One man. A man who is different. Chosen by fate...caught up in Earth’s unwanted conflict with the Mysterons. Determined...courageous...indestructible.
His name: CAPTAIN SCARLET.
Captain Scarlet is indestructible. You are NOT. Remember this. DO NOT TRY TO IMITATE HIM!!!
A Short Story Written By PARKER GABRIEL
Based Upon The Format Developed By GERRY ANDERSON
And SYLVIA ANDERSON
From Characters Created By SYLVIA ANDERSON
The Spectrum Organisation had been graced with the service, in the senior staff of its command headquarters, the flying aircraft carrier called Cloudbase, of the youngest full colonel in World Army Air Force history, who had also been its top weapons expert before staging his own retirement to join Spectrum's ranks. That former WAAF colonel, Paul Stephen Metcalfe, had delivered so eloquent a valedictory speech upon his graduation from the West Point Military Academy as “First Captain” of his class that its transcription remained required reading for all cadets at the Point. But for most of his life, he had been very mortal, and vulnerable to drunkenness--till, that was, before his original incarnation had been killed and replaced with an exact likeness of him that the Mysterons, an alien race of sapient discorporates who knew the secret of reversing matter, had re-created after killing him but before his actual death. Upon his being killed a second time, the normal personality of his original self had resurfaced in his likeness, who had been under Mysteron control for six hours, to reassert control. That likeness had been left with the power of “retro-metabolism,” in that the matter of his body reversed itself spontaneously whenever he was injured or even killed, literally enabling him to come back from the dead if killed--and had thus become virtually indestructible.
Captain Scarlet, as the Spectrum Organisation now called Metcalfe, was now submitting with great reluctance to a test of his retro-metabolic virtual indestructibility.
On that Tuesday, 7 July, 2071, the Chief Medical Officer of Cloudbase, Dr. Edward Michael Wilkie, M.D., was conducting that particular test, which was of Captain Scarlet's tolerance of liquor. One of Captain Scarlet's fellow full captains in Spectrum, Wilkie was known within its ranks as Dr. Fawn. Not a heavy drinker before joining Spectrum’s ranks, Captain Scarlet actually hated to drink anything stronger than brewed beers, and even those rarely. But now here he was in Dr. Fawn’s SickBay, drinking a whole one-litre bottle of pure ethanol! It tasted horrid, and the retro-metabolic human wondered if Dr. Fawn was literally trying to rot his gut with this stupid experiment. But he dutifully drank the bottle’s contents dry, as he had been ordered to, and let out a disgusted belch.
“Yuk!” he grumbled with a grimace of distaste on his face, ten minutes later, as he allowed Dr. Fawn to take a sample of his blood. “Even without denaturing, I wouldn’t want to have to drink that bloody swill again.”
“If I'm right, after these tests are done you won’t have to, Scarlet."
“Won’t have to WHAT?” a stern voice suddenly snapped from outside the SickBay.
It was Colonel White. His white-and-black Spectrum radio-cap covered most of his straight white hair, and his blue eyes radiated disapproval.
“I’ll have your commission for this, Scarlet,” he went on. “Drinking on duty is a most serious offence! You of all people should know that by now!”
“Not on duty, Colonel--in the line OF duty!” Dr. Fawn broke in, no less displeased with Colonel White than the Spectrum Commander-In-Chief, or CINCSPEC, was with Captain Scarlet. “I ORDERED him to submit to these tests. They’re meant, first, to gauge his tolerance of alcohol and second, determine once and for all whether he’s still subject to intoxication.”
“I should tell you, sir,” Captain Scarlet added, “that I submitted to the doctor’s tests under protest. I don’t like to drink anything stronger than beer, and actually prefer the strongest black coffee.”
“I wish I could drink down some of that right now; at least it’d taste a hell of a lot better.”
“You’ll get that chance soon enough, Scarlet,” Dr. Fawn reassured him. “The analysis of your blood is coming through just now.” He studied the readings on the auto-analyser. “Hmm...just as I thought. I can’t find any measurable alcohol in your bloodstream.”
“I still have a blood-alcohol content of point double-oh?” Captain Scarlet was incredulous. “A full ten MINUTES after I drank a whole litre of undiluted ethyl alcohol?”
“Why, I never in my born years...” Colonel White gasped, his earlier fury spent in amazement.
“Not till now, at least,” Dr. Fawn noted to the CINCSPEC. Then to Captain Scarlet, he went on, “I do believe I should apologise to you for all this. Do you accept?”
“Yes, Doctor,” said the latter with a nod. “I’ll go get that coffee now, if you don’t mind--it should kill that rotten alcohol aftertaste.”
The physician shrugged. “My tests are all finished. Be my guest.” He turned to the CINCSPEC. “I’ll be here if needed.”
Colonel White turned to go, responding as he did, “Hopefully, you won’t be any time soon, not even to poke and prod Scarlet.”
As Captain Scarlet picked up his radio-cap and followed Colonel White out of the SickBay, both suddenly heard a deep slow voice over the Cloudbase speakers.
“This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen, and we have not forgotten your unprovoked attack. The Spectrum Organisation may claim higher moral standards than most Earthmen, but the greatest injury its Commander-In-Chief has ever suffered will ruin him and his organisation. Hear us, Earthmen, and take heed. Colonel White will be ruined by his greatest injury.”
“I’ll have one of the galley personnel bring that coffee to both of us,” Colonel White said. “Let’s both report to the Control Room now.” His radio-cap mike lowered in front of his mouth. “Lieutenant Green, yellow alert is now in effect. I say again: yellow alert is now in effect.”
“S.I.G.,” was the response from Lieutenant Green.
In the Control Room, Captain Scarlet had tucked his radio-cap under his left arm and now stood at attention in front of Colonel White’s semi-circular desk as the CINCSPEC took his seat behind it. That done, Colonel White pulled off his own radio-cap, stowed it beneath his desk, indicated two steaming coffees on a tray mounted on it, and asked, “Do you have any idea where Blue is?”
“Yes, sir--a very good one. He’s been in the galley since 05:00 hours this morning, and he’s still there now; he helped its staff whip up that delicious breakfast we all ate.” Both men referred to Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet’s field partner. “When he volunteered for galley duty yesterday, he said he had a special treat in mind for us.” As he spoke, Captain Scarlet picked up his coffee. “A very special treat indeed--Blue was as good as his word.”
Grinning, the colonel remarked, “About the only part of breakfast Blue doesn’t do well is coffee; who brewed that?”
“I did.” This from Lieutenant Green.
“Right...summon him to the Control Room; I have a better idea than I want to have of exactly what the Mysterons are planning this time.” With that Colonel White swigged his own coffee.
“S.I.G.” Then Lieutenant Green turned to his own board. “Captain Blue, report to the Control Room immediately.”
“S.I.G., Control,” came the responding voice with its faint hint of Bostonian accent.
“Does the latest Mysteron threat have something to do with the circumstances under which your wife died, Colonel?” Captain Scarlet asked after downing a prodigious portion of his coffee.
