Categories > TV > Thunderbirds > Enhanced
Chapter Thirty Two: John's Dilemma
Two Hours Later
John sat on the one edge of his bed, looking out through the closed patio doors at the world outside. As Alan had said, the tropical storm that Thunderbird Five had spotted, had taken two hours to reach the island and begin venting its fury on them. Outside massive rain drops fell in a near constant sheet of water from angry black clouds. The strong winds blew the rain against the windows and roof of the house, producing a near constant soft rumbling sound throughout the villa. And everything was periodically illuminated by the massive crackling arcs of lightning that were dancing through the clouds and periodically streaking down to Earth in brief lived, but extremely intense forks of pure energy, many times hotter than the surface of the sun.
To John, the violent weather battering the island was a good companion to his turbulent thoughts. He honestly did not know what to do about the nanites in his body and Brains' proposed means of getting them out of him. He wasn't even sure now if he wanted the nanites out of him; he had become so used to them being a part of him. Would I be able to handle being normal again, John thought, I've gotten so used to everything that comes with the nanites. Would I be able to handle it all being taken away from me? Assuming Brains' attempt doesn't kill me in the process.
That was another thing that was bothering him, the possibility that it could concieveably kill him. John was no stranger to the possibility of being killed. Like his brothers, he consciously chose to put his life on the line whenever they went out into the danger zone as International Rescue. The threat of being badly injured or killed was a constant companion whenever they were out there saving someone. The most recent mission to Mount Baker had clearly indicated the kind of dangers they could face. But somehow this was different. Different in away that John could not put his finger on. Maybe it was because of all the unknowns that were involved. There was still so much they didn't know about the nanites. Even the information the Alan had retrieved from the US governments computer network on the nanite technology, only went so far.
John did not doubt Brains' abilities. He knew full well that Brains would never suggest something so risky, unless he was completely confident that there was a very good chance of success. But at the end of the day, new technologies and materials could still throw up surprises. John readily remembered the incident that Alan had told him about. Scott and Virgil had been knocked out during initial tests with their oxyhydnite cutting gas because they hadn't used electrically heated gas cylinders. Brains hadn't seen that one coming.
A knock at his bedroom door brought him out of his thoughts. Guessing who it was going to be from their conversation earlier on the dock, John looked over at the door.
"Come in, Scott," he said. The door opened and sure enough, his oldest brother stood in the doorway, a startled look on his face.
"How did you know it was me, John," Scott asked as he came into the room, closing the door behind him. "You heard my footsteps again, didn't you?"
"No, just a lucky guess," John replied.
Scott raised an eyebrow but decided not to pursue that particular matter any further. Instead, he looked accessingly at John. He could tell that John was still preoccupied by whatever it was Dad and Brains had said to him earlier. Must be something major for it still to be bothering him, he thought. Hopefully he still wants to talk about it. Though he couldn't be sure, Scott was willing to bet that whatever was bothering John had something to do with the nanites. As long as he doesn't do the dying swan act again, he thought remembering what had happened when he'd last been in here talking to John.
"Do you still want to talk about it," he asked at last.
John sighed to himself; he had known that was going to come. Now that he knew something was bothering one of his siblings, Scott would not let up until he found out what the problem was. Like all of them, Scott was persistent and would get his answers out of someone one way or another. Rather than answer out loud John tapped the bed beside him indicating for Scott to take a seat. Scott did so, and for a few moments they sat there in companionable silence. The only sounds in the room was the constant crashing and rumbling of the rain on the roof and windows, and the ever so faint background swishing sound of the air conditioning systems.
"Okay, John, talk to me," Scott said, breaking the silence at last. "What's bothering you?"
John sighed expressively. "It's the nanites," he replied.
"I should have guessed that they would be involved somehow," Scott answered. "What about them this time, John, they're not doing something else to you, are they?"
"No thank goodness. I think they've made all the changes that they're going to make to my body. No what it is, Scott, is that Brains has come up with the formula for a serum that all projections show would remove the nanites from my body without killing me in the process."
"Ah, I see," Scott replied. "And you're not sure that you want the nanites out of you anymore?"
