A ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ story
by Captain Indy
Author's Note: This story contains references to many Captain Scarlet episodes, especially Crater 101. Though you don't have to have seen that episode to understand this story, it will certainly help!
~ 1 ~
A Direct Assault
'Colonel, the World President is on the radio for you,' piped Captain Magenta. Lieutenant Green was off duty and Magenta was occupying his usual seat in the Cloudbase Control Room.
'Thank you, Captain. Put him through.'
'Umm ... how do I do that, Colonel?'
Colonel White heaved a sigh and rolled his eyes. He was losing patience with Captain Magenta's far-too-eager attitude, and couldn't wait for it to be Green's shift again. He hadn't realised how much he relied on the efficient young man.
'You press that white button on the left side of the console, or something,' he gestured vaguely. Captain Magenta scanned the desk in front of him. 'I found it, sir!' he said triumphantly. Colonel White rolled his eyes again and picked up the telephone on his rotating desk.
'Members of Spectrum, this is Colonel White speaking. Captains Scarlet, Blue, Ochre and Grey, report to the control room immediately. Lieutenant Green, you come as well.' The PA system died out.
Captain Grey lowered his newspaper and sighed. 'I just got off duty!' he grumbled.
'Does anyone know what's going on? There hasn't been a Mysteron threat.' Captain Blue voiced what they were all wondering. The only response he received was two shaking heads. The three captains stood and walked to the door.
'Where'd Scarlet get to?' asked Ochre as they hurried down the corridor towards Cloudbase Control
Blue shrugged. 'Possibly went to do more tests in Sickbay.'
'What happened on the last mission of yours, anyway?' asked Grey. 'Scarlet won't tell us. And Ochre has tried his best to weasel it out of him.'
Blue groaned. 'You don't want to know.' The mere thought of telling his colleagues he'd been drugged and kidnapped was embarrassing. He was saved from further pressing by the fact that they'd almost reached the control room. Lieutenant Green arrived at the door just before they did.
'What's going on?' he asked breathlessly - he'd run all the way from his quarters. 'Has there been a Mysteron threat?'
'No,' said a voice from inside the control room. 'Stop gossiping outside the door and come in. This is an operational base, not a rest centre!'
Captain Ochre grinned and rolled his eyes expressively at Blue, who frowned reprovingly and opened the door. The four men entered.
'What's going on, Colonel?' asked Blue.
'I'll tell you when Scarlet gets here. Where is that fellow?'
Blue sat down and was about to shrug, but then heard another breathless voice behind him.
'Here, Colonel,' Scarlet said. He slid into the empty chair between Grey and Blue.
'Where were you?' asked Ochre.
'Sickbay,' Scarlet said briefly. 'More tests.' The others nodded sympathetically.
White cleared his throat, and they turned their attention to him. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I have received orders from the World President. He had authorized us to begin the final stage of Operation Sword.'
'Which means?' asked Ochre.
'We will directly assault the main Martian complex.'
Blue's eyes widened in surprise. He glanced at his fellow officers and saw that they had a similar reaction. This would be the most daring move made yet.
'But how?' objected Scarlet. 'Their defences must be impenetrable - and they'll just retro-metabolise anything we destroy.'
'Exactly,' replied the colonel. 'But we can prevent that ahead of time. Don't tell me, Captain, that you have forgotten your mission in Crater 101?'
'No, sir, I haven't. But the defences at the main complex must be greater than the ones we met there.'
'That's likely, Captain. And that's why I'm sending a larger force. All five captains will be going.' Lieutenant Green's face fell. 'No non-Spectrum personnel will be going. We need to minimize the risk. This is a critical operation. I don't need to tell you that secrecy is imperative. You will be taking off for Mars in exactly forty-eight hours. That gives you time to prepare, and gives the ground staff time to prepare the Zero-X.'
'The Zero-X, Colonel?' asked a surprised Ochre. Blue was also surprised. He'd been expecting them to use the new spacecraft designed for this purpose.
'Yes. The damage to Hotspot Tower caused by the Mysterons means that the new spacecraft won't be ready for two years. We don't have that kind of time, so we'll have to use whatever we can.' He paused, looking at each of his officers in turn. 'Report here in twenty-four hours. We need to move fast.'
'SIG, Colonel,' replied Captain Scarlet. The other captains responded in kind.
'What was the mission in Crater 101 about, anyway?' asked Ochre curiously. 'It was always kept hush-hush.'
