Original series Suitable for all readersAction-oriented/low level of violenceSexual innuendoMedium level of horror

What Dreams May Come

A 'Captain SCarlet & the Mysterons' story
By Hazel Kohler


Friday, mid-morning

It had been a curiously unsatisfying mission. The Mysterons had delivered a new threat in the small hours of the morning, one with an extremely short time limit. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of their cryptic threats – the three-hour time limit and the biological laboratory target, Warren Biotech, were clearly stated, for a change.

Spectrum had barely enough time to get there and stop the Mysterons before the deadline. There had been no time for subtlety, and they went in mob-handed, guns blazing. The Mysterons put up a good fight, though, and Scarlet, leading the way as usual, was injured, as usual. Nothing too serious, however, just a scratch really, and he probably wouldn’t even have got that, had he not spotted one of the Mysterons snatch something up from a rack of mini test tubes. Working on the general principal that whatever a Mysteron had got hold of had to be recovered from them as quickly as possible, Scarlet brought him down in a flying rugby tackle on a floor littered with broken glass.

Exactly what the Mysterons had been after at the laboratory was a bit of a mystery. The director, Professor Warren, assured them that there had been nothing in the lab that could possibly interest Martians: “a new form of pesticide, that’s all.” When pressed for details, he became rather evasive, muttering about how it was purely experimental, nothing that the agricultural industry would curl up and die without… Still, if there was one thing that Spectrum had learned since the first Mysteron threat, it was that it was often no good trying to understand why the Mysterons chose this, that or the other target. You just had to get in there and stop them.

The clear-up hadn’t taken long, either. Between them, Ochre, Blue and Magenta rounded up and finished off the other Mysteron agents, there were thanks and hand-shakes all round, and the four Spectrum agents left, with a nagging sense of having been hustled out with rather unseemly haste.


Once Captain Blue announced that the SPJ had attained cruising height and speed, and had levelled off, Captain Magenta unbuckled his seat-belt and crossed the passenger cabin to where Captain Scarlet was sitting. He was nursing a rather nasty gash across his right forearm, and smiled with relief as Magenta approached with the first aid box.

“Let’s have a look at that, before you bleed all over the seat.”

As Magenta took cotton wool, antiseptic and a dressing out of the first aid box, Scarlet started to roll his sleeve up over his sore arm. Suddenly, he stopped, and swore softly, hissing at a sudden stab of pain.

“What is it?” Magenta asked in concern.

“Don’t know. Feels like there’s something in there… can you see anything?”

Magenta peered closely at the long, deep gash. “Glass,” he said. “There’s a chunk of glass in there. Hold on a minute.” He dug around in the first aid box again, and produced a pair of narrow-pointed tweezers. He probed the half-healed wound with them for a couple of minutes, as Scarlet gritted his teeth against the jags of pain lancing through his arm, then shook his head. “It’s in pretty deep. I can’t get hold of it. Why don’t I just slap the dressing over it, and Fawn can dig it out later?”

Scarlet sighed. “OK. Anything to stop you ripping huge chunks off me.”

“Ha!” Magenta snorted, applying the dressing with a little more force than was actually necessary. “If that’s all the thanks I get…”


“Just to let you know, guys, ETA Cloudbase 15 minutes.” Ochre’s voice issued tinnily from the speakers in the SPJ’s passenger cabin, making the two occupants jump at the sudden break in the silence.

Scarlet leaned against the curved inner wall of the SPJ, eyes closed against the too-bright sunlight, resting his forehead against the cool surface of the window. He’d been uncharacteristically quiet during the flight back to Cloudbase, and the others had largely left him alone. Up towards the front of the passenger cabin, Magenta sat with his feet up, bouncing a tennis ball against the cockpit bulkhead. Scarlet opened his eyes and glared at him in annoyance – the constant thump, thump, thump was starting to get on his nerves, exacerbating his already pounding headache.

“Pack that in, Pat!”

Magenta looked round in surprise, missing his catch and allowing the ball to go bouncing down the cabin. “Sorry. Didn’t realise it was bothering you.”

“Well, it is. Cut it out.”

Magenta strolled towards the back of the passenger cabin to retrieve his ball. Tossing it from hand to hand on his way back up to his seat, he passed Scarlet, and frowned as he noticed that the English captain was still holding his arm. “Arm still hurting?”

Scarlet nodded. “Still bloody sore.”

Magenta looked sympathetic. “You know,” he began, “you don't always have to charge on ahead, like you’re the US Cavalry. We’re all big boys now, you know. We can look after ourselves.”

“Yes, I know, Pat. But…” ‘Yes, Pat, I know you can. But the Mysterons took my life and ripped it inside out. I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is take the retrometabolism they inadvertently left me with, and use it against them. And in a way, I still feel I have to do that. I have to make amends for what I did when I was… one of them.’ That was what he wanted to say. What he actually said was: “Well, you know…”

Amazingly, Magenta did seem to know. “Sure. You’re sure you don't want me to look at that cut again?”

Scarlet waved him away. “It’ll keep until Fawn gets his paws on it. But thanks anyway.”

Magenta nodded, and turned to return to his seat.

“But, Pat –”

Magenta stopped and looked back at Scarlet. “Yeah?”

“Put that bloody ball away.”

