Ok, this is the end...or is it? Thanks to all who have continued to read and review through this story. It has been most appreciated and I hope you've enjoyed it.
The video footage cut out; the blurry image of Belah's sneer as Virgil prepared to pull the trigger, caused by Scott's sudden movement, fading to a white dot in the middle of the screen. A tense silence descended over the two occupants of Thunderbird Two's cockpit.
"What's happened?" Gordon asked, his voice barely audible above Alan's panicked gasps. Through their earpieces, John's calm voice reached them, wavering slightly, but still calm.
"Scott's cut the feed," John said. "I don't know what's happening, but whatever it is, he doesn't want us to see it." Alan turned to Gordon, his face pale and his bottom lip trembling.
"It's gotta be bad...you think Virgil's..."
"No!" Gordon yelled. "We don't know what it is. It could be anything."
"Let's not panic unnecessarily," John interrupted. "I've told base we've got a problem with the feed...just in case Dad calls in."
"You lied to Dad?" Alan asked, his eyes widening. "You think something's really wrong, don't you?"
"Alan, we don't know anything yet..."
"Maybe we should we go find them..." Gordon tentatively suggested, but was immediately interrupted.
"No," John's voice was stern, silencing Gordon's thought. "Stay there. Don't move. I've got Scott and Virgil's location signals on screen. Let's leave them to it." The youngest Tracys sat back, sharing a momentary glance until the screen flickered to life, John sharing the information about Scott and Virgil's locations.
"Virgil's hasn't moved..." Alan murmured.
"Shut up Alan," Gordon ground out, leaning forward and focusing all his attention on the blips on the screen in front of them.
"What's happened to them?"
As the gun shot rang out, Guntur and Manap pushed themselves into a sprint, their feet thudding against the ground as they tore through the greenery surrounding the camp.
"Belah has the power to destroy them..." Manap yelled to his brother, speaking of his own experiences. "Turn friends against one another, brother against brother..."
At the sound of a pained yell from the clearing up again, Guntur turned to his brother.
"We must hurry."
There seemed to be voices surrounding him when he came to, blinking slowly as he saw a blurry figure hovering over him. The person looked to be speaking to him, but all Virgil was able to hear was Belah's voice, lingering in his head. He reached up to rub his head, ease away the throbbing pressure.
"Virgil, can you hear me?" Scott's voice suddenly broke through the background noise. "Virgil, c'mon, talk to me..." Virgil wearily opened his eyes, Scott's face slowly drifting into focus. His stern face softened into a smile and he placed a reassuring hand on his chest.
"You're ok. Just stay there a minute..."
"Scott..." he reached out, taking hold of Scott's arm as he got to his feet.
"Just stay there Virg, I'm going to finish this..."
"Scott..." he tried to warn him. He tried to tell him what Guntur had told him. But his voice seemed to dissipate into the air around him and Belah's taunting voice returned.
"Kill me and you will become me..."
Virgil closed his eyes, summoning as much strength as he could to push himself to his knees, shaky arms barely able to support him. As he used the middle pole of the hut to haul himself to his feet, he caught a glimpse of Scott standing in the clearing, surveying the jungle surrounding them, seeking out Belah. Virgil tried to call out to him again, but it was as though he could do nothing more than whisper. Belah's grip on him was still lingering and he was doing everything in his power to maintain it.
"Scott's moving!" Gordon yelled. "He's moving fast!"
"Virgil's not moved yet...no wait! He's moving! Slowly, though..." Alan's voice raised in pitch. Beside him, Gordon reached over, grabbing hold of his hand. Alan glanced at them, shocked, worried at the sudden emotion Gordon was expressing. He swallowed nervously before giving Gordon's hand a tight, reassuring squeeze.
Whatever happened, they would deal with it together.
Virgil made it to the doorway of the hut, leaning against the doorframe as the world spun before his eyes, the greens of the trees around him forming a kaleidoscope of colours. He saw Scott disappearing into the trees and tried to call out, only to find his voice lacking.
He felt strong hands grab his shoulders as he felt himself slipping forward.