The five captains were spending what, for all they knew, could be their last hour on Cloudbase in the officers lounge. Scarlet, lounging on the largest sofa, frowned. 'The idea was that Blue, Green and I would go into the Mysteron complex inside the crater and remove the power source. Then the folks at Lunarville 6 would blow the place sky-high when we were clear, without the Mysterons being able to reconstruct it.'
'In theory, anyway,' said Blue with a grimace. 'The hitch was that the man who was planting the bomb was a Mysteron.'
'I see,' said Ochre. 'So you're hoping there'll be no Mysteron agents around this time.'
'That, or that we find them before they can do any damage,' replied Scarlet.
~ 2 ~
Third Time Unlucky
'Right, men,' finished Colonel White. 'I'm sure you all know your duty. Captain Scarlet will be field commander.' Blue glanced at Scarlet, who frowned slightly but said nothing. Blue understood - he too would hate to have the responsibility for such an important mission. 'We don't know if long-range radios will work inside the complex, so be ready with a backup plan in case you are separated.'
There was a chorus of 'SIG' and 'Yes, sir'. Colonel White smiled faintly, not something he did often while on duty. 'This is the most important mission we have undertaken yet. I don't need to tell you that you may not come back alive.' He met the eyes of each man in turn. 'I'm proud of what you have done for Spectrum - and what you are going to do. Success could mean the end of the war of nerves. Good luck.'
While Colonel White was making his motivational speech on Cloudbase, the Zero-X spacecraft was being prepared for its launch in twenty-four hours. Circuits were being tested and routine checks made. The ship had made two safe flights to Mars (it's really not fair to blame it for the failure of its second attempt) and there was no logical reason to believe that the third flight would be any different. But nothing connected to the Mysterons was particularly logical.
'What was that?' asked one technician, startled by the sound of a footstep.
'I didn't hear anything. You must be going crackers. Come on, keep working.'
If it was possible for Captain Black to show emotion, he would have sighed with relief. He was hiding around the corner from the engineers, and had narrowly escaped being spotted. His dark clothing gave him some cover, but his pale face was all too easy to spot. He slipped towards the main capsule of the Zero-X, now holding his arm over his face.
He reached the service hatch and climbed silently inside, closing it behind him.
'Well, Scarlet, who's going to fly the spaceship?' asked Magenta. The captains were in a SPJ, flying to the Zero-X launch site.
'Blue and Ochre can fly us there,' replied Scarlet. 'Then Grey' - he glanced at the captain - 'can stay in the ship while we disable the power source.'
'Oh no,' groaned Ochre. 'Remember what happened last time Blue and I tried to fly a plane together?'
Scarlet chuckled. 'Don't remind me, I might change my mind.'
'How similar do you think this complex will be to the one we found on the moon?' asked Blue, anxious to change the subject. That incident was not one he was proud of.
Scarlet shrugged. 'I can only guess. Hopefully there isn't too much difference, so we can actually figure out what's going on.'
The radio fizzed into life. 'This is Launch Station Control. Identify yourself.'
Blue, who was the pilot of the SPJ, started transmission. 'Launch Station Control, this is SPJ 249. Request permission to land. Carrying the crew of the Zero-X.'
'SPJ 249, this is Launch Station Control. You are cleared to land. Use runway 3.'
'Everyone ready for lift-off?' asked Captain Ochre, glancing around the cockpit of the Zero-X. Captain Blue was sitting next to him at the controls, and the other three sitting behind facing various instrument panels. Jobs usually done by the onboard computer were being taken over by the Spectrum crew - they were taking no chances.
'SIG,' replied Captain Grey.
'Spectrum is Green,' answered Captain Scarlet.
'Yup,' said Magenta casually. Everyone turned and stared at him. 'What?'
Blue rolled his eyes. 'Control, we are ready to start countdown. All systems are SIG.'
Separated from the cockpit by the all too thin service hatch door, Captain Black smiled humourlessly. 'Foolish Earthmen,' he muttered.
He considered. He could surprise them now, before they had a chance to discover him, and run the risk of being overpowered. Or, he could wait and risk being discovered, but be able to strike harder. His Mysteron masters had often underestimated Spectrum, but it was not a mistake he intended to make. No, he'd wait until he was on home turf, and be certain of destroying all of Spectrum's high ranking officers. Even the indestructible Captain Scarlet, he thought.
