This chapter marks the beginning of my fourth Thunderbirds story! Yippee!
Standard Disclaimer:The Thunderbirds belong to Gerry Anderson, who is one of the greatest men in existence. He not only provided us with 32 fantastic episodes, but also with two excellent movies. And the 2004 movie doesn't belong to me, either. Have you got the point yet? I do not own the Thunderbirds! Never have, never will.
Okay, as a note for those of you who don't know, this story is a 'sort of' sequel to my very first fic - 'Smothered By Your Brothers'. If you have not yet read it, do not fear. There is no real need for you to have done so in order to understand this story. But if you want to read it, feel free. I'm not stopping you! (Why would I? That would be stupid!)
A big thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in reading my stories. It's you guys who catalyse my creativity.
So kick back, relax...and enjoy!
John Tracy smiled as he leaned against wall of Thunderbird 5's view-port, staring out into space through the large, clear panel beside him. The stars shone brightly in the vast expanse of inky darkness, the constellations as familiar to John as the letters of the alphabet. He loved space. He loved all that power and beauty contained within an infinite number of solar systems. He loved the way that everything moved in perfect order, like the intricate pieces of a clock. And the universe sure was one big clock.
Raising his mug of coffee to his lips, John took a long sip of the bitter liquid and sighed. He had been back on-board the station for over two weeks now, after having been forced to spend months away from the cosmos whilst Thunderbird 5 was being repaired. Although he had missed seeing the beautiful starry view out of the window, and relaxing in the peaceful solitude he experienced during his monthly rotations, he had enjoyed himself immensely spending quality time on the island with his brothers. After the whole 'Hood incident' during Spring break, he and his siblings had spent the majority of John's recovery-time developing stronger relationships with each other. In particular, with the youngest family member, Alan. The teenager had been forced to face his greatest fears as he battled to save his family and friends from the Hood's evil clutches, and had nearly gotten himself killed in the process. It had been a traumatic experience for the whole family.
John shuddered as vivid images flashed across his mind's eye, remembering how much worse things had seemed once the rest of the family had discovered what had truly happened between Alan and the Hood. When Penelope swiped the security camera footage from the Bank of London and showed it to the guys - man, I think Scott actually stopped breathing when he saw it. And I got to view it for myself once I was allowed out of the infirmary. Seeing that monster tossing Alan about all over the place as if he were nothing more than a rag doll - I could hardly bear to watch it. But when the kid was dangling over the Mole like that, and I could see that he was losing his hold on the railing...
John shuddered again, closing his eyes and shaking his head to get rid of the thoughts. Glancing out at the stars once more, he felt himself relax slightly. But it's over now. The Hood's in jail, and he ain't getting out anytime soon.
Swallowing down the last of his coffee, John made his way out of the large view-port section of the space station and down the short corridor, walking swiftly past his living quarters, the storage compartments and the kitchen as he approached the command deck. He was about to step up onto the raised area of the room so that he could check the global weather reports, when he stopped and looked down at the mug in his hand. Rolling his eyes at his own forgetfulness, he walked back towards the corridor and into the kitchen. After placing the mug in the automatic dishwasher, he opened one of the many cupboards that lined the walls and drummed the fingers of his other hand on the counter as his eyes skimmed over the packaged food-stuffs.
Oh Onaha, you have no idea just how much I appreciate your cooking when I'm not stuck up here. John sighed, grimacing as his eyes landed on the 'heat-and-eat' meals (or so Gordon had named them) that he was forced to live off during his rotations. Glancing down at his watch, he noticed that it had only been about four hours since breakfast. Deciding that it was still way too early to start lunch, he reached up and grabbed a bar of chocolate from his dwindling supply. Unwrapping the sweet brown blessing and taking a bite, John leaned against the counter and sighed, savouring the rich taste. Glancing back up at the small stack of bars that remained in the cupboard, he closed the door and rubbed the back of his neck, feeling slightly guilty.
