A "Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons" story
Captain Blue woke up with a start, gasping loudly as he did. The air surrounding him was different; it wasn’t cold, and there wasn’t any wind blowing onto his face or whistling into his ears. All he could hear was the reassuring humming of electronic and electric equipment surrounding him.
He opened his eyes and blew a deep sigh of relief as he stared right up at the brightly lit, high ceiling of the sickbay room, in which he had fallen asleep the evening before. He turned his head to his left and found a smiling Rhapsody staring back at him. He smiled back at her.
“We did it,” she told him.
“We did it,” he answered, with a satisfied nod of his head. It seemed to him that his voice came out as a mere whisper when he spoke.
“Hello, my Viking prince.” The enticing voice made Blue shiver, almost despite himself. He turn his head and saw Symphony bending over him, on the other side of the bed, beaming radiantly, and presently busy freeing him from his restraints. Blue’s smile widened upon seeing her, and then he frowned with concern; she had a dressing over her temple, which was soiled with the blood of a very recent wound that it was obviously covering.
“What happened to you?” Blue asked. God, my throat is so dry – I am so thirsty…
She shrugged. “It’s nothing… Iduna cut herself shaving.”
“I’ll explain later. For the moment, I don’t have the time. Everyone is waking up all over Cloudbase, and I expect to be busy helping Doctor Fawn for a while.”
“Everyone…? Scarlet…?” Blue didn’t dare finish his sentence. He exchanged a concerned glance with Rhapsody.
“Everyone is all right,” Symphony reassured them. “As far as I’m able to say right now. Paul too,” she added, turning to Rhapsody. She saw relief relaxing the tense features of both her lover and friend. “His awakening was a little… hectic, to say the least, but Doctor Fawn reported that he’s fine right now. The doctor was with him in R&D, when people started waking up – about ten minutes after he did.”
Blue’s head fell down on his pillow and he sighed again, with even deeper relief. “It worked then… We’re all back. We’re safe.”
“I don’t know what worked exactly, but you’re definitely back. All of you.” Symphony bent down closer and lightly kissed his lips. “And am I glad YOU’RE back, Big Blue, and you’ve finally deigned to leave the world of dreams…”
“Do you have any idea how much effort we had to make to leave that ‘world of dreams?” Blue asked with a frown.
“Oh, I have an idea…” She kissed him again and got to her feet. “And I love you even more for being the hero you are.” She smiled again. “Now will you be a dear, and finish freeing Rhapsody for me? I have work to do.”
“With that wound of yours?” Blue asked, as he rose into a sitting position and put his feet to the floor. He grimaced. His whole body was killing him. He’d be nursing painful muscles for the next few days, he was sure of it.
“For now, there’s only Doctor Fawn, Harmony and myself to monitor everyone’s waking up,” Symphony reasoned, as Blue leaned over Rhapsody to remove the last of her restraints. “I have to make do.”
“Then we’ll give you a hand,” Rhapsody offered, now free and sitting up on her bunk. She frowned at the sound of her own voice and looked around. “Is there any water around here?”
Symphony handed her a glass that the English pilot took greedily, sipping the contents with obvious delight.
“Rhapsody is right. We’ll help you,” Blue said in turn.
“After what you’ve been through? You’ll have to rest a little…”
“And what about you? Shouldn’t you be resting too?” Blue asked. He accepted the glass Rhapsody was handing him and drank in turn.
“My ordeal can’t have been as terrible as yours. And beside, I woke up a few hours ago already.”
“Again – I’ll explain later. I will admit though,” Symphony said a little sheepishly, “that I’m feeling kind of tired, but I’ll think about getting some rest later. And no,” she added quickly before Blue could comment, “I will not use the Room of Sleep. Not for a while. And even if I wanted to, the darn thing is offline, anyway.” She pointed to the console. “I’ll just monitor everyone’s progress from this computer here, don’t worry about me.”
“Then how about you tell us everything that happened, while we’re helping you out?” Blue offered, getting to his feet. “We won’t overexert ourselves, if you don’t either. But,” he added as she smiled again in a thankful way, “I won’t do anything before having some more water to drink – and something to eat… I’m famished and my throat is as dry as sandpaper.”
“The same for me,” Rhapsody said in a pleading voice, her hand resting on her stomach. “I feel as if I’m starving to death…”
“I can understand the feeling,” Symphony chuckled. “There’s some fruit at the nurses’ station and on the reception desk. It’s not much, but it’s fresh… Help yourselves… And bring me an apple, please. A big, red, juicy apple… In the meantime, I will call Doctor Fawn in R&D – and tell him you have woken up. He’ll be pleased to know you’re all right and ready to help!”
* * *
Hearing the male voice calling to her from a short distance behind in the corridor, Melody Angel didn’t even slow down. Instead, she quickened her pace, making a show of pretending she had not heard anything. She heard the man following her break into a run.
“Mag! Please, wait for me.”
The shout was a little too loud for her to continue feigning she didn’t hear it. She stopped, just in front of the door to her quarters and sighed deeply, raising her eyes to the ceiling, a defeated expression on her face. She had regained her composure by the time her pursuer had reached her; she turned around just as he was about to touch her arm, and stood as tall as she could before him, looking him in the eyes.
“Yes, Captain Ochre? What can I do for you?”
His hand lowered, without coming into contact with her. He gave her a puzzled look.
“I’ve been trying to talk to you since we woke up from that… er… game last evening,” he told her. “I wanted to ask you…” He lowered his gaze. “… How are you?”
“I’m fine, thanks,” Melody answered. “Well – a little frustrated, maybe, because Doctor Fawn signed me off duty for the remainder of the week.”
“He put nearly all of us off duty, after he released us from sickbay. Or at least, on light duty for a little while,” Ochre remarked. “We kind of think we’re indispensable, don’t we? Don’t worry, they found someone to take the Angel duty during that time. Beside, Harmony is still there to supervise the replacements…”
“It’s not that I’m worrying about,” Melody interrupted before he could continue. “Working helps me cope.”
“Cope with what?”
“Well – the situation, of course… It’s not every day you wake up to discover the dream you were having was shared with four hundred plus people…”
He raised a brow. “How about ‘shared with one specific individual’? Me?”
“What about you?” Melody asked, matter-of-factly.
This time, Ochre frowned slightly. “Mag, I’m not stupid, you know? I’ve noticed. You’ve been avoiding me since yesterday. I’ve barely seen you…”
“That’s not true!” she scoffed. “I do remember we’ve seen each other a few times…”
“Yeah, but you carefully made sure that it would be while others were around, so we would not be alone together, you and I, at anytime.” Hearing footsteps approaching, Ochre stopped and looked on as a technician passed by them, going about her business, without apparently paying any attention to them. He waited until she was out of earshot before looking again at Melody. The latter had grown very quiet – and looked slightly uncomfortable. “I want to talk to you about what happened during that game.”
