A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons Story
By Matt Crowther
I aim initially to tie up a loose end that was in Attack on Cloudbase. At the beginning Symphony is downed by an unknown craft, the dream follows and shows an attack yet the attack on Symphony occurred beforehand –so what did bring her down?
As the following episode The Inquisition –meant to be the last episode- is mainly flashback, I feel Attack on Cloudbase is the final episode and that this story is a follow-up.
A large portion of this might not be plausible, yet it is possible that the series might have gone part of this way.
This should be coming out not long after my other two stories Black As Night and Assault On London, unlike those two this is not in the same ‘arc’ as Angels of Deception although does touch on the Rhapsody/Magenta thing kicked off in the first three.
Kahra City is mentioned in the comic strip Martian Menace reprinted 1994 and from what I can gather is a human base established after Zero-X’s inaugural flight. Information and details of Zero-X are gleaned from the movie Thunderbirds Are Go and the Zero-X strips featured in the Scarlet comics.
I have referred to a cross-section of the Mysteron complex issue seven of the 1994 comic series, dated January 28, 1994.
“Please state, for the tape, what happened.”
Symphony Angel took a deep breath and clasped her hands before her. “Here goes.” She closed her eyes, remembering. “I was patrolling over the Mojave Desert under the colonel’s orders. The sun was incredibly bright but it did not bother me. Destiny and Melody were further out, patrolling near Los Angeles and Phoenix.” She took a sip of the cool water beside her elbow. “I had banked to return when something hit my engine. I made smoke, not for evasion, but due to the hit and began diving. I had lost control. I reported my position and bailed. The rest is history.”
Colonel White cleared his throat. “Did you see anything? A vessel or a missile?”
Symphony shook her head gently. “No, Colonel. One moment I was flying, the next I was bailing out.”
White glanced at the report written by the American, concluding with her dream that involved a Mysteron attack on Cloudbase in which everyone on board had perished.
“Nothing after you bailed out?”
“Just the desert, sir.”
White nodded to Lieutenant Green who stopped the recording. “Thank you, Symphony, you may go now. Get yourself some coffee.”
Symphony stood. “Thank you, sir.”
Green looked at the colonel. “What could it mean, sir?”
White looked thoughtful. “The Mysterons might be closer than we think.”
Outside, Captain Blue met Symphony.
“So, how went it?”
“As well as can be expected. Let’s get some coffee.”
The Supermarine Spitfire Mark I fell onto its back, the enemy Messerschmitt Me109E tracer fire strafing over but not hitting. The Spitfire levelled out; applied airbrakes flipped its wing to one side and let the Me109 pass beneath before dousing it with tracer from its own guns. The Me109 exploded violently.
Destiny Angel slipped into the auditorium seeing that the movie Battle of the Air was on. She was casually dressed and her blonde hair flowed like a mountain brook over her shoulders.
Juliette Pontoin noticed a shadow slumped in the second from last row; he was in uniform and his hair was black. She realised it was Captain Magenta.
Destiny moved to his row and sat down. “May I?”
“Free country,” murmured Magenta absently, watching the film as a row of Spitfires raced into the sky.
Destiny was distracted by it disappointed she had missed the beginning.
She loved this kind of movie - that showed a bygone era- a Spitfire Mark IX of the Royal Canadian Air Force hung in the Paris Air Museum not far from the Eiffel Tower.
Magenta didn’t move once, nor was he making jokes or being his usual enthusiastic self. It was as if he had been deflated, the life sucked from his soul.
Destiny frowned but waited until the film finished.
The lights automatically came up to show that they were the only two present.
“Is there something wrong, Patrick?” Her French accent made the name sound like Patrique.
Magenta sighed and looked at her. “I can never lie to you.”
She smiled. “It is the French persona. Please, what is wrong?”
“Rhapsody ended it.” Destiny instantly realised he was talking about his relationship with her fellow Angel pilot. She didn’t say anything and wait for Magenta to continue. He sighed.
“I should have known really, I was only in the way of her and Paul.”
Destiny placed a reassuring hand on his left arm. “Don’t worry. It is probably for the best.”
“You’re right,” with an irritable sigh Magenta stood waving a dismissive hand at the screen. “I’m going to my quarters, catch you later Destiny.”
Destiny nodded and after he left, Destiny noticed her wrists shaking.
“Bloody hell Karen! what did you do?” exclaimed Rhapsody Angel staring at the fragments of what had been Symphony’s jet that laid on the hangar floor.
Symphony kicked a piece. “It was not me.”
Lieutenant Purple replaced the piece, as it had been. “Ladies, I’m trying to conduct an investigation here.”
Rhapsody made a mocking noise at the Canadian, who merely glowered in response. “I’m under Colonel White’s orders, want me to report you?” he asked.
“Oh, I’m quivering in my boots,” Rhapsody said. “Come on Joseph, it’s only us.”
Joseph Meyer was a native of British Colombia and his accent was decidedly Canadian, although on occasion he could -and had- passed for an American. Meyer had become the base’s helmsman just after the Mars Expedition. He and Lieutenant Peach handled Cloudbase well enough, despite jibes from friends.
“It is just that I don’t need things mucked about with,” he said jotting something down on his clipboard.
Rhapsody looked around the hangar and sighed. “I’m going off. This can wait.”
Symphony lingered briefly, but followed. Once in the Amber Room she made herself a coffee. She couldn’t understand what had happened to her jet, only that it had cost her hours in the desert where she daydreamt the end of Cloudbase. Even now she could remember, quite vividly, the frightening events she thought she was witnessing: Rhapsody killed early in the attack, a Captain Scarlet who was no longer indestructible, Lieutenant Green cracking under the pressure, Captain Magenta absurdly over-eager and ineffectual. Only the colonel had been as orderly as ever, while Adam… well, he had been just plain Adam.
She jerked herself awake to hear Lieutenant Green’s voice over the intercom.
“Angels One, Two and Three immediate launch. Patrol co-ordinates downloading.”
