"We, The Mysterons, will make all Primates on Earth realise the Bald Truth!"
"WHAT?" Captain Ochre screwed up his face and wondered if his hearing was working properly.
"Primates?" Captain Scarlet pondered. He turned to Colonel White, who was seated at the control desk. "Do you think it is some sort of religious attack?"
"Plenty of monkeys to be found there," quipped Captain Magenta.
He was quickly silenced by the Colonel's icy glare.
"That would seem to be the most likely conclusion," the Colonel answered Scarlet's question, "but what truth would they mean?" He sighed, "That's the problem."
"A hairy one ..." mused Captain Magenta, before realising how that sounded. "Er ... no pun intended," he hastily amended.
"The Archbishop of Canterbury's BALD," Ochre jumped in with excitement. "They might be targeting him."
"They said ALL Primates, REMEMBER!" Magenta pointed out.
"They didn't say all were going bald, just that they'd realise a bald truth - hence the Archbishop."
"Everyone knows that he is bald ... He brags about it often enough."
"He doesn't, he just states the obvious ..."
"Struts about with a head so polished, it almost glows."
"ENOUGH YOU TWO!" Colonel White barked. "In case you haven't realised it, the Mysterons do make serious threats - not statements for producing dubious comedy routines."
Two captains shuffled about and went silent.
"Are there any major religious issues being debated at the moment?" asked Captain Blue.
"There's a big debate going on about some ancient scrolls that were recently found in the Middle East; with the usual argument, you know, whether or not they are fakes," Captain Scarlet replied.
"Anything profound in them?"
"From what I can remember, it seems as if it's stuff from the Old Testament ... The bit about Samson and Delilah."
"He lost all his strength when he lost his hair ..."
"Yes, but these scrolls claim that he lost his hair and strength in a sickness and reclaimed both when he recovered."
"What about Delilah cutting his hair?"
"It says that it just came out in her hand when he was fevered and delirious."
"No wonder there's an uproar about those scrolls," stated Captain Ochre. "God didn't take away his strength, Samson was just very sick."
"If I remember the story rightly," began Blue with a frown, "he didn't tell her about his hair from love, but because she continually nagged him ... 'His soul was vexed unto death'."
"Well, think about it ... If you have high fever and you're put under great stress ... Well, your hair could fall out in great clumps, couldn't it?"
"Or you'd pull it out yourself by the sounds of things," Captain Blue grinned.
"Amen to that!" Captain Ochre gave an exaggerated gesture, looking upwards and holding his hand over his heart.
"Girlfriend troubles?" enquired Magenta.
"Older sister with the persistent qualities of a hungry cat."
"Ooh, cats can be one of the most stubborn creatures in existence, at the best of times too."
Everyone sympathised; even Colonel White slowly nodded his head in agreement.
"All very interesting, but it doesn't really answer any questions," stated the Colonel, snapping out of his reverie. He had been musing on the, occasionally painful, head-tapping abilities of a certain Turkish Van cat of his acquaintance. "So I think it would be wise to check out whoever has these scripts."
"SIG," the captains answered and left the room.
A few hours later they were all back in the control room discussing their findings.
"Well, Colonel, it seems that a strange ... Very strange religious order is interpreting the scrolls. It is called 'Simiae Calvae', or in English, 'The Bald Monkeys'," Captain Scarlet disclosed.
"Are you serious?" Colonel White responded, with a frown.
"I said they were strange ..."
"That's putting it mildly!"
"It gets weirder."
"Go on," urged the Colonel, wondering how it could.
"All members of this sect have to have ALL their body hair removed, even eyebrows and eyelashes, and that goes for any pets they might have too; although in the case of pets, they breed those hairless varieties."
"A pack of lunatics," Colonel White muttered softly, before saying aloud, "What's the reason for these unusual fetishes?"
"They believe that the future of mankind ordains it and that hair is an unnecessary waste of energy and a drain on brain power," Captain Scarlet explained, rolling his eyes.
All eyes followed suit.
At this moment Doctor Fawn entered the room, being practically dragged by two Angel Pilots: Rhapsody and Destiny.
