A ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ story
By P.J. Brown
"I never thought you'd become a stage door johnny," jibed Captain Blue good humouredly, as he watched his friend change for a short trip below. "How long did you get?"
"Colonel White said eight hours max and of course I'm to be available at any time for immediate recall." Captain Scarlet sighed, sometimes being Spectrum's unique No 1 Indestructible Agent was a real pain. He straightened, grabbed a sweater and gave Blue a shove, "C’mon, C’mon you said you could get me down in a hurry, let's see if your flying skills match your repartee!"
"Stop pushing! I bruise easy!" yelped Blue." Anyway you're only annoyed 'cos I had the whole weekend off."
"Favouritism I call it," muttered Scarlet.
"Bet your eight hours is far more exciting than my weekend," Blue grinned.
Scarlet laughed. "That's not what I heard Symphony say." Watching his friend redden restored his good humour.
"Touché! I hope she's worth it."
"She is. She is."
As soon as Nikki appeared, any doubts about what he was doing were forgotten. Surrounded by heavies, the tall, dark haired, woman swept through the crowds of admirers, mostly men. Hailed as the Queen of Rock, this incredible singer had been wooing men with her voice the world over for the past two years. A beautiful face with eyes you could drown in, endless legs finishing off a stunning body, and a voice that could lull you into depths of sensuality you did not know you possessed or tear your heart out with a powerful catlike roar. For one barely perceptible second she paused and smiled deeply into the shadows, then she carried on, slid into the ancient Jaguar that she drove herself and drove away from the throng.
Three blocks further on she pulled in briefly, and the powerful looking man standing on the side leapt in, and she sped off again.
"Where have you been you rat!" The soft gaze belied the angry words.
"Just keep your eyes on the road , idiot!" Scarlet wagged his finger under her nose, then he laughed. "How far is the hotel from here?"
"Not far, Why?"
Deep breath, "I've only got seven hours left."
"PAUL!" Heavy pause. "O.K., l know we said no hassles, see each other when we can etc, but honestly," she groaned, "Whatever you do must be so weird!"
Scarlet smiled. "Don't be mad, I'm lucky to be here." He stroked her face. "Lets just make the most of it.?" Nikki's smile deepened, and her foot pressed harder on the accelerator.
Back at Cloudbase Captain Blue was in serious trouble. "C’mon Adam you must know who she is."
"Symphony iz right, you must know, you are best friends, non?" "Tell us pleaze." Destiny looked crossly at him.
Faced by angry females was almost as bad as a Mysteron attack reflected Blue as he backed away.
"You are lucky that Rhapsody iz not 'ere then you would be in trouble."
Rhapsody, Spectrum's resident redhead was famous for her fiery temper, and had more than a passing interest in Captain Scarlet. Blue was certainly very glad that she was on standby in jet No 1.
"Why iz 'e so 'ow do say closed mouthed about this, what 'as le to 'ide?" Destiny's linguistic abilities always failed in moments of stress.
"Ladies please isn't a guy entitled to his privacy?" Backing out hastily Blue cannoned into Grey.
"Hey ! What's all the hurry?"
"Ahh, Brad maybe you can help us." Harmony pouted prettily at Grey who totally disarmed promised to help any way he could. Five minutes later both the Captains fell into the corridor.
"Boy I need a drink!"
"I hope Captain Grey, that is not a serious comment?" Grey and Blue froze.
Colonel White looked enquiringly at them.
"No Sir! Just a joke."
"What is going on? You look harassed. Any problems?"
"Nope we're A.0.K., Sir."
"We're fine, Sir."
"Good. well gentlemen, carry on.” Colonel White walked on a few steps and then turning, casually asked," Is Captain Scarlet involved with anyone?"
"Why do you ask, Sir?"
"Well, it's unlike Captain Scarlet to be so persistent about leave, still," he smiled warningly, "I'm sure he will remember that his duty is to Spectrum first."
"Yes Sir ! Absolutely Sir!" The Colonel carried on once more.
"Phew! I hope Scarlet appreciates this."
"The amount of times he has bailed us out, l figure its the least we can do. I reckon the old man knows anyway he is pretty fly."
"So is Scarlet, that half alien can run rings around most of us."
