All characters belong to the Andersons and Carlton, I'm just borrowing them to have a play for a little while.
First time on this site. Hope you enjoy! Please R&R.
"Thunderbird 5 to Tracy Island! Mayday! Mayday - "
His call was ended abruptly as the missile impacted with the station and then there was nothing but the bright blinding pain of the explosion. He was vaguely aware of being hurled back through the station and had about a second to worry about the inevitable contact with the opposite wall before he then did and suddenly everything went dark.
It was calm and peaceful somewhere in his mind. There was no pain, no smoke filling his lungs, no piercing wail of emergency sirens. He sat there slumped back against the wall, trying to locate the place in the back of his thoughts where reality could not enter. But it was too late. He was now too awake and too aware of his surroundings to slip back into the darkness.
Slowly he began to pull himself up from his crumpled position down where the base of the docking hatch merged with the floor grating. Moving was a mistake. Now the dull ache between his shoulder blades had became searing pain and he held his breath as he tried to calm the wave of nausea that swept through him. He lifted his right arm and groaned as the action sent further sparks of pain shooting up through his shoulder and across his back. Reaching behind him with his other arm, his gloved fingers brushed against whatever it was that was sticking out of his back and he clenched his teeth to hold back the sob that rose in his throat.
It had to come out. He could not move his right arm and could not breathe normally without burning agony tearing across his back. He closed his eyes and took hold of the shard, feeling every slight movement of the metal imbedded in his flesh as his grip jarred the exposed end.
His head was spinning as he tensed in readiness but somehow he summoned the courage from somewhere within him to just pull. The metal slid free easily and he cried out as a new pain from suddenly exposed nerve endings made him arch his back. Tears trickled down his cheeks as he rested his head back against the wall and swallowed back the bile that had collected in his throat.
After a moment he managed to calm himself and he looked down to glare angrily at the bloodstained fragment of the inner hull he held in his hand. His own ship, his home from home for months at a time, had turned on him.
Warning! Hull integrity failing.
"No kidding!" John managed a husked reply to the gentle computerised voice that had a penchant for stating the obvious.
Emergency force field activated.
"Thank you." John sighed and swallowed hard. Maybe she was trying to help him after all.
Slowly clambering to his feet and muttering a thank you to the still functioning ant-grav plates, John peered along the corridor towards the damaged computer console and the blackened hull beyond. He began forward carefully and shook his head to clear the dizziness.
The main computer terminal seemed fried. John frowned as he brushed off the debris and saw the flickering displays beneath. There was still a little power coming through from somewhere and he quickly assessed the station systems. He edged along the consoles and groaned as he saw that everything was down except the emergency lighting and the automated collision protocols but they took power from the temporary batteries.
Collision. His heart slammed against his chest as suddenly he remembered what had hit the station. He had to contact the island. They would no doubt be on their way up to him right now but he had to tell them to stay away. The automated systems would be announcing possible meteor impact but he had to tell them it was no meteor. He had been targeted.
John clenched his teeth against the pain between his shoulders as he crouched down and grabbed the metal grating on the floor of the main control centre and pulled. Small flames licked at his gloves as he lifted the panel clear and peered at the burned circuits and melted wiring. Ignoring the heat that prickled on the skin of his face, he lay down on his stomach and reached into the hole. He frowned as he tried to identify the charred circuits and quickly removed his gloves to begin the re-wiring.
The connections sparked as he switched the plugs and John held his breath, praying that his existence would not be abruptly ended with a few thousand volts of misplaced cable. The alternative of slowly suffocating to death inside his crippled station was no more appealing but he had to get communications online somehow. Even if it was his destiny to be flung out among the stars by the force of the inevitable explosion of the ruined craft, he had to first warn the others.
John looked back up at the communications console and smiled happily as he saw the terminal lights flickering tauntingly. He clambered to his knees and opened a channel.
"... John ... your ... status ..." Came a disjointed crackle over the radio.
"Dad!" John gasped. "Dad! Can you hear me?"
"... under ... three ... bird five ... um ... John ..."
"Dad!" John groaned in annoyance and scrambled back to the open hatch to adjust the circuitry again.
"John? Can you hear me? Thunderbird 3 to Thunderbird 5. Come in."
