This story – if it ever happened – took place during the ‘Attack on Cloudbase’ storyline…
It seemed to Scarlet that never before had the darkness been so… dark.
He woke up with a start, sitting up straight, gasping loudly, fighting with the sheets covering him. His heart was pounding wildly, and he was covered with perspiration from head to toes. He blinked in the sudden light. It was too intense… so bright after all that darkness.
Flames… He remembered having been surrounded by flames… and they were approaching him so closely, he could still feel their heat on his now cooling skin. He remembered feeling the terror he had felt the first time he had died, threatened by similar flames that were about to engulf him. He remembered not being able to do anything about it, being unable to move at all, his legs crushed, his life escaping his grasp despite his effort to hang on to it.
He remembered losing consciousness a fraction of a second before he thought he would lose his mind to the growing panic.
Was it a nightmare? That was the first thought that came into his mind upon waking up.
No… it was real. And he had experienced it too many times already not to recognise it for what it really was: his last conscious memory before he died.
“Hey, hey, calm down!” A voice was calling to him; hands seized him by the shoulders and stopped him from falling off the bed. He stopped his thrashing instantly and froze, as the voice continued to address him, soothingly, in a way to reassure him and calm him down: “Take it easy, Captain. Everything is all right. You’re safe now.”
Haggardly, Scarlet looked to his left, where the voice was coming from. He found himself looking right into the concerned face of Doctor Fawn, who was standing right there by his side; it was his hands that were trying to keep him still.
“Doctor…” Scarlet’s voice was but a croak, his throat as dry as parchment. He tried to still his rapidly beating heart, but found to his dismay that he couldn’t. The salty sweat from his brow was burning his eyes. He blinked, and wiped his forehead with his hand; he noticed it was trembling. His head was pounding so much, it seemed to him it was threatening to burst.
What is happening to me? Why am I so anxious? This is not like me… This has never happened before; except for that first time when –
His mind froze in the instant, as suddenly, everything came back to him and the memories flooded into his mind.
He remembered… Remembered all of it so vividly, about their situation on Cloudbase. How desperate it was.
They were under attack.
“I’ve got to go…” he panted, and tried to pull the sheet off, in an attempt to escape this bed, and return to duty, where he was needed.
Fawn’s hands stopped him, and pushed him back.
“And where do you think you’re going?” the doctor asked in a stern voice.
“I’ve got work to do,” Scarlet attempted to rationalise. “Cloudbase… Cloudbase is under attack.” He tried again to push himself up, but to no avail. He was still too weak – how unusual for him, after a rejuvenating sleep. A wave of nausea hit him in the stomach, and the room started spinning. Fawn took advantage of the respite and pushed him down again, and his firm and unyielding voice, addressing Scarlet anew, seemed to echo from a far away distance:
“You are in no condition to go anywhere, Captain.”
Scarlet’s heavy head fell onto the pillow, and he made an effort to lift it up again. “Doctor, you have to release me,” he groaned feebly. “You know they’ll need me. I have to –”
“You don’t have to do anything,” Fawn interrupted him, with such authority that it was clear he wouldn’t accept any argument. “Don’t you see it? You’re obviously far from being fully healed. So until you are, you’re staying right here.”
“But the Mysterons… They’re attacking Cloudbase!”
“No, they’re not.” Fawn’s voice caused Scarlet to stop in his struggle to again leave his bed. He looked intently into the doctor’s face.
“They’re not?” he whispered with a frown. “But… I remember… Spacecraft… coming straight from Mars… They –”
“It’s finished, Captain,” Fawn interrupted abruptly. “They’re gone. The battle is over.”
Scarlet blinked again, almost incredulously. His head was still pounding; he felt sick in the stomach. He wondered if he had heard properly. “Over?” he repeated in a croak. “H-how –?”
“You should rest,” Fawn said, instead of answering his question. “You’ve been seriously wounded and –”
“Doctor!” Scarlet’s hand flew up and grabbed Fawn’s wrist, as the latter was trying again to push him back to bed. That simple, forceful gesture called upon nearly all of his reserves of strength , and he had to make an effort to concentrate and keep his body from failing him. “Please, tell me… Is it true? Is the battle really over?”
“Would I lie to you?”
“Who… who won?” Scarlet asked with insistence.
“Isn’t that obvious?” Fawn answered with a shake of his head. “We did, of course. Or I wouldn’t be here talking to you, would I? We fought them off, and they flew away into space. Back to Mars, in all probability. Or, if we are lucky enough, straight back into Hell, where they originally came from.”
“How –?” Scarlet repeated in confusion. “Last thing I remember… we were looking at a desperate fight. I took Destiny’s place at the helm of Angel One, and... I was shot down. I crash-landed on Cloudbase’s runway… Then nothing!”
“Yes, you died during that crash,” Fawn reported. “You were brought down here. You were pretty bashed up, and so I patched you up the best I could while the others continued to fight on. In trying to keep the Mysterons at bay, the defence batteries almost exhausted all of their ammo. And the Angels launched into a dogfight, quite literally. At the end, we received unexpected help and –”
“Rhapsody.” There was pain in Scarlet’s voice as he uttered the name. It was barely a whisper, but it was sufficient to stop Fawn in the middle of his account. “They killed Rhapsody,” Scarlet continued, swallowing hard. “I… I remember that. She went on a survey flight when the Mysterons’ spacecraft appeared… They shot her down.”
Fawn confirmed the information with a brief nod, a sad expression on his face. “I’m afraid they did, yes.”
Scarlet closed his eyes tightly. He had not told anyone, and Fawn would not have known this, but he had been profoundly attached to Rhapsody, his compatriot from the Angel Flight. He now recalled he was in the Control Room when the Mysteron craft – a flying saucer, was it really what it was? – had shot her down, and he had felt the pain in his heart as if he had received the killing blow himself. It had been unexpected, even for him. Her death and… the feelings it had stirred in him. He realised then the depth of his affection for her, but it was too late. So much time lost… So many things to say that will forever remain unsaid… Why didn’t I open myself to her before?
Now there was nothing left of something that never even had a chance to exist.
He felt empty.
“Are there… are there any other casualties?” he asked, fighting his pain and sadness and looking up into Fawn’s features again.
The doctor nodded. “A few, unfortunately… Always too many, of course. We have some wounded too. You, my friend, gave us quite a scare.”
Scarlet forced a tired smile on his lips. “A scare? Me? Even knowing I would be back?”
“This time, we almost thought you were gone for good.”
The voice coming from the door made Scarlet sitting up straight and turning his head in that direction. His move was too sudden, and a new wave of nausea hit him. He closed his eyes and grunted, reaching for his head with his hand.
“Now you see,” Doctor Fawn gently chided him. “You are not completely recovered. You still need to rest, to return to perfect health as quickly as possible.”
“I’ll be all right, Doctor,” Scarlet replied in a low voice. He opened his eyes again, to see that his commander, Colonel White, had left the doorway where he had seen him standing a few seconds ago, to come and stand beside the bed. He was now watching him with probing eyes.
“Colonel…” Scarlet made a move to get up, but his commander motioned for him to remain still.
“Lie down, Captain,” he said with a faint smile. “You’ve earned your rest. I believe you’ve come a long way. I’m glad to see you’re awake at last.”
“Sir?” Scarlet stared at him with an inquiring look. “You said, ‘at last’?”
“You’ve been in a coma for four days, my friend,” White explained, shaking his head.
Scarlet opened wide eyes. “Four days?” he repeated, bewildered. He looked at Fawn for confirmation, and the latter nodded. “How come –?”
“We don’t know,” Fawn said. “As I said, you were pretty bashed up. But you’ve been worse in the past, at least physically, and you always healed perfectly in only a few hours. This time around, you stayed ‘dead’ far longer than your usual time, and you only started showing signs of life after a full day had passed. After that, the rest of the healing process slowly resumed, and as Colonel White said, you appeared to be in some kind of coma. I’m trying to figure out what could have happened, for you to take that much time to come back to us.” He shrugged. “But I might never find out.”
“The important thing is that you’ve made it,” White continued, causing Scarlet to look back at him. The older man put a sympathetic hand on his bare shoulder. This simple gesture made Scarlet shiver. He wouldn’t be able to say exactly why. Perhaps he simply felt cold. “How are you feeling, son?”
“I…” Scarlet felt awkward. He wasn’t sure if it was because he wasn’t used to the fact that the Spectrum commander would show himself so openly concerned – something he would not do that often – or simply because he still felt so bad. There was this coldness in him, that he supposed came from being so sick and weak. His vision was half-blurred, and his head was pounding painfully. If only the room would stop spinning for a moment… maybe then he would be able to think properly.
He put a hand to his brow and again noticed it was shaking. “I guess I’m not quite well,” he murmured.
“Well you are alive, that’s already something,” White concurred. “And you’re awake. I would say that’s an improvement over the past few days.”
Scarlet heard the derisive scoff from Doctor Fawn. “Well, that’s an understatement…” He pushed on Scarlet’s shoulder, forcing him to lie back and propped up the pillow underneath his head, so he would be more comfortable. “Now you’ve heard the colonel, Captain. You must rest. You still have to fully recover. You’re so pale, I’d swear you’ll fall down if you try to get up.”
Scarlet nodded slowly. He couldn’t argue with the doctor, and knew he was probably right in his assumption. He did feel so terribly tired. However, there was something he desperately wanted to know for certain, before he would allow himself to go to sleep. He turned to White, who was still standing beside the bed. “Is it true, sir?” he asked with a whisper.
The latter raised an inquiring brow, as if not understanding the question.
