Gentle Rain (Part Eighteen)

Title: Gentle Rain
Warm Rain Series
Part Eighteen
Author: Gumnut
28 Feb – 1 Mar 2019
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Rating: Teen
Summary: Sometimes it is so gentle, you don’t realise it is happening.
Word count: 3119
Spoilers & warnings: Virgil/Kayo, Scott/OC, Gordon/Penelope, spoilers for Warm Rain up to this point in the timeline.
Timeline: Six months after ‘The Proposal’, almost a sequel.
Author’s note: For @scribbles97​ Oh, this was fun to write. It may be called a trope, but I don’t care, it was fun 😀 Nutty got to blow something up, mwhahahahaha! I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.
-o-o-o-

She eased herself slowly back into her life. She worked through a list of shocked friends, the necessary sympathy regarding her latest injury, questions about where she had been, how she was and what she was going to do next.

There were catch up lunches, new clients and Uncle Crispin.

He cornered her as soon as he could, which considering the state of the Siberian gas fields, wasn’t anywhere as soon as he would have preferred. He finally made it to her house two weeks after her month of seclusion.

The fact he actually visited the house was an indication of how worried he was. He hated the place, given all the memories of the family he had lost echoing through the hallways. His relationship with her deceased grandparents probably didn’t help either.

He hugged her the moment he saw her.

“How are you, honey?” He was the only person she would allow to call her ‘honey’.

“I’m getting there.” She smiled.

“What about the Tracy boy?” Sure enough, straight to the point.

“What about him?”

“You seemed pretty set on him at Christmas.”

“Yeah, well, that was Christmas and a lot has happened since.”

“Sally says Virgil is doing well.”

It took her a moment to connect the dots. Sally was Grandma Tracy. “As long as he gives himself the time to recover, he should be fine. It was close.” She shifted in her ‘scoot. “So, what’s the deal with you and…Sally?”

She couldn’t help but grin at the shy smile that spread over his face. That was the thing about Uncle Crispin. He was all tough adventurer on the outside, tough as nails, but on the inside, he was really just a soft, goofball.

Life had been as hard on him as it had been on her and his demeanour reflected that.

Sally had obviously wormed her way under his leathery defence system.

“She and I…Em, she makes me happy.” He grinned. “And I like to think I make her happy too. I can’t really ask for more than that.”

That sparked off a little self-reflection. “No, that’s exactly how it should be.”

Her uncle frowned. “Do I need to go park some dynamite under his ass?”

“You and your bloody dynamite.” An exasperated sigh. “It’s fine. I’ll be fine.”

“Sally says he’s pretty messed up.”

She blinked. “What?”

“Some big effort to decentralise International Rescue, expand the service somewhat and take the strain off the Tracy family. He’s not sleeping and not talking. She’s worried about him.”

A stare. “He took my advice?”

“Your advice? No idea. But the man is obsessed. Sally reckons you should check on him.”

“She does, does she?” She eyed her uncle. “What do you think?”

“Em, I’m with you. Whatever makes you happy.”

Whatever makes her happy? She had a list, but only a few of those listed things were entirely in her power, so she would focus on those.

“I’m going to give it time.” The words were said quietly and slowly.

His hand landed on her shoulder and squeezed.

Uncle Crispin inevitably couldn’t stay long. It was a reminder of how close his job was to that of International Rescue as he was called out to Siberia yet again. She missed him, but it was necessary. Besides, she had her own life to get back to.

She closed up the house in Margaret River, moved back to Perth and back to work.

It was a lunch date with a colleague that saw her on the pedestrian bridge right at the moment it exploded.

-o-o-o-

Scott hit the comms room at a run. “Report!”

John’s hologram was in the centre of the room. He had only returned to TB5 three days earlier after an extended training session with his extremely small team. Gordon had snorted loudly when Scott commented on the personnel involved. He must remember to ask him about that.

“There has been an explosion on a pedestrian bridge across the Swan River. Em is on the bridge.”

“Explosion? How do you know that Em is involved?” He felt like grabbing his brother and shaking him.

“Kayo, put a tracker in her hoverscoot.”

