Swags of tinsel hung along the corridor that connected the Angels’ living quarters to the Amber Room, with an occasional piece crossing from one side to the other. Someone had even positioned fake candles and holders – with even more Christmas decorations hanging from them – at even intervals down the corridor, making it look very festive.
As she headed to the Amber Room for the start of her first shift on standby duty, Harmony appreciated the display. This time of the year was looked forward to by all the staff of Cloudbase; even by those who – like her – didn’t have it as part of their traditions. Almost all of the personnel areas of Cloudbase had some form of decoration, making the base look wonderful and it lifted the spirits of everyone. At least, it usually did, but this year the Angels were not in the mood to celebrate because of something that happened around the beginning of October… an incident that really changed things, caused by something small but significant, much like the ant hole that collapsed an embankment in the old Japanese saying...
The Mysterons had issued one of their typical threats and – not surprisingly – Cloudbase’s colour-coded captains had swung into action. Needless to say they managed to stop the Mysterons, but not before the five of them had become infected with a virus. A very deadly virus, one that had no cure. But somehow, Doctor Fawn did manage to come up with one.
Of course, Scarlet came out unscathed from the whole situation, since the ability that the Mysterons had left him with after their first encounter meant that he would heal on his own with a little time.
Unfortunately for Captains Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre, it was another matter. The side-effects of the cure ended up being quite debilitating, which meant that they would need a fair bit of time to recover.
It had been an anxious time, waiting to see if the cure Doctor Fawn found would not only work, but how it would affect them and if, with the time and effort, they could regain their health. It had been a long and hard endeavour for them and it was still ongoing. In fact, they were not even on Cloudbase at the moment, having been sent away to Caesar – a World Army Air Force Advanced Training Area – to continue building up their fitness and wouldn’t be on the base for Christmas Day, or for some time after.
Which was why most of the Angels were feeling down. All the usual festivities had not been the same without the captains around. Oh there were others, new captains, that had been seconded to Cloudbase to fill in they were too new and simply did not share the same strong connection and deep trust the girls had built with Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre.
‘I know that Dianne was grateful that she got to celebrate Paul’s birthday with him and she has been trying to keep Karen from brooding too much. Thank goodness for the stability Paul gives us. At least we know that one thing that’s not likely to change,’ she thought as she passed the entrance to Rhapsody’s quarters before being almost knocked over when its occupant stormed out of it.
A look of dismay crossed Rhapsody’s face as she stopped and turned, realizing what she had almost done. Surprised, Harmony regarded her fellow Angel, wondering what it was that had irritated her.
“Oh! Harmony, my apologies for almost running into you,” Rhapsody said as she raised her hands to her face.
Harmony’s head and shoulders inclined slightly. “It is of no consequence. No harm was done.” Delicately, she asked, “May I enquire in what might it be that has annoyed you?”
With a gesture of exasperation Rhapsody answered, “Paul has just informed me that Colonel White is sending him off base in a couple of days. This means that he isn’t going to be here for Christmas Day either! And I had something nice planned.” She planted her fists on her hips angrily. “With the orders that he’s already given, I have to wonder if the colonel is really meaning to upset our Christmas!”
“I am sure that, that could not be the case Dianne. The colonel has shown in the past that he cares, with great concern, for our welfare.”
“That might be the case Harmony, but right now I just feel very put out and need to let off some steam. Which is why I was heading to the gym. However that’s no excuse for me to have nearly collided with you, sorry.”
“As I have said, all is well. Do not be concerned, you have not upset me.”
“Okay.” Knowing the schedules, Rhapsody added. “I better let you go. Season’s blessings to you and have a good shift.”
“I will.” With a slight smile on an otherwise straight face, Harmony enjoined, “Don’t be too rough with the punching bag. There are others who like to use it too.”
Rhapsody feigned a look of shock. “Harmony!” she retorted. “I’ll keep that in mind and try to leave it hanging,” she added with a small giggle, before turning and walking towards the gym.
Harmony watched for a bit before she headed to the Amber Room, thinking about the encounter and the other reactions her fellow Angels had shown. Things were not as balanced as they should be. Her colleagues – no, her friends – were exhibiting too much negativity and that was not good for them. Could there be something she could do to help change it? Thinking hard, she entered their standby lounge.
