Yes, this is the whole chapter 😀 Not the last chapter, either, but a crucial one.
Title: Vengeant Chorus
Chapter Four of Sotto Voce
30 Aug – 2 Sep 2018
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Summary: Sometimes the voices are far too loud to ignore.
Word count: 3300
Spoilers & warnings: Spoilers for Season 2
Author’s note: And now finally some answers. Thank you so much to all of your for your continued yells (and occasionally howls 😀 ) of encouragement. I’m thoroughly enjoying writing this, but sharing it with you is a large part of that enjoyment. I hope this gives you as much enjoyment as you have given me ::hugs:: And yeah, another cliffhanger, but not as desperate as before. Not the last chapter, but crucial nonetheless :
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.
“No! No, I won’t!” Virgil clutched his head and screamed. He crumpled in his seat, tears squeezed from the corners of his scrunched-up eyes.
Brains’ throat hurt, but he didn’t have time to acknowledge the pain. He took advantage of Virgil’s sudden impairment and hurriedly disabled Thunderbird Two to prevent the ill engineer from commandeering her again. He secured her with a sixteen-digit encrypted password and lowered the hatch to allow a panicked Scott on board.
The eldest Tracy leapt into the cockpit before the hatch could fully rise, just in time to catch his brother as his back arched in spasm and he fell sideways out of the pilot’s chair, his scream strangling to a gurgle as he seized.
Scott dragged him free of the dash, laying him out on the floor of TB2, giving him room as his body tensed even further, before curling in on itself. Virgil gasped, his eyes wide and darting back and forth before suddenly latching onto Scott. Voice whisper-hoarse. “I-I w-will NOT!”.
And he choked out another scream.
Virgil’s pain echoed off the bulkheads of his beloved Thunderbird.
Scott caught his head and shoulders in his arms, desperately attempting to support his brother as he struggled.
Brains ran to one of the first aid lockers, dragged out a heavy-duty supply kit and grabbed a sedative. Checking the preloaded hypodermic dose, he prepped the needle and moving back to the two brothers, he unzipped Virgil’s uniform, revealing his undershirt. Scott. realising what Brains was attempting to do, dragged the neck of his brother’s shirt down, exposing his shoulder. The injection was quick and ignored by Virgil.
Brains clambered back to the first aid kit and followed it up with an appropriate painkiller.
It took minutes, but it felt like hours. Ever so slowly Virgil’s torn and hoarse screams weakened, his body slowly relaxing against his brother. His struggle reduced to trembling and he shrank in on himself, his body shaking in shock and remnant pain.
He repeated the word ‘no’ over and over again, his voice barely audible, until a last shudder and his eyes rolled up in his head, his body falling limp.
“Virgil?” Scott’s voice cracked. He reached for his brother’s pulse, and apparently found it. A pained sob and Scott Tracy drew his unconscious brother close, and rocking in place, let the tears run down his face.
It was like flicking a switch. There was pain, so much pain.
And then nothing.
For some time, there was only darkness. Then there was grey, like just before dawn on an overcast day. Virgil became aware slowly. It crept up on him. He felt disconnected, foggy, as if part of his body had shut down, leaving the rest adrift. At some point he found he could see, but he didn’t remember opening his eyes.
He looked around. He needed to escape, get away. But there was only grey.
And out of that grey walked his younger brother.
John was dressed in his uniform, thin and lithe as ever, but there was something in his stance, something in his expression that screamed not-John.
“I won’t do what you ask.” Virgil’s voice lacked its usual strength and it trembled. Pull yourself together! And with that thought, clarity slid into place, his hands appearing out of the fog, his own uniform blue against the grey.
John looked down his nose at him. “There is no need any longer. This experiment has failed.”
A ghost of frown. “Experiment?”
The other man paused, his expression distant for a moment then calculating. “But then a failure doesn’t necessarily mean all is lost. You may have use yet.”
Something inside clenched. “I will not.”
John smiled. “You don’t get to choose.”
Scott stared at the holographic scan of his brother’s brain and was numb. He had nothing left. There was nothing. No strategy. No solution. Simply nothing.
A thin fibrous network of connections spiderwebbed across Virgil’s frontal lobe. Faintly silver in shining holographic light.
