Okay, this is something completely new. New story, new character, a humongous amount of words per chapter for my doing. I don't suppose there are a lot of Thunderbirds fans around here, especially those who have watched the original puppet series, which I love more than any other, but this story is for all those who love Thunderbirds in some way. I hope the readers of this story will enjoy this classic adventure with a twist. Please let me know what you think.
Lady Penelope was enjoying her nightcap after a tiresome evening. She thoroughly enjoyed her birthday party and she had no problem entertaining her guests, but she felt spent after such a night. She was sure to sleep in the next morning and she had asked Parker to let her do just that.
A soft rap on the door grabbed her attention and setting her drink down she turned to the door. "Yes Parker?" she asked, seeing as it could only be him. She smiled tiredly as he opened the door. Her friend and butler looked to be asleep on his feet. Poor Parker.
"There is a phone call for you m'lady. It's your niece." he relayed, making the tired lady perk up instantly. "Oh, how wonderful. Please put her through on the videophone Parker." she requests before checking her hair for any flaws. "Yes, m'lady."
Lady Penelope remembers her niece fondly, though she's not really her niece by blood. Sybil Harper is the daughter of an old friend and started calling her aunt Penny very early on. She never did mind, she rather liked the title actually. But the little girl has grown much since then and her adventurous spirit takes her all over the world, taking any odd research job she can get. Lady Penelope wonders where the young woman could be now.
A moment later, she turns to the screen by the mantle to face the bright smile of a young woman, lighted by a flashlight of sorts, making her squint her emerald eyes slightly. The rim of a hard hat covers half her forehead. "Oh, Sybil dear. How good to see you." Lady Penelope coos before noticing the woman's surroundings. She raises a delicate brow. "Where on Earth are you?"
"Surprise!" the woman calls out, followed by an echo. "Happy birthday aunt Penny from the most magnificent place in the world! I'm sorry to call on you so late, but this setting is much more beautiful than any boring base camp, don't you agree?" the woman asks, as she leans back, showing the depth below her. Next she leans forward to reveal a break in the rock, showing off a clear blue sky. "I just had to wait a little to be able to show you."
It's a cave, the lady deducts. And her niece is hanging from a thin rope in the middle of that gaping maw in the surface of the Earth, the bottom far beyond her feet to reach. Sybil must have mounted a communication device on her helmet to pull this call off. She's very bright, but sometimes too reckless for Lady Penelope's taste.
Lady Penelope grips at her heart in fright. "That is awfully deep my dear. How frightful. Again, I must ask; where are you?"
"I'm in Aquismon, Mexico. We're researching the fauna to see if any changes have taken place since the last research team was here a few years ago. We heard that a certain type of bat has taken residence here that wasn't here before." Sybil explains full of vigor and excitement.
"I see." Lady Penelope muses. "I suppose professor Bernstein has partnered up with you then?" she guesses. "You have guessed correctly." her niece giggles. "And I suppose it is not possible to find a partner more of your own age, who…might suit your interest?" the lady continues with an obvious hint, making the girl chuckle. "I'm afraid not aunt Penny. This world is full of old men I'm afraid."
Lady Penelope shakes her head with an amused smile. "When you get back here, I'm going to arrange a date for you and that is that. You need to hang around with more people your own age dear. You can't marry a monkey or a bat after all." she states, making the other woman grin cheekily. "Who says I can't?"
Lady Penelope is just about to give the woman a proper scolding when Sybil's smile is replaced by a look of horror and the wall behind her passes by her quickly before coming to an abrupt stop. The young woman releases a high squeal. "Sybil, what just happened?!" Lady Penelope asks urgently, nearly jumping to her feet. "I just dropped a meter or so." is the reply she gets. "It was so sudden, I was caught unprepared."
Sybil breathes out a sigh of relief, her face turning a bit red before she glares towards the mouth of the cave above her. "Professor, what in the world are you doing?! You just about gave me a heart-attack!" she calls out.
"Professor?!" she calls out after a moment after receiving no reply. "That's odd." she states more to herself than her aunt. "Is everything all right?" Lady Penelope asks, growing more concerned.
Sybil smiles assuringly at the lady. "I'm sure it's nothing. Another animal probably distracted him, I'm sure. He does that sometimes." she chuckles. However, Lady Penelope is not amused. "I had rather he watches out for you."
Before more can be said, a sound very familiar to Lady Penelope's ears reaches her; the sound of gunshots. She watches as her niece looks up and past her towards the sky with a startled look. "Professor!" she shouts, worried now.
