A ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ short story for Supermarionation4eva
By Lezli Farrington
Rose didn't even bother to check around the corner.
She knew that there was no one there. She whipped her small form down the
shadowy corridor and hid at the end. Presently, she was joined by her partner
in crime Emma, better known as the notorious 'Scarlet Lady'. They compared
notes on their activities until they heard a deep booming voice. They knew that
they were the only ones who could hear it, but the grating sound still made the
girls edgy, especially in the silence of the deserted complex where they were
presently infiltrating, knowing that they could be caught any second.
"This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. You are to proceed with your objectives. You must not fail. Spectrum must be defeated if we are to take control of Earth once and for all."
"We know what we must do," the two girls chanted in unison.
Scarlet crouched in a dingy hallway, listening through his earpiece to his instructions. He was about going to be caught any second, the amount of noise that seemed to be coming from the device. He could hear footsteps approaching his position already, and neglected to confirm his orders with the standard response. He moved away from the approaching women. He remembered the briefing on this mission, and afterwards, he’d laughed at the fact that he was the only male on the playing field. All of the other captains and lieutenants were female, except young Lieutenant Amber, who was stuck in a secure room with a load of computer screens, testing out the latest in potential Mysteron detection units. Each one was the size of a bug from the turn of the century and, hopefully, gave a real-time image of Mysteron agents. It worked along the same principals as the original detectors, but the technology had advanced a long way in twenty years.
Scarlet hefted his heavy weapon and swiftly made his way towards his target. He drew up short when he came across the Scarlet Lady, lurking suspiciously.
“What are you doing?” he asked, cautiously.
“Planting a bomb,” the young woman said, innocently, not looking up from her work.
“What?!” Scarlet was stunned. “Captain Black said we weren’t to have bombs!”
“Scarlet, you have to stop being such a tight-arse and have a bit of fun,” she replied cheekily, finally taking her eyes from the explosive attached to the wall. “All Mysterons are supposed to have a good time.” She grabbed the major’s arm and dragged him into a crevice in the rusted steel wall. Soon enough, Scarlet’s ears detected the distinctive sounds of Spectrum boots on the walkway. The Scarlet Lady drew a small device out of her pocket, and when the sound was close enough, she depressed the single button on the surface.
There was no explosion, but Scarlet heard shrieks from just outside his hiding place.
“Urgh. What was that?”
The Scarlet Lady emerged from her hiding place, triumphant. “A custard bomb,” she explained. “Slightly more effective than a paintball gun.”
Amethyst Angel sucked some of the gloop off of her finger. “Lake is right. Is custard,” she confirmed for her fellow pilot.
Diamond plucked a small marker from her belt and placed it on the ground - the symbol that she was out of the game. The younger Russian pilot followed suit.
“Does this mean we have to be Mysterons now?” Diamond asked, licking the custard from around her mouth.
“Should we ‘Mysteronise’ these two Angels, subjecting them to even more humiliation?” Scarlet pondered.
“Your call, Major,” Lieutenant Lake, previously known as the ‘Scarlet Lady’, stated, taking fly licks from the wall.
“I think we’ll let them off this time,” Scarlet decided finally. He’d drawn out the process to wind the Angels up, and it had worked. The two young women shifted nervously on their feet, causing custard to fall off of them unevenly. After hearing Scarlet’s proclamation, they scarpered. He heard Diamond say as they left “First dibs on the shower.”
“Hmm,” Scarlet turned back to his younger colleague. “Do you have any more of those bombs?”
Lake shook her head. “I only had the one. They’re Rose’s invention, so you’ll have to ask her. I only had the one, and I think Christine has a couple.”
“Okay, I will,” Scarlet replied, and headed off.
Lake sniggered and patted the other bomb she had, safely hidden in her pack, before moving off herself.
Captain Aquamarine and Lieutenant Topaz had heard the shrieking and ran towards the sound, wondering who had been hit. They reached a junction and listened out for the footsteps of the offending officer. When Topaz nodded, Aquamarine knew that it was a Mysteron approaching. She had herself been a Mysteron at one point, but she had freed herself and been left with no abilities, unlike the others. Topaz had been in contact with a mystical being known as a Starjumper in her early years as a Spectrum cadet, who had left her with the abilities to see the aura around a person, which was evidently different for a Mysteron.
The two women rounded the corner to face the Mysteron and came face to face with Major Scarlet. He didn’t have time to ready his weapon and fire before he was caught in a barrage of paintballs. He fell flat on his back, and the two women crept closer to see which of them had felled the mighty Major.
Scarlet sat up before they reached him, and they were surprised, but pleased to see that there were two splatters of paint on his chest - one blue, the other yellow.
