Musical Mayhem

 

A "Lieutenant Lake" story

by Scarlet Lady

 

 

“Captain Scarlet,” Colonel White leant forward in his chair, clasping his hands together on his circular desk. “I have a somewhat unusual mission for you...”“It couldn't possibly be any more unusual than my last, sir,” Scarlet remarked; thinking back to the cricket match that he had taken part in, with three of his colleagues.

White pushed a folder toward him. “Don't be too confident about that, Captain.”

The captain picked up the file and began to read the document that it contained. “A band?” he raised a brow at his commanding officer in disbelief. “There must be some mistake!”

The colonel shook his head. “There's no mistake, Captain.”

“But... Colonel... I've heard of 'Froot Kake'! They're a right bunch – of nutters – I couldn't possibly... I mean, a child minder would be better suited to the task!”

At his station, Lieutenant Green suppressed a snigger. Scarlet hadn't been the Colonel's first choice, but Blue was currently supervising new recruits at Koala Base.

“Are you telling me that you refuse to take this assignment, Captain?”

“I... No, Colonel... Of course not. I just... I fail to see why they need my – our – protection. Sir.”

“Have you heard of a Mister Roderick Copperfield?” White asked him.

Scarlet scratched his chin thoughtfully, wondering where this was leading to. “I have, Colonel. He's the top man in MI7, if I'm not mistaken.”

“You are not mistaken,” he nodded. “His eldest son is a Mister Richard Roderick Copperfield... Have you heard of him?”

“The name... rings a bell, Sir...”

“And so it should, though it isn't surprising that it doesn't mean much to you; he is usually referred to as 'The Nut', or some such nonsense.”

“The idiot guitarist of 'Froot Kake',” Scarlet nodded with a slight grimace. “I think I'm beginning to get it...”

“The Mysterons' latest threat mentioned Copperfield. While he and his immediate family can be placed under Spectrum's protective umbrella relatively easily, Richard is on tour with his band.”

“Can't they just cancel the tour?” the captain suggested. “I mean, it's only the one; what harm could it do?”

Green turned from his computer to glare at him. “Do you know how much one of their tickets would cost, Captain? The fans would go crazy! I know I sure would!”

Scarlet rolled his eyes and turned back to the Colonel. “It looks as if I have no choice. Where do I rendezvous with this terrible band of miscreants?”

 

Lieutenant Lake was feeling miserable. It had been almost a week since she had shot herself in the foot whilst making a stand against Captain Black in a derelict warehouse; and her retrometabolism was far from coping.

To improve her mood further, Captain Scarlet entered.

“What can I do you for?” Lake mumbled, trying desperately to keep the ice from her tone.

Scarlet took a seat beside her bed. “I was going to ask you whether I could bring anything back from my next big assignment,” he informed her.

“Rub it in, why don't you,” the lieutenant growled. “You go an' enjoy yourself, while I'm stuck 'ere!”

“I can assure you that my intentions are strictly honourable,” he held up his hands to her. “In all honesty, I'd more than gladly switch places with you, if it were possible!”

“Oh?” Lake raised a brow at him. “Don't tell me London Zoo wants a snake keeper...”

The captain scowled at her. “You love that, don't you?” he growled. “I was given a stern reprimand when I made fun of your wasp phobia – by everyone! – and I only mentioned it the once.”

“Twice,” she corrected him. “And you said that you hardly see anything wrong with it, because our fears make us human.”

“Yes... Well...”

“What you meant is that it marks the difference between men and women,” Lake accused scathingly.

“That's unfair!” Scarlet shouted at her. “To think that I was actually trying to be friendly, too!”

The lieutenant felt a twinge of guilt as he stood to go. “I'm sorry, Captain,” she said in a softer tone. “You're right, that wasn't fair. You've never been less than a gentleman to me.”

He turned in the doorway, taken aback by her apology. “Sorry?”

“That's what I said, yes. I'm sorry that I insulted you.”

Scarlet calmed himself and returned to his seat. “Well, that's alright then.”

“Sickbay... does things to you,” Lake shook her head as she tried to find a suitable explanation.

“I know what you mean,” her superior nodded. “The time drags by.”

“You'd be out by now,” the lieutenant pointed out with a grudging tone. “Your retrometabolism actually works!”

“Which is why I wanted to see you. I know it gets boring in here, and... I wanted to offer some friendship. Green mentioned before that you like 'Froot Kake'... was he right?”

