IT ALWAYS STRIKES TWICE
This story was written in
response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006 Fic Swap
Fic Swap Request: A rescue, a
nice moment between (any of) the boys, and something
ridiculous. Grandma's apple pie on fire, chicken pox, whatever
takes your fancy.
leaned up against the lanai doors with his arms folded, his
expression disapproving and his head moving from side to side.
Gordon, you really shouldn't come into the house soaking wet."
that, Al. It's just that lightening, it's frightening...Hey,
and I made a funny. Anyway, I was afraid I'd get my tail fried
if I didn't get it out of the pool and inside right then."
knew the storm was coming. I don't see why you were even in
something I have to do, Al. You know, like you have to be a
pain in the butt all the time."
frowned and was about to launch into a protest when he saw the
gleam in his older brother's eye.
Gords, you know how you always wanted to try your, um, fins
at platform diving?"
took the bait. "Yeah?"
you'll just step right this way I can give you a quick
looked out over the balcony and raised an eyebrow at his
younger sibling. "I'm sure you could, especially after that
swan dive you took."
Alan's face fell. "Yeah, well, that wasn't exactly my idea
now, was it?"
did have a little help from Virg."
joke about that, Gordon. He scared the living shit out of me.
I've never seen him so mad."
that's Virgil for you. You can only push him so far and then
you'd better stand the hell back. Besides, you asked for it,
riding him the way you did."
became thoughtful as he walked outside and leaned over the
railing. He was staring down at the pool and patio area, his
chin resting on his hands.
really would have ruined my day if he'd missed the pool with
smiled warmly. "Aw, really. I'm touched, Gordo."
since then I'd be the youngest, they probably would have made
me clean up the mess."
you..." Alan charged Gordon, making like he was going to throw
him over the edge. Gordon was ready with a block. Just as they
touched, a bolt of lightening stuck within inches of where
they were standing. The jolt sent them both flying back into
the lounge in a crumpled heap. Gordon was the first to
what a ride!"
Alan was a
bit more shaken up. "D-Did we just..."
but it was damned close. We were both lucky it didn't hit the
the emergency klaxon blared.
the love of..." He held out a hand to his younger brother.
"C'mon, Al, let me help you up."
As he did
so, his two eldest brothers bolted into the lounge and crashed
into both of them. There was now a pile up of Tracys blocking
the entrance to the lounge. Luckily, John was now earthbound
and could offer his assistance. As he came upon the chaotic
scene, the corners of his mouth went up in a fiendish smirk.
In the style of true American sports legends, John launched
himself into the air so that he landed on top of the lot of
Gordon exclaimed. "Dammit, John! Was that really necessary?"
least it wasn't Virgil."
senior Tracy did not, however, appear to be amused. He put a
hand to his forehead and closed his eyes, remembering similar
stunts performed by his sons as adolescents. He sighed,
you all think you're doing? We've got a rescue to perform.
There's a huge fire at a hotel near Central Park in New York.
Scott, you can get the details through a direct feed to your
comm. link from Five by using your data extraction code. There
are some people trapped just below the roof of the high rise
and their way is blocked in both directions. Now, get your
siblings hadn't noticed their father waiting there in the
wings. They all hurriedly scrambled to their feet, nearly
knocking each other over again in the process. Jeff just threw
his hands up in resignation. After a humble chorus of Yes,
Father! his sons were on the way to their various craft.
approached the scene of the fire, Scott used his life sign
indicators to seek out the trapped victims. Once he'd
pinpointed their position and informed Virgil, his next task
was to find a safe place to land that would also afford him
easy access to the danger zone.
some doing, but he was finally able to set his 'Bird down in
an area on the southern end of the park near a large
outcropping of trees. Thunderbird Two, though, would be
another matter. A discreet landing was difficult to begin with
because of its sheer size. For Virgil to have to land right in
the middle of the island of Manhattan would be a logistical
challenge any way you looked at it. In addition, the enormous
crowds, which had already begun forming in the densely
populated district, would pose a huge problem and the time
they would spend dispersing them was a luxury they couldn't
afford right now.
called in for assistance from the local authorities en route
but sometimes the amazing speeds that Thunderbird One could
travel at were a hindrance. On occasion, he'd had no choice
but to sit there and wait for help from the local crowd
control. If he had tried to venture out on his own, the
well-meaning onlookers would have completely engulfed him,
making him then part of the problem.
Thunderbird Two approached, Scott had Virgil land just to the
east of Cleopatra's Needle. The four sided obelisk, inscribed
with Egyptian hieroglyphics, was given to the United States in
1869 by the Khedive of Egypt in hopes of cultivating trade
relations between the two countries. Virgil was careful not to
disturb the structure with the blast from his landing jets as
he set down on a nearby athletic field.
loaded the pod containing all the necessary fire fighting
equipment, Virgil doled out the vehicle assignments to each of
his three brothers. All business now, the four Tracy men
quickly exited the pod and headed for the high rise, which was
now almost fully involved.
Scott had taken his place with Mobile Control about 50 yards
back from the base of the building so that falling debris
would not become an issue. His face showed minute signs of
relief at the sight of John in International Rescue's own
colossal fire truck.
was moving so fast and the heat was so intense. Must be
some sort of accelerant,thought the second eldest Tracy
brother. It smacked of arson, but they would worry about that
later. The main priority now was to get those people out.