“About the Mysterons… I mean… have we really won against them? Do you think they could really be gone?” He made a short pause, as a thought came to his mind. “Maybe they’re gone for good and that could be the reason why this is happening to me?”
“You’re thinking there might be a link between your present state and the outcome of the last battle we had with the Mysterons?” White enquired.
“Something like that…”
White gave it some quick thought. “I don’t think that, as far as the Mysterons are concerned, we can be absolutely sure if they are gone for good, Captain,” he answered truthfully. “But… there might be indications that they have been, at the very least, weakened by the attack they launched here on Earth. They probably never expected that we would be successful in resisting their assault and repelling them. There is no doubt that we won this battle – even if it was a hard one.”
“They must have over-estimated their strength,” Scarlet commented. “Or… maybe this attack was a desperate gamble? We managed to counter most of their attacks until now, and they thought that with this one single, devastating blow against us, they could bring us to our knees?”
“You think that could be the case?” White asked pensively.
Scarlet frowned deeply, another question perplexing him. “How did we win, exactly, sir? From what I can recall of our situation, it didn’t look too bright to begin with. We were pretty much on our own in fighting the Mysterons.” He tiredly gestured in Fawn’s direction. “The doctor told me… that we received help. Did you call the other Spectrum bases for backup, Colonel? Did we receive help from somewhere else? The World Government… the S.H.E.F…. Did they send armed craft to back us up?”
“Mmm… No, not exactly, Captain,” White replied, thoughtfully. “As you say, we were on our own in fighting off this attack from the Mysterons… The help we received was quite unexpected… and surprising, to say the least.”
“What happened?” Scarlet asked, his voice lowering. He felt like he was about to either throw up or faint. He didn’t remember having felt this badly before, waking up after a retrometabolic sleep, even after he had endured the worst injuries. It was quite bizarre.
Just as he was reflecting on this, the door leading into the room slid open again and Captain Blue stepped in. All present turned their attention to him; as he stood in the doorway, he smiled at Scarlet, acknowledging his ‘return to life’, as he so often called it. Scarlet answered with a smile of his own, if rather a weak one; he still felt too awful to offer more than that.
“Ah, Captain Blue,” Colonel White then said to the newcomer. His voice, Scarlet noticed, was cheerful, which was generally unusual in the Spectrum commander. Admittedly, if the Mysterons had indeed been vanquished, he had all the reasons in the world to sound happy. “I was starting to wonder where you might be,” he continued as Blue entered the room fully to then approach the bed. “You’re normally the first one to be around when Captain Scarlet recovers. It seems that this time, I’ve beaten you to it.”
“My apologies, sir, I was otherwise busy.”
Scarlet couldn’t help noticing how Blue’s voice sounded uncharacteristically dispassionate. The reason suddenly came to his mind: just before the Mysterons’ attack, Symphony Angel had gone missing, her fighter having crashed in the desert. Because of the state of emergency that followed the Mysteron threat to destroy Cloudbase, all search parties to find the lost pilot had been called off. Blue was quite irritated with Colonel White concerning that decision he considered unfair – finally admitting to his superior officer that he was in love with the missing woman. That didn’t change White’s decision, however, and Blue had been in a brooding mood ever since that moment.
Scarlet now wondered if the search for Symphony had resumed – if she had been found, if she was safe and sound, or not… He couldn’t decipher on Blue’s face any indication of what could have happened. Except for the faint smile he had offered when he entered, his features now remained neutral.
Dread filled Scarlet’s heart, as he wondered if the American Angel had suffered the same fate as her English counterpart.
However, when Blue presented his hand to him, Scarlet saw the smile on his face and the change in his voice. “I’ve just received the news that you had finally woken up,” Blue explained a little sheepishly, as Scarlet –weakly – squeezed his hand. “Sorry to be late...”
“No apologies needed,” Scarlet replied. “I can’t expect everyone to stop working while I… get some rest, so to speak.”
“Ah, you’re entitled to it,” Blue retorted. “With all those risks you take for us…”
“Blue, can I ask…” Scarlet hesitated. Looking into his partner’s face, he wasn’t sure if he should continue.
“Yes?” his friend encouraged him.
“Did they… Has Symphony been found yet?” As he said it, Scarlet could feel himself reddening slightly. It was kind of odd asking the question while Colonel White stood there, watching.
He felt some dismay when his friend answered with a negative shake of the head.
“No, not yet,” Blue said, and again, Scarlet felt somewhat ill at ease at the way his expression remained so neutral. Probably he was trying to hide his true feelings on the matter. He pushed his hands into the pockets of his trousers. “We haven’t found any trace of her so far. So we don’t know if she’s alive. Or dead either, for that matter. So I’m still hoping she’s fine and that we’ll find her soon.”
“It has been days,” Scarlet reminded him. He didn’t express his concern that, if indeed Symphony was alive, she would have attempted to contact Cloudbase, to report on her situation and to be picked up. If she had not done that yet, that probably meant she was not as fine as Blue made believe.
He turned to White. “I guess the searches for her have resumed, sir?”
“Of course,” White replied in a somewhat detached voice. “We are doing our best to find her, Captain. If she is injured, somewhere in that desert, she has to be found. We already lost one Angel pilot. We don’t want to lose another.”
Scarlet lowered his eyes. “I know, sir,” he murmured. His head was so heavy and was pounding painfully. Despite his efforts not to show any of it, White noticed his discomfort, and gestured to Doctor Fawn:
“Maybe it would be better if we left you to rest, Captain. We should leave your patient to your care, Doctor.”
“He should be sleeping, anyway,” Fawn confirmed with a nod.
Scarlet raised his eyes again. “Not before I learn how we beat the Mysterons,” he replied. “You still haven’t told me, sir.”
His voice was slurred, and Fawn leaned over his patient to assess him quickly. “You do need your rest, Captain. I’ll give you something to help you sleep. In your present state, it’s unlikely your metabolism would get rid of the drug before it puts you to sleep.”
“I’m all right,” Scarlet groused in objection.
“Of course you are, it’s so obvious,” Fawn answered, his voice dripping with irony. He straightened up and took from his pocket a syringe and a small bottle. “However, this should make you feel even better.”
Scarlet glared at him as he prepared the solution, wondering if it was worth protesting again. Quite frankly, he didn’t feel like he could mount much of an opposition, and maybe sleeping would indeed do him some good. However, he wanted very much to have an answer to his question. He was starting to get the feeling that nobody wanted to really tell him, and that was making him a little wary.
Ignoring Fawn, he turned to Colonel White.
“Colonel, I need to know what happened. You said we had received unexpected help. Where did it come from?”
“Hold still, Captain…” Scarlet twitched ever so slightly, as the needle pierced the skin of his arm and Fawn made the injection. It didn’t take long for him to start feeling the effects.
Strong stuff, he reflected, as he looked at Colonel White with a questioning gaze.
“It came from a miracle, Captain,” the colonel finally answered. “A miracle indeed – brought about by an old friend.”
Scarlet had had about enough of these mysterious reflections; White was usually more direct than this, and that made the Spectrum captain wonder if his commander could be hiding something – and what exactly that something could be. He looked at Blue for a possible answer, but by the way his friend was looking back at him, with such an impassive expression, all Scarlet could deduce was that he also knew what it was all about, but that he apparently was as unwilling to answer as Colonel White seemed to be.
And then, just as Scarlet was despairing of receiving the answer to his question, he saw the door slide open, and both White and Blue turning around, as a man slowly entered the room.
Under the effect of the drug injected into him, Scarlet’s vision started to blur, but he was nevertheless able to recognise the Spectrum uniform the newcomer was wearing – the colour of the tunic, boots and cap. He felt his heartbeat increase with dread, despite the drug now coursing through his veins. He now found himself fighting desperately not to succumb to sleep, but it was without any success. He barely had the strength to open his eyes in astonishment as the newcomer came to stand by the bed, beside Blue.
“My God,” he slurred in a very low voice. “Captain Black…”
“Hello, Paul…” There was but a ghost of a smile on Black’s lips as he spoke. And for Captain Scarlet, it was the last vision he saw before his mind plunged into oblivion.
Despite all his efforts, Captain Scarlet was unable to grasp the concept fully. For him, after a full year of battling the Mysterons, of attempting to counter their many attacks, of trying to capture their main agent on Earth, it seemed like an improbable possibility to envision.
According to reports received during the various missions against the Mysterons, Captain Black had been in the middle of most of them, preparing the ground, killing people who would be taken over by his masters, planting bombs, and God knew what other despicable actions he did for them. On the few occasions people had survived an encounter with him, he had been described as cold, detached, totally ruthless, and as efficiently carrying out the Mysterons’ orders without a second thought. He had no empathy for his victims.
There was something inhuman emanating from Black, which set him apart from even the other Mysteron agents. His appearance was distinctive – pale expression, badly shaven, and a dark, empty stare that would freeze the blood in the veins of whoever would try to look deep into them – but his voice, specifically, was unsettling. From the moment he had been taken over by the Mysterons, he had been speaking with their voice – merciless, devoid of any emotion… totally alien.
The man who had been Captain Black had disappeared into that inhuman shell the Mysterons had made of him. Conrad Turner had been compassionate and honourable – a good man who had contributed so much into the creation of Spectrum in the not too distant past, and who had set an example to follow for his younger colleagues. Yes, it could be said he was arrogant and withdrawn, and he certainly wasn’t a very demonstrative man – his privacy was very precious to him – but when he gave his friendship and his loyalty to someone, or embraced a cause, he would show a dedication that was unlike anything that any other man would give.
