Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Insert The Original Indestructible Captain Here (part 1 of 5)

The agent slept, watched by a pair of yellow eyes. Dave tossed and turned as the eyes came cautiously closer to him, noting every bead of sweat on his face. As he dreamt...

Dave ran down the corridor as the alarm bells rang. How and why were questions that his mind shunted to one side for the time being. The facts were thus:

The Sues had broken free from the basement.

They had overwhelmed those sent to stop them.

They were heading for the portal control room.

Tash was shouting orders to agents with such venom that Dave half expected her to grow fangs and start spitting gobs of green mucus at them.

"Drake! Get to the armoury and dish out weapons. Tyler! Prepare your biggest and nastiest explosives. All right everyone..." Tash turned, and Dave was horrified to see her eyes had turned red and feral, like some wild bird's. "...this is it! Earlier than we planned, but in some ways, long overdue!"

Dave glanced around at the rest of the society agents. They were standing around with looks approaching feral lust on their faces, and he felt a shiver go down his spine as Tash completed her order.

"Kill them all!"

The door to the control room opened. It was packed to the stone vaulted roof with Sues and Stus, all trying desperately to get to a door on a stone pedestal some 100 metres away marked "Way Out". They were pushing and shoving each other in panic and doing nothing other than getting in each others way in the Melee.

At the sight of the society agents they redoubled their efforts, but Michael led a charge into the thick of them, Claire at his side, and blood flowed wherever they walked. Tom, one of the newer agents, was hacking and slashing away at a nearby Sue with obvious relish, and administered a spectacular Coup de gras that split her from top to bottom.

"Exterminate!" he cried, in a voice that sounded more like Nicholas Briggs than his own, "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

Aster responded with a peel of demented laughter, flying over the fracas raining icicles indiscriminately. Chrys jumped on one as it went through the top of a Stu's head, causing a mess that is far too graphic to describe in a T rated fic.

"We're pushing it as it is..." Dave muttered, failing to notice the lack of fourth wall breaking that would have given him a clue that this wasn't all it seemed.

"PUSH HARDER!" screeched Valerie, laying into another Stu, inflicting damage that kept him alive as long as possible, savouring every tortured scream that left his mouth. Ben pinned Lilly against a column, and whispered that she had served her purpose. A Nuke descended, and Dave turned away, horrified.

There was a scream to his left, and Dave turned. Harriet was standing over Emily, a sword reminiscent of Excalibur in her hands.

The way was clear. At least one might survive...

Dave was at their side in a matter of picoseconds. His hands found Harriet's wrists, and wrenched her backwards. Harriet staggered, but regained her balance quickly. A sudden silence fell. It seemed everyone had witnessed this.

"Traitor, Traitor." The chant was taken up by those next to Harriet, until they were all closing in around him. This was a good moment to discover that there was a door behind him, and sure enough, there was!

Closing and locking it behind him, Dave found himself in a new corridor.

"Why...?" said a vague and insubstantial voice.

The door began to splinter and crack under the agent's assault. Dave ran, throwing panicked glances over his shoulder, until he found another door.

A smothering red sky was cast over his head like a blanket. He was in a familiar car park. Where was this hotel exactly, Nether Wallop? It didn't really matter, as Mary-Ann Twilight stood before him.

"You're not real..."

"Am I?" she snarled, launching herself forwards, hoisting him off the ground by the neck. "Is that why you authors pester us? Because we're not real? Because we don't feel things, so you can just murder us willy-nilly if we don't meet your perverted ideas of perfection?"

"Red... Intimidation... tactics..." Dave gasped, "No power... in real world..." Something was wrong. This shouldn't be me! This didn't happen like this! He thought.

"This world is real to you, but our world is real to us. We can really hurt, bleed, die. You started this war! We won't let you destroy us!"

She gasped and fell forwards as Tash's sword emerged from her chest. Dave backed away as his friend threw the corpse away with an air of weary disdain, and found a car behind him. When had Mary-Ann let him go?

"Why...?" The voice persisted.

Driving now. Towards a shaft of red light, emanating from Stonehenge. Driving the car.

A shower of silver meteors slammed into the landscape around him, forcing Dave to swerve violently around on the road. He rounded a corner...