“We bagged Scarlet,” Aquamarine crowed, drawing another weapon and pointing it at Scarlet.
Topaz’s eyes widened. Her senses were always a bit fuzzy around Mysterons, including Aquamarine, which was part of the reason she didn’t entirely trust them. Her surprise did not even come close to that of Scarlet, who froze to the spot as Aquamarine pulled the trigger.
Scarlet sighed in relief as a stream of liquid hit him in the face.
“What the heck is that for?” he enquired, curiously.
“It’s a substitute for a Mysteron gun,” Aquamarine explained. “All the captains have one, specially colour coded.”
“Colour coded?” Scarlet asked, and a bit of the liquid dripped into his mouth as he spoke, almost answering his question for him. “This isn’t water.”
Aquamarine grinned. “Nope, it’s jelly. It sets on you too!”
Topaz burst out laughing. She hadn’t known about the water pistols at all and found this all very funny.
Scarlet dejectedly dropped his own red marker on the floor before getting up and wandering off, dripping jelly on the floor.
Aquamarine and Topaz gave each other high fives.
“Let’s go kick some more Mysteron butt,” Topaz said, aiming the paintball gun at a nonexistent target.
Scarlet found the main entrance of the building and exited, making his way over to a small camp. A few other agents were already there; hit by red, indigo or brownish paintballs, and the two young Angels still had custard in their hair. Diamond was frantically trying to brush it out, with little success.
Captain Black caught Scarlet’s eye. The older man had been under Mysteron control for many years, and many had been surprised when he was released a few years back, and especially when he returned to Spectrum last month in an advisory capacity. Scarlet wandered over to Black, who was seated in front of a bank of monitors, showing him various parts of the complex.
Black leaned over a microphone and spoke into it.
“This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. Major Scarlet has been taken from us. The objectives are now as follows: Rose, you must take on the responsibility of disposing of the scientists. Scarlet Lady, you must secure the helijet for us. Christine, you must still attempt to keep Spectrum forces from defeating us. We will be avenged.”
Black shut off the mic and shuddered as three young voices chanted, “We know what we must do” in reply. Scarlet was disturbed by the fact that they were in unison.
“I hate doing that.”
Scarlet looked closely at his friend. The years had not been kind to the captain. Frown lines creased his brow, and the colour of his hair almost rivalled General White’s now.
“Why did you choose to do that, Conrad?” Scarlet asked, gently.
Black sighed. “Charles wanted it to be realistic.”
Captains Cerise and Sapphire sat taking some time out in what appeared to be an old conference room. Sapphire had her paintball gun trained on the door, just in case one of the Mysteron agents tried to hide out in there.
“Did you see Diamond and Amethyst?” Cerise enquired of her friend, smiling at the memory.
“No,” replied Sapphire, “why do you ask?”
“They were covered in some sort of yellow goo,” Cerise told the French-Canadian woman. “I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t look like paint, especially since Amethyst was eating it.”
Sapphire looked thoughtful. “No, she would not,” she murmured.
“I was just thinking that I heard young Lieutenant Indigo asking in the kitchens for custard powder. That is yellow, isn’t it?”
“She would, wouldn’t she?” Cerise thought of the troublesome young lieutenant and realised that she had been no less sneaky than the captains fighting on the Spectrum side, who had unauthorised ‘Mysteron guns’. Hers was filled with bright pink raspberry jelly and Sapphire’s was an unusual blueberry variety.
Suddenly the door of the conference room burst open and the two captains were caught off guard. Thinking of the custard that had effectively taken out the younger Angel pilots, they dived behind the seats they had been sitting on.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the centre, Lieutenants Indigo and Beige had just met up when Black relayed his new orders.
“YES!” Indigo cheered. “I get the scientists.”
“What’s so good about that?” Beige asked, confused.
“It’s so easy peasy. All I have to do is chuck a custard bomb in there and they’re gone. They’re only cardboard figures, after all.”
“You and those custard bombs. You’ll get too cocky with them.”
“You thought they were a good idea at the time,” Indigo protested. “You helped, after all; you invented the remote detonators for the sticky ones.”
“What was I thinking?” Beige laughed.
“Christine, you think?”
The two girls laughed, until Indigo looked at her watch.
“Oops, better go before I get Captain Black on the line having a go at me again.”
“Later,” Beige said.
Sapphire raised her head in the absence of the expected deluge of airborne dessert and saw Lieutenant Silver standing at the door, looking utterly lost. Sapphire’s heart went out to the shy teenager as she stammered “I… I’m ssssorry, captain, ma’am.”
