International Rescue: The Next Phase

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2039 is a reply to message #2029] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/18/2006 10:12 PM

Thursday, July 26, 2068, noon, local time, Paris (10 p.m., July 26, Tracy Island)

Giles Hightower paced back and forth in his suite, grumbling in a low tone. He rounded on Celeste, who stood at attention. "How much longer is the conference?"

"Today and tomorrow, monsieur," she said promptly.

"I have never known a man so... so... charmed in all my life. You say he's been oblivious to your attempts?" Giles stopped long enough to give her a sharp, scowling look.

"Oui, monsieur. We have not been able to trap him, but he seems unaware that we are trying to do so."

"Well, hopefully our absent-minded professor will remain oblivious," Giles said. He waved a hand in dismissal. "You may try again. But your fee for this caper has already been cut in half. If you cannot detain him today, then it will be cut in half again. And, if you cannot bring him to me at all, then you will not get paid one Euro. And you will find many doors closed to you which were open before." He took hold of her arm before she could leave. "Do you understand me?"

She glanced at his hand, then looked him in the eye. "Oui, monsieur. Je te comprends," she said, a trace of haughtiness in her voice. Giles removed his hand, and she stalked out.

4:30 p.m. (2:30 a.m., Friday, July 27 at Tracy Island)

Lady Penelope was sitting in the lobby of the conference center, dressed in her long, dark wig, and reading a gossip magazine. She was waiting for reports from both Jean-Claude and Parker, both of whom were also incognito. Brains was in a lecture at the moment, and seemed safe enough there. The three agents had been shadowing him since Brains's dinner with Professor Borrender. They were the ones who had found the half-dressed waiter, put two and two together, and called the police. Penelope in particular was relieved to find that her self-appointed charge had managed to confound the machinations of those seeking to capture him. His luck cannot last forever, though, she thought as her eyes glanced about the room behind her dark glasses. I do hope we can discover who is behind this effort.

Parker's voice crackled in her ear. "Milady, Ay fink Ay see the bloke 'oo was at the table the other night. The one 'oo distracted the waiter. He's 'eaded down one of these side hallways."

"Good work, Parker," she said softly, the boom mike of her communicator looking much like the wireless connection to a satellite phone. "Anything else suspicious?"

"No, Milady, not as yet."

"Remain vigilant, Parker. We must keep Brains out of the clutches of... whoever this is."

"Right, Milady."

Jean-Claude came up. He commandeered a chair whose back was to Lady Penelope's chosen seat, but off to one side, so that he was sitting behind her, yet could speak with her. He laid the briefcase he carried on the seat directly behind her so he would be turned in the proper direction.

"Any news?" she asked.

"Oui. It seems that a small group of known mercenaries have been hired by someone who is very interested in our Monsieur Hackenbacker. No one seems to know just who has hired them, but the impression is given that whoever they are, they are English."

"Oh, dear," Penelope murmured. "If they are English, then I may know who is behind this. The problem will be proving it, of course."

"Of course."

In the meantime, the lecture Brains was listening had wrapped up. He had been busy taking notes, and now was going over them as he prepared to leave the hall. The speaker had discussed artificial intelligence, and some new developments in maintaining such an AI once one has been created. I wish Lena could have heard some of this, Brains thought briefly. I think she'd have found it fascinating. I'll want to be sure to pursue a correspondence with this lady; she seems very knowledgeable.

As he left the room, he kept checking the information he had typed into his PDA, fascinated by the discussion and mentally coming up with questions he wanted to ask the speaker, then putting them into his data assistant. As a result, he was walking on autopilot, and when he came to a part of the hallway sectioned off by a velvet rope, he turned from it without thinking and walked down into a less-traveled part of the conference center.

"Milady!" Parker whispered as he saw the scientist heading away from the lobby. "Mr. Brains is walkin' down the 'allway where I saw that bloke go. Shall Ay go after 'im?"

"Yes, Parker, but be discreet," Penelope said. "Watch him and intervene only when there is danger."

"Yes, Milady."

Penelope turned to Jean-Claude. "We may have a problem. Come with me." She got up and went off in the direction that Parker had indicated, and a moment later, Jean-Claude closed up his attaché case and casually followed her.

Near the rope barrier, a half-concealed Celeste signaled to her compatriots through an earbud communicator. "He is coming your way." She got a quick, quiet reply, then stood by to wait. She was not best pleased to see a stout, older man with a prodigious proboscis stride down the hallway, nor was she happy about the brunette who followed, idly primping in her compact mirror. When a businessman with dark, curly hair and an attaché case bustled down the hall, she knew something was up.

"Luc, there are three people heading your way. You must capture him now."

Luc and his companion, the fake waiter from the night before, were counting the seconds. They could hear their mark's footsteps as he came towards them, towards the slightly open door to the stairs where they were pretending to be painters.

When he was close enough, Luc would back out with the ladder in hand, stopping the man while dumping a specially prepared and very slick bucket of paint on the floor. He would slip and slide on it; they would grab their target and "escort" him down the steps to the parking garage, where their van waited. Right now though, all they had to go on was the sound of his approaching footsteps.

The steps quickened, and Luc nodded to his compatriot. They stepped out into the hallway, and knocked the paint on the floor as planned, but, to their great surprise and consternation, it wasn't their mark who slipped on the wet stuff.

" 'Ey! Wot's goin' on 'ere!" the portly man with the big nose said as he fell to the floor, his tweeds getting covered by the white goo. The two false painters glanced at each other, and dropped the ladder with a loud clanking sound, turning to flee.

"Arrêtez-vous!" came a female voice. Luc glanced back to find a pretty brunette leveling a gun at him. He put his hands slowly up in the air, as his friend, who was a bit faster on his feet, made good his escape.

"Monsieur?" The woman addressed a man who had come up beside her. She indicated the fallen Englishman with a nod of her head. "S'il-vous plait?"

The businessman helped the Englishman to his feet, and the young woman advanced on Luc. "Now, monsieur, tell me why you were lying in wait for Monsieur Hackenbacker?"

Back near the lobby, Celeste was stunned to see her mark come walking past her, unharmed and muttering to himself. "I must have left it in the lecture hall," he said, snapping his fingers. He didn't notice her, hurrying off instead toward the room he had just exited.

"What happened here?" she asked herself as she stepped out of concealment to peer down the hallway. She couldn't see what was going on; the hall took a sharp, ninety degree bend. Making sure no one was following her, she stepped quickly down to the corner, and peered around. She was not surprised to see the three people she had watched follow her target talking with Luc.

She was startled to see that the brunette carried a gun. "I had better make myself scarce," she whispered to herself. "I will not be the one to report back to Monsieur Hightower, though. If he wants this man so badly, he can try to catch him on his own!"
Penny smiled slightly as Jean-Claude interrogated the culprit.

She had been both relieved and highly amused to see Brains double back along the corridor, muttering something under his breath, completely oblivious to her presence. She had signaled Parker to keep going, basically impersonating Brains for those lying in wait for him. Now that we have this man, perhaps we can get some confirmation on who is really behind all this.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2041 is a reply to message #2039] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Nikki-browneyes1 Sent: 8/19/2006 6:10 AM

London, England, 26 July, 2068, 5:45 p.m., (Tracy Island, 27 July, 2068, 5:45am)

Nikki sat on the stool in her mother's kitchen watching her mum preparing dinner. She had offered to help, but her mother wouldn't hear any of it.

Sandra beamed. "I'm really glad you came home for your birthday."

"Me too. It was good to see all my friends and of course, my family. I missed you all."

"And here was me thinking that your work and social life would lead into you forgetting all about us."

"Ha, ha, very funny. Like I could ever forget everyone, especially you who gave me life. Err what's your name again?" Nikki joked.

"I'm having second thoughts about cooking this dinner now," Sandra stopped her work and narrowed her eyes playfully before continuing with what she was doing.

"So how's the job going?"

"Same old, same old. You know the story. Go to work, help people, go home," Since she was still nursing while on rescues, she felt that she wasn't really lying to her mother. Nikki rubbed her fingers on her left hand. "Mum, seriously, can I do something to help? I hate not helping out."

Sandra picked up a small knife and a bag of potatoes and placed them in front of her daughter. "You can peel these."

"Alright," As Nikki peeled, she slowly became lost in thought. "Mum, remember Ben?"

"Of course," Sandra looked up to see what Nikki's facial expression was like. After they broke up, she never really spoke about Ben. She looked back down at what she was doing. "Why?"

"I saw him earlier when I went to the shops to pick up a few things for you."

"Oh, right. How is he?"

"He's alright. It was weird seeing him after all this time."

"I'm sure it was."

"He's engaged."

Sandra paused and raised her eyebrows. "Really? He didn't really seem like the type."

"Mum, it's been three years; naturally he's going to change." Nikki sighed. "I miss him a bit, you know. It was so easy to talk to Alan."



"You said Alan."

"I did? Oh, sorry I meant to say Ben," Nikki bit her bottom lip. 'Why did I say Alan?' she thought.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2043 is a reply to message #2041] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/19/2006 9:47 PM

July 26th 2068 8:00 p.m. El Dorado, Kansas / July 27, 2068 1 p.m. Tracy Island

When a very tired Heather finally walked into to her home finally that evening with a fat purse earned from someone who thought he knew how to play poker, she noticed a large parcel sitting on the kitchen table. It was wrapped in white paper and had the gold lettering of a high priced department store called Hadley's. "Hmmm," she mused with a smile. "I know I haven't ordered anything and I don't have a boyfriend who'd be sending me gifts. Aunt Jenny must have brought it inside."

Sitting down at the table, she tore off the white wrapping. The air around the parcel smelled of a rich, warm fragrance. Lifting the lid off of the box, she smiled. Inside the box was a large 10 ounce bottle of her favorite perfume along with a bar of soap, body wash, a bottle of body lotion with the same scent. Included was a gift card. "Dad!" Eager to use the items, she took them to the bathroom and started the shower.

At 8:24 p.m. she walked out in a cloud of fragrance and dressed in a set of silk lounge clothes covered with a simple bathrobe. She sat down in her easy chair and answered the vidphone call with a smile. "This is Heather. Go ahead, Father."

One of the many things Heather liked about James Kennedy was his ability to ignore the normal pace of men's fashion by keeping his hair in a long ponytail. Once, when she asked about it, he said that the general public's idea of an award winning conceptual architect was to dress a bit radically. The sides of his hair were graying, she noticed.

"Hello, sweetheart. How are you doing?" Jim asked with a delighted smile.

"Doing pretty well," she answered with a smile. She always hoped that she could find a man just like him.

"Did you receive a box from Hadley's?"

"Yes! I just love it! It will last me half of forever." Heather laughed.

"Wonderful! I was with your mother in the store and passed by the perfume counter. I hoped you'd like it. She said that was your favorite perfume."

"Yes, it is. Thank you very much, but what's the occasion?"

James looked at her sympathetically as he spoke, "I know that you work every day of your life with men for the most part. You do everything you can to work in their environment, so I wanted to do something that reminded you that you're still a young woman."

"Mom told you about my shooting a rattlesnake, right?"

"Every little detail as quoted from Jenny. Are you all right?" he asked, his forehead wrinkled with concern.

"Oh, I'm fine. Can't say much for the rattler. It was a Western Diamondback rattler and those are rather rare for southern Kansas. I figured it wandered from its normal habitats, looking for dinner. Changing the subject here, Dad, do you know anything about Jeff Tracy? Other than the usual press release stuff?"

Jim scratched his ear as he thought aloud about her question. "Not really, honey. He and I were on the board to save the September 11th memorial. I remember having lunch with him a couple times, and he told me a little bit about his family. Pretty proud of his sons, he was. Why?"

"Hmm. Well, I have an interview with him at his home. I suggested that I fly there myself because I assumed it was somewhere near Topeka. That's what the scuttlebutt is at the testing grounds. He told me that he was a bit further out than that. Do you know where he lives exactly?" she asked, tightening her robe.

"No idea. When we were sitting on the board, he said he had an apartment somewhere in town. That's all I know."

"He said he was going to send two pilots, Scott Tracy and his head engineering assistant, Tin-Tin Kyrano."

"Two pilots and didn't say where you were being taken?"

The way Jim said it made them both pause. "Look, honey, are you sure you want to go through with this? What about the testing grounds? Won't being a personal pilot to Jeff Tracy, when he has several pilots already, be a bit tame for what you're used to?"

Her response caused him to bend over laughing. "Oh, Dad," she groaned. "There're so many younger up-and-coming pilots that I just feel like I'm getting... old..." She had to wait until her father came up for air. "All right, Dad! Give me a break!"

"Ha ha ha!" he gasped. "You're not old enough to feel old! I'd say of all my kids, you're the one who's put the gray in my hair!"

"DAD!" she whined as he rolled his eyes at her.

"Ha ha ha! Baby, you won't know what old is until you have kids of your own. Okay, I'm done teasing you. So, what are you going to do then? Are you going to go through with this?"

Heather sat back in her chair while rubbing her chin. "Yes. I'll go through with this and then let you know what happens after that."

"How long are you going to be gone?" he asked.

"I leave on the 27th and I'm to stay as his guest for the weekend. I'll be back by Monday."

"I see. Okay. I'll be waiting to hear from you," Jim said with seriousness. "Be careful, sweetheart. I love you."

"I love you, too. Goodnight. Give my love to mother," she said before breaking the connection.

As soon as the monitor reverted back to its whole screen of the 24-hour weather channel, Heather went to the kitchen to get herself a glass of milk and a large wedge of pecan pie. Setting them down on the kitchen table, she went to poke around the drawer of silverware to find a fork. It was when she sat down to eat, she became aware of the silence around her. Outside, crickets chirped their mating calls and there was a rumble of thunder in the distance. Other than that, all was quiet out on the prairies. Through the open windows, she could see arcs of lightning flashing across the sky.

--a father-daughter moment from AmandaTracyandFred

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2046 is a reply to message #2043] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/21/2006 12:40 PM

Friday, July 27, 2068, 8:30 a.m., local time, near Wichita, Kansas (1:30 a.m., Saturday, July 28 on Tracy Island)

"So, what do you think she'll be like?" Scott asked Tin-Tin as they drove from the farmhouse to the testing grounds.

"I don't have a clue," Tin-Tin replied, adjusting the scarf that held her hair in place. "Hopefully, she'll be what we need."

They'd gotten in around midnight local time, and had spent the night in the old Tracy farmhouse. The caretaker, Marion, had made sure that everything was ready for them, and had shown up that morning to make breakfast for the pair. Tin-Tin had been quite taken with the old house.

"Yeah, it's been in our family for generations," Scott had told her. "When Mom died, we came out here to live for a while so Grandma could take care of us while Dad worked on building the business. It was good for Grandma, too, as Gramps had died a year or so before Mom of heart failure." He had sighed. "I wish he could have been around, too, but maybe it was for the best that he wasn't. Dad and he often butted heads."

Now they were driving the family's convertible BMW to the air strip, where they would pick up one Heather Kennedy, pilot and candidate for a spot on the International Rescue team... though she didn't know that part just yet.

"I'll do the preflight checks while you look for our passenger," Scott suggested when they arrived at the hangar.

"How do you want to handle seating arrangements?" Tin-Tin asked. "I mean, it's rather rude to make her sit back in the cabin by herself."

"I suppose she could fly shotgun for a while," Scott suggested. "I would like the chance to talk with her. Besides, you did the lion's share of the flying yesterday. Tell you what: you fly co-pilot as far as L.A. and I'll call her up to the flight deck after that and give you a rest."

"Sounds like a plan," Tin-Tin said. "That way she's only alone for an hour or so." She removed the scarf and combed through her hair with her fingers. "I'll go find her now."

Heather was standing in the ready room, an overnight bag and a garment bag at her side. She was dressed in a stylish navy blue skirt suit. As close as I can get to my Navy uniform without wearing it, had been her thought. She looked up as a pretty Asian girl walked in, looking around. As the girl noticed Heather, she held out her hand.

"Heather Kennedy?"

"Yes, that's me." She took the proffered hand and shook it as the girl said, "I'm Tin-Tin Kyrano, and I'm here to take you to Mr. Tracy's home."

"It's nice to meet you," Heather said, smiling.

"And to meet you," Tin-Tin replied. She liked what she saw of the young lady so far. Designer suit, hair in a twist, all neat and professional looking. I think Mr. Tracy will be impressed. I'm sure that Scott will be, too. "Mr. Tracy's son, Scott, is doing the preflights now. Won't you come with me? We can get your baggage stowed and get settled for take off."

"All right," Heather said. Tin-Tin reached down to pick up Heather's garment bag, allowing Heather to take the other case. Together they walked out to the plane.


Heather's eyebrow went up as she saw the young man glance their way. So, that's Scott Tracy, she mused. He certainly looks like his father!

Scott came over to the two women, flashing his famous Tracy smile. Tin-Tin made the introductions. "Scott, this is Heather Kennedy, our passenger for today. Heather, meet Scott Tracy."

Scott offered his hand. "Nice to meet you, Ms. Kennedy." The security photos didn't do her justice, but then, they never do.

"Likewise, Mr. Tracy," she replied, shaking his hand.

He put up a finger, and shook his head. "Ah-ah," he said. "Mr. Tracy is my father. Please call me Scott."

"All right, Scott. Then you can call me Heather."

The introductions made, Scott offered to put Heather's bags in the cargo hold, while Tin-Tin ushered her into the luxurious cabin. "Nice plane," Heather commented. "How fast does she go?"

Tin-Tin laughed. "Tracy One can fly as fast as Mach 2, though we'll probably be keeping our speed around Mach 1.5."

"Ah, I see." Heather tried not to sound disappointed. Now I really wish I'd taken my plane. But... Mach 1.5 for a quick hop to Topeka? That doesn't make any sense. Maybe Dad was right to be concerned! Well, you'll never get it clarified unless you ask. "Uh, forgive me for asking, but isn't Mach 1.5 a little fast for a quick hop to Topeka?"

"We're not going to Topeka," Scott said as he climbed aboard and headed for the cockpit. "Contrary to popular belief, we don't live in Kansas at all anymore. We have a farmhouse here, and stay there when we're in the area, but our real home is in the South Pacific."

"Really?" Heather said, her tone thoughtful -- and hiding how stunned she was at the information. "How fascinating."

"If you'll excuse me, Heather, I'm going to fly co-pilot for Scott until we reach L.A.," Tin-Tin said apologetically. "Then we'll have a stretch, and a quick topping off of the tanks before the longer leg of the journey."

"Oh, sure," Heather said, nodding slightly. "That's fine."

Tin-Tin smiled and nodded, then followed Scott into the cockpit. Heather looked around the luxurious cabin and sighed. She glanced down at her clothes, and shook her head. "I hope I don't look too rumpled when we reach our destination."

In Los Angeles, Heather was a bit surprised to be invited to sit in the cockpit with Scott. "Tin-Tin did a lot of the flying yesterday," he explained as she took the co-pilot's position and slipped the headphones on. "I thought it wise that she take a break and rest on this part of the flight."

"Sounds like a wise precaution," Heather ventured. She paused, then asked, "So, where in the South Pacific do you live? Micronesia? New Zealand? Malaysia? Borneo?"

Scott grinned, and she couldn't help but notice again his resemblance to his father. "None of the above," he said. "We live on an island all our own."

Heather gaped. "You have your own private island?"

He nodded. "Yep. And we value our privacy very highly, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't spread that around. We like to keep people guessing about where we live."

"I... I guess you do," she murmured. There's such a thing as liking your privacy, but that's just ridiculous!

The flight took roughly 6 hours, and during that time, Scott asked her a lot of questions. About her time in the Navy and why she enlisted, about her current job at Tracy Industries and what she liked about it, about her plane... always a topic to open up the floodgates of conversation. She got in a few questions of her own, too, mostly about his father and the family, but when she tried to probe deeper into the privacy question, Scott got cagey, repeating what he'd said before, and mentioning the trouble they had with reporters. She also asked why Jeff was hiring a new personal pilot again so soon, a question that twisted Scott's handsome face into a slight scowl.

"First off, my father's personal pilot, Elise Collins, is still on staff, despite the accident in New Hampshire. The position you've applied for is for a family pilot, someone who can fly my grandma to the store if necessary, or my younger siblings places that they need to go when no one else is available. The, uh, gentleman who had that position before found it to be not to his liking, and quit." Which is perfectly true; Christopher quit before he could be fired.

Heather frowned. "Sounds like a rather boring job," she commented.

Scott smiled, a small, secretive smile. "Believe me," he said. "You'll find the job far, far from boring."

Now they were coming in for a landing. Heather looked down to see the tiny spot of green, a spot that became larger with every circle Scott made. It looks lush, she thought to herself. A butterfly began to wave its wings inside her; she was now moments away from meeting a lifelong hero!

"Sorry you had to come during the winter," Scott was saying nonchalantly. "But our pool is heated, and the temperature can get up to one suitable for sunbathing... if you're into that kind of thing."

"Uh huh," was all that Heather could say.

They were on their final approach. "This is Tracy One, calling Tracy Island. Requesting permission to land."

A deep, rich voice replied, "Permission granted, Tracy One, and welcome home."

