The Spectrum Organization had realized early on that if it needed its personnel to be capable of facing any conceivable threat to world peace, then those personnel needed to know how to defend themselves without the use of the various weapons in its formidable arsenal. For there would be many times, in the course of personal combat, when those personnel had to be able to fight hand to hand against opponents who had access to weapons that simply outgunned them.
Some techniques taught for the purpose had not changed in centuries.
These techniques included the various martial arts that had come from Southeast Asia, most of whose countries, such as Mainland China, Island China, Japan, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Kashmir, Bangladesh, and Burma, to name but a comparative handful, had consolidated themselves into the United Asian Republic as the World Government of Earth was being formed. One such martial art was judo, which derives from jujitsu and is of Japanese origin. Martial artists wear an outfit called a gi, meaning “uniform,” whose tunic is secured at the waist with a belt whose color denotes the wearer’s degree of skill in a martial art; the black belt is highest of these. Judo is no exception. Its black belt has ten dans, or degrees, each higher than the last. The fifth dan denotes absolute mastery of judo; the dans from six to ten, also called red-belt dans, are all honorary.
Martial arts instructors, called sensei, always hold black belts in the martial arts in which they are skilled. Spectrum Organization Angel Flight pilot Chan Akiki Kwan was no exception. Her black belt in judo was of the fourth dan, and as such, it qualified her as a sensei in judo. On this day, a Monday, she was carrying out such duty. Her students in the dojo, or training arena, were all members of the senior staff of Cloudbase, the Spectrum Organization’s mobile command headquarters, as she herself likewise was, and included its Supreme Commander-In-Chief, or CINCSPEC, who was its generalissimo-admiralissimo. These students were Paul Stephen Metcalfe, Adam Gregory Svenson, Bradley John Holden, Juliette Marie Pointon, Dianne Roberta Simms, Karen Judith Wainwright, Edward Michael Wilkie, and Charles Mason Gray, the last of whom was CINCSPEC. All wore gis.
Kwan was now addressing Holden, whose gi was charcoal gray.
“Captain Grey,” she was saying, using Spectrum’s reference to Holden, “will you please join me in demonstrating the technique we’ve been practicing?”
“As you wish.” Captain Grey got to his feet.
“Harmony,” said Svenson, who wore a blue gi, “this wouldn’t by any chance be a rematch of how you cleaned Grey’s clock the day Black evaluated us in preparation for our becoming senior staff of Cloudbase?”
Laughter from the others followed his remark. Kwan, whom Spectrum called Harmony Angel, could not keep from grinning herself.
“No need, Captain Blue,” she responded, using official Spectrum reference to the Massachusetts financier’s eldest son. “That was a score the two of us settled between ourselves four years ago, the year before any of us heard of the Mysterons for the first time.”
Gray, whom Spectrum called Colonel White, said with a twinkle in his blue eyes, “Really, Blue! Now’s not the time to hold grudges.”
“Especially not with a lesson to finish,” Harmony Angel said. She and Captain Grey bowed to each other. Then she rested her right hand on his left arm.
Gripping Harmony Angel’s left arm in his right hand, Captain Grey allowed her to approach him with a measure of suddenness. Then he used her leverage to upset her balance and, his arm crossing over her waist, brought her to the mat as per the training she had been giving him and his colleagues. That accomplished, he allowed her to get back on her own feet.
“Well done,” added she. “That finishes this lesson.”
Metcalfe was the first to rise from the floor. Untying the belt of his gi, which was a brilliant scarlet in color, he pulled off its tunic first, exchanging it for first a long-sleeved black turtle-necked tunic with roundels on its sleeve cuffs and then a sleeveless scarlet suede doublet with a ring-pull zipper that went all the way down its right front. Then he pulled off his gi’s trousers, revealing himself to be wearing, beneath them, tight black breeches with stitched-in permanent front creases, which were bloused over scarlet cotton hosiery. Pushing his feet into a pair of knee-high scarlet leather boots with outer metal side-zippers, cuffed-topped stove-pipe uppers, and wide leather bands across their vamps, he pulled the zippers closed in a way that bloused his breeches into the boots. Lastly, Captain Scarlet, as Spectrum knew Metcalfe, strapped a black leather cincture around his waist; hanging on this was a black leather holster with a semi-automatic pistol inside it.
Speaking for the first time, he said, “It’s been almost too quiet here on Cloudbase. The Mysterons are almost certain to strike somewhere.”
“Yes, they are, Captain Scarlet,” Colonel White agreed. “It’s just a question of two key factors. Where... and when.”
A crackling on Cloudbase’s public-address system seemed to answer both questions. Captain Scarlet noted grimly, “It looks like we’re about to get our answer.”
And sure enough, a booming deep slow voice followed.
“This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. We will continue to take our revenge for your unprovoked attack. Our next act of retaliation will be to throw Harmony out of tune. Hear us, Earthmen, and take heed. We will throw Harmony out of tune.”
Captain Scarlet spared a glance at the Harmony Angel. She had bowed her head.
“They’re after me,” she whispered. “I just know it. What I don’t know is how.”
Going to a bulkhead intercom unit, Colonel White said, “White to Control--Lieutenant Green, bring Cloudbase to yellow alert.”
“S.I.G.,” was the prompt response from Spectrum Organization CompOps Chief Seymour Roger Griffiths, Colonel White’s aide, whom he had addressed as Lieutenant Green.
“Right, let’s all get out of our gis and back into Spectrum uniform,” Colonel White snapped. “We have to figure out exactly what the Mysterons plan to do to Harmony--or her family.”
“There’s another consideration--do they plan to assassinate officials of Nippon’s government?”
“What is that supposed to mean, Harmony?” This from Captain Grey.
Her head still hanging, Harmony Angel explained, “The air-taxi service my parents used to operate before they passed it on to me has become essential to travel over the archipelago of Nippon. Officials of the various ministries make extensive use of it--”
“--and so does the Emperor of Japan, as well as the current Director-General of the United Asian Republic,” Captain Scarlet noted. “If any of the regular routes of Peking Taxi Service were to fall victim to the Mysterons while the Emperor and/or Prime Minister of Japan, or the United Asian Republic’s current Director-General, were aboard one of those taxis...”
He did not have to finish. The political repercussions could be disastrous, and the Kwans would “lose face” with the rest of Nippon society for allowing, or failure to prevent, such a tragedy. Already Captain Scarlet had failed, once before, to prevent the assassination of the previous United Asian Republic Director-General, a mission that had still proven his loyalty to Spectrum.
The Colonel’s jaw dropped in horror at the implications, and he snapped sharply, “Then all of you double-time it! You all know what this implies for Spectrum!”
