Beam Me Up, Scotty
Thunderbirds belongs to Carlton, Gerry Anderson Productions and people who are not me
This story was written in response to the 2006 Tracy Island Writers Forum's Silly Fic Title challenge. Thankyou to quiller for her editing work. All remaining errors are my responsibility.
"You know what, I think I'd really like a transporter to beam me out of here now," he stated into the darkness that surrounded him.
John managed to convey a lot of concern through that one word question. Alan didn't blame him, he was more than a little apprehensive as well, not that he would admit to it. His brothers would expect him to behave professionally and that's what he intended to do despite his fears that this time he wouldn't be walking away.
He laughed out aloud for John's benefit and as an attempt to convince himself that he really was handling the situation well, but he stopped when he heard the slightly hysterical edge to the sound.
Even though it was pitch black and no one was near enough to see him, Alan nodded. "Yeah, don't worry I'm not losing it yet." Alan shifted position, trying to conserve as much of his body heat as he could by keeping himself above the growing pool of freezing slush. The new position wasn't much better but every little bit counted.
"Well you had me worried with that transporter talk. You do know there's no such thing right? It was just a vid, not real."
Alan laughed lightly, his teeth chattering from the cold. "Sure, I know that, but next you'll be telling me there's no Santa."
"Of course there's a Santa." John said sounding scandalized at the mere thought.
Alan smiled, feeling a little more relaxed. If John could joke then maybe it wasn't as hopeless as it seemed.
"You gotta admit something like that transporter would be pretty handy right now."
Alan pressed the light button on the side of his watch and made an assessment of his situation in the feeble light thrown by the barley functioning device. He was in trouble and he knew it. He wasn't sure exactly how deep the ice fissure was that he'd fallen through but from the lack of light filtering through from the sunny day above he knew it had to be deep. It was a near miracle how he'd survived when the snowcat he'd been trying to reach lay crushed and buried somewhere below him. Unfortunately the walls of his little refuge were slowly subsiding and a massive weight of snow and ice was suspended a mere few feet above his head. When the walls finally gave way the weight would be more than enough to press him down and constrict his breathing until… Alan shook his head to clear away the depressing train of thought.
Virgil and Gordon were working on a rescue half a world away but he had no doubts that Scott, Brains and his father with help from John on the station would be working quickly to find a way out of this for him. The light showed that during the nearly twenty minutes that he'd been trapped things had got worse. The walls of his little ice cave were not holding up well. Soon, maybe in as little as an hour, he'd be covered. Then his core temperature would fall despite his protective suit. Assuming he could still breathe, frostbite would destroy his extremities and then soon after that he'd fall asleep and there wouldn't be any need for his brother to hurry.
Alan wished he could talk directly to Scott but his watch had taken a hard hit and was all but useless. At least he still had voice contact with John through Thunderbird 5's powerful and incredibly sensitive receivers. Without that, it was doubtful anyone would know he had survived the initial fall. Reluctantly Alan released the button, plunging himself back into darkness.
"Hey John, what was the name of the ship in that vid?"
"Uh, Enterprise, I think."
"Huh, yeah, that was it. Not a bad show considering it's about a hundred years old."
John laughed. "Are you insane? That was the corniest thing I've ever seen!"
"What? It's one of the c-classics… and it must have been pretty cool for its time." Moisture had finally saturated his suit and the wetness began to leach the warmth from his body. Alan shivered.
"Okay, I'll admit that. The episode we watched where the captain. What was his name? Kurt? Where Kurt had to save the beautiful green-skinned princess from a space monster then his crew had to come to his rescue was pretty good."
'Ha! I knew it! You were faking being asleep! You were just as into it as I was, admit it!" Alan chortled at having caught his older brother out.
"Alan, you did see that girl, right? And what she wasn't wearing? Of course I watched it."
Alan shivered, the cold almost painful and futilely tried to get warmer by pulling his damp coat closer to his body. "That was the s-show where they used the transporter to save the d-day."
"Back to that are we?"
"Yeah, it would be great. You could just beam me out of this damn hole and up to F-Five with you."
"Alan, you have no idea how much I wish I could do exactly that. In fact I'd beam you straight to the island infirmary if I could."
"Make it somewhere sunny and warm by the pool and you've g-got a d-deal."
John laughed a little but there was no real amusement behind it. Alan could tell John was worried. "Sorry, buddy, but I think we're going to have to do this the hard way."
Alan suppressed another shiver but couldn't quite keep the shake from his voice. "I g- guess it is a b-bit much to expect Brains to invent a transporter in the next fifteen minutes j-just because I need it."
