2049, 19 years before the War of Nerves began
Mars. The fourth planet away from the Sun that was home to many mysterious creatures, ranging from rock snakes to the unfathomable creatures simply known as the Mysterons. At the moment, in the heart of their complex, they were undergoing a small experiment which involved the newly discovered planet in front of Mars, designated Earth.
“If this experiment succeeds,” the disembodied voice floated around the complex, “Then we will have created a Mysteron in the form of a human being. They will be one of us, not a mere reconstruction, and therefore will have the full powers of the Mysterons. The purpose of this is to create a possible ambassador between the Mysterons and the Earthmen, should our planets ever make contact. However, this Mysteron will be totally independent from the rest of us and shall be born to an Earthwoman as a human baby is born. We shall now commence the experiment.”
Once they had said this, the Mysterons activated their extraordinary powers.
Three months later, in the country on Earth known as England, a twenty-four year old woman stared down at the plastic stick she was clutching in her hand.
“I don’t believe this,” she whispered. “I’m… pregnant?”
2073, 5 years after the War of Nerves began
In Koala Base, Spectrum’s training facility in Australia, Major Stevens looked at the twenty senior cadets standing to attention in front of him.
“When you were eighteen, you signed up to join Spectrum as new recruits. Now, six years later, your training is complete and you are ready to be assigned to Spectrum bases, to which you leave tomorrow. Are you prepared?”
“Sir, yes sir!” the cadets chorused. Stevens smiled slightly.
“Cadet Adams, step forwards.” A tall Canadian boy stepped out from the line. “In training, you have shown that you are a very skilled medic. Therefore, you have been assigned to Spectrum Medical Centre in Paris, which was founded with the help of Doctor Fawn. Congratulations.”
“Thank you, sir,” Adams beamed as he stepped back again.
“Cadet Anderson, step forwards.”
Major Stevens went down the line of senior cadets alphabetically until he reached the penultimate cadet.
“Cadet Williams, step forwards. You have shown a real talent for vehicle maintenance. Therefore, you have been assigned to the Spectrum vehicle factory in Manchester, where most of Spectrum’s main vehicles such as the SPVs and SSCs are worked on. Congratulations.”
As Cadet Williams stepped back, he glanced at the senior cadet next to him. “Looks like I’m off to your home country,” he whispered.
The other senior cadet didn’t reply, however, as Major Stevens was calling their name.
“Cadet Wilson, step forwards.” Cadet Wilson complied. “You have proven that you are an excellent field agent; you are a strong team leader, you can think strategically both on and off the battlefield and can deal with battlefield situations well. Therefore, you have been assigned to Cloudbase. Congratulations.”
Major Stevens gave a smile as all the senior cadets in front of him gasped; he knew that it was every trainee’s dream to be assigned to Spectrum’s famous headquarters and work with renowned members of Spectrum, such as Colonel White, Captain Blue, Lieutenant Green, the Angel pilots and, of course, the legendary Captain Scarlet. It was relatively rare that a senior cadet would be assigned straight to Cloudbase after graduation but it had happened in the past and it was considered a huge honour.
“C-Cloudbase, sir?” Cadet Wilson stammered in disbelief.
“Yes cadet, Cloudbase. An SPJ will pick you up at oh nine hundred tomorrow. The rest of you, your pick up times will be posted outside your dorms this evening. Dismissed.”
“How lucky are you, Selena?” Cadet Susan Brown sighed to her roommate. “You get to go to Cloudbase.”
The other three cadets in their room murmured their agreement. Selena merely offered a small smile; she had always been quiet and relatively removed compared to the rest of the senior cadets.
“You’re going to get a Spectrum codename too,” Susan continued. “I wonder what it will be.”
“Hopefully something that goes with your colouring,” Cadet Saskia Ling added, staring thoughtfully at Selena’s almost unnaturally green eyes and rich caramel coloured hair.
“I don’t think Spectrum chooses the codenames like that,” Selena answered in her soft British accent. “I think they’re randomly chosen. Besides, I don’t think the Mysterons pay much attention to the codenames.” The room fell silent for a moment once she mentioned Spectrum’s Martian foes. Before they had signed up for Spectrum, the only things they knew about the Mysterons were they were an off-world terrorist group but once joining, they learned more about them and their motives and powers.
