In a world of unrest, a cause
for celebration is marred by tragedy and violence, with the
Tracys caught smack in the middle.
This story was written in
response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum 2005 Picture
no way. No sir, never, and he would tell you so himself. If
you ever caught Scott Tracy setting foot in a disco again, it
would be over his dead body. That's just the way it was.
Especially after that last time...oh, well, no point going
into all that. Suffice it to say, it hadn't been one of his
most shining moments.
was it on this night, he found himself shouting over the
relentless, pulsating beat of a DJs latest and not so greatest
selection? Shouting...he was shouting for that brother of his.
You know, the youngest one, the one that insisted that just
because Tin Tin had completed her tenth mission as a member of
International Rescue, it was time to take her to the mainland
to celebrate. That kid. He would find any excuse to get away
from Base for a night. Thank God that's all it usually was, a
night, since all of the Tracys' private aircraft, as well as
the ones they used on rescues, could easily make the trip in
about the same time it took to order a pizza the old fashioned
Scott's mouth watered at the prospect, but a snack would have
to wait for now. It might have been Tin Tin's night to shine,
but the eldest Tracy son's dislike of all things mirror-balled
had led him to leave the nightclubbing to the youngsters and
arrange to meet his father elsewhere, at a quaint old pub,
which curiously enough was situated just down the street from
the dance club. Jeff had been on the way back from his
corporation's New York offices and thought it might be nice to
meet up with them all and help celebrate Tin Tin's milestone.
A quick glance at his chronometer told him that the designated
hour was fast approaching. If he could just slip out
Hey Scott, where're you going?"
go, Sparky. I promised Dad I'd meet him at Schlotskie's down
the street in about 15 minutes."
It used to
annoy Alan to no end whenever his big brother referred to him
with that rather dubious nickname. He'd gotten enough ribbing
from Gordon already, not to mention thorough chewing outs from
his father regarding his tendency to engage in campus
experiments that resulted in the blowing up of nearby objects
that were normally not combustible. Over the years though, it
had grown on him and he now regarded it as a somewhat
convoluted expression of Scott's affection.
really have to leave now, Scott?" Tin Tin chimed in. Kevorkian
and the Euthan-Atheists are due on stage any minute now.
You'll miss them and this is their only performance on the
Euthan...what? Aw, that's a shame. Well, you two be sure to
give me the blow by blow on their performance. Dad's waiting
for me. We'll see you two tomorrow for brunch."
As he made
his way down the block to the structure resembling a rustic
old cottage, his mood was tense. The scenery around him was
becoming surreal and seemed to pop out into view around him.
It was as if he had donned a pair of those old 3-D glasses
that they used to give out at the cinema before a movie. His
senses seemed heightened, on full alert, although he couldn't
figure out exactly why. This was supposed to be an enjoyable
evening off for him, a respite from the usual high adrenaline
roller coaster ride he had become accustomed to while out on
duty. He found himself taking in everything, down to the last
detail; the grating sound a piece of cardboard made as it
skidded along down the street, powered only by the wafting
summer breeze, the rustling of trees in the nearby park. He
began thinking of his family back on the island and wondering
if Virgil would have been busting his chops right now for not
taking this opportunity to relax. He wouldn't have minded
though if his oldest brother and best friend were there to
harass him. Somehow, everything always seemed more enjoyable
when he had Virgil there to share it with.
thoughts were interrupted and his nose nearly broken when he
was almost whacked in the face with the etched glass of the
pub's front door. Whoever was behind it was in a hell of a
hurry, and Scott was so busy employing his fighter-pilot
reflexes to avoid the hinged missile as it swung open that he
never saw the culprit's face, let alone had time to reprimand
him for his carelessness.
one look at the blur of a figure hurrying down the street and
shook his head. It was curious, he thought, that the man was
wearing a quilted jacket even though the city was in the
middle of a heat wave. But, as he wasn't one to dwell on such
things, he shrugged it off and continued inside. There,
sitting at a table in the far corner, was the patriarch of his
family. They greeted each other with a handshake as was the
Tracy way, but Jeff's eyes were warm and welcoming.
son. What's your pleasure? They have some really good aged
single malts in the back that Sean over there at the bar would
be willing to blow the dust off for us."
