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.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three


A choking sound could be heard as the dust and debris slowly cleared from the air.

"You okay, Virg?"

The strangled answer came with a cough. "Yeah, I think so...you?"

"Still here."

"What the hell happened?"

"I'm not 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."

"Well, thank God this didn't happen while we were still trying to pry those kids out of that cave."

"Amen to that."

Scott 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.

"Oh my God..."

"Scott, what is it?"

"Virg, where are you? Keep talking so I can hear you?"

Virgil began speaking in a loud voice.

"Down here! Where are you?"

The sound reverberated off the walls and gravel began to rain down, accompanied by a faint rumbling sound in the distance.

He quickly fell silent and sucked in a breath, which he held until the rumbling subsided. Finally, he released it and spoke, almost in a whisper.

"Whew, that was close! Scott, can you hear me? Scott?"

There was no reply and Virgil instantly feared for his brother's safety. Oh God...

The next 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.


For the 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? Scott, please answer me. Are you all right?"

Nothing. Then...

"Ohhhh. Mmmm. Virgil."

"Yes Scott! Yes, I'm here. Are you hurt?"

&quote;I-I think...I felt something hit me...from above, a rock maybe. My head..."

"Okay, 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..."

Scott's hand slid down to his side. Yes, it was still there.

"Virg! 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 grab it?"

"I hope so. I still can't get my hands free, but I can feel them loosening up."

"Good, keep trying. In the meantime, I'm going to try and tie this end off somewhere."

He looked 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.

They had 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.


His brother's voice shook him out of his reverie.

"Um, yeah, Virg?"

"How're you making out up there?" Scott could detect a trace of fear in his brother's voice.

"I-I can't seem to find any way to tie off the line, Virg. I'm afraid this ledge won't take...Ahhh!"

He didn't 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.

When the 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! Virgil, Oh my God!" Please, no. Please...

He began digging with his hands like a madman, his nails tearing and his fingers bleeding with the effort.

"Virgil! Virg, can you hear me?"

Scott was 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.


He made 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.

Scott closed his eyes and said a silent prayer of thanks. He placed his hand alongside Virgil's head and spoke to him gently.

"Hey there. Welcome back."

His eyes tried to focus on the figure looming over him.

"Scott? You're okay."

"I'm fine, but YOU were kind of doubtful there for a minute."

Virgil coughed. "Yeah...well, you're not gonna get rid of me that easily."

Scott 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.

He shook his finger at his younger brother in mock-sternness.

"Don't ever scare me like that again or next time I'll leave you at home."

Virgil 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.


"Don't worry, we're going to get you out of here somehow."

"But Scott, you're stuck down here too. We're both trapped, and those kids...They already took off for the other side of the island."

"I know Virg, but John can track us through our communicators and..."

"Scott, have you noticed that no one has tried to contact us?"

Scott's 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 stopped working.

"Shit! Of all the rotten luck..."

"Well, at 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."

"Yeah, you're right. It won't be long before we're missed, I hope."

"Dad?" It was Gordon who made Jeff Tracy look up from the reports on his desk.

"Yes, son, something on your mind?"

"Well, has Scott reported in again since he and Virgil were loading up to leave Hawaii."

"Come to think of it, no. That's not like him either. He's always really good about keeping me informed."

"I know. Do you think..."

"Yeah, we'd better try and contact them."

"Base to Thunderbird One. Come in please."

He got nothing back but dead air.

"Thunderbird One, Scott, do you read me?"


"Base to Virgil. Thunderbird Two, are you there?"

Again, silence.

"Father, I'm not liking the sound of this."

Jeff immediately contacted John up in the space satellite.

His middle son's Nordic features filled the vidscreen in the space that his portrait usually occupied.

"Thunderbird Five here. What's up, Father?"

"I don't 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?"

"Negative, 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."

"Okay, John. Base standing by."


There was 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 to stop.

Finally, John's signal came through again.

"Thunderbird Five calling Base." Jeff allowed himself to breathe again.

"Go ahead, John."

"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"

They all felt what the tone of John's voice had conveyed. Something had gone wrong. It was the only possible explanation.

Jeff mulled it over for a minute and then made his decision.

"Right, Gordon, you and Alan take the jet and find out what's going on over there."

Gordon half smiled, happy to be able to do something besides sit around and wait.

"Yes, Sir!"

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.

"Oh God, Virgil," he whispered. "I've got to get you free, I've just got to."

He looked 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, death warrant.

His mind 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.



His eyes 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.

Damn! He 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.

Although 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...

He pushed 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.

"Mmmm, 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?"

"Um, yeah, Virg," he lied. "I-I just tripped."

"You sure?" He coughed and tried to clear his throat, causing Scott to shoot him a look of concern.

"Can you breathe okay?"

Virgil tried to take in a full breath and choked on it.

"There's my answer," Scott replied. "Don't worry, Virg, I'm gonna get you out of there."

"I 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."

Scott grinned at his younger brother with a degree of relief, glad that both of them still had their senses of humor intact.

"Don't worry. I won't let them bang her up...too much."

He shot Scott a look of mock-indignation. "Funny guy."

They were 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.

As Alan 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.

"I can't believe Father actually let me fly his baby. Do you know how many times I've dreamed about this?"

"Yeah, 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."

Alan saw the deep concern mirrored on his usually easy going brother's face.

"Yeah, I know, I'm worried about them too," he said.

"Al, I-I 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..."

"Well, they're not going to. We're gonna find them and bring them home. It's going to be all right, Gordo."

Gordon smiled wryly. "Aw, just shut up and try not to hit any birds."

They were interrupted by the radio's signal beacon.

"Base to Tracy...Base to Tracy, come in please."

"Alan Tracy here, I read you base, go ahead."

"What's your position, Alan?"