“You will all be careful, won’t you?” the timid Cadet Martha Robson asked her roommates as they all finished packing the bags they were taking with them. “I mean, we’re all off to different places. I’ve been assigned to Moscow. Susan, you’re off to New York. Saskia, you’re going to Monte Carlo. Tina, you’re leaving for Rio. And Selena… you get to go to Cloudbase.”
Cadet Tina Matthews put her arm around the other senior cadet’s shoulders. “Of course we will Martha,” she promised. “But I’m really gonna miss you guys.”
Saskia and Susan murmured their agreements as they all shared a group hug… all except for Selena who stood by her bunk and closed her suitcase.
The next morning dawned bright and clear. On the runway outside Koala Base, an SPJ come straight from Cloudbase was gleaming in the sunlight. Standing by the base’s open doors were three people; Major Stevens, Captain Grey (who had piloted the SPJ) and Selena Wilson, who was standing between the two officers with her suitcase in her hand.
“Well, Captain Grey, I think we’re all set to go,” Major Stevens said cheerfully. “Am I correct in thinking that Cadet Wilson will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant?”
“Yes, major,” Captain Grey replied. “Colonel White will brief her when we arrive at Cloudbase and she will be given her Spectrum uniform, codename and ID card.”
“Excellent.” Stevens turned to Selena. “Now Ca- my apologies, Lieutenant, on behalf of Koala Base, I wish you the best of luck.”
“Thank you sir,” Selena replied in her quiet voice.
Captain Grey nodded to the Major before leading the new Lieutenant on board the SPJ. The doors closed behind them and once they had taken their seats, the engines roared to life.
Major Stevens raised his hand in farewell from a safe distance as the SPJ shot down the runway and took off towards Cloudbase.
“Colonel White has instructed me what to do when we arrive at Cloudbase in about three minutes,” Captain Grey said to his passenger, who had been silent throughout the whole flight. At this, she turned her vibrant green eyes towards him. Grey took this as a sign that she was listening.
“We will drop your bags off at your quarters before we take you to Doctor Fawn for a quick medical check up. Then we’ll go down to the control room for your briefing from Colonel White. Once that’s finished, you’ll get your uniform and we’ll go down to the photography room so you can get a picture for your ID card. If we see any of the other Captains or the Angels, I’ll point them out to you. Today, you will be allowed to settle in, but tomorrow it’ll be straight to work. That all ok?”
“Yes, Captain Grey,” Selena said softly, tucking a strand of caramel hair behind her ear. Grey gave a smile.
“And there it is,” he said a few moments later.
Selena turned her eyes in the direction he was pointing in.
“Cloudbase,” she murmured as Grey steered the SPJ towards the giant metal structure in the sky.
The microphone on his cap dropped down and his epaulets flashed green. “Request landing clearance,” he spoke into the mic.
“Spectrum is green,” a voice from the other end sounded from it, undoubtedly Lieutenant Green.
As Grey began to prepare to land, Selena allowed herself a small smile at the thought that in less than 24 hours she was going to be working with these people.
Once the SPJ had landed and the two had disembarked, Grey led her along several corridors before stopping outside an open door.
“This is your room,” he said as Selena peered inside. “Each set of quarters has their own input code. Lieutenant Green will help you set one for yours up.”
As Selena brought her bag into the room, Grey’s epaulets flashed white.
“Excuse me,” he said as his cap microphone dropped down. “Yes, Colonel White?”
The part of her quarters that Selena was in appeared to be the recreational section; there were a couple of armchairs, a glass table and a television. To her right, there was a slightly open door showing a bathroom and straight ahead of her was another door leading to a bedroom.
“SIG, sir,” Captain Grey finished his conversation with Colonel White and turned to her. “The colonel says to skip the visit to Doctor Fawn and go straight to the briefing. That ok?”
“Yes, Captain Grey,” Selena said quietly.
She followed him out of her new quarters and down a couple more corridors, passing several more doors in all of them, including the corridor where her room was situated, which evidently lead to the other Cloudbase residents’ rooms. Captain Grey paused when they entered a more spacious corridor with only three doors spread out along it and a fork at the end.