“I’m sure of it, Scarlet,” was the response. “That is indeed the greatest injury I have ever suffered. But how the Mysterons plan to use it to ruin me or Spectrum is what I don’t know. Yet.”
“What can you tell me about that experience, Colonel?”
“There’s not much to say.” Colonel White’s voice was gloomy as he remembered the tragedy. “At the approximate time I succeeded in cleansing the British section of the Universal Secret Service of mole infiltration, my wife, who was almost four months pregnant with the child who would then have been our first-born son, went into labour over five months ahead of schedule and developed pregnancy-related high blood pressure. One of the on-call obstetricians--I don’t remember his name at this moment--was a notorious alcoholic. He had been drinking heavily whilst on call, and he botched the suppression of her labour. Instead of having her labour suppressed, she suffered a miscarriage, and that caused a uterine haemorrhage that killed her.” He found he had to wipe a tear from his right eye. “Today would have been our son’s twenty-first birthday had he lived.” As he “chug-a-lugged” the last of his coffee, Captain Blue, out of breath from running, entered the Control Room.
“Take it easy, Blue,” the CINCSPEC went on. “Take your time and get your breath back.”
“You know, Colonel,” was Captain Blue’s response, “at times like this I almost wish I had Captain Scarlet’s retro-metabolic powers.”
“YOU DON’T MEAN THAT!” Captain Scarlet retorted in irritation. “You of all people should know what I lost to gain those abilities.” With that he polished off the last of his own coffee.
Captain Blue hung his head. For Captain Scarlet was right; he had indeed lost a great deal to become a retro-metabolic human. He had lost the life of the original Captain Scarlet, and physically he was a reversed-matter clone of the original.
“Besides, Captain Blue, it’s another loss the Mysterons have threatened to take advantage of to ruin me and Spectrum--the greatest injury I’ve ever suffered. In particular, the death of my wife and my unborn son...whom she died miscarrying.”
“Colonel, the Mysterons could use many details of that tragedy. Which do you think they will use?”
“That, Captain Blue, is what you and I will have to find out.” Then to the colonel, Captain Scarlet went on to ask, “Where’s Captain Ochre? We may have need of his investigative talents.”
“I’m afraid he won’t be available. He’s on an assignment with the Spectrum Police which he won’t be able to finish for at least two days. You two get under way--you’ll have to proceed without him.”
“S.I.G.,” responded both of the two younger men in unison.
Aboard a Spectrum Passenger Jet, with Destiny, Symphony, and Rhapsody Angels as their escorts, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue were on their way to the World Navy base in London which Colonel White had once commanded.
“I hear the colonel chewed you out for drinking on duty earlier this morning,” Captain Blue, who was flying the SPJ, was remarking.
“Almost,” Captain Scarlet, who was navigating, corrected, still indignant over the incident. “If Dr. Fawn hadn’t pointed out that I was actually drinking in the line of duty, I would have been chewed out. There are times when Dr. Fawn can be a real pain, and this was one of them--he wanted to test my tolerance of alcohol!”
“Well, at least you weren’t ordered to gamble, like you were when the Mysterons tried to destroy North America,” observed the New Englander. “Brilliant piece on Mysteron psychology, though, including your references to why you think their copies of us can’t get drunk.”
“Don’t forget, Blue, I am a copy of one of us. Besides, the best idea I have regarding how they may plan to use the colonel’s tragedy against him or us is only a guess.”
“Be that as it may, he thinks it best if we begin in London, where he headed up the World Navy’s British section. But I’m damned if I know why.”
Captain Scarlet said nothing. He already had several deep-rooted suspicions of his own, and those had more to do with the circumstances of how Charles Gray had been widowed than he was ready to reveal to Captain Blue just yet.
The possible confirmation of Captain Scarlet’s suspicions might have been found in a clinic located in Norwich, two hours by train from the London World Navy base, which tended to landed-gentry patients. For inside it were two of an obstetrician-gynaecologist who had just come under Mysteron control, the one standing over the other. As the Mysterons needed to do to re-create their exact likenesses of objects and/or people, the original was dead.
The sign on the door of the office read Dr. Oliver Watson, M.Sc., Obstetrician.
With the likeness of Dr. Oliver Watson was a man outfitted entirely in black, with a pallid complexion and sunken cheeks that heavy stubble emphasised. This man had once been known to Spectrum as Captain Black. “Doctor Watson,” said he in the deep slow voice of the Mysterons, “these are your instructions from the Mysterons.” And he went on to describe what the Watson likeness had to do.
The SPJ had landed at the World Navy base, and Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue were both off board. Captain Blue, in particular, was being viewed askance.
“They’re still sore at me for having bombed Atlantica along with Captain Ochre,” he said to Captain Scarlet. “And I don’t blame them. If I were them I’d be sore at me too.”
“You’d both been drugged,” the retro-metabolic human reminded his field partner. “You and Ochre both thought you were doing something other than what you were really doing.”
“That still doesn’t make me feel any less guilty about it. Look at them.” Captain Blue gestured around himself, to all the harsh glares and dirty looks that World Navy personnel were throwing his way. “I may as well be Captain Black himself for all the respect any of them are gonna give me.”
“For pity’s sake, Blue, it’s been three years! Can’t you let it go?”
“I’m afraid not. Not till they do, at least.”
The two made their shared way to the administration building, where the offices of the flag officer who now commanded the World Navy London Station, as it was officially known, were located.
That flag officer, a vice admiral named Edmond Willoughby, was not pleased at Captain Blue’s arrival. “The main reason I’m not ordering you arrested for what you and Captain Ochre did to Atlantica was why you two did it,” he said to Captain Blue as the two Spectrum captains entered his office. “Your Colonel White has explained to me that you and he were drugged, and that Captain Black had apparently tricked you both--neither of you had any idea what you were really doing.”
“Admiral, does the phrase ’statute of limitations’ mean anything?” asked Captain Scarlet gently.
“More than you seem to think, Captain Scarlet,” Willoughby conceded. “It’s an ancillary reason for my not having ordered Blue’s arrest.”
“There are two others,” Captain Blue said. “First, Colonel White already disciplined us for it; second, our consciences. I’ve always felt rotten about the incident since facing my memories of it.”
“Right--let’s get down to business,” Captain Scarlet broke in. “Who did you ’inherit’ your command of this station from?”
“One of the best leaders this Navy ever knew--Fleet Admiral Charles Gray.” Willoughby’s eyes were glowing as he remembered. “Made his reputation back when the military was tyrannising the realm. He more than proved his mettle by joining the rebellion against the junta and making his very first ship, the Inestimable, the flagship of his fleet. Had a brilliant World Navy career ahead of him--too bad he retired after that family tragedy he went through.”
“Was there any doctor on call at that time?”
“We did have a Dr. Oliver Watson serving at this station at about that time--an obstetrician,” Willoughby said. “He maintains a private obstetrics clinic not too many kilometres distant.”