"We could ask him, I've no doubt that if anyone could, it would be Brains."
"He's a real miracle worker… Hey that's who the engineer, Scotty, in that vid reminded me of, Brains. Not in personality but he always pulled off the most amazing repairs and technical solutions. Between him and the green alien guy, Spork, they had all the answers."
"Alan, Spork wasn't green, he just had green blood, remember? Apart from the ears he looked human."
"Oh, yeah you're right. He had pointed ears and a bad haircut." Alan said thoughtfully.
"Odd hair and facial marks were the only way to tell the aliens from the humans."
"Yeah and the less human the alien the more you could be sure they were the bad guy."
"If only it was that simple in real life. What a predictable show."
Alan shrugged. "Predictable is not always bad and it had it clever bits."
"Like what precisely?" John said, clearly amused.
Alan knew John was pursuing the conversation to help him keep his mind off his predicament and he was grateful for it and in truth he was enjoying the topic.
"Well, I liked the technology and the ship… the Enterprise was pretty cool."
"You liked it because it could go fast."
"Hmm, warp speed does sound like fun. That would be exciting, I'd-d like t-to try it someday. I did like that bit. "
"Hey, better than a certain brother who just minutes ago admitted he watched the vid for the half naked women."
"And you didn't notice them? Well, maybe when you're older and all grown up you might understand the attraction."
"Oh very funny." Alan's shivers felt more like convulsions rocking his whole body.
"I thought so, but you're right, the technology they thought up isn't far from what we have. Our watches are the same thing as their communicators and Brains' thermal imagers would give their scanners a lot of competition. It's a little prophetic when you look at it."
"I wonder if Brains has been sneaking a look at the vids to come up with ideas for his inventions." Alan mused smiled into the dark.
"Maybe so… Alan, Scott's just signalled that he's approximately ten minutes from your location."
"Ten minutes," Alan tried to keep the disappointment from his voice. Ten minutes for Scott to arrive, at least another ten or fifteen minutes at a minimum before he could even begin tunnelling to him and then at least an hour to affect the rescue. In all he was looking at about ninety minutes before Scott could get him out. The timetable ran through Alan's mind and he knew without a doubt that he simply didn't have that kind of time. As if to highlight his thought a large clump of freezing slush fell, landing with a wet thump against his chest. Alan brushed it away as best he could. He pulled his legs in tight to his chest and wrapped his arms around his knees as he fought another convulsive shiver.
He resisted the urge to use his watch's light again to check the walls, he knew he wouldn't like what he saw. He was trapped, cold, wet and miserable; watching the walls slowly crumble around him was simply not going to help. Long before Scott got to him he would be struggling to keep his head clear of the rising, crushing slurry of ice. It would be a miracle for Scott to arrive while he was still alive and far more likely that his eldest brother was going to be forced to pull his lifeless body out of this hole. It wasn't something he really wanted to think about.
He cleared his throat. "You know what was best about that show?" he asked, trying to imagine that the lack of light was really the open vastness of space instead of a slowly collapsing hole in the ground. It helped knowing that although John was physically far away he was listening and there for him.
"More than the warp speed, and alien princesses?"
"I liked that they were a real team, almost a family, and they spent most of their time saving people. It reminded me of us."
"For explorers they really did do a lot of rescues… so... if we're them, I guess Scott would have to be Captain Kurt then huh?" John said, feigning an innocent tone.
Alan barked a genuine laugh. "Hooking up with beautiful damsels in distress everywhere he went? Yes, definitely."
Alan chuckled at the mental image of his eldest brother wearing a gold uniform and standing with feet a stride apart on the flight deck of Thunderbird 1 while affecting a hero's pose. Just like the captain of the Enterprise had done on a number of occasions.
"So I guess, since I'm the scientist of the family I'd be Mr Spork then?" John sounded strangely hopeful at the prospect and Alan grinned evilly.
"Actually since you run the communications centre I was thinking you'd be more like that token girl on the bridge… you know… the receptionist."
Alan could almost hear John fuming.
"Oh, that's very nice, thanks very much. The girl? Great, that's just great."
"Oh, all right, will you relax? You can be the doctor. McCoy I think his name was. He was the guy who everyone went to with their problems."
"Hmm, better… not great, but okay. So, are you Spork then?"
So cold. It was getting hard to think. "Nah, Virgil is S-s-spork, no question about it. Can you think of anyone more straight, s-serious and focused? It has to be Virg. I'm Sulu, the pilot."
"Trust you to remember the name of he guy who flew the ship."
"Professional courtesy," Alan smiled, and then shivered hard.
