WARNING: This story is unfinished and will remain so, unless the author comes back to complete it.
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By Flic City
Chapter One: Points of View
“I should have known that something was wrong when I talked to him in the lounge,” I tell Harmony bitterly. “He was acting off-beat – but I thought he should just have some time alone, and now –”
“Off-beat?” asks Harmony, looking puzzled.
“Yeah.” I sigh, remembering. “I asked him whether he was alright. Hell, I even mentioned how similar he was acting to the time he – was recovering,” I say, careful not to mention from what, even in passing. It’s stupid, but there’s an unspoken feeling on the base that if we don’t say out loud what is wrong with him, he’ll recover faster. It was there the last time he broke down, too.
“What did he say?” Harmony asks.
“Nothing. He looked like he was thinking about it, but when he didn’t say anything, I thought he wanted me to leave.” I punch my hand. “Stupid! I should have realised that he was acting like that for a reason!”
Harmony gives me another puzzled stare. “But why did he not speak? It’s not like Captain Scarlet to be rude.”
I shrug. “Maybe he didn’t hear me. Maybe he got distracted.” And maybe I don’t want to know why. “He just stared blankly ahead until I left to get a coffee. When I got back, he was gone.”
Harmony considers my answer. She looks just as concerned as I feel. D*mm*t, why did this have to happen? And why now?
“What?” Harmony looks startled.
“I bet they’re behind this somehow!” I start to pace, thinking aloud. “If they found some way of affecting him, then they’d be sure to use it! And this would fit their plans beautifully! With Scarlet out of the way, we’ve got to be a lot more careful when we plan our actions against them. And he’s the only one of us who can sense a Mysteron agent.”
“But how could they do this?”
“How do they rebuild destroyed vehicles? How do they resurrect dead people? How do they do anything?”
“You mean, it is another of their powers?”
“Yes!” I realise the flaw in my argument just as Harmony voices it.
“So why have they waited so long to use it?”
“Maybe they weren’t trying to drive him mad,” I say slowly. “Maybe they were trying to take control of him, and resisting them is what’s making him crazy.” I suddenly feel chilled by what I’m suggesting. I hope that I’m wrong.
Harmony, wonderful, prosaic Harmony, points out the flaws in that line of reasoning, too. “If Captain Scarlet ever felt the Mysterons attacking his mind, he would be sure to announce that fact to the Colonel. He would never risk any of us – we are his friends. He cares for us too much.”
I wish that I couldn’t think of a counter for that argument. “If he knew that it was the Mysterons, sure. But he might not. And he did go to Dr. Fawn to get locked up; it was voluntary. That might have been to protect us.”
This is really bad. Captain Scarlet would rather die then betray us – but he has died, more then once. And now we all know that he can feel not only those injuries, but all the others he’s had – and here I realise that I’ve started to lose track of just what those injuries are. He heals from them so fast, why bother to keep note of what happened to him this mission?
I wince at my callousness. I never thought that something like this might happen to him. Captain Scarlet is indestructible!
But he isn’t. Not completely. And I forgot that.
I stare at the reports in front of me. They are important; I should read them, and sign some, and ask Lieutenant Green to file others – but I keep seeing the shattered pane of glass in the isolation room, and the pile of broken furniture on the floor in front of it.
When Paul Metcalfe first joined Spectrum, I was impressed by his skills and his achievements. A colonel, so young! Careful as I was not to admit it, or at least not to anyone other then Conrad, he seemed to be one of the best choices of senior staff that the selection committee made.
And he didn’t disappoint me. Brash as he sometimes was, Captain Scarlet had a gift for succeeding in his missions – whatever they might be. I was proud to be head of an organisation that had someone like him as an agent.
When we first realised that the replica of Captain Scarlet had somehow gained the memory and personality of the original, I was glad. He was – and is – one of my best agents, but it was more then that – though we may not be as relaxed as some of the officers are with each other, in the time he had served under me we had become good friends.
I never thought about how badly knowing what had happened would affect him.
