Thirty Minutes Later
Scott Tracy frowned in annoyance as he tried to scan the old abandoned mine and an equally long abandoned town with Thunderbird One's sensors. No matter what scanning profile he tried to use to locate exactly where inside the mine the two kids were nothing worked, the residual metal ores in the surrounding rock where disrupting his sensor scans too much, all the scans that came back from the mine were being reduced to meaningless electronic haze. Great we'll be going in there blind, he thought with a sigh of irritation, that's sure going to make our job that little bit tougher than it was already going to be.
Scott sighed again and changed his scan focus to a normal ground scan, first order of business now was to find somewhere for both Thunderbird One and Thunderbird Two to land. After a moment the scan results came back and Scott smiled. While the forest that dominated much of the Rockies was reclaiming the ghost town around the abandoned mine the main street was still relatively clear aside from grass and a few bushes here and there, tearing up through the decaying, disintegrating tarmac. There was plenty of room there for both Thunderbird machines to land. Indeed a small forestry service helicopter was already parked there; the scan revealed four people standing outside it. Probably two of the forest service people and the parents of the kids, who are stuck in the mine, Scott thought as he manoeuvred Thunderbird One into position over his chosen landing site. As soon as he was happy with his position he moved the wings into landing position, lowered and locked the landing gear and then engaged the VTOL jets. Thunderbird One descended from her natural element and set down on the ground with the softest of shudders. Scott smiled and put almost all his 'birds systems in stand by mode though naturally he left the stealth systems and recently added anti-theft systems on full power. Then he flicked on the radio.
"Thunderbird One to base and Thunderbird Two," he said and immediately the communications screen lit up with the images of Brains and Virgil.
"G...g...go ahead Scott," Brains replied a millisecond before Virgil said the something just without the stutter.
"I've landed at the Danger Zone, the reception committee is waiting for me," Scott answered. "I'll have Mobile Control up and running in a few more minutes. What's your ETA Virgil?" For a moment Virgil did not respond his eyes directed down away from the camera pickup and Scott knew that he would be consulting his instruments. After a moment Virgil looked back up at the camera.
"I make my ETA at fifteen minutes Scott," Virgil said at last.
"F-A-B, Virgil," Scott acknowledged. "Brains I've noticed that there is a lot of residual metal ores in the rocks around the abandoned mine. It did on half screw up my scanners. Will it affect our communications at all?"
"Y...y...you will need to p...p...place signal b...b...boosters every ten m...m...metres when you're in the mine," Brains answered. "Transmission will be audio o...o...only and there might be a d...d...degree of w...w...white noise interference d...d...depending on w...w...what ores t...t...there are but you w...w...will be able to talk to each other."
"F-A-B, Brains," Scott replied. "We'll let you know when we're about to start the rescue operation."
"F-A-B, Scott," Brains answered. Scott smiled and then broke the connections to both Command and Control back on Tracy Island and Thunderbird Two. Then he stood up and headed back to the storage compartments at the rear of Thunderbird One's cockpit to get out his helmet and the complex piece of apparatus known as Mobile Control.
Jay Masuki gently pulled his terrified wife Alexandra into as comforting embrace as he could muster while they waited for the International Rescue man to emerge from the recently landed Thunderbird. Alexandra's normally calm features were streaked with tears as her exceptionally bright mind kept bringing up every possible scenario that could lead to the deaths of their boys.
"It will be alright dear," he said putting every ounce of reassurance he had into the statement. "International Rescue will rescue Chip and Danny from the mine, you'll see."
"What if they can't Jay," Alexandra asked her voice shaking with barely contained emotions. "What if there is a cave in? Our boys would..." her voice trailed off into a sob and she buried her head in Jay's chest sobbing softly.
"Don't think like that," Jay replied gently stroking Alexandra's long black hair in a reassuring manner. "International Rescue have pulled people out of far worse situations than the ones our reckless, adventurous kids have got themselves into."
"I hope you're right," Alexandra's voice muffled by his shirt replied. So do I, Jay thought to himself glancing at Thunderbird One again, just in time to see a tall figure carrying what looked almost like a trunk case emerge from the machine. Even though his vision was sharp Jay couldn't make out precise details of the figure in the heat haze, though he could tell that the figure was coming right towards them and the two passing forestry workers whose helicopter had come to investigate when he'd set off an emergency flare to get their attention.