A beautiful Christmas tree greeted her, standing, as always, in the middle of the room where the table usually was. It was dressed in gold, silver, navy, red and crimson. A masterpiece of shimmering colours – and as usual, it had been the first item of seasonal cheer to be put up and decorated. Both the Angels and the captains had worked on it.
‘Usually when I’m on duty in Angel One,’ Harmony thought. ‘Not that I mind. It’s nice to be able to give the others some time together and it’s always lovely to see the tree complete without knowing what it will look like from the start.’
A small sigh escaped her lips at the sight of the rest of the room. There were just over three days left before Christmas Day and yet, the arranging of the other decorations still had not been finished. All in all, Harmony was not surprised for - not that they would ever admit to it - the other Angels weren’t really happy about having to do it with the new captains. It reminded them of what had happened at Halloween, not to mention the fact that they missed Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre. Symphony was feeling particularly miserable at being separated from Blue...
Actually it was the sight of Symphony working with Captain Ash, trying to hang a garland of two-toned tinsel – a lovely combo of red and gold – that caused Harmony to sigh. Ash was trying to put it up, but it seemed that Symphony kept on changing her mind on where it should go. Poor Ash. Harmony could see that both of them were getting frustrated. Likewise, the same seemed to be happening with Melody as she struggled to untangle some fairy lights with Captain Sepia. ‘It seems I have arrived just in time to avoid a disaster,’ the Chinese pilot thought.
She walked over to where Symphony was standing – facing the amber-coloured panels that separated the Angels boarding lifts from the lounge – directing Ash as he attempted to follow her instructions.
As Harmony came to stand beside Symphony, she touched her friend’s arm gently to get her attention. “You can leave now if you want Symphony. I am quite happy to take over instructing Captain Ash where things will look their best,” she said.
Slightly startled, Symphony looked from Harmony to Ash and back again. Then, she nodded and replied, “Thanks Harmony. I’ve been wanting to check on something in my room. Then, I think I’ll see what Dianne is doing.”
“She was heading for the gym when I saw her.”
“Thanks for the info.” Symphony looked up at Ash. “Thank you for your help Captain. I know that you will find Harmony easier to work with. She has a sense of flair and decorum that I never will.”
“It’s been interesting working with you Symphony,” Ash answered. “It’s been an informative time,” He added with a big smile. “I only hope that I’ve been a good enough boy so Father Christmas will leave me a present.” His smile got bigger. “Or maybe one of his lovely Angels.”
“Hah!” was Symphony’s dismissive reply before she turned, said her farewells to Melody and Sepia and went out the door.
“Man, she’s touchy,” Ash said as she left.
“That she might be Captain, but please don’t annoy her. We’re the ones who have to spend time with her,” Melody said, glaring back at him.
Having returned to the floor, Ash spread his arms in surrender, saying, “Okay! I don’t want to get on the bad side of any of you Angels.”
“No, you don’t.” Melody turned to look at Sepia. “I hope you’re taking notes Captain. It isn’t wise to annoy us.”
“That, I have worked out Melody,” answered Sepia, who up until then had wisely been silent since Harmony had arrived. “I’ll try not to in the future.”
“Good.” Melody redirected her attention back to Ash and Harmony. “Harmony, can you please give us a hand here? We just can’t seem to get things together this year.” She motioned around the Amber Room. “I mean look that this, what a mess!"
“You have done a great job with the tree. It looks magnificent,” Harmony commented in a placatory manner.
“Yeah… Well that was mostly done by Dianne and Paul. They figured out the colour scheme and where things should go. It’s the rest that we’re having fun with.”
“It will be my joy to help you,” the Chinese pilot assured her friend, and for the next couple of hours, she put to use the skills, knowledge and creativity that the Angels and fellow officers had come to respect.
Once they were done, the Amber Room was a riot of glorious harmonizing colours as each colour from the tree flowed in and out of each other in the tinsel: gold and red, red and crimson, crimson and sliver, sliver and navy, navy and gold. The overall effect was completed with touches of green coming from the holly and mistletoe that now adorned the room, not to mention the other ornaments, garlands, and embellishments that added to the colour scheme from the tree.
Harmony and Melody looked at each other, well pleased with the result; they were now on their own as Captains Ash and Sepia had to leave to start their stints of duty.
“Now this is what I would call fantastic! Thanks for your help Harmony,” Melody said as she sat down with a sigh. “You know, the last hour or so have been great. I actually managed to forget that the guys aren’t here this Christmas.”
