On Shaky Ground

A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" Story

by Sue Stanhope

  

This story contains two new characters created by Chris Bishop and Mary J Rudy and references to situations in Chrisí stories "The Secret", "Spectrum Is White" and "A Question of Trust".

 

 

Captain Blue whistled cheerfully to himself as he packed the suitcase. Almost all of the drawers and doors in his quarters were open, the bed strewn with personal items. Blue picked up a small photo frame and smiled at it affectionately before slipping it into his pocket.

"Youíre coming with me," he murmured to himself.

A knock at the door had him glance down quickly at his watch, no it wasnít time to leave yet, he thought thankfully as he considered quite how much he still had to do.

"Come in!" he called, continuing to pack.

A dark head peered around the door, grinning broadly. The expression turned to one of astonishment as he spied the mess.

"Good grief, Adam! Has someone turned your room over?"

Blue turned to see Captain Scarlet surveying, his scattered possessions with the mischievous grin back on his face.

"Very funny!" Blue replied placing the crisp pressed shirt he held in his hands into the suitcase. "Of course," he continued, raising a finger, "itís going to be a whole lot funnier when Iím sitting on the beach with a nice cold beer, thinking of you at that dreary geology conference."

Scarletís expression dulled instantly.

"Donít remind me," he sighed, "Spectrum security for a bunch of bearded men talking about rocks!"

Blue smirked, his vacation, his first real vacation in Ė he couldnít remember how long Ė plus he was going to miss possibly the most tedious duty he could imagine. It was absolutely blissful to tease his friend over it too. Scarletís all too restless nature confined to a Conference Centre for three interminably dull days! It was too amusing an idea to ignore.

"Whoís going with you?" Blue asked, deciding to give his friend a break.

"Symphony, her furloughís been cancelled."

"What?" Blue spun to face him. The look of shock on his face turned to thunder as he saw Scarlet beaming at him.

Grabbing a balled up pair of socks he hurled them at the chuckling captain. Scarlet caught them one handed and tossed them back into the case.

"Guess that wasnít funny either?"

Scarlet settled himself into a chair only to have to shift and move a grey leather belt from the back of the seat. Shaking his head, he draped it over the back of the seat. The room was a mess; how Blue couldnít pack without the ensuing shambles, he really didnít know.

Blue smiled, "Guess I asked for it."

"Whenís Symphony joining you?"

"Saturday, but just for three days." Blue paused for a moment; "Iím thinking of askingÖ" he stopped suddenly.

Scarlet sprang up suddenly from his seat and placed a hand on Blueís shoulder, staring into his friendís eyes, searching for confirmation that heíd understood, an excited smile threatened to split his face in two.

"Youíre going to ask her to marry you?!" Scarlet was beside himself with joy, two of his best friends getting married.

"I shouldnít have said anything," Blue replied abruptly.

Scarletís heart sank, his smile faded, surely his friend didnít think heíd say or do anything to ruin it. Blue saw the crestfallen expression on Scarletís face and immediately realised how he must have sounded.

"Oh, no Paul, I wasnít suggestingÖ.oh!" Blue threw up his hands and sat heavily on the only corner of the bed not covered by his belongings, "What if she says no?" he asked looking distractedly down at his hands, his fingers alternately interlacing and releasing.

Scarlet regarded Blue with surprise, it was just so unlike him. Blue was confident almost to the point of arrogance, and yet here he was wringing his hands, agonising over a decision to a question not even asked yet.

"Hey!" Scarlet snapped. Blue looked up, surprised by Scarletís tone, it was enough to pull from his worried thoughts. "Thatís better," he continued, "Adam, she adores you. You know she does." Scarlet paused for a moment, another concern had drifted into his mind, and a more realistic one he thought. "Anyway, it wouldnít be Symphony saying no that Iíd be worried about if I were you."

"The Colonel." Blue nodded, knowing instantly what he meant.

"I take it you havenít spoken to him?"

"I think I should ask Symphony first donít you. Imagine if she knew Iíd spoken to the old man before even asking her?"

Scarlet thought about it and nodded with a smile, "Donít know who you should be more afraid of."

Blue laughed, "Anyway you didnít answer my question. Whoís going with you to the Rock Festival?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

Rock Festival Ė Scarlet groaned inwardly, Blueís humour never got any better, plus heíd reminded him of that dreadful conference again. Scarlet almost wished that some sort of Mysteron intervention would force Spectrum to reluctantly have to hand over the security detail to the WAAF Ė why security anyway, just how dangerous could discussing rocks be?

"Bradís coming with me. Anyway, better let you get on or Symphonyíll get there before you! Have a great time Adam andÖ" he paused smiling broadly, "good luck."

"Thanks."

***

 

Entering the officersí lounge Scarlet nodded to Grey and Magenta who were playing chess, otherwise it was empty. Scarlet flopped into a large comfortable chair and sighed. He carried a satisfied smile. Curious, Grey couldnít help but stare at him.

"Whatís with you?" Grey finally asked, intrigued.

Magenta looked up, it had been his move, Captain Grey was beating him easily and he hadnít diverted his attention much on the entry of the young British captain.

"What?" asked Magenta, "What have I missed?"

"I donít know," Grey continued to stare at Scarlet, "but someone seemed pleased with themselves."

Magenta turned to look, Scarlet could barely contain himself.

"Oh God, if youíre looking for a reason for some of his moods, youíll be stretching the bounds of reality," Magenta smiled.

Scarlet glanced back at his friends grinning uncontrollably, "Iím fine!" he announced.

Grey shook his head, "You gonna tell us?"

Scarlet turned to face Captain Grey, hanging over the arm of the chair, his face lit with sheer elation.

"Thereís nothing to tell," he grinned.

"Yeah right!" Grey knew him better than that.

Rhapsody Angel pushed open the door of the officersí lounge. Captain Scarlet caught her eye and smiled, his smile was even wider than usual, she noticed and grinned back, what was on his mind? He was always full of fun and had some mischievous plan at the back of his mind somewhere. What was there now? She could sense he was bursting to tell her something.

"Paul?" she asked ready for whatever it could be.

Scarlet waved her over frantically. Rhapsody cocked her head on one side, what was he up to? Grey noticed the exchange; he tapped Magentaís hand.

"What?" asked Magenta oblivious.

Grey jabbed a thumb in Scarletís direction, "Something going on there," he replied quietly.

Magenta smiled kindly, "You just noticed?"

"Not with Rhapsody!" Grey answered in a low voice, "Theyíre not that discreet! I mean Scarlet, he knows something, and heís not telling us."

"Hmm," agreed Magenta, "letís find out."

Rhapsody dropped to Scarletís side, "What is it, Paul?" she asked quietly.

"I just heard something thatÖ.."

"Shh!" Rhapsody put her finger over his lips.

Scarlet appeared confused at first, then became suddenly aware of two figures standing behind him. Grey and Magenta had almost abandoned their game to hear Scarletís news. They stood behind the chair in which Scarlet sat. He looked up at them, suddenly they felt quite uncomfortable.

"Pat?" Scarlet addressed Magenta, out of the two ear-wigging officers, he felt he would feel most awkward, and why not wind him up?

"Oh come on Paul! You know why weíre here. Whatís the news?"

Magenta was clearly too excited to be embarrassed into silence, even Grey was surprised by his reaction. Scarlet was so taken aback, he was almost tempted to tell him. Over the loudspeaker, he heard Lieutenant Greenís voice telling Captain Blue to go to the helipad were Melody was waiting for him. Scarlet lost his grin at the mention of Blueís name, he couldnít tell Ė it wouldnít be fair, what if he lost his nerve and didnít ask, it could be so embarrassing. Scarlet didnít doubt for a moment that if he did ask, that Symphony would say yes, she loved him dearly. Scarlet smiled at Rhapsody and cupped her face in his hands as he thought about it. MaybeÖÖ

"Paul?" Rhapsody was surprised at Scarletís sudden show of affection in the Officersí Lounge, and in front of Grey and Magenta too Ė it was supposed to be secret.

Scarlet could only smile and sigh. Getting up from the chair, he thought it best to leave. The two Spectrum Officers and Interceptor Pilot didnít quite see it that way and were quite frustrated to have been tantalised; clearly Scarlet knew more than he was letting on. Off to the gym I think, mused Scarlet.

 

***

 

The gym was empty when he arrived. Getting changed, Scarlet let his mind wander; he couldnít help but wonder if the Colonel really would let Blue and Symphony marry. Perhaps it would be as well to pay attention and back his friend to the hilt; he may need similar approval himself one day.

"Hey, Paul!" a voice called him back to the present.

"Rick?" Scarlet glanced up, "Just finishing or just starting?"

"Finishing, but IíllÖ."Ochre was momentarily surprised as his friend suddenly flopped down on the bench, blinking as if dazed. Scarlet held his head as Ochre approached, concerned.

"You ok, Paul?"

It was then all too obvious exactly what had been the cause of Scarletís sudden lapse as the familiar voice boomed over the loudspeakers.

 

This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us Earthmen. We will continue our war of nerves against you for your unprovoked attack on our Martian City. We will destroy many cities in one sweep, when the seas rise and the mountains fall.

 

Scarlet and Ochre groaned simultaneously. Not again, they thought. What could that possibly mean? Within moments, Cloudbase was placed on Yellow Alert and senior officers were called to the Control Room.

"No work out for you, my friend," said Ochre to Scarlet who was hastily changing back into his uniform.

Scarlet smiled in return, pulling his boots on, he raced out after Ochre. Half way to Control, the pair met Magenta and Grey also on their way.

"Reckon Blue got away just in time!" Grey announced.

"Not like him to miss all the action," replied Scarlet smiling, "How soon do you reckon heíll be back?"

"Melodyís not going to tell him, this is the first vacation Blueís had in ages."

"I know, he deserves the break." Magenta glanced at Scarlet, "And Iíve a feeling somethingís going on."

"Donít let your naturally suspicious nature take you down dead ends, Pat." Scarlet warned, half jokingly.

Magenta was horrified, "Iím not suspicious! Youíre thinking of Ochre!"

Scarlet grinned as Ochre blew in mock offence.

"Hey!" Ochre pouted.

"What could be going on?" Scarlet tried to change their minds, "Heís going on holiday, thatís all!"

"So what was on your mind before?" Magenta reminded him of his behaviour in the Officersí Lounge.

Scarlet, somewhat caught off guard, played for time. He pretended to try to recall what Magenta could be talking about.

"Oh that?" he replied eventually, "Not much," he ventured, not saying anything.

Relieved to finally have arrived at the Control Room, Scarlet stepped politely aside from the door for his fellow officers. Ochre and Magenta entered first, Grey turned to Scarlet as he walked in.

"Somethingís up," he nodded knowingly. Scarlet beamed an impish grin in reply and followed him in.

Ochre reported for all of them and, taking their seats, they prepared to take their orders from Colonel White.

"Gentlemen, I have to admit this was something I expected."

The assembled captains regarded their commander with a degree of surprise, how could he have possibly foreseen a specific Mysteron threat? The Colonel continued.

"You are all aware, I know, of the International Conference on Geology which will be taking place over three days commencing tomorrow. And some of you may have been wondering why Spectrum have been asked to provide security." Whiteís gaze fell briefly on Captain Scarlet who he knew had been particularly vocal about his surprise at the request for Spectrum involvement. "You may be assured that if Spectrum accepts a mission, which on the surface appears to be unusual, then there must be something below the surface that is not."

Why, Scarlet wondered, did he feel like the Colonel was talking to him alone and that he was being chided. He sighed inwardly, the old man knew him only too well.

"I take it that the conference is merely a cover then, Colonel?" asked Ochre.

"No, Captain Ochre, the conference is genuine. However, it is where Professor Lomas, of the Californian Technological Institute, will be revealing details of an invention, which he calls the Seismic Nullifier. He claims that, once the initial tell-tale tremors of an earthquake are detected, his device can actually prevent it from taking place."

"Thatís incredible!" gasped Magenta, "Imagine the lives itíll save."

"Does it work?" asked Grey, trying not to sound too cynical.

"Apparently it does work, Captain," sighed White. "Regardless, the Mysterons obviously think it will work and are posing this threat to us now. The downside of the device is that the same method it uses to stop earthquakes, can, in the wrong hands, be adapted to create an earthquake of any magnitude. I donít need to tell you how devastating this could be, should the Mysterons get control of either it or Professor Lomas."

"So we guard the Professor and his machine."

"Not quite, Captain Scarlet. We are to protect the Professor only. His device is under WAAF guard."

The assembled captains could barely contain their surprise that a security detail had been split between two organisations. There was something about the expression on Colonel Whiteís face, which told them not to question the situation.

"Sir, the conference is tomorrow, may I ask who is guarding him in the meantime?" Scarlet continued.

"We are, Captain. He arrived on Cloudbase a little over an hour ago."

"Sir?"

"Yes, Captain Scarlet?" White sighed.

"This is a little unusual. Why were we not given the whole story?" he voiced the concern of all of his colleagues around the Colonelís desk.

"I tell you what I know when Iím given the information, Captain. There have been numerous leaks within the Security Services and it was deemed necessary to wait until the last moment to give out details of this operation."

Scarlet didnít seem in the least impressed by the explanation. If it were true, Colonel White must have the patience of a saint, he thought. If someone believed the Colonel couldnít be trusted with the information, then they were seriously mistaken.

"The whereabouts of the Seismic Nullifier, however, are strictly under wraps for the time being."

"Colonel!" Ochre protested, "This is ridiculous!"

Scarlet was relieved someone else had said it. He was starting to get the distinct impression that the Colonel thought he was just causing trouble. Whiteís reaction to Ochreís outburst seemed to settle that question once and for all.

"I know, Captain Ochre," he glanced around the table, acknowledging Scarlet with a brief nod; he knew they all felt the same way. "But we have to live with this one. Thereís no way I can get any more information."

"Iíll bet the Mysterons know," replied Ochre harshly.

"Letís hope not, Captain."

"Will we get to meet the Professor before the Conference?" asked Grey trying to relieve the tension.

"Yes Captain, Iíll arrange an informal meeting in the Officersí Lounge, Iíd like you all to attend. Anyway, if nobody else has anything?"

There seemed an uneasy silence around the circular desk.

"Thank you, dismissed."

As the Captains left the Control Room, Scarlet eyed Grey on the way out, "Somethingís not right about this."

"Iím inclined to agree with you. If theyíre trying to confuse the Mysterons, theyíre wasting their time. Theyíre only going to make it harder for us."

"Like it needs to be made harder." Scarlet shrugged his shoulders.

 

***

 

The World Army Air Force Base NA742 was on full alert and yet strangely quiet. The activity seemed to be concentrated in certain areas with the occasional formation of J20 fighter jets over-flying the area. One of the areas of particular activity was the command centre. General Sommers was seated at his desk, with Major Wilson in attendance. Watching the videophone, he was clearly having a very heated discussion with a third party.

"I donít care, General Sommers!" came the stern voice of Colonel White, " Iím at a loss to understand the reasoning behind the operation being kept secret from the organisations providing the security!"

"Itís only being withheld from Spectrum, Colonel!" Sommers announced almost smugly. "The WAAF has been thoroughly briefed on the situation."

"I beg your pardon?!" Colonel White was livid, but somehow managing to keep his fury in check. The General detected something in his voice and attitude that suggested that despite his higher rank and sheer distance from Cloudbase, he should moderate his tone somewhat.

"I canít ignore my orders, Colonel. As much a I may think that Spectrum would like to know the details of the whole operation."

"Needs to know!" corrected Colonel White furiously.

"Itís not for me to speculate, Colonel, but maybe World President Younger has some doubts about some of the security issues youíre having with your men."

"I donít have any security issues with my men, General. Otherwise they wouldnít be Ďmy mení!"

The General took a deep heavy breath, "It wasnít my decision anyway Colonel, not that I think mine would have been any different. It was the World President himself." Then adding slyly, "Maybe heís fed up of being placed in personal danger at the hands of Spectrum!"

