A “Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons” story
By Chris Bishop
Captain Blue entered Captain Scarlet’s quarters upon receiving the invitation to come in. The door closing behind him as he cleared the doorway, he watched with a perplexed expression as Scarlet, dressed in civvies, was filling a big carry-on bag with clothes and personal effects, that he had put on the bed. Blue approached, frowning.
“So what Lieutenant Green told me is true. You’re taking a furlough?”
“Maybe Green should learn to hold his tongue,” Scarlet mumbled under his breath.
“I don’t know,” Blue replied. “When I talked to him he seemed… concerned. Is there something I should know?”
Scarlet didn’t answer, and merely continued to fill his bag. Blue shook his head.
“All right, I see you’re still angry with me.”
“I’m not angry with you,” Scarlet replied. He stopped what he was doing for a moment, and gave a deep sigh, before raising his eyes to his friend. “As far as I know, I have nothing to be angry with you about.”
“ ‘You have nothing to be angry with… me about’.” Blue gave a knowing nod. “Somebody else, then. The colonel.”
“I suppose Lieutenant Green told you that too?” Scarlet huffed dryly.
“Merely a guess, Paul. Considering what you were like earlier…”
“What I was like earlier?”
“Well, you were quite furious with the old man earlier. You don’t seem to have cooled down.”
Scarlet threw more than deposited in the bag his toothbrush and toothpaste, before raising flashing, infuriated eyes to Blue. “And I’m not about to,” he remarked coldly.
“I see,” Blue replied ,keeping his own voice a calm contrast to Scarlet’s. “Is that why you’re leaving right now?”
“I have some thinking to do,” Scarlet replied, putting his last things in the bag. “To get my bearings… Decisions to make.”
“Decisions about what?” Scarlet didn’t answer Blue’s new question. He contented himself with zipping his bag closed. Then he turned around and went to pick up a jacket hanging on his seat, in front of his computer. Blue followed and stood in front of him, while he was putting it on. “Paul, you’re not thinking about leaving Spectrum, are you? Not over that… secret we kept from you about your first death?”
“If ONLY it was just that!” Scarlet scoffed loudly. He paused a moment, adjusting his jacket, thoughtful. “Adam… What do you know about the Scarab Project?”
He scrutinised his friend’s features closely. He was unable to see any reaction of knowledge of what he had just said. Blue was keeping a straight face, with a somewhat clueless expression. “Is that supposed to be a trick question?”
“You don’t know anything about it,” Scarlet realised with a certain amount of relief. “I might have known they wouldn’t tell you about it.”
“What is it, Paul? What is the… ‘Scarab Project’?”
“Just something that indicated plainly to me that there were some people who didn’t trust me enough to allow me back into this organisation – without taking out some insurance.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Blue frowned deeply. He was starting to get really annoyed by Scarlet’s enigmatic remarks and half-covered accusations. “Are you referring to the colonel?”
“Amongst others,” Scarlet replied with an acerbic tone.
“How can you say the colonel doesn’t trust you?” Blue declared. “Or that there would be anyone within the organisation who doesn’t? Paul, I thought you have proven yourself enough to…”
“I wasn’t talking about anyone else in Spectrum,” Scarlet cut in abruptly. “Not that I know of, anyway.”
“I have the distinct impression that you have suddenly turned paranoid,” Blue replied, his impatience growing by the second.
“So, first I was obsessed, and now I’m paranoid?” Scarlet snapped suddenly. “Well, I am NOT, Adam! I saw the proof with my own eyes. These people didn’t trust me as far as they could throw me. You see, it’s just like Captain Black! I probably would get the same treatment they would be demanding for him, if…” He stopped, seeing that Blue didn’t seem to understand a single word he was saying.
“What people, Paul?”
“Forget it,” Scarlet mumbled, going to his bed where his bag was still lying. Blue followed him with his eyes, perplexed.
“You said it wasn’t somebody in Spectrum... although it’s perfectly clear you’re very upset over something the colonel did. That Scarab Project, can’t you tell me what it is?”
“Better you don’t know about it,” Scarlet grumbled, picking up his bag. “It’s… top secret, anyway.”
“And so you won’t tell me?” Blue asked with a puzzled expression. “Paul, you’re my friend, and it worries me to see that you won’t even confide in me. Now please, tell me what’s going on and if there’s anything I can do to help. You know I…”
“There’s nothing you can do to help!” Scarlet replied, turning to him. “I JUST need some time alone to think, okay? That’s the only reason I want to get away for a few days.”