Matsuo Tanaka, Prime Minister of Japan, had had a long conversation with the World Congress. This conversation had been entirely in English, a language he understood perfectly and spoke well. From what the Speaker of the World House Of Representatives had said to him, he had reason to fear that he and his Emperor were both under Mysteron attack. The Spectrum Organization would gain much face if it successfully protected either, most of all both.
Tanaka was not a defenseless man himself. He held a black belt of the ninth dan in judo, and one of the students of his dojo, which he had closed down to enter politics, had been a certain Chan Akiki Kwan. She had much face for both of her efforts to establish the world record for shortest time successfully circumnavigating Earth nonstop by air--first for aborting her effort to rescue people in trouble, and second for completing her flight.
The business her parents had operated before passing it on to her, Peking Taxi Service, was essential to Tanaka’s job, for he used its taxis extensively to travel from point to point on his native Honshu Island. Judging from what the World House Speaker had told him, he had reason to believe it might come under attack.
“Chan Kwan,” he said in English, “wherever you are, I hope you know that we need help.”
Harmony Angel was on her way to relieve Magnolia Blossom Jones, a.k.a. Melody Angel, from alert duty in the Angel alert interceptor when Colonel White, himself now back in uniform, called out to her. “Wait, Harmony!” said he.
“You’ll be on your way back home, so to speak. I’m appointing you as temporary field commander of the Angel Flight for this mission. You’ll be reporting directly to Captain Scarlet.”
Stunned, Harmony Angel could muster no other response than the usual “S.I.G.” But she was in a daze as she acknowledged the newly-cut orders.
Captain Scarlet, himself in no such daze, snapped back, “Colonel, do you think that’s wise?”
“How do you mean?”
“The Mysterons have made personal threats against members of Spectrum before. For all we know, this could be one of them.”
“You heard me tell Harmony that she’ll report directly to you. Since you are our ’indestructible’ agent, it’ll be part of your job to see to it that she herself isn’t directly harmed.”
“S.I.G.,” Captain Scarlet acknowledged with a wry smile. “The trick will be figuring out exactly who’s in the hands of the Mysterons.”
The answer to Captain Scarlet’s question could have been found on Honshu Island, at the Tokyo base of Peking Air Taxi.
Captain Black, who had once been Conrad Turner, was currently in the dispatcher’s office of that base, in the company of a woman who resembled the dispatcher in every detail. The original dispatcher, whose name was Tomoko Kobayashi, had a scratch at the base of her neck, and next to her was a black-finished shaken that had been dipped in doku, a poison that, after the long complex process of extracting it from chrysanthemums, could be used to kill quickly and silently. For it simulated the effects of a heart attack when injected into the bloodstream, and the smallest scratch was the most needed for the purpose. Both shaken and corpse rested on the office floor.
Tomoko Kobayashi was under Mysteron control.
Less than an hour before, Captain Black had thrown the doku-treated shaken, the tip of one of whose blade edges had scratched the neck of the original Kobayashi. As this had occurred whilst she was on a break, she had had no time to react or call for help.
In the deep slow voice of the Mysterons, Captain Black said to the Kobayashi likeness, “You know what you must do.”
The Kobayashi likeness said nothing. It was clear from her attitude towards Turner, however, that she fully intended the Mysteron instructions to be carried out.
Captain Black knew that Peking Air Taxi’s Tokyo base had arrays of x-ray cameras built into its internal security system. For his masters the Mysterons to carry out their plan to “throw Harmony out of tune,” which meant publicly discredit Chan Kwan, Harmony Angel of Spectrum, before Nippon’s people, whose culture took honor and reputations very seriously, they needed to deceive the Earthmen working there into believing Harmony Angel was a Mysteron when actually she was not. If Captain Scarlet came there with her, deceiving them into believing he was still a Mysteron would be easy; the retro-matter of his body was impervious to Roentgen radiation. Deceiving them about Harmony Angel would be the real trick. Captain Black knew that in order to do this, he had to make the cameras, when scanning for Mysterons, show false positive readings for her. Hence he had to set up the internal security cameras for takeover. In order to do that, he had to set up their central control operator for Mysteron takeover. Doing that, as he saw quickly, would be a pushover. The operator, named Fujio Sato, was grossly fat, and he often dozed off in his chair.
Captain Black scratched Sato’s carotid artery with the doku-coated shaken he had used on Tomoko Kobayashi less than half an hour before. In the second of death, Sato’s face momentarily twisted in pain.
Twin rings of green light swept Sato’s corpse, then traced a spot next to his chair. Within seconds, an exact likeness of Sato stood next to Captain Black.
Fujio Sato was now under Mysteron control.
“These are your instructions from the Mysterons,” Captain Black said to Sato’s likeness. And he went on to outline what the Sato likeness had to do.
Three interceptors of the Spectrum Angel Flight were skyborne; Harmony Angel, serving as Angel Leader, was in the interceptor that headed the formation. With her, serving as wing-pilots, were Juliette Pointon, the flight's Destiny Angel, who flew the port interceptor, and Karen Wainwright, called Symphony Angel, who was flying the starboard interceptor. Behind their wedge formation was a Spectrum Passenger Jet, with Captain Blue at the controls; Captain Scarlet was navigating.
“I don’t remember ever having visited Japan,” Captain Blue was confessing to Captain Scarlet. “Do you?” He had a C38 Mysteron detector hanging around his neck.
“No, Captain Blue,” Captain Scarlet responded. “I may be a trained historian, but I’m afraid my knowledge of the history of Southeast Asia, sad to admit, is rather sketchy.”
“As sketchy as your memories of your activities as a Mysteron?”
“No--those memories are detailed enough now. Thanks to Black.” Captain Scarlet shuddered.
“Oh, that’s right. I’d forgotten. He restored your Mysteron memories when you joined International Rescue earlier this year.”
“He’d hoped to break my will to keep fighting them, and he failed. It makes me wonder....”
“What?” This from Captain Grey, the third passenger of the jet.
“Why do they handle their powers so well...and me, who used to be one of them, so poorly?”
“Well, your report on Mysteron psychology in layman’s terms certainly poses a possibility.”
The retro-metabolic human smiled at the idea. He was a likeness of the original Captain Scarlet who retained the personality of the original. That original was a World Army-and-Air Force general’s son who had earned degrees in technology and mathematics, in addition to history, in the University of his native Winchester, England. Then he had become the “First Captain,” or valedictorian, of his graduating class of the West Point Military Academy, from which he had enlisted in the World Army-and-Air Force as a buck private in order to earn a WAAF officer’s commission the hard way. Volunteering for the Special Forces, he had risen quickly through the ranks of the WAAF to become the youngest colonel in its history and its top weapons expert. In all that time, before the Mysterons had re-created their exact likeness of him, he had been presented with plenty of opportunities to observe combat psychology as a layman in the science.
