Original series Suitable for all readersAction-oriented/low level of violence


Have Mercy on the Prisoner 

A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons Short Story

By Tiger Jackson



         It was to be a simple mission. The Mysterons needed an agent at Culver Atomic Station. A sleeper agent, one who would carry on with the duties of the human it replaced until the time for sabotage was right.


         Before they sent me, I had studied maps of the station layout, observed the guards’ shift changes, duty rounds, even their personal habits. I was prepared. All I had to do was lure a guard into a room and kill him quietly. The Mysterons would do the rest.


         This wasn’t the first time the Mysterons had sent me on a mission. I always performed like an automaton, unable to do anything but obey. My body, my mind, were totally under their control. What decisions I made were under their direction; I could choose which shadows to hide in, but not to step into the light, unless they wanted it that way. I was aware of what was happening, of what I was doing, but like an observer, I could only watch.


         When the Mysterons deposited me in the Culver Atomic Station grounds, I made my way to the building where the chosen victim was working that night.


         I knew what I had to do.


         I knew I didn’t want to.


         What was happening? Were the Mysterons easing their controls over me? The closer I got to my goal, the stranger I felt. My mind seemed clearer, the Mysterons’ influence less strong than it had been. But I was still compelled to act.


         I had no difficulty breaking in. The security guard came along on his rounds, as I knew he would. It was easy to make sure he saw the door I went through just as it closed, to lure him after me. He entered so cautiously. But not cautiously enough. I was prepared for better. I could have shot him. Instead, I hit him over the head with my gun, then left. But I hadn’t hit him hard enough to stop his heart or breathing. He could not be mysteronised. And he stayed conscious just long enough to sound an alarm.


         The Mysterons knew that the other guards would think I had fled the building, as any sensible man would have. So they instructed me to hide myself for a while. By now, I had enough presence of mind to try an experiment. I slipped into a low-radiation laboratory.


         I had not wanted to harm the guard, but I’d had no choice. Still, I’d managed to pull and misdirect the blow, thus discovering that I had some independent control of my body as well as clarity of thought. If the Mysterons noticed, they were not concerned. They still had control of me. But now, while hiding in the lab, my thoughts grew even clearer. I could feel the Mysterons’ influence waning rapidly. Why? I wondered.


         It had to be the radiation. In spite of all the safeguards, radiation escaped and the atomic centre was rife was low-levels of free isotopes. And this lab I had slipped into had even higher levels. It had to be interfering with the Mysterons’ powers.


          I didn’t absorb enough radiation to harm me seriously. But it was enough to make it impossible for the Mysterons to pull me out again. I was on my own.




         The Mysterons would be working to regain control of me. I couldn’t estimate how much time I might have. If I could contact Cloudbase, speak to Colonel White, tell him what had happened on Mars . . . . I grimaced, remembering what I had done to Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet. But the replicated Captain Scarlet had been welcomed into Spectrum after attempting to assassinate the world president. Perhaps I could still hope for redemption, too.


         I thought of making a phone call, but rejected the idea. I’d disappeared after the Zero-X mission and, as far as I knew, Spectrum was unaware of my survival. I couldn’t prove my identity over a telephone. I’d have to present myself in person at the nearest Spectrum base, in London.


         But how was I to get to London? I couldn’t go on foot and I had no money for a train or coach. I considered stealing a car, but with the whole centre on alert, I wouldn’t get far. I had to think of some alternative means of transportation. I visualized a map of England, and realised I wasn’t impossibly far from the place where SPV 0782 had been scheduled to be hidden before I left for Mars. I didn’t have my Spectrum I.D., of course, so if the SPV was there, I’d have to steal it, but that would be to my advantage. Every Spectrum agent in England would be searching for the stolen SPV, increasing my chances of getting back into Spectrum’s hands before the Mysterons could possess me again.