There was so much anger in Scarlet, it was almost palpable. Anger and frustration at the same time. And his mind was set so inflexibly at the moment, that it didn’t look as if he would listen to any words of reason. Blue had never seen him like this before. From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the flashing computer screen near him. Absently, he turned toward it. He narrowed his eyes in puzzlement when he saw the information on the screen. What are you up to, Paul? he thought inwardly.
“The only reason, you’re sure about that?” he asked quietly.
“A few days in the old country will do me a lot of good,” Scarlet answered, picking up his bag. “Now Adam… I’m sorry I lost it with you. I know you are my friend, but I don’t need you to act… like some kind of over-protective brother with me. I can take care of myself. And I can make my own decisions. Alone.”
Blue nodded slowly. “I never had any doubt about that. I can assure you of that. I just wanted you to know that if you need a listening ear… I’m here.”
Scarlet smiled his thanks and patted his friend’s arm. “I know that, Adam. And I appreciate it.” He reached over to shut down his computer. Blue, making believe he didn’t even get a peek at the screen, moved out of his way, and watched, as his friend turned to direct his steps toward the exit. “I’d better be leaving now, my plane’s waiting for me.”
“Just one more thing…” The door had opened in front of Scarlet and he turned in the doorway, glancing toward Blue. The American captain shook his head. “I just wanted to say… don’t go making any rash decisions while you’re angry, Paul. You know you might regret them afterwards.”
Scarlet nodded his understanding. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”
“AND be careful,” Blue added quickly.
Scarlet raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t I always?” He saluted his friend with a casual gesture. “Turn off the light, and lock the door when you leave. See you in a week.”
He turned around and the door slid closed on him, leaving a puzzled Blue standing in the middle of his quarters. The American grunted with irritation at his friend’s departure.
“See you in a week,” he repeated in a mumble, as if to answer Scarlet. He knew there was something deeply bothering his colleague – something he couldn’t even imagine. A large part of Scarlet’s anger was directed at Colonel White, and it wasn’t only about that secret the Spectrum commander had kept from him. Well some of it was, obviously, but there was something else. Something that acted like a last straw for Scarlet. What could it be? Why wouldn’t he even talk about it to Blue?
If that wasn’t enough, Captain Blue was aware that there was another problem lurking around the corner. One that might or might not be related to the present situation. He looked down at the blank screen on the now shut-down computer, with a suspicious expression spreading on his face, pondering what he had seen on it and what Scarlet might be planning to do.
“Aren’t I always?”
“No, you’re certainly not,” Blue sighed with exasperation. He turned on his heel and left the room. He needed to talk to Colonel White about this.
* * *
“You’re sure about that?” the Spectrum commander asked, staring at the young man standing in front of him in the conference room, where he had received him.
Captain Blue, his cap on the round table, nodded very slowly, as to emphasis his conviction. “Yes, sir. There’s no doubt about it.” He watched as White’s expression turned thoughtful, and he started to absent-mindedly stir his tea. Blue addressed his commander with a frown. “Sir? You don’t seem all that surprised.”
“Quite the contrary, Captain,” White replied quietly. “I’m rather surprised indeed. Of all the destinations he might have chosen, it didn’t occur to me that Captain Scarlet would go back to Dorset.” He put his spoon down on the table. “Now I would very much like to know what trouble he intends to get himself into.”
“I’m asking myself that exact question, Colonel,” Blue declared then. He wasn’t half as surprised as he should have been to hear the colonel voice the same concern he had himself– about Scarlet getting himself into some kind of trouble. If anything, that only confirmed his suspicion. “And that’s why I came to tell you. Makes me feel like a weasel, invading his privacy like that, and reporting it to you, but…”
“You’re worried,” White offered, seeing the young man hesitate. As Blue was nodding to the affirmative, the Colonel mumbled, “you’re not the only one.” He completely ignored his freshly made cup of tea and sat back on his seat. “What on earth could compel him to go back there?” he murmured thoughtfully.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what, sir.” White looked up at Blue, who was still standing in front of him. The American seemed slightly on edge. “I saw the area map he was consulting. Scarlet had marked the spots where Captain Black had been sighted, when he was there. Mainly, Stone Point Village, and the Culver Atomic Centre. My guess is that he will be trying to get a lead on Black, somehow.”
“Surely, Captain Black would be far away from that area by now,” White noted. “And Scarlet would know that.”
“Not if he is as obsessed with him as I think he might be,” Blue replied.
White pondered that for a few seconds. “Or he already has a lead we don’t know about,” he considered.
“He would have told us.”
“Would he? Captain, if he thinks that Spectrum is going to kill Black on sight, and if, as you suspect, Scarlet is obsessed with taking him alive, maybe then he wouldn’t tell us about this lead he may have on Black. Don’t you think so?” Blue didn’t answer that more than logical conclusion. White returned to his reflection, rubbing his chin. “Maybe there’s something else we are not aware of…” he said after a moment.
