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, Virgil?"

"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 bunks."

"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 minutes."

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 emergency services.

"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 after him

"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 brother.

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 tight.

"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 with us."

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.