         My black clothing served me well, and, with less difficulty than I’d expected, I managed to reach the centre’s perimeter and escape through the fence. Once outside, I took a deep breath. I looked up at the stars to get my bearings, and began jogging at a strength-conserving pace for Stone Point Village.




         I’d had to stop and rest, even sleep, for a few hours on the way. It was well past dawn by the time I reached the Delta petrol station. It’s facilities were large enough to conceal an SPV; I was sure it was there. Fortunately for me, the attendant was busy repairing a car.


         “I’ll be with you in a minute, sir. Just a few more jobs.”


         No, that wouldn’t do. I glanced around and saw the lift controls. I had an idea: if I could strand him high enough, he wouldn’t be able to get down before I took the SPV. I turned up the radio to cover any other noise that might alert him, then started the lift.


         “Hey, what are you doing?”


         I ignored his protests. Just a few more feet… then something — someone — I couldn’t see took control of my hand. To my horror, I saw myself push the lever to maximum, increasing the lift’s speed and power. I couldn’t turn the lift off. I couldn’t let go of the lever. I watched and listened, stunned, as the car was crushed against the ceiling, and the man screamed as he died.


         CAPTAIN BLACK . . .


         No! I thought, fighting the presence that was trying to take control of me again. I tried to shut my mind, to throw up a shield. And the pressure seemed to ease.


         The attendant was beyond human aid. Breathing an apology and a prayer for the dead man, I ran for the SPV. I had to hurry, to get to London as fast as possible. I had to escape.




         I was on my way. The motorway to London ran parallel to the road I was on, but cutting across country to get to it would cost me precious time, time I might not have. At least the road I was on connected with the motorway eventually, and in the meantime it took me towards London.


         Then I felt that presence in my mind again.


         CAPTAIN BLACK . . .


         I tried to force it out, to raise a stronger mental barrier.




         I tried not to react, just kept on driving. If anything, I sped up. A few more minutes, and I’d be in Spectrum’s hands.




          My resistance faltered. My body wasn’t obeying me as it should. I tried to keep driving straight. But the wheel was wrested from my control and turned beneath my hands. The SPV listed as it veered off the road, and crashed through a fence and a grove, before I brought it to a stop in a clearing surrounded by a thin barrier of trees.


         Fighting for some control of myself, I leaped out of the SPV as fast as I could. I tried to run away, but it was a wasted effort. I staggered into the trees as my body was seized again and the Mysteron presence reasserted itself in my mind.


         From overhead came the roar of jet engines. Of course. Colonel White must have launched the Angels to join in the hunt for the SPV. The pilot must have seen it. She’d radio my location and, soon, help would come. The roadblock wasn’t far away. Spectrum’s agents could be here in minutes. I watched as the Angel Interceptor flew past, circled, then, to my astonishment, landed.


         The pilot opened the cockpit, climbed out, and jumped down off the wing. She scanned the grove constantly. Looking for me. She didn’t see me watching from behind a tree. And I couldn’t move out into the open. The Mysterons’ control over me was increasing.


         For some reason, Symphony Angel wasn’t carrying a weapon. At least, she didn’t draw one as she started towards the SPV. Foolish, foolish woman!


         As she passed my hiding place, I lunged for her. At least, the Mysterons made my body lunge towards her. I held back and managed to catch only the Angel’s wrist, rather than knocking her to the ground as intended.


         She exclaimed inarticulately and pulled away before I tightened my grip, leaving me with a silver charm bracelet in my hand. The solitary charm caught my eye in the moment before I was compelled to lunge at Symphony again while she was off balance. She fought bravely, kicking, punching, even biting, as she twisted to escape my grasp. More than a few blows connected; I felt them only distantly, as if I was removed from the scene, a mere observer rather than a participant. With difficulty, I pinned the Angel’s arms behind her back with one hand and hauled her to her feet with the other, dropping her bracelet as I did so. I must have hurt her, but the Mysterons were in control of me again. I could not help her or myself.

