PRIOR TO “THE MYSTERONS”
CAPTAIN SCARLET AT 40 1967-2007
“They’re never going to believe this.”
Captain Matthew Yelland (Kirk Douglas)
The Final Countdown (1980)
WARNING: Two uses of strong language within
Captain Brown felt somewhat overawed by the situation. He stood by one of the numerous Spectrum Saloon Cars with the other officers of the team: Captains Scarlet, Blue and Ochre… oh, and not forgetting ballistics expert, Captain Indigo.
He saw a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle pull up behind; a moment later, the driver’s door opened and the occupant appeared, walking briskly towards the SSC where Brown and the others were standing.
“Captain Black,” Brown said.
Black nodded; Scarlet and the others allowed the senior captain to stand at the side of the SSC’s front.
Scarlet pointed to the building across the street. “Terrorists are holding the World Attorney General hostage.” His hand dropped and pointed to the map spread across the SSC’s nose like a blanket. “We have the building surrounded.”
“They have no way out?” Black asked.
“I would say, Captain Black, that we have everything covered. There is no possible way for them to escape but there obviously remains the possibility, however unlikely, that they could.”
“What do we do?” asked Blue.
“First, I need to know how it happened, how many they are and where they are.”
Scarlet nodded. “Six gunmen stormed the office of the AG on the sixth floor. They killed the guards and took the AG to the tenth and final floor. They say they’re patriots.”
“Would you know what kind of 'patriots'?” asked Black in a weary tone. “As that would be a great help, Scarlet.”
It was Blue who spoke. “We think they're Southerners.”
“Southerners. North America, you know,” Ochre was saying as if Black should know. “Confederates, the Rebels… Stars and Bars… Dixie, that’s what kind of Southerners.”
“You’re kidding,” Black said in an even wearier tone. “We have the AG of the World Government being held hostage by a group of… of crackpots.”
“Maybe they hit the wrong office,” said Ochre with a smile.
Black pointed a finger at the younger officer. “Don’t even start with the wisecracks, Ochre. I get enough of that from Magenta. The pair of you give me a headache.”
Ochre stiffened as if coming to attention. He nodded crisply.
“Good, now done to business.” Black spread his hands on the map. “Is the area cordoned off to the public, Scarlet?”
“All roads leading to this block have been sealed. A further kilometre zone around this block has been secured to the public.”
“What is our aerial coverage like?”
Blue responded promptly. “The Angels have already commenced patrols. They were delayed as they had to escort a passenger jetliner out of LaGuardia, the nearest airport to here. They are however now making regular flights over New York and the surrounding area. Nothing is flying in or out. Aircraft bound for New York are being diverted.”
“Right,” Black stared at the map for a minute. “Get me the terrorists, I want to speak to them.”
“SIG, the line has just been connected,” said Indigo after a moment.
Black was handed a cellphone-shaped radio by Scarlet who had taken it from within the SSC.
“Thanks, Scarlet.” Black held the radio up before him and pressed the speak button. “This is Captain Black of Spectrum; I wish to speak to the leader of the people holding the World Atto…”
“What do you want, cop?” came a voice with an American Southern accent. It sounded perfectly clear over the radio.
Black replied in a neutral tone of voice. “First of all, I’m not a cop.”
“And what would Spectrum be? Some kind of decorating group?”
Black bit on his lip before replying. “Spectrum is an organisation who fights terror.”
“Who am I speaking to?” demanded Black.
“For now, you can call me Stonewall.”
“How bloody original,” muttered Indigo to Scarlet. Black shot Indigo a look and spoke into the radio again.
“What do you want?”
“Autonomy for the Southern region of the United States. To be officially recognised as the Confederate States.”
“Oh…,” Indigo’s voice trailed off but everyone else knew what he was about say. They had all been thinking that they had been right in their assumptions.
“We cannot meet this demand, Stonewall. You must be aware of the fact that Spectrum does not negotiate with terrorists.”
“Spectrum should change its policy.”
