International Rescue: The Next Phase

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #342 is a reply to message #341] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday 20th September, 2068, 1:30pm, Tracy Island

Pen kissed paper as Nikki wrote a new entry into her diary.

Am I ready?

That question has been niggling in my mind ever since it was suggested that I take a trip down to the hanger to see Thunderbird Seven. It's weird how I can face dangers in rescues but I can't face Seven. So much for me being over the whole tornado roller coaster.

Many times I've thought about going down there. I stand up, put on a brave face and then...I chicken out and sit back down or continue with something else.

Ever since the day of the accident, I've been wondering what my life would've been like if I wasn't approached to join the team. Would I still be working in the same hospital? Be living in London? Seeing someone?

Nikki sighed before continuing to write.

I guess there's no point in wondering, because I'll never know.

Having nothing else to write, Nikki put her diary away and looked out her window.

'No point staying in ,waiting around on a clear day like this,' she thought. Nikki looked at her watch. She still had an hour until she met up with Alan for another one-on-one basketball game. 'Might as well go for a walk and hang out on the beach before meeting up with Alan straight after.'

After changing her flip flops to trainers and grabbing a small bottle of water, Nikki headed out of her apartment.

She was five minutes into her walk when she noticed Scott sitting on the beach. From what she could tell, he seemed to be in deep thought as he looked towards the ocean. So she was surprised when he waved at her and said hi.

"Hey, Scott. You seemed to be concentrating so hard on the ocean, I didn't think you'd see me heading towards you. I wasn't sure if I should disturb you or not."

"I saw you out of the corner of my eye," Scott replied. "Not a lot gets by me, or did you forget about my paintball victory on my birthday."

"Ok, subject change," Nikki said. This caused Scott to laugh slightly. "Can I join you?"

"Sure," Scott looked towards the ocean again as Nikki sat down. "Heard that you and Alan have a basketball game later."

"Yeah. It's funny. The first time I played him, he took it easy on me, thinking I didn't know how to play. Now..."

"Let me guess. You beat him before or the scores were close and now he's trying to prove that he's better," Scott finished.


"It's an Alan thing."

"I think a guy thing is more accurate."

"Not all guys are competitive."

"Sure they're not." Nikki smiled. "You know as I said that, I was thinking about the paintball war."

"So much for the subject change." Scott smirked. "How about I come and referee the game?"

"I don't mind. Alan, on the other hand, probably wouldn't want anyone to witness him being beaten by a girl."

"Oh, I'm definitely coming to watch the game."

Posted by nikki on September 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #343 is a reply to message #342] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, September 20; Tracy Island; 2 PM (7 PM the previous day in San Francisco)

"Mr. Tracy, I finally got back the information on Will Abbott and Sammy Kyung. If you got the reports on the other two, perhaps we can make a choice, and get things moving."

"I was just about to contact you, Brains. Sally Miller and Sammy Kyung withdrew their applications. Apparently they've known each other for some time, and decided to get married. They're on their honeymoon, heading to Korea to meet his family."

"You're kidding!"

"Nope. They both put an addendum on their applications. You can look them up and see for yourself."

"That's ... Well, I have no words. What about - what was his name? - Henry Drake?"

"I was right to be wary about him. The background check on him turned up some interesting information. He was in prison for carjacking, and got out about three months ago. His application was plagiarized from another person's. The other guy got a good job with it, and Drake apparently thought it would work for him, too."

"So that leaves William Abbott. It turns out the family emergency was his younger brother, who got hooked on a narcotic that's been going around for a few years. It's known as Arise. Abbott had to resign from the Navy to help his family get his brother off of it. Apparently they were successful; his brother has remained clean, and has a good job."

"Interesting. Sounds like the man knows how to keep things to himself. But I'm sure he'd realize that if we interviewed him, we'd ask about that. I think we should have him come here, and find out if he's what we need."

"I agree, Mr. Tracy. But we can't really spare anyone to go get him right now."

"True. I'll contact the HR department in Christchurch and have them arrange transportation on a commercial airline. We can spare someone, I'm sure, to pick him up there and bring him here."


8:30 PM Wednesday, September 19, Will's apartment

The syncopated ring tone told Will that he had a long distance call coming in. At first he thought it might be from someone in his family, but one look at his caller id screen told him otherwise.


"Is this Mr. Abbott?"

"Yes, that's right."

"I'm Jack Tripper, with Tracy Industries Human Resources in Christchurch. Mr. Tracy liked your application and would like you to fly out here for an interview."

"He would? When?"

"Would the day after tomorrow be too soon?"

"Friday?" Will thought about it. "Yeah I can be ready."

"Good. I'm emailing you the information now. We've reserved a plane ticket for you, which you'll pick up at the airport, of course. Plan to stay for two nights at Mr. Tracy's home."

Will turned his computer on and a minute later saw the email in his box. "I got it. I'll be there."

"Well, I'm sure you have things to do to get ready, so I'll hang up now. Have a good flight."

"Thanks, Mr. Tripper."

When the call terminated, Will opened the email. The flight leaves at 11:45 AM Friday and arrives in Christchurch at... 2:50 PM the next day?? I lose over a whole day in one, he checked the information again and did some calculating, eight hour flight? Man! Well, I guess I'll make up for it when I come back. And it's a first-class ticket. They do know how to treat their employees well. Man, this is happening faster than I expected. Well, I know Carl can take over for me, so the transition will be smooth. Of course, that's if I get the job.

He shut down his computer and stood up, then sat back down. "I'm doin' it; I'm really doin' it. I sure hope I don't blow it."

Posted by hobbeth on September 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #344 is a reply to message #343] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, September 20, 2068, 5:45 p.m., Christchurch, New Zealand (same time on Tracy Island)

"I'm so excited!"

Cherie nearly squirmed with happiness in the seat of the family's sports car as Virgil pulled into the parking lot at the Christchurch Community Center. The two of them had come to the city early so Cherie could purchase the supplies she'd need for the class. They had dinner together at a local fast-food eatery; not one of Virgil's favorites, but Cherie had declared, "Sometimes I miss McDonald's," in such a pitiful voice that he couldn't help but indulge her.

He grinned as they talked over burgers and fries. I don't get to spend a lot of just brother-sister time with Cherie. This Thursday night thing could be a regular date. And while she's in class, I can shop for myself. It'll be a nice time away from the island, too.

As they pulled into the parking lot, they noticed a number of teenage girls and boys getting out of cars and vans, and heading into the center. A young woman stopped by their car on the driver's side, and Virgil rolled the window down. "Mr. Tracy?"

"Yes?" Virgil looked up at the dark-skinned girl, and surreptitiously pulled a picture out of a folder. Cherie looked at the picture, then ducked her head to see the young woman standing by Virgil's door. "You're our contact?"

"Yes, I'm Airini Wirihana." The young woman didn't look much older than a teenager, but Virgil knew better from reading her dossier.

"I'm Virgil Tracy, and this is my sister, Cherie," Virgil said, indicating the teen next to him.

Airini ducked her head to favor Cherie with a bright smile. "Nice to meet you both. I'll be your shadow, Miss Tracy, but will try not to get in the way."

Cherie nodded and sighed. She had already argued with her parents about the need for security, but Jeff had been adamant. "You'll have a bodyguard, Princess, but we'll work it out so won't be too onerous." He had put an arm around her and squeezed her gently. "You don't get upset about the security when you visit your Koch grandparents, do you?"

"No," she'd replied reluctantly. "They don't get in the way, but we know they're there."

"That's how it will be for your class," he had assured her. "You'll see."

Now the two Tracys got out of the car. Cherie grabbed her purse and her art bag, while Virgil took the bag of supplies they'd just bought. The last few stragglers were hurrying inside. Airini walked ahead of them and entered before they got to the door, while Virgil lingered a little at the doorway.

"Have a good time, sis," he said, handing her the bag. He held her by her upper arms and kissed her on the forehead. "I'll be back at 8:30 to pick you up."

"See you then," Cherie said, smiling hesitantly.

He stepped out of the way, and Cherie straightened her shoulders, took a calming breath, and went inside. Virgil watched her clear both sets of doors before turning, his hands in his pockets, and sauntering back to the sports car.

Inside, Cherie found her bodyguard waiting for her. Together, they walked down to the room where the art class was being taught. She noticed that Airini already seemed to know where to go. She probably scoped it out beforehand.

When they reached the room, Airini crossed the room and set her things on one of the drawing tables, leaving Cherie to look around for her own place to sit. There was a spot open by a dark-haired girl who looked to be about her own age. Cherie walked over slowly, and asked the girl, "Is this seat taken?"

"No, it's not." The girl smiled and indicated with a hand that Cherie was welcome to sit there.

Cherie smiled back, a little shyly, and set her things down. The girl leaned over. "By the way, I'm Anneliese." She held out her hand, and Cherie took it.

"I'm Cherie. Nice to meet you."

"You, too."

At that moment, the teacher, Mr. Jernigan, came in. Cherie settled into her seat, feeling a thrill that she was here, on her own, and doing something she loved. She glanced over at her neighbor, and smiled. Maybe I've even made a friend!

Posted by Tikatu on September 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #345 is a reply to message #344] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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September 21st, 1:30pm

The jet from Tracy Island made its way across the blue sky. Brandon was going for his pilot's license and had asked Scott to fly him the short distance to Christchurch. After taking off, Scott turned the controls over to him for a little more practice. As they flew along, he tried to make conversation."I bet you're excited to be going for your license."

There was no reply. He looked at his friend, noticing his look of concentration and the tight grip he had on the steering yoke. "Hey, you can loosen up a little," he said lightly. "You're flying a plane, not killing chickens."

Brandon relaxed his hands. God, I haven't felt like this since high school. I don't know why I'm so uptight about doing this. "Sorry. I guess I'm a little nervous," he answered, staying focused.

Scott was surprised by this revelation. Brandon had seemed more confident and sure during the last few flight training sessions. He thought a moment before speaking again. "Brandon, I've watched you fly. You'll pass the test, trust me."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Brandon replied. "I hope it's not misplaced. I want to do better than I did when I took my driver's test."

"Oh, didn't do too well the first time?" Scott asked.

"Pfffft, that's an understatement." Brandon shook his head. "The instructor wasn't exactly the most pleasant person to be with. Suffice to say, I didn't make a good first impression. I was so nervous; I did everything wrong. I jerked the steering wheel too hard, went up on the curb and hit the brakes too hard among other things."

"Take it easy," Scott replied, putting a hand on Brandon's shoulder. You'll do fine." Quickly changing the subject he asked, "So how are your parents doing?

Brandon smiled. "They're doing great. Dad's getting more feeling in his legs with each passing day and the therapist is amazed at the progress he's made. Hopefully, he'll be walking on his own soon. Mom's working in the garden again, and she told me Rocky's right there with her." Brandon chuckled softly. "I guess he wants to help her dig holes for the plants."

The jet approached Christchurch and Brandon handed the controls over to Scott, who brought it in for perfect landing. As they taxied to the terminal, both men saw the examiner, clipboard in hand, waiting for them.

As Scott brought the plane to a stop and shut down the engines, Brandon took a deep breath, unbuckling his seatbelt. "Here goes nothing; Wish me luck." He picked up his log book and exited the plane.

Posted by MagicMaster8 on September 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #346 is a reply to message #345] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Friday, September 21, Tracy Island; 1:30 PM

As the cargo plane came in for a landing, Jeff turned as he heard one of the golf carts approach. "Mother? What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I received an email from Marion that she had sent a package to me. It should be on this plane and I was too curious about what it contained to wait until it was brought inside. So I asked Kyrano to bring me down."

"She didn't give you any hints as to what might be in that package?"

"None whatsoever. Land sakes, some people can be mighty secretive." She looked at her son with a twinkle in her eye. "I wonder if it's something in the Kansas air, or water."

Jeff laughed, then turned as the plane taxied up. As the engines shut down, he walked over to the plane. "Afternoon, Ed. What do you have for us today?"

"Well, those computers you ordered came in. Then magazines, mostly. You do like to read about a wide variety of subjects, don't you?"

"Well, there are several people living here, and they all have their own interests," Jeff replied, as he took a bin from the pilot. "Oof, this is heavy, though."

"I'll take that, Dad."

Jeff glanced to his right and saw Virgil walking up to him, followed by Brains, an anti-gravity float behind them. "Gladly, son. Thank you," he replied, handing the bin over. As his second eldest son put the bin on the float, and the engineer went to get the computers, he turned back to the pilot. "What else?"

"A few personal letters, some legal looking ones - guess those would be for you from your business - and a couple of packages." Ed handed the items to him as he enumerated them. "Looks like someone ordered some new DVDs. And this one here is addressed to Mrs. Emily Tracy."

Jeff took the last package from him and said, "Hold on a minute." He walked over to the cart where his mother was waiting impatiently and handed it to her. Then he took another carton from the cart he drove to the airstrip, and walked back to the pilot. "Here's our outgoing mail. It's not as much as what you bring us, but..."

"But it's important to the sender - and the receiver, I know. Thanks, Mr. Tracy. I'll see that this gets to the post office as soon as I get back." Ed shut the hatch and headed back to the cockpit. "See you next week, sir. Take care of yourself."

"You too, Ed. Happy landings."

Jeff stepped back as the pilot started the engine, and watched as the plane taxied to the runway, then took off. Then he turned and started over to the carts, but stopped suddenly when he spotted his mother.

Something about the way she was sitting in the cart was different. She was looking down at the package in her lap, so he couldn't see her face.

"Mother! Are you all right? What's wrong?" He rushed over to her as Kyrano and Virgil, who had been sorting the mail, turned to look.

"Jeff, they've been found! They weren't lost! They weren't ruined! They've been found!"

"What's been found?"

She showed him the package. Inside were five framed eight by ten pictures. They were the ones that had hung on the living room wall in the Kansas farmhouse, behind the couch. The first one was of Emily and Grant on their wedding day; the next one was of the two of them with Jeff, when he was a baby. The third was of the three of them, taken when Jeff was in the Air Force. The fourth was of Jeff, Lucille and the five boys, when Alan was just a baby. The last one was taken on the day of Jeff's wedding to Dianne, with all of the family (except Emily, who'd been against the marriage at the start, and Grant, who had died some years earlier), including Dianne's three children, in the picture.

"These were the only copies I had of these pictures. They were never scanned into the computer." Tears began to trickle down her face, but her expression was one of relief and joy.

He slid in beside his mother and put his arm around her. "This is wonderful, Mom. But how?"

"I don't know." She leaned against his shoulder.

He searched the box, and found an envelope in the bottom. It had one word on it - "Emily". He started to hand it to her, saying, "Perhaps this will explain."

"You open it. I don't think I could read anything right now." Sitting up again, she sniffed, and took a tissue from her pocket, then blew her nose.

He smiled at her, then opened the envelope and took out a single sheet of paper. He scanned it, then read it aloud as Virgil and Kyrano moved closer.

Dear Emily,

You and I both know that strange things happen when tornados hit, but this took me by surprise. These pictures were blown thirty miles away, and landed in the front yard of a family whose house was untouched. At first, they didn't recognize the people in the photos, but when one of their kids was studying about the space program in school, he recognized Jeff, and they had the pictures sent to the farm.

The glass was cracked on all of them, and two of them had damage to the frames. But the pictures were totally intact! Amazing, isn't it?

Anyway, I took them into town and, as luck would have it, found a store that still sold the same frames, so I was able to replace the two that were damaged. And I got a good price on glass for all of them. So there you have it; all five of your favorite photos back, none the worse for having been in flight for goodness knows how long.

You tell that son of yours that he shouldn't even think of reimbursing me for the replacements I bought. If I'd wanted him to, I'd have sent him a bill. But I was glad to do this.

There was a lot of damage throughout the area, but people are starting to rebuild. There have been a few questions as to what you and Jeff want to do about the farm, but they were just questions of a social nature, not feelers. I told them you had too much on your minds, what with Dianne's accident and all, to give any thought to it, as far as I knew.

So there you have it. Something good coming out of a tragedy. By the way, how are Momma cat and her kittens doing? Please write me - or email me - when you get a chance, at least to let me know you got the package okay, and to tell me about the cats. I'm curious.

My best as always to the entire family.


Emily sniffed again, dabbed at her eyes with the tissue once more, and took the note from her son. "That Marion; what a treasure she is."

"Absolutely, Mom," he replied, as she handed the pictures to Virgil and Kyrano. They were joined by Brains, who had finally realized that something special was going on. "But I will send her a check for her trouble, no matter what she says."

"You'll do nothing of the sort, Jefferson Tracy!" Emily exclaimed. "She did what she did out of love, not duty!" A thoughtful expression showed on her face, and she smiled. "But a raise might be a good idea."

The three men chuckled. "Grandma, you are so right."

"And it's probably long overdue." Jeff then looked over at Kyrano, who smiled and shook his head.

"It is a good idea, Mr. Tracy. She deserves one, for all she does, not just for this. And if you're thinking the same about me, do not. I am very content with all you give me."

"Kyrano, you earn every penny, and more."

"But you have given me more. Far more than I ever could have dreamed of having. Think no more about it; all my present and future needs have been met, or will be, I am certain."

Virgil handed the pictures back to his grandmother, then put a hand on Kyrano's shoulder. "Of course they will. You are part of our family, and have been so for a long time. And soon, you will become more tied to us." He paused, then added, "I hope, though, that you don't expect me to call you 'Grandfather'. I'm not sure I could, after all these years."

"Fear not, Virgil. I do not expect that of you, or some of your brothers, unless they choose to do so. I would never force any of you to call me something; I shudder to think what Gordon might do if I did. I just hope that he doesn't decide to make me a target, once I become an 'official' family member."

"If he does, he'll have to deal with both Mother and Lisa. Hope I'm around to see that if it happens," chuckled Jeff.

Grins and chuckles greeted him as they all started back. Jeff went to his cart, and Virgil and Brains to the anti-grav float. As they walked away, they heard Kyrano ask, "Where do you plan to hang those pictures, Mrs. Tracy?"

Posted by hobbeth on September 3, 2008

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #347 is a reply to message #346] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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The incident with the smaller human hadn't frightened Blacktuft off. There's still so much to see... And so many cool things I can tell my friends! The tarantula had trekked from the jungle into the island's garden. It had been a long trek, and all eight of his legs were beginning to ache. I have to keep going until I find one of those humans...hopefully not that boy again though!

Blacktuft made his way up another large hill, and sifted his way into a large, dense clump of vegetation. The ground undulated, and loose debris made his legs slip and slide. When he emerged back into the sunlight, he found the ground smooth and strangely hard. What is this place? There was a large body of glimmering, bright blue water. It wasn't like the sea, with its crashing waves and streaks of white foam. It was uniform and gently rippling. He looked all around, and saw swaying palms, and strange, long, legged contraptions. On one of them was...a human! Blacktuft scuttled forwards in excitement. It was definitely a human, dressed completely in pink. I wonder what this one is like... He walked closer to his newest discovery, creeping over the hard ground without being noticed. Until...

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Paaaaaarker!"

Blacktuft leapt backwards a little, but steeled himself. No! I will not be afraid! He moved forwards again, and the human scrambled backwards up the strange contraption, still screaming. He moved forwards once more, and the screams grew louder.

Suddenly the contraption gave way, giving rise to a huge crash that reverberated through the ground. Blacktuft's little heart leapt at the calamity, and he turned and scurried backwards behind another of the long, tall human-supporters. Several more humans appeared and crowded around the one that had fallen. Blacktuft was shaking from leg one to leg eight, but beyond the fright, there was an incredible sense of achievement. I did it again! Close to another human! Yes!


"Milady!" Parker held onto his hat as he bounded down the stairs towards the pool at the sound of Penelope's screams. "I'm coming, milady!"

Virgil and Jeff, who had been in the lounge at the time, were hot on his heels, their faces pictures of worry, and their bodies fuelled by adrenaline.

Parker got there first, and found Penelope sitting in a heap on a broken recliner chair, her hair a mess, tear-tracks on her face, and holding her mouth. There was blood dripping from between her fingers. When Jeff saw that, he ordered Virgil to get Dianne; Virgil took the stairs back two at a time. Parker held out a hand to help Penelope up, and he settled the lady onto the nearest chair.

"What happened here Penny?" Jeff asked.

Penelope raised her eyes to meet his, and took her hand away from her mouth to reveal something pearly white lying in her palm, and a large gap where one of her front teeth should have been.

"Oh, Jeff, I am sorry to have created such a fuss," she said, gazing down at her tooth. "There was... oh, it sounds so silly, but there was a monstrous spider. It frightened me, and in my efforts to get away, the chair collapsed beneath me and in my fall, I appear to have broken one of my teeth. Oh, and I am modelling for François in two days. How frightfully inconvenient."

"What happened here?" Dianne asked as she jogged up to Penelope, Virgil behind her.

"A spider," Parker said. "A bloomin' spider's gone and frightened milady an' she's broken 'er tooth."

"Oh no," Dianne said. "Let me see the damage."

Dianne pulled on a pair of gloves from the medical bag she had brought, and tilted Penny's chin up to look into her mouth, and then at the fragment of tooth.

"There's not much I can do except give you something for any pain you have. You need a dentist, and fast. The quicker you get it attached, the more successful it will be."

"Quite," Penelope said.

"I'll call and see if I can organise something for today with our new dentist in Christchurch. It's worth a shot," Jeff said, before jogging back up to the villa.

"Thank you," Penelope said.

Virgil, hovering in the background, almost caught himself smiling. She's just had an unceremonious fall and one of her teeth has been broken, and yet she's still maintaining her composure. Not like the mouse incident! She's really something.

Posted by ArtisticRainey on September 5, 2008

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #348 is a reply to message #347] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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"It was rather a good turn that Jeff was able to get me fitted in," Penelope said.

She and Parker were sitting in the waiting room of the Crane Dental Surgery. Jeff had gotten Penelope a slot that had been cancelled just before he had rung the practice.

"Yus, milady, very convenient."

Penelope was every inch the elegant lady, though she refrained from opening her mouth or smiling unless speech was necessary. A blonde girl was sitting behind the reception desk, twirling her hair between her fingers, and chewing gum loudly, with her mouth wide open. How rude, Penelope thought. She watched as the girl picked up the telephone as soon as it rang, still chewing.

"Okay, I'll send her in."

The girl put the phone down, and stood to lean over the desk.

"Ms Creighton-Ward? Go ahead to surgery one, Ms Fernandez will see you now."

Penelope smiled demurely at the girl, vaguely wondering if any of her manners would rub off on a woman who so desperately needed them. I have never been called 'Ms' in my life...

"Milady?" Parker asked, holding out a small, sealed cup.

"Oh, thank you Parker."

She accepted the cup that she knew contained her broken tooth, and walked through to the appropriate room, knocking before she entered.

"Hello, Lady Penelope. How nice to meet you again, although in unfortunate circumstances. However in saying that, the circumstances in which we first met were not pleasant. I believe you held a gun in my face."