“Like what, sir?” Blue said, suddenly on the defensive.
White shook his head, not willing to respond. Blue thought he had understood what he was implying, and he didn’t like it one bit. “Sir, if you think that Captain Scarlet‘s gone back there on some mission for the Mysterons…”
“I never implied anything of the kind,” White cut in sharply. He got to his feet. “What makes you think I would suspect him of such a thing?”
Blue hesitated again. “When I talked with him… Captain Scarlet seemed to imply that… you didn’t trust him.” The American captain narrowed his eyes at his commanding officer. “Why would he think that?”
“What he thinks is rubbish, Captain Blue,” White grumbled. “I tried to tell him that, but he wouldn’t listen. He was too angry with me.”
“Why was he so angry?” Blue demanded.
White sat down. “That shouldn’t concern you,” he said simply. “Suffice it to say that Captain Scarlet has no reason to believe I don’t trust him.” He saw the hard features with which Blue was staring at him, almost accusingly.
“What’s the ‘Scarab Project’, sir?” The question was simple. White’s eyes glowered, looking up at the set features of the younger man.
“What did Scarlet tell you about it?” he asked carefully.
Blue hesitated. “Not much,” he conceded. “Only that it was a top secret matter.”
White nodded. “And it should stay that way.”
“Captain Blue, I will not discuss the ‘Scarab Project’ with you,” White cut in sharply. “Nor is it to be discussed with anybody. The content of this ‘top secret’ information is irrelevant in this present problem.”
“But it’s obviously what set Captain Scarlet off against you, Colonel.” Blue paused. “And against whoever else was responsible for this… Project.”
“Captain…” White gave an annoyed sigh. “This is a huge misunderstanding. It would probably be already settled if Captain Scarlet had only deigned to listen to me,” he grumbled. “And I will see that this is settled, as soon as he’s… amenable. For the moment,” he added in a tone that suggested he was not longer prepared to discuss that topic, “we have far more important matters on our minds. If what you saw was correct, Captain Scarlet’s return to Dorset may spell trouble for him. If Captain Black is still in the vicinity and Scarlet goes out looking for him…”
“It could be a potentially lethal situation for Scarlet,” Blue confirmed.
“What do you think may be on his mind?” White asked. “Saving him? Or avenging himself, in view of what he has just found out, about Black’s involvement with his death and Mysteronisation?”
Blue shrugged. “In any case, sir, I don’t think that Captain Scarlet stands a chance of apprehending Black. Again, if Black is still over there.”
“That might be like Black, actually,” White muttered. “Staying in the very place where he had been hunted, after the hunt had been called off…”
“Maybe you should call Captain Scarlet back, Colonel.”
“At the moment, that wouldn’t be my first choice, Captain Blue. As you stated yourself – we are not on the very best of terms. He needs time to cool off. I fear that ordering him back to Cloudbase, even going to the extent of sending a security team to bring him back by force, would only make things worse between us.”
“I can go to talk to him,” Blue offered. “I’m sure that he’ll listen to me, and…”
“Did he listen, just now?” White shook his head. “No, Captain Blue. You’re staying here on Cloudbase. Besides, with Scarlet gone, and Captain Magenta presently on leave, I can’t spare you at the moment. I need you on duty onboard Cloudbase, as I need Captain Grey and Captain Ochre.”
“Captain,” White cut in with insistence, “this is my last word on the matter.”
“Sorry, sir.” Blue paused a second, unsure whether he should ask the question burning his lips. He decided to take the risk, even if it would mean bringing down on himself the anger of Colonel White. “Does that mean that you’ll leave Captain Scarlet to fend for himself, Colonel?”
White raised a brow, and looked up at Blue almost in annoyance. Should he reprimand his captain for his insistence? No, he decided, seeing that Blue shared the same concern as himself. Having ONE of my senior staff angry at me is more than enough at the moment. He decided to play the patience card.
“Did I ever say that, Captain?” he remarked, restraining a sigh. When Blue didn’t answer, but contented himself with staring curiously at him, he continued, “We already suspect he might be running into some kind of trouble. I think it would be best that – someone kept a watchful eye on him.”
“Sir?” a puzzled Blue replied. “If not me, or any of the other Captains… then who…”
“I have already made arrangements, Captain.”
A beeping sound made itself heard and the door at the other side of the room slid open, just as Blue turned around to see who was coming in.
