A Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons Story
By Ralph Ferreira
The three World Navy officers were walking down one of the streets of the Hamburg harbor, and it was evident that they wanted to get to their destination as soon as possible. Helmut Dirkschneider, an experienced submarine commander, was a short man, especially so for a German, and he looked a little odd between those very tall men who were going with him. Despite his appearance, everyone who was under his command knew that he was very competent and they respected him a lot. That was the reason why the World Navy Command chose him to command this special mission.
"This is going to be different hunting, isn't it, Herr Kapitan?" asked one of the officers.
"I think so, Herr Hoffmann," Captain Dirkschneider answered. "We will not have much to do except just watch on cathode ray tubes, seated in comfortable chairs."
"But that's technology, Herr Kapitan," said the other officer.
"Ja! I know that, Her Buccholz," Dirkschneider smiled. "I'm not against it; for me it's much easier to keep my boat in a safe and strategic position, and less likely to put myself and my crew in a danger zone."
The discussion went on as they were going to their submarine, the Bayern, which was waiting for her captain at the dock. The talking ceased when they saw a strange man coming in their direction. They recognized the uniform the man was wearing as soon as he got near them.
"Look, a Spectrum officer," Hoffmann whispered. "That's not a good sign--means trouble in the vicinity."
They passed next to the solitary man and politely greeted him; he simply did the same.
The World Navy building was a truly beautiful sight at night; its modern lines were accentuated by the big spotlights which illuminated it, making it contrast with the darkness of the night. Captain Black stopped walking at a point where no World Navy building guard could see him and stood there impassive and alone looking at the huge edifice. Slowly his body started to disappear as the Mysterons tele-transported him to perform another misdeed.
Black reappeared in a corridor of the 10th floor of that building and silently went toward a room at the end of it. A soldier seated at a desk next to the aluminum door of that maximum security room got up, saluting him. "What can I do for you, sir?" the young soldier asked.
"Spectrum." Captain Black showed his identification. "My task here is very brief. I'll just use the computer for a few minutes."
"Captain Black?" The soldier interrogatively frowned. "Your face is strange to me. May I see your authorization, Herr Kapitan?" the young man politely required. "I cannot permit you to get in without an...without...an..."
The deep glance of Captain Black mesmerized the poor man, who now looked like a zombie.
The man robotically opened the heavy door by entering the appropriate code on the electronic locking device; then Captain Black calmly entered the room.
The Bayern was leaving the dock, and the three men who had arrived together were on its large tower watching the land recede from them. It was almost impossible to distinguish the horizon ahead of the submarine, since the Black Sea met with the black sky. The Bayern was one of the most modern submarines in service to the World Navy and was leaving with the latest advance in naval war technology.
Captain Black silently closed the aluminum door after completing the Mysterons' work, and stood again in front of the petrified man, looking directly into his eyes without saying a word.
"I cannot permit you to get in without an authorization," said the soldier after lightly shaking his head as if he was waking up from a deep sleep.
"Oh, I didn't know that," Captain Black answered with a Machiavellian smile. It was obvious that he would not kill this man, to avoid leaving any possible clues in this place; the Mysterons had something bigger in mind. "That's O.K. I'll come back tomorrow."
"Sorry, mein Herr!"
"No problem. Auf Wiedersehen."
Captain Black left the building as easily as he had gotten in. Walking alone again on the desert streets in the dead of night, he went back to the harbor, heading toward a light yacht. The only witness to see him was a black cat, who was seated on a wooden keg on the dock. Strangely, Black petted the cat's head before getting in the yacht. His attitude was so odd that it was impossible to distinguish whether the Mysterons had guided the action or it had been a manifestation of the personality of Conrad Turner.
Some minutes later, the yacht was moving rapidly to high sea.
"This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. We have not forgotten your unprovoked attack on our Martian Complex, and we shall continue our revenge on you. Our next act of retaliation will be to destroy the Pride of the Seven Seas."
The menace of the Mysterons echoed in all parts of Cloudbase. Knowing that the Mysterons didn't waste time, Colonel White called his officers to a meeting in the conference room. There was no time to lose.
