After-effects

Chapter 9

Alan ignored his watch when it chimed to let him know that lunch was being served and again for the ping that called him in for dinner. He stayed outside until after dark and remained in hiding until he was certain that even Scott had given up waiting for him and had gone to bed.

Quietly he slipped out of the cave where he had spent the greater part of the day and groaned softly as his legs complained about being in a cramped, stationary position for so long. He stretched his arms above his head, sighed loudly and then set off towards the house.

Alan skirted around the main building and slipped in through the side door nearest to the hangers, frowning when he realised that Tracy 2 was absent from its usual spot. "Gordon," he grumbled in a quiet but upset interpretation of Jeff's voice, "…is cosseted and overprotected just as much as yourself, Alan…just in a different way." Changing to his own voice and upping his volume slightly, Alan continued. "Well, HUH, what do you know, it's in so much of a different way that he's trusted to take MY girlfriend away in DAD's own private jet. I'm sorry, Scott, I know you don't like anyone touching your things but no matter what Dad says I'm going to be following them and I'm going to have to borrow your jet to do so."

Alan crossed the hangar and carefully clambered up into Scott's sleek, black jet. He started the engines, spun the plane towards the door and then punched a code into one of the cockpit control panels that would open the hangar door.

The door in front of Alan remained resolutely shut, despite him having entered the correct code into the panel. He punched the code again and then a third time when the door still refused to open. Alan slammed his hand against the control panel, frowned and then threw himself out of the pilot's seat, down through the plane and stomped across the hangar to the panel which held another set of door controls.

Alan found that he had no more luck with the hangar-based door controls than he did with the ones inside Scott's plane and he growled loudly before stamping out of the hangar and back towards the beach, leaving Scott's jet sitting in front of the closed door with its engine running.

~#~

Despite Jeff's earlier warning that Alan shouldn't try 'paddling his way across to Kansas', the young, impulsive Tracy strode across the beach to the boathouse but even before he reached the building he realised that he was going to fail to gain access to the boats. Virgil, who had locked the boathouse down earlier that morning, had done so in the simplest, most well tried and tested method of securing a building; he had chained and padlocked the door.

Alan frowned and walked around to the front of the boathouse until he drew level with the large double doors that opened into the ocean. The doors were tightly closed but Alan could see that they were both barred from the inside and were therefore immobile. He gave the side of the boathouse a vicious kick, let out a loud huff of annoyance and then kicked the boathouse again for good measure before turning and shaking his fist at the villa where his family were sleeping. "You can't do this to me," he hissed. "You can't keep me here against my will. It's not right and you won't win. I hate yo…"

Alan was momentarily distracted by the sight of a meteor streaking its way across the sky. He watched it quietly for a moment and by the time it disappeared from view he had a gentle smile on his face. "I know, Mom, I don't hate them really but they're pis…er…they're bugging me. Especially Dad. There's only one person in this family who truly understands me but he's not here, is he? I…Oh…why didn't I think of that before? Mom, you're brilliant, thank you; a million times, thank you. I know what I need to do now…how I can get away. Can…can you please watch over Tin-Tin for me while I'm gone? She's all alone in Kansas with only Kyrano for company and I don't suppose he's particularly fun to be around at the moment. Look after her for me, Mom. Please."

Alan sniffed loudly when the sky remained dark and meteor free. He scrubbed his eyes with the forefinger and thumb of his right hand and then set off purposefully back towards the hangars and the huge red bulk of Thunderbird 3.

~#~

Gordon had made good time back from Kansas but was looking forward to the end of his flight. The young man was tired and still somewhat confused after having left the Kyranos at the Tracy farm earlier that day. It had been clear to the aquanaut that Tin-Tin wanted to be anywhere other than the farm and Kyrano had been in a particularly tight-lipped mood, only speaking when spoken to and very much not himself.

Gordon sighed loudly, stretched his arms out in front of himself and wriggled until his back popped. "I sure hope Dad doesn't have too much planned for tomorrow. I know you're comfortable, T2, but you're not a patch on TB2 or even my little Four. I'm going to be lucky if I can move in the morning and we've just left Tin-Tin waaay behind us so I'm going to have to get Virg to help get me up which means he'll be fussing for the rest of the day." Gordon sighed again and then, without warning, his face was split by a large yawn. "Oh well, bed is calling so let's get home. Tracy Island approaching. Nothing moving at this time of night. Beginning final descent."

The aquanaut adjusted the flaps in preparation for landing when the sky exploded into an orange fireball directly in front of Tracy 2. "Whoa," he yelped as the jet shook violently. "Not good. Not good."

The nosecone of Thunderbird 3 emerged from the fireball as Gordon fought for control of the jet. The rest of the rocket followed, belching exhaust gasses as it accelerated away from the Roundhouse and Gordon quickly realised that he was going to be unable to regain control of Tracy 2 in time to make a conventional landing.