He saw Rhapsody and Symphony Angels briskly walk in and approach the conference table, where White was still seated. Turning to the colonel, Blue saw him flinch, ever so slightly, but by his general composure, it was otherwise obvious that White had been waiting for them to arrive. That’s why he was in the Conference Room to begin with, Blue reflected, inwardly. He turned a puzzled look at the Angel pilots, wondering what could be the reason for their presence there.
“Now, Captain Blue,” White then said, compelling the blond captain to turn around to face him anew, “if you would leave us, please. The Angels and I have a lot to discuss.”
Blue’s eye sparked with some enlightenment. Still he was unsure. Could it be that the Angels’ presence had something to do with Scarlet? He looked back at the colonel, but couldn’t decipher any answer to this question on his set face. Nothing surprising there. He nodded his acknowledgement of his commander’s order and took back his cap from the table, before saluting him and walking in the direction of the door.
Passing by the Angels, he addressed them a nodded salutation; his eyes met those of Symphony and clung to them for a few seconds – much more time than really necessary, to anyone else who might be witnessing. He didn’t really care at the moment, as he was concerned that his compatriot was all right. The faint smile she gave in reply to his mute question wasn’t nearly enough to assure him of that – still, he reflected, she seemed better than earlier that day. He smiled in turn and walked out of the room, the door sliding closed on him; he just had the chance to glimpse inside to see Rhapsody and Symphony accepting the colonel's invitation to take a seat in front of him.
“Symphony Angel,” Colonel White said, looking straight at the American pilot. “I don’t recall having called you to this meeting. If I remember correctly, I requested Rhapsody and Destiny Angels.”
“Sorry, sir,” Symphony said a little sheepishly. “But I… kind of overheard when you called them earlier.”
“Did you,” grumbled White with humour.
“I… understand that you need someone for a tailing assignment of some kind?”
“Of – some – kind,” White repeated slowly.
“I thought I could – replace Destiny for this assignment. With your permission, sir.”
White turned a gloomy look toward Rhapsody. “I thought I had told you it had to be kept under wraps, Rhapsody.”
“It’s not her fault, sir,” Symphony protested. “I happened to be there when she and Destiny received the call.”
“She insisted on coming, sir,” Rhapsody added. “There was nothing Destiny and I could do or say to stop her.” She paused a second. “Destiny thought that you might be able to get her to see some sense. That’s why she’s here.”
“I want to be in on this,” Symphony insisted.
“Why?” White asked with a frown.
“Sir, I…” She sighed, lowering her gaze. “Considering that last fiasco with Captain Black, I thought I could – in this way – redeem myself? Somehow?”
White considered her a few seconds, pondering. “Symphony,” he said quietly, “you don’t need to redeem yourself.”
Tell that to Captain Scarlet, Symphony thought inwardly. Wisely, she didn’t voice it.
White continued, in an even voice: “That episode with Captain Black was merely an indication that what has been bothering you these last few days hindered your capacity to do your duty. Symphony, I already know about your father’s demise...”
Symphony lowered her eyes. White had already told her earlier that day that he had learned about it all from Lieutenant Green, while she was being held hostage by Black. He had shown his concerns to her, in a way that demonstrated how a good man he really was, beneath that rough façade he usually displayed, and had offered his condolences. He couldn’t understand why she had not told him about it when she had first heard, shortly before the manhunt for Black had started, and that was the only reprimand he had offered her. She had no doubt the situation concerning her father’s death was one of the main reasons he had not taken disciplinary action against her following her awful blunder concerning Black.
“I know it’s hard,” White continued in a firm, yet still kind enough tone. “Believe me, I know. I don’t think you’re fit for duty right now. You should be home, with your mother. She needs you as much as you need her.”
“I do intend to go home, sir,” Symphony insisted. “But right now – I really feel like I should do something to make amends. Please, I want to participate in this assignment. I assure you – I won’t make any mistakes this time.”
White grunted. He still had his doubts; but he could see Symphony was so very determined now. He wondered if, indeed, this mission wasn’t something she desperately needed. “I need to know if you are well enough to perform your duty without any distraction, Symphony. How are you REALLY feeling now?”
There was only the slightest hesitation on the American pilot’s part. “I feel fine, sir. Really.”
White scowled. “It seems I will have to take your word for it…”
Rhapsody was distraught. The meeting with White wasn’t turning out as she had expected it to at all. “Sir,” she then protested, “considering the circumstances, I’m not really sure it’s such a good idea…”
White turned an annoyed look to his compatriot. What, her too? Why do all these girls have to be so obstinate?
“It’s all right, Rhapsody,” Symphony cut in swiftly, seeing that White was preparing to admonish her fellow Angel pilot. “I can do it.” She looked straight at the colonel with an air of assurance. “I said I won’t make another mistake like the last one. I promise.”