"Well, gentlemen, we all heard this last menace of the Mysterons," started Colonel White. "'Pride of the Seven Seas'" is the nickname of the transatlantic Neptune, the biggest and newest ship in her class, capable of carrying up to 4000 passengers. Neptune is going to make her inaugural voyage in two days, from Southampton to New York."
"It was easy for the computer to identify the new target of the Mysterons," Lieutenant Green added. "Almost all tickets for the first voyage of the Neptune had been sold and her owners had planned big parties for the departure and arrival."
In the conference room, Captains Scarlet, Blue, Ochre, Gray and Magenta were carefully paying attention to Colonel White's words. "Would it be possible to postpone this first trip until we solve the problem with the Mysterons?" asked Captain Ochre.
"No, it wouldn't," Colonel White frowned. "The owners of the ship have stated that they will not make any change to their plans."
"In other words, money is more important than people!" protested Scarlet in a tone so angry that all the other officers looked at him.
"I know," Colonel White continued. "But we know this is not the case, Scarlet. More than 4000 people will travel on that ship, and we have to protect them."
"Well, Scarlet, you and Captains Blue and Magenta will travel on the Neptune," determined Colonel White. "Due to a request from the ship's owners, you'll not be wearing Spectrum uniforms. They told us this is to avoid panic among the passengers. Captain Ochre will go to Southampton and Captain Gray to New York."
In an unknown location in the North Atlantic, Bayern proceeded with her secret mission. "Full stop!" ordered Captain Dirkschneider, looking at a big screen with a map of the Atlantic Ocean which had some white points marking several locations and a green triangle indicating the submarine's position. "Prepare to launch torpedo one."
A seaman seated next to a control console in front of the big screen pressed some buttons , and one of the white points turned red.
"Torpedo ready, sir."
From the modified bow of the huge atomic submarine, a strange shark-shaped torpedo silently left its tube. On the conning tower, the crewmembers looked closely at a yellow point which just appeared on the screen and started to trace a blue straight line.
Thousands of people had come to the Southampton port to see the departure of the Neptune. Nature helped a lot, giving to these people a beautiful, sunny day. The place was decorated with flags, flowers and ribbons. A philharmonic orchestra was playing live on a stage built for the event. Captain Ochre was commanding a complex operation to check everyone with a Mysteron detector before letting them board the ship.
After speeches by some authorities and the owners of the ship, Laura Hill, the daughter of one of the ship owners, broke a bottle of champagne on the Neptune's bow.
The sea was very calm, no wind, no clouds. An old ship solitarily sailing was there to break the monotony of the scene. But even so, the silence was sepulchral. The vessel was deserted, looking like a ghost ship. The automatic navigation system was controlling all systems required to keep that ship sailing. Suddenly, a huge explosion broke that serenity, and an immense dark gray cloud rose. The ship literally broke in two at the middle and sank in a few minutes.
"Torpedo right on target, sir!" said Roth, the weapons operator, frenetically. "Direct impact! The ST-20 is a success!"
"Ja, I think so," smiled Dirkschneider, who was standing behind Roth's chair.
Neptune was slowly leaving the dock, while lots of people were waving their hands to the ones on the ship's decks. Basically, Neptune was a big hovercraft with four decks for the passengers and one for general services. The bridge was located on a forty-foot-high aerodynamically-shaped tower located on the upper deck, on the bow.
Captain Scarlet was disguised as a crew member, Captain Blue as a bartender, and Captain Magenta as a tourist. On the bridge, Scarlet was talking to the ship's commander, Captain Jonathan Halford, about all the precautions Spectrum had taken to protect the ship and everyone about it, when suddenly a very beautiful girl came onto the bridge, deviating the attention of everyone there. Her black hair made a nice contrast to her delicate white skin. She stopped in front of the big fair-haired ship's captain.
"Captain Halford, I'd like to meet the Spectrum people," asked Laura Hill politely. "You know that I have access to this information. After all, part of this ship belongs to me, doesn't it?"
"Well," Halford smiled, "one of them is right here." He pointed to Scarlet. "Mr. Metcalfe, Miss Hill."
