both created by Gerry Anderson MBE
(c) Carlton International Media
Los Angeles, California.
A sprawling mass of buildings and people caught between an ocean and a desert. A sprawling mass, that had no idea of what was to come this day.
The newsstand was on a side street, just a few yards from the main road, the super-highway that linked LA with San Francisco and Oakland. This massive six-lane-either-way structure was busy, yet the noise hardly seemed to get through to this side street. The newsstand was almost in silence.
Its owner was sitting, minding his own business, enjoying the quiet and solitude. It was after all only 6.30am.
The solitude was suddenly shattered as a man slammed down a dollar note on the desk.
"Do you zell Vestfalya Tribune?"
"Yes," the owner said, shaken from his solitude. He leaned over to a small box at the bottom of the stand and picked up a copy. Like so many newspaper vendors in the States, in addition to their own papers, they also made a point of providing copies, no more than two days old, of the main European papers, of which the Tribune was one of them.
"70 cents," the man said.
"Keep ze change," came the reply. The man promptly turned and walked away. Not ten yards from the newsstand, he stopped and looked at the top of the paper.
"Ze day hass come," as he glanced down and smiled. The date read:
THURSDAY AUGUST 9TH 2029
Herbert Vimmer smiled. "Yes, ze day hass indeed come!".
The Shuttletram was packed with Thursday commuters heading into the main business centre of the city. People from Santa Barbara, and nearby Pasadena were crammed into the huge double decked rail car. Vimmer sat at the rear, sure in the knowledge that if the quake struck the car would be the best possible protection for him.
He glanced at his watch; it was 7.35am, two minutes to go.
Up ahead the trams from other outlying districts could be seen coming together as their track systems converged. Vimmer surmised that there would be a fair amount of panic once the first tremors could be felt. It would give him ample chance to get away from the area and make for the hills, his intention once the quake started.
He glanced at his watch again; it was 7.36am, one minute to go.
The tram came to a halt, a number of people got off. It took a moment or two, despite the fact there were four entrance doors. No one got on.
He glanced at his watch a third time, it was 7.37.
Suddenly, he felt the whole ground shake, all those around him looked at each other, and began to make for the exits. The tram came to a sudden and violent halt and began to tilt on its side, the ground underneath was crumbling. Vimmer glanced down from his seat to what he saw. Coming toward him at speed was the biggest crevasse in the ground he could have ever imagined. All around him there were people screaming and yelling. Confusion and panic reigned, and Vimmer realised he had to get out quickly or the tram would disappear down this crevasse and take him with it.
There was a problem.
The doors had jammed, and the people were struggling to get out; two, three, four men tried to prise them apart. Finally they came open and the people spilled out. At this point Vimmer made for the same door, but would not get there.
Just as he got up from his seat, he felt the car tilt back. He was thrown up against the rear seat that he'd been sitting on. Slightly dazed he glanced over his left shoulder and out of the window saw the crevasse now wide open. The people who had got off the tram saw that he, together with some four other people in the upstairs section, were still onboard, but they were unable to do anything, save look on in utter helplessness. The ground they were on was crumbling all around them, and they simply had to get away. Back in the car, the fissure that had opened up underneath it was now wide enough to swallow it, and the last they saw of the man in the rear was of him trying desperately to clamber to the exit they had all got out from.
Clambering in vain.
In the car, Vimmer saw the blackness envelop the whole tram.
It was the last thing he would see.
The young woman had just got off her Shuttletram, having come into the city area from Bakersfield. She was in Glendale, some 30 miles to the north of Los Angeles, and was on her way to visit her sister, Chrystal, who lived there. Having just persuaded her husband to let her go to her sisters on her own, being eight months pregnant and all that, it made prudent sense to just go straight to the small house on the hill where her sister lived, and to call hubby from there to let him know she was there and was OK. A straightforward plan, with no drawbacks one might think.
This would be a day when no ones plans would go as expected. For just as she got to the start of the road where her sisters house stood, tremors in the ground began to be felt. Panic consumed her and she ran for the small house at the top of the road. As she did she caught a glimpse of Chrystal, running toward her. All around them people were screaming in sheer panic, petrified at what was going on.