sounds great, Dad. How was New York?"
know, the usual. I was glad to have an excuse to get out of
there. You know how it is...I can only take so much of having
to make small talk with that bunch of insufferable stuffed
you than me, Dad. Those guys are sharks -- they'd stab you in
the back any day of the week if they could get away with it. I
don't know how you do it."
someday, all of it will be yours, and you're going to have to
learn how to at least pretend to be tolerant of those people,
son...if you want the benefit of their cooperation."
that time," Scott leaned forward in his seat, "and I know it
won't be anytime soon, let's hope a miracle happens and when I
have to take over the reins, I won't have to deal with people
like that any more."
you're right, son. Sometimes it just makes me ill to have grin
and bear it."
and forget about all that, Father. Tonight we relax and catch
our breaths and tomorrow morning we'll be meeting Alan and Tin
Tin for a celebration champagne brunch."
What's wrong with celebrating tonight?"
his father a meaningful look. Jeff caught it and cleared his
throat, nodding. "Ah, yes. Quite. I hope they're being
said, son, quite." Jeff caught the bartender's eye and waved
him over to their table. "What do you say we get us some
dinner, I'm starved."
grin spread over the eldest Tracy son's face. "Now that
sounds like a plan."
concert, Alan and Tin Tin decided to call it a night, at least
a far as clubbing was concerned. As they made their way to the
exit, Alan suddenly became aware that something wasn't quite
right. A quick glance up toward the rafters of the building
revealed the silhouette of a man shimmying down a rope over by
where the emergency exit and the restrooms were located. Tin
Tin followed his line of sight and saw the man too. He was
wearing a bulky jacket that was zipped all the way up to his
neck. Unusual attire for a dance club to say the least.
you suppose that's all about?"
know, Tin Tin, but I don't think it's part of the show."
intuition was on full alert. "This is a bit strange, Alan.
Let's find the manager and ask him about it. You can never be
them, she and Alan had witnessed enough rescues that could
have been prevented to know that last statement was a motto to
be lived by. It was then she noticed that Alan's face had gone
completely pale. "Alan, what is it?"
The man on
the rope had hit the ground running, but not towards an exit.
Instead, he was headed for what was currently the most densely
populated area of the club, the dance floor. His back was to
them, but Alan saw him rip his shirt off, revealing a harness
that covered his torso and was laden with what looked like
plastic explosives, something he never would have gotten past
security had he entered the building in the traditional
manner. Tin Tin and Alan took one look at each other before
each shouting a single command...
bolted for an emergency exit but were too late. Just as they
arrived and got the door opened, the man detonated the device.
All hell broke loose as the force of the explosion sent
shockwaves throughout the entire structure, literally
disintegrating whatever was closest to the center of the
blast. The last thing Alan remembered was losing his grip on
Tin Tin's hand as he was being blown out the door.
food to feed a small army had just arrived at Jeff and Scott's
table when the entire pub was rocked by tremors from an
outside source. Several windows were shattered and the two men
instinctively "hit the deck" by diving under their table.
Chunks of ceiling material rained down in front of them,
knocking Sean the bartender cold.
reached out a hand to grab his shirt collar to try and drag
the man to safety. Scott helped and together they managed to
get him under the table and out of harm's way. As soon as the
shuddering subsided and the dust began to clear, Scott got on
his cell phone and tried the emergency number. As he'd half
expected, the airwaves were already jammed.
giving up on the call, Scott checked Sean's vital signs and
blotted blood from a scalp wound with Jeff's handkerchief. All
around them, frightened people were screaming and calling out
to loved ones. The scene was one of utter chaos.
condition didn't seem to be life threatening so after getting
one of the cocktail waitresses to keep an eye on him, Scott
and Jeff got up to leave. They were halfway to the door when
they noticed an elderly woman lying on the floor. She had
become injured after a lighting fixture had fallen on her. A
cursory examination showed that she had a broken collarbone
but the real danger was that she was beginning to go into
shock. Jeff quickly elevated her legs while Scott looked for
something to cover her up with that would retain her body
heat. The only thing available to him was a tablecloth but it
would have to suffice. They made the woman as comfortable as
possible and, after a time, she began to show signs of
improvement. Since there was nothing more they could do for
her at the moment, they decided to leave her in capable hands
and make a hasty exit. The two Tracy men literally bolted out
the door and onto the street. As they looked to their right,
Scott gasped and squeezed his father's arm.
