Author's notes. 1)The dateline for this story is 2063 - just over two years before International Rescue becomes operational. (all dates, ages and known details of Gordon's accident taken from the Chris Bentley 'Complete book of Thunderbirds').

2) The one liberty I have taken with established text is to give Jeff a source for his money. The Tracy Transport Corporation has a reputation for developing and backing safe forms of transport (land, sea or air) - hence his interest in the monorail system in 'Brink of Disaster'. Think of Boeing, plus Amtrak, plus Cunard and you get the idea.

3) I have given this a PG rating as I have gone into quite a bit of detail on the medical side. I have tried to make the medical information as accurate as possible, but any errors are mine alone. If you are the sort of person who can't watch 'Casualty' or 'ER' you may want to skip some bits!

Finally, standard disclaimer: My acknowledgement to Carlton plc as the copyright holders of the characters, and my thanks to Gerry Anderson and co. for creating them

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Chapter One

Gordon woke to see the early morning sunlight of a bright June day coming through the chinks in the blind, illuminating the cracks and lines on the ceiling in a pattern he had come to know as well as the faces of his family. No-one was stirring yet, and his head felt clear for the first time. Good - he wanted both a bit of privacy and a clear mind for his first experiment. Taking a deep breath, he looked down at his hand where it lay on the covers and concentrated hard. Nothing. 'Come on, Gordon' he thought to himself, 'You've been doing this all your life'. Another deep breath, this time using every ounce of willpower he possessed. and slowly, ever so slowly, he could see the fingers starting to inch towards his palm. The sweat was standing out on his forehead as the muscles made their unaccustomed effort. Success!! Gordon felt like shouting out loud as he lay back, exhausted. On his chest his right hand lay curled into a fist - his first movement in over two months.

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Back in April, Colonel David Brady, head of NASA operations was sitting in his office late one afternoon, just about to pack up for the day when the intercom buzzed. "Jefferson Tracy on the line for you, sir" said his secretary.

" Great, put him through". The friendly greeting he was about to give his former astronaut buddy dried on his lips when he saw Jeff's ashen face. "Jeff, what's the matter?"

"David, I need a favour," replied Jeff, his voice even gruffer than usual. "I need to talk to John on the space station. Gordon's been in an accident and I want him to hear it from me before he sees it on the news broadcasts. He was representing the WASPs in the round-island race at Hawaii when his hydrofoil crashed so it's bound to have been filmed"

"Yes, of course I'll arrange the call. Are you still at home? I think I've got your number here"

"Yes, I'm calling from the island. I'll be leaving for Hawaii as soon as I've managed to contact all the boys. Look, David, I'm very grateful for this. I feel bad about cadging favours from an old friend."

"Don't worry about it Jeff - I know how much those boys mean to you. Besides I'm only doing what I would do for any member of the crew on my space station - all you've done by coming straight to me is cut through about three layers of red tape." He looked at his friend. "John's only just started this tour of duty - he's not due back down for another three weeks. Do you want me to bring him home early? I can do that on compassionate grounds."

Jeff swallowed hard, trying to contain his emotions. "Can we leave that until I see how things are at the hospital?"

"Sure" replied David. "Now I'll ring off now and call you back when I get down to the Operations room".

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In the International Space Station, Captain Jenny Lund was doing her turn in the control room when the signal light blinked to indicate a call was coming through from Houston. "Jenny here" she responded (things were pretty easy going after a week on the station).

"Hallo there, Jenny," came the reply. "This is Colonel Brady".

"Good afternoon, sir," replied Jenny, mentally cursing herself. It was not every day that the Big Chief himself came on the line.

"Relax, Jenny", came the reply. "This isn't official business. I just need to have a word with John Tracy - is he around?"

"He's outside at the moment, sir," said Jenny, using the spaceman's slang for EVA. "Do you want me to patch you through?"

"Yes, please. And when you do, please cut yourself out. This is a private matter."

