Chapter 24

Virgil was true to his word and kept John unconscious until long after he'd rebuilt his shoulder and set the broken bone at the top of his left arm. He gradually reduced the sedatives in his brother's system the next morning and by lunchtime John was showing signs of stirring.

John opened his eyes, blinked hard and then coughed softly. "Vir…"

Virgil jumped to his feet and threw the book he'd been reading onto the bed. He smiled at his brother, picked up a glass of water and helped John to take a sip. "Better?"

"Much," John nodded. "Thanks." He looked down at his well-strapped arm and gingerly wiggled his fingers. "Am I fixed?"

Virgil nodded. "You are. You'd done a good job messing it up in there but everything's back where it belongs now. You're going to be out of action for a while and I'm banning you from Five until I'm happy that your arm is properly knitted back together. I know the brace is going to be a pain but the humerus is a big, strong bone and the last thing you need is any sort of weakness in it."

John nodded gently and glanced around the room. "You seem to be on your lonesome in here. Where's everyone else?"

"Gordon was here," Virgil replied softly. "…not long before you woke up. He went to check whether Father needed any help. The others, Scott, Alan and Brains, that is, are evacuating an oil rig somewhere near Mexico. It's been hit by some sort of freak storm and is likely to sink before anyone else can get near it. The plan is to empty the rig, ferry the crew back to dry land and fly home." Virgil glanced at his watch. "They've only been out about fifty minutes so they'll be a while yet."

John nodded again and looked out of the window behind his brother. "What day is it? We came home in the dark and it looks about lunchtime-ish now. How much time have I lost?"

"Not much." Virgil held his watch out for John to see. "You came down last night. You passed out at some point and I kept you out while I put you back together. I haven't said anything to Alan but I opened, cleaned out and redressed the gashes on your face. What he'd done was fine but it wasn't as tidy as I'd've liked and I figured you'd rather not spoil your looks with the ugly great scars that his patch-job would have left."

John smiled. "You figured right and I thank you for that along with patching up my shoulder, my arm and hitting me with…whatever it is you've hit me with that's stopping anything hurting. Whatever it is, it's goooood."

Virgil grinned. "I made Alan a promise that I'd fix you and that I wouldn't let you wake up in pain. He was upset that you'd passed out while he was looking after you and he was loath to hand you over to Scott and myself until I promised we'd look after you. He didn't want to go out on the rescue at first for the same reason but then Gordon offered to go instead and it all got a bit weird." Virgil scratched his head and shrugged. "Alan decided that he'd changed his mind and did actually want to go. Father sent him on his way before he could change his mind again and Gordon ended up back down here with me. I know why Father keeps Gordon here but I really think he made the wrong call on this one. It's basically a collection and delivery mission, pretty much a milk run and something that Gords could have done with minimal chance of getting hurt. He'd have come away happy, healthy and feeling like a proper part of the team."

"Alan and myself had a similar conversation not that long ago," John told him. "…about how Father treats Gordon differently to the rest of us. It all got a bit emotional so it probably stuck in it, someone's coming."


Gordon bounded through the door and immediately noticed that John was awake. "Smashed up Spaceman," he cried. "Man, it's good to see you back in the land of the living. You gave us a right fright last night." Gordon pointed at the ceiling. "You're supposed to be safe up there. You know that, right?"

"I know." John reached out his uninjured arm and squeezed Gordon's hand. "Nothing can stop accidents though and that's all this was; a stupid accident."

Gordon shrugged and sat down on John's bed, roughly level with his knees. "Anyway, I came to tell you that it's all going okay in Mexico. Brains doesn't reckon the rig's as unstable as they're making out but we're still getting everyone off it, just in case. About half the crew are off so far and Scott reckons the rest'll be off in less than half an hour; oh, and he said to tell you that Alan'll be flying home." Gordon tapped his finger against his bottom lip. "Yeah, I think that was everything. Grandma's cooking pie for you, John. Pumpkin and apple, I think." Gordon chuckled. "As in A pumpkin pie and AN apple pie. Not a pumpkin and apple pie. That'd be…yuk."

John nodded his agreement to Gordon and glanced at Virgil who was staring at Gordon with an odd look on his face. John turned back to Gordon, smiled and shook his head. "You're a cruel man, Gordon Tracy. Very cruel."


The three brothers remained in the sick room together for another twenty minutes after which Gordon wandered back into the house to get an update on the rescue situation. Virgil helped John get out of bed, across the room and into the bathroom and then waited just outside the door in case John got into difficulties.

John stepped slowly out of the bathroom with a puzzled look on his face. "What happened to my leg?"

"Didn't I mention that?" Virgil asked. "There was a big sliver of crockery stuck in your thigh and your pant leg was pretty much soaked in blood when I changed you. You've got a couple of stitches in there to stop the bleeding so the bandage is only really there to keep everything clean and to stop you fiddling with it."

