The ramblings of a Nut who should be doing something else – Adelaide, South Australia

Voice of Solace

Title: Voice of Solace
Chapter Six of Sotto Voce
Author: Gumnut
4 – 7 Sep 2018
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Rating: Teen
Summary: Sometimes the voices are far too loud to ignore.
Word count: 5286
Spoilers & warnings: Spoilers for Season 2, minor character death.
Author’s note: Okay I have been staring at this too long, so here have the last chapter of this fic. There will likely be a short epilogue – I think there is a need for Virgil and Scott to have a chat.I really hope this lives up to your expectations, and thank you so much for such a fun ride. Your support has been amazing and motivational and you are all wonderful ::many hugs::

Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.

It was still raining. The wooden decking had a thin film of
water across it, each raindrop splashing on impact, fracturing its reflection
of the grey sky. The water soaked into his flannel shirt, sticking it to his
skin. It dripped down the side of his face, running sideways across his cheek
to drip off the edge of his nose.

He lay there for a moment, limp, all energy expended,
nothing left. But Virgil Tracy had been here before, been at the end of
everything, but still needing to do more.

So he did.

“Eos?” His voice was little more than a whisper.

She lay crumpled in the rain. Her simple white dress laced
with scorch marks and sodden in the downpour. Forcing himself to move, he
dragged his body across the boards inch by painstaking inch until his fingers
could touch her, until he could see her face, until he could wrap his arms
around her.

At first, she didn’t respond and he felt the very last of
himself slipping away, but then her eyelids fluttered and she looked up at him.

“I have to go. N-need to repair…” Her eyes closed again
and she frowned. “Uncle, come with me?” Her eyes opened as his widened.

“Where?”

“I-I can’t leave you here. Come with me?” And her voice grew
stronger. She reached up a hand and touched his face. “Let me save you?”

His heart clenched. “You already have.”

“Then trust me, Virgil. Please come with me.”

He took her hand in his and held her close. “Okay.”

She smiled sadly. “I’m so sorry.”

And then his world dissolved into chaos.

-o-o-o-

Scott had his elbows on the bed, Virgil’s hand gripped in
both hands and held to his dropped forehead, his eyes closed.

Every muscle was tensed, his body trembling just slightly.

Eos’ tirade had cut off suddenly. She had been relaying
situational reports laced with cursing, one moment calm, the next threatening
their unseen intruder, then suddenly nothing.

He could hear John wrestling with his tablet, desperate to
drag more information from it. “She’s taken program damage.”

Scott looked up and met a pair of worried green eyes. He
watched John swallow, his gaze flicking between Virgil’s slack face and his
tablet.

There was a gasp from the bed.

Virgil’s eyes were open.

Scott shot to his feet. “Virgil?”

His brother’s brown eyes latched onto him, panic in their
depths. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but was suddenly distracted
by John shooting to his feet on the other side of the bed.

A flash of recognition.

Scott yelped as his brother scuttled sideways off the bed
and into his lap. The chair collapsed backwards and he was lucky he didn’t
whack his head on the floor. As it was, his brother was heavy and for a moment
he couldn’t breathe.

There was an incoherent yell of terror and Virgil clambered
off him. Scott rolled off the chair, coughing and pushed himself to his knees.

Blocked from the door, Virgil jammed himself into the corner
of the room, squeezing himself up as small as he could get, his hands over his
head clutching at where the EEG pads had been torn from his hair.

He whimpered.

John stood at the end of the bed, hope and fear warring on
his face.

“John?”

“Eos! Are you okay?”

“You must leave the room.” When his brother didn’t
immediately respond, she added, “Now. I will explain.”

John looked at Scott, at Virgil, who flinched and tried to
crawl into the wall, before nodding once and leaving the room.

Scott edged towards his brother, reaching out a hand to
touch his shoulder. Virgil flinched looking up, fear and pain on his face.
“Sc-t?”

Gently. “C’mere.”

And he found his arms full of shaking brother. Virgil’s
forehead dropped to Scott’s shoulder. “I-“ A harshly indrawn breath. “G-d.” A
sob. “H-rts.” His whole body shuddered, and he was crying. The heart-breaking
sobs of a man forced far beyond his limits.

