International Rescue has
enabled the safe return of many disaster victims to those they
love. But when the aftermath of a simple rescue goes terribly
wrong, will Scott and Virgil Tracy ever know the safety and
serenity of their beloved island home again?
Thanks to Sam, who's been
like my right arm, and also to Boomercat and Ziggy for their
encouragement. Thanks also to LMC and h-her m-muse for helping
me with some of the technical aspects of this story. I hope
you enjoy it.
sound could be heard as the dust and debris slowly cleared
from the air.
strangled answer came with a cough. "Yeah, I think so...you?"
sure, but I think we fell into an underground sink hole. The
weight of the Excadigger must have been too much for the
ground to support."
thank God this didn't happen while we were still trying to pry
those kids out of that cave."
scanned the area intently, still trying to get his bearings.
As his eyes adjusted to the lack of daylight, he realized that
he was laying flat on his stomach on the edge of a precipice.
He froze as he looked down and couldn't find the bottom of the
huge chasm before him.
what is it?"
where are you? Keep talking so I can hear you?"
began speaking in a loud voice.
here! Where are you?"
reverberated off the walls and gravel began to rain down,
accompanied by a faint rumbling sound in the distance.
fell silent and sucked in a breath, which he held until the
rumbling subsided. Finally, he released it and spoke, almost
in a whisper.
that was close! Scott, can you hear me? Scott?"
no reply and Virgil instantly feared for his brother's safety.
sound he heard was a soft moan, coming from somewhere above
him and just off to the side. He looked up and saw sparse
sunlight streaming down through the hole they had just
plummeted through. The crust of topsoil was still partially
intact. His eyes followed what was left of it down the side of
the crater to what appeared to be a small ledge protruding
out. He tried to focus on the silhouette of the still figure
lying upon it.
first time, Virgil began to take stock of his own
surroundings. He didn't appear to have any serious injuries
that he could detect, but he couldn't move. He felt something
tickling his ear and realized he was not alone down here. He
shook his head as best he could and spat at the rather
sizeable eight legged creature who was trying to get up close
and personal with him. It skittered away, unhappily. Out of
the corner of his eye, a shadow loomed. He turned his head
slowly, not wanting to believe what his mind was telling him.
It was the
Excadigger. International Rescue's specialized excavating
machine, designed for just the type of emergency they had been
called out to. However in its current position, suspended
inauspiciously just above him, it represented the possible,
premature end of Virgil's life. It remained stationary for
now, but he knew that situation could change at any moment. He
looked up again at the opening high above and tried to figure
out how far down they had fallen. He knew that some of these
holes could be virtually bottomless. He didn't want to think
about that right now though. If only he could move his arms,
he might be able to free himself and get to his injured
brother. He tried calling to him again, being careful not to
raise his voice beyond a certain pitch.
Scott, please answer me. Are you all right?"
Scott! Yes, I'm here. Are you hurt?"
think...I felt something hit me...from above, a rock maybe. My
take it easy. I'm kind of stuck down here right now. I'm not
badly hurt, but I'm trapped under some heavy debris. I think
it's part of the collapsed wall of that cave that I had to dig
through. I must have gotten hung up on it on the way down. It
broke my fall. That was lucky. What isn't, is that the
Excadigger is perched right above me and I don't know how
stable it is. If I can get loose though, I could get inside it
and get the life lines out..."
hand slid down to his side. Yes, it was still there.
I've still got the one we used to get those kids out tied to
my waist. I can lower it down to you. Do you think you could
so. I still can't get my hands free, but I can feel them
keep trying. In the meantime, I'm going to try and tie this
end off somewhere."
around for something, anything to anchor the thin cable on,
but nothing seemed sturdy enough. God, his head was still
throbbing and he thought back to how the day had begun.
