A "Lieutenant Lake" story
by Scarlet Lady
“Lieutenant Green,” Colonel White began, thoughtfully.
“Sir?” Green turned to face the Commander-in-Chief of Spectrum.
“I was meaning to ask… How is your planning going on?”
The Lieutenant was unsure of how to answer. “For Christmas, Sir?”
It was only a few weeks before Christmas, and most of the members of Spectrum aboard Cloudbase were looking forward to the holiday season, despite the constant clashes with the Mysterons.
The Colonel tried not to smile. “I take it that that means ‘no’, then.”
“Oh!” Green’s face lit up as he realised what his C-in-C was talking about. “Do you mean our wedding plans, Colonel?”
White nodded. “Have you and made any plans, yet?”
“No, Sir. We haven’t even told anyone, yet – apart from you, that is. We were hoping to tell everyone all together… well… as close to as possible, anyway.”
“Like… at a party, perhaps?” The Colonel suggested.
Green didn’t quite know how to answer. He wasn’t even aware of a party being planned.
“I think,” White explained, slowly, “that the Mysterons are tiring us all. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well. What we need is a rest.”
The Lieutenant slid his chair up to the Colonel’s desk. “Like a party, Sir?”
“A gathering,” White rephrased. “I know that a number of members will be spending time off base, so it might be a good idea to spend some time together before hand. We have rarely had much time to relax, lately.”
Green smiled. “That sounds like a good idea, Sir. At least then, those of us who are unable to leave the base will at least have time to enjoy the holiday.”
“I thought you’d like the idea,” the Colonel remarked. “Perhaps you and your fiancée would like to perform a few carols, as well?”
The Lieutenant’s smile became a huge grin. He was already anticipating Lake’s excited reaction.
“Of course, duties will still have to be attended to, Lieutenant,” White warned. “If you spend all your time playing with your guitar, you will then spend your time catching up on neglected reports while everyone else is enjoying themselves.” Even as he said it, he was quite sure that he needn’t have worried. Lieutenant Green was usually very responsible.
“I understand, Colonel,” Green replied.
“A party?” Lake practically squeaked with excitement. “Wonderful! That’s just what this place needs!”
Green had dragged her into his quarters so that the two could make plans in private. He wanted his fiancé to listen with a level head. “, the Colonel would like the two of us to help him arrange it.”
“Us?” She immediately calmed down.
Green nodded. “That’s ok, isn’t it?”
“Uh… yes, that’s fine. What do we have to do?”
“Well,” he began, slowly, “Colonel White is arranging the refreshments, and he’d like us to take charge of the entertainment – but no karaoke, because Captain Blue goes a bit too far.”
Lake chuckled. “Fair enough.”
“And nothing depressing, Ems. We want fun and laughter.”
“Oh, and here was I planning on purchasing the Funeral March specially,” she remarked, sarcastically.
Green laughed. “I’m just saying, . We want the best Christmas carols and songs that we can dig up.”
“And jazz ‘em up?”
“A few,” he agreed. “We’ll have to find some good albums, too – I can’t sing all night!”
“Quite right,” his fiancée nodded. “Is there anything else?”
“Yes. The Colonel wants to give us an opportunity to make an announcement, as well...”
“What? But we haven’t got anything planned!”
“But that isn’t a problem, is it? At least we can tell everyone that we’re engaged.”
She nodded. “Yes, you’re right.”
Green cuddled her. “I’m looking forward to this Christmas!”
“Me too,” she replied, happily. “It’ll be nice to forget the Mysterons for a while.”
As the days went by, Lieutenants Lake and Green found themselves to be constantly busy. They went through every song, tune and carol they could find, adding their preferred titles to their ever-lengthening list. They practiced playing whenever they had a spare moment, both as a duet and solo. Slowly, oh so slowly, they were getting everything sorted out.
“Lieutenant Lake,” Colonel White began, once the young officer had taken a seat in front of his circular desk, and he had made sure that Captain Magenta had gone to make the tea he had asked for. “I have another little task for you. How good are you at making things?”
“I suppose it would depend on what you were asking me to make, Sir,” she replied, slowly.
The Colonel nodded. “A sensible answer.”
“I know basics in general art and craft, as well as photography, Sir,” she ventured.
White leaned forward. “Can you sew, at all?”
The Lieutenant shook her head. “Only by hand, and that takes a long time.”
“Pity,” White mumbled.
Lake’s eyes widened as she remembered something. “But I was given an automatic sewing machine! All I need to do is program it, and it does itself.”
The Colonel smiled. “Good! In that case, Lieutenant, this is what I’d like you to do…”
As well as keeping Lieutenants Lake and Green on their toes, Colonel White was also keeping himself busy. It had been quite some time since the last surprise he had sprung on his members, and he was looking forward to the ‘gathering’. Captains Scarlet and Ochre had both approached him regarding parties, and he’d told them both that there was to be none this year, as the members were known to let things ‘get out of hand’.
Captain Scarlet complained angrily to Blue and Tourmaline.
“Well, I think it’s a cheek!” Tourmaline replied, after listening to his colleague. “We’ve worked hard for this organisation, and what d’we get in return?”
Blue thought carefully before saying anything. “Guys, maybe the Colonel’s got a good reason for his decision. He isn’t usually unreasonable…”
“Not unreasonable?!” Scarlet glared at him. “So you think that this is reasonable, do you, Adam?”