"Exactly," John answered. "I don't know what to think, Scott. I don't really know what I want. A part of me wants them out, wants to be normal again. But at the same time I like these powers that I've got, Scott. I like my enhanced senses; I like the fact that I can be super strong in an instant."
"Sounds like you're in the classic catch-22 situation, John," Scott said. "You want to be normal, but you also like having what are basically superpowers."
"That is part of it. If this had come about a few weeks ago then I would have said for Brains to use the treatment on me without any hesitation. But now I'm not so sure I want him to even try getting the nanites out. But that's not all."
"I didn't think it was. Go on, John, what else is bothering you."
"Brains did say that the treatment he would use is not exactly without risks, Scott. The chemical structure of the serum he would make is extremely complex and has never been used on a human being before. Though simulations show that it would do its work without ill effect, I'm not so sure. You know as well as I that new drugs can have unpredictable effects on the biology of a living human being."
"All too well," Scott agreed, shivering as a memory surfaced. One of his friends in college had taken part in a drugs trial. The drug in question had been a new experimental treatment to prevent nerve degeneration and boost mental acuity. It would have offered hope to many people with nervous system disorders. But in the trial the drug had behaved in an unanticipated way, it had boosted mental acuity but it also attacked the body's vital organs, causing painful internal bleeding. A number of people in the trial - including his friend - had died as a result.
"We both know that Brains would do everything in his power to limit the risks," John continued. "But still..."
"Your worried about the potential side effects," Scott finished for him. John nodded. Scott sighed softly. "I can't give you any real advice here, John," he said. "At the end of the day the choice must be yours and yours alone. You know we will all stand by you whatever choice you make."
"I know, Scott. I know. I'm not used to making this kind of decision though. Have you got any advice at all?"
Scott considered for a moment. "The only thing I can tell you is, go with what your heart tells you to do," he said at last.
"That's the problem, Scott, I don't know what my heart wants to do," John replied with a sigh.
Scott was about to open his mouth to reply when there was a bright flash of light from outside, accompanied by a loud simultaneous bang. The sound made the room shudder around them as if gripped by an earthquake. At the same time, the lights that were on to counter the storms gloom went dead, and the soft swish of the air conditioning vanished. Both Tracy boys looked around in surprise for a moment before realising what must have happened.
"Lightning strike," John said, putting voice to what they both knew had happened.
"Yep," Scott agreed, standing up and stretching slightly. "Come on, John, let's go see if everyone's okay."
"If we can get out since all the doors are automatic," John replied, standing as well. "You know I never really got why all the doors in this place have to be automatic. Why couldn't we have some of the more traditional style doors?"
Scott shrugged. "It was the fashion at the time this place was built to have all doors automatic," Scott pointed out. "Though I see your point and I've wished for old style doors on a number of occasions. There's nothing more satisfying than slamming the door, especially when you're mad."
John laughed as he led the way over to the door. "That's true," he said. "Though that would have been a bit awkward when all this nanite stuff started, I could have ended up pulling the door off its hinges."
"True," Scott agreed as John tried to operate the door. Nothing happened when the button to unlock and open was pressed. Emergency power had to be down as well; else the door would have opened. "Try the manual release."
"Was just about to," John replied opening the panel gently. Inside, beneath the panel of circuitry that controlled the locking mechanism, was a small crank handle to manually open the door. Being careful due to his strength, John operated the mechanism and slowly but surely the door began to open, inch by inch. In no time at all he had opened it enough for them to get through. They both squeezed through the opened gap, and without speaking made their way along the hallway towards the living room.
It took Scott and John only a few minutes to reach the living room. The whole villa was in darkness, the only light being the light filtering in from outside. By they time they joined the others, Jeff and Brains were engaged in a deep discussion.
"Is everyone alright," Scott asked, looking around the room and frowning when he noticed that Rose looked a little shaken.
"Everyone's fine, Scott," Jeff answered, breaking off his conversation with Brains. "Brains and I were just discussing our loss of power, especially as it would take a major bolt to do this and knock out backup power as well."
