Part Four of Il Mago
Sequel to Sotto Voce
21-24 Sep 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: 3965
Spoilers & warnings: Spoilers for Season 2 and Sotto Voce. Discussions of suicide.
Author’s note: This was painful to write. Between work snagging me, a day of ugh in there somewhere and five brothers who blew up in my face, it was a challenge. At this point I’m ready to throw my hands up over it and just let it out regardless. I’ve been staring at it far too long. I hope you find some enjoyment in it. I warn you, the angst meter exploded about halfway through the fic. I think I even managed to whump myself. ::wails:: Many thanks to @vegetacide who answered my frantic call despite the hour and helped me correct the flow of the fic and reassured me that I was doing okay 😀 (Thankyou International Writer Rescue :D)
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.
Her scream shot through
his mind like a bullet from a gun and suddenly she was everywhere.
He was breathing in the material
of her dress, his hair was aflame with her anger, his ears rung with her
No! you can’t have him!
There was light, searing
light, red hair, pale skin. Fire.
And an inky black.
It dripped between the
flames and where it touched him, it burned.
God, it burned.
He struggled pulling
backwards, but there was nowhere to go. There was no way out.
Eos screamed his name
And eyes so green, so like
her father’s, flashed in front of him, her expression one of pure terror. Virgil, no!
And he was being pulled
forward. He was being pulled out. The light was blinding.
NO! YOU CAN’T! A blanket of roaring sound washed
over him, taking all thought, taking everything.
He stumbled, a kiss
brushed his cheek, and his world burst into flame.
He burned. Everything
burned. A wind tore around him and whipped up all the darkness, wrapping it in
white fire. It spun into a whirlwind, its ferocity shredding all before it as
it tore away into the whiteness.
Virgil blinked and it was
all gone. Silence. There was only white, pulsating white, pulling gently.
His breath hitched.
No. No. He felt around.
She had to be here somewhere. EOS?!
He took a step backwards
and stumbled again.
This time he fell.
Scott yelped as his brother
sat up suddenly, narrowly missing a painful headbutt. But a moment later, he
had to hurriedly reach out and catch Virgil as he wavered, groaning.
“Eos, no. Hurts.” Virgil
pushed the palms of his hands into his eye sockets. “No. No. No. Please. No.”
“No. No. Eos. No.” There
was a note of hysteria in his voice so foreign to Virgil’s character, Scott’s
Shock-filled eyes looked
up at him. “She’s gone. I can’t find her. She’s gone!” Those eyes turned
inwards, darting around in panic. “She’s gone. She’s gone. I have to find her.”
And his brother’s eyes
rolled up in their sockets. This time Scott was able to catch him before he hit
There was white again.
He felt around. She had to
But there was nothing.
The white pulsed like a
He took a step in the
direction of its pull.
And found himself
And he was peering down. Down
into Thunderbird Five, his brother floating below. He blinked. “John?”
John looked up. “Virgil?”
The hub was drenched in
code. John couldn’t find Eos. She simply wasn’t there.
But there was a single
green light lit on her camera above.
He whipped up another
window, accessing Eos’ support systems, the cradle that kept her safe on
Thunderbird Five. The programs were functioning, but there was no sign of Eos.
Something else was being
cradled. A mess of non-code. It ran like a river across his screen, completely
He activated the
computer’s security regime.
“Ow! What the hell? It bit
me!” That single green light flickered.
And the code he had spent
so many hours writing to protect Thunderbird Five fragmented and collapsed. The
multi-level program corrupted beyond repair.
“John?” That green light
flickered again. “I can’t find Eos.”
John eyed the strange
non-code. “Virgil, where are you?”
The lights flickered.
Still no response.
John hit his comms.
“Scott, where is Virgil?”
The voice that answered
was hardly that of his level-headed eldest brother. “John? What happened?
Virgil is unconscious. He was yelling for Eos.”
The lights flickered again
and John swallowed. “I think he is up here.” Hesitant. “In the computer.”
“What?!” A harsh breath.
“How is that possible?”
Still looking around
somewhat nervously. “I don’t know.”
“As far as I can tell,
there was an attack. I think Eos intercepted it.”
“It came through
Thunderbird Five, but we weren’t the target.”
There was silence for a
“That would be my guess.”
A shaky indrawn breath. “And Eos intercepted it.”