If only he had not shown that same dedication while working under the Mysterons’ orders… True, he might not have been responsible for his actions – Scarlet knew how their loathsome foes could take total control of the body and mind of a man – but that didn’t make the many crimes Black had committed under his masters’ orders any the less difficult to accept.
Or to forgive.
And now… he was back on Cloudbase. And according to Colonel White, he was the one who brought about the end of the War of Nerves?
It was difficult to swallow.
At least, for Scarlet it was. And he couldn’t understand why everybody else seemed to accept it without a single shadow of a doubt. It was so annoying and frustrating to hear the people he trusted the most in the world talk so highly of Black, to commend his heroic actions while saving Cloudbase from destruction and ending the war – to have such complete and undeniable faith in him… It wasn’t natural.
And Scarlet knew it wasn’t simply jealousy on his part. He felt within himself that all wasn’t exactly what it seemed to be. That Captain Black wasn’t as squeaky clean as everyone made him out to be.
There was something strange going on, and Scarlet was sure of it.
For starters, Scarlet still felt relatively… ‘rough’.
After having recovered and now being back on his feet after a very short time – as was usually the case for him since he had been Mysteronised a year ago – Scarlet was finally released from sickbay, and allowed to resume duty. Although the odd weakness he had suffered from was now gone, the nauseated feeling he had felt upon waking up had not left him, though he now felt it to a far lesser degree. He still had a nagging, almost constant headache, which didn’t improve in the least on his already bad mood. He was openly hostile to all things related to Black specifically, so he was trying his best to avoid the latter or to ignore him, or any mention of him. But it was difficult to simply disregard completely what was said around him. People seemed to go out of their way to remind him that Captain Black was back, and that he was seen as the hero of the day.
He lashed out at Captains Ochre and Magenta in the officers’ lounge, after both had had spoken nothing but praise for Black. He couldn’t take it anymore and gave them a piece of his mind and exactly what he thought of their ‘prodigal son’. His emotions got the better of his brains at this point, and he didn’t fully realise exactly what he was saying, or how he was saying it. He let out the full steam of his irritation at his two baffled colleagues, right in front of Blue who was observing the scene from a distance, in calm silence. And then, he stormed out angrily, not even looking behind him.
He wandered the corridors of Cloudbase aimlessly, trying to cool down, and to figure out why he was so angry in the first place. Nothing made sense. The War of Nerves was finished, the Mysterons were gone, Black was back, and he had saved everyone onboard… It was as simple as that, and nobody seemed to care, or realise how all of this felt so wrong.
There were pieces missing, and with this irksome headache constantly bothering him, Scarlet couldn’t decipher exactly what it could be.
The echo of his steps through the empty corridors seemed to act as a calming effect on Scarlet’s brooding mind, and he suddenly realised something. He slowed his pace and continued to walk, listening to any sound around him. All he could hear was the same echo. He stopped and listened carefully. This time, there was no sound at all, except for the usual humming of the floating aircraft. He then looked around, fully expecting to see someone arrive from one end of the corridor or the other.
It remained empty.
Scarlet frowned. Where could everyone be? There were about six hundred people onboard; it wasn’t conceivable that he wouldn’t see some of these people at one point or another… As he thought about it, he came to realise that he actually had not… Not since he had awakened in sickbay…
When was that exactly…? Two days ago? Three days?
Was it the same day?
He didn’t even know that with certainty. And that was starting to make him very uncomfortable. His vision blurred suddenly, and felt his head spinning; he found he needed to brace himself against the wall so not to lose his footing.
There was something definitely wrong… and he wondered now if it was with him… or with his surroundings.
It felt as if… he was walking into a dream.
He blinked several times for his vision to regain its focus and his mind to clear, and then, he started contemplating the many aspects of his situation – and finding out there were indeed many pieces missing in a puzzle that he couldn’t hope to easily put back together.
Indeed, like in a dream… or a nightmare.
Or perhaps – someone was controlling what was going around him?
Could the Mysterons –
He felt a presence behind him. There was a fraction of a second before a hand reached for his shoulder; the contact made him jump out of his skin. Heart beating fast, he turned on his heels, ready to strike if this person should be an enemy. He relaxed when he realised it was Captain Blue standing there, staring at him with a calm if puzzled expression.
Scarlet heaved a deep sigh of relief.
“You’re on edge,” Blue commented, removing his hand, as if realising his friend needed his private space.
“Yes, I am,” Scarlet confessed. “That’s obvious, isn’t it? What I can’t understand is – why am I the only one to feel that way?”
Blue raised a brow, still looking at him with that cool, unfazed expression. “What do you mean exactly?”
“What do I mean?” Scarlet gestured at his friend. “I mean you, for example.”
“Me?” Blue seemed even more perplexed.
“How come you’re so calm, Adam?” Scarlet specified. “It’s been days since Symphony disappeared… and yet, you stand there, doing nothing, and seemingly unworried about what could have happened to her. I would have expected you to join in the search to find her. To ask me to tag along. Insisting that we won’t rest until she’s found!”
“You know we can’t leave base at the moment,” Blue replied quietly. “Colonel White gave orders –”
“And that would stop you?” Scarlet interrupted. “What’s the emergency, Adam? Why can’t we leave Cloudbase right now, if indeed the Mysterons have been defeated and are gone? Don’t you wonder about that?”
“You know we’re not even completely sure of that.”
“No, perhaps you’re right… But I know you, Adam. Or at least, I thought I knew you.” Scarlet took one step closer to his friend. “I thought you loved Karen. That’s what you said to Colonel White, remember?”
“I do remember,” Blue replied. “And I do love her, yes.”
“Then why aren’t you out there looking for her?” Scarlet insisted. “If I was in your place… I would move heaven and earth to find her! Frankly, Blue, your current reaction – or more specifically, your lack of reaction – leaves me perplexed.” He glanced over his shoulder, as if making sure that nobody was around. The corridor remained desperately empty. “And if I am honest with you, I would say it’s not the only thing that’s perplexing me.”
“What else?” Blue inquired.
“How did Black actually manage to end the War of Nerves?” Scarlet asked.
“You know that.”
It was Blue’s certitude and apparently calmness that made Scarlet’s temper explode in his next reply: “No, I don’t! I don’t know why everyone seems to assume I do, but it was never actually explained to me! Maybe I’m thick or something, but I’m certainly not omniscient! Can you tell me how this happened? It seems so improbable to me, that I cannot conceive that it could be true!”
“Is that why you don’t trust Black?” Blue asked quietly. As Scarlet kept staring at him with an irate expression, he sighed deeply and explained: “For some unknown reason, Black broke free of the Mysterons’ control. He thinks that it was the sight of Cloudbase in peril that helped him break free. By this simple action, he managed to shake the Mysterons’ resolution in pursuing the war, and with that, their power weakened enough for us to manage to repel their assault on Cloudbase. Black somehow disabled the control they had on their spacecraft weaponry and they were left unable to fire at us. So their spacecraft left.”
“Simple as that?” an unconvinced Scarlet asked.
“Yes. Black then argued with the Mysterons about their reasons to wage war with us, and negotiated a truce with them. Turns out their attack on Cloudbase was indeed a desperate act to bring Earth to its collective knees…”
Scarlet raised a puzzled brow. That was nearly the same phrase that he had used himself, when he mentioned that theory to White, upon waking up in sickbay. Why hadn’t the colonel said anything then? He didn’t comment, and listened to the rest of Blue’s tale:
“…Seeing as we were able to resist and disarm them, the Mysterons found themselves weakened to a point that they decided it was better to accept the truce.”
“And they called off the war?” Scarlet asked doubtfully.
“Then Black returned to us?”
“And you believe that crap?”
Blue frowned. “What other explanation could there be?” he asked, irritation starting to show in his voice.
“That’s Black’s story, is it?” Scarlet countered. “Or White’s?”
“You don’t trust Colonel White, now?” Blue commented, with a frown.
“It’s not that, Adam… I think you’re all being manipulated. All of you.”
“But not you,” Blue said bitterly.
“Adam, don’t you see the huge holes in that story you just told me? You could drive a double-decker bus right through any of them!”
“Paul, the Mysterons are gone. The war is over.”
Scarlet shook his head. “No. I don’t believe the Mysterons are gone. I think they’re still there. I think this is a vast conspiracy and that Captain Black is still their puppet, planted amongst us to cause our downfall.”
“Black is still under Mysteron control?” Blue scoffed sardonically. “Paul, you saw Black. He doesn’t look anything like he used to when he was under their control. You heard his voice… It’s normal now.”
“That doesn’t prove anything. All the other Mysteron agents we encountered looked normal, and had normal voices. There’s nothing to tell us the Mysterons didn’t change whatever kind of control they had over Black for him to appear normal enough to deceive us. Was he even checked with a Mysteron detector?”
Blue shook his head. “Even if he had been, what would it prove?”
“He was not?” Scarlet realised in wonder. “But – wouldn’t it be like, acting out of common sense just to see if –”
“…Black had been under Mysteron control as you were yourself, Scarlet,” Blue interrupted. “And need I remind you, you show positive on a test with a Mysteron detector. That doesn’t mean we can’t trust you. At least, I used to think we could trust you.”
“Do trust me. All of my instincts tell me not to trust him.”
“You are completely delusional, Captain.”
“Am I?” Scarlet insisted. “Look at everything around us, at what’s happening… Look at you! How can you be so calm when the world is falling apart around us?”
Blue shook his head in apparent dismay. “I don’t know what’s got into you. The world isn’t falling apart around us. But obviously, it is falling apart for you. You should get a grip on yourself, Scarlet, before you totally lose it.”