"We've figured out what the Mysterons are going to do," gasped Rhapsody. "It's the ultimate in Evil!"
Colonel White raised his eyebrows.
"Tell him, doctor," she urged, giving him a hefty shove in the Colonel's direction.
"All right, all right, don't panic. I was going to say something you know, as soon as all the facts came in," the doctor said defensively, straightening himself up after having been knocked off balance.
"There is NO TIME to waste," shrilled Destiny, "even as we speak this plague might be crossing the Earth!"
"That is a trifle exaggerated ..." began Doctor Fawn, before being cut-off again.
"It's all right for you. Men won't suffer as much, but it is a blight on all womanhood."
"Would someone mind telling me what all this is about?" enquired a slightly startled Colonel.
"Well ..." began Doctor Fawn.
"Yes, tell him." Rhapsody gave him a couple of sharp rapid prods in the ribs with her fingers.
The doctor jumped and pushed her hand away. "I'm trying to," he answered, exasperated; he'd almost added, 'Bloody Women!' "As I was trying to say, Colonel, it seems that ..."
"Oh ... it's terrible, just terrible, Colonel White," Destiny butted in, "they have to be stopped at all costs."
Colonel White waved his hands at the distressed girl. "Yes, yes, I understand, but let him speak."
Doctor Fawn started again. "It seems that there is the potential for a recently developed infectious virus to be ..."
"SPREAD. Spread everywhere," gasped Rhapsody, losing control. "It causes BALDNESS in all it infects, and I mean baldness everywhere ... Even your eyelashes fall out!"
"Really?" Colonel White's mind was back on to the 'Hairless Monkeys' religious sect.
"You don't understand," Rhapsody shouted, "THERE'S NO CURE!"
"There's no need for a hysterical display," he admonished her.
"BUT ..." both women started; both seemed poised ready to spring and shake some concern into him.
A stern gaze stopped them. He cleared his throat. "Now, doctor, does this disease have any serious effects," he waved both girls quiet, "other than hair loss?"
"Not as far as I know, but hair loss on this scale can be serious enough. Eyelashes do protect the eyes and ..."
"People look absolutely terrible without them," Destiny cut in.
"Quiet," the colonel ordered. "Go on doctor."
"The incidence of eye diseases would rise ... even nasal hairs are very important."
A couple of surprised suppressed snickers could be heard.
"You may laugh, but air passing through the nose is warmed by the capillaries of the pseudostratified columnar cells, while mucus secreted by the goblet cells moistens the air and traps dust particles. However, all of this could breakdown were it not for the presence of the coarse hairs within the vestibule of the nose that initially filter the larger dust particles."
"Could that be stated in English please?" Magenta asked.
"Nasal hairs filter out nasties from the air that enter the lungs and helps keep moisture in it, so that the throat doesn't dry out. Try breathing through your mouth and you'll soon find out what I mean."
"Yes, when you have a cold for instance," Captain Ochre concurred, "it's really awful."
"There are plenty of other things too, but there is still another aspect of this disease that is very serious as well. It causes complete baldness in all primates, not just man." Fawn further explained.
"You mean," Captain Blue joined in, "creatures like gorillas, chimps and monkeys would lose their hair?"
"They could freeze to death or suffer severe sunburn, not to mention all those other things you detailed."
"And lemurs are primates too," added Magenta. "They are really pretty animals, especially the ring-tailed ones. THIS IS TERRIBLE, that disease could wipe them all out!"
"MONKEYS! CHIMPS!" shrieked Rhapsody. "FORGET THEM! What about ME? I'd rather be dead than BALD!"
"An inconvenience to be sure," Captain Scarlet tried to placate her, "but you could always wear a wig."
"But monkeys can't," Blue added.
"Will you two quit worrying about those BLOODY DAMNED APES! Don't I rate for anything?"
"RHAPSODY! Watch your language, I won't have swearing in this place," the Colonel snapped.
"Arrgh! It's all right for you men, you can get away with being bald; in fact most of you would look better."