Jenny thumbed another switch to open the circuit to the EVA crew. "John, I've got a call for you from 'downstairs'".

Inside John's helmet there was a click, then a familiar voice saying "John? This is David Brady"

"Hallo, Uncle" said John, much surprised.

"Hallo, son. What are you up to out there?"

John replied, "We're fixing up a new antenna. The old one was picking up interference, so we've made some modifications."

Brady's voice came in reply. "I'd like you to stop what you're doing for a moment and tether yourself. I've got your father on the line here, and I want you to listen to what he has to say without drifting off. Let me know when you're ready"

While he had been listening John was already hooking a line to a convenient handhold. "Ready now, sir."

John heard Brady's voice saying, "OK, Jeff, you're through now" then another click. "John? Can you hear me?" came his father's gruff voice.

"Loud and clear, Dad. What's up? Is something wrong?"

There was a pause. "Gordon's been in an accident. He's in hospital"

John inhaled sharply. "Is it bad?"

"Pretty bad, son. They reckon his hydrofoil was doing more than 400 miles an hour when it crashed. He's been taken to the Kane Hospital at Honolulu. The doctors say the next few days will be critical. I'm flying straight to the hospital as soon as I can. The other boys are meeting me there."

"I wish I could be there too, Dad."

"I'm sure you do, son. David has offered to have you brought home if necessary, and meanwhile he's given authorisation for me to contact you at any time, so I'll let you know how things are going".

"Thanks, Dad. Give my love to all the boys, and especially to Gordy."

"I will, son."

Another click inside his helmet indicated the transmission had ceased. John felt a touch on his arm. He turned to see Abi, the second member of the EVA team. "John, it was an open circuit. We heard. I'm so sorry - that's one of your brothers, isn't it?"

"Yes," said John, starting to unhook himself, "but I suppose we'd better finish this job now."

"You stay where you are, John Tracy" came the voice of Greg, the EVA team leader. "EVA work requires concentration, and your mind is not exactly on your work right now. We're nearly finished here anyway, so you just sit tight".

John sat, or rather floated, and looked at the Earth turning below him. The chain of islands that made up Hawaii were just coming over the horizon. It would be early afternoon there. He had been thinking this morning that this was the day of Gordon's big race, but with all the rush to get this antenna relay ready it had since slipped from his mind. The thought of Gordon being injured was hard to bear. 'Stop that', he told himself firmly. Crying in a space suit was never a good idea.

Another touch on his arm from Abi interrupted his reverie. "We're ready to go in now," she said. "Would you like me to go on ahead and tell the rest of the crew?"

"Thanks, Abi" he replied. "That would be a great help. I think I'll just go straight to my cabin." Abi watched him go ahead, wishing there was something she could do for him.

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By the time Jeff and his sons had all arrived at the hospital, the surgeons had already been working on Gordon for a couple of hours. A nurse showed them to a window from where they could see into the operating theatre. She pressed a switch "Dr Ferguson, I've got your patient's father here."

A tall, dark skinned man looked up. "You'll excuse me if I don't stop, Mr Tracy" he said.

"How's my son, doctor?" asked Jeff.

"Well the good news is that he's still alive - though that's a miracle in itself. I gather he was wearing some new type of body armour when he crashed."

"Yes, it was designed by a young man who works for me," answered Jeff, sending a silent thanks to Brains, who, not trusting the safety of the WASP craft, had insisted Gordon wear it.

The doctor looked up. "Well, whoever he is, I suggest you give him a bonus. He saved your son's life. Without that, Gordon's ribcage would have imploded, crushing his heart and lungs. As it is, the ribs remained intact, also the spine, so we think he should be able to walk again, provided there isn't any nerve damage further down. His skull was also protected by the crash helmet, but that's the extent of the good news. Practically every other bone in his body is in fragments - we're piecing him together at the moment like a jigsaw puzzle. But the main problem is going to be the internal bleeding. Almost every internal organ has suffered impact damage. We're patching up what we can, but most of the damage is at cellular level. We're giving him blood transfusions, but it's a case of stopping the bleeding long enough for the organs to recover."

