Typically, hurricanes were supposed to reach 140mph during a hurricane. The large swirling mass of white clouds that were battering the earth below him had to be going faster than that. Yet, according to all the information the computers were telling him, the hurricane was still classified as a Category 4. Yeah, right. To be able to literally lift an aeroplane into the air – especially considering the size of the 777 – no, Scott figured the computers had to be lying to him.
Plus there was the added factor that he’d spent the last five hours learning a lot more about hurricanes than he cared to think about, due to being stuck on a satellite orbiting the earth: a satellite which just had to rely on a certain red rocket to fetch him, and take him back down to earth.
The same rocket which also had to bring him his supplies each month, come to think of it. He was almost out of Pepsi which was very depressing. So now he was stuck god knows how many miles above the planet, waiting. The same thing he’d been doing for the last twenty-four hours. Or twenty-four hours, thirty-one minutes and two point three seconds to be exact. If you wanted to be precise.
He most definitely hadn’t been counting. Okay, that was a lie. But there were only so many facts about hurricanes you could learn, and only so much time you could spend in Thunderbird 5’s gym before you began to get really bored. Which sort of brought him back to researching hurricanes again.
And back to the entire annoying problem of the video-links not working properly. Thank you hurricane for not allowing me to talk to my brothers: so thoughtful of you.
He eyed the clouds below with a glare, and tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair again. The hurricane didn’t move, not much to his surprise.
“Okay,” He sighed, swinging round in the chair and tapping on the nearest holograph, showing a swirling wind pattern. “Let’s continue learning. The eye of a hurricane is formed from the wind being deflected by the…”
“Oh that was cool! Did you see the way the palm tree went flying? And check out that wave – it just wrecked the decking at the bottom of the steps…”
Virgil drew a pillow over his head and groaned dramatically. “Alan, please, god, just shut up.”
There was a short pause before more sniggering started up. “Hey, what do you would happen if I opened the entrance to ‘2’s hanger in this?”
“I would slowly and painfully kill you, before resurrecting you to kill you again.”
“Fair enough.” Alan deserted the glass doors, carefully reinforced since Thunderbird 1’s engines had wrecked them on the first test flights a few years before. That was the one good thing – at least the villa was relatively secure as long as no one stepped outside.
“I am bored. I’ve gone through all the video games, attempted to skateboard inside and been told off by Dad for doing that, successfully wrecked the kitchen whilst trying to make something, and almost poisoned Gordon’s fish. So yeah, not much else for me to do.”
“You haven’t broken Johnny’s telescope yet then?”
Alan brightened at that suggestion and Virgil drew the pillow over his head again. That had not been the best suggestion of the century, especially as his youngest brother didn’t appear to understand the meaning of sarcasm.
Leaping to his feet, Alan disappeared out the door, armed with what looked suspiciously like a water gun. Virgil didn’t even want to think about the torture he’d inevitably just booked his book-loving brother in for. Someone was going to be in the dog-house later at any rate.
“You know, most people think living on a tropical island is fantastic. Oh, how lucky are you? But no. You have not been stuck indoors during a hurricane. By the way, where’s Allie going with that water gun? John’s going paranoid.”
Gordon collapsed on the sofa, kicking off his trainer and glaring in frustration at the storm outside.
Virgil removed the pillow. “Alan’s in destructive mode, I accidentally told him to wreck John’s stuff instead of mine.” Gordon sniggered. “Hey, don’t judge, it was self defence!”
“Will Johnny see it that way? I don’t know, I mean…would I see it that way? Probably not. And…no, you’re a dead man Virg. Have you seen what John did to the WiFi box last time it stopped working?”
Virgil reached for the pillow again, and stopped, as water dripped onto his arm. “Gordy, why the hell are you wet?”
“Um…I may have opened a window…or gone outside… just once, okay? Chill.”
Virgil regarded him in a silence that either meant he was worried, or really, really mad. Gordon figured it was probably the latter. Right, so he needed to run off and hide somewhere. Maybe Thunderbird 4’s pod? Nah, too obvious.