Scott brought the plane in for a perfect landing on the short runway, and Heather couldn't help but admire his skill. The butterfly was joined by a couple more as he slowed the plane to a stop under the shadow of a tall cliff. She craned her neck, trying to keep the odd thing that jutted out from the cliff in sight. Is that a... building?

At last, the plane halted, and Scott powered down the engines to a standby mode. "I'll be taking her into the hangar in a few minutes," he explained, motioning toward the metal door that stood before them.

"You put your planes inside there?" she asked, incredulous.

He nodded. "Yeah. The whole island is honeycombed with lava caves and tubes. It's a matter of using what nature provided." Glancing to one side, he said, grinning, "Here comes your welcoming committee. I'd better get your luggage."

Heather took a deep breath as she noticed the little car coming down a steep, switchback trail. Suddenly, she wanted to look her best, and instead of climbing out of the cockpit, as would be her usual exit, she went back into the cabin, and grabbed her purse.

"Just want to freshen up a little," she explained, quite unnecessarily, to Tin-Tin. The Malaysian girl just smiled.

The butterflies were flapping at full force now as the door to the cabin opened and the gangway steps extended. Heather took a deep breath, and stepped out into the shade from the cliffside. Scott was there to guide her down safely.

Another quick adjustment and smoothing of her skirt, and suddenly, the little cart was there, and so was he. Her personal hero (aside from her own father). He stepped out of the cart and came over to where she stood. His smile, his dimples, his blue eyes, the way he carried himself... he was exactly how she had pictured him to be. He extended his hand and said, "I'm Jeff Tracy. Welcome to Tracy Island."

The butterflies vanished with a poof as she took his hand confidently and said, "I'm Heather Kennedy, and may I say, sir, it's an honor to meet you."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2047 is a reply to message #2046] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/21/2006 6:37 PM

Friday, July 27, 2068, 5:30 p.m., local time, Paris (Saturday, July 28, 3:30 a.m., Tracy Island)

Giles Hightower drummed his fingers impatiently on the leather seat of his limousine. He was waiting for his target to leave the hotel, at which point his driver would ease up to the curb and he himself would make Professor Hackenbacker an offer he couldn't really refuse.

He ground his teeth in frustration that, as in the case of Mrs. Matumbo, he had to take a hand in this venture himself. When Celeste and her cronies had failed to bring the Professor to him the evening before, he had been livid. He had called Celeste several times over the course of the evening, until at long last, she answered her phone.

"Where is he?" Giles had asked curtly, trying to keep his rising temper in check.

"I do not have him," Celeste had said haughtily.

"Why not? Don't tell me you and your bungling cohorts can't abduct a single man?" he'd said snidely.

Celeste had scowled. "That 'single man' has the luck of the devil himself," she had told him. "Not only that, but he is under someone's protection."

"Whose?" he has asked sharply.

"I do not know. But if you want Monsieur Hackenbacker, you will have to capture him yourself!" And with that she had abruptly hung up.

"Capture him myself," Giles had muttered. "I should have done this in the first place." He had gone back to his contacts in the airlines and at the hotel, who had told him that Hiram Hackenbacker had an afternoon commercial flight to Baltimore Washington International Airport. Baltimore Washington? Perhaps a visit to Mrs. Matumbo? Or perhaps some other business in that area? No matter. I know when his flight leaves and will be waiting for him to leave the hotel.

And that's why he was there, waiting impatiently for Hackenbacker to show his bespectacled face. He poured himself a glass of chilled wine, and sipped it as he waited.

Finally, the gentleman himself appeared, followed by a porter who carried his luggage. Giles picked up the interior phone and said one word: "Allez." (Go.) The limousine eased out of its space, and began to edge its way up to the curb.

However, the ride came to a wine-spillingly abrupt halt. Giles swore, long and loud, as his drink splattered all over his designer suit. He picked up the phone again and spat, "Quel est le problème?" (What's the problem?)

The driver replied quickly, "Il y a une voiture..." (There is a car....)

Giles glanced out the window and gaped at what he saw. An absurdly pink, custom-built Rolls Royce had pulled up to the curb. A middle-aged man with a formidable proboscis and an understated livery was putting Hackenbacker's luggage into the boot of the car, while Hackenbacker himself climbed in to sit next to a somewhat familiar looking blonde. Giles squinted, then his eyes widened. "Creighton-Ward? What the bloody hell is she doing here?"

It was obvious from what Giles could see of their interaction that the two were old friends, or at least well-acquainted. The chauffeur -- who Giles now recognized as Aloysius Parker, a man he had thought about recruiting - finished putting the luggage into the car, then got in and drove the strange car away from the curb. Giles picked up the phone again. "Conduisez à De Gaulle." (Drive to De Gaulle.) He realized that he had an advantage; he knew where Hackenbacker's flight was departing from. If he could only get there first....

His driver was very good and knew the city better than Lady Penelope's chauffeur did. They arrived at the international departure terminal well before the pink Rolls did. On the way, Giles tried to think up a good plan for waylaying his target. He knew he couldn't use a weapon inside; everyone had to pass through security checkpoints just to enter the terminals nowadays. Actually, when it came down to it, he probably wouldn't be able to approach Hackenbacker at all; Lady Penelope would most likely accompany the scientist to the terminal and would recognize him. No, he had to do something else.

"Pierre," he called to his chauffeur. He had come up with a plan.
FAB-1 pulled up in front of the departure terminal and Parker got out, flagging down a skycap to help with Brains's luggage. Brains and Penelope both got out and entered the terminal.

"It sure was nice of you to bring me to the airport," Brains said, smiling at his companion.

Penelope waved a gloved, perfumed hand. "I assure you, dear boy, it was my pleasure. I wish we could have had more time together here in Paris; I so miss the Tracys these days. But they, and I, are very busy, as were you during this week of seminars. Did you learn of any new technologies that would be of use in the Tracy's family business?"

Brains nodded. "Yes, I believe so. There were several presentations of interest and I plan on following them up by corresponding with the people involved."

There was a lull in the conversation as they passed through the scanners at the security checkpoint. Then, Brains began to expound on some of the interesting things he had learned during the week. Penelope listened, but with only one ear. The other one was intently listening to a message that came through her earring.

" 'E's 'ere, milady. Just as you thought."

She glanced towards Parker for a moment, and nodded briefly. Then she turned her full attention back to Brains, secure in the knowledge that her chauffeur and his accomplice, Jean-Claude, were in full charge of the situation.

"Now," Giles said, in French to his chauffeur, who had changed his livery for a skycap's uniform, borrowed from an unfortunate gentleman who lay senseless in a nearby closet, "you have your instructions. You are to tell Mr. Hackenbacker that there is an urgent phone call for him and offer to guide him to the office where he may take the call. In the meantime, I will distract Lady Penelope's attention." He handed a small plastic vial to the chauffeur. "Wave this beneath his nose, but don't breathe any in yourself. It won't knock him out, but it will daze him enough that we can remove him from the terminal, claiming that he is drunk. Do you understand?"

The chauffeur nodded. Giles looked at his watch. "Very well. I will go in search of Lady Penelope."

He adjusted his tie, and strode out of the alcove where he and his compatriot had been planning. But before he took more than a step or two toward the main concourse, a strong hand closed over his wrist, and as he looked up, a puff of powder hit his face, especially his eyes. He let out a cry, breathing some of the stuff in while trying to rub it out of his eyes. The room began to swim, and he staggered, trying to get away from the two men who had come silently up and had lain in wait for the two men. The last thing Giles saw before he slumped to the ground was the weathered face and cheeky grin of Lady Penelope's chauffeur.

Parker put the cap back on Her Ladyship's lipstick tube, then turned to Jean-Claude, who had wrested the plastic vial from Giles's companion and waved it under the false skycap's nose, just as Giles had instructed. The two of them had stayed just out of sight and had been listening intently to the plan that the Brit had concocted. Now the French chauffeur was staggering, stunned by the contents of the vial, which Jean-Claude promptly stoppered.

" 'And that over 'ere," Parker said, holding out a hand. "Milady will be very interested in the contents o' this."

"Oui, I am sure she will," Jean-Claude agreed, handing the vial to Parker. He eased the now-dazed fake skycap down to sit on the floor, propped against the wall. "What shall we do about these two?"

"Ay fink Milady would have a word about that," Parker said. "Ay'll tell 'er." He raised his wrist to his mouth. "Milady, we've caught the blokes. We're waitin' to know what ye want us t'do wiv 'em."

Lady Penelope heard the message, but couldn't respond. Brains was still going on and on about the conference and it was only when they came to the second security checkpoint, the one for boarding passengers, that she was able to stem the tide.

"It all sounds terribly fascinating, Hiram," she said brightly. "But here we are at the departure checkpoint and sadly we must part. Please give my regards to Lena Matumbo when you see her and to Jeff and Dianne and Tin-Tin when you reach the island, there's a dear."

"Of course, Lady Penelope." Brains replied, smiling. "Thank you again for all you've done."

"You're quite welcome, Brains, quite welcome. Have a good flight, now." She leaned over and gave him a chaste peck on the cheek. "Adieu, my friend."

"Goodbye, Lady Penelope," he replied as he entered the line for the checkpoint. She turned to walk away, waving a little as she did, then once out of Brains's line of vision, she opened her purse and took out her compact. "Parker," she said quietly. "Have Jean-Claude tell the security people where to find our miscreants. Then bring the Rolls around. It's time we went home."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2049 is a reply to message #2047] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Nikki-browneyes1 Sent: 8/23/2006 1:00 PM

London, England, 27 July, 2068, 8:50 p.m., (Tracy Island, 28 July, 2068, 8:50am)

On the afternoon of her birthday, Nikki went out to lunch with her closest friends, and shopping until her money for the day was completely gone. Once the shops began to close, she bid farewell to some of her friends and spent a few hours round house of her closest friend, Emma Taylor. The two spent the time catching up on things that couldn't be discussed around the others and looking over what they bought.

Emma put the last of her new items away. "Now if you excuse me, I've got to get ready."

"For what?" Nikki asked absent minded. She looked up at her companion only to see her staring back at her with a raised eyebrow. It didn't take long for things to click in Nikki's mind. "Oh yeah, your brother's restaurant. I've gotcha now."

"Thank goodness for that. I thought you were losing your mind." Emma grinned. "You know, with getting older and everything."

"Hey!" Nikki paused. "You know I take great pleasure in knowing that you were born before me. So any grey hair growing, would happen to you first. In fact, you may want to check the mirror."

Nikki convened to the living room while Emma showered and changed into something more decent for the occasion. It didn't take long for Emma to get ready and for the two to pile the birthday girl's shopping into the boot. They then headed to Nikki's mother's house so she could get ready herself and to pick up the rest of the family.

Emma pulled her car up on the cul-de-sac street where Nikki was staying for the duration of her birthday holiday, round her mother's house.

Nikki stared out at the street lamp illuminated road. "It's packed tonight. Where did all these cars come from?"

"They could belong to the people who live down here."

"I doubt it. Anyway, it wasn't this packed before I left and it wasn't like this yesterday."

"I guess they all went out today and bought cars," Emma joked, causing Nikki to laugh. "Now come on and get your keys ready; I'm dying to use the loo."

"Hmm, makes me want to take my time in finding these keys."


"Ok, ok. I've got them." The two friends walked up the path towards Nikki's house and opened the door.

Nikki was the first one to walk into the darkened house. Immediately she turned on the lights.

"Surprise!" everyone yelled.

Nikki eyes widened as she shouted, "What the h...?" She was about to run out the door again after nearly jumping out of her skin. The only things stopping her were her realisation of what was going on and Emma blocking her way with a hand on her own hip.

A smile graced Emma's lips before she laughed. The two friends loved to trick each other and Emma just got one up on Nikki. "Another point to me," she whispered as the guests made their way forward and began crowding the nurse to wish her a happy birthday.

Nikki greeted everyone and stopped in front of her mother. "You organised a surprise party?"

"Well, I thought it would be nice. This way you can catch up with everyone before you leave again."

"It was nice. I mean, this is nice. Thanks, Mum." Nikki hugged her mother. She smirked before giving her mother a sly look. "Even though I knew something was going on."

"Oh please," Sandra answered, shaking her head and giving her daughter a light shove in her friend's direction.

Nikki continued to greet the rest of her friends and even recognised some of them as the ones she had spent the afternoon shopping with. Looking at everyone there, she knew she would enjoy every minute of the celebration.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2051 is a reply to message #2049] Sun, 29 July 2012 11:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 8/23/2006 3:00 PM

Friday, July 27; 1:15 PM; BWI Airport (5:15 AM July 28 on Tracy Island)

Lena stood in the waiting area, watching for Brains to come from the arrival gate. When he'd answered her email, requesting the specs to the heads up display, he'd told her about his trip to Paris. She immediately wrote back and suggested that he return to Tracy Island via Maryland and spend a weekend with her, checking out what she'd come up with. He agreed and sent her a revised itinerary a few hours later.

She thought back to last Sunday.

She'd been in her home office trying to work the specs of the heads up display into the security program. She had gotten only so far, and kept running into walls. She finally sat back and closed her eyes. Everyting is becoming a blur. I tink I'd better quit for de day. Dis keeps getting more and more complicated. It's one of de most difficult challenges I've ever had. Good ting I have time to figure it out. Maybe when Brains gets here, I'll be further along.

She'd opened her eyes and looked at the screen once again. "I'm not going to let you defeat me. I'll figure out how to integrate de specs into de program, no matter how long I have to work on it. And I'll get it to work for data as well. But I'm not going to do it today. So," and she reached out to save her work, then shut down her computer, "I'm going to put you out of my mind and enjoy de rest of de weekend."

She'd stood up and stretched, then did her checks of the outlets in the room. As she left, and just before she closed the door, she said, "I've got a murder mystery waiting for me to finish, but I tink I'll make some tea first."

Returning to the present, she checked the board again and saw that the plane had arrived ten minutes previously. She was amused -- but not surprised -- that he hadn't shown up yet. He probably kept checking to see if he'd forgotten anything, or de attendants called him back to get someting he did forget.

She soon saw him pass the security checkpoint area, juggling his cell phone, his laptop and his carry on bag. Chuckling silently to herself, she moved forward to meet him.

"Hiram Hackenbacker, welcome to Maryland."

He looked up when she spoke and, pushing his glasses back up his nose, grinned at her. "Hello, Lena. You look well, much better than the last time I saw you."

She smiled back at him, grabbing his carry on as it slipped from his shoulder, and swinging it onto her own. They hugged, then she turned him in the direction of the baggage claim area. "How was your trip?" she asked as they walked.

"Fine. The conference went well, the plane trips to and from Paris were smooth, and I have a lot of notes to go over."

"I bet you do. Did you eat on the plane?"

"Eat?" Just then they both heard a rumbling noise coming from the general area of his abdomen. He looked slightly embarrassed, then they both laughed.

"I'll take dat as a 'no'," she said. "And since it's past my lunchtime, after we get your bags, we'll stop and have someting to eat before we go to de office."

Brains agreed, and they were soon in her car, heading to Washington D.C. They stopped for lunch at a small cafe type place she knew about. They chatted and she made sure he ate everything he ordered, saying, "You look like you've forgotten to eat a few meals, young man." An hour later they were at Tracy Industries and heading toward her office.

As they stepped off the elevator, they heard a booming voice say, "Mrs. Matumbo."

She rolled her eyes at Brains, then they turned to see a fairly large man heading toward them. "Yes, Mr. Wilson. What can I do for you?"

"I tried to see you over two hours ago, and they said you had gone out for an extended period of time. What do you mean by taking company time for personal business?"

"I went to de airport to pick up-"

"And that's another thing. How many times must I tell you the word is 'the', not 'de'?"

"I find her way of speaking charming," Brains piped up, a defiant look in his eyes.

Mr. Wilson looked startled to find someone else was there. He looked the other man over, dismissing him as someone unworthy of his time, then turned back to Lena. "I must tell you, Mrs. Matumbo, this blatant misuse of company time will not be tolerated. I don't care who the person is you went to see, you should--"

"Mr. Wilson, dis is Hiram Hackenbacker. Hiram, dis is Don Wilson, one of de vice presidents here."

"As for your sudden absences like the one a little over a month ago, I don't think...." There was a pause as her words suddenly registered. "Who?"

"Hiram Hackenbacker."

Wilson turned white, then several shades of red. "You are Hiram Hackenbacker?"

"Yes, I am." Brains's face was solemn, but the look in his eyes showed that he was enjoying Wilson's discomfiture -- a lot.

Wilson looked back at Lena, who nodded at him. He hemmed, hawed and harrumphed, then finally said, "Well then, carry on." Then he turned and walked away, faster than she had ever seen him move.

A moment later, she heard a quiet chuckling and looked at Brains. He said, "I hope there aren't many like him around. How do you put up with him?"

"He's irritating, loud and pompous, but harmless. And he's good at what he does. He isn't around here dat much, fortunately. I avoid him as much as I can when he is. Well, let's get to my office."

They entered the I&M work area, where she introduced him to her staff, telling them that she and "Hiram" would be working in her office, but she would be available to them, if necessary. Five minutes later, she was showing him what she'd come up with so far.

"So the specs for the 'heads up display' was the missing piece of the puzzle."

"Yes. I'm still working on integrating it into the program. I haven't been working on it here, so I put what I've done on a disc, for us to be able to work on it in my office dis afternoon. But I have to say it's one of de most complicated programs I've come across."

"The heads-up display or the security program?"

She glanced at him with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "Yes."

He laughed. "Well, let's see what we can do if we put our heads together."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2053 is a reply to message #2051] Sun, 29 July 2012 12:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 8/24/2006 9:17 PM

[color=orangered]July 28, 2068 11:00 a.m. Tracy Island[/font]

In the cart, Heather was given the seat of honor and as they drove, she tried to look at everything at once. Crashing waves of the sea caused her to look out towards the wide, rolling ocean as Jeff drove them to the compound. The fresh, sea air seemed to revive her from the unexpectedly long trip.

As she settled on looking ahead at the massive bi-level building, she began to chuckle, catching everyone's attention. "Mr. Tracy, you were definitely right."

"I was? Oh good. Right about what?" he asked as they neared the swimming pool.

"Well, you did say that your home was a little further out than Topeka." Heather spoke wryly.

When they stopped, Jeff made a grab for Heather's luggage, but his reach was ill-timed as Scott had beaten him to it. Scott was already into the house with Heather's luggage. Leading the women into the Villa, Jeff issued instructions. "Now, Tin-Tin will lead you to the guest room. I'll leave it up to you if you'd like to have your interview now or after you rest? I know that you have to be a bit tired with jet lag and the length of the trip."

"Let's take care of business first."

"To business it is. Soon as you're settled, meet me in my office," agreed Jeff, pleased with her choice.

A few minutes later, Tin-Tin led her into lounge, whispering to the possible new recruit, "Don't worry. He won't bite!" The Malaysian girl's words had Heather laughing as she sat down across from Jeff and next to Scott.

"I heard that!" Jeff groused good naturedly. "Okay. Now to business. I have to say I'm very impressed with your credentials, Miss Kennedy. Tell me something about some of the aircraft you've flown."

"I have flown short Stealths. You probably know them as the miniatures of the old Stealth bombers. I've had several hours piloting the Dogstar, which has a vertical takeoff ability. I've landed that on the aircraft carrier the Nimitz IV. I've flown a couple of early 20th century Hueys and I was accepted to fly Blue Angel number 5 on the demonstration acrobatic flight team."

"The F/A 25 Hornet?" asked Scott with delight.

Warming to her subject, Heather nodded. "That is a lovely jet aircraft. If you were going to dogfight with a craft like that, it would make for an elegant dance. Its maneuverability is wonderful!"

"And you've been testing out our new planes at the plant as well. How's the latest model on the X-Star III?"

"It's coming along beautifully, Mr. Tracy. All they need to do is adjust the weight on the left wing struts and she should be good to go. She's fuel efficient, too."

Shifting the papers, Jeff studied them for a moment before asking her, "You have your own private jet housed on the training grounds. A Jet Star?"

"Yes, I do," she responded.

"And you use this for making emergency flights?"

"Yes. I modified the plane to be able to carry any kind of donor tissue. All the paramedics have to do is slide the box into a special harness and if needed, there's a separate generator for power to keep the boxes cold. After that, I get into the air and get to the hospital."

"How did you come up with the idea?" Jeff asked, wondering if she got the idea from the news stories about International Rescue.

"The idea came from when I was getting my flying lesson in Virginia and my teacher had a seizure in the air. I took him directly to the nearest airport where they had a medical team waiting. I happened to overhear someone on the team remark to his buddy that they could use something like a volunteer organ donor pilot. So, when I got out of the Navy and ended up working as a test pilot for Tracy Industries, I talked Dad into helping me finance the Jet Star, and then set it up for donor flights and anything else they might need me for."

"That's the how. Now why did you set this up?"

"Once I made a delivery to a hospital. It was a kidney and the mother of the young man that it was going to insisted on talking to me. She gave me the biggest hug, soaking my shirt with her tears. That's why."

"How many babies are named after you?" asked Scott suddenly.
Laughing, Heather raised up one finger.

"Okay, now tell me something about your family," encouraged Jeff, genuinely interested.

