A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons short story

Written by Scarlet Lady

 

Part One - Discovery

 

 

“Adam, what’s that?” Captain Scarlet tried to peer at something he’d caught sight of in a dry ditch beside the road.

“I don’t know – I’m sat on the wrong side of the road.  Paul, look where you’re going!” The car swerved, just avoiding a collision with an oncoming car.  Blue closed his eyes.  “Paul, I swear… I must be crazy, allowing you to drive!”

Scarlet brought the SPC that he had been driving to an abrupt halt.  “And I must be mad to put up with your moaning.  Come on – I thought I saw a body in the ditch…” With that, he leapt out.

“Where, Captain?” Blue groaned, knowing full well that he was talking to himself.  He followed his partner.

When Blue caught up with his partner, he was kneeling beside a rather frail-looking young woman.  He looked up at Blue.  “She’s alive – if barely.  Call for an ambulance, we…” he trailed off, as a very faint wave of nausea hit him.

“Are you alright, Captain?” Blue was watching him carefully.  “What’s wrong?”

“I… The Mysterons! I can… just about feel them…” he frowned, trying to work out where the feeling might be coming from, and why it was so weak.

“What is it? Are they far away?” Blue frowned, as confused as his colleague.

Scarlet looked down at the young woman.  “I THINK I might be detecting her…” he saw Blue put his hand on the pistol hanging at his side and stopped him.  “Look, I can’t be certain – and she DOES look in dire need of help.”

“Yes, you’re right Captain,” Blue agreed.  “What should we do, though? We can’t send a Mysteron into a hospital!”

“I’ll make her comfortable.  Call Cloudbase, and request a medical helicopter.”

 

***

 

Doctor Fawn began to run tests on the young woman pretty much as soon as he’d received her.  Colonel White was curious to learn about her, but waited for Fawn.  At last, he came to Spectrum Control, to give an update.

“What can you tell us, Doctor?”

“Well, Colonel, she was obviously mysteronised at some point, but whether she’ll ever recover her retrometabolism is another matter – you see, she has been electrocuted.  As a matter of fact, she’s lucky to be alive!”

The Colonel frowned, thoughtfully.  “A strong Mysteron, then… Is she still under their control?”

“That’s hard to judge, Sir.  However, Captain Tourmaline may be able to shed some further light on her, once she’s awake… That is, provided she recovers sufficiently.”

There were more ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ to that than the Colonel would have liked, but there wasn’t much that could be done.  “You said that Captain Tourmaline might be of help, Doctor?”

“Yes.  Captain Scarlet found this in one of her pockets…” he handed White a red purse.  “It has a few cards in it – a college pass, library card…”

The Colonel pulled out the college pass and studied it.  Beside a photograph of the young woman, was a name.  “Emily Stanton?”

“Yes, Sir.  I thought perhaps she was a relation of Tourmaline,” he shrugged.  “It’s a start, anyway.”

The Colonel stared at Fawn, thoughtfully.  “Yes… I thought I recognised that girl from somewhere.  We met briefly when Tourmaline first joined Spectrum.  She’s his sister, if I remember correctly.  She used to be a photographer… then of course she must have been ‘recruited’ by the Mysterons… It’s strange that her mysteronisation didn’t come to light until today…” he frowned.  “The problem is, I very much doubt that Tourmaline would want to question a mysteronised sibling, Doctor – I certainly wouldn’t, in his position.”

Fawn nodded.  “I’ll say nothing until I have reason to do otherwise, Colonel.”

White agreed.

 

***

 

Ems, where are you?”

“Uh… just coming, Lil.  Won’t be long – promise.”  This wasn’t entirely true.  Emily Stanton was in fact trying to force one of her college’s less-than-adequate lifts to work for her.  All had been fine to start with, but the lift had come to a jerky stop at the forth floor.  The lecturer pressed the alarm bell impatiently.  The lift jerked slightly, so she checked that the ground floor button was still highlighted.  Finally, the lift moved.  “About time, too!” Perhaps she wouldn’t have been so quick to say that had she known that she was about to return to the top floor.  “OI! We’ve just come from there!” She thumped the basement floor button, losing the remainder of her patience and temper.  The lift bounced, knocking her feet from under her.  Her portfolio fell onto her stomach.  Emily pulled herself back up, shakily, and nudged the large folder to one side with her foot.  She could still feel the floor bouncing beneath her.  She was beginning to regret her deciding against taking the stairs – she knew how useless the lifts could be.  Suddenly, she felt herself begin to go down.  “Thankyou! Thankyou!” She caught her breath.  Something was very wrong! The lift was moving too fast – much too fast – and was still picking up speed! She closed her eyes tightly.  “Lord… please help me!”

 

She opened her eyes, weakly.  “My… my ‘ead… what ‘appened…?” Her eyes were swimming in and out of focus, and her face was feeling numb.  Just as her senses packed up altogether, she glimpsed a man dressed all in black.  The cold expression on his face was far from reassuring, but she was completely helpless.

 

Doctor Fawn rushed to the agitated young woman.  He tried to reassure her, but she wouldn’t stop crying.  “Emily, it’s ok.  You’re in safe hands.”

She stared back at him through glassy, terrified eyes.  Slowly, she began to bring her breathing under control.

“That’s right.  Calm yourself – you’re safe now.”