"We should be landing in Kauai within the hour, Father. Any further news from John?"

"No, Alan, he still can't get through to them. Let me know the moment you've landed."

"F.A.B., Father!"

He glanced at Gordon. "Okay, time to see just what this baby can do..."

Scott 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.

Scott 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.

Luckily, 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.

Now that 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.


He stopped in his tracks, but did not turn to face his brother. "Yes?"

"W-What are you going to do?"

"Just what I said, I'm going to get you out of here."

Virgil 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.

"But, Scott..."

"Look, Virg," he interrupted. "If you've got a better idea, I'm all ears. But, you'd better make it quick."

He opened 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.

He was 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.

Even 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.



Scott was 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.

He squared 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.

"No! Virgil...Don't! The walls...!"

He quickly 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.

"No!" 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 spinning.


He scrambled back over to his brother, fearful.

"Virg, speak to me! Are you okay?"


He swallowed hard and began to shake uncontrollably. Scott had to lean down to him to hear him speak. He tried again.

"Don't want you...to die...because of me. P-Please, get yourself out...while you still can!" He dissolved into a paroxysm of coughing.

"No way am I leaving you, Virgil! No way!"

He forced 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.

"Okay Virg, 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?"

Their eyes met and Virgil's expression faltered. "I'm-I'm not sure if I can, Scott . M-My legs. C-Can't feel them."

Virgil 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?

"Alan Tracy to Base. Come in please!"

"Go ahead, Alan," came Jeff's reply.

"Father, we have Kauai in our sights and will be on the ground in approximately ten minutes."

"That's 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."

"Okay, Father! Will do, Tracy out."

Jeff turned to his mother.

" Now 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."

"I know, Mother, and I'm sorry. It's just that...it's just..."

Ruth Tracy came around to the desk to put a comforting hand on her son's shoulder.

"I know, 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!"

"Of course, you're right," Jeff conceded. "If anyone can get themselves out of a jam, it's Scott and Virgil."

"Okay, Virg, here we go."

"Scott, wait!"

"Why, what's wrong?"

"I-I just...want you to know...you know."

"Yeah, Virg. Yeah, I know."

He smiled 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.

"Please don't let me screw this up," he prayed softly.

The major 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 height.

Virgil 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.

The piece 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.


He 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 brother.

Virgil's 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. Yes...It sh-should...work." Virgil coughed. " B-Be c-careful, big b-brother."

"I will, Virg, I will," was his only reply. Okay, showtime!

He 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.

"There, Alan, look!" Gordon cried as he spotted the two Thunderbirds on the ground below them.

"I see 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 below them.

"Thunderbird two is still up on her struts with the Pod door opened, like they didn't get a chance to put the equipment away before..."

"...Before they fell into that?" Gordon finished.

The two brothers looked at each other, their expressions mirroring the fear they both felt.

"Get this thing down now, Al!"

After 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!

He wiped 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.

"S-Scott! No, g-get off!" Virgil cried.

"Get ready, Virg!" He yelled back over his shoulder.

Scott 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.

As the 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.

"Sc-Scott, y-you can get up now, it's o-okay...Y-You did it! We-we're s-safe! S-Scott?"

Scott's 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.

"N-No! Oh G-God! No!!"

He began talking to Scott and stroking his hair, trying to soothe him, even though he knew he probably couldn't hear him.

"I-It's g-gonna 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!"

He wrapped 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.

Meanwhile high up above, the events of the past few minutes had not gone unnoticed as the ground shook slightly beneath the two youngest Tracys.

"Al, listen, did you hear that? It sounded like a train wreck."

"Oh, Jesus, the Digger!"

They both 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.

"You okay?"

"Um, yeah, sure...thanks."

They both moved as close as they dared to the edge and squinted as they tried to peer down into the gargantuan hole.

"Scott? Virgil? Are you down there?" yelled Alan.

Virgil couldn't believe his ears. He let out a great, heaving breath.Thank God!

"Yes. Yes, we are, Al! Hurry! Scott's hurt bad. We need to get him out of here, now!"

"Don't worry, Bro. We'll have you out in two shakes, just sit tight," Gordon said.

Virgil 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.



Scott 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.

The Digger...No! God, Virgil...LOOK OUT!!!

He sat up with a start and felt a comforting hand on his arm.

"It's okay son, you're safe now."

Scott 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 answered.

"Is everything all right?"

"Nothing too serious," Jeff answered. "We, uh, just need a new bedpan and some ginger ale for my star patient here."

"I understand, Sir," came the reply.

Jeff took 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.

"Here, this will settle your stomach."

"Thank you, I-I..."

"It's okay, really, happens all the time."

The nurse smiled sweetly at him before exiting the room.

"Relax, Scott," his father said. "You've got a bad concussion. It's to be expected."

He raised a hand to his head.

"I just wish someone would stop this merry-go-round so I could get off."

He sat up hesitantly and looked around him.


"You're at 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...?"

Jeff looked toward the door and grinned.

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Scott turned his head sharply, too sharply, and had to sink back onto the bed.

"That'll teach you not to follow doctor's orders. Now just lay back and relax, would ya?"

Scott grinned, despite his obvious discomfort.

"Well, I 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.

"Virg, how are you, really?"

"Actually, almost as good as new, thanks to you."

His faced turned suddenly serious.

"What the hell where you trying to do anyway, get yourself killed?"

Scott looked him straight in the eye.

Virgil's expression softened a bit.

"Uh, Scott?"


"Thanks. Just don't ever scare me like that again, okay?"

Scott saw the emotion rising in Virgil. It was just below the surface now.

"Look Virg, you would have done the same for me, so forget it."

Virgil got up from his wheelchair and placed a strong hand on his brother's shoulder.

"No Scott, I won't, not ever."

He gave 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.

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