Categories > TV > Thunderbirds > Enhanced
Chapter Twenty Four: Facing The Music
A Few Hours Later
Freshly showered and changed into normal clean clothes Virgil Tracy watched silently from one of the seats in the living room as Scott paced back and forth like a caged lion waiting for Thunderbird One to return. Virgil could tell that his one older brother was furious about the fact that his Thunderbird had been damaged; he could understand it he would be the same if Thunderbird Two was damaged. What he hoped though was that Scott didn't let his temper get the better of him. It wouldn't do anyone any good if Scott started to rip into John the moment John got back.
"Scott calm down," he said after a moment. Scott ignored him and continued his restless pacing, anger practically radiating from him. Virgil sighed and rolled his eyes. "Scott," he said more firmly. Scott froze in place and turned to glare at Virgil for interrupting his pacing.
"What is it Virgil?" he snapped. Virgil was not put off by his brother's tone of voice.
"I just wanted to remind you of what you promised Alan, that you wouldn't rip John's head off when he gets here," Virgil answered. "Because at the moment you look like you're more than willing to do just that."
Scott looked at Virgil for a few moments and didn't reply. Instead he looked away and resumed his restless pacing. But only for a few moments coming to the portraits on one wall he paused and looked at the portrait of John.
"I know I shouldn't be mad at him," Scott said. "John's our younger brother Virg, and it's not like he damaged Thunderbird One on purpose. So why am I angry? Why do I feel like I want to throttle him?" For a moment Virgil remained quiet, gathering his thoughts.
"Because Thunderbird One is yours," Virgil answered. "You're her primary pilot; she's your 'bird. Your baby and you care about her."
"You make it sound like she's alive."
"Well you have to admit that to us they are alive Scott," Virgil said with a smile. "To us the Thunderbirds are more than just extremely complex, highly advanced machines. They may have been just that when International Rescue first started but since then they've become something more than that to us. They've become something special, something we treasure deeply. We get angry when they get damaged, because inside we feel that a part of us has been damaged with them."
"You know Virg I think you're right there. Our machines have saved so many lives since we started, including our own many times that they're more than machines now. They're living things in a way. I'm angry with John because my 'bird is damaged and that he was flying her at the time. I know that I shouldn't be yet I am."
"I know you are. Maybe what you need to do here Scott is take a step back a minute. At the end of the day what are the Thunderbirds?"
"They're machines. Complex and highly advanced machines like you said but they are still machines."
"Yes. And what is John?"
"Our brother," Scott replied a sudden soft smile appearing on his face as he realised what Virgil was trying to do, trying to say. He could feel the venomous anger that had been building in him from the moment Alan had said that Thunderbird One was damaged begin to drain away. "At the end of the day he's more important than any of the Thunderbirds."
"Exactly, he's coming home alive, every bit as dirty and as me and Gordon were. He's probably going to tired as well and low on energy. But he's alive the damage to Thunderbird One - however bad it is - is nothing compared to that."
"You're right," Scott answered turning in place to look at Virgil and smiling silently thanking God that Virgil understood him so well and how he could be so wise at times. Especially when he needed to talk about something, even when he didn't admit that he needed to talk to himself. Still he could feel that the anger was there inside him, weakened but still smouldering, ready to be rekindled at any second. And Scott knew that he should not be here when Thunderbird One came in to land in another few minutes. "Thanks Virg. I shouldn't be here when John arrives. I need to work off some of this anger inside me. I'm going to go to the gym. Tell John when he comes in that I'll talk to him later."
"That would be for the best Scott. You go to the gym. I'll tell John when he gets here."
Scott nodded, before walking away out of the room to get into his workout clothes and head down to the gym. Virgil watched him go before standing up and going out onto the balcony to wait for Thunderbird One to arrive. Not much longer till he gets here, he thought looking out at the ocean and the sun that was slowly sinking towards the horizon.
Five Minutes Later
John smiled in relief when Tracy Island finally appeared on the horizon. Almost home, he thought. The flight here had been so long and hard, especially as Thunderbird One had been vibrating the whole way. He'd thought the shuddering that Thunderbird Three went through during atmospheric re-entry was bad but that had nothing on the incessant vibration in Thunderbird One. Boy will I be glad to get my feet back on solid ground, John thought even as he heard a soft warning bleeping coming from his watch.
It was the first time it had done that and John remembered that meant that his energy levels had dropped into the amber zone on the power gage. And now that he thought about it John noticed that he was beginning to feel weaker, it wasn't bad yet but he read the warning for what is was. He was going to have to eat soon. Though from experience he knew he had another hour to two hours before the energy drain became critical and life threatening. A period of time that now he thought about was getting longer and longer, the nanites were somehow holding onto their energy for longer or were getting more efficient with it. I'll have to talk to Brains about it, he thought, the nanites inside me are biomechanical after all so they're partially organic. Maybe the organic part of them is changing somehow.