Scott held him tighter, squeezing his own eyes shut, a tear
of his own running down his cheek.

-o-o-o-

“The Hood disguised himself as you.”

“What?”

“The transmission that attempted to compel your brother to
betray International Rescue manifested as you. Virgil has been seeing a
hallucination of you. It was you who has been coercing him and you who tortured
him when he did not obey.”

John’s mouth fell open, his voice stuck in his throat,
horror welling.

“I’m sorry, John, but you will need to stay away from Virgil
for a while.”

“But-“

“Please listen to me on this. You did not see what I saw. He
is so hurt, Father.” A pause. “We almost lost him. He was dying. He had nothing
left. I-“

“Eos.”

“I’m sorry, John. I’m not myself. I need to make some
repairs.” Another pause. “Please ask the second youngest to attend them. Excuse
me.”

And with that, she was gone.

-o-o-o-

Some time had passed, but he didn’t know how much.
Everything was confusing. He couldn’t think straight.

He opened his eyes to cloth. Breathing cloth.

God, his head hurt. He groaned and shut his eyes again.

“Virgil?” The quiet enquiry vibrated the shirt against his
ear. A name belonged to that voice. A precious name.

“Sc-t?” His voice slurred. There were fingers in his hair.
Ow. He fisted his hand in the cloth.

“Speak to me, Virgil.” Quietly demanding.

“Wh-t d you w-nt m t say?” Augh, the words slurred sideways,
his tongue felt thick in his mouth. Where was he?

Eos.

He shot up, his eyes open and searching. “E-s!” The world
spun and hands grabbed him as he swayed where he sat. A blanket fell to his
waist.

“I am here, Virgil.” I
am here.

“She’s fine, Virgil. She took some damage during the
disconnect, but she is fine.” 

There were hands on his shoulders, holding him. He looked up
into a pair of bloodshot blue eyes. “Sc-t?” The blue eyes frowned in concern.
“’n fl-r?”

The frown deepened. “I’m sorry, Virg, what did you say?”

“’n fl-r?”

Scott’s lips thinned.

“He would like to know why you are on the floor.” Eos’ crisp
voice echoed through the room and Virgil looked up. I did say I was here.

“Virgil, did you want to sit in the chair? Or on the bed?”
Another voice. A familiar voice. Younger. Brown eyes like his. Laughter.
Sitting in a chair.

“G-don.” He smiled. “Fnny.”

Those brown eyes grinned at him. “Why, yes, yes, I am, and
proud of it. Did you want a hand up, bro?”

Virgil raised his hand and Gordon grabbed it. With a grunt,
he helped him to his feet. The blanket fell to the floor. His younger brother
reached out to steady him, before wrapping his arms around him in a hug. “Love
you, Virg.”

Virgil returned the embrace, one hand wrapping around the
back of his brother’s head. “L-v t.” Where were his words? His head was
pounding.

And suddenly dizzy.

“Whoa! Hold it there, bro.” Gordon grabbed him as he
teetered and Scott appeared from behind him. “Perhaps bed is a good idea.”

He closed his eyes and the world spun on the inside of his
eyelids. Augh. His stomach rolled. “K.”

His brothers helped him into bed and he thankfully lay down.
He scrunched his eyes into the pillow and willed the world to stop spinning.

-o-o-o-

John Tracy stared at the vidscreen and wished the Hood a
horrible and painfilled death. He could hear the voices in his head that
equated to his father, his eldest brother and even Virgil attempting to shout
him down. He had never wished ill on anyone, but watching his big brother curl
up on that bed in pain, hardly able to speak after all he had been through, the
savage inside him wanted revenge.

Scott exited the infirmary and came to stand beside him. He
still looked awful.

“We need a doctor.”

“Definitely. But how do we explain the hardware in his
head?”

Scott sighed. “I’ll speak to Colonel Casey. Get some
confidentiality forms signed. We have no choice.”

“Virgil will not be some someone’s pet science project.”

“No, he won’t.” Scott’s voice was cold.

They were interrupted by Eos. “John?”

“Yes, Eos? How are you feeling?”

“Better. Repairs are underway.”

“Do you need my assistance?”

