Stay professional. Written from Gordon's POV.
and setting: Pretty considerable for ĎTerror in New York
Cityí; itís actually set during this particular episode.
This is my first Thunderbirds
fanfiction for nearly two years. Life had a few things in mind
for me Ė good and bad Ė and so my ability to write fanfiction
in general was somewhat put on holdÖ until now. I got the idea
for this one at University (in a lecture, I think) and wrote
it before Christmas; however, it is unbetaíd and I will gladly
welcome honest feedback because I like to know my strengths
and weaknesses in the world of writing. I am considering a
sequel, but that's up to the readers.
believe I actually agreed to this.
inside the cabin of a vessel that my brothers and I once
admired greatly, I nearly laugh at the irony Ė the sick,
twisting irony of it all Ė that the only way to get on here
was because of a casualty that this thing itself caused. But I
then glance at the man who nearly damaged my family Ė our
family Ė and the bitter laugh dies in my throat.
ago, my brothers and I would have given anything to ride in
the USN Sentinel; the Ďship of greased lighteningí as Alan
quipped recently. Everything we heard about it Ė via the
tabloids, the news and various radio transmissions that John
played over the intercom from Thunderbird 5 for our personal
listening-pleasure Ė made us drool with delight, to discuss it
as the hot topic and I swear we were all two minutes away from
pleading with Dad to ring the Navy and bribe them into letting
us ride on the vessel during its next fleet-exercise.
then, the high opinion of this vessel has very much sobered in
our household; none of us are really that impressed by it
anymore. And Iíve got to say, it feels rather unfair that Iíve
been pushed into this because this is the very last place Ė on
earth, sky and sea Ė that I want to be. To me, this ship is
now a danger to anyone and anything with a pulse and a memory
Ė or maybe itís the man in charge I have to be afraid of, the
Commander of the Sentinel.
this is the man who, just a few days ago, nearly killed my
itís not supposed to sound like that if you apply it to the
terms of the Navy Ė and I should know this, having been a
member of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol myself Ė but when
you break it down, tear away the layers of security, of
necessary sacrifice, of professionalism, that is exactly what
this precise situation is.
I guess the Commander doesnít see it like that Ė or maybe he
does, itís kind of hard to tell. The brisk handshake and brief
conversation he offered when I came aboard on Thunderbird Four
an hour or so ago didnít offer much personal information about
the guy himself, just the outward necessities of being a
Commander. I never took much time to dedicate myself to
character code reading but I canít help but wonderÖ is there
any sense of guilt beneath that obviously
toffee-hard-have-to-use-a-hammer-to-break-it exterior? (Great,
now on top of everything else, I have a craving for some of
me crazy, ruminating like this but at the same time, I canít
help myself, you know? Especially when thereís not much else
to do except sit and twiddle my thumbs while waiting to get to
New York. A bad excuse, I know Ė but I honestly donít think I
can stop thinking; thatís a paradox if ever I heard one.
think I used to tease Virgil and John for being such pensive
from where Iím standing, this Commander fellow seems to think
that the terror he put Virgil through was just an error of
judgement, a simple mistake in attempting to protect
civilisation as of course he is supposed to do. I guess I
should know, because thatís my job as well.
And I know
if Dad found out what I was thinking right now, Iíd get a
lecture on the very meaning of professionalism: ĎYou have
two lives to save, Gordon! What matters now is getting to
New York with your body and mind focused on the job in hand!
You canít think about anything else at such a critical time,
not when youíre a member of International Rescue who is on
And I know
that. But the problem is that I never even realised how hard
this would be until I met the Commander face-to-face. Then
things became a little bit more complicated than they already
were and still are. After all, has Dad ever been in
such close quarters with the would-be murderer of a
when I change into my uniform, I change in myself. Suddenly,
Iím not the fourth Tracy brother, the second-youngest, the
troublemaker, the boy who splashed in the bath with a
vengeance, the man who puts a private message in a bottle and
throws it into the sea once a year on the anniversary of my
Mumís death. Iím flipping over, Iím turning 180 degrees, Iím
taking off the glasses to transform into the red and blue
tights and capeÖ and yeah, I guess you get the idea.
