A “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” story
By Marion Woods
The World Government based in Unity City, Bermuda had done much to ensure a peaceful and politically stable society since its inception more than thirty years ago, but there still remained a number of nations hostile to the concept of World Government. The need to defend member states from these rebels had led to the unification of individual national military forces into the all- embracing World Army Air Force under the control of the Supreme Commander Earth Forces. This command also extended over the World Aquanaut Security Patrol at Marineville and the civilian World Police Force with their global headquarters in Paris.
The World Government’s Security Council had control of the Universal Secret Service and its off-shoot the World Intelligence Network, but World President Younger, in agreement with his predecessors in the post, firmly believed in the need for the creation of a global security force, enabled to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy that hampered other security organisations. This new organization would be answerable only to the World President. It was touch and go, but finally the World President got his way. Spectrum, as the new organization was called, was destined to become one of the most powerful organisations in the World, with bases all over the globe. Formerly launched on 10 July 2067, the carefully selected and trained agents quickly achieved such impressive results against dangerous dissident forces, that the critics, who had doubted that the expense of such an organization was justified, were silenced.
It was the highly sensitive monitoring equipment located on Spectrum’s headquarters - Cloudbase, which hovered at 40,000 ft above the Earth - that first registered the signals emanating from Mars. So it was only proper that Captain Black, a senior Spectrum Officer with experience of space exploration, should lead the Zero X mission to investigate these signals, early in 2068.
Captain Black never really stood a chance against the Aliens living on Mars. His ill-advised attack on their complex did no permanent damage, because using their awesome power of ‘retrometabolism’ they merely recreated their city once more. The attack did however awaken the animosity of these powerful entities, who called themselves the Mysterons, and focused their attention on the Earth, a planet they had previously considered of little interest.
They took the leader of the exploratory force as their servant so when Captain Black returned to the Earth in the Zero X rocket, he was the eyes and ears of the Mysterons. They used him to channel their power over the vast distance that separated them from the Earth and because of this they zealously protected him. They also used him to seek out information and to put into practise the stratagems they devised to punish the Earthmen they saw as enemies.
When the Mysterons issued their first threat to the Earth and announced that they intended to kill the World President, Spectrum was ordered into action with instructions both to protect the President and defeat the Mysterons. Colonel White quickly gave orders to his Senior Officers and sent them around the World in order to be prepared for further attacks. Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet had been given the task of escorting the World President to Spectrum’s maximum-security building in New York.
Unbeknown to the Colonel on Cloudbase, Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet became the first two Earthmen to suffer death and retrometabolism at the hands of the aliens. It was easy for them to destroy the primitive wheeled vehicle the men were driving and retrometabolise them so that they acted as the Mysterons dictated. As their original human bodies were of no further use, they were discarded.
Captain Brown waited until he was alone with President Younger in the VIP quarters before triggering an explosion of such force the building was destroyed. It was sheer luck that the President had both the time and foresight to operate a safety device, which shielded him from the blast.
Spectrum rescued the shaken President and entrusted his safety to one of their most reliable agents - Captain Scarlet - unaware that he was also under the influence of the Mysterons.
The discovery of the bodies of Brown and Scarlet at the scene of their fatal crash, threw Spectrum into confusion and Colonel White ordered his agents to apprehend the renegade Scarlet who was intent on kidnapping the President. In a desperate attempt to escape from Spectrum’s pursuit, he obeyed his masters instructions and drove to the top of the London Car-Vu tower to rendezvous with a mysteronised helicopter. The Spectrum officer codenamed Captain Blue followed them.
Blue attempted a rescue, but came under attack from the helicopter, and only the intervention of the Spectrum Angel pilots, flying guard over the Car-Vu, saved his life. Destiny Angel shot the helicopter down in flames and watched, horrified, as the machine crashed into the structure, causing so much damage that the whole platform shifted.
Time was running out, Blue could see the President clinging for dear life to a metal girder. He had been reluctant to believe that Scarlet had turned traitor but, left with no choice, he entered into a desperate gun battle. Scarlet, standing over the President, was exposed to Blue’s shots; so steadying the hoverpack he was wearing, Blue took his time to aim and shot Scarlet through the heart. With an agonising scream the young man fell over 800 feet. Blue flew his hoverpack across to the President, issued crisp, authorative, commands and airlifted him away from the crumbling structure, trying all the time to blank out the echoing memory of those screams.
Later, when they recovered the ‘second’ body of Captain Scarlet, the doctors on Cloudbase were astonished to discover the young man had revived. Despite the shock of the fall and the fatal shooting, something - which not even the Mysterons could quite understand - allowed Scarlet to revive and even regain his health.
The Mysterons found to their chagrin that Scarlet was now impervious to their instructions. He reverted to his original persona - a conscientious and loyal soldier and experience quickly showed that his retained retrometabolic ability made him virtually indestructible, so that not even death was fatal. Re-united with Captain Blue; he waged his own war against the Mysterons and continued, over the years, to thwart their schemes at every opportunity.
Such was his success that the normally phlegmatic Mysterons decided he was too much of an irritant and that now it was time to deal with him, once and for all.
Conrad Turner had always liked Prague. Something about the city had appealed to him and given him great pleasure, but now as Captain Black walked across an ancient bridge and away from the tourist areas he felt nothing. He turned down a side street and walked until he came to a run down part of the city. He went into a dark warehouse building, which appeared to be deserted. He could hear movement in a room at the back of the building and went towards it, confident of what he would discover there.
Two men were working silently at a bank of computers under the glare of an exposed low wattage light bulb. The dim light glinted off a metallic arch construction which dominated the middle of the room. Wires ran from it to the computer banks and a gentle hum filled the air. Although Black made no sound, the two men turned to acknowledge him, with eyes as blank as his own. One was a stocky, grey haired man in his fifties and the other a lanky young man with lifeless brown hair and round glasses. A similarity between them suggested they might be related, in fact they were father and son - Victor and Miroslav Fencl. Miroslav was used to assisting his father in his work, which Fencl had pursued alone and in secret for many years. When he had finally brought it to the attention of the scientific world, through the World Government's research forum, they had rejected it and him, causing him to decide to seek support from elsewhere. Alerted to the nature of his achievement, the Mysterons had seen a use for it and Fencl's car had mysteriously crashed on his drive to Bereznik where he and his son had been heading to seek the necessary finance to pursue his aims.
“How is the work progressing, Doctor Fencl?” Captain Black asked. His voice was deep and uninflected. He spoke in English, although his companions were both Czech and spoke little English themselves.
Although the elder of the two men replied in his own language, Black could understand him.
“We are now successful in more than 90% of our experiments, but we have yet to try with a human,” he said waiting for a response.
“It must be tried on an Earthman before we proceed with our plans,” Black said curtly. “There can be no errors this time. The Mysterons’ instructions must be carried out.”
“We are almost ready to make an attempt on a human - the technical problems we experienced have been corrected and a monkey survived for several days,” Fencl said dispassionately. “If the human survives as long, that should enable us to complete our re-assimilation of the Scarlet being.”
“When will you be ready to try?” Black asked.
The Doctor glanced at his young assistant, “How much longer do you estimate, Miroslav?”
The younger man spoke for the first time. “We can be ready almost as soon as you wish.”
“You will need a specimen?” Black asked and as Fencl nodded he concluded, “very well, I will get one.”
He left the building and walked at a deceptively fast pace back to the old town, where there were still people milling around in the historic squares. Ignoring them, he crossed through to an impoverished residential area and sat on a low wall waiting patiently as the sky began to darken.
His mind was empty of all individual thought, he merely concentrated on the task ahead and the satisfaction it would give his masters when this plan succeeded. Black had no qualms about what he was about to do; no remorse for the hurt and suffering it might cause. The Mysterons saw no value in human emotions or compassion. They did nothing without reason and nothing that did not further their aims. Their present aim was to rid themselves of the biggest obstacle to their ultimate success. Unusually, Black experienced a shiver of emotion. It was, perhaps, a sign that even the very thought of Captain Scarlet could unsettle the Mysterons. Innumerable times they had been within moments of triumph, only to have victory snatched from them by Scarlet and his Spectrum colleagues.
‘It is time it was ended.’ The thought went through Black’s brain, and he knew with utter certainty that this was true. Scarlet must be stopped and, if possible, returned to Mysteron control. Then he could assist his erstwhile fellow officer in furthering the Mysterons’ war of nerves against the Earthmen they so despised.
“Are you alright?” A dishevelled young man asked, shaking Black gently by the arm. The old man looked half-dead; pallid and lantern jawed.
Black started from his trance and gave a dry smile. “Yes thank you,” he answered in English.
“Can I help?” The man replied in halting English, hoping this was a rich tourist he could fleece of enough money to at least pay for something to eat tonight.
Black showed him a business card and pointed to the address. “Where is this please, I must find the place and I have not been able to. It is getting late.”
The young man frowned; the address was across the river, away from the tourist areas.
“I can pay you, if you can help me,” Black said, managing to sound helpless.
The young man smiled in understanding at the mention of money and nodded.
“I know where it is. We can walk if you want - quicker than a taxi cab and,” he grinned, “not many cabs here.”
Black looked grateful and struggled to his feet. He was taller than the younger man expected and not as old and frail as he had looked sitting on the wall. However he was hungry and as the man had offered to pay for his help, he shrugged off his doubts.
They walked through the square and back towards the warehouse district.
“You have business there?”
Black nodded, “I have to buy… merchandise from them. I have been looking all afternoon.”
“It is not an easy place to find, few people go there unless they have to,” the young man said, determined to make the old man like him and pay well for his assistance. He introduced himself as Josef and explained that he was an artist; he painted pictures of the city for the tourists to buy. Black wondered if he was a very good artist because from the state of his clothes and his thinness, it didn’t look as if he had ever sold many paintings.
They were walking down the dark street near the warehouse when Black attacked. He grabbed at Josef forcing him back to the wall of the nearest building and struck him across the face with his fist. Then he twisted his arm until he heard the bone crack. His hand covered the man’s mouth to deaden his screams and he forced him into the warehouse. Once inside, Black threw him at the feet of the two scientists. They stood, eerily impassive and regarded their victim with indifference.
“Proceed,” Black said curtly.
Ignoring the increasingly hysterical pleading, they stripped him and dragged him to a metallic arch in the centre of the room, where they handcuffed him to the sides and backed away. Miroslav went to the control panel and entered figures into a computer. Then at a nod from his father he threw a switch. Strange electric currents arced through the air and earthed themselves in the prisoner’s body. There was a deep humming noise and the air in the room shimmered before their eyes.
The three Mysteron agents watched impassively unaffected by the screams. After a minute or so, Josef slumped forwards held upright only by the handcuffs. The Doctor unlocked the cuffs and dragged the body across to a cage by the wall. He slammed the door shut and turned to his commander.
“We have to wait a few hours to see the results. Meanwhile, there are adjustments necessary. The whole process must be quicker when we use it on the Scarlet being. It will have to be recalibrated, of course. Perhaps we should try it on a Mysteron agent?” He gave a sideways glance at his son.
“You are both too valuable to the project. I will get another specimen when it is necessary,” Captain Black said.
The scientists worked on in silence, apparently understanding what each expected without words. Captain Black waited: time had no meaning for him.
Suddenly, ear-splitting screams came from the cage. The three men walked over and stared down. The young man was undergoing convulsions, his head thrashed about and he muttered snatches of sentences, as if arguing with an unseen presence. His eyes flew open in an unseeing stare, fear written large, as screams echoed around the room. Black glanced across at Fencl, and the doctor looked at his watch.
“Not long now, but it varies,” he said in response to the unspoken question. Josef’s body appeared to swell in size and grew indistinct at the edges. Almost like a snake sloughing off a skin, the body twisted and shivered and after a few moments a second body slid off from the first and rolled clear.
Exhausted, Josef and his clone crouched on the floor of the cage. There was a sob from one Josef and a tear crept down his cheek.
Captain Black gave a satisfied nod - the machine had come through its first test run with flying colours, soon it would be time to attract the attention of Spectrum and get Scarlet to Prague.
He glanced at Josef and somewhere deep within the bleakness of his mind felt a tinge of pity. “You will soon feel at one with the Mysterons and peace will come with obeying our masters. Give him some clothes,” he added to Miroslav. Then as suddenly, his compassion was replaced by his usual hardness and he turned away, leaving the young man shivering with more than the cold.
Colonel White read the report with a frown. “Lieutenant Green, are they sure that it is really Captain Black?”
“They are as sure as they can be. He has been seen several times by reliable officers, Sir. Commander Ziak has a reputation for efficiency; he wouldn’t alert us unless he was reasonably sure.”
“Yet we’ve had no threat from the Mysterons that they mean to attack Prague - or anything that might explain why Captain Black would be there. Who are the duty officers?”
“Captains Blue and Scarlet,” Green replied, without needing to consult his desktop screens.
“Hmm, I wonder if they aren’t better kept here and a couple of the Lieutenants sent to investigate,” the Colonel mused.
“Well, Sir, it has been uncommonly quiet for the past few weeks and you know how Captain Scarlet likes to follow up any reports on the whereabouts of Captain Black,” Green reasoned leaving aside the fact that both Captains were getting edgy with boredom.
“Yes, I know he does. Very well, Lieutenant Green, ask Scarlet and Blue to come to the Control Room. I will discuss it with them.”
In the officers’ lounge Blue and Scarlet were killing time. Captain Blue had just finished his latest library book and was now at a loose end, whilst Captain Scarlet was reduced to making paper planes out of yesterday’s newspaper. The floor was littered with crashed prototypes.
“I hope you’re gonna pick these up,” Blue said surveying the wreckage with a wry grin.
“I thought you could. You were a crash investigator, after all.”
“I was a test pilot,” Blue corrected missing the joke. “And a damned good one too,” he added half to himself.
Smirking, Scarlet launched his latest design, which spiralled across the room and nosedived into a waste paper bucket.
Blue applauded, “Good shot!”
“It was a fluke. I was aiming for the window,” Scarlet admitted.
Blue scrambled to his feet and fished the plane from the bin. “It’s a fault with the wings, if you ask me.”
He spent a few minutes tweaking the paper and then threw the plane back towards his friend. It glided effortlessly and gracefully came to a halt on the tabletop. Blue punched the air.
“Sometimes you are too nauseating for words,” Scarlet complained flicking the offending plane off the table with his middle finger.
“You’re just jealous, ‘cause I can make better planes than you.” Blue’s handsome face wore an appealingly childish grin.
Scarlet shook his head. “I can’t believe we’re reduced to this,” he said and kicked at the nearby wreckage of an earlier attempt. He reached for Blue’s discarded book and pulled a face. “How can you read this stuff?”
“Well, Karen said it was good.”
“Not really my kinda thing; but she’s gonna ask me what I thought about it at some point, so I thought I ought to finish it,” Blue confessed with an almost apologetic shrug.
Scarlet scowled; he considered Blue to be firmly under the thumb of his girlfriend. Catch me reading some daft book just because Dianne told me to, he thought. He opened the book at random and read a few lines.
“Captain Blue and Captain Scarlet please report to the Control Room,” Lieutenant Green’s voice echoed through the room.
“Saved by the tannoy,” Scarlet muttered gratefully throwing the despised book down.
Blue followed him from the room with only the slightest twinge of guilt for the mess they left behind.
They landed at Prague Airport some four hours later. The sky was just starting to get light and it was raining. They took an SPV from the airport secure bay and drove to the city.
“We should check in with the ground forces,” Scarlet said looking up from the copy of the reports the Colonel had given them.
“Sure thing. I wonder if they have spotted Black again and what he’s doing here.”
“We’ll find out soon enough.”
Blue consulted the dashboard navigation computer and turned sharp left with a squeal of tyres. “Sorry about that,” he muttered as Scarlet was thrown off balance.
“Maybe I should have driven. Did you see that truck at all?” Scarlet complained.
“Yes - stop carping. I’m the one with expert rating on these machines!”
“Even examiners can make mistakes.”
“And I thought it was only women who were back seat drivers,” Blue sighed melodramatically.
“I’m gonna tell Symphony that!” Scarlet hooted.
“If I’m not back for our dinner date tomorrow, she’ll be ready to kill me anyway, so it probably won’t matter,” Blue grinned back.
“Things are going okay with you two, for now?” Scarlet asked cautiously. A few weeks ago, the couple had had one of their periodic falling-outs. He was never quite sure if they were at the just reconciled, passionately devoted or worst enemy stage.
Blue nodded happily, “Yeah, she forgave me.”
“That’s big of her; what had you done?”
His friend shrugged, “I’m not sure, but it must’ve been bad. I got my toothbrush back.”
Scarlet laughed. The whereabouts of Adam’s toothbrush was a good gauge of how matters stood. “Where is it now?” he asked.
“I was hoping to move it back tomorrow,” Blue confided, “but if I miss the date….” he left it hanging as they drove up to the Spectrum building.
“Let’s find Black quickly then. I’d hate this mission to be the cause of another break-up.”
Commander Vladimir Ziak, the Spectrum officer in control of the ground forces in Prague, had spread a street map out on the desktop. There were coloured spots with dates on them signifying sightings of Captain Black. He had only been in command of the Prague office for just over a year and he was anxious to impress the senior officers with his efficiency. He sprang to attention as his second in command ushered the two captains in and snapped off a smart salute. Blue returned it with equal smartness followed by Scarlet who then said, “At ease Commander, or we could be saluting each other all day.”
They both declined any refreshments and once the niceties were over they began to study the map. Ziak explained about the coloured spots, pointing out the clusters around several isolated areas.
“Most of them seem to be around this building. What kind of area is it?” Scarlet asked their host.
“It is one warehouse in a place of warehouses and small factories but nothing very important. It is why we are unsure it is Captain Black.”
“We can’t know what the Mysterons are planning, Commander,” Blue reasoned. “They must have to make arrangements before they issue their threats. Black could be up to anything - or nothing. If it is him we’ll need to apprehend him if possible.”
“Don’t let’s get too ambitious, Captain. Killing him would be just as useful,” said Scarlet.
“We could gain more by capturing him: what the Mysterons are planning to attack next, if nothing else,” Blue was ready to argue the point.
Scarlet frowned. “If it is Black we can bet the Mysterons are watching him. You know they have a habit of pulling him out of dangerous situations. Don’t let’s try any heroics. ”
“Because you don’t think I could cope?” Blue asked with a hint of offended pride.
“Someone might get hurt,” Scarlet hedged.
“The Colonel wouldn’t hold you responsible for any dumb thing I did to myself.”
“I wasn’t thinking of the Colonel,” Scarlet admitted, “I was thinking…”
“Thinking of Karen!” Blue chimed in with his friend. They exchanged grins.
Commander Ziak listened to this exchange with some amusement and surreptitiously studied the two men in front of him. The pair certainly seemed very much at ease with each other - even to the point of finishing each other’s sentences - but in looks they were as different as chalk and cheese.
Captain Scarlet - who, if the gossip was right, must indeed have nine lives - was a tall, muscular, good-looking, Englishman, with black hair and surprisingly bright blue eyes. His square, slightly cleft chin sported a five o’clock shadow emphasised by a natural pallor and he looked younger than his 38 years. He had an innate air of command and an aura of intense, pent-up energy. His clipped English accent bore only the slightest trace of a mid-Atlantic twang.
His habitual companion, the American Captain Blue, was slightly taller and broader, with striking blond hair, and the kind of classically handsome features, clear, tanned complexion and smoky blue eyes that, Ziak suspected, would make him something of a heart-throb amongst the female staff. He came across as the more easy going of the pair, even though he had a reputation for a somewhat pedantic streak. Ziak knew he was not much older than Scarlet but he looked it, even though he carried the years lightly.
Their reputations were almost legendary amongst Spectrum personnel around the world and it was strange how people whose shifts had finished hours earlier had still found reasons to remain, on hearing that Scarlet and Blue were coming! Personally Ziak doubted if the more fanciful gossip was true, but he wondered if the Captains had noticed the awe-struck scrutiny they’d received from the ground staff as they had walked through the building to his office. Glancing from one to the other, he sensed they were both very aware of it and that they invariably had to deal with such adulation from ground based staff.
Scarlet and Blue went back to their SPV having given the Ground Staff comprehensive orders. They watched the auxiliary Spectrum vehicles drive away to their positions and once every other vehicle had left, Blue gunned the engine. They drove through the narrow streets with Scarlet navigating from Ziak’s map. When they reached the end of the street in which the suspect warehouse was located, Blue switched off the engine and they checked their weapons. Finally Scarlet fished the Mysteron detector out from under his seat.
“Ready?” He asked Blue, who nodded.
They descended from the SPV and cautiously made their way to the warehouse. The place looked deserted, although it was in reasonable repair. There was no noise to be heard above the quiet splatter of the rain and the background trickle of water running down the gutters.
Suddenly Scarlet nudged his companion. “Look! There’s a light towards the rear of the building. You go through the main entrance and I will try to find a way round the back.”
“And if you can’t?”
“I’ll join you,” Scarlet replied as he slipped away into the darkness.
Blue waited. No point in going in before Scarlet had had time to search. There was still no noise and the faint glimmer of the light did not waver, as it might if someone was moving about. He hummed quietly to himself as he generally did when he was waiting alone- a somewhat torturous rendition of a Mozart melody on this occasion. Then he pushed at the front door. It was stiff and heavy but not locked, it didn’t squeak either, which suggested it was being maintained. Inside the building, he expelled a deep sigh and waited until his eyes adjusted to the gloom.
Then he activated his cap mic and whispered, “I’m in. No signs of life.”
He knew Scarlet would not respond unless he absolutely had to, maintaining radio silence was second nature to them both. The cap mic swung back.
Scarlet heard the whispered message over his radio and smiled. Blue had obviously had no trouble getting in. He edged towards the skylight through which the light shone weakly into the dark sky, making the raindrops glisten as they fell. He flattened himself against the roof and peered carefully over the frame.
It was difficult to see anything much, as the glass was filthy, but he could make out two figures in white lab coats working at a computer bank, whilst another in grubby overalls stood motionless by the wall. As he watched one man walked to a large metallic arch and adjusted a control panel there. He could hear muffled voices and he strained his hearing to try to make out the words. He stiffened as he recognised the deep, flat tones of Captain Black and saw the man at the arch turn and nod his head in agreement.
Scarlet squirmed around the window in an attempt to see Black and as he did so the wooden frame gave way and he fell into the room in a shower of glass shards. He rolled as he landed and stood facing towards the direction he assumed Captain Black was standing. They faced each and Scarlet reached for his gun. Black gave a mocking smile as Scarlet realised the weapon had dropped from his holster in the fall. He darted towards it, rolling away from the expected gunfire as he did so.
To his surprise Black did not move and moments later shots rang out from the other direction as the three Mysteron agents opened fire on him. He dived behind a couple of crates, cursing at the flesh wound that was stinging his left arm. Pinned down so that he was unable to get a clear shot at his adversary he returned their fire, consoling himself with the thought that Blue would arrive soon and after him the ground forces.
This time Black’s caught fair and square! He thought with satisfaction.
Making his way cautiously through the empty warehouse Captain Blue heard the sound of breaking glass followed by shooting. He broke into a run his cap mic descending as he did so.
“Radio, SIR! Send in the troops,” he ordered, running in the direction of the tumult. He cannoned into a closed door, which gave beneath his powerful shoulders so that he almost fell into the sparsely lit room.
For a second he took his bearings; Scarlet had taken cover behind two large crates, which stood across from the door. Broken glass covered the floor where he must have jumped through the skylight. There were computer terminals on the left hand side and a large archway construction in the centre of the room. Three men continued firing a hail of bullets at Scarlet pinning him down, whilst over in the far corner Captain Black stood and watched it all. Blue noticed with a jolt of surprise that he was unarmed. Disturbed by Blue’s forced entrance, the Mysteron agent turned quickly, although he did not seem alarmed. Blue raised his gun.
“Shoot!” Scarlet yelled. “Blue, shoot him!” He turned his attention from his assailants towards his friend, waiting for the shots.
Blue hesitated; it went against his personal morality to shoot an unarmed man - even one as notorious as Captain Black. Besides, part of him still hoped that Black might be reclaimed for Spectrum, as Scarlet had been. He stared at the impassive figure of Conrad Turner and opened his mouth to speak but, before any words came out, there was another burst of gunshot and Scarlet’s voice cried out, distorted with pain. Blue’s reaction was as instinctive as it was immediate. His gun swerved away from Black and he fired on the other Mysteron agents.