It took Penny a few moments to connect a name with the face of the small woman in dental scrubs standing before the recliner chair, but she did.

"Ms Toulouse," she said. "Or rather, Ms Fernandez."

The two women stood watching each other for several moments. Penelope was going through past events in her mind. She imagined Izarra Fernandez was doing the same.


Penelope's face was cold and steely as she stood with one arm outstretched, holding out her compact, semi-automatic pistol. Her long coat and her hair were swept about on the strong winds as she stood outside a large, dark warehouse at the side of the Thames.

"Put down your weapon," the other woman said, holding up her hands. "I believe we are working towards the same end."

"I think not," Penelope replied, still holding the gun steady. "I believe you are just who I am looking for."

"My name is Izarra Toulouse, Centro Nacional de Inteligencia. I too am investigating the MacMillian drug ring -- we believe they have been transporting cocaine from their base here to locations in mainland Europe -- including my own Spain."

"And what if I don't believe you?" Penelope asked.

"Then you will shoot an innocent person who could have helped you. But you won't shoot me. You know that you will not. I have my identification with me; I can show you."

"Don't move," Penelope said as Izarra moved her hand towards her pocket. "I believe you are armed."

"You are right. Let me unarm myself then, and I will show you that I am legitimate."

"Put down your weapon." Penelope said.

Izarra acquiesced; she set a gun down that Penelope recognised as a .44 Magnum Colt, as well as two small, gleaming daggers.

"I will take off my coat, and you may search me," Izarra said. "I am not your enemy."

Penelope moved closer, unafraid, but still holding her gun. She placed the barrel to Izarra's temple as she performed a frisk with one hand; the woman was clean.

"All right. Your identification," she said, moving backwards.

Izarra reached into one of the pockets of her trousers, and produced the appropriate document, throwing it across to Penelope. In her work in MI6, Penelope knew of the seals and codes of the other world-wide intelligence agencies. It was legitimate. She lowered her gun.


"I was glad to hear that MI6 were successful in catching the criminals," Izarra said.

"As was I. By that time I had left the organisation."

Izarra chuckled, and Penelope pinned her with a look.

"Do you not find this humorous? You and I, once spies, now meeting in such benign circumstances? It is strange."

"Yes, I suppose it is."

"Now, how may I help you? Mr Tracy told me you had broken one of your teeth."

"Yes, in a rather untimely accident. I am modelling in two days' time; I rather need it back."

"Let me see."

Penelope gave the container full of milk that the fragment of her tooth was floating in, and Izarra nodded her head.

"Ah. It is a clean break; I'll be able to lazer it together in no time, and it will not look any different. Please, take a seat."

She gestured to the reclining dental chair, and Penelope lay back on it gracefully. I shall have to tell Jeff of this discovery. This woman has quite the reputation.

Posted by ArtisticRainey on September 5, 2008

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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 20:14]

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #349 is a reply to message #348] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Friday, September 21, 9:30 a.m. NYC (Saturday, September 22, 1:30 a.m. Tracy Island)

"Thanks for coming with me, Jordan," Cassie said to her older brother who was standing next to her. It being midmorning, the subway car was packed and the two of them were near the door, holding onto the rail overhead. Under her other arm, Cassie held a small shoe box.

"It's not a problem," Jordan told her. "I still can't believe you're heading for Wichita, though. Now who am I going to drag to bars with me so I can check out women without looking desperate?"

Cassie laughed. Jordan was the only one of the triplets not married. He had broken up with a long time girlfriend a few months back, and had just recently started dating again. More than once, Cassie had gone out to the bar with him only to have him hook up with someone and leave her looking for a ride home.

"You would think you could find someone at the hospital to date," Cassie replied.

"The problem is, all the nurses in the ER have heard my lines," Jordan joked. "This is our station, right?"

Cassie looked out the window of the subway car. "Yeah, this is it," she said, easily recognizing the subway station she had used for so many years.

The two siblings made their way off the car and toward the exit. Following the crowd, they made their way up to the street level. They walked down to the corner and turned left. Two blocks later they were standing outside of her old apartment building. Leading Jordan up the steps, Cassie headed inside, nodding to Jack, the doorman, who held the door open for them.

Cassie headed over to the front desk. She had called Alex last night and told him she wanted to stop by for some of the photos in their photo albums. He had told her he would leave a key for her at the front desk.

"Hi, Cassie," Isaac greeted her, as she approached the front desk.

"Hi, Issac. Alex was supposed to leave me a key for the apartment."

"Ah yes," Isaac said. He walked to the other end of the desk and unlocked a drawer. He took out an envelope, which he handed to Cassie. "There it is. Alex said to tell you to just leave the key in the apartment."

"Thank-you, Isaac," Cassie replied, taking the envelope.

Jordan followed her to the elevator and soon, Cassie and Jordan were standing outside of the apartment she used to share with Alex. She took the key out of the envelope and let them in. As she hadn't wanted to face him, she had purposely come when Alex would be at work.

Alex had put the photo albums, four in total, on the coffee table. A piece of paper sat on top of them. She put the key down beside the albums and picked up the note.


Here are all the photo albums. Take whichever photos you want as you were always the photographer anyway. I never did care much for taking pictures. If you want a photo album or two, that's fine, too. Also feel free to look around and make sure all your stuff is out.

Good luck on your new job.

"Let's get this over with," Cassie said to her brother, as she tossed the note down on the coffee table. She sat down on the couch, without removing her jacket, and put the shoe box down beside her. Jordan sat down on the other side of her. "Can you go through this one?" she asked, handing him the photo album that held the wedding pictures. "I just want some pictures of our family."

"Got it," Jordan said, taking the album from her and flipping it open.

Cassie took the next album. It had pictures from when Alex and she had been in high school. It seemed like ages ago. She flipped through the pages, taking out pictures here and there. Very few of them had Alex in them and those that did were group pictures. There were pictures from her cheerleading meets. The senior trip to Washington, D.C. Her high school graduation.

A half hour later there was one photo album left. Cassie hesitated in picking it up.

"You okay?" Jordan asked, resting a hand on her shoulder.

Cassie nodded. "It's just that Nathan's pictures are in there."

Her brother slipped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick hug. "I know you miss him, and at some point you're going to want pictures of him to remember him by." Cassie nodded, knowing he was right. "If you want, I'll pick out the pictures. You can take Alex's suggestion and look around and make sure you haven't forgotten anything."

Cassie nodded. She stood up and started looking around the rest of the apartment while Jordan picked up the last photo album and started going through it. Alex hadn't changed the apartment much at all. There were empty spots on the wall where the pictures she now had used to hang. The mantle above the electric fireplace was now empty as that was where her grandmother's tea pot, cups and other utensils used during a tea ceremony used to sit. Those items were already carefully wrapped and packed for the trip to Tracy Island. Above the mantle hung Alex's degree. There was clean square on the wall from where her own degree from NYU used to hang.

Next, Cassie walked into the bedroom Alex and she had shared. Clothes were strewn everywhere. Evidently since he now lived alone, picking up after himself wasn't a priority. She didn't stay long, knowing she had thoroughly cleared her stuff from this room when she had originally moved out. Next to that was the small bedroom that had been Nathan's. The door was closed. As far as she knew, it hadn't been opened since the accident.

Taking a deep breath, she turned the knob and walked inside. As she suspected, things were in the same exact place she had left them as she had gotten Nathan ready for day care that afternoon. She walked slowly into the room, remembering her son's laughter and cries that had so often filled the small room.

Up on a shelf sat Nathan's first pair of shoes. Cassie reached up and took one down, turning it over in her hand. In her mind, she could see the night Nathan had taken his first step. She and Alex had been sitting on the couch watching a movie; Nathan had been playing with his toys on the floor in front of him. The little boy had grown tired of the toys and had used the coffee table to pull himself into a standing position. He had then turned and taken a couple of wobbly steps toward his parents before falling on his bottom.

Cassie wiped the tears away, and put the one shoe in her jacket pocket. She'd leave the other one for Alex. Turning from the shelf, she walked slowly around the rest of the room. Reaching the door again, she looked at the crib in the center. Nathan's favorite teddy bear and blanket lay there. Taking the few steps needed to reach the crib, she reached in and took the two items out. Jordan was right. She would want things to remember her son by once the pain of losing him had healed.

Wiping more tears away, Cassie left the room, pulling the door shut behind her. Jordan was just standing up from the couch, the shoe box in hand. He looked from his sister's to face to the bear and blanket in her hand and knew what was going on. Putting the box on the coffee table, he crossed over to her and hugged her tight.

A few minutes later, Cassie pulled away. "Let's get out of here," she said. "I've got to be at work at three."

"Okay," Jordan said. He picked the shoe box up from the coffee table. Cassie followed her brother out of the apartment.

The walk to the subway station was quiet. Cassie wasn't in the mood to talk and Jordan didn't know what to say to his sister. After swiping their metro cards in the turnstiles, Jordan finally spoke up.

"You want me to go back to Mark's with you?"

"No, I'll be fine. I know it's out of your way. I guess I should take the box now."

"Actually, let me keep it for now. I'll buy you a photo album and put the pictures in it before you leave. That way, you can't sneak off to Kansas without saying good-bye to me."

"You know I wouldn't do that."

Jordan smiled. "I know. Just the same, I want to do this for you."

Cassie nodded. "Thanks," she told him, knowing it would be a long time down the road before she would even consider taking the time to put those pictures in an album herself. She gave her brother a hug before the two parted to catch their respective trains.

Posted by starrynebula on September 5, 2008

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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 20:14]

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #351 is a reply to message #349] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Saturday, September 22, 2068; aboard Thunderbird Five; 2:45 a.m. Tracy Island Time

Callie was sleeping soundly in her quarters after a fairly boring day of flagging calls, none of them requiring International Rescue's assistance. She was anticipating watching her college football team face a tough rival the next day.

As her sleep fell deeper, she started hearing an odd laughter. "Mmm...what the--?" As the laughter became louder and more wicked, she started tossing and turning violently.

Suddenly, a low male voice could be heard. "So, my dear, we meet again."

"Huh!?" She awakened and saw a bald-headed man looking down at her. "What the hell!?" she gasped as she jumped out of her bed. ", you can't be here! There's no way you can be up here!"

With an evil smile on his face and an eerie yellow glow in his eyes, the Hood chuckled. "You are quite mistaken. I know how to get around...even somewhere this far from Earth."

She grabbed her hard-cover book and threw it at him. "Get out of here, you jerk! I don't know how you got on the station, but I'm sure gonna get you outta here one way or another!"

As the book went right through him, he laughed harder. "Do you honestly believe you can stop me? I will get the secrets of International Rescue from you!"

"If you can do that, then I'm Bear Bryant!" Running to the closet to get the broom, she started swinging wildly. "Either get out of here or take a headache!"

Little did she know her constant movements in bed activated the alarms on the monitor bubbles.

Tracy Island; 2:50 a.m.

Nikki, the official medic on duty, was asleep in her quarters when she suddenly heard an alarm. Waking fast, she said, "An emergency call now?" She realized the alarm sounded different than the regular emergency klaxon. "It must be Thunderbird Five. Brains tested this out last week to make sure the special alert was working properly."

Grabbing her robe, she quickly ran to the monorail and rode it to the Villa. From there, she sprinted to the sick room and checked readings from the monitor bubbles. "Oh, my. Callie's blood pressure and heart rate are far too high."

When she turned on the cameras, she saw Callie moving all over her bed. "She must be having a nightmare. I hope I can get through to her somehow. If not, I may need Dr. Tracy."

Callie continued swinging away at the Hood in desperation. "Go away, you monster! You won't get anything from me!"

"Callie, listen to me, it's Nikki. Wake up! You're having a nightmare! You've got to snap out of it!"

When she heard Nikki's voice over the loudspeakers, Callie became more confused. "Stop! Go away! Leave me alone!" she cried, swinging her arms wildly and nearly rolling off her narrow bunk.

"I can't get through to her. I have no choice." Nikki spoke into her communicator. "Doc?"

In the master bedroom, Dianne heard her wristcomm beeping. Turning it on, she noticed Nikki in the sick room. Still half-asleep, she slowly said, "Nikki?"

"I apologize for waking you up, Doc, but it's Callie. She's having a nightmare and won't respond to my calls."

Dianne slowly sat up and rubbed her hand through her hair. "Okay, keep trying," she said with a half-yawn. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

Jeff rolled over and blearily blinked his eyes. "Honey? Wha's wrong?"

"Callie's having a nightmare again. I'm going to give Nikki a hand in trying to get her to wake up. You just go back to sleep."

"S'okay, luf," he muttered. He rolled over, and Dianne gave him a quick kiss just before he went back to sleep.

She put on her robe and hurried down to the sick room. Sitting next to Nikki, she tried to get through to Callie. "Callie, it's Dianne. I need you to wake up, okay? You're having a bad dream, that's all."

Still struggling in her fight, she heard Dianne's voice. "Doc? Where are you?"

"She cannot help you now," said the Hood angrily. "Your secrets will be mine!"

Callie slowly realized how unreal this whole event was. "Wait a minute. You couldn't get up here without serious astronaut training, you creep! Now get out of here before I really get mad, and you wouldn't like me at that point!"

In an explosion of light, the Hood literally vanished.

With a sudden gasp, she awakened to reality. "What...what happened to me?"

"Callie?" said Dianne. "Can you hear me?"

She looked around her room and realized there was nothing out of place. "Doc? Is that you?"

"Yes, it's me. Are you all right?"

"I am now. Wow, what a nightmare." Callie rubbed her head. "I thought they were going away."

Nikki spoke, "Your vital signs were going crazy at one point."

"Oh, man, I'm sorry for waking the two of you like that."

"It's okay," said Dianne. "Listen, I'm going to put in a call to Anna later this morning and tell her about what happened. She may want to talk to you, too, but I'll let her be the judge of that."

"I thought the anti-depressants were working," Callie said.

"Hm." Dianne thought for a moment. "Callie, when was the last time you had a nightmare like this?"

It was Callie's turn to think. "I guess... I guess this is the first real nightmare I've had in almost two months."

"Then the drugs are working, to an extent. We may just have to tweak them a little."

With a sigh, Callie said, "Am I ever going to recover from this?"

"Sure you will. It's just going to take a little longer than we expected. Will you be all right now?"

Callie nodded. "Yeah, I think so. I guess I'll be talking with Anna sometime in the next couple of days?"

"Very likely. It could be as soon as tomorrow, so I want you to be prepared for that call."

"F-A-B. I just hope we don't get an emergency call at the same time."

Dianne smiled. "So do I. Now try to get some shut-eye."

"Right...and thanks, Doc. You, too, Nikki."

"Glad to be of help," said Nikki. "Take it easy up there."

"F-A-B." It took Callie a few minutes to finally fall asleep again, but she managed to do so.

Nikki put the monitor on stand-by again, then stood, stretched and yawned.

"Brains had a good idea when he installed the system in our individual rooms," she said. "At least I could tell it wasn't the regular emergency call."

Dianne rubbed her eyes and nodded. "I agree. Nice job in responding, Nikki. I'll see you in the morning."


The two women parted ways and soon returned to sleep.

--disturbed sleep by TracyFan4Ever on September 5, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #352 is a reply to message #351] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Friday, September 21, 2068, 5 p.m., Wiltshire, England (4 a.m., the next day, Tracy Island)

Kat drove her Lotus Elise back into the mews behind her parents' home. She was excited; she'd just found a flat of her own in the next town over, not far from where she worked. Her standards had been exacting: it had to be furnished, have a balcony and a secure garage for her car. The place she had found was on the second story, and had stairs up, so moving was not going to be an easy thing.

While the rental agent showed her the flat, she tried hard not to compare it to the one she had just left. Standing on the balcony, she swallowed her disappointment at the view, squelching the memory of palm trees gently waving in the breeze. She tried to tune out the noise of the street below as a fire tender came through, sirens wailing, and savagely dispelled the soothing sound of the ocean waves lapping on the shore. The pungent smell of someone cooking with onions and garlic rose up, and she had to clamp tightly on the remembered scent of the sea. The flat wasn't as big as her Cliff House home, but it was what she could afford, and it would suffice.

"Kat, dear!" Her mother came from the kitchen as Kat entered the house. "Several large boxes have come for you today. They came from your home in Kansas."

"Oh!" Kat replied, startled. "Where are they?"

"I put the smaller ones in your room, and the larger ones in the box room. Most of the customs markings on the smaller parcels said they contained clothing. The ones marked as books are very heavy! How many did you take with you?"

"Quite a few, I fear," Kat replied, already heading up to her bedroom. I wonder how the Tracys made the boxes look like they were posted from Kansas.

She opened the door to her room to find a stack of smaller boxes in one corner. One large box lay across her bed. The customs markings said it was "one classical guitar". She smiled to see it. I'd forgotten I'd brought it along.

Pulling it off the bed, she all but stumbled over one very solid, square carton on the floor behind her. Setting the guitar box upright (after reading the labels to discover which end was up), she sat on the edge of her bed, and pulled the carton over to her. It was heavy, and Kat was not surprised to see it had "Books" written on the customs forms. "Perhaps that mystery I was reading is in here. I was unable to finish it before I left."

She opened the crate with some difficulty; the Tracys were obviously very good at packaging things. Smiling at seeing her familiar friends, she began to pull them out one by one, stacking them haphazardly on her bed. But her smile faded as she pulled another, less familiar book from the box. A Guide To The Heavens. She turned the book over, to see the author's handsome, smiling face, and she sighed. Then, she opened the book's cover.

There, in his precise handwriting, was a message: "Keep looking to the stars, Kat. Your friend, John G. Tracy."

Friend. Just... friend. With that thought, all the memories she'd been suppressing that afternoon came flooding into her mind, filling her with a great sense of loss. She clutched the book tightly to her chest as the hot tears began to fall.

Posted by Tikatu on September 5, 2008

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #353 is a reply to message #352] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Friday September 21st 2068, 9.00pm, Kansas (Saturday 22nd, 2.00pm, Tracy Island)

Matt Hawkins sucked deeply on his cigar as he leant against his car, waiting. He was parked on a side-road off the main highway into Wichita. The ground crunched when he adjusted his stance, and the air was tinged with cold. The near-by fields were barren, bereft of their sunflowers and wheat -- the farmers had already finished their harvest. He knew they were already preparing for the next growing season. It's the nature of the business.

He took another draw of smoke as he saw a car pulling onto the road he was parked by. As he expected, it pulled over behind his. The driver sat inside the vehicle for several minutes. Matthew kept his attention on his cigar. Eventually, Margaret Houston stepped out of her sedan, and stared at him.

"I'm surprised you came," Matthew said.

"Let's cut the crap. You said you had something for me." Margaret folded her arms and began tapping one foot. "I'm not going to wait around."

Matthew sneered at her, and dug one hand into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a small data card, and threw it to the woman. She caught it.

"What's this?" She asked, clearly unimpressed.

Matthew tapped his cigar and let the ash fall to the ground. In the dimming light, he watched it swirl away on the light wind.

"Bring that card to your bank and have them deposit the money that's on it. A total of fifty thousand dollars."


"In return for this money, you leave my son and my grandson alone."

"What? It's my son; your son took him away from me."

"Oh, you cut the crap this time, Margaret. You used Dominic, and you left him, and you didn't want anything to do with him or the baby. I don't know what idiotic idea has gotten into your head, but you cannot take the child from him."

"What the hell do you care, anyway?" Margaret snapped. "He told me all about you. You abandoned him!"

"And now I'm trying to make up for it!" Matthew strode forwards until he was leering down into the woman's face. "I've made a lot of mistakes and I'm not proud of myself. I'm trying to build up a relationship with the son I should never have left."

"And so am I!"

"But why? Why now? I have it on good authority that you were unceremoniously dumped by your fiancé; now you want your son back?"

"How did you know that?"

Margaret was on the verge of tears.

"Listen sweetheart, I'm a very important man in this town. I know everything that goes on here, and I know everything about you. You want love? Go buy yourself a kid with that money. I don't give a damn what you do, as long as you leave my son alone. You've already caused him enough pain, and the only way you'll get to cause him more is over my dead body. Understood?"

Margaret stood frozen on the spot, tears beginning to spill down her cheeks. She looked down at the data card in her hand, and then back up at Matthew. You've got a deal. I'll pull out of the case. So long as I never, ever have to speak to you again. We're strangers."

"Fine by me."

Margaret stuffed the card back in her pocket, before striding back to her car and getting in. She slammed the door, and the wheels spun as she rode hard on the accelerator, turned the car sharply, and sped off. Matthew stubbed out his cigar on the ground, before picking it back up and depositing it in the ashtray of his car. It's done...

Posted by ArtisticRainey on September 6, 2008

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #354 is a reply to message #353] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
Messages: 1228
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Christchurch, NZ, Saturday, September 22, 10:30 am...

Luke stared blankly at the wall of paint chips. Off to his left, Nikki and Elise chatted happily, comparing one color to another. John had disappeared, claiming he was going to get them a dolly, but he'd been gone over fifteen minutes now and Luke figured he was trying to avoid being asked for advice.

Luke sighed as he glanced down at his watch. The four of them had left right after breakfast, landing in Christchurch around nine. By the time they had gotten the car and made their way to the store, it was nearly ten. The girls dragged Luke straight to the paint section, claiming they couldn't do any real shopping until they had the walls figured out. I suppose they're right, Luke thought to himself, but God, I hate shopping. Whose bright idea was this anyway? His thoughts were interrupted by Elise calling his name.

"Hello! Earth to Luke! What do you think of these?" She held out some chips for him to look at.

Luke shrugged. "They're OK."

"OK? OK? A little enthusiasm here."

John appeared at their side pushing a large flatbed dolly. "So, what have you decided?"

Elise glared at Luke. "Nothing yet. Here, John, do you like these colors?"

John held up his hands. "Hey, leave me out of it. I'm just the hired hand!"

Nikki giggled as Elise rolled her eyes. "All right, Nikki and I thought this one here, Desert Sands, would be nice for the living room." She handed Luke the chip.

He looked down at it. "It's tan."

"Desert Sands," Elise corrected. "And this one for your bedroom."

"Green. That works."

Nikki shook her head. "It's called Spruce. It's a warm green, and with the right bedding and curtains, the room will look great."

Luke got a pained look on his face. "Bedding? Curtains?"

Elise nodded matter of factly, "Of course. What did you think, you were keeping that moth eaten blanket you have on the bed now?"

"Hey! I've had that since college," Luke protested.

Elise arched one eyebrow. "And your point is?"

John elbowed Luke. "Just smile and nod; it's easier."

"I heard that," Nikki said. John merely grinned.

"Fine, Spruce and...Desert Sands. Paint done." Luke turned away.

"Not quite. We still need something for the kitchen area, and do you want satin, gloss, semi-gloss or matte finish?" Elise asked.