"Why did you abandon us?" Came the voice again.

"I didn't I- AAAAAHHHH!" The blue side of an Argos delivery lorry loomed out of the otherwise black scenery.

Five seconds to impact...


Three... The air-bag detonated in his face. A pair of Yellow eyes came towards him like oncoming headlights.


The eyes jumped back out of range as Dave sat up in bed. It took him a second of paralysed staring to realise that they belonged to his Luxray.

When Dave had first started playing Pokemon Platinum, he had Evangelion on his mind for some reason, and had somehow decided that a good name for a male Shinx would be Shinji. So when he had ended up with a female one, he hadn't thought much beyond "Hmmm, Shinji = male, female = Asuka", completely forgetting that Rei would be a good name for a female Luxray. Fortunately, she did not take after her namesake in temperament, and was in fact quite motherly in her concern.

Asuka tried to approach again, but whatever Dave had dreamt of had exhausted him to the point that he fell back onto his bed, utterly sparked out. Ignoring the author's bad (and unintentional, honest guv!) pun, the electric Pokemon tucked him in as best she could.

"Knock it off, Aster! It's two in the morning!" came Adrian's voice from far off, as the fourth wall shook.

Asuka was tempted to lay down next to him, but given that she still smelt of Full Restore and charred fur from a recent battle with Tash's Typhlosion, she decided this would be far from comforting, and curled up on the rug in the middle of the room.

That's the third night in a row he's had nightmares. She thought to herself. He'll never talk about it, if he even remembers, so I guess I'll have to try and get Valerie to take a look at him. Problem is, I don't know if her empathy works on Pokemon...

Casting a final look at her sleeping trainer, the Luxray settled down to get some sleep herself. She'd worry about the language barrier in the morning.


The man sat a console; a sheet of paper, connected to a broadcasting array of fantastic complexity in front of him. He took his hand from where it had rested on the paper and closed his eyes. The psychic shock was getting worse every time he did this, but on the positive side, it looked like being the last time he would have to.

A plothole opened behind him, and two women stepped out, carrying shoulder bags full of small test tubes and nursing several small injuries, already mostly healed.

"Another successful mission ladies?" he called out, shadows dropping over his face as he did so, hiding it from view. Mesha Alicia Maria Susan Maylene Violet Abigail Yana brushed her long purple hair out of her eyes before she answered.

"Yep," she replied. "We've got everything you wanted on that shopping list of yours."

Her companion held a tube up to the light. A single hair, as red as her own, glinted inside it. "She was a difficult one to get. Almost blasted me across the horizon!"

The man frowned. "I hope you wiped her memories afterwards Romani. The last thing we want at this stage is the society realising that something is up."

"We're perfect, remember?" Mesha replied, "Of course we remembered!" The man sighed, as Romani glowered behind Mesha's back. This was the downside of working with Mary-Sues...

"Fine then. Mesha, get to work on setting up for Phase Three. Romani, I need you to do a little play acting for me... Yes captain? What is it?"

A man wearing a black uniform with the Anti Cliché and Mary Sue Elimination Society logo in full view on the front stood at the door, looking vacant. He opened his mouth and stood like that for a few seconds before speaking, as if he was struggling to remember why he had come in.

"Another one." he said simply.

"How many is that now?"

Again, the pause before speaking, as if thinking was something that needed to be done in its own space. "Ten."

"Excellent! That's enough. Give me your Prohibitor detector glove and report to your station."

The soldier paused, only now registering the fact that he was wearing an orange glove with a small view-screen attached to the wrist area. Then he took it off, presented it to the man in the shadows and left.

"As I was saying..." The man went on, "Phase Two is now in your hands Romani. So listen carefully..."


The Next Day...

Dave crouched low in the tunnel. A group of Sues had broken parole, gone on the run, and three of them had appeared here only a few minutes ago. He, Drake and Ingrid had been sent in after them. He wasn't even sure which fandom they were in, or even how dangerous they were. And he was half asleep to boot...

They weren't so dangerous to look at. Two blonde twins, huddled pathetically in a corner of the three-way tunnel intersection, trying to keep warm. A red haired woman in a white dress pacing nervously back and forth, and a girl in her early teens, with strange purple-black coloured hair that looked like the deepest Twilight.

