Summary: One year after the movie ends, the world–as well as International Rescue–has a major problem regarding manned orbital satellites. Set in semi-movie 'verse, blended with a bit of TV-verse and a hefty dose of imaginations.
Rating: T or PG-13. Certain people need their mouths washed out, and others shouldn't play with weapons.
Disclaimer: I don't own Thunderbirds. Nope, nope, nope, can't afford them until I win the lottery. But I like to play with them, and am a card-carrying member of "Characters Whumpers Anonymous." Charter, of course. John quotes from "Beyond the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll, published 1871. Virgil quotes a Sufi/Islamic proverb. Wow, those boys are literate! ;)
Thanks also to both Adam Aircraft (if you go there, you'll see what I mean) and Cessna web sites for potential Tracy civilian aircraft choices. And to both Avatar2 and not-so-wee-Hamish for the beta work, as well as Drew for his patience.
Spoilers: Only if you haven't seen the movie. And the boys refer back to conversations held in both "Driver's Ed" and "Aftermath."
Addendum: A diary/thought process during the creation of this story will be posted on completion at Fanfiction's sister site, ( titled "Orion Armed: Behind the scenes." Any sooner would spoil the story grin , and it has to go there as it's technically nonfiction. Additional comments will also be posted there.
"One more time," Scott coaxed, "You can do it."
The engines whined, and the Adam 700–emblazoned with the Tracy Industries logo on either side of her fuselage–reluctantly yawed to the left. She shuddered–he felt it through the control column–then slowly rolled over like . . . like Virgil waking up in the morning.
She wasn't as graceful as One, nor did she move as smoothly as the Cessna would have. But she managed the rollover all right, and at least the little craft wasn't the behemoth that Two was. That was one craft he'd never tried rolling, and never would. "A little more practice, and we'll have it," he told the aircraft.
He wouldn't have done that with passengers onboard, especially Onaha. Mother-figure to all of them since moving to the island, she would have given him hell first, and then turned him over to Dad for final chewing. But he was flying solo back to Tracy Island, and–if he was careful, and didn't mess up the plane–no one would be any wiser.
It wasn't his usual job, ferrying the family jet. But the rescue business had been slow lately, and he was bored. So when Onaha had needed transportation to Honolulu–from there to hook up with commercial flights to the mainland–he had jumped at the chance. She'd taken two of the Three Musketeers–Tin-tin and Fermat–with her, Alan having elected to stay behind in order to pester for flight time. Which was another reason why he'd volunteered to fly to Hawaii.
His guess was that Tin-tin had gone along simply for the chance to go shopping. As for Fermat, well, Onaha had firmly informed Scott that it was none of his business. And over the past ten years he had learned–they all had–that once Onaha said No to something, pushing the subject was not always a good idea. So he didn't.
The global positioning indicator suddenly spasmed, redirecting his musings. Scott glared at it, and gave the monitor a couple of hefty taps, before he realized the significance of its action. There had to be a Thunderbird in the vicinity. They were designed to do just that, jam GPS and other tracking systems as needed. He reached to a compartment on the control panel, flipped it open, and activated the private communications system hidden there.
He scanned his airspace. There it was! A silhouette at about nine o'clock. Kind of small, probably Thunderbird One, since there wasn't any reason for Three to be out. He didn't think they'd be on a mission, or he would have gotten a message. Training run, maybe? That was a good guess, as Alan was still learning the various machines of International Rescue. But who was with him?
Not him, that was sure. Scott felt a brief flash of resentment, and quashed it down. Dad had two basic philosophies when it came to staffing International Rescue. The first was that everyone was cross-trained on every machine. Sensible, when you thought about it, as they all–except Alan, and his turn was coming–rotated shifts aboard Five. Which, in turn, necessitated rotation among the other Thunderbirds.
Dad's other philosophy was that the best way to know if you understood something, was to teach it to someone else. Hence, the primary pilot of any given Thunderbird was not necessarily the one who always trained someone on said Thunderbird. Scott smiled wryly, remembering his own struggles with teaching, especially on Four and Five. But it went back to Dad's cross-training theory. They each needed to know every piece of equipment.
Well, it obviously isn't me in there, he thought. And Gordon was up on Five, pulling his rotation. So that leaves Dad, John, and Virgil. He pushed the Adam's engines, trying to catch up to One.
After a quick glance at the radio system, confirming the settings, he keyed the mike. "Tracy Two to Thunderbird One."
Silence. He rechecked the radio. The indicator remained dark, even though he was within range, both audio and visual. The silhouette had sharpened, and was definitely One. It had to be Alan on a training run. Anyone else would have answered.
He keyed the mike again. "Okay, Alan," he said, "I know you're there, and ignoring me." He pushed the Adam's engines a bit more. "Want me to see if I can buzz you?"
The indicator glowed. "You'll burn it out again," Alan responded, sounding frustrated.
Scott grinned. He'd gotten his butt chewed pretty good the last time he'd victory-rolled one of their civilian jets, and burned out an engine doing it. They didn't quite perform like One, although one of these days. . . . "Who's your shotgun?" he asked.
"Go 'way, Scott," said Alan, "Or I'll shoot the nose cone at you."
