Captain Black stared intently at the apartment that housed Vanessa Tarkson. He had been watching the place for a while, waiting for the best chance to strike and still remain unnoticed. She was the next victim targeted by the Mysterons in their 'War of Nerves' against humanity. They were planning to use her Mysteronised copy to assassinate a certain senator that had lately gained fame and glory in his calls for global peace and harmony; he was to open a huge Peace Museum in three days time.
That any human being who knew of their existence would have the nerve to do such a thing in the midst of war made them very angry indeed. These Earthmen had attacked them without provocation and then erected buildings to show how peaceful they were - that made them very determined to punish this particular man.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
"This is the voice of the Mysterons; because of your unprovoked attack upon our city on Mars, we will make sure that the Dove's calls for peace will be in pieces," came the deep rumbling metallic voice over the loudspeaker in the control room.
"That would be Senator Dovecote they are after this time," declared Captain Magenta, upon hearing the latest threat. He sighed, "It would be almost tempting to let them win this one."
"You're going to have to explain that remark!" barked Colonel White, thunderstruck at such a suggestion from one of his senior officers. The other captains were staring at Magenta in shock too.
"He is not a nice man."
"One of the most loved men of our age and who has done more for world peace than anyone before him?" Captain Blue cocked an eyebrow.
"That's what his publicity machine says, yes. Word has it that he had his wife killed ..." Magenta started to explain.
"That was never proven," stated Captain Ochre, "and you can't convict a man on gossip."
"But the World Police did suspect him, didn't they?" Magenta persisted.
"Oh, yes, but nothing was found."
"And what's your personal belief?"
"Tell us anyway." Colonel White was curious.
"He's as guilty as hell and I wouldn't be surprised if he detonated the bomb that blew up her plane himself," Ochre declared.
"This IS the same senator we're talking about?" Colonel White cocked an eyebrow.
"The man whose smiling face makes little children glad that they were born this century?" Captain Blue stated.
"OH PLEASE!" Captain Magenta held his stomach and feigned illness.
"I never believed it either," added Captain Scarlet.
"How could anyone rational believe that sort of drivel about a politician?" Magenta snorted.
"Millions worldwide do," Captain Blue wasn't giving up.
"That's only because the media has got it in their collective heads to promote him to sainthood," Captain Ochre sneered, "and they don't ever like admitting they're wrong about someone they've praised to the skies."
"Interesting ..." murmured the Colonel in a reverie. This surprised the men, usually he would not have been the least pleased by some of the statements that had recently been aired. "Mmm ... I know someone who met him once and she didn't like him either ... She said it made her despair of humanity when she saw people fawning all over him ..."
"She's an intelligent woman then," declared Ochre, "I wish more people were."
"Nevertheless," the Colonel became stern, "we are sworn to protect him ..."
"A wife killer?" queried Magenta.
"He killed more than his wife on that plane," declared Captain Ochre. "Ten others died too."
"So, he's a mass murderer," offered Magenta.
"He's not anything that hasn't been proven, remember that," the Colonel frowned, "and if the Mysterons are after him, more innocent people may die in their bid to reach him."
"That's true enough," Captain Magenta conceded, "actually I bet I know who one of their targets may be."
"The senator's been dropping hints lately about that nurse, Vanessa somebody - you know, the one who saved his life after a car crash. She held his head up and stopped him choking to death, until help arrived."
"I vaguely remember that story," said Captain Scarlet, "What sort of hints has he been dropping?"
"That he's fallen in love with her; the usual type of baloney you hear from politicians seeking warm fuzzy votes."
"He might genuinely care for her," said Captain Blue, unconvincingly.
"Only if she has a price tag attached."
"CAPTAIN MAGENTA! Remember where you are, we're not in some bar room," the Colonel scolded.
"Sorry Sir," he shuffled, "she could still be a target though."
"Right, look up her real name and YOU can guard her."
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Captain Black was puzzled. There was now another man watching the girl, he wasn't a Spectrum agent and he wasn't behaving like a personal body guard either. In fact he was dressed like a Ninja warrior from some bad movie.