She was scheduled for Angel Three duty, and made a move for the chair. As she sat down she saw Destiny walk in and wave cheerily. Symphony waved back and slid her helmet on.
Two minutes later she was airborne again.
Captain Magenta did not feel as if he was having an attack of déjà vu as he sat in the radar room, although this was where he had been in Symphony’s dream and where he had, supposedly, died.
Magenta’s eyes were watching the monitor, but his mind wandered over the events of the day. Rhapsody had sat him down and talked things over.
Magenta shrugged, why should he worry so? Magenta had had feelings for Rhapsody and treasured his time with her, for once Magenta felt part of something special. Not that Spectrum was special, but that was a different kind of special. Yet from the outset Magenta suspected it wouldn’t last, what with Rhapsody’s past with Scarlet and the fact that the indestructible captain was more her type anyway.
And English. Mused Magenta with a little smile.
Magenta and Rhapsody parted on friendly terms, they would stay friends. For now though the Irishman had to deal with the wash from the relationship.
He then thought of Destiny, the Frenchwoman had tried to make him feel better but he walked off. He bit his lip, he would have to apologise to her.
Magenta focused on the monitor as outside, darkness fell.
When Magenta entered the lounge later that evening, there was a kind of silence. Not one you could pin down to a single word but the kind that was uncomfortable.
Symphony sat with Blue and Scarlet, with Grey talking quietly with Harmony. Magenta dug his fingers into his belt and spied Destiny in the corner by the window. She noticed him and waved him over. No Rhapsody as she was on standby.
As he sat he murmured, “Someone turn the heater down?”
“Maybe,” she nodded. “Besides, anxiety is building. There is speculation it was a Mysteron craft that downed Symphony.”
“Figures,” Magenta looked out the window at the night sky. “They’ll come.”
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. WE KNOW YOU CAN HEAR US EARTHMEN. WE ARE CONTINUING RETALIATION FOR THE ATTACK ON OUR COMPLEX AND NOW WE WILL ATTACK YOUR OWN COMPLEX - CLOUDBASE!
“That’s it, Lieutenant, put the base on Red Alert. All Angels to flight readiness.”
A whooping alarm, like the old alarms on warships, began sounding with Green’s voice accompanying it. “All Angels to flight readiness and all Spectrum personnel to red alert.”
Magenta stood with Destiny. “I knew it. I open my mouth and see what happens.”
Destiny smiled. “I’ll be going.”
Magenta moved off with Scarlet, Blue and Grey keeping silent as they made for the control room.
Scarlet spoke over his shoulder to Magenta. “You okay, Patrick?”
“Sure. Things are buzzing.” He wiped his forehead, a line of sweat dripped off his finger. Since when was it hot? he wondered. He pushed such thoughts from his mind as they walked into the conference room, his legs felt heavy. Perhaps I am ill - but what a time to chose - at the very time the Mysterons attack, he thought dejectedly.
Captain Ochre and Lieutenant Green were already present. Colonel White waited as the newcomers took their seats, his hands clasped before him on his desk. “Gentlemen,” he began, “I won’t waste time; The Mysterons have made their intentions clear.”
“Sir, we have to be on the alert,” Scarlet said.
“Thank you, Captain, I’m aware of this.” White unclasped his hands. “All leave is cancelled. I’m moving Cloudbase to the Pacific, we’re near it anyway. The Angels are to be ready for immediate launch. Captain Magenta?”
Magenta stiffened. “Colonel?”
“You will maintain a watch in the radar room.”
Magenta gulped, why was he suddenly ill?
“Sir,” he started, acknowledging the order. It was then that Magenta sagged and fell out of his seat.
He felt hands tug at him and saw White’s face swim into view. “Captain…what’s wrong?”
Stop asking me that. Magenta spoke, his voice hoarse, “I just feel faint.” He was placed on the table with his feet propped on a seat and Doctor Fawn was called. He made an examination.
“He’s got a fever. Your run-of-the-mill fever, it should past in a day or two. For now I’m hospitalising him.”
“You do what you have to, Doctor.”
Magenta struggled up. “No… I’m needed in the radar room.”
Scarlet gently held him down. “You’re too ill.”
Magenta scowled. “Pish.”
“That’s an order captain,” White said sternly.
Magenta tried saluting but his hand slid across his forehead he then murmured, “Yes sir, Colonel sir.”
As Magenta was led out by Fawn, Colonel White addressed his officers.
“We must be ready for an attack at any time. The Angels will do four-hour shifts and no other aircraft to be allowed within a two mile limit of Cloudbase. Captain Blue?”
“Sir?” Blue said.
“You will replace Captain Magenta in the radar room.”
Blue seemed dejected. “Yes, sir.”
“Now, we wait.”
Tensions built as night fell over Cloudbase; with an attack imminent no one on the base could sleep properly. Coffee was drunk in quantity and hands shook, not just from caffeine, but with nerves.
Colonel White refused to sleep, despite gentle requests by Scarlet and Green. In the end he dismissed both men from the control room and replaced Green with one of his counterparts, Lieutenant Purple.
Symphony was struck by the déjà vu feeling she had; this was almost how it had happened in her dream, except for Magenta’s illness of course. In the confines of her cockpit, she checked her watch. The luminous dial glowed back. 2350.
The doors to the sickbay slid open quietly and walked in Destiny with her helmet in her hand. Doctor Fawn was in his office, so she moved to the nearest bed on which Magenta was lying. He still wore his uniform and was looking depressed.
“Destiny, hey, what are you doing here?” he asked, straightening.
The Angel shrugged. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m still ill, but I want to be up.”
“I’m sure. I am on duty in two hours.”
Magenta sighed. “Couldn’t you keep me company? The doc’s hardly a suitable talking companion.”
“Sure, what do you want to talk about?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
Captain Blue turned up the radio and gently tapped in rhythm to the music.