She brushed tears from her eyes with the back of her hands and sniffed.  “They… got me out, then… thought I was a goner…”

The Doctor wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about, but played along.  “Yes, you’re going to be ok.”

Lying back with a weary sigh, she mumbled.  “Does Lily know? She was waiting on Brandon Hill for me.”

Lily? Brandon Hill? What was she talking about? Still, he’d better say something.  “I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Emily closed her eyes.  She felt so weak – much weaker than she had ever felt before.

Fawn watched her slowly return to slumber and laid her back down, before updating the Colonel.

 

“Colonel White, our… guest… just came around briefly.”

“What sort of condition was she in?”

“It’s hard to judge – she wasn’t awake for long.  By all appearances, she had some sort of nightmare – though that’s not really surprising.  Rambled a few things, then fell asleep again.”

The Colonel frowned.  “What did she say, Doctor?” He jotted down the ‘ramblings’ quickly.

 

***

 

Captain Scarlet had just come off duty.  Curious about the electrocuted Mysteron that he and Blue had discovered, he decided to visit Sickbay.

Doctor Fawn turned to the Captain with mock-surprise.  “Why, Captain Scarlet! Whatever’s wrong? If you’ve come here voluntarily it MUST be serious!”

Scarlet rolled his eyes.  “Yes, yes, very amusing, Doctor.  Actually, I’m here as a visitor…”

“Aha – the Mysteron you brought in.”

The Captain folded his arms and attempted to suppress his impatience.  “May I see her?”

“Ok, but be gentle with her – she’s in a bad way.”

 

Emily was feeling a little better and was beginning to wonder why she had heard nothing from her family.  Then again, Pete was most probably still in London – he may not even know that she was in hospital, yet.  Lily would still be at college, and her parents were probably still at work… she wondered how long it might be before her family and friends were notified, and hoped they wouldn’t worry too much.

Frowning, she put a hand to her forehead.  I don’t understand… my head… I was feeling fine, a moment ago.  She leaned her head against the wall.

“Emily?” Scarlet raced to her side.  The closer he came, the worse she looked.  Of course – her sixth sense!  He moved away slightly, speaking to her gently.  “Take deep, slow breaths – the feeling will soon pass.”  He watched, as she gradually began to recover again. 

Emily stared up at him.  “I… don’t understand.  Why did I feel so bad, all of a sudden?”

The Captain returned to her side and attempted to explain it away.  “I get similar attacks, myself.  I can assure you, though, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Miss Stanton smiled at him, then studied his uniform.  “How come you’re dressed like that? That’s not hospital uniform.”

“No, it’s Spectrum uniform.  As a matter of fact, I work with your brother on occasion.”

“Ok, lemme guess… Pete couldn’t escape from London, but you could, so he sent you here on his behalf…”

Scarlet sighed, and prepared to explain the situation.  “I’m afraid it’s…” On second thought, it might be a better idea to just go along with that, for now… “Yes.  Yes, that’s right.”

Emily smiled, returning her attention to his uniform.  “Red – me favourite colour.  But… Pete wears blue… are you a different rank?”

Shaking his head, he said; “No.  You see… we’re colour-coded according to our codename.  Our uniforms don’t signify difference in rank.”

Her smile broadened.  “Cool!”

“Yes… ‘cool’…” the Captain took a seat beside her bed.  “How are you feeling? You looked awful when I saw you earlier.”

“I feel… bit better… keep having nightmares, though.”

Scarlet frowned.  “What are they about?”

“Oh, allsorts.  Mainly the accident at college – can’t get it out of me head…” she shivered violently, and rubbed at her arms.  “There’s other stuff, too.  Weird, twisted nightmares… me planting bombs, being ordered to do things I don’t want to do… kill people… and that voice… that voice…” she buried her face in her hands and began to cry.

“Are they very vivid?”

Without removing her hands from in front of her face, Stanton shook her head.  “They’re mixed up – typical dreams, I s’pose…”

Scarlet put an arm around her, gently.  “Alright, calm down.  Try not to dwell on the dreams – you must rest.”

S’not easy, when every time you close your flippin’ eyes you have a nightmare…”

“No, I know it isn’t.”

Emily jumped slightly.  “Scarlet Lady?”

The Captain stared down at her.  “I beg your pardon?”

The young woman shrugged.  S’what that ‘orrible voice keeps calling me…”

Scarlet shrugged, in an attempt to seem indifferent.  “Strange name, eh? Ah well, they’re only dreams.  You rest – I’ll tell Pete to come and see you ASAP.”

Emily watched him leave, puzzled.  The way that the Captain had looked at her when she had said ‘Scarlet Lady’ seemed odd.  It was as if it meant something to him… The more she tried to think on it, however, the more tired she became.  At last, she lay back and allowed her exhaustion to overpower her.

 

When she next opened her eyes, she seemed to be alone.  She groaned, not really feeling ready to awake, yet.

“Hi there,” Doctor Fawn came to her side.  “How are you feeling? Do you think you’d like something to eat?”

“Uh… yes.  Yes please,” she looked rather embarrassed.  “Sorry, Doctor, I… I have to… visit the ladies’…”

Fawn nodded, and explained where the ladies’ loo was located.  Stanton got up rather shakily, so he sent a Nurse Finch to accompany her in case she needed assistance.

