“Dr. McKay, these results. Its not possible,” remarked the young man, reading the results from the computer monitor.
“What’s the problem, Gillis?” McKay looked to check the results. A slow smile crept over his face. “Bradford, you better look at this.”
The third man joined them and examined the data on the screen.
“I think you’ve done it Andrew,” said Dr. Charles Bradford, grinning.
“Hopefully, Charles. Now we start serious testing,” said Dr. Andrew McKay.
“All tests are verified, Doctors. There’s no problems whatsoever and your ‘patients’ are almost cured,” grinned Gillis at the two doctors before him.
The men chuckled slightly, and then went to plan their next move. Their assistant checked the treated rats once more, and then checked the control group.
None of the three saw or heard the man that entered the lab they were in. He was dressed in black. His skin had a sallow appearance to it and his eyes had a sunken quality to them. Walking up behind Gillis, he grabbed him and snapped his neck. Gillis’ corpse dropped bonelessly to the floor. A moment later, green lights drifted over the body and Gillis stood in front of the now renegade Captain Black. Neither said a word, but a smile broke Captain Blacks face. It wasn’t a pleasant smile.
* * *
“Paul, I build models, I don’t make picture frames,” said Captain Ochre.
“I know. Look, it’s for a relative of mine. I don’t want a massed produced one. I want one that’s special. It’s for her birthday,” said Paul Metcalfe, aka Captain Scarlet. “She flies, and I’d like one that reflects that skill.”
“What does she fly?”
“Copters, but she’s fond of two historical planes.”
“Which ones?” Ochre asked, now curious.
“The Arrow and the Harrier,” said the civilian dressed Captain. “I spent the last day looking for a frame but there was nothing that I liked. There’s nothing really suitable out there.”
“Why the Arrow?”
“She and a friend were having discussions on it. They always argued about how it could have been made better,” Captain Scarlet explained.
“Let’s see the picture,” Captain Ochre sighed. He wondered if he was going to regret this.
They went to Scarlet’s quarters and he pulled the picture from out of an envelope on his desk.
“Oh ho, so that’s where you and the Colonel went. Who are the other two?”
“Her grandfather, Lord Robert Gray, Earl of Warbrook. He and the Colonel are longtime friends. They served together on the Drake. The other is my uncle Malcolm, her step-grandfather,” he explained, pointing out the two men.
The picture showed four men surrounding a camouflaged soldier. The only thing out of place was the grin showing white teeth against the shades of green and brown on the skin.
“So what did this guy do?”
“She, beat a couple other commandos for top spot”, Scarlet chuckled.
“Is your whole family like her?”
“No. She’s not really family either. She’s only related to me by marriage. Her mom married my cousin Terry,” he stated.
“Terry, as in the Major in charge of Spectrum Security on Cloudbase?”
“So what does the camo commander look like out of this getup?”
“Why? You interested?” Captain Scarlet joked.
“I just want to see what this female version of you looks like,” said Captain Ochre.
“I think I’ve been insulted”, Captain Scarlet remarked.
He reached for another picture and handed it to Ochre.
“That was at the party that night.”
Ochre could only nod wordlessly. Standing between Colonel White and the man before him, wearing full dress uniform, was Charlie. He couldn’t believe it.
“Very pretty,” he said finally. “Her birthday you said.”
“Yeah, it’s coming up.”
“March 6th,” Captain Ochre said, without thinking.
“How did you know?” asked Captain Scarlet.
“Your calendar. Big circle on that day and says ‘Cijay’. I’m assuming that’s her name,” he replied. He’d almost put his foot in his mouth that time, he thought. “So where is she stationed?”
“Cold Lake, Alberta. Why?”
“Some woods warp under certain weather conditions. You want this to last I would imagine,” Captain Ochre said, Scarlet nodding in response to his question. Good. Still there, he thought.
“You’ll mean you’ll do it?”
“Sure, why not,” Ochre grinned. He already had an idea of how to design it.
“I owe you for this one. Thanks Rick,” said Captain Scarlet.