"Alan...Alan and Tin Tin...I left them at that nightclub no
more than forty five minutes ago."
the nightclub, son?"
eyes followed to where Scott was pointing. Down at the end of
the next block he could see the remnants of a building, now
of a frantic brother met those of an anxious father and
together they ran toward the ruined building, both praying
that they wouldn't find what they so desperately feared.
"Paradise," word of the catastrophe had filtered down through
the satellite and into the lounge of Tracy Villa where Gordon
stood before a live vidscreen, riveted in place. The ancient
names of three well-known religious figures came to mind, not
that Gordon was a religious man.
Mary and Joseph! John! Virgil! Get your asses in here, now!"
had been raiding the kitchen, as they often did whenever there
was a lull in the action. John had taken up Virgil's favorite
pastime ever since Jeff had decided to try out the automation
program in Thunderbird Five and bring him back to Terra Firma
for an extended period. He figured it couldn't hurt since
everyone kept telling him he needed to put some meat on his
bones anyway. The food up in the orbiting satellite was not
exactly what came to mind when you were craving a particular
snack. It was nutritious and filled you up but did nothing to
excite your palette.
brothers ran toward the lounge upon hearing Gordon's cry,
bumping into each other and nearly spilling the contents of
storage containers and bowls on their way out. Once within
earshot of the news broadcast they froze in their tracks, the
doughnut held firmly between Virgil's lips falling to the
ground as the full realization of what he was hearing and
seeing struck him. They all knew that district full of clubs,
restaurants and pubs and had all frequented it at one time or
another. It was a favorite destination of the family, which is
why it had been chosen as the place to celebrate Tin Tin's
broadcast finally ended, a deathlike silence descended over
the room for a few seconds as the three brothers processed
what they had just seen. Without a word and without waiting
for the call, they ran for both the slide and the passenger
lift that would take them to Thunderbird Two.
and Scott approached the scene, a horrible sight greeted them.
People that had been standing just a few feet from the
building waiting to get in were now almost unrecognizable as
human beings. The two had been around this kind of situation
before, and both of them knew that for many of the victims,
the only means of identification short of a DNA sample would
be articles of clothing, women's handbags, and other similar
personal effects. Scott closed his eyes, feeling the bile
rising in his throat. Having been in the nightclub just a
little while before, he knew that most of the victims were
barely more than children. Jeff placed a slightly shaky hand
on his arm and tried to be optimistic.
your brother and Tin Tin left before this happened."
I don't think so, as much as I'd like to believe it."
makes you say that, Scott? How do you know?"
either of them tried to contact us to tell us they're all
right? They'd know what we'd be thinking at this point."
raised his wrist to his lips in the hopes of locating his
youngest son. "Alan, this is your father. Please respond and
let us know that you're okay."
only an eerie silence that continued. Scott didn't dare look
at Jeff for fear that his rather shaky fašade would slip and
reveal the overwhelming fear in his heart for the safety of
Tin-Tin and his youngest brother. Knowing what his eldest son
was thinking, Jeff tried to detach himself from the situation
and get his thoughts moving in a less gruesome direction.
from the look of it, the blast happened inside the building,
with the full force of it being released towards this side of
not respond but began moving towards the area where he thought
the local authorities would be gathering. Jeff stuck to his
side figuring the best thing to do in a situation like this
was to remain proactive. To let your mind wander was the
quickest way to drive yourself mad with worry.
recognized the Incident Command Post and went directly to the
dispatcher, in this case the head of the local disaster
to keep himself from grabbing the man and demanding to look
under the sheets covering the triaged victims lying over to
the side that had been classified as deceased. He knew the
drill and he was not going to interfere with this man's job.