White, who knew it was a low blow to Captain Scarlet, retorted, "Thatís a fine way to talk about one of the WAAFís own ex-Colonels, General!"

Having his own comments turned on him like that infuriated General Sommers; he continued:

"If you want to know why information is being withheld from Spectrum, I suggest you contact the World President. But youíd better calm down first, because right now, I donít think he believes the Spectrum experiment has worked."

"Spectrum is not an experiment!" the Colonel fumed.

"Suit yourself Colonel, but as I said, youíd better not yell at him like that, because right now, I think heíll shut you down."

"Thank you for your advice, General," White spoke through clenched teeth.

The conversation ended. Colonel White was bristling with anger; he slammed a fist on the console in frustration and sighed heavily. When White looked up, he saw Lieutenant Green staring at him thoroughly shocked.

"You didnít hear that conversation, Lieutenant," said Colonel White grimly.

"Yes Colonel," Green replied quietly.

"Ask Professor Lomas if heíd join me for a drink before dinner," Whiteís demeanour seemed to change suddenly. "I want to have an informal chat with him about a few things." White continued nodding to himself.

"Pardon me Colonel, Sir," Green began tentatively, "But have we done something wrong?"

"I donít know, Lieutenant," White admitted, "certainly nobody has spoken to me about any problems, this is the first indication of it."

"I donít believe it myself Sir, but could they be worried about a Mysteron takeover of Spectrum?"

"Lieutenant?"

"Captains Scarlet, Sir," Green lowered his eyes. "Does the World President still believe heís a Mysteron Agent?"

"Itís a theory I canít ignore Lieutenant, although like you, I know it to be nonsense." Rising from his seat, White added, "I donít want Captain Scarlet hearing about this, Lieutenant, and if it comes to it, Iíll back him to the hilt."

"Even if it means the end of Spectrum?"

"Lieutenant, Iím going to back my men and defend this organisation to the bitter end if need be and I wonít have bureaucrats and sedentary generals sticking their noses in. If they want to bring down Spectrum, theyíre going to have to get me first and that wonít be easy!" White fumed. "And Lieutenant?"

"Yes Colonel?" asked Green.

"You definitely didnít hear me say that!"

"S.I.G. Colonel!" Green replied, cheered by his commanders rousing words.

 

***

 

The Spectrum captains had made their way to the Officersí Lounge, it would be some time before they would meet their mysterious guest, but the chance to discuss the current threat seemed irresistible. Scarlet flopped down in an armchair and lifted his booted feet onto a stool, relaxing back into the soft leather. His mind seemed to be elsewhere, at first he didnít hear Captain Grey addressing him.

"Paul?" he nudged Scarletís raised feet, leaning across opposite him on the sofa, Grey repeated his question, "What do you thinks going on?"

"I donít know," Scarlet shook his head thoughtfully, "something very odd."

"Itís absolutely ridiculous, thatís what it is!" exclaimed an incensed Ochre, pacing across the room, hands clasped tightly behind his back. The former detective couldnít get his head around the infuriating lack of information. "How can we maintain proper security with only partial facts? If we want to know whatís going on, weíve got more chance of finding out by asking a Mysteron than our own Commander!"

Ochre continued to pace up and down, unable to relax. It was true, Ochre could be annoying, he could be irritating, especially to Scarlet whose will could be equally as strong and inflexible when the mood took him. But at this precise moment, there wasnít a man in the room who disagreed with him Ė Ochre was simply correct.

"I just donít understand," complained Scarlet, "if Spectrum had been new or anyone thought that there was some sort of internal threat Iíd understand. It just doesnít make sense. Unless," he blanched, "itís because of me," he finished quietly.

"Hey!" Magenta called, his voice serious, yet edged with sympathy. "You donít have to prove anything to us, we know you."

"Thanks," murmured Scarlet, smiling weakly.

Scarlet had been through Hell, especially with that damned Spectrum Intelligence Agent Conners. What was wrong with that man? After Scarlet had been injected with the truth serum XK3, it had taken all of Captain Blueís restraint not to march in and physically throw Agent Conners from Sickbay at his treatment of him. They were all certain that any future incident requiring the involvement of Spectrum Intelligence would have Conners gunning for them all. He was just that sort of nasty, vindictive man. Scarlet shuddered at the memory of it.

Captain Magenta had watched Scarletís reaction with concern. He couldnít tell exactly what his friend had been thinking but the distracted and pained expression told him that there were some very fresh wounds yet to be healed.

"Thereís no way this can be anything to do with you, Paul." Ochre smiled reassuringly.

"But what if it is?!" Scarlet persisted.

"Well if it is, then theyíre idiots!"

Scarlet smiled warmly at the support from Ochre and the other captains nodding and vocalising their agreement. It really meant a lot that they trusted him.

 

***

 

The WASP base, Aquanaut, stood on the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Within, preparations were being made to equip an Atomic Submarine for a mission to Hawaii. Tomorrow, it would first make its way to a secret rendezvous point to meet a seaplane carrying the precious cargo of Professor Lomasí Seismic Nullifier. There it would be transferred to the submarine and secretly transported to the conference. At the same time, a WAAF LF23 Bomber, supposedly carrying the device would be launched and would fly to Hawaii acting merely as a decoy.

Professor Lomas had been informed only that the LF23 Bomber would transport his machine. General Sommers had been particularly happy about this detail. It ensured that if Colonel White managed to get any information out of the unsuspecting Lomas, then it would be useless to him.

In the submarineís engineering room a young officer finishing a routine inspection suddenly stiffened as a voice echoed in his mind.

"Lieutenant Mitchell," began the cold, emotionless voice, "This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. You are to sabotage the atomic submarine SR147. It must be destroyed before it reaches the rendezvous point. You know what to do."

"The Mysteron instructions will be carried out."

Captain Black was standing near a rocky enclave in cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Soon the submarine and the Seismic Nullifier would be under Mysteron control. Did the Earthmen really believe the Mysterons could be fooled that easily?

"Hey Mitchell!" a voice called, "You seem a bit out of it there, you ok?"

There was a pause, but no reply.

"Doug! Can you hear me? Itís me Sam. Are you ok?" he repeated, taking him gently by the shoulders.

Mitchell raised his eyes in a cold stare making the Senior Hydrophones Operator, Lieutenant Sam Warren, feel like they were burning right through him. Letting go of Mitchellís shoulders, Warren took a step back with a slight gasp. A movement of Mitchellís arm caught his eye along with the glint of metal. Glancing down, Warren saw the gun pointed directly at him.

"Doug, whatÖ" was all he managed to say before the bullet penetrated his chest and back, embedding itself in the wall behind him. It took his breath away, and with it his voice. He was dead before he hit the floor. Green circles followed the contours of his lifeless body.

 

***

 

Captain Blue laid the suitcase on the bed and smiled with satisfaction as he glanced around the room. Very nice, he thought. He removed the photo frame from his pocket and placed it gently down on the bedside cabinet. Gazing down at the picture of his beloved Symphony, Blue smiled, relaxed and happy. Away from the tension of Cloudbase, it made sense. Yes he would propose to her, some romantic setting, perhaps a beautiful sunset, he had a couple of days yet to find the perfect place. Scarlet was right, the pair adored each other, everything would be fine. Looking out of the window, Blue saw the breathtaking view of the ocean with the sun about to set, the sky a mixture of pinks and reds. Perhaps now would be a good time for a stroll down to the beach.

 

***

 

Colonel White welcomed his guest into his private quarters. It was a sociable thing to do, but the Colonel had an ulterior motive for doing so. If the powers that be had decided to restrict Spectrumís clearance on the security of this mission then he would do his best to find out another way.

"Thank you for inviting me Colonel, I admit, Iíve felt a little lonely in my quarters."

"Itís my pleasure," replied the Colonel with a slight pang of guilt, "Iíll introduce you to my senior officers later."

"Ah yes, although they are all on the news so often, I feel Iíve met them already!"

The Colonel smiled. They were good officers, they didnít deserve the mistrust they were now receiving, "What can I get you to drink, Professor?"

"A scotch if you have it, and please call me William."

"Iíll not if thatís alright with you. It would seem rude somehow, as Iím afraid I canít give you my name, Spectrum rules forbid us to reveal our identities."

"Like Super Heroes!" smiled Professor Lomas, "Quite fitting! I understand."

"So, tell me, how does your machine work?" White indicated a comfortable chair in which the professor took a seat.

"Itís quite simple really, you detect the initial tremors of an earthquake. Very much like waves in the sea, earthquakes have fixed wavelengths, naturally, they differ between each other, but one specific earthquake will have a very definite and identifiable wavelength. That discovered, you really only have to use that signature against itself. Aiming at the epicentre, you recreate the wave, but half a step behind thus cancelling the wave out. This is maintained until the cause of the quake dies down. We may one day be able to stop the causes but until then, Iím hoping that this device will save lives by catching it at the very early stages."

"Thatís incredible Professor, how long did it take you to invent?"

Iíve been working on this in some form or another most of my working life. Itís something I hope will be truly worthwhile."

"Iím sure it will. Is there a special reason that the conference is being held in Hawaii?"

"I donít know, Colonel, it was at the request of the World President. Iíd assumed heíd discussed it with you and General Sommers, to come up with a suitably secure site, after all heís going to be there to see it himself."

"Of course," replied White, trying to hide his frustration that a civilian had been given such sensitive information. Once this was all over, heads would roll. "Iím sure the President has every confidence in his security services to make any venue safe."

"Is it typical for the security arrangements to be spread over so many different organisations Colonel?"

"It depends on the operation," lied White. "Absolute secrecy must be maintained and it is sometimes necessary to divert attention from one area by involving a number of organisations."

"General Sommers is very proud of the arrangements heís made. He was quite insistent that it was actually a good idea that I fly separately from my invention. It isnít a large machine, Colonel, quite small in fact. The idea that itís going to rattle around inside an LF23 Bomber is quite unsettling."

"Iím sure theyíll be very careful with it Professor," White smiled reassuringly. At least now, he knew a little more of what would happen the next day.

 

***

 

Scarlet woke to the incessant banging on the door to his quarters. Tired and a little irritable, he pushed back the covers on his bed and got up. The banging continued.

"Alright, Iím coming," he grumbled, reaching for the light.

Opening the door, he peered into the darkness of the corridor; there was nobody there. Scarlet was puzzled, he certainly hadnít dreamt it. There was no more time to think about it as something had loomed quickly out of the darkness and forced him backwards into his room. Losing his balance at the sudden and unexpected attack, Scarlet stumbled and fell to the floor. His assailant entered and shut the door.

"Oh! Paul, Iím sorry!" Magenta reached a hand down to help him up.

"What are you doing Pat, itís gone three in the morning." Scarlet looked up and noticed Magenta was still in uniform, "Have you had any sleep at all?"

"No, I canít sleep," he admitted.

"So you thought youíd get me up."

"Oh come on Paul, you know you donít need much sleep these days."

"Itíd be nice though," he sighed. "Whatís on your mind?"

"Iíve got a friend, well friendís not the word. We still keep in touch, sort of..."

"Patrick!" Scarlet admonished.

"Ok, Paul, Iím worried. Thereís going to be an attempt on the Professorís life tomorrow."

"It wouldnít surprise me in the slightest, thatís why weíre going to be there," Scarlet sighed.

"No you donít understand, I know there is! The Conference Centreís been packed with explosives."

"Surely the World Army squads will find all this?"

"No Paul, theyíre not going to be found either! The bombs, to all intents and purposes, look like rock samples, nobodyís going to give them a second glance."

"We have to let them know! Come on."

"No!" cried Magenta suddenly.

Scarlet turned to look squarely at his fellow officer.

"Why not, Pat?"

"Because Iíd have to say how I found out and I canít." Magenta lowered his head.

"Patrick, are you still in touch with, shall I say, your former colleagues?"

Magenta nodded slowly, "I know Paul, I know. But some of them are decent guys, and they keep meÖinformed."

"Do they know youíre a Spectrum Officer?!" Scarlet asked, horrified.

"No! Oh God, no." he replied hastily, then looked down sheepishly, "They think Iíve escaped from prison."

Scarlet tried to suppress the laugh but found he simply couldnít. Magenta looked up at his friend and laughed too.

"I donít know, Pat," began Scarlet.

Magenta merely shrugged and offered a cheeky lopsided grin.

Scarlet couldnít help but smile.

"Ok. So, what then? We take a helicopter and check it out?"

"We should let the Colonel know."

"Canít get him up at this hour. Plus isnít he going to ask how you know?"

"Well, yes, but isnít it going to look a bit suspicious anyway?"

"Are you worried what people will think?"

"Yes, of course I am!"

Scarlet sighed and nodded, "Look weíll let Lieutenant Green know, that should do it."

"Itís Sienna tonight, Greenís off duty."

"Even better, act like itís standard procedure, itíll be fine."

It wasnít long before Scarlet and Magenta were settled into a Spectrum Helicopter, Sienna giving them permission for take off.

"I canít believe Sienna didnít query it with the Colonel," said Magenta, relieved.

"Thatís confidence for you. Letís get going, maybe if we can sort this out Ė we can say we were playing a hunch, eh?"

"Thanks Paul."

Landing at he Conference Centre, Scarlet turned to Magenta, "Theyíre not expecting us, so we wonít get long before the Colonel is in touch with us."

"Iím glad youíre sure about this," admitted Magenta, "Youíre better at the risk side than I am."

"No Pat, what can the Colonel do to me? Put me before a firing squad?"

"He can strip you of your rank."

"If I believe that someoneís life is at risk, I have to act as I see fit."

"I just donít want you to get into trouble on my account."

"Letís go in," Scarlet replied grinning.

It was difficult for Magenta to remain so worried with Scarletís experience and enthusiasm bubbling through.

Using their Spectrum passes and Scarletís bluffing to get them through the World Army security plus Magentaís information to find the explosives, it wasnít long before the two Spectrum Officers had found the disguised rocks and exposed the plan to blow the Conference Centre to oblivion. Reporting to Cloudbase, Scarlet took pride in showing Spectrumís initiative; it shouldnít be necessary to explain where their information came from.

"Excuse me, Captain," a young WA Sergeant stood next to Scarlet and having waited for him to finish his report, attracted his attention.

"Yes Sergeant?" asked Scarlet, relieved that the situation seemed to be resolved.

"My Commander has requested an interview with you and Captain Magenta, Sir."

"Yes, Sergeant, lead the way."

Sergeant Willis, led the two captains down winding corridors to what they assumed was near to the rear of the Conference Centre. Willis stood back and indicated the door to the two Spectrum Officers.

"Thank you Sergeant," Scarlet knocked on the door, and receiving a reply, pushed it open.

Scarlet was no sooner through the door before his senses were assaulted. The same dizziness he often felt when Mysterons were near washed over him. It wasnít the only thing that assaulted him; he was doubled over in moments as a length of an iron bar hit him violently in the stomach. Dropping to his knees, he held himself upright with his right hand as he fiercely struggled for breath. Scarlet hadnít even the opportunity to glance at his attacker before the bar was brought down viciously on his back. Slumping heavily to the floor, Scarlet knew no more. Still in the corridor, Magenta was pinned to the wall with a gun to his chest. Ushered at gunpoint into the room, Magenta saw Scarlet unconscious on the floor and immediately dropped to his side.

The Mysteronised Commander tossed some rope to Magenta. "Tie him up," he ordered.

Magenta got to his feet defiantly, throwing the rope to the floor and glaring angrily at the Commander.

"Very heroic, but youíll be no use to him or anyone else if I kill you."

Magenta refused to move.

"Very well." The Commander lifted his gun to Magentaís head, then without warning dropped the gun to point at Scarletís back.

"No!"

"I donít understand you Earthman," the Commander smiled, "You know heíll recover but you wonít. Youíre ready to die, but you wonít see him injured, even temporarily."

Magenta didnít reply, he could only stare at Scarletís prone form.

