This story was
written in response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006
Fic Swap Challenge.
Fic Swap Request:
I'd like to see a rescue where the people being rescued turn
against the Thunderbirds. The thought I had was a rescue or
evacuation of prison inmates who take the opportunity for
escape, but any situation that involves ungrateful rescue
victims will satisfy me.
groaned as awareness slammed into him with sudden force,
throwing him back into reality. Pain throbbed in his head; his
cheek was pressed against something solid and cold – a rather
uncomfortable feeling, he decided. He certainly should do
something about that pillow. Chuck it out, or, even better,
put it in Alan's room to annoy him. Yep, that would be great.
him a while to realize that he was lying on the floor, not his
own cosy bed back on Tracy Island. That confused him. The days
when he'd woken up passed out on someone's floor were long
gone; and besides, he'd never been a fan of those kinds of
stupid, ungrateful bastards!" someone cursed not far away from
him. "We saved their lives, and this is what we get? We should
have left them to burn!"
down, Gordon," another voice replied softly. "Swearing won't
improve our situation."
John, Virgil realized dimly, and his confusion grew. What was
he doing here? And come to think of that, where was ‘here'? It
certainly smelled like Thunderbird Two, but why was he lying
on the floor of his own ‘bird?
rather worried about Virgil." John continued. "That injury
looks pretty nasty, and he's been out for quite a while."
Yep, that definitely described how he was feeling. Hearing the
concern in John's voice, he tried to open his eyes. Ugh...not
a good idea...
movement made his head hurt even more, and to make matters
worse, he started to feel nauseous. Great. He refused to be
sick in his own ‘bird, thank you very much.
hell had happened?
remembered voices, a lot of them, shouting and
fighting...Scott asking worriedly what was wrong...Gordon
screaming at the top of his voice, furious despite his usually
laid-back self...and he himself, yelling ‘Code Seven! Code
Seven!' before something hard collided with the back of his
head and darkness surrounded him.
groaned. He'd rather not have remembered at all. It didn't
John had obviously heard his groan. "You awake?"
Virg, grace us with your presence." Gordon added. "Those guys
are damaging your precious ‘bird."
Virgil managed to say through the pain. Then Gordon's last
words registered and his eyes flew open. "Who's damaging my
bird?" he exclaimed loudly and immediately regretted it. His
own voice echoed loudly in his ears and increased the headache
He took a
deep breath and winced. Okay, no shouting. He'd learned that
turned his head to look at his brothers. They were sitting
across from him, hands and feet bound tightly together with
something that resembled duct tape. Trying to move his own
arms, he realised that he was tied in the same fashion. Gordon
had a black eye and John's left arm was bleeding. They both
looked rather pale and bedraggled, but their faces brightened
as soon as they saw him looking at them.
have you back." Gordon commented and grinned. "You were
starting to resemble sleeping beauty, with the only difference
that you're not beautiful."
you feeling?" John asked, ignoring Gordon with well-practised
feeling great if you'd stop shouting," Virgil grumbled and
closed his eyes again. The light was hurting and now that he
had seen his brothers, he didn't want to be exposed to it any
more than necessary. He'd seen enough, anyways. The fact that
they were bound and injured, sitting in the sickbay of
Thunderbird Two, couldn't be good news. "What happened?"
the long story or the short version?"
short, please. I'm not sure my brain can cope with too much
input at the moment."
John sighed deeply. "You remember the rescue? The fire?"
frowned, sorting through the hazy pictures of his memory. "Oh
yeah...the prison in South America?"
we rescued them, didn't we?" As far as Virgil could recall,
they had used the Firefly to get into the building. The fire
had been bad and the building old, not keeping up any safety
standards. Nobody had bothered with it; it was a prison, after
all. Unfortunately, the men and women in there hadn't been
able to escape and nobody wanted to see them burn to death.
