A “New Captain Scarlet” short story
by Skybase Girl
Several hours after Skybase had resumed its place in the heavens, organised chaos still reigned as personnel and craft returned to their allotted stations. Having satisfied himself that the Mysteronised “matter” had been permanently transformed into benign form, an exhausted Scarlet had only one thought; to collapse onto something soft and relatively pliant.
He was quickly disabused of the notion that this would be imminent, however. He had only got as far as removing his boots when the buzzer at the entrance to his quarters heralded a visitor. Destiny Angel stood at the door, shoulders slumped and eyes downcast. She not only looked as weary as he felt, but thoroughly miserable to boot.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern overtaking his exhaustion. “You look worn out, Sim. Maybe you should try and get some rest.”
“Yes, I will, but...” Her reply trailed off as she passed a listless hand across her forehead. “I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I... until you...” She slumped against the doorframe, apparently lacking the conviction to give voice to her feelings.
“Simone.” Scarlet took her arm and gently guided her into the room. “You’re not making sense. Until I what?”
“Forgive me,” she said simply, her eyes pooling with unshed tears. “Please forgive me, Paul. Today was so dreadful and what I did – what we all did....” she shook her head despairingly. “There’s no excuse, I know. All I can do is apologise. We were wrong, we should have known.”
“Known what? That I was telling the truth? That I hadn’t turned traitor?” He shook his head in dismissal. “There was no way of knowing. You did your job, that’s all. It’s the drill, Simone, you know that as well as anyone. You assess the situation and deal with it accordingly. Follow orders, no matter what. If the situation had been reversed, that’s what I would have done.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” she retorted. “After all, you didn’t, did you? You had more faith.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Remember when Black kidnapped me and substituted me with the Gina replicant? It was the same situation. Everyone, including you, thought I’d turned traitor. I know you came after me because you had orders to take me out. But when it came down to it, you didn’t do it. You stopped. What made you stop, Paul?”
“I don’t know,” he said quietly. “You have no idea what a close call it was. I thought there was no way you could have got away from Black without being Mysteronised. Every bit of logic and reason told me I should shoot you, no matter what you said to dissuade me. I was a split second away from killing you, Sim and believe me, there’s not a day I don’t think about that. It’s such a fine line – I jumped the right way that time, but if I hadn’t... well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“You gave me the benefit of the doubt, which is more than I gave you,” she said with a sad smile. “In the end, it all boils down to faith. You had it and I didn’t.”
“Not necessarily.” He touched her cheek with a light caress. “You held back today, sweetie. It took me a while to figure out why.”
“What are you talking about?” she said, staring at him. “I didn’t hold back. I came right at you, firing missiles.” Her expression was agonized. “They were rockets, for God’s sake! I was trying to blow you to Kingdom Come.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. You see, you didn’t hit me. You had several clear shots and you didn’t take them.”
Destiny frowned. “That can’t be right,” she said decisively. “I was aiming straight at you. At that distance, I couldn’t have missed.”
“Not even if you’d had your eyes shut,” he agreed. “You didn’t miss, Simone. You just didn’t hit the Rhino. You took out the bridge instead, because you knew that if I was in the water, you couldn’t track me. That’s when I realised you were giving me a chance.”
Her face registered utter disbelief. “A chance? You think I deliberately gave you a chance to get away? That can’t be right, I wouldn’t have...” Her voice broke and she slumped on to Scarlet’s unmade bed. As his meaning sunk in, her face turned ashen. “I don’t know, Paul. I can’t remember. It’s all a blur. I had a job to do, but I knew that if I let myself think, or feel, I wouldn’t be able to function at all. So I tried to cut myself off from it. But, if you’re right, I obviously didn’t succeed.” She turned a resigned face to him. “I didn’t do my job after all, did I?”
“Nope, I guess not,” he said cheerfully. “And for once in my life, I’m very glad of it. As good as I may be, I’m no match for five determined women with enough firepower to blow up New York City.”
She sat in silence for several moments, trying to absorb the import of her actions. Then alarm registered. “Paul,” she said, “if Colonel White finds out what happened, I could be in serious trouble.”