International Rescue had received a distress call from some
teenagers who had become trapped in a cave they had been
exploring on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Thank God one of
them had thought to bring a walkie talkie along, so that they
could communicate with their compadres on the outside who had
opted for other recreational activities. It had been touch and
go there for a minute, but all in all, pretty much a routine
operation. The kids were all safe, if a bit shaken up, and
eternally grateful to their rescuers, especially the young
girls in the group.
seen it all before, the tendency of female victims to view
their saviors in an exaggerated light, elevating them up onto
some sort of pedestal. Scott was sure that the same thing
constantly happened to fireman and even policeman. It came
with the territory and it was understood that the condition
was most likely temporary. They would be long forgotten once
the euphoria of making it out alive had subsided. All had
seemed to be business as usual on this mission. He and Virgil
had answered the call alone, as a double crew on Thunderbird
Two had been deemed "not necessary." Virgil and he had
performed this type of rescue more than once together and had
never required any assistance. This time though, fate had
other ideas. Now they were the ones in need of rescuing and
there was no help in sight.
brother's voice shook him out of his reverie.
you making out up there?" Scott could detect a trace of fear
in his brother's voice.
seem to find any way to tie off the line, Virg. I'm afraid
this ledge won't take...Ahhh!"
even have a chance to finish the sentence. The rickety ledge
gave way and began to crumble down, taking Scott with it.
Virgil's eyes went wide with horror as he looked up at the
deluge collapsing down towards him. He closed his eyes and
turned his head to the side, helpless to move out of the way.
dust had finally settled, Scott found himself dangling out
into the great chasm, just below where the Excadigger was
perched. It was teetering slightly. He quickly drew himself up
and strained to get his entire body up and away from the edge.
Then, he looked around at the pile of rock and debris next to
him. A frightening realization hit him full force.
Virgil, Oh my God!" Please, no. Please...
digging with his hands like a madman, his nails tearing and
his fingers bleeding with the effort.
Virg, can you hear me?"
almost in tears. He knew his brother was still pinned by the
debris and would not be able to dig himself out. He had
precious little time to get to him before he was smothered to
death under that heap.
He found a
piece of metal that he could use as a makeshift shovel and
soon he was making some headway. Suddenly, something caught
his eye. It was Virgil's wrist communicator. The little bit of
light trickling in from above was glinting off it. Scott
gasped and began calling his brother's name, telling him it
was going to be all right. He pressed on until he uncovered
his face. His eyes were closed and his complexion had a tinge
of blue to it. Scott could tell he was not breathing.
sure to sweep any dirt out of his airway and nostrils as he
began to perform rescue breathing on him. He kept it up for
what seemed like an eternity, but had actually only been a
couple of minutes. He placed two fingers on the side of his
neck and checked for a pulse. His head drooped with relief
when he could detect a faint heartbeat. He continued on with
the rescue breathing and after a minute was rewarded with a
gagging sound, followed by coughing and wheezing.
closed his eyes and said a silent prayer of thanks. He placed
his hand alongside Virgil's head and spoke to him gently.
there. Welcome back."
tried to focus on the figure looming over him.
but YOU were kind of doubtful there for a minute."
coughed. "Yeah...well, you're not gonna get rid of me that
smiled and looked down into his brother's burnt-honey eyes,
grateful for the chance to do so again. He smoothed the hair
back off his forehead.
his finger at his younger brother in mock-sternness.
ever scare me like that again or next time I'll leave you at
turned his head around as best he could, his eyes scanning the
area immediately surrounding him. He nervously looked up again
at the huge machine which could possibly end up being the
cause of his early demise.
worry, we're going to get you out of here somehow."
Scott, you're stuck down here too. We're both trapped, and
those kids...They already took off for the other side of the
Virg, but John can track us through our communicators and..."
have you noticed that no one has tried to contact us?"
face fell as he realized that Virgil was right. He looked at
his left wrist and noticed that his watch was missing. He
fingered the watch on Virgil's wrist and noticed that it had
all the rotten luck..."
least they have our last known location, and as they won't be
able to track the Thunderbirds in the air, they'll know we
haven't taken off yet."
you're right. It won't be long before we're missed, I hope."
was Gordon who made Jeff Tracy look up from the reports on his
something on your mind?"
Scott reported in again since he and Virgil were loading up to
think of it, no. That's not like him either. He's always
really good about keeping me informed."
Do you think..."
we'd better try and contact them."
Thunderbird One. Come in please."
nothing back but dead air.
