A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story
By Marion Woods
the age of television, image becomes more important than substance."
-- S.I. Hayakawa
The man was the centre of attention – he was tall and muscular with piercing blue eyes and tousled dark hair. He had a smooth, clean-shaven face, a straight, short nose and a jutting chin, with just the suggestion of a cleft in the middle. He was dressed in a black jump-suit with a bright red tunic over the top. Around him in the brightly lit room, with walls decorated with rainbows of varying colours, sat an adoring circle of young women: a platinum blonde, a strawberry blonde, a red head, an Oriental and an African-American – all impossibly beautiful and wearing figure-hugging uniforms that emphasised their voluptuous curves. Standing around in an outer circle were half-a-dozen other men – all tall and good-looking. They were also dressed in uniforms similar to the man in red, but each tunic was of a different colour. A more mature man sat at a Perspex desk, his expression stern, yet attentive as the man in red spoke.
“So, you see, Colonel Fright,” the man in red said, in a rich voice vibrant with emotion, “It was just a case of defusing the nuclear bomb within the remaining 45 seconds of the countdown. Of course, I was hampered a little by the wolf gnawing at my left boot and the fact that the two enemy agents were shooting at me with a mortar gun… but I remembered my old Nuclear Physics Professor at Harvard saying that working under pressure was good for the brain and so I just concentrated that little bit harder…” He gave a twinkling smile at the young women – who all sighed with admiration except for the platinum-haired beauty, who fainted dead away. “And I still had time to get little Timmy home before his Mom missed him.”
“Well, on behalf of mankind, Captain Starlight, I want to thank you for saving the world, yet again…. And on your day-off as well. I’m sure the World Government will be prepared to put a little extra in your salary this month, by way of a token of their appreciation.”
The man in red waved an imperious hand in a gesture of modest acknowledgement, “Colonel Fright, believe me it was my pleasure to perform for the whole human race…and to uphold the principles of truth, justice and the American way.”
“Oh, Captain Starlight, you’re just so brave!” gushed the red-head as she leapt to her feet and kissed him, “What would we do without you?”
“Well, Madrigal Seraph, I guess you’d all just … die.”
“Members of the Primary Response Initiative for Saving Mankind – PRISM – I want to thank you all for the parts you played in this dangerous mission. Each of you, in your own small way, contributed to Captain Starlight’s triumph,” the colonel said sententiously.
“Let me shake you by the hand, Captain.” An officer dressed in orange stepped forward and extended his hand to the red captain. “You’re a man in a million.”
“Why thank you, Captain Hokum, but any one of you could have done the same, I’m sure…”
There was a chorus of denials from the others, although one sandy haired, freckled faced man, dressed in a tunic of pale blue and standing at the back of the crowd, muttered in a clipped English accent, “This is so nauseating I think I’m going to be sick…!”
Serenade Seraph turned to him with a disapproving look. “Really, Captain Rue, Captain Starlight has just saved us all from certain death and all you can do is complain.”
“Oh, it’s okay, Serenade, I understand Rue’s disappointment.” Captain Starlight’s voice took on a soothing tone of patient understanding – Captain Rue grimaced. “Captain Rue wanted to help, but I thought it would be much better if he just waited in our PRAM - the Prism Armoured Motorcar we had used in our search for the Scientist’s missing son, which had led us to this nuclear bunker hidden in the snow-bound, forest wilderness. While I dealt with the situation, Rue kept an eye on Timmy as he slept, wrapped in my fur-lined coat. It was an equally valid contribution to the mission, Serenade – Timmy’s well-being was important to us all. It was all over so quickly, of course, that poor Rue hadn’t even finished the crossword by the time I got back… I had to do it for him.”
“Ah, Captain Starlight… is there anything you can’t do?” asked the strawberry-blonde as she too now came to stand beside the gallant Captain Starlight and gazed with devoted admiration into the deep, blue eyes.
“Well, Serenade Seraph… we’ll have to wait to find that out, won’t we?” He smiled archly at the camera and the picture faded.
A jaunty tune started as the credits rolled.
“Captain Starlight….. He’s the one who knows the enemy’s game
Captain Starlight… to his many foes a dangerous name…. a superman!”
A voice-over announced, “Captain Starlight and the members of PRISM are fictional characters, any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Next time on ‘Captain Starlight of PRISM’ the Captain has to save the world from a deadly mutating virus.”
A burst of ironic cheering broke out around the Officers’ Lounge as the programme ended.
“Do we have to watch that dross?” Captain Blue muttered from behind the magazine he was pretending to read.
“Hey, of course we do!” Symphony retorted. “Captain Starlight is just the most hippest programme on any station anywhere!”
“It is total rubbish and that guy… Drake DeBonnaire, makes me want to heave…”
“Oh, Captain Rue,” Melody laughed, “Do we detect a teeny bit of jealousy there? After all, the guy in the blue uniform at PRISM is a complete jerk!”
“You heard the man, Melody – it’s all fiction.” Blue sniffed and folded his magazine. “Why Colonel White doesn’t get it taken off is beyond my comprehension.”
“Ever heard of freedom of expression, buddy?” Ochre grinned as he walked away from the TV. “Besides, they’re careful enough to keep it just obviously not Spectrum… we’d cause a stink if we even tried to get it stopped. You’ll have to learn to live with it, Blue.”
Captain Scarlet sauntered in and smiled at them all. “Hi,” he said.
“You missed it,” Melody reprimanded him, “but we recorded it for you for later. It was great this week – Starlight had to defuse a nuclear bomb and fight off wolves.”
“I don’t know how he does it week after week,” Scarlet grinned. He glanced at Captain Blue, whose face was a picture of indignation. “I guess poor old Rue got it in the neck again?” he asked with a slight jerk of his head towards his friend.
Symphony laughed gaily. “Yes he did. Never mind, Adam, we all know it’s not like that really.”
“Hey, has anyone considered that maybe I should be the one to get offended here?” Scarlet reasoned. “After all the guy in red, who gets to save the world every week, is an American and the blue-clad Brit - whose only function seems to be to get in the way - is a right pain. As always we get to be the baddies or the idiots on these TV shows.”
“Rue isn’t a baddie – he just can’t stand the competition,” Melody said with a broad wink at the disapproving Blue.
“Huh,” the laconic Bostonian said. “The stories are impossible and the acting is dreadful.”
“Yeah, but the costumes are fantastic…” Ochre grinned. “Oh… those Seraphs…!” Melody threw a cushion at him and Symphony shrieked with laughter when he added, “Maybe we should ask the colonel to get our Angels some Seraph-suits?” He threw the cushion back at the outraged Melody.
“In your dreams, Captain. I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those!” she retorted.
“I read they have to have individually moulded fronts on them,” Symphony added, and explained to the puzzled men, “so nothing wobbles when they run?”
Ochre gave a strangled sigh. “A little bit of wobble is fine by me…”
“You can’t mean that you fantasise over those … bimbos!” Melody scoffed.
“Why ever not?” Scarlet asked with apparent surprise. “I guess you’d say that you girls never drool over those hunky PRISM agents either?”
Symphony, who had come to perch on the arm of Blue’s chair, gave a soft sigh. “Well…” She looked in surprise as Blue got up from the chair and walked away from her. “Oh come on, Adam,” she protested in astonishment.
“I have work to do,” he snapped.
She couldn’t believe her boyfriend would be so petty-minded about a TV show. She rolled her eyes to indicate her lack of concern at his opinion.
“You’d be better off remembering that a bird in the hand is worth two on the TV,” Ochre smiled at the incredulous Angel.
Blue frowned. “Joke all you like, Rick. I still think the programme can do our reputation nothing but harm.” He started to walk out of the lounge but as he reached the door the tannoy gave a crackle:
THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS. WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN. YOUR PLANET WILL BE DESTROYED WHEN LIFE IMITATES ART AND STARLIGHT FAILS MANKIND.”
“Oh, great,” Blue moaned, “I hope that doesn’t mean what it sounds as if it might mean…”
Colonel White looked at his agents gathered around the conference table and waited until he had all their attention.
“You have all heard the latest threat? I must say it is a particularly obscure threat this time...”
“No, it’s obvious, sir,” Melody interrupted. “We’d just finished watching ‘Captain Starlight’ when the threat came… It must have something to do with the show.”
“Why would the Mysterons threaten a TV show?” White asked.
“Inter-Galactic good taste?” Blue suggested under his breath.
The colonel suppressed a smile; he tended to agree with Captain Blue’s assessment of the programme – but he knew its current popularity precluded any attempt he might make to get it stopped. What Blue didn’t know was how hard he had already tried.
Melody was not to be dissuaded. “Perhaps they mean to cause panic by doing something connected to the TV show? You know how strenuously the World Government tries to hide the extent and severity of the Mysteron threat from the general public, and if the Mysterons were proven to be responsible for disrupting ‘Captain Starlight’ – the news would be unstoppable – every station would carry it. The whole production and personnel of the series are big news! I read in ‘Hollywood Gossip’ magazine just this last week that they’ve started filming a new series.”
“That’s a possibility,” White agreed, “although, surely the new stories won’t hit our screens for some time yet? Nevertheless, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the Mysterons will attempt to interfere in some way with the show – or the performers, I suppose. I think it would be as well if a couple of agents went down to the studios to check out the personnel and make sure nothing is done along those lines.” He could see the expressions on the faces of his officers and sense the waves of hopeful anticipation… who would be the lucky ones to go? “Captain Scarlet, I think you’d better lead that assignment and Captain Blue…”
”With respect, sir, I think I could be more use somewhere else… in fact, almost anywhere else,” Blue interjected.