“Adam, please, listen to me –”
“There’s nothing else you can tell me if you keep on with this attitude of yours. You don’t leave me much choice, you do realise that?”
With that, Blue turned on his heels and left; rooted in place, Scarlet watched in dismay as his friend quickly walked away. He tried to call after him:
“Adam – wait!”
Blue didn’t even acknowledge his call; he turned the corner of the corridor, without looking back, and disappeared from Scarlet’s view.
Left alone with his frustration, Scarlet kept staring at the now empty corridor, as Blue’s steps decreased in the distance.
“Now what’s he going to do?” he muttered under his breath.
He didn’t like at all how events were unfolding, and he knew that he would like even less what would come next.
It didn’t take that long for Scarlet to learn of Captain Blue’s next gesture.
It seemed like mere minutes had passed before Colonel White called him to report to the Control Room without delay. By the sound of his commander’s voice, Captain Scarlet just knew that he was being called for a matter that White considered urgent, and he thought he was right in suspecting that it had something to do with his altercation with Magenta and Ochre and the talk he had with Blue in the corridor. He still hoped he was wrong though; he liked to think that if there was at the moment someone onboard Cloudbase worthy of his confidence and his trust, it would still be his friend Blue.
He was deeply disappointed when the green doors leading to the Control Room slid open in front of him and he entered. Inside the vast room, behind Colonel White seated at his desk, waiting for him, and standing beside Captain Black, was the grim-looking Captain Blue.
As soon as he entered the Control Room, Scarlet started feeling profoundly ill at ease. All eyes were turned to him; Lieutenant Green, at his console, had spun on his seat to look as he passed by, and he could see and feel Colonel White’s glare as he watched him approach. Captain Blue was staring at him, with an expression that seemed as impassive as the one displayed on Captain Black’s unemotional face.
Scarlet glared in his friend’s direction. The fact that he was there to begin with, during this meeting – which looked more like it would be an inquisition than anything else – was a sure indication that he had spoken to their commander.
If Scarlet thought that the accusing way he was now staring at his American colleague would make him lower his eyes, he was mistaken. Blue kept his head high and glared back at him in a similar fashion.
“Don’t look at me that way, Scarlet,” he said with a harsh voice. “I only did my duty to Spectrum in reporting you to the colonel. It’s for your own good.”
“My own good?” Scarlet repeated with bitterness. “Damn it, Blue, if I can’t trust you with whatever I might tell you anymore, what –”
“You are speaking of trust, Captain Scarlet?” It was Colonel White who had interrupted him, and Scarlet turned to face him. The expression on his commander’s face seemed even more severe than any he had ever seen in all the time he been under his command. Behind White, Captain Black was keeping silent, his hands behind his back, looking very coldly at him. “How can you speak of trust, when you can’t even bring yourself to trust my judgment – and not believe that Captain Black is indeed worthy of it? I wonder if you can be trusted, these days.”
Scarlet bristled at this attack. It was the second time in so short a time his trustworthiness was put under question. With all the sacrifices he had made, all the times he had literally laid down his life to protect the world and fight so the Mysterons would not succeed, while ensuring than none of his colleagues would have to suffer death in his stead, this was all the gratitude he could expect? He was to become distrusted, while Captain Black was treated like a hero? How unfair could this be?
“Sir, there was a time when you trusted my instincts in everything regarding the Mysterons,” he said. He scowled, glaring at Black. “And at the moment, my instincts tell me that you cannot turn your back on Captain Black – the way you are doing now.”
White slapped the surface of his desk. “Don’t be impertinent, Captain!”
Scarlet blinked; this reaction was excessive, to say the least. Even considering Colonel White’s infamous temper, he would normally listen to what his officer had to say.
Again, he had this indefinite feeling that something was so terribly wrong. That indeed, they were all being manipulated. Why else would they react this way, if it wasn’t the case?
“We all know your inbuilt ‘Mysteron detector’ is not always reliable, Captain,” Blue quietly commented.
Scarlet angrily turned to him; friend or not, manipulated or not, right at this moment, Blue was siding with the others and that made them all the enemy.
“It isn’t reliable because it doesn’t get set off every time,” he snapped. “But when it does, you can be sure there is no doubt something is going on. You should know that as well as I do.” He glared meaningfully in Captain Black’s direction. “And ever since I woke up in sickbay, it has been giving me warnings that something, indeed, is very wrong… You know how it goes: I’m feeling nauseous, my head hurts…”
“You are sick because you’re still not recovered from your ordeal,” White replied dismissively. “Doctor Fawn confirms this.”
“And what if Doctor Fawn is wrong and I’m right?” Scarlet retorted.
“Scarlet, you can’t always be right,” Blue said. “Don’t you see you’re getting paranoid?”
“I can recognise the difference between simply being sick and my ‘inbuilt Mysteron detector’ as you so sarcastically called it.”
“We’re all concerned about you, Captain,” Black said in turn, very softly. And his voice – his all too human voice – didn’t ring right to Scarlet’s ears. It sounded unnaturally affable, and he was trying too hard to be friendly. Scarlet watched warily as he quietly left Colonel’s White side to approach him. “Captain Blue said it earlier: we only have your own good at heart. You have been injured very seriously, and you are yet to recover fully from it.” He put a sympathetic hand on Scarlet’s shoulder, and the latter couldn’t help but shiver at its contact. “We just want to help you.”
His hand… so cold... Why couldn’t anyone notice?
Scarlet stepped back, and pushed Black’s hand away from him. “Help from the likes of you, I can do without.”
Before Captain Black could reply, or Colonel White had the time to scold him for his brazenness, a beeping sound came from the huge computerised console behind Scarlet. He turned on his heel. Lieutenant Green, who had been completely discreet and silent during the exchange he was witnessing, was moving his chair towards a red light blinking wildly on his communication panel; he checked the information displayed on the screen above it, a look of concern on his dark face.
All other considerations put aside, Colonel White turned his desk towards his aide. “What is it, Lieutenant?”
“Sir, an unauthorised aircraft just entered Cloudbase’s exclusion zone.” Green pressed a few buttons, and made calculations. “And it’s coming right at us, Colonel.”
White’s features became hard. “So the pilot knows our location?”
“It would seem so, sir.”
Scarlet tensed. He turned towards Colonel White, just as Captain Blue voiced the same concern that was forming in his mind:
“Colonel, you think it could be the Mysterons… again?”
“They haven’t issued a threat in days,” White reflected, stroking his chin. “Captain Black, could it be they might not honour the truce they agreed with you?”
“I wouldn’t like to presume, Colonel,” Black answered, “but it’s quite possible. Perhaps they don’t consider the previous threat as completed, and the last battle was but their first strike? You know how they work.”
“Yes, they always have a plan B.” White glanced in Scarlet’s direction. “So it might be your sixth sense was alerting us of an impending danger after all, Captain. Accept our apologies for having doubted you.”
Scarlet didn’t reply, but he had a serious doubt about White’s assertion. He was still highly suspicious of Black; but even looking at him now, he couldn’t decipher if he still wasn’t hiding something. If this was indeed a Mysteron attack, then in Scarlet’s view, it was quite possible Black was somehow involved.
A new beeping sound came from Green’s console, interrupting his line of thought. “We’re being hailed, sir,” the young communication officer announced. “By the incoming aircraft.” He paused a second. “That’s strange. It’s using a Spectrum secured frequency signal.”
“Didn’t you change our communications frequencies after the attack, Lieutenant?” White demanded.
“Yes, sir. And that’s the thing: this craft is using the frequency we had just before the attack.”
“Let us hear it, Lieutenant.”
Green acknowledged the order with a nod and flicked a small lever. At once, a voice filled the Control Room’s speakers; a familiar female voice that sent a tingle through Scarlet’s spine and made his eyes grow wide in astonishment:
“… Cloudbase, do you copy? This is Rhapsody Angel… Request permission to land on main runway…”
“This… cannot be possible,” Scarlet murmured.
“Indeed,” White commented gravely, hearing his comment. “So this confirms it, then. This is a Mysteron trick. Lieutenant, launch Angel One.”
Scarlet shivered and turned swiftly towards his commander, while Green gave the order to the Angel pilot on duty in Angel One on deck. “You mean her to investigate this incoming craft?” Scarlet asked, unsure.
“I mean to have it destroyed, Captain.”
Scarlet’s heart missed a beat. “You can’t do that!” he protested loudly.
White turned his desk to glare coldly at him. “And why can’t I? You said it yourself: this cannot be possible. Rhapsody Angel was killed when her Angel fighter was blown to pieces by the Mysterons during their first wave of attack. This is obviously one of their tricks. It’s probable her craft has been recreated for this new assault.”
Scarlet shook his head, turning to Green. “Lieutenant, is it an Angel craft?”
Green hesitated. He checked again the data from his screen. “No, Captain,” he finally admitted. “The signal makes it look like it’s a Spectrum Passenger Jet.”
“So this is not a retrometabolised Angel craft,” Scarlet continued.
“Scarlet, many SPJs were destroyed during the attack…” Blue started.
“Why would the Mysterons recreate one and make us believe Rhapsody is at the helm?” Scarlet said in reply to Blue. “That doesn’t make sense. If this were an attack, they would have chosen a fighter. Not a Passenger Jet.”
“Unless it was to trick us,” Blue suggested.
“The girl is dead,” Black then said. “She cannot be at the helm for real. If she is, she’s a Mysteron replicate.”
Scarlet turned angrily to him. “Shut up, Black!”
“Captain…” White said warningly.