“When’s the next weather report?”
“Whenever the signal to the TV comes back on.”
“Dude, its 2060, aren’t we meant to be able to get a signal even with a hurricane above us?”
Virgil didn’t bother replying, about to finally throw his pillow back onto the chair on the opposite of the lounge, when the rescue siren went off, seeming much louder than usual and high pitched as it echoed around the island. He groaned, and shoved the pillow back over his head to block out the sound before it dawned on him what he was hearing.
“Finally! Something exciting to do!” Gordon grinned, leaping up from the sofa, and activating the video link. “Hey Scotty.”
Alan came skidding into the room, the soles of his trainers wet from where he’d also attempted to go outside, admitting defeat a few seconds later. John followed him, nose in a book, which no-one was particularly surprised about.
“So, what’s the rescue? Will the best Thunderbird be needed?”
“’4 always is.”
“Okay, one, that’s a total lie, you only need ‘4 on like 48% of rescues and two, I was talking about ‘3. Obviously.”
Gordon glared at his younger brother, and threw the pillow at him. Alan ducked, smirking at him, still all but bouncing as he waited for more information.
John looked up from his book, shoved Alan into a chair and gave him a pointed look. “Sit. Good dog.”
“Guys, are you going to listen or not?” Scott was attempting to hide his grin, disappearing from view for a moment as he brought the holographic of the rescue scene towards the video link.
“Well?” Virgil was genuinely paying attention, having forgotten that John was probably annoyed him at that moment, meaning his life was in danger.
“There’s a ship in trouble off the coast of Bermuda. They’ve still got the tail-end of the hurricane that’s battering Tracy Island right now, and it’s caused the supply ship to capsize. There’s a crew of about fifteen on board, fourteen of which have already been rescued by helicopter. The fifteenth is still trapped in the control room, and something’s jamming the door mechanisms. The conditions are too bad for the helicopter crew to risk another rescue attempt, so Thunderbird 4’s the only craft with the capabilities of getting that guy out of there. You’ve got about a half-an-hour time window when you get there, flying at max speed.”
“Got it.” Virgil agreed. “John, drop the book and I’ll meet you and Gordon in ‘2.”
“What about me?” Alan asked, glancing hopefully at his older brother.
Scott gave him an apologetic smile. “Sorry Al, but ‘1 won’t get through those winds, and there’s not much you could do when you got there.”
Gordon grinned. “Well, what was that you were saying about ‘4 only be needed for 45% of the rescues?”
“I said 48%,” Alan replied sulkily, slouched on the sofa with his arms crossed looking miserable.
“Hey, tell you what, next rescue we get called out on, you can co-pilot ‘2 and we’ll leave John behind?” Virgil suggested, wincing as said brother glared at him from the other side of the room.
“Whatever,” the blond teenager muttered.
“Okay, suit yourself, but we have to go. See you when we get back.”
Gordon bounded over to the hidden entrance to the lifts down to the hanger, and let out a dramatic sigh to see John carefully placing his book on the side. “Come on Johnny!” He whined and his older brother rolled his eyes.
“Jeez, I’m coming, keep your hair on.”
Virgil didn’t look up as they entered the cabin, instead checking the latest weather reports from Thunderbird 5, waiting for the holographic display to flicker into place. The wind speeds were not looking at all promising, if the small flashing red light next to the weather radar icon was anything to go by.
"Thunderbird 4's secure, right?" He asked, tapping the red light and swiping the holographs to one side of the display screen.
Gordon nodded, half considering going to double check his sub given the apparent danger. "You got it." He frowned. "You didn't think I would leave her unsecured when you're gonna get your evil hands on her?"
"Whatever. Say John, can you chuck him out at some point?" Virgil asked, still distracted, and not in the mood for dealing with over-excited younger brothers.
"Sorry Virg, but I'd probably be accused of murder."
"Good point." Virgil pretended to think of another way of getting rid of his younger brother and Gordon flopped down in a seat.