"What could he want? I can't make a move while this intruder is here, I'll have to get rid of him."
"No," his masters told him. "Watch both of them and see what is going on, we may be able to turn it to our advantage."
Captain Black always obeyed Mysteron orders; he'd had no choice since that fateful day on Mars, when they had taken over his mind. He was paying a heavy price for his mistaken attack upon their city.
He watched the man stealthily sneak into the building's entrance and disappear into the shadows.
Vanessa had an apartment all to herself atop a small building, next to a beautiful park full of trees, shrubs and wildlife. There were only three other units there, that housed busy people, and so she was all alone that day.
Her first inkling that something was amiss was when she heard faint scratching sounds coming from behind her front door.
"Tim Tam, the neighbour's cat, most likely" she thought to herself. "Probably has a live mouse, or worse still, a rat." Tim Tam, a chocolate coloured Tonkinese, had a habit of carrying live vermin into the building, instead of removing them - an idiosyncrasy that made most people, including Vanessa, laugh. She didn't investigate, a move that almost certainly saved her life.
She was heading towards her balcony when something whizzed by her head, clipping her shoulder and staking a few strands of her hair into the wall. She stood, stupefied, for a second and then frantically pulled her hair from the embedded knife, cutting her hand in the process. The hair broke off with a jerk; knocking her off balance, as another knife hit the wall.
She looked up to see a Ninja clad figure preparing to throw yet another weapon and with a disbelieving shriek of terror she scrambled through the glass door and onto the balcony, quickly slamming the door shut behind her. With relief she heard the lock click into place, but knew it wouldn't be long before the man worked out its mechanism and she was trapped.
She leaned over the balcony railing, it was too far to jump without risking serious injury. Her head whipped around at the sound of banging on the glass.
"Oh God, he got through my front door, that lock won't be a problem at all!" she mentally screamed to herself.
She knew there was no point in yelling for help, none was available; she had never felt so isolated. She eyed off the swimming pool. "Could I jump that far?" she pondered. In any case it was better than doing nothing, she climbed over the railing and at the last moment spotted the down spouting. Quick as a flash she leapt onto that instead. The intruder was reaching her just as she heard an ominous crack and fell backwards, screaming, still desperately clinging to the pipe.
She came to a jarring stop, lost her grip and fell into the swimming pool. It was empty; her last minute change had saved her many broken bones. She hauled herself out in time to see the man race out of the building and towards her again.
"Oh, no," she whimpered and raced to the other side of the pool. She kept it between her and her attacker as he tried to catch her - he was very determined. She wondered how long she could keep up the cat-and-mouse game.
"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?" she screamed at him in complete bewilderment and frustration, when he had stopped for a while - seemingly to get his breath.
In answer he pulled out yet another knife ...
That was enough; she took off into the nearest bushes and heard the knife go 'twang' in a nearby tree. Fear had given her wings and she raced through the trees, dodging trunks and branches, skipping logs, but still hearing the sounds of running steps getting closer and closer to her. She had a momentary reprieve by running through some low whippy branches, which stung her assailant's eyes, but he was right behind her again in no time.
She rounded a corner and ran smack bang into another man dressed in black, who had seemed to materialise out of nowhere. She had barely time to take in his pallid features and dark cold eyes before she was pushed aside and the sound of a gunshot vibrated in the air. She regained her footing, turned around and stumbled back to see what had happened. She saw the Ninja clad man lying on his back with a neat bullet hole between his eyes.
"Who is he? Who are you? What is going on?" she anxiously asked, shaking her saviour's shoulder at the same time.
The reverberating sound of a distant helicopter could be heard. The man cocked his head and listened for a few seconds and then turned to her.
"Come, we must go," he growled in a deep ominous voice, then grabbed her arm and started walking.
"WHOA ... WHOA ... I'm not going anywhere with you." To her this man was almost as spooky as the deceased Ninja.
"Do you want to wait for more?"