"Tie him up," the Commander repeated, "and do it properly. If I check it and itís escapable, Iíll kill you both."

Magenta picked up the rope silently and bound Scarletís hands behind his back. Weaving a complex pattern with the rope without really seeming to give it much thought, it was clear it was something heíd done many times before, and whenever he had, nobody had ever escaped. He moved on to his ankles and secured them quickly. The Commander checked the bindings and raised his eyebrows.

"Youíre wasted at Spectrum, Captain," he said impressed at Magentaís handiwork. "Of course, you probably know we only need Scarlet, you will be staying here."

Almost as if the timing were pre-arranged, right on cue Magenta felt pain searing through his head and down his neck, it would be the last thing he would feel for almost an hour.

 

***

 

Colonel White called a meeting with Captains Grey and Ochre. He relayed the details of the early morning raid completed by Scarlet and Magenta. But as they had not yet returned, it did mean that Ochre and Grey were now assigned to the task of transporting Professor Lomas to the conference. Once they had handed over successfully, the detail could continue as originally planned with Grey and Scarlet in attendance for the duration of the conference.

It was at that moment that Lieutenant Green received a call from the injured Magenta.

"Colonel, I have Captain Magenta on line for you."

"Thank you Lieutenant," acknowledged White, expecting to hear a final account of the nightís work, together with a confirmation that all was well to proceed. It couldnít have been further from the truth. "Go ahead Captain Magenta."

"Iím sorry Colonel," it was obvious, just by listening to his voice that something was very wrong, his voice was shaky and hesitant, "The Commander and his Aide were Mysteron Agents, theyíve taken Captain Scarlet."

"Do you know where theyíve taken him, Captain?" White asked concerned.

"No, Colonel, they knocked me out, I donít know how longÖ.IÖ" Magenta felt sick, very sick, "IÖ" he tried to continue but couldnít. Darkness closed over his eyes and he sank to the floor again.

"Captain Magenta?!" the Colonel almost shouted. "Lieutenant?"

"His channel is open, Colonel, Iíd guess heís lost consciousness."

White could see Grey and Ochre poised to stand, desperate to find their friends, but awaiting their orders.

"The conference wonít be starting today after all, gentlemen. Captain Grey, find any clues you can on where they may have taken Scarlet and get Magenta to Doctor Fawn. Captain Ochre, find Captain Blue and recall him to duty. Iíll explain to Professor Lomas."

"Sir!" both officers replied rising and racing from the room.

"Lieutenant, get me General Sommers."

A few minutes later, General Sommers voice came through the Control Room speakers.

"Yes, Colonel, I trust everything is going according to plan."

"I donít know, General, you seem to have seen to it that Spectrum have been left out of the planning for this operation. Nevertheless, my officers have found enough explosives in the Conference Centre to raze it to the ground."

"Colonel?" Sommers was shocked, "But the Conference Centre was checked. I donít understand."

"Regardless," White dismissed his reply, he knew it was a cheap victory but it satisfied something within him. "I have an officer down and another missing, captured by Mysteronised WA troops. I cannot guarantee the safety of Professor Lomas, he will remain on Cloudbase until I have secured the safety of my men."

"Our side of the operation is already in progress Colonel. I am quite happy to provide additional troops to assure the safety of the Professor. Thereís no reason for everything not to proceed, please deliver the Professor to the Conference Centre as originally planned."

"Did you not hear me, General, the Mysterons have infiltrated WA forces at the Conference Centre and attacked two of my officers."

"Yes, I heard you Colonel, now did you hear me. Bring the Professor as planned, even if you canít assure his safety, I can! This mission will not fall through because of Spectrum incompetence."

"General, I cannot and will not accept that!"

"Very well, weíll see what the World President thinks, shall we? In the meantime, we have an LF23 Bomber, for which you promised an escort. I trust you will at least honour this commitment?"

"Iíll launch the Angels, General. Please give the Lieutenant your coordinates and flight plan."

 

***

 

Captain Blue rose early; it was still dark in fact. Looking out of the window, he could see that he would be in time to view the sunrise. He wondered how wise it had been choosing to take his vacation in Hawaii. He hadnít known about the conference when he booked it and when he found out, was so scared of being roped into it, that he had lied about his destination. They all thought he had been heading for Cairns in Australia. All save for two people, Scarlet and Symphony. Even Melody, didnít know, she had taken the Captain to the airport to catch his flight but had not suspected that heíd be flying in the opposite direction to that which she thought. After showering, Blue dressed and headed for the beach to watch the sunrise. Well, he convinced himself, it was only half a lie. He had intended to go to Cairns but at the last minuteÖwell Hawaii was one of Symphonyís favourite places.

 

***

 

Lieutenant Green studied his computer screen carefully; the report didnít seem to make much sense.

"Colonel, the WASP base Aquanaught has reported a temporary cut in contact with their atomic submarine SR147 and a loss in radar. They say itís back now, but they thought we ought to know. Iíve tried to get them to be more specific Sir, but they just keep saying we ought to know."

"Odd," replied the Colonel thoughtfully. "Monitor the situation Lieutenant."

 

***

 

Five miles out into the Pacific the submarine SR147 had stopped awaiting its rendezvous with the WAAF seaplane carrying its secret cargo of the Seismic Nullifier. Meanwhile overhead three Angel Interceptors roared passed in unwitting escort to the decoy aircraft.

Aboard the submarine, still bound hand and foot, Scarlet groaned softly as he started to wake. His retro-metabolism had restored his bruised bones to health, but he never did recover well from a beating like that; he would still ache and feel groggy at first. As he started to come to, his eyes focussed on a pair of boots several feet away, turning his head to follow them to their ownerís face, he saw the pallid features of Captain Black smirking down at him. Trying instinctively for his gun, Scarlet found his movement restricted by the ropes about his wrists and ankles. He sighed heavily, remembering how heíd walked blindly into the trap.

"So, Conrad," Scarlet shuffled himself into a seated position, trying to discreetly work free of the rope around his wrists. "Have you ever considered just inviting me?"

The dry humour was lost on Captain Black who merely continued to stare at his captive.

"What do you want?" Scarlet asked, unnerved by Blackís silence.

"Do you really need to ask Captain?"

"It seems I do," replied Scarlet flatly.

"By the way," Black ignored him and continued in a matter-of-fact tone, "you wonít get free of those ropes, Captain Magenta appears to be very adept at that. I guess thatís his background coming to the fore again. Plus, he does what heís told and he does it well."

"Forced more likely!"

"Then why isnít he dead or lying right next to you?"

"No, youíre lying. I donít believe Magentaís working for you!"

"As you wish," replied Black casually. "You know very well Scarlet, I may do many things, but I havenít lied to you, I donít need to."

As much as he hated to admit it, he knew Black was telling the truth. What he didnít realise was that whilst the statement itself was true, the suggestion it placed in Scarletís mind was wholly false.

"Where is he? Is he here?" Scarlet asked bitterly. It seemed impossible that Magenta had placed him back in Blackís hands; could he really be acting willingly for the Mysterons?

"No, heíll be back on Cloudbase by now I should think."

"Cloudbase?" Scarlet was alarmed at the news.

"Anyway, I think itís time to get on with our mission." Black turned to leave.

"Youíll forgive me if I donít get up," quipped Scarlet sarcastically.

Black took a final look at Scarlet still seated on the floor, a cruel smile played across his lips. Without warning Black turned and delivered a sharp and brutal kick to Scarletís ankles. The blow lifted his feet and shoved his legs to one side; Scarlet spun and finally fell heavily on his side, hitting his bare head on the cold metal floor as he did. Scarlet grimaced, refusing Black the satisfaction of his obvious pain.

"Not at all." he replied, then continued, "Oh, and to save you the worry that you might have lost it, I have relieved you of this." Slightly dazed, Scarlet looked up to see Black holding his Spectrum Personal Tracker. "I may activate it," Black mused, turning it between his fingers, "then jettison it." he laughed to himself as he left the room, locking the door behind him.

Scarlet lifted himself into a sitting position again, he gazed at the ropes about his ankles and sighed, if the ones on his wrists were even half as complex, heíd stand no chance of getting free, but he had to try.

 

***

 

"Colonel, I have the World President on the line for you, Sir."

"Thank you Lieutenant, put him on." This is it; this is where Spectrum is disbanded, thought White miserably.

"Colonel White," began the World President sombrely. "I have an apology to offer you and itís my sincere hope that you accept."

"Sir?" White replied clearly surprised by the Presidentís address to him.

"Colonel, I allowed myself to believe that there were security problems with Spectrum. What Iíve learned today leaves me in no doubt that yours is the only organisation that should have been involved in this delicate matter. As it is itís all gone horribly wrong."

"Mr President, whatís happened?"

"As you know, your men found the security at the Conference Centre sadly lacking and risked their lives to clear the danger. I understand you have a man missing and another in the infirmary?"

"Yes Sir."

"It gets worse Colonel, the bomber that you escorted to Hawaii was merely a decoy. The device was being shipped to the island on board a submarine which left the WASP base Aquanaught some hours ago."

"The SR147?"

"Yes Colonel, how did you know?"

"We had a report that they had temporarily lost contact with it."

"The remains of the original submarine have now been found about four miles out of the base. This can only mean that the Seismic Nullifier was transferred onto a Mysteron reconstruction of the submarine."

"I see," Colonel White considered the weight of the problem. "It is imperative therefore that Professor Lomas not be allowed to leave Cloudbase, I imagine that the Conference Centre being rigged with explosives was their main plan for getting to him, Iím sure theyíll try again."

"Colonel, I canít tell you how much I regret mistrusting Spectrum. I guarantee you my full support, you must stop this latest Mysteron threat."

"Weíll do our best, Mr President."

"Yes Colonel, thank you."

It was a pleasure for White to hear that heíd been vindicated, but Spectrum had been left with a mess to sort out. Scarlet had been captured, Magenta in Sickbay with a concussion. He had to recall Captain Blue.

 

***

 

Captain Blue sighed as he saw the first signs of what he hoped would be a beautiful sunrise, having walked along the beach, he settled himself on a sprawling group of wave-beaten rocks to watch. It was so peaceful, sitting listening to the waves lapping softly on the sand, not a soul in sight Ė he thought.

"You picked a bad time," a voice behind him said gruffly.

"What?" Blueís head spun, "Rick? What are youÖoh no! Iím being recalled arenít I? Did Paul tell you where I was?"

"No, Symphony. We all thought you were in Cairns. The Colonelís furious with you, it took us ages to find out where you were." Ochre settled himself on rocks beside Blue.

"But Paul knew," Blue replied somewhat puzzled. "If it was such an emergency, surely heíd have said."

Ochre drew back and lowered his eyes, "The Mysteronís have got him. They attacked him and Magenta at the Conference Centre."

"The Mysterons? Weíre on alert? How long? Why didnít you come for me sooner? Howís Pat?" Blue was now getting to his feet.

"Easy Blue! How many of those do you think I can remember? Magentaís In Sickbay, heís got a pretty nasty concussion, he hasnít woken up for more than a few minutes yet."

"But the conference? I donít understand, I thought Grey was going not Magenta." Seeing Ochre remaining seated made Blue feel tense; they had to get back to Cloudbase.

"Look, stay calm! The Mysterons threatened the conference, they got the Seismic Nullifier, but not the Professor, heís still on Cloudbase."

"What ARE you talking about?" replied the frustrated Blue wearing a puzzled frown.

Ochre looked up at the still standing Captain Blue. For a moment or two, both expressions mirrored each other. Then for Ochre, realisation dawned.

"Oh right, you werenít there. Sorry Blue I forgot. The conference was being held for a guy called Professor Lomas to talk about a machine heíd invented called a Seismic Nullifier."

Blue looked at him blankly awaiting an explanation.

"It can prevent earthquakes," Ochre continued. "But it can start them too, in the wrong hands."

"And the Mysterons have got it!" Blue shook his head gloomily, "And Scarlet?"

"They got him at the Conference Centre whilst he was clearing the bombs."

"Bombs? Hey, give me a break, Rick!" Blue found it hard to keep up, "You talk like I should know all this already!"

"Well maybe if you hadnít disappeared, you would have done!"

"IÖthe Colonelís really that mad at me?"

"Iíve only ever seen him worse with Scarlet."

"Oh great!" Blue knew it was a mistake to try to fool the Colonel.

"Two weeks Radar duty for you my friend!" Ochre grinned.

Blue shot him a withering look, but Ochre wasnít going to be denied, he could only grin back at him.

It was then that they started to notice the tiniest of vibrations through the rocks on which they stood. Ochre put his hand to the rock and stared at Blue with a puzzled expression.

"This rockísÖbuzzing." he commented, perplexed.

"What do you mean?" Blue now felt it too, "Oh, yes. What on Earth is it?"

It was a lot lighter now, they looked about for some clue, perhaps some sort of machinery in the area would explain it. Ochre pointed to the sand below their feet, it seemed almost to bounce. Mesmerised by the strange motion they stared for a few moments. The shaking gradually became increasingly more violent, the sand started to shift in sections, far quicker than they had thought possible.

"It..Itís an earthquake!" Blue couldnít believe his eyes. He glanced up, Ochre was returning his incredulous gaze.

"ButÖ.Oh God! Itís the Seismic Nullifier! The Mysterons!" cried Ochre; "They must be nearby, I wonder what the range is on that thing?"

"Contact Cloudbase, the Professor should be able to tell us."

 

Captain Black forced the periscope back into its stand by position, he was furious. Turning to the Submarine Captain standing next to him with a cold unfeeling stare, he growled through clenched teeth.

"Captain Quinlan! You assured me that nobody was there!"

"Iím sorry Captain Black," the Mysteronised WASP Captain replied, "We looked. They were in the rocks, we didnít see them."

"I donít want to hear your excuses, Captain! We canít afford to have anybody aware of our presence here. Do you realise how close to WASP, WAAF and Spectrum bases we are at the moment. You know theyíre looking for us and you mess up like this! We can bring the Earth to its knees with this machine and you risk everything on a brief glance!"

"We can surface, kill them. Theyíre far from the road, with the sand as it is at the moment; theyíre trapped on the rocks. They wonít be able to tell anyone." The Captain tried desperately to redeem himself with his Mysteron Commander.

"You do that, Captain," Black spoke in a threatening tone. "Turn the Nullifier as high as you can without disrupting our ascent, we must make sure they donít escape."

Ochre and Blue looked around at the violently shifting sand below them, realising they were stuck there until the tremors subsided, hoping desperately that the rocks themselves didnít start to crumble.

"Captain Ochre," White began, "Have you located Captain Blue yet?"

"Yes Colonel, but we believe weíre under attack."

"You believe?"

"Weíre on the beach Colonel, thereís an Earthquake. We donít think itís naturally occurring."

"Iíll get the Professor, he can advise you. Stand by."

"Stand by," muttered Ochre grimly to himself, "We can barely stand at all!"

The whole area was now shaking violently, Blue and Ochre gripped the rocks for dear life, fearful of being dislodged and falling to the sand below, which threatened to engulf them. The vibrations caused by the Nullifier had affected the waves now, gentle lapping had been replaced by crashing surf making it all the more difficult to hold on.

"Blue!" the soaked Ochre shouted against the raging noise around them, "My radiocapís shorted, Iíve lost contact with Cloudbase."

Blue glanced up at Ochre. How much worse could their luck get? He was about to find out as a wave hit him, lifting him clear of the rocks. As he crashed back down, his left hand lost its grip on the slippery rock and was swept down with the cascading water. Letting out a cry of horror, Blue clung on desperately with only his right hand.

"Adam! Hold on! Iím coming!" Ochreís words were lost in the noise of the raging sea and sand.

One-handed, Ochre clung desperately to the rocks, lest they both fall. He extended his right hand to his fellow officer, who, managing to swing around, grabbed it thankfully. Between them, Blue was hauled once more to safety.

"I owe you one," sighed Blue relieved.

