So Beautifully Framed

 

A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" Story

By Sue Stanhope

 

 

 

My name is Bradley Holden. Brad to my friends. You have no idea who I am, I know. In fact, Iím certain that you wouldnít know me from Adam. Heh! Well, maybe from Adam, but, Iím still not giving much away. Iíve always been a military man, one way or another. I thought I always would be. But instead, Iím in a cell awaiting court-martial for a list of the most serious charges you can imagine. Iíve been branded a traitor, but really, Iím just a fool. I am, or rather, I was, Captain Grey of Spectrum and this is my story.

 

***

 

I couldnít believe it when she spoke to me. It wasnít just that she said something; it was what she said. That sort of thing just doesnít happen to me. I should have known then that something was wrong, but, hey, Iím a guy, I was flattered. Next time I wonít make the same mistake again. Listen to me. Next time! Unless something happens real quick there wonít be a next anything. I guess I should explain.

It all started six months ago with a short furlough in Amsterdam. No, itís not what you think, I like the art galleries. From the maps I saw in the museums, I doubt Amsterdam has changed much in a couple of hundred years. I think itís always been beautiful. Maybe thatís why itís produced so many wonderful artists. It was certainly why I was there then.

 

***

 

"Stunning."

The voice was soft and velvety. Grey turned his head away from the painting he was admiring. Beside him stood a slender brunette. She was approximately five foot seven inches and whilst not conventionally beautiful, there was something about her that appealed to him.

"It is, isnít it," Grey nodded as he flashed an appreciative smile at her.

" I meant you," she replied smoothly, slipping her arm around his waist.

"Excuse me?" Grey almost choked.

If she acknowledged his discomfort at all, it was merely to give him a playful squeeze and to wrap both arms about his waist.

"I said..."

"I heard what you said," Grey replied trying to prise her now interlaced fingers apart. "Now, would you..."

Suddenly releasing him, she stepped back, looking coyly down at the floor.

"Youíre married?"

"No," Grey replied, then instantly cursed himself for answering her question and encouraging the conversation.

"Good," she smiled. It was a dazzling, genuine smile. Somehow, despite his reluctance, Grey found himself smiling back at her. An infectious sense of fun communicated itself from the mysterious woman and Grey couldnít help but be bowled over by it. Even her somewhat bold introduction to him no longer seemed out of place.

"I know a small, sweet place where we can get a drink and something to eat," she suggested running her hand gently down his arm.

Grey was once again momentarily lost for words.

"Iíll take that as a yes then," she said, slipping her hand into his and gently pulling to lead him out.

"Wait!" he finally managed to stammer. "Do you know me? Or at least think you do?"

She smiled, almost sympathetically, at him. "Not yet."

Grey smiled, relaxed for the first time. This sort of thing never happened to him. He wondered if anyone would believe him back on Cloudbase. Probably not, he decided.

"So," he took a deep breath as he thought about what to say. "Whatís your name?"

"Heather, whatís yours?"

"Brad," he replied, still with a degree of uncertainty about the unfamiliar situation in which he found himself. He now felt sure that she would announce her mistake on hearing his name.

Picking up on his tone, she now found herself grinning at him. "Are you sure?" she asked him with a quizzical look.

"Yeah, Iím sure," he replied with an almost shy smile.

Once outside, Grey allowed Heather to lead him through the pretty, familiar streets of Amsterdam. Chatting as they walked, theyíre conversation grew lively, loud and animated as Grey and Heather started to feel more relaxed in each others company. Almost without thinking about it, Grey placed his arm around her protectively as a chill wind blew up from a passing truck. It felt natural, it felt good, it felt as if they had known each other for years.

"So, where are we going?" asked Grey finally as they stood on a bridge looking out over the stunningly beautiful Herengracht canal.

"Over there," she said pointing to a tall thin house on the opposite side of the canal.

"Thatís not a restaurant," replied Grey with raised eyebrows. Turning towards Heather, he saw the mischievous glint in her eyes once more.

"When did I say we were heading for a restaurant?"

Grey laughed, "I guess you didnít. So, itís yours?"

"It belongs to the company, Iím on secondment here for two years. Iíve been here three months already, the timeís going far too quickly. I love it here, but Iíll have to go back home to England when the contractís finished."

Grey smiled. "I can get to England pretty easily too." He almost blushed at the implication of what he had said, but her reaction, a broad smile, reassured him that he had not spoken out of turn. "What do you do?" he asked as they started, once more, to walk on.

"Iím a bio-chemist," she added in a tone that suggested that her job was less exciting than it sounded. "I work at Norton-Harris Agricultural in the laboratories."

"Do you enjoy it?" Grey got the distinct impression that she didnít want to discuss her work, but felt it would be rude not to show an interest.

"Itís a job," she replied with a shrug, "it has its good days, occasionally."

Grey knew that now was the time to change the subject, but found himself caught out when it was Heather who asked the next question.

"So, Brad," she began as she turned her key in the lock and pushed the door open, "what do you do?"

It hadnít occurred to Grey to be prepared for the question. He had been too busy enjoying Heatherís company to think about Spectrum security. Security? That would do, he thought.

"Iím in security," he replied as honestly as he could.

"Where?"

"Wherever they send me."

"Where are you at the moment?"

"Right now?" he replied, pausing as he closed the door behind him. "Iím in the house of a very beautiful woman."

Sliding his left arm gently around her waist, Grey rested the fingers of his right hand lightly under her chin and drew her lips towards his.

 

***

 

So that was it. I had met the woman of my dreams. She was beautiful, intelligent and fun. Who could ask for more? I only had three more days left on my furlough; it wasnít nearly enough. Twenty-four hours a day in her company left me longing for more. I abandoned my hotel in favour of her spacious, well appointed home. We visited museums, art galleries and walked for miles just talking. It was the best few days of my life. The last day came with predictable haste. Sitting in a quiet, relaxing cafe terrace on the banks of the Amstel River, it was as if she read my mind.

 

***

 

"Youíre very quiet, Brad. You know, I donít think youíve said a word since we sat down."

Grey shrugged, unable still to tear his eyes away from his rapidly cooling coffee.

"Brad?" her tone was more urgent this time. She demanded an answer, she deserved one.

"Itís my last day, I have to go home."

"Home being where exactly?"

"Not close enough," he replied broodily.

"Youíre very evasive about what you do and where you live. You know everything about me, but youíre holding back."

Grey finally looked up; she sounded hurt, even angry with him.

"I want to see you again, Heather. Meeting you has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I donít want to lose you."

"Oh, Iím sure youíll think differently when youíre back home with your wife, however little she understands you."

"I told you, Iím not married."

"Then why so evasive? Where are you from?"

Grey took a deep breath. He knew what she really wanted to know but there was no way he could tell her. The only option was to answer her question literally as it was asked.

"Chicago," he sighed.

Heather sat back in her chair. The expression on her face caused Grey to reach comfortingly for her hand.

"Chicago?" she appeared almost as if she would cry. "Oh, Brad thatís so far."

"I know, but the location isnít the problem. Iím rarely there. They send me all over. I donít get much furlough, not enough anyway."

"Furlough? Thatís a military term."

Grey smiled to cover the slip. "Oh, yeah, I used to be in the military, I havenít got out of the habit."

"The military? How much more is there to know about Brad Holden, I wonder?" She squeezed his hand. "So what are you saying Brad? Is this it? Finished?"

Grey heard the catch in her voice as she spoke.

"No," he replied softly, "Iíll find a way."

 

***

 

So that was six months ago. I took advantage of Spectrumís personal mailing address, a system by which friends could send mail to a seemingly innocuous address from which it would be forwarded to Spectrum personnel. We kept up a healthy correspondence, all the while growing closer and closer. We saw each other for an occasional day or two, when, ostensibly, my Ďcompany had stationed me nearbyí. In reality, I had somehow managed to swing yet another forty-eight hour pass. People were starting to notice. Of all the guys, I would have to say that the only truly observant one was probably Magenta. Perhaps because in his previous line of work it was essential for him to know if his colleagues were being secretive. Or maybe heís just cleverer than people give him credit for. He gives the impression of being good old, happy-go-lucky, eager to please, Pat. In reality, if he were really like that heíd have been dead in a week on the New York crime scene. No, despite my efforts, Magenta saw the change in me almost as if I had shouted it from the rooftops, or more realistically, down the comm. Perhaps thatís why he did what he did when things turned nasty. I donít know, maybe Iíll never know. But for now I was biding my time, counting down to my next furlough. This was going to be an important one for me. I was going to ask Heather to marry me. I was tingling with anticipation, I wanted everything to be perfect, but most of all I wanted her to say yes. But before that I had to fend off yet another round of less than subtle questions from Magenta as we sat alone in the Officersí Lounge.

 

***

 

"Just a few hours now, Grey," Magenta smiled meaningfully at his fellow officer. "When are you going to tell us about her?"

Grey looked up from his book, his expression giving nothing away.

"What makes you think thereís something to tell, Pat? Iím going on furlough, thatís all."

"Amsterdam again? Iíve been there you know, you can do all the museums on a seventy-two hour pass. Neither does it make me giddy."

Grey snorted his derision.

"Youíre worse than Ochre. Iíll find out, I have my ways you know."

"So have I, Magenta, so have I," Grey murmured more for his own benefit than Magentaís.

"You know, you might as well tell me, save us both a lot of trouble," Magenta continued with more than a hint of impatience in his voice.

Grey gave a faint smile as he returned to his book.

"You wonít be laughing when the Mysterons ruin your hot date," Magenta snapped in frustration.

It was either incredibly bad timing or Magenta was somehow overheard, but at that precise moment, that familiar deep booming voice that still made their blood run cold marked the beginning of yet another Mysteron plot.

 

This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us Earthmen. We have not forgotten your unprovoked attack on our complex on Mars. For our next act of retaliation, within the next forty-eight hours, we will kill General Marsden. We will be avenged.

 

"Oh, Iím sorry, Brad, I didnít want this, I feel like I wished it." Magenta was truly apologetic.

Grey closed his book and rose to his feet as the call came asking all senior staff to report to the Control Room. He smiled thinly as he thought about his chances of actually taking his vacation. Whatever else anyone thought about Magenta, you really couldnít hope to meet a more genuine guy. He felt pangs of guilt lying to him like that, but this was something he wanted to keep to himself, even now. No, he thought, especially now.

"I know, Pat. Itís nothing that canít keep, donít worry."

Magenta frowned. Grey was up to something and he knew it. Picking up his cap, Magenta followed Grey out of the Officersí Lounge.

 

***

 

I really didnít like lying to Pat, heís a good guy and he deserves better. As it turned out, heís got a wiser head on his shoulders than I have and he would take a lot of flack for my poor decisions. I know he has secrets too; who doesnít? Heís made mistakes too, but he shouldnít have had to pay for mine. The next half hour turned out to be quite fateful. The relief I felt now on hearing the Colonelís words would be short lived it turned out. But how could I possibly have known? Maybe itíll teach me not to be so secretive.

Iíve never formed close relationships with any of the guys. We get on, and Iíd risk my life for any of them, but thereís something that stops me letting them in to my own, very private world. I donít have a habitual field partner; you may be wondering why. I did have one once; Conrad Turner, Captain Black. Conrad and I were close, almost like brothers. Then one fateful day, he uncharacteristically lost his nerve and opened fire on the Mysteron Complex on Mars. Now every time the radio crackles to life and I hear that terrible voice, I go cold, I remember the friend I lost. The friend that one day I may have to kill, who may even kill me. I know itís probably not rational, but now, I keep my distance to some extent. The only one who knows how I feel is the Colonel; we share a bond in that we both lost the same close friend. I guess thatís why he doesnít assign me to another partner; I think he understands too much. Perhaps itís just prolonging the agony. I know Iím not moving on, itís probably not healthy, but itís comfortable right now. The loss is even deeper for him, they went back a long way. Sometimes we reminisce over the good times, but itís just like opening up old wounds. Thatís why this is so hard now; what must he be going through at the thought of losing another friend?

 

***

 

Grey and Magenta were the first to arrive in the Control Room. Magenta, not for the first time, noticed an almost imperceptible nod between Grey and the Colonel. He noticed more than they realised. Because of the persona he maintained, people were less guarded in front of him. He wondered if any of them realised that they generally only ever saw one side of his nature. On the rare occasions that they had seen his darker side, they had been quite taken aback. He had once overheard Ochre telling Blue that the first time he had seen it, he had felt quite intimidated. Magenta had taken a perverse sense of pride in that. There was no way that Ochre would ever tell him that himself, but somehow it mattered even more that it was Ochre who had said it. Ochreís statement had been one of almost grudging respect. But of course, that was a long time ago. Now, the pair had more than respect for each other; they were firm friends. Sure, they still bickered and teased each other, but that was all part of it. When the chips were down, they would each risk everything for the other.

Ochre was the next to arrive, and as he did, Magenta found it hard to suppress a smile as the Ďintimidatedí comment crept back into his mind once more. Ochre eyed him with a look of suspicion but decided not to probe further. As he took his seat alongside Magenta, Scarlet and Blue arrived almost simultaneously.

"Well, gentlemen. Youíve all heard the threat," began Colonel White. "I donít think thereís any real doubt about this one. The Mysterons have targeted General Marsden. As you know, General Marsden is a four star general, and one of the most senior officers at Supreme Headquarters Earth Forces. What you may not be aware of is that General Marsden is presently conducting secret peace talks with Bereznik. He is trying to negotiate an agreement with them to establish a greater degree of trust and to maintain a lasting and stable relationship with the Bereznians."

"Good luck with that one," grumbled Magenta quietly.

"Iím glad you think so, Captain Magenta," replied White, sternly.

"I have nothing against the Bereznians," Magenta stated firmly.

"Really?"

Colonel White frowned at Captain Blue who had spoken. Whilst White was certain that Magenta was more than capable of handling the situation himself, he would not have his officers sniping at each other in the Control Room.

"What exactly do you mean by that, Captain Blue?" demanded White. His tone was harsh, uncompromising.

"I was always under the impression that Captain Magentaís position on Bereznik was perfectly clear. I was expressing my surprise, thatís all, Sir."

White sighed. Had Blue carefully worded his explanation to make it sound as innocent as possible, or had it been a genuine slip by an otherwise generally tactful officer?

White decided that it was probably a genuine slip; if Magenta believed otherwise then this was neither the time nor the place.

"If youíre referring to the riots, Blue, that was nineteen years ago. I donít think you can..."

"Captain Magenta! We are discussing the Mysteron threat."

Magenta stopped mid-sentence and took a long deep breath.

"Yes, Colonel. Iím sorry."

"Captains Scarlet and Blue," White continued, "I want you to provide protection for General Marsden. Captains Magenta and Ochre, I want you on standby should further assistance be required. Captain Grey, you will remain as a further backup for the remainder of the day, then you may leave for your furlough as planned."

"Thank you Colonel, but..."

"You will, however, remain on immediate recall for the remaining period of the Mysteron threat, but I have no doubt that it will not be necessary. I spoke briefly to General Marsden only moments after the threat was announced and he is currently being escorted by Spectrum Ground Forces to a maximum security establishment."

 

***

 

So, I was having difficulty containing my elation.  Magenta seemed to have calmed down. I guessed that he had been a little tense over the whole Ďwishing for a Mysteron threatí issue; so that once the Colonel had confirmed that my furlough could proceed as planned, he seemed to settle. I hoped that was it anyway. When we left the Control Room, my mind was racing ahead, making plans. What Iíd do, what Iíd say, how, when, almost to the point that I didnít hear Blue speak to me.

 

***

 

"I didnít mean it the way it came out, you know, Brad."

Grey looked up and studied Blueís contrite expression.

"I donít think Iím the one you should be talking to, Adam. And if I were you, Iíd do it quick, you know how touchy he is about being referred to..."

"If youíre going to say Ďas a criminalí then donít, he knows I donít think of him like that."

"Would it hurt to apologise, Blue? Most of the things we apologise for are unintentional, otherwise, why else would we be sorry?"

Blue sighed; Grey was talking sense. If there was one thing he could safely be sure of, it was that you could rely on Grey. He always seemed to think things through and he rarely panicked. Blue looked suddenly quite distant and thoughtful. If only, Blue thought, Grey had been an astronaut rather than in the Navy. Perhaps if Grey had gone to Mars instead of Black, things would be different now?

"Youíre right," he replied, snapping out of his reverie. "Iíll go talk to him."

 

***

 

Well, I was packed and ready to leave. In truth? I had been ready for some days now. I wouldnít say that I wanted to get it over with because that suggests a certain unwillingness. No this was something I truly wanted, but I was nervous, I mean really nervous. Iíve had some scary moments in my time. Iíve been stuck on the ocean floor during the testing of a prototype submarine, but even that seemed to pale into insignificance compared to this. I was desperate; she had to say yes, she just had to.

It was soon time to leave. Harmony was due to take me down in the helicopter. She was going to take me to the nearest airport where I would catch a flight to Amsterdam. But, as fate would have it, General Marsden was presently stationed in Germany. With Cloudbase now repositioned over Northern Europe, Harmony was now able to take me direct to Amsterdam. I had contacted Heather to tell her I was going to be there a few hours earlier. She seemed just as excited as I was. I was relieved to say the least. I felt the tiniest bit more relaxed as I headed towards the hangar. As I approached, I was somewhat surprised to see Magenta hanging around conspicuously by the hangar doors.

 

***

 

"Magenta? Everything okay?"

Magenta offered Grey a broad smile and strolled over and patted Greyís shoulder in a friendly gesture.

"You didnít have to, you know," he finally spoke as he turned to face Grey.

"I didnít have to, what?"

"Talk to Blue. He spoke to me before he left on the mission. Youíre a good guy, Brad."

Grey shrugged, he hadnít thought heíd done anything. Blue was just as good, and he knew even as he was speaking to him that Blue had drawn the conclusion that an apology was due and would be welcomed.

"Good luck, man." Magenta patted Greyís shoulder again as he turned to leave. "I hope she says yes."

Grey was speechless. Had Magenta worked it out? Had he still got the contacts he claimed to? Or was he just fishing? Grey decided it really didnít matter. It was a nice thing to say; despite all of Greyís secrecy and small lies, Magenta had only words of encouragement for him. It was appreciated.

"Thanks, Pat," he replied with a broad smile. "I think she will."

Magenta replied with a broad smile and a nod, before turning to leave.

 

***

 

So, I was finally on my way. I knew that it was going to be the most important week of my life. I think, looking back now, I had seriously underestimated just how important it would be. But isnít that always the way? I was still nervous though. I was relieved that I would finally be able to discuss my work with her; if she were to become my wife she would be entitled to know. Iíd still had to be selective about what I could tell her; after all, I still needed Colonel Whiteís permission to marry. But I had to tell her some of it. After all, agreeing to marry a security guard, even with the hazards that could bring, was one thing, marrying a Spectrum officer was a completely different proposition altogether. Hazards? As it would turn out, I was the one who needed the warning. I would find out later that it hadnít been all plain sailing for Scarlet and Blue either.

 

***

 

Captains Scarlet and Blue entered the Berlin Maximum Security Building. Even though they had been expected, Scarlet and Blue were impressed by the level of security measures they undertook before being allowed access. Aside from the usual Mysteron check for Captain Blue, the two officers were also obliged to clear fingerprint and retina checks. Satisfied that the two men were who they claimed to be, they were led through into an office. The surprise was evident on their faces as they were confronted by a man in Spectrum Ground Forces uniform; General Marsden was nowhere in sight.

"Good afternoon, Captains, my name is Captain Bauer."

"Good afternoon, Captain Bauer," began Blue, "but we were expecting to meet General Marsden. Is there a problem?"

It was clear from the expression on Bauerís face, a mixture of irritation and embarrassment, that clearly something was very wrong.

"Is the General safe?" asked Scarlet, tension creasing his brow. "He is here?"

"Yes, Captain Scarlet. Yes to both of your questions. But there is an added...er..." Bauer paused, trying to find the right word, "complication."

"What complication?" asked Blue, frowning, dreading what he would now hear.

"When the General arrived this morning, he wasnít alone," he explained with what could only be described as acute embarrassment.

"Not alone?" asked Scarlet, wishing that Bauer would simply explain what was wrong. "He has an aide with him?"

"No, well yes he does, but..."

"Get to the point, Captain," Scarlet snapped in his frustration.

"He also has the Bereznik High Commissioner Velevski with him."

"He has what!" Blue was astounded by the news. "This puts us in an impossible situation. Does he not realise the potential for a diplomatic incident here. If somehow the Mysterons manage to infiltrate this building, if any harm were to come to him whilst under our protection..."

"I know, I know!" interrupted Bauer. "Do you think I like the situation? I was presented with a fait accompli. They arrived together, I could hardly turn him away could I?"

"No," agreed Blue with an air of resignation. "I guess not."

"Where are they now?" asked Scarlet.

"Theyíre in the Main Chambers."

"Well," replied Blue, his tone brighter, "at least theyíll be safe enough down there. How many are there?"

"Just four; General Marsden and his aide Captain Williams, the High Commissioner and his aide, Alexai Dukov.

"And theyíve all completed all of the usual security checks?" Blue posed his question almost as a statement but was to be surprised once more by the awkward silence that followed.

"You did all the checks, didnít you?" demanded Scarlet. He, of all people, knew how the Mysterons frequently placed their agents prior to making their announcements. It may well be that either the High Commissioner or his aide, or possibly both, were already Mysteron agents.

"We checked out the General and his aide but the High Commissioner claimed diplomatic immunity. He..."

"Get us down there, now!" barked Scarlet.

Racing towards the elevators, Blue shouted an instruction to another officer to follow with a Mysteron detector and rifle.

"If Dukov is a Mysteron heíll kill General Marsden, and itís very likely heíll kill the High Commissioner too, if they havenít already. The Bereznian High Commissioner killed under Spectrum protection. I donít think thatíll help the peace talks much, do you?" Blue snapped at Bauer, exasperated by his foolishness.

"But he insisted that he wouldnít be tested, what was I supposed to do?" Bauer leapt to his own defence.

"Overrule him!" retorted Scarlet.

 

***

 

I have to be honest with myself; I panicked. I reacted without thinking and I did the wrong thing. It made me think of Conradís reaction to the situation he faced on Mars. He never panicked, until then, and until now, neither had I. The similarities were drawn; it helped me understand. I was grateful that my misguided actions wouldnít have such far-reaching consequences as his and as ridiculous as it seems, it was a blessing that I would at least die and not suffer the living hell that the Mysterons make him endure.

But there I go again, straying off the point. Where was I? Oh yes, I was in the helicopter with Harmony.

 

***

 

"So, Captain Grey? Amsterdam in August? That should be very pleasant."

"I hope so, Harmony. Itís become almost like a second home for me," Grey replied with a sigh.

"Do you have friends there?" Harmony asked innocently.

Grey smiled. "Yes," he nodded with a slight smile, "practically family."

"Well," replied Harmony as she set the helicopter down gently at Schiphol airport, "I hope you have a wonderful week."

"Thanks Harmony." Grey beamed a smile back towards her. "I hope so too."

Grey had a spring in his step as he jumped down from the helicopter and headed towards the terminal building. His Spectrum pass allowed him to clear all channels in moments. Tucking it neatly back into his wallet, he practically broke into a run as he saw Heather waiting to greet him.

"Iíve missed you!" he announced after a passionate but gentle kiss.

"Iíve missed you too, Brad," Heather agreed. "But now, Iíve got you to myself for a whole week."

"Yeah, well, itís just about possible that I might get called back to work but only for the next thirty hours, after that, Iím definitely all yours."

"You know, Brad, youíre too good, you shouldnít let them play on you like that."

"Itís important, honey. Do you think Iíd let them disrupt our time if it werenít?"

"No, I suppose not." Heather frowned briefly, then brightened. "Come on, Iíve got the car waiting."

 

***

 

So, off we went, back to her place. Youíll forgive me if I skip the details and move straight on to dinner that evening. I had booked a candlelit dinner cruise along the canals. It was a beautiful, warm, clear night. The canals were well lit by a sky full of stars and a nearly full moon. Soft music, wine, candles, a fabulous meal. The scene was set. As the canal boat started to gently drift past the Rijksmuseum, where we had first met, I made my move. Dropping to one knee, I took and gently kissed her hand. Telling her of my love and respect for her, I asked if she would do me the honour of becoming my wife. There was a terrible pause when everything Ė and I mean everything Ė went silent. I held my breath for what felt like an eternity. She was hesitating, I should have known, she would say no, I felt acute embarrassment with all eyes on me.

 

***

 

"Iíd love to be your wife. Yes, yes of course!"

Grey looked up, astonished and ecstatic. The whole canal boat was in uproar, everyone cheering and clapping and wishing them well.

"Are you sure? I didnít just embarrass you into saying yes?"

"Brad, if you hadnít asked me this week, I would have asked you."

Grey grinned. In the back of his mind, lay the nagging doubt that she might change her mind once he had told her about Spectrum, but for now, he would just enjoy the moment.

 

***

 

All I could tell her was that I worked for Spectrum. I had already told her that I was in security but had left out the name of my employers. When I did tell her, she seemed surprised. Actually, no, she was really angry; we had a bit of a row. She accused me of lying to her and hiding things from her. It took me ages to calm her down and make her see that I really hadnít had a choice. I didnít tell her about Cloudbase, my rank or colour code. I knew that would have to wait. All civilian relationships have to be scrutinised, but of course, that should be done before they get this far. I knew that, but somehow, maybe I believed I knew better! Flouting the rules so recklessly was the sort of thing Iíd expect Scarlet or Magenta to do, but no, this time it was me. But not for the same reasons they might do it. Scarlet would do it if he thought it would achieve a necessary goal, Magenta would do it just for the hell of it. Me? I didnít even think about it. It was my world, my life. Finally Iíd found someone I was close to again, I wanted to keep that feeling of just being mine. Boy, had they done their research!

It was the next day that it happened. We were just about to go out when the phone rang.

 

***

 

Heather frowned and looked from Grey to the telephone and back again.

"Sorry, Brad, I should take this call, it could be important."

Grey nodded, only the day before Heather had taken a call from her work. She had been able to deal with it over the phone but there was a suggestion that more calls may follow.

"Right now?" Heather raised her voice. She sounded annoyed and frustrated. "We have plans...no, but...have you tried...? You have? Alright, thirty minutes, but no more."

Heather slammed the phone down more forcefully than she intended to.

"Bad news?"

"Theyíre having trouble with the compound. They canít raise Dieter; heís the other chemist. I have to go in, Brad, Iím sorry. The good news is I know whatís wrong, itís a quick fix but the guys in the lab today arenít qualified to do it. We can go, sort it out and then go on to Leiden. Itís not far out of our way. Do you mind?"

"Of course not, sometimes work gets in the way, I know that. Letís go." Grey smiled as he picked up his wallet from the dresser.

"Thanks Brad."

 

***

 

Well, it seemed reasonable enough. A simple quick fix to something and weíd be on our way. The Van Haart Business Park, which housed Norton-Harris Agricultural, was about an hour drive out of the centre of Amsterdam. Heather had been driving for about fifty minutes already.

 

***

 

"Weíre nearly there, Brad. Would you mind getting my work pass out of my handbag, please? Itís a yellow card, about the size of a credit card, with my photo and signature on it."

"Sure."

Grey reached down and picked up the small bag to search for the identity card. It didnít take Grey long to realise that there was no pass in the handbag.

"Itís not here, Heather."

"What? Oh no! I must have left it in my other bag. If we go back for it now, weíll lose two hours."

"Theyíre expecting you, wonít they let you in without it?"

"No, theyíre really fussy about that."

"Surely itís worth a try? I mean if they want you there badly enough, theyíll sort something out."

"Itís worth a try, I really donít want to have to drive all the way there and back again."

"No, we have precious little time together as it is."

"I hate to ask this, Brad, but do you have your Spectrum pass with you? Wonít that get us in?"

"Well, it probably would, but Iím not supposed to use it like that. Especially not off duty."

"Just a one off, honey, Iíll never ask again."