She got closer to her sister, but was stopped in her tracks. Never has she felt pain like it. It was as though a knife has been plunged into her stomach. She collapsed where she stood, unable to stand the agony no longer. Chrystal reached her, and the distressed mother to be saw her sisters face look down on her in horror.
Unconsciousness overcame Kim Younger.
"I'm tellin ya, there is no way we can get to that tram chief," the young fire officer stood in the temporary site office that had been set up just away from the city centre. All around there were police, ambulance crews, national guard, and firemen. The damage had been light, the quake was not as severe as had been first thought, yet there were still casualties, and the tram was the one causing the most concern. The Fire Chief, tall, balding, and concerned, stood in silence as the young lad stood and gave his report. He realised that there was a problem, and a grave one at that. He was not one to dwell on the situation, at once he realised he needed help from an outside organisation. The tram could not be got to with the equipment at the cities disposal.
Standing next to him was one of the National Guard officers. The Chief turned to face him. "Can you get me access to a radio transmitter?" he demanded in his thick Texan accent.
"There's a small set in the jeep outside, will that do?" he asked.
"Yes, let’s go."
"This is Ned Cook in New York with an NTBS news special on the earthquake in Los Angeles. Our regular Thursday schedule is suspended in order to bring you the latest on this mornings dramatic events. The quake took place some 3 hours ago at 7.37 PDT. As far as we know only 12 people have been killed. The improved structure of so many city buildings means that most people were able to vacate their offices and apartment blocks in relative safety. However we still do not have an answer for certain as to the fate of four people who are trapped in a double deck Shuttletram which fell into a fissure just as the quake was dying down. So far, attempts to get the two men and two women out have not been successful. Fire Chief John Clifford is not, at this time, saying if hope of getting to the trapped people is lost but… "
"International Rescue space station, this is Jeff Tracy."
"Go ahead, father."
"Alan, have you heard anything from the LA quake about a trapped shuttletram?"
Alan Tracy, currently in charge of matters at International Rescue's space borne listening post held out his hands in open gesture. "No, Dad. In fact radio communication in the LA area is pretty quiet. Goodness knows why. I can only guess that the civilian and military services there are already in position with whatever gear they have for mounting a rescue attempt. S'pose they just don't need to use radio."
Just at that moment, another light bleeped on the monitor console that Alan was looking at as he spoke.
"Hold on, Dad, got something coming in now, listen in while I receive."
Alan flicked a switch in front of him that enabled Jeff and the other lads in the lounge at Tracy Island, the secret headquarters of International Rescue, to listen as Alan took the call.
"Calling International Rescue, Calling International Rescue, this Fire-Chief Clifford of LA central fire department, we need your help, over."
Down in the lounge, Scott and Gordon immediately stopped their game of chess and looked up at Alan's face as he listened intently to the call from the quake zone. Over at the piano, Virgil looked up from the manuscript he was working on, and John and Tin-Tin came in from the balcony to take in the news. Jeff sat at his desk, impassive as ever.
Back up in space, Alan adjusted the volume so as to enable the family to hear what was being said. There was a small amount of interference, possibly caused by the weather, a severe storm had been forecast for south western California, and it appeared that it was already in full flow. Alan acknowledged the call from the chief and asked him to give more information.
"There is a shuttletram trapped in a fissure, the entire vehicle is submerged upright and is several feet down. It's a miracle that the fissure has not closed and crushed the thing. The people in there are trapped, all in the rear of the car, we think, and they are unable to get to the front to clamber out of the connecting doors. Needless to say if they could do that we'd have a copter on standby and ready to pick them up, but…"
Scott looked over to Virgil. "Always, there's a ‘but’,” he uttered.