“Angel One launched,” Lieutenant Green announced from his seat.
Scarlet tried to ignore this information. He knew he didn’t have much time to convince his commander to call off the order to attack. “Sir, what if Rhapsody survived? What if she had been able to eject, before her craft was destroyed? She only needed a fraction of a second to escape.”
“It’s been days since that happened,” White reasoned. “We would have known by now. She would have contacted us.”
“But it is possible!” Scarlet insisted.
“Cloudbase, this is SPJ 053,” the voice of Rhapsody made itself heard again in the speakers. “I repeat: this is Rhapsody Angel requesting permission to land. We have been trying to reach you from ground without any success. Please, acknowledge.”
“Don’t answer that,” White ordered Green. He turned to Scarlet anew. “Captain, you are clutching at straws. I am not about to risk the safety of this base and of everyone onboard. If this craft is on a collision course –”
“Is it?” Scarlet addressed Green again: “Lieutenant… at what speed is the craft approaching? Is it giving any impression that it will ram us?”
“I…” Green hesitated again, and checked the information from his computer. He cleared his throat. “Speed steady and within safe approach parameters,” he confirmed.
“Then it looks like it’s any normal flight path of a craft whose pilot wants to land on our runway,” Scarlet continued.
“This could still be a trick,” Blue commented.
“I don’t think it is,” Scarlet insisted.
“It might not be a fighter jet,” Blue commented, “but a SPJ has enough ammunition to carry out an effective attack on Cloudbase. A well-aimed hit could do untold damage.”
“What is it with you, Scarlet?” White then asked, growing angrier with his rebellious officer with each passing second. “You made this same mistake once before, don’t you remember? If I had listened to you then –”
“Sir, don’t you see it’s not the same? This craft isn’t on a collision course, unlike the TVR-17 satellite was, last year. More than that, it's hailing us. Can’t we give it the benefit of the doubt?”
White clicked his tongue impatiently. “We might all be in deadly danger, and your insubordination is making us lose precious time. We could all be killed in the next few minutes.” His eyes flashed. “Except maybe you. So perhaps you do not care.”
Scarlet didn’t in the least appreciate the accusation, no matter that it came from his commander. “This is ludicrous,” he objected in a cold voice. “I only care that –”
He was interrupted by a new call from the speakers: “Cloudbase Control, I don’t know if you can receive this message. This is Rhapsody Angel, in SPJ 053, coming from Gizeh HQ with Symphony Angel…”
“What the hell?” Scarlet frowned in puzzlement. Now this wasn’t only Rhapsody – it was Symphony as well. And both were alive? He shot a confused look in Blue’s direction, but the latter was simply watching the speakers, without showing any outward sign of surprise. “Symphony?”
“Do you still think this isn’t a Mysteron trick, Captain?” White asked in an aloof voice. “This is too much of a coincidence. You know as well as we do that Symphony Angel disappeared in the desert shortly before the Mysteron attack. We didn’t find any trace of her.”
Scarlet hesitated for a fraction of a second; he had to admit, this looked highly suspicious…
He shook himself. Yes, the Mysterons were trying to trick them… but the trick wasn’t coming from where the colonel suspected. Scarlet was still convinced he was right in his assumption.
“Nobody disappears without a trace, Colonel,” he replied. “And they say they’re coming from Gizeh…”
“We had no contact with Gizeh since the attack,” Green commented.
Hope flared in Scarlet’s heart. “Then it might be possible that it is really the two of them,” he added. He addressed a grateful glance towards Green, before turning to Blue again. He found his friend still staring at the speakers. “Adam, won’t you help me on this? It’s not only Rhapsody, it’s Symphony as well.”
“Captain…” White warned, with a dangerous edge to his voice.
“Don’t you care for her anymore?” Scarlet continued, ignoring White’s interruption. “You did tell the Colonel about it –”
“I…” Blue hesitated. For a short moment, his eyes met with Scarlet’s, and the English captain thought he saw the glimmer of hesitation in them.
Then, unbelievably, Blue looked away, almost self-consciously. “It might be a Mysteron trick,” he repeated.
Scarlet couldn’t believe his ears. “What is it with you?” he lashed out angrily. “Since when are you such a cold and unfeeling jackass? Snap out of it, Blue!”
“Captain, behave yourself!” White warned again. “I do know about Captain Blue’s feelings for Symphony Angel. And now I’m wondering about your feelings for Rhapsody as well, and I’m thinking that they might be clouding your judgment.”
“Nothing is clouding my judgment, sir,” Scarlet replied, without committing himself. “I’m just not that sure this aircraft is a threat to us. It’s not on a collision course, it’s trying to contact us… and we, instead of answering it, are ignoring its calls!”
“Angel One approaching incoming aircraft within shooting distance,” Lieutenant Green announced.
Scarlet felt his heart missing a beat; he was running out of time. He turned his head to see the young communication officer swivelling his chair to face his commander. He couldn’t help notice the icy expression in his eyes.
It sent a shiver down his spine.
“Orders, sir?” Green coldly asked.
“How much time before the intruder is on us?” White inquired.
“Less then two minutes, sir.”
“Colonel,” Scarlet tried again. “There is still time to investigate –”
White silenced him with a swift wave of the hand. “Last time I did that, we lost one of our pilots,” he replied frostily. “Do you want us to lose another?” He turned to Green. “Tell Angel One to prepare for attack.”
“No!” Scarlet shouted.
“I have enough of this, Captain!” This time, White’s tone was nothing less than threatening. Scarlet swallowed hard; he didn’t even know now if he would have enough time to present his last argument, before either the SPJ would be destroyed or he would be forcibly removed from the Control Room.
– And yet, why did he have the impression that time was passing so slowly?
A crazy thought suddenly imposed itself in his mind. Could it be possible...?
Possible or not, maybe this was the ultimate chance he had to convince his commander.
“Sir – please, hear me out. Don’t you see you are making the same mistake Captain Black made on Mars?” He looked in Black’s direction, but could see no reaction to his words on his colleague’s face.
“In what way?” White asked.
Now he sounded curious. Scarlet moved on: “If indeed, that SPJ is controlled by the Mysterons – and they are hailing us – maybe they just want to… talk?”
“This is a long stretch, Captain,” Black replied.
“Shouldn’t you be with me on this?” Scarlet shot back. “You said you have negotiated a truce with them… and that they supposedly accepted your terms. Yet, you were quick to conclude, just a few minutes ago, that they might be attacking us again. And what if that isn’t the case? The first time you met them, you presumed they were hostile, and you attacked them. We were left to live with that mistake ever since. And now – we might very well do the same?” He turned to a pensive-looking Colonel White. “You always wanted to parlay with them, sir.”
“Yes… and the last time I tried, they almost blew you away, and this base as well,” White reminded him.
“I know – but they had the upper hand then. They probably saw no reason to talk to us and might have regarded our attempts at the time as an act of desperation to avoid the destruction of Cloudbase.”
“And now would be different?” Blue asked doubtfully.
“I would say it is – they’ve lost their main agent on Earth.” Scarlet looked again in Black’s direction. He wasn’t that sure that the Mysterons had indeed lost control of him, but this time, he was willing to give his colleague the benefit of the doubt. “They lost that last battle a few days ago. Maybe launching this attack was indeed their act of desperation… but we successfully repelled them. Maybe they’re more willing to accept talking to us now – I don’t know, maybe they want to make peace, instead of contenting themselves with a forced truce, or –”
“You’re thinking they want to surrender, perhaps?” Now it was White’s turn to sound doubtful, but at least, he sounded like he was considering the option.
“Knowing them, that would seem unlikely,” Black said at that point.
Scarlet turned to him with anger. “I wouldn’t expect you to give them any credit, Captain Black. For all we know, you might be considering vengeance against them, for having kept you under their control for so long. Or maybe you are again acting as rashly as you did on Mars.”
“Paul.” Scarlet turned to face Blue again. That his colleague had used his real name in front of their commander was surprising enough, but even more intriguing was the fact that Colonel White didn’t call him to order.
Blue was now looking gravely at his friend, his expression as impenetrable as before. Scarlet didn’t know what he had in mind and waited expectantly for his next words.
“Paul, because of your own experience, you’ve always said that death was preferable to being controlled by the Mysterons,” Blue soberly remarked. “If what you suggest is true, then it could mean that both Symphony and Rhapsody have been taken over.”
Scarlet hesitated. His heart felt heavy as he gave his answer: “I… realise that.”
“And you’re willing to accept it as well?” Blue insisted.
“If you are right,” Black added, “then the Angels would have been killed so they could carry out this mission for the Mysterons. You know how they work: the Mysterons first must destroy to recreate and control.”
“And did they kill you, Captain Black?” Scarlet asked meaningfully. “We still don’t know exactly what they did to you. You haven’t told us, have you?”
“That’s beside the point,” Black replied dryly. It was obvious he still wasn’t going to say anything on that subject, but Scarlet didn’t care anymore.
“You’re right,” he agreed, turning to a now silent Colonel White. “That isn’t the issue right now. The issue is to know if you will let this plane land on Cloudbase or blow it out of the sky. If its mission is not one of destruction –”
“And what if it is?” Blue said, casually walking away from Scarlet to stand in front of the control desk. He turned around and leaned against it, looking straight at Scarlet.
“It’s always been the case so far,” White continued. “Why would they change now?” He raised himself to his feet and rounded his desk to approach Scarlet, very slowly, and came to stand at nearly the same place Blue had stood a few seconds before. “Why would the Mysterons agree to simply talk to the Earthmen they despise so – without blowing them out of the sky, as you put it yourself? Now that they possibly have that chance? And why would you take the risk of believing they would come in peace... Or to… discuss the ‘terms of their surrender’?”
