“Goddamnit, Virgil, strap yourself in!”

“If I don’t fix this, we are both dead.”

Virgil had his head inside Thunderbird Two’s control panel while Scott desperately tried to keep them level, ever so low over thick forest.

They had lost both VTOL and main thruster control thanks to yet another Fischler invention. The little mobile solar collector had been attracted to TB2’s rear thrusters and had shown that attraction by flying into one, despite Virgil’s desperate manoeuvres. The resultant explosion had taken out not only that thruster, but interfered with its partner. The electrical shock had travelled through her circuitry and disabled VTOL control in the process. The only reason they were still airborne was because Virgil knew his own ‘bird so well, he had been able to get her into a glide long enough to dig into her circuitry and slap together some partial control.

They were going down in any case. It was just a matter of how badly.

Scott felt the controls wallow in the lightest of crosswinds, the missing roar of his brother’s bird as bad as a missing heartbeat.

There was a muffled expletive, a yelp, and suddenly VTOL roared to life.

But only the two front thrusters fired. Scott struggled to keep her in the air. Treetops began to scrape across her underside. “Virgil, strap in!”

And they went down.

-o-o-o-

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