Blue opened his mouth to reply, but Tourmaline spoke first.
“The way he’s got us all chasing Mysterons with hardly a breather!”
“That’s not his fault,” Blue reasoned. “Maybe he’s concerned about our partying while we should be focusing on fighting terrorists.”
Scarlet snorted. “I’m concerned about everyone’s health – including his. We can’t carry on like this indefinitely – I doubt even I could cope!”
Blue nodded. “Paul, I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just trying to understand the Colonel’s point of view.”
“He’s a boring old dinosaur, want a better explanation?” Scarlet replied, sourly.
Blue shook his head. There had to be more to it than that. Colonel White was probably as much in need of a break as they were – more so, in fact – and it seemed strange that he didn’t want them to spend some time outside of the usual routine. It seemed very strange, indeed.
Later, Captain Tourmaline expressed his opinions to his sister, . She listened with obvious sympathy, but didn’t seem as concerned as he’d have expected. “Ems, you don’t seem to be taking this very seriously,” he remarked.
Lake shrugged. “Well, seeing as I’m only on light duties, due to health matters…”
“I can’t believe you!” the Captain was furious. “The Mysterons have changed you – you’ve become a selfish, heartless little…” Tourmaline stopped himself a little too late. He could see the pain in his sister’s expression and immediately regretted his words. “I’m sorry, … I just…”
“No,” she responded without meeting his gaze. “No, you’re right. It’s not fair that I should decide that this doesn’t concern me, just because I’m not affected personally. Leave it with me, Pete – I’ll ask to have a chat with the Colonel.”
Tourmaline didn’t know what to say for a moment. Finally, he cleared his throat. “You really think he would?”
“Well, Seymour’s been working hard lately, too,” she reasoned. “Anyway, the Colonel needs a rest as much as anyone else, and he knows all the best ways to win him over.”
Tourmaline hugged her. “Sorry about calling you selfish.”
The Lieutenant shrugged. “Already forgiven.”
When she and Green got together that evening, Lake informed her fiancé of the discussion she had had with Tourmaline, summing up the general unrest of the personnel of Cloudbase.
“What a mess,” Green remarked, tiredly.
Lake leaned her head on his shoulder. “Is the Colonel usually this fond of surprises?”
“Yeah – as long as he’s the one doing the surprising.”
“Oh, come on – that isn’t fair, is it?”
“Well, I guess it depends on what the surprise is…”
“The Colonel didn’t seem to mind our latest surprise,” she pointed out. “I’d have thought he’d have opposed our marriage plans, not give us some champagne!”
Green chuckled. “Like I said, the Colonel seems to enjoy surprising people.”
“Are you going to tell him?”
Green shook his head. “I expect Colonel White can guess what everybody’s thinking – I should think he’s hoping that it’ll make the surprise all the better.”
“Probably,” she replied, thoughtfully. “Well, I think we’ve got the music ready. What do we have to do, now?”
“Uh… Practice,” her fiancé replied, counting on his fingers. “Then we need to practice some more… oh! And then the Colonel has that other job for us…”
“Yeah – he wants us to get a little something for each member on Cloudbase – that is, all the senior staff… and Rose, of course.”
Rose was the daughter of Captain Scarlet and Rhapsody Angel. Due to special circumstances, she lived on Cloudbase with her parents.
Nodding, Lake fetched a notebook and pen.
“What are you doing, Ems?” Green asked, trying to read over her shoulder.
“I’m making a list of everyone, and leaving a space for the present – otherwise, we’re bound to leave someone out.”
He smiled at her. “Good plan.”
Lake laughed, suddenly.
“What’s funny?” her fiancé asked, puzzled.
“I feel just like ‘Santa’s little helper’!”
On the night before the party, Colonel White, with lots of help from Lieutenants Green and Lake, prepared for the following evening. White and Green stowed everything in a cupboard – as they wouldn’t be able to leave anything in the Officers’ Lounge overnight without it being discovered before they were ready – while Lake checked the presents and made some last-minute arrangements.
“I almost forgot,” the Colonel whispered to Lake. “Lieutenant, could you do one more job for me, tomorrow? It’s just an extra little thing for Rose…”
When he finally returned to his quarters, Colonel White booted up his personal computer, to check his e-mails. His eye fell on one from Spectrum Headquarters, London. Lake did mention how she missed Captain Sapphire, he thought. And I’m sure the good Captain would welcome a time away from business… A small smile spread across his face, and he began to type a new message.
The following evening, Captain Sapphire entered Spectrum Control. She came to attention before the desk of the Commander-in-Chief. “You wanted me to take a look at something, Sir?”
White nodded. “Reports from Lake and Captain Scarlet, regarding a mission they were sent on a few days ago.” He handed a file to her.
The Captain took the file. “Right, Sir. I’ll get straight on it.”
“Fine,” he asked Lieutenant Green to show her to a quiet room, where she could study the reports in peace.
“Right,” White mused, “now for the final step of ‘Operation Tinsel’!” He called his highest-ranking Officers to the Control Room, to give and Green time to set up their equipment for the music.