"Matte what?" Luke asked, dumbfounded as John tried not to laugh and Elise sighed in frustration. "Look, I trust you two, that's why I asked you to come help in the first place. So, get whatever you think works. John and I are heading over to the lumberyard to pick up what I need for bookshelves. We'll meet you at the check out." Luke all but dragged John away. When they were out of sight, Luke glanced over at his friend. "I didn't think we were going to get out of that alive."

John chuckled. "Just think, you still have bedding and curtains to buy."

Luke groaned. "Oh God, this it torture...And before you say it, yes, I know it was my idea." They made their way to the lumberyard, and Luke sorted through the boards. He picked out some nice oak ones, examining each one carefully first. Then loading those on the dolly, he selected some two by fours and other assorted pieces. Finally he decided he was done, and he and John made their way to the check out. They found Elise and Nikki waiting, eight cans of paint on the counter. "Do I want to know?" Luke asked, grinning.

"It would serve you right if we got pink," Elise told him.

"Aww, would you really do that to me?" Luke asked, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and batting his eyes at her.

Elise shook her head, but smiled. "Good thing you're not straight; you'd have the female population falling at your feet."

"Who says I don't anyway?" he replied with a wink.

Laughing, they paid for their purchases, arranging for them to be sent to the airport. Nikki and Elise then led them to a department store and headed straight to the interior decorating section. It took time, but Luke finally settled on a plaid comforter in shades of dark green, navy blue and maroon on a tan base. He chose curtains in the same shade of maroon for the sliding doors in the bedroom, and navy ones for the living room.

"What about couch pillows?" Nikki asked.

"What about them?" Luke replied.

"Hopeless, men are hopeless," she muttered.

"That's why we depend on you, right, John?" Luke called out.

John shook his head. "Oh no, I'm Switzerland here. Not getting in the middle of this one, either." They all laughed.

They made their way down the escalator, where Elise paused thoughtfully as they passed the women's department. "You know, Nikki, while we're here..."

Nikki smiled, "I was just thinking the same thing."

"No! No way! I picked out paint, bedding, curtains, even pillows! I am NOT going clothes shopping," Luke insisted.


"No." Both Luke and Elise glared at each other, arms folded across their chests.

John stepped forward. "OK, as Switzerland, I'm proposing a truce. Elise, you and Nikki go get what you need. Luke and I will go finish up getting whatever else he needs. Will that work for everyone?" They nodded. "Good. Have fun and we'll see you at lunch." With that Luke and John headed one way, and Elise and Nikki the other.


Later, around 2:30 PM...

"There, that's it. Done!!" Luke said as he paid for his groceries. They were going to be delivered to the plane which freed the two men from having to cart them back to the airport.

"Anything else you need to get?" John asked.

Luke thought for a moment. "I don't think so...House stuff, food, pet supplies....I think I'm all set. Want to go grab a cup of coffee or something while we wait for the girls?"

John nodded. "Sure. I have another hour or so before I meet our interviewee. I know where there's a great bookstore-coffee shop."

"Lead the way."

A short time later, both men were seated at a table, drinking coffee and sharing a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Luke glanced at the book stacks behind him. "I need to see what they have for fishing books. Bet you don't have many rainbow or cut-throat trout on the island."

"No, we probably don't. Gordon does some beach and deep sea fishing once in a while, and I know Alex has explored some of the jungle. If anyone knows where there are some freshwater streams, it would be him. Get him to show you sometime. You two nature buffs would have a field day," John grinned.

Luke chuckled. "I'll do that. I asked him and Tyler to keep an eye on Rommel for me while we were gone. I don't want him in the pool again."

John laughed. "Don't blame you. Wet dog, eww." He took a sip of his coffee as the two sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes. "So, how did you get involved in Search and Rescue?"

"This is going to sound cheesy, but when I was a kid, I knew I wanted to grow up and be a ranger. I was always outside somewhere, fishing, hunting, hiking, exploring. It was just sort of natural that I'd go that direction." Luke took a cookie. "I worked all over the West for a few years, then took a weekend search and rescue course. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so I took some more in-depth courses and got certified."

"Cool. We sort of fell into it, family business and all," John grinned.

Luke laughed. "I can see that! Anyway, my career's been pretty uneventful until the last few weeks. Started with Barry leaving, then the plane crash, and ending up here. But, I'm looking forward to the challenge. Can't wait to get in there, if you know what I mean."

John nodded. "So, how did you and Barry meet?"

"At a party. I'm not the 'go out and party type', but the gang from work dragged me there. Barry was tending the bar and we got to talking. We dated on and off for a few months, then I got into a bad accident at work."

John frowned. "Accident?"

Luke nodded. "Avalanche. We managed to find all the victims and were getting them off the mountain when a news helicopter showed up to cover the story. The noise triggered another slide and I got caught in it. Broke my arm and my ankle, both on the same side, of course. The ankle was pretty bad; the docs wouldn't put me in a walking cast, so with the arm, I couldn't even hobble around on crutches. Barry offered to move in for a few weeks to help me out and things went on from there."

"Why did you guys split up? If you don't mind me asking."

"No, not at all. Barry's in advertising. He'd been commuting from Boulder to Denver and then got offered a big promotion in L.A. He would have been a fool not to take it. Plus, I was spending more and more time up at the SAR cabin so we really didn't see each other as much as we used to and we just drifted apart." Luke toyed with his coffee mug, his thoughts clearly on his ex.

"I'm sorry," John said. "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

Luke shook his head and smiled. "Don't worry about it." He drained the last of his coffee and got to his feet. "I'll go find those books and we can get out of here."

Posted by lillehafrue on September 9, 2008

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #355 is a reply to message #354] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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September 22, 4 PM; Christchurch Airport

Whew, thought Will, as he walked into the waiting area. I thought I'd never get through customs. I hope whoever is meeting me didn't get tired of waiting. He looked around as he walked, his carry on hanging from his shoulder. Soon he spotted a face he'd seen in a picture, and walked over to the man.

"John Tracy?"

"Yes. Are you Will Abbott?"

"That's right." Will held out his hand and John shook it. "I recognized you from one of your book covers; I have it at home. I like how you made the subject matter easier to understand, and interesting for the layman."

"Thank you; I appreciate your feedback," John replied. "Do you have anything to pick up at baggage claim?"

"Nope." Will indicated his shoulder bag. "This is all I brought."

"Then let's head for the jet. You'll meet three of the other people who are working for us." He led Will to a transport vehicle

"Jet? You don't live in Christchurch?"

"No," came the reply as the transport started moving. "We live on an island. Don't worry, it's a short flight, but you can only get there by boat or aircraft."

"I see. That's why there was no mention of autos in the ad."

"Right. We don't have any roads where we live. But there are other vehicles you might be interested in working on. We don't always get around on foot."

By this time, they had reached the terminal where the jet waited. They got off and walked out. Will saw another man and two women loading different packages aboard. John turned to him and said, "Would you mind lending a hand? We can get away sooner if you do."

"No problem." Will swung his bag off his shoulder and on to the tarmac, then grabbed one end of a large, long box, while John took the other. With their help, the jet was soon loaded, and Will picked up his bag again.

The cargo transport was moved off and they all boarded the jet, where John introduced Will to Elise, Nikki and Luke.

Will smiled and shook hands with each person then, still holding Luke's hand, looked at John, then back at the other man. Letting go, he smiled and said, "John and Luke, huh? If one of you tells me that Matthew and Mark are waitin' at our destination, I'm gonna get worried."

Amid the chuckles, Luke replied, "You don't have to worry on that score." He then added, with a wink and a grin, "But we'll have to work on that."

Elise and John went to the cockpit and the others took their seats and buckled in. A short time later, the Tracy jet took off and headed over the ocean toward the island.

Posted by hobbeth on September 9, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #356 is a reply to message #355] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sunday 23rd September, 2068. 2.00am. Tracy Island (9am Kansas Saturday 22nd)

Dominic licked his lips as he stared at the massive chocolate éclair. It was sitting on a shining silver platter, with a delicate tag attached to it, saying: 'For Dominic -- only'. He could feel himself salivating heavily as he moved closer to the delicious morsel. He reached for it, and just as his fingers were closing on its sides, it began to ring.

"What the...?"

Dominic suddenly woke up midway through falling out of his bed. The crash just above his head told him that the 'dessert' he had been reaching for was a bedside lamp. But it wasn't it that was ringing (thankfully, he thought). Rather, it was his satellite phone. He reached up from his fallen position to grab it, and looked at the illuminated time before answering.

"Who's phoning at two in the blessed a.m.? Hello?"

"Hello, Dominic? It's Mike Lavender here. I have some news."

Any retort that Dominic was going to give was suddenly silenced, and he simply said, "Yes?"

"You and Joshua are safe. Margaret has withdrawn her appeal for custody. It's over."

"What? You can't be serious. After all of this?" Dominic was being torn in two, between anger and elation. "Wha...why?"

"I don't know. I got a phone call not five minutes ago. And it was lucky, too. I don't usually work weekends."

Dominic was silent. His jaw hung slack, and he slumped back against the bed.

"It's over..."

"Yup. It's great news."

"Thanks for calling, Mike. I really appreciate it."

"No problem, Dominic. All the remaining papers and assorted rigmarole will be dealt with at the start of next week. But it's over. Congratulations."

"Thanks, Mike."

They exchanged a few more pleasantries over the phone, before Dominic hung up and carefully placed the phone back on his nightstand. He stared forwards into the darkness for several minutes, until finally he smiled. It's over... I can't wait to tell Mr Tracy! He didn't get one more wink of sleep that night.

Posted by ArtisticRainey on September 10, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #357 is a reply to message #356] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sunday, September 23, 1:30 PM; Tracy Island

"Did you enjoy your tour of the facilities this morning?"

"Yes, sir. Brains is a good guide. I gotta say, I was particularly impressed by the boat pen. Not only are your vessels well protected there, the shape of the pen facilitates repair. You can bring the tools you need very close to the boats, and have them handy."

Jeff walked into the lounge, followed by Will and Brains. He sat down at his desk, started his computer, and indicated that the other two should seat themselves, also. He was just about to speak, when Tin-Tin walked in. Will looked at her questioningly.

"Since this is an interview for the mechanic's job, I thought I should be here, too."

"You're a mechanic?" He realized almost immediately how that sounded, and tried to redeem himself. "No offense, Miss Kyrano; there are two female mechanics at the shop I manage, and at least ten of my father's other shops have them as well. But I thought you worked in other areas."

"None taken, Mr. Abbott. I do help out with maintenance, when needed."

Will looked admiringly at her, then started when he heard an "ahem" from the man sitting to one side. He looked at Brains, then back at Tin-Tin. A suspicion entered his head that these two might be more than colleagues. But he had to say one more thing. "Well please pardon me for sayin' so, but if my father's shops had female mechanics who looked as good as you do, we'd've blown the competition out of the water long ago."

"Why thank you, Mr. Abbott."

"Let's get down to business, shall we?" Jeff interjected. "Both Brains and I have a number of questions for you."

"Yes, sir. I'm ready."

Jeff glanced at the information he'd brought up. "Your record with the Navy is impressive. Your teams scored at the top every time for keeping both the ship and the jets in optimum condition. And it says that any repairs needed were done right, the first time. That's over a ten year period. You should have made the Navy your career, but you left, due to a 'family emergency'. Would you please elaborate on that?"

I knew this question would be comin', but right off the bat? He doesn't waste time, does he? "Well, sir, it had to do with my younger brother, Mitchell. Have you heard of the drug called Arise?"

"I have. It's an offshoot of a prescription medicine called Arris, an antidepressant, as I recall," Brains answered. "Someone thought it would be a good over-the-counter medication that less fortunate people could afford. But the changes they made in it caused certain types of users to become extremely addicted to it very quickly."

"That's correct. Mitchell was one of those people. He'd become depressed after his engagement was called off. A so-called friend gave him some Arise one day, and that's all it took. He was on it for about six months before anyone found out, though. At that time, the only way to combat the addiction was to quit, cold turkey. But the withdrawal symptoms were terrible to go through, and almost as hard to watch. I was needed to help. At first, I thought I could take a leave, and return to duty a couple of months later. Well, I found out differently - showed how little I knew about the stuff. I finally had to resign."

"And you couldn't go back once it was over?"

"Well, sir, it took over a year to get him off it, and then I had to take over the business, so our folks could get some rest; their health had suffered. Mitch was by then able to help out, and he, our sister, Jenny, and I sent them on a cruise. Durin' that time, I found I liked what I was doin', and felt I'd been gone too long to go back to the Navy."

"And for the last," Jeff checked the computer again, "two years, you've been managing the branch in San Francisco." He looked back at Will. "That's a good job; why would you want to change?"

Will rubbed the back of his neck. "I miss the hands-on work. In the Navy, I didn't just tell my teams what to do, I worked alongside them. Sure I can do paperwork, and inventory and sign off on things, but that's not what I'm cut out to do. It took me a while to realize that, but I finally did, not long ago."

"How does your family feel about you leaving the business?"

"Well sir, I talked to my father about it, and he told me that I could leave, provided I didn't go to one of the rivals, and the transition to a new manager was a smooth one. I guess he understood that I needed to find my niche - to do what I do best."

"We don't have automobiles here on the island; we don't even have roads. Aren't you going to miss working on cars?" asked Brains.

"Well, sure, but I'll still be workin' on boats and jets, if I get the job. Somehow I suspect you all would keep me so busy, I'd forget after a while that there weren't any cars around."

"More than you imagine, Mr. Abbott."

"Please, sir; just call me Will. Mr. Abbott's my dad."

Jeff smiled. "Okay - Will. Does anyone have any more questions?" He looked at Brains, then Tin-Tin, who shook their heads. "Will, you might have questions, but I'd like you to hold them for now. If Brains and Tin-Tin agree with me, I'd like to offer you the job, but before I do, there's something you need to see." He looked again at the others, who were nodding and smiling their agreement. He stood up. "If you will come with me, please. Brains? Tin-Tin?"

"I have something that requires my attention elsewhere, Mr. Tracy," Tin-Tin replied, and turned to leave. "I'll see you all later."

"All right, Tin-Tin. Will, I'd like you to accompany Brains and me." Jeff glanced at the engineer, who nodded and led the way. As they headed toward the monorail, he continued. "I know you had a tour of the island - or part of it. But there's something you need to see before you make up your mind."

Will looked puzzled, but followed the others out of the room. It wasn't long before he found out what they wanted to show him.

Five minutes later, he was staring up at Thunderbird Two. His jaw dropped. He closed it, and tried to speak, but nothing came out. He swallowed and tried again. "Holy mackerel! That's a... You... I... It's... How..." He stopped, and looked around, then turned back to Jeff and tried once more.

"That's a Thunderbird!"


"But a Thunderbird's an International Rescue vehicle! You're International Rescue?"

"Right again."

"You're tellin' me that you want me to work for International Rescue?"

Jeff nodded, amused at Will's reaction.

"Hoo boy. I'm - I'm - I don't know what I am! This is big, a lot more than I expected." He gazed at Thunderbird Two again for a long minute, then turned to Brains. "You're not expectin' me to work on somethin' as huge and complex as that, are you?"

"Not by yourself, no. You might be asked to help me and one or another of the pilots once in a while," Brains replied. "But your main duties would be to maintain our boats, jets and auxiliary vehicles and equipment."

Will shook his head slowly. "I gotta say I'm relieved to know that. She's a beauty, and I'm feelin' privileged to be one of the few in the world to have been shown her. But it's been a long time since I've felt overwhelmed by anythin'."

"Look, Will," said Jeff. "I want you to think this over carefully. If you decide to take the job, it'll mean living here on the island, away from your family. And you won't ever be able to tell them the whole truth about what you do. I don't expect you to give me an answer now, or even before you leave tomorrow. I want you to consider all the ramifications of accepting this job offer first."

"Thank you, sir, I will. And I appreciate it."

Posted by hobbeth on September 10, 2007

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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 20:18]

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #358 is a reply to message #357] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sept. 23rd, 3:00pm

Gordon walked outside, looking for Brandon. Checking all of his friend's usual places, he found no sign of him.

"Hey, Virgil, have you seen Brandon?"

"No, I haven't."

"I wonder where he's at."

Tin-Tin spoke up. "I saw him earlier. He said he was heading to the beach to do some drawing."

"Thanks." Gordon headed in the direction of the beach.

Brandon sat on a rock, drawing supplies at his side. It had been a while since he'd indulged in his hobby. That doesn't look right; the color's off. He started the picture over again, concentrating on something in the water. He was so into what he was doing that he didn't hear Gordon come up behind him.

"I thought I'd find you here." Brandon didn't respond. That didn't work. Gordon tried again. "Hey, way to go. Not many people get their pilot's license on the first try.

Brandon looked up and smiled. "Hey I didn't hear you come up. Thanks for the congratulations."

"You're welcome," Gordon replied,sitting down. "So, was it hard?"

"Was what hard?" Then it dawned on him what Gordon was referring to. "Are you kidding? I don't know why I was so nervous; the written test was a breeze. And once I was airborne, the moves the examiner told me to make were easy."

The two men continued talking, Brandon describing his solo flight. "I tell you, the flight went well. I did hit a pocket of clear air turbulence, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. And afterward, I made a perfect landing, no bumps and no bouncing."

"That's great," Gordon replied. Looking at his watch he groaned. "Oh man, I got so interested listening to you that I forgot what I came here for."

"Oh? What did you come here for?"

"I wanted to see if you were up to playing a game of racquetball. Scott and Alan challenged me to a game and I need a partner."

"You do, huh?" Brandon stood up, reaching down to pick up his art supplies. "In that case, I'll take you up on your offer and help kick their butts."

Posted by MagicMaster8 on September 10, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #359 is a reply to message #358] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sunday, Sept 23; Tracy Island; 4:30 PM

Will went to his room to rest and think, but he found himself unable to do either. So he headed to the ocean, to consider all that had been revealed to him. From the moment he got outside, he had an internal running dialogue going. If anyone had been with him, they would have easily been able to read the emotions showing on his face.

Workin' for International Rescue. That's somethin' I didn't bargain for. Even if I never got within ten feet of any of the Thunderbird vehicles, I'd be takin' on a tremendous responsibility, more than I ever have, or even thought of. The possibility of lives lost if I don't to my job right - I can't even imagine it. Am I up to this? Can I do this?

C'mon, Abbott. You've worked on an aircraft carrier, and on the jets that have landed - or crashed - on them. A helluva lot of people were counting on you and your teams to do a great job then. What's so different?

There're a lot of differences. The necessity for an organization like International Rescue makes it different. It's not just the people usin' the equipment who need it to be in perfect workin' order, the people they're rescuin' would be dependin' on it, too. And for another thing, it'll be mostly me. The technology is - wow! I'd have a lot to learn. And I'd have to learn it fast. You'd never know when any of those vehicles or devices would be needed, and workin' right. I wouldn't want to let these people down.

Well, you are a fast learner, or so you've been saying all these years. And you did manage to get not one, but two degrees while at Annapolis, plus participate in the Trident Scholar program. That's packin' a lot into those four years.

Yeah, but that was over a decade ago. Can I do somethin' like that again?

You won't know until you try.

Will walked slowly along the water's edge during his mental dialogue, his hands in his jeans pockets. Sometimes he shook his head; once or twice he stopped for a few seconds, then moved on. Finally he stopped, turned, and gazed out over the water. A look of decision was in his eyes.

I'll give them my answer tomorrow. I could do that today, after dinner, but... He looked at his watch. Whoa! I'd better head back, or I might not even get dinner. Although with Lady Penelope here, they might be eating "fashionably late". Good thing I brought slacks along.

Will headed back to the Villa, his long-legged stride eating up the distance, and halving the time it had taken to get to his "decision point".

Posted by hobbeth on September 10, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #360 is a reply to message #359] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Sunday, September 23, 2068, somewhere over the Pacific and past the IDL (Monday, September 24, 8:00 a.m. Tracy Island)

"Dad, I'm bored."

Jeff and Dianne glanced at each other, exchanging weary looks. "An hour into the flight and you're already bored?" Dianne said, shaking her head. "Tyler, read a book, watch a movie on your portable player, play with your computer game... hey, even take a nap! But find something to do!"

As Tyler grumpily went to look for a distraction, Emily glanced up and said, "Makes me glad we don't have to drive all the way to Kansas." She went back to her magazine. "I remember well all these boys saying, 'Are we there yet?'. Got to be quite a chorus of them after a while."

"Aww, we weren't that bad, were we, Grandma?" Gordon asked from where he was playing Battleship with Alex.

"You, young man, were the worst of them all!" Emily replied, tipping a wink toward Jeff. "You had this whine..."

"Are we theeeerre yet?" Alan whined, his fake falsetto sounding like a little kid. The rest of the occupants of Tracy One's cabin laughed, and Scott's voice could be heard over the intercom.

"Hey, what's so funny back there?"

"Nothing, Scott," Jeff said. "Just your brothers dredging up some memories."

"Ah, okay."

"Let me know when you need someone else up there," Jeff added. "Your flight hours are pretty close to the edge."

"I will," Scott promised.

Jeff shook his head. "That boy won't relinquish the controls until we hit L.A."

"Of course not," John piped up. "Neither would you, if you were in the cockpit."

Will Abbott, riding back to the States with the family, felt a bit like an outsider among all this familial banter. Brains and Tin-Tin had remained behind to hold the fort with the new recruits as the Tracy family headed for Kansas to remember a sad and solemn time in the lives of Jeff and his sons. Emily had been part of that time, too, but Dianne and her children were along to support the others, and to learn more about the history of the Tracy family.

"Excuse me, love," Dianne said, rising from her seat. "This morning's coffee..." She favored Jeff with a smile as she headed to the lavatory at the back of the plane.

Will took the opportunity to stand, and to address Jeff. "Mr. Tracy? Do you have a few minutes? I'd like to talk to you."

"Of course, Will. Sit down." Jeff motioned towards Dianne's empty seat. "My wife will be a few minutes checking her makeup."

"Thank you." Will complied. "I did a lot of thinkin' yesterday after you showed me the big picture about what my job would be. I'd like to accept."

"I'm glad to hear you say that. Welcome aboard. When can you return?"

"Well," Will rubbed the back of his neck, repeating the gesture he'd used during the interview. "I need to transition one of my employees into my job, do something about my apartment, and visit my family. I know you're shorthanded and all, but can you give me til October 5?"

"We've been handling things this long; I think we can give you that much time. But no more. You'll have a lot of training ahead of you, and the sooner you get on it, the better."

"I agree. I'd make my stay in Carefree shorter, but I think my mother would kill me if I tried."

Jeff grinned. "I know the feeling. Well, if you do find yourself able to get back here sooner, let us know."

"Will do."

"Hey, Will. Would you like something to drink?" Gordon was rummaging through the small refrigerator. "I'm taking orders, everyone."

"Better ask the pilots if they're thirsty, too," Emily said. "I'll have an apple juice."

