A ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ story
Colonel White glanced around the conference table at the five Captains and four Angels waiting patiently for the meeting to begin. Destiny Angel was on duty in Angel One and Lieutenant Green was at his post. The Colonel looked again at his folder of handwritten notes and called the meeting to order.
“Thank you all for coming here, particularly to those of you who are off duty.” White paused, almost hesitant in how to proceed. He glanced again at his notes. “As you know, since the early days of Spectrum we have made some inroads in our war against the Mysterons and have developed and refined our methods, procedures and of course, weaponry. We still have some way to go, but at present our reputation among other organisations and the general public has never been higher. The World President has indicated to me his personal approval in the way Spectrum has handled things to date.” White let his comments sink in before continuing, “But it is not about the Mysterons I want to speak. It has come to my attention that since the formation of our organisation we have not formalised a code of conduct, an ethical guide if you like, for all Spectrum personnel to follow.”
Captains Scarlet and Blue glanced at each other in puzzlement.
“Surely Colonel, we have enough rules and regulations?” asked Captain Magenta.
White smiled wryly at the Captain, knowing that he at least probably thought there were too many rules and regulations in Spectrum. And not just Magenta either, thought the Colonel, his gaze inevitably shifting towards Captain Scarlet.
“You may think so, Captain Magenta,” he answered in a tone of mild rebuke, “but I wasn’t speaking about rules or regulations. It has been the custom for many organisations, both military and civilian to create a set of guidelines for its personnel – and those guidelines, nominally referred to as Values and Ethos should be taught to all personnel as a matter of course when joining an organisation. It seems there has never been a formalised set of values within Spectrum to teach - an oversight that I intend to address. And all of you are going to help me in this task.”
“How can we help?” asked Symphony, puzzled.
Colonel White glanced at each of them in turn. “Well, it’s quite simple really. You are going to each think about what those values might be and their relevance to our organisation. And think very carefully – once they have been agreed upon and formalised, they will be taught to all Spectrum personnel. I propose you all have a week to come up with some ideas then we will discuss the matter further at the second meeting.”
“What do you think of the Colonel’s idea?” asked Captain Blue.
Captain Scarlet looked thoughtfully across at Blue, and Ochre who was off duty. “I think he’s right. Spectrum ought to have such guidelines. It is an oversight that should be corrected. Certainly the WAAF has such a code. I remember being taught it during basic training. There was a list of key words, and each one of those key words had a short definition. Quite easy to learn too.”
“The World Government Police Corps also has a code of conduct,” chimed in Captain Ochre, “but I don’t see why we need to spend our free time thinking up one for Spectrum though – I’d have thought the Colonel already had something in mind. Surely whatever guidelines Spectrum adopts have already been decided by him?”
“Maybe, or maybe not. In any case if he has already devised one, he’s not saying what it is,” answered Blue.
“I think even if Colonel White has something in mind, he has set us this task to really think about Spectrum and what is stands for. And I intend to give it serious thought,” Scarlet stated firmly.
Ochre shrugged. Typical army, he muttered. He continued aloud, “Oh well in that case, I think I can still remember the rules I was taught in the Police Corps pretty much off by heart, but just to make sure I’m going back to my quarters to find them. I am sure I still have a copy among my old records. Maybe it will give me a reference point to start thinking about what to say to the Colonel at the meeting in a week’s time.”
Captain Ochre waved a goodbye and Captain Blue grinned. “That’s Rick for you,” he said to Scarlet, “thinks it’s all a waste of time but decides to start working on it right away.”
“Not just him either,” Scarlet remarked, “it looked to me like Captain Magenta was keen to get started on the idea.”
“You think so? After that crack about too many rules it didn’t seem like it to me,” answered Blue.
“Maybe… but from where I was sitting I could see he had started making notes almost immediately.”
“We’d better get started then, I’m not letting Magenta or Ochre get the jump on us,” Blue replied.
“With any luck Pat won’t be doing that,” Scarlet replied easily. “They were website references he was writing down … and you know how thorough he can be once he’s logged on the computer. By my estimation he’ll have more information than he’ll know what to do with in no time at all.”
“You got any ideas?” asked Blue.
Scarlet yawned. “Not so far,” he admitted. “But you know how it is, we always come up with something in the end.”
Captain Blue gave his partner a droll look. “Not on this subject we mightn’t,” he warned Scarlet.
“Yes we will,” replied Scarlet confidently.
Blue shook his head at his partner’s optimism. “We’ll see. This is one assignment that’s not going to be solved by reckless heroics on your part,” he replied, grinning to take the sting out of his comment.
Scarlet glared at him, “I am NOT reckless…”
Destiny had been briefed by the other Angels when she came off duty and was as enthusiastic about the project as they were. Her initial suggestion of ‘Teamwork’ was unanimously endorsed. As Symphony remarked, nowhere in Spectrum was the need to maintain a cohesive and effective team than with the Angels - and not just the Angels either. They all worked together to fight the Mysterons – that was Spectrum’s strength. Even before Destiny’s return from her shift, as ideas took shape Melody had began writing them down. It wasn’t long before the page was covered with words crossed out then restored then overwritten with numerous question and exclamation marks. Harmony neatly copied some of Melody’s list to take to Angel One with her, reasoning it would occupy her time very well to consider any suggestions while on duty.
The debate continued in the Amber Room.
“I really do feel ‘Courage’ should be considered… and that’s not because I suggested it,” remarked Rhapsody. “What to you think, Karen?”
“What? Oh yes, definitely,” replied Symphony Angel looking up from the flight schedules she had been reading. Plenty of target practice and night flying exercises among their usual patrols, she noted. Spectrum pilots, and the Angels in particular, did not have a problem with restricted flying hours. Budgetary constraints had at various times imposed limitations on the World Army Air Force, resulting in complaints from the pilots that their flying hours had been reduced to below the minimum standard they were required to maintain according to current WAAF regulations. There was even talk about ‘moving the goal posts’ - re-writing the regulations to reflect the number of flying hours WAAF pilots currently undertook. But not here, thought Symphony with satisfaction, the Colonel wouldn’t stand for it. Well not as long as he had the continued support of the World President, she amended. You never knew with politicians though… Symphony wondered if courage included fighting faceless bureaucrats for every dollar to keep Spectrum functioning at its peak.
Rhapsody noticed Symphony’s look of abstraction and nudged her on the arm. “Penny for your thoughts, Symphony?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking, there must be lots of ways to define courage,” she answered cryptically.
The debate continued with no clear definition of ‘Teamwork’ agreed upon. The problem being, as Destiny remarked, it was too easy to try and include every aspect of its meaning, so that in the end the description became bogged down. Rhapsody’s idea of starting again was greeted with groans.
“Girls, quiet please! I suggest we set Teamwork aside until everyone has calmed down,” suggested Destiny with a smile and an ever-so-slight emphasis on the word. There were good-natured chuckles all round at the irony of her comments and peace was restored to the Amber Room. ‘Courage’ had looked like suffering a similar fate until Harmony came off duty and delighted her work colleagues with a definition they couldn’t fault.
“Let’s see the captains come up with something better than that,” grinned Rhapsody.
“I wasn’t aware it was a competition,” drawled Melody.
“Not officially of course!” agreed Rhapsody who nevertheless had a strong competitive streak. And I’d better get going before Lieutenant Green notices I’m a few seconds late, she observed as she hurriedly took her place in Angel One.
As Captain Scarlet had guessed, Captain Magenta had decided to work on the Colonel’s task immediately and the first thing he settled on was to research what other organisations had contrived in umpteen years of military order. Somehow, he thought with amusement, the Colonel was not likely to appreciate any code of conduct devised by his old syndicate. Captain Magenta was also sceptical this new code would be any different from the multitude of policies Spectrum already had. He privately thought the rules and regulations he was expected to follow could at times be restrictive. It was all right for Ochre and the rest of them – they were used to it. Regulations are probably the only downside to joining a government agency, he mused. Especially for someone who spent years thinking up ways to circumvent them.
Captain Magenta suspected a simple search for data was going to lead him into hours of sorting conflicting information, but you never knew with these things - it might prove to be interesting. He pondered about what the Colonel had said at the meeting. His own feelings were that it was very important to the Colonel personally. One of Colonel White’s cherished military traditions perhaps? Magenta had a few ideas of his own and…well…it would be better to see if he was on the right track before saying anything. The Spectrum captain smiled ruefully, wondering how his partner Captain Ochre would react to such unexpected prudence on his part. Captain Magenta knew full well that he was not exactly renowned for being cautious.
