Hmm. Just kind-of wrapped itself up, this did. I thought there might be another chapter or two in it. Oh well, there's a separate one- or two-part to go with this, on the way; it's all planned out on paper. That bit of the plot didn't quite fit in here, but is completely related to this story.

Hope you have enjoyed coming along for the ride.

15. Endings

Never releasing his grip on the driver's arms that he had just taken, Kurt Schlidt vaulted from the rear of the rapidly descending bus, just clearing the door. Behind him, he dragged the unconscious man, leaving just two within the metal confines of the vehicle, and saving the final civilian.

The International Rescue worker and one of the other firemen had surged forward as it had become apparent that the bus was going to continue slipping. A voice seemed to be shouting out from the younger man's watch, though Kurt had little time to wonder as the breath was knocked from his broad chest as the driver fell a-top of him.

Overhead the giant, green craft seemed to be yawing and flexing across the sky; unable to hold still and as restless as a newly awakened beast. The steel cables were twisting across the blue expanse, the two that had come loose, tangling amongst each other and ferociously clattering the plated under-belly of Thunderbird Two.

Within the metal and ripped, stitching-material lining of the overpass-bus, Virgil sensed (rather than felt, or heard) the final two clamps release. This time knowing that it was deliberate, that Brains was responsible and intentionally freeing the vehicle made his stomach leap a little more.

With nothing to hold it on to the bridge any longer, except the cable that had been wrapped around the axle, which was now loosening and coming free from the tension that had suddenly been put back on it, the bus began to accelerate over the edge.

Then he felt it. A sharp, un-wavering, nudging push.

And thereupon, Virgil Tracy found himself falling over the threshold of the rear hatch, where the front of his shirt was grabbed by two people and pulled to safety.

Collapsing on the tarmac-ed surface between two sets of laced and booted feet, the young pilot shook off the shock just in time to see the bus leave the edge of the overpass, and to hear the thundering, crashing of the vehicle breaking the surface of Lake Oahe and plummeting below the water.

Stunned for a moment, the confusion left him and as he began frantically looking around, Virgil realised who was missing, and with an unforeseen burst of energy vaulted to his feet, yelling,

"Leo! Leo?" And then turning on Scott and Frazier, "Where is he? Where's Leo?"

His brother tried to cut across, tried to explain, but it wasn't until Virgil heard another voice calling the same name, that he quieted. Dillon knelt at the edge of the overpass, shouting Leo's name out, whilst Nathan stood over him, helpless.

Elsewhere, paramedics were rushing to help the bus driver – but to the panic-stricken, teenage rescuer, nothing else existed except the ripples being to fade across the water surface, and whoever could tell him what he needed to know so desperately.

Turning back to Scott, Virgil asked again, this time his voice much softer, slightly broken,


"He… I'm… Virge, he…" The words wouldn't quite form in his mouth, tasting like burnt ashes and bitter lemons.

"He… he pushed you from the bus, but… he lost his balance, and fell back. He was too far away to grab." Frazier had stepped forward; never taking his eyes from the pair of fire fighters crouched on the floor together though.

Aboard Thunderbird Two, same time;

With the last distressed and fraught transmission, Brains had turned off the magnetic points holding the final two clamps in place, allowing them to swing free.

As the red and amber warning lights flickered back to green and stable, the young genius pulled back on the controls and sent the behemoth soaring upwards, so that the flailing, heavy discs couldn't hit anyone.

Then, his previously organised list of priorities destroyed and mangled on the sidewalk, he set about making another. First was to winch the cables back in.

It took time, the wind and rockets were billowing them about, tangling them in the air, making it difficult for the motors to pull them apart. But it was done eventually. With the equipment stored, Brains allowed himself to look back to the outside camera monitors.

Even with the zoom jacked up, it was hard to see people from wreckage, so he keyed in the infrared filters, leaving homo sapiens a glowing yellowy-red colour within a jungle of deep blues and purples.

There were too many people though; more than his two friends and the five Fire Department workers. Medics.

Leaving just one sticky and undesirable option, Brains gritted his teeth, prayed to a God he never really believed all that much in (but that he knew the Tracys did) and sent a comm. message though to Scott.

Just off the bridge, gathering point, a little after;

Medical personnel walked purposefully about the area set-up to receive the injured and victims of the explosion. Just outside of the gathered, sitting on the floor staring out at the horizon was a single figure.

The hovercraft had been sent straight back out to search for Leo Clark, deployed through radio messages and much pleading. Deep inside they all knew that it would never get there in time, unless Leo had managed to swim free himself; but they weren't about to give up that easily, nor leave anyone behind.

The torn and distraught rescue group had left the bridge, some to wait for news of their colleague, some to find just a moment of rest.

The divers had returned just a scant thirty minutes later, and the lone figure had watched them bring a limp form ashore.

Scott had disappeared to speak with Chief Adams; with or without tragedy that was so much closer to home, there was still business to be sorted. Brains had landed Thunderbird Two on the original parking lot, before joining the Field Commander to discuss final plans.

The brown-eyed pilot didn't notice his brother approach him, and was startled a little when someone sat down beside him.

"You okay?"

The younger man shrugged a little, his unseeing gaze never wavering.

"It'll be alright, you know."

A pause followed before Virgil answered softly and quietly.

"I know."

"I've spoken to Chief Adams. He thanked us for our help, but said they were just performing a final sweep of the bridge, and then they'd be done. Nearly everyone's been evacuated now."