“What?!” This came from both himself and Virgil behind him.

“Regardless, the bridge has been destabilised at one end. We’re needed.”

Scott didn’t hesitate, heading towards his chute. Virgil didn’t either and that was enough to bring him to a halt. “Virgil!”

“You’re going, I’m going.” And he didn’t stop moving.

Damnit! “John, get Alan and Gordon to Thunderbird Two.”

“Already on their way.”

He yanked the fake light fittings down just that bit harder than usual just as Virgil tipped up backwards on his painting and disappeared.

Fear churned in his gut.

Em.

-o-o-o-

Virgil’s chute, by the nature of its design was rough on his body. It had been at least a couple of months since he’d flown down it, so along with the adrenalin that always accompanied the ride there was a pleasant sense of accomplishment when it didn’t actually hurt.

His feet hit his ‘bird’s deck with a reassuring thump and no pain ricocheted anywhere. His heart was thudding and his breathing had spiked, but that could be considered normal.

Slipping into his seat, he automatically started pre-flight, the sequence so familiar, he didn’t even have to think.

The selector trundled out the modules and TB2 settled on the familiar Four. Moments later he heard Alan and Gordon rise up into the cockpit.

Kay sat down beside him in the co-pilot’s seat. What?

“Before you say anything, my presence is non-negotiable.”

Her eyes pinned him. “Okay.”

And his attention was taken with the launch. Thunderbird Two rolled out of her hanger and he opened the runway to let her through. Her familiar rumble vibrated through his bones, the adrenalin still pumping, his heart-rate matched her thrum.

Loaded onto her ramp, he pointed her towards the sky.

The clunk of external machinery.

An indrawn breath.

He fired her thrusters and she leapt off the platform, clawing her way into the blue.

-o-o-o-

There was a flash of light and a wall of sound hit her.

Her ‘scoot slid sideways and the people around her screamed as the bridge beneath her suddenly tilted sideways towards the water below.

At the far end of the metal and concrete structure a cloud of smoke was rising into the air.

Dust and debris rained down around her. Time froze in shock.

It started again as a woman to her right suddenly went down with a scream, clutching her arm. More screams erupted as the walkway wobbled again.

The only escape route was the other end of the bridge.

“Move! Move!” And she was grabbing people and pushing them in the direction of land. Em lowered herself to the woman who had fallen. There was blood pouring down the sleeve of her dress and she was terrified, but there wasn’t time to do anything about it. She got her to her feet and hurried her across the paving. “Run!”

The bridge shook again and there was an almighty screech of stressed metal as one of the spans arching over the structure broke off at its base. The sharp ping of support wires snapping and the massive arm of steel pendulumed, swinging down and along the edge of the walkway. The concrete groaned and cracked under her ‘scoot.

“Move!”

They ran.

It was a busy bridge in the middle of the day, even more so because a local market had been set up along the length of it. There would have been at least a hundred people walking across or browsing the stalls. As the walkway tilted further, craft items and marquees began to slide across the paving. Em used her ‘scoot to her advantage. It had grip where feet may not have had and her arms were strong.

She sped up, darting to grab a child falling towards the railing. She hustled people along, supporting them if they fell. As a whole the crowd moved at a frantic pace down the length of the bridge.

Until the other end of the bridge exploded.

She couldn’t help it, she screamed.

The whole structure shuddered and a large portion holding many of those fleeing people collapsed into the river below.

“No!”

She struggled to keep her ‘scoot steady as the walkway shuddered and tilted even further. She looked behind her. Both ends of the bridge had been destroyed. There was no way off the structure.

A man not far from her slipped and fell, the tilt of the bridge saw him slide all the way to the railing. He screamed as his foot caught in the grill and twisted, taking his weight.

Her hoverjets whined, struggling with the heavily angled surface.

Only to be joined by the sudden roar of rocket engines.

Thunderbird One tore up the Swan River, screaming to a halt above the bridge. Her underbelly opened and a grapple shot down and caught the walkway as it teetered further. VTOL roared.

And she heard his voice.