"Virgil! Listen to me! Look at me!" Guntur's voice seemed to cut through all of Belah's murmurs and as he met Guntur's eyes, he felt some clarity returning and some strength returning to him. Gutnur placed a hand at the side of his head, whispering under his breath, words which would clear Belah's demon, if only for a short period.
"Where is Scott going?" Guntur asked him as he stood up, giving Guntur a thankful smile for whatever voodoo magic he'd used to rid him of Belah's lingering control.
"He went after Belah," Virgil replied. "We've got to stop him before he catches him..."
"If he kills him..."
"I know!" Virgil snapped, pushing himself into a sprint across the clearing, Guntur following him.
"Virgil's running now too..." Gordon continued the slightly unnecessary commentary on their brothers movements. However, it filled what would otherwise be a tense, edgy silence, where dark thoughts would be allowed to creep in.
"What are they running away from?" Alan asked.
"They can't be running from anything, 'cause Scott wouldn't have left Virgil there," Gordon reasoned.
"Well, what are they chasing then?"
Virgil pushed through the thick vegetation, desperately trying to catch up with Scott. It was made much harder by the continual thudding in his head, Belah's words to him echoing over and over and making him feel sick. Guntur yelled to him from behind, motivating him to push Belah from his mind, concentrate on finding Scott and stopping him making Belah's demon a permanent resident in his head.
He slowed to a stop as he saw Scott ahead of him, standing over a crumpled figure, huddled against the mossy surface of a thick tree trunk.
It was Belah Gaat.
And it was suddenly apparent where the bullet meant firstly for Scott, then himself had ended up.
His tunic was stained with scarlet blood from a wound in his chest, which was heaving uncertainly. Virgil took his own shuddered breath, his hand unconsciously moving to his own chest. Belah's eyes met Scott's easily, a shaky laugh escaping from his lips. Scott closed his fingers around the cold steel of the pistol, clutching both hands around the handle and settling his finger on the trigger.
"You don't have courage to fire..." Belah spat at him. Scott let the corner of his mouth turn up in a sad smile.
"I thought you knew me better." Virgil pushed his hand into his hair, stepping forward uncertainly.
"You can't finish it," Belah said, his eyes finding Virgil's and holding his gaze. "I don't give up quite so easily." A glimmer of menace flickered across Belah's face. Despite his weakening state, Virgil felt the chill of Belah's stare, the telling grip he still had as he felt his eyesight begin to face at the edges, the pressure at his temples increasing suddenly.
Even if Scott did pull the trigger, Belah knew exactly how he could continue to cause havoc and horror in the lives of the Tracy family.
"Scott...no...no...!" Virgil managed, trying to scramble towards his brother. Scott ignored Virgil's protests, his eyes fixed firmly on the enemy before him, the man who had caused so much pain and suffering to so many. He could end it and he was going to.
"This is for what you did to my family..." Scott said, lifting the gun and aiming right between Belah's eyes. Belah had the gall to smile at Virgil as he did so, as his eyes began to glow in the fading light. It took all of his willpower to look away from the haunting gaze and Virgil knew he had to make his move there and then. He reached out, placing a shaky hand on Scott's back.
"Don't Scott..." he weakly pleaded. He saw Scott flinch at his touch, but the desperation in his brother's voice made him hesitate and turn to face him. He held the pistol steady, keeping it fixed on Belah Gaat.
"You can't kill him. Let him go," Virgil said softly. Scott frowned, shrugging Virgil's hand away.
"Why they hell would I do that? You know what he did to us...to you Virgil..." Virgil pushed by Scott, grabbing Belah's arm and pulling him to his feet. Belah let out a gasped moan of pain, but Virgil ignored it.
"Get away from here," Virgil said, his voice hard. Belah smiled as Virgil met his eyes, matching his stare without flinching, until Belah reached out, placing his bloody hand against Virgil's cheek before pushing him back.
"I told you that you would not finish it," Belah hissed. Virgil reached out, grabbing a fistful of his tunic.
"We're not finished yet," Virgil warned him. Belah managed a pain-riddled smirk before he backed away. Scott moved forward, reluctant to let Belah just walk away, but Guntur grabbed his arm.
"If you kill him, you will lose Virgil. Belah still has control. As he weakens, he will let go...but you must let him do that."
"What happens if he doesn't?" Scott demanded, his eyes drifting back to watch Belah limping into the forest, back into hiding.