"Thunderbird One, Scott, do you read me?"
Virgil. Thunderbird Two, are you there?"
I'm not liking the sound of this."
immediately contacted John up in the space satellite.
son's Nordic features filled the vidscreen in the space that
his portrait usually occupied.
"Thunderbird Five here. What's up, Father?"
know John. Trouble, maybe. We haven't heard from Scott and
Virgil since they rescued those kids in Hawaii and we can't
contact either one of them. They should have been on their way
back by now. Are you tracking them on your scanners?"
Dad. Not a blip in sight. They must still be on the ground.
Let me contact the local authorities again. I'm sure they can
tell us something."
John. Base standing by."
a short pause while John made the call. The tension in the
lounge had gotten thicker in the last minute or so since Alan
had walked in. Tin- Tin and Grandma were now apprized of the
situation and were also staring anxiously at the vidscreen.
Even though the wait was brief, the passage of time had seemed
John's signal came through again.
"Thunderbird Five calling Base." Jeff allowed himself to
"Father...it seems the local authorities never made it to the
scene of that rescue. They were too busy taking care of a huge
warehouse fire further down the coast. They figured
International Rescue could handle it well enough. They didn't
see the need to spare the excess manpower"
felt what the tone of John's voice had conveyed. Something had
gone wrong. It was the only possible explanation.
mulled it over for a minute and then made his decision.
Gordon, you and Alan take the jet and find out what's going on
half smiled, happy to be able to do something besides sit
around and wait.
The air in
the cavern had started to become stale and breathing was
getting difficult. The dampness wasn't helping much either.
Virgil had begun to wheeze again. The rancid air, coupled with
the huge weight on his chest was starting to affect him. He
had fallen asleep, exhausted. Scott watched over him, his
expression one of anxiety. He had tried to lift some of the
bigger pieces of the cave wall off of him, but they were just
too heavy and he didn't have the right tools. His frustration
had turned into concern about whether either one of them would
make it out of there alive. Oh, they could probably last a
while longer, but the Digger, he could see the little bit of
earth holding it in place starting to crumble before his eyes.
Virgil," he whispered. "I've got to get you free, I've just
around for anything that might be of help. He kept thinking
about all of the equipment stored just a few feet above him,
but unreachable at this point. If he tried to go inside the
Digger, it would be signing Virgil's, and quite possibly his,
raced through all the possible scenarios and he kept coming
back to one. Since he couldn't risk climbing inside the
machine to get the necessary equipment out, what if he used
the excavator itself? He could use its weight to pull the
largest piece of the rock wall off of Virgil. He would have to
find a way to lasso it and then tie off the life line onto the
Digger. It would be close and extremely dangerous, but what
was the alternative, to sit there and watch his brother die?
That, was not an option.
snapped open and for a moment, confusion dominated his thought
processes. Where was he and why was he now staring up at the
ceiling? Ceiling? No, there was light coming from up
there and...God, the cave! He jerked fully awake and
sat up with a start. It was a mistake. The dull wave of pain
that washed over him served as an instant reminder of what had
transpired. He rubbed the back of his aching neck and winced
as his hand came across the goose egg sized bump inflicted by
the earlier falling rock. He swallowed hard, his throat
burning like he'd just inhaled the ramjet thrust of
Thunderbird One. What he would have given for just a sip of
water. He coughed and the echo resonated from everywhere,
reminding him once again of just how alone the two of them
were down in that hell hole...Virgil. He glanced over
at his brother's sleeping face. His color wasn't good. He was
shivering and breathing with an effort now, and the
realization of just how dire their situation was, hit him full
force, once again.
must have passed out. He'd been lying here flat on his back
when he should have been trying to get them out of there. He'd
wasted precious daylight and he knew that if they were to be
completely engulfed by the blackness, their chances of making
it out alive would decrease exponentially. It was like waking
into a nightmare.
still a bit woozy, Scott wiped his brow and willed himself up
to a standing position. The damp air had caused his limbs to
start stiffening up, and he ached, the result of his fall from
the ledge above. He shook it off as he contemplated his next
move, determination burning in him once again. He looked up at
the hulk of a machine still hovering over them and his blood
ran cold. He needed to get some light on the subject, but how?