“Don’t worry, Amy,” Cerise said, popping her head above the level of the seats. Lieutenant Lilac, who had just stuck her own head around the door, raised her eyebrows, but said nothing.
“We were expecting custard,” Sapphire attempted to explain.
“I won’t ask,” Lilac stated.
“Come on in, girls,” Cerise said, invitingly. “We were setting up another of those bugs in here and used the excuse to take a breather.”
Sapphire’s epaulets flashed amber.
“Yes, lieutenant?” she said as her microphone dropped into place.
“Captain, there is a Mysteron approaching your location,” Amber reported.
Sapphire and Cerise exchanged worried looks. “Do you know who it is?”
“Um, I’m trying to establish identity now, ma’am… It’s Lieutenant Beige.”
“Thank you, lieutenant.”
Lilac pointed the muzzle of her paintballer at the door. “Let’s get her!” she cried.
Cerise put her hand on the lieutenant’s shoulder. “Easy, let’s not get too excited. They seem to have a type of bomb that they could throw into here and take us all out at once.”
Silver, upon hearing this, scampered to the back of the room and hid behind the furthest row of seats. Sapphire headed up after her, and Cerise led a protesting Lilac in the same direction, hiding on the opposite side of the room.
True enough, a grenade-style yellow blob was thrown into the room and the door slammed shut. Fortunately, the charge in the bomb was not enough to reach the back rows and the four Spectrum agents were safe. Cerise raised her head and was promptly taken out by a well-aimed paintball. Beige had evidently opened the door again and was using it as a shield. Lilac tried to take pot shots, in the attempt to hit the former Mysteron agent, but was promptly taken down herself. Sapphire finally managed to take Beige out, and the girl walked into the room, laughing.
Halfway around the base, Sapphire suddenly realised that she’d forgotten to squirt Beige with her water pistol. Not wanting to alarm the jumpy lieutenant with whom she’d teamed up with, Sapphire found a way to head back to the conference room without Silver noticing.
Unfortunately, the cheeky young lieutenant had disappeared by the time the pair reached their destination. Sapphire quickly contacted Lieutenant Amber in the safe room.
“Amber, can you find Lieutenant Beige on your cameras?” she asked.
“I’ll try, ma’am, but I still can’t promise anything with this equipment. It’s highly experimental,” the Caribbean lieutenant replied.
“I thought it took six hours for the Mysterons to come back to life,” Silver said, having realised what had happened. “I know that she wasn’t really dead anyway, but this is meant to be true to life.”
Sapphire was surprised. That must have been the longest speech she’d ever heard the young woman make. Silver was very shy, and tended to stay in research. She helped Dr. Fawn with his lab experiments and assisted on visits to R&D facilities with her scientific knowledge.
“It is true that the Mysterons that you know will take roughly six hours to return to health, but those under the control of the Mysterons themselves will heal much quicker than normal,” Sapphire told the inquisitive lieutenant.
Just then, Sapphire’s radio crackled into life. It was still active from her previous conversation.
“Yes, lieutenant?” the Canadian enquired.
“I couldn’t manage to track down Lieutenant Beige, but I have found Lieutenant Indigo, an few metres from your present position. She is closing in on the scientists’ suspected location.”
“Alright, thank you, lieutenant.”
Amber gave Captain Sapphire directions to find the errant Mysteron agent, and she and Silver made their way to the showdown.
Rose made certain that there was no one else around before contacting Captain Black.
“Captain Black?” she whispered into a small microphone hidden under her collar. “Am I in the right place?”
“Yes, Rose, you are. The scientists are just on the other side of the door.”
Rose drew a packet out of her pack. Holding the object carefully, Rose opened the door in front of her a crack, twisted the pack and threw it into the room, slamming the door behind her.
After waiting for five seconds, Rose opened the door again and grinned when she saw the state of the room. Every surface was covered in slimy custard, including the cardboard scientists. She was so engrossed with checking for any ‘survivors’ that she never heard Captain Sapphire and Lieutenant Silver approaching.
Sapphire gave the signal, and Silver opened fire. They had decided previously that Silver should be the one to fire, as Sapphire was hoping that it might build her confidence a bit.
Rose fell forwards onto the custard coated floor, and Amy thought that silver looked good on the black coverall that the young Mysteron was wearing. When Rose didn’t get up, however, Amy panicked and rushed over.
“Rose, Rose, are you hurt?” She shook the tiny Mysteron, who rolled over, laughing.
“Serves me right, really, doesn’t it?”
“That wasn’t funny!” Silver yelled. “I thought I’d really hurt you.”