“Is she okay?”
The question struck him
hard and he found himself struggling for control. “No.”
Quiet. “I can’t find her.”
It was starting to sink in now. Eos was gone, maybe forever. His heart skipped
a beat. Then another.
A disembodied hand
appeared on his shoulder and he startled, propelling himself backwards across
the room. The hand grew an arm, a shoulder, a familiar green baldric appeared,
blue uniform, solid boots, dark hair…all slightly transparent. A hologram.
“Are you okay?” It spoke,
its lips moving, but its baritone voice issuing from the speakers above.
Painfully familiar eyebrows were crumpling in concern. How the hell? “What?”
And it vanished.
The green light blinked
He was flung backwards and
the white returned. It pulsed at him mockingly.
But he no longer expected
And he found himself
surrounded by his brother. Scott was holding him. Gordon was staring at
him…fear on his face… “Gordon?” The sound of his own voice stabbed a knife
through his skull. “Augh.” He instinctively curled in on himself, his fingers
wrapping around his head, eyes squeezed tight. The pain throbbed at him
Quiet. “Virgil, you with
us?” A finger brushed the hair out of his eyes.
“Hurts.” God, it hurt.
Scott’s arms tightened around him. He forced himself to breathe, gain control.
“Eos. John.” He squeezed his eyes tight.
“John has it in hand.”
Even in his confused state, Virgil could hear the lie.
The arms around him pulled
him just a touch closer.
Gain control. His head
Gain control. He was sick
of being so weak and such a burden. He forced himself beyond the throb of his
head. “I have to-“
“Virgil, stay down.”
“No, I have to-“
Scott’s arms tightened,
but Virgil was stronger than his brother. He pushed him off gently, but firmly,
sitting up, his very bones protesting. “I have to find her.” TB2’s deck plating
dug into his butt.
“How?” Scott’s voice was
quiet, but desperate.
Virgil ran his hands over
his face, fingers catching in his hair. “I don’t know.” But he had to. “Need to
speak to John.” And with that he was struggling to his feet.
Two sets of hands helped
him up. “I’m okay.”
“No, you’re not.” Both
Scott and Gordon in harmony.
No, he wasn’t, but he’d
make the best of it. Pounding head or not.
John’s voice was fragile.
“I’ve lost her.”
Virgil sat on the lounge
just like he had that morning, but the situation was so different. No spritely
voice in his head, no laughter at his dopeyness, no niece in his head.
He closed his eyes.
A step and he was in the
white. It pulsed at him.
Another step and he was
once again staring down at John. “John?”
The floating figure
startled and spun to stare up at him. “Virgil, what are you doing?!”
“I’m so sorry.” He reached
out to his brother and his hand appeared. John flinched, but Virgil reached out
to touch him. He so wanted to hug him. “I’m so, so sorry.”
John had all the appearance
of a deer stuck in headlights. “Virgil, what are you doing?”
He started and stumbled
White and the pain
There were hands on his
shoulders. “What did you do?”
“He was here again.” John.
“How the hell is he doing
“That thing in his head.”
“State the obvious.”
“Someone had to say it.”
“And yes, it always has to
be you.” Gordon.
“No-one else here has the
“I warned you.”
“Is this a ‘I told you so’?
If so, save your breath.”
“So what are we going to
do now? Some asshole is out there who has got it bad for Virgil and doesn’t
care who gets in his way. Thunderbird Five’s security is down. Who gets shot
“I don’t see you offering
any suggestions.” Gordon’s tone was scathing.
“I had a solution and you
all shot it down!”
“Virgil stays here!” He
had never heard Gordon so angry.
“And look what happened!”
“Alan!” John’s voice
carried just that hint of space static, but it didn’t dull his fury. “Eos
discovered a third breach of security yesterday. It struck while the isolator
was on! It still reached Virgil, knocking him unconscious. If we had taken your
suggestion and exiled Virgil, cutting him off from Eos, they would have him and
he would likely be dead.”
There was silence after
that. Virgil’s heart pounded, the pain in his head echoing it. It was obvious.
If he had left, Eos would still be with them. He squeezed his eyes tighter.
“Virgil?” Scott’s voice
was quiet yet desperate.
“I’m sorry. So, so sorry.”