It was the red-head that no-one could explain. She had come from seemingly nowhere and coerced the Sues to follow her into plotholes. It seemed that ten others, once presented with an opportunity to return to their old ways, had jumped at it with both feet.

At least that was what appeared to have happened...

Dave was reminded of Mesha, his first arrest. She had seemed to be co-operative and pleasant, and his instincts had told him to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was now at large again, and more powerful than before, thankfully none the wiser for her espionage mission in the library. A triumph of hope and naivety over experience.

Despite this, Dave's instincts now told him that something didn't feel quite right about the woman, and he couldn't help but agree...

Rhia's abduction and staged death had highlighted the fact that things were not always as they seemed.

He moved in for a closer look, and dislodged a small stone. The Red-haired woman reacted instantly, drawing a gun and pointing it down the tunnel at the agent. The rest jumped, and tried to get behind her, as if for protection.

"STAY THERE!" she shouted, "or I'll..." She abruptly realised she had already fired the gun as she jumped. Dave examined the chip of stone that the bullet had broken off not far from his head, and decided that, on balance, he had better do just that.

Would a perfect being like a Mary-Sue start like that? He thought. Mesha did, but her powers were absent at the time... Still, task at hand.

"No worries..." he said, aiming for an unflappable tone, and missing by a mile. "...I'm comfortable where I am..."

"Don'tletimgetus, Don'tletimgetus, Don'tletimgetus," one of the twins mumbled.

"Don't play funny man with me!" the woman responded. "I won't let you take them back to that dungeon of yours!"

"Back?" Dave replied, sticking half of his head out from behind the rock wall. "They weren't in there to begin with! Wasn't that the point of them choosing parole?" Dave's left eye was quite short-sighted, and the view he had of the red-haired woman was blurred. He wished he had brought his glasses with him, even if there was the risk they'd be damaged.

"You've got guts at least." The dark-haired girl put in, starting forward. "Are the three of us "desperate criminals" too much for those faceless mooks in black to deal with?"

"Alira..." the woman muttered, as the twins continued to sob into each other's shoulders. "Stay back..."

"There's only one of him! Lets get him before the rest of his execution squad catches up!"

"Wha..." Dave realised he was losing the initiative, and decided to take a calculated risk. He stood up and came out into full view.

"Okay. First question; Who are you? Second question; Why should we consider you desperate criminals?" He was standing as straight up as the tunnel would allow, waving his arms around for effect. The woman almost fired, but since she could see he wasn't holding a weapon, she held off. "Thirdly; What do you mean execution squad? Fourth; If you're perfect Mary-Sues, then why are you starting and panicking like this? Fifth; Why am I standing here doing a spiel worthy of the Doctor?"

It was fair to say that he had got in firmly under their guard. Alira and the woman with the gun just stood there gaping, one of the twins actually laughed uncertainly.

"A question I think we all want the answer to is; What in the world is going on here?" Dave finished, slightly surprised with himself.

Alira's eyes narrowed slightly. She clearly wasn't sure whether to trust him or not. The woman with the gun lowered it slightly, but still kept him covered all the same.

"I don't remember you from that fortress..." she said, quietly.

"Explain..." Dave was intrigued now. Fortress might mean, space-ship. If the PCMSPS were still around, that could be trouble...

A light flared in the corner of his left eye, and a small grey object fell to earth close to Alira's foot. She opened her mouth in the beginnings of a scream.


The world went white.


"We can account for three of them, but the gun woman got away." Ingrid reported. Dave suddenly became aware of where he was, sat up sharply, and was rewarded with a short burst of dancing penguins before he regained conciousness for the second time.

"Welcome back." Michael said, standing over him. They were still in the portal room. Valerie, Michael and Aimee stood next to were he was lying, and Ingrid and Drake were carrying several ominous looking bags away from where the portal materialised.

Body Bags. Three of them.

White-hot fury gripped him, making Valerie jump. He stood, willing himself to disregard the thumping pain in his head.

"Umm... Dave?" Valerie queried. Dave took several steps forward, towards where Drake and Ingrid were standing.