“No problem. Mind if I take this to help in its design?” Captain Ochre inquired. I owe you buddy, and you have no idea how much, he thought.
“Go ahead. Can you make it in time?”
“With luck, sure,” Ochre replied.
“This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. We will use your remedies and turn them against you.”
“Better change,” said Ochre and he left to drop off the picture in his room and go to join the others in Command.
Captain Scarlet changed and they met up in Command Central.
“I’m sure you all realize how serious this is,” Colonel White remarked. “We know that the Mysterons can tamper with anything. To tamper with medicines means they have somehow gained access to the manufacturing areas. All pharmaceutical companies are cooperating and there are four that are bringing out important medicines within the next week. Captain Magenta, you’ll be going to the States to meet with the people at Mallard Pharmaceuticals. Captain Grey, you’ll go to France to meet with the people at Dupry. Captain Scarlet, you and Captain Ochre are bound for Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, to meet with the people from McKay and Emerson Pharmaceuticals. I hope one of you can stop this. The results if we fail could be disastrous.”
They all headed out to their destinations.
“Where do you want to go?” Captain Scarlet asked Captain Ochre.
“I’ll take Emerson, but I’ll be around for backup if you need me,” he replied.
“Fair enough,” said Captain Scarlet.
The jet landed and both Captains requisitioned saloons. Captain Scarlet heading for Sydney and McKay, while Captain Ochre went to Melbourne and Emerson.
He was approaching Melbourne’s city limits when a group of bikers passed him. All were dressed alike, save one. He wore a khaki green vest.
“Damn bikers,” Ochre swore. Things never changed. Didn’t matter where you were. There were always a few of them.
The green vested biker glanced back several times, then flipped him the bird.
“Feelings mutual I suppose”, he chuckled as the bikers sped off, and the green vested one popping a wheelie.
Captain Ochre headed to his meeting, taking a detector with him. Checking everyone took time, but all were human. Samples of the new medications were to be forwarded to Dr. Fawn for testing and if need be, all medications already made would be destroyed.
In Sydney, Captain Scarlet wasn’t having as smooth of a time. The head of McKay was showing him all the new medicines and gave him some samples. While they were talking, a young man interrupted them.
“Dr. McKay, have you seen Dad around? I need to speak with him.”
“I’m sorry Chas, I don’t know where Charles is. Isn’t he at home?” asked McKay.
“No he’s not. I’ve already looked there.”
Captain Scarlet observed as the young man’s eyes narrowed suddenly, as if he’d seen something not to his liking.
“Then maybe he went to visit your mother. Melbourne isn’t that far away and tomorrow is their anniversary,” said McKay.
“Possible, but we always go together though,” said Chas.
“Did he know you were coming?”
“No, not this time,” replied the younger man. “This is a last minute thing.”
“There you are then. In all probability he’s there,” said McKay.
The young man left, Scarlet watching as he walked down the hall.
“Who’s he?” asked Captain Scarlet.
“Chas Bradford, Charles’ son. His father is my partner in the creation of this medicine,” said McKay.
“What does it do?” Scarlet inquired.
“It’s a cancer treatment, Captain. Swellings are diminished dramatically; problems in the lymph nodes become non-existent within a week. It was a very serendipitous discovery,” answered McKay.
“And it will be heading into the market next week?” Scarlet inquired.
“Yes. Only if our samples pass your peoples scrutiny, of course,” said McKay.
Abruptly Captain Scarlet felt dizzy. He saw McKay watching him.
“Are you all right Captain?” McKay inquired.
“Fine,” he replied.
“Come, I’ll show you where we are producing the medication,” said McKay.
They headed into a corridor and then entered an observation room. Beneath them, machinery was creating the tablets. At one of the stations, stood a man in a lab coat. He was looking at some charts on a clipboard. Glancing upward, Captain Scarlet saw similar features to the young man from earlier.
“Is that Dr. Bradford?”
“Yes it is,” McKay replied.
“I thought you didn’t know where he was.”