He was right in the middle of a speech when he received a call from Lake. He answered it with a grumpy tone. “I hope you have a good reason for this interruption, Lieutenant…”
“I’m very sorry, Sir,” she replied. “I just called to inform you that I have completed my report.”
“It’s about time too,” White growled back at her. “I was expecting that days ago.”
“I’m sorry, Sir,” she repeated.
White cleared his throat, disguising a chuckle. “Never mind, Lieutenant. Just kindly let me get on.”
Lake cut off.
Soon after, a procession of Spectrum members entered the Officers’ Lounge. Lieutenant Green asked everyone to take a seat. “Captain Scarlet, why don’t you get Rosie?” he asked.
“Yes, I think I will,” Scarlet agreed.
“Where’s Ems?” Captain Cerise asked Green.
He shrugged. “She went off to get changed.”
“She’ll be gone a while, then,” Blue remarked.
Tourmaline laughed. “Yeah – always takes ages getting dressed!”
“It’s a girl thing,” Captain Blue replied. He winced, as Symphony punched him in the arm.
“Hello, everyone!” Rose called, as she came in with her father.
Captain Scarlet gestured to Captain Sapphire, who had come in behind them. “I met this lady in the corridor, looking for Colonel White, so I asked her to join us – I hope nobody objects.”
Lieutenant Green was just replying that the more people were there the better, when Colonel White entered, dressed in a bright red suit that was trimmed with white fur – complete with matching hat – black boots (also trimmed with white fur), and a big, white beard. Slung over his shoulder, he carried a bulging sack.
Behind him came Lake dressed in a silky red dress – also trimmed with white fur – white tights, little red shoes, specially-made white fairy wings edged with red tinsel, and a crown of poinsettias and holly. She made a perfect Christmas Fairy.
“Here,” she handed her camera bag to her fiancé. “I thought you might want that – digital SLR camera, flash, batteries – the lot.”
Colonel White took a seat in the chair that Green had been occupying. “Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas, everyone.”
“Merry Christmas, Santa!” Rose replied.
Lake knelt beside ‘Santa’ and opened the sack full of presents. She handed the first one over.
“Brad,” Colonel White called.
Captain Grey stood and went to him. “Thankyou, Santa,” he said, shaking the Colonel’s hand. There was a flash, as Green took a photograph.
Lake handed the Colonel the next gift, as Grey returned to his seat.
“Charles,” he called. He looked around. “Charles Gray?”
Captain Aquamarine stood up. “I think the Colonel’s busy, Father Christmas,” she said. “I’ll look after it for him, if that’s alright.”
“Thankyou, my dear,” The Colonel handed his package to her.
And so it went on, until everyone had a gift each, and the sack was empty.
“Well, I’d better be going, now,” Colonel White said, standing up. “I’ve got a lot to do, before Christmas Eve.”
Rose stood up and ran to him, giving him the biggest cuddle she could. “Bye, Santa. Come again.”
White smiled and scooped the small child up in his arms. “I will, Rosie – I’ll be sure to visit you on Christmas Eve.”
Rhapsody gave him a tearful smile, as he handed back her daughter. “Thankyou.”
“Goodbye, Diane. Merry Christmas, everyone.”
“Merry Christmas!” Came the happy reply.
Colonel White entered a little while later. He was now dressed in a suit, with a tie embroidered with holly leaves. “I’m sorry I took so long, I just had to…” he stopped, looking around at everyone. “Where did you get those presents from?”
“You just missed Father Christmas, Colonel,” Lieutenant Lake informed him, beaming.
“Father Christmas? But it’s only the 15th of December!”
Captain Aquamarine went to him, carrying his parcel. “Well, he was here, Sir. As a matter of fact, he left you a gift, too – merry Christmas, Colonel White.”
White opened his gift, eagerly. Looking up, he grinned. “You can open your gifts, too – one before Christmas won’t hurt. Anyway, I can see that Rose is eager to see what Father Christmas brought her.”
Lake opened her package to find a new camera strap, to replace the old, worn one. Eagerly, she put it to use.
Lieutenant Green went to her. “Are we going to make a start?” he asked, gesturing toward their guitars.
“On one condition,” she picked up a bag and handed it to him. “You have to get out of that uniform, first.”
He looked down at the bag doubtfully. “What’s in there?”
“An outfit to match mine – but less girlie.”
“No way, !” Green shook his head.
Lake looked hurt. “For the children, Seymour?”
Green looked across at Rose, who was playing with the new toy plane that Father Christmas had given her. “Fine – anything for a quiet life.”
She kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Seymour.”
Colonel White called the two musicians to one side, before they began to play. “Just to let you know – I’m setting up the food in fifteen minutes, but I’ll put some aside for you both so you don’t miss out.”
“Thanks, Sir,” Green smiled at him.
The two got up on the stage that they had made, and made one final check of their equipment.
“Gonna say something, or just hit it?” Green asked his fiancée.
Lake cleared her throat and tapped the mic. “Good evening, everyone,” she began.
“Colonel White wanted some high-class performers, tonight…”
A cheer arose from the assembled party.
“But I’m afraid that you’ll just have to make do with me and Seymour.”
Lieutenant Green gave her a quick poke in the ribs. “Thanks, Ems.”
“We’re going to start with a few semi-traditional Christmas carols…”
“Semi-traditional?” Captain Blue turned to Scarlet with a puzzled expression. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The meaning soon became clear, however, when Lake and Green launched into their own version of “The Holly And The Ivy” – the words were the same, but the style was much more modern.