"In addition to this, there is a traffic control tower that was right next to the fissure when it opened. Just after the tram fell in, this tower toppled over and landed right on top of it. Smashing the front. The tower is covering the top of the fissure. I still wonder how the hell we got news of the people in there, but we did. One of them began tapping in Morse code. It's a wonder we could hear a thing, but again we did. Basically we can't get to them from the top because of the tower. Because we are in a quake area, and as a contingency, we had these towers built with reinforced steel. It would take days for us to cut through. Worse still the thing weighs tons and we just don't have the gear to lift it. It's a wonder it hasn't flattened the tramcar, but we think its due to the narrowness of the fissure. The tower went far enough in to hit the front of the car, but no further. We reckon that's all the damage there is."
Alan responded, "OK. Stand by." He turned to face the screen and spoke to his father, "Did you get all that?"
"Yes, son. Tell the chief we're on our way, Scott can talk with him at length when he's airborne." As he said this he looked at his oldest son and nodded in the direction of the false wall with the twin light shades. Without uttering a word, Scott walked over to them, stood with his back to the wall between them, raised both arms and took hold of them both.
The section of wall and floor he was on rotated through 180 degrees, an identical wall with two light fitting turned into place. It was as though nothing had happened.
Jeff now turned to face Virgil and took a deep breath. "You'll need the Mole, Firefly, and the Recovery Vehicles, not to mention your two brothers. If it turns out you can't move the tower then your gonna have to drill your way in, and chances are there could be a gas or electric main in the vicinity that could go off at any time, hence the firefly's requirement. Take care, all three of you, this is gonna be a tough one." He paused for a moment, then, holding his hands aloft said, "What am I saying, since when is there ever a job that isn't tough?" And as with Scott, Jeff nodded in the direction of a tall portrait of a rocket on a pad. Virgil stood with his back to it. It tilted up so Virgil's feet were higher than his head and the young man slid head first down a chute on to a sled and as with Scott and the light shades, the portrait fell back into place. Again as though nothing had happened.
Jeff Tracy, retired astronaut, billionaire, widower, patriarch, founder, and commander of the world famous International Rescue organisation then got up from his desk and walked over to the balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. He saw the pool retract and slide away from view. At the same time he heard the windows and doors all automatically slide shut. This being done so as to protect the house and the people left inside from the heat and fumes that would be generated by what they were about to see, and in turn each door and window emitted a tiny click as the locks set in, thus reassuring Jeff all was OK.
From the now open pool section, a huge roar could be heard, and seconds later, the tall sleek rocket known to the world as Thunderbird One soared upwards into the pacific morning. Rising on a column of smoke that soon stretched thousands of feet into the August sky. At two thousand feet Scott radioed base with a familiar message.
"International Rescue from Thunderbird One, changing to horizontal flight."
The thin silver rocket then arced over to its horizontal configuration, and swung east.
Back at the island, the attention of those in the lounge, Jeff and Tin-Tin, now joined by Kyrano and Brains, turned to the end of the airstrip, on the north shore. There the trees that lined the runway had already fallen away from it. Now the great green plane that millions around the globe knew as Thunderbird Two slowly crawled into view. Just as it did, it came to a halt, and rose up on its launch ramp. Then its two immense tail motors burst into life and propelled the giant transporter, and its three occupants, away on its mission of mercy and rescue.
Once again the Thunderbirds were GO!
"Thunderbird Five from One. Alan what's the frequency the LA fire chief was using."
"Two-Seventy megacycles Scott," Alan responded. "Hold on, I'll connect you."
"Thanks Alan," Scott replied. He waited a moment, then spoke, "This is international rescue Thunderbird One, to Fire Chief Clifford, come in please."
"This is Clifford, go ahead."
"We will be arriving in Los Angeles in 21 minutes, do you have any idea how the people are in terms of the safety of the tram, the state it's in, weather it's likely to slide further down this giant crack?"
"Fraid not, all we can gather is that the people are pretty badly banged up, guess they're not in much of a position to tell us anything else other than their names and addresses. At least we can let their families know the are safe. And by the way there will be one corpse in the tram when you get there. A fella at the back was hit by a falling seat, guy with a German accent apparently, we're not having much luck tracing his relatives, he wasn't carrying any kind of I.D. An ambulance copter is standing by to take care of the four that are still alive and the one who ain't. We'll take the dead one back to the hospital too, there we can get a DNA sample, help us identify him, and find his family."