“This is where the doors leading to medical lab,” he pointed to each of the doors in turn, “quarantine room and generator room are. To get to the generator room, you need to take the lift but you don’t need to with the others.”
Selena nodded and Grey led her down the right hand corridor at the fork and up the escalator leading to the control tower before he stopped in an even more spacious corridor with two doors on either end.
“Colonel White said to be at the control room for 10:30 and it’s 10:24 now.” He checked his watch. “We’ve got enough time for me to quickly show you this.” He walked up to the door on the left and pushed it open slightly. “This is the officers’ lounge,” he whispered as Selena peered past him so she could see the interior. “It’s where we hang out when we’re off duty. Those two by the coffee machine are Captain Ochre and Captain Magenta. The two playing chess are Symphony Angel and Captain Blue. The one on the sofa, reading the Japanese novel is Harmony Angel. And that guy in the corner, looking out of the window, is the one and only Captain Scarlet.”
“What about the other Angel pilots?” Selena asked. “We were told during training that there were five of them.”
“There are,” Grey replied. “When they’re off duty, the Angels can either hang out here with us or they can remain in the Amber Room on the far end of Deck E, which is also where they remain when they’re on duty. There is always one pilot stationed in Angel One and another two on-duty down in the Amber Room, ready to be deployed in Angels Two and Three. When we have time, I’m sure one of us will properly show you around Cloudbase.”
Selena’s lips curved up into a small smile. “This is all so surreal,” she said softly. “I mean, I’ve only just graduated from training and I’m going to be working with you lot. You’re practically legends all over the world and especially within Spectrum.”
Grey gave a smile as he quietly closed the door again and began walking down the corridor towards the door that lead to the control room, Selena easily matching his long strides.
“I know it seems surreal at first but trust me, you’ll get used to it,” he reassured her. “Oh look, we’re here.”
The two stopped outside the large metal door on the other end of the corridor. Selena took a deep breath, obviously steeling herself for meeting Spectrum’s Commander-in-Chief. Grey gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze before stepping back again as the door slid open and Selena stepped through on her own; the door closed again behind her.
“That the new recruit?” a voice sounded behind him. Turning, Grey saw Captain Ochre standing there.
“Oh, hey, Rick. Yeah, it is. She’s just gone for a briefing from the colonel,” Grey responded.
Ochre raised his eyebrow. “Jeez. I remember how scary mine was when I first joined.”
“Yeah. I think she’ll be fine, though; they wouldn’t have assigned her straight to Cloudbase if they didn’t think she could handle this sort of thing.”
“Speaking of which…” Ochre lowered his voice and glanced around to check that nobody else was around. “I had a little chat with Seymour earlier. You’ll never guess what colour uniform they’ve given her.”
“What?” Grey frowned. As Ochre leant forwards and whispered in his ear, his eyes grew wide.
“Well, Lieutenant, I believe we’ve covered everything I wanted to.” Colonel White closed the file he was holding, sent to him from Koala Base, and looked at Selena who was seated in front of him. “All that’s left is to give you your uniform and codename. Lieutenant Green?”
Lieutenant Green picked up a large box next to him and handed it to Selena, who smiled her thanks. However, it faded slightly as she lifted the lid off and saw the colour of her uniform.
“Colonel White?” she picked up her new cap which was the unmistakeable colour of black. White raised his hand.
“I know what you’re going to say, Lieutenant,” he said calmly. “And it’s understandable. However, we are hoping that this will not be lost on the Mysterons; that is, one of their own kind, not a reconstruction but an actual Mysteron, is working for Spectrum in the colours of their primary agent.” All the colour drained from Selena’s face.
“How did you know?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
“Major Roberts from Koala Base contacted us,” White said gently. “After we discovered that Mysterons are impervious to x-rays, all members of Spectrum, including cadets, were scanned. You may remember it; it was under the guise of a medical check up. When your results came in, we ran a very thorough background check but found no evidence to imply that you were a reconstruction. Therefore, it was concluded that you are, in fact, one of the Mysterons themselves, but independent from the rest on Mars. And so, you were allowed to continue your training at Koala Base. How did you find out or did you always know?”