“Not your fault.” Gordon
“Doesn’t change the fact
that Eos is gone.” Eos is gone. The emptiness echoed in his head.
“Still not your fault.”
“What are we going to do?
We’re sitting ducks.”
Virgil opened his eyes and
latched them onto Alan. “Do you have any ideas, smart ass? Because other than
shooting myself in the head, I’m all out of options.”
Everyone froze. Alan went
“No, Virgil. Don’t even
think about it.” Scott looked as pale as Alan.
“Why not? You would be
safe.” His eyes returned to Alan. “It would answer all of Alan’s concerns.”
Alan opened his mouth.
And Scott broke. “NO!” It
was like the snapping of a tree in a storm. His blue eyes screamed pain and
they were in Virgil’s face, hands on his arms. “DON’T YOU DARE!” Scott was
shaking him, his grip hurt.
And then his brother was
being dragged away, Gordon yelling his name. Alan had his other arm. His
brothers forced Scott to sit down, Gordon shoving Alan out of the way to sit in
front of him. “Scott, c’mon Virgil didn’t mean it.”
“Didn’t he?” There were
tears in Scott’s voice. “Don’t you dare, Virgil. Don’t even think about it. We
don’t give up. We will beat this bastard, together.” The words were rote. His
brother falling back on their automatic mantra in distress.
He started, his thoughts
immediately turning inwards.
But no, it wasn’t his
niece. The voice was distinctly male. A familiar voice.
He looked up at his
brother in his hologram. He spoke his name again and it echoed in his head.
Terror flared up. John was in his head.
It is just me, Virgil, just my voice. I promise. We need to work
out how this all works. We need to find a way to defend you.
I tracked you. I’m sending a simple data transmission. Voice only.
If we can work out how this works, we can work out a way to prevent unwanted
He fought back the bile.
John was right. He stared at his brother’s hologram. The expression on his face
was full of sadness and apology, but underneath that was love. He never thought
it could be so blatant, particularly from his stoic, calm brother, hair blond,
uniform black, simply because he cared.
“Guys.” His brothers
looked up. “Do me a favour and tell me that that is John.”
Scott’s eyes were red and
it was Gordon who stood up and walked over to the holoprojector and checked the
signal’s origin. “Yep, that is definitely Johnny.”
We can beat this, Virgil. I promise you.
The intensity in his holographic eyes reached across the room and imprinted
itself on his soul. You hang in there,
And it was okay. For all
of twenty seconds, when the signal from Thunderbird Five was cut dead.
“You are not going.” Scott
glared down at Virgil. “You are staying here.”
“Doing what? Staring at
the ceiling?” They had not been able to contact John, so a launch of
Thunderbird Three was imminent, Alan and Scott to check on their brother.
“Recovering and staying
“I thought we had already
decided that I am not safe, wherever I am.”
Scott ignored him, instead
turning his attention to Gordon. “You stay with him. Make sure he stays put.”
There was no hint of
humour on Gordon’s face, leaving it stark. “Will do my best.” He wrapped a hand
around Virgil’s arm. “C’mon, bro.”
Virgil continued to glare
at Scott. “You let me know the minute you find him. I want status updates every
Scott pressed his lips
together. “I will do my best.” He turned and sat on the lounge chair that would
take him to TB3 and Virgil watched while the floor swallowed his eldest and his
youngest brothers whole.
Ninety seconds later,
Thunderbird Three burst forth from the round house, her exhaust drenching the
outcrop, her roar echoing in his bones.
He sat back down on his
couch and with a glance at Gordon, closed his eyes.
Gordon’s voice was
pleading. “You know what I mean. Don’t you dare.”
“I’m not sitting here
doing nothing. He’s my brother, too.”
“Don’t you think I know
that. YOU are my brother. God, Virgil, how many times do we have to lose you?!”
Virgil swallowed. “I’m
sorry, Gordon. I’m…” Frustration. “I’m just sick to death of being the
liability.” And there was anger. Long supressed anger. “I’m not standing by.
Gordon stared at him,
emotion swirling in his brown eyes. “Virgil, please don’t.” He was pleading.
Standing up, Virgil walked
over to his brother and placed his hands on his shoulders. “Gordy, I have to.
I’m not letting anyone else get hurt because of me. No more. Eos…Eos gave
everything, I…I can’t let any of you…anyone, sacrifice anymore.”