All was fine until the two ladies headed back for Emily’s temporary quarters in Sickbay.  She noticed Captain Tourmaline and called out to him.

Tourmaline turned, saw her, and quickened his pace.  Great! Just the person I DON’T want to run into!

“Pete – wait! Come back! Pete!”

The Captain stopped and turned around slowly.  You talkin to me?”

“You’re the only Pete I know,” she frowned, puzzled by the ice in his tone.  “What’s wrong? Aren’t you here to see me, then?”

“No, I’m on my way to the Lounge and you’re holding me up.”

“I don’ understand…”

Tourmaline stared into her eyes.  “Get it into your thick ‘ead.  I don’t want to see you.  I don’t want to talk to you.  I want you to leave me alone.”

“Now, hang on a minute, Captain – you can’t talk to my patient like that,” Nurse Finch glared angrily at him.  “Your sister has had a hard enough time, without you adding to it.”

Tourmaline turned a steely glare to her.  “My sister is dead – what’s wrong with you people?”

Emily blinked back tears.  How could he say that? What had happened to him?

“Colonel White will hear about this, Captain Tourmaline,” Finch growled.

The Captain shrugged.  “He won’t do anything.”

Finch watched him march away, and put an arm around the shaken young woman.  “Alright now, don’t let him get to you.  I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

 

***

 

Captain Tourmaline was seated in Cloudbase’s Control Room, before the Commander-in-Chief.

“Well, Captain, what do you have to say for yourself?” White demanded, in what seemed to be a calm enough tone.

“Colonel, I buried me sister over two years ago.  This one is OBVIOUSLY an impostor.”

“Thankyou, Captain Tourmaline, but you don’t have to state the obvious.  I already know that THIS Miss Stanton was a Mysteron replacement.  The question is… is she free of their control?”

The Captain folded his arms.  “She’s not me sister – me sister’s gone.”

“Captain, I understand your feelings, however…”

“I’m not going to pretend that some… MYSTERON is my sister, Colonel,” Tourmaline stood up.  “That’s it.  Can I go, now?”

Colonel White sighed, tiredly.  “Captain, if you’ll just…”

Tourmaline picked up his cap and strode out.

“When that man chooses to be disagreeable, there’s no reasoning with him,” the Colonel muttered, with frustration.  He looked across at Green, who was working at his computer console.  “Lieutenant, call Captain Scarlet in here, would you?”

 

Captain Scarlet shook his head tiredly, after listening to Colonel White’s description of Tourmaline’s behaviour.  “Well, Colonel, I suppose his attitude is hardly surprising… at least he didn’t ‘agree’ with your proposition to interview Scarlet Lady and choose to deliberately make her ‘fail’ her tests…”

White nodded in agreement.  “All the same, Captain, I would have preferred him to listen to reason BEFORE making his decision.”

“Sir, let me talk to him – perhaps I can persuade him to give Miss Stanton another chance.”

The Colonel clasped his hands together, and leaned forward.  “And how are you going to do that, Captain?”

Scarlet cleared his throat, awkwardly.  “I’m going to talk to him about some of the difficulty I went through, after being mysteronised.  Perhaps then he’ll be a little more… compassionate.”

White nodded.  “It’s worth a try, Captain.”

 

***

 

Captain Scarlet was in the Officers’ Lounge when Tourmaline found him.  “There you are – you could’ve said WHERE you were waiting for me.”

Scarlet shrugged.  “Captain Ochre went to find you.  It’s not MY fault that he didn’t do his job properly.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Never your fault, is it?” Tourmaline noted with a smirk as he took a seat beside his colleague.  “Anyway, what did you want to talk to me about?”

Your… our visitor,” Scarlet folded his arms as Tourmaline turned away.  “Pete, listen to me-”

“No, YOU listen, Scarlet – my sister died two years ago.  She was killed in a lift at college – she was only twenty-six…” he shook his head, sadly.

Scarlet put a hand on his shoulder.  “I know – I remember you talking to me, when you received the news.  But… but supposing you haven’t really lost her?”

The blue-clad Captain scoffed.  “She’s been dead for two years, Paul.”

“Yes, I know…” he frowned, trying to work out how to start off on his own past.  “You know that I’m retrometabolic, don’t you?”

Tourmaline nodded.  “Yeah – it makes you our secret weapon.”

Scarlet sighed inwardly.  He was growing tired of the way his colleague continued to be difficult in an attempt to put everyone off of talking to him.  However, Scarlet was far more stubborn than Tourmaline, when he chose to be.  “I have the… ability of retrometabolism because I was under Mysteron control.  You see, I was killed in a car crash…” he stared at the cup of tea in front of him, as he remembered the crash.  “Captain Brown was my field partner at the time.  I came through it… he didn’t…”

“I didn’t know… I mean…” Tourmaline stared at him.  He could see the pain in his eyes, and wondered what he was remembering.

Scarlet shook the memories from his mind, for a moment.  “Well, I don’t like talking about it, I must admit…” he cleared his throat.  “Anyway, after being under Mysteron control for… a time… I awoke in Sickbay.  I couldn’t believe what I was told, at first…” he suppressed a shudder.  “I’d taken the World President hostage… I even tried to shoot Adam…”

Tourmaline was staring at him through wide eyes.  After a moment, he found his voice.  “But you couldn’t remember it?”