"Hurry up!" He moaned, picking at a loose thread of the co-pilot’s chair, and jumping slightly as new readouts about the rescue scene arrived on the screen of his watch, illuminating the cabin before the lights kicked in.
Virgil snapped into serious mode. "Right guys, strap yourselves in. This is gonna be a bumpy ride."
“Yeah, no kidding.” Gordon glanced over at John, who was seemingly relaxing, his legs stretched out in front of him as he swiped down on his tablet. “Gordon, this stuff is of more use to you, it’s just more info about the layout of the ship and the crew’s swimming abilities.”
Gordon tapped his watch. “Beam it across then.”
The hanger doors slowly withdrew, revealing dark clouds ominously gathering on the horizon, signalling more rain to come. As if the sea surrounding the island wasn’t already high enough – the south and north beaches were currently underwater, and the waves were already rising up the cliff path higher than was comforting.
“Okay then, get ready for the roller-coaster.” Virgil called back from the controls.
Gordon grimaced. “You really had to say that?” He muttered, remembering the last roller-coaster he’d been on. Needless to say, that had not been an enjoyable experience, made even less so by the fact John and Alan had suddenly turned into a pair of adrenaline junkies, loving every second whilst the water loving Tracy had been clinging to safety rail in a death grip. He’d only gone on the damn thing in the first place to attempt to prove he wasn’t scared. Which, hey, you know, he most definitely had been – terrified in fact - but he’d been damn sure he hadn’t been about to show it.
“Huh?” He glanced across at John who was watching him in concern, the tablet finally safely stored in one of the lockers.
“I asked if you were okay.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.”
“Really? Because it looks like you’re clinging onto the seat like it’s your last lifeline.”
Gordon blinked, glancing down at his hands and realising he was clutching the edge of chair in a white-knuckle grip. “Oh, um... just reflexes.”
John eyed him suspiciously but understood him well enough not to ask anymore questions. Probably a good thing. Freaking out in Thunderbird 2 in the middle of a hurricane wouldn’t bode well for anyone. The annoying thing was that he didn’t even remember why he was scared of roller-coasters. He liked heights well enough.
“Oh shit.” Virgil muttered, leaning forwards to one of the red holographs, glaring at the readouts from the engines, and attempting to reboot some of the systems that had starting flashing red, switching off the alarm that had started, alerting him to the emergency readout.
Ignoring the way the Thunderbird was being buffeted by the wind, Gordon leapt out of his seat, and crossed to the controls. “What’s up?”
“I’m using way too much power on that engine part that needs replacing. It’s going to burn itself out unless I cut down but if I turn down the throttle too much then we’ll end up falling out of the sky. So, yeah, not great. And to top it all, I’m currently flying blind.”
“But it’ll be okay, right?” Gordon asked, finally sitting down in the co-pilot seat as another gust of wind sent the aircraft shaking to one side and casting the red alarm a glare. Virgil didn’t reply, instead frowning as the readouts still increased into the red to scarlet zone.
“Try the radio again. There was too much interference a moment ago, but you might get through now.”
“Thunderbird 5 to Thunderbird 2.”
John grinned, leaving his seat and joining them up front. “Talk of the devil.”
“How are you reading me?” There was another crackle of static across the radio frequency and then the video link went completely dead, with just the audio remaining.
“Scott? Yeah, I’m reading you on about Strength Two.” There was another crackle of static and then lightening flashed right in front of them, lighting up the cockpit. For a split second, it was impossible to tell if it had hit the Thunderbird or had just missed them.
John was cursing, still covering his eyes. Gordon shoved him down behind the seat, out of the way of the flashing red lights.
“That was close.” Virgil whispered, eyeing the new alarm that had started. “Oh you have got to be kidding me.”
“We just lost one of the backup systems. If we lose the weather radar now then we’re officially screwed.” Virgil flicked the alarms off again, and attempted to glance over his shoulder and watch the sky ahead at the same time. “How’s Johnny?”
There was a groan from behind and Gordon exchanged a look with his brother, beginning to feel slightly concerned, as he turned around and joined his blond haired sibling.