Captain Black was solitarily yachting, getting close to an old cargo vessel. After stopping his yacht, he went to the stern, got in the small motorboat and launched it to the sea. Black took the motorboat very close to the cargo vessel in a dangerous maneuver, then threw a hook with a rope attached to it onto the ship's deck. Black held the rope, testing its firmness, then jumped from the motorboat. Half of his body got in the water, but even struggling against the wake of the old ship he was able to get out of the water and start climbing. When Black got on the deck, he went immediately to the bridge.
Roth was setting up the controls of the weapons systems prior to the next test, when suddenly one of the white points on the screen simply disappeared. "Herr Kapitan!" screamed the confused operator.
"What's happening?" asked Dirkschneider when he got near Roth's chair.
"Target three just disappeared."
"Have you checked all systems?"
"I made all usual checks, sir."
"How much time does it take to make a calibration test on the weapons system?"
"36 hours, Herr Kapitan."
"Do it. If no fault is found, we'll contact the W.N. command about the failure of target three."
The old cargo ship was drifting. Captain Black had switched the controls to manual and brought her to a full stop. Black was working with the precision of a Swiss clock, everything he had planned right on schedule. Silently he was leaving the vessel in one of its lifeboats, going rapidly back to his yacht.
Everything was quite quiet on the Neptune. Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue were chatting on the observation deck above the bridge, glancing at some heavy clouds on the horizon, a prelude for a tempest at the end of the day.
"Things are much too calm," frowned Blue. "I don't like that."
"I understand you very well, Blue," Scarlet answered. "I'm worried too, but I'm trying to keep myself calm. When the Mysterons come, they'll attack with full power and we'll have to be ready to counter-attack."
"You're right, partner," Blue agreed. "What about Captain Magenta?"
"Ah!" Scarlet smiled. "I think he's enjoying this mission much more than we are." Scarlet went to the rear end of the observation deck and pointed to a very relaxed Captain Magenta taking a sun bath beside the ship's swimming pool.
"It's not a bad deal to be disguised as a tourist!" Blue grinned.
"Oh, yes!" Scarlet had a good laugh. "And the weather is helping, too. I'll ask for a role like that next time!"
When the night came down, strong winds came with it, announcing a storm. Most of the passengers were at the recreation deck, some dancing, some gambling, some eating; everybody was having fun. Blue, Scarlet and Magenta were at the bar. Blue was using his role as a barman to arrange a little meeting with his partners.
"Soon I'll have to go back to the bridge," Scarlet said, while drinking a glass of refreshment. "Anything new, Captain Magenta?"
"Nothing, Captain Scarlet, absolutely nothing," answered Magenta. "I checked and re-checked all passengers, talked to a lot of people. Everything is okay."
The bar was so crowded with people talking at the same time, the noise, together with the music being played there, gave a perfect cover to the conversation of the Spectrum trio. Who would suspect a barman talking to a passenger and a crew member while drying some glasses?
"Tomorrow we'll have a day stop at A‡ores," alerted Blue. "We'll have to keep our eyes open."
"Even tonight," Scarlet said, frowning. "I think something is going to happen tonight."
"Are you feeling something wrong, Captain Scarlet?" asked Magenta.
Scarlet shook his head. "It's just intuition. I'll go back to the bridge."
The rain fell for about two hours. It was very heavy, making it unsafe to walk in any outdoors area. Erik Hammett and Bob Smith, two experienced technicians, were working in Engineering, performing preventive maintenance on the two big nuclear engines of the craft.
"I'm not feeling very well," complained Hammett.
"What's wrong?" asked Smith.
"My head. I'll go back to our office for a coffee."
While drinking his coffee, Hammett took a look at the window of his office to see the tempest when, to his surprise, he saw a little light on the sea shaking a lot with the big waves. He wiped his eyes, thinking it was an illusion, but when he opened them again the light was still there. "What kind of idiot would be on the high sea in weather like this?" he muttered to himself, then took a set of binoculars and went out to better see what kind of boat it was. He took a look and could distinguish a little yacht almost heeling over due to the high waves. After adjusting the lenses of his binoculars, he was able to see a lone man on the tiller who was slowly turning his head to face him. Hammett could not avoid the glance of Captain Black, whose eyes were fixed upon him, like the eyes of a snake hypnotizing its victim before killing it. Hammett staggered for two seconds before leaning on the railing, then lost all control of his body and fell over, into the sea.