Scarlet closed his eyes again, and swallowed hard against a rising sickness. He wanted some water, but suddenly lacked the energy to go and get any.

“Are you feeling OK? You look terrible.”

Scarlet prised his eyes open once more, squinting up at Magenta.

“Could you get me some water, Pat?” At least, that’s what he’d intended to say, but the words just came out as a croaked “… water…”

Alarmed, Magenta fetched a cup from the cooler and sat down in the seat beside Scarlet, holding the cup to his colleague’s mouth. Eyes closed once more, Scarlet leaned heavily on Magenta’s shoulder, his face pale and covered with a film of sweat.

“Feel… sick…”

Magenta flipped his cap-mic down and spoke softly, but urgently, into it. “Rick? Can you come back here for a minute, please?”

Captain Ochre, co-piloting with Blue, arrived just as Scarlet slid sideways, unconscious.



Captain Scarlet let himself into his quarters, and without bothering to turn on the light, or take off more than cap, boots and tunic, fell onto his bed. He was exhausted.

It had been a very long, very hard day.

On the flight back, he’d felt unaccountably tired. He had no memory of reaching Cloudbase; presumably, he’d either fallen asleep or passed out before their arrival back at base. His regeneration had been unusually slow and difficult, and Fawn had kept him in Sickbay for far longer than normal. He still felt dreadful, and wondered if he should have stayed the night, after all. But he always slept better in his own bed. Still lying on top of the covers, he fell into a deep, dream-filled sleep…


Long hair tickled the bare skin of his chest, and soft lips nuzzled his neck. Without opening his eyes, he smiled.

“What a nice way to wake up,” he murmured drowsily.

“If you are awake,” an aristocratic English voice replied. “Coffee?”

“Mmm.” He rolled over onto his side and opened his eyes. Rhapsody, busy at the coffee-maker, turned her head and smiled at him.

“Well,” she remarked, “you made a good night of it, didn’t you?”

Scarlet frowned muzzily. “Sorry?”

“It’s gone mid-day. You've been asleep for nearly twelve hours.”

“What!?” Scarlet sat bolt upright. “Oh, bloody hell, I was supposed to get my report to the Old Man –”

“Don’t worry,” Rhapsody soothed him. “Adam did that for you. The colonel knows you had a rough time in Sickbay. He’s heard all about it from the others, and Doctor Fawn.”

“Oh.” Scarlet grimaced at the mention of Fawn’s name, and at the sudden surge of sick dizziness that make his head spin and his stomach churn. The doctor had all but tied him to the bed to get him to stay in Sickbay, but Scarlet had insisted that he was well enough to be discharged. Almost more than he hated the routine of Sickbay, Scarlet hated the oh-so-well-hidden ‘told you so’ expression on Fawn’s face when Scarlet discharged himself too early and had to go creeping back.

He flopped back onto the pillow, covering his eyes with his forearm. And that brought something else to his attention. He wrinkled his nose in disgust at the smell of stale sweat, and peeped out apologetically from under his arm as Rhapsody sat down on the edge of his bed to hand him his coffee.

“Don’t get too close, love. I’m not very nice to be near right now. Too knackered to shower last night.”

“So I noticed.” She moved a little closer, regardless. “Why don’t you have a shower now? The coffee’s hot enough to last.”

“Good idea.” He rolled out of bed, treading on something soft as he did so. Frowning, he picked up his sweater and trousers, thrown in a heap on the floor. Funny, he thought, could’ve sworn I didn’t take those off before I fell asleep… He sat on the edge of the bed to wrap the counterpane around him, but stopped, and leaned forward, hugging his stomach. Rhapsody noticed the movement of the counterpane, laughed, and fetched a towel from the tiny bathroom. She was about to throw it to him when she noticed his posture, and pale face.

“Are you all right, Paul?” she asked anxiously.

“Yes… it’s nothing. Just a bit queasy. I’m starving. I’ll feel better once I’ve had a wash and something to eat.”


Eyes screwed shut against the streams of foam from the shampoo, and ears full of water, Scarlet didn’t hear the shower door slide open. The first indication that he was no longer alone in the cubicle came as arms wrapped round his waist from behind, and lips touched the side of his neck. He turned, took her in his arms and kissed her; she pushed against his chest, pinning him against the back wall of the shower cubicle as the warm water poured over them both…

Scarlet woke with a jolt and a gasp, staring wildly around the darkness of his quarters as the dream vanished. No shower, no coffee, and most importantly, no Rhapsody. Slowly, and swallowing hard against the queasiness in his stomach, Scarlet stripped off his sweater and trousers, dropping them in a heap on the floor beside the bed. For a moment, he considered showering off the sweat that drenched him, but his eyes closed inexorably, and it was all he could do to pull the rumpled counterpane over himself before he sank back into heavy sleep.


Some hours later, Scarlet sat alone at a table in the Officers’ Mess, gazing morosely down at his breakfast tray. After his disturbed night, he was late to breakfast, and the only other occupants were a group of white-jacketed technicians, just off night shift and rather too lively for Scarlet’s liking. They all seemed to be having a rather earnest, excited conversation, but they were too far away for him to make out what they were saying. He toyed with the idea of going over and telling them to keep it down, but a sudden surge of nausea kept him pinned to his seat.