“I didn’t. This isn’t the only route into this area. There are several other ways,” said McKay.
Captain Scarlet felt on edge. The next second he found himself flying through the glass window and falling. He landed on the floor with McKay on top of him. He fought back as best he could, one leg decidedly broken. He dealt McKay a blow that sent him reeling backwards, giving him the chance to roll out of the way. McKay hit a circuit box and shorted it out, so the machinery stopped. Scarlet quickly pulled his gun and fired. McKay fell to the floor. Bradford was on him just as swiftly, attempting to strangle him. Captain Scarlet reached back and succeeded in getting some leverage, thus breaking Bradford’s hold on him, but breaking the mans neck in the process. He sat for a moment, getting his breath back, then checked the bodies. Bradford had nothing on him. McKay had several things that proved of interest. One item was a receipt for rental of a warehouse in Melbourne, a key, possibly for the place itself, and another receipt for the rental of a truck. He grabbed his cap and put it on, the mike falling into position. Captain Scarlet informed Captain Ochre of the find and gave him the address to the place. Then he notified Colonel White and informed him of events. The Colonel dispatched security people to the company.
Terry Metcalfe found him leaning against some machinery when he arrived half an hour later.
“Almost right as rain. I bet they were stockpiling the altered formula and stashing it in Melbourne. I have no doubt the stuff they gave me is the normal formula to make sure it passed. Did you get an address on Bradford’s son?”
“Yeah, Tucson. He’s a flight surgeon with the WAAF,” Terry told him. “This won’t be good news for him. We tried to get hold of him, no answer.”
“Captain Ochre should be in position at the warehouse. He’ll hold off doing anything ‘til we get there to back him up,” said Captain Scarlet.
At the warehouse, Captain Ochre watched for any sign of movement. He was just getting out of his car, when a bike shot past him, coming from the warehouse. He jumped back in, slamming the saloon door, and followed in pursuit. The bike wove in and out of traffic, Ochre following as best he could. Several times, the biker turned corners, skidding around them and Ochre was surprised the biker didn’t hit something, or someone, much less fall the way he was driving. The biker constantly kept looking back at him.
As he pursued, he realized it was the biker that had given him the finger near Melbourne. He wanted answers now.
He followed him down a street, and a huge semi moved into the roadway. The biker leaned left and went down onto the ground in a skid, then rolled onto his back, following the bike under the trailer. Captain Ochre hit the brakes, swearing. He could only watch as the biker got up, quickly climbed onto his bike, and sped off. He returned to the warehouse and got a rude surprise. There was a door standing open. He realized he’d followed a decoy and kicked himself mentally. He should have guessed.
Entering the building slowly and with gun drawn, he looked around. There were three dead bodies in the middle of the vast space. Checking them, he realized they had been dead for some time. Examining his surroundings, he noticed a burn patch on the floor nearby. Touching the floor, he found it was still warm. Looking further he was about to enter an office when a glint of something caught his eye. Looking at it, he went to pick it up. Someone had lost some jewelry. Kneeling to examine it, he groaned. He knew this ring. It was Charlie’s engagement ring. He swallowed, feeling sick to his stomach.
“Oh God, Charlie. What have you gotten yourself into?” he whispered.
He closed the ring in his hand and shook his head. Standing, he pocketed the ring as Captain Scarlet and Terry entered. Scarlet was walking with a slight limp.
“Anything?” The red-clad Captain inquired.
“I don’t know. They lured me away with a decoy. I just got back a couple minutes ago. I do know there were seven of them though,” Ochre stated.
“How can you be sure of that?”
“Because they passed me earlier on the way here,” he replied grimly. Which one had been Charlie, he wondered. “I didn’t know it was them at the time. I did recognize the one that lured me away.”
They went to where one of Terry’s security people had located a large quantity of boxes. Examining the contents, they found large bottles of the pills and verified the companies brand name against notes Captain Scarlet had on the substance. The large quantities set aside had them aghast at the possible harm that would have been inflicted on an unsuspecting public. Samples were extracted from each box, the rest taken by secure vehicle to high security storage in a Spectrum facility.