He was shocked; I had expected that. I had also expected that he would immediately see what an advantage this was, and volunteer for duty.
A faint, dry smile twists my lips. I was an idiot.
But that was so long ago; everyone thought he had come to terms with the facts of what he now is.
“What?” I look up, and realise that Lieutenant Green is standing in front of me. “What is it, Lieutenant?” I ask gruffly, slightly embarrassed that I had ignored him.
“Will Captain Scarlet be all right?”
I look into his eyes, and realise again how young he is. I wish I could say ‘Yes’, but I owe him the truth.
“No one knows.”
“No one knows.”
I hate those words. I really hate those words. They are the most awful phrase in the entire English language.
But it wouldn’t be fair to complain to the Colonel. He’s as unhappy as I am about this – I can tell from the way he keeps staring into space, frowning as he tries to think of a solution.
I shiver, remembering the time that I had to keep watch over Captain Scarlet while he was in the isolation room. He scared me then. I don’t think I could bear to repeat that – I couldn’t stand and listen to him pleading for us to kill him permanently again. It was bad enough the first time. Now, after the time we’ve spent becoming friends –
I don’t want to think about it. I try to remember some good times, when he was normal.
Promising to buy me all the coconuts I can eat, during our mission in Crater 101.
Teasing me about the cold at Red Deer Base.
Playing along when Captain Ochre and I filled the Control Room with fake snow.
I sigh, and get back to work. This is driving me nuts…
I glare at the nurse. “I – want – to – see – him,” I say clearly, hoping that she’ll get the message.
“No one goes in,” she says, shaking her head firmly.
“He’s my best friend,” I plead, trying to get through to her. “I have to see him.”
“I’m sorry, captain, but those are my orders. He needs to be left in peace and given time.” She smiles apologetically.
I’ll give diplomacy one more try, and then I’m going to knock her out and force the door.
“I understand that, but can’t –”
“Captain Blue!” Dr. Fawn is behind me. I draw in a deep breath, and prepare to start the whole argument again. But he surprises me by saying, “Let’s go to my office.”
I follow him, wondering what is going on.
“I didn’t think you’d want the nurse to overhear this conversation,” he says as soon as we’re inside. I look at him sharply.
He doesn’t look good. I wonder if he’s been sleeping lately.
“Captain Scarlet can’t see you.”
I start to answer.
“I mean that literally, Captain,” he says, pushing his hair back in a nervous gesture.
“You can go and see him if you must, but he won’t respond. I’m not sure if he’s too far divorced from reality to notice people, or if he’s just not sure what is real any more. But either way, he is doing his best not to respond to anything.” Fawn looks grim. I try to understand what he’s telling me, but it doesn’t make any sense.
“So I can go and see him?” I ask. Fawn grimaces.
“I’ll let you in. Please, remember to be careful. His hallucinations are becoming serious.”
We walk back to the door. Fawn takes the key out of his pocket, and holds it up. “You are sure you want to do this?” he asks, looking concerned. “It won’t be easy on you, mate.”
“I’m sure,” I tell him, looking at the door. He reaches over and unlocks it, then pushes it open.
I square my shoulders, and walk into the cell.
“Hey, Paul.” I look up quickly. Not Blue. Please.
But the hallucination is quite nice. It’s just Blue in his uniform, looking concerned. Not like when Grey walked in with a shot wound in his chest, bleeding all over the floor. Or when Melody appeared with her eyes torn out of their sockets.
“Hi,” I greet him uncertainly. Is talking to him going to change him?
But no, apart from the relief on his face, he still looks the same. “They said you weren’t talking,” he says. I tense up. Who? Who’s talking about me?
“How’s the food? As bad as normal, or worse?”
I manage a tight smile. “Worse.” It’s covered with insects – flies and beetles and slimy worms. They aren’t real – I can still think rationally enough to know that they would never give me food that was that bad – but it makes it hard to eat, all the same.
