(Disclaimer: I do not own anything from "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons", those belong to ITC/Polygram/Carlton. I only own the Robertson family: Megan, Julia, and their parents.
Author's Note: A companion piece to "Musings of a Ruby Heart", this story also takes place three days after the episode "Winged Assassin". This time the perspective is of Julia's sister, Megan.
Lozzie - thanks for the review. It was a deciding factor on how to type this in.)
I didn't believe the first reports of Julia's death, and I still can't grasp the possibility now.
But how could I have explained that my sister and I share a psychic link, that we both knew if either of us is injured or frightened to the officers that brought me the news. How could I have told them that I had felt Julia's life-pulse disappear hours after the reported time of death, or that it wasn't a simple cessation of signal, but a jamming technique of some sort when I wouldn't have believed the explanation myself if somebody told me that.
However, Captains Ochre and Magenta didn't just come to the hospital two days ago just to tell me that Dad and Julia died in a plane crash. Spectrum could have sent one of their ground agents to me as they did with Mom, except that I seen somebody that Mom hadn't. What brought the two colour-coded officers to my bedside was in the picture I did on the man who saved my life the day before. A composite that, according to the website I used, was of Captain Black, a Spectrum officer suspected to have illicitly conspired with the terrorists who attacked the World President.
The policeman who questioned us after the mugging thought that Black was a mass hallucination since there was no way that he could've left the alley without being seen. If nobody saw him leave and he wasn't there when the police arrived then he wasn't there to save my life. Except that the mugger was injured by a bullet and the police hadn't found the gun on any of us or in the alley, though they did confiscate the mugger's knife and the six throwing spikes that Julia and I were wearing. The detective wouldn't even call in a sketch artist so I went to one of those crime catcher websites and used their composite making program.
I don't know whether it was the sighting report the site had me fill in or the crime lab's ballistic report that got Spectrum's attention, but within twenty-four hours after I sent that report two of their Colours, their elite officers, came to see me about Black and about Julia. They told me a bit more about the terrorist act Flight DT19 was used for by shooting down the theories I had to explain why I felt Julia was still alive. The computer records of the flight showed that her ticket was used to board the plane and these … Mysterons had sabotaged the Flight in a manner that allowed them to remotely take control of the plane to kill the Director General of the United Asian Republic, eliminating any need for hijackers on board. The fact that they left no one alive to open the doors at London Airport had alerted those in the Control Tower to the jet's deadly purpose, but the attempts to protect its target had failed against the size of this winged assassin.
Captain Magenta and I also talked about several other topics, while Ochre had a chat with the skeptical detective and then reported back to Spectrum HQ. When Ochre came back in, the conversation quickly moved to my encounter with Captain Black. They wanted to know anything I could tell them about Black, especially stuff about his appearance, voice, or body language. I tried to answer their questions as best I could, even resorting to the description that Julia left with me in case 'Detective Doubtful' decided to come back for it. The biggest problem was the fact that I had passed out shortly after Black came to my rescue, so most of what I knew about what happened then was secondhand. What I could tell them firsthand seemed insignificant, that what I heard of Black's voice was warm and human, that he held himself in a manner similar to Ochre's, and that he looked like he was attacked by a vampire and left for dead, yet the first two details had surprised my visitors more than how I described Black's … semblance. It was almost like the pallor was the side effect of something that changed the man I glimpsed at in the alley into the one that had supposedly betrayed our world to those who'd plunge it into chaos.
Finally, the Captains decided that I had nothing else to tell them and were about to leave when Mother came in with a bouquet. She wanted to know who Ruby was, but at the time, the only person I knew of that would send that particular arrangement and use that moniker was my twin sister, my only and supposedly dead sister. I told Mom that, adding that my unknown well-wisher probably didn't know that fact. However Captain Ochre must have seen something in my face or gestures that hinted at the message I saw in the roses, for he re-entered the room, curious about the card, with Magenta returning a few minutes later. I didn't really wanted to tell them about what I read in the bouquet and card, but Captain Magenta coaxed the fact that whoever did send the flowers wanted to see me at the memorial service out into the open. I just about told them about the 'flower code' as well, something that only Julia, Dad, and I knew and used to leave notes to each other secretly. Luckily, Ochre decided that I could have deduced what she wanted by what she wrote on the card.
Memorial Service, Megan
P.S. Heal quickly, my Jade Soul.
Thanks to the aforementioned flower code and whatever Grace that had Mom place the flowers in the window, I was able to 'send back', "understand, wait for reply," without anyone in my room knowing. Then I wondered if the original sender would understand or even know about my message.
I received a 'bouquet' of chocolate buds from 'her' the next day, delivered by the doctor who came in to do a quick checkup. As he left, the two Spectrum Captains returned, wanting to know if I would help them lure out whoever was using mine and Julia's private nicknames to get me to go to the service, pending medical approval of course. As I was quite willing, we discussed various theories and stratagems, and I started on making roses for my service bouquet, while we waited for the doctor to return.
Before the doctor came back, I'd managed to finish the fake Midnight Snow and the nine white roses I needed, and had started work on the silk Ruby Heart. Thankfully the prognosis was good, the only injuries that he wanted to keep an eye on were a partial fracture in my left arm and a swollen knee, both of which are treated with immobilization. The Captains left for a few minutes and I finished the Ruby Heart bloom waiting for them and a wheelchair. I also moved a single rose in the get-well bouquet to changed my displayed message to "yes, I'll be there."