After a while Magenta was sorely tempted to forget the whole idea and leave the task to the others, but he knew he’d never get away with it. If Colonel White wanted them all to work on the project, then work on it he’d have to. No exceptions. Yawning for what seemed like the hundredth time he realised he hadn’t taken in a single thing he’d read in probably the last half hour and the jumble of facts each new site brought up had become to appear a bit hazy, not to mention repetitive. He had collected plenty of information but the more he found, the harder it had become to make up his mind what values could be specifically important to Spectrum. At this stage, he thought whimsically, I could give Colonel White a list he could have bound into a book. With the idea of finally going to bed he logged off, stood up and looked around for his cap. He groaned. Darn, must have left it in the officers’ lounge…again. It was fortunate Spectrum regulations did not require personnel to wear their caps all the time while on duty on Cloudbase or going to and from their quarters, nevertheless, lately he seemed to have got into the habit of putting it down and promptly forgetting it. Magenta sighed in exasperation; he’d better go and get it now before heading back to his quarters. Ten to one he’d need it first thing in the morning.
The officers’ lounge was bathed in dimmed light and at first he couldn’t see his cap. Silly really, considering it was such a bright colour… Rick avowed Pat had been given the colour magenta specifically so he could find his cap in just such conditions. The Spectrum captain grinned to himself and looking around, and saw the offending article on the sideboard…exactly where he’d left it.
“Forgot it again, huh?”
Captain Magenta whirled round, startled. “Oh it’s you, Rick…” he said, relieved, “I thought you would have gone to bed by now.”
“No, couldn’t sleep. That is, I did try but … well, in the end I decided to get up and walk around for a bit just to think about a few things. Somehow I ended up here,” Ochre explained.
“Don’t tell me…let me guess. The Colonel’s ‘little task’ perhaps?”
“That’s the one,” Captain Ochre replied, “I found this…”
Magenta gazed curiously at the paper his colleague held out to him as Ochre slightly increased the light level in the room. The captain took the paper and read the heading: ‘World Government Police Corps Mission Statement and Values’. The single page was dog-eared and slightly yellowed around the edges. “Taking a trip down Memory Lane?” he queried as he put it back on top of a folder marked ‘WGPC – R. Fraser. Personal’.
Captain Ochre nodded. “I was just remembering despite those high ideals, the cold reality was, many good officers have been lost in police service over the years. And that goes for Spectrum too. You join an organisation and somehow you take on everything it all stands for as second nature, almost without question. You have a job to do and you do it. That’s just the way it is…” The Spectrum captain paused for a moment lost in thought. He blinked. “Never mind me, I guess looking at all this old stuff brought back memories of some old battles – and many colleagues lost in the line of duty. Some of them during my work against the Chicago syndicates.” He glanced wryly towards his partner.
“I know exactly what you mean, losing Captains Brown and Indigo to the Mysterons, and nearly losing Scarlet too. And there’ve been other losses too, not forgetting Captain Black. The Mysterons haven’t exactly made it easy,” Magenta agreed, choosing not to make any comment on Ochre’s former career. “Still, I don’t think this task we’ve been given meant Colonel White was intending us to create a mantra to cure all ills…or to render all Spectrum personnel as indestructible as Captain Scarlet.”
Ochre laughed. “Trust you to think of that!” The Spectrum captain gathered up his folder and slipped the faded card inside. He closed the folder with a snap. Old memories, he thought. “Have you given any thought to the Colonel’s idea?” he asked.
“I’ll say I have,” exclaimed Magenta, “I have collected so much information my head is spinning. What about you? Anything in particular come to mind?”
“Not exactly… well maybe something. Remember one of our missions together… the New York bank threat?” asked Ochre.
“Yeah, I remember. That darn roadblock,” answered Magenta.
“That’s the trouble with the bad guys, they never make the job easy,” Ochre agreed.
“Make it easy? What we really needed for that assignment was a Just-Pretending-I’m-A-Mysteron Detector!” exclaimed Magenta. “Not to mention Black vanishing into thin air like that. Just when I thought we were going to be the ones to catch that slippery…”
“…I know. I know. Tell me about it.”
“We worked well together on that assignment though,” Magenta remarked.
“Yes. And that’s what has given me an idea…” Captain Ochre picked up a pen and a sheaf of paper and started writing, “…there, what do you think?”
Captain Magenta took the page and after a minute held his hand out for the pen. He tried to remember some of the terminology he’d found in his data search, and was pleasantly surprised to see at least a little of it had sunk in after all. He crossed out a word. “I’d change that to...” he paused and scribbled something over the text, “…got it. What do you think? Better?”
“Much better,” Captain Ochre agreed.
Great, now we’ve made a start on the thing I’m going to get some sleep,” Magenta replied. “See you tomorrow Rick.”
“See you tomorrow,” Ochre echoed. “Captain Magenta!” he called out suddenly.
The Spectrum Captain, having almost reached the exit, turned around curiously. Ochre gave him a half smile and looked back towards a darkened corner of the lounge. Puzzled, Captain Magenta followed his gaze. To a flash of colour on top of the sideboard…
“Not a word,” he growled. He swept back into the room, grabbed his cap and jamming it on his head, stomped off to his quarters. Magenta could just faintly hear a chuckle as he left the room.
Back in his quarters Captain Magenta sleepily considered his conversation with Captain Ochre in the Officers’ Lounge. Thinking about his life, it still surprised him how easily he had managed to forge a successful career in Spectrum, and how he and Ochre were now a team. And there it was. One of the Colonel’s values - so glaringly obvious he had a pretty shrewd idea one or more of the others will also have thought of it. Teamwork…that’s it, with something about working together...and… He yawned. So obvious really…must take another look at it in the morning. Don’t want to forget…should’ve taken a copy… I’ll ask Rick for one in the morning. And with that happy thought Patrick Donaghue finally drifted off to sleep.
Suggested by Destiny Angel and Captain Ochre - definition by Captain Ochre and Captain Magenta:
To work together as a professional motivated team,
dedicated to achieving Spectrum’s mission.
Captain Scarlet reported to Colonel White in the morning with the work rosters for Cloudbase’s command personnel. Not his favourite task, writing them up, but it was his turn after all. Set approximately two weeks ahead, hopefully they would meet with the Colonel’s approval - not to mention his fervent wish that nothing untoward would occur to require any hasty re-writing. Like the Mysterons for instance. After the episode with the President Roberts, Scarlet hoped they would slink back to their shadowy Martian Complex and give everyone a break. He handed the roster to the Colonel, mentally crossing his fingers it was all correct.
Colonel White scanned the paperwork and signed his approval. “Very good Captain,” he remarked. “I thought Melody Angel was planning to take leave in the second week?”
“Originally yes, but it seems there is a big family event taking place next month which she has decided to attend.”
“What event? I am concerned she has chosen to defer taking leave yet again. Melody is overdue for a holiday, I really think she should take a break now,” Colonel White stated firmly.
Captain Scarlet explained, “One of Melody Angel’s brothers is a new father and a christening ceremony has been arranged for the baby. Melody is very excited about it as I gather she has been asked to be one of the godparents for the child.”
Colonel White nodded, “In that case I thing we can safely assume she will finally be taking some recreation leave. Remind her to submit the paperwork as soon as possible.”
“S.I.G. Colonel,” Captain Scarlet replied.
“Hopefully we won’t need to make any changes to this.” White looked meaningfully at the Spectrum captain as he gave the roster back to him. “Thankfully things are quiet at the moment, and long may it remain so. Especially as I haven’t needed to make any amendments myself this time.” White permitted himself a half smile.
“Yes Colonel. I did ask Ad- that is, Captain Blue to look over the paperwork…” Scarlet’s voice trailed off. Damn, should have kept my mouth shut, he realised.
Colonel White kept his expression perfectly straight. Got you Captain, he thought. Don’t think I can’t recognise the deft hand of Captain Blue in this submission. I have no doubt it’s your work in arranging the actual roster but… I suppose I can be grateful Captain Blue has saved me from trying to educate you yet again on the importance of submitting these schedules correctly, he mused.