“I found out after I had started my training and information about the Mysterons was given to Spectrum cadets,” Selena responded quietly. “Throughout my entire life, I have always felt… different from other people. I guess that’s why as both a child and a teen I never socialised much. Even when I found out I could do all these… things, I kept it to myself, thinking that my surrogate brother would also be able to do them and my surrogate mother would make a fuss over his abilities, given that he was the favourite child after all.”
“Surrogate? That’s an interesting choice of words for your family,” White asked mildly.
Selena regarded him with her vivid green eyes.
“I shared a womb with my brother but we are not related,” she replied flatly. “Elizabeth was always very clear about that.”
“Elizabeth being your surrogate mother?” White clarified.
Selena nodded. “I didn’t resemble her or the man she believed to be my brother’s father; he came from a one night stand so she didn’t really know for sure and he didn’t live with us. When we were both twelve, she had a DNA test done on us both. My brother was proved to be his son but my results were ‘inconclusive’. She didn’t know how she came to bear me; she didn’t know if there was a mix-up at birth or what, given that at the time, we had no idea that the Mysterons even existed. Therefore, she always put out that I was adopted. After all, it would explain why I was so different from them.”
“I see,” White stroked his chin. “And then when you were eighteen, you signed up to Spectrum and then, one year later, the War of Nerves began.”
“Yes,” Selena nodded. “We were informed about the Mysterons and the powers they had revealed to us at the time. It all seemed to add up, so later I went to my dorm while everyone else was in the food hall. I…broke a vase and then was able to reconstruct it.”
“Leading you to conclude that you were one of the Mysterons,” White finished.
Selena bit her lip and looked down. “It didn’t make any sense,” she whispered, almost to herself. “I have no grudge against anyone from Earth but the Mysterons do and I’m one of them. But at the same time, things suddenly did make sense. Like how I was able to do all the things I could do and how, whenever I got angry at either my surrogate mother, brother or someone at school, my voice would always change and I would think of them as ‘Earthman’ or ‘Earthwoman’,” she raised her head again and looked Colonel White directly in the eye. “I never asked to be a Mysteron in a human body but I am. But I’m not like them.”
White nodded gravely. “I believe you, Lieutenant. The Mysterons are waging a War of Nerves and we need to use every means necessary if we are to have any hope of ending it. Everyone in Spectrum puts their all into helping us achieve that goal, no matter their background, abilities or indeed, their species. We will always give them a chance. So therefore…” he stood up and, once Selena had followed suit, presented his hand. Selena placed her own in it and surveyed him with her unnaturally green Mysteron eyes. White gave a smile and continued his sentence:
“Welcome to Spectrum, Lieutenant Onyx.”
When Selena exited the control room, she found Captain Ochre leaning against the wall opposite, clearly waiting for her.
“Captain Grey had to go do some things for Doctor Fawn,” he explained at her questioning look. “But I’m still off duty so I’ve been asked to take you to the photography room for your ID photo and then to the medical bay for your check up. But first, we’re going back to your room so you can change into your new uniform for the photo.”
Selena nodded her understanding and the two set off back down the corridor and took the escalator down to her quarters.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” Ochre said curiously as they passed the lift which led to the generator room.
Selena gave a small smile. “I prefer to listen,” she responded quietly.
Ochre pulled a face. “But listening is so boring,” he complained.
Selena’s smile grew slightly.
“What codename have you been given?” Ochre asked, changing the subject.
Selena looked down at the box containing her uniform that she was carrying under her arm.
“Onyx,” she replied softly.
Ochre raised his eyebrow. “Onyx, huh? Isn’t that a shade of-?”
“Black? Yes, it is,” Selena finished for him calmly.
Ochre rubbed the back of his neck. “You do know that colour is kinda notorious around here, right? I mean, what with Captain Black and all.”
Selena nodded and the duo remained silent until they reached her quarters.
“In you go then,” Ochre began before a mischievous grin formed on his lips. “I won’t look whilst you’re changing, promise.”
Selena rolled her eyes but couldn’t stop a grin from forming on her own lips.
“Captain Grey said that each set of quarters has their own input code?” she asked, remembering what she had been told.