“Don’t worry.” He sat down beside her and slid an arm round her shoulders. “It won’t come to that. Serena knows, but I asked her to destroy the flight logs before anyone else gets a chance to look at them. And, since everything ended well, I’m betting there’ll be no questions asked. This stays between us, Sim. No one else needs to know.”
Destiny seemed doubtful. “What about the Angels?” she said, giving him a worried look. “We all anticipate each others’ every move, Paul. We have to, for the team to function as it does. They’ll realise what happened.”
“Probably,” he admitted. “But they won’t mention it if you don’t.” He pressed his lips gently against the side of her forehead. “Forget it, Simone. Let’s just chalk this one up, okay? You have nothing to apologise for. Remember that famous line from one of those cheesy old 1970s movies? ‘Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry’?
Destiny raised her head to stare at him. “That,” she said tartly, “is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. In my opinion, love means always having to say you’re sorry!”
“Okay, well, maybe you’re right,” he said hastily. “I don’t know where that came from, it just popped into my head. Stupid thing to say, really. Nothing to do with us.”
“Absolutely nothing,” she agreed. “Still...” she paused in the task of shredding a paper handkerchief through her fingers. “Things have changed, haven’t they?” she said hesitantly. “With us, I mean. It feels kind of different now, I don’t know why.”
His face softened in confirmation. “We’ve crossed over,” he said quietly. “Something we didn’t anticipate. New territory, but somehow still familiar. Maybe we just have to take a little time to see where the road is taking us.”
“Maybe,” she acknowledged with a shy smile. She got to her feet and deposited the remains of the tissue in the waste bin. “Well, I guess I should go now and let you get some sleep. I doubt there will be any rewards for having saved the day yet again – we’ll still be expected to show up for duty in eight or nine hours time.”
“No doubt,” he agreed, following her to the door. There, she paused and looked at him as if a thought of only minor importance, but mentionable nonetheless, had just occurred to her.
“Paul,” she said casually, “what was the name of the film that quote came from?”
“With the cheesy dialogue? ‘Love Story’, I think.”
“Mmm. I must remember to check it out in the movie archives. Maybe we could watch it together sometime. Eat popcorn and have a good giggle.”
Scarlet’s face was grave. “Be advised,” he said solemnly. “There’ll be no giggling. I understand it’s a real tearjerker. You’ll need the Kleenex at the ready.”
“I can cope with soap opera,” she said lightly. “I’m not that much of a wimp, Paul.”
“No, but I am,” he said frankly. “It will be my tears you’ll need to mop up, not yours. Sentimental movies are my fatal weakness, the trashier the better. In my darkest moments, I’ve been known to sit through endless re-runs of ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and sob like an idiot. My mother reckoned it all started when Bambi’s mother died. By the time I graduated to ‘ET’, I was a complete basket case.” He gave her a broad grin. “So, armed with this knowledge, you still want to go on a movie date with me?”
“Probably not, if I believed you, which I don’t,” she said with a fond smile. “But I do think that underneath all that body armour, Captain Scarlet, you’re more of a softie than most people realise.”
“Well, keep it to yourself,” he replied, dropping her a swift goodnight kiss. “Let’s make that another of our little secrets.”
I have always found it interesting to imagine what might have happened after the episodes ended. “Shape Shifter” was not one of my favourites and I realised that was because I was immensely irritated at Spectrum’s eagerness to believe that Scarlet was now batting for the Mysterons. Someone, I thought, should have given him the benefit of the doubt long before Captain Blue eventually did. Then, I began to wonder if all was not as it seemed and my speculations have resulted in this light-hearted little vignette.
Thanks, as always, to Chris Bishop for allowing me to post on her site. The initial inspiration surrounding the premise of “what happened next” came from Lezli Farrington. “Marizel” (they know who they are), were a constant source of advice and inspiration, as well as friendship, laughter and copious amounts of wine. Any errors here are entirely down to my inability to always follow instructions!
Finally, thanks to Anderson Productions PLC and all involved with New Captain Scarlet. I consider it a privilege to borrow their characters for my own entertainment and hopefully, that of anyone taking the time to read this.
20th June 2010
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