This is stupid, he thought, picking up a piece of toast and wondering if he could eat it without throwing up. Slowly and experimentally, he bit off a corner, chewed slowly, and swallowed. “I’ve got to see Doctor Fawn again,” he muttered savagely, as he gritted his teeth against the sick feeling that had dogged his dreams and blighted his morning so far. Eschewing his usual industrial-strength coffee, he washed down half of the slice of toast with water, and left the Mess with as much speed as his dignity as a Colour Captain permitted. As he reached the door, a bland-faced man sitting alone in one of the booths nodded to him, and the voice of one of the technicians reached him clearly: “He’s going…”


In contrast to the Mess, Sickbay was a haven of peace and quiet. Fawn greeted him cordially, and invited him to sit down.

“What can I do for you, Captain?” he asked politely.

“You were right, I’m still feeling bloody awful. And please don’t say ‘I told you so’.”

“When do I ever say that?” Fawn asked, sounding genuinely surprised.

“Well, maybe you don’t say it, but you look it,” Scarlet sighed. “And you’re always right.”

With a little extra prompting, Scarlet told Fawn about the vivid, disturbing dreams of the night before, although without going into the exact nature of why they’d been disturbing, and the continuous nausea and dizziness. Fawn looked at him sharply as Scarlet described the symptoms.

“Your sixth sense?”

Scarlet shook his head, then winced as a headache pounded across the inside of his skull. “Feels different. More like the most godawful hang-over you can imagine. And then some.”

Fawn smiled sympathetically. “OK, take your tunic and sweater off, and sit on the table. Let’s have a look at you.”

The doctor switched on the arc-light over the examination table, and fetched his stethoscope. As he approached Scarlet, he was astonished to see the captain jerk backwards, holding out a hand defensively. Almost immediately, and with a look of total confusion, Scarlet lowered his hand, closed his eyes and bowed his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I just had – the oddest feeling. It was as if I was lying down, and you were leaning over me.” He opened his eyes again, looking up at Fawn. “Weird… very weird. And not very pleasant.”


Fawn’s examination was thorough, but mercifully quick. “I can’t find anything specific,” he began. “For some reason you’re still suffering the after-effects of your injury yesterday. I’ll get you something for the nausea and dizziness.” With that, he disappeared into another room.

“How long do you think it’ll last?” Scarlet called.

Longer than usual… bad regeneration…” Fawn replied from the depths of his pharmacy.

Scarlet shrugged. “Happens, I suppose.”


Fawn came back, holding a piece of paper in one hand, and a hypodermic in the other. “Sorry… what did you say?” Without waiting for an answer, he took Scarlet’s arm, and injected the contents of the hypodermic. Once again, Scarlet experienced that odd lurch of perspective, but it was over and gone so quickly, he could almost dismiss it as nothing. Almost.

Fawn handed him the paper. Scarlet peered at it; it was a prescription, obviously, but Fawn’s notoriously bad writing appeared to have got worse, and he couldn’t make out a word of it. “Hand that in at the dispensary on your way out,” Fawn said. “It’s for some tablets that should help settle you down. Take two, with meals. Maximum of six. Come back and see me after breakfast tomorrow, and I’ll take another look at you. In the meantime, I’ll speak to Colonel White and make sure he knows you’re unfit for duty. Get dressed – I’ll make the call right away.”

Scarlet slowly pulled on his sweater and tunic, slid off the couch and made his way into the corridor.

“Thanks, Doc!” he called as he approached Fawn’s office. Fawn didn’t respond, but as Scarlet passed the open door, he saw the doctor leaning over his desk making the promised call to Colonel White, and caught a few words: “bad… not sure why… can’t afford to lose…”

And those half-heard words made Scarlet feel sicker than any bad regeneration…



It had been so long since Scarlet had needed any prescription drugs that he almost forgot to stop at the dispensary. He handed the paper over to the man behind the counter, and waited patiently while the man read it, slowly and carefully.

As a regular visitor to Sickbay, Scarlet was pretty sure that he knew everyone who worked there, from the lowest orderly to the most senior doctors and nurses. But this man, he’d never seen before. Not in Sickbay, anyway – although his face was unfamiliar and almost entirely unmemorable, being smooth and bland, devoid of any sense of personality, Scarlet thought he had seen him before somewhere. And quite recently, too…

The man returned, carrying a small bottle which he handed over to Scarlet without a word.

“I haven’t seen you in here before, have I –” Scarlet peered at the man’s nametag “– Warren?”

The man made no response, just staring at Scarlet with an intense eye-contact that Scarlet found a little unnerving.

“Two, three times a day, right?” he asked.

The man continued to stare – those dead eyes held Scarlet in place with an almost physical restraint. Scarlet’s heart pounded painfully as he slowly, and with enormous difficulty, backed away from the expressionless man. As the dispensary door closed, it was as if an invisible leash had snapped. Scarlet leaned against the wall of the corridor outside, breathing hard and swallowing convulsively as the surge of inexplicable fear slowly ebbed away.


Despite the sickness gnawing at his stomach, Scarlet was still hungry. Those few bites of toast earlier had done nothing to allay his post-retrometabolic hunger pangs. Soup, he thought. Chicken soup, and perhaps some bread. Then I’ll take a couple of these pills and see what they do.