 

***

 

There was another five minutes drive to the factory. Heather got out of the car and spoke to the guard at the gate. When she came back to the car, she looked crestfallen. She told me weíd have to drive all the way back for her pass. I gave in. I agreed to use my Spectrum pass to get in. It was the worst but not the last mistake of my life, there would be more to come.

She took me straight up to the laboratories. I was surprised when we got there to find the place completely empty. I at least expected to see the guy who had phoned her, but he was nowhere to be seen. At least Heather seemed to know what she was doing.

 

***

 

"I wonít be long, honey, why donít you wait over there?" Heather smiled and indicated to a workstation on the far side of the room.

Grey happily took his seat and watched her work. She seemed to Grey to be initialising a computer program; she had even brought a CD. Grey considered what she was doing, and decided that she was probably loading the formula she had been talking about earlier.

"Brad, could you enter this disk in the workstation youíre at and run the program, please?" she asked, throwing a CD like a frisbee in his direction. "Then weíre done."

"Okay," replied Grey catching the disk easily and inserting it into the drive.

 

***

 

It took only seconds for the alarms to sound. I looked up at Heather. Was it the fire alarm? She was standing by the door wearing an expression, which was a strange combination of pity and arrogance. Somehow, I knew instantly that my world was crumbling.

 

***

 

"All yours, Grey. Too bad, I really liked you."

Slipping out through the closing door, Heather was suddenly gone. A moment of stunned silence held Grey immobile. Able, at first, only to stare in astonishment at the door, Grey finally gathered his senses before jumping up from the chair and racing towards the door. Later, Grey had to admit to himself that finding it sealed and locked was what he should have expected, but his mind was in turmoil. His fiancťe had done something terrible, that he knew; and whatever she had done, she had left him to take the blame. Suddenly following her was no longer his priority. He had to discover what she had done and correct it. Hurrying back to the workstation, Grey set to work. He wished Green or Magenta were there, he was adequate with computers but no more than that. His first thoughts were to try to read the contents of the CD, maybe he could work it out and stop whatever it had intended to do.

"Oh no!" Grey exclaimed as he stared at the blank screen, whatever information had been held on the CD had already been deleted. It had all been carefully arranged. He then looked up as the door slid back revealing three armed men.

 

***

 

And then it dawned on me; she had called me ĎGreyí. She didnít know me as Captain Grey. Well, clearly she did. The last six months had been a carefully planned set up. From the moment we had met in the Rijksmuseum, she had been working towards this moment. All I could think about was Ďwhat had she done?í. I wasnít interested in my personal safety, I guess thatís down to the W.A.S.P. and Spectrum training, but she had obviously and very deliberately done something extremely dangerous. All I wanted to do was to stop it. The CD had been wiped clean; they assumed I had done it on purpose, though what on Earth they thought I was still doing there I donít know. Needless to say, they ignored my pleas of innocence.

 

***

 

"Get up, with your hands in the air and move away from the terminal," ordered the lead guard.

"Look I want this sorted as much as you do." Grey rose to his feet, careful to keep his hands in view at all times. "I donít know what sheís done, butÖ"

"Yeah, right! Just get over there, face the wall and donít say a word!"

"But we have toÖ"

Grey was cut short as a pistol was levelled at his face.

"Iím pretty sure I told you not to say a word."

"But, we have to stop whatÖ"

 

***

 

And that was it. I was so concerned and in all honesty, more than a little anxious, I didnít even see the gun butt coming towards me. Iím guessing I either hit the floor pretty badly or I took a beating whilst I was out because when I woke up, boy was I sore!

I woke in a small, sparsely furnished room. I was lying on the floor; I had no idea where I was or what was going to happen to me. I had to put my feelings for Heather out of my mind. She had used and betrayed me, but I had loved her. I felt certain that she had felt the same, how wrong could I have been? I managed to get up, I was sure someone had kicked me in the side, maybe even broken a rib. Iíve had enough in my time to know how they feel. There was a chair, but Iíd no sooner found my way into it than the door opened. Two guys walked in. I recognised one as the guard who had spoken to me and tried to crack my skull open. The other guy, I had no idea.

 

***

 

"Right," said the guard. "This is Mr Tandy, the chief of operations. My nameís Greenwood. Who are you and what are you doing here?"

Grey looked up at them. He had no idea whether it was better to reply or not. His hesitation was not welcomed by either of the two men who stood before him. Greenwood slammed his hand down on the table.

"Weíre waiting, Mister!"

Grey eyed him furiously, glaring, partly out of anger and partly out of frustration. Greenwood waved a finger close to Greyís face.

"You wonít be so tight-lipped with Spectrum, Mister."

"Spectrum?" Greyís voice sounded almost shaky as he voiced his surprise. "What did she do?"

"Oh, listen to him!" Tandy almost laughed. "Like you donít know! You had it very carefully planned and arranged, you even got in here using a phoney Spectrum pass and you think weíre gonna be fooled by your little act?"

In truth Grey really didnít know what had happened and was in some considerable distress at the thought of being arrested by Spectrum.

"Youíve called Spectrum?" he queried again.

"Thatís right. Youíre gonna spend the rest of your days in de Wittís!"

Grey closed his eyes in disbelief.

Paul De Witt had been member of the World Council, years earlier. A close personal friend of World President Younger, he had been the victim of an horrific personal terrorist attack. That one single act may well have been the catalyst needed to prompt the World President to finalise the formation of Spectrum, intended initially to be a crack anti-terrorist organisation. Spectrum had been the brainchild of the first World President, Nikita Bandranaik, years earlier, but internal squabbles on the World Council had caused numerous delays; some even doubting its necessity and value. President Younger, devastated by his friendís death, pressed home the need for such an organisation and finally managed to bring the project to fruition. As a mark of respect for his friend and respected Councillor, Younger had commissioned a series of Terrorist Prison Installations. The level of security demonstrated at each installation was phenomenal, made all the greater by Captain Magentaís efforts to improve it still further. There were several Terrorist Installations in most continents, all named after Paul de Witt and further identified by the city they stood nearest.

"So." Tandy pulled up a chair and sat opposite Grey across a table. "Who are you and what did you think you were going to achieve here? Do you think our security and failsafe systems are so slack?"

"It didnít work?" asked Grey uncertainly, but with a degree of relief in his voice.

"No, it didnít. If it had, we wouldnít be sitting here now." Tandy rose and slammed a hand down on the table and leaned menacingly forward into Grey. "Name!"

 

***

 

I had very little choice; I had to tell them. As far as they were concerned, I was a terrorist, caught in the act. Spectrum would be here soon and I would be taken to holding cells in Spectrum Headquarters, Amsterdam. I was torn. Half of me was dreading Colonel Whiteís reaction when heíll receive the report and the other half of me wanted to contact him straight away. It wasnít true, I was framed, he had to know that. I hadnít realised quite how long I had been pondering this, but it wasnít long before Tandyís angry voice dragged me back to awareness.

 

***

 

"Name!" he yelled again, his face within inches of Greyís.

Grey pulled his head back sharply, surprised by the intensity of the volume.

"Holden, Bradley Holden," he replied looking away.

"So, Holden, what group do you belong to and where did you get a Spectrum pass?" Tandy continued.

"Iíll talk to the Spectrum guys."

"Donít get smart with me Holden!"

"I donít have to say a thing to you, Iíll wait for Spectrum."

"Really? Well Iíll tell them about your attitude, itís unlikely theyíll go easy on you. Weíve gone right to the top too. No messing about with the local Spectrum offices, weíve gone direct to Cloudbase. I hear those guys are mean! And when they hear youíve gained entry posing as a Spectrum Captain, they are gonna come down on you so hard."

A short pause followed; Grey refused to rise to the bait. This seemed only to infuriate Tandy all the more.

"Didnít you hear me, Holden?" he yelled.

Grey replied with merely a glare.

"Youíll regret this, Holden," he promised. "Spectrum donít like smart mouth terrorists."

"Iíll deal with that when the time comes," Grey replied angrily.

Tandyís reply was a backhander across Greyís right cheek and mouth. This only served to make Grey glare all the more. A harsh, intense glare that told Tandy to back off. Even he would agree later that Greyís stare had unnerved him enough to announce that he wouldnít Ďwaste any more time on himí. Grey knew then that the next person he spoke to would be from Spectrum, but who?

 

***

 

 

Colonel White closed his eyes. Shock really didnít cover how he was feeling. If it had just been the name, he would have dismissed it as a strange coincidence, but the pictures from the security camera had left little uncertainty in his mind. And yet, it was still impossible. The report he held in his hands showed how Bradley Holden had gained unauthorised access to an agricultural plant and attempted to release a deadly gas into the atmosphere. How he had been caught in the act and was awaiting Spectrumís response. The report detailed how pictures had been provided in order that Spectrum may easily identify this terrorist against their records. There was no need to search records. White rubbed his eyes and looked up at the equally astounded Lieutenant Green.

"I donít want this getting out, even to the senior staff, not until we know whatís going on."

"ErÖyes, Sir," replied Green, surprised by the unorthodox instruction.

"You disagree, Lieutenant?" White asked, with more of a ring of resignation than harshness in his voice.

"Sir, itís just that, wellÖ"

"Out with it man!"

"Whoís going to take him into custody, Sir? Theyíre waiting for a response. I can ask Spectrum Headquarters, Amsterdam to take over if youÖ"

"No." White tapped the console impatiently as he pondered the problem. "Get Captain Magenta in here. I think we should take advantage of a little of his expertise."

"What do you mean, Sir?" Green would have been the first to admit to being a little puzzled by the Colonelís statement.

"Magenta knows how the criminal mind works and how to find out whatís going on inside. If this report is true, Magenta will discover it."

"You donít reallyÖ" Green tapered off, it wasnít a sentence he wanted to finish.

"I have to accept the possibility, however difficult. Captain Magenta, please, Lieutenant."

 

***

 

It took only a few minutes for Captain Magenta to arrive in the Control Room. He knew something was wrong before he got there. Called to Control on his own, Magenta had been off duty at the time. There were very few reasons why such a call would be made. Magentaís palms were cold and clammy, light beads of sweat dotted his brow and he felt suddenly cold.

"Captain Magenta, please come in, take a seat."

On entering the Control Room, he noticed Whiteís expression and almost forced casual manner. He was certain, one of his parents perhaps, orÖ He blanched; maybe his sister, Sarah.

"Iíll get straight to the point, Captain, I have a very unpleasant task for you to perform."

Magenta froze; he had no idea what to say or how to react. He felt numb, certain of what he would hear. In that moment, he recalled how he had felt when he had heard of the death of his best friend, Michael Brunton. He had been murdered, callously gunned down so that another man, a much less deserving man, could take over as head of the mob syndicate. He had been filled with a violent mixture of emotions at that time. Overwhelming sadness and regret mixed with fury. But it was as nothing compared with his feelings now. The depth of his emotions then paled into insignificance at the thought that he may well have lost a family member. His feelings were, perhaps, all the more acute because he had not spoken to his parents for some years. They had disapproved of his criminal lifestyle. Outwardly, he joked about not needing them or caring what they thought, but it was clear to anyone who cared enough to scratch the surface, that Magenta loved and missed them enormously. So much did it matter what they thought of him, that he hadnít been able to pluck up the courage to tell them he had given it all up and was now working for Spectrum. Even now, fearful of rejection should it not be enough for them to accept him again. It was one of the first things that, former police officer, Captain Ochre had allowed himself to notice about ex-mobster, Pat Donaghue some time after they had joined Spectrum. Donaghue was human after all and despite everything, he and Ochre had more in common than Ochre had been willing to admit, even to himself. It had been the first tentative step on the road to a very solid and close friendship.

"Yes, Sir?" Magenta finally managed to reply.

"I want you to go to Norton-Harris Agricultural in Amsterdam andÖ"

"Sir?" Magenta interrupted in surprise.

"Donít interrupt me, Captain! I want you to bring a suspected terrorist into custody. I want him brought back to Cloudbase and I want it done discreetly. Do you understand?"

Magenta thought for a moment or two before replying.

"No, Sir, I donít," he finally admitted. "You said this would be unpleasant, Iíve been imagining all kinds of things. Surely this isÖ" Magenta broke off as he realised that White had asked for discretion. "Who is it, Sir?"

White sighed and took a deep breath.

"Itís Captain Grey."

Of all the things that Magenta did or could ever have imagined, it was fair to say that that was not one of them. His expression mirrored that of Whiteís only minutes earlier. Had the Colonel not looked so grave, Magenta may have laughed, believing it to be a joke. But he could see that this was deadly serious.

"Do you believe it, Sir?" the tone of Magentaís voice betrayed his disbelief.

"It is irrelevant what I believeÖ"

"ButÖ" Magenta interrupted again, only to receive a harsh stare from his commander.

"Captain Grey was caught in the act of attempting to release a deadly chemical into the atmosphere. The failsafe mechanisms cut in and the release was prevented."

"Caught in the act? Thatís garbage! Brad would neverÖ"

"Captain! I wonít ask you again!" White snapped, his own tension showing. He paused for a few seconds as he tried to calm himself.

"Iím sorry, Sir."

White drew his lips into a thin line. Magenta was concerned for Grey; he understood that, he was himself. But, he was the Commander-in-Chief of Spectrum, he had to be objective, he had to deal with the situation with which he was presented. He had no choice. He was bending the rules enough by personally intervening and requesting that the arrest be kept quiet.

"Captain," White continued, his tone much softer. "They do not know that they are holding a Spectrum officer, Iíd like it to remain that way. Neither do I want anyone else to hear of this until Iíve had the chance to speak to him. Do you understand me?"

Magenta chewed his lip; this really would be unpleasant.

"Yes, Sir."

"Good. Lieutenant, please advise Mr Tandy that Captain Magenta will be arriving within the hour, and ask Spectrum Headquarters, Amsterdam to stand down."

 

***

 

It was only an hour and a half later that Magenta arrived, but by then I was exhausted. Iíd gone over every tiny little detail of the last six months in my head. I was trying to work out what Iíd missed. What possible clue Iíd overlooked. I couldnít think of even one occasion when Iíd been even remotely suspicious. I felt so foolish. I felt angry too, as much with myself as with Heather. All that training, years of experience and I was taken in like a complete amateur. I donít know how many times I thumped the wall in that short time, but by the time Magenta turned up, the knuckles on my right hand were bruised and scraped. Iíll never forget the moment he walked in. I knew straight off that he was trying to pretend he didnít know me, but the look in his eyes was painful to see. It was disbelief, disappointment and anger or frustration, I wasnít sure which. I had really let everyone down and I couldnít face it, I just couldnít look him in the eyes.

 

***

 

"This him then?" Magenta asked coldly as he walked in.

"Bradley Holden, thatís all heíd tell us," replied Tandy. "Do you know him?"

The question almost took Magenta by surprise, but he quickly realised what Tandy meant.

"Yes, weíre aware of him," Magenta replied, not taking his eyes off Grey, searching for some sign of innocence.

Grey had looked up as he walked in and had subsequently not been able to bring himself to look at him. Magenta noticed as Tandy smirked as he spotted Greyís apparent fear of the Spectrum officer.

"Oh, you may well be afraid now, Holden."

Magenta frowned as Grey looked up, glaring at Tandy.

"Mr Tandy, would you care to tell me how the prisoner managed to get a swollen lip and all that bruising?"

Tandy gave Magenta a contemptuous look.

"He resisted arrest," Tandy almost spat the words.

Magentaís eyes narrowed, he did not like this man. It was pretty obvious that Tandy had had Grey beaten, but to react to the situation was to draw attention to the fact that this was no ordinary prisoner. The sooner they left the better. From his pocket, Magenta drew a pair of handcuffs and approached Grey, who turned and without a word, offered his hands behind him.

"You are scared arenít you, Holden?" Tandy sneered. "Very meek now, I just wish I could see what happens next."

Magenta, with his back to him, counted to ten slowly. There was something about Tandy that made him bristle. Turning he eyed him sternly.

"Thank you very much, Mr Tandy, but Iíll be returning to Cloudbase now."

Tandy snorted in disapproval. He had dropped some very heavy hints; he had expected the Spectrum officer to at least start his investigation in that room, but it was not to be. Grey could sense Tandyís eyes on him as he watched as Grey was led away.

 

***

 

We walked slowly out of the building, escorted by Greenwood. Magenta indicated the way to the car, but of course, I could see it. Close to the offices, we reached it in just a few moments. Seated in the back, I watched silently as Magenta reversed out of the space and headed for the main gate. Neither Magenta nor myself had spoken a word all the way. What could I say? I didnít know what he thought of me. I wasnít entirely sure what I thought of myself. I couldnít even bring myself to make eye contact with him as he fastened the harness for me. We had been travelling for about five minutes when I finally plucked up the courage to say something.

 

***

 

"Pat?" Grey spoke quietly from the back seat.

With a grunt, Magenta threw the weight of his right foot sharply on the brake. Tense and expecting the sudden stop, Magenta barely moved. Grey found himself propelled forward at speed. If it werenít for the harness holding him in place, he would most likely have collided with the seat in front. Thrown back, with some force into his seat, Grey cried out in astonishment, but was cut off almost immediately by a furious Magenta.

"What do youÖ?"

"What the Hell were you doing there, Grey?" he yelled turning to face his companion.

Grey turned to face him for the first time.

"I didnít do it, Pat."

"I know you didnít," Magentaís voice calmed as he spoke, he took a deep breath. "But thatís not what I asked, is it?"

"How do you know?"

"Itís in your eyes," Magenta answered, then raising his eyebrows and taking in a breath, he continued, "or more precisely, itís not in your eyes."

Grey gazed back at him blankly.

"Never mind, just accept that I know. What were you doing there, Brad?"

"I think my fiancťe is a terrorist," Grey replied with a faint smile.

"I think itís fairly safe to say sheís your ex-fiancťe, donít you?"

Grey nodded, smiling weakly.

"Okay, now we have to get you out of this mess. Whiteís asked that itís kept under wraps until heís had a chance to speak to you."

"No, I canít go back now!"

"You know how that looks, Brad?"

"I donít care how it looks! I canít go back."

"Why? Weíre trying to help you here."

"I have to find her."

"You think thatís a good idea do you?" sighed Magenta, shaking his head.

"Iíve got no choice," Grey leaned forward in the seat. "Without her, I have no case, I canít prove my innocence unless I find her."

"And you reckon that if you do sheíll stand up for you?"

Grey hung his head.

"No," he sighed, "probably not." Grey allowed himself a few moments thought. "I loved her, Pat. I keep thinking about her. She probably thinks I was a fool."

"Sheís right!"

Grey sighed. This was all very well, with the benefit of hindsight, but it didnít help at all.

"I have to find her, Pat. You said yourself, I didnít do it."

"Donít be ridiculous, Brad! You have no idea where sheíll be."

"I know where she lives."

"You mean you know where she lived. You donít really believe sheíll still be there do you?"

Grey let out a deep, hopeless sigh.

"I have to find her, Pat. Without her, Iím dead. Sheís not expecting me to go looking; she thinks Iím in jail. Iíll find her, I know it."

Now it was Magentaís turn to sigh. Looking at Grey, he knew, beyond a doubt that he was telling the truth, but all the evidence was against him. There was only one way to prove his innocence and that had to be to find Heather. Without that, Grey was indeed a dead man.

"Tell me everything."

 

***

 

So I did. I didnít know what he was going to do and I know now that he got into a lot of trouble for it. But what could I do? I was desperate.

 

***

 

Magenta chewed his lip thoughtfully, then with a shrug turned forward again and unbuckled his harness.

"What are you going to do?"

"You want to find this woman? You canít do it handcuffed can you?"

"You believe me?"

Magenta laughed softly to himself and sighed.

"Brad, you are many things, but ruthless terrorist?" Magenta paused, shaking his head and sucking in air through his teeth, "I donít think so!"

Stepping from the car, Magenta opened the passenger door and removed Greyís harness and handcuffs.

"And youíll need this," Magenta held out Greyís wallet to him.

Grey took it, silently, still amazed that Magenta trusted him.

"Now, thing is, Brad," he began as he crouched at Greyís side, "Iím not about to get arrested for letting a prisoner go free."

"So, what are you saying?"

"Iím saying, my gunís in my holster, you can reach it from where you are. Can I be held responsible for a mistake like that?"

"You will be, you know you will."

"Well," Magenta slapped the roof of the car as he stood up, "thatís my problem isnít it!"

"I appreciate this, Pat, I really do."

"Yeah, well, just prove me right, thatís all I ask."

"What do you want me to do?"

Magenta rolled his eyes.

"I canít believe Iím even going to suggest this. Iím going to get back in my seat and drive off. Iím going to drive slowly. If you were to take my gun, Iíd have to brace myself for the possibility of attack."

"Your foot would be over the brake?"

Magenta nodded as he rose and closed the rear passenger door. "So," he continued as he slid once more behind the wheel, "if you did hit me, we wouldnít crash."

"I donít think I can do this, Pat."

Magenta shrugged again and turned towards Grey, still seated in the back of the car.

"Well, thatís up to you, Brad, but I have to get going."

Magenta eased the car forward slowly and then picked up speed.

"Iím sorry, Pat!"

Magenta heard Greyís voice, tense with grim determination, as he felt the slightest tug on his holster. Slowing slightly, Magenta grimaced ready for what he felt sure would happen. The gun butt struck the side of his head. It was a last minute decision and Grey had swung the pistol perhaps slightly harder than he had planned. Magentaís foot slammed hard on the brake. They had been travelling faster than Grey had thought and the sudden stop propelled him forward, through the gap between the two front seats. His right shoulder hit the dashboard and he let out a yelp of pain as his fingers numbed suddenly and the gun slipped from his fingers. Magenta was out cold, even before he hit the wheel. Looking upwards Grey could only watch, wide eyed, as Magenta lay slumped over the wheel.

"Pat!" he cried with concern noticing the trickle of blood, which had suddenly appeared on Magentaís neck. Grey pulled himself up using his left hand; his right arm seemed useless, hanging numb and lifeless at his side. He cursed Magenta as he tried without success to haul him back into his seat. "Why didnít you re-fasten your harness?" he snapped as Magenta proved heavier than he expected. The next few moments disappeared in a blur of panic as far from Magenta being eased back into his seat, he slipped to the right. With him the wheel turned and his foot slipped from the brake to hit the accelerator. The Spectrum Car skidded to the right as the speed picked up. Grey looked up; there was an embankment only twenty yards away, but before that, three trees loomed.

The noise was an unpleasant crunch as both tree and car became compressed slightly. The only other sound at that moment was that of Captain Grey moaning in pain as he tried to wake fully.

 

***

 

The horn was blaring, I think if it werenít for that, Iíd still have been unconscious. I guess I hit my head on the dashboard, I donít remember but what I do remember was waking to the sound of voices. I was still lying between the two front seats; Magenta was lying across me, pinning me down. I couldnít feel my right arm. I could see his gun, under his feet; there was no way I could reach it. I could smell burning, I realised the engine was still running. The ignition was only about a foot and a half from where I lay; within easy reach if it werenít for Magenta lying right across me; I could barely move a muscle. Then light streamed in, and I could see the silhouette of a man framed in the door. He reached in and was hauling Magenta out of the car, finally I could move. It was then I saw the smoke and I realised that the engine was on fire. I reached up and cut the ignition, but the smell of burning was stronger now. I couldnít understand what they were saying to me, I realised they were speaking Dutch but the tone was urgent; that I knew. Now I felt someone above me, pulling me up. Another man was pulling me back to the rear seats. I looked longingly at the gun, now out of reach, but from the smell I knew I had to get out, if only for the safety of the guys who had stopped to help us. All I wanted was for my head to clear and to get as far from there as I could. I felt myself being dragged from the Spectrum saloon and pushed into the back of another car. The two men were now shouting to each other as they clambered quickly into the two front seats. Magenta was by my side, still unconscious, but at least his head had stopped bleeding. The car sped quickly forward; its tyres screeching as it did so. We were only moving a few seconds when I heard the explosion. At a safe distance, the driver pulled up and the two men turned to face us.

 

***

 

"Maak niet ongerust, zullen wij u aan het ziekenhuis krijgen."

Grey stared back blankly, prompting the tall, blonde man to speak again.

"Donít worry, we will get you to a hospital. My name is Henrick and this is my brother Nicolaas."

"Thank you," as Grey spoke, Henrick turned back to the wheel, "Iím okay. But heís not."

Turning to face Grey once more, both brothers frowned. Grey followed the line of the Dutchmenís eyes and for the first time he spied his blood-soaked sleeve.

"You have lost a lot of blood, the captain is also hurt. We will get you to hospital," Nicolaas spoke for the first time.

"Youíre not with Spectrum?" asked Henrick.

Grey inwardly considered how very different the conversation would be proceeding if Magenta had not removed his handcuffs. As it was, there was no reason for them to suspect him, but he had still to think of a plausible reason why a civilian would be riding in the back of a Spectrum vehicle.

"Iím a witness, he was taking me to a safe house."

"You were attacked?" Henrick took a deep breath. As Henrick turned to look at his brother, Grey reached for the door release.

"We should get out of here, in case they come back," Nicolaas spoke quickly.

And in that moment, Grey was gone. Stumbling across the road, half blinded by pain, with only sheer determination driving him on. Skidding down a bank, Grey was swiftly hidden by trees. The two brothers sat open-mouthed; confused by his actions and not knowing quite what to make of the situation. Briefly glancing at their remaining passenger, Henrick turned the key in the ignition and headed towards Amsterdam.

 

***

 

I ran, I donít know how far I ran but it was sheer exhaustion that stopped me in the end. I was near to collapse, sitting leaning up against a tree I was gasping for air and shuddering with cold. I knew it was a warm day. Cradling my gashed arm, I knew I was going into shock. Iíd lost a lot of blood, and it was that which was making me feel so cold. I looked down at my arm; the sleeve was soaked red to the elbow. I eventually noticed the tear. Pulling it forward, I could see the cause of the problem; a three, maybe four, inch gash finishing at my shoulder. I had no choice, it needed stitching, I had to go to hospital. Continuing to lose blood and risking infection was not going to further my cause any.

A short taxi ride later I found myself standing outside the ĎJohannes Marijs Ziekenhuisí. It looked as though it had only recently been built; perhaps at some point in the last twenty years, it was difficult to tell. As I stood there, I knew I had to go in, no matter what.

 

***

 

Greyís shoulders dropped once more as another stabbing pain tore through his upper arm. Clutching at it, as much to support it as to stem the flow of blood, Grey headed inside.

"Goede middag! Mag ik u helpen?"

"Do you speak English?"

The receptionist looked up on hearing the weak voice. Grey stood before her, still clutching his arm, his face deathly pale. She didnít need any training to know that Grey was on the verge of passing out.

 

***

 

That was as much as I remember. I woke up some time later, I didnít know exactly how long I was out but my arm was stitched and in a sling. The way I saw things, it was time for me to leave. I tried to sit up; it wasnít as easy as I had imagined it would be. And then, matters just got worse.

 

***

 

The door to the small room opened quickly, revealing a short, dark-haired, quirky featured doctor.

"Ah, good, I see youíre awake, Mr Holden. I am Doctor Klaver."

"How do youÖ?" began Grey, then nodded. "My wallet." Moments later, Greyís eyes opened wide as he considered all of the contents of his wallet that day.

"Do not worry, Mr Holden. Yes, I saw your Spectrum identification, but I will consider that as part of patient confidentiality."

"Thank you. How long have I been unconscious?" asked Grey, still adjusting to the light-headedness that he currently felt.

Klaver consulted his watch. "Oh, quite a while; about an hour and forty minutes, I think. Naturally, youíll be in bed for a couple of days while you regain your strength."

Grey considered this to be very unlikely indeed; he needed to be out of there as soon as the doctor had left him alone again. Of course for appearances, he would play the dutiful patient; Doctor Fawn would be proud of him.

"Of course, you will not be here," Klaver continued. "I contacted Spectrum on your behalf, a helicopter has just landed to pick you up."

Grey managed to force a smile. "Thank you, Doctor, that was very kind of you."