Lake nodded. “My favourite modern group, they are. One day, I 'ave to go an' see 'em in concert!”

“Well...” he scratched his ear, suddenly feeling nervous. “I have to 'mind' them, for want of a better word. The Mysterons have threatened the family of the lead guitarist...”

For once, Lake was on the ball. “That's because of his dad, the MI7... boss... isn't it?”

“Yes, that's right. I wondered... would an autograph make you feel any better, do you think?”

She smiled at him shyly. “You're very kind, sir. That'd be lovely.”

“I can't promise,” he warned her. “After all, they may not want to give me their autograph... But I'll do my best.”

The lieutenant was blushing deeply with guilt now. “You certainly know how to make a girl feel bad, you know that? I take back every horrid thing I ever said about you!”

“Until our next fight, anyway,” her superior predicted, as he headed for the door.

 

'Froot Kake' was in the middle of a rehearsal when the captain arrived on the scene. He could hear their 'performance', for want of a better word, perfectly clearly from outside the building. “This is going to be the most fun I've had in a long, long time...” he muttered as he squared his shoulders and made his way inside.

The Nut was diving about on a stage made of large, wooden boxes, playing his electric guitar as if it were some form of weapon. He leapt high into the air, performing a neat somersault before landing in 'the splits'. Scarlet watched his display in silence.

The lead singer, known as Dough Boy, twirled his microphone overhead as he pranced about, shouting a stream of words that Scarlet felt belonged in a sewer. He caught the microphone deftly and grinned at his manager. “That sound any better, Kev?”

“It was great, until the language routine. I told you before about the swearing; it ruins your image.”

The Nut rolled his eyes. “Look, we ain't a bunch o' fairies! You want mummy's boys, you go an' hire mummy's boys! We're rockers – and rockers talk like rockers!”

I don't think ELO did, or Lake wouldn't be so keen on them, Scarlet found himself thinking. On saying that, I don't think she knows that this lot do, either.

Kev turned to the captain, noticing him for the first time. “Ah, you must be the Spectrum Officer that we've been expecting. What do you think?”

“I happen to agree with you,” Scarlet replied. “Excellent performance, but the language is uncalled for. I happen to know a young lady who would undoubtedly be put off by it – who very much enjoys the music.”

“We appeal to women?” groaned one of the band members, who was still playing the keyboard.

Scarlet rolled his eyes with annoyance. “She's not your stereotypical sort of girl,” he replied. “She has a mind of her own, a fiery temper and a big mouth. She calls herself a 'lady', but wouldn't be seen dead in a dress... and she bites her nails!”

Kev began to laugh. “My kind o' girl! Is she single?”

“As far as I know,” he shrugged. “She's a self-confessed nutter, I know that much.”

“Ah, nutters are my kind of people,” Dough Boy remarked, jumping from the stage. “Give me her address and I'll send her all the signed photos I can lay my hands on!”

“That might be difficult.”

Kev cleared his throat loudly. “We'll sort the business of mail to fans later,” he declared. “Right now, we have more important things to think about. Captain Scarlet is here to act as a body guard, as I told you before, so let's get down to business.”

“First of all, I'd like to know your names,” Scarlet informed the five lads that came to stand before him. Now that he knew The Nut's real name, he could see the family resemblance to Roderick Copperfield at a glance.

“Kev Gregory,” the manager held out a hand which Scarlet shook.

“I'm Cherry,” a short lad with long strawberry blond hair informed him. He grinned manically. “I'm the backing singer, drummer and general muppet.”

“Charmed,” Scarlet gave a brief nod.

Two men of average height and medium build stepped forward, each displaying a tattoo on his right arm. “We're Raisin and Sultana,” they said together.

“Otherwise known as 'The Terrible Twins',” Kev warned him. “They usually share the keyboard, which is what gives the music its unusual sound.”

Like kittens romping over the keys, Scarlet thought with misgiving.

Dough Boy smirked at him. “You already know what I do,” he said.

“Yes. You must be Dough Boy... I've heard a lot about you.”

The singer grinned broadly. “All good, I hope!”

“Oh, without a doubt!” If you call being regarded as the most colossal idiot in the history of music good, he remarked to himself. “Though your reviews seem to have a difference of opinion.”

“Music is art,” Raisin replied with a shrug.

Sultana nodded. “And art is a matter of taste.”