"He's losing blood rapidly. At some point he's going to have to focus all of his energies on staying alive." Virgil turned around, the scarlet of Belah's blood bright against his pale features. The look of fear on his face was enough for Scott to follow them back towards the camp, casting one last glance over his shoulder.
"I had the chance to end it and I let him get away," Scott said.
"If you had pulled the trigger, you would have done something far worse," Guntur advised him.
Virgil stayed with Guntur and Manap as Scott returned to the village to help Gordon and Alan pack away the rescue equipment, which had been forgotten about since Virgil's disappearance. Guntur told Scott that he wanted to ensure Belah's presence was forever banished from his brother. Reluctantly Scott had left, Virgil understanding he didn't like to be left in the dark.
"Give me one hour," Guntur told Scott as he handed Virgil a cup of the potent liquid he'd previously had. Scott turned, walking away slowly, pausing as he heard Virgil's stomach contents spattering against the ground. He wanted to go back, but the concerned murmurs between his brother and Guntur during their walk back to the village suggested there was something more to Virgil's most recent experience in the jungle than Scott was privy too.
A small part of him didn't want to know what was going on and would be glad when Guntur returned Virgil to him, cured and ready to return home. He shuddered, his stomach turning for a moment as he remembered the moment Virgil had stood before him, eyes empty, ready to shoot him.
What was worse was the moment his closest brother had turned the gun on himself.
Followed by the lingering image of Virgil's terrified features, highlighted against the bloody smear across his face as he'd pushed Belah into the forest, encouraging him to walk away.
An insistent beeping from his wrist communicator disturbed him and he answered. Gordon and Alan squeezed both their faces into shot and he couldn't help but half smile.
"Scott, are you okay? Is Virgil okay? We lost contact with you..." Alan asked.
"We're both fine," Scott replied shortly. "I'm on my way back to you now. Virgil will be back shortly."
"What about The Hood?" Alan asked. Scott paused, his eyes darkening for a moment before he responded.
"Don't worry about him."
Gordon looked at Alan, barely holding back the inevitable 'I told you so'. Alan muttered it for him with a scowl.
"Virg is fine, Scott is fine and we'll be out of here soon," Gordon said.
"Still doesn't explain why Scott cut the audio and video feed. Something happened and I don't think it was good."
After four doses of the pungent liquid and four subsequent episodes of vomiting from Virgil, Guntur handed him a cup of water. The ritual to expel the demons was thankfully over.
"It didn't work last time," Virgil said as he took a welcomed drink of the water, clearing the acidic sting from his mouth.
"Perhaps we did not give it long enough," Guntur suggested, "but I feel he had a stronger hold on you. When Manap was under his control, he was also trying to control many other men at the camp. That was why Manap was able to break free and tell the others here about you and Scott. When his energy is focused on only one person, it is much harder to remove." Virgil watched Guntur preparing two homemade cigarettes, rolling the tobacco in the dried banana leaf expertly.
"Another part of the ritual?" he asked.
"No, I thought it might be needed after what happened," Guntur half smiled.
"I don't even remember it clearly...it was like a dream, you know? I don't feel like it really happened. But Scott knows it did. He watched me nearly kill him..."
"But he also knows it was not you," Guntur added reassuringly. "You need to talk about this with your brother. You must not let guilt cloud your mind. Don't ever think he has the better of you...it's a weakness he can exploit."
"How will I know he's gone for good?" Virgil asked him. Guntur sighed, handing Virgil the homemade cigarette and sharing the match.
"I do not know," Guntur replied honestly. Virgil took a draw of the cigarette, closing his eyes as he exhaled slowly.
"I just need to wait?"
"I am afraid so."
The scream of agony echoed around the stone walls of the temple as Belah removed the bullet from his side with shaking fingers. The scarlet puddle of blood shimmered in front of his eyes as he fought to stay awake in the blinding pain. The bullet, slimy with his own warm blood, slipped from between his fingers, tinkling against the ground softly.
He closed his eyes, breathing heavily through his nose as he prepared to stitch his own wound. He fumbled for the gold cup beside him, drinking a mouthful of the strong wine to help numb the pain as the needle pierced his skin, accompanied by a stifled wail.
