Fighting to keep the aircraft steady,and control the pain and emotional turmoil running unabated throughout his body, Alan turned to Tom and said. "You'd better check on the others, tell them to brace as much as possible."
"Okay Alan." Tom acknowledged and left to head to the back to check on the others.
Once Tom left Alan called, "Op 1." He tried to keep the pain and fear under control, but tears began to cloud his vision as he fought to keep them in check.
"Alan, good job. I'll be along side you in one minute. Are you okay?" Scott asked trying to sound reassuring. He could feel more than hear the over whelming emotions attacking his little brother..
A pause, then trying to get his voice under control, Alan replied, "No Op 1," he still feared calling Scott by name lest someone were listening. "It's bad, they must've gotten a fuel tank and tail section, cuz the fuel gage is going down fast and she's trying to bank to the left, and the yoke is shaking and not responding well."
Captain Conley pulled up along the left side of the stricken aircraft. "You're tail section is shot up pretty bad. Just keep holding steady. We will figure something out once the ThunderBirds arrive."
Scott now pulled along side of the cargo heart breaking as he saw the horrific damage. Maintaining calm in his voice he asked, "Alan I'm right beside you. Are you all right?"
"Sc...Op 1,….I'm scared…. Tom—went-back-to-check—on-the-others again. They were-going–to—free—the—HOOD—He was-coming we—had to—get—out—but is this-any—better-all these- people—they—were— c-counting —on me.-What—if we don't-make it?" Alan's voice was gasps as he tried to keep his breathing under control and fight the fear, pain, and blood loss that threatened to make him pass out.
Jeff and the others listened to the conversation, their hearts in their throats. The situation Alan was in would be nearly impossible for an adult to deal with, let alone a fifteen year old boy. A kid, in reality, that was what Alan was, a kid, a very mature kid (most of the time) but still just a kid. No one else said anything, deciding what Alan needed the most now was his field commander to calm him.
Scott was beside himself. He too knew what Alan needed, but he would have to do it, without revealing their relationship.
"I know you are Alan, it's okay, I and Captain Conely are here and the others will be here within ten minutes. We had already heard about the Hood, and yes they did break him out, so you were right to escape. Captain Conley is right,... the tail section has taken a beating, but we're going to get you through this!... Are you yourself alright?" There was no response.
"Alan talk to me! Are you injured?" Scott was becoming frantic at not receiving a reply. The mike was open, and he could hear a lot of screams in the back ground. Suddenly he heard Tom's voice.
"Alan, Shawn and Chris have both been hit with shrapnel as well as some of the others, Terry, James and Kathryn are trying to show everyone how to hold pressure and stop the bleeding." Suddenly he yelled, "Alan your leg! Oh my gosh!... It's all shot up and bleeding all over the place! Terry, get up front quick!"
The Tracy family's fists were white with the tension as they griped either controls or sides of their respective chairs, as they listened to the terror, and panic.
"Just find something to make a tourniquet with." replied Alan hoarsely.
Thunderbird One, Captain Conley and ThunderBird Two were hearing all of the conversations as were Five and command center. True fear in their hearts, knowing that at this time there was little they could do.
Terry came up saw the absolute pallor of Alan's face and knew the teen was badly injured. They heard Virgil and Scott now both calling over the radio trying to get their attention. Tom finally got back on the radio, "Op 1, Op 1, can you read me?"
"I've got you Tom. Tell me what's going on?"
"Alan's leg is bleeding badly? He's the only one who knows anything about flying!" Tom's voice was screeching as panic started to over take him given the situation.
"Tom," called Scott, "Tom, I need you to calm down! Op three is going to tell you what to do."
"Okay Tom, this is Op three on Thunderbird two,... first calm down. You need to get direct pressure on the wound and prepare to place a tourniquet at least four inches above the wound. If you can't stop the bleeding with pressure you'll have to apply a tourniquet." Virgil voice was calm, but his insides were churning.