He just wanted to be able to search for the missing members of
his family. He stealthily approached the area and checked for
any recognizable physical characteristics while Jeff kept the
dispatcher busy with questions about survivors. After he had
confirmed that his little brother and Tin Tin were not
included in the group of recovered bodies, and knowing that he
and his father would never be granted access using their
layman's identities, he made an almost imperceptible gesture
in Jeff's direction indicating that they could sneak by the
barricade and find a way into the building.
started to shoot a look of disapproval at his son for the
suggestion, then paused, mentally conceding that they had to
do something. Along with his son, there may be others
who had gotten trapped under the mountain of debris. Normally,
he would have stayed out of such matters until those in charge
of the situation requested International Rescue's help. In
these cases, you didn't want to become part of the problem and
if the local authorities believed they could handle it
themselves, who was he to argue. But this was different. Two
of the people most precious to him in the world might be lying
somewhere injured and unable to call out for help. If the
unthinkable were to happen, he would also rather be aware of
that situation instead of having to stand by and wonder.
grabbed each of them a hardhat and as they tried to make their
way around to the side of the building where there was less
debris blocking the way, they passed a few of the rescue
workers who were coming out. A couple of them were carrying a
stretcher with a victim on it. At a glance, they could see
that it was neither Tin Tin nor Alan. They would have been
relieved had all of the victims been recovered at that point.
Since this was not the case, they continued on to where the
frame of a doorway still stood but the outward force of the
blast had turned the opening itself into a huge hole in the
Scott started to step through it, a beam fell from above,
nearly landing on top of him. For the second time that day,
his lightning reflexes saved him. He jumped out of the way,
nearly knocking over his father behind him.
to hide the fact that he'd just had the wind knocked out of
him. "Don't worry...about it. I'm just glad...that thing
guess today's my lucky day."
let's hope it was Alan's as well."
that. Father, when I was in the club earlier, I noticed it had
a glass roof so people could see the stars."
you getting at, Scott?"
I can get up there on top of it, maybe I can peer down and get
a better idea of the situation inside."
you know it's stable enough? The whole thing could come down,
taking you with it."
but what choice have we got? I can't do anything for Alan and
Tin Tin until I know the conditions inside the building and by
the time the locals are able to find them..."
don't like it. We haven't even been able to determine their
location. But right now, I haven't got a better idea. Be
about halfway up the ladder that ran along the outside of the
building up to the roof when his wrist com beeped. His reflex
was to become irritated given his location, but then he
realized that it might be Alan.
here. Alan, is that you?"
in surprise as he recognized the voice. "Virgil?"
we're about 20 minutes from your location. We heard what
happened on the news. Is everyone all right?"
"Dad and I
are but Alan and Tin Tin are missing and we haven't been able
to track their comm. signals. They were at the nightclub where
the bomb went off."
image on the tiny display screen showed a face that was stoic
but his eyes spoke volumes and Scott's heart nearly broke at
became little more than a whisper. "I know, Virg. I know."
be okay, Scott. They have to be."
brother bowed his head, trying to keep his emotions in check.
pushed his feelings away and tried to get back to the task at
to get up on the transparent roof so I can see down inside
there and find out the extent of the damage. All the other
entrances are blocked."
what? What if the damn thing collapses while you're up there?"
you too. I've already gotten this lecture from Dad. Look, if
you have any better ideas, I'm open to suggestions."
silence that followed confirmed that Virgil had none. "Okay,
but be careful."
Virg, always. I'll talk to you again when you arrive. Dad can
suggest a good spot for you to land. Scott out." And with
that, he continued his ascent.
top of the structure, he was relieved to find that the
integrity of the sky light hadn't been compromised. He
couldn't really tell about the rest of the roof yet as there
wasn't much light except for that thrown by the half moon
hovering above. As he was trying to inspect it, a voice from
behind him nearly made him jump.
the...what are you doing up here?"
I've decided to share the risk. I wouldn't order any of the
men in my unit to do a job I wouldn't do myself."
you didn't order..."
