Torment in Tibet
A New Captain Scarlet story by Lezli Farrington
This was ridiculous, Destiny thought to herself as she sat impatiently in her small, dark cell. Not only was she cold, tired and covered in blood, but also extremely bemused: fancy being accused of being a witch in this day and age! True enough, Paul had revived in somewhat… unsecure circumstances (the locals had sadly borne witness), and yes, she had been holding him at the time, but this was just absurd. This was definitely all his fault.
“Out of range?” Destiny demanded, hands on hips as she faced Captain Scarlet. “How can we be out of range?”
Scarlet shrugged, apparently not caring that much. “Don’t sweat it,” he said, smiling at her in that way he had. That way that turned her knees to jelly. “We’ll be fine. Besides, this way the colonel can’t call us back if there’s a problem.”
“Unbelievable,” Destiny grumbled as Scarlet set off again and she was forced to scamper after him. “Green can get reception on her cell phone on the damn Moon, and we can’t get a radio signal in Tibet?”
“Think of it as freedom,” Scarlet suggested, still grinning infuriatingly. He was doing it on purpose to make her forget. He had to be. Well, it wasn’t going to work this time.
“No troubles,” he continued, “no-one pestering us; it’s just the two of us for once.”
Now that put a different spin on things: that was quite a nice thought, actually. They didn’t get much alone time on Skybase, and somehow every attempt at furlough went completely and utterly wrong. She fervently hoped this one, combining her hobby of mountain-climbing with Scarlet’s love of hiking, went without a problem. Especially now they were apparently incommunicado. Oh well, best laid plans and all that. This would just be their little snag for this trip, and no more bad luck could befall them.
In hindsight, she knew she should have insisted they turn back at that point. She definitely shouldn’t have deluded herself, should have known something would go badly wrong and put her foot down. She would after this was all over: they were never going on vacation again. They would make do with shagging like bunnies on Skybase, and damn the consequences if they got caught by Colonel White. He probably already knew; they weren’t the stealthiest of couples, after all.
He had slipped trying to traverse a narrow ledge. The fall hadn’t been terribly far, but Paul had landed so very badly. She scrambled down as fast as she possibly could, but he wasn’t breathing. Given the amount of blood, perhaps that was for the best. Whilst she knew he would be all right, her initial scream had alerted people from the nearby village and, try as she might, she couldn’t prevent them from seeing the impossible. Without a radio signal to contact Skybase, she had no backup, no way of stopping Scarlet’s inevitable resurrection from being witnessed. She had tried, God knew she had tried; first pleading for them to leave (not that any of them spoke English, or understood her extremely poor Mandarin) and when that failed, she held Paul’s lifeless body in the hope she could conceal the moment he returned to life, and get him to pretend to be dead until they left.
She was manhandled from her cell and shoved roughly into a courtyard, where she found Scarlet, who was receiving the same treatment. He looked rough, and Destiny remembered that he needed to eat not long after reviving. Doctor Gold had explained it once, but she hadn’t listened too hard. Now she wished she had tried harder to understand Scarlet’s condition better. Still, he deserved to feel a bit crappy for putting her through this.
“‘Think of it as freedom’,” she hissed under her breath. “‘No troubles’.”
“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” he replied contritely.
The guards held them roughly in place as the single English speaker in the village stepped forward (and how Destiny wished he had been there earlier, whilst Scarlet was still dead. Then they wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place).
“You have been found guilty of crimes against nature,” he said. “For this, you must be punished.”
He and what appeared to be the village elders stepped aside, revealing a hastily thrown-together structure.
“Paul?” she said, seeking reassurance, desperately afraid.
He didn’t reply, and she couldn’t say that she blamed him: she was desperately trying to convince herself that it was not a pair of stakes, and they were not about to be burned to death. That kind of thing just didn’t happen in the twenty-first century. But every ounce of common sense told her that was exactly what stood before them, because it couldn’t really be anything else. Her heart started racing, fear finally kicking in.
She struggled against her captors, knew that Paul was doing exactly the same beside her. Then there was a sharp pain in her head and the world went black.
There was a funny smell, a bit like gasoline, Destiny mused as she woke up, her head pounding. Then she remembered, and her eyes flew open. She was bound tightly on top of what could only be described as a pyre, unable to move. Beside her, Paul was struggling in vain. However the fight left him when he saw her.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t wake up,” he said, his voice thick. “I’m so, so sorry, Simone.”
Now she knew things were bad: he always called her ‘Destiny’, said the name suited her. She had never had any particular objections given she disliked her given name. For Paul to use it now, she couldn’t bear to think about it.
Around the edges of the pyre, the villagers dropped lit torches. Now Destiny knew why she had smelled gas; the perimeter had been doused in it, and they were surrounded by a ring of fire. Her eyes started to water in the smoke and heat.
“I love you.”
This has all come from a suggestion on the Spectrum Headquarters forum, and is all DreamerAngel’s fault. Well, mostly: it was originally MMK’s suggestion, but it was DreamerAngel who prompted me to write this little offering for my first Halloween fic. Feel free to dream up your own ending for Destiny – does she burn to a crisp, or is she rescued in the nick of time? I’m sure I can guess the general consensus.
Tragically, Tibet has in fact seen a genuine witch-burning this very year. It wasn’t quite as traditional as the one I have depicted, but even so this does still go on in the world today. Unbelievable, isn’t it?
Many thanks to Chris Bishop for her tireless effort in running the Spectrum Headquarters, without which the fandom would be languishing in despair, I feel. Chris, the star that she is, has also beta-read this offering for me. Any errors or omissions, however, are my own, and probably result from me trying to get this spot-on a thousand words. Do you know there’s no proper name for that?
15th October 2012