International Rescue had been called because local authorities
didn't have the necessary tools to fight the fire.
rescued them, and a fat lot of good it did." Gordon muttered
the last load were unconscious, so we brought them aboard
Firefly." John supplied helpfully when he noticed Virgil's
confused gaze. "But it seems as if some of them were only
faking it. They used the opportunity and kidnapped me. Gordon
didn't stand a chance, and before we knew it, we were on
Thunderbird Two with a lot of prisoners running around."
knocked you out with a steel bar." Gordon continued, his face
expressionless. "John and I, we tried to fight, but there were
too many of them. They captured us, tied us up and put us
here. Then someone dragged you in as well and we've been here
ever since. They forced us to close all the hatches, so that
nobody could enter, and we had to cut communications. Scott
must be frantic by now."
mess!" Virgil sighed and listened. "But we're not flying."
John smirked. "We told them that you were the only one who
could fly this thing, so of course with you unconscious, they
couldn't do anything. We actually hoped that it would buy us
time...well, it did, but nothing has happened so far."
frowned sullenly. "We should have left them to die."
job to save people's lives." John reprimanded gently. "They
must be pretty desperate."
remembered the few facts he had read about South American
prisons. They certainly hadn't sounded pleasant, and he didn't
blame those men for wanting to escape. But still, hijacking
Thunderbird Two, kidnapping International Rescue operatives?
That was by far the worst thing they could do – the whole
world would hunt them down. And anyway, he could understand
Gordon's anger. They had risked their lives trying to save
those people, and this was how they showed their gratitude?
what's the plan?" he said through gritted teeth. The pain
wasn't lessening, but slowly, he was getting used to it.
snorted. "We sit here until we get rescued."
have a plan – yet." John sounded regretful. "There's not a
whole lot we can do. We tried to get rid of our bonds, but
they're tight and we can't move to the cupboard to get any
tools. They took our watches, so we can't communicate. I'd try
to negotiate with them, but they didn't even give us a chance.
In fact, we've no idea what they are doing."
tried to sit up, but stopped immediately as the effort made
him see stars. "Scott knows." He remembered dimly shouting
over the microphone. "I told him we had a code seven before
they got me."
John brightened immediately. "That's good!"
that good?" Gordon looked annoyed. "It's not going to help us.
We're still stuck."
know that we have a hostage situation, and therefore will act
upon it." John explained with his never-ending patience.
they can't do any..." The redhead was interrupted by
the sound of heavy boots. "They're coming!"
Virgil!" John hissed alarmed. "You have to close your eyes -
and don't move. If they think you're still unconscious,
Thunderbird Two will stay as she is."
immediately obeyed, forcing his body to relax. It was
difficult to feign unconsciousness, but he had to do it. If
they really believed he was the only one that could fly
Thunderbird Two, that would spare him a lot of pain. He hoped.
opened and several people stormed in, judging from the
vibrations Virgil could feel.
yet?" A voice with a rough, Spanish accent drawled.
sounded terse. "You knocked him quite hard and he needs
medical attention. Even if he was awake, he wouldn't be able
to fly. Thunderbird Two is a delicate machine and needs..."
another one barked. Virgil heard a muffled sound and a hiss of
pain. John had probably been kicked, he realised, and anger
flowed through him. Virgil was usually a gentle man, with an
easy temperament. Angry outbursts belonged to Alan's or
Scott's department. But hearing how his brothers were treated
made him angry. What had they done to deserve this? After all,
they had all risked their lives, had come all the way to
rescue these people
you could really despair thinking about humanity.
to let go of his anger, knowing that it would put them in
danger. But it was so hard, especially when he heard the sound
of another kick and Gordon yelping in surprise and pain. How
dare they injure his brothers!
he could hear a quick conversation in Spanish and immediately
regretted not having taken the advanced courses at college. He
could only get a couple of words, and those didn't bear well.
‘Fly' and ‘escape' was mentioned more than once, and something
that could be translated as ‘drastic measures', but also mean
‘basic house supplies', so he wasn't really sure.
someone dragged him up and he very nearly opened his eyes.
you doing?" Gordon exclaimed. Beside him, John switched into
fluent Spanish, talking with the men in a rapid exchange of
words. Virgil really regretted that he couldn't understand
anything; it seemed as if his blonde brother used quite a few
swear words, something he would have liked to hear. If only to
blackmail him later.