“Therefore there will always be a difference of opinion,” Scarlet concluded, before they went into some dreary, 'artsy-fartsy' (as Ochre called it) dialogue.

“Exactly!” The Nut agreed. “As long as we enjoy it, and we have fans who buy our albums and put us in the charts, who cares what the critics say?”

“Indeed,” the captain replied, in the most agreeable tone he could manage. Their music and attitude far from impressed him; though he had to agree with their feelings about doing what pleased them regardless of what others said.

“Anyway, if that'll be all, we'll go back to our rehearsal,” announced Dough Boy.

Scarlet nodded, and turned to ask Kevin for details regarding the tour. Where were they going, for how long would they stay, for how long would the tour itself last... And then they were interrupted by the screaming of the electric guitar. The captain winced as the noise filled his ears, and wondered why so many people raved about this band. Even Captain Blue, who he considered to be a highly intelligent man, seemed to think that they were great!

Himself, the captain could only consider the sound that the band was making to be noise; organised, almost musical, noise.

 

At the end of the first song, Dough Boy grinned at the two spectators. “Well? That better?”

“Much,” the captain replied in a polite, yet emotionless tone.

The Nut began to retune his guitar. “I still think I'm a bit off,” he remarked.

“It's a rehearsal,” Dough Boy shrugged. “It don't have to be perfect!”

Sultana and Raisin had been holding a whispered conference at their keyboard. Now, Raisin had stood up and come to the front of the little makeshift stage. “D'you have a favourite song?” he asked Scarlet, suddenly.

“Not really,” he replied, taken off-guard.

“Ah, come on,” Sultana prodded. “Everyone's got a favourite song!”

“My favourite music is a little more...” he stopped himself before he uttered the word 'refined'. “Well... Classical.”

“Oh!” Cherry grinned at him. “Why didn't you say so? We can do classical – easy!”

Captains Ochre and Tourmaline, two of Spectrum's most annoying colour-coded officers, had once introduced Scarlet to a rendition of 'Swan Lake' which had been performed by 'Madness'. The two captains had considered it both funny and clever, though they had known that their colleague would be far from impressed. Scarlet had considered it terrible; which had amused but hardly surprised them. However, the captain found himself wishing that he hadn't been so hasty. 'Madness' were manic, but they had skill; even he had to admit that. 'Froot Kake', on the other hand, were insane idiots with little or no skill at all!

It took him several moments to recognise the tune they were playing. It just seemed to be a tangle of musical notes; thrown together in an indecipherable manner. Then he realised that it was 'Land of Hope and Glory'; played at over twice its usual speed.

Dough Boy began to dance, making a weird noise into the microphone.

Scarlet turned to Gregory and raised a brow at him. “Do they know how to play a sedate tune?” he asked.

Kev laughed. “This is just their style, Captain. Surely, nobody tells you how to do your job, do they?”

The Spectrum officer lowered his gaze with embarrassment. “Not usually, no,” he replied; trying to laugh it off. “I suppose I'm just not accustomed to this sort of... style.”

“No, they're certainly a one-of-a-kind band,” Kev replied. “They're a lot of work, but they're worth it, y'know?”

 

At a maximum security building in a remote part of England, Captains Ochre and Magenta were seated with the rest of the Copperfield family. Roderick was somewhat impatient to return to his business, but he and his wife were very co-operative. Their offspring were both friendly and polite. They were sitting around the coffee table in the middle of the room, quietly playing Cluedo.

“It was Scarlett, in the drawing room, with the revolver!” one of them announced.

The Spectrum captains exchanged amused glances. “Violent, ain't he?” Ochre remarked quietly.

Mrs. Diana Copperfield frowned at the odd remark. “She,” she corrected him. “The character is a Miss Scarlett.”

“Even better,” he smirked.

Magenta elbowed him in the ribs. “Please excuse my partner – he watches too much daytime television when he's off-duty.”

The younger members of the family were also addressing the Spectrum officers with quizzical expressions. They shrugged and returned to their game.

 

Captain Scarlet sighed as he wearily removed his boots and tossed them down beside the little armchair in his bedroom. The room was pretty much bare; with nothing in it but a bunk, old stone fireplace and the armchair that he was currently using as a clothes horse. His head was throbbing as if Raisin and Sultana were still banging away at their keyboard. In fact, he was beginning to feel as if they were using his skull as a drum!

