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

The Price (Part Two)

Title: The Price (Part Two)

A Tale of Sotto Voce

Author: Gumnut

Nov – 14 Dec 2018

Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS

Rating: Mature (for dark themes and some swearing)

Summary: They both had a price.

Word count: 2662

Spoilers & warnings: Spoilers for Season 2, Sotto Voce
and Il Mago

Timeline: Set sometime after Il Mago and Father.

Author’s note: Finally, here is part two. Sorry for the
wait, RL and lazy writing hit me sideways. Again, like all through this series,
this ends in a cliffhanger. Sorry. I envision one more part, but then my
envisioning has never been particularly good. I hope you enjoy reading it and
thankyou for sticking with this universe while I was off writing romance 😀

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

-o-o-o-

John Tracy rarely got angry. He prided himself on his
ability to stay calm and calculating in the most stressful situations. It was
imperative in his position. However, he had been under considerable repetitive
strain over the last few months, and to discover the same invasive element had
just waltzed through every defence he and Eos had deployed and once again
attacked his brother was the last straw.

“Eos! Evacuate immediately.”

“John-“

“Now!”

“Yes, John.”

One hand pulled up Eos’ status display and an eye followed
her into her refuge server and watched her disconnect from the system. The hard
lines dropped away and she was safe.

Virgil, however, was not.

His other hand activated a series of sentry programs designed
as a last ditch effort to protect Thunderbird Five. At the same time he began
killing off services, shutting the satellite down, bringing her to minimal
operation, keeping the damn invader out.

A scream echoed across the speakers.

Virgil.

Shit.

He had to keep his brother out of the system. But another
presence, most definitely not his brother made itself known.

“John Tracy. Do you honestly think you can keep me out?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Thunderbird Five’s greatest strength is also its greatest
weakness.”

John didn’t answer.

“Pretty much like your biggest brother is your biggest
liability. Isn’t that right, Virgil.”

A mangled scream of fury.

“Now, now, keep it together or you might panic your brother.
He is, after all trying to shut down the very systems that are currently
keeping you alive.”

“John, don’t let him-“ His brother’s artificial voice was
cut off in another mangled scream.

“Honestly, Virgil, haven’t you learnt yet? Nothing
artificial can keep out the strength of a human mind. Not even your pet AI.”
There was a rush of activity in the main computer core. “Where is she, Virgil?
Do I have to go through you to get to her?”

His brother yelled, pure anger blowing out part of TB5’s
electrical circuitry.

“Ooh, fireworks, young Padawan. Don’t kill your brother by
accident.”

Unfortunately, John had to agree. Virgil had blown half his
lighting and several main circuit relays.

But John wasn’t finished yet. His hands moved, deploying
programs, killing systems and generally cornering the presence in the system exactly
where he wanted it.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, John.”

He ignored him.

“I’m the one with all the cards, aren’t I, Virgil? After
all, John, do you want to risk your brother’s life?” Another strangled sound
emitted from the speakers. “Or perhaps Virgil isn’t enough. Perhaps I should
play with those on Tracy Island as well.” And to John’s horror, the status
displays on three of the four Thunderbirds currently safe in their hangers lit
up like Christmas trees. “I only have to do this…” Thunderbird One’s fuel
cells started heating up. “…and it won’t be long before the rest of your
brothers, including Virgil, are nothing more than sooty leftovers.”

“What the hell do you want?!”

“I want Thunderbird Five. I want you gone. I want your
little AI to play with. Give me this and I might let your big brother go. If
not, consider him and the other three little more than memories.”

-o-o-o-

Scott moved.

He hit two buttons. The general island alarm.

And the button that would kill their assailant.

“Do you really think it would be that easy?” The voice was
cold.

He ignored it, rushing back to Virgil, checking his vitals.
There were none.

Hell.

Rolling him onto his back, he began CPR. Alan and Gordon tore
into the room. Catching sight of their prone brother, professionalism
immediately kicked in, Gordon taking half the load of life support from Scott,
while Alan ran for a hover stretcher and the tools that could save his
brother’s life.

“What happened?” Gordon spoke quickly between breaths.

“That bastard’s got him.”

“Mago?”

Scott didn’t need to answer, a scream echoed across the
island’s speakers, so Virgil in pain that it hurt.

Alan barrelled into the room, stretcher in tow, mobile life
support equipment dangling from his hands. Gordon grabbed the bag respirator
and sealed it to Virgil’s mouth.

“C’mon, Virgil!” The words were forced from Scott’s lips. If
they couldn’t get his heart restarted, they had lost the fight before it had
begun.

The whine of the cardiostimulator charging sung. Buttons
flew as Scott ripped through red flannel. He’d buy him a new one, if he would
just live! Virgil’s grey undershirt tore at the hidden seams designed for his
chute robotics, leaving his chest bare, his skin goosepimpling, teasing
normality, faking life.

Gel.

Paddles.

Clear!

The painful arch of muscles constricting under current.

C’mon, c’mon….

Pulse.

None.

Damnit!