"MORE?" she gasped.
"Yes, there are more men arriving."
"WHAAA! Lead the way, get me out of here!" She couldn't leave quick enough now.
He took her to a black car and they left together. From the car window she could see that the helicopter was landing near her place and she was silently grateful for her close escape. She was too far away to see the Spectrum symbol on the side of the flying machine, but it wouldn't have meant much to her in any case.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Captain Magenta had just realised how late he was. He found the knife with the hair and blood on it and the dead man; then he suspected the worst. He quickly called back his suspicions to headquarters and told them to be on the lookout for Vanessa's doppelganger anywhere near the senator. The man in the Ninja outfit still had him puzzled, until he removed the covering from the man's head, recognised him and then he was even more perplexed. He did have one piece of luck though: a black car had been spotted speeding away not far from there by a couple of eager-eyed boys; would-be detectives no doubt. They had told Magenta, in very excited shrill voices, how they had seen Miss Tarkson in the car and that she was the woman everyone had been talking about lately. They also gave him a description of the driver, the make and model of the car and every other minor detail they could think of, in fact, Magenta ended up having trouble, both in getting away from them and in reporting to Cloudbase what he'd found out.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
"All right, all right, I WANT some answers," demanded Vanessa, starting to lose her patience. "You drove me all the way over here in silence, you drag me into this ... this ..." she glanced about at the sparsely furnished room, "this empty shack and you still won't tell me anything."
"What do you want to know?" The dark cold eyes were looking at her without expression.
"Urgh! What do you think? Who was that man?"
"You don't know?"
"No, should I?"
"It was you he was trying to kill."
"I was hoping you'd tell me."
"How would I know? I don't know of anyone who'd want to kill me in such a dramatic fashion, I'm not that important."
"Aren't you?" Captain Black gave her a narrow-eyed stare, as if to say 'LIAR'.
"Just what do you mean by that?" Vanessa bristled at the insinuation.
"My ..." she glared and bristled some more, with flushed cheeks and brightened eyes. "Senator Dovecote, that's who you mean - isn't it? What about it?"
"Yes, IT!" She stomped her foot. "I'm not going to call that vile creature a him."
The man in black was about to say more, but he suddenly froze, lifted his head and stiffened. "We're not alone," he growled.
"What?" a chill went down her spine.
She stood dumbfounded; that is, until she found herself shoved into an empty cupboard.
After the longest time she heard the door of the shack creak open, followed by a couple of stealthy footsteps, a cracking clonk, a grunt, and then a thud as something hit the floor. She crept out of her hiding place only to see a man in a pinkish and grey uniform handcuffed to a bar on the wall; he was unconscious.
"Who is he? What did you hit him for?" Vanessa ran over to the injured man and knelt down beside him. "Oh ... look," she touched his head, "he's going to have quite a bump here and it will hurt when he wakes up."
"He should count himself lucky to still be living," intoned the ominous voice.
A moan and a slight stirring caught her attention; the man was coming to. His eyes fluttered and he stared straight at her.
"Vanessa Tarkson?" he groggily asked.
"You know who I am?" she answered with surprise.
"I know of your original."
"You don't have to play dumb for me, I've been to your apartment, I saw the blood and I know you are a Mysteron copy. The only question is; 'Why am I still alive?'"
"Your injury must be worse than I imagined," she touched his sore spot.
"OUCH! Do you mind? Is it your intention to torture me? What is it you want?"
"All I want are answers, from either you or him." She tossed her head to indicate the man in black.
He followed her direction and gasped, "CAPTAIN BLACK!"
"Your powers of observation do you credit, Captain Magenta."
"You two know each other?" Vanessa was wide-eyed.
"He's a Mysteron terrorist," explained Magenta, "as you well know."
"It is you Earthmen who are the terrorists," shot back Black.
"Earthmen?" Vanessa choked. She stared back at Captain Magenta with alarm. "Does he think he is an alien or something?" she loudly whispered.
"He's controlled by aliens."