He yawned, which he found gave him some relief. “I'll feel better once I've slept,” he told himself. “Ruddy band's taken a lot out of me, that's for sure!” He finished changing into his pyjamas and collapsed onto the bed with a tired sigh. “Ah... Peace at last...!”

There was a creaking, groaning noise. It was reasonably quiet at first, but the volume grew quickly. When the sound reached its peak, the bed fell to pieces and Scarlet crashed to the floor.

“OW!”

The sound of giggling reached his ears.

“Right,” he growled, standing up. He opened the door and stuck out his head.

“Gotcha!” crowed Dough Boy and Cherry, as they sprayed him in the face with silly string.

Scarlet quickly shielded his face with his hands and backed into his room. “That's very silly and very dangerous!”

“Of course it's silly,” Dough Boy retorted. “Why do you think they call it 'silly string'?”

Cherry grinned. “You were right – he is clueless,” he remarked to the lead singer. “What shall we teach him first?”

Scarlet was tired; his head was thumping and he wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. Now, he found himself becoming angry, too. Quick as a flash, he hit the can from Dough Boy's hand and grabbed it. “Clear off – both of you – before I make you eat this revolting stuff!”

“What's going on?” Kev demanded, stepping into the corridor. He took in the scene at a glance. “Right... Jerry and David, I've warned you about your behaviour before. Go to bed and stay there; before I do or say something I'm bound to regret.”

The captain watched as they scooted away, giggling like naughty children.

“I'll have a word with them, in the morning,” the band's manager promised. “At least there's no harm done.”

“Of course not,” Scarlet replied, gruffly. “Though all the screws seem to have been removed from my bed...”

Kev stared at him. “You're kidding!”

The captain gestured for him to step inside. “See for yourself, my friend.”

He took a look at the mess and groaned. “Not again! What's wrong with 'em?”

“Again?” Scarlet repeated, frowning.

“This seems to be their idea of a joke,” Kev explained. “They did it to me on my first night, too.”

“Oh, I see, this is their way of 'welcoming' me, is it?”

“No, I think it's their way of testing you,” the manager confided. “After a week or so, they'll either get bored or calm down. Having you around is just a bit of a novelty at the moment, I suppose.”

“A novelty?” the Spectrum officer was furious. When he'd been the same age as these band members, he would never have even considered behaving in such a manner; much less would he have expected to get away with it!

“Look, it's late,” Kev said, smoothly. “We'll move you into an intact room, and discuss this after a good night's sleep. That reasonable?”

Scarlet didn't quite know what to say. Eventually, he merely nodded his consent. “It's been a long day, and anything I say is bound to be out of line,” he said quietly.

 

Captains Ochre and Magenta were seated together in armchairs, quietly sipping coffees.

“End of day one,” Magenta remarked at length. “This might well be the easiest mission I've ever had!”

“Yeah,” agreed his partner. “Even the kids are quiet! I expected a bit of friction – especially with Mr. Copperfield.”

“Yeah. I wonder how Scarlet's getting on...”

“Ah,” Ochre set aside his cup and leant back in his chair. “He'll be fine. If he can handle me he can handle anybody!”

Magenta stood suddenly. “What was that?”

His partner became alert at once. Though he hadn't heard anything, he trusted the Irishman. If he thought he'd heard something, then he was probably right. “I'll make sure everything's OK outside,” he announced, going to the phone.

 

Captain Scarlet was in a deep sleep; something that didn't happen very often. He was dreaming. He was sitting on the Promenade Deck with Captain Blue. Suddenly, Blue started whispering and chuckling at him.

“Adam, I can't understand what you're saying. What's the matter with you?”

His best friend smirked at him and said one word: “Now!”

All at once, the Spectrum Captain was surrounded by miniature explosions, and something brushed his face. He sat up at once, as his bedroom erupted with laughter.

“What's the matter, Captain? Did that scare you?”

Scarlet's face was covered in streamers. He'd been 'attacked' with party poppers! He turned angrily to Dough Boy, the speaker. “What do you think you're doing?”

“Having a bloomin' good time!” The Nut almost collapsed with fits of laughter. “I never thought soldiers got scared!”

The Captain was furious for the second time that night. If these were his children, he would have given each of them a good hiding! He tried to calm himself as he wondered what he should do. He felt completely out of his depth!

 

“Everything's fine out here, Captain Ochre,” reported the man on duty, Sergeant Laurel.

“You haven't heard anything?”