“Agreed, Captain. I was about to say you could lead the research squad here on the base. I think it might be useful if Lieutenant Green accompanied Scarlet – he has a good deal of knowledge about the electronic systems they use – and Captain Ochre, for his experience of personnel security…” the colonel paused and looked at the faces of the two Angels, who were both holding their breath. “Melody, as you were such an advocate for the mission, you’d better go along too. You can check out the … young ladies in the cast.”
“Yes, sir, Colonel,” she beamed.
“I think that’s quite enough of our resources to be devoted to a TV show – at least until we get proof positive that it is the target. Dismissed.”
Once out of the conference room, Melody almost skipped along the corridor to get her kit together. Scarlet smiled at the unusually dour Blue, who was standing at his side. “Someone’s happy about it!” he remarked.
Blue sniffed. “I’m thinking you’ll all be wasting your time, but …” he paused, “look after her, Paul, she’s likely to be a little star-struck.”
Scarlet’s smile widened into a grin. “I won’t have to – Ochre’s coming too, remember? There’s nobody quite like Richard Fraser for keeping things in perspective. The first sign of any hero-worshipping and Rick’ll be there, deflating egos…”
Blue’s stern expression mutated into a grin, albeit one tinged with cynicism. “Sure, if he isn’t too preoccupied with discovering just how much of the ‘bits that should wobble’ on the Seraphs, are for real…”
Scarlet’s explosion of laughter made his friend smile. “Now that’s a project I might just be prepared to lend a hand with,” the younger man said with a wink.
“Have fun with your researching… but remember ‘Hell hath no Fury like a jealous Angel’,” Blue quipped.
“And I’m thinking that’s the voice of personal experience,” Scarlet chuckled as he started towards his quarters.
The studios were vast. The security guard glanced at their passes and contacted the main office before he would let them drive the SSC onto the site. He gave them directions to a large warehouse-style building in the distance and turned back to his console in the guard room.
In the back seat, Melody was almost bouncing up and down in excitement, uttering excited squeals as she spotted well-known faces. Glancing in the driving mirror, Scarlet could see Lieutenant Green’s similar expression and he sighed.
Thank goodness Ochre isn’t that susceptible, he thought, or we’ll never get anything done. He glanced across as Ochre swivelled in the passenger seat to watch a scantily-clad female sashay past them. Oh well, looks like I’m on my own then.
They went into the warehouse together. Across from the entrance, a phalanx of people were occupied with a brightly lit corner of the building, which was instantly recognisable as the control room of PRISM’s secret headquarters.
The star of the show, wearing his distinctive red tunic, was romancing one of the Seraphs, the pretty red-head, who was putty in his hands.
“Life imitating art…?” Ochre muttered under his breath. Scarlet turned to frown at him.
“Cut!” yelled a small, chunky man in a distinctive checked shirt. “Now, Drake, remember, this is Madrigal Seraph… you’ve been after her for the past two weeks and she’s finally come across. Try to look like you’re pleased…at least!”
Drake DeBonnaire tossed his head back and flounced away from the actress, who pulled an exasperated face and glared at the director. “How can I look pleased – she’s been eating garlic – I bet she did it on purpose!”
“Hey, I had pizza for lunch, that’s all. Half the cast did… “
“Now, now… Drake, come on, we have to get this wrapped up… Jeanie – take a peppermint, there’s a sweetie.”
“At least my halitosis is only due to what I had for lunch,” she grouched, stuffing a sweet proffered by a stage manager into her mouth.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” DeBonnaire exclaimed with another flounce.
“Please, Jeanie – don’t get him started – I’d like to go home before my wife divorces me for desertion.”
Melody watched with amazement. “They’re not like I imagined…” she said, her clear voice ringing around the sound stage.
The group turned to see who the intruders were and a young man ran over towards them.
“You can’t come in here – didn’t you see the in-use sign? You should’ve stuck with your tour guide…”
“We’re not here on a tour,” Ochre stated flatly.
“I’m sorry, but fans are not allowed on the set…” the man continued, staring at their uniforms.
“We aren’t fans, exactly – either,” Scarlet replied. “We’re the team from Spectrum – I believe your executives were informed of our intention to visit the show…”
“Hey, all of that goes through the lawyers… we resolved all your problems with infringement…” The director came over, angry at the disruption.
Scarlet saluted and introduced his team. “We’re here in respect of a threat to the show and the actors…” he concluded.
“A threat? Why wasn’t I told?” DeBonnaire shrilled. “I can’t work under such conditions!”
“Drake – don’t be silly – the guy’s talking through his hat…” the director pleaded, running after his star as the tall man strode away. His assistant ran after him.
“Oh-oh,” Ochre said. “I think we’ve caused a problem…”
“Don’t worry, if it hadn’t been you it would’ve been something else – Jeanie’s breath or the lighting or just that there is an ‘r’ in the month…”
They turned to see a familiar sandy-haired, freckled-faced, blue-clad ‘officer’ watching them with amused eyes.
“Captain Rue,” Melody breathed.
He extended a hand towards them, “Actually, I’m Matthew Nash – I play the long-suffering Captain Rue – but there the resemblance ends. Poor old Rue is really just the figment of some deranged imaginations…”
Melody shook his hand, a faint blush on her dark face.
There was shouting across the building, and the director’s voice yelled, “Okay – call it a day – we won’t get any more…”
There was a groan from the crew, even as they began to dismantle their equipment. Matthew Nash smiled.
“Looks like Drake’s decided to throw a tantrum – well, that’s okay by me, I wasn’t looking forward to waiting around all afternoon while he groped poor Jeanie.” He smiled at the baffled expressions on the faces of the Spectrum officers. “It means we can all go home… but I suppose that isn’t what you need, is it? Maybe I can help you – you need to speak to Dale, I guess – the director?”
“Yes, we’re here on assignment and we need the co-operation of everyone, really,” Scarlet explained.
“Well, he’ll be busy soothing Drake’s ruffled feathers for a while, but if you want to hang about until he’s finished, I’ll make sure you get to speak to him… if you like?”
“We’d appreciate it, sir,” Scarlet said.
“Oh, I’m nobody’s sir – the name’s Matthew – Matt, if you prefer. Come along with me, I want to get out of this awful rig-up.”
He led the way past the set to a suite of rooms. There were muffled voices behind the closed door of one, which had a large star on it.
“Drake likes to feel special,” Nash explained as he pushed open the door next to it. An assistant came forward and the Spectrum crowd watched in astonishment when the actor raised his hands and removed a wig to reveal a head of rich, golden-blond hair. He grinned at Melody’s surprise. “The freckles come off too,” he warned with a wink as he peeled off his sandy eyebrows.
Half an hour later Matthew Nash emerged from behind a screen. He was a handsome man, clear-skinned, blond-haired and dressed in jeans and a maroon sweatshirt, bearing the logo of a famous independent English brewery. He fastened a watch on his wrist and cocked his head towards the sound still coming from the next room.
“Dale’s having his work cut out this time, it seems… maybe I should perform a rescue?” His voice slipped into the disdainful upper-class tones of Captain Rue. “Regardless of personal safety, an officer of PRISM will risk life and limb in the performance of his duty…” he grinned. “I get paid for mouthing this drivel… life isn’t fair, is it, people?”
“No,” Ochre snapped. “It sure isn’t.”
Nash blushed. “I apologise, gentleman – and Miss Melody too. I suppose you really do risk your lives and limbs –and I don’t mean to belittle what you do. Maybe there is more of Rue in me than I realise? I have a tendency sometimes to open my mouth simply to put my foot in it…”
“Please, don’t concern yourself, Mr Nash,” Scarlet said with a warning glance at Ochre. They needed to keep everyone on their side and unguarded comments might do considerable harm to that aim. Luckily, it seemed Nash wasn’t that thin-skinned. “However, we’d be grateful if you’d get Mr Burland to speak to us. We don’t have time to spend all day humouring Mr DeBonnaire.”
Nash nodded and walked across to the next door, thumping on it with his fist. “Dale – remember you have visitors… they’ve been waiting for some time now.”
The door was flung open and Drake DeBonnaire glared out into the face of his co-star. “Go away, Nash! We’re busy negotiating…”
“Sorry, Drake, these people have important business – more important than you can possibly imagine - with Dale. So, let Dale go and take your ego to a nightclub – why don’t you? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of PRISM groupies just dying to swoon into Captain Starlight’s manly arms…”
DeBonnaire grimaced as Dale Burland managed to push past him, out into the corridor.
“Now, Drake, you just go home and think it over – you’ll see why we can’t do it your way… the backers won’t stand for much more delay. I’m sure Jeanie will apologise tomorrow…”
“Oh no, she won’t,” said a woman’s voice behind them. They turned to see a young actress – her face vaguely familiar - watching them with exasperation. She had short, mahogany-brown hair, layered around her elfin face and a slender, almost boyish, figure.
Nash grinned. “Jeanie, meet the Spectrum personnel here to keep a watch on us all. Lady and gentlemen – Miss Jeanie Johnson – alias Madrigal Seraph.”
“Madrigal Seraph?” Melody gasped.
“What happened to your long red hair?” Green stammered.
“It’s hanging on a wig stand,” Jeanie smiled. “Nobody has hair that colour – not for real!”
“Never mind the hair,” Ochre murmured, “what happened to the rest of her?”
On Cloudbase, Captain Blue scrolled down the page of astronomical data again with increasing uneasiness. He toggled between screens and jotted down a few notes on a pad alongside his keyboard. Frowning in concerned concentration he made yet another series of calculations.