"You're as mad as he is."
"You must be a Mysteron too, or else you wouldn't be here running loose."
"I don't understand you or any of this. First some madman in a idiotic Ninja costume tries to kill me, another madman brings me here and won't tell me why and now yet another madman in pi.. er, magenta tells me all sorts of improbable nonsense. I could almost believe this was all some sort of sick joke instigated by that wretched Senator Dovecote, if it wasn't for this cut on my shoulder." She gingerly touched the area.
"Wait!" Magenta sputtered, "There IS blood on your shoulder, give me a look at your skin."
"NO. I'm not taking my top off for you to have a good perve," she stated indignantly.
"I want to see if you actually have a cut there or not."
"Of course I do. That knife just clipped me and caught some of my hair on the wall. I cut my hand a little pulling my hair out." She held up her right hand and a little slash could be seen.
"My God, you're real ... I mean, not a doppelganger at all."
"Of course I'm not a ghost, you idiot."
"I meant that in the sense of a double. Mysterons can make an exact double of a person that becomes fully under their control."
"Mysterons again, huh? Are they little green men from Mars?" She had a definite mocking tone in her voice.
"They ARE from Mars and no one knows what they look like."
"Very funny. Now we are being invaded by invisible men ..."
"You would do well not to make fun of superior beings, Earthwoman," the irate metallic voice of Captain Black told her.
"Haven't you noticed his voice, Girl?" Captain Magenta sternly told her, hoping she wouldn't get them both killed.
"Of course. The poor man obviously has had radical surgery done on his throat and had an electronic voice modulator fitted. Some don't take too well, but I'm not unkind enough to ask about such personal details from strangers. I think that's what may have driven him over the edge," she harshly whispered the last bits. "He's very ill."
"Look at him, he hasn't had anything done to his throat." Magenta didn't add, 'though many would like to throttle it,' - he could see no point in provoking the Mysteron Agent.
She gave him a pitying look. "You don't have to cut someone's throat from ear to ear to do surgery on it, not these days."
Magenta groaned in despair.
"You poor dear; it's hurting again, isn't it?" She gently rubbed his head. "Don't lean your head against the wall like that, it'll hurt more." She carefully pulled his head forward.
"Get out of here and run for your life," he urgently hissed in her ear.
"Don't be stupid; I'm a nurse, I couldn't leave you here with an injury."
"Like your senator."
"He's not my senator and I didn't know who he was in that accident - a person looks quite different with blood all over his face." She took out a handkerchief and wiped his brow. "You're sweating."
"You're a very nice woman and I'm helpless to save you." In exasperation he turned to Captain Black. "Look, Black, even you Mysterons can see how harmless she is, let her go. She's no threat to you, she's no threat to anybody."
"She was certainly a threat to someone today," Captain Black pointed out.
"He's not going to harm me, silly. He saved my life," Vanessa halfheartedly scolded him.
"Then they have something deeper in mind," Magenta declared, averting his attention to the Mysteron agent.
"You are smarter than you give the appearance of being," stated Black.
"Hey! Don't be rude. He doesn't strike me as being dumb, good looks doesn't ALWAYS equal stupidity," Vanessa told him defensively.
"Your senator would kill him if he heard you say that."
"I wish you two would drop that moron as a subject. I can't stand the man ... creature ... THING."
"He's actually right, you know." Captain Magenta, in his wildest dreams, never thought he'd be agreeing with Mysterons. "Senator Dovecote doesn't like competition, real or imagined."
"Well he certainly makes me regret having saved him, that's for sure." She sighed and changed the topic herself. "Who are you, anyway and why are you here?"
"I was sent here to guard you," Magenta explained.
"Against whom? Do you know who that Ninja fool was?" she eagerly asked.
"Against Mysterons, against him," he nodded towards Captain Black.
"You didn't do too well and he seems to think that you're the baddie."
"They are sworn to destroy all civilization, please believe me - it's part of my job to protect it."
She tried not to let pity and concern show on her face. "I would think if that were the case they wouldn't waste their time with me, now would they?"