“What is it?” His voice was empty.
Brains didn’t answer, his eyes downcast. It took John, his voice bleak, quite some time to answer instead. “We’re not sure. It appears technological, but it also appears to have grown in place.”
“Why didn’t the scans at the hospital pick it up?” Virgil had had a CT scan after the hydrofoil incident to check for the cause of his headaches and had found nothing.
“We don’t know that either. Perhaps it was too small at the time.”
“What is it doing?”
“As far as we can tell, it is interfacing with Virgil’s brain.” John’s eyes dropped down to his unconscious and prone brother. “From what little we have observed, it appears to be trying to control him.”
John audibly swallowed and glanced at Brains. “We believe the Hood is responsible.” Scott visibly flinched. “It makes sense. We’ve tracked as much of Virgil’s recent activity as we possibly can. He had managed to upload several schematics to an unknown address, as well as attempting to kidnap Brains and steal Thunderbird Two.”
“The attack at the flooded river. The knife was a transport for nanotechnology.”
Scott looked up. “What?”
“It was a delivery system for an infection of nanites.” John’s eyelids lowered a little. “Think of them as nano-mechas.”
Scott stiffened. “The Mechanic?”
“P-possibly, but I d-don’t think so.” Brains brought up another hologram, a swarm of miniature mechanical bugs appeared to be building something. Something silver. “The t-technology is different. The underp-pinning design differs from his st-standard approach. If it is The H-hood, I suspect he has a-another player.” A pause. “And th-there is the device the Hood was us-using to attempt to control the M-mechanic.”
“Can we disable it?”
The following silence was far too telling.
Finally, John spoke quietly. “It is unlikely.”
Scott’s gut was as cold as ice. “Find a way.”
His not-brother had left shortly after his announcement, Virgil apparently of little interest now he had some new scheme up his sleeve.
For his part, Virgil still felt disconnected, as if something was happening above and beyond all the grey, something important, but he couldn’t quite focus.
And where the hell was he anyway?
At first, he was cautious, slipping through the fog simply looking to find a way out, but the longer there was nothing, the less he feared and the more he tired. Just grey on grey on grey.
He wanted to go home.
And suddenly he was standing beside the pool on Tracy Island.
The sky was that same fog grey, but a breeze blew off the ocean, rippled the water and stirred the palm fronds far above.
He felt his tension ebb somewhat. He took a step and his boot made contact with the decorative concrete. Another step and he was moving. He ran up the steps to the kitchen, dashing through the familiar rooms. Up the stairs to the comms room, his eyes tracking the familiar portraits, the lounge, his piano…
Up to the main house, past the bedrooms, his studio, the gym… the house was empty. Where was everyone?
Eventually he returned to the comms room and walked out onto the balcony. The sea breeze played with his hair.
And he knew. He knew it in his heart, this wasn’t home. He wasn’t sure what it was, but just like his not-brother, it wasn’t what it seemed.
He sat down on the very edge of the balcony, his feet dangling. Somewhere out there were his brothers, he could feel it.
He just didn’t know where.
Telling Alan, Gordon and his Grandmother about Virgil broke something in Scott. Explaining that their second eldest brother and grandson, their gentle artist and engineer, had something growing on his brain, likely put there by the Hood, and likely purely to steal their technology, hurt deep in his chest. The resulting expressions on their faces hurt even more.
They had questions and Scott had no answers. John came out of the infirmary and answered as much as he could, but the best he could do was wrap his arms around his grandmother and hold her. Scott ended up with his arms full of Alan while staring at the horrified expression on Gordon’s face – an expression that fast shifted to one of pure fury.
The fire that lit up the aquanaut’s eyes screamed retribution, and the fists clenched at his sides shook. “He can’t– He-…No more, Scott. This ends here!” Gordon spun around and left.
Scott made a futile attempt to grab his brother, but perhaps part of him really did want that same retribution, and he missed. He left his arm drop.
A calm, feminine voice echoed across the room. “John?”
“We have received a message. I believe it is from the person known as the Hood.”
Scott stiffened and Alan straightened up, a hand rubbing across his face.
John kept his arms around his grandmother. “Thank you, Eos, please relay.”