Damn it, why was the astronomy professor at Harvard so dismissive of my questions? Okay, the science is a little unorthodox, but even so…the facts speak for themselves, at least to an amateur like me…
He tapped the pencil against his teeth and sighed indecisively. I can’t risk letting this lie… the coincidence is just too glaringly obvious. Perhaps, if I had mentioned the Mysterons’ threat to the professor… but I don’t have the authority to divulge that kind of information. No, I’ll have to do this by the book…
He closed the computer, picked up his notepad and strode, as fast as his long legs would carry him, up to the Control Room.
“But I don’t see how this can possibly impact on our show, Captain Starli… Scarlet,” Burland was saying, his face a picture of misery. “And if we close the set down, the backers will have a fit! We’re already over-running by four days – thanks to… certain technical difficulties.”
“And Drake…” Nash added, in between sips of coffee.
They were in the refectory, sitting at a table away from the main crowd of people. Despite the crowd, it was as private as an empty room, for the busy, noisy casts of the dozens of shows being made on the sets were not interested in what was happening in any show but their own. Melody and Lieutenant Green sat close by, scanning a list of the upcoming shooting schedules, and cross-referencing them with the information known about cast members and guest artistes.
Matthew Nash and Jeanie Johnson had come along with Dale Burland, and no-one had thought to stop them. Besides, Nash seemed a sensible man and Jeanie was not going to leave his side without considerable argument.
“Believe me, Mr Burland, the Mysterons are capable of causing far more disruption to your schedule than we are. All we’re asking is that you let us… keep an eye on things – act as additional security, if you prefer to think of it like that,” Scarlet said with commendable patience. Ochre was already rolling his eyes at the obstinacy of the director. That probably explains why the colonel keeps from pairing the two of us together that often, Scarlet mused, we’re both on short fuses… whereas Blue’s patience can wear down any objections.
“You’ll get in the way,” Burland insisted.
Matthew Nash interrupted Burland’s complaint. “Hey, Dale, why don’t you let them on set as extras? You know – as this week’s expendable security guards who get knocked off just before the first commercial break? They’d be close to the cast and yet as unobtrusive as they’re ever going to be. Mind you,” he grinned at Scarlet, “you’ll have the wear the bog-standard PRISM uniform and not your red tunic, Captain,… we can’t have Drake feeling upstaged.”
“If that’s the only way we can do our job – we’ll wear whatever we have to…” Scarlet agreed, with a pleading glance at Ochre.
“I don’t know…” Burland dithered.
“We won’t get in the way,” Ochre promised.
“Well, I guess if you have to be there…”
“We do,” Scarlet insisted.
“Oh, all right then…but nobody’s to tell Drake about it, okay?”
Colonel White listened intently as Captain Blue explained his findings and what he suspected they meant. He knew his officer well enough to know that Blue would not have brought the matter to his attention if he hadn’t a strong belief that he was on to something. Not for Blue the intuitive hunches that generally paid off so handsomely for Captain Scarlet.
Even so, he had to ask, “Are you sure, Captain?”
“I’m not an astronomer, sir, but the math does line up. It cannot be a coincidence that the Mysterons chose a threat connected with space just as an asteroid is approaching the inner solar system, Colonel. They’ll have had even more warning of it than us. Besides, I still don’t think the target is that dumb TV show…”
“You say the authorities aren’t acting on this warning?”
“Not that I can see. The Observatory on La Palma in the Canaries was manned by students at the time this was noticed and – I suspect – their evidence is being treated with … a healthy scepticism. That’s why they’ve posted their data on the web… because no-one’s taking any notice.”
“It may be a student prank, Captain,” White demurred, playing devil’s advocate.
“And it may present the Mysterons with a gift of an opportunity to wipe us all out, sir…but I can’t get anyone to take it seriously. If only we could get another observatory to cross-check the data, we could at least eliminate it from our list of possibilities, sir.” Blue shrugged. “You’d think they’d want to make sure it didn’t pose a threat, wouldn’t you?”
Colonel White nodded. “I’ll speak to the authorities in Futura, and see what can be done, but without supporting data, I feel sure they’ll dismiss it as a hoax. In the meantime, I want you to keep an eye on the asteroid.”
“How?” Blue asked, spreading his hands. “I don’t have access to a telescope powerful enough to do that…”
“I leave that up to you, Captain.” White gave him a meagre smile. “I wish to be able to deny that I knew what you were up to and I expect I will be ‘very shocked and quite cross’, if this does turn out to be a wild goose chase. On the other hand – if it does pose the threat we expect it to – I will personally make sure you get another medal…”
Blue gave a rueful smile. It wasn’t the result he’d expected, but it was better than nothing. “May I ask one of the others for some help, Colonel?”
“Be my guest… and keep me closely informed of just what you are up to… unofficially.”
The next morning the Spectrum officers were at the studio early – only to find a considerable number of technicians had beaten them to it. Captain Ochre split from his colleagues and ambled about in an apparently haphazard fashion, questioning people about what they were doing and taking a series of pictures with a cumbersome camera.
Lieutenant Green went to make the acquaintance of the lighting and sound engineers, easily winning their confidence with his understanding of the computer systems used in production. Before long he was sitting beside them, learning all he could about their jobs and the possible ways the system could be sabotaged.
Melody Angel wandered over to the women’s dressing rooms and was sitting in a make-up chair as the ‘Seraphs’ arrived to get ready for the day’s shooting. She watched these normal, albeit very pretty, women transform themselves into the stylishly beautiful and much-envied ‘Seraph’ characters. Every one of them wore a moulded body-suit that dramatically enhanced the attributes nature had given them, wigs of varying shades and lengths, and in one case, coloured contact lenses to replace a pair of fashionable spectacles.
Jeanie Johnson waved ‘hi’ as she wandered in and began to get ready.
‘Serenade Seraph’ leaned across and patted her shoulder. “I sure hope you didn’t eat any more garlic, Jeanie. We can’t have Drake suffering like he did yesterday…”
The other women laughed. “Take my advice, Jeanie, forget the garlic - what you need is a little cyanide pill you can slip into his mouth when he sticks his tongue down your throat… the jerk!” ‘Concord Seraph’ said with considerable vehemence. She was a pretty Japanese girl, with large, dark eyes. “The guy gives me the creeps…” she added.
“Oh, come on now, Amy, he doesn’t deserve that, exactly,” Jeanie said. She was already in her body-suit and in the middle of fixing her long, red wig. “Besides, Matt’s gonna have a little word with him… well, several little words, if I know Matt. Along the lines of ‘back-off my girlfriend, you smug bastard’… but I did warn him to keep the words easy ones – don’t want to befuddle Drake too early in the day.”
“He wakes up befuddled…” Serenade scoffed.
“And how would you know how he wakes up?” ‘Kismet Seraph’ teased.
“I know a girl, who knows a girl, who was dumb enough to hang around long enough to find out,” Serenade laughed good-naturedly.
“Where’s Corentine? She’s gonna be late again,” Concord Angel said, standing and turning towards Melody as she sat mesmerised by the switch of these women into the Seraphs.
“Does she have much to do?” Jeanie asked.
Concord shook her head. “She just has to drape herself over Drake – as we all do for the closing shot. But, she was late yesterday and the day before – Dale’s threatened that he’s gonna kick her out if she doesn’t watch it.”
“Hey,” Kismet said with a smile at their guest, “maybe you could take her place? If she doesn’t have any lines, you just have to sit there and look fascinated by whatever rubbish Starlight is spouting.” Melody spluttered. “Please? Corentine’s going through a bad patch, right now, the last thing she needs is to lose her job as well.“
Melody looked around at the hopeful faces of the women. It seemed that life was imitating art in some ways –the Angels routinely covered for each other when one of them needed a break. Besides, part of her thrilled at the opportunity to actually have a part in her favourite TV show. She could imagine the jealous expressions of the other Angels when she told them what had happened. “Okay, but you’ll have to help me…”
“Come on, girls; let’s get her into the costume…”
At the main Observatory on Hawaii, Captain Blue and Captain Grey were deep in discussion with the senior professor.
“Then you cannot rule out that this is quite likely to happen?” Blue was insisting.
“Captain, please… what we call a near miss in astronomical terms is many thousands of kilometres… I don’t deny that the observations taken at La Palma do suggest that the asteroid is heading towards us – but I can assure you…”
“Have you warned the authorities?” Blue interrupted.
“I’m sure the senior researchers on the Island will have forwarded any relevant information, yes.”
“But you haven’t added your observations to theirs?”
“Captain, we’ve been studying a different area of the sky… I cannot divert my telescopes away from their legitimate targets every time a student imagines he’s found the Doomsday asteroid…”
Blue pursed his lips and frowned. “Well, Professor, tonight you will divert your telescopes – all of them. Spectrum is commandeering this array – you will look at that asteroid and you will calculate just how close a ‘miss’ it will be.”
“You have no authority...!”
“Spectrum has all the authority it needs, Professor.” Blue turned to Captain Grey. “I want to be here tonight, so, if you have no objections, Captain, I’ll get some rest now, if you’ll keep watch?” Blue had no intention of letting the Professor contact anyone in authority.
Grey nodded. “S.I.G., Captain Blue.” He watched his compatriot stride from the room with a dry smile. He wouldn’t have argued with that icy authority and he knew just how big a bluff Blue was calling…
Scarlet and Ochre, dressed in the dull charcoal colour of the standard PRISM uniform, tried to look at ease on the mock-up of the Cloudbase Control Room. They moved to either side of the centre stage where DeBonnaire, once more attired in his Captain Starlight costume, was waiting for the others to settle down.