The Mysterons would have home court advantage, and Spectrum didn't even have the advantage of surprise.
~ 3 ~
See You Later - I Hope!
It had been several days since the takeoff of the Zero-X. Technology breakthroughs over the past few years meant it took less than a sixth of the time to get to Mars than it had taken on the first attempt five years earlier, so they had almost reached the infamous red planet.
'We'll be going into orbit in an hour, Captain Scarlet,' reported Captain Ochre.
Captain Scarlet, who was facing his controls and away from the others, did not respond.
'Captain?' Ochre tried again. 'Are you all right?'
'Fine,' came Scarlet's rather strained voice from the other side of the cockpit. 'I just haven't felt myself for the past few days, that's all. Most likely because we are approaching the Mysteron complex.'
Captain Black, still hidden inside the cramped service hatch, let out the breath he had been holding. For a moment he had though Scarlet's sixth sense had picked up on his presence. But Scarlet had no reason to believe Black was aboard the Zero-X - he, as Black had been hoping he would, put down his sickness to the fact they were nearing the complex.
In the darkness, Captain Black frowned coldly. Soon it would be time to strike.
'Going into orbit - now,' reported Captain Blue. He checked his instrumentation. 'Successful orbit. We should be ready to depart for the surface in the MEV in ten minutes.'
'SIG,' said Captain Grey. He smiled slightly. 'Does this baby have any little quirks I should know about before I take the wheel in ten minutes?'
Ochre shook his head. 'Nothing out of the ordinary. It's as easy as flying an SPJ.'
'Or a bomber,' Magenta put in teasingly. Blue shot him a warning glare.
'Are the lander systems okay?' asked Scarlet. Blue glanced at him. He was pale, but didn't seem to be suffering too much from the close proximity to the complex.
Grey checked the panel in front of him. 'All green.'
'Good. Start getting your spacesuits on, those of you who are coming down.'
Inside the service hatch, Black started putting on his own spacesuit. He had the advantage over the Earthmen - he knew what he was up against. They didn't have a clue.
'Radio check. Captain Scarlet, can you hear me?'
'SIG, Captain Grey,' came the voice from the radio. Grey nodded, reassured. If there had been anything wrong with the radio connection... he hated to even think of the consequences.
'Right. Contact me if you need to be picked up ahead of schedule. Am about to release the MEV. See you later!'
'I hope,' came back the dry voice of Captain Ochre. Grey chuckled.
Captain Grey reached for the release lever. He did not hear the service hatch open. He did not see a spacesuited figure sneaking up behind him. But he did feel something very hard come down on the back of his head.
Captain Black shoved the unconscious body of Captain Grey to the floor, smiling grimly. He set the MEV release on a timer - it would disconnect in precisely two minutes. Then he turned and left the cockpit.
'What's taking Grey so long?' Magenta said crossly, drumming his fingers on the back of Scarlet's chair.
'Cut that out!' the English captain said crossly. 'But you're right. It should have released two minutes ago. What's going on?'
Just then, there was a soft clunk, and they felt the Martian Exploration Vehicle begin to separate from the Zero-X. Captain Blue, at the controls, began to fiddle with a few switches. 'All green,' he reported. 'We're away.'
'SIG,' said Scarlet. 'Take us down on the other side of the ridge near the complex.' He shivered, not sure why. Maybe it was because, two years earlier, this same MEV had mounted the ridge he was talking about - and only one man from that crew had come back alive.
He would have worried even more if he had known that, hidden in a back compartment of the MEV, that one man, now under Mysteron influence, was silently waiting for them to land.
~ 4 ~
It Would Be Rude To Refuse
The MEV hit the surface of Mars with a thump, shaking its crew in their seats.
'There's the ridge,' said Scarlet, pointing at a high wall of rock that blocked whatever was beyond from their view. His head was thumping crazily, like someone was repeatedly whacking it from the inside. He told himself to get a grip - he'd need to be alert for the next few hours. Sometimes this sixth sense can be more hindrance than help, he thought. 'Are you ready, Captain Blue?'
'SIG,' said Blue, who was driving the MEV. He glanced back at Scarlet, and the English captain thought he could see concern in his friend's eyes. He frowned at him. 'I'm fine, Adam,' he said in a low voice that only reached Blue's ears.
'I know,' said Blue. 'Just checking.' He turned back to his controls.
Scarlet shook his head in an attempt to clear the cobwebs. His headache was getting worse now. He hoped this wouldn't affect him when the time came. He sighed and closed his eyes. He couldn't botch this. It was his most important mission yet.
