Will this be the end of it, or will Ned be persuasive enough? Don't own any of them
"I just don't understand it Alan." Said Virgil,
concernedly. "There's no reply at all. Scott should have
called in by now. I hope he's alright."
"Probably just too busy." Replied Alan, though he know
this wasn't the case. Scott would never be too busy to
call in at least once to explain.
"ETA now two minutes. I'll try again just before we land;
he said not to land too close."
"Scott? Scott wake up." Ned poked at Scott, but he didn't
wake. Usually he could exist on practically no sleep, but
today had been just too tiring. Ned was just settling
back into the crook of Scott's arm when a soft bleep came
from Scott's wrist. It was barely a murmur compared to
Ned's wake-up call, but Scott's brain was well trained,
and in a second he was wide awake, and answering the call
on his watch.
"Virgil! Am I glad to see you!" Ned looked at him
uncertainly, thinking this was a rebuff. Scott waved his
hand: 'ignore me'.
"What's been going on Scott? I've been trying to reach
you for ages."
"Sorry Virgil, it's this place, it has some sort of
energy field around it. I guess now you're close, you
must be under the same influence and it must cancel out
the interference or something."
"Oh, right. So what's happening down there?" Scott closed
his eyes to avoid the wink from Ned,
"I'm afraid I'm stuck too Virg. I got down here alright,
but when the other guy drove off in the Jeep, it
disturbed the ground and the roof's fallen and blocked
the exit. I don't know about using the mole now, the
vibrations would probably bring the lot down."
"Okay. I'll bring Thunderbird Two in about five hundred
yards away. Then Alan and I will hotfoot it over and take
a look. We'll just have to think on our feet, that's all.
I'll call you when we've landed. Over and out."
The watch flicked back to its normal dial and Scott
looked up, scratching the back of his neck.
"Well, that's it Ned. We've got company. Given the
complications of my situation, how are we going to stay
Scott's watch went off again.
"Go ahead Virg."
"We've landed Scott, but there're holes everywhere, the
ground is just giving way all over the place. Can you
send out a signal stream so that I can get a fix on you?"
"FAB." Scott pressed a button on the side of his watch
and held it till Virgil's voice came through again.
"Gotcha! You're not too far away. Hang on. Can you see
out of there?"
"Yeah. There's a hole just to our left, I'll come over."
Scott got up, cursing his aching muscles, and scrambled
over to the rubble-strewn ground directly underneath the
hole where Ned had made his descent. Looking up, he saw
Virgil's face appear over the edge and grin down at him.
"Looking your best again, I see! Alan's holding me on a
line, I don't fancy joining you down there. How's Ned?"
"He's fine. Nothing broken, he was just stuck. He's got
my top on to try to keep him warm. What are you thinking
"Well, I think you're right about The Mole. It's way too
risky. I'd say just drag you up on a line, only I think
any friction on the edge could bring the roof down. Can't
hover over the hole, the blast would wreck it..."
"Have you got any of those bridge girders in the pod?
Brains was going to put them in when he finished tests on
"I don't know. I didn't have time to get a pod inventory
when I was home."
"I think they might be. If you could batten a few
together and lay them out over this hole, it might spread
the load enough to run a pulley line over to get us up."
"Okay Scott, I'll go and take a look." Virgil disappeared
again and Scott went back to Ned. He wasn't sure, even
now, that he wanted to go further with Ned. He couldn't
trust his own judgement, being so tired. But he couldn't
just leave the man. The duty thing was pressing on him
again. He owed Ned something for that little revelation,
whether he liked it or not. And he was finding that
actually, he did like it.
"So, how are we going to keep in touch?" He asked again.
"I know you're not going to want me to be able to call
you. Too much information. I'll give you my office's
number. They'll always be able to put you in touch with
me. Say it's Scott with some information. I'll tell them
you're scouting for me. You will call, won't you?"
"Yeah fella," Scott said softly, "Sure I'll call." Ned
kissed him on the corner of his mouth, then let him go.
"Not sure, are you." Said Ned. "We could just have a
meal, see a film or something. I'm not going to pounce on
you. I can turn off my reporter mode you know...well,
"Don't worry. It's just me. I'll call, I promise, and
we'll work out the details then, but it may not be for a
while, it depends on work and when I can get leave."
"I understand, but don't leave it too long, hey buddy?"
Ned pulled his reporter's notebook out of his pocket and
scribbled his contact details on a sheet, which he then
tore off and handed to Scott. Scott slipped the note into
his trouser pocket as his watch went off again.
"Scott? I've found the girders. There are two that are
long enough. Alan and I are going to load an end onto
each of the hover-bikes and lift them in that way. It's
just too risky carrying them over-ground."
"Be careful Virgil." Said Scott, and the watch flicked
off. Scott and Ned listened to distant sounds of clanging
metal and of the bikes being started up. In a few minutes
the noises came closer and shadows flickered over the
walls of the chamber as the girders passed over the hole
in the ceiling. Virgil was soon back on the watch,
"If there's any cover in there, I'd get into it Scott.
Keep this channel open and keep down. I'm not sure if the
roof will hold when we put this down. I think we'll only
use the one."
"Okay Virg." Scott and Ned clambered back to the space
behind the boulder and squeezed in. Ned put his arms
round Scott's waist and held him close as Scott replied,
"Right, we're as far out of the way as we can get, go
"FAB." Virgil's face disappeared from the screen and
Scott got a view of the side of the bike, the edge of the
girder, the ground, the side of the bike, Alan in the
distance, the edge of the girder, the ground...
