Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters portrayed here, (excluding the survivors of the rescue) they belong to Gerry Anderson and Carlton Television.

Author's Note: This is my first attempt at an actual Thunderbirds story. I hope you enjoy it, and – I'm begging here – please r&r!!! I need reviews, praise and criticisms alike. (Please be gentle though. ()

Fate

By Suzi Roberts

The black sky erupted into pouring rain, accompanied by heavy thunder rolling violently in the heavens. Despite the bitterly cold air, the sweat poured from Virgil Tracy's forehead. Not from his labour – from his concentration. For nearly two hours he'd been trying, using The Mole, to dig an area through the debris large enough for Scott and his rescue gear to get through.

That particular morning, a massive earthquake had hit that highly populated part of Chicago. A fair-sized office block had collapsed to nothing, burying hundreds alive in the rubble. It was inevitable that many were dead – yet there was hope that many would also have survived.

Virgil raised a hand and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

"Mobile Control, this is The Mole. Come in Scott."

"What's the situation, Virgil?"

"We're through. The area's as wide as I can manage."

"Nice work, Virgil," Scott replied. "Right. Let's get down there and see what we can do."

"Right, S-Scott," Virgil replied, surprising himself by the slur in his voice.

"You haven't been on the bottle in there, have you Virg?" Scott joked.

Virgil laughed back falsely as he closed the link. No, he hadn't been "on the bottle" as Scott put it, but he sure felt like he had! His head was spinning round and round. Concentration, he thought to himself. He massaged the temples of his forehead to slow the spinning and made his way out of The Mole.

It was a grim experience. Scott shone his torch into the mess of debris. Just by looking around, he could tell the vast majority of them were dead. Scott's beam fell on a woman, blood covering her pretty face and golden tresses, her green eyes fixed in a rigid stare. A mask of the horror she'd witnessed was still clearly written all over her face.

"Bloody hell," Scott breathed.

"Better start searching." Virgil answered quietly, still not feeling quite with it.

The two brothers set off in opposite directions, tripping on fallen bricks, over...bodies. They called out again and again and again, willing there to be a survivor – just one.

Anyone.

"Can anybody hear me?" Scott asked, beginning to give up hope. A sudden stir from the far end of the area put Scott back on full alert. He began making his way over in the direction of the sound, as Virgil kept looking and calling.

As Scott got closer, he heard it.

"W-who's there?" came the faint, weak voice of a child. His dark blue eyes lit up at the sight of Scott, and even more at his International Rescue uniform.

"Don't worry, fella, we'll soon have you out of here." Scott breathed a sigh of relief, his burden lightened a little by the surviving child.

"Here's another one!" Virgil's cry rang through the darkness.

"OK, Virg, see if you can get him talking!"

The time dragged on and on, and all the while more survivors were discovered. Unconscious, awake or somewhere between, they were all found.

Finding so many alive after expecting nothing, made Scott and Virgil's hearts a little lighter. At the first count, there'd already been thirty five people dead. As more survivors were found, more bodies were counted. When everyone alive had been rescued (Alan, using hoists from Thunderbird Two, had retrieved the survivors), the final count of the dead was fifty two people.

The sixty who had survived had only International Rescue to thank for their lives.

Scott and Virgil stood watching as Emergency Services brought the bodies out, one by one. Both brothers were silent for a moment.

"It's times like this when I wish I hadn't taken on this job." Scott said, breaking the uneasy silence.

"It's inevitable, Scott," Virgil replied. "While I agree, it IS disheartening, watching something like this, but we're going to fail sometimes." Virgil watched is brother. He knew "failure" was not a word in Scott's vocabulary, and he also knew that Scott hated it.

"S'pose we'd better radio base." Scott said, trying to sound normal. He turned on his transmitter.

"Scott to International Rescue base. Come in."

"Go ahead Scott, how's everything going?" The more mature voice of Jeff Tracy, founder of International Rescue and billionaire, answered.

Scott explained the situation and sighed.

"...but fifty two are dead."

"Less than I expected," came Jeff's reply. "OK, boys. Everyone back to base. Over and out."

Scott and Virgil each boarded their own craft.

Virgil woozily climbed into the cockpit, rubbing his forehead again.

"You alright, Virg?" Alan's voice came from behind.

"Yeah. Yeah, fine Alan." Virgil replied, although his body was drenched in sweat again. Concentrating hard, Virgil controlled his craft into the air, and set off for home.

For the first time, Virgil did not enjoy flying the huge Thunderbird, his pride and joy, home again. His head thumped, his body ached, and there was nothing more he wanted to do than collapse onto the nearest bed.