"Huh?" Captain Scarlet choked, the others looked at her with wide-eyed astonishment.
Rhapsody blushed. "You ... You know ... Bareheaded men ..." She squirmed.
"What about them?" queried the doctor.
"They ... They're ..." she flapped her arms, "well, you know."
"No. They are what?" He was greatly interested.
"Er ... Sexy." She was beetroot coloured now.
A group of men and one woman broke down in laughter, even the colonel had a hard time keeping a straight face.
"Never knew you had a thing for bald men," Destiny laughingly choked in her French accent.
"Some of them are cute, that's all," Rhapsody answered defensively.
"That's the reason for the Buddha statues then, you like fat bald men?"
"No crime in being cuddly."
The room went silent, but faces spoke volumes.
"What I don't understand," Captain Ochre decided to change the topic, "is why someone would develop such a virus in the first place."
"Ah yes ... That's the interesting bit," Doctor Fawn jumped in with relish. "Professor Ilsa Sutton has been studying baldness for years and has sought to find a remedy."
"Am I particularly thick or have you left out something Doc?"
"Probably both," smirked Captain Magenta.
"You explain it then," Ochre challenged him.
"I'm suffering from the same malady. I can't fathom why someone wanting to cure baldness would invent something to cause it either."
"It's simple really," Doctor Fawn smiled. "To conquer nature you must first understand it. Professor Sutton developed a virus so that she could study the effects of balding greatly speeded up, but under strictly controlled conditions. She developed this exaggerated virus purely by accident."
"I take it that she experiments on monkeys," Captain Scarlet spoke up, "but can she be so sure it doesn't affect other animals?"
Rhapsody Angel muttered something under her breath about all the stupid concern for dumb animals.
"Yes, she has tested other creatures. Only primates are affected. She has trialed it on humans too."
"Who'd volunteer for such madness," gasped Destiny.
"A religious sect in the Middle East who believe in being devoid of all body hair."
"Simiae Calvae, I take it," pronounced Colonel White.
"Yes, they really suffer for their beliefs those people," Doctor Fawn confirmed.
"Well I don't want to suffer at all," declared Destiny. "That virus must be found and destroyed."
"One of the brothers of that order is supposed to have destroyed it two weeks ago ..."
"Oh no, I bet he's been Mysteronised and that's why they can still threaten us with the virus," declared Scarlet.
"It's a good thing that place is in the middle of a desert, we'll just put a quarantine order on it ... Er, how long does the virus last?" Captain Blue asked.
"It's short lived, about two to three weeks, but that's long enough for it to spread and that agent could be anywhere with it by now," Fawn answered.
"Not quite," Scarlet reassured him, "no member of that sect is allowed to leave without permission. I checked up and no-one has left there in the past month, but a supply truck turns up tomorrow."
"Right, I'll have a team of you down there," declared Colonel White. "I want you there too Doctor Fawn and a couple of the Angels on standby ..."
"WHO?" shrieked two horrified women.
"Danger is a part of your work," he told them coldly.
"It's all right to risk one's life in battle, but to risk one's hair ..." Rhapsody was almost pulling hers out.
"Do you know how much it costs to have eyebrows shaped like mine?" Destiny added.
"I don't believe that two, supposedly intelligent, experienced pilots could suddenly turn into a pair of vain silly debutantes. It's a risk you're going to have to take because both of you are going," the Colonel advised them forcefully.
The two women stared in horror at each other and made low moaning sounds.
"Look on the bright side ladies," Captain Ochre cheerfully told them, "at least you'll never have to shave your legs again."
"I don't have to shave my legs!" Destiny disdainfully spat at him.
"I suppose that's because you're French."
"What?" She was glaring now.
"French women often have body hair sprouting from unseemly places."
"CAPTAIN OCHRE!" roared a horrified colonel. "APOLOGISE THIS INSTANT!"
"He'll be sorry when I pull all the hair off his body with a pair of tweezers," growled the unmerciful Angel, advancing on the mustard-coloured captain with deadly intent.
"Be my guest. Where will you start?" Ochre removed his cap with a flourish, exposing a bald head.
