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The contents of this page are © Katie Oliver.
 
   
  HOLIDAY
by Katie Oliver

Chapter One: Exhaustion

      Scott Tracy wearily stripped off his damp, muddy uniform and, with relief, stepped into the shower. He let the water run over his tired body as he thought over the last 24 hours. It had not been the best rescue they had ever done. Actually that was an understatement. It was not often they made mistakes but this time they had made more than one. It was only some quick thinking and Virgil's skill in manoeuvring Thunderbird Two that had saved the day, to say nothing of five lives.
      At the same time Scott was showering, Gordon Tracy was having a five-inch long gash in his arm dressed.
      "I don't think it will need stitches, Mr Tracy," said Tin-Tin Kyrano. "It's rather dirty, and quite long, but its not too deep."
      "Well that's one good thing," growled Jeff. "I'm glad to know this whole operation wasn't a complete disaster."
      Gordon winced at the words. Their father wasn't pleased with the way the things had gone. As soon as they were showered, and patched up he had ordered a meeting in the lounge to go over the mistakes, to make sure they didn't happen again. For once Gordon envied John his post in the sky.
      Alan had already showered and changed. He went back down to Thunderbird Two's silo to help Brains with the checks and refuelling operation.
      "I th..th..thought Mr Tracy wanted you all in the lounge as soon as you had changed."
      Alan reddened. "Err.. that's right, Brains but I thought I would just help you out first."
      Brains might stammer and give the impression that he was not aware of everything that went on but he was nobodies fool. "Alan Tracy, I think y..you should go to the l..lounge right now. Hiding w..won't help you and its rather unfair on the others."
      Alan had not thought of it in that light. 'You're right Brains. Guess I'd better face the music." He caught the little monorail and rode back to the house deep in thought. The rescue had not gone according to plan, but why? Perhaps they had underestimated the danger of the situation.

      "Overall I think we simply underestimated the situation, Dad," finished Scott. He looked anxiously at his father. This debrief was a nightmare, they had made mistake after mistake, Gordon was injured, Alan and four others nearly lost their lives and in the end little more than luck had saved them.
      "I think you may be right Scott," replied Jeff. "This is always a danger for an outfit like ours. Time after time we pull off a spectacular rescue, and we begin to believe we are invincible. Well that's not the case, and we have to make sure this doesn't happen again. I shall have to think about what's to be done." He glared at his sons, and they were glad to hear Grandma shout.
      "Best go, dad," said Alan. "You know Grandma doesn't like us to be late for supper."
      Jeff looked at his youngest son. "Humm…. All right, off you go. I've finished with you all for tonight."

      The boys were unusually quiet during the meal, and Virgil ate little. Scott watched him out of the corner of his eye, but said nothing; he didn't want to set his father off again. After the meal he followed Virgil to his room.
      "What's up Virg," he said, flopping down onto the bed.
      Virgil went to the window and gazed out over the sea. "I almost didn't make it today. Alan and those four men where seconds from death before I got there."
      "Hey, bro! Don't think about it. You did get there, and that was enough. I couldn't have flown like that, you're the hero of the day."
      "I'm not though, Scott. After all it was me who suggested Alan should go down there with them. I should never have put him in that position."
      "If it comes to that, I'm the one at fault. I'm in charge on a rescue, the buck stops with me. I should have vetoed your suggestion." Scott lay on his back and gazed at the ceiling. "Though when I come to think about it, I'm not sure either of us could stop Alan doing something he had set his mind to!"
      Virgil laughed. "You might be right at that!" he turned round and perched on the windowsill. "Do you know, Gordon was saying he rather envied John today."
      Scott joined in the laughter. "I know what he means."

      The gash in Gordon's arm was sore enough to send him to bed for an early night. Alan, finding himself alone in the lounge went out onto the balcony. The sea was calm and the moon shone in a cloudless sky so it looked as if a thousand stars had fallen into the Pacific Ocean, and twinkled there. He sighed heavily, and then turned, startled, as a voice spoke from a deck chair behind him.
      "Quite a sight, isn't it?"
      "Dad! You startled me," said Alan.
      "Sorry. You look tired son, perhaps an early night would help."
      "Perhaps. Look dad, I'm sorry about today…" Alan tailed off as his father waved a hand at him.
      "It's done. Go to bed and we'll talk more about it tomorrow."
      Alan went to his room. For once he didn't even look for Tin-Tin, he didn't want to talk about the day and, particularly, he didn't want Tin-Tin to know about his close call that afternoon.