“Nothing since the car crash – I still can’t remember being a Mysteron.”

“Then… then Paul, maybe it wasn’t YOU at all.  Perhaps you were… asleep, or something… while the Mysterons used your body… You know – under hypnosis…?”

Scarlet nodded.  “The Colonel believes that, as well – sort of.”

“And you don’t?” Tourmaline watched him, carefully.

“Frankly, I don’t know.  All I know is, Spectrum was short-staffed on Cloudbase, what with Black missing, Brown dead and me… indisposed…”

“So?”

Scarlet returned his gaze to the cup in front of him.   “So the Colonel returned me to active duty – don’t get me wrong, though, it wasn’t as simple as that.  I HAD already been put through the mill.”

Tourmaline nodded his understanding.  “But that bit’s another story, eh?”

“That’s right.  Well, to put a long story short, not everyone was happy with the Colonel’s decision.  Both Captain Ochre and Destiny Angel saw me as an impostor – and treated me as such.  I can’t tell you how much that hurt – it was almost more than I could bear.”

“And that’s why you’ve been so… friendly… toward that Mysteron, is it?”

Scarlet nodded.  “Pete, how would you feel if you had to go through something similar? Friends, loved ones not trusting you, treating you like a monster… How would you take it?”

“I dunno, Paul.  I think I’d go nuts,” Tourmaline shook his head.  “How did YOU take it?”

“I… not EVERYONE reacted in that way, so it wasn’t so bad… But YOU’RE the only member of your family who knows that Emily might still be alive.  If you turn away from her…”

“Yeah, I know… I can’t turn my back on her…” Tourmaline blew out a sigh.  “To be honest, I hope she IS gone, though…”

Scarlet stared at him, shocked.  “WHAT?”

“Paul, she’s been dead for two years.  As far as all her friends and family know, I mean…” he looked away.  “She’s got no life to return to – you were lucky.”

Scarlet closed his eyes, tiredly.  Up until then, he hadn’t really thought about that at all.  As he had only been under Mysteron control for six hours, he had been able to get on with his life almost as if nothing had happened.  Finally, he cleared his throat and addressed his colleague with a determined nod.  “If she IS free of Mysteron control, we’ll do all we can for her.”

 

***

 

Emily stuffed the last piece of bacon into her mouth before pushing her empty plate away.  “Thanks – I needed that.”

Nurse Finch smiled.  “You’re welcome.  It’s good to see you eating.”

“Well, I was ‘ungry,” Stanton chuckled.  “In any case, that food was good – not at all like the hospital food that most people describe.”

“You need special attention, Miss Stanton,” the Nurse remarked, picking up the plate.  “You have to eat to get your strength back.  Would you like something else?”

Shaking her head, Stanton leaned back against her pillows.  “No thanks – I’m full.”

One small meal and she’s full? Finch casually brushed her patient’s fringe from her eyes, checking her temperature as she did so.  After looking after Captain Scarlet when he was in recovery, she’d have expected her to be hungrier.  “Are you feeling alright?”

“Yeah – well, much better than I was.  I don’t feel as tired, that’s for sure… Why do you ask?”

Finch shrugged.  Of course, just as humans have individual tastes and appetites, perhaps Mysterons’ – or EX-Mysterons’ – eating habits vary.  “Oh, nothing, I just expected you to be hungrier, that’s all.”

The girl frowned at her.  “I expect I’ll eat more later.”

The Nurse smiled and nodded.

 

***

 

“Welcome to Cloudbase, Captain Sapphire,” Colonel White gestured to the Spectrum Intelligence Officer to take a seat.

“Thankyou, Colonel,” Sapphire clasped her hands together and stared up at him intently.  “I was given to believe that you have managed to capture Scarlet Lady, at last…”

White shook his head.  “No, Captain, we didn’t capture her.  She was discovered.”

“Discovered…” Sapphire frowned at him.  She didn’t see the Colonel as some fool, who would just have a Mysteron picked up and brought back to Cloudbase… “What do you mean, Colonel?”

“Captains Scarlet and Blue found her – barely alive – in a ditch, beside a road.  She had been electrocuted and abandoned, by all appearances.”

“For what reason?”

“We don’t know,” White shook his head again.  “However, by all appearances she has been released of Mysteron control, and we need to confirm our suspicions.”

“Which is where I come in,” Sapphire noted.

White nodded.  “She seems to have no recollection of her time under Mysteron control, and isn’t even aware of where she is.  She seems to be under the impression that she is still in Bristol, in a hospital.”

“She’ll have quite a shock if I start interrogating her, then.”

“Exactly.  Which is the reason I requested that YOU spoke to her, as opposed to someone like Agent Conners.  If she IS free of their control, and as confused as she seems, then the last thing she needs is someone being rough with her.”

Sapphire nodded her understanding.  “I know how to be subtle, Colonel.”

“There is one other thing, Captain,” the Colonel informed her.  “Captain Tourmaline has reacted to her… reappearance… rather badly.  I don’t know how much help he’ll be to you.”

“That’s her brother, I take it?”

“Yes,” White frowned.  “He wouldn’t hear me out, when I tried to explain the situation, so don’t expect too much from him.”