It was the same music played by the radio satellite TVR-17 that had been Mysteronised and had tried to destroy Cloudbase during a previous threat. The officers had dubbed the tune ‘White as Snow.’
If Blue had been listening fully he would have initially heard the beeping but then the light came apparent on the CGI screen. It was red.
Blue tapped in some commands for the IFF -Identity Friend Foe- and some symbols appeared next to the blip. He activated the comm. “Colonel, unidentified object on scope.”
“Course and speed, Captain? ” White was calm, ever calm.
“Mach four and course…collision course!”
“What!” the radio fell silent. “Okay, Captain.”
In the control room White balled his hand into a fist and brought it down. “So here they come.” He looked at the waiting Lieutenant Green. “Launch Angel One, she is to make a recon flight.”
“Angel One, immediate launch.”
Symphony roared down the deck into the night sky, after clearing the deck she banked to head back along Cloudbase and received her directional vector from Blue.
Symphony aimed the nose for the distant horizon and accelerated.
White tapped his fingers against the desk, looking at the speaker… waiting. Always waiting.
All Cloudbase -via intercom- would hear the communications from Symphony to base and vice versa. Blue turned the radio off and saw Scarlet enter the room. “She’s going in, Paul.”
“I know,” Scarlet replied.
In sickbay Magenta and Destiny stopped talking as the speaker came alive, “I have visual, closing to six hundred yards.”
Symphony watched the UFO approach her. “Object is circular in diameter and is spinning. A glowing white. Like a bicycle reflector.”
“Symphony return to Cloudbase,” White ordered.
“SIG.” Came the reply. Symphony began banking and went to speed ultimate.
Blue and Scarlet kept their eyes to the screen, there were two blips. One blue -Symphony- and one red -Mysteron. The beeping noise grew. “Adam.”
“It’s not me.”
More blips were appearing.
“Colonel, enemy spacecraft! Twenty plus!”
White’s head snapped back. “What in blue blazes!” he keyed the intercom. “Symphony confirm.”
Symphony’s voice came back crackly, static interfering with the transmission. “Confirmed, twenty plus spacecraft.”
White barked an order, “All Angels immediate launch. Standby all personnel for enemy attack!”
Throughout Cloudbase the drumming alarms -similar to those at Marineville - echoed and compartments began closing. The compartments were like those on ships, particularly those of submarines.
Destiny stood in sickbay, “I have to go.”
Magenta struggled off the bed, he actually felt better. “I’ll come.”
He protested, “I’m going, come on.”
They made for the door just as all hell broke loose…
…The Mysteron armada including the scout passed Symphony without a shot. Ahead lay Cloudbase and this was their target. With an eerie noise they descended on the floating headquarters like a flock of bats. The Angel Interceptors of Melody and Rhapsody raced off Cloudbase, Harmony’s jet was ascending on the aircraft lift.
Quick bursts of red laser shot from the spacecraft and slammed into Cloudbase shaking it violently. Symphony still behind them targeted one in her HUD and fired tracer. The tracer flickered out across the night sky faintly and connected with one, the spacecraft exploded under the tracer fire. Symphony switched to shells.
“Colonel White to helm room, make speed fifty knots.”
“Yes colonel,.” responded Lieutenant Purple.
The Angels, including Harmony and excluding Destiny intermeshed with the Mysterons. Shells exploded in the night sky mixed with red laser always aimed at Cloudbase. Cloudbase’s own lasers picked out spacecraft and fired, careful not to hit friendly aircraft.
Magenta and Destiny passed through sickbay’s doors as an explosion rocked Cloudbase, a section of roof collapsed and walls fell in. Both fell to the floor, unknowingly trapped by debris.
“Fire below decks, Colonel, the emergency teams are coping,” reported Green, sweat beading on his forehead.
White nodded gratefully, “Thank you Lieutenant.”
The base shuddered and a spacecraft was glimpsed moving past the tower.
A Mysteron spacecraft span into the deck and exploded, black smoke billowed thickly into the sky. New alarms sounded and Green reported, “Structural damage sir, below decks. Casualties reported.”
White didn’t respond straightaway and when he did was solemn, “Send emergency teams.”
Magenta came to wearily and groaned aloud, “This is not my day.”
A quick assessment showed that he was stuck in an area no bigger than ten foot by ten foot, fallen masonry had bracketed him in and he could feel heat. A fire burned nearby. He heard a moan and glanced down:
He helped the Angel up and they both gazed at the damage, “We are trapped.”
“This I can see.”
Magenta touched his cap, “Magenta to control, please respond.”
Nothing, not that he expected as much. He wiped his forehead. “Hot.”
Destiny lifted his left wrist, “You are hurt.”
She ripped her sleeve and tied it around his bloody wrist, the blood was quick to stain the bandage but at least it held. “That should do until Doctor Fawn can look at it.”
Magenta sat down and leant against the only piece of wall in this small cubby-hole created by the debris, Destiny sat beside him strands of her blonde hair pasted to her forehead.
“I wonder how the battle is going.”
Cloudbase now leant downwards at the port edge as the port engine failed, the starboard also failed and Cloudbase continued her list. Lieutenants Peach and Purple fought to control the list as in the sky around the base the Angels held their own against mounting opposition.
Captain Scarlet appeared in the control room using panels to help him walk up the steeping deck towards White, “Sir I suggest myself and some of the captains use the spare Angel jets to help the fight.”
White took his eyes off the screen behind him showing the battle and smiled grimly:
“Excellent idea captain, get scrambled.”
Scarlet backed down the walkway and into the corridor before the control room where Blue, Grey and Ochre waited. “SIG.”
They headed towards the hangar and once there climbed quickly into the spare four Interceptors being prepped by the mechanics. The mechanics cleared the area as the Interceptors rose into the sky once the hatch opened.
Scarlet spoke into the microphone on his red helmet, “We take them at will, and assist any of the Angels if they need help.”
“SIG,” chimed the captains individually.
No one asked about Magenta who was absent from the fray.
Magenta unzipped his jacket and eyed the masonry around them. “It’s getting too hot.”