After I moved the bloom, I heard a motorcycle roar past my window. Peering out, I saw the cycle in question and two vehicles behind it was a Spectrum Patrol Car, which seemed to trade off with a black sedan. I watched for a few seconds until the sedan and the bike had turned out of sight, then I gathered my stuff together.
While waiting for the departure paperwork, I arranged the flowers in a triangular fashion, sticking the Ruby Heart in the left corner and leaving an empty place in the right corner for a real Amber Medal rose, preferably one that was freshly cut. That was when Mom came storming in. Apparently she heard something about how Flight DT19 had met its end in London, and theorized that that was the reason why there were no survivors. She wanted to take me home, but I told her that I planned to be at the service the next day. Then she saw Captain Ochre and was about to rail at him when I interfered again by asking him if the car was ready. Mother absolutely refused to let me be alone with him, so we had to put up with her snipes, snide remarks, and outright insults as we couldn't disabuse her of her of that erroneous ill-formed notion. The only high point of an otherwise uneventful evening was that I found some Amber Medal roses grafted to a potted tree in the back.
Listening to the service today, I found it hard to stop my eyes, or mind, from wandering until I noticed a glint of light reflecting from one of the nearby roofs. Looking carefully, I saw the forms of two people scanning the crowds for something … or someone. Then Mom jabbed me with her elbow and I turned my attention back towards the front. I still glanced at the rooftop pair from time to time, 'probing' the knot of ice that had formed around the link for a way through.
The second time that I watched them, I was shaking my head at an unkind jab a prominent American businessman made about my Dad's supposed insistence on only flying on planes designed by Robertson Aerodynamics Inc, when I noticed that the two rooftop spectators had noticeably changed positions. One was now looking down into the street that ran beside both the building and the 'park' while the other… I think we must have met each other's eyes despite the distance, for suddenly I felt like a rabbit in the shadow of a hawk. I don't know when the spike dropped into my hand, but it was there when he turned away and walked over to his companion. His head dropped down, then the other person was pulling him away, both pairs of arms pointing upwards. I felt a blaze of anger as they struggled briefly over something which I thought had sparkled and for the second time today I had to resist the urge to throw the spike in my hand with the knowledge that I couldn't throw it that far. Then the pair was gone, the ice had resealed the link, and the spike was put back into its sheath without anyone noticing.
As the pastor started calling people and groups forward to lay flowers, I noticed that Captain Magenta had arrived, looking slightly pale, and that Captain Ochre was not too pleased to see the officer that Magenta had brought with him. I don't know what it was about, since the only things odd about the red-vested guy was that he was wearing the splint over the sleeve of the turtleneck and, like Magenta, he was not in dress uniform.
When it was my turn to lay flowers, I undid the wheel locks and found myself moving forward, up the slight slope to the Memorial. Looking behind me I saw the scarlet-clad Spectrum officer, expertly maneuvering the chair with a hand and a elbow. I teased him about his splint, how it was placed over his sleeve instead of under it, and he gave me a few jibes about the 'aces' I had up my sleeve.
We circled the monument looking for a place to lay my bouquet, when I noticed something. I signaled my 'driver' to stop, then examined the flowers that caught my attention.
"Shards," I whisper, feeling tears in my eyes. "I know the saying goes 'once is accident, twice coincidence, and three times enemy action,' so why does this feel more than coincidence, when everyone tells me that the only two people who could do this intentionally are dead."
"Do what?" my assistant asked.
"Leave me a message that looks like a bouquet of flowers," I replied, touching the black rose and the Ruby Heart in the spurious bouquet. "An arrangement to mourn Dad, with an apology and a good-bye added to it for me, from 'Ruby Heart'. Possibly the same Ruby that wanted me here."
He wanted to know how I could read all that in a bunch of roses, so laying down my bouquet beside its counterpart, I pointed out the use of greenery to distance the signature roses from the other flowers, suggesting a parting of ways, and how the plea for forgiveness was implied with a couple of forget-me-nots near the Amber Medal bloom.
"… And we use white roses and 'indicator' flowers with the leaves brought outward to symbolise the passing of another, a different form of parting ways," I explained, frowning. "That black 'rose' puzzles me though, as we never used a bloom of that colour, or associated another rose with our own signature before."
"Perhaps it would represent another person, a traveling companion," he replied humorously, adding in a more serious tone, "Assuming, of course, that this was a real message, and not coincidental."
"Of course," was my only response as I lost myself in thought. Perhaps they were right after all, maybe Julia was dead. Could the two bouquets be a message from beyond the grave, telling me to let go? As I pondered on this, I felt a sliver of cold seep from the knot and wrap around my thoughts, attempting to comfort me. Instead it startled me, and in my surprise I briefly felt Julia's warm touch again before it disappeared. I understood the message right then and there.
Whatever the case may be, my Ruby Heart was gone. Perhaps it's time to replace it with one of my own, a heart of … Amber.
Au revoir Julia, wherever you may be. All is forgiven. Safe journeys, no matter where you're headed.
Night has descended,
And my tales are done,
But for Julie and Megan,
The Journey's only begun.
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