Captain Sapphire kept herself from groaning.  It was clear that whatever the situation was with this Mysteron agent, things were going to be difficult.

 

***

 

Captains Tourmaline and Scarlet were about to visit ‘Scarlet Lady’ when they ran into Captain Sapphire.

Tourmaline offered her a casual grin.  “Hi, Captain, what brings you here?”

“Business, Captain Tourmaline,” Sapphire replied in a rather curt tone, as she remembered the Colonel’s earlier warning.

Tourmaline and Scarlet exchanged glances.  They knew exactly what sort of business would call for an SI agent’s presence on Cloudbase.

“Here to see if a certain ex-mysteron is all she claims to be, aren’t you?”

Scarlet dug his colleague in the ribs.

“That just about sums up my mission, yes,” Sapphire narrowed her eyes at him.  It was difficult to tell what was going on in the mind of the tall, blue-clad officer standing before her.

“Well, we were going to pay her a visit, but if you need to talk with her…”

“Yes, I’ll need to speak with her privately, for now,” Sapphire noted the disappointed expression that crossed Scarlet’s face and wondered whether he had given Tourmaline a good talking to.  “However, I may need your input, later.”

Tourmaline nodded.  “I’d be glad to help, Captain.  I just want to know what happened…” he clenched his jaw as a thought came to him.  “If she’s an impostor, I want to be the one who kills her…”

Scarlet gave him another jab in the ribs.  “And if she IS the person she claims to be?”

Sapphire watched as a sad smile spread across his face.  “Then I’ll do everything possible – and target Black, instead.”

“Pete, you’re beyond help,” Scarlet noted with a groan.

 

On entering the temporary quarters that Scarlet Lady had been put in, Captain Sapphire noted her subject’s behaviour and appearance.  She was sitting up in bed reading a book, which she would chuckle at occasionally.  Well, that’s one piece of evidence in her favour – Mysteron agents aren’t usually known for their sense of humour! Clearing her throat, she came closer.

Slipping a bookmark between the pages, Scarlet Lady looked up.  “Hello,” she mumbled, nervously.  She didn’t really want to talk with another of Tourmaline’s colleagues and, despite the absence of a Spectrum uniform, she had a feeling that she was about to meet another officer.

“Hello,” Sapphire replied, in a friendly tone.  “My name is Chris.  I just thought I’d stop by and have a little chat…” Looking at the closed book that was now sitting on the table beside Stanton’s bed, she asked. “Are you enjoying that book?”

Scarlet Lady nodded with enthusiasm.  “Oh yes – the nurses certainly found me something good!” She picked the book up and opened it to a page.  “It’s full of strange things that people have said, or written, or… or whatever.  For example: And now more on that rail delay – we have our reporter on the line.

Sapphire chuckled dryly.  “I dare say there WOULD be a rail delay, with a reporter on the line!”

The Mysteron nodded, laughing at the thought.  “I love things like this – I find them inspiring.  You see, sometimes I write when things are going slowly – right now, I’m working on a humorous report on the daily goings on at the college where I work,” her face clouded, suddenly.  “I’ll have a few things to say about them lifts, that’s for sure – someone could’ve been killed!”

The Captain nodded, sympathetically.  “I heard all about the accident.  I’m glad to see you weren’t too seriously injured…”

“I’m lucky to be alive, by the sounds of things,” she noted, shuddering.  S’funny but… my mind keeps going back to the last things I saw and thought.  It… it seems odd… the way everything happened…”

This might prove interesting; Sapphire dragged a chair closer to the bed, facing Scarlet Lady.  “What do you mean?”

“Well… for starters, the lift was near the ground floor when it went funny.  If it had crashed from there, it wouldn’t have been half as bad.”

Sapphire nodded her understanding.

“But… my rescuer seemed strange, too.”

“Rescuer?” Now the Spectrum Intelligence member was certainly interested.  “What was strange?”

Scarlet Lady shivered, as she forced herself to concentrate on him.  “He wasn’t dressed like any medical or security official I’ve ever seen.  He was dressed all in black, and looked as though he wouldn’t know the meaning of ‘TLC’ to save his life,” she frowned.  “Come to think of it, he looked as if he needed medical attention, himself – he was deathly pale.”

Captain Black! Sapphire was staring at her intently.  “Can you recall anything else?”

“Uh…” the Mysteron screwed her eyes up, trying to force herself to remember more.  Finally, she shook her head.  “Next thing I remember is waking up here, I’m afraid.”

Sapphire smiled at her.  “That’s fine – don’t worry yourself.”

“Why do you need to know all this, anyway?”

For a moment, the Captain didn’t know what to say.  She knew that she couldn’t give too much away; yet saying nothing would probably only make things worse.  “I’m investigating an attempted murder, Emily – someone tried to kill you.  The ropes that work the lift were severed.”

“I…” Scarlet Lady shuddered violently.  “Why would someone do such a thing?”

“I don’t know – that’s what we have to find out.  Captain Tourmaline is not happy about it, but he’s been ordered to lead everyone to believe that you’re dead – you’re safe, that way.  I believe it was for this reason that he reacted in the way that he did, earlier.”

She nodded.  “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Sapphire stood and patted the girl’s shoulder.  “Look after yourself and don’t worry – we’re doing all we can.”

“Thanks.”

The Spectrum officer was almost at the door when she was called back.  “Yes, Emily?”