"They're going to remove the supports, and if the structure falls, it falls. Apparently scavenger teams will be out in a couple of days to clear up the mess, and then they'll rebuild. I called Johnny; I thought he might find it amusing that his original plan was going to happen. Turns out most of N.A.S.A. has been fixed to the broadcasts being sent out."


Sighing, Scott reached out to his sibling, and put a hand on his shoulder, causing Virgil to turn and look straight at him.

"He knew what he was doing. Leo knew that he might not make it out when he decided to make sure you did. You need to remember that, Virge."

"It doesn't make it any easier though, Scott, knowing I survived and he didn't."

If it had been something that the Tracys did, Scott would have wrapped his arms around his brother at that point, but it wasn't. So he settled for a gentle, lingering backslap, before standing up and holding his hand out to Virgil.

Same place, later;

It had been deemed too dangerous for each support to be pulled out separately, in case the whole structure collapsed downwards, onto those doing the removals.

So braided steel cables had been linked up to each floating platform, and support pole, and then to the hovercraft. The little boat had moved away as far as it could, pulling the ropes taught, before Scott had been winched down from Thunderbird Two, to collect them, and then lifted back up.

Virgil had re-taken the controls of his 'bird, saying he needed the calm that flying brought him, and Scott hadn't argued. Probably be chewed out later by their father (not while in the presence of Virgil) for allowing an emotionally distressed man to pilot any plane, let alone one the size of the Thunderbird, but for now it was worth it just to save arguments. Besides Scott trusted Virgil to say if he really wasn't fit to fly, and he figured it was no more dangerous than allowing his brother to operate the winch, or be lowered himself… right?

Okay. So the Field Commander knew he was lying to himself, but it seemed the best thing to do about then.

Once the cable-ends were inside the craft, they were fixed securely to points on the inside of the hull, and then when signalled Virgil had heated up the engines a little more, pushed forwards on the controls, and allowed the workhorse to pull the supports out from under the bridge, in one swift, clean manoeuvre.

Was a greater risk of the bridge falling this way, but much safer in terms of people and lives. Besides the likelihood was that the overpass would need to be destroyed in order to be built back, stronger.

The Mobridge Fire Department had been given back there support poles at this point, and International Rescue had collected their own floating platforms back in, before the giant craft landed one final time in the town. To say goodbyes, and all.

Chief Adams was waiting for the trio of rescuers, back on the ground, when they stepped back out.

Holding out his hand to the Field Commander of International Rescue, he said,

"Well, I guess this is a final 'thank-you' and good-bye."

Taking the proffered hand, Scott replied,

"Yeah, I guess it is."

"You've been such a help. If any of you are in town again, feel free to drop in and say hello."

It was easier to agree than to decline because of security, the Chief would never know anyway.

"Thank-you. I'm sure we will."

"Well, good-bye."

All four shook hands, and then the mysterious, but never to be forgotten rescuers re-boarded their magnificent planes, leaving in a storm of hissing rockets and fiery exhaust.

Earlier, around Route 12;

Having found the trapped young girl, the volunteer rescuers had called in extra help, and worked to lever the heavy beams off.

A dusty, black-haired boy, who had said his name was Alex, stood patiently waiting at the side. As they had pulled the teenager free, the boy had rushed to her, reaching for and grasping her hand.

"See. I told you, Tilly. It's all going to be okay now."

The pair was swiftly evacuated off of the bridge, and with the girl in an unstable condition, she had been prioritised to go to hospital, the boy riding with her in the ambulance.

Later in the hospital, Matilda Green's mother appeared, and seeing how Alex Haddon, a boy she had always labelled as 'no good' and even 'dangerous' had stayed at her daughter's side though it all, she had to concede that he wasn't all bad.

Once her daughter was discharged and allowed home, Mrs. Green allowed Alex to come round every so often, for cup cakes and dinner. Her own way of saying 'thank-you'.

A little over a week later, All Saints Cemetery;

All but those fire fighters on duty, turned out to Leonard Joseph Clark's funeral. Alongside them and with them were all those who had been saved from the Route 12 explosion who could be there, and what seemed like most of Mobridge, itself.

A swarm of black-clothed mourners, there to celebrate the life of the only rescuer who gave their live that day.

The sky was overcast but rain held off, as men bore the coffin of the young man towards his final resting place; Dillon and Nathan at the front of the six, Frazier and Kurt just behind.

Words were said; how missed he would be, how he had given his life to save another. Flowers were laid.

Finally, when all was done, people began to move away, his family leaving last, supporting one another through the grief. It was then that two men, who'd stood away from the gathered, hidden by the leafy, green boughs of an evergreen, respectfully watching over the scene, moved forward.

Tall, blonde and un-readable, one of the men stopped before reaching the un-covered grave, allowing the other to go on alone. He'd never met the man being mourned for, and was only there as an escort, as it were.

The shortest of the pair, stepped right up to the stone at the top of the grave though, and knelt down before it, bowing his head, allowing short, brown, wisps of hair to be brushed across his face by the wind.

Knowing it was unlikely anyone else would ever understand the gesture but feeling it was the right thing to do nonetheless; he laid a small pocketknife in amongst the flowers.

Looking up at the grey-marble headstone, he murmured,

"Not standard issue, but useful all the same, right?"

Then he retreated back to where the other black-suited man waited, with one eye on the scene before him and the other on those leaving, who were still to notice the pair.

Once there, he turned back for one last look at where the man who had saved his life lay, and smiled.