“You couldn’t hurt me, Earthwoman,” Indigo told her, green eyes flashing.
Indigo frowned. “Where did that come from?”
“Perhaps we should have you checked out,” Sapphire said, concerned. She held out her hand and helped the young lieutenant to her feet. As she pulled her hand away, she noticed that it had acquired some custard.
“It’s edible,” Indigo reassured her.
This reminded Sapphire of her jelly pistol, but somehow didn’t feel that it was appropriate to squirt the Mysteron lieutenant, just in case. Instead, she led the unblinking girl outside.
“This is Captain Black, relaying instructions from the Mysterons. Rose has now been taken from us, having completed her mission. Scarlet Lady, Christine, you must now both work towards acquiring the helijet before you are caught by Spectrum forces. We will be avenged.”
“We know what we must do,” Christine chanted, before heading off towards the hangar where the helijet was kept. She found the corridors surprisingly empty, and assumed that the others had managed to get rid of a few Spectrum officers, helping her to reach the hangar level unnoticed. Remembering that Lieutenant Amber was based on this level, Beige wandered until she saw the guard posted outside a room. Guessing that this was Amber’s hideout, Beige silently lined up the guard and fired. He hadn’t even noticed her before the paintball hit him.
Beige drew a blobby looking package out of her pack, twisted it and threw it into the room. After five seconds, the delay period of the chemical reaction inside the bomb, Beige opened the door again, and saw Lieutenant Amber staring at the spot where the bomb had obviously landed, covered from head to foot in custard.
Smiling at her handiwork, Beige left Amber to ponder over what had hit him.
Captain Aquamarine’s epaulets flashed, and she answered when her cap microphone swung down into position.
“Captain, you are now alone in the field, along with Lieutenants Beige and Lake,” Amber informed them. “From what I can make out, they are both heading towards the main level.”
Aquamarine considered what was on the upper level. There were several hangar and storage bays, along with rooms that were once used as offices for the people on the face of the company who had used this complex. Amber was sitting in one such office with his new toys.
“What happened to the others?” Topaz asked.
“These cameras aren’t really designed to look for humans, but as far as I could tell, Diamond and Amethyst Angels were taken out by some sort of explosive that covered them in a paint-like substance and Captain Cerise and Lieutenant Lilac were taken out by Lieutenant Beige. I’m not really sure what happened to Captain Sapphire and Lieutenant Silver. Last I saw of them, they had just taken out Lieutenant Indigo. There was a fault on the camera, and I lost them after that. I haven’t been able to track them down, or raise them on the radio since.”
Aquamarine listened carefully. “Okay,” she said, realising that these events effectively left her in charge of the operation, or what was left of it. “We’ll come up to the main level, and check out what’s going on up there.”
“What the…?” Amber seemed startled.
“Lieutenant? Lieutenant?” Aquamarine asked, but all she received was static. She turned to her partner, Lieutenant Topaz.
“We’d better get up there,” was all she said.
Black listened, horrified to what Captain Sapphire was saying. He had spent enough years controlling Mysteron agents to know one when it was described to him, even from only a small portion of speech. He didn’t want to believe that it was possible, that they had introduced a real live Mysteron into the situation, and even worse, that the Mysteron was, in fact, one of their own officers.
“I don’t feel so good,” Indigo moaned. She had been sat on a chair whilst Sapphire and Black discussed the situation. Scarlet was being kept busy by Diamond Angel, who was remarkably good at keeping attention focussed on herself when the situation required it. She was a very pretty girl, with long red hair and teasing green eyes. She never wore any make-up and kept her hair styles simple, and it was all she ever needed.
Silver had stayed with Indigo, and now asked what the problem was.
“My head… It feels funny…” Indigo trailed off, and her head lolled to one side, as if she was sleepy.
“Don’t let her fall asleep,” Black snapped. Silver jumped, startled, but did as she was told, and tried to keep Indigo’s attention.
“What do you think is wrong, Captain?” Sapphire asked.
“I think that the Mysterons are trying to gain control of Indigo. It was one of the reasons I came back to Spectrum,” Black explained. “I read Scarlet’s report of what happened during the commissioning ceremony this year, and it made me worry.”
“Captain Black?” Scarlet Lady whispered. “Captain Black, where’s Christine?” She waited for a reply, but when none came, Lake headed into the hangar through an automatic door.
She headed over towards the large hangar doors, and started the mechanism that would allow them to open. The mechanism was quite old, and had not been used for many years, so the doors would take a long time to open. Now all she had to do was to secure the helijet before the Spectrum forces arrived.
