Yes, I know that this isn't Fulcrum, for those who are awaiting an update, I heartily apologise for that, but I hope to get a chapter up within the next fortnight or so, Real Life permitting. This chapter is the first of a short multi-chapter, based heavily on events in the TBaG episode, 'Crosscut' and also makes reference to 'Ring of Fire: Part 2'. I'm hoping to get this completed in a fairly short timeframe, but if not, just bear with me, it will get finished, just depends, like always, on RL and whether the Tracys cooperate or not.
Many thanks to Lexie's services as beta-reader and co-writer for a few different bits of this; she's been an absolute gem to me these last few weeks, and I couldn't have gotten it together so quickly without her. Dedication also goes to Angel-Sue76, who, even though she's been a right little cheerleader for me on this, hasn't been all that well the last few days, so I figured she could use some cheering up.
I hope you all enjoy this first installment, and I intend to get my tushie back into fandom properly soon. I've missed you! :)
Thunderbirds Are Go is the property of ITV, Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, this is written purely for entertainment purposes, and I make no profit from this endeavour. (I just like bashing the Tracys around. *Grins*)
Virgil is pissed. He prides himself on his calmness, his patience, and it takes an awful lot to get him wound up, but today... he isn't happy. Watching, hidden in the shadows of Thunderbird Two, as Scott bids International Rescue's official farewell to Marion Van Arkel, handing her into the care of Colonel Casey's medical officers, Virgil can't help but glower as he thinks about his older brother's behaviour on this rescue, and the most recent one in Taipei a week ago.
Upon climbing into the workroom of the solar collector's support tower, Scott had seemingly, completely forgotten to use Thunderbird One as an anchor, to prevent himself getting caught and therefore crushed by the bowl of the receptor as it had tumbled down the mountainside. With Scott having lasered the heavy construct from its foundations in a last-ditch attempt to save the city, he had been saved only by his own lightning-quick reflexes in getting the supersonic 'Bird to catch his fall, Virgil had been afraid that he'd gone and lost his brother then, for sure. However, he'd let it go, hoping that it was a one-off incident.
Obviously, he'd been mistaken, with what's happened today. It's ridiculously stupid, Virgil almost can't believe it himself, the thought that Scott has the potential to be such an utter fool!
Yeah, sure, Virgil has to admit that his brother has shouldered a lot of responsibility since their father's disappearance - all of them have - but Scott's reckless behaviour is really starting to get on his nerves. Virgil will never confront his brother's conduct directly, not on a rescue, and risk undermining the cohesive front of the outfit, but he is definitely going to today, when they get back home. He's tried to understand that Scott's idiot behaviour was just getting in the way of his safety because his brother's sense of duty occasionally outweighs that of self-preservation - stupid, though admittedly easy to do - but today, Scott has just gone too far.
First, he'd refused to wait until Virgil had been here for back-up before going down the mineshaft proper, without the appropriate harness and climbing gear, to boot. But then, having blatantly ignored John's advice to stay put and wait for Virgil inside, even though he was quickly running out of grapple packs, Scott had descended further, with absolutely no idea how he was going to get back up again. He hadn't even been wearing proper protective gear, the goddamned idiot! Yes, their uniforms have built-in anti-radiation shielding, as well as the additional helmet and breathing gear, but their normal, open-fingered grip-gloves allow exposure to any number of radioactive gases and dusts, and Scott just hadn't double checked his gear. Even though it had been originally just a look-and-seal job, it still should've been done!
Even with all of that, and the overall risks that Brains had outlined, Virgil had needed to break Scott off from actively arguing with that madwoman, even after the man had been told to be as quick as he possibly could!
They hadn't known what to expect on this one; neither himself, Scott or John, and the fact that Scott had ignored all of their warnings - in the face of radiation exposure and in a crumbling, abandoned and contaminated mine, to top it all off - if Scott had fallen off that final ledge he'd tried to swing to, as he'd not had a spotter for the descent, Virgil would never had found his brother's body. The thought terrifies him.
