Title: First Words: chapter two of Sotto Voce
27-28 Aug 2018
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Summary: Sometimes the voices are far too loud to ignore.
Word count: 2410
Spoilers & warnings: None
Author’s note: A quick note on my Thunderbirds universe – it was pure Thunderbirds Are Go, but having read so much TOS fic, elements have crept into my head and warped it somewhat. In particular the histories of the characters have taken on what would normally be considered TOS backstory. I still live in TAG land, but you will find elements of TOS floating around. So no Jeff, occasional Kayo, but hydrofoil crashes, Olympic medals and racing trophies tend to be mentioned. Probably to make up for the lack of backstory for the characters in TAG.
This chapter is shorter than expected, but demanded to end here. This of course means there is likely to be four chapters plus epilogue rather than the planned three, but that will just teach me to never and try to predict things like this 😀 Thank you all for your screams of cliffhanger agony and yells of encouragement, you are all wonderful and I couldn’t write without you ::hugs:: I hope you enjoy this chapter ::cackles evilly::
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.
At 120 kilometres per hour, Virgil’s little hydrofoil tripped on its own foils and spun in the air, coming down hard, before bouncing off the water surface to spin again, bounce again and again until its angle of entry penetrated the water surface and drove her under.
There was a split second of pure frozen horror.
Then the comms erupted and Gordon moved.
His scanners tracked the pod as it dove, speed leeching into the water the deeper it got. He knew there was enough air in the craft for it to resurface by itself, but that calculation neglected to take in any possible damage to the hull.
It would only take a crack.
He flung TB4 into a steep dive, deploying her arms on approach and grabbing the wounded pod. Shifting his turbines into reverse, he slowed her plummet and began pulling her towards the surface.
His lights shone on the cabin.
Virgil was slumped in his restraints.
“Gordon, what’s the pod’s status?” Scott’s voice was strong as ever, but it was trembling just that little bit. Shock, no doubt.
“Recovering now. Pilot appears unconscious.”
“I have no response from Virgil.”
“Neither do I.” His heart was thudding in his chest.
It took years to get to the surface. Likely a matter of seconds, but staring at his injured brother while separated by marine acrylic and water and not able to do anything but look, stretched time beyond belief. But eventually they surfaced, the sun sparking off wet metal and plastic, Thunderbird Two’s engines shaking the air some distance off starboard.
Securing TB4, Gordon flipped out, under, and swam over to the crippled hydrofoil. He climbed up the side of the craft, his gloved hands ghosting over dented metal. Her foils were bent at odd angles, but the core pod…the core pod was secure. Thank god for good and safe design. Her seals had held.
He banged on the clear acrylic. Virgil didn’t react.
He reached around the back edge of the hatch, his fingers searching for the emergency release. The ocean made the world go up and down.
Finally, his fingers caught the latch and with a hiss of broken seal, he hauled up the hatch. The sea breeze stirred Virgil’s hair.
Gordon yanked off a glove and holding his breath reached for Virgil’s pulse.
His brother’s heart beat against his fingertips.
Oh, thank god.
There was an incoherent sound of relief at the other end of the comline.
“We’re going to need a spinal board down here.”
It didn’t surprise Gordon to see Scott pin drop from Thunderbird Two several moments later. He’d stripped off most of his uniform, leaving only his undershirt and shorts on. He had also donned a harness to which he had attached one of TB2’s first aid kits. He paddled over on the spinal board and hurriedly clambered up the side of the mangled hydrofoil, his eyes seeking his injured brother.
Gordon had done a visual assessment of Virgil. It appeared that the pod’s safety harness had done its job. There were no obvious major injuries. There would be bruises, no doubt, but his brother appeared to be in one piece.
Scott’s fingers brushed against Virgil’s hair.
“Let’s get him out of there.”
It took some awkward manoeuvring and Virgil was damn heavy, but finally with his spine and neck immobilised as much as possible, the two brothers manhandled him into a basket stretcher lowered from TB2.
Virgil did not stir at all.
Taking one last second to grip Gordon’s shoulder in thanks, Scott rode Virgil’s stretcher up into the confines of Thunderbird Two, and the aquanaut was left staring at the mangled and empty hydrofoil.
As TB2 tore off towards the mainland, Gordon swore and sunk his boot into the side of the crippled craft.
It was the pain that finally woke him.
Everything ached, even his toenails hurt, but it was his head, surely three times its natural size as it throbbed and throbbed to the beat of his heart, that forced him to consciousness.
“So, you are finally awake.”