John put the thoughts of the nanites out of his mind for now; instead he concentrated on the upcoming task of landing Thunderbird One. The island now dominated the horizon ahead of him soon he would be over the villa, then he would have to get Thunderbird One vertical in order to land. Normally that would be relatively easy, but with the control surfaces damaged it was going to just that little bit more difficult. It was going to take all his concentration and skill to land safely.
After a few more minutes that seemed to fly past at the speed of light, John found himself over the villa. The swimming pool had slid back under the surrounding sundeck area, exposing the launch/landing silo for Thunderbird One. Here goes nothing, John thought as he carefully manoeuvred the damaged Thunderbird into the correct vertical position to land.
Virgil watched from the balcony as Thunderbird One came into land. As she moved into vertical position to descend into the silo her underside and the damage to it became readily apparent. Virgil winced at what he saw.
The entire underside of Thunderbird One was scorched; some of the paintwork completely burned away, and from the discolouration of the bare metal Virgil wouldn't be at all surprised if there was some structural weakening in those fuselage plates. But the worst damage was to the drive section which looked like someone had bitten a chunk out of it. Where the ventral stabiliser fin had been there was now a gaping hole whose edges were smooth from where the metal had melted. A number of panels immediately around that area had been ripped clean off, the sensitive innards of that part of the engine exposed and now all scorched and burned out. What a mess, Virgil thought shaking his head knowing that Thunderbird One was going to need some major repair work.
Seeing the extent of the damage Virgil shuddered as the realisation of how close Thunderbird One had come to being destroyed, how close they'd come to loosing John, dawned on him. As it was John had escaped and it was a testimony to his skills as a pilot that he had been able to bring the badly damaged Thunderbird One home in one piece. She must have been vibrating badly the whole time from the moment she was damaged, he thought, even Scott would be hard pressed to handle her in that kind of condition. A roaring sound caught his attention, and he looked back at Thunderbird One to see her remaining engines were firing as she began her descent into the silo.
Virgil quietly turned and went back inside to wait for John to emerge from Thunderbird One back into the villa.
Five Minutes Later
John cautiously gripped the light fixtures and braced himself as the panel he was leaning against began rotating, taking the view of Thunderbird One's main bay out his sight and replacing it with the familiar living room of the villa. Stepping away from the wall he half expected to be faced with an annoyed Scott sitting in their father's place of power behind the desk.
But there was no sign of Scott. In fact the only one here was Virgil who smiled warmly at John.
"Welcome back John," Virgil said in greeting. "I expect that you're as desperate for a shower as me and Gordon were when we got back."
"Oh you can bet on it Virg," John replied. "Where's Scott? I expected him to be leaping down my throat the moment I came out of Thunderbird One." Virgil chuckled.
"I spoke to him," Virgil answered. "He's not going to have a go at you. He's gone to the gym to calm down a bit. He'll talk to you later."
"I see. Okay I'm going to go and have a shower Virgil, though my watch bleeped at me on the way in so I better have something to eat."
"I'll ask Kyrano to do something for you John," Virgil replied. "He'll have it ready for when you come out of the shower."
"Okay Virg thanks." Virgil just smiled in reply, John grinned back then he turned and walked away heading through the villa towards his bedroom and a much wanted, much need shower.
One Hour Later
John looked up from the book he was reading in the light of the slowly setting sun streaming in through the windows as his enhanced hearing picked up the sound of footsteps approaching his room. He recognised the sound and rhythm of the footsteps as belonging to his oldest brother. Scott was coming this way, and from the sound of his footsteps he was walking a purposeful but not angry fashion.
After a moment the footsteps came to a stop, John put his book down on his desk and waited for the inevitable knock at the door. He guessed that Scott was probably nerving himself up to knock, John could understand why. He knew that this conversation was probably going to be a difficult one. After a moment the knock finally came.
"Come in Scott," John called out. The door opened and Scott came into the room.
"How did you know it was me John," Scott asked as he closed the door behind him.
"I recognised the sound of your footsteps." Scott smiled. John had always been good at doing that, recognising people by the sound of there footsteps. Even before the nanites got inside him his hearing had been extremely good.
"It's amazing how you do that John," Scott said. "How you've always been able to recognise people by the sound of their footsteps." John shrugged.
"It's nothing special," John replied. "I guess you want to talk about what happened out on the mission, with Thunderbird One getting damaged."