At the same moment Black called, “Get him into the geminator!” and the white-coated men moved towards Scarlet, whilst the third Mysteron turned his gun on Blue and began firing back. Blue dodged behind the archway and fired again. The scientists were dragging the now unconscious Scarlet towards the centre of the room and Black was moving in behind him, as Blue aimed and shot the remaining Mysteron with the gun. He dropped to the floor harmless for the moment, although Blue knew he would not be truly dead unless and until he was shot with one of the electron ray guns, specially developed by Spectrum to combat the Mysterons. Blue dodged away to the other side of the archway to get a better shot at Black. Black’s approach faltered and he turned back to the scientists.
“Hurry,” he ordered, “there isn’t much time. Captain Blue has called for reinforcements.”
Wondering how Black could know that, Blue watched as the younger man began to haul Scarlet upright, he saw the handcuffs attached to the side of the arch and guessed what he was going to do. The elder man went back to the computers and began entering codes on the keyboard. Faced with the choice of moving again to get a better shot at Black or stopping the Mysterons from doing whatever they planned to Captain Scarlet, Blue didn’t hesitate.
“Oh no you don’t,” he threatened and darted back towards his injured companion by the most direct route - through the arch.
Black’s frustrated cry echoed around the room, as Blue triggered the geminator and slumped screaming to the ground, bringing the younger Mysteron down with him, and leaving Scarlet hanging free of the archway by one handcuff. As the electrical pulses licked over Blue’s inert body Black and the three Mysterons melted from the room, like ice in the sun.
By the time the ground forces arrived the room was empty, except for the unconscious bodies of the two Spectrum captains. Scarlet had several gunshot wounds, including one in his collarbone which was bleeding profusely and Captain Blue lay on the floor half way through an electrical archway, which still flickered occasionally.
Commander Ziak radioed Cloudbase and requested urgent medical assistance.
Doctor Fawn was used to receiving incoming wounded at all hours, especially when the wounded in question was Captain Scarlet. His medical staff was trained to work in efficient teams and once he had extracted the bullets he would let the nurses deal with Scarlet’s injuries, as all they were likely to need was cleaning and bandaging. The situation with Captain Blue was different - no-one was sure what had happened to him for a start. Scarlet might know but he was still unconscious. Fawn wired Blue to his automatic monitors and checked his vital signs, all of which appeared to be within normal parameters. There were no external wounds and the Captain was not in any immediate danger. Fawn noted it on his medical records and went to perform surgery on Captain Scarlet.
In the Control Room, the Colonel was questioning Commander Ziak and Captain Ochre, who had led the rescue team, but neither was able to add anything to the Doctor’s report.
“Captain Blue was lying through the archway which was some sort of electrical machine - it kept short-circuiting. He was unconscious, but so was Captain Scarlet, who had several gunshot wounds and he was loosing much blood,” Ziak explained.
“Thank you, Commander. Your prompt actions have undoubtedly saved the lives of your fellow officers.” The Colonel noticed with quiet amusement how Ziak’s chest swelled at being included with Blue and Scarlet. “You did not see Captain Black yourself?”
“No, Colonel. Captain Blue gave the signal - radio SIR - that they needed back-up forces. Yet only the two Captains were there when we arrived. There were signs of other peoples having been there - but no people. We did not see anyone trying to leave the building and a thorough search found no-one else in the building. My men still have the place surrounded, Sir.”
Lieutenant Green interrupted, “Colonel, the warehouse is listed as being rented to a Doctor Victor Fencl since October last year.”
“Fencl? I seem to have heard the name. What exactly do we know about the Doctor, Lieutenant?”
Green pushed a few buttons, “He’s a bio-engineer, Sir. He was the centre of a controversy a few years ago when he claimed he had found a way to… to clone fully grown specimens. He asked the World Government for funding to pursue his research and was tuned down, Sir.” He read and then gasped, “there is a record of him and his son, Miroslav Fencl, being reported missing by his wife in September last year. Czech police assumed he had gone to Bereznik to avoid his creditors.”
The Colonel frowned. “Sounds as if our Doctor may be a typical Mysteron case. Very well, Lieutenant, see if you can find out anything else.”
“SIG,” Green swung his chair back to the bank of his computers.
Colonel White was worried, and he stared into the middle distance oblivious to the two men standing before him, musing over the information he’d just received. It would appear that Fencl had got his finance and from a far more worrying source than one of the world's rogue states. Yet, thankfully, nothing serious seemed to have happened to either Captain Blue or Captain Scarlet.
“Colonel, do you have any instructions for us?” Ochre prompted.
With a slight smile of apology, Colonel White turned back to Commander Ziak, still waiting patiently before the famous circular desk. “Well, Commander, whilst you are here, would you like to take a look around Cloudbase?” He smiled at his subordinate’s excited nod. “Captain Ochre here will be pleased to show you around. Oh, and make sure the Commander gets some refreshment, Captain. Dismissed.”
In Sickbay, Doctor Fawn kept watch over his patients. Rhapsody Angel had come down to see Scarlet who was just regaining consciousness. They stood together by the bed as Scarlet’s eyes flickered open and he tried to focus, seeming disorientated.
“Adam?” He croaked. Rhapsody flushed.
“Blue’s usually here when he comes round,” Fawn explained kindly. “It must seem odd that he’s not.”
“Yes, I know,” Dianne replied. She felt a twinge of guilt as she looked down at the injured man in the bed.
“I want to know what happened to Adam,” Scarlet explained with a frustrated sigh, "If he's not here, something's happened."
"He's next door but in no danger," Fawn said absently. He made an adjustment to a monitor and added another entry to the patient's extensive case notes.
Scarlet’s black brows furrowed as his memories of the events in Prague started to come back. “Did he shoot Black? He was about to before I passed out but looking at your faces I bet he didn’t!”
“These things happen,” Fawn said, pushing Scarlet back onto the bed as he struggled to sit up.
As he fell back onto the pillows, Scarlet looked up sheepishly at Rhapsody and smiled. "Hello Dianne. Nice of you to drop by."
"Hello Paul, good to see you are feeling okay," she managed to keep her overwhelming concern out of her voice as she smiled at him. It never got any easier seeing him badly wounded and she found it verging on the impossible to do the 'death watches', as Adam called them. Scarlet was well aware of her distress and had forbidden her, as a general rule, to spend too much time in sickbay when he was 'recovering'. Yet, because she knew Blue wouldn't be there when he woke this time, she had come down herself. She couldn't bear to think that he might wake up alone and feel that she didn't care enough to be there. He was her fiancé and she loved him. Perhaps, she thought ruefully, that was the advantage Adam had over her...
"I feel absolutely wretched," he confessed, eagerly taking the tumbler of water Fawn offered him and draining it in one draught. He wiped his mouth with his hand and held the glass out to be refilled. “I’d feel a whole heap better if Blue had done his job back in Prague. It is not every day we have Black trapped like that.”
“There’s no certainty it would have harmed him, you know,” Fawn reasoned. “He’s under the control of the Mysterons, and they seem to take care of him.” He gave Scarlet another tumbler of water.
“Nevertheless, Blue should have let him have it,” Scarlet argued petulantly in between taking great gulps of the water. "I expect he'll have some perfectly plausible bleeding heart explanation why he didn't do it after all - he'd been going on about the advantages of 'capturing Black' rather than killing him earlier. Chances like this one don't come by very often. Adam should know better than to waste them. I'm not going to back him up on this one when he has to explain it to the Colonel - he's on his own this time!" He glanced at his colleagues who were regarding him with tolerant scepticism. “What’s wrong with him anyway? Sprain his trigger finger, did he?”
“He appears to have been electrocuted - but if you don't know what happened, only Blue can tell us exactly what did.” Seeing Scarlet start up in alarm Fawn added, “It probably did him less harm than it would have done you."
Scarlet flushed angrily. "You said he was okay! You didn't say he was hurt! I knew there had to be a good reason for him allowing Black to escape."
Rhapsody chuckled at him and patted his good shoulder. "We know that, Paul."
"How did it happen?"
Fawn shrugged. "Ziak found you both unconscious and called for medical assistance. You were handcuffed to a machine and Blue was splayed out on the floor, apparently. Blue is still unconscious, at the moment, but he should recover nicely."
“There was a contraption in the room - a sort of archway. Maybe that was what did it? Wonder what it was for?” Scarlet was getting sleepy again and his eyes were beginning to close.
Fawn watched with a satisfied smile and nodded his head towards the door, indicating to Rhapsody that visiting time was over. She bent and kissed Scarlet’s cheek. “Get better soon,” she teased seeing his lips twitch in a smile, although his eyes remained shut.
“I’ll do my best,” he whispered back. Suddenly he was jolted back to alertness by a piercing scream. “Adam!” he said with concern and sat upright.
Fawn was already half way to the door and, ignoring Rhapsody’s plea to stay in bed, Scarlet ripped off the electrodes that connected him to the bleeping machines and stood up. His legs buckled and he crashed to the floor.
Cursing, Fawn ran back and picked him up. “Stay here,” he ordered and sat Scarlet on the bed before rushing from the room.
“Help me,” Scarlet turned to Rhapsody for support. Protesting, she nevertheless put his arm over her shoulder and helped him stumble to the next room. They opened the door and saw Fawn standing gaping at the bed.
“What’s wrong?” Scarlet gasped, fearing the worst. “How’s Adam?”
Fawn moved, allowing them both a clear sight of the room. “He seems fine, both of him,” he muttered still in shock.
“Good God…” Scarlet breathed as he looked in disbelief at the two naked men standing on either side of the hospital bed staring mesmerised at each other. Hearing his voice, both men turned to stare at the trio.
“Paul,” the right hand man demanded, “what’s going on? Who’s that?” his hand stabbed towards the man opposite.
“I am Adam Svenson - who are you?” The left hand man replied remarkably calmly, as the first man’s face swung back to stare imperiously at his double.
With a baffled sigh, Doctor Fawn moved to the intercom and called the Control Room, “Colonel, I think I might have something you will want to see. Please would you come to sickbay?”
Colonel White was about to leave for sickbay when a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks. The loud, passionless voice they recognised as that of the Mysterons seemed to come from nowhere and echo around the Control Room. Its message was as menacing as ever - and more cryptic than usual:
“THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS; WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN. WE WILL BE AVENGED FOR YOUR UNPROVOKED ATTACK ON OUR MARTIAN COMPLEX. WE WILL USE THE POWER OF THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE TO TURN YOU AGAINST YOURSELVES.”
“Short and sweet that time, Colonel,” muttered Lieutenant Green as the voice died away. “And what the heck are they talking about? What machine?”
“Call a meeting in the conference room, Lieutenant, for the duty Angels and the Captains. With Scarlet and Blue incapacitated, we will need everyone to work on this. I will join them as soon as I have spoken with Doctor Fawn. In the meantime, see what you can do to decipher the threat.”
“The only ‘ghost in the machine’ I know is a music album by the twentieth century rock group, The Police,” Green admitted.
“Very well, it’s a start at least - see if there have been any reports of unusual events within the World Police Force - perhaps they intend to have them arrest us all…”
The Colonel hurried down to sickbay, his mind full of this latest threat. Whatever Doctor Fawn had to show him, it had better be good!
The Colonel was speechless at the sight of the two identical Captain Blues, seated on either side of the bed, one in a medical gown and the other in pyjamas.
Doctor Fawn had done nothing to prepare his superior for the shock and now as he closed the observation window blinds he explained, “That was the only way we could tell them apart. I’ve kept them on the same side of the bed as I found them, although I doubt it makes any difference.”
The Colonel found his voice, “You are doing tests?”
“Naturally, they both checked negative with the Mysteron detector, in case you wondered, and the initial blood test shows them to be identical. I also have Blue’s dental records and retinal scan and of course, a DNA sample is being prepared.” Fawn scratched his head. “But if you want my opinion, they are unlikely to show any differences either.”
“Well, what happened? How did we suddenly end up with two men?”
“At a guess, it must have something to do with that ‘contraption’ Scarlet saw in Prague.”
“The electrical archway?” Colonel White gasped. He quickly told Fawn what Lieutenant Green had discovered about Fencl’s field of work. “Green said he was working on domestic animals for food production but do you think he could have perfected a way to clone adult humans?”
“If he didn’t then I would say that the Mysterons have,” Fawn said bleakly. “The problem is, we don’t know which one of the two Captain Blues is a clone.”
The Colonel frowned in concentration for a moment. “This might link into the latest Mysteron threat. Perhaps the machine they referred to is this one in Prague.” He went to the intercom. “Lieutenant Green, Commander Ziak must return to Prague immediately. In the meantime, tell whoever is in charge there that the warehouse must receive maximum-security protection. No one is to enter that building without rainbow class clearance.”
“SIG, Colonel,” the Lieutenant’s voice registered his surprise, but he knew better than to argue.
“I suppose I had better speak to him - er - them,” the Colonel said to Fawn. “Although what I’m going to say is a mystery to me.”
“Take Scarlet with you,” Fawn advised. “I cannot keep him in his bed anymore and he’s like a cat on hot bricks. And he might be able to tell them apart - he knows Svenson better than anyone.”
“Almost anyone,” the Colonel corrected. “When Symphony Angel gets back from her patrol, have her come down here as well. But if I were you, Edward, I would warn her before letting her see these two!”
Fawn grinned. “Symphony - ah, yes. How could I forget her? SIG, Colonel.”
The two blond men looked towards the door as the Colonel entered and both stood to attention.
“At ease, gentlemen.” White looked from one to the other; it really was uncanny! “How are you feeling?”
The right hand man in the medical gown spoke first, “I’m fine, Colonel. I just want to get this matter cleared up and get back on duty.”
“Good,” the Colonel looked at the second man. “And you?”
“I am fine as well and as keen to clear this up as my… companion.”
The Colonel nodded debating whether to tell the ‘twins’ about their cloning theory. He had just decided to see what they knew, when Scarlet came into the room, dressed in off duty jeans and a British Lions rugby shirt, his only concession to his injuries a sling for his left arm.
Both Captain Blues smiled with relief. “Paul!” They welcomed him simultaneously.
Scarlet grinned. “Hello you two.” He came and stood by the Colonel, who acknowledged him with a nod. “Seems like we’ve hit the jackpot, Colonel; two for the price of one!”
The left hand man gave a slight smile, shaking his fair head and the right hand man guffawed. “Your jokes don’t get any better,” he sniggered. Scarlet twitched his eyebrows in mock offence.
“Quite,” the Colonel said coldly, but he noticed the tension in the room had lifted slightly. “Now, it seems our first difficulty is going to be telling you two apart. I can’t keep thinking of you as man on the left or man on the right!”
“I am Adam Svenson,” the left hand man said with a quiet certainty.
“No, I am ,” his duplicate insisted.
“I have an idea,” Scarlet began. “In effect, Adam has two identities: Adam Svenson and Captain Blue. You,” he indicated the left hand man, who was sitting on his chair once more, “you can be Adam and you,” he pointed to the other one, “can be Blue. Simple, eh?”
“I have no objection to that,” ‘Adam’ said mildly.
“If we must pretend this fellow is me then I accept - for now,” ‘Blue’ agreed.
“Fine, we will proceed on those lines,” the Colonel said briskly. “Now, I want you both to tell us what you remember about the mission to Prague.”
Blue immediately began to tell the story, speaking in a loud, arrogant voice and ignoring Adam’s attempts to interject. Finally Adam stopped trying and sat in silence, glowering thoughtfully at the other man from under lowered brows. The account was a lively one but somewhat lacking in details, which Adam provided in response to the Colonel’s probing questions at the conclusion of the report.
“Now, what do you remember about the room?” The Colonel prompted.
“Black was in there and three men who were shooting at Scarlet with automatic pistols,” Blue replied crisply.
“There was an archway, wired to a computer terminal and that was what Black was most interested in,” Adam added.
Scarlet nodded, it had seemed that way to him too. The Colonel did not seem that ready to ask another question, so Scarlet asked the one that had been niggling him since he regained consciousness. “Why didn’t you shoot Black?”
“I intended to,” ‘Blue asserted, and looked confused, as if he couldn’t think of a good reason for not having carried out his intention.
“He was unarmed,” Adam said simply, adding as an after thought, “I also wondered if we took him alive, could he be turned from the Mysterons, as you were, Paul? In the split second I hesitated, you were shot. They began to drag you to the arch and were about to do something to you - I couldn’t get a clear shot at Black so I thought I’d try to stop them first. I ran towards you - through the archway. I don’t remember anything else. I must have passed out.”
“Me too - I don’t remember anything else. Only I know I didn’t do any wondering about killing that murderous swine,” Blue said with a scathing look at his double.
“Then we must assume the archway has got something to do with your present…eh - predicament,” White mused. "We have had another Mysteron threat - speaking of using the power of the ghost in the machine to turn us against ourselves. Perhaps, that is the machine they mean? - I will get some of the Spectrum boffins to take a look at it. We already know that Dr Fencl was involved in bioengineering and that he was reported missing months ago, so it seems a promising line of enquiry.”
“May I go and help Colonel?” Scarlet asked quickly.
“No, you are better employed here, with Adam and Blue.”
“Colonel, we didn't hear the threat but it occurs to me there might be more layers to it than you imagine. That phrase, ‘ghost in the machine’ is used to describe the human mind as an entity distinct from the human body,” Adam said quietly. “The Mysterons could be threatening to use our own minds against us.”
Scarlet glanced at the Colonel and then back at Adam, who remained sitting on his chair with an air of calmness that was astonishing given his present circumstances. Blue, on the other hand was gawping at his double with confusion, a slight frown between his pale brows.
“It is a possibility we will have to investigate…Cap… Adam,” the Colonel said slowly. He was going to have difficulty using Captain Blue’s Christian name.
“Perhaps we should all go to Prague and investigate it now?” Blue chimed in eagerly.
“No, Doctor Fawn wants you here whilst he finishes his tests.”
Blue’s irritation was obvious. However, before he could protest further, the door opened and Symphony stood looking nervously into the room, with Doctor Fawn hovering close behind her.
The two blond men spoke simultaneously and Adam stood as Blue moved towards her.
Symphony Angel pushed her strawberry-blonde hair back from her forehead and looked several times from one to the other. Then she slowly crumpled to the floor in a dead faint.
Blue busied himself fetching his chair for the Doctor’s newest patient and then helped Fawn lift her. He supported her body in the chair, his arms wrapped artlessly around her so that his hands cupped her breasts. Scarlet hoped the Colonel was too preoccupied to notice that liberty, but he noted, with interest, that Adam had seen it and was not pleased at what he saw.
Symphony spluttered back to consciousness as Fawn waved sal volatile under her nose.
“Take it away,” she ordered sharply. “Phuur! Why isn’t that stuff banned under some convention or other?” She squirmed and angrily pushed Blue’s invasive hands away.
“Because it works,” Doctor Fawn smiled, tightening the lid on the small bottle.
“How are you, Symphony?” the Colonel asked kindly.
She swivelled in the chair and eyed the two blond men standing either side of her and then turned to Scarlet with a wry smile. “Okay, I give up - how do you do that?”
“I’m not doing anything,” he protested mildly.
“It’s a hologram or something, right?”
“I’m afraid not,” the Colonel said. “There really are two of him - eh, of them.”
Symphony turned again and looked from one to the other.
Blue returned her gaze with a bright smile. “Whilst all this is sorted out, they are calling me Blue and him Adam,” he gestured dismissively at his twin.
Her gaze travelled back to the silent man watching her with such obvious concern. “Are you alright, Karen?” he asked gently.
“No, I’m seeing double,” she muttered, turning back to the Colonel. “I’m not sure I like this.” She was close to tears.
“How about a nice cup of tea? It will do you the world of good,” the Colonel suggested, rather to everyone’s surprise. He’d always been fond of Symphony.
She frowned at him, “I don’t like tea. Do you have any brandy?” she asked Fawn.
Fawn grinned. “For medicinal purposes, yes. It won’t do you any good,” he added more sternly under the Colonel’s sharp gaze.
Symphony shook her head and looked once more at the two identical men. She had seen her boyfriend this morning before he went on duty and - now there were two of him? Blue was looking intently at her, a half smile on his lips and an expression in his eyes that she recognised only too well. She was conscious of her body’s response to his covert invitation, and her insides churned with a familiar anticipation, which unsettled her even more. Shivering at the outbreak of goose bumps on her skin, she glanced across at Adam, all too embarrassingly aware that he recognised the unspoken spark between her and his twin.
He looked particularly vulnerable as he watched her and when he met her gaze, he dropped his eyes as a flush spread over his face. It was such a rarely seen side of his personality that, with a very few exceptions, everyone on Cloudbase would have told you that Captain Blue never knew a moment's self-doubt. It provided her with the final conclusive proof as to which of the pair was the man she loved.
“Well - what do we do now?” she asked with a brittle gaiety, fighting the need to be swept into his strong arms and cry like a baby.
“Well, speaking for myself,” Blue replied, “I would like to get some proper clothes on and have something to eat. Seems like an age since I had anything more substantial than one of Scarlet’s Triple X mints.”
The Colonel looked questioningly at Fawn who grimaced. “No reason why not,” he said.
“Captain Scarlet, as you are off duty, you can take - these gentlemen - to Captain Blue’s quarters and let them get dressed. Then I suggest you all have something to eat whilst I sort out the research team.”
The journey to Captain Blue’s quarters was an ordeal Symphony hoped never to repeat. Scarlet was walking ahead with Adam, who was still a little unsteady on his feet, so she was left to accompany Blue. He tried to encircle her in his arms several times, even though she pushed him away with increasing firmness. Finally his hand came to rest on her bottom as she walked. Her temper snapped and both Scarlet and Adam turned with surprise at the sound of the slap that rang along the corridor. Blue’s cheek showed the red imprint of her hand as she stormed ahead, her own face red with embarrassment.
“Bitch!” Blue snarled after her.
“Leave her alone!” Adam snapped back, goaded beyond endurance.
“Or what, wimp? I could flatten you with one hand behind my back,” Blue retorted, pushing Adam against the wall.
“Yes, but even with one hand in a sling, I can break your neck,” Scarlet warned evenly, quietly coming to stand behind Blue. “Now, I know this must be a difficult time for you … both of you - but fighting won’t get us anywhere. If I was you, Blue-boy, I’d apologise pretty damn quickly to Symphony and try to behave like the gentleman you are - or at least, the gentleman Captain Blue is.”
“If she doesn’t like it, she knows what she can do!” Blue retorted. “You know, Paul, I’m getting tired of trying to fathom her moods and of making allowances for the ‘wrong time of the month’. I mean, who wants a girlfriend who’s got a permanent headache? If a guy had a headache that often the doctors would operate,” Blue pronounced loudly in the direction of the distant figure of Symphony.
Angrily Adam pushed him off and with a glance at Scarlet hurried after her.
Blue watched him with a scornful expression. “He is so under her thumb, it’s painful,” he said. He turned to see Scarlet’s frozen expression and laughed. “Don’t bother to argue with me, Paul: I know that’s what you think. I can read you like a book, you know, and you’re so frigging obvious sometimes.” He sauntered off in the direction of Captain Blue’s quarters. Captain Scarlet followed him, wondering, unhappily, if his friend really could read him that well.
It took longer than expected for the pair of them to get dressed. Adam announced his intention to shower and shave and went straight into the shower, whilst Blue chose not to shave and prowled around the room waiting his turn in the shower. After Adam had showered and Blue disappeared into the bathroom, there was a constant sound of bickering. Then there was the argument over a favoured sweatshirt which ended when Blue snatched it away from Adam, tearing a seam as he did so. Disgusted he threw it into a corner, grabbed a fresh T-shirt and yanked that over his head petulantly. Adam shrugged and fished out a grey shirt instead. They both selected designer jeans - Captain Blue’s preferred off-duty dress - from the collection in the wardrobe. To his amusement Scarlet counted a dozen pairs - sometimes it amazed him what Adam spent his money on.
Symphony sat in the only armchair, refusing to speak even to Scarlet. The latter sighed, he could foresee a long night ahead.
The group walked together to the canteen, Adam and Symphony in front with Scarlet keeping a wary eye on Blue, as he swaggered along enjoying the looks of surprise on the faces of the people they encountered. Blue took particular note of the female staff members they passed, turning to remark to Scarlet in a voice that carried down the corridor, “Look at the curves on that honey!” as a particularly shapely ensign skittered past, her eyes wide with shock. Blue walked backwards for awhile, continuing to watch the girl, despite her obvious embarrassment.