"My parents are James and Martha Kennedy. Dad's an architect in Virginia. He sat on the board with you for saving the September 11 memorial."

"Jim is your father? Wears a ponytail?" inquired Jeff.

"That's Dad," said Heather.

"Good man. And your mother?"

"She's very active in high society. I also have a brother, Donald, and a sister, Amy."

"Do you have a significant other? Boyfriend? Husband?"

"No, sir. I've never had the time."

"What do you do for fun?" Jeff's question caused her to smile.
"Shop on eBay, and I play a mean game of poker."

Jeff looked directly into her eyes and she didn't flinch an inch. "Maybe if there's time, I'll set up a game. I think that's all the questions I have for right now. Is there anything you'd like to ask me before we conclude?"

"Yes," Heather answered. "I'm curious to know why you wanted to know about the more technical aspects of my skills and the donor flights? Flying someone to the mainland and back requires only general piloting skills."

"Whenever I hire someone, I like to know everything they can do so that I can use their abilities to the fullest measure. You might say I like to get my money's worth. That's why I'm where I am." He stretched in his chair, gathered the sheets on his desk together and tamped them down a couple times. Standing up, he replied, "Okay, why don't we break for lunch?"

Graciously, Scott helped Heather out of her chair. "I'll take you to the dining room where you can meet the rest of the family. Be warned. It's noisy!"

"Can't be any worse than a base mess hall." Heather laughed as she thought to herself, That was the strangest interview I've ever had! I heard Jeff Tracy was rather odd. I wonder if it had anything to do with the time he spent on the moon?

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2054 is a reply to message #2053] Sun, 29 July 2012 12:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/24/2006 11:39 PM

July 28, 2068, 1:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Jeff rose from the luncheon table, putting his napkin down by his plate. "Delicious as always, Kyrano," he said. Glancing down at his first born, he caught Scott's eye, and told him, "In my office, please, Scott."

"Yes, sir," Scott replied smartly, finishing up his iced tea.

Jeff leaned over and gave Dianne a kiss. "See you later, love." Then he called, "Miss Kennedy, if I could please see you in my office again around three?"

"Certainly, Mr. Tracy," Heather said graciously. He and Scott took their leave and suddenly, Heather saw herself in a room full of strangers. Having witnessed Jeff's exchanges with both wife and son, she excused herself to go her room. They must be used to flying back and forth across the international dateline. I don't know about Scott or Tin-Tin but I'm pooped.

Feeling wiped out, Heather accepted one more glass of iced tea and then made her way down to her room.

"What do you think, Scott? Will she fill the bill?" Jeff asked his son on their adjournment to the office.

"I think so," Scott said. "She has the kind of selfless dedication that we require and a innovative spirit, too. She seems like someone who is good at making decisions, which is something that we need at Mobile Control. Not to mention the flying skills... even if she was Navy."

Jeff chuckled and wagged his finger at his son. "No getting into squabbles over which branch of the service is better, now, son. A pilot is a pilot."

"Oh?" Scott replied with a grin. "Try telling that to Gordon when he finds out she's Navy. You know how much more superior he thinks WASP is."

"I can see I'll have to cut him off at the pass about that," Jeff said with a sigh. He looked over at Scott and added, "So, we offer her the job, and introduce her to the covert part of it. I think we can trust her to keep it quiet should she decide against taking it. But, if I've read our Miss Kennedy right, she'll take the challenge."

When she reached her room, Heather searched for an alarm clock, while she kicked off her heels. She found the clock sitting close to her bed. As soon as she was dressed in day clothes, she walked over to set it for three o'clock and then crawled upon the bed dropping fast to sleep.

At three p.m., Scott waited anxiously for Heather's return. He was excited to be showing off his girl, even to someone who would be taking charge of her, too. I learned how to share One with Elise, and with Christopher. I can share her with Heather... should she take the job. I just hope she treats my girl right, that's all.

He glanced over at Jeff, who was reading an email, and frowning. "Something wrong, Dad?" Scott asked.

"Possibly. I'll tell you later," Jeff replied. He made a motion with his head toward the grillwork door between the study and the lounge, directing Scott's attention in that direction. Then he rose to his feet. "Come on in, Miss Kennedy."

When she walked in, she noticed the troubled look that vanished as if it had never been. "Hi Scott, Mr. Tracy."

"Please sit down, Miss Kennedy." Jeff indicated the seat she'd had before, then moved around to take his place behind his desk. Once everyone was settled, he began. "First off, let me tell you that I've been very impressed with your credentials and your experience, especially with your initiative in starting up an organ donor service on your own. As a result, I'm offering you the job of family pilot to the Tracy family." He held up his hand to forestall any reaction on her part.

Why do I feel there is a 'but' to all this? Heather wondered.

"But," he continued, "before you decide whether or not to take the job, you should know the whole picture. There's a component of this job that we've kept under wraps, and we must have your solemn promise that what we are about to show you stays a secret, whether you take the job or not."

Jeff's words caused Heather to think of all kinds of fanciful things. Good grief! What if it's something illegal? He's so overly wealthy, it could be anything? Do I really want to know what this is all about? she wondered to herself.

Jeff saw one feathered eyebrow climb up her forehead as she took in what he told her. "I'm sure this sounds strange to you, Miss Kennedy, but believe me, when you see what we are about to show you, you will understand our desire for secrecy," Jeff said. "Do I have your word you will keep our secret?"

Heather didn't know Jeff personally. He was simply her boss from a distance. She only dealt with the men Jeff put in charge at the testing grounds . Now she had met him and seen the way he acted towards his family. Very little to go on. "Yes, I'll keep your secret," Heather agreed. Let's hope I don't end up regretting this.

Jeff nodded toward his son. "Scott?"

Scott smiled and stood, indicating that Heather should do the same. "Come with me. Let me show you my favorite aircraft." He moved over to the wall to stand between a pair of light sconces. Reaching up, he fingered buttons on the struts that held them to the wall, and suddenly, the wall swung around and he was gone!

Heather's mouth dropped open slightly. What in the world have I gotten myself into? she thought to herself. Game to try anything at least once, Heather repeated Scott's movements and felt herself being whisked into a cavern. She felt someone holding onto her as her eyes adapted to the change in light. "Careful," she heard Scott say. "That first step is a whopper."

The wall swung around again, and Jeff joined the pair in the cavernous room. Scott nodded an acknowledgment to him, then turned back to Heather. "Miss Kennedy... Heather... meet my girl. Meet Thunderbird One."

"Thunderbird One?" she echoed. She read nearly every story about the secret organization. Theories abounded about where it was located; everyone knew that all anyone had to do to receive their help was simply to call on any frequency and, somewhere, someone would hear and pass the information on. Now, she was being given the opportunity to know about them.

"I don't know what to say," Heather finally said. "Now I know why you need a family pilot. To leave you free to rescue people."

Jeff chuckled. "It's more than that, Miss Kennedy. We need more personnel, more... pilots, to help us rescue people. We're not only offering you a job as family pilot. We're offering you a chance to join us. To be a part of International Rescue."

"'To be a part of it'?" Heather said confused. "Anyone would jump at the chance, Mr. Tracy, but exactly what did you have in mind for me to do if not to be a family pilot?"

"Heather, being a family pilot for us is more like a... a cover," Scott explained. "One that lets you work for International Rescue, and have a reason for living here on our island, our base. You'd do some flying family members around, yes, but it would seem pretty odd for you to be out here without any particular purpose that you could tell your family." He waved an arm in the direction of Thunderbird One. "I need a back up pilot for this baby." Grinning, he came close to give her a conspiratorial wink and ask, "How would you like to fly the fastest plane on the planet?"

Heather stared at him for a moment. "Hold it. You mean to tell me that I'm going to be flying Thunderbird 1?" Scott nodded at her. She thought hard about it, and then asked, "How fast does she go?"

"Mach 20," he replied promptly.

Common sense told her to carefully consider all the ramifications that joining such a prestigious organization required, while trying to imagine what flying Mach 20 had to feel like.

"And you want me," she spoke in what sounded like a little girl. "But why did you decide on me? I'm not exactly the most top notch flier there is."

"Your piloting skills are more than sufficient for the challenge, Miss Kennedy," Jeff said. "But it was the organ donor flights, and the fact that you had the initiative to set this up yourself that was the bigger recommendation to us." He smiled. "What I told you was true; I do look for ways to use my people to their fullest potential."

Scott looked at her and saw the indecision on her face. "Don't give us your answer right away, Heather. Take some time to think about it, really look it over from all sides." He sighed lightly. "This isn't an easy life to lead. There's a lot of stress involved, and a lot of lying, even to people you love, in order to keep the organization secure. So take your time before deciding."

"All right, Mr. Tracy. I'll think it through, and promise to keep your secret. When do you need my answer?"

"In a week, if possible," Jeff said. "And we appreciate your discretion."

Following them out of Thunderbird One's chambers, Heather wandered out onto the deck that encircled the home. Can I really do this? How can anyone fly at Mach 20? That's so much stress on the body, but how can I pass this up?

Scott and Jeff exchanged glances as they watched her walk out on the balcony. "Do you think she'll accept?" Scott asked.

"I don't know," Jeff replied. "But I hope she does."

--a challenge to Heather, by AmandaTracy and Tikatu

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2056 is a reply to message #2054] Sun, 29 July 2012 12:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 8/25/2006 12:41 PM

Saturday July 28, late afternoon, Tracy Island

It had been four days since The Incident on the beach. Dominic had, at last, gotten a decent night's rest, and was feeling marginally better. His face still went beetroot-red at the memory of the event, and he cringed every time he did. He also felt like he was going to throw up every time he thought about the creeping, hairy, disgusting creature that had been on him. He stilled for a moment and swallowed. Urgh. No matter how hard he tried not to, in the presence of eight-legged monsters his insides tried to crawl outside -- or escape via projectile vomiting, he thought with a shudder -- and it was very, very embarrassing. Thus far he had managed to avoid Scott and the kids (Kids! I was more afraid than the kids!), but it wasn't long before his luck ran out. Though, knowing that Kyrano's garden was something of a favourite spot for the eldest Tracy sibling, Dom realized in retrospect that it wasn't such a good place to try to avoid him. He hadn't been in the foliage too long, Joshua in tow, before he bumped into not only Scott, but Alex as well. Someone up there doesn't like me today...

"All right lads?" He said pleasantly, hoping that his face wasn't going as red as it felt.

"Hi, Dominic," Scott said. "Recovered since Wednesday?"

Now Dominic was sure that his face was red, and he shook his head slightly to try and cover his face with his hair.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, thanks." Man, I sound pathetic. "Haven't thought about it since." Liar.

"You know, you weren't in any danger," Alex said earnestly. "It wasn't poisonous, and it was quite young, too. It was weird to see one out in the day. It was actually quite cool."

Dominic turned his eyes on Alex, and his mouth thinned.

"I wouldn't be so sure," he said. That kid has some warped priorities...

For a moment, Dom thought Alex looked slightly hurt by the comment, but it passed so quickly that he decided he was making it up. Paranoid about other things now too, apparently.

"And I wouldn't be so sure to question what Alex says," Scott commented. "He knows his stuff."

"Yeah. There are a lot of tarantulas on the island," Alex said, folding his arms. "There's probably a bunch of them living in this garden, too."

The hairs on the back of Dom's neck stood on end, and his body steeled itself against an impending onslaught of furry terrors. He swallowed, his throat feeling suddenly arid, and reached down for his son's hand.

"Come on, Jak," he said. "Time to go. See you around, lads."
Dominic beat a rapid retreat back to his apartment, Joshua complaining all the way.

"Sorry, wee man, but Daddy just can't face another spider this decade..."

Back in the garden, Scott cast a sidelong glance at Alex.

"That was... tactful," he said. But deserved. Where does he get off thinking Alex doesn't know what he's talking about? The kid's a natural at this sort of thing! Man...

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2102 is a reply to message #2056] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/25/2006 9:28 PM

Saturday, August 28, 4:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Tyler knocked on John's door, then entered at his brother's loud, "Come in!" He found his favorite brother busily picking up books from the end tables in his sitting room and filing them where they belonged on the shelves.

"Hey, Ty!" John said with a grin. "What brings you here?" He moved over to his writing corner, and picked up the latest revisions to his book, tamping the galley proofs down and tucking them into a file drawer.

"I wanted you to come play pinball with me," Tyler said as he watched his brother. He frowned, puzzled. "How come you're cleaning up?"

John stopped long enough to run a hand through his hair, and look at Tyler apologetically. "I'm sorry, Ty, but I can't play pinball with you tonight. I've got an appointment with Kat to teach her some Spanish." He gave a distracted wave to the room in general. "That's why I'm cleaning up. Can't have all the clutter around, y'know."

Tyler looked startled for a moment, then asked, "How come you're teaching her Spanish?"

"Because I know it and she wants to learn."

"Huh." Tyler thought this over for a minute. "How come you have to teach her tonight? Why can't you teach her some other time?"

John, who had gone back to straightening up, stopped once again. "Listen, Ty. In a few days I'll be going back up to Thunderbird Five. I don't have a whole lot of time left to start these lessons, or to spend time with her. So, tonight's the night, my man."

"But, I won't have too much more time with you either," Ty whined. "You'll be away for a whole month again!"

John sighed. "I know, Ty, and I'm sorry. But I've had this set up with Kat for a few days now, and it's important to me."

"Pleeeeeease?" the boy pleaded.

John smiled at his little brother, trying to make him understand. "I'm sorry, Ty, but not tonight. I'll see what I can do about playing with you tomorrow, okay?"

"Hmph. I guess so," Tyler groused.

"Now, please let me finish what I was doing," John asked. "Unless you'd like to help...?"

"No. I don't want to help." Tyler turned to leave but as he reached the door, he stopped and looked at John. "Promise me we'll play tomorrow?"

John shook his head with another sigh. "I'll see what I can do. That's all I can promise."

Tyler turned away again, his shoulders slumped. He kicked the carpet as the door hissed open and he left the room. His brother watched him go, shaking his head for a moment and sighing a third time. Then he turned back to what he was doing.

Outside, Tyler glanced back at John's door and snorted. "Hmph! I knew this was coming. I knew he'd get all kissy-face with Kat and wouldn't have time for me." He put his hands in the pockets of his jeans as he walked toward his own room, head down, a scowl on his face. I don't like it. And I don't like her, either. She's taking up too much of my brother's time.

Gordon came in from the balcony in the corner of the house just as Tyler reached his bedroom door. "Hey, Ty!" he called cheerfully. "Why so glum?"

"John won't play pinball with me," Tyler complained. "He says he has to teach Spanish to Kat."

The fourth Tracy son regarded the seventh thoughtfully. This could turn into a sticky situation. Let's see if I can defuse it a little. "Well, maybe she asked him to. He's good at that, y'know." Before Tyler could continue his complaint, Gordon put an arm around him. "Listen, how about you and I play some pinball. A tournament for the championship of the world!"

Tyler sighed, but nodded. "I guess so."

"Okay!" Gordon said. "Come on, best three out of five! And last one there has to take second turn!"

The boy brightened, and started off down the hall in a hurry. "You'll be last all the way around, Gordon!"

"Oh yeah?" Gordon hustled off in pursuit of his younger brother, happy to have distracted him from his whining over John.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2103 is a reply to message #2102] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tawnyangel22 Sent: 8/26/2006 12:47 AM

Tracy Island -- 28th July, early evening

"Hola, mi nombre es Kat. Trabajo con Brains en la Isla de Tracy," Kat said.

John grinned and then replied, "Your name is Kat and you work with Brains on Tracy Island."

They were both in the kitchen at the Villa preparing a meal. He had arranged to cook a meal for them to eat in his suite, while he started teaching her Spanish.

"Es de Londres?"

"No," she responded.

As soon as the meal was ready, she helped him to carry the food to his suite. Sitting down at the table, he dished up some hot soup and bread rolls followed by a pasta dish. For a while the two ate in companionable silence.

Then John said, "Me gusta escribir cartas, porque tengo un nuevo ordenador."

She hesitated then replied, giggling, "I like writing letters because I have a new computer."

After they had finished, she helped him carry the dirty dishes and cutlery back to the kitchen, and together they did the washing up. Back in his suite, she sat down on his sofa. He joined her, and for a while they continued, he firing Spanish at her and she replying as best she could.

Eventually he suggested that they take a short break. "Can I get you a drink?"

"Yes, please," she replied.

"Wine or fruit juice?"

"I'd like some wine, please."

"Um, Red or White?"

Kat giggled as she replied, "Ooh, decisions, decisions. I'd like white please."

John got two glasses and took out a bottle of wine from his cabinet, filling the glasses, he handed one to Kat."

"Cheers!" he said, raising his glass.

"Cheers!" she replied clinking glasses with him.

"Your Spanish is not bad. Better than you led me to believe," he remarked.

She smiled. "I rather suspect it's very textbook. I don't think I could hold a long conversation."

"Then we'll have to work on that. Maybe we could have Spanish evenings, where we don't speak any English."

He chuckled at the look on her face. "Well not straightaway perhaps."

When they had finished their drinks, he said. "Okay, Kat, name the days of the week."

"Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, Jueves, Viernes, Sabado, Domingo."

"Bueno. Çomo està usted?" he asked.

"Me llamo Kat," she replied.

He laughed, "Kat I asked you 'how you are', not 'who you are'."
She blushed at her mistake. "John, I think I've had enough Spanish for one evening. Please, can we continue in English?" He agreed.

She looked around his suite. It was very tastefully decorated in cream and coffee colours. There were thick dark blue rugs on the floor and two reclining chairs, as well as the sofa. On the walls were prints of various constellations. Noticing a large bookcase against one wall, she wandered over.

"Have you read all these books?" she asked.

He shook his head. "No, not all of them. If there are any that you would like to borrow, please feel free to choose some."

She studied his books, and choosing two, came and sat down again.
"So, what have you chosen?"

She showed him. "The da Vinci Code, and The Secret of Atlantis."

"Hmm, that's an interesting choice," he replied. "What made you choose those?"

"I've heard so much about the da Vinci Code, and ancient civilisations interest me. Anyway, that's enough about me. So, tell me, John, what was life like for you before International Rescue?"

"Dad left the family farm, to join the Air Force. It was during that time that he met and married Mom. Grandma was always there for her when each of us was born, and she helped afterwards. Sadly Mom died when Alan was very young, and Grandma moved in to take care of us all."

"It must have been tough for your dad, losing his wife, and having five boys to bring up," she said.

"Yes, it was," he agreed. "But after Grandma went back home, we used to spend as much time as we could spare with her. I really enjoyed my days on the farm.

"It must have been a lively time with five boys. Were you all very mischievous?"

He had to admit that they had all gotten in to scrapes at one time or another during their childhood.

"I did find it a little difficult being the middle sibling, with two older and two younger brothers. When we were all growing up I used to feel that I didn't fit in. Scott and Virgil have always been close. Gordon and Alan are closest in age and seemed to enjoy teasing their elder brothers," he admitted.

"I know how you feel to some degree," she replied. "With two younger brothers, I know what you mean about teasing," she replied. "My brothers were just like that, all through my childhood."

"Did they give you a hard time?" he asked.

"No, they just played silly pranks on me. I could be rather serious as a child, especially where horses were concerned, and they certainly knew what buttons to press to wind me up."

He laughed at that. "So, then, tell me about your childhood."

"I had a happy childhood, enjoyed school, but I really loved the summer holidays when I was younger. I don't quite how, but they seemed to last forever," she remarked, as she curled her legs underneath her. "I was mad about horses. I think my mother use to hope that my pony craze would die down. It used to be one gymkhana after another through the holidays." She looked wistful. "In fact the only thing I really miss living here is horse riding."

"Did you own your own horse?" he asked.

"Yes, a New Forest pony called Rosie. She was lovely, so gentle, and so willing, although she could have her moods. I used to have some terrible falls. I really wanted to be a Three Day Eventer, but Rosie was too small, and I couldn't afford another horse."

"What happened to her?" he asked.

"When I went to college, I couldn't spend the time with her that she deserved, so I sold her to the daughter of a local farmer, the one who let me ride his horse when I went home for my birthday."

"I expect you missed her," he said.

"Don't let on, but I cried for days," she replied, then added. "Now what of your dreams, John, you must have had some."

"Like Dad, I wanted to be an astronaut. I attended college, eventually going to Harvard, and then took training in that field," he answered. "But then, I suppose International Rescue took over. Why did your father start it?"

"After Mom died, Dad left the Space Agency, and formed his own company, specialising in civil and construction engineering, before branching out into aeronautic and astronautic equipment."

"And you five boys were part of that?"

"Not at first. I remember that there was a very bad accident. A lot of people died because there wasn't the equipment available to help them. Dad decided that he would make ground breaking equipment. He bought Tracy Island and we all moved here. He'd met a young man who was truly gifted, and with his expertise and Dad's money, the Thunderbirds and the other equipment were created."

"I assume that that was Brains."

John nodded as he leaned back, placing his hands behind his head. He was enjoying this evening, just the two of them relaxing and talking about their lives, getting to know each other.

"So, how did Kyrano and Tin-Tin come to live on the island?"