He'd had a torch light with him earlier, but it was lost in
the fall. It wasn't going to do him much good anyway, lying
somewhere down at the bottom of the crater in pieces. The
Digger had headlamps on it, but if he tried to get inside...
down the panic he was starting to feel as he desperately tried
to think, but his mind was becoming clouded. What the hell was
wrong with him? He shook his head to clear it and instantly
regretted doing so. A nauseating wave of dizziness gripped him
and he nearly lost his balance, recovering just in time to
keep himself from falling over the edge of the ledge that they
were poised on and down into the unending void. He staggered
backward and tripped over the debris that had trapped his
brother, landing smack on his back again.
Scott?" A weary voice said. Virgil opened his eyes and tried
to raise his head. He'd heard a soft groaning sound. He looked
up to see his brother in a half sitting, half lying down
position, propped up on one arm, with his other hand holding
his head. His eyes were closed and he was breathing heavily.
"Scott...are you all right?"
Virg," he lied. "I-I just tripped."
sure?" He coughed and tried to clear his throat, causing Scott
to shoot him a look of concern.
tried to take in a full breath and choked on it.
my answer," Scott replied. "Don't worry, Virg, I'm gonna get
you out of there."
know...you will." He managed a smile. "Just do it before
Gordon and Alan...get a hold of my bird. The thought of either
one of them...piloting Thunderbird Two...doesn't exactly make
me want...to do the happy dance."
grinned at his younger brother with a degree of relief, glad
that both of them still had their senses of humor intact.
worry. I won't let them bang her up...too much."
Scott a look of mock-indignation. "Funny guy."
interrupted by a creaking noise and both of them looked up to
see the Digger lurching from its resting place, about 10 feet
above their heads. Some of the loosened earth under it began
spilling down on them and Scott instinctively placed an arm
across where his brother lay. He lowered his head, eyes shut,
expecting the worst. When it didn't come, he looked up, a
simultaneous sigh of relief escaping both his lips and
Virgil's. They stared at each other. He knew he had to act
now. There was no more time.
Tracy sat at the controls of his father's ultra sleek looking,
private jet, he felt a rush of excitement. He turned to his
brother Gordon with some semblance of awe in his voice.
believe Father actually let me fly his baby. Do you know how
many times I've dreamed about this?"
well don't get too used to it. The only reason he let you is
because it's so much faster than Tin-Tin's jet. He wants to
make sure we get there as quickly as possible."
the deep concern mirrored on his usually easy going brother's
know, I'm worried about them too," he said.
just never thought about what would happen if...if, well, you
know how they're always there looking out for us. I
just...just never thought about what would happen if they..."
they're not going to. We're gonna find them and bring them
home. It's going to be all right, Gordo."
smiled wryly. "Aw, just shut up and try not to hit any birds."
interrupted by the radio's signal beacon.
Tracy...Base to Tracy, come in please."
Tracy here, I read you base, go ahead."
your position, Alan?"
be landing in Kauai within the hour, Father. Any further news
he still can't get through to them. Let me know the moment
at Gordon. "Okay, time to see just what this baby can do..."
unfurled the thin, but strong cable of the lifeline and tied
one end off around a narrow portion of the cave wall near
Virgil's feet. The slab was about 20 feet long and lying
across him at an angle. After the fog in his brain had
subsided a bit, he was able to remember that Brains had
provided for the lack of adequate lighting in situations just
like this. He had reached into the side pocket in his boot and
found an illumination stick, a variation of the old children's
toy that glowed in the dark when the capsule was cracked. This
one, though, threw the same intensity of light used by road
repair crews who were working late at night and wanted to make
sure they were seen by oncoming traffic.
placed the stick on the opposing side of the ledge. Normally,
it would have been safer to use his blaster pistol to light
it, since the resulting brightness would be blinding to anyone
in close proximity, but the noise from the gun shot might have
brought the whole cave down on top of them, not to mention the
Digger. He also wasn't sure exactly how safe they were perched
on the ledge that was currently supporting them. It seemed
sturdy enough though.