"Terry's trying but it's not stopping."
"Okay take a cloth, cord or whatever you have to tie around his leg then tie a piece of wood, metal whatever you can to the cloth and start to twist, just until the bleeding stops. Then tie it off."
Terry did as instructed as quickly as his shaking hands would allow. Alan grimaced from the pain, but tried to ignore it by concentrating on keeping the aircraft from going into a nose dive. Sweat running down his face from the effort.
"He's got it stopped." said Alan weakly. "S, Op 1 she's-really-vibrating-and the fuel-gage is down-it's a-quarter tank now!"
By now the other jets from Flight Three of the USS Carolina had come back from chasing the now lone bandit, coming along side the severly stricken craft.
Captain Conley again addressed the stricken plane's pilot. "You've got heavy damage. The fuel is spilling out at a tremendous pace. You'll never be able to make it to land. Can you try to head towards the aircraft carrier, in case you have to ditch?"
"D-Di-Ditch? No... I know n-nothing about l-la-landing on w-water!" Alan's voice was strained beyond belief, as panic threatened to overwhelm.
"The waters to choppy and there is too much damage for a controlled ditch." said Scott tersely. " Everyone just hold on for a moment... Thunderbird Two from One, I've got an idea."
"Go ahead One." This time it was Jeff's voice on the radio. Alan almost cried out at hearing his fathers voice.
"Alan, Captain Conley, are you listening?"
"I've g-got you, S-Op 1, go-ahead." said Alan weakly.
"Go ahead," replied Captain Conely.
Scott and the others were very concerned over how shaky and weak Alan sounded, but there was no choice, but to continue.
"Captain Conley, contact your ship, see if they can clear an area where a cargo plane can be set down. Thunderbird Two and Alan, I'm going to come underneath the plane and match your speed then hold you up until Two can come in and get the clamps on you... Alan, when I give you the order,... YOU will cut the power to the left engine where it's spilling fuel. I will continue to hold you until Thunderbird Two has it's clamps secured. You will then cut your engine completely. ThunderBird Two will then give you a ride and set you down aboard the ship. Does everyone understand?" Again there was a long pause.
Jeff cut in, using his commanders voice, trying to inspire Alan. "It will work! Alan you can do this. Do you read me?"
"Yes-yes sir-I'll d-do it."
"Good boy! Tell the others to hang on."
"I'll tell them." said Terry as he made his way to the back.
As the others in back were told of the plan, a mixture of cries of fears and relief were heard.
Terry held tightly onto Jesse. As Kathryn gathered in her charges, Jack ans Jillian.
"Don't worry guys, the ThunderBirds will take care of us," said Jesse his voice confident in the belief that with the ThunderBirds there, nothing could go wrong.
Terry just prayed his little brother was right.
"The ship will have an area ready to the aft section." radioed Captain Conley. "We will watch your backs and make sure we have no further interruptions from any other outside forces!"
"Thank you Captain." replied Scott, as he prepared to come under the stricken aircraft. "Okay Alan I'm coming in from below, cut your left engine only."
Alan grimaced,reached up and punched a couple of buttons. "The—panel—is-damaged, I'm not-sure-if I was able—to—shut—it—down-all the way."
The prop began to sputter, then started to flame, sending panic throughout, as those in the back looked out the window, screaming when they saw the flames. Finally the flames disipated, but then the plane started to bank left. Alan desperately strained to pull the yoke back, screams of terror filled the plane.
Alan felt even more guilt when he heard a voice cry out, "We're all gonna die."
Suddenly there was a jolt as Scott guided thunderbird one into position and skillfully bringing all his Air Force training to bare, he lifted the cargo plane level.
"Fantastic job Alan!" cried Scott as he slowly helped the crippled plane change direction towards the waiting aircraft carrier.
"Well done Alan, we'll be with you shortly," said Jeff, his voice proud and relieved, as ThunderBird Two arrived. "Nice job, Op 1."