"Fine," Scott said, thinking that this guy was more obsessed with the corpse rather than those who were alive. Maybe he was concerned with this man's famil,y he thought. He continued. "Where can I land?" he enquired.
"You got VTOL craft ain't ya?" Clifford asked.
"Yep, don't need runway," Scott confirmed.
"OK, you can land on the overpass just a couple-a-hundred yards from where the tram is. It’s safe and secure."
"Right, talk to you again soon, estimated time of arrival now 19 minutes. This is International rescue listening, out.”
Thunderbird sped on into the mid morning gloom of the pacific west coast. The weather was deteriorating by the minute as the silver plane slowed down and opened her wings just a dozen or so miles from the danger zone.
Scott saw from the observation port the mess the place was in. It seemed incredible to him that only twelve had died, and yet that was the figure now being banded around officially, according to Alan, on his last talk with Scott just before he crossed the coast. All the news services now confirmed this. He put this surprise out of his mind and brought his craft into a hovering position over the overpass as instructed by Clifford. At just a hundred feet above the ground the belly jet ignited and Thunderbird One slow descended to the ground, and landed with barely a quiver.
He donned his hat and a knee-length overcoat, and ventured outside
Driving rain greeted Scott as he descended from the cockpit of the craft. Ahead of him, and trotting towards him was a man in a fire chief’s uniform followed by a couple of his deputies. As he reached Scott a huge burst of thunder cracked overhead, and even Scott was startled by that one.
“Guess you’ve brought the bad weather with ya, my friend.” He held out a hand. “John Clifford.” Scott shook his hand.
“Just call me Scott,” he replied, taken aback a little by the enthusiasm of the guy.
“OK by me, son,” he said holding his hands out in open gesture, mindful of the concern over security. He pointed over to where the tower lay. By now the sky was getting darker, yet it was only 10.45am local time, and it was a strain to see in the gloom, but Scott was able to make out the state of the wreck. It was a pitiful sight.
Absolutely no light could get into the fissure, even if it was a blue clear sky overhead and not a downpour. The tower was covering the whole crevasse. And the first thought was of the air, it was probably foul down there.
This was going to be dicey.
Straight away, Scott began looking for a place for Virgil to set down. The area immediately next to the fissure was clear of debris and rubble but was too close for Scott’s liking, the ground could be unstable, and Two’s huge bulk could cause a problem. An area just behind where the overpass was looked better. Scott leaned on the railings on the side of the overpass road, It was on the roadway that the overpass passed over, and would be ideal, close enough to save time, but far enough away not to disturb the ground.
Realising he had his back turned to the Fire Chief, he turned to face him, and pointing over his soaked shoulder with his thumb to the flat ground behind him spoke to Clifford. “That ground there safe for our transporter to set down?”
“Sure,” Clifford responded. “How long before it comes?” he asked.
“Gonna check now,” Scott replied, and he unclipped from his belt a hand held radio, shaped like a telephone receiver. He pulled out a telescopic aerial from the top, held the radio to his ear and pressed a small button on the side and spoke.
“Two from Mobile Control, go.”
From out over the Pacific, in the warm dry cabin of Thunderbird Two, Virgil, his voice, fighting the static that resulted from the vile weather, replied.
“MC from Two, over.”
“Virgil, confirm ETA danger zone.”
“ Be with you in 10 and one half minutes Scott. Where do I set down?”
Scott answered, “Come over me and then land on the flat road directly behind where I am, next to the flyover.”
“Check. How solid’s the ground?”
“Solid enough, you’ll be OK.”
“Right. How’s the rain?” he asked, a little tongue in cheek.
“Very wet, need you ask. Tell Gordon I’ll need to borrow his snorkel, and that’s just to stand and bark out the orders to you lot. Next stupid question?” he asked a little sarcastically.
Virgil smiled. “I’ll save that for tomorrow when we’ve all got streaming colds. FAB. Listening out.”
Scott, the rain lashing onto his hat, switched over to another channel on his radio.
“Five from Mobile Control.”
“Go ahead, Scott,” Alan replied.
“What’s the latest on the weather, how does it look from up there?”