Colonel White set a jug of cola on one of the tables he was setting up and straightened up to stare at the couple on the stage. He smiled to himself. I wonder how they found the time to do that.
After another few carols, Lieutenant Green was given the nod from his C-in-C. “Attention everybody. The buffet has just opened.”
Captain Scarlet and Colonel White came to the foot of the stage as the Lieutenants finished the last of many carols. Scarlet handed them a drink each. “Did you write that music yourself?”
Green smiled shyly. “It was Ems’ idea, Sir. She wanted to play a selection of traditional carols, but wanted it to suit the party mood better. We took the ones we liked best, and ‘jazzed up’ the music a little.”
“Well, you certainly did well,” White remarked. “What do you have planned for the rest of the evening?”
“A few surprises, Colonel,” Lake told him, a small smile lighting up in her eyes.
The Colonel felt a little nervous when he saw that smile. “No mischief, I hope, Lieutenant?”
“Oh no, Sir!” her smile broadened. “I certainly wouldn’t like this party to be the last we ever have.”
Green was grinning, too. “Let’s go get something to eat!”
Lake nodded her agreement and dug their own compilation of Christmas songs from her camera bag. She turned the CD player on, inserted the disc and started the music up. She then slipped the remote control into her handbag, before joining Green beside one of the beautifully decorated buffet tables.
“Here, Ems,” Captain Tourmaline handed her a plate. Leaning towards her ear, he said. “The chairs are set up for you – just as you asked.”
She smiled. “Thanks, Pete.”
Colonel White offered her a plate of mince pies. “Anything else I can get you, my dear fairy?” he asked, a bright smile on his face.
“Oh, no thankyou, Sir – I’m fine.” Lake smiled, shyly. She wasn’t at all used to the Colonel asking what he could do for her!
When everyone had eaten enough for a moment, Lieutenant Green suggested that they all go back to the main section of the lounge. Once there, the Spectrum members found a ring of chairs.
“What’s all this, you two?” Cerise asked the Lieutenants. “Musical chairs?”
“I hope you don’t intend to include me in this…” Colonel White began.
Lake smiled at him. “Aww, come on, Colonel – after all, it is Christmas.”
Green gave her a quick glance, silently asking her not to go too far. He needn’t have worried.
“Yes, well…” White smiled back at the young woman. “I suppose it does make a nice change… to be given the chance to be a child again…”
Once everyone had taken a seat, Lieutenant Green handed Captain Cerise a big, colourful package. “Actually, we’re playing ‘pass the parcel’, Captain,” he told her, in answer to her earlier question.
Scarlet turned to him. “I hope there are no forfeits…”
Green shrugged. “I’ve no idea, Sir – Ems took care of it.”
“Lieutenant?” White turned to her, suspiciously.
“I’m sorry, Colonel,” she replied. “I’m still a little deaf after the explosion I was caught up in, a few days ago. Ask me later.”
White scowled at her. “Remind me to have a quiet word with her later, would you?” he muttered to Scarlet.
The latter shrugged. He hoped that the Colonel would soon forget his annoyance once the game was in full swing.
As the music stopped, Captain Aquamarine tore off the wrapping paper, to find a bag of sweets. “Great – chocolate!”
Lake grinned, and started the music up again. This time, it stopped when Scarlet was holding it. Hesitantly, the Captain removed the paper. A second packet of sweets tumbled onto his lap. Perhaps there aren’t any forfeits, after all, he thought. It was then that he noticed a neatly folded piece of paper, stuck to the wrapping on the parcel underneath. Blast! He unfolded it carefully, with a feeling of dread. On the paper, decorated with a simple but pretty enough holly-leaf illustration, was his challenge. Scarlet cast the innocent-looking Lieutenant a murderous glare. He then stood up and said: “I really LOVE Agent Conners,” he paused, before adding: “Like toothache.”
The music started again. The next two people to remove a layer of paper from the parcel were lucky enough to not find a note. Then it landed on Colonel White. Lake held her breath, hoping that she hadn't put a message inside of that layer. She was unlucky. The Colonel unfolded his piece of paper and read the inscription. He laughed and stood up. He then began to flap his arms and cluck like a chicken, much to the amusement of the Spectrum members around him. The Lieutenant smiled with relief. At least it wasn’t one of the really awful ones, she thought, before starting the music up again.
When the music stopped this time, Captain Cerise was holding it. She cast her partner a brief glance, silently warning her that there had better not be any unwelcome surprises inside. Tearing the wrapping away, she found a packet of sweets, with a strip of paper folded around it. Oh no! Carefully, she unfolded the paper to read it. She then turned to Captain Ochre and made the ugliest face she could manage.
“Hey! What was that for?” Ochre asked, sounding hurt.
Cerise showed him the sheet of paper. “It said to pull a silly face at someone of my choice – and I chose you, Rick.”
“Oh, lucky me,” Ochre grumbled.
The next few layers didn’t hold a message, meaning that Grey, Magenta and Rose got sweets without a challenge. Rose was the only one who seemed a little disappointed by this.
“Never mind, Rosie,” Rhapsody whispered to her. “If you don’t get a silly message, you can have mine.”