"Lowering girder now." Said Virgil, and the view zoomed
in on the ground as dust and stones descended from the
roof and the soft thud of metal easing onto dirt echoed
round the chamber. Then Virgil's face reappeared.
"Well, that seems to be okay. Anything odd going on in
"No, it looks fine."
"Right, Alan's got the line, we're going to throw it
through the girder in the middle and haul you up from
back a way. It'll mean a bit of a scramble at the top,
but it'll keep us all away from the sides. Is Ned up to
"Yeah. I'll send him up first. Throw the line down, then
we'll get out of this shelter." Virgil threw the line
down through the centre struts of the girder and Scott
and Ned climbed out into the centre of the chamber.
"I'm going to tie you on the line. When you get to the
top, grab onto the girder and Virgil and Alan will give
you some slack so you can climb up on to it. Keep the
line on and crawl right to the end of the girder on the
side where they are and wait for Virgil to come and untie
you." Scott hitched the line round Ned, tied it and
looped it round a few more times, creating a harness.
Then he spoke to Virgil again.
"Okay Virg, haul away, I'll tell you if he swings too
much." The line jerked slightly and Ned left the floor,
travelling up smoothly to the top. There was a delay as
he struggled to heave himself up onto the girder, then he
had gone, crawling away towards Virgil and Alan. Scott
waited. He felt odd. He was back in 'on duty' mode, his
brain working quickly, looking for danger and solutions,
ignoring everything but the matter in hand. But there was
a part of him that did not like Ned going out of sight
like that, this wasn't something he'd had to cope with
before. 'Not worth falling in love, not worth falling in
love.' He repeated over and over as the line slipped back
down into the chamber.
Scott looped the line round his foot in a half hitch,
grabbed hold and called to his brothers to pull him up.
Despite his tiredness, he pulled himself easily up onto
the girder and crawled off it, looping the line into a
coil as a he went. Stepping off the end he smiled at his
"Nice work Virg. Good one Alan. Where's Ned?"
"Gone for a pee." Said Alan, pointing to the pod, from
behind which watery noises could be heard. "You look
"I am a bit cold. Gave Ned my top, we kept warm most of
the time, but it was cold waiting just now."
"Have you had a chat with him?"
"About getting into dangerous situations so much."
"Yes, we discussed it a bit. He knows. He's not stupid,
just careless." Scott yawned and swayed a little,
tiredness starting to kick back in now that the danger
was over. Alan looked at Virgil,
"We'd better get packed up and go home. I'm piloting
Thunderbird One. Scott, you go and get into bed in
Thunderbird Two." Scott went pale and opened his eyes
"Oh no. I wouldn't sleep a wink. I'll pilot her. You can
come with me if you like."
"No, you can come with me. Dad said to take over if one
of you couldn't make it back, and you are not in a fit
state to fly." Said Alan, ignoring Scott's attempts to
protest. "Besides, I'm not passing up an opportunity like
this." He muttered under his breath as Ned walked back
"Alright. If you must. No fancy flying though." Said
Scott. "I need a quick word with Ned before we go - I
guess you'll be taking him with you Virgil?"
"Yes. I said I'd drop him back at their home base, on the
understanding that they don't try to come back out here.
We'll leave the girder. It's not worth the risk. You have
that chat while I load up the pod, then show him into the
passenger lift." Virgil went over to the pod and walked
inside. In a moment the huge ramp rose up, becoming a
door in the end of the pod, then Thunderbird Two
descended slowly over the pod until a sharp click
declared that it was locked in place.
"Alan, you go and get Thunderbird One ready for take-off,
I won't be long." Alan wandered off, looking dreamily at
the machine HE was going to pilot, and Scott took Ned's
elbow and walked him away a little.
"Look after yourself. I do want to see you again, but not
on a rescue. I mean it. It may be a little while, don't
give up, I've got to be careful."
"I know. I'd like to kiss you, but I guess that would be
a bad idea with your brothers around?"
"Oh, do you want your top back?"
"Leave it in Thunderbird Two. Oh...could you tell Virgil to
bring it out to me because I've left something sewn into
it and I don't want it to go for washing with it in,
which it will if you don't say..." Scott stopped. "I have
never been a rambler before. That's your fault." Ned
smirked and they walked over to Thunderbird Two. Scott
showed Ned into the lift that went up through the hatch
in the underside of the nose, looked around, thought for
a second, half whispered "sound only" and kissed Ned
quickly on the lips.
"Okay Virg, take her up." He said, loudly, and waved as
Ned was lifted into the big green machine.
Scott walked wearily back over to his own Thunderbird and
climbed up the ladder into the cockpit. Alan had brought
out the extra seat down beside him, and was sat in the
pilot's seat, looking pleased as punch. The hatch slid
shut as the ram jets on Thunderbird Two blasted into the
ground, pushing her into the sky. Scott strapped himself
"Done pre-flight checks?" he asked.
"Yes Sir!" said Alan, "Ready for take-off?"
"Yes. Easy does it Alan. Get your hand off that
horizontal flight controller till we're airborne. I don't
want the paintwork on my fins all scratched. Gentle on
"SCOTT!" Cried Alan, looking rather irritable, "I can fly
this thing you know."
"Just mind the..." Scott was silenced by a look from his
brother, and relaxed a little as they reached high