John sighed in relief and edged back to the console as the message echoed clearly around the station. "Dad. It was a missile!" He stammered quickly into the comm. "I was targeted, Dad."
The reply was simple and professional but John could hear the relief in his father's voice now that his son had replied.
"Dad, you should stay away in case they fire again." John offered quietly.
"Negative. What is your status?"
John closed his eyes and sat back on his heels. His head was spinning dizzily, both from the effects of the smoke fumes and the confusing conflict of feeling relief that help was on the way but also terrified for the safety of his family. "How the hell did they find us?" He mumbled under his breath.
"That's not important right now."
"That's it, then." John sighed. "It's over ..."
"Thunderbird 5, what is your status?"
John smiled at his father's stern command. He must have heard the fear in his son's voice and was now trying to elicit some kind of professional response that their training ought to drag forward. John looked around at the burning wreckage of the once sparkling neatness of the control centre. "She's ruined ..." He replied huskily.
"We're making our approach. ETA 3 minutes."
John nodded and then gasped as the console beside him exploded. He shielded his face with his arms and waited for the flames to settle before then peering back out at the damage. The emergency sirens ceased as the dim lighting around him began to flicker and he sighed in dismay.
Warning! Emergency power failing.
John groaned and glared up at the invisible source of the computerised voice. He took a deep breath and regretted it instantly as hot acid smoke filled his lungs. He double over as his body shuddered with painful coughs and was sure his breakfast was soon to follow. After a moment he grabbed the edge of the console and pulled himself back up to the communications array. "Dad, hurry!" He managed, "I'm losing all power. Repeat: I'm losing all power!"
"Hang on, John. We're coming in."
John nodded and swallowed hard, grimacing at the bitter taste in his mouth. He was tired and sore but slowly his father's calm response was sinking in. He slowly climbed to his feet and surveyed the ruined consoles, trying to decide where to begin patching up the mess.
Out of the corner of his eye, John saw a familiar red shape glide by the window and he smiled in relief. He turned to watch as Thunderbird 3 slowly adjusted trajectory and he knew that this must be to match the roll of the unstable station. Turning from the consoles, he began towards the docking hatch and then froze as he heard a sickening metallic groan. The lights in the station flickered and died and John closed his eyes.Warning! Emergency force field failing.
The hull ripped apart as if it was made of paper. No longer protected from the vacuum of space, the station expelled its contents out into the blackness. John cried out as he was swept off of his feet and sucked out with the rest of the debris. He collided with the computer consoles as he tumbled from the station and felt the sickening crunch of bones shattering. A brief flash of the red hull of Thunderbird 3 tumbling away from the force of the blast was the last thing he saw before his lungs exploded.
"NO!" John sat bolt upright in the bed, the sheets clinging to his shaking body. He clutched at his chest and tried to steady the breaths that were coming in quick gasps. Slowly he began to calm and he groaned as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He was safe at home in his bedroom. He was not tumbling through space and the loud sound of his still rapid breaths confirmed that his lungs were working fine.
John untangled his legs from the sheets and slowly lowered his feet to the cool tiled floor. He sat there for a moment on the edge of the bed and gradually his heart began to cease it's pounding in his ears.
It was the same every time he closed his eyes. The warning from the computer terminal, the approaching missile and the unstoppable collision. The only thing that his mind randomly altered was the sequence of events that followed. The first time the station had simply exploded as soon as the missile impacted and that was perhaps the easiest version of the nightmare. The adaptation that included him witnessing Thunderbird 3 bursting into a ball of flames was particularly pleasant.
John closed his eyes and hung his head. He rarely slept for longer than a few hours anyway, his intelligent mind a constant hive of activity and worry, but catching a few moments of rest to only be woken by the nightmare of reliving the incident two days ago was becoming annoying at best.
Now finally calm, John listened to the sounds around him and felt the reassurance of familiarity settling on his shoulders. Somewhere beyond the bedroom he could hear the distant rushing of the waves and the wind moving past the front of the house. He smiled as he heard the soft purring of his brother's almost snoring and opened his eyes to try and see Gordon in the darkness. Envious of his younger brother's peaceful slumber, John frowned in frustration and glanced at the bright digits on the clock beside his bed. It was a little after 3 am and he slowly sank back onto the bed with a sigh.
