Dark mirror

Author's notes: I am making a change from my normal practice of publishing complete stories and posting this as a serial. There will be six weekly parts. Anyone wanting a sneak preview of the whole can contact me privately for details of my numbered Swiss bank account (:-)

Warning: You will need to have read 'Family ties' before reading this, in order to understand certain parts of this story.

The first chapter of this story takes place almost a year after the end of 'Family ties' and just before the start of 'Scars'. The rest begins the following year. All dates and ages based on Chris Bentley's 'Complete book of Thunderbirds'

My thanks to my friend Jude for her comments that sparked off this story, and to Purupuss and Closetfan for proofreading.

I acknowledge Carlton plc to be the copyright owners of the 'Thunderbirds' characters and thank Gerry Anderson and his team for creating them.


Prelude: Night thoughts

A moon that was a few days past full hung in the sky over Tracy Island. The only sounds to be heard were the lapping of waves on the beach and the wind rustling the fronds of the palm trees.

Scott Tracy sat up and gently eased himself off the bed, careful not to wake his sleeping wife. The rescue in Turkey earlier that day had meant working in a vastly different time zone, and he always felt after such a mission that he had missed out on several meals. Still, the guys had all worked well, and their father had been pleased with them, even though there had been some casualties. At one time he would have viewed any deaths as a failure, blaming himself for not having done more, but since his marriage to Elizabeth she had been trying to teach him not to judge himself so harshly.

He held his breath as Elizabeth stirred in her sleep, but she did not wake. She had had a hard time over the past few months struggling to cope with the new baby. He had done his best to help, as had the rest of the family, but as his Grandmother had told him 'No new mother ever realises quite how much work a child is until the first one arrives'.

He closed the bedroom door softly behind him and made his way to the small kitchen, where he poured himself a glass of milk. He still had trouble thinking of the apartment as 'his', even though he and Elizabeth had been using it for almost a year – it had been lived in by Tin Tin and her father since they had all moved to the island and he sometimes still expected to see Kyrano coming through the door with his soft tread. However it certainly made things easier with a young baby around, and meant they did not disturb the rest of the household if Ellen was having one of her restless nights.

Scott paused outside the door of the nursery, listening, but could detect no sound from within. Quietly he opened the door and tiptoed over to peer in the crib. The baby was fast asleep, lying with one chubby fist against her mouth. Even after several months she still took his breath away every time he looked at her. She was beautiful: so perfect, so tiny and so fragile. He felt a wave of emotions wash over him: love, pride, and a fierce desire to protect her from all the dangers of the world. He watched for a few minutes, then turned and left the room. As he returned to his own bed he was struck by a thought – had his own father ever stood and watched over him in the same way?


"You have been listening to a live performance of La Boheme from the Metropolitan Opera House, New York Next week's broadcast will be Odette/Odile, Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of the Swan Lake legend". As the radio announcer's voice cut in over the final applause, John climbed down from the astronomical observation tower at the top of TB5 and turned down the volume. Up here he could listen to opera as loud as he wanted – the Emergency Alert would always cut in if a call came through for International Rescue, and he didn't have to worry about any of his brothers banging on his bedroom door to complain about the noise. Though Virgil shared his taste for classical music, even he drew the line at opera, saying the soprano voices set his teeth on edge.

John often thought his parents must have wondered how they managed to have one changeling child so different from all the others. Even as a youngster, he had preferred his own company. Though the others had offered to include him in their activities he much preferred to curl up with a book – there was always so much more he wanted to learn. Still at least now he was able to be of use to his brothers, both with his skill at languages, and as the 'agony uncle' for his brothers' problems. It often struck him as ironic that he seemed to be able to sort out everyone's emotional problems except his own, a fact none of them were aware of apart from Gordon.

He had half wondered if one of his brothers would call tonight. He had known when he first received the call from the danger zone in Turkey that this would be a tough one – with earthquakes most of the casualties usually occurred in the initial tremor: after that, no matter how good the rescue equipment was, or how quickly it could get there, it was mainly a matter of luck how many victims had managed to survive under collapsed buildings. Looking at the clock he guessed they must all be fast asleep by now, so decided to turn in himself, the last notes of Mimi's ariastill ringing in his ears.