"Dave?" Aimee muttered, uncertainly. His axe expanded to its full size as he drew closer. Ingrid looked up from what she was doing. Michael abruptly realised what Dave was doing.

"Drake! Heads..."


Drake's head rang like a bell in his helmet as the back of Dave's axe connected with it.


All activity ceased. Tash hesitantly put her head round a door, recognising the voice, but unable to correlate it with its volume and the sheer fury it carried. Dave was willing himself not to feel the vibrations caused by the impact, despite the fact that his arm was shaking with them, and his face was screwed up with discomfort.

Drake staggered, pulled off his helmet and blinked at Dave, his ears still ringing. "Wha..."


"Who... Which?" But it was too late. Dave had already turned on his heel and was storming out of another door.

"I didn't join this party to end up being part of a final solution!" The words were less explosive, but were dripping with venom. The slamming door made everyone jump. For an infinite second, no-one spoke. This was seriously out of character for Dave.

Tash was reminded of something Adrian had said, months before...

"Some people take pressure and frustration and bottle it up inside them until they can't take any more. He's so quiet normally, and from what he wrote on his entrance exam he seems to be very principled... I just can't help but get the feeling that when he does erupt...I hope its a Sue in the firing line and not an agent."

"What was all that about?" Drake said, finally recovering enough to respond.


Romani staggered into the room, clasping a wound that was staining her white dress red. The man in the shadows reached out and placed his hand on her waist, muttering something as he did so. She sighed as the pain faded away.

"Haaaaaa. That's better... Did it work?"

The man grinned. "He probably burst several ear drums in the library, and the empathic feedback almost had me smashing everything within reach."

"Brilliant!" She replied. "Does that mean we'll finally be rid of Mesha?" The man frowned.

"We needed to keep her on a tight leash Romani, you know as well as I do what she's capable of. This way we've kept her under control, and she's served our purposes as well."

"I know, I just don't like pretending to be a Mary-Sue for her sake..." Romani said, looking down at a thick bracelet on her left wrist sadly.

The man patted her arm. "This will be her last mission for us, one way or another. Don't fret."


Mesha stood on a rocky promontory. Mars was traditionally called the red planet, but due to reasons the author knows nothing of, the rocks were grey. (Probably budget constraints at Century 21, but no matter)

There was no mistaking her destination. A futuristic city on the Martian surface, or at least, what was perceived as futuristic in the late sixties. It was slightly blurred in front of her eyes, giving an impression of the fantastic technologies used to power it. She stood where others had, a few years before, set this fandom in motion.

Captain Black had fired upon the city, mistaking scanning devices for weapon emplacements. The Mysterons had immediately reconstructed it with their power over matter, and took great offence at this. The whole series was a catalogue of their attempts to exact retribution for the attack. Another time, she might have tried to change this event itself, but she had bigger fish to fry.

"Mysterons Hear Me!" She called. Her voice was unaffected by the different composition of the Martian atmosphere. She wasn't even wearing a space-suit! "I come to speak with you."

A device that looked like a ray gun with six barrels turned towards her. Knowing its true nature, she stood her ground as it bathed her with a blue light.

This is the Voice of the Mysterons. Your outward appearance suggests that you are one of the Earthmen... And yet... Your vestigial second heart, and the fact you stand before us unencumbered by the technologies of Earth marks you out as something more...

"I was created by Earthmen, farther from here than you can conceive, and yet, I am persecuted by those who envy me. Such is the fate of my kind."

That is not the concern of the Mysterons! Retribution for the unprovoked attack upon the city that stands before you by the Earthmen is our sole endeavour.

"Retribution is my goal also. Which is why I propose an alliance between us."

The psychic voice was silent for a moment, as if thinking over her words. Mesha was tempted to apply her powers at this point, but held off. Doing this the hard way would go some way towards mitigating the society's copyrights.

We guarantee... only to listen...

Mesha smiled. The society were in for a surprise...


Michael and Tash reached Dave's door. They had given him overnight to calm down, but they were still wary. According to Phoenixia, Dave had run into Emily almost immediately after storming out, which had forced him to cool off pretty quickly. But whatever new gadget she wanted him to field test for her didn't seem to have helped his mood, as a black cloud of self-anger and despondency had appeared over his head as soon as she had left and followed him to his room, where he had remained ever since.