"Not funny, Sprout." Scott frowned. Somewhere, somehow, his brothers had found a company that made toys which looked like International Rescue's vehicles. Or at least, what the company thought the vehicles looked like. They'd put "Thunderbird One"on a cake and presented it to him for his birthday last month. The darned thing had been designed to eject its nose cone like a weapon, something that was physically impossible for One to do. The toy turned up in the oddest places ever since, probably courtesy of Gordon and Alan. It annoyed him, which was presumably why his brothers liked it.
He'd gotten close enough to note that Thunderbird One's right VTOL engine was off. It was also positioned halfway between the horizontal and vertical flight positions. Dad wouldn't have had that problem–neither would I–so that eliminated one option for shotgun. "You've got a VTOL off," he commented.
"I know that," Alan retorted, "We're trying to fix it."
"Oh?" said Scott, his interest piqued, "Trying?" Virgil shouldn't have a problem with VTOLs, even though Two's weren't quite as maneuverable as One's. Andnow that he thought about it; One was definitely going slower than normal. In fact, she was going about as slow as it was possible for her to do without stalling.
His plane caught up to Thunderbird One, and Scott couldn't quite resist a slow buzz. "Did you . . . ?"
"Scott." John's voice broke in firmly, "Go away." He paused, adding emphatically, "Now."
The indicator went off and stayed that way. Scott chuckled. He rolled the Adam again, just because he could, and turned toward home. He didn't know what the problem was with One, but he was certain the situation was something he could hold over both of them, especially John.
Skimming as low as he dared over the island, Scott noted the choppy look of the diving pool. He hadn't beaten them home after all. Then again, One on a bad day had more speed than any civilian plane–and most military ones–on their best day.
Swinging the plane around, he lined her up with the island's runway, landing the Adam precisely in the middle of the strip. He taxied away from the main structures and across the large circular area that also happened to be Thunderbird Two's launch pad. Keeping the main structures to his back, he maneuvered the plane into the hanger on the opposite side of the pad.
From the hanger, a tunnel led under the landing strip. It divided under the house, with one branch leading to an elevator that stopped just outside of Dad's office. The other branch was barricaded by a plain, solid, steel door, with a hand scanner and communications link beside it. That way led to International Rescue's hanger area, and access to all of their equipment.
Scott followed the path of least resistance, heading for the elevator. While this first door only took one hand "signature," it took two to enter the second door leading into International Rescue's hanger. There was an override feature for emergencies, of course, and someone could grant him access from inside. But today, it wasn't worth the bother.
He left the elevator, heading for the ramp that led to the main living areas. Partway down it, his thoughts fixed on the kitchen–and more specifically, the refrigerator–he vaguely heard someone calling his name. Scott stopped, and looked back.
Brains hurried from the office. "Scott," he called again.
His attention still focused on the kitchen, Scott waited until the man had caught up. "What's up, Brains?" he asked, continuing toward the kitchen.
"Gordon called," said Brains, his inherent stutter stretching the sentence past Scott's attention span, "It seems that there's a problem in Thunderbird Five's communications systems. There have been intermittent interruptions with communications."
Scott headed toward the refrigerator. Brains followed, continuing his discourse on Five's problem. Minimally listening to the scientist, Scott opened the 'fridge, and grabbed the first bottle at hand. He twisted off the cap and took a long swig from it.
And immediately spat it out.
The bottle fell to the floor. "What the-!" He broke off and looked at the container. Its contents had a faint pink colour, in spite of the label proclaiming it to be an ordinary bottle of water. He sniffed it cautiously, and recoiled. The damned thing was spiked with hot sauce! Not much, but just enough to spoil it. Scott had a pretty good guess who was responsible, even though that particular suspect was out of reach at the moment.
Pausing in his monologue, Brains looked at him in amused sympathy, au courant with the mercurial relationships between the brothers. As Scott grabbed for paper towels to clean up the mess, Brains picked up the discussion.
"What?" Scott said, distracted from his fuming, "I'm sorry, Brains. I wasn't listening." He threw the towels in the trash, chucked the bottle in after them, and turned his attention to the engineer.
"If we go up to Thunderbird Five," Brains repeated, "I might be able to locate the problem with the communications system before it becomes a major concern. John is willing to fly Thunderbird Three, provided there is a copilot along." He paused, then added, "Alan volunteered."
"I'll bet he did," said Scott wryly, "John's willing to drive, huh? What about Virgil?"
"I haven't been able to locate him," Brains admitted, "He and Alan had an altercation yesterday, after their return in Thunderbird One."
Oh? thought Scott. Altercation was a polite way of putting it. Which reminds me. "What was wrong with Thunderbird One?"
"There is something wrong with One?" Brains stuttered, surprised at the change of subject. "John didn't report any problems, and its post-flight checks were within normal limits."
"Oh?" said Scott, echoing his own thought. What did you do, John? Or what did Alan do that you couldn't fix? He puzzled on this, then realized that Brains was speaking.
". . .be able to run a diagnostic."
Scott shook his head. "Don't bother," he sighed, "I'll round up John, and we'll meet you in Three's silo." Brains nodded, and departed to make his preparations.
Still brooding on the water bottle incident and the earlier situation with One, Scott again opened the refrigerator. He poked among the various bottles in there, searching for one that hadn't been tampered with. Settling on one, he inspected it carefully before opening it, noting with satisfaction that this seal hasn't been broken previously. Still, he cautiously sniffed at its contents. Deeming it acceptable, he downed a fair portion of its contents. He carelessly twisted the cap back on it, and returned the bottle in the 'fridge, before going off to find John.