"Dad and Kyrano first met at the Kennedy Space Centre. They met again later, and Dad asked Kyrano to join him to help with the domestic arrangements. Tin-Tin graduated with degrees in higher mathematics, and Dad invited her to join the team. She assisted Brains with the maintenance of the vehicles."

"Which I am now doing," she stated "I don't suppose you have much time for other hobbies?"

"Well I think I mentioned before I enjoyed athletics when I was in college. My preferred sports were cross-country running, racquetball, soccer and track and field. I can only really pursue running on the island. But I do enjoy reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I run on the beach some mornings. You'll have to join me, but I'll warn you, I run very early."

Kat laughed as she shook her head. "I don't think I'll take you up on that; I don't do early mornings through choice."

"We have a tennis court; do you play tennis?" he asked.

"Yes, although I've not played since I was at school; but maybe we could have a game of tennis sometime. I used to love watching Wimbledon on the television."

He grinned. "Okay, then, we'll have a game of tennis one day."

"I'll hold you to that," she replied, grinning back at him.
Kat glanced at her watch; it was getting late. "Heavens John! I don't know where the time went; I'll have to go. But thanks for the meal and the lesson. I enjoyed them both."

"It's a pleasure Kat, I enjoyed the evening as well. We must do it again."

He walked her back to her apartment. Holding her hand, the couple walked down the stairs and through the kitchen, and then outside heading for the monorail. He glanced at her and squeezed her hand. She smiled at him; it just felt so right.

When they arrived at her apartment, she said, "That was a lovely evening, thank you so much. Oh no! I've left those books in your room."

"I'll make sure you get them tomorrow," he promised, and then he bade her goodnight.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2104 is a reply to message #2103] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 8/26/2006 2:18 PM

Saturday, July 28; 5:30 PM; Lena's home (9:30AM July 29 on Tracy Island)

Lena and Brains were in her home office, still working on the communications security upgrade program. It had taken the previous evening, and most of the day to integrate the program for the visors into this one, and they hadn't quite finished. She was trying to persuade him to stop for a few hours and relax, when they heard the doorbell ring.

He looked at her questioningly and she shrugged her shoulders, then left the room and went to the door. When she opened it, there was Matthew and Amelia. He hugged her, saying, "I wanted to meet the man who spirited you away for two weeks a few months ago. And since you said he'd be leaving some time tomorrow..."

Amelia interrupted him, saying, "And I know you. You get involved in something on your computer and you forget to eat. I'm willing to bet this Hackenburger person is the same way."

"Hackenbacker, Amelia. And you're right. I was about to get him to take a break. Are your boys coming, too?" She stepped aside to let them in, and heard a shout from the street before her daughter-in-law could answer.

"Hi, Nyanya!" She looked out and saw Naomi hurrying toward the house, with Kevin close behind. Joy and Tom had just gotten out of their SUV. Naomi reached her grandmother and hugged her, saying, "It's a good day for a party, and we decided to have it here."

Nonplussed, she shook her head when she realized that both Matthew and Amelia were carrying grocery bags. She looked outside and saw Joy with more bags, and Tom carrying a cooler.

Joy called to her kids. "You two come back here and help us with the rest of the things." As they passed her on their way back to the vehicle, she said to her mother, "We wanted to meet this man, and knew you probably wouldn't have enough to fill up Naomi and Kevin, never mind the rest of us, so we brought the food with us." She smiled and kissed Lena on the cheek.

"Here come Leslie and E.J." Lena once again glanced outside at Naomi's words and saw her other granddaughter drive up with her husband and baby. They parked across the street and got out, waving. Leslie quickly removed her daughter from the back seat and brought her to Lena.

"Nyanya, would you hold her while I get the rest of her things?" she said as she first kissed her grandmother, then handed her the baby before Lena could say a word. Then she hurried off. Lena chuckled and turned back inside.

"Where's this young man we came to see?" Matthew asked.

"He's in my office. I'll get him, but don't you go interrogating him."

"Who, me? I wouldn't think of it! I'd better go and see if anyone needs help bringing anything in." He headed out the front door as Lena walked over to her home office. She went inside closing the door behind her.

"Who was at the door, Lena? Someone selling something?"

"Not exactly, Brains." Just then, Siti cooed and gurgled at her great-grandmother, causing Brains to sit up suddenly and turn around.

"Who is that?"

"Dis is my newest great-granddaughter, Siti," she replied, looking fondly down at her. Then she began to laugh. "More dan half my family is here, wit food and drinks. Dey are determined to meet you. So save what you've done and come out to meet dem."
"Over half your family? They want to meet me? Why? What did you tell them?"

"Above de fact dat you asked me to come to de Tracy home to help repair de problem wit de servers, and you give me some otter assignments from time to time? Notting."

"Den. . . Er, then why does it sound like they're here to check out a prospective suitor?"

"A what?" Lena looked stunned. Then she chuckled, and the baby laughed. "You see? Even Siti tinks dat is silly. Come on. You don't have a choice, you know. Save your work, shut down for de evening and come meet my family."

Brains grinned at her, and obeyed. They were soon in the living room, where he was introduced. He impressed them by not only remembering their names, but which went with whom, and reminded them that he lived with a much larger family. "I may be absent minded at times, but it pays to know who's who. Especially since one of them is a chronic practical joker."

Lena turned to Amelia. "You didn't get a chance to answer my question earlier. Are your boys and deir families coming?"
Matthew answered for her. "No, Mom. 'Fraid they couldn't get away. So that means, Hiram, that you don't get to meet the entire family at once."

Brains chuckled. "Well, if Lena and I keep having to work together, I'll probably be back, and can meet them another time."
Just then Tom poked his head in. "The barbecue's ready for the meat, guys. Let's get this show on the road."

The men took Brains outside and chatted with him while they barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs. The women got the side dishes ready and the twins set up tables and chairs, and did anything else they could. Finally everything was ready, and they all sat down to dinner. For once the weather cooperated. It was warm, with a light breeze, and they were able to enjoy the impromptu al fresco dinner.

Once everyone declared they'd had enough, Matthew, Tom and E.J. got up to take care of the barbecue grill, and the women began clearing the table. Siti had slept through most of the dinner, having had hers earlier, and was awake and gurgling happily. Before Brains could move, Leslie handed the baby to him to hold while she helped her mother and grandmother.

Brains held the baby under her arms, facing him and said to the men, "Can't one of you take her? I've never held a baby before. What am I supposed to do with her?"

E.J. said, "If Leslie gave Siti to you, she's your responsibility. Don't worry. Just turn her around and let her sit on your lap with her back against you. She can watch us take care of this." He grinned at Brains as he watched him gingerly turn and put the baby on his legs. Observing the look of wonder that slowly came over the engineer's face as Siti turned and reached a hand up to touch his chin, he added, "She seems to like you. I'd say you're a natural."

Matthew and Tom looked up from their task and agreed. Brains continued to gaze at the child until she reached up and grabbed his glasses, pulling them off his face. "Oops," he said as he gently took them from her hand before she got them to her mouth. "That's not food, young lady. I need them to see how pretty you are."

"I'm sorry, Hiram," Lena said. She reached out to take Siti from him. "You'd better clean dem. Dey probably have her fingerprints all over the lenses. I doubt you can see any better wit dem on, dan wit dem off."

He held them up to look through them and had to agree with her. He quickly cleaned them and put them back on. By this time, the other men were finished with their task, and the women nearly so. Shortly they were all sitting in the back yard, chatting. Brains never felt like he was being scrutinized or interrogated; he just enjoyed getting to know Lena's family and hearing about the absent members.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2105 is a reply to message #2104] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/26/2006 5:03 PM

Sunday, July 29, 2068, 10:45 a.m., Tracy Island

Kat was puzzled. She had tried to contact John through his communicator to remind him about the books she had left in his suite. She was anxious to read them, but she wasn't able to get through to him. "I think perhaps I'll visit him at the villa, see if we could spend a little more time together today. I can retrieve the books in any case." With that decision made, she hopped on the monorail and headed for the Tracy villa.

The first person she met was Scott, who was coming out of the weight room, sweaty, with a towel draped around his neck. "Hullo, Scott," she said cheerfully, catching up to him. "I'm looking for John. Have you seen him?"

"Good morning, Kat." Scott stopped long enough for Kat to fall in step with him, and smiled at her. "Last I knew, he was going to play some pinball with Tyler. You might find him in the game room."

"That's this room around the next corner?" she asked as they turned the corner and passed the infirmary. She colored a little. "I've not been there often."

"Yes, that's it," Scott said, nodding. "If he's not there, just ask. Someone's bound to know where he is."

"I will," Kat said as she stopped at the door. "Thank you, Scott. Have a nice day!"

"You're welcome, and the same to you," Scott replied. He gave her a little wave as he headed for the stairs to the upper floor and his suite.

Kat walked into the games room. It was pretty empty; Tyler was standing at one of the pinball machines, racking up points, while Gordon and Cherie were off at the air hockey table playing an intense game. The younger boy glanced up briefly when she walked in, and returned to his game, but the others didn't even notice her, so intent were they on playing.

Tyler was playing with John anyway, and should know where he went, she thought. She smiled, and approached the boy, standing at his side until he acknowledged her. When Tyler continued playing as if she weren't there, she cleared her throat, then said, "Tyler?"

The boy looked at her as if annoyed and asked brusquely, "What do you want?"

Kat was taken aback by this abrupt tone. I wonder what has him so touchy. Still, she smiled again, and said, "Tyler, I'm looking for John. Do you know where he is?"

The boy didn't look at her this time when he answered curtly, "No."

Her smile faded, and she frowned slightly. This is vexing. I tend to get along with most every child I encounter, she mused. Am I doing something wrong here? Perhaps I should try to befriend him... She looked at the pinball game itself, watching as Tyler expertly used the flippers to speed the ball over the board, up to the upper levels, into a hole where it sat for a few moments, knocking down targets and setting off lights all the while. The score continued to climb, and despite her current slight pique, she was impressed. He's very good.

"My, you certainly are a good player," she said in an admiring tone. "I must admit I've not played pinball very much, though I am familiar with the game. Could I have a go? Perhaps you could teach me how to play better."

Tyler didn't look at her. He kept his eyes on the board, as if he hadn't even heard her, though the barely verbal, "Hmph!" he uttered showed her that he was indeed listening.

Now Kat was sure there was something wrong, and that it wasn't with her. "What have I said?" she asked tartly. "You're being very rude, you know. Perhaps I should tell your parents about your behavior."

His hands stilled, and after a moment, the ball drained. He looked at her, his expression carefully neutral, and said, "Here. You can play now. I'm done." And with that, he pushed past her and stalked out of the room.

She watched him leave, incredulous at his behavior. Then she turned to Cherie and Gordon, who were, it seemed, oblivious to Tyler and the little scene. She walked briskly over to them.

"Gordon," she said without preface, "could you tell me where John is?"

Gordon glanced up at her briefly. "Uh... oh hi, Kat. John? No, I'm afraid I don't know. Maybe Ty does; they were playing pinball just a little while ago."

"I asked Tyler," Kat said, glancing back at the closed door. "He either couldn't or wouldn't tell me, and he was rude about it in the bargain. Then he walked out."

Both Gordon and Cherie looked toward the pinball machine, which was still flashing, waiting for the player to continue. "Hm," Gordon said. "He left in the middle of a game, too. What did you say to him?"

Kat's eyes grew wide. "Me? I merely asked him where John was, then complimented him on his game. I even asked him to teach me! But he got very stroppy, and rude. Finally he walked out."

The two Tracys exchanged glances, and Cherie gave a little shrug. "I'm sorry he was rude, Kat," Gordon said. "He's a kid, and kids get this way sometimes."

"Maybe he didn't get enough sleep last night," Cherie offered. "That always makes him go off at the drop of a hat."

Kat considered their words, then nodded. "Perhaps you're right. In any case, I will go and see if John is in his quarters. He lent me some books, and I forgot to take them with me after our Spanish lesson last night."

"I'll have a word with Tyler later," Gordon said. "Let him know that his behavior wasn't appreciated."

"Thank you, Gordon," Kat replied, smiling slightly. "I'd best be off. Have a nice day."

The Tracys returned the wishes, and Kat left. Cherie regarded her brother with a keen eye. "Why do I have a feeling there's more to this than just Ty being Ty?"

"Because I think there is," Gordon said. "But don't you worry about it. I'll take care of it. What you have to worry about is... this!"

The puck shot across the table with near-blinding speed, but Cherie moved her hand, and sent it sailing back toward Gordon. "Ha!" she said as they resumed their interrupted game.

Out in the corridor, Kat turned toward the stairs, and had only taken a few steps when a voice from behind her called, "Kat!"

She turned around, and smiled to see John come up, a basket of laundry in his hands. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I came to pick up those books I wanted to borrow," she said as she fell into step with him. "I tried to call you, but was unable to reach you."

"Uh, yeah," John said, smiling a bit sheepishly. "I usually leave my wrist comm in my room when I do laundry. It's fallen into the washer before more than once."

Kat laughed. "You seem to have quite a bit of wash to do," she commented, as they stepped into the lift between floors.

John gave her a wry smile. "Have to catch up before I leave for Five. I like to have clean clothes to come home to."

They continued on to his suite, and Kat wondered, Do I tell him how Tyler acted toward me? No, it would be better off if I don't, especially after the incident with Callie. Besides, I don't want to ruin any time I have with him before he leaves with conflicts of any kind. Gordon said he would speak to Tyler, and I shall leave the matter with him.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2106 is a reply to message #2105] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: FrankieCTB2 Sent: 8/26/2006 7:26 PM

Tracy Island, July 29th, 3:00 p.m.

"It's no use. I can't do this."

"Yes, you can," the voice gently coaxed, "Just give me your hand and I'll guide you."

The fear came back again. "Nope, it won't work, I just can't do it."

"Sure it'll work; I'll be right here with you." The gentle voice continued to soothe the rising fears until the moment the water covered their heads.

WHOOSH! The water spouted up like Old Faithful as Elise tore off her snorkel mask and started gulping for air. Gordon came up right next to her.

"See! ... I ... told you ... I ...couldn't do ... it!" she spluttered.

Gordon had the patience of a saint when it came to helping people overcome fears, whether it be out on a rescue with a total stranger or training with a teammate. "You did fine Elise, really you did. Just try not to come up so fast next time."

"Next time?" Elise was still trying to comprehend the fact that she was still alive and breathing air after this time!

"In a couple of minutes we're going to try again, okay?" Gordon continued his gentle coaxing until she nodded a quick 'yes' a few minutes later.

Elise knew she had to at least try once more. It was part of the therapy Dianne had suggested and she knew deep down that Gordon wouldn't let anything happen to her. For Pete's sakes, he's an Olympic swimmer and part fish - he won't let me drown! She clung to the side of the pool, regaining her breath before she tried again. She pulled the mask down over her face, and made her way with Gordon to the middle of the pool where they again went under.

Just like the first time, Gordon held her hand under the water and gave it reassuring squeezes. They didn't stay down for long and when they surfaced it wasn't as dramatic as it'd been before. Gordon's plan was to get Elise as comfortable as possible with just going under and re-surfacing, and he was willing to take as long as it took.

"What is so fascinating down there?" Scott asked, approaching Virgil who had been on the balcony for some considerable time.

"Those two," Virgil indicated without turning to Scott who now stood next to him.

"How long have they been at it?" asked Scott.

"About 45 minutes. He's doing a great job with easing her fears."

"Good. It's tough, but she needs this."

Virgil nodded silently in agreement, knowing that facing her fears was Elise's biggest challenge right now. After a little while the two brothers started to casually talk about how training was going with various team members, including Elise, then discussed some ideas that they'd had about pod vehicles and equipment. Their attention drawn away from the pool, they were unaware of what happened next until they heard Gordon painfully yelling, "Hey! Guys! I need help down here, NOW!"

Simultaneously, Scott and Virgil looked down. Gordon was trying to swim to the pool edge, dragging a spluttering, panicking Elise, and the both of them were not getting very far.

Instantly, Virgil was down the steps and running with Scott on his heels. By the time they reached the pool edge, Gordon was about 2 feet away; leaning down on the poolside, Scott reached out to Gordon's outstretched arm and pulled him in. Virgil did likewise and grabbed hold of Elise, swiftly pulling her out of the water. She all but collapsed onto the ground, spluttering and gasping.

"What the hell happened?" Scott asked Gordon who was now lying on his back, wincing and breathing heavily.

Gordon turned his head towards Virgil. "Is she ... all right?"

"I think so," replied Virgil not taking his eyes off Elise, but helping her calm down and sit up slowly.

"Gords?" Scott asked again, impatient yet concerned.

"Oh yeah, ... sorry ... Scott. We were doing fine, swimming great until the snorkel somehow slipped and ... as I tried to help her adjust it, she opened her mouth and took in water."

Gordon was still having trouble believing it himself. "She panicked, and as we came up to the surface she was kicking and got me ... where it counts." He winced again remembering the pain.

Scott almost laughed out loud in relief at his brother's choice of words. "Sorry bro, I feel for you. I'm just glad it wasn't more serious."

"More serious? I may have suffered irrevocable damage!"

Scott looked him over quickly and smiling at Gordon's wounded look, replied, "I doubt it!" Scott helped his sibling to his feet, grabbed some towels and handed one to Gordon and one to Elise.

"Are you okay, Elise?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, I think so. Gordon, I'm so sorry I panicked." She looked up at him, wrapping the towel around herself.

"S'okay, I think I'll live." He winked at her then added, "Are you okay? Do you hurt anywhere?"

"No. I'm fine. Just got scared."

"Well, apart from swallowing the pool, you did really great. But I think we'll call it quits for today."

"Thanks," she answered, sounding relieved and apologetic at the same time.

Virgil helped her stand and as he did she noticed how soaked he and Scott were.

"Sorry guys, for getting you all wet."

"It wouldn't be the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last!" Virgil smiled at her. She laughed a little at his humor and they slowly made their way to the stairs and as Gordon and Scott headed up to the villa, Virgil stopped and turned Elise toward him. "Are you absolutely sure you're okay?"

The concern in his voice was evident and she was touched by it. "I'll be okay. If you're wondering will I ever get back in the water - I will. Gordon was so patient and understanding with me. He really helped. I just wasn't expecting to swallow half the pool today!" She smiled, hoping her answer would reassure him.

He softened a little and she noticed. "As long as you're sure, then let's go and get ourselves into some dry clothes!" He smiled at her as he carefully placed his arm around her shoulder and helped her up the stairs.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2107 is a reply to message #2106] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Nikki-browneyes1 Sent: 8/27/2006 10:55 AM

Nikki turned to her mother to say goodbye while her brother put her luggage into the car.

"Well, this is it...again." Nikki hugged her mother. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too." Sandra pulled away. "This time I want you to keep in touch more often, alright."

"I will this time."

"I'll be waiting." Sandra walked her daughter to the car. "Call me when you arrive safely."

"Sure." Nikki hugged her mother once more after opening the car door. "Take care of yourself, Mum."

"You too."

Nikki got into the car and shut the door. Pressing a button, she automatically wound down the window and waved to her mother as the car pulled away.

When their mother was out of sight, Nikki leant back on the car seat and sighed. "It was hard to say goodbye the first time round. I didn't think it would be the same this time."

"It's not a goodbye forever. You'll still write, e-mail or call." James grinned, even though he felt sad that his sister was leaving also. He tried to lighten the mood. "Humph! Women - always getting emotional over the littlest things. Now us men, we can handle anything and everything."

"I'll remember and remind you about that comment the next time your football team loses in the premiership again and you're blubbering into your pint and peanuts."

"I didn't blubber."

"Sure you didn't, bro." Nikki laughed.

"This season coming, your team is going down."

"You said that last season and the season before that. I'm still waiting for this prophecy of yours to come true."

James stopped his car at a red light. "Hey, you know, when you go back to the States, if you see anyone famous, get me some autographs. I mean, not for me, but for my girl."

"She has a name."

"Ok, for Alia."

"Erm, I'm pretty sure that there are celebrities living in London. Anyway, just because I'm over there doesn't mean I see famous people."

"Excuse me, but you work for..." James let his sentence hang as the traffic light turned green.

"Let it go, Jamie." A thought suddenly struck the nurse. If her brother hadn't mentioned autographs, she probably wouldn't have remembered what she housed in her bag until she reached the check-in. When she was putting items into her bag that morning, she had glanced at the envelope but hadn't thought anything of it.

Opening her bag, Nikki pulled out the blue envelope and opened it. When she pulled out the birthday present decorated card and opened it, a folded up sheet of paper dropped out.

James glanced at the card and paper. "Who is it from?"

"A friend."

"What does it say?"

"Don't be so nosy." Nikki unfolded the paper and began to read it in her head. She made sure she turned it away from James prying eyes.

Dear Nikki,

I hope as you're reading this that you're enjoying your birthday with your family and friends in England. Since I'll be nowhere near during your birthday, I decided to write you this little note. Tfully I'm finding it hard to write this as I'd prefer talking to you face to face.

What I'd like to say is that I'm glad we've got the chance to work together and to get to know each other. I find it really comfortable when we have our chats (even if we don't agree on some things. One subject comes to mind) and when we hang out. Speaking of which, you owe me a basketball rematch

Well, that's it. I'll see you when I get back.