This is the voice of the Mysterons.
We know of your pathetic attempt to destroy our Martian Complex. But it will not succeed. It will fail. Captains Scarlet, Blue, Ochre, Magenta and Grey will die. Your weak excuse for a spaceship, the Zero-X, will be destroyed.
We have not forgotten. We will be avenged.
Colonel White sighed as the empty voice echoed eerily around Cloudbase. How had the Mysterons found out? He'd at least hoped they'd have the element of surprise, but that blessing had been denied. Lieutenant Green glanced at him, face strained. 'Don't worry, Lieutenant, we'll get the better of them this time,' White said confidently. He needed to keep everyone calm. And if he himself panicked...
If only he knew what was going on!
The MEV mounted the ridge slowly, dust swirling around it as it churned up the dirt trying to make it up the last few feet. They had followed in the MEV tracks from the ill-fated expedition in 2068 two years earlier - a situation which didn't make Scarlet any more comfortable. It was close to this spot where Captain Black had been taken over by the Mysterons and had been forced to do their bidding ever since. A cold shiver went up Scarlet's spine as he imagined himself suffering the same fate.
'Get a hold of yourself, you idiot,' he chastised himself aloud.
'What did you say?' asked Ochre.
'Nothing. We're almost at the top. Be ready for anything.'
Just then the MEV reached the top of the ridge. The Mysteron complex stood in the very bottom of the crater - dazzling lights and colours obscured by a strange misty haze. Scarlet peered at it wonderingly.
'Yes, it's rather like the complex on the moon,' said Blue awkwardly, breaking the eerie silence.
'Yes,' agreed Scarlet. His head still ached, but he shook off the urge to close his eyes with an effort. This may be our last chance to do this, he thought. We have to get it right!
'Right, everyone, prepare to leave the MEV. Make sure you have plenty of air in your tanks. What's the gravity like out there, Captain Ochre?'
Ochre glanced at a nearby gauge. 'Low, but we should still be able to walk okay. As long as Magenta doesn't get too enthusiastic and bounce off into space.'
'Hey!' protested the pink-clad captain.
Scarlet rolled his eyes. 'Just get ready, will you!' he snapped. 'And everyone be careful.'
Scarlet was the first to step outside the MEV. It was a while since he had walked in such low gravity; it was strange to feel so light. If only I wasn't feeling light-headed into the bargain, he thought slightly crossly. Why hadn't the Mysterons given him a more useful sixth sense?
Blue was close behind him. 'It's more hazy than it was on the moon,' he commented through his spacesuit radio.
Scarlet nodded. 'Yes, it'll be harder to see. We'll need to stick together.' He glanced back at Ochre, who was climbing down. 'Come on.'
As the four captains walked gingerly towards the largest building in the complex, the mist hid another spacesuited figure that was following them. He vanished through the wall of a nearby tower.
As they reached the main building, a section of hazy wall seemed to vanish completely, leaving a misty doorway into an inside chamber. Scarlet glanced at the others.
'Looks like an invitation,' said Ochre, raising an eyebrow.
'Yes,' said Blue with a faint grin. 'And it would be rude to refuse.'
Scarlet laughed. 'After you, then, Captain.'
Blue shook his spacesuited head emphatically. 'No way, you're field commander!'
Scarlet sighed, braced himself, and entered into the unknown.
~ 5 ~
The Mystery Of The Mysterons
As Scarlet stepped into the haze, things became clearer. He was standing inside a room large enough to comfortably admit them all, with opaque walls of an indefinable colour. The far corner of the room was hazy, but as he stepped towards it he could see it clearly. There were no apparent exits apart from the one he'd entered through.
'Now this is spooky,' said Ochre cheerfully.
Scarlet turned to him. The others had followed him through the door. 'Very spooky,' he agreed. 'Now, could you perhaps see if you can find a way further in?'
Magenta reached out to touch one of the walls, and his hand went straight through it. 'We could just walk through,' he suggested.
'Without seeing what's on the other side?' said Blue sceptically.
If it was possible to shrug in a spacesuit, Scarlet would have. 'We did that in Crater 101, didn't we?'
'That was different. Here the defences could be far higher. We could walk straight into a trap.'
'I think we already have,' said Ochre, looking back at the door. Scarlet followed his gaze. The door they had entered through was rapidly turning back into the wall it had been before they had entered.