“This could have really caused some appalling predicaments,” said Captain Scarlet.
“Think we should watch to see if anyone else knows about this?” asked Captain Ochre.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Captain Scarlet.
* * *
They took turns alternating duties, and two days later, they saw a bike appear, stopping at another building nearby. The rider took off a black helmet and set it on the seat of the bike. A car pulled up almost right behind the rider and an older man exited the car, calling to the rider. The biker responded to the older man’s call with a wave and a smile. Both Captains watched as the man opened a large door. The older man placed his arm over the shoulder of the rider. The rider placed an arm around the man’s waist. The duo then entered the warehouse. A dark silhouette became apparent.
“What the hell is that?” asked Captain Scarlet.
“A plane, but nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before,” Ochre replied. No, he had seen something like it before, but he could not remember where, or when.
“Is that one of your bikers?”
“Can’t tell, he’s wearing a jacket,” said Captain Ochre, checking with binoculars. He blinked. WGPC? They didn’t provide security.
They observed as the biker removed the jacket and then pulled off charcoal coveralls. They could now discern the rider was female, wearing shorts and a khaki t-shirt. They scrutinized her as she activated a computer near the plane. Standing over the console, she watched as the computer began a systems check. Looking around, she glanced up and moved to a rope that was hanging down in the middle of the building, and then tugged on it. She made a comment to the man. The older man looked up and laughed. The female went to the bike and pulled out a weapon, causing both Captains to wonder what was going on. She cocked it and returned to the rope raised the weapon upwards and fired. They heard a faint yelp. Both Captains were bewildered at this point until they saw someone descending on the rope.
“If he is, he was asleep,” Captain Scarlet chuckled.
“Let’s see,” replied Captain Scarlet, taking the binoculars from Ochre.
He put the binoculars to his eyes and looked. The guy was military alright and armed to the teeth. He was having words with the woman. From the angle he was looking at him, Scarlet thought it might be Bradford. Scarlet now took a closer look at the female and groaned. It was Cijay; there was no doubt about it. She spoke further with the soldier and frowned to something he said, and then nodded. She raised a wrist close to her face and seemed to be in communication with someone. Captain Scarlet recalled the wrist links that he’d used when he was in special forces and wondered if this was the case.
“How did your biker slide under the trailer?”
“Left side, then on the back why?” asked Ochre.
Captain Scarlet looked at the bike. The left side looked scraped.
“There’s your decoy,” he sighed, handing the binoculars back to Captain Ochre.
Ochre looked and groaned. He didn’t believe this. He couldn’t.
“Yeah,” said a very disgruntled Captain.
Captain Ochre didn’t know what to say. It had been Charlie that had given him the finger. Part of him wanted to laugh. Part of him wanted to wring her pretty neck.
“What now?” he finally asked.
“Take her in for questioning,” said Captain Scarlet. He knew this had to be a proper investigation. Forget family. Something peculiar was going on.
Just then, their cap mikes swung into position.
“Captains, please return to Cloudbase immediately,” came Lieutenant Greens voice.
“S.I.G.,” they both replied.
They returned to the private field that Spectrum maintained and boarded their jet to return. The flight didn’t take long and they joined the other Captains in the conference room. Colonel White nodded as they entered.
“Something of a mystery occurred with the warehouse,” Colonel White stated. “I received a packet today that I believe has solved it. Captain Magenta has been examining several disks and between Dr. Fawn and himself, they have determined where the drug was tampered with. Copies of reports in the packet detail what was done, and why. Anonymous reports that were included in the packet agree with the tape also included. Some sequences of the tape were rather fascinating in themselves.”
The tape activated and the three bodies were immediately visible. The bikers Captain Ochre had seen were observed entering, still in helmets, weapons drawn in precaution for violence, swinging back and forth warily, in what Scarlet considered proper special forces form. The green-vested biker held a gun at the ready, looking around and very alert. Since all faces were concealed, they couldn’t tell who was talking.