"The bolt has probably blown the main breakers, Dad," John said. "Or else emergency power would have come on by now."
"John is r...r...right," Brains said consulting his PDA. "The r...r...remote link to the p...p...power management c...c...computer shows that the f...f...fusion plant is still p...p...producing power but n...n...none is reaching the villa or the Thunderbird h...h...hangers."
"Must have been a rogue lightning bolt to knock out power to both," Virgil commented from the piano. He had been in the middle of playing one of his favourite tunes when the power had gone. "But never mind that, we need to get power back. We can use the service tunnels to get to the power room."
"Take a look at it, Virgil," Jeff instructed. "See if you can get power back to the villa at least."
"Okay, Dad," Virgil replied, standing up.
"I'll come with you, Virg," John said, seizing, the chance to do something to take his mind of the dilemma he faced.
"Be careful down there you two," Jeff said. "The wristcom should still be working, so keep in touch."
"F-A-B, Dad," John and Virgil chorused in unison, before leaving the room and heading for the part of the house that served as an access point to the network of man made tunnels and ancient lava tubes that honeycombed the island.
Twelve Minutes Later
Virgil grunted as he used the manual control handle to open the door to the power room. As the door opened, a thin haze of smoke, rich with the acrid scent of fried circuits and melted plastic, drifted out. Whatever has been blown by the lightning induced power surge is in here, he thought slipping into the room and starting to scan the room with his torch. John followed him in and did the same thing.
Immediately they both knew that something wasn't right. Most of the circuit panels were still lit from within, the semi-transparent panels covering them showing that none of them were damaged.
"There's power still coming in but its just not leaving here," John said. "Whatever has blown is in here, but it's obviously not the breakers."
"Obviously not," Virgil agreed. "Okay, let's try the main panel, if no luck there, then we'll have to check all the power nodes one by one. I hope it's not one that would be a very awkward and messy repair job that would have to wait until the storm has passed."
"It's got to be something inside here," John said. While Virgil had been talking, he had gone over to the main control panel. Squatting down beside it he saw that some of the cooling air vents were charred where sparks and smoke had erupted. "Hold up the light for me, Virgil."
"Sure, John." Virgil moved over and held the torch up as John opened the metal panel with a screwdriver from the utility belt he had put on before coming down here. The panel came away easily and John shone his torch inside the console.
"Ah ha, found it," John said. "It looks like two of the main circuit boards have been burned out. Don't look like there is any other damage. The power surge must have backlashed through the system to fry the circuits. But why didn't it trip the breakers?"
"It should have," Virgil replied frowning. "Unless there is a fault with one of the breakers we can take a look at that in a minute. Shouldn't take us too long to replace these circuit boards, we have plenty of spares."
"True," John said. "Okay, I'll go to the storeroom and get some replacement circuit boards. You tell Dad what's going on, Virg."
"Okay, John then I'll look at the breakers."
A Few Minutes Later
Jeff signed off with Virgil and looked over at everyone else.
"Virgil and John have found the fault," he said. "It looks like the lightning strike caused a power surge which has fried the circuits in the main power control panel."
"The b...b...breakers should have p...p...prevented that," Brains replied with a puzzled frown. "Unless t...t...there was a fault."
"Virgil is going to check the breakers while John replaces the fried circuit boards," Jeff answered.
"Good some physical activity is just what John needs to distract himself from his current dilemma," Scott said.
"What do you mean, Scott," Jeff asked.
"I won't go into details but John is torn about what to do about the nanites, Dad, whether to keep them or try Brains' treatment to get rid of them," Scott explained.
"I take it that the two of you have been talking about it?" Scott nodded. "Well he doesn't have to make a decision yet, plus we'll support whatever decision he makes."
"I did tell him that. But he's still torn. I guess only time will tell what exactly he wants to do. In meantime the distraction of repair work will do him good."
Everyone gathered in the room nodded in agreement, but they all knew that John would not stop thinking about the nanites. He would think and argue with himself constantly until he made a decision what to do. They all agreed with Jeff though, they would support whatever decision John made about them.
Whatever that decision was.
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