From the sound of it, John was silenced by another harsh kick.
Virgil gritted his teeth. Any more abuse and he'd certainly
implode. Or explode. He didn't really know what was worse.
didn't have the time to be angry anymore, for he suddenly was
dragged out of the room by forceful hands. His headache
returned with vengeance, stars exploding behind his closed
eyelids, and he couldn't prevent a groan escaping from his
laughter, and then he was shoved roughly to the ground. "Your
eyes. Open," someone commanded and untied his hands. Virgil
immediately knew the game was over. He had never been a good
hurt at first and he blinked, trying to get a grip of the
situation. He was in the cockpit of Thunderbird Two,
surrounded by four burly looking men. Their faces were
soot-covered and two of them sported nasty burns, but they all
had the same look of determined intensity. One of them held a
gun, and for a short moment he wondered where he'd gotten it
A brown-haired man said, pointing to the console. "Get away."
"Can't..."Virgil motioned to his head, indicating that he
couldn't fly in his current state. He really didn't feel up to
it, quite frankly; his head throbbed and his vision was blurry
around the edges.
into his stomach caught him totally by surprise. He yelped in
pain, as all the breath left his body, and curled up in a
protecting position. Damn, that hurt.
The command was final, leaving no room to budge.
Virgil gritted out, clutching his stomach.
man raised an eyebrow. "No? Your friends. They hurt. You want
them hurt? Dead?"
started grinning maliciously. "You will watch, eh? Blood, lots
of blood. Nice."
blood ran cold. That...bastard was talking about injuring his
brothers just to get him to fly! And he seemed to enjoy it as
well, seemed to enjoy inflicting pain.
the man, he knew he was serious. His face was normal; could
have been anyone's, with the slight stubble and the unruly,
brown hair. But his eyes held a glint of malice in them that
his anger, he tried to get up and nearly fell over as
dizziness hit him. "Okay." He managed to gasp.
He was thrown into the pilot's seat with unnecessary force.
Virgil hissed and turned towards the communication device. "I
need to contact...our monitor."
contact. You fly."
auburn-haired Tracy set his chin. "I need...coordinates to
fly...Thunderbird Two is a big machine, it's impossible to fly
for one person." Lying through his teeth became easier and he
desperately hoped that they would believe him. He didn't need
Thunderbird Five's help, was perfectly capable of flying TB2
on his own, but those men didn't have the slightest clue.
prisoners exchanged worried glances and held a muffled
conversation in Spanish. Virgil sat in the pilot's chair, not
daring to move, wishing for some aspirin to dull his headache.
the one with the gun shook his head. "Fly." He commanded. "No
Virgil cursed inwardly, but his face showed no emotion. "It
will be nearly impossible to find the way."
manage. We have your friends. You get lost – they get hurt.
"Understood." Resignedly, Virgil turned towards the controls.
He flipped on several switches, aware of the scrutinizing gaze
he was under. The engines powered up, and even though he tried
to be as slow as possible, soon the ‘bird was lifting off,
leaving the rescue scene below him. He could see the nose of
Thunderbird One not far away and wondered what Scott was
thinking. How long had he been out anyway? Had his message
reached the others? Did they know what was happening? Surely
Scott, Alan and Dad were working frantically to save them.
Sooner or later their kidnappers would get caught – after all,
Thunderbird Five could trace Two anywhere on this planet. But
would they be alive?
worrying about that, Virgil decided (he had always been the
sensible one). He needed to concentrate on the present.
should I fly?"
raised his eyebrows. What did the escaped prisoners want in
Europe? It had an excellent safety and security system –
surely it would be difficult for them to avoid detection,
especially approaching in Thunderbird Two.
didn't comment. Thunderbird lifted off and the comm crackled
to life. "Virg? Virg, are you there?" Scott's worried voice
hand automatically twitched towards the answer switch, but it
was held back by one of the prisoners. "Stop it." The guard
growled, pointing to the loudspeaker.
