unconscious commander.
“How is he?” Blue asked, cutting communication and crouching next to his friend. There was worry in his eyes, as he looked at White. Scarlet eyed the rifle before turning his attention to the colonel.
“I wish I knew exactly,” he said. “He’s out of it, right now. I don’t think he got hurt in the blast, but…” He looked closely at his commander’s right side, where he had seen him reach with his hand earlier, and then stared back at Blue. “You used an anaesthetic on him,” he realised.
Blue nodded quietly. After Symphony had dropped him at the location where he had taken the SPV, he had followed directions from Helicopter A12 to try to catch up with the lorry. He had no trouble finding the beaten path in the wood, obviously used by the fugitive vehicle, when it had seemingly disappeared from the road… Seeing the lorry in the ditch, Blue had approached on foot, with the weapon he presently held.
“He didn’t leave me much choice, Scarlet,” the blond American explained. “When I arrived, he had you covered with the Mysteron gun. I had to act quickly before he could pull the trigger…The Angels provided a helpful diversion so I had time to intervene.” He gave a thoughtful look at the burning trees. “I guess you both nearly had it.”
“The gun was damaged in the crash,” Scarlet explained. He paused a second. “By the way, thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.” He nodded toward White. “You found out he’s not a Mysteron?”
“Yes. By the way he talked, what he said to me… It didn’t sound right.” He shook his head. “He didn’t seem to remember me… I also noticed the back of his neck. There are several needle marks on it…”
“On his neck?” As Scarlet nodded slowly, Blue stared at their apparently unconscious commander. He removed his tunic and folded it to form a pillow he carefully put under the Colonel’s head; doing so, he took a look at the back of his neck. He saw the red spots and swellings on it and shook his head in disgust. “Rhapsody told me that he had some more of those marks on his arm… the left forearm, she said.” He lifted the arm and examined the mentioned marks. He exchanged concerned glances with his partner. “What on Earth did those monsters do to him?” He noticed some bruises on the Colonel’s wrist. The same marks were also apparent on the other wrist. “Look at that: seems he was restrained somehow…”
“Must have been, for them to pump all that stuff into him,” Scarlet replied dully. “Knowing him, there’s no way he would made it easy for them. He talked about them using a ‘Dream Spinner’ on him. I don’t know what it is, but I intend to find out.”
“Rhapsody also mentioned that.”
“How is she?” Scarlet murmured, staring at his friend. He was worried. The last he had seen of Rhapsody, he had left her in the care of Blue. His friend grinned slightly at him.
“Fine, apart from worrying about you,” he declared. “We had some worries, when we found out the Colonel had taken off with a Mysteron gun, and you were in that truck. We knew we had to find both of you quickly if we wanted to avoid a tragedy.”
Scarlet nodded silently. Nearly had one, too, he mused. Blue was staring at the ugly scar across his face. It had become a line of crusted blood.
“That looks painful,” Blue noticed, pointing to it.
“It’s already beginning to heal, Adam. It will be only a memory in a very short while.”
Blue gave a nod; he couldn’t help but notice how his friend was using his left arm as little as possible. He saw that his hand had reddened, and that the skin under his nails had blackened at the root.
“You took a hefty shock from that defective Mysteron gun, didn’t you?” the American asked with a tone of concern.
“My arm just feels a little numb,” Scarlet muttered. “That’s all.”
“‘That’s all’? My God, Paul… You know you could have been killed!”
“Yes, HIM too!” Scarlet replied with annoyance, facing his friend squarely. “I will heal, Captain… But I’m not so sure about the colonel, right now…”
As if on cue, the Spectrum commander than gave a low moan and the two men returned their attention to him. He didn’t open his eyes, to indicate he was still conscious; instead, his body began to shudder violently, before the alarmed gaze of the captains.
“He’s going into convulsions,” Scarlet realised quickly, leaning back toward White.
“Lord, he must be having a reaction to that anaesthetic, combined with all those drugs already in his bloodstream…” A worried Blue swiftly flipped down his cap microphone. “Captain Blue to Symphony Angel… What’s the ETA on that medic team?”
“They’re already on the ground, Captain, making their way toward you…” the Angel pilot quickly answered him. “They should be with you any minute, now.” Blue heard Symphony hesitate, and then she spoke again, her voice filled with concern. “What’s going on there?”
Blue didn’t answer his compatriot right away, but looked toward Scarlet who was doing his best to take care of, and comfort, their agitated commander. Somehow, he felt guilty for having shot him with the anaesthetic dart, but he knew he had had no choice in the matter. He shrugged off the thought.
Scarlet had his hands full with the colonel. “Call Cloudbase,” he told his partner, wrapping his arms around White to prevent him from hurting himself. “Tell Doctor Fawn to have the sickbay ready for the colonel… We’ve got to bring him in.”
“S.I.G., Captain,” Blue responded dully. He saw a team of three men coming from behind the trees; they arrived at a run, then knelt beside Colonel White, taking the place of Captain Scarlet. That was the medic team from Helicopter A04, finally there to tend to the Spectrum commander.
Giving a sigh of relief, Captain Blue radioed the helicopter: “The medics are here, Symphony. We’ll join you in a few minutes.” Then he used his radio cap again, and made the call to Cloudbase.