Diary of Virgil Tracy (last entry), 3 August 2060

Any of these entries may be my last. Food's getting increasingly scarce. Everything's getting increasingly scarce. Tried another break-in today, failed again. It knows before we do.

Wonder if Scott's okay. No, probably dead by now.

Alan had games where aliens invaded. Alan wondered if there were aliens. I hope there aren't. If there are, It'll invade them.

Captain's log, Galvana mine on 21 Lutetia, 2 May 2060

"Ned Tedford signing on for the last time. It's official, the sun will get me before It does. Solar flare made the drill slip into the core. Felt like this rock had engines.

"I'll take it. I smashed the aerial as soon as I heard about It, so at least It won't get anything.

"Enjoy the cool air while it lasts, Gladys. It only gets hotter from here."

London Underground, 5 April 2060


"Get the Codex!" were Scott's last words as his Thunderbird spirited him away against his will.

"You heard him, Gordon. Codex! Now!"

Virgil reflected on the irony as they ran. Barely a week after thwarting a group of terrorists' plan to steal the Universal Grid Codex, and here was International Rescue filling the terrorists' role.

Ahead of him, Gordon ran into the opening vault door and grabbed the Codex.

I will not tolerate your interference.

The vault door reversed direction.

You are a threat, and you are weak.

Gordon spun and threw the Codex with almost superhuman speed, but still not fast enough. The closing vault door crushed the very end of the device, and then -

- thud - the vault sealed forever.

It is time for you to experience what I did.

All the lights went out.

Enjoy your stay.

GDF incident summary report, 4 April 2060

Prussia Industries primary tank plant, GdaƄsk

None known


Staff discovered severe intrusion into facility's computer systems at 03:35.

Staff reacted by performing emergency shutdown on computer systems and disconnecting facility external datalink, as per procedure.

Computer systems were restarted and production resumed at 03:37.

External datalink was not reconnected.

Intrusion recurred immediately.

Staff reacted by performing emergency shutdown on computer systems and overwriting with backups, as per procedure.

Computer systems were restarted and production resumed at 03:44.

External datalink was not reconnected.

Intrusion recurred immediately.

Staff reacted by performing emergency shutdown on computer systems.

Computer systems were restarted immediately by unknown actor.

Staff reacted by performing emergency shutdown on computer systems.

Computer systems were restarted immediately by unknown actor.

Staff disconnected facility main power to keep computer systems offline.

Facility backup generator brought online immediately by unknown actor.

Computer systems were restarted immediately by unknown actor.

Staff sounded Emergency Evacuation alarm at 03:44.

Emergency Evacuation was completed at 03:45.

Computer systems wholly under unknown actor's control at 03:45.

Facility main power reconnected immediately by unknown actor.

Facility production templates were modified immediately by unknown actor.

Production resumed immediately by unknown actor.

External datalink reconnected by unknown actor at 03:45.


No loss of life

Minor injuries to facility staff, sustained while attempting to subvert unknown actor's control

Facility abandoned

- Insufficient resources to recapture or destroy

- Facility producing vehicles of unknown design but significant military capability

Unknown actors not pursued

- No capability to identify


Severe intrusion into facility computers at 2060-04-04 03:35 resulting in facility abandonment by 03:55:

- Global Defense Supercomputer III, Mezhgorye

- Global Defense Supercomputer II, Bukavu

- Global Defense Supercomputer, London

- Fischler Simulacra research facility, Rotorua

- United States Central Defense Manufacturing Complex, Detroit

- Manchurian Armaments primary tank plant, Chongqing

- Joint Defense Facility Pine Gap, Alice Springs

- (+ 120 more)


Local police attempt to regain control of facility launched at 08:00 thwarted by unknown actor(s) by 08:05. Minor injuries sustained.

GDF military police attempt to regain control of facility launched at 09:30 thwarted by unknown actor(s) by 09:55. Some major injuries sustained. Minor injuries sustained.

GDF unit attempt to regain control of facility launched at 12:40 thwarted by unknown actor(s) by 13:30. Some fatalities. Major injuries sustained.

