Alan followed his father away from the villa complex, onto a path that was hidden so well that until recently he hadn't known it was there at all. The path led away into and through the jungle that dominated much of the tropical paradise that they all called home. He kept quiet as he followed a few paces behind his father, his thoughts completely dominated by what was coming. He didn't feel the need to talk at all as they walked.
After a few minutes of companionable silence the jungle path gave way to a clearing on the farside of the mountain on which the villa complex had been constructed. Ahead was the entrance to a cave. Without needing direction from his father Alan headed into that cave with his father. Just inside the cave entrance was a door, after opening the door Alan entered a room, a room that looked like a gym's changing room and had a very similar purpose.
"You better get undressed Alan," Jeff said. "Before the full moon appears and we start your lesson."
"That's a good idea Dad," Alan replied in agreement starting to undo the buttons on his short sleeved shirt. "If I don't get this controlling transformation thing down first time and do change then I don't want to wreck any clothes."
"It wouldn't matter if you did," Jeff answered with a smile. "It wouldn't be the first time during lessons that someone has wrecked there clothes because they couldn't stop the transformation. Took about three attempts when I was teaching Virgil and the first two times he ended up transforming, wrecking what clothes he'd been wearing in the process." Alan chuckled slightly as he took his shirt off.
"So that's why he needed a few new pairs of jeans that year," Alan said still chuckling. "Well I don't want to repeat that mistake. I still remember how uncomfortable my clothes got the first time I turned into a werewolf."
"I'll wait for you outside Alan."
Gordon stood quiet on his private balcony looking out at the ocean in the direction the full moon would rise from. It was almost time, he could feel it as surely as he breathed, he knew instinctively that there were only a few minutes now till moonrise. As moonrise got closer he found his thoughts increasingly turning to his younger brother, from here he'd observed Alan leave the villa complex with dad to begin his lessons on transformation control.
After a moment he heard someone knock on the door.
"Come in," he called and heard his bedroom door opened. He didn't turn around as he heard footsteps approach, though he could tell from the rhythm of the steps who it was.
"Are you alright Gordon," Tin-Tin asked from behind him.
"I'm fine," Gordon answered. "Just thinking about Alan."
"I guessed as much," Tin-Tin replied with a knowing smile as she came to stand beside him. "Do you think he'll be alright."
"Yes I think so," Gordon said with a smile. "It's just he has to learn a difficult skill tonight and over the next two nights."
"Is controlling the change difficult," Tin-Tin asked hoping she would get an answer. Whereas she like her parents wouldn't normally ask the Tracy's anything about their werewolf nature, it was something very private to them she just wanted to know. For a moment Gordon didn't answer then he spoke.
"Yes and no," Gordon answered at last looking over at Tin-Tin and smiling. "In away its similar to how you and your father had to learn how to control your abilities. Tell me Tin-Tin is there anytime where you feel reflexively like using your powers."
"Sometimes," Tin-Tin replied. "It is always a temptation to use our psychic gifts. But I've always been taught not to unless I absolutely have to. Though control is...difficult at times."
"It's much the same with us," Gordon answered. "In our case we don't have to learn control until after the first cycle. That control is quite difficult to learn at first because you have to repress your own instinct. Like you have to repress your instinct to use your power."
Gordon smiled at her again then looked back at the Pacific Ocean visible beyond the palm trees that was softly blowing in the light breeze blowing across the island from the east. A patch of the horizon was glowing slightly brighter and with deceptive speed the full moon began to rise, bathing the island in its silver light. Tin-Tin watched as it reflected off the swimming pools visible on the sundeck below, making the softly rippling water glimmer with platinum ripples.
"How long till..." she started to ask only for Gordon to cut her off.
"A few minutes," Gordon said.
"I wish I could be there with him."
"I know. So do I. We all do but this is one thing Alan and Dad must do alone." Tin-Tin nodded in understanding that it was a private father and son thing.
"The others are organising a little pool tournament in the games room Gordon," she said. "Do you want to play."
"Yeah I'll come and play," Gordon answered grateful that there would be some distraction to stop him thinking about Alan. He could always ask Alan how it had gone when he saw him in the morning.
"Then lets go," Tin-Tin said and turned and walked away, the movement sending a wave of her perfume to Gordon's sensitive nose. Gordon repressed the instinct to wrinkle his nose; he never did like the smell of the perfume Tin-Tin and her mother were fond of. After a moment he followed her, but not before casting a final look at the rising full moon. Good luck bro, he thought, thinking of Alan and feeling the familiar urge to transform pulling at him, but he ignored it with practised ease. Then he turned his back on the rising full moon and went after Tin-Tin.