Colonel White reflected, in the scheme of things dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s were not at all important as the need to win the war against the Mysterons. Still, he did not intend to allow any of the more mundane procedures become sloppy either, which was why as far as his senior personnel were concerned, he preferred to sign off on these rosters himself. He also knew that in Captain Scarlet he could not wish for a braver or more resourceful officer, far more important qualities than his ability - or occasional lack thereof - to draft rosters. All in all, as far as Spectrum’s main purpose was concerned Colonel White was justifiably pleased with all his personnel, but especially in the five Captains and Angels directly under his command. He was not a gambling man but he was mindful Spectrum won more battles against the Mysterons than they lost and he had every confidence those odds would improve even more with time.
Colonel White also wondered how they were progressing in writing the new code of conduct, but he wasn’t going to ask. Not yet. One week he gave them and he could afford to be patient. But whatever they came up with, he sincerely hoped it was something singularly appropriate and synonymous with his people. Colonel White had some ideas on what values should be adopted but it was much more interesting to see if the Captains and Angels came up with similar ideas. Looking back on Spectrum’s battle against the Mysterons, the Colonel admitted ‘courage’ might be a candidate for the list. As for his other choices… well he’ll just have to wait and see.
Colonel White drew his gaze back to Captain Scarlet who was waiting patiently for the Colonel to hand the paper back to him. “Captain, it was very fortunate indeed that you realised it was the ship that was the Mysterons' target and not the President himself.”
Captain Scarlet was surprised the Colonel had also been thinking about the President Roberts incident. “Yes sir. I only wish he had thought to mention the name of the ship earlier,” he replied. “Some of the trouble Spectrum experienced could have been avoided. Still, the Mysterons did not succeed in their mission and we should be very grateful for that.”
Some trouble… Colonel White was quite sure the ‘trouble’ Scarlet referred to was his part in trying to stop Mervin Brand and the injuries he received as a result. Not to mention serious damage to the surrounding buildings. He sighed. Colonel White did not take Captain Scarlet’s retrometabolic ability for granted, there were times he wondered if the injuries Scarlet sustained might signal the end. Of the Captain himself, his calm stoical attitude suggested he was not so concerned. Colonel White was certain Captain Scarlet would not take well to any further psychological testing but… the enigma of a man who could literally come back from the dead was not nearly as much an enigma as the private thoughts of the man himself about that ability. Colonel White brought his personal meditations back to the conversation at hand as he returned the roster to Scarlet.
“Quite right, Captain. The Mysterons didn’t succeed - this time. But we must be ever vigilant.” he replied briskly.
“S.I.G.” Scarlet agreed.
“Thank you Captain.” White glanced again at the paper in Scarlet’s hands, “See to it that the roster is promulgated without delay. Dismissed.”
Rhapsody and Melody’s brief discussion in the Amber Room recommenced in earnest the next day. Melody’s list was reviewed during their shared light breakfast in the canteen, and earlier suggestions from that list were reconsidered later during a late afternoon break on the Promenade Deck, where they were joined by Lieutenant Green and Captain Grey.
“Hi Captain, Lieutenant. We were just discussing Colonel White’s assignment. What do you say, Lieutenant?’ asked Rhapsody. “What do you think should be included?”
Green considered the handwritten list Melody handed to him, squinting a little to decipher the scribbled and overwritten text. “What do you consider is the most important?” he asked both Angels.
“Well…we have all decided ‘Teamwork’ MUST be included. That was Destiny’s suggestion by the way. And we all agree ‘Courage’ is also very important. That was Rhapsody’s idea,” replied Melody. “When you think of the missions recently, it seems to come up. A lot.”
“Some might say it’s an essential, and dare I say it, compulsory requirement when dealing with the Mysterons,” added Rhapsody dryly.
The Lieutenant considered of some of Spectrum’s missions to date. “It certainly seems to be so,” he agreed. Lieutenant Green personally thought the dogfight with the mysteronised interceptors was a very good case in point. “I notice it is the only one listed where you have defined the value.” He quoted: “‘To demonstrate the strength of character to do what is right in the face of danger, fear or difficulty and to challenge convention with new solutions.’ That’s sounds really great, I don’t think it could be improved on. What do you think Captain?”
“I agree. It sums up the whole ideal perfectly,” answered Captain Grey. “I especially like the part about ‘challenging convention with new solutions’. I know the discovery that the Mysterons are impervious to x-rays and can be killed with electricity were really achieved by well, serendipity but ….” Grey paused to gather his thoughts; “…unanticipated ways to fight them may be discovered by trying something new in the heat of the moment so to speak. Who knows what solutions Spectrum might develop in the future, even if the Mysterons are like no other opponent human beings have ever faced.”
“That’s very true,” agreed Lieutenant Green, “did you write the definition, Melody?”
“It was all Harmony’s idea,” explained Rhapsody. “She was on duty in Angel One and, as she explained at the end of her shift, things were quiet so she had some time to really think about it.”
Captain Grey nodded sagely, “Harmony is right. Sometimes a little quiet time in reflection can result in solutions presenting themselves.”
“Have you got any ideas on what to include, Captain?” asked Rhapsody curiously.
“Well actually,” began Grey, “I have thought of something. Might sound a little traditional perhaps…” his voice trailed off.
The Angels and Lieutenant Green looked at him expectantly.
“Well what is it? Don’t keep us in suspense,” exclaimed Green.
“I think I’ll have to for the moment,” the Spectrum captain replied apologetically, “I really want to make up my mind about the definition of…the value I have in mind.”
“A little extra ‘quiet time’ might be needed to think it out perhaps,” suggested Melody.
“Exactly,” replied Grey giving her a slight smile.
Lieutenant Green glanced again at Melody Angel’s list, frowning slightly as the others fell silent in contemplation. Rhapsody as was her habit, absently turned to gaze out on the Angels’ flight deck just to make sure everything was as it should be.
“Hey, what are you all doing here looking so serious?” asked a cheery voice.
Melody and Rhapsody both looked around to see Captain Ochre, as Grey was the first to reply.
“Hi Rick,” said Captain Grey, “we were just discussing the Colonel’s assignment.”
“You too? I’ve just seen Scarlet and Blue pondering over the problem. What have you come up with so far?” asked Ochre.
“Well,” began Lieutenant Green, “Destiny has suggested ‘teamwork’…”
“So had we!” interrupted Ochre.
“Who’s ‘we’?” asked Grey.
“Just Captain Magenta and myself,” replied Ochre. “Have you written the definition yet?”
“Not yet,” confessed Rhapsody. “Rather ironically, we couldn’t agree on the wording.”
“No problem – Pat and I have it all in hand,” replied Captain Ochre smugly. “Anything more?”
Melody, looking at her list and with the tacit agreement of the others replied; “We have decided ‘courage’ should be included.”
“Yes, that’s a good one,” agreed Ochre. “How many do you think we should have, by the way?”
“No idea,” replied Melody.
“We couldn’t agree on that either!” added Rhapsody.
“Well Pat suggested not too many and we should keep the definitions pretty simple as well,” remarked Captain Ochre. “He figures if the Colonel likes what we have come up with, it’s highly likely we’d be expected to memorise them!”
“Good point,” Lieutenant Green grinned. He remembered Ochre’s words about the other captains. “What are Captains Scarlet and Blue working on then?” he asked.
“I don’t know. They clammed up when I arrived and I couldn’t get anything out of either of them,” replied Captain Ochre, “they were being rather secretive.”
“Probably wanted to be certain before saying anything,” stated Melody with a glance at Captain Grey.
“Makes perfect sense to me,” he smiled.
Suggested by Rhapsody Angel - definition by Harmony Angel:
To have the strength of character to do what is right in the face of danger,
fear or difficulty and to challenge convention with new solutions.
With time creeping ever closer to the planned second meeting, Colonel White had begun to field some oblique comments and questions from Lieutenant Green. Trying to second-guess me, he surmised. Well that wasn’t going to work. If he and Green were not playing a cat and mouse game, pretending some of the questions he was asked were only concerned with ordinary day to day matters and most definitely not fishing on the lieutenant’s part for clues… Well, he was sorely tempted to remind Lieutenant Green in no uncertain terms that he expected his staff to come up with their own values and ethos – not to produce a document based on their commanding officer’s personal beliefs. But as it was, Colonel White said nothing. He found he was enjoying frustrating Green’s efforts by not rising to the bait and making any meaningful suggestions.