“Yes,” Destiny agreed. “They have to come.”
“They will.” He smiled dryly. “This would happen to me after all that’s gone before recently.”
“Such is fate,” Destiny said. “You could not help any of this.”
“I should’ve seen it coming with Rhapsody. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked… but still.”
Destiny took his wrist to look at the wound. “How do you not know there is someone that loves you?”
He looked at her. “I don’t know. There was someone back in New York, but that was a while ago, before Spectrum.”
Destiny exhaled loudly. The masonry to their left was glowing a dullish red.
“Someone close by,” she said.
Magenta was still looking at her. “Like whom?”
Destiny stretched, feeling the trouser fabric peel off her sweaty legs. It was getting hot.
Then she returned his curious gaze. “Like me, for instance.”
She hushed him. “It’s crazy, I know, especially now, but I have felt like this for a while now.”
“Destiny, I’ve just got out of something. This is rather sudden.”
Destiny put a hand to her face. “Blast. I should not have done told you so soon.” She took the hand away and gestured around. “We are trapped and we might die.”
It sounded cliché and corny, but the debris was smouldering from the heat and it was stifling. There seemed no way out.
Magenta took her hand to reassure her. “I understand, old girl. Right now I say we concentrate on escaping, then we can go from there. And slowly.”
Destiny returned his grip and managed a little smile despite the incredible heat. “Oui.”
She let go of his hand. “How do we get out?”
Magenta drew his gun. “Hopefully as simple as this.”
He aimed at the masonry to his right that was still a grey colour. “Cover your eyes.”
Destiny raised her arm as Magenta squeezed off a shot, then another and four more. The masonry had buckled and he stood, with his boot he kicked at it and it gave way. Magenta stood back and fired at the bracketing debris. He got on his chest and looked out the hole he had created. He could see corridor running past the medical centre.
“We can make it, come on Destiny.”
Together they made it through the hole and stood, here the Air Conditioning was working and they sighed as the coolness massaged them. Magenta did up his jacket and said, “Let’s get a helicopter and get into the fight.”
“Lead the way, Captain.”
Cloudbase became visible to civilian radar as it punched through thirty-five thousand feet with its starboard and port engines gone. Its rate of descent was not enough to cause worry to those onboard, but it would have to be halted.
Around the base the fight continued and now the Spectrum jets were winning, out-numbering the remaining Mysteron spacecraft by a favourable ratio. The appearance of Destiny and Magenta in the helicopter aided their cause, to the relief of Grey and Ochre in a helicopter. A trio of Mysterons had trapped the two captains. Magenta and Destiny saved their colleagues.
At 30,000 feet Peach and Purple restored the engines and halted the descent.
Finally, at least three hours after the battle had started, it ended with the last spacecraft destroyed. Now the personnel returned to their base as the fires were fought and repairs commenced.
The officers and pilots looked physically beaten as they sat around the conference desk, the uniforms of Magenta and Destiny were soiled by soot and Blue brandished a cut on his left cheek after being forced to crash his jet onto the runway.
Morale had taken a punch and even Captain Scarlet seemed particularly demoralised.
“For now Cloudbase will remain at this altitude until repairs are completed,” Colonel White announced.
“What should we do sir?” asked Captain Ochre.
“How do you mean, Captain?”
“Well, we have to strike back, don’t we?”
“The threat has been carried out, we do nothing,” White replied calmly.
Ochre exchanged a brief glance with Magenta, who was sitting next to him; the latter didn’t return the glance. “Yes sir,” he said unenthusiastically.
Magenta spoke to Fawn, “Well Doctor?”
“You’re fine now; the fever was obviously a spur of the moment.”
“Luck of the Irish,” replied Magenta swinging off the examining table. “Thanks Doctor.”
Two days later Cloudbase began moving back up to her former altitude and did so successfully. Repairs were completed, after round the clock work. An air of uneasiness settled on the base, as if something was not quite right.
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. OUR ACT OF AGRESSION IS NOT YET OVER. WE WILL STRIKE ONCE MORE AT THE HEARTS OF THE WORLD!
“What can it mean, Colonel?” asked Green as the message played out.
“I don’t know, Lieutenant. A new threat so soon after the last is unusual. Organise a conference, Lieutenant.”
With the conference beginning, Lieutenant Purple shouldered his way around the table to reach Colonel White.
“Colonel, the Mysterons are attacking Earth!”
“What?” said Scarlet with understandable incredulity.
“Washington, New York, London, Moscow, Sydney, Paris and Futura. All under attack by the Mysterons,” Purple reported.
“My God,” whispered White.
“Hearts of the world,” murmured Scarlet. “The capitals of the world.”
White thumbed a button and behind him, on the wall, the screen turned on and the screen was dominated by a newsflash. The screen showed Tower Bridge burning, wreathed in flames, yet the elderly WWII cruiser HMS Belfast remained unscathed. The sky was smudged red.
Like a scene from War of the Worlds they rained destruction, firing lasers indiscriminately at buildings. One photographer recorded the Eiffel Tower rising from flames in Paris akin to a photo taken of St. Paul’s during the London Blitz of 1940.
Before anyone could do anything, they were gone leaving scores wounded and dead. The Mysterons had upped the game.
“Damn,” Magenta said.
The intercom crackled and Peach’s voice came through. “Colonel White, the World President is on the private line.”
“Please excuse me, gentlemen.”
Outside the captains and Lieutenant Green congregated.
“What do you think is going to happen next?” Blue asked.
“I don’t know but we have to be ready for any outcome.”
Doctor Fawn wiped his hand on his greens and smiled at the young girl lying on the hospital cot. “You’ll be fine now, the leg will heal in a week.”
“Thank you Doctor,” she replied sweetly.
Fawn smiled again and moved on.
The medical tent was situated in a corner of Regents Park, the park and the Marylebone area had escaped the bombardment. Everywhere the World Medical Organisation was treating people for wounds.