“Captain Ochre… I assure you there is nothing…”
“Rick. Look, I know it was embarrassing and all – having to cope with everybody else about those strange events… How we all interacted with each other…”
“Yes, you can say it’s embarrassing,” she admitted, between clenched teeth. “But not to the point where I can’t move on from there. I know we were all acting out of character. We were not ourselves, and had no control – each of us obeying the programming that was put into our minds. So I don’t hold a grudge against anyone, I assure you. And that includes you, Captain.”
“Rick,” he insisted again. He tilted his head to one side, looking at her with attention. “Are you sure we acted so out of character – you and I?”
She glared at him. “If you are telling me you liked seeing me as a prisoner, chained and humiliated in front of a bunch of drooling, ill-bred barbarians…”
Ochre automatically held up his hands to stop her. Obviously, it was still a sore point, and it was better not to go into it. “No, nothing like that,” he assured her. “I mean – what actually happened between you and I…”
“Nothing happened,” she pointed out. “Nothing of what you’re implying anyway…” she added, turning around and entering the numeric code to unlock her door.
“Yeah but… It’s not as if we actually didn’t want it…”
The door slid open and Melody, who was about to enter, stopped in the doorway, her back turned to Ochre. She glared at him over her shoulder. “I blacked your eye,” she reminded him.
“A gentle love tap,” he said, with a shy smile, approaching one step as she turned around. “I know that’s what… ‘Sif’ meant it to be.”
“You would be arrogant enough to think so…” Melody said, staying on her guard. Despite her assertion to the contrary, she still felt a little awkward, with him now so very close to her. “I give quite another description to that ‘love tap’, Captain.”
“Do you?” he said with a grin. “If we’d had more time, Mag…” he bent down to kiss her but she stopped him, putting a hand on his chest.
“But we didn’t,” she remarked.
“Circumstances didn’t allow it. We were too busy fighting for our lives, I believe. But what you said to me, just before we left the game…”
“What Sif said to Thor,” Melody corrected him. “Remember, we were still playing roles.”
“Were we?” Ochre asked, lifting a brow.
“Beside, there’s nothing to say that she really meant it,” Melody reiterated.
“You think so?”
“She – they were about to die. You can say anything at all when you’re about to die.”
“I tend to think that truth often comes out when you’re about to die,” Ochre said, thoughtfully.
Melody shrugged, without caring to answer. She turned back and stepped into her quarters. Ochre stood in the doorway, leaning on the frame, looking thoughtfully at her. The smile on his lips enlarged slowly, and he stepped nonchalantly into the room, the door sliding closed as he cleared the doorway.
“You know – I checked them out on Worldnet.”
Melody turned on her heel to face him again, with an inquiring look; her first move was to ask him why he was entering her quarters uninvited, but she was rather curious to know what he was on about.
“Thor and Sif… I mean – those from Norse mythology?” Ochre stopped in front of Melody, grinning. “They were quite in love with each other.”
“Really now?” Melody retorted. “That didn’t save them from Ragnarok, though…”
“In a way, it did.”
“But if Ragnarok means the End of the World…”
“Did you know there’s a later version of the Ragnarok story?” Ochre explained. “An addition to the tale actually – there were a few gods who actually survived – or were even resurrected – once the battle between good and evil was done, and the Earth was purged by fire of nearly everything… That would be the dawn of a perfect era, where everyone would live happily ever after. Balder would resurrect of course – no surprise there, actually. I mean – those indestructible guys have all the luck. And his brother Hodur too…”
“And Thor and Sif?”
“No, those two died during Ragnarok.”
“But you said…”
“I said that in a way, they survived Ragnarok.” Ochre looked thoughtfully at Melody. “Through their sons.”
“Sons?” Melody repeated.
“Apparently, those Thor and Sif had less trouble than us in…” Ochre rose a brow, “… shall we say, getting together?”
Melody lowered her eyes. “Captain…”
“Rick. I keep telling you to call me Rick. Or Richard, if you prefer.” He took her by the arms, gently, and that compelled her to look up to him again. He was smiling at her.
She sighed deeply. “I never know when you are serious with me,” she finally blurted. “I can never know if you are leading me on or not…”
“But I am serious, Mag. Well, right now I am.” Ochre sighed in turn, seeing the confusion – and the doubt in her eyes. “Look… if I hurt you – in any way – during the adventure in the Land of the Vikings, I assure you, I didn’t mean to do it. But for all the rest – I regret nothing. Except, perhaps… for that missed opportunity for us to be together.”
“By ‘missed opportunity’ – you mean… ‘sleeping together’, right?” Melody asked, raising a brow. She shook her head. “First of all, I’m not sure it would have really mean something. It was all make-believe, Captain. Only a trick of the mind. It would not have really happened.”
“Yeah… But at least it could have been the start of something, don’t you think? I mean for you and me?”
She raised a brow, her face a mask of imperturbability “Secondly…”
“Yeah, I know.” Sighing again, he let go of her arms. Obviously he wasn’t going to get through to her today. “Sleeping together is hardly a way to start a relationship. There’s a lot more to it than that, and all that jazz… Well, you’re right, Mag, and I’m a jerk for even thinking it could have worked. I’m a jerk and an opportunist – what, thinking I could have taken advantage of the situation to end up in bed with you... You are right in thinking I’m a despicable character. I’m sorry if I’ve bothered you with that.” He turned around toward the door. “It was just a silly notion I had that we could start something together – for real this time. My mistake, I think.”
Ochre was starting to walk away, but he felt Melody’s hand suddenly seize his forearm and pull him to her. He turned around in surprise, and bumped into her, as she took a step forward. She was looking up at him, straight in the eyes, with a very serious expression upon her face.
“Secondly,” she continued, “I never thought you were an opportunist – nor a despicable character. Okay, infuriating at times, but never despicable. And lastly…” She lowered her eyes briefly, in a falsely coy fashion, before raising them, and looking up at him again, this time mischievously. “… Don’t you think it would mean far more if we were to do it for real – instead than in some silly computer game?”
He frowned, unsure if he had heard her well. “Do it for real?” he repeated. She nodded, silently. “You mean… you and I… together… We’d be…”
“Boy, are you slow to catch on…” Melody said, with a mockingly dejected sigh.