That Same Time
Totally naked - and feeling only a little self-conscious for being so - Alan stepped out of the changing room into the clearing. It was getting brighter as the moonlight began to shine down upon him.
"Good timing Alan," Jeff said from where he was standing waiting for him. "There is barely a minute to go. Do you want to stay standing as we do this or do you want to sit down?"
"I would prefer to stand Dad," Alan replied with a grin. "Who knows what creepy crawlies are in the undergrowth or moving through the grass."
"Good point. Now then Alan I want you to close your eyes and repeat what we did in your room. I want you to look inside yourself and find the sphere you told me about."
Alan nodded and closed his eyes again, before taking a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly. Slowly his awareness of the world around him blurred and faded, the sounds of island wildlife and the soft gentle rustle of the wind in the trees, normally acutely picked up by his hearing faded away into the far distance. He was again alone in a dark place, ahead of him a small light grew and he focused on it until it filled his awareness and there it was. The pulsing amber sphere surrounded by the barrier he had created earlier.
"I see it Dad," he said as before his voice seeming to come from very far away.
"Good," his father's voice answered. "In a moment you will see the light begin to brighten and expand. Focus on the barrier you made earlier, try and keep that barrier in place."
Even as he spoke he felt energy begin to flood into his body. It swept through the darkness towards the glowing imprisoned sphere as a wave of diffuse, nebulous silver light. The sphere absorbed it like a sponge before brightening until it was a bright amber light, the waves of energy begin emitted stopped, merging with the sphere as it began to expand.
It reached the barrier with astonishing speed waves of light and warmth assaulting the barrier. The barrier began to flicker, cracks starting to appear across its surface allowing faint bits of energy to get through, loosing cohesion quickly. As instructed he focused on the barrier, reinforcing it additional invisible layer around it. It held for a moment then began failing again. With even more force he focused on barrier, maintaining it, containing for now the maelstrom of energy and light that was trying to get through.
Jeff watched Alan closely as his youngest son went about a very deep and personal battle to contain the werewolf. Faint beads of sweat were visible on Alan's forehead, his fists clenched at his sides, his features a mask of concentration as he fought to keep the energy inside that brought about the transformation contained.
"Just a few more minutes Alan," he said softly as Alan began to visibly shake with the effort he was expending. Overhead the moon was coming into full view, its light and power coming to full intensity. "It will stop soon. Just hold it together for a few more minutes."
"I, I can't," Alan gasped back shaking more visibly now, the beads of sweat condensing forming rivulets running down his features.
"You can," Jeff replied. "I know it's hard, but you can do it."
Listening to the distant voice of his father Alan focused every bit of strength, every last bit of determination he had on holding the barrier together. The pulsing light and waves of energy was so intense that despite his best efforts the barrier continued to weaken. Glowing cracks rippled across the surface of the transparent barrier around the amber sphere.
He tried to seal them, but the cracks only reopened again, and he heard himself cry out in dismay as the barrier collapsed.
Jeff flinched slightly when Alan cried out even as Alan crumbled onto his hands and knees. He knew Alan hadn't quite succeed in containing the werewolf, even before Alan's normally blond hair darkened and changed texture. Becoming dark grey fur. Alan had been so close; he would probably be able to withstand the immense pressure tomorrow night.
A ripple visibly ran down Alan's spine and as it did so a line of dark grey fur appeared.
"Its okay Alan I know you tried," he said reassuringly as Alan's transformation picked up pace. His youngest son straightened before standing up, visibly getting taller and bigger, bones and muscles changing lengthening and growing at superhuman speed even as the dark grey fur grew over his whole body. Alan's hands and feet broadened and lengthened reflecting the same massive proportions he was taking on, long sharp claws growing outwards from where his finger and toenails normally were.
Finally Alan's face began to morph, ears becoming triangular and shifting position to the top of his head, even as his face changed. His nose and upper lip merging together before growing outwards along with his lower jaw, forming into a long muzzle filled with sharp cutting teeth and a long tongue. With a final ripple of growth in his muscles and fur the transformation ceased. Alan's human form had completely vanished, instead of a tall, athletic young man stood the eight foot tall, nine hundred pound, seemingly androgynous form of a werewolf.
Alan opened his now amber eyes and looked down his muzzle at his father.
"Sorry Dad," he said telepathically as he couldn't talk aloud when in werewolf form. A bitter feeling of failure stabbing at him for failing to prevent his transformation. He couldn't help but feel that he had let his father down.
"It's alright Alan you have nothing to be ashamed about or sorry for," Jeff replied inclining his head slightly to look into Alan's warm amber werewolf eyes with his own hazel still human eyes. "I know you tried. It's a very hard skill to learn. I've never known one of our kind yet who has mastered control over the transformation in one night."