The evening after the attack on the station had been weird. After the race to London and the intensity of everything that had happened, suddenly all of them were chilling by the pool. None of them had spoken of the day's events and even the harsh reality of what the three children had been through was glossed over as they were congratulated for the bravery that had almost killed them.
Then the emergency call had come through and any opportunity for debriefing had been shoved aside. It was as if nothing had happened. They had all slipped into autopilot and dealt with the task at hand. The only difference was that this time they had a new member amid the ranks but there was no time to acknowledge that. John could recall a brief moment before they had left when he had turned to offer his brother a smile filled with pride and reassurance but Alan was preoccupied with the enormity of it all.
The mission was simple and achieved with ease, in comparison with the other events of that day. They had returned to the island tired and quiet, all sinking into bed without the usual revelry and engorging on snacks that had become part of the ritual of a rescue. John had followed them and climbed beneath the covers but had found only the beginning of a seemingly constant nightmare.
The next day they had all scattered. It seemed odd that in the confines of the island there was room for them all to get lost in their own space but that was what they had achieved. John had spent most of the past two days in the laboratory with Brains and Fermat. They made preparations for repairing the station and chatted merrily about various astrology issues, never once mentioning anything of the attack on their home or the maniac that had almost destroyed it all.
Looking up into the darkness, John tried to imagine the remains of Thunderbird 5 hanging helplessly in orbit above them. If he were there now he would most likely be awake and scanning the transmissions being received through the various communications channels or perhaps studying one of the many new stars he had discovered.
Sometimes the solitude would be interrupted by a call from home and, as much as he enjoyed his time alone, he would be glad of the company. It was usually Gordon and he would often be too sleepy to talk much sense but John was touched by his brother's need to hear his voice.
John turned his head and, his eyes now adjusted to the darkness, watched his brother sleeping soundly, knowing that Gordon was able to rest easy only because John was at home. It felt good to be missed and John smiled thinly.
Brains had been able to completely restore the link with Thunderbird 5 and had stated that he thought the damage was easily repairable. He had quoted them an estimate of perhaps five days work before the station was fully restored and they all knew that he intended to work every hour of each one of those days without pause.
John frowned as he thought about the possibility of returning to the station within the week. It stirred up the butterflies in his stomach that had seemingly set up home within him ever since the missile strike. He had never before felt so isolated and helpless and it was a sensation he did not enjoy. The illusion of infallibility that the success of their organisation had somehow generated was shattered the instant the station was targeted and suddenly reality had come crashing down on John. Literally.
Of course, he spent every minute of every rescue mission listening to his brother's transmissions and praying they would be safe but somehow knowing in his heart that they would take care of each other and would all return safely to the island. They simply had to.
John grimaced as a sudden aching started to nag at him and the pain between his shoulder blades slowly spread into his shoulder and down his arm. The torn muscles and nerves were slowly beginning to heal but the tension in his body was not helping the process. With a low groan, John clambered off the bed, pulled on a pair of jogging pants and headed out into the hall.
He wasn't sure quite what he wanted but he wandered across the large open-plan lounge and headed into the small kitchenette. The fridge was loaded with all kinds of comfort food and he smiled as he realised how well they were all taken care of, even their need for sweet, carb-loaded food after a crisis. He grabbed the milk and paused for a moment before then taking a long mouthful direct from the carton, a habit of his brothers' that John hated with a passion. He wiped a few stray drops from his chin and smiled in satisfaction at this out of character recklessness. Suddenly a noise from somewhere beyond the lounge made his heart race and he paused for a moment to listen.
Voices. John put away the milk and peered through the lounge towards the exposed patio and pools beyond. He edged along the kitchen units and stepped further into the lounge to look down towards the source of the sound.
John frowned as he saw the two figures sitting on the edge of the patio above the smaller pool, their hunched shoulders outlined against the backdrop of the moonlit sea and he stepped a little closer to hear their quiet conversation.
"I wish I had all the answers for you, son ... but sometimes you just have to find them for yourself ..."
John watched his father as he turned to look at the young man beside him. His father's gentle frown slowly faded into a fond smile and he slipped an arm around his son's shoulders.
"I so wanted to prove myself ... but ... god, dad ... I was so scared ..." Alan husked quietly and let his head rest on his father's shoulder.
"So was I," Jeff replied softly, "Very scared ... but there comes a time when you learn to use your fear and the strength it can give you, just like you did ... I was so proud of you Alan - you proved yourself as far as I'm concerned. You know that ..."