Lake ducked behind a well placed barrel when she heard the pneumatic door open at the other end of the bay, but stood tall again when she felt Christine’s presence.
“Hi,” she called to her younger colleague.
“Hey,” Christine called back, jogging over to the helijet. “This is a breeze.” Then she stopped suddenly and turned to face the door.
“OW! That was uncalled for.”
Lake could clearly see the bright yellow splat right in the centre of Beige’s back. She ducked back down.
“I don’t think so, Mysteron,” Topaz sneered. She had a distinct distrust for all things Mysteron, and she didn’t hide it very well. That was why she had been paired with Captain Aquamarine for this mission, to realise that the Mysterons working for Spectrum could be trusted. Lake wasn’t entirely certain that the ‘master plan’ had succeeded.
Nevertheless, she said nothing, not wanting to draw attention to herself. She watched over the top of her cover in amusement as Captain Aquamarine approached the stunned lieutenant and squirted her with what appeared to be a water pistol.
“That’s overkill, don’t’cha think?”
“It’s a Mysteron gun, ghostie,” Topaz shot back.
“HEY!” Aquamarine shouted. “That’s enough! Now, Topaz. I don’t really care what you think of us, because we know what we are, and it’s not anything I’m ashamed of. And, Beige? Please stop encouraging her.”
Lake wanted to cheer, but knew that doing so would probably not be a good idea, not least because the sound would give away her position.
Beige looked abashed. “Sorry, Kelly.” She slunk off and perched on top of another barrel to watch the final battle.
Topaz scanned around, and caught a glimpse of Lake’s discoloured aura. She pointed out the location to Aquamarine, and then moved in for the kill.
“Emma!” Beige cried, alerting her unsuspecting friend to the danger she was in. It was cheating, but by this point, she didn’t care. She wanted Lake to at least have a chance at winning.
Lake streaked across the opening doorway of the hangar. Topaz tracked her and started to fire, but Lake had chosen her path carefully. When the ex-Mysteron crossed the open section of door, Topaz’s sensitive eyes were temporarily blinded by the bright light. Aquamarine started to take over the barrage of paint, but her position was wrong, and by the time she’d got her aim, Lake had come into the cover of the helijet.
Topaz fumbled in her uniform pockets for her protective glasses and slipped them into place, allowing her eyes to adjust for the higher light levels. She set off after Lake, and Auamarine, seeing her partner’s moves, went the other way, cutting off any escape Lake may have had.
Lake hugged close to the helijet, and found a door to let herself into it. She quickly opened the door and jumped on board, slamming the door shut as soon as she could.
Topaz’s blurred vision caught a flutter of movement, and she saw Lake’s distinctive aura climbing into the helijet. She fired, hoping that she was on time.
Cerise wound her way through the tented area, avoiding personnel who were going in the opposite direction. She’d heard from Amethyst that Sapphire and Silver had just brought Indigo in, and she was worried. She was a supporter of the Mysteron officers’ cases, and backed them up in arguments, normally against one of the more biased officers, like Topaz. Indigo had never really been one of her cases, but she still fell into the Mysteron category, so Cerise still took an interest. She was more concerned with Captain Aquamarine and Lieutenants Lake and Beige normally. Scarlet and Indigo could take care of themselves.
Indigo had been hidden from Scarlet’s view just inside a tent. Cerise quickly found her and rushed to her side. The Mysteron girl looked very pale in the sunlight, even more so than usual, and she seemed to be falling asleep. Silver was desperately trying to keep her awake, and on the whole, succeeding.
“What happened?” Cerise asked Silver.
“I don’t really know, ma’am, but Captain Sapphire is talking with Captain Black about it now.”
“Stop covering, Aims,” Indigo said, trying to concentrate. “I know what I said to you, and I know what’s going on. At least, I think I do…”
“What did she say?” Cerise asked, trying to understand the situation.
“Well…” Silver really didn’t want to say. “She said, ‘You couldn’t hurt me, Earthwoman’.”
Cerise shuddered. She now knew what Black and Indigo were thinking, and was very glad to see that Captain Sapphire was wearing her Spectrum uniform. It wasn’t something that they often saw the Intelligence liaison in, but it meant that she was on their side, or so Cerise hoped. If Intelligence heard about this, they would be swarming all over Cloudbase, which would put everyone in a bad mood for weeks. They couldn’t let that happen. Not before everyone was sure what had really happened, at any rate.
Cerise went over to where Black and Sapphire were standing.
“I can’t tell Intelligence before I’m certain, Chris, and neither can you!”
Cerise could see Sapphire battling between the two decisions. She knew which one would ultimately win out. Sapphire was unpredictable, and only liked the rules when they suited her. A lot like most of the members of Spectrum she could think of, actually.