“What manner of patients does he treat since getting drummed out?” asked Captain Blue. “Those private clinics are not cheap to maintain.”
“His patients can afford him without medical insurance. And he insists on being paid in cash.”
“So he isn’t exactly that moral or honest,” said Captain Scarlet. “How would you describe most of his patients?”
“Watson won’t deal with the World Armed Forces at all,” Willoughby noted. “His patients are local ’Sloane Rangers.’”
Captain Scarlet remarked, “Those would certainly be rich enough to pay him. Where’s his clinic located?”
“In Norwich, Captains.” The flag officer gave them the specific information.
Five minutes later, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue were leaving the World Navy London Station in a Spectrum Patrol Saloon Car, or SSC, bound for Norwich.
“I’ll requisition an SPV whilst you go to Watson’s Norwich clinic,” Captain Scarlet, who was driving, was saying. “See if you can’t find out more information about Colonel White’s family tragedy. And proceed on the assumption that Oliver Watson himself is in the hands of the Mysterons.”
“That isn’t gonna be easy,” Captain Blue noted. “We don’t know who worked for Watson, and for all we know, they may ALL be Mysterons by now.”
“Take that chance--it’s all we’ve got.”
“S.I.G.--the next SPV location should be just over that rise. We’ll split up there.”
The SSC, sure enough, made its way over the rise Captain Blue had mentioned--to come within sight of an almost-abandoned farm with two dilapidated barns.
Captain Scarlet got out and walked over to the house. There he grasped a brass door-knocker and struck it thrice.
“Requisitioning SPV Eight-Zero-Six-Six,” he said to the plain-looking, dowdily-outfitted young woman who came to, and opened, the door.
“Identification?” was her response.
The retro-metabolic human unzipped the lower front pocket of his scarlet tunic, pulled out and unfolded his official identity card, then presented it to her, saying, “Captain Scarlet, Spectrum.”
The woman held the card to a light in the door jamb just above the doorknob location. Then she stepped back inside the door and tapped a wall just inside the doorway. As she was handing Captain Scarlet’s identity card back to him, one of the two barns collapsed completely, revealing SPV 8066. Satisfied, Captain Scarlet walked away from the house towards the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle whilst Captain Blue waited in the SSC.
“Be careful,” called out the latter to his field partner as he got behind the wheel of the SSC.
Using his identity card, Captain Scarlet accessed the SPV door and strapped himself into the seat of the tank-like vehicle. Within minutes, he was driving the SPV along the motorway, but in a direction opposite Captain Blue’s. His course was one that he had decided Colonel White should determine.
Hence, he engaged the SPV’s on-board radio and said, “Scarlet to Control--have requisitioned SPV 8066 and am awaiting instructions.”
“Report,” Colonel White’s voice said crisply.
“That obstetrician you hold responsible for killing both your wife and unborn son is named Doctor Oliver Watson. He maintains a private clinic in Norwich, where I’ve sent Blue for more information on your specific case.”
“Thanks for the reminder, however unpleasant that memory may be. Is there anything more?”
“Both Blue and I are convinced that Watson is a Mysteron. Sir, if that’s true, at which locations could he cause you, and us, the most trouble?”
“There are many where he could,” Colonel White remarked. “However, since Watson probably hates me for having apparently ruined his World Navy career, offhand, I can think of only one where he definitely would--Spectrum Headquarters London. Is that where you’re heading?”
“I was going to wait for your orders before I went anywhere in particular.”
“You’ve got them now. Get to Spectrum Headquarters London straightaway, and make sure you get there before Watson does if you possibly can.”
“S.I.G.,” was Captain Scarlet’s acknowledgment.
The Mysteron likeness of Dr. Oliver Watson heard the voice of his re-creators inside his mind, as Captain Black spoke to him mind-to-mind.
“Doctor Watson,” said the former Spectrum agent directly into the Watson likeness’s mind, “this is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. We will take over Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle Eight-Six-Zero-Two for your usage, rigging it to explode upon frontal impact, and provide a duplicate of Colonel White’s uniform for you to wear. You will be seen by Spectrum personnel to have stolen Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle Eight-Six-Zero-Two from its place of concealment, and they will mistake you for Colonel White. Then, you will drive to Spectrum Headquarters London and use the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle to blow it to pieces, leading other Earthmen to believe that Colonel White has destroyed the London headquarters of his own organisation. In this way, we will cause Colonel White to be ruined by his greatest injury.”
The Watson likeness ran a hand through his straight white hair and said, “I know what I must do.” Then he added, “The Mysteron instructions will be carried out.”
At an automotive petrol station, an attendant was writing an entry in the station’s supply inventory log. Suddenly the attendant smelled smoke and just barely had time to flee before a dummy supply shed four metres behind the station exploded and caught fire.
Twin green rings of light swept the burning shed, then traced a spot a metre outside the blast radius to bring the shed and its contents under Mysteron control.
Captain Black and the Dr. Watson likeness, fifteen metres distant, watched.
Captain Blue was in the Norwich clinic Dr. Oliver Watson had operated. Having used his Spectrum ID to get inside, he had reached the doctor’s file cabinet and was on the verge of breaking into it.
“And just what do you think you’re doing there, mister?” a female voice suddenly asked from directly behind him as the muzzle of a gun barrel was shoved into his back.
Quickly holding up his hands, Captain Blue snapped, “Wondering exactly who in the hell you think you are, interfering with an official Spectrum investigation.”
“I’m the one asking the questions here--anyone could be a Mysteron phony,” the woman shot back. “Now turn around real nice and slow and keep your hands up where I can see ’em.”
Visibly irritated, Captain Blue did as he had been told.
“Now I mean to unzip and open the lower left pocket of your tunic and fish out whatever’s inside it,” the woman went on. “Almost anyone who’s determined enough can forge Spectrum ID; the real thing has a few security details that can’t be duplicated.”
“I know about those details, lady--my Spectrum ID card is genuine!” Captain Blue protested.
“I’m sure you think it is,” the woman remarked. “But I can’t take any chances.”
She reached for his tunic pocket and pulled the zipper open, the muzzle of the pistol she held never straying from his chest. That done, she carefully pulled out his identity card, still keeping the pistol trained on him. Eyes and gun muzzle still on Captain Blue, she brought the card over to a holographic scanner under which she held it. A green light winked on.
“Your ID card seems to be in order,” the woman added as she handed Captain Blue’s identification card back to him, using her free hand to do so. “But there’s one foolproof test I still have yet to run. Stand up against the wall.”
“Come on--take it easy, lady,” urged the visibly irritated Captain Blue, in grudging compliance with the woman’s demand, as she herself slowly backed up towards the shelves, still never lowering either the gun or her gaze. There, she pulled down a camera-like device with a red finish.
“This uses x-rays, and if you’re one of them it should give me a photograph of you in black and white.” She brought the device to her eyes, taking care to keep Captain Blue at gunpoint as she did, and depressed one of two buttons on it. “One...two...three...four...five. There--that should do it.” She then depressed the second button, and a sheet of developed printed film emerged from the device. She held it up.