"I know I
didn't, Scott, but I figured you might need this."
handed him a high-powered torchlight, which he had "borrowed"
from the emergency supply bin at the staging area. Scott
accepted it with a grateful smile and proceeded to inspect the
roofing. Jeff checked the area opposite from where his eldest
the young field commander stood up and started suggesting to
his father what their next move should be. He was halfway
through his sentence when the elder Tracy heard a faint
cracking sound. It didn't seem to be coming from anywhere
specific. Instead, it seemed to be all around them. Scott
heard it too and he froze in his tracks, not daring to take a
breath. For a moment, their eyes locked. Father and son held
each other's gaze...right up until the moment the roof
collapsed and they fell together, forty feet straight down.
touched down in the park just around the block, almost exactly
on the spot where his father had instructed him to land. As
the three brothers exited their aircraft, they were
overwhelmed by the scene that surrounded them. People were
running everywhere. Some were screaming and crying. Some had
radios and were issuing orders. Others just wandered
aimlessly, appearing to be in shock.
a double take and gasped aloud as he noticed a young woman
ambling towards them. She didn't seem too steady on her feet
and her face and blouse were covered with blood. Gordon's
hands went out just in time to catch her as she collapsed in
he exclaimed. The second time sounded more like a prayer. "Tin
Tin, thank God."
wasn't sure if he was conscious or not. He couldn't see,
couldn't feel, but then he realized that he could hear because
he could tell that there was still a small amount of debris
raining down from the roof...the roof! He tried to
shake himself back to awareness, knowing he'd been successful
when a sharp stab of pain shot up his spine, making him grit
his teeth and the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He
decided that next time he wanted to wake himself up, he'd
pinch himself instead. The pain did make him sure of one fact.
He was alive, at least for now. How, he didn't know. It
occurred to him that he was lying on top of something. It was
warm, but not too soft. His hand trailed down and felt someone
lying beneath him. He groped around desperately in the dark,
hoping. Damn, where is it? It's here, I know it is.
Still nothing, and then...Yes! Jeff hugged the
torchlight to his body, delighted to have found it still
intact. He shined the bright beam on the still figure below
him and his heart sank. "Oh, Scott."
one of the few times that the Tracy men could remember when
International Rescue's arrival went virtually unheralded.
Everyone was so caught up in the chaos and confusion of the
moment that they barely noticed the great green bird that had
landed in the middle of their city or the three men in blue
that had come walking out of her.
on the other hand, could not remember having felt more
helpless. As they tended to Tin Tin's injuries in Thunderbird
Two's infirmary, they became assured that she would recover
with no lasting physical affects, but what of Alan, and what
of the hundreds of others that were still missing?
had regained consciousness, Tin Tin had told Gordon, John and
Virgil that she had survived by leaping into a stairwell near
the exit and that she had tried to pull Alan in with her, only
to have him ripped from her grasp. They made a promise to her
and to each other that they would find their brother. She
insisted that she would be fine alone and that all three of
them should help with the search for victims.
Reluctantly, they left her and went back outside to assess the
situation and decide what type of equipment they would need.
They came prepared for almost anything they might encounter
and Pod Three was loaded to full capacity. John remarked that
Scott would've been proud of them for having been so prepared.
It was then that Virgil realized he hadn't spoken to his big
brother since they had found their "little sister."
his wrist comm. and spoke into it. "Thunderbird Two to Scott.
Come in, Scott."
didn't prompt a response, he tried again. "Scott, this is
Virgil, we've found Tin Tin, do you read me?"
still didn't receive an answer, he knew something had to be
wrong. He was just about to ask John to try calling on his
device when a voice that was somehow familiar, somehow not,
transmitted a barely audible signal.
is Jeff Tracy. Thunderbird Two, do you read?"
voices responded in unison. "Dad!"
on, not wanting to field any questions. "Listen, Scott and I
are inside the destroyed nightclub. We were on the rooftop and
it collapsed under us. I can't really give you an exact
location but you can trace my signal. Scott is hurt pretty
badly. He broke my fall on the way down. You've got to get him
out of here."
swallowed hard before responding. "What about you, Father?"
fine, just a couple of cracked ribs."
glanced down at Scott's motionless form, a hint of urgency
creeping into his voice. "You've got to hurry!"
didn't like Jeff's tone and the Tracy sons knew that the
situation must be desperate. They responded back with a chorus
of Yes, Fathers! and promptly cut the link. John then
re-established a link between Thunderbird Five's main tracking
systems and his communicator in order to try to locate his
father and brother inside the ruined structure.
told his father yet but the reason they had not been able to
locate Alan and Tin Tin with it was because there was still a
bug or two in the automation system. He would have to get with
Brains on that as soon as they returned to the island and he
could only hope it would work now, for Jeff and Scott.
ruined nightclub, Jeff had moved into a sitting position and
was cradling Scott's head in his lap. He was staring into
nothing as he stroked his boy's thick, wavy hair, the way he
did when he was a small child. He just chatted away about
anything and everything, hoping the sound of his voice would
have a soothing effect on his gravely injured son. He didn't
know if he could hear him or not, but in any case, talking to
him couldn't hurt.
