Choice & Consequence

-

"You don't have to hold on to the pain, to hold on to the memory." – Janet Jackson

Four

Jeff could remember it all as if it were yesterday. He remembered the phone call.

"Mr. Tracy?"

Could remember his confusion.

"I believe I have something that belongs to you."

His anger.

"Your God can't help you now Jeff."

And how a few simple words had changed everything.

"Now, you must pay."

--

Sighing Jeff rubbed his eyes, looking back over the paperwork on his desk. An earthquake in Japan the previous fortnight had kept him and the boys busy for days and as a result he had accumulated a huge backlog of papers that needed signing for Tracy Enterprises. Coupled with the fact that his CEO had resigned due to personal illness, he was overloaded with work and undersupplied with the time in which to do it. He sat back in his chair and sighed, stifling a yawn as he stood up.

Thank God there had been no more emergencies recently, he thought to himself, heading to the kitchen. The Thunderbirds hadn't been needed since the earthquake and Jeff couldn't be more grateful. Aside some serious structural damage to the Mole and minor – yet still significant - heat spoil to Thunderbird 2 the boys had all needed a well-deserved break. All, except John of course, had gone to the mainland to recover. Virgil with Alan to a funeral and then to spend some time with Penny in England, Gordon to visit his grandmother in Kansas and Scott had mumbled something about Europe.

Normally Jeff would be hesitant in having them all gone for longer than a day or two, but they all needed refreshing, and he needed peace in the house to get his work done. And besides, with Alan and Virgil with Penny if any rescues were needed they would be able to make it back to the Island in no time.

Pouring himself a cup of coffee, Jeff allowed his mind to go blank for a minute, just absorbing the silence and peace of the darkened house. The rest of the occupants were asleep, understandably at 3am, and only the kitchen and his office were giving out any light. He jumped slightly at the sudden ring of the phone, puzzled as to who would be calling at this time.

"Hello?"

"Mr. Tracy?"

"Speaking."

There was a pause. "I believe I have something that belongs to you."

Jeff frowned. "Excuse me?"

"Missing anything?"

"Missing anything?" He questioned, growing more and more confused, and somewhat uneasy.

"Anything you haven't seen in a while… or anyone?"

"Who is this?" Jeff demanded. "What are you talking about?"

Jeff's brow furrowed at some muffled noises in the background and a shout, before a weak voice came over the line. "Dad?"

Jeff's eyes widened. "Alan?!"

"That's what I'm talking about." The original voice replied.

"Who are you? What have you done with my son"? Jeff demanded, opening up a connection to Thunderbird 5 as he did so.

"Son?" The voice questioned.

Jeff wouldn't have caught the implication if it hadn't been for the blank screen before him. Thunderbird 5 was empty; John was nowhere to be seen.

"John?" He let out involuntarily, fear now beginning to knot in his stomach.

"I see you're catching on." The voice almost laughed.

"Who is this?" Jeff asked again angrily, now opening a call to England.

"A friend of a friend?" The voice offered. "Brother of a friend…" It trailed off.

"The Hood." Jeff stated, just as Lady Penelope answered. She looked worse than he'd ever seen her and almost immediately burst into tears. She knew something he didn't. Was his first thought… had seen something he hadn't.

"Jeff. Jeff I'm so sorry." She began. "I'm so sorry, there was nothing I could do, they said they'd kill them both. I was… I was too scared." The Briton began to sob. "Oh Jeff, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

Jeff's mind was racing too fast to really understand what she was saying. Nothing like this had ever happened before. "It's okay Penny, it's okay. Just get through to Virgil, Scott and Gordon for me—"

Penny's face caused him to cut off abruptly.

"What is it Penny?" He questioned, ignoring the laughter coming from the other line.

"Virgil?" She questioned weakly.

Jeff's stomach knotted again. "What about him?" He asked her, his voice laced with poorly disguised panic.

She stammered. "Virgil… I… he… they took him… with Alan."

Jeff's head began to whirl. "But… John…" He said out loud, his thoughts not making any sense in his head.

"John?" Penny questioned.

"That's right Jeff." The Hood was talking again now. "Not one, not two, not even three." Jeff could hear the smile in his voice. "But five." The Hood said triumphantly.

"Five?" Jeff questioned weakly.

"That would be correct Jeff. Five Tracy boys, five thunderbird pilots, five sons."

The last word seemed to ring loudly in Jeff's ears.

"All mine."

Suddenly Jeff snapped, No. They were his sons, his boys. "What have you done to them?" He seethed.

"Nothing yet… nothing much anyway."

"So help me God, Hood—"

"Your God can't help you now Jeff. It's too late."

Jeff wasn't listening. "I swear, when I find you, you will regret the day your mother was ever born. I will make you pay so dearly—"

"The only one who will be paying dearly Jeff is you." The Hood said pointedly. "You're in no position to negotiate. I have your sons. I am in control. And nothing you can do, can change that."

Jeff swallowed, still angry but his mind forcing back some of his self control. "What do you want?"

"What do I want? I want you to pay. I want you to suffer like I have suffered Jeff. Time and time again, you have foiled my plans. Time and time again you have defeated me, and prevented me from reaching my goals. Taken my only chances from me. And I've had enough. Now, you must pay."

--

The conversation hadn't gone much further. He'd received a list of instructions he was to follow, and he carried them out numbly, not even realising he was doing it. Something in the Hoods voice, something in Penny's tears and something in the emptiness of Thunderbird 5 had struck him. It all held a severity that he'd never experienced before. If the Hood had only had one of the boys, or even only four of them... as long as Jeff had had one it would have been okay. But to have all five been taken? Without even realising? Jeff had never been one for giving up, especially when it came to his sons, but something told him that this was going to change everything.

And it had. He thought to himself, staring up into the night sky. Everything and everyone had changed. He wasn't a fool. He saw it. Saw how Penny had crumbled, her British reserve and strength faded to a mere memory, Parker's loyalty lost, Kyrano's gentle kindness, Brains' shy genius, Tin-Tin's youth and his… his sanity it sometimes felt like, all gone. For forever it would seem. The only way to get it back would be to get the boys back. And that had failed miserably so far. It seemed that there were blatant complications he had overlooked when he proposed the idea of cryogenic-freezing and the "re-nascence" process. Their organs had been starved of oxygen, and their blood had long since turned stale. Whilst he and Brains', and the hundreds of others he had employed to research how best to reverse this, things didn't look hopeful. Tracy Enterprises had opened a whole new department into the research and development of it but so far little had been achieved. Jeff was no idiot, he knew these things took years, but years were things he didn't have. He needed his children back, now. Right now. They'd been gone what seemed an eternity, and whilst he could remember how they'd died – five images that haunted him day and night - and could remember finding out they'd been taken, could remember all of it as if it were yesterday, he was forgetting… other things. He could remember the pain, but not the memory and it should have been the other way round. He was forgetting Virgil's voice, John's laugh, things a father should never forget, and he'd be damned if he was going to. If re-nascence wasn't going to work, he'd just have to find another way…