Virgil doesn't mind being the back-up - adding auxiliary options to the overall rescue effort is Thunderbird Two's purpose, after all, and he's proud to identify so closely with his lady; metaphorical kitchen sink included - but he doesn't like the insinuation that he's expected to create his own back-up plans just to clean up any messes Scott makes because he was being a moron and not adhering to safety precautions! Yes, Virgil is infinitely glad that he'd been able to get the Mole into place in time to allow himself to catch Scott and Marion before they became Humpty Dumpties on the cavern floor, but seriously; once again, Virgil's oldest brother could have been damn well killed, and that scares the wits off of him!
Once was perhaps forgivable, twice was pushing it. Virgil isn't going to let it happen a third time!
Watching as said brother walks towards him and the 'Birds, Virgil fights down his annoyance and flashes Scott a smile, taking in the still relatively-clean uniform and the grimy, dust-covered boots his brother is wearing.
"She seems to have calmed down a lot." He murmurs. "Shame about that mech robot of hers though, definitely buried among the scraps now."
Scott nods, glancing back over his shoulder, as the helicopter takes off, en-route now to transport Marion to the closest hospital equipped for radiation testing and decontamination. Scott's little surprise for The Hood is packed safely away on board, for delivery via Colonel Casey herself. "Unfortunately. It was a strong bit of machinery, packs a real wallop, I'm one big bruise." He says, rubbing his stomach ruefully, "But it's for the best. I'm sure as hell not going back down there in a hurry."
Virgil nods in fervent agreement, patting his brother firmly on the arm. "I'll say, Scott," He says, watching the diminishing 'copter as it vanishes into the horizon. "C'mon. Let's get you through decontamination and then we'll go and debrief, and we might finally get some lunch."
"Sure, Virgil." Scott nods wearily, shooting an amused glance at him. "You and your bottomless pit stomach need to be fed, hmm?"
"Shut up." Virgil smirks, turning away from Scott as his brother moves towards Thunderbird One, limping slightly. "Yours is no different to mine, Mr. Food Disposal Unit. I'm checking out that leg of yours too, Scott... And don't think you're getting out of it either!"
"Speak for yourself, Virg." Scott chuckles, the insufferable ass. "I don't doubt it. I'll see you back at the island."
"FAB," Virgil sighs, turning briskly towards Thunderbird Two, and heads up towards the cockpit, throwing a glance towards the now-sealed uranium mine that has caused all of today's problems as he goes. It looks as if it never existed: flattened and covered in packed dirt as it is. It mixes so well with its surroundings that Virgil feels confident that no-one will ever be able to find it again, even if they try. That's somewhat reassuring.
Having removed his own helmet, feeling 'Two rumble to life - essentially idling at the kerb as Thunderbird One rises rapidly into the sky - Virgil watches as 'One turns gracefully, hovering a few hundred feet above the ground, her red nose-cone angled to the south-west in a general homeward direction. Eyeing the altitude marker - tracking the rising distance between the two craft in order to avoid any sort of potential mid-air accidents - Virgil takes the wait-time to ensure that 'Two is properly lowered and locked securely over Pod Two, buckling his harness with one hand, as he shifts through system updates and analysis on the touchpad with the fingertips of the other.
With a chirruping sound, as Scott and Thunderbird One streak away, Virgil's comm. screen blinks into life, and his second-eldest brother appears, John's vivid, cerulean eyes warm despite the twist of his mouth. Virgil raises his eyebrows; his older brother looks distinctly unimpressed, much like Virgil himself.
"He no worse for wear then?" John queries dryly, referring to a conversation the two had half an hour earlier, when Virgil had reported that Scott and Marion were both out of the mine and apparently unhurt. They both know that if they don't observe Scott carefully, their brother will pretend that he is fine just so he doesn't worry his younger siblings, more fool him, Virgil thinks ruefully.
"I think he's bruised himself up pretty badly in the tussle with that mech; he's limping a bit," Virgil comments, leaning back in his pilot's seat and rubbing his face wearily. "So I'll check him over, drag him screaming and kicking into the infirmary if I have to, but otherwise, he seems fine, so far anyway."