Fawn stepped outside to see the Spectrum Helicopter landing on the temporary helicopter pad in the ‘town’ of tents. Blue and Magenta disembarked from the helicopter as the blades slowed and walked towards Fawn.
“We’ve been recalled to Cloudbase,” Blue said. “Order came in half an hour ago, we’ve just flown in from Kensington.”
Fawn nodded. “I’ll get my bag.”
Five minutes later the helicopter climbed into the sky and Magenta watched London; large areas were blackened and bare. It was like the Blitz, only unlike the Germans of that time the Mysterons came from another world.
“Perhaps HG Wells was being prophetic when he wrote War of the Worlds,” Magenta said aloud from his thoughts.
Fawn, seated next to him, did not question the sudden comment and replied, “Perhaps.”
Cloudbase became visible soon enough and was beautiful against the rising sun, silhouetted against a red orange sky.
“Cloudbase this is Helicopter A-Four-Seven, requesting permission to land please, over.”
“Helicopter A47 this is Cloudbase, clearance to land granted over and out.”
Blue brought A47 over the hangar lift and settled on it, within seconds the lift began descending. The lift settled the helicopter in as the ceiling hatch slid over. After it locked with a solid thud soft alarms denoted that the hangar was now pressurised.
Blue, Magenta and Fawn immediately made their to the conference room.
As they entered there was an air of misery, three of the other officers had suffered some kind of heartache.
Destiny’s home had been destroyed in the French capital. Rhapsody’s
own home city had been badly rocked with thousands killed and thousands more
wounded. And Magenta’s New York had suffered massive loss of life with downed
skyscrapers adding to the death toll.
Colonel White had days of stubble apparent on his face and his blue eyes seemed tired as he smiled wearily at the newcomers. “Thank you for coming back so quickly, Captain Blue.”
White clasped his hands together. “I have myself returned from a conference with the World President at Newfoundland on the USN Sentinel.”
No one reacted outwardly, hanging on the next words. White reached to his left from a folder and took out a crisp letter. “The World President has reluctantly ordered a retaliatory action against the Mysteron complex on Mars.”
“Colonel!” protested Scarlet. “We can’t. What happened to Captain Black will happen again.”
“I put this to the World President and he knew this, but he is under pressure from Europe. I have to choose four agents to go to Mars as part of Operation Martian Strike.”
Colonel White fixed Scarlet, Blue, Ochre, Grey, Magenta and Green with steady gazes. “I will deliberate on it, dismissed.”
“Attack on Mars.” Ochre shook his head. “Never knew we would.”
“I can understand it though,” Magenta said quietly. “What with the amount of casualties we’ve sustained.”
Blue sat silently with Scarlet. The Bostonian speculated that this had seemingly all begun with the strike on Symphony’s jet and had now got to this.
Sunset was coming already and no one spoke. Magenta absently kicked his boots in the air over the side of his seat.
Grey fiddled with the fish tank he was working on.
Scarlet and Blue tried playing chess as Ochre watched.
And then it came.
“This is Colonel White, officers to the conference lounge immediately.”
They sat down some minutes later.
“I have chosen the following four.”
“We’re ready sir,” Magenta said.
“Thank you, Captain.” White read from a sheet. “Captains Magenta, Grey, Blue and Scarlet.”
The four mentioned exhaled as one as White looked at Ochre and Green. “I’m sorry gentlemen.”
“Quite all right sir,” Green said as Ochre remained silent.
White looked at the four chosen. “You leave tonight for Glenn Field. Zero-X will take you to Mars Kahra City.”
“Anything more, sir?” asked Scarlet.
“You make a singular strike Captain, once the strike is made you withdraw. For safety’s sake. You take the new MEH.”
The MEH was the new Martian Exploration Hovercraft developed at the Koala Test Base in Australia. Granted, the idea of a hovercraft on Mars might seem ‘out of this world’ but this had been specially built for such a purpose. It was not like the standard Spectrum hovercrafts but a squatter four-man version similar to those hovercrafts of the late twentieth century.
Scarlet dipped his head. “Yes sir.”
White spoke in measured tones. “Good luck gentlemen.”
The officers were about to board the SPJ that would carry them to Glenn Field; as a gesture Captain Ochre had been assigned to fly them out. The officers wore coloured backpacks denotable to their uniforms.
As they made final checks, Destiny entered and called to Magenta, the others didn’t react as Magenta walked to her.
“I know you are about to leave, so be careful and au revoir.”
Magenta stared at her taking in her face and smiled to perk her up. “I’ll return and when I do we’ll have a talk. Is that okay?”
Destiny nodded. “I agree and will wait.” She kissed him on the cheek and backed off, tears in her eyes. Then she turned and steadily walked off.
Magenta himself turned and headed to the SPJ.
As he boarded Blue, sitting nearest the hatch, said softly, “What was that about?”
“Not much,” Magenta murmured buckling up.
The immense hangar that housed Zero-X on the field fascinated Captain Magenta. A slightly angular building with ZERO-X in bold red letters on the front.
“Quite, Patrick,” Scarlet murmured as they watched the airfield approach from where they stood behind the pilot seats. Ochre gently brought in the SPJ and within seconds they were taxiing down the runway.
The airfield was floodlit by various lights around the field and showed the immensity of the place.
“So this is where Black flew from?” murmured Magenta.
“Yeah,” Ochre said quietly.
Once The SPJ stopped, they disembarked with Scarlet pausing in the cockpit with Ochre. “Have a good flight Paul.”
“Sorry you couldn’t come.”
“Just get one for me,” Ochre said with a musing smile.
Scarlet joined his friends on the tarmac. “Where do we go?” Blue asked.
Scarlet shrugged and then gestured beyond the group. “This might be it.”
A van marked ZERO-X CREW BUS came to a stop, the driver leant out the window.
“You’re the Spectrum bunch, I’m under orders to drive you to Zero-X control,” he said.
“Right. All aboard,” Scarlet ordered.