As a pro-Earthman Mysteron, the Captain Scarlet likeness had actually become the real Captain Scarlet. With his power of retro-metabolism, which had made him virtually indestructible, had come an increased curiosity about the way the discorporate aliens inhabiting the Valles Marineris area of Mars viewed comparatively more primitive Earthmen. He had recently written his speculations into a treatise that had become required reading for Spectrum senior staff.
“Well, I am a trained historian, true enough,” was all Captain Scarlet said aloud. “But I’m not that good a xeno-psychologist.”
The Mysteron likeness of Fujio Sato was working to prepare a computer program for the security cameras that would generate false positive readings of given individuals, and to gear that program for Chan Kwan. As he did this, the Mysteron likeness of Tomoko Kobayashi was at work on carrying out her own instructions from the Mysterons.
Captain Black watched them work, then nodded to each as they finished.
Later, in an employees’ lounge, he was explaining to the two employees his masters had taken over, “Even if Spectrum personnel do successfully evade our blockade, we will still be able to throw Harmony out of tune. The Prime Minister of Japan makes extensive use of this air-taxi service for much of his travel.” He unfolded a route timetable printed in both Japanese and English, and laid it out on the table in front of which the likenesses were also sitting. “You know his itinerary,” he said to the Kobayashi likeness. “Indicate the route that he is most likely to take to reach his current destination, according to his travel plans.”
Without a word, the Kobayashi likeness pointed to a series of numbers.
“The flight crew for that air taxi consists of three members,” Captain Black went on. “I will arrange for their takeovers.” He rose from his chair and walked over to a coffee machine. “Would you care for some coffee?”
Less than fifteen minutes later, three men in flight crew uniforms were drinking coffee Captain Black had offered them.
Half an hour later, twin rings of green light swept the doors to three recessed bunks on a wall of another lounge, inside which were the corpses of the flight crew members. They had taken naps on the bunks within the two hours before they were due on the flight deck. Thanks to a bland poison and a massive overdose of sleeping medicine Captain Black had brewed into the coffee, they would never awaken.
The same twin rings traced empty chairs in the lounge to bring the flight crew under Mysteron control, re-creating exact likenesses of the original flight crew members.
Captain Black entered with the Mysteron likenesses of Kobayashi and Sato. The flight crew likenesses were drinking coffee as though nothing were wrong. Something, of course, was VERY wrong. The Mysterons had taken over five employees of Chan Kwan’s old firm.
Of the six who were now seated in the lounge, only Turner spoke.
“Today,” he said in the deep slow voice of the Mysterons, “we will throw Harmony out of tune.”
Matsuo Tanaka was in conference with Emperor Matsuhiro. Their conversation was conducted in Japanese, the first language of both men, and Tanaka had his amanuensis--not a machine, but his own secretary--sitting nearby to transcribe it.
“I wonder if we should cancel our planned trip to Kyoto this afternoon, given the possible harm that the Mysterons can do to us or our honor,” Tanaka was saying.
“Matsuosan,” the Emperor retorted, “we cannot change plans at the last minute simply because we may fall victim to what a Mysteron can do. The Supekutoramu--” he used that phrasing to refer to Spectrum because both supekutoramu and bunkou both mean “spectrum” in Japanese, but to use bunkou would have been too vulgar for someone like him-- “can protect us against Mysterons; that’s what it does.” He smiled. “If it eases you, I would prefer to change my plans. But that we cannot do. The Mysterons, besides, will only harm us if it will harm your former student or her fellow Supekutoramu.”
“It will,” Tanaka said. “They do not announce an attack without making such an attack. I lost one of my good friends, the Director-General of the United Asian Republic, to what the Mysterons did.”
“Then we will have to see to it that Supekutoramu Ninja is on our flight with us. That is all.”
Tanaka and the amanuensis both bowed and left.
At the Tokyo base of Peking Taxi, Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue, Harmony Angel, and Captain Grey were all under drawn weapons and being led into the building at gunpoint. No sooner, however, were all four inside it, along with their armed escorts, than a series of alarms went off.
“That female Bunkou member is a Mysteron--hold her!” the burliest and tallest of their escorts said in Japanese.
“What did they just say, Harmony?” Captain Grey asked.
Harmony Angel’s voice was filled with horror when she answered. “They think I’m a Mysteron!”
The next moment, they were surrounded on all sides with drawn semi-automatic pistols.
The office of the Security Chief, Takashi Uchida, was next to that of the dispatcher.
Captain Blue had handed over his Mysteron detector to Chief Uchida. “Use it on Harmony only,” he said. “Captain Scarlet is exempted from having it used on him--even though I’m not allowed to explain why he is.”
“How do I use it?” Chief Uchida said in English.
“You know how to take pictures, don’t you?”
“Hai,” said Chief Uchida, Japanese for “yes.”
“Take one of the girl,” said Captain Scarlet. “And only the girl, as Captain Blue instructed.”
Chief Uchida brought the detector to his eyes and asked, “Which button do I push?”
“The top one.” This from Captain Grey.
Chief Uchida pointed the detector at Harmony Angel and pushed the top button on it. “How long do I have to wait for the picture to develop?”
“About five seconds,” Captain Scarlet said. “The image should be a skeletal view.”
No one noticed Conrad Turner standing immediately outside the door.
Chief Uchida pushed the bottom button, and the image emerged from the detector, all right.
But to the shared horror of the three Spectrum captains and Harmony Angel, it produced a photographic view of her in monochrome!!!
“This only PROVES that she’s a Mysteron!” the Chief roared.
“That can’t be! I used that detector on Harmony herself not fifteen seconds after we landed!” As he was speaking, Captain Blue pulled another image, time-stamped with the detector’s serial number, out of his sleeveless blue suede doublet; this one showed a skeletal view.
“Will you two pull yourselves together?” Captain Scarlet snapped. “It’s obvious that someone’s tampered with the image to make it produce a monochrome photographic view of Harmony, and I think I have an excellent idea just who.”
Captain Blue and Captain Grey exchanged significant glances. They knew who he meant.
But it was Harmony Angel who said it for all of them. “Captain Black.”
“Yes,” Captain Scarlet confirmed. “And I’ll bet he’s right outside the door at this very moment, using his masters’ powers to tamper with that detector and make it give false positive results!” He sprang for the door and opened it wide just in time to behold Captain Black fading out. As the ache in his sinuses died away, he turned to Uchida.
But before the retro-metabolic human could say anything else, Captain Grey wrinkled his nose, sniffed, and complained, “What’s that smell?”
Chief Uchida sniffed. “Someone is dead.” He handed the Spectrum personnel back their ordnance. “I’ll take your word that the detector results are false--I have to now. I saw Captain Black fade out too.”
As he was nearest the door, Captain Scarlet had to wait for Chief Uchida to reach him with his pistol. But once he had it, he said, “Blue, Grey, Harmony, follow me. You come along too, Chief Uchida.”