sigh, the pilot cut all communications – at the same time
leaving open the channel. Now Scott and Alan wouldn't be able
to talk to him, but they could still hear what was being said
in the cockpit.
much, but for now, it had to be enough.
been flying for approximately fifteen minutes when the shouts
started. At first, Virgil thought he had been imagining them –
his headache had been growing worse by the minute and he
wasn't entirely sure what was real anymore – but the men in
the cockpit heard them as well. And reacted with worry. One of
them barked an order he couldn't understand.
crashing sound came closer, yells and curses filled the
corridor. "BASTARD!" someone screamed in a heavy accent.
Instinctively, Virgil turned around, but was prevented from
leaving the seat by a gun in his face.
The prisoner growled, his eyes flickering between the door and
Virgil. The pilot lifted his arms in a gesture of peace. "I'm
not going anywhere," he pronounced clearly, hoping that his
brothers weren't doing anything stupid. He could count on John
to have some sense, but Gordon...
again...It almost sounded as if the prisoners fought amongst
each other. But why?
someone called, his words followed by a string of curses and
another loud crash. A scream of pain, the unmistaken sound of
a body tumbling to the ground.
The man beside Virgil – the one with the gun – looked out of
the cockpit to see what was happening. For a moment, the pilot
was forgotten in the midst of the chaos, as everybody looked
outside to see what the commotion was. Some of the men seemed
to be getting involved in the struggle, and now he was quite
certain that someone had started a fight amongst them. That
was his chance, Virgil realised, a determined expression on
hoping that his brothers were safe and sound, he ignited the
booster rockets that he normally used only when taking off
from the ramp on Tracy Island and pulled the nose of
Thunderbird Two up. The plane reacted quickly and soon the
floor was almost vertical. Anybody who wasn't secured – and
that was everybody with exception of Virgil – couldn't help
but respond to the pull of gravity.
grimly when he heard the prisoners falling over. Spanish
curses and screams filled the corridors of Thunderbird Two.
Served them right, those bastards.
Virgil pressed a hidden button under the console, while his
left hand was fumbling under the seat. For a short moment, his
fingers only encountered empty space. He panicked, knowing all
too well that they were doomed if he didn't find what he was
looking for...but then his fingers touched hard plastic.
unstrapped the gas mask and put the mask over his nose, just
in time as the gas started hissing out of the ventilation
shafts. It was one of Brains latest inventions; an additional
hoped that the sleeping gas worked before the prisoners had
time to injure anybody. Mainly his brothers. Or Thunderbird
Two, which would be just as bad.
immediately, the shouts dimmed down, and he could hear more
than one body sliding to the ground. The gas worked
splendidly. Virgil grinned in relief, switching on the screens
of the inboard cameras. The prisoners were sprawled on the
floor, sleeping soundly.
levelled the mighty plane off. The sudden silence was almost
eerie, the only sound the soft hum of the machines.
mess..." He rubbed his aching head. That had been the hell of
called over his shoulder, until he realised that his brother
would be asleep as well. Damn. He waited patiently for the
ventilation system to clear the corridors and took of the
turned to switch on the comm link.
"Thunderbird Two to Thunderbird Five, come in Alan."
Alan sounded surprised and frantic. "What's going on? I've
been hearing everything over the audio link, but we didn't
know what to do, and suddenly it was silent, so I thought
something terrible must have happened, especially when Two
pulled up like that..."
Alan." Virgil interrupted his brother's ramblings, aware that
this could go on forever. He really couldn't deal with that
right now, not with his headache. "I used the sleeping gas –
it worked fine. Everybody is out like a light. Can you check
the air space for me? I'm going to put Thunderbird Two on
autopilot – I want to check on Gordon and John."
Alan immediately started working. "There don't seem to be any
voice joined in. It was Scott – Alan had probably contacted
him, knowing all too well how the eldest Tracy would worry.
"Virgil, are you sure you're okay? What happened? Can you fly
Thunderbird Two? I'm close to your position, I could..." Scott
did his best to sound cool and in command, firing off
questions at a rapid speed.
just a bump on the head. I can fly." He assured and stood up.
