Part Seven of Il Mago
Sequel to Sotto Voce
30 Sep – 5 Oct 2018
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Summary: “How can we trust him, if we don’t even know he is Virgil?”
Word count: 4783
Spoilers & warnings: Spoilers for Season 2 and Sotto Voce.
Author’s note: And here we are at the end. I so hope you have enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for all your wonderful support ::hugs you all::
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.
The worst part of any
illness could be the waiting. Or it could be the not-knowing. Or the illness
itself. Or the pain.
Or, what the hell, the
whole thing sucked.
Scott made it back to
Earth with Alan and John about an hour after Virgil’s last transmission to find
Virgil still on life support. He had gone into cardiac arrest yet again when
that alarm had shrieked during their conversation.
John took one look at his
unconscious brother, briefly touched his hand, but said nothing. He then locked
himself in a room with Eos.
Alan cleaned himself up
from the mission, but postponed repairs on Thunderbird Three – she needed
several, particularly to her arms. Instead he set up camp next to Virgil and
wouldn’t be moved.
Scott, sitting on the
other side of his prone brother, had attempted to speak to him, but Alan
clammed up, refusing to say anything. He simply sat staring at Virgil as if he
could force the man back to consciousness with his glare.
Gordon had been emotional.
He couldn’t forgive himself for letting Virgil upload himself in the first
place. He should have sedated him. He should have knocked him on his ass.
Scott tried to corner him,
but the only person who could give the man release was Virgil himself.
And Virgil wouldn’t wake
It wasn’t until the next
day that John emerged from his cave looking absolutely awful, but accomplished.
The reason for this was immediately made clear.
“Eos?” His eyes darted
from John to the ceiling. “How are you?”
“Better.” And a somewhat
shy, “How are you?”
“Been better, but thank
you for asking.” He eyed John again. “What can you tell me about what
“I have created a report
and sent it to your tablet.” A pause. “Please, Scott, can I check on him?”
Scott’s eyes stayed on
John. His brother’s subtle nod was more than enough. “Please do, Eos. And…”
He swallowed. “Thank you for protecting, Virgil.”
Hesitation. “He did the
same for me. For all of us.”
John closed his eyes for
just a moment before opening them again.
And she was brisk, urgent.
“Please excuse me.”
All eyes in the room fell
Ten minutes later,
Virgil’s eyes flung open and he gasped, struggling against the ventilator,
Virgil spent most of the
next week sleeping. It was irritating. No sooner was he awake than he was
Eos found it amusing.
It just pissed Virgil off.
He was well known for
loving his sleep, but this was a case of falling asleep halfway through a
sentence. It was like his brain had a time limit and if he exceeded it, he was
shut down. And the time limit kept changing.
Sure, it got longer as the
week went on. Starting at two minutes upon his first gasping awareness.
Thank you for that, Eos.
You’re welcome. A grin floated down the line.
And making a whole ten
minutes by the end of the week.
It made having a decent
conversation, or a decent meal, a study in the ridiculous.
Along with the narcolepsy,
he had the joy of recurring migraines from hell. His nervous system had taken a
major hit and it was stumbling. And who knew what his encounter with Maggot had
done to him.
Scott demanded they haul
their neurological specialist back in, so they did. When the man landed on the
island, he was happy to see Virgil in such good health, despite the pain and
his tendency to fall asleep mid-word.
Scans were produced, situations
discussed. They didn’t quite go into the full detail of exactly what had
happened, but the neurologist seemed happy enough. Virgil just needed the rest
and time. If he didn’t improve, the doctor said to call him back, but he
suspected both the pain and the need for sleep would wane as Virgil’s body and
So, it was mostly good
news and Virgil felt they had gotten off lightly.
Unfortunately, he had four
brothers, one grandmother and one AI who disagreed.
Gordon wasn’t speaking to
him. His brother had had to watch his body shut down, and Virgil could
understand his distress. He owed him, but was unsure what exactly he could do
to make it better. He wasn’t sure there was anything he could do.