Ochre folded his arms and leant on the wall next to the open door.
“Brad – I mean, Captain Grey, was right. When Lieutenant Green gets off duty, I’m sure he’ll help you set one up.”
Selena nodded her thanks before entering the room. She started towards the bedroom but was stopped in her tracks when Ochre called out again:
“Y’know, you’ve told me what your codename is, but you haven’t told me your real name.”
Selena put her uniform box down before going back to the doorway.
“I’ll tell you my real name, if you tell me yours,” she responded, placing a hand on her hip.
Ochre gave a grin. “Very well, then. Richard Fraser, at your service.” He gave a mock bow, causing a little giggle to slip out from Selena’s mouth. “Course everyone just calls me Rick.”
Selena felt another grin tugging at the corner of her lips.
“Very well then Richard Fraser aka Rick. I’m Selena. Selena Wilson.”
“Enchanté,” Ochre grasped her hand and raised it to his lips.
Selena gave a soft laugh and playfully swatted him away.
“Oh stop with the chivalry and let me change.” She slipped back into her room and picked up her uniform box as Ochre gave a chuckle.
As she entered the bedroom and put the box on the bed, she paused for a moment as she realised what had just happened. Throughout her childhood, she had always been isolated from the other children, partly by them and partly by herself. She could work as well as any of them and had strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others, just like them. But socially, she was distant from everyone else and rarely spoke. Additionally, she lacked the confidence required and therefore, social situations were always a source of unease for her. Working in a team, she could handle slightly better and her time at Koala Base had helped her with that aspect and, to her surprise, when she spoke her team actually listened.
Shaking her head slightly to clear it, she opened her uniform box and pulled the cap, boots, belt, tunic, top and trousers out. Shutting the bedroom door so that Ochre definitely couldn’t see her, she pulled off her old senior cadet dress blues and began putting her new uniform on.
Once she had pulled the boots onto her feet, she placed her cap on her head and exited the bedroom. Captain Ochre was still waiting outside the room when she stepped out of the doorway.
“Let’s go,” said Lieutenant Onyx.
“So has the new lieutenant arrived yet?” Captain Magenta asked his fellow Spectrum officers and Angels, while they were eating their lunch in the food hall. Captain Grey took a sip of the coffee he had with him.
“Yep. We arrived at Cloudbase at about ten past ten this morning,” he replied.
“Ten past ten?” Magenta frowned up at the clock on the wall which read 13:14. “That’s just over three hours ago. Why haven’t we seen her yet?”
“Well don’t forget that between now and then, she’s had to have had her briefing with the colonel,” Captain Scarlet ticked the events off on his fingers. “Received her uniform and changed into it, gone to have the photo for her ID card taken, have a medical check up, go and collect her new ID card and sidearm from Colonel White, and then actually unpack her belongings that she brought with her from Koala Base.”
“True,” Magenta conceded and took a bite of his lunch.
“Brad, you ‘ave met the lieutenant, right?” Destiny Angel leaned forwards in her seat in between Captain Blue and Magenta and looked at Grey.
“I have, why?” he responded.
“Well, what is she like?” Destiny leant back again.
Grey thought for a moment. “Quiet,” he said eventually. “Very quiet. Also quite shy, especially in a social sense. I was talking with one of her commanding officers at Koala Base before we left and he said that although she’s generally alright in team situations, she was almost… afraid of socialising with the other cadets in her regiment.”
“La pauvre fille,” Destiny sighed in sympathy. “She really must be shy. We must do our best to make ‘er feel welcome ‘ere.”
There was a murmuring of consent as the door slid open and Lieutenant Green entered.
“Hey, Seymour,” Blue called to him. Green raised his hand in greeting as he grabbed a plate off the counter and came to sit down by them.
“We’ve just been talking about the new lieutenant,” Magenta informed him. “Heh, now you’re not the only one.” Green rolled his eyes slightly but gave a grin nonetheless.
“Seymour,” Grey took another sip of his coffee, “is it true that the colour of her uniform is…?”
“Black?” Green finished for him. “Yes. The codename that she has been given is Onyx.”
“Oh! J’adore onyxes.” Destiny’s eyes took on a dreamy expression. “Maman used to ‘ave an onyx necklace with matching earrings. When I was a petite fille, I used to love trying it on.”