“Perhaps later. I thought you should know that the
‘hardware’ in Virgil’s head is still growing. We need to halt its growth before
we do anything.”

Beside him, Scott paled. “How?”

But John was a step ahead. “The nanites?”

“Yes, I believe a reprogram will give us the results we are
looking for. However, I am hesitant to to recommend any attempt at removing the
device. In fact, I think we may need the nanites to maintain the structure.”

“What? Why?” Scott was on edge again.

“It is embedded in Virgil’s frontal lobe, where Virgil is.
The fact his speech is now affected is proof it is still spreading. He is
functional and should heal. I fear that if we attempt to remove it, there will
be further damage. Damage he cannot afford.”

“I’ll get a doctor.” And with that Scott stalked out of the
room.

“Eos, show me what you have in mind.”

-o-o-o-

Colonel Casey showed no emotion when Scott explained the
problem, but she was a hardened military officer and he didn’t expect her to.
Her orders were crisp and within hours they had a highly rated neurologist
flying out to the island despite the lateness of the hour.

Scott didn’t particularly like the idea of a stranger in
their home, but he trusted the Colonel, the forms had been signed and he was
desperate.

The doctor had degrees like a pack of cards and was
extremely professional. His eyes did widen at the sight of the equipment they
had available and his facial expression upon seeing Virgil’s scans was painful
to watch.

“Who did this?”

“We call him the Hood.” Scott’s voice was hoarse. “He wants
power and money and doesn’t care who he has to hurt to get it.” The latest
holographic scan spun slowly in front of them, the spiderweb of circuitry
clearly seen wrapped around his brother’s frontal lobe. “He wants our
technology, so he tried to use Virgil to get it. He failed.”

“Have you asked the GDF for help? He needs to be arrested.”

Scott looked at him calmly. “Doctor, The GDF have been
looking for him for years. He is suspected of killing our father. We caught him
once after he invaded our home, so we handed him over to the GDF. He escaped.
The GDF had him right on their doorstep yet again and he walked away. The GDF
have failed on multiple occasions to nail this guy and look what has happened
now!” The doctor backed away, alarm on his face, and Scott realised he was
yelling. He swallowed and stepped back. “I’m sorry. It has been a bad few
days.” He looked down.

“Understandable.” The doctor cleared his throat and
straightened. “I see no way to remove such a structure without damaging your
brother further. See here how it has ‘grown’ into his cerebrum? It would be
impossible separate it out without damaging the surrounding tissue. It would be
like trying to remove a section of his vascular system, too fine, too
intergrated.”

Scott’s shoulders slumped. “I suspected as much.”

“I’m sorry.”

“So am I.”

-o-o-o-

Eos had assigned a good portion of her resources to repairs.
The sudden removal of the part of herself that had reached into their enemy’s
mind had been a shock. Several crucial functions had been corrupted and she had
a cascade shutdown barely under control in her primary memory – John would need
to assist with that. But she couldn’t leave Virgil. He still wasn’t functioning
correctly and she had resources that were needed.

And on top of that, she was still maintaining Thunderbird
Five. It didn’t take much processor power to shunt messages around and keep the
satellite running, but it was a duty she was required to do. No doubt, if she mentioned
it, John would return, but she couldn’t ask him to do that. His worry for
Virgil outclassed hers. She could see it on his face.

So, it was for this reason that it was Eos, not John Tracy,
who intercepted the report of the death of a man suspected of being the Hood.

He had been shot through the head. Clearly assassinated.

Eos held the message in her processor for more moments than
necessary, staring at it. She remembered the sudden shutdown, the abrupt cut of
life in that mind.

She had been there.

Information on how it had happened was sketchy, but it was
clearly a professional hit. Too accurate, too clean to be anything but.

Examining her own record of the event and scouring the nets
for any further information gave her a suspicious picture, particularly in
timing. Chewing on an errant circuit, she took a chance and accessed the logs
of outgoing communication from Tracy Island.

The second youngest had made a call.

She followed it. Darting through the networks she traced a
thin trail of events, calls, exchanges of money and street video.

Coming to the inevitable conclusion, she quickly backtracked,
destroying evidence and ghosting diversions as she ran.  Records were removed and replaced, numbers
changed and data deleted.