Tell my adoring fans out there that I'll always be thinking of them (I can see you rolling your eyes at that comment). Don't forget about me while you're out there having fun.


Nikki smiled after reading the letter and as Alan predicted, she did roll her eyes at his comment.

"Oh no, it's from a boyfriend, isn't it?" James said, trying to tease his sister.

"No," Nikki answered. "Like I said before, it's from a friend."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2108 is a reply to message #2107] Sun, 29 July 2012 16:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/27/2006 4:32 PM
Sunday, July 29, 2068, 7:30 p.m., Tracy Island

"Hey, Ty!" Gordon hurried out of the dining room after his youngest brother. "Wait up!"

Tyler stopped in the hallway and turned, a puzzled look on his face. Gordon caught up to the boy and put an arm around him. "You and I need to have a little chat, my man," he said, steering Tyler into the games room and through it into the home theater. Neutral territory.

He maneuvered Tyler onto one of the couches on the periphery of the room, and parked himself next to the boy. "Now," he began, putting on his best "confidante" voice and attitude, "I understand that you and Miss Williamson had a bit of a conflict today."

"Miss Williamson?" Tyler asked, wrinkling up his nose.

Gordon rolled his eyes. "Kat."

The change of expression from puzzled to sullen was dramatic. "Oh. Her," Tyler groused.

"Yes, her," Gordon echoed. "I want to hear from you what exactly happened."

Tyler was startled; he hadn't expected being able to tell his side of the story. He thought for a moment, then began. "Well, I was playing pinball and getting the highest score ever when I saw her come in. She came up to me and asked me if I knew where John was. I told her 'no', 'cause I didn't know. Then she said something about what a good player I was and could she have a turn and maybe I could teach her. I didn't say anything to that, so she told me I was being rude and she would tell my parents about it. So I stopped playing and told her she could have a turn, and I left." He shrugged. "End of story."

"Hmm." Gordon regarded the boy with a thoughtful gaze. "I don't think that's the whole story, but then, I didn't get the whole story from Kat either, it seems." He sighed. "I want your honest injun, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die opinion here, Spud. Were you being rude?"

The boy looked down and away, anywhere but into his brother's warm brown eyes. Finally he muttered, "Yeah. I guess so."

"Can you tell me why you were rude?"

Tyler muttered something too low for Gordon to catch. "Excuse me, but I don't think I caught that," Gordon said, a slight warning tone in his voice.

"I said, I don't like her!"

"Ah, I see." There was another long moment when man regarded boy before Gordon asked, "Why don't you like her?"

"'Cause she's getting all kissy-face with John," Tyler said angrily. "She's been making all goo-goo eyes at him ever since she got here, and now, when he's going back to Thunderbird Five in just a couple of days, he'd rather spend time with her than with me or anyone else in the family!"

Gordon smothered a smile. He was amused to see that he wasn't the only one who had noticed Kat's obvious and growing attention to John. Things might be farther along there if he didn't have to go up to Thunderbird Five, he realized. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. He glanced at Tyler and sighed. Still, I can't let Ty continue the way he's begun. Gotta nip this in the bud.

"Listen, Ty," Gordon began. "You're going to have to learn to put up with this. John and Scott and Virgil and Alan and I are all grown-ups. There are going to be people, particularly girls, who will come into our lives and become part of our lives. And, as a result, we're going to spend less time with you, and more time with them. It doesn't mean we're going to love you any less. I mean, how did you feel when my dad started seeing your mom? I don't remember you being too terribly upset when that happened."

"That was different," Tyler said sullenly. "Mom still had time for me, even more time than she did when we were living in Greenville and she had to work. Plus, Dad started making friends with me, too. I didn't lose her. I got him."

Gordon nodded. He had to admit that his father and his stepmother made an all-out effort to win the hearts of all the children, not just the little ones, during their courtship and engagement and even beyond. They had tried hard to keep their interaction as the focus of a family, and not just as a couple. And, if Tyler's reaction was any indication, they'd done a good job of it, too.

He sighed. "You're right. It was different with Dad and Mom, wasn't it? But what happened with them isn't going to happen with us big brothers. We'll spend more time with the girls so we can get to know them. And that means less time for you... and even for each other." He put a commiserating arm around the boy. "It doesn't seem fair, I know, but it's what happens in life."

"I don't like it."

Gordon shrugged. "You don't have to like it. It just is, and you have to put up with it." He drew back a bit and caught Tyler's eye with his own. "But what you can't do is go around being rude to people."

"Even if I don't like them?"

"Especially if you don't like them," Gordon said firmly. "Though I don't know what's not to like about Kat, other than her making goo-goo eyes at John." He put the pinky and thumb of each hand together, making a circle, then lifted them to encircle his eyes, with the other three fingers running along the sides of his head. He made his eyes as wide as he could, and Tyler huffed out a chuckle at his antics. "I mean it, Ty; what else don't you like about her? Or is her making goo-goo eyes the only thing?"

Tyler's face sobered, and he thought for quite a while. Gordon was beginning to believe that he wasn't going to have an answer, when the boy suddenly said, "She only tried to make friends with me because of John, not because of me myself."

"Hmm." Gordon nodded. "I can see where you wouldn't like that. But have any of the other new recruits tried to make friends with you for just you?"

"Oh, yeah!" Tyler said. "Remember when you and me and Alex went fishing with Mr. Brandon?"

Gordon rolled his eyes. "How could I forget? We all got sick."

"Yeah, but we went fishing, and Mr. Brandon treated me okay." Tyler was warming to his subject. "And Mr. Dom brought me a book when I was sick, and Miss Elise and I got grounded at the same time and threw stuff in the ocean together, and Miss Callie went swimming with me and Alex, and Miss Nikki was great when I was sick, and Mr. Christopher let us pet Durian... that was before Kyrano got him..."

"Whoa!" Gordon put up both hands. "Slow down!" When Tyler complied, Gordon shook his head in amazement. "I never knew all this."

Tyler shrugged one shoulder. "You don't see everything." He made a face. "Miss Kat just makes goo-goo eyes at John and plays with Joshua. She pretty much ignores me. She even tried once to get John to go stargazing with her, when he had just gotten home from Thunderbird Five. You know he always plays pinball with me then." His voice lowered. "It was like I wasn't even there."

Gordon sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "Ty... it doesn't matter if she ignores you or how she treats you. You still can't go around being rude to her. I'm not saying you have to like her, but you do have to be polite." He eyed his brother, catching the boy's gaze again. "By all rights, Kat should have gone to Mom and Dad, and then you'd be getting more than just a talking to. But I said I'd handle it. Now," he reached out and held his brother's chin, "will you promise me that you'll at least be polite? Please?"

Tyler still looked mutinous, but finally he nodded. "All right. I'll try to be polite... as long as I don't have to like her."

"Promise?" Gordon knew his little brother; a promise was far more binding than anything else.

It took a few moments, but Tyler nodded again. "Promise."

"Okay." Gordon looked around the room. "You want to watch a movie or something?"

"Can I pick it?" Tyler asked, raising an eyebrow speculatively.

I may hate myself for this... "Sure. You pick it."

"All right! Can we make popcorn?"

Gordon nodded, and the two began to put together their impromptu movie night.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2109 is a reply to message #2108] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 8/27/2006 6:38 PM

Sunday, July 29; 7:30 AM; Lena's house

"Brains! The car has arrived."

He came down the hall, as usual juggling all his paraphernalia. Lena grinned and reached out, taking his carry on case from him. They headed out and handed the suitcase and then the carry on to the chauffeur, who put them into the trunk.

"Lena, thank you for your hospitality. I've enjoyed working with you here, almost as much as I did on Tracy Island."

She hugged him briefly. "Well, since dat's your domain, it's not surprising. I loved having you here. Come back anytime. If you have any sudden inspirations regarding dis program, let me know. I'll continue working on it, adding de translations program and adapting it to work for data dat you might have to send. Hopefully it'll be completed witin a mont or so. You do have de disc wit de info of what we've done so far, don't you."

"Yes, I do; and I'm sure it will. We got a lot accomplished together. I look forward to our next project."

"As do I. Now you'd better get going. You don't want to be late for your flight."

"Right; especially since I'm meeting Nikki, and we're traveling to Wichita together."

"Wichita? Why there?"

"We have a new recruit and she lives near there. She spent the weekend at the Villa, and will be taken back tomorrow, Tracy Island time. She'll arrive at midnight, then Nikki and I will fly back to the island on the same jet, after resting up at the Tracy farm."

"Ah; dat makes sense. Well, give my love to Nikki and to whomever is piloting de jet to Wichita. And have a safe trip all de way home."

He reached out and hugged her again, a longer one this time, then got into the limo. "I will, Lena. And I'll miss you. But I'll be in touch with you soon."

The chauffeur closed the door, touched the brim of his hat to Lena, then walked around to the driver's side and got in. Brains lowered the window and said, "Tell your family I enjoyed meeting them all, and hope to see them again. Good bye."

"I will. Good bye."

He raised the window, and she grinned as she noticed that he was taking out his data pad and looking over his notes as the car pulled away.

The trip was accomplished smoothly and quickly, and soon Brains was checked in. He looked around when he heard his name called, and saw Nikki waving at him. He walked over to her and said, "How was your visit? Did you have a good birthday? How was your trip back?"

"It was fine, Brains. I had a good visit, and the trips out and back -- so far -- were smooth. How was your conference?"

"Very informative. I'll be corresponding with several of those who were on panels I attended; some of their technologies could be integrated into various vehicles and tools we use."

"Well, why don't we head to the boarding gate? I want to make sure we don't miss our flight. What's our schedule after we get to Wichita? No one told me."

He explained it, and she was satisfied. "I'll get to pilot a Tracy jet part of the way? That's great! I've been wanting to try it."

"Well, we will decide who flies which leg before we depart. I don't know who is flying the jet here, but he'll need to get some sleep. He's getting in at midnight, and we'll be heading to the island around 2 AM, Wichita time."

"Then I'll need to get some sleep and at least one good meal, so I'll be alert."

By this time they had gotten through the security checkpoint. They headed to the gate and it wasn't long before they were aboard the jet (in first class, of course!) and on their way. A car was waiting at the airport in Wichita, and it took them to the farmhouse, where they rested and refreshed themselves until it was time to go.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2110 is a reply to message #2109] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 8/28/2006 9:43 PM

Monday July 30, 2012 9:00 a.m. Tracy Island/ Sunday 5 p.m.Wichita, KS

The clock on the nightstand read 8 a.m. on Tracy Island. Heather stood in her traveling clothes with bags already packed and ready to go. She carried her bags out to the patio where the golf cart sat waiting to take her and Gordon to the plane. Putting her bags in the back, she looked around. Dressed in his favorite jacket, Jeff came down to take Heather back to the the jet with Gordon.

I wish Tin-Tin could go with us. Saying goodbye to her was more difficult than I expected, Heather thought.

"Ready to go home, Heather?" Jeff asked.

Heather chuckled. "No, I'm not."

"Have you seen Gordon?"

"No, I haven't."

From the deck, they heard a call. "I'm comin'! Wait for me!"

Jeff groaned. "Heather, I really appreciate you sharing the transport duties."

"Oh, you're welcome, Mr. Tracy. It will be a pleasure to fly your personal aircraft. I hear you have the best." The two studied each other for the few moments as Gordon hurried down the patio stairway, still tucking his shirt in.

"Did you forget something?" reminded Jeff.

Gordon froze for a moment before realizing he was missing his overnight bag. Turning around, Gordon was about to run back up the stairs when Tin-Tin appeared with his bag. "You almost forgot this, Gordon," Tin-Tin said.

Jeff sighed heavily as they watched Gordon accept his bag, and come rushing down the stairway. "Well, let's get this show on the road!" the redhead announced excitedly.

Hearing Heather's laughter, Jeff turned toward her to say, "Just wait till you have kids!"

After the short drive to the landing strip, Gordon got out to bring down the hatch to the jet. Jeff grabbed her luggage and Gordon's overnight bag.

He was surprised when, instead of a handshake, she saluted him. "Heather, I'm not in the service anymore."

"Aren't you, sir?" she said with a fond smile.

"You're not in uniform, either," he teased.

"You'll take care of that, I'm sure," she teased back.

"Perhaps I will, Heather. Take care, and have a safe trip home. And be careful. Don't take chances. The weather in the plains has been growing rougher lately."

"Yes, it has, and I will, Mr. Tracy. Thank you for letting me come."

"You'd better get going. I'll talk with you soon," Jeff said. "You might want to talk it up with Gordon. It helps him pay more attention to what he's doing."

"One conversationalist coming up. Bye."

With that, Heather hurried up the stairway and she pulled the hatchway closed.

Scott accepted Gordon's clearance call in the command chair in the lounge. "All set to go, Gordon?"

"With a good looking lady by my side, of course, I'm all set to go... Ouch!"

"Someday you're going to learn. You have clearance, Gordon. Have a safe journey and Heather?"

"Yes, Scott?" Heather radioed back.

"Have mercy on the guy, okay?"

"No promises, but I'll see what I can do."

Heather sat in the co-pilot's seat next to Gordon. She felt the pressure push her back in her seat as the jet picked up speed and headed down the tarmac. With practiced ease, Gordon pulled the jet into the air.

"That was very smooth, Gordon," Heather said with admiration.

"Thank you! Comes with the last name," said Gordon slipping on a pair of sunglasses. "If you're a Tracy, you learn to fly. So how did you like staying on the island?"

"I confess my room was lovely. Especially the bed and all that sea air!"

"How did you like seeing Thunderbird 1? I mean it isn't as classy as Thunderbird 4, of course."

"TB1 looks fast just standing in the gantry."

"How about the pilot?" he teased. This gal is gonna be a whole lot of fun if she pilots for us.

"'The pilot'?" she said confused. "You mean Scott?"

"Yeah! There isn't a girl that hasn't gone gaga for the guy," Gordon exaggerated.

Heather blinked a few times, thinking how best to answer. "You're not jealous of him, are you?"

"No, I'm not. But he's so serious sometimes that I like to bug him now and then."

"He's nice," Heather said neutrally. "I saw most everyone during meals."

Gordon admitted, "I'm sorry I didn't spend as much time with you."

"Well, we've got a whole flight to talk," she said with a grin. "And I'm a captive audience... Ow!"

After they reached Los Angeles and took time out to refuel and eat, Heather took over flying to give Gordon a break.

"Gordon, I do have a question. There aren't any sea snakes around the island, are there? Tin-Tin had me diving with her and she offered to find some 'water mambas'. I've studied snakes for a long time and--" She had to stop her narration to allow Gordon to catch his breath from exploding with laughter. "If you get bit by one of those--" Heather began.

"Ha ha ha! It's a joke, Heather."

"Oh. What did you do this weekend?"

"Made a bunch of snacks to watch a movie with my little brother, Tyler."

"Sounds like fun," Heather said. "I miss my little brother. He's disabled. He's twenty years old but acts like he's eight. You should have seen the commotion he caused at Mother's. Donny called me up on the vidphone and saw me getting out my revolver to shoot a rattler. Wow!"

Gordon burst out laughing. "What happened?"

Heather checked their heading before answering. "You'd have thought we were at war again. Donny yelled at Mother that I was going to shoot a rattler, Mother called her sister, my Aunt Jenny, and I have no idea what happened after that."

By the time they landed at the testing grounds near midnight, Heather was tired, and glad that Gordon had been her co-pilot. It made the decision whether to accept Jeff Tracy's offer just a little easier. As she and Gordon made their way off the plane, they were met by another young woman and a man with thick glasses.

"Heather, do you have a way home?" Gordon asked in a voice that lacked his earlier silliness.

"Well, I do have my car here--"

"No way," she heard him insist. "I'm calling you a cab, I'm paying for it and you are not going to argue with me. While we're all waiting, I can introduce you to two more of Dad's employees: Brains and Nikki."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2111 is a reply to message #2110] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/29/2006 7:46 PM

Monday, July 30, 2068, 10:30 a.m., Tracy Island

Dianne sighed as she put the latest update on Elise into her patient file. I've got two gals suffering from PTSS right now. Dom's been showing some signs of stress, too, as belated as they are. She ran a hand through her hair. I don't know how well I'm doing with this psychological treatment. I'm not a psychiatrist; this is just not my forte. She shook her head, and went back to her patient notes. Maybe I should go back to school, pick up another specialty. Or, maybe I should get someone to help me. She sighed. I'll talk to Jeff about it, see what he has to suggest.

She was so engrossed in her work that she didn't hear them enter. Only when Cherie cleared her throat with a noisy and deliberate, "Ahem," did she look up.

"Hey, guys," Dianne said, minimizing the patient record. "What brings you three here?"

"We're here to talk to you about our upcoming trips," Cherie said in a businesslike manner.

Dianne's eyes flicked from one child to another. "Trips?" she asked, frowning. "What trips?"

"The trips you promised us," Alex said, folding his arms. "You said that we could visit the new place in New Hampshire during the school break."

"And you said we could go back to the ranch, too," Cherie added with a nod. "Since there's just a month left to the school break, we thought we'd better remind you."

There was a pause, then Dianne asked, "Did I promise to take you anywhere, Ty?"

Tyler shook his head. "But I want to go where they're going."

Dianne chuckled. "Okay, okay. Consider me reminded. I'll see what I can do. But it'll have to be after Virgil's birthday party, okay?"

"Are we going to Virgil's birthday party?" Alex asked, his eyes wide.

"Yes, you're all going," Dianne said, smiling. "Can't leave you home this time."

"Where are we going? What will we be doing?" Cherie asked excitedly.

Dianne raised a sly eyebrow. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

"Mommmm!" Tyler protested. "Why won't you tell us?"

"You'll find out soon enough," his mother replied smugly. "There may even be an announcement at dinner tonight."

"I hope it's someplace good!" Alex said. "Like maybe Australia or Africa! Places where there's plenty of weird critters."

Cherie rolled her eyes. "The reason that all you think about are weird critters is because you're weird."

Alex stuck his tongue out at his sister, then turned back to his mother. "Mom? When we go to the ranch, can we bring some of our friends?"

"Yeah, can we? Stephanie, too?" Cherie asked. Her voice lowered as she said, "Since I won't be going to school in Greenville, and Uncle Doug is moving away from there... and with all this... stuff happening with Grandp... I mean, your dad...well, there's no reason for Grandma to stay. I might not get to see Steph or my friends again."

Dianne reached out to put a hand on her daughter's arm. "I understand, honey. I'll do what I can to get some of your friends to come. Same for Alex and Tyler. But you have to remember that school starts earlier over there than it does for you. Some of your friends might be away on vacation, and Uncle Doug may be moving so that Stephanie starts the school year at the right time. I'll ask about the twins, too. It's not fair that Steph gets to go to the ranch and they don't... though it might be easier to take them to New Hampshire."

"Do you think Grandma will go back to Greenville?" Alex asked.

"I don't know," Dianne said, shaking her head. "She might decide it's still her home."

They were quiet for a few minutes, then Cherie turned to go. "C'mon, guys," she said. "We've got things to do."

"Yeah," Alex said. He stopped to kiss his mother and give her a hug. "Thanks, Mom."

"You're welcome, son," she replied, smiling. Cherie dropped a kiss on Dianne's cheek, and Tyler gave her a hug from the side, pinning her arms and squeezing as tightly as he could.

"We'll see you at lunch, Mom," Alex said as they left. Dianne turned back to her work, half listening to her children's conversation.

"Hey, Cherry!" Alex cried, his voice diminishing in volume as he got further away. "D'you think we could go hunting for spiders? I saw a neat tarantula the other day... it was crawling on Mr. Dom... you should have heard him scream!"

Dianne looked up, startled, as she heard the infirmary door swish shut. "A spider? On Dom? Scream?" She quickly found and opened his medical file. Damn. The man's an arachnophobe... no wonder why he's been looking stressed. She glanced toward the door, then got up and went in pursuit of her progeny. I'd better warn Alex: no spider hunting!

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2112 is a reply to message #2111] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 8/29/2006 9:07 PM

Monday, July 30; 11:15 AM; Tracy Island

Jeff opened the email he'd gotten that had made him frown earlier, and reread it.


Parker was in contact with the Paris agent, who reported that Brains arrived at his hotel safely. But he then told me that some other people were watching and following your young genius. I felt it necessary to look into the situation myself, under the guise of visiting François Lemaire.

I thought you should know there were a number of attempts by the Hightowers to kidnap Brains. None of them came even close to succeeding, often due to your engineer himself. He'd accidentally knock over a martini (Yes, you read that correctly; he was brought a martini, during a dinner with Professor Borrender. I was surprised, too.) that had been drugged, or turn to go back and retrieve something he'd forgotten a split second before he was going to be grabbed. He was never aware that anyone was after him. If it wasn't so serious, it would have been laughable.

I am certain that the Hightowers were behind the attempts, since Giles himself tried to take a hand in the last one, at the airport. But Parker, the Paris agent, and I were able to foil that one, and he left Paris safely.

I plan to advise Mrs. Matumbo, also, lest word get back to her via other channels, and she try to retaliate. She did say something to me when she was here about a promise she made to the Hightowers. I don't think it will be necessary this time, so I'd like to let her know that.