There was a moment of crackling static and then an all too familiar voice spoke over the comm. “No doubt you’ve discovered my little project by now. Since your brother refused to deliver, we will now have to do it the hard way. I want the schematics for all the Thunderbirds, your equipment, your core technologies and full access to Thunderbird Five. The alternative is to watch your brother die a thoroughly painful death. He is mine, to do with him what I will. I suggest you do not test me. You have until sundown.” A snort of derision. “Tracy Island time.” And the message cut off.
Virgil didn’t know how long he sat there staring out across the grey sea. As time went on some of the fog in his thoughts began to clear. But as it leached away, an ache replaced it. Something deep inside was hurting.
It was so quiet here. The only sounds were the breeze and the distant roar of the ocean, muted by the underbrush. No birds, no voices, no laughter. This was definitely not his home.
A flicker of light flashed near the pool. Virgil frowned. Another flash, soft white light, and then a girl appeared out of thin air.
She was young, wearing a simple white dress, almost Grecian in appearance. She stood there a moment, briefly looking down at herself, before looking up and around, obviously looking for something.
The moment her eyes caught his, something sparked. He felt an immediate connection to the girl. He knew her. He didn’t know how, he didn’t recognise her, but there was something familiar.
She was climbing the steps up into the kitchen.
She was coming for him.
John stared at his brother. Virgil lay on a bed in the infirmary, his face slack, his expression calm. Both the sedative and the painkiller should have worn off some hours ago, but there had been no sign of consciousness. Brains had hooked up an EEG, the delicate net of electrodes were woven into Virgil’s hair, leaving it sticking up in all directions.
It may have looked ridiculous, but its results were extremely reassuring. While he was unconscious, Virgil was still in there. His eyes darted under his lids, and the EEG graphed good activity throughout the expected waveband.
In fact, looking at him, you would think he was simply asleep. There was no outward sign of the horror the scan had revealed. The silver spiderweb embedded in his brother’s brain had no obvious presence.
Except for the erratic extra signal on the readout, pixels dancing as it did whatever it was doing.
John reached out and gently ran a finger across his brother’s cheek.
Virgil was his big brother.
Scott was the big brother, but Virgil was his big brother. He had shared moments of his life with Virgil he had shared with no other. The gentle artist of the family always had the time for him, always taking that extra moment, showing love in the doing of things.
And now John couldn’t do anything to help him.
His finger brushed his brother’s temple.
To think a man who gave everything to everyone else, a man who jumped into burning buildings, dug under mountains, jumped out of aircraft and flew around the world at the hint of a chance to save a life, could have his taken from him by a petty thug.
He had seen Virgil save so many people, risk his life for so many…John’s fist clenched at his side.
He had no idea how to remove the spiderweb and knew of no way to protect his brother from further pain. Or injury. Or death. He had nothing. Brains had hopes for a jamming device, but they hadn’t even been able to detect exactly how the Hood was in communication with Virgil. There was also the possibility of an EM pulse, but they both had doubts about that – the spiderweb had an organic component to its structure.
And even if they did find a way to disable it, they had no idea how it would affect Virgil. The thing was embedded in and communicating with the organ that made Virgil the cherished person he was. How much damage would be caused by the device’s demise?
None of them were brain surgeons and they had no time to get Virgil to one.
Was International Rescue and its technology worth Virgil’s life?
John thought back to the hydrofoil incident and wondered if that was the moment where Virgil realised what was happening to him. He had flipped the craft on purpose. Had he tried to sacrifice himself? Kill himself off before it could get any worse?
Were the secrets worth his life?
He could almost hear Virgil’s resounding ‘Yes!’ echo in the room. But he didn’t need to listen to it because he had signed the same document Virgil had when they formed International Rescue. No brother was worth the danger their technology would present in the wrong hands. And there were no hands more wrong than those of the Hood.
Were the secrets worth losing his brother?
Please , no!
His fingers caught in dark hair.
Automatic. “Yes, Eos?”
“I have a possibility.”
He stood up as she approached, stepping back defensively.
“Hello, Virgil.” Her voice was calm, but strong. And familiar.
“Who are you?”