"Scott, I can't really wait for you. I've got the plane full
of escaped, dangerous prisoners, and two bound brothers that
want to be rescued. I'll be back in a couple of minutes."
wrist watch, then you can update me while you're working."
looked at his empty wrist. "Sorry – don't have it anymore.
They took it off while I was unconscious." As soon as those
words left his mouth, he already regretted them.
unconscious? For how long? Do you have a concussion?"
"Scott...stop it." Virgil cut his brother off before he could
get started. "I'm fine, okay? It's just a little bump, nothing
I'm going now. Virgil out."
made sure that everything was working properly, then he stood
up and left the cockpit. The ground outside was full of
sleeping men. He recognized the one with the gun and couldn't
help a satisfied grin. "Serves you right, you idiot." He
grunted and bent down to retrieve the weapon.
to Brains, everybody would be asleep for about forty to fifty
minutes, but Virgil felt he had no time to lose. He just
didn't feel safe with all those prisoners lying around. He had
to do something about that; maybe dump them in one of the
lockers and close the lid. Yeah, that would be nice.
he hurried towards the medbay. To his immense relief, his
brothers were still bound and sleeping soundly – Gordon's head
lying on John's shoulder, while the blonde leaned against the
wall. Virgil relaxed slightly. He had to thank Brains for that
invention; without it, things could have been disastrous.
He took a
scalpel out of one of the cupboards and cut his brothers
loose. Then he used the same tape they had been bound with to
handcuff the prisoners. Grunting with the effort (most of
those men were quite heavy), he carried them to the small
store room, made a neat pile out of them and locked the door.
Then he sank to the ground and allowed himself the luxury of
doing absolutely nothing for a moment.
pounding in his head increased. Great. He felt like death
warmed over, all shaky and weak.
couldn't rest, not yet. He had to land his ‘bird safely; John
and Gordon wouldn't be any help. Trying to wake them would be
like trying to wake the dead, he had to wait until the effects
of the gas passed.
he made his way back to the cockpit – grabbing a couple of
aspirin on the way - and announced to a frantic Alan and an
anxious Scott that everything was under control.
about John and Gordon?"
fine. Unconscious, of course, as I couldn't warn them, and a
couple of bruises, but no serious injuries."
sighed in relief, the lines on his face disappearing. "Thank
equally happy about the news. He beamed for a moment, then
remembered his duty and schooled his face.
city about 96 miles north-east of your position," He informed
Virgil matter-of-factly. "I've already contacted the local
authorities – they agreed to take the prisoners. There's a
field near some old factory building. You can land there. The
police will wait there, and I guess Scott as well." The blonde
grinned. "He will probably have walked a hole in the ground by
the time you're there."
great." Virgil ignored Scott's indignant ‘Hey'. He was more
than happy to get rid of the prisoners. Especially since his
headache seemed to be getting worse by the minute.
sure you're alright?" Alan leaned closer to the screen. "You
look awfully pale."
monster headache." The pilot assured. "It has been a hell of a
imagine." The youngest Tracy smiled. "Scott has been chewing
my ear off because I couldn't talk to you, and Dad was his
nodded, not really feeling like making conversation. Instead,
he concentrated on his flying. "My ETA is 25 minutes," he said
sensing his mood, nodded. "F.A.B. Contact me when you're
closed with a crackle and Virgil allowed his eyes to shut
down. He felt dreadful; everything was hurting and things
became fuzzy every now and then. Some rational part of his
brain told him that he shouldn't really be flying in this
condition, but he shoved it aside. After all, there was no
other possibility. And he needed to be in control, at least
for the moment, to assure himself of the fact that Thunderbird
Two was safe and sound.
amazing how long 25 minutes could take. For Virgil, it seemed
like an eternity. He just wanted to lie down, to rest, but he
was forced to fly – and for the first time, he didn't enjoy
it. Well, who would have enjoyed flying with a head full of
the landing strip came into view, with the police cars parked
neatly near the factory buildings. Thunderbird One's nose was
visible first, a red spot in the otherwise grey landscape. He
could see Scott on the ground – and yes, Alan had been right,
he was pacing. But no hole. What a pity.
allowed himself a small smile.
to see you, Virg." Scott's voice crackled over the
here. I can't wait to get rid of those unwanted houseguests."