Tash knocked, careful not to knock four times. Reminding him of that wouldn't help...

"Come in."

Dave's room was fairly Spartan, the only poster being a poster of the Mappa Mundi. The man himself was sitting at his desk, a pile of paperwork sat to one side, obviously completed in the intervening time. Beside it, a selection of application forms. Apparently, the job hunting wasn't going well...

"My report." he said, handing it to Michael. He obviously felt awkward, and the two leaders became concious of the grey hairs on his head, although whether these were due to working in the society, or had always been there they didn't know.

"Are you trying to turn this story serious?" Michael asked, "'cause you've got a fight on your hands if you are."

Dave's expression changed as a rumble echoed through the library, followed by a less than delighted exclamation from Adrian. Far from cheering him up, it seemed that Michael's fourth wall breaking had had the opposite effect.

"I don't see how it can be anything but serious." he almost snapped. "And to be honest, it surprises me that you don't see that!"

"Dave, calm down." Tash put in. "If there's a problem, then we can't solve it if we don't know what it is."

Dave sighed. "Sorry, its just that if the society has been fighting Sues for over two years, then..." he paused. "...maybe talking to them is just a little overdue. And it-"

"What makes you think we haven't tried?" Michael interrupted, perhaps sounding more defensive than he intended.

"The fact they think the society motto is "Exterminate, Exter..."" Dave stopped himself, "I Will Not Fall Out With Anyone Else!" he muttered, half to himself. It was a few moments before he spoke again.

"There was more going on than we first suspected. If Drake hadn't thrown his grenade, then those three might have been able to tell us something about it. Its all in my report, but-"

Michael's communicator went off.

"We've found the gun woman." Claire reported. "She's inserted herself into the Captain Scarlet fandom under the name of Captain Burgundy."

"Old or new?" Dave asked, perking up slightly.

"What's the difference?" Tash asked in turn.

"One has 'new' in the title."

Claire apparently overheard this, as she told them that it was the older series. Michael got a word in at this point, and asked her the Sue's level. Dave frowned and opened his mouth to speak.

"Hang on baby, her Suergy is fluctuating a bit. Give me a second..." Claire replied.

Dave closed his mouth again. "Okay, she is a Sue then..."

"Was that ever in doubt?" Michael asked.

"It was in my mind."

"You know the fandom then?" Tash interrupted, before either of her friends did anything they might later regret. Dave nodded.

"Sure you're up to it?"

"I think so. If tunnels are involved, I'll take a hard hat this time."

Michael thought for a moment. Claire had just told him that the Sue couldn't be more than level two, so it was likely to be a successful mission whoever went, and Dave obviously knew the fandom. Perhaps that was what he needed to restore his self-confidence.

"Okay, go bring her in."

Dave stared at him for a moment. "I will take the most appropriate action for the situation. Since I'm not sure what the situation is yet, I'll have to find that out first." He left, leaving Tash and Michael slightly taken aback.


"Is he normally like that?" Michael asked. Tash shook her head.

"No. Well, at least not that I've ever seen." she looked over to the monitoring screen displaying the fandom, where Dave had yet to materialise. "He's quiet, and keeps to himself mostly."

"Come to think of it..." Claire added, turning in her chair. "The only cheep I've heard out of him since... well, Stonehenge, has either been a pun, or a cry for help as Shirley chased him!"

"He wasn't at Stonehenge." said Michael, thoughtfully. Claire and Tash looked at him.

"Wasn't he?" Claire asked, "I suppose I lost track of him..."

Michael thought. In his mind's eye, he was at the hotel in real life. He saw Dave about to get into a car, stop, look at a white road sign bordered in red, and smile the devil's own smile.

"I've got an idea. I'll meet you at Stonehenge!"

"He ran off after that, in the opposite direction to us." Michael went on. "Next time I saw him was back in the library." he paused. "He was walking with a limp if I recall..."

Tash frowned. "You didn't query it?"

"I did later. He said he was going to borrow a Tank from a military base to help us out, but he couldn't find one in time."

Claire grinned. "That might have been useful." Michael looked at Tash.