         As I frog-marched her to the SPV, the Angel continued to struggle fiercely, refusing to cooperate until I twisted her arms to near-breaking point. Once inside the vehicle, I gestured for her to remove her helmet and drop it. She complied.


         I had drawn my gun and struck her across the head with its butt. She collapsed. “I’m sorry,” I said, even though I knew she couldn’t hear me.




         I left Symphony lying where she’d fallen. All my attention was focused on driving back to where I had first tasted freedom. But why? What did the Mysterons have planned?




         There was no question of surreptitiously entering the atomic centre this time. I smashed through the gates at high speed and raced deep into the heart of the complex, stopping only when ordered to by the Mysterons.




         Why? The question formed in my mind, but no answer came. Instead, I had to carry Symphony Angel from the SPV. She was light in my arms, but she was a burden nonetheless. Why did the Mysterons want me to keep a hostage?


         I waited a long time for Symphony to regain consciousness. I must have struck her much harder than I’d intended. The sun was setting by the time she moaned and began to stir. I did nothing to help her. I couldn’t. But I also did nothing more to harm her as she collected her wits and strength.




         Night had fallen. Spectrum agents had to be searching the atomic centre. But they had not yet come to the building where I waited with the Angel. How much longer would it be?


         Symphony had tried to talk to me since she awoke. She asked me about the Zero-X mission, about where I had been in the months since, and more. When I didn’t answer, she studied me, assessing me, calculating. I had my gun trained on her constantly, and never stopped watching her. Wisely, she did not attempt to overpower or distract me.




         I gestured to Symphony to stand up. She did so and approached me, stopping a short distance away when I raised my gun higher.


         “How long do you intend to keep me here?” she demanded. “It’s only a matter of time,” she added warningly. “The place is surrounded.”


         I believed her. But I gestured with my gun for her to enter the chamber.


         She looked in the direction I’d indicated, then back at me with an expression of disbelief. She stepped back, raising a hand in protest. “No. No, you can’t!”


         I shoved her into the chamber, throwing her off-balance, and knocking her to the floor. She had not fully recovered from the blow I had given her earlier, and was unable to rise before I sealed the door.


         She looked at me beseechingly through the glass window that separated us.


         I am sorry, Symphony Angel. But you leave me no choice.


         She looked surprised. “That voice,” she murmured, eyeing me with perplexity. Then, loudly, “You’ll never get away with this!”


         Prepare to die. The radiation will kill you in three minutes.


         My face was rigid, a mask. I couldn’t do anything to indicate to Symphony that I was being forced, had been forced all along.


         My hand raised the lever and flooded the chamber with radiation. I say “my hand” but it wasn’t my will…. I tried not to think how long the Mysterons would keep me here watching. Surely Spectrum agents would find us in time to rescue the Angel.


         Slowly, the poisonous radiation level grew. If rescuers did not come soon, the effects of the radiation would be untreatable and irreversible. Symphony looked down as her shoulders slumped and she swayed.


         My hand was still on the radiation control. I didn’t look down as the rad level was increased to maximum. Helplessly, I watched the Angel’s dying. She staggered slightly. For a moment, I thought... but then she raised her head and looked me straight in the face. She stood courageously, calmly, trying not to show fear or discomfort or pain, dignified as she faced her imminent death.


         I know my mask did not change. Symphony saw nothing human in my face. But inside… inside…


         Catherine! I cried. Oh, God, she reminds me of Catherine…


         My life had been hard and filled with cold. I’d always distanced myself from people, kept myself isolated against pain. I’d made very few friends. I was 18 years old and in hospital after barely escaping with my life after successfully disposing of a jet bomber sabotaged by terrorists. My injuries were devastating, my recovery slow. I was told that I was a hero for foiling the terrorists. I didn’t care about the accolades, the empty honours. I didn’t care much about anything. My attitude wasn’t helping with my recovery when I met her.