like all the wondrous items Brains had invented for
International Rescue, this one too, was disaster friendly and
was adaptable to the many changing situations they might
encounter while out on a mission. It was just a simple matter
of breaking the outer seal, twisting the cap until it
clicked...and viola! Bless you, Brains. He quickly
covered his eyes with his forearm and backed cautiously away
from the glaring beam, all the while feeling behind him for
any obstructions in his way.
he had thwarted the obstacle of darkness, it was time to end
their dilemma once and for all. His hands shook slightly as he
approached the Digger.
in his tracks, but did not turn to face his brother. "Yes?"
are you going to do?"
I said, I'm going to get you out of here."
looked around him and mentally surveyed the scene, the
lifeline, the position of the Digger. His experience as an
engineer told him what scheme his brother must have in mind,
and also his chances for success. Virgil swallowed hard.
Virg," he interrupted. "If you've got a better idea, I'm all
ears. But, you'd better make it quick."
his mouth to protest once more and thought better of it as he
could offer no other solution, given the circumstances. Scott
turned his head to look at him briefly and for once, Virgil
was able to see the internal struggle his brother was waging.
That look wrenched his insides and threatened to force a sob
from him. But, he knew he had to be strong. He had to show his
older brother that he had complete confidence in him, however
this turned out. His frustration at not being able to help
himself only grew as he lay there, almost completely immobile.
temporarily distracted from the turmoil he felt when he saw
something fall from above onto the slab of rock covering him.
It was dark in color and about six inches long. It was moving
too, crawling to be exact. As it got closer to him he could
make out two raised pincers. It was a scorpion. Virgil knew
that most species could not cause death in humans, but that
didn't negate the fact that they could cause one hell
of a sting and a shock to the central nervous system. He was
feeling just a bit vulnerable as it moved toward his face. He
didn't want to distract Scott from his monumental task, but
any minute now, he was going to have to say something. All at
once, the creature stopped crawling, seemingly confused by the
blinding light surrounding it.
though scorpions can't really see very well, they can detect
subtle changes in their environment and this one seemed a bit
distracted as it crawled off somewhere to the side. Virgil let
out a not so subtle breath and laid his head back down on the
ground. He wouldn't have been relieved had he known the
creature's counterpart had positioned itself behind him, with
its poisonous bulb poised at his neck, ready to strike.
intent on the task at hand. He looped the lifeline around his
arm and knelt down on one knee. The giant, metallic hulk was
situated at an angle with the great jaw of the shovel slightly
askew, while its huge main body was more vertical, but leaning
slightly into the void at its heaviest point. It came down to
a question of weight and balance. If Scott could tie the cable
off on the shovel end and tip the balance, keeping it in place
just so, then he could use the Digger's mass to lift the
weight of the stone wall off of Virgil. A great plan, if it
worked. But, if his calculations were off the mark by just a
little, Virgil would certainly be crushed and he would
probably be knocked off the ledge and down into a nothingness
from which he would never return.
his jaw. Now was not the time to start second guessing
himself. He had to appear sure of himself, for Virgil's sake.
His reverie was interrupted by a tortured cry of pain coming
from behind him.
Virgil...Don't! The walls...!"
ran to his brother and cupped one hand tightly over his mouth,
stifling his screams. He spotted the offending arthropod and
swatted it into next week with the other hand. He looked back
to the wall of the cave. Gravel was raining down once again as
the great machine slipped another few centimeters.
Scott cried, raising his voice to the heavens in frustration.
"Please, give me a chance to get us out of here! Give us a
chance to help ourselves, dammit!" As if in response to his
pleas, all became quiet once again.