“No sir,” Laurel sounded surprised by the question.

Ochre nodded slightly. “Thankyou, Sergeant.”

As he put down the phone, Laurel's eyes glazed. Another superior was contacting him.

“This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. Destroy the maximum security building at all costs!”

 

Ochre frowned, as he put his receiver down.

“What's wrong, Rick?” his partner asked.

“I think I'll call in a replacement for the sergeant,” he replied. “I think he might be going down with something...”

“What d'you mean? He seemed OK when I spoke to him just now,” Magenta frowned at him.

Ochre shrugged. “It was the way he spoke... It was like it took all his effort just to say a few words...”

“Did you check him with a detector?”

“Sure! First thing I did when we arrived.”

Magenta's brow furrowed. “That was hours ago, Rick. Who's to say...?”

He didn't have to complete the sentence. The two officers exchanged glances for a moment, and then went into action. Ochre grabbed a Mysteron gun, while Magenta checked that the family they were protecting was safe and sound.

 

Meanwhile, the Mysteron agent had selected his weapon; dry grass and a box of matches. It was crude, not at all the sort of thing the Earthmen would expect from the Mysterons, but that was why it appealed to him.

Ochre spotted him stuffing tufts of dry grass into an air vent and guessed what was going on. He raised his weapon and called a warning.

“That's enough of that, Laurel. Buildings don't eat hay.”

The Mysteronised sergeant lit a match, glaring contemptuously at the captain.

“You give me no choice,” Ochre fired; shutting out the blood-curdling scream from the Mysteron.

“Looks like I'll have to take over outdoor duty,” he remarked to himself as he stamped out the flame from the match.

 

The following morning, Scarlet awoke to the sound of shouting. He moaned and hid his head under his covers. “Oh NO! Why me...?”

A knock sounded on his door. Quickly, he leapt out of bed and clasped his hands behind his back. “Who is it?”

Gregory poked his head round the door. “Breakfast's in ten minutes, Captain Scarlet. Uhh...” he squinted slightly, as he noticed the Spectrum officer's tired expression. “Did you sleep well?”

“Perfectly,” he replied brusquely. “See you at breakfast then.”

 

The Nut was standing on his chair, playing two tablespoons as you would castanets. “She'll be wearin' Grandma's knickers when she comes... Oh, she'll be...”

“SIT DOWN!” his manager barked at him. “I won't tell you again.”

Captain Scarlet took his seat at the table quietly. “Do you know 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain', Captain Scarlet?” Dough Boy asked, smirking.

“I haven't sung it since I was five years old,” the captain told him.

“Poor thing,” Cherry remarked, laughing. “It's a fun old song.”

“Especially when you add a few verses of your own!”

“Careful, Nutty Boy,” Kev warned.

Dough Boy was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “The one about fish in her hair is just...”

“ENOUGH!” Gregory barked. “Carry on, and we'll cancel the tour and send you all back to your families!”

A groan went up from the five younger men.

“You can't,” The Nut began.

“Try me,” his manager replied through gritted teeth. “I don't care how much money we lose. In fact, if you don't pipe down RIGHT NOW I'll quit!”

The room became silent.

Captain Scarlet gratefully accepted a piece of toast that was offered to him in silence. He noticed that every single member of the band was eating quietly; not so much as daring to look up.

 

Captain Ochre gratefully accepted a coffee from his frowning partner. “Thanks.”

“Why didn't you wake me?” Magenta demanded. “We're supposed to share stuff like night watches.”

The American shrugged and took another sip of his drink. “I figured I could handle it on my own. It was too cold to fall asleep out here.”

“You're as bad as Scarlet.”

“Well, I handled the situation OK and we had no trouble. You've called in some men to keep watch out here for us, so what does it matter?”

Magenta's frown deepened but he said nothing.

“Pat?”

“You know it matters! Fact is, you should've woke me.”

Ochre turned away, gruffly. “Look, it's done now. Just drop it.”

Magenta went back to his duties angrily.

 

Captain Scarlet stood in the wings with Kevin Gregory as he and the band made a few last-minute preparations.

“I'm so excited!” Raisin whispered to Sultana. “Our first gig in France!”

“How many people are out there?” asked The Nut.

Their manager looked at each of them in turn. “Calm down. You've done this plenty of times before. Just do what you always do; go out there with a flare!”

Scarlet nodded his own encouragement. “Show them what you're made of.”