"It's not you, it's the senator they want."
"Then everyone is wasting his time with me and it doesn't explain that ridiculous looking Ninja-clad man with the overabundance of knives. Who was he?"
"You're joking?" she gasped.
"You know him?" he sat up with interest, bumped his head and yelped.
"Careful," she rubbed his head again and got back onto the previous topic. "He's that long-distance runner ... no wonder I couldn't outrun him, and I can run very fast with incentive." She gave a big shiver at the thought of how close she had actually come to death. "He works for Senator Dovecote ..." She trailed off lamely and sat herself next to Captain Magenta, with her back to the wall and her knees pulled up to her chest as the thought really sank in.
"Now I'm even more confused, why would the senator want you dead? He's been going on lately about how much he loves you."
She pulled a face. "I know and it makes me sick. IT ISN'T AS IF I'VE ENCOURAGED THE CREEP. Everyone seems to think I should be happy about it; you should see the fan mail I've been getting lately. Why I ..."
She had been cut off by Captain Black barking at her. Both people on the floor stared at him; he seemed to go into a trance.
"He's communicating with his masters," Magenta whispered to her. "Now's your chance to escape."
"DON'T EVEN THINK IT!" Black glared at the both of them.
"Do you mean to say," Vanessa snorted, "that you would stop me from leaving, even if I wanted to?"
"Believe it or not, Earthwoman, it's for your own safety."
"Since when have you Mysterons cared about the safety of anyone here on Earth?" Magenta scoffed.
"Since it has been in our best interests to."
"How's that?" Vanessa queried with a frown.
He flipped open a portable television and selected a channel.
"We are coming live from Fairview where in three days time Senator Dovecote will open the Universal Peace Museum," a commentator on the TV said. "The senator has requested our presence earlier because he says he has an important announcement to make ..."
"What? he's going to try to be honest for a ten minute stretch," Vanessa sneered sarcastically. "All right, all right, I'm listening. You don't have to scowl at me like that," she told the Mysteron agent.
The voice on the screen continued, this time addressing the lady sitting next to him. "I must say, Sally, I've never seen the great man look so upset. I wonder if something's amiss with his museum."
"Nothing as far as I know Rob, everything there seems to have gone like clockwork. This is to be his greatest gift to mankind, but we all know that it's the senator himself that is mankind's greatest gift."
Vanessa and Captain Magenta made scoffing noises simultaneously.
The talk on the TV continued, describing all the senator's great achievements in life.
"Hey, look! There's a man in green with a uniform just like yours," Vanessa told Magenta excitedly. "See, just behind the senator." She ran up to the television and pointed, "See there, picking his nose."
"Lieutenant Green is not picking his nose, he's talking into his cap-mike ... Probably wondering where-the-hell I've gotten to," Magenta spoke glumly.
"And there, a man in grey ..."
"Another Captain, like you are? Oh ... way over there, squashed between two fat women, is that Captain Yellow, no Mustard ..." She gave a little giggle. "Colonel Mustard from that kid's game of 'Clue.'"
"Captain Ochre," he told her firmly, but to no avail. He saw the murderous look Captain Black was giving her. "Sit down and see what the fool has to say for himself, will you?"
"OK, Professor Plum," she teased and walked back to him, eyes twinkling.
"SSSH!" he hissed in desperation.
"Is there a Captain Aqua? That's my favourite col ... EEK!" She found herself unceremoniously dumped back on the floor by Black, next to Magenta.
"Stay there Earthwoman and SHUT UP!" Black yelled furiously at her.
"Grump," she shot back and then clammed up to the iciest stare she'd ever seen.
"Here's Senator Dovecote now," the announcer said with excitement on the television screen.
Captain Black turned his attention back to it and Captain Magenta heaved a huge sigh of relief; he had never felt so powerless in his life. That mad exasperating girl was getting to him and for a horrible moment he thought he was going to see her killed before his eyes.
