This one follows hard on the heels of Viper, as the family gathers together and attempts to head home. It is alternate universe, with one or two original characters thrown in, and some new situations.
Virgil Tracy practically hurled himself into the pilot's seat of Thunderbird 2, mind racing far ahead of his body as he checked his Bird's systems and keyed up the massive engines. Three weeks earlier, he'd put her down in the Mojave Desert, as close as he safely could to Los Angeles, then joined in the hunt for his missing brothers. Now, mission accomplished, it was time to go home.
In the copilot's seat, John used a secure code to contact the main computer on 5. Flying from California to the Island with dawn approaching, they were going to need radar cover and clear air space, or risk being spotted and followed.
The brothers hadn't many features in common besides a certain shared firmness of expression. Virgil was two years younger, dark of hair and eye, with the sort of square-jawed good looks one associated with cowboys and fighter pilots. John, at 22, was quieter than his husky brother. He was tall and slender; a fair skinned blond with blue-violet eyes and a face almost too beautiful to be masculine. John Tracy looked the most like his mother. Virgil was all Jeff's. And right now, both were in a tearing hurry to leave.
The big green cargo lifter began to vibrate around them as her engines came to full, thundering life.
"John...?" Virgil questioned tensely, eyes never leaving his instrument panel.
"We're good," his brother grunted. "Shadowbot's loaded and ready."
Virgil nodded in response, adding,
"Up as soon as Scott returns, then. Wanna go back and make certain everyone's strapped in?"
His taciturn brother made a few last keystrokes, then rose and strode for the rear hatch. Moving on to the next item on his pre-flight checklist, Virgil hit the comm, saying,
"Base from Thunderbird 2. On our way, Brains, just as soon as Scott gets back with the ladies."
"F- F.A.B. Virgil," The engineer's image came over the forward comm screen; skinny, pale, and drooping with exhaustion. "Are, ah..., are the boys alright?"
"Both alive..., but they'll be needing the red-carpet hospital stay, 'specially Gordon," Then, with a long sigh, "ETA fifty-five and one half minutes from take off."
"U-understood, Virgil. We'll, ah..., we'll be r- ready for you."
"Thanks, Brains." Virgil smiled a little, rubbing at an achey spot on his forehead. "Be good to get home."
Meanwhile, John had passed through the hatch and into the rear crew cabin, where a number of drop-down bunks and passenger seats accommodated still more family, most of them in various states of disrepair. The first he encountered were Alan and Gordon.
Alan, his right arm bound up to immobilize a broken collar bone, was perched uncomfortably at the edge of a nylon-webbed bunk, clinging with his good hand to the coated chain that bound cot to bulkhead. Gordon was strapped into the narrow bed; over three hours since their rescue, still unconscious. Not a good sign.
Alan Tracy was a baby-faced blond with round blue eyes and more mischief than a house full of cats, but at the moment he simply looked worried. Guilty, too. He watched Gordon as though afraid his brother would vanish if not guarded. Said John,
"You need to sit down and strap in, Alan. That's a dangerous position."
But Alan merely hunched up a bit, saying,
"Someone needs to be here, for when he wakes up. Waking up by yourself sucks, when you're injured."
"So does getting thrown across the cabin when turbulence hits." Then, as Alan's soft face took on the stubborn, sullen look that so often forecast trouble, "I'll make you a bargain. Promise to stay in it, and I'll pull down the upper bunk. That way you can be right here, and secured for flight. Deal?"
Alan's face cleared a bit, and for an instant, he almost smiled. Moody little fellow.
"Yeah, okay. Deal. And, uh..., I know Dad already told you..., but thanks for finding us, John."
His older brother had already lowered the top bunk.
"Not a problem," he said quietly. "I'm only sorry I didn't figure things out a little sooner." He looked down at Gordon's still face as he said this, adding, "Never on time when it really matters...,"
Alan didn't reply, merely accepted John's help to clamber into the higher bunk, but for the first time in his life, he wondered if his perfect older brothers... Scott, Virgil and John... Might they occasionally feel the same stabs of worry and doubt that he did? Could it be that even they were uncertain sometimes, and scared?
...No. Didn't seem likely. All of them, but John particularly, were above all that. They had to be.
A sudden, frantic babble of female voices interrupted Alan's reverie. TinTin, it sounded like, and his mom. John gave Alan a brief, expressionless nod, then left for the back of the crew cabin. Alan barely had time to notice.
