Authors note: My first attempt at a long TB fic...what can I say, the arrival of the movie has made me rediscover my old love for the Tracy boys. Bless you Mr Frakes!
Disclaimer: The all-mighty Gerry Anderson owns all (or at least he should). I am but a humble fan- girl.
'A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity'
Virgil Tracy was a more than competent pilot, but it was his elder brother – Scott – who really loved to fly.
Scott had a knack for flying that went beyond mere talent. The way that he handled his machines was part instinct, part insight – manipulating the controls with an awareness that was as natural to him as breathing. The simple truth was that Scott Tracy belonged in the air. He was never more unrestrained...more liberated, than he was when he was guiding an aircraft through the stratosphere.
In many regards, it seemed that had been born to be a Thunderbird. Of all the Tracy brothers, it was he who had inherited the greatest of his father's passion for aeromechanics. At the age of nineteen he became the youngest American in aviation history to be awarded with combat-pilot status. By the age of twenty-three he was decorated by the United States Air Force for uncompromising valour, and – by the age of twenty-eight – he was piloting Thunderbird 1 as field leader for International Rescue.
Virgil had to concede a more than passing admiration for his brother's achievements.
Sitting in the flight-deck of Thunderbird 2, he stared out of the windscreen, peering thoughtfully at the bruise-coloured cumulus that rushed past them as they flew. The cargo-carrier cut through the skies with surprising grace, the massive green bulk twisting and turning with an air- borne elegance that belied its clumsy size. They were currently gliding high over the Atlantic Ocean, several miles east of the Scottish coastline. Their assignment...to evacuate workers stranded on a burning oil platform...had been a complete and total success, and the two Tracy boy's were currently looking forward to a well earned respite on their tropical base.
Glancing across to where Scott sat frowning at the engine display, Virgil smiled absently to himself. Never one to sit idle - particularly not when onboard a Thunderbird craft - Scott's eyes were narrowed as he occupied himself with various mental calculations, his mind wholly occupied with the machine before him. Virgil gave a quiet chuckle and shook his head. Scott might have been an aviation genius, but he was also a terrible passenger.
Moving to unclip the two-point safety harness from around his waist, Virgil raised his eyebrows questioningly and gestured towards the control panel.
"You want to take over?"
Scott blinked, visibly shifting mental gears to reengage himself with his surroundings. There was a slight pause as he turned to look at his brother with undisguised uncertainty.
"Are you sure?"
Virgil understood the reason for his brother's hesitancy. Thunderbird 1 was everything to Scott. She (and Scott had always insisted that it was a 'she') was his baby, and it was an excepted fact that he absolutely loathed giving up his machine to any other pilot. That fact given, he found it difficult to understand how Virgil could relinquish control of his Thunderbird with such comparative ease.
Virgil, however, simply shrugged. "Positive. To tell you the truth, I could use a break."
After a further moment of indecision, Scott relaxed into a grateful smile – the first such expression that he had allowed himself since leaving Tracy Island at the beginning of their mission.
The two quickly exchanged seats – Virgil manning the co-pilot station and Scott taking over on main controls. As be buckled himself into his seat, Virgil couldn't help but think longingly of the grand-piano waiting for him in his Island quarters. Between the various missions and training operations that he had been occupied with recently, he hadn't had much opportunity to exercise his musical talents. Still, he afforded himself a small smile. If their recent string of luck held out, he might just be able to find the time to practice a few bars before John patched in with a new call for International Rescue...
A sudden bleeping from the display panel tore Virgil forcibly from his thoughts. He glanced around swiftly, expression automatically shifting into one of grim readiness.
"What's going on?"
Scott scowled down at the sensor display, his jaw notably tensed. "We're marked." His hands flew across the controls with well-practiced swiftness, switching the guiding systems to radar as he sought out the origin of the signal. "Two missiles, coming at high speed. I think it's-"
Whatever he was about to say, however, was lost as a cataclysmic explosion rocked through the hull of Thunderbird 2. The blast threw both men violently forward, their equipment blowing up in a blinding flare of smoke and electricity, metal shrieking and squealing around them. The sheer force of the impact enough to knock the giant aircraft out of the sky. Knocked off trajectory, the colossal green Thunderbird became locked in a downward spiral that put them on a direct course to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
...And Scott's last conscious thought as he watched the cold waters rush up to meet them, was how much he wished that he had let Virgil keep the controls...
It was cold in this place.
Cold and dark and painful.
A raw agony beyond anything that he had previously experiences was throbbing through his knee, the pain blossoming into bitter tendrils that shot up his spinal column and into every nerve of his body. Poisoned smoke burned in his lungs, causing every breath that he took to feel as though he was choking down on burning hot coals, and every inch of his skin felt like it had been peeled away and then rather hastily reapplied. Gritting his teeth in an unconscious gesture of pain, Scott Tracy allowed his eyelids to drift open a fraction.
For a brief moment he saw nothing but black. Then, slowly, a blurred vision began to slowly fade into focus...a familiar face emerging in the shadows above him...