But Stonewall had ended communication and therefore the conversation. Black exhaled loudly and handed the radio to Scarlet. He pointed at Ochre and Blue. “Do you two think you could get inside? Get up to the top floor?”
“They’ll be watching us,” Ochre warned Black.
“That doesn’t matter,” Black said.
“What kind of weapons should we take, Captain?” Blue asked.
“Make do with your handgun. I want this over as soon as possible but remember, we’re Spectrum so let’s not go off half-cocked.”
“SIG, Captain Black.”
Destiny’s aircraft skimmed the skyline of New York City with the other two pilots behind her astern. Her radio beeped.
“Destiny, Captain Black speaking. How are things up there? ”
“The sky is clear. We have just escorted the last commercial jetliner from LaGuardia International.”
“SIG Destiny. Stay on patrol until all this is over. How is your fuel situation?”
“We have a fuel tanker from the World Army Air Force on standby from Baltimore,” the Frenchwoman replied. “We can stay airborne indefinitely.”
“Excellent, Destiny. Be careful you don’t hit any skyscrapers.”
“Angels never fall,” Destiny said. She rolled her eyes a little even though she had heard the good-natured tone in Black’s voice. “We are fully capable of doing our job.”
“I know. Black out.”
Captain Scarlet, Brown and Indigo crowded around the nose of the SSC forming like a fence around Captain Black as he prodded the map of the building.
“The AG’s building was built in 2037 after the Atomic War. It’s bombproof and that means anything we have now, from the smallest mortar to the big A bombs, won’t make a dent in it. Windows are bulletproof and even missile proof. The ten floors are joined by three stairwells and three lift shafts. The shafts are protected by strong concrete that’s resistant to flames, bombs, etc. etc. The roof has enough protection to stop a mortar. Captain Indigo,” Black addressed the ballistics expert, “any thoughts on the rest of us going to the top?”
“Sir, shouldn’t we wait for Blue and Ochre?”
“We are, but I’m waiting for their report so that we can prepare for our attack. They are reconnaissance.”
Scarlet spoke then. “We’ll be going in after their report and meeting up with them before continuing on with the main attack. So what do you think, Denton?”
Indigo blinked at the use of his name. Unlike his Cloudbase colleagues, Indigo was the exception to the rule in that he was hardly ever on the floating carrier and had little interaction with the others. He wasn’t used to such familiarity.
“May I suggest that we take a helicopter and land on top of the building?”
“That’s somewhat simple,” Black said.
“We should have done that from the start,” Scarlet told Black.
“A little late for that now.”
“Seriously, Captain Black, that’s the only idea I can come up with at present. They’ll be monitoring through the building’s CCTV – their Close Circuit Television.”
“What if we storm it by force?” suggested Captain Brown softly, as if afraid of the reaction coming.
“I’m not too keen on it,” Black murmured. “At the moment, however, the idea of dropping down from helicopters onto the roof is appealing.” His microphone dropped into place, the shoulder tabs flashing white. “Black to Angel Leader.”
“Angel Leader, go ahead Captain.”
“Destiny, can you do a close fly-by of the top floor of the AG’s building? See if you can see anyone.”
“SIG, Captain Black.”
Seconds passed and then came the Angels. Their engines screamed as they flew towards the Attorney General’s building, and for a brief instant, it looked as if collision was imminent. The bold A’s on their bellies was starkly visible just as they peeled apart and passed the building. They came back the way they came some moments later and then Black’s microphone crackled.
“Angel Leader to Captain Black. Pass completed. We can’t make out the rooftop all that well. I suggest the helicopter makes a pass.”
“Thanks, Destiny. You tried your best.” Black shrugged. “Let’s get to the chopper and see for ourselves. If it’s clear, I think we’ll make a landing.”
“I think we should wait until Blue and Ochre make contact.”
“Okay, Scarlet, we’ll wait.”
Blue and Ochre stood in front of the lifts in the foyer of the building. It was empty save for the two captains.
They had taken out the CCTV cameras in the foyer but there was no way to take out the remainder of the cameras.
“Looks like the lifts are out of action,” Ochre said.