“That’s going a bit far.” Scarlet’s amusement had long since evaporated.
“Lighten up, Paul. There are plenty more fish in the sea - or should I say birds in the sky?” Blue joked, winking at a confused technician as he brushed unnecessarily close to her in walking through the canteen door. He laughed excitedly at her flustered reaction and with his hands tucked into his jeans, set off in a jaunty walk towards the food counter.
Adam ate sparingly, whilst Blue devoured a large pizza with fries and 2 beers. Scarlet watched in fascination, but Symphony was close to tears throughout their meal. Even Adam’s quiet concern could not console her and she left them just as soon as she was able to use the excuse of her impending duty shift.
By the time Scarlet deposited the twins back at sickbay, he was getting worried. Fawn’s tests may have proved that the pair was identical in every physical way; but there was a world of difference in their nature. There was undoubtedly an animal magnetism about Blue - which quite over-shadowed his quieter ‘twin’. Blue radiated good health and vitality, he was energetic and voluble, but incredibly disruptive, restless and easily bored, and he saw no reason why he should not always have his own way. Adam rarely spoke and when he did it was short and to the point. He watched his twin with a stern curiosity, either unable, or declining, to disguise his obvious disapproval. Whenever the two clashed, which they did frequently, Blue would rattle off a volley of critical abuse, getting more enraged when Adam shrugged it off with disdainful indifference.
Doctor Fawn soon found it impossible to keep them together in sickbay. In between bouts of tormenting Adam, Blue amused himself flirting outrageously with the nurses and managed to set a couple of them against each other. Foreseeing the ruination of all his hard work at creating an efficient team of medical staff, Doctor Fawn asked the Colonel to allow them both the run of the base. Delighted with his freedom, Blue departed gleefully in search of further amusement, with the somewhat reluctant Captain Scarlet as a companionable guard. Adam, with a sigh of relief, chose to remain in sickbay.
Later that evening, Scarlet went back to sickbay to get a medical release from Doctor Fawn so that he could spend the night in his own quarters. He had left Blue playing poker with Ochre and Magenta - under the strict condition that they only wager for candy. Both Captains were expert poker players and Scarlet wasn’t sure the ‘new’ Blue wouldn’t get angry at being fleeced for real money.
With Fawn’s agreement, Adam had been to fetch some of Captain Blue’s personal music collection for his entertainment. Since when he had shut himself in his room listening to Bach and Telemann.
“I could get heartily sick of fugues,” Fawn complained mildly, as he examined the rapidly healing gunshot wounds.
Scarlet grinned, “Yeah, they are an acquired taste. Adam once told me - the real Adam, I mean - that he liked them because they were so mathematical.”
“Well, at least he can’t sing along to them,” Fawn smiled.
Scarlet chuckled, “That’s right enough - You should always count your blessings, Edward.”
He went back to the poker game to discover Ochre and Magenta by themselves in the Officers lounge.
“Where’s Blue gone?” he asked, annoyed that they had let him wander off alone.
Ochre looked up, a little sheepishly. “He wiped us out - ate every damn candy and then he went off to find something else to do.”
“He beat you - both?” Scarlet was incredulous.
Magenta nodded. “I never knew Blue could play poker like that.” Scarlet bet that Captain Blue wouldn’t have known it either. Magenta continued, “He’s usually over cautious and you can get him that way.” Ochre was nodding in agreement.
“Did he say where he was going?”
“Nope; just that this place was - what was it he said exactly, Patrick?”
“More boring then Boston,” Magenta grinned.
Scarlet had no luck in tracking Blue down, so he made his way to the Control Room, where the Colonel was busy with paperwork. Lieutenant Green was off on his dinner break and the communications panel was manned by one of his deputies, Lieutenant Claret.
“Colonel, may I speak with you, in private?” he asked. Colonel White glanced at Scarlet’s worried face and nodded. He pressed the switch that dropped the Perspex privacy wall from the ceiling to isolate his desk and the stools around it.
“What’s wrong, Captain?”
“It’s about… the Captain Blues.”
That came as no surprise to the Colonel, who already had several reports from senior Lieutenants and technicians on his desk, about Blue’s behaviour towards female members of their teams.
Scarlet paused, seeking the right words. “Colonel, they may be identical physically, but they are exact opposites. Adam is more like the Captain Blue we all expect to see - except that he’s too passive, he doesn’t even try to tone down Blue’s bad behaviour.”
“How would you suggest he do that, Captain?” the Colonel asked.
Scarlet shrugged. “Damned if I know,” he admitted. “I’m no prude, Colonel…” Colonel White showed no surprise at this, “but Blue says the most outrageous things to the female staff - not that they seem to object all that much - but there are times and places for that sort of behaviour and Cloudbase isn’t the place and now isn’t the time!”
“So, what do you deduce from this, Captain? You know him as well as anyone - and Symphony is finding it hard to be objective about this. Do you have doubts that either of these men is really Captain Blue?”
Scarlet puffed out his cheeks and shrugged. “Colonel, I have seen Adam Svenson behaving this badly - but only once, years ago, when we were on leave in Amsterdam, as it happens. He got completely oiled and was obnoxious for the rest of the evening. He was back to normal the next day, apart from the mother of all hangovers; it isn’t his natural behaviour, but he is capable of it.” Scarlet grinned at the memory of the night Adam - in the spirit of enquiry, as he put it but really because of a bet with Captain Ochre - had tried to overcome his friend’s inability to get drunk - a legacy of his retrometabolism.
“Besides, Blue knows things no impostor could know,” he added thoughtfully, “Somehow; we have two aspects of the one personality - personified. I keep coming back to that machine, Colonel, which was the only thing Ad - eh - Captain Blue - experienced that I didn’t when we were in Prague. Have the boffins discovered anything about it?”
“It’s going to take time, Captain, but if that machine did do something to Captain Blue we will find out what.”
“And correct it, Colonel?”
“If we can, yes. In the meantime, I suggest you go and find the missing ‘twin’ and keep an eye on him. He’s not making himself many friends amongst the team leaders,” Colonel White said reflectively. It was something of a surprise to him just how many personal relationships amongst his staff Blue’s behaviour was flushing out into the open!
Doctor Fawn was the earliest visitor at Scarlet’s quarters the next morning.
“Making house calls now, Doc? I was on my way to see you to be signed fully fit for duty.”
“Have you seen Blue?” Fawn asked shortly.
“Not since I left him with you late last night. Why?”
“You mean he’s vanished?”
Fawn shrugged. “He wouldn’t settle. Adam went to sleep immediately but not Blue and now, we can’t find him.”
“Tried the oracle?” Scarlet paged Lieutenant Green. “Ah, morning Lieutenant, do you, by any remote chance know where our friend Blue is? Doctor Fawn has mislaid him.”
“He’s in the brig,” the communications officer replied.
“Whatever for?” Fawn cried in alarm.
“Fighting. He was in a brawl with Ensign Tucker of Engineering over Leading Technician Lesley Saville. It seems that Ensign Tucker took exception to Blue’s attempted seduction of his girlfriend and he took a swing at Blue who promptly laid him out and, according to Doctor Tan, he has broken Tucker’s collar bone. The Colonel will pass sentence at Requestmen and Defaulters later this morning.” It was apparent that Lieutenant Green was trying hard not to laugh through this recital.
“Now, that really doesn’t sound like the old Blue,” Scarlet said shaking his head at Fawn, who was already on his way out of the room. Gathering his red tunic Scarlet followed.
As Chief Medical Officer of Cloudbase, Doctor Fawn could over-rule anyone - even the Colonel, at a pinch - so the security guard allowed him to collect the still unrepentant and increasingly restless Blue and remove him to sickbay, on the strength of his assertion that the man had a black eye that needed treatment. Once there Fawn consigned him to his room but agreed to order him breakfast.
“I’ll see what Adam wants,” Scarlet offered opening the next door. Adam was still asleep and Scarlet went to awake him. But when he looked down he had second thoughts; Adam was pale, his face drenched in sweat and he was breathing with difficulty. He called to Fawn who was arguing with Blue as to just how many fried eggs he could have with his ham.
Fawn ordered Scarlet from the room and began to examine his patient. Moments later, Scarlet saw the nurses’ light come on. Nurse Tanner gave him a brief smile as she adjusted her cap and went in to the Doctor.
“Something up with misery-guts?” Blue asked from his doorway.
“You were told to stay there - even I heard that,” Scarlet said briskly. “You’ll be in big trouble when the Colonel hears about last night. I should try and keep on the right side of the Doctor if I was you, he may be your only defence.”
Blue shrugged with a devil may care grin. “She was a bit of alright though - well worth it!”
“What on Earth do you think you were doing?” Scarlet asked incredulously. “And what about Karen?”
“I went round there first but she just had another go at me - man, does that bitch have a temper - so I went to find a more amenable squeeze.”
“And you found Technician Saville?”
Blue grinned. “Yeah, she’s always had this thing for me!”
“Has she?” Scarlet asked in surprise. “Well, if you say so - but you’ve never taken advantage of it before.”
“I can’t imagine why not!” Blue grinned again.
“Something called good breeding, which you seem to have lost your share of,” Scarlet muttered scathingly.
Nurse Tanner came out some moments later and went back into the room with a saline drip.
“It looks bad,” Blue smirked callously. “I guess we’ll see soon enough which of us is the real Adam Svenson.”
He went back into his room, whistling loudly. Despite himself, Scarlet smiled - just like the real Captain Blue he could not carry a tune!
Fawn soon had Adam stabilised and conscious again. Scarlet was allowed in to see him, after a bit of special pleading. In all the excitement about Blue, he felt, somewhat guiltily, that Adam had been neglected.
There was a shaky but genuine smile on the man’s pale face as Scarlet edged in. “Paul, how nice to see you,” he said struggling to sit up.
“I’ve seen you looking better. What’s up?”
“I’m just tired. Nurse Tanner was telling me about Blue’s night on the tiles. I wish I had that energy - or any energy just now. I wanted to see Karen before she went on duty but now I’ll have to wait and hope she’ll pay me a visit. Doctor Fawn says I’m here for the whole day.”
“I’ll pass on your message; I’m sure she’ll drop by. She’s not mad with you, after all.”
“No? I understand he upset her and if he is me and I am him…”
“I am the Walrus, Googoogachoo.” Scarlet chanted irrepressibly.
“It makes as much sense as anything else, right now,” Adam gave a wry smile.
Scarlet perched on the edge of the bed. “I can’t understand why Blue is thriving and you’re not.”
“I was thinking about that last night; he certainly has more pep than I do. It’s strange, sometimes I feel completely exhausted and yet I’ve done very little, other times when I’d expect to be tired, I feel quite okay. I don’t know if Blue feels it the same, he hardly seems to sit still.”
Scarlet nodded, Blue had spent the entire evening on the go.
Adam continued with his musing, “It all seems fantastical, but we know the Mysterons’ have powers beyond our knowledge. I was wondering if that machine hadn’t just cloned me - Captain Blue, I mean - but had somehow split me - that is Captain Blue - kinda like a Jekyll and Hyde. I think I am as rational as ever but I seem to… feel less than I remember… Captain Blue… does. I hate to say it, but I can see shades of my adolescent self in that Blue.” Adam gave up on his attempts not to speak of himself as the original personality. “I can remember my Father lecturing me on how I would become a delinquent if I didn’t learn to control myself. I reckon I’d have ended up very much like Blue.”
Scarlet sensed Adam’s embarrassment. “I shouldn’t worry too much about that, Blue-boy - I bet every dad says that to his teenage son - mine certainly did - frequently.” Scarlet was rewarded by a gleam of delight in his friend’s pale eyes at his unconscious use of his nickname.
“Could be, I guess, but what if the… irrational side gains control over the rational - that’s what happened to Jekyll, isn’t it? He couldn’t control Hyde in the end. That would tie in with the Mysteron threat to use the power of our minds against us. Maybe I’ll just become a cipher and Blue will be the only functional one left?”
Scarlet frowned at the thought and Adam continued, “I also think whatever did happened to me in Prague was supposed to happen to you because when you were shot, Captain Black ordered those men to take you to that machine - the geminator.”
“Why would they want to make two of me? It hardly seems likely, Adam, they hate me beyond reason.”
“Nevertheless, that machine was designed to work on you; I’m convinced of it. When I ran through the arch, I must have triggered it and this is what it did to me - but it may not have created a physical duplicate of you at all.”
“Okay, but what could it have done to me that would have this effect on you?”
“Perhaps they were looking for a way to regain control of you and it was meant to separate… let’s call it - your humanity - from your Mysteron-side. They would expect the Mysteron side of your personality to be the strongest element so you’d be open to their control again. With me, it just divided my personality.”
“What makes you think the Mysteron side of me is stronger?” said Scarlet defensively, he always found it difficult to discuss his unique situation dispassionately - even with his best friend.
Adam smiled placatingly and explained, “I don’t necessarily think any such thing - what matters is what the Mysterons think. In humans, the irrational side is stronger - emotions can govern us all, if we let them, but to the Mysterons, your humanity is your weakness. They would expect that side of you - the human side- to be subservient.”
“And you think that’s what this geminator does - is that what you called it?”
“That’s what Black called it. He told the other Mysterons to ‘Take him to the geminator.’ I think the Mysterons have developed a machine that alters the mind and the personality of the subject - not just a simple cloning machine. If a cloning machine could ever be called simple,” he concluded with a thoughtful shrug.
“Svenson, I hate to say this but you’re one damned clever Yankee.”
“Only half of one damned clever Yankee, if I’m right. Like it or not, that foul-mouthed, libidinous, boor next door is the other half,” Adam spoke with considerable venom.
Scarlet raised his eyebrows. “Have you ever fancied Technician Saville?”
“Lesley? - She’s a nice girl. We chat sometimes when I’m ‘tinkering with engines’ as you so disparagingly call it. Why?” Adam was surprised by the change of subject.
“Did you know, eh, what was it Blue said? - ‘she’s always had a thing about you’?” Scarlet quoted.
Adam nodded. “It’s harmless enough. I can live with it - if she can. Actually,” he confessed blushing slightly, “there’s a few of them who seem to have ‘a thing’ about me. Karen calls them my acolytes! I just ignore it and them, but it bugs her. I think that’s why she gets so cross sometimes. It’s not because of what I’ve done, but because one of them got too close or did or said something!” He smiled at his sniggering friend. “You have a dedicated group of acolytes too, didn’t you know?”
Scarlet blushed as livid as his tunic. “Get away!”
Adam laughed, “Really, and I bet you Dianne knows who they are too.”
“Rubbish!” Scarlet was so clearly embarrassed that Adam indulged in a little gentle teasing.
“Well, what do you expect? We dash about saving the world and getting into impossible situations - both of us surviving merely by the skin of our perfect white teeth! I am led to believe, by a couple of experts in the subject, that neither of us is exactly… displeasing to look at.” He grinned and for a fleeting moment Paul saw the old Adam Svenson lying there.
“Experts,” Scarlet queried beginning to suspect he was having his leg pulled. “It wouldn’t be one red-head and one blonde, would it?”
“I cannot reveal my sources,” Adam said poker-faced, but fighting a smile.
“They’re ‘aving you on, mate - they bowf fink we’re bladdy gorgeous!” Scarlet grinned, lapsing into a ‘mockney’ accent.
Adam began to laugh and coughed violently. Scarlet looked at him with concern. There were still dark rings beneath his eyes. “I’d better leave you - get some rest. I’ll go and tell the Colonel about your theory, so he can get the boffins to weave some magic to reverse this voodoo.”
“They’d better hurry up then,” Adam whispered quietly, his breathing sounding harsh again. “I don’t think this will last long.”
Alarmed, Scarlet left the room, glancing back to see that the tired blue eyes were closed again and the breathing had slowed once more as the patient slept.
Colonel White listened with interest to Adam’s hypothesis.
“It is not as far-fetched as it seems,” he mused and he told Scarlet about Fencl’s cloning experiments, “we have finally managed to gain access to the papers he submitted to the World Government in his bid for funds - and that was no easy task in itself! Doctor Giardello has reported that although some of the machinery in the Prague warehouse is the same as that described in the papers, a great deal is new and they can only guess as to its use.”
The Colonel looked intently at his premier officer. “Do you remember being handcuffed to the machine?” Scarlet shook his head. “We couldn’t be sure at the time, if it was just because you were the officer they caught, but if Blue remembers Black ordering you there, it must be the case that it was developed to be used on a Mysteronised subject and that might make a difference. Giardello has requested the assistance of either Lieutenant Green or Captain Magenta to decode some of the computer programs.”
“Surely Magenta would be best at that?” Scarlet interrupted. “He’s never been known to fail with computer programs - at least according to him, he hasn’t.”
“Quite. I was considering sending them both down along with Doctor Fawn for good measure,” Colonel White confessed. “What you have told me about Adam’s deterioration leads me to suspect speed might be of more importance than we originally thought.”
He punched a keypad and logged in to the medical reports that Doctor Fawn posted for him and read in silence for a while. Scarlet tried to resist the temptation to read the report, upside down, from over the edge of the desk.
“Hmm, the Doctor says that there is an increase in ‘general debility’ in Adam’s case. Nothing he can pinpoint, but he is not as well as he was,” White sighed. “It takes a qualified doctor to tell us that? I wonder sometimes if medicine is all its cracked up to be.”
Scarlet smiled dutifully well aware the Colonel was as worried as he at Adam’s decline. “I probably should not say this, Colonel, but I’m going to anyway,” he said in a rush of confidence. “I’m sure Adam is our Adam Svenson - I think he is the original - just something about the way he spoke to me and an expression or two on his face - it was him. But, I suppose we must assume that if he was ‘split in two’ part of his original nature is Blue - although it pains me, almost as much as it pained Adam, to admit it!”
“Whatever the truth of the situation, Captain, we must do our best for both of them. If it proves impossible to… reunite them, we have to create lives for them both.”
“Heaven forbid!” Scarlet breathed. “Until this morning I never realised how much I would miss that annoying Yank!”
Lieutenant Green was, as usual, excited about being given an away mission. He so rarely got to be involved in the ‘nitty gritty’ of a case that every trip away from base on business remained a pleasure. The Captains all had a tendency to treat him very much as an inexperienced youngster, much to his irritation - he was thirty-four now and knew a darn sight more about Cloudbase and its complex computers than they did! However, he was too good natured and he both liked and respected them all too much to let it get to him - very often. Only occasionally did he make the point about his seniority by assigning them to additional communication duties.
He had already spent the best part of two hours with Captain Magenta downloading information and reviewing the data they already had, before going to throw some things in a tote bag. Now he was hovering around the SPJ hangar waiting for the pilot to arrive.
Symphony pushed through the door with Magenta alongside and Scarlet behind him.
“Here already, Griff? - you’re keen,” she smiled as she punched the code to open the aircraft door. Green just smiled broadly and almost hopped from one foot to the other as he stood aside to let Symphony and Magenta enter the plane first.
“Are you coming with us, Captain Scarlet?” he asked
“No, I’m confined to base for now. I start my duty roster again with Captain Grey in twenty-five minutes. I just wanted to see you all off and wish you luck.”
Magenta stopped and turned in the doorway. “Don’t worry Paul, we won’t let Adam down.”
“I know, Patrick.”
Magenta had, at one time, seen himself as something of a rival to Blue for the affections of Symphony Angel, but now he counted Captain Blue as one of his closest friends. Blue had never thrown his criminal past in Magenta’s face even when told that his father’s business was one of the ones defrauded by Magenta’s crime syndicate; in fact, Blue had laughed at the revelation!
There was a crash as the door flew open and Doctor Fawn struggled through with two heavy boxes on a trolley. Scarlet went to help him load them and then they waited as the Doctor went to collect his personal luggage.
“Come on, Edward!” Scarlet called as Fawn strolled back into sight. “Griff’s gonna bust with the excitement if you don’t leave soon.”
Symphony waited until the Doctor was strapped into his seat and then she went down to Scarlet. “I wasn’t able to talk to Adam - he was asleep when I stopped by. Please tell him I did call and give him this.”
She kissed his cheek.
“I’m not giving him that - except verbally!" Scarlet teased her.
"Okay," she smiled. "You can keep that one for yourself - but give him my love and say I will call again when I get back." She smiled up at his amused face and spontaneously reached out to hug him. She had always liked Paul, who had always been such a good friend to her and Adam. He had known of their relationship almost since it started and had sometimes acted as an intermediary between them, during their not infrequent estrangements - usually when she had boxed herself into a corner and was too proud to admit she was wrong. She knew Paul regarded Adam in the light of the brother he had never had - just as he teased her by calling her 'Sis' on occasion - and she was well aware that Adam preferred Paul to at least one of the brothers he did have!
“And should I give the same message to Blue?” Scarlet asked cheekily hugging her back.
“Certainly not! If you must tell him something, say I look forward to blacking his other eye!”
“You and Ensign Tucker both,” Scarlet laughed.
“Tucker be damned! I blacked his eye for him and will again if he tries it on with me any more!”
Scarlet was impressed. “Karen, maybe I should not even ask you this, but when did you know which one was the real Adam Svenson?”
The look she gave him spoke volumes. “I never doubted it. My Adam would never have copped a feel like that when he lifted me to that chair. Have you ever seen him do anything like that in public? ”
Scarlet had to admit that he hadn't. “Then why does Blue upset you so?” he asked a little confused by her active dislike of Blue.
She struggled to put her feelings into words. “Because I love Adam Svenson - and I know how mortified he is to realise that Blue must be a part of himself. And it really shook him that even you, Paul, his closest friend, weren’t sure at the very start which of them was real.”
“I am sure now,” Scarlet assured her, colouring under her scrutiny.
She nodded. “Then tell him. I think he needs to know.”
“Have you told him?”
“The best way I know how,” she said as she turned back to the plane, where Green was calling for her.
Scarlet was still smirking when he met Grey in the Officers Lounge.
At the warehouse in Prague the investigation of the geminator was proceeding under the control of Dr Giardello - the senior research scientist from Spectrum Intelligence's R&D department. Giardello was the man credited with the development of both the electron ray gun and the Mysteron detectors - so vital to Spectrum's battle with the elusive Mysterons. He had the reputation of being a hard task master and of being totally dedicated to his current project. The three other research assistants working under Giardello gave every appearance of welcoming the Cloudbase contingent as blessed relief forces.
Doctor Giardello was impressed by the application of the Cloudbase officers. Magenta and Green settled down to work as soon as they arrived, while Doctor Fawn reviewed the progress from the medical side. They were all hampered because the notes they’d found were in Czech and although Commander Ziak was acting as translator, his knowledge of medical and technical terms was limited. After some time floundering through the translation, Fawn clamped a hand to his head and cursed.
“Doctor Javorsky!” He plonked his cap on his head and activated his cap mic. “Claret, it’s me. Doctor Fawn, that’s who…. Yes, well never mind now. Is Doctor Javorsky on base? She is - good. I’m faxing up some documents, I want her to translate them as soon as possible. What? I don’t care if she is off duty - or what time it is! Tell her I need them. Yes, thank you, Claret, I will square it with the Doctor myself later.”
He looked up to see everyone staring at him - “I’m an idiot - Doctor Javorsky is from Bratislava and I bet she can speak Czech.”
Giardello smiled. “And she’ll know the jargon too. Good thinking Doctor.”
Magenta and Green exchanged pitying glances and returned to their computer terminals.
A few hours later, Colonel White, Captain Scarlet and Symphony Angel sat in the conference room with Doctor Eva Javorsky and listened to the reports from Prague.
“So, whilst the programs do contain a lot of material we can still only guess at, we could - we think - re-write it to reverse… whatever it is it is doing,” Magenta concluded hesitantly.
“You think?” Scarlet echoed.
“Yes, well it’s not an exact science,” hedged Magenta.
“I rather thought it was,” the Colonel commented wryly.
“Sir, this is an alien program - it has properties we cannot hope to understand, even if it wasn’t written in an unfamiliar language!” Magenta protested.
Lieutenant Green interjected. “We have managed to translate about a third of it - so we are confident…”
“Quite,” Magenta qualified.
“We are confident we can reverse it, without too much risk,” Green repeated with emphasis. “It’s just a matter of semantics,” he stared challengingly at his superior officer. Magenta shrugged.
“For you, maybe,” Symphony snapped angrily, “but you have no right to decide whether or not to risk Adam Svenson’s life on the off-chance you have understood the semantics of a computer program! If Adam is not to be allowed to make his own decisions, then I should be allowed to speak on his behalf - which I at least have some right to do - we’ve been lovers for years.”