“By that, he don't mean what you've eaten, Cherry,” added Dough Boy with a snigger.

Kevin pulled Scarlet back further into the wings as the stage suddenly came aglow with lights.

 

Dough Boy was diving about, swinging his microphone as he sang at the top of his lungs. All eyes were riveted on him as he drove into the chorus; his voice coming close to screaming. All eyes were riveted on him... except two.

Captain Black was watching the guitarist carefully, waiting for an opportunity to do something. Though it didn't matter if he ended up hurting another member of the band, his orders were to kill Richard R. Copperfield and he couldn't afford to miss.

 

Kevin Gregory turned to the Spectrum Captain with concern as he began to sway, his face paling and becoming beaded with sweat. “You OK?”

Scarlet swallowed with difficulty and nodded. “It's the heat from the lights, probably. I'm going to go and stretch my legs.”

Gregory nodded and watched him go.

The captain didn't know where to look first, but he knew that there was danger near by. Desperately, he tried to think like a Mysteron. Would they target the concert hall, or the idiot on its stage?

 

The crowd was dancing and singing along with the band, happily oblivious to the Mysteron plot as Captain Black pulled his old Spectrum-issue pistol from his pocket and prepared to carry out his masters' threat. Someone's head got in the way as he fired. Black melted into the crowd as people began to scream and panic. Security began to run towards the scene from all directions, but Black was gone.

Scarlet went to the head security official quickly. “What happened?”

“I'm not sure, sir,” he replied in a strong accent. “One moment everyone is dancing, and then this.”

He nodded. “Post some of your men at the exits – challenge anyone who tries to leave and search them. I'm going back to the wings, in case this was a diversion.”

“Right sir,” he nodded.

The captain's mind was racing as he made for his previous position. He wished more than ever that Captain Blue was with him. Alone as he was, he felt as if he was stretched too thin as he tried to cover every possibility. There were too many places for a Mysteron agent to hide, and he couldn't possibly cover them all fast enough.

 

Gregory smiled at Scarlet as he ran back. “Feel better?” he asked pleasantly.

“Not really. Quick, Kev, I want you to keep an eye on things from back here – make sure nobody goes near the band, and if you see anything suspicious, call security.”

He frowned. “What's going on?”

“A man has been shot. The attack is underway.”

What?” the manager stared at him in shock. “Where are you going?”

Scarlet turned back as he began to walk away. “I'm going to find a better view of things.”

“Try the bridge,” he suggested. “That'll give you a good view o' the goings-on on stage.”

“Where is it?”

Gregory pointed to what looked like a plank that was suspended above the stage. “Straight up. You go through the 'staff only' doors.”

The captain thanked him and took off at a run.

 

Captain Black was just moving into position on the bridge when he heard footsteps coming his way. Quickly, he melted into the shadows and waited. To his irritation, the source of the noise turned out to be his old enemy. “Scarlet!”

“Hello, Conrad. Did you miss me?”

Black threw a punch at the Spectrum captain as he reached for his pistol, almost sending him toppling over the handrail.

The captain grabbed the rail to steady himself before kicking out at the Mysteron. “I should have realised it was you I detected. I could always smell a rat from a mile away!”

His adversary ignored the remark and glanced over the side. His target was almost directly below him...

Scarlet threw a punch at his face, desperately trying to distract him.

At that moment, the music below came to a stop and Dough Boy's voice began to thank the crowd for their support. Despite the disturbance that had occurred, many of the fans were still dancing and shouting as if nothing had happened; mainly because they didn't know otherwise.

Black kicked Scarlet viciously, sending him crashing into the rail. The whole bridge shook and wobbled under the impact.

Cherry glanced up and saw the fight. “Hey, look! Scarlet's having a punch up with someone!”

“Eh?” The Nut followed his gaze. Directly above him, two men were fighting for all they were worth.

“Get back!” Scarlet yelled. “Go back to your dre-”

Black hit him again, knocking the breath from his body. “What was 'e trying to say?” Raisin asked.

“He wants us to call it a night,” The Nut replied.

Dough Boy grabbed the microphone from its stand. “Oh, does he? Well, I ain't takin' orders from a square! Let's finish what we started!”

The music began anew.

Black slung his enemy aside like a sack of rubbish and pulled out his pistol. With his target standing just below him he couldn't miss!