Lady Penelope watches as the young women makes to climb up, but makes her stop in her tracks. "Do not go up there Sybil! It is not safe! Make yourself scarse, quick!" she orders the young woman who looks up still, shock and terror written in her eyes. "Too late." she states in a shaky voice.
"What do you mean?! What is happening Sybil?!" the normally composed woman urges loudly and distressed. Her raised voice drew the attention of Parker, who steps into the room looking worried, and with arms. "M'lady?"
Sybil screams before clasping her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide like one of the lady's fine porcelain saucers. "Sybil?!" Lady Penelope urges, wanting to know what is happening. "They threw the professor down into the cave." Sybil replies shakily. "I think he's dead."
"Who are they Sybil?!" Lady Penelope asks hurriedly, but receives no reply as a voice in Spanish echoes around the cave. Sybil looks up silently at the speaker before shaking her head rather violently. "Por pavor…" she begs. "No lo haga! No lo sabiamos!"
She receives only a short reply before her eyes turn to her aunt with a pleading and frightened look. "Aunt Penny… I think I'm going to die." she states, a lone tear streaking across her face.
"No you will not! Hang on Sybil!" she orders. She is met with a whimper however. "I don't think that it's up to me." she states, before Lady Penelope sees the rope that holds her niece up slacken slightly. She is forced to watch the now pale face of the promising young woman grow tight as terror draws her in. No scream sounds, she doesn't seem able to open her mouth at all, the muscles in her jaw clenched tight.
A sickening thud shakes the two in the room of the London mansion. The videophone is black for a moment before the flashlight flickers back to life. They stare at the lower half of Sybil's face, the hardhead with the camera now misplaced.
Penny draws in a sigh of relief when her niece's lips quiver slightly. "Sybil?" she asks, wondering if she can still be heard. It takes a moment, but the lips part finally. "Aunt Penny?" It is barely a breath, but it was more then the lady hoped to expect.
She turns to Parker, her eyes wide and filled with determination. "Parker, get International Rescue on the line and have the car driven up front. We're heading for the airport." she orders coolly. "Mister Tracy is already on line two m'lady. I'll have the car ready in a jiffy." he states, turning on his heals and hurrying out of the room.
Lady Penelope buries her face in her hands for a moment, gathering herself. Thank the Lord for Parker, thinking ahead like he does.
Not much needed to be said for Jeff Tracy to send his sons off to Mexico. Since their target is underground, he asked for Virgil to take the Mole with him on Thunderbird two. Meanwhile, Scott already took off. As a first responder, he was going to assess the situation.
Jeff was worried though. It was the shooting. Who did the shooting? And why? Also, were they still in the area, potentially a threat to his son's lives? Just in case they needed the manpower, he asked Gordon and Alan to go with Virgil, so they could guard the area while their brothers worked to rescue Lady Penelope's niece.
"I don't suppose Aquismon has only one cave?" Jeff wonders out loud. "N-no. T-there must be at least a h-h-dozen." Brains replies. "So how do we know which one she's in?" Jeff asks the scientist.
"O-oh. Well, there are only a few interesting enough for b-biologists like professor Bernstein, so that narrows it down a bit. It w-would help though if she would t-tell us though. To save time." Brains says. "If only it was p-possible to contact her."
"Hey, doesn't Lady Penelope still have contact with her?" John asks, making his father look at the screen to face his son. "Do you have an idea?" he asks hopeful. John nods. "I think I could intercept and relay the transmission. That way, we'll have contact with her directly." he suggests. "Good thinking John. Get on it. And once you've done that, can you see if you can pick up any other signals nearby? We need to know if the coast is clear." John nods. "F.A.B. father."
It takes a moment, but John just about cheers as he intercepts the transmission between Lady Penelope and her niece. He opens it up, only to be faced with a worrying sight. He can't see much of this woman, but the lower half of her face. A nasty bruise is forming on her cheek.
John bites his lip for a moment, trying to remember what Lady Penelope calls the woman. "Ah." he breathes, remembering now. "Sybil? Miss Sybil? Are you awake? This is International Rescue. If you can speak, please say something." he urges.
He sees her twitch before her head turns slightly. "Please don't move miss Sybil. We don't know the state of your health." John urges. His words help, because she stops moving after that.
"Miss Sybil, can you tell us which cave you are in? We need to know if we are to reach you quickly." John gently urges, understanding that the woman rather not speaks, but she really must. "Swallow…" she hisses, her mouth distorting in a painful grimace. "Cave of the Swallows." she finally replies. John smiles at the small victory.
"Great. Anyway, help is on the way, do you understand?" he asks. She nearly nods, but thinks better of it. "Understood. Thank you." she just about whispers.