The chattering group of technicians were still in the Officers’ Mess when he got there. Scarlet frowned – other ranks had their own Mess. What were they doing in here? Some of them turned to stare at him as he entered, but he ignored them, crossing to the main serving counter to examine the lunch menu. As he’d hoped, chicken soup was on the list, and within moments, he seated himself at a table in one of the side booths, tearing a chunk off a bread roll and dunking it in the soup. He ate slowly and carefully, trying hard not to trigger a recurrence of the nausea that seemed to be fairly quiescent at the moment.

The approach of a familiar voice made him look up.

“… of no particular importance,” White was saying to his companion, a man Scarlet was sure he didn’t know, but was equally sure he’d seen somewhere before. That blandly smooth face looked disturbingly familiar… White stopped at the booth just across the aisle from where Scarlet was sitting, and gestured to his companion to sit. As the man took his seat, he slowly turned his head to look directly at Scarlet – making an unnervingly intense eye-contact which Scarlet found almost impossible to break…

The walls of the Officers’ Mess seemed to be closing in; at the same time, the blank eyes of Colonel White’s companion dominated Scarlet’s field of vision. Everything else was small, blurred and distant…

Fighting down nausea and irrational fear, Scarlet left his barely-touched lunch, and all but ran from the Mess.



Without quite knowing how, or why, Scarlet found himself wandering in the direction of the Officers’ Lounge. He wasn’t really in the mood for much company, but the only alternative really was his quarters, and he didn’t much fancy solitude, either. The double doors whined as they opened – one, slightly slower than the other, slotted into its recess with a thud. At that moment, something smacked him hard in the chest.

“Hey!” he shouted, bending to pick up the ball which had bounced off him and wedged itself behind the bookshelf. A white-jacketed technician took the ball from his hands, and tossed it back to Magenta, over by the coffee dispenser.

“Sorry, Scarlet,” Magenta said cheerfully. “That butter-fingered cop was supposed to catch it.”


“I think he means me.” Ochre appeared from behind the technician, grinning apologetically.

Scarlet sighed. “This isn’t really the place for ball games, is it?” he asked rhetorically.

Ochre shrugged. “It’s quiet, it’s dull, we’re bored.”

“Yeah,” Magenta agreed. “Want to play?” He tossed the ball from hand to hand, looking at Scarlet expectantly.

“No, thanks. And how can you be bored? I would’ve thought yesterday was excitement enough for anyone.”

“Nah, you grabbed all the action. All we got was the clean-up. As usual.”

Scarlet was shocked. Magenta had never talked to him like that before. Trying to look as if he was just getting coffee, and not looking for a confrontation, Scarlet approached the coffee dispenser, and started to pour himself a cup. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked quietly.

Magenta eyed him coolly. “What’s up? Can’t take a bit of criticism? I suppose it’s never occurred to you that we’re all perfectly capable of handling Mysterons. But you always have to jump in, play the hero and take the credit.”

Scarlet just stared at him, speechless. Unconsciously, he rubbed his chest, where it was still tingling from the ball’s impact.

“Hey, guys, leave him alone!” Blue’s voice, from the other side of the lounge, came as a welcome relief. Scarlet turned away from Magenta and his inexplicable hostility, to greet his partner. But as he approached, Blue’s welcoming smile turned into a frown. “Paul! For God’s sake, look at yourself. You look like death warmed over.”

“Yeah, well, he is, isn’t he?” Grey remarked languidly from the window seat. Everyone else laughed; Scarlet, suddenly nauseated by the smell of the coffee and the bewildering attitude of his fellow captains, turned on his heel and all but fled towards the door. The technician, intent on his work and ignoring the distractions around him, tested the faulty door again. The hidden winch whined, and the door thudded closed once more.

“Hey, Scarlet?”

Despite himself, Scarlet turned at Magenta’s call, and once more, the ball smacked into him.

The technician caught the ball as it rebounded, this time looking Scarlet straight in the eyes. Mesmerised, Scarlet couldn’t tear his gaze away from the lifeless eyes and bland, characterless face of the other man.

He recognised the face – it was the man he’d twice seen earlier in the Officers’ Mess: once as he’d left after breakfast, and again at lunchtime with Colonel White, and before that, in the pharmacy. The face was human, yet not. Once, Scarlet had seen a picture of the ‘average’ face. Perfectly acceptable, but somehow, chilling in its perfect symmetry, and lack of individuality. This man had such a face.

“Who are you?” Scarlet demanded. “Why are you following me? What do you want?”

The man tilted his head slightly to one side and smiled; a smile that didn’t touch his eyes. Cold, dark eyes, without a spark of humanity in them. He held Scarlet’s horrified gaze for a few more seconds before replying: “Haven’t you worked it out yet – Earthman?”



Friday, mid-morning

The doors to Sickbay flew open as a stretcher was pushed through them at some speed. White-jacketed medics gathered around, lifting the unconscious captain onto an examination table.

Fawn, warned beforehand by Magenta and Ochre, turned his attention first to the half-healed gash across Scarlet’s arm. He peeled off the dressing, noting in passing, and with approval, that the cut had been properly cleaned.