“I won’t,” Sapphire said, finally. “However, we must determine if Lieutenant Indigo is a threat or not.”
“I know, but that will be most difficult.”
“Sapphire,” Cerise interjected, “can you keep Intelligence off our backs until we work this out?”
“Yes,” Sapphire stated simply.
Lake leaned her back against the closed door of the helijet and heard a thud - Topaz’s paintball.
Then the reality hit her. She’d won!
Realising that whatever happened now didn’t matter, Lake pulled her final custard bomb out of her bag, activated it and chucked it out of the hatch.
Aquamarine jogged over to where Topaz was standing, and watched as a yellow package flew through the air and landed neatly at the lieutenant’s feet.
“What is that?” the captain asked. She met Topaz’s shaded eyes.
“Explosive!” they both said simultaneously, diving for cover, but it was too late.
Beige heard the commotion and slipped off of her barrel to take a look.
“Beige,” Topaz said slowly, “you have one of those, don’t you?”
A smile spread across Beige’s face. She understood perfectly what Topaz wanted to do.
“Only one.” Beige pulled the last of her bombs out of her pack and handed it to Topaz.
“To start the reaction, you twist the pack. There’s about a five second time delay, depending on how well Rose measured out the chemicals.”
“Okay.” Topaz nodded and Beige moved to the other side of the door, where she would be hidden from view, but she would also be able to push it shut when Topaz had thrown the bomb.
Aquamarine knocked on the door of the helijet. “Well done, Ems,” she called through. “You can come out now.” She put her ear to the door, and waved back at Topaz when she heard the mechanism begin to open.
Topaz twisted the little packet, and as the door swung out, she threw it in and Beige pushed on the door.
Lieutenant Lilac met the four custard-covered agents as they exited the building.
“Captain Aquamarine? Can I have a word, please?” she asked.
“Yes, lieutenant, what is it?” The two officers dropped slightly ahead of the rest.
“Well, it’s about Lieutenant Topaz, ma’am. There’s been a bit of a problem with Lieutenant Indigo, and Captain Cerise thought that it might be better if Topaz didn’t see her until everything was better.”
Aquamarine thought about this. If Cerise wanted to keep Topaz out of the way, then the problem had to be Mysteron in origin.
“All right, but can you keep her out of the way? I think that the rest of us should help Indigo.”
“No problem,” Lilac confirmed. “Diamond set up a paint-balling game in the woods over there to keep Major Scarlet occupied. I’ll ask her along to that.”
Lilac ran to catch up with the others, and Topaz took very little persuading to join up with the game in the woods. Lake and Beige stopped to allow Aquamarine to catch up.
“I wonder what Captain Black wants,” Lake commented, as the three women continued to walk.
Aquamarine quickly realised that this was the excuse that Lilac had come up with to explain why the two Mysterons weren’t invited to the game. She quickly explained the real reason why they weren’t going, and they were concerned.
When they reached the camp, the three women made their way straight for the cluster of brightly coloured uniforms. Cerise’s stood out from a great distance.
Indigo looked up when they approached. “Hey,” she said. “Can you tell this lot to stop making such a fuss?”
“Guys, can we have a minute?” Aquamarine asked. She wanted to establish for herself what Indigo was going through, from her own experiences with the Mysterons. Most of the crowd muttered, but moved off. Cerise, Sapphire and Black remained.
“Please?” Aquamarine begged, and they left, grudgingly.
“Rose?” Beige said.
“Rosie?” Lake reiterated, hoping it might reach her on a more basic level.
“Look, sweetie,” Aquamarine said gently, “we have to know if this is the Mysterons’ work.”
“Don’ be ridiculous. S’not the Mysserons.”
Aquamarine looked at Lake and Beige, who both nodded to confirm what she had felt, but had been unwilling to accept - the presence of a Mysteron. Not one who had slipped from control, like them, but one still under the command of her masters.
“I remember you, all of you. When Jessie did that to me, I could sense every member of the Mysterons’ group mind, including you guys.”
The three women nodded. They all remembered Rose from that encounter with the Mysterons, and what she had been put through to reach that level of interaction.
“What about now?” Lake asked. “Can you feel them now?”
Rose squeezed her eyes shut and nodded. Tears slipped out from between her scrunched lids.
“What are they telling you, Rosie? Do they want you to hurt us?”
“N..no, Kelly, I don’t even think they’re meaning to do this. Please, make it stop.”
Cerise tiptoed back to Sapphire and Black and reported what she had heard.
“So, the Mysterons are involved,” Sapphire stated.