Scott walked up to the gathered people immediately being able to tell the parents from the forestry service personnel and not just by the lack of uniforms. The posture of the hugging parents screamed worried to him as would their body odours if he hadn't had his helmet on which reduced his sense of smell to a more normal range not the enhanced sense of smell he was used to as a werewolf.
As he reached the gathering beside the helicopter one of the forestry personnel smiled at him. Scott read the officer's nametag and inwardly smiled when he saw that the surname was Archer. Man John's going to like seeing someone with that name, he thought to himself knowing that his immediately younger brother had been a Star Trek fan since he was a kid, mostly because it was set in deep space. John had been especially fond of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.
"Glad that you're here," the officer with the Archer nametag said. "Scott isn't it?"
"Yes," Scott replied knowing that Archer had read his uniform nametag, which gave his first name only. "Has there been any change in the situation in the mine?"
"No," Archer answered as Scott put down his case and opened it and took of first the stand for Mobile Control and started setting it up. "The mine is dangerously unstable though. I don't understand how those boys were able to rip away the boards over the entrance."
"How they got in there doesn't really matter now," Scott said as he put his case down and opened it before taking out the stand that he would set Mobile Control up on.
"True," Archer replied. "We just have to get them out of there. I can tell you that you're going to have your work cut out for you accomplishing that task. The kids are trapped by a partial collapse of the roof in the main tunnel. The tunnel is blocked by fallen beams and rock debris."
"Do you have any idea how far into the tunnel the collapse is," Scott asked as he finished setting up the stand and the seat, then started taking out the components of Mobile Control itself and setting them up.
"I cannot be sure but I think it's about twenty to twenty five metres into the main tunnel," Archer replied.
"I see," Scott answered. "It is going to be difficult but do not worry we will get those kids out of there."
"Will you," Jay asked trying but failing to keep the fear for the safety of his beloved sons out of his voice.
"Yes," Scott reassured the worried man. "We will."
Fifteen Minutes Later
Scott looked up from Mobile Control as the familiar sound of Thunderbird Two's engines filled the air, the sound echoing oddly in the mountainous terrain of the Rockies. Spooked by the sudden noise flocks of local birds took to the skies crying out their agitation. The echoing made it difficult for Scott to pinpoint the source of the sound so instead he waited.
After a few moments Thunderbird Two appeared from behind a nearby peak the mighty green machine looking insignificant compared to the vast, untamed wilderness of the Rockies. Scott watched as she came in over the clearing and with screaming VTOL jets and gust of warm air, landed with an easy grace that belied her size next to Thunderbird One. Right on time Virgil, he thought a few seconds before a warning buzzer sounded from the giant transport aircraft and she began to rise up on her powerful hydraulic legs, simultaneously lowering her primary pod bay into position to deploy. The buzzer cut off and for a moment nothing more happened then the pod bay door lowered and with a soft humming sound three hoversleds emerged from Thunderbird Two and headed in the direction of Mobile Control.
As his brothers closed on his position Scott smiled behind his helmet even as their approach triggered that strange sixth sense that all werewolves had, the sense that allowed them to tell another of their kind from normal humans. After a second the buzzing in his ears vanished as the three hoversleds pulled up in front of Mobile Control and Virgil, John and Gordon dismounted.
"Hi guys," Scott said in greeting.
"Hello Scott," Virgil replied. "What's the situation in the mine? Have you been able to work up a plan of action."
"The situation in the mine is very serious Virgil," Scott answered and carefully but concisely outlined the situation in the mine that Archer had told him. "Unfortunately I haven't really been able to come up with a plan of action. The residual ores in the rocks are really mucking up our scanners and they'll interfere with communications as well. I have spoken to Brains about it we will have to use signal boosters inside the mine placing them every ten metres to keep in half decent contact."