John was disapproving, of
course, but endlessly fascinated by Virgil’s description of the virtual world.
Part of Virgil suspected that it was probably good that he had the circuitry in
his brain and not John.
John may never have
returned. His natural curiosity would have been the death of him.
Scott… Scott was broken.
He had seen the man snap before TB5 had dropped contact, and despite the events
in between, his brother was still in pieces. He appeared solemn, but Virgil
could see it in his eyes. It was part of the reason for his own frustration at
his sleeping. Scott needed to talk and Virgil couldn’t keep it together long
enough to have a decent conversation.
The last time he had
tried, his brother had fended him off just long enough for his narcolepsy to
kick in. Just as he was dropping off, Virgil grabbed his brother’s hand,
gripping it tight, desperately trying to communicate as his eyelids drooped.
When he woke, Scott was
So, yeah, pissed off.
The one exception was
His youngest brother
stayed with him almost continuously and Virgil really wasn’t sure what to make
of it. Particularly since he hadn’t wanted to know him for months previous.
“Did you want anything
else to eat?”
Virgil stared at Alan.
“What’s on your mind, Alan?”
His brother blinked at
him. “Whether you want any more lunch or not.”
Half-lidded glare. “Apart
from that. Something is obviously bugging you.”
“Yeah, well, my second
oldest brother nearly got himself killed duelling with a psychotic maniac gone
digital. That can kinda bug a guy.”
Alright, different tactic.
Poke the bear. “Are you okay?”
“Am I okay? Are you
kidding me? You were dead, Virgil! Heart stopped, brain stopped. Dead. Why the
hell did you do that?”
“Because I had to! I
couldn’t let you guys go up there blind. It was obvious some asshole was poking
the system. Eos was missing. I had to do what I could to protect you.”
“And who the hell is going
to protect you?”
“I protected me!” And it
was true. He did. He hadn’t known what was possible, but now he did…there was
no way anyone was ever going to hurt them like that again.
And he must have fallen
asleep, because the next thing he knew, Alan was gone and John was offering him
Thunderbird Five needed
major repairs so once TB3 had her own repairs attended to, Alan took both John
and Brains up to the wounded bird. Eos had visited her home, combing through
the computer network looking for damage, fixing what she could, reporting what
John, Brains and Eos
launched another major project to protect both TB5 and the z-band network.
Everything they had done before had obviously not worked, so a different
approach was called for. It was a concern that too much security would work
against them, preventing the ‘birds from being flown remotely, or lower the
effectiveness of communications. The whole purpose of Thunderbird Five was to
hear a call for help. It was likely the intruder, Il Mago, apparently, stupid
name, had used that openness to gain access to the network in the first place.
They had yet to find a solution.
The second question is
what did the man want with TB5? Unlike the Hood, this guy apparently hadn’t
been much for monologuing. His true motivation had yet to be discovered. The
only clue they had was the commonalities between the Hood’s initial attack on
Virgil and the attack on the satellite. Both opponents had wanted access to
Virgil suggested that he
had quite a lot of capability in the that virtual world. Perhaps that was
unique to the z-band network, perhaps Il Maggot was looking for a staging site.
It was a viable theory
In any case, John, Brains
and Eos put up some massive firewalls. Literally. Eos claimed they burnt like
flame in virtual reality. She helped code them herself. And beyond that, a
breach switch. If any of the firewalls fell, the system rebooted and wiped
everything in active memory.
Including any invaders.
John built Eos a new home.
No longer would she be part of Thunderbird Five. She had her own servers,
equally firewalled off with restricted ports that could be disconnected
completely from the network at her will. And the servers were portable, though
physically secured against break in.
If Eos had to flee, she
had a safe box to hide in. And International Rescue could save her.
The remaining question was
Scott read the reports. Virgil
still hadn’t managed his beyond a verbal outline, his narcolepsy messing with
everything. That and the headaches. His brother said little, but Scott knew he
hadn’t gotten off lightly. This Magician character had gotten his teeth into Virgil
and although it was virtual, reality had taken a hit in any case.