Black was thinking hard. “Perhaps it’s just a weak spot in the group mind. All of those girls have been a part of it at some point and perhaps there is a trace of it left in all of them. It may be that Indigo’s mind is different enough to still be on the periphery of the group mind.”
“Is she a danger to anyone?” Sapphire asked.
Black shook his head. “I don’t think so. It’s entirely possible that they’re not even aware of this. Indigo seems to be in control of her actions.”
“For now,” Sapphire said, darkly.
Just how they got back to Cloudbase without Scarlet or Topaz twigging that there was a problem, none of them ever really realised. It had been a very difficult piece of choreography, involving Captain Black managing to arrange the seating on the two helijets so that all of the ex-Mysteron women were on one craft with Indigo, and Scarlet and Topaz on the other. It had been very crafty. And he had had to forfeit his own place with the Mysteron women to make it happen, but it had worked. Somehow. Topaz hadn’t exactly complained at the new arrangements, but Scarlet had been rather insistent that he talk to his daughter on the way up. Black had worked very hard to make sure that the two Metcalfes did not come into contact at all.
On the journey, the three ex-Mysterons worked with Indigo to help her block out the influence of the Mysterons, as they had done some time ago.
The other officers recognised the seriousness of the situation and helped the Captains in keeping the younger women apart from Scarlet and Topaz. However, none of them had taken into account Topaz’s unique abilities.
“You feeling better now, Rose?” Diamond asked as she climbed out of the cockpit after landing her helijet.
“Much, thank you,” the diminutive hybrid replied. She had a spring back in her step and the colour back in her cheeks. She still didn’t seem quite her usual bubbly self, but that was to be expected. She had been through quite an ordeal in the past few hours. The Mysteron presence seemed to have left, but from what had been said earlier, Diamond had deduced that there was always a chance of it coming back - if they ever realised what an asset they had at their disposal.
An excited chatter heralded the arrival of the second group of officers. Indigo, encased in a bubble of other women, missed Topaz’s sharp glare. However, as nothing of that day seemed to have gone to plan, Topaz made her way forward to the huddle of officers. Aquamarine, Lake, Beige and Diamond tightened their circle around Indigo, protecting her from the irate Starjumper.
Topaz narrowed her eyes at the group. “I don’t know what you were thinking, hoping that you could hide something from me,” she hissed at them in plain disgust, “but I was obviously right to distrust you. You thought you could hide a Mysteron agent from me? I know what she is.” With that, Topaz swept ahead of the group and headed off for her quarters.
Cerise came running over, having seen Topaz face the group.
“What did she want?” the pink-clad agent asked, concerned.
“Nothing,” Indigo told Cerise, not wanting to worry her. “I think she’s just mad ‘cause I messed up the chemical ratios in that last bomb. It went off early and got everyone else, as well as Ems.”
Cerise frowned, but didn’t question any further. The girls would tell her when they were ready, which they obviously weren’t at the moment.
Scarlet jumped down from the helijet as soon as he could, and pushed past the milling women to get to his team mates.
“You did it,” he crowed, slapping Beige and Lake on the shoulders, as they were the closest. The two girls were tired, physically as well as mentally, from helping Indigo, and nearly fell over when Scarlet’s large hands collided with their backs.
Lake punched him back, feebly. “No thanks to you, getting yourself shot just after I spoke to you.”
“Ah yes, that reminds me.” Scarlet turned his head slightly to look at his daughter. “Where on Earth did you get the idea for those bombs?”
“Trade secret,” she teased.
“Oh, go on,” he pleaded.
“You won’t like it.”
“It was Colonel Ochre,” Beige blurted out.
Scarlet groaned and put a hand to his head. “I might have known. And what about your jelly pistols, Captain?" he inquired, turning to Cerise.
"Um... Colonel Ochre."
Scarlet sighed. “The man is a menace,” he declared. “He just shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.”
The women exchanged devious glances.
“Y’know, you’re right,” Lake agreed. “We’ve suffered at his hands for far too long.”
“Yeah,” Beige chipped in. “We’ve got to do something about him.”
“But what?” Indigo said, trying to get into the spirit of the occasion, but not quite succeeding.
“I have a pretty good idea,” Scarlet said, his eyes gleaming deviously. “I’ll tell you later. We’ve got a debriefing to get to.”
“Welcome back,” General White announced as the returning troops filed in to the conference room, all looking the worse for wear. Only Captains Black and Sapphire, and Lieutenant Silver appeared to have remained unscathed by the mock battle. All of the other agents were sporting assorted colours of paintball blobs on their special uniforms, or yellow stains caused by the custard he had been told about.