"My fellow peoples of Earth," the senator started, to the sound of applause, "it has always been my greatest pleasure to serve humankind to the very best of my ability, even if that has fallen short of what you have all deserved." The crowd yelled out reassurances and the senator put on a humble expression.
"I have to admit, he's one hell of an actor." Captain Magenta couldn't stop his thoughts becoming words.
Vanessa nodded in silent agreement, eyes still glued to the screen.
"It had been my intention upon opening the museum in three days time to announce my forthcoming wedding to Vanessa Tarkson, that sweet Angel-of-Mercy who saved my life ..." The crowd went wild.
"In your dreams, Scumball," Vanessa muttered.
The senator held up his hands to quieten the cheering throngs. "My sweet darling Vanessa had accepted my humble hand and ..."
"YOU LYING LOWLIFE TOAD!" Vanessa shot to her feet and screamed at the screen. "I told you to take your slimy pox-ridden body out of my life! Why, you ..."
"Vanessa, Please, Sit," Magenta called out desperately. He could see that Black was still giving her another ferocious glare.
"But, he's lying."
"I know. I believe you; now sit, PLEASE."
Still grumbling, she obeyed; but with folded arms in a defensive posture.
"I can still feel the impression of her lovely honey-dewed lips upon mine ..." Senator Dovecote continued.
"I'd rather drink poison," Vanessa snarled.
A tear trickled down the senator's cheek and the crowd shuffled and went silent.
"But - sob - I've just received word ... OH GOD!" he turned away from the podium, seemed to take a hold of himself and turned back to the stunned crowd. "My Vanessa, My Dear Darling Angel, My Princess, My Future Lifetime Companion - sniff - ..." he wiped another tear away, "who said her greatest wish was to be the mother of my children .."
"OH YUK! Now I feel seriously ill!" Vanessa clutched her stomach and dry-reached.
"A bloodthirsty, ruthless, vicious terrorist group, whose aim is to destroy all that is good and pure in this world of ours, a warmongering tribe of savages who have yet to learn the basics of decency ..." he was abruptly cut off by an aide whispering urgently in his ear, the same aide who had been consulting with Lieutenant Green a few seconds before.
"I have just been told to tone down my comments, so as not to upset these low-intelligence, barbaric life-forms, but as you'll soon find out, I'm quite justified with my description." He held the podium with both hands, leaned forward and glared out at the crowd. "They threatened MY life."
The mob went ballistic with howls of outrage.
"Well, at least he's telling the truth in describing the terrorist group," Vanessa commented dryly.
"Explain Earthwoman?" glittering dark cold eyes cut through her.
"Isn't it obvious?" she snorted and then noted the look she was receiving. "I see it isn't. Look, he's describing himself - I'll explain later." she turned her head back to the screen images.
"Worse than that, My Fellow Lovers of Peace, they kidnapped and murdered, yes murdered, My Beloved, My Vanessa." A great gasp of horror met those words. "A major part of my life has been ripped away, stolen forever from me - sniff - ... I don't know if I can carry on ..." He broke down in great shuddering heaving sobs of tears. The great man was led away by sympathetic aides.
"Well there you have it," spoke the voice of a commentator, "a terrible thing has happened. That it should happen to the greatest man of this century just stuns me, this is such a catastrophe ... All one can hope for is that this doesn't stop Senator Dovecote from continuing his great work for humanity ..."
"Oh Please, shut if off!" sputtered Vanessa, "I can't stand any more, this is the limit."
Captain Black complied with her request, leaned against the wall, folded his arms and stared at her.
"Why does he want you dead and why do you hate him so much?"
"Don't tell him Vanessa," Captain Magenta told her, "He'll use the information to his advantage."
"Silly man," she elbowed him. "The information I have about him I'm going to make public, I intended to anyway and now after all that rot he's been going on about, you won't be able to stop me." She turned back to Black. "If you ever had to nurse him, wipe his fevered brow and all that mythical stuff, well, you wouldn't have asked that question. He talks in his sleep. At first I didn't take much notice, he'd go on about terrorists, illegal governments and arms deals and of course, like everyone else, I though he meant it all in a sense of fighting against such things. There was a name he'd say over and over connected with all that and it was only when he announced the opening to the new museum that all the pieces slid into place. The same man is going to run it."