An orange-clad ‘Captain Hokum’ and the stern-faced ‘Colonel Fright’ took their places. The Seraphs – giggling amongst themselves - flocked onto the set and draped themselves fetchingly on the carefully positioned stools. All except one of them. The African-American Seraph hung back as if slightly reluctant to perform.
“Come on, Mellifluous, we haven’t got all day…” a stage manager chided. Reluctantly, the woman perched on a stool and lowered her head, keeping her face well hidden.
Colonel Fright began to speak.
“Once again, mankind owes its continuing safety to you, Captain Starlight – and you alone!”
“But, where’s Captain Rue, Captain Starlight?” Kismet simpered. “It wouldn’t be like you to let your partner get himself into trouble. Surely, you made sure Rue was safe before returning to PRISM HQ?”
Starlight smiled at the Seraph. “Rest assured he is quite safe, Kismet. He’s not a very good sailor, and I’m afraid he was awfully sick. I carried him straight to sick-bay, where Doctor Kildeer is taking very good care of him…”
“Oh, Captain Starlight, you’re so good to your partner…it must be such a thrill to work alongside you…”
“Rue does his best, and that’s all anyone can ask of a man.”
“We’re fortunate, Captain Starlight, that your best is exceptionally good.” Madrigal fluttered her eyelashes at the hero. “And so is Captain Rue.”
“Ladies and gentlemen of PRISM, Captain Starlight is too modest, but he does have a point. We’re all grateful to him, and we all strive to emulate his achievements. So Captain Rue’s contribution – however flawed - must be celebrated in the same vein as Captain Starlight’s. Let’s all go and visit our unfortunate colleague and assure him that we hold him in almost as high esteem as we do our redoubtable Captain Starlight…”
Colonel Fright started to lead the way off the set. The Seraphs all waved teasing goodbyes at the captain, who stood alone, except for Mellifluous Seraph, who was glancing around in apparent confusion. With a leer at the camera, Starlight swept down on the startled woman and swept her into his arms.
“Come away with me this weekend, Mellifluous, and I will take you to paradise…”
He bowed his head to kiss the Seraph, bending down so that the woman was forced to lean backwards. The camera panned in on the couple.
Mellifluous raised an arm, and …
…clouted Captain Starlight around the ear.
“Get your paws off me, you big ape!” Melody shouted as DeBonnaire sprang away, yelping in protest. “How dare you do that to me… you… you… creep!” She swung a fierce uppercut at the whimpering man and he sank to his knees as her fist made contact with his jaw. Then she turned angry eyes on the astonished Seraphs – “and as for you – you set me up, you… harpies!”
The women shrank back in alarm.
“No, we didn’t… it’s just that Drake always latches onto the last Seraph on the set…we forgot to mention it...” Serenade shrieked. “But oh, boy, it was wonderful to see you deck him like that!” She gave a delighted grin at the furious Angel.
“Melody,” Scarlet hurried over. “What’re you doing in that costume?”
“And does any of it wobble?” Ochre asked her with a grin, but his face sobered at the realisation that she was actually upset. He glared at the actor, who was protesting loudly at his rough treatment and threatening to leave the set once more. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, man – shut up. You can’t have been hurt by a thump from a slip of a girl like this…”
The director was almost jumping up and down with rage. “Cut!” he screamed. “I knew I should never have let you people on the set…”
It took some time for things to get back to normal – or what passed for normal in the seemingly chaotic world of the TV show. The Spectrum personnel were banned from the main set and had to watch from behind the cameras. Melody was led away to change out of her costume and DeBonnaire was led away to have make-up applied to disguise the rapidly darkening bruises on his chin.
Ochre and Scarlet changed back into their Spectrum uniforms and hovered between the set and the main door.
“Well, hello, guys,” Matthew Nash whispered, appearing as from nowhere. “I see your acting careers didn’t last long! Jeanie’s told me about Melody’s little… surprise for Drake – I wish I’d seen it.”
“Why weren’t you here?” Scarlet asked carelessly enough, but Ochre saw a fleeting frown of suspicion on his friend’s face.
“Not needed. Rue spends most of this episode with sea sickness…”
“Tell me,” Ochre asked, “what’s the point of Captain Rue – exactly?”
“He’s there to throw the heroism of Captain Starlight into sharp relief – he’s the ‘dumb side-kick’.” Nash sighed. “It wasn’t always meant to be this way. I signed up after I saw the original script – where Rue and Starlight were meant to be partners – equals, if you like. You must remember seeing the re-runs of those old buddy-type shows… err... ’Starsky and Hutch’ or the ‘Man from UNCLE’?” Ochre nodded. “Well, that was how it was meant to be in the PRISM series. Then they cast Drake – and he wasn’t up for any kind of competition – so poor old Rue got downgraded from intelligent partner to hapless side-kick.”
“He could make them do that?”
“Drake is the ‘name’ that sells the show. He had a major part in a daytime soap… he has millions of adoring female fans who would watch him read the phone book. The backers wanted him in and I’m just a dumb Brit that no-one has ever heard of – I’m expendable.”
“But you decided to go along with it anyway?”
“I’m under contract, Captain. I sold my soul for two series – and enough money to clear my mortgage and pay my taxes until forever... Then poor old Rue can meet his maker, for all I care – I’m off home. And - although maybe I shouldn’t tell you this – Jeanie’ll be coming with me…”
“That’s no surprise,” Ochre grinned. “She’s a nice girl,” he added.
“Still, I do feel kind of responsible for Rue.” He gave a wry grimace, watching the action on the set. “I do what I can to keep the spirit of the original character alive – I’m always getting into trouble for ad-libbing snide remarks… but Rue’s proven to be amazingly popular with the viewers, and so they daren’t get rid of me. But, as I see it, even a good-hearted man like Rue would get fed up of living in the shadow of someone like Starlight, eventually.”
“Yeah,” Ochre said with a thoughtful glance at Scarlet. “It takes a special kind of man to cope with being that gifted without getting a swollen head – and a man with a lot of good sense, and a healthy amount of self-confidence, to work with that someone.” The Englishman wasn’t listening. He was staring at the storyboard across the room. Ochre shook himself out of his reflective mood and smiled at the slightly puzzled Nash. “So,” he continued, “why do you have to wear all that make-up? If they wanted Rue to be a ginger-haired guy, why choose you?”
“I told you - Drake doesn’t like competition – he didn’t like the look of me and he insisted I was… dressed-down. He’s the only one around here who takes this whole farce seriously. He sees himself as a real hero – not the camp egotist he is – and, by the way, that was type-casting with a vengeance! “
“And they say women are catty.” Melody’s comment made them jump. She was back in uniform and seemed to have calmed down.
Nash grinned at her. “I hear you struck a blow for female liberties – well done you! The girls are always complaining about Drake. Maybe now, someone will believe them.”
“You okay?” Ochre asked. He was a little abashed at having treated her outburst as amusing.
Melody gave him a crooked grin. “Yeah, but I don’t appreciate being taken advantage of – even by TV stars. I guess I shouldn’t have punched him though, but he is such a jerk.”
As Captain Scarlet turned to his companions, his lips already parted to speak, the radio arm on his cap-mic slipped down and the epaulettes on his tunic flashed blue. “Go ahead, Captain Blue,” he responded, shelving his own comments for the moment.
“Captain Scarlet, I’m at the astronomical observatory in Hawaii. We’ve just finished analysing data from observations of an asteroid currently on – what was thought to be – a near miss path with the Earth. The data confirms without doubt, that the asteroid has shifted and is now on a collision course…”
“What?” Scarlet gasped and turned back to the storyboard. “I was about to mention to everyone here that the episode they’re filming next concerns Starlight saving the world from a rogue asteroid… Damn it, Blue – the Mysterons are imitating art…”
“I’d dispute that ‘Captain Starlight’ is art until the cows come home, but I suggest a better use of our time would be for you get over to the airport and join me at Space City, as soon as you can. There might just be a way we can stop it from hitting the Earth. Colonel White has been in touch with Futura and through them with Doctor Conrad – remember him? Well, it seems the good doctor has been working on improving our space defence systems and he’s developed a new machine that can be used to divert asteroids from collision courses.”
“That’s handy,” Scarlet commented dryly.
“Yeah, only problem is it’s never been tested on an asteroid before… or on anything. It needs to be fired from space, from pretty close range… Colonel White’s given permission for us to try, but we’ll need to use an XL space craft and we don’t have much time…” Blue paused. “I’m afraid I rather took your agreement to this mission for granted, Paul.”
Scarlet smiled. “How well you know me,” he replied, and then he snapped back into military correctness. “S.I.G., Captain Blue. I will radio my e.t.a. once airborne. You can explain just what you intend to do en route…”
The arm of the cap-mic swung back. Scarlet glanced at Ochre and Melody, who had moved closer as they caught snatches of his conversation with Blue.
“Can we help?” Ochre asked, falling in beside Scarlet as the younger man strode for the exit.
“I don’t think so – whatever Blue’s got in mind, he only asked for my help. Contact Colonel White and keep him apprised of events… but I would omit Melody’s act of self-defence, if I were you. Let Lieutenant Green know, will you? We might need his help. Blue’s pretty good with computers, but…”
“Green’s better,” Ochre concluded, as Scarlet slid into the driver’s seat of the SSC. “Best of luck, Captain Scarlet. I’m really glad we have you and Blue dealing with this rather than our good friends Starlight and Rue in there…”
“Life may imitate art, and art may mirror life, Rick, – but it’s always real life that delivers the heftiest kick in the pants…”
Ochre laughed and raised a hand in farewell as the SSC screeched out of the studios and into the traffic.