“I understand and their absence is unsettling. Yet, in time, they will be back.”
“I know, but what if things have changed? Will they still be the same? And it’s a real shame that they won’t get to see this,” Melody gestured at their work.
“The future is unknown, Melody and anxiety is not a good burden to bear. One is always needing to hunt for the worthy and uplifting in what one experiences.” Sitting beside Melody, Harmony laid a hand on her friends’s arm, smiling sympathetically. “I know that it can be difficult, not even Zen masters manage it all the time, but is it not something worth working at?” She also gazed around the room, “As for Captains Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre not getting to see this, why don’t we send some pictures to them? We always make a record of the decorations. I’m sure the colonel would allow us to send them copies.”
“Would it be fair? I mean, what if they don’t end up celebrating Christmas because they’re supposed to be concentrating on getting fit?”
“Christmas is special to the colonel as well. Surely he would have something planned for the captains.”
“Oh I don’t know. The fact that he sent them away at this time of the year makes me wonder. You know he’s a martinet when he wants to be.”
Hearing those words reminded Harmony of the negative feelings that were plaguing the Angels. Something needed to change... but how to do it?
“Might we be misinterpreting the colonel’s actions? He has shown that he cares for us in the past.”
“True, but right now, I’m too unsettled to know what to think and as we have finished putting up the glitz and glamour, I think I had better look over some reports I have to review,” Melody stated as she stood and headed for the computers.
That left Harmony a chance to consider the thoughts she had about her colleagues and the need to combat the negativity. Moving to the computers as well, she started to do some research.
She had timed things well, managing to finish her investigating and complete her notes before the Amber Room became a hive of activity. It was time for the shift change. Rhapsody and Symphony re-entered the room together after having had their four hours off and greeted their team mates. Harmony returned the greeting and, gathering her notes, moved towards the boarding lifts to be ready to take over from Destiny on Angel One duty.
It was not long before Destiny arrived in one of the lifts. “Ahhh, I am glad that that is over,” Destiny said as she stretched, stood, and then moved into the room. “Bonjour everyone.” Turning, she looked at Harmony and added, “The evening is magnifique, Harmony. You should be in for a nice night.”
Harmony returned Destiny’s salutation as she settled in the other lift, to head up to Angel One and just before the door slid closed, she heard Destiny say to Rhapsody.
“Don’t forget you owe me half an hour of Angel One duty.”
Then she was swiftly transported up to Angel One.
Her shift in Angel One allowed her to think and plan and by the time it was over, she had decided on what she was going to do. On returning to the Amber Room, she crossed paths with Symphony as the blond Angel took over the manning of Angel One. Harmony moved to one of the sofas and sat down, placing her helmet on a table as she did so, before greeting Destiny who was going to be sharing the standby stint with her.
After catching up with what had happened in the last four hours, she made a courteous apology and went back to the computers. There, she checked her notes and the time, and was pleased to see that there was time for some of the things that she wanted to buy to make their way onto the next supply shuttle. She did hope that Colonel White would allow her to do what she wanted to do. But if he didn’t, she could still use what she bought herself. Opening the necessary web sites, she placed her orders. She sat back, feeling pleased.
‘It should be a good night. I hope that it will do what I want and lift my friends' spirits. One can only try,’ she thought.
The rest of her long shift had been routine, giving her more time to think and plan her surprise. Once it was over, Harmony undertook a session in the Room of Sleep before spending the time before her next stand-by shift in the gym.
Returning to the Amber Room, she greeted Rhapsody who was just beginning her long mixed shift.
“You and Melody have done a wonderful job with the decorations. The room looks amazing,” Rhapsody said.
Harmony inclined her head in acknowledgement. “It was a pleasing task to fill in the time.”
“I just don’t know where you get your creativeness from. I think you could make anything look amazing.”
Feeling slightly uncomfortable because of Rhapsody's admiration, she replied, “It is only something that I have learnt as I was gowning up and you did a wonderful job on the tree, Rhapsody.” Then, with a small smile she added, “Please excuse me, there is something I need to do,” as she moved towards the computers.
“Thank you for the compliment Harmony,” replied Rhapsody.
After sitting down, Harmony logged onto a computer and submitted a request to meet with Colonel White when she was next off duty. It was not long before the request was acknowledged, then approved. That pleased Harmony to no end and after having a quick check of where her purchases were in the supply chain, she re-joined Rhapsody – who was reading – for the rest of the shift.