They slipped out of the office and stole down the corridor to the next office over. “The smell gets stronger the closer we get to that door,” Captain Blue noted with a grimace and a shudder. “It does smell like someone died.”
“Blue...Grey...cover me,” Captain Scarlet said. “I’m going in.” As Captain Blue and Captain Grey took positions at the left and right door jambs, their pistols drawn, Captain Scarlet tried the door knob. It did not respond. “Locked,” he added. “I’m kicking it down.” He raised his right foot and hurled himself at the door, foot first.
The lock gave way, and the door swung open. Barely recovering his footing from his mighty kick, Captain Scarlet looked around with pistol drawn. That was when he noticed the corpse on the floor.
“That’s Tomoko Kobayashi, the base dispatcher!” Chief Uchida gasped in recognition. “But that can’t be! She’s on duty in her cubicle!”
“You mean you thought she was,” Harmony Angel corrected.
“Chief Uchida, I’m afraid you’ll have to face facts,” Captain Scarlet said sternly. “This base’s dispatcher is now in the hands of the Mysterons.”
“There’s probably another Mysteron on this base,” Captain Grey noted. “Who’s your assistant in charge of the internal security cameras?”
“That’d be Fujio Sato,” Chief Uchida said. “Fat, lazy lout...I could never understand why we even hired him.”
“Maybe because he’s good with computers,” Captain Blue remarked.
“He can’t possibly compete with Lieutenant Green!” scoffed Captain Scarlet.
“He doesn’t,” said Chief Uchida. “The base’s computer systems are all long overdue for a major overhaul and upgrade. Maybe your Lieutenant Green could give them one.” At the apparent lack of comprehension from the three captains, he went on, “Yes, I have followed Lieutenant Green’s work improving certain computer systems, since we do have Spectrum personnel serving in our security detail. His improvements have earned him much face here, and--”
“Those improvements won’t help you now, Earthmen!!!” came a sudden shout in English from outside the office door.
It was the Mysteron likeness of Fujio Sato.
“We will be avenged!” he went on, his voice that of a raving psychotic. “You will never survive the Mysterons!!!” With that, he charged forwards, holding a broken-off broomstick in his hand.
Captain Scarlet had no time to use his pistol, and was forced to grab the Sato likeness in a judo hold as the latter charged at him. That done, he threw the Sato likeness over his shoulder in a judo upper right shoulder throw. But instead of allowing himself to be thrown to the floor, the Sato likeness was carried out the window of the office, which shattered under his weight and out of which he fell, landing on electrical wires that were strung on cross-arms near the tops of electric poles below them all--and on the top of one of the poles itself, grounding and short-circuiting the power lines!!!
The impact with the high voltage caused his body to burst into flames as the Mysteron likeness of Fujio Sato was destroyed. As that happened, the power inside the building temporarily winked out and then came right back on again.
“Well, fry one Mysteron,” Captain Blue quipped mirthlessly, looking about to gag. Not squeamish, he was, regardless, nauseated at the putrid odor of burned flesh that now assaulted their nostrils.
“I had forgotten that judo, being based on jujitsu as it is, can be used to kill,” Harmony Angel admitted. “Nicely done.”
“Well, I hadn’t actually planned on killing him,” confessed Captain Scarlet. “But the Mysterons do consider their likenesses of objects or people expendable once they’ve done with them.”
“Should we call the local electric company to get the body down safely?” Captain Grey asked.
“S.I.G., Captain Grey,” agreed Captain Scarlet. “No sense in any further interruptions in our job--or that of Peking Taxi.” He allowed the mike of his radio-cap to drop in front of his mouth. “Scarlet to Angel Two--maintain surveillance of all departing Peking Taxi flights for the next four hours. Seek and report. Codeword katana. Mysterons on grounds. Repeat: Mysterons on grounds.”
“S.I.G.,” the voice of Destiny Angel responded. “But I am curious, Captain Scarlet; why only four hours?”
“Because I’ll be grounding all other flights from this base after that time period except in case of extreme need--critical flights to hospitals and the like.”
“Captain Scarlet, does a planned flight of both the Emperor and the Prime Minister of Japan qualify as critical?”
“That it does, Destiny, especially since Harmony and I will both be on board to see to it that no harm comes to either of them.”
“S.I.G. Destiny out.”
“Blue, you and Grey stay here to try to trap Kobayashi--if she doesn’t try to attack us first. She may have instructions from the Mysterons to keep us away from the Prime Minister and the Emperor.”
“S.I.G.,” Captain Blue acknowledged. “But what about Harmony?”
“I am with Captain Scarlet,” was her response. “The flight crew may be in Mysteron hands, and they may have plans against the Prime Minister and the Emperor. We all heard the Mysteron threat--they mean to discredit me in the eyes of my own people.”
“S.I.G.,” Captain Scarlet said, grinning. “Just leave the dangerous stuff to me.”
The Chief shook his head after the two left. “That man has dragons in his brain. Does he really think he can stop the Mysterons?”
“Chief Uchida,” said Captain Grey, “the most you can do is trust him on this.”
“I’ll take your word for it--I have to. But does Captain Scarletsan think he can gain face with us by preventing our two most beloved governmental figures from being assassinated?”
“We’re not in this business for concerns of honor.” This from Captain Blue.
Captain Scarlet and Harmony Angel were on their way to the dispatcher’s cubicle, where both knew the Mysteron likeness of Tomoko Kobayashi was most likely to be holed up.
Suddenly, Captain Scarlet’s sinuses caught fire.
“She’s very close by,” he said through a haze of pain. “She obviously wants to stop us from getting to that flight--”
The Kobayashi likeness brought him to the floor from behind with a karate flying kick, knocking his radio-cap off as he fell. Grimacing from the pain in his lower back, he nonetheless summoned his training in unarmed combat to roll over and get to his feet.
“Take it from a gaijin, Kobayashi--you have no idea what honor is,” he shot back through his pain.
“It does not matter what you mean by honor, Earthman!” the Kobayashi likeness snarled at him in English. “You have NO honor with the Mysterons!”
“Tomoko, will you quit that?” Harmony Angel demanded in Japanese. “You hardly sound original!”
“Don’t you dare talk to me in that Earthman’s language, Earthwoman!” The Kobayashi likeness was still using English. “Soon, Harmony,” and she sneered the call sign, “we WILL throw you out of tune!”
Captain Scarlet took advantage of that moment to kick the left shin of the Kobayashi likeness, with the hard heel of his right boot, hard enough to make her left leg break at the point of impact. As it snapped under the heel of his boot, she grimaced in pain and grabbed her left shin with both hands, limping away from him on her good right leg.
“Let’s get to that air taxi before she recovers--that’s an order!” As he spoke, Captain Scarlet grabbed his radio-cap and hurriedly threw it back on his head. “Blue or Grey can destroy her after we’ve gone--the Emperor and Prime Minister are our main concerns!”