"Vladamir Buisky!" gasped Magenta.
"Yes. It's an old trick, I suppose, but it's still clever. Pretend to be against what you really do stand for ... A peace museum of great fame really supplying its enemies. Who'd suspect it of him?"
"And you told him your suspicions?"
"Not outright. I did call him a hypocrite when he asked me to marry him; but then again I called him lots of other names too."
"Gee, you really do despise the man."
"Yes, you get a sense of what someone is like when you see him day after day and you see his friends. The things he found amusing," she shuddered, "he has a very cruel streak in him. He's one of those people that makes you ashamed to be human."
"Ha, very well put; but unfortunately lots of politicians are like that."
"So true ... He reminds me of that quote of Disraeli's, only I'll change it to suit myself: 'When you look at Senator Dovecote you may begin to comprehend how the Egyptians could worshipped an insect.'"
Captain Magenta gave a chuckling snort and added, "Except a dung beetle has a more useful function in life."
Vanessa giggled. "They take away from the heap what people like him add to it." She became serious again. "Another thing; that creep now seems to think that he owns me because I saved his life. He said I was responsible for him still being here and that I should watch over him forever. Ever heard such nonsense? He even tried to buy me ... ME! As if anything he could offer would change my opinion of him. He was surprised when I didn't accept, he said everyone had a price and I disagreed very strongly. He even carried on about the wonderful publicity it would create and how much I'd get out of it ... I just couldn't get it through his thick skull that the answer was NO. He kept sending that man, Calvin Greenshanks, around with higher offers all the time, it was just ridiculous."
"How high did he go?" Captain Magenta was very curious.
"You won't believe me, I know I wouldn't."
Magenta whistled. "Maybe he does love you."
"Don't be so daft, he would be incapable of such an emotion. He told me himself how many extra votes he'd get if he had a huge wedding while still in office and if he married a woman who had saved him ..." She shrugged. "A common woman for common votes."
"He said THAT?"
"Did you hit him?"
"I didn't have to." She smirked at the memory. "Never, EVER, insult someone who is watering plants with a hose."
"Good on you," Magenta grinned, despite being where he was.
"He stepped back into the pool ... the deep end." She giggled. "Luckily he could swim, as I wouldn't have wanted to save him a second time and I would have had that terrible temptation of not wanting to."
"What are you going to do about him now?"
"Denounce him at the first opportunity."
"He will kill you first, Earthwoman," the harsh voice of Black told her.
"He won't know until I do it, unless, of course, you work for him," she answered.
"The Mysterons DO NOT work for any Earthman," Captain Black indignantly hissed back at her.
"You don't have to be so touchy, a simple 'no' would have sufficed." She was unperturbed by the cold stare she received; she was getting used to them. She then turned to Captain Magenta, who was still sending silent prayers for her safety, and asked him, "Does your organisation work for him? I know you don't like him, but your work colleagues were with him."
"The Mysterons have threatened him and whomsoever they threaten we have to make the effort of defending; even on occasions, people we might personally dislike," he told her.
"I see." She tilted her head. "What was the threat?"
"The Dove's calls for peace will be in pieces."
"Wow! They were right, they must be psychic. His reputation will be in pieces by the time I've finished with him."
"It won't be easy convincing people that their great saint is a sinner."
"No. I'll have to do something dramatic."
"Next time all the cameras are on him, I'll turn up and tell everyone what he is really like. I'll really lay into him for all those lies, the media just simply won't be able to resist turning against him and pretending they were suspicious of him all the time."
"You still may end up the most hated woman on Earth," Magenta cautioned.
"And what would I be if I did nothing, knowing what I do?" She countered.
"Yes, I understand ... the threat to your life wouldn't go away either. Hmph, he will be shocked to find out you are still living."