Cherie, who had been sketching John while he was reading, got up to stretch. "I'll go ask, Grandma." She headed for the cockpit, knocked on the door, and was admitted.

"I'd like orange juice, if you have it," Will said.

"One orange juice and one apple juice, coming up." Gordon poured the bottles of juice into tumblers especially made for air travel, then brought them over. He handed one to Emily, and one to Will... who rose as he saw Dianne return from the lavatory.

"Just water for me, Gordon," she said as she passed. She smiled at Will as he vacated her seat with a flourish of his hands, then returned to his.

As Gordon served the rest of the family, Will peered at the title of the book John was reading. "A Morbid Taste for Bones," he read. When John looked up, he added, "Sounds creepy."

"It's not as creepy as you'd think," John explained. "It's a historical mystery story, set in England during the period of civil war between King Stephen and Queen Maud... somewhere in the 1100s, I think. The detective is a Welsh Benedictine monk by the name of Cadfael." He hefted the book. "It's pretty good. A friend of mine got me interested."

"Hm. I like mysteries. I guess I'll have to look it up on the Web."

"I've got another by the same author, if you're interested." John opened the backpack by his side, and pulled out three books. "Take your pick."

Will selected one entitled The Rose Rent. "Thanks," he said, as he settled back to read.

Cherie came back from the cockpit and joined Gordon at the fridge. "Scott and Virgil both want coffee, if you're making it."

"Coffee sounds good to me," Alan said, looking up from his racing magazine.

"I'd like some coffee, too, Gordon," Jeff said. "But I can make it..."

"No sweat, Dad," Gordon said, waving a hand. "One pot of coffee, coming right up."

"And none of your motor oil, either, Gordon," Emily said sharply. "You know how to make a good pot of coffee..."

"Don't worry, Grandma," Gordon said. "I'll do it right; after all, I'll be drinking it."

Satisfied that her grandson would behave himself, Emily sat back with her juice and magazine. Alex and Tyler had linked their computer games together, and were playing as they drank chocolate milk. Cherie, cup of juice at her side, picked up her pad and pencils and went back to sketching. Dianne leaned her chair back, and rested her head on a travel pillow, turning so she was looking at her husband. Jeff looked a million miles away, one hand absently fingering his chin, gaze fixed on the blue sky through the window.

"A penny for them," she said softly.

Jeff turned to smile at her; a weary smile, she thought. "Just thinking how different this time will be without the house there. I don't know that I'm prepared for it. I just hope that the graveyard wasn't hit too hard by the tornadoes. I never did ask Marion."

"If it was, it'll do us good to clear it out and spruce it up," Emily said without looking up. "And we can make some plans for the house, too. Something to keep us from dwelling on our losses."

Jeff smiled, a sad one this time. "You're right, Ma, as always. And... I have something else in mind as well."

Both women gave him inquiring looks, but he turned his gaze back out the window and refused to say anything more.

Remembrance, part one (with Will Abbott dialog by Hobbeth)

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #361 is a reply to message #360] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Ladder 124, Adam-66, Boyd-66, respond to a vehicle accident with injuries on Queensborough Bridge, Eastbound. Vehicle fire reported."

"No rest for the weary," Neal commented as he and his co-workers sprang into action. Ladder 124 had just gotten back from a false alarm fire about ten minutes ago. The station's paramedic units had been busy most of the shift, too.

"Hey! What happened to my helmet?" Cassie exclaimed having donned the pants and boots of her uniform, and went to grab the jacket and helmet off the hook. The jacket was there but the hat was missing. I know I hung it there when we got back, she said to herself silently.

"Use this one," Chief Calloway told her, handing her another helmet. "We'll worry about it when we get back."

Cassie took the helmet from him, and hurried toward the fire engine. Climbing behind the wheel, she started up the truck, the missing helmet out of her mind for now, and her thoughts on the accident they were heading to.

Farewell Party part one by starrynebula on September 12, 2007

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Sunday, September 23rd, just before 11 pm locally ( Monday, September 24th, just before 3 pm on Tracy Island)

"I'd still like to know where my helmet got to," Cassie said as she sat on one of the beds and blow dried her hair. The whole squad had come back from their last call, a fire at a factory, covered in soot. Cassie and Jackie had already showered and dressed in jeans and T-shirts and the guys were now taking their turns in the shower. There was still ten minutes left to their shift and they were all hoping the next call would wait for the next shift to take over, a few of whom had already made an appearance.

"Didn't Frank tell you not to worry about?" Jackie asked as she put gel into her short hair and spiked it, using the mirror on the inside of her locker. "Not to mention you won't need it after today."

"Yeah, but it still bugs me," she replied, turning off the blow dryer. She tucked it away in her bag, which held the rest of the contents of her locker already. "I've never lost equipment before. Not exactly the note I wanted to leave on," she told her friend, as she deftly braided her hair.

"I wouldn't worry too much about it," Jackie said, taking a final look in the mirror. Satisfied, she closed the door and locked her locker. "I think when we think of you we're going to be thinking of a very white Frank, not a missing helmet," she told her friend with a grin.

Cassie chuckled. Neal had insisted that she helped him with one final prank. Their target had been none other than their chief. The two of them had rigged a bucket filled with flour above his office door. When he came out to join them for dinner, the trap was tripped and Frank had been covered in flour. The look on her boss's face had been worth having to clean up the flour. She was going to miss Frank and his easy-going nature. She wasn't sure how her new employer would feel about those kinds of antics, but Frank had always taken them in good-humor, having also played a few pranks of his own in retaliation.

"I'm going to miss you guys," Cassie said, her voice wavering.

"Now don't go crying," Jackie told her.

"Yeah, especially not when the party is about to begin," L.J. said, coming into the room, his hair still wet from his shower but now in street clothes.

"What are you guys talking about?" Cassie asked, looking from Jackie to LJ.

"Hope you didn't have plans tonight, girl, because we've made plans of our own," Jackie told her, smiling. "And don't worry about needing to call your brother, we already informed him we were taking you out tonight."

"Out? Where?" Cassie asked, feeling a little uneasy. She had worked with these guys long enough to know that things could get out of hand when everyone got together, especially outside of work.

"It's a surprise," Jackie told her.

"I don't like surprises, especially when you guys are all involved in it together."

"Relax. We're going to have fun, I promise." Jackie said, coming toward Cassie. She leaned over and whispered, "Besides, if you don't come willingly the guys will just drag you to our destination."

"Fine," she said, giving in.

***a few hours later ***

"Whatever you do, don't tell my wife I know how to slow dance," Neal told Cassie as they swayed to a slow song in the middle of the dance floor at The Wild West Saloon.

The Wild West Saloon was a popular bar about four blocks from the fire station and a popular hangout for the members of the 66th precinct station. This was where her co-workers had dragged her to after their shift. When they had come in, they had escorted Cassie to the private room to the one side of the place that was rented out for parties. The members of the shift who had been off that day had decorated the room and gotten things ready. Cassie had walked in to find a huge banner hanging across the room saying - 'We'll Miss You, Cassie'. On the table, along with the presents, other foods and drinks was a cake with blue trim and red roses. It read - 'Good Luck, Cassie'.

By this time, the cake was gone as was a lot of the food. It was now one-thirty and everyone was still enjoying themselves, some more drunk than others. Cassie had finally managed to drag Neal out on the dance floor.

"If she doesn't know you can dance, what did you do at your wedding?" Cassie asked.

"Our first dance lasted about ten seconds. She walked away after I stepped on her feet three times. Hasn't asked me to dance since."

Cassie laughed. "I promise, your secret is safe with me."

They finished the dance and then made their way through the crowd to the room their group was occupying tonight.

"Ah, there's the guest of honor," Frank said from the doorway as he spotted Cassie and Neal. "Anyone seen, Carter?"

"I found him," Lexis commented, coming from the direction of the bar. Both she and Carter had drinks in their hands.

"Then I think it's time for presents," Frank said. "Everyone else is inside."

Moments later the entire evening shift was seated around the table. The music from the main area could still be heard, as Cassie opened the gifts from her co-workers. Some of the gifts were serious, like Jackie's present of four different cake molds, while others were on the silly side. Lexis gave her a T-shirt which read 'Always a New Yorker at Heart'. Neal had gone out and bought her a slingshot and a squirt gun. "Wouldn't want you to forget about all the fun we've had," he had told her when she opened them. L.J. had bought her a Risk game. Frank had bought her a journal to write in.

"And now for one last gift," Frank said, reaching under the table. He brought out an odd shape packaged. "This is from all of us," he told Cassie, as he handed it across the table to her.

Wondering what it was, Cassie took it from him. Ripping the paper off, she saw it was her missing helmet. Her co-workers had all signed pieces of tape which were now stuck to the helmet. She started to read the messages they had written her when the words began to blur. Reaching up, she wiped the tears from her eyes.

"That's so you don't forget any of us," Frank told her.

"You guys are the greatest," Cassie told them, looking around the table at everyone. "I'm going to miss you all."

Farewell Party Part Two by starrynebula on September 12, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #364 is a reply to message #362] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, September 24, 2068, 10 a.m., local time, outside of Wichita, Kansas (3 a.m., Tuesday, September 25, Tracy Island)

"Wow." Alex stood just outside the picket fence, gazing at the piles of debris that marked where the Tracy farmhouse had once stood. He glanced up at his father, who had taken in a sharp, deep breath.

"'Wow' is right, son," Jeff said, putting a hand on the boy's denim-clad shoulder. He scanned the lot, nodding slightly. "Good thing we got some people out here quickly. I'd hate to see what this would look like if we hadn't."

Actually, he had a good idea what it would have looked like; they'd passed two or three lots where the houses had been smashed, and the owners didn't have the resources to clean up and rebuild. Overgrown with weeds, homes half standing, debris scattered all over... at least on his property they didn't have to slog through knee-high grass to get to the cordoned off spot where the basement still stood.

Marion came up beside him. "Ken and his crew did a good job. Everything from the basement, and anything that could be salvaged is in a storage unit a few miles from here. The major equipment was pulled out and they tore down the barn just last week."

He turned to her. "Have you been out to the graveyard?"

She nodded solemnly. "Yesterday. There are a couple of trees down, part of the fence is missing, and it needs a good mowing. I'm not sure what else you want to do there." She hesitated, and sighed. "I don't know why Ken hasn't sent someone out there before now. I guess he thought you wanted the house and barn dealt with first."

"I did." Jeff said simply. "We'll take care of the graveyard ourselves today. Just need to get hold of some tools, that's all."

He raised his eyes again, and called to his family. "Everyone gather around!" They all approached from where they'd been wandering, looking at the leveled lot and discussing matters amongst themselves. When they came close, Jeff began to make plans. "Okay, folks. Marion tells me that the graveyard needs work. Trees are down, fencing is missing, the grass needs mowing. So, we'll head out there and see what needs to be done. Scott, Gordon, you're to head back into town with the pickup. I'll phone you and let you know what tools we need to buy, and what we need to rent, then you can stop by the hardware store and fill the order. Make sure you get all the safety equipment: goggles, gloves, rope... whatever we need."

"Yes, sir." Scott took the keys from his jeans pocket. He, Virgil, and John had brought the family's pickup truck from the airport hangar to the hotel where they were staying, while Jeff brought along the seven-passenger van, and Alan, with Gordon, had brought the sports car. All three vehicles were at the farm right now, being necessary to carry all the family comfortably to the site.

Jeff turned to his wife. "Sweetheart, could you and Mother see to it we get some food and plenty of water out here?" He gazed up, pulling up his canvas outback hat to see the cloudless sky better. "The day'll be warm before we're finished."

"Do you want to drive out to the graveyard first? Or walk?" Dianne asked. "Em and I will probably need the van, and you won't be able to fit the rest of the crew into the sports car."

"I think we'll walk," Jeff told her. "I know I could use the exercise. It'll give us a better idea of what else might need fixing around here, and you know Alex will love looking for wildlife on the way."

"All right, then. We'll take Marion back to town with us." Dianne stretched up to give her husband a kiss. "You might want to camouflage the sports car somehow; it advertises that we're here, and the last thing we need is the media."

"Good idea. Alan? Please pull the car back behind that pile of wood over there, then catch up with us. The rest of you, come with me."

Scott and Gordon were already gone, and Dianne and Emily wasted no time in following them towards town. Tyler put his hand in Jeff's as they headed for the corner of the farm designated as the Tracy burial ground.

"How come we bury people out here?" Tyler asked as they walked. "Why not in one of the big cemeteries in the city?"

"Why not on the island itself?" Cherie asked, her art bag slung over one shoulder. She paced her father on the other side.

"Well," Jeff began. "This farm has been in our family for nigh on 200 years now. It was purchased way back in the late 1800s when the west was first opened to homesteaders. A pair of brothers, Patrick and Seamus Tracy, sons of Irish immigrants, claimed two adjoining homesteads, each 160 acres. They built sod houses, and had been farming on the land for two years before sending for their wives and children." He paused, smiling a little. "Back then, there weren't many churches out here on the plains, and Catholic ones were few and very far between. Most good Catholics wanted to be buried in consecrated soil, and you could only find that near a church. So, when a priest who was on his way to California stopped in the vicinity, the brothers asked him to consecrate a corner where their properties met as a graveyard for them and their descendants."

"So the priest did?" Tyler asked, his brow furrowed.

"He did."

"Then how come you're not... we're not Catholics?"

Jeff laughed. "A good question. As I recall, one of Seamus's sons married a Lutheran gal, who refused to convert to the Catholic church. Instead, she got her husband to convert to Lutheranism. She was a smart girl though; she waited until after Seamus had died and his son, Lincoln, had inherited the family farm. My grandmother was responsible for making the family Methodist... which is the denomination we claim if asked." He glanced down at Tyler. "That's not to say that your mother is Methodist..."

"So, what happened to Patrick?" Alex had come up and wanted to bring the topic back to the point.

Jeff sighed. "He died from one of the diseases that often afflicted people out in the plains. He had five daughters at that point; his will specified that his firstborn or surviving son was to inherit. I guess he still had hopes. If he didn't have one when he died, Seamus would get his farm, with stipulations that he took care of Patrick's wife and children. Both Patrick and his wife died from their illness, as did two of their daughters. Seamus took the other three girls and raised them as his own. He also inherited his brother's land. My forebears purchased more land over the years until we had one of the largest farms in the county."

Cherie frowned. "How do you know all this stuff?"

"Journals, mostly, though some other family records go back that far." Virgil had dropped back to pace his father, while John went on ahead with Alan. "Our family has always been one for keeping journals. There are a couple of surviving ones from Seamus's day under glass at headquarters. Grandma has copies of the contents on data chip if you want to see them."

"Hm." Cherie looked thoughtful. "That might be a good project for my history class this year. I think I'll ask her about it when we get home."

"Oh my," Jeff breathed as he stopped in his tracks. Alan and John were already examining the old oak that had fallen across the entrance to the graveyard. "That was at least a century old," he murmured, closing his eyes for a few seconds.

"Damn. Marion has a gift for understatement, doesn't she? We're going to have a rough time cutting that up before tomorrow," Virgil said. "The smashed fence will probably have to be special ordered, and I'll bet that some of the gravestones are broken, too."

"You're very likely right, Virgil." Jeff took in a deep breath. "Boys, let's find another way in," he said, as the executive and commander came to the fore. "We'll need a good idea of what tools Scott should purchase before I call him."

"Chainsaws at the very least, Dad," Alan called. "And likely a chipping machine."

"Unless some of this can be converted into wood for the new house," John suggested.

Jeff raised an eyebrow. "Hm. Not a bad idea at that, John. Let's get in there, and start making our list."

Remembrance, part two by Tikatu on September 12, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #365 is a reply to message #364] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, September 24, 9:15 AM; San Francisco (4:15 AM Tuesday on Tracy Island)

"Will? Got a minute?"

"Carl! Come in. I was about to come and find you. I wanted to talk to you," Will said as he looked up from his computer. "Please sit down."

"I really can't. I just came in to ask you for the rest of today and tomorrow off."

"Why? What's wrong?"

Carl sighed and took one of the chairs opposite his boss. "I just learned over the weekend that the owners of the apartment building I live in have sold it. It's gonna be torn down and a new more earthquake resistant building put up in its place. I have two weeks to find a new place that I can afford."

Whoa! Talk about serendipity! "Carl, I think I can help you out in more ways than one. First of all, remember when I told you that I was thinking of moving on, and I believed you'd be the right person to take over my job?"

"Well, yeah. But that's not gonna be for some time. Or is it?"

Will grinned. "It's happened. I've had a job offer from the CEO of Tracy Industries to be the maintenance person for their personal vehicles. And I accepted."

"You're kidding!" Carl looked at his boss intently. "You're not kidding!"

"Correct. So, I want you to take over here, and we'll spend the next couple of days making the transition a smooth one. Which brings me to your request. I don't think you'll need time to go apartment hunting."

"Why not?"

"Because I just signed a five year lease on my place, and now I'm moving to where the Tracys live," Will answered with a grin. "They're supplying housing for me, so I'll need to sublet the apartment here. Interested?"

"Am I interested?!" Carl looked like he wanted to leap over the desk and give Will a bear hug, but he contained himself. "I'll take it!" He paused and grinned. "It is the same place we were all at for your Super Bowl party, right?"

Will laughed. "Right. Two bedrooms (with good closets), one and a half baths, living room, fair sized kitchen with a 'breakfast nook', den, and even a balcony that runs along the west side, so you can sit out there and watch the sun set over the ocean. It also has a parking garage and storage units for all the residents. Anything else?"

"What about pets? I don't have one, but if I wanted one someday, would they let me?"

"Yes, they do take pets, but they allow no more than two: dogs, cats, birds, hamsters... that sort of thing. When it comes to fish, they're more flexible."

"And the furniture?"

"Included, Carl. I understand the living quarters there come already furnished. I just need to take bedding, bath linens, curtains, and accessories. Man! I'll have to sort through all my paraphernalia to figure out what to take and what to put in storage."

"When do you plan to leave?" Carl asked.

"I'm supposed to be there no later than October fifth, their time, which is the fourth here. They're on the other side of the International Date Line. But I gotta visit my folks first. What about you? How long will it take to pack up what you need to and get your things over to my apartment?"

"I've already got a head start, Will. I started sorted and packing Saturday night; it gave me a way to work off my anger." Carl sat back in his chair. "Man! Things happen fast around you!" He grinned and Will laughed.

"I suggest then that we take today and tomorrow to get you transitioned into this job. Tomorrow evening, you can start bringing your stuff over to my apartment Wednesday, I'll have you handle things yourself, while I finish my packing and get ready to head down to my folks' place. If I don't spend a week with them, I may not get to my new job in one piece." Will winked and grinned at Carl, who laughed.

"Your mom?" When Will nodded, Carl continued. "Sounds a lot like mine. Well then, let's get to work. We can't keep our mothers waiting too long."

"And since you've taken over for me before when I had to be away, there shouldn't be much to go over," Will replied. "So bring your chair around here. This is when you learn about all the end-of-month and end-of-year duties that you never had to do before."

Carl moved himself and his chair next to Will and the two men got started.

Posted by hobbeth on September 13, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #366 is a reply to message #365] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, September 24th, 5:30 Hartford, CT (Tuesday, September 25th, 9:30 a.m. Tracy Island)

Cassie stowed her bag where her six-year-old nieces, Kate and Allie, slept, then returned to the living room. While she was sleeping on an air mattress in her nieces' room, Mark would be sleeping on the couch during their stay in Hartford.

Kate and Allie were on the floor playing Trouble. Both Cassie and Mark had promised to join them in a game after dinner. Jason was in his bassinet, sleeping. Lisa was in the kitchen finishing dinner. Mark and Philip were sitting on the couch discussing their work. It was a safe topic for the two brothers, who both knew that Mark's personal life was a touchy issue between them. Though he still loved his baby brother, Philip was still uneasy with his brother's sexual orientation. It had put a strain on their relationship.

"Do you need any help?" Cassie asked her sister-in-law, as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen.

"No, I'm just about done, but thank-you," she replied.

Cassie turned back to the living room. Walking over to the arm chair, she sat down and listened to her brothers' conversation. Philip was talking about the current story he was working on, involving a car theft racket that had the Hartford police baffled. He was still talking about it when Lisa called them for dinner.

"So what's with this impromptu visit?" Philip asked his sister after grace had been said.

"I wanted to see you all before I leave New York. I'm starting a new job which is going to take me to Wichita, Kansas."

"I didn't realize you were unhappy with your job, Cass," Philip commented.

"I wasn't. It was more that I needed a change of scenery after everything that has happened."

"I can definitely understand that," Lisa said. Her husband nodded in agreement. "What's this new job of yours?"

"I'm going to be a consultant for fire safety and protocols for Tracy Industries. Though I'll be based in Wichita, I'll be traveling to their other plants around the world and making sure fire codes and safety protocols are within company specifications, as well as keep those specifications up to date."

"Bet Dad is happy you're finally taking his advice and doing something less dangerous," Philip commented.

"Yes, Dad was quite happy about the change in jobs, though he said he'd rather I was based in New York."

"Of course, he just isn't ready to completely let go of his little girl yet," her brother teased. "You know Mom and Dad are going to support any decision you make though," Philip said, purposely refraining from looking at his younger brother. Their parents had all but written Mark off when he admitted he was gay. Philip just tried to steer clear of the issue, not wanting to get involved. "They might miss you but they're not going to stand in your way."

"I know. It's going to be weird being out on my own though. I've never really experienced that before," Cassie commented, finding the prospect both frightening and exciting.

"Hope we didn't shelter you too much growing up, Cass," Philip commented.

"You and your brothers shelter her?" Lisa commented with a laugh. "If anything, she probably learned how to fight thanks to all of you."

"Guilty as charged," Philip admitted as the grownups at the table laughed. "When are you leaving, Cass?" he asked, growing serious.

"Next Monday. I'd give you contact information but I'm not completely sure of that myself yet. There is always my email account, of course. I'll email a phone and mailing address to everyone as soon as I'm settled."

"Does that mean we won't get to see you as much?" Kate asked, looking at her aunt. Beside her sister, Allie looked toward Cassie, too. The two girls had already said they didn't see her enough.

"Yes. It's going to be harder for me to come visit," Cassie told them, looking at both of them in turn. "But I'll tell you what; I'll write to the both of you personally. Wouldn't it be neat to get your own mail?"

"You mean, like when we get birthday cards?" Allie asked. Both girls looked forward to getting the cards. Receiving mail made them feel important like their parents.

"Exactly, only instead of getting a card, I'll write to you about what I'm doing. You can write back and tell me what's going on here."

Katie's face fell. "But we don't know how to write many words yet," she admitted. The girls had just started first grade. "What if we want to tell you something that we don't know how to write?"

"Then your mother or I will help you, Sweetie!" Philip assured her. Katie and Allie nodded, returning to their dinner. Looking from his daughter, Philip addressed his sister. "You let Alex keep the computer didn't you?"