He sank to
his knees, emotionally and physically exhausted, his head
scrambled back over to his brother, fearful.
speak to me! Are you okay?"
swallowed hard and began to shake uncontrollably. Scott had to
lean down to him to hear him speak. He tried again.
want you...to die...because of me. P-Please, get yourself
out...while you still can!" He dissolved into a paroxysm of
"No way am
I leaving you, Virgil! No way!"
himself to his feet and made his way to where the lifeline was
tied to the shovel, making sure the cable was secure and would
not slip off. He turned back to his brother.
this is it, When I give the word, I want you to try and roll
to your right as fast as you possibly can. You're gonna need
to move like you've never done before, understand?"
met and Virgil's expression faltered. "I'm-I'm not sure if I
can, Scott . M-My legs. C-Can't feel them."
licked his dry lips and tried to continue. Scott noticed the
slur in his speech and realized that the scorpion's venom was
probably beginning to affect him. His heart began to race. How
could he get his brother out of this situation if he couldn't
even get himself out of the way?
Tracy to Base. Come in please!"
Alan," came Jeff's reply.
we have Kauai in our sights and will be on the ground in
approximately ten minutes."
great, son! Let us know what you find A.S.A.P…Your grandmother
is letting her imagination get the best of her and the sooner
we know, the better."
Father! Will do, Tracy out."
turned to his mother.
Jeff, why did you go and tell him that. I just want to know if
they're all right like everyone else. I have a right to be
worried too, they are my grandsons after all."
Mother, and I'm sorry. It's just that...it's just..."
came around to the desk to put a comforting hand on her son's
son, I know. Don't worry, those two can make it through
anything. Gordon and Alan will have them home in time for
supper. Count on it!"
course, you're right," Jeff conceded. "If anyone can get
themselves out of a jam, it's Scott and Virgil."
Virg, here we go."
just...want you to know...you know."
Virg. Yeah, I know."
faintly and gazed into the eyes of the brother to whom he'd
always been the closest. They exchanged a knowing look. He
turned away from him a final time and closed his eyes.
don't let me screw this up," he prayed softly.
logistical problem before him now was how to get the Digger to
fall end over end into the void, taking the rock slab with it.
Currently, it was threatening to fall over sideways, right on
top of them. Scott's mind raced to try and come up with a way
to tip the balance in the direction he wanted. As he glanced
around the area, his eye once again caught the glint of metal.
It was the piece he had used earlier to dig Virgil out from
under the debris. A sudden inspiration struck him. He grabbed
the makeshift shovel head and jumped a couple of feet off of
the ground. As he did so, he embedded the piece of metal into
the cavern wall. He hung from it for a brief moment and then
pulled his six foot two frame up by his forearms. He waited.
So far, so good. No disturbance in the surrounding soil. He
let out a deep breath and reached out with his left hand to
steady himself on a small outcropping of rock. With his right
hand, he pulled the metal out again. He gained a little
momentum by pushing off of the rock with his left hand and
reached up as high as he could to plant it another 3 feet or
so above him. Again, he pulled his body up to match the new
watched in fascination as his brother repeated the steps until
he was high enough to use the rock outcropping as leverage to
stand on. He began to realize what Scott's intention was as he
was now almost even with the gaping jaws of the great
bulldozer. The bottom of the huge shovel was angled backwards
which meant it was facing toward him, providing a platform for
him to stand on.
All he had
to do was reach over a few feet and grab onto the shovel,
while using the piece of scrap metal anchored in the soil to
steady himself. Hope rose in Virgil as he watched his brother
about to attain his goal. That's when it happened.
of metal he was holding onto came loose. Virgil gasped as
Scott lost his footing, about to plummet 10 feet to the
ground, and a bit too close to the edge of the ledge.
swallowed hard and rested his head back on the ground as Scott
grabbed a hold of the great shovel's edge and hung on. His
eyes were clenched shut as he waited for his added weight to
pull the whole thing over on top of Virgil. When it didn't
happen, he opened his eyes once more and winked at his younger
expression was haggard, but he still managed a faint smile.
Neither brother spoke as Scott gingerly made an attempt to
find some secure footing. He could feel his heart thumping
wildly as he slowly pulled himself up and onto the surface of
the great shovel. He couldn't believe his luck as the whole
contraption remained steady and all that was lost in the
process were a few handfuls of earth and most of his wits. He
moved forward with renewed confidence, testing the stability
of the machine against the loosening soil of the cave wall. It
was holding...for now. It seemed that given the location he
was standing in, the Digger was now counter-balanced, meaning
it wouldn't fall either way. The problem was, he needed
it to fall or this nightmare they were trapped in was never
going to end. Scott tried pushing his feet against the struts
holding the shovel. Nothing happened. He thought furiously as
he gazed upward at the main body of the great behemoth. That's
when the idea struck him. The solution was so simple, so
obvious. He silently cursed himself for not coming up with it
sooner. A weak voice made him turn around. Virgil had
apparently guessed what his brother was intending.