“You okay?” John blinked, trying to clear his blurred vision.
“I think so. That…hurt. A lot. You know what, I think I’m gonna give up on getting blinded by lightening and then thrown to the ground.”
Gordon winced. Yep, he could sympathise with that a lot. But still, he couldn’t resist a bit of brotherly teasing. “Ah, don’t be a wimp.”
John sat up, glaring at him as his eyesight began to return fully. “You do like to live dangerously don’t you?” He muttered sarcastically.
“Of course Lord Tracy,” Gordon replied, sniggering as he ducked the playful punch thrown his way. John sat back, and watched in amusement as his younger brother pretended to bow. “That’s right, respect your elder’s young one.”
“You are so, insanely, weird.” Gordon told him helpfully.
“You planning to get up or are you just going to spend your entire time chillaxing on the floor?”
John glared at him. “Oh shut up.” He retorted, scrambling to his feet, limping slightly due to landing on his ankle when he’d fallen on the floor and climbing back into his seat. Gordon pretended to be checking the tablet, instead secretly double checking his brother was okay before re-joining Virgil up front.
“Oh jeez,” he muttered under his breath, feeling sick as the wind attacked them again.
Virgil shot him a worried glance. “You alright?”“Just remembered why I hate roller-coasters again.”
Thunderbird 4's windows were pounded with rain as the pod door edged open. Gordon felt a thrill of excitement at the sight of the furious waves that were crashing against the sides of the green pod.
"Thunderbird 4 to Thunderbird 2, about to launch." He reported, adjusting the radio frequency to cope with the stormy weather above them. Despite the hurricane being behind them, above Tracy Island, the current area of ocean was being pounded with some sort of sea storm, probably not helped by the tail end of the hurricane winds.
"FAB Thunderbird 4," Virgil confirmed, his voice magnified through the radio. Gordon edged the yellow sub forwards, a quick glance up out of the windows showing Thunderbird 2 hovering above the ocean above him. The green aircraft was being buffeted around and Gordon felt relieved that they hadn't brought Thunderbird 1. The smaller craft wouldn't have been able to cope with the weather, despite Alan’s protests otherwise.
"Thunderbird 5 to Thunderbird 4. I'm picking up on a problem with your electrics Gordon."
"Really?" He frowned, leaning forwards to double check the control panel. There was a soft amber glow illuminating the cabin from one of the controls but he didn't think it was too big a fault to stop him from continuing. "It should be okay."
"Don't take any risks though," Scott warned him, the video link flickering slightly. Gordon sighed in exasperation. Even in Thunderbird 4 he was still being monitored by over protective older brothers.
"I won't," he told Scott before cutting transmission so he could concentrate on diving. The Thunderbird descended into the icy depths and unusually there seemed to be no sign of life. Circling the area that the boat was meant to be in, he double checked the scanners before realising that nothing was registering apart from Thunderbird 2.
"Hey Virgil," he called into the radio. "Can you back off a bit? I think you're disrupting the scanners."
"Sure, but that's never happened before." The pilot sounded confused and with growing concern as none of his instruments seemed to be giving correct readings Gordon had to agree with him, especially given the small collection of amber fault holographs that were gathering in the left side of the screen.
"No, but I've got a slight problem with one of electrics."
"Oh, okay.” Virgil still didn’t sound totally convinced, John agreeing with him in the background as he questioned the decision. “Backing off."
"FAB." Illuminating the murky waters ahead of him with the powerful lights of his sub, Gordon leaned forwards in his seat, frustrated that still nothing was picking up on his scanners. Something crashed against the side, sending Thunderbird 4 spiralling sideways like a crab and inside, taken totally by surprise, Gordon bashed his head on the windows. Blinking, he caught sight of what had caused his submarine to suddenly spin so drastically. Outside, a long ship like structure was drifting and the powerful currents had dragged it down under the surface slightly. It was spinning slowly, creating a powerful whirlpool that threatened to overpower ‘4.
“What the hell?” He muttered. “Thunderbird 5, you there?”
“Yes. You have eyes on the prize yet?”