Hammett's body was floating hundreds of feet away from the Neptune when the two sinister green rings appeared from nowhere and silently and slowly swept over the lifeless man. The Mysteronized Hammett returned to the office and shamelessly took the glass of coffee the poor technician had been drinking on, finishing it while looking at the window seeing the little light standing off from the Neptune.
The transatlantic vessel was already near Açores when the sun broke above the sea. Hammett and Smith were almost finished with their work shift when suddenly Hammett heard a toneless voice coming from nowhere.
"This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons on Mars. Only you, Hammett, can hear me. Tonight you will meet me on the quay, on the bonded store eight at 11:30; there
you will receive the rest of your instructions."
Captains Scarlet, Blue and Magenta were having a rapid meeting outdoors on the forward end of the second deck. As it was very early in the morning, there were no passengers in the vicinity, and the few crewmembers who were busy coming and going paid no attention to those three men leaned over the railing and talking while they saw the approaching harbor.
"I'll go out with the crew members who are taking shore leave," said Blue.
"It's better if I go with the passengers visiting the city," continued Magenta.
"That's O.K.," Scarlet concluded. "I'll stay aboard. I still have that sensation that they'll try something very soon."
Bayern continued with her top secret mission under the sea, navigating somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. Since they were still making tests on the submarine's weapon system, the craft was traveling in a circular course.
Captain Dirkschneider was talking to the executive officer Hoffmann about a possible cancellation of the mission if a problem were found, when Rosenthall arrived with a message in his hand.
"Herr Kapitan!" said the communications operator politely. "A message from the W.N. Command, sir."
"Vielen Dank, Herr Rosenthall." thanked the short blond man after taking the message.
The message was sent in code-one, as the W.N. Command had planned in the eventuality of sending messages which should be sent only in extreme situations; otherwise the submarine's crew should maintain total silence, no oral or written communication with the ground people or any other vessel.
WE FOUND A FAILURE ON THE TRANSMITTER OF TARGET THREE. THE
PROBLEM WILL BE SOLVED IN 12 HOURS. YOU MUST PROCEED NORMALLY WITH
"They found the problem faster than we imagined," smiled Hoffmann, who was reading the message beside the Captain.
"Doch!" answered Dirkschneider. "They have more resources over there than we do over here, Herr Hoffmann. Well, let's go on with our task."
Captain Black's face bore a growing sardonic smile while he removed a CD from a computer connected to a complex radio transceiver. Knowing all codes and frequencies that the World Navy was using on that operation, he had built a miniature communications station inside his yacht. He was sure of the success of his task, since he knew that the W.N. Command would spend at least 24 hours more before finishing all tests on their tracking system and consequently getting in contact with the Bayern. That would be enough time to conclude the Mysterons' plan.
It was late at night, and almost all the passengers and crewmembers had returned to the Neptune. Only one man was still on the quay, seated on a wooden keg in front of bonded store eight. Hammett took a look at his watch, which indicated 11:30 PM, w hen he raised his head and saw a man dressed in black carrying a box and coming toward him from the darkness.
"This is the device which transmits signals to the ST-20 torpedo," said Black, who knelt down to open the big box and pointed to a red button on the upper side of the strange device inside. "Tomorrow you will turn this transmitter on at 6:00 AM."
"Tomorrow the Neptune will go to the bottom of the sea," Hammett said, slowly and coldly.
Laura Hill and two friends were going back to the Neptune in a taxi when she saw a man walking alone in the quay carrying a big box. She recognized him as a crewmember and immediately asked the taxi driver to stop the car next to Hammett. "Hey, we're going to the Neptune. Come with us, get in the car," she said.
"That's not necessary, ma'am," Hammett answered, a little apprehensively. "I like to walk."
"Oh, come on!" Laura Hill insisted. "Don't be so shy! Get in the car!"
After much insistence, Hammett accepted the offer and went with them. During the way back to the ship, he said no word—his expressionless face seemed so odd that the three women in the rear seat of the car suspected that the man was not feeling well.