His frown deepened. “Now it’s me who can’t decide if you’re serious or not…”
“Well, now you know how I feel half the time with you. Let me show you how serious I am…” That said, Melody put her arms around his shoulders and, hanging from his neck, she tiptoed as high as she could to press her lips against his. The first moment of surprise past, he took her into his arms, bending down a bit so she could reach him easier.
The kiss they exchanged was deep, and lingered on. When their lips finally parted, they looked at each other, smiling with the same kind of contented – if somewhat sheepish – expression on their faces.
“Boy – Mag, when you come on… you certainly come on!”
“So – do you still think I am not serious now?” Melody asked.
Ochre started laughing and gathered her up into her arms, swiftly and effortlessly. She didn’t do anything to stop him. “Oh, I knew all along you were serious,” he replied nonchalantly, as he walked toward the bedroom with his precious load. “You know you can’t kid a kidder, honey…”
To that she simply rolled her eyes.
* * *
“I should have known you would be here. Doctor Fawn will have your hide for this.”
Seated at the circular command desk in the Control Room, with his feet up, Captain Blue lifted his head from the document he was reading and gave a sideways glance in the direction of Symphony Angel who had just entered the room and was now walking purposefully toward him. The stern expression on her face was every bit a match for the tone he had heard in her voice. “What?” he asked, lifting an inquiring brow. “Someone has to man this station…”
“Someone, but not you. You are supposed to be on light duty,” Symphony reminded him. “And if I remember correctly, that would be starting after tomorrow. Today, you are off duty, and should be resting completely. Doctor’s orders.”
“Quite frankly, this is as light as you can get. I’m not doing that much…” He put the papers down and waved at his risen feet as proof. “See? I am resting.”
“Right. And I’m Little Red Riding Hood...”
“The colour would suit you,” Blue said, grinning and putting his feet down. “How did you find me?”
Symphony scoffed. “You think that was that difficult? I found Captain Magenta in sickbay – he came to visit Lieutenant Green and ask questions about the computer security and communication systems. As I understand it, Magenta has been working to get communications back online and to give the databanks a thorough cleaning, to get rid of the last of the programming Bromwell installed in them for the Twilight of the Gods game. By the way, why is he doing all that? Shouldn’t he be resting, like the rest of us?”
“Correction: Pat was simply monitoring the work,” Blue retorted. “He promised he wouldn’t lift a finger.”
“You are quite naïve if you believed that!”
“…And the teams under his supervision did a wonderful job too,” Blue continued, feigning not to hear her interruption. “Almost everything is already back online and in perfectly good working order – we just need to run a few security checks to make sure that…”
“You’re as bad as each other!” Symphony broke off again, standing next to him, and pointing an accusing finger at him. “You can’t rest and Pat can’t rest either! What are we going to do with the both of you?!”
“What can I say – working on the computers seems to be helping Pat to relax. How could I refuse him?”
“And riding this desk helps you relax?” There was a doubtful tone to Symphony’s voice. “I ought to denounce you to Fawn – for your own sake!”
Blue rolled his eyes. “Shouldn’t you be resting yourself, instead of spying on us?” he admonished her. “Like ‘not stay on your feet for too long, considering you have a slight concussion’? Take a seat, that’s an order.”
“I thought you would never ask.” She literally fell onto his lap, and encircled him with her arms, looking into his face with a large grin. He frowned at her.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Obeying your order.” She shrugged. “This is a comfortable place to rest.”
“This is the commander’s chair.”
“No… this is your lap. Your butt is on the commander’s chair.”
“Karen – don’t you have any sense of decorum? And can’t you be serious one minute? I have work to do…”
“No, you don’t. Now you will call Captain Maroon – who arrived fresh from London Headquarters early this morning, with a full team of agents to take over from us while we’re recuperating – and you will pass over the chair of command to him. That’s where he should be, not you.”
Blue sighed with annoyance and Symphony could have sworn he was now pouting; that didn’t deter her in the least, even if it amused her greatly. She continued to stare at him with as stern an expression as she could muster. “Well? What will it be? Will you go quietly or do I have to make a call to Doctor Fawn – who is in charge of things at the moment?”
Blue grimaced. “Maroon and his team…” he muttered. “They’re only a skeleton crew…”
“Perhaps, but there’s enough of them to man the essential stations,” Symphony pointed out. “And to help with the proper repairs. And it’s only for a couple of days, Big Blue.”
“And if there is an emergency?”
“Maroon has experience in command – he’ll know what to do.” Symphony paused a second, then permitted herself a faint smile. “Beside, if there is an emergency, I expect to see Colonel White ejecting him out of his chair faster than he could say ‘S.I.G.’ So he’d better be good at his job…”
“He’d better be, yeah,” Blue mumbled.
“Will you stop worrying?” Symphony admonished him, punching him playfully on the chest.
“Ouch! Careful! That’s typical of you, hitting me when I’m unable to defend myself!”
“You were always quite defenceless against me, Big Blue,” she chuckled mockingly.
“Well, as long as you promise never again to threaten me with a knife, I can accept almost anything from you… almost.”
She grimaced. “Are you ever going to forget that”? she said, blushing. “Or that whole Valkyrie episode, for that matter?”
“Never. You were really too sexy, as a Viking princess. Too bad we weren’t able to take pictures…”
“Oh please… Tell me you’re joking…”
Blue laughed. Pushing her off him slightly, he unzipped his breast pocket and fished a small object out of it. Symphony watched his gesture with curiosity, but whatever he took from his pocket, he was now carefully hiding in his closed fist, so she could not see what it was. He gently reached for her hand.
“What are you up to?” she asked with a raised brow.
“Don’t ask questions, just be the Angel you normally are and give me your hand.”
She complied and then he opened up his own hand. Between his fingers, he was holding a small, white-gold ring, with a single, finely cut blue stone shining brightly on top. Symphony opened eyes wide with astonishment as, almost reverently, Blue slid the ring onto her ring finger.
“This comes from my great-grandmother,” Blue explained. “The ring, that is. The original stone was lost years ago, but my mother always kept it anyway. She… sent it to me recently – not long after we returned from Las Vegas. I wonder if my Dad had mentioned you to her and she might have thought I would eventually need this. Naturally, she would not tell – which is quite like her. I always suspected she might have E.S.P. powers…”
“Adam, this is… wonderful,” Symphony whispered, admiring the ring. “Your great-grandmother’s ring… You said… the original stone was lost?”
“Yeah. So I had it replaced by this one,” Blue answered, pointing to the stone. “A blue diamond – the job was done by a jeweller in Los Angeles, while I was there. He did a wonderful job, fitting it nicely onto the ring.”