'I hate the Mysterons,' he said viciously.
'So do we all, but saying that won't help us get out,' said Blue sensibly. 'There must be a way into the rest of the complex.' He touched the wall like Magenta had, but this time it stayed solid. 'There goes that method.'
'Is it me, or is it getting mistier in here?' said Magenta, turning his spacesuited head slowly. Scarlet glanced around. 'It's not you. If it gets any hazier, we won't be able to see a thing. Captain Blue, is it just an illusion, or is that mist an actual substance?'
Blue checked on his scanner. 'It's a gas of some sort. The same as in Crater 101, but in far larger quantities.'
'Well, if it's getting thicker, it must be coming from somewhere. Try to find a vent or something.'
The four captains began to examine the walls, feeling carefully along them with gloved fingers.
'Nothing on this wall,' said Scarlet after what seemed like an eternity. 'Captain Blue?'
'Nothing here either,' Blue replied. 'No, wait - here.' He was pointing to a section of wall only about three feet by three feet, close to the floor on the wall furthest from the door. It appeared just like a wall, but gas seemed to be flowing in through it. He touched it gingerly and it dissolved into a cloud of gas. There was a fairly steady flow into the room.
Scarlet walked over to it and bent, trying to get a look through it. The gas totally obscured his vision. There was no way of telling what was beyond. He turned and looked at the other three captains, standing behind him. 'Well?'
'You're field commander. It's your call.'
Scarlet swallowed. It could get them into worse trouble - or it could complete the mission for them. 'Follow me. Blue, bring up the rear. Magenta, come next.' Without waiting for an answer, he crawled cautiously into the gap.
This is the voice of the Mysterons.
Your pathetic excuses for agents have made it inside our complex. But they are only walking further into a trap. Call them off now, or it will be the worse for them.
We will have our revenge on you. You started the shockwave, and you will suffer.
Lieutenant Green turned to face the colonel as the echoes of the voice faded. 'Sir,' he said urgently.
'What is it, Lieutenant?'
Colonel White nodded. 'Yes.'
The more he thought about it, the more it made sense. The Mysterons feared the success of the captains' mission, and were warning them off just in case. The Mysterons were not nearly as all-powerful as they made out.
Nevertheless, they were still a formidable opponent. And it was still possible that they weren't afraid, and were giving the five captains a last chance.
~ 6 ~
The Parting Of The Ways
The tunnel had narrowed. The captains were crawling through the vent, which was barely big enough to accommodate them. There was a faint glow of light, but it might as well have been pitch black; the gas made seeing what was ahead impossible. Scarlet moved slowly, feeling the floor in front of him before committing his weight to it. Did the Mysterons know where they were? And if they did, why hadn't they tried to stop them? He had expected to meet more resistance than this.
'Can you see anything, Scarlet?' said Magenta eagerly for the fifth time.
'No, it's too misty,' replied Scarlet patiently, also for the fifth time. 'Ask again and I'll kick you.'
Magenta shuddered. He hated confined spaces. The walls of the tunnel were brushing against his shoulders as he crawled along. The tunnel narrowed again and he resisted the urge to scream.
'Ouch!' That was Scarlet. He'd come to a sudden stop. Magenta waited expectantly. 'I crashed into the wall. The tunnel ends here.'
Magenta sighed, disappointed. 'Do we have to go back?'
He could see Scarlet feeling around ahead. 'Don't worry. Now it goes up. There's a ladder.' The field commander straightened and began to climb up. Magenta followed awkwardly. How could Scarlet climb so easily in his spacesuit?
Scarlet reached the top of the ladder and climbed up. His head was throbbing more now; they must be nearing the heart of the complex. The gas obscured his vision, but as he stepped forward, it dissolved, revealing the interior. Strange machines, the likes of which Scarlet had never seen on Earth, were scattered around with seemingly no attention paid to efficiency of space or easy movement. The walls glowed oddly, shining and glimmering with a bizarre light.
At the centre of the large room were two large tubes, shining silver. They stretched up into the ceiling - elevators? thought Scarlet. He walked over to one and touched it. A doorway appeared slowly, the silver surface almost dissolving until there was a clear, rounded oval in the side of the cylinder.
He turned to the other captains. Magenta and Ochre had climbed out, and Blue was in the process of doing so. Ochre was occupied with examining what looked like a large oval table.
'Don't touch anything,' warned Scarlet. 'Captain Blue, what would you say these are?'