"Not at all," the doctor smiled back. "I just need to sign your release papers and you can go. Iíll send in a nurse to help you dress."

"That wonít be necessary," replied Grey as he glanced around, finally spotting his shirt resting on a nearby chair and his shoes lying underneath.

"No trouble at all. I wish you a speedy recovery, Mr Holden."

"Thank you, Doctor," Grey nodded.

No sooner had the doctor left, than Grey had swung his legs out of the bed. Unsteady at first, Grey sat on the edge of the bed as he tried, with great difficulty, to dress himself with one arm in a sling. Pulling his wrist out of the foam sling, he grimaced as he pushed his injured right arm down into the sleeve. As he fastened the buttons, he pushed his feet into his shoes. He needed only one minute more. The door opened once more.

"I told the doctor I didnít need any help with dressing," Grey said as he slipped his hand once more into the sling and rested his arm.

"So I see," came the voice behind him.

It was too late, Grey knew the voice.

"Hey, Ochre," Grey turned to face him, "fancy seeing you here."

Closing the door behind him, Ochre turned a stern gaze to Grey. It was hard to maintain; Grey was pale and looked very tired. Clearly his injuries were taking their toll on him. Ochre thought about Magentaís injuries. He had arrived on Cloudbase only ten minutes before the call had come in advising that Grey had been admitted to the Johannes Marijs Hospital in Amsterdam. He looked, to him, to be in a bad way; if it hadnít been for those two men, both Magenta and Grey would be dead. But it was all because of Greyís attempt to escape. Any doubts that Ochre may have harboured were long gone. Grey was guilty; there was no other explanation. This time, there would be no mistakes, Grey was returning to Cloudbase.

"I canít handcuff you, Grey and not because of your injury." Ochre walked around to the opposite side of the bed; an unsympathetic and accusatory expression covered his face. "They know who you are. Otherwise, Iíd waste no time with pleasantries."

"So much for innocent until proven guilty," Grey snapped back weighing up his chances of an unassisted escape. Ochre was, by common acknowledgment, Cloudbaseís personal protection expert. There was nothing he didnít think of when keeping a potential terrorist or Mysteron target safe from harm. Greyís eyes narrowed as he wondered whether that level of care translated itself to keeping hold of a prisoner. His guess was that it did, but Grey was no ordinary prisoner. Also Spectrum trained, Grey was determined to escape.

"I donít think thereís much doubt, do you?" Ochre rounded on him. "You were caught in the act and you nearly killed Magenta!"

Greyís features crumpled. "How is he?"

"How is he?" Ochre spat the words through gritted teeth, barely holding his temper and volume. "I havenít been able to ask him, heís still unconscious!"

"Iím sorry, Ochre, IÖ"

"Spare me your apologies, Grey, I donít want to know! Iím taking you back to Cloudbase, where youíre going to stand trial for terrorism, resisting arrest and if I get my way, the attempted murder of a Spectrum officer. Theyíre gonna throw the book at you!"

"No, Ochre, you know damn well what theyíll do to me. Iíll face a firing squad."

"You deserve it! If your plan had worked youíd have killed millions of people."

"I had no such plan, I was set up!"

"Shut up, Grey! I knew it! I knew you were up to no good." Ochre jabbed a finger into Greyís chest. "I said to Magenta ages ago, the way you kept coming here was suspicious, he just laughed it off. But see where itís got him now! Lying in sickbay!" Ochreís temper snapped, Grey felt rather than saw the strong right hook. Grey spun to the right, landing sprawled across the bed, his mouth bleeding, but the pain in his arm as he landed heavily overshadowed everything.

"I should have gone with my instincts and had you followed," Ochre growled.

 

***

 

Maybe it would have been better if he had, at least heíd have known I was telling him the truth, but even I had to admit, it looked bad. It was going to look a lot worse if I escaped again, but I couldnít help that. I had to get out. I didnít know how badly hurt Magenta was and he was the only one on my side. No, in my mind, finding Heather was the only solution, although I didnít have a clue what Iíd do if and when I did find her. But all that was for nothing if I couldnít get away from Ochre, I only needed a few minutes start. As I started to rise from the bed, I noticed a mirror on the wall ahead of me. I could see Ochre, I could see his face, the loathing I saw on it was hard to take. I admit, it actually gave me the push I needed to carry on. I was furious with him; I couldnít believe he could think I was capable of that.

 

***

 

Grey stared into the mirror, using it to gauge how far behind him Ochre was standing. Once he had worked it out, he dropped forward again and kicked backwards with considerable force.

"What theÖ?" Grey rose and spun as he realised he had made contact with Ochre much earlier than he had expected.

Ochre grunted, winded by the kick, he crumpled soundlessly to the floor, gasping for breath, doubled over and clutching his chest. Grey had not realised that at the precise moment he had chosen to kick backwards, Ochre had started walking towards him. Consequently, Ochre had taken the kick with considerably more force behind it than Grey had intended.

"Ochre, Iím sorry, I thought youÖ"

Grey started to speak, but Ochreís reply was to lower his cap microphone.

"S.I.RÖ" Ochre whispered hoarsely.

Grey scowled. Why wonít he just listen to me? Easing his hand from the sling once more, Grey stepped forward and pulled the cap from Ochreís head.

"Ochre, will you justÖ"

Grey grimaced as he saw Ochre reach for his pistol. Reaching quickly to his left, Grey snatched the water jug from the bedside cabinet and swung it at Ochreís head. The heavy jug remained intact, but the impact was enough to render Ochre unconscious. Grey replaced the jug on the cabinet and leaned back breathing hard. The fight had drained him considerably. Still very weak, Grey gathered what strength he had. He looked down at his bloodstained shirtsleeve; he would stand out a mile wearing that.

"Iím sorry, Ochre, I donít have much of a choice."

Hauling Captain Ochre into a sitting position, Grey unzipped Ochreís tunic and slipped it off. Pulling off his black turtleneck sweater proved more difficult, but the determined Grey was not about to give up easily. Only a few minutes later Grey was dressed in Ochreís sweater, tunic and cap. Grey smiled; quietly grateful that today of all days he had chosen a pair of black trousers. He inspected himself, everything was right, except, of course the boots.

 

***

 

High above, Lieutenant Green received Captain Ochreís transmission with alarm.

"Captain Ochre, report current situation. Captain Ochre, respond please."

Placing a relative fix on the call, Green was able to establish that the source was at least near by the place of Ochreís last contact with Cloudbase. Green stared grimly at the data before him, balling his right fist in frustration; he realised that something must have gone wrong with the re-arrest of Captain Grey.

"Colonel White, please contact Control as a matter of urgency," Green spoke into the comm. White was currently was discussing Captain Magentaís thankfully relatively slight injuries, with Doctor Fawn.

"You can use my office, Colonel," Fawn waved White through as the call came over the public address system.

"Thank you, Doctor," White nodded as he stepped inside the office. "Yes, Lieutenant. What is it?"

"Itís Captain Ochre, Sir. Iíve just received a distress call from him but Iíve been unable to raise him since."

"Contact the hospital, find out if heís left yet. Launch the Angels, just to make sure and keep trying to reach him."

"Yes, Sir," replied Green, breaking off from the comm. to carry out the Colonelís orders.

 

 

***

 

I didnít want to change into his boots. Firstly, we donít have the same shoe size. Secondly, once outside the hospital, I had planned to ditch the tunic and cap, I needed my own shoes or I really would stick out. Besides, I didnít think anyone would notice. As it turned out, it wasnít that that got noticed. There was just one more thing I had to do. Iím not proud of myself for this, but I really needed a head start. I had to work fast; as soon as Ochre had started his transmission, I knew that time was precious.

 

***

 

Opening one of the tunic pockets, Grey found what he was looking for.

"Iím sorry Ochre, but," Grey sighed as he pulled out the pair of handcuffs, "I canít have you following me."

Dragging Ochre the few feet needed to get him over to the bed sounded easier than it actually was. Trying to pull a tall, well-built, unconscious man even a few inches was difficult enough when attempting it with only one arm. The sheer effort of it exhausted him and to his dismay started to wake Ochre. Grey cursed. This was not what he needed right now. Quickly, he looped the handcuffs around the bedís steel frame and closed the cuffs securely around Ochreís wrists. Grey shook his head; Ochre was waking fast. Tearing a strip of cloth from the bed sheet, Grey knelt down and pulled the cloth into Ochreís mouth, tying it in a firm knot at the back of his neck.

Getting to his feet once more, he headed for the door and slipped out into the corridor. As he walked purposely towards the exit, he grew tense. He was nearly free; he could see the main doors.

"Captain Ochre!" a voice called behind him. "Captain Ochre!"

Turning, Grey could see the hospital receptionist waving to him. Gritting his teeth, he walked over to the desk.

"Yes?" he enquired cautiously.

"I have a Lieutenant Green on the phone for you, Captain. He says heís been trying to contact you and wondered if youíd already left," she explained.

Grey thought fast. "I was just on my way out to the helicopter to contact Cloudbase; my microphoneís not working."

"You can speak to him now, Captain. I have him on the phone."

Grey forced a smile, all the while he knew that Ochre would be waking, and if he knew Ochre, he would, despite his situation, be making a lot of noise. He had to get out, but without arousing suspicion.

"Thank you, but I kind of need to speak privately. Iím best contacting them from the helicopter."

The young receptionist seemed suddenly distracted and was now focussing her attention on something behind Grey, almost completely ignoring him. Slowly, uncertainly, Grey turned. Behind him, for the benefit of waiting patients, a television set was showing the dayís news. Photographs of Grey along with a report of his arrest by Spectrum were being broadcast.

"Youíre notÖ" began the wide-eyed receptionist as Grey turned his gaze back to her.

There was no time to think about it as, to his left, Grey saw two hospital security staff, turn a corner and race towards him.

"Houd die mens tegen!" one of them shouted.

 

***

 

I had no idea what he had said, but it didnít sound friendly thatís for sure. I simply turned on my heels and fled. There was no one to stop me thankfully and I made it to the door in seconds. The adrenalin was pumping, but blood loss was making it difficult for my body to keep up, I felt unusually tired, every move I made began to feel as though it was through treacle. There was a dreamlike quality about it, you know how it is in dreams when youíre running but not getting anywhere, thatís exactly what it felt like. I could hear the guards behind me; their voices, their footsteps I felt sure that any moment now, I would feel their guns in my back, or worse, their bullets. I was desperate to get away. It was difficult to think straight and my arm was starting to ache again. I would discover later that under the dressing, it had started to bleed a little, though thankfully the stitches were holding.

Then it dawned on me, I could see it, literally right in front of me. The helicopter. The keys lay in Ochreís tunic pocket; it was mine for the taking. I wasted no time in climbing aboard.

 

***

 

As the blades started to turn slowly, Grey pulled the gun from its holster and fired a warning shot over the heads of the approaching security guards. The pair pulled up sharply. Unable to fire without risking an explosion, the two guards could only stand and watch as the helicopter lifted gently from the ground. Almost as an afterthought, Grey removed the keys to Ochreís handcuffs from his pocket and tossed them out of the helicopter as he rose from the parking lot. He smiled to himself as he saw one of the guards pick them up. Sighing with relief, Grey was immediately taken by surprise as the epaulettes of his borrowed tunic flashed white. Without even thinking about it, Grey automatically lowered the microphone.

"Captain Ochre, what is your current situation?"

"Sorry, Lieutenant, Ochreís indisposed at the moment."

"Captain Grey!" Colonel White thundered in replacement for Green. "Consider yourself under arrest..."

"No, Colonel." Grey interrupted. "Consider me escaped and at large. Iím innocent and Iím going to prove it."

Before his commander could say another word, Grey had flipped the microphone back up to the visor and removed the cap, tossing it onto the seat next to him.

"So," he mused, "Iím on the run from Spectrum. I never thought IÖ"

An incessant buzzing and a flashing light drew Greyís attention. He glanced down at the controls irritably.

"Heís not giving up, is he?" Grey commented with a frown.

The light was the craft-to-craft communicator. Grey flipped the switch and waited to be hailed.

"Angel One to Helicopter A22. Captain Grey?" the voice was Destinyís.

"Destiny," Grey replied, his frustration more than apparent in his tone.

"Captain Grey, you are under arrest. You are to return to Cloudbase at once."

"Sorry, Destiny. Youíre going to have to shoot me down, but as weíre over a residential area, Iím guessing that youíre not going to do that." Grey flipped the switch to the off position once more.

Even at top speed, the Spectrum helicopter could only reach a maximum speed of 300 m.p.h. Grey knew that there was no way that the interceptors would be able to fly so slowly. The three Angels were forced to fly in a circular pattern around it. Any sudden change in direction made by the helicopter required a significant flight adjustment for the interceptors. When he chose to land, he thought it should be relatively easy if he were quick enough. Grey looked below for an indication of a suitable place to land.

"Damn it!" he shouted angrily as he saw the Spectrum Patrol Cars following his route. It wouldnít be long before another helicopter was requisitioned and sent after him. He had to land, and it had to be somewhere he could hide or from where he could make his escape. He sighed heavily. Why did Spectrum have to be so damned good?

 

***

 

Ochre was furious, as much with himself as with Grey. Still handcuffed to the bed, at least the nurse who had found him had removed the gag. To him it felt like an age for the security guard to return with the keys but finally, he was free. Standing, he turned towards the door, only to have his way blocked by Doctor Klaver.

"Iím sorry, Captain, heís gone, Spectrum has been alerted and thereís nothing for you to do except sit down and be examined."

"Iím fine!" Ochre snapped.

"Iíll be the judge of that, Captain," replied the doctor evenly.

"I have to get after him." Ochreís frustration at being overpowered by the injured and severely weakened Grey was obvious.

"How exactly?" asked Klaver in a quiet tone.

Ochre stared at him and finally gave in.

"Okay, okay," Ochre gave a half smile. "Heís got my clothes, and the keys. Heís got the helicopter hasnít he?"

The doctor nodded, gesturing to him to take a seat on the edge of the bed.

"Your prisoner is lucky he can fly, it could have been very bad. There are hundreds of people here, some difficult to move, if he had crashed it, well, I donít wish to think."

Ochre stared up at him, a puzzled expression on his face. He realised after a few moments that the doctor now considered the Spectrum pass to be a fake. He nodded sympathetically.

"He wonít get far," Ochre assured him as the doctor started his examination.

 

***

 

It occurred to me as odd that Ochre had come to the hospital on his own. Then I realised that with Magenta in sickbay, there could only be one reason. The Mysteron threat was either still not averted and Scarlet and Blue must still be with General Marsden, or it was over and they too were in sickbay. I could only hope they were okay. With Magenta and Ochre injured and me on the run, they were without back up.

 

***

 

It seemed to take an eternity for the elevator to reach the Main Chamber, deep inside the underground bunker.

"None of them were armed," Bauer advised, hoping to at least give them some good news. The entrance to the chamber, as you know, is fitted with metal detectors. That was one security check they couldnít avoid. And theyíre not alone," he added, "Sergeant Carey is on duty down there."

"Well letís hope heís good at his job. And for your information, Captain Bauer," Blue turned to him, "whilst under Spectrum protection there are NO security checks that they can avoid."

Finally the elevator doors opened, the Spectrum officers headed off at a brisk pace down the corridor leading to the chamber. Both Blue and Scarlet were mindful of the fact that Mysteron agents did not need to be armed to wreak havoc.

On reaching the door, as Bauer slid his security pass into the slot, Captain Scarlet steadied himself against the wall, a cold sweat forming on his forehead.

"Captain Scarlet?" asked Blue concerned.

Scarlet nodded. "Be ready, Blue, at least one of those men is a Mysteron."

As the door to the chamber swept aside, Scarlet and Blue entered warily. Keeping their hands near their pistols without actually drawing them. General Marsden looked up as he accepted a drink from Alexai Dukov, the High Commissionerís Aide.

"Captains. I take it all is going well?" Marsden called cheerfully.

"No, Sir," replied Blue as they walked further into the spacious and tastefully decorated room. "All is not going well."

"General, High Commissioner," Bauer began, "may I introduce Captains Scarlet and Blue."

"We understand that you refused to participate in our security checks, Your Excellency," Scarlet wasted no time in addressing the Bereznian High Commissioner.

"That is correct, Captain. We have full diplomatic immunity, we do not have to abide by your rules, regulations and security checks." The High Commissioner almost spat the last two words, as if they had left a repellent taste in his mouth.

Scarlet bristled. He could now understand why Bauer had backed off; the man had enough presence and confidence to fill the room. Both Scarlet and Blue could see it was going to be a battle of wills. The question was, whose will would be the greater? Blue felt he knew the answer.

"With respect, Excellency," Scarlet continued, his voice clipped yet courteous, "no one has immunity from the Mysterons. I must insistÖ"

"Insist as much as see fit, Captain, I will not submit to your security checks."

"May I ask why not?" asked Scarlet.

"Because I do not trust you," replied the High Commissioner simply, his tone cutting and dismissive.

"What possibleÖ" Scarlet began only to be interrupted by General Marsden.

"Captain, is this really necessary? Weíre in the middle of negotiations here. Your attitude really isnít helping."

"We have already endured the same conversation with Captain Bauer, I have no wish to hear it again," the High Commissioner continued.

"Nevertheless, High Commissioner, I can insist and I will. If you do not accede to my request I will be forced to ask you and your Aide to leave this facility."

"Captain Scarlet! This is ridiculous, do you have any idea how important these negotiations are?" Marsden stormed indignantly.

"And how very delicate," the High Commissioner added in a menacing tone. "In fact, CaptainÖ"

"Should a Mysteron be present in this room, High Commissioner, your life would be even more delicate," interjected Blue.

"But there isnít a Mysteron in the room. Unless, Captain, you are accusing one of us," the High Commissioner continued to goad the two Spectrum officers.

"There is no question of accusation, Excellency," Blue countered, "neither is there a choice. You will agree to assist us in our security checks or I will, reluctantly, escort you from the building and into the care of your Embassy."

"I have friends in very high places, Captains, I can have your commissions for this infringement on my diplomatic immunity. Very possibly, more than that," his tone was dark and threatening.

"Weíre prepared to accept that responsibility, Your Excellency. Now if you would come with me?" Scarlet began, acutely aware that either High Commissioner Velevski or Dukov must be the Mysteron agent that he had sensed only a few minutes earlier.

Blue led the still objecting Velevski and his Aide, Dukov, from the room. He frowned, as the Mysteron presence he had felt so strongly since approaching the chamber did not diminish. It was impossible, Marsden and his Aide, Captain Williams had been cleared, there was no one left.

Scarletís eyes fell on Sergeant Carey, near the back of the room, the Spectrum sergeant was standing still, very still, rigid in fact.

"General Marsden, Captain Williams!" Scarlet seized their arms and pulled firmly, trying to shepherd them out.

"Captain this isÖ"

It was all Marsden managed to say, before Scarlet cut in on his cap microphone as he spoke to Blue.

"Blue, get the High Commissioner out, Careyís the Mysteron!"

It didnít take much more convincing for Marsden and Williams to follow swiftly out the door.

"Bauer," Scarlet began abruptly, "where are the controls for the blast doors?"

Bauer indicated a small panel near the closing chamber door.

"There Captain. The code isÖ"

"I know, I checked on the way. Get the General clear, Iím closing the doors," advised Scarlet decisively.

"ButÖ" began Bauer.

"Go!" yelled Scarlet in reply already turning his attention to the doors. Sweat beaded on his forehead as he considered the Mysteron agent only yards from him on the verge of exploding in his attempt to carry out the Mysteron threat.

Unseen by Scarlet, Sergeant Carey was reaching a critical overload of immense energy; smoke appeared in thin wisps about his neck, all the while he remained rigid, unseeing, unthinking.

Scarlet punched in the code and watched as the blast doors began to slide shut. They would contain the majority of the devastation, if only they could close fully before the explosion came. Running down the length of the corridor, Scarlet realised that the escape of the remainder of the party had left him without any means of retreat. He could only watch with increasing tension as the elevator began its decent once more. Too late. The explosion ripped through the chamber. The doors had all but closed but the effect of the blast forcing through even the tiny gap in the doors was enough to lift Scarlet from his feet and hurl him against the far wall, which housed the lift. Around him, the walls crumbled and the lighting failed.

"Captain Scarlet!" the concerned voice of Captain Blue, made itself heard above the din of the still collapsing corridor. Beneath several large chunks of masonry, Captain Scarlet found the energy to lower his microphone.

"Blue," he whispered, almost inaudibly, "is everyone safe?" he queried.

"Everyoneís fine, Captain! Weíll have you out of there in no time. Hold on!" Blue was audibly and visibly relieved. Scarlet had succeeded in thwarting yet another Mysteron threat.

 

***

 

As an involuntary action, Grey ducked as Destiny swung her interceptor within feet of the helicopter. The downdrafts from the swiftness of the craft momentarily made the helicopter blades shudder causing it to drop several feet.

"Theyíre forcing me down," Grey spoke aloud, his voice filled with incredulity. "Theyíll kill me if I canít hold it."

Almost as if on cue, the communicator flashed once more. Flipping the switch in irritation, Grey listened to Destinyís address.

"Captain Grey, I must insist that you land and present yourself for arrest."

"What do you think youíre doing? Are you trying to kill me?" Grey snapped furiously.

"Please land, Captain."

Grey flicked the switch sharply off again. It seemed he had little choice as another of the Interceptors came in for an identical sweep. Grey struggled to keep control as the helicopter shuddered and dropped once more.

Studying the surrounding area, he knew he had to find somewhere to land fast, but somewhere on his terms, he hoped. Spectrum ground forces were moving in and he was being forced down, right in the middle of them. Ahead of him, to the southwest, he saw the Vondelpark. A large parkland area in the heart of the museum district, with, he knew, numerous exits. It would be impossible for Spectrum ground forces to cover all the possibilities. As a public park, it would be a hazardous landing, requiring all his skill and observation. But at the same time, he had to be aware of the positions of the Spectrum Patrol Cars; Grey knew the park well, but, he reasoned, as locals, so did they. Glancing down at the gun at his hip, still in its holster, Grey knew he could not use it on any of the ground forces men, but they believed him to be a terrorist, they would have no such compunction.

 

***

 

I have to admit, I was as nervous as I was angry. At the time, all I could think of was getting away from them. Even then, it wouldnít be easy. I had nowhere to stay, only the clothes I was wearing and limited resources to change any of that. But that was the least of my worries, none of that mattered if I couldnít get away. As I brought the helicopter in to land, I quickly cut the engines and slipping Ochreís gun into my pocket, I pulled off his tunic, rolled up my sleeves to hide the Spectrum insignia and headed out. I knew that the Angels were watching me; no matter where I ran, they would be advising the ground forces. I didnít have much time, I had to be out and gone, hiding in a crowd, a building, a car, anything. The nearest exit led out onto the road overlooking the Singelgracht, one of the canals circling the city. I have to be honest, Iíve no idea what itís called, Iíve been dozens of times, but I know the names of very few roads. As I left the park, I got my first real break. There, only yards away, was a tram. The last few people were boarding, it was about to leave. In the distance, I saw the familiar bright red of a Spectrum Patrol Car. It would be a close call as to whether the tram left or the car arrived first. I had to take a chance. I knew that Destiny would be advising them of my boarding the tram, I couldnít hope for it to end there, but it was a start.

 

***

 

The tram departed with the Spectrum Patrol Car speeding after it. It looked as though the tram wouldnít even reach its next stop before the Spectrum officers in pursuit managed to bring it to a halt, to search for their escaped prisoner.

From his seat inside a nearby brown bar, Grey watched with tired amusement as the Spectrum forces fruitlessly searched the tram. High above, Destiny realised with annoyance that sheíd been tricked. She had, of course witnessed Grey board the tram, but had not seen him discreetly leave almost immediately, hidden amongst a dozen other passengers, leaving from another of the trams many doors. He was free, for now at least.

 

***

 

I thought about my priorities. I had to find Heather. That was my number one priority, obviously. But after that I needed money, a change of clothes, lodging. Heather hadnít given me a key, but I knew that wouldnít stop me; if I had to break down the door, Iíd get in there. But right now, I was easily picked out of a crowd. It was the height of summer and I was wearing a black turtleneck sweater; I needed a light shirt. There were shops on the way back to Heatherís place, that wasnít going to prove much of a challenge, but I did need more money. The account would, at least at first, be monitored to establish my whereabouts. I had to try not to give them too much help. Hopping on board a bus, I headed out of town. There, I would make a substantial withdrawal and head back. My final destination would be Aalsmeer, a small town near Schiphol airport. I donít need to tell you the conclusions I wanted them to draw from this very deliberate ploy. I had a feeling it would work; it had to.

 

***

 

"Colonel," Lieutenant Green looked up, his expression a mixture of excitement and relief. "I have a positive fix on Captain Greyís bank cards."

"Where is he?"

"A town called Aalsmeer, Sir, near Schiphol airport."

"Schiphol airport?" White paced thoughtfully. "So, heís trying to leave the country? You know Lieutenant, off the record, I donít believe it, I just canít."

"I know, Sir. Even with all the evidence, even his own actions, itís still too hard to believe."

"I just want to know why. I want him back here, and I want to know."

"Weíll get him, Sir donít worry," Green assured him.

"It wonít be that easy, Lieutenant. As you know, since the World Government was established, most countries are now accepting photo identification. Passports are almost a thing of the past."

"But as you say, Colonel, it would have to be a photo identification."

"And you think Captain Grey is incapable of obtaining something like that? No, heís more resourceful than that."

Green turned fully away from the console having informed the Spectrum police of his findings.

"You really think heís joined a terrorist group, Sir?"

White sighed and sat down once more at his desk. It was a few moments before he was able to reply, such was his uncharacteristic indecision. "He said he was innocent. Iíd like to believe him."

 

***

 

"Can I go now?" asked Captain Magenta sitting up on the bed and swinging his legs off.

Fawn looked up from his clipboard and shook his head. "No, I want you to rest for a while. Lie down."

"But I donít need to," he argued.

"Congratulations!"

"Excuse me?" Magenta raised his eyebrows in confusion.

"I must have missed you qualifying as a doctor," replied Fawn dryly. "Now lie down."

"You know Doc," Magenta grumbled, "your bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired."

"Do you want me to sign you in for a four week stay?"

"Oh, you wouldÖ"

"Six weeks?"

"Iím lying down!" Magenta grudgingly relented.

Fawn smiled as he walked over to his desk. Only moments after he reached it, Lieutenant Green hailed him over the comm.

"Doctor Fawn, you have a new patient. Harmony has just landed with Captain Ochre."

"Have him brought straight here Lieutenant, thank you," replied Fawn.

Magentaís ears pricked up.

"Ochre? Heís hurt? Whatís happened?"

"Seems that Grey attacked him," replied Fawn with a sigh.

"Grey?" Magenta replied with a puzzled look. "But, he got away, didnít he?"

"No, he was hurt in the crash. Ochre went to pick him up at the hospital, Grey beat him senseless."

Magenta put his hand to his mouth as he considered Fawnís words. Sliding his hand upwards he rubbed his eyes.

"And, itís my fault," Magenta whispered, more to himself than for anyone elseís benefit.

Fawn didnít have time to answer as at that moment Captain Ochre was brought into Sickbay. He was lying on a stretcher. Magenta noted that he was lying there reluctantly, frequently raising his head and being very disruptive. Magenta allowed himself a smile; clearly, being Ďbeaten senselessí hadnít affected him too much, except perhaps his temper.

"I donít need this, Iíve been examined by one doctor already!" Ochre insisted.

"Go with the flow, Ochre. You know he always gets his own way."

"Magenta?" Ochre strained his neck to look behind him to the far end of the room where Magenta lay atop one of the beds. Hopping off the stretcher and pulling the blanket around his still bare upper body, Ochre walked briskly to stand beside Magenta. As he arrived he realised why Fawn had insisted on him lying down, suddenly feeling dizzy, but wishing still to hide the fact, Ochre settled himself on the adjacent bed.

"You look rough, Ochre," Magenta advised with concern. "Iím sorry."

