It was lunchtime on the island and Alan had not yet stepped foot in his room or even closed his eyes. His mind racing with the events of the early hours, he had volunteered to man the comm. station and had been deep in thought ever since.
TinTin had been too upset to speak further after her outburst and had fled the lounge to seek sanctuary with her parents. Alan had not dared follow her and had not spoken to anyone as to why the lounge lamp was in pieces in the garbage. Onaha had made no mention of any concerns at breakfast and he had managed to seem his usual cheeky self, only withdrawing into his worries while he was alone.
The gentle humming of active radio and satellite broadcasts persisted in the background as Alan stared intently at the digital world atlas and chewed on his lower lip. It took a moment for him to notice the incoming transmission alarm and when he did he jerked so violently that he almost toppled out of the chair.
"Yeah. Hey, Dad." Alan straightened his collar and dragged a hand through his unbrushed hair.
"Are you monitoring London?"
Alan instinctively glanced away from his father's concerned face and his heart sank as he looked at the TV monitor and saw the live report on the 24-hour news channel. "Shit …"
"Have you spoken to Penny?"
Alan turned back to his father, "No. She hasn't called. Is she - ?"
"She's fine." Jeff assured quickly, "Alan, I need you to call the others. We need to talk."
"Um …" Alan paused in uncertainty.
"Yeah. Uh, talks might have to wait a while." He looked across at the flashing red indicator on a nearby panel and shook his head, his heart racing. "We've got a call coming in."
"Hang on." Alan instructed hurriedly and moved to open the emergency channel. "International Rescue. Go ahead."
"Oh, thank god!" Came the sigh of relief, "This is the research vessel Atlantia. We've got men trapped! There was a tremor on the seabed and a cave in. Our deep sea explorer is wedged under rubble."
"Roger that, Atlantia." Alan frowned as he verified the location of the call and pinpointed the exact co-ordinates. "I have your position." He read out the data calmly.
"Affirmative. We're 150 miles north of the Shetlands. I've alerted the coast guard and the navy have responded but my men have only another two hours of oxygen. They were about to make their ascent when this happened and - "
"Understood, Atlantia. We're on our way." Alan confirmed and pressed his thumb against the hidden control in the front edge of the desk. Placing his hand on top of the print scanner, he waited as the muster alarm was activated and the room began to morph into command and control.
Moving back to the comm. where his father impatiently waited, Alan smiled thinly. "Dad, we're off to the North Sea."
"Understood." Jeff nodded sternly, having heard most of the conversation. "Keep me posted."
"You got it." Alan agreed and signed off, knowing full well his father would no doubt tune his comm. device in to the rescue operation and listen to the mission.
"Alan?" Virgil demanded worriedly, the first to arrive into the office.
"Hey guys." Alan saw Gordon and TinTin running along the corridor and he switched off the loud alarm. "We've got a job."
Virgil hurried round the desk and peered over Alan's shoulder, taking in the data. "I see …"
"Two?" Alan queried, looking up at his brother.
Virgil nodded and stood up straight. "We'll all go."
"Gotcha." Gordon nodded and headed across the office towards the elevators.
"Perhaps I should stay and monitor things from here." TinTin offered warily.
Alan had already noticed her active avoidance of eye contact with him and her body language seemed blatantly obvious now. He stood and began to follow Gordon to the elevator.
"No, your dad will be fine." Virgil replied, "This may well need all of us."
TinTin nodded in understanding and made her way across the office.
"Thunderbirds are go." Virgil muttered under his breath, stepping down from the control desk and waving as Kyrano hurried into the office.
"Be safe!" Kyrano called out to them all.
"FAB!" Gordon replied merrily before the elevator door enclosed them.
The shrill melody of the doorbell echoed through the house. Alex hurried as much as she could down the stairs and jogged through the hall. Opening the door, she felt the chill breeze that wafted inside and stepped back from the entrance.
"Evenin', Miss Winter." Parker offered lightly.
"Hello." Alex smiled, "Come on in."
Parker stepped aside politely, allowing Penny to enter the house.
"How are you doing?" Alex queried, placing her hand on Penny's back and gently leading her into the lounge.
"So so." Penny replied wearily. She sank onto the sofa and kicked off her high heels.
"Kettle's boiled." Alex offered, "Tea?"
Penny nodded and smiled up at Alex gratefully.
"Oh. Please." Parker exited the lounge quickly. "Allow me."
Alex smiled and perched on the sofa beside Penny. She watched in concern as Penny closed her eyes and let her head rest back against the cushions.
"Thank you for letting us stop by." Penny husked.
"I just …" Penny opened her eyes and turned to Alex. "I suppose I wanted to see a friendly face."
Alex grinned merrily, "All but guaranteed here."
Penny nodded. "And much appreciated."
"You look exhausted."
"I am." Penny sighed.
"Still suffering with that bug you picked up?"
Penny closed her eyes once again. "That's what the doctor said it was. He took every test he could think of."
"Poor old thing." Alex cooed. "Maybe you should take a break."
Penny laughed gently, "I don't know how many people have suggested that now." She turned back to Alex. "I can't. Not now. Not with all that's going on."
"I know. I understand how you feel."