Space City was the nickname given to the recently completed space port for the fledgling World Space Patrol, which had grown from the amalgamation of all the international space technology and expertise of the nations who joined the World Government – although by far the largest input was from NASA. Located on a Pacific island, Space City was remote enough for its small fleet of XL rockets to come and go without interfering with commercial and military flight paths. Most of its highly complex facilities and technology had been devised and created by the staff of the companies owned by the billionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons. Much of it was still on the secret list and access was extremely restricted.
When Scarlet arrived, he was met by Captain Blue. Under the watchful eyes of uniformed security guards, the partners walked into the command tower to undergo the rigorous procedures necessary before the WSP would allow them to fly an XL rocket. At the World President’s insistence, these were reduced to a minimum to avoid delay, and Doctor Fawn had been only too eager to send verification of their A1 physical status – Spectrum vigorously insisted that neither man be subjected to medical examination
Finally, permission was granted and they were led to a well-appointed locker room, where they were measured and handed space-flight suits, bearing the small, distinctive logo of the WSP. They exchanged rueful glances, but there was not time to demand that it be replaced by a Spectrum logo.
As they suited up, Scarlet asked Blue, “How on Earth did you manage to get all this waved through?”
“When I told the colonel I thought the asteroid was a danger but there wasn’t enough proof to convince the authorities, he sent me out to get the proof – one way or the other. I was able to convince the director of the Hawaiian observatory to cross-check the information about the asteroid. Once I had positive proof, Colonel White went straight to the World President. He revealed that Doctor Conrad – you do remember him from Lake Toma, I take it? - had been working on a new Asteroid Deflector Ray.”
“And, because of all that, we get to take one of the WSPs precious XL rockets?”
Blue nodded. “These are their fastest rockets, there’s nothing else can touch them for speed – and we’ll need all the time we can get to try to deflect the asteroid.”
“I can’t see the WSP accepting that very happily.”
Blue shrugged. “It’s a Mysteron threat – Spectrum business – and we do have authority on Earth and in space,” he reminded his partner.
Scarlet nodded. “I bet you’re pleased…” he teased.
Blue’s eyes shone with unalloyed pleasure. “I’m actually gonna get to fly a space-ship, Paul… I’ve always wanted to do it again – ever since I flew that craft on the moon, when Lunarville 7 went up.”
Scarlet smiled. “Well, I hope you can remember how to, Adam, I don’t want to get as space-sick as I get sea-sick… “
“Hey, trust me, buddy. I can fly anything…”
Scarlet followed after him, shaking his head in affectionate amusement. Still, he thought as they were lifted up to the nose cone, he’s quite right - he can fly anything…so why should this be any different?
The countdown seemed almost perfunctory and Scarlet - bored with watching Blue concentrating on the control panels – turned to look out of the small windows. Beneath them the powerful engines roared into life and the rocket began to vibrate, almost imperceptibly at first and then with the ferocity indicative of the power it possessed.
“Yee-hah!” Blue whooped, as the rocket slowly began to roll along the take-off track and wobble, with a heart-stopping jerk, into the air. It climbed rapidly, accelerating to a speed that created G-forces powerful enough to force both men back into the padded seats. Scarlet closed his eyes – he hadn’t liked take-off on either of the moon journeys they’d been on either. Flying was no problem – but actually forcing your way through Earth’s comforting mantle of gravity and hurling yourself into the emptiness of space, was a habit he had no real desire to acquire.
As if from a great distance, Scarlet became aware of the radio crackling:
“Spectrum XL, you have reached escape velocity. Switch to horizontal flight.”
Opening his eyes, Scarlet was surprised to see that they had already reached the inky blackness of space. Blue reached out and pressed a series of buttons. He turned towards his friend, a huge, delighted grin on his face.
Like a kid on his birthday, Scarlet thought with an answering smile. “When will we reach the asteroid?” he asked as the rocket seemed to slow to a meander through the unchanging landscape of stars.
Blue glanced at the computer and stabbed at the keyboard. “In about six hours… give or take. It’s coming towards us a damn sight quicker than we are moving towards it. We should have time to make sure the ADR is functioning correctly though.”
“How does it work – this ADR?” Scarlet asked.
“It’s based on the principles Jay Meloch first suggested, in the late 20th Century, for concentrating solar rays through a huge sort of magnifying disc. The theory was, if it was done correctly, they’d heat the asteroid enough to cause an explosion which would divert any potential threat away from the earth…” Blue began, and Scarlet settled down for a lecture. He had no doubt that his partner would know all about it.
As Blue explained it, the ADR consisted of two parts – a collecting dish, that focused the solar rays down into the machine’s power cells and a ‘cannon’ that then fired the resulting beam of concentrated – and very powerful – ‘sunshine’ at the asteroid. The beam would heat the rock until it was hot enough to cause an explosion, resulting in a momentum that would force the asteroid to deviate from its course.
“There’ve been several machines based on the original premise, but they never quite managed to generate enough force - even under test conditions - to do much good. And, of course, the amount of heat taken to make the rock explode is dependent on the composition of the asteroid.” Scarlet nodded vigorously to let it be known he was fascinated by the whole explanation. With a wry grimace, Blue concluded, “Well anyway, Doctor Conrad believes he’s overcome those problems and that, by storing the energy, we can increase the efficiency of the beam and so generate enough heat to deal with any asteroid of whatever composition. Once we’ve charged up the power cells, of course. There are three, but we may not have time to charge them all. I’ve plotted in a course that should keep the dish towards the sun for as much of the time as possible, and the absorption rate is set to maximum.”
“And how close to the asteroid will we have to go?”
“That depends on the effectiveness of the ADR. Not too close, I hope…” For the first time there was a hint of uncertainty in the American’s voice.
Scarlet sucked his teeth and nodded. So, Blue really isn’t sure this will work…
Setting the rocket to automatic pilot, the Spectrum officers both went down to the austere cargo bay to examine the ADR. It had been shipped from Doctor Conrad’s laboratory and quickly secured to the metal floor and walls by heavy duty chains. Cables led from the cannon to the banks of power cells that were designed to hold the stored ‘sunshine’ – as Scarlet liked to think of it.
The machine – a prototype - was obviously the work of quite a few scientists under Doctor Conrad’s authority. The barrel of the cannon was decorated with a variety of graffiti, and placed in a prominent central position was a transfer of the brightly coloured PRISM emblem – the yellow pyramid with multicoloured rays emanating from its peak. Beneath it someone had scrawled ‘Starlight rules – OK’.
The Spectrum officers exchanged wary glances. “I hope this isn’t the Starlight that’s going to fail mankind,” Scarlet murmured uneasily.
“Forget that dumb show! This is for real now. Besides, Doctor Conrad is convinced it’ll work…” Blue replied grimly. “Let’s get started, then we go back to the cockpit and make sure we’ve got the dish pointing in the right direction to ensure maximum absorption of solar rays.”
With a nod of agreement, Scarlet set to work.
The collecting dish had been operating for about two hours when the system suddenly cut out and the process of energy build-up ceased. The Spectrum officers hurried to the cargo bay and ran every test they could - but the ADR remained obstinately inoperative. Blue kicked at the support casing with his heavy space boot and the resulting ‘clang’ echoed around the stark metal cargo bay.
“That’s really going to help,” Scarlet said sarcastically, raising his eyebrows.
“Damn it, Paul, you don’t seem to realise, if we can’t get this to work - and divert the asteroid – the Earth could be, if not destroyed completely, devastated beyond belief! I just can’t see why this damn machine won’t work…!” He kicked it again.
“Stop that! Try contacting Doctor Conrad again and see if he’s been able to work out why the thing isn’t working yet. I’ll speak to Lieutenant Green and Colonel White. Come on, Adam, we don’t have time for tantrums…”
Lieutenant Green had been transported back to Cloudbase on the Colonel’s orders almost immediately after Scarlet had left for Space City. Ochre and Melody remained at the studio, in case the Mysterons did attempt anything with the ‘Captain Starlight’ cast and crew, and between them, they’d been through the current story and every subsequent one with a fresh eye, looking for anything that might be relevant to the present dangerous situation they were in. Apart from the rogue asteroid, the plots seemed too far-fetched to have any likelihood of ever happening.
All over the world, observatories had their telescopes trained on the asteroid, and information on its every twist and turn, its varying location and velocity, was relayed to Futura and to Cloudbase, where Doctor Conrad, in company with Captain Magenta and Lieutenant Green, was supposed to be analysing the predicted impact zones and the subsequent scale of disaster.
At the moment, though, Doctor Conrad was racking his brains over the problem with the ADR, and talking Captain Blue through every connection and procedure that should have fired the machine into action. His thin face was beaded with sweat, and he was pacing the conference room in his shirt-sleeves, dragging up every possibility he could imagine that might explain the failure from his copious memory.
Colonel White and Doctor Fawn, who were both present, watched him with concern.
“Doctor Conrad is a natural worrier,” Fawn whispered to the colonel. “He looks close to collapse…”
White sighed. “We need him on his feet and making sense, Edward… for as long as it takes.”
“I’ll do what I can, Colonel. Who knows, it may not be for much longer anyway?” Fawn concluded with a worried glance at his friend.
White frowned. “I have faith that Scarlet and Blue will pull it off. This time it really is the fate of the world in their hands. However, I can’t think of two better men to shoulder the responsibility, can you?”
On the XL rocket, Scarlet and Blue, with one eye on the clock, went through the start-up procedures once more and shook their heads as the ADR remained completely inert.