Lieutenant Green soon realised he had to concede defeat. Reluctantly he gave up the game and reported back to the others that he was unsuccessful in winkling the slightest hint out of the colonel. Just as we expected, the captains all agreed. Destiny smugly reminded them she had told them at the beginning that, in her opinion, the colonel was ‘a wily old fox’ who wouldn’t give an inch…and so it proved to be the case.
The next morning Colonel White’s good mood had all but vanished when he considered the task set before him. There were times, thought Colonel White grimly, when some incidents on Cloudbase reminded him of his Navy days. Maintaining good order and discipline, he reflected, meant having to invoke some procedures common to all branches to military service … and for the same reasons. At least as head of Spectrum what options to take were mine to decide, he thought, mildly irritated he had to take any action at all. Oh well, best get on with it.
As the two young lieutenants, Captains Scarlet and Blue and the senior member of Cloudbase’s security staff assembled for the discipline hearing, Colonel White also reflected with a sense of irony that it was a great pity the proposed code of conduct had not been written and ratified already. He noted one of Spectrum’s clerical staff acting as a court orderly had already set up the voice-activated recording equipment. Colonel White gazed around the room, actually one of Cloudbase’s many smaller conference and meeting rooms. It had a cold almost neglected air, perhaps reflecting the fact that the room had been set aside for holding discipline matters, a purpose for which it thankfully, was seldom required. The Colonel stood silently on the podium, a narrow table in front of him, and the flags of the World Government and Spectrum behind him. To his left and below the podium was the chief of security and discipline, to his right, panelled in the wall, was the recording equipment. The two lieutenants stood nervously directly in front of him with Captain Blue to their left. Captain Scarlet stood some way back behind his partner. Colonel White was not surprised to see they had taken up the traditional positions for a formal trial, despite his decision to keep matters more informal. He gave the lieutenants his most disapproving expression.
“Gentlemen,” he added a slightly questioning tone to the word, looking squarely at them as he spoke, “it has come to my attention you were seen brawling in the training bay. I have decided, as you are both new to Cloudbase, I would exercise my discretion and deal with this matter without going to a formal trial. I am warning you now that this is the first and last time such leniency will be shown to you. Is that clear?”
“S.I.G. Colonel,” they replied in unison, standing stiffly to attention.
“Right. If you will be so good as to outline the incident?” he spoke to the warrant officer who was chief of Cloudbase discipline and security. “Wait. Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue - perhaps firstly you will explain your part in this hearing?”
“I’m here as a witness,” explained Scarlet, “I was in the training bay when the incident occurred.”
Captain Blue glanced at the young officers still standing to attention. “Colonel, though this is not a formal trial I’d like to speak on their behalf in mitigation.”
“I see. Well, proceed with the facts Warrant.”
“Yes sir,” the warrant officer replied before ordering the two young officers to stand at ease. He turned back towards Colonel White, “Sir, yesterday during training a practice boxing match between these two junior officers was observed at one point to have degenerated into a brawl. The two officers did not separate when ordered to do so but continued fighting, one of them sustaining a small cut above the eye, and the other was kicked in the ankle sustaining bruising.” The Spectrum security officer paused. “Sir, it has come to my attention this may not have been the first time these two have clashed. There seems to be some kind of personal quarrel between them.”
“Indeed?” answered Colonel White, glaring at the nervous lieutenants. “Gentlemen, I presume you are not disputing the facts relating to the actual fight?”
“No Colonel,” they replied.
“Captain Scarlet, do you agree with the details of the incident as presented?” White asked.
Captain Scarlet moved forward to the right of the two lieutenants. “Yes sir. Actually it was I who tried to separate them,” he replied. Sustaining a few bruises in the bargain, he reflected ruefully. Luckily for them the incident was presented to the Colonel by the chief of security with a recommendation the lieutenants committed the lesser offence of creating a disturbance. Maybe if the Colonel knew all the facts he would insist on a full trial…and the possibility of the punishment of detention being awarded could not be discounted. Striking a superior officer was much more serious and one that would put a blot on the careers of both lieutenants for some time. Still, mused Captain Scarlet, I think I was just in the way of exchanged blows at the time, judging by the horrified expressions on their faces when I’d finally got them apart. Don’t think they even heard me order them to cease fighting either. Captain Scarlet’s intuition told him both lieutenants would probably settle down in time. He was also amused to discover he was not the only one with that opinion. When Colonel White first heard the barest details of the incident he had yet to decide what action to take and by the time the Colonel had spoken with Cloudbase’s chief of security and discipline, the warrant officer had already received submissions from both Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet asking him not to recommend a full trial. It was Blue who had somehow managed to talk the chief out of insisting on formal charges being raised. Let’s hope our assessment of those two is not misplaced, Captain Scarlet thought grimly.
Colonel White glared at the young officers. “This is too much! Fighting like you’re part of some common street brawl. I will not have this kind of conduct in my organisation. You realise you could be charged with the very serious offence of assault, not to mention disobeying the orders of a superior officer? This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. Perhaps either of you might like to throw some light on the origin of this apparently long standing disagreement?”
The two lieutenants looked nervously back at Colonel White but neither of them were willing to explain.
“Captain Blue, as you are acting in the capacity of their divisional officer, perhaps they have seen fit to confide in you the origins of this quarrel?”
“Yes sir. That is, no, they haven’t confided in me. However, accessing their service files, I notice they not only joined Spectrum at the same time but in fact grew up in the same area and attended the same schools.”
Colonel White gave the young officers a look of disbelief. “Are you suggesting this fight has its origins in some kind of schoolroom disagreement?”
Captain Blue shrugged. “It’s possible sir,” he replied.
“Well?” Colonel White glowered at the young officers.
“Something like that, sir,” one of the lieutenants agreed quietly.
The colonel glanced at the warrant officer. “Have you any more details to add?” he asked.
Cloudbase’s head of security considered the matter of striking Captain Scarlet - and his discussions with Captain Blue. “No, sir. I would like to submit some written statements, including a short account from a second witness who apparently didn’t see the whole incident, and a medical report from Dr. Fawn on their injuries,” he replied.
Colonel White read the statements – relieved to see from Dr Fawn’s report their injuries were superficial. Nevertheless he was not ready to let them off the hook so easily. He waved the statements from the second witness and Dr Fawn at the young officers. “You have both admitted to this disgraceful incident – and given the facts including Dr. Fawn’s medical report here which fully supports the Warrant Officer’s statement, perhaps I should not have been so hasty in not allowing this matter to go further – to a court martial perhaps?” Colonel White set the documentation on the table with a resonant thump, emphasising his anger at the lieutenants.
“With respect Colonel…” began Captain Blue.
“Yes Captain?” White queried. He sighed. “Very well. Before I say any more perhaps you may like to offer some words in mitigation on their behalf?”
Captain Blue took a deep breath, “Sir, both officers have done very well in training. Their academic records are excellent. Also despite the suggestion of a long-standing quarrel, this is the first time any incidents have been recorded and the first time either of them have fronted a discipline hearing. Colonel, the injuries they sustained were not significant. No stitches were needed for the cut and in fact Dr. Fawn did not consider either officer’s injuries serious enough to require them to remain in sickbay. Sir, this is their first posting to Cloudbase, aside from completing the two weeks course in the agent’s training bay some time ago. Neither officer has been here long and perhaps they need a period of adjustment to reacquaint themselves with the procedures and discipline of the base.” Captain Blue glanced again at the lieutenants. “Sir,” he continued to Colonel White, “I am certain both officers will settle down and become valuable members of the Spectrum organisation. They are both very remorseful and apologise for their behaviour and they have both made assurances it won’t happen again. Sir, both lieutenants have indicated to me they would like to put the incident behind them and get on with their careers.”
Colonel White had heard those words or something very similar throughout his military life but he also knew Captain Blue had been working with the young lieutenants and that the words he spoke on their behalf were meant sincerely. He also knew that as this was being treated as an internal matter and not a formal trial, legally there was a limit to what action he could take, but at the very least he could bring home to these foolish young men how grave the business was. And I think I know what to do with them for the next few weeks, he added to himself. He nodded to the warrant officer who called the lieutenants back to attention.
“Listen up, both of you,” Colonel White stared at each of them in turn, “this childish behaviour you have demonstrated to me is so far from the kind of conduct I expect from a Spectrum officer. I can scarcely believe either of you have the mettle necessary to remain in this organisation. This personal vendetta or whatever it is – and I’m warning you gentlemen, it must cease forthwith – has brought it home clearly to me that neither of you have demonstrated any sense of honour or respect for the uniform you wear.”