“Well, what’s it say?” Captain Blue asked, his lack of patience growing.
The woman allowed herself to smile, handed the sheet of developed printed film over to him, and finally lowered her gun. “Negative--you’re no Mysteron, whatever else you are.”
“I could have told you that!” Captain Blue snapped as he sat down. “That’s a Mysteron detector you used on me--are you with Spectrum?” Unlocked from the heavy pressure of the woman’s glare, he was finally able to get a good look at her. She was black, and indeed, she reminded him very much of Melody Angel, except that her black hair was visibly shorter in length than that of the former WAAF flight lieutenant and that she appeared to be marginally but visibly older.
“Dr. Jessica Christie Logan, M.D., at your service, Captain Blue,” the woman said, not answering his question. “I was one of Dr. Oliver Watson’s junior partners in this clinic.”
Since his time was limited, Captain Blue decided not to pursue the question, asking her instead, “What can you tell me about him?” As he spoke, he placed the Mysteron detector photo, which showed an x-ray of both his own head and some of the workings of his radio-cap, on the desk.
“He was far from warm and fuzzy, I can tell you that--more like cool and distant. When I came here across the pond from Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I’d gotten my M.D. at the age of twenty, I didn’t really have a medical specialty to speak of; once I joined his staff, I was as much a general women’s practitioner as an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Since, as I’ve said, he was cool and distant, I had to provide the warmth and fuzziness that his patients needed more than half the damned time. And they all needed a LOT of it!”
“Did he have any close friends?”
“Not a one. What he had was one enemy--complained about him non-stop, in fact. Fella by the name of Charlie Gray. Beats me who the hell he was; Dr. Watson wouldn’t say. I think he might’a been some sailor or other.”
“What grudge did HE have against this Charlie Gray?”
“Guy blamed him for screwing up his career,” Logan explained. “Got it into his thick skull that Watson was responsible for his wife losing a kid and going belly-up.”
“What do you mean, going belly-up?”
“Died losing a miscarried boy.”
Captain Blue said nothing else about that. He knew the story of how Colonel White’s late wife had died, miscarrying their unborn son, at the hands of a drunken obstetrician-gynaecologist. Still, he had to know more.
Hence he asked aloud, “Did Watson drink?”
“Like a damned fish!” Logan spat. “Used to keep his booze in the used bottles of sterile irrigation water--favoured vodka because it looks like water. Trouble was, he drank too well! Most of the time, you couldn’t tell whether he was plastered without a damned blood test; coulda passed field sobriety tests on the road--just barely.”
Captain Blue’s complexion turned pale-coloured with fury. If Oliver Watson had been that way when he was alive, then what did the Mysterons have in mind for their likeness of him, who couldn’t get drunk any more than Captain Scarlet could, which was not at all?
Aloud he said, controlling his anger with an effort, “Be all that as it may, would it be too much for you to help me look through Watson’s records? That was what I was trying to do when you confronted me.”
“Not at all. Which ones in particular are you looking for?”
“The ones relating to this Charlie Gray. The ’Charlie’ is obviously a nickname for ’Charles,’ so let’s start there.”
(S.I.G., Captain Blue, Logan thought.) Aloud she said, “You check the paper files, like you looked like you were doing when I caught you; I’ll check the computer files.”
“I’ll need a key to the paper files,” Captain Blue said. “You have one?”
“Here you are.” Logan tossed him a ring of keys. “Mine is marked with tape.”
Catching the ring of keys deftly, Captain Blue hunted through them and located the key Logan had indicated. As he was using it to open the file cabinet, Logan typed on a computer keyboard.
But what she typed into the computer was NO search for any records relating to anyone named Charles Gray. Instead, on her screen could be read, Doc 1C-CW. CB present--orders? This meant Doctor First Captain to Colonel White. Captain Blue is present--orders?
Then came another message, a response that Logan had not typed. Co-op. CB sent by CS. This meant Co-operate. Captain Blue was sent by Captain Scarlet.
Logan typed SIG in response. Then she did search for the records relating to the man she knew as Colonel White. She called up the name “Gray, Charles.” The computer screen showed a complete history of Charles Gray’s life and career, and that history had what, to Logan, was an alarming punctuation. It read Destroy the tyrant who destroyed me. It was hand-written; Watson had obviously used a graphics tablet to write it directly into the computer. She hard-copied the entire file and gave its contents to Captain Blue when he walked over--with his arms full of file folders.
“You’re gonna have to reclaim your keys,” he said, obviously having a great deal of difficulty holding the ring of keys in the fingers of his left hand.
“Here.” Logan pulled the keys out of Captain Blue’s hand.
Less than a minute later, after Captain Blue had driven the SSC away, Logan pulled off her lab coat and a pair of white trousers.
Just outside the Norfolk county limits, a man outfitted in a Spectrum uniform with white tunic, white-and-black radio-cap, and white boots had shot and killed the attendant at the automotive petrol station, where the original shed had by now burned out. He was now driving along the motorway towards London, at breakneck speed, in a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle. Captain Blue, though he had seen the attack, had been too late to do anything about it, and he was horrified at what he now saw. (My God, he thought, that can’t be Colonel White, can it?) He promptly activated the mike of his own radio-cap and snapped, “Blue to Control--come in, Colonel White.”
“White here--go ahead, Captain Blue,” came the gratifying response.
“Colonel White, are you still on Cloudbase?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, you’re not gonna believe this, but I just saw you steal an SPV from one of its hiding places and drive off at full throttle.”
“You saw ME?”
“Yeah...but I think I may be cracking up from our having been too busy of late. Wonder if Dr. Fawn could make a determination?”
“Oh, my God.” Colonel White was aghast. He had forgotten that neither Captain Scarlet nor Captain Blue had the slightest idea what Oliver Watson looked like. Come to think of it, he himself had not seen the obstetrician-gynaecologist in years, and no longer remembered Watson’s appearance himself. If only he had given better instructions, or even a briefing about Captain Blue, to Dr. Lime...
Aloud he went on, “I’m going down there. I’ll leave Captain Grey in command of Cloudbase, and Dr. Fawn will join me.”
“S.I.G.--it’ll be a relief to see the real you.”
“Likewise.” Breaking contact, Colonel White snapped, “Lieutenant Green, summon Captain Grey to the Control Room to take command of Cloudbase and have Dr. Fawn meet me at the SPJ hangar.”
“S.I.G.,” Lieutenant Green said in an almost perfunctory voice. Then, more crisply, he went on, “Dr. Fawn, report to the SPJ hangar to rendezvous with Colonel White. Captain Grey, report to Control to take temporary command of Cloudbase.”
Two distinct “S.I.G.’s” answered him.
In Norfolk, after Captain Blue had gone, a black woman outfitted in a Spectrum uniform whose radio-cap, tunic, and boots were all bright yellow-green in colour came upon the same petrol station. She was horrified to find it a shambles.