“Nothing, Doctor,” Blue reported.
“But it has to be working!” Conrad exclaimed. “Everything checks out…”
Looking up from his computer screen, Magenta gave a wry smile. “Did you check the plug, socket and fuse, Blue? My mother always swore every electrical implement that failed to work was broken – but nine times out of ten, it was the plug…” He gave a weak chuckle at the nervous doctor, who was glaring at him with some asperity.
There was a deathly silence.
“Captain Magenta, this is hardly the time or place for your home-spun whimsy…” Colonel White began, but the radio link interrupted him.
“No,” Blue’s voice said slowly. “We haven’t checked the power relays…” Unable to see Magenta’s teasing expression, the astronauts were taking his suggestion seriously. “Scarlet’s doing it now…”
Colonel White glared angrily at the apologetic captain. “A waste of time,” he muttered.
“Bloody hell fire, Adam…” Scarlet’s voice came faintly through the radio link, “… the sodding relay in the power coupling’s blown!”
“Chalk one to Magenta’s mum,” Lieutenant Green muttered, with a wink at the captain alongside him.
“What?” Colonel White roared.
No-one on the rocket was listening. They could hear muttered voices as the men worked on the power supply and distant clanging as they moved about.
“Well, it’ll have to do… take it out of there and we’ll use that…”
“Where’s the screwdriver?”
“You had it last…”
“Ah, I remember…”
The silence was almost intolerable to the listening group on Cloudbase, and then Blue’s voice said:
“Here… try this, Paul.”
The minutes ticked by with agonising slowness.
“Okay, now try to reboot the collector dish…”
Doctor Conrad wiped his face with his handkerchief. Every ear strained towards the speakers.
There was a click and a low hum, followed by a deafening cheer.
“Got you, you son-of-a-bitch! Doctor Conrad, we have the machine working!” Blue exclaimed.
There was a collective sigh around the Conference Room. Green grinned at Magenta whose eyebrows had all but taken flight at the unexpected solution to the problem.
Green sniggered. “If you’d seen that happen on ‘Captain Starlight’ you’d have said – it’s too far-fetched…”
“Switching the collector dish to maximum,” Scarlet said, “we need to boost the power in the cells as much as we can in the remaining time…”
“Spectrum XL to Cloudbase, we have a visual on the asteroid,” Captain Blue reported. He was back in the pilot’s seat, whilst Captain Scarlet was stationed with the now fully functional ADR.
“Good,” Doctor Conrad interjected. “Our read-out here shows you have one full power cell and just over 80% full power in another cell. We’ll have to hope that’s enough. I would recommend you try the ray now, Captain Blue. If you can target it accurately, you may be able to affect the course of the asteroid even from this distance. I’ve calculated the co-ordinates you should aim for… transmitting them through now.”
“S.I.G., Doctor,” Blue replied, as the data scrolled onto the pilot’s console. He flicked a switch and diverted the information down to the cargo bay, where he and Scarlet had rigged the portable targeting console. “Captain Scarlet, do you have the co-ordinates?”
“I have them.” Scarlet had spent considerable time in a prolonged discussion with Doctor Conrad over the best possible strategy to employ once the mission began.
Captain Blue announced, “I’m adjusting our course to bring the cannon on target. I’m going to divert power from the auxiliary systems to the collector dish, it’s the best I can do to maintain some input.” If only we’d had time to build a power-reserve, he sighed, but there was no use crying over spilt milk. “Stand-by, Captain Scarlet.”
The engines flared and Scarlet felt the massive ship turn through 90°.
Scarlet secured his safety line to the bulkhead and pressed the over-ride switch to open the cargo bay doors. The ADR shifted slightly as the gravity field faltered, but it was secured tightly to the bulkheads and the floors, and the movement was insignificant.
Away in the distance, Scarlet could see the asteroid. Knowing how far away it was, he gasped at the sheer size of it. The chances of moving that monster with one little ray gun suddenly seemed remote. He keyed in the data and locked down the target.
“Ray bombardment commencing…” he informed his audience. “Initial power drain at 2%... I’m increasing output to 5%. Input from the collector dish has fallen to 40% of previous levels…”
Lights flashed and the machine rocked slightly as it worked. There was no noise at all, which was surprising, even though if he’d thought about it, he’d have known he wouldn’t hear anything. Sound does not travel through a vacuum; his memory prompted him, recalling the lessons of schoolboy science. It had been a great disappointment to him to learn that the impressive bangs and explosions he’d grown up with on his favourite TV space shows would have been totally silent. Even now, he kept expecting some noise...
Blue’s question over the internal radio link made him jump.
“It’s just flashing and rocking about a bit. What’s the asteroid doing?”
“Nothing – well, nothing noticeable.” Blue scanned the data being relayed from the ground observatories. “It’ll take a time to show up any deviation, but as yet – there’s no sign of it.”
“We need to go closer,” Scarlet said.
“S.I.G,” Blue concurred. The rocket’s engines flared briefly, pushing the ship forwards again.
“Be careful, Captains,” Doctor Conrad’s voice said urgently. “You don’t want to get too close to the asteroid – the risk of collision is too great.”
“S.I.G.,” they both replied dutifully.
Scarlet started the ADR cannon again as the ship came to a halt. Again they waited in the deep, deep silence. In the cockpit, Blue watched the data relays, and the analysis coming on stream from Magenta and Green’s calculations. The asteroid had shifted slightly, but not beyond the parameters of its normal variable course. The temperature of the targeted area had risen considerably, but there was no sign of an imminent explosion.
“Moving closer, Captain Scarlet. Power down the cannon,” he instructed.
They repeated this manoeuvre several times, and always the effect of the ADR on the massive asteroid was negligible. To improve the targeting, Blue shifted the ship again, which had the effect of stopping all input from the collector dish. After their fourth approach, a warning light flashed on the pilot’s console. The ship’s sensors were detecting the dangerous proximity of the asteroid and advising course corrections to avoid a collision. Blue overrode them and moved in closer.
Scarlet powered the ADR once more, urging the machine to greater efforts.
“Try a series of short, powerful surges, Captain,” Doctor Conrad suggested. “But watch that the power relays don’t overload.”
“S.I.G.” Scarlet acknowledged the suggestion and adjusted the settings on the generator. “Doctor Conrad,” he warned, “if we do this, there won’t be enough power in the reserves for another attempt. The power cells are at 18%”
“You daren’t go any closer, Captain Scarlet; the ship would be in danger. Use the pulse setting,” Conrad replied.
Blue’s voice came over the internal radio to Scarlet’s ear alone. “What difference does that make? If we turned and went home, we’d arrive about 20 minutes before this mother hits the Earth… hardly time for a cup of coffee…”
“Hey, if I have 20 minutes before the planet is obliterated, I sure-as-hell won’t be spending them drinking YOUR coffee,” Scarlet replied, smiling as he heard his friend chuckle.
On Cloudbase the watching group heard Doctor Conrad’s orders and exchanged grim glances. Colonel White was in direct contact with the World President, who was relaying information around the world to other Government agencies and the leaders of the various national governments. He was also fending off well-meaning, but dangerous, offers to blast the thing from the sky with nuclear weapons. He promised that if this plan failed, they would still have time to mobilise their arsenal… although he knew from Doctor Conrad’s analysis of the asteroid, that such attacks were likely to be pointless at best, and catastrophic at worst. Splitting an asteroid of this size would merely result in hundreds of smaller asteroids, each one capable of massive destruction when it impacted on the Earth.
The current projected impact area was in central Europe and was going to be of such a magnitude that the chances of anything surviving the blast and the subsequent cataclysmic effects were minimal. The whole business was being conducted on the most secure communications links available – no word must be allowed to leak out into the public domain. President Younger was of the opinion that, should the deflection mission fail, no good would come of warning people what was inevitably to follow.
Colonel White was in two minds as to the wisdom of this, but could see no point in spreading fear and alarm, and besides, Scarlet and Blue hadn’t failed yet… he watched with anxious eyes as the monitors around the room showed the power surges and the consequent fall in reserves. Then, along with everyone else, he waited for the results to register on the watching telescopes.
“That’s it,” Scarlet said to Blue. “The power reserves are depleted; we’re dead in the water as far as the ADR goes. Any feedback on the results yet, Adam?”
“No, but looking at the brute, it doesn’t seem to have shifted much, and I never saw any explosions…” Blue’s voice was aching with anxiety.
“I’m closing the hatch and coming up to the cockpit. You’d better shift position and see if we can’t get at least enough power for one more shot.”
“S.I.G.,” Blue agreed, but it was obvious he didn’t think it would help.
Scarlet closed the hatch and waited until the artificial gravity had re-established before unhooking his safety line and switching the collector dish to over-drive. Then he ran as quickly as his heavy space suit would allow, back to the cockpit. Blue hardly acknowledged his arrival, keeping his eyes fixed straight ahead on the asteroid. Scarlet was alarmed to see how close they had come to it.
“Are we at the maximum efficiency angle for the dish?” he asked, more for want of something to say than because he expected Adam to have failed to move the ship. Blue nodded. “I left the dish on overdrive, better keep an eye on the control instruments – we don’t want another power relay blow out.” Blue gave another nod. Scarlet moved forward with a frown, he placed a hand on Adam’s shoulder and the American turned his head away. “Are you okay, Adam?”
There was such a wealth of disappointment and despair in that one word that Scarlet tried to reassure his partner. “We haven’t finished here, yet. If this hasn’t done the trick, I’m sure there is at least one more thing we can do to tip the balance.” Blue turned to face him and Scarlet could see that his expressive pale-blue eyes were awash with unshed tears. He gave a wry smile. Adam was far more emotional than he liked to admit or have anyone realise. He pretended not to notice.