Blue clicked his fingers. “I have just had an idea.”
Blue shot Ochre a look then continued. “How about we climb up the shaft?”
“You are serious?”
“They won’t expect us up the shafts, will they?” Blue said. “Well?”
“No, I guess they won’t be. But what if the lifts are blocking the shafts?”
“As far as I know there’s a ladder that runs the side of the shaft. It’s built so that there is room between the shaft and ladder for the event of an emergency.”
“Right,” Ochre nodded and activated his microphone. “Ochre to Black.”
“Go ahead, Ochre.”
“Captain, we’re going to climb the lift shaft to get to the top. We don’t think the terrorists will be expecting us.”
“That’s a good idea. We’re going to reconnoitre the rooftop. If it’s clear we’re going to land there. Take extreme caution.”
Ochre’s cap mike flipped back up as Blue went to a box on the wall by the first lift and took out a fire axe. He then went to the lift doors and inserted the axe between them. With Ochre’s help, he prised the doors open with great exertion. As the doors parted, Ochre put a booted foot in between and then shouldered one door as Blue shouldered the other. Between them they forced the doors fully open and held them open by placing the axe between.
“Let’s go,” Blue said and stepped first into the shaft. The inside of the shaft had a small ledge lining it. The trimness of the ledge meant that both men did not so much step as shuffle into the lift shaft. Anything quicker then a shuffle and they would fall into the basement levels. Blue took a minute to get around to the shaft ladder. Upon reaching it, he began to climb and a second later so did Ochre.
Black, Scarlet, Brown and Indigo boarded Spectrum helicopter A41 just inside the barriers marking the edge of the exclusion zone. Black sat at the controls and began pre-flight checks as Scarlet alerted the Angels that they would be going up and to provide cover for the captains.
Black completed his checks and started the engine up. The blades above began to pound the air in quick motions. The helicopter lifted into the air and began to climb vertically. Black kept his eyes on the World Attorney General’s building. The sunlight glinted off the windows that in turn reflected the neighbouring buildings. Black then levelled off and guided the helicopter in towards the rooftop.
The rooftop had a cluster of antenna, a box shaped structure that housed the stairs to the roof and also a helipad. Scarlet was using binoculars to get a better look.
“I can’t see clearly into the conference room. Reflection from the sun.”
“I’ll bring us closer.”
Black raised the helicopter so that it was now over the rooftop.
“No one on the roof,” Indigo said from behind Black. “All clear.”
“Let’s get down there,” Black said.
As he began to head towards the helipad, the door of the rooftop stairwell was flung open and against the down draft of the helicopter’s blades three black clad men appeared armed with machine guns which were now beginning to be raised.
“Captain!” warned Indigo.
“I see them.”
As Black began to turn the helicopter, a hail of gunfire slammed into the belly.
“Bloody hell!” swore Scarlet. Indigo was drawing his handgun as the machine gunfire continued. Indigo flung the side hatch open and fired off three shots.
“Close that hatch!” ordered Black. “I’m going to have to ditch.”
Black swung the helicopter around, black smoke beginning to stream from the tail. Then he nosedived past the building. The road before the World Attorney General’s building rushed up to meet them. If Black did not do something soon they would be smeared across the road like strawberry jam. Black raised the nose and slammed on the air brakes. Then he touched down.
The four captains abandoned the wounded helicopter. A few moments later a fire engine arrived to douse the smoke and eradicate any threat of explosion.
Scarlet looked to Black who had his hands on hips and was glaring up at the building.
“We wait for Blue and Ochre.”
“Just past the eighth floor,” panted Blue and lifted a hand from the black rung to wipe his forehead with the sleeve of his uniform. “Two more to go.”
“I wonder what the others are doing.”
“Flying in helicopters.” The two men’s boots made dull echoing noises as they continued to climb. Other than that sound, it was eerily quiet as if the rest of the building did not exist. Some moments later, they passed a sign that had ‘Nine’ written in bold.
“Thanks, Adam,” Ochre grunted as he passed the sign. “Couldn’t read it.”