“Out of curiosity, which hospital have I been assigned to? Not the BRI, is it?”

Sapphire frowned.  How am I supposed to answer that? Finally, she nodded.  “Yes, that’s right.  Why do you want to know?”

“Just thinking.  It’d have to be, really, seeing as it’s the nearest hospital to the college.”

The Captain offered her a friendly smile.  “I’ll see you soon – enjoy your book.”

“No fear, there.  Bye.”

“Bye, Emily.”

 

“Well?” Colonel White asked, once Captain Sapphire had taken a seat at his desk.  “What have you established?”

 “Well, so far, all evidence points to Scarlet Lady being free of Mysteron control,” Sapphire then went on to describe everything to the Colonel.  The conversation that she had had with the suspect Mysteron, her behaviour, the way she had described Captain Black… “She certainly didn’t sound as if she recognised the man from anywhere, Colonel,” she remarked.

Colonel White looked thoughtful.  “Was there anything else?”

Sapphire nodded.  “She thinks she’s still in Bristol, at the BRI…” she chuckled.  “I just hope she doesn’t decide to look out of the window!”

 

***

 

Captain Tourmaline checked that the recorder in his pocket was set up and silently entered the room where the Mysteron was resting.  She was so quiet and still that he knew she had to be asleep.  Carefully, he moved closer to her bed.  She was even more small and slender than he remembered, and she looked very vulnerable, lying there like that.  He frowned.  It’s hard to believe that she’s caused us so much trouble, these last two years, he reflected, as he remembered the run around she’d given Scarlet, on occasion.  Once, the Captain had spent a long time in Sickbay – for HIM, anyway – after a showdown with her.  He shivered.  Could his sister really be such a monster?

Scarlet Lady cried out and began to fight her covers.  “No…” she whispered.  “No!”

Tourmaline jumped back, as her eyes snapped open.

“NO!!!” she sat bolt upright, her glazed eyes wide and frightened.

The Captain carefully moved closer.  He didn’t really want to, but her distress was evident enough.  “Are you ok?”

“WHAT?” the Mysteron jumped violently and turned to him with wild eyes.  Quickly, she calmed herself.  “Pete! Pete, it’s you!” she wanted to hug him, but there was something in his manner that seemed wrong.  She couldn’t tell what it was, but it made him seem cold and distant.

“Hello, Ems,” his tone sounded wrong, too – as if he was forcing himself to speak to her.

She stared at him for a long moment.  Finally, she spoke in a quiet tone.  “It’s ok, Pete, you CAN talk to me.”

Tourmaline wanted to spit ‘DON’T MOCK ME, MYSTERON!’ back at her as a reply, but he knew that he couldn’t do that.  Instead, he took a deep breath and began to talk with her in as even a tone as he could muster.  “You know that you were kill… ALMOST killed, don’t you?”

“Pete, you don’t have to be so formal…”

“Just answer the question,” Tourmaline sighed, as his sister stared at him with hurt eyes.  “Please,” he added.

Scarlet Lady nodded.  “I know I was almost killed in the lift, at work…” she shuddered.  “Apparently, it was no accident.  Some… some sick… person… tried to kill me.  Why would they do that?”

Tourmaline knew that he shouldn’t give anything away, but he wanted to try something.  “What do you know about the Mysterons?”

“The Mysterons?” Scarlet Lady frowned.  “They’re a mob of terrorists, aren’t they? Spectrum is an anti-terrorist organisation, and so you are against the Mysterons.”

“That’s pretty good,” the Captain remarked.  “Do you know anything else about them?”

Shrugging, she answered.  “They like killing people?” she saw the annoyed expression that crossed her brother’s eyes and frowned.  “I don’t know, Pete.  I’m an artist – not a soldier, not a politician… HOW SHOULD I KNOW?”

“Because you WERE one!”

Scarlet Lady stared at him in disbelief.  How can he accuse me of being a Mysteron? I don’t even know anything about them!

Tourmaline watched the disbelieving stare become anger… and then become sadness. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Pete, but I’m hurt that you should think so little of me.”

Shaking his head, he spoke gently.  “I wasn’t supposed to tell you this, yet.  You see, my superiors…”

“You mean, SPECTRUM thinks I’m a Mysteron? Why? What have I done? I don’t understand.”

The Captain groaned.  I should learn to keep my trap shut!

Scarlet Lady was still staring at him with an expression of disbelief.  “Well, why do you think I’m a Mysteron, eh? What am I suspected of doing, selling important photographs to the enemy?”

“It’s nothing LIKE that.  Don’t you remember what you’ve done, or is it just that you don’t care?”

The Mysteron’s glare was hurt enough to make Tourmaline think that perhaps she wasn’t acting.  However, he still wasn’t prepared to put his trust in her.  He decided to try a new approach.  “What is your name?”

“Strange question for a brother to ask, don’t you think?”

The Captain scowled.  “Just answer the question.”

“Emily Stanton,” Scarlet Lady scowled at him, before adding.  “Also known as ‘Ems’ and ‘Emmy’.”

“That’s ok, I suppose.  Your job?”

“What? D’you mean you’ve forgotten that already? I’m an art lecturer and photographer.”

Tourmaline smirked.  “Where were you born?”

Bristol, England – same as you.”