Gordon winced as he watched the structure in front of him slowly twisting and turning in the swirling waters. It was getting darker despite his attempts to light the water in front of him. “You could say that.”
“What’s wrong?” Typical Scott, instantly able to tell something wasn’t going according to plan even when he wasn’t on the planet.
“I thought you said the ship was in difficulty, not freaking sunk.”
Scott had the decency to look a bit surprised himself. “Uh, well, um… hold on a sec.” There was a small pause, and then a crash. Gordon gave the video link a confused look. It sounded less like his older brother was trying to find more info and more like he was having a fight with a half asleep kangaroo.
“Thunderbird 5, I don’t know what the hell you’re playing at, but I need to save these guys and get back to Thunderbird 2 before Virgil starts reaching critical problems with those engines.”
Scott re-appeared. “Gordy, relax. I’m trying to get the new info across to your scanners along with the updated situation.”
“Just tell me,” He snapped, feeling slightly guilty, but unable to help himself. Yes, he was stressed out. But when he knew Virgil was having serious problems in getting them out to the rescue site, let alone back again – well, then he figured Scott couldn’t blame him.
“S&R helicopters reported the ship only going under about five minutes ago. If you hurry, then you could get him out before the control room completely floods.”
“Fine. I’m can’t get close in ‘4 with the conditions like this – the current has decided to turn against me.” Gordon narrowed his eyes at the sea water outside. Damn you Neptune. “I’m going out myself. I can use the laser cutters and then some of the grapple ropes to ‘4 from the debris to clear it, before using EVAC. Can Virg pick him up on the surface?”
“Not sure. How long until you’re sending him up?”
“Five minutes, max. You cool with that? Scott, I’m going to need updates on the ship’s sinking progress all the time. If it gets too deep, then removing that debris might end up being more dangerous that perhaps getting the control room free and sending that to the surface, like we did with that Ned Tedford guy.”
“Four minutes Gordy, make it count. John’s trying to cross over some of the systems to get some of my controls back, but it’s not going to last forever. Four minutes.”
Gordon shrugged at the video link. “Good job I’m only going to need three point five then.”
Virgil gave a dramatic sigh, and switched off his comms link. Gordon glanced at Scott.
“Why’s he annoyed at me now?”
“God knows. But hurry up.”
With the water-proof layering on his suit having malfunctioned, he was dripping when he finally made it back onto Thunderbird 4 around three or four minutes later, sending the final crewmen up in the EVAC pod to the waiting Thunderbird 2.
Grabbing a towel from the back of the sub where he’d left one before they’d set out, just in case, he wrapped it round his shoulders, shivering slightly. He hadn’t remembered it being so cold before, but a small alert told him that the heating had malfunctioned. Flashing the search-lights over its hull of the ship that was rapidly disappearing down into the inky darkness of the ocean below, he felt a sense of satisfaction that everyone had survived.
"Thunderbird 2, confirming that I have completed the mission, and am heading back to Pod 4 now."There was no reply and knowing instantly that there was something wrong, Gordon turned his full attention to the radio link, the first real concerns kicking in.
"Thunderbird 2? Come in, please." The silence was unnerving and he tried a different tactic. "Thunderbird 5, are you receiving me?"There was still no reply from both craft and telling himself not to panic Gordon put it down to the electric fault. The systems were shutting down without him doing anything, and he started the journey to the surface a bit faster than was technically advisable. He was aware that there was something seriously wrong but he hadn’t truly started to panic until warning sirens wailed through the craft, red lights flashed urgently and then everything went pitch black as the Thunderbird spiralled out of control, descending towards the depths.
“Shit,” He hissed, slamming his hand down on any control he could get his hands on, relying on his instincts to try and pull his sub back from the darkness that was slowly overwhelming him. His Thunderbird was failing around him and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
“Thunderbird 5, come in!”Still fighting to gain back any control he could, he was caught unaware when a loud, scarlet flashing light appeared in front of him, along with a wailing siren, before something loud exploded behind him and he was sent flying forwards. Everything went dark.