"Well he sounded pretty defensive when he said it, almost the same tone his report is written in..."

"Dave's been under quite a bit of stress recently." Tash replied, sticking up for her friend. "He's been through everything we have in the last year or so, he's had a lot of real-life concerns as well, and I know for a fact he still feels guilty about Mesha."

"Plus he's visibly uncomfortable around Adrian since he got back..." Michael added. "Any ideas why that is?"

Tash shook her head. "Adrian was going to ask, but he hasn't had the chance yet. It's like he's been avoiding us..."

"I noticed that. Maybe he needs to talk to Val." Claire suggested.

"Maybe..." Michael conceded, "I'll ask her to speak to him when he gets back. Assuming of course he ever arrives..."

"Here he is now." Claire said. "Stu readings are... Higher than normal, but acceptable, just..."

"Okay, I've got another question." Tash added, "Where did he get that Land Rover?"


Her name was Martha.

Designed for a Primeval fic Dave had later abandoned as unworkable, she had been in storage for close to two years. A lot of her gadgets had been removed so she didn't stand out as much any more. Only the anomaly mapping database system that was the source of her name remained. The synthesised voice that had come as standard with the Sat-Nav system the device was based on had sounded, to her initial owner that Dave hadn't bothered to create, like Freema Ageyman, alias Martha Jones.

She was a bog-standard long-wheelbase Land Rover. White, with the words "Time Commander" written on the driver's door in blue. Since appearing out of thin air would look suspicious, Dave had elected to use her, but she was currently being annoying.

"Please rejoin the nearest main road."

"Shut up."

Dave felt guilty. He hadn't meant to lose control like he had the day before, and he didn't think he had improved matters by being defensive with Michael and Tash. They had more experience at this, for all they were younger than him, they most likely knew what they were doing.

Why does it matter that they're younger than me? Am I actually that jealous? He thought. Why?

He sighed. He knew the answer to that one, or to be strictly accurate, answers.

One. Michael and Claire, Tash and Adrian (living proof of Love stronger than Death, that one). Dave and... No one. Okay, so he'd been flirted with before, but he was a real novice at this game, and certainly didn't have the courage to show feelings like that, even if he was head over heels for someone.

Two. Dave had always regarded himself as the responsible adult of the society, which was related to the reason he had joined in the first place. He hadn't done very well from that point of view...

Three. The others were capable of lightening up once in a while, and he took things very seriously. This wasn't so much a problem in itself, but most of his attempts to try and change this state of affairs seemed to have ended up with him in the medical wing, or suspended from the LPGB's copters, and occasionally missing vital organs.

Dave was faintly surprised by the surge of anger that accompanied this thought. Shirley was only doing her job, namely driving out stale clichés. Given that this was part of the society's remit as well meant that he had little cause to be angry with her. So why did he feel like this?

Well she could be a little less of a bullying little overblown-

"You are in the Pacific Ocean. Please rejoin the nearest main road."

Dave swiftly came back to reality. He had enough to worry about, what with the fact he now needed glasses to drive, and he had never driven Martha himself before. Then there were the eccentricities of this fandom, created by the fact that the comic strips that appeared in the Century 21 comic were treated as part of the canon, by decree of Gerry Anderson himself, even if the TV episodes never mentioned the events therein. This made it easy for the unwary to be caught off guard.

I am not unwary. I Am Not Weak! I need to be strong now, more than ever. For all we know those self-appointed-

Martha juddered, and Dave realised he was trying to change gear with the wrong one of the Land Rover's gear levers. Again, the emotion was beginning to run away with him. Concentrate on the task at hand! He thought.

Despite the fact that the only female Spectrum agents in this series were the Angel fighter pilots, the Sue that called herself Captain Burgundy had become Spectrum's best agent in a meteoric rise to prominence that had left the indestructible Captain Scarlet himself by the wayside. She was leading a team of agents into a mine near Craigsville Nevada that was somehow vital to Spectrum's interests in the war against the Mysterons. Mining some kind of Maguffin probably...

"Please turn left in one hundred yards for Algiers."

"Shut up, Martha..."


Michael looked up from Drake and Ingrid's reports on their latest mission. The people in question were seated in his office.