“And that’s, what, exactly?” Blue asked suspiciously, dashing a hand over his eyes. He saw hesitation in Scarlet’s face and felt with a certainty that he knew what was coming next. He also knew that Paul would try to implement whatever plan he’d devised alone – but this time, he wasn’t going to let himself be sidelined. He gave a quiet snort of cynical laughter – out here, there was no way Scarlet could just hit the ejector seat button, and hurl his partner out of danger, a habit of Scarlet’s that had become something of a sore point between the two friends.
Blue switched off the communications link to Cloudbase – whatever Paul had to say, he surmised the colonel wouldn’t approve.
Scarlet sat in the co-pilot’s seat and stared at the asteroid, much as his partner had been doing such a short time before. “If we have to create an explosion, we have the perfect instrument… in fact we’re sitting in it. So, I suggest you get in the escape capsule, and I drive this ship into the asteroid, targeting the area we’ve already destabilised with the bombardment by the ray gun. With luck, the resulting explosion will trigger the shift in trajectory we need…”
“And if it doesn’t?”
Scarlet shrugged. “We’ll all be dead.”
“That’s a flawed argument, Paul, and you know it. If it doesn’t succeed - and the blast doesn’t kill me anyhow – I’d be left to die in space, with a grandstand view of the destruction of the Earth. Well, no thank you! The first man may have been called Adam, but that’s no reason to make sure the last man is as well! And what about you? If we manage to pull this off and you don’t make it – you’ll have thrown away your life for nothing – and what’ll happen the very next time the Mysterons threaten us? Don’t be a fool, Paul, there’s no need for either of us to go with the rocket – the auto-pilot can target the ship – so we both take the escape capsule or we both go with her.”
“Adam…you’ll have more air if you’re alone in the capsule,” Scarlet reasoned. “You said yourself, there isn’t a rocket can touch the XLs for speed. It’ll take too long for anything else to reach us out here. You know I’m right – so don’t argue! Besides, I don’t want to be the only man left alive either, if truth be told… and I don’t think I would survive such an explosion in deep space…”
“No arguments – both or neither. You won’t talk me out of it, Paul, and I’m not letting you get close enough to knock me out, either – so don’t even think it!”
“Would I do that?” Scarlet protested.
“Yes, for some cockeyed ‘noble’ ideal, you just might!” Blue asserted. “If our friendship has ever meant anything to you, Paul, don’t fight me on this. I’m quite prepared to die, I knew before we even launched this rocket that there was a chance I wouldn’t make it back, but I don’t want to die alone, floating above the smoking remains of the Earth.”
“This is emotional blackmail!” Scarlet protested, but he could see the stubborn set of Adam’s mouth and knew he would get nowhere with any further protests. “Do you even know how to set the auto-pilot? There’ll be all kinds of built-in safety features to avoid collisions… they may need to be over-ridden manually.”
Blue nodded. “No they won’t - I’ve had plenty of time to work out how to circumvent them. The idea wasn’t unique to you, you know.”
Scarlet considered for a long moment and then said, “Okay – we’ll both use the escape capsule. Then, if this doesn’t work, we’ll hold hands and float away into oblivion together…” He rolled his eyes and simpered at his friend.
Blue gave a snort of laughter. “You’re a bloody fool at times, Metcalfe,” he said with a valiant stab at imitating his friend’s sharp English accent.
They grinned at each other and Blue gave a relieved sigh before he turned to see the results of their last attempt scrolling on to the computer screen. He sobered quickly and said, “Paul, this data suggests that last blast has finally made the asteroid shift – not quite enough, but one more similar blast ought to do it…”
“There’s no power… the collector dish is going full tilt, but it’ll take a few hours to have the power to repeat that last attack. Hours we don’t have…” He glanced down at the communication panel, where the incoming light was flashing hysterically. He flicked it back on.
“Spectrum XL, please respond…” Lieutenant Green’s voice was sounding desperate.
“Spectrum XL, receiving you, Cloudbase.”
“What is your status? Have you seen the data results from the last attack?”
“We have, but we have no power reserves to attempt another attack. However, we do have one last option. We propose to crash the ship into the target area… please apologise to Space City for the loss of their vehicle… and send help, if you have the chance… Wish us luck... Spectrum XL out!”
Blue cut the com link, in the face of the colonel’s roar of disapproval. “I foresee a whole new page of demerits against our service records after this,” he said with a smile at Scarlet. “You get down to the escape pod gantry and prepare it for launch. I’ll set the coordinates.”
“S.I.G., Captain Blue.”
From the cramped confines of the escape capsule, Scarlet and Blue watched in nervous anticipation as the XL rocket – which had seemed so vast when they were aboard it – was dwarfed by the mighty bulk of the asteroid, as it vanished from their sight into the impenetrable shadows. It seemed to be an age before they saw the flare of the explosion and watched rock fragments hurtle past the capsule. They were lucky not to be hit, and waited with bated breath until the basic monitor Blue had rigged up showed that their scheme had worked. The asteroid was moving away from its original course, spinning away from the capsule and out into the inky blackness of space.
The two friends turned towards each other, matching grins on their faces.
“We did it, Adam, we did it!” Scarlet crowed over the radio of the space suits they were wearing.
“See – I was right - You would have thrown your life away needlessly,” Blue reminded him with a wry smile. “Now we just have to wait for the rescue craft to get here. I have activated the distress beacon… I guess, all we can do now is…wait.”
“How long do you estimate it’ll take them to reach us?”
Blue shrugged. “Between thirty-six to forty-eight hours.”
“And the air will last how long?” Scarlet stared levelly at his friend.
Blue sighed. “Well, the suits have about 10-12 hours and the capsule another 24 – with two people aboard,” Blue admitted, confirming Scarlet’s own estimates
“So - if they are as quick as they can be, and they find us straight away… we might just last…” he said flatly.
“It’s a chance,” Blue insisted, adding, “And it’s a better one than you would have had if you’d stayed on the rocket.” He met Scarlet’s frowning gaze with a stubborn expression. “I have started the environmental controls – the atmosphere should be about breathable soon. Then we can take these helmets off. The damn things are uncomfortable.”
“No,” Scarlet said. “I’m not taking mine off. I have 12 hours’ oxygen… and if I don’t breathe from the capsule’s supply – you’d have more than enough to last until the rescue craft arrives. So… that’s how we’ll do it.”
“Paul!” Blue was horrified. “You’ll suffocate!”
“And you’ll survive,” Scarlet reasoned. “When you get me back to Earth, we’ll just have to hope my retrometabolism takes over…”
“I won’t let you!”
“Think of it as the equivalent of the eject button – you have no choice, Adam.”
Scarlet smiled. “You stopped me from needlessly risking my life – and I’m grateful, so now I’m doing the same for you. You know I’m right, Adam.”
“When we get back, I’m gonna punch your lights out, Metcalfe!”
“When we get back – I’ll let you try…”
Linda Nolan, the controller of the Moon installation known as Lunarville 6, satisfied herself that the two Spectrum officers were comfortable and relayed the information to Colonel White with a ring of satisfaction in her voice.
“My pilots assure me that both Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue are doing fine, sir. It seems that Captain Scarlet was barely conscious when the rescue craft arrived, but both he and Captain Blue are adamant that he will be right as rain just as soon as he has had some food, water and sleep. Captain Blue seems perfectly all right, sir. Both men have refused a medical examination, insisting that they will only accept Doctor Fawn’s ministrations. As they do not appear to be physically harmed, I thought it wiser not to press the matter – unless you wish me to…?”
“No, Ms. Nolan, they are both within their rights and I am confident that if either of them thought they needed medical assistance, they would ask for it. You are aware that Spectrum has regulations regarding the medical care of its operatives… please do not bother them with the matter again.” Colonel White gave Doctor Fawn a quick glance. “How soon will they be returning to Earth?”
“Well, Colonel, as you know, we used our fastest rocket to retrieve the escape capsule, but now we don’t have enough fuel for it to make the flight to Earth. I have a freighter that can reach you in approximately three days? Unless you want to send an XL rocket to fetch them?”
“No,” the colonel replied. Space City was less than pleased with Spectrum at the moment. “The freighter will be fine. I’m sure the rest will do them both good. Put them on the next freighter back, Ms. Nolan, and I’ll send someone to pick them up at Space City.”
“Of course, Colonel.” She paused a moment and gave an excited smile. “They did an excellent job, didn’t they?”
“Yes, Ms. Nolan, they did - a most excellent job.”
And so it was that when the battered space freighter touched down in Space City three and a half days later, it was met by Rhapsody and Symphony Angels.
Captain Scarlet, showing no sign of any weakness, sprang from the elevator and waited for Captain Blue before they strode together across to the landing port exit, where the two young women were waiting with impatience. As they neared the barrier, Symphony leapt over it and sprinted across the tarmac, followed – the merest seconds later – by Rhapsody.
Symphony threw herself into Blue’s embrace, finding herself spun around as he lifted her off the ground with a beaming smile. Rhapsody ran to Captain Scarlet, and paused a few feet away, her hands outstretched towards him. He drank in her tear-filled eyes and her trembling lips, before he swept her into an embrace, burying his dark head in her copper-red hair.
“I thought I’d never see you again,” he murmured.
“Paul, Paul… oh God, I thought I’d lost you, my darling… my darling, Paul.”
He silenced her fears with a kiss.