Two Angels gasped, screamed, and dived for cover behind Captain Scarlet simultaneously.
"Do something, Captain Scarlet," urged Rhapsody. "You would be immune to the disease."
"Grab him and put him in a hermetically sealed room," added Destiny.
"Yes, what is the meaning of this?" demanded a cross colonel.
"It's okay, I'll take care of it," Captain Scarlet stepped forward and put on an authoritative voice. "Captain Ochre, put your cap back on - NOW."
Ochre replaced it with a big grin.
"YOU had BETTER explain," angrily declared Colonel White, "or being bald will be the very least of your worries, Captain Ochre."
"I drew the short straw, so to speak, I will be joining the brotherhood of 'Simiae Calvae' today. My eyebrows and eyelashes are only removed if I decide to stay permanently."
"I volunteer to wax off his chest hair," growled Destiny.
"Too late; it's already gone." Ochre cheerfully informed her.
"What, all twelve of them?" teased Magenta, getting into the spirit of things and not daring to look in the colonel's direction.
Rhapsody had already walked over to the hairless man. She whipped his cap off again and rubbed a hand over his head. "See, he looks better, doesn't he?" she stated to the others in a purring voice. "His head is the right shape too."
Captain Ochre gave her a wary sideways look and blushed.
"It's unseemly to drool in public," Captain Magenta told her, "and it is lucky they don't allow women in that sect, or we'd never be able to get you to leave."
"Very funny," she hissed back, although she didn't remove her hand from Ochre's head; he had to duck out of the way in the end.
Later that day saw Captains Scarlet, Blue and Magenta; Doctor Fawn and the two Angels, in Professor Ilsa Sutton's Middle East laboratory next to the 'Simiae Calvae' complex. Captain Ochre was already a resident of the complex, by several hours, amongst other novices.
"I can understand your concern about the virus, Captain Scarlet, but I assure you it has been destroyed. Your journey here has been a waste of time," Professor Sutton told him.
"There has been a threat made to use this virus and they don't make idle threats," Scarlet told her.
"A group who call themselves Mysterons."
"Some people call themselves silly names," she observed.
"Yes ... Don't they?" Captain Blue drawled, slightly shook his head and had only the smallest hint of a smile.
A different thought struck Captain Magenta as he was staring at Ilsa Sutton. "You're a woman," he pointed out, refraining from adding that she was a big strapping one at that!
"Nice of you to notice," the Professor responded with amusement.
"Er ... Um ... I mean, I thought women were forbidden here."
"They are; but this order wanted my baldness-inducing capabilities practised on them, to save them the trouble of continuously removing hair. They made me an honorary man."
"Honorary horse, more likely," Magenta thought to himself and was slightly alarmed when she surreptitiously winked at him.
"But you have hair," Destiny observed.
"I cover up when I enter the complex, which isn't often. I find it funny at times, me all covered up and them hardly wearing anything. You know, those men are so starved for female company that I always cause quite a stir - I feel quite a sex object at times," she merrily remarked, winking this time at Captain Scarlet. He subconsciously stepped behind his friend, Captain Blue.
"All those bareheaded men," sighed Rhapsody.
"Yes, indeed. It is so nice to see some normal ones, I can tell you, and it certainly inspires me to want to find a cure," Ilsa told her.
"When was the last time you saw a hairy male?" asked Blue.
"About three weeks ago. A man dropped in here unannounced; he asked some questions about the order, was interested in my work, but finally decided not to join. Interesting man really, dark eyes that looked right through you and a strange metallic booming sort of voice."
"Captain Black!" gasped Scarlet.
Professor Sutton gave him a quizzical stare.
"Er ... He sort of works for that organisation I just mentioned."
"I see. That explains why he was a bit jumpy. He simply hated me touching his face."
"You touched him!" Rhapsody sputtered in disgust.
"I couldn't resist. It's so very rare to see any growth on a man's face these days, he needed a shave and I do like dark-haired men."
"What did he do then?" asked Blue.