Yes...It sh-should...work." Virgil coughed. " B-Be c-careful,
Virg, I will," was his only reply. Okay, showtime!
remembered that the piece of metal he had used to climb up to
the Digger had come loose and fallen to the ground, leaving
him with no tools. All he had left were the 2 metal canisters
contained in his utility belt. At least he hadn't lost them,
he mused. They weren't as good as a shovel but they were
better than nothing. He pulled out the one holding the spare
laser clips for his blaster pistol. Not something one should
be digging with, but better than using the cylinder full of
stun gas. It would most definitely put a crimp in his plans if
he were to be rendered unconscious right now. He reached as
high as he could with the first cylinder and began removing
soil just under the area where the machine's greatest weight
was supported. He knew if he could get that part going,
inertia would take the whole thing right over the edge.
Alan, look!" Gordon cried as he spotted the two Thunderbirds
on the ground below them.
them, Gords! I see them. Well, everything looks okay from up
here...." Alan's face fell as they got closer and his eyes
were able to focus on the huge, gaping hole coming into view
"Thunderbird two is still up on her struts with the Pod door
opened, like they didn't get a chance to put the equipment
they fell into that?" Gordon finished.
brothers looked at each other, their expressions mirroring the
fear they both felt.
thing down now, Al!"
digging for what seemed like forever, Scott was finally
rewarded with the sound of creaking metal. He kept at it, even
though he knew in the back of his mind there was a chance that
the Digger would take him with it. The creaking sounded to him
as though the machine was protesting, not wanting to be
dislodged from its resting place. Dammit, concentrate!
the sweat from his brow and felt another wave of dizziness
wash over him. No, please. Not now! He shook it off as
the main body of the Digger began to fall to his left. He
tensed, but still kept digging, wanting to make sure it went
over all the way.
No, g-get off!" Virgil cried.
ready, Virg!" He yelled back over his shoulder.
jumped from where he was perched, just in the nick of time to
narrowly avoid getting smacked by the hind end of the vehicle
as it moved counter clock-wise. He hit the ground running and
managed to push Virgil out of the way as soon as the shovel
section lifted up, taking the attached slab of rock with it.
The rotation of the vehicle caused the slab to then be slammed
back down onto the exact spot where Virgil had been lying,
with tremendous force. The screams of tortured metal resonated
within the cavern as the Excadigger fell to its apparent
demise, finally taking the rock wall with it, over the edge.
The noise, and soon after, the impact of the machine against
the sides of the crater, caused the cave walls to again begin
collapsing. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the
echoes ceased and all was silent once again.
dust cleared around him, Virgil tried to get his bearings. The
light was dimmer now, the illumination stick covered in a
layer of soil and debris. He was free from his rock prison,
but still felt a weight pressing on him. He was shivering
violently from hypothermia and his motor functions were being
affected as the venom from the scorpion bite reached its full
potency. As he tried to focus above him and get his eyes
adjusted to the new lighting, he realized that in the melee,
his brother had thrown himself on top of him in order to
protect him from the falling debris. He smiled faintly and
slowly shook his head.
y-you can get up now, it's o-okay...Y-You did it! We-we're
face was buried in Virgil's shoulder, his arms wrapped around
his torso. Virgil took his head and tried to lift it up. His
body was like a rag doll in his arms. His eyes were closed and
he was as white as death. The panic rose in Virgil as he felt
something warm and wet behind his right ear. He removed his
hand and stared at it. His palm was completely covered in
blood. Exhaustion and the strain of the past several hours had
taken their toll. Virgil was beside himself with despair. He
choked on the words as an anguished cry escaped from his lips.
talking to Scott and stroking his hair, trying to soothe him,
even though he knew he probably couldn't hear him.
be...okay S-Scott. Please, p-please, you've got to t-try and
h-hang on...Someone will f-find us....They have to!"
his arms around his brother, surprised that they were still
working, and held him tightly, keeping him warm and talking to
him in soothing tones.
high up above, the events of the past few minutes had not gone
unnoticed as the ground shook slightly beneath the two
listen, did you hear that? It sounded like a train wreck."