The Colonel cleared his throat loudly and Symphony gave a huge sigh before her temper burst its already strained confines and she snapped, “Face it Colonel, Adam and I don’t spend our evenings together playing canasta!”
“Symphony Angel - there is no call for that kind of behaviour,” the Colonel admonished.
“Yes there is, Colonel. I’m sorry, but we sit here listening to this talk about… semantics whilst Adam is getting weaker and Blue struts about behaving like a…tom-cat! It seems to me, that whatever the state of play is down there we are running out of time and options up here.”
“You will calm down Symphony or you will leave,” Colonel White said at his frostiest.
Silenced but not cowed, she folded her arms and pressed her lips together as if to keep the words inside.
Doctor Fawn asked, “Eva is that true? Is Adam getting weaker?”
“Unfortunately it seems so, Doctor. The patient Adam is drifting in and out of consciousness.”
“You have tried to stabilise him?”
“Doctor Tan is there now - there is always a member of the medical staff with him. But, if I may say - there is something in the notes which I wish to bring to the discussion - Ziak may have translated some of this already and I would like your opinion if you have already seen it.”
“Please Doctor - just tell us the facts,” the Colonel ordered.
Eva Javorsky, a recent addition to Spectrum currently doing her training with Fawn on Cloudbase, flushed slightly and began, “In some of the notes on the monkey…”
“The monkey? Adam’s not a monkey!”
“I won’t warn you again Symphony, you will just be removed. Continue Doctor.”
“It was with the monkey,” she gave the Angel a sympathetic smile, “that they first mention that after the specimens were replicated -- some of the clones were more aggressive and became stronger. Whilst the vigour of these specimens increased, the other - less aggressive specimens declined until eventually they… ceased.”
“Ceased?” Scarlet asked. His eyebrows rose in alarm. “You mean they died?”
“I mean they say ceased,” she replied checking the documents she held before her on the table. “They speak of absorption or subjugation, almost as interchangeable terms when describing this process.”
Fawn considered a moment and then nodded. “Come to think of it, every time Blue went AWOL and got into mischief, Adam was weaker.”
There was a silence in the room as they considered the implications of this. Symphony stifled a sob and dropped her head to hide her emotions whilst she struggled to regain her self-control. Scarlet, annoyed at the apparent insensitivity of his colleagues, knelt alongside her chair and encircled her in his arms. Her head came to rest against the vivid red of his tunic with a grateful sigh.
“So, does it follow that the more passive Adam is, the more Blue’s energy levels increase? Or is it simply a case of whoever is the stronger automatically absorbs the strength of the other?” Colonel White mused.
“We cannot be sure. Blue has been the most active of the pair, but I would suggest that he is the clone. From my observations of them, I lean towards the theory that Adam is our original Captain Blue,” Fawn began.
Symphony looked up and gave a snort of contempt - if Fawn had only just reached that conclusion, then Adam was in trouble!
“How would this have affected Captain Scarlet?” the Colonel asked.
“That doesn’t matter anyway,” Scarlet snapped. “It’s Adam we have to worry about.”
“Is there any indication that this process can halted, Doctor?” the Colonel asked Doctor Javorsky, ignoring the outburst.
Javorsky shook her head. “The records are not concerned with that - it seems that this was what they wanted. However the process was supposed to affect Captain Scarlet, they were pleased to see it happening with their experiments. Initially they speak of total absorption taking a matter of days and often the specimen died, but as the absorption rates increased and the process became quicker, the stronger, surviving clones were Mysteronised - whether by retrometabolism or some other method is unrecorded. Obviously they knew and saw no need to record it.”
“What about ADAM?” Symphony asked defiantly, wiping her eyes with her hand and daring anyone to criticise her. “Do you mean he will become a Mysteron, once this parasite has drained him of his strength?”
Scarlet stood up and looked straight at the Colonel. “The most pertinent part of Doctor Javorsky’s theory is that this all took a couple of days. Symphony is right; we are running out of time, regardless of which of them is the real Captain Blue.”
“Doctor Javorsky, I think we may need to look at calming Blue down to try to slow this process if we cannot halt it,” Fawn urged, preferring not to answer Symphony’s question.
“How would you suggest we do that?” Scarlet asked, adding with sudden anxiety, “I left him playing soccer with some of the guys in the sports hall.”
“You did what?” the Colonel snapped. “He was under orders to stay in sickbay - there or the brig!”
“He’d have wrecked the brig if we left him there,” Scarlet explained. “And he was playing rock music in the sickbay and singing along with it so loudly that poor Tan was getting fraught. I thought the soccer might tire him out.”
“It might also drain more stamina from Adam,” Javorsky remarked quietly, well aware that no-one wanted to voice this fact.
Colonel White opened a communication channel to Captain Ochre. “Captain, I want you to go down to the sports hall and arrest - the individual known as Blue. He is to be taken to sickbay and placed under restraint. A security guard is to remain there to prevent his leaving.”
“SIG, Colonel,” they heard Ochre say.
The Colonel then called Doctor Tan. “Captain Ochre is bringing Blue back to sickbay. He is to be placed under restraint and sedated, until further notice.”
“But Colonel, sedate him just for getting into a fight?” Tan ventured to object.
“There is more to it than that, Doctor. Doctor Fawn or Doctor Javorsky will bring you up to date on the matter.”
“Well, let’s hope that at least slows the process down. Now, I want every resource we have thrown at this problem; it is to have class one priority. Doctor Fawn, how soon do you think you’ll be ready to test the geminator machine?”
Fawn opened and closed his mouth in confusion. “Just as soon as we can, sir. We’re getting on to it right away!”
“Good.” The Colonel looked up at the others around the table, “well, go on then, I am sure you can all find something useful to do!”
Scarlet helped Symphony out of the room.
White watched them go and once alone, his head sank into his hands. “Dear God,” he whispered, “don’t let me loose another good man….”
Prague was crawling with Spectrum security forces, so Captain Black was keeping a low profile. There was no way he could get back into the warehouse undetected. He had seen Magenta, Green and Fawn arrive and surmised that the geminator had begun to have an effect on Captain Blue. So even if they had not got Scarlet, the mission could not be called a complete failure when they had managed to incapacitate Blue. His scientists calculated when the subjugation would be complete, although there was the possibility of irregularities because the machine had been calibrated for Scarlet’s unique metabolism and neither had Blue received the full exposure deemed necessary even for a normal Earthman.
Yet, however long it took, Captain Blue would become a Mysteron agent - following instructions relayed to him through Captain Black. He would be undetectable by Spectrum’s Mysteron detectors. He would create havoc in the Spectrum organisation and that would leave them free to capture Scarlet and use the geminator on him. Earthmen were so unpredictable that it was impossible to be precise as to future events - still time would tell and they had all the time in the world.
In the sickbay on Cloudbase, Karen sat curled up on a spacious easy chair beside Adam’s bed. Casually dressed in a short sleeved, tunic dress of deep coral and open-toed sandals, her hair loose on her shoulders, she looked the picture of serenity, but anyone watching her would have seen that although she had a book open on her knee, she had not turned a page for over an hour. She was watching the gentle, yet reassuringly regular bleeps of the machines and the minimal rise and fall of her lover’s chest as he slept.
The conference had been torture for her. To hear them discussing the theories about Adam’s condition so stoically had been almost as much as she could take. She tormented herself with wondering - what if she had unwittingly made him worse by sending Blue away in such a rage that he had not only seduced Lesley Saville, but also fought Graeme Tucker. Surely, those incidents must have depleted Adam’s strength - if this parasite theory was correct.
She recalled uneasily how she had discovered him in his quarters, going through his music collection and had stopped to speak to him. She had begun to explain that she believed him to be the real Captain Blue, assuring him that whatever happened she would always love him. She had thrown her arms around him, offering herself to him as proof of her love. She had seen the…gratitude in his eyes for her belief in him, but he had been uncharacteristically cold with her as well - and quite unlike his usually assured self. He had turned aside her caresses with gentle smile of apology and a shake of his head.
The contrast with Blue’s open admiration and desire for her was startling and she wondered, a little sadly, if things would ever be the same between them.
She turned to the bed as he stirred in his sleep and gave a deep sigh. He had slept for almost four hours now, since the dishevelled Captain Ochre had brought Blue in and forcibly strapped him to his bed whilst Doctor Tan sedated him and peace had reigned in the sickbay.
She had spoken at length to Tan about her concerns and although it had taken a lot of cajoling to convince him to sign her off as unfit to fly, he had done so eventually and she was determined to stay where she was. It would take the Colonel himself and every rule in the book to get her to leave!
The door opened and she turned, half expecting to see the Colonel, but it was Rhapsody Angel, in uniform and carrying her helmet, standing hesitantly by the door. She ventured to step inside, concerned to see just how drawn her friend looked; Karen always felt everything so intensely.
“Any change?” she asked quietly, encouraged by the welcoming smile.
Karen shook her head. “He’s sleeping.”
“Poor Adam, he looks exhausted,” Dianne commented coming closer.
Karen knew that no one outside of the conference and the senior medical staff knew the latest theory on his condition, so she couldn’t accuse her friend of deliberately rubbing salt in her self-inflicted wounds.
“You haven’t seen him for a while though, have you? He doesn’t look worse - just much the same,” she said, her voice shaking, despite her effort to sound upbeat.
“No - not since he was first… duplicated.” Dianne grinned. “I guess he won’t like to remember that when he’s better, neither of them had a stitch on!”
“No, that won’t please him at all,” Karen agreed, smiling.
“I always thought Scandinavians were broad-minded about that sort of thing.”
“Must be all those Puritans lurking in his Mother’s family tree.”
Both women giggled.
“Sssh,” Karen put a finger to her lips, “we’ll wake him up.”
“Too late you already have,” a quiet voice said from the bed and Adam opened his eyes.
“How are you, dearest?” Karen asked, dropping her book from her knee as she stood to smile down at him.
“Embarrassed; I don’t like being talked about as if I’m not there.”
“Eavesdroppers never hear well of themselves,” Dianne said silkily. “So it serves you right, dearest, for listening!”
He smiled at her. “I ought to know by now that I can never win an argument against the Angels.”
Dianne nodded emphatically and showed him the basket of fruit she had selected from the canteen. “A present for you - I understand they are obligatory on hospital visits so I brought you this.”
“Thank you, it’s very kind of you to bother. Paul always says he gets so much fruit when he’s in here for any length of time, that he can’t face eating any more when he’s out. They do feed us in here, you know.”
“Yes, but not the serious stuff one needs to really get well,” Dianne said putting the basket down on the bed. “Look beneath the healthy stuff and what do we find?”
Karen lifted an apple and grinned. “Chocolate!” She fished out a bar and broke it. “Share and share alike,” she handed a row of squares to Dianne and keeping a row, put the rest on Adam’s chest.
“When the going gets tough the tough eat chocolate,” Dianne said chewing contentedly.
“Shall I break some off for you?” Karen asked, as Adam made no attempt to do so.
“I still have just enough strength to do that for myself,” he sighed as he saw the hurt in her eyes. “I’m not hungry, honey, that’s all.”
“Got to build up your strength, you know,” Dianne urged. “Can’t have you lazing around here for too long. Who’s going to keep Paul on the straight and narrow otherwise?”
“Not Blue, that’s for sure,” Karen said.
“Where is he?” Adam asked, obligingly chewing a square of chocolate, even though he did not really want it.
“Asleep next door; I put my head round there first, by mistake,” Dianne explained.
“No food parcels for Blue, then?” Adam asked.
“I saw him in the canteen at lunchtime - the amount he was eating, he’ll need a new uniform soon.” Dianne reached across and helped herself to more chocolate.
Adam proffered the bar to Karen with a wry grin. “Well, he can pay for it, I’m not going to.”
“Hey, I wonder if you’ll get two lots of salary whilst you’re in two minds!” Dianne quipped. Then seeing the distress on Karen’s face she added hastily, “Sorry, that was tactless.”
“I thought it was rather amusing. I shall raise it with the Colonel next time he drops by. Actually he’s as likely to say I owe them money for two lots of upkeep,” he said with a friendly pat on Dianne’s arm.
She smiled her thanks at him. “Don’t let him spin you that line, Adam. Oh, by the way, I have this for you from me and the other girls - it’s a sort of ‘get well soon’ card, we’re all missing you in the Amber Room, Blue-boy’.” She unconsciously used Scarlet’s nickname for him and he smiled with pleasure as he took the card and read the messages inside. “Oh, and I am meant to tell you, Symphony, that the Colonel has sent for Calypso - so it looks as if you have been officially signed off for a time. How do you get away with it? I never get compassionate leave when Paul’s in dry dock.”
Karen gave a smile of satisfaction - Calypso was the senior pilot amongst the team of six standby Angels - based at Glenn Field. These pilots performed as an air-display team, much as the Angels themselves had done during their initial training for Spectrum. Then she noticed Rhapsody's sceptical glance and said disarmingly, “You’d never do any work if he allowed that. Thankfully Adam’s not here every other week.”
“Too true - oh wise American! Well, some of us still have work to do - I’m on duty in ten minutes. I will see you both again soon. Behave… at least when anyone’s looking!” Dianne leant over and kissed Adam’s cheek, waved goodbye and left them alone.
“I like Di,” said Adam handing Karen the card and watching her clear the fruit basket away.
“Me too. Now, how are you feeling? I notice you didn’t answer me last time.” She reached over to brush his fringe from his eyes.
He sighed. “I am more tired than I can ever remember, but I feel okay - nothing aches at least. Why have you been signed off? It must be bad for the Colonel to have called in Calypso.” He was all concern as he turned his blue eyes to gaze at her. “You certainly look alright to me - but then I’m partial to pretty dresses and a nice display of leg,” he teased.
She preened under his gaze, familiar with his disparaging opinions of the Spectrum uniforms that kept all the women in trousers. “Oh it’s just a general debility; there’s been an outbreak and I caught it soon after you.”
“Karen…” he said sternly.
“I am not going back on duty without you - so don’t argue,” she perched on the edge of his bed. “Move over,” she ordered.
Adam squirmed across to the far side of his bed and she kicked off her shoes and lay down beside him on the top of the duvet, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder.
“That’s better,” Karen said, snuggling as close as she could. “I’ve had a while to think about things, whilst you’ve been snoring in the arms of Morpheus…”
“I do not snore.”
“No dear,” she grinned up at him, “whatever you say.” It was an old argument. “Anyway, I thought about what it might be nice to do for your birthday next month.”
”Forgetting it gets my vote.”
“No - we can’t do that. After all it is the big one - the big 4 - 0.”
“That’s it, kick a guy when he’s down!” He was surprisingly sensitive on the subject.
She grinned playfully. “I thought we might elope. What do you think?”
Adam looked at her bleakly. “Elope? I haven’t got the strength to make it to the hanger deck!”
“No, but you will have by then.”
“Karen, we’ve talked about this - plenty of times. You know the Colonel said that if we decided to get married, one of us would have to leave Cloudbase and you were not happy when I spent those months at Koala Base training up the standby Angels.”
“What do you expect? You were stuck in the middle of nowhere with six ripe, young women hanging on your every word! So sure, I thought that was a great idea,” she laughed.
“I don’t know what you were worried about - they were not interested in me - some old fogey who learned to fly decades ago.”
“That statement only shows how little you know about impressionable young women. Just think back to what happened to one of the Angels last time you were at Koala - the poor girl fell for you hook, line and sinker!” She punched his chin playfully, “Mind you, I admit I’d trust you better now than I did when you went off with the Standby Angels. I was still doubting my own good luck then!” He shook his head at her, but he looked pleased nevertheless. She continued, “Anyway, don’t try to change the subject! What do you think of my idea?”
“It smacks of desperation, that’s what. Frightened of being left on the shelf, älskling?”
“Well, then I assume you have decided that you might as well ruin my career - or perhaps you don’t think I will have a career for much longer?”
“Adam… Don’t say things like that. It frightens me.”
”What did the conference say?”
She was reluctant to tell him, but he wouldn’t let her get away with generalities and she found herself telling him what had been said and weeping on his pyjama’d shoulder too. Adam was silent as he considered the implications. He thought of Blue, ‘asleep’ next door and of his companions in Prague, working so hard to create the possibility of returning him to what they considered normal. It took him an effort to remember that his situation seemed more upsetting to his friends than it did to him. With the single exception of his discomfiture at Blue's constant bad behaviour, he did not find his position distressing. If he had had his normal stamina, he would hardly have noticed the difference - or so he told himself.
He hugged Karen until her sniffs subsided.
“Well, I wonder,” he said and she raised herself to look at him with reddened eyes and smeared mascara. He knew that look and smiled affectionately. “Out with it - what’s wrong - what have you done now?”
“I probably made it worse, didn’t I, when I made Blue so angry and if I had… when I found you in your room…?” She hesitated to explain her fears, but relief surged through her as he grinned and shook his head.
“No, I felt so much happier after you spoke to me - it was even better than the chocolate!” he teased, using the Angels’ own benchmark for excellence. Then he added with an embarrassed frown, “Karen… I am sorry…about that… I mean, I…”
She shook her head, dismissing his concerns and traced her finger across his lips. He drew a deep breath to calm his own suddenly racing emotions and caught her teasing fingers, forcing himself to concentrate. “Perhaps it’s not like a parasite, but more like…,” he cast around for an analogy, “One milkshake with two straws in it.”
She frowned, paying only cursory attention to what he was saying as she kissed each individual finger on his hand that held her own. “What?” she asked.
“Perhaps there’s a limited amount of milk shake or life force or whatever you wanna call it…and whoever sucks hardest gets most. If Blue rushes around like a maniac he gets more milkshake. Perhaps I should do a little rushing around of my own - especially whilst he’s ‘sleeping’.”
“Do we really have to rush at it?”
“Well, the medics could look in at any time,” he grinned.
She pouted. “We’d better make sure they have something interesting to watch then.”
Adam gave a throaty laugh as he abandoned himself to her kisses.
Captain Scarlet was on edge. He always found it nerve wracking whenever his colleagues were busy with a mission he was not involved with and now was no exception. He had asked the Colonel again for permission to go to Prague and had been told that he would only be in the way. Much as he liked and respected Captain Grey, his partner for this shift duty, Brad was no replacement for Captain Blue and Scarlet was bottling up his frustration. He went back to the Control Room and finding the Colonel absent, he ordered Lieutenant Claret to put him in touch with the working party.
Lieutenant Green answered, “Hello Cloudbase, what can we do for you?”
“Lieutenant, I was wondering how things were going - have you made much progress?”
“Captain Scarlet? Hello! Well, we are getting some results, but not exactly encouraging ones. In fact, we have a small collection of dead mice so far,” Green admitted with a sigh.
“Not exactly the result we’re looking for, Griff.”
“Problem is that if we get it to work we’ve then got to work out how to do it backwards and put Blue together again,” Green confessed.
“You have worked out how to get it to work, though?”
“Yeah, sort of.”
“Given that we may be running out of time here, maybe we should speak to Adam and ask him what he wants to do? Perhaps he’d prefer us just to run it backwards and take the risk?”
“I couldn’t say! It might kill him.”
“Doing nothing might kill him too,” Scarlet said brutally. He heard the Colonel coming back and signed off hastily. Then he put his finger to his lips and warned Claret to secrecy before slipping out through the computer banks and file room. Determined to push matters along he walked briskly down to sickbay to find Doctor Javorsky on duty.
“Captain Scarlet? Are you sick?” she asked, standing as he approached her desk.
Scarlet smiled at her, noticing how she blushed when he did so. Goddamn Adam Svenson and his fanciful ideas about ‘acolytes’, I shall be forever noticing things like that now! He thought with a spark of irritation.
“No Doctor, I am fine. I want to see Adam if he’s awake. I think it’s about time we told him the facts and let him decide what he wants to do. It’s his life after all.” Doctor Javorsky looked sceptical and so he continued, “Prague is not having much success and if we do nothing, Adam might … cease, anyway. He ought to be told.”
“Can’t carry the responsibility, eh, Captain?” Javorsky said quietly.
“Do we have the right to deny him the right to make his own decision, Doctor?” he asked in return, resenting her implication.
“Perhaps not; however, I think he may know the situation already.” She explained, “Symphony Angel went to visit with him and has stayed since some five hours. He woke up awhile ago so I would leave it for now, Captain.” Scarlet raised his eyebrows interrogatively. “They forget the beds are linked to the monitors of Doctor Fawn. I thought there was again a problem when I see two heartbeats and hurry to assist, but then I hear such happy laughter when I am close to the door, that I do not interrupt them.”
“No, perhaps I wouldn’t want to go in just now. Adam’s pretty tolerant, but he’s not that tolerant!” A thought struck him and he frowned again. “Won’t it … eh… wear him out?”
“But what a way to go, eh, Captain?” Javorsky said with a surprisingly raucous laugh.
Scarlet stopped trying to hide his amusement. “So you stayed here - Very wise, Doctor.”
“I am called Eva,” she smiled. “It is less formal.”
Scarlet found himself getting hot. “We are not supposed to use our names whilst on duty,” he said, hearing himself sounding so pompous that he mentally cursed Adam again.
“My apologies, Captain,” Javorsky said, her tone suddenly cold.
“But we all do it all the time,” he added, as if he had never intended the pause. “So, I will be happy to call you Eva. I am Paul.”
“I know. I have the medical records here.” She smiled. “Perhaps you would like coffee? There is a machine here, it makes good coffee.”
“Yes, I know it does. Probably the best coffee on the base - the Amber room coffee tastes like ditchwater and the officers lounge coffee could be used to weatherproof the runways! Thank you, I would like that.”
Scarlet sat opposite Javorsky and sipped his coffee. He began to think that he was over-reacting to the Doctor’s friendliness because she just carried on with her paperwork and left him in peace. It is relaxing, Scarlet thought, recalling evenings spent in Fawn’s company whilst he was technically still unfit for duty, but out of danger. All in all he probably spent more time in the sickbay than the officers’ lounge!
A monitor on the computer beside the Doctor bleeped. Javorsky pushed a button and frowned. “We have a problem,” she muttered.
“Not Adam? … Hhmm, he hasn’t over-exerted himself?” Scarlet exclaimed.
“No. Blue.” Javorsky hurried to the room where Blue was lying sedated. Scarlet watched as she checked the monitors and then reached to call for the duty nurse. Nurse Waite hurried in, taking the time to give her most frequent patient a smile of acknowledgment.
“His condition has deteriorated. He must be revived,” Javorsky instructed. Waite closed the door.
Scarlet pondered on the implications and wondered if Adam - busy with whatever he and Karen were doing now - was alright too. The idea must have occurred to Javorsky because moments later the door opened and she stepped across to knock loudly on Adam’s door.
“Miss Symphony, is everything alright in there?” There was no immediate answer. “Miss Symphony? Mr Adam? I am coming in now.”
Symphony wrenched the door open before Javorsky did. She was wearing Adam’s dressing gown over an attractive teddy of pale green silk and creamy lace.
“Sssh! What’s the matter, he’s just gone back to sleep,” she muttered angrily, and then saw Scarlet hovering in the distance. “Is this anything to do with you, Paul, because if it is...?”
He shook his head, but Javorsky answered, “Miss Symphony is Adam alright?”
“He’s sleeping. We were both sleeping.”
The Doctor pushed past and looked down at her patient. Karen followed her in and Scarlet followed her. Javorsky gently took Adam’s wrist and counted his pulse.
“What’s wrong?” Karen hissed.
“Blue’s bad,” Scarlet answered, making her jump because she hadn’t registered he had entered too.
“They wanted to make sure Adam was okay.”
Karen gave a sharp nod of her head. “He’s been fine.”
Javorsky carefully laid Adam’s arm down and was surprised when he snuggled up to her hand with a murmured “Karen.”
She gently extricated herself. “Pulse normal,” she mused. “He looks better than he has all day.”
“We‘ve been discussing his latest hypothesis,” Karen said, suddenly blushing.
“That’s a new name for it.” Scarlet couldn’t stop the comment coming unbidden to his lips even though he was sorry to have made her more embarrassed.
She hastened to explain, “Okay - so what if we were having a little cuddle? We weren’t doing anything wrong! And we really were discussing the problem as well. In fact Adam wondered that if he was getting weaker whilst Blue … partied, perhaps he should party and see if he got any stronger. Seems to have worked - better than expected perhaps?”