"So if you're Sulu, Gordy would have to be the Russian guy."
"Sulu's friend, the one that was always getting into t-trouble or hurt to provide the comic relief-f."
John's tone became conspiracial, "Don't tell him I said this but Gordy's funnier."
"N-no argument, but the Russian g-guy did have a few good one-liners"
"Alan, Scott's with you now."
Alan listened and was rewarded with the muted but distinctive roar of Thunderbird 1's rockets coming closer. Several more solid clumps of snow and ice fell on him from the vibrations as Scott passed by. Alan turned on his watch light once more and was disheartened to see the walls of his tiny prison looked only moments away from collapse. It wouldn't be long now. Alan did not want to die but he knew if he did his biggest regret would be the certainty that Scott would find a reason to blame himself for it. Most likely for not being superhumanly fast enough to get him out in time.
Alan rested his head on his knees, partially to protect his exposed face from the still falling chunks of ice but mostly because he was so tired he couldn't keep it up any longer. At least he was no longer being wracked with shivers from the cold as he had been. He knew that was not a good sign and he realized he could barely feel the cold anymore. His body was succumbing and for a brief moment Alan considered simply surrendering. The moment passed and he forced himself back into awareness. It just wasn't in the Tracy nature to give up and it wasn't in his nature to simply accept his fate.
"John, what's happening?" Alan asked surprised at how rough his voice sounded.
"Are you all right? You've got to stay with me here, kiddo."
John sounded desperately worried and Alan realized he must have slipped further away than he'd thought.
"S-still here, J-john."
"Good, stay that way. Scott's come up with a plan that may get you out of there a little faster but it's risky."
"Sounds great, let's do it."
"You haven't heard it," John said in mild reproach.
"I'll try pretty much anything at this point. I'm running out of time John. If it has the slightest chance of getting me out of this I'm willing to take the c-chance."
John outlined their older brother's plan and as he spoke Alan got a clearer understanding of how worried Scott had become. The plan was simple and terrifyingly prone to failure. There would be no margin for error and far too many factors relied on guesswork and plain old-fashioned luck. Alan was feeling distinctly unlucky at the moment so he had to hope his eldest bother was carrying enough for both of them or he was dead.
"Are you ready, Alan?"
"As ready as I'll ever be. Tell Scott to go ahead."
Alan looked upward in the darkness. Somewhere far above him Scott and John would be using the weak signal from Alan's watch to try and accurately pin-point his exact location then when they were sure Scott would fire Thunderbird 1's lasers. If everything went perfectly Scott would be able to burn a vertical shaft through the ice close enough to Alan that he would be able to break through to it but not so close that the beam from the laser would hit him. Then Scott would need to drop a line from his ship through the hole to him. Alan would need to move fast to retrieve the line and secure it to himself before the shaft started to collapse. Then it would be a simple matter of pulling him free up the shaft and to safety.
Simple… assuming Scott didn't miss and kill him outright with Thunderbird 1's powerful lasers or that he didn't blast the shaft so far from him that he couldn't dig through to it in time. It required Scott to accurately drop the line directly down the shaft without it snagging or becoming fouled before it reached him, a nearly impossible task even for someone of Scott's tremendous skill. The plan also assumed that they would be able to pull him clear before the snow and ice subsided and closed the hole back up, burying him forever.
As crazy as it was it was still a better plan than trying to dig to him using conventional methods. There was no doubt that he would be long dead before they could reach him at least this way he had a chance and whatever happened it would be over quickly. They would only have time for one shot at this by the time they got reset and ready for another attempt he would be in no condition to move. Already he could no longer feel his fingers and had to concentrate hard to make them move. Despite his will his body was shutting down from the cold.
Suddenly Alan noticed that there was a glow coming from the wall of his dark prison immediately to his left. As he watched the color of the ice changed from black to a deep red and finally to a bright orange. Steam began to pour from a crack in the ice and it washed over his body in a thick cloud.
"Stop!" he yelled knowing the danger.
Alan ducked his head and tried to protect his exposed areas as best he could but his left side caught the brunt of the flow. At first the steam was a pleasantly warm sensation as it washed over his head and hands soothing his chilled exposed skin but then he felt the heat burning him and screamed in pain. Mercifully John must have heard his warning cry because the beam shut off and the steam coming through the widened vent eased.
"Alan! Can you hear me?"
"Y-es," Alan groaned through the pain, no longer sure exactly where it was coming from.
"Alan, there is no time. Scott's lowering the cable to pull you out. Can you get to the shaft?"