“There’s no way that such a minor injury could've caused this state of collapse. Let’s have a look at this piece of glass…”

Fawn carefully extended the cut, and, with considerably more ease than Magenta, excised the sliver. It was just over two centimetres long, bevelled at the top, and it bore the remnants of some lettering. Holding it delicately in a pair of forceps, Fawn peered at what was left of the label. “…ren Biot… Warren Biotech?” He placed the sliver in a dish, and handed it to one of his assistants. “Get this to the lab. I need a full analysis, fast!”


It didn’t take the lab long to identify the piece of glass as a shard from a mini test tube, and the residue on it as a particularly virulent poison of a so-far unknown extraction.

Doctor Fawn was worried. Scarlet’s retrometabolism was obviously doing its best to combat the lethal toxin, but the battle was a difficult one. Scarlet was drifting in and out of consciousness, delirious with a high fever, and mumbling incoherently. Sweat poured off him. A white-coated nurse gently sponged away the worst of it, and carefully applied sensors to his chest. His skin twitched as she did so; inconsequentially, Fawn suddenly remembered that Scarlet had once remarked that the sensors tickled. A good sign, the doctor mused. He’s still aware of externals.

Once all the sensors were in place, and connected to their respective monitors, the medical team had a far more accurate – and disturbing – picture of their patient’s progress.

“He’s dreaming,” one of the medics murmured, intently watching the EEG readings. “Look at that brain activity pattern. Never seen anything THAT erratic.”

Fawn was more concerned with the cardiac monitor. It was showing a shallow, irregular heartbeat – in itself, nothing unusual for Scarlet in the early stages of regeneration from serious injury, but not from an insignificant little scratch. The toxin must be something spectacular to cause this reaction, Fawn thought. He turned to his team. “Make sure the crash cart’s ready,” he said. “He’s having a difficult time, and I want to give him as much help as possible.”

A low moan brought Fawn’s attention sharply back to his patient. Scarlet was moving, writhing in pain as the poison invaded every part of his body. Suddenly, he convulsed, retching and curling into a foetal position, hugging his stomach.

“He’ll fall off the bed if this carries on,” Fawn snapped. “Get some restraints on him.”

Two nurses pushed gently but firmly on Scarlet’s chest and shoulders, trying to ease him back down onto the bed. Suddenly, as if disturbed by the contact, Scarlet’s eyes flew open; he gasped, then fell back as he lost consciousness once more.


The white-jacketed medics went efficiently about their business, reporting on the various readings from the numerous monitors that charted Scarlet’s condition. Fawn noted these reports almost unconsciously, letting their remarks fade into a background chatter. They sounded earnest, with a muted excitement at dealing with the most unusual patient any medical practitioner could hope for. Sometimes, Fawn thought, they were all in danger of concentrating too much on Scarlet-the-medical-oddity, and forgetting Scarlet-the-person.

“Is this a good moment?” a quiet voice asked from the doorway. Fawn jumped, startled – he hadn’t realised just how intently he’d been concentrating on his patient, to the exclusion of everything else.

“Colonel White! Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”

White nodded. “You looked busy. I didn’t want to disturb you. How is he?”

Fawn glanced back at Scarlet, now lying quietly on his monitored bed. “Not good, I’m afraid. It’s taking much longer than usual.”

“What’s going wrong?”

Fawn sighed. “I’ve no idea. Bad regeneration is all I can say, I’m sorry.”

White bit his lip, and glanced at the motionless figure on the bed. White-jacketed medics surrounded him, checking vital signs, making entries in the medical log, and doing other, less comprehensible things as they cared for their patient.

“Blood pressure’s dropping,” one of the team reported urgently, abruptly attracting Fawn’s attention. Others confirmed that Scarlet’s vital signs had gone into a sudden, catastrophic decline. Fawn leaned over his patient for a short moment, noting the short, shallow, irregular breaths, the feverish flush that coloured the pale face, and the flutter of rapid eye movement behind the closed eyelids. Still dreaming, then – what does he dream about? Fawn wondered inconsequentially. The doctor straightened up, issuing a series of succinct orders; a nurse appeared by his side and handed him a hypodermic.

“He’s going!” a medic reported urgently, watching the rapid diminution of the traces on the medical monitors.

“Not if I can help it!” Fawn growled, and injected the contents of the hypodermic into Scarlet’s arm.

Silence fell in Sickbay; Fawn and his team kept a close eye on the monitors which, for a few tense moments showed no change. Then at last, Scarlet seemed to relax. He drew a long breath, and the readings began to rise. They were still low – far too low for Fawn’s peace of mind – but at least it was an improvement.

White let out the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding. “That looked bad for a while, didn’t it?” he said quietly.

Fawn nodded. “This keeps happening. He drifts in and out of consciousness, vital signs are so unstable it’s all we can do to keep track of them – it’s as if he’s taking one step forward and two steps back. I’m not sure why, and he can’t afford to lose any more ground. He’s so weak now, I’m not sure how much longer he can hold on.”

A lab technician approached and cleared his throat to attract Fawn’s attention.

“Doctor Fawn? There’s something in the latest blood sample you really ought to see. Right away, please, sir.”