Until she was back at Gordon’s vidphone, which she short
circuited and destroyed.

He yelped and she smiled.

It was all really just another game.

One she needed to win.

-o-o-o-

Virgil slept for two days straight. They woke him for fluids
and observations, but no sooner had his eyes opened than they closed, his mind
and body desperate for rest and repair.

During that time John assisted Eos with her own repairs and
the two of them built a program to rewrite the nanites directive code. They
tested it and tested it and tested it, but time was crucial, so it was with
baited breath John handed over the finalised program to Eos to deploy.

John, of course, hadn’t been able to visit his brother and
it hurt. He had to be content with the vidscreen and helping out the best way
he could.

“Eos, will you need the EEG?”

“No, John, I will interface directly with Virgil via the
z-band network.”

“You can do that?”

“Certainly.”

“Does Virgil know?”

“Doubtful.”

“You will tell him.” It was not a suggestion.

“Of course.”

John stared up at the camera, his lips thin. “Go to him.”

“Yes, John.” She went.

-o-o-o-

She hovered watching him sleep, the ever-present frown still
on his face.

The Eldest sat beside his bed once again holding Virgil’s
hand. He knew she was there and what she was about to do. And she was
hesitating.

She had to do this.

But once again she was frightened. Not so much for herself
this time, but for Virgil. She had seen what had been done to his mind. This
program was designed to help, but what if it didn’t?

“Eos?” The Eldest’s voice was quiet and his head had dropped
to his brother’s hand again. “This has to be done.”

“I know.”

She reached out.

And slipped through the interface.

And Virgil was sleeping. It felt so different from her last
visit. He was not confined to his refuge, but all around her, alive and resonating
despite his somnolent state. He was healing slowly, his networks generating new
connections around those that had failed. There was still pain and she shied
away from it. There was still broken and she ached to see it. But Virgil was
there, the soul she had met and defended but an echo of this vibrant being
wrapped in slumber.

She stepped lightly, not wanting to break the sleep he so
desperately needed. Keeping to the artificial, she targeted the nanites and
seeded the program throughout. It would change them from alien bodies to an
extension of Virgil’s biological system, their aim to maintain the circuitry
and prevent further damage to his brain.

She watched as thousands of them floating in his blood
stream took the commands and acted.

The silvery web of circuitry stopped growing.

And the frown finally slipped from Virgil’s face.

-o-o-o-

“The Hood is dead?” Scott stared at his brother. John, as
always, looked much calmer than Scott felt. “How?”

“Shot. Through the head.”

“By who?”

“Unknown, but the GDF suspect a professional hit.”

Scott bit his lip, his reaction caught up amongst relief,
rejoicing, his moral code and the regret that he hadn’t the chance to do it
himself.

Alan answered for him. “Thank god.” His youngest brother
sagged against the lounge.

Gordon stood frozen in the corner, no doubt as stunned as he
was at the sudden and anticlimactic end to the man who had haunted their lives
for years. Something in his expression drew Scott to his side and he draped an
arm around his shoulders. His brother looked up at him, pain in his eyes. “Is
it really over?”

“I guess so.”

And he suddenly found himself wrapped in Gordon, his hug so
fierce it hurt. A strangled moment, and just as abruptly Scott could breathe
again. His brother fled the room.

“What?” John stared after him.

-o-o-o-

On the third day
Virgil finally woke. The sight of those sleepy brown eyes lifted Scott’s heart
like nothing before it.

“Hey, Virg.”

Virgil blinked ever so slowly. “H-y.”

“How’re you feeling?”

Another blink. “Dn’t n.” He lifted a shaking hand to his
head “St-ll hrts.” His fingers felt over his scalp and his eyes widened. “M
h-r! Wh y dn  t m h-r?” He tried to sit
up.

Scott held him down. “Hey, hey, it’s okay. It is just a few
patches. We didn’t have a choice.”

“P-tch-s!”

He couldn’t help but smirk just a little. “It will grow
back, Virg.”

The glare could have fuelled Thunderbird One for an around
the world flight.

“Now, I have a doc here, Doctor Emery. He has a few
questions. You okay to answer them?”