“Spread out and check every inch.”
Men scattered everywhere, moving slowly and methodically, weapons constantly at the ready. One of the bikers went to the bodies and knelt checking for vitals.
“Skip, they’ve been here for a couple days.”
The vested biker knelt to check the faces. He held one face a bit longer than the other.
“Chas is not going to like this. Make sure you’ve got something for him in case he needs it okay?
“I’ll have it for him.”
“Any ideas on how they died?”
“No, not without an autopsy .”
“Skip!” there was something desperate in the new voice.
He rose to his feet, gun at the ready. Several camera links showed various rooms and in one, two of the team found there was someone else in the building with them, Captain Black. He stood, gun in hand, ready to fire. One of the team attacked. Captain Black backhanded him, and the man was flung against a wall and an audible snap was heard. Several Captains flinched as the man slid to the floor. Swearing was heard from the tape when they suddenly saw the dead man standing beside Captain Black. The Captains could tell the men were visibly shaken. The vested biker shook his head suddenly. His hand came up in a cautionary posture.
“That’s not human!”
Captain Black moved backward suddenly, observing, his face showing curiosity, and amazement at the statement. The angle of the camera showed he was watching the vested biker with interest. The other bikers were swearing more.
Several of them attempted to take on their former companion and were injured. Others tried, but they too met the same problem.
“Stop. It knows your moves too well! Stand down. I’ll have to take it down.”
They watched as the vested biker approached, placing the weapon under the vest in a concealed holster, and then getting his guard up. The two began to fight. The Mysteron advanced on the new opponent. Captain Scarlet could see he was testing to find a way to harm this new opponent. The vested biker feinted with a right hook but pulled a leg sweep instead and the Mysteron fell to the floor. He jumped back to his feet. The ‘twin’ attacked quickly, hands and fists moving almost hypnotically to catch the other off guard. His opponent countered his moves easily. The Mysteron rushed him and he received an elbow in the back, sending him to the floor. ‘Skip’ caught him with several rapid-fire punches to the midsection and one to the nose, as he stood up. The Mysteron was finally looking the worse for wear. Another sudden fist aimed toward the neck sent the Mysteron to the floor. ‘Skip’ moved with lightening speed and twisted his neck, breaking it. He then turned to face Black. The latter faded away, his masters pulling him out. ‘Skip’ took a step back, obviously startled. Captain Blue flinched.
“All right Skip,” someone said.
“Geez. It’s glowing.”
This confused the Captains as they couldn’t see any change.
‘Skip’ now knelt beside the body, getting closer to look at something. Whatever he could see, he was observing it intently. He suddenly shook his head.
Captain Scarlet didn’t notice Colonel White watching him or Captain Ochre.
“Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s dead. Torch it. Be damned if I’m leaving something like that running around. We’ll take Skimmer back with us. Tsar, get that stuff and lets get out of here! I think we were set up.”
“On it Skip.”
One of the bikers activated a flare and tossed it onto the body of the fallen Mysteron, causing it to burst into flame almost immediately.
“Skip, we’ve got company!”
“What kind?” he asked looking in the direction of the door.
“Talk about rotten, bloody timing!” they all heard the frustration in the commander’s voice. “I’ll draw him off. You get the stuff we need and get out of here. I don’t know how long I can keep him interested. At most you’ll have ten, maybe fifteen minutes. We meet at the appointed spot, got me? Someone’s going to have to answer for this mess. Be damned if its going to be me”, he glanced around and left the screen. They could hear the bike as it revved up. The tape stopped shortly afterward.
“I believe that was you, Captain Ochre.”
“It would seem so sir,” he agreed.
“Well, whoever they are, they’re vicious”, said Captain Blue.
“Yes, and unfortunately for us they now know what a Mysteron is,” said Colonel White.
“Could that have been a Beret team, sir?” asked Captain Grey.
“Possible. Whatever team it is, that’s a new commander,” said Colonel White.
“How so, sir?” asked Captain Magenta.