The two Spectrum personnel darted off towards the lobby entrance, but this time, there were no guards to block their way.
“We have to get aboard that taxi,” Harmony Angel reminded him. She gestured down a side corridor. “This way to the flight line.”
“Lead the way,” was all Captain Scarlet had to say.
“I would advise you to be careful, Captain Scarlet. Captain Yasuo Shinke, Commander Yoshiki Yamamoto, and Lieutenant Hiroshi Tachikawa, the flight crew for the Emperor’s and the Prime Minister’s planned air taxi, are all probably Mysterons, as I said earlier. And they may already be on board the taxi. Moreover, the regular workers may still think we are Mysterons ourselves.”
“Well, the Security Chief, Takashi Uchida, certainly vouched for us--however reluctantly,” was his response. “And thanks to him, we have carte blanche for the entire base.”
“But will that be enough?” As Harmony Angel spoke, she and Captain Scarlet were making their ways down the jetway to the cargo compartment on board the planned flight. They got there just as the compartment was being loaded.
“It’ll have to be.” Captain Scarlet, barely managing to conceal himself amongst the taxi’s freight, stowed away on board the craft. “Come on.”
Harmony Angel followed him on board, thankful for her comparatively small size.
The Mysteron likeness of Captain Yasuo Shinke made his way up the passenger steps to his taxi’s cockpit. Following him were the Mysteron likenesses of Commander Yoshiki Yamamoto and Lieutenant Hiroshi Tachikawa. All three had instructions from their masters to assassinate both Japan’s Emperor and the Prime Minister of the Cabinet, and to do so in a way that would humiliate Chan Kwan, known as Harmony Angel.
“These Earthmen will be just so many victims of our masters,” the Shinke likeness said in English. “What is of greatest importance is that we will make Spectrum’s Harmony Angel lose face with her people, never to regain it.”
“What about the Earthman Captain Scarlet?” asked the Yamamoto likeness.
“He is of no consequence,” said the Shinke likeness. “He cannot possibly stop the plans of our masters.”
The Tachikawa likeness asked, “What will be the best way to bring about the deaths of those two Earthmen so that Spectrum’s Harmony Angel will lose face with her people permanently?”
The Shinke likeness smiled cruelly. “Crash this taxi with all aboard.”
The Mysteronized flight crew members did not know that in the cargo hold, Captain Scarlet and Harmony Angel were listening in on their every word. Harmony Angel, for her part, was horrified.
“My parents invested their souls in this air-taxi company!” she whispered. “Whatever reflects on them will also reflect on me--Crown Prince Susumu would never allow me to be forgiven if we failed.”
“Well, it’s obvious that Captain Shinke, Commander Yamamoto, and Leftenant Tachikawa mean to see to it that we don’t stop them.”
“So what do we do?”
Captain Scarlet grinned in the darkness of the cargo hold in spite of the severe sinus headache from which he now suffered. “We stop them, of course.”
Harmony Angel could not keep from grinning herself.
On the ground outside the jetway, Conrad Turner, who was not unaware of what Captain Scarlet and Harmony Angel had done, spoke to the Mysteron likenesses of the flight crew members.
“Captain Shinke, Commander Yamamoto, Lieutenant Tachikawa, take heed. This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons,” he said. “Two Spectrum personnel have boarded your air taxi by way of its cargo hold. One of them is Spectrum’s Harmony Angel, whom we wish to ’throw out of tune,’ or discredit. The other is Captain Scarlet. See to it that they do not interfere with your carrying out your instructions from the Mysterons to crash your air taxi with all aboard. I will again remind you three--we must see to it that the Emperor and the Prime Minister are both assassinated in a manner that will humiliate Spectrum’s Harmony Angel beyond recovery.”
On board the air taxi, the flight crew likenesses nodded, fully intending the Mysteron instructions to be carried out.
Back at the base, the Mysteron likeness of Tomoko Kobayashi, recovered from Captain Scarlet’s defensive measure, was back in the dispatcher’s cubicle the original Kobayashi had used in life.
“The Spectrum personnel now on board your taxi must not be permitted to get to you,” she was telling the likenesses of the flight crew members in English.
“What I wouldn’t give for a Mysteron rifle in my hands at this point,” Captain Scarlet muttered under his breath. “But you ran the business for at least a year after your parents died; you know your way around the aircraft. Don’t they have electrical systems that can be exposed?”
“Hai, they do,” Harmony Angel answered, realizing what Captain Scarlet was saying. “Maybe if we get any one of them down here, we can maneuver that one into attacking us and send him directly into the main electrical transformer.”
“Exactly. We’d effectively be ’judoing’ him into destroying himself.”
Laughing, Harmony Angel said, “I’ll make a second-dan black-belt judoka out of you yet, Captain Scarletsan--mark my words!” He was already a first-dan judo black belt, thanks to her tutelage.
“I’d wait on that till after we prevent you from being humiliated--and save the lives of the Emperor and the Prime Minister.”
“That’s what I mean.”
“First we try to get to the flight crew. They’ll have instructions from their masters to prevent us from interfering with them, so we’ll see to it that they can’t carry those out.”
Peking Taxi Service Flight 1945 nonstop from Tokyo to Kyoto was now accepting aboard, as its sole paying passengers, Emperor Matsuhiro, Prime Minister of the Cabinet Matsuo Tanaka, and all ten of the total members of their known security details.
Neither the Emperor nor the Prime Minister had a need to know, at that point, that they also had an unknown security detail on board--Captain Scarlet and the Harmony Angel, both of whom were non-paying stowaways.
The Tomoko Kobayashi likeness spoke to the flight crew likenesses again, but now in Japanese, for which she had earlier expressed contempt. “As per our instructions, you are to travel on course for no more than an hour, then turn back and attempt to land without seeking clearance.”
Captain Blue was in communication with Cloudbase. “I’ll have to requisition an SPV, and I may have to use its power pack to catch either Scarlet or Harmony.
“Absolutely NOT!” Colonel White shot back in horror. “Use that pack to fly parachutes to them.”
This made Captain Blue cringe; he should have remembered that option. “Spectrum Is Green,” he acknowledged with a sheepish grin. Then suddenly, he chuckled nervously.
“What the devil is so funny, Blue?”
“I’m sorry, Colonel,” was the sheepish, unsmiling apology. “I’d almost forgotten that Scarlet and Harmony can take care of themselves.”
“Well, they’ll need all the help they can get. Requisition that SPV.”
“S.I.G. Blue out.” With that, Captain Blue made his way over to a small hangar near the base’s main building, unzipping the pocket on the lower left side of his sleeveless blue suede doublet as he did. Approaching the guard, he said, “Request SPV 3936.”
“Identification?” the guard asked in response.