“Much better than expected,” the Doctor said sourly. “Blue was sedated with a dose calculated to be effective with a healthy, active man. If it is as you thought and he is weaker because Adam is… partied out, then it would explain his dangerous relapse! You might have killed him, Miss Symphony, and we do not know what the effect of either one dying is. You fear Adam might become a Mysteron if Blue absorbs him - it may also be that he will be a Mysteron if he absorbs Blue. Did you think of that?”
“No.” Karen looked horrified. “We weren’t thinking about much at all, Doctor. He was so much more like his old self and I was just so pleased to see him - so much better.”
Javorsky gestured to the door and shooed them both out of the room. “He must sleep, I must be able to stabilise them both. You must both go.”
“My dress is in there!” Karen cried in alarm.
“You have others, I expect.”
“Go, both of you, please, now.”
“Doctor, for pity’s sake!” Karen pleaded as the door began to close.
Javorsky relented and threw the dress through the almost closed door, shutting it immediately after she had done so.
“Come on Karen, I’ll take you to your quarters,” Scarlet offered, gallantly turning his back as she shrugged off the dressing gown and slid into the dress.
“Stop enjoying this, Metcalfe.”
“Me? Why ever would I do that?” Scarlet said with an almost perfect poker face.
Having left Symphony safely in her quarters, Captain Scarlet went to the empty conference room and tapped into the communications link to Prague. His call was answered by Doctor Fawn, who luckily was too preoccupied to ask questions when Scarlet asked to speak to Ziak.
“Good evening, Commander Ziak. I am hoping that you will be able to do me a favour,” Scarlet said with a friendly smile at the serious face on the screen.
“Captain Scarlet, I will, of course, be only too pleased to assist when I can.”
“Thank you. I want you and your men to find Captain Black for me - or any of the men who were in the warehouse with him. I have a feeling they must still be in the city - Captain Blue told me that Black ordered his minions to take me to the geminator machine and I have a suspicion that he won’t leave until he feels there is still a chance of my being given the same treatment as Blue. There were several other sites marked on your street map, where Black had been sighted as well as the warehouse, I suggest you concentrate on them. If - when - your people find any of them, I want you to report to me - not the Colonel - not just yet. Will you do that for me, Commander?”
Ziak hesitated, but he was not immune to the glamour that was attached to Captain Scarlet and he nodded. “Certainly we will try, Captain.”
“Splendid, I look forward to speaking to you very soon. Goodbye, Commander.”
There was nothing he could do now except wait, which for Scarlet was always easier said than done. He had never had much patience with delays. In the meantime he made what preparations he could and spent time with Rhapsody who was off duty for a few hours.
The Angels were all concerned about Captain Blue and Symphony and Dianne was anxious for any news he could give her about her friends. It was only with great difficulty that he refrained from telling her about the incident in sickbay, and to avoid that temptation he explained the outlines of his plan to help his friend.
“Paul, it sounds as if it will be incredibly dangerous. I am sure Adam wouldn’t want you taking too many risks,” Dianne said earnestly.
“No, Adam would spend forever assessing the risk factors and by then it would be too late!” he teased. “I haven’t told him yet - in fact only you know so far. I will have to go to the old man with it as soon as Ziak has found Black’s hiding place, but for now - keep it to yourself, my love.”
“Well, of course I will, but I can’t help worrying about you,” she replied, kissing his cheek.
“I want to do this, Di; I owe it to Adam to try.” She remained sceptical even as he tried to explain his motivation. “You know how annoyed I get when they say I’m the bravest man in Spectrum, because I know what they don’t - that whatever happens to me the chances are I will recover to fight again. Adam has no such guaranty - his first death will be his last - and yet he never refuses to help me, however harebrained the scheme. And more often than not, he’s the one who carries what’s left of me back to Cloudbase so that Fawn can nurse me back to health. I know I couldn’t do my job half so well without his support, Di.” He glanced at her stricken face with concern. “And so, I don’t intend to have to try!” He hugged her and returned her kiss. “But I promise to be careful. I don’t want anything to go wrong - after all, I have too much going right in my life just now!”
“I can understand that you want to help Adam. Honestly I can, Paul, but I am positive that if you asked him, Adam would say you shouldn’t take this risk. After all, you are not like the other Mysteron agents - you have broken free of them and even Doctor Fawn cannot say for sure that what is dangerous for Mysterons as a whole is dangerous for you. So it must apply that we cannot be sure you wouldn’t be affected by things they are immune to.”
He hugged her to his heart and said softly, “Perhaps that’s why I have to try this one, Dianne, perhaps I just have to earn that reputation for bravery.”
She shook her head sadly, but didn’t argue any more. She knew this need to prove himself as worthy of his reputation was as integral to him as breathing. He continued to see himself as perpetrating some kind of fraud - although he was the only one on Cloudbase who thought of it like that - and neither the Colonel nor Adam could shake it out of him. Besides, she knew him well enough to know when his mind was made up.
So she just cuddled close to him and listened with mounting amusement as he haltingly asked her if she knew anything about the acolytes Adam said he had.
She made him work hard to get their names though.
It was about four in the morning and Doctor Tan had drifted off into a doze as the end of his shift approached, when Blue, as restless as always, slipped from his room and opened the door to Adam’s. The room was in darkness but as Blue moved towards the bed, Adam’s voice startled him.
“Come on in. I think we need to talk.” The bedside light snapped on and the two identical men studied each other in the warm yellow light.
“I couldn’t sleep,” said Blue, a little aggressively.
“I know. I could sense your restlessness.”
Blue came and sat on the end of the bed, tucking his right foot under his left leg and resting on one arm. “It’s weird to be looking at myself like this. What has happened to me? Why are there two of us?”
“Don’t you know?”
“Would I ask if I did?”
Adam smiled. “Most probably, if you felt it would serve your purpose. I would. There’s no point in trying to second-guess me… Blue - I know only to well, what you’re thinking.”
“When all this happened, I didn’t understand where you had come from. Sure, that geminator hurt and I woke up feeling like death; and when I saw you, I damn near flipped! I felt groggy but I was growing stronger all the time, I could feel my strength increasing and I knew I had the edge on you. Now, I’m not so sure and I don’t understand,” Blue admitted warily.
“Nor do I,” said Adam moving to sit next to him on the bed and pulling his leg beneath him in unconscious imitation of his visitor. “You were certainly the stronger after we separated. I felt so weak it was all I could do to stand and walk with Paul to my… our quarters. I think that may have been due to the initial shock of the procedure started by the geminator.”
“They tell me it was a cloning machine and therefore one of us must be a clone, so what am I to you?” Blue asked defensively.
“You are, almost certainly I think, a clone of my physical self. The geminator was designed to separate Scarlet from his Mysteron side and allow them to recover control of him. But because there was only one entity in Captain Blue’s body, we each got half of his personality. You got the physical or emotional side and I… well,” Adam paused.
“Oh, you got the brains alright,” Blue said irritably. A large part of his frustration had come from the unaccountable inability of his mind to function as he expected it to. He had come to the conclusion that if all he had to work with was his emotions, then he would see just how far he could get with that weapon against the bastion of Adam’s intelligence. After all, he knew instinctively which strings to pull to the greatest effect.
“That’s one way of looking at it,” Adam agreed. “Perhaps we’re better off just saying you are very like a younger version of me, one I remember without too much pride, I have to say.”
“You should loosen up a little, you know? Life can be a lot of fun,” Blue asserted.
Adam raised his eyebrows and smiled, “It can be fun even when you have to take the responsibility for what you do with it.”
“Yeah? And you sound like Dad,” Blue said scathingly. He started to pace the room, restless again. “So, what do we do about it then?”
“They are trying to find a way to recreate the original Captain Blue.”
“Why? What’s so great about him that having the two of us isn’t as good as?”
“I don’t know,” Adam said sharply. “I’m in the same boat as you - to me being like I am seems…entirely normal.”
Blue stared at him. “Tell me honestly why you think I am the clone. I remember growing up in Boston. I can remember everything that happened.”
“Tell me what you remember.”
Blue drew a deep breath and proceeded to list the most memorable emotional peaks and troughs in the life of Adam Svenson, until his voice trailed to a halt when he began to speak of the events at the London Car-Vu. He gave a sly glance at Adam, noting with satisfaction his pale face and downcast eyes - he had succeeded in unsettling his twin. “ If you want my opinion,” he concluded sourly, “that’s when Adam Svenson became so wrapped up in being Captain Blue that he buried much of himself away and now the emotions you say I embody come as a surprise and - what’s far worse - an embarrassment to him.”
Rather unexpectedly, Adam retaliated. “You wouldn’t be an embarrassment if you acted anything like someone of your age and position should act,” he said, startling Blue with his vehemence. “You act like an irresponsible, amoral teenager!”
Blue‘s response was an outright attack. “No I don’t. I just act like someone with any kind of emotional depth to them would act. But you gave up doing that years ago. Okay, so it wasn’t the easiest thing to deal with… after what Grover did to us - either time … but we managed - Oh yes- we managed - If I am part of you, you have to hear me out - Adam!” Blue glared at his twin. “How ironic that Paul called me Blue when you are so much closer to the Captain Blue he thinks he knows, and I am the Adam Svenson he’s never really had the chance to know.”
Adam shrugged, not wanting to comment.
Blue continued his restless pacing, counting points on his fingers. “Then it was Dad and all those arguments you wouldn’t let yourself be seen to care about - but you did care. Then it was Soraya and you had to cover the guilt you felt about that, didn’t you? Because grown men with jobs in the security division can’t be seen to have any weaknesses. Then it was Karen - my God, she hit you running, didn’t she? You never believed in ‘love at first sight’ - romantic twaddle, wasn’t it? And then it happened to you and you couldn’t believe what you felt for her and what you still do. But just how long is it since you told her that? How long since you just said ‘stuff the Colonel’ and took her away for a weekend in Paris or Rome? Stopped all that, haven’t we? Daren’t take her home to Boston, in case people expect things to happen - things we don’t consider ‘practical’.” Blue drew air quotes. Adam’s face was set in an unyielding expression of controlled anger that anyone who knew his father would have recognised with dread. Blue recognised it and gave a slight chuckle. “Let it rip, go on, scream at me! It would probably do you the world of good to loose that renowned good temper.”
With a slight shake of his head, Adam declined to be goaded, although he was surprised at the violence of the anger he felt welling up inside him. These powerful bursts of emotion were seemingly getting more frequent. “Yelling won’t get us anywhere and will just bring Tan in here to sedate us both again,” he said, fighting to keep his composure.
Blue pressed on, “What’ll you do about her suggestion of an elopement?”
“How do you know about that?” Adam snapped.
Blue shrugged. “No idea - you got the brains, remember? You think she was joking, but are you sure? Will it always be a joke, Captain Blue, or will she one day stop mentioning it and just walk out of your dreary little life?”
“You’re talking rubbish - the last thing my life could be described as is dreary! How many other men get to sit up all night being harangued by their emotionally overwrought clone?”
Blue gave a slight, superior smile. “Oh a definite touch there, is the armour beginning to crack, I wonder?”
Adam shook his head. “Take more than you’ve got to do that, Blue.”
Blue’s eyebrow rose in disbelief. “You think so? You haven’t heard the moiety of it yet. There is nothing about you I don’t know and nothing I won’t use against you.”
Adam glanced at him thoughtfully - since when did Blue use words like moiety? He began to wonder if the division of their shared personality wasn’t beginning to even out.
Blue continued his complaint, “She likes you better than me, although God knows why...”
“So it would seem.”
“But why? I remember the good times we’ve had together and they were good times! Why should she ignore that and reject me? She’s unlikely to ever get half as much fun with you. I won’t let Karen go and I won’t stand by and see you loose her because you can’t get over that Goddamed puritan streak that runs straight through you!” Blue unwittingly let his anger and frustration spill over and he was annoyed to see understanding dawn on Adam’s face.
“Perhaps she just doesn’t appreciate that much raw emotion all at once? I know I don’t,” Adam said levelly. “It can be unnerving.”
“It wasn’t me she accused of being a cold fish!”
Adam glared at him. “She only says things like that when she’s mad at me and trying to goad me into arguing with her. She doesn’t mean it,” he growled.
“Don’t tell me I hurt your feelings - because you haven’t got any!”
“Look, if there is one thing we will always argue about, it is Karen, so I suggest we don’t speak about her at all. Let’s just take it as read that we both love her and concentrate on the fact that if we stay separate, she will have to choose between us. There is only one way we can both have her and that is to find a way to merge ourselves once more.”
“Frightened she might choose me?” challenged Blue.
“No, but I’d say you are frightened she will choose me,” came the brutal reply.
There was a long silence. Both men looked at each other weighing the implications of their situation and realising that there was a chance that if Karen was forced to choose between two halves of the man she loved, she might choose neither. For the first time an emotion united them - it was sheer, gut wrenching misery.
“Sit down for Heaven’s sake,” Adam said wearily and rather to his surprise Blue did come back to sit on the bed again. They sat in silence for a few moments and Adam could sense the tension in Blue.
“I’m scared,” Blue admitted suddenly, unable to look Adam in the face.
“So am I.”
Two pairs of identical blue eyes met and recognised the essential kinship of each other.
“I don’t want to be a Mysteron.”
“Neither do I and I know that whatever can be done to avoid it, Spectrum will do,” Adam reasoned.
“Yeah, they’ll kill us.”
“Sure they will, but only as a last resort,” Adam said, a slow smile lifting the corners of his mouth.
Blue smiled back and for the second time they shared an emotion.
“I daren’t sleep,” Blue confessed, exhausted by his own emotional turmoil. “I’ve been getting the nightmares again.”
Adam didn’t need to ask the nature of the nightmares. As a boy, he had been abducted, brutalized and held to ransom and he’d been plagued for years afterwards with terrifying dreams as he relived the ordeal. Twenty-five years later fate had again landed him in the clutches of his tormentor and the nightmare had started all over again. It would appear that Blue - with his highly charged emotional memories was still suffering. Pity overwhelmed Adam as he recalled all too clearly the horrors of those nightmares. He reached out to touch the hand that lay close to his. “It’s okay, Adam, you can stay here.”
If Blue noticed the use of his Christian name he made no comment, he turned fear drenched eyes on his twin and nodded as Adam made room for him. They lay side by side and when the light was turned off; they both closed their eyes and slept - hand in hand.
Ziak’s call for Scarlet came through early in the morning.
“We have found the house. It is across the city from the warehouse and the neighbours say the men who live there are reclusive and unfriendly. I had two agents watch the house and about an hour ago they saw a man they identified as Captain Black enter and leave some forty minutes later.”
Scarlet smiled, “Many thanks Commander and please pass my congratulations to your surveillance teams. “
“Captain, why do you need to know this?”
“I have a plan; at least I have the beginnings of a plan, which I hope will show us how to heal Captain Blue.”
“How is the good Captain?” Ziak asked.
Scarlet grimaced. “Still with us, thank God. Ziak, if I need more help when I come to Prague, will you give it?”
“Without doubt, Captain. I too wish to see Captain Blue healed.”
Scarlet smiled. “Keep your fingers crossed then, all I have to do now is convince the Colonel it could work. I’ll keep you informed.”
Colonel White heard him out in ominous silence. As Scarlet’s voice came to a stop, he said firmly, “Absolutely not. It is far too dangerous.”
“Why?” Scarlet questioned.
“You might get yourself killed.”
“An occupational hazard in my case,” Scarlet said dismissively.
“Permanently killed,” White emphasized.
“I know; but supposing, just supposing it works and I manage to get Black into the geminator. Perhaps we could regain him and discover how to save Adam.”
“I forbid it,” White repeated.
“Do you have a better idea, Sir? Magenta, Fawn and Green are running out of mice down there. They cannot keep Blue under sedation forever, and how long before they have to do it to Adam too? This is our only lead. At least let me go to Prague and try; I cannot sit here and do nothing.” The last part of this was a plea.
Colonel White sighed; he knew Scarlet was capable of disobeying even his direct orders if he felt justified in doing so. He had done so once before in order to save the Colonel’s life. Nevertheless, White felt he must play by the book.
“The Regulations state, Captain, “he began.
“Bugger the regulations, sir! I am talking about Adam Svenson!” Scarlet exploded.
“They state,” White snapped sternly, “that Spectrum personnel will not put their personal feelings before their duty, nor allow their feelings to take precedence over their orders.”
“With respect, sir,” Captain Scarlet said, making it obvious that he felt little respect for anyone’ s authority at the present moment, “Spectrum personnel are not puppets; we are flesh and blood like everyone else. Without the very same personal feelings you seem to deplore, there would be no loyalty, no camaraderie and no organization worthy of the name of Spectrum. I have worked alongside Adam Svenson for seven years and never once has he let me down. I do not intend to fail him now. Black wants me - very well, let him have me. If I go willingly and we are prepared, we can turn the tables on him, possibly regain Black and save Adam. I am willing to try. All you have to do is let me.”
Colonel White looked at the younger man; he saw no willingness to compromise in the sharp blue eyes, set chin and tightly compressed lips and he knew the futility of arguing with him once Scarlet had convinced himself of the wisdom of his decision.
“Very well,” the Colonel said, “but I have severe reservations about this whole escapade. Nothing must be left to chance.”
“It won’t be - I have too much at stake to be careless.” Scarlet thought of Rhapsody’s beautiful face creased with worry lines as he explained his plan to her.
“Your life most of all, Captain,” White said forcefully.
“And Adam’s,” Scarlet added with a slight frown. He had one last person to convince before he could begin.
Three hours later, closeted in Ziak’s office with the door firmly shut against being overheard, Magenta read the Colonel’s orders through in stunned silence. He looked at Captain Scarlet. “You are going to surrender to Captain Black?”
“Not so’s you would notice. But Black has to believe it. I must get him here and you must be ready so that when I do, everything goes smoothly. We’re running out of time, Pat, there is no second chance with this.”
Magenta sighed and scratched his chin. “Okay, run it past me one more time,” he said.
The Czech agents left Scarlet in the next street to the suspects’ house and retreated as instructed. Scarlet slowly made his way to the front of the house and, hiding behind a convenient wall, he watched the place through Spectrum binoculars. He could see people moving inside the house, but he could not identify them. Glancing at his watch he frowned; there just wasn’t time for a long stake-out. He made one last check of his equipment including the wire-tap Lieutenant Green had inserted into the right hand epaulette of his tunic. That should pick up much of any conversation as well as transmit a tracer beacon to the monitors in the warehouse.
“I’m going towards the house. With luck it shouldn’t bee too long before they see me,” Scarlet said, hoping someone was listening. There was no response loop in the system. “Here goes nothing,” he said more to himself as he crept, amateurishly across the road, making himself more than obvious by his exaggerated attempts to remain hidden. He prayed the ground officers were right in saying that Black was not there and that the Mysteron agents in the house were as inexperienced as he thought.
Creeping around the back entrance to the house Scarlet made as much noise as he could without being blatantly obvious and was relieved to see the door open and one of the agents slip out.
“Thank Heavens, I was beginning to think they were all deaf!” he muttered.
He allowed himself to be surprised and put up a spirited but intentionally pointless defence of himself. The young Mysteron finally thought to crack him over the head with his pistol butt and almost with thankfulness, Scarlet collapsed in what he hoped was a convincing faint. He opened his eyes after they had dragged him none too gently inside the house. He groaned and put his hand to his head, glancing up to see the two men who had been wearing the white coats at the warehouse laboratory - presumably Fencl and his son - and the third man who had been shooting at him in the warehouse - the man Blue claimed to have shot! Well, at least we have the right place, he thought.
“Do not move Earthman.” Dr Fencl said in heavily accented English.
“You will not succeed in holding me here,” Scarlet said. “My colleagues will find out where I am.”
“No doubt, but you will not be here for long.”
Scarlet wordlessly thanked Green for his tracer. “What do you intend to do with me?” he asked.
“Wait and see.”
Scarlet tried to struggle to his feet and was pushed back down by the younger man.
“Watch him carefully, Josef, and if he moves - shoot him,” Fencl said dourly.
Thereafter he sat hunched in the corner, praying that Black would arrive before too long. He begrudged every wasted minute as he thought of Adam and Blue on Cloudbase. Some twenty minutes later, there was a cold draught of air and he looked up to see Captain Black enter the room.
“Welcome Captain Scarlet, we meet again,” he said.
“Captain Black you won’t get away with this!” Scarlet said, suddenly conscious that he was over-acting. Black would not be as easily fooled as his agents had been.
“You don’t know what we intend to do for a start, Captain. The Mysterons instruction will be carried out - whatever the cost.”
“Spectrum won’t risk the lives of innocent people to try to save me.”
“Come, come Captain. You don’t believe that, do you? Spectrum will do a great deal to save its best agent, surely?”
“Have you already forgotten the oaths we take on entering the service, Captain?”
“I forget nothing. Yet Spectrum will be as helpless as the other forces you have ranged against us when its premier officers, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue, become as one with the Mysterons!”
“What did you do to Captain Blue?” Scarlet asked, scrambling to his feet.
Black smiled in derision. “Are you two still holding each other’s hands, Metcalfe? I should have thought you and Svenson would have learned how to look after yourselves by now.”
“He’s safe on Cloudbase where you cannot get to him and I am here to discover just what you have done to him.”
Black smiled again. “We won’t need to get to him; he will come to us. Once the geminator has done its work and the clone has absorbed its host, Blue will be controlled by the Mysterons and he will work with us - so will you, Scarlet, once you have experienced the power of the geminator.”
“You will need to kill him before you can ‘control’ him and Cloudbase is heavily fortified,” Scarlet said, dismissively.
“No, the clones do not need to be killed, that is their big advantage - they are no longer true human beings, merely wraiths of their former selves. Mind control is a much easier matter with them.”
Scarlet looked closely at the face of his former comrade-in-arms and asked quietly, “Is that what they did to you, Conrad? Is that why you are under their spell?”
Black looked away angrily, and spoke to the scientists, “Bind his hands and take him to the car. We are going to the warehouse.”
Scarlet struggled against the encircling ropes, largely because it was expected of him, but they were tied with ruthless efficiency and he could feel his hands going numb even before they reached the small, black, anonymous car outside on the side road. He was shoved into the back, squashed between Miroslav and Josef. Black sat in the front passenger seat, watching him with empty, dark eyes; it made Scarlet’s flesh creep, although he was surprised to note that his usual nausea in the company of Mysterons was absent.
The journey across the city seemed to take an age, as the traffic was bad and the bridges congested. Scarlet hoped the tap wire had relayed all the information to his colleagues in the warehouse and that Cloudbase now knew what the ultimate fate of Captain Blue would be if either of the ‘twins’ managed to gain control of the other. Before he had left, the Colonel had warned him that neither he nor Blue would be spared if the plan went wrong and they became Mysterons.
He knew from past conversations with Captain Blue that being mysteronised was something his friend genuinely feared and they had a mutual pact that if either of them should fall under the thrall of the Aliens, they would put an end to each other’s existence at the first opportunity. Now there’s a possibility that Spectrum will do the job for us, Scarlet thought ruefully. He screwed his eyes against the distorting curtain of the rain on the car windows and thought he recognized the passing streets from the area around the warehouse.
The car drew up in the dark shadow of a building and Black got out. Peering out of the window Scarlet saw Black talking to another man in the shadow of the building opposite. He suspected there must be more Mysteron agents and he hoped that the numbers were limited to the few he could see. Black came back to the car and opened the door. Josef got out and Miroslav pushed Scarlet after him. He landed awkwardly in a puddle and was rudely hauled to his feet by Josef.
As Black started to walk towards the warehouse Scarlet, hustled along by the younger Mysterons, hoped the occupants were ready inside. He couldn’t see any sign of Ziak’s men, which is as it should be, he thought trying to reassure himself. If he could see them, then so could Captain Black. He must never forget that Conrad Turner had been an exemplary agent in his time.
As they neared the workroom, the procession stopped and the scientists produced their guns. From out of the gloom there appeared another five men, all armed and Scarlet could tell by the wave of nausea that now affected him that they were all Mysterons. He suppressed his sickness enough to wonder if the difference was due to the younger men, at least, being clones.
Black kicked the door open with his booted foot and Scarlet saw his Spectrum colleagues start with commendable surprise, as the room was invaded by the Mysterons.
“Captain Black!” Magenta gasped and reached for his gun, as Green made to contact Cloudbase.
“Stand down, Captain Magenta, Lieutenant Green,” Black said levelly. “Unless you want to see the end of Captain Scarlet.”
“That’s no threat, Black,” Magenta snarled.
Black gave a slight shake of his head. “Do not underestimate the power of the Mysterons. I could kill Scarlet before you could shoot that weapon. But there are other ways to ensure your compliance, Captain,” he turned his dark eyes on Scarlet, held between the two scientists who had their guns pointed as his head.