"He jumped and glared at me with such menace, that I explained why I had done it. He had absolutely no sense of humour at all, you should have seen the filthy stare he gave when I offered to shave him, and I swear he made the room chilly just by being there. I had one of my assistants show him the rest of the place ... The incinerators and so forth."
"Was this the same assistant who was supposed to have destroyed the virus?" asked Doctor Fawn, already guessing the answer.
"Why, yes, that's right." Ilsa Sutton smiled at him, giving him a secret wink as well. "He also looks after all the animals here and any novices ... Hmph, he doesn't think there is much difference between the two at times," she ended with a chuckle.
"Guess who was incinerated?" declared Magenta, later on, when she left the room for a few moments.
"No prizes there and we now know the identity of one Mysteron, but are there others?" Scarlet pondered.
"We'll have to get word to Captain Ochre that the man watching over the novices is a Mysteron."
"Why don't we just grab him?" Destiny asked.
"Because we don't know where the virus is," Captain Scarlet patiently explained. "He can't carry it on him, not with those skimpy little outfits, so he's hidden it somewhere."
"Give him to me and I'll torture the information out of him ... Evil little sod!" Rhapsody snarled.
"The Mysterons might just twig that we are on to them then," Scarlet told her in a dry voice.
"Now we have to find someone to get word to Captain Ochre," Magenta sighed. "Any takers?"
"If it involves a shaven head, forget it," declared Rhapsody.
"Actually, one of the girls could cover up in one of those big gowns and get to him," Blue suggested. "Professor Sutton goes in there dressed like that."
"C'mon," Magenta snorted, "look at their body shapes." He waved a hand at the Angels. "They'd know it wasn't her."
"That's true," Doctor Fawn agreed. "Professor Sutton is much more ... substantial, I can see why they had no problems making her an honorary man."
"That's it! One of us men will have to go in her place ... Someone with short light-coloured hair and blue eyes."
An unfortunate Captain Blue felt all eyes on him.
"WHAT! I can't pass for a woman!" Blue exclaimed. "I don't have ..." His hands hovered over his chest region.
"Neither does she," Magenta assured him. "And she is your size, in fact she could almost be your twin sister."
"You're welcome," was the cheerful response.
An hour later a very dishevelled Captain Blue made it back to his colleagues.
"Those men are ANIMALS!" he gasped, pulling the covering off his head and body, whilst rubbing his sore buttocks. "They just reach out and peck at you, even old men of ninety. You slap at them and they just grin and grab at you even more - nowhere was safe!"
"Tut, tut, surely not men of RELIGION who have taken vows of chastity?" Magenta taunted him.
"They are the worst," Destiny confirmed, "they'll try to have sex with anything that moves."
"Obviously. So, Captain Blue, did you get the message across?" Magenta asked him with a smirk.
"Yes and now Captain Ochre thinks that Mysterons have a warped sense of humour."
"I don't follow you."
"He says that he thinks they are on to him and are punishing him. He's had to get down on hands-and-knees and scrub out the dog kennels and when I found him, he was washing, and get this, blow-drying hordes of yapping little naked dogs." Blue laughed. "A little Mexican Hairless was gumming his hand even as I was speaking to him and you should have heard all the unholy language."
Everyone had a good laugh at poor Captain Ochre's expense and made mental notes to remind him of his harrowing experiences.
Later, Captain Magenta saw a figure slip from the complex and go into Professor Sutton's laboratory.
‘It's the Mysteron Agent,’ he thought to himself. ‘Maybe he hid the virus over here.’
He followed the doppelganger - he thought discreetly - through rooms and into the Rhesus monkey area. The monkeys became quite agitated at the sight of the man, although, oddly, he stopped to give a piece of fruit to the largest most aggressive looking beast. The Mysteron then entered a small glassed in antechamber, took something out of a drawer, smiled, and put it back. He then left the room.
Captain Magenta found the drawer empty.
"It is quite amazing how apes and men always fall for the most obvious bait," a voice behind Magenta said.
He turned in time to see the door clamped shut.
"Is this what you were looking for?" the Mysteron agent held up a small vial in his hand.
"Damn, how did you know I was following you?"