"True. But I'm not sure he is entirely with it just now and don't let him hear you call him an alien, I wouldn't like to peel you off the end of his fist!" Blue glared at Grey.
"Its funny I take his powers of retrometabolism for granted now, you are closest to him, does he still feel weird about it?"
Blue looked thoughtful. "I think he does, he's not very upfront, this is one of the few time 5 I've ever seen him really show any emotion. I think he feels kinda lonely you know, sort of cut off and we all forget although his healing powers are phenomenal, it still hurts. Someone who's been crushed, crashed, blown up and burnt as often as he has, must feel weird sometimes!"
He blew softly into Nikki's hair. "I've got to go."
"Damn! The time goes so fast, can't you oversleep or call in with the flu?'
Paul laughed. "My boss would never believe me, I'm never ill."
"Please, just this once, please?"
"Aw c'mon, anyway the flight for the next concert is in a few hours, get some sleep. You never know when I might be able to drop in again." He grinned. “I never know where I'll be next, so…" He shrugged.
"Not even half an hour more."
"Well I think you are a real meanie, Paul Milton!"
Scarlet cringed, so many lies. He leant across and kissed her. "Goodbye wretch, see you soon, I hope." At the door he paused. "Good luck with the new song." A sleepy wave was the only response.
Standing around at 6 a.m. in a cold airfield was not Scarlet's idea of fun. "Hurry up!" he muttered. Almost immediately the roar of a Magnacopter could be heard, it had barely landed when he scrambled in.
"Cold out there?" queried Green.
"Yes! What are you doing here? How did you escape our illustrious leader?"
"He's not that bad," protested Green. "Anyway it's been so quiet lately, he did not mind me being taxi man for once. How was your break?"
"Great!" Scarlet yawned massively. "When am I on duty next?"
Green consulted his watch. "About two hours."
"Good! I'll be able to grab half an hour in the Sleep Room." He yawned again.
"Do you reckon you can wait that long?" Green asked with mock sympathy.
"Home James!” Scarlet waved his fist threateningly at Green. They both laughed.
Three weeks later, Nikki's song, 'Electric Love', was rising up the charts faster than a Mysteron can heal. Nikki was racing from city to city, singing, signing autographs and sleeping. Her usual good humour was becoming more snappish as the days went by. Her staff hoped that the new mystery man would hurry up and make another appearance and give them all a break.
Cloudbasers were also hoping for a break from Scarlet's obsession with playing 'Electric Love'. Unaware of the various attempts to stop him, from subtle hints to outright sabotage, he was once again subjecting the Amber Room to Nikki's dulcet tones. Oblivious to the suffering around him, Scarlet hummed along.
"Why doesn't somebody tell him," hissed Rhapsody into Ochre's ear. "I thought love was supposed to make you blind not everybody else deaf!"
"Jealous," teased Ochre. "Leave the guy alone, he's bound to get bored with it sooner or later… I hope,” he added with some feeling.
"Man this is boring!" Grey stretched. "Do you suppose the Mysterons go into hibernation? Its been weeks since we had any action, and I am fed up with training exercises."
Out of the radio came a cold strangulated voice.
"THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS, WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN. WE INTEND TO DESTROY THE HEAD OF SPECTRUM INTELLIGENCE BY A ROYAL HAND.
The alarm sounded.
"Cryptic as ever I see. Hibernation has not improved their sense of humour."
"Quiet please, Captain Grey. Well Ladies and Gentlemen any suggestions?"
Colonel White looked hopefully at his staff, the conference room remained ominously silent.
2 weeks later
Nikki sighed and stepped into her bath; her head was still echoing with the applause of another successful concert. She smiled; "Don't get too big headed girl," she remonstrated at her reflection, mirrored around the luxurious bathroom. "remember pride goes before a fall."
Giggling at herself, with pleasure she sank further into the water. Waving a languid foot in the air, she reflected on the prospect of being an Academy nominee and being asked to sing at the award ceremony itself, it felt good.
The suite was silent, she had banished everyone for what remained of the night. Peace. Now to make the evening have a really perfect ending, Paul would arrive as unexpectedly as usual. Some hopes! She hadn’t seen him for weeks. A bubble burst. Crossly she closed her eyes and tried to regain her good mood. Startled, she heard her door open, she relaxed as the silhouette of a powerful figure appeared.