Scarlet felt a sharp and increasingly acute pain between his eyes; he blinked, frowning as the pain grew, and a moan escaped from his lips and he grew pale. Fresh waves of nausea threatened to overwhelm him and he shivered uncontrollably, as his consciousness ebbed away under the onslaught. Fawn moved forward to assist the distressed man, but Dr Fencl swung his gun towards him and motioned him to stay away. Dr Giardello came to stand alongside and the two men exchanged worried glances.
Black gave a satisfied smile and looked away. “Scarlet’s much vaunted sixth sense for the presence of Mysteron agents cannot withstand the infinite, unbridled power of the Mysterons! If I wanted to, I could leave you a man with the mind of an imbecile. Now, do as I say.”
Magenta lowered his hand and dropped the gun to the floor, as Lieutenant Green moved away from the consol and raised his hands. Under Black’s expressionless gaze, the Spectrum personnel shuffled together. Doctor Fawn put a comforting hand on Green’s shoulder, sensing the younger man’s concern.
The Mysteron agents came and stood guard over the Spectrum personnel, pushing them away from the control panels and the archway. Fencl had already moved to the panel and was busily entering codes and watching readouts scroll across the screen.
“Take him to the geminator.” Black watched as his agents dragged the still dazed Scarlet to the archway. Weakened by Black’s assault, his struggles were useless as they untied his hands, stripped him of his uniform and clasped the handcuffs shut around his wrists. Fencl went to the control panel as his assistant checked the panel on the archway. They spoke in Czech, as they went through the initiation sequence.
Doctor Fawn looked at the helpless figure of Scarlet, still fighting his nausea and wondered if the man would stand the onslaught of this machine. From what they had been able to piece together, whatever it did happened at a very basic molecular level and none of the mice they had experimented on had survived the operation.
“What will happen to him, Conrad?” Fawn asked somewhat distractedly.
Black turned with a hint of surprise in his eyes. “Once the machine has been recalibrated, he will be replicated and the weak human side of his nature will be absorbed. Then he will take his place alongside me as the servant of the Mysterons. In time we will be joined by Captain Blue and Spectrum will be weakened to the point of futility.”
“And if it doesn’t work?” Giardello asked.
“Then perhaps you had better say goodbye to him now - there won’t be much left,” Black replied casually. He turned to Dr Fencl who was speaking to him. “Well, use the machine anyway - if the fools from Spectrum have disrupted the program, it cannot be helped. Start the process now, Doctor, the Mysterons’ orders must be carried out.”
Lieutenant Green’s moan of despair accompanied the switching on of the geminator. Magenta looked away as the electrical pulses seared through Scarlet’s body and he screamed, arching his back against the pain - this was the part of Scarlet’s carefully crafted strategy that had filled the Colonel with such concern and, quite frankly, it scared the bejesus out of him! Scarlet was taking an awful risk - not that that was any great surprise. He could be rash to the point of stupidity in Magenta’s humble opinion, at least with his own safety. Still, he wished Scarlet had talked it through with Captain Blue before starting, but Scarlet had refused to put his friend under the pressure of accepting the ‘rescue plan’.
Fawn took another step towards the archway only to be restrained by Giardello’s hand on his arm.
“Stop it!” Fawn shouted. “Can’t you see you are killing him? Electricity is the one weakness we have found in his invulnerability.”
Black glanced across at the small group of Spectrum men and said nothing. He looked back to the scientists and nodded. The pulse rate increased in response to Fencl’s command. Scarlet’s screams echoed through the room once more. Green put his hand over his ears and turned away. Fawn patted his shoulder; he knew how the young man was feeling - the slight smell of burning flesh was making him nauseous too.
“For the love of God, Conrad - stop this!” Magenta pleaded.
Miroslav Fencl went to the control panel on the archway and made a few adjustments and as the pulses settled down to a constant wave. Scarlet lost consciousness and slumped, held upright by the handcuffs. Minutes later, Fencl cut the power and the two Mysterons unclipped the handcuffs and let the body crash to the floor.
“How long?” Black asked curtly.
Fencl shrugged and replied, “The Earthmen have tampered with the program, but not enough to render it harmless. I estimated that after we had made our final modifications, the replication should take a few minutes only - I don’t think that should have changed, but we have not had time enough to ascertain what they managed to throw out of kilter.”
“I hope we do not have to wait around here. Spectrum will get curious if their precious Scarlet is missing for too long,” Black said, nudging the crumpled body of his adversary with his booted foot. “You had better hope it is merely minutes, Doctor.”
Giardello was watching Scarlet intently and consequently he was the first to notice the softening of the outline of the body. He nudged Fawn and pointed towards their stricken colleague moments before another series of screams rang around the room. Black looked pleased and moved away slightly. The body convulsed, quaking and shivering until it seemed to blur. A second body slithered from the original and they lay side by side beneath the archway, both gasping for breath.
“Congratulations, Dr Fencl, your machine works,” Black said. “Revive them both.”
The scientists dragged the bodies apart and slapped both of them across the face until their eyes opened.
Scarlet sat up and glanced across at his doppelganger with a sense of despair. He felt exhausted and every nerve seemed to be sending red hot pulses of pain back to his confused brain. He felt a fresh wave of sympathy for Adam - if he’d experienced even half of this he had done well to keep sane! He was completely self-aware - he knew he was Paul Metcalfe and that the other man was merely his clone. But he wondered if the other Scarlet felt the same thing with such confidence and once more felt an empathy with his friend back on Cloudbase.
Fencl threw down two grey boiler suits at the ‘twins’ and suddenly embarrassed by his own nakedness Scarlet wriggled into one of them, fumbling with the buttons and zips. His replicant did not seem to be any better coordinated. Black ordered him to his feet and still unsteady on legs that seemed to have turned to jelly, Scarlet dragged himself upright.
“How do you feel, Captain?” Black asked, looking intently from one to the other.
“Guess,” Scarlet grated back. “It was a laugh a minute as you could see.” He glanced at the clone, expecting his response.
“You will not be making jokes once the absorption is complete,” Black snarled. He turned to the other man who had not spoken as yet.
“Who are you?” he asked. The other Scarlet slowly raised his sharp blue eyes and stared in silence. “Answer me,” Black ordered. The man opened his mouth, but there was no sound. Black turned to Fencl, incandescent with rage. “What has gone wrong?”
Fencl shrugged and turned away from the twins. “I told you they had tampered with it - there wasn’t time to check every procedure. It would appear the speech centres of the brain were not replicated.”
“But once the clone has absorbed the human, this will be corrected, won’t it? What use to us is a Scarlet unable to speak?”
Fencl shrugged again, supremely indifferent to Black‘s anger. “It is possible, Captain.”
Blinking fiercely and shaking his head in an effort to focus on the problem in hand, Scarlet found his voice again. “Whoops,” he said, “just a little slip up there, eh Conrad? But what makes you think that the clone is the one you want? How can you tell that I am not the Mysteron?” He was asking himself the same question as he reviewed the changes in himself with almost heart-stopping stupefaction.
Black turned to him with a slight show of uncertainty. “I could kill you both and see which one revives,” he suggested with a threatening smile.
“And stop the absorption process? That will please our masters,” Scarlet said with increasing self-assurance. So, Black could not tell them apart but he thought the retrometabolism would only show itself in the Mysteron and that the clone was the Mysteron. Yet familiar sensations within his pain-wracked body suggested to Scarlet that that might not be the case; he was desperately thirsty for one thing. He reached across and picked up a screwdriver from the console. “If you cannot tell, well, let’s find out shall we?” He drove it into his hand with a ferocity that made his Spectrum colleagues gasp. He shuddered from the pain and dropped the screwdriver, cradling his hand against his chest. Black came closer, as interested to see the result as Scarlet.
Scarlet held out his hand, the blood dripping from the wound onto the floorboards. He willed it to stop shaking and held it rigidly outstretched for a few minutes while the blood flow gradually slowed to a stop and the wound began to repair itself.
Black was impressed. “Perhaps you have not failed our masters, Fencl.” He smiled at Scarlet. “Soon you will have absorbed the weaker clone and be ready to join me in our war of nerves.”
“Paul,” Fawn pleaded, “fight against it. Captain Blue has managed to hold out against this process, you can surely do as much.”
“Why should I want to Doctor?” Scarlet said, swaggering towards the group of Spectrum officers, “I have never felt so… alive, nor so powerfully aware of my invulnerability.”
Fawn looked carefully at him, he knew Scarlet better than any man here. He seemed to be almost bursting with excitement and there was some colour in his face and a light in his deep blue eyes that had not been present before. Fawn compared it with his usual pallor and a suspicion began to grow in his mind.
Scarlet returned the Doctor’s gaze with a slight smile, careful to keep his back to Captain Black, who was watching him with intense interest. Magenta moved slightly and started to edge behind Scarlet, between him and Captain Black.
“Scarlet,” Black warned.
Scarlet spun round and swung a sudden punch at Magenta causing him to double with pain and fall to his knees. Hastily, Fawn bent to assist his colleague,
“There was no need for that,” he muttered. “What harm could he do you?”
“None.” Scarlet looked down at his injured hand - the same hand which had just delivered the blow and glanced across at Black. “With you and I and soon Captain Blue to serve them, the Mysterons will be victorious.” He haughtily extended the injured hand towards Black, displaying the newly formed scar tissue.
“You traitor!” Green snapped, throwing himself against the arrogant figure in angry frustration. “Captain Scarlet would never have betrayed his friends!”
Scarlet easily threw the young man to the ground and laughed. “You are quite right, Captain Black, when Adam joins us, these puny Earthmen will not be able to withstand us!”
The other Scarlet had fallen to his knees and was slowly choking as he tried to catch his breath. Scarlet moved closer to him and put his hands on his shoulders, throwing back his head and almost crowing. “Soon, even you will do as I say, Conrad - the Mysterons will have a servant worthy of them, at last!”
Black raised one eyebrow and considered the all too vital figure of his former adversary. The Mysterons had expected more resistance to their control than this, but perhaps the re-emergent Mysteron within Scarlet was still fighting the emotions inherent in his human personality. Once the absorption was complete, Scarlet would surely settle into a more conventional behaviour. It was the fact that he had been for so long beyond their control that must account for these emotional outbursts. Still, he wished he could feel the comforting certainty of the presence of the Mysterons in his own mind, now was not an opportune time for them to neglect their support of him. A slight wave of unease caused him to swallow compulsively whilst Scarlet seemed to grow in strength even as the weaker clone sank further to the floor.
“What are you going to do with us?” Lieutenant Green asked, as he watched horrified at Scarlet’s transformation.
“A little assimilation, Lieutenant. Security on Cloudbase won’t be able to tell you are Mysterons and you can assist Captain Blue with taking control of the base,” Captain Black said. “This is working out even better than expected.” He looked towards Scarlet for confirmation that the man agreed with him.
Scarlet was standing head down, watching as the replicant finally dissolved into an indistinct mass and was absorbed by his bare feet.
“Much better,” Scarlet said with less vitality than he had previously displayed. There was almost an air of sadness about him. Suddenly his head snapped up and he moved swiftly to the Spectrum men obscuring Black’s view of them. “Best to make a start - who wants to be first?”
Magenta moved with lightning speed and pushed Giardello behind the wooden crates as Scarlet shoved Fawn out of the Mysterons’ line of fire. Magenta drew his second weapon - one of the prototype electron pistols Scarlet had brought down from Cloudbase and took out one enemy agent with a whoop of delight. Scarlet grabbed the gun the dead Mysteron had been using, prepared to lay down covering fire, as Magenta waited for the pistol to recharge. But it was not necessary - confused, the Mysterons were milling about, as if lacking instructions. Black was apparently as uncertain as them; he watched in confusion, shaking his head as if he could not make sense of what he was seeing.
Green joined Scarlet in covering Magenta, and Scarlet turned his pistol on Black.
“Tell them to surrender, Captain,” he ordered as Ziak’s men burst through the door and trained their weapons on the Mysterons.
Black was still confused. He waited for the Mysterons to tell him what to do, but his mind remained empty. He could not remember feeling so alone since… since his journey to Mars. Why had his masters deserted him? His confusion grew and he just stared speechless at his agents.
Scarlet stepped into the command vacuum and snapped orders to Fencl. “Put him in the geminator.” He pointed at Captain Black.
Confused, the Doctor moved towards Captain Black. Lieutenant Green came to help, cheerfully handcuffing their adversary to the archway. Black began to struggle, as if he was just starting to realise his predicament.
“You will loose me!” He screamed as the first set of cuffs snapped shut, although he was not addressing anyone in the room.
“Doctor Fawn, throw the switch! We don’t have long!” Scarlet shouted, rushing to the computer console, where Fawn’s hands were hovering uncertainly over the control panel. As Magenta grabbed Black’s arm and hoisted it to the last handcuff Fawn pressed the power and the current started to pulse through Black’s body. His head dropped and he moaned with pain. Miroslav moved mechanically to the archway panel and adjusted the dials, increasing the frequency of the pulse. Black’s head came upright and he screamed, his body taut with the flow of the current. His features became indistinct as expressions swept across that usually impassive face and his screams grew in their intensity.
“It isn’t working,” Magenta said, wincing as he watched the violent process.
“This is the process the Mysterons used on Black whilst he was on Mars - he wasn’t killed and Mysteronised in their usual way of doing things on Earth. We can’t let him out, this is our only chance - increase the voltage,” Scarlet said through gritted teeth.
Black had passed out and he hung limply from the handcuffs. Mechanically, Fencl unlocked them and lowered the body to the floor. Scarlet approached him and bent to touch the pale skin. Black was cold to the touch.
“Is he dead?” Giardello whispered.
“No, there is a pulse,” Scarlet turned to reach out again and as he did so Black’s body faded from their view and he vanished.
“NO!” Scarlet roared and slammed his hand into the archway. “No!”
All the remaining Mysteron agents suddenly dropped to the floor lifeless, as the Mysterons turned from them. Those amongst the Spectrum personnel that had never seen the phenomenon before gasped in astonishment, but Scarlet merely sighed and shared a rueful glance with Magenta, for so many human lives destroyed in pursuit of revenge.
“Scarlet, come away from there, you don’t know what a second dose of that will do to you,” Doctor Giardello ordered.
“What happened to Black?” Lieutenant Green stammered.
“The Mysterons have reclaimed him, I guess,” Magenta said, coming to stand beside Scarlet, still kneeling on the floor beside the archway. “It was always the most likely scenario that they would save him at the last.”
“And we have no way of knowing if it ‘cured’ him,” Green said with a sigh.
“They took control of him again,” Scarlet said. “They can’t afford to loose him - he is the conduit for their power.”
Doctor Fawn came and bent down to examine Scarlet, shining a pencil torch into his eyes and taking his pulse. “How do you know that?”
“I learned a lot when he turned their power on me and in the geminator. There was an almost unlimited power there - seemingly omnipotent and unyielding. They could have taken him back at any time, but they chose to wait until he had been 'punished' enough. It seems that Captain Black has been experiencing too many moments of 'human weakness' lately." Scarlet dropped his head into his hands. “Poor Conrad, fancy having to share your head with that forever!”
“You are lucky you won’t have to,” Fawn said briskly, standing and putting his torch away. “You look as disgustingly healthy as always, Captain Scarlet.”
“What was it like?” Green voiced the question they all wanted to ask.
“Oh, the insatiable curiosity of the young,” Scarlet sighed, getting to his feet. “Hell, how do I know what it was like? It was like having red-hot needles pushed into every nerve ending and then having someone jump up and down on them for good measure. It was like sweating buckets in a sauna. It was like drowning and suffocating all at once.” He glanced at the horrified expressions on his friend’s faces and the vehemence left his voice as he concluded, “It wasn’t nice, Lieutenant, and believe me I’ve experienced some pretty unpleasant sensations in my time.”
“I think a spell in sickbay will do you good - just in case,” Fawn said soberly. “You certainly had me thinking we had lost you back there.”
The other three nodded.
“Especially when you belted Magenta,” said Lieutenant Green.
“He didn’t belt me, he pulled the punch and I dropped,” Magenta said with a smile at Green. “We had to convince the Mysterons he had turned. And you must admit he was pretty convincing. The simple fact that he didn‘t take the electron pistol from me was enough to let me hope he was - still one of us!”
“Did you know that trick with the screwdriver was going to work?” Giardello asked.
“It wasn’t a trick!” Scarlet said affronted. “It bloody well hurt.”
“But it’s healed,” Fawn said, taking the hand and examining it. There was a scar where the wound had been and he knew from experience that would be gone by morning.
“Yes, it’s healed,” Scarlet gave a mischievous grin. “I was bloody lucky there!”
“You didn’t know for sure?” Green gasped. “You took the risk?”
Scarlet’s grin grew even broader. “Sometimes you just have to trust your luck.”
“Holy Mother, I thought you must have known,” Magenta sighed. “Remind me never to play poker with you again; you’re getting too good at bluffing.”
That eased the tension and everyone smiled. Fawn and Giardello made their way back to their workstations and Magenta and Scarlet began to make arrangements for the bodies of the mysteronised scientists to be collected and disposed of by Commander Ziak’s ground forces.
Lieutenant Green sprang across the room as the communications panel bleeped urgently. “That will be the Colonel,” he predicted as he went.
They all heard the Colonel’s voice over the speaker, “We have seen and heard most of what happened down there. Well done Captain Scarlet, it was a valiant effort.”
“Thank you sir," Scarlet said with a rueful glance at Magenta.
"Still, it hasn’t really solved the problem of Captain Blue, has it? We still don’t know if he can safely go in the machine," Colonel White said with remorseless logic.
“I ’m sure he can, Colonel. Captain Black survived a second dose - even though the Mysterons took him back afterwards.” Scarlet said, although he sounded less confident than he had.
“Give us some time to analyse the data recorders we put into the system before all this started, sir. We may learn more from those,” Magenta said.
“We still don’t have much time, Patrick,” Scarlet reminded him.
“We’ll make time,” Magenta said and went towards the computer terminals to begin his work.
Cloudbase - the next morning.
Doctor Fawn was as good as his word and put Scarlet through a rigorous physical examination on their return to Cloudbase. He also ran a complete set of blood tests, scans and tissue analysis. He reported to the Colonel, in a class one confidential report that Scarlet was, as far as his science could tell, totally unaffected by his traumatic experience in the geminator. He was not so sure though, that the experience had not had an effect on the victim’s mental state. Scarlet had been evasive in many of his replies to Fawn's questions about what exactly did had happened to him in Prague.
Currently, Scarlet seemed overly concerned to learn that since they had been discovered sleeping side by side, the two ‘Svensons’ had spent all of their time together. Doctor Tan's report to his superior that Blue was much calmer but it was noticeable that Adam was becoming more volatile, had caused Scarlet's frown to deepen. Yet he still refused to give detailed answers to Fawn's questions.
The downside of this rapprochement between them was that neither Svenson was prepared to sleep now - since waking together, sweating with the horror of untold nightmares the last time they slept. The strain had quickly become apparent and Tan had taken the decision to sedate them both for their own good. Blue had become agitated at this, apparently believing there was some 'plot' to strengthen Adam at his expense. Adam finally calmed him down and convinced him to return to his own room, by allowing Tan to sedate him first.
Scarlet sat by Adam’s bed, watching his friend with a troubled expression. Fawn was almost tempted to wake Adam from his sedated rest, as he had long suspected that Captain Blue was Scarlet’s ‘father confessor’, and he guessed that whatever ailed Scarlet, it would take that unique brand of patient, uncritical friendship to worm it out of him.
Symphony, still signed off duty, came down to sickbay with Rhapsody to see their men-folk, but the presence of his fiancée only seemed to make Scarlet more morose. Finally, Fawn could take it no longer and he ordered Scarlet to go and eat something.
“Yes, come on Paul. I promised Calypso that we would all lunch together and she’s anxious to meet you again,” Rhapsody said with a bright smile.
“Oh, I don’t know, Dianne, I’m not much company at present. I’m sure Calypso would be better off dining with someone else.”
“No, she wants to meet you and Adam’s not going to wake up yet.” Rhapsody glanced at Karen, who was also moping. “For Heaven’s sake you two! Let’s go eat and try to look as if it’s not going to be your last meal!”
Fawn smiled as he watched Rhapsody chivvy them along the corridor. If anyone could liven them up it was Dianne!
Half an hour or so after their departure, Adam woke from his enforced sleep; he yawned, blinked uncertainly and looked at Fawn’s smiling face with some confusion.
“Hello there; how are you feeling?”
“As if I’ve been asleep for decades,” Adam muttered. “I’m famished.”
“Let’s assume that’s a good sign. I’ll order you a light meal.”
“Steak would be nice,” Adam said without much hope. “With a glass of red wine.”
“A plain omelette and a little salad would be best, I think, with a glass of milk.” Fawn demurred.
“Okay, what crime did I commit in my sleep to be punished with a meal like that?” Adam grimaced and struggled to sit upright. “I could eat a horse - saddle and all.”
“You sound like Blue,” Fawn said with a hint of concern in his voice. Adam’s suppressed appetite had been one of the most obvious differences between the two of them.
“How am I? ... Eh... how is he, I mean?” Adam shook his head with some confusion.
“That does it,” Fawn went and called Javorsky in the next room. “Please revive Blue. Adam is showing signs of not knowing which of them he is.”
“SIG.” Doctor Javorsky said briskly. Minutes later she came back on the intercom. “Blue is also confused and rather unhappy about it.”
Fawn could hear some ripe language coming from the patient. “Are you able to walk?” He asked Adam, who nodded, so he unhooked the monitors and helped him from the bed and across to the next room.
Blue was sitting on the edge of his bed cursing under his breath; he glanced angrily at the new arrivals. “Oh great, now I have to tolerate him as well!” he muttered and carried on with his invective.
Adam sat in the armchair by the bed and after a few minutes snapped something in a foreign language which sent Blue to a shocked silence and then reduced him to weak laughter. The twins exchanged conspiratorial smiles and Blue relaxed back onto his bed.
“What was all that about?” Fawn asked Adam.
“Its personal - you wouldn’t understand.” It was obvious that he wasn’t going to tell.
“I didn’t know you could speak…eh, Swedish,” he hazarded conversationally as he started to take Blue’s blood pressure.
“My Grandfather taught me - it comes in useful sometimes…” Blue answered.
“…Especially because Mom never learned to speak it,” Adam finished the sentence.
Fawn and Javorsky shared a glance and Fawn said, “I’ll see to that lunch you wanted.”
“Steak, medium-rare with all the trimmings. Twice,” Blue said, whilst Adam nodded in agreement.
“This is getting more alarming with every minute,” Javorsky said.
Fawn went to the intercom and spoke to the Colonel, appraising him of the latest development and then, with a shrug at his young companion, ordered two steaks with all the trimmings.
The twins were busy eating their lunches, pinching things from each other’s plates and talking in half sentences to each other, when Scarlet and the three Angels came into the sickbay.
Calypso was a tall, dark-haired woman in her late twenties. She came from Johannesburg and had been a pilot with the WAAF before being selected for Spectrum training. It had been Captain Blue who had delivered the specialist part of that training - on the Angel Interceptors, some years ago now, but as he still acted as a quasi-official 'line manager' and their link to the Colonel and Spectrum's resources, Calypso knew him fairly well. Even though her companions had warned her what to expect, she stared in open disbelief at the sight of the twins.
“Hello there, Keptin,” she managed to gasp after a lengthy silence.
“Calypso, how nice to see you,” they replied simultaneously.
Blue gave her a bright smile and winked at her confusion. Old habits die hard, Scarlet thought with amusement.
“Please excuse us,” Adam said. “We’re still having lunch, because…“
“…Fawn took ages to order it,” Blue finished the sentence. He helped himself to an onion ring from Adam’s plate at the same moment as Adam speared a mushroom from his. Both men raised their glasses and drank some of the beer they had been allowed to have with their lunch.
“What is this - synchronised eating?” Rhapsody asked in amusement.
“Damn nearly synchronised everything,” Fawn admitted. “They sneezed in unison a couple of minutes ago.”
Scarlet looked alarmed. “We’re running out of time.”
“How do you know that?” Fawn asked directly, determined not to let Scarlet escape with half answers this time. “Captain Scarlet, every little bit of information you can give me might assist Captain Blue.”
Ignoring him, Scarlet sat next to Adam, who pushed a bowl of fries towards him with a smile.