"Yes," Scott answered. "I'm not mad, at least not now. Virgil really has the knack for helping me put things in perspective. I'm just glad that you're okay John. Thunderbird One doesn't really matter compared to that. I just want to know what happened after Alan sent you back under that ash cloud to stop that lahar." John sighed softly.
"Sit down Scott it's a bit of a story." Scott nodded and sat down on the bed facing John. As soon as he was comfortable he looked at John and for a moment two pairs of blue eyes met.
"What happened out there John," Scott asked at last. John sighed softly before starting on his tale.
"Alan sent me back under the fallout cloud to stop a lahar as you know," John said. "Man it was difficult flying under there. Between the falling ash and the lightening Thunderbird One's sensors were almost completely blind. I could barely see where I was going it was so dark and the sensors were so mucked up. We really should have a word with Brains about coming up with a modification to the sensors to see through that kind of interference."
"You won't get any argument from me about that," Scott agreed. "Those conditions - like storms - are very difficult to fly in. Sensors capable of seeing through it would be a godsend. Continue with your story John."
"Okay Scott. It took awhile given the conditions but I found my way to the Fraiser Valley. It didn't take long to find the lahar and get ahead of it. Damn Scott that thing was a monster. It was just sweeping away everything in its path. Anyway I located a place where I could block its path. I fired two missiles at some rock faces triggering a landslide that blocked the valley. It stopped the lahar alright. But I guess that at the same time part of Mount Baker's eruptive column must have collapsed. Because next thing I knew there was a massive pyroclastic surge coming right at me.
"I pulled up hard but Thunderbird One wasn't quite fast enough going from basically a standing start. Part of the cloud caught the underside and it struck like a hammer, knocked Thunderbird One completely off axis. The drive section dipped down and part got caught in the edge of the flow. There was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it, it happened so fast. I'm sorry Scott." Scott shook his head.
"Don't apologise John," Scott said. "From what you've told me there was nothing you could have done to prevent what happened. If anyone should apologise it should be me, from the moment Alan said about Thunderbird One being damaged to when Virgil and me spoke I wanted to throttle you. That was wrong and I'm sorry."
"It's okay Scott," John replied. "I understand."
"No it's not okay. I was angry about the damage to an inanimate machine when what I should have been was thankful that you managed to escape unharmed," Scott answered. "But I wasn't it hardly entered my mind all I could think about was that my 'bird had been damaged while you were flying her. And that you would pay for it, for letting her get damaged. How selfish does that make me? How screwed up have I allowed my priorities to get?"
As he said the last two sentences John could see anger, shame and self-loathing come into Scott's blue eyes which were every bit as expressive as his own. Inwardly John sighed knowing that Scott was going to be mentally beating himself up over this, over how he'd felt for sometime to come. He would be doing it until he felt that he had done something to correct his perceived failing, when as far as John was concerned Scott hadn't failed, hadn't done anything wrong. He'd just been what he was, what everyone was at the end of the day. They were all flawed, imperfect human beings.
"It's not selfish Scott. It just shows that you're human," he said standing up and moving to cross the short distance between himself and Scott. Before he had even taken half a step he stumbled as a strange wave of dizziness rippled through his head. Scott looked at him in concern.
"John what's wrong," Scott asked.
"I don't know I just felt dizzy there for a second." Scott frowned.
"Are you low on energy?"
"No I ate some sandwiches and a protein bar half hour ago," John answered a moment before a sharp pain erupted from somewhere deep inside him, spreading to infect his whole body with agony. Groaning John doubled over in pain, suddenly uncomfortable heat and nausea joining with the pain.
"John what is it?" Scott said jumping to his feat and moving over to John, a look of alarm on his face. John looked up at him his face caked in sweat, skin flushed red and features contorted in pain.
"I don't kn..." John's voice trailed off as his eyes rolled back in his head and he lost consciousness. He would have collapsed to the ground if Scott hadn't quickly caught him.
Grunting under the deadweight of his brother's unconscious body Scott moved John onto the bed. John was so tall that it was easy to forget that he was actually one of the heaviest of them weighing two hundred and twenty pounds and most of that being lean muscle. Right now though Scott noticed every pound of it as he moved John onto the bed, before looking him over worriedly, John looked sick, really sick. The last time he had seen John like this was just after the nanites got in him when they had been starting to integrate themselves with John's bodily systems. The nanites, Scott thought, something must be very wrong with them.
Raising his wristcom he sent a general call on the local, island only frequency.
"Medical emergency John's room," he said before lowering the wristcom to race into the en suite bathroom to wet a flannel. He wondered what was wrong with the nanites now, and what could they do about it.
Sign up to rate and review this story