"What for? He nearly killed you. I nearly had him too; I shouldíve just handcuffed him. I guess part of me still didnít believe it.

Magenta sighed as he thought about everything that Grey had told him earlier. Despite what Grey had done to Ochre, Magenta felt that his instincts were right. Grey was innocent.

"I want the pair of you here at least overnight, so get comfortable, youíre staying," Fawn stood between the two beds.

"Can I at least get something to wear?" asked Ochre.

Fawn nodded thoughtfully. "Just a minute," he replied as he opened a cupboard along the far wall. Returning, he placed two sets of pyjamas on the beds. "There. Get some rest."

As Fawn left the room, Ochre pulled on the pyjama top. It was a reasonable fit, if a little big.

"What did you mean, youíre sorry? Itís hardly your fault is it? He nearly killed you!"

"No, it was my fault," Magenta looked down at the bed tapping it distractedly.

"Pat? What do you mean?" Ochreís voice dropped a tone as he saw Magenta now looked guilty.

"I meant to let him go. The car crash was faked, but it went wrong," explained Magenta without looking up.

"You did what?" Ochre yelled.

Magentaís head snapped up at the sheer volume of his voice. "Hey, Rick, will you keep it down!" Magenta spoke with urgency in his voice. "Iíll get court-martialled for this. Heís innocent, he was set up."

"Heís probably a very good actor, you know heís had months to come up with a plausible story, donít you?"

"Give me some credit for being able to recognise a criminal when I see one. Iíve been working with them since I was twenty three."

"Well, Iíve been arresting them since I was twenty," snapped Ochre in return.

"And you never, ever got the wrong man?" Magenta pressed his point.

Ochre stared at him. Yes, occasionally they had initially arrested the wrong man, but to the best of his knowledge an innocent man had never been imprisoned. Magenta knew, even without a reply that he had struck a chord with him.

"Greyís that man," he added, nodding.

"How can you be so sure?"

"Donít tell me your instinct didnít tell you the same. Or did your temper get the better of you again?" Magenta asked with a slight smile.

"No actually, Grey did. He didnít act like an innocent man when he was smashing a water jug down on my head."

Magenta grimaced. "Oh, yeah," he nodded sympathetically, "that hurts, doesnít it?"

Ochre sighed, Magenta had a point. He had been off guard with Grey and even he had to admit that he had provoked Grey; he had almost brought it upon himself. Something had told him that the situation wasnít what it seemed to be. Even without the information Grey had given Magenta, Ochre had felt that something didnít add up. Perhaps it was that Grey had been left to escape alone. No rescue attempt or even an attempt on his life to prevent him revealing the groupís secrets. No, the more he thought about it, the more Magentaís take on the situation seemed plausible.

"Okay," Ochre nodded, "tell me why heís innocent."

 

***

 

I was on the bus, on my way back to Amsterdam with a change of clothes when I saw the first of many Spectrum Patrol Cars in addition to a greater than average number of police cars. They were out in force looking for me, trying to stop me leaving the country; they didnít know Iíd be heading back to Amsterdam. Theyíd have a real job on their hands trying to cover all flights out. But I needed the breathing space; the more police head for the airport, the fewer there would be in Amsterdam looking for me. I hoped I wouldnít need long. I couldnít help feeling racked with guilt. I wanted nothing more than to call Cloudbase to ask about the health of my friends. I knew Iíd left Ochre in a bad enough way, but heíd said that Magenta hadnít woken before heíd left. And how were Scarlet and Blue fairing with the Mysteron threat? I had no way of knowing and it was killing me.

 

***

 

Having spoken to Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue made a second call for a rescue team. He had no sooner raised his microphone than he heard a stern voice behind him.

"So, Captain," began High Commissioner Velevski, "it was one of your own men who tried to kill us with a bomb. When we accepted Spectrum protection, we did not think that we would need protection against Spectrum!"

"Iím afraid that is my fault again," admitted Bauer sullenly. "Sergeant Carey was to escort the High Commissioner and his Aide to perform the security checks. Of course, when he refused, Carey just accompanied them downstairs."

"Whereas normally Carey would have undergone the checks too?" asked Blue narrowing his eyes as he realised what had happened.

"Thatís right, Captain, Iím sorry."

"Iím afraid sorry wonít do, Captain," began Marsden as he could see all his hard work go for nothing as the High Commissioner became increasingly angry.

"On the contrary," interrupted Blue. "The Mysterons are very clever and take advantage of every opportunity granted them. This is not the first time you have refused to submit to security checks, is it, Your Excellency?"

"Youíre blaming me for this intolerable situation?" replied Velevski indignantly.

"If you had agreed to the security checks, the Mysteron agent would have been discovered long before we arrived, so defusing a dangerous situation. As it is, the Mysterons expected you to refuse and took advantage of the breach of security. The result, as we know, is that we all barely escaped with our lives and my partner is trapped down there, very possibly dying."

Velevski looked back towards the now open elevator doors through which the rescue party had started their descent. Blueís words had struck home. Indirectly, yes, he had to admit, he had been the cause, or at the very least the catalyst.

"I have no desire to see anybody killed over my vanity." His voice was, for the first time, somewhat subdued.

"We need to get you to a secure building to continue your negotiations," Blue continued. "I doubt the Mysterons will continue their attack. However, I must insist that you complete the security checks, High Commissioner."

"Yes, Captain, of course," he nodded slowly. "I hope your friend survives," he added with sincerity.

"He will, Excellency, Iím sure he will."

Velevski nodded, a grave expression creasing his face. He thought about the Spectrum officer lying tens of feet below them and how brave he had been. How Captain Scarlet had been willing to risk sacrificing his life over Velevskiís own foolishness. How Captain Blue had tried to absolve him of his guilt by his overconfident assurances of his expected recovery. It wouldnít work; he felt the guilt and gratitude weighing heavily on him. Silently, he resolved to bare the experience in mind whilst continuing the peace negotiations; perhaps he had been too hasty to doubt them.

 

***

 

It was just starting to get dark, and I found myself stood on the bank of the Herengracht canal looking up at her house. Magenta was right. It was almost certain that she was long gone but I couldnít help but wonder. After all, she wasnít expecting me to come back looking for her. My heart nearly leapt into my throat when I saw the light being switched on and a figure in the window drawing the curtains. I knew it was Heather; I couldnít believe it. I had to confront her, despite everything; I was having problems pushing my feelings for her aside. I know it seems ridiculous, but no matter what she had done to me, I had loved her, and that wasnít going to leave me easily.

I watched intently as darkness fell. Crossing the street, I headed towards her door. From my pocket I withdrew a small box. Something else, Iíd managed to pick up in Aalsmeer. The box had contained a set of precision screwdrivers used by watchmakers; with a slight alteration, they were fit for another purpose. Inserting two of the screwdrivers, I felt for the tumblers; I had to be quick, the Herengracht was a popular, well-travelled canal, I didnít want to be caught now that I was so close. Hearing the click, I sighed with relief and gently pushed the door open. As I walked quietly upstairs, I heard her moving about and then finally I heard her voice. As if she hadnít done enough to me, her next words were to stab me through the heart.

 

***

 

"Dieter? Iím glad youíre early. I finally have you to myself."

"No, not Dieter," Grey spoke with a voice filled with bitterness. "Itís me."

Grey watched as Heather spun to face him, her face etched with shock and panic.

"B..Brad!" she managed to stammer. "You, you got away? Oh, thatís wonderful, I thought Iíd lost you."

Heather was now clinging to his arms, trying unconvincingly to appear pleased to see him and feigning relief.

"Save it!" Grey replied throwing off her arms and staring coldly back. "I donít like being taken for a fool, Heather, if that is your real name," Grey spoke harshly, glaring with a mixture of anger and deep disappointment in his eyes.

"Please donít be angry, Brad, itís not what you think, IÖ"

"You called me Grey! You released that gas into the air, or tried to, and left me to take the blame. You know who I am, this whole thing was a set up, from the moment you met me all those months ago."

"Give us some credit!" she replied dropping the pretence. "We had this planned a lot longer than that and it would have worked if weíd been able to shut down that last safety device."

"Youíre proud of yourself arenít you?" Grey could barely conceal his anger and distaste.

Heather laughed. It was an unpleasant, pitying laugh that seemed directed at Grey.

"Of course I am, I know that what Iím doing will bring about change."

"Killing millions of people! You just call that change?"

"There always has to be sacrifices, Grey. Thatís where you come in," she replied almost smugly.

"No, Heather," Grey removed the gun from his pocket, raised and pointed it at her.

"Youíre not going to kill me." It was spoken more as a statement than a question.

"No, Iím arresting you."

Heather laughed softly and shook her head. "No, Grey, not that either."

 

***

 

There was something about the way she said it, I knew she had something up her sleeve. And then I knew, I felt it in my back. Whoever it was behind me hadnít made even the slightest sound. The blood loss and the tiredness were conspiring against me and Iíd allowed myself to be caught out. I looked at her in silence as she took my gun; I canít begin to tell you how I felt. My emotions were coming thick and fast; I was angry, hurt, frustrated and part of me was ready to simply give up. I felt certain that the gun in my back would be fired and that would be it. I stared at Heather, waiting for her to give the instruction to kill me. It didnít come. She stared back and, for a brief moment, I swear there was something in her eyes, something of the Heather I knew.

 

***

 

"Well?" came the voice from behind Grey.

"No."

Greyís eyes widened in surprise as Heather turned sharply away from him and lit a cigarette. No sooner had she done this than Grey was spun around and shoved roughly into a chair. Looking up he saw a dark haired, slender man in his thirties, roughly six feet tall with piercing grey eyes. He looked angry, but to Grey, the man seemed unwilling to act against her wishes.

"What do you mean, no? Heís going to face a firing squad anyway, Iíd just be saving them the effort!"

"I said, no, Dieter! End of story!" Heather turned, pointing with the fingers holding the cigarette. "This wouldnít be an issue if your guy had done his job!"

"How was he supposed to know the failsafe had been changed?" snapped Dieter.

"Heís in charge of operations, itís his job to know!" Heather snapped back. "Do you have any idea how much effort went into planning this operation? Only for it to fail because your contact doesnít know what heís doing!"

Dieter gave a sidelong glance to Grey; his expression was of barely concealed jealousy. "Oh, I know where most of your effort went!"

 

***

 

I knew enough about Heather to know that she wouldnít take a snide comment like that. His reply was a short, sharp slap across the face. The room was silent for a few seconds. I think if I hadnít been there, sheíd probably have thrown him out, but as it was, I was yet another awkward situation to deal with.

It was the strangest thing, I kept staring at Dieter, I couldnít help myself, I felt certain I knew him, but how could I? I told myself that maybe Iíd seen a picture of him. He was, after all, a terrorist. It was plausible, but I was sure there was more to it than that.

Then something else occurred to me, something she had said about their man at the factory being in charge of operations; it was Tandy. The man who had interrogated me was one of the men who had set me up. I had to get out of there. I was in pain, exhausted and unarmed; I really had to think fast.

 

***

 

"I donít know," admitted Ochre.

Magenta had just finished telling him everything he knew of Greyís situation and had been waiting patiently for Ochreís verdict. Hearing Ochre express his uncertainty, whilst it was an improvement on his earlier belief, was not what he wanted to hear.

"Well I do!" Magenta snapped in return. "Heís innocent, Ochre, I know it."

"How can you be so sure?" Ochre asked with a frown.

"Have you never accepted anything on gut reaction, does there have to be proof? This is Brad weíre talking about!" Magenta reasoned.

"And if youíd have told me a while ago that heíd have found it so easy to beat me up, Iíd have laughed, and yet," he continued with irony in his voice, "here I am in sickbay."

"Heís on his own out there, Ochre. If he gets caught he faces a firing squad, unless he can prove himself. Thereís only me who believes him, and well, possibly the Colonel. But can you blame him for trying anything to escape?"

"I can blame you!" Ochre snapped. "If he really is innocent, heíd have been better off here with us trying to prove it rather than the other way around! Pat, every Spectrum agent, every police officer in the Netherlands is down there right now, looking for him. Do you really think theyíll hesitate to shoot him? They think heís a terrorist!"

"Okay, so it wasnít a brilliant idea! I didnít know all this would happen, this was NOT planned, believe me! But, you believe him?"

Ochre pursed his lips as he considered the question, but before he could answer, Magenta continued.

"Iím going to help him," Magenta spoke in hushed tones, as if suddenly afraid of being heard.

Ochre groaned and turned his head slowly to face Magenta, he had the distinct feeling that he was going to get dragged into this and it would either be illegal or at the very least highly unorthodox.

"Pat, why canít you justÖ"

"You said it yourself, theyíre out to get a terrorist. Heís not, Rick, and I can prove it to you."

"Go on then," Ochre replied, "Iím listening."

Magenta threw his hands up in exasperation. "Well, not right now, but I will be able to."

"Youíre THAT sure?"

"Yes, I am, Rick, donít you see?" Magenta swung his legs off the bed and sat facing Ochre. Expressing himself with his hands he almost sounded as if he were pleading with Ochre to believe him. "Itís Brad. Heís on his own and Iím telling you heís innocent. We have to help him."

Ochre thought about Magentaís words; slowly he nodded.

"Okay," he replied with a slight sigh. "I believe you. What do we do?"

Magenta grinned enthusiastically.

"I should be able to get some information on this lady friend of hisÖ"

"You KNOW terrorists?" cut in Ochre.

"No!" replied Magenta in what appeared an almost offended tone. "I know people who do. Thatís different."

"Only just," came the mumbled reply.

Magenta brushed it off, he expected such negativity from Ochre; the man was simply too conventional.

"And Iím going to need to get down there. Go undercover," Magenta announced with a playful twinkle in his eyes.

"Pat, do you really think the Colonelís going to let you do that?" asked Ochre with a sigh.

"Highly unlikely, Iíd have thought," agreed Magenta.

"Then, howÖ?" Ochre started to say, but stopped short as Magenta turned an almost pitying stare at him. "You are going to get into a LOT of trouble, Magenta."

"No, WE are going to get into a lot of trouble. Well, okay, mostly me, but I will need your help."

"You must be absolutely certain to do that. Aiding and abetting is serious."

"I know and I am certain," Magenta replied gravely.

"Okay, Pat, Iíll do whatever I can."

 

***

 

Things didnít look good. It was all too clear to me that Dieter hated me. I had spent the last six months with his girlfriend, and he resented that. It didnít matter that it was all for their cause, whatever that was; I had become unwitting competition to this man and he really wanted to kill me. Probably what made matters worse was Heatherís refusal. He was sure she was harbouring feelings towards me, despite her having left me to either die or be arrested in the factory. I know that the marriage vows include the line ĎTill death us do partí and as a Spectrum officer, I expect danger to figure quite high in my day to day life, but Iíd have to say I never expected that Heather would be the one who would try to kill me.

Dieter eyed me now; his eyes seemed as though they were burning through me. I weighed up my chances of escape; they were pretty slim. Both Heather and Dieter now held guns and to get to the door, I had to pass Dieter. And, letís not forget; get up from a deep armchair using only one good arm. In reality, I was not going to make it.

 

***

 

Dieterís cheek and pride still stung from the slap. Narrowing his eyes, he turned them, glaring and hateful on Grey. Grey was tired. He had lost a lot of blood and could only stare back in return. Turning his gaze towards Heather, Grey could clearly see frustration in her eyes. She had been handed a dilemma, which she did not wish to face and she was clearly unhappy about it.

"So?" Dieter pressed.

Heather frowned, now matter how much she hesitated the situation was not about to improve on its own. She needed to make a decision.

"You had to come back, didnít you? What did you hope to achieve by that exactly? Did you think I was going to run into your arms? Beg for forgiveness? Give myself up?" Scorn dripped from her every word. "If you thought any of those things, Brad, then youíre a bigger fool than I took you for."

 

***

 

She shook her head at me, and I felt numb. I know, I know, donít even bother asking me why I still cared after what she had done. I simply donít know, maybe I just couldnít switch off that side of me so easily. Itís not like I fall in and out of love that often. This was the first time in a very long time. Last time? Marineville 2064, her name was Elsa. She had everything; brains, beauty and I would have done anything for her. I would have died for her. But as in this case, it was not to be. One day, if there ever is another day, Iíll tell you about it. But for now, it was as if Heather had stuck a knife in me and with every word twisted it just that little bit more. But as much as I knew it had all been a sham, her next words tore through me more than any of the others had.

 

***

 

"Get rid of him."

 

***

 

Heatherís voice was cold and ruthless. There was nothing, not even a flicker of emotion. It made me sick to my stomach to hear her say it. The sneer on Dieterís face spoke volumes. Not only was he going to kill me, he was going to enjoy it.

 

***

 

"Take him somewhere. I need to get things sorted here. And, Dieter?"

Dieter glanced briefly from Grey to look at Heather.

"Nothing fancy, just do the job," she warned.

 

***

 

That was it. I knew I wouldnít get another chance to escape. Not that that one was all that great, but he had looked away and it was all I had. I practically launched myself from the chair; lowering my good shoulder I hit Dieter with a glancing blow sending him spinning to my left towards Heather. Donít ask me where I found the strength, I have no idea, but Iím sure that sheer desperation played a significant part.

 

***

 

Behind him, as he ran, Grey could hear the sound of falling. Furniture, people, he didnít know and didnít care, so long as it gave him sufficient time to get away. Running as fast as he was able, Grey pushed the door wide and headed through. The push to the door was so hard that it hit the wall and started swinging back behind him. Another valuable fraction of a second gained, as he knew Dieter would have to push it open once more to follow him. Reaching the stairs, Grey knew this could well be a make or break moment. The long thin staircase was confined. Once on the staircase, only down was possible, he would for those few moments be a sitting duck. With a deep frown, Grey realised that the problem was academic; Dieter was already close behind. Grey felt, rather than heard, the bullet as it tore across his right thigh as he ran. As he reached the top of the staircase, the searing pain caused his leg to collapse beneath him. Reaching for the banister, Grey found himself already at too awkward an angle to close his fingers around the rail. With nothing to hold onto, Grey found himself tumbling helplessly down the steep, narrow steps.

 

***

 

As I lay there, I wondered if there was a single inch of me that didnít ache. But, that in itself had me breathing a sigh of relief; Iíve known people paralysed or worse from much less than a fall down a flight of stairs. But now, I had to gather my senses and fast! I could hear Dieter approaching, slowly, deliberately. He practically oozed smugness. He thought he had me where he wanted me; I had no intention of making it that easy for him.

 

***

 

"Youíre a dangerous one, Grey, but I think youíve underestimated me," his voice took on a gloating tone as he slowly descended the narrow staircase. "Youíre lucky to still be alive, but your luckís about to run out."

Half opening his eyes, Grey evaluated the situation. He lay on his back, his head and shoulders in the hallway and his legs trailing the last three steps; Dieter was almost approaching the fifth stair. Watching him carefully, Grey frowned in frustration as he saw Dieter smirk, almost laugh derisively at him. Fuelled by additional anger, Grey swept his left leg across the stair as Dieter stepped onto the second step. Following through, bending his knee as he continued, Grey watched with malicious satisfaction as Dieterís legs were swept from under him. Ignoring the intense pain from both his arm and his leg, Grey pulled his legs back from the staircase and scrambled backwards. Dieter continued to fall backwards; there was nothing to stop him. In his right hand, he still held his gun, which had prevented him making a grab for the banister. Extending his left arm behind him hadnít a hope of preventing his whole body weight crashing down on the steps below. Grey grimaced as he heard the sickening thud as Dieter hit the narrow but solid wooden staircase. Scrambling to his feet, Grey realised that he might not have long before Heather would be following her companion into the stairwell.

"Dieter?" came a surprised voice from the upper hallway.

Grey looked up to see Heather, shocked at the scene below her; her eyes fixed on Dieter, she seemed almost oblivious to Grey. Taking advantage of the situation, Grey turned quickly and slipped out of the building.

 

***

 

So, there I was, back on the Herengracht, clutching my still bleeding leg with an arm that really wasnít up to clutching anything. I was unarmed, again, and I had no idea if Iíd just killed him or not. I had the police, Spectrum and very possibly a terrorist group after me. I was tired, hungry and had nowhere to go. I think itís safe to say that this furlough wasnít working out as Iíd wanted it to. I had to get indoors, somewhere, anywhere. Limping away, I headed as fast as I could towards the red light district, hoping I could find shelter in a place where they wouldnít ask too many questions.

 

***

 

"How long did it take the rescue team to free Captain Scarlet from the wreckage?" asked Colonel White gravely as Captain Blue gave a verbal summary of his report.

"Just over an hour, Colonel."

"Mmm, and was he alive when they reached him?"

"Yes, Sir, barely, but he was alive. He died in the helicopter on our way back."

"Good," White nodded. "That is to say..." he began quickly by way of explanation.

"I understand, Sir," cut in Blue. "Itís not a security risk," Blue completed Whiteís sentence. "Is there any news on Captain Grey, Colonel?"

"No, Iím afraid not. The last we know is that he went to a town called Aalsmeer, near Schiphol airport. Weíve had dozens of men combing the area and checking every flight and weíve turned up with absolutely nothing."

"Is it possible heís sitting it out, waiting for us to give up and move out?"

"Iím starting to believe that anything is possible, Captain," White replied with a dispirited sigh.

 

***

 

The following morning, discharged only two hours earlier, Magenta, now in his quarters, closed his notepad with a satisfied smile. Allowing himself a small laugh he spoke aloud, although there was no one to hear him.

"You idiot, Brad.  Youíre in way over your head with this lot!"

Stepping back from the computer, Magenta turned towards his wardrobe and selected a smart, classic cut, dark suit.

"Havenít worn you for ages," he spoke with a strange, distant smile as if he were reminiscing.

A few minutes later he turned as he heard the knock on the door.

"Right on time," he straightened his jacket and grinned as he opened the door.

"Going somewhere, Captain Magenta?"

"Colonel? I... no, of course not," he stammered in reply.

"You look like..." White paused; what he was about to say required rephrasing. "As if you may be going somewhere."

Magenta considered the clothes he was currently wearing. He knew what White was thinking. He wore a suit he hadnít worn since giving up his previous job as a New York mob boss. He looked the part in this suit and despite what he now felt it represented, he couldnít help but feel good in it; it was undeniably the most expensive and stylish item of clothing he currently owned.

"Just checking if it still fits, Colonel. Doctor Fawn has declared me unfit for duty, but well, I have to do something."

"Youíre certain that youíre not going anywhere, Captain?"

"Colonel?" replied Magenta in a tone as innocent as he could muster.

"Perhaps you can explain the carnation?"

Magenta was fully aware to what Colonel White referred, but he found himself glancing down at his buttonhole where he had earlier pinned the flower.

"Habit I guess. It doesnít look right without it," he replied unconvincingly.

"And where, might I ask, did you just happen to find a carnation?"

"Itís a silk one Sir. I donít have that much call to keep a fresh one these days."

"Iím pleased to hear it, Captain," replied White with a frown. "I wanted to talk to you about Captain Grey and his escape."

"Yes, Sir," Magenta nodded.

"You look pale, Captain. Would you like to sit down?"

"Thank you, Sir," replied Magenta edgily, sitting in the chair at his desk.

"May I?" asked White pulling a seat from the table and making himself comfortable as Magenta nodded. "I want to know what you think about Captain Grey. You saw him and I value your opinion."

"I think heís innocent, Sir."

"Thatís what I thought youíd say. Did you think it was in his interests to let him go?"

"Colonel? I donít know what youíre talking about, Sir."

"Do you take me for a fool, Magenta?" Whiteís tone was even but there was an edge to it that was unnerving.

"I donít know what you mean, Sir. We were both injured in that crash." Magenta replied. Maybe it was the suit, but Magenta found himself staring back at his commanding officer, denying everything without the slightest hint of guilt in his voice or manner.

"Youíre trying to tell me that he almost killed you, but youíre certain heís innocent?"

"He wouldnít be the first innocent person whoís tried to kill me, would he, Colonel?" Magenta countered touching his nose.

White narrowed his eyes. Magenta was referring to an incident during the episode when White had been kidnapped and brainwashed by the Mysterons. White had broken Magentaís nose in an attempt to kill him, whilst he unwittingly assisted in a Mysteron plot.

"I donít think this is the same situation at all," replied White with a harsh stare.

"Iím sorry, Colonel," Magenta offered a genuine sounding apology. "But, heís not guilty, Colonel. Iíd be prepared to stake my life on it," Magenta stated confidently.

"Evidently," Colonel White replied pointedly. "Magenta, I canít prove you let him go, yet, but I donít want any of your misguided heroics. I just want Grey found and brought back here. Do you understand me?"

"Perfectly, Colonel."

White grunted his obvious displeasure. He knew Magenta was deceiving him, but, as he said, he was unable to point to anything that proved it.

"Was there anything else, Colonel?" asked Magenta, leaning on the desk as if tired.

White tilted his head to one side. Magenta wanted him out of his quarters, he knew that, and although his tone and words were courteous, that in itself raised Whiteís suspicions; he was being too careful. White frowned. Magenta was obviously pale, he could simply be tired.

"I want you to rest, Captain. Will you do that?" White asked directing a meaningful stare at his least disciplined officer.

"Iíll do my best, Colonel," Magenta replied with a smile.

White frowned again as he rose from his seat. Out of respect, Magenta began to get to his feet.

"Thereís no need, Captain, you should rest. Iíll see myself out."

"Thank you, Sir," Magenta nodded. Silently he watched as the door slid back behind the Colonel. "If Ochreís made the Old Man suspicious, Iím going to kill him!" he muttered under his breath.

 

***

 

"Ah, Captain Ochre," White cheered at the sight of the American captain walking towards him. "Are you heading for Captain Magentaís quarters, by any chance?"

"Er, yes, Colonel. Just checking heís okay." The expression on Ochreís face was one of guilt and surprise.

White offered him a puzzled stare; it seemed as though all of his officers were behaving a little strangely today.

"Thatís fine, Captain," White reassured him. "I would appreciate it if you would keep a close eye on him, heísÖ" White paused to find the right words. "I think heís considering trying to find Captain Grey."

"Maybe youíre right, Colonel," Ochre nodded thoughtfully.

"So," began White, feeling he needed to get Ochreís attention once more, "I can leave it with you?"

Ochre, deep in thought, barely heard his commander-in-chief. It took yet another call to attract his attention.

"Captain?"

"Yes Colonel, Iím sorry, Iíll find out whatís on his mind."

"Thank you, Captain Ochre. Iíll leave it with you then. Good day."

Ochre watched as White walked away. He pondered over what Magenta may have done to make the Colonel so suspicious of him.

"Iíll kill Magenta!" he muttered to himself. "Heís going to get us all shot!"

 

***

 

Fawn checked the monitor again and nodded to Captain Blue, who had returned to the Sickbay to check up on the progress of Captain Scarlet.

"Heíll be fine, Blue. Probably another hour, Iíd say," he reassured him with a smile.

"I know we see it week in week out, but itís still unbelievable and every time I still have my heart in my mouth while we wait," Blue replied. "At least he was successful."

"And nobody else was hurt," added Fawn.

"Well, just their pride," Blue returned with a smile.

 

***

 

On hearing a second knock at the door, Magenta was a little more cautious than earlier.

"Who is it?" he called through the closed door.

"Itís me! Open up, you idiot!" came the voice of Ochre.

"Idiot?" Magenta fumed, opening the door. "You could have told me White was coming here!"

"Keep your voice down!" Ochre snapped as he pushed past Magenta into his quarters. "I canít believe you let him catch you in your civvies, and," Ochre regarded him with a cool stare, "and those civvies too."

"Whatís wrong with this?" asked Magenta, pouting as if offended.

"Thatís your, ĎIím about to get up to no goodí suit and you and everyone else on this base knows it."

"Everyone? I doubt that, Ochre."

"Well, the Colonel knows it and thatís really the problem, isnít it?"

"Well, if youíd been on time, it wouldnít have been an issue, would it?"

"If Iíd have been on time heíd have found us both in here plotting. You think thatís better?"

"Are we doing this or are we just going to argue?" snapped Magenta turning the conversation back to the point.