Scarlet narrowed his eyes, looking deep into his commander’s set expression. “Not to surrender,” he said carefully. “They would never surrender.”
White didn’t say anything at this reply. He stood there, watching Scarlet intently. “How can you know that?” he asked after a moment. “Because you think you know them so well?”
“I just have this feeling.”
“Ah!” White nodded in understanding. “Your sixth sense. Again.”
“No.” Scarlet shook his head. “Or maybe. I can’t be sure where it comes from. The Mysterons do not seem to me like they would be willing to surrender.”
“Except maybe if their survival depended on it,” White suggested. “But then again – we’re talking about a race that has the power of reversing matter. So survival may not be an issue for them. But it is to the human race, is it not? That’s why you, Captain Scarlet, are alive. Your sense of self-preservation is the reason you survived their attempt to take you over, and to break free of their control. It’s the reason why you retained the powers they granted you, the gift that permitted you to continually survive the many deaths you endured.”
Understanding suddenly dawned on Scarlet and with it, the horror of the situation. Everything became clear. Now he knew why he had felt so rough since his awakening the other day; why he had not seen or met that many people in the corridors of Cloudbase since that moment; why he felt that he was living in a dream-like world, with pieces missing to fully understand what had been going on. It even explained the presence of Captain Black onboard.
“Not a gift,” Scarlet cautiously replied to White’s question. “A curse.”
White slowly nodded. “And you would call it a curse…”
“You’re not Colonel White,” Scarlet abruptly declared, voicing his suspicions now turned certitude, and looking deep into the older man’s eyes. “You’re a Mysteron.”
He saw the thin smile tugging at Colonel White’s lips, and had great difficulty preventing a shiver going up and down his spine. He looked around; first at Green, who was staring at him fixedly, leaning over his console; then at Black, who stood behind the command desk – his features cold and implacable, and seemingly having regained the pallor that characterised him when under Mysteron control; finally at Captain Blue, who was standing nearby, also looking straight at him, very calmly, with an unfathomable expression on his face.
Scarlet swallowed hard. “You’re all Mysterons.”
“Took you long enough to realise it,” White replied in a low voice.
Scarlet took a step back, purely out of instinct. None of them moved or made a threatening gesture towards him. So he stood where he was and glared at each one of them, one after the other, his eyes staying on Blue a little longer, then returning to White.
“That explains everything,” he darkly realised. “Why I feel like my sixth sense is constantly firing off…”
“You should have listened to it more carefully,” White remarked. “But then again – as Captain Blue said, it hasn’t always been very reliable, has it?”
“He is not Captain Blue.”
“Like you are not Captain Scarlet either?”
Scarlet chose not to rise to the bait. “Doctor Fawn is a Mysteron agent too?”
Colonel White gravely nodded his head. “Like everyone you met onboard since you woke up in sickbay.”
“Ochre… Magenta…” Scarlet murmured. He swallowed hard again; the ball forming in his throat had trouble getting through. “We lost the battle, then.”
“Cloudbase was destroyed,” White confirmed. “It was sent spinning down to Earth. Everyone onboard was killed.”
“You recreated Cloudbase after that. You have it under your control now.”
“That is true. Oh, not everyone onboard was recreated… That wasn’t necessary. Only those needed to give you the illusion that everything was normal – and that Spectrum had won this last battle.”
“That’s why I didn’t meet as many people as expected, after I woke up,” Scarlet muttered. He then stared in silence at the man standing in front of him; he wasn’t even sure if ‘man’ was a proper way to describe him, as he now knew of his true nature. His mind was still reeling with the full significance of what he had just learned. The nausea he now felt had nothing to do with his sixth sense; he felt thoroughly and truly sick.
Just at this moment, the speakers came to life again, with the voice of Rhapsody, which broke the silence that had fallen in the Control Room:
“Cloudbase Control, this is Rhapsody Angel calling. We are making our final approach to main runway. We request authorisation to land.”
Scarlet shot an unsure glance towards the speakers, before addressing White, again: “Are they even alive to begin with?” he asked in a harsh tone. “Or are you still playing tricks with me, by making me believe they might be?”
White smiled thinly. “What do you believe, Captain?”
“If they are indeed alive, should we ask Angel One to blow them out of the sky?” Black asked in turn. His voice had taken the monotonous tones that Scarlet had heard so often through those same speakers now relaying the voice of Rhapsody. He sounded like the Mysterons – except for the lack of that disturbing echoing effect that always sent a shiver down his spine.
“Why this charade?” Scarlet asked, still addressing White. “Why did you go to these lengths to torture me?”
White scowled, almost surprised at the question. “Torture you? Why, Captain, you misunderstand our intent. This was merely a test.”
“A test? You mean an experiment of some sort?” Scarlet scoffed, loathingly. “So what, now I’m a lab rat?” He gestured around. “And you destroyed Cloudbase, killed everyone onboard, just so you could conduct this experiment of yours with me?”
“This is not as much an experiment as a trial, Captain,” Blue said from his place.
“A trial?” Scarlet scowled. “I don’t understand.”
“The Mysteron Imperial Council is divided in its decisions of what is required to do with the human race,” White explained quietly. “There are those amongst us, who think that you are a menace and that you should be obliterated. And there are also those who think we should award you a chance to prove yourself – and eventually be allowed to live.”
A puzzled Scarlet scowled. “That’s the first time I ever heard of this ‘Imperial Council’ of yours.”
“And it will be the last,” White distantly replied. “Because after this is done, you won’t remember any mention of it ever again.”
Scarlet couldn’t help thinking that it sounded terribly ominous.
“So you are to decide on our fate, then?” he asked.
“I was appointed as your judge,” White explained. “Captain Black…” He gave a brief nod in the direction of Black to acknowledge him, “… acted as your prosecutor.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Scarlet asked, his voice dripping thick with irony. He gave a hostile look towards Blue. “And you are Earth’s defence?”
Blue raised a brow. “In a way… but I’m merely acting as observer, Captain. An observer sympathetic to your cause, but who nevertheless must show fairness during the proceedings. You were chosen as Earth’s defender.”
Scarlet was perplexed. “I thought I was the accused.”
“You are that too,” Blue confirmed, “as you stand trial with all your people. But the Mysterons also felt you would be the best suited for the role that you filled relentlessly over the last year.”
“You like the irony, don’t you?” Scarlet asked acerbically.
A faint smile appeared on Blue’s lips. “There is much you don’t know, Captain Scarlet,” he said very quietly. “Even about your own existence… your survival… and your mission for the people of this planet. You are their chosen champion – and have been ever since the beginning of this war. This is why we allowed you to live in the first place, and why you are standing in front of us at this moment.”
“I’m not sure I understand you fully.”
“We told you our Council was divided. Some of us thought this war against humans was unfairly one-sided. No matter how many times you succeeded, you would lose in the end. It was inevitable.”
“I don’t know – for a time we did very well for ourselves – and we did manage to kick some Mysteron asses in the process.”
“Arrogance will not help your case,” Captain Black advised. “Yes… you did very well. Until Cloudbase fell, and with it, Spectrum lost. And once Spectrum has lost, the rest of Earth will be sure to follow.”
Scarlet glared at him, but said nothing. On second reflection, he considered his suggestion wasn’t such a bad one after all, and that it would be better not to antagonise him. Or any of the others, for that matter. He looked back at White and cleared his throat. “So what should I tell you, then – that would allow my people to live?”
“You have nothing to say,” White replied. “Judgment has already been passed.”
Scarlet frowned. “What? But I thought I was allowed to defend –”
“You already did that, Captain. Unknowingly, by your words, by your actions today, you have presented the defence for your entire planet.”
“And it took you far less time than we anticipated,” Captain Black pursued. “I had predicted three days, before we condemned your people to total destruction.”
“It took you less than twenty-four of your hours,” Captain Blue continued, looking at the clock on the wall.
“Twenty-four hours?” a baffled Scarlet repeated. His surprise turned to anger: “And twenty-four hours was enough for you to decide the fate of Humanity? Isn’t that rushing things a bit?”
“It took mere minutes – seconds – for your Captain Black to decide on the destruction of our Complex on Mars,” White coldly commented.
“And for you to declare war on us,” Scarlet countered in as harsh a voice.
“You should measure your words, Captain,” Captain Blue then quietly intervened. “Maybe it would be wise for you to actually wait to hear our decision, before you start judging us too harshly.”
“Haven’t you decided on our destruction?” Scarlet asked, waving in Black’s direction. “He said –”
“He said,” White cut in abruptly, “that he had predicted we would decide on your destruction in three days. As it was, that wasn’t the judgment we reached.”
Scarlet blinked. “It was not?” he asked, looking disbelievingly at White.
The latter shook his head. “We fully expected you to fail in your task. That the complete destruction of your people was imminent, and that it would only be a question of time before we would put an end to this war.”
“But then, you did the unexpected,” Blue continued. “We had not foreseen your actions today. The words you pronounced rang true and demonstrated another facet that we had either ignored, or were not willing to admit the human race possesses.” He pointed to the speakers. “You didn’t want the approaching aircraft to be destroyed, despite the argument that it might be under the control of the Mysterons. You demonstrated that you were willing to open communication first.”
“Let us be honest,” Captain Black replied, “he might have only done what he did for his own selfish reasons. Because he didn’t want these two women to be killed.”