"Great," John commented mentally making a note to speak to Brains about it whenever they got home, provided it wasn't too late. There had to be something they could do to resolve that annoying problem with the sensors and the fact that certain metal ores caused them to go blind. He knew Brains had been working on the problem intermittently for the last month, though naturally the bulk of his attention was focused on remotely supervising the robots repairing and refitting Thunderbird Five.
"Indeed," Gordon agreed. "Looks like we're going to have to just eyeball this one though our equipment will easily get those boys out of there. I just hope they learn something from this, old mines are not places to play in."
"We can but hope," Virgil agreed. "But what are we waiting for? Let's go."
"Good luck in there guys keep in touch," Scott instructed.
"F-A-B, Scott," John, Virgil and Gordon answered almost in unison as they climbed back aboard their hoversleds and started their journey towards the abandoned mine. Once those kids are out of there I'll see what I can do to seal the entrance with Thunderbird One's missiles, Scott thought, be a whole lot safer than just boarding it back up.
John took the lead as the three hoversleds he and his brothers were riding moved into single file formation. Slowly he led the way into the mine and turned the lights on to see where they were going. In the darkness of the abandoned mine or any other mine, their natural ability to see perfectly in the dark was useless, in these places they needed artificial light to see where they were going, just like normal humans did.
John made sure that he kept his speed down to just above a crawl, the powerful beams from the hoversleds revealed that the main passage of the mine was in bad condition. There was debris from the roof everywhere and many of the support beams looked badly rotten and they could fall at anytime. Every now and again the beams emitted a worrying creaking sound and John faintly heard the sound of running water. Looks like an underground stream or river has broken into the mine somewhere, John thought, it would certainly explain why this place is so unstable.
"Man what an unpleasant place," Gordon said. "Am I imagining the sound of running water?"
"Not unless we all are," Virgil replied. "It's coming from below us as well. A river or stream must have broken into the mine. That would explain the collapse that has trapped those boys and why this place is so dangerously unstable."
"It would," John agreed slowing his hoversled to a stop. "We're at the first position point for the signal boosters. Who has the first signal booster unit?"
"I do," Gordon replied and stopped his hoversled before climbing off it and retrieving a small rectangular object from a rear storage compartment. Moving over to the side of the mine he carefully placed the signal booster in position and extended its small aerial and pressed a button on the side activating it. "Signal booster activated."
"F-A-B, Gordon," John replied. "John to Mobile Control can you hear us Scott."
"Yes I can John," Scott answered instantly. "The signals not fantastic but its ok. Proceed with the mission."
After another few moments they reached the two trapped children. They heard them before they saw them, both of them were whimpering from a mixture of pain and fear. The kids weren't immediately visible to them, hidden by an almost complete blockage of the mine tunnel. Only the very top of the tunnel was clear.
"Doesn't look too bad," Gordon commented. "We'll be able to get through this in short order."
"Hello," a high thin voice called from the other side of the blockage.
"Hello," John called back. "Don't be afraid we're here to get you out of there. What's your name?"
"Chip. Please mister help us, my brother Danny is hurt."
"Don't worry Chip," John replied reassuringly. "We're from International Rescue, we'll soon have you out of here." For a second there was silence from Chip, but from behind himself John heard Gordon and Virgil setting up the equipment they would be using to safely dissolve the debris and rescue the trapped boys. After a moment Chip spoke again awe in his voice.
"You guys really are Thunderbirds?"
"Yes we are," John replied. "Just sit tight Chip. We will have you out of there soon."
John moved away from where he was standing and looked at Gordon and Virgil to find that they had finished setting up the particle lance that they would be using to clear the debris. The device was a new invention of Brains designed to be used in these situations and was based on the same particle beam technology as the Thunderizer. Brains had only been able to miniaturise the components and beam generator very recently as his research into miniaturisation and nanotechnology began to play dividends. This was only the second time they would be using the particle lance in the field. So John was feeling a little nervous about using it.
"Are we ready guys," he asked.
"Ready John," Virgil replied.
"Okay then. Let's do this, activate the machine Virgil."
"F-A-B, John." Virgil reached out and pressed the control to activate the particle lance. Immediately there came a soft humming sound from the machine, the humming sound increased in pitch and power.