They reached the tenth floor about five minutes later, both streaked in dirt and grease. The Spectrum officers shuffled onto the slim ledge before the lift doors of the tenth floor. It occurred to Blue that they should have brought the axe up with them to pry the door open, but as he was about to say this to Ochre, his fellow American hit upon the solution.
“I’ve found a manual release for the doors. In case of emergency and you’re stuck within a lift.”
“SIG.” Ochre reached a dirty hand to an unassuming small box on the wall by the doors and flicked a lid open. Blue could not see what was within the box but Ochre was working his hand up and down. Gradually the doors began to part but in jerking motions as if afraid to open fully. Eventually, they did open fully and Ochre flexed his hand.
“Didn’t realise it would have taken that long.”
“No matter.” Blue drew his gun and checked it was loaded. “Ready?”
They moved out and into the corridor that ran the width of the floor. Opposite the lifts were four doors. One was leading to a stairwell, the other three were an office and toilets for either sex. “The AG’s office is down to our right,” whispered Ochre. Even that whisper seemed too loud in the silence.
“Lead on, Ochre.”
Blue followed, keeping his gun up, waiting for trouble. Had the terrorists heard the doors open? Had they seen them through other cameras?
They passed other office doors. Offices with empty desks and empty chairs. The AG’s conference room door was the last on the corridor and to the left.
The door was opening.
happened in slow motion. Two men appeared wearing black. They held machine guns
in their hands –US Army M-77’s – and lowered them to face Ochre and Blue.
Blue dived and shouldered Ochre aside as a hail of bullets ate the carpet where they had been standing. Ochre came to one knee and loosened off a barrage of bullets that forced the men back inside the conference lounge. Then a grenade appeared from nowhere.
“Shit,” was all Ochre said before the explosion came.
Then Blue’s vision swam yellow, then red and finally black.
Black and the others had returned to the SSC that still had their maps on the bonnet when the explosion happened. Black looked up to the tenth floor to see glass splinter and shower down before them.
“God Almighty,” swore Indigo. Black’s cap mike had already dropped into place. “Black to Ochre. Black to Blue. Respond!”
Scarlet was clenching his fists. The rumble faded away but then it had been a small explosion. Scarlet wondered to himself if it was a grenade. There was no way of knowing what it was from down here.
Then a voice came over Black’s microphone.
“Hello, Captain Black of Spectrum. This is Stonewall. I’m afraid that your Captain Ochre and Captain Blue have been taken prisoner. They’re a little burnt around the edges but they’ll live.”
Black’s face hardened. “Release my men and the Attorney General now, Stonewall and then we can talk about your demands.”
“I would say, Captain Black, that you are not in any position to make demands of any sort.”
“I’m sure a deal can be made…”
“No deals. I want a transport helicopter to land on the rooftop within the next fifteen minutes that’ll take us to Richmond. I also want a fighter escort and to top it off, 100 million US dollars. Unmarked bills.”
“Now, now, Captain. Don’t say anything else for I have a gun trained on Captain Blue’s face and we wouldn’t want his brains spilled over the AG, would we?”
“Release my men,” Black’s voice had tightened as if he was now grounding the words out. “Then we’ll talk about the helicopter.”
“Fuck,” Black cursed.
Indigo spoke up. “I can have the US Army on the line within a moment, Captain. They could get the helicopter…”
“No,” Black said.
“Captain?” Indigo was frowning.
Black faced Scarlet. “Have we got another chopper around here? One of our own?”
“Right.” Black glanced at Brown who was standing shoulder to shoulder with Indigo and looking as if he did not want to be around Black. “Captain Brown, just how good a pilot were you?”
“Good enough to be a test pilot, sir.”
“You’re flying us up top,” Black addressed them all. “Scarlet, Indigo and I will be storming the conference room. You will hover above the roof and wait for us to jump out before returning to the ground. This way if they attack us, they won’t shoot the helicopter down or damage it if sat on the rooftop. Everyone clear on what we’re doing?”
There were nods.