“This weather systems going to stay put over all of California and New Mexico for at least the next 36 hours. Sorry Scott. I’m sure Gordon’s got his snorkel on standby.” He’d been listening to Scott’s chatter with Virg.
“Eavesdropper,” Scott could not resist a little smile at Alan’s little jibe. “Talk soon.”
Scott, his coat now saturated, turned to face the tower again, and began to wonder if it was going to be five and not one corpse he would be digging out of there.
“Hold on, Kim, just keep calm, keep breathing deeply, we’ll be at the hospital soon.”
Reassuring words from one sister to another. Kim Younger had been unconscious for no more than a few minutes. Much to the relief of the person sitting next to her. She herself then gave reassurance to her sister, telling her she was fit to travel.
Chrystal Blake drove her sibling down the small side road that lead to the junction with the main commuter route between Glendale and the centre of LA. Looking more at Kim in the passenger seat than at the road ahead. Although what she could see ahead was not exactly clear, as the rain continued to slash against the windscreen of the car.
“Never mind me,” Kim said as Chrystal took yet another sharp bend at nearly 50 miles an hour. “Just watch the road, I’m OK.” She then winced in pain for the umpteenth time as another contraction started.
The road ahead was clear of cars, almost too clear in fact. Then through the ripples of water that ran down the windscreen Chrystal, her soaked blond hair getting in her eyes for the umpteenth time, saw why the road was empty.
Up ahead was a roadblock, manned by two policemen. The road beyond was impassable, and the officers slowly walked toward the car. Chrystal lowered her window.
“Looks like I made the wrong turn. I’m sorry, look, I need to get my sister to a hospital quickly, she’s gone into labour.”
The officer looked across to the passenger seat and saw Kim, clutching her stomach for dear life. He had two choices. Either send them back and direct them to the nearest hospital, or try something else.
“The nearest hospital is Mellish, twenty minutes away, going back the way you came, or if your sister feels up to it, there is an emergency medical station at the top of that hill,” he pointed to a flight of steps that lead up the embankment from the road. Steep, and narrow, it seemed to rise almost a hundred feet.
“No Way,” Chrystal retorted, and she shoved the gear stick into reverse.
Kim put her hand on the wheel and fighting increased pain shouted at the policemen, “Yes, Yes lets go, I-I don’t th-think I can stand this much more, and besides, the traffic is going to make it more than 20 minutes distance, Ouch!” she winced once again, he voice now trembling. “Please, let’s go up there,” she grabbed Crystals arm and looked her in the eye.
Her sister looked back, and knew Kim would not last the journey.
“Are you sure about this Kim?”
For once a steady calm came over Kim Younger, and brushing her dark hair back and tying it in a ponytail, she spoke, “You got a better idea, now’s the time.”
The two white dots in the gloom slowly got more and more bright. As they did, those looking up at them could start to make out that they belonged to a large plane, bigger than anything they had seen.
“Thunderbird One from Thunderbird Two, approaching danger zone, Scott.”
“Ok Virgil, you’re clear to land, you’ve got a lot of folks down here looking up at you, those front lights of yours look quite eerie. One or two people here were wondering what was going on.”
“Tell them I’m sorry I scared them, they shouldn’t have such wretched weather.”
“Too true,” said Scott in agreement. Sheltering from the rain, and getting changed out of his sodden clothes in One’s cockpit, Scott watched the huge bulk of Thunderbird Two slowly come to a hovering position over the other side of the flyover. The four underjets then burst into life, and the green goddess slowly sank to the ground.
Almost at once the four hydraulic rams pushed Two’s main body up and above the pod. Once the door of pod five was clear it was slowly lowered to reveal a packed pod. At the rear, lit by the internal pod lights were the two recovery vehicles, and in front of them were the Mole, and on the left, the Firefly.
It was the Firefly that first trundled out of the pod, Gordon at the wheel, the yellow halftrack moved into a position on the far side of the rescue area, immediately opposite Thunderbird Two. Should there be a fire of any sort, then Gordon would have a clear field of view of it. As this was going on Scott, having ventured back out from his cockpit, was making his way over to the pod to join Virgil in the mole. Just before he entered the giant drilling machine, he went over to the first of the two recovery vehicles.