Colonel White paused to let the words sink in, and out of the corner of his eye noticed Captain Scarlet’s thoughtful expression. He turned back to the lieutenants and continued, “I don’t particularly care who started this incident in the training bay, and I certainly don’t care how it all began back when you were both in …in kindergarten, but I want you both to take a good hard look at yourselves and wake up. This is a military organisation not a school for badly behaved children. Do you understand?”
“Yes Colonel.” “Sorry Colonel,” they each replied.
“Now to the matter of punishment. You are fortunate I will not be awarding any restrictions on leave …or detention. Nor will I be awarding fines – this time. What you will be doing for the next three weeks will be working full time in the Monitor Room – together. Spectrum is an efficient and cohesive military organisation. You cannot afford to let personal quarrels interfere with your duties. Never give the Mysterons the edge by creating dissension.”
Both lieutenants looked startled at the suggestion their personal disagreement could have such far reaching consequences.
Colonel White correctly interpreted their expressions; pleased to see his point had struck home. He glanced at the warrant officer. “See that their names are added to the Monitor Room roster and please ensure the tasks they are assigned to do entail them working in tandem. It is not enough to simply place them on the same shifts. Liaise with Captain Magenta - I want these two to work as an assigned team for the whole three weeks, and I expect reports on their progress.”
The head of security gave him a thin smile. “I’ll see to it sir,” he replied.
“Good,” Colonel White affirmed. He had one last warning for the young officers. “If I hear of ANY further incidents concerning both of you I will have you removed from Cloudbase on the first plane out. Should you commit any more serious offences you WILL face a court martial and may be sent to detention or dismissed from Spectrum – or both. Understand?”
“S.I.G. Colonel,” they replied.
“That is all. Dismissed.” Colonel White paused briefly. “Captains, if you would be so good as to remain behind?”
The young officers were marched smartly out of the room by the security chief, accompanied also by the orderly who had re-entered the room on the security chief’s signal to retrieve the disk for transcribing. Colonel White stepped down from the podium and stood silent for a moment before turning to Captains Scarlet and Blue. “Captain Scarlet, I believe the exact words you used were – and I quote – ‘It was I who tried to separate them.’ Isn’t that so?”
“Yes sir,” replied Captain Scarlet puzzled.
“Not ‘ordered them to separate’?” suggested Colonel White.
“I meant ordered them, sir,” Scarlet replied hastily.
“Did you indeed? I see. And that was before or after one or both of those hot-tempered young men took a punch at you?”
Captain Scarlet looked at his commanding officer with alarm. He knows. Damn. He’s probably known all along. “I can’t remember sir,” he replied.
“Can’t you, Captain? Well well. That is surprising. Captain Blue?”
“Yes sir?” answered Blue wondering what was coming next. He had a sudden feeling of impending doom.
“Do not – and this applies to you as well, Scarlet – I repeat, DO NOT attempt to apply pressure on any of my security personnel or try to influence how they should do their job - especially the suggestion they could omit details from reports. Even if the chief had recommended to me the matter should go to a full trial, it was still MY call on how to proceed. And you needn’t think our chief of security has raised this matter with me. He has not. Captain Scarlet, if you had thought about this for one minute, you’d have realised there was at least one other person in the training bay at the time – the duty instructor. Captain Blue, it seems Cloudbase’s walls have ears, particularly when points are being emphasised, shall we say, somewhat vehemently.” Colonel White softened his words, “I know Captains, you were concerned this incident had the potential to seriously damage those young lieutenants’ careers. It was an honourable thing to do to try and help them but you should never circumvent the rules when doing so.”
“S.I.G. sir,” replied Scarlet and Blue, both somewhat stunned to realise the Colonel had known the full details - probably right from the beginning.
Colonel White nodded to his two officers as he left the room, confident they had got the message.
That didn’t end quite as I expected, Scarlet thought. Unconsciously he gave a slight shiver.
Blue didn’t miss the gesture. “Sometimes this job can be a bit scary, can’t it?” he remarked.
“You’re not talking about the Mysterons, are you?” asked Scarlet.
“No, I most certainly am not.”
“Well, Adam. Look on the bright side,” Scarlet remarked.
“You’re kidding! There’s a bright side?” queried Blue.
“Yes, there is. Think about what the Colonel said - to the lieutenants and to us. He gave the game away – maybe he didn’t realise it – but it’s pretty clear what the Colonel would include in Spectrum’s values and ethos.”
“It is?” said Blue puzzled. “What is it then?”
“Honour,” replied Captain Scarlet.
Later Captain Blue heard from the chief of security that the two lieutenants had been well briefed on their temporary duties, not to mention receiving a severe lecture from the warrant officer himself about what would happen to them if they transgressed. The lecture was not a repeat of Colonel White’s comments but far more detailed lesson on life as a prisoner at Spectrum’s correctional facility, and it included a breakdown of all the extra duties and conditions that could have been imposed on them during their posting to Cloudbase, just in case they thought they were hard done by having to work together in the Monitor Room. The lieutenants were also considerably alarmed at the amount of fines the Colonel could award - fines that could leave them both short of spending money for months. They were also told a report on the incident and its outcome had been placed on their personal files. Provided they stayed out of trouble for the next six months no further action would be taken and all paperwork on the matter would be destroyed. The warrant officer reminded them that if they had faced a formal trial, all the details and its outcomes would have remained on their files for the duration of their careers in Spectrum. The security chief repeated Colonel White’s warning on what would happen to them if they committed any further offences within that period.
“They know better now,” said the security and discipline chief to Captain Blue with quiet satisfaction.
I’ll bet, thought Blue to himself, but he thanked the warrant officer and went to find the errant lieutenants. Discovering they were already on duty listening to a briefing from Captain Magenta and, as Blue noted, they were on their best behaviour, he decided not to interrupt but returned to his office. The mountain of files and electronic messages that he was confronted with were an unwelcome reminder of the less exciting duties of his job when things were quiet. At first glance the files and messages in hard copy didn’t look too urgent, but the e-mails numbered over a hundred and opening Spectrum’s fast-track signalling message system revealed more priority messages than routine ones. Captain Blue scanned the signals, hitting the ‘Delete’ button with monotonous regularity and most of the e-mails went the same way. He picked up the first sheaf of papers and noticed they were travel details for a forthcoming trip to Spectrum Headquarters London. Well, at least it will get me away from this desk for a while; thought Blue, if the Mysterons don’t do that first. He paused for a moment, half expecting the intercom to crackle to life with a warning message. But it stayed stubbornly silent and with a sigh, Captain Blue signed off on the travel forms and reached for another file. He cast a jaundiced eye over the growing tower of actioned files and thought it was a pity the idea of the ‘paperless office’ had clearly never seemed to have been taken onboard despite all the predictions he had seen in old documentaries on computerisation and ‘the modern office’. What a joke those predictions turned out to be. How was it in the 21st century e-mails, signals, voice-messaging and the like added to the workload instead of lessening it, he pondered.
When Captain Blue handed over the last piece of completed work to the waiting clerk he briefly considered what to do next. Scarlet, he knew, was conducting a self-defence class and he supposed he could join him, until he remembered the last time he’d decided on that course of action. His partner had promptly roped him in for two solid hours of gruelling training. Having made up his mind what not to do and discovering to his surprise he should have been off duty and hour and a half ago, Captain Blue made his way to the officers’ lounge.
It was quiet in the lounge with only one other person in the room. He nodded a brief acknowledgment to Captain Grey who was reading a report, then allowed his thoughts to drift back to the morning’s activity and Scarlet’s idea. Blue flopped down in one of the chairs wondering idly if he should have got a coffee first. He smoothed down his jacket and was surprised to feel something in the pocket. Blue realised it was a piece of paper Scarlet had given him after the hearing. He fished it out and read ‘Honour’ in his partner’s bold handwriting, then underneath; ‘Define…how?’, ‘behaviour?’, ‘expectations’, ‘obligations?’ Captain Blue realised Captain Scarlet had taken note of more than ‘honour’ in the Colonel’s words. Think I’ll have that coffee after all, he decided. He got himself a cup and one for Grey who vaguely murmured his thanks. Fortified by the coffee he glanced once more at Scarlet’s list.