"Yes, I did," Cassie answered, wondering where her brother was going with the subject. She hadn't needed the computer when she had moved in with Mark and right now, it was at least one less thing she'd have to worry about packing and shipping.

"Well, then, you and I are going to go find you a laptop tomorrow," Philip said. He had discussed the idea with Lisa before, wanting to do something for his sister after what she had gone through. Given the situation, he knew she wouldn't mind that he did it now instead of waiting. "If your new job is going to entail traveling then a laptop is going to come into handy. Consider it our going away present to you."

"Philip, you don't have ..."

Philip held up his hand, cutting her off. "I know I don't have to but I want to. Besides, this way I know you won't have any excuse for not keeping in touch."

"Thank-you," she told him, giving in. She knew her brother had the same stubborn streak that she did. All her siblings had it and they got it from their father.

A cry from the baby's room interrupted them. Lisa wiped her mouth on her napkin and stood up. "I'll go get him." She looked across the table at her sister-in-law. "Cassie, why don't you come with me?" she suggested, knowing that Cassie was likely going to be upset seeing the baby for the first time. Lisa figured she didn't need an audience for that.

Cassie nodded. Standing up, she followed Lisa out of the kitchen. Her sister-in-law paused outside of the room. "If you're not ready, you don't need to come in. I just figured this way it would just be you and me. I know losing Nathan wasn't easy," she said softly, her voice conveying the empathy that only another mother could show.

Cassie took a deep breath. "No, it hasn't been, but seeing Jason before I leave is one of the reasons I came. He is my nephew and I'm happy for you and Philip."

"I know," Lisa said, putting her arm around Cassie's shoulders and giving her a small squeeze. Cassie smiled at her sister-in-law, thankful for her understanding. Lisa turned the light on as she walked into the baby's room. Jason was lying in his bassinet, his face scrunched up, and crying at the top of his lungs.

"Hey little one," Lisa said, leaning over and picking up the crying baby. "Your Aunt Cassie wants to meet you," she told her son. The baby stopped crying as she cradled him in her arms and walked over to where Cassie stood.

Cassie held out her arms for the tiny baby, sight blurring as she remembered holding Nathan like this. Her nephew was such a beautiful baby. She was happy for Lisa and Philip, but her heart still ached for her own son.

Her thoughts drifted to her new co-worker whom she had flown to Kansas with. I sure hope the custody battle went well for him, she thought as she rocked her nephew in her arms.

Posted by starrynebula on September 13, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #367 is a reply to message #366] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday, September 25, 2068, 3:00 p.m., Tracy family graveyard, Kansas (8:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 26, Tracy Island)

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories.

Jeff led the family, dressed both somberly and formally, back to the graveyard. They had worked until past sundown to cut up the oak and the two uprooted cypresses that had served as part of the windscreen. That morning, Jeff called in Ken and his crew, and between them and the Tracys, the graveyard was made presentable for the afternoon. There was still work to be done: parts of the fence needed replacement, and several of the older gravestones would need repair or out-and-out replacement. The latter made Jeff sad; one of those that was totally smashed by the fallen oak was that of Seamus himself.

"You know that Grant's father made rubbings of all the old stones in the cemetery before he died," Emily told him. "They're in a safe-deposit box at the bank. New stones can be cut and engraved to match the old ones."

His mother's words were comforting, but only just. The losses in the graveyard left Jeff feeling bereft, as if a part of the family's history had been lost.

Today, they wandered through the graves, telling the children what they knew of the various people who were buried there. The fragrance of honeysuckle permeated the air, borne on the breeze, all the wind that the remaining Leyland cypresses would allow to hiss through their trimmed branches. The vine was bunched along a length of wrought iron fence that had been spared, and bees buzzed busily among its blossoms. Small clumps of bright zinnias raised their petaled faces toward the sun, visited by butterflies flitting their way from flower to flower. A few marigolds were blooming here and there, orange and yellow blossoms showing bright against the dark stones. Marion had planted them both earlier in the year, and the mowers had spared as many as they could.

Jeff carried a sheaf of yellow roses to place in the vase that stood at the foot of Lucille's grave. The stone was etched with the words, "Lucille Anne Tracy, October 25, 2010 -- September 25, 2045, Loving and Devoted wife and mother. We will remember you." Dianne slipped her hand in Jeff's and squeezed it as he closed his eyes against the moisture that had suddenly collected there. He squeezed back, and gave his new wife a shaky smile. "I think I'll take a walk around, then come back to pay my respects. Give the boys a chance to say what they want to."

"Would you like me to walk with you?" Dianne asked softly, not knowing if her husband needed time to be alone with his thoughts.

Jeff hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "Yes. I would."

Dianne smiled, and squeezed his hand once again. He took it, kissed it, then put it in the crook of his arm as they walked off toward some of the older graves.

Emily sat on a wrought iron and wood bench near her husband's grave. Alan carried a hanging basket of red geraniums for her and Gordon followed with a tall, decorative hanging hook. He pressed the straight ends of the hook into the soil, and made sure it stood firm. Then Emily took the basket and hung it up. "There. Red geraniums for comfort."

She turned to her grandsons. "You two help keep an eye on Tyler and Alex now. I want a few moments alone with Grant."

"Okay, Grandma." "Sure, Grandma." Each gave her a kiss on the cheek, and went off to obey her commands.

She sat down heavily again on the bench. "Well, Grant, we're back for a bit. It's a nice day, but Lord, did we have some work to do when we got here. Never thought that the Lord would test us as much as He has this year, but I guess He's had a purpose in it all, if only to teach me that I can't fix everything." She paused and sighed. "The house is gone, Grant. A tornado up and took it away. So little was saved... but then, there wasn't much left there to begin with. Nothing but a few keepsakes, and the memories. Still, it was our anchor, our reminder of where we'd come from, and where we could come back to."

She paused again. "We nearly lost Jeff, too, Grant. A helijet accident in New Hampshire. He hovered on the edge of life and death; it was due to the boys' strength, and Dianne's skill, that he didn't slip over the edge and join you and Lucy. He's healed now, in more ways than one." She shook her head slowly. "God's put us through the wringer this year, darling. But He's blessed us, too. Nothing has come our way that we haven't been able to face as a family - and a bit of help from Him."

Each of the boys in turn came to Lucille's grave while the others were spread throughout the graveyard. Scott crouched down before the stone and kissed his fingers before putting his hand on top. "I wish you could see Dad now, Mom. He's moved on, and is happy. I'm doing okay, though it's been a rough year for us. Still looking for that special girl, though. Not sure if I can find one like you."

He paused and smiled, glancing off toward Cherie, who was seated on the grass by a group of zinnias, sketch pad in hand. "It's different having a sister in the house, Mom. I kinda see why you and Dad kept trying; girls are special in their own way. But it's okay that you and Dad only had boys; I don't think I could send a sister out to do what we do." He looked around, and saw Virgil glancing his way. "I think someone else wants to talk with you, so I'll go see what my sister's up to. I love you, and I'll see you again next year."

Scott got up and went off to sit in the grass by Cherie, and Virgil walked up, hands in his pockets. "Hello, Mom," he said quietly as he crouched before the stone. He smoothed his hand over the top and traced the letters with a finger. "I'm sorry I didn't come out to visit last time I was here, but it was kind of hectic. The house had been destroyed by a tornado, and Dad's new wife was almost killed by one, too. We were all scattered hither and yon, and well, we were focused on the living, and not those who had passed on. Maybe if I'd come out, we'd have seen what needed doing here, and not had to work so hard to clean this corner up." He rotated a shoulder. "I'm sore in spots I'd forgotten existed."

He smiled a little, then sobered. "We almost lost him, Mom. A damn snowstorm nearly took him from us. What is it with us and weather, anyway? Heavy rain took you, a blizzard nearly took him... a tornado ripped up our roots..." He shook his head sadly. "Listen to me, still angry at it all. You should see my paintings -- all dark colors. And my latest compositions; I'm almost afraid to play them because Scott would be on my case, wanting to know what was wrong."

He paused again. "Okay, change of subject. I've met this girl. Her name's Elise. She served with Scott in the Air Force, and was piloting the helijet Dad was in during that blizzard. We became friends, and now... well, it looks like it may become more than that. She's a spitfire, and fun to be with, and I hope... I hope there's a future there." Smoothing a hand over the gravestone again, he smiled. "I'll keep you up to date on things, okay?"

A shadow fell over Virgil and the headstone, and he glanced up quickly, then back. "Looks like someone else wants to talk to you. Love you, Mom. See you again soon."

John squeezed Virgil's shoulder as the latter got up. "Thanks, Virge."

"No problem, John. I'll go see what Alex has found."

Virgil walked off as he'd come, hands in his pockets, but now whistling an unfamiliar tune. He headed toward the spot where Alex held something in his hand, showing it to Tyler.

"Hi, Mom." John chose to sit, cross-legged, before the headstone. "I'm sorry I didn't get out here when we were at the house last; there was so much going on, too much, really. The farmhouse was taken by a tornado; nothing was left but the basement. Half the barn went, too, but left behind a momma cat and her kittens." He smiled and chuckled. "You won't believe it, Mom. Grandma insisted we bring them home. They've been living in her suite; she says the kittens are ready for new homes. I'm thinking of asking for one." He leaned over to whisper, "Don't tell Dad; but I'm going to smuggle it up to Thunderbird Five. See how a cat does in space."

Chuckling again, he sat back. "We've got a lot of new people on the island; they've been a big help with the organization. I'm getting to know some of them really well. There's Dom; he's got a little guy named Josh. Luke is new. You should see the way he carves wood; he makes it an art form. Callie's a sweetheart. We had a bet on about the Final Four in college basketball." He paused, then sighed. "There was a girl that I thought I..." He ran a hand through his hair. "She wanted more than a friendship, and I wasn't ready for it. I'm still not, for that matter. She's gone now, anyway. I couldn't give her what she wanted, and someone else could." His voice dropped when he added, "I wish her well."

He glanced around him, and spied his father and Dianne standing near his great-grandfather's grave. Jeff's back was to him, and Dianne had an arm resting across it from behind, reaching up toward Jeff's shoulder. He smiled. "I hope you don't mind that Dad remarried, Mom. He's needed someone to light up his life again like you did." Kissing his fingers as Scott had, John laid them on the top of the headstone, then hauled himself to his feet. "I'll see you again soon, Mom. Love you always." With that, he walked off in the direction of his grandmother, who smiled at him and patted the bench next to her.

Gordon and Alan came up together, both fidgeting a little. Ever since they were little, they'd made the journey to their mother's grave, but it was an obligation that neither really enjoyed. Gordon's memories of Lucille were fuzzy; snatches of music, an occasionally remembered smile, laughter in the bathtub were the clearest. Alan's memories were fewer still, and even more fuzzy, so much so that he didn't know where his own memories ended and his brothers' recollections, told to him in quiet, private places so as not to upset Jeff, began.

"Hi, Mom." Gordon brought a small bouquet of white and pink carnations. He didn't dare put them in the vase with his father's bountiful and beautiful roses, so he just laid them on top of the stone. His grandmother had told him all about the meanings that some of the flowers and trees that were planted around the graveyard. But he wasn't into such things, and the carnations seemed to be appropriate. "It's a nice day to be here. We had a lot of work to do to clean up the graveyard; a tornado ripped up some of the trees, and the fence was smashed."

He shifted his weight from one foot to another. "I've been good, though I got into a couple of scrapes that injured my back. Mo... I mean, Dianne was really strict with me about getting well. Dom -- he's the new nurse -- taught me some yoga positions that help." He laced his fingers together. "We've got some new people in IR. One's a firefighter; her name is Cassie. Haven't gotten much of a chance to know her; she hasn't moved in yet. Brandon's another; he's an aquanaut and has been a great help to me." Gordon glanced at Alan. "I guess Alan wants to talk to you now." He sighed. "See you again, Mom." He motioned toward his brother, and went off, hands in his pockets and head down.

"Hello, there." Alan rocked back on his heels. "I usually don't know what to say to you when we come, but you know that already. I say it every year, don't I?" He sighed. "I guess the first thing I should tell you is that I broke up with Tin-Tin. I told Penelope that my life was too dangerous to have someone in it... which it is! I felt I had to break up with Tin-Tin to keep her safe." He shook his head. "I was being a jerk; something I've been told more than once by more than one person." He shrugged, then smiled a little. "Gordon told you a little about Brandon and Dom. Well, I guess I should tell you about the other new nurse -- Nikki." He chuckled. "Never thought I'd fall for someone like her. We didn't start off too well, mind you. I guess my 'chauvinistic ways' made her mad or something. But... there's something special about her. I don't know whether it's her eyes, or the way she holds her head up, or even the way she beats me at basketball. I've just grown to really enjoy her company."

He paused. "When the tornado took the farmhouse -- it's gone, by the way, in case no one told you -- and tore up the graveyard, it also took out Thunderbird Seven. Mom... I mean, Dianne... Dom, and Nikki were on board. I wasn't here; I was in space, helping to separate a couple of satellites, but when I heard about it, I was scared. Not as scared as I was when Dad's helijet went down... that was a whole different kind of fear. But I was really scared. Scared for Dianne, because she was hurt the worst, but also for Nikki. I mean, we'd just gotten to be friends and... I thought we could become more. Then she's in the hospital." He paused, and said thoughtfully, "Maybe her life is the dangerous one." The idea made him quiet for a moment, then he perked up. "But she's okay now, and well, that's the news in my life. Maybe next year I can bring her and introduce her."

A hand fell on his shoulder, and he turned to see his father standing behind him. "Everything okay, son?"

Alan nodded. "Yeah, Dad. Everything's okay. You want to talk to her now?"

"Just for a minute."

Dianne stood back as Jeff took one yellow rose from the bouquet, and moved close to the gravestone. Alan stepped back, then turned to Dianne and hugged her tight. "Thanks, Mom," he murmured in her ear. "Thanks for showing me what a mother's all about. I love you, y'know."

"Oh, Alan," Dianne said quietly, a bit of shock in her voice at his comment. She sighed, a grateful sound, and hugged him back. "I love you, too, Alan. And I'm proud to be your mom, even if I didn't give birth to you."

In the meanwhile, Jeff crouched before the headstone, and traced the two entwined hearts that were engraved between Lucille's name and statistics, and the epitaph. "Thank you, Lucy," he whispered. "You gave me far more than I ever gave you. Every day of our lives together was filled with love, even when we fought or were angry with each other. I have mourned for you for a long time, but my mourning is through. I'll always remember you with love, and cherish the memories we made together. But now I have someone new to love and cherish, and I wouldn't have her if you hadn't shown me how to open myself up and love unconditionally." He let the soft tears roll down his cheeks. "If you can see me, see us, from where you are, I hope you understand how happy I am now." He kissed the rose and laid it at the foot of the headstone. "Yellow roses say 'I miss you', and I have missed you. Now I'm moving on."

He took out his handkerchief to wipe his eyes and face, then put it back in his pocket and stood. His gaze swept the graveyard, rested briefly on the gently smiling face of his wife, and glanced toward his father's grave, where his mother sat, John and Tyler beside her.

Gathering Dianne to his side with one hand, he headed for his mother. Scott, noticing this, whispered in Cherie's ear, and began to help her gather her pencils and other supplies together. Virgil, who was with Alex, examining an insect he'd found, nudged the boy, who let the bug go. From all corners of the cemetery they came, converging on the spot where Emily sat.

"Well, son," Emily said, beginning to rise. "I'd best go pay my respects to Lucy before we leave."

"That's fine, Ma. Just come right back. I've got something special in mind."

Emily gave Jeff a quick, puzzled look as she went off to visit her late daughter-in-law's burial site. Jeff rubbed a hand over his father's headstone and smiled. "Wish I had more to say, Dad, but I miss you, and I wish you were here. You'd have three new grandchildren, and I think they would have loved to have you as a grandpa."

--remembrance part 3 by Tikatu on September 14, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #368 is a reply to message #367] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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When it was clear that Emily was finished paying her respects, Jeff had Scott and Virgil move the bench over to Lucille's grave site, and place it at the foot of the grave.

"What's this all about, Jeff?" Emily asked.

"Sit down, Ma. You too, Dianne, Princess." Once the ladies were seated on the bench, and his sons were ranged around them, some standing, the young ones seated on the grass, Jeff stood before them. "Do you have the envelopes, Princess?"

"Yes, Dad." Cherie opened her art bag and pulled out some manila envelopes, which Jeff retrieved.

He returned to his place, shuffled the envelopes, and cleared his throat. "Yesterday, we were talking about the history of our family, and how much of it has come down to us from journals." He gave Dianne a smile. "A few weeks ago, during another anniversary, Dianne had her wedding album out, and was remembering her special day with Rick. I brought out my wedding album, too." He looked slightly embarrassed when he admitted, "It was actually Grandma's copy as, at the time, I had no idea where mine had gone."

Dianne smiled and chuckled a little, and Emily said, "Now I know what you wanted the album for."

"Uh, yeah, Mom. That was it." Jeff huffed once, then cleared his throat again. "In any case, I realized that there were a lot of things I hadn't thought about for a long while in regards to Lucy, memories I hadn't revisited because I thought they'd be too painful. And, in doing so, I was... well, I was robbing you boys of parts of your family history." He looked down and swallowed. "So... I went looking for that history. I found my copy of the wedding album, and it's now sitting next to the one from Dianne and Rick's wedding, and the one from our wedding. I went looking for the photo albums and storage disks, and had them copied to data chips -- and to archive paper, so they could be viewed by everyone."

He paused, and his voice lowered. "And I also found Lucy's journals." He drew in a deep breath in order to compose himself. "They were hard to read at first; I kept hearing her voice and getting lost in the memories that the entries prompted." Rubbing the back of his neck, he smiled sheepishly. "Not to mention finding out what she thought of me when we'd had an argument or I'd displeased her in some way."

Now everyone chuckled, except the little boys, who were glancing up at their mother with questioning looks. Jeff cleared his throat again, and the laughter died down. "In any case, I went through and found some of the things Lucy said about you boys, some of her hopes and dreams for you, and I've tried to match them up with a picture of you with her, one that you can frame as you please. I'd like to read them here, as from her lips." He put on his reading glasses, and selected one of the envelopes, tucking the others under his arm. "I'll start with Scott."

Scott started, eyes growing wide, fixed on his father as Jeff pulled a piece of paper from the envelope and began to read.

"Today... today I became a mother. It's an indescribable feeling and one I know I'll never have again. When I look into my precious Scotty's eyes, my heart is filled with love and joy and a deep warmth. Much like when I stared into Jeff's eyes on my wedding day, but different, too, because this little baby is part of both of us. He is Jeff, and he is me, and he is himself. If I could have one wish for him, it would be that he would grow to be like his father, bold and fearless and caring and full of laughter. Already I see the fearlessness in him; it doesn't matter who is holding him, he doesn't complain -- unless he has fair reason to do so, like hunger or a dirty diaper. He will always be special because he is my first child, my first son, and he will never lose that specialness, no matter how long I live."

Jeff stopped and drew in another deep breath, then opened the envelope again, and pulled out a picture. It was of Lucy and Jeff in the hospital, with newborn Scott wrapped in a blue blanket with a tiny blue cap on his head. Lucy was holding him so that she looked in his face, but Jeff had leaned over to put his lips gently on the baby's head. Putting the picture on top, Jeff handed the envelope and the paper with the journal entry in it to his son. Scott looked at it for a long time, biting his lower lip. Then he met his father's gaze and, his voice thick, said, "Thank you, Dad."

"You're welcome, son." Jeff took out another envelope, and smiled a little. "Virgil is next."

Virgil stood straight, a slight smile on his face as Jeff began to read. "Virgil, Virgil, Virgil... what am I going to do with the boy? He's always coloring on the walls, banging on the piano keys, and dancing when I play. My mother says he looks like me, and when I tell her what he's been up to, she smiles and says, 'That sounds familiar. You did the same thing when you were his age.' He has so much energy, and gets so frustrated when I take away the crayons, or close up the piano. I asked him what he was drawing today. He said, 'Daddy!' Now that I look at it, it does resemble Jeff a little... with blue hair and a purple face! I guess I'd better cherish this little artist, and try to channel his obvious talents into more structured pursuits -- before I wash the paint clean off the walls!"

The comments made the little group laugh, and Virgil blushed even as he smiled. Jeff took out the picture of toddler Virgil, his face a study in surprise as he was caught red-handed with a fat crayon pressed to the wall. His mother was squatting down beside him, her hand over his, and she was trying hard to look serious and stern, but not completely succeeding. Jeff handed it over and Gordon peered over his shoulder to look at it. "Nice to know I'm not the only one who misbehaved!"

Virgil looked up, smiling again. "Thanks, Dad. I'll be sure to frame this one."

"You do that." Jeff selected a third envelope, and opened it, saying, "This one is John's."

John's eyes widened, and he stood a little straighter as Jeff read. "I went looking for John tonight at bedtime, and couldn't seem to find him anywhere! I was beginning to worry when I heard Jeff's voice out on the back deck. He was talking to someone in those deep tones of his, and when I listened a little harder, I could hear John responding, asking a question. I didn't want to interrupt them; Jeff has precious little time to spend with the boys as it is with the company and all. So I sneaked out onto the deck as quietly as I could. It was a heart-warming sight; John sitting on Jeff's knee, both of them looking up at the sky. John was asking questions about the stars, really intelligent ones for a three-year-old, and Jeff answered, sometimes drawing something on a piece of paper, and shining a flashlight on it. He was teaching John the constellations, and it seemed John couldn't get enough of it. Finally, he yawned, and I cleared my throat. Both of them were startled to find me there, and I reminded Jeff that it was past John's bedtime. Jeff grinned, then picked John up and put him on those broad shoulders of his to carry him inside."

Jeff paused for a moment, swatting a pesky fly off the paper. His audience began to stir, and Jeff looked up. "There's a little more here."

When they had quieted, he continued. "Jeff has a special bond with Scott... they are so much alike in so many ways. Virgil and I share a similar connection. I was so afraid that John would be the odd man out, but I see that this isn't so. Jeff and I can both relate to him in different ways. He's not missing out; he's got the best of both of us. I hope this continues, especially once the next baby gets here."

The picture that Jeff showed them was one of a preschool John sitting on his mother's lap, both of them looking at a book... one that was definitely about stars. John smiled softly as he took the papers from his father. "I think I remember this book, too."

"You would," Alan said as he looked at the picture with John.

"Can I see?"

"Come on over here, Tyler, and see what I looked like when I was a little kid."

Tyler got up and hurried to John's side. "Huh. I never knew you were ever that little."

Everyone laughed, and when it wound down, John looked at his father with gratitude in his eyes. "Thanks, Dad, for everything."

"You're welcome, John."

Jeff coughed a little, and shifted from one foot to another. He was used to making speeches, but they'd been there a while, and his throat was getting dry. He pulled out another envelope, and adjusted his glasses. "Gordon's turn."