"I didn't, but the monkeys did. They knew there was a stranger nearby and became quite excited, I didn't know if I'd be able to remove this from Boris' cage or not. Now you are as caged as those animals and as completely in my power."
Magenta shuddered and knew how a sufferer of claustrophobia felt.
"Do you know what purpose that chamber serves?"
"No," he gulped, but had wild ideas of his own.
"It's used to experiment on animals and ..."
‘Oh God ... I'm going to spend the rest of my life bald,’ Magenta thought.
"Also for euthanasia."
"You wouldn't kill innocent creatures under your care?"
"I will say, to Ilsa's credit, that she hates having to harm any of these animals, but she did have to put down many of them that had become infected with the 'bald' virus - as a safety precaution to others of their species. Don't worry they didn't suffer, as you won't suffer - you will just drift off into a deep sleep from which you will never awaken."
The Mysteron doppelganger flipped a switch and left.
Gas seeped in from side vents and even though Captain Magenta lay down on the floor, he soon felt dizzy and finally blacked out.
He awoke with a start, finding Professor Sutton's face hovering over him.
"You should be careful of places that you go poking about in," she gently admonished him.
"I heard the monkeys screaming, so I knew something was up."
"Lucky she did," Captain Ochre was in the room too, "I'd say she carried you out in the nick of time."
"Carried?" Magenta spoke in bewilderment.
"In her arms; like a baby." Ochre grinned, contemplating the reactions of his colleagues when they heard all about it. "So, why were you in there at all?"
He explained what had happened.
Captain Ochre ran off to give the general alert.
"Thanks for saving me, Professor," Magenta expressed his gratitude while trying to get up.
He was pushed back down. "Not so fast, you have to recover from the effects of the gas; and call me Ilsa. So ... You owe me one, eh?" She smiled and her eyes really twinkled with delight.
"One what?" horrifying thoughts crossed Magenta's mind.
"A small reward, something I've been longing to do to you ever since I first laid eyes on you." She leaned over him more and moved her hands towards his face.
Only the greatest self-control stopped Magenta from yelping as her hands plunged into his hair.
There were frantic Spectrum agents charging all over the place desperately looking for the Mysteron and the virus. The two Angels ran towards their jets; Rhapsody took a shortcut and seemingly disappeared for a while, before emerging from the other side of a building.
"What kept you so long?" Destiny asked her crossly, when both jets were in the air.
"Just something I'll have to check back on later," Rhapsody answered mysteriously.
Captains Scarlet, Ochre and Blue were in hot pursuit of the Mysteron Agent amongst some jagged rocky hills behind the complex.
"Captain Ochre, why are you throwing rocks?" Blue called out. "One just bounced off that large outcrop and nearly hit me."
"I don't have any weapons, do I? I'm making do with what comes naturally."
"Well, you'd make a good caveman."
"He's not hairy enough," Scarlet jumped in sarcastically, "and can we concentrate on the job at hand?"
They all had to dive for cover when a sizable avalanche came roaring down towards them. Captain Ochre started screaming.
"Are you all right?" asked a concerned Captain Scarlet, running up on the scene of a frantic bald figure swatting and shaking his gown like a man possessed.
"SCORPION! There's a scorpion inside this thing!" he screeched, dancing and shaking some more.
An angry pale creature fell out, claws and stinging tail at the ready. Captain Scarlet unmercifully stomped on it, several times.
"I HATE DESERTS!" Ochre's voice was filled with venom. "No water; extremes of hot and cold; rocks, rocks and more rocks; sand in and on everything; and, to top it off, the nastiest stinging poisonous creatures you could ever imagine."
"Well, the nastiest creature at the moment isn't so easily taken care of ... OUCH!" Scarlet's hand had touched a thorny bush.
"See, even the plants are hostile!"
"Not as hostile as I feel right now, let's get him."
They stealthily surrounded the Mysteron, but nearly lost hope when a mean-looking sleek, black helicopter turned up sprouting weapons and started firing.