The migraines continued
and painkillers were a blessing.
The question remained. Who
was behind this? What exactly did they want? And if another attack was
imminent, how could they defend themselves?
Scott suspected Virgil had
an answer and he knew he wouldn’t like it.
He watched his brother as
he once again woke, his eyelids fluttering. The flutter was almost immediately
replaced with a grimace of pain, but the moment those eyes caught his, the grimace
vanished, drawn inside and hidden.
Internally Scott sighed.
“How are you feeling?”
Brown eyes blinked at him.
“We need to talk.”
“Yes, we do. Listen, Scott
“No, Virgil, I have
something to say first.”
His brother swallowed his words,
and stared up at him. For just a moment, Scott saw those same eyes in a younger
face, attentively looking up at his amazing big brother with just that touch of
hero worship sparkling in their depths. It had been a while since he had seen
that kind of vulnerable faith in Virgil’s eyes. It had long ago morphed into a
strong respect and trust, more of equals, but Virgil was injured and in pain
and there it was.
Scott swallowed and forged
ahead. “I don’t want you to venture out into the network. No leaving your head.
No adventures of the electronic kind. I want you to stay where you belong. And
Virgil stared at him. “You
have got to be kidding me.”
“No, I’m not. You can not
do this to yourself.” Or to us.
He couldn’t take it
anymore. It would be the end of him.
“Scott, I may be the only
defence against this kind of attack. You can’t do this.”
“I can and I will. John,
Brains and Eos have set up security. It won’t happen again.”
“Yes, it will.” There was
fire in Virgil’s eyes.
“No, it won’t.”
“Yes, it will. You can’t
keep him out any more than you can keep me out. He is human, Scott. Just like
“How do you know?”
“I know. Trust me, I know.
He is the source of this technology.” Virgil pointed at his forehead. “He is
the cause of all of this and he will be back.”
“Me. TB5. He won’t take
this lying down. I hurt him, Scott. He is going to be pissed and the only
defence we have is me.”
“No! I have to protect
Eos! He will kill her!” Virgil scrambled to sit up in bed, his eyes closing for
just a moment in pain. Scott reached for him, but his brother brushed his hands
away, dragging his feet to sit on the side of the bed. He grabbed Scott by his
shoulders, his grip tight, almost painful. “You can’t ground me, Scott. You
can’t. I have to protect us.”
Anger flared inside his
“Scott, you can’t deny me
“You died, Virgil! I
“You have no choice. It is
my decision.” His fingers squeezed, passion in their strength. “I told you my
price, Scott. I can’t let him hurt us.”
Scott stared at him. His
little brother wanted to stand between his family and the darkness, lay himself
on the line. No one else could do it. Scott couldn’t do it. He could only
His throat was tight. One
of Virgil’s thumbs was rubbing circles into his shoulder. Brown eyes were
boring into his. The words escaped from him. “Virgil, I can’t-“
“You can, big brother.
I’ve got this.”
Anger flared once again,
but it fizzled fast. God, Virgil.
And then he was being
drawn into a hug, Virgil’s arms wrapping around him, pulling him in tight.
Whispered. “It will be okay.”
The room blurred with
sudden tears in his eyes and he quickly clamped them shut, dropping his head on
Virgil’s shoulder. God, please keep him safe.
They stayed that way for a
few moments, Virgil continuing to rub circles with his thumbs, attempting
comfort. It was only when the rubbing stopped suddenly and Virgil became a
heavy weight in his arms, that Scott realised sleep had once again claimed his
He clung just a moment
longer, before ever so gently supporting Virgil’s head and laying him back on
the bed. He lifted his legs, and covered him with the blanket, tucking him in
just like he had so many times before, so long ago.
A finger brushed stray
hair away from Virgil’s eyes. So young, so strong, so damned determined.
Something solidified in
So, Il Mago was human.
His lips thinned. Scott
couldn’t help his brother in the virtual world. But a human had to be human
He would find the bastard
and put an end to this.
Scott had his price, too.