He cranked open an eyelid and the room’s lighting stabbed him in the eye. Augh. He may have made to make the sound, but nothing left his lips. The gasp was lost enroute. He blinked, forcing his eyes to clear and regretted it immediately.
“Now come on, hurry up.”
A hologram came into focus. John?
“Yes, it is me. Is everything functional?”
Green eyes peered at him. “Not all there yet? Hmm, may have to give it some more time.” The hologram blurred and disappeared.
Virgil turned his head looking for his brother. “J-John?”
He flinched at the closeness of Scott’s voice. That and the sharp instrument that pierced him through one ear and out the other. “Ohwww.”
A hand touched his hair and he cringed away. “Don’t-“
He brought his hands to his temples. “Oh god, my head.” His eyes screwed shut, he attempted to curl up on the bed, but that set off all the other complaints in his body. He groaned.
He heard his brother’s voice again, footsteps pounded into his brain. His hand tugged and he let out a sob as something cold crawled up his arm.
Then the pain began to ebb away.
He melted slowly into the bed, his muscles letting go, relaxing in relief. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.
“Better?” Scott’s voice was barely a whisper.
“Better.” Virgil opened his eyes and looked blearily up at his brother. “Thank you.”
“Can you tell me your name?” The voice was female and Scott stepped back to let the doctor closer to her patient.”
My name? “Virgil.” A slow relaxed blink. “Virgil Grissom Tracy.” Who are you?
“Do you know your birthdate?”
Another slow blink. “August 15th.”
“Do you remember what year?”
A pause. “Okay, Virgil. Do you remember what happened to you?”
What happened? “I was flying.” He frowned. “Now I’m here.” He looked up at his brother. “Where am I?” The walls were unfamiliar. Another frown. “A hydrofoil. Gordon! Where’s Gordon?!” He tried to sit up, but Scott held him down.
“Gordon is fine. You were piloting the hydrofoil.”
Virgil stared up at him. “Me?” His eyes darted to his legs and he bent them at the knees, wriggling his toes. Oh, thank god they ached so much. He let them drop and sighed back into the bed. “I’m okay.” A hitched breath. “I’m okay.”
Scott’s lips were thin and his frown worried.
Virgil tentatively reached out. “Are you okay?”
A breath exploded from his brother and he ran a hand through his hair. “Am I okay?” A choked sound was the only answer.
The doctor touched Scott’s arm. His brother visibly flinched and moved away.
Definitely not okay.
Virgil fumbled for his brother’s hand and squeezed. Blue eyes latched onto his and Scott’s shoulders dropped just a notch.
“I’m okay, Scott.” His brother’s eyes glistened in the fluorescent lighting. “I’m okay.”
And he was okay. It was a flippin’ miracle, but he was okay. When Gordon arrived and smothered him in the biggest hug he had ever received from his second youngest brother, he was able to hug him back almost as tightly.
“I can not believe you. I just…my god, Virgil.”
“I’m sorry.” And Gordon was hugging him again. “I’m okay.”
Gordon stepped back and Virgil found himself now pinned by a pair of russet brown eyes that glistened almost as much as Scott’s had earlier. Hell, he had made his whole family cry. Damn, Grandma was probably going to kill him when he saw her.
“You’re one lucky bastard.” And Gordon wiped his face on his sleeve.
“I’m sorry, Gordon.”
“Stop saying that. It wasn’t your fault.”
Gordon straightened up, swallowed and composed himself. “We don’t know yet. Brains is going over the wreckage and footage. He’ll let us know as soon as he comes up with something.” Gordon blinked and shook his head. “I swear…Virg, make it into something else. A-a catamaran or a hovercraft, maybe. Dump the hydrofoil idea, I think fate has made its point.”
Gordon slumped onto the edge of the bed, his hand coming to rest on Virgil’s blanket covered knee. “You’re sure you’re okay?” It was like his brother couldn’t believe it.
Understandable considering the circumstances.
“I’m fine, Gordon. A few aches and pains, one hell of a headache and some bruises, but I’m good.” He reached out and grabbed his brother’s elbow. “Brain’s safety margins, remember. I’ll be out of the hospital by tomorrow.” He had made Scott promise.
And Scott stuck to his promise. The very next day he was signed out of the military hospital and escorted by his two brothers out to his big green ‘bird perched on the hospital helipad.
Scott grinned at his expression. “We thought you would prefer to ride home in style.”
He arched an eyebrow at his brother. Deadpan. “Really?” Style and TB2 weren’t two concepts he thought his brother would string together into one sentence, much less when speaking to Virgil.