When they arrived, Hammett was the first one to get out of the car, but when he was going out, he accidentally touched a fastener which released the spring-loaded box cover, revealing the strange device in its interior. Hammett closed it immediately.
"What's that?" asked Laura Hill curiously.
"Ah, it's a...a..." Hammett had not expected this. He was excitedly trying to find a good answer for the woman. "It's a pressure controller used on our engines. It was failing and I knew a man who has a very good workshop down on the quay who could repair it for a good price and save a lot of time and money for us." He concluded, "Working so many years for the company, one gets to know lots of people like him, all over the world," Hammett insincerely smiled.
"Oh, it's good to have people like you working in our crew," smiled Laura Hill. She believed the technician, but due to his strange attitude she determined she would talk to someone of Spectrum about him the following day.
Target three suddenly reappeared on the tactical screen of the Bayern, as Captain Dirkschneider and his men had been anticipating. "Those guys are really accurate with time," Dirkschneider called.
"They're certainly Germans!" joked Hoffmann.
"Herr Roth," Dirkschneider called the weapons operator, "prepare torpedo three."
The white point which indicated target three on the map turned to red. Everything was ready to continue the tests with the automatic long-range torpedo ST-20.
"Torpedo ready, sir."
One more time, a yellow point started tracing a blue straight line on the map. In the upper right corner of the screen some messages appeared as soon as the torpedo was launched.
DISTANCE: 800 MILES
TIME TO IMPACT: 9 HOURS
Magenta was having his breakfast in the ship's restaurant when Laura Hill arrived and asked to have breakfast with him. Magenta was literally mesmerized by those wonderful blue eyes. He was so fascinated looking at that beautiful and intelligent woman that he almost forgot he was still on duty; but being a very well-trained and experienced officer, he knew how to deal with this.
The great time Magenta was having changed when the woman started talking about what she had seen on the previous night. "Could you see what he was carrying in that box, Miss Hill?" asked Magenta anxiously.
"Just call me Laura, O.K.?" she smiled.
"O.K., Miss... oh...Laura," Magenta choked. "But tell me, please--what have you seen?"
"I don't know what it was, it was a kind of electronic device. Sorry, I'm not a technical person. I remember he told me it was a kind of controller."
"Don't you remember any detail of that device?"
"It was...like a cylinder with a soccer ball on one of its ends. I could see two big red letters on its body, W and N, and below them, I remember seeing some little blue letters: S...T...mmm, I can't remember the rest."
"You have helped a lot, Miss...ah...Laura," thanked Magenta, hastily standing up.
"Are you not going to finish your breakfast?"
"I have no time," Magenta answered, leaving the table. "I've got to go to the bridge."
Magenta contacted Blue and Scarlet, and in a few minutes the three Spectrum officers were at the bridge. While Blue and Magenta were explaining to Captain Halford what they had heard, Scarlet contacted Cloudbase using a small radio transceiver disguised as a simple pen.
"I have Captain Scarlet on Channel 022," said Lieutenant Green. "I'll transfer him to you, Colonel."
Although everything Scarlet had reported to Colonel White was not a real menace, they could not take any chance, and decided to check any possibility of danger. They analyzed the clues and deduced that W.N. probably meant World Navy.
"We'll contact the World Navy Command to see if they know something about what you've reported, Scarlet," said Colonel White. "After doing that, we'll contact you again. In the meantime, it's best you check out that man you told me about."
Moments later on the Neptune's bridge, Scarlet, Blue and Magenta were talking to Hill to see if she could remember who the man was she had seen the night before.
"A maintenance man?" Halford intervened.
"Oh, yes, he told me he was a technician," Laura replied. "I've seen his name on the uniform, but I can't remember it. Something like Hamm...Ham...maybe Hammer."
"Can't you check that in the ship's computer, Captain Halford?" asked Scarlet.
"Sure!" Halford entered the available data into the computer and some seconds later the computer presented two names, Hanson and Hammett. "O.K.," said Halford calmly in his British accent after reading the two names on the computer screen. "Now, let's see what you look like, gentlemen."
The first face to appear on the screen was Hanson's.
"Is that the man?"
"No, it isn't."
"Hm-m-m. Let's try the other one." Halford typed again at his keyboard, and Hammett's face appeared on the screen.