A few weeks passed and
Virgil slowly got better. He now spent most of his time out of bed, pottering
around the house. The piano had been played several times. There was a new
painting in progress. He still had bad headaches, but they were fewer and
further apart, and the family had gotten used to finding their second eldest
sprawled out asleep on the couch, on the pool lounges, one time on the kitchen
bench and another curled up on the balcony. Eos kept an eagle eye on him,
alerting John should Virgil show any erratic behaviour or look to be drifting
off to sleep in a precarious position. He was banned from the hangars and
Thunderbird Two. The thought of what could happen to him should he fall asleep
while working on his still broken ‘bird…Scott had been adamant and Eos stood by
the commander on this one.
Virgil grumbled, but
She had also made sure he
hadn’t ventured anywhere near virtual reality. Not that he had tried, far too
tired most of the time to put in the effort, but Eos stood sentry just in case
he might get a fool idea into his head.
She and John had long
discussions about what had happened to Virgil. They also discussed what had
happened to her, but she trod that path very carefully, not sure how she felt
about the incident herself. Virgil broached the subject on several occasions
also, offering an ear for her to talk to, if and when she needed it. She spoke
a little, but felt she needed more time to process her reactions and the possibilities.
And to work out how to
find the man who had caused all this grief.
The Eldest had a very long
talk with her. He outlined his concerns for Virgil and interrogated her
regarding Il Mago, attempting to find every little piece of information that
might help locate him. This was something for which she was willing to ignore
her own troubles to achieve. They needed to know who he was. She found herself
forming a relationship with the eldest brother. It was different from those she
had with her father and Virgil, but for the first time, she felt for this
protective older, ever-worried Uncle. He was a man who would almost do anything
to protect his family, and she could thoroughly understand that now, as she
felt the same way. To protect Virgil, they teamed up. They would find the
source of all their pain and put an end to it.
As for Virgil himself…
She visited him regularly.
When John had first helped tend to her damaged code, despite his obvious
exhaustion, she had protested, claiming she would be fine until he rested. But
his urgency hadn’t only been for her, and the moment she had finally reached
for Virgil, she understood why.
His mind had been silent
and at first she had thought they were too late, that he had slipped away. That
he was gone.
But dashing through the
emptiness in a panic, she had finally heard that same piano music she had heard
the first time she had gone looking for him all those months before.
He was hiding.
There was no damage like
before. His neural network was strong and healthy. His brother had done a good
job caring for him.
This time she found that
it was his soul that had been injured. He was battered and bruised and hiding
But her presence had
startled him. He had enveloped her the moment he saw her, his embrace all
consuming, his happiness at seeing her well, radiating from him like a rising
She had clung to him just
as tightly, admonishing him for hiding and worrying his family.
Moments later she had
grabbed his hand and dragged him back to consciousness.
The pain and frustration
he had experienced since had been a trial, but he was getting better. Getting
back to being Virgil – creative, clever and dopey all rolled into one.
And more her Uncle than
Alan hated apologising. It
proved he had been wrong and Alan hated being wrong even more. But this time he
had screwed up so badly, he didn’t have a choice.
While Virgil was
recovering he had avoided the topic, but had attempted to make it up to his
brother by being the attentive person he hadn’t been all those months before.
Virgil attempted to question him on it, but he avoided answering simply because
he didn’t want to upset Virgil while he was recovering.
But now he was getting
better, Alan felt he could no longer hide and had to face the music.
Today Virgil was out on a
pool lounger soaking in some vitamin D to replace all that he had missed while
being stuck inside sleeping.
Alan swallowed his pride
and walked out onto the pool deck and took a seat next to Virgil.
“I owe you an apology.”
Virgil looked up at him,
questions on his face.
“Well, to be honest I owe
you a whole bunch of apologies, but since they are all related to my own
pig-headedness, I think I can summarise them together.”
“Alan, what are you going
Okay, time to jump in. “I
A puzzled frown. “About
“In what way?”
“You would never knowingly
hurt any of us, Virgil.”
“No, I wouldn’t. But you
never said I would.”