“Please keep calm. International Rescue is here to assist.”

-o-o-o-

His heart leapt into his throat.

The bridge had been decimated. Two explosions, one at each of the main pylons had mangled the steel spans that supported the bridge. The pylons themselves were fairly secure, but the walkway was swinging loose, its structure never designed to take its own weight without the support spans.

Wires were snapping and springing apart.

Human figures were falling into the water below.

“John, tell me what caused this.”

“Initial results still coming in.” A pause. “Incendiary. Likely a bomb or a series.”

“Shit.” A breath. “Tell me there are no more.”

“In depth scan in progress.”

“I need that information now.”

“Working on it.”

He bit his lip as numbers spun across the space between the bridge and the Thunderbird in orbit.

“No further explosives detected. Eos is repeating the scan as we speak.”

“Thank you, John. Advise the GDF. Thunderbird two, we need you here now.”

“On approach.”

And she was. The great green behemoth swooping low over the river, her VTOL churning the surface below. She came to an abrupt halt and released her module. She waited long enough for Thunderbird Four to dart into the river, before gathering the module back to her belly once again. She was going to need it. A flare of VTOL and she rose up and over the bridge.

“Virgil, deploy rescue rafts and stabilise the walkway. Gordon, you’re on victim retrieval. Watch for falling debris. Alan and Kayo, send down TB2’s grabs and start picking people off the bridge. I’ll be doing the same once you have the walkway stable.”

Virgil’s baritone followed by the rest of his family’s voices were a chorus of FABs.

Thunderbird Two quickly dropped a series of large self-inflatable support rafts onto the surface of the river on both sides of the bridge, before deploying her grapples to secure the walkway. The whole structure straightened under the strength of the Thunderbird.

“Scott, it’s too heavy for Two. We lose much more structural support, it’s going to drop.”

“FAB, Thunderbird Two.” Time was crucial.

The green ‘bird lowered her nosecone grapples geared with her rescue rig. The small figures of Alan and Kayo leapt off and started gathering people.

Scott disengaged his grapple and began deploying harnesses. As he was working, he couldn’t help but ask. “Where is she?”

John answered without hesitation. “On the main walkway, near the centre. She appears unharmed.” A hologram flashed up and there she was, her ‘scoot shooting back and forth gathering people and ushering them towards Two’s rescue rig. Something in his gut clenched. “Keep an eye on her.” And he resisted the urge to swoop down and grab her immediately.

“FAB.”

And the rescue effort began in earnest. Fly down grab a victim, reassure them, assess for urgent injury, harness them, transport them to one of the rafts, make sure they are secure, grab the next one. It was simple pick and grab. Thunderbird Two was filling Module Four with rescuees, Alan and Kayo darting across broken concrete and gathering people to the rig.

Gordon had the hardest job. The majority of persons who had fallen off the bridge were injured, and there were a lot of injured.

Fortunately, some more help arrived.

“International Rescue Australasia Oceania reporting for duty.” They arrived in a GDF flyer, but they had their uniforms and suddenly there were more hands to help. Gordon was joined by several of the aquanauts he had been training on the other side of the continent just the previous week. Figures supported by jetpacks not unlike his own darted out from the carrier’s underbelly and began snatching survivors alongside him. Field Commander Davis flickered up on his holographic display. “Commander, thought you could use a hand.” She didn’t smile, she was too professional for that. “IR AO is supplemented by several of our other recruits so we have more hands. Your orders?” The grey of her baldric sash shone dully in the holographic light.

Scott, however, couldn’t help but smile. “Pick and grab, Lauren. We’re on a time limit, so make it fast. Thunderbird Two can’t hold the bridge forever.”

“FAB.”

It was odd hearing that response from a voice outside his family.

The rescue sped up after that.

But not enough.

“Scott, we just lost a crucial support! It’s going to go!” Virgil’s voice wasn’t panicked, but it was damn close. Far above him Thunderbird Two’s VTOL screamed as his brother desperately attempted hold so many tonnes of bridge.

“Slave TB1, use her grapples.”

“FAB.” It would give them a few more minutes at least.