She raised an eyebrow, at ease as if she had always had one. “I am the dawn.”
“Eos?” He stared her up and down. She was short, petite with flaming red hair. Something about her glowed, including the simple white dress. “How?”
“You are unconscious in the IR infirmary. The Hood has implanted some circuitry in your brain in an attempt to control your actions. He is threatening your death in three point six four hours if we do not hand over information regarding our equipment.”
Virgil’s eyes widened and he took another step back. Part of him knew this, somewhere in the fog the information was available, but it was hard to reach. “But how?” He indicated her form with his eyes.
She smiled. “Do you like it? I haven’t tried this before. It is quite exciting.” She twirled a moment, her dress flaring out. But she caught his expression and her smile vanished. “You don’t like it?”
“You look lovely, Eos. But how did you get here?”
She spoke fast. Firstly, to convince the brothers, particularly the Eldest who appeared to be at his breaking point. And secondly to convince herself and get the plan moving before she backed out in terror.
“If you set up the necessary connections, I should be able to interface with the invasive circuitry. It is my hope to be able to discover both the methods and what the Hood is doing to Virgil and find a way to prevent his interference.”
The Eldest’s expression was bleak, but for the first time in hours, it held just a hint of hope. “How would you connect with it? This thing is inside his skull.”
“Through the EEG. The process will damage the machine, but it should give me enough electrical interface to cross the intervening flesh and bone to make contact.”
The Eldest swallowed and paled just that little more. “How will that affect Virgil?”
“While all effects are unknown as this has never been done before, initially there may be some surface damage due to the small electrical current, hence the reason for spreading the load across the entire EEG array, rather than on one focal point.”
“How will that effect his brain function?”
“The current will be small. It is my hope that there will be little interference. My aim will be to connect to the artificial circuitry, not his biological circuitry. It will not be random, it will be part of me. Once I have connected, I will access the device’s communication ports, as it must have some kind in order to be in contact with the Hood and I will highjack it for our use and hopefully block the Hood in the process.”
She sighed. “I know what is at stake, Scott. I will do my best. I have no wish to harm him. In fact, I have no wish to do this at all, it will not be easy for me either.” More like terrifying. “I see no other alternative.” A pause. “Please remember that you are not the only one who cares for Virgil Tracy.”
He looked up at her at that, something indecipherable on his face.
John stepped up to his brother and put a hand on his shoulder. The Eldest wilted just a few millimetres. “We have no choice, Scott.”
“I know.” Scott’s voice was quietly defeated. “Do it.”
“And here I am.” She twirled again before turning once again to face him. “However, I did not expect this.”
“This cocoon you’ve hidden yourself in.” She waved a hand around at the island. “You’ve built yourself a fortress, Virgil.”
“I almost didn’t find you.” She raised a hand again waving at something beyond the island. “Everything is chaos beyond this bubble. You have pain, damage, anguish. But not here.” She looked around in amazement. “I have never quite seen it from this perspective before.” She frowned. “It is very distracting.”
She stepped back a moment, closing her eyes. “John?”
Virgil stared, then took his own step backwards. John was bad.
Something rumbled far off in the sky.
Her eyes shot open. “You denied me connection.”
“You blocked my signal to your brothers. Why?”
“I-“ He took another step backwards, suddenly fearful.
Another rumble from the sky. The fog grew darker.
“Who are you?”
“Yes, who are you?”
Virgil froze, his skin crawling. John was walking towards them across the air five metres above the water of the pool. Virgil took an instinctive step backwards, automatically shoving the girl behind him.
His non-brother stepped onto the balcony and stopped, his expression calculating. “It appears we have a little party crasher in our midst.”
“Get out.” The guttural sound came from deep in Virgil’s throat, his body tensed, angled to fight.
“I don’t think so, Virgil. This is after all my playground now.”
“Leave.” It was no more than a snarl.
Something flared behind Virgil and Eos stepped out, her hair blazing, her eyes aflame. “How dare you!”
He reached to grab her. “No!”
She brushed him gently away. Her small body sparking energy as she approached his non-brother, fury in her every step. “How dare you wear my father’s image. How dare you hurt my family.” Her hands lit up with fire, her body aflame. “No more.”
End Part Four.