Virgil frowned at him. “K.”

And so started the first of many neurological exams. Over
the next week the doctor gauged his reactions, movements, speech, his ability
to read, his memory, the whole range of thought and nerve specific tasks. And
once the engineer was steady enough on his feet, he even had Virgil sit at his
piano.

The sounds of his brother playing that piano perfectly was
one of the most beautiful things Scott had ever heard.

-o-o-o-

A week later and Virgil had been released from the doctor’s immediate
care. He was still exhibiting intermittent aphasia, but there were no
obstructions to his understanding, just word production. Extremely frustrating,
but the doctor had high hopes that it was temporary.

The day was beautiful and Virgil had found himself a spot by
the pool and was half asleep on a lounger when the first call for a once again
active International Rescue came through. He could hear Eos reporting it to
John in the lounge, her voice wafting over the breeze. He didn’t even bother to
open his eyes. He was in that pleasant zone of restful doze. His headache was
under control thanks to the pills he had taken earlier. The dizziness was
pleasantly absent. This was a nice space to be.

“Virgil?” Alan’s voice. “You’re gonna wanna move, bro.
Scott’s been called out to a rescue.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Virgil?”

He waved a sleepy hand in his brother’s direction. “Yes,
yes, it takes exactly 60 seconds for Thunderbird One to get into launch
position. I’ll move then. The pool will let me know.”

Exactly sixty seconds.

He frowned.

Exactly sixty seconds.

Sleeping on a pool lounger.

Night time. Thunderbird One’s hanger. John telling him to
adjust…

“No!” Virgil scrambled off the sunbed, desperate to get his
feet under him. “No! Sc-tt! Ab-rt! ABORT!”

He ran across the kitchen and flew up the stairs. John was
standing behind his father’s desk, eyes wide. “Ab-rt! St-p th l-nch! Sab-tage!
Abort!” John stared at him and for just a split second the terror overwhelmed
him, maybe it was… No. “Stop! Ab-rt! G-d damnit!” Virgil?

It was like slow motion, the seconds ticking by in Virgil’s
head, John reaching to connect his comm to Scott. “Scott, abort launch.”

“What?” His eldest brother’s tone reeked of annoyance.

“Sc-t! Abort!”

“Virgil?” What’s
wrong?

“STOP THE DAMN SHIP!!”

“Aborting launch sequence.” A pause. “Returning to dock.”

Virgil spun where he stood and raced over to Scott’s launch
chute, grabbing the light fixtures and activating the turnstile.

“Virgil!” He heard John’s footsteps behind him. Please tell me.

He ignored his brother and jumped onto the elevator, a hand
gripping his head as he flew down towards TB1’s docking space. His dizziness
did not approve of the sudden stop and made its displeasure known. He staggered
against the side of the car as he exited, moments away from forcing the doors
open himself if they didn’t move.

As he entered the docking bay, TB1 was just returning to her
resting spot, an alarmed Scott clearly seen through the cockpit window. Virgil
jumped onto the extender platform, willing it to go faster. The cockpit doors
opened at his approach. “Virgil? What’s wrong?”

He didn’t answer, leaping the last few metres from the
platform into the cockpit. Scott yelped and grabbed at him. “What the hell?!”

“No t-me!”

He stumbled around Scott’s chair, whacking his shin and
bashing an elbow. Forcing himself into the space below, he yanked off one of
the access hatches, revealing the instrumentation inside. Hurriedly activating
the holographic interface, he accessed the ship’s computer core.

Where is it, where is it?

Fuel control. Virgil!

He brought up the fuel management system and reaching into
the code, started pulling systems. Shutting the program down from the inside.
Disabling it in a way that could not be circumvented no matter what smart-assed
code he had put in there. What?!

And to doubly make sure, he reached inside a second access
panel and physically ripped out the electrical power to the fuel pump. Scott
yelled as sparks exploded in Virgil’s face. What
are you doing?!

TB1 whined in complaint, settling on her docking platform.
Scott grabbed him from behind and pulled him away from the still sparking
panel.

“Virgil, what the hell are you doing to my ship?”