Ochre let out a deep sigh and leaned back against the table.

"I donít know why I let you talk me into these things."

"You donít?" asked Magenta with a mischievous smile. "Itís because I do all the things youíd love to do, but the safety switch goes off in your head and stops you."

Ochre shook his head dismissively, refusing to be psychoanalysed by someone who, he knew, also lived his life hiding a large proportion of his true nature.

"Iím not going to be categorised by you, Magenta. Unless you want me to return the favour?"

Magenta cast a scathing glance in Ochreís direction; he doubted by his current mood whether Ochreís attempt to put a label on him would be all that complimentary.

"Anyway," Magenta snapped as he continued. "I got quite a surprising amount on Greyís lady friend."

Magentaís tone of voice had calmed considerably, but he visibly bristled as Ochre rolled his eyes at this last statement.

"Okay, Rick, I know you donít approve, but itís the only way we can help him so youíll have to just accept it as a necessary evil."

Ochre nodded and indicated for him to continue.

"What did you get?" he added.

"Okay," Magenta leaned forward enthusiastically, only occasionally referring to his notepad. "Grey gave me her name, I didnít think it would be real, so I expected the search to stop before it even got started, but surprisingly, it was real."

"She gave him her real name?" asked Ochre incredulously.

"Well, I donít know if itís her real name but itís one sheís at least used. Itís on the databases. Sheís a prime candidate for de Wittís Ďrehabilitation programmeí, theyíd love to get their hands on her!"

Ochre smiled at Magentaís rather sick joke. De Wittís ran such a programme, but as it was so extremely rare that anyone was ever released, few of the installations took it seriously. An abundance of rumours abounded on the hellish conditions in the terrorist prisons. Most were fictitious, merely scare mongering, others were exaggerated, but some, albeit a small number, were worryingly true.

"She was taking a hell of a risk," Ochre frowned as he gave the situation some thought. "All he had to do was one simple check, like he was supposed, to and sheíd be arrested."

"That worries me too. She definitely picked her subject carefully, but the question is, how did she know?"

Ochre frowned; if it had been anyone else, the checks would have gone ahead. But in certain matters, Grey was frighteningly private.

"What do you mean?" asked Ochre.

"Heís done this sort of thing before," Magenta replied with a sigh.

Ochreís eyes widened in surprise at Magentaís words.

"Heís done this before?" Astonished by the news, Ochre found himself able only to repeat Magentaís words.

"Just once. Itís on his file," Magenta reached for his notebook.

"Is nothing safe from your hacking?"

Magenta offered Ochre a weary glance before returning to his notebook. Turning the pages back he nodded as he found the right section.

"Apparently our Brad was secretly married when he worked at Marineville," he announced, much to Ochreís surprise.

"Married? He kept it secret? How long?"

"A year and a half."

"What happened?"

Magenta heaved a sigh as he looked up from his notes.

"Here we are, Mrs Elsa Barnes. Well," he said distractedly, "Elsa Holden, I guess. She died in a freak diving accident. She was trapped by an underwater rockslide. By the time they got her out, her air had gone. They found the marriage certificate in her quarters. Brad only got away with it because of the circumstances, but he was in a lot of trouble."

"So, someone connected with this group knows him from then?" Ochre deduced.

"It looks that way," agreed Magenta.

"Okay, tell me about this woman." Ochre paused. "And what you have in mind."

"The name sheís using is Heather March, but sheís also known as Heather Maxwell, Helen Masters and Hannie Maart, to name but a few. She belongs to a group called ĎFreedom by Forceí, theyíre pretty extremeÖ"

"Iíve heard of them," cut in Ochre, his words gave away the contempt he held for them. "I arrested a few of their members when I worked for the WGPC. Nasty bunch. They claim to be a political party but their manifesto is simply to kill everyone who disagrees with them."

"Well, itís not quite that straightforward, Rick," Magenta sighed. "But I know what you mean."

"So what have they got against this agricultural place?" asked Ochre with curiosity.

"Oh the usual," Magenta replied with a shrug. "Chemicals spell disaster and to prove it will kill everyone in a three mile radius."

Ochre shook his head in dismay. "And Brad?"

"Not even Spectrum can stop them? Lack of security? Making fools of us? I donít know, but that isnít important right now. We have to find Brad andÖ" Magenta paused as a low beeping could be heard coming from what appeared to be a small communicator on his desk. "Hang on," he said putting on a small set of headphones. "Yes?Ö Youíre sure?Ö HmmÖ when didÖ oh?"

Ochre tried to make sense of the one sided conversation, but he was thrown when Magenta gave a short laugh and carried on whilst jotting a few things down on his notepad.

"Okay, got that, yeahÖ thanksÖ no, a little more than usual. Same account? No problem. Thanks, man, see you around."

"And what was that about?" asked Ochre with raised eyebrows.

"Brad owes me money."

"I take it you got some information?"

"Yeah, good stuff too, that was the last piece. One of the leaders of the organisation is a guy called Daniel Rafferty; very few have seen him, even amongst his own organisation. Thereís dispute about how much he even gets involved. Some say he hasnít been on the scene for years, some say heís dead. Now what if he were to suddenly turn up to investigate this appalling failure of a simple operation?" Magenta stood, straightening a few minor creases from his jacket.

"You?" Ochre was horrified. "What if the REAL Rafferty turns up when he hears about it?"

"He wonít, not unless heís going to be the worldís first escapee from de Wittís."

"Heís in de Wittís?" Ochre couldnít help but laugh. "No wonder no oneís heard from him lately!"

"And no one knows heís there either. The organisation is so big, itís simply not run by one individual, hasnít been for years."

"How do you know heís there for sure?"

Magenta grimaced. "Well, thatís a fair question, even I canít get into their database. But I do know the Prison Warden thinks heís just had a conversation with Colonel White."

Ochre placed his thumb and forefinger together so they almost touched and held his hand up to Magentaís face. "You are this close to a firing squad, Pat."

"Yeah well, at least Iíve broken the law, Brad hasnít and heís a lot closer than I am."

Ochre shrugged, Magenta was right. "So what now?"

"Iíve put the word out, Raffertyís on his way. I just got to get off Cloudbase now, thatís all."

"Like THATíS going to be easy!"

"Not difficult at all, Ben from the supply drop is taking me out in his plane later this afternoon. He owes me."

"Is there anyone you donít know?"

"Gotta have contacts, Rick, surely you of all people know that. You never had to call in favours from people in the WGPC?"

Ochre frowned his acceptance. "Okay, what do you want me to do?"

"I want you to do what youíll probably get asked to do anyway."

"Whatís that?"

"Come looking for me."

"Excuse me?" asked Ochre in surprise.

"Between us, weíll find Brad and we might just haul in a handful of terrorists too."

"Itís not going to be as straightforward as you make it sound, but just you be careful."

"Is there anyone here better equipped to pull this off?" asked Magenta, sure of the reply.

"No, I guess not," agreed Ochre reluctantly.

 

***

 

It wasnít clean. I didnít care. Iíd lost a lot a lot of blood and, you know I didnít feel so great. I fell face down on the bed in the tiny room of the, for want of a better word, hostel. I think I slept about ten hours. By the time I woke, at least the bleeding had stopped, but I felt bad. Weak as a kitten. I knew that if I werenít careful, infection would set in. I couldnít have a repeat of the previous day; I felt a little first aid was in order. The woman who ran the hostel seemed to lodge in the next room from me; she was, well she was sympathetic and a little puzzled that all I wanted from her was a band-aid or two. I paid her for her time. She wanted toÖ well, what can, I say except I didnít have the energy, which I think puzzled her even more. I just asked that she looked out for me. I had no idea how long I was going to be there.

 

***

 

Grey smiled weakly as he closed the door. He didnít delude himself that she wanted anything more from him than money but there was a definite kindness of spirit in the woman who stood in the opposite doorway. Slumping down onto the bed, Grey blew a heavy sigh. Things had turned out much worse than he had anticipated. He was no further along in his attempts to clear his name and he had suffered further injury. Despite the pain he felt, the gunshot wound to his leg didnít appear at all serious. Seated on the bed, Grey tried to think about his options. There werenít many. He had to find Heather again and somehow force her to confess or to give himself up to Spectrum and put his faith in their belief in him, if indeed they had any. His thoughts became blurred as his mind swam; for now, his only current option was to rest. Allowing himself the luxury of closing his eyes, Greyís head flopped back onto the pillow.

 

***

 

Colonel White stood at the entrance to the observation tube; staring grimly out at the bright afternoon sky, he clasped his hands firmly behind his back.

"Colonel," Lieutenant Green began, "I have a new report from Spectrum Headquarters, Amsterdam."

Whiteís expression became one of concern as he turned to face the young Lieutenant.

"Has he been found?" White asked simply.

"No, Sir," Green shook his head. "Theyíre calling off the search at Schiphol airport, they donít believe heís there. In fact they have reason to believe that he has returned to Amsterdam."

White walked slowly back towards his desk. "Really, Lieutenant? Why do they think that?"

"A member of the terrorist group ĎFreedom by Forceí has been found dead in one of the canals. A guy called Dieter Foley. That particular group had, some months back, made a number of threats against local chemicals companies."

"And they believe that Grey returned to kill him? That doesnít make sense to me."

"They know that Grey must have had at least one accomplice to get into the agricultural plant. Theyíre suggesting that he may have been one of them. That Grey returned to the group and..."

"And killed him? No, Iím sorry, Lieutenant, I simply donít accept that explanation. The more I hear, the more I believe that Captain Magenta is right. Grey is innocent."

White sighed deeply and stood once more. "Lieutenant, ask Captain Magenta to come to Control, would you?"

 

***

 

"I donít care what it takes!" Heather screamed down the phone. "I want him found." There was a short pause whilst she listened to the person on the other end of the line. "Alive, I want him alive. Do you have any idea how serious this is? No? Well, Iíll tell you shall I? In one hour, Iím meeting with Daniel Rafferty," she paused again. "Yes, thatís right. And he wants to know what went wrong. Heads are going to roll over this, Jonathan, and you can be damned sure itís not going to be mine."

Heather slammed down the phone with a furious grunt. She had worked hard over the last eight months for this single project and had watched it crumble before her. Worse still, they had lost one of their number, and not just anyone. She felt a personal loss, but even she had to admit that she had a number of mixed emotions. Dieter had been her lover and a jealous one at that. The last few months had taken quite a toll on their relationship, which had, at the best of times, been tempestuous. But lately, Dieter had become irritatingly clingy and possessive. Maybe heíd always been that way but she had only just realised. More than once she caught herself thinking, wishing he could be more like Brad. The assignment was more important than anything else. She pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind. But now with Dieterís death, they had all rushed forward once more. She felt more than a little guilty that her feelings of loss and anger were a little more subdued than she had expected. The curious result was anger with herself. Her head was on the block and it was Bradís fault. He was going to pay, not her.

 

***

 

Staring back at Captain Blue across the table in the Officersí Lounge, Captain Scarlet shook his head in sheer disbelief.

"Thatís incredible!" exclaimed Scarlet.

"Itís also a lot of..." began Ochre only to be interrupted by Blue.

"Ladies present, Rick."

Ochre frowned briefly. He felt sure that the ladies in question wouldnít shy away from his original intended phrase; however, conceding, he completed his sentence rather differently than he had planned.

"...a lot of nonsense!"

"I admit," began Melody, thoughtfully turning her coffee cup, "it seems very unlikely."

"I simply donít accept it," agreed Rhapsody. "We would have seen some sign of it. Weíre all trained."

"But we werenít looking," Blue offered an opposing opinion.

"You think heís guilty?" asked Scarlet, taken aback.

"I didnít say that. Iím just pointing out that itís possible to miss whatís right in front of us."

"So what DO you believe, Blue?" asked Ochre, walking over to the table.

"Ease up, Ochre. You said yourself; you took a lot of convincing. Maybe Magenta tells it better than you."

Ochre scowled at Blue, unsure if he was being insulted.

"Where is he anyway?" asked Rhapsody. "Iíd like to hear his side of things."

"In his quarters, I guess," replied Ochre with a non-committal shrug turning away from the table.

"Why do I get the feeling that youíre not being entirely truthful with us, Ochre?" asked Melody drawing a fingernail down his back. Even through his tunic, the sensation made him shudder.

Turning his head, he scowled again, with unconvincing harshness. "Are you saying Iím lying?"

Melody cocked her head to one side and gave the impression of very briefly considering his question.

"Yes, I guess I am," she replied evenly.

Before Ochre had a chance to reply, Lieutenant Greenís voice sounded over the base comm. requesting Captain Magentaís presence in the Control Room.

"Now then," Melody continued, "what will you bet me that Magenta isnít around to answer that call?"

"I donít know where he is!" Ochre insisted, testily.

 

Melody narrowed her eyes and gave his reply a momentís consideration.

"Very possibly," she conceded, "but you know more than youíre saying, donít you?"

"I donít have to listen to this!" Ochre snapped taking a seat away from the main group.

"I donít hear you denying it though, Rick," Scarlet commented.

"I didnít think I should have to. Itís ridiculous."

Ochre frowned as a second call for Captain Magenta came over the comm.

"Where is he, Rick?" asked Melody. "Is he in Amsterdam, by any chance?"

"Tell me heís not gone off on his own!" added Blue in surprise.

Ochre turned away from them. What could he say? He hadnít wanted him to go either, but Magenta was adamant. Plus it made sense the way he told it. Even thinking it through now, it seemed ludicrous.

"Rick!" Scarletís hand was on his shoulder. "Where is he?"

"He let Brad go, didnít he?"

Ochre looked up at Blue. How on Earth had he worked that out?

"Of course not!" Ochre lied to protect his friend. "Why would he do that?"

"For the same reason youíre lying for him now," Melody noted, taking a seat on the arm of Ochreís chair.

Ochre was under fire, he wanted to explain, but he couldnít be sure whether or not they would be so understanding.

"Bradís innocent," was all he could say.

"And Patís gone to find him?" asked Rhapsody gently.

"I donít know where he is," Ochre insisted.

"Well," Scarlet sighed, "wherever he is, heís in a lot of trouble."

Ochre jumped to his feet and turned to face them, his expression one of anger and frustration.

"Donít you think I know that?" he snapped. "Look, heís on his own down there. We have to help him."

He was met with a sea of blank expressions.

"I see!" Ochre stormed. "Just me then?" Turning he headed for the door, bound for the Control Room. He could feel four pairs of eyes on him as he left but he refused to turn and face what he imagined would be accusatory stares.

 

***

 

It had been a long time since Captain Magenta had visited Amsterdam. But as he glanced around the familiar streets and rings of canals in the small and friendly city, he felt immediately at home and comfortable. Sitting back in his chair, Magenta took a sip of coffee. Dutch coffee was notoriously strong and designed to last. Not, he thought, staring down into the cup, a refreshing drink, but satisfying nonetheless. He sat in a terrace cafe overlooking the Singel in the heart of the city. On the opposite side of the road was the Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdamís famous flower market. He had sat there now for quite some time, almost thirty minutes. About to give up, Magenta asked for the cheque. It was only when the waiter had returned to the interior of the cafe that Magenta heard a voice speak to him from the next table.

"Mr Rafferty?"

Magenta allowed himself a smile. They had taken the bait and accepted him as their leader.  Now it was time to get the information he needed.

"Miss March. Wonít you join me?" he replied without even turning his head.

Heather pulled out the chair opposite Magenta. Getting to his feet, Magenta graciously waited for her to sit before taking his seat once more. Coolly, he stared at her, the slightest of frowns forming on his lips. He said nothing, but continued to stare. Heather shifted uncomfortably in her seat. He had done this many times before, it came naturally to him. A few more seconds. It was a time of appraisal, to see just what kind of person he was dealing with. Would she crack? She was certainly uncomfortable in his presence, but no, it seemed she was made of strong stuff.

"Nothing to say, Miss March?" he asked finally.

"I prefer to get to the point, if youíll allow me to be blunt."

"Iím pleased to hear it. Now then, you had a perfect opportunity toÖ" Magenta paused briefly as the waiter returned, "Ömake a statement. It failed. Tell me why."

"Everything went perfectly until we were at the factory, the safety mechanisms refused to fail. There was one last level we hadnít allowed for."

"And your stooge is still on the loose?"

"Heís out there alright!" Heather snapped. "He came to the house!"

"You saw him?" Magenta had difficulty in masking his surprise. "And heís still alive?"

"He killed Dieter. Dieter Foley."

Heatherís bearing changed. Instantly, Magenta knew that this was an event of some significance. He nodded gravely, suggesting knowledge of either the name or the incident. He thought it wise to be intentionally vague.

"I had to get rid of his body," she continued. "Greyís hurt but heís still capable, I expect heíll try again to find me."

"Then weíll have to be ready for him. Do you know where he is?" Magenta desperately hoped that she would be able to provide him with details of how to find Grey, but his hopes were dashed with her reply.

"No, Sir," she sighed, "Iíve got everyone out looking for him though."

"How many exactly, is everyone?"

"Just five, Iím afraid, Mr Rafferty. But theyíre determined to find him."

"I want to speak to this guy, whoís caused all this trouble. I want him alive." Magenta added leaning forward.

"Yes, Sir, thatís the message Iíve put out."

"Good." Magenta sat back once more and stared at her again. So this was Greyís type? She was not dissimilar in looks to Elsa Barnes, the woman Grey had secretly married. Someone had certainly done their homework. "I want a contact number and address for you."

"Of course, Mr Rafferty," she replied, her voice exhibiting a nervous edge to it.

Opening her handbag she withdrew a small notepad, in which she wrote down the details for him. Passing the small slip of paper across the table, she hesitated briefly.

"How can I reach you?"

"You donít," replied Magenta sternly. "Youíll be busy and believe me," he rose to his feet," I wonít be out of touch long enough for you to wonder." Reaching into his jacket, Magenta pulled out his wallet. Placing a generous tip on the table, he turned to leave. "Iíll be in touch."

 

***

 

 

The next time I opened my eyes; it was to an insistent knocking. I had the feeling that whoever it was had been there some time already; there was a distinct ring of impatience about it. My head shot up as I heard a woman call my name. My first thought was that Heather had found me, no matter how unlikely. As I came to my senses, I realised that neither would she be calling through the door, being more likely to get one of her guys to break it down. There was really only one possibility. As I pushed myself upright I called out that I was on my way. Opening the door, I was quite taken aback when Lien pushed straight past me and into the room. Oh, did I forget to mention Lien? Thatís her name, Lien van den Gaard, the lady with the expensive band-aids.

 

***

 

"Come in," Grey muttered half-heartedly as he closed the door. Turning to face her, Grey was surprised to see her expression was one of utter fury. "What did I do?" he asked sheepishly.

"Let me get something straight with you Brad. Here, in this part of town, we donít ask too many questions; thatís probably why you came here. But..."

Grey grimaced guiltily as the pitch of her voice rose to impress upon him the seriousness of his indiscretion.

"...you do not bring Spectrum here! The police we can..."

"Spectrum? Theyíve been HERE?"

"So!" She approached and jabbed a finger into his chest. "You were expecting them?"

"Yes, well, no, not here," replied Grey, still shocked by the news.

Lien sighed wearily. "I thought you were an adulterer, beaten by a jealous husband. I had no idea you were a... I want you to leave here now."

Grey shook his head.

"Please, itís not what you think. Iím not a criminal. Yes, itís true, Iím on the run from Spectrum, but I promise you, itís a mistake. I canít give myself up until I can clear my name."

Lien frowned. She had no idea who this man was, but was curious as to why her instincts advised her to trust him.

"Who was it? What colour uniform?" he asked carefully.

"Colour? You are in trouble, arenít you! It was just the local guys doing a sweep, but they had a good photo of you. They clearly know you well."

"Not well enough though," Grey sighed, lowering his eyes. "But," he paused as he looked up once more, "you didnít turn me in."

"Youíre pale, maybe you should sit down."

"I can stay? Why?" Grey was touched by her trust and wanted to know what had convinced her.

"You gave me your real name. I wouldnít expect that from anyone but an honest man. When did you last eat?"

Grey gave the question some thought.

"What day is it?" he asked finally.

Lien shook her head with a mixture of amusement and pity clearly etched on her face. "Come with me, Iíll make you something."

 

***

 

She took my hand. She stared at me for a few moments. It hadnít occurred to me, until that moment, just how cold I was. The thought of a meal now made me realise how long it had been since Iíd eaten. It had been the morning Heather and I had gone to the factory. Since then Iíd been living on nervous energy, but that was running out as fast as my ideas. Lienís rooms were warm, cosy and considerably better furnished than mine, but I wasnít complaining. I was just glad to have found somewhere to hide. I followed her into the kitchen where a large pot was already emitting a delightful smell. She invited me to sit and I did so gratefully. I watched as she went about the kitchen, opening containers, finding plates, cleaning as she went. There was something gently comforting about watching her. She was graceful, appearing somehow to glide around the kitchen effortlessly. Finally, she presented me with a large plateful of food. In her left hand she placed a second for herself on the table and sat down opposite me. Iíll say this; the Dutch know how to eat well. It was tasty, very tasty and satisfying.

 

***

 

The Control Room door slid open and Colonel White looked up to see Captain Ochre stepping through onto the moving walkway. Impatient to reach his destination, Ochre continued to walk.

"Colonel, may I speak with you?" he asked as he approached the desk.

"I wondered when you would be here, Captain."

"Sir?" Ochre stopped in his tracks and stared wide-eyed at White.

"I think itís abundantly clear that Captain Magenta wonít be joining us and Iím looking forward to hearing your explanation."

"MY explanation, Sir?" Ochre replied with a surprised tone.

"Donít play games with me, Ochre!" White shouted back getting to his feet. "I know that Captain Magenta is in Amsterdam. I donít know how, but I know that he is. What I want to know now, is exactly what heís doing there and how it all ties in with Captain Grey."

Ochre gave a resigned sigh. Colonel White knew. They always underestimated the Old Man and it was always their undoing. Now it was a case of damage control. How to get in so little trouble as to be allowed down to the surface to help Magenta, without getting Magenta in even deeper trouble in the process.

"Let me help you out, Captain," White took his seat once more, leaving Ochre standing rigidly to attention in front of him. "Far from going to Magentaís quarters to talk him out of his plan of action, you were plotting together."

White paused as he saw a flicker in Ochreís eyes. It was clear that the American captain wanted to say something. White pondered whether or not to let him speak.

"You disagree with something Iíve said, Captain?" White asked finally.

"Sir, I think Ďplottingí is a strong word to use," Ochre replied, still staring straight ahead.

Had it not been for the seriousness of the situation, White would have found Ochreís demeanour somewhat amusing.

"Really, Captain? And what word would you use to describe your actions?"

Ochre hadnít really thought about it up until that moment, but Ďplottingí suddenly seemed to be the most appropriate word indeed. He could still recall the mischievous twinkle in Magentaís eyes as he spoke of going undercover. Before he could reply, however, White spoke again.

"How about scheming or conspiring?"

"No, Sir. We..."

"Yes?"

"Sir, Captain Magenta was wrong to go down there aloneÖ But I think..."

Ochre was suddenly interrupted by the sound of the Control Room door opening. Both Ochre and White looked up to see who had joined them. Ochre was relieved to have a brief respite from the unexpected grilling but nonetheless startled to see Captains Scarlet and Blue and Rhapsody and Melody stood in the doorway.

"Sir, may we speak with you?" asked Scarlet taking a couple of steps into the room.

"I am in a meeting, Captain Scarlet," White replied, his tone implying that his mood could easily be made much worse.

Ochre could only stare at the group at the door. Whatever they were doing it was likely to make White angrier still and he would feel the backlash.

"We know that, Sir, but what we have to say is relevant to your meeting with Captain Ochre."

"All four of you?" asked White. Ochre turned back to face his Commander in Chief; was that a hint of amusement in his voice? "Come in," he added, to their astonishment.

It took only moments for the four officers to reach Colonel Whiteís desk. Scarlet, as unofficial spokesperson, stepped forward to speak.

"Colonel, we believe Captain Grey is innocent and weíd like to help him."

Ochre caught Scarletís eye and offered a brief nod of gratitude.

"Is that so, CaptainÖ?"

"Colonel, I know he shouldnít have gone but Captain Magenta is down there now, possibly risking his life. Iíd like permissionÖ"

"Captain Ochre!" White slammed an open palm down on the desk, cutting the American captain off in mid-sentence. "I will ask you only once, not to interrupt me."

"Iím sorry, Sir," Ochre replied quietly. "ButÖ"

"No Ďbutsí Captain, just listen. It may surprise you to hear that I agree with you."

Each of the assembled officers briefly exchanged glances and turned back to face White.

"Oh yes, you often underestimate me, donít you? I may not be a field agent, but I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that my brain is fully functional and I am more than capable of drawing the same conclusions as any of you. And, might I add, probably a lot sooner." White paused as he raised five of the seats around his desk and motioned for his officers to sit. "You are right, Captain Ochre, Captain Magenta was wrong to go off on his own and believe me, he will be disciplined for it. However, I do not want any of my officers in danger, regardless of how foolishly he has acted. Captain Ochre, seeing as you arranged part of this, tell me, what is my next step?"

Ochre shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Iíd like permission to travel to the surface to find Captain Magenta, Sir. Heís posing as Daniel Rafferty, the leader of the terrorist group ĎFreedom by Forceí."

"I know who he is, Captain. Donít you remember? Earlier today I spoke to the Warden of de Wittís Penitentiary, San Diego, where heís being held," White cut in acerbically.

Ochre grimaced; they were always one step behind White.

"Very well, Captain Ochre, I want you to leave immediately for Amsterdam to search for Captain Magenta. Captains Scarlet and Blue, I want you to join the search for Captain Grey."

"Sir," Melody began, "What about us?"

"Well," White cleared his throat in an almost embarrassed fashion. "Iíd like you to consider going undercover."

"Yes, Sir," nodded Melody.

"Colonel, you seem a little agitated. Is everything alright?" asked Rhapsody noticing the Colonelís uncommon discomfort.

"I hasten to add that if either of you feel uncomfortable with this, I will not press the matter."

For Ochre, realisation dawned and he sat wide-eyed at Colonel Whiteís words. Naturally, he had seen it all before at the World Government Police Corps, but he had serious doubts over Rhapsody and Melodyís willingness to carry out the Colonelís plan.

"It is my belief that Captain Grey will seek to hide in a less scrupulous area of the city. I would like you to consider adopting a disguise that will allow you to blend in more easily."

Melody nodded with an air of amusement.

"Colonel," began Scarlet still uncertain, or at least wishing he were wrong, "are you suggestingÖ?"

"He wants them to pose as hookers!" Ochre tried hard to suppress the grin that he could feel spreading across his face. The severe glare from Scarlet almost succeeded in wiping it, but Ochre refused to be denied his fun.

Rhapsody placed a calming hand on Scarletís arm. "Of course, Sir, it makes a lot of sense, and itís not as if we havenít gone undercover before."

"But Colonel, itís...dangerous," Scarlet spluttered.

Melody raised her eyebrows. She knew perfectly well that Scarlet was merely being protective of his precious Rhapsody, but she had the feeling that his public concern wouldnít be appreciated.

"Captain Scarlet," Rhapsodyís voice, while still gentle took on a slightly haughty and indignant edge. "We are more than capable of looking after ourselves."

Scarlet gave a resigned shrug; whenever Rhapsody adopted that particular tone, she was not to be argued with.

"Before you all leave, I want a complete report on everything you and Captain Magenta have discovered so far. A verbal report will suffice," White said as he turned to face Ochre. "Lieutenant Green, will you make a recording for the files, please?"

"S.I.G.," Green confirmed.

Ochre began his report detailing the fragments of information already gleaned largely via Captain Magentaís contacts.

"Thank you, Captain," White said as Ochre concluded his report. "Are you able to contact Captain Magenta?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir," Ochre nodded in reply. "I know where heís staying, but of course I canít leave any official communication for him without risking his cover."

"Of course. I think you would do well to communicate with him through Rhapsody and Melody."