Suddenly, Scarlet was on his back, trying to force the pistol from his fingers. Black snarled and tried to throw him off; the walkway shook and lurched beneath them, and suddenly they both overbalanced and fell from the bridge. Scarlet's survival instinct took over, and he forced his enemy's body beneath him as they fell together.

The band members winced as they hit the stage with a sickening thud, inches from where The Nut was standing.

The music stopped abruptly, but Dough Boy wasn't about to give up. He smiled at the crowd cheerfully. “Let's give these men a big welcome – they've just dropped in unexpectedly!”

Scarlet stood slowly and turned to The Nut. “I think it's time to call it a day, don't you?”

“Where's your mate?” Cherry asked suddenly.

The captain didn't have to turn to look in order to know what he was talking about; he had faced Black so many times before that he already knew that he'd vanished. He shook his head. “If only I knew,” he replied quietly.

 

Captain Scarlet finished packing the few items that he had brought with him back into his holdall. He was glad that the threat had passed and that Colonel White was calling him back to Cloudbase. A knock sounded at the door. “Come in,” he said, squaring his shoulders as he did so.

Dough Boy and The Nut entered quietly.

“What?” Scarlet turned to them, suspiciously. “No party poppers?”

“I'm sorry about that,” Dough Boy said quietly. “Those... jokes... were my idea...”

“Let me tell you something about jokes, Nutty Boys,” Scarlet said. “A joke is when somebody says something funny, and another person laughs. A joke is not about singeing somebody's eyebrows off with miniature explosives!”

“Yeah, well...” The Nut exchanged glances with Dough Boy. “It seemed funny at the time.”

“But it wasn't,” the singer added. “Look, what I wanted to say was... Well... You took a big risk for us out there, and... Thanks, Captain.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“Yeah, we know that,” Dough Boy replied. “But... Thanks anyway. After all we put you through last night, that was pretty amazing!”

“To be honest, we thought you were a square,” the guitarist admitted. “Clueless, you know... Like my dad.”

Scarlet laughed. “I wouldn't say your father was 'clueless', exactly...”

“Well, you're far cooler than we thought,” The Nut told him.

“Yeah!” Dough Boy seconded. He handed the captain a card.

“What's this?”

“It's a 'No. 1 Fan' pass. You'll be welcome at our gigs any time!”

“Thankyou, but...” a thought crossed his mind. “I know somebody who would appreciate this even more than I do.”

“The nutty girl who bites her nails?” The Nut raised a pierced eyebrow.

He nodded. “May I pass this on?”

“Sure!” Dough Boy grinned. “Tell her to show security that and demand to visit my dressing room. I'd like to meet her!”

 

When Captain Scarlet arrived on Cloudbase, he was pleased to hear that Lake had been released from Sickbay. He smiled and promised himself that he'd catch up with her later. First, he desperately needed a coffee.

He entered the Officers' Lounge and sank wearily into the chair beside Captain Blue, emitting a long sigh.

“How did it go?” Lieutenant Lake asked, pleasantly. “You know, I really envy you – 'Froot Kake' is a truly wonderful band! One day, they may be as good as 'Madness'!”

Scarlet could hardly believe his ears. “You're comparing them with 'Madness'? Whatever happened to 'ELO'?” He knew that to Lake, 'Electric Light Orchestra' were the “bee's knees” of the music industry.

“Of the two, they're closer to 'Madness',” she explained. “But they aren't as...”

He laughed at her. “You were going to say they aren't as good, weren't you? Go on – say it! 'Froot Kake' are terrible!”

“Now you're putting words in my mouth.”

“And we all know that 'ELO' are the best band in the history of music – in your book, anyway.”

Lake shook her head, annoyed that they were having this conversation. “I rate 'Madness' right beside them; but their styles are completely different. I mean, how can you compare SKA with Classic Rock?” “Indeed. How could you possibly compare one type of rubbish with another?”

“'Rubbish'?” she stared at him. “They're bloomin' brilliant! And one day, 'Froot Kake' will be right up there with 'em – you mark my words!”

“They aren't that good,” he remarked. “They were like a gang of unruly children! I was hit in the eye with a spud gun pellet, attacked with silly string and party poppers at close range...”

Amid the sympathetic remarks of her superiors, Lake shook her head. “You should have done to them what I did to me brother, when he tried his nonsense with me,” she declared. “They would have thought twice, after that.”

