In the 24 hours following the explosion, national television and radio news channels carried the story of the tragic accident that had resulted in the deaths of nine residents and the tanker driver.
It was all very sad, but at first there was nothing in the reports to concern Spectrum. Then two days later another report was relayed from a police station on the outskirts of London.
Colonel White, seated at his desk in Cloudbase’s central control room, nodded to his operations officer, “Read the last paragraph again, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Green consulted the computer printout in front of him and found the relevant section.
“Mrs Williams was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the man she saw in Nettleworth Village was her husband and when we explained that she must be mistaken, she became hysterical, saying that she’d know him anywhere and that it was definitely him”.
“Thank you, Green”, Colonel White replied. He looked at Captains Scarlet and Blue seated on the far side of the desk.
Captain Blue rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Could it be a simple case of shock, Sir? Maybe she couldn’t accept her husband had died in that accident and convinced herself she saw him alive?”
“It’s a common enough occurrence when there’s been a tragic loss, Colonel,” Scarlet added, with a note of genuine sympathy.
“Maybe”, Colonel White replied, “But that’s only part of the picture.” He clasped his hands in front of him and Scarlet and Blue recognised the sign that whatever the Colonel was about to say was dire.
“There have been three other reports from witnesses who claim to have seen people who died in the same accident. Only one of them was related to the victim. The others were colleagues. I could accept one instance as a natural shock reaction and two as a stretch of coincidence. But not four, gentlemen. Not four.”
Scarlet and Blue exchanged concerned looks.
“So it could be that the supposed accident was the work of the Mysterons?” Blue asked.
“And that there are now ten Mysteron agents at large somewhere in England?” Scarlet queried.
“I feel certain of the former, Captain,” Colonel White replied, “But we know at least one of the potential Mysteron agents is no longer in England. He was spotted at London Airport boarding a flight to Athens.”
“This is something new, Colonel,” Blue ventured, “The Mysterons don’t usually operate with more than three or four agents at once.”
“Yes, Captain,” the Colonel nodded, “It could mean that they are planning an attack larger than any we’ve known to date. It’s equally possible they could be planning to strike several targets at once, though I am forced to admit this also breaks from their modus operandi.”
“Or it might be nothing more than an elaborate smokescreen designed to confuse us,” Scarlet finished.
“Right,” Colonel White agreed, “But until we can narrow down the possibilities, I’m putting all of our field agents on red alert. Major Saffron and Lieutenant Cyan are already approaching Athens with orders to track down the potential Mysteron agent there. Full descriptions of all of the accident victims have been passed to law enforcement agencies and all reports are to be relayed to Spectrum on omega priority. Any lead, however slight, could prove vital.”
“What’s our assignment, Colonel?” Blue asked.
“You and Captain Scarlet will leave for the scene of the accident immediately. I want every inch of that site double checked.”
Less than two hours later, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue were speeding along the twisting narrow roads in the heart of the English countryside in their Spectrum Saloon.
“There it is ahead,” Blue said, “Boy, just look at it.”
The bright red car pulled up near the scene of devastation. The road had been closed and traffic diverted several miles further along. As the two men exited the vehicle, they saw a police investigation team hard at work, but there was no one else in sight.
Scarlet flashed his credentials and the officer in charge ushered them through the cordon.
Blue looked around the charred wreckage where the small group of homes had once stood, “They wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said quietly.
He turned to Scarlet and suddenly checked. Scarlet was clutching his hand to his forehead and swaying slightly, “Captain Scarlet! What’s wrong?”
Scarlet’s breath came in short gasps as he replied, “We’re in danger, Adam… There’s a Mysteron here!”
TO BE CONTINUED…