Basically, I transform into another part of me.
same with my brothers; theyíre still the same people,
obviously and so am I but when weíre on a mission, we become
colleagues, not brothers. We become caught in a bubble
of the most peculiar nature, where potential danger lurks
around every corner, where particular strengths must be used
and certain weaknesses must be conquered. The closest we can
come to being brothers again is to tell each other to be
careful; you canít relax, you canít reminisce about childhood,
you canít laugh when faced with a dangerous situation. You can
only mask your personal feelings in order to save families
just like ours and thatís alright, because we have a job to do
after all and hey, weíre proud to do it. It feels a little
weird sometimes but itís okay.
it comes down to it, itís hard Ė for someone like me, anyway Ė
to shut off every single emotion because despite everything we
do, arenít we just five normal guys?
happens if one of our own ends up dying on duty? How are we
supposed to react then? Virgilís ordeal earlier this week has
shown me that itís not just the danger of the rescues
themselves that we have to fear; itís also the unique nature
of our organisation that attracts curiosity and attention,
attention we donít want but canít escape. Virgilís craft was
shot down because Ďit was unrecognisable as either a friend or
foeí Ė or so the Commander said when we conversed before Ė and
I immediately spotted the key problem with that sentence and
it stayed with me and I couldnít shake it off. I still canít.
It stood out in my mind like a full-beam headlight in the dark
night, like a green rabbit in a colony of brown, like a giant
turtle among a family of small tortoises.
I might not be the smartest guy around, but the last time I
checked, Virgil was a ďheĒ and most definitely not an
ďit.Ē I wonder if the Commander would still stand by what he
said if he could see for himself the state of Thunderbird Two
Ė and see Dadís horrified face Ė as it crash-landed on the
island, narrowly missing the sea.
now if the Commander was taking a moment to subtly apologise
and justify his actions at the same time Ė actually, I know he
was because Iíve seen his type before in WASP. But I never
really let the senior members with the firm tones and lack of
emotion get to me before. Iím curious as to whether this guy
even has a brother, or maybe even a sister, a family to call
maybe Iím just being dramatic. In fact, itís obvious that
thatís all Iím really being and I know that Virgil would be
furious with me for letting such an attitude get in the way of
where my attention should really be focused: saving a life.
This was, after all, his idea and I cringe as I consider the
look on his face if he knew what I was thinking. He hasnít
spoken much to me about his brush with death, but I saw it
with my own eyes. I saw Thunderbird Two burning. Tin-Tin, Dad,
Alan, Scott and I Ė we all experienced one feeling, that
question in our minds whether or not Virgil was going
to be okay.
feels terrible that Iím letting something like this affect me
when he was the one in the hot-seat. It makes me feelÖ
different. Separate. Unique, in a bad way.
Claustrophobia creeps into my system and it feels strange,
unnatural and very, very alarming. Iíve gone underwater in
Thunderbird 4 numerous times and I know how to handle small
spaces so now this feeling of panic is scaring me.
deal with it and I know I shouldnít have to in the first
place. Itís my own fault I feel like this because I shouldnít
have been thinking so deeply. Bearing this in mind, I turn
away and look out of the cabin window, out towards the sea,
watching the sun shine on the waters, taking quiet, calming
breaths. I stare longingly at the shimmering surface, wishing
it could be physically possible to either swim all the way to
New York in the cleansing water or else to get there alone in
Thunderbird Four Ė small, reliable, safe Ė rather than have to
stay in here.
too many reminders of what happened to Virgil on this vessel:
not just the Commander who himself gave the order to fire, but
his own colleagues who stood beside him and helped him decide
on elimination, the radar they used to track Virgilís innocent
progress and the missiles that protrude so threateningly from
their launchers, ready to shoot down the next unsuspecting
like Iíve wandered straight into the lionís den even before
Iíve reached the danger-zone. Thatís crazy.
itís all too much. My hands feel clammy, my legs ready to give
way, my unnaturally heavy mind ready to shut down as a
response to this mental anguish and in an attempt to keep
calm, I keep my eyes trained on the ocean.
itíll be alright, I tell myself. Iíll be out of here before I
know it. Soon Iíll back under the surface, in a place I know
well and Iíll get the job done and then Iíll be able to go
home to my family. And hey, I wonít be on my own; Scott will
be on the radio to help me out. Itíll be okay.
thought of being back in my good old reliable submarine
comforts me for a few seconds. But then I can hear words
inside my head Ė a language of rage that is silently loud Ė
and with a sinking heart (pun right there, look) I realise
that right now, Gordon Tracy, the International Rescue
Operative and Pilot of Thunderbird FourÖ heís not all there.
Something else thatís also me Ė Gordon, the brother Ė is
screaming inside, crying out with words I donít think I can
ignore, that Iím ashamed to admit I want to say.
just something you can shoot missiles at on the fifty-fifty
chance that he might be an enemy! Heís a living, breathing
human-being, full of life! Heís my BROTHER.