Scott shrugged, but didn’t admit to anything, and Virgil wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. As the hatch drew them up into the body of his ‘bird, he found he was already home. A tension he didn’t know he was carrying fell off his shoulders and he sagged just a little in relief.
Blue eyes darted in his direction, but he ignored them, drawn immediately to his pilot’s seat.
“Oh, no you don’t.” Scott’s hand landed on his shoulder halting him gently. “Gordon’s got this.”
And Gordon did, slipping past the both of them and starting pre-flight checks. His older brother’s arm reached around his shoulder and hugged him side on. “Sorry, Virg. You’re grounded for a while yet.”
“However long it takes.” And with that he prodded him into the auxiliary seat behind the pilot’s chair and took the co-pilot’s seat himself.
Virgil frowned sulkily, but the simple expression sent a sharp pain through the centre of his skull and he winced. Okay, perhaps Scott was right.
He lowered his harness and tried not to pout too hard.
Arriving home was another lesson in how much his family loved him. Yes, Grandma had tears in her eyes. Yes, Kayo threatened to punch his lights out if he ever did it again. Alan hugged him until he had to ask to breathe and even John had returned to Earth to celebrate his survival. The only person missing from his little welcome home celebration was Brains.
“You know what he is like when he gets angry.”
Virgil half-smirked. “Haven’t seen him for days?”
“Haven’t seen him for days.” Scott shrugged. “He’ll surface when he is ready.” Brains was well known for disappearing into science when angry. And since one of their creations had endangered a life, he was pretty sure Brains was royally pissed.
Virgil wasn’t too happy himself. Those designs had been perfect.
Well, apparently not. He sighed.
And realised that there were at least six pairs of eyes staring at him worriedly.
Oh, for the love of…this was going to wear thin very fast. He held up his hands. “I’m okay. I promise.” He pointed in the direction of the stairs to the bedrooms. “I’m just going to go put my feet up for a while.” He was tired, short flight or not. Scott opened his mouth. “I’m fine!” He stared his brother down and Virgil backed out of the room before he could be pounced on further.
He was woken up sometime later by John, his hologram hovering beside the bed.
“Wha- Oh, hi, John.” He ran a hand over his face. His head continued to throb, but he was getting used to it now. “What’s up?”
“Welcome back, Virgil.”
“Uh, yeah, thanks. Sorry for scaring you.”
John didn’t answer that and Virgil turned to look up at him. “You okay?”
“I am well.” His brother paused, his expression thoughtful. “I need your help.”
Huh? Virgil sat up, ignoring the swirling in his head. “What can I do for you?”
“Do you have a copy of the original designs for the hydrofoil?”
“Of course. They’re in the IR schematics database.”
“Could you send me a copy?”
“Sure.” Virgil paused a second. “Why don’t you have access?”
John shrugged. “Sunspot activity is interfering with orbital communications again. Do me a favour and send them to this link. That one at least I know is working.”
Virgil frowned, but pulled up the database, found the files and shunted them across as requested. “Here you go.”
“Thank you, my brother.” And John smiled at him before blinking out.
Virgil frowned. Weird.
A wave of dizziness hit him and he lay back down on the bed and closed his eyes. He ignored the headache as much as possible and tried to get back to sleep.
Brains flinched at his reaction. “I-I’m s-sorry, Scott. But that i-is the o-nly explanation.”
“No! Not possible.” His voice echoed around Brains’ lab.
“Scott-“ John’s expression was as pained as Scott felt.
“No, John! Why would he possibly want to do that? Really? This is Virgil!”
“It is the only explanation. There was no fault in the equipment and the recordings clearly show he deviated suddenly enough to cause the accident.”
“But not on purpose.”
His middle brother walked over and placed his hands on Scott’s shoulders. “I hate this as much as you do. We’ve been examining this for hours looking for another reason, but there isn’t one. Virgil crashed the hydrofoil on purpose.”
“But why?” Scott could hear the whine in his own voice.
John swallowed. “We don’t know. All we have is the cockpit recording.” His brother darted a glance at Brains and the engineer fiddled with the console. A hologram of Virgil appeared in the middle of the room, his dark-haired brother’s expression of calm concentration while piloting intimately familiar to Scott. “He reached 65 knots and kept it steady for about fifteen seconds and then…” Virgil’s expression shifted, a frown, his lips thinned to a grimace, and suddenly the pilot threw the control yoke sharply to port and the hydrofoil was airborne.
John’s hands fell from his shoulders, as Scott stood frozen, his mouth open in denial. A desperate whisper. “Why?”
End Part Two