"Destiny! Rhapsody! Get that helicopter," Scarlet called out over his cap-mike, as another hail of bullets skimmed by. "It mustn't be allowed to land and pick him up. If you blow up the helicopter with him in it, the virus will be blown about everywhere and we're all stuck here for the next three weeks or more."
"Don't worry, we'll get it with the greatest pleasure," one of them growled back.
"Careful, don't make it crash on us."
"Then keep out of the way, they're definitely NOT winning this one."
Seconds later one helicopter went up in a blaze of flames, in fact, it was hit by missiles several times - to make sure.
"That won't stop me from spreading this," the doppelganger told them all from the top of the highest hill, as a strong breeze blew about him. He broke the seal on the vial and started to remove the top ...
A bullet stopped him from undoing it. In his dying moments the Mysteron agent spotted Captain Ochre nearby.
"Make it permanent, Brother Ricky!" he yelled to him and tossed the vial, full of the virus, in his direction.
Ochre caught it in a juggling panic-stricken type of fashion, skinning his knees and elbows in the attempt, but unfortunately he caught his leather shoe thong on some sharp stones and lost balance. The vial shot into the air and was blown against a rock, bounced and was then caught by Captain Scarlet - who kept his hands closed securely around and on it from the second he grabbed it.
"Is it broken?" gasped Captain Blue, backing off - although he noted, with dismay, that the wind was blowing in his direction.
"I'm not sure," was the shaky answer, "but I'm not taking any chances by looking. I'll have to hold it tight until we get back to the lab and hope for the best."
A mad rush back to the laboratory's sealed room ensued; everyone cleared a path and Scarlet didn't unclench his hands until he heard the door seal shut.
"There's only a slight crack," he said with hope in his voice.
"We'll soon know," Professor Sutton tried to sound cheerful, "it doesn't take that virus long to work ... OH!"
A clump of hair from Scarlet's head fell onto the floor. In no time he was completely bald.
Ochre and Blue started to feel itchy and had to be constantly reassured by Doctor Fawn that they were quite safe; in the end, he even had to give Captain Blue's hair a sharp tug to prove his point.
The Angels came rushing in.
"Did you get him?" Destiny asked excitedly.
"Oh ... Captain Scarlet, you look very handsome," Rhapsody cooed.
"What are you on about, girl?" Professor Sutton was annoyed at her. "He looks absolutely hideous and will be for the rest of his life." She gave a big sigh. "He had such nice hair too."
Two cautious hours later, the virus, its broken container, and all of Scarlet's clothing and hair had been removed and destroyed (the Angels saw to that), and Captain Scarlet was still sitting in the little room, with only a towel for comfort, feeling depressed. He had to agree with Professor Sutton's assessment of himself.
It was with great relief, an hour later, when he realised his Mysteronised immune system was finally working.
"I'm itchy. I'm itchy all over!" he sang gleefully, jumping about and waving his arms, causing his towel to fall off. His face matched his colour code-name as he hastily retrieved it, to the sound of feminine giggles.
"That's simply wonderful," Professor Sutton was very excited. "You'll have to stay a while so that I can study all your body hairs in minute detail - no one has ever beaten this virus before. You might hold the key to defeating baldness for all times."
Doctor Fawn came to the stricken man's defence. "I'm sorry Professor ... er ... Ilsa, but he has a ... special condition, an accident of fate which is classified top secret, and in any case this condition of his wouldn't help you."
"What a shame," she sighed with real regret, "I suppose all of you will have to leave soon." She eyed off Captain Magenta wistfully.
At that moment a very irate Head Primate of 'Simiae Calvae' came storming into the room.
"It won't do!" he yelled. "THAT FEMALE WOMAN WILL HAVE TO GO! She's disturbing all my members."
They later found Rhapsody reclining on a lounge, her feet being massaged by a couple of squabbling bald youths and with others on their knees heaping poetic praises upon her. Another crowd was vying for position around the lounge.
"Feel mine, Aphrodite - my goddess; it's much smoother than his," one of the men urged her.
"Yes, you are so right," she purred, rubbing the dome of his head and sighing. "I do feel as though I am living in heaven."
30th August, 2000
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site.