I have to
absoluteÖ no matter how you try to explain with that stupid
know-it-all voice of yours, that raised head like youíve done
nothing wrong Ė
I have got
to stop this right now.
Commander is trying to help, I reason firmly with my
inner-child. Heís trying to make up for what he did. He
welcomed me aboard, brought me to the cabin, acted like he was
supposed to (which is more than I can say for myself right
now), told me to be so kind as to abide by the rules of the
Sentinel for as long as Iím on it -
- and you
have the GALL to try to tell me what to do on the very vessel
that you used to try to murder my older brother! If you only
- how many
tears heíd wiped away, how many reassuring smiles heíd given,
how many pictures heíd painted, how many tunes he played Ė
would you have attacked him when heíd done nothing to you, you
I rest my
forehead against the window in mental agony, trying to resist
the urge to keel over and throw up as a response to the
pressure Iím under. But it makes me feel so weak at the same
time because Iíve never been like this before, never. I
want to save Ned Cook and his cameraman, sure, but I just
donít want to be here. I want to get to New York now,
solve the problem and then just go home. I want to go back and
sit by Virgilís bedside with Scott and Alan and John and
confess, to apologise for being like this and to have one of
those big deep conversations that all siblings have got to
have at some point or another.
make me a coward?
claustrophobia hits in fresh waves and I try my hardest not to
slide down the wall. My head is just aching from all this
thinking and I canít help but feel that the weight of a
hundred-and-one hard, stone-cold apple-pies have settled on my
shoulders. Being on this vessel really isnít ideal for a
variety of reasons: I feel tense from all the waiting, wishing
I could just be in New York right this minute, if not sooner.
Thereís also a certain chill in the air and it brings a cold
ache to my stomach thatís worsened by short bouts of sleep.
me, sir?í the Commanderís voice, brisk as ever, cuts into my
thoughts and I turn, slightly startled, to stare into his cold
eyes (Am I scowling at him? His pupils shift away for a second
before coming back to rest on mine).
still with us?í
I stare at
him, at his impassive, stony face and allow myself a few
seconds to think.
run at him, screaming all these things Ė all the things that
my inner-self is imploring me to say. I could beat him with my
fists, just to hurt, just to inflict as much physical pain as
possible, like when I was ten and facing up to school-bullies,
hat falling down, my hair ruffling, revealing myself as the
angry young boy whom even now I canít fully suppress.
Iíll promptly get myself chucked Ė perhaps quite literally Ė
off this vessel of doom and so Ned and Joe will be left to
their watery fate with no-one to save them because this is the
only way I can help, the only way that they can be
helped. Itís a cruel twist of fate but it all comes back to
the same thing and I just canít keep thinking like this over
and over again.
So I nod
back in response to the Commanderís question.
Yeah, I am.í
Commander gives a quick nod and turns away, seemingly unaware
of my inner-anguish. I close my eyes briefly, feeling an odd
combination of emotions Ė relief and triumph that I didnít
give in and just do it and yet a sense of disappointment.
After all, canít the Commander ask a few more questions other
than a brief enquiry about Virgil's welfare?
But I know
he canít because he has a job to do and I canít either because
at the end of the day, so do I.
ignore the hurt face of the boy in my mind and focus on the
controlled face of the man, me, whom now on which everyone and
everything is depending. And if I let myself goÖ I donít know
how much damage Iíll do: to myself, to the Commander and most
significantly, to Ned and Joe. Theyíre the important ones in
this equation and I canít let them down. After all, worrying
never got anyone anywhere and it certainly wonít help me, let
alone those Iím doing this for. Iíve got to get myself back
together, to be emotionally fit for my role in this rescue and
not waste my time sitting in corners plotting idiotic,
pointless attacks on senior members of the Navy Ė even if they
have hurt my brother.
I shrug my
shoulders and swallow hard in a physical attempt to pull
myself together. I wonít fail, I wonít let them down Ė I
swear. As if to confirm this to myself I glance up and offer a
tight smile to match that of the Commanderís as he takes
another look at me and then orders a colleague to bring me a
cup of coffee.
youíre talking my language,í I accept the offer of what could
just be the necessary olive-branch for the sake of everyone
involved because really, thereís nothing else I can do now
except to save the people who need to be saved. And if I let
these personal feelings overwhelm me, then thatís it for Ned
what else can I do now, except wait to commit to my own,
crucial role in the rescue-plan? Itís like Dad says and has
always said, to me, to Scott, to Virgil, to Alan and to John:
now, thatís all I need to save a life.