Gordon gripped his arms.
“You don’t know what it will do to you! And what the hell do you think you can
do when you get up there? You don’t even know if you can get up there. Communication
has been cut.”
At this point he no longer
cared. “I have to try, Gordy.” Whisper quiet. “I have to.” He turned away,
walking back to the couch.
“At least do this in the
infirmary where I can monitor you.”
Virgil stared at his
brother. In the infirmary Gordon could sedate him.
“Please.” Gordon stepped
closer. “I can’t lose you again.” His hand caught Virgil’s elbow.
Searching his brother’s
eyes, Virgil eventually nodded once. It was a matter of trust.
That one brother wasn’t
willing to knock out the other, be it fist or tranquiliser.
Without another word, they
made their way to the infirmary. Entering the tomb of a place, Virgil felt his
mood drop even further. He had grown to hate this room.
Gordon groaned. “Scott’s
going to kill me.”
Virgil managed half a
smile at his brother. “Don’t worry, I’ll take the steam out of him first.”
“Assuming you’re alive to
run interference.” Gordon’s tone was fatalistic.
Virgil’s smile disappeared.
Gordon looked up at him. “Make
sure you come back otherwise it is my life that won’t be worth living. I’m
still not convinced I shouldn’t just knock you out. It will be me who has to
live with this, Virgil.” Quiet. “Please, I’m not sure I could.”
It was almost enough to
stop him. The thought of Gordon…no he had to do this. “It will be fine.” A
sigh. “And what if it turns out that I could have helped and our brothers were
hurt because I didn’t?”
“We don’t know enough
about the situation yet.”
“Exactly. That is what I
need to find out.”
Gordon’s face fell cold. “Okay.
Virgil eyed him, but then
climbed onto the bed. The bed’s automatic monitoring equipment engaged, the
soft beep of his nervous heartbeat danced around the room. He settled onto his
back. “Not your fault, Gordy. I would do this anyway.”
Virgil raised an eyebrow. “Language,
“You better be okay or I’ll
kick your artistic ass.” Gordon’s eyes were glistening.
Grabbing his hand, he
dragged his brother close. “I’ll be fine.” A nervous swallow. “Love you, Gords.”
Virgil just squeezed his
hand and closed his eyes.
The white was no longer
It was streaked with black
and it pulsed erratically. Something had been damaged, but Virgil didn’t know
enough to know what or how or even why. Hell, he didn’t even know where this
was, other than Eos used to be here.
He took a step in the
direction he thought he had gone before. A stumble and he was in that other
place, hovering in the circuitry of Thunderbird Five, its white space as
streaked with black, if not more than the space previous.
The hub room was below
him, but unlike before, it was dark, lit only be emergency lighting. He felt
around. He knew how TB5 worked. While Brains had designed her, Virgil had had
considerable input, not to mention performing maintenance from time to time.
While he didn’t know her an intimately as his ‘Bird, he knew her well.
Just not usually from this
There was power, he could discern
that much. But he was guessing it was emergency power only. He stretched
himself out, feeling for her controls. They had to be here somewhere. Eos had
access, so he should too.
He reached…and pulled up
another view, this one of the gravity ring. It was spinning slowly, almost
Earth normal. John liked his gravity light and in small doses.
Another reach and he found
one of the external cameras. In the distance he saw a smudge of red emerging
from the atmosphere.
He hurried up. He hadn’t
found John yet. He got a good feel for flicking between views. Moments later he
worked out how to move the cameras.
And he found John.
On the floor of the hub room,
Scanners. Hook into his
suit. Get vitals. He fumbled, looking for controls, attempting interface with
software that wasn’t designed for his touch. Gentle, ever so gentle.
There. Read out. Alive.
Thank god. Oxygen low. Shit. He didn’t have his helmet on. Where’s the damn atmosphere
Another flurry of frantic
manipulation of digital switches and fresh air once again flowed into the hub
room. He confirmed the seal on the door, digging up the readouts outside of the
room only to find that oxygen was low across the station.
Who the hell had done this
“Thunderbird Five, Thunderbird
Three on approach. Please respond.” Alan.
Another fumble. Outgoing
communication controls. He frowned. They were inoperative. Reaching beyond the
controls and throwing himself into the code. Damn, a loop virus, catching the
signals and stalling them in an eternal loop within the system. I swipe of
anger and he obliterated the malicious code. A flick of a paintbrush and he rewrote
the script that opened a channel.