"Uh, yeah, I'll try," Alan said pulling himself over to where the steam had come from. It wasn't far to the shaft. Less than two feet of soft material for him to dig through but it was one of the most difficult distances Alan had ever travelled. His body was nearly unresponsive and in the end he'd simply just pushed himself through the last bit.
Seeing the cable waiting for him was and intensely welcomed sight. Looking upward he could see a small patch of sky with the underside of Thunderbird 1 framed perfectly in the centre. Having Scott so visually close caused a rush of warmth and hope through him. For a moment Alan believed he was nearly home, and then he tried to pick up the end of the cable and discovered his hands no longer obeyed him.
He'd nearly come to tears when faced with the monumental task of trying to attach the cable to the harness hook on his suit. It took several attempts to get even the minimal required cooperation from his fingers and the clip snapping into place came as a surprise. Perhaps not all of his luck had vanished after all.
"John, I'm hooked on. Tell Scott to beam me up," Alan giggled in relief feeling giddy and disconnected from his body.
The cable began to retract an Alan felt himself lifted. He wasn't sure what happened next but saw the cable brush against the side of the shaft then suddenly the comforting sight of Thunderbird 1 vanished. Alan lifted his arms over his head in a warding motion then a crushing weight hit him from above. His world went black again but this time the darkness and silence was profound.
Alan was vaguely aware that he should not be comfortable, his clouded memory told him he should be in pain but he was. He was also warm. Opening his eyes was no easy job, but when he managed it he found reasons for the comfort and warmth. He was laying on a bed in the Island's infirmary, his body covered with soft warm blankets and an IV, no doubt loaded with pain killers, taped to the back of his forearm. Scott sat by his side and Alan was not in the least surprised by his brother's presence. He was mildly surprised to see that his eldest brother was asleep, the occasional soft movement showing that the other man was dreaming. Alan wished his brother pleasant dreams.
His own dreams and reality had become a confusing mix in his memory. Alan remembered the rescue being called off as the people they were looking for turned out to not even be in the danger zone. He remembered John's urgent warning to evacuate himself and his hurried attempt to get back to the supposed protection of the snowcat before the avalanche hit.
He remembered he actually had the door of the vehicle open when he ran out of time. The sensation of falling was so vivid he knew it had to be real but he didn't remember landing instead he remembered being in space. Strangely he wasn't in his own much loved Thunderbird 3 but on a ship he didn't recognise, but he did remember he flew her very, very fast.
The vista of space faded into a different kind of darkness and he knew he was trapped in a deep, dark, cold hole with no hope of escape. He'd felt amazement that he'd survived relatively in one piece, somehow ending up in a freak air pocket while the snowcat was crushed and buried somewhere below him. He'd felt lost, isolated and afraid that he was going to die alone with the knowledge that his family would never even find his body. He'd been vaguely disappointed that his death was going to be a pointless waste. He'd always hoped that if he did have to die it would be for something a little nobler than a false alarm.
There was a beautiful exotic woman walking toward him and Alan was confused as to how she could stand the cold in that outfit. One by one his family appeared around him but while he could recognise them they had changed. Brains no longer suffered from a stutter but for some reason had developed a deep Scottish brogue. It was disconcerting. Tin- tin's skin tone darkened her curves becoming even more interesting and she'd changed her customary elegant dress style for something distractingly short. Virgil, well Virgil just looked odd and when Alan had pointed that out to him he'd merely raised a single eyebrow. Scott had traded his blue uniform for a gold one, claiming that it was a far more heroic shade and Alan was seriously worried about his brother.
"Alan, hey come on Alan, wake up!"
Alan's eyes snapped open. Relief flooded through him as he realized that he had fallen back to sleep and had only been dreaming. The confused images had been a mix of reality and imagination and he really wasn't slowly freezing to death anymore. Scott had saved him, and pulled him out of that hell hole. Alan sighed when he saw Scott standing by his bed wearing a simple casual grey and red shirt, no uniform of any color in sight.
"You all right? You seemed to be having a hell of a dream," Scott commented.
Alan sighed again and let go of the last remnants of confusion. Even though he suspected his confusion was mostly due to side effects of the pain medication he vowed he was never again going to watch ancient vids to all hours of the night with John again. Not even warp speed and scantily clad princesses just were worth it.
He looked up into the warm and concerned eyes of his brother. The real one, not the wooden, larger than life super-hero captain from his confused dream but the real faults and all man who had been there for him his whole life and he smiled.
"I am, thanks to you."
"I'm just glad you' re going to be okay," Scott said sincerely.
A moment of quiet passed between them before Scott spoke again. "Alan, who is Captain Kurt?"