"Right, these are mostly in order, but there is a minor discrepancy that I think we should sort out." he said.

"If it's about Dave," Drake began, "then he's an ungrateful little-"

"It isn't, and I'm dealing with that." Michael put in. Drake snorted.

"Fine, but Dave should remember that I'm the reason he got out of the tunnels with just a bump on the head after that Sue's grenade went off!"

"I thought Dave threw it." Ingrid put in, curiously. Drake looked at her.

"And Dave was under the impression," Michael added, "perhaps brought on by the aforementioned bump on the head, that you had thrown it. That is why we're here."

Drake blinked. "Well, that explains a lot." he said, slightly mollified. "But I didn't have any grenades with me."

"She couldn't have thrown it either." Ingrid added. "I had my eyes on both her hands. It seemed to come out of the tunnel that Dave was hiding in..."

"It wasn't either of you then." Michael concluded. "Okay, well that sorts part of this out. Thank you."

"But who did throw it?" Drake asked.

"I've got Phoenixia working on that..." Michael began, just as the Ex-hologram breezed into the room, dressed in a Strapless dress that left little of her figure to the imagination. "Speak of the devil..."

"Maybe another time, when Clairey's around..." Phoenixia said, in the most serious voice he had ever heard her use. Then he saw her expression, and the fact that Valerie was with her, and became worried.


"So you're with the U.S.S, Mr...Smith?" Captain Buff asked, slightly suspiciously. He had every reason to be suspicious. Dave was barely concealing his sniggers at the unfortunate man's code name. An eleventh hour promotion from Lieutenant before the comic strip he had appeared in was published had failed to render it any less amusing. Dave pretended to suffer a coughing fit from the dust in the mine workings, and slipped back into the demeanour of a Universal Secret Service agent.

"Sorry about that. Yes Captain, I am." He said, "And I'm sorry to say that I'm here on a matter of utmost delicacy. I have to speak to the ranking officers immediately."

Buff looked at the I.D card, generated by Phoenixia at Dave's request, decided that it was in order, and handed it back to him. "We have orders to maintain a radio silence with Captain Burgundy... But Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue are here somewhere."

"That suits me just fine."

Dave walked behind the Indian agent, through the mine dedicated to Spectrum's Maguffin.

He was led to a ramshackle building that had been commandeered as a Spectrum command post, and introduced to the two men. As he shook hands with Captain Blue, he noted the agent's eyes go slightly unfocused from the copyright he had concealed in his hand. Scarlet instantly seemed to become wary, but Dave had thought of this.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I refilled my landie's brake fluid before I set off. Did I get some on you?" he said, as if mildly embarrassed.

"Don't worry about it." Blue replied, looking at his hand. The sticker had already been absorbed into the character's skin.

Dave cleared his throat, then abruptly turned deathly serious.

"Now we have the pleasantries out of the way gentlemen, I'm afraid I'm here on a very serious matter. Firstly, I must ask you; have you ever had reason to doubt Captain Burgundy?"

Scarlet shook his head, but Blue, now protected by the copyright, looked thoughtful.

"Well, that story about being in deep cover in an underworld criminal cell in Bereznik for the last five years was a bit suspect. None of us had even heard of her! And having been there myself at the time, I'd know!"

"Colonel White confirmed it himself..." Scarlet put in, citing the head of Spectrum's former career as the head of the U.S.S in Britain, but from the tone of his voice, it was apparent that even he could see that the story was a little threadbare.

"That's about what I thought." Dave put in. "You might want to sit down Captain Scarlet." He added, surreptitiously applying his second copyright to Scarlet's arm as he gestured. "There's only so much I can tell you, but I'm afraid that Captain Burgundy isn't all she appears..."


"No one in the tunnels threw that grenade!" Michael exclaimed. At Phoenixia's insistence, most of the leaders were present, save for Adrian, who was on a mission in one of the black list fandoms. Drake and Ingrid had been dispatched with instructions to get Dave back into the library by any means.

Phoenixia nodded. "What's more, I went back over the plothole records, and found two that weren't ours. One was generated by the Sue as she left, and one much smaller one."

"How small?"

"Grenade sized!"