Gordon grinned as his father began to read. "Bath time was never like this for the others. In fact, Virgil hated baths! But Gordon? He's happy as a clam in the tub. Never complains, even if a little soap gets in his eyes. He wails when I take him out of the water to dry him off! Em was here today, and kept an eye on the other boys while I got a much needed nap between Alan's feedings. She fed them lunch, and by the end of the meal -- as usual - there was more food on Gordon than in him! When I came down from the nursery, he was wailing because she was using a face cloth to wash him up. I told her just to strip him down and put him in the bath. I swear he does this on purpose; gets himself so filthy that he has to be put in the tub. Of course, she came out of the bathroom drenched from Gordon's splashing."

"Sounds like you were a practical joker even back then," Scott quipped.

"He was!" Grandma declared. "And he only got worse!"

"I expanded my horizons, that's all, Grandma," Gordon said, a pseudo hurt look on his face.

This time the laughter was long, and Jeff waited patiently for it to die down. "There's just a little more here. Bear with me." He glanced along the page and nodded when he found his place. "Maybe getting a little wading pool will help with the 'getting filthy as a reason for a bath' thing. Though I'll have to keep a sharp eye on this water baby of mine; he's totally fearless in more ways than one. I hope that this fearlessness doesn't translate into recklessness later in life; I don't think I could bear to lose him in some stupid accident due to his own actions."

At these words, Gordon sobered. "And what happened? We lost her to a stupid accident."

"It wasn't her fault," Scott reminded him sternly.

"And we almost lost you, too, Gords, to that hydrofoil." Virgil put a hand on Gordon's shoulder.

"At least she wasn't around to see that." Gordon sighed, and glanced up at his father. "What does the picture look like, Dad?"

"Here it is." The print was one of toddler Gordon sitting in a plastic wading pool, looking up at the camera, grinning, a boat in his two pudgy hands. Lucille was in the process of putting a hat on him, and her face was in profile. She wasn't smiling, but she wasn't frowning either. She just looked preoccupied.

"It's the best I could find to fit the journal entry," Jeff said apologetically.

Gordon smiled slightly. "It's fine, Dad. Thanks for doing this."

Jeff just nodded, then he opened the last envelope. "And this is about Alan."

Alan took in a deep breath as his father adjusted his glasses again and started to read. "I thought I'd feel jaded by now. Five babies, five sons, but when I look at Alan, I still feel that wonder. It's not the same as it was with Scott when everything was new; I've given birth five times now, and some of that seems like old hat. But the tiny fingers, the way they curl around mine, the long, long lashes, the tiny feet that kick as he squirms without thought... all of these are still a wonder to me. Even as a newborn, Alan has a personality. He's a mama's boy, it seems; if anyone else other than Jeff or myself holds him, he wails until he's handed back to one of us. He even did this for Jeff at first, until Jeff cooed to him in that deep voice of his and he recognized the sound of his daddy. But he's happiest in my arms, which may cause trouble, especially considering that Gordon's only just turned one. It's going to be hard giving all my boys the attention they need and deserve, and, as much as I'd love to have a little girl, I've convinced Jeff that this will be the last one for a while. Maybe a couple of years down the road, when Alan's ready for preschool. But until Em brings the boys to visit tomorrow, the world consists of Jeff and me and Alan. Which is as it should be for now."

Alan's eyes were closed, and his face was angled downward when Jeff finished. He sniffed, then raised moist eyes to his father. Jeff pulled out the picture. It was almost a mirror image of Scott's; Jeff was the one holding the baby to look him in the face, and Lucille was the one kissing the blue-capped head. Both looked older; Lucille in particular had laugh lines at the corners of her eyes that weren't there in Scott's picture. But they still looked very much as if this child were the center of their universe.

"I... I don't know what to say. Thank you, Dad," Alan murmured as he took the envelope from Jeff. Then he stepped out from behind the bench, and embraced his father, squeezing hard. One by one, his brothers followed suit, each telling Jeff in their own, wordless way how much they loved him.

"Now, unless anyone else has something to say, I think I'm ready to go." Jeff offered his hand to his mother, who took it and let him help her rise.

"Can we go eat now?" Alex asked. "I'm hungry."

"Yes, Alex, we can." He tucked Emily's hand in one elbow, and entwined his fingers with Dianne's hand on the other side. "By the way," he called after his sons, who were making their way toward the parked cars. "I brought some of the photo albums along if you want to look through them. We won't be leaving right away tomorrow, so there'll be opportunity now, and when we get back home."

"Thanks, Dad," Scott said, turning to acknowledge the call. He put an arm around Cherie as they wound their way through the graves. Tyler was walking with John, and Alex had latched on to Gordon for a change.

As they reached where the wrought iron gates used to be, Jeff glanced back one last time. "Goodbye, Lucy," he whispered. Then he let go of Dianne's hand and put his arm around her waist, drawing her close.

--remembrance part 4 by Tikatu on September 14, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #370 is a reply to message #368] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday, September 25, 2068, 9:30 p.m., local time, Wichita, KS (Wednesday, September 26, 2:30 p.m., Tracy Island)

"Whew! What a day!" Dianne slid out of her shoes in the sitting room of the suite she and Jeff occupied. The family had taken several suites; the younger boys were staying with the elder ones, and Cherie with Emily, just to give the married couple some privacy.

"It was at that." Jeff pulled on the knot of his tie, undoing it, and draped his suit coat, which he'd already removed in the elevator, over the back of one of the settees. He laid the tie on top of it, and sat down to untie his shoes. "I had reserved the restaurant's meeting room for an open ended period of time. But I didn't realize we'd take it up for quite that long."

"Once the boys started reminiscing, there was no stopping it." Dianne opened the door to their bedroom and stepped inside. There was a moment of silence, then an awed, "Oh my!"

Jeff put his shoe down, and joined his wife, coming up behind her where she stood rooted to one spot. He put his hands on her shoulders, and she turned her head to see him. "Oh, Jeff! It's beautiful!"

"I'm glad you like it," he murmured, moving his hands around to gather her in his arms from behind.

The room was filled with fragrance from the dozens of red roses in vases placed around the room. Where there were no roses, the long stems of white calla lilies were grouped, tall and elegant. The lighting was dim, and the bed was turned down.

"I love it, Jeff, but... why?"

Jeff released his clasp and put his hands on her shoulders again, briefly squeezing them before kissing the nape of her neck, and beginning to slowly pull down the zipper on her dress. "I've spent the past hours remembering my late wife, and reliving parts of my life with her. Now it's time to focus on my present, and my future, and you, my love." He kissed her neck again, and moved his lips to her shoulders. She moaned softly, and he nuzzled her ear. "Please, love me, and remind me what I have, instead of what I've lost."

Dianne took one of his hands from her shoulder, and turned to face him. Looking into his eyes, she traced along the edge of his jaw with her fingers, then drew his face toward hers. Their lips met in a long, passionate kiss. Without a word, she gently took his hand, and drew him over to the bed.

--remembrance finis by Tikatu on September 15, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #371 is a reply to message #370] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Wednesday, September 26, 2068; Tracy Island and Thunderbird Five; 3pm

"Tracy Island calling Thunderbird Five." The eyes on John's portrait blinked for a second, then his picture disappeared and was replaced by Callie's face.

"Thunderbird Five here. Hi, Dom; hi, Anna."

"Hello, Callie. Looking forward to coming back to Earth?" Dom grinned, happily at her. After the scare of almost losing Josh, he seemed to be unable to feel anything but happy.

Callie grimaced. "I'm not sure. Ask me when this session is over."

Anna raised an eyebrow. "I'm not that scary, am I?"

Dom decided retreat was the better part of valor. He waved at the screen and headed out toward the pool where Josh was splashing Nikki.

Anna put on her best 'mildly interested but not too concerned' look and asked, "Dianne told me you had a bad nightmare. Do you want to tell me about it?"

Callie described the nightmare in detail. In the end she said, "Then, I woke up. Dianne was calling my name from the radio. Nikki was there with her. I'd become so upset I'd tripped the medical alarms and awakened Nikki. She couldn't wake me, so she called Dianne."

"How did you feel when you woke up?"

"Dazed. Surprised that nothing was out of place. Upset that I'd woke Nikki and Dianne up."

"But not scared?"

"No. I was more angry than scared."

"Who where you angry at?" When Callie looked at her, confused, Anna explained. "Were you angry at the Hood or at yourself?"

"At the Hood. I mean, how dare he disturb me up here where I was safe."

Anna grinned at that. "I think that's very important. You felt safe up there. Do you still feel safe?"

Callie nodded. "Yes. I know he can't reach me up here. Not unless he gets a rocket. And I'd see him coming."

"He can't reach you on the island either because you would see him coming as well. But you're used to space and probably feel a lot safer there, naturally. I think you've show a lot of progress with this dream."

Callie looked surprised at that. "If I am making progress, why am I still having nightmares? Do I need to increase my antidepressants?"

"Callie, you're a scientist. Analyze this dream and compare it to your previous nightmares."

Callie looked thoughtful for a moment. "In my previous dreams, the Tracys were hunting me and wanted to kill me. In this one, the Hood was attacking me."

"Go on," Anna said neutrally.

"Before, I was terrified and tried to run away. This time, I wasn't as scared and I didn't try to escape. I fought back!" There was a look of triumph on her face.

"When the mind can't deal with something, it suppresses it. When your subconscious thinks you are ready to start dealing with it, you can start having dreams about it to help you handle it. You feel very safe up there, so your subconscious relaxed enough to start dealing with what happened. Now think about it. You won! You didn't give the Hood any information and you chased him off the station. You aren't scared of him anymore -- or at least not as much. Yes, your reactions set off the alarms, but you woke yourself up; you didn't need rescuing. You still have some work to do, but I'll talk to Dianne about lowering your antidepressant dosage as soon as she gets home. Just don't stop taking them or drop the dosage until you're back down here."

"I won't, although it seems I'm doing better."

"You're not 100 percent yet, but this is a major step. I expect you'll have some more nightmares. We still have work to do and things to get through. I suspect the worst is over. But stopping or lowering the dosage on any antidepressant can be tricky. I'd rather you were back on earth with other people around before we try it." Anna grinned. "Keep on like this and I'll have to retire again."

Callie grinned back. "You'll retire about the same time Mr. Tracy does -- the 12th of never."

Anna laughed. "Will you be all right for the rest of your stay on Thunderbird Five?"

"I think so. I'll be coming home next week anyway." With a sigh, Callie added, "Thanks for hearing me out, Anna. I probably would've gone mad if I hadn't told anyone about this."

"I've known many people who have done that before, not talking about nightmares until something bad happened. Dreams and nightmares tend to be reflections of whatever is happening in your head. Just remember you have a large support group on your side, okay?"

"I will. Thanks again."

"You're welcome. See you next week. Take care."

After Callie ended the transmission, Anna sat down by the coffee table and started typing notes into her computer. She was thinking to herself, That was a major step. She'll be ok now; she just needs a little more time.

Posted by SusanMartha on September 16, 2007

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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 20:22]

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #372 is a reply to message #371] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, September 27th: Tracy Island

Brandon stood on the balcony, the tropical breeze caressing his face. It was 5am and, for some unknown reason, he was unable to sleep. It's been a while since I've had this happen, he thought. I hope it doesn't become a habit. After a few minutes, he went back inside. I'd better try to get some sleep or I won't be worth a damn later on.

He walked to his computer and was about to shut it down when the sound of somebody logging on caught his attention. Looking at the name, he smiled broadly. Well, what do you know. Sitting down, Brandon began typing, his need for sleep forgotten.

Brandon: Hey Aaron, it's been a while. How've you been?

Aaron: Big Mac, nice to see you. I was wondering what hole you fell in
Brandon: It was a deep one. Sorry I haven't been on lately but my job's been keeping me busy.

Aaron: No problem, I know how it is. It would be nice though, if you'd try to keep in touch more often. Very Happy Okay, enough scolding. Has anything exciting been happening in your life?

Brandon: Hmmm? Does getting my pilot's license count as exciting?

Aaron: What? You're kidding, right!?

Brandon: No, I am not kidding.

Aaron: So, does this mean you'll be able to fly to San Diego for a visit once in a while?

Brandon: I'm sure going to try. And when I do, we'll have to skydive at least once while I'm there.

The two friends talked for a bit longer before Brandon looked at the clock and realized he'd been talking to Aaron for almost two hours. He said goodbye to his friend, promising to keep in touch with him.

Posted by MagicMaster8 on September 18, 2007

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[Updated on: Sun, 19 April 2015 00:59] by Moderator

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #373 is a reply to message #372] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Wednesday, September 26, 5 PM; Kansas (10 AM Thursday on Tracy Island)

Jeff and Dianne had settled to watch the news before going out for dinner. They'd been out all day, running errands and making decisions, and wanted to unwind first.

It was the local news report, and it began with the all-too-familiar car accidents during rush hour, holding up traffic more than usual. Then there was a report of a trial going on. Two men had robbed a convenience store and shot the clerk, seriously injuring him. Then there were two political reports. Finally, some good news came on.

The female anchor said, "August fourteenth was a day no one is likely to forget for a long, long time. It was the day several tornados roared through, causing damage, death and destruction to all in their path. One twister even damaged an International Rescue vehicle, injuring its medical staff. I hope somehow they are watching, because we have an uplifting story to tell.

"We go to Murray Gill High School, and our reporter on the scene, Roger Cambry. Roger, what's happening there right now?"

The scene shifted to the school grounds. A thirty-something man, with wavy dark hair and a moustache, was standing a short distance away from the school's entrance. Behind him was a fairly large group of people. "A month and a half ago, this was the scene here." Footage of the school, recorded after the tornados had ceased was replayed, with Roger still on camera in an inset in the lower right hand corner. "This is what Murray Gill High School looked like three days after one of the tornados hit it. A Special Olympics Challenge Day had been held here, and the awards had been given out, when the sirens sounded.

"Everyone headed inside the school, but the tornado hit and blew the doors in. The sponsor of the event, Michael Hart, owner of Hart Construction and a well-known philanthropist, was among the injured. As soon as he could, he got his company to begin work on rebuilding the damaged structure, and it is now completed. Today they are having a ribbon cutting, and the school will reopen tomorrow morning."

Roger moved closer to the entrance, so the cameraman could pick up the ceremony more easily. Now Dianne could see a few familiar faces. She started to tell Jeff who they were, when the reporter continued.

"Mr. Hart is here with us today, along with some of the participants from the SO Day. It looks like the ceremony is about to begin; let's listen in."

The camera zoomed in on Michael. He and some of the kids, including Peter Valerian, were holding a long pair of scissors. Michael began to speak. "I am proud to be here to do this, and I thank you all for coming. Those of us who were here on that terrible day have a lot to be grateful for. And thanks to International Rescue, we can do what we're about to. So, without further ado," and he and the children began cutting the ribbon, "I declare that Murray Gill High School is once again..."

"Open!" shouted Peter, as the cutting was completed and the ribbon fell away. He raised his small arms straight up and yelled, "Yay!"

Michael looked down at him in astonishment, and Peter's mother, Carol, gasped, as the audience stood and applauded. Carol rushed up to her son, and the camera showed her squatting down beside his wheelchair and talking to him. He answered her, hesitantly, as Michael bent over to try to hear them. He was leaning on a cane to do so.

Roger, sensing a story, headed toward them, as the people headed inside to see the changes that were made. When he reached them, he said, "Excuse me. Would you mind telling us what just happened here?"

Seeing that Carol was so focused on her son that she was oblivious to the reporter and the cameraman, Michael moved away to answer. "Peter is five years old and one of the boys who participated in the Challenge Day. He had been in the accident that killed his father about fifteen months ago. Not only did that put him in the wheelchair, he hasn't spoken a word since that day. Until," he stopped and swallowed hard, "until just now."

A giggle drew their attention to Peter. His mother was smiling, although she had just wiped away some tears.

Roger moved closer to the boy. "Hello there, young man. I hear you've been pretty quiet until now. Do you want to say anything to the people watching you?"

Peter giggled again and ducked his head shyly. His mother whispered something to him and he looked up again. Grinning widely, he said, "Hi, In-nash-al Rescue. Thank you." And he waved at the camera.

"Thank you, Peter," Roger said as the camera panned back to him once more. "Well folks, there you have it. Not only is a school open once again, but a little boy begins to speak once again. Very good news here today. Back to you, Nora."

The camera cut back to the anchor desk, and Jeff's attention turned to Dianne, who had two fingers crooked over her mouth. Tears filled her eyes, and as she blinked, ran freely down her cheeks.

"Are you okay, love?" he asked, putting an arm around her shoulders.

She nodded quickly. "Yeah, Ah'm okay." She sniffed loudly. "Oh, God, that's so amazin'! He's talkin'!" She turned to her husband. "Ah remember him. His mama was so worried. He'd broken his arm... but seein' the Thunderbirds... that seemed to perk him right up!" She leaned her head on Jeff's shoulder. "Moah than evah Ah'm so glad we do this."

"D'you think the boys will remember him? We can let them know. I bet there'll be a repeat of this later, too."

"Gordon might remember him, maybe Virgil or Alan. It was mostly the new recruits though, who were theyah workin' with us."

He pressed her to his side with a gentle squeeze. "Then perhaps the commander of IR needs to ask for a copy of this report to show our people back at headquarters."

With thanks to Tikatu for writing Jeff and Dianne's reaction to the story.

Posted by hobbeth on September 18, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #374 is a reply to message #373] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tracy Island, Thursday September 27...

Luke jogged up the path, Rommel a few paces in front of him. Suddenly the dog paused and looked back at his master. "What is it, boy?" Luke asked. Rommel gave a "woof" and with his tail gyrating madly, he waited for Luke to catch up. They entered the clearing around the Cliff House and Luke saw what was getting Rom so excited.

"Doggy!" Josh got to his feet and toddled over towards them. Rom sat down next to Luke, looking up with pleading eyes.

Luke sighed. "Go ahead." The dog jumped up and met Josh halfway, dropping to the ground and rolling so the boy could scratch the dog's belly.

"Jak, where have you--JOSH!" Dom saw his son with the big shepherd and froze, the color draining from his face.

Luke stepped forward instantly. "Rommel, come!" The dog got up and trotted to his master's side. "Stay," Luke commanded. He turned to Dom. "He wouldn't hurt him."

Dom nodded hesitantly. "I-I know." He eyed the dog warily as he scooped his son up in his arms.

Josh struggled to get free. "Doggy! Doggy!"

"Rom, upstairs. Go." The dog obeyed, quickly making his way to the stairs outside the apartments and disappearing from view. Luke turned back to Dom. "I'm sorry. I won't let him go near Josh again."


Joshua struggled against his father's grip, and began to wail as Rommel disappeared from sight.

"It''s not that," Dom said over the sound of his son's crying, as he tried to coddle the child into quiet. "I know he wouldn't hurt Joshua, but... I'm not the world's biggest fan of dogs. Truth be told I'm outright scared of them." He gave a little self-depreciating snort. "I bet you think that's wild stupid."

"No, of course I don't," Luke said.

He studied the other's man's facial features and body language, and came to the conclusion that he was stressed. Very stressed.

"Joshua likes him...there's no need to keep him away from him..."

"But keep him away from you?" Luke asked.

"That would be...appreciated. Sorry."

"No, it's fine! Almost everyone has a phobia of some sort." Luke paused for a moment, as Joshua began to quiet down. "I've heard that things have been pretty rough for you, recently. Would you like to join me for dinner tonight? I'll do all the work; you just show up with Josh. And you won't get any trouble from Rommel."

Dominic didn't answer straight away. Do I want to be in company? Is it going to be exceptionally rude for me to say no...? Screw it, maybe it'll be fun!

"Sure, that sounds good."

Luke clapped his hands together. "Great! I'll see you around seven? You know where to find me," he said with a grin. "Does stir-fry chicken sound okay?"

"The stir-fry does, but not the chicken. I'm a vegetarian."

"Ah, I didn't know. Well, I can whip up a veggie stir-fry no problem. So I'll see you later?"

"Yeah. Yeah, you will."

"Great! See ya."

Luke trotted off in the direction Rommel had gone, and Dominic turned Joshua around in his arms; the child's sniffling had stopped, but he kept looking towards the point where Rom has disappeared.

"You'll see the doggy later, Josh."

"Doggy?" Josh asked excitedly.

"Yes, doggy. We're going to go visit the doggy. Now, let's get you cleaned up and down for a nap, hmm?"

Joshua responded only with a happy squeak: "Doggy!"


Luke stood at the counter, chopping up vegetables and tossing them into a skillet. The steady thumping of rock and roll pulsed in the background. He took a sip from his beer and glanced behind him.

Most of his things were still in boxes, but he had managed to get the bedroom and one wall of the living room painted. He'd put the curtains up around the glass doors, so the room didn't look too bad. Brains had shown him where the power tools were, and Luke was in the process of building book shelves.

Rom was locked in the bedroom, the AC turned on high. Knowing the mutt, he's probably sprawled across the bed, Luke thought to himself. He turned back to his task and was just finishing up as the door chime sounded.

Wiping his hands on his jeans, he turned down the music and then answered the door. Dom stood there, Josh in his arms. The child smiled up at Luke. "Doggy?" he asked.

Luke chuckled. "We'll go see the doggy later, he's taking a nap. C'mon in. Can I get you anything? Beer, juice, soda?" He frowned at Josh for a minute. "I'm afraid I don't have a sippy cup for the big guy here," he said, ruffling the boy's hair.

"I always come prepared," Dominic said, turning to the side to reveal an over-stuffed diaper bag.

Luke laughed. "Sure looks like it. Have a nuclear fallout bunker in there, too?" he asked with a grin.

"Just about," Dom said, chuckling. "I'll take a soda, please. I have some juice here for Josh."

The little group settled inside the apartment, Luke assuring Dominic that he didn't need any help.

"You're the guest," he said, and saw to it that the man was settled in a seat, enjoying his drink.

Joshua was babbling about Rommel: "Where doggie? When doggie?" It was only when he was assured that he would get to see the German Shepherd fifteen times, and when the smell of dinner became stronger, that the boy shifted his attention away from him.

"Foods? Foods-foods?"

Luke chuckled at the boys antics, but not at Dominic's exasperation, even exhaustion. He sure seems tired... I wonder why he chose to be a part of International Rescue with such a young child.

"Yes, Josh, you will see the dog. Yes, we're getting food." It was all spoken in the same soft, weary tone.

Dinner was a quiet affair (for all except Joshua). Afterward, Joshua got his wish to see Rommel, and the dog and boy played together in the living area under the careful watch of the two men. At first, Dominic didn't take his eyes off Rom, part out of fear for himself, part out of fear for Joshua. But surprisingly, he seemed to relax somewhat and even looked away from time to time. The men talked in general terms about island life, and Dominic recounted a few anecdotes about life before Luke had arrived. He didn't talk about the recent events that had affected him, but Luke was glad to note that when he left, he had a smile on his face, and his voice had attained a less monotone and more cheerful element.

