Categories > TV > Thunderbirds > Enhanced0 Reviews
After participating in a rescue at a US research base John begins experiencing strange and amazing side effects.
Chapter Four: The Accident
It didn't take John and Virgil that long to reach the research lab where the scientists were trapped. Most of the emergency doors were stuck open or jammed half open the only one that was sealed tight was the one just before the lab section. As before the oxyhydnite torches made short work of the tough metal.
And then there was only the door to the lab. It was a large rectangular metal door in two parts that made an airtight seal in the centre. It looked more like the door to a lift than the door to a lab. A sign on the door read something but it was impossible to see what it was in the dim light. John shone his torch on it. It was a warning not to carry anything that could give off an electrostatic charge into the lab. Fortunately neither his nor Virgil's uniforms or their equipment would do that. The fabric and alloys they were made from were designed not to conduct static electricity or to even allow a charge to build up. It was one of the many things Brains had taken into account when he'd come up with the materials.
As with the first emergency door Virgil attempted to operate the controls for the door only to find that they weren't working. The doors would not budge.
"The door controls don't work. Why am I not surprised," Virgil said. "We'll have to burn our way through."
It took a few moments longer than John and Virgil would have thought for the oxyhydnite cutters to slice through the metal of the door. Whatever composite alloy it was made from was much stronger than normal metal with a higher tolerance to focused heat so it took the oxyhydnite a few seconds longer to burn through the thick sheet metal of the doors. But they soon managed to cut their way through and as soon as the door panels were down they were greeted not with the sight of a lab but a short corridor before there was another set of doors.
Tall slim pylons of somekind lined both sides of the short corridor. There were slim panels on them that faced inwards; panels that probably normally glowed but which were currently dark and dead. Looking at them John realised that he had seen something like them before.
"Whoa, what are these things?" Virgil asked.
"They're bio-scanner units," John answered. "Designed to scan right down to the submolecular level. I saw one once when I was with NASA. It was used for scanning plants down to the submolecular level to see how they coped with being in the artificial atmosphere of a space station for a long period of time. But I've never seen ones like these before. These look like there meant to scan people."
"What are they doing here," Virgil wondered. "What are they researching here that they would need scanners that accurate."
"I don't know," John admitted. "It doesn't concern us now anyway. We need to get to those scientists."
"Yes your right," Virgil agree but gave the bio-scanners another nervous look. "Still I would like to know what they need such sensitive scanners for."
"You and me both Virgil," John answered as they started walking past the dead bio-scanners. "You and me both."
They reached the second set of double doors and found to their complete lack of surprise that they would not open. Again they were forced to use the oxyhydnite to cut through. And again found that whatever material the door was made from took longer to cut through than they would have thought.
As soon as they were through and had kicked the door panels down they found themselves entering what was obviously a preparation area for a clean room. Sleek silver one-piece suits with matching gloves, boots and full helmets with breathing apparatus were on racks and shelves lining two of the walls. The wall directly ahead was made of a transparent material and had a door set in it.
A large hole had been smashed in the material possibly by repeated impacts from a chair or other blunt object. Obviously whoever was in the lab had tried to get out on their own.
A figure appeared from somewhere beyond the barrier dressed in one of the silver suits complete with helmet and breathing apparatus. Decked out in all that gear the researcher looked more like someone preparing to go EVA on a space station than someone doing research at an earthbound installation.
"Who....who are you," the figure asked in a male voice that was slightly muffled by the helmet.
"We're International Rescue," Virgil answered quite used to this reaction when they abruptly showed up to save someone. "We've come to get you out of here."
"Oh thank heavens," the researcher replied. "We thought that Colonel Graves and Dr Jones had forgotten about us. Come quickly some of us are hurt." With that the researcher disappeared from sight back into the lab.
Moving quickly but still with caution John and Virgil moved through the preparation area and entered the lab proper.
The lab was quiet a spacious room but nothing like what they had seen before. There were no racks of chemicals or things like that, though some test tubes were present. Instead the room was filled with machines and computers of various kinds. And there were tanks all linked to complex looking equipment, tanks that were filled with some thick fluid. Some sealed test tubes on the few worktables held the same thick fluid.
And there was signs of damage to the lab caused by the blast on the levels above. A bank of computer consoles had fallen over and were still sparking fitfully on the floor. The overhead gantry that carried piping and the air duct had been shattered in one part, which would have produced a potentially lethal shower of flying metal fragments. A number of light fixtures had broken away from their securing bolts and now hung only by cables and flickering fitfully. But the most worrying sign of damage was a bulging line in the concrete wall, a line that started at just above floor level and seemingly travelling slowly along the wall. Though the river had broken in on the level below it had to still be exerting immense pressure on the wall to be causing the bulge. Sooner or later part of the bulge would break and the river would come rushing into this level as well.
The researchers were clustered together by one of the worktables, three were on their feet and didn't appeared to have sustained any injuries. The other two were sat down their backs against the side of the table. One appeared to be nursing a broken arm going on the way he or she was cradling it and the odd twist there was halfway along the forearm. The other was more badly wounded with a very deep and nasty looking gash on the right shoulder, the piece of metal that had caused the injury was still jutting out the shoulder. The researchers hadn't tried to remove it, which was a good thing as the jagged piece of torn metal in the wound was probably the only thing that had prevented the researcher from bleeding to death.
Moving quickly John and Virgil hurried over to the researchers even as one of the researchers - the one who'd met them told his fellows who they were. As soon as they heard the words International Rescue all the researchers looked relieved. It was easy to see though the faceplates of the helmets that they were wearing.
"Thank god you came," one of the wounded researchers - the one with the broken arm - said in a female voice. "We were starting to lose hope."