"John." Jeff speaks up, having followed the conversation, if one could call it that. "Scott should be nearly on sight. Perhaps you better put her through to him when he is." he suggests, earning a nod from the blonde. "Now how about those other signals?" his father urges.
John checks, but sees none. "The nearest ones are miles away, but that doesn't mean the sight is completely empty. It only means that there is no active communication. The guys better watch their backs anyway." he says. "Understood John. Let me know if anything changes." "Sure thing."
Jeff turns to the picture of his eldest son, calling him. "Scott, she's in the Cave of the Swallows. How long do you need to reach the site?" he asks. "Not long now father. E.T.A. is ten minutes." he relays. Jeff nods. "Good. John will put up communications between you and Sybil. That way you can learn what you need to know directly from her. I suppose it will keep her busy as well. I don't doubt she is in great pain after such a fall. It would do her good to get her mind off it." Scott nods. "F.A.B. Leave me to it."
Sybil blinks tiredly. She feels horrible to say the least, but it's bearable as long as she doesn't move. Sweat gathers at every nook and cranny on her face, making it itch as dust settles on it. She wishes she could wipe it away, but is too scared to. She hopes help arrives soon or she'll go mad.
"Miss Sybil?" the voice of the International Rescue organization calls out once again from her communication device. She's so glad she created that little knick-knack. If she hadn't, no one would know she was down here. It also helps to have someone talking to her. Whoever that guy is, he sure sounds nice.
"Yes?" she answers to her best ability. Whenever she speaks, she feels her ribs move in an uncomfortable way. She definitely broke one or two.
"My buddy is nearly there. You should be able to hear Thunderbird 1 any minute now." he says, making her listen carefully. "I think I do." she says, hearing a silent roar of an engine, but it's getting closer. "Good. Now I will make sure you will be able to speak to each other once he's set up. Answer his questions as best as you can and we will do anything we can to get you out there safely." "Alright." she complies. "Good. I will keep track, but in case we don't speak again, good luck I say." She manages the tiniest of smiles, but John catches it. "Thank you. Heaven knows I'll need it."
"Alright Scott, she's all yours." John says when his brother finishes setting up mobile control, all the while keeping a lookout for unwanted strangers. "Got it. Thanks John." he replies before receiving John's relayed transmission.
"Miss Sybil. This is Thunderbird 1. Can you hear me?" he asks. "I do." a faint voice replies. "Alright, I'm nearing the edge of the cave now. Can you see me?" he asks, shining a flashlight into the darkness below. It's too weak to do any good for him up there, but she might just see it. "I do." she repeats, her voice a little louder now. Scott nods to himself; now knowing she is facing the roof of the cave.
"If we are going to get you out safely, I need to know the extend of your injuries. Can you tell me something about them?" he asks next. It takes a moment, but she finally replies. "I am only sure of a few; broken ribs and my legs for sure, I fell feet first." she explains making the Scott cringe. He's thankful she can't see that. "Anything else?" he wonders after taking in the mental image. "I don't know." she replies honestly. "Okay, that's fine for now. We'll know more when I get down there. It will take a few moments before Thunderbird 2 arrives. When it does, I'm coming down there." he explains.
"You might not see it, but I'm giving a thumbs up." is her reply. "Well, at least we can say that your thumb survived the fall. Every bit helps I suppose." he says, making Sybil chuckle before she groans loudly. "Please don't make me laugh. It hurts." she moans through her laughter. "Got it. No horsing around." he smiles.
He keeps shining his flashlight to make sure she knows he's still there. Dusk is setting in quickly now. It will make the rescue more trying, but he's sure they will manage.
"Say, what's your favorite color?" he suddenly asks as his eyes peer over the empty site, safe for an abandoned truck and some climbing gear. "Why do you ask?" she wonders, curious about the random question.
Scott scratches behind his head a little awkwardly. "Honestly, I'm supposed to keep you busy. It was just the first thing I came up with." he replies, sounding a bit ashamed for not being more original. Sybil can't help but smile. "It's blue." she replies, humoring him. "Yours?" she asks, taking Scott aback. He shrugs after a moment. If it keeps her occupied….
"Mine's blue as well actually. What's your favorite dish?" he asks next. Sybil thinks it over for a moment before reaching a decision. "Definitely springrolls. You can drag be out of bed for springrolls with hot sauce." Scott perks a brow curiously, thinking it a bit unexpectant, but oh well. "Your turn." she states, sounding a little more clearer now. The distraction seems to work.
"I suppose it would be apple-pie." he admits, thinking back to his grandmother's steaming pie. He loves it when it's still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a bit of whipped cream. Damn, he's getting hungry just thinking about it.