Blue came over and examined the tube. 'An elevator, most likely.'
'That's what I thought.' Scarlet frowned. 'There are two. Do they both lead to the same place, or different places?'
'There's only one way to find out,' said Blue.
'Yes. We'll split up. Captain Ochre, Captain Magenta, you go up this tube. Captain Blue and I will take the other. Don't go running headlong into danger' - this last looking at Magenta - 'and don't go too far.'
'SIG,' said Magenta and Ochre in unison. They stepped towards the tube. Ochre stepped cautiously inside, followed by Magenta. Then the hole in the silver cylinder filled in, slowly at first, but faster and faster until it was closed again.
Trapped inside the tube, Ochre and Magenta could do nothing but wait. There was a strange lifting sensation, and the floor beneath them began to rise.
'Now what's Scarlet got us into?' wondered Ochre aloud.
'You sound pretty cheerful about it,' muttered Magenta.
Then the elevator stopped. The 'door' began to fade away again, and soon it was fully open. Magenta jumped out impatiently, closely followed by Ochre.
They found themselves in a featureless chamber, with soft fluorescent pink walls. The only thing in the chamber apart from them was the silver tube.
'The walls match your uniform,' joked Ochre, nudging Magenta playfully.
'Cut it out,' Magenta snapped. 'It's a dead end. Let's go back and catch up with the others.' He turned and gasped. The doorway to the tube was rapidly vanishing. He touched it, but it stayed firm.
'One way,' groaned Ochre. 'Now we're stuck.'
Magenta clenched his fists. 'If I ever see that Captain Scarlet again, I'll kill him!'
~ 7 ~
Been Nice Working With You
The tube closed around Captains Scarlet and Blue, and the floor began to rise. 'I don't remember there being elevators that gave me claustrophobia in Crater 101,' Blue grumbled.
'No, just anti-gravity pads that nearly gave me a heart attack when I stepped on one,' said Scarlet cheerfully.
The lifting stopped. Slowly, the silver door began to fizzle and vanish. Scarlet stepped out cautiously. Before he could take in his surroundings, he was hit by a wave of dizziness. He placed a hand on the tube to stay upright. Whatever's in here must be a really strong Mysteron presence, he thought grimly.
'Captain? Are you all right?'
Scarlet opened his eyes with an effort. 'Yes. I'm fine.' Still leaning on the tube, he surveyed the room quickly. What he saw almost took his breath away.
The tube was at one end of a long room with softly glowing green walls, ceiling, and floor. At the far end of the room, a large table that reminded Scarlet of the Kurnitz console back at Cloudbase stood alone. On top of it was a diamond the size of Scarlet's space helmet. It pulsed rhythmically, glowing with an amber light.
Scarlet started towards the console, cautious and alert. To all appearances he and Blue were completely alone. But you can never be sure of that with the Mysterons, he thought grimly.
He reached the console. 'The pulsator is too big to disconnect. Any idea how we could get rid of it?'
'We could overload the console,' Blue considered. 'But I don't know how it works.'
Scarlet frowned. 'I saw them use the Kurnitz console back at base when we tried to contact the Mysterons.' He scanned the control panels. They were labelled in a way that was totally alien but somehow strangely familiar. Most of the buttons and dials made no sense, but off to one side was a red knob that looked like a voltage controller. 'I'll see what I can do.'
Slowly, he began to turn the knob.
'What's that dreadful noise, Lieutenant?' said Colonel White crossly. A low buzzing noise was reverberating around Cloudbase, getting slowly louder and louder.
'I don't know, Colonel,' said a worried Lieutenant Green. 'I've tried to stop it. It's coming from the speakers, but I can't control them.'
'Like when there's a Mysteron threat,' muttered the colonel. Did that mean Scarlet and the others had made it to the power source?
Scarlet winched the knob up higher and higher, until warning lights began to flash all over the console.
'It'll blow,' cautioned Blue.
'It's the only way to do it,' said Scarlet determinedly. He gritted his teeth and prepared to give the knob one final turn.
'I wouldn't do that if I were you, Earthman.'
Scarlet and Blue spun to face the new arrival. He held a small gun, pointed directly at Scarlet. His face was shadowed by his spacesuit, but Scarlet knew that eerie, empty voice. The voice of one who had once been his friend. Before...
'Why not, Black?' he sneered, placing his hand on the knob again. 'Afraid?'