Excusing himself to White, Fawn swiftly crossed the floor to the bench, and peered through the microscope at the blood smear. It was endlessly fascinating to watch the infinitesimally small battle being waged on the glass slide – enhanced antibodies that had never been seen in a normal human, attacking the deadly poison. However, something was going wrong this time. As Fawn watched, a toxin particle, surrounded and apparently overwhelmed by a clump of antibodies, underwent a change. Around it, antibodies and red and white blood cells collapsed and disintegrated, the toxin particle swam over to another of its kind, touched it, and the same change occurred to the second particle. Within seconds, every particle of poison in the blood smear had undergone the same transformation, and renewed the attack on Scarlet’s immune system. Retrometabolism kicked in; damaged cells regenerated and mutated, once again fighting off the assault. But it looked as if the battle was pretty evenly matched; for every toxin particle that was surrounded and destroyed, an antibody or blood cell was also fatally wounded. Could Scarlet have at last met something he couldn’t fight?

“Nano-technology?” Fawn wondered. “A smart toxin that can adapt to its victim’s defences…” He looked up at Colonel White, who had come to join him at the bench.

“‘Experimental pesticide of no particular importance’, eh?” Colonel White growled. “I think I’d better have a word with Professor Warren.”



Professor Bernard Warren was a worried man. “It was only after your agents left, Colonel White, that we realised that one of the broken test tubes had contained a sample of TS-20.”

“TS-20?” White queried.

The professor dismissed the query. “Just a naming convention of no significance outside my company.”

“Professor Warren – exactly WHAT is TS-20?” White asked.

“As I explained to your agents, Colonel, it’s an experimental pesticide -”

“We have reason to believe it’s rather more than that, Professor Warren. The Mysterons wouldn’t be interested in something as harmless as you claim this ‘pesticide’ is. However, they WOULD be interested in a smart toxin. One that can adapt to anything the victim might do to combat it. A toxin combined, in fact, with nano-technology. Am I right, Professor Warren?”

The silence at the other end of the line was eloquent. At last, Warren spoke again.

“How did you find out?”

White didn’t answer the question. “What effect would this toxin have on a human body?”

The professor looked, if possible, even paler with shock than before. “Catastrophic,” he admitted in a small voice. “The nano-bots are programmed to analyse the immune system of any living thing they infest, and alter the structure of the toxin to destroy it. They were originally designed to react only to the physiology of certain kinds of insects and crop-blights, but we found that all living creatures would be affected. The bots are too good at what they were designed to do. We’ve been experimenting on cutting down their range. But then the Mysterons found out about them… How did they find out?”

White sighed. “If I knew that, Professor, Spectrum would be much closer to nullifying their menace. I want everything you have on this toxin, the nano-bots, and what the antidote is, please, Professor. And I want it now.”

“I’m afraid there is no antidote, Colonel White. The bots adapt too fast for any kind of chemical or biological counter-agent. The only way to be sure of destroying them is with high-voltage electricity.”


Fawn listened in grim silence as White passed on what he had learned in his conversation with Professor Warren.

“The bots have been multiplying at an astonishing rate,” he said heavily as White finished. “They’ve invaded every part of Scarlet’s body, including his brain. He’s losing this one, Colonel.”

White sighed. “If the nano-bots don’t kill him, the electricity might.”

When that statement got no reaction from Fawn, the colonel looked curiously at his Chief Medical Officer. The doctor was gazing distractedly into the distance, frowning in concentration. White waited, not wanting to interrupt what might be a vital train of thought.

“Only electricity will destroy the bots…” Fawn murmured, thinking out loud. “But that voltage could well kill Scarlet, too… the current has to be applied to the contamination in his blood, but not to his body… therefore, the electrocution has to take place outside his body… yes!”

Fawn leapt off his chair. “I think I know how I can do this. It’s an appalling risk, but one I think we’ve got to take. There’s a lot to set up, and not much time to do it in. So if you’ll excuse me…?”

White stood up. “Of course. Keep me informed, when you have time.”



Scarlet had intended to go to the Control Room, to confront Colonel White about the identity of his lunch companion, but instead found himself, bewildered, sick and frightened, back in the Officers’ Mess.

The Mess was deserted now, except for a small group of people in the far distance, so far away that Scarlet couldn’t even be sure whether they were real, or a figment of his imagination. A faint beeping noise sounded from somewhere, mixed with other sounds that were too vague and far-away to identify.

Warren loomed up suddenly out of nowhere, his hand shooting out as fast as a striking snake to grip Scarlet’s throat. He moved forward, pushing Scarlet backwards towards the wall.

“The Mysterons will be avenged, Captain Scarlet. You have thwarted us too often – now, with the assistance of the nano-bots multiplying themselves in your bloodstream, you will die very soon. The only way of destroying the bots will also destroy you. And it is a satisfying irony that Spectrum’s own medical services will be responsible for your death. Whether they act or not, will make no difference.”

Scarlet struggled to breathe, to break away from the iron grip on his throat. All this talk of nano-bots made no sense to him. All he knew right now was this stranger was stronger by far than he was. Mysterons had invaded Cloudbase, and no-one else knew. He had to break away, warn everyone…


Fawn steeled himself not to leave his current task of setting up the blood-scrubber as sounds reached him of his team struggling to keep Scarlet alive for long enough to receive the dramatic and risky treatment Fawn had devised. He heard the crack of the defibrillator, and a murmur of satisfaction as Scarlet was once again brought back from the brink of death.