Blue kept to himself the fact that he had gone to a Hell of a lot of trouble to actually have the whole job finished in time, before his return to Cloudbase. The work schedule in Los Angeles had only permitted him to send the ring to the jeweller by private courier, and he had contacted him by videophone for the specifications. Only on the very last day, when he had finally been able to free himself from his work, was Blue able to go to the jeweller, and finally take delivery of his precious gift – and to supervise the details of the latest modifications.
“He also resized the ring, so it would fit your finger.”
“How?” Symphony asked, raising a curious brow. “Since I wasn’t there to lend my hand…”
“There was a salesgirl in the jewellery shop whose hands were just the same size as yours,” Blue said, with a wink. “I took the measurements myself with her fingers…” He delicately kissed the top of her hand. “This is your engagement ring, darling. A proper engagement ring this time.”
“Oh, Adam… You know it could have been a cigar ring, for all I care – but I am truly touched… This is such a wonderful gift.” She leaned to kiss him on the cheek. “… Coming from a wonderful man.”
“Do I get only that as a thank you?” he asked with a grimace.
“That was for your mom. This…” Symphony leaned closer to his lips. “This… is for you.”
With that, she gave him a very passionate kiss.
* * *
Rhapsody Angel quietly entered the sickbay room through the sliding door to discover Captain Scarlet lying in bed with his eyes closed. He was half propped up on his pillows and looked like he was deeply asleep, so she tiptoed over to him, as the door slid closed behind her. As she leaned over Scarlet, brushing his forehead with her lips, he sighed deeply and stirred. She leaned back and watched as he opened his eyes.
“Hi, Angel,” he slurred as he beamed up at her. “Am I glad to see you…”
“And am I glad to see you,” she answered with a smile of her own. She bent to him and lightly kissed his lips. “I missed you… I mean the real you. How are you?”
“Better than I was – before you walked in.”
“That’s so sweet of you to say…” She smiled, stroking his cheek. “You will shave this stubble of yours, won’t you?”
“Oh, that…” he rubbed his rough chin, offering her a sheepish grin. “Reminds you too much of that Balder fellow, does it? I promise, as soon as I can, it’s gone. I’m afraid I haven’t had time lately – being immersed in drugged water and all for three days. You know… normal stuff like that?”
“I heard about that,” Rhapsody said, her tone sad, while looking straight into his face. “It must have been terrible… Are you all right?”
“Waking up in it was kind of panic-making,” he admitted with a shake of his head. “But… I’ll survive. As I always do.”
“You look tired.”
“I am. Doctor Fawn ordered me to take a full week of rest – completely off duty. Quite frankly, I can’t say I’m unhappy with that – for once.”
“My poor love… Come here. I have exactly what you need to recover fully.”
Rhapsody leaned again to kiss him, this time more fervently and he answered in kind, stroking her hair as he did so, then the nape of her neck, her cheek… When they finally broke the kiss, she leaned her forehead against his, her eyes closed, and sighed.
“And what about you?” Scarlet asked. “How are you?”
“Oh, quite fine – I’m off duty for the rest of the day and then light duty… for a few more days, I believe. I didn’t suffer as much as you obviously did.” Rhapsody drew away slightly from him and sat down on a nearby chair, holding his hand in hers.
“Are you sure?” Scarlet insisted.
“Yes, perfectly. I’m fine, I assure you.”
Scarlet didn’t seem convinced. “I’m so sorry for what happened, Dianne…” he whispered tenderly. “What I did – and what I said to you. Really, you don’t know how much…”
“It’s all right,” she answered. “You were not yourself – nobody was, during that game. So I can hardly blame you, can I?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you did blame me… Because I do blame myself. Even if I wasn’t myself, as you say – I can’t help feeling responsible for whatever harm I did to you – when I was that… ‘barbarian’. When I think of what I did, especially to you – and to Adam – under the influence of that game… The worst part of it is that I remember everything. Not like that time when the Mysterons took control of me…” He stroked her cheek. “I so wish I could erase all the pain I caused you. I feel so – ashamed…”
“Hey,” she said gently, “you have no reason to, I can assure you.”
“I practically raped you.”
Rhapsody scoffed. “You did not! As Balder, you were still a pretty decent guy – for a rough-edged barbarian, that is. Beside,” she added with a smirk, “nothing happened between us that I didn’t consent to.”
“I wasn’t too… rough, with you?”
“There was still a huge part of you present in Balder – that I believe would not have permitted him to hurt me. I realised that the minute I was in his arms – your arms.”
“But I did hit you,” Scarlet recalled sombrely.
She shrugged. “It didn’t hurt that much, and I knew it could happen. I was trying to push ‘Balder’ off the edge, to get to you. It actually worked, but… the circumstances didn’t allow you to… come back to your senses.”
“I remember, yes,” Scarlet murmured, lowering his eyes. “Dianne, all those things you said to me – about me hurting you, the way I was acting…”
“Yes, well – ‘hurting’ is rather a big word. ‘Disconcerting’ would better describe how I felt confronted with that… new aspect of your personality.”
“I was acting like a jerk, wasn’t I?”
Rhapsody rolled her eyes. “Oh yes, you were…” She saw him blush at the remark, and she smiled, almost despite herself. Serves him right… She raised a brow. “It was also… interesting to see how easily you settled in the role of an obnoxious, cocksure womaniser,” she continued. “You were very convincing.”
“Was I?” he said, raising a brow in turn. “I can imagine it… surprised you. And you were probably thinking – that I might be a little like that myself?”
“I did – well, yes and no. You are after all a devilishly handsome man – and it’s a safe bet you would have had your fair share of success with girls already.” Rhapsody’s smile widened slightly. “I just have to think about Destiny, to be reminded of that…”
Scarlet was rather dumbfounded – and impressed! – that she would take the matter so lightly. He had fully anticipated from her a full scene of righteous wrath – or at the very least, barely-contained antagonism. Even considering that he wasn’t really himself during that whole episode, he had trouble believing she would not feel annoyed at him on that particular subject. Her temper, after all, was more than a match for his.
He nodded very slowly, almost thoughtfully. “I’d better have a word with my mother soon,” he mused. “Before she starts telling you stories about when I was younger… and had a girlfriend or two.”
He raised a curious eye in her direction. If he expected her to have any reaction – flinch, jump, frown, shoot him with a murderous glare – it didn’t happen. She was smirking knowingly at him.
“You are teasing me,” she commented pleasantly.
“Barely,” he said, chuckling. “Do you really think my mother would actually know about that?”
“I don’t know…” Rhapsody replied, her brow rising skyward. “I will definitely have to talk to her to find that out.”
“Now you’re teasing me,” he grinned, noting her still amiable tone.