         Catherine was my assigned physiotherapist. She made me work hard, harder than I thought I could stand, made me suffer indignities as I struggled to do what had before been second nature. I was often in so much pain, I wanted to cry, but I wouldn’t. Not in front of her. I hated her for humiliating me, and I told her I hated her. Catherine only laughed, and quipped that at least I was not indifferent to her as I was to so many of the people around me. She often laughed, often smiled. And she talked as if I would someday be whole again, have a future beyond the hospital. She never called me a hero, though many others did. That, I grudgingly admitted to myself, was something I liked about her.


         Each time, when I woke up from yet another operation in a never-ending series of reconstructive surgeries, Catherine was there at my bedside. She said that she was only there to see that I didn’t try to avoid more physiotherapy sessions with her and slip out of hospital under cover of darkness. As if I could have. And soon I would resume working and sweating and swearing in several languages, determined to master everything Catherine wanted me to, if only to get away from her torture chamber.


         I would improve with time and effort and then, after a surgeon’s visit, I would decline again. One step forward, two steps back. Learning the same things over and over and over. Catherine never let me get discouraged. Never let me think of quitting. Never let me stop believing I could escape from the prison my injuries had made of my body.


         Slowly, my feelings for Catherine changed. I had begun to look forward to her visits in my room, to seeing her for my daily therapy sessions; she brought welcome distractions from the bouts of pain and irritating accolades for my “heroism.” But I first became aware of how I felt about her when I woke in pain one night and discovered Catherine was there, asleep in the chair beside my bed. I’d never seen her sleeping before.


         There was little light. Even if she woke, Catherine would not see me studying her. She wasn’t much older than me; perhaps 21, 22 years old. She sat with her head tilted back in sleep, her elfin face relaxed. I could just see her long lashes sweeping her cheeks. For a moment, I wished she would open her eyes, the oddest eyes I’ve ever seen. From a distance, they appeared to be green. But close up, I’d seen that they were triple ringed, blue shading into green shading into dark yellow, with flecks of gold throughout. Her burnished-bronze hair was loose and fell in a cascade, accentuating the curves of her neck, shoulders, and breasts. I was stirred by how beautiful the soft curves of her body were, and longed to touch her. To hold her against me.


         Despite the pain I was in and my devastated condition, I was still a very young man, as hot-blooded as any other. I wasn’t sure whether what I was feeling was lust or love. I’d never loved or been loved by anyone, not since my parents had died. I was only sure that I didn’t hate her anymore. I didn’t even dislike her.


         But what did she think of me? She seemed to devote a lot of her time to me, and not just her time on duty. But I wondered what motivated her to do it. Was she merely studying me, as an interesting clinical case? Or was she interested in me, as a person? Or — the hope burst through — perhaps as a man? Did she give all her patients the same attention and encouragement? Did she stay by anyone else’s bedside at night? After all, she wasn’t there for me every morning or even most of them. The questions gnawed at me.


         I was in a physiotherapy session with Catherine, who had been patiently teaching me to walk yet again. I had finally reached the point were I could take a small number of steps unaided, using crutches only to steady myself. I don’t know now why I suddenly decided to tell her what I felt. I suppose that I just couldn’t stand both the physical and emotional agonies of being with Catherine. If I knew her feelings for me were purely professional, I could concentrate on my physical recovery again, and banish my foolish thoughts.


         I called to her, asked her to come over to me. When she came, I dropped my crutches and rested my hands on her shoulders, as if for balance. She gripped my sides, ready to steady or catch me. My flesh felt like it was burning where she touched me. I was shaking. My heart was pounding. I was breathing too fast, yet I couldn’t seem to get enough air.


         It was fear.


         Such small words, yet so dangerous. I was afraid to say them. Afraid to come out of my shell and expose my heart. Afraid to give this woman, this beautiful, desirable woman, the power to inflict exquisite pain on my soul, pain that my bodily injuries would be nothing in comparison to.