Scarlet somehow found the strength to clench his fist and drive it into the face of the Mysteron in front of him. There was a satisfying crack as Warren’s nose flattened under his fist, and Scarlet wrenched himself free from the man’s suffocating grip, taking several swift paces towards the exit -

A quiet voice from behind him froze him in his tracks.

“You cannot escape. This time, you will die.”

Against his will, slowly, as if hypnotised, Scarlet turned, his hand resting on the handle of the door that would lead him out into the corridor. If he were ever able to open it…

Warren approached, slowly. There was no sign of any injury, no blood, no crookedness of the nose that Scarlet was certain he’d broken. With agonising slowness, Scarlet pushed the door open behind him and edged backwards. Warren moved towards him, at the same pace, his blandly expressionless face holding more menace than the most savage snarl Scarlet had ever seen on the face of an enemy.


Fawn stepped back from the table, and surveyed the mass of tubing, pumps and containers that he and his assistants had put together in such a hurry. It had to work – the alternative was unthinkable. At last, he allowed himself to look round at the bed on which Scarlet was fighting for his life. Fawn studied the readings from the various monitors that displayed and recorded Scarlet’s vital signs – each one told of a man now almost too weak to survive. Retrometabolism was fighting a rear-guard action, but the bots were multiplying faster and faster now, invading almost every part of Scarlet’s body.

Fawn drew a deep breath. He looked round at his team, and nodded. “Let’s do it. And make it fast…”


The face flickered like something out of a nightmare, shifting rapidly between the blandly average features of Warren and the ravaged, sunken face of Captain Black.

Scarlet backed away warily, his heart pounding. Something moved at the very edge of his vision – fearing an attack, Scarlet risked a quick glance away from the approaching figure whose appearance was becoming more and more unstable. Warren lunged forward, a knife glittering in his hand, his face morphing suddenly and incongruously into that of Doctor Fawn. Startled, Scarlet ducked and side-stepped, but the very tip of the knife caught his left arm, and blood started to flow.

Clutching his arm, Scarlet took an incautious and hasty step backwards, tripping over one of the small service robots that usually carried out their cleaning duties so unobtrusively. Sprawled on the floor, Scarlet scrambled frantically backwards as Warren/Black/Fawn bore down on him, still brandishing the knife. Once again, the knife stabbed down…

With a half-sob of fear and desperation, Scarlet wrenched himself away and ran, literally for his life, down the corridor.

Something was definitely wrong here – Scarlet rarely saw the little service robots, but now they were everywhere, hundreds of them, scurrying through the corridor, impeding his flight. He could barely keep his footing as the robots bumped and jostled around him, their dark-red carapaces glinting in the half-light.

Electric flashes sparked through the thickening air as Scarlet struggled onwards, now gasping for breath. His pace slowed to a crawl – try as hard as he might, he could move only in slow-motion, like wading through treacle on leaden legs. Tiny darts of electricity stabbed at him over and over, from all sides, until finally, in utter exhaustion, he fell to his knees, head bowed in defeat. Warren caught up with him, gripping Scarlet’s arms tightly, and wrenching his head up. Scarlet gazed into the eyes of his murderer, too exhausted to feel anything but a dull apprehension. He waited for the final stroke…

But something was happening, something so bizarre that Scarlet’s tired mind could barely take it in. As Warren’s face contorted with rage and hate, it began to lose cohesion… no longer solid, it started to fragment… his entire body began to disintegrate… In a soundless detonation, the body of Mr Warren exploded and dissipated in a sparkling rain…

Utterly spent, Scarlet didn’t move. The air thickened and chilled around him as the last of the light faded, and he fell forward…


A brilliant light, and a low thump-thump sound in the background, woke him some unknowable time later. He pushed himself up, staring around in bewilderment at thousands of inert, silent service robots that filled the corridor wall to wall, and into the far distance. Colonel White stood a few paces away, leaning against the wall.

“You’ve taken your time,” he said. “Come on, you’re late.”

“Late? Late for what?” Scarlet asked as he struggled to his feet with some difficulty.

White merely glanced back at him over his shoulder, then strode down the corridor and through the door of the Officers’ Mess. Scarlet followed as fast as he could, tripping and struggling through the carpet of robots, leaving a trail of blood from the stab wound in his arm.

After what seemed like an eternity, he pushed open the door of the Mess. He could just about make out White in the far distance as he moved towards one of the long tables. The chairs had been cleared away to the side of the room, and the boisterous group of technicians, now silent, clustered around the table.

White turned and beckoned. Full of unreasoning dread, Scarlet moved forward.

The technicians made room for him, and Scarlet peered at the table. The body that lay on the clean tablecloth had a wound in the right arm, INTO which, incredibly, blood was flowing. Scarlet glanced down at his left arm; the blood flowing OUT of his identical wound had slowed to a trickle.

White faced Scarlet, and gestured towards the table. “Come on, then.”

Now that he looked more closely, Scarlet realised that the colonel’s head of thick white hair wasn’t hair at all, but a close-fitting surgical cap. His white tunic was actually a white surgical gown. The eyes that looked at him with such compassion over the top of the face-mask were not the eyes of Colonel White, but of Doctor Fawn.