White raised a brow. “That might be true. We might not really know how deep your sincerity ran when you made your choice, Captain Scarlet. But faced with uncertainty, you were willing not to fire the first shot. In that view, you succeeded where Captain Black failed, on that fatal day he discovered our Martian complex. And for us, this is an important insight into your race’s dispositions. You showed us that Earthmen are not all the same and are not only capable of the worst.”
“The people of Earth get to live?” Scarlet asked hopefully.
Blue shrugged. “That’s entirely up to them.”
“What, you mean the war isn’t finished?”
Black scoffed with derision. “Unlikely, Earthman.”
“The Mysterons have decided to give your people a chance,” White replied. “I think you might call it a ‘fighting chance’. But it’s nothing more than that. The war will continue, the way it has done before. Maybe for centuries to come, maybe for years – maybe only for a few months. Nothing has been decided yet on how long it will go on.”
“Our retaliation will be slow,” Black intoned.
“And you will ultimately destroy us?” Scarlet asked with a frown.
“Perhaps,” Captain Blue said. “Unless you convince us not to do so. Or you grow stronger with time, and find a way to destroy us instead.”
“So you say that, time provided, we actually could be able to stop you – and win against you?”
“That is unlikely,” White answered.
“… But a possibility,” Blue confirmed with a nod.
“I don’t get it. You’re saying we present a real threat to you – then why would you not decide to destroy us now and be done with it?”
Blue raised a brow, and then offered another thin smile. “What would be the fairness in that?”
Scarlet grew irritated at the sound of these words. “Just say that you enjoy the sport,” he said. “I would have far less trouble believing that. Because this is all it is for you, isn’t it? A sport. A game, rather. Or some kind of a sick experiment. For you, we are only curious animals – only worthy of your interest because you don’t quite know how we work.” His voice took on a bitter note: “And for this game of yours, this… kangaroo court, which only served for you to postpone your judgment of Earth… you killed everyone on this base. Over six hundred people died when you destroyed Cloudbase.”
“We killed more than this number since the beginning of our War of Nerves, Captain,” White remarked. “Or have you forgotten?”
“How can I forget that?” Scarlet replied in a low, angry voice.
“Perhaps the deaths of these people onboard Cloudbase touch you more now, because they were your friends, your companions… People you worked with and lived with.” Blue exchanged a glance in the direction of White and Black, and then gave a curt nod. “But perhaps they are not truly dead…”
Scarlet turned briskly to him. “What kind of sick game are you playing now?” he demanded.
“Spectrum is a worthy opponent,” Blue continued. “The war would not be the same if Spectrum – and Cloudbase – was not to be involved in it in the future. Your people would not have the same chances against us as before.”
“So what are you saying?” Scarlet asked carefully. “You’ll retrometabolise all of them? The way you did Captain Blue… Colonel White… and Lieutenant Green?” He gestured to all of them. “And let’s not forget Doctor Fawn and the rest…” He faced Blue again. “You would then be able to control them as you wish, isn’t that true? That’s a sure way to ensure that the war will be yours, once you have all of Cloudbase’s personnel under your control, and be able to do with them as you please…like vulgar puppets!”
Blue sighed. He left his position by the control desk, and approached Scarlet, very quietly. “You misunderstand our intent, Captain Scarlet. We do not wish to decide the outcome of the war between our people. We do not wish to take control of your friends – any more than we presently have control over you. Your free will is what makes you unique amongst those we created.” He stood in front of Scarlet, barely a foot away from him; the Spectrum officer was on his guard, ready to respond to any threat the Mysteron agent might pose. But Blue didn’t make a single move; he simply noticed how edgy Scarlet was, and smiled again. “You have yet to fully understand the full powers of the Mysterons, my friend.”
“I am not your friend.”
“No. Perhaps you are not. And maybe you will never believe I am yours.”
Scarlet’s eyes glared dangerously. “Not while you’re wearing the face of my murdered friend, no,” he replied with a voice so cold it would have frozen a raging fire.
For a moment, the Blue replicate locked eyes with Scarlet; there was nothing malevolent in his gaze; he only seemed to want to stare deep into the soul of this untamed Earthman who had no fear of facing him as an equal. After a few seconds, the Mysteron agent detached his eyes.
“We will grant you a favour, Captain Scarlet,” he said quietly. “As I said, you don’t know anything of the extent of our powers. Reversing matter does not only mean ‘Mysteronisation’, as you Earthmen came to call it. It can also be used in many other manners. Manners that you can only dream of, or cannot even expect to understand. One of which can permit us to warp time and space themselves and bend it at a moment in time, to our will.”
“Meaning what, exactly?” Scarlet asked with suspicion.
Blue shook his head, smiling thinly. “I didn’t expect you to understand. So I’ll use simpler words: whatever you know happened these last few hours will never have happened at all. Including the destruction of Cloudbase and the deaths of your companions.”
“Hours?” Scarlet repeated with incredulity. “Not days?”
“We told you it took you less than twenty-four hours to convince us,” Blue added. “That’s nearly the amount of time which passed between the moment you woke up and now.”
“If it seems as days to you, it was only through the powers of the Mysterons,” Captain Black commented.
A shaken Scarlet shook his head. With that impression of living in a dream-like world since the beginning of this farce, he had so much trouble keeping up with time. He saw no reason not to believe they were telling him the truth. He looked at the Mysteron duplicate of Blue, still facing him, and frowned doubtfully: “Am I to believe you truly can do that? And that you also can return my colleagues, my friends, to life?”
Blue smiled again. “Whether you believe or not doesn’t matter. We don’t work on faith.”
“Don’t wait for me to say ‘Amen’ to that.”
“In any case, as we said earlier: you won’t remember any of what happened.”
“None of it?” Scarlet was still doubtful. “Neither me or my friends?”
“Some of you might experience a distant feeling of déjà vu…” White answered vaguely. “But you will discard this as a dream – because, truth to tell, how can you remember something that never truly happened?”
“How indeed,” Scarlet groused. “I’m rather surprised. I’ve never imagined you to be that magnanimous.”
Blue chuckled. “No. Of course, you would not imagine that. We are the Mysterons, and the Mysterons must be implacable, must we not?” He put his hand on Scarlet’s shoulder and the latter felt a shiver running down his spine. The Mysteron’s touch had something electrifying to it – it wasn’t cold like Black’s, but it was making him feel equally uncomfortable.
The Mysteron’s eyes were now riveted on Scarlet’s. The Spectrum officer started feeling very weak, and he couldn’t see why. It was as if all of his energy was being drained from his body, by the mere contact of this hand on his shoulder.
“For everything that you will forget, try to remember this,” the Mysteronised Blue said in a voice so low that Scarlet was sure that the other agents standing behind him couldn’t hear him. “We told you the truth. Not all of us are in agreement with this war…” He paused, and Scarlet saw his eyes briefly shift to glance over his shoulder, as if he was concerned about being heard, before returning to him. “… But it might very well be the last time we will be able to help you directly.”
Scarlet now felt so drained, that he nearly lost his footing; the only reason he didn’t actually fall on his face was because the Mysteron agent was now holding him with a grip that would have crushed a ripe fruit. He blinked at the man’s words, not fully understanding the meaning of them.
“What… when did you –” He was too weak to continue, and the room started spinning.
“Isn’t that obvious?” He heard the voice echoing in his head as the face of the Mysteronised Captain Blue became a confused blur. “Who do you think gave Earth its finest champion in the War of Nerves? You were by far the best choice we could ever have made…”
The words faded, as did the scenery, and Scarlet felt his knees buckle underneath him a split second before his mind blanked.
“How are you feeling, Symphony?”
They were in the Officers’ Lounge, on Cloudbase, and the atmosphere was much livelier than it had been for the past two days. The day before, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue had rescued Symphony Angel from a slow and painful death in the desert, where she had found herself stranded after her Angel craft had experienced some mechanical failure that had forced her to eject. According to Doctor Fawn, she had been very lucky: she had suffered from dehydration and sunstroke, but had been found in time. He had given her a treatment in sickbay, and it was only this very morning that she had been released, under the condition that she would take it easy and stay off-duty for the rest of the week. She wasn’t complaining at all.
They were enjoying a cup of coffee together – Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue and Symphony Angel – when they had been joined by Captain Magenta and Destiny and Rhapsody Angels, coming to take news from their rescued friend. Destiny and Rhapsody in particular had been very fretful over the fate of their fellow Angel pilot, and were thrilled to discover that she was relatively well. They conveyed their wishes of good health from Melody and Harmony, who would come over to see Symphony later, and Magenta did the same for the absent colour-coded captains, busy with their own duties at the moment.
Symphony felt more than a little embarrassed by all their attention, all because, she said, she had stupidly found herself marooned in the desert for nearly a full day. Captain Blue, seated by her side, had gently chided her: in his view, there was nothing stupid in what had happened to her: it had purely been an accident. And he was very thankful that she was now safe and sound back with them. Captain Scarlet, seated only a few feet from them, smiled warmly at their barely concealed display of tender affection. Glancing about, he wondered if everyone else was blind not to notice it as well as himself; if they did, they feigned not being aware of it. Only Rhapsody, seated a little further away, on the highest level of the room, caught his eye and gave him a knowing smile, before hiding it behind a sip of her coffee. Scarlet did the same, his eye lingering pensively on his English compatriot.
Colonel White came into the room in turn to check on the Angel pilot’s health. He too had been very worried for her safety in the hours she had been missing – of course, not nearly as much as Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet reflected with some amusement.
“I’m fine, sir,” she answered with a sheepish smile at White’s question as the latter took a seat with them, after serving himself a coffee from the distributor. “Doctor Fawn says I’m to take things easy, and that if I follow his directives, I should be back on full duty next Monday.”