“Paul Travers,” said the dark-haired man wearing the blue and orange uniform of the Zero-X. He extended his hand and shook Scarlet’s hand as the group emerged into the control room.
“Captain Scarlet, Spectrum. This is Captains Blue, Magenta and Grey.”
“Do you guys have names?” Travers smiled.
Scarlet replied, “Sure we do.”
“Well, can I know them? I feel a little stupid calling you colours.”
Scarlet shook his head. “Sorry captain. Security, hope you understand.”
Travers clapped his hands together gently. “Sure, we’re just waiting for the mission controller and my crew. Once their here we’ll get underway.”
As they waited Magenta looked between Grey and Travers, was it just him or did the two look similar?
The mission controller walked in with Space Captain Greg Martin and Space Navigator Brad Newman in tow, the latter two assumed seats with the Spectrum men in seats gathered for the briefing.
The mission controller was grey-haired and known to the Zero-X crew as the MICON. Behind him was a screen that currently displayed the operation name. Travers stood to his right arms behind his back.
“Martian Strike is to commence tomorrow. The short notice is understandable but we have to start almost straightaway before the Mysterons become aware of the plan.”
“Right,” Scarlet acknowledged.
The MICON continued in his orderly clipped accent, “Zero-X will land at Kahra, the process of landing on Earth we be repeated on Mars.”
“Sir?” Greg Martin queried arms folded.
“Lifting bodies will proceed from Kahra.”
“Naturally.” Greg released one of his hands to pinch his nose, it was getting late.
MICON resumed. “The team will then move out from Kahra, at best speed it should take you about six hours to get to the complex.”
Scarlet nodded. “Is that all sir?”
“Yes, we have rooms for you on base. Dismissed, gentlemen.”
The Spectrum men were given their room keys and were scattered as it were, making their own way to their rooms. Magenta paused at a vending machine and got some caffeine-free Dr Pepper before going to his cabin.
The stars twinkled serenely above Glenn Field; amongst those stairs awaited the Mysterons.
“Would you look at that?” breathed Magenta with amazement as he and the others stood at the windows of the lounge in the Zero-X control building.
The spacecraft that would take them to Mars sat on the apron with its massive lifting bodies in place.
Travers entered and they faced him. “Showtime.”
They followed him to the MEV entry room and sat down on the rearmost seats. Travers, Martin and Newman sat fore as the MICON made his last words.
“This is it gentlemen, Martian Strike, the eyes of the world are upon you. Do this for Futura and the others.”
The sled then slid back down the tunnel and slotted into the MEV, the Spectrum men were silent as the Zero-X crew went through the procedure.
The MEV was lowered to the ground and then Travers drove it out to the waiting Zero-X, a look of pride crossing the man’s face as they turned to begin the final part of the MEV sequence.
Lieutenant Green’s voice filtered down throughout Cloudbase and into the standby Angel.
“The MEV has now connected with the Zero-X and is being fitted with the heat shield. The Zero-X is about to take-off.”
In the Amber Room Symphony gripped the medallion that Blue had given to her for her birthday. She tried to think well of the mission but feared for his safety.
Rhapsody absently twiddled her hair with her fingers and thought of Scarlet and then there was Destiny in the Angel on deck. Her feelings for Magenta mixed, unclear about what they truly were.
Colonel White silently prayed for his men. They were as close to White as his former crews had been on White’s commands. White could see Green watching him and said, “They’ll make it, Lieutenant.”
“I know they will, sir.”
Zero-X tested her engines and then Travers’ hand moved the lever down, the mighty spacecraft began rolling forward with a fanfare of whining engines.
The runway began slipping past more quickly as Zero-X built up speed, the silver heat shield adding to the vessels sleekness. Eventually Travers gently pulled at the steering column -yoke as some still called it- and brought her into the waiting sky. Gravity tugged at Zero-X as if wanting her to remain on Earth but she wanted the sky, and the heavens above.
With landing gear retracted Travers and Martin began the ascension into space as the aircraft passed high into the atmosphere the two lifting bodies took off from the main body and flew off for the field. Soon to follow was the heat shield and after it left, the crew were met by the growing blackness of space.
“Zero-X to Glenn Field, we have entered space. Next stop Mars.”
“Acknowledged Zero-X good luck.”
Martin looked at Travers. “Message coming in. Frequency unknown.”
“This is Colonel White, do you acknowledge Captain Scarlet?”
Scarlet’s cap radio had fallen down. “Yes, sir.”
“We here, on Cloudbase, wish you the best of luck. To all of you. Godspeed and may the wind be at your backs.”
The line cut and Scarlet looked to his friends. “This is it then.”
Magenta moved aft to check out the MEH that was in the hold, the sleek hovercraft was blue and white with red rimmed thin windows. The tailfin that stood at the rear had a single Spectrum logo on it.
Magenta sat down on a bench in the hold and leant his head against the panel behind. Scarlet walked in and saw Magenta. “Things all right, Patrick?”
“As well as they can be.”
Scarlet sat down beside him, the deck plates vibrated gently to the spacecraft’s engines. “I know you’re still a little sore about Rhapsody and I want to apologise.”
“Nothing to apologise, I am fine about it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Look, you and Rhapsody had something already. I’m fine with it, just drop it, Paul, and let me concentrate on the mission. My home got struck and I want a piece of these…” Magenta’s voice trailed off and he stood.
Scarlet tapped his boots against the deck and sighed. “Then everything’s fine.”
Magenta didn’t look at Scarlet and exhaled, “Yeah.”
The six weeks were spent planning the attack in detail, they were to travel to the Mysteron complex at best possible speed in the MEH and then make their attack by foot and withdraw.
“Six weeks of this,” Grey had grunted as they went over it.
“Relax there might be a pool for you to dip into,” Magenta had grinned at the dark haired captain.
After a few weeks Mars appeared visually and soon one stage of the operation would be over.
The lifting bodies flocked to Zero-X as the mighty craft began to pass into Mars’ atmosphere, the lifting bodies identical to those used on Earth but flecked with red Martian dust.