Walking through it, she found the attendant, from whom she had been planning to requisition one of Spectrum’s numerous Pursuit Vehicles, dead, and the Pursuit Vehicle whose custodian he had been, SPV 8602, missing. Alarmed, she activated her radio-cap and called Cloudbase Control.
Back aboard Cloudbase, still unaware of what had transpired in Norfolk, the colonel seized his radio-cap from beneath his desk and pulled it on. Then he got out from behind his desk and stood at attention to await Captain Grey’s arrival. That came within the minute. Captain Grey punctuated his arrival in the Control Room with a smart salute, even though he was “uncovered,” since the colonel was not.
“Relieving you,” he said.
“Don’t run us into any harsh weather whilst I’m gone, hmm?” The CINCSPEC grinned and returned Captain Grey’s salute as he spoke.
“Easy for you to say, sir,” cracked Captain Grey. “I’ll grant you, Lieutenant Green here may be good, but even he can’t predict the weather, much less control it.”
Pretending to be miffed, Lieutenant Green retorted, “Who said I was planning to work out a way to control the weather? The World Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a big enough job as it is, trying to predict it!” But he could not keep a straight face, and the three were soon laughing.
“Just keep this base in one piece whilst I’m gone--and don’t allow it to become a rest centre,” added the colonel.
“S.I.G.,” Captain Grey said.
“Report from just outside Norfolk,” Lieutenant Green suddenly broke in, alarmed at what he had been told. “It says that an attempt Dr. Lime just made to requisition SPV 8602 failed because it had already been stolen.”
Captain Grey’s mouth dropped open.
“That dovetails with Blue’s report--have Lime requisition an SSC instead,” Colonel White snapped. “I’m willing to deduce that it was Watson who stole that SPV, probably disguised as me. And inform Lime--this is imperative--that under no circumstances is Watson to be allowed to reach Spectrum Headquarters London!”
“S.I.G.” The aide turned back to his board and relayed Colonel White’s order to Dr. Lime.
“Explanation?” was the crisp female response.
Lieutenant Green said, “Watson may be a Mysteron.”
There was a brief hesitation. But the only response to that was, “S.I.G.”
Colonel White and Dr. Fawn, wearing their respective radio-caps, were aboard SPJ 196 within ten minutes. Colonel White was actually flying the SPJ, with Dr. Fawn as his passenger; Melody Angel was acting as navigator. Ahead of them was a single escorting Angel Interceptor, with Harmony Angel at its controls. “White to Spectrum HQ London--have an MSV available for me and Dr. Fawn the second we land,” the CINCSPEC snapped.
“S.I.G.,” was the response.
Then the colonel switched channels. “Colonel White to Dr. Lime--how far are you from London?”
“About twenty kilometres, sir,” Dr. Lime answered in the crisp female voice that had spoken to Lieutenant Green not ten minutes before. “I’m driving an SSC as you instructed.”
“Do you have a fix on Watson’s position?”
“Uh...that’s a negatory, Colonel. Holding site for SPV Eight Six Zero Two is S.I.R.--I found its storage shed burned down and the attendant dead.”
“Acknowledged,” the CINCSPEC said with a grimace. “Assume that the Mysterons have taken over SPV 8602 and booby-trapped it for Watson’s benefit.”
“S.I.G.,” Dr. Lime’s voice said. “Lime out.”
Turning to Colonel White, Dr. Fawn said, “Were Watson’s alcoholism and its role in your wife’s death the reasons you insisted that drinking on duty be a more serious offence that it is in any other branch of the military?”
“Yes, they had much to do with it, I’ll admit. But the rest of it is just plain common sense. Who wants drunken personnel on duty when their being intoxicated can cost lives?” The colonel bowed his head. “And lead to poor decisions, lapses in judgment, or such? Damn it, Dr. Fawn, we’re at WAR!”
“So that’s it. You’re trying to prevent someone else from experiencing what you did.”
“And enforce discipline at the same time. Drunken personnel are sorely lacking in discipline, and in that condition, they’re liable to make mistakes with delicate or potentially dangerous procedures.”
Dr. Fawn nodded slowly, sadly. “As Watson did trying to suppress your wife’s premature labour.”
“Worst of all for my wife, Ollie Watson was on call--and drinking on call or on duty is a court-martial offence in the World Navy.”
“I begin to understand you.”
Though that called for a response, Colonel White had nothing to say.
Captain Scarlet had reached the outer borders of the area containing the Spectrum Organisation’s London Headquarters. He had debarked from SPV 8066, the SPV he had requisitioned, not far from the perimeter that normally kept out unauthorised personnel. He took stock of his surroundings. There was an electrical sub-station, which carried electrical voltages high enough to destroy him--or the Mysteron likeness of Dr. Oliver Watson.
There was the main road that ran alongside the perimeter, but no sign yet of the Watson likeness.
And, of course, there were armed guards outfitted in Spectrum uniforms. The gray, white, and black colours of their uniforms, and the lack of colour-coded piping, made it clear that none of these were senior personnel. Only the red-finished Mysteron detectors hanging round their necks gave any real colour to their uniforms. Captain Scarlet wondered how long it would be before Captain Blue got there in the SSC he had been driving. His own SPV was on the westbound side of the road, directly in front of Spectrum HQ London. Some civilians were going about their businesses; more might be present later.
An SSC headed eastbound down the road and passed his position at high speed, its driver not stopping to acknowledge him. Captain Scarlet was amazed that what he had just seen of the driver, who was black, was outfitted in a Spectrum uniform with brilliant greenish colours, but was female. (I don’t understand--has Lieutenant Green had a sex change without informing the colonel, he thought?) Activating his radio-cap mike, he said aloud, “Scarlet to Control--Lieutenant Green, do you copy?”
“Go ahead, Scarlet,” came the Cloudbase communications officer’s unmistakably male voice.
“Lieutenant, I just saw a female Spectrum officer, outfitted in a uniform similar in colour to yours, driving an SSC due east past my location.”
“That was Dr. Lime, Scarlet,” Lieutenant Green explained. “She’s on assignment in Norwich.”
“Are you sure she’s not in the hands of the Mysterons?” Captain Scarlet asked in alarm.
“Positive,” was the response. “And we’re all just as positive that Dr. Oliver Watson is.”
“Well, I’m waiting on Captain Blue now; he’s heading due west. How far is he from my current position?”
“Approximately two minutes; he’s easily fifty kilometres ahead of SPV 8602’s current position.”
“It may interest you to know that both Colonel White and Dr. Fawn are on their way to Spectrum HQ London--they left Cloudbase aboard SPJ 196 over ten minutes ago, after Captain Blue reported seeing SPV 8602 stolen from its holding site by a man he thought might have been Colonel White. They’ll requisition an MSV once they get there--unless they already are there.”