At the controls sat John.
Scott got him to open the window so they could talk. “OK John, we’ll pull out the Mole so you can get both the RV’s out, just do the best you can. We’ve no idea if the cables can stand the strain. That tower’s heavy.”
“Right Scott, I hope for their sake someone’s told the folks in the tram about the weather. The minute I pull the tower away, the water that’s been collecting around it will gush in.”
“They’ve been told John,” Scott reassured him, “Good luck, and take care out there.”
“Same to you Scott.” And John closed the window and gunned up the engines of the recovery vehicles. He moved his vehicle out first. Then the Mole followed, and finally, the remote control RV.
The Mole took station alongside the Firefly. From inside, Scott, standing behind Virgil watched as John positioned the RV’s at each end of the tower. Then he pulled them both back some 20 yards. He radioed the others.
“Mole, and Firefly from RV1.”
“We hear you John,” Virgil replied.
“Recovery vehicle one: power OK, recovery vehicle two: operation positive. Firing magnetic clamps, now.”
The two machines between them, suddenly, spat out four massive magnets, each one tethered to the vehicle by a cable some 12 inches in diameter. The four magnets slammed on to the side of the felled tower. John wound the cables taught. Then he increased the strain, digging the tracks into the ground. The massive weighted tracks with steel grips on them to help with holding the road, dug in and held, and slowly the tower began to move over. As it did, the water that had been collecting all around it now spilled into the fissure, soaking the front of the tram. Applause rang out from the mass of people who, oblivious to the rain had gathered in their thousands to watch the rescue. Just about every possible vantage point had been taken, from buildings that were undamaged by the quake, to piles of rubble used as makeshift galleries by young children.
As soon as the tower was clear, Scott, Virgil, and Gordon radioed over to congratulate John, and the four brothers then got on with the task of getting the trapped folks out. The laser cutters would do it. The people would be out and safe in twenty minutes maximum.
The hardest part was over. Or so they thought.
Twenty steps left.
The strain was more than any sane person could bear, and yet Kim Younger was not about to stop. There were fewer steps ahead than behind. The infant in her womb was not many hours away from coming into the world. She barely had the strength or the will to lift each foot on to the steps, despite the help of the police officer with her, encouraging her with every step. The energy simply was not there.
Yet she found the strength. She found it from somewhere, but where.
When the chips are down, it is an aspect of human nature that humans themselves seem unable to grasp. When your back is to the wall, when all hope is seemingly lost, when every ounce of willpower is drained away, somehow you summon reserves of steel. It defies belief. Yet these reserves come. A feeling of deliverance seems to come with it, as though the hand of a mightier power is guiding you.
Ten steps left.
So near, at the summit, the medical crew could now see what was happening. On no fewer that ten occasions the police had tried to call this medical station, but to no avail. The weather, still wretched, was playing havoc with the radio frequencies all over the quake zone. The police were still having a torrid time trying to get in touch with the Father to be. He was off in Santa Barbara at work. They had reassured Kim that no one had come to any harm there. The epicentre was further inland, and no fatalities had been reported in either Santa Barbara or Ventura, taking a weight of her mind.
Last step reached.
Two nurses and a doctor were there, and a stretcher, which she collapsed on to. She was taken into a tent that stood just yards from the edge of the embankment. To the rear of the tent was another sheer drop, right into an electricity sub station. Chrystal stayed outside. Tears of relief, that they had made it. Had they carried on in the car, they would still have been in the traffic on the freeway for sure. They had done the right thing, made the right choice and now Chrystal found herself talking to herself.
Virgil Tracy surveyed the twisted remains of the rear section of the tram. His face grimaced in disgust as he came across the body of the man in the rear. He had been slammed right against the rear wall, and it had knocked more than the wind out of him.
“Virg, mind your head.” It was Scott, handing down the stretcher to his brother.
The pianist took it from him, and once it was alongside the corpse, the two men solemnly moved the body onto it. Scott placed the black sheet he had brought down with him over the body, and once they had strapped it secure to the stretcher, they brought it up to the surface.