“Thank you,” White said with a brief nod. “I’m glad to hear it.” He glanced towards Rhapsody. “So unless you have further objections, Rhapsody Angel, maybe we’ll be able to proceed?”
Rhapsody fought hard not to redden. “No objections, sir,” she assured her commander with a slight hesitation. “I was just… expressing my concern. I know how… distressed… Symphony has been lately.”
“It’s all behind me now,” Symphony retorted. She smiled slightly. “You don’t have to worry that I won’t be effective enough to cover your hide should it be necessary, Rhapsody.”
The latter was about to protest that it wasn’t the reason for her concern when Colonel White loudly cleared his throat, at the same time interrupting her and calling them back to order; both women returned their attention to their commander. “I assure you, ladies, that this mission won’t be dangerous enough for you to – er – look out for each other,” he remarked quietly. “I merely need you to keep someone under surveillance – follow this person every step of the way, wherever he goes, and not lose him for one second. And without him being aware of your presence.”
“Why would you want us to tail someone, sir?” Rhapsody asked with curiosity.
“Because I can only trust someone from the senior staff with this mission. And even considering that I can’t spare any of the colour-coded captains right now, amongst the senior staff, you’re the most the most likely candidates for the assignment, because of your past experience.” White paused a second, thoughtful. “Well, there is Destiny Angel too,” he reflected, “but under the circumstances, it’s not such a bad idea to have Symphony replace her. She might not have been the best of choices.”
“Who is this person who doesn’t know we’ll be following him?” Rhapsody asked, wondering about the meaning behind the colonel’s last words.
There was a deep silence in the room; both Symphony and Rhapsody were looking at Colonel White with puzzlement obvious in their features. “He’s recently gone down to the ground, for a week’s furlough,” White continued his explanation. “I need to be kept informed of his exact whereabouts.”
“You want us to shadow Captain Scarlet,” Rhapsody repeated slowly. “Without being seen.” She blew out some air. “Tall order. Sir,” she added quickly.
“I don’t think it’s beyond your expertise, is it?” White remarked meaningfully.
“Er… No, sir,” Symphony replied, addressing a look at a grim-looking Rhapsody. “I’m quite sure we’ll be able to do it. Following Captain Scarlet won’t be a problem. But without him being aware of it?”
“You’ll do your best, I’m sure,” White replied.
“Sir, why should we follow him?” Rhapsody asked with a deep frown.
“Don’t concern yourself with the reason, Rhapsody. Just follow his every step. Take note of where he goes, what he does and who he talks to. I want a full, complete report on his whereabouts, at regular intervals.”
There’s something afoot, Rhapsody reflected, and the colonel doesn’t want us to know what it is. What could Scarlet be up to, for the Spectrum commander to want to keep him under close surveillance?
“Where is Captain Scarlet now, sir?” Rhapsody asked.
“According to – recent information, he’s gone to Dorset.”
“Dorset…?” A surprised Rhapsody stole a glance toward Symphony. The latter seemed as taken aback as herself. “Captain Black was there recently,” she pointed out.
“I’m well aware of that, Rhapsody.”
“Do you expect us – or Captain Scarlet – to… encounter some kind of trouble there, sir?” Rhapsody asked meaningfully, suddenly very aware that it was probably part of the reason why their commander was asking them to follow Scarlet.
“Perhaps. But I’m not sure. That’s why I merely need you to keep this a surveillance assignment. If trouble does arise – whatever it might be – contact Spectrum right away. And don’t get directly involved. Is that clear – Symphony?”
“Of course, sir,” Symphony answered with a quick nod.
“I don’t want you to take unnecessary risks,” White insisted. “Either of you,” he specified, looking at both Angels.
“We won’t, sir,” Rhapsody assured him in turn.
“Good,” White said, with a satisfied nod, “that’s what I wanted to hear.” He opened the folder in front of him and consulted a note on top of the thin pile of paper it contained. “An SPJ is ready to take you to the ground immediately. Once you’re airborne, Lieutenant Green will give your pilot exact coordinates of Captain Scarlet’s destination, as soon as he has confirmation, and you’ll go directly there. Until you arrive, Spectrum ground personnel will arrange to keep track of him – then it’ll be up to you.”
“I’m hoping you won’t run into any kind of trouble,” White added thoughtfully. “But if that DOES happen – remember your orders.” He smiled briefly. “I know I can count on you.” They nodded silently, and the colonel looked at them gravely. “Then that will be all, Angels. Dismissed – and good luck on your assignment.”
Any comments? You can e-mail them to the Spectrum Headquarters site.