“Just don’t be too eager to return to work,” White advised. “You gave us quite a scare, Symphony. We didn’t know what happened to you.”
“I was scared too,” she confessed. “I thought I would never get out of that sun... I don’t even know when I lost consciousness exactly… When I saw both Captains Blue and Scarlet leaning over me, I couldn’t believe I was safe. I thought I was still dreaming.”
“Dreaming?” Blue asked with a frown. “What did you dream about?”
“Oh, I must have been delirious… It was a nightmare. A terrible, horrible nightmare.”
“Yes, I know how the sun can play strange tricks,” Colonel White commented empathically.
Symphony reddened. “You don’t know the half of it, sir. The Mysterons were attacking Cloudbase – with flying saucers.”
White, who was about to take a sip from his cup of coffee, stopped in his movement and raised a curious brow. “Flying saucers?” he repeated dubiously.
“Well – spacecraft anyway.” Symphony made a rotation with her index finger. “Revolving on themselves, you know?” She shrugged.
Scarlet frowned at her words. “How strange…”
“Well, not that much,” Blue replied chuckling. “When you think of all those old flying saucer movies… That’s got to have some influence on your imagination. That’ll teach you to watch all those shows before going to bed at night, Symphony.”
“Oh? And how would you know what she watches before she goes to bed, exactly, Captain?” Rhapsody asked teasingly with a perfectly raised brow.
“She told me, of course,” Blue answered with a coy smile. He put a reassuring hand onto Symphony’s knee. “But you’re safe now.”
Scarlet shook his head. He wasn’t so sure that watching those old movies Blue was talking about was the only thing that had affected Symphony’s dream. The girl’s next words seemed to prove him right:
“Yes, but it was so vivid… And kind of strange in a certain way. You were all there… but you were all different, somehow.”
“Different how?” Destiny asked with curiosity.
“Well, you, Destiny… you were very emotional.”
“Because I’m not?” Destiny asked.
“I mean, much more than usual. And the colonel… even more commanding.”
A surprised Colonel White cleared his throat. “Well, I, er… I’m sure I was just doing my job,” he said, before taking a long sip of his coffee.
“And you, Captain Magenta,” Symphony said, as a faint smile tugged her lips, “so keen and eager to please.”
“Well, I am,” Magenta said almost defensively. “I mean… I try.” He stopped there and felt the heat coming to his ears when he realised everyone was staring at him. He had the impression he was being accused of a terrible crime; he scowled and leaned back on the backrest of his seat. “Well, isn’t anyone allowed to do his best, these days?” he muttered, nearly under his breath.
Captain Blue smiled and turned to Symphony. “How was I in your dream, Symphony?”
She visibly reddened, suddenly unsure how to continue. She sighed deeply. “You were just… Adam,” she finally said.
Scarlet wondered if she was still suffering from that sunstroke after all, considering that Colonel White was in the room with them, and was listening to every word. He glanced towards his commander, to discover that the latter was currently sipping at his cup of tea – seemingly ignoring what the young woman had actually said. It was impossible he could not have heard her. Another glance in Blue and Symphony’s direction informed Scarlet that the two of them were quite oblivious to their commander’s presence at the moment, gazing into each other’s eyes and smiling sweetly. His eyes caught sight of how they were holding each other’s hands, before they finally realised that they were probably better off being mindful of their actions. They quickly let go.
Scarlet cleared his throat. “Sounds to me as if it wasn’t so bad,” he commented, with a thin smile.
Symphony grimaced. “No, it was horrible. You were all killed.”
Now that was becoming quite uncomfortable. “What? Even me?” he asked, almost without thinking.
Symphony gave him an apologetic smile. “Yes, even you, Captain Scarlet.”
“Just like that?” Scarlet repeated, as if he wanted to make sure of what she was saying.
She nodded. “It took the Mysterons only one attack. And Cloudbase was destroyed. Completely.”
“Now that’s not a really comforting thought,” Rhapsody said gloomily.
“I told you it was horrible. I’m so glad it turned out it wasn’t real…” Symphony shook her head. It was obvious the images she had seen in her head during that nightmare were still with her. “I don’t think I would have been able to bear it.”
“I think you’d better take Doctor Fawn’s instructions to heart, Symphony,” Colonel White advised as he lowered his cup. “It does sound to me like you will indeed need all the rest you can get.”
Symphony reddened anew. “Of course, sir…”
“And try to forget that dream,” he added gently. “As you can see, we’re far from being dead – any of us. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Mysterons can’t do anything against us, but I would be surprised if they would come all the way from Mars just for the main purpose of destroying Cloudbase. And I daresay,” he added in an undertone, “that we would probably be able to hold our own quite efficiently.”
“Most certainly,” Captain Blue approved with a vigorous nod, in an attempt to offer some reassurance to the young woman by his side. “Don’t you think so, Captain Scarlet?”
Scarlet moved uncomfortably on his seat. He didn’t like the direction this conversation was taking. “Yes, of course,” he answered, trying to sound confident. “We would know how to meet them.” For a second, he was pensive, as he wondered about such a possibility.
He watched pensively as Blue was leaning towards Symphony, with an amused glitter in his eyes. “Flying saucers?” the American captain inquired dubiously.
She chuckled. “It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?” she admitted. “But then, it WAS only a dream…”
Scarlet felt a cold sweat running down his spine. He couldn’t fathom the reason why. He put his half-empty cup onto the table in front of him and stood up. He picked up his cap and took his leave, giving a vague excuse that he had some urgent errands to run, and went to the elevator. He was vaguely aware of them all continuing to chat, without seemingly taking any notice of his abrupt departure.
He entered the cabin, and the doors of the elevator were about to close on him, when a voice from the other side called: “Hold the lift, please.”
He pressed a button, and the doors opened briefly to let Rhapsody Angel in. They closed completely after she entered.
“Up or down?” he asked her.
She shrugged. “Whatever direction you’re taking,” she replied with no more details than that.
He glanced at her, pensively, and pressed another button to go up. She stood by his side, taking note of his destination.
“Higher level? Promenade Deck?”
He shook his head. “Officers’ Restaurant,” he said. “I need a bite.”
“You call that an urgent errand?”
“It is when I’m hungry.” Scarlet shook his head again, frowning. “I don’t know why, but I have this sudden craving to fill my stomach. It’s like when I wake up from a retrometabolic sleep, having exhausted all my reserves and feeling famished.”
“Symphony’s dream made you feel uncomfortable?” Rhapsody asked him.
He nodded briefly without looking at her. “Yeah, it did at that.”
“No-one likes to dwell on his or her mortality, Captain,” she commented. “I imagine that it’s not that different even for someone who is virtually indestructible –”
“It’s not that.” Scarlet looked down, avoiding her eyes. “Well, a bit of that,” he admitted, “but most especially… I don’t like to dwell on the possible deaths of those I consider my friends.” He looked at her. “Like you.”
They locked eyes for a moment, and it was Rhapsody’s turn lower her eyes, after a short moment.
“In our line of work, Captain – who knows what the future holds for us?”
“I know, and Symphony’s dream made it all the more vivid what could possibly happen.” Scarlet sighed and lowered his eyes. “And what if it had not been a dream?” he added in a gloomy voice.
“But it was a dream,” Rhapsody said, offering him a reassuring smile.
He chewed on his lip, contemplating her; that beautiful smile, those bright eyes… Her shiny red hair… He had noticed all that before, but hadn’t truly acted on it.
And she was right. They didn’t know what the future could hold. So what was he waiting for exactly?
“Are you going back on duty soon, Rhapsody Angel?” he asked her.
“No… Not for a few hours.”
“Then would you like to join me for dinner?” Scarlet presented his hand to her, invitingly. “It’ll be on me.”
She looked up into his cheerful blue eyes and smiled anew, nodding at his invitation. “I would like that very much, Captain Scarlet,” she answered, taking his hand.
He squeezed it affectionately. “Please, you know you can call me Paul… Dianne.”
Dreamed up about a year ago, “That Which Doesn’t Kill You” was always meant as a Halloween story. Set somewhere towards the end of the episode “Attack on Cloudbase”, it tries to fill in the blank to the question ‘and what if it had been real?’, raised by the compilation movie “Captain Scarlet VS the Mysterons”, in which footages from the original episode were included into the story as not being a dream, but something that had actually happened. Fans are divided on this question, and there are some to believe that the episode should have been written as the last episode of the series, and be perceived as ‘real’, which would have given the victory to the Mysterons, and brought a close to the series. Personally, I think “Attack on Cloudbase” is so obviously eerie by its images, music, and situations, that it can only be taken as the dream episode it was always meant to be.
However, as an acknowledgement to those other fans mentioned above, I’ve chosen to write this story – with a twist to it. I’ve added a nod to the compilation movie as well, by including a reference to the ‘Mysteron Imperial Council’, which was mentioned in that movie – and nowhere else I believe. If I am making a mistake, I’d appreciated a line to tell me so.
The events of this story might have happened or not – it is left for you to decide. Maybe the Mysterons are still playing tricks on Spectrum – or maybe it was all a dream after all.
All my thanks to my beta-reader, Hazel Köhler, and Marion Woods, for the help and support provided for this story. If you still find any mistakes, they’re my own, and I assume all responsibility.
Thanks and credit goes to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and the production team from “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons”, who, many years ago, gave us with these wonderful characters and original stories. I also acknowledge the production team for the “Captain Scarlet VS the Mysterons” movie, for the inspiration provided for this story.
To the best of my knowledge, the rights to ‘Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons’ ™ belong to Carlton Media.