“Then let’s get going.”
The three captains were checking their handguns as Brown raced the helicopter into the blue skies over New York. Helicopter A42 had in fact been four blocks away down by where the Empire State Building had collapsed some forty years ago. Brown pointed at the building. “Just over the stairwell, sir?”
“That area, yes.”
As Brown closed in, Black glanced from the co-pilot’s seat at Indigo and Scarlet in the rear. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Scarlet replied.
Brown swung the helicopter sharply across the rooftop of the Attorney General’s building close to the stairwell box. As he did so, Indigo and Scarlet opened their respective hatches on the port and starboard side, Black pushed his own open.
Almost as one, the three captains leapt from the helicopter and landed upon the rooftop by the stairwell box. As soon as they had left the helicopter, Brown applied throttle to helicopter A42 and sped away from the building. Black led them into the stairwell and ran down until they reached the tenth floor. Black paused before the door that led onto the tenth floor. He pulled out his handgun and gave Scarlet and Indigo a silent nod. He opened the door and darted onto the floor. From here they could see the burn marks on the corridor where the grenade had gone off. Moving down the corridor they could also see Blue’s cap lying on the floor. It’s too quiet, Black thought.
“You two go and find Blue and Ochre. Deal with any enemies you find,” Black whispered pointing at the door that was next to the conference room. “I am going in there to find the Attorney General. Move.”
Just as Black and the others began moving, a hail of gunfire blasted into the floor in their direction. Black dived, as did Indigo and Scarlet, against the left side of the corridor, away from the gunfire. He then forced himself to his feet and darted into the office he had pointed out seconds ago. Behind him, Indigo and Scarlet returned fire before going off in a separate direction.
Black swiftly surveyed the office. Small, with one desk, a couple of office chairs… must be the personal office for one person. Maybe the Attorney General’s? But Black had no time for further speculation. He looked at the wall, the one that joined this office to the conference room. Black pressed a hand to it and backed off. Holstering his gun, he then charged the wall and slammed into it. Black was thankful that his swift appraisal was correct as he tumbled to the ground of the conference room in a shower of debris. The wall had been a partition made of flimsy material. He rolled onto his shoulder and came up, gun drawn. He turned to his right and fired at the gunman in the doorway. The man crumpled to the ground, his M-77 clattering next to him.
Black stood and as he did so, he was tackled from his left. As he fell, he heard further gunfire from the corridor. Black hit the ground hard and managed to turn onto his back. He was looking straight into the masked face of his assailant. He heard more shots as he grappled with the attacker. Black slammed his hands into the back and was rewarded with a slight lessening of the grip. Then he managed to push his opponent up using his feet. The attacker stood to meet him; they exchanged punches. Black took his well but gave as good as he got.
As the terrorist fell at Black’s feet, the latter assessed the room.
Sat at the far end of the long conference table was the World Attorney General, bound and gagged. Next to him was a man unmasked and holding a handgun to the AG’s head. Black exhaled.
“Stonewall, I presume?”
“Captain Black. My nemesis. Would it be fair to say that you’ve lost?”
“Maybe but I haven’t.”
The gunshots in the corridor were continuing outside but abruptly stopped.
Black remarked, “Looks like you are all alone now, cease and desist Stonewall.”
“Lay down your weapon,” Stonewall’s voice was measured. No hint of whatever was going on inside his mind. The Attorney General’s eyes were wide, a sense of fear within them.
Black sighed. “You do have me at a disadvantage.”
Black began to lower his gun.
Stonewall began to relax.
Black brought his gun up and fired off two shots. His shots were high and smashed the glass of the window behind Stonewall and the Attorney General. Stonewall was distracted sufficiently for Black to suddenly sprint forward, leaping upon the conference table and running its length.
The Attorney General was rocking in his chair trying to break free as Stonewall shouted, pieces of glass falling into his face. He cleared the debris from his face as Black jumped and dived off the end of the table. He slammed into Stonewall and the two rolled against the side of the room behind the Attorney General and under the shattered window.