“What wrong, Paul?” Blue asked, with some concern.
Scarlet looked from one to the other, the edges between them were beginning to blur; Blue was acting with far more restraint and Adam was more light-hearted than he had been, although neither one seemed to have the upper edge. Remembering how it had felt when he had reabsorbed the weak clone, he shuddered, wondering if the two Adam Svensons were experiencing the same feelings.
“Do you guys know what’s happening?”
The twins looked at each other, and Blue said, “I think we do, don’t we?”
“Yeah, we do,” Adam agreed.
“And?” Scarlet asked pointedly.
They both shrugged. “What can we do about it?” Adam asked.
“Presumably, one of us will end up in control, but I can’t see that it matters all that much which of us it is. Hell, Paul, could be worse,” Blue said.
“Once this happens, it leaves you vulnerable to the Mysterons!” Scarlet snapped. “They can get into your head without having to kill you first - you will become what Captain Black called a wraith!”
“Wicked,” Blue said rolling his eyes.
“Spooky,” Adam agreed.
“For crying out loud, will you take this seriously?” Scarlet said, smiling despite himself.
“Adam, what’s happening to you?” Karen asked coming over to the table.
Blue patted the seat next to him. “Sit here, Honey.” he said with a pleading smile.
Karen looked at Adam who twitched his eyebrows upwards and swigged his beer. She perched next to Blue, warning, “One hand where it shouldn’t be - just one - and you’re dead.”
Blue held both hands up, “I’ll be good.”
“Oh-ho, yeah,” Adam sniggered.
Scarlet put a hand on Adam’s arm and made him look at him. “You will become a Mysteron agent; the very thing you always said you feared more than anything. Doesn’t that make you concerned?”
To his consternation, Adam jumped up, flushed with anger and pushed the table away, upsetting the beer. “It scares me rigid, as if you didn’t know! But what can we do? What can I do?” He pressed the heel of his palms into his eye sockets and his long fringe of blond hair fell across his fingers. Blue went to stand alongside his ‘twin’. The pair rested against each other, head to head and Scarlet blanched to see a softening of their outlines.
“Keep away from each other -contact makes it happen faster!” he said, moving between them, surprised to see a spark of anger in both pair of smoky, blue eyes.
Karen led Blue back to the table. She laid a hand on his shoulder and looked anxiously into his face. He returned her gaze with a smile that was everything she expected from Adam.
“Look, I think we have to face it, before it gets too late. You have to decide what you want to do - both of you. There are three choices,” Scarlet counted on his fingers. “Do nothing and risk becoming a Mysteron agent or use the geminator and take the risk it won’t work.”
“And the third?” Blue prompted, tearing his eyes away from Karen’s confused face.
Adam answered bleakly, “Fall on our swords, like noble Romans.”
“No!” Karen almost screamed her protest. “You cannot give up without even a fight. It’s just not like you, Adam.”
“I’m not sure we know what is like us anymore,” Blue replied with a wry grin. The twins exchanged long, worried looks over the distance between them, and then they made up their minds simultaneously.
Adam nodded as Blue said, “We’ll go through the geminator - under certain conditions. If it doesn’t work and we come out as Mysterons…”
They both looked at Scarlet and said together, “You will have to kill us - both.”
He nodded curtly without speaking.
Colonel White sat with Doctor Fawn, studying the results Magenta and Green had extracted from their computers. Adam and Blue had just left them having discussed their decision with the Colonel.
Fawn looked up from the paperwork. “If there was any other way and any more time, I would not advise you to allow this,” he sighed. “As it is, Scarlet is convinced that time is running out and that Blue and Adam are merging. He is also sure that when it happens it will leave Captain Blue open to control by the Mysterons. I cannot argue with him on that, he is the only one, apart from Captain Blue, who has experienced the process and the Blues don’t seem to know much about it.”
“Do you think they… he understands the risks?”
Fawn nodded. “He knows alright. Whatever that machine did, it didn’t affect his intellect.”
The Colonel asked, “Do you personally think it will work?”
Fawn ran his hand through his dark hair. When he looked up again the Colonel could see the strain on his face. “I wish I knew the answer to that, Charles. I will do all I can to keep him alive through the process, but what the result will be once it has finished, I have no idea.”
The Colonel nodded; he knew it had been an unfair question, but he felt the need himself for some reassurance. “Magenta and Green have made very few alterations. They took Scarlet’s suggestion to keep it on the settings used for him, as Blue seems to think he triggered the machine when it was set up to deal with Scarlet. We can only hope it works.”
Fawn nodded and set the papers back on the table. “I had better get back to sickbay and prepare whatever looks like a sensible first aid bag for such a case.”
“Good luck, Edward.”
“Thank you, Colonel.”
Scarlet was so tense that he was finding it hard to be polite in response to the sympathetic expressions of good luck everyone wanted to offer. He resolved his problem by deciding to avoid everyone until it was time to leave. He wandered the base and ended up, as usual, on the Promenade Deck. He stared down at Angel One, ready for launch on the flight deck below, with Melody in the cockpit. His mind was in turmoil, remembering his own suffering in the geminator and his hopes that Adam could withstand it a second time. Even supposing his friend survived the physical trauma, he hardly dared contemplate the awful possibility that Adam would come out controlled by the Mysterons. He knew without any doubt that he would shoot him if that happened, because he had promised it; but he could not bring himself to imagine just what it would feel like killing Captain Blue.
“Think positive!” He told himself sternly. “This is going to work - this has to work.”
“Paul?” He turned to see Dianne standing some distance away from him. He scowled at her and turned away as she came closer; when she gently put her hand on his arm, he jumped as if in pain.
“Paul, please: talk to me.”
He turned to look at her, his blue eyes dark with foreboding. “I can’t, Dianne. I don’t know what to say.”
“I know you are worried… about Adam and all of this. But, sweetheart, if you can’t even share these things with me, it makes me wonder, just how important is our relationship to you?” she hated herself even as she asked the question. This kind of pressure was just what he didn’t need right now and here she was making it worse.
“It’s just about the only thing that is keeping me sane right now - that’s how important you are to me!” He hastened to reassure her, grasping her hand tightly, and she smiled to see the affection surge into his eyes. He tried to answer her question, “I am worried; worried that I’m missing something - something that might make all the difference. I keep going over in my mind what happened and I can’t pinpoint it, Di - I just can’t remember! It’s there; I know it and my inability to remember could send my closest friend to his death!”
“Paul, you cannot blame yourself for this! Adam knows the risks - good grief, you’ve said yourself he weighs every risk factor before he’ll even cross to the flight deck!” He smiled at her. “Look, if I can’t help, have you thought of talking to Adam? Between you, you are the only two who know anything about this machine and what it does, and perhaps he can jog your memory - or even think of something himself - he’s a bright lad, you know!”
He sighed and admitted, “I called in before I came here, only he was on the videophone talking to his mother.”
She frowned. “How’s he doing that? I mean, she can’t be allowed to know there are two of him.”
“Sound only, due to some minor technical difficulty, I understand,” Scarlet grinned. “He thinks of everything.”
“Well, I can’t imagine he’ll be on the phone to Boston for that long. Karen says she has to nag him to call them once a month, as it is.” She hesitated. “Look, let’s all go and have a drink and something to eat, you, me, Karen, Adam and Blue.”
“The condemned man ate a hearty meal…” Paul muttered.
“Stop it! Lets go and collect the others and we’ll paint this floating den of wickedness bright red - if not actually scarlet!”
“Floating den of wickedness? Cloudbase?” He laughed outright. “What gave you that idea?”
“My Grandmother, who’s just enough of a stickler to object to me living up here with all these unmarried men.”
“Who does she think you are - Messalina?”
Dianne laughed. “Probably. Now jump to it Captain- at the double, soldier!”
They found Karen in her quarters, sitting on the futon with Adam stretched out with his head in her lap and Blue resting against her shoulder on the other side. She looked up and smiled in bemusement as they came in on her invitation.
“My, you all look cosy,” Dianne said with a grin at her friend.
“Yeah, aren’t we just?” Karen laughed back, rolling her eyes towards the men who hemmed her in like bookends.
Adam sat up and swung his legs to the ground. “A meal in the restaurant, eh?” he said, “I just might be able to eat something.”
“How did you know I was going to suggest that?” Dianne gasped.
“Didn’t you say something?” he asked Scarlet.
Scarlet shook his head. “Not a word,” he turned to look at Blue, his eyes wide with shocked surprise. “Adam!” he gasped.
“What?” they both asked.
Frowning Scarlet pointed at Blue. “You were thinking about Hawaii? And… what happened when you and Karen went there last year.”
The three of them looked at him in surprise, and Karen started to blush, turning to glare at Blue as if he had been telling secrets.
“So he was,” Adam said unperturbed. He hugged Karen who was getting ever more embarrassed.
“What did happen?” Dianne asked confused.
“Nothing you need worry about,” Karen said quickly. “And nothing you had ever better mention again, Metcalfe.”
“But how did Paul know what Blue was thinking and Adam know about the restaurant?” Dianne questioned them. “Can you read each other’s minds?”
The twins looked at each other and then at Scarlet who was frowning as he struggled to focus on the fuzzy thoughts just at the edge of his mind. “Yes, I think we can…” he murmured. “At least I know what you’re thinking about - and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, Blue.”
“His is a real one track mind,” Adam said and laughed at his ‘twin.’
Karen looked helplessly at Dianne and then back to the ‘twins’. “You two can do it with each other?” They nodded. “But not with other people, I mean not with me!” She was aghast.
“Honey, we don’t need to read your mind,” Blue said with a kiss in her direction.
“But now you can do it with Paul?” Dianne asked. “When did all this start?” She nudged Scarlet for an answer as he continued sniggering at whatever the twins were thinking about.
“Just now - when Blue was thinking about...”
“So you said already,” Karen interrupted with some ferocity.
Scarlet bit his lip and looked wide eyed at Adam, who was standing looking inappropriately innocent by his side.
“What is going on?” Dianne persisted, looking at Scarlet who was still trying to fight his mounting amusement without much success. “And when did you two start mind-reading each other?”
“Yeah, when - exactly?” Karen asked turning to glare at the pair of them.
“Oh, ages ago,” Blue said airily.
“Well, the other night anyway,” Adam qualified. “I knew Blue couldn’t sleep and he knew... what we had been talking about that afternoon.” He gave Karen an apologetic smirk. “It’s been getting easier since it started,” he added thoughtfully. “But this is the first time it’s ever happened with anyone else.”
“Oh great, this is worse than ever!” Karen sighed. “Let’s go and eat, it might take all their minds off… you know,” she suggested with a despairing look at the grinning Scarlet.
Dianne turned to lead the way. “ I‘ll thank you to keep your mind away from any comparable incidents you might be tempted to recall, Captain Scarlet,” she said with a wave of her finger in his direction.
“Way too late for that,” Blue smiled as he offered his arm to Karen.
Dianne drew in a sharp intake of breath and said, “Come along, Paul, you’ve got some explaining to do over dinner."
Karen grinned as Dianne swept past, apparently mollified to think that the twins had equally compromising information on her friends!
As she waited for Adam to take her other arm, a somewhat chastened Paul whispered to Karen, “I’m surprised at you, Ms Wainwright.”
“Whatever for? Didn’t you ever see From Here to Eternity?” She retorted and walked off with her arms linked with the twins.
After some discussion, Blue convinced them all to go to the official bistro situated across from the Promenade Deck. This restaurant was the only place on Cloudbase where you could - officially - get an alcoholic drink, apart from the VIP restaurant, which was only used to entertain visiting non-Spectrum personnel. The waitress service meant that no-one could drink more than the regulation limit, but Scarlet discovered that somehow Blue had charmed the waitress into bringing them additional bottles of wine along with the substantial meals both twins seemed prepared to consume.
Towards the end of the meal Scarlet felt the beginning of a headache between his eyes. He was surprised when a few minutes later it hadn’t cleared. He frowned and looked across at Adam and Blue who were both drinking their third - or was it fourth? - glass of red wine. He concentrated, deliberately clearing his mind of conscious thought, and was startled when he discovered he could hear a background hum. He focused on it and rode the thought waves coming across the table. The twins were both tipsy and wondering just what was going to happen when it came time to go to bed. They seemed to be carrying on a regular conversation with each other without speaking or stopping whatever else they were doing or talking about. This private communication was smattered with words Scarlet did not know - Nordic words he guessed, and occasionally with images that replaced whole sentences. Scarlet smirked and, unbidden, the thought came into his conscious mind that Blue had a much wilder imagination than he had ever credited the staid Captain Blue with. Moments later, both Svensons looked across at him, glaring at the intrusion.
“You two had better sober up, you’re giving me a headache,” he complained.
“Must be awhile since you had one of those,” Karen smiled at him.
“Yes, I had forgotten that life without retrometabolism can be a real pain,” he joked.
“You are not suggesting that you have lost that ability, or that Captain Blue will have gained it?” Dianne almost choked on her wine.
Scarlet laughed. “No, just how you all suffer!”
“You are becoming insufferable, Paul,” she warned him playfully.
Blue punched numbers into the jukebox and coerced Karen into dancing with him. Adam watched languidly as his twin swung her around, her laughter growing with every extravagant twirl.
“I thought you said you couldn’t dance?” Rhapsody said to Adam, watching Blue’s performance with surprise.
He turned to her with a patronising smile. “Mrs Svenson’s sons have to be proficient in every social grace and it’s not exactly rocket science. I endured so many lessons as a child that it’s just something I can’t be bothered with any longer, but Blue doesn’t think like that - he likes to be doing something.”
“You’ll be telling me you can sing next,” she retorted irritated by his condescending tone.
“’Fraid not,” he laughed, his normal good humour reasserting itself. “Not all the lessons in the World can do much about that!”
Following the example of Blue and Symphony several other patrons had started to dance. After a few minutes a somewhat hesitant Lieutenant Sorrel came across and asked Rhapsody if she would dance with him. Knowing Paul wanted to talk to Adam, she accepted and joined her friends out on the busy dance floor.
The two men sat in silence watching their partners and then Adam asked simply, without taking his eyes off Karen, “What happened to you after the geminator?”
Scarlet sighed and answered quietly, “I became human again. The clone was the Mysteron. Black believed the clone could not speak and he may have been right, but he did not realise that the clone was communicating through telepathy - directly with the Mysterons. I could sense his thoughts - I can’t explain it. I knew they had turned their attention from Black towards what they saw as the superior servant. That left Black without his usual guidance and he wasn’t thinking properly. I knew I had to divert his attention, so that he would not realise what was happening. My only chance of turning the tables lay in not letting the Mysterons realise what I knew and in keeping Black unsure which of us was the ‘right’ one. So I stabbed myself with a screwdriver. It did the trick, at least.”
“Did you know you would heal?” Adam’s head half turned to him, but their eyes did not meet.
“I suspected as much. I could feel the retrometabolism working through my system - as if it assumed the effects of the geminator were wounds and it had to patch me up. Lucky it did, I guess, because whilst it was working overtime to get me back to normal, it was absorbing the clone's energy faster than he could absorb mine."
Now their eyes met and Scarlet’s shone as he explained, “I had forgotten just how wonderful it is to be a wholly human being - to feel and understand everything with such clarity. I usually look at the world through eyes that are partly veiled to the true beauty of it all. I guess Mysterons don't have much use for beauty..." He looked across at his friend. Adam's face wore its usual attentive expression and Paul began to try to explain, feeling that here, at last, was someone who must know something about how he felt. "I was human, Adam, and for that short time I knew that whatever happened, the Mysterons would never be able to take control of me again. But the feelings within me told me that I still had the power of retrometabolism - I was still virtually indestructible! Can you imagine how that feels? I felt invincible and powerful - its a heady mixture...” His voice trailed into silence as he saw a slight frown between his friend's brows and the barely concealed look of unease in his pale blue eyes.
Paul sighed. No, not even Adam - an Adam who had experienced the geminator as he had - could understand the emotions involved with his unique situation. And if Adam couldn't - who could? Perhaps only Captain Black would understand the symbiotic existence of the Mysteron and the human in one body - and then only if his cowed humanity was allowed to flourish once more. For now, he was still alone in his strange world and the frown on Adam's face was deepening. Sadly, Captain Scarlet realised that the idea of a human being with his abilities was something Adam could not easily accept - he had never realised before that his friend was only comfortable with his powers of recovery because he rationalised it as an alien attribute.
"Lord, I must sound like a complete megalomaniac!” he said with a rueful grin and dropped his gaze to his hand, where the scar had now completely disappeared. “But I cannot tell you how dejected I felt when I had reabsorbed the clone and that part of me which knows the Mysterons was back.”
Looking up, he saw pity flood into Adam’s eyes - with this, at least, Adam could understand enough to sympathise. “Well, to some of us mere mortals it looks as if you are invincible and we are grateful for it, my friend,” he smiled kindly.
“No, I’m just a guy doing what I can to keep this old world turning,” Scarlet shrugged. “And what little I am able to do, I could not do without the support of all of my friends.”
“Paul, you should never doubt that you have that - wholeheartedly. And you shouldn’t need me to keep telling you that, either.” Adam’s tone was slightly irritable. He swivelled round and placed his hands on the table, fingers steepled together, as he forced himself to concentrate and shut out the thoughts and emotions of his twin. “Now, what is so worrying you can’t talk to me or Dianne about it?”
Startled, Scarlet growled, “Get out of my head, Svenson. I don’t understand why this is happening, but I won’t invade your mind intentionally, if you don’t invade mine.”
“Agreed. Come on, they’ll be back soon - Spill the beans, Paul.”
Scarlet looked across at his friend, that famous patience appeared to be wearing thin and his normally good-tempered expression had been replaced by an exasperated look. Wondering if he was still wary of him, Scarlet was tempted into risking a quick dip into Adam's thoughts and understanding came with the overwhelming sense of anxious jealousy that was still sloshing around Adam's mind from watching Karen enjoying herself with Blue. Suddenly Adam's attention focused on the intrusive presence and he glared across the table at Scarlet, who acknowledged his trespass with an appeasing smile. Adam sighed.
Feeling rather like a naughty schoolboy, Scarlet began, “I’m not a natural telepath and neither are you, so the only link can be the geminator. You and Blue are part of the same mind anyway, so that’s no great surprise, but you and me? It suggests the Mysterons’s hold over you is growing. The clone was using telepathy to communicate with the Mysterons and their hold over Conrad is the same - they control his mind. Buried deep within him is what’s left of his humanity and even after all these years, it surfaces sometimes, which might explain some of his more… uncharacteristic actions at times. However, it’s been so long since they took control of him I doubt he could function for long without both elements now - I could feel his unease and … fear when they turned from him to the Scarlet clone. He couldn’t think straight. Hopefully, you won’t have that problem - it’s only been a matter of days since… it happened.”
“Can the geminator reverse the process?” Adam asked bluntly.
“That’s what I can’t remember!” Scarlet’s fist crashed onto the table. “I am sure I did know because the clone knew what the Mysterons knew and for a short time afterwards I could remember everything! Black was most definitely alive after he fainted from the treatment, I felt a pulse. But that was only a matter of seconds before they called him back and they already had control of his mind even before he vanished. I know they did. I think it may depend on how much exposure the victim has had to the process, the speed of the merger between the clones and the openness of the victim's mind to Mysteron control. You had limited exposure and you and Blue still haven't merged, at least not entirely, even yet. And I'm damn sure neither of you want the Mysterons to take control of your minds! When I absorbed the clone and the Mysteron side of me was back, I could feel them in his mind still trying to control me through him - such an overwhelming power and … hate, I thought I would go mad - and then the retrometabolism cut in and squashed him like alien bacteria! He’s still within me, he always will be, but he’s harmless, they cannot reactivate him now.”
“The retrometabolism? You could feel it?”
“Like an adrenaline surge. How it works, I cannot hope to understand, but, you see, it’s like there is this energy within you. How and why it stayed with me when you …”
“Killed you,” Captain Blue said shortly.
“Saved me, “Scarlet corrected. “I cannot begin to explain, but it is independent of them now - they cannot stop it and they cannot over-ride it.”
Adam pursed his lips and shrugged. “Black and you have both been under the control of the Mysterons - I never have, and I’m not now - as far as I know, although I accept your comment on the telepathy. I don’t have retrometabolism, would that I did, for once! However, I am not prepared to let either of us," he nodded toward Blue on the dance floor, "become Mysterons and if the geminator will break their hold and leave me at peace with my own mind, I am willing to go through with it. I know that this balance between Blue and myself cannot last indefinitely - he is pushing all the time to gain the upper hand." Adam gave a grim smile. "So far I can handle him, but I don't know if I always will be able to. I cannot say, any more than you could, that I am looking forward to taking in such a part of myself - but at least he is a part of me and not alien, and I have caged him before and will again."
The pair sat in silence for awhile, each busy with their own thoughts - and more alike in their hopes and fears than they realised.
Adam was the first to shake off his introspection and he said brightly, "The fact that the Mysterons abandoned Black, however briefly, and that you could feel them in the clone’s mind until you managed to subdue him - suggests they are vulnerable to confusion.” He went silent again and Paul recognised the intense look of concentration on his face and sat quietly so as not to disturb him.
After a time, during which Adam had said nothing, Scarlet glanced up to see Blue and Karen coming back towards the table - he waved them away, shaking his head. Blue frowned as his habitual paranoia took control and he was obviously trying to enter his ‘twin’s’ thoughts. Adam’s head dropped into his hands and he growled ‘No’ as he shrugged off the intrusion.
Dianne hurried across with Sorrel still in attendance. She slipped her hand into Blue’s and smiled invitingly as he hesitated; he finally went back to the dance floor with her. Sorrel sheepishly offered his hand to the distracted Symphony. Seeing Scarlet’s frown, she gave Sorrel her hand and turned away again.
Scarlet watched them until they were safely away. Adam had not moved. Then slowly his hands dropped from his face and he looked across at his friend, reaching out in his thoughts and gently probing Scarlet's mind. Once more Scarlet was taken aback at the strength of the mind he encountered and he resisted angrily.
Adam’s mind recoiled and he smiled. “Good, you can throw me out. I think I know how we could do it, but I don’t know if I have the right to ask you to share the risk.”
“Take it from me, you have the right,” Scarlet said matter of factly.
“I think it is likely that I would survive a second exposure to the geminator - in fact I think it might even be essential that I do go back - however unappealing the thought is. This delay in the merger of Blue and myself suggests to me that we may have not received enough of the treatment for the process to work completely and that we may be stuck like this forever - in an endless battle for dominance, until one or other of us ...ceases.” He gave Paul a wry smile at his friend’s startled reaction to his use of Javorsky’s term. Adam had not wasted his time in sick bay and he had charmed Doctor Javorsky into revealing a good deal more about his predicament than Doctor Fawn knew or would have approved of. “At least I am willing to bet my life on it,” he conceded, adding, “As to the probability that the Mysterons would try to take control of my mind - when I get the correct dose of rays - well, I think that we should be safe enough in the geminator, if you come too.” Adam tapped his head. “In here. If the Mysterons are... lying in wait for me, they’ll go for you as they did when they abandoned Black for your clone and your retrometabolism will see them off. I hope.”
“Adam, that could spell disaster!” gasped Scarlet.
“Why? At the very worst you’ll be able to do the crossword quicker and I might finally get to understand the fascination of cricket!”
“It’s not a joke.”
“And don’t think I don’t know it, Paul, but you would be in control of the situation. I’m damn sure that I couldn’t throw you out of my mind as you just did to me - try,” he offered, dropping his guard.
Hesitantly Scarlet let his thoughts mix with his friend’s. Adam had constructed a defensive jumble of images, some of which Scarlet had no problem recognising: his home in Boston, his family and his classic Italian sports car – of which he was inordinately proud – but there were more faces and places he didn’t know. Beyond these defences lay lustrous miasmas of pure thought. He had no conscious desire to probe too far but one image of a young woman with black hair and brown eyes drew him in, curious to investigate.
He was startled when he thought he heard Adam shouting, “Paul! Go away now - please!” He looked across at his friend’s pale face, and saw the sweat on his upper lip as he fought for control. Scarlet retreated immediately and Adam let out a huge sigh.
“That was neither easy nor comfortable.”
“The girl with the dark hair and eyes,” Scarlet asked, still lost in the bright images, “is it… was that…?
“Yes, that was Soraya.” Adam blushed. “It has been awhile since I could remember her face that well, but Blue has stirred up a lot of emotional memories I thought I had under control - not all of them happy ones. I mean it’s kinda nice to know she’s still in there, somewhere.”