"It's him! That is the man I saw last night!"
"Erik Hammett." Halford read the data displayed on the screen regarding that crewmember. "He's off duty now and is probably in his quarters."
"Let's check on him," said Blue with a worried tone. He didn't like what he was hearing, because he also knew that sooner or later the Mysterons were going to try something.
Captain Halford gently knocked on Hammett's door. Scarlet, Blue and Magenta were just behind him. Although the situation was totally under control, they were a little apprehensive. "Mr. Hammett! Mr. Hammett!"
"Who's out there?" a voice from inside Hammett's quarters answered.
"Captain Halford, Mr. Hammett. Please open your door. I need to talk to you."
When Hammett opened his door and saw Captain Halford with those three men, immediately he suspected they were Spectrum people. He allowed them to get in, then he closed the door and sat in a chair in front of his writing desk. Halford started explaining to him who the men were, when Scarlet's pen-radio transceiver signaled.
"Captain Scarlet here," Scarlet spoke into the little microphone after removing the cover of the pen.
"We know what the device is that you described, Scarlet," Colonel White's voice came out of the micro-speaker of Scarlet's transceiver. "It transmits signals to a long-range torpedo called ST-20."
"A torpedo?" Scarlet frowned.
"Yes, Captain. The ST-20 is a new kind of weapon which is being tested by the World Navy. It can navigate for hundreds of miles following the signals of a super-high-frequency transmitter. According to our data, the transmitter which is supposed to be used for test three is on board the Neptune!"
"So we have to seek and destroy it, Colonel?"
"No!" Colonel White's voice changed to a nervous tone. "An ST-20 was launched some hours ago and is dangerously close to the Neptune. If you destroy it now, the torpedo will look for the nearest target, which will still be the Neptune. You'll have to locate the transmitter and take it as far as possible from the Neptune, and you only have 30 minutes!"
"Stay right where you are, Earthmen." Hammett opened a drawer on his writing desk and took a gun before Scarlet, Blue or Magenta could take any action. He had taken advantage of the fraction of time when the Spectrum officers had deviated their attention from him to hear Colonel White's message.
Pointing his gun at the four men, he went to a locker, opened it, and took out a huge rucksack. It was evident that the transmitter was inside it.
"Don't move!" Hammett shouted when Blue tried to whip a gun out of his pocket. "Hands up! All of you, hands up! Come on!" Then he moved very close to Captain Blue and put his gun betweenBlue's eyes. "If--if!--if you are good, boys, I'll permit you to live, so maybe you'll have a chance to survive when the ST-20 hits
Blue was in a cold sweat; he could feel death just in front of him and had to keep his self-control. Any wrong movement and that lunatic Mysteron agent could kill him. He took a breath when Hammett stepped away.
"You all can use my quarters. You are my guests, Earthmen," said the ironic Mysteron who was going to the door. "Now relax and contemplate our revenge. This ship will travel to the bottom of the sea in a few minutes. Farewell!" Hammett rapidly went out and locked the door from outside.
"O.K., let's go after him!" Blue whipped out his gun as soon as the Mysteron agent left and fired on the door lock to open it.
When they went out, they could see Hammett turning right at the end of the corridor. They pursued the Mysteronized man through lots of corridors, and climbed and descended several stairs, going in the direction of the Engineering section. When Hammett arrived he found two technicians on the day shift working there. With no mercy, he fired at the two defenseless men, being very careful not to wound them mortally; he knew that the Spectrum officers would certainly stop to help those poor men.
"Oh, God!" Scarlet cried out when he got into Engineering and saw the technicians lying in a pool of blood. "Captain Magenta!" he called his partner, who was just arriving in Engineering. "Stay with them and ask for some help; Captain Blue and I will go on pursuing Hammett."
Hammett had enough time to climb one of the huge engine turbines of the Neptune. He was well established up there but his visual angle was very limited. He sat still and lay in wait for his pursuers.
When Scarlet and Blue arrived, they were welcomed with bullets. In a rapid movement they ran toward the turbine wall, getting out of Hammett's visual angle.
"I'll climb that turbine," said Scarlet. "Go climbing the other one and give me cover, Blue."