"Er... with respect to the ladies, Sir, given the cover theyíre adopting, I think theyíd stand out even more than I would."

"Exactly where is Captain Magenta staying, Captain?" asked White leaning forward on the desk.

"Heís staying at the Grand, Sir," Ochre informed him with a degree of embarrassment.

White pushed back in his seat and offered the group such a look as to make them glad they werenít in Magentaís shoes.

"Then I suggest you adopt a suitable cover to join him, Captain."

"Yes, Sir."

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and good luck," White addressed them all, concluding the meeting.

 

***

 

Magenta settled into his room at the hotel. Pondering over his next move, he turned the slip of paper with Heatherís contact details over in his fingers.

"Dieter Foley?" he spoke aloud. Turning his head, he caught sight of the small laptop computer he had brought with him, set up and ready on the desk near the window in the adjoining room. "I wonder."

Magenta poured himself a small glass of malt whisky and sat down. No sooner had he done so, than there was a knock at the door.

Magenta half turned to face the door. His brow wrinkled with suspicion. Closing the laptop he stood and walked back into the sitting room.

"Who is it?" he called. Suspicion took further hold as he stepped away from the corridor leading to the door and drew his gun. It wasnít his Spectrum service pistol; it was another piece of his former life from which he had decided he could not be parted.

"Room service," the voice replied.

"I didnít order anything," Magenta released the safety catch on his pistol.

There was only silence in reply. Magenta frowned.

"Ok, Iíll be right there," he called.

Shielding himself against the wall, Magenta waited and listened. He didnít quite know what to expect, but he knew it would be trouble. He held his breath as he heard what sounded like a key in the lock, but still nobody entered the room. He was almost tempted to come out from his cover and peer into the corridor leading to the door, but if indeed trouble awaited him, that would be exactly what they wanted. Magenta was suddenly startled back to the present as a hail of bullets ripped through the door. As he heard the door pushed open, he turned sharply pointing his gun down the corridor, as much to see with how many he was dealing as to pick anyone off. Still nobody there. Magenta knew, they wouldnít have much time to act; the noise of the volley of gunfire would easily be enough to alert hotel security. Still nobody there. He wondered what possible motive they could have had to do all that damage and leave so quickly. Magenta was about to lower his gun when he heard footsteps coming towards the room.

"Security," called an approaching voice.

Magenta sighed and returned the pistol to his shoulder holster. Moving out from his hidden position he waited for them to arrive. Three men appeared at the doorway, guns drawn. The lead man tentatively pushed the door open a few inches.

"Come in," Magenta invited, "itís open."

As the security guard stepped into the room, he glanced down at the lock.

"Hmm, acid," he commented absently before looking up at Magenta.

"I thought I heard something in the lock," Magenta nodded in reply. "Itís ironic theyíd go to that much trouble to get in silently and then turn the door into Swiss cheese."

"Well, maybe they just wanted you dead, Mr Rafferty?" the man suggested in turn.

Magenta glanced up. Something was not right, he made a move to reach for his gun and realised he should never have re-holstered it in the first place. A strong right hook connected with his jaw, swiftly followed by a left to the stomach. An uppercut sent him crashing backwards against the wall. A man stood either side of him holding his arms; the third placed the barrel of his gun directly under Magentaís chin. Silently, Magenta cursed himself for trusting the word of these men claiming to be hotel security. He wondered to himself what had become of the real hotel security. Bribed or attacked were his best guesses. He now focussed his attention on the leader of the three; it wasnít difficult, the man had a gun placed firmly and painfully in his neck.

"Or maybe we just want to scare you?" the man opposite him spoke again.

"Well maybe you should make up your mind," Magenta snapped, gritting his teeth.

"It would be bad luck for you if we rushed that decision and just killed you, wouldnít it?"

"Who are you and what do you want?" Magenta narrowed his eyes. Whichever group these men belonged to, they were lackeys. Tough guys willing to represent their group in a fight, that was all. Nobody would expect him to know who they were.

"We know you have fingers in many pies, Mr Rafferty, if you put them in ours, theyíll get burnt. We just want you to understand that."

Magenta pulled his arms out of the grip of the two men on either side of him. It seemed too easy, but he realised they were preparing to leave. He pushed the barrel of the gun away from his chin.

"You tell your boss, Iím here on my own business. Iíve got something to attend to and thatís all." Magenta straightened and smoothed his suit meticulously, still keeping one eye on his aggressors. "And you tell him from me, that the next time he wants to speak to me, he comes in person!"

There was something about Magentaís bearing, possibly even the way he spoke. The three men stood back from him. They didnít feel as though they should comment further, they had given their warning and now it was time to leave.

Magenta considered the situation. He had let it be known on the grapevine that Daniel Rafferty was in town. Perhaps he should have expected trouble. Nevertheless, he was alive and it appeared he would stay that way. Without further comment, the three men left, arrogantly, confident that Rafferty would try no method of retaliation as they left. Magenta watched them leave; simply satisfied that he had at least managed so far to pull off a convincing act.

Returning to the main living area of the room, he picked up the phoneís handset and dialled for the front desk.

"Iím going to need a new door."

 

***

 

We ate, mostly in silence at first. I didnít really know what to say. She had saved my skin by deflecting Spectrum and I didnít really know why. I had nothing to offer her, and I was certain that she wasnít connected with Heather in any way. She was just being kind to a stranger, but a stranger who was a suspected terrorist. How would she feel about that, I wonder? As it happened, I was about to find out. Something caught Lienís eye on the TV behind me. It was showing the early evening news, and it seemed that I was still headlining. I couldnít understand what was being said but when she increased the volume and I looked back, the expression on her face told me everything I needed to know.

 

***

 

"A mistake, you said?" she spoke calmly.

"Lien, I swear, I didnít do it!" Grey insisted. She was all that stood between him and re-arrest, or at the very least, a night or two of sleeping on the streets.

"They think you did, Brad, why should I believe any different?"

"I canít prove it to you, if I could, I wouldnít be hiding like this."

"I accept that, but I need more than that."

"I was there. My girlfriend said she worked there, I went with her. She did those things, but I was the one caught and blamed for it." Grey gave a very brief outline of his situation.

"I see," Lien nodded earnestly.

"You want to believe me, donít you? Why do you trust me?"

"In this neighbourhood, you learn to take a lot on faith and Iím a much better judge of character than you seem to be."

Once again lowering the volume on the TV, Lien regarded Grey with a cool businesslike stare.

"I want out of here, Brad. I donít know if youíre a rich man or not, but I figure your lifeís worth a lot to you. Iíll help you clear your name, and all I want in return is a six figure pay off."

"Six!"

"Take it or leave it, Brad. How much use to you is your money when youíre in de Wittís?"

Grey swallowed hard. He couldnít tell her but she situation was even worse for him, he faced only a firing squad if he were caught and found guilty. Suddenly her offer seemed very attractive.

"Deal," he replied with a grateful smile. "But what will you do?"

"First, I want to hear the whole story."

Grey nodded.

 

***

 

So, the number of people who were aware of how gullible I can be increased yet again. Naturally, I didnít tell her about Spectrum. Perhaps if I had, things would have been a little different, but I thought I knew best, again!

 

***

 

 

"I think Captain Magenta is going to get something of a surprise when he submits his expenses claim this month." Blue commented with a wicked smile.

"You mean heíll be left a little out of pocket?" asked Rhapsody, sure of the answer.

"Oh, poor Pat," Melody chimed in. "He means well, but he does put himself in these situations."

"I wonder how heís getting on," mused Ochre aloud. Snapping to from his own thoughts and fears, he saw the others sharing his concern.

"Heíll be okay," Scarlet gave Ochre a reassuring nod. "If anyone can pull off that act, itís him."

Ochre managed a thin smile. "Thatís just what he said."

 

***

 

Tandy looked around the small apartment with a deep frown.

"So this is it?" he asked finally.

"I had to get out, this was all I could get at short notice. Anyway, it doesnít matter, itís just a base while things cool down," Heather snapped back, lighting a cigarette. Throwing the match irritably into the ashtray on the table, she rounded on him. "Iíd be out of here by now if it werenít for you!"

"Hey! I did my job!"

"Really? Then why didnít it work then?" Heather moved closer to Tandy, threatening him with a determined glare. "Iím not going to take the fall for you, Tandy. All you had to do was shut down the safety systems and you didnít."

"Yes, I did! There was something wrong with that program of yours, it tripped one of them back on."

"Wait a minute, how come you werenít wearing your mask?" Heather queried with a look of suspicion creeping over her face.

"I was and I nearly got caught wearing it! The announcement that a failed attempt to release the chemicals got to me only seconds before Greenwood arrived. Do you imagine that Iíd still be walking around if theyíd found me wearing a respiratory mask?"

"No, I guess not." Heather stubbed out the remainder of her cigarette. "I want results, Tandy and I want them fast. Mr Rafferty doesnít want to let this go and Iím not about to accept the blame."

"But you seem pretty sure that I will. Iím sorry Heather, youíre going to have to find somebody else!" replied Tandy angrily.

"Iím trying to! Iíve got four other people out there looking for Grey, but itís like heís just vanished off the face of the Earth!"

"He wants to clear his name, heíll turn up. Anyway, why four? Whoís not involved?"

"Kurt."

Tandy nodded. "Yeah, makes sense. Where is he?"

"Last I knew, he was at the cemetery," Heather replied reaching once more for her cigarettes.

"That man has an unhealthy obsession!"

"His sister AND his brother, Tandy! Cut him some slack will you?"

"We donít have the time or resources to deal with a psycho like Kurt."

"Maybe not, but when Mr Raffertyís done with Grey, after we find him, Kurt will be handy to have around."

Tandy took a deep breath and watched as Heather lit another cigarette.

"Dating a Spectrum health fanatic must have killed you!" Tandy commented with a smirk.

Heather looked up harshly, putting out the match with a sharp flick of her wrist. "No," she breathed out some smoke in Tandyís direction making him cough. "He killed Dieter and heíll pay for that!"

 

***

 

Magenta sighed as he closed the laptop once more. Shaking his head, he turned as he heard a familiar voice at the door.

"What the hell happened here?"

"What are you doing here?" asked Magenta ushering Ochre in and closing what was left of the door.

"You knew I was coming, now what happened?"

"I didnít know youíd be coming HERE!"

"What happened?" Ochre demanded.

Pouring Ochre a glass of whisky, Magenta shrugged lightly. Ochre noticed the whimsical look on his face and knew Magenta was about to underplay the seriousness of the situation. He had seen it far too often to be fooled by it.

"Apparently, Daniel Rafferty isnít the most popular of people. But thankfully, he is feared. Itís nothing too serious."

"The door is practically blown away, Iíd say that was serious!"

"Well, you always were a worrier," smiled Magenta. "Glad to see youíre not in uniform anyway."

"As if Iím going to do that! A Spectrum officer turns up at Raffertyís hotel roomÖ"

"Suite," Magenta corrected with a grin, "Raffertyís hotel suite."

"Youíre really pushing it this time, Magenta!"

"RAF-FER-TY," Magenta smirked, "Even walls have ears."

"Okay, RaffertyÖ"

Ochre was interrupted by the door opening, to see the hotel manager stood in the doorway.

"See?" whispered Magenta.

"Point taken," Ochre nodded.

"Mr Rafferty, I am Mr Farrell, the hotel manager. Iíve come to request that you find alternative accommodation. We at the GrandÖ"

"Mr Rafferty is quite satisfied with his accommodation, Mr Farrell. He just needs a new door." Ochre looked intently at Farrell. His stare gave the impression of falling somewhere between polite request and plainly threatening; somehow the effect was simply chilling.

"Yes, well," continued Farrell, obviously disturbed, "as I was saying, we would prefer it if Mr Rafferty made other arrangements."

"And if he doesnít?" Ochre took a step or two closer.

"Well, IÖ"

"Mr Farrell," Magenta approached, "Iíll gladly pay for the door and you have my assurances that there will be no further incidents."

Farrell glanced once more at Ochreís unblinking stare. "IÖ" he began slowly, still somewhat unnerved, "Öthink we can accept that, Mr Rafferty, Iíll arrange to have it replaced straight away."

Magenta watched as Farrell left. Slapping Ochre on the back he gave a small laugh.

"I could have done with you on my side years ago in New York!" He spoke, recalling his mob days.

"Iíll settle for now. Youíre not safe to be out!"

Magenta rolled his eyes. "Ease upÖwhat do I call you?"

Ochreís brow creased as he realised he was now undercover as Raffertyís sidekick.

"You can call me Rick!" he said with a frown.

Magenta shrugged. "Okay, but not Fraser."

"Hansen."

"Interesting, why Hansen?"

"It was my Momís maiden name."

"Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine a baby Fraser," Magenta crumpled his nose; unable to conceal his amusement.

"Just get to the point, Rafferty. What have you found out?"

"Well, most importantly, Greyís alive. Hurt but alive."

Ochre sighed with relief. "Any clue as to where heís hiding out?"

"No, but they have five people looking for him."

"Not to mention the local Spectrum HQ and half the Dutch police. None of which are going to be too fussy about shooting him down."

"Oddly enough, apart from us, his best chance of survival is if heís found by Marchís group. I told her I want him alive."

"Whatís she like?" asked Ochre, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Sheís pretty, slim, long dark hair. A smoker though, I never thought Brad would go for a smoker."

"Maybe she didnít when he was around?" Ochre offered.

"Well sheís got a lot of self-control then, because she practically chain smokes!"

"Maybe sheís just nervous?" suggested Ochre.

"I think sheís got a lot to be nervous about." Magenta stood up. "Anyway, we should go check in."

"With whom?" asked Ochre, surprised.

"With Heather March, I donít want to give her too long on her own, sheís clever. Oh, and it may be nothing, but apparently Bradís killed one of them. A guy called Dieter Foley; I got the impression that he was important in some way. I couldnít find anything on him by hacking into the local police files."

"Maybe you should get Green onto it?" suggested Ochre.

"Are you kidding?" Magenta turned an incredulous expression towards him.

"Relax, he knows weíre hereÖ"

"You TOLD him?" Magenta broke in.

"Well, yes, no not really. Look, itís not just me here. Scarlet, Blue, Melody and Rhapsody are here too."

"Hold on, hold on, hold on!" Magenta shook his head in disbelief. "How did THAT happen?"

"The Old Man sent us, heÖ"

"He knows?" Magenta interrupted him again. Heaving a sigh, he flopped back onto the desk next to his laptop. "Iím dead!" he finally concluded.

"No, he agrees with us," Ochre tried to reassure him.

"He knows I left Cloudbase without permission?"

"Yes." Ochre nodded.

"And did he comment on that at all?"

"Well," Ochre frowned. White had spoken of a disciplinary hearing. "You just jumped the gun a bit, you know what heís like about discipline."

"Yeah, all too well!" Magenta rolled his eyes. "Okay, Iíll worry about that later. Right now, Iíll get a coded message off to Green. As you say, maybe he can send back some information on Foley later."

As he typed, Magenta paused for a moment. "Iíll give him Marchís address too. I donít have much yet, but the more he knows the better."

"Good idea," agreed Ochre nodding.

"Where are they, anyway?" asked Magenta, looking up from his typing.

"Well, Scarlet and Blue are in uniform. Theyíve gone to the Amsterdam HQ to get an update."

"And Rhapsody and Melody? I presume theyíre not flying. Have they gone undercover?"

Ochre grinned. "Thatís a very apt turn of phrase! Weíll drop in on them later."

Magenta shook his head and followed as Ochre headed for the door.

"Why canít you ever just answer a simple question?" he called after him.

 

***

 

Captain Blue brought the Spectrum Saloon Car to a smooth halt outside Spectrum Headquarters, Amsterdam. Turning to face his field partner he released his security harness and gave a worried frown.

"I hope they have some more information for us," sighed Blue, "or this is going to be yet another dead end."

"Well, weíll go through all the statements. Itís just possible that they may have missed something."

"Letís hope so," agreed Blue as they both headed up the short flight of steps into the beautiful nineteenth century building.

"Good afternoon," began Scarlet, "weíre here to see..."

"Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue!" thundered a deep, heavily accented voice. "Thank you for coming, Iím Captain Umber."

To their right, in the doorway to an office, stood an exceptionally tall man in his mid to late thirties.

"Captain," Scarlet greeted him in return. "We were hoping you would be able to give us some more information on the search for Bradley Holden."

Umber frowned. "Why donít you come with me, Captains?" he replied indicating the large and relatively comfortable office behind him.

Following the two Cloudbase captains into the room, Umber closed the door behind them and frowned again. "First of all, I must tell you, I know he is Captain Grey, weíre old friends."

Blue blew out a deep sigh. "Can you shed any light on the situation, Captain?"

"We have very little to go on. The Gate Guard has insisted that a woman accompanied Grey, but we have found absolutely no trace of her on the security tapes. We know somebody was with him, but not who."

"Did the Gate Guard provide a description?" asked Scarlet hopefully.

"Yes," nodded Umber, "but when presented with pictures of all the suspects, he was unable to pick her out."

"You showed him a picture of Heather March?" asked Blue.

"Yes, three in fact. No response."

"You think heís in on it?" asked Scarlet.

"Nothing we can prove. Theyíre a very clever, careful group. If he is with them, heís said just enough to be a convincing witness, but no more." Umber paused as he considered whether or not to make his next statement to the two Cloudbase officers. "You know, even all this business of him returning to kill Foley, I donít believe it. I canít prove it, but I know heís not part of this."

Both Scarlet and Blue offered him encouraging smiles. "We know," agreed Blue, to Umberís relief.

"Nothing on the security tapes?" asked Scarlet, as if suddenly hearing something new.

"Thatís right, just Captain Grey," nodded Umber.

"How likely is that, Captain?" Scarlet mused.

"I donít follow," admitted Umber.

"Someone who doesnít know the factory, Captain Grey, enters and appears on the security cameras throughout," Scarlet began his explanation.

"But not March! So she knew the factory and its cameras?" continued Blue.

"Or somebody told her," Scarlet suggested.

"An inside job!" Umber cried, alarmed. "Why didnít we see it?"

"Whoís in charge of security at the factory?" asked Scarlet quickly.

"Itís a man called Jonathan Tandy, he was theÖ" began Umber.

"The man who contacted us," Blue snapped angrily. "Magenta said he didnít like him."

"We have to get to Norton-Harris Agricultural right away," Scarlet spoke with almost a low growl. "Weíll see what we can find out about this Jonathan Tandy."

 

***

 

Iíll say one thing for having military training, I know how to sew, and Iím pretty good, I have to say. Donít get me wrong, Iíll never win any contests, but I was quite proud of the repair I made on the tear in my pants. I think Lien wanted me to do some repair jobs on some of her clothes, but right now it was taking all her effort just to keep me indoors. Every hour I delayed took me further and further from my objective. For all I knew, Heather had left the country. As far as I knew, she had no reason to stay. In fact, if it hadnít been for Magenta posing as Rafferty, she probably would have done. But, I was getting edgy and, I admit, Lien was getting the backlash.

 

***

 

"Youíre in no condition to go anywhere!" Lien snapped at Grey.

"Iím just a bit tired, thatís all! Iíve felt much worse than this before now, and itís never stopped me!"

"Youíve lost a lot of blood and that arm of yours..." Lienís voice trailed off.

"What?" asked Grey, concerned. "What about it?"

"When I changed the dressingÖ" Lien paused again. "I think itís infected, Brad."

Brad offered a simple nod in reply. "It has been hurting more," he agreed. "Great! Thatís all I need!"

"Okay, donít worry, I know a doctor, he doesnít ask questions, Iíll ask him if heíll look at it for you."

"Thanks, but Lien, Iíve got to..."

"Rest! You canít go running round Amsterdam looking for one woman in a city this size. Youíll never find her and youíll get yourself arrested."

"But she could be gone! What reason does she have to stay?"

"The police will be looking for her too though, wonít they?" Lien asked.

"I donít know, Iíll bet Tandy covered her tracks pretty well. I doubt very much sheís ever had much trouble slipping by them, not in her line of business."

"Look Brad, I know a lot of people and Iím owed a lot of favours. Iíll do everything I can to find her for you."

"Lien, no offence, but weíre talking about a group of terrorists here. I think you may be hoping for a bit too much."

"Let me try, Brad. Whatís the alternative? What would you do? I already checked out the house you mentioned, sheís gone from there..."

"You did what?" Grey was aghast.

"I went to the house..."

"Lien, letís get one thing straight here. You are using your contacts to track her down, if you can, but you should on no account try to find her yourself or make any contact with her. Thatís my job."

"Your job is dealing with terrorists?" replied Lien scornfully. "Now whoís getting carried away?"

"My business then," replied Grey, still reluctant to tell her that he worked for Spectrum.

"Look, Brad, Iíll do my best, but right now, youíve got nothing better to go on and no way of making discreet enquiries without attracting the attention of the police. So I suggest that you sit there, let me make some calls and then weíll have dinner."

 

***

 

I didnít want to appear ungrateful, she was risking a lot for me, but I had started to get the impression that the idea of possibly getting out from her current situation, with the payoff Iíd promised her, was starting to cloud her judgement. I had no idea if she had the right sort of contacts to track Heather down, but I seriously doubted it. Although, she had made one very valid point. Exactly what could I have done? She had contacts; I didnít, well only the ones who wanted to arrest me, anyway. I didnít think that counted somehow. I decided that I didnít really have an option.

 

***

 

"Okay, Lien, I admit, Iíd be taking a chance, but thatís my choice. I donít want you getting THAT involved. See what you can find out, but I canít risk her getting away. If you havenít got anything by tomorrow, Iím going to have to go looking myself. It may not make any sense, but I just canít sit here!"

Lien reached across the table and placed her hands calmingly on his forearms.

"I understand, Brad. Iíll do my best." Getting to her feet, she gave him a brief smile. "Iíll make those calls."

 

***

 

Magenta dialled the number on his cell phone and waited patiently.

"She hasnít had time to do much, maybe a conversation or two, but I donít want to give her enough time to do more than think about it. I donít want anyone to hurt..." Magenta discreetly glanced about him, "...Holden, by accident or otherwise."

"So, do you think sheíll..." began Ochre only to be cut off by Magenta as Heather picked up the phone.

"Miss March, I said Iíd be in touch," he said with a hint of impatience in his voice.

"Mr Rafferty," she seemed surprised by the call. "I wasnít expecting you to call so soon."

" I take it that youíre telling me you have no results for me?"

"Well, no, not yet, Mr Rafferty. I didnít..."

"I donít want to hear what you expected Miss March, I want Holden found and I want him alive. Do I make myself clear?" Magenta snarled in reply.

Ochre was quietly impressed as he listened to what appeared to be a completely different man speaking.

"Yes Mr Rafferty, I want to find him as much as you do, but it appears heís gone to ground, itís not going to be straightforward to smoke him out of hiding."

"I donít expect it is, Miss March, but youíre not paid to have an easy ride. I want him found, do you understand me?"

"Yes, Sir, I do."

"Good. I want to meet with you this evening to discuss your progress."

"Of course, Sir. Where would you like to meet?" she asked checking her watch.

"Weíll come to the address you gave me, and we can discuss your progress."

"We, Sir?" Heather asked with a degree of surprise.

"My associate, Richard Hansen, will accompany me."

"Of course, Sir. Iíll be ready to answer your questions. But Iím at a new address now, I had to get out of there."

"Hmm, of course, give me the address."

Magenta started to jot down the address she read out to him, but her mastery of Dutch far exceeded his own.

"Can you spell that?" he paused as she read out the word letter by letter. "Okay, got that. Weíll see you this evening when I expect to get some answers from you!"

Magenta switched off the cell phone and turned to Ochre.

"Weíre going around there later to find out what she has on Brad," he advised, still with an air of satisfaction.

"One thing I have to ask," began Ochre, his curiosity mounting. "Is that an act or is that you? I mean, it just seemed a little too easy for you to be an act, but we never see it."

Magenta glanced at him with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

"Youíre the detective. You work it out!"

 

***

 

"Colonel," began Green, almost unable to take his eyes off the screen. "I think Iíve found the connection between the terrorist group and Captain Grey."

"Go ahead, Lieutenant," White leaned forward at his desk, listening intently.

"Sir, I ran a check on the guy they found in the canal, Dieter Foley. Heís registered in our files as part of Freedom by Force, that much we knew, but there was very little else on him. I ran several checks including know associates and employment records; nothing tied in. But when I ran a check on family members, I struck gold."

"Get to the point, Lieutenant, what have you found?" Whiteís stress and impatience was showing now more than ever.

"Yes, Sir. Dieter Foley has a brother, Kurt and a sister, Elsa." Green paused as he wondered how to continue with his explanation of what he had found. "Sir, it would appear that they both worked at Marineville, almost from its inception."

"Is it likely that they would have known Captain Grey, Lieutenant?"

"Very, Sir. One thing that Captain Magenta missed was that Captain Greyís wife, Elsa Barnes, was previously married. Her maiden name was Foley."

"So, thereís definitely some connection. What about the brother, Kurt?"

"He never recovered from the shock of the death of his sister. He had a severe mental breakdown and was hospitalised. Late in 2067 he was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Although, the doctors thought that he was already in the early stages, the stress of the death of his sister seemed to have moved the illness on dramatically. Apparently at his own request, he was formally discharged from the W.A.S.P.s on medical grounds and was transferred to a clinic that was better suited to his needs. Things went from bad to worse. He would go to enormous lengths to avoid taking his medication, believing that the staff were trying to poison him. I suppose the breakdown combined with the sudden advance in his illness was too much for him to cope with."

"Thatís tragic," White acknowledged. "But how does it connect with Grey, if Elsa is dead, Kurt is in hospital and Dieter didnít know him?"

"I was just getting to that, Colonel, thatís the final piece in the jigsaw. Kurt escaped from the clinic just over a year ago. He hasnít been seen or heard of since, but itís not unreasonable to suppose that he sought out his brother who has been equally difficult for us to track down. One found the other and prepared their revenge on a man to whom Kurt may have transferred all of his own feelings of guilt. Dieter would be happy to accommodate him in a plan of their own."

"But how did they know the Spectrum connection?"

"I donít know, Sir. It may be that, as his brother in law, Captain Grey may even have told him, it was all before he became so seriously ill."

"I suppose so, there are a number of things to which I doubt weíll find answers. Not just yet anyway." White rose from his desk and walked to Greenís station. "Are you able to contact Captains Magenta or Ochre?"

"Not directly, Sir, but I can send a coded transmission to Captain Magentaís laptop."

"Good, do that please, Lieutenant, and inform Captain Scarlet too. It may well assist him and Captain Blue in their enquiries."

"S.I.G., Colonel," replied Green turning back to his console.

 

***

 

"So, where are we going?" asked Magenta finally as Ochre folded the pocket sized map and placed it back into his pocket.

"Donít you know? I thought you knew Amsterdam," replied Ochre with a grin.

"I do, I just donít know whatís going on inside your head," Magenta replied, somewhat irked by Ochreís cloak and dagger routine.

"You donít have any idea?"

"Youíve told me weíre going to meet Rhapsody and Melody who are undercover, but you seem to be heading for the Red Light..." Magenta stopped in mid-sentence and mid-stride. "Youíre not serious? Rhapsody? A hooker?"

"Hmm," Ochre looked at him with a degree of amusement in his eyes. "Shall I tell Melody that youíre not surprised about her posing as a hooker?"

"I was thinking about Scarletís reaction and you damn well know it!" Magenta answered, still more than a little surprised.

"Ooh, you slipped up there, Rafferty," Ochre smiled at him.

"Yeah, well youíre enough to make anyone slip up," Magenta replied with a harsh stare.

"Come on, Pat," Ochre slapped him playfully on his back, "I was shocked too, you know. Come on, letís find them."

Turning into the Oudezijds Voorburgwal was a real eye opener for Ochre and an opportunity for Magenta to regain his composure. He had seen it all before; granted heíd never seen Rhapsody or Melody there before but he was ready for the scene that awaited them.