The music began again. Lake was aiming to land the parcel on Rose a second time, feeling sure that this next one should definitely hold a forfeit. She was right. The small child unfolded the piece of paper and handed it to her mother, to read Lake’s scribbled, joined-up handwriting. Rhapsody then leaned close to her daughter’s ear, to read the message to her. Rose’s eyes lit up. She jumped to her feet, licked her hand and slipped it under her arm, inside her jumper. She flapped her arm, emitting a very rude noise.
“Rosie!” Scarlet glared at her.
Rose smiled innocently and handed over the note. “Says on here, Daddy.” “And who showed you how to do that?” Scarlet asked, glaring at the unfortunate Lieutenant Lake.
Rose pointed to Captain Ochre. “Uncle Rick!”
“Yeah, yeah, blame me,” Ochre grumbled. “Always my fault, isn’t it?”
Lake started the music up again, to distract them before they could start again. This time, the parcel landed in Symphony’s hands. She tore at the wrapping to find a message tied to her chocolates. Gingerly, she removed the paper to read it. “Thanks, Lieutenant,” she muttered. She rolled her eyes, and made her right hand crawl up her left arm.
“Incy Wincy Spider, Karen?” Captain Scarlet asked, raising an eyebrow. “You try miming a spider, Metcalfe!” Symphony returned.
Scarlet chuckled. “What was the forfeit?”
The Angel handed over the note. “To mime my least favourite animal – what’s yours?”
“I don’t need to tell you – it’s not my forfeit. I just had to claim that I loved Agent Conners.”
“Which you didn’t do properly,” Blue pointed out.
Scarlet grinned and raised an eyebrow at him. “That wasn’t my fault. You can’t blame me for the way Lake worded the message. She said ‘tell everyone how you really love Agent Conners’ – but that can be interpreted in two different ways. It can mean ‘tell everyone that you love Agent Conners’, or ‘tell everyone how you feel about Agent Conners really’!”
Lieutenant Lake rolled her eyes. Trust Scarlet to be clever, she thought, with annoyance. She pressed the CD player’s pause button again. After watching the package go round a couple of times, she stopped the music again. Captains Sapphire and Cerise were holding the parcel between them.
“I’ve already had my turn, Chris,” Cerise said, handing the parcel over. “It must be your turn.”
Sapphire took the package doubtfully. “Thanks very much, Sue.” She tore at the wrapping, to find yet another slip of paper with a packet of sweets. She unfolded it and read the message… then closed her eyes. “Ems, when I get hold of you…”
“Is nobody enjoying this?” Lake asked, in a perfectly innocent tone.
Colonel White surprised everyone by coming to her rescue. “It’s all in good fun, is it not? I didn’t mind behaving like a chicken, after all.”
Sighing, Captain Sapphire stood up. “You’re right of course, Colonel…” she cleared her throat, and sang the chorus of ‘Jingle Bells’ in the deepest voice she could manage.
“What was all that?” Captain Tourmaline asked her.
“That was part of a Christmas song – in ‘the voice of the Mysterons’. Can I go and die quietly, now?”
Lake cast her a compassionate look. “Sorry, Chris.”
“You will be, Lieutenant – I’m going to make you sing a whole Christmas song in that voice!” Sapphire declared.
“Ooh, spooky!” Tourmaline chuckled.
The next person to get a forfeit was Captain Ochre. He stood up, clearing his throat. “She… sells… sea… shells… on… the… sea… shore… The… shells… that… she…sells… are… sea… shells… I’m… sure,” getting faster, he began again. “She sells seashells on the sea shore. The sells that she shells are seashells I’m sure,” but it was when he tried saying it the third time that he came unstuck. “She shells sea sells on the sea shore. The shells that she shells are seasells I’m sore.”
Colonel White chuckled. “That was a good effort, Captain,” he remarked.
“Yeah,” Cerise agreed. “Well done, Rick.”
The music began again. “We’re coming towards the end, now,” Lake announced.
“About time,” Scarlet remarked, under his breath.
The package stopped in Rhapsody’s hands. She tore open the wrapping to find a teddy bear, a bag of chocolates and a slip of paper inside. “Rosie, want to do my forfeit?”
Rose shook her head, but gave the teddy a cuddle.
“Rose has had a go,” Lieutenant Green pointed out. “Now it’s your go, Rhapsody.”
Sighing, the Angel unfolded the paper. A small smile spread across her lips. “Oh, this is a nice one – and a good one to finish with…” she looked up, her smile growing to become a huge grin. “My favourite thing about Christmas… is sharing good times with friends and family.”
“Hear, hear!” Captain Scarlet agreed, smiling fondly at his wife.
Lake stood up. “And on that note…”
Captain Sapphire quickly caught her by the arm. “More singing, Ems?”
The Lieutenant swallowed hard. She knew that tone of voice only too well.
“I think you can do a nice Christmas solo, don’t you?”
“Alright then, Chris,” she replied. “In ‘That Voice’?”
Sapphire nodded, folding her arms. “Seeing as YOU didn’t get any forfeits…”
Lieutenant Green scrambled onto the stage beside his fiancé. “You sure you wanna do this?” he asked, as he slid his guitar strap over his head.