Harmony couldn’t help but to feel a bit anxious, her shift on stand-by was over and her appointment to see the colonel was fast approaching. ‘What will he think of my ideas? Will he want me to change some things? Will he even allow me to do it?’ These and other concerns ran through her mind as she made her way to her quarters to freshen up before heading to the Control Room
A triumphant ‘Yes!’ resounded in her head as she left the Control Room. Colonel White had given her the go ahead to do what she wanted to do and had even agreed to allow all the Angels to attend. Somehow, she had the feeling that he was up to something as well and that he had seen her little project as more of an aid than a hindrance.
Now she just hoped that it would work. One of the first things she needed to organize was the food, so with that in mind, she went to visit the kitchen.
Harmony started her next shift feeling quite pleased. It had turn out that some of the chefs were happy to make the dishes she wanted. Now, she just had to wait for the supply shuttle; luckily, it was scheduled to arrive before her next off-duty period. Still, there would be a lot to do in less than four hours considering she would need to fit in another stint in the Room of Sleep.
The shift had been uneventful and Harmony was happy that it was over as she made her way to the quartermaster's to get the items she had ordered moved to her room. Once that had been done, she started to set things up.
She moved some of her furniture to create as big of a space as she could in the middle of her sitting room. Then, she laid down a beautiful rug and some lovely cushions, and organized the other bits and pieces for what was going to happen later that night on small tables.
She surveyed the room and was satisfied with her work; now it was time to send out the invites over the internal messaging system. She knew this would rise some surprise among the Angels, especially as some of them were supposed to be on duty. However, the colonel had sanctioned her get-together, so she guessed that he must have something planned as well. After arranging some flowers and finishing her preparations, she headed back to the Amber Room for her next shift.
As soon as she arrived, she was greeted by Destiny, Melody and Symphony who questioned her about her invitations. With a slight smile, she assured them that they were genuine and that Colonel White had affirmed that they would be able to attend. That got them wondering as to what the colonel was up to. They were still trying to work it out when Rhapsody came down from Angel One and Destiny took over the position.
Rhapsody was also very surprised when she learned of Harmony’s get-together, as she knew that at that time she, along with Symphony, were scheduled to be on stand-by and Harmony was scheduled to be in Angel One. Nevertheless, Harmony confirmed that the colonel had approved the get-together. Delighted about the surprise and looking forward to it, Rhapsody left, along with Symphony. That left Harmony to be questioned by Melody about her plans but the other pilot skilfully evaded her friend's questions and revealed nothing.
Time can seem so flexible, sometimes it goes so fast you blink and it’s gone, then there are times when it seems that rocks will crumble before one second goes by. For Harmony, it had felt like an odd mix of the two as she carried out the previous twelve hours of duty alternating between being on stand-by and in Angel One, while the plans for her get-together ran through her mind. She hoped that her fellow Angels would appreciate the activities she had devised and that the colonel would make good on his promise that they would be able to come.
She was just getting herself ready for her last four hours in Angel One when she and Melody were surprised by three of the terrestrial-based Angels entering the Amber Room and as they did, the voice of Lieutenant Green was heard, ordering Harmony and Melody to the Conference Room. So after a quick greeting of their substitutes, both Angels promptly left.
The first thing they saw was that Rhapsody and Symphony were already there and Colonel White - sitting in his usual place. “Please be seated Angels,” he said as he gave each one a nod of greeting, before turning his attention to the entranceway of the room where, in a very short space of time, Destiny appeared and joined the rest of the Angels sitting before Colonel White.
“Have a seat Destiny,” he said, looking at each of the Angels in turn as she did so. “Angels of Spectrum, some of you may already be aware that I have called up the terrestrial-based Angels to Cloudbase. This is because I need the five of you free for some special assignments over the next few days.” Once more his gaze swept over them as he brought his hands to rest on the desk in front of him. “You will each be fully briefed on your missions just prior to undertaking them.” A small wry smile came to his face as he thought about what he and Doctors Fawn and Weiss had arranged for the Angels and Captains on Christmas Day. He was certain that they would enjoy the surprise. Not to mention the tasks he had for them, transporting special supplies and VIP’s, their families and friends. This unexpected gathering was his present to them, but would only be revealed in due time.