"Have you come to grovel at the feet of a new superstar?" she teased.
"Hardly,” as the cold voice answered, the man stepped into the light, she gasped.
"Who are you? What… Don't! Please Don't! NO! NO! Her scream ended, bubbling underwater.
Nikki wrapped her bathrobe tightly around herself, the cold voice in her head giving instructions which she duly followed.
"You know I'm really going to miss all this attention". The diminutive head of Spectrum Intelligence, her intensely feminine appearance fooling many Spectrum males into feeling protective and making assumptions about her that were quickly crushed beneath her vitriolic tongue, smiled at her escort. Unable to pin down her intended demise to any one event, Colonel Heather Parker had earned herself a permanent bodyguard. She had quickly learned to appreciate their well trained efficiency often covered by light ‑hearted banter, and to be truthful, was relieved that they were around. Because no one knew when or how the attack was going to happen everyone's nerves were finely stretched. Privately Colonel Parker was under pressure from her husband, head of a major recording company to resign, which she was not going to do, but it all added to the stress.
"Whose company do I have the pleasure of next shift?" she asked.
"Ochre and Magenta, I think. " Blue tried to stifle a yawn ‑ and failed miserably. "Sorry," he apologised. " I don't know how you do it".
"Practice," she laughed.
"You mean if this carries on, I’ll be as good as you?"
Symphony's snort of disgust in the background was distinctly audible.
At Cloudbase, Blue sank into a chair and groaned. Symphony and Rhapsody looked at him with some concern.
"Poor boy! Works so hard. It's astonishing how he manages to carry on."
"Shame! Somebody should take care of him. What would his mother say if she knew how overworked he was?"
They both shook their heads' deeply saddened at his reduced state. Then they bombarded him with anything within reach, cushions, magazines, empty plastic cups.
"Ow! Ow! Leave off! Pick on him, not me." Waving in Scarlet's direction, Blue attempted to fend off the missiles. Getting no response, Blue sounded puzzled. "Hey pal, what's up? Aren't you going to save a friend? Ouch! Hey Paul, wake up it's a lovely day."
"Perhaps he's suffering from a broken heart," suggested Symphony wickedly.
Rhapsody chuckled. "More likely he's short‑circuited from listening to too much 'Electric Love'."
Scarlet, newspaper in hand stormed out slamming the door.
"Well ladies, that was subtle!"
"He is supposed to be indestructible!", said Symphony. "Although he has been kinda quiet lately."
“Has she ditched him then?" queried Rhapsody ‑ hopefully.
"Maybe, I'll go and see what's up."
"What about this mess?" wailed Symphony.
"You made it, you clear it up." Blue gleefully escaped.
Blue eventually tracked down Scarlet in the gym ferociously working out.
"Seen Nikki lately?"
"Why not? You've got leave due."
"I've been too busy."
"Rubbish! What's going on ?" The equipment stopped with a bang.
"She's not answering my messages." Pause. “I guess she's too busy with the awards ceremony coming up ‑ or something. Maybe she's found somebody how can be around on a more regular basis, someone who doesn't have to lie to her. Hell!" The equipment started to bang again even faster. Blue left him to it.
Scarlet sat in the garden room. He always found it easier to think there. Surely he was way off base? But, so many buts. No answers to his messages, in the six months he had known her that had never happened before. Then, nothing in the papers, no pictures, no endless interviews, just when you expected to see her hyped up in the press, nothing. For five days, nothing, T.V., video reports, the papers, the radio, nothing. maybe she was ill? No. That would have been reported somewhere, and he had checked, and double checked everything. Was he being neurotic or did it fit? Queen of Rock, Royalty ‑ but how would Colonel Parker be involved? That didn't fit. This was crazy.
He looked out into the endless blue sky, nothing, absolutely nothing.
"Can I have four hours off, Sir?"
Colonel White looked surprised. "We are on alert."
"Is it that important?"
"When is your next duty?"
"Tomorrow evening, Sir."
"O.K. but be ready... “
"...For immediate recall, I understand Sir."
Watching him leave, Colonel White looked thoughtful.