"Is there anything we can do to help?"

The surgeon looked up. "Well, you all look fit and healthy - you can go down to the blood donor unit tomorrow morning and give blood. It doesn't matter what blood type you are - it will all help someone."

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An hour later the family were all sitting around, staring moodily into empty coffee cups, when a woman approached. "Mr Tracy? I'm Maria Cole, Dr Ferguson's administrative assistant. He's asked me to come and have a word with you."

Jeff was on his feet in an instant "Gordon." he began.

She put her hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, Mr Tracy. The operation is still going on. The doctor said you offered to help if you could. Well, I understand you have some influence in air transport."

"That's right," said Jeff (who last time he had looked owned about 20 of the stock on the U.S. commercial registry). "How can that help?"

"There's a piece of equipment we need called a cryogenic tank. It's an experimental technique and there are only about half a dozen in the country. It works by reducing the body's temperature, which hopefully will slow down the internal bleeding. The nearest available one is in Chicago at the moment. We can get it on a commercial flight tomorrow morning, but ideally the doctor would like to put your son in it as soon as he finishes the operation."

"How soon do you need it here?"

"The doctor reckons they should be finished in another eight hours"

"Can you give me an office with a phone? I've got some calls to make."

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Two of the hospital staff were walking past an office and heard a voice on the phone "I don't care about penalty clauses - I want it done tonight!"

One said, "What's going on in there?"

Her colleague replied, "That must be that millionaire guy whose son was in the boat race crash. It must be nice to be so rich that you just have to say 'jump' and people just ask 'how high'"

"Don't be so cynical" replied her friend. "How many parents do we get in here who would love to be able to move heaven and earth to help their children? The only difference is this one can!"

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While Jeff was making his calls, Scott and Virgil were talking. "Presumably we'll have to sort out some accommodation soon" said Scott. "When Dad gets back I'll ask if he wants me to arrange a hotel."

"Yes, and you'd better get some change of clothes as well." Virgil looked down at Scott's USAF flying overall and boots. "You can't go round like that for long in this climate".

"That's true. I was out on a training exercise when the call came through from Dad - they patched it straight through to my aircraft. Then my CO came on the line and told me to turn my plane round and head straight for Hawaii."

"Well I was in the workshop with some of my colleagues working on Bertha" replied Virgil. Scott nodded - he had heard all about Virgil's end-of-year engineering project to renovate an antique steam locomotive. "I had time to wash and change while I was waiting to hear from Alan about picking him up, so I managed to throw a few things in a bag."

Alan sat in the corner, pale and quiet, for once hoping his older brothers would not include him in the conversation. It looked like he had been the only one watching the live broadcast when the accident happened. Some of his college buddies had come over for the afternoon with beer and popcorn to make an event of the race. As Gordon's boat spun out of control one of them muttered a fervent "Jesus H. Christ!" then a hush had descended on the room. When his father had phoned Alan had been in the bathroom, throwing up. Even now, the memory of the craft ricocheting across the water like a cannonball, pieces flying off in all directions, was enough to make him want to heave again.

Jeff came back into the room, wiping his forehead with his handkerchief. "Well, I've had to call in practically every favour I'm owed in the business, but that equipment will be landing at the airport in six hours time."

"Do you want Virgil and I to go and collect it for you?" said Scott.

"Thanks, son" replied Jeff. "I've also given Ms Cole my private number in case this sort of thing happens again. The next parent who needs it might not have his own fleet of aircraft. You know, boys" he glanced at his sons "This is another thing we could be doing when we start. operations". The three boys nodded. They were used to the way their father referred to his planned rescue business when not in private.

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Up on the space station, John was lying on his bunk, staring at the wall at the foot of the bed when he heard a quiet tap on the door. "Come on in" he called.

The door opened to reveal Abi, carefully carrying two steaming mugs. The residential section of the station rotated to give the effect of one third gravity - enough to keep liquid in cups, but you had to move with care or it tended to slop out.