His smile faded as the knowledge of what his captains were going to end up going through on Christmas Eve – because of a certain Spectrum Intelligence agent, resurfaced. The fact that the captains’ security risk assessment was moved forward because Special Agent Martin Conners had kicked up such a fuss about them being sent to a non-Spectrum facility was not something he was happy about at all, but as it was approved by the head of Spectrum Intelligence, there was nothing he could do about it. At least, he knew that with Scarlet and Fawn overseeing things, Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre’s ordeal wouldn’t put them at undue risk. Still the ‘security’ exercise should not have happened until nearer the end of their time away.
The thought of it caused him to once more become serious. “I also need to inform you that none of you will be able to contact Captain’s Blue, Grey, Magenta and Ochre, from now onwards.” He gestured for silence as the Angels expressed their displeasure at his pronouncement. “They have come to a critical point in their time away and it must not be disrupted by outside distractions.” He looked each Angel in the eye, finishing at Symphony.
“Once this period has passed the communications with them will be restored to how they were before. Until then, I know you all will be busy as well.” He gave a firm nod to each of them before adding, “Destiny, after your spell in the Room of Sleep, you are to meet up with the senior pilot of the other Angels to make sure that they are settled and that everything is up to standard.”
He then turned to Melody. “Melody you were to help the flight engineers test an Angel engine before you got called to this meeting, were you not?”
“Then do so until you are not needed anymore.” He moved his focused, “Symphony, for the next three hours you will be working with Lieutenant Slate going over and organizing some pick-up timetables.”
Colonel White then fixed his gaze on Rhapsody. “Procurement and supplies is having a hard time finding some items I have requested. I am sure you would be a great help to them. You are to give your time and energy until seventeen-hundred hours.” Once again he looked at each Angel; “After you have completed your assignments ladies, you are to consider yourselves off-duty until you are called upon” Lastly, he looked at Harmony. “You may have this time to rest and finish what you need to do for tonight. However, I do know that Captain Sepia was hoping to have a judo sparring session with you. Enjoy your time off and what Harmony’s got planed for you tonight, Angels.” He sat back and partly folded his arms. “That is all for now. Dismissed.” And with that he watched as the five Angels left the Conference Room.
Harmony looked once more around the room. The things that she would need for the night were within easy reach, the artfully arranged flowers and her tea utensils were placed where they needed to be. Not that she was going to host a full tea ceremony; it was only going to be a way to get things started.
She went and checked the food; that was all okay. So she went and lit the aroma diffuser, releasing combination of aromas that she hoped that it would help to create the calming but uplifting experience she wanted the others to feel.
Next, she put on some music to play softly in the background, a mix of western and eastern compositions but all were heartening and relaxing, before she checked the time. The others should be arriving very soon. No sooner had she thought that, one of them arrived.
“Meilleurs vœux, Harmony,” was Destiny’s greeting as Harmony opened her door.
“And Season’s greetings to you Destiny. Please enter and make yourself comfortable,” Harmony replied, welcoming Destiny into her quarters.
“I’m intrigued as to what you have planned for tonight,” Destiny commented heading for the cushions that had been placed on the floor.
“Then I hope you will find it enjoyable.”
“Merry Christmas Harmony!” Rhapsody hailed as she stood at the still open door along with Melody.
“The same to you Rhapsody,” she gave a nod of acknowledgement to each of them and added, “and to you Melody. Please enter.”
They joined Destiny on the cushions and began chatting as they waited for Symphony to appear. The remaining Angel soon arrived and once everyone was comfortable, Harmony addressed her friends, “I know that these past few months have been unsettling for each of us and that, I feel, has made it easier for other things to annoy us. So tonight, I have put together some things that I hope you will find inspirational and helpful in bringing to mind some of the things we can all be thankful about.” As she was talking, Harmony laid out her tea accoutrements and started some water boiling. “In both China and Japan, the serving of tea can symbolize and mean many things and sometimes it is served in a very ceremonial form. However, the main intent is to allow people to come together in a peaceful and harmonious way.”
She then carefully and precisely placed five delicate cups in a semicircle in front of her, before pouring some of the hot water into a delightfully elegant porcelain teapot. “I am not going to do a tea ceremony tonight as it might not be agreeable to all of you. Yet, I do think that it would be pleasing start to this night if we first shared a drink together.”