      Breakfast was another quiet affair. Virgil looked particularly tired, and Jeff eyed him speculatively. He called all four boys to the lounge immediately after the meal had ended.
      "I have been giving the situation some thought," he began. He held up a hand as Alan tried to interrupt. "No Alan, wait until I've had my say."
      Alan scowled but subsided.
      "I believe the reason we made so many mistakes yesterday was because we have all got too tired. International Rescue is no use to the world if its operatives are exhausted. I have therefore decided to recall John a week early."
      He broke off as Alan groaned loudly.
      "It's alright Alan, I've decided to send Gordon. He can't go on any rescues with that arm, but he will be fine in Thunderbird Five. This means we will be able to let two of you have a break. I must say I blame myself for letting things get to this stage. We have had three rescues in succession that required all four of you, and you all need a holiday. Virgil and Alan, I want you to take a week's holiday. Scott will fly Thunderbird One, and John will fly Thunderbird Two. Brains, Tin-Tin or myself will make up the numbers as necessary. Then next week Alan will go to Thunderbird Five and Scott and Gordon can have a week off. Hopefully we will have a quiet spell. After the last couple of weeks we deserve a rest."

      "Thunderbird Three, requesting permission for takeoff," said Alan.
      "Base to Thunderbird Three. You are clear to go."
      Alan boosted the mighty rockets that launched the spaceship into the air. Seconds later they were clear of the earth's atmosphere, and Alan laid in the coordinates for Thunderbird Five.
      He turned to his brother. "You can take your seatbelt off now, Gordon," he said.
      Gordon scowled at him. "You needn't sound so cheerful. You know I hate being up here. Give me the sea any day."
      "At least you don't have to do a spell every month. It's ages since you last did duty up here. And anyway Virgil told me you envied John the other day!"
      "Alright, you win, little brother. Anyway, hadn't you better call John and tell him we're on our way?"
      Alan swung back to the instruments and checked the flight trajectory. "OK, but we won't be there for an hour yet."
      He made the call, and an hour later he docked the mighty spaceship with his usual skill. Gordon activated the airlock and they went aboard Thunderbird Five to be greeted by John.
      "I've put the kettle on boys. Now perhaps you had better fill me in on what's going on down there."
      He looked at his two youngest brothers closely. Dad had told him Gordon would be relieving him early, but not why. He also knew how much Gordon hated being in Thunderbird Five, and that his father would never have proposed it unless there was good reason.

            "So there I was bleeding like a stuck pig, Scott was unable to get back to Thunderbird One and Alan and the other four were clinging to the beam with the water still rising. The only one able to do anything was Virgil, and he was amazing. I'll never know how he fitted Thunderbird Two under the bridge but he did, and got the first three up with no problems. The fourth had panicked though and Alan was trying to hang onto him with one hand and the beam with the other. And all the time the water is still rising and bashing at them and Virgil is having to hold Thunderbird Two still or he'll hit either Alan or the bridge."
      Gordon paused for breath, and John looked at Alan.
      "So, what did you do?"
      "I got lucky. The cable hit me in the arm and I was able to grab it. I wrapped it around the man and waved at Virgil to winch him up. Up he went and that just left me. The water was still rising and I got a bit worried towards the end, but Virg got me up in time."
      John knew there was more behind the 'bit worried' but he also knew his brother well enough not to push the point. He got to his feet. "Come on Alan, we'd better be off. Gordon, don't forget the routine checks, and call base if anything at all comes up."
      "All right granddad," grinned Gordon. "I have been up here before you know."
      "I know."
      John and Alan went back to Thunderbird Three, and sealed the airlocks.
      "Push over Alan, I'll fly. Initiate release procedure, Gordon."
      Within minutes Thunderbird Three was on its way home. Alan was, for once, happy to let John take over as pilot. He went to lie down in the lounge. He was dozing when John woke him up with a blast of static over the intercom.
      "Wakie, wakie. Time to strap in, Alan."
      Alan went back up t the flight deck and called base. "Thunderbird Three requesting permission to land."
      "Permission granted."
      "FAB."

On to Chapter Two: Holidays.