A mangled scream of fury echoed across the speaker system.
“John, don’t let him-“ And his brother’s voice was cut off, caught in an
expression of agony.

Scott couldn’t afford to react at all.

“Again!”

Gel.

Paddles.

Clear!

Virgil’s body arched again just as the speakers yelled again
in that same brother’s voice. Lights flickered.

“Damnit, Virgil! Don’t do this to me!”

Pulse?

He held his breath. A flutter against his fingertips. C’mon,
Virg, please. Another. A stutter and his brother’s heart struggled into a beat,
not strong, but there.

God.

He caught Gordon’s eyes and the naked pain in them burnt
him. “Infirmary now.”

Still breathing for him, the three brothers lifted Virgil
onto the stretcher and ran from the room.

-o-o-o-

He was torn from his body.

One moment he was speaking to Scott the next a horrible
wrench, a burning blackness and pain.

So much pain.

He screamed.

And screamed.

Time froze and his life with it, but then he was moving.
Streaks of white blurred into the black and a voice was threatening John.

John.

His brother.

The bastard was using Virgil to get to Thunderbird Five.

No way.

No damn way.

He struggled, but the black had him held tight, its touch
burning. Anger swelled within him and his world lit up in blue and white. It
seared through black and for a moment he was free.

But then he wasn’t.

The black wrapped around him again, burning, piercing.
Virgil found himself screaming again, but this time in absolute fury. “John,
don’t let him-“ The black squeezed, tearing away his voice and replacing it
again with pain.

But then the bastard was looking for Eos. Panicked, Virgil
looked around, desperate to see through the black, but denied even that. He
couldn’t let him near Eos. No.

The fury swelled again, this time the blue was joined by
Thunderbird Green. It tore the black, ripping through it and discarding it in
pieces. It was Mago’s turn to express pain. Virgil spun, flinging the bastard
from him. He stretched and touched current.

“Ooh, fireworks, young Padawan. Don’t kill your brother by
accident.”

“Get away from my family.” It was said with threat. It was
said with menace. Virgil hovered in the white above Thunderbird Five, glowing
white streaked with blue and Thunderbird Green. “Leave.”

The mass of black ignored his stand, continuing on as if he
hadn’t said a thing.

“I’m the one with all the cards, aren’t I, Virgil? After
all, John, do you want to risk your brother’s life?” Virgil spat at him. “Or
perhaps Virgil isn’t enough. Perhaps I should play with those on Tracy Island
as well.” And Virgil felt the signal, felt the connection with their ‘birds far
below. He hissed as Maggot continued. “I only have to do this…” Thunderbird
One’s fuel cells started heating up. “…and it won’t be long before the rest
of your brothers, including Virgil, are nothing more than sooty leftovers.”

“I want Thunderbird Five. I want you gone. I want your
little AI to play with. Give me this and I might let your big brother go. If
not, consider him and the other three little more than memories.”

“No.”

It was said with the upmost calm and the upmost threat.

The black mass coalesced into the humanoid form of Percival
Fischler.

He was smirking.

“And what exactly do you think you can do about it, Virgil?”
Another signal reached out, this time touching his own ‘bird. Far distant below
he could feel her fuel cells ignite, their warmth familiar, but increasing.

“Leave them alone.”

“Give me Thunderbird Five and I will consider it.” The man
crossed his arms across his chest, his stance mocking.

“No.”

On his peripheral, Virgil sensed John at work, systems
shutting down one by one, sentry programs marshalling. The programs wouldn’t do
much more than hamper, but the dead systems were starting to pen them in. It
was only a matter of time.

“Leave.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“Leave now.”

“Give me what I want.”

Virgil moved towards the Maggot, his fury fueled by fear.
Far below TB1’s fuel cells were moving into the red. “Leave or I will make you
leave.”

The bastard had the nerve to burst out laughing. Virgil
hoped to god it was over confidence.

“I don’t think so, Padawan. In fact, I think you can just
die now. I’ll pry your younger brother out of his tin can later.” And Maggot
once again turned as black as his soul, inky tentacles writhing, and reached
for Thunderbird One.

“No!” Virgil leapt, tackling the darkness. He hissed as it
burnt him, he screamed as it stabbed back, but his own fluid form, blue-white streaked
in a furious Thunderbird Green, wrapped around Fischler and dug in. He clawed
at the white of the network, the swimming current fluid in his state,
desperately seeking purchase.

The bastard simply laughed at him.

“Oh, Padawan, you have no idea.” The black twisted and was
suddenly a nest of knives slicing into him.

Virgil cried out, a phantom red suddenly mixing with his
green, and he staggered back.

Maggot was laughing. “Such a noob. You bleed in your
dreams.”

And he dove down to Tracy Island.

“God damn you!”

Virgil leapt after him.

-o-o-o-

The lights of the infirmary flickered and in the distance
something exploded.

“What the hell was that?”

Gordon’s expression was beyond fear.