I'd better tell Dad that I've already eaten this month's supply of chocolate. In fact - yeah, I thought so. I've eaten next month's, too. But what on earth were they thinking, bringing up both boxes at the same time? How can they just expect me to leave all that chocolate alone if it's sitting there every day, mocking me? Well, maybe they'll forget that I had two months' worth during this rotation. Scott will never let me live it down if he finds out. Anyway, I'd better add 'chocolate' to the list of supplies that Gordon needs to bring with him when he comes up on Friday to replace me. Gordon already loathes my 'bird, but leaving him stranded on Thunderbird 5 without candy? I don't think he'd last more than a couple of days.
Suddenly, the lights around the small kitchen dimmed, and the steady thrum of the station's generators dropped down a tone. John's head shot up, a slight frown playing across his face.
He didn't have time to think over the possible explanations for this sudden change as, without warning, he began to feel a familiar and uncomfortable sensation enveloping the whole of his body. Throwing the chocolate bar onto the counter, he watched as it hit the surface with a dull 'thunk', before bouncing off and traveling in the opposite direction, it's progress slow and steady, as if time had been slowed down dramatically. John tried - and failed - to keep his feet on the floor as his body began to float upwards. Taken completely by surprise, his left arm flew out blindly in search of something to grab onto. He yelped loudly as his wrist connected solidly with the bottom corner of the cupboard. He hissed in pain, withdrawing the arm quickly and clutching at the counter with his right hand.
"Aaw, crap," John grumbled, slipping into his usual habit of talking to himself. "I thought the gravitational controls were connected to the new generator? This isn't supposed to happen."
He sucked in another sharp breath as his left arm throbbed painfully. Glancing down at it, he eyed the sore area, sighing in annoyance as he noticed the cracked watch-face. It became apparent that the corner of the cupboard had smashed directly into it. But knowing Brains' inventions, the actual communicator would probably still be functioning perfectly.
Then again, Thunderbird 5's new gravitational control system was also Brains' invention, and right now it seems to be completely on the fritz.
Carefully pushing himself away from the counter and towards the door, John made his way slowly out of the kitchen and down the corridor, eyeing the dimmed lights with a certain degree of annoyance. Clutching onto one of the rails that lined the right hand wall of the corridor, he paused long enough to review the situation. The dimmed lights and zero-gravity were an indication that there was probably a fault in the primary generator that powered the secondary systems. During the repairs, Brains had installed a new generator that had the ability to adapt and vary its power supply when needed. In other words, things such as lighting, gravity and temperature would be automatically controlled so that the station would always remain at optimum living conditions.
'Thank God the oxygen recycling system is controlled by the mainframe generator,' John mused wryly, using the rail to pull himself along the wall towards the control room. He would run a diagnostic scan on the main computer. If he knew what was causing the problem, he'd probably be able to fix it without Brains' help.
Then, as suddenly as the lights had dimmed, they flared to full intensity once again. The thrum of the engines jumped up an octave, and John found himself sinking back towards the ground. However, his descent was rather faster than he had anticipated. Landing on his knees rather painfully, he held onto the rail for support and shook his head against the sudden change in height. Strengthening his hold, he pulled himself slowly to his feet and began to walk towards the control deck once again. However, before he had made it even halfway to his chair, he felt a heavy weight settling on his limbs. Frowning he took another laboured step, his leg feeling as though it were ploughing through water, not air. Everything felt weighed down, as though he were wearing a particularly heavy space suit.
"What in the world-?" John began, but was cut off when the lights dimmed once again.
"Darn it!" he moaned, as his body began to rise upwards as it had done before. Unfortunately, having been standing in a rather tensed position with his weight centred firmly beneath his feet before the zero-gravity had kicked in, his ascent in the upwards direction was a little faster than it ought to have been. Consequently, he was forced to throw his hand above his head in order to prevent himself from cracking his skull against the ceiling. This action, however, merely caused him to spin off towards his left - which then swiftly became his right as his body did a one-eighty and he went upside-down.
