A ruthless industrialist hatches a devious plot to steal the secrets of international rescue while Scott wrestles with a deep personal dilemma.
Three Days Later
Benson smiled softly as the last part of the relay device clicked into place and a number of small lights came on. At last, he thought in relief.
The relay device that Doctor Avoki had given him to set up was very compact and unobtrusive, perfect for its purpose. But it was also a pain to put together. Carefully, he examined the device, satisfying himself that it was working properly and that he hadn't made any mistakes in assembling it. It was essential that the relay worked properly; Mr Satoza would make his life very unpleasant if something were to be wrong with the relay.
Satisfied that everything was fine, Benson stood and turned to look at the skyscraper across the street from his rooftop perch. The Raykier Building was a huge skyscraper that had only been completed last year. A polished cone of metal, concrete and glass, it rose a hundred and thirty five storeys into the sky over Mexico City. It was the new central hub of a financial and shipping empire and was the city's tallest building - perhaps even the tallest manmade structure in Central America.
Benson had spent much the last week working there as a maintenance technician. With his contacts, getting forged credentials was absurdly easy. It had enabled him to go where he'd needed to go inside the building without arousing any suspicion from Raykier's security division.
Benson smiled cruelly at the gleaming cone as he withdrew a small control pad from his pocket. His smile changed into a smirk as he pressed three buttons in sequence and immediately heard a series of bleeps as a thirty-second countdown started.
Raykier Building, That Same Time
Diana Kingfield sighed in relief as the lift doors opened with a ping. She was glad that she had this afternoon off; she needed it after the meeting that she had spent all morning in.
Entering the lift, Diana pressed the control to take her to the lobby then leaned against the side wall as the door closed. With a soft humming sound, the lift began its descent, riding down twin magnetic rails, one on each side of the shaft. Diana closed her eyes as the lift picked up speed and considered what to do for the rest of the day. She wasn't in the mood to fight her way to one of the city shopping malls, not after the hassle of the meeting. Just getting home through the madness of Mexico City traffic was going to be stressful enough. I'll just stay at home, she thought, opening her eyes again and smiling.
At that moment the powerful, concussive sound of multiple explosions split the air and the lift - like whole tower - shook violently. Diana's stomach jumped into her throat and she bit back a scream of terror as the lift dropped out of control. After a few terrifying seconds, a high pitched screeching noise filled the elevator. Emergency breaks tripped in, slowly bringing it to a jerking halt. Diana was thrown to the floor; the lights flickered once, then went out as power died. For a few more seconds there was darkness, then amber battery-powered emergency lights came on.
Oh my God, Oh my God, Diana thought, slowly sitting up and hearing the wail of fire klaxons even in the lift. What's happened? Dear God, what's happened? Terrorists! It's got to be! /Getting her feet under her, Diana stood up and pressed the emergency button on the lift control panel. An alarm sounded immediately but the intercom panel remained silent. With a growing sense of panic, she pressed the alarm button again. /Please hear me! she thought. Someone please hear me! Don't leave me in here to die!
Benson allowed himself a pleased smile as he observed an inferno firmly taking hold on floors 99 to 101 of the Raykier Building. The incendiary devices he'd planted had done their job well, as had the small, conventional explosive charges he'd planted to knock out power throughout the building and take out the automatic fire suppression system.
After a few moments, the sound of fire engine sirens approaching caught Benson's attention and he grinned evilly. They won't be able to do anything to put the fire out, let alone rescue the people trapped on the upper floors let alone rescue the people trapped on the upper floors. The fire is already too strong, /he thought about the firefighters who he knew would be coming, speeding to the rescue. /They have to know there is nothing they can really do inside the Raykier Building but they'll give it their best shot. As futile as it is.
There was really only one group of people in the world who had the equipment and the knowledge to be able to save the people trapped in the burning tower. And it was that very group that Benson was waiting for. He looked at the tower again; even from here he could feel the radiant heat of the inferno. The stage is set, he thought, time for the drama to begin. Thunderbirds, we are waiting for you.
Twenty Minutes Later
John jumped, startled when an alarm began to sound throughout the space station. An alarm whose meaning he knew all too well, it was an alert that an emergency signal was being received.
Mentally cursing in every language he knew, John abandoned his position at his telescope and headed for the control room. Observing the comet that would pass Earth in a few days would have to wait until later. Whoever needs our help this time has absolutely rotten timing, he thought as he hurried through the familiar corridors of Thunderbird Five.
It took him all of a minute to reach the control room from the astrodome. As he crossed the threshold into the room, the radio speakers crackled to life again.
"Calling International Rescue, calling International Rescue. This is Mexico City Emergency Service Control; we are in need of your assistance. International Rescue, can you hear us?" a strongly accented male voice said as John crossed to the console and slid gracefully into his chair. Before the caller from Mexico could speak again, he reached out and pressed a button to answer the hail.
"Mexico City Emergency Control, this is International Rescue," John said in a calm, professional voice, all irritation at being disturbed gone. "We have received your call for help. How can we assist you?"
"Oh thank God," the mysterious Mexican caller's voice answered. "We have a serious fire here in the city at the Raykier Building. Four floors are completely engulfed in flames; there are people trapped on the upper floors and at least one in a lift. Our emergency crews can't get anywhere near them."