They connected smoothly and a heat shield was forgone and so the Zero-X made its approach to Kahra.
Travers watched the runway approach, covered in red dust the manmade structure was made out by bracketing lights that twinkled from the ground.
“Kahra control to Zero-X, we have you on visual. Make your speed 100mph and come in.”
“Copy that Kahra.”
The speed was throttled back the red ground rushing up to meet Zero-X’s wheels and then…contact.
“Airbrakes, flaps to thirty.”
The whine of the reverse thrusters added to the fanfare and gradually Zero-X slowed to a halt before taxiing onto the apron and stopping for good. Travers wished them luck and Scarlet and his team disembarked wearing spacesuits.
Zero-X would remain until the mission was completed.
The MEH was lowered from the hold and once down boarded by the Spectrum men. Scarlet and Blue slid into the front two seats, Magenta and Grey the rear two. A gun was positioned atop the hovercraft and the control for it was behind the rear seats.
“Pressurising interior,” Scarlet said flicking a switch, a few seconds later. “Okay, take your helmets off.”
Magenta unclipped his helmet and smoothed his black hair. “Do we go now Paul?”
Scarlet looked aft at Magenta, “Yep. Our next stop is the Mysteron complex. I only hope this is a success. Here we go.”
With a gloved finger he started the MEH and they drove off from Kahra.
Captain Black stood high on a ledge overlooking the Rock Valley west of the Mysteron Complex. He wore the Spectrum spacesuit complete with black helmet and black gun. It added to his presence. Black had been brought from Earth by the Mysterons mysterious powers.
“Captain Black, the Earthmen have left Kahra bound for the complex, you know what you must do.”
“I will obey the Mysterons.”
The valley towered before the MEH as it sped across the surface, Scarlet looked to Blue who was glancing at the map on his console’s screen.
“It’s the only way through,” Blue said.
“Right then we go in.”
They sped into the valley and immediately silence descended, they watched the high sides and Magenta made out coiled rocks.
“What are they?”
“Rock snakes,” Blue replied.
Magenta remembered now, a documentary called The Day of the Martian. Rock snakes almost destroyed the first Zero-X Mars mission. As he continued to look, the coils become more numerous on various ridges of the valley.
“Guys, I have a bad feeling about this.”
“So do I, Brad, man the gun.”
Grey moved to the rear and gripped the handle of the gun. “Ready.”
More and more lined the ridges, red eyes now becoming visible. The rows of snakes reminded Magenta of the old twentieth century movie Zulu in the sudden appearance of rows of warriors.
“Oh bloody hell.”
“Paul, we have to go faster.”
“You’re right.” Scarlet jammed the lever between him and Blue forward, the MEH shot ahead as if kicked. Then they were rocked as the rows of Rock Snakes opened fire with venomous fire.
The MEH practically bounced under fire.
“Grey, return fire!” shouted Blue.
Grey locked onto the rows and fired back, coils exploded and scattered across the valley.
High above Black watched silently as the valley began to be covered in red dust disturbed by the firefight.
“The Earthmen are persistent,” he said quietly.
“We can’t take much more of this!” shouted Blue to Scarlet; the dark-haired captain gritted his teeth.
“We have to, but helmet up.”
Magenta fumbled with his helmet and watched Grey continue his return fire, the windows showing flashes of flames.
Then just as it soon it had started it finished.
They were out in the open and lying before them was the Mysteron complex. Magenta looked aft through the slanted rear window and saw the Rock Snakes half a mile back watching, waiting, not doing anything.
“That was bloody hairy if you pardon my French,” Magenta rubbed his helmet’s visor.
“I would agree,” commented Scarlet depressurising and opening the hatch, it opened with a hiss and he stood. “Let’s get this moving. Time is of the essence.”
Together the four captains placed explosive charges in their backpacks and began trudging towards the nearest part of the complex, a dome shaped building that glowed eerily.
Magenta clasped his rifle tightly it was a Mysteron rifle modified for use on Mars. So far there had been no need for it on the red planet.
Magenta’s eyes swept the complex. “Don’t they know we’re here?”
“They do,” replied Scarlet. “They just aren’t letting on.”
Magenta played with the safety on his rifle, “I don’t like this Paul.”
“You don’t have to, but we’re all going in.”
Scarlet led the way across the red surface.
“Still nothing from the Spectrum team,” Brad Newman said impatiently at his console on the Zero-X.
Paul Travers folded his arms. “Give them time.”
“What do you think it was the Outer Radar detected at the valley?” asked Greg Martin.
Travers looked grim. “I wouldn’t want to imagine.”
They reached the first building. “Inside we go,” Blue said.
“Do we have to?” Magenta said, “These charges will do just fine out.”
“No. In,” persisted Blue.
The door parted without protest and the four men slid inside, it was multi-coloured almost psychedelic. Pausing in the doorway Grey glanced back outside and saw the nearest power plant glowing yellow beyond that a regenerator.
“Brad, come on,” ordered Captain Blue.
“Right with you.”
“The Earthmen are here. It is time to punish them for their trespassing.”
The Mysterons set to work.
Inside the dome building was unused consoles; the Complex’s original inhabitants had made use of these rooms, but now no one did.
The four Earthmen took off their backpacks and began laying out charges. The charges were small and similar to the old limpet mines used in World War Two but more complex and electronically orientated. The men began placing them against the walls that glowed in multicolour.
Once attached they set the timers for five minutes, more than enough time.
The noise began silently then went into full pitch instantly deafening Blue, Grey and Magenta. Scarlet seemed immune to it but felt some disorientation.
They couldn’t block the loud screeching that penetrated their helmets. The three fell to their knees, tears running from their eyes at the loudness. Scarlet watched the suffering of his friends and noted the screen in the corner with the merging colours, it was throbbing. Scarlet drew his handgun and fired a series of shots.