"Oh, for Pete's sake!" John cried in frustration as he by-passed his chair, his outstretched hands missing the metallic back-rest by a few feet as he floated off towards the other side of the room.
What on earth is going on here? If I didn't know better, I'd be expecting Gordon to pop out of the hatch yelling 'Hah! Gotcha this time!'. But these fluctuations are totally erratic. The generator controls must be bust.
Grabbing hold of a rivet on the wall, he positioned his body so that it was faced in the direction of the main control panel. Taking a deep breath, he pushed off the wall with his feet - very gently, mind you, as he knew perfectly well that his momentum would remain constant the whole way. The last thing he wanted to do was knock himself out on the opposite wall. Thankfully, his aim had been spot-on, and he found himself drifting right by his command chair. Grabbing onto it tightly, he winced as the hard corners dug into the skin of his palms. Grunting loudly, he took a moment to regain his composure, wishing that he had remembered to put his gloves back on after getting his coffee earlier on that morning.
Keeping one hand firmly on the back of the chair, he reached out towards the controls with his other, pressing the button that would send a signal directly to Tracy island. Switching hands, he grasped onto the chair with his right hand and flexed the fingers of his left. His wrist still ached from where it had collided with the cupboard, but he knew it was nothing more than a bruise. Once he'd worked out what was wrong and the problem had been fixed, he would grab an ice-pack.
'What's taking so long?' John thought impatiently as he fought to keep his legs from floating upwards above his head. 'All Dad has to do is reach forward and flick a switch. It's not that strenuous!'
Then John realised that his father probably wasn't in his office at the present moment. Today was Tuesday, and an old friend of the Tracy family's, Thomas Palmar, was coming to visit them for a few days during his week off. The doctor had recently returned from Peru, where he had been helping to train the staff in the main-city hospital to use more advanced equipment. He had been there for almost a month now, but had finally finished the job and returned home.
Tom had intended to fly over to the island yesterday, but Dad said that he'd had to make a trip to New York instead, so that he could submit his final status report about the teaching programme to the main medical planning facility in the city centre. Poor Tom. He hates paperwork. I bet those reports almost killed him. But it'll be good to see him again. The last time I saw him was during Spring break, when he and Andy came over to help with repairs. And to help look after us, for that matter. He'd never admit to it, but Andy's just as paranoid about us getting hurt as Scott is.
John managed a small smile as he thought about the young doctor. Andrew Myers was the chief of medical staff at Boston Airbase. The very same airbase where Scott had taken his Air-Force training several years earlier. Actually, Andy was half the reason why Scott had been allowed to train during his college years. With Andy's help, Scott had taken an out-of-school preliminary advanced flying exam, which had then allowed him to apply for a position at the Boston training base. He and Andy had always been close, but this had solidified their friendship. In a way, Scott was the younger brother that Andy had never had. And Scott was quite happy to have an 'older brother' for once in his life. Since then, the two of them had remained close, contacting each other weekly, much like Jeff and Thomas had continued to do after their time on the NASA space station. In short, Andy was practically a member of the family.
Suddenly, John's limbs felt exceedingly heavy once again. Without warning, he dropped to the floor with a loud 'thunk', groaning as the wind was knocked out of him. Great. Not only is the gravity fluctuating, but it's going from one extreme to the other in a split second. This feels like double the force of earth's gravity. And man, why is it so darn hot in here?!
Dragging himself up off the floor, fighting against the heavy weights that seemed to be trying to pull him back down again, John gripped the edge of the control panel and peered at the station's diagnostic readings. Judging by the fact that it was apparently ten degrees hotter than it had been before, John put two and two together and groaned at the knowledge that the temperature controls were also on the fritz. This meant one thing. With gravity, lights and temp going crazy, the generator that powered the secondary systems must have short-circuited. Either that, or this was one weird dream. However, the dull ache in John's left arm reminded him that he was most definitely awake, so that ruled out option two.
"C'mon, Dad," he murmured impatiently, trying his best not to let his knees buckle as his heavy legs began to ache.