“I accused you of not
knowing what you were doing, of sabotaging Scott’s chute, Thunderbird Two,
everything that really had nothing to do with you.”
“Yes, you did.” Alan
flinched, but Virgil reached out a hand and touched his brother’s knee. “But
you were right to do so. You were right, Alan. I was a security risk. I knew
it. We all knew it. But none of us wanted to face up to it. We were damn lucky
the Maggot didn’t take advantage of me in quite that way. Who knows what damage
I could have done.”
“I wanted to send you away
from the island.”
“I almost left, Alan.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t know, I just wasn’t strong enough.”
Virgil looked up at him, vulnerability in his eyes. “I was terrified I would
hurt someone, but I was even more terrified to leave on my own. And for that,
it is me who should be apologising.”
Alan’s jaw dropped.
“Virgil, no way-“
“It would have been the
right thing to do, Alan.” His brother looked away. “But I couldn’t leave.” An
audible swallow. “At first it was because I was too ill. I couldn’t talk
properly, it was horribly embarrassing. Simple communication was just hard.
After that improved, I gave myself excuses. Each time I visited my doctor on
the mainland, I convinced myself to return despite the danger. I
couldn’t…you’re my family and I just…I’m sorry, Alan. I wasn’t strong enough.”
How the hell? Alan was
attempting to apologise for all his accusations, yet Virgil was apologising to
“You are unbelievable.”
Virgil frowned. “What?”
“You can not take
responsibility for the way I treated you.”
“I’m not. I’m simply
saying that you were right. I should have left.”
“No, I was wrong. I should
have supported you like the others.”
Virgil tilted his head to
one side. “What changed your mind?”
Alan looked down at his
feet for a moment. “You fought for me, didn’t you.”
“You bet your life I did.”
Another frown. “You doubted I would?”
“No, I doubted you could.”
There was silence for a
moment. Virgil sat up slowly, his eyes intense, and slid to sit on the side of
the lounger, facing Alan head on. Those eyes caught his and drilled in. “Alan,
I would give my last dying breath for you. If there is anything I can do to
protect you and our family, trust me, I will.”
Quietly. “I know.” He
looked down. “I should have trusted you.”
A hand on his arm. “You
did, and I betrayed that trust.” The hand squeezed. “You were right to doubt me
and I’m sorry.”
Alan grit his teeth. “Will
you stop apologising!”
Virgil flinched. The hand
dropped from his arm.
So Alan grabbed his
brother’s arms in a firm grip instead. “Virgil, I am trying to apologise to
you. I kicked you when you were down. I had no right. It wasn’t your fault, we
both know that. I just…it hurt to see you hurting, Virgil. I was angry. You’ve
always been the strong one. You were hurt bad and I…damnit! I was wrong, okay.
Virgil wasn’t looking at
him, his eyes unfocussed somewhere down to his right.
A shadow fell across them
Alan looked up to find
Scott between him and the sun. His eldest brother’s expression was somewhat
forbidding. “Virgil, you okay?”
Virgil looked up, his eyes
bouncing from Alan up to Scott. “Yeah, why?”
And then it clicked.
He glared up at Scott.
“What? Do you think I’d hurt Virgil?” A flash of anger. “What does she think I am capable of?”
“You’ve hurt him before,
Alan opened his mouth, but
nothing came out. Yes, he had.
“Oh, for the love of-“
Virgil shot to his feet, swaying slightly. Scott reached in, but Virgil shoved
him off and glared at him. “Alan was right to express his concerns. Yes, it
hurt. Sometimes the truth does that. Would he intentionally hurt me? No! He’s
my brother as much as you are.” The glare turned onto Alan. “Stop apologising.
Life sucks sometimes. I’ll get over it. It is in the past. You are my brother,
you’re forgiven.” The glare shifted slightly upwards. “As for you, young lady,
I can fight my own battles, thank you. I know you mean well, but Alan is my
brother and I trust him.” The glare returned to both of his brothers. “This
whole thing sucked. We all got hurt. I’m sorry for my part in it. Hopefully it
will be resolved as soon as possible and we can get on with what we do best –
Virgil turned, his foot
caught in the lounger and he kicked it away. Scott once again reached out to
steady him and Virgil again shook him off. A glancing glare and he stalked off,
frustration in every step.