"Lieutenant Green is there something wrong with Scarlet, something I should be aware of?"
"No Sir, I am not aware of anything."
At the stage door he waited. He could hear a rehearsal in progress.
ELECTRIC LOVE GLOWS BRIGHTEST,
WHEN THE DARKNESS COMES,
THE SPARKS OF LOVE,
FLY FROM MY HEART,
WHEN YOU ARE NEAR .....
The tall, dark, man caused passersby to glance at him, his pale face and strained appearance, unusual on a brilliantly sunny day.
Obviously waiting, although perfectly still, he conveyed a sense of menacing agitation. If the passersby had been aware of his gun, they would not have forgotten him so easily.
There was a bustle near the stage door and suddenly she appeared, as she drew near, the man staggered as though hit, beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead. The Jaguar raced off and he backed into the shadows of the alley, his gun hand impotent, unable to kill her, unable to believe she had affected him so strongly just by passing. Scarlet leaned his head on the cool bricks, until the dizziness, sometimes caused by a Mysteron presence had passed. It fitted. It fitted. What could, should he do. For once in his life Scarlet let his heart rule his head. He would wait. He still could not see how she and Colonel Parker fitted together. So keep his eyes and ears open, he could be wrong.
"What do you think?" No answer, which Blue reflected was not unusual these days.
"Yes. Great, looks O.K."
Blue studied the back of his friends head. Boy had he got it bad. Scarlet spent most of his time in front of the Newscaster which had replaced its human counterparts. The machine contained all the world's newspapers, plus video reports from journalists around the world, all regularly updated. He could find no connection between Nikki and Colonel Parker. He cross checked everything, guilty feelings over not telling anyone of his suspicions balanced in his mind by the hope he could still save her.
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
Later Scarlet wandered into the Amber room. Surprised to find only Rhapsody there, he paused. Rhapsody looked with concern at her colleague. "Paul you look awful. It might sound daft but are you ill‑ flu or something?" Scarlet winced, reminded again of Nikki, before, before....
"Paul! For goodness sake sit down, would you like a coffee or tea, something to eat maybe?"
"Tea would be great; thanks, where the hell is everybody?"
Rhapsody gave him a despairing look. "You honestly don't know? Haven't you heard them crowing about tonight?"
His intensely puzzled look was her answer.
"Adam, Pat, Karen and Chan, are all at the Academy awards as bodyguards to Colonel Parker. She and her husband go every year." She sighed. "Smug toads have been going on about it for ages.”
"Paul! Paul! Let go of my arm! Where are we going? I'm off duty. Let go you're hurting!"
"Yes Green, what is it?" Colonel White sighed. He had just settled down to watch the much vaunted Academy Awards to see what all the excitement was about.
"Scarlet and Rhapsody have just left Cloudbase."
“Five minutes ago, Sir."
“What are they playing at? Did you give them clearance?"
"No Sir. The first I knew was the monitors registering the flight."
"I'm on my way, put the Award ceremony on the main screen."
“SIG... I didn't know you were interested, Sir."
" I'm not; instinct tells me I should be. Try and get them on the radio."
"Er - it seems to have malfunctioned .... Sir."
"Damn the man. Right Green, now contact Blue and Magenta; tell them and the Angels to be very vigilant. If they see Scarlet, I want to know."
Magenta was puzzled. "Why would Scarlet be here? It doesn't make sense. What is Green on about?"
"Nikki is singing tonight," said Blue flatly. "She hasn't been in touch with Scarlet for some time, maybe he's going to try and see her."
"The Colonel knows about Nikki and Scarlet!"
"I don't know; even if the Colonel did know, why all the urgency? Just keep our eyes open I guess." Alarm bells were going off in Blue's head, but he couldn't make the connection, and why was the Colonel so worried?
"Sir, did you know?"
"About Scarlet and the singer? Yes of course. You cannot expect me to let my number one agent go off on secret assignations and not find out what it was all about."
"It's not against the rules sir."
"No, Lieutenant, but when a member of staff gets so involved, errors of judgement can be made. I need to be aware of that possibly happening.
"Sir, are you always aware of what we are doing?"
"Generally, yes. Right now Scarlet has me foxed."