The tip of the particle lance began to glow with a reddish white light, and then a broad fan-like energy beam shot out of the device and hit the top of the fallen debris. Instantly the rocks and pebbles disintegrated, dissolving into oblivion under the power of the specifically modulated particle beam. The beam swept down the virtual mountain of rubble, in seconds it had all been eliminated, wiped away as if it had never been. Immediately the particle lance shut down and the mist created by the dissolving debris cleared. And there directly ahead were the two scared and dirty boys.
Both did not look to be in a very good way, aside from both being very dirty from the finer particulate dust and dirt that had been thrown up by the collapse, they were both injured. The older of the two had a small but nasty cut on his forehead with a line of dried blood running down the side of his head. The younger boy was sitting on the floor, cradling his right leg his dirty features awash with tears and contorted in pain. Without waiting for any signal John went forward with Gordon and accessed the injuries of Chip and Danny.
Surprisingly the boys were not too badly injured although both were understandably shaken up from what had happened to them. The worst injury was to Danny whose right leg was broken in two places with a degree of soft tissue damage in the surrounding muscle as well. Chip was hardly hurt beyond the minor cut on his forehead. Gently John cleaned the cut while Gordon put a splint on Danny's leg, the movements making Danny start crying again.
"Its okay Chip," John said when Chip started to move forward. "Gordon isn't hurting your brother. He's putting a splint on his leg so we can safely move him." Chip reluctantly nodded as John finished cleaning his cut. "There you go all done. We will get you both out of here and back to your parents shortly."
"Are they mad at us," Chip asked.
"More worried than anything else," John answered. "They'll be delighted just to have the pair of you back." Chip nodded obviously not convinced but John knew he was right, Chip and Danny's parents would be just happy that their boys were safe.
Any parents would be.
Fifteen Minutes Later
Scott watched from Mobile Control as Thunderbird Two lifted off the ground amid a scream of VTOL jets. Onboard her was his brothers, Chip and Danny and their mother Alexandra. She would be accompanying her two children to the hospital that Virgil would take them to in Denver before beginning the return flight to Tracy Island.
Scott smiled then turned his attention back to Mobile Control. With familiar motions he powered the unit down and began the task of disassembling it. He was almost done when someone cleared their throat behind him.
"Excuse me," Jay said from where he had walked up behind Scott. Scott paused in his task and turned to look at the father of the two boys they had just rescued.
"Yes sir?" Scott asked.
"I'm just about to leave with the forest service personnel," Jay replied offering his hand. "But before I go I wanted to thank you for pulling my sons out of the danger they got themselves into."
"Our pleasure," Scott answered taking the offered hand and shaking it. Jay was mildly surprised by the strength of Scott's grip but after a moment mentally shrugged it off, it made sense that Scott would be stronger than he looked. Given his line of work he would have to workout a lot to keep fit, Jay had to himself as he made his own living as a fireman in Denver. Jay released Scott's hand and lowered his arm.
"Are you going to do something about that mine," Jay asked. "Its dangerous how it is."
"Yes," Scott replied. "But just leave that to me. You go with the forest service personnel. When you return to claim your camper van you will fine the mine sealed for good." Jay nodded and walked away towards the waiting helicopter. Scott watched him go then returned his attention to disassembling Mobile Control.
Five Minutes Later
Scott smiled as he brought Thunderbird One into a stationary hover over the now empty Danger Zone. The red nose cone at the front of the turboscram powered aircraft pointing right at the mine. Time to seal the mine so no one else becomes trapped in there, Scott thought as he armed Thunderbird One's weapons systems. Cycling through his available ordinance Scott found the right missile to do the job, he locked onto the mine and fired.
A hatch opened on the underside of Thunderbird One and a small missile dropped clear before speeding towards the mine. It impacted the rock face just above the opening of the mine and detonated throwing up a massive cloud of dust, pulverised rock and smoke.
Scott waited until the cloud had cleared and smiled as he was that the mine entrance was gone, completely sealed off behind a landslide of rock and fallen trees. No one would ever get trapped in that old abandoned mine again. Scott smiled then moved Thunderbird One higher into the air and set course to rendezvous with Thunderbird Two over Denver, then they would begin the journey home to Tracy Island.
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