Alan was left standing
next to Scott, jaw slightly ajar. “Sometimes, I really don’t understand him.”
His brother looked over at
him. “Remember that next time.” Scott turned and walked back into the house.
Alan swallowed and sat
back down on the lounge.
Maybe he should.
“Oh my god, she really was
At Gordon’s exclamation,
Scott looked up from the repair schedule and stared into the centre of the
comms room. It was midmorning and Gordon had been scanning through the news
reports. International Rescue still wasn’t up to par, repairs still required on
Thunderbird Two and Brains was still combing through the network looking for
any further damage caused by their intruder…or Virgil, apparently his presence
hadn’t been very kind in places either. Virgil claimed he had to learn somehow
and had just dug in to help repair damaged code.
“I can not believe it.
What the hell was she doing on that mountain?”
Scott frowned. “Who?”
“Fischler has a sister?”
“Apparently.” A report scrolled
across the holovid, a haughty woman was speaking at a press conference.
“How did we not know
that?” He hit a switch and hailed Thunderbird Five. “John, why didn’t we know
that Fischler has a sister?”
His brother appeared
floating above the desk, now dressed in his familiar blue uniform. A touch of
red was beginning to appear in his roots. It would be fantastic to have his
middle brother back to himself, both as a sign of Virgil’s recovery and simply
because he missed him. That and the blond hair was just as tragic this time as
it had been at his prom. John’s pale skin just did not support pale hair.
“We did know he has a
sister. Just like we know he also has a brother.”
“There’s more of them?!”
That was from Gordon. Scott looked up to see his horrified expression. “One is
“Well, someone has to keep
the money flowing in. Where do you think Fischler gets the funding for all his
Scott frowned. “I thought
he ran Fischler Industries.”
“I suspect he thinks he
does too. No, as far as I can tell, both his brother and sister are quite capable.
His sister manages the business, while his brother works in the technology
“So what the hell was she
doing on K2?”
John shrugged. “Climbing
“I’m sorry, John, but
trust me, she wouldn’t know how to climb a ladder, much less one of the highest
mountains in the world. She had no idea what she was doing.”
Virgil walked into the
room carrying a bowl of cereal. “Who has no idea?” A late breakfast,
reassuringly familiar. His brother was managing to sleep in like he used to and
Scott was ever thankful.
“Fischler has a sister?”
The holovid switched to a ‘gram
of a man. An ordinary man, nothing special. Dark hair, perhaps a little older
than Virgil. Unremarkable.
The cereal bowl smashed on
impact with the floor, milk splashed everywhere. The spoon bounced across to
the lounge, flinging oatmeal randomly through the holoprojection.
Virgil stood frozen, his
face sheet white.
Scott shot to his feet. “Virgil?!”
Gordon, who was closest,
jumped the lounge and slid to his brother’s side. “Hey, bro, talk to me, what’s
As if unconsciously,
Virgil reached out a hand and gripped his forearm, his eyes still fixed on the projection.
Voice parched. “It’s him.”
Gordon’s gaze flicked to
Scott and then back to the news cast.
Eos spoke before anyone
else found their voice. “Percival Fischler, youngest brother of Langstrom
Fischler, age 27 years, lead scientist at Fischler Industries, last month
hospitalised for a suspected stroke, still currently undergoing treatment, only
partial recovery expected.”
Virgil’s eyes were
haunted, his voice barely there. “Il Mago.”
And the moment broke.
Virgil stumbled, Gordon grabbing him. “I’m okay.” He stepped in milk. “Damn.” He
reached down to pick up the bits of broken bowl, but his hands were visibly
Scott took the steps to
his brother’s side and crouched down, grabbing his hands. “Don’t worry about it,
we’ll clean it up.”
Wide eyes peered up at him. “It’s him, Scott.”