Having finished what she wanted to say for the moment, Harmony meticulously emptied the water out of the teapot into a well-crafted clay bowl, before using a bamboo measurer to carefully add some tea into the warmed teapot. After which she assiduously refilled it with more hot water. Once she had placed it in the centre of the semicircle formed by the cups, she regarded her fellow Angels.
“Please do not feel that you have to drink the tea, there are other beverages that may be more to your taste.” With a wave of her hand palm up over the cups and a slight nod of her head, she continued, “It is the partaking of a drink together that is important.” Then, she added with a smile, “There is also milk and sugar for those who would like them.”
She watched as her friends looked at her and then at each other.
“I would love a cup of tea Chan,” Rhapsody said, returning her gaze to Harmony.
Harmony smiled, inclining slightly in acknowledgement of Rhapsody's request. After that, she poured some of the tea into one of the exquisitely decorated cups that were before them. Then with due ceremony passed it to Rhapsody before – with the same formality – placing milk and sugar that were also in elegant containers, in front of Rhapsody.
“May I please have some as well?” Melody asked.
Again Harmony acknowledged the request and poured some more tea before handing it to Melody.
“Oui, a cup of tea would be wonderful Chan,” Destiny stated, shuffling a bit in order to be in a better position for dinking it. She received the cup from Harmony with the same dignity as it was passed to her.
“Why not?” Symphony declared, “I have been known to drink it sometimes.” She saw the looks of disbelief on her fellow Angels' faces. “What! Ask Rhapsody, she’ll confirm it. Okay so it’s not my most favourite drink, but I will drink it. I had to get used to it because of you Dianne… and Paul’s mom,” she added under her breath, thinking of all the times they ended up drinking it when Scarlet managed to talk Blue, Rhapsody and herself into a quick visit with his parents when he could. She turned to Harmony and said, “Please fill a cup for me Chan.”
“Of course, Karen,” Harmony replied. She poured a cup and gave it to Symphony before pouring one for herself.
There was a moment of silence as each of them sampled their tea. Then, Harmony placed on the mat some small round golden-brown, flan like, objects with Chinese characters and flowery patterns impressed on the top of them.
“These are Chinese Moon cakes. They are a part of a festival to the moon, in order to show thankfulness at the end of the harvest,” she told them. “They are a reminder to me that there will always be something to be thankful for, and that family and friends are of the utmost importance.” As she cut one into wedges and gave one to each of the others, she continued, “I hope that by the end of tonight each one of us will have become more aware of such things: friends, family and being thankful.”
Each one of them thanked her as they received their piece and took a bite.
“Hmmm this is nice. Do you think you could give me the recipe?” Symphony asked as she finished her piece.
“I will before you leave tonight,” Harmony answered.
“Karen’s right, this tastes good,” Melody added. “What’s in it?”
“This one is filled with lotus seed paste and an egg yolk Magnolia,” Harmony replied. She cut up another and passed it around. “This one has jujube paste; you would know jujube as being Chinese dates.”
She finished her piece before cutting up the last moon cake. “The filling in this one is red bean paste.” Looking at her friends, she noted the content looks on their faces. “I am pleased you like them.”
“I’ll say. Thanks for introducing us to them,” Rhapsody said.
“Certainement! I second that.” Destiny gave Harmony a speculative look. “It makes me wonder what you have planned next.”
Harmony moved to one of the small tables nearby and picked up a small tea candle holder, along with some metal skewers, paper and pens. She returned and positioned the holder and skewers in the middle of them, before handing out a piece of note paper and pen to her colleagues. “In many cultures, fire has a cleansing element to it and the burning of objects is thought to release the negative influences or feelings that might be troubling. It seemed to me that each of us might find it interesting or beneficial to do a simple ritual using fire.” After saying that, she struck a match and lit the tea candle that was in the beautiful holder and said, “please write on the paper the things that have upset, annoyed, angered, or have hurt you over the last few months. They do not have to be fully written down; this is just a way to help you to recall things.”
They all took a few minutes to think and write; when they were done, Harmony instructed them to fold the papers into quarters. Then she continued, “Now that that you have remembered the things that have made you unhappy by writing them down, it is time to put them to the fire. And as what you have written burns, tell yourself that those things are now in the past and they will no longer have any influence on you. Time changes things and things can get better and more often than not, they do so. I will go first. Follow when you feel it right to do so.” And with that, she took her piece of paper, poked a skewer through the middle of it and held it to the candles flame.
“You're brave to do that, it might set off the fire alarm,” Symphony commented, looking concerned.