"I almost had it didn't I?" Alan asked relief that his father wasn't angry or disappointed settling on him like a cool, soothing balm.
"Yes you did," Jeff replied. "To tell you the truth I am impressed that you held on as long as you did. Most of your brothers didn't, especially on the first night. Trust me you'll be able to do better tomorrow night. It gets easier the more times you try to do it, like all things do."
"I guess your right Dad. Now what do I do though? I would like to go for a run but its boring doing that on my own." Jeff raised an eyebrow.
"What makes you think you'll be on your own," he said with a soft smile. "Wait here."
Realising what his father intended Alan nodded and watched as his father went back into the changing room. He realised that Dad was not going to let him be on his own tonight, there was actually nothing worse to a werewolf than to be alone, though being hungry came close. Dad was going to transform as well, and then the two of them could run through the forest that dominated the bulk of the island. Exploring all the different runs that there were, some of them which lead to places that were very difficult for a human to get to but which were no problem to a werewolf.
The realisation that he was going to get to spend a good few hours alone with his father pleased him greatly. It wasn't often that he really had a chance to spend some quality time with his father. With himself away at boarding school most of the year and Dad perennially busy either with Tracy Industries or International Rescue they just didn't get chance.
After a few moments Jeff reappeared from the changing room though he was now completely naked and despite himself Alan couldn't help but be impressed by how fit his father looked. Muscles were toned and well defined not to mention quite big, like his brothers his father looked like a mix of a bodybuilder and an Olympic athlete. Some of that came from the fact that he was a werewolf, Alan himself looked a bit like that though he had yet to bulk up, the bulk of his fathers and brothers builds came from the fact that they worked out a lot. Probably end up looking like that myself soon enough since I like going to the gym, Alan thought, and werewolves are natural athletes.
Jeff turned in place to look at Alan and smiled.
"I'll be right with you Alan," he said and closed his eyes, concentrating on lowering his internal barriers.
"Ok Dad," Alan replied watching closely as his father began to change, his black hair changing consistency to fur even as a ripple ran down his spine and a line of jet black fur appeared as the ripple passed. Not for the first time Alan wondered how there could be so many variations in fur colour in one family, ranging from his fathers black to John's silver grey and everything in between. Though he had to admit that it certainly helped to determine who was who, as when in werewolf form they all tended to look the same.
He watched interested as his father transformed into a werewolf, he hadn't really seen a transformation from the perspective of an observer. Looking down at himself and watching his body morph didn't count, it was fascinating to observe and to also know that the transformation was completely painless - except for the first ever change. Unlike the werewolf transformations featured in popular horror movies which were always depicted as being extremely painful for whoever the poor person was who was turning into the bloodthirsty monster. Not that we are monsters, Alan thought to himself, though I admit we do look the part given we have sharp claws and teeth. I don't think I'll really understand where this idea that werewolves are beasts and monsters showing in popular horror comes from.
Alan was brought out of his thoughts by seeing his father's change completing itself. Jeff turned to face him and for a moment two pairs of amber eyes locked. A moment before the mental image of his father in human form smiling at him flashed through Alan's head.
"Ready to go for a run Alan," Jeff asked.
"More than ready Dad," Alan answered.
"Is there any particular trail you feel like going on Alan?"
"Not really. I don't know many of the runs Dad. I've only really seen the ones that John and Gordon like to go on. Though I will admit I like those runs."
"True you haven't seen many of the other ones. Tell you what Alan why don't I show you all the other runs. Who knows we might find some new ones to go on, the island can be a big place after all." Alan sent a mental smile image to his father.
"I would like that Dad."
"Then lets go."
With that Jeff turned and started to move away at a light-jogging place. Alan followed, matching his fathers pace easily. They had only taken a few paces into the jungle when sudden bleeping sounds made them both jump. The bleeping sounds coming from the wristcoms that they still wore, Brains had designed them so that the straps would be able to expand with them when they changed into there werewolf forms and return to normal size when they turned back human. The bleeps coming from the wristcoms were an alert that a distress call was being received. Alan groaned which naturally given what form he was in came out as a growl.
"Oh terrific," he said. "That alarm must have the worst timing on the planet. Guess this means that were not going to do what you said tonight Dad."
"On the contrary Alan," Jeff replied. "All your brothers are here they can deal with it, there is no need for me to go this time."
"Cool. So we can still explore all the trails?"
"Yes. Now come on we have some exploring to do."
Alan sent a mental smile image to his farther and got one back in return, then Jeff started running. Picking up his pace considerably, Alan matched it as they raced into the forest, there eyes easily penetrating the deep darkness that swallowed the inside of the forest after dark. While there powerful yet incredibly agile forms made it easy to dodge debris, rocks and vault over fallen logs.