GDF joint attempt to destroy facility launched at 13:35 thwarted by unknown actor(s) by 13:40. Command structure lost. Many assets lost. Many fatalities.

Thunderbird Two, 3 April 2060

"The i-island's computers are a-acting independently of their p-programming. I can n-no longer contain whatever is c-causing it, and I b-believe it is a th-threat to the world."

Virgil and Gordon could only listen helplessly as the recording played. Brains, on camera, continued his grim task.

"I have had MAX s-set both generators to b-blow, which will d-destroy anything it could u-use to its advantage. Do n-not return to Tracy Island." The recorded Brains paused, as if thinking. "I have e-enjoyed working with International R-Rescue. C-continue its work, gentlemen."

Tracy Island, earlier on 3 April 2060

"Hey, John! Grandma Tracy made some fresh cookies! Too bad you're cooped up in Thunderbird Five or you could be enjoying them with us."

"Of all the things I miss up here, I miss Grandma Tracy's cookies the most."

Scott set a new personal best for speed of cutting a connection. "That's not John! Alan -" he stopped and cringed. "Brains, now would be a really good time to tell us you had a backup Thunderbird Three stored somewhere close by."

"I'm s-sorry, Scott," Brains had grasped the implications as well as Scott had, "but even I c-can't work miracles."

Gobi Spaceport (decommissioned), 24 March 2060

"That," said Scott from his lofty perch, "was far too close."

"Agreed," said Gordon from his not-so-lofty perch that had once been a pod. "I'm still a little woozy down here. If Virgil had been knocked out by the pod crash -"

"Don't say that," Virgil admonished from his lofty perch. "I had no spare time as it was. I had to get back into Two in seconds and Brains is going to kill me for what I put the engines through after that."

"Bad metaphor, Virgil. Bad metaphor."

Consolidated File Archive, London branch, 16 March 2060

"I still don't understand what's going on!"

"What's going on, all of you, is that by being needlessly obstructive to a routine records request, you have contributed to the loss of a life. Not to mention that you have, by that action, destroyed a unique piece of equipment, which will doom countless more lives. To summarise, you are all being detained for manslaughter. This facility is now operated by the Global Defense Force, which will provide far more effective and efficient service." Colonel Casey sighed. "Deal with them, Lieutenant."

Low Earth orbit, earlier on 16 March 2060

John reacted to severe stress by shunting his emotions off to the side. It showed in his flat voice. "The kill code is: Three. Zero. Zero. Five. Two. Zero. One..."

"I got it." Alan waited anxiously at the control panel of a nuclear bomb in space. "Just that last one..."

"...time to pick our lucky number."

"Seven's lucky, right?"

"Here's hoping. Ten seconds."

"Okay. Here goes nothing..."


"Aw, no-!"


In space, nobody could hear you scream. Or hear anything, for that matter. John knew this, and he could still have sworn he heard the detonation through the miles of vacuum.

He didn't make much sound after that.

"John, the number is three. ... John. Three. It's three. ... John?"

Consolidated File Archive, London branch, 17 August 2044

Harold Tedford yawned, still hunched over the scanner. How long until I knock off again-?


"Neddy!" He turned around from the scanner and sprung forward to embrace his son.

"Mum's waiting in the carpark!"

"Just have to check with my boss. He'll let me out."


Harold was soon cleared to leave, and went home for the customary family dinner. Couldn't let work get in the way of life, after all.

Harold's boss soon locked up the workspace, removing the scanned record from the scanner and sending it to be filed, and left for the night. When Harold came back in the morning, he remembered having scanned it last night, assumed (correctly) that his boss had filed the record, and went on with the boring job of digitising a warehouse full of little slips of paper.

It was just a bit of a shame that they both neglected to double-check the scan. The last digit was unreadable.

Author's Note

Why is it that I keep writing tragedies? Clearly I just have a mind well-equipped to wonder "what could possibly go wrong?".

Title comes from that old proverb that ends with "all for the want of a horseshoe nail...".