The colours quickened their hypnotic pace and then under a further barrage of bullets they disappeared and the unbearable noise died.
As his friends recovered, Scarlet noticed the timers on the charges were going down quicker. “Mother of…!”
He turned to his friends and grabbed at them.
“Come on, come on.”
Magenta staggered to his feet and helped Grey out, their boots scraping up red dust. Yet Blue remained down, Scarlet grabbed Blue under the armpits and dragged him towards the hatch.
He reached the hatch and hurled Blue through with a gargantuan effort, eventually collapsing beside Grey and Magenta in a cloud of red dust as the disused dome building, exploded showering them with debris.
Scarlet made sure each of the team was okay, Magenta had blood running from his ears but they could do nothing until they reached the MEH. Upon reaching the Martian Exploration Hovercraft, the captains piled inside. With the hatch closed, they felt relief.
Grey took off Magenta’s helmet and used the MEH’s medikit to clean Magenta’s face.
“Did we get the Dome?” Magenta asked.
“That and two other buildings,” Scarlet replied. “Those charges pack punch. We had better go, I should imagine that the Mysterons would want us dead.”
Blue started the MEH and accelerated darting towards the valley.
“Rock Snakes,” warned Grey in the co-pilot seat.
Blue’s ribald comment told Grey exactly what he thought of the Rock Snakes. Grey grinned.
Suddenly, as they approached the towering valley, the MEH began to shake and Scarlet, seated rearwards shouted, “We’re losing oil!”
Thick black oil was smothering the rear of the MEH and spluttered out.
“Just like Koala,” commented Scarlet referring to the incident at Koala training base in Australia where three hovercrafts were destroyed in mysterious circumstances.
“We never did find out what caused those crashes,” Blue said eyeing the valley before him.
“Nevertheless its happening and I think this time, it is the Mysterons. How is the gauge?”
“The fuel gauge remains the same.”
“Keep going anyway, Adam,” ordered Scarlet.
The Rock Snakes raised their rough heads and began firing.
“Incoming transmission!” shouted Newman.
Martin and Travers emerged from the mess hall into the MEV. “Put it on.”
The intercom crackled and they could hear the sound of explosions and then Blue’s voice.
“This is the MEH, we’re under attack from Rock Snakes! Losing fuel…”
“Adam, watch out!”
“I see it, I see it.”
The line went dead. Travers slid into the pilot’s seat buckling up.
“Going somewhere, Paul?” asked Greg.
“Going to rescue those guys. Belt up.”
Blue looked aft. “Everyone alright?”
The dazed officers nodded. “Nice landing,” said Magenta.
The Martian Exploration Hovercraft was resting on an outcropping after being hurled into the air. Rock Snakes looked at the MEH as if waiting for something.
“Helmets, we’re going to have to walk back,” Scarlet ordered.
They left the MEH and began to walk along the outcropping the Rock Snakes along the valley watching their move.
“Bug-eyed swines,” muttered Magenta.
“Steady, steady,” Blue said.
Just then four snakes from across the valley fired and blew chunks of rock out of the valley wall above the Spectrum men, there were cries and then dust.
When it cleared Scarlet, Blue and Grey were standing but Magenta was missing.
“Patrick!” shouted Scarlet.
“Down here,” came a wounded voice. Looking to their left the three saw Magenta clinging onto the ledge with red dusted hands. To make matters worse, the snakes were prepping to fire.
“Give me a hand,” Scarlet ordered just as the snakes resumed firing.
“Ah blast it!” shouted Magenta.
As they struggled to lift him, a shadow passed overhead and snakes exploded under fire, coils slammed into valley walls and rained on the men. Scarlet looked up and saw the MEV hovering by the ledge, the side hatch opened and Greg Newman leant out he grabbed Magenta and took him in.
“Come on!” he shouted at the others.
They leapt onboard and Scarlet quipped, “You took your time!”
“Hey, we had a busy route.” Newman tapped the intercom. “That’s all skipper.”
“Right, next stop Kahra then Earth.”
Zero-X carrying Captains Scarlet, Blue, Grey and Magenta landed at Glenn Field six weeks later. The four men received a hero’s welcome, if not for doing some damage, then for their effort.
Colonel White was with the World President to greet them home. They looked a little worse for wear, but in one piece. Also present was the American and the Asian Director General as well as Captain Ochre, Lieutenant Purple and Destiny Angel.
Back on Cloudbase, they received a dinner in their honour, which became a party, with the four entertaining various people were stories. Especially Magenta, entertaining Green and Purple.
“So here I was, hanging off this ledge and their firing at me! Hairy stuff,” Magenta said downing his Dr Pepper.
“Hairy,” scoffed Green, “I was almost crushed by a Mysteron construction vehicle.”
“What! Why you…” Magenta began, but Green -his eyebrows raised in alarm - would never hear the rest of it because, just at that moment, Destiny approached.
“Excuse me for a moment; may I have a word Captain Magenta?”
“Sure thing, Destiny.”
She took him outside into the corridor; a passing technician dipped his head at Magenta as he passed.
“I am glad you are back, we were all worried.”
“About me or the whole crew?” said Magenta with a little smile.
“All of you,” Destiny sighed. “It is hard. I am great pilot and yet this is hard.”
Magenta spoke gently. “Just say it, Destiny.”
She looked into his eyes. “I have been dealing with my feelings, it has been two months and I like you Patrick. I hope we can proceed from here, step by step.”. She clenched her hands, “That is all.”
Magenta sighed, “I too have had time to think and I’m okay with it. Like you said, we’ll take it steadily.”
“Oui,” Destiny smiled. “Do you wish to walk me back to my quarters?”
As Magenta opened his mouth to reply the conference lounge doors opened and Ochre stuck his head out. “Hey we’re about to dunk Paul with some water, have to be sharpish as the colonel is coming. Want to join in?”
Magenta looked back and saw Destiny heading down the corridor. He turned back to Ochre.
“Sorry old man, have to dash.”
He left to follow Destiny. There was always another day.
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