Scarlet turned to gaze at Tourmaline, who was exchanging cringing glances with Captain Ochre. “Care to shed some light on your course of action, Lieutenant?”

“If you'll excuse me, sir,” she stood up and headed for the door. “I think I'll save him the embarrassment. It was long ago, after all.”

Scarlet turned to Tourmaline with a cruel smirk as the door closed. “Don't let him get away! I'll drag it all out of him, one way or another!” With that, he sprinted after the lieutenant.

Lake turned when he hailed her. “I won't tell, Captain Scarlet. It wouldn't be fair.”

He smiled pleasantly at her. “I wasn't going to ask, Lieutenant. I could pull rank on you...”

Her face fell.

“But that just wouldn't be right. Especially seeing as he's your brother...”

“Thankyou sir,” she smiled at him.

Scarlet took the 'No. 1 Fan' pass from his tunic pocket. “This is a gift to you from 'Froot Kake'. They say that you'll always be welcome at their... 'gigs'.”

She studied it carefully. “What is it?”

“It's a pass to all 'Froot Kake' events – you can even visit them behind the scenes.”

Lake stared at him in disbelief for a few moments, and then hugged him. “Thankyou,” she said quietly.

The captain smiled. “You're very welcome. I thought that might make up for a week in Sickbay...”

“And some!”

He laughed. “I'm glad.”

The lieutenant gave him a shy smile, thanked him again, and headed for her quarters.

Once she was gone, Scarlet returned to the Officers' Lounge.

 

Captain Tourmaline was being held captive by captains Blue, Ochre and Grey. “Let me go, you cowards! This ain't fair! You wait 'til Colonel White hears about this!”

Scarlet entered and began cracking his knuckles. “Now then, Pete...”

“My mouth's shut and it's staying that way! I ain't saying a word!”

He raised a brow at him. “What did she do?”

“Ochre'll probably tell you,” he blurted. “She did similar to him, too!”

“What? When?” the captain stared at him.

“That look you gave me, that sympathetic cringe... You knew the sort o' thing she did for revenge.”

Grey grabbed him. “You sneaking little...!”

“Hey, I didn't!”

Scarlet glared at him. “Right then, Rick, why don't you and Pete spill the beans now, before I spill your blood...”

His victims exchanged miserable glances.

“I could always tell the Colonel who it was that put his muddy boots up on his desk...”

Ochre squirmed slightly. “She 'borrowed' some of my belongings and hung them outside my door...”

“Belongings?”

He reddened violently. “From the Laundry Room.”

“Oh, those belongings,” Scarlet somehow managed to keep a straight face as he nodded. “And Pete?”

“Something similar... Only I was eight, and she hung them in the tree outside her bedroom, when our parents were out.”

“Lovely,” Scarlet remarked. “Not a lady to be trifled with, then..”

Blue and Grey were rolling on the floor, holding their sides as they cried with laughter.

Tourmaline and Ochre took the opportunity to flee, before Scarlet decided to interrogate them further.

“Well,” Grey managed to gasp. “I never would've thought that little Ems was like that!”

Scarlet stared at him incredulously. “Didn't you? I take it you don't remember what she did when I super-glued her atrocious music collection to the ceiling of the lounge, then?”

Blue chuckled dryly. “My mom always said it's the quiet ones you have to look out for!”

“Quiet?” his partner shook his head. “You try sleeping in a room beside hers!”

Grey smirked. “Then why don't you move? Don't tell me she's another girl you're leading on!”

Scarlet glared at him angrily. “Diane is the only girl for me – you know that! In any case, Lake's far too immature.”

Blue rolled his eyes. “You know, Paul, it's no wonder you got so much grief from the band, if you rise to any bait that's pushed your way. I'll bet they're really gonna miss you!”

“He'll miss them, too,” Grey predicted. “I'll bet he'll be buying tickets for every concert from now on.”

“Not a chance,” he promised him. “They're without a doubt the worst band that I've ever had to listen to!”

With that, he made for the Control Room; whilst whistling a fast-paced version of 'Land of Hope and Glory'.

 

 

 

Author's notes:

 

I would like to thank Lezli Farrington for her help, encouragement and BETA skills during the making of this fan fiction.

I came up with the idea for this story when I stumbled upon Madness' official website and started reading about things they'd done when they were young. In fact, a few of those things were incorporated into the story. As I read from their site, I found myself wondering how someone like Scarlet would get on with them... and so, Froot Kake was born!

 

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