Author's note: this story is a sequel to chapter 2 of Boomercat's 'In the aftermath', so in addition to the usual acknowledgement to Carlton plc as the copyright holders of the characters, and my thanks to Gerry Anderson and co. for creating them, I must also thank Boomercat for letting me continue with the idea, and for telling me about the observatory at San Jose.

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John entered the doctor's surgery feeling a little apprehensive. When he had returned from the space station a couple of days ago, he had been greeted with the news that Doc Carraker had visited the island recently to take blood samples from all the residents. Apparently, the doctor had explained, there was some parasite spread by an insect bite that was causing a lot of problems on the south Pacific islands of the doctor's practice, and he was trying to find the extent of its spread. As John had not been there, the doctor had requested that he drop into the surgery the next time he was home from his observatory work.

John was shown straight into the surgery, and Doctor Carraker stood up and came forward to greet him. He turned to his receptionist "Thank you, Mary. Now, no interruptions, please." The doctor led John over to a corner of the room where there were a couple of easy chairs next to a coffee table. On the table stood a pot of coffee, some cups and a small personal computer. "Thank you for coming, John," said the doctor as he gestured for his visitor to take a seat. "First, I must apologise. I've brought you here under false pretences. That whole story about parasites was complete baloney".

John looked at the doctor. He was an old friend of the family, and this was the last thing he had expected to hear. "So why did you ask me here?"

Doc Carraker poured a cup of coffee and handed it to John. "I asked you because you are an intelligent man and, I think, a truthful one. I want to put some facts before you and ask your opinion."

John stiffened slightly. "What's all this about, Doc?"

The doctor continued. "I don't know if your father has told you, but last time I was called to the island, to see Gordon and Alan I practically accused either him or Scott of abusing your younger brothers."

John's heart sank. 'Oh no', he thought, 'not that again'. "Yes, they told me that. Look Doc, there are two things you have to understand about my brothers. Firstly, none of them would ever deliberately hurt another. Second, they're adrenaline junkies - always throwing themselves into dangerous activities for the buzz it gives them. Scott and Alan like sky- diving, Alan's always rock-climbing or abseiling all over the island, Gordon dives off cliffs, or messes around on water-skis or jet skis. When people do things like that, accidents are bound to happen sometimes."

"And Virgil?" said the doctor in a quiet voice.

"What?"

"You didn't mention Virgil - what does he do? You can't tell me he gets injured playing the piano. Look here." The doctor opened the mini computer and pressed a couple of keys. A bar chart appeared, showing columns in five different colours. "It's only since my niece visited me a few months back and put all my records on computer that I have started to realise that something was going on. If you look at this chart, I seem to get called out most often to see Virgil, then Scott (sometimes both together) then Gordon or Alan, and you hardly at all - but then you're hardly ever there, are you? What's going on on that island, John?"

John felt the heat rising to his face. Scott always teased him that he was the easiest one to beat at poker because they always knew when he was lying. "Look, Doc," he said quickly "you're barking up the wrong tree here. No-one in the family would hit each other - we Tracys protect each other!"

"Yes," said the doctor, "that's what Gordon told me after my last visit. Then I started to realise -yours is not the only family on the island. So I wonder - just who do you protect each other from?"

"What?" said John, realising he had trapped himself again.

The doctor pressed a few more keys and a list appeared on the screen. "It's wonderful what you can do with computers. This is a log of all the times I've visited your island. The red stars indicate the 'accidents'. If I scroll right back to the beginning when you first moved out here it all looks pretty normal - a few festering coral cuts, a case of hives, a chest infection for your grandmother. Then I'm called out because your servant, Kyrano, has had some sort of seizure. Soon after that, the 'accidents' start." He looked closely at John. "Is that what is happening, John? Have Kyrano's fits turned violent? Are you protecting him for your father's sake, or for the sake of that lovely daughter of his? If there is something wrong, you don't have to worry. This isn't the twentieth century - we don't lock people up any more - there are treatments we can use. But first we have to know what the problem is."

"Doc" pleaded John "you don't know how far off beam you are. Kyrano would rather die than hurt any of us"

"Am I?" replied the doctor, "well, you tell me just how far off beam I am, John. Tell me what keeps your brothers on that island. Even Alan, as the youngest, is in his twenties now. Most men of your brothers' age would have left home long ago to start their own lives. Tell me why you are away so much. Don't tell me you're working at the Lick Observatory at San Jose - I wrote to you there and the letter came back with a note saying you hadn't worked there for years."

John squirmed in his seat. "Doc, please don't do this"

"Why not? What can't you tell me? I want to know what's behind all these accidents. I want to know why last time I saw Gordon he had finger bruises on his neck. I spent three years as a police surgeon, I'll have you know - I know what strangle marks look like."

John took a deep breath and seemed to come to a decision. "If I tell you that, Doc, will you drop the rest?"

" I might"

"Patient confidentiality, right?" John glanced at his wristwatch, which the doctor noticed had a flashing amber light on the rim. "And you turn off any recording device you are using."

The doctor gave him a look of surprise then reached over to his desk and pressed a switch. "OK, it's off. What are you going to tell me?"

John leaned forwards and spoke in a quiet voice. "Dad's a rich man, Doc. And rich men attract enemies. Recently someone tried to kidnap Scott. My other brothers went after them, there was a fight and Gordon and Alan were injured. Dad didn't want the story to get out, so we hushed it all up. Does that answer your question?" He gave the doctor an earnest look. "Doc, I swear to you, there is nothing sinister going on at home - nothing you need concern yourself about. My brothers stay there because they like it - after all a south sea island would be most people's idea of paradise." He stood up. "Now if there's nothing else you want to talk to me about, then I think I'll say goodbye."

The doctor rose. "Thank you for coming, John, and for being honest with me." As he watched the young man leave, Dr Carraker shook his head. He was sure he had not heard the whole story.

Once John was a safe distance away from the surgery he lifted his wristcomm and put a call through to base. "Dad," he said as his father's face appeared on the screen, "I think we might have a problem."

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