Out of respect for the dead man, the straps were removed. A priest said the last rites, and the four brothers, now with black armbands on and their hats removed stood to attention and bowed their heads as the priest spoke.
Such a respectful gesture drew warm applause from the gathered crowd, which included the four people who had been pulled out alive and well. Radio commentators caught the mood as they described the events before them, yet nothing could have prepared them for what was to happen next.
From under the cloth, came a hand.
5.The Point of No Return
Gordon felt something touch his leg.
He pulled back and saw the hand. Instinctively John pulled the cloth away. He saw a lifeless face turn to look at his, and smiled.
John’s stomach suddenly turned sour, he recoiled in horror at what he saw, yet worse was to come.
In his other hand was a knife. He drew it across John’s left leg. A six inch gash appeared above the shin. Gordon and Scott reached for their guns. Yet they could not stop him. They fired in his direction, but somehow their bullets could not halt him. He raced for the hearse. Brought to the rescue area to take him away, now he made for the driver’s door, yanked it open, dragged the driver out, got in, slammed the door shut, and slammed his foot down.
The Vehicle sped off in, wheels spinning.
John was on the ground, clutching his leg; Gordon was next to him, and a medic who had raced over to render first aid, began to take a look at the wound. Scott and Virgil both stood next to them, but were staring blankly at the hearse as it drove away. Scott snapped out of his daze first, and crouched down to enquire about his brother.
“John?” Scott put a hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“I’m OK, Scott. What the hell was that?”
“I dunno, but we’ll get him.” He stood up, and, grabbing Virgil by his sash, raced for Thunderbird One. Virgil, still dumbstruck by what he saw almost fell over in the confusion, but it shook him out of his near trance, and he followed Scott into One’s cabin.
“Gordon!” Scott shouted on his radio, “Take care of John. Keep the pair of us posted on how he is.”
“Will do, Scott,” The aquanaut responded.
Thunderbird One blasted off from the flyover, and made for the central part of the city where the hearse had set off for. In the cabin, Virgil, mind reader that he was, knew what his brother had in mind.
“Grab a thruster pack, Virg. As soon as we see him I’ll fly low, and aim for a tyre. If I hit it, and cause him to veer off, you drop out and grab him.”
“Oh, thanks a bunch!” came the sarcastic reply, but there was nothing meant. It was just the way these two got on. The closest of the five, as Jeff would observe, and goodness knows they’d been through enough scrapes together, already in just three years of operation.
The pair of them always used a little humour when the heat was on.
The hearse sped to the end of the freeway, its driver stared, expressionless at the road ahead. Oblivious to what was blocking the road.
The barriers were there to do a job, but it was only a job of persuasion, nothing more. That they did persuade him was one thing. Persuade him to ram them that is, and ram them he did. Smashing them into pieces in the process and scattering them across the road.
All this was even more remarkable because as he was approaching the roadblock the officers, clad in bullet proof vests, peppered the hearse with ammunition. Already, during his sortie the driver had attempted to run over no fewer than a dozen pedestrians. The police has classed him as highly dangerous, and had decided he had to be stopped by whatever means were at their disposal. They discharged their guns as he approached, and has he passed.
Herbert Vimmer, Mysteron agent from the future, turned off and scrambled the vehicle up a steep hill. The dirt track would lead up a steep incline. One of the police marksmen turned to his colleague, puzzled.
“What’s with the hill? If he’d carried on he’d got a clear getaway. And why did the ammo we just pumped into him not even appear to make a scratch, and this guy’s supposed to be dead anyway? Just what the hell is going on?”
Very soon they would get their answers.
“Look Scott, there he is, climbing that hill, making for that large tent.”
From out of the observation port of Thunderbird One, Virgil could see the hearse. It made little effort in getting up the hill, and as soon as it reached the top, its occupant got out, and walked slowly towards the tent.
“Virg, he’s a sitting duck. I just don’t get it. OK I’ll drop down, Lose the thruster-pack, we can both take care of him.”