I won't tell her until after Brains leaves to return to Tracy Island. I wouldn't want to spoil his visit with her.

Please give my best to all of your family.


He sat back to think about the repercussions of this latest attempt by the Hightowers, and what kind of security measures might be necessary to put in place.


Startled, he looked up to see his wife standing in front of him.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2113 is a reply to message #2112] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 8/30/2006 8:59 PM

Monday, July 30, 2068, 11:40 a.m., Tracy Island

"Did I startle you?" Dianne asked, smiling.

"I'll admit I was surprised," Jeff replied.

"So was I when the kids did the same thing to me," Dianne said with a chuckle. She hitched her behind up on a corner of his desk. "So, what are you up to, Mr. Tracy?"

"Thinking over some more security procedures," he told her, angling his screen in her direction. "Seems that Brains has a guardian angel or two, and one of them is named Penelope."

Dianne scanned the email, then shook her head. "Martini? He's getting adventurous, isn't he?"

"Either that, or there are still a few things about our Brains that we don't know," Jeff replied.

"Seems so. And I think she's wise not to tell Lena until Brains is on his way home. That lady is too sharp... and very protective to boot. I'd hate to see how she'd retaliate."

"I'm glad she's on our side," Jeff replied. He leaned back in his chair. "So, why did the kids sneak up on you?"

"To 'remind' me that I told them we'd take them to the ranch, and to the place in New Hampshire during the school break."

Jeff frowned. "Did you tell them this? Because I don't remember doing it."

Dianne rolled her eyes. "Yes, I told them. I told Cherie that we'd try to get back to the ranch this summer, and Alex that we'd try to take him to the New Hampshire cottage."

"The key word being 'try'." Jeff sounded irritated.

"Yes," Dianne replied, matching his tone. "But it's not a bad idea, Jeff. Especially with the situation in Greenville." She sighed. "I mean, my brother is moving; my mother does not want to move with him. With Garrett hanging around, there's a very good chance that she'll stay here with Kyrano. If she does, then what happens to the kids' friendships? They won't have that base to go to in Greenville. It will fall to us to keep the kids in touch." She folded her arms. "And it's natural that they'd want to see the new place."

Jeff blew out a frustrated breath. "With Virgil's birthday coming up, and the logistical problems that are likely to arise from that... I don't know if I can deal with another couple weeks away."

"We're only going away overnight for Virgil's birthday, love," Dianne said. "And I've already told the kids that we can't schedule any trips until after that." She unfolded her arms and reached out to put her hand on the desk top. "We can do another vacation, can't we? The ones we've had this summer have had ulterior motives, y'know. It'd be nice to just have a vacation with the little guys. Make some memories."

Jeff sighed, sat up, and reached to cover her hand with his. "All right. I'll start making arrangements."

She shook her head. "No. I'll handle it, or pass it on to Jeanette. You keep your mind focused on the family business... both of them."

He smiled. "Okay. I'll leave it with you."

She stood, and folded her arms again, moving to a chair nearby. "I didn't come up here just for that."


"Yes. I came up to ask your opinion on something."

He leaned back again. "I'm listening."

She paused to gather her thoughts. "Well, you know that I've been doing quite a bit of psychiatric treatment and counseling lately. Tyler, Elise, Callie... and those are just the most recent ones."

He nodded, and she went on. "I have to admit, this isn't my specialty, Jeff. And I'm wondering how effective it's been. If there's something I don't want to do, it's make a poor decision on treatment and end up either doing nothing to help or exacerbate the problem."

"So, what do you propose to do?"

She shifted in her chair. "I'm not sure. I seem to have two options. One is to go back to school and pick up some more coursework in psychiatry; get licensed in it officially."

"The other?"

"To bring in someone more experienced to help." She cocked her head, looking at him with a questioning expression. "What do you think?"

"Hmm." Jeff tapped his stylus against his chin. "The second option is a bit chancy, I'd think. Security issues and all."

Dianne shook her head. "If we bring in someone from the outside, they'll be bound by confidentiality rules, just like I am. And don't we have someone among our agents who would fill the bill?"

He shook his head. "No, we don't. I've been hearing from a lot of our agents lately with the search for new recruits and no one has those qualifications." He grinned. "Why do you think I had to go looking outside for a doctor in the first place?"

She sat back, and folded her arms again, giving him a teasing, raised eyebrow. "Really."

"Yes, really. Only a couple of doctors on the team, and those were researchers of Brains's acquaintance. They're doing some very ground-breaking work, and are much more interested in that than switching to a mere 'family practice'. Plus, they'd have had to go back and pick up the general practitioner's license, from what I understood. I wanted someone who already had the qualifications."

"Yes, they'd probably have had to do that, depending on their coursework and what they'd done their residency in." She sighed again. "So, you think I should go back and take some more courses?"

Jeff regarded her as he thought for a long moment, then shook his head. "I think you have too much on your plate to do that." He got up and moved to one of the couches, and she rose to join him. "How would you approach this? Get recommendations? Advertise within Tracy Industries? Outside of Tracy Industries?"

"Well," she began, "I don't see the need for a full-timer, someone to live on the island. There wouldn't be enough for them to do. Maybe someone close by that we could schedule appointments with. Someone in New Zealand, Sydney... maybe as far away as Singapore. Perhaps they could come out to the island for small periods of time. I'd want someone qualified in counseling with people who work in rescue situations; that's important. A master's degree or higher. Someone who would work with me as far as prescribing medicines is concerned." She smiled and gave him a little poke in the arm. "As for where to start looking, I'll start where you did: with Uncle Drew. Since he knows the situation now, he'd be able to really pinpoint the best people."

Jeff chuckled, and poked her back. "Sounds like you've got this worked out. When do you want to start?"

"I'll call Drew as soon as the timezones align and I know he's at home," she said. Her voice dropped as she added, "What do you want to do about revealing the true scope of our business?"

He took her hand. "I think that in order to truly help our people, whoever we choose will have to know it all," he said. "As you've said, they'll be legally and morally bound to keep our secret."

"Would you make them an agent?"

Jeff sounded thoughtful. "I don't know. I'll have to think about that."

"Good enough." She snuggled closer, and he let go of her hand to slide an arm around her shoulders. "Mmmm. I could stay here all day."

"So could I," Jeff murmured. They sat quietly like that for a little while, then Dianne shifted and turned her face towards him. He responded by kissing her once, and again. He stood slowly, stretching, then offered her a hand up from the couch.

"It's almost time for lunch," he commented as he went back around his desk and clicked Penelope's email closed. "And I'm hungry."

Dianne eyed him speculatively. "Hungry for what?"

"Hungry for food, unfortunately," he said, giving her a rueful smile. "And both of us have a lot of work to do this afternoon."

She sighed wistfully. "You're right. But this evening..."

"In the Jacuzzi," he told her. "Wash away the day's cares in the very best way possible."

"You have a date." They joined hands for the walk down to the dining room. "When do you plan to announce Virgil's birthday celebration plans?" she asked. "The ladies that go will have to order finery, you know."

"I know. I'll compose the email for the recruits, and make the announcement to the family tomorrow night over dinner," he said.

"Not tonight?"

Jeff shook his head. "No, might as well wait until everyone's home." He made a face. "I hope we get enough volunteers to stay and be on call."

"If not, we'll go with plan B and send a few back in TB1 after the shindig," Dianne said. "I'm sure you'll find enough people to agree to that."

"I hope so."

At this moment, they entered the dining room and were greeted by their family, who was gathered for the noon meal.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2114 is a reply to message #2113] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Monday, July 30, 2068, 7:30 p.m., London, England (6:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 31, Tracy Island)

Jacques slammed down the phone, and swore.

"No sign of him?" Desdemona asked as she poured herself a second brandy.

"No, none... the bloody bastard!" Jacques growled. "He was released on bail, which he took from the business account, and promptly left Paris. He took the Orient Express as far as Budapest, then seems to have disappeared."

"Have you checked his aliases?" she asked, handing him a whiskey.

"As many of them as I know," Jacques replied. He sipped the drink, and handed her a small data pad. "Those are the ones I've checked so far. Are there any others?"

Dez scrolled down through the list, and a small smile spread over her lips. "Yes, I believe I know of two that aren't on this list." She moved behind him and to his hutch style computer desk. "Let me have a go at him."

Jacques paced up and down, drink in hand, as Dez went looking for traces of Giles. He had just knocked the last of it back when Dez suddenly straightened and, sounding positively predatory, said, "I have him."



"That Fatma woman."

"Very likely." She looked up at Jacques, who had moved to sit behind his wide business desk. "What do you plan to do?"

Jacques picked up the phone. "Cut off his supply first, then have Ahmed 'return' him to England - in one piece, though I will allow for some 'in transit damage'. Giles has much to answer for."

Dez smiled widely. "I'm looking forward to making him pay."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2115 is a reply to message #2114] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/2/2006 11:58 AM

Tuesday, July 31, 2068, 8:30 a.m., Tracy Island

"Dr. Tracy?"

"Yes, Kyrano?"

"You have a phone call. It is Dr. Carmichael."

Dianne glanced up at the retainer and smiled. "Thanks, Kyrano.
I'll take it in the lounge."

Kyrano smiled back, refilled her coffee, and moved away. Jeff gave his wife a quizzical look. "I thought you were going to call him yesterday."

"I did," she said as she rose, taking up her cup and saucer. "He was out of town. I guess this is the first time he's had available to call." She glanced at her watch. "It must be half past one there... yesterday afternoon."

"Ah, okay." Jeff nodded. "Tell him 'hello' for me."

"For me, too," said Lisa from further down the table.

"I will." Dianne leaned over to give Jeff a kiss, then went off to take her call.

She put her cup and saucer down on Jeff's desk, then answered the light but insistent chimes of the vidphone. Drew Carmichael's face came into view, and Dianne winced to see how tired he looked.

"Hey, Uncle Drew," she said. "You look whipped."

He snorted. "And a good morning to you, too, Dianne. I should look whipped. I just got home from Kyrgyzstan as part of my Doctors Without Borders responsibilities. It was a long trip, and I'm ready to hit the hay. But I figured I should answer your call. What's up?"

"Oh, Uncle Drew," Dianne said in sympathy. "I didn't know about the trip. How'd it go?"

"Pretty well, actually, once we got the translation problems licked. We sent a team out to visit the clinics in several small villages, providing transportation and assistance to the local doctors. They were having trouble getting to the more remote places."

Dianne smiled. "Sounds exhausting. My problem can wait."

Drew sighed. "It was exhausting, but if I can do something for you, I'd rather do it now. I'm here; I'm fairly coherent, and I'd sleep better knowing that I'd at least listened to your problem and set things in motion if possible. So, tell me all."

"Well..." Dianne told him about her concern over the number of counseling patients she had recently taken on, giving him only general details on the specific patients involved, telling him what she wanted in a counselor, and winding up with, "'s just not my field, Drew, and I'm feel like I'm not providing the level of care needed."

"Hmm." Drew looked thoughtful. "I can see your point. I can think of a few people off the top of my head, and it probably would be better if I emailed you their information. How far afield are you willing to go?"

Dianne thought for a moment. "Sydney is probably as far as we should go, though if I can find someone in New Zealand, that would be far better in terms of travel time."

He nodded. "All right. I've got a list of names which I'll pass on to my secretary, and she'll email you the details today so you can get started. Then, I am going to have a good meal and hit the hay." He yawned widely. "If none of the names I suggest work out, let me know."

"I will."

He paused, then added seriously, "Maggie says she got a call from Garrett. He was looking for me at first, then he asked if he could have your number. Maggie didn't give it to him. She tried to call Lisa to warn her, and didn't find her home." He frowned. "What's going on there, Di?"

Dianne sighed. "Garrett's back in Greenville. He's... he says he's trying to make amends. He started with Dougie, and seems to have made some inroads there, but he's also been watching Mom's house, calling her... stalking is the word I'd use. He even confronted her in the grocery store when she was with my kids."

She shook her head. "I don't know what to think. But she's here right now, and safe. What happens when Dougie moves is anyone's guess."

"Doug is moving?" Drew sounded surprised.

"Yeah. He got a promotion, and a transfer. Mom has already said she's not going with him, but with Garrett sniffing around, she may not want to stay in Greenville, either."

"Tell her she's welcome here at any time," Drew said stoutly.

Dianne smiled. "She knows that. We're waiting to hear what the Tracy Industries security people find out about Garrett -- see if this whole 'amends' business is legit or if he's got some ulterior motive. Then Mom can make a more informed decision."

"Good move." Drew yawned again, but Dianne could hear the tapping of computer keys in the background. "Tell her I'll call her later... when I'm more awake. I hope you find someone from this list. You've got some pretty stiff qualifications here."

"I'll pass on the message, and I'll let you know. And thank Maggie for me. I appreciate her discretion."

"I will, but don't be a stranger, either. Give her a call. You know that she'd love to just chew the fat with you for a while."

"I'll call her soon; I promise. Hopefully I can get some phone interviews done and set up some face-to-face ones for the 2nd. I've got to make a trip then to Christchurch to talk with our pharmaceuticals provider."

"All right. You'll be hearing from my secretary soon. I'll talk to you later, Di."

"Talk to you soon, Uncle Drew. Get some sleep... and thanks."

"I will. Give my regards to Jeff."

"He sends his to you. Oh, and Mom sends her love."

Drew smiled wearily. "Give her mine right back."

"I will. Bye, Uncle Drew."


The call disconnected, and Dianne sat back, sipping her now cold coffee. "Well, just have to wait for the email, then get on the horn to some of these people. At least they'll be in a more convenient time zone."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2116 is a reply to message #2115] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: susanmartha Sent: 9/2/2006 1:48 PM

Tuesday, July 31, 2068, 3pm. Christchurch, New Zealand

Anna packed the last picture in the box and looked around the office. Nothing was left to show she had ever been here. "No, that's not true. All of the files on my patients are still here and I did make a difference," she sighed. "Even if it seemed like nothing ever changed. People got better and left and someone else took their place. It's an ever flowing stream and I was just a tree on the bank." She grinned, wryly. "As long as it doesn't wash my roots away again."

She'd stopped accepting new patients 6 months ago and had been transferring her remaining clients to other therapists who worked for the city. For the past 2 months she had been sharing her office with her replacement. Today she had seen her last patient for the city.

The actual retirement party had been 3 months ago, when she went part time. Now she started to carry her belongings out to the car. She made it about 3 feet before she was stopped.

"You shouldn't be carrying that." Officer Dean Thomas grabbed the box from her and headed towards the elevator. "Isn't it over your weight limit?"

I don't have a 'weight limit'." She grinned. "I just can't carry it for more than 15 minutes at a time."

"The kids were asking about you the other day. John still has a couple of your books." Dean had been wounded during a convenience store robbery 5 years ago. He had fired back and killed the shooter. She had spent time with the entire family, sometimes as a counselor, sometimes just looking after the 3 kids so Mom could take a break or go with Dean to his doctor's appointments. She had totally corrupted John, then 11, by bringing him some of her favorite young adult fantasy and mystery books. "You know he's already read all of the sci-fi and mystery books in the school library. And this from a kid one of his teachers said was 'retarded'."

"I wouldn't insult people with any sort of disability by calling that teacher retarded. She is just plain stupid and an ass."

They reached Anna's car and she opened the trunk. "All I really did was give him something he thought was worth reading. Most of the books she wanted them to read talked down to the kids. She wasn't even following the school's recommend reading list for 6th graders. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Why does it attract so many idiots?"

"Same reason we get them once in a while. Too many idiots." Dean closed the trunk and leaned against the car for a moment.

"Well, John is always welcome to come over and borrow any of my books he wants. Just make sure someone else comes with him or that both Ryan and I are there." She gave him a long look. "And you know you can give me a call if the nightmares come back."

"So what will you be doing now that you're retired? Work with kids some more? Start a private practice? Take up gardening?" Dean grinned. Anna's ability to kill any plant she tried to grow was a running joke around the office.

"I don't know. I want to volunteer more, or do something to get me out of the house. Maybe take on a few private patients. Some extra income would be nice. I wonder if Habitat for Humanity is still asking for people to help with rebuilding after the tsunami. Although I can't swing a hammer very long these days."

Pounding nails into wood was a wonderful way to get rid of stress. And seeing something you helped build being used by someone who really needed it gave a much needed boast to her morale. But there was no way she could swing a hammer for more than 20 minutes, nowadays. "They would probably put me to work helping the other volunteers deal with the stress." And I don't think I could handle doing that full time any more. "People never realize how stressful it can be working with people who have lost everything. Especially when it seems like you're not doing enough and never making any progress."

"Whatever you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy it." Dean moved away from the car. "What was that saying about God you always quoted?"

She started the car and released the brake. "God has a weird sense of humor." She pulled out of her slot and onto the street.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2117 is a reply to message #2116] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/2/2006 6:48 PM

July 31, 2068, 3:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Jeff looked up as Dianne and Lisa came into the lounge. He took one more look at his computer screen, nodded, then smiled at the two women. Lisa gave him a small, nervous smile back, while Dianne approached the desk.

"How did your phone interviews go?"

Dianne shook her head. "Don't ask. I'm finally getting places by using my name instead of yours, but the two men I've talked to were less than enthusiastic about coming out to the island. They have well-established practices and don't want to leave their patient load for any length of time." She shrugged. "I can understand it, really. I do have an appointment for a face-to-face interview on the second with the head of the psychiatric department at the Christchurch School of Medicine. It's a branch of the University of Otego. We'll see how that goes."

"Do you have any more calls to make?"

"Yes. A member of the faculty at the Otego's Wellington branch, a couple of people in Auckland, and three more in Christchurch. Private practices mostly. I'm hoping to set up at least two more face-to-face interviews for the second, though I could handle four more at the most."

"Sounds like you'll have a busy day in Christchurch."

"Yes. No rest for the weary." She tried to get a look at Jeff's computer screen, but he had minimized the window. "Should we get started?"

Jeff shook his head. "We're waiting for Kyrano. I think he should be here. He was in the midst of a chore, and said he'd be a few more minutes."

"Oh." Dianne leaned up against his desk and said, "You had a great response to the announcement."

Jeff chuckled. "Yes, I did. I've got a couple of responses to my email invitation, too."

At lunch, Jeff had stood up and called for the family's attention.

"I wanted to take a moment and invite you all to join us for Virgil's birthday party. It will be a dressy dinner and dance party, to be held in the dining room of the Paradise Peaks hotel, on August 15." He glanced around the table at the delighted faces and waited until the excited chatter died down before continuing. "Now, I will tell you that though everyone is invited -- yes, that means you children, too -- I will need some volunteers to either stay behind, or return early. Thunderbird One will be flown to Paradise Peaks and hidden nearby, kept in readiness for those who are willing to come back and man the base -- or for any rescue that might be called in."

"Well, I'll be staying behind, that's for sure," John had piped up, smiling wryly. "Kind of hard to send a taxi to come get me."

"I'm sorry about that, John," Virgil had said sincerely. "When we first planned this, you weren't scheduled to be in Five..."

John had held up a hand. "Don't worry about it, Virge. I got to go to the ranch, and this way, Callie gets to celebrate her birthday with her family, as is only fair. I'm not complaining, just joking around."

"Well, we'll miss you," Dianne had said.

"Some of us in particular," Gordon had muttered, raising his eyebrows at John from across the table. John, to his credit, had merely colored a little. After lunch, however, there had come the sound of Gordon yelling, "Hey! Don't!" followed by a large splash.

"So, who has said what amongst our new recruits?" Dianne asked.

"Dom has said he'd stay, and so has Brandon," Jeff told her. "No one else has responded yet, with RSVP or the decision to stay here. I asked them to tell me either way, and if they'd be okay with coming back early should they decide to go."

At that moment, Kyrano entered the room. He nodded to Jeff and Dianne, and went to sit next to Lisa, taking her hand in both of his and whispering something in her ear. Her whole demeanor, which had been a tight bracing for the worst, relaxed, and she nodded at Jeff. Jeff indicated with his glance that Dianne should also sit, and she did, taking a chair where she could see both her husband and her mother easily.

Jeff came out from behind his desk, turning his computer screen so he could easily see it from where he stood, leaning up against the front. He maximized the window he had been looking at earlier, and glanced at it once more. Then he took a deep breath, and began.

"I asked you here to discuss with you the results of the investigation I had our security people make into Garrett Parkhurst. I was as concerned as you were about this man's motives and the timing of his reappearance in your life, Lisa, especially since he didn't seem to have any qualms about invading your privacy with his phone calls and personal contact." He paused to moisten his lips with his tongue. "I wish I could say I have good news, and that this man really seems to be sincere in making amends with his family, but... from the information presented to me by our people, I'm afraid I can't."

Lisa leaned closer to Kyrano, who kept her hand in one of his, and let go with the other, slipping it instead behind her back. There was a long moment of quiet, until finally, Lisa asked softly, "What did they find?"

"Well, he's been living in Biloxi, and has been working for the city in their parks landscaping maintenance department. He specializes in trees; pruning, planting, and generally taking care of them in the city's parks. He remarried about twenty years ago, and has two children by his second wife who is twenty years his junior. He's a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and volunteers at the local homeless shelter."