She only answered with a large grin, before lowering her eyes. For a few seconds, she was silent, then her brow furrowed in a thoughtful way. “I do have a question to ask you, though,” she said, a little hesitantly.
“What about?” Scarlet asked, wondering what could be on her mind.
“It’s about Anna Preston.” Rhapsody raised her eyes to look back at him. “Did she and you ever…? Not during that stupid game… I mean… for real?”
Scarlet kept silent for long seconds, as Rhapsody stared at him expectantly, waiting for his answer. She wondered what could be taking him so long to give it.
“No,” he finally said. “Although – it nearly did happen.”
She frowned. “Really? When was that?”
“You’ve got no reason to get jealous, love,” he said quietly, noting her rather barbed tone, and giving a faint smile as a peace offering. “It was long before you and I… got together. Actually, it was not long after I woke up that first time – after I broke free from the Mysterons’ control? Anna was the nurse looking after me in sickbay. She assisted Doctor Fawn with most of his tests, she brought me food, chatted with me, even played cards and chess with me… And she showed she was very interested in me.”
“I see,” Rhapsody said, nodding her understanding. “And you weren’t?”
“Not really,” Scarlet replied truthfully. “She was a very attractive woman – and I was rather flattered by her attention. But… I couldn’t bring myself to let anything happen between us.” He rubbed his chin, thoughtfully. “I had… issues, with my humanity, back then, you know? All this… Mysteronisation, retrometabolism and indestructibility business was so very new to me… I wasn’t able to respond in kind to Anna’s interest in me. She was kind enough to understand…”
“I believe she might still have carried a torch for you, then,” Rhapsody said.
“If she did – she didn’t let anything on to me. I… plunged into my work, and didn’t let myself be distracted by the possibility of entertaining any kind of relationship with a woman back then – if you remember …”
“I remember,” she answered, thinking back to how much time they had both wasted before acknowledging their attraction to each other.
“Since my Mysteronisation – and before you – there had really been only one woman in my life,” Scarlet continued sourly. “And we both know how badly that ended.”
She nodded again. “I remember that too,” she acknowledged, lowering her eyes.
“Hey…” Scarlet took her hand in his, and drew her to him; he gently took her chin and looked deep into her eyes. “Have I already told you how sorry I am to have hurt you?”
“Numerous times, since you woke up,” she answered.
“Then I’m repeating it once again,” Scarlet whispered. “And I want to assure you – that in my heart, there is only one place for one woman.”
“Your mother?” she asked in the same tone, grinning. “I still will be asking her questions, you know… eventually.”
He tutted, giving her an exasperated look. “You are still teasing me,” he said.
“You will find out in time…”
“Then I believe I will have to do more to convince you of my undying love.”
Scarlet raised his lips to hers, and she leaned toward him…
… Just at this moment, the door slid open, and almost automatically, they drew away from each other.
“Behave, you two,” Symphony Angel said cheerfully, upon entering with Captain Blue in tow. “You’re pretty lucky that it’s only us coming in right now… What if it had been someone else…”
“There’s no risk any more,” Blue added in the same tone, as the door closed behind him. “Now that we know that Doctor Fawn has known about them all along …”
“Please,” Rhapsody said, scoffing loudly, sitting back straight onto her chair. “It was quite a shock when he mentioned it to me the first time! But when we finally asked him what he meant…”
“He looked at us, rolling big, exasperated eyes,” Scarlet continued, making a face in imitation of the Cloudbase chief medical officer’s reaction. “As if we were children unable to hide a secret from their doting father. ‘How can you believe I would not notice something like that happening in my sickbay’, he said.” The others chuckled at his imitation of Fawn’s voice – he had nailed it almost to perfection. “Quite infuriating, I reckon,” Scarlet added with a grin.
The pleasant banter seemed to put everyone at ease; truthfully, both couples had been feeling a little uncomfortable, almost dreading this moment when they’d be meeting face to face. Especially Scarlet and Blue. For a short time, after Scarlet’s last words, they just looked at each other in silence, grinning awkwardly – almost idiotically.
“Adam,” Scarlet then started, “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry I…”
Blue raised his hand to stop his friend, before he could start apologising profusely. “There’s really nothing to say on the subject, Paul. Really, it wasn’t your fault.”
“That’s not much of a comfort. I could have killed you. Not that it would have been the first time I tried,” Scarlet added in an undertone.
“Well, in neither case were you to blame. I was rather in the same situation this time, remember? When I… er… ‘got lost’ in that character of Hodur. I could have cut you in two.”
“Where did you learn to handle a sword like that?!” Scarlet asked with a frown and an appreciative smile.
Blue grinned and shrugged. “Beats me – I imagine it wasn’t me at all – but that it was present in the programming of Hodur’s character. Who knows? Anyway, it would have been really handy to remember every trick when it came to fighting Burgundy soon after that. I remembered just enough not to get killed.”
“You remembered just enough to actually win,” Rhapsody retorted.
“My Viking hero,” Symphony teased, twining an arm around Blue’s shoulders and hugging him close to her. He smiled in answer.
“Adam,” Scarlet continued, “No matter that it was all a game – and that we were not responsible for our actions – I still want to say how sorry I am for what happened. For doubting you – and Dianne. I don’t know how I could even believed all those shameful lies…”
“It was all in the programming, Paul… In fact, based on a rather obscure version of the legend of Balder and Hodur – a version in which both brothers were indeed in love with Nanna…”
“Would you stop interrupting me – I’m trying to tell you how sorry I am for that… and for nearly having killed you. Will you accept my apologies?”
“Only if you accept mine…”
Scarlet raised a brow. “What have you got to apologise for?” He extended his hand towards Blue – who quickly clasped it. “I owe you another one… brother. We all do this time.”
Blue squeezed the hand vigorously. “I only did what had to be done,” he answered truthfully. “And only what you’ve done yourself so many times. And that, I believe, is a debt we will never be able to fully repay… my brother.”
Scarlet grinned at Blue’s choice of wording. He wasn’t that used to displaying his emotions, the way Blue was doing at the moment, and although he appreciated Blue expressing his friendship so outwardly, it made him feel a little awkward. Noticing that, Blue smiled in answer, and released his hand.
“The important thing is – we all made it back alive,” the blond captain continued. “Even though we had some casualties… and Captain Black did manage to escape…”
“None of that could be helped,” Scarlet replied with a sigh. “We’ll mourn our losses – and honour them. As for Captain Black…”
“There will be another time,” Rhapsody said.
“Another time,” Scarlet agreed with a nod.
“So all in all, it’s been a success,” Symphony added.
