A High Price to Pay

Author's note: This is my first story. I've been working my way steadily through the Thunderbirds stories since discovering Fan Fiction a few months ago. Thanks everyone for inspiring me to start writing again. The only trouble now is that I've got about four story ideas floating around my head and I don't know which one to start next. This one is finished though, so I hope you enjoy it. I'll update regularly and would love to know what you think.

As you already know, I don't own any of the Tracys – only the bad guys are mine (and a couple of good guys too!)

Chapter One

Virgil awoke to darkness. His head ached and a strong smell of oil and fuel made him feel sick. An engine roared loudly and he realised that he was lying uncomfortably in the trunk of a moving car. It was hot, desperately hot, and what little air there was in the cramped space was hot too. Breathing was an effort, as if he was drawing boiling water instead of air into his lungs. And then there was the pain. Bolts of agony shot through his left arm as his broken wrist responded to every rattle and jolt of the car's erratic journey.

He realised that they were travelling at speed along rough country tracks as yet another pothole caused the car to bounce and swerve wildly. The pain was almost unbearable now and his desperate gasps for air were bringing little relief. He craved the release of unconsciousness - ironic really since he had spent the last four days fighting the effects of the sedatives and chloroform his kidnappers had used so freely on him. But now he was close to giving up. Surely this could only end with his death, so what was the point in fighting anymore?

Fractured memories of his long ordeal flashed through his head. All the negative thoughts Virgil had tried to keep at bay suddenly came flooding in and he let out a gasping sob. At first he'd been so sure that help would arrive but the days had dragged on and on. No one had come to rescue him. Why hadn't his father come? Didn't he care enough to pay the ransom? Had the kidnappers asked for too much? No, he thought bitterly, nothing was too expensive for the billionaire Jeff Tracy. But maybe his father had thought the loss of one son an acceptable price to pay for the others' safety. After all, if Virgil could be held for ransom, so could they. And if Jeff had to sacrifice one son then surely it would be the one who reminded him so painfully of his dead wife, the one he sometimes turned away from with a stricken look in his eyes. Maybe his father was glad Virgil was gone.

"No!" he cried out. His father wouldn't abandon him. Would he? He tried to find some good thoughts to banish the panic that was threatening to take hold of him and he clutched at random memories: his family, his last piano recital, winning the art competition, his twelfth birthday party just two weeks earlier...