Virgil’s body lay between them, the respirator breathing for
him. His heart had stuttered twice, but it was still beating. Scott bit his
lip. C’mon, Virg…

“You bastard, you leave them alone!” The pure fury in their
brother’s voice tore across the island’s speaker system.

Scott touched his comms. “John?”

“They were both here, but they’ve left. I think they are on
the Island with you.”

“Certainly sounds like it.”

“Oh, we’re here, Scott.” And his name was said with such
derision it parched the air it travelled on. “Oh, what is this? Another little
AI toy?” There was the buzz of wheels on hardwood and MAX appeared in the
doorway.

Shit.

“Oh, hoo, hoo, this one is even dumber than the other one.
Look, I can make him dance.” MAX began to spin on the spot.

“Leave him alone!” Alan, standing at the end of Virgil’s
bed.

“Are you going to make me?” And MAX stopped, his head
swivelling in his youngest brother’s direction.

Scott poised.

“No, but I will.” A light exploded raining sparks over the
four of them and Scott instinctively flung himself over Virgil.

MAX froze on the spot, his body shaking. Another scream, but
not from Virgil. Scott grit his teeth at the wail of pain pouring out of the
speakers. It cut off abruptly.

“Sorry, MAX.” Virgil’s electronic voice was shaking.

The little AI collapsed into a mess of metal limbs on the
floor.

“Thunderbird Five to Tracy Island. Evacuate order 256. I
repeat, evacuate order 256. This is not a drill.” John’s voice was calm but
urgent.

“FAB Thunderbird Five.” Scott’s voice creaked. 256 meant
imminent explosion, exit via sea only. He turned to his brothers. “Pack up
Virgil, all portable equipment, quickly as possible. Dockside asap.”

“Scott-“ Both brothers said his name at the same time.

“Do it.”

-o-o-o-

John wished Eos was with him . He’d grown used to her calm
and sometimes lyrical voice keeping him company during the most tense of
moments. Giving a full evac order on his home was definitely tense.

Thunderbirds One and Two’s fuel cells were critical and
everything he had tried to halt the imminent explosion had failed. Time was
running out and he had to weigh the lives of his family against the island,
their home and Virgil.

He had no choice.

The two human minds were no longer on TB5, he had managed to
track their presence, particularly Virgil’s, by the havoc they were causing in
the network. Mago was obviously more practised, though he obviously wasn’t
caring too much, his tread was light except where he wanted damage.

Poor MAX. How had they forgotten the little AI and how
vulnerable he would be in this situation. If they got out of this, John would
make sure he had as secure a server as Eos.

He rubbed his face. TB5 was almost a ghost. He had shut down
almost everything. She was just keeping him alive and his connection to the
Island.

His fingers flew, desperate to isolate the electronic
systems on the Tracy’s yacht. He had to break her away from the network, free
her from the danger of Mago.

And in the process, deny Virgil his chance to flee as well.

-o-o-o-

MAX was little more than a baby. He looked up at him with
brown, fearful eyes and clung. he didn’t speak, but his face said everything.

“I’m so sorry, MAX.

His little hands tightened on Virgil’s uniform.

“Awww, aren’t you pretty as a picture.” Mago coalesced once
again, probably so he could smirk some more. But he stumbled.

And Virgil did not fail to notice.

Though he certainly had no intention of acknowledging the
error or the jibe.

Virgil turned away, ever aware of the other man’s position,
and darted out of sight. As fast as he could, he flickered through the network,
feinting towards the hangers before doubling back and dashing to the server
room. A quick assessment and he chose a server, wiping it, he activated a copy
of Eos’ cradling software and gently placed little MAX in its confines.

He flung off a comm signal to Brains before overloading the
connection to the server and melting the hardware between the z-band network
and the now isolated box.

MAX was safe.

A phantom breath of relief.

And black Mago barrelled into him, his writhing tentacles
once again wrapping around him and burning.

God, it hurt.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I’ll do what I damn well please. This is my home and my
family!”

“No, Virgil, you are mine!” And his grip tightened.

Between the pain and fear, Virgil felt himself tipping
towards an edge.

He laughed.

He laughed so hard, reality began to retreat. “Yours? You
have got to be fucking kidding me.”

Virgil was aware of the overloads in progress below in the
hangers. He felt the absolute insanity of the creature wrapped around him. He
knew his family was fleeing their home, and far above him he felt the lonely
breathing of John, ever watching, ever caring.

There was love. For his brothers, his family, his niece, his
home, his life.

So much love.

The black was cutting into him.

White flared, blue flared, Thunderbird Green struck into the
darkness, but with it a bright red streamed. It hurt, but Virgil was beyond
caring.

He tore through Mago. Where the red touched, the black
disintegrated. It screamed and tried to flee, but Virgil wrapped around it, his
presence tearing, burning.

“LEAVE US ALONE!” It was torn from him. Everything this
thing had done to him and his family. Everything it intended to do.

Everything.

Blue-white-green and godawful red seared away the blackness
until there was none.

It was gone.

The white of the network pulsed at him.

Silence.

And Virgil just stopped.

-o-o-o-

End Part Two.

Part Three

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