Lake nodded, as she adjusted her own guitar strap. “After all, nobody backed down from their forfeits – and I did give them some awful ones… ”
The young woman beside him was busy getting ready, however. She then began to sing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ in the deepest voice she could manage without hurting her throat too much – it sounded very strange indeed.
When the Lieutenant had finished her forfeit song she cleared her throat, trying to ignore the awful urge she felt to cough. “Before…” she coughed into her hand, turning away from the mic as she did so. “Ugh… before we continue… Seymour and I have a small announcement to make…”
Lieutenant Green smiled, and took over. “Ems and I are going to be married,” he announced, smiling happily. “We don’t have a day planned, yet, but we want to start thinking about it seriously in the new year.”
There was a brief silence as everyone digested the news.
Captain Cerise spoke first. “That’s… that’s great!”
“Yeah, I wondered whether there was something going on between you, but I never would’ve guessed it was that serious,” Tourmaline said.
Colonel White brought out a bottle of champagne. “Ladies and gentlemen, I believe congratulations are in order – and a toast.”
Lieutenants Lake and Green jumped down from the stage, so that they could drink well away from the electrical equipment.
“To a very special couple,” White toasted, raising his glass.
“Lake and Green,” chorused the others.
After that, a number of Spectrum members went to congratulate the newly-engaged couple. Among them were Symphony and Rhapsody Angels, who had to go to report for duty in the Amber Room.
“Glad you could join us for a while,” Lieutenant Green said, smiling.
“It’s been fun,” Symphony said, smiling too.
Lake looked away, shyly. “Despite being forced to play pass the parcel?”
Rhapsody laughed. “Actually, it was a lot of fun.”
“Yeah!” Symphony’s smile became a huge grin. “I’ll be sure to tell Destiny and Melody to come join in.”
“What are we doing now?” Green enquired, after they had said goodbye to the departing guests, and welcomed the two Angels who came to join the party after leaving their shifts.
The young woman smiled up at him. “D’you think everyone will object to playing another game?”
“Alright, Lieutenant,” Colonel White said, wearily, as he took a seat in the ring of chairs again. “What do you have planned for us, this time?”
“Has anyone ever played ‘The Story Game’ before?” Lake asked, as she passed a piece of paper, a pen and a hard-back book to each person sitting down.
“I take it you mean ‘Consequences’, Lieutenant,” Scarlet noted. “I used to play it with my family, from time to time, I think. It’s like ‘The Drawing Game’, isn’t it?”
The young woman nodded. “See, you start your story on the paper you’re given, then you agree on a word to end with, like… ‘and’… or… ‘when’… and then pass to the person on your right.”
“Right…” Blue frowned. “But what do you write? I mean…”
“Anything you like – it doesn’t matter,” Scarlet told him. “The outcome is a mixed up story, anyway.”
Lake nodded. “For example, you could say something like… ‘I was flying my kite in a park when’… ‘the string snapped and it got caught in a tree so’… and so on. But what you’ll get is… ‘I was flying my kite in a park when’… ‘my computer crashed so’…”
“Well, it certainly sounds different,” Colonel White remarked.
She gave another nod, chuckling. “I think I’ll join in with this one – you don’t exactly need music for it.”
“Just because there are no forfeits,” Captain Ochre teased.
“I had a forfeit of my own, if you recall,” the Lieutenant replied, folding her arms.
“Are we going to play this game or not?” Scarlet interrupted.
“Ok,” Lake grinned at him. “But Rose might want to team up with someone… actually, it would save paper if we work in teams of two or three, anyway.”
Ochre scooped the small child up in his arms. “You can team up with me, if you like, squirt – I’m sure we can come up with something together!”
The game went on for a time, and then it came to reading the outcomes. Each team had to read one ‘story’.
Colonel White was trying not to laugh out loud. “I was sitting on the Promenade Deck when… an ugly little goblin jumped out at me and… he tripped over the rug…” he cleared his throat. “So… I made my way to the Control Room as quickly as possible and… I met a mob of gangsters… who said ‘Those wires were tasty – are there any more?’ I said ‘Just a quick one, then.’… Then… then hit him over the head… so I set fire to his paper plane… the moral of the story is… ‘talking to walls is the second sign of madness’!”
Captain Grey turned to Tourmaline. “You read it, Pete.”
Tourmaline unfolded his scrap of paper. “I was enjoying a quiet break in the lounge when… Captain Black ran into the room, guns blazing and… the red alert siren began to wail… so I had to get out and walk. … I met a cheeky little mouse… who said… ‘Do you want a drink?’ I said ‘Anesthetic.’… then he disappeared… so I went back to my book. The moral of the story is… ‘pride comes before a fall’!” He was laughing aloud, by this point, and it was almost impossible for his fellow officers to understand a word he was saying. As a result, he had to try again.
Once Captain Tourmaline had managed to read it through in a manner that was a little easier to follow, it was the turn of Lake and Green. As Lake’s throat was still a little sore, her fiancé decided to do it. “I was polishing my gun, when… the base shook beneath my feet and… all the wheels fell off… I got down on my hands and knees and peered into the darkness under the bed. I met… the bar – or at least my head did. Captain Ruddy stared down at me and said… ‘What on Earth is that massive great mallet for?’ I said… ‘That’s what YOU think!’ then… the hateful creature ran away laughing… So Colonel White gave him a stern reprimand. The moral of the story is – ‘cruelty will get you nowhere’!”