As the minutes passed, Blue and Ochre could only hold on grimly. Battered by the waves, cold and wet, they wondered how long it would be before the rocks below them gave way. They could not have known that the movement of the sand and sea was greatly exaggerated due to their natural fluidity and by the proximity of the Seismic Nullifier. The rocks they clung to so desperately were safe enough, so long as the pair held fast. Ochreís arms were growing tired , he had strained a muscle pulling Captain Blue back up the side of the promontory and it was starting to complain at the continued rough treatment.

"Sir," Captain Quinlan addressed Black.

"Yes Captain?" Black growled with more than a hint of annoyance in his tone.

"We are about to break the surface Sir. Itís quite rough up there. If weíre to surface safely, weíll have to switch off the device."

"Wonít they escape if we do that Captain?"

"I donít think so Sir. The aftershocks should keep the sand moving long after weíve surfaced. We can keep them pinned down until we can get a dinghy out to them."

"I wasnít planning on bringing them aboard Captain. Kill them." Black ordered coldly.

"Well Sir, weíve had another lookÖ."

"And?" Black was growing tired of having to constantly prompt him for replies.

"One of the men is wearing a Spectrum uniform, Sir."

Black looked up, his expression thoughtful, even calculating. Slowly his eyes narrowed, he took a deep breath and smiled to himself, a look of pure malice seemed to seize him.

"What colour uniform?" he asked finally.

"From this distance itís quite hard to say, but we believe itís Captain Ochre, Sir."

"Ochre?" he glanced approvingly at his Captain. "Yes, Captain, bring him aboard. Find out who the other man is, use your judgement."

"Yes Sir!" Quinlan was relieved to have apparently regained the approval of his Commander; that was until Black turned to him again.

"Quinlan," Black paused leaning closer to the Captains worried face, "itís very important that you get this right. The Mysterons do not tolerate mistakes."

The threat was not lost on Quinlan, who readied his crew for the capture of another Spectrum agent.

It was with some considerable relief that the drenched Captains noticed the waves starting to subside. The sand below them, however, was still in turmoil, but at least there was no immediate threat of being swept into the danger below them. The two Spectrum Captains sat up and watched everything start to return to normal around them.

"What do you think? Trial run?" asked Ochre.

"Well, they didnít get the professor so I guess they want to make sure they could work it ok. Whatís up, Rick?" asked Blue as he noticed Ochre holding his right wrist and trying to flex his fingers.

"Pulled something," Ochre scowled, "and holding onto those rocks so tight, just a bit achy."

"Can you move it?"

"Some." Ochre became suddenly distracted and irritable, "Gonna have to shoot left handed for a bit."

"Weíll get Doctor Fawn to look at it when we get back to Cloudbase. Itís calming down a bit now, we should be able toÖÖ." Blueís voice trailed off and his eyes widened as, not far out to sea, he spotted the black looming silhouette of the SR147 atomic submarine re-surfacing.

"Adam, whatÖ.?" Ochre followed the line of Blueís gaze, "Do you think theyíve seen us?"

"I donít know, I donít want to wait to find out either." Blue looked down from their rocky perch, the sand was still very unforgiving and would be impossible to cross safely. He raised his eyes again to look directly at Ochre, "Thereís no way we can get across that. Any ideas?"

Ochre looked around, there seemed only three options, the sand the sea and the rocks behind them. Ochre shook his head slowly as he considered the only option available to them.

"If they know weíre here, thatís the only way," he replied pointing to the area of treacherous looking rocks, cliffs and caves behind them.

"Except, thatís a dead end, weíd be trapped."

"We already are, Blue!"

It was a painful reality to face; the two Spectrum officers agreed a possible escape route then flattened themselves against the rocks in the hope that they had not been seen. Their slim hopes were dashed when two men climbed through the submarine hatch and opened fire.

 

***

 

Scarlet flopped down on his side again, hot and tired. He wasnít sure heíd got any further with the ropes; they still felt every bit as secure as they were the moment he had woken up.

"Damn you Magenta! Iíll kill you myself."

He was distracted from his angry thoughts by the sound of the door opening, Black stepped into the room.

"Still here I see," mocked Black, alluding to Scarletís frequent and apparently miraculous escapes.

Scarlet didnít respond, he was starting to feel the first inklings of despair. He had been unable to even loosen the ropes and nobody knew he was there. It didnít look good. Sitting up again, Scarlet appeared somewhat dishevelled from his exertions. There was a faint look of despondency in his eyes.

"What do you want?" Even his voice seemed to lack the confident edge it always had.

Unexpectedly, Black eased himself onto the floor. Propping himself up against the wall, he drew his knees up and rested his arms across them.

"Paul?"

Scarlet stared amazed. Instead of the lifeless, droning Mysteron voice, the man seated casually opposite was using Conrad Turnerís voice; the real Captain Black, his friend.

"Is this some sort of trick?" Scarlet refused to be drawn.

"No, Paul," Conrad looked down at his feet, "they want ME to talk to you."

Scarlet narrowed his eyes, it was clear he wasnít convinced by this Mysteron Ďtrickí, they were trying to grind him down, he was sure. Thatís right, wait until heís feeling low and strike at a deep emotion. It wasnít going to work, he thought defiantly, Paul Metcalfe is stronger than that!

"Please, just hear me out Paul. I havenít got much time and itís been so long since Iíve spoken to anyone, let alone a friend."

There was a very distinct catch in his voice and he sounded so very tired and lonely. Even if he didnít trust him, Scarlet thought, could it hurt to listen? It was then he realised what it was that didnít seem to fit right; where was Blackís familiar pallor? He looked so much like Conrad, oh how Scarlet wanted it to be him! Was it possible?

"What is itÖConrad?" Scarlet finally conceded.

The man seated opposite, smiled, relieved and grateful, "They want me to explain," he sighed, "they think youíre more likely to listen to me thanÖ." he put his head on one side as he thought of what to say, "than Captain Black."

"Are you more likely to untie me than Captain Black?"

Conrad smiled again and got to his feet, "Yes, sorry."

He had almost reached Scarlet when he gripped his temples and fell to his knees. "Oh God, no! Please, no!" he screamed, much to Scarletís alarm.

"Conrad! What are they doing?" he shouted back, infuriated at his inability to help.

Conrad was unable to hear him, there were simply too many voices, too much pain, he doubled over and cried out, "You want him to trust you, let me do this one thing!" he gasped for breath through the stifling pain.

"Leave him alone! Stop it!" with nothing to focus on, Scarlet shouted into the air.

As suddenly as it started, Conrad fell silent, his face was once again pale, but it seemed a natural draining of colour, rather than Blackís deathly pale complexion. He appeared to be listening to something.

"Itís ok. Iím ok," he nodded at Scarlet. Still on his knees, he shuffled behind him and started to untie the rope about Scarletís wrists.

"Could you have pulled these knots any tighter Paul? I may have to cut them off."

Scarlet pulled away, his head spun to eye the man suspiciously.

"Iím sorry, I wasnít thinking." Conrad gently pulled Scarletís hands nearer to him, "If it were the other way around, I wouldnít want you behind me with a knife either. Anyway, there, Iíve got it now."

Scarlet rubbed his chaffed wrists briefly then set to work releasing his ankles. Conrad resumed his position in front of Scarlet.

"They want to find out how you escaped from them."

"Why, to make sure it doesnít happen again?" Scarlet bit his lip, how could he have been so thoughtless?

Conrad nodded silently, not raising his head after the final nod.

"Conrad?" Scarlet was hesitant, "I donít know what happened, I donít even remember most of it. But they must know that even if I did, I wouldnít tell them."

"I donít blame you." Conrad admitted.

The words were no sooner out of his lips than Conrad was seized by the terrible pain once more. He felt his head would explode, full and yet somehow empty at the same time, the Mysterons refused him his own thoughts and feelings, all excepting the pain. Fighting back, Conrad felt the words almost burst from his lips.

"Oh God! Paul, help me, please!"

Scarlet cradled his agonised friend, "Let him go! Youíve made him suffer enough! Let him go!" he yelled, with a sudden awareness that his eyes were filling, threatening to spill with grief. It would be the first time heíd felt any emotion except anger for his friend, since the moment he discovered exactly who had killed him all that time ago. Except now he realised heíd been wrong. Captain Black the Mysteron had killed him, not his dear pain racked friend.

"Help me, Paul!" Conrad clutched his friendís hand and looked into his steel blue eyes.

"How?" asked the distressed Scarlet, "What can I do?"

"If you ever get the chance, kill me. Please, for pityís sake kill me!" Conrad pressed the palms of his hands against his temples, his face contorted in agony, he continued to fight against their control. Stunned by the request, Scarlet failed to reply.

"Paul, please promise me!" he shouted, desperately.

"IÖI promise," Scarlet stammered. He swallowed hard, wishing there was something he could do. "Fight them, Conrad! Donít let them regain control."

"They never lose control," his voice was quiet and bitter, "Remember you promised. Donít let me down."

Scarlet could see and feel the tension in his friend. Staring intensely to find some sign that Conrad was alright, he watched as the bowed head rose to reveal a deathly pallor and those cold, harsh eyes. Scarlet realised heíd lost his friend all over again.

Pushing Scarlet callously to the floor, Black stood and regarded him with a chilling, unfeeling stare. Without a word, he left, locking the door behind him.

The sheer trauma of the situation suddenly overwhelmed Scarlet with grief. Drawing his knees up to his chest and resting his head on them, he wrapped his arms around to cover his face. He needed to collect his thoughts; it was more than he could bear.

 

***

 

Captain Magenta opened his eyes and with a sharp breath closed them almost immediately. As he grew accustomed to the bright lights he blinked again. The sound of him waking drew Fawnís attention.

"Captain Magenta back with us I see."

"Doctor Fawn?"

"Except for the odd minute or two, youíve been pretty much out cold for almost two hours, not counting however long it was before you were found. You took a pretty nasty crack to your head. Nothing broken, but youíll have a pretty bad headache for a while."

"I know," replied Magenta gloomily.

He tried to remember what had happened to him all he could recall was something to do with rocks. He searched his swiss-cheese memory, then almost in an instant, everything came flooding back. His eyes widened as he remembered the sight of his friend and fellow officer lying still on the floor and being forced to bind him.

"Scarlet!" he cried grabbing Fawnís arm, "Have they found him yet?"

"No, not yet." Fawn always tried to restrict information from his patients fearing they would try to leave Sickbay before they were fit enough. But Magenta seemed so anxious, it was necessary just to calm him.

"Oh God, why did I have to do that to him?" he cursed himself, "Why didnít I Ö" Magenta broke off as a familiar and unwelcome face appeared in the doorway.

"Why isnít this man under restraint Doctor?" Spectrum Intelligence Agent Conners had come for Magentaís blood.

"Conners? I donít recall giving you permission to enter Sickbay."

"Well maybe itís just as well I came, that sounded like a confession to me. So Magenta, what is it, did they Mysteronise you or are you just a plain traitor?"

Magenta turned a guilt-ridden face to Doctor Fawn. For what heíd done, he certainly felt like a traitor. Why did he have to tie Scarlet like that? He wasnít in New York now; he should have given him some room for manoeuvre or slipknots or anything other than what he actually did do.

"Traitor," he said quietly.

"Agent Conners, my patient has a severe concussion and is not aware of what heís saying. Nothing he says at the moment can be used as evidence of any kind. You should leave Mr Conners, before I have to ask someone to escort you."

"I think I got what I came for anyway," Conners smiled before turning to leave.

Captain Grey gave Conners a fleeting glance as he passed him on the way out of Sickbay. His arrogant manner now combined with a self-satisfied smirk irritated the usually easy going Grey. His frown dissolved as he saw Magenta now awake and sitting up in bed.

"Hi Magenta, good to see youíve woken up," he said greeting him with a bright smile.

Magenta could only sigh; it was probably the heaviest sigh Grey had heard in a long time. Magentaís shoulders dropped visibly several inches.

"What is it? Whatís wrong? Was it him, what did he say?" Grey pointed after Conners; he looked ready to arrange a lynch mob.

"Scarlet. Itís my fault."

"How? You were unconscious."

Magenta lowered his eyes, "They were going to kill me, I had no choice."

"What did you do?" Greyís voice sounded worried, heíd never seen Magenta so remorseful. Had he handed Scarlet over to the Mysterons like Conners was suggesting? No. Grey dismissed the idea out of hand.

"They made me tie him up." Magentaís head sank, he felt so guilty.

"You?" Grey winced, "Did you do it the way you did to that Drill Sergeant at the USS Training Facility?" Normally, memory of that particular incident would have made both men laugh. The arrogant sergeant had wanted to prove to some impressionable cadets that nothing could stop him. He had reckoned without Magentaís rather unusual talent. Now, neither could even raise a smile.

Magenta nodded slowly, "Itís the only way I know how."

"Heís just told Conners that heís a traitor," advised Fawn.

"You did what?" Grey ran his right hand through his hair, "Pat, I understand you feel bad but, I canít believeÖ.." Grey slammed a balled fist against the wall behind Magentaís bed. "You can be such an idiot sometimes, Pat! You know heís gunning for you. Ochre told me how you spoke to him last time he was here. He wants your head on a plate and you just handed it to him."

"You donít know what happened," Magenta refused to accept that he wasnít solely to blame for Scarletís current predicament, "We wouldnít even have been there if it werenít for me."

"Well in that case, if it werenít for you, the Conference Centre would have been blown sky high, right along with a packed auditorium, WA troops and Scarlet and myself."

Greyís words seemed to help get things into perspective. He watched, relieved, as some of the fear and anguish faded from Magentaís eyes.

"Whatever else happened, Pat, you saved a lot of lives, including mine." Grey pulled up a chair and sat beside the injured captainís bed. "But, you are going to have to tell me what happened. Colonel Whiteís asked me to get a full report from you."

"Sure, Brad, but thereís not much to tell. After the disposal team had arrived we went to Ö."

"Sorry Pat," Grey interrupted, "Youíll have to go back a few paces. Letís start with, telling me why you and Captain Scarlet left Cloudbase in the early hours of the morning. And without even informing Colonel White."

"I was playing a hunch, it didnít seem fair to wake the Colonel. We didnít leave without permission, Brad."

"Oh thatís right, you roped Lieutenant Sienna in on this too didnít you?"

"Thatís a bit harsh!" complained Magenta.

"You wouldnít have tried it with Green, would you? You know Siennaís not that experienced. You and Scarlet must have steam-rollered him into giving you permission."

"Why donít you get Conners back in here? He could learn how to get REALLY nasty from you!"

"Come on, Pat! Youíre not telling me the truth and you know it! If you want the Colonel on your side, and believe me you do, youíve got to be straight with him."

"Ok, ok! I knew it would be bending the rules a bit, but I thought weíd be back with everything sorted, I didnít even think that theyíd be there."

"So why was Scarlet with you?"

"Well," Magenta shifted uncomfortably in the bed, "he doesnít seem to mind bending the rules as much as the rest of you. I thought heíd probably be up for it."

Grey laughed, despite himself, "Yeah," he agreed, "sounds like Scarlet. But where did your hunch come from? I mean youíre so sure, you wake Scarlet, convince him and the two of you take off without even running it by the Colonel. Thatís not a hunch Pat, thatís certainty"

"I canít tell you."

"Youíre going to have to, Pat," Grey said in a steely tone.

 

***

 

Ochre drew his gun and offered it to Blue, "Iím no good, left handed."

"Thanks Rick," Blue accepted the pistol and returned the submarine crewís fire. "You start making your way down and Iíll keep you covered. Weíll split up. Is your tracker still working?"

"Hard to say, it got soaked. Iíll try it anyway." Ochre nodded to Blue as he started his descent.

Blue kept firing, heíd managed to pick off two of them, but it seemed that no sooner had one fallen, than there was another to replace him. Looking down he saw Ochre scrambling over the rocks, trying to keep low. He was making good progress toward the caves. When he looked up again, he saw a dinghy heading for the beach. Three Mysterons in the dinghy, two still on deck firing at him.