They almost had it. As John called the final evac, the rafts had been dragged to a safe distance, there were only a handful of people left on the bridge, several of them IR personnel attending to victims with life threatening injuries…

Em.

He caught sight of her just as Virgil swore over comms and Two plummeted several metres, the bridge sagging.

One of the support wires near her snapped under the sudden strain and whipped around… “Em!”

He was moving before thought, but still it played in slow motion just out of his reach. The wire slashed through the air, missing her, but catching her hoverscoot. A spray of sparks and she was flung sideways and over the edge.

-o-o-o-

It became a blur of terrified people.

When the rescue rig landed on the tilting deck, she took only a moment to acknowledge Kayo and Alan. Both attempted to evacuate her, but she knew she was useful where she was and refused. There were others who needed help more than she.

That didn’t stop them from trying several more times, each person she delivered to that rescue rig was accompanied by a visual plea from Kayo. Perhaps she had suspicions why, but this wasn’t the time to think about it.

The Thunderbirds above were joined by a GDF flyer and suddenly there were more IR personnel on that bridge. Her heart leapt as a man in blue swooped in to land, but it wasn’t Scott. He wasn’t even a Tracy and she realised that this was the embodiment of Scott’s strategic plan.

She handed him a baby along with the boy’s mother and she darted off to grab another child clinging to a crumpled market stall.

More and more terrified people were airlifted away. Soon it was down to the critically injured, those who couldn’t be moved without further injury. She and another IR operative had a teenage girl showing all the signs of a spinal injury when Kayo called out for final evac. Far above, even Em could hear the sudden strain of Thunderbird Two’s VTOL as the bridge trembled.

The concrete beneath her shifted and fell and her ‘scoot lost traction for a split second. She grabbed for purchase, but her fingernails scraped useless across the pavement. A screech of metal, movement, and she was thrown sideways. A blur of bridge railing, the world spun…

And she was falling.

Fast.

She may have screamed, but the rush of air stole it from her throat.

Her hands clawed at nothing. There was nothing, nothing-

She was surrounded by blue fabric. Warm, strong, breathing and, oh god, so familiar. It enveloped her, slowing her plummet, saving her.

She gasped and it came out a sob.

“It’s okay…okay, I’ve got you.”

She looked up and there were those eyes. Those gorgeous blue eyes that haunted her dreams.

Furrowed in fear.

“Scott?”

He didn’t answer, just pulling her in closer as if he was clinging to her as much as she was to him.

 -o-o-o-

He caught her mid-air, his arms wrapping around her, pulling her close, slowing her spin and her fall. Oh god, he had caught her.

His breath hitched as she let out a frightened sob. “It’s okay…okay, I’ve got you.”

As he shifted into a hover, she looked up, ice blue eyes fixing on him. “Scott?”

Such hope and fear in his name.

He didn’t answer, just pulled her closer, holding on so tight, he felt he may never let go.

“Scott! Get out of there! It’s collapsing and I can’t stop it!” Virgil’s voice in his ear was drowned out by a roar and the shadow of the bridge above fell towards them.

Shit!

Holding Em close, he accelerated away from the tangle of falling steel and concrete. The shift in air pressure threatened to drag them in as the mass gained speed as it fell. Scott spun, darting to avoid the steel span that was following the walkway into the river. Em clung to him and he wished he’d had chance to harness her to himself.

He had never held anyone so tight.

Thunderbird One loomed, no longer attached to the falling bridge, her hover unaffected by the now churning river below. Flying through her open hatch, he was finally able to draw in a breath as it closed behind him.

He lowered her gently to the passenger seat. “Are you okay? Are you injured?”

Em didn’t answer and he realised she was trembling. He crouched down, his gloved hand reaching for her.

She stared at him for a moment, but still didn’t say anything, her hands going to the harness holding her to the ‘scoot.

Her fingers fumbled with the buckles until he reached in to help. Without a word, she slid herself free and he lifted the dead piece of equipment away.

Something dark glistened in the empty seat.

He spun back to find her staring at a spreading red stain on her skirt.

-o-o-o-

End Part Eighteen.

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