         “Catherine,” I began. And stopped. “Catherine,” I said again, swallowing hard. She was gazing up at me with an expression of concern and bewilderment.


         “I love you!” I blurted, my voice cracking, my face burning. There. It was done. I closed my eyes. Waited.


         When she whispered my name, my first name, I opened my eyes again.


         And she was smiling. Her face was radiant. “Conrad,” she breathed. “Conrad, I love you, too!”


         Catherine made me work as hard as she ever did. Because my life had a new purpose, I worked harder, and my health rapidly improved. We had a modest celebration when the doctors said, with more than a little surprise, that I would more than likely make a full recovery, with full use of my body and few scars.


         When I was released, just before Christmas 2048, I requested and was granted an extended leave from the British Air Force to recuperate and adjust to life outside hospital. Knowing I had nowhere to go, Catherine took me into her house. On Christmas Day, she gave me a first-edition of a book by H.G. Wells. I had nothing to give her; at least, I thought I didn’t. She asked me to build up the fire and sit beside her while I read my new book aloud to her. We didn’t finish the first chapter.


         In the weeks that followed, there never seemed to be enough time to be together. Daily, we fell more in love. We twined our bodies and our souls. We talked of our lonely pasts and of sharing the rest of our lives with each other.


         March 2049 was the first time ever I celebrated my birthday. I gave myself a gift that day. I presented Catherine with a ring and asked her to be my wife. That day was the first happy birthday I’d known, and the happiest day of my life. I was looking forward to putting the cold and darkness of my childhood behind me. To living in the light.


         Then Catherine became ill. It didn’t seem serious at first, just a lingering malaise.


         It was cancer.


         It was a treatable cancer, the doctors told us, one that readily responded to aggressive radiation treatments. The treatments would have side effects, of course. Radiation sickness would result, but radiation sickness was more easily treated than cancer. The risk was relatively small. The alternative was surgery, and the prognosis was less good. Catherine and I talked about it. I encouraged her to take the radiation treatments.


         God help me, I urged her to do it.


         The treatments were successful; the cancer went into remission. The doctors gave Catherine medicines to cure the radiation sickness. In a week, they told us, everything would be fine again. But a fractional percentage of people don’t respond to anti-radiation medicines.


         Catherine was one.


         She fought hard for her life. She faced every day stoically, every new treatment with courage, in spite of the increasing pain and her diminishing strength. I harassed the doctors without mercy to find a way to save her. I stayed by her bedside day and night. I must have eaten and slept, but I don’t remember. All I remember is talking to Catherine, trying to hold onto her, and watching her slip away from me on a dark tide as the radiation consumed her. She soon became a mere shadow of the woman she had been, so light and frail. When her hands grew so thin that she could no longer wear the ring I had given her, she asked me to wear it for her, on a chain around my neck. I promised that I would and I did.


         The day we knew that there was no more hope, I took Catherine in my arms and carried her outside, into the fresh air and sunlight, and held her close to me until the sun set and the stars began to appear.


         I held her long after she stopped breathing and I had no more tears.


         And looking at Symphony, thinking of Catherine, remembering how she died, I screamed inside. I felt my heart pounding as I silently screamed. Catherine! The pain was becoming unbearable.


         Suddenly my hand was seized and placed on the lever again. And it turned off the flood of radiation.




         Symphony looked surprised. I realised that the words had been spoken aloud, through me.




         In spite of my hatred for my captors, I was grateful. I knew they could feel my gratitude, just as they’d felt my agony.




         A catch. Of course.


         The wording struck me as strange: I? Not we? Was a single Mysteron controller offering to have mercy on my soul? Why?


         A chance? I wondered. A chance for what?




         It’s every prisoner’s duty to try and escape, I thought automatically.


         “I’m listening, Captain Black,” said Symphony.