"Okay," Harriet said, "So, someone throws a grenade through a plothole... why?"

"Well look at us all now." Valerie put in "Chasing each other's tails around, shouting at each other. There's a good reason to begin with, but..."

"But?" said Michael, getting the distinct feeling that he wouldn't like the answer.

"Have any of you had nightmares in the last few days?" Valerie asked. Tash frowned.

"One or two. I wouldn't call them nightmares, but they were more vivid than normal. Can't really remember them though..."

Valerie sighed, as if she had hoped Tash would answer differently. "Well you're the twelfth person to say something like that today, me included. But the thing that really put me on the trail was Dave's Luxray when she came to see me yesterday. As far as I can tell from her, Dave has had seriously bad dreams in the last few days, during which he has apparently muttered variants on the theme of "I am not a traitor"."

"So... He's dreaming about the Sues torturing him?" Harriet speculated. Val shook her head.

"Possible, but I don't think so." she said. "Consider this as a possibility. Dave is very principled, we know this for a fact. Now, if he's been having nightmares similar to the ones I can remember bits of, then what he is seeing is the Society deciding to massacre all the Sues and Stus in the basement for no apparent reason other than extreme blood lust."

The healer shuddered at this, then went on. "Dave sees this as wrong and -This bit is speculation- tries to stand up for them, to reign us in."

"At which point we all turn on him and start accusing him of treachery." Harriet finished. There was a moment of silence.

"I guess that explains why he was so wary and defensive with us." Michael said to Tash. "If he thought we were going to turn on him at any moment..."

"Hang on." Harriet put in, "If we've been having these nightmares as well, why haven't we been affected?"

"Because we're not the targets." Phoenixia said darkly. "Think about it. Dave has dream, dream seems to come true in front of him the very next day."

There was a short pause as the Society leaders digested the consequences of that statement.

"You mean he's been set up!" Tash squeaked, a split second behind Harriet's far from lady-like exclamation.

"What's more," Phoenixia added, "Whatever intelligence is trying to set us at each other's throats is using something in the library to do it."

"You mean @?" Michael asked. The Ex-hologram shook her head.

"Whatever it is is going out of its way to bypass her." she replied, "There are far easier ways to induce nightmares than the psychic frequency I've detected. The problem I've got is pinning it down to a specific area of the library. I've sent a message to Adrian to that effect, but there's no telling when he'll be able to disengage and respond."

There was a beep from the communicators just as she finished, making everyone jump. Claire's face came up, looking worried. "We have a problem."

"Another one?" Michael groaned, the day was getting worse and worse...

"Something's scrambling the comm system. They're working okay, but whenever I try to reach Dave, all I get is a sort of squeaky noise and the line cuts." Everyone looked at each other in dismay.

"Send someone to fetch him!" Harriet ordered. "He's in danger!"

"Well... We tried that..." Claire said, sheepishly.


Drake stood at the top of the Industrial building and watched the two motorcycles speed by. One was red and was being closely followed by a blue machine-warrior. The other, a police bike, was out in front, closely followed by a blue dragon with masks over it's three faces, and a Dragon that seemed to be patterned after a pair of handcuffs.

The agent scratched his head. As nice as this fandom was, he was sure it wasn't where he was supposed to be... And he knew for a fact Ingrid had come through the plothole with him, so where was she?


Ingrid had appeared in the middle of a crowded street. The traffic on the road nearby was gridlocked, with all the traffic lights in the area having apparently turned red.

As she wondered where Drake was, a trio of minis, one red, one white, and one blue came racing down the pavement towards her. Jumping into a nearby doorway before they knocked her down, she found herself knocking over a small man, apparently of Italian extraction, who proceeded to loudly tell her exactly where to go and how to get there until long after the cars had passed. He was finally intimidated into silence by the sight of her generating a plothole for herself to take her back to the library.


Dave looked curiously at his communicator. Three times now, Claire had appeared on the screen, but it had been a static image, and no amount of shaking it, or saying "Yes?" in a friendly way had prompted the wretched device to do anything more than occasionally beep at him.

He put it away again. If it was going to be that much trouble, he might as well leave it in Martha's glove compartment with Emily's new gadget and his glasses. He didn't anticipate needing it.

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