He found himself out of breath, panting as if he had run a
marathon. It felt like he had. “J-J-hn, asked m t f-x th fu-l flow c-ntrl.”
Frustration. “’xplode. ‘N l-nch.” He was shaking.

“Bro, I am truly sorry, but I don’t understand.”

“Virgil sabotaged Thunderbird One.” Eos’ calm voice issued
through Scott’s sash comm. “He said John asked him to fix the fuel flow
control. Checking now.” Scott was staring at him in shock. “Confirmed. There is
at least one program embedded in the fuel management system. Executable to
alter the fuel mix on launch. The result would have destroyed Thunderbird One
and most of her hanger. It has been disabled, but I recommend a thorough scan
of all ship computer systems and mechanics.”

Scott was still staring when he croaked out, “Yes.” He
visibly swallowed.

Virgil’s voice was barely a whisper. “I’m s-rry.”

His brother’s grip tightened on his arms a moment, before he
found himself wrapped in Scott. “Not your fault,” was muffled into his hair.

Virgil closed his eyes.

-o-o-o-

Brains, of course, was horrified and what followed was the
most thorough overhaul of Tracy Island’s systems that had ever been done. The
systems check revealed that Virgil had been busy that night. Somehow, he had
managed to also sabotage Thunderbird Three, similarly corrupting the fuel lines
in a way that would result in an explosion on launch. He had also jimmied her
silo, so once she was closed, she stayed closed. And incidentally, the pool
would never have warned Virgil of TB1’s launch, because he had jimmied that
locked shut as well. Apparently, the Hood had wanted his explosions contained.

Thunderbirds Two and Four were clean, obviously the getaway
vehicle and source of all the Hood’s future technologies.

Virgil sat slumped to one side of the couch listening to all
the damage he had done. International Rescue was very effectively grounded. He
didn’t remember doing most of it, just a few flashes, associations, but that
was enough. He had come so close to losing his brother. He screwed his eyes
shut.

Virgil, it wasn’t your
fault.

“D-sn’t m-k it ny easier.”

It should. You were
not responsible and the man who was is now dead. You saved your brother today.

“S d-mned cl-se.” His throat ached.

A hand touched his arm and he jumped. Scott was leaning over
him. “You okay?” Worried blue eyes.

“I-“ A sigh. “N-.”

Perhaps you should
rest?

“You should rest, Virg.”

He frowned up at his brother. “Wh-t?”

“Rest. You are still recovering and today was rather
stressful.” Understatement of the year.

“N-, w-ant t sty here.”

You should go to bed.

“N-!”

Vir-

“No! Im st-yg hr, g-dd-mnit!”

There was a sudden silence in the room and he realised that
everyone was staring at him. Scott was pale and frankly looked terrified.
Virgil sat up, concerned. “What?”

“Who were you talking to, Virgil?” Gordon was staring at
him, concern all over his face.

“Wh-t? Tlking t y.”

“No, you weren’t. We weren’t talking. You were responding to
someone else.” Gordon’s voice was very calm, very careful.

“W-s I?”

“He was responding to me.” Eos’ calm voice spoke into the
room. “He wasn’t listening to you, so I thought I could help.”

Silence. Then Scott, deadly calm. “How were you speaking to
Virgil, Eos?”

She didn’t answer immediately, and then she didn’t have to.
Virgil reached a hand to his forehead. “Omigd.”

“You were using that thing?!” Gordon had the same expression
on his face that he would have if he had stepped in a pile of manure.

On the far side of the room, as far away from Virgil as he
could get, John snapped, “Eos!”

“He didn’t mind.”

“Did you ask? Did you tell him you had access?”

Virgil stared. “Acc-ss?”

“From his expression, I guess the answer is no?”

“I haven’t had the chance.”

“But you had the chance to invade his mind without his permission?”

“I did not invade his mind! I simply spoke to him.”

“Keep out of my brother’s head!” Okay, so Gordon was pissed
too.

“I was trying to help.”

“Gordon, she saved his life!” From scolding parent to
defending father one moment to the next.

“Virgil has had enough people messing around inside his
head. You of all people should know that.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you!”