         I was startled. How could she hear my thoughts? As I met her gaze, I saw my own reflection, cold and impassionate in her eyes. My heart thudded painfully again as the Mysterons sent me a mental image of Symphony dying.




         “You said you’d give me one chance. What is it?” Symphony was wary now.


         She hadn’t heard my thoughts, of course. I’d been used as a messenger again. When I’d heard the Mysterons speak, they made me repeat the words aloud. Symphony had heard the Mysterons’ offer and thought it was for her. As the Mysterons had intended. I understood then why the voice said I and not we.


         I saw everything clearly then. The choice. I could get free of the Mysterons. The radiation was still interfering with their influence. A little longer, and I would have enough self-control again that I could enter the high-rad chamber myself and absorb enough radiation to last until I could turn my self over to a Spectrum agent. Spectrum had somehow freed the replicated Captain Scarlet from the Mysterons’ influence. They could free me forever as well. But would I ever truly be a free man?


         Spectrum might imprison me for the rest of my life, for killing Captains Scarlet and Brown and for all the other crimes I committed under Mysteron influence. And if they didn’t, I would be caught in the prison of my own conscience. I had no doubt that the Mysterons would kill Symphony if I didn’t submit. I’d killed Catherine by encouraging her exposure to radiation. I was being used now to cause another woman’s death by radiation. Could I live with myself, knowing that I could have saved her and did not? Especially, I thought, remembering the charm on the bracelet I had torn from Symphony’s wrist, a woman who was loved.


         One chance, the Mysterons said.




         I chose.


         The Mysterons told me what Symphony was to do. And Symphony was willing to cooperate. She believed I had offered her a chance at life. How could she know that she was a tool, unwittingly being used by the Mysterons to create a diversion that would give them time to repossess me.


         Come with me,” I told the Angel.


         I kept the gun in my hand as I opened the radiation-chamber door. Symphony was sensible; she didn’t try to rush me or run away as we made our way back to the SPV. Fortunately, Spectrum had left it unguarded.


         You must leave here immediately in the SPV. Drive as far and as fast as you can. Do not stop. Not for anything. Or anyone. If you do not obey, you will die. Do you understand?


         “Yes, Captain Black. I understand.”


         Get in. And go. Quickly.


         Symphony looked over the SPV, but did not move towards it.


         GO,” I commanded.


         The Angel’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t,” she admitted. “ I don’t know how to open the doors. I’ve never driven an SPV.”


         I should have remembered; the Angels had received different training than the field agents. I opened the SPV myself and gave her a terse lesson in its handling. “Do not stop. Not for any reason.” I reminded her as I climbed out.


         I watched her go. My former fellow officers shot at the SPV with their pistols as it crashed through the gate. A futile gesture. Undoubtedly they were frustrated. I understood.


         They must have assumed that I still had Symphony Angel hostage. None of them stayed behind to search the atomic centre for her. If even one had, perhaps I would have been discovered in time...


         ... and Symphony would have died.


         I am sure of that. No matter where she was or when. The Mysterons would not be merciful again.


         I watched the officers race for their vehicles and set out after the SPV, no doubt radioing ahead to set up a roadblock. I wished Symphony well. And hoped she might offer a prayer for me. She knew that my voice was different, that it was not my own. Perhaps she realized . . . ? Vain hopes, I knew.




         Yes. I knew.


         I had memorized the station’s layout. I knew the way to the decontamination facility, knew where the anti-radiation tablets were kept. The guards would be occupied with looking for signs of any damage I had done. No one would be checking or using the showers for a long time.


         I wasn’t being compelled now. The Mysterons were allowing me to do this of my own will. They knew I would. It was part of the bargain.


         I undressed slowly before stepping into the shower. The water flowed down my face and body in a steady stream, washing out my hair, my eyes. Mechanically, I scrubbed myself from head to feet with soap. Again and again. I ensured that as much radiation as possible was washed away. Then I swallowed a handful of anti-radiation pills to prevent and reverse any deep harm the radiation might do. The Mysterons wanted that. For myself, I didn’t really care. I would not have been sorry to become ill, perhaps to die.


