This story was written in response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006 Fic Swap Challenge.

Fic Swap Request: Gordon and Brains are using Thunderbird 4 for some research on the Marianas Trench, which suddenly has a piece that's jutted out of its north end that wasn't there last time they surveyed it. But when they start to take a look at this new phenomena, it isn't what either expected.

"Brains, what in God's name is that contraption?"

"U-Uh, well, uh, Gordon, It's a device I made to see along the bottom of the trench. I-I mean, we can't take Thunderbird, uh, all the way down to the maximum depth now, can we?"

"Hmm, doesn't look like anything we ever used in WASP. Well, we could try and go all the way. You used that leftover compound from the heat resistance experiment to reinforce the hull after you found out it was better suited for strengthening metal instead."

"Well, ah, y-yes, that's right. However, it hasn't been fully, ah, tested in the lab yet and I don't think a depth of over 36,000 feet is a good place to, er, start."

Gordon gave a slight shrug and a grin formed at the corners of his mouth. "Aw, whatsa matter, Brains? Not a gambling man?"

"N-no. Not when the consequences would involve your f-father turning me into shark bait...that is, if we, ah, survived."

"Oh, Dad's not so bad. He just gets a little touchy when it comes to having to rescue one of us."

"No, y-your father is just a good commander a-and a good parent. B-Both jobs require keeping up morale within the ranks and avoiding loss o-of personnel at all costs."

The man with the strawberry blond hair couldn't resist a chuckle at the mental image that conjured up. He hadn't really thought of it that way before.

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

Under Gordon's expert guidance, Thunderbird Four slowly continued on its way along the Mariana Trench, near the Mariana Islands and Guam. Of particular interest was "The Challenger Deep." This was the part of the trench that had the greatest ocean depth in the world. Even though numerous surveys had been made of its floor using state of the art robotic equipment, to this day, no human being had ever been able to venture down to the very bottom. Gordon and Brains had come closer than anyone ever had though and Gordon knew it was just a matter of time until Brains was able to solve the problems of the great pressure and temperature variations. In order to accomplish their goal, they would need a vessel that would be able to withstand the enormous pressure of over 16,000 pounds per square inch.

Gordon was salivating as he thought of the many forms of sea life found here that existed nowhere else on Earth. He was hoping to spot some of the more exotic species on this trip. They weren't necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye and some reminded him of creatures that had roamed the earth long before human beings even arrived. But, they were fascinating to study. He was even a little jealous as he thought of how they were able to come and go as they pleased in this environment while he had to rely on specialized equipment and remote cameras.

He shook himself from his reverie as he realized they were now almost over the trench. Gordon reduced their speed and Brains detected an adjustment in attitude as Thunderbird Four made its slow descent into the unknown, its halogen lighting bar lit just brightly enough for Gordon to navigate down inside the trench without disturbing the indigenous marine life.

"Whadya say we head over to the north end first, Brains? We ended there on our last trip and then Virgil called and summoned us back in a hurry. Oh, Virgil. I almost forgot."

He picked up the hand-held mic from its holder and spoke into it. "Thunderbird Four to TwoWe're on our way down now, Virg. No need for you to hover around."Then, with a smirk he added, "No point keeping that big, green gas guzzler in the air any longer than necessary."

He winked at Brains, who merely adjusted his glasses, and waited for the response he knew was coming.

"Gas Guzzler? Maybe you'd like to make your own way back to the island. I'll have Grandma hold dinner for you...until next week."

Gordon grinned and slowly shook his head.

"Big Brother, you're just as predictable as ever. Okay, you win. We'll do a quick sweep of the area toward the North end and..."

Gordon paused abruptly. It took Brains a minute to realize that he had stopped speaking as he had already started going over his log entries from their last trip down here.

"Is, ah, everything okay, er, Gordon?"

"I'm not sure, Brains. Do you see what I see?"

Virgil didn't like the way the conversation was turning.

"What's happening, Gordon?"

"Nothing yet, but I'm going to investigate. Brains, what do you ‘spose...? No, I don't believe it!"

Virgil had opened his mouth to ask the question when the communication was abruptly severed.

"Gordon. Gordon, come in. Are you there, Brains? Please...answer!"

After several more unsuccessful attempts to raise Thunderbird Four, Virgil changed the frequency and contacted International Rescue's island base.

"...Thunderbird Four to Virgil! Can you hear me? Damn! Brains, why aren't we transmitting?"

"I-It might have something to do with what we are seeing, uh, Gordon. It may somehow be, uh, blocking our signal."

"Well, what do you make of it, Brains? I know itwasn't here the last time we explored this area of the trench. I would have remembered that."

"Well, uh, what say we get a bit closer and determine, er, what exactly that is?"

Gordon seemed a bit distracted. "What? Oh, uh, yeah, right."