As Lieutenant Green was speaking, a Spectrum Maximum Security Vehicle, with its driver’s cabin on the right side, had approached Captain Scarlet from the east. In the driver’s seat was Dr. Fawn. Seeing the retro-metabolic human, he depressed a button switch in the door. This opened a large side window mounted in the MSV door, through which the doctor, upon seeing his patient standing near the SPV, called out in a tone of less-than-appropriate familiarity, “G’day, Scarlet!”
Captain Scarlet, irritated, did not acknowledge his physician’s greeting immediately. Addressing Lieutenant Green, he instead remarked, “They are indeed, Lieutenant, and that they have. Thank you for the information.” At that moment, his tunic’s epaulets flashed blue, and he heard Captain Blue’s voice in his radio-cap speakers. “Blue to Scarlet--now heading westbound, towards Spectrum HQ London,” it said. “Will rendezvous with you in less than half of one minute.”
Looking eastward, Captain Scarlet saw the SSC approaching his position. “S.I.G.--I see you now, Blue,” he said. “Scarlet out.” As he broke contact, he failed to notice another SPV parking not too far from his own position. He did, however, notice a dull ache that he had begun to feel in his sinuses.
The Watson likeness had had trouble driving SPV 8602, even with the Mysteron takeover of it that Captain Black had arranged, since he knew less about it than any genuine member of Spectrum did. Hence he had driven it somewhat more slowly than the usual motorway speed and been more defensive in his driving of it than its capabilities usually permitted.
Captain Blue was out of the SSC and had rendezvoused with Captain Scarlet.
“Dr. Fawn’s in there,” he said to his regular field partner, jerking his left thumb towards the MSV. “You look like hell.”
“Feel like it too,” was the response. “My sinuses are achy.” But then a horrified expression crossed Captain Blue’s face. Captain Scarlet was alarmed. “Captain Blue, are you all right?” he went on to ask in concern. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”
As Captain Scarlet turned round, two men approached him.
“Yes, Captain Scarlet?” said one of them.
“What do you want?” asked the other.
It was then that Captain Scarlet saw, and realised, what had horrified Captain Blue so much.
Colonel White and the Mysteron likeness of the obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr. Oliver Watson had virtually identical physiognomies!!
Worse yet, they spoke with virtually identical voices!!
But worst of all for Captain Scarlet, they were both outfitted in virtually identical Spectrum uniforms!!
(No wonder Blue was so horrified to see “Colonel White” here, Captain Scarlet gasped mentally! And no wonder he thought it was Colonel White who stole that SPV!) Aloud he snapped, “All right, which one of you is Colonel White?”
“Any other stupid questions?” the man standing on Captain Scarlet’s left snapped.
The man on Captain Scarlet’s right spat, “Can’t you see how obvious it is?”
“It is not obvious,” Captain Scarlet snarled through clenched teeth. “You two may look and sound identical, but you’re not. One of you is the CINCSPEC and my CO; the other killed my CO’s wife and unborn son by botching the suppression of her labour less than halfway through her pregnancy.” He shouted into the air, “Even without the Mysteron detector I have in my SPV, I know something about the real Colonel White that only he and I would know--something your copy of Oliver Watson wouldn’t! You have only so much information about Colonel White--what do you think I’ll ask him?”
“Damn you, Captain Scarlet, this is no time for games!” Captain Blue yelled at him. “If you’ll just wait a minute, I’ll go get a Mysteron detector out of the MSV and that way we’ll both know for sure!”
“Then go get it, but let me ask them something. The Mysterons are not as infallible as they want us to think, remember. All it’ll take is one question.”
Throwing up his hands, Captain Blue sighed in exasperation. “Spectrum Is Green,” he responded in visible frustration, emphasising the expanded acronym to indicate he was agreeing under protest. “Ask your damned question--but it’d damned well better be a good one.”
Satisfied, the retro-metabolic human turned to face the two men, folding his arms with a wide smile on his face. As he retrieved the Mysteron detector from the SSC, all Captain Blue could do was stand and watch apprehensively.
“Admiral,” Captain Scarlet asked both men, “what was the first warship you ever commanded when you became a captain in the World Navy’s British section?”
As he trained the Mysteron detector on the two men and shot the photo, Captain Blue regarded the retro-metabolic human with a suspicious expression. All he could think of was to wonder what the hell kind of bonkers question that was. The fact that the Inestimable was the first warship Captain Charles Gray had ever commanded in the World Navy was not exactly classified information! Both men would be likely to know it.
But the man standing on Captain Scarlet’s left snapped angrily, “Scarlet, stop calling me ’Admiral!’ That’s an order!”
“S.I.G.--sir!” With that Captain Scarlet levelled his pistol--and fired it at the man standing on his right! The one round he discharged grazed the shoulder of the other man, staining his white tunic with blood.
In pain from the sudden wound, the man whom Captain Scarlet had fired at grimaced, snarling, “Wretched Earthman!!” He turned and fled towards the SPV he had parked nearby.
“I--I don’t believe it,” gasped the amazed Captain Blue, handing the photograph to Captain Scarlet. “How--how did you know?” The photograph from the detector showed two men side by side; the one man appeared in a skeletal view whereas the view of the other appeared to be a monochrome photo of Colonel White.
“The colonel made Director of USS London after Watson made that cock-up with his wife and their son--Watson never saw him again after that happened and couldn’t possibly have known that Colonel White HATES being called ’Admiral’ these days,” Captain Scarlet explained.
“Well, his likeness definitely knows it now, Scarlet,” Colonel White chided. “Get into the SPV you requisitioned and go after him.”
“S.I.G., Colonel White,” acknowledged Captain Scarlet with a smile as he re-boarded his own SPV. Then to Captain Blue, he went on, “Do whatever he says we’ll need to do.”
“S.I.G.,” was the response. Then Captain Blue turned to the CINCSPEC. “Sir, let’s execute the classic military manoeuvre known as getting the hell out of here.”
“Let’s,” Colonel White echoed with a nod as Captain Scarlet drove his SPV eastbound in apparent retreat. The two men ran for the MSV, and Captain Blue boarded the operator’s cabin.
But as he got behind the controls, he pointed out the windscreen and gasped, “Colonel! Doctor! LOOK!” The CINCSPEC and Cloudbase’s Chief Medical Officer scrambled to the windscreen and looked out through it. There they saw a pallid-faced man who now stood near where the other SPV had been parked.
It was Captain Black. Already the last person any of them expected to see there, the Mysteron captive was outfitted in his all-black Spectrum uniform!
“Complete the manoeuvre of getting us out of here, Blue,” Colonel White said. Activating his own radio-cap mike, he went on, “White to Scarlet--do you have any plans?”
“Only one--ram his SPV with mine in a head-on collision,” Captain Scarlet responded. “Hopefully, it’ll also take out some power lines and destroy the Watson likeness whilst he’s still outside Spectrum HQ London.”
“Scarlet, do you mean to crash your SPV deliberately?”
“Yes, I do. I’m gambling on Watson’s lack of knowledge of the SPV, and that he won’t be able to eject in time, as I will.”