Stonewall hauled Black to his feet and pounded him in the chest. Black gasped but brought his right foot up and slammed it into Stonewall’s chest. Stonewall shouted in pain as Black turned –free of his opponent’s grasp – and punched the Southerner across the face. It was after this punch that Black fully realised that Stonewall was built like a tank. Muscled, thick neck and at least a foot taller than he was. Stonewall roared like a wounded animal and jumped at Black.
The two men crashed through the table in a shower of splintering wood and glass. The Attorney General was knocked aside. Black wrestled an arm free and smashed his fist twice into Stonewall’s face but the terrorist leader would not let up on his own attacks. Black was bleeding from his nose but was undeterred in his determination to end this now.
As Stonewall was about to bring his fist down again, Black rolled clear and kicked him; the man rolled over clutching his belly. Black fell to his knees and knocked the Southerner out with one final punch. Panting with exertion, Black rose wearily to his feet.
He wiped at his bleeding nose as Scarlet and Indigo walked into the conference room and remarked, “What kept you gentlemen?”
Indigo moved to the Attorney General as Scarlet answered whilst holstering his handgun. “We were held up. Blue and Ochre are all right. The other gunmen are tied up.”
The World Attorney General was being helped to his feet by Indigo and looking a little shaken.
“Are you okay, sir?” Black asked ignoring the blood trickling down his face.
The Attorney General nodded and ran a hand across his head. “A little shocked but I’ll be fine, Captain. Thank you for your efforts.”
“No problem,” Black surveyed the damage. “I’m afraid we’ve made quite a mess.”
The Attorney General laughed lightly and went to sit down. “That’s the least of my problems.”
Black looked at Scarlet. “Where are Blue and Ochre?”
“In an office three doors down. They’re okay just a little bruised. Nothing too serious.”
“Good. Get them to Cloudbase promptly and get Spectrum security to sort these Southerners out.”
“Those still living?”
Black sighed looking at the fallen gunmen at the door. “Yes, those still living.”
It had been tough but they had done it, just these few Spectrum men. They would continue do so for some time yet.
That much was certain.
My profuse thanks as ever to Chris Bishop and Marion Woods who I like to think put up with a writer all too…something or other. Anyway, thank you once more.
This story and The 6.30 Bullet were written almost after an incredible three years my last story which was I belief SS Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Personal problems, troubles and university work aside I had lost enthusiasm for the show. It happens when I do not watch something for a while, be it Star Trek, Star Wars or even TJ Hooker. Having bought the DVD boxset for twenty pounds this January past I had my enthusiasm back and wrote two short stories in preparation for the three to five ‘big’ adventures I have set aside. I hope to bring back Captain Indigo, end SS Captain Scarlet and do a different take on one episode as well as a crossover.
My interpretation of pre-Mysteron Captain Black is perhaps different to others. The only other time I have done a Black free of Mysteron control was Black As Night when I had him rescued by Spectrum only to get re-Mysteronised. The pre-Mysteron Black holds some fascination with me maybe as he is only pre-Mysteron for a couple of minutes in the entire series.
and Captain Brown appear pre-Mysteron also. Indigo is the same Indigo that will
appear in Spectrum Strikes Back and is the subject of my story
This story was inspired by a couple of things. Firstly all those hostage episodes in series like Ironside, TJ Hooker, Starsky & Hutch, Quincy and the like where the heroes triumphed somehow in the end. Secondly, the real-life embassy siege in 1980 where the Iranian Embassy was stormed by the SAS in order to rescue the hostages within on Margaret Thatcher’s orders. The image of the black clad men abseiling down the outside of Princes Gate and then blowing the window open is an enduring image and one dominant in the back of my mind when I read this.
Though this story does bear relation to the comic story The Labyrinth –which I belief features Magenta- it was not an inspiration.
I used Captain Brown but briefly. I wish I could write a story quite similar to Indigo but I do not want to infringe further on this.
If I have insulted any Ochre, Blue, Scarlet and even Grey fans then I apologise.
I did leave Magenta out.
Maida Vale, March 23rd 2007
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