Blue eyes met brown as his younger brother stared down at him; fear and relief vying for prominence across his features. His normally tanned skin had acquired a sickly tinge of grey and was splattered liberally with spots of blood, his uniform singed black and torn across his chest. A deep gash split his lower lip in two, still oozing scarlet.
It wasn't a pretty picture.
Most worryingly to Scott, however, were the glittering smudges of moisture that streaked down Virgil's ashen cheeks. Had he been crying? The thought was deeply unsettling, and as Scott stared up into the face of his brother, he was – perhaps for the first time – acutely aware of how young Virgil looked...how vulnerable.
"...Hey..." he croaked weakly, raising a trembling hand to wipe at a smudge of blood on the other man's cheek, "...Are you alright?"
Virgil was still for a moment, then gave an oddly strangled noise at the back of his throat, somewhere between a sigh and a sob. That was so typical of Scott. Regardless of his own injuries, Scott's first priority...his only priority...was his brother's safety. Virgil would have laughed, but a sudden tightness in his throat made that action all but impossible.
Blinking quickly, he turned his head away and passed a grimy hand over his eyes, not wanting the elder Tracy to see.
"Yes, Scott. I'm alright."
In order to keep his mind distracted from his current predicament, Scott made mental lists.
It had been his favourite game as a child. Even back then he had been a meticulous organiser – a facet of his personality that would later prove invaluable in his role as Thunderbird team leader. The lists that he constructed were random and meaningless – his ten favourite movies, best songs ever...that sort of thing – but they provided him with the sense of order and structure that his young mind had instinctively craved.
Now, however, he was a grown man of thirty, and the lists that he constructed were somewhat different in nature...
'The top five most painful injuries that I sustained during the crash (in ascending order):
5) My dislocated shoulder
4) My broken wrist
3) My four ( five?) fractured ribs
2) The third-degree burns on my arms and chest
1) The metal spike sticking through my knee'
"Thunderbird 2 to Tracy Island. This is Thunderbird 2 calling Tracy Island. Come in, father."
Virgil wiped the sweat from his forehead, ignoring – for the moment – the coppery taste of blood that filled his mouth. He blinked and shook himself distractedly, forcing himself into focus. The air was thick with the acrid scent of smoke and jet-fuel, and the pungent tang was causing his eyes to stream. A steady trickle of water sounded somewhere in the darkness behind him.
Not exactly ideal working condensations, Virgil thought to himself dryly.
"This is Thunderbird 2 calling Tracy Island. Father, do you respond?"
"Give it up, Virgil," Scott's voice drifted weakly up from the back of the flight deck. "The transmitter blew up in the explosion – there's no way that they can hear you."
Virgil breathed out slowly and allowed his eyes to slide shut, Scott's words forcing him to acknowledge the reality of the situation. "Yes..." he admitted quietly, "Yes, I know."
Peering blindly into the murky half-light, he could just about make out his brother's indistinct form propped up against a nearby wall. While Virgil had escaped from the crash relatively unscathed – save for a few minor cuts and bruises – Scott had taken the full force of the explosion. The force of the impact had thrown him from one end of the cabin to the other, resulting in numerous broken bones and causing his knee to become impaled on a protruding spike of twisted metal.
...To say that he was in pain would have been something of an understatement.
Scott's gave a dry cough and tried to shift to a more comfortable position – an endeavour which only accomplished further agony. He grimaced, but did not complain.
"Did you check the Global Positioning system?"
"It's completely fried. We could be in Cairo or Kentucky as far as I'd be able to tell."
"What about the radar?"
"Same story. All major systems are down." Virgil looked around at his ruined vessel, an almost tangible look of pain briefly contorting his features. "Radio, GPS, satellite communications...they're all gone. Whoever fired that missile knew exactly where to do the most damage."
Scott was quiet for a short time. The hollow silence gathered around them, shroud-like and inexplicably heavy. When he finally spoke again, his voice was quiet and considering, little more than a measured whisper.
"That means that father and the others have no way of knowing where we are," he murmured softly, as much to himself as to his brother. "They can't help us."
There was a heavy silence as the two men allowed the enormity of this realisation to settle down upon them. Neither spoke, neither moved, and – for a brief moment – neither breathed. It was as though Scott's words had articulated a terrible truth that neither had been previously willing to admit to. They were alone. Even worse, they were alone with no hope of rescue.
Their current situation was, Virgil realised, possibly about as bad as it could get. After plummeting from the sky in a blaze of fire and debris, Thunderbird 2 had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, finally coming to rest approximately four miles below the surface of the waves. Thankfully, the flight-deck had remained largely intact...that single piece of luck being the only reason that the two brothers were still alive. Beyond that, however, they were trapped. No engines, no lights, and only enough air to sustain them for a matter of hours...
...They were entombed in the very Thunderbird that their father had devoted his life to creating.
Shivering from something other than the cold, Virgil returned his attention to the radio, hoping against hope that the force of his desperation would somehow cause the transmitter to spontaneously repair itself.
"Thunderbird 2 to Tracy Island. Thunderbird 2 to Tracy Island, this is Virgil. Please respond...father...please..."