“Sorry to hear that.” Blue looks around. “Not much to do, huh? Would you like me to fetch you a crossword to do?”
I brighten, then frown. “How are you going to get it to me?”
“I was thinking of having Rhapsody bake you a cake, and smuggling it in inside that,” he says. I consider the idea.
“I don’t think that would be good for the cake.”
Blue looks put off. “It’s a joke, Paul.”
There’s silence for a few minutes. Blue looks uncomfortable.
“So, how are you doing?” he asks.
I shrug. I should probably say something, but I can’t think of anything important.
He doesn’t need to know about the hallucinations, does he? It would just worry him to learn that I see Captain Black walking around the base, and that I sense Mysterons everywhere. The nausea and headache are like every other injury I’ve had – constant.
Blue takes a deep breath. “Get better, huh, partner?” he says. “We need you to continue fighting.”
A red haze covers the room. “Fighting? You need me? I’ve been fighting, Adam! I’ve fought terrorists, I’ve fought the Mysterons – I’m fighting myself by now! And you want me to keep fighting?! I’ve had it, Adam! I’m fed up of this never-ending war! We should just destroy the Mysterons, and have done with it!”
I start to relax, thinking that maybe Adam will help Paul, when he starts yelling. The nurses and orderlies look up, shocked. I hurry to the room, and see Paul stood with his fists clenched by his sides, glaring furiously at Adam as he finishes his rant with the words, “We should just destroy the Mysterons, and have done with it!”
“Ad- Blue, I think you should leave,” I murmur, seeing how wild Paul’s eyes are. Whatever Adam said or did, it struck a very large nerve.
Adam ignores me. “Paul, I didn’t mean it like that,” he says calmingly, his attention focussed on his friend’s actions.
“Oh, no?” Adam is just making things worse, and he can’t see it.
“Oh, no?” Paul scoffs again, stepping closer to Adam. “Didn’t you? You know, Adam, I thought I could trust you –”
“You can!” Adam protests, hurt.
“Not any more, I can’t!” Paul turns away violently. Adam starts towards him, but stops when I catch his sleeve. He turns to face me, frowning when I shake my head and beckon him out.
“Paul, I –”
“Just GET OUT!” Paul screams, turning to face us again. His face is red with anger, and he shakes his fist at us. “Get out of here, both of you! Just leave me ALONE!”
“All right, we’re going now, sport,” I say soothingly, pulling Adam along as I walk backwards. He doesn’t fight me; he’s too shocked by the state that Paul is in.
I close the door when we are both standing outside, and shake my head. It’s tragic, losing such a man to insanity.
Adam stares at me, speechless.
“I tried to tell you, sport,” I say sadly. “He isn’t rational any more.”
Adam opens his mouth, then shuts it again. He swallows, and finally says, “Will he ever get back to normal?”
I wish I could say yes. I really do.
But I can’t lie to him. The look in his eyes reminds me that whatever else, their friendship deserves the truth. “It doesn’t seem very likely.
“I think it would take a miracle.”
I look around the observation deck. No one here apart from me. Good.
I hug myself, feeling a sharp pain in my heart. Paul, why did this have to happen to you? Haven’t you been through enough already? First the accident, when you died; then reviving, only to find out that you had been a Mysteron agent and had tried to shoot Blue and kidnap the President. Learning that you were in a new body, which none of us quite understand even now. Learning that you are virtually indestructible.
I wish I could help you, Paul. I saw the state you were in, last time you broke down – not that you know it. Neither of us ever mentioned it; I think you convinced yourself that I was an hallucination. Or maybe you didn’t need convincing… but either way, you never so much as asked me if it was real.
I stood by the window one night, while the nurses and doctors were asleep. You weren’t; you only need a couple of hours a night – your new body, I mean. I stood there, listening as you cursed everyone who you could hold responsible for what had happened to you.
I think you tried to convince yourself that Captain Brown could be held responsible, too – but you never managed it. You’re too honourable, my love. Far too honourable to blame people for what they can’t control.
Apart from yourself.