"Well that's a relief," John exhales. "He's got me worried though; that radiation level was alarming in itself, how quickly it spiked, and how high his monitor went, so fast..."
Unusually, John's face is anxious, and biting his lip as he nods, bringing Thunderbird Two easily into the air, Virgil flicks his gaze back towards his older brother, swallowing roughly.
"I know, John." He acknowledges quietly. "I know, and believe me, I'm going to watch him so closely the next few days he's likely going to hate me, but I'm not going to let this slide, it's too serious to let him try and brush it off. And we know he will. I just hope to God his suit was enough to shield him... He and that Marion woman were both in there far too long for that kind of reading..." Virgil rakes his hand through his hair, worry rising rapidly as he considers the consequences of his brother's lack of judgment. It's frightening to contemplate.
"Too right, Virg," John replies, "Way too long for him to go unscathed. I'm afraid he's going to get at least some form of radiation sickness... but... Big Brother certainly doesn't listen, does he?"
"No." Virgil says shortly, setting 'Two on a course for Tracy Island, with a tweaking of the steering column and a quick check of his instruments. "He doesn't, and you're right, he's going to get sick, I was... kidding myself when I thought that he was going to somehow avoid it but... I just... I just hope that he gets home safe, and that it... it's pretty mild..."
"You and me both," John says grimly, his mouth compressing into a tight line. "But I'm afraid it doesn't look good, Virg. I'm no expert, but Brains and I were conferencing while you two were packing up, and we're gonna have to suspend Scott from calls for a few weeks at least, depending on how badly his body reacts to this... I mean, Brains is pretty confident in the potential of the suits, but still, even with the shielding, that dose was nearly five thousand times the strength of what we get from background radiation sources, he's going to have copped a reasonable dose, Virg... What kind of fucking moron doesn't wear his protective gloves!?" John bursts out angrily, startling Virgil. It's rare the light-haired Space Monitor shouts. Or swears, for that matter. Johnny must be upset.
Who is he kidding? Virgil snorts. Of course John is upset; he's upset. Their brother is unbelievable!
"Exactly the question I intend to ask him, when I cop hold of him at home, John." Virgil bites out, releasing some of his held-back fury. "Haven't we lost enough of our family already in Mom and Grandpa? Haven't we given enough to our cause, dedicating our lives as we have, and having Dad disappear? We don't need to lose our eldest brother too, especially when it's through his own fucking stupidity." He runs his hand through his hair, raking it back in frustration. "I know that's worse-case scenario, but... part of Scott as we knew him is already AWOL, do we have to lose the whole package? Do you fancy being the oldest, Johnny?"
"Don't snap at me, Virgil," John says mildly, his own jaw tight. "I'm just as frustrated with him as you are, but right now we need to focus on priorities. The first thing we need to do is make sure Dumbass down there gets home in one piece, so I'm gonna go and keep an eye on him, and you just follow as safely as you can, on the off-chance you need to go fish him out of the ocean, alright? Then, once he's been through decontamination, and we've got him somewhat comfortable - because with this level of exposure, according to Brains, Scott will start showing definitive symptoms within the next four to six hours at the most - we can then proceed to rip his head off."
"Agreed." Virgil huffs, grimacing in apology to his brother and fighting down a renewed surge of frustration. "Let me know if I have to come scoop him out of the drink, would you? ETA to Base, 47.57 minutes from... mark."
"FAB, Thunderbird Two," John acknowledges wearily with a teasing salute as he turns to his holoscreen. "'Five out."
All Virgil can do as his second brother leaves him alone is blink back hot, frightened tears and grip the steering column with white knuckles, praying with all his heart that they'll get Scott through this unscathed. Biting his lip in agitation, he finds himself cursing his oldest sibling with words that would get him a nasty whack with Grandma's wooden spoon if she could hear him.
It's all he can do to hope that there'll not be a 'worst case scenario'. Not this time...