“Captain Blue, Spectrum.” As he spoke, Captain Blue pulled out his identification card and unfolded it. It read: “This certifies that Captain Blue is a member of the Spectrum Organization.” Below that, it bore the signature, “Colonel White.” Encoded into the holographic layer covering his photograph were his credentials. The guard broke a small holoscanner out of a pocket of his uniform, touched it to the card, and waited till it flashed green. Then he said, “Inside the hangar. I’ll open it for you.” He made his own way over to the door of the hangar, broke out a ring of keys, fitted one to a lock on the left side of the door, and turned it clockwise. That done, he struck a red button, and the hangar door rose to reveal Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle Number Three-Nine-Three-Six.
“Where do you keep the emergency parachutes for your flight crew members?”
The flight was skyborne, and Captain Scarlet knew that the flight crew likenesses would make their move in less than an hour. He brought down the mike of his radio-cap.
“Scarlet to Blue,” he whispered. “I’m on board the air taxi with Harmony. And keep the volume of your responses low--the flight crew members are all Mysterons, and they know we’re here.”
“Scarlet, exactly where on board that air taxi are you and Harmony?” Captain Blue murmured.
“We’ve stowed away in the cargo hold. Thankfully for the both of us, the Emperor and the Prime Minister like to travel light; there isn’t much in the way of cargo.”
“Do you have any plans?”
“Not solid ones--but we do have ideas.”
“Just don’t waste your life doing your job.”
“S.I.G. Scarlet out.”
Captain Grey was in touch with Symphony Angel. “Approximately how many security personnel form the entourages for the Emperor and the Prime Minister?” he was asking her.
“When they were boarding the air taxi, I counted only ten,” was her response.
“Only ten? Scarlet’s gonna need a LOT of parachutes to get them all off board!”
“I heard that, Grey,” Captain Blue broke in from aboard SPV 3936. “I’ve GOT a lot. Fourteen, in fact. Twelve for the Emperor, the Prime Minister, and their security details; the last two for Scarlet and Harmony.”
“Now you’ll have to get those parachutes to them,” Symphony Angel reminded her boyfriend. “And that air taxi’s already skyborne, so you can’t get them in through the cargo hatch.”
“Oh, yes, I can, Symphony,” Captain Blue retorted. “In the meantime, the Mysterons had already taken over Tomoko Kobayashi, the base dispatcher, before we even got into the building. She and Fujio Sato, another Mysteron, had rigged the internal security system so that it’d think Harmony was a Mysteron herself. Grey, are you keeping tabs on her?”
“She’s lying low for now, since Scarlet broke her leg,” Captain Grey responded. “But her masters fight a war of nerves; it’s just a matter of time before she makes another move.”
“What happened to Sato?”
“Scarlet used the judo training Harmony’s given us to pitch him through the window, and he fell on top of a power pole and some power lines--the high voltage destroyed him instantly.”
Symphony Angel, not motionsick, sounded like she was gagging. “Oh, God. Destiny, are there any other unusual activities going on at your end?”
“Non, Symphony--not a one. Only the air taxi carrying l'Empereur, le Premier Ministre, et leurs groupes de sécurité.”
“Oh, pardonnez moi--I mean the Emperor, the Prime Minister, and their security details.”
“The one Scarlet and Harmony are aboard. Symphony, follow it--its flight crew may double back and try to make it crash with all hands aboard, and Scarlet’s probably trying to prevent just that.”
“S.I.G. Symphony out.”
Closing channels himself, Captain Blue pulled off his radio-cap and exchanged it for a radio-helmet. The one he found himself wearing was blue and black in color, and he had the ugly feeling of déjà vu as he recalled one hideous time when he had had to use a power pack near the London Car Vu Sky Park Tower. The rest, as Captain Scarlet could have reminded him, was history, as they said.
He strapped on the power pack and tethered the package of parachutes to one of the straps.
The Mysteron likeness of Lieutenant Hiroshi Tachikawa, whose original incarnation had been flight engineer of Peking Taxi Service Flight 1945, was suspicious of Captain Scarlet.
(Had that wretched Earthman set some sort of trap for him, he thought? Hadn’t they done enough damage with that unprovoked attack three years before?)
He descended into the hell-hole of the aircraft, where many critical components were located. In that cubicle, he suspected, the two Earthmen who had stowed away could get at him. And if they got at him, they could get at Captain Yasuo Shinke and Commander Yoshiki Yamamoto. So went his Mysteronized thinking. Thus he carried a pistol with him. It was a duplicate of the semi-automatic pistol that Conrad Turner had carried as Captain Black of the Spectrum Organization.
However, as he descended to use it, he heard Harmony Angel’s voice call out to him and shout mockingly in English, “What’s with the gun, Hiroshi? Don’t tell me--the big bad Mysteron agent is chicken!”
“You’ll pay dearly for your insolence, Earthwoman!” was his enraged response, which he also spoke in English. “Neither you nor the Emperor or Prime Minister will get off this air taxi alive!”
“Honestly, Mysteron--can’t you come up with something more original than that?” Captain Scarlet was somewhat exasperated at the near-cliché speech patterns the Tachikawa likeness was using. “We know what you’re planning to do--don’t be a fool!” He was speaking from very near the onboard circuit-breaker panel. Harmony Angel was ahead of him, at a much safer distance. His having to be so close to high voltage made Captain Scarlet nervous.
Back at the base, Captain Grey had requisitioned a Mysteron rifle, which was designed to fire Cherenkov radiation. This radiation, visible as the bright blue flash observed when an electron beam is accelerated to high velocity, is as poisonous in its own right to normal Earthmen as it was to Mysteron likenesses of them.
Whenever fired from a Mysteron rifle, Cherenkov radiation overloaded the retro-matter of Mysteron likenesses with so much electronic energy at a time that its ability to absorb electronic energy could not keep pace. The direct result of that overdosage bombardment was a paradoxical reaction in the retro-matter, and the electronic energy then prevented cellular division rather than accelerating it.
He was addressing Colonel White. “I’ve requisitioned a Mysteron rifle, and I mean to use it on Tomoko Kobayashi when she makes her next move.”
“The question is, Grey, will she make a next move?”
“Better safe than sorry. I’m sure you’ll agree.” The former WASP officer grunted in pain and held his back. “Though the weight of this damned rifle is making my back hurt like hell.”
“I’m afraid the Spectrum Research Centre is making no progress on that Mysteron pistol--you’ll remember what happened with it after I pulled Scarlet off furlough to test it last time.”
Captain Grey shuddered. “If he’d managed to test it, there wouldn’t be a Captain Scarlet now.”
“Just trap Kobayashi if she makes a next move.”
“S.I.G. Grey out.”
Captain Blue was skyborne, using the power pack. “Blue to Destiny,” he said. “Run a recon sweep of the cockpit. Seek and report.”
Destiny Angel brought her interceptor close to the cockpit of Peking Taxi Flight 1945 and paralleled its course. “Strange...” she mused aloud.