Captain Cerise was nominated to read the story that she and Melody had ended up with. “We had just successfully completed another fight against the Mysterons, and I was about to take a much-needed rest in the Room of Sleep, when… the car lost control and… I heard a strange noise coming from under the bed so… I brushed myself off and stood up. Then I met… Colonel White, on his way in for a check-up, who said… ‘We will be avenged!’ so I said… ‘Get the devil off me!’ then… he hit me for being a smart Alec So…” she began to laugh uncontrollably. “Sorry… so… so he dropped his gun, giving me the perfect opportunity to blast his head off. The moral of the story is… ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’!”
Captain Sapphire turned to Fawn. “Would you do the honours, Doctor?”
“Oh no,” Fawn shook his head. “I thought we agreed – I’m the brains, you’re the hired help for the day.”
The Captain rolled her eyes and cleared her throat. “Captain Scarlet was driving me to Spectrum Headquarters, when… the strings broke and… I fell to the floor so… I hit him with a mallet, to sedate him. I met… Captain Black who said… ‘Are you alright?’ I said… ‘You just missed him.’ then… Panther bit him in the hand so… I moved my butt out of there. The moral of the story is ‘he who lives like a pest, dies like a pest’!”
“Poor Panther,” Scarlet remarked.
Captain Scarlet shoved the piece of paper he was holding into his partner’s unsuspecting hands. “Be my guest, Adam.”
“Aww, come on, Paul,” Blue protested. “Give me a break – I did half the thinking, all the writing…”
“If you do all the talking as well, I’ll find you a beer,” Scarlet offered.
“Deal! I’ll have an ice-cold bud,” the American replied, grinning. Before his partner could say another word, he began to read. “I was playing my guitar in my quarters when… the chain broke and…” The Captain was already trying not to laugh. “He started to swear at me so… I turned around to find out who threw it and… I met a wall – head on – which said… ‘Have you seen Captain Black?’ I said… ‘I should report you to the RSPCA!’ then…” he began to laugh out loud. “They tried to blast me to bits so… I was forced to put down poison. The moral of the story is ‘there’s always time for one more’.”
Captain Ochre unfolded his team’s sheet of paper. “I’ll read it, ok, Rosie? You know what Lieutenant Lake’s handwriting is like…” he grinned and began to read. “I was in the Scarlet Knight, swinging from the chandelier when… I dropped a pair of forceps into the cavity and… something hit me on the back of the head so… I ran from the room, hoping to meet someone who could help get him off me. I met… Captain Scarlet who said… ‘Surrender, Earthman, or the cat gets it!’”
“I said no such thing!” Captain Scarlet exploded, much to the amusement of everyone else.
“Tell it to the judge!” Ochre replied, grinning. “Anyway, where was I?” he paused for a moment, lips moving as he read, before continuing. “‘Surrender, Earthman, or the cat gets it!’ I said… ‘I’m a Spectrum Officer, and you’re under arrest!’ Then… he ran into my wardrobe and nibbled my uniforms so… I had to go, before someone noticed that I’d left the brake off. The moral of the story is ‘do not disturb’.”
Ochre began to shake with silent laughter, before straightening up and staring across at Scarlet. “I think we should watch him real careful, Colonel,” he remarked. “Not only does he threaten innocent little cats, but he also nibbles uniforms! The man’s a menace!” he began to laugh uncontrollably.
“Leave my daddy alone, Uncle Rick!” Rose’s little voice declared.
Scarlet began to laugh, too. “It’s alright, Rosie – he’s only joking. Well, that’s it, isn’t it?” he turned to Lake. “It was a good game, Lieutenant – I certainly enjoyed it.”
“Not quite,” Destiny Angel called. “Captain Magenta and I haven’t had our turn, yet.”
“That’s right,” Magenta confirmed. He turned to Destiny. “D’you want to read it, or shall I?”
“I would prefer you to read it, Captain,” the Angel replied, smiling.
The Irish Captain smiled and unfolded the story. “I was in the Sickbay, removing yet another bullet from Captain Scarlet when… I heard a strange noise and… scratched at my face so… he disappeared out of embarrassment.”
“Why does everyone pick on me?” Scarlet muttered.
“I met… a Mysteron agent, who seemed to have taken Panther as a hostage who said… ‘Your money or your life!’ I said… ‘Get out of my room this instant!’ Then… an SPV came through the door so… that I could continue my work in peace. The moral of the story is ‘he who laughs last… didn’t get the joke’.”
Amid the roars of laughter, Colonel White stood up. “That was… certainly very… different,” he remarked, carefully. “Not the sort of games I would have expected, but it was most definitely a welcome change.”
“It’s nice to be able to be daft, for once,” Scarlet added.
“Well done Green and Lake,” White continued. “Do you have anything else in store?”
Lake turned to her fiancé, uncertainly. “Do we, Seymour?”
Lieutenant Green shook his head. “No, Colonel. We were going to do some more songs, but I think Ems is losing her voice…”
“Pity,” Scarlet remarked. “I enjoyed the ones you did, earlier.”
“Yes,” White agreed.
Green took a selection of discs from his pocket. “But we’ve made a compilation of our preferred Christmas party music. I’ll just put some on.”
