Original series Suitable for all readersMedium level of violence


Operation: Minerva 


A 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' story

by Siobhan Zettler






Analysis was on‑going.

The creatures were proving to be very difficult to define. If they had been consistent in any aspect, it had been in their collective ability to either exceed or fail utterly to meet every parameter that previous data analyses had established for them.

They existed in three dimensional space and linear time; their perceptions were therefore limited. This had been taken into account. Constructed from simple elements organised in a highly complex manner, the individual units operated on energy provided by an equally complex variety of closely regulated chemical reactions. Much of this was understood ‑ human physical substance was complex, but comprehensible.

The human cognitive process, however, was another matter, and the study of such continued. Human thinking was rooted in the same chemical processes, but it was constantly influenced by other, external, factors. Human behaviour was modified in response to those factors, often in random and unpredictable ways. Modified response varied and depended, it was theorised, on the way that the individual units were organised in relation to their environment, to one another, and to the Whole. This too, was not clearly understood.

Nor was the Whole's ultimate purpose,  though its own survival was apparently of the highest priority. The individual units routinely engaged in the destruction of the others, a sometimes random, sometimes deliberate behaviour that the Whole recognised as aberrant but nonetheless accepted. The Whole designated significant portions of itself to self‑regulatory functions that included monitoring the destructively aberrant units. Often it was ineffective but as the creatures were continually self‑replicating, it obviously didn't matter a great deal. The Whole went on, pursuing its own non‑understood purposes, as it also continued to react to the consequence of one particular individual unit's recent past actions in the linear time‑line...

It was theorised that the unit the collective had designated Captain Black had malfunctioned. The unit, by all indications, had been a key and trusted one. The Whole had not anticipated that the creature would begin a war, though the Whole had understood, accepted and undertaken defensive measures appropriate to seeing to its own continued survival throughout such a war. It was a concept that still required deeper study.  Straightforward on the surface, war was in fact a complex and convoluted activity, and involved another often self‑contradictory human concept: morality. More data were needed in this area; morals were as full of diametrically opposed notions and functions as   was the Black unit's mind, a thing that ran on several levels, most of which were autonomic and from which factual raw data could be extracted readily. Motor function was also largely autonomic and the creature's physical being had been mastered early on. But control of the creature's conscious cognitive functions remained elusive. The Black unit's mind resisted yet...

As it resisted now... another Construct had become necessary to continue the war; the Black unit's mind balked at the destruction of one of its fellow individual units as usually it did, despite the fact that the Black unit's physical substance had been deliberately and finely honed to perform such destructive acts with a high degree of precision. It was another unresolved conundrum. The study would continue.

Analysis was on‑going...


Tourist stuff.

Todd Carey was becoming bored. The tour had been long and hot and the air on the bus had been almost as stifling as the air in the overcrowded dining lounge. The food was spicy and foreign, and he mistrusted it as much as he mistrusted the water... Shelley's last adventure tour had left him in some considerable discomfort after a week of supposedly purified and bottled water...

That had been South America and the wilds of the upper Amazon. This time it was Africa, and Shelley had ‑ to give his long‑suffering wife some credit ‑ stuck strictly by the travel agent's recommendations and booked them into good hotels and arranged for well‑known and reputable attractions. Not a single tour bus had broken down. It had been a tame holiday, all things considered. And so he was bored, halfway around the globe and a hemisphere from home, pretending to be interested in the sights he could have gotten at any number of exotic game farms back in Canada at considerably less expense and inconvenience. The seasonal and often bitter cold of the Rockies back home had made the trip to southern climes seem an attractive and good idea at the time, but right now he'd have given a lot for a waft of cold Arctic air to blow through. He was sweating; his shirt was stuck to his back and itching abominably. Time for a breath of fresh air...

Shelley was deeply engrossed in conversation with a couple from New Zealand and was monopolizing that conversation; he would hardly be missed. He rose to his feet, excused himself politely with a kiss behind Shelley's ear and nodded good night. He would see her back at the room. She dismissed him with an absent nod, scarcely missing a beat as she launched into an explanation of what he was doing as he bolted out of doors... “Todd's such a hermit, really, and the place he works is right out in the boonies ‑ lovely spot, spectacular scenery with the mountains and all ‑ but it's so isolated. Just what he needs of course, he's working on a doctoral thesis, though I don't suppose it will ever be finished at the rate he's moving...”

He knew the whole thing by heart. Shelley always sounded as if she was complaining, but she was in truth usually bragging and quite proud of him. And so he tolerated the abuses of travel, because it was true that his work kept him, and therefore Shelley, isolated from most of society for those other 44 weeks of the year that they weren't vacationing.

The Biotech industry was like that... One semi‑serious accident early on in the century had led to the imposition of choking regulations on gene‑science in general, regulations that had effectively banished all gene‑research industries to unpopulated backwater locations... It had been an expensive industry‑wide adjustment, and it had driven a good many smaller firms right out of the business. Those that had survived, however, had flourished. Most scientists, it seemed, just didn't mind isolation. It cleared their brains and made them very productive.

Todd Carey had to admit that he was one of them. He was the Director of Demeter Research and Development, a first class, indeed world class laboratory of global renown and a facility whose researches had produced more than its fair share of cutting‑edge breakthroughs in fields that varied widely from agriculture to computer bio‑chips. It was a lucrative post, and he felt privileged to hold it. It was challenging, interesting work that paid very well and it furthermore allowed him to meet a vast array of the most fascinating people.

In short, it allowed him to pursue a passion he'd had for years. He had degrees in General Science and Business Administration. But his life's interest and his hobby was psychology and he was still working towards a doctorate in the field. He was coming closer ‑ and he was, as Shelley was so quick to point out, often working on the thesis that would bring him to that goal. He was preparing a paper on the Psychology of Genius; genius ‑ true genius, that was ‑ was a rare thing, difficult to find let alone study, and his post at Demeter R&D brought him into close contact with several people who happened to fit the bill...

It had become habit that he did a good deal of mental composition whenever he stepped out for a breath of fresh air. He couldn't ever fool Shelley.

The night was dark there on the edge of the savannah, and the lights from the small tourist compound were the only ones for miles and miles around. It was so as not to disturb the animals any more than necessary ‑ it was supposed to be a wilderness adventure, after all. Few of the other tourists were out and about. It had been a long tiring drive in the heat. Only one other guest was in evidence, a tall, dark‑haired but rather pale looking man in khaki was leaning up against one of the veranda posts, staring off into the night. He looked like he might have been a game warden, or one of the Park Rangers. There was a rifle leaning up against the railing beside him.

The man glanced once in Todd's direction; he nodded a mute greeting and stepped down off the porch, not wanting to involve himself in another conversation. Besides that, the man, who'd joined the tour only a day before, didn't look particularly well – a victim to the water, perhaps. And he knew the sort of mood that put one in.  He gave attention to his own business, and wandered off into the night, steps rustling in the long, dry grass and didn't look back even once.

So Todd Carey never did notice when the tall, pale man slung the rifle over his shoulder and followed him into the African darkness...








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