Temporarily blinded by the glare of the fire, Gordon found himself jarred and shaken as he fought to keep Tracy 2 both in the air and in an upright position. He was relieved when a gap in the fireball allowed him to catch a sudden glimpse of sand close below him and he cut all power to the jet's engines, dropped the plane onto the beach and then sat, panting in the pilot's seat while he let the last of Thunderbird 3's exhaust gasses diffuse into the atmosphere.

"Whoa," he gasped. "That was close. You'd think someone could have warned us, eh girl?" Gordon leaned forwards and peered out of the front window. "You know, I think you're going to have to stay here for now and my name's going to be mud in the morning when Dad sees you. Now, are you going to open up nicely for me or am I dropping the emergency ramp?"

Gordon managed to open the main door of the jet but couldn't persuade the steps to unfurl so ended up sliding uncomfortably down to the floor using the inflatable emergency ramp. He clambered to his feet, brushed the sand from his clothes and turned to pat the jet. "Sorry, girl," he murmured. "…and thanks for staying mostly intact. Virg'll get you shifted and sorted out in the morning…just like he's going to do with me."

He patted the plane again and then sighed and turned to head towards the villa.

~#~

Gordon had been expecting a hive of activity due to the launch of Thunderbird 3 but he quickly discovered that he was equivalently locked out of a house which was shrouded in darkness. He frowned and tapped his watch against the panel beside the door to unlock it and then wandered through the villa and into the corridor that held the bedrooms.

The aquanaut paused in front of his door, unsure of whether he should disturb his father, one of his brothers or whether he should just go to bed. He leant against the doorframe and stretched his back while he pondered what to do but then jumped when his phone sounded loudly in the pocket of his pants.

He scrambled to pull the phone from his pocket at the same time as opening the door to his room. Managing to do both, he quickly stepped through the door and then answered the call with a quiet "Hello."

"Gordon?" John's voice sounded tinny through the speaker of Gordon's cell phone. "Is that you?"

Gordon pulled the phone away from his ear and peered at the screen before replying. "John? Where are you? What's going on?"

"You know where I am," John chuckled softly. "…and I was hoping you could tell me what was going on."

Gordon peered at the phone again and frowned. "I don't know what's going on. Isn't that your job? To know everything about…well…everything? And, for that matter, why did you call my cell rather than my watch?"

John chuckled again. "Well thank you for that but, no, I don't know everything as you so kindly put it and today I seem to have been well and truly left out of the loop. I haven't spoken to anyone all day; no-one's even thought to call me for a chat and everyone, other than yourself and Alan, is in bed. I was as well before I woke up to find that Alan and Thunderbird 3 were on their way up here, I wasn't warned that they were coming and I still don't know why they are. No-one's told me why you've been to Kansas or why you've left Tin-Tin and Kyrano there and, quite frankly, Gordon, I'm more than a little pissed off."

It was Gordon's turn to chuckle but he immediately felt bad when John huffed loudly. "I'm sorry, Johnny," he murmured. "I wasn't laughing at you, it's just not like you to get riled like this. I honestly can't tell you what's going on because I don't know. All I can tell you is that it's been a weird day since first thing this morning, culminating in nearly being barbequed by Thunderbird 3 and having to ditch dad's plane on the beach. I'm tired, I'm sore and I really want to go to bed." He stopped and sighed. "…you're not going to let me go to bed, are you?"

John sighed. "I'm sorry, Gordy, but we need to know what's going on. Alan doesn't seem to be speaking to me so I can't get anything out of him and knowing as little as we do, I don't think it's a good idea to ask Father. Do you?"

Gordon shook his head and then realised that John couldn't see him. "No," he whispered. "I don't think that'd be a good idea. Especially as I'd have to admit to trashing his plane. I'd rather get at least a little sleep before I have to tackle that one."

"What happened to the jet?" John asked quietly. "…that you could get it onto the island but not onto the runway? It's got VTOL jets, Gords, I don't get it."

"I told you before," Gordon grumbled. "…that I had a close encounter with Thunderbird 3. T2 didn't much appreciate it and I had to stick her in the sand before she flipped over. I don't think she's badly damaged but I couldn't get the steps to come down and the undercarriage will definitely need some work before she can be used again."

John whistled. "So you were still out when Alan left and you didn't give him clearance to leave?"

"No," Gordon hissed. "I didn't give him clearance to leave and when I find out who did I'm going to kick their butt straight into next week. There's no way he should have been cleared to fly when I was coming in for a landing 'cos it's not like I was invisible or unexpected. T2's transmitter was obviously working for at least part of the day or you wouldn't have known that I'd been to Kansas and…Wait a minute, didn't you say that everyone else is in bed? If that's true then who gave him clearance? Surely he wouldn't have cleared himself?"

"I have a horrible feeling that he may have done," John replied softly. "…or that he didn't clear anything, at all and just lifted off for…whatever reason in which case I think he'll be lucky if Father doesn't kick his butt right out of International Rescue and sometime into next year, let alone you kicking it into next week. Look, Gords, Thunderbird 3 will be here soon and I think you need to get at least Scott up to speed before she gets here. I…we…I get the impression that this is more than just the two of us should be dealing with…at least without some sort of help."

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