“S.I.G., then, Captain Scarlet. White out.” The CINCSPEC broke the connection with Captain Scarlet as Captain Blue drove the MSV out of the potential impact radius at such speed he actually made the tyres burn some of their rubber.
Emboldened at Captain Scarlet’s apparent retreat, the Watson likeness gunned the motor of his SPV and headed north, towards the perimeter of Spectrum HQ London.
But he did not get far before the other SPV, turning south, charged directly into his at maximum speed. The noise of the SPVs’s engines caused some curious civilians to stop dead in their tracks and “rubber-neck” towards the potential impact site.
Alarmed, Captain Blue drove the MSV close to the potential impact site, stopping it a scant twenty metres distant. Then he leapt out of the cabin, grabbing a bullhorn from inside the MSV, and ran to see if he could get the innocent bystanders out of the way and to safety. As the crowd of civilians was gathering, the alarmed Captain Blue found that he had to fire his Spectrum-issue pistol into the air to frighten them off, hollering into the bullhorn as he did, “EVERYBODY GET BACK!! GET BACK FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY!! THEY’RE GONNA BLOW!!”
It worked. The civilians in the crowd screamed and rushed pell-mell in nearly all directions, just to retreat from the crash that they now knew was inevitable.
The sound of crunching metal was appalling to hear. Then came a thunderous explosion from both SPVs as Captain Scarlet succeeded in ejecting from his. Dr. Fawn cringed visibly in horror as he beheld the bloodied burned body of the Mysteron survivor, now dangling in midair, drifting down near his own position, and saw that Captain Blue’s uniform had caught fire too.
Captain Black looked on in visible disappointment.
As his injuries from the crash and the fire that had begun to consume the guts of his SPV both overtook him, Captain Scarlet had pushed the SPV’s ejection seat lever, igniting its explosive bolts. The sudden shock of those bolts detonating, just as its high-octane fuel detonated as well, had stunned him, in his weakened condition, into unconsciousness.
Grabbing each of the two carbon-dioxide fire extinguishers and yanking out the pins that held their discharging grips in safe position, Colonel White and Dr. Fawn both leaped off board the MSV and scrambled over to Captain Blue’s position, carrying the heavy extinguishers. Aiming the wide nozzles directly at the Bostonian and upending the large tanks, they squeezed the discharging grips and waved the large nozzles from side to side, soaking Captain Blue’s burning uniform and blistering face with carbonic snow and cold gas.
Captain Blue shivered visibly from the cold. “Scarlet!” he urged Dr. Fawn. “Get Scarlet!”
“Bloody ’ELL no!” Dr. Fawn spat back. Under his breath, he hissed into Captain Blue’s right ear, “Scarlet can retro-metabolise; you CAN’T!”
That was when the electrical sub-station weakened in the crash collapsed directly on top of both burning SPVs. The sparking and flashing was horrifying to see, even as the high electrical voltage destroyed the Watson likeness. “If Scarlet’s to retro-metabolise, one of us will have to make sure he doesn’t hit those live power wires as he lands,” Dr. Fawn noted anxiously, grimacing at the blisters forming on Captain Blue’s face.
“I’ll do that,” said Colonel White. Still clutching his own fire extinguisher, the CINCSPEC scrambled to where he was sure Captain Scarlet would land, then discharged it to blast the falling body as far away from the lines as he could.
It was just barely enough.
Captain Scarlet touched ground scant centimetres from where the live wires had fallen and, much to the relief of the other three men, the ejection parachute fluttered and sank into a collapsed state in a direction opposite from the wires.
The impact was just enough to revive him somewhat.
Captain Black reached Captain Scarlet first. Though his current masters, the Mysterons, were not about to allow him to act upon his concern for the protégé he had called friend before they had taken him prisoner, he had already determined that on this occasion, he would not take any hostile action against the one man who had successfully escaped Mysteron control.
Again struggling against loss of consciousness, Captain Scarlet watched Captain Black approach him. It irritated the retro-metabolic human. “What are you waiting for, Captain Black?” he demanded to know of the Mysteron captive. “Why not kill me now and get it the hell over with?”
“Oh, no, Captain Scarlet,” was Captain Black’s response, in the deep slow voice of the Mysterons. “I will not kill you myself; that would be too easy. Rather, I will merely watch as your own injuries claim your life.”
“And gloat?” The injuries the Mysteron captive mentioned included a collapsed lung, from which pain now made the retro-metabolic human wheeze. “Is this how your masters get their kicks?”
“You have drawn a mistaken conclusion about the Mysterons,” Captain Black corrected. “We did not want this war any more than you did. But the unprovoked attack your Zero-X Mission made on our Martian complex denied us a choice but to declare it, and then fight it once we had.” Bitterness was audible in the deep slow voice. “We take no more pleasure in this war than you Earthmen do. We pursue it because we have a sense of justice, as your own speculative report on our psychology to the Spectrum Research Centre correctly states.”
“What happens now?” By now, Captain Scarlet was having trouble breathing.
“We will meet again, Captain Scarlet. When you submit your next report to Colonel White, tell him that this battle in our war of nerves against Earthmen is all over, that we have failed...and that we will continue to take our revenge upon your people. Our retaliation will be slow, but nonetheless effective. And even as the damage we inflicted is done, so too will our next act of retaliation inflict a crushing blow upon your world.”
His voice an agonised gasp, Captain Scarlet responded with an effort few other men could have possibly mustered, “And--we’ll--be there to--minimise the--the damage, even as--as we were here--here to--minimise it this time.”
“I am sure of it. Remember...I will return...so watch and beware.” As he spoke, Captain Black came to attention and faded out, with his right hand snapped smartly to the brim of his radio-cap in salute to his protégé turned enemy.
And Captain Scarlet allowed himself to lose consciousness again as Dr. Fawn approached him.
“I’ll have you back in my SickBay soon,” the physician said. “Rest now.” He gestured to Captain Blue and Colonel White to come forwards and help him.
Captain Scarlet awoke in the Cloudbase SickBay, six hours later, and underwent his fitness-for-duty examinations. The first face he saw upon awakening, as was customary after his retro-metabolic recoveries, was that of Dr. Fawn. But by the time the physician had completed the examinations, he looked exhausted.
“You look like hell,” noted the retro-metabolic human.
“Feel like it too.”
“Well, look at it this way--at least you got more time to observe my retro-metabolism in action, and up close at that, than usual.”
“It was time I hated taking advantage of, I’ll tell you that right now. How Captain Blue copes with it is something I honestly don’t think I’ll ever understand.”
“There are many times when even I don’t understand how I cope with it,” Captain Blue’s voice said from just outside the SickBay as he entered, motivating both Captain Scarlet and Dr. Fawn to turn in his direction. Now standing side by side with Colonel White, who had entered immediately behind him, he had showered and switched to a fresh uniform.
Only the freshly-treated burn scars on his face gave away the fact that he had even been as close as he had gotten to the head-on collision of the two SPVs.