Blue considered how to define ‘honour’. The trouble with the word was that everyone knew what it meant but the tricky bit was to sum up that meaning into one neat sentence applicable to Spectrum. And was Scarlet correct? Blue considered the Colonel’s words to the lieutenants…and the rest of Colonel White’s comments to himself and Scarlet…not that he wanted to think too deeply about that. He came to the conclusion his partner was probably right. For starters, he would keep to Paul’s spelling of the word, even if it did look a bit different. The Colonel was British after all.
He tried linking a few of Scarlet’s suggested words together and decided ‘behaviour’ might be better served as ‘behave’. Blue tried saying it out loud, hoping the rest of the phrase would come; “To behave in a manner that …?”
Captain Grey looked up curiously at Blue’s words. “Something wrong?” he asked.
“No. Just trying out something,” Blue replied. He tried again, hoping the momentum would suggest the next phrase, ‘To behave in a manner that …. that demonstrates…’ Captain Blue paused, wondering what else should be included. Needs a lot more, he thought, but what?
Captain Grey deduced it had something to do with the Colonel’s task and wondered what the Spectrum captain was trying to define. “Can I help?” he suggested.
“I’m just thinking out loud,” answered Blue. “It’s harder than I thought, defining ‘honour’.”
“Good choice,” remarked Grey.
“It was Captain Scarlet’s idea,” Blue admitted, “…or the Colonel’s if Paul is to be believed.”
Captain Grey waited for an explanation but Blue decided he did not particularly want to relay the whole circumstances leading to Scarlet’s suggestion. Instead he wandered over to Grey who was sitting on the steps below the porthole where, having moved the chair from its usual position, he had a clear view of the sky. Blue vaguely noticed Grey had added notes to the margins of the report he was reading.
“Mind if I borrow your pen for a moment?” he asked. Grey handed it to him without comment. “I just want to put down what I’ve come up with,” Blue explained.
“Uh huh,” Grey replied, “so what have you thought up so far?”
“Not much,” admitted Blue glumly. “What are you reading?”
“SPV safety report. They’ve been examining SPVs for signs of hidden stress fractures in the bodywork after a recent accident.”
“Fractures? I hope they are not going to suddenly disintegrate at a critical moment,” began Blue alarmed.
“Oh no, of course not,” replied Grey who was suddenly struck with an image of an SPV falling apart like a clown car in a circus routine. He suppressed a smile, and setting his face into a more serious expression, he summarised from his notes, “The fractures, and actually it was a single fracture, was discovered in only one SPV, damaged due to driver error. That SPV was repaired and signed off then the problem was discovered. So all SPVs in recent use have been stress tested. This report is the result.”
“So they’re still safe?” queried Blue.
“Perfectly safe, structurally speaking,” Grey assured him. “The problem really seems to have been a one-off. The SPV’s service history suggests a previous accident - a serious accident - was the cause with a hairline fracture not discovered at the time of repair. A review of vehicle repair procedures has since been undertaken and recommendations have been included in the report. Do you want to read it? I’ve nearly finished.”
“Um, no thanks. Maybe later,” answered Blue after a quick glance at the thickness of the report. Privately he thought he’d seen enough paperwork for one day. Blue settled back in one of the chairs and after scribbling a few more words, absently put the pen and paper on the table near his rapidly cooling coffee then closed his eyes wearily. It had been one hell of a day.
Captain Grey continued to read the report until the end, then he set it down beside him and paused for a moment to look out the porthole. White, grey and almost bluish clouds drifted below at a leisurely pace against the darkening sky. A beautiful view, he mused. Grey wondered for a moment if he should repeat his offer to help Captain Blue, but Blue appeared to have abandoned the task and had closed his eyes. Grey glanced at his watch, and noting Captain Blue now seemed to be almost asleep, carefully gathered up the report and silently left the lounge.
Captain Blue woke abruptly, realising with a shock he had actually dozed off. He glanced over at the steps where he had last seen Captain Grey and realised Grey had gone. How long have I been out? he wondered. He turned back towards the small table with the now cold cup of coffee, Scarlet’s notes with his hastily scribbled additions and… was surprised to see he wasn’t alone after all. White boots… his eyes travelled up from the boots and trim Angel uniform to take in the smiling face of Symphony Angel, standing not two feet from him. To Blue it seemed as though in this one moment, time was suspended and no words were necessary. He leaned back into the chair and continued to gaze at her.
“How long have you been standing there?” he finally asked.
“Not long,” Symphony replied. “Just taking in the view,” she added mischievously.
He shook his head at her wryly then grinned. “Am I supposed to be… what time is…?” he began.
“Relax,” she answered, “you’re in the clear. I’ve just come off duty. I ran into Paul who said you weren’t at dinner at your usual time. I just thought I’d look for you, that’s all.”
“Well…” she paused, “I haven’t had any dinner yet either and maybe if you’re hungry…”
“Yes. I am. Let’s go,” he replied quickly.
“Sure you’ve fully woken up? You were sound asleep you know.”
“I was only resting my eyes,” Blue remonstrated.
“You might have thought so…but I have serious doubts about it,” Symphony grinned. “Can’t imagine how anyone could actually sleep in one of those chairs but you managed it.” She added, “You were snoring.”
“Yes, they’re not exactly ideal for a catnap I agree. You just need to kind of stretch out a bit… Hey - what are you talking about? I don’t snore!” he replied indignantly.
“Yes you do. Sometimes anyhow.” Symphony began walking towards the exit. She stopped and looked back towards the Spectrum captain.
Hastily he scooped up the papers, grabbed his cap and joined her. “I do NOT snore!” he repeated, determined to have the last word. But Symphony Angel just laughed, and with a look around to see that they were alone, gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, and being equally insistent, replied, “Yes you do…”
“Do not,” he stubbornly answered, “in any case, let me tell you what I was working on before I, ah, took a short break.”
Symphony rolled her eyes at his comment but let it pass. She had no difficulty recognising an attempt to change the subject, a sure sign she had been winning the discussion. “OK, tell me,” Symphony asked, having decided to humour him, “what were you working on exactly?”
“Colonel White’s task,” he replied triumphantly, “Paul and I have come up with one of the values and I think it will be a sure-fire winner. Hey, maybe you can help with the wording? We could have dinner then work on it together afterwards.”
“Sure. What have you got so far?” Symphony asked.
Suggested by Captain Scarlet (from a comment by Colonel White) - definition by Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue and Symphony Angel:
To behave in a manner that demonstrates taking responsibility for one’s actions and maintains the high principles expected of a member of Spectrum.
Captain Scarlet, having promulgated the duty roster some days ago realised he had not heard from Melody Angel about her proposed holiday. A quick check of the command staff’s restricted database told him no ‘unavailability for duty’ proforma or leave application had been received from Melody. Knowing Colonel White would probably remember the discussion, the Spectrum captain decided it would pay to be one step ahead of the old man at least once this week. So far the Colonel had put him on the hop at every turn.
He found Melody in the Amber Room, a cup of coffee in one hand and several heavy manuals on aircraft maintenance in the other. She paused questioningly and Scarlet indicated she should sit.
“Hello Captain,” Melody smiled pleasantly, “are you looking for someone in particular?”
Scarlet, having surreptitiously glanced around the Amber Room, wondered if she meant more than her simple words indicated. He had already noticed, regretfully, that Rhapsody wasn’t there. Then he remembered; she would still be on duty in Angel One. With a clear conscience, or almost, that he was here only on official business he took a seat across from Melody and replied, “Actually it was you I came to see – about your proposed leave. The Colonel wanted you to submit a leave application as soon as possible.”
“Oh, I know. I hadn’t forgotten. The thing is, and you may think I’m being silly, but any time I apply for leave I feel as though I’m leaving the girls in the lurch. You never know when the Mysterons will strike, especially as things have been so quiet these past weeks. You know what I mean?”
Scarlet nodded, “Yes, I know. But you can’t just spend all your time waiting on Cloudbase, just in case.”
“Melody, take a break! The Colonel expects you to apply for leave and don’t forget your family is expecting you. You NEED to relax - and see your family again,” insisted Scarlet.
“You’re right, I know it. It’s just that Spectrum is so committed to fighting the Mysterons and I’d feel so guilty enjoying myself when I should be working,” Melody admitted.
“Missing all the action, you mean?” grinned Captain Scarlet.
“That too. Well, a little,” she amended, “but I meant what I said about needing to work. We have a job to do and a holiday seems…rather frivolous.”