Scott landed Thunderbird One, and the brothers raced for the tent.
“OK, Mrs Younger, breathe deeply, the baby will be here soon.”
The medic reassured Kim that all was well. In between contractions, and gulps of gas and air, she had been able at last to speak to her husband. It had taken a weight of her mind, and he was even now racing over the city in a police helijet, in the hope of being there at the moment their first child entered the world.
As she lay on the delivery table, she heard a screech of tyres outside, and thought it was him. Yes. They have took him to a police station and they’ve brought him the rest of the way in a police car.
She was clutching at straws.
From behind her head, came the sound of the entrance to the tent being opened, the canvas being flung aside. Then the noise of an aircraft engine drowned out everything.
She looked over her shoulder, straight into the eyes of an assassin.
“We will be avenged, Earth-woman. History will be created, and crushed.”
The woman screamed, the medical team froze, and Vimmer drew back the knife he had with him, and, holding it above Kim, prepared to plunge it like a dagger.
Two pairs of arms came from behind him, and grabbed him round the neck; they dragged him outside. Neither of those who were apprehending him could quite believe his strength.
“I dunno who you are or what your complaint is about being alive, but are you gonna move out of here now.” Scott commanded.
Scott and Virgil frogmarched him to the fence overlooking the cliff edge. Down below was the electricity substation. They pinned him against the fence, and waited for the police to arrive. Scott had noticed a squad of marksmen were making their way up the hill as Thunderbird One descended in to land.
Their prisoner noticed that they had arrived, and decided to take a chance. He pushed himself away from his captors, leaned against the fence, and brought both legs up as though he was going to shove the two siblings away with his feet.
His first mistake, and his last.
As he leaned on the fence, it gave way.
Before he realised what was happening, and before Scott and Virgil realised what was happening, he began to fall away from the Tracy brothers. He frantically reached out to grab the blue sash on Scott’s uniform. Scott and Virgil both reached out to try and grab some part of Vimmers clothing, but he was already too far away.
Too far to do anything. Too far beyond the point of no return.
He slammed into the substation’s main power housing. Unbeknownst to anyone of this time, electricity is the Achille’s heel of the Mysterons.
Herbert Vimmer was now, absolutely, and definitely, dead.
“We saw what happened, there was nothing you could have done,” said the police marksman. “You two did the best you could.”
Scott and Virgil barely reacted to the officers words. They stood looking down on the sickening sight.
A charred body. A life lost.
Maybe he had not been dead in the first place, maybe he had been able to fake his death, so that he could carry out his plan. No one could explain it. The police team, the medics, the Tracys, and a whole crowd of people who were curious as to what was going on, had all gathered to look down on the corpse in silence. All alone with their thoughts, and all at a loss to explain why.
The silence was broken, broken by the sound of a crying baby. At once Scott and Virgil realised that the man who’s body lay in the smouldering powerhouse, was, only a few minutes earlier, trying to kill the woman who has just that second, given birth.
“Its OK, you can come in now.” The nurse ushered the four Thunderbird men in. They all took off their hats in unison, and all gazed upon the little speck of life that Kim Younger, now reunited with her husband, Mark, himself a doctor, held in her arms.
They had seen something impossible to explain just an hour or so earlier. They had radioed base, and their father has said that as far as he was concerned, this was going to be something that they would not be able to explain in any way shape or form. They had seen a man loose his life, yet they had saved one in the process. For Daniel Jeffrey Tracy, that would be good enough. For now they would celebrate that life, and cherish what that life had herself brought into the world.
Virgil with a grin on his face from ear to ear, was first to speak.
“Another soul among the living. Congratulations to you both. Now. Does he have a name yet?” he enquired.
“Yes,” Kim replied. She looked down on her son. “He will be christened Robert.”
Without hesitation, she passed him over to Scott for him to hold. He took her gently, and as he did, he spoke for all who were gathered in the tent.
“Welcome to the world, Robert,” he quietly said to the sleeping infant.
Robert Younger had taken his place in the world.
Forty-one years later, he would lead it.
Outside the tent, the rain soaked hill was suddenly bathed in sunshine.
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