Pleasure filled Alan as he ran along with amazement at the power he had while a werewolf, he was still getting used to it and it would be along time before he really knew all his body's capabilities.
"You okay Alan?"
"I'm fine Dad. Its just I'm still a little amazed at how this feels."
"That's understandable. You'll get used to it."
"Yeah. I most definitely will."
Tracy Villa, A Few Moments Earlier
When the International Rescue alarm began wailing it was met with a chorus of groans from the assembled Tracy's. Together with Tin-Tin and Fermat they had organised themselves into three teams of two for a friendly little pool tournament and things had just been starting to get interesting.
"You know that alarm must have the worst timing on the planet," Gordon said unknowingly echoing what Alan had said to their father as he put his cue back in the storage rack. Virgil chuckled as he put his own cue away. He'd been paired up with Gordon and they had been next up after Scott and Tin-Tin finished their first game.
"You're not going to get any argument from me on that one Gordon," he said. "But there is nothing we can do about it."
"Very true Virg," Scott agreed as he and Tin-Tin put there own cues away. "Come on lets go and see who needs our help and where this time."
"Lead on then Scott," John said speaking for the first time. "Something tells me though that it's just going to be the four of us tonight."
Scott nodded in agreement. He knew full well that Alan probably had not been able to stop his transformation though he knew the sprout would have had a very good go at controlling it. If Alan had failed and changed into a werewolf then he knew that Dad would have changed with him. Dad had done it with all of them when he'd taught them control so there was no way on earth that Jeff Tracy would deny Alan that, that period when it was just the two of them together. He wouldn't let anything - even International Rescue - interfere with that personal time.
Without speaking he led the way out of the games room knowing that his brothers would be following though naturally there footsteps were silent. He also guessed that from the fact that could hear footsteps that Tin-Tin and Fermat were following as well.
It took only a few minutes to reach the office and inner sanctum of Jeff Tracy. Somehow Scott wasn't surprised to find the room already changed into command and control and Brains sat at the main console when they arrived. Not for the first time Scott wondered how Brains was able to get here so quick, it was one of life's little mysteries.
"What have we got Brains," he asked making Brains jump slightly.
"T...t...there's some young k...k...kids trapped in a...a...abandoned m...m...mine in the Colorado Rockies," Brains replied with his usual stammer, looking over at Scott and giving him a look of reproof for trying to give him a heart attack. Though it was a normal thing with the Tracy's, they moved with the silent, effortless stealth of a born predator almost all the time. Like there enhanced senses and superior strength it was one of the constant subtle reminders that despite appearances they weren't human, at least not as most people would define the term.
"I see," Scott said giving Brains a look of apology realising that he had startled their resident genius again. "Where in the Rockies are they?"
"T...t...there in q...q...quite a remote a...a...area. I h...h...have the c...c...co-ordinates. A...a...apparently its t...t...two boys t...t...twelve and nine r...r...respectively f...f...found the m...m...mine and decided to e...e...explore despite the w...w...warnings of there parents."
"Oh well boys will be boys," Scott said. "We sure gave Dad a few heart attacks when we were younger. Okay guys lets get out there and pull those two intrepid little explorers out of the trouble they've gotten themselves into."
As he spoke he headed for the alcove that had his portrait on it. His brothers followed heading for their own portraits. As they approached the front of the individual alcoves slid up revealing individual lift compartments. One by one the four older Tracy sons entered their lift compartments, then sensing that his brothers were waiting Scott spoke the coded command that would get the lifts moving, a familiar phrase that was normally spoken by their father.
"Thunderbirds Are Go," Scott said. His lift door closed cutting off his view of command and control and with a soft jolt and a humming of electromagnetic rails the lift began its journey to the silos.
Tin-Tin and Fermat watched as the Tracy boys disappeared off on another adventure to save someone in peril. Then they turned to look at each other as nearby Brains got to work on necessary launch preparations.
"W...w...what shall we d...d...do now?" Fermat asked. Tin-Tin considered for a few moments.
"We could go back to the games room," she suggested. "Continue with what we were doing, just play a few games of pool between ourselves. It's obvious its just going to be us two tonight, Alan would have been back by now if he'd been able to get control over his transformation."
"T...t...true," Fermat agreed. "Ok l...l...lets do that."
Tin-Tin smiled, then turned and led the way out of command and control. Fermat looked momentarily at Alan's portrait and wondered how his best friend was getting on, knowing that Alan had almost certainly changed into his werewolf form. Then he turned and followed Tin-Tin out of the room.
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