Glancing over at the diagnostic readings, and noticing that the temperature was still rising, John swore and wiped the back of his hand over his sweaty forehead. For a moment, he considered pressing the emergency button; the one that would set off the 'panic-stations' alarm back on the island. But then common sense kicked in and he shook his head at his own foolishness. Not only would the emergency signal send the entire of Tracy island into a total state of chaos, but it would also be pointless. His predicament wasn't actually dangerous. Yes, it could become very hot or very cold at any moment, but the station's main systems had been designed in such a way that it would not be possible for the temperature to reach a dangerous level - at least, not unless the whole system shut down. But by that time, John would probably be dead anyway.
Wow, I'm morbid today. I'm supposed to be happy, it's a Tuesday today. The day that I call Alan so that he can update me on Tracy life - and warn me about any incoming pranks. Ah, he's a great kid. Even after everything that's happened to him over the past few months, he still manages to stay positive. Well - to a certain extent. It's been just over four weeks since he came down with Scarlet Fever, and I think he's starting to get annoyed at Scott and Virgil's constant worrying. And, although I do sympathise with the Sprout, I also have to admit that I'd be doing the same thing as the other guys if I were down there right now. I mean, he almost died! That night - that horrible night - we came so close to losing him. I still thank God every chance I get that he was spared, because I can't begin to express how grateful I am that he survived. I think Scott and Virge will be flapping over him until he goes back to school. Poor kid.
The lights dimmed dramatically, and John slammed his fist against the metal panel in frustration.
He felt his feet rising up off the floor. Keeping his fingers latched onto the edge of the control panel, he mentally urged his father to hurry up and reply to the signal. He didn't understand why it was taking him this long. After all, there were tele-comms in every room. If Jeff wasn't in his office, he could answer the call in another room. Either that or one of the other guys could answer it. But no! They had to leave him floating around the space station like a stuffed duck! Furthermore, he was a stuffed roasting duck, which only made it ten times worse.
Oh boy....I think I'm gonna hurl. I've always had a strong stomach, but all these gravity fluctuations are really starting to get to me. C'mon, guys, pick up! I need to talk to Brains so that he can tell me what to do! Then maybe I'll be able to- Whoa!
John dropped back down like a sack of potatoes as the lights came back on again, hitting the floor heavily on his front. Man, he hated this new double-gravity setting that the controls had landed him with. However annoying zero-G was, it was nothing compared to feeling like you were lying on the floor in a four-inch-thick lead suit, unable to stand up properly because your own body was too heavy for you to support.
Suddenly, his father's voice filtered through the speakers above him, cutting through the gentle, mocking thrum of the generators.
"Hey, John. Sorry about that, I was-" the voice began, before stopping abruptly. "John?"
John grimaced. Bad timing. Really bad timing. Alright, let's try sitting up first.
"Um - hold on, Dad!" he called out, his voice sounding slightly fatigued, even to his own ears. "M'down here! Just - just hold on a sec!"
Sighing in frustration, John began to push himself up onto his hands and knees, straining against the weight of his limbs. Reaching up a hand, he gripped the edge of the control panel once more and tried to pull himself up to that he was kneeling in front of the metal chair. Grunting and panting from the effort, he used his free hand to cover his mouth as he froze, his stomach lurching dangerously. Taking a deep breath in through his nose, he waited for a few seconds as he tried to calm his churning insides. When the nausea had passed, he opened his eyes and continued on his journey upwards, shaking his head grimly. Sighing, he reached up his other hand, pausing to review his situation once again.
Yup. It was just one of those days.
Poor John is having a few troubles, but what is causing them? And will he be able to fix them before he loses his breakfast? Furthermore, how are the rest of his family fairing on Tracy island? Are Scott and Virgil still fussing over their youngest sibling? Naturally. But will the arrival of Thomas Palmar change this? Find out on Saturday!
Thank you for reading! PLEASE REVIEW and tell me what you think of it so far.
Have a great week!
Little Miss Bump xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox