By Keith Ansell
Jeff Tracy sat behind his desk in the lounge of his luxury island home waiting tensely for word from his eldest son. It had been eight hours since Scott last radioed in - something must have gone badly wrong. Jeff was about to despatch Virgil in Thunderbird 2 to find out what had happened when the eyes on Scott's portrait, hanging on the wall opposite, began to pulse with light. At the flick of a hidden switch beneath his desk Jeff converted the painting into a live image.
"Dad, I've found Abbot and his men and they're alive!" came Scott's voice over the two-way video link.
"Great news, son. Get them all aboard and get them out of there as quick as you can. John tells me the Antarctic weather is getting worse."
"I can't, Dad. I'm afraid there's something else here which is preventing any of us from leaving."
"What are you talking about Scott - explain" bellowed Jeff feeling apprehension mounting.
"Abbot and his people - they've been taken over by aliens, Dad" said Scott hesitantly. "I know it sounds crazy but it's true. There is a crashedUFO down here. The aliens need our help to dig it out of the ice."
"You're kidding!" said Jeff.
"No, Sirree! They crashed down in Antarctica two years ago. Abbot and his expedition were the first people to come near their space craft. The aliens are trapped in the ship - they used psychic projections to possess Abbot and the others. It was the only way the aliens could contact us and they have kept Abbot and his men alive. Without them the Navy guys would have frozen to death in the Antarctic winter on foot."
"Do you trust them?" asked Jeff.
"I think so Dad" said Scott "I don't think we have any other option but to trust them" he added quietly.
"Well what are we waiting for? We set up this organisation to rescue people and if that includes extraterrestrial aliens then so be it" said Jeff stoically "What hardware do you need?"
"The Mole and all our other digging equipment...plus the Recovery Vehicles" said Scott with hardly a second thought.
"Okay they are on their way. I just hope Antarctic conditions will allow our equipment to operate effectively" added Jeff to himself as he cut off the video link.
"They-they should do Mister Tracy" said Brains, International Rescue's bespectacled engineering genius, having listened to the whole conversation "I think the-the operators may have a t-tough time though".
"Right boys" said Jeff turning to his assembled family "Virgil, you'll take TB2 with Gordon, Alan and Brains. Thunderbirds are Go!"
Thunderbird 2 homed in on TB1 as soon as it came within range and 15 hours later landed vertically beside her sister ship.
The storm continued to rage but the greater bulk of the giant green transporter was able to resist all but the strongest buffeting. Virgil could hardly see Thunderbird 1 - now completely covered in snow.
None of the Tracy brothers could accept that they had come to rescue a UFO - the idea was just too incredible for words.
Brains on the other hand had accepted the situation and was quietly devising the best course of action to retrieve the space craft. The benefits of the scientific mind thought Virgil as he raised TB2 on her hydraulic legs to expose the equipment pod.
Scott entered the pod through the side personnel door and waited for his brothers to meet him beside the Mole which stood gleaming yellow waiting to trundle forward into action.
The first thing Virgil noticed was the slightly distant look in Scott's eyes - almost as if he were half asleep.
"Scott, are you okay Big Brother?" questioned Virgil.
"They scanned my mind" said Scott "They know everything about us - but I have a gut feeling they haven't told us everything about this rescue. The aliens seem friendly but there's a strange feel to all this - if that doesn't sound crazy..."
"Pull yourself together Scott" said Alan "The sooner we dig that flying saucer out of the ice the sooner we can get out of here. I reckon this place is colder than the Moon."
Half an hour later Brains had worked out the fine details to put Scott's rescue plan into action.
The Mole would be used to drill a number of tunnels down to the space craft so that the Recovery Vehicles could attach their hawsers to it. Then would come the tricky business of hauling the UFO to the surface of the ice.
The alien that had taken over Captain Abbot's body seemed nervous when Scott outlined this to him.
"You must be very careful not to damage the hull of our vessel" said 'Abbot' "The consequences could be disastrous for your planet."
"P-please explain yourself" stammered Brains standing next to Scott.
"I cannot" said the alien "The fact that you know of our existence is dangerous enough. I must only tell you what you need to know to help us escape from your planet - no more."
The feeling of unease that the Tracy brothers had felt since arriving at the rescue zone was growing. Scott ,who had been in contact with the aliens longer than the others, felt a cold knot of fear tightening in his stomach but could not explain why.