“Thunderbird Five to Thunderbird
Three. We have a malicious digital incursion. Repeat a malicious digital
incursion, do not dock.”
“Virgil? What the hell?” A
predictably angry Scott.
“Kill me later. John is
down. We need you in here.”
And he did, streaming clean
code towards the huge red craft coming to a halt just off TB5’s starboard bow.
“It’s not Gordon’s fault.”
“You are damned right it’s
Yeah, if this little
adventure didn’t kill him, Scott was likely to do him the honour. “I’m sorry, I
“We will discuss this
“FAB.” Or not so much. “He’s
in the comms hub room. I’ve sealed the door. Oxygen content is low throughout
the station. Clear signs of a digital incursion, purpose unclear. I’m….still
working out how to do this.”
“No. I need to be here.”
The silence at the end of
the comm signal was ominous. He was so dead.
Why did he feel like a
little kid who had followed his big brother to the fair?
“Gordon says your
lifesigns are minimal. You are scaring the shit out of him, Virgil.”
That hurt. “Get in here,
A pause. “Virgil, tell me
who you found behind the barn in 2056.”
He thought a moment. “Peppers.”
Now he hadn’t thought of that poor little cat in years. “Now get in here.”
He didn’t have to say it
as a split second later, one of TB3’s arms extended and magnetically locked to TB5’s
hull. Not in docking position, but directly attaching onto the comms module.
Two figures appeared, one in blue-gray, the other streaked with red. and pulled
themselves along the length of her arm, aiming for the docking module.
Virgil crawled through the
circuitry, reaching for the docking controls. A flick of a finger and the outer
airlock opened. His brothers entered and he cycled the lock before jumping to
the sensors in the docking corridor.
Blue eyes snapped up at
the camera the moment he connected.
Nothing was said. He followed
them through the centre of the satellite.
Scott was almost paralytic
with fury. How could Virgil do this to them?
As he pushed himself down
the corridor towards the hub room, lights flickered on. A distorted version of
his brother’s voice spoke over the comms. “Returning atmosphere mix to normal.”
Doors opened as they
approached. Alan hadn’t said a thing, but he was eyeing the camera that was
following them suspiciously.
They found John
half-conscious in the hub room. He was calling for Eos. A quick examination revealed
a small head injury. Alan grabbed a spinal board and neck brace, securing his
“Checking logs.” Virgil
sounded preoccupied. “A digital incursion cut communications, quickly followed
by a forced evac of atmosphere. Damn. John managed to seal himself in here, but
not before being thrown across the room.”
“Any sign of the intruder.”
“Plenty, this place is
streaked in black.”
He blinked. “Repeat,
“The white of this place
is streaked in black.” A pause. “Very little proof in the code. John will need
to look at it.”
Okay. Explanation later. “We
need to evac John to Thunderbird Three. I need you to go home, Virgil.”
But Thunderbird Five shook
and the hub room shifted several feet sideways. Alan and John collided with him,
throwing them all into an uncontrolled spin.
Virgil sensed it before he
realised what was happening.
A bolt of energy tore
towards the station, targeting the single leg Thunderbird Three had connected
to the satellite. It hit in a blinding flash, its power not enough to sever the
leg, but enough to dislodge its magnetic connection to TB5 and cause a rebound
that shifted the station sideways. TB3 spun in the opposite direction, tumbling
“Alan, grab Thunderbird
Three, we’re under attack!”
He tore through the
satellite, pulling up information as he moved. Cameras and sensors reported a
small ship approaching on their bow. Virgil threw down all the security he
could find on all the airlocks. He sought out thruster controls, checked power
reserves and brought the gravity ring to a halt.
There were no weapons on
TB5, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t equipment that could be used as such.
Eos had taught them much the day they had met.
The ship was tiny in
comparison to TB3. Three lifesigns registered on sensors. Virgil checked on his
brothers. John was secured. Alan was stabilising TB3. Scott was speaking on his
“Guys, I think we are
about to be boarded. Three lifesigns.”
The small craft approached
and, without hesitation, latched itself onto Thunderbird Five’s comms module.
Sparks flew as it cut
into her hull.
End Part Four.