“The possibility of that has been sorted out Karen. Colonel White knows what I have planned for tonight and the necessary requirements have been put in place,” Harmony replied.
“Oh,” was Symphony response; she went quiet as she watched Harmony’s paper burn away to ash. “So this is supposed to help banish our worries?” she queried while looking at the paper in her hand and then the candle.
“In a way,” Harmony made a gesture of uncertainty, “like all things mystical or spiritual, it comes down to how you believe in them.” She then slowly nodded, “even just acknowledging your negative feeling can be helpful in counteracting them. That is why I have put this together.”
“Oh…! Okay,” and with that Symphony forcefully speared her piece of paper and put it to the flame, watching it intently as it disintegrated.
Her actions were soon followed by Destiny, Melody and Rhapsody doing the same.
Once they finished, Harmony gathered the tea candle holder and skewers and moved them back to the table, before going to her kitchenette and brought out some food. As she put the food down in a circle in front of the others, the smell of it filled the room. There were a number of dishes, some of them were recognizable to the Angels, others were not, but all of them looked very delectable. “As you all know, food often has an important role in most harvest and thanksgiving celebrations. I have managed to have some of them cooked for tonight. Some of them you already know and like, the others I hope you will try.” She indicated to one, “this is Songpyeon, it comes from Korea. The rice cakes are a bit like the Moon cakes you have already tried.” Indicating to another she said, “this one is Pongal. It is a dessert like dish that comes from southern part of India.” She then pointed out another, “and this, is Kpokpoi and comes from Ghana.”
“They do look interesting, how did you get a hold of them, Chan?” Melody asked.
“Some of the chefs in the catering division come from these places and once the Head Chef gave permission, they were more than happy to make the dishes for me,” Harmony answered.
“You certainly have a gift for making things interesting,” Melody declared.
“Definitely,” confirmed Rhapsody, with Destiny and Symphony adding their agreement before the five of them began to eat.
After finishing her first selection of food, Harmony took a collection of beautifully decorated squares of paper that she had set on a table. She then handed one square out to each Angel.
“There is a belief in the Japanese culture, that if you are able to fold a thousand origami cranes within a year, then you will be granted the fulfilment of a wish by a crane. Cranes also symbolize long life, peace, and hope.” Harmony placed her paper down on the floor before herself. “I thought that it would be good for each of us to fold one, and as we do so, to tell each other things that we can be thankful about in spite of what has happened over the last few months.” She smiled at each of her friends in turn. “I can show how to fold one, if needed.”
“I think I can remember how, from when I was young,” Rhapsody said.
“An aunt showed me how to, but that was a long time ago,” Melody commented.
“Well, you two are one up on me. I’ve never learnt how to!” Symphony exclaimed.
“Nor have I,” Destiny added.
Harmony brought her hands together in front of her and once again nodded slightly. “Then please allow me to show you and refresh your memories.”
“Please do,” Symphony responded for all of them.
So with a pleased expression, Harmony showed them the first fold, saying as she did so, “I am thankful that although the Mysterons have managed to harm us, they did not succeed in fulfilling their threat.” She demonstrated the next fold. “Have any of you have something we can all be thankful about?”
“That Doctor Fawn was able to come up with a cure for that virus,” Destiny said.
“Definitely,” Rhapsody agreed.
They all made another couple of folds in their origami before Rhapsody added, “I’m just grateful that Adam, Brad, Pat and Rick are all going to recover completely.”
“So am I. It will be nice to have them back. Things are just not the same without them,” Symphony concurred. “Not that the new captains aren’t nice but, and I think you’ll all agree, we are more used to working with the others.”
“True,” Melody answered. “Although not having to put up with Rick’s ‘surprises’ is kind of nice.”
A few more folds were made before Destiny said, “I am also thankful that Paul, along with the new captains were able to stop the other Mysteron threats in China and Panama. The Mysterons might have thought that Spectrum would be less effective without the guys, but we’ve shown them otherwise.”
They continued to fold their cranes and say what they were thankful for. It didn’t take long for the cranes to be finished; Harmony picked hers up and held it for her fellow Angels to see. “May these become visual reminders of the things we can be thankful for. For although negativity can be so easy to feel, it can be like acid to one’s innermost being.” She felt pleased as she saw the others nod in agreement. “There is still some food to partake of,” she said indicating to the cuisine before them.