“I’ll never understand how Blue copes with Scarlet’s death-watches either, Doctor,” the CINCSPEC confessed. “But I do wish you’d send Scarlet to the room of sleep when you release him. What’s more, I’m ordering you to invalid yourself off duty and report to the room of sleep yourself. You look the worst I’ve ever seen you since Scarlet became indestructible.”
Yawning, Dr. Fawn turned to the young black woman, outfitted in colour-coded Spectrum uniform, who had just entered the SickBay. “Take over for me, Dr. Lime,” he said to her. “I won’t be available for a while.” Captain Scarlet saw, from his sickbed, that her tunic and boots were green in colour, but he also saw that their green colouration was visibly yellower than that of Lieutenant Green’s. In addition, he realised, there was something familiar about the woman Dr. Fawn had identified as Dr. Lime...some half-remembered aspect of her physiognomy Captain Scarlet could not quite place.
“S.I.G., Dr. Fawn,” she responded. “The way you look now, I’d strap you to a bunk in the room of sleep myself if the Colonel here didn’t frown on that kind of treatment.”
The sound of her voice completed the momentary puzzle in the mind of the former WAAF colonel and West Point First Captain.
“Oh, my God...Jessica, is that you? Here?”
“You know her, Scarlet?” Colonel White asked in puzzlement.
“He sure does, Colonel--and so do I,” Captain Blue broke in. “This is the doctor from New Jersey my report mentioned, the one in Norwich who gave me such a hard time at first when I was trying to get access to Watson’s records--Jessica Christie Logan.”
“Talk about a small world!” Captain Scarlet said as he rose from the bed, heading for the room of sleep. “I knew her at Gibraltar Base, back when I headed up its Red Berets Squadron! She’s a West Point First Captain too, just like me!”
“Not in the same class, sir,” Dr. Lime, now unmasked as Dr. Jessica Christie Logan, M.D., clarified. “I graduated the Point the year you enrolled and joined the WAAF Med Corps straight outta class. Needed seven years to make colonel.”
Captain Blue spat, “Scarlet, why the hell didn’t you tell me you knew her?”
“She and I didn’t actually have occasion to meet during the mission,” Captain Scarlet explained. “I only saw her from a distance, and I wondered if Green had had a sex-change when I did.”
“Not likely,” Dr. Fawn grinned.
“Who’d want to perform it if he did?” Dr. Lime asked.
“Her assignment was my idea, Blue,” explained the CINCSPEC. “Lime only started her training at Koala Base two months after you and the other senior staff graduated from yours.”
“And were you really one of Dr. Watson’s junior partners in his OB-GYN clinic?” Captain Blue asked Dr. Lime, still irritated.
“Yep--that was my cover assignment,” was her response. “Not even Dr. Watson knew the true story of who I really am.”
“Damn,” swore Captain Blue, now annoyed with himself. “I should have realised you were a member of Spectrum right off the bat--how else could you have gotten your hands on a Mysteron detector?”
“This is all well and good,” Captain Scarlet broke in, “but if you don’t mind, Dr. Lime, Dr. Fawn and I are both due for time in the room of sleep. I can indulge my post-recovery appetite later.”
“That should give me time to talk to both of you two about how your failure to communicate almost made it possible for the Mysterons to win this round of their war of nerves.” This from Colonel White. “Captain Scarlet, Dr. Fawn--dismissed.”
As the retro-metabolic human and his physician both made their ways out of Cloudbase’s SickBay, the colonel turned on Captain Blue and Dr. Lime.
“Before I allow either of you to resume your duties,” he went on, “there are some things I want to make clear to both of you....”
Outside the SickBay, Captain Scarlet turned to Dr. Fawn with some amusement.
“Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Well, neither did I.”
“I know just how Blue and Lime feel right about now,” Dr. Fawn said as he headed for the room of sleep, with Captain Scarlet following close behind him. “Too bad Dr. Lime isn’t regular Cloudbase staff yet; you’d probably get along better with her than you sometimes do with me.”
“What with Watson dead and his likeness destroyed, she has nowhere to go now but here. Odd how things work out.”
Dr. Fawn said nothing. He knew what Captain Scarlet meant.
1. The notion of Captain Scarlet’s tolerance of ethanol not actually having been tested comes from “Differences,” written by Kimberly Murphy and originally published in Power Star: The Imagination Anthology, in which Dr. Fawn assumes that Captain Scarlet cannot get drunk.
2. It was from a story that was first published on the net-site, Mary
J. Rudy’s “Room Of Amber,” that I drew the notion of Captain Blue making what
he calls “a pretty mean breakfast;” the date of the “special treat,” his
actually volunteering to help COOK such breakfast for the Cloudbase
staff, is 7 July. That date is the date of the approval of Spectrum’s
charter, three days before World President James Younger signed it. In the
year 2071, it will fall on a Tuesday. There are third-anniversary events
planned for 10 July, which will be a Friday that year; a future story of
mine, possibly to be submitted in December 2010, will chronicle a possible one
3. It was only AFTER the story had received a beta-reading that I realised that I had neglected to situate "Gray Admiral, White Colonel" in a calendrical context, and when I did, I decided to equate the date with that of the approval of the Spectrum charter. For that, I thank both Hazel Kohler and Chris Bishop. They, betwixt themselves, gave me the idea for the explanation of the reason Captain Blue might volunteer to assist in cooking breakfast for his fellow Cloudbase staffers.
4. The appearance and description of Dr. Lime are drawn from the way Lieutenant Green is shown in the CGI version, whose continuity I neither have followed nor will follow in any of my stories. I’ve drawn up a back-story for Dr. Lime that's more extensive than the handful of clues I give here, and will submit that to HQ before 31 July, 2010.
5. My preferred references to Colonel White as “the Colonel” instead of as “the colonel,” though admittedly grammatically incorrect, are intended to emphasise that he is the ONLY Colonel in the entire Spectrum Organisation who is entitled to use that officer grade.
6. I make a passing reference to Sloane Rangers being Dr. Oliver Watson's preferred patients; this particular term is most often applied to young women. Lady Diana Spencer, prior to her marriage, was considered the archetypal Sloane. Wealth, and an upper-class social position, though not necessarily an aristocratic one, is considered a pre-requisite for a Sloane. Sloanes are widely derided and, no matter HOW high the educational standing they may have achieved, they are generally regarded as dim-witted socialites. A typical female Sloane may be called Victoria or Sophie, and, before her marriage to a male Sloane, she may be employed on a part-time basis in child-care or public relations. A typical male Sloane may be called Ben or Toby, and he may opt for work in the City or service in the Army. These are the kinds of people whom Dr. Watson preferred to have as patients after he was cashiered from the World Navy.
Any offence to any individual which this story may commit is purely accidental, and is apologised for in advance--furthermore, any similarities of any characters to any actual persons living or dead, or of any scenes described herein to any actual events historical or contemporary, which may exist is purely coincidental.