Paul knew the story of how Adam’s fiancée had died in a car bomb assassination attempt on his life and he knew his friend still blamed himself for that more than a dozen years later.
“Only there did seem to be some powerful emotions associated with the memory,” he tried to explain to an Adam observing his embarrassment with ironic eyes.
“Yeah? Well don’t tell Karen!”
Paul could tell it had unsettled Adam more than he wished to acknowledge. “Not a word,” he promised.
After a pause Adam asked, “Well, what do you think? If we are going to give this a try we'll need to speak to Fawn at the very least - maybe the Colonel too. It wouldn't be fair to run the risk of your falling under the thrall of the Mysterons again without putting people on their guard."
Scarlet nodded. "He'll say 'no' of course - the Colonel."
"He can say what he likes - he can't actually stop us if we both agree to do it," Adam pointed out. "Will you be able to squash the aliens if they come for us?” The lightness of tone belied the seriousness of the question.
Paul snapped his fingers. “No sweat! Unlike you, Svenson.”
“Well, I wasn’t gonna let you rummage unfettered through my subconscious! All I got from your mind was an image of Dianne and what looked like the schematics for an SPV!”
“Actually, it was an analysis of the fielding placements from the last Ashes test match, I was reading about them earlier.” They laughed and Paul said, “I just might go and dance with Dianne. Whatever you and Blue and Karen are planning to do tonight - and I don’t want to know -" he added as Adam began to protest, "you are on your own… so to speak, from hereon in. I have a beautiful lady to pay court too.”
The following morning, Scarlet met up with the twins in the officers' lounge. Blue was yawning and Adam looked tired, but he refrained from comment and studiously avoided their thoughts, for which courtesy Adam, at least, was grateful. As it happened, Karen had given them both a chaste kiss and locked them out of her quarters with a firm 'good night'. Thereafter they had sat up all night playing poker with Magenta and then Ochre when they changed shifts. Blue had become extremely petulant when he lost repeatedly - not to the other captains, but to Adam. He accused his twin of cheating and had tipped the table over in a temper - bruising Ochre's left shin rather badly as a result. Consequently, he was in Doctor Fawn's bad books when they went back to sickbay to discuss their intentions.
Scarlet began to explain what they intended to do, telling Fawn about the telepathy. Then Adam explained his theory of how they might avoid handing Captain Blue to the Mysterons, by setting a 'honey trap' using Scarlet's mind. The Doctor was, as they had expected, sceptical but not dismissive. He insisted they tell the Colonel, which caused another delay as their commanding officer was unimpressed by their reasoning.
Finally Blue had had enough of all the wrangling and he stood up from the conference table and announced, "Well, either we go through the arch with the safeguards we have devised - or I don't go through it at all!"
"You don't mean that," Scarlet reasoned.
"Oh yes I do. I only have your words for it that anything would happen to me if I just carried on as I am now. I'm not sure I believe it anymore." He glared at Scarlet who was looking at him with exasperation. "I don't have to stand for any of this if I don't want to - you can't make me."
Adam sighed. "No, he can't - but I can and I will." His voice grew harsh and authoritative. "Now sit down and shut up! I have had just about as much as I can take of your bad manners, tantrums and loutish behaviour. Use what little common sense you have, Adam, and try to behave with some self-discipline and courtesy!"
Blue turned hostile eyes on Adam's set face and the two men stared wordlessly at each other. Scarlet could hear the vituperative thoughts between them - although he tried his damnedest not to. Finally Blue dropped his eyes and slouched back into his seat, glowering.
Adam gave an embarrassed grimace at his astonished colleagues. "I do a mean impersonation of my Dad, when pushed," he said non-committally.
Colonel White was concerned to see the deterioration in the balanced relationship between the twins. He realised that there were no other logical options and that he couldn't stop them from carrying out their plan anyway - so he gave his permission - whilst stipulating that electron ray guns and Mysteron detectors be taken and used if necessary.
"You must be aware, Captain Scarlet, that if by using yourself as a decoy you do fall into Mysteron hands, your colleagues will be under direct orders to shoot you with the electron guns and the same will apply to Adam and Blue - or whichever of them survives the geminator."
"We are all aware of that, sir, and we are all willing to take the risk," Scarlet replied.
The Colonel looked at Adam who nodded and then at Blue who shrugged and cast a withering look at his twin. "Yeah," he muttered.
With a sigh, Fawn announced they were ready and The Colonel ordered Destiny to fly the SPJ to Prague.
Symphony had also been to see the Colonel, demanding to go too, but as he pointed out, she was still signed off sick and he was aware that neither Adam nor Blue wanted her to witness the experiment, so he refused to listen to her pleas. Fuming, she burst into the loading bay, where the small group to make the trip were waiting.
“He won’t let me come with you!” She cried, throwing herself into Adam’s arms. Gently he drew her away from the others and with Blue hovering in attendance, he soothed her rage.
“It’s for the best, älskling. It will make it easier for us if you wait here.”
“You told him not to let me, didn’t you?” she accused, pushing him away. “How could you do that? You’ve hurt me more than I ever imagined possible; don’t you care about my feelings at all?”
Blue took her in his arms and held her close as she struggled. “Listen to the man, älskling, he knows what’s best - for all three of us.”
“But Adam…” she began to protest further.
Blue’s face softened as she acknowledged for the first time that he was, at least an aspect of, Adam Svenson and he silenced her with a kiss. “Whatever happens in Prague and whichever of us comes back - and I am sure one of us will; don’t ever forget that I loved you just as much as... he does. I may be less decorous in showing it, but I feel just the same.”
Tears flooded into her eyes. “I know. I’m sorry I blacked your eye.” She smiled at him, reaching up to gently touch the fading bruise.
“You’re forgiven - as always. Just don’t take anything out on him when he comes back.” She would never know just what it cost him to make that request!
Karen frowned. “You don’t think you will come back, do you?”
“Sure I will - as part of Captain Blue, just as I always was before this happened!” He couldn’t keep a wistful note from his voice as he added, “You could do me a favour now and again and make him lighten up a little, so I can get to come out and play!” Then he winked at her and she blushed.
Adam joined them. “Karen, before we go, we want to tell you… We’ve made a will - well updated the old one, really. But we have both signed this one and it was witnessed by the Colonel and Doctor Fawn, this morning. Not even my Father should be able to dispute it!”
“Won’t stop him trying though,” Blue muttered darkly.
“Why tell me?” she asked, looking from one face to the other.
“Well, apart from some bequests to my mother and sister - mostly family stuff and the usual payment of debts and so on…”
“And Paul gets the car - he’s always coveted that,” Blue interjected with a grin.
“Yeah, Paul gets the car, but everything else is yours. If you want my advice you’ll leave the greater part of it where it is. It’s mostly tied up in securities and real estate anyway but whatever his faults, my Dad makes money hand over fist and he’ll make sure you get the best return out of it.”
“My advice would be spend it and have a good time, but you’d better listen to Adam, I suppose.”
“How much are we talking about, you’re making it sound like a fortune,” she said uneasily.
“Not that much really, a couple of million, that’s all,” Adam confessed.
“What!” she gasped at him. “You call that not much?”
“Well, we are a Svenson when all is said and done,” Blue said with a rare display of family pride.
“It’s too late to change it now, honey, and anyway - we’ll be back,” Adam said hugging her. “So don’t plan on spending it all just yet.” She opened her mouth to protest but saw the wicked humour in his smile in time, so she contented herself with a rueful grin and he laughed. “Now give us both a kiss and go and wave from the Promenade deck.” She showed signs of beginning to protest again and he continued, a little curtly, “Please älskling, just for once, don’t argue.”
Speechless, she kissed them both and meekly went out of the loading bay.
“That went as well as could be expected,” Blue said sadly as the door swung shut behind her. “Come on, lets get aboard before they come looking for us.”
Prague - later that day
Back in Prague Commander Ziak had everything prepared at the warehouse. He greeted Doctor Fawn and Captain Scarlet and gawped at both Captain Blues, before shaking their hands fervently. Giardello, Magenta and Green were already in the room, and there were two stretchers against the wall and one of Fawn’s portable emergency beds next to the archway. It was a sobering sight.
Blue gave a deep, slightly shaky sigh and walked up to the geminator, running his hand down the smooth metallic side. He said lightly, “Never really thought I’d be here again.”
“Are you still sure about this?” asked Fawn. He knew that everyone now expected it would be Blue who was ‘absorbed’ and he felt a wave of sympathy for the individual, who, however annoying, had become such a vital personality in his own right.
“Oh yes, Doctor, I can’t see any alternative, can you?” Blue said quietly. He looked at Adam and with a flash of insight asked the question currently bothering his twin, “Do we have to strip off?”
Fawn shrugged. “You were both naked when we found you in sickbay and Scarlet was stripped by the Mysteron agents.”
“Oh good, something else to look forward to,” Adam muttered, turning away from them all.
With a sudden return of his high spirits Blue teased, “Well, admit it - you’ve always fancied a bit of bondage!” He rattled the handcuffs at his outraged double and laughed raucously.
Scarlet hid his amusement and patted Adam’s shoulder. “Now I know why you didn’t want Karen to come along,” he teased. Adam gazed woefully at the archway, aware that Magenta and Green were trying to hide their laughter.
“Wait a moment,” Giardello said. “Am I right in thinking that when you first experienced the geminator, you were not only fully dressed, but also not handcuffed to the machine?”
Ziak confirmed, “When we got here, Captain Blue was lying half way through the machine, he was in full uniform - except that his cap had fallen off when he fainted, I expect.”
“Then, if we are seeking to reproduce the dosage, we should do the same,” Giardello suggested.
“What? Just have me walk into the machine?” Blue said, frowning. “We’d have to do it simultaneously wouldn’t we, and Scarlet says we shouldn’t have physical contact.”
“Besides, I’d bet that the uniforms offer more protection that these T-shirts and jeans,” Adam added soberly.
“Well, you can borrow a couple of tunics, at least,” said Fawn, briskly. “I think Dr Giardello has a point. We should keep to the original exposure as much as possible, in case excess dosage is fatal.”
The two Blues gazed unhappily at each other.
“Adam?” Scarlet asked.
“Let’s do it. I can’t bear arguing any more,” he snapped. Blue nodded.
Giardello went to the control panel and flicked a switch. “That’s in standby mode as it must have been for your entry to have triggered it.” He began to study the dials and compare them with his notes.
Blue looked at Adam and they moved to stand side by side. Doctor Fawn fussed about, and Magenta and Green were still making final checks when the twins unexpectedly darted through the archway stride for stride. The geminator sparked into life with two electrical flashes earthing themselves in the bodies. Both fell to the ground, groaning as the pulses continued to strike them.
“Adam?” Scarlet moved towards them, the only one not surprised by the incident, as he was already watching his friend’s mind. “How long does this go on for? Do we know?” he asked, as the question floated into his mind. It was reassuring, he thought, that Adam could still formulate clear thoughts.
“We estimate about five minutes before Ziak got to him,” Magenta said, coming out of his surprise. “Although the readouts were none too helpful.”
“Three minutes to go,” Green informed them, watching the timer carefully.
Scarlet went to kneel beside the archway, careful to avoid the sparking bursts of electricity.
“Minute thirty,” Green counted. “Fifty seconds, forty, thirty, twenty...”
“Oh for crying out loud!” Scarlet yelped and grabbed Blue’s arms, heaving him free of the geminator. Ziak hastened to pull Adam free.
“Captain Scarlet!” Giardello protested. “You might have ruined the whole thing!”
“No I haven’t. He’s still with us,” he told Fawn, tapping his head. He moved the bodies closer together and laid them on their sides with their arms across each other. “What else?” He gently moved their heads so that the foreheads touched. “Best I can do, now it’s up to you. Just remember to hold on to yourself; because this is gonna hurt like hell,” he advised the apparently unconscious twins.
They watched and waited for what seemed an age but could not have been more than four or five minutes before Adam stirred. Convulsions racked his body and he began to shake uncontrollably. Blue’s response began a moment later and then both began to moan. It started as a low keening and rose inexorably to echo around the room.
Scarlet concentrated, trying to keep a watch on both minds, whilst fighting the waves of pain and fear that threatened at one point to overwhelm all three of them. He could sense no malevolent presence in either mind, only the torment of the twins. His stamina began to fail as the strain of concentration increased. It was with a feeling of relief that he began to sense the gradual melding of the two minds and personalities, with Blue‘s individuality ebbing away. There was no struggle from the clone and even in the throes of the pain, Scarlet sensed the indomitable intelligence that governed Captain Blue’s personality easing the process along. It was far easier to hold on to the one mind and easier to detect anything that should not be there.
Giardello crouched down to observe better what was happening and with a moue of disgust, Fawn went to the emergency bed to switch on the power so it would be ready. He heard a click and a hum and knew, without looking, that Ziak, Magenta and Green had, in accordance with direct orders from the Colonel, all switched on their electron rifles; one for Adam, one for Blue and one for Scarlet - if necessary. He found himself muttering a prayer and crossing his fingers for luck.
Suddenly Scarlet stood and turned towards them. Green stiffened as he recognised the same, almost demonic, expression on his face, reminiscent of Scarlet’s own assimilation battle. It was obvious there was a terrible struggle going on in that mind, as once more Scarlet wrestled with the Mysterons. He fell to his knees, moaning and shaking his head, his hands tearing at his hair as if to try to physically remove the alien presence.
Magenta crossed himself and Green heard him murmur a prayer. “All we need now is bell, book and candle,” he thought and immediately felt guilty at such frivolity of mind amidst so much suffering.
Everyone was so busy watching Scarlet that no-one noticed the final, gentle absorption of Blue and all five men gasped with shock as Captain Blue knelt unsteadily and reached to grab Scarlet’s uniform tunic.
“Paul,” he called weakly, “Paul, what can I do?”
Scarlet did not answer. His mind was focused completely on ridding itself of the Mysteron influence which seemed so much more formidable than it had before. Leaving him, Blue crawled with a painful slowness towards Magenta who stooped to help him to his feet. Fawn moved to assist but Blue shrugged them both off and reached down to lift Magenta’s handgun from his holster.
“What?” Magenta stammered with surprise as Blue extended a shaky arm, steadied himself against Magenta’s body and pulled the trigger with difficulty. The shot buried itself in Scarlet’s back. He fell forward with the impact, gasping at the pain.
“Blue’s a Mysteron!” Giardello shouted. “Shoot him!”
Ziak aimed his electron rifle at Blue, who, exhausted by his efforts, had collapsed back to the floor; but before he could pull the trigger, Magenta moved to stand over his colleague, protecting him from the shot in response to Fawn's shouted, "No!" Ziak looked towards the Captain for confirmation of Giardello’s orders, but Magenta was now watching Fawn who had rushed to Scarlet’s side as he fell and was holding the injured man in his arms.
Fawn recognised the unmistakable signs that Scarlet’s unique natural defences were kicking in and that, at the same time, the man’s mental anguish was subsiding and he was growing calmer.
“Of course,” Fawn said as the realisation dawned on him. “It is Scarlet’s retrometabolism that defeats the Mysterons, but the process only kicks in when the body is injured. Captain Blue’s shot has started the process - Scarlet’s body did not regard the Mysterons’s invasion of his mind as an injury - but once it starts to work on an obvious wound, it clears all altered matter from the system. It returns the body and the mind to the state it was in before he was retrometabolised! Why didn’t I see it before? When Scarlet faced the Mysteron threat before, his retrometabolism was already working on the effects of the geminator, and subsequently on his wounded hand. This time it was not in action until Blue shot him! Captain Blue was only doing what he could to assist his friend; there is no need to believe he’s been mysteronised.”
Lieutenant Green had grabbed a Mysteron detector and he now displayed the x-ray photograph of Captain Blue to the others, “For what its worth,” he said.
Fawn instructed Green and Ziak to lift the now unconscious Blue to the emergency bed then he muttered, “I knew I should have brought two of them.”
He bent to examine Scarlet again.
The Spectrum Captain’s blue eyes focused blearily on him. “Adam?” he said.
Fawn nodded. “He made it - thanks to you. He’ll be fine.”
Scarlet smiled. “So will I, thanks to him.” He closed his eyes and drifted into the familiar sleep of death once more.
Some weeks later, a fully recovered Captain Scarlet was sitting in the Officers’ lounge reading a newspaper whilst beside him Rhapsody was busy writing a letter. On the far side of the room Captains Ochre and Magenta were arguing amicably over a game of cards.
The medical team of Fawn, Tan and Javorsky, had undertaken several days of exhaustive tests on Blue and Scarlet. It had been proved that they could no longer communicate telepathically, and that neither had suffered any permanent effects from the mingling of their minds, leaving Captain Blue - as he confessed to his friend with a rueful grin - none the wiser about the joys of cricket!
Now Captain Blue was in Boston on convalescence leave, having been declared ‘cured but exhausted’ by Doctor Fawn. Symphony had left a few days after him to join him for a holiday - ostensibly to celebrate his 40th birthday, which fell on the 26th August. They were due back at the start of September when Calypso would be returning to the standby Angels base at Glenn Field.
The geminator had been carefully dismantled and the parts stored away in several secure Spectrum repositories against the day they might find a way to make use of it. Fencl’s notes had also been placed in the maximum security archive, along with all the additional information discovered by Magenta, Green and Doctor Fawn.
Everything seemed to have got back to normal.
An Ensign came in with the post and handed the letters around. Scarlet looked at the small pile he had been given; they were mostly bills and circulars as usual, but there were two letters - one from his mother and one with a Boston postmark. Paul recognised the writing and slit it open to reveal an ornately printed gilt card.
Mr and Mrs John Svenson
Request the pleasure of the company of
Colonel Sir Paul Metcalfe
At the marriage of their son,
Adam John to Karen Amanda Wainwright
On Saturday 24th August 2075
He looked across at Rhapsody who was reading an identical card. Her face lit up with delight. “They’re gonna do it, they’re actually gonna do it!” she whispered excitedly as she hugged him, kissing his cheek.
“Yes, I suspected he might be planning something along these lines by the way he kept apologising to me before he left,” Paul grinned at her excited face and added, “I think we may be seeing Blue’s legacy around here for some time to come!”
He turned his card over to see that Adam had written a message on the back.
I do hope you and Dianne can make it. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting leave from the Colonel. Hope to see you here, then with your help and a bit of luck, it will be a much less pretentious event than my parents expect. I have a little task I’d like you to perform, if you’re willing - you’re the best man for the job!
He smiled and stood up holding out a hand to Dianne, who put her writing paper away. They walked towards the Control Room.
“Do you think the Colonel will let us both go?” she asked anxiously.
“I don’t think he’ll have a leg to stand on if he tries to say no,” he laughed and showed her Adam’s note.
“She never even told me,” Dianne complained as she handed the card back.
“Maybe she didn’t know for certain,” Paul reasoned. “Like I said, Adam was being awfully secretive about whatever he was up to before he left.”
“Well, it looks like he’s more of a romantic than I ever gave him credit for,” she confessed.
“Oh yes,” Paul said with a reflective smile. “There’s a lot more to Adam than meets the eye.”
Dianne looked up at him, her head on one side. Ever since the two of them had experienced what Paul insisted on calling the ‘mind meld’ they seemed more in tune with each other then ever. She guessed she was just going to have to get used to it.
In the Control Room, Colonel White was half expecting a visit from Scarlet and Rhapsody Angel. He knew the post was in and he had his own invitation before him on his desk. The cloning incident had brought home to the lovers just how uncertain their lives were. Indeed, Captain Blue had spoken frankly about his intentions during their long, private debriefing session before he went on leave. He had gone so far as to offer his resignation should it be required, rather than be diverted from his purpose and the steely glint in his sharp blue eyes had warned the Colonel not to call that particular bluff. There was no way the Colonel could afford to loose so able and experienced an officer; so although he still held reservations about the wisdom of allowing his personnel to become so closely involved with each other, he acquiesced to the Captain’s plans. Besides, he realised marriage would hardly change their current lifestyle beyond regularising their status and permitting them the comfort of a double bed. He did wonder however, what might happen when they started a family and he thought he knew them both well enough to know exactly whose decision that would be!
Colonel White smiled to himself at the memory of Symphony’s flushed face and barely contained excitement as she explained the situation to her commanding officer.
“Adam called this morning and told me he’s obtained a special licence and sent my mother plane tickets so she can come across before the wedding. But he told her she must invite all my old friends from home and he'd send the company jets to fetch them all! He's actually got his Father to call in several favours to enable all the arrangements to be made on time. He’d only just remembered, he said, to call and ask me if I would marry him after all!” She blushed like a schoolgirl and continued, “Because if I wouldn’t he’d have a lot of cancellations and embarrassing explanations to make.”
It had not even occurred to her to wonder if the Colonel would, after all these years of discouraging their union, still raise objections. And, if he was honest with himself, the Colonel knew he had neither the heart nor the inclination to oppose them any longer. Her relationship with Captain Blue had started almost as soon as they met and over years filled with incident and danger, it had grown and developed into a mature and loving relationship that sustained them both.
What happened next had given him a great deal of embarrassment and delight.
“So I wondered, sir, if you would please be so very kind as to escort me at the wedding? It would mean a great deal to me - and to Adam - if you would… give me away, I guess the phrase is, although it always sounds so demeaning …I can’t think of anyone else I would want to do it, sir?”
He remembered how distressed she had been, early in her Spectrum career, when first her grandfather and then her adored Father had died within a short time of each other, and he suspected Adam had played a considerable part in helping her weather her unhappiness at that time. He knew the Wainwrights to have been a close-knit and loving family and he appreciated the significance of her request to him.
“Well, I... eh… I would be honoured, Symphony. Karen. If you are sure…”
“Absolutely, one hundred percent sure!” She threw her arms around him and kissed his cheek. “My Mom will be pleased to see you as well,” she added with an all too conspiratorial grin. “Oh, and you will let Paul and Dianne come too, won’t you, because Adam’s set his heart on having Paul as his best man?” He nodded his agreement and she gave him a dazzling smile. "Oh, I just wish everyone here could come! Do you think Lieutenant Green could rig up a video link or something?" Colonel White looked thoughtfully towards the grinning Lieutenant, but she didn't notice as she babbled on. “Adam’s sent invitations to Paul’s parents - says it’s about time he stopped feeling so intimidated by the General and that Mrs Metcalfe is such a cutie!"
"He's really doing rather well with the arrangements, although it is about time Mom and I leant a hand. When I asked him for his ideas of suitable tunes to walk up the aisle to - he suggested the theme from 'Mission: Impossible'. I think it was meant to be a joke,” she confided to the Colonel with an expression of tolerant forbearance.
Privately, Colonel White thought it was more indicative of incipient panic.
Then in a more considered tone Symphony said, “You know, I think the Mysterons did him a favour, in a weird kind of way. There’s a whole new side of him that even I barely realised was there at all before this happened.”
His reverie was interrupted by the entrance of Scarlet and Rhapsody.
“Ah,” said Colonel White with a smile, “I’ve been expecting a visit from you two.”
Captain Scarlet returned the smile. “Then I guess we’ll just ask if we can go, sir?” He proffered Adam's invitation in the Colonel's direction, meaning to show the message if there was any debate on the point.
The Colonel nodded. “I doubt any one of us would want to miss this,” he said, indicating the identical envelope to theirs that lay on the desk. He picked it up and drew out the card as if to reassure himself and them that it was the same.
“When did you know, sir?” Rhapsody asked. She began to suspect everyone had had a hint about the forthcoming event except her!
“ Only when Symphony came to fetch her leave chitty, although Captain Blue had said a few things that led to me expect something might be in the offing. She told me that the Captain had made arrangements for their wedding and had asked her to marry him - rather the wrong way round, I think,” the Colonel said with a shake of his head. "In my day it was always good manners to secure the lady's agreement first."
Scarlet suspected he was teasing and said, “So her answer was 'no, not until you get it right'?" He grinned. "Karen's always been keen on women's rights."
“Surprisingly, she told him that she must ask me first! One of the few occasions Symphony has actually asked permission to do something before she does it," the Colonel said with surprising good humour. "She has actually asked if I will give her away, which I consider an honour and privilege to do, of course.”
Scarlet grinned, "Well it looks as if someone should warn Boston that the British are coming!"
“It looks as if we’ll get our first proper Spectrum wedding, after all!” Rhapsody corrected with a bright laugh as she slipped her arm through Paul’s.
“Yes,” said Colonel White, “and I have the feeling it won’t be the last.”