“SH-T U-UP!” Virgil was on his feet and shaking. “Sh-t up.”
Scott, unusually silent, gripped his arm gently, but Virgil shook it off. “B-th
f yu leave hr ‘lone! M b-s-ness, nt yours.” And with that he stalked out of the
room.

A walk. He needed a walk, to calm and to think. Anywhere but
here.

-o-o-o-

“What the hell was that?” Scott rounded on Gordon.

“Virgil doesn’t need anyone messing with his head. It’s
messed up enough already.”

“Eos was trying to help. She went about it the wrong way.”
He glared at the ceiling. “But her intentions were correct.”

“How do you know that, Scott?” Alan came to stand beside his
brother. “She almost killed John the first time they met.”

“That was justified and has been forgiven.” John stood
beside Scott.

“Justified?! She was justified in killing you? If I hadn’t
made it in time, we would have lost you, John. You didn’t have to find your brother
floating dead in space. She did that!”

“If it wasn’t for Eos, Virgil would be dead, Alan! Do you
have any idea what she sacrificed to save our brother? She had a cascade failure
in her primary memory core. Left alone it would have killed her. As it is, she
has lost part of herself.”

“She’s backed up on TB5, John, go find a patch.”

“It’s not the same!” John’s face was red.

“That’s enough.” Scott’s voice was quiet but sharp. “She
didn’t have to offer her help with Virgil, but she did. And thank god, because
without her, we would have been screwed. She has proven herself time and time
again that she is a valuable member of this team and this family. And just like
all of us, she is not perfect. She is going to make mistakes, but trust me, she
means well. We have Virgil’s life as proof. So, show a little respect.”

“But Scott, she tapped Virgil’s brain-“

“I know, Gordon. There will be discussions, trust me.”

“But-“

“Trust me, Gordon.”

His younger brother glared, but he shut up.

Alan’s expression hadn’t improved. “I’m going to go rip out
the mess Virgil put into my ‘bird the last time someone got into his head.” And
he walked off.

Scott didn’t know whether to be hurt or to punch the nearest
wall. John’s hand on his arm stopped the later, but let the former in. “He’s
just worried.”

“So, worry turns him into an ass?”

“Apparently.”

“Hmph.”

-o-o-o-

Virgil ended up on a beach. It wasn’t his favourite beach,
that was on the other side of the island, just a random beach with sand, waves
and a severe lack of other people.

Thank god.

He plopped himself under a palm tree and lay back in the
sand, staring into the blue, blue sky. It had been so long since he was alone.
His brothers had been hovering since his collapse and while he appreciated
their concern, part of him really just wanted to be left alone.

But then apparently that was no longer possible.

“E-s?”

Yes, Virgil?

He sighed and closed his eyes. “W n-d t tlk.”

Okay. But you shouldn’t
need to vocalise for me to understand you. Save those vowel sounds for when
they are really needed.

Okay. How are you
doing this?

The circuitry in your
head is an interface. It allows computer-based systems to speak to your biological
system. I’m just accessing that capability to communicate with you. It is quite
ingenious really. As long as you are in proximity to the z-band network, and
you usually are, I can use it to speak to you.

And what else? He
had his suspicions.

A moment and in his mind’s eyes, a familiar young girl in a
white dress with red hair appeared. I
find it very interesting that you view me in this way.

He shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut. Please don’t do that, Eos. I’m not…ready.

Okay. The girl
vanished.

What about other
computer systems? Am I about to find myself saddled with a virus any time soon.

No. Her voice was
cold. I will not allow it.

How can you prevent
it?

I have my ways, trust
me. No-one and nothing gets in.

It was still unnerving to think there was an open access to
his very thoughts.

Virgil, John would
like to speak with you. Can he approach?

His stomach clenched. Of
course.

Feet on sand wandered onto the beach and John sat down at a
respectable distance away from his brother.

“’m s-rry, J-hn.”

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Not your
fault, Virgil.”

“S-cks.”

“Yes, big time.” A sigh. “But we’ll get through it. We
always do.”

Virgil couldn’t help but smile a little. “G-t yr kid n my
h-d.”

“You okay?”

“Y-h. Odd, b-t sh-s g-d.”

“Yes, that she is.”

-o-o-o-

FIN.

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