Short piece, snippet of Scott's thoughts from "The Uninvited."

I've never been so scared in my entire life. No harrowing rescue, no incident during my time in the Air Force, had ever left me feeling such gut churning, life-before-my-eyes terrified. Coming out of nowhere as it--or rather, they--did only added to the panic.

Why did they shoot me down? What did I do that made them react with violence? As far as I could tell, nothing at all. Nothing except maybe fly too close to something they wanted to keep hidden and secret.

This whole incident is surreal. How can it be happening? How could I have been shot down?

A better question might be, now that I'm trapped in the middle of a trackless, lifeless desert in a downed rocket ship with a busted radio, how can I possibly get home?

Thunderbird Five could pinpoint a flying gnat with pinpoint accuracy, and base certainly had a fix on my position before I lost radio contact. They'll find me, I didn't doubt that for a single instant.

The thing of it is, I've never been one to sit back and wait, hoping someone else will do the job for me. I am the one in trouble. Therefore, I am the one to get myself out of it. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen this time, but I can't seem to stop myself from trying.

If only my head didn't hurt so much, and my jaw isn't too happy, either. I took a hard knock against the vertical control stick when my 'bird hit the ground. I might be able to think of something if only the cobwebs would clear.

I stared out over the desert. Waves of dry, sandy heat struck my face in angry hot pulses even in the shade of TB1's interior. I yearned for the cool, moist, salt breezes that flowed across the beaches of my family's island home. A tall, cold glass of Grandma's hand-squeezed lemonade wouldn't be unwelcome, either.

I'd even put up with Gordon and his water gun ambushes for a dip in the pool.

"Not a sign of anything. What a predicament. Five thousand miles from base and the radio's dead." Pain. "Ow. That's some crack I got." Dizzy. "I think I'm gonna ... I think I'm going-"

Some people say there is no Providential Being out there somewhere, no benevolent deity who looks over humanity. They better not say it to me, because I can prove otherwise.

Those two explorers came along just in time. With thousands of square miles of nothing but sand all around, they happen to spot one lone ship burrowed into the side of a sand dune. They have a first aid kit, water, and hearts kind enough to stop and help a stranger in distress.

Most important of all, they have a radio.

John, you better be listening in or we'll have words when next I see you.

Still dizzy. Can' seem to shake it. Have to rely on the bearded stranger--I think his name was Wilson?--to get me out of the ship and onto solid ground.

Solid ground ... funny thing about those two words. The world wants to tilt at crazy, unnatural angles. My legs won't hold my weight. My head is ten times the size it should be and throws me off-balance. There's nothing 'solid' about the ground under my feet at this moment.

What if this is permanent? I shiver with a cold that does nothing to alleviate the sweltering 110-degree-plus heat of the desert shade. I could never go on rescues, couldn't command my brothers in the field, could never fly again.

God, no.

The other guy, the round-faced one--Lindsey?--helps me to lie down on a blanket on the shaded side of the Thunderbird One. That might not be the smartest move. The ship might roll due to the unstable and shifting sand.

After a brief consideration of the facts, I relaxed. The X-shaped extensions of the rocket motors and the horizontal stabilizer fins would act like a kickstand and keep the ship in its current position. The ship might settle deeper into the sand but it wouldn't roll.

As I lay there, enduring Lindsey's well meaning but rather ham-handed attempts at tending my head wound, I hear Wilson over by their vehicle, talking to John on the radio. At least that's one less worry. My family knows I'm safe.

Security. There was something I needed to do, but what? Damn this headache, I just can't think clearly. Something about ... the hatch? That's it. I should close the hatch, keep Wilson and Lindsey from seeing into the cockpit.

Laying down had been easy--getting up again is going to be a challenge. I try, but Wilson holds me in place with a single hand to my shoulder. I keep trying until darkness settles around my thoughts one more time.

Other than brief snatches of overheard whispers, my next clear recollection is hearing the approaching thrum of Thunderbird Two's mighty rocket motors.

I've seen Virgil set that green monster down on a dime. He makes Thunderbird Two do things that should be impossible for such a cumbersome, bulky vehicle. He makes it look so easy. It's not. I've flown Thunderbird Two. Compared to Thunderbird 1, it's a bucking, pitching, bad-tempered bear that fights me every inch of the way.

Thunderbird Two's engines idle down and fall silent. Particles of golden sand glisten in the air, blasted high by the power of the freighter ship's landing retros. Only then does my stomach unclench. I'm not alone anymore. Yes, two strangers stopped and helped me in my time of need, but somehow, sight of that mighty Thunderbird machine, and the succor it represents, means more to me than anything in the world.

Is this how other disaster victims feel? Even with people and equipment all around, the sight of International Rescue arriving on the scene gives an uplift of hope? A belief that the worst will soon be over?

Is that how they think of me? Of us?

If I live to be a hundred, I will never go on another rescue without remembering that awesome upswell of hope. And I'll never take my family or our mission for granted, ever again.

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