“There appear to be only two flight crew members in the cockpit--the pilot and the navigator. I do not see the flight engineer.”
“He probably headed below decks. I hope Scarlet and Harmony can handle him.”
The Mysteron likeness of Lieutenant Hiroshi Tachikawa had entered the cargo hold. “Come on out, Earthmen--there’s nowhere for you to hide!” he called out in English.
“Or you!” Captain Scarlet reminded the Tachikawa likeness. “Tachikawa--” and his tone became mocking-- “I’m laughing at this ’superior alien intellect.’” His voice dissolved in a sardonic chuckle.
The Tachikawa likeness could stand it no longer. Letting out an ear-splitting war-yell, he charged directly at where the voice fix had told him Captain Scarlet was, heedless that he was headed directly for exposed high-voltage electrical wiring. Pale and sweating, Captain Scarlet employed one of the oldest tricks in the book. He sidestepped to dodge. The Tachikawa likeness slammed directly into the wiring, and Captain Scarlet, momentum carrying him safely away, could only watch in horror as the high voltage destroyed the Tachikawa likeness with an ugly sizzling sound.
“Fry two Mysterons,” Harmony Angel muttered, about to vomit from the stench of burned flesh.
His composure recovered, Captain Scarlet said, “Right--now how do we get to the other two still on the flight deck? They won’t dare come down here.”
“Leave that to me.” Harmony Angel wore a sick smile. “You forget, I knew the original Yasuo Shinke and the original Yoshiki Yamamoto. They were not judoka.”
“How will that help us?”
“You saw, this morning, how proficient in judo Grey is. Five years ago, he was not a judoka either.”
“You plan to use judo on them?” The retro-metabolic human gestured warily to the exposed wiring, near where the corpse of the just-destroyed Tachikawa likeness had fallen to the deck. “How can I keep from being destroyed myself in that case?”
“Contact one of the others.”
Allowing his radio-cap mike to drop, Captain Scarlet said into it, “Scarlet to Blue--do you have any parachutes for us?”
“Blue here,” came the response. “That I do. Fourteen of them.”
“Keep them at the ready in case Harmony and I fail to regain control of this air taxi.”
“S.I.G. By the way, I just had Destiny check the cockpit--there are only two flight crew members there. What happened to the third?”
“He literally took more power than he could handle from the air taxi.”
“So he did go below decks, as I speculated to her. Did you electrocute him?”
“Not exactly--I would say he electrocuted himself.”
“I see. Spare me the details for now--I haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
“S.I.G.,” Captain Scarlet said with a smile. “Scarlet out.” He turned back to Harmony Angel. “Go above decks. You know those two are Mysterons. Bait them down here.”
“Will you get rid of Tachikawa’s body?”
“Of course. And of Shinke’s and Yamamoto’s in turn if they bite the bait.” Harmony Angel made no move towards the flight deck. “That was not a request, Harmony,” Captain Scarlet added in gently chiding tones.
“Spectrum Is Green,” was the acknowledgment he received.
Harmony Angel allowed her head to emerge onto the flight deck from the hell-hole. “Looking for me, Mysterons?” she teased.
“You sneaky Earthwoman!” the Yasuo Shinke likeness snarled. “You’re about to be thrown out of tune!” With that, he drew another duplicate of Captain Black’s Spectrum-issue semi-automatic pistol and fired--but missed.
“Just as bad a shot as ever, I see, huh, Yasuo?” With that, she grabbed his left foot. Screaming in surprise, the Shinke likeness found himself tumbling into the hell-hole. Hugging its side tightly to avoid being struck and dragged down with him, Harmony Angel could only watch as he fell and struck the deck head first.
In the cargo hold, Captain Scarlet grabbed the badly dazed Shinke likeness and threw him directly into the exposed wiring in order to destroy him, using the Shinke likeness’s body to insulate himself from sharing it. As he did this, he was trembling nervously.
On the flight deck, the Yoshiki Yamamoto likeness was struggling with Harmony Angel, but with the original Yamamoto not having been a judoka, he was no match for her. Using the uchi mata, or inner-thigh throw, she cleaned his chronometer.
In the cargo hold, Captain Scarlet grabbed the Yamamoto likeness, having to overcome fierce struggling from him. Sweating with effort and quite nervous since he was so close to an exposed electric source, he flung the Yamamoto likeness back first into the exposed wiring, where the high voltage destroyed him. The look of pain and horror on the face of the likeness just before he toppled over and crashed to the deck was appalling to see.
Harmony Angel regained the controls and executed a return course.
At the base, the Tomoko Kobayashi likeness was livid with insuppressible rage as Peking Taxi Flight 1945 executed its 180-degree turn too soon.
But she had no time to respond, as Captain Grey managed to break into the dispatcher’s cubicle and fire the Mysteron rifle, bad back and all. Her face contorted in pain and sorrow as she was destroyed. “Grey to Blue,” Captain Grey said. “Fry one Mysteron.”
“Scarlet here--you mean fry three,” Captain Scarlet’s voice broke in. “The entire flight crew of Flight One Niner Four Five was composed of Mysterons--and I do mean ’was.’”
Inside the cargo hold, there was an insistent knocking on the hatch. “Open up! We’ve got three dead Mysterons to get rid of before we can land this thing!”
Captain Grey could not keep from laughing. “Scarlet, you heard him--open the hold and let Blue get them out.”
“S.I.G., Grey--Blue, could you give them parachutes to guarantee that they land where we can recover the bodies?”
“Hold on, Scarlet, who the hell is flying this bird?”
On the flight deck, Harmony Angel broke in and explained, “Harmony here--that would be me. I’m taking us back to the base, where the Emperor and the Prime Minister can take another taxi to Kyoto. They’ll get there...only about an hour and a half late.”
“S.I.G. Blue out.”
After she and Captain Scarlet broke contact with Captain Grey, Harmony Angel went back into the passenger compartment. She addressed the passengers, saying, “We have been diverted back to Tokyo, and a different flight will be waiting there to take you all to your destination. It’s good to have you aboard...and a tremendous relief that you’re all alive.”
That was when Matsuo Tanaka beheld the face of the pilot--and that she was outfitted in an Angel uniform of Supekutoramu, not the customary uniforms of Peking Taxi flight crew members. As Captain Scarlet came out from behind the cockpit hatch, Tanaka gasped in disbelief, “Chan Kwan?”
Horrified at her own recognition of Tanaka, Harmony Angel blurted, “Sensei?”
Captain Scarlet himself demanded to know, in his own disbelief, “Harmony, are you telling me that you know the Prime Minister?”
“Oh, so sorry, please,” was her embarrassed response. “Captain Scarletsan, meet my former judo sensei, Matsuo Tanaka, Prime Minister of the Cabinet of Nippon.”