"Okay, favorite song?" he continues. "Oh. I'm really into that newcomer right now, David Appalachy. Have you heard of him?" she wonders. "No, I don't think I have. I will look him up." Scott says before another signal comes through. Looking up, he sees Thunderbird 2 approaching.
"Gee Scott, you're supposed to keep her busy, not having a speed date." his brother Gordon teases, making the man's cheeks turn red. "Funny Gordo. You're lucky she didn't hear that." he says indignantly to his younger brother's pestering. Actually Sybil did, but to safe her savior's dignity, she keeps it to herself. It amuses her though.
After Virgil landed the craft, Scott's two youngest brothers run up to him. "Any sign of the gunmen?" Alan asks, his own weapon at the ready. "Not yet, but I doubt they will be far. Speaking of which…Sybil, can you tell me anything about the ones who did this to you? We need to know what to look out for."
Thinking back on the Mexican man that cut the rope, she recalls what he said. "I believe they were members of a drug cartel…We were too close to their operation I'm guessing. Saw us as a threat." she explains before squeezing her eyes shut. She doesn't want to remember what they did to the professor. He was an old man, harmless…how could they see him as a threat, for God's sake!
Scott nods to himself before addressing his brothers. "Alan, Gordon, do a perimeter search, make sure the area is secured. Virgil, I can go ahead if you will lower me in a harness. Once I find her, I'll prepare her to lift her out. I think it can be done." "F.A.B. Scott." his siblings say in unison, getting to it.
Soon, he's strapped in a harness. Exchanging his signature IR hat for a hard hat. "Okay Virgil. I'm ready." he says, stepping up to the edge. "Alright Scott, everything is set up. I'll man the pulley, you just concentrate on finding her." Virgil tells him. "Understood."
Turning on the light on his hard hat, he crawls over the edge before letting go, trusting his brother to lower him slowly into the dark cave. It's pitch black now that the sun has set.
"Sybil, can you turn your light upwards?" Scott asks, not being able to see any sign of his target, even after being lowered halfway down. He only has an earpiece to communicate now, so he's completely dependent on her talking to know if she's still conscious, so he's not sure she heard when no reply comes. "Sybil?" he tries again.
Suddenly, a weak beam of light is cast into the dark sky above. It comes from behind a few stray rocks. It flickers inconsistently, showing that the battery is nearly out. "I can see it. I will be with you in a moment. Hold on." he tells her before cautiously making his way over the uneven terrain.
Somehow he's growing very anxious with every step. He barely knows her, but she sounds like someone he would like, someone fun and sweet. He's afraid of the state he'll find her in. Finally he steps over the final rocks, slides down them and coming to a stop next to Sybil.
Her eyes are closed he immediately notices. That isn't usually a good sign. He quickly assesses her further. Her auburn hair is sprawled around her like a halo, catching the light of his torch. Her face is a bit bruised, but he can't see anything alarming like cuts. Her gear and outfit covers most of her though, leaving him unable to see the damage she spoke of before, or any hidden damage at that. Though, her left leg is bent in an odd way if that is anything to go by.
He needs her to tell him more he decides, and crouching down next to her, gently puts a hand on her shoulder. He nearly startles when her bright emerald eyes fly open, only to squint as they try to keep out the light.
Sybil suppresses the groan of annoyance. She was nearly asleep and was just about to visit dreamland when a light touch woke her up. A harsh light shines in her face, bringing her back to reality.
Looking past the light, she can see the figure of a man next to her. He's wearing a blue uniform and she can just make out the IR symbol on his chest in the dim light. Reaching up, he points the light away from her face, making her able to see his. She was not sure what she was expecting, but she had to admit to herself that he's pretty handsome.
"Hey there." he smiles assuringly, showing off a set of pearly whites. "Sorry to have kept you waiting. What do you say? Want to get out of here?" he asks. "Well I don't know…" she answers in a groggy voice. "I thought about making a couple of more pictures before heading out." she jokes, making the man beside her chuckle. "I'd say you're just about ready." he states.
"First things first though…I need to check how bad your injuries are. If you'd please allow me?" he asks kindly. She was dreading this part. This is where she will find out just how much she's hurting, but she can't bring herself to say no. Not only because of those blue's staring down at her with patience but also for her own sake. "Go ahead."
Nodding, he bends over, reaching his hands around the back of her head and working his way down from there. "You'll give a shout when it hurts won't you?" he asks, seeing how quiet she's being. "Sure. Did you bring any earplugs, because I might surprise you." she remarks, making him chuckle. "I don't think that will be necessary. You will be careful with my ears won't you?"