You noticed me when I started crying. I tried not to – but it hurt me so much to see you in such pain, and not be able to help you.
You walked over, and pressed your hand against the window. ‘Dianne? Is that you?’
I nodded, and pressed my hand against yours on the window.
‘Dianne.’ The look on your face was thankful, and scared, and relieved all at once. ‘I missed you.’
I gave a watery smile, and nodded. ‘Me too,’ I whispered. ‘Me too.’
You have such brilliant blue eyes, they almost seem to glow when you’re happy – and you were, when I told you that I missed you too.
I wish I could do that again. But the isolation chamber you’re in now is better guarded, and they say that your state of mind is more serious.
Get better, love.
I miss you.
I watch silently as Rhapsody cries by herself. I wish I could comfort her.
I wish I could comfort myself.
Paul, why could you not hold out against this? You are a strong man – was the stress of your new existence so much stronger?
It should be less. I know it is you, Paul, not the impostor I accused you of being before. And so does Ochre.
None of us think you a fake any more… unless it is yourself.
Tiens! I should give up torturing myself about this!
So should Paul.
I turn and leave, careful not to let Rhapsody know I have been watching her. I am due in the Amber Room in any case.
Symphony and Harmony look up as I enter. They have obviously been talking about Rhapsody.
“How is she?” asks Symphony urgently.
I do not pretend to misunderstand. “She is crying. I do not think she wants company. She is very hurt for Paul.”
Harmony nods silently, her face a mask. Symphony is more open – she frowns, and begins to twist her hair around her fingers.
“Symphony, I am here to replace you,” I remind her after waiting for a few moments. “It is time for you to get some rest.”
She looks irritated for a moment; then she sighs, and nods reluctantly.
“I wish we could do something to help them both,” she whispers.
“So do I,” I agree. “So do I.”
Harmony nods in silence.
I stretch as I look around my cabin. There are five hundred and seventy-two paper cranes here – less then half to go.
I feel foolish, believing the old superstition. But it gives me something which I can do to feel that I am helping.
Fold one thousand paper cranes, and a wish will be granted.
I have folded five hundred and seventy-two.
Four hundred and twenty-eight to go.
I reach for the next square of paper.
The whole of Cloudbase is in shock. Captain Scarlet, insane?
The first time he broke down, I thought it was an act. Hey, look, I can’t be a Mysteron because I’m a nutcase! It didn’t mean anything to me.
This time, it’s different. I know that he’s as much Paul Metcalfe as he was before, so I can’t pretend that it doesn’t matter what he’s going through.
But someone has to keep things together. That’s what I keep telling myself every time Fawn says that he doesn’t have any news for us. That’s what I tell myself when Agent f**king Conners comes to poke around – and gets suspicious because we won’t let him near Paul.
Someone has to keep things together.
I just hope that Paul gets his act together again soon – we really do need him here.
I wish I could do something to help him. But not even Blue can, and Adam is his best friend in the whole of Spectrum. If he couldn’t help, what good would I do? I’d probably just remind Scarlet of when I didn’t trust him.
I learned that I should trust him after that incident with Jim Torey. I still feel ashamed every time I think of that – he’d only recently recovered at that time, and there I was, getting on his case every second…
He’s a lot stronger than I thought, putting up with that and being able to call me ‘friend’ afterwards. I’m not sure I could be that strong.
I know I couldn’t handle what he’s going through now.
When the announcement was made, we all just stared at each other. He could feel every wound? I could see everyone else trying to figure out how many of them there had been, the same as I was – and realising that they’d forgotten them, the same way I had.
There was a joke going around the base at one point that if you asked the computer for a copy of the injuries that Captain Scarlet has received, you’d need enough paper for a telephone directory.
Come to think of it, I started it.
It didn’t seem very funny when Magenta did ask the computer for the printout, and it did need over a thousand pages of A4. I hate to think of how large the printout would have been if it held more details than just a list of the injuries.