Lake’s eyes lit up as she remembered something. She poured herself a pint of cola, and drank a large quantity of it. “Seymour, what about that duet we were practicing?”
“Well… I don’t know, ,” he replied, slowly. “Is your voice up to it?”
Lake nodded, taking another sip of her drink. “Should be – fizzy things usually help.”
Colonel White found a beaker and filled it with water, before fixing the lid back in place. He then attached it to the Lieutenant’s microphone stand. “In case you need it,” he told her, smiling.
“Thanks,” she replied gratefully.
The couple took their positions on the stage for the last time that evening. Lieutenant Green cleared his throat. “Before we start, I just want to acknowledge the fact that neither Ems… or me… we didn’t compose this song ourselves, and we don’t hold the copyright. This was written by Justin Hayward.”
“Just get on with it!” Scarlet urged.
Green cast Lake a quick, concerned glance. Receiving a reassuring smile and nod; he began with her adding bass.
In her West Country accented voice, Lake began to sing.
“Do you remember long ago,
And how we loved when we were children,
Let’s be like children,
This Christmas time.”
Green took a breath and sang the next verse.
“And if you say that you’ll be mine,
Then all the stars will shine around us
Love will surround us,
This Christmas time.”
They sang the chorus together.
“I don’t need a reindeer; I don’t need the snow,
Tell me you love me and I’m ready to go,
Out of the darkness and into the light,
This is the Christmas where we make it alright.”
Lake went straight into the next verse.
“I hear you talking in my dreams,
Of nights of love and days of wonder.
I still remember
Each Christmas time.”
Green took his turn, allowing his fiancée time to sip at her drink.
“So if you see me on the street
No need to ask me what would please me
It’s your love, believe me
This Christmas time.”
The two repeated the chorus again, smiling fondly at each other.
As Lake and Green turned to leave the stage, Colonel White jumped up beside them, taking Green’s mic. “I think we can all agree that that was a perfect end to the evening,” he remarked. “But before you go, I’d just like to make one final announcement. Now, I know that a number of us won’t be here for Christmas, but there are three birthdays at this time of year that I don’t think we should forget. Two days from now, on the seventeenth of December, Captain Scarlet will be celebrating his birthday…”
The Captain turned his eyes to the floor with embarrassment.
“Not long after that, on the twenty-third of December, is Lieutenant Lake’s birthday,” the Colonel continued. “And then, shortly after that on the sixth of January, is Symphony Angel’s birthday. I’m sure we’re not all going to be here to celebrate all of them together on the day, so I think we should wish them many happy returns now.”
With that, White – along with the two Lieutenants – left the stage to rejoin the rest of the assembled party.
There was a rather raucous chorus of ‘The Birthday Song’, closely followed by further refreshments.
Eventually, the night drew to a close. Captain Scarlet picked his sleepy daughter up in his arms and turned to the three people packing up. “Leave that for tonight, Colonel,” he whispered. “I’ll give the Lieutenants a hand, tomorrow morning.”
“Thankyou, Captain,” White responded, picking up a tray of food. “But some of this won’t keep 'til morning if it’s left out.”
Lake was winding up the trailing cables from the various music systems. “Night, Captain,” she whispered.
“Good night, Lieutenant,” Scarlet replied. “It was a good evening, I thought.”
“Very good,” the Colonel agreed. “I think Lake and Green should have become entertainers.”
Green laughed. “Oh no, Sir – I wouldn’t pass this job up for anything… but it is nice to have a change, once in a while.”
White smiled. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“Good night, Colonel,” Scarlet whispered, leaving with Rose. “See you in the morning, Lieutenants – and leave that equipment for now and go to bed.”
“That sounds like an order to me,” White remarked, leaving the room behind Scarlet, with the remainder of the food. “Good night, you two.”
“You heard them, Ems,” Green finished stowing the amplifier and speakers out of harm’s way, and straightened up with a tired sigh. “Come on, I’ll walk you to your quarters, to make sure you don’t collapse on the way – you look really tired.”
She yawned. “So do you, – it has been a long night.”
The Trinidadian Lieutenant took his fiancée by the arm and guided her from the room. “Yeah, it has – but it’s been great! I hope we do this again, next year!”
Note from author: I hope you’ve
enjoyed this story. I thought this would be a good sequel to ‘Love, Life, and
Duty’ – besides, as Lake said: “It’s nice to forget the Mysterons, for a
I got some of the ideas from games I’ve played myself. ‘Pass the
parcel’ seems to be very popular for all ages – and forfeits make it a little
more interesting (hehe!) as Lake used to be a teacher, I could easily imagine
her coming up with this game as part of the entertainment. ‘Consequences’ was
written in pretty much the same way as was described – I wrote a number of short
stories, and mixed them up to get the outcome-stories. I came up with the
outcomes randomly, so please don’t blame me!
Merry Christmas everyone!
I got some of the ideas from games I’ve played myself. ‘Pass the parcel’ seems to be very popular for all ages – and forfeits make it a little more interesting (hehe!) as Lake used to be a teacher, I could easily imagine her coming up with this game as part of the entertainment. ‘Consequences’ was written in pretty much the same way as was described – I wrote a number of short stories, and mixed them up to get the outcome-stories. I came up with the outcomes randomly, so please don’t blame me!
Merry Christmas everyone!