“Which calls for a celebration,” Blue finished. He produced his left hand, that up until that moment, he had kept behind his back, out of view from Scarlet. It was holding a bottle of champagne.
“Where did you get that?” Scarlet asked with surprise – and a very approving tone.
“I’ve had it for some time,” Blue answered. “Keeping it for a special occasion. I think this is special enough, don’t you? We beat the Mysterons to their own game yet again… while the odds were really against us.”
“You clever dog… I must be really tired not to notice you bringing this into the room!”
“We need glasses…” Rhapsody pointed out.
“Got that covered.” With a mischievous smile, Symphony showed in turn, from behind her back, four little paper cups that she had grabbed earlier from the water fountain, in the waiting room. Scarlet chuckled at the sight of them.
“You two are really made for each other,” he remarked, while Blue was working on the cork of the bottle.
“You still doubted that?” Symphony asked. She proudly showed off her hand. “Here. See what my lover boy gave me…”
Scarlet gently took the hand and, with Rhapsody, examined the ring adorning the ring-finger. They both exchanged knowing glances and smiles.
“So that makes it official, then?” Scarlet asked with a wink.
Symphony scoffed. “It’s been official for months! Didn’t you know that already?!”
“Of course we do,” Rhapsody grinned. “We’re just saying that it’s yet another reason to drink that champagne.”
The cork popped out, without any mess, and dutifully, Blue started filling up the paper cups that Symphony was holding for him.
“What should we drink to first, then?” Rhapsody asked, when she received her cup.
They looked at each other, as Blue was putting the bottle down onto the floor.
“To the Mysterons’ defeat?” Symphony suggested.
“To Spectrum?” Blue offered in turn.
But Scarlet, with a smile on his lips, shook his head.
“To brotherhood,” he said, presenting his cup.
The others nodded in assent, touching the fragile paper cups together, taking great care not to destroy them or to spill their contents.
“Brotherhood,” they repeated together.
That was worth drinking to.
* * *
“We don’t know what exactly triggered the ‘ending of the game’ last night,” Doctor Fawn, standing next to the bed, quietly reported to his patient. “But about fifteen minutes after Black woke up, and ten minutes after Scarlet, everyone onboard Cloudbase started to regain consciousness. Within about three hours, everyone was awake. Everyone’s suffered some degree of dehydration, hunger, and cramped muscles – and there were a few cases of advanced weakness – most of them amongst the members of the senior staff. Nothing that can’t be cured by a good meal, plenty of fluids and a good rest – as you well know yourself.”
Propped up in the bed of the private room that had been assigned to him, Colonel White slowly nodded his understanding, as he listened intently to Fawn’s account of recent events. Next to his bed, on a little bedside table, were the remains of a small, healthy meal – and a big pitcher of water, about half empty. He was still holding in his hand the glass he had been drinking from.
“We were lucky not to have more casualties than we did during that game,” the Spectrum commander brooded.
“We would have if those ‘Svartalfheim warriors’ had actually been ‘possessed’ members of the crew,” Fawn remarked. “instead of a simple illusion created by the game. The senior staff were most efficient in fending them off… We would have had several victims, I’m afraid.” He scratched his ear. “Captain Magenta explained to me that in computer games, characters like ‘goons’ and ‘foot soldiers’, created as a ‘first level of attackers’ for the player to confront, are often fairly easy to defeat. Which would explain why the senior staff were able to repel such a huge number of warriors, in the final battle.”
“Nevertheless,” White mused, “they were nearly killed by those… first level attackers, as you said.”
“I never said it was all that easy for them,” Fawn replied. “No doubt they would eventually have fallen under sheer weight of numbers – as the Mysterons intended, obviously.” He watched with curiosity, as White lifted his hand to his face, to stroke the left side of it, almost with apprehension, and then jiggle his fingers in front of his left eye, looking intently at them. “It wasn’t easy for you either, I know,” the doctor added with a faint smile.
“It’s so strange,” White remarked, again stroking his cheek, which was covered by an irritating three-days’ growth of hair. “To think that this game actually succeeded in… changing our appearance the way it did. I fully expected to wake up disfigured and blind in one eye.”
“I know. And don’t worry: you’re not the only one to react that way. Captain Grey has been playing with a stress ball with his right hand almost from the moment he woke up – as if to reassure himself he didn’t really lose it, and that he still had it.”
“I can understand the feeling,” White grunted. He took a sip from his glass. “Our appearance was not the only thing that game changed,” he continued, putting the glass down. “I’m afraid there’s been a lot of… misbehaviour, due to lack of restraint, during that game… There will be much embarrassment, nervousness… and uneasiness amongst the crew.”
Fawn shrugged. “None of you were responsible, Charles. You couldn’t help yourselves. You all were conditioned by the game’s… programming, I believe is the right word for it.”
“Oh, I know that – and I’m not about to hold anyone accountable for anything that might have happened during that little stay in the fantasy world. But I’m afraid that I won’t be able to stop people from feeling uncomfortable, or even humiliated by what they did – or what was done to them.” In his mind’s eye, White couldn’t help but conjure the image of the Angels-turned-Valkyries, being dragged in chains in front of him, in the middle of an assembly of very appreciative ‘Viking warriors’. He shook himself. “I’ll be trying to forgive myself,” he mused. “And I do hope that everyone onboard will have enough willpower to do just the same for themselves – and for others. But if they can’t – I will have a hard time blaming them for being emotional. And I will understand if they want a posting elsewhere.”
“Let’s hope all hurt feelings will be put aside, then,” Fawn said. “Although I quite agree with you, we’ll see a lot of red faces around, in the next few days…”
“If we only have that, I believe we’ll be lucky – as long as we can avoid any quarrels… and fights.”
White drank a long gulp of his water, before looking down into the now empty glass, broodingly. “How are the senior staff?” he asked without looking up, lost in his thoughts.
“Fairly well, all things considered,” Fawn sighed. “They’ve been up and about rather quickly – with the ‘symptoms’ I already mentioned to you. They wanted to help, but as soon as I had enough lower-ranked personnel, particularly from sickbay, who had been less stricken than the senior officers – I sent them to rest. Despite their protests, I might add. They’re either off duty or on light duties for a few days, until I decide they are back to full fitness.”
“You are the doctor,” White mused.
“Yes, I am… And I do wish that sometimes, people – you included – would remember that fact.”
White didn’t rise to the critical comment. “I see you have taken the matters well in hand, as well,” he simply noted.
“Well, I am the senior officer in charge at the moment, right? So I had to make quick decisions… Although Blue seemed to have entertained the notion that he should be manning the commander’s station…”
“Did he?” White said with a brief smile.