At last he
heard Scott moan, faintly, and felt his son stir a little. The
moaning became louder and Jeff tried to get through to his
eldest and bring him back to him.
Scott, son, can you hear me? It's all right now. I'm here with
you and I'm going to take care of you. Please, wake up."
becoming slightly agitated, as if he were in the throes of a
nightmare. Jeff tried again, his tone firmer now.
Jefferson Tracy, this is your father speaking. I want you to
listen to me, young man. The time has come for you to wake up
and I don't want any excuses, do you hear me?"
at all surprised to hear a soft "Yes, sir" escape from
replied with a stern "Good. Report, soldier. That's an order!"
Miraculously, his first-born's eyelids flickered open but it
took him a minute to recognize Jeff. He raised a hand to try
and touch his father's face, but didn't have the strength and
it fell back down to his side. Jeff grabbed the hand and
touched it to his face to let his boy know he was there for
smiled slightly. "Dad, what're you doing here?"
know, I had nothing better to do on a Saturday night so I
thought I'd crash the party."
started to chuckle but ended up with his body being racked by
son, easy. You know, you really didn't need to catch me. I
could have found a good enough place to land all on my own."
His smile was warm and affectionate.
was able to talk again without coughing, Scott responded with,
"Well, you know (more coughing), I am the field
commander. Nobody goes it alone on my watch."
was weak, but his smile was dazzling.
think this was a bit above and beyond the call of duty if you
somebody's gotta look out for the boss, eh?"
dissolved into another paroxysm of wheezing and coughing.
don't talk, son. Save your strength."
coughed again. "That'd be a first for me, huh...keeping my
mouth shut?" He swallowed hard. "I'm cold, Dad."
alarmed Jeff but he did his best not to show it. He lay down
and cuddled up next to his son, being mindful not to hurt him.
He was afraid that Scott might have internal injuries. He just
hoped they'd be rescued before...Think positive Jeff, a
vital element of survival.
lay there for as long as it took, keeping Scott warm and
watching over him. Jeff continued to talk to him in a soothing
manner, trying to keep him alert. But the effort was draining
Scott and it finally proved to be too much. Jeff listened as
his breathing slowed and the son he was so very proud of
drifted back into unconsciousness for what he hoped would not
be the final time. Jeff realized that he too must have drifted
off as he was awakened after an unknown passage of time by
someone shaking him ever so gently. He looked up into the
concerned face of his third son.
me, John. How do you feel?"
so happy to see John that he forgot about his injuries and
attempted to quickly roll over. He was instantly reminded.
me again in a month. Boy!" he exclaimed. "Are you three a
sight for sore eyes!"
looked over at Gordon and gave him the See, I told you he
was too ornery to die wink.
watched as his eldest was being strapped to a gurney. "How's
it was Virgil putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Easy, Dad. He's got internal injuries but I think we got to
him in time. You guys actually landed on some insulating
material. Otherwise, it would have been much worse.
thank the powers that be for small miracles. What about Alan
and Tin Tin?"
piped up. "Well, Tin Tin actually found us and Alan was
discovered by some emergency workers in a field just a few
yards from here. It seems he was blown clear of the rubble.
Talk about your dumb luck. If he were a cat, I'd say he was
pushing it with the nine lives thing. He's unconscious with a
severe concussion, but he should be up and about in a few
days. I guess the three of them won't be frequenting discos
again anytime soon, which is probably just fine with Scott.
Now let's see about getting you out of here, Father."
Jeff thought to himself. Actually, they were rather large
ones, ranging in height from 6'0 to 6'2 and he'd been thankful
for them every day since the first one was born.
bent down to help him up onto the second stretcher.
your ride. Hey, Dad?" Virgil asked. "Whatever happened to
not becoming part of the problem?"
actually, maybe thankful wasn't quite the right word.