"Thanks for dinner," Dominic said as Luke saw him out. "Next time, my place."

"I look forward to it."

Dominic and Joshua waved goodbye, and Luke watched as the door slid shut.

"That's what I call a successful visit," he said, ruffling Rom's ears. "Now, how about I show you how to do the dishes."

By ArtisticRainey and Lillehafrue on September 23, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #375 is a reply to message #374] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Friday, September 28, 2068, 7 a.m., Tracy Island

Jeff let go a heavy, relieved sigh as the engines' whine ceased. He unbuckled himself from the pilot's seat. "Home at last."

John, who had flown shotgun on the last half of the journey from Kansas, removed his headphones, unbuckled his restraining straps and stretched. "That felt like it took an eternity."

"The ride home usually does," Jeff commented. He put the mileage and fuel data into the computer pad he held, marking off which of them had been piloting and co-piloting. "I'm glad Scott agreed to sit in back this time. His flight hours are pretty much full for this month."

"His official ones? Or his overall ones?"

"Overall. He's done a lot of flying, ferrying people around. Fortunately there's only a few more days to the month."

"Does this mean I can take One on the next rescue?" John's question was real and teasing at the same time.

"That depends." Jeff gave John a side wise glance.

"On what?"

"On who's flying Two, and if we have a rescue before Alan goes up. We do have Elise available, too."

John groaned. "Looks like I won't be going on any more rescues than I did before Callie came on board."

"I didn't say that..." Jeff's explanation was interrupted by the cockpit door opening, and Dianne sticking her head in.

"Are you two coming?" she asked. "We do need to unload the luggage, and do post-flight checks."

"I'm coming, Mom," John said, turning to the copilot's door. He opened it and eased himself to the hangar floor, stretching again. "I'll leave you lovebirds alone."

His last comment, made just before he closed the copilot's door, caused both parents to turn toward him, and shake their heads in near unison. Jeff returned to his report, but redirected his attention as Dianne draped a languid arm over his shoulders.

"So, how are you?" she asked, leaning close.

Jeff met her gaze, smiling. "I'm better. I feel like I've had closure on part of my life."

Dianne frowned a bit. "I don't understand."

He put down the pad and took her free hand in his. "For a long time, I shut my feelings and my memories of Lucille up in a little box and wouldn't touch it. I was... numb, I guess, when it came to her. Now I've opened that box, and I'm looking through those memories, and remembering those feelings, but there's a difference. They don't hurt, not like I thought they would. I can remember her without feeling the pain of grief." He kissed her palm. "I've finally allowed myself to let go. And that's due to you. Just as my being able to love you is due to her. She taught me how to open my heart to love."

"I think I understand now," Dianne said, her eyes moist. "Like Rick taught me how to fight for the one you love. There's a part of our relationship that was part of what we had, what we learned, with our first spouse."

"Yes." Jeff put his free hand on the side of Dianne's face and drew her near for a soft kiss. It was followed by a second, and a third, then she drew back.

"I think we'd better go, and pick this up later," she said, a touch of disappointment in her voice.

"I agree." He picked up the pad again, saved the information, and opened the pilot's door. He slipped out, and turned to help his wife, who had slid into his chair, down to the floor. Scott sauntered by, pushing an antigrav float, piled high with luggage.

"I'll take this upstairs and get it sorted out," he told his father. "The laundry room's going to be busy for the next day or two."

"I'm sure it will be," Jeff said. He kissed Dianne. "I'll be upstairs as soon as John and I complete the post-flight inspection."

"All right. I'll see you there."

Jeff turned and called for John, as Dianne fell into step with Scott. "I wish we could have gotten home sooner so that Cherie wouldn't have had to miss her art class," she said.

"It would have been nice," Scott admitted, "but the IDL is a bear when traveling to the States."

"And we did have a lot to do there on Wednesday; things we could have done on Monday if we hadn't had to clean up the graveyard," she commented. "It was nice to find a place that will cure all that oak for us."

"Yeah." Scott pushed the float into the elevator, and both he and Dianne squeezed in after it. "I wonder what Dad's planning to do with it in the new house?"

"I think he mentioned using some to carve the fireplace mantle. The rest of the wood? I'm not sure. Do you think there's enough to floor the living room? Or the porch?"

"I think flooring the porch with that would be a waste of good board." Scott thought for a moment. "But the front door... there's an idea."

"I thought he'd want something stronger than oak, for security's sake." The elevator stopped on the lower floor of the Villa, where Kyrano and Lisa waited for them. "Hi, Mom. Hello, Kyrano."

Mother and daughter embraced, and Kyrano spoke quietly with Scott, then took charge of the float.

"There's breakfast waiting for you in the dining room. You can tell us all about the trip then," Lisa said, putting one arm around Dianne's waist, and gathering her grandson in with the other.

"Sounds great, Grandma P.," Scott replied with a grin. "And, Mom? I think an oak veneer over a nice strong cahelium door would work, don't you?"

"You may have something there, Scott." Dianne nodded slowly. She straightened a bit. "I'm looking forward to what design Jim Kennedy proposes for the new house."

"Too bad Heather was out at the testing grounds. I would have liked to see her again." Scott's tone was slightly wistful.

"Well, first you eat," Lisa insisted as they entered the dining room, where most of the family -- including Brains and Tin-Tin - was already gathered. "Then we can talk."

Posted by Tikatu on September 26, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #376 is a reply to message #375] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Sunday, September 30, 2068, 2 p.m., Tracy Island

With nothing better to do, Gordon headed outside. He didn't have any particular destination in mind, he was just walking. His wandering brought him to the basketball court where Alan was practicing shots from the free throw line.

He stood quietly watching as his brother lined up the throw. Aiming carefully, Alan sent the ball through the air toward the basket. The ball hit the rim and bounced off, heading to the side of the court that Gordon was standing on.

"Hey, Alan, the ball is supposed to go into the net," Gordon said lightly.

Alan looked at his brother in surprise. "When did you show up?" he asked as he bent down to retrieve the ball.

"Just now. Been here long enough to see you miss that shot," Gordon commented.

"Think fast," Alan said, tossing the ball in Gordon's direction.

Reacting quickly, Gordon caught the ball. "Game of one-on-one? Full court, first person to twenty-one wins."

"Sure. It'll be my last chance to play for a month. I'll even let you start with the ball."

"Thanks, but I'm not going to need that consideration in order to beat you," Gordon told him, as he dribbled the ball toward center court. Alan shadowed him.

Not long after that, Gordon had his first basket. Alan took control of the ball and headed toward the other basket. Gordon kept with him and, when Alan went to take a shot, Gordon was able to knock the ball out of the air. Both brothers ran to recover the ball, Gordon getting to it first.

"Told you I didn't need to start to beat you," Gordon told him as he made another basket.

"It's still early," Alan replied as he started dribbling the ball down court.

When the game ended, the score was 21-18 in favor of Gordon. Worn out, the two brothers collapsed on the sidelines. "Hey, Alan, did I tell you about the website I found about International Rescue?"

"No, you didn't."

"Man, it's a hoot. The title of the page is 'International Rescue, Our Tyrikalican Brethren'. Can you believe it? They gave us names and everything."

"And let me guess, you just had to go and add some information of your own."

Gordon shrugged. "You'll have to check out the site yourself to figure that out," he told his little brother.

"I may just do that," Alan told him. "Rematch?" he asked.

"You're going to lose again," Gordon told him, getting to his feet.

"We'll see," Alan said, following Gordon to center court, ball in hand.

--one-on-one by starrynebula on September 27, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #377 is a reply to message #376] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Monday, 1 October 2068, 2:35am, Tracy Island

Nikki yawned as she carried her mug of hot chocolate into her living room and sat down in one of the seats. She looked at the clock.

"2:35. I should be in dreamland."

No matter what Nikki did, she just couldn't get to sleep. She had tried watching TV and reading magazines and books, but nothing worked. Giving up, Nikki had previously relaxed in a lavender scented bath and was now curled up in her armchair.

Thoughts of events that had happened during the day ran though Nikki's mind.

Thunderbird Seven. I can't believe I actually went down there. I didn't think I could actually do it.



"Are you sure you want to do this?" Alan asked as the monorail began to move.

"You've asked me that three times now." Nikki smiled. "I've been putting this off for ages. I want to move on completely from the accident and I think this will help."

Alan placed his hand on top of hers and squeezed it slightly.

Nikki was glad that she called him. She didn't know what she would do without his support. The monorail soon came to a stop and the door opened. She took a deep breath and made to stand, only to find that her legs wouldn't respond.

"We can go back, you know. You don't have to do this."

"I want to. I can do this." Nikki, with a determined look, stood up along with Alan and approached the door. Hand in hand, slowly, they both walked towards the pod vehicle repair bay.

Alan hesitated before turning on the lights to reveal the stricken ambulance. "Are you ready?"

Nikki nodded. "Ready as I'll ever be."

It didn't take long for the area to be illuminated. Alan felt the grip on his hand tighten a bit as they got closer to Thunderbird Seven.

They were only a metre away when Nikki stopped walking. "I...I ca..."

"We can go back if you want to. We don't have to look inside."

Nikki silently nodded before the young friends silently made their way back to the monorail.

End Flashback


I didn't need to look inside. I've already got what the cockpit looked like etched in my mind, from when the accident took place. She shook her head. No. Empty my mind. That's what I have to do to get some sleep.

Nikki tried her best, but fresh thoughts purged their way through. Thoughts of home, family and friends.

I wonder how everyone at the hospital is. I wonder if they all still work there. I must write or call them sometime. Nikki looked at the clock again and worked out the time difference. She smiled. No time like the present. I'll check if anyone is online.

Nikki walked to her desk and turned on her computer. When it was ready, she opened up her internet messenger box. As soon as the box came up, she noticed her younger brother went offline.

Doesn't matter. Didn't want you anyway. Nikki smiled when Evie, a workmate from the hospital, signed on and started an online conversation with her.

Evie, Eve said: "Nikki, Nik. What am I going to do with you? What happened to keeping in touch more often?"

Nicole said: "And hello to you, too. How are you, Hun?"

Evie, Eve said: "Don't change the subject, missy."

Nicole said: "I've just been busy with work and everything."

Evie, Eve said: "Sure you are. Oh well, you're online now so that's something. As to your question, I'm great, I'm glowing, I'm pregnant."

Nikki paused and silently berated herself for not keeping in touch more often.

Nicole said: "Congratulations. How far are you? Who's the father? Is he good looking? Have I met him yet?"

Evie, Eve said: "Thanks Nik. I'm six weeks along. Yes, the father is good looking and, yes, you have met him. In fact, you worked with him."

Realisation dawned on Nikki. She remembered Evie telling her during her birthday that she was getting close to Danny, another nurse from the hospital and friend of both.

Nicole said: "It's Danny, isn't it? I knew you were getting close, but I didn't know you were that close. Well, Hun, I'm happy for you both. Tell Danny I said congratulations and give him a hug and kiss from me."

Evie, Eve said: "Sure I will."

Evie, Eve said:"Oh shoot. I've just seen the time. I've got to meet my mum. She insists that we start baby shopping now. You'd think this was her first grandchild."

Nicole said: "It's your first child, so her being fussy is understandable."

Evie, Eve said: "Take her side why don't you. I'm going to love you and leave you. I'll ttys. Take care, Nikki."

Nicole said: "You too. Say hi to everyone at work for me."

Evie, Eve said: "Ok. Bye."

Nicole said: "Bye."

Nikki yawned again, before logging off and shutting down her computer. She finished the rest of her hot chocolate, washed the mug and put it to dry on the rack.

I better try to get some sleep again, she thought as she walked to her bedroom. If sleep doesn't come, then I'll try jogging along the beach. Nikki laid down on her bed. Please let me get some sleep.

Posted by Nikki on September 27, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #378 is a reply to message #377] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Monday, October 1, 2068, 3:30 p.m., Thunderbird Three

"Thunderbird Five from Thunderbird Three." Alan touched his earpiece. It's nice to be hands-free, even on Thunderbird Three, he thought as his hands moved over the command console.

He turned his attention to the lift, where John was making an appearance, a mug of coffee in each hand. "Here," the older blond said, giving the pilot one. "You'll need the energy for unloading."

"Thanks," Alan replied, taking a cautious sip of the drink from the spill-proof travel mug. "Should be hearing from Callie right about... now."

In the space station, Callie smiled when she heard Alan's voice. "Thunderbird Three from Thunderbird Five, reading you strength five. Ready for docking?"

"Ready, willing and able," Alan replied, smiling. "Let's get this show on the road!"

He put his mug down, and began to fire the positioning rockets that would bring Thunderbird Three's sleek nose into line with Thunderbird Five's docking bay.

His hands moved expertly across the controls; his eyes watched the targeting screen that mutely told him if he was lined up properly. A quick glance at the speed indicators showed him how fast he was moving, and he cut out the rear thrusters. The ship began to slow, though the lack of friction would keep it moving even without propulsion at the rear.

The opening of the docking bay grew nearer, and he applied a brief burst from the front thrusters to slow the ship even more. "Docking in five... four... three... two... one."

A mechanical voice declared, "Docking complete," and lights across the control board flashed green.

"Thunderbird Three from Thunderbird Five, confirming completion. Opening airlock now. I'll meet you guys in a moment."

After pressing another button, Callie took the elevator down to the lower level, where the airlock door was opening. "Hey, guys. Welcome back."

"Hey, Callie!" John strode through the airlock first, coffee in hand, while Alan followed, his garment bag draped over one shoulder, a laptop case over the other, and a overstuffed gym bag in one hand.

John took a sip of his coffee, then wrapped an arm around Callie's shoulder to give her a squeeze. "How's it been up here?"

"For the most part, everything's been fine." She had no intention of bringing up the nightmare from the week before. "Had the usual flagging calls; Alabama's doing well in the standings, just the usual happenings."

Alan's face wrinkled into a puzzled frown. "Alabama? Standings?"

John laughed, and smacked Alan lightly on the shoulder. "Don't tell me you don't know! Callie's one of the most rabid college sports fans I've ever met. We had a little bet on during the basketball season." He turned back to Callie and gave her a wink. "Guess this means you're football fan, too, huh?"

"Let me put it this way, John," said Callie with a smirk. "When it's college football season in the South, it's not a sport. It's a religion!"

Alan shrugged. "They love football that much?"

"Oh, just wait until next month, when Alabama and Auburn go at each other. The state's divided in two that day."

Alan shook his head. "I knew major league football could get hairy, but not college."

"You haven't been to a Yale versus Harvard game," John told him. "The campus gets worked up into a positive frenzy!" He stopped to think for a moment, then a sly grin crossed his face. "Hm. I wonder if Scott would like to put a little wager on that game this year."

"Well, while you're working that out, I'm going to put my stuff in my cabin and start unloading," Alan said, a touch of exasperation in his voice. "You coming, Callie?"

"Yeah, all right, Alan," said Callie. "Come on, John, let's get going while His Royal Highness gets his stuff stuffed away."

As John and Callie started unloading supplies, she asked, "How are Doc and the others doing?"

"They're doing okay, I think," John said, manhandling a cryofreeze cooler full of prepared meals out into the docking bay. "Mom is still seeing Anna; I understand she should be okay for full duty soon."

"Nikki and Dom were both on that panda rescue," Alan said as he joined them. "I guess they're getting over things, too. The real test will be when we bring Seven back online."

"Dad's hired a new mechanic, and a firefighter, to add to the crew," John added. He looked at Callie, a light frown on his face. "You did hear about Kat leaving, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I did." She let out a sad sigh. "I honestly thought things would've worked out between you and Kat. I thought I knew her, but apparently not. She was a good mechanic."

"Uh, yeah." John's face went red with embarrassment. "She was a good mechanic." He drew in a big breath and let it out in a sigh. "But... there was really nothing but friendship between us... at least, that's what it was on my end."

"I'm just sorry she couldn't--" Callie turned and noticed John's face. "Are you all right?"

Alan grinned as John cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'm okay, Callie; thanks for asking." He secured the cooler to the float they'd brought. "Let's just get this food put away, okay?"

"Okay," Callie said with a shrug, obviously not wanting to know all the details.

With that, the three astronauts pushed the float through to the galley, and began to unload the meals Kyrano had prepared for Alan's month as space monitor.

--changing of the guard by TracyFan4Ever and Tikatu on October 2, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #379 is a reply to message #378] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday, October 2, 2068, 10 a.m., Tracy Island

Once again, Cassie found herself coming off of Tracy One and onto the tropical island that was now her home. A small group was waiting at the air strip for them. Cassie was glad to see Luke among them. She felt herself smile despite the nervousness and fear she was feeling at the prospect of being truly out on her own for the first time.

"I'll start getting your things from the cargo hold," Virgil told her, coming off the plane behind her.

"Thank-you," Cassie replied as she walked forward toward Mr. Tracy, Gordon, and Luke.

"Welcome to your new home, Cassie," Jeff said, stepping forward and shaking hands with Cassie.

"Thank-you, sir," Cassie replied.

"Welcome, back," Gordon said, cheerfully holding out his hand. Cassie hesitated taking it, meeting Gordon's gaze easily.

"I'd be happy to shake your hand after you remove the joy buzzer," she told him, a hint of a smile on her face.

"How did you know?" Gordon asked turning his palm so everyone could see the small buzzer. Luke laughed while Jeff wore an amused expression.

"You've got to be more creative than that to trick me. I've played quite a few tricks on people myself," Cassie told him, shaking his hand now that he had removed the device.

Gordon's cheerful expression returned. "You and I could have some fun together," he commented. Cassie laughed.

"Before this turns into a planning session," Jeff commented, looking at his son, "there are few things I wanted to go over with Cassie."His gaze turning from Gordon to Cassie. "I won't bombard you with too many work details today. I think you need some time to settle in first. I do, however, want to give you this," he said nodding to Gordon who was standing beside him. Gordon handed her a small box and a phone. "It's a wrist communicator. We use them to communicate with one another both here on the island. The satellite phone will allow you to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Gordon and Luke will help you get settled in. I've honored your request and put you in the two bedroom apartment next to Luke."

"Thank-you sir," Cassie replied. Over Mr. Tracy's shoulder she saw Luke grinning at her. She maintained a calm, professional manner.

"If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of my sons or myself. We'll meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss your training schedule. That will give you some time to get settled in."

"Okay, sir."

"Welcome aboard, Cassie," Jeff told her.

"Thank-you sir," she replied.

As Jeff turned to leave, he turned to Gordon. "No getting her into trouble on her first day here," he told him. Gordon gave his father an innocent 'who me?' look and Jeff smiled, heading to the golf cart he had brought down.

Virgil, Elise, Gordon, and Luke all helped Cassie get her stuff up to her assigned apartment. Virgil and Elise wandered off together once everything was in the apartment. After going over the basics of the phone and wrist communicator, Gordon excused himself, leaving the two friends together.

"The apartments look even bigger when they're empty," Cassie commented, glancing around the living area of the room. Spotting the doors leading onto the balcony, she walked over to them. "A little fresh air will do this place good," she said as she opened them.

"Are you hungry?" Luke asked. "I could walk over to my place, make us some sandwiches. After we eat, I'll help you get settled in."

"Sandwiches sound good. While you're doing that, I'll start making this place feel more like home," she told him.

Luke left the apartment and Cassie surveyed the bags and boxes containing the things she had brought with her. Deciding to start with the bedroom, she picked up the garment bag and draped it over her arm. She had two bags containing some clothes toiletries and linens. She slung one of them over her shoulder, picked up picked up her pillow in one hand and the other bag in the other, and headed for the bedroom in the back of the apartment. She placed the bags on the floor by the door, dropping the pillow on top. Still holding the garment bag, she walked over to the closet. She took out her gi, and hung it up, then zipped the bag, which still held her kimono, and hung that up too.

After opening the doors to the balcony, Cassie made the bed. Next, she moved to the bathroom and unpacked her bag with toiletries so she wouldn't have to go digging through the bag when she needed them.

"I'm back," she heard Luke call out.

"Coming," she called back, setting the bath towel, couple of hand towels, and wash cloths she had brought with her on the side of the sink.

She exited the bathroom through the second bedroom so she could open up doors and air it out too. Luke had placed a plate of sandwiches and a couple of sodas on the table near the kitchen area of the apartment. The two friends sat down at the table and made some small talk while enjoying the simple meal.

Posted by starrynebula on October 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #380 is a reply to message #379] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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"So what's next?" Luke asked.

"I guess finish unpacking and get the pictures I brought with me up on the walls."

"Do you plan on painting?" Luke asked, thinking the pictures should wait if that was the case.

Cassie paused briefly, considering it. "I'll probably paint the bedroom," she replied, "but I think I'll leave out here white. That way whatever I decided to do for curtains and rugs will be okay. Besides, I've gotten used to white walls as the superintendent of the apartment building I lived in refused to let anyone paint the walls. He felt that basic white was something no one could really have an issue with."

"Well, that explains while all the walls in your apartment were white," Luke commented. "Here I thought it was just a lack in taste," he quipped.

"Very funny," Cassie said, swatting him on the arm. "I think most of the pictures are in that box," she said, pointing to the smaller of the two boxes sitting in the middle of the floor.

As Luke retrieved the box and brought it back to the table to open it, Cassie unzipped a new grey duffle bag. She had bought it at the airport to pack the things her family had given her as going away presents. Reaching in, she took out a tissue paper-wrapped picture. Her mother had given it to her and it was a copy of the family portrait they had done four years ago at Christmas time. Having the portrait taken had been a Christmas present from her dad to her mom and it had always hung above the fireplace at her parents' place. She had been touched that her Mom had gotten one made up for her to take with her.

Picture in hand, she walked over to stand beside Luke, who had opened the box. "This is definitely not a picture," he commented, holding up the fire hat that had been given to her at the farewell party.

"No, but it fit in the box with them and I didn't want to risk it getting lost if I shipped it with the other things," Cassie told him, as Luke sat the helmet on the table.

He took a few pictures out, removing them from the tissue paper they had been wrapped in. Unwrapping one he paused looking at it for a few moments. Cassie looked to see which picture it was and realized it was the one taken out in California. "Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?" she asked.

"It sure does. Looks like the glass got cracked on the trip here," Luke said placing the picture on the table as he continued to remove pictures.

"Actually it was broke before I left New York," Cassie told him, reaching into the box for the last picture. "It got left at the apartment when I first moved out and when Alex finally gave it to me, the glass was cracked. I figured he did it on purpose."

"Yeah, I got the feeling when I visited that he didn't particularly like me."

"More like he was jealous of you," Cassie said, reaching in the box to retrieve the packages of picture hangers with adhesive backs. "He didn't like that we were such good friends and I think he was always worried there was something more going on between us. I don't think he ever quite believed me when I told him you would find Mark more attractive than me."