"That does sound serious," John replied, mentally cursing again as he knew his father and brothers would. Rescues and firefighting in high rise buildings were always incredibly difficult, demanding on both man and machine. "Give me all the details you can so I can relay it to our rescue team."
"Understood. Here is what we know of the situation so far."
Tracy Island, A Few Moments Later
Scott wiped some sweat from his forehead with a towel he held in one hand, while taking a swig of cool water from a bottle he held in his other hand. One more set, he thought, then I can leave the bench and do a back exercise.
"You okay, Scott?" Gordon asked from where he was running on one of the treadmills. He generally preferred to use the treadmills and stationary bikes to the free weights and weight machines - though he was no stranger to them, either. He just didn't pump iron as much as his older brothers did. /Just like Alan has started to/, he thought, remembering that his younger brother had added weight training to his kick-boxing for fitness. He knew that, between those two pursuits, his younger brother was getting surprisingly strong for a sixteen-year-old.
"I'm fine, Gordon," Scott answered, putting his towel and water bottle down. "It's just I haven't lifted this heavy for a few weeks. What about you? Are you going to lift any weights today? You haven't used them for a few days."
"Nah, not today," Gordon replied. "I'll do strength training next week."
"Okay," Scott answered with a shrug of his broad shoulders. Lying face up on the bench, he reached up and gently lifted the barbell off its rests again. For a moment he held it stationary then, slowly inhaling all the while, lowered the heavily weighted bar down till it touched his chest just above the line of his nipples. Then, exhaling, he pressed it back up to the starting position.
Gordon watched as Scott started bench pressing again. He couldn't help but be impressed at how strong Scott was. Scott almost matched Virgil for raw physical strength. The Tracy family's resident artist had the edge in physical strength having played football in both high school and college.
At that moment the International Rescue alarm began wailing throughout the villa and Gordon groaned.
"Oh, man," he moaned, stopping the treadmill. "That alarm has absolutely rotten timing."
"I know," Scott replied, returning the barbell to its rests before standing up. "Come on, let's go and see who needs our help this time."
The moment the alarm began to sound its urgent, wailing cry, Jeff Tracy stopped dead in his tracks with a resigned sigh. Sometimes he really hated that alarm's timing; he had been heading to kitchen to help himself to a mug of coffee. Now it looked like he wasn't going to get one.
Jeff spun around and raced back to his office, taking only a minute to get back. He walked around his desk and slid into his seat before pressing a hidden control. A panel slid out from the desk and he placed his hand on the palm scanner on its surface.
"Activating command and control," the female voice of the island's computer said as all around, the room began to change. "Activating command and control."
Jeff sat back as, in a mere matter of moments, the room changed from his personal office and sanctum into the high tech command centre of International Rescue. No matter how often he'd seen it, he was always thoroughly impressed with Brains's inventiveness in designing the room's ability to change function so quickly. As soon as the transformation was complete, he reached out and keyed a control on the console that had replaced his desk, answering the incoming emergency transmission from Thunderbird Five.
"What have we got, John?" he asked the moment John's handsome features appeared on the communications screen. "Tell me it is something we can deal with quickly."
"Don't kill the messenger, Dad, but this one is a nasty one," John replied apologetically. "About thirty minutes, ago a series of explosions ripped through the Raykier Building in Mexico City. At last report, four levels of the tower are completely engulfed in flames. There are people trapped on all the upper floors and at least one person trapped in a lift between levels."
"You're right, that does sound a very nasty situation," Jeff answered as he saw Virgil come running in, followed a moment later by Scott and Gordon. It didn't escape his notice that Scott and Gordon were dressed in workout clothes and caked in sweat; they'd obviously been in the middle of a workout when the alarm had gone off.
"What are the local emergency crews doing?" he asked.
"Fire crews have entered the building, Dad, but they are not having much success containing the blaze. None of the building's fire control or containment systems are operating; it looks like whoever caused the explosions has disabled them somehow. Everything so far points to sabotage; there is simply no way a fire could be so strong or spread so fast in a building like the Raykier otherwise."
"I see. The sabotage is not our concern; the people trapped are," Jeff replied as Brains came running into the room. "All right, John, call them back and tell them that we are on our way."
"F-A-B, Dad," John answered and broke the connection from his end. Jeff stood up and walked around the console to join his waiting sons.
"Okay, boys, lets get going," he said as Brains took his place running command and control.
"Where are we going, Dad?" Scott asked as he turned and headed for his portrait.
"Mexico City," Jeff replied. "There's a major skyscraper fire with people trapped on the upper floors and in lifts; emergency crews can't get past the fire to get to them. We are their only hope."
"Oh, brilliant," Gordon said, seeing their portraits slide up into the ceiling, revealing individual lift compartments. "I hate high rise jobs."
"Don't we all," Jeff replied as they all stepped into their lift compartments. The light shining in the compartments belonging to Jeff, Virgil and Gordon turned green to indicate they were going to Thunderbird Two, while the light in Scott's changed to blue to show he was going to Thunderbird One.
As soon as he was confident that they were all in place, Jeff spoke the coded command that would start the lifts moving.
"Thunderbirds are go," he said. The lift doors closed and the portrait panels slid back down as the lifts began their journey to the silos.
Smiling softly, Brains watched them go. Then he turned his full attention to the procedures necessary to safely send the Thunderbirds off on another life-saving adventure.