Virgil lay awake, his mind still turning over the events of the day. Some of those buildings had suffered far more damage than would have been expected for their size and type. He suspect that sub-standard steel had been used in their reinforcement. He had brought a samples of some of the girders back with him so that he and Brains could run some tests in the lab tomorrow. Any faults that showed up would be reported to the relevant authorities. This was sometimes the part of his job that gave Virgil the most satisfaction – Scott might enjoy the adrenaline rush of a death-defying rescue, but he found fulfilment in analysing what had gone wrong and making suggestions on how such incidents could be prevented in the future. If the rescue had involved vehicles of any kind, then the ideas could be incorporated into Tracy Transport's own vehicles, further increasing the company's reputation for safe transport.

His mind turned to a particular incident in today's rescue. Gordon had had great trouble getting one victim out from a collapsed building. The lifting balloons worked fine in conditions where the floor was not stable enough to use a jack, but they needed enough clear space above for them to operate, which proved difficult in this case. Virgil wondered if a similar device could be made to lift from below. He reached for the sketchpad that he always kept beside the bed and began jotting down a few ideas. As he worked he glanced up at the photograph beside his bed. He had called Amanda as soon as he had got back from Turkey to reassure her that everything was OK. With only two more weeks to go before the wedding, she had joked that she wanted a husband who was all in one piece.


Gordon sat upright with a start, the images from the dream still vivid in his mind. He could feel his heart thudding in his chest as he tried to slow down his breathing. He knew full well why this particular nightmare had come back to haunt him tonight. The old man, his grey beard and white turban covered with dust from the earthquake, had been pinned under a pile of rubble. He spoke no English (or had forgotten it in his fear and pain) but the terror in his eyes had needed no translation. Gordon could well identify with his feelings – after his hydrofoil accident he had spent months immobilised in a hospital bed, and that was the memory that had come back to haunt him tonight. He had tried to reassure the old guy as he worked, using touch and the tone of his voice, but the rescue had been tricky and he knew the old man had been in a bad way by the time they had managed to free him. It would be good for his own peace of mind if he could trace the old guy through hospital records and find out if he was going to be OK, but he knew it would be difficult without knowing his victim's name.

Gordon rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. It was no use – he knew he would not be able to get back to sleep in his bed tonight. Ah well, there was always the old cure. Picking up his bedclothes he let himself out through the patio door that led onto the garden and made his way down to the beach. There he made himself comfortable under one of the palm trees, where, lulled by the sound of the waves, he eventually drifted off to sleep.


Alan gently released his grip on Tin Tin and laid her back down on the bed. He hesitated for a moment as she gave a little whimper, but she seemed to be quieter now. He watched her, a worried frown on his face. Her nightmares seemed to be getting more frequent: this was the third one in a week. They always took the same form – that the mysterious person who had caused her father's death was going to take control of her mind as well. "He's getting stronger, Alan" she had sobbed earlier, "I can feel him. I can't hide from him. He's coming for me,. I know he is!"

Alan had not been there on the fateful night that Kyrano had died, but his father and brothers had told him what had happened, and the whole family had tried to make sense of Kyrano's dying words. They had an idea that this might be the person who had been after their secrets for so long, and had once taken both Tin Tin and Brains captive on their expedition to Lake Anasta. However since that night there had been no sign of their old adversary, and they had wondered if breaking the telepathic link he had had with Kyrano had backfired on him in some way.

None of this seemed to be of any help to Tin Tin. Her fears seemed to be increasing as the anniversary of her father's death approached. Alan wished he could get her some professional help, but with the secrecy of International Rescue at stake, the idea of seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist was out of the question. He wrapped his arms protectively around his wife's slender form. He was due to go back up to the station next week, and did not like the idea of leaving her while she was in this state of mind. He wondered if he could persuade his father to let Tin Tin accompany him on this trip.


In the long-stay ward of a mental hospital in Malaysia a man woke in the early hours of the morning. One of his eyes was missing, and his face horribly scarred as if it had been eaten away by small animals, but for the first time in nearly a year he knew who he was…


Next instalment will be posted Saturday 20th Nov a.m. (GMT)