This story describes the events leading up to
my 'English symphony' and can be read either before or after that story.
However, it follows on eighteen months after my 'Sight unseen' and
contains spoilers for that story. I would like to thank Mad-friend for doing
her usual excellent job of proof-reading, Lady Viva for providing background
information and my friend Joan (even though she won't see this) for helping
with the Italian.
Standard disclaimer: I acknowledge Carlton plc
as the copyright holders of the Thunderbirds characters and thank Gerry
Anderson and his team for creating them. I must also apologise to the people of
Florence for wrecking their beautiful city. All biographical details taken from
Chris Bentley's 'Complete book of Thunderbirds'
1 Destruction in Florence
"Mole to Mobile Control. Come in, please".
Virgil raised his arm and used his sleeve to wipe the sweat from his forehead
while he waited for Scott's response.
"Mobile control here. How are you getting on,
"Just finished here. Alan's still using
Firefly to help the fire brigade put out another blaze, but I'm all done We
managed to get the people out who were trapped in the basement. The injured are
on their way to hospital now. Where do you want me next?"
There was a pause at the other end while Scott
consulted with someone else. "Come over to me at Mobile Control. We've moved to
the old part of the city, just north of the river. Are you getting my beacon?"
"Loud and clear. I'll be with you in fifteen
minutes. Do you have anything for me there?"
"Not sure at the moment. I think we've reached
the mopping up stage of the operation now. Unless we get another call from the
Italian authorities I think we'll be closing down for the night soon."
"Sounds good to me. I'm looking forward to
getting back to Thunderbird 2 for a hot shower, then crawl into one of the
"Dibs I get top bunk!"
. "You're welcome to it. The way I feel at the
moment, I don't think I could even reach the top bunk"
"F.A.B. little brother. See you in a few
Daylight was starting to fade, hastened by the
amount of smoke that hung in the air from various small fires, as Virgil
manoeuvred the Mole through the rubble strewn streets of Florence.. He had
spent one summer vacation while he was at college touring Italy with a
girlfriend, visiting art galleries and admiring the architecture. He was sad to
see so many of the city's beautiful buildings in ruins.
The Tracy family had been just finishing
their evening meal yesterday when a call had come through from John to say that
the city had been hit by an earthquake Now, nearly ten hours later, Virgil had
been awake for the best part of 24 hours, and exhaustion was beginning to set
in. Adrenaline, strong coffee and the buzz of rescuing people could only
keep a body going for so long.
Virgil parked the Mole alongside the truck
that contained Mobile Control and climbed out, feeling the aches in his tired
limbs. He looked in the truck, but saw it contained not his brother but the
police officer who had been assigned as their liaison with the Italian
"Your colleague is over there, signor" said
the officer, pointing behind Virgil. Virgil turned to see Scott walking across
a pile of debris. "He asked me to wait here in case one of your other
colleagues radioed in."
Virgil thanked the officer and walked across
to where Scott was working. He was wearing headphones, and using a
microphone/heat detector to scan the rubble pile for life signs. Virgil called,
but Scott didn't hear, so he picked up a piece of grit and flicked it at his
brother, hitting him on the arm.
Scott felt the impact and looked round, then
pushed the headphones back off his ears.
"Found anything?" queried Virgil.
"No, not yet. I just thought I'd do some
checking while I was waiting for you. This was an apartment block, so I thought
there might have been some people in here when the earthquake struck."
Virgil looked up. The sides and floor of the
building had collapsed, but the back wall was still standing. "That wall looks
a bit unsafe to me. Do you want me to get Gordon to bring the Domo over?"
"No, he's working with one of the rescue crews
at a shopping centre north of here, and I don't want to disturb him." Scott
stretched his arms, obviously feeling as tired as his brother.
"I passed a mobile canteen just round the
corner. Do you want to stop for a coffee?"
Scott looked up at the sky, "No, you go. I'll
carry on here while there's still some daylight left. By the time you get back
I should know if I need you."
"F.A.B." Virgil turned to go, and Scott called
"Don't forget, two sugars in mine!"
"As if I could!" said Virgil, laughing.
Scott's sweet tooth was a standing joke in the family.
The staff on the mobile canteen were only too
pleased to be able to serve someone wearing International Rescue uniform.
Virgil came back with coffees for himself, Scott and their police liaison, and
pockets stuffed with biscuits.
He had nearly reached Scott when he felt himself
stumble, then realised it was not he who had stumbled, but the ground that had
lurched under his feet. 'Aftershock!' he thought. He looked up
just as the wall behind Scott began to topple. Everything seemed to happen in
slow motion. He dropped the coffee, yelled Scott's name and made a dive for his
Scott felt the debris pile shift under his
feet, then a sudden impact that sent him flying into the roadway. He landed on
his hands and knees and turned to see what had hit him. To his horror he watched
as a piece of stone from the wall hit Virgil, knocking him flat. "Virgil, no!"
he cried, and moved towards his brother, but hands caught him and held him
"Aspetti, signor!" said the policeman.
"Wait! It is too dangerous!"
Scott watched, helpless, as more debris rained
down on his brother's body. As soon as it had stopped he wrenched himself free
and ran towards where Virgil was buried, glimpses of blue uniform just visible
below the rubble. Scott tore at the wreckage with his bare hands until he had
uncovered Virgil's head. Frantically he felt for a pulse – yes, it was there,
though faint and unsteady. "Virgil, I'm sorry. I'm here, little brother. Stay
The police officer knelt beside him. "I have
sent for an ambulance. They are on their way."
By the time the ambulance had arrived, Scott
had cleared the rest of the rubble off his brother's unconscious body. Still in
a daze, he climbed into the ambulance and accompanied Virgil to the hospital.