John let out a quiet chuff of laughter. "There's not much chance of that with only one working arm. That coffee really had it in for me."

"It certainly did," Virgil agreed. "But the only permanent damage it caused was to the mug which was holding it. You're a bit bruised and battered but you're up, on your feet and supporting your own weight. All in all, I'd say that's not bad."

John nodded. "…and I might even get to finish the last few chapters of my book. I've had the data for weeks, it just need collating, summarising and proofing then I can send it to the printers."

"Sounds good to me. Give yourself a couple of days to recuperate first though, eh?" Virgil motioned towards the door of the sick room. "Just to humour me, if nothing else?"


John insisted on moving back into his own room that evening so that his brothers would also sleep in their own beds. It was usual to find at least three of them sleeping in the sick room if one of them was laid up in there and John wanted to make sure they rested properly after the rescue.

He spent the next couple of days parked on the couch in the main lounge and had several long, drawn out and very silly conversations with Tin-Tin who was becoming increasingly bored and lonely in Kansas.

On the fourth day he managed to have a short talk with an emotional Kyrano who was also beginning to struggle with being away from the island and his adopted family. John was thoughtful and quiet when he closed down the call to Kyrano and he remained so until Gordon dragged him outside to sit by the pool.


International Rescue were called out a couple of days after John's conversation with Kyrano.

An electrical short had caused a fire in the new, state of the art, underground shopping mall in Rochester, Minneapolis. The mall's fire protection systems had confined the blaze to the lower five levels and most of the visitors had been evacuated but pockets of people had become trapped at various points around the site and their oxygen was fast running out.

Alan had chosen that morning to practice his climbing skills and was almost half way up the extinct volcano that made up the island when the call came through so Jeff sent Thunderbirds One and Two out, crewed by Scott, Virgil, Brains and Gordon. Alan grumbled loudly at not being chosen until John quietly asked him exactly how Virgil was supposed to stop, pick him off the mountain and still have enough time to rescue the people in the mall.

Alan admitted defeat at this and cut John off in order to concentrate on his climbing.


Jeff monitored the situation from his desk and smiled when John appeared beside him with a cup of coffee. "You're supposed to be resting."

John gave him a one armed shrug. "It's just coffee. It's not much but it's something I can do to be helpful."

"You're injured, John," Jeff replied softly. "You don't need to do anything but you can keep me company in here if you want."

John nodded and stepped around the desk to get a chair. Jeff shook his head as his stubborn son waved away his offer of help and dragged the chair across the floor one handed. He watched as John positioned the chair close behind the desk and put his hand out to support him as he sat down. "I know you're getting frustrated but it's only been a week, John. You need to give yourself a break, let your body heal; just…rest."

John looked sadly down at his arm. "I can't get comfortable. This…" he nodded at the shoulder brace. "…gets in the way so I can't lie down properly. I'm not sleeping well so I can't concentrate on what I'm doing, my book isn't getting written and I'm just…not being productive."

"That's exactly my point." Jeff shook his head again. "You don't need to be productive. You need to rest so your arm and shoulder can recover."

John gave another lop-sided shrug and settled gently against the back of the chair. "I know that, it's just…difficult. Everyone's buzzing around and doing things and I can't join in. Gordon's been sitting with me but it's not fair on him if I take up too much of his time." John sighed. "Don't mind me, I'm just feeling sorry for myself."

Jeff smiled sadly. "I understand. Now, let me run an idea past you while there's no-one else about."

Jeff explained that he had spoken to Kyrano at great length the night before and that the quietly spoken Malaysian had expressed his wish to return to the island. He didn't want to put the Tracy's out by having one of them fly to Kansas specifically to collect him and Tin-Tin but had no other way of getting back home due to the island not being on, or particularly near, any commercial flight path.

"You're going to suggest that Virgil meets them somewhere once he's finished in Rochester, aren't you?" John asked. "Have you told Alan?"

Jeff shook his head. "No and I'm not going to until everyone's on their way back here. I don't want him getting all excited only to be let down if something doesn't go to plan. I'll speak to Kyrano first so he can start packing and once everything's complete in Minneapolis I'll tell Virgil to head for the canyon. It'll mean that the jeep'll probably end up here but I'd imagine there's going to be a fair bit of toing and froing to the farm for the next couple of months so that might not be a bad thing."

'The canyon' was located just over half an hours' drive from the Tracy homestead on land that Jeff had purchased specifically because it contained natural caves and canyons suitable for hiding the ships. One of the caverns had been expanded to fit Thunderbird 2's huge bulk inside it, another smaller one had been cleared out for Thunderbird 1 and all the entrances were heavily disguised so that they couldn't be seen from either the ground or from above. They had proved useful on several occasions when the weather over Tracy Island had deteriorated to the point that landing would have been virtually impossible and the proximity to the farm meant that Scott could take Thunderbird 1 with him when he took a break in Kansas.

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