Time to go, thought Blue as he tucked Ochreís gun into his belt to give himself a better grip on the slippery rocks. Ochre had by now disappeared from sight; hopefully heíd found himself a good hiding place. As Blue made his way a loose piece of rock under his feet gave way, causing him to stumble. Instinctively he stretched out his arms to check his fall; he hit the sharp rocks below him and grimaced with pain as a gash opened up on his left palm. Blood poured from his hand and Blue was forced to pause for a few moments as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to dress the wound. Thatís all I need, he thought as he pressed on. A few yards further forward, he saw the unmistakable impression of a Spectrum boot in the wet sand.

"Iím not the only one making mistakes." He murmured to himself as he bent down to try to obscure the print.

Blue headed for the caves, he turned to evaluate the position, he noticed the three Mysteronís attention was diverted, trying to secure the dinghy on the beach, this would be his best chance to shake them off. Ducking into a small opening in the rocks, he was surprised to find himself in a much wider cave. It gave him some time to think about his next move. With any luck, they wouldnít find him, but he now had time to spare a thought for Ochre, also alone but unarmed. He hoped his hiding place was very, very good. His hand started to throb; glancing down he saw the handkerchief was soaked with his blood. This was not turning out to be the vacation heíd hoped for.

There was no time to think about it now as he could hear voices outside the cave, silently drawing the gun, he waited.

The three Mysterons had split up, all searching a different area, Blue held his breath as he saw a shadow of one of them cross the opening to the cave. He saw the gun first, Blue didnít want to fire, it would only attract their attention, and with three, he would be outgunned. Maybe the element of surprise being on his side would be enough. Reaching forward, he grabbed the Mysteronís hand and pulled him forcibly into the cave. Literally pulled off his feet, the Mysteronised crewman fell with a heavy thud to the cave floor, the gun spinning from his hand as he fell. Regaining his senses quickly, he sat up to see Blue with Ochreís gun trained on him.

"So," the Mysteron spoke, noticing the gold stripe on the pistol, "the Spectrum Officer is unarmed."

Blue glanced down at the gun, then back at the Mysteron, "Donít be so pleased with yourself," he advised, "you wonít be telling anyone."

"I donít need to, theyíll find him soon enough."

"Get up and face the wall." Blue ordered.

"Have you ever fired a gun before?"

It hadnít occurred to Blue until that moment that they didnít know who he was, heíd quite forgotten that he was out of uniform and looked like a regular tourist. He was, however, a little unsure of how to play this one. Was the Mysteron more likely to attack a tourist with no experience of just how dangerous they could be, or a Spectrum Officer with a gun on him. He decided to surprise him again.

"Yeah, Iíve fired a gun before. And Iíve killed Mysteronís before too. So, get up and face the wall!"

Caught off guard the Mysteron complied. Blue approached him cautiously, ready for attack. As he got closer, he saw the elbow swing back, stepping aside it merely brushed past him. Levelling the gun at his head, Blue fired one shot between the Mysteronís eyes.

Ochre heard the shot; it seemed to reverberate around the whole area. He could only hope that Blue had fired it. From his hiding place, in another cave, he could see one of the Mysterons searching the area nearby. Unarmed, he reluctantly accepted that hiding was his only option, with at least two armed Mysterons only feet away. He could see one of them peering into the cave. Thankful that the colour of his uniform helped him to blend with the cave wall, he pressed himself back against it. If the Mysteron came in, heíd be ready; he wouldnít be taken without a fight.

Slowly edging forward into the cave, the Mysteron, scoured the area for his target. Coming into the relative darkness of the cave, he was having problems adjusting to the lack of light. Surprisingly, he had almost walked past Captain Ochre before he saw him. By then of course, it was too late. Seizing his chance, Ochre brought his right fist down heavily on the back of the Mysteronís neck, wincing with pain as he did so Ė in the tension heíd forgotten his hand was damaged. Pain shot up to his elbow slowing his reaction to the Mysteronís counter-attack. Forcing him back against the wall, the Mysteron landed a heavy blow to Ochreís stomach. Bending forward in breathless pain, Ochre noticed that the Mysteron had dropped his gun following his earlier attack. Diving for the floor, Ochre snatched up the gun and rolled onto his knees, pointing the gun upwards toward the surprised Mysteron.

"Whereís the other one?" Ochre demanded.

"Right behind you, Captain."

Ochre felt the cold barrel of a gun pressed firmly into the back of his neck.

"Unluckily for you, Captain, this cave has two entrances. Drop the gun."

With no choice, Ochre lowered the gun and let it fall to the floor.

"Get up."

Ochre got to his feet silently, both guns now trained on him, there seemed little he could do, he just hoped Blue had fared better.

The Mysterons led him back outside; he saw in the distance the third Mysteron coming to join them. There was no sign of Blue, but heíd heard a shot. Ochre swallowed hard, had they killed him because they didnít know that he too was a Spectrum Officer?

"What did you do withÖthe other guy?" Ochre shouted furiously at the approaching man.

"Heís dead," came the simple reply.

Ochre lowered his eyes. Not another friend, he thought sadly. Looking up again he refused to allow the emotion to show. The Mysteron now joined them. Ochreís eyes opened wide with delight as he watched him raise his gun again and shoot the two remaining Mysterons either side of him.

"Right between the eyes, old buddy," Blue grinned at his friend. "We swapped clothes, I didnít want to get them messy."

"Youíre a ruthless devil when the mood takes you."

Blue shrugged, "Just wish we had a Mysteron gun with us, theyíll be up again in no time."

As he spoke, he saw one stir; without a word, Blue discharged another bullet into his head.

"We have to get on that submarine," Blue looked at Ochre, "They must have the Seismic Nullifier on there."

"Yeah, we let them get away now, weíre all dead anyway." Ochre agreed, "Ok, I guess Iím your prisoner." He smiled gesturing towards the dinghy.

"After you, Earthman," Blue replied. Ochre lost his smile at those words. "Iím in character, Rick, donít worry so much."

"Sorry, just seems weird hearing YOU say that."

"I know, itís hard to say it with a straight face to be honest, Iíll have to watch that." He grinned, "Come on, letís get aboard."

 

***

 

Magenta looked up at Grey. Magentaís hesitation had started to worry him, what could possibly be so bad?

"Itís funny, Scarlet worked it out it straight way," Magenta said quietly to himself

"Pat, what are you talking about? I just want to knowÖoh!"

Magenta looked up into his friends accusing face. It wasnít hard to work out that Grey had drawn the same accurate conclusions as Scarlet.

"Your ex-colleagues? I canít believe it! Pat what are you thinking of? Do they knowÖ"

"No, of course they donít know! Iíve had this conversation already." Magenta started to sound a little irritable.

"Hey, Pat, Iím on your side, but youíve got to help me out here."

"Iím sorry, Brad, but you know how Iím fixed. If I admit that to Colonel White, Iím out of here."

"Iím sure it wonít come to that, Pat," Grey tried to be reassuring.

"Iím not so sure."

"Look, Pat, Iíll present the best case I can. But I need to get more from you, please trust me."

It wasnít until Grey said those words to him, that Magenta realised he was being a fool. Whilst certain people, wanted to see him jailed or worse, Grey was trying to help, believing in him completely. He couldnít believe the level of support he was receiving despite all the evidence against him.

"Youíre right, Iím sorry, Iíll tell you everything."

Grey sighed, he hadnít realised how tense heíd got; his shoulders fell almost as much as Magentaís had earlier.

 

***

 

Captain Scarlet paced up and down in the small room. He had tried the door, there seemed to be little scope for escape, it was securely locked. Relieved at least to have been untied, he knew that realistically his only chance of escape was when he received his next visitor. He hoped it would be Captain Black.

 

***

 

The dinghy pulled alongside the submarine, Captain Blue pulled the cap down as far as he could; he had no idea what his name was supposed to be, or even if they would recognise that he was an impostor. Unarmed, Ochre still felt quite uncomfortable, but he knew Blue had the other Mysteronsí guns in his belt. He could use one of those if needed.

"Ready?" asked Blue.

"Yeah."

Above them, the hatch opened and two more Mysteron crewmen appeared. Ochre was dragged roughly from the dinghy at gunpoint. He didnít resist. Blue followed him out, knowing all the time that if even one crewman realised that he wasnít one of the three who had set off to the beach, they would both be killed on the spot.

Now inside the submarine, Blueís heart raced as he saw Captain Black standing before him. He pulled the cap discreetly lower over his eyes, hoping that Black would look more at Ochre and not notice his other ex-colleague.

"Captain Ochre, welcome," Black addressed him.

Ochre stood with his hands clasped behind his back, staring straight ahead. Defiant and strong, he irritated Black. Blue who stood behind him wished heíd draw a little less attention to himself. Typical of Richard Fraser, he could barely help himself. But then Black would know that, maybe if Ochre were too compliant heíd be suspicious. He was both relieved and shocked by Blackís next statement.

"Put him in with Scarlet."

Black briefly revelled in the shocked expression on Ochreís face, then turned to more pressing matters as he looked over some maps spread across the desk behind him.

Blue, trying desperately not to react to the revelation that Scarlet was aboard, pulled on Ochreís arm. Levelling the gun at him, as much to remind him of whom he was supposed to be as anything else.

"Come on, Morgan," came a voice behind him, "the Commanderís finished with him."

Blue pulled again on Ochreís arm. This time he turned, realising that there was a risk that someone would recognise Blue, or rather not recognise him when they should. Walking ahead of him, Ochre tried to keep the Mysteron from looking too closely at his colleague. He only needed to do this until they reached Scarletís cell. They needed to find him first, or they would waste time trying, the submarine was simply too large to wander aimlessly about. Both of them wished that Captain Grey was there, he knew submarines, both Blue and Ochre only knew planes.

Scarlet heard the footsteps approaching and stood back to the wall, to the left of the doorway. If there was even the smallest chance to escape, he planned to take it. Without checking, the Mysteron opened the door wide, it appeared that Scarlet was not in the room. He edged forward; no one had told him that Scarlet had been untied.

"Watch him!" the Mysteron ordered, nodding at Ochre, as he entered the room slowly.

With pleasure, thought Blue, handing Ochre a gun.

Scarlet launched himself out from behind the door, catching the Mysteronís side and knocking him to the floor.

"Shoot him!" the Mysteron ordered.

"Sorry canít do it," replied Blue, watching him struggle against Scarletís strength and fury.

"I can," said Ochre, unexpectedly.

Blueís eyes widened as Ochre stepped forward raising the gun. Had he brought a Mysteronised Ochre on board to kill him and Scarlet? He hadnít even thought. Blue aimed his gun at Ochreís back as the Mysteron raised his leg and kicked Scarlet away. Ochre had a clear shot now. Blue sighed with relief as Ochre levelled his gun and shot the Mysteron. At this range, he didnít need to worry about holding the gun left-handed; he was deadly accurate.

"Oops!" said Ochre.

Blue glared furiously at him, "What was that about? You scared me half to death!"

"Left himself open though didnít he? Thought I was going to shoot Scarlet."

"Well, youíre lucky I didnít shoot you!"

Ochre turned and saw that Blue was still pointing his gun directly at him, "I didnít think of that." He admitted, pushing the gun away with his finger.

Scarlet got to his feet, "You see, havenít I always told you heís annoying?" Scarlet grinned and clasped his arms around his two friends. "Itís good to see you!"

"Are you ok?" asked Blue.

"Iím fine." Scarletís eyes narrowed. "Have you seen Magenta?"

"Here?" asked Blue.

"Heís on Cloudbase, I donít think heíd woken up by the time Iíd left."

"Woken up?" asked Scarlet, puzzled.

"We got word from him, you had both been attacked at the Conference Centre. Heíd got a nasty concussion, he was still recovering when I left."

"Black said heíd set me up."

"I donít think so, Paul." Ochre said flatly. "What did Black actually say?"

Giving it some thought, Scarlet shrugged, "I guess all he said was that Magenta had tied me up. The rest is my own conclusion."

"Well, Paul, with a gun to my head, Iíd have done the same," Ochre admitted.

"I didnít think about it that way."

"I donít think you were meant to," replied Blue. "Come on, letís find that Nullifier and get out of here."

Continuing down the corridor, it was only a matter of minutes before they were spotted and challenged.

"Hey!" the voice came from behind them. An officer shouted at Blue, "Where are you taking the prisoners?"

"Captainís orders, Sir." Blue replied quickly, standing to attention.

"Quinlan or Black?" asked the officer.

"Scarlet!" came the reply, along with a bullet. The Mysteron dropped to the floor.

Hiding the body in a nearby storeroom, the three Spectrum officers continued to search the submarine for the Seismic Nullifier.

"I wish Brad were here," Ochre said for all of them. "I mean, is there anyone here whoís spent more than a few minutes on a submarine?"

"Me," replied Scarlet, to their amazement.

"Oh yeah, thatís right," chuckled Blue, "when you clobbered the Colonel!"

"When I saved his life," corrected Scarlet.

"Yeah, I preferred Blueís version," smiled Ochre.

"Huh. Typical Yanks," grumbled Scarlet.

Blue gave him a friendly pat on the back as they continued in silence. In order to maintain the pretence, Blue walked behind them, should it be necessary to pretend to be a Mysteron again. That moment came sooner than he thought.

"Morgan?" a voice he knew well, droned behind him.

Blue stopped, not daring to turn. "Sir?" he replied, keeping his gun on Scarlet and Ochre ahead of him. They both felt that it was over too, but how many were there with him?

"Your handís not healing, Morgan. Or should I say, Svenson?"

It was over, he knew, Blue spun his gun raised. Not quick enough, Blue was hit in his left shoulder by a bullet from Blackís gun. Spiralling backwards from the impact, Blue fell to the floor. Ochre and Scarlet turned, surprised to see Black alone in the corridor. Equally he appeared surprised to find Ochre and Scarlet were armed. In the moment he had to think about it, he wasnít sure why he was surprised.

"Iím sorry!" shouted Scarlet as he fired. Black took the bullet through the heart and fell backwards to the wall.

As he slid down the wall, Scarlet drew a deep breath. Ochreís elation that Scarlet had shot Black, faded as he saw the tears rolling down his friendís cheeks.

"Paul, whatís the matter?"

Ignoring him, Scarlet ran to Blackís side, remembering first to push the gun away.

"Conrad?"

"Paul." The voice was quiet and pained.

"Iím sorry."

"No," Conrad replied through clenched teeth, "itís not enough. Theyíre going to take me back to Mars. Theyíll never let me go, I know that now. Thank God, you got away. Here, take this." With some considerable discomfort, Conrad reached into his pocket and drew out Scarletís Personal Tracker pressing it into his hand, activating it as he did so. "Theyíre toying with both of us Paul, they wanted to know if youíd really do it. Thank you for trying."

Before them, Captain Black slowly vanished. They had seen it before, but it was still unbelievable. Blue and Ochre pondered his words; Ďtaken back to Marsí, heíd said. They could only presume that he had meant that he had been taken back to be retro-metabolised by the Mysterons. Scarlet remained kneeling, his head hung low.

"Captain Scarlet?" Blue quizzed him holding his shoulder.

Scarlet looked at the empty space where his friend and foe had lain not a moment before. He shook his head, how could he explain?

"Come on," he said finally, getting to his feet.

"Are you ok to carry on, Blue?" asked Ochre, furious that Scarlet had apparently not even noticed that his partner had been shot.

"I think so," Blue replied, blood oozing between his fingers.

Incensed, Ochre reached for Scarletís shoulder and pulled him around to face him. Somewhat taken aback by the sadness in Scarletís face, he was, at first, stunned into silence. Finally able to find his voice, he launched into a verbal attack.

"Whatís the matter with you?! Hereís your partner, your best friend, and you donít even notice heís been shot. Youíre more upset aboutÖ."

"Heís still alive, donít you understand! Heís living through a nightmare every moment of every day. He made me promise to kill him and I let him down!" Scarletís lashed out with all his frustration.