Colonel Parker's husband wanted to leave now; she was staying put. While they hissed abuse at one another, their bodyguard looked half embarrassedly elsewhere.
"So you did know who he was seeing," muttered Symphony indignantly at Blue.
Harmony laughed. "No wonder he kept playing that song; I could never understand why somebody who should avoid electricity would want to listen to a song about it."
"Why break the rules to see her though? Why not get time off? This whole thing stinks."
"Maybe he isn't coming here. What makes the old man so sure?" puzzled Magenta.
"Instinct he says."
"Great! Ruin our evening's 'Stargazing' because of his instinct."
Scarlet was driving through the streets of Hollywood like a man possessed. His passenger was not impressed.
"Scarlet! Please remember… LOOK OUT! Look, buster I'm not indestructible and I'm not on duty! Just let me out o.k."
"I might need your help."
"Huh!" Rhapsody tossed her head indignantly. "Since when has the great Captain Scarlet needed a mere female's help?”
" Just shut up and let me concentrate. Anyway, where's your sense of adventure?"
"Back at base with my uniform." Rhapsody gave another squeak of horror and closed her eyes. "What the eyes don't see," she muttered, then groaned as the car swerved violently again.
"There's the guard, just distract him so that I can get in."
"I don't know. Use your feminine wiles."
"How about if I'm sick at his feet?" snapped Rhapsody.
"Whatever, just get going."
The audience clapped wildly, in appreciation that yet another 'Thank you to my Mum, Manager and friends' speech was over ‑ everyone settled back down. The compere of the evening smiled another plastic smile, and announced a musical interval, Academy nominee Nikki, 'Queen of Rock' was to sing her latest hit 'Electric Love'. There was an audible groan from the Spectrum contingent.
As the first sensual beat of what in all fairness was a lovely song flooded over the audience, Nikki stepped into the spotlight.
"Wow!" The Angels were impressed, she was beautiful.
"Yeh,” echoed Blue.
"Scarlet always was lucky," sighed Magenta, missing the venomous look from Harmony, who had overheard him.
Colonel White and Lieutenant Green watched their screen closely.
"No sign of him yet, Sir."
"What an amazing body!"
Scarlet stood alone in the darkness watching, everything he saw and heard was just an empty shell. He froze as Nikki fumbled in the pocket of her shimmering stage suit and started to raise her hand.
The gun was aimed at her head. Colonel Parker could not move. The audience were stunned into silence.
Symphony and Harmony grabbed Heather, Blue and Magenta started to run.
"NIKKI!" The deep male voice almost pleading, cut across the music. She turned and hesitated, as recognition flared, he fired, a blinding flash of electricity aimed straight at her heart.
"Queen of Rock, the royal hand, oh my God!" whispered Green. "It was her!"
"Get everyone to clean this up quickly, and I want Scarlet back here stat! And Lieutenant" ‑ almost gently ‑ "tell him I'll be in my private office."
Chaos, panic, and screams filled the air. Magenta reached Nikki first.
Both he and Blue looked at Scarlet. Rhapsody came up and touched his arm.
"Is she…? Was she…?”
"Yes. Yeah." In a daze, Scarlet dropped his gun and wiped his hands slowly down his uniform. Rhapsody pulled at him.
"C’mon, Blue can," ‑ she hesitated ‑ "sort this out, let's go."
Blue gave him a push. "Yeah, go on get out of here."
'ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR SPECTRUM' – The Star.
'THE QUEEN IS DEAD, LONG LIVE SPECTRUM' – The Sun.
'ACADEMY AWARDS DRAMA' – The Telegraph.
'ALIENS INVADE AWARDS' – The Sport.
The media loved it.
Under the blazing African sun, Scarlet read every page, watched every video news item as a kind of exorcism. Held read and watched, re‑read and re-watched and sat and remembered. Slowly the endless tape of the awards had ceased to run persistently in his head; other things began to take their place. He sighed, bundled up the papers and stuffed them in the bin.
The radio played the first notes of 'Electric Love'; the song was tipped to be the world's longest running number one of all time. Everyone felt sorry for the beautiful woman so cruelly used by the Mysterons, so tragically killed twice. No‑one thought about her killer. He switched the radio off.
Time to go back.
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