Alan were using an invention of Brains' that Jeff had
originally scoffed at as being too impractical, as it could
only be used on one type of rescue. It was an elevated
platform using a carriage attached to a lifeline made of an
unbreakable, yet highly flexible material. There was a huge
balloon which resembled a mini dirigible attached to the end
of the line and filled with a lighter-than-air gas. Attached
further on down the line, was a basket resembling what used to
be referred to as a "cherry picker," which could hold two to
three grown men. The idea was to use a release valve to
manually control how much gas was pumped into the balloon,
depending on how quickly you wanted to raise or lower the
basket. The line was long enough to reach the extreme heights
that conventional fire fighting equipment could not. Gordon
was a bit uneasy as this was the first time he'd used the
equipment on an actual rescue, but it worked great in the
simulations and the premise was sound. Virgil assisted them by
being the one in charge of regulating the balloon's altitude.
informed them that there were a total of six people trapped in
the stairwell between the thirtieth floor and the roof. The
plan was to raise the basket to the correct height, punch a
hole in the wall with another handy little device known as the
Sonic Reverberator and then get the people out. It would be
touch and go for a brief time as one of them would have to
actually go inside and help get the victims to safety, but
Alan figured they could accomplish the task relatively easily
as long as the roof didn't cave in.
shouted, with the use of a microphone, for the people inside
to stand back while Alan brandished the hand held device and
proceeded to blow a five foot hole in the wall.
almost held his breath as he watched them pull the first
victim out. As he was lowering the carriage down with Gordon
and an elderly man, it was all he could do to keep it from
falling at a faster rate than was safe. Alan was now in the
building and he just wanted to get this whole thing over with
as soon as possible. Though it was difficult, he forced
himself do it slowly and steadily.
end up going fairly easily. That is, until Alan started
leading the fifth person out. Somewhere there was rumbling
sound and a beam fell from the ceiling. A woman screamed as it
landed mere millimeters from where Alan stood helping a young
immediately on the comm. channel.
Gordon, what's happened?"
had already heard Alan in the background through Gordon's
okay, Virg. It was a close one, but they're fine. Just keep it
going. John can't hold back those flames much longer."
expelled a huge breath. "Right. Thanks, Scott. It's just
that...about the flames..."
thought better of pursuing this line of thought. After all
nothing could be done about it now. John was using the best
fire fighting agents they had and no revelation of his about
the origins of the fire were going to make his task any
Scott. It's not important right now."
You don't sound convinced."
"Yeah...yeah, I'm sure."
that, he turned his attention back to the task at hand.
was said and done, twenty-two people had lost their lives.
Happily though, the six people that had been rescued by IR
were not among them. This was no comfort to Virgil, who still
couldn't let go of the fact that these people were, in effect,
murdered. The report released by the arson squad confirmed
that a highly flammable agent had been introduced by placing a
sample of the chemical in each of the fire extinguishers on
every floor of the hotel under the guise of the annual
inspection of the equipment.
took was a small amount to ignite the fire. As each
extinguisher canister exploded from the heat, it was as if the
fire had started anew. It was no wonder John had had such
difficulty holding it at bay. But, in the end, it was
determined that many more victims would have perished had it
not been for the combination of their efforts and yet another
fantastic example of Brains' ingenuity.
signed off the news link website. There was nothing to be
done. Scott came looking for his oldest sibling and found him
still at his desk, a somber expression covering his handsome
what was ailing his brother and paused a minute at the door
before entering his room. Both of them always knew when the
other was out of sorts, but since simply talking it out had
never been the Tracys' style...
your face is going to freeze that way."
Virgil was slow to ease out of his reverie. "What did you say,
that Gordon took Thunderbird Two out for a joyride and nicked
her wing on the hangar door."
responded as though he couldn't be bothered. "Oh,
shook his head out of exasperation. "VIRG!"
don't have to shout you know. I'm right here."
was becoming exasperated.
need a running partner. You know, it may not be very safe out
there for someone going it alone in the big, bad jungle. Lions
and tigers and bears, oh my!"
you are able to find any one of those animals here on this
island, I'll carry you around it."
but that would be rather undignified, don't you think?"
sighed. His older brother wasn't going to give up on him.
Typical Scott. "Okay, okay. You win."
already budding grin widened and Virgil went to change into
his workout clothes. When he was ready to go, he turned to
Scott, amusement dancing in his warm honey eyes.
Gordon wouldn't even make it out of the hangar with Two..."
only decided to meet Gordon down in Thunderbird Two's hangar
because it was about the furthest they could get away from the
villa outside of the roundhouse and Alan decided he could do
with some solitude.
Gordon. What was it that was so urgent?"
know how Virg is always busting my chops whenever I talk about
getting more flight time in Two?"
well, that's not exactly front page news."
Al, but right now he and Scott are on the other side of the
island and I got me a great big green 'Bird."
looked up at the gargantuan hulk that was Thunderbird Two.
"You've gotta be kidding me! He'll skin you alive. Besides he
can see you take off."
don't have to actually fly her. Maybe I'll just do a check of
her systems, you know, a diagnostic or something."
remember you said that when Virg finds out and we have to peel
you off the floor after her pounds you into it."
worry too much, Al."
hold of the steering yoke and pulled a lever down next to his
leg. Immediately, the cockpit was illuminated and the gauges
Gordo, that's enough. I'm already implicated here. I don't
want to get pounded too."
relax, will ya?"
went to turn on the ignition and Alan bolted from his seat.
grabbed for Gordon's arm, a jolt went through both their
bodies, sending them reeling ass over head onto the floor.
when Gordon heard it, that mocking voice. It was a voice he
wouldn't soon forget:
I knew you
couldn't keep your #$& hands off my 'Bird. Your ass is mine!
around for his younger brother, but the only thing he saw was
the back of him as he was running out the hangar door.