As if in a dream, Scarlet stepped up to the table. The figure in white gave him an encouraging nod, then raised his hands. Incapable of registering any more shocks, Scarlet merely noted, with a kind of dull horror, that the doctor had no hands. Instead, his arms ended in black, paddle-shaped objects…

With shocking speed, the doctor punched Scarlet hard on the chest with both paddle-hands. The body on the table jerked spasmodically; Scarlet gasped, struggling for breath against the sudden, crushing pain in his chest, and staggered backwards against the table. The room started to spin. Sickened, Scarlet clutched at one of the technicians for support, and through the gathering darkness, felt himself sinking through a warm, comforting nothingness into a pain-free silence.



Doctor Fawn replaced the shock paddles on the crash cart, and pulled off his mask with a sigh of relief. One of his assistants reported the patient’s rapidly improving vital signs, and Fawn could see that Scarlet was now deeply asleep – a normal, restorative sleep instead of the delirium and feverish semi-consciousness of the last few hours.

“Are you all right, Tom?” Fawn asked the nurse who was putting the crash cart away.

Tom nodded, and showed his bare arm. Bruises were already starting to blossom on his skin where Scarlet had grabbed the arm in his delirium. “He’s got a hell of a grip,” the nurse grinned. “I’m glad he passed out when he did.”

Fawn turned his attention back to his sleeping patient. His assistants started to dismantle the jury-rigged blood-scrubber, carefully removing the thin tubing from Scarlet’s arms. It had been an enormous gamble, even for someone with Scarlet’s astonishing powers of recovery; draining all the blood from his body had been an appalling risk, but it had paid off. He picked up the jar containing a reddish sludge, all that remained of the millions of nano-bots that had invaded Scarlet’s body from the sliver of glass. Warren Biotech had a real winner on their hands with these little machines – the electric current needed to destroy them had been almost as strong as that of a fully-charged Mysteron gun. Fawn wondered briefly if Colonel White would permit Warren to continue developing them. Ah well, not his problem. What WAS his problem was how to dispose of these little nasties safely…


Captain Scarlet let himself into his quarters, and without bothering to turn on the light, fell onto his bed. He was exhausted. His regeneration had been unusually slow and difficult, and Fawn had kept him in Sickbay for far longer than normal. He felt a lot better, but wondered nevertheless if he should have stayed the night, after all. But he always slept better in his own bed. He dragged his clothes off and, burrowing under the quilt, fell into a deep, dreamless sleep…

Long hair tickled the bare skin of his chest, and soft lips brushed against his forehead. Without opening his eyes, he smiled.

“What a nice way to wake up,” he murmured drowsily.

“If you are awake,” an aristocratic English voice replied. “Coffee?”

“Mmm.” He rolled onto his side and opened his eyes. Rhapsody, now busy at the coffee-maker, turned her head and smiled at him.

“How are you feeling now, love?” she asked quietly.

“Much better, thanks.”

He stretched luxuriously, extending his arms above his head until his joints popped. And that brought something else to his attention. He wrinkled his nose in disgust at the smell of stale sweat, and peeped out apologetically from under his arm as Rhapsody sat down on the edge of his bed to give him his coffee.

“Don’t get too close, love. I’m not very nice to be near right now. Too knackered to shower last night.”

“So I noticed.” She moved a little closer, regardless. “Why don’t you have a shower now? The coffee’s hot enough to last.”

“Good idea.” He rolled out of bed, treading on something soft as he did so. Frowning, he picked up his uniform sweater and trousers, thrown in a heap on the floor. I’m getting sloppy in my old age, he mused, picking them up and throwing them onto the chair opposite the bed. He sat on the edge of the bed, then stopped, suddenly mindful of Rhapsody’s presence in the room and his own state of dishabille. Surreptitiously, he started to wrap himself in the counterpane, but Rhapsody noticed and just laughed.

“Why so modest, all of a sudden?” she giggled. “I’ve seen it before, don’t forget. Just go and have your shower.”

Scarlet looked down at the rumpled counterpane, back up at Rhapsody’s grin and her eyes, full of love, then smiled ruefully and let the heavy cloth drop to the floor.


Eyes screwed shut against the streams of foam from the shampoo, and ears full of water, Scarlet didn’t hear the shower door slide open. The first indication that he was no longer alone in the cubicle came as arms wrapped round his waist from behind, and lips touched the side of his neck. He turned, took her in his arms and kissed her; she pushed against his chest, pinning him against the back wall of the shower cubicle as the warm water poured over them both…

If any memories of the dream of death tried to come back to haunt him, he was far too pre-occupied to pay them any attention.


The End



This is one of the most complicated stories I’ve ever tried to write.  Attempting to match up what was going on in Scarlet’s dreamworld with events in the “real” world almost caused me to give up on many occasions.  Many thanks to the Usual Suspects (you know who you all are!) for encouragement along the way, with particular thanks to Marion Woods for beta-reading and approval of the finished story.

Disclaimer:  apparently, even Gerry Anderson himself is unclear about who currently owns the copyright for “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons”. Possibly, copyright still rests with itv.  I’m making no profit from this story, and intend no copyright infringement by my use of characters, concepts and models from the series.

Hazel Köhler

May 2008





Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site