The freighter pilot looked at the two couples, locked in passionate embraces, oblivious to the world, and pushed his cap back on his head with a wry grin. “I wish I got a welcome like that every time I was away for a few days,” he remarked to his co-pilot. Sharing amused smiles, the two men walked on, leaving the Spectrum personnel to come down to earth at their leisure.
“So you see, Colonel, when I heard the radio transmission from the approaching Lunarville rocket, I managed to remove Captain Scarlet’s helmet, and by the time they had docked the capsule with their ship, he was alive again, but unconscious.”
They were sitting on the Promenade Deck, over-looking the Angel Interceptor Jet launch pad on Cloudbase. Colonel White had invited them to share ‘tea’ with him. On a small round table between them were plates of sandwiches and some cake, along with all the paraphernalia for making ‘a decent cup of tea’. Scarlet sipped his tea appreciatively from a dainty china cup, whilst Blue cradled a mug of coffee in his hands – Colonel White having waived his usual insistence on tea consumption in his case. It went without saying that everyone on Cloudbase knew better than to intrude on such a gathering.
Blue looked across at his partner. “I guess we were lucky that Lunarville 6 had an executive transport craft they were prepared to use to fetch us – or Paul would have been dead for much longer.” He stared into the black coffee and found it hard to suppress a shudder. “Those hours are not ones I’d ever want to live through again. To stand by and watch as Paul suffocated…” He shook his head. “But he wouldn’t listen to me – he made me promise I wouldn’t interfere.”
Scarlet placed a sympathetic hand on his friend’s arm. He knew Adam had found the experience hard to take and that it would be some time before he came to terms with it. “Never mind, it worked. There was enough air for Adam, and I couldn’t see any other way to ensure the maximum chance of both of us surviving. Fortunately, the rocket reached us in twenty-one hours, rather then the minimum estimated time of twenty-four, but I had to work on the premise that we might not be rescued for a couple of days. I assured Ms Nolan that we were both extremely grateful to her for her help.”
Colonel White gave a tight smile. “What you did was extremely courageous, Captain Scarlet, but you were risking your life. Doctor Fawn told me that he has no idea if your retrometabolism would be affected by a prolonged period of… death. Thankfully, this time, there was no real harm done.”
Scarlet grimaced ruefully. He hoped the colonel was right.
White continued. “You must understand that the World President has decided, in consultation with many other world and religious leaders, that it is unadvisable to make any of this incident public knowledge. Technically, I was even in contravention of my orders in asking Ms Nolan to lend her assistance, although President Younger is not likely to complain. However, there is nothing to be gained from spreading alarm and panic with the knowledge that the Mysterons could wipe us out any time they choose to send another asteroid our way. The only news that will be disseminated is that Doctor Conrad is on the verge of a breakthrough with his ADR and that, once new machines have been manufactured, they will be installed on geo-stationary satellites, to provide a defence ring around the earth.”
“We understand, sir,” Scarlet said with a glance at his friend.
Colonel White also glanced at Captain Blue and added with a flash of his dry humour, “I’m afraid I may not be able to deliver on that medal I promised you, Captain…”
“No sweat, sir,” Blue said. “I wouldn’t have known where to stick it anyway…” he added morosely.
"Imitation is the sincerest
form of television."
-- Fred Allen (1894-1956)
“In a high tech base at a secret location, the dedicated men and women of PRISM – the Primary Initiative for Saving Mankind – keep a watchful eye on the vulnerable world. Whatever the danger - whatever the personal risk – they are ready at a moment’s notice to spring into action and give of their best to defend the world they love.”
A martial-sounding call to arms echoed across an image of the PRISM control room and one by one, the pictures of the personnel appeared : Colonel Fright, Captain Rue, the beautiful Seraphs, Captain Hokum and the other officers and finally – Captain Starlight, standing tall and proud – his blue eyes sparkling, his dark hair ruffled by a breeze….
The narrator continued: “Last week on ‘Captain Starlight of PRISM’, we left our hero facing certain death as he and his valiant companion Captain Rue, raced into deepest space in an effort to destroy a rogue asteroid which threatened the Earth.”
“Rue, what’s the delay? We must fire the nuclear warheads… time is running out!”
“Starlight, the mechanism won’t work. And, incidentally, I’m afraid I have discovered what happened to Kismet Seraph’s pet rabbit… when the creature escaped from its hutch the other week it must’ve snuggled down in the wiring of the PRATSHIP – the unique Prism Advanced Technology Spaceship – “
“Is Fluffkin all right, Rue?”
“No, Starlight, he’s gnawed through the main power cables… I’m afraid Fluffkin is… no more…”
“Poor Kismet, she will be distraught. How she loved that rabbit - I must make sure I am there to give her all the consolation I can when we tell her about poor Fluffkin’s sad fate.”
“Never mind the bloody rabbit – what about the asteroid?”
“Rue! Please, control yourself. I know things look bad – but we’re not finished yet. Even in the face of overwhelming danger, we shouldn’t lose sight of the pain of our fellow individuals.”
“What I wouldn’t give to inflict pain on a certain individual right now…” Rue muttered.
“You’d better come back to the flight deck,” Starlight ordered, oblivious of Rue’s heartfelt exasperation. “I have a plan…”
“Oh good grief, not another one…”
Starlight waited until Rue was strapped into his co-pilot’s seat.
“We’ll fly up to the asteroid and - at the very last moment - open the cargo doors and drop the nuclear warheads on the asteroid as we fly over it. The resulting explosion…”
“…Will blow us to smithereens!” Rue shrieked.
“Courage, my friend, you know I’m right, Captain. Believe me, I know what I’m doing.”
“I would find it easier to believe the Earth is flat…” Rue complained.
The sleek, saucer-shaped white craft increased speed and raced to its rendezvous with the asteroid. The huge rock, laced with holes like a giant bath-sponge in space, tumbled beneath them.
“Hold tight, Rue,” Starlight warned.
The star ship glided over the rough surface of the asteroid, and two bombs fell from the cargo bay. The impact buffeted the ship, as a chain reaction spread over the surface of the rock below them, sending shards flying off in all directions.
“We’ll ride the blast wave!” Starlight cried excitedly.
“You’re crazy,” Rue exclaimed. “You cannot do that – it contravenes the laws of Physics…”
“It’ll be just like our surfing holiday, Rue!”
“Great – I nearly drowned on that…”
“Yee-hah!” Starlight whooped.
Colonel Fright stood with a hand resting on the weeping Kismet Seraph’s shoulder. “There, there, my dear. We all must make sacrifices in the course of our duty. Poor Fluffkin was a victim of tragic circumstances. You must not blame yourself…”
“No, after all, who was it left the rabbit’s cage open in the first place, thus allowing it to gnaw through vital power cables?” Rue muttered.
Kismet sent up a heart-rending howl of anguish.
Captain Starlight went on his knees before her. “Kismet, dearest Kismet, you must be brave. We have poor Fluffkin’s body, and I will see to it that he is buried with all due ceremony. No blame attaches to you or to Fluffkin. We destroyed the asteroid – the Earth is safe… take heart, my dear.”
Madrigal Seraph glanced at Captain Rue. “You’re very hard on people, you know, Rue? After all, we can’t all be as brave and noble and as unerringly right as Captain Starlight…”
“For which small mercy I am profoundly grateful,” Rue replied. “I’m sorry, Madrigal, and I didn’t mean to upset Kismet, but… sometimes life is just too unbelievable for words.”
Madrigal smiled and placed a hand on his arm. “Never mind, Rue… let’s go and get a cup of coffee, shall we?”
Rue smiled. “Now that’s the best idea I’ve heard all day…”
The credits rolled:
“Captain Starlight….. He’s the one who knows the enemy’s game
Captain Starlight… to his many foes a dangerous name…. a superman!”
A voice-over announced, “Captain Starlight and the members of PRISM are fictional characters, any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Next time on ‘Captain Starlight of PRISM’ the Captain has to save the world from giant mutant insects…
In the Officer’s Lounge on Cloudbase, there was an ironic cheer and even Captain Blue joined in the laughter when Destiny said:
“I hope the Mysterons do not plan to imitate that! Tiens, I could not do with giant spiders! Some brave captain really would have to rescue me!”
“Form an orderly queue, guys,” Ochre teased, “right behind Brad….”
‘Captain Starlight’ first appeared in a conversation I had with Sue Stanhope and we had a plan to write the story together. Unfortunately, that was never possible, and - as speculation grew about the new CGI series of ‘Captain Scarlet’ – I asked Sue if she minded if I wrote the story alone, using the plot we had devised as the basis for my story. She very kindly gave her permission.
I don’t know if the resulting story is quite what she expected – but I had fun writing it.
Several elements of this story grew out of comments by - or online discussions with - friends and if anyone recognises something as ‘their’ idea, I hope they will accept my thanks and not object to its inclusion.
Thanks, as ever, to Hazel Köhler (the ‘warp-speed-beta-reader’), for her awesome job in checking this story over. Hazel also assures me that the scenes in the TV studio are realistic enough to pass muster.
Thanks are also due to Chris Bishop, for her unfailing support and encouragement. Without her friendship and that of the other members of our dedicated band of ‘Scarletinies’, my life would be a lot less fun!
I do not own Captain Scarlet or any of the characters or concepts from the TV series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons™. They belong to ITC/Polygram/Carlton and were created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.
I suppose I do own Captain Starlight and his comrades in arms… and that the ‘deranged imagination’ Matthew Nash refers to as being responsible for the whole PRISM farrago – is mine…
Certainly any mistakes, inaccuracies or inconsistencies are mine.
Thank you for reading the story. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Starlight Rules- OK!