Alan was unable to acknowledge the praise evan if it had registared as all his effort was being put into staying conscious and following his field commanders instructions.
Jeff maneuvered Thunderbird Two into position, while Virgil and Gordon went to man the magnetic clamps.
"Boys we may only get one shot at this so make it count! I don't think Alan's in any shape for a do over."
"FAB, dad" they both said in unison.
Jeff slowly maneuvering the giant mamoth over the stricken aircraft, knowing that not only was his son counting on the Thunderbirds, but so too were the other eighty odd passengers on the plane and their waiting families.
Scott fought the controls of Thunderbird One as he slowed to matched the speed of the heavy cargo plane to keep it steady and keep it from tumbling off. Silently he prayed Thunderbird Two would catch it with the clamps first time.
Not that he doubted, his brothers ability, but he was all to aware of the severity of the situation. Once the clamps were on, while Alan shut down the engine completely, approxitmatly thirty seconds, he would be supporting the entire weight of the heavy plane as they pulled the clamps tight. It was an extreamly dangerous maneuver, but at this point they had no other choice, and Scott trusted his bird explicitly to do whatever he asked of it.
"Thunderbird Two is in position! Op 1, Alan, are you ready?" asked Jeff.
"FAB." Scott answered.
"R-RE-Ready." replied Alan his voice weak and shaky.
"Virgil, Gordon, ready?"
"Alan, I will tell you when to shut the engine down. Wait for my command." said Scott.
"Clamps locked and ready... Firing," called Virgil.
"We've- got- it!... Dad, Scott,... we're secure!" yelled Gordon.
"Okay! Alan shut the plane engine down,... Now!."
Alan reached up and pulled the lever and pushed the yoke forward. Again the prop engine sputtered, and flamed for a short time before coming to a compleate stop, the flame going out. The plane lurched forward. Scott expecting this, maneuvered Thunderbird One to hold it up level until Jeff could finish tightening Two's hold.
"Well done everyone!" called Jeff. "Now let's get this plane to the ship."
There were many relieved sighs and tears of relief, as Thunderbird Two began its track to the aircraft carrier. Though Thunderbird One was no longer needed to support the plane, Scott stayed close, not wanting to leave his little brother.
"Thunderbird Two to Captain Conley." called Virgil.
"Go ahead Thunderbird Two."
"Please alert your ship our ETA is seven minutes. They'll need several medics standing by – sounds like there are several injuries."
"Ten – four! Fantastic work Thunderbirds!"
"Thanks." said Scott, "but we'll all feel better once the plane is completely secured and the passengers are taken care of."
"The carrier and personnel will be standing by." said Captain Conley.
"Alan." called Jeff.
"Go-a-ahead." Alan replied tiredly.
"Just hang on. It won't be long now. You did a great job! You all did!"
Alan didn't answer, instead Tom King answered, "Ten four, and from all of us, THANK YOU!"
Alan just sat back, at last able to take a moment for himself and let the mutitude of emotions he had been holding in for so long work themselves to the surface, but not compleatly escape as only a single tear rolled down his cheek. Then he heard the dreaded voice in his head once again. "There is no escape Alan! I will come again."
Alan let out a long sigh, "NO!" he tried to push the Hood from his mind. What would happen now? How would Alan's family and others react to how he had handled things?
The last bandit tried to limp back to base. General Kendra radioed to the Hood to let him know of the failed attempt to bring the cargo plane down.
"I am truely sorry, but I lost three of my best pilots; when we were attacked by US fighters. There will be another time and then we will be the victors!"
"Yes General Kendra, for us there will be another time,...but not for you!" The Hoods voice was hard and cold. His eyes blazed red.
General Kendra's hands grabbed a hold of his head as the pain kept him from being able to do anything, except watch in fear as his plane dove to the earth below becoming a giant, but short lived fireball.
The Hood shut his eyes and began to chant quietly in his own mysterious language.