Addressing Tanaka, Captain Scarlet asked, “Let me get this straight. Harmony learned judo from you?”
“Captain Scarletsan, I was not always Prime Minister of the Cabinet!” Tanaka said with no small measure of irritation. “Nor was Chan Akiki Kwan always with Spectrum. Before I chose to enter politics and public service, I ran the Kodokan Dojo, and Chan was one of my best students.” He peered curiously at Harmony Angel. “So Spectrum calls you its ’Harmony Angel’ now, eh?”
Emperor Matsuhiro grinned. “The members of the flight crew--were they Mysteron agents?”
“And am I to understand, then, that both you and Captain Scarletsan destroyed all three of them between yourselves?
“Hai.” This from Captain Scarlet himself. He had remembered that “hai” is Japanese for “yes.” “That we did, Your Imperial Majesty.” He remembered the Emperor’s proper title of respect from what little briefing on Japanese culture Harmony Angel had had time to give him.
The Emperor and the Prime Minister smiled broadly. “Chan Kwan, Harmony Angel of Spectrum,” said the latter, “this day, you and Captain Scarletsan have gained much face before our people.”
“How did we do that, Mr. Prime Minister?” Captain Scarlet asked.
“By successfully protecting us both from Mysteron assassination,” the Emperor explained. “If not for your having stowed away aboard this taxi, Nippon would now be mourning both of our deaths and Chan Kwan and all the surviving members of her family would have lost too much face ever to regain any. You see, whosoever fails to protect either or both of us from being slain when it is within his or her power to do so shames himself or herself irredeemably before all of Nippon.”
“I’m going back to the cockpit to bring us in for the landing,” said Harmony Angel, too tired to feel gratified.
“And I’m going back to the cargo hold to help Captain Blue get the corpses of the flight crew phonies off board,” said Captain Scarlet. “It’s all over. The Mysterons have failed.”
It took three hours for the Spectrum Police to finish screening all the other employees of Peking Taxi to see whether there were any other Mysteron likenesses that Captain Scarlet and his team had missed. Thankfully, there were none. After Flight 1945 had landed at the base and everyone was off board, Harmony Angel addressed Hitachi Takamsa, in whose hands she had left Peking Taxi to join Spectrum. In Japanese, she said to him, “His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Matsuhiro and Prime Minister Tanaka, along with their security details, are to be booked on the next flight to Kyoto on a deadhead basis. They had paid their fare on this aborted flight.”
“We heard the story of how you and Captain Scarletsan protected them from assassination,” was his response, in English. “It’ll be part of the folklore of this service for years to come.”
“How did you know?”
“We followed it on radio channels,” said he, smiling. “You won much face with us, that’s for sure!”
“Nothing can change that we lost five good personnel to the Mysterons. Worst of all for me was two of those the Mysterons took over having tricked you into thinking I was a Mysteron myself.”
Tanaka, on his way to his flight, called out, “Harmony!”
Turning to him, Harmony Angel asked, “Yes, sensei?”
“His Imperial Majesty has invited Captain Scarletsan to be his guest at an evaluation tonight.”
“Who is being evaluated?”
“You.” Harmony Angel’s jaw dropped in surprise. “Seeing what you did today, I figured you may deserve to be awarded a black belt of the fifth dan.”
Captain Scarlet was close enough to hear, and his eyes widened. “For saving your lives?”
“That’s only part of it. She’ll be judged as well.”
It took half an hour for Captain Scarlet to clear it with Colonel White. Emperor Matsuhiro’s intervention helped ease the burden, but the CINCSPEC insisted that Captain Scarlet be ready for recall to Cloudbase on a minute’s notice.
“I would not have it otherwise,” the Emperor said. “Captain Scarletsan would not have been invited had he and your Harmony Angel not prevented the Mysterons from assassinating us.”
“I understand that Tanaka is Harmony’s former sensei,” the Colonel said.
“That he is, Colonel. He’ll be assisting in conducting Harmony’s evaluation.”
That night, Captain Scarlet was in the Kodokan Institute, judo’s first and greatest dojo, as a guest of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Matsuhiro. On the great mat were Matsuo Tanaka, Prime Minister of the Cabinet, and Harmony Angel. Both were in gis. Tabi socks covered their feet.
Over the following two hours, the two demonstrated the various kata, or forms, of judo. They began with the Randori-No Kata of free practice forms, which consists of two kata: each with fifteen distinct techniques, the Nage-No Kata of throwing forms and the Katame-No Kata of grappling forms.
Demonstration of these as tori, or user of the techniques, was among Harmony Angel’s tests for the godan, or fifth-dan black belt, shidoin rank. Tanaka was the uke, on whom the techniques were being used, which required Harmony Angel to throw him thirty times. The Katame-No Kata, which they demonstrated second, consists of osae-komi-waza, or holds, shime-waza, or chokes, and kansetsu-waza, or joint locks.
Old style self-defense forms, the Kime-No Kata, were demonstrated next. These were followed by the modern self-defense forms, the Kodokan Goshin Jutsu. Then came the Ju-No Kata forms of “gentleness.” The five forms, taken together as the Itsutsu-No Kata, were forms which Captain Scarlet knew all the judges were scrutinizing with the most sedulous, or thorough, care.
Ancient forms, the Koshiki-No Kata, followed. Finally came the Seiryoku Zen'yo Kokumin Taiiku-No Kata; this was the maximum-efficiency national physical education kata.
Captain Scarlet never took his eyes off the judges as they evaluated Harmony Angel. Finally, she and Tanaka bowed to each other and left the great mat.
“Chan Kwan, will you please turn in your belt?” the head judge, Noboru Kano, instructed. She complied. Rising, Kano tied another belt, also black in color, but having Hiragana and Katakana characters embroidered into it in red, around the waistband of the tunic of her gi. With that, he presented her with a plaque inscribed in Japanese in both Hiragana and Katakana characters and in English in the Roman alphabet.
“Chan Akiki Kwan,” Kano went on, “allow me to congratulate you on your successful advancement to the rank of godan, black belt of the fifth dan. Wear this belt with honor and dignity for all the days of your life.”
He bowed to salute her.
“And in respect to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Matsuhiro,” he added with a smile, “we will retain shiran-kao, which in English means ’keeping a straight face.’ or ’the face of him who knows nothing,’ in regard to your service in Spectrum.”
“Not an easy task, what with all the television cameras and video cameras around,” she retorted.
But Captain Scarlet only grinned. He had been prepared for that possibility, having requisitioned one of Spectrum’s photographic jammers to prevent just that on Colonel White’s instructions.
“Sayonara, Captain Scarletsan,” Tanaka said. “Do come again.”
Within the hour, the only clear, unjammed footage that would ever exist of the demonstration was being shown in the Cloudbase theater. The Colonel was quite pleased with the performance of this youngest and smallest of “the daughters he had never had.”
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