"Who? Black?" asked Blue, puzzled that he should feel such sympathy for the man who had killed so many for the Mysterons, who had killed Scarlet himself and his previous partner.

"Conrad."

"HeísÖ" Blue couldnít even finish the sentence.

Scarlet nodded, "I spoke to him."

"Mysteron trick," Ochre insisted.

Scarlet shook his head, "I only wish it were."

It seemed only then that Scarlet seemed to notice the blood oozing from Blueís shoulder.

"Adam! Youíre hurt."

"Finally he notices!" said Ochre unkindly.

A wave of guilt swept over Scarlet as he inspected the wound. "Itís stuck in there," he looked at his friendís eyes.

He could tell from the furrowed brow that he was in a great deal of pain. Tearing the sleeve from his own uniform, Scarlet rolled it and packed it underneath Blueís blood-stained WASP uniform jacket then settled Blueís wrist inside as a makeshift sling.

"Best I can do, sorry."

"You havenít spent so much time in Sickbay for nothing then?" Blue smiled thinly at his friend, through the pain.

"Iím so sorry, Adam."

"What for?"

"I realise how it must have looked. I seemed more concerned for a Mysteron thanÖ"

"Hey, I know you. Maybe it was Conrad, but whether it was or it wasnít, they know how to get to you, donít they? Your friends matter so much to you, more than your own life. They know that, they played on it."

Blue was right, they had certainly made a good job of messing with his emotions. It didnít matter to them how much they made people suffer.

"Can you carry on?" Scarlet asked, his hand on Blueís good arm.

"Are you kidding me? Iím fine!"

 

***

 

Lieutenant Green looked up from his console.

"Colonel!" Green rechecked the readings, "Iíve picked up Captain Scarletís personal tracker."

"Can you locate the grid reference, Lieutenant?"

"Iím trying Colonel, but the signal is conflicting with another signal which Iíve been detecting but not been able to lock down yet, itís quite weak and sporadic. There, got it! Heís in the middle of the Pacific Sir, and moving. He must be on a ship."

"Or a submarine! Lieutenant, launch all Angels. Get them to over-fly the area. And get Captain Grey down to the nearest WASP base, requisition a submarine and get after them. If I were a gambling man, Lieutenant, Iíd put money on that being the SR147 down there."

There were some people who seemed to have natural bad timing. Agent Conners was one of these people. Not that there was all that much in his favour anyone on Cloudbase could have thought to say about him. It was at this moment that he chose to harass Colonel White over his injured officer, Captain Magenta.

"Colonel," he started talking almost before he was fully in the room, "I must insist upon the immediate arrest of Captain Magenta."

"Not now, Mr Conners!" White sighed, "Iíve got more to deal with than your petty, personal vendettas."

"I take exception to that Colonel! Let me tell you, that Iím trying to do a job here and have had nothing but obstruction since I arrived."

"Perhaps that is because you are completely on the wrong track Mr Conners. I canít imagine what you think your job here is exactly, and Iím sure my officers have behaved correctly towards you. Have you any specific complaints, Agent Conners?"

"I just told you Colonel, obstruction!"

"Yes well I have a few complaints of my own and you can guarantee, when he arrives, Iíll be giving a full account to Senior Agent Wade."

"When he arrives?"

"Yes Mr Conners, Iíve made a formal complaint. I wonít have you coming here disrupting and accusing my officers. I know full well you came here after blood. Youíre not the sort of man Iíd expect to find working for Spectrum, and I donít want you on Cloudbase a moment longer than you have to be. If you have anything specific you want to ask any of my officers, you can tell me right now, otherwise you can leave." The expression on Whiteís face was one of a man who would not be trifled with; if Conners wanted to argue, then it was on his own head.

"I told you, I want Magenta arrested."

White slammed a fist down on the console, the fury surprising even Lieutenant Green who had seen the Colonel in what he believed to be the full range of his moods.

"CAPTAIN Magenta will not be arrested, Agent Conners. Now, if youíve nothing else to say, Iíve arranged for one of the Angels to fly you back to Spectrum Headquarters in the Helicopter."

"Iím not leaving Cloudbase."

White leaned over the console, "Oh yes you are! And youíre leaving right now."

There was something about the way the Colonel had spoken, not threatening but not to be argued with either. Without a word, Conners left Control and headed for the Helipad.

"Colonel?"

"Yes Lieutenant?"

"The other signal, Sir. Itís very faint and intermittent but Iím sure now, itís Captain Ochreís tracker. It must be damaged in some way; itís coming from the same location as Captain Scarletís signal."

"Thatís a relief, at least we know theyíre alive."

"Yes Sir." After hearing nothing from either Captains Ochre or Blue since their communications had been abruptly halted during the earthquake, the Colonel and Green had feared the worst.

 

***

 

The nearest WASP base to the current position of the Personal Tracker signals was Marineville, where Grey himself had worked on the Stingray prototype many years before. He had looked forward to seeing some familiar faces but realised the time would be brief.

"Grey to Cloudbase," Grey spoke into his radiocap microphone.

"Go ahead, Captain Grey," replied Green.

"I have landed at Marineville. Commander Pelham has readied a Stingray AS7 for me. The crew are waiting."

"Be careful, Captain Grey, as you know the SR147 is manned by a Mysteronised crewÖ"

"Donít worry, Lieutenant. It wonít be for long. Youíd be impressed with the cannons on this beauty."

"No, Captain Grey. Captains Scarlet, Ochre and Blue are believed to be aboard the submarine, weíve just picked up two of their personal trackers."

"Talk about nick of time, we could have blown them out of the water. Trust the damned Mysterons to get themselves a little insurance! Ok, Lieutenant, Iíll tread carefully. Grey out."

Grey ran along the corridor towards the injection tube to the craft heíd been helped to develop. A friendly and familiar face waited to greet him.

"Brad! After all this time, itís good to see you! You look good. I donít know, bottom of the ocean one minute, up in the clouds the next! Howís life at Spectrum?"

"Good. Looks like youíre still enjoying yourself Sam. Are you coming with us?"

"Sure thing Brad, Iím your `Phones operator."

"Great! Letís get going." Grey stepped down through the hatch into the submarine. Despite being one of its developers, it had changed much since the early days of the prototype and he barely recognised it.

"Captain Grey," the pilot rose from his seat, "Iím Captain Glen Thomas and of course you already know Lieutenant Sam Warren. He was transferred from Aquanaught for this trip, our most experienced `Phones operator is down with flu or something."

Captain Grey flashed a smile at the Captain, "I know Iím in safe hands. Iím impressed with the changes to the Stingray, itís been a long time." Grey let his thoughts drift for a moment, he didnít realise how much he missed the sea. "Ok, shall we go?"

The Stingray AS7 headed through the launch tunnel out of its pen and sailed smoothly out into the ocean. Captain Grey had settled himself behind Captain Thomas, trying to prepare himself for whatever situation that would present itself. It was going to be a tricky one; he obviously couldnít destroy the submarine unless it was absolutely necessary. Spectrum couldnít afford to lose three good officers and neither could he bear the loss of three of his closest friends. It was Warren who pulled him back from his concerns.

"Hey Brad? Are you with us, buddy?"

"Huh?" Grey looked up, "Sorry, I was miles away."

"Missing the good life at Marineville, eh?"

Grey picked up, "It sure was fun! Thereís not nearly enough water on Cloudbase! But you, youíre at Aquanaught now? Why the change?"

"Ah, Marinevilleís staying with the Stingrays, Aquanaughtís trying out some new stuff, Iím helping with testing. Itís really interesting, something different every day."

"Sounds perfect for you. You always were the best at what you do."

"Weíre within 5000 fathoms of the SR147 Captain Grey," cut in Captain Thomas. "Weíre being fed its co-ordinates from Spectrum based on the Personal Tracker signals. Itís not going that fast, we should be within strike range in about thirty minutes."

"Thank you Captain," replied Grey, his thoughts being pulled back to what on Earth he was going to do when they arrived.

 

***

 

Scarlet, Blue and Ochre finally found the room containing the Seismic Nullifier. Peering through the door, they were relieved to find it had been left unattended. The Mysterons, obviously believing their prisoners to be no threat, had left it unguarded.

"Ok, you and Ochre destroy that thing so they canít use it, Iíve got something else to do." Scarlet addressed Captain Blue.

Ochre grabbed his arm as he turned to leave, "What?"

Scarlet pulled his arm out of Ochreís grip. "Why? Donít you trust me?"

"No, I donít."

Blue was about to voice his disapproval for Ochreís about face. He thought theyíd sorted all this out. Before he could speak, Ochre continued, confirming the exact opposite. He had become quite protective of the British captain, like the others, he knew how reckless Scarlet could be.

"Youíre bound to pull some fool stunt that saves everybody but yourself."

Scarlet sighed, "Iím going to flood the inner hull of the submarine. With any luck, the water will short out some of the circuits and kill a few Mysterons in the process. Weíll be safe here, Iíll make sure Iíve got the right bulkheads closed."

"What are you talking about, "we"? You wonít be here, you mean us, not you." Ochre corrected.

"Yeah, I mean you. But Iíve worked it out, Iíve got a chance to get out before it floods completely."

"The speed the water will come in, not to mention the temperature, youíll be lucky if you can do anything but drown!" Blue joined in.

"Chance I have to take."

"Look give us a minute to disable the Nullifier and weíll help you."

"Ok," agreed Scarlet.

Ochre and Blue walked into the room with Scarlet right behind them. Remaining in the corridor, he slammed the door and spun the hatch wheel.

"Paul!" cried Blue, as he realised what had happened.

The two Spectrum Officers inside the room tried with all their strength to pull on the hatch wheel with very little response.

"Heís locked us in," Blue was astounded.

"No, I donít think he has," replied Ochre still struggling with the wheel, his right wrist, still quite painful, giving under the pressure. "If we wait for the wheel to stop spinning, I think itíll turn quite easily. Heís just prevented us from stopping him."

Ochre was right; within a few moments the wheel turned easily in his hands. By the time they got the door open, Scarlet was nowhere to be found.

"Look, we have to disable this first. Then we can find Paul." Blue made the necessary decision.

Scarlet edged his way along the corridors. He had to admit to himself that he had only the vaguest of ideas in which direction to head. Hearing footsteps ahead of him he drew his gun and flattened himself against the wall, suddenly aware of how bright his uniform was against the dull grey of the submarine. Scarlet raised the gun, more in defence than really wanting to fire and draw attention to where he was. He was at once relieved and surprised that two Mysteron crewmen walked along the corridor which crossed his, without as much as a cursory glance in his direction. It struck him as very unusual that all the way so far, they had only encountered one Mysteron and since Blackís disappearance there had been none. It was as if, Scarlet thought, that without instructions from Black they were useless. Like a rudderless ship, drifting aimlessly. He wouldnít put his theory to the test alone, but if he were correct it wouldnít be too difficult to re-take the submarine. Besides, he couldnít be certain that Black wouldnít return, reconstructed to finish the job.

Finally arriving at the torpedo bay, Scarlet considered a schematic of the SR147 on the wall, just as heíd seen in most of the rooms heíd seen so far. Judging by the positions of the bulkheads he had noticed were closed on the way, or had locked off himself, the water entering the torpedo tubes ought to travel along the outer sections of the submarine and not reach the inner areas at all. This should be sufficient to sink the submarine and short out many of the circuits, rendering it inoperative. Meanwhile, they could either escape in diving suits or re-take the submarine. Somehow it seemed too easy. Maybe it would be, who said it had to be difficult?

First checking that no torpedo bay was loaded ready for use, Scarlet opened the outer hatches. A loud hissing ensued as all the tubes filled with seawater.

"Here goes." He said to himself as he slowly turned the loading hatch to torpedo tube one.

A few gentle turns on the wheel was all it needed to release the pressure building up behind the hatch. The door broke clean off its hinges crashing into Scarletís stomach knocking him several feet backwards with ferocious force. He hit the floor with a sickening thud, still holding onto the hatch. Stunned, he lay on the floor, at first breathless and confused as seawater gushed in all around him. The large room was filling fast, in the brief moments he had lain on the floor the unpleasant salty water was lapping around his shoulders. He tried to sit up; he couldnít feel his legs and his senses swam, it was all he could do, not to pass out. No! He really couldnít afford that right now, and he wouldnít prove Ochre right! The water was so cold as it poured around him, now it lifted him up. It would only have been about waist height but he was still floating. Why wouldnít his body do what his brain was telling it to do?!

"Paul!" he dimly heard the shout behind him as he felt himself being carried swiftly towards the door on the tide of incoming water. He seemed powerless to stop it.

"Got you!" the same voice spoke again.

It was Captain Blue, hanging onto a rail near the entrance to the torpedo bay. Scarlet was dimly aware of a painful sensation in his left arm but nothing more. With a slight sigh, he lost consciousness.

Blue gritted his teeth; the torrent was threatening to drag Scarlet out of his grip and down the corridor. Ochre was on the other side of the corridor hanging desperately onto the equivalent rail, unable to reach Scarlet to assist Blue. Even if Blue managed to hold on, he felt that at the very least Scarletís arm would be dislocated as he was dragged further and further away.

The problem would soon be resolved by factors outside Blueís control as debris from the torpedo bay began to speed past, borne on the fast flowing cascade.

Ochreís eyes opened wide in horror as he saw a torpedo rack, stripped of its load by the force of the water and carried out into the corridor.

"Blue!" he cried, "Look out!"

Without even time to look, the rack caught Blue a glancing blow to the shoulder and careered into Scarletís arm. Even above the noise, both captains heard the crack. Despite Blue trying desperately to hold onto his friend, the combination of the ever deepening water, and the hefty blow they had both received worked against him, he could feel Scarletís wrist slipping through his fingers. Trying to hold onto the rail with a split hand and an injured shoulder was proving to be too much for Blue. Almost losing his own grip, he tried to snatch again at Scarletís wrist as he finally lost his hold, but the current had already pulled him away.

"Paul!" cried both men, as they watched their colleague dragged along and out of sight by the surging water.

Sometimes, Ochre hated it when he was right.

"We have to follow him!" he shouted above the noise.

Blue nodded grimly already releasing his grip on the rail.

 

***

 

"Thatís a nice piece of kit theyíve given you," Warren pointed to Greyís pistol.

"What?" Grey looked down to where Warren was indicating, "Oh that, yeah, itís pretty good."

"Colour coded eh?"

"Yeah," Grey grinned, "weíre all colour co-ordinated on Cloudbase."

"Can I have a look at it, Brad?" asked Warren eagerly.

"Sorry pal, not allowed," replied Grey apologetically.

"Oh, come on Brad, itís me!"

"Sorry Sam, I canít," Grey insisted to Warrenís disappointment.

"Well, at least let me show you some of the new stuff in here."

Greyís face broke into a broad smile, "Thought youíd never ask! It looks so different to how I remember it."

"Where to start? I guess the newest feature is right behind you."

Grey got up and viewed the console behind him. It was the navigation equipment. Granted a few improvements had clearly been made over the years, but it was hard to believe that this had changed more than some of the other things around him.

"So what is it Iím looking at here?"

"The end, Earthman."

Grey hadnít even felt the tiniest movement from his holster as the Mysteronised Warren eased the gun out. Now he felt the muzzle being pressed sharply into his spine. Glancing over his shoulder, Grey saw Warren offering him a cruel smile in exchange for his alarmed expression. Warren placed his hand on Greyís left shoulder and spun him violently back into the chair.

"Captain Grey!" a voice came from the helm, Captain Thomas had risen to come to the Spectrum captainís assistance.

Warren raised Greyís pistol, momentarily taking his eyes off Grey to aim at Captain Thomas.

"No!" shouted Grey as he rose from the seat in a flash and keeping his shoulders low, barrelled into the Mysteronís chest.

