Chapter 4. Not such a good idea

Gordon blew the tanks that would take them to the surface, regretting slightly that he had no time to look at such beautiful underwater scenery. He surfaced next to the pod that was floating in the water and sent out the remote signal that would flood the pod's tanks, allowing it to settle in the water so that he could reverse in under the power of his own jets. Once inside the pod, he pressed the switch that would close the pod door and blow the tanks, as the magnetic grapples came up to attach his craft to its ramp.

Virgil's voice came over the radio. "TB2 to TB4. Let me know when you're ready for pick-up. I've been in touch with the hospital at Cairns and we'll be flying straight there."

"Thanks, TB2," replied Gordon. " I'll be putting Ms Mackay and her boys in the passenger cabin, but I'll be keeping Mr Meredith here with me."

There was a pause at the other end of the line. "Do you really think that's a good idea?"

"I don't see what else I can do" replied Gordon. "I really think he should be moved as little as possible until we get him to the hospital. Having him die on us wouldn't be a good idea either."

"FAB, let me know when you are ready."

Gordon showed Donna and her boys to the passenger area, then returned to Thunderbird 4 and signalled to Virgil that they were ready. A roar of jets that could be heard even through the walls of the submarine, followed by a series of clunks, told him that Thunderbird 2 had settled on the pod. The roar increased in volume as the big craft's jets took the weight of the pod and lifted it out of the water.

"ETA to Cairns 15 minutes," came Virgil's voice over the radio.

Gordon unstrapped himself from his seat and went to look at his patient. Meredith's skin had lost its grey pallor and he was starting to recover consciousness. The young man crouched down beside his patient, removing the breathing mask from the old man's face. "It's going to be all right, Mr Meredith," he said, trying to sound reassuring. "You've been rescued by International Rescue. Your family are safe. We think you've had a heart attack, but we're taking you to hospital now. How are you feeling?"

The old man smiled weakly. "A lot better, thank you." He looked round. "Where are Donna and the boys?"

"It was a bit cramped in here, so I've put them in another part of the ship. You'll see them when we get to the hospital. I didn't want to move you because I was worried about the strain on your heart."

The old man was fully awake now and looking around with interest. "So this is one of the wonderful Thunderbird machines?"

Gordon smiled. "Yes, this is the craft that rescued you."

Meredith looked closely at Gordon, his eyes going to the young man's forehead. "And do they still call you 'Coppertop' at home?"

Gordon froze, an icy feeling in the pit of his stomach. His hand went to his forehead where a few strands of auburn hair had slipped out from under his wetsuit hood.

The old man smiled. "It's OK, son, I won't give you away." He shook his head. "It's ironic. At one time, like every other reporter in the business, I would have given ten years of my life to know the identity of one of the members of International Rescue. But now I don't have ten years." He drew a laboured breath. "The doctors tell me this old heart is only good for a few more months – too much living it up in my younger days. Now Donna and her kids are the most important thing in the world to me, and I'm trying to make up in the little time I have left for all the years I neglected them for the sake of the next story. By rescuing them you have put me in your debt, so your secret will be safe with me."

Just then Virgil's voice came over the radio. "Landing at Cairns hospital in two minutes. They've told me to land on the front lawn and they'll have medics standing by."

"That's one of your brothers, I presume," said Meredith. "No, you don't have to answer. Just an old reporter who can't get out of the habit of asking questions. Well, I said you boys would go far, but I never imagined quite how far."

Within a couple of minutes the craft had landed and Gordon was showing the medical team how to enter Thunderbird 4. It took them a bit of careful positioning to get the old man out of the craft on a stretcher chair, but soon he was on the ground, with his daughter and grandchildren at his side.

Drew Meredith reached out and grasped Gordon's hand. "Keep reaching for heaven, son."

"We will, sir," replied Gordon, "We will."

Drew Meredith died two months later. He had kept his word.