He directed the sub toward the strange object in front of them. It was jutting out from the mouth of the trench and resting on a bed of coral, some of it broken as though a collision had taken place. The structure was long, narrow and covered in silt. The thing that struck Gordon about the object was that it didn't appear to be a naturally occurring edifice. No, it was definitely out of place in this remote area, about twenty five miles into the trench's north end.

"Um, can you move her in a little closer, ah, Gordon? Maybe we can, ah, clean some of that stuff off and see what's underneath."

"Sure thing, Brains. I'll set the lasers on their lowest setting so I don't scorch it."

He extended the laser cutter and went to work on clearing the object of any debris. As he made his way to its bottom of it, he became aware of two more protrusions jutting out from either side of its tail end. They appeared to be fins or some type of oddly fashioned wings. Wings?

Gordon started and caught Brains' expression as the light began to dawn for him also. They shot each other a look and Gordon returned to his cleaning job. They could now make out what looked like a rectangular red stripe on each of the "wings." Then, as the debris began to fall away, they saw it. It looked like a glass canopy, but could have been made of a much stronger transparent material. They knew this had to be some type of flying machine, but not one that either of them had either seen or designed the specs for. The long, narrow protrusion turned out to be the nose of the craft and they realized it was actually resting on its rear engines.

Upon closer inspection, they realized something else. The craft had other markings, none of which were recognizable to either of them, strange...symbols of some sort?

Gordon's heart pounded faster as he moved in for a better look. As he was maneuvering around the vehicle, Thunderbird's halogen beam glinted off something.

"Gordon. Did you, ah, see that?"

"Sure did. Let's see what we've got here."

The two men were now side by side near the view-port and jockeying for position in an attempt to peer further into what appeared to be the cockpit.

"Ah, position the light a little above the "glass" so we don't get a, uh, glare, Gordon."

Gordon complied and they were then able to see that the object looked like a type of protective head gear. It featured an elaborate looking crest on the front and was bordered in black and gold along the top and sides. It was like no helmet that Brains or anyone else had ever made. The design reminded Gordon of something he'd seen in one of his grade school history books, but it wasn't a helmet and it wasn't worn during flight. Instead, it had been part of the uniform of choice for the pharaoh's and overseers of ancient Egypt. During that period, the Sphinx held the title of greatest engineering marvel and soaring through the sky was something only the gods did...or so legend had it.

They drifted in even closer and made a grisly discovery. The helmet's former owner was still in it and had been for quite a while too, by the looks of things.

"Gordon, this is, er, amazing, do you realize what we've found?"

Gordon swallowed hard and attempted to soothe his dry throat. Just as he opened his mouth to answer, the seismic indicators on his panel started going crazy. Warning, signals went off and lights on the display flashed wildly.

"What the...hang on, Brains! It looks like we're in for a bumpy ride."

Brains' frustration was evident. "Wh-What a lousy time for an underwater quake."

Just then, Thunderbird Four lurched violently. Gordon was strapped in but Brains was thrown to the rear of the cabin. He gave a yell and landed smack on his stomach after bouncing off the aft bulkhead. Even though the danger was not yet over, Gordon unstrapped himself and ran to the scientist's aid.

"You okay, Brains?"

"I-I think so."

"Are you hurt anywhere?"

"Uh, j-just my pride, I think. Uh, thanks, Gordon. D-Do you see my glasses, anywhere?"

Gordon dove for the corner and retrieved the spectacles.

"Good thing you put in those new shatter-proof lenses."


The cabin pitched and rolled sending them sliding together into the control console.

"Better get strapped in, Brains, and watch out for those after shocks."

"FAB, uh, Gordon," Brains replied as the aquanaut helped him to his feet.

That's when he noticed that the whole outcropping of coral had disappeared, and with it, their prize artifact of unknown origin.

"Oh, uh, no!"

"What is it, Brains? What's wrong?"

Brains could only dejectedly point to convey to Gordon what he was seeing. The disappointment on the other man's face was evident.

"I-I can't believe we've lost it. It's probably settled all the way to the bottom by now. We'll never get it out and it might not even survive the pressure down there. We'd probably end up with a crushed beer can anyway. Argh! We were so close, Brains...so close."

Brains placed his hand on Gordon's shoulder and gave it a small squeeze of understanding.

That's when the transmitter suddenly came to life.

"...underbird Four, do you read? Gordon, Brains...are you okay?"

This time Brains picked up the mic. "We're okay, Virgil. Guess it was just a little interference

in the area due to all the seismic activity."

Gordon regarded him with a raised eyebrow and a questioning look. "Is that the best you could come up with?"

Brains just shrugged and handed the receiver over to him.

"Uh, Brains just meant that it's time to go home, Virg, and we need a lift."

"FAB, be with you in a sec. Prepare to surface."

The two men looked into each others eyes. They had to return here and find that ship. Gordon knew if anybody could make it possible, it was the man standing before him. Until then, it would just be their secret, although something prickled persistently at the back of Gordon's mind...something from the 20th century...something regarding a battlestar...

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