He heard a shot ring out and a faint groaning but had no idea what had happened. Warren had held firm to Grey as they hit the floor and managed to roll Grey to his side. Rising to his knees, he swung the gun butt at Greyís forehead. Unready for the speed of Warrenís recovery from the fall, Grey grimaced with pain as the gun made contact with his left temple. A trickle of blood rolled down beside his eye and down his cheek. Scarcely conscious, Grey resisted as best he could. Warren loomed over him, brandishing the gun

"I might as well just kill you, we donít need you now. Youíve provided us with the necessary tools to dispose of three Spectrum officers already. You can be a fourth."

"You wonít get within strike range. Not without the code." Grey replied, starting to come to.

"What code?"

"The mission code. We know you can imitate our voices, we found that out at Glen Garry Castle when you tried to wipe out the Air Force Supreme Command. Since then, do you think weíd still put all our trust in a familiar voice?"

"Tell me the code," Warren seized Greyís tunicís collar.

"You have to be kidding!"

"I donít believe you, Earthman," Warren said simply as he raised the gun to Greyís head.

Grey pulled his knee up sharply, knocking the wind out of the Mysteron. With a desperate effort, Grey managed to push him away. Landing awkwardly, the gun spun out of Warrenís hand. Scrambling to his feet, Grey was hit from behind as Warren hurled the heavy Hydrophone recorder unit at his back. Knocked forward onto the console ahead of him, Grey grunted as a wave of nausea swept through him. His head clouded, but the answer, he realised, lay at his fingertips. Wrenching a handful of wires out of the navigation system, he turned just as Warren dived towards him. Grey plunged the bare wires down forcefully onto Warrenís neck and down his collar Leaping out of harmís way, he watched with mixed emotions as the man before for him, shook violently where he stood, then sank to the floor with a soft, incoherent gurgle.

Grey closed his eyes and ran his hands across his forehead; he felt the sticky bloodstain as his knees gave beneath him.

 

***

 

It was perhaps only a matter of minutes later when Grey awoke to an urgent beeping. Opening his eyes, he found himself lying on the floor of the Stingray, Warren lay dead beside him. The beeping continued. Grey saw his epaulettes flashing white and activated his radiocap.

"Colonel?"

"Whatís happening down there, Captain Grey? Youíre severely off course and Iím getting no response from Captain Thomas."

"Warren was a Mysteron, Colonel, he attacked us." replied Grey, his head starting to clear. "Heís dead, but the navigation equipment is damaged, and Captain ThomasÖ.I canít see him."

Grey got to his feet and searched the cabin; behind the helm, he found the captain slumped on the floor. Grey knelt at his side. He sighed, relieved, as he realised that the captain was alive, although his pulse seemed very weak. Reaching for the first aid box, he completed his report to Colonel White as he applied compresses to Captain Thomasí wound.

"Iím sorry, Captain Grey, there is no time to seek assistance for Captain Thomas. You must complete your mission. If the SR147 is still in the hands of the Mysterons there is no telling how many millions of lives could be lost should they use the Seismic Nullifier."

"I know, Colonel, Iíll need the updated co-ordinates and Iíll pilot the Stingray by eye if I have to. Have you had any further communication with Blue, Ochre or Scarlet, Sir?"

"No, Captain, and weíve lost their tracker signals too, I can only give you the last position we had for them."

Grey let out a deep sigh, "Right, Colonel. Iíll do what I have to."

 

***

 

All over the submarine, systems were shorting and failing. Briefly, until the auxiliaries were automatically activated, the submarine was plunged into darkness. As Captain Scarlet had predicted, the submarine was dying and sinking. On the bridge, many of the Mysterons lay dead, electrocuted at their posts. The remaining ones, lacking their commander, appeared unable to act.

Even the flow of water had stopped. The one thing that Scarlet could not have accounted for was the automatic sealing of additional bulkheads. Whole sections of the submarine were now cordoned off, presumably filled from top to bottom with seawater. The submarine, now completely inoperable, hung at a peculiar angle in the water.

Ochre and Blue continued with a combination of swimming and wading, as they searched for Captain Scarlet.

"How far could he have gone?" Ochre asked in disbelief as they turned yet another corner with no trace of him.

"I donít know," replied Blue, also concerned, "the flow was prettyÖ.." he paused as he thought he saw something ahead, "There!" he cried anxiously as he caught sight of a half submerged red tunic.

As they drew closer, both men sighed, relieved to see Scarlet floating on his back, his face clear of the water. They watched his chest rise and fall and rushed to him. Yes, they knew if he had been dead, then he would have revived, but the initial shock never went away. And there was always the fear that one day the retro-metabolism wouldnít work.

"Paul?! Are you ok? Can you hear me?" Blue held Scarlet's shoulders, "I think he broke his back, Rick."

"Heíll be ok, Adam." Ochre examined Scarletís left arm, the break appeared to be almost healed. "Itís working already."

His friendsí voices stirred Scarlet from unconsciousness. As he woke gradually, he tried to stand and was suddenly surprised to find himself off balance in the water. Blue caught him holding his head above the surface.

"What? Water?" he murmured, at first confused, then nodding as the memory of flooding the submarine returned to him.

"Are you ok?" Blue asked him again.

Scarlet took a deep breath, "Yes. Yes, Iím fine. Are you ok? Howís your shoulder?" He glanced at Blueís concerned face, he simply nodded in return. Turning to Ochre, Scarlet simply laughed, "You were right!" he admitted.

Getting to his feet, Scarlet eyed the two captains. They were tired and in pain from various wounds. He almost felt a pang of guilt at feeling almost fully recovered now.

"To the bridge?" he asked.

Ochre and Blue nodded their agreement.

 

***

 

Reaching the bridge, the three Spectrum captains were astonished to find it deserted.

"I donít like the look of this," said Captain Scarlet sweeping his eyes suspiciously around the bridge.

"I think weíve got a problem here." Blue spoke grimly as he studied a panel on the wall. It was another schematic of the submarine, but this one was different. Marked up in rows of lights where each of the sealed bulkheads. "According to this, the path to the fore and aft torpedo bays are locked off."

"But thatís not possible!" exclaimed Scarlet. "I checked that already before I opened the torpedo hatch. The route to the aft bay was open and it was on a different level so there wasnít much fear of it flooding."

"See for yourself," Blue stood back and gestured toward the panel.

"Unless," Ochre suggested, "they came down afterward, an automatic response to what it thought was a hull breach."

Scarlet sighed and closed his eyes. He hadnít considered that possibility. He didnít really want to ask the next question, as he believed he probably knew the answer already.

"So how do we get out of here?"

"You donít," came the cold reply. The familiar voice echoed around the bridge.

All three men drew their guns and looked around nervously, there was nobody else with them.

"Show yourself, Black!" Blue shouted.

"Iím not there Captain, only my voice. I have not succeeded in my mission, but at least I can be content in the knowledge that this will be your last."

"Weíll get out of here, Black. You havenít stopped us yet." Blue replied angrily.

Black laughed; it was a hollow, chilling laugh. "Very possibly Captain, but you see, you donít have much time. Captain Grey will be within range in ten minutes and I have arranged for two small details that will seal your fate. The first is that a torpedo will release itself from the aft bay when Captain Grey approaches. It will only perform a dummy attack, but it will be enough to convince him that the submarine is hostile. He will open fire and destroy it with all of you aboard. The explosion of the atomic engines will be enough to kill even you, Captain Scarlet."

"And the second?" Ochre had difficulty restraining his contempt for the ex-Spectrum Captain.

"Ah, this is the amusing one."

All three doubted that they would consider it to be amusing, but could do little but wait to hear what it would be.

"If you would look toward the door to the bridge."

With a great deal of surprise, they saw the inner wheel of the locking mechanism spinning wildly without any outside manipulation. Their expressions of surprise turned to horror as they saw the wheel come to an abrupt stop and melt. Rushing to the door, it was perhaps no revelation that they found themselves unable to open it. How heíd done it they didnít know, but all the way from Mars, Black had engineered for them to be locked inside the disabled submarine, with a cruel death awaiting them at the hands of their friend.

Scarlet was furious; this was the man he had spoken to as a friend only a few hours earlier. He had been tricked into pitying him and caring. He felt such a fool, but there was still something he wanted to know.

"You lied to me!" he yelled, "You told me you had never lied to me, that you didnít need to! What really happened to Conrad?" he demanded.

"I didnít lie to you, Captain Scarlet, you truly spoke with your friend. He is still alive, but he has no free will. He is...suppressed, unless the Mysterons wish to use him. Believe me, Captain, he is as beyond help as you are now. I will leave you now, to make the most of your last few minutes. Goodbye Captains."

Scarlet felt sick to the pit of his stomach.

They had less than ten minutes before Grey arrived. It was no use kidding themselves that Grey wouldnít open fire, he knew his duty as much as any of them. As they saw it, they had only three options. To find a way to communicate, to escape from the submarine, or to prevent the attack on Captain Grey. There was no way they could prevent the attack on Grey, locked in bridge with the controls destroyed, there was nothing they could do to prevent the launch of the torpedo. Not that they understood how it could be fired anyway! But judging from what had just happened, they were unlikely ever to understand. Escaping from the submarine seemed a virtual impossibility. Their only exit route appeared to be through the conning tower. They would be unable to open the hatch at this depth, and even if they could, they would surely drown before they could reach the surface safely. They had to communicate somehow. All three stood before the communications desk and regarded it grimly. The station was a mass of melted plastic and exposed wires. Ochre reached down into it as he spotted something. Pulling out the remains of two bullets he realised straight away that this was no simple shorting out of circuits.

"This whole areaís been destroyed. This isnít accidental. Theyíve got their agents out and deliberately destroyed it." Ochre threw the bullets to the floor irritably, "And we fell for it."

Scarlet looked around, there had to be something else, there just had to be. He spotted the Command Station; perhaps a separate link to communications would be accessible from there. Walking towards the console, his foot kicked something small, slim and cylindrical. It rolled under the console, curious, Scarlet bent to investigate. Standing slowly, he held the object as if it were porcelain. It was a short range, hand-held communicator.

"Adam, Rick!"

Both turned to see the precious object.

"Where did you get that?" asked Ochre incredulous.

"It was just lying there, must have rolled off the console when the submarine listed. I guess they just didnít see it when they left," replied Scarlet, setting the Communicator to the Spectrum emergency wavelength.

"Thatís a short wave, communicator. Nobodyís close enough to hear. And by the time they are, weíll be attacking them." Blueís frustration showed.

"Iím setting it to the emergency frequency. The Spectrum satellites will boost the signal. We should be able to reach Cloudbase," Scarlet explained, then added, "I hope."

"Try it," encouraged Ochre.

"Captain Scarlet to Spectrum, code 1 emergency, come in please."

"Go ahead Captain Scarlet," came the familiar voice of Lieutenant Green.

"We may not have long. Myself, Blue and Ochre are aboard the SR147. Itís been disabled and abandoned but our exits are blocked. We know Captain Grey is on his way. Black has arranged for a torpedo to be fired at him from the sub. Heís trying to get Grey to destroy the sub with us in it. Heíll be here any minute, please warn him."

"At once, Captain Scarlet. Green out."

Turning their attention to the armament console, they tried to find a way to prevent the launch of the torpedo. It was useless; the console was shattered beyond use or repair. Having no way of knowing how it would be fired, there was no way to prevent it.

"We canít just stand here!" snapped Ochre.

"What else can we do?" replied Blue, "Nothing works, and we canít even leave the bridge."

"I know," Ochre shoved the back of a seat and it spun, "I just feel so useless." The frustrated captain admitted. "Greyís on his own out there and we donít even know whatís happening."

As he spoke the communicator crackled to life.

"Captain Scarlet?"

"Captain Grey? Are you ok?"

"S.I.G. Captain! Thanks for the warning! Whatís your current state?"

"Semi flooded, most controls gone and weíre locked in the bridge."

"So," Grey sighed, "average day then?"

Scarlet laughed, it had been a while since he thought anything was funny.

"Letís see if we can re-float you," continued Grey.

 

***

 

Colonel White entered the Control Room. Senior Agent Wade had arrived not half an hour ago and White had since that moment been in conference with him privately. Discounting his personal feelings about the man, White had presented a factual and objective account of Agent Connersí unacceptable behaviour. Wade had left the Colonel with his permission to speak frankly with other Spectrum Officers to gain an overall opinion. White was left with the very distinct impression that this had not been the first complaint made against Conners, and it probably wouldnít be the last.

"Have there been any developments, Lieutenant?" White said almost automatically as he entered the room. It wasnít until after he had spoken that he noticed the broad smile on the young Lieutenantís face.

"Yes Sir! Captain Scarlet called in. Captains Scarlet, Blue and Ochre are on the SR147. He didnít have much time to speak, but the submarine has been diasabled and abandoned and he gave a warning of an attack on Captain Grey. Heís near to them, Sir, I think it may soon be over."

"Thatís good news Lieutenant," White sighed, allowing himself a relieved smile. "Good news, at last."

 

***

 

Doctor Fawn looked sternly at his patient. He didnít believe that he was fit for duty, but he was being put under pressure by Captain Magenta to be declared fit.

"No, Iím sorry Captain Magenta. I canít release you for duty."

"Light duty then."

"No."

"Am I under arrest?" asked Magenta a little hesitantly.

Fawn was caught unawares; he hesitated, more because he couldnít understand why Magenta should ask the question than through any deliberate avoidance of an issue. Magenta feared the worst; Fawn was holding him in Sickbay to avoid them having to tell him.

"Of course not," Fawn finally replied.

Magenta felt he was lying to him; he had to see Colonel White to present his case. His mouth dried as he thought of an interrogation by Agent Conners. Surely, the Colonel wouldnít allow it. But what if he did, what if it was already arranged, if he went to the Colonel now, heíd only be bringing the inevitable closer?

Fawn looked with concern at the distress in the eyes of the Irish captain.

"Magenta," Fawn spoke softly, reassuringly, "Youíre not under arrest. Iíll sign you off for non-confined recuperation if thatís what it takes to convince you."

Magenta looked up, his anxiety abating, "No conditions? I donít have to remain in my quarters or anything?"

"Well," Fawn hesitated, "you shouldnít leave Cloudbase. But that doesnít mean youíre under arrest. Youíve been hit hard, you have a concussion. I canít ignore that."

"Iím sorry Doc, Iím being paranoid."

"Yes, you are!" Colonel White spoke from the open Sickbay door.

"Colonel?"

"Captain, I wish youíd listen to Doctor Fawn. Weíre all on your side here," White tried to reassure him. "Iíve presented my report to Senior Agent Wade and he and Agent Conners have left Cloudbase."

"ThenÖ?"

"There was never any risk of your arrest Captain. There was never a charge to answer in my book. But Captain, I have some questions of my own."

"Yes Sir," Magenta looked down ready for the worst. Somehow, the Colonel still managed to surprise him.

"For instance, how many Pardons do you think the World Government are likely to grant one individual, Captain?"

"Colonel?"

"You know what Iím talking about Captain, Iím not a fool and I donít appreciate being taken for one."

"I ÖIÖ" Magenta stammered. Watching the Colonelís stern face, he knew heíd have to come clean. As Grey had told him earlier, he needed the Colonel on his side. "I only hear from them now and again. I donít tell them anything. They donít know Iím with Spectrum."

White sighed, he was disappointed; Magenta felt worse than if the Colonel had been angry.

"Iím sorry, Colonel. Iíve let you down. Iíll resign, of course, you donít have to ask me."

"Youíll do no such thing!" replied White, furiously. "Iíve just spent the last half hour defending you to Spectrum Intelligence. Acting on information received from a known criminal doesnít make you one, the police do it all the time. Iím sure Captain Ochre will tell you that. But, Magenta believe me, if at any point from now I even suspect that youíre maintaining your old contacts and breaking the conditions of your Pardon, then Iíll have you locked up and Iíll throw the key away myself. Do you understand me, Captain?"

"Yes, Colonel." Magentaís face was ashen; he knew the Colonel never made idle threats.