Jesus, the Digger!"
hit the pavement at a dead run, and as they reached the edge
of the crater, Alan almost fell in when a piece of it gave
way. Gordon grabbed him by his uniform shirt and roughly
pulled him back. He smiled slightly when he saw the paled
expression on his younger brother's face.
moved as close as they dared to the edge and squinted as they
tried to peer down into the gargantuan hole.
Virgil? Are you down there?" yelled Alan.
couldn't believe his ears. He let out a great, heaving breath.Thank
we are, Al! Hurry! Scott's hurt bad. We need to get him out of
worry, Bro. We'll have you out in two shakes, just sit tight,"
felt woozy, but relieved and just as his surroundings began to
gray out, he had but one thought on his mind. It's gonna be
all right. We're gonna be all right now.
awoke to find Virgil by his bedside, snoring away. Where was
he and why was Virgil in a wheelchair? He blinked and tried to
focus on his surroundings before slowly drifting back into a
drug induced coma.
Digger...No! God, Virgil...LOOK OUT!!!
He sat up
with a start and felt a comforting hand on his arm.
son, you're safe now."
looked up into the concerned face of his father. He touched
his own face and realized that a bandage had been wrapped
around his head. Then came the pain and the nausea, both
hitting him simultaneously. Jeff Tracy helped his son lean
over the bedside as he emptied the contents of his stomach
into a bed pan. He rang the buzzer behind the bed and a nurse
everything all right?"
too serious," Jeff answered. "We, uh, just need a new bedpan
and some ginger ale for my star patient here."
understand, Sir," came the reply.
his eldest son by the shoulders and gently laid him back
against the pillow. Scott was obviously embarrassed. The nurse
arrived and cleaned him up a bit before presenting him with
the ginger ale.
this will settle your stomach."
okay, really, happens all the time."
smiled sweetly at him before exiting the room.
Scott," his father said. "You've got a bad concussion. It's to
a hand to his head.
wish someone would stop this merry-go-round so I could get
He sat up
hesitantly and looked around him.
the main hospital facility in Honolulu. We thought we
shouldn't try to take you and Virgil home until you'd been
under observation for a day or two. The doctors also wanted to
run some tests. They got the results back and it looks like
the two of you can get out of here tomorrow. I convinced them
that our sick bay would be enough for you to convalesce in.
"Father...Virgil. Is he...?"
looked toward the door and grinned.
you ask him yourself?"
turned his head sharply, too sharply, and had to sink back
onto the bed.
teach you not to follow doctor's orders. Now just lay back and
relax, would ya?"
grinned, despite his obvious discomfort.
would imagine you two have things to talk about. I'll be back
a little later, Jeff said."
He got up
and closed the door on his way out.
are you, really?"
almost as good as new, thanks to you."
turned suddenly serious.
hell where you trying to do anyway, get yourself killed?"
looked him straight in the eye.
expression softened a bit.
Just don't ever scare me like that again, okay?"
the emotion rising in Virgil. It was just below the surface
you would have done the same for me, so forget it."
up from his wheelchair and placed a strong hand on his
I won't, not ever."
Scott's shoulder a gentle squeeze. Scott placed a hand on his
and as their eyes met, they knew no other words were needed.
It was right about then that the hospital room door burst open
and their two youngest brothers blew into the room dressed in
grass skirts and carrying all manner of cheap souvenirs
purchased at the tourist outlets. Gordon was also wearing a
couple of strategically placed coconut halves. Scott was about
to protest when he realized that just being here was enough
for him. Just to be able to experience this. He and
Virgil exchanged grins, and as his wrist telecom beeped and
John's face appeared on the small screen from up in
Thunderbird 5, he knew he wouldn't change a thing.