'I am not afraid. But you should be, Earthman. You rely on the Mysterons for your retrometabolistic abilities. Destroy that stone, and you will no longer be invulnerable.'
Scarlet whitened, despite himself. 'You're lying,' he said through his teeth. 'You're trying to trick me into surrendering to save my own life.'
'I am not lying, Earthman. I wish I were.' Was there... a note of sadness in his voice? Scarlet shook his head slightly. This was not the time to wonder if Black could be turned from the Mysteron's control. Trying to reason with him was useless, as Scarlet had discovered before.
'Don't believe him, Paul,' came Blue's urgent whisper. 'He's just trying to make you make a mistake.'
Scarlet shook his head. 'No, Black. You've failed.' he said evenly. 'I'm not afraid to die. Even if I don't revive. I know the price I may have to pay for destroying your masters.' He paused, glaring at the spacesuited figure at the other end of the room. 'It'll be worth it.'
He glanced back at Blue. Blue's face was white behind his spacesuit visor. He was unobtrusively reaching for his sidearm. Scarlet nodded to him briefly. 'It's been nice working with you, Adam.'
Then he grabbed the knob and twisted it violently into place.
~ 8 ~
The Mysterons Will Be Avenged
The pulsator glowed blindingly bright, then shattered into a billion tiny pieces. Scarlet was thrown backward by the blast. He slammed painfully against the wall; spots danced in front of him. Dimly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Blue lying limp on the ground, out cold - or worse. But Scarlet had more pressing things to worry about - Captain Black was struggling to his feet, gun still in hand. Scarlet felt for his own sidearm. Somehow it had gone missing. Scarlet groaned inwardly, then flung himself behind the smoking console as a shower of bullets landed where he had been a split-second before.
A deafening boom crashed through every speaker on Cloudbase. Those wearing radio caps were deafened for the next thirty seconds. The luckier ones who weren't, including Colonel White, covered their ears until the noise of the blast stopped. But it was more than a blast - it was a collective scream of frustration as every Mysteron on Mars realised their moments were numbered. And it was all because of one 'Earthman' who had been their creation in the first place.
Lieutenant Green removed his hands from his ears. 'What could this mean, Colonel?'
The colonel frowned for a moment. If his earlier guess at what the buzzing noise was was correct that meant -
'They must have made it!' The lieutenant had never heard his commander sound so excited. 'They must have destroyed the power source! They've done it!'
Scarlet crouched behind the console, bullets whizzing past his ears. 'Give up, Black! You've lost! It's over!'
'No, it's not, Earthman!' hollered the furious Mysteron agent. One bullet slightly grazed the side of Scarlet's helmet. 'We will be avenged!'
Scarlet's mind was racing. The Mysterons were clearly bent on killing him, and if what Black had said was true ... and some inexplicable instinct told Scarlet Black had not lied. An idea occurred to him. If there was even the slightest trace of Conrad Turner left in that psychopath, maybe there was a chance.
'Black, please, listen to me! You don't have to serve the Mysterons! I broke free, so can you!' Black paused for a moment in his relentless advance. His firm hold on his pistol wavered slightly. Scarlet held his breath. Would he?
'It is too late for me, Earthman.' There it was, that hint of sadness in his voice again. 'The Mysterons' instructions will be carried out.' Black took another step forward.
Scarlet took a deep breath, then, taking advantage of the low gravity, launched himself at his opponent. Both men fell, Scarlet on top of Black. He grabbed for the gun, but Black held on. They tussled on the floor, both striving for the one weapon.
Slowly, Captain Blue's vision came into focus. He was lying against the far wall of the room, next to the console. He raised his head woozily, propping himself up on one elbow. At the other end of the room, Black had the pistol and was standing triumphantly in front of Scarlet, who was against a wall. The gun was aimed at the Spectrum agent's heart. 'Now, Captain Scarlet, you will die for the last time.'
Blue looked around desperately for his sidearm. There it was, on the other side of the console. He dived for it, snatched it up, and scrambled to his feet.
Blue did not hear the sound of the shotgun, as sound doesn't travel in space. But he saw Scarlet wince and crumple to the ground. Blue didn't hesitate for a moment. He aimed his pistol and fired three bullets into Captain Black's back.
'Paul? Can you hear me? Come on, please!'
Captain Blue's efforts were rewarded by a faint moan. He saw Scarlet's eyelids flicker, then open. 'Adam?' he said weakly.