"You didn't turn up for supper, so I thought you might like a hot drink," Abi said. "Aunt Abi's special recipe - Horlicks and nutmeg from my own personal supply"

"And I suppose you've slipped a Micky Finn in it as well," said John, teasing.

"Well, someone did suggest that, but Jenny vetoed the idea, so I volunteered to come in and bore you senseless instead" she replied. "Besides, there's something I wanted to ask you"

John swung his legs round so she could sit down on the bed next to him. Not that there was much choice in the matter - each cabin only had space for a bed and a cupboard for personal belongings. "What's that?"

"Is David Brady really your uncle?"

"Did I say he was?" John replied, warily.

"Yes, when he first came on the radio - you said 'Hallo, uncle'"

"Oops" replied John, "I'm not supposed to do that when I'm on duty."

"He didn't seem to mind. Well, is he?"

"No, he isn't a real uncle, but he's known me and my brothers since we were small, so I suppose you'd say he was a sort of honorary uncle. He and Dad go way back, to their service days together" He glanced at Abi, who was looking puzzled, "You do know I'm Jefferson Tracy's son, don't you?" Looking at her face again he went on, "OK, maybe you didn't. It's not exactly a secret - I just don't go round making a fuss about it. I don't want people to think I got this job because of family connections."

"John Tracy, no-one who has worked with you for more than ten minutes will ever think that" said Abi, firmly.

"There's a picture of Dad here" he said, pointing to the wall at the foot of the bed. Abi turned to look. She'd been concentrating on John when she came in, so hadn't noticed that the wall was covered in big, glossy photographs. One group was nature scenes - a sunset over the ocean, a leaping dolphin, a hummingbird feeding from an exotic looking flower, a spider's web picked out with dew. Another was action shots - one showed a fighter plane flying inverted, another a dark-haired young man playing the piano with a rapt expression on his face, a third showed a diver leaping from a cliff, and a fourth a blonde boy giving a cheery grin to the camera as he stepped backwards over a cliff in abseiling gear. John however was pointing to a couple of smaller, group shots. "This is my father with me and my grandmother" he said pointing to one, "and if you look at this one" (pointing to a group shot of five boys and a girl with Asian features) "you can see me with my brothers. A lot of people think my eldest brother Scott looks just like Dad did at the same age"

"Yes" said Abi "I can see the resemblance." She paused. "Which one - ?"

John pointed to a young man in the photograph with auburn hair, who had been laughing as the picture was taken. "That's Gordon. But if you want to know what he's really like then this will give you a better idea" He pointed to the picture of the diver. "I tried to catch my brothers all doing the things they love most."

"You took all these? They're wonderful"

"Yes, it's a hobby of mine. That one of Gordon is one I'm really proud of. It took about a week of trying to get exactly the right effect" The photograph had been taken at sunset, when the light was just leaving the top of the cliff, but had still caught the diver arched at the top of a beautiful swallow dive. The sunlight had given his body a golden glow, and made his hair a fiery red. "Luckily for me, Gordon was quite happy to carry on climbing up that cliff and diving off the top until I was satisfied. He's always at his happiest when he's in the water - swimming, diving, scuba diving, water ski-ing, windsurfing or any sort of boat. He was swimming when he could barely walk." John pointed to the group picture again. "Virgil, my middle brother, tended to follow Scott around, so when he was born, I started to keep an eye on Gordy. I was the one who'd pick him up if he fell over, the one he came to if he was upset, or being teased by the older boys at school - and I should be there for him now!" John pounded on the bed with his clenched fists. "I just feel so helpless!" The tears began to pour down his cheeks.

Abi put her arm round his shaking shoulders. "I'm sure your brothers are feeling just as bad, even though they are there with him. It's up to the medical staff now. You all just have to wait and that is the hardest thing to do" She held him tight, rocking to and fro as if he was a small child. They stayed like that for a long time.