She stiffens visibly when he reaches her ribs, sucking in a sharp breath when his hands touch her sides. "Well, that's pretty clear." he mutters, moving on. He frowns heavily when he examines her legs. Sybil has to bite her lips to keep from screaming, but releases a whimper.
"I'm afraid your legs are pretty banged up. There are multiple fractures. I'm going to need something to stabilize you before we can hoist you out of here, or else we'd probably only make it worse." he explains before turning to his watch.
"Virgil, I'm with Sybil now. I will need you to lower a stretcher and some rope will do nicely." he says. Sybil watches curiously as a voice replies from the watch. "F.A.B. Scott."
He waits as the stretcher is lowered before retrieving it. Placing it next to Sybil's body, he first immobilizes her legs so they will stay steady before moving her. "Okay, I'm pretty confident that your spine is uninjured, so this is how we will do this; I will take your legs and if you can slide your upper body on the stretcher, I won't have to jostle your ribs as well. How about it? Are you ready for it?" he asks patiently.
Swallowing hard, Sybil nods before bracing herself. "On the count of three. 1…2…3!" he counts down before hoisting her lower half on the stretcher. She can't resist a scream now as she forces herself up on her elbows and moves over.
"Take a few deep breaths." he tells her, taking her shoulders in his hands. "You've done well Sybil. You can relax now. Just leave the rest up to us now." he assures her as she blinks away the tears that were started to brim at the corners of her eyes. She's surprised when a thumb wipes away a single tear that escaped from her. She glances back at Scott's face, but he is already busying himself with something else.
Making sure to be careful, but doing it properly, Scott straps his patient to the stretcher tightly before turning to his watch. "Virgil, I will need another rope as straight above us as possible. Look at where I'm shining my light from." he says before flashing his light in the direction of his brother. In the darkness he should be able to spot it despite the distance. "I see you Scott. Give me a minute to move the gear." Virgil replies.
Scott turns back to Sybil. "Alright, just a little while longer now." "What about those cartel figures though?" she asks, now turning her worries to the next best thing, seeing as she's as good as out of there. "If they were near, we would have heard something for sure. My pals are watching our backs, so it's best not to worry about it anymore unless we have to."
"I still can't believe what they did to the professor. Whatever their reasoning…he didn't deserve that." she mutters, trying to keep her tears inside for a better time. "No, he didn't." Scott agrees, sounding quite angry himself. "And we're not leaving him here either. After you're in the clear, I'm going back down to find him. That way his family can give him a proper burial at least."
"Scott. The rope should be coming down right on your position." his brother's voice interrupts, dragging them both back to the present. Looking up, he sees it dangling in the light cast by his torch. "I see it. Just a little bit lower."
Scott takes hold of it before bringing it down and hooking it up to the stretcher. Next he secures himself to it. "Alright, here goes. Bring her up slowly Virgil." he calls out to his watch. "F.A.B."
Slowly they ascend towards the mouth of the cave. Scott looks down at Sybil, while keeping a good eye out that the stretcher isn't jostled around. "Is this going to be your last spelunking adventure?" he can't help but ask, suspecting that the young woman would think twice before going down into a cave after enduring such trauma.
To his surprise, she looks back at him like he has grown a second head. "Not if I can help it. I know there are risks to this type of profession, but armed men are a risk that is beyond my control. However, I can control other risks, so it doesn't matter if it's spelunking, skydiving or mountain climbing…I'm not going to give that up."
Scott nods in understanding, unable to voice the admiration he feels for the steadfast woman. Determination is a good trait to have he believes. He and his brothers have a decent dose of that themselves.
"Hey, welcome back to the surface." Virgil says as he helps them over the edge. "You must be Sybil." he 'guesses', turning to the immobilized young woman. "Hi." she simply says, waving her free hand weakly.
"Let's get her inside Virgil. After that, I'm going down one more time." Scott says, taking one end of the stretcher while his brother takes the other end. Together they carry her inside Thunderbird 2.
"Alright. You're set." Scott says to Sybil as they secure her on board. He loosens the straps around her a little so she can at least move a little more freely. "You can go ahead and rest now. I'll go retrieve the professor and after that, it's to the hospital with you." Sybil nods. "Thank you. I don't know what I did to deserve the help of you guys, but I'm really grateful." "It really is no problem. We are always glad to help." Virgil states, making Scott nod in agreement.
"Okay Scott, let's get to it. The sooner we're done, the faster she can get medical attention." Virgil urges his older brother. "Yeah, I hear you." he says, following after his brother who already stepped out. Before leaving himself, he can't help but look back one more time though. He finds tired green orbs watching him carefully, making him smile. "It was nice meeting you Sybil." he says before leaving the woman to herself.