Luke shook his head at the thought. "How do you plan on hanging these up?" Cassie held up the picture hangers. "Let me guess, your superintendent didn't like holes in the wall, either," he commented.

"Exactly," Cassie told him. "I think I'll hang the pictures on that wall," she said, nodding toward the outside wall of the one bedroom, across from the entrance to the apartment.

They started hanging up the various pictures, eight in all. "So, what's that brother of yours up to anyway?" Luke asked as they worked, having met Mark when visiting Cassie in New York.

"Why? Interested?" Cassie asked slyly.

Luke rolled his eyes. "You've been trying to set us up for the last couple of years."

Cassie shrugged her shoulders. "Can't blame a girl for wanting her brother to be with a good man now, can you?" she commented, glancing over at Luke in time to see a slight blush creep onto his cheeks. "Seriously though, he's doing good. Still with the force. He's been talking about taking the test to make sergeant. Possibly trying to become a detective in a few years. He's also started teaching karate to a group of eight-year-olds at the youth club. Loves doing it and Uncle Satoyuki, he's the uncle that started teaching both Mark and me karate, was ecstatic when he found out. I think he's just glad one of us took a serious interest in it."

"Sounds like he's keeping himself busy," Luke commented.

"Yeah, and secretly he's probably glad to have me out of his apartment so he can bring his dates home with him more often. He brought a few of them home to meet me when I first moved in but then he stopped. Claimed I asked too many questions. I was only trying to be a good big sister."

"The overprotective big sister, you mean," Luke commented, putting the last picture on the wall.

The two stepped back and looked at the wall. "Makes the place look more like home already," Cassie commented. She glanced toward the two bags and box left on the floor. Walking over to them, she picked up the other box and headed toward the kitchen with it. Luke followed her.

"I think you need more bubble wrap there," Luke said jokingly as he watched her unwrap one of the items from the box.

"I didn't want to risk them getting broken," she told him as she sat the tea caddy she had unwrapped on the counter. "These were all my grandmother's. This tea caddy," she said, nodding toward the item on the counter, "and the other equipment for the tea ceremony she got when she turned eighteen. The tea cups for everyday use were made by her father as a gift for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. My mom passed them on to me when I turned twenty-one."

"Guess I can understand the overkill on the bubble wrap then," Luke commented as he carefully took another item out of the box and started unwrapping it. "Planning on hosting a tea ceremony here?"

"I hadn't really thought about it," Cassie told him as they continued to unpack the box. "I guess maybe if there is interest I would do one," she said, thinking of the questions Virgil had already asked about her Japanese heritage. He might be interested in it. Some of the others may be too, she thought. "Plan on coming if I do?"

"Do I have to wear a kimono?"

Cassie laughed. "No, it's not required for guests unless it's a really formal ceremony."

"Then count me in. I just refuse to wear a dress."

"It's not a dress."

"Close enough for me," Luke told her. "Oh wow! That's beautiful. Is this one of the ones your great-grandfather made?" Luke asked as he held a handless red tea cup in his hand. He turned it slowly and saw that there were four different Japanese characters written on it.

"Yes. The characters on it are: wa, kei, sei, and jaku - harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility."

"That's a nice sentiment," Luke commented, sitting the cup on the counter next to the other items from the box.

The conversation moved onto other things as they continued to work. Cassie put the things away in the cupboards while Luke gathered up the bubble wrap and tissue paper into the two cardboard boxes for disposal. The fire helmet still sat on the table.

Luke picked up the helmet and walked over to the electronics center, placing it up on top. "How does that look for now?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at Cassie who was standing near the table. "You could always move it when you get some shelves and things in here."

"Looks fine for now," Cassie said with a nod. "That reminds me though, I need to talk to Mr. Tracy about when someone can take me shopping so I can pick up some things. Other than the vanity I've had since I was sixteen, I let Alex keep all the furniture and electronics when I moved out. I wasn't sure how long I'd be with living with Mark and arguing over who got what would have just drawn out the process."

"Yeah, just mention it to him. I'm sure he can find a way to get you into Christchurch before too long," Luke told her. "Which reminds me, want to come see the things Nikki and Elise helped me pick out to decorate my apartment with? Unlike you, I couldn't stand the white walls!"

"Sure! Lead away," Cassie replied, interested to see what colors he had ended up with.

Posted by starrynebula on October 3, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #381 is a reply to message #380] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Tuesday October 2nd, 2068, 11pm, New York City. (Morning on October 3rd, Tracy Island.)

Tom Hawkins sat at the small desk near his hotel room's window, staring at his laptop in the dark. From the corner of his eye he could see the bright windows of the other high-rise buildings along the busy New York City street. He had a word processing program open, but the document was blank. Twenty-one: the number of days since International Rescue's last appearance. There was only so much rehashing and reiterating that he could do. I need fresh dirt, and fast. But...what?

The blond had traveled up to New York two weeks before for a conference on the ethics of International Rescue and their work. As the world's latest rising anti-IR star, Tom had been on the guest list, and ended up speaking to all present about the immorality of the whole institution of secrecy and selfishness. He had been a hit. He had enjoyed the trip so much he had stayed on in New York to write articles for several magazines interested in the aftermath of the conference. Now the media attention had dropped to near zero, and he had nothing to write about to bring it back up again. I've been keeping tabs on all possible disaster situations, but nothing. What I need is a juicy story. What I need is for International Rescue to make a critical error -- or maybe even just not turn up. Then I could get another angle: 'IR Only Rescues Certain Citizens'. Yeah. That'd be great...

He continued to ponder late into the night, coming up with only empty rhetoric and old news.

Posted by ArtisticRainey on October 7, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #382 is a reply to message #381] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Wednesday, October 3, 2068, 1:50 p.m., Tracy Island

Cassie looked out the window as the monorail made its way up to the Villa. Though it was almost two o 'clock in the afternoon, it didn't seem that way to her. I can't believe I slept until eleven this morning, she thought. Makes me feel like I missed half of the day.

The monorail came to a stop and Cassie got out. She made her way upstairs to Mr. Tracy's study. Reaching it, she knocked on the door. Hearing Mr. Tracy's call to, "Come in", she walked into the room. "Good Afternoon, Mr. Tracy."

"Good afternoon, Cassie," Jeff replied, standing. With a smile, he motioned to the round table before him. There was a neat stack of data pads, and a small stack of papers beside it. "Have a seat."

Cassie sat down, feeling slightly nervous. She remembered feeling this way when she started as a paramedic. Must be new job jitters, she mused. "So, I guess this is where I start signing my life away," she quipped, trying to make herself feel at ease if nothing else.

Jeff chuckled. "To some extent, yes," he said. "Let's start with the easy stuff first. This is a contract to cover your duties with Tracy Industries. Please make sure all the information on it is correct. We don't want to deposit your money into someone else's account."

He handed over one of the data pads, and a stylus. "An electronic signature is fine."

Cassie read over the document. Not seeing anything amiss , she signed it and handed it back to him.

"Thank you." Jeff put it aside, and picked up another pad. "This is a non-disclosure form regarding your work with International Rescue. Though we are a secret organization, we do have penalties for willfully disclosing our secrets." He shifted in his seat, a bit uncomfortable. "We've never had to use them, and I hope to God we never do." With that ominous remark, he handed over the second data pad.

Cassie took it from him , feeling a little more uneasy at her new employer's latest remark. She read the document carefully. He's serious about protecting International Rescue and those involved in it, she thought as she read through the possible penalties. Though seeing as his wife and sons are all involved, I guess it's to be expected.

As she didn't see anything unreasonable in the document she signed it too and handed the data pad back to him.

Jeff laid it on top of the first she'd signed. "All right. Thank you." Picking up a third pad, he handed it to her. "That's a sort of 'rental agreement'. It concerns the Cliff House apartment you're living in. It gives a list of the furnishings, what we expect as far as treating your neighbors right, what you can and can't do as far as alterations are concerned, all that sort of thing."

He shrugged. "I didn't think it was necessary, seeing that no one can leave with any furnishings, but my legal team thought it was wise to put some of these things in writing."

Cassie smiled at his comment. "I'm sure it's no worse than the rental agreements I've signed for the landlords in New York," she told him.

She quickly read over the rental agreement. As she expected, it was very similar to those she had previously signed. Having signed it, she passed it back to him. "My last landlord would have probably considered you crazy for not being more thorough. His rental agreements are probably about twice as long."

He chuckled again. "That's New York for you. It's the reason I have my own place there when I have to see to company business." He picked up the last data pad, but didn't hand it over. "I'd like to go over some of the skills you have so we can figure out what things we still need to teach you, and what you could use refresher or advanced training in. I remember that you don't have a pilot's license, so learning to fly will be one of your first classes. Can you use a parachute?"

"I've done it before, but could definitely use a refresher course. After helping out in California with the wildfires, I got interested in learning more about how they work and how to fight them. I decided to spend some vacation time the following year going through one of their schools out there so I got some training as a smoke jumper. I never used it after the class though."

"All right. Then refresher on that. How about fire arms? Have you ever used a gun? If so, what kind? Handgun or rifle?"

"Handgun only. My brother taught me how to shoot the Creighton he uses for work."

"A Creighton, huh? Our London agent, Lady Penelope, will be pleased; her family started Creighton Firearms Manufacturing." He tapped a spot on the data pad. "I'll let Gordon test you and decide what level of training or refresher you'll need, and start your rifle training." He read the list again. "How's your swimming? Can you scuba?"

"Well you can tell her that the NYPD is very happy with the gun," Cassie replied. "As for scuba, I don't know anything about it. I'm a good swimmer when it comes to pools or calm waters. Never really swam much in the ocean."

"Ah, good. More work for Gordon, though Brandon will likely be training you to scuba." Jeff tapped a few more spots. "Now, do you know how to rock climb?"

They went through a long list of skills, with Jeff making notes of Cassie's responses throughout. Finally, he sat back a little. "All right. The answers you've given will be worked into a training schedule for your first few weeks here. The schedule should be in your IR email box by tomorrow evening. In the meantime," he picked up a piece of paper, "here's a checklist of some things you'll have to schedule for odd moments. You'll need to see my wife for a physical and implantation of a locator chip, see Tin-Tin so she can take measurements for your uniforms and specialized gear such as heat suits. You'll need to see Brains to have a visor made. Virgil will show you how to use it." He paused and glanced at her. "Each of our operatives has a code name; do you have an idea what you'd like to be called on the field?"

Cassie thought about it for a moment. She had never really had a nickname before as she didn't count her father calling her baby all the time as a nickname. "I think I'd like to use Jade," she finally said, not sure where the name came from but once it was in her head she knew she liked it.

Jeff smiled. "That sounds appropriate. I'll add it to the file."

He handed over the checklist. "You'll find your IR identification here, too. You can use it to access the IR server. The first time you access it, you'll be given instructions on how to use it. We have some quirks built into the system to keep it separate from the Tracy Industries servers." Picking up another piece of paper, he added it to the small pile. "Here are the specifics for your Tracy Industries account. We'll have a picture taken, and a badge made, so that when you do go out on your 'job', you'll be official."

Suddenly, he sighed, and looked sober. "And last, but not least, here is a form for you to fill out dictating your final wishes, and your personal Will." He shook his head. "Another thing we've never had to use, and I hope to God we never have to."

Cassie took the form from him. It wasn't the first time she had seen the form. Though it wasn't a requirement, she had been strongly encouraged to fill out advance directives and a Living will when she had joined FDNY. She had taken the advice, knowing how dangerous the job could be because of her father being with them. Still, the thought of filling it out in front of someone else made her feel strange.

"Could I take this with me, fill it out, and turn it in tomorrow?" she asked, wanting to fill the forms out in the privacy of her apartment later that night.

"Oh!" Jeff looked startled. "Of course! I'm sorry I didn't tell you that. Just let me know when you're ready to turn it in; it'll have to be witnessed, and I can arrange for someone to be here then to do that."

Cassie nodded. "Anything else?" she asked, wanting to make sure he was done before asking him her question about getting someplace to pick up some things.

"Do you have any questions?"

"About business stuff, no not right now," Cassie told him. "However, I was wondering if it would be possible to go somewhere to do some shopping. When I left my husband I didn't much worry about fighting over possessions and let him keep most things. Luckily, the apartment had furnishings to begin with or it would be very empty. I just have a few things that are being shipped."

"Of course." Jeff thought a moment. "My daughter takes an art class in Christchurch on Thursday evenings. You can make arrangements to go with whoever is flying her there, and shop while she's in her class. In fact, I can ask whoever is taking her to leave here a little early so you have plenty of time. Would that do?"

"That'll work fine. Thank-you," Cassie told him.

"All right then. If you have no more questions, we're done here for the moment." He rose, and offered his hand. "If you do have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me, my wife, or one of my adult sons. You're welcome to continue eating with the family until you feel you're finally settled, and take the rest of today and tomorrow to get acclimated. Jet lag can be a bear; I have reason to know!" He paused, and added, smiling widely, "Welcome to the team, Cassie."

"Thank-you, sir," Cassie said, shaking his hand. She was feeling both excited and nervous at the prospect of what the next few weeks would hold for her.

--the little details by on October 9, 2007

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #383 is a reply to message #382] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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11:30:00 p.m. Tuesday October 2, 2068 in Wichita, Kansas (5:30:00 p.m. Wednesday October 3, 2068 on Tracy Island)

Lisa sighed as she headed for her locker. She loved her job, she really did, but some days it got to be too much. Five call outs, the last one an auto accident with two children dead. The mother didn't believe in forcing her kids to stay in the booster seats with their seatbelts on, that was 'too confining'. A 35 mph crash had thrown both kids through the front windshield. Mom wasn't even bruised. "Unfortunately, like the poor, fools will always be with us. I just wish they were the ones to pay the price of their stupidity instead of their children," she muttered to herself. She had the next two days off and planned on relaxing, starting with a long bath.

Dave Kandagaye cornered her on her way out. He'd been keeping an eye on her for the past month. Her work was, as always, excellent; she was considered one of the best paramedics in the state. Not even the very messy divorce she'd gone through last year had made her lose her professionalism. But for the past two months or so, she seemed distracted, as if something were weighing on her mind. He knew about her child custody troubles and wanted to give her some time to come to terms with it. But she wasn't doing any better. He decided it was time to find out if he could help, even if all he could do was listen.

"Lisa? Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure. What's up?"

"Why don't we talk in my office?" Dave opened the door to what he called his favorite broom closet. Lisa raised her eyebrows, but followed him in. He closed the door behind him and sat on the edge of his desk.

"Lisa, for the past month or so, you've seemed distracted. You haven't been joining in with the normal banter around here. Is there anything I can do to help? Is something wrong with the girls? A new custody fight, maybe?"

"Not exactly." Lisa stared at the wall behind him. The divorce had been bitter, but she had done what she had thought best for the kids. She had visitation rights one weekend a month and for three weeks in the summer. But she had not thought to demand the children stay near her and her ex had moved to New York. By the time she saw the kids next, they would have forgotten her. It still hurt, but she couldn't afford a long custody fight. "It might affect them but that's not the main problem." She looked at him and seemed to come to a decision. "Dave, can I tell you something? I don't know what to do and I need to talk to someone about this." At Dave's nod, she began her story. "It was about a week after the tornadoes...


"Ms Simmons?" The two men stepped out from beside the fire station entrance. Both wore dark suits, and had been invisible even with the brightly lighted doorway and path.

"Yes, what do you want?" Lisa already had her car keys out along with the pepper spray. This was a safe area but it never hurt to be prepared.

"It's ok; we just want to talk to you for a minute."

"If you're a reporter wanting to interview me about International Rescue, I have no comment. I've already said all I have to say. They were very worried about her. That's it."

One of the men stepped forward, his hands open and in front of him. "No, we're not reporters. I'm Agent Clark from the World Government. This is my partner, Agent Jenkins." The second man nodded and smiled. "We'd like to talk to you for a couple minutes. How about we go across the street and we'll buy you dinner?" He gestured toward a restaurant frequented by the fire and rescue personnel.

"Let's see some ID first." After checking the IDs of both men, she nodded. "Ok, gentlemen. But I'm very tired and this better be good."

A few minutes later, with a steak in front of her, she turned to the two men. "Ok, what does the World Government want with me? I've already answered questions about International Rescue; I don't know anything more."

"We're not interested in what you know about International Rescue. We're interested in what they might know about you." Lisa kept her expression neutral as she cut up her steak. Clark went on. "IR has added several new people this past year. We've identified at least four new people since February, including two new nurses helping out the new doctor. We don't know how they are choosing people but you fit the profile of someone they might want."

Lisa looked surprised at this. "I'm not anything special."

"Define 'special'. The first reason we think they might be interested is that you are well regarded in your field. Both the emergency room doctors and nurses you work with speak well of your ability to assess a patient quickly and recommend the proper procedure. Your fellow rescue workers talk about your ability to keep a clear head, no matter what. You were also well thought of as an operating room nurse while you were in the military. In short, you would make a great field surgery nurse."

"Number two, you're young. You're thirty-one. Most of the people we have descriptions of seem to be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Three, you currently have no dependents." Lisa winced at that.

Agent Clark continued. "Finally, both 'Van Gogh' and 'Tynan' seemed to like you. Several other of the rescue personnel thought so, at least. We don't know if they will be looking for any new nurses, but if they are, we think they might talk to you."

"And you want me to spy on them for you." Lisa pushed the empty plate away. "Now why would I want to do that?"

Agent Jenkins spoke for the first time. "We don't exactly want you to spy. Just, if they do come calling, let us know who contacted you and how. If you get interviewed, just tell us by who and where it took place. You don't have to take the job, if you don't want. Just tell us what you can. As for why should you want to do this, well, sometimes custody judges can be influenced by public service on the part of one of the parents."

Lisa froze for a minute then asked, "How would I get in touch with you if they do contact me?"

"Write to this address." Agent Clark pushed a small card over to her. She glanced at it and then put it in her pocket. "Use regular mail. Just say you've been contacted and what you did. We'll send someone to talk to you when we're sure you're not being watched. That will be the end of it, and you can do whatever you want after that." Lisa nodded and both men stood up. "Thank you, Ms. Simmons. Don't get up. We'll handle the check as we leave. Order some dessert if you want. Good evening." Both men went to the front of the restaurant as Lisa sat there staring at the table. When the waiter asked her if she wanted anything else, she shook herself and ordered chocolate cake and coffee. She sat there a long time, eating the cake and staring straight ahead at nothing.[/color]


"I went home but I haven't been able to get the whole thing out of my mind," Lisa said, finishing her story. "Could they help me get the girls back? Or at least see them more often? Would I be betraying International Rescue if I told the World Government anything?" She sighed. "I'm almost glad no one ever contacted me, so I didn't have to make that choice. I'd do a lot to get my girls back, but I keep thinking, 'For what would it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul'."

"You think God would be mad at you for passing on information about IR?" Dave looked at her in surprise.

"No. I think I'd be mad at me if I felt I betrayed them. And I can't see it any other way, no matter how much I tell myself it wouldn't hurt anyone." She gave a half smile. "Anyway, it's a moot point. No one ever contacted me. I just haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I'm angry at those two men for putting me in this position. But I'm afraid if I contact International Rescue and tell them about this, I might find it even harder to see my kids. And after the games my ex played this past summer, I don't want to risk it."

Dave regarded her, thoughtfully. Her ex had kept changing the dates of the visits on her, after she'd paid for the airline tickets and arranged for vacation time. She'd finally arranged new visiting dates but, at the last minute, supposedly one of the girls had gotten sick, so the whole visit was canceled. She wouldn't be able to bring them out here until next summer. "Well, I probably would have felt both angry and afraid at the same time. And knowing me, I would have punched both of their lights out. Now that you've gotten it off your chest, do you feel better?"

She laughed. "Yes, I do. Thanks for listening."

"You're welcome. That's why they pay me the big bucks." He stood up from the desk. "Go home, get some sleep. Take the next two days off." He grinned at her; he knew the next two days were her normal off days.

She smiled back. "Such wild extravagance on your part, Dave." She went out the door looking better than she had in the last five weeks.

Dave went and sat at his desk, trying to figure out what to say in a letter to a man he'd never actually met, only seen from a distance a few times.

Posted by SusanMartha on October 9, 2007

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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 20:29]

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Re: Regaining Momentum [message #384 is a reply to message #383] Mon, 23 July 2012 20:29 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
artisticrainey is currently offline  artisticrainey
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Thursday, October 4th, Tracy Island, a little past dawn...

"I said, don't move."

Elise stifled a yawn and glared at Virgil. "Well, maybe if you didn't insist on doing this so early..."

Virgil lightly brushed paint against the canvas in front of him. "It has to be early. The sun is too bright later. Now don't move."

The two were in Kyrano's garden. Elise wore her red dress, and was seated on a bench, a single purple orchid in her hand. Her hair was loose and hung about her shoulders and she looked off to the side. Virgil was dressed in ratty paint clothes, his easel in front of him. He looked from Elise to his canvas, painting quickly but carefully.

After a few minutes of silence, Elise spoke up again. "Am I going to get to see this masterpiece?"

"Maybe, when it's done. And if you sit still," Virgil replied, clamping one brush in his teeth and reaching for another.

"If you talk to all of your subjects like this, it's a wonder they ever pose for you again."

Virgil chuckled. "You aren't much of a morning person, are you?"

Elise stuck her tongue out at him before resuming her pose. Finally Virgil stepped back. He glanced up at the sky and shook his head. "There, that's it for today. We can work again tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Elise stood up and stretched. "How long is this going to take?"

Virgil shrugged. "Until it's done."

She started to walk over to him. "Can I see it?"

Virgil quickly stepped in front of the easel. "No. Not until it's complete. No one sees my stuff until it's done."

Elise raised an eyebrow. "My, aren't we temperamental."

Virgil drew himself up, crossing his hands across his chest and looking down at her. "But of course." They both laughed. "You look really great in that dress," he said, a few moments later.

Elise smoothed the material, not quite looking up at him. "Thank-you. That was a fabulous party. I never had caviar before. Or drank so much champagne."

Virgil made a wry face and groaned. "Don't remind me!"

Elise giggled. "You know, this dress gives me an idea."

Virgil started gathering up his painting supplies. "If it has anything to do with champagne, I don't want to hear it."

"Halloween is in a few weeks. We should have a costume party!"

Virgil looked up. "You know, that's a terrific idea!"

She paced a short stretch of the path. "We could do all kinds of things, bob for apples, a costume contest, maybe even some sort of haunted house!"

"Dancing to spooky songs, lots of weird looking stuff to eat..."

"Exactly! And I think Dominic's birthday is around then, so we could have cake, too! And it will be different from your party, so the younger ones can stay later."

Virgil shut his art case with a snap. "I love it. I'll go see what Dad thinks." They started walking down the path together. "No, instead I'll go talk to Mom. She'll convince Dad."

Elise nodded. "Great! I'll see what I can do about invitations and let the others know."

Posted by lillehafrue on October 10, 2007[/size]

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