Tourmaline ignored the sarcastic undertone in the Mysteron’s voice.  “WHEN were you born?”

“The 23rd of December, 2041.  You were born on the 22nd of May, 2044.”

That’s pretty good, Tourmaline thought.  However, he wasn’t finished, yet.  “And how old are you?”

“I’m twenty-six years old, Pete.  You are twenty-four, and Lily is eighteen.  She’s training to be an astronaut.  Now, are you through with this senseless inquisition?”

“Not yet, no,” the Captain took a deep breath.  “What is the date?”

In order to be as sarcastic – yet accurate – as possible she cast her watch a glance.  “It is 7.30 pm, uh… assuming that I’ve not been unconscious for more than a few hours… it’s… Wednesday the 9th of May, 2068.”

Tourmaline frowned.  Unless this Mysteron was a very good actress – which his sister was most certainly NOT, from his experience – she was being perfectly truthful and open.  She HAD to be his sister – and she’d just given him the date of her death, two years previously.  At last, he decided to be a little nicer.  “Sorry, Ems, but you’re wrong.  It’s Monday, the 24th of November, 2070.”

“WHAT? Are you telling me I’ve been in a coma for two years?”

“Sort of,” Tourmaline groaned inwardly.  He had to tell her everything, now.  “You’ve been under the control of the Mysterons for two years.  Now you have to prove that you’ve been released.”

“You said I’ve been ‘under their control’, Pete?”

Nodding, the Captain explained.  “There’s more to know about them than you hear about from the news, you see.  The Mysterons aren’t your typical terrorists – they are aliens, from Mars.  They have the power of retrometabolism, among other things.  They can use an object – or a person – for their own purposes, but first they have to destroy their chosen weapon.  You were needed, so they sabotaged the lift you used.  The rest is easy enough to guess…”

“You’re saying that they killed me, then took me over, used me till I was no longer of use, then dumped me.  So, how did I come to be here?”

Tourmaline frowned.  He had a feeling his sister was looking at the whole thing as a wind-up.  He wasn’t really surprised.  “My colleagues found you and brought you back here – welcome to Cloudbase, by the way.”

Scarlet Lady laughed.  “Pete, I’m at the BRI – one of your colleagues even confirmed that.”

“Really?” Tourmaline went to the window, and pulled up the blinds.  “So, you can see Broadmead from here, right? The shops, the cars…”

The young woman pulled herself from her bed, carefully. 

Tourmaline helped her to the window.  “Ok, how many shops can you see?”

She froze.  Instead of being met by a view of Bristol, she was confronted by sky and clouds.  “What on EARTH?”

“Yep, we’re on Earth… well, in the Earth’s atmosphere, anyway,” he chuckled, as his sister turned to stare at him.  “I repeat – welcome to Cloudbase.”

“‘In the Earth’s atmosphere’? How far up are we?”

The Captain grinned at her.  “We are 40,000ft up.  Cloudbase is a gert flying aircraft carrier – and top secret.”

“So you’re telling a suspected Mysteron agent all about it – that’s clever, Pete.”

Tourmaline shrugged.  “Let’s just say you’ve convinced me that you’re not a threat, ok?”

Emily was tempted to ask him whether he was willing to bet his life on it, but she decided that that wouldn’t be very wise.  It was best not to be too sarcastic when all was said and done – and after all, it wouldn’t be fair to push his loyalty as a brother.  “Ok, but… but what happens now? I mean, I’ve been dead for two years, right?”

“Yes.  It was all over the papers, and we had a funeral – it was pretty nice.  You’d have liked it.”

She winced.  “Thanks, Pete, but you don’t have to be blunt.  What I mean is, I don’t have a life to return to, do I?”

“I’m sorry,” the Captain shook his head.  “No, you can’t go back to the life you had.”

“So that’s it, then…” she stared at him.  “What can I do?”

Tourmaline grinned.  “Ok, you obviously want it straight, so…” he cleared his throat.  “First, you have to get well.  Then we’ll have to see what the Colonel says.”

 

***

 

“You did WHAT?” Colonel White thumped his desk furiously.  “Captain Tourmaline, I seem to recall that the orders I gave you…”

“Were to keep my nose out of Captain Sapphire’s investigation, Sir.”

White glared daggers at him.  Sometimes, Tourmaline tried his patience to breaking point.  “So, not only did you deliberately disobey me, but you also gave a suspect Mysteron some important information.”

“She had already convinced me that she was free of their control, Sir.  You should have seen her, Sir – you’d have been convinced, too.”

The Colonel frowned.  Seeing as Tourmaline had hoped that his sister was NOT alive within a mysteronised body, it was quite likely that the love for his sister wouldn’t cloud his judgement.  In fact, it was more likely that he would have judged the young woman harshly.  “So you think that she is your sister, Captain?”

Tourmaline nodded.  “I’ve seen my sister trying to act – and she’s rubbish! Believe me, she couldn’t trick you to save her life.”

White rubbed his chin, thoughtfully.  “Alright, Captain, calm down.  Now, if we were to assume that this young woman IS free of Mysteron control…”

“Yes, Colonel?”

“What life would she be able to lead, Captain? After all, she can’t exactly go back to her old life as if nothing has changed, can she? CERTAINLY not after two years.”