"Sounds like he's turned his life around," Dianne muttered, shifting in her seat and folding her arms, frowning. I do not like the fact that I have a couple of half siblings out there somewhere.

"It does, doesn't it?" Lisa said softly.

"It sounds as if he has," Jeff said, nodding.

"Ah hear a 'but' in theyah, Jeff," Dianne replied, a bit of satisfaction in her tone.

"Yes. There's a 'but'," Jeff said, sighing. "I had my people look deeper. It seems that Garrett is in some financial hot water. He's got a heavy debt load, and his wife, who seems to be a compulsive gambler, has lost heavily at the casinos. Foreclosure proceedings have started on their house, and there have been some police reports of domestic violence calls. He's been arrested twice, and she's been arrested once, but the charges were either dismissed or the sentence reduced to community service and anger management counseling. Right now, he's on an 'emergency family leave' from his work; they believe he's..." Jeff paused and shook his head. "They think he's visiting his ailing daughter from his first marriage."

Garrett and his motives, part 1

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Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2118 is a reply to message #2117] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/2/2006 6:53 PM

Garrett and his motives, part 2

Dianne's eyes grew wide with disbelief, as did Lisa's, while Kyrano's face was a study in maintaining a serene control at this staggering news. He rubbed Lisa's upper arm and shoulder in a comforting fashion.

"He lied to them?" Kyrano asked carefully.

"Yes, basically. His leave is for 30 days, and it seems that's why he's been pushing so hard to get to us," Jeff said. "That's also probably the reason he hasn't bothered to contact and hold out the olive branch to Jared; he doesn't have enough time to get up to Boston and 'make amends' in person."

"Besides," Dianne said, shaking her head, "Jared's olduh. He remembers moah. He's not as gullible as Dougie is."

Lisa closed her eyes and shook her head at Dianne's assessment of Doug. "Ah know you wish Ah could've pounded moah sense into that boy's head when he was a boy, Dianne, but as hard as Ah tried, theyah was no tellin' him anythin'."

Before Dianne could reply, Jeff spoke up again. "Let's not discuss Douglas here and now. He hasn't given Garrett our private number, and we can be grateful for that favor." He glanced down at the screen again. "According to Dianne, he also called Andrew, and spoke to Maggie, asking how to call us. Jeanette, who forwarded the file to me, added a note that Garrett has called, complaining that he had difficulty even reaching her office. He asked for our number, saying he was my "father-in-law" and wanted to talk to you, Lisa. So he knows you're here."

There was a moment of silence, then, at the same time, Dianne asked, "What's our next move?" and Kyrano asked, "What do you think he will do?"

Jeff smiled slightly. "Kyrano, I'll answer your question first. I don't know what he'll do, but I think that he's persistent enough to keep trying... at least, until we do something to make him stop." He paused. "As far as what our next move is, part of that depends on you, Lisa, and part depends on Doug."

"On Doug?" Dianne asked, a confused frown on her face.

"Yes." Jeff spread his hands out. "Despite all this evidence that he's looking for money, there is still the real possibility that Garrett's also looking to make amends. The real test of that will be: what does he do after Doug moves? Does he keep in touch? Does he try to be part of Doug's life? If so, then we have some evidence that he's sincerely trying to build bridges. However, if he just drops out of Doug's life as quickly and thoroughly as he dropped back into it, we have a good indication that it was just money he was after, and he was using Doug as a stepping stone to the one who he thought would be able to provide."

"You," Lisa murmured.

"Yes, me." Jeff gave his mother-in-law a long, thoughtful look. "Lisa, tell me tfully: are you afraid of this man?"

Lisa was quiet for a moment, but finally she took a deep breath and said, "Yes." She wrapped her arms around herself even ask Kyrano drew her nearer. "His reappearance... the way he found out everythin' he could, the way he kept me guessing an' off-guard... just to know that he was watchin' the house gave me chills. It's brought back all those bad memories of owah marriage." She shook her head. "Ah... Ah don't think Ah can go back. Not to live. Not if he can find me. Between him and the memories... Ah just can't."

Dianne got up and went to her mother, crouching down before Lisa. "Ah understand, Ma. Ah really do. It's like me an' Rick, only mah memories are good ones -- good but sad." She took her mother's free hand. "You know yoah welcome heah. An' Uncle Drew says yoah welcome theyah, too. Jared would have you in a minute if'n you said somethin'."

Lisa smiled softly. "Ah know." She squeezed both Dianne's hand, and Kyrano's, and leaned her head against Kyrano's shoulder for a moment. Then she straightened, and looked over at Jeff. "Speakin' of Jared, Ah s'pose we should tell him about all this... if'n he doesn't know already."

Jeff walked over to his mother-in-law, and crouched down beside Dianne, who shifted to look at him. "Yes, we will. If you want, I can forward the report to Doug as well."

"Don' know as it'll do any good," Lisa said with a sigh. "When he gets it in his head to think one way, takes a lot o' convincin' to bring him 'round to anybody else's way o' thinkin'."

"In othuh words, Jeff, if'n Doug believes what Garrett told him, he'll go on believin' it, rathuh than look like a fool foah believin' it in the first place," Dianne explained. "He'll stubbornly cling t' what he thinks is right, and if'n you do get through to him with cold, hard facts, he look at you like yoah meddlin'... even if he has to admit yoah right." She shook her head. "Ah have no idea wheah he gets that from."

The two men exchanged glances, and Jeff smiled a little. "Well then, I'll leave it up to you how much to tell him, Lisa. I did think that if he knew for sure that money was one of Garrett's objectives, he'd refuse to give out any more information."

"Perhaps it would be better if he were simply asked not to do so," Kyrano suggested. "Lisa has enough reasons to ask this of him without bringing in the report."

"Better make it clear, too, that if Garrett asks him foah money, Doug's not t' be comin' and askin' us," Dianne said sharply. "Ah wouldn't put it past him t' ask Doug t' be a go-between, or force him into such a position."

"Yes. We'll have to do that." Jeff rose, and took Dianne by the hand to help her to her feet. "It looks to me, Lisa, like you've made one decision: to leave Greenville. Once you've decided where you're going to go, I'll be more than happy to help you with selling the house and business. I can hire people to pack everything up for you, too. Whatever you like."

Lisa nodded. "Thank you, Jeff. Ah appreciate all you've done so far. Ah think Ah need t' call Jared, then bend Drew's ear foah awhile, too."

"Better wait until tomorrow on Drew, Ma," Dianne said. "He's just come back from a long trip."

"Then I'll chat with Maggie. She's got more brains than he does." Lisa scooted forward on the couch, a signal for Kyrano to get to his feet and help her up. "I'll talk with you both later, Jeff, Di."

"Later, Ma," Dianne murmured as Kyrano offered his arm and the two older folks left the room. When they had gone, she turned to her husband. "Jeff, isn't there anything we can do on a legal front?"

"If he keeps harassing her, yes." Jeff put his arms around her waist. "And we can make sure we're protected from any possible lawsuit or action he might bring against us. But be prepared, love, in case he's sincere about making amends. Like I said, it'll show in his reaction to Doug."

"I know." She laid her head on Jeff's shoulder for a moment, sliding her arms around his back. They stood that way, his cheek resting on her forehead, then she lifted her face for a kiss, and said, "I'd better get back to making those calls. The sooner I get on them, the sooner I'll have the appointments."

"Okay, love. I'll see you at dinner, then."

"If not before." Dianne moved toward the study, while Jeff returned to his desk. "Thanks, Jeff.. And thank those security people for me. They did a great job."

Jeff nodded, and Dianne left. He sat back down with a sigh, and turned his computer screen around again. "Now, to start the ball rolling for Lisa's upcoming move... no matter where she decides to go."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2119 is a reply to message #2118] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: TracyFan4Ever Sent: 9/5/2006 7:57 PM

******Tuesday, July 31, 2068; Tracy Island; 4 p.m. local time******

Callie was working on an experiment with Brains and Tin-Tin in the lab. They had broken down the fuel from the King of Thailand's private plane into its component parts. They had tried numerous combinations to counteract effects on any environment.

"Wow, look at the time! We've been working on it for over three hours straight since we left lunch," said Callie.

"I know," Brains said, "but we must see if there's any way to neutralize the fuel before it affects the environment."

Tin-Tin patted his shoulder. "Brains, you need to stop and rest. It won't do us any good if we keep working too hard. We will continue with this tomorrow."

With a nod, Callie agreed. "Sure. We'll figure out the solution together. Besides, we don't want you ending up in the infirmary for a nervous breakdown."

Brains took off his glasses and rubbed his forehead with his other hand. "I suppose you're both right. That's one of my biggest weaknesses. When I start working on something, I don't like to stop until it's done."

Taking a deep breath, Callie asked, "Could I ask you both a question?"

Brains and Tin-Tin looked at each other and then at Callie. "Of course you can, Callie," answered Tin-Tin. "Is something bothering you?"

"Well...yes. I need to know something because I'm what the two of you were: victims of the Hood."

"Ah, you want to know what that was like, how it felt," said Brains. "Believe me when I say it was not really fun. He started with his eyes, those glowing yellow eyes. Once he had me under his power, I basically passed out and didn't know where I was or anything. The only thing on my mind was water. I didn't know what had happened until after Scott found me not too far from Lake Anasta. Gordon showed up later and helped get me out of the sand. Seeing those trailers nearby helped me establish where I was."

Tin-Tin said, "As for me, I was a victim twice. The first time was also in the desert near Lake Anasta, where all he really did was render me unconscious. Those glowing eyes caused that to happen to me. The second time was when he tried to take over my mind and force the information from me just recently. I didn't know where it came from, but I felt the searing pain of his presence."

"And to think," Brains said, "we thought Kyrano had strange seizures and convulsions. We could never figure out exactly what happened after the doctor was called in and found nothing wrong with him. It took us a couple of years to realize that it was his own brother causing the seizures."

Callie shook her head. "I never thought I'd become one of his victims. He sure caught me by surprise."

Patting her shoulder, Brains said, "Remember that the Hood is a master of disguise. He knows how to surprise his victims very well."

"Maybe, but I had a frightening dream the night before last. Everyone in IR was after me because I almost gave away the names. If Dom hadn't found me in time..." She hung her head in shame.

"Please, Callie," said Tin-Tin, "you cannot let this haunt you for the rest of your life. You have friends with whom you can share your troubles."

"I know, but it's not easy for me to open up to strangers. My family is one thing, but people I've known for just over six months is another matter."

"Just think of us as an extended family," said Brains. "We'll always be there for each other."

With a slight smile Callie said, "Thanks. I'm glad to know I do have friends I can count on here. It may take me a little while to overcome the fear of what the Hood did to me, but at least I'm not alone."

"Yes, you are surrounded by friends," Tin-Tin said. "We will stop for today and continue this tomorrow morning... after breakfast, Brains."

"Okay, okay, Tin-Tin, I'll have my breakfast first. It's never good to do research on an empty stomach anyway."

The three engineers cleaned the materials, shut down the computers for the day, and walked out of the lab to relax.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2120 is a reply to message #2119] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tawnyangel22 Sent: 9/6/2006 2:08 AM

Tracy Island -- July 31st -- evening

John was sitting in Kat's apartment. She had cooked him a meal of stuffed tomatoes, followed by a mushroom and cheese soufflé and fresh fruit. Now they were sitting side by side on the long sofa, enjoying a quiet drink.

"I'm sorry that I'll be leaving tomorrow," he said, "but I guess now you understand my reasons. Callie was so grateful."

She nodded. She still felt ashamed of her earlier behaviour with Callie and subsequently with John. But now that was all in the past. "Yes. When I apologised to her, she told me how kind it was of you. And how nice you are." She grinned at him. "But of course I knew that already."

John smiled, colouring slightly at her remark. Standing up, he went and looked out of the French windows. "I know it's fairly cool, but let's go for a walk on the beach."

Putting a sweater on, she followed him out of her apartment.

They walked together to the monorail, headed for the pool and down the steps to the beach. He held her hand. There was no moon but a myriad of stars were sparkling in the velvety blackness.

"You'll be up there amongst them tomorrow." She sounded wistful. "I wish sometimes that I could visit Thunderbird Five."

He squeezed her hand. "Maybe some day you will."

They continued walking, just enjoying each other's company. There seemed to be no need for conversation.

I wish this night would go on forever, she thought.

"When I return in September, I'll make sure that we spend as much time together as possible," he said.

"I'd like that too," she replied softly.

They wandered slowly along the beach deep in thought.

He really likes me and I like him, she thought.

Breaking into her thoughts, he stopped and faced her. "I'm sorry, Kat, but we'll have to go back now. I've an early start tomorrow morning."

They turned and headed back towards the Villa. For a while, Kat was very quiet, then, "I'll miss you, John," she said.

"I'll miss you too. But we can communicate as we did before. This time I'll try and contact you more often."

Arriving back at her apartment, she said, "Take care, John. I'll be counting the days until September."

He smiled at her as he let go of her hand, and bidding her goodnight, turned and headed back to the villa.

Later that night as he was packing his overnight case, John felt content. I'm doing the right thing, he thought with a smile. Callie will be able to spend her birthday with her family. Kat and I will stay in touch, and we'll plan some nice things to do together when I return.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2121 is a reply to message #2120] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/6/2006 1:37 PM

Wednesday, August 1, 2068, 12:30 p.m., Thunderbird Five

"Thunderbird Five from Thunderbird Three, requesting permission to dock."

Alan grinned. "Permission granted, Thunderbird Three. And may I say that you are sight for sore eyes?"

"You may say it." Callie's voice came back, sounding amused. The vid portion switched on, and there she was, looking back at him.

"You're a sight for sore eyes," Alan shot right back.

He waited, staring at the clock until he felt the familiar "thump" that told him - even more surely than the feminine-voiced announcement - that, "Docking is complete. Docking bay is sealed."

"Boo yah!" he cried, punching the air. "Nicely done, Ursa."

"Aw, shucks," Callie said. "Nothing to it. It's easier than parallel parking."

"There are a lot of things easier than parallel parking," John chimed in. "Gravity and atmosphere controls on. You'd better get the float, Indy. We've got a lot of freight this time."

"F-A-B," Alan said. "I'll be out to meet you two in just a minute."

He put his hands-free communicator in his ear, and headed over to the ladder near the lift connecting the station's two inhabitable levels. Climbing down the first few rungs, he dropped to the floor once clear of the hatchway, and went off to the storage area to pull out the antigravity float. He knew that he, Callie and John would be here for a few hours yet; putting things away, refilling the water tanks and removing the trash and used water for recycling/filtering down on the island. He had a couple of items for John to watch out for rescue-wise, and truthfully, he just wanted to sit down and jaw with his brother for a bit.

He waited at the airlocks between the docking bay and the access arm, giving the space scanner's controls a quick once over while he was there. All the scanner's lights were green across the board. He looked up when he heard the hiss of the airlock to his left. The door slid open, and John stepped out, followed by Callie, who was carrying a small cooler.

"Hey!" Alan cried, coming forward to embrace his brother and thump him on the back. "It's good to see you!" He glanced over at Callie. "And you, too, Callie." He stepped over to her and gave her a light hug.

"Good to see you, too, Alan," John said with a grin. "Before we get started, have you had lunch yet?"

"No, I haven't," Alan admitted. "I was hoping we could eat it together and talk before getting down to the nitty gritty of station transfer."

"Well, then," Callie said, hefting the cooler. "Let's eat."

Over the meal, which they ate in the station's more spacious lounge as opposed to its tiny galley, John and Callie brought Alan up-to-date on some of the goings on down on Tracy Island.

"Did Nikki get back safely?" Alan asked.

Callie nodded. "She and Brains got home early yesterday morning. We met up in the workout room and she said she had a good time. Her mother organized a surprise party for her."

"Sounds good," Alan replied. His voice got softer and he asked, "How are you holding up, Callie?"

Callie gave him a small smile. "I'm... okay, I guess. Looking forward to going home and resting up there." She turned to John. "Thanks again for swapping with me, John. I'm sorry that I put you through so much grief over the argument with Kat."

Sighing, she added, "With what happened in the jungle, I'm especially glad to have the extra month to... to get myself together before coming back up here."

"You're welcome, Callie," John replied, nodding and smiling softly. "I hope the time away helps."

"Well, guys," Alan said, standing up. "This has been fun, but we've got work to do, and I for one am looking forward to one of Kyrano's dinners."

John and Callie both chuckled, and with that, the three astronauts got up to start the transfer of cargo, preparing for the eventual transfer of personnel.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2122 is a reply to message #2121] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/6/2006 2:49 PM

Wednesday, August 1 2068. 12:30 p.m.. Tracy Island.

A bird squawked loudly overhead and flew off in the direction of Mateo Island. The leaves of the plam it had been resting in shook sharply as it took off, before being rocked to calmness again by the breeze. A lone blue feather floated down and landed on the paving around the pool. Joshua went to investigate, accompanied by Horsey. It was one of the warmer days of the Tracy Island winter -- not that it ever got particularly cold -- and Dominic had taken his son out for a little fresh air and exercise, before the Irishman would settle the child down for his afternoon nap, before beginning the arduous task of ironing; there was a lot to be done. Sometimes I wish I could let him run around starkers all day. It'd save on the washing and ironing -- oh, how I hate ironing...

"Don't pick that up, Jak!" Dom called as Joshua reached for the feather. "It's dirty." Joshua plainly ignored his father, and picked it up, but Dom held firm. "Now, if you don't put it down right away you'll have to take a bath!"

Joshua thrust the feather towards the ground and ran over to his father, throwing it a look of disgust.

"Good boy," Dominic said.

Joshua smiled and clapped his hands -- unfortunately, dropping his stuffed horse in the process.

"Hosey falled over! Hosey falled!" He said, suddenly teary-eyed. "Da!" The boy picked the toy up and held it out. "Da make better!"

"Okay, give him here."

Dominic sat the horse on his lap and regarded it seriously.

"Where does it hurt?" He bent the toy's front leg up to point at his head. "Well then, there's only one thing for it." Dominic bent down and kissed its forehead, and asked, "better now?" He nodded the toy's head in agreement. "There you go, Jak," Dom said, offering the child his precious horse back.

Instead of taking it and going off to play again, though, Joshua clambered into Dominic's lap and tucked his head under his father's chin, and grabbed a fistful of his t-shirt.

"Da, story pease?"

"Don't you want to play with Horsey some more?" Dominic asked. He considered himself somewhat lacking in the imagination department.

"Story, pease? Hosey hurted an' wants story."

"Okay then, wee man," Dom said. Horsey my eye, he thought, before beginning. "Once upon a time there was a young man named Sir Jack the Brave, who had a fine horse named -- uh -- Horsey..."

By the time Sir Jack and Horsey were charging head first into a battle with a lion, Joshua had fallen asleep, and Dominic kissed the top of the child's head. My stories must be really boring... he thought, but smiled anyway.

"What, you're not going to finish?"

Dominic looked up to see Gordon and Brandon seated on loungers nearby, the former with an expectant look on his face.

"I didn't even see you lads come by," he said, feeling his face grow warm.

"Yeah, well, we're here, so finish the story."

Dominic chuckled softly and shifted the sleeping child in his arms.

"Don't be daft. Sure it was so borin' the kid conked out."

"It's tough, being two," Brandon said with a grin. "Takes a lot of energy."

"Yeah, and it's tough having a two-year-old."

The men shared a quiet laugh, before Dominic excused himself, ready for his battle with his most hated of household chores.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2123 is a reply to message #2122] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: FrankieCTB2 Sent: 9/9/2006 5:46 PM

August 1st, 7:30pm,Tracy Island.

Since the announcement of Virgil Tracy's upcoming birthday bash at Paradise peaks, the most talked about topic on the island was fashion - at least for the women. The men would, of course, all be wearing tuxedos including Alex and Tyler. It was a different story for the female inhabitants of Tracy Island.

"I'm so NOT wearing that!" Nikki emphatically stated, pointing to the computer screen, which Cherie had pulled up. Moans and groans could be heard around the room.

Tin-Tin, Elise, Kat, Callie, Nikki and Cherie had all congregated in Nikki's apartment about an hour ago. Elise had noticed that Kat was a little down in the dumps when she ran into her in the laundry room earlier that day and all but dragged her to the get together they were having. "I thought you liked shopping!" Elise had said to her when Kat had tried to get out of going. Then, ignoring the rest of her pleas and excuses, Elise escorted Kat to the apartment.

"What's wrong with that one?" Cherie asked a little impatiently. She'd lost track of how many different styles she'd searched online for.

"It's just, well, too flouncy!"

Kat giggled, Elise rolled her eyes and Tin-Tin just shook her head and suggested another website to Cherie. As they continued to look, they listened to Tin-Tin's suggestions and started to find what each was looking for, as well as a few that shouldn't be seen in daylight!

"Oh my gosh! There's nothing to that one!"

"Wait. Hold on.... look at it in orange!"

"Who would seriously wear that?"

"Maybe we should get it! It'll shock Virgil!"

"It'll shock everyone not just the birthday boy!"

"I wish I could be there just to see who does show up wearing that!" Callie added. "Being with my family is more important to me, but I will miss you all!"

"You need to change your birthday to February or something, so you don't miss any cool parties!" Cherie said, smiling. Callie laughed along with the others.