 

***

 

"Ok, Captain Scarlet, can you see the Navigation Station? Itís almost immediately to the right of Command Desk."

"Got it," replied Scarlet.

"Good. To the left is the Emergency Operations Console. Yes?"

"You have to be impressed," remarked Blue, "he knows his submarines."

Ochre nodded.

"Ok, what am I looking for?"

"Do you have control of the fore or aft pumps?"

Scarlet flicked the relevant switches, sometimes more than once.

"Hmm, I donít think this is good."

"What have you got?" asked Grey again.

"Weíve got aft pump three."

"Is that all?" Grey let out a heavy sigh, "Well, I guess you could try it, but it wonít be nearly enough," he continued, troubled by the news.

Feeling that something was probably better than nothing, Scarlet turned the pump control to maximum. Immediately on doing so, a violent explosion rocked the submarine. Scarlet was thrown across the console and Blue and Ochre thrown forward where they stood, slamming hard into the rail that ran the perimeter of the centre section of the bridge. The submarine then lurched in the opposite direction throwing Scarlet backwards, away from the console. He landed awkwardly against the arm of the consoleís chair, which spun, throwing him from the raised section to the floor below. Behind him, Ochre and Blue, who had grabbed the rails, were now being tossed backwards by the force and speed of the submarineís motion. Blue landed on his injured left arm with a shout of pain. Ochre cracked the back of his head on the corner of the Command Desk as he fell. His eyes rolled back in their sockets, he dropped instantly to the floor and lay still and soundless. The trickle of blood that moved along the floor under his head soon became a small puddle and Ochreís brown hair became matted. The submarine lurched again; Blue had tried to stand to attend his colleagues, but was thrown once more to the deck.

Scarlet groaned; dazed and winded by the fall, he raised his head to see Ochre on the floor ahead of him, his head resting in a small but widening pool of blood.

"Rick?! Rick, are you ok?"

Scarlet was about to get to his feet, but the wildly pitching submarine knocked him flat again. A terrible grating noise behind him drew his attention. Looking back towards the noise, Scarletís eyes opened wide in terror as he saw the Navigation Console teetering on the edge of the raised section of the deck, having torn away from its housing. As the submarine rocked again, the console toppled and landed across both of Scarletís legs. The captain emitted a cry of anguish and pain as he felt the weight of the console crushing him. Gasping for breath through the pain, he could hear the desperate voice of Captain Grey from the communicator. He had seen the explosion and heard the cries of pain and concern from his fellow officers. Scarlet wanted to reply, he still held the communicator. He drew it slowly towards his mouth but no sound could leave his rapidly tightening throat. Vaguely aware that the submarine seemed once again to be settling, he saw Blue slowly start to rise. The communicator fell from his hand as his head hit the deck.

"Captain Scarlet! ANYBODY!" shouted Grey anxiously.

"Captain Grey," Blue whispered, picking up the communicator.

"Adam! Whatís happened in there?"

"Explosion, source unknown. Ochre and Scarlet are in a bad way, Brad, and Iím not so good myself."

"Blue, the subís ripped open, thereís water pouring in. If the salt water reaches the engines, theyíll blow. Iíve got to get you out of there now."

"Itís too dangerous, Brad. You have to leave us, or youíll be killed too."

"Iím not just going toÖÖ"

"Go! Thatís an order," insisted Blue with as much authority as his weakened, pain-racked body could muster.

"You canít order me, Blue! Youíre not even on duty! Iím getting you out of there."

Captain Blue was too weak to argue; falling to the floor alongside Scarlet, the communicator rolled from his hand.

 

***

 

"Captain Thomas?" Grey addressed the injured Stingray captain.

Grey had earlier settled Thomas in the guest sleeping quarters aboard the Stingray, located immediately behind the helm, on the deck below. Thomas had regained consciousness now, and whilst significantly weakened, thankfully seemed far from death; as Grey had originally feared.

"Captain Grey?" Thomas saw the urgent look on Greyís face and surmised that something was wrong. "What is it?" he asked starting to sit up.

"I have to leave the Stingray. My colleagues are trapped on the SR147, I have to get them out."

"Then youíll need scuba equipment, you can leave via the topside airlock. Iíll have to operate the controls to let you in and out."

"Can you manage? Are you strong enough?"

"Yes, Captain, I wonít let you down."

"I need some explosives too, Iíll have to blow the top off the conning tower."

Thomas regarded Grey with a grave expression.

"Itís that desperate?"

Grey nodded, his own face echoing Thomasí concern.

Thomas brought the Stingray alongside the SR147 and clamped on to the side with its new addition of magnetic pods. In the topside airlock, Grey stood ready with two sets of scuba equipment; due to the depth, each tank contained an unusual cocktail of nitrogen and oxygen. Wearing one of the buoyancy control devices with the tank securely strapped to the back, Grey held the spare in his left hand; each tank sported two regulators. In his right hand, he clutched explosives and detonators. Water started to flood the airlock. Captain Grey was still in uniform, without even time to pull on a wetsuit; he shivered in the cold water. Still, he had no intention of being in it for very long; if he were, chances were heíd be blown up along with the engines of the submarine.

Swimming to the now settled but still seriously listing submarine, Grey attached the explosives along the rim of the conning tower. He had no idea how far away he would need to be to be safe from the explosion, but however far it was, he knew he would have very little time before his friends drowned. He would have to be quick. Deciding to drop down rather than move outwards, he waited the few seconds for the explosion to tear a hole in the tower. He prayed it would be enough to allow him to pass through. The time seemed to pass agonisingly slowly but when it did finally explode, Grey neednít have worried; the amount of explosive he had used almost blew the whole of the top of the tower away. Water poured through the hole and Grey swam in with it. Almost immediately, he saw Captain Blue, already chest deep in water and suddenly conscious, woken by the unexpected influx of the cold water. Handing him the spare tank, he immediately went to Ochreís aid, who he saw lying face down in the water as it rose quickly, now already almost filling the bridge. Dragging him to where Blue now trod water, holding onto the life-giving tank of air, he handed him over to Captain Blueís care. Blue inserted the second regulator into Ochreís mouth. Coughing through the regulator, Ochre woke. He hadnít breathed in much water, but nevertheless it was painful enough as his lungs fought hard to expel the brackish water. Grey stared in dismay at Blue as he realised he hadnít spotted Scarlet. Blue pointed urgently down towards the deck. Looking down, Grey frowned as he saw Scarlet, lying face down on the deck, still pinned by the heavy equipment. Grey could only hope that buoyed by the salt water the console would be quick and easy to move. Diving swiftly, Grey was at Scarletís side in moments. Thankfully, the console now moved easily. Easing the regulator into Scarlet's mouth, Grey grasped his tunic and pulled him towards Blue and Ochre, who waited near the freshly made exit in the conning tower. Grey jabbed his thumb upwards, indicating that they should leave immediately. Blue helped Ochre through first, then followed. Grey pushed Scarlet through the hole and brought up the rear. Swimming the few yards to the Stingrayís airlock, they were no sooner inside than the magnetic pods were released. To Greyís surprise, the Stingray was moving away at speed before the water cleared.

"Blue, take over," ordered Grey, as he raced through the now open airlock door toward the helm.

In the pilotís seat, Captain Thomas smiled faintly at him.

"Told you I wouldnít let you down."

Behind them, the SR147 sent a shock wave which almost knocked them down to the sea floor, as the exploding atomic engines tore it apart. Recovering easily from the dive, the experience of Captain Thomas was evident.

Realising just how close they all had come to death, Grey took a deep breath and let it out slowly, running his hand through his hair and down behind his neck. Now allowing himself a grin, Grey shook his head.

"You did more than that, Captain. You did far more than that!"

 

***

 

Fawn was glad heíd released Magenta to light duties. The arrival of Captain Greyís rescue party had left him with four new patients. The Sickbay was full and busy. Scarlet lay in the Life Recovery Unit, which had been especially designed for him. With a half frown, Fawn realised that Scarlet would soon wake and heíd need to run some tests. Ochre had a concussion and a strained wrist, he just required a bandage and observation, but then there were a couple of bullets to remove from his other two patients and a hand to stitch.

Captain Blue, was grumbling something about needing to get back to his vacation. What could possibly be so urgent? Thought the harassed doctor. At least he had a vacation to get back to!

With the assistance of two other Cloudbase doctors, the minor surgery was quickly dealt with and his patients now resting. No rest for the wicked, thought Fawn as Scarlet stirred and proceeded to try to remove the electrodes monitoring his pulse and breathing.

"Not till I say so, Scarlet, you know the routine by now!"

"But IÖ" Scarlet had been about to protest that this time he hadnít actually died this time, and, therefore the tests should not be necessary. On spotting the WASP captain in the bed opposite, he cut himself short. "If you must!" he sighed lying down again.

Fawn turned to speak to the WASP captain, "I wish all my patients were as easy going as you."

Thomas could only laugh, "I guess the guys at Marineville wished their Doctor would put up with as much as you!"

Fawn shrugged, he knew it was true. He sighed visibly as he saw the usually compliant Captain Blue trying to attract his attention yet again.

"When Iím finished with Scarlet!" he snapped, looking over his shoulder at the uncharacteristically impatient Blue.

"I can wait," suggested Scarlet helpfully.

Fawn looked puzzled, he looked from one to the other and back again.

"Whatís going on here? Have you two swapped personalities or something?"

Scarlet replied with an innocent look. Fawn knew something was up and was in all honesty curious, but didnít have the time to concern himself with Scarlet and Blueís games.

"Alright!" he strode over to Blueís bedside, "What is it, Captain?"

"Sign me out of here, please, Doc. I donít get much time off."

"Youíre still recovering, a day or so maybe."

"No!" Blue almost shouted, "No, sorry," he continued regaining his composure, "Please Fawn, I might as well be down there as under your feet here. What do you think Iím going to get up to?"

"Well, I donít know, maybe youíll get shot again!"

"Well, I canít promise," grinned Blue, "but youíll be the first to know if I do."

"Iíll clear it with the Colonel," replied Fawn giving in. It was clear he wasnít going to give up.

"Hah! Hope youíre comfy there, Adam!" Ochre cut in.

Blue frowned; the Colonel would still be mad at him for lying about his destination. There was no chance heíd let him off that one.

"Ok, Blue," Fawn returned.

"I can go?" asked the astonished captain.

"Sure, get dressed and report to Colonel White."

"Oh!" Blue replied disheartened.

"Come on, Adam," Scarlet tried to cheer him, "Heíll let you go. Take the punishment and get back on vacation."

"I hope so."

"So do I," smiled Scarlet with a glint in his eye. "Good luck!"

Blue smiled gratefully. Paul was a good friend.

 

***

 

Captain Grey stood before Colonel White, his face etched with concern.

"Colonel, I didnít get a chance to complete my report. I didnít see Captain Magenta in Sickbay. Is he, I meanÖ."

"No, Captain," White interrupted. "Doctor Fawn released him to light duties, heís assisting one of Fawnís junior doctors with some data he wanted downloaded."

"I see," Grey frowned. "Well no, Colonel, I donít see. When I left, Magenta seemed under threat of arrest. He was a nervous wreck."

"Captain," explained White, "I know what was going on. Weíve discussed the matter, and I donít believe heíll be contacting his ex-colleagues again."

Grey smiled, relieved, "And Agent Conners?" he asked.

White leaned forward on the desk and shook his head.

"Between you and me, Grey, I think that man is quite objectionable. But I also think that Intelligence knows this and uses it to its advantage."

"Colonel?" Grey paused, not really believing what he was hearing; "You mean heís acting like that under orders?"

"Yes and no. I believe he acts like that because heís naturally like that!"

Grey smiled, it wasnít often the Colonel would be that candid.

"No, I think heís being allowed to act like that, because they think it will get the response they want," continued White. "What worries me is that he has no idea that heís out of line. More specifically, Iím worried that if anything happens as a result of this, heís more likely to get a promotion than a reprimand."

Grey frowned; it was unthinkable that he should return to Cloudbase one day as Senior Agent Conners with an impressionable young Spectrum Intelligence Agent under his wing.

"Anyway," White seemed relieved to change the subject, "thank you, for arranging for Captain Thomas to come to Cloudbase to recuperate. I owe that man the lives of four of my best officers."

"I knew youíd want to thank him personally, Sir."

"Yes," White looked thoughtful for a moment, pondering how the outcome could have been so very different, "Yes. And other good news, Captain, is that I have received a communication from the World President. Iíll be briefing you all later, but the gist of it is; business as usual for Spectrum from now on. No more suspicions, lies or secrets. President Younger has absolute confidence in us again: we stopped the Mysterons and kept Professor Lomas safe."

Despite the good news, Grey detected a weariness in Colonel Whiteís voice. It had been a hard won battle, that ought not to have been necessary.

At that moment the door opened, Captain Blue stood uncertainly in the doorway.

"Iím sorry, Colonel, I didnít realise you were busy," he spoke, almost relieved to be able to turn away.

"Donít go, Captain, I want to speak to you." Whiteís voice sounded very unforgiving. "That will be all, Captain Grey."

"Sir," replied Grey turning to leave, and smiling cheerfully at Blue as he left.

"Captain Blue."

Blue walked nervously towards his Commander-in-Chief, his right arm rigid at his side, he nevertheless tried to appear as calm as he could.

"Captain, youíre recovered."

"On the mend, Sir, yes."

"Fawn tells me that he wants you to stay in Sickbay for a day or so, but youíre refusing." White raised his eyes to the young captain. "Is this true?"

"Not entirely Colonel. I wanted to get back to my vacation. I can sit about just as easily there as I can in Sickbay."

"Ah yes, THERE. And where might I ask, Captain Blue, is THERE exactly?"

"Hawaii, Sir." Blue hung his head.

"Not Cairns then?"

"No Sir."

"No Sir? Is that all you have to say?"

"No Sir, I mean, yesÖ.well, I didnít plan it like that, it was a last minute change. I didnítÖ." Blue sighed, there was only one thing he could say, "Iím sorry Colonel."

"Sit down, Captain Blue." White raised the seat nearest the tense captain. "What is it?"

"Sir?"

"Blue, youíre in enough trouble, letís not add insult to injury by pretending you donít know what Iím talking about."

"Iíve had things on my mind Colonel, personal stuff." Blue glanced briefly at Green then back to White, "I canít really say."

"What if I were to insist?"

"Please Colonel." Blue raised his bright blue eyes to meet the Colonelís interrogative gaze.

White frowned, "Itís not typical of you, Captain Blue, so I wonít take any action this time. But there had better not be a repeat of this."

"No Sir." Blue avoided the Colonelís curious gaze.

"Iíll arrange for Rhapsody to return you to Hawaii."

"Thank you Colonel," replied Blue, standing, obviously relieved.

"And Blue?"

"Yes Colonel?"

"Good luck." He smiled brightly.

Blue took a deep breath as he considered whether he thought the Colonel knew what was on his mind. "Thank you, Colonel," he replied uncertainly.

 

***

 

Only a few short hours later, Blue found himself back in the hotel room with everything as heíd left it. His last mission seemed a long way away already; he had a lot to prepare and only one day left.

 

***

 

Blueís heart lifted and he took a deep, happy breath as he caught sight of Symphony as she exited the airportís personnel gate, briefly stopping to wave to Rhapsody in the helicopter behind her. Racing to Blueís arms, Symphony wrapped her arms around the captainís waist and pulled him close to her. Their embrace was a tender and loving one, gentle yet passionate.

"Iím sorry your vacation got messed up," Symphony said, stroking his injured left arm gently.

Captain Blue took Symphonyís left hand and kissed it. His thoughts drifted to the sapphire and diamond ring nestling in his pocket and all his hopes and dreams that went with it.

"Donít worry," he promised, "Iíve a feeling everythingís going to be fine now."

 

THE END

 

This story is based on characters created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson for the TV series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, Stingray, all characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.  Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, T.V.  media, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.

 

OTHER STORIES BY SUE STANHOPE

 

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