“I wouldn’t worry – if you’re needed, your holiday will be cancelled soon enough,” replied Scarlet, remembering a few such instances in his career. “You’re not being a bit superstitious are you? You know what I mean – leave Cloudbase for a minute and the Mysterons are sure to issue a warning?”
“Now who’s being silly! But you’re right, I was beginning to sound a bit ‘precious’, wasn’t I? OK you win Captain. I’ll submit a leave application today.”
“Good. Give me the dates and I’ll inform the Colonel.” Scarlet paused, “Melody, what was it you said about fighting the Mysterons?”
“When?” answered Melody confused.
“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I’ve just remembered,” he replied, “see you later Melody - and thanks.”
“OK,” Melody replied absently, wondering what it was she’d said that interested the Spectrum captain.
Captain Scarlet, pleased at how his meeting with Melody Angel had gone decided he would first see the Colonel about Melody’s leave then look for Captain Blue. With his thoughts on the tasks ahead, as Scarlet walked back to the Control Room he turned a corner and almost bumped into Doctor Fawn. That’s the problem with wandering around this place practically on autopilot he acknowledged to himself ruefully. The Spectrum captain got his bearings and realised he was already much further along the route back to the command area than he expected.
“Hello Captain. And how are you today?” asked Fawn cheerfully, knowing full well coming from him such a question had more meaning than mere convention.
“Fine, Doctor, fine,” Scarlet replied hastily. “Absolutely fine,” he added for good measure.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Fawn replied with a smile, knowing he could easily unsettle Scarlet with only the slightest mention of words like ‘new theory’ and ‘tests’.
Captain Scarlet wondered if the meeting really was accidental. Well, if it wasn’t he’d better find out. “Busy?” he asked politely.
“Things are quiet at the moment,” Doctor Fawn admitted, “I’m just returning to my office from a meal break. Thought I’d have lunch away from the workplace for a change.”
“Well, I guess your patients are waiting…”
“Not at all,” Doctor Fawn replied, “there’s only a few personnel in sickbay at the moment and most are due to be discharged later today, and the outpatients department can manage quite well without me. My time has been taken up with mainly research lately.”
“What would your rather be doing?” Scarlet asked curiously, “working with patients or pure research? It must be boring doing all that report reading, and test tubes and dissecting things and … writing stuff.” Captain Scarlet realised how lame that sounded but at that moment he couldn’t imagine what exactly Doctor Fawn meant by ‘research’. “I mean, well I’d find it boring,” he admitted.
“Well, sometimes patient care and research can be one and the same thing,” Fawn’s eyes twinkled, “but yes, I can see how you wouldn’t care for it. But even so, medicine is not for the faint hearted. It does take a certain amount of persistence and patience and, at the risk of sounding clichéd,… zeal. Or so I was told at Med School,” he added with a grin.
And commitment, Scarlet thought to himself. “Doctor, have you any free time at the moment? I promise it won’t take long. ” He added, “You’ve heard of the Colonel’s latest assignment?”
“I’ll say I have,” replied Fawn enthusiastically, “what have you got in mind?”
“Oh well,” said Scarlet airily, “just an idea I had - and maybe you could lend a hand.”
“No worries Captain,” replied Doctor Fawn, “count me in, I’d be glad to help if I can.”
Suggested by Captain Scarlet (from a comment by Melody Angel) - definition by Captain Scarlet and Doctor Fawn:
The Second Meeting…
“I thought we could go over our ideas before presenting them to the Colonel,” Captain Scarlet explained. “The meeting is not due to start for another half hour and I while I think we have agreed in principal to what values Spectrum should adopt, and their definitions, perhaps a final check wouldn’t go amiss?”
The other Captains and Angels agreed. Symphony was absent, on duty in Angel One and Doctor Fawn who had hoped to attend to see how the Colonel liked his collaborative effort with Captain Scarlet, was unexpectedly called away to a medical emergency. Just my luck, he groaned to Captain Blue, asking him to relay his apologies to the Colonel and Captain Scarlet for his absence. Captain Blue agreed and promised to fill him in on all the details later.
“What did you and Blue decide?” Ochre asked Captain Scarlet, “you looked so intent the other day I half expected the both of you to have completely written the whole thing.”
Scarlet gave him a puzzled look. “When was this?” he asked.
“The day after we all attended Colonel White’s meeting,” he replied. “You both clammed up like limpets when I spoke to you.”
Realisation dawned and Scarlet answered, “No, were weren’t working on that.” He gave Blue a significant glance. Of course, it must have been the lieutenants’ discipline hearing they were discussing, Blue realised.
“Well if it wasn’t the Colonel’s project,” Ochre mused, “it might have been the incident I heard rumours about concerning those two new lieutenants. I also heard you were involved in it somehow. Both of you, in fact. What happened to them anyway?”
“None of your business,” Scarlet replied crisply.
“Pat, you saw them afterwards…”
“…and they didn’t tell me a thing beyond the fact they were tasked to work in the Monitor Room,” Captain Magenta answered. “Let it go Rick.”
Ochre grumbled good-naturedly and returned to sorting his notes. He looked up expectantly at Scarlet. “Well, are we going to begin?” he asked.
Lieutenant Green opened his laptop, ready to translate their ideas onto a single page headed by the Spectrum insignia. He had a specific reason for attending this meeting and had organised for Lieutenant Sienna to take his place at his computer console. Fingers poised over the keys, he paused. “Captain Scarlet, before we start I have a question. It is customary to include an overview, outlining the purpose of having such a document. It only requires a short paragraph or phrase, and I wonder, has anyone written one?”
“Well I didn’t think of it. Did anyone else?” replied Captain Scarlet, irritated to have missed something.
To the sound of collective groans and mutterings of ‘No’ and ‘I forgot’, and from Captain Magenta: ‘Were we supposed to write that too?’, Captain Scarlet added: “I think you’ve got your answer Lieutenant. It seems we’re not going to have this task finished before the Colonel arrives after all unless… I don’t suppose you remembered to write a few words?” he asked hopefully.
Lieutenant Green nodded, “Yes, I remembered. Of course you many not all agree but it can be a starting point.” Green read out: ‘Values outline how to behave, what is really important, how to treat one another, and what binds the organisation together. They are a source of strength and a source of moral courage to take action.’ That’s all I’ve written. It’s not too dull, is it?” he asked.
Silence greeted his question as the Captains and Angels considered his suggestion. Lieutenant Green glanced again at the page, just to check if he’d made any mistakes when he read it out.
“Would you read it again Lieutenant please?” asked Destiny.
Lieutenant Green complied, wondering if he shouldn’t have reminded one of the captains of the need to write an overview instead. After a quick look around the room for consensus, which a nervous Lieutenant Green completely missed, Captain Blue spoke, “I think it sounds just fine, and more importantly I believe Colonel White will think so too. It’s comprehensive and perhaps a little formal but…well, that’s just the sort of overview the document should have. This is a serious matter after all.” Lieutenant Green looked up hopefully and was relieved to see expressions of approval, and from Captain Scarlet what looked suspiciously like profound relief.
“Well done Lieutenant,” said a smiling Destiny Angel, “it is fortunate indeed for us that you thought to write it.”
“So, we’re all agreed Lieutenant Green’s contribution be included? Yes? Good. Let’s get on with the next part,” said Scarlet as he quickly handed out the compiled list of values and their definitions to be passed around the table. Scarlet was relieved to see that so far no one wanted to question the choices or make any amendments. He glanced at Destiny; “What did you all decide about the order they should be written?”
“Well we decided on: Honour, Commitment, Teamwork then Courage. I’m afraid I really can’t remember why, that’s just how they all seemed to fall into place,” Destiny answered.
“Actually, Captain Scarlet I was just thinking…” begin Captain Grey.
“…and we could go round and round in circles discussing that. I think we should stick with the order as read and leave it to the Colonel to make any changes if he wishes,” interrupted Captain Ochre.
With choruses of “Agreed”, Destiny gave Lieutenant Green a copy of the order of the list as the Angels decided, and the Lieutenant quickly entered the headings into the document, then included the definitions under them.
“What do you think of the submission so far?” Harmony Angel asked Captain Grey.
“Oh I think the Colonel will be well pleased,” replied Grey in his quiet way. He wondered when he might get a moment to speak to Scarlet - preferably before the Colonel arrived - about his idea for a fifth value.