Scarlet started climbing, the expression of tension on his face denoting that he was very nervous--once again, he was racing against time. He got close to the top, knowing that he should make his next movement fast, because one more tread and he would face the Mysteronized Hammett. Scarlet took a deep breath and went up, using one hand to hold the ladder rung and the other to point his gun at the enemy. He did everything rapidly to take the advantage of the element of surprise--but to his own surprise there was nobody up there. Carefully, he began to look for the Mysteron. This was a strange situation; there were not many places for someone to hide, so he was wondering where the man was. At the left end of the top of the turbine, Scarlet saw a bridge which connected the turbine top to a kind of control cabin. There was no other place to go, so Hammett had to be in that cabin. Scarlet was already in the middle of the bridge, when suddenly he heard a different noise. He looked to his right but before he could do anything, a huge blow to his shoulder threw him down.
Hammett was hidden and had waited for the right moment to activate a traveling crane to get Scarlet. The Spectrum officer was able to hold onto the bridge's railing, avoiding a 60-foot fall. Scarlet hung up there, struggling climb back onto the bridge as soon as he could. The situation had changed drastically for him; he had lost his gun when the crane's block had hit him and his fingers were aching too much to keep their hold on it. He looked down seeking Magenta but nobody was there. When he looked up again, he saw Hammett, a sick smile on that pale face, pointing a gun at him.
"This time I'll give you no chance, Earthman!" Hammett said, pointing his gun at Scarlet's forehead.
Scarlet had already closed his eyes, as there was nothing more he could do, when suddenly he heard a shot followed by a terse scream of pain. He opened his eyes and looked around.
He saw Blue below him, his gun aimed right up at Hammett, who was now bleeding profusely from a neck wound. Scarlet breathed a sigh of relief that his partner did not take his indestructibility for granted and backed him up as he was supposed to.
Even with a bullet in his neck, the fanatic Mysteronized man turned to Blue to fire at him, but before he could shoot, Scarlet held his ankle and pulled it. Losing his balance and being weak
due to the bullet wound, Hammett fell down from the bridge.
Blue went to Scarlet and put out his hand to help his friend climb up to the bridge again. "It's going to become a habit for you to save me," Scarlet smiled.
"It wouldn't be fair if only you got to try your luck at it," Blue joked.
"Right," Scarlet laughed. "Adam, we still have lots to do, and little time."
Scarlet left the Neptune in a small motorboat to take the transmitter to a safe place. He had less than five minutes; that meant that the ST-20 was very close and could hit him before he could accomplish his task. At a distance of more than five miles from the Neptune, Scarlet inflated a rubber boat and left the transmitter on it. When he turned on the motor of the boat, he had the first visual contact with the ST-20. The torpedo was coming quickly, its dorsal fin outside the water like a hungry shark coming in fast to attack. When the ST-20 hit its target, its high explosive ogive created a huge wave which capsized Scarlet's boat. Some seconds later, Scarlet surfaced, caught hold of his capsized boat and waved his hand to the people on the Neptune to show that everything was going to be fine.
Back on the Neptune, the Spectrum trio reported the success of their mission to Colonel White, who became actually quite happy when he heard what his personnel had done.
"Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue, Captain Magenta," said White proudly, "you really did a very good job. My congratulations. I was already informed that the Neptune will arrive tomorrow in New York, so I decided to concede a forty-eight hour leave period for all of you--if Captain Halford agrees to your continued stay on the Neptune, of course!"
"Sure, Colonel!" Halford promptly answered. "I'll provide first-class accommodations for them."
"Thank you, Captain," said Colonel White. "Well, gentlemen, enjoy your time on the Neptune."
Scarlet turned his pen-transceiver off with a big smile on his face. "Well, well," he said, stretching, "Magenta is already wearing the right clothes for the occasion. I'll change my own."
"Good idea, Paul," Blue smiled. "I'll do the same. How about all of us meeting in the pool in one hour?"
"Great!" Scarlet and Magenta answered in chorus.
Neptune went safely on to complete its first journey. Most of the people thereon didn't know about the danger that had surrounded the ship for some days, or about the heroes who had saved their lives.
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