“I humoured him – to a certain extent. If he thinks I’ll let him do all that work as he sees fit, without intervening, he’s sadly mistaken…” Fawn smiled in turn, seeing the concerned look on White’s face. “Don’t worry about the base: until the senior staff and proper officers can resume their usual duties, I assigned lower-ranked officers to their places – and organised rotas so nobody will tire themselves too much. I called ground for backup, and Captain Maroon arrived this morning, with a group of agents and technicians, from various disciplines – they are currently taking over the essential posts.”
“Maroon? He’s a good officer. He’ll do well. What about the Angels?”
“All taken care of, like the rest. We have enough experienced fighter pilots to fill in while the Angels recover fully – which, I expect, won’t be too long. Except for Symphony Angel – whose concussion will take a little more time to heal - they’ll be back on duty soon. And Harmony is still fit for duty. I just hoped she will not overexert herself, though.”
“I’m sure you will see to that,” White smiled.
“No use of the Room of Sleep, of course, for anyone,” Fawn grunted. “It’s out of order, anyway, since it was used for that stupid game. It’s being repaired right now, by the technician Captain Maroon brought with him, and purged of the game programming and added technology that Bromwell put into it.” The doctor huffed loudly. “If you ask my opinion, you should have that monstrosity dismantled and sent back to ground in little pieces...”
“I know you’ve never been very happy about the Room of Sleep, Doctor…”
“With good reason: look where it got us!”
“It was simply a mishandling of an otherwise effective piece of technology,” White pointed out. “I’m sorry, but we do need the Room of Sleep, if only for emergency use, as we’ve been using it up until now, if this base is to keep working efficiently round the clock. And we need it to be repaired, as quickly as possible.”
Fawn blew a deep sigh. “Yes, I just knew you would say that. And I guess you are right,” he mumbled, looking disheartened.
“Don’t be such a grouch, Doctor,” White said, fighting not to smile too openly. “Please, carry on with your report.”
“Those who suffered the most from the experience – Captain Scarlet, Lieutenant Green… and yourself – are receiving special treatment.” Fawn smiled when White looked up at him. “That means plenty of rest, lots of good meals, all the water and juice you can drink – and no duty at all for at least the next week.”
“I feel fine…”
“Of course you do. You didn’t nearly have a heart attack,” Fawn scoffed. “You said it yourself: I’m the doctor. And you will have to trust me on that judgement. You will stay put, Colonel, even if I have to restrain you to force you to it.”
“I believe you’re quite capable of doing it too,” White deadpanned. “Will Green be all right?”
“He’s a strong young man. If he hadn’t been, he would be dead right now. He was the weakest of the bunch when he woke up late last evening. If I understand what happened in the fantasy world, he suffered the most from the confrontation with the Svartalfheim warriors – but acted like a true hero by dealing Captain Black the blow that sent him back to reality. Which could have been what triggered your return, all of you. We will probably never know for sure… But nevertheless, he might have saved you all.”
“Does he know that?”
“He certainly does…”
“Then we haven’t heard the last of it,” White said with a faint smile.
“I think you are right!” Fawn chuckled. “It’ll make him popular with the ladies – especially in sickbay!”
“Good for the lad. He certainly deserves a break.” White paused for a moment, and then returned to seriousness. “And what about Scarlet? You said he’s confined to rest for the next week too.”
“His was the worst experience, Charles,” Fawn confirmed. “Trapped inside that tank of drugged water – for days… Oh, the wounds to his body are healing fine – if perhaps a little slower than they would normally do – but he’s very weak. He will need time to recover fully. I gave him his usual room. He’s resting fine, right now. Maybe sleeping better than he has for a long time.”
“He deserves his rest,” White said with a nod of approval. “Make him comfortable and make sure that he is not disturbed more than necessary for the next few days.”
“Already done that, Colonel. Although I might not be able to stop close friends from visiting him from time to time – especially his lady friend.” Fawn grinned knowingly, and saw just the ghost of a smile appear on White’s lips, before he became sombre and pensive again.
“It’s a shame we missed the opportunity to capture Captain Black,” White said. “An opportunity like the one we had doesn’t present itself every day. But… I suppose it was to be expected that the Mysterons would take action to ensure his safety.”
“Indeed,” Fawn nodded. “Harmony was quite shocked to witness the way he was… teleported, shall we say?… right there, in front of her eyes.”
“Rather like Scarlet’s report of what happened in Monte Carlo, during the Verdain affair,” White agreed.
“Right. About ten minutes after he had disappeared, while we were all busying ourselves with the crew waking up everywhere onboard, we received notification from the automated security system that a plane was leaving the hangar bay for an unauthorised launch from the main airstrip.” Fawn sighed. “It took off before we even thought of doing anything – not that we would have been able to, mind you. Three guesses as to who was on board?”
“Captain Black, of course…”
“Who else? Everybody else onboard was accounted for. We checked that out.”
“Mmm… Could that mean that the Mysterons’ power of teleportation works only over restricted distances?”
“I wouldn’t know, Colonel. But my guess would be to never underestimate them. We still don’t know the extent of their powers – and quite frankly, what we do know of them so far is disturbing enough as it is.”
White acknowledged the remark with a nod. “You did very well, Doctor. In more ways than one.” He became thoughtful again. “I’m thinking of putting you in for a commendation – you and Captain Blue, and Harmony and Rhapsody Angels. You did more than your duty. Without all your efforts – and your dedication – all of Cloudbase’s crew would have been lost. We’d all be dead.”
“We only did our job, Charles… Although I must admit, we were rather desperate to succeed. The outcome would have been disastrous, if not.”
“I’m sorry for the loss of Nurse Preston, Edward,” White offered genuinely.
Fawn sighed. “She was an excellent colleague,” he said with a sad tone to his voice. “She has been with us since day one, and – she’ll be truly missed. We should count ourselves lucky that she was the only victim of the game as such – not counting those who were struck down before, so the Mysterons could have agents on board to carry out their plan.”
Colonel White nodded again. “Lieutenant Burgundy, two security guards – Rochester and Petrie – and Technician Bromwell.” He glanced at Fawn, remembering the doctor’s earlier report concerning those men. “And not all of them Mysteron reconstructs.”
“No,” Fawn said harshly enough. “Rochester was not – he was as human as you or I. And so was Bromwell, in the weeks it took to set everything up. He had to be, or we would have detected him easily at one point or another, if he had been a Mysteron.”
“Logical deduction, yes,” White mused.