It was an unusual mixture of the mundane pressed closely against the bizarre and a dozen or more transitional stages besides. Women stood partially dressed in windows, most of them seemed to have their minds on other things than looking seductive. This was certainly no glamour scene like it would be portrayed in the movies, this was real life. Some women stood in the streets, wearing only slightly more than their indoor counterparts. The street was a haven too for leather clad bikers, huddled in groups smoking and drinking beer. Amongst all this were the shops, from those selling all manner of attire, to bars, clubs and even simple cheese shops. In fact, noted Ochre, a striking number of cheese shops. In amongst it all, on foot and travelling by canal boat, were the tourists, happily pointing their cameras and taking snaps of the scene around them. It was truly an unconventional sight.

Magenta saw them first; he didnít know whether to be shocked or to smile appreciatively. He eventually plumped for a non-committal expression, but had to admit, he had difficulty maintaining it.

"Evening ladies," he called as he approached.

Rhapsody and Melody turned. In many ways, they were similarly dressed to the other ladies nearby, but somehow they stood out, simply worlds apart. Maybe it was that they wore slightly more or their clothes looked new and tailored. Maybe it was just their bearing and the fact that they didnít actually want to be approached, but the two captains found themselves suddenly struggling to concentrate on their task.

"You look..."

"No smart remarks, Fraser," cut in Melody.

Ochre almost appeared hurt by her cutting comment, making her regret it immediately.

"Shall we go inside?" she continued.

Ochre merely stared, open mouthed, in reply.

"To talk, you idiot," Melody walked past him leading the way, closely followed by Rhapsody.

Ochre could hear Magenta snickering behind him. "She had you there, Rick."

Ignoring him, Ochre took a deep breath and the pair followed the two Angels into the bar. Walking beyond the largely drunken clientele, Melody led them through to the rear of the building where they had rented a small room.

"We can talk here," announced Rhapsody.

"Okay," Magenta settled himself on the edge of a small cabinet. "What have you got so far?"

"We know that they are still looking for Captain Grey, and Lieutenant Green has provided us with pictures of suspected members of Freedom by Force," Rhapsody began, taking a seat on the old bed. "The Dutch police have been very helpful and have been able to confirm that one of them usually frequents one of the bars along this road, De Zwarte Diamant. We havenít seen him yet, but we expect him to arrive within the hour, apparently heís a regular. Every night andÖ" She paused. "Ökeen on the local ladies."

"We should be able to get some information out of him," Melody added.

"How?" asked Ochre. "Youíre not putting yourselves in danger are you? You donít have us as back up."

Melody smiled. Despite an often indifferent appearance, Ochre was as concerned and protective as any of them.

"Weíve got this," Melody held up a small bottle of pale blue liquid. "XK3," she explained, "weíll find out what we need."

"Right then." Magenta checked his watch. "We have an appointment with Heather March. Weíll catch up with you later then weíll go back to the hotel to see if Green has left any messages for us."

"Good luck, Captains," replied Melody in her slow Southern drawl.

"You too. Remember, no back up," Ochre replied.

 

***

 

"Where do you think youíre going?" asked Heather, finding Tandy picking up his jacket.

"You donít need me here, I was heading back," he replied, surprised at the harshness of her tone.

"Youíre not going anywhere! I want you here when Mr Rafferty turns up. He wants to know how the safety systems refused to fail and I think youíre the man to answer that question."

"Alright," snapped Tandy in return. "But donít blame me if it comes out looking like it was a fault in that program, everything was fine at my end!"

"What if I were to tell you that the program was supplied by Mr Rafferty himself?"

"Youíre lying!"

"What if Iím not? Can you be so sure? Dare you tell him that his program caused the operation to fail?"

"Youíre a scheming little..." began Tandy, now standing only inches from her.

"Then instead of fighting each other, why donít we back each other up!" she yelled, cutting him off. "Raffertyís out for a head on a plate, it wonít be mine, but it neednít be yours either! We have to work together on this one."

"What do you have in mind?"

"Sit down, we donít have long, heíll be here soon."

 

***

 

I had gone back to my room; I must admit that after spending time in Lienís homely, welcoming room, mine felt positively claustrophobic. I had promised to give Lien time to come up with something, but you know, I was regretting it already. I was torn. In truth, I was exhausted, I donít know how much blood Iíd lost, but I had a feeling that it was enough to make Fawnís eyes pop out of his head. I just wanted to sleep all the time and I was cold. Okay, August in Amsterdam can be a bit hit and miss, but everyone else was wearing short sleeves. So, I guessed it was just me. I just prayed that she would find Heather AND stay out of trouble. Was it too much to ask? I wasnít sure which of those two questions was the more unrealistic, but all I could hope was that she would be careful.

 

***

 

"There," Rhapsody nodded towards a man seated at the bar.

"Thatís our man," agreed Melody.

The two Angels walked over to their target slowly, taking in the scene around them. As they approached, another woman met them half way.

"Youíre new here?" she said eyeing them suspiciously.

"Thatís right," replied Rhapsody, returning her resolute stare.

"Well," she said with a condescending laugh, "seeing as youíre new here, Iíll give you a chance to leave. You see, this is my patch, and I donít like strangers moving in. Do I make myself clear?"

"Youíre clear," Melody answered graciously.

"Good, now if you wouldnít mind just turning around and..."

Melodyís firm grip on the hair at the nape of her neck cut her off in mid-sentence, directing her head towards Rhapsodyís open purse. It was tiny, but only held one item: her gun.

"Now, sugar, is there something you wanted to say to us?" Melody asked in her softest voice.

"You wouldnít dare! Donít think you can..."

She grimaced as Melodyís grip grew firmer, almost pulling the hair from its roots.

"I think youíll find that weíre quite serious," Rhapsody confirmed, reaching inside the purse.

"Hey," she held her hands up defensively, still in Melodyís grip. "I can be welcoming! Who can I introduce you to?"

"Him," Melody nodded to a man sitting alone at the bar.

"Him?" the woman asked, straightening herself up as Melody released her. "Youíre welcome to him," she continued, almost spitting the words.

"Not youíre favourite guy then?" asked Rhapsody with a smile.

"Heís a drunk and a troublemaker. Heís not welcome here and if you want him, heís all yours. Hey, are you cops?"

"All ours, you say?" asked Rhapsody, ignoring her question, but answering by default.

"All yours, honey, and good riddance, I say!"

"Thank you," Rhapsody replied for them both as they walked on towards the bar.

Rhapsody sidled up to the lone drinker. "Hey, honey, can I buy you a drink?"

The man looked at her through half open eyes, he barely seemed to acknowledge her presence.

"Sure babe," he slurred, "you can buy me as many as you like."

"And me, sugar?" Melody sat on the other side of him as Rhapsody ordered a double of whatever he was drinking. "What can I do for you?"

"You can get me another."

Melody grimaced as the smell of stale, cheap whisky hung on his breath. This was clearly not his first bar that evening. The XK3 dispersed itself easily in the drink Rhapsody had bought for him; it seemed unlikely that in his current state that he would even be aware of the difference. It was a reasonable assumption to make as the whole glass full slipped down his throat in one gulp.

Rhapsody glanced at Melody. It would take only moments for the truth drug to take effect, but they would probably not have long to question him before the effect of the alcohol was increased by it and he passed out.

"Whatís your name, sugar?" asked Melody sweetly.

"Huh?" he shook his head as if trying to concentrate.

Good thought Rhapsody, itís working already.

"Your name baby, what is it?"

"Irwin, Frank Irwin," he mumbled, irritably. "Whereís my drink?"

"Itís coming, Frank, I just want to know something, is it true?"

"Is what true?" Irwin eyed Melody with suspicion.

"I heard some troublemaker called Holden was in town and that youíre sorting him out. Is that true?"

"You bet your life itís true!" he spun around unsteadily. With his back to the bar he looked at them both with an air of arrogant self-assurance. "And you know what, itís going to be me who brings him down."

"You know where he is? Iíd like to see you do that."

"You like it a bit rough, babe?" he leered at Melody, "I can give you that."

"Oh, Iíll bet," Melody placed a hand on his chest, keeping him at bay. "But do you know where he is?"

"Why do you want to know?" he asked with a pout. "Donít you believe I can bring him down?"

"Believe you? Honey, I want to be right behind you watching while you do it!"

Irwin puffed himself up, swollen with false and misplaced pride.

"I know where he is, well, nearly anyway."

"Nearly," asked Rhapsody. "Is he nearby?"

"Yeah, heís very close! And you know what? You know... you..."

Melody and Rhapsody watched as Irwin sank to the floor unconscious.

"You know, I canít decide whether or not Iím glad they donít know. At least if he had, we could have gone straight to him," Rhapsody sighed.

"I know," agreed Melody. "Oh well, one for the local boys, initially," she grinned at the sight of the Dutch police arriving to take Irwin into custody. "Letís go."

 

***

 

I couldnít believe it, I simply couldnít. Weíre they on to me? I really didnít know, but when I saw Rhapsody and Melody from my bedroom window, I admit I was sure they had tracked me down. I watched them closely as they walked out of the bar and up the street. My heart was in my mouth as I was certain that any moment they would turn around and look up, directly at me. It didnít happen, but strangely this did nothing to quell my fear. I was no closer to proving my innocence and Rhapsody and Melody were right there in the street where I was hiding. Was it a coincidence? I had no right to hope for that much, but I had few options either. I knew that if they were there, then they were unlikely to be alone. I had no idea if Magenta was healthy, or even Blue for that matter. The events of his mission with Scarlet were completely unknown to me, what if he was hurt? I had no way of knowing. I guessed that Ochre was now sufficiently recovered and of course Scarlet would be okay. So at the very least, Scarlet, Ochre, Rhapsody and Melody were on my trail. I was up against the best. I had to be so very careful and even more than that, I needed luck on my side.

 

***

 

Ochre and Magenta arrived at the new address that Heather had given to Magenta only hours earlier. Looking around, they concluded that this was a rushed decision. They hadnít visited the other house, but the address was prestigious enough to tell them what they could have expected to find. No this place wasnít a back up arrangement; this was a desperate attempt to evade the police and Spectrum.

Magenta pressed the door intercom. After short wait a female voice replied.

"Hello?"

Magenta frowned, the voice sounded completely different to the voice he had heard earlier, accented, somehow deeper. He began to wonder if they had gone to the wrong address.

"Rafferty," he replied brusquely.

"Come up, Mr Rafferty," the voice returned to its usual pitch and accent. "Iíll buzz you in."

A buzzing noise emanated from somewhere near the door. Magenta pushed the door lightly and he and Ochre stepped in.

"Are all the houses like this?" asked Ochre quietly as he noticed that the hallway contained little but a storage area and a staircase leading up to the main rooms.

"Some," Magenta nodded.

As they reached the top of the stairs, Heather was there to meet them.

"Mr Rafferty, Mr Hansen," she greeted them as they entered. "Can I get you a drink?" she asked with a slight shake in her voice.

"No," Magenta turned back to face her. "You can produce Holden and tell me how you allowed this to go so badly wrong!"

"Mr Rafferty, we are very close to finding him, I assure you. We have more people flying in as we speak, it wonít be long."

"If youíre that close," Ochre drew alongside her, "why do you have more people flying in? You sound like you donít have a clue where he is and youíre clutching at straws. Am I right?"

A sound from upstairs drew her attention; her head tilting back slightly as she heard movement above.

"Whoís that?" Magenta demanded.

"Itís one of my team, heíll be down shortly, heís on the computer receiving updates."

"Well his news had better be good," Magenta snapped.

The two Spectrum officers looked to their right as the door opened and Jonathan Tandy entered. The instant Magentaís eyes fell on him he felt the sudden heat of dread as he recognised Tandy from the factory and feared his cover was blown. The aggressiveness of the man towards Grey, whilst in itself not unusual given what Grey was supposed to have done, suddenly translated itself into something wholly sinister as he realised that his brutality towards Grey was due to the failure of the project and nothing more. As Magenta eyed him he felt himself relax slightly as he noticed not a glimmer of recognition from Tandy. He did appear quite different out of uniform, he told himself. Hopefully it would be enough.

"Mr Rafferty," Tandy addressed him, "Iím Jonathan Tandy."

"Good evening, Mr Tandy. Tell me, do you share Miss Marchís views on the likelihood of locating Holden?"

"Of course, Sir, weíre on his trail, he canít evade us for long."

"So, whatís your strongest lead so far?" asked Magenta, now confident that he had gone unrecognised.

"Well, let me show you on the map," he replied walking past Magenta to a large cabinet against the wall.

Magenta caught Heatherís eye. Her expression was a mixture of puzzlement and suspicion. It seemed clear to him that whatever this map was, she was unaware of it. Then, it seemed almost as if a prickle ran up his spine. Something was wrong. Magenta turned, his hand reaching for his gun. The look of horror on Heatherís face alerted Ochre to the change in situation and he turned in time to see a large brass candlestick brought down on Magentaís left temple. The gun, now in Magentaís hand skittered across the carpet as he hit the floor, still conscious but reeling from the blow. Ochreís hand was on the butt of his pistol, but Tandy was already pointing his at Ochreís chest.

"Tandy! What are you doing?" she shouted in utter consternation.

"I canít miss from here," Tandy spoke slowly and coldly, disregarding Heatherís frustration at being ignored by him. "I suggest that you take it out slowly and drop it."

Ochreís eyes narrowed. As soon as he heard the name, he knew who he was, but he too believed that Magenta had gone unrecognised. As Ochre slowly drew the gun from its holster, taking his eyes from Tandy only long enough to weigh up Magentaís prone form. If he was not unconscious now, then he was very close. Taking a deep breath, he watched Tandy with undisguised hostility.

"Tandy!" Heather shouted again grasping his arm. "What are you doing?"

"Why donít you tell her?" Tandy kept the gun aimed at Ochre, neither of them flinching.

"You better tell me whatís going on, Tandy," she snapped, pushing a small pistol into his side, "or Iíll kill you myself."

Tandyís eyes flickered briefly to his left. "What are you doing?" he hissed, angry by her reaction.

"Youíre police, arenít you?" She shoved the pistol painfully into his side. "Arenít you!" she yelled furiously.

"No!" he thundered in return. "But these guys are!"

"What?" she stepped back, lowering her gun dazed by the revelation.

"Well," continued Tandy, "Spectrum actually. Looking after their own. He," Tandy pointed down to Magenta, "came to the factory to pick up Holden."

"Spectrum! You mean Iíve been going crazy, bending over backwards for him and heís a glorified cop!"

Heather lost her temper and landed a brutal kick in Magentaís ribs. Almost without thinking about it, Ochre stepped forward, ready to attack, but was forced to pull up short as both guns were levelled at him.

"Get your hands behind your back," Tandy insisted, his voice brimming with arrogance and contempt.

 

***

 

Lien glanced over at the table where the telephone sat ringing. Hopeful for news about the woman Brad was so desperately wishing to track down, she practically ran to the phone.

"Hello?" she answered optimistically.

"Lien? Itís Peter from De Zwarte Diamant." Despite the noise of the bar behind him, it was clear that he was nervous.

"Peter, what is it? Have you found her?" asked Lien in reply.

"Almost the opposite. I just had two women in here questioning one of the regulars. I guess they were undercover police or something. He started boasting that they were about to move in. Iím worried about you, Lien. You have to get him out of there."

"I canít, Peter, you know that. I canít abandon him now, heís..."

"Money in the bank?" Peter finished her sentence for her.

"Donít say that, I believe him."

"Yeah, well it doesnít matter what you believe. If you donít get him out of there soon youíre likely to lose your life because of him. Do you think theyíll leave witnesses?"

"I donít have anywhere to go, Peter," she reasoned. "I have these rooms, thatís all."

She heard a heavy sigh at the other end of the line.

"He can stay here, I have rooms upstairs, but I want a share of his money."

"Thank you, Peter, thank you."

"Donít go mushy on me, Lien, just take care of yourself," he added, giving away his true feelings.

Lien replaced the handset and gathered her thoughts. Brad was in danger. She had to get the pair of them unnoticed down to De Zwarte Diamant fast. It was only a few doors away, but somehow it still felt like a trek up Everest.

But first she had to convince Brad.

 

***

 

It was dťja vu. I was asleep when she called. Knocking on the door, calling my name. I was getting some long needed rest; I couldnít believe the effect the blood loss had had on me. I was certain that, Iíd have brought Heather into custody by now but for the debilitating effects. I woke slowly. Lien had done as she promised regarding a doctor. I had a series of potentially dubious antibiotics to take, but my arm was still hurting, the dull ache Iíd put up with from the start was swiftly being replaced by a sharp stabbing sensation. But, it sounded like she may have news for me, so I had to ignore the pain and get on with business.

 

***

 

"Iím coming!" Grey called to the door. As he opened it, Lien almost burst into the room.

"Come on, you have to leave now!" she cried, pulling at his left arm.

"What?" Grey pulled back, refusing to leave without explanation. "Why, whatís going on?"

"Theyíre on their way, they know where you are, I have to move you," she explained.

"Theyíre coming here? Good, thatíll save me having to find them!" Greyís face fixed itself in a hard determined expression.

"And when they kill you? Youíll still think that it was good?" Lien placed her hands on her hips and regarded the stubborn fool stood in front of her, her expression giving away her thoughts exactly. "Itís not going to be your girlfriend and they will be armed. You donít have a gun and I certainly donít, how do you think youíll defend yourself?"

"Iíve been trained in unarmed combat," Grey replied, not elaborating further.

"Really?" Lien seemed unimpressed. "Well what about one armed combat?" she asked, tapping his right arm. "You are in no condition..."

 

***

 

I didnít hear any more of her sentence. She may not have said any more, I really couldnít say. I saw the look of horror on her face as she realised what sheíd done. Sheíd only tapped me lightly, but the pain was unbearable. I must have looked close to passing out. The next thing I knew, I was sitting unsteadily on the edge of a chair breathing hard, trying to dull the pain. It wasnít just confined to my arm any more; it travelled past my shoulder up through my neck and into the back of my head. I felt I would collapse and I knew she was right. I needed to see her doctor again. It would continue to get worse and I could feel my freedom slipping away fast, not to mention my life.

 

***

 

"Okay," Grey muttered breathlessly, "where are we going?"

"A friend of mine, heís a barman at the De Zwarte Diamant, itís just down the street a little way. He has rooms upstairs, he said you could use one."

Grey gave it some thought. That had been the bar he had seen Melody and Rhapsody leave earlier. He nodded in reply. At least they had already been there.

 

***

 

Captain Blue lowered his cap microphone as his epaulettes flashed white.

"Yes, Colonel?" he asked.

"Captain, what is your current position?" asked the Colonel.

"Myself and Captain Scarlet are on our way to Norton-Harris Agricultural, Sir. We suspect a man called Jonathan Tandy, the Operations Manager, at the factory may be connected in some way."

"Yes, Captain," White acknowledged. "Captain Umber has already informed me of your suspicions. I have Lieutenant Green searching the data banks now. Perhaps weíll have a little more for you shortly."

"Thank you, Sir. Is there any more information from Captains Ochre or Magenta?"

White sighed, he sounded troubled. "No, theyíre overdue to report in. I have to confess, Iím worried, I spoke to Rhapsody a little earlier and she advised that Ochre and Magenta were meeting with the terrorists again for an update on their search for Grey."

"How long are they overdue, Colonel?"

"About an hour, Captain."

Blue could hear the anxiety in Whiteís voice. "Donít worry, Sir, weíll get on it straight away. Captain Umber has arranged for the roads between Amsterdam and the van Haart Business Park to be cleared. Our journey to the factory has been cut down to twenty minutes. Weíre almost there."

"Good, find out what you can."

Captain Blue returned the microphone to his visor.

"Trouble?" asked Scarlet not taking his eyes of the road.

"Magenta and Ochre have failed to report. The Colonel thinks there might be something seriously wrong. Apparently theyíre over an hour late."

"Weíll get on to it when weíve finished here then?"

Blue nodded. "Thatís what I said. I guess..." Blue lowered his microphone once more, when his epaulettes flashed again.

"Rhapsody Angel to Captain Blue," came the soft English accented voice.

"Go ahead, Rhapsody,"

"Captain Blue, we found one of the terrorist group in a local bar and questioned him. They donít know where Grey is. Iím afraid weíve drawn a blank."

"Donít worry, Rhapsody. How did you find him?"

"Heís a regular at the bar, the Dutch police provided us with some assistance."

"A regular?" Blue gave it some thought. "You may want to consider talking to the barman, sometimes regulars get drunk and their tongues loosen up. You may find out more that way."

"Thatís a good idea, we will. How is your investigation going?"

"It looks like it was an inside job at Norton-Harris Agricultural. Weíre going to the factory to speak to the Managing Director. Greenís got him out of bed, him and a guy called Greenwood who was present when Captain Grey was arrested."

"Well, good luck, I hope itís productive," Rhapsody replied brightly.

 

***

 

Grey walked as quickly as he could while cradling his right arm. Lien walked to his right, offering protection against jolts from passers by.

"Lien," Grey spoke almost in a whisper, "this isnít going to work. I canít keep hiding, I have to find her."

Lien sighed irritably and wondered what she had to do to convince him that he simply wasnít fit even to walk, never mind fight.

"Just come in, we can talk. I can get a doctor to look at you again. You need rest and medical attention, not fighting and running. Do you understand me? AM I getting through to you?"

 

***

 

I couldnít believe she was so angry, but what felt worse was that I didnít have the energy to argue with her. She was right. I knew it, she knew it, but it didnít make it any easier to swallow. I was so frustrated at my own incapacity. All I could think of was that none of this would have happened if Magenta had refastened his harness. Either that or I hadnít been taken for a fool in the first place. Part of me just wanted to give myself up, but I fought it. How was I to know that everyone believed in me?

Lien pointed me towards a dark narrow staircase leading away from the noisy bar. I walked up the steep stairs. It was so dark, I could barely see where I was treading, but eventually we made it. Lien stepped ahead of me and opened up one of the rooms. It was small and a little musty. Lien flicked the light switch and I turned to face her. She still looked angry, but that seemed to fade as I looked at her. I wanted to see a mirror just to see how bad I looked, if it was going to have that effect.

 

***

 

"Make yourself comfortable, Brad. Iím going back downstairs to see Peter and Iíll see if I can get a doctor for you."

Grey nodded his appreciation. "Thanks, Lien. Iím not the most patient man in the world, but I am grateful, believe me."

"Just rest," she replied with a shrug as she turned and closed the door behind her.

 

***

 

"Is he settled?" asked Peter, the barman on Lienís return.

"As much as he ever is! Heís quite a handful!"

"Youíre no closer to finding this woman are you?" Peter asked in such a tone that suggested it was a rhetorical question.

Lien shook her head. "And I donít know how Iím going to either. I have contacts, but not the sort who would know people from organisations like that. How can I give up though?"

"Why canít you? You donít owe him anything!" Peter poured her a drink as he spoke.

"I told you, heís promised to pay me if I can help him," Lien admitted with a slightly guilty expression covering her face as she looked away.

"There is another way, you know."

Lien looked up, puzzled by his statement.

"Thereís quite a hefty reward on offer for information leading to his arrest."

Lien looked shocked. "Youíre suggesting I betray him?"

"What is he to you, Lien? You said heís wanted by Spectrum. Well, maybe you canít find this woman because she doesnít exist. Maybe he IS guilty!"

"I donít believe that and Iím not going to give up on him now!"

Peter downed his drink. "Then thatís your problem."

 

***

 

Ochre looked with concern at Magenta as his hands were tied behind him. Magenta was deathly pale and was finding it quite difficult to hold himself upright. His left temple and cheek were stained with blood, his hair matted. Ochre was pushed back beside him and could only watch as his ankles were similarly bound.

"Magenta?" Ochre whispered.

"Sorry, Ochre, I had no idea he was one of them. I didnít think heíd recognised me." Magentaís voice was slurred and slow.

"Donít worry, you better rest," Ochre whispered back.

"Hey!" Tandy wandered back and kicked Ochreís feet. "What are you whispering about?"

Ochre glared up at Tandy. He wanted nothing more than to retaliate, but with Magenta in such a bad way, he hadnít even been able to prevent their capture. Bound as they both were, there seemed very little he could do about it now.

"I said..."

"I heard what you said!" Ochre growled in reply.

"Then answer me!"

"I was checking on my partner."

"I can help you there. Heís in a bad way," Tandy laughed.

Ochre was furious. Unseen, he worked hard to free his hands, but the ropes held firm. In frustration he yelled back at him.

"He needs a doctor! Canít you see that?"

"He doesnít need a doctor, because by morning, heíll be dead. You both will."

Tandy stared expectantly down at Ochre, waiting for a reaction. He got none. Frowning, he continued.

"Who are you?"

"Captain Ochre, Spectrum," replied Ochre simply.

"And heís Magenta?" Tandy nodded to himself. "Yes, I remember that. I wasnít sure if he knew Grey or not. Iíll give him credit: heís a good actor. I doubt thereíre many who could pull off acting the part of the leader of a group such as ours."

Magenta moaned softly. He slumped slightly to his left, his head rolling till his chin rested on his chest.

"Magenta?" queried Ochre.

"Heís concussed by the look of it, but donít worry." Tandy looked at his watch. "In about five hours, it wonít trouble him any more."

"Theyíve arrested Frank!" Heather slammed the phone down and she joined them. "Spectrum think theyíre so good, but weíve put the word out. Very soon, Spectrum will know not to mess with us. The pair of you are going to be executed at dawn. And given that we donít have to worry about Rafferty on our backs, weíve called off the search for Grey. We donít need him any more."

"So you donít know where he is?" Ochre raised an eyebrow.

"No, but that really doesnít matter, does it? He canít clear his name, the evidence is quite clear and the only ones who really know heís innocent are you two." Heather laughed as she leaned in closer. "And you wonít be telling anyone."

Tandy consulted his watch. "Right, itís one fifteen now. Dawn at five a.m. I suggest you relax and make your peace."

 

***

 

Scarlet and Blue walked briskly from the bright red Spectrum Saloon Car. As they approached the main building, they could see two men apparently waiting for them.

"Whatever they can tell us, we have to get it quick. Magenta, I can just about accept missing a scheduled report, but not Ochre." Blue took a deep breath. "Somethingís happened."

Scarlet nodded gravely.

"Good evening, Captains," one of the men addressed them wearily. "I hope this is important. Iím Gerard Harris, the Managing Director and this is Alan Greenwood, of whom I believe your organisation is aware. If youíd follow me to my office."

"Yes, Sir," replied Scarlet. "We have a few questions for you, rest assured it is important, but weíd like to keep it brief."

"You and me both, Captain," Harris replied as they stepped into the elevator. Pressing the button for the top floor, they proceeded in silence as once the doors opened; he led them to a plush office half way down the hall.

"Mr Harris," Scarlet began, "how long has Jonathan Tandy been working for you?"

"Tandy?" Harris frowned as he tried to remember. "Iíd say about a year. Yes, he joined us about a year ago as head of security."

"Where was his last employment?"

"I donít know. Firstly I didnít interview him; secondly, it was over a year ago, Captain. If you wanted personnel information, you should have advised me before arriving, I donít have that sort of information lying around you know."

"The day of the security breach," Blue stepped in quickly, "did you notice anything unusual?"

"Nothing was reported to me," replied Harris. "Look, Iíve already discussed this with an officer from your Amsterdam office."

"Nothing?" asked Greenwood, surprised.

"Should there have been something?" asked Scarlet hopefully.

"Well, yes, Captain, I reported to Mr Tandy that it appeared as though some of the security cameras had been tampered with. Some had restricted motion, some had been switched off," Greenwood explained. "He said heíd make a full report and look into it."

"This is news to me!" Harris replied, shocked by what he heard.

"So it looks like Tandyís concealed evidence?" asked Blue.

"This is the first time Iíve heard this," Harris confirmed. "There is certainly no investigation into it."

"Thank you, Mr Harris, Mr Greenwood, youíve been very helpful," Scarlet acknowledged, with a brief nod. "I think weíve got everything we need."

"Glad to be of help," Harris replied, surprised by the haste. "Iíll show you out."