She grinned wickedly. "Yes, won't he? He said I'd been murdered and the fact that I am still very much alive will help prove what a liar he is."
"He'll be shocked enough to have a heart attack, I'd say."
She froze. "That's just the sort of low-down thing he'd do too, the mongrel. Well, this time, someone else can damn well save him ... a man perhaps."
They both looked at each other, smirked and then broke down into laughing fits.
"How very entertaining the pair of you are," Captain Black told them with a steely gaze. "You can have your chance, Earthwoman, in two hours time."
"How could you possibly know that?" she sprang to her feet and walked towards him.
"The Mysterons just told him, they listen in to media reports and they've just relayed the message." Magenta was getting worried again. "Keep away from him."
"You actually do believe all that alien stuff, don't you?"
"I know it to be true. Please believe me, I know it sounds improbable, but it's true."
"If that's right and all those mad ridiculous rumours are right, then I can speak to other intelligent beings from another world through him ... Wow!" The immensity of the thought struck her. "I just have so many questions ..."
"Hostile beings, Vanessa."
"But do they have to be?" she asked, giving Captain Black a searching gaze.
The room's door was suddenly kicked in and Captains Scarlet and Blue burst through, guns at the ready. Vanessa was standing between them and Captain Black, she spun around to face them.
"DON'T SHOOT HER!" screamed Captain Magenta, "DON'T SHOOT! SHE'S NOT ONE OF THEM, SHE'S STILL ALIVE. HOLD YOUR FIRE!"
"Step away from him," Scarlet told Vanessa in low tones, creeping closer with his gun still aimed in her direction.
"Do as he says Vanessa," Magenta almost sobbed. "Just do it!"
"Do you mean to harm him?" she asked Scarlet.
"Not if he gives himself up, and then perhaps we will be able to help him escape the evil Mysteron influence."
"You call us 'evil' Captain Scarlet, yet you would destroy us if you could," the Mysteron agent spoke. "In answer to your question Vanessa Tarkson, yes, we do have to be hostile - for as long as your world threatens us, we will punish you without mercy."
"But ..." Vanessa started, but Captain Black just seemed to vanish. "Wait," she called out and ran to the place he had been standing, "Wait, come back ... it doesn't have to be ... and I didn't thank you," she finished sadly, feeling lost.
"Thank him?" choked Captain Scarlet in wonderment.
"Yes." She was feeling irritated now, and when Vanessa was irritated she didn't hide it. "What did you two have to come barging in here like that for? You frightened him away."
"Be thankful we did," snapped Captain Blue, mightily annoyed at her attitude. "That man's a killer."
"He didn't harm me .."
"That's because we arrived in the nick of time."
Vanessa rolled her eyes, gave a big heaving sigh, walked back to Captain Magenta and undid his handcuffs. "How's your head?" she smilingly asked, gently touching the sore spot one more time.
"I'd forgotten all about it for some reason," he smiled back at her.
"What are you doing with the key?" Captain Blue asked in his sternest interrogative fashion, he was exceedingly suspicious of the girl.
"The other man left it sitting on the bench," Vanessa explained.
"Why weren't you tied up too?"
"He was bigger than me, I could hardly have leapt on him and wrestled him to the ground now, could I?" she answered scornfully.
Captain Blue didn't quite know how to answer that, so he remained silent.
Vanessa then found Captain Magenta's cap and gun, grabbed his arm, and started for the doorway. "C'mon, we have a date with destiny."
"Wait, where are you going?" Captain Scarlet felt confused. This rescue hadn't gone quite as he envisaged.
"To see a certain senator, and DON'T ..." she eyed him off menacingly, "tell him I'm still alive. I want to give him the biggest surprise of his life."
"You'll have to have security clearance first and we're coming with you. You both have a lot of explaining to do."
"As you wish Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock," Vanessa quipped.
Both men were taken aback.
"They wouldn't have a 'clue'," she told her new friend with a chuckle. He joined in.
4th July, 2000
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site.