“I’d like to congratulate you all on an excellent match,” White continued, surveying his officers. “Not the outcome I would have preferred, obviously,” the ‘Mysterons’ exchanged glances, “but nevertheless, we now know that the new cameras work effectively, and hopefully, we will be prepared next time.”
“Yeah, coz then we’ll be on your side!” Beige announced, unable to contain herself.
White shot her glance that was half annoyed, half amused. “Quite. Well, I’ll let you all get showered and changed. I’ll expect your reports by 1200 hours by tomorrow. Dismissed.”
The agents filed back out, but three lingered. Aquamarine noticed, and was waved away by Cerise. The intentions of the three captains were clear; they intended to brief White on the situation that had occurred on the surface.
“Why do we have to write reports?” Beige grumbled. “I agreed to play a Mysteron because I thought I’d get away without doing a report.”
“Tough luck,” Lake said, only slightly sympathetically. “We’ve got to assess the effectiveness of the Spectrum defences, I reckon.”
“Hmm? Oh, yeah,” Aquamarine agreed. “Make sure you mention how close we were to getting you. Those cameras were great.”
“Close?” Lake scoffed. “No way!”
“Topaz would have got you, you know,” Aquamarine pointed out. “A Mysteron wouldn’t have known about her eyes.”
“Maybe,” Lake teased.
“You’re very quiet, Indigo,” Aquamarine commented.
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Indigo responded listlessly, before falling silent again. The others stopped their playful bickering.
“I’m worried,” Indigo admitted finally. “I mean, what if they do take control of me? I’d be right here, and no-one would ever know. I could…”
They reached Aquamarine’s quarters, and Lake and Aquamarine quickly pushed Indigo inside.
“I could kill and Mysteronise loads of people before anyone realised,” Indigo continued. They could take over Spectrum from the inside! And it would be me, just there, watching myself do all those things…” She started to cry.
Aquamarine put her arms around the sobbing lieutenant. “Don’t think about it,” she said softly. “It won’t happen. We won’t let them do that to you, right girls?”
“No way!” Lake and Beige shouted spiritedly, causing Indigo to giggle slightly.
“We’ll watch over you,” Lake said, joining the hug.
“Angel,” Indigo said, mockingly, but laughing all the same.
“If you’ll do the same for us,” Beige added, and, not wanting to feel left out, she also joined in with the group hug.
Indigo looked up at the taller girls. “Huh?”
“We’re the same, remember,” Aquamarine prompted her. “We’ve all escaped from the Mysterons too.”
“And we’re all afraid that they’ll take us back some day,” Lake continued.
“Just like you are,” Beige finished off.
“I suppose so,” Indigo said thoughtfully. “I never thought of it like that.” She brushed the remaining tears from her face. “Thanks, guys. You’ve been really great about this.”
“Course we have,” Lake said. “Isn’t that what friends are for?”
The other three girls nodded in agreement.
Scarlet knocked on the door to Colonel Ochre’s office in New York, and was greeted by an affirmative response.
“Hey, buddy,” Ochre greeted him as Scarlet entered. “What can I do for you?”
“I’ve just come for a visit,” Scarlet said amicably. “Wanted to congratulate you on those weapons you invented for the war games.”
Ochre grinned. “I knew those girls would love ‘em,” he commented.
“Yes, the, uh, bombs were certainly effective,” Scarlet noted.
“Yeah, I heard,” Ochre laughed. “Is it true that those girls kicked Spectrum’s ass?”
Scarlet nodded. “We did a good job. The ‘Spectrum’ team nearly won, though.”
“What about the ‘Mysteron’ guns?” Ochre inquired curiously.
“That took me by surprise,” Scarlet commented dryly. “It’s not enough to shoot me with paintballs, but to spray a guy with jelly whilst he’s down…?”
Scarlet was forced to break off when Ochre burst out laughing.
“Anyway,” he continued, when Ochre had calmed down a little, “I was just popping in. I’ve got some business to attend to.”
Ochre nodded. “See ya later, buddy.”
“See you,” Scarlet responded as he reached the door. As he passed through, however, a yellow package was thrown into the room, and the door slammed shut.
“Dammit,” Ochre said before the bomb went off.
Scarlet pushed the door to Ochre’s office open to reveal the commanding officer of Spectrum North America, covered head to toe in custard, in a room covered wall to wall and floor to ceiling in custard.
The congregated officers, including the four ex-Mysteron girls, Captains Cerise and Sapphire and a large number of Ochre’s own officers laughed. They’d all been on the receiving end of one of his practical jokes at one time or another, and they’d finally got him at his own game.
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