“The Mysteron knew all the others’ moves but not his. Those men deferred to him. I believe that’s their Commander. Recently appointed I would imagine,” said Colonel White
“Colonel, how did he know it wasn’t human? And what was that about it glowing?” asked Dr. Fawn.
“I‘ve no idea Doctor. It will prove interesting to find out. We have to locate that team,” said Colonel White. “To your stations, please, Captains.”
Captain Scarlet lagged behind to talk to Colonel White.
“Is there something wrong Captain?” Colonel White inquired.
“I know the identity of one of the bikers,” he said quietly.
“And?” asked Colonel White.
“Cijay,” he said, distressed. “We saw proof that she is involved with that team.”
“Captain Ochre and myself. Just before we were recalled, she arrived at another building near where the tampered drugs had been. The bike was scraped on one side, consistent with the way the rider had gone under the semi and after determining that, we were able to determine she had been the decoy,” said Scarlet. “Their ‘new commander’.”
Colonel White looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded.
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Captain. I’ll look into it further,” he said, simply.
Captain Scarlet nodded and left. He wondered why the Colonel didn’t seem too concerned over this news.
* * *
Captain Ochre was off that shift, so he went to his quarters and started on the frame for Captain Scarlet. He started working on the parts for the frame, making each section carefully. Wings, fuselage, engine, and other parts fit together. At the top on either side he placed a tail, one having an ‘X’ on it, the other without the marking.
Over the next few days, when he got the time, he added parts of the engines and finally connected the pieces with special glue he’d gotten. Once it was done, he took it to Captain Scarlet.
“This is great Rick, thanks. She’ll love it,” said Scarlet.
“I hope so,” he chuckled. He was praying she realize it was an Arrow and who had made it.
“Skip, a package arrived for you. I’m assuming it just caught up with you from Cold Lake,” said Major Chris ‘Gander’ Linnegar, handing her the package.
“Thanks, Chris. Probably a late birthday present,” she said taking the package, turning it over and examining it. “Did the guys scope it?”
“Yep, nothing to go boom,” he chuckled. “Doesn’t look dangerous either.”
She laughed. “That’s a switch,” she said. “Any ideas?”
“They had a couple. Open it,” he replied, grinning.
She chuckled and opened the package. Under the brown wrapping paper was a birthday present wrapped in paper having little fuzzy kittens on it. She shook her head, laughing quietly. Juvenile, really juvenile. Opening the card she read, “Dear Cij, hope you have a great birthday. Was trying to find hellcat wrapping paper and couldn’t so this will have to do. Love, Paul.”
She laughed at the remark and looked at the front of the card again. More cats. She was starting to wonder if he was a secret cat fancier. He and Pockets didn’t seem to like one another though, but then cats could be picky. Pockets certainly was, but then the fat little calico was nuts to begin with. She put the card on her desk and opened up the package.
“Oh man,” she whispered, as she took out the picture in its frame.
She grinned as she looked it over, and then realizing what she was looking at, gave a chuckle of delight. The pieces that were used were all components of the Arrow and she shook her head, charmed at the effort. She ran her fingers over each piece, knowing whoever had made it had put his heart into it. Seeing the tails, she pulled a caliper from her desk and checked the dimensions. The one that was marked was slightly smaller than the unmarked one. Her eyes went wide and she grinned. She ran her finger over the frame, admiring the craftsmanship, but then she knew the artist.
“So Commander, you’ve been hiding on Cloudbase have you? Come on Rick, you know it’s the unmarked tail that belongs on the Arrow. You’re always trying to get the last word in,” she commented to herself.
She ran her fingers over the parts of the frame once more, new meaning coming from the present and then placed it on her desk. Heck, the day had just improved rather rapidly, she thought. Grinning, she reached for her paintball gun and stood up. Near the door, a sleek silver and black Norwegian elkhound raised her head looking at her owner.
“Come on, Kinz, let’s go shoot the guys. They need to be on their toes don’t you think,” she chuckled, cocking the gun. The elkhound barked and they left the office.
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