“Is that enough though? Maybe one of the other suggestions should be adopted?” continued Harmony, “but the problem is, it seems to be difficult to choose.” Harmony’s brow furrowed. “What about your idea, Captain? Melody told me you had something in mind but wouldn’t say what it was yet.”
“Well actually…” began Grey.
At Lieutenant Green’s exclamation Grey stopped speaking and Captain Scarlet looked up from his notes, startled to see it was indeed Colonel White. Harmony raised a questioning eyebrow at Captain Grey, a gesture that suggested he continue with the conversation. He shook his head slightly. Absolute silence descended on the conference room for the second time.
“You’re all here already? Good.” The Colonel looked around the table at each of the Spectrum officers and Angels.
‘We were not expecting you until… that is…” Scarlet foundered, “you’re early sir…”
“I’m aware of that Captain,” Colonel White responded dryly as he took his customary position at the centre of the conference table, “however I am here so, what have you all decided?” The immediate chorus of replies startled him.
“Captain Ochre and I wrote the ‘Teamwork’ one. Oh, and Destiny Angel had the same idea too.”
“Actually Captain Scarlet thought of ‘Honour’ but Symphony Angel and I helped write the definition.”
“Well Melody gave me the idea for ‘Commitment’ then Doctor Fawn and I worked out the rest. Actually Dr Fawn hoped to be here for the meeting but something came up. Lieutenant Green wrote the overview – it was fortunate that he remembered it.”
“I think I might have mentioned the word ‘Courage’ first but it was Harmony who created the definition.”
“Sir, I’ve just put all the data on the screen, if you’d like to see it?”
Colonel White nodded to Lieutenant Green. “Yes I’d like to read it now if you please.” He scanned down the text. “Good. Very good. Excellent,” he murmured to himself nodding approvingly at every line. Colonel White suddenly looked across to Captain Grey. “And you Captain – so far you have not said a word, nor have I heard your name mentioned. I trust you have been considering the task at hand?”
“Yes Colonel. I have been thinking about it,” Grey replied.
“And is there anything you consider has been missed or should be included in our document as it currently stands?” White asked.
“Yes sir, I think there is something that should be included,” Grey stated firmly, “Integrity.”
“And the definition, Captain?” asked the Colonel.
Captain Grey carefully opened out a much-folded piece of paper, flattening it down on the conference room table. “I thought I’d keep it simple,” he explained. “Of course it can always be changed…” Grey read out from the page; “Integrity. To be open, honest and fair, treating others with respect.” He looked expectantly at Colonel White, the other Captains and the Angels.
“Very fine, Captain,” Colonel White nodded approvingly. He looked around the room. “Does anyone want to make any further submissions, or changes? No? Then I say we include Captain Grey’s suggestion.”
With murmurs of agreement, the atmosphere lightened considerably as they began to feel the weeklong project was finally drawing to a close.
Not that it hadn’t been fun, thought Destiny as she watched some of the others excitedly tried to tell Colonel White more or less simultaneously how they had come up with their respective submissions. What had been an unusual activity clearly carried a great deal of responsibility, especially as it would become the official code of conduct all Spectrum personnel would adopt. Let’s hope the rest of the organisation likes it as much as the Colonel, Destiny thought reflectively. She put the question to Captain Magenta.
“What’s not to like?” he answered cheerfully, “I think it’s great – even if it is rather a lot of high ideals to live up to! Initially I did have some doubts you know - whether it was a good idea I mean,” he confided.
“And when did you decide it was a good idea?” she asked curiously.
“When Rick came up with ‘Teamwork’. It got me thinking how different my life is now. How important Spectrum is, not just in the war with the Mysterons, but to me personally. In a way Spectrum, and Cloudbase in particular, has become a real home - I could never go back to the life I lived before. Believe me when I say this, Mysterons aside, in this place I don’t have the constant worry of constantly looking over my shoulder. I think you can guess what I mean, waiting for the law to catch up, or having some rival gang deciding to muscle in on my old turf. Here, well it’s possible to…lighten up just a bit, no longer having to live on the edge so to speak. But don’t tell the Colonel that,” he winked. “He seems to hold the opinion I don’t take things seriously enough, but truly I do. This values task especially got me thinking in the last few days. Maybe it will get others thinking in a positive way too. I hope so,” he replied, mildly embarrassed he had perhaps said too much.
“Why, Captain, you are an old softie I think!” she smiled, noticing the meeting was beginning to break up.
“Oh well. Maybe a bit. Don’t you say a word though – not to the old man and especially not to Ochre. Alright? I’ll never hear the end of it otherwise,” he answered.
“Don’t worry Captain, your secret is safe with me,” Destiny replied.
“What secret?” asked Captain Ochre, managing to eavesdrop on Destiny’s last comment.
Captain Magenta groaned, “C’mon Rick. Time to get going. Wasn’t there something in the document about respect – like not listening in on other people’s conversations. And as far as I’m concerned it also means you can just give up asking questions, because I’m not going to tell you anything!” Magenta waved goodbye to Destiny as he almost dragged his protesting partner from the room.
Captain Scarlet noticed them both leave and shook his head ruefully at Blue. “What was that all about?” he asked.
“No idea, and I’m not even going to guess. Symphony will be off duty soon so I’m going to the Amber Room…after I’ve stopped off to see Doctor Fawn that is. I promised to let him know how the meeting went. You coming along?”
“To the Medical Centre? Mmm, not right now. But you go ahead – and pass on to Edward my thanks for all his help.”
“Sure, I will.”
Scarlet looked across at the Colonel who was in earnest discussions about the layout of the proposed document with Lieutenant Green, Melody Angel and Captain Grey. Scarlet also noticed Harmony and Destiny must had left while he and Blue were talking. He caught Rhapsody Angel’s eye. “Where are you headed?” he asked.
Rhapsody considered his question, “Well, I was thinking maybe the Promenade Deck. You?”
“I hadn’t thought about it.” Scarlet replied.
“Promenade Deck then?” she suggested hopefully.
He glanced again across at Colonel White who motioned for him to come over. Rhapsody noticed the gesture and smiled ruefully.
Captain Scarlet nodded to the Colonel and turned to Rhapsody. “This shouldn’t take too long. I’ll be there,” he promised quietly.
Suggested and defined by Captain Grey:
To be open, honest and fair, treating others with respect.
Suggested by Lieutenant Green:
Values outline how to behave, what is really important, how to treat one another, and what binds the organisation together. They are a source of strength, and a source of moral courage to take action
Colonel White stood back to check he’d aligned the framed notice correctly after fixing it to the wall in his quarters. A few weeks ago Spectrum had officially formally adopted and promulgated the new code of conduct for all personnel. The single multi-coloured page with the Spectrum insignia and the five values proved popular and while it was not intended to provide every member of Spectrum with a copy, surprisingly, reprints quickly became necessary. Colonel White’s own copy was very special. One of only three master documents, it included his signature and that of the World President. The other two identical documents were filed away for safekeeping – one held by the World Government in their archives and the second behind glass at Spectrum Headquarters in London. But this third version the Colonel kept for himself and it took pride of place in his quarters.
The Colonel was very pleased with how everything had turned out. Compared to other military organisations Spectrum was very new indeed, and had yet to develop the customs and traditions that the other services took for granted. Colonel White, despite admitting a fondness for tradition, had no intention of seeing Spectrum adopt or copy rituals which by the 21st century, had long lost their original meaning or had become irrelevant. But some ideas were worth implementing, like a code of conduct. Perhaps there are others, he reflected. Who knows? Spectrum Values might prove to be just the beginning.
Completed notice - designed and created by Lieutenant Green
Values outline how to behave, what is really important, how to treat one another, and what binds the organisation together. They are a source of strength, and a source of moral courage to take action.
To behave in a manner that demonstrates taking responsibility for one’s actions and maintains the high principles expected of a member of Spectrum.
To work together as a professional motivated team dedicated to achieving Spectrum’s mission.
To have the strength of character to do what is right in the face of danger, fear or difficulty and to challenge convention with new solutions.
To be open, honest and fair, treating others with respect.
T H E E N D
Adopting a standard of Values and Ethos is quite common among both government and commercial organisations today. This is my suggestion for what Spectrum’s values could be and how they arrived at them. My decision to limit the list to only five values was quite deliberate. It is in honour of the five Captains and five Angels on Cloudbase. This story is also dedicated to my parents.
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