Alan nodded and sniffed back tears, "You were scared?" He then asked in wonder.
"Yes!" Jeff laughed softly and took a deep breath. He let it out in a long sigh and leaned his head down to rest his cheek on the top of Alan's head. "Scared for you ... scared for your brothers ... scared at what your mother would have to say if I ever let anything happen to you ..."
Alan chuckled slightly. "She'd be pissed, right?"
"And then some!" Jeff smiled, "I tell you, Alan ... she was something when she was mad! ... man ... she had a strength within her that ..." He paused and hugged Alan tighter against him.
"I guess she had to be strong to cope with us." Alan offered after a moment.
"Yeah." Jeff husked.
"I wish I'd known her." Alan mumbled.
John watched the intimate exchange through his tears and was suddenly jealous of his youngest brother; he would have given anything to be safe in the embrace of their father right now. He could remember clearly how a hug from his dad would suddenly put the world in order and for that moment all of his worries would fade away inside the embrace. But this was Alan's time now. John could easily understand what the young teenager was going through after all that had happened and it didn't take a degree in psychology to see past the cheerful façade that Alan had been displaying for the past few days.
Backing slowly away from the private scene that he now felt bad for having intruded upon, John headed into the lower levels and made his way through to the med lab. The place was dark and empty and John switched on one of the small lamps to guide his path across to the medicine cupboard.
The chalky, bitter taste of the pills made him want to vomit but it was the better option compared to the constant pain in his shoulder that was beginning to craze him.
"How many of those have you taken?"
John gasped at the unexpected voice and spun round. He saw the concerned frown on his father's face and for a moment couldn't read the expression.
"I thought Brains gave you a bottle yesterday?" Jeff continued softly, his frown deepening as he stepped further into the med lab.
John shook his head slowly, "It wasn't full. He said I might need more."
Jeff's gaze moved from John's face to the bottle in his hand. "It's easy to get used to taking those ..."
"I haven't had that many, Dad." John protested, suddenly angry, "God, what are you suggesting?"
Jeff regarded his son's hurt expression and his frown faded. "Oh, I'm sorry, John ..." He leaned against the bank of low cupboards beside him and hung his head with a sigh. "I didn't mean to sound so ..." He shook his head slowly, "I'm just worried about you." He said softly as he looked back up at John.
"I'm fine, Dad." John offered carefully.
Jeff managed a thin smile and nodded thoughtfully.
"I just ..." John's hand moved instinctively to his bare shoulder and he rubbed at the tender skin.
"What? What is it?"
"Nothing." John turned and placed the bottle back among the rows of neatly stacked, alphabetized medicines.
Jeff stepped away from the cabinets and moved up behind John. He frowned in concern as he reached out and gently placed his hand on John's shoulder. The spider-web of bright pink scar tissue stood out against the tanned skin and Jeff gazed thoughtfully at the slowly healing burns and cuts.
John closed his eyes and tried to fight the urge to shrug away from his father's gentle touch. The closeness was soothing but also stung the tender nerves of his damaged skin.
"I almost became addicted to Vicodeine after your mother died." Jeff offered quietly.
John froze and closed his eyes as he heard the slight tremor in his father's voice.
"I thought that my pain was something physical that I could cure with drugs ... but all it did was put me into a half-awake stupor for six months." Jeff continued huskily.
"Dad, I'm not - " John turned and paused as he saw the pain that crossed his father's face.
"We can always talk. Can't we, John?" Jeff managed a thin smile and shrugged his shoulders. "If there was something that was bothering you, you'd tell me. Right?"
John nodded slowly and frowned slightly. "Yeah, Dad ... of course." He chuckled nervously and glanced at the still open medicine cupboard. "I'm fine, Dad. I promise."
Jeff's smile faded and he took a deep breath. "Gordon says you're not sleeping."
John laughed gently, "Dad, I never sleep!"
"John ..." Jeff urged.
"I'm fine!" John sighed and reached up to place his hand on his father's arm. "I swear!"
Jeff forced a wider smile to his lips and took a deep breath. "Okay," He sighed and nodded again. "So, you're all set to go up to the station in the morning and help begin the repairs."
"Sure." John replied firmly, his heart suddenly thudding against his chest.