Penny regarded Alex in interest and a small smile pulled at her mouth. "I knew you would not do as you were told."
Alex gasped and then broke into a gentle chuckle. "Okay. You got me."
"It was for your own safety, Al." Penny sighed, "You and …" She looked down at the bump under Alex's jumper.
"I know." Alex instinctively placed her hand on her belly. "And I've been careful."
Penny watched her for a moment. "Actually … could I ask a favour?"
Penny lifted up her purse and took out the small USB device. "The data on this needs to be forwarded on a secure network."
"Sure." Alex took the device and stood from the sofa. "To all the usual suspects, I take it?"
Penny nodded wearily, pulling her faux fur wrap closer around her shoulders.
"Cold?" Alex watched Penny agree. "Listen, you're welcome to some warmer clothes. Maybe have a bath?"
"Oh god …" Penny smiled in delight, "A bath would be wonderful!"
"Tea's up." Parker hurried into the lounge with three mugs of steaming drinks.
Penny stood slowly from the sofa. "I will take mine upstairs."
Alex smiled. "I'll get you some towels."
"Thunderbird 4 from Thunderbird 2. How's it looking down there, guys?"
Alan peered out through the front screen and squinted towards the murky lines of eerie green light that the forward beams created through the darkness. "We can barely see ten feet ahead." He complained with a sigh.
"Yeah. The weather's screwing up our imaging, too. It's all the sediment being tossed around." Virgil agreed. "Take it slow, yeah?"
"Slow won't help these men." TinTin observed in a whisper.
Alan turned to her and saw the determination on her face. It was only subtle difference from the scowl she seemed to have fixed in place since Virgil ordered her into the submarine but it was enough of a change to take some of the weight off of him.
"We can see well enough on sonar." TinTin responded slightly louder, answering Virgil's concern. "And …" She glanced at Alan and took one hand from the controls to tap her head.
"Really?" Alan mouthed.
"Still got a visual on the umbilical?" Virgil continued.
Alan turned back to squint out into the muddy sea. "Roger that." He nodded, watching the thick entwined power and oxygen lines snaking up past them.
"Any further contact from the crew?" TinTin enquired.
"Negative. Atlantia reports they stopped responding around 14 minutes ago. But they're not getting static so it's probably the powerline."
"We hope." Alan added quietly.
"Gordon's ready with the towlines and lifting cables. Just give the word."
TinTin frowned at the ultrasound images and sighed heavily. "I hope there's no damage to the craft itself. It'll be hard to achieve a quick ascent if the hull integrity has been compromised."
Alan shuddered at the thought and peered round at the confines of their own craft. "Man … I can't imagine a worse fate … suffocating in a tin can at the bottom of the sea …"
Instantly frustrated with her persistently bad mood and barely able to bite back a sarcastic comment, Alan held his breath and focused on the task at hand.
"I can vaguely pick out three … no … four distinct minds …"
Alan looked back and saw TinTin's face was creased with concentration and effort. Suddenly recalling her unexpected show of violent force the previous evening, his heart began to race as he considered just how powerful she was becoming. And he could all of a sudden understand why she needed to find out more about her growing abilities. A pang of guilt shot through him and he made a mental note to apologise for not being more understanding, deciding that now was not the most appropriate time to try and talk to her.
"Oh my god!"
"What?" Alan demanded urgently.
TinTin hung her head and groaned softly.
"What is it?" Alan reached out a tentative hand and touched her shoulder. "Tin?"
"I … I saw something …"
"What? What did you see?"
TinTin opened her eyes and peered out into the murky sea. "I don't know." She sighed and shook her head. "It's probably nothing."
"Since when have any of your visions been 'nothing' …?"
TinTin flicked her head back to glare at Alan, anger building in response to what sounded almost like sarcasm. But something in his worried face made her annoyance fade and she nodded slowly.
"What did you see?" Alan asked quietly.
TinTin closed her eyes. "An explosion."
"I don't know where."
Alan frowned in thought, "Was it London? Were you thinking of Penny?"
TinTin shook her head and reached up to place her hand over Alan's fingers. "It's always the future."
Suddenly feeling that there was so much more to all this that she had spoken to him about, Alan's heart was thudding in his ears and he clasped her hand. "Try again."
TinTin lowered her head and screwed her eyes shut tighter, adjusting her focus. Alan was sure some of Four's instrument panels flickered as she concentrated but chided himself for his overactive imagination and turned his thoughts back to the task at hand.
"We have you at 1500 feet, Alan." Gordon sounded impatient. "See anything yet?"
"Man … we've got to get them before - "
"Wait!" Alan shouted excitedly, leaning forward to peer out of his craft. "I see them!" His face lit up with a delighted smile and he gazed down at the silvery-blue hull of the exploration vessel, the edges glinting with the bright glare of the forward beams. "I say again. Visual contact!"
"Roger that, Thunderbird 4." The relief was evident in Virgil's lighter tone. "Assess the situation."
"FAB" Alan responded, guiding Four towards the partially covered craft.
"No!" TinTin suddenly gasped and grabbed at Alan's shoulder, her eyes wide and welling with tears. "Alan, it's your father! An explosion!"
Alan stared at her in horror, barely able to take in her words.
"There's going to be an explosion at ISA!"