         I left an untidy heap of clothing and an obvious trail of water behind me, a mocking message for Spectrum. Captain Black was here! How close you came to capturing me!


         How close to saving me.




         I was removed to Spartan quarters, an anonymous room somewhere, the kind of place eternal wanderers like me are deposited until called for. A pen. My cage.


         New clothes had been laid out for me. Black, as always. The colour of mourning.


         The clothes could wait. Clutching Catherine’s ring on its chain, I lay down on the bed and shut out the light by covering my eyes with my free arm.


         Nineteen years ago I cried for Catherine’s death. Now I cried for mine.








A look inside the writer’s mind (please wear goggles and protective clothing and do not leave the marked path):


This story was inspired by the Captain Scarlet episode Manhunt, one which raises questions in many people’s minds, among them why didn’t the Mysterons simply retrieve Captain Black when his intrusion at the atomic centre was discovered? Why did he leave the centre and try to flee in an SPV, easily the most identifiable vehicle on any given road? Where was he trying to get to? Why was Symphony Angel’s life was spared? Why didn’t the Mysterons ever again attempt to sabotage the atomic centre or any other atomic facility? This story is my attempt to answer those and other questions.


A question which has many possible answers is: What is Captain Black? Is he a human held prisoner by the Mysterons? Or is he a clone, a replicant, much like Captain Scarlet? Replicants are always perfect duplicates, and Captain Black looked and sounded very different just before meeting the Mysterons. In the very first story, the Mysterons declared that one of the men on the Zero-X mission would fall under their influence, and we saw a remarkable change come over Captain Black. It seems to me that he is indeed still human and paying a terrible price for his grotesque mistake. Just how terrible I didn’t know until I discovered an unknown piece of Captain Black’s past.


Eighteen-year-old Conrad Turner’s act of heroism is recorded in Captain Black’s official Spectrum biography and the world history that underlies the series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. So is the fact that the orphaned Conrad survived a cold, loveless childhood, and became a reserved, distant man who few people knew well. Yet he did have some friends and he pursued a career that required teamwork, so he wasn’t a misanthrope so much as a lone wolf.


While examining Conrad Turner’s personal history, it seemed to me that, at least once in his life, he might have fallen in love. Logically it must have happened during a time when he could not avoid close personal human contact and interaction by losing himself in either study or career pursuits. The only time in his adult life that he wasn’t either at university or fully occupied with his duties as a member of one service branch or another was the year he spent in hospital, recuperating from his injuries after foiling the terrorists. Enter Catherine.


I’d written several drafts of the story before the characters revealed the intensity of their relationship, and the guilt that Conrad carried afterward. I must admit, knowing what I do now, I feel rather guilty about inventing — then offing — Catherine.


About Captain Black’s lack of self-control at the Delta station and in the high-rad lab: In some episodes, such as Big Ben Strikes Again, Captain Black is not present, yet we see levers moved and dials turned by the Mysterons. Obviously they have some sort of power that allows them to seize physical control, at least on a small scale, of some things without destroying and reconstructing them. Given that, it seemed reasonable that if they could not wholly control Captain Black, they might still be able to regain some small physical control of him against his conscious will, and, literally, force his hand.


I have to give Adrian Kleinbergen a nod of thanks and appreciation for his outstanding story Spectrum is Black. Adrian was the first writer I encountered who depicted Captain Black as something other than pure evil. His story made a lasting impression on me.


With the exception of Catherine, the characters, settings, etc. are all the creations of Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, et al. and others who hold the copyrights, a list in which my name doesn’t appear. No infringement is intended; I’m still a child playing in the Andersons’ garden. And I put all the toys away when I finished with them and closed the garden gate behind me.


May 2003









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