“They’re certainly gorgeous gems,” Melody Angel agreed with her as Symphony gave a sigh of longing.
“I wonder why the colonel gave her that codename,” Blue mused thoughtfully, stroking his chin.
Scarlet shrugged. “I don’t think that there is a specific reason for which codename is given to which member of Spectrum,” he theorised. Blue nodded in agreement.
“Where is Lieutenant Onyx?” Magenta asked.
“Last I heard, Captain Ochre was giving her a full tour of Cloudbase,” Green replied.
“Poor her,” Melody sighed.
The door slid open again and Captain Ochre and Lieutenant Onyx entered the food hall. The new lieutenant was wearing her uniform and her caramel hair was hanging loose beneath her cap.
“Well I see the lieutenant hasn’t run away from you yet, Rick,” Magenta teased his best friend.
Ochre scowled at him as he removed his cap and grabbed a sandwich.
“Ha ha,” he retorted sarcastically as everyone else chuckled and Onyx hid a smile. “I’ll have you know that Lieutenant Onyx here has been experiencing what is known as the ‘Fraser Charm’.”
“The ‘Fraser Charm’? My god, Rick, what have you been doing to the poor girl?” Melody stated in mock horror.
Ochre glowered at her before turning to Onyx.
“See what I have to put up with?” he waved his hand at the room and its occupants.
“I’m sure you deserve it,” Onyx replied mildly, causing Magenta to give a snort of laughter into his drink.
“This girl is my new best friend,” Melody declared, getting up and steering Onyx away from the indignant Ochre and next to where she was sitting.
“Spend my time showing her around Cloudbase and this is how she repays me,” Ochre grumbled, sitting down next to Magenta and sending Onyx a small wink to show he was only kidding.
“So, Lieutenant…” Scarlet leaned forwards. “Am I right in thinking that in Koala Base, after the senior cadets have completed the final part of their training, they are divided into three or four groups and these groups then help the commanding officers and Colonel White decide which Spectrum Base the senior cadet is going to be assigned to?”
“Yes, Captain Scarlet,” Onyx replied. “In my regiment, there were four groups. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less. It all depends on the cadets in the regiment and where their strengths lie.”
“And what were the groups in your regiment?” Grey asked.
“Field agents, medics, engineers and mechanics and programmers.” Onyx absently twirled a strand of her hair around her finger. “The better you were at your career, I guess you could call it, the more important the base you were assigned to.”
“I remember these groups now you talk about them.” Blue smiled at her. “During my training, I couldn’t stand the first aid part of it. We all have to have some experience with all of the parts of the training by the time we graduate, but that doesn’t mean we had to like it.”
“I hear you,” Ochre closed his eyes and groaned. “Me and mechanics do not get on. That’s why I get Pat to do all of that crap.”
“And don’t I know it,” Magenta grumbled.
“Obviously, the Angels received different training from you lot,” Melody added, as Destiny got up and excused herself for her shift in Angel One. “But during that, I really did not enjoy the crash landing practice. Obviously, it’s pretty vital for a fighter pilot but it was not fun at all, especially the part where we had to go into the simulator.”
“My least favourite part of training was the computing part,” Onyx said and Scarlet and Grey murmured their agreement.
“Oh come on, computing is not that bad,” Green protested.
“Maybe not for you, Seymour, but the rest of us – except for Magenta of course, aren’t computer geniuses like you,” Grey pointed out.
Green was about to reply, but at that moment, the clock on the wall chimed quarter to two.
Magenta sighed. “C’mon guys, break’s over.” he got up as everyone else followed suit. “Back to work.”
The group put their empty plates and cups on the conveyer belt that lead to the kitchen cleaning machine and traipsed out of the room, bidding the others goodbye before going off to their point of work. Captain Scarlet paused as he walked past Lieutenant Onyx.
“Well, welcome to Spectrum, Lieutenant,” he said to her. “I think you’re going to fit in just fine around here.”
At this statement, Onyx mentally relaxed. This might actually work, she thought and had to stop a huge smile from spreading across her face.
“Thank you, Captain,” she replied softly. “I think I actually might.”