Tourmaline nodded.  “I know, Colonel – she knows that, too.  Maybe – if she can PROVE that she’s free of their control – maybe she can work for Spectrum, as a military photographer or something.  What do you think, Sir?”

Colonel White frowned, darkly.  “I think we should wait for Captain Sapphire to complete her investigation.  Perhaps you should tell her about your findings.”

The Captain concealed a wince – he knew what Sapphire’s reaction would be only too well.

 

***

 

Sapphire stared at the man before her with anger and frustration.  At first, she was lost for words but finally she spoke.  “Thankyou Captain Tourmaline, I welcome your helpful contribution to my inquiry, to say nothing of your talking it through with me before hand.”

The Captain looked away nervously for a moment.  “Sorry, Captain.”

“You will be.  Do you realise that you have jeopardised Spectrum security?”

Tourmaline began to say something.

“To say nothing of what might have happened to your sister…”

He stared at her nervously.  “But… my information IS a help… right?”

Sapphire blew out a sigh.  “I don’t know, Captain.  What I do know is that you may have made my investigation VERY difficult.”

“Captain, would it help if you saw her behaviour for yourself, without her being aware of you watching? You know, you could put her in an observation room, and monitor her.  Then we’ll see who she really is.”

Sapphire stared at him.  “You certainly seem to want to put her through the mill, Captain.”

Tourmaline nodded.  “I still want her to be a Mysteron – I don’t want her to have to start all over again.”

 

***

 

Stanton read the report that had been handed to her with a troubled expression.  Finally, she put the papers aside.  No wonder Pete hates me! It all made sense, now – the terrifying dreams, the weird voice… they weren’t dreams at all, they were half-forgotten memories of her past.  It was official – she was an alien killer, and the person who she claimed to be was a long-dead victim of her murdering masters.  She felt dirty and worthless.

Captain Sapphire watched her carefully through an observation window.  She turned to Colonel White.  “What do you think, Sir?”

“There’s no possible doubt.  She has to be clear of Mysteron control – unless she knows that we’re watching her.”

Sapphire shook her head.  “That’s not possible.  This window is a mirror on her side – we’re invisible.” She watched the girl breaking down and sighed.  “Time to have another talk with her, I think.”

White nodded and followed the Spectrum Intelligence agent into the small room.

 

Ems?” Sapphire came to the young woman’s side and touched her shoulder.

“Go ‘way.  You shoulda killed me,” the young woman was muttering at the SI agent without even looking up at her. “Why did you bring me here? Why did you want to help me?”

“Because everyone deserves a chance, Miss Stanton,” the Captain replied in a gentle tone.

“HA!” Stanton’s eyes were flashing as she looked up.  “Why should YOU want to give me a chance? My own brother wouldn’t!”

Colonel White shook his head tiredly.  “Miss Stanton, your brother understands the situation now.  He wants to put the past behind him – and so should you.”

Sapphire nodded her agreement.

“And just go back to the life that was taken from me by the Mysterons two years ago?”

White shook his head regretfully.  “That wouldn’t be possible.  It would be too hard for you, and the Mysterons may attempt to finish you off…”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Livid, Emily stared up at him.  “I… don’t… c… care…” Then the tears came.

Sapphire gestured to White to let her talk to the young woman.  “I know you’ve been hurt.  But… perhaps we can make something good from what you have, eh?”

“How?” Stanton still had tears running down her face, but she seemed calmer.

The Captain took a seat beside her.  “We need a photographer in Spectrum.  The missions are dangerous, and to work in the organisation you need lots of training, dedication and courage… but if we all work together, we can see this war of nerves against the Mysterons come to a successful end.”

White looked down at the young woman.  “Do you think you have what it takes to work for Spectrum?”

“Do I get to kill those… the Mysterons?”

Sapphire exchanged glances with White.  “Just knowing that you are standing against them will be insult enough, I should imagine.” White remarked.

Stanton grinned.  “Count me in!”

“But,” White cautioned, “this is NOT a game.  Lives will be at stake, Miss Stanton, and you MUST be responsible.  Do we understand each other?”

Emily nodded.  “Perfectly, Sir.”

 

***

 

 “The first thing I would recommend is changing your name.”

Stanton frowned at the red-clad Spectrum Officer seated opposite her.  “Why? I like my name.”

Scarlet explained patiently.  “I’m afraid that as most Spectrum members know Tourmaline, it would be common knowledge that his sister – who is your age, has the same name as you and looks remarkably like you – died two years ago.  Would you like to explain that?”

Stanton shook her head.  “No.”

“I must remind you that whether you were joining Spectrum or not, you are unable to go back to your previous life in any way.  Your family, friends and colleagues must continue to believe you dead.”

Tears welled up in the young woman’s eyes, but she nodded bravely.  “I know.”

“You’re a tough girl, and you’ll be valuable to our organisation, but you must make your choice freely.  Are you sure you want to join us?”

“I am – I do.  What other life could I lead?”

Scarlet smiled at her kindly.  “Be positive.”

Stanton nodded.  “I’m sorry, Captain.”

He returned the nod.  “You’re doing well.  I’ll see that you get all the identity protection that you need.  Once you have a new name, we’ll start you on your training.”  He stood and extended his arm.  “It’ll be a pleasure to have you aboard.”

 

 

End of Part One

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO

 

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