His mother hurried across the deck, almost running, uttering a frantic little noise that was half his name, half sob. Reaching his side, she planted dozens of kisses on him, stroking his hair, sniffing his newly medicinal scent and crying. Alan tried to squirm away, as well as he could with a broken collarbone.
"Mom, I'm okay! For real, I'm fine...! C'mon, Mom! Not in front of everybody!" (By which he meant TinTin. Once the dust settled, she'd never let him live this down...!)
"I know, I know..., I'm sorry, Baby! I was just so worried. You didn't call, you didn't come back, and then the car dealership, and your father didn't know anything, either, and..., and...," Gennine took a few very deep breaths, trying to calm herself. At times like this, she had a regrettable tendency to babble. "Um...," She began again, "It's okay, though, Baby..., because I know you're growing up..., and I totally support your need for independence." Another long, shaky breath, and then she changed the subject. "Where's your brother?"
Alan's expression darkened, shifting in mere seconds from annoyed to bleak.
"Down there," he replied, very quietly.
Stooping to peer into the lower bunk, Gennine whispered,
"Oh, no..., oh, Sweetie...!"
Gordon lay pale and quiet, his stillness too deep to be natural. Like Alan, he had a sharp chemical scent to him, alien and upsetting. Gennine bit her lip. Scott had told her some of what had happened, but not that the boys had been so viciously injured. Putting a hand to Gordon's bruised forehead, she said,
"Hang on, Sweetie; they're hurrying."
This, then, was why she'd abandoned Jeff Tracy, all those years ago; this madness of his that flung his sons into harm's way, trying make up for the loss of his first wife by saving the lives of others. That..., and the loneliness.
Someone had come over to stand beside her. Gennine stiffened. She didn't need the faint aroma of 'Platinum Egoiste' , cigars and power to tell her that Jeff was nearby. The prickly skin on the back of her neck would have done it.
He cleared his throat, so she steeled herself and looked up. Her former husband was bent over slightly, one arm resting on the edge of Alan's bunk. Gennine had to throttle the urge to strike it away.
"Brains 'll have them patched up good as new in no time," he informed her. "It'll be alright. You'll see."
She supposed he meant to be comforting, but Jeff's casual tone rubbed her entirely the wrong way. Raising a hand to cut him off, Gennine said (almost firmly),
"Jeff, this ends today, here and now. I mean it. As soon as he's healed enough, I'm taking Alan, and moving away. And if you try to find us, or pull him back into this... insanity... again, I'll go to the police. I will do what I have to, to keep my son safe!" Her other hand, resting on Gordon's shoulder, closed into a small, determined fist. "Gordon, too, if he wants to come with us."
Jeff's face hardened; craggy and severe as a granite cliff side.
"We'll discuss this later, Gennine, when you're through being emotional."
And with that, Jeff Tracy straightened, turned on his heel and left, heading down-cabin to the icy blonde that watied there. For just an instant, Gennine and Penelope locked gazes. Then Gennine looked away. She was no match for Penelope Creighton-Ward, and she knew it. The Brit was welcome to Jeff, his fortune and everything else. All Gennine wanted was a normal life somewhere sane and safe, along with her boys.
Back in the cockpit, meanwhile, Scott Tracy was making ready to leave. Clasping Virgil's broad shoulder, he gave his brother a fond shake, saying,
"I'll meet you back at the island, as soon as possible. Fly safe, and take care of the others."
Virgil nodded slowly, looking rather troubled.
"Not second-guessing you, Scott," he began, hesitantly, "But..., are you sure? Father won't likely...,"
Scott cut him off.
"Yeah, Virge. I'm sure. She's a friend..., maybe more than that, and I'll be damned if I'm going to leave her behind while the Hood, and God knows who else, is out there hunting us. If they tracked us as far as Gordon and Alan, Cindy's in danger, too, and I won't desert her. Period."
"Okay." Virgil accepted his older brother's decision, and made it his own. By this time, John had returned to the cockpit, catching the tail-end of the conversation. Glancing over at him, Virgil continued. "Do what you have to. We'll run interference."
Scott smiled at his brothers, his blue eyes reflecting a depth of emotion he'd never express in words.
"Thanks, both of you. See you back at the rock." Then he was out the hatch, down the ladder, and gone.
Resuming his seat, Virgil strapped in, taking hold of the steering yoke and throttle.
"Ready?" He asked John. When his brother nodded, he said, "Let's go home."