“And very nice food it is,” Melody commented as she refilled her plate, soon followed by the others.
As they ate their meal, they talked about all sorts of things and Harmony was satisfied to see that what she had hoped for seemed to be happening. Her friends were relaxing and the air of unhappiness on them appeared to be lifting.
Soon the food had become crumbs and they were sitting around and relaxing when Harmony once again picked up some things from a table: an assortment of different sized packets and plastic containers, which she placed before her colleagues. “There is another activity I would like us to do,” she said opening the packets to reveal different dried flowers, leaves and spices. “In western and some eastern cultures, flowers and some botanicals have hidden meanings.” She pointed to one of the packets, “like Zinnia here. It can mean, ‘thinking of an absent friend’.” She pointed to another one. “Borage has the meaning of courage,” she then indicated to a third packet, “and Oak means strength. I have put together a selection of dried flowers, herbs and spices that have meanings that I think are appropriate for what we have faced.” She touched another packet, “like nasturtium, which can mean ‘victory in battle’. It was my thought that we could each make a personalized potpourri that encompasses our thoughts and wishes for the times ahead.”
“That sounds like an interesting idea,” Symphony replied. “So what do the rest of the flowers and other stuff mean?”
Harmony explained the significance of each remaining item, then she gave each of the Angels one of the plastic containers and they spent time putting together their own versions of potpourri – the fragrance of which, she was delighted to note, filled her quarters in the most pleasing way. She could also tell that her colleagues were appreciating the chance to express their thoughts in such a unique way.
As they mixed their potpourri, Harmony got up and went back to her kitchenette and gathered some long-stemmed glasses, then took from the fridge a bottle of sparkling red grape juice before returning to her fellow Angels. There, she passed a glass to each, then she poured the beverage. “As we come to the end of this night, I now ask you to participate in another ritual which we are all familiar with. That of the toast,” Harmony stated, “but instead of using it to honour, let us use it as way to declare those things that we know are true.” She held up her glass. “Like, I know that no matter what the Mysterons plan, we will always do our best to stop them.”
“You are right there Chan,” Melody confirmed.
“Absolutely,” Rhapsody agreed.
Destiny and Symphony nodded their agreement, before they all took a sip.
“Our friendship is our strength and there is no way that will diminish it no matter what happens,” Rhapsody asserted.
“Oui! And as new personnel come, our circle of friends only gets bigger and stronger,” Destiny added.
And to that, Harmony, Melody and Symphony raised their glasses again.
The declarations went on as Destiny, Melody and Symphony made their toasts, with each of the others agreeing with their statements until all their glasses were almost empty with only enough left for a final toast. Harmony raised her glass for the last time saying, “We must not forget, that although the Mysterons have harmed Adam, Brad, Rick and Pat causing them to be sent away, they will be back. And may they be not only fully healed, but even better.”
“Amen to that,” Symphony was heard to say as the Angels took their last drink.
A big thanks to Isabelle Saucier for her time and effort in fixing my punctuation and other mistakes in this story (However any that are there, that’s my fault for not picking them up).
As well as I like to pass on my appreciation to Chris for all her hard work in administering this web-site. I also acknowledge that Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons belong to some company (whoever it is now days I have no idea) and not me and it was also created by Gerry Anderson. This story has been written for other people’s reading pleasure (and it demanded to be written).
This story takes place during the same Christmas as my story X-Miss? is set. It was an interesting story to write as I had to do a lot of research in order to try and get things plausible and as close to being right as possible. The first thing was, what was Harmony’s first name? As Harmony is supposed to be Chinese – even though she was born in Japan – then, by their naming customs, her first name would be Kwan. However, I went with Chan in the end for a number of reasons. I do however recognize that others have done their own investigating and have used Kwan, and that’s fair enough. That’s the good and fun thing about fanfiction, there’s no right or wrong outside of canon (and even then, if you do it right, you can get away with changing things, just not permanently).
As well there was the fun of trying to keep Harmony sounding eastern. Let’s face it, I know western sayings and idioms and somehow I don’t think Harmony would say – or think – something like "upsetting the apple cart".
Then there was research into the food, flowers, scents and the tea ceremony. I hope I’ve done them justice. Also, one might have noticed a reference to a couple of Mysteron threats not yet known, these are in an up and coming story that I am in the middle of writing and I’m hoping to soon have finished. Until then I hope that you have enjoyed reading this story.
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site