Virgil joked, while slowly setting Thunderbird Two down to
land. It wasn't his smoothest landing, but Scott didn't
comment. Virgil, on his part, was just glad to be on the
opening the hatches," he announced, at the same time pressing
the appropriate buttons. Then he burrowed his head in his
hands, fully intending only to close his eyes for a couple of
seconds. He felt so tired, too tired to get up and meet his
brother, too tired to help with the prisoners, too tired to
talk. The only thing that had kept him going was fear and
adrenaline; and now that the danger was away, now that he
wasn't needed anymore, every ounce of strength left his body.
He felt like a wrung-out wash cloth.
didn't even notice that he was falling asleep. He had honestly
intended to stay awake, hadn't even thought of it. But fate
had other ideas. Consciousness left him and he embraced the
darkness with open arms.
Penetrating voices interrupted his blissful rest.
those voices. Couldn't they leave him alone?"
Gordon is flying Thunderbird Two and, oops, just now he
crashed into a tree, I hope you don't mind..."
flew open with a jolt and he stared at his brother with an
expression of utter horror on his face. John smiled at him,
his eyes twinkling. "Gotcha."
narrowed his eyes. "What was that about Gordon flying?"
The blonde held up his arms. "You were in no state to fly, my
dear brother, after collapsing in the cockpit. You nearly gave
Scott a heart attack."
Virgil frowned and tried to remember.
Pretty nasty concussion you've got there. A doctor examined
you and said that you should be fine, only a couple of days
bed rest. And we have to check on you every couple of hours.
It was my turn to wake you."
wake me before?" He remembered vague images of Scott, and of
cursing him to hell (had he really done that?) and then
barfing on the floor (oh no, how embarrassing! In his own
‘bird!) – no, that had to be a dream.
grin widened (oh no! it hadn't been a dream!), but he didn't
say anything (thank you, John.).
tried to distract his brother. "So...what happened? Why was
everyone screaming? I thought you and Gordon had done
us." John sobered. "We were still bound and frantically
thinking of a way to escape. With you gone and Thunderbird Two
in the air, there wasn't much we could do. But suddenly, two
of the prisoners started shouting and attacked the others. I
didn't understand much of it, but it seemed as if they were
angry that the others kidnapped International Rescue." He
smirked. "I think the words ‘ungrateful' were mentioned more
digested the news. "So some of them...were actually on our
Seems as if they were just waiting to take their chance. They
didn't think it was fair to endanger IR. But they became
desperate and simply attacked the people." A shadow flickered
over his face. "It could have ended badly if you hadn't
activated the sleeping gas. That was a good move on your
they're fine. Lots of bruises and a few broken bones, but
nothing serious. Gordon and I gave our testimony to the police
and I believe they'll get leniency for helping us."
Virgil's eyes were already drooping.
better let you rest now." John noticed how tired his brother
was looking. "We should be home in about an hour; I'll wake
Virgil concentrated. "John...did Gordon really fly into a
blonde, already halfway out of the room, paused. "What if he
hesitated. "Well, let's just say....Thunderbird Four would
never be the same again."
surprised how permanent oil paint mixed with some rough medium
laughed. "I guess. No, don't worry, TB2 doesn't even have a
scratch. He's doing fine."
better." Virgil grumbled, but it was only for form.
can't be said for a certain someone who barfed all over the
groaned and felt the urge to hide in a hole. He would never
live that down! Gordon and Alan would tease him mercilessly,
and Scott...Scott would be the worst, making those mean little
comments in his usual Scott fashion, when you expected it the
John's laughter and decided that the only thing to do was to
fall asleep again. Maybe he'd wake up and it would all be a
rescues the rescuers?
rescue themselves, of course.