"Well were here now," Virgil answered. "Can you two stand?"
Both wounded researchers nodded indicating that they could stand. John and Virgil exchanged a relieved look that would make getting them out of here that much easier and quicker and with the base steadily flooding from below they needed all the time they could get.
"Good we need to leave here quickly," John said. "This base is steadily flooding from below and that wall won't hold together for long."
Before anyone could react to John's announcement there came a deep rumble from below followed instantly by a powerful explosion that made the emergency lights flicker. The floor beneath them shook violently knocking everyone off their feet. The researcher with the wounded shoulder cried out in pain as the shockwave from the blast on the level below jarred the wounded shoulder.
Hidden in the roar of the explosion was a sharp crack. Unnoticed the bulge in the wall had cracked open behind a bank of computer panels. A thin spray of water projected right into the back of the cabinet and got in through the hot air vents in the back. The water played over delicate internal circuitry, with predictable results. Short circuits and burnout's tore through the equipment and a moment later the whole bank of consoles exploded.
Torn metal fragments and pieces of singed and fused circuitry flew across the lab in a potentially lethal hail of shrapnel. The flying debris sliced into just about everything it touched. One piece sliced into a rack on one of the worktables, test tubes that were sealed and filled with the thick fluid that was in the tanks. The test tubes shattered like small fragmentation grenades producing a spray of liquid and glass.
Unnoticed a single small drop of the liquid landed on the single bare patch of skin on the back of John's neck, just below the line of his hair and just above the collar of his uniform. For a moment the liquid sat on the surface of the skin and then it disappeared, absorbed through the pores of the skin.
Completely oblivious to anything having occurred John cautiously sat up once the rain of fragments had stopped.
"Everyone all right," he asked.
"I'm fine," Virgil answered. There were also nods of affirmation from all but one of the researchers. The researcher who didn't respond to John's question was starring at the wall with a look of horror and fear on his face.
John followed his gaze and swore quietly when he saw a thin jet of water coming in through a small crack in the bulge in the wall. Even as he watched the crack got slightly wider and the spray visibly stronger. In a few minutes at best the whole bulge would burst allowing the river to come crashing in.
"We need to leave here now," John said calmly ignoring the instinct that told him to run.
"No kidding," Virgil agreed.
As quickly as they could everyone got to their feet with the two wounded researchers naturally taking the most time to get their feet under them. By the time everyone was back on their feet a thin film of water had spread across the floor of the lab and a number of the machines had begun sparking and smoking dangerously. They would explode any minute.
"Come on lets get out of here and back to the Mole," Virgil said.
"Not quite yet," the most senior of the researchers said and went over to a worktable and picked up a rack undamaged full and sealed test tubes. "Now we can go."
Virgil and John exchanged an irritated and confused glance. What was in those damned test tubes that was so important that the researcher would risk all their lives to retrieve them? What exactly was the US government researching here?
"Why thank you," Virgil replied sarcastically. The researcher glared back even as the layer of water covering the floor got deeper.
"What! Do you really think I am going to let years of painstaking work be destroyed?" the senior researcher asked.
"Research no matter how difficult can be redone and replaced. Lives can't be," Virgil replied. "Now come on. We're wasting time."
With that Virgil left the lab. One by one the researchers followed with John bringing up the rear.
"Virgil to Mobile Control," Virgil said into his comm unit as they walked away from the lab.
"Yes Virgil," Scott responded immediately. "What happened? Surface scanners picked up two deep level explosions."
"The first was an explosion on the level below us," Virgil answered. "I suspect the river coming in caused it. The second explosion was in the lab. There is a bulge in the wall where the river is pressing directly against the wall of the base. A part of the bulge cracked open behind a bank of computer panels. The panels short-circuited and exploded. We are on our way back now but the river is slowly coming in to this level as well through the breach in the lab wall. The breach is slowly widening."
"Then you better beat it back to the Mole as quickly as you can," Scott replied. "If that whole bulge in the wall goes the whole level could flood in a few minutes."
"F.A.B Scott," Virgil replied.
Progress back towards the safety of the Mole was surprisingly fast. With the emergency doors open, half open or burned down by oxyhydnite cutters and the corridors clear of river water aside from immediately around the lab it was surprising easy for even the two wounded researchers to make a brisk pace.
As they reached the central core Virgil suddenly again found himself splashing through a thin but spreading and steadily getting deeper body of water. Shining his torchlight over to the stairwells and lift shafts Virgil inwardly groaned as he saw water forcing its way under the stairwell doors and through the seals between the lift doors. Clearly the levels below them had completely flooded already.
"Looks like we have less time than we thought," John said looking at the river water. In a few minutes the doors to the stairwells would give way and a wall of water would come flooding in.
Moving with even more urgency they resumed their journey to the Mole.
Moving quickly they reached the Mole with only a few moments before. Virgil and John went aboard first, Virgil moving to the controls to begin powering the Mole back up. John stood by the hatch and helped the researchers aboard. As he helped the last researcher to board the Mole John heard a distant boom.
And abruptly water came surging towards them clearly the doors on the central core had given way, possibly the wall in the lab as well.
"Virgil start the engines," John called to Virgil as he shut the hatch before making sure all the researchers had secured themselves in there seats. Satisfied that they had properly secured themselves John took off his oxyhydnite gear and sat down himself and secured himself as he heard the Moles engines start and felt a vibration begin in the floor as the Mole slowly began to reverse back along the tunnel they had drilled into the ground.
John inwardly sighed in relief, thankful that they gotten out of there. Still he couldn't help but wonder and ask himself a question that had been bothering him ever since they had got here. Just what had the US government been researching in this base.