Back in the Spectrum Saloon Car, Blue took the wheel and headed back towards Amsterdam.

"Inside job," he hit the wheel in frustration, "by the one man who could control all the information."

"We have his address," Scarlet sifted through some of the information retrieved for them by Lieutenant Green. "Letís pay him a visit."

 

***

 

Rhapsody and Melody pushed open the door to De Zwarte Diamant once more. Rhapsodyís nose crumpled in distaste. The bar was full, hot and smoky. Some of the smoke held a distinctly illegal aroma.

As they made their way to the bar, it took only a few glances and some choice words to discourage any would-be customers.

Peter, the barman raised his eyebrows and pointed towards them as an indication that it was their turn to be served.

Rhapsody leaned in to the bar. "Somewhere quiet, to talk."

"You want to rent a room?" he asked.

"We want to talk to you," she shouted over the noise.

"Both of you?" Peter replied with surprise.

"Talk!" Rhapsody yelled back at him. "Nothing else."

"I have a full bar, I donít have time..."

He stopped in mid-sentence as Rhapsody flashed her Spectrum pass at him. Nodding, he indicated a room beyond the bar.

"Iíll be back in a little while," he advised the barman nearest to him, before following the two Angels to the back room.

The other barman, having not seen the Spectrum pass, saw only that Peter was following two seductively dressed women into the back room. He merely grinned in reply.

"What can I do for you?" he asked entering the room. "Oh and sorry about the misunderstanding. You are dressed like...well, I..."

"Weíre looking for this man," Melody interrupted, passing him an out-of-uniform photo of Captain Grey.

"What about him?"

"The man who was arrested tonight. He was boasting about having almost found him. Heís a regular here, has he said anything to you?"

"No, not a thing," Peter shook his head. "Thereís a reward out for this guy, is that right?"

The two Angel pilots took a step closer. Something about the way he said it seemed to suggest he knew more than he had said.

"Do YOU know where he is?" asked Melody.

"If I do, would I get paid?"

Melody nodded.

"Heís upstairs," he replied simply.

Melody and Rhapsody were dumbfounded.

"Take us to him, please," asked Rhapsody.

"Is he dangerous?"

Rhapsody shook her head with a smile. "No, he wonít harm you."

"You should know, heís in a bad way, the doctorís with him now and Lien."

"Whatís wrong with him and whoís Lien?" asked Melody.

"His arm, infected or something. Lienís been looking after him."

"Hiding him?" asked Melody curtly.

"Hey, she didnít know, not at first," he explained.

"And when she did know?" Melody enquired airily.

"She reckons he was framed."

"And you?"

"I donít even know what he was supposed to have done. Iím just doing Lien a favour," he shrugged.

"If youíd take us to himÖ" Rhapsody requested again.

"Sure, follow me."

 

***

 

Heather looked up towards the source of the noise, putting out a match after lighting another cigarette. A terrific banging and shouting was coming from the door.

"Kurt," she sighed.

"Youíre going to have to let him in, heís going to attract the police if weíre not careful."

Heather placed the match in her ashtray and removed the cigarette from her lips. "Heís trouble, Tandy. He was useful, but heís crazy."

"Just let him in before we all get arrested!"

Heather pressed the button on the intercom releasing the door locks. Almost immediately they heard someone running up the stairs. It sounded as though the newcomer was taking two or three at a time in the haste to arrive.

Heather opened the door to the main room and Kurt Foley pushed past her into the room. He bore a distinct resemblance to his brother, Dieter. Kurt was a little taller and although there was only a year between them, Kurt looked far older than his age. But otherwise there was a strong family resemblance.

"Youíve called off the search for Holden! Why?" he demanded.

"We donít need him any more," replied Tandy simply.

"I do! I want him found and I want him dead!"

"He will be. Heís still wanted by Spectrum. I mean WE donít need him," Tandy explained.

"I do! I want to see him die. He killed my sister and now my brother and I want him dead!"

Tandy frowned. He knew all about Kurt from Dieter. His untreated illness had made him irrational and violent. He needed to be handled with kid gloves, but Tandy wasnít in the mood. Spectrum had made fools of them all, but they were about to get retribution. He knew too that Holden had had nothing to do with the death of Kurt and Dieterís sister, and in truth, was probably as tormented by it as they were, possibly more so. Kurtís paranoia could wait.

"Weíre not changing our decision now. Heíll get whatís coming to him from Spectrum and thatís enough for me," Tandy snapped back.

Kurt shoved Tandy; his big hands pushing him back against the wall.

"Well itís not good enough for me!"

"Kurt!" Heather cried. "Calm down!"

Kurt cupped his left hand around Tandyís throat, pushing him back against the wall whilst holding him; Tandy could feel the air cut off and he began to choke.

"Kurt!" Heather cried again. "Let him go!"

Grabbing his arm, Heather tried to pull him away. She could see Tandyís face turning bright red, his eyes bulging and turning bloodshot. In an effort to free himself, Tandy kicked. Kurt, whilst registering the pain from the close quarter violent kick, refused to let go. Instead his fingers closed tighter. Tandy could feel his energy draining, and becoming light-headed. Sound echoed in his ears as he made a last ditch effort to escape Kurtís seemingly unnaturally strong grip.

Kurt looked Tandy in the eyes. It was as if at the last moment, he grew bored of a game. Keeping his grip firm he pulled Tandy forward and slammed his head back into the wall with tremendous force. The wall became stained red with Tandyís blood. With a nod of satisfaction, Kurt released Tandy and watched as he slowly sank to the floor. Turning, he addressed Heather coldly.

"Get the search for Holden back on."

 

***

 

Captain Scarlet lowered his microphone.

"Colonel, weíre here at Tandyís apartment, but thereís no sign that heís been here for a day or so. Thereís unopened post from at least two days ago."

"Itís to be expected, Captain," White confirmed, "I suspect he went to ground soon after things went wrong. Make your way back to Amsterdam. I will ask Lieutenant Green to check for any other potential addresses used by March, Tandy or any other member of the group. However, I have some grave news for you, Captain. We have received intelligence that Captains Ochre and Magenta are being held by the group and are to be executed at dawn. We have only three hours, Captain."

Scarlet took a deep sigh. "Understood, Colonel. Weíre on our way."

 

***

 

I didnít trust this doctor. I got the feeling that he got his qualifications by collecting enough coupons, if you know what I mean. But then maybe Iím just too used to Fawn; heís the best in the business, so itís probably not a fair comparison. But here he was again, checking out my arm. I couldnít understand a word he said to Lien, and maybe thatís a good thing because from the look on his face I didnít get the feeling that it was good news. He was just about to discuss it with me, when the door opened.

I saw Rhapsody and Melody standing in the doorway with the barman. Lien looked confused; she had no idea who they were, but when they showed their Spectrum passes, her whole demeanour changed. On the surface she was going to play the "mistaken identity" card for all it was worth, but I could see she was absolutely furious with Peter.

 

***

 

"What is this?" Lien asked stepping forward.

"Lien..." began Grey.

Lien waved him silent.

"Whatís going on?" she insisted.

"Bradley Holden, youíre under arrest," Rhapsody spoke the words without enthusiasm.

"Youíre wrong, I donít know who you think this is but..."

"Lien, leave it," Grey spoke again.

"Mr Holdenís arm is severely injured," began the doctor. "I would recommend against the use of handcuffs."

"I donít think Mr Holdenís going to give us any trouble," Rhapsody eyed Grey with an expression that asked, ĎAre you?í Grey shook his head slightly and rose to his feet.

"Sit down, Mr Holden," Melody stepped forward. "We need to ask you a few questions before we leave. If I can ask you all to leave the room and return downstairs..."

Reluctantly Lien stood up but remained where she was, staring between Grey and the two Angels.

"Itís okay, Lien. Thanks for everything."

Lienís brow creased in a frown as she realised there was nothing left for her to do than to leave with the doctor and Peter.

Now left alone with Rhapsody and Melody, Grey looked up at them.

"I didnít do it, you know. I know I canít prove it and you wonít believe me anyway, but I was set up."

"We know, you idiot," replied Melody bluntly. "And we could have done without this cat and mouse game."

"How do you know?" asked Grey incredulous.

"We know you. But we still have to prove it." Melody took a communicator from the small drawstring purse hanging from her belt. "Iím contacting Cloudbase. Theyíll be pleased to hear weíve found you, but Iím afraid we still have to arrest you."

Grey nodded. "I understand."

The three Spectrum agents listened to the communication with Colonel White. As relieved as he was that they had found Grey alive and relatively well, it didnít diminish the seriousness of the news of Ochre and Magentaís capture by the terrorist group and their impending execution. Grey felt sick. This was entirely his fault. Colonelís final brief to Melody before signing off was that she should obtain as much information as possible from Grey.

 

***

 

There wasnít much I could tell them. If Iíd had much information Iíd have found her myself. The situation seemed hopeless and it was entirely my fault. The only real piece of information I had was Heatherís last address, but I knew she had already left there. I told them, of course, and I could only hope that it would be of some use to them.

 

***

 

"So, you sold him out?" Lien shoved Peterís shoulder as they stood in the room in which Rhapsody and Melody had interviewed him only minutes before.

"They were from Spectrum. You want me to lie to Spectrum? Iíve got my licence to think about here!"

"I might have known youíd be thinking about yourself!" Lien snapped back.

"Donít kid yourself, Lien, that you were doing it for any other reason than for his money. You told me yourself that you struck a deal. You should have just turned him in, you had more chance with that."

"Heís innocent!"

"His problem, not mine, not yours! Lien, you could have got yourself killed over him."

Lien stormed out of the room and headed back towards the bar just as Grey was being led down the stairs.

"Iím sorry, Brad. I didnít know he was going to do that," Lien spoke, her voice full of remorse.

"Itís okay, Lien, really. Itís for the best," he nodded with a slight smile.

 

***

 

Magenta raised his head slowly. It was painful and difficult to coordinate himself but he was at least awake.

"Magenta? Are you okay?"

Ochreís concerned voice filtered through the fog that still surrounded his mind. Magentaís reply was simply a slow nod. Very little else seemed possible right now.

"He hit you pretty hard," Ochre continued, trying hard to keep Magenta awake.

"I know," Magenta replied with a grunt. Half-opening his eyes, everything was still a blur. "If we get out of this, Iím going to kill him."

"Someone already beat you to it," Ochre sighed, his eyes fixed on Tandyís lifeless body only feet away.

"What?" Magenta turned his head, far too quickly. The room span forcing him to close his eyes. He felt nauseous and dizzy.

"Hey! Take it easy. Stay still and rest. Youíve got a concussion," Ochre informed him.

"No kidding," Magenta replied gruffly.

"Tandyís dead, some guy named Kurt turned up and killed him. He claims Grey killed his brother and his sister."

Magenta stared, puzzled. He wasnít certain whether he had missed some information or he had misunderstood what he had been told.

"So, why did he kill Tandy?" he asked uncertainly.

"Tandy called off the search for Grey, he wasnít happy."

"No, but I am now," Kurt stepped up to them. "The search for Holden is back on and we have the added bonus of killing you two. Whatís it like working with a murderer?" Kurt crouched down next to Magenta. "Whatís that like?" he asked as his hand hovered near the gash over Magentaís left temple.

Drawing away as best he could, Magenta frowned at him.

"Grey is no murderer!" he argued.

"Is that so?" Kurt looked down, shaking his head as if disappointed by the answer.

Without warning, Kurt drew his hand back and swung it viciously back across Magentaís damaged temple. The wound opened up once more as a searing pain swept through his head, threatening to engulf him and send him into unconsciousness once more.

Ochre yelled, at once furious and frustrated to be forced to look on helplessly as his friend was treated in such a brutal way.

Kurt looked up, angered by Ochreís attempt to intervene. Turning back to Magenta, he grabbed him across his jaw and forced him to look up.

"You better watch yourself or you wonít last until dawn!"

"Leave him alone! I thought you wanted Holden?"

The voice came from behind him; it was Heather.

"I do, Elsa, I do. He wonít get away with killing Dieter, believe me. Iíll avenge us!"

"E-Elsa?"

Kurt tilted his head slightly as he stared at her. "You do want revenge for the death of our brother, donít you?"

"Of course, Kurt." Heather realised that the situation had become too much for Kurtís already fragile grip on reality and that he had started to imagine her as his dead sister. "I just didnít expect you to tell them," she added hurriedly.

Kurt frowned, and shook his head. "Doesnít matter. Donít worry, Elsa; weíll soon have him here, on his knees begging forgiveness. Nobody gets away with killing our family."

Heather smiled weakly, uncertain how long she could maintain the pretence or even how long he would believe Elsa was alive again.

Ochre looked up. He knew she wasnít Elsa; how could she be?  But it did give him a little more insight into the condition of Kurt Foleyís mind. Still struggling with the ropes about his wrists, Ochre refused to give up and accept their fates.

Magenta looked up once more, he could feel blood trickling down his cheek. With half-opened eyes, he turned to face Ochre.

"Did he just call her Elsa?" he asked his voice once again slurred and difficult to understand.

Ochre nodded. "He thinks sheís his sister."

"Elsa? Thatís too much of a coincidence."

"What is?" asked Ochre.

"Greyís wife was called Elsa."

"But you said she was Elsa Barnes," replied Ochre,

"I know but..." Magenta paused as he remembered something. "Oh, what an idiot!" he chastised himself. "Her name was Barnes alright, MRS Elsa Barnes. She must have been married before. Iíll bet her maiden name was Foley."

Ochre nodded thoughtfully, "My guess is that youíd win that bet."

 

***

 

Scarlet and Blue stood outside the tall houses on the bank of the Herengracht staring up at the house that Magenta had previously advised as occupied by Heather. Scarletís microphone was already lowered for his conversation with Colonel White.

"Yes, Colonel, empty, it looks as though itís been abandoned. Weíre no nearer to finding them," he sighed heavily.

"I suppose that was to be expected, Captain. But, one piece of good news is weíve located Grey. Heís on his way back to Cloudbase," White informed him.

Scarlet could hear the relief in his Commanding Officerís voice, but their problems were far from over.

"That is good news, Sir. How is he?"

"He appears to have a bad infection in his arm and an untreated bullet wound in his leg but nothing that Doctor Fawn canít sort out, heís with him now," White replied. "However, you will be pleased to hear that we have a new lead for you."

"On Ochre and Magenta?" Scarlet replied his tone a mixture of surprise and relief.

"Yes, Captain. Rhapsody informed us that they were on their way to see March. We suspect that Tandy must have been there at the time and recognised Captain Magenta. So, weíre hoping that they are still at that address."

"And Grey knew where she had gone, Colonel?" asked Scarlet slightly sceptical.

"Not quite, Captain, it was something that Captain Magenta had discovered. March goes under a number of aliases. We contacted the property agent who leased that house to her under the name Heather March. Going through his records we discovered that only yesterday another lease was taken out under the name Hannie Maart. Itís one of her aliases, Captain; I believe weíve found them. Iíve asked Lieutenant Green to transmit all the details to your Spectrum Saloon Car. The first address will be for the property agent, he has an additional set of keys for you, you can take them completely by surprise."

"Weíre on our way, Sir!" replied Scarlet raising the microphone and turning back towards the car. "Weíve got her!" he called to Blue. " Iíll fill you in on the way!"

 

***

 

"Have they found him yet?" Kurt asked again as Heather replaced the handset of the telephone.

"No," she replied quietly reaching for her cigarettes. It had been the fourth, maybe the fifth time he had asked in the last twenty minutes and she was beginning to wonder when or even if it would end.

"You donít seem at all concerned! Donít you care about Dieter? He was your brother, Elsa!" Kurt screamed at her. The sudden increase in volume made her jump, dropping her cigarettes as she did. Heather rubbed her eyes; he was getting worse. They had to find Grey, they simply had to. Bending down to pick up the dropped packet, she was surprised to find a hand on her wrist, restraining her.

"What?" she breathed as she glanced up to find Kurt gazing intently at her with a look of suspicion fixed in his care worn features.

"Since when did you start smoking?" he asked slowly.

Heather considered her options. There was no way of pretending that she didnít, and had no idea how long Kurt believed it was since he saw her last.

"Recently," she replied. Unable to mask the uncertainty in her voice, it sounded more like a question than a statement.

"I donít want you to smoke," he stated simply.

"I need a cigarette, Kurt, Iím nervous. Iíll give up tomorrow," she pretended to promise.

Outside in the street, Captain Scarlet slipped the key silently into the lock and turned it, easing the door open without a sound.

"I donít want you smoking!" Kurt shouted in reply.

Pulling back, Heather clutched the cigarettes in her hand.

"Iím not asking for your permission, Kurt!" she snapped back, fumbling in the packet. Placing the filter in her mouth, she watched Kurt defiantly as she lit the end.

"Good! Because Iím not giving it! Youíre my sister and youíll do as I say!" Kurt swung the back of his hand across her face. In one stroke, giving her a painful, stinging slap and knocking the cigarette to the floor in a flurry of glowing ash.

About to reply sharply, her eyes fell on Tandyís crumpled body and she held her tongue.

Outside the internal door at the top of the stairs, Blue and Scarlet, their plan formulated, prepared to enter.

"Open up!" Blue shouted loudly. "Tandy? Itís my turn to arrest you!"

"Holden?" Kurtís head spun. Facing the door, he stared with a look of evil glee, determined to take his revenge.

"Open up!" Blue yelled again.

"No! Kurt!" Heather started to warn him, recognising that the voice did not belong to Grey. Kurt disregarded her shouts and Heather found herself swept to the side by strong hands and thrown callously to the floor.

"Heís mine!" Kurt shouted. His expression was intense, no longer hearing or feeling anything other than his own hatred, Kurt stormed to the door. Throwing it open, he fired immediately into the dark-haired man standing in front of him. Watching with satisfaction as he sank slowly and silently to the floor, he didnít notice the blonde man standing to the side, or the gun that he held.

Blue fired two shots and was staggered as neither seemed to register. Briefly, Blue considered the possibility that this man was a Mysteron; but only moments later, the intense adrenalin rush subsided and Kurt Foley with it. Sinking to his knees, he dropped the gun and slumped forward.

Stepping over him, Blue rushed into the room.

"Hold it right there!" Heather yelled at him. "We were going to execute these two at dawn, but I can bring that forward you know! Iím not that fussy!"

Heather stood holding a handful of Magentaís hair with her gun pressed firmly against his head.

"I will do this. Drop your gun and get face down on the ground!" Heather paused, waiting for Blue to comply. "Now!" she screamed.

Neither Magenta nor Ochre wanted Blue to agree; silently they used their eyes, pleading with him to risk it and shoot her. Blue bent his knees slightly as he started to lower the gun. Heather smiled with satisfaction as she turned the gun away from Magenta and pointed it at Blue.

"Good," she nodded.

The next moment had Blue dropping further as a gunshot was heard. Heather cried out in pain and dropped the gun. Blue scooped it up in a single agile movement, pushing Heather back against the wall as he rose once more. Pulling her still bleeding arm behind her back, she was handcuffed, all in a confusing blink of an eye.

Mystified, Heather looked over her shoulder to see a wounded but very much alive red clad Spectrum Captain standing in the doorway. Her brow creased in bewilderment as she tried to understand how he could still be alive after taking three shots at point blank range. It would be something she would never understand.

"Are you guys okay?" asked Blue staring down at Magenta and Ochre.

"I am, Magenta needs attention," replied Ochre. "What about Grey?"

"Heís okay," smiled Blue, to their relief.

 

***

 

Well, there you have it.  Iíve been in here in the brig pretty much since I arrived on Cloudbase.  The only person Iíve been allowed to see was Doctor Fawn.  That was shortly after I was brought back and it was the strangest situation ever.  We werenít supposed to speak other than to discuss medical issues, but he told me a few of the things that had happened.  I could tell he didnít want to, but I begged him; I had to know.  I had been there when the Colonel had told Melody and Rhapsody about Ochre and Magentaís capture by the terrorists.  There was still no news.  All I could think of was how they may well have forfeited their lives to help me.  All for nothing.  There was a lot of tension in the air.  He later got word to me that they were okay and I canít tell you how relieved I was to get that news. 

My armís feeling a whole lot better now since I saw Fawn, but there seems to be a weird sense of irony about it all.  Here I am, locked in here awaiting my court-martial hearing and yes, I know everyone believed me, but really thatís not enough, is it?  Without proof of my innocence, all I have to look forward to is a firing squad.  It really puts the problem with my arm into perspective.

Oh, here we go, Colonel Whiteís arrived.  This has got to be tough on him.  Heís got to sentence me to death at the end of all of this.  I know he did it with Scarlet once, but that was just his version of a joke.  A firing squad is little more than an inconvenience to Scarlet.  But for me? A bad case of Ďlights out, good night!í.

A brave face is all Iíve got left.

 

***

 

Grey got to his feet, respectfully standing to attention as White entered the cell.

"At ease, Grey."

Grey relaxed his stance only slightly, legs apart, hands behind his back, eyes firmly fixed on the wall beyond White.

"Sit down, Brad," White suggested kindly.

"Sir?" Grey queried, surprised at the use of his first name. Lowering his eyes to meet Whiteís gaze, Grey searched his expression for any clue of what was to come. "Is it time?"

Colonel White offered him a sympathetic smile and waved his hand towards Greyís bunk as he pulled up a chair.

"Sit down, Brad," he repeated. "I think youíll need to."

Uncertainly and without averting his stare, Grey took a seat, waiting patiently for the Colonel to continue the sentence he had begun so mysteriously.

"We caught her, Captain. Sheís confessed. We have a lot of additional evidence in support of your case; there wonít be a court-martial. Youíre free to go."

Grey could only stare, unblinking, dumbfounded by the Colonelís words.

"Grey? Did you hear me?" White asked finally.

"Free? She confessed?" Grey sprang up, elated. "How? How did you find her? Ochre and Magenta? Are they okay?"

White rose to his feet. "It was a team effort," he replied, pointedly.

Grey lowered his eyes; he knew there and then he had a lot of apologies to make. His actions had endangered so many of them and he had shown them so little trust; and yet they had stood by him, almost unquestioningly.

"And yes," continued White, "theyíre fine, Magenta has a concussion, but theyíll both be fine in a day or two."

"I donít know how to thank you, Sir," Grey spoke after eventually regaining his composure.

"Donít thank me yet, Grey. Wait until after your disciplinary hearing. If you still feel you want to, Iíll accept it then."

Grey took a deep breath. Whatever punishment he received, he knew he deserved it.

"Yes, Sir," he concluded with a grave nod.

 

***

 

 

Epilogue

 

 

It was almost four days later before Doctor Fawn released Captain Grey from sickbay and it would be at least another week before he would even consider allowing him back on duty. Grey was edgy and not just for the usual reason of wanting to return to his duties. No, today he was being summoned to Cloudbase Control. The order had just arrived. Gathering his thoughts he set off from his quarters. He knew Magenta too would be there. If it hadnít been for all Magentaís hard work, and selfless actions, Grey knew that by now, he would be dead, either by firing squad or at the hands of Freedom by Force. Either way he owed him a huge debt that heíd never be able to repay. They met as they approached Control, only a few feet from the door.

"Iíve been here a while," admitted Magenta pacing across the corridor. "I knew it was coming, I thought Iíd get here early and collect my thoughts."

"And have you?" Grey asked sympathetically.

"No," Magenta gave a small nervous laugh.

"Do you think weíre out?" Grey voiced the concern for both of them.

Magenta grimaced and took a deep breath. "Only one way to find out."

Advised of their arrival, White ordered Lieutenant Green to let them approach. Watching them carefully as they did, White was more than aware of the sense of dread and concern both officers felt. Two seats had been raised at his desk, but as yet he invited neither officer to sit. Watching them carefully, he waited a moment or two before beginning.

"What do you have to say for yourself, Captain Grey?" White scrutinised him over clasped hands.

"Sir, I let you down. I let you all down."

"Is that all you have to say?" White asked keeping his tone even.

"No, Sir. I want to apologise and I will accept without question whatever punishment you see fit to hand down." Grey had his eyes fixed beyond Whiteís searching gaze.

"Thatís very big of you, Captain," White replied abruptly.

"No, Sir," Grey looked at his Commander in Chief. "I didnít meanÖ"

"I know exactly what you meant, Grey! What do you think you were doing, having a secret relationship, again?" White slammed his hand down on the desk and rose to his feet. "Did you not learn enough the first time?" he asked brusquely rounding his desk and approaching Grey.

"Yes, Sir, I meanÖ but it wasnít the same situation."

"Thatís right, Grey! This was far worse! They used you and their knowledge of you. You were very nearly the cause of an accident that conservative estimates say could potentially have killed up to three million people!"

"Yes, Sir, I know. I feel terribleÖ"

"You feel terrible? How terrible, Grey? What should I do with you?"

"Sir, youíll have my resignation on your desk within the hour," Grey replied, his face pale and despondent.

"Sit down!"

As Grey sat with some haste, White turned, almost spinning on his heels.

"Captain Magenta, were your actions much of an improvement?"

"No, Sir. I was in breach of regulations, I allowed a prisoner to go free, Sir," Magenta replied, equally pale.

"So," White approached him, "you know what regulations are, Captain?"

"With respect, Sir, I did what I thought was right at the time. I made a mistake."

"A mistake, which almost cost you your life!" White paused. "And Captain Greyís AND Captain Ochreís!"

"I know, Sir, Iím sorry."

The regret in Magentaís voice was as real as it was obvious. White sighed.

"Sit down, the pair of you," White returned to his seat and stared at his two officers. "I will not let this go, this is too serious. Do you understand?" White continued before they had a chance to reply. "Youíre both on probation for three months. One foot out of line and youíre out of Spectrum! Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Sir," both nodded in unison.

"Good," Whiteís voice sounded calmer now. "Dismissed."

"Sir," Grey began tentatively.

Colonel White looked up. It was clear enough from the expression on his face that he was in no mood for further discussion, but Grey continued regardless.

"The reward for my arrest, has it been paid?"

"Yes it has, Captain."

"The barman?" Grey asked.

"Thatís right," White nodded.

"Sir," Grey pressed, to Whiteís annoyance and Magentaís surprise. "The woman who looked after me, she was trying to clear my name. I promised Iíd pay her."

White considered Greyís words.

"Thatís very noble of you, Captain. Itís a considerable sum, I suggest that you and Captain Magenta split the amount between you."

Magenta cast a furious glance in Greyís direction.

"Sir, IÖ" Grey started to speak, only to be interrupted by White.

"Captain Grey, I hope you werenít about to suggest that Spectrum pay another substantial sum of money on your behalf?"

"Er, no, Colonel," Grey lied.

"Good," White suppressed a smile. "Dismissed."

"ColonelÖ" began Magenta; not quite knowing what he intended to say.

"Dismissed, Captains!" Whiteís tone was final.

Rising and turning to leave, Magenta half -turned his head towards Grey, whispering as they left.

"Nice one, Brad!"

Lieutenant Green watched as the pair left the Control Room.

"Sir, thatís a lot of money. Are you really going to make them pay?" he asked in disbelief.

"Weíll see, Lieutenant, weíll see," White replied with a barely audible chuckle.

 

***

 

Back in my quarters, Iíd had plenty of time to reflect on everything that had gone on, not just over the past few days, but the last six months. The Colonel was right, it had been a very carefully orchestrated plan, of which my innate secrecy and need for privacy was an integral part. I was a fool; but the worst part was that they were relying on that and I delivered. They knew me, my background, my interests, even my taste in women. And you know? After everything thatís happened, I still miss her. At least I would if I could decide whether itís really Heather that I miss, or still Elsa.

One thing I know is that I really didnít deserve the trust I was shown by everyone; but at least I have the chance to make amends. Iím going to take it and open up to them; let them in to my private world and hope they stay.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I have a book on the Rijksmuseum, where I met Heather. Iíve just been glancing through it, and I found a picture of the very painting I was admiring when she approached me. Itís a still life by Willem Claesz Heda and it truly is a stunning work of art. If you do get the chance, I recommend you see it. ButÖ nothing more!

 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.

 

 

 

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