The list started with the injuries from the Car-Vu, as listed by the helicopter crew who collected his body; Shotwounds, 1; broken arm, left, one break; broken leg, left, two breaks; broken leg, right, four breaks; broken neck… we all sat and read through the list, trying to think of some way that we could help Scarlet deal with feeling all of these at once. Rhapsody couldn’t get past the first page. Destiny didn’t fare much better. I think that the only people who read the entire thing are Dr. Fawn, Colonel White… and me.
Grey gave up after the ones he recognised from the assassination of the Director General of the UAR. Blue made it through to the Frost Line problems. Green turned almost the same colour as his uniform by the third page, and Magenta couldn’t take in anything past the fifth mission.
I didn’t bother trying to fit the injuries to the missions. That helped. A bit.
I recognised the injuries from Jim Torey. And for half an hour, all I could do was sit and stare at the printout, remembering the way he escaped from the cuffs.
The way he stayed in the burning shelter to free Destiny.
The way he protected her with his body, literally dying to save her.
I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish the list if I put a time, a place – an expression – to every wound. So I didn’t. I just read it through, start to finish.
Then I put times and dates to the information.
And then I sat and stared at the wall until my next shift. All those injuries – I just tried to imagine feeling all those injuries at once, along with the others that healed before they could be reported.
But someone has to keep things together, and that means that I can’t sit here, driving myself crazy with this.
The last thing we need is another Spectrum Captain going insane.
It still hasn’t sunk in. I get so far, and it seems as though I’m adjusting, and then something happens that reminds me – Captain Scarlet isn’t here. He’s in the isolation room.
During the meeting when the Colonel explained what Dr. Fawn had learned, I kept glancing around, trying to figure out what was different. The answer was simple: No Captain Scarlet.
It feels so strange, like I’m still waiting for him to show up and take the dangerous position in our missions. He always has, ever since we first discovered what he’s now capable of.
I got almost jealous of him, sometimes; healing from every injury, being able to take on all the dangerous missions… it wasn’t the fact that he kept getting presented with medals – it was the fact that he kept going on the missions that led to him getting presented with medals. The fact that he got to do important things, instead of just sitting in Cloudbase watching the computer screens, waiting to hear what happened this time Spectrum faced the Mysterons.
It seems really petty of me, now. If I had known that this could happen, I would never have been so immature. After all, it isn’t as if I don’t know why I keep getting the boring assignments; there aren’t that many people on the senior staff who Colonel White can trust to do them conscientiously enough. Blue could handle it for a few days, but if he didn’t get released after that he’d go nuts…
I didn’t mean that.
I climb out of the pool, and towel myself off. Maybe I should get an early night.
Before I can, the door opens and Magenta rushes in. “Hey, Brad! Got a moment?”
“Sure,” I say, draping the towel over my shoulders. “Why?” I hope to God it isn’t one of his practical jokes. This is not the time.
“I’ve got an idea about what’s happened to Scarlet.”
I stare at him. “I’m all ears,” I say, then wince mentally, waiting for the usual smart comment. But he ignores it.
Now he has my full attention. Patrick, ignoring an opening like that? He must be serious about this idea.
He explains it to me. And I wonder whether I should be laughing, or crying, or singing halleluiahs over the fact that someone has come up with an explanation.
“Don’t mention this idea to Rhapsody yet,” I warn him. Against my better judgement, I add, “Not until you’ve told Dr. Fawn or the Colonel.”
He nods, looking thoughtful. “I figured that out for myself, thank you,” he says sarcastically, before leaving – presumably to go to Dr. Fawn. I walk to my clothes, and consider his suggestion as I get dressed.
And I come to one conclusion: I really hope that he’s wrong.
There are a lot of references to ‘A Question of Trust’ by Chris Bishop in this, so if some parts seem a little obscure, that might be why.
I do not own Gerry Anderson’s show, I do not own any of the characters I have used in this fanfic. And I also don’t know when I’ll have an inspiration on how to continue it either, I’m afraid.
If you have any comments on this story, please .