The pain would fuel his demons, make him stronger and prepare him for his revenge.
Alan took charge of Thunderbird 1 and as Gordon few Thunderbird 2, the eldest of the brothers found a private place to rest in the infirmary, Virgil gazing at the familiar surroundings of his ship and Scott gazing at Virgil. He'd been too quiet after they'd got back to the village, but Scott had put it down to shock. Now, he was worried Virgil was taking all the grief and blame himself and Scott wasn't ready to let his younger brother descend into a sullen silence.
"How are you feeling?" Scott asked. Virgil turned to him, blinking as though shocked by Scott's speaking to him. He nodded quickly, but at Scott's inquisitive look, confessed all.
"Head's a bit sore...I feel a bit sick..." Virgil said quietly.
"Did he give you something?" Scott asked.
"What about that drink Guntur gave you?"
"That's what is making me sick." They trailed off into silence, Virgil studying the mud drying out on his shoes carefully. Scott licked his dry crack lips, shifting uncomfortably. For once, he was unsure of exactly what was going through his brother's head.
"Are the others ok?" Virgil asked after a moment. "He spoke of..." Trailing off, Virgil let his eyes drop to the floor, unable to watch Scott's face as he told him.
"He said he could make Kyrano do things...just like he would make me..." Frustratingly he stopped and Scott had to stop himself from demanding to know what exactly had been said. Kyrano and his father knew of Virgil's nightmare vision or whatever it was you wanted to call it, but Scott had been spared the gory details. Not just a turn of phrase in this case his father had told him solemnly. He was equally as terrified by it as Virgil had been.
"You know I would never have hurt you Scott?" Virgil said suddenly, his eyes glittering in the dim light of the plane.
"Virg, of course I do...I don't want you thinking...God..." Ignoring Virgil's initial resistance, Scott pulled him into his embrace, not knowing how else he might be able to show Virgil that no matter what had just happened, it was not of his own doing.
"It's done now..." Scott sighed, running gentle fingers through Virgil's mussed hair. Virgil sat back after a moment, wiping his eyes. Scott reached into his first aid kit, pulling out two painkillers. Virgil eyed the pills wearily.
"You haven't anything stronger, have you?" Scott glanced up at Virgil and cocked a smile.
"What was I thinking huh?" He replaced the brown bottles and lifted a bottle of Scotch, kept ironically in the emergency supplies cupboard. Virgil shakily unscrewed the lid and took a large gulp of the amber liquid, closing his eyes as he felt the burning sensation trailing down his throat into his stomach.
Scott reached over, copying his brothers motions and taking his own drink, steadying himself after the events which would haunt his darkest nightmares for months to follow.
"Can I ask why you let him go?" Scott said, returning to bottle to Virgil's expectant fingers. He gripped the bottle tightly, taking another drink.
"I don't really understand it...Guntur said if we killed him, this demon would then find someone else to haunt...and because Belah had managed to get himself into my head, he would settle there. Permanently." Scott let the information digest for a moment, a tense silence filling the space between the brothers.
"You'd be Belah Gaat?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
Scott swallowed thickly, snatching at the bottle and taking another drink, his blue eyes flickering as Virgil looked away. He placed the bottle on the floor, leaning forward and rubbing his face with his hands.
"I could have killed you..." he uttered.
"No Scott. I'd have been alive, but...I wouldn't have been me."
"I came so close...God, I'm an idiot...Virgil, I'm sorry..." Virgil grabbed his wrist tightly, shaking his head.
"This wasn't our fault. It was him. Never blame yourself." He squeezed his wrist pointedly before sitting back, closing his eyes. Scott noted his paler complexion and wasn't too surprised when Virgil got to his feet, heading towards the bathroom across the corridor.
Stepping inside, Virgil closed the door over, supporting his weight against it for a moment. His breathing was stuttered as he held back sobs, pressing his knuckles to his mouth to stifle the sounds. He ran the tap before cupping some cool water in his hands and splashing it against his face, removing the lingering dirt and blood. He fumbled for the hand towel beside the sink, patting his face dry as he lifted his head to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror.
All was normal. Apart from one feature.
Glowing with the ominous yellow of Gaat's presence.