'Yes, it's me. Hang on, I'm going to get you out of here.'
'No.' Scarlet made a weak detaining gesture. 'I'll slow you down too much. Find Ochre and Magenta, then get out and destroy this place before the Mysterons use plan B, whatever it is. They can't have been totally relying on Black.'
'I'm not leaving you here. You have to get back to Cloudbase.'
'There's no point. I'm not going to make it. Black was telling the truth.'
'How do you know?'
'I just know.' Scarlet's voice was getting weaker by the second. 'Just get out. Finish the mission. If you take me along, you won't make it either.'
'No. You're coming with us.'
Scarlet laughed faintly. 'That's an order, Captain Blue.'
Blue reluctantly half-stood. 'SIG. Goodbye, Paul.'
Captain Scarlet closed his eyes.
~ 9 ~
Nothing Left But Rubble
Captain Magenta slumped against the wall. He'd been banging uselessly on the tube for the past ten minutes. 'It's no good. We're just going to have to sit here until we run out of air.'
Ochre groaned. 'Don't say that.'
'But it's true, isn't it?'
Ochre was about to reply, but noticed a doorway was beginning to fade in the door again. 'Look!'
Magenta sighed in relief, then jumped up. As the doorway faded more, the figure of Captain Blue was visible. 'Come on, you two! It's time to get out of here!'
'SIG.' Magenta ran into the tube next to him, closely followed by Ochre. 'Where's Scarlet?'
'He didn't make it.'
'But he'll come round!' protested Ochre. 'Why don't we get him out of here?'
Blue turned to Ochre. 'You don't understand,' he said wearily. 'He's dead. Really dead. Permanently. When we destroyed the power source, Captain Black shot him.'
'Captain Black?! How'd he get here?'
'I don't know. Maybe he stowed away in the Zero-X. We'll never know how he did it.'
'Because he's dead too?'
The elevator had reached the bottom of the tube. The door opened again. As Ochre stepped out, he glanced back at Blue. His expression was hard, and his face set.
'We better get in touch with Grey,' said Magenta as they clambered awkwardly up the ridge towards the MEV.
'Yes,' said Blue. 'But we can't until we are inside the MEV.'
Just then a flash of red light sped past them, and struck the ground near Blue. The ground shook, and rocks began to tumble down the slope.
'They're shooting at us!' yelled Magenta, stating the obvious.
'Then climb faster!'
They reached the MEV, and climbed in thankfully. Blue, though not officially in command, was quick to take charge in Scarlet's absence. 'Ochre, prepare the weapons systems. Magenta, check the scanners. Are they going to fire at us again?'
Magenta checked the scanners as he strapped himself in. 'Not just yet, I don't think.'
'Then we have some time. Ochre, let them have it.' Blue unconsciously echoed the words of Captain Black two years earlier.
Ochre pressed the button. The MEV's gun fired again and again, causing explosion after explosion in the complex. Until there was nothing left but rubble, as it had happened two years earlier. But unlike the first time, the complex did not come back. They waited a few moments to make sure, but the rubble stayed rubble.
'We did it,' Ochre sighed in relief.
'Yes,' said Blue bleakly, staring out at the wreckage of the main control building, where his closest friend had died. 'We did it.'
Captain Grey came slowly back to his senses. He was slumped over the controls of the Zero-X. His head was aching.
'Zero-X, come in. This is the MEV,' said Captain Blue's voice over the radio. There was a note of panic in the voice. Grey realised that they must have tried to contact him several times.
'MEV, this is the Zero-X. Did you do it?'
'We did it.' Captain Blue sounded more than usually tired. 'The Mysterons are no more.'
Captain Grey felt a wave of exultation come over him, but reminded himself sternly that they'd be time to celebrate later. 'Are you ready for rendezvous?'
'SIG. Taking off now.'
~ Epilogue ~
The End of the War of Nerves
'Well, gentlemen, the Mysterons have been defeated. They failed to destroy Earth, as was their original threat.' The colonel paused, looking at the grave faces around the table. 'I understand that it came at a cost. Captain Scarlet gave up his life in order to fulfil his mission, something that any Spectrum officer should be ready to do.' He smiled faintly. 'His sacrifice will not be forgotten. His bravery may well have saved the planet.'
'I don't have to tell you that, despite the destruction of the Mysterons, Spectrum still plays an important part in the world's security forces. The world expects that every man in Spectrum will do his duty ... whatever the cost.'
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