“And he did confirm it to me afterwards. It was later that he was killed, to be replaced by a replicant - I was just foolish enough not to think of that eventuality! He was Mysteronised, when the Mysterons deemed it necessary for them to do so. Just like Petrie and Burgundy. We found their bodies this morning – their deaths were about three days ago – meaning they were killed just before this devious plan was executed.”
“Rochester killed them?”
“Ballistics still need to be run – but Rochester probably killed Petrie, at the very least. They were bunking in the same room, and that’s where the real Petrie was found. Then they might have shared the work of killing the others. Bromwell probably never suspected a thing. As for Burgundy…”
“They needed someone in the Control Room,” White said in understanding. “It just happened that Burgundy was to take over duty at the moment they had chosen to execute their plan.”
“Unfortunately for Burgundy, yes. They could have taken anyone. Including Lieutenant Green – or even yourself.”
“So that’s how it happened,” White said grimly. “That’s how Cloudbase’s security was so easily foiled… They used human agents to get through to the very heart of our most secure base. I can’t say I am very pleased, Doctor. In fact, I’m upset they could have pulled off a stunt like this. Spectrum personnel – military and civilian alike – were supposed to have been carefully hand-picked, the very best people available – the most loyal and dedicated. Obviously, there were some glitches in the selection.” White looked up at Fawn. “How could human beings side with the Mysterons?” he asked with bitterness. “Spectrum personnel especially – they should know what their ultimate aim is. I don’t quite understand the logic in this.”
“Perhaps there isn’t any logic in it,” Fawn replied quietly. “Or rather – none that we in Spectrum could understand.”
“But those were Spectrum people…”
“Charles, I don’t think that those behind this are really Spectrum people. Or if they are, they’re not dedicated to the same cause as us.” Fawn paused, a little hesitant to continue, as White raised inquiring eyes to him, obviously wondering what he was trying to say. Fawn sighed. He thought of waiting to reveal what he had learned just recently; but now, there was little point in not telling it right away.
“I examined Rochester’s body,” he explained. “And Bromwell’s. Well, the original Bromwell’s body, to be precise. Not an in-depth examination, mind you, I haven’t had time for that as yet. Just a quick assessment for the moment… I… didn’t find anything odd on Rochester’s body. But for Bromwell… I discovered something…”
“What did you find?” White asked, getting impatient with Fawn’s continuing hesitation.
“You’re not going to like it…”
“Doctor, I’m already beyond that. So tell me now: what did you find?”
Fawn sighed, rubbing his chin in a thoughtful fashion. He approached the bed. “I found… scars, on Bromwell’s body,” he explained. “Needle marks, to be exact. Many of them, and very deep. Some of them on his forearms, but most of them…” He lifted his hand and rubbed the nape of his own neck, his eyes set on White, to register his reaction. “… were located here.”
White’s eyes grew wider in sudden understanding. “Oh no…” he murmured. “The Dream Spinner?”
“I’m afraid so, yes. And that means…”
“The Network.” White looked down, a frown deepening on his brow, as he spat the word. “I thought we’d rid ourselves of them.”
“Did you truly believe that?” Fawn asked bitterly. “I didn’t. I’m pretty sure that if we study whatever stuff had been added to the Room of Sleep’s machinery – and if we test the programming that was used for the game – we’d find similarities with the Dream Spinner apparatus…”
“Quite possible, yes…”
White rubbed his own neck, a shiver running down his spine. He still remembered what the Network had done to him, many months before, when they had strapped him onto the mind-control machine known as the Dream Spinner, in order to brainwash him into doing the Mysterons’ bidding. That he had escaped the treatment and regained his own free-will was nearly a miracle. But the experience wasn’t something he was likely to forget.
“How old are the marks?”
“A few weeks,” Fawn answered with a sigh. “Two months, perhaps? The marks were deep – which is why they left scars.”
“Those men were not responsible, then…”
“Bromwell was not, at least,” Fawn agreed in a gentler voice. “No more than you were yourself at the time the Network had you under their control… As for Rochester, I really can’t tell. His body had no marks on it, but it might only mean that those marks had completely disappeared – or were even removed. It does not mean he didn’t undergo the Dream Spinner treatment, like Bromwell obviously did.”
“Like I did,” White remarked bitterly. He still retained a faint mark from the ordeal, where the needle which had been introduced directly into his brain had entered. “But it could also mean he was acting completely of his own volition,” he remarked. “And that he was supervising Bromwell’s actions.”
Fawn nodded. “This is another possibility, yes. I might find out more when I examine the body more closely.”
“Please do that, Doctor.” White’s features hardened. “What it does also mean is that the Network has infiltrated Spectrum – as it claimed to have infiltrated other Security Organisations. We thought we were safe from that – but we are not. We’ll have to tighten our security, check and re-check all personnel.”
“That seems sensible enough.”
“Doctor, I want you to give special instructions to all medical personnel in Spectrum facilities around the world. I want all personnel to undergo their annual medical check – as soon as possible. Starting with everyone on Cloudbase. Civilians, military, from the lowest workers sweeping the floor to the highest ranked officers of the senior staff.”
“You want the medical staff to check if anyone has been subjected to the Dream Spinner treatment?” Fawn asked with a frown.
“The treatment leaves traces that are easily detectable. Scars on the back of the neck… foreign substances in the blood… A medical examination should be able to find that out.”
“S.I.G.,” Fawn muttered. “That operation will take time, if you want all personnel from all facilities to be checked.”
“No matter. It will take as long as it has to,” White replied. “Once we can be sure of the condition of the senior staff, we’ll hold a staff meeting – and inform them of the matter – discreetly. We don’t need the word to spread about this.”
“You will have to inform Intelligence,” Fawn pointed out. “It’s an Internal Affairs question. They will have to know.”
White nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll make contact with Thomas Wade – as soon as he passes his ‘annual’. I know it sounds paranoid, but we don’t have much choice. We have enough to do with the Mysterons right now, without having to deal with human infiltrators. Our security has been breached – and that could have terrible consequences. It means we’re vulnerable to inside attacks – that we can’t efficiently do our job to protect the world, as stipulated in our mandate. Something like what happened here should never happen again within Spectrum. Not anywhere in the organisation – and certainly not on Cloudbase. If there are still Network agents infiltrated in the organisation, we must root them out.”
“I agree,” Fawn said. “That should take care of conditioned agents… But what of the Network itself? What about those who are running that organisation – collaborating with the Mysterons for their own purposes – however unreasonable and despicable they might be?”
“Yes, the Network,” White murmured, his blue eyes narrowing, and flashing with a cold anger brewing deep inside of him. “We will have to deal with them soon, won’t we? We will have to find them, before they do any more damage than they have already done – and bring them down… once and for all!”