The banter continued with giggles and laughing in between. Kat's spirits had been lifted and she found herself helping Tin-Tin pick out colors. Elise got sodas for everyone and Nikki helped set out snacks.

"You know," said Elise, leaning against a counter, legs casually crossed at the ankles and eating a yogurt, "Paradise Peaks is a ski resort, right?"

"Yes," came a collective reply.

"Well, why can't we just wear ski pants and a sweater?"

Cherie spun around on the computer chair, mouth agape. "We can't wear ski pants!" she exclaimed.

"Are you crazy girl!" added Nikki.

Elise laughed. "It was just a suggestion!"

"Trust me, when my dad and brothers plan a big party... they will be dressing up! So will my mom for that matter."

"In that case, we'd better get serious then." Nikki tried not to smile as she spoke. It didn't work.

As they began finalizing their choices, it was Kat who suggested the idea of them all wearing the same color. "Tin-Tin? Don't you think that'll work? The men will all be in black tuxes, so we could all compliment them!"

Tin-Tin nodded, liking the idea. "Yes, I think it will work, ladies, but first we have to decide on the color."

The next half hour was filled with comments about colors, and shades and the occasional, "Yellow makes me look ill!" and "I look fat in that color!" "No, you don't; it'll look great!" "If you like it so much, you wear it then!"

Finally Tin-Tin raised her voice to put an end to the humorous squabbling. "LADIES!" The room was instantly quiet, all eyes on the pretty Asian. "I think that red will work for everyone. That seems to be what most of you are looking towards"

After a few seconds, it was unanimous. Red it was. Tin-Tin assured everyone that Grandma Tracy would be happy to do any alterations if needed when the dresses arrived. They each took turns ordering online and printing off a copy of their dress.

"Cherie, are you going to print out some of the dresses for your Grandma and Mom to look at?" asked Tin-Tin.

"Yes, I'm going to show them tonight! Hopefully Mom will like the same one I do!" Cherie held up her hand and crossed her fingers. Tin-Tin smiled at the young girl's enthusiasm. Cherie then grabbed her handful of print outs, announced her departure and rushed off to find her mother.

"I've never been to Paradise Peaks before; this is going to be awesome!" Kat stated.

"Me neither but Tin-Tin has, haven't you?" asked Elise with a smirk. Virgil had told her during one of their training sessions about the time he'd raced TB2 against a cable car with Lady Penelope and Tin-Tin in it.

"Yes, I have!" Then, upon the begging from the others, Tin-Tin told them of her adventures at Paradise Peaks.

"You got to hang out with Cass Carnaby? I'm SO jealous!"

Callie's announcement brought forth peals of laughter as Tin-Tin continued her story.

In the meantime, Cherie had found her Grandma Lisa in the kitchen helping Grandma Tracy cook. "Hmmmm ...Smells great!"

"Well, hello there, sweetie. What brings you here?" asked Lisa, giving her granddaughter a hug.

"I'm on my way to find Mom to show her the dresses we've been looking at for the party."

"Well, let's have a look then!" Lisa led Cherie to the table and sat down. "Emily, come and look at these lovely dresses Cherie has picked out."

For the next few minutes, both women "oohhed and ahhhed" over the dresses and laughed at Cherie as she became excited all over again about them.

"I do like this one, but you know your mother has to have the final say young lady, don't you?" Lisa said.

"Yes, Grandma, I know."

"Oh don't be so glum, sweetheart. You're blossoming into a lovely young lady and I'm sure your mother will see that and approve of what you like," Emily added.

Cherie smiled again and said, "I hope so," as she hugged her Grandmas once more and left to find Dianne.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

[Updated on: Sun, 29 July 2012 17:45]

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2124 is a reply to message #2123] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/9/2006 6:16 PM

[August 1, 2068, 9:00 p.m., Tracy Island

Kyrano had been keeping an eye on Lisa all day long. She had gone about her business quietly, far too quietly to his eye. Even Emily had noticed the change and had questioned it.

"Are you feeling okay, Lisa?"

Lisa had looked up, startled. "Oh, uh... I'm okay, Emily. Just a bit tired, that's all. I'll get to bed early tonight."

Emily had given Lisa a look that said plainly, "I don't believe you," but then Kyrano had stepped in.

"I will take Lisa for a walk in the garden this evening, Mrs. Tracy," he had quietly said to her. "Perhaps that will lift her spirits."

Emily had nodded and given the retainer a small, encouraging smile.

Now the cooking for tomorrow was done. The dishes and kitchen were clean. The excitement that Cherie had shared with the two women was gone, and Lisa was quiet once again. He and Lisa were back in his quarters, and Kyrano decided it was time for that little walk.

"Lisa, would you care to accompany me to the garden?"

Lisa looked up from the romance novel that she had been reading, or trying to read. She shook her head slightly. "I'm sorry, love, but I'm not in the mood."

Kyrano gave her a patient smile. "So I have seen. You not been yourself since you arrived back here, but even less so since our talk with Jefferson yesterday." He sat down next to her on the settee. "I think that a change of scenery -- and perhaps some serious discussion on what we should do is in order, dear one." He rose from his seat, and held out his hand.

She glanced from his hand to his face. "You know I can't argue with you when you take that firm tone with me."

"Yes. I know. Please, my dear. Let us visit the garden."

Lisa sighed heavily, and put her hand in his. He helped her to her feet, then ducked into the bedroom and returned with light jackets for them both. He helped her on with hers, then tucked her hand under his arm, covering it with his opposite hand. Together, they went out to Kyrano's garden.

The evening was dark and chilly and the sea sent a moist, salt-laden breeze their way. Lisa shivered a little, and Kyrano let go of her hand to drape an arm around her shoulders. "We will have fog in the morning, I fear," he said quietly. Lisa only hummed in agreement.

Their path was illuminated by light-sensitive lanterns that gently swayed, hung on wrought iron hooks at ankle level. The bushes of the garden acted as a windbreak to some extent, and the pair sat down in the garden swing. The bench swung a little when they did, then stilled. The scent from the evening flowers that still bloomed despite the season wafted on the breeze and Lisa breathed it in. She relaxed enough to put her head on Kyrano's shoulder for a few minutes. He rubbed her shoulder comfortingly.

After a few quiet moments, Kyrano asked, "Lisa, do you still fear this man?"

Lisa sighed and straightened up. She was quiet for a while, then said, in a small voice, "Yes. Ah do."

"Why is that, love?"

She shook her head. "Ah... Ah don' know. Perhaps it's 'cause Ah never knew what would set him off. The drink was certainly a factor, but near the end there were times when he wasn't drunk and he'd still go off at me. He was... unpredictable and, Ah suspect, unbalanced. Ah still don' know what to expect. He made me feel small an' worthless durin' owah marriage, an' that has nevah changed. Ah nevah did confront him, not even durin' his trial ovah Dianne or durin' owah divorce proceedin's. Ah don' know that Ah can evah confront him." She shivered again. "Seein' him again made me feel small an' worthless... an' angry. Ah won' go back if'n he's hangin' around."

There was another silence between them, then Kyrano coughed softly, clearing his throat. "I know you do not want to return to Greenville. I understand why, and I will not attempt to persuade you otherwise. And you have expressed that you will not follow Douglas to his new home." He pulled her closer. "Perhaps it is time that we... formalized things between us."

She gave him a sharp look, almost disbelieving. "Formalize? As in... marriage?"

He nodded, and said, "Yes, dear one. We have spoken about it before, but until now you have not wanted to leave your home. You have been happy in Greenville with your shop and your friends. But now that happiness is twice shattered." He looked down, and grasped her hand with his free one. "I would see you happy, my dear Lisa. Happy and safe. Not afraid."

He pulled his arm from behind her shoulders, and moved her hand to his now freed grasp. With the other, he steadied himself as he slipped cautiously off the swing and onto one knee before her. "This is difficult for old bones such as ours," he quipped gently. She giggled a little as, now steady, he put both of her hands in his. "My dear, beloved Lisa. Will you marry me?"

She leaned forward, touching her forehead to his. "Oh, Tuan." She shook her head gently. "What am Ah gonna do with you?" She paused, a silence that Kyrano took to bode ill for his idea and his proposal. Then she chuckled. "Yes. Let's 'formalize' owah relationship. Ah will gladly marry you."

Kyrano let out a breath he hadn't been aware he'd been holding. He lifted Lisa's hands to his lips, kissing them one at a time, then he let go so he could rise from his rather precarious position, groaning. "I do not understand how this practice became popular in the West. It is hard on the knees, and there is a danger of falling over."

Lisa chuckled again as she helped him stand. "I think it had something to do with being knighted and chivalry and all that Middle Ages claptrap." She snuggled close as he sat next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders again. "So. Now that we've settled that matter, what next? Do we tell our family right this evening?"

Kyrano looked out into the darkened garden as he responded. "I think we should wait until as much of our family is gathered as possible. Since Dr. Tracy has gone to New Zealand to speak with the pharmaceutical supplier, I think we should wait until she returns to announce our engagement." He sat up as if stung and said, "Ah! I knew I was forgetting something."

He reached up to remove the chain that hung around his neck, the one that held his alarm pendant. He didn't undo the clasp, but pulled something off the chain before returning the pendant to its usual place. "My trousers and tunics do not have pockets, so I was hard pressed to find a place to put this," he explained as he worked. "The pendant is large enough that this would not slide off."

Lisa, having heard a distinct light clinking of metal against metal, asked, "Is that what Ah think it is, Tuan?"

"If you think it is a ring, you would be correct," Kyrano said smugly. He grasped her left hand and she held up her ring finger helpfully.

"It's warm," she said as he slipped it on. "How long have you had this?"

"A month, perhaps longer," he said. "I have wanted to ask you to marry me for some time now. Jefferson's accident pointed out to me how anyone could be taken from those they love, suddenly and without warning. He was fortunate to survive his ordeal, but you or I, we might not be so. I wanted for us to be one in all ways possible; physical, spiritual, emotional, and legal. I had not yet chosen a time to do this; instead, the time revealed itself."

"Oh, Tuan," Lisa breathed. "Ah am so glad you thought ahead an' did this. This is the answer to mah prayers... as are you."

She reached up with her now-bejeweled hand and drew his face toward hers for a long, sweet kiss. He placed an hand over hers and said, "You are cold. I think it is time we went inside."

"Yes," she said, drawing him to her for one more kiss. "Let's go in. Ah could use a cup of tea right now, and Ah'd like to see this ring in the light. Ah wonder how many people will notice it."

Kyrano chuckled. "I am sure that Mrs. Tracy will if no one else." He stood, and helped her to her feet. "Come, my dear one. The tea, and our warm bed, await."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2125 is a reply to message #2124] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/10/2006 1:53 PM

Thursday, August 2, 2068, 7:30 a.m., Christchurch, New Zealand (Same day and time, Tracy Island)

Dianne rolled over when the phone rang, groaning. She reached out for it, missed, then reached out for it again and snagged the receiver. The vidphone was already set for "voice only" and she mumbled something into the handset. A perky voice on the other end (not a recorded voice, not for the rich woman in the luxury suite) reminded her that she had asked to be awakened at seven-thirty. By the time the wake-up call ended, Dianne was coherent enough to mumble an actual, "Thank you," before hanging up.

She sat up on the side of the bed, stretching. "Why did I decide to do this by myself?" she muttered as she rubbed her face. "I should have brought Cherie or someone along for company. And I shouldn't have waited until after dinner to leave." Sighing, she rose, dug her toiletries bag from her suitcase, and headed for the shower.

By eight-thirty, she was dressed - complete with make up and styled hair -- and enjoying her room-service breakfast, which she'd ordered after her shower. She glanced at her watch, then at her PDA. Her first appointment was at nine-thirty, with the pharmaceutical supplier. Then she would be off to the Christchurch School of Medicine for her interview there. One of the psychologists on her list had deigned to see her in his office over his lunch break; she hadn't liked his attitude on the phone, but thought he still should have a chance. The woman from Wellington's School of Medicine branch was coming to see her at the hotel at four, and she had appointments with two other local psychologists: one in that worthy's office at two, and the other back at the hotel at five-thirty. I wonder if I can get back to the island in time for dinner? she mused. She had decided that, if her search in Christchurch was fruitless, she would then extend it to Auckland and beyond.

She finished her coffee, brushed her teeth, and primped her hair a bit in the mirror. A touch more lipstick, a quick phone call, then she grabbed her suit jacket, purse, and brief case, and was on her way down to the chauffeured car that had been arranged for her convenience.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2126 is a reply to message #2125] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: MagicMaster8 Sent: 9/10/2006 5:41 PM

Thursday, August 2, 2068; Tracy Island; 4:30 p.m.

It was a beautiful winter day, and Brandon decided to take advantage of the remaining daylight. In addition to his regular duties, he had spent some extra time on the simulator and was due to go to Hawaii to try for his pilot's license. Being the person he was, he wanted everything to be perfect.

"Now to relax," he said, stopping to pick up a book off the table. He went out on the balcony and sat down at the table. He had just started to read his book when the door buzzer rang.

"Coming!" he shouted, putting the book down and going to answer the door. Upon doing so, he was surprised to see Callie standing there.

"Hey, Brandon, what's up?" Callie asked. "I was wondering where you were since I haven't seen you much lately. It seems we've both been busy with things other than our regular duties."

"I was in the simulator practicing my landings. I don't want a repeat of what happened when I was on my first flight with Virgil." He remembered too well his less than perfect landing. On his approach he thought he had seen something on the runway and had pulled up too quickly. Trying the landing again, he had lined up the plane with the runway, the plane touching down and bouncing twice.

After a few minutes of talking, Brandon remembered his manners and invited her in.

"Would you like something to drink?" Brandon asked Callie, going to the kitchen. "I have soda, iced tea and bottled water."

"No thank you, I'm still full from lunch."

"So," Brandon asked, walking into the living room with a bottle of water in his hand, "what's up with you?"

Callie laughed. "I was going to ask you the same thing."

"I've been practicing on the simulator a lot and Virgil's been taking me up in Ladybird whenever he can so I can get in some extra flight time. In addition, there are my regular duties."

They walked out onto the balcony and Callie looked down, noticing the book lying on the table. "Oh, did I interrupt anything?"

"No, no, you're fine. I was going to ask YOU what you've been up to. I haven't seen you much for the last couple of days."

"I've been working with Brains and Tin-Tin in the lab. We've gone non-stop trying to find a way to neutralize the
environmental effects of the experimental fuel from the King of Thailand's private plane." She frowned. "We haven't had any luck yet but we are getting close."

"Hey, knowing you guys, you'll find the solution."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

The two friends talked a little more before Callie excused herself and headed back to her apartment.

After she'd left, Brandon went back to the balcony table, picking up the book and flipping through it, thinking about what was to come. Jeff had made arrangements for him to be flown to Hawaii on the fifth where he would meet with a flight instructor and take the final test for his license. While he was excited at the prospect, he was nervous at the same time.

I know I've been practicing my landings, but what if I mess up? Mr. Tracy's counting on me to be a back-up on Thunderbird Two and I don't want to disappoint him. Brandon smiled. And I could use the license myself.

Brandon thought back to his time in WASP. The basic training had been tough, but, thanks to his perseverance, he had made it. Hey, if I can make it through WASP, I can make it through this.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

[Updated on: Wed, 22 April 2015 18:49] by Moderator

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2127 is a reply to message #2126] Sun, 29 July 2012 17:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 9/10/2006 6:42 PM

(Thursday 9:38 p.m. El Dorado, KS / Friday 2:38 p.m. Tracy Island)

Thursday night, Heather picked up her wine glass and walked out onto her front porch. The night sky displayed itself like a ebony silk sheet in the sky, full of tiny stars and and a handful of meteors. Heather drew in a breath at the beauty, wishing there was someone to share it with. The evening was much like the night when Heather had arrived home from been in the South Pacific. The air had been thick and muggy as it was tonight. As she got out that early 1:30 a.m., the cab driver opened the trunk and pulled out her luggage. "Would you like me to carry these in for you?" he asked, grabbing his leather hat as they stood in her driveway.

"No, thank you. I can manage," she answered as she maneuvered her purse, started to look for her wallet.

"Oh, don't worry about the tip. The young man took care of that, too. Thank you muchly!" Tipping his hat, he crawled back into his car and drove back onto the road again.

Her feet ached, her stomach growled, and she was tired, but she couldn't help looking into the night sky, marveling at the heavenly expanse. "I have to admit, it's a beautiful night. I'm grateful I've got tomorrow off so I can readjust from being on the other side of the International Dateline!" she had said to herself as she grabbed her luggage and pushed the gate open.

Closing it, she'd made her way up the sidewalk to her ranch-styled home. Too tired to sleep right away, Heather started up a glass of iced tea in the Brew Master and then kicked off her shoes. "Oh ow! Oh pain!" Heather winced. "You could have dressed for comfort, but no-o-o-o-o-o. You had to dress sharp for Mr. Tracy, knowing this would be the last he'd see of you until you give him word. Boy, my feet hurt! I still say it would have been kind to at least warn me to bring clothes for winter in the tropics!"

Walking barefoot in thick cushy carpet into her bedroom, she pulled everything off and slipped into a soft robe. "What will I do?" She laughed as she went to the kitchen for her glass of fresh green tea. "I won't be able to walk around nude there, that's for sure. Not like I can here!"

She looked around her high tech home with its TV constantly on the meteorology channel. Walking over, she reached over on the electronic console and fired up the television. A cold front was moving over the Rockies, while heat continually flowed from the Gulf.

A flag popped up on the HDTV, signalling that she had online mail that had come in. Several of them had little cameras next to them indicating that they were video mail. The first one was from her friend, Andrea Gainor. Andrea was a willowy, blue-eyed, blonde weather forecaster and Heather's complete opposite. Where Heather wanted to fly amongst the clouds, Andrea wanted her feet firmly on terra firma. It was Andrea who constantly encouraged Heather to get out and mingle.

"Heather! It's been ages since I've seen you! Did you fly off to Jamaica or something? Look, my boyfriend, Mark, has this friend who's in the Air Force and wants to you! You'd be a perfect match!"

"No, we aren't! He's Air Force and I'm Navy. Totally incompatible! Everybody knows that," Heather laughed to herself.

"Give me a call! This week! Don't sit on your duff out in the wheat fields, counting the number of hailstones in an square inch!" Andrea's beautiful face vanished off the screen.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Heather yawned. "But I will call. N-n-next!"

The next video call was James Kennedy. He looked sternly in the camera, but there was a twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. "Heather, I'm waiting for your call. I darn well better be the next call you make when the sun rises or sometime thereafter!"

"Yes, Father," she sighed with a grin.

"And by the way, I wanted warn you--" Jim whispered, looking around. "Your mother found out about Tracy's sons. She pitched a fit, threatening to throw you into a convent!"

Heather let out a snort, commenting, "I sure couldn't walk around nude there either!" She managed to get to bed not long after that. Three days later, Heather stared up at the sky, debating on whether or not to join International Rescue.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2128 is a reply to message #2127] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: susanmartha Sent: 9/10/2006 9:04 PM

"Dr. Hanson? I'm Dr. Dianne Tracy." She was meeting her 5th and final candidate for a counselor. Ms. Hanson had just retired and no longer had an office, so Dianne had suggested they meet at the hotel restaurant. If they wanted to talk privately, they could go to Dianne's suite later.

Anna Hanson didn't look like a businesswoman. She was wearing a nice pair of slacks and a plain silk blouse. She looks comfortable, more like a school teacher. Her handshake was firm.

"Dr. Tracy. I'm pleased to meet you also. And it's Mrs. Hanson. I just have a Master's in Social work, not a PhD."

"Considering some of the PhDs I've met so far, that might be an advantage." Dianne chuckled. "Would you like to order something? Tea, coffee?"

"Coffee, please. Decaf, with cream." The hovering waitress nodded and brought a cup and a bowl of flavored creamers over, while the two women sized each other up.

"I understand you are looking for a counselor to help with a family practice. I gather from your comment your search has not gone well?"

"No, it hasn't been going well. I have a patient who needs help immediately. It's not something I feel comfortable doing. I've dealt with trauma before but she is going to need more help than I can give, and more time than I can spare. I already have her on antidepressants and they are helping some. But I don't think she's actually healing from what happened, just suppressing it. I have 2 other patients who need some help. Plus I'm keeping an eye on one of my sons. Tyler was sick a couple months ago and I believe it was due to stress. There have been a lot of changes in his life in the past year. My husband nearly died last February and there were several other major changes in Tyler's life about that time. I know I'm not the best one to handle this -- I'm too personally involved." Dianne took a sip of her coffee. "I don't want him to cover his feelings up to try and protect me. If that's what he's doing, I can't be the one to deal with it. It needs an outsider."

"For several reasons, I would like to have someone come to my home to start work with the patients. They could come to the mainland for appointments after things have been set up, but right now the doctor or counselor needs to come to them."

"The problem is none of the established doctors are willing to do that. They don't want to leave their current patients for that long. And they don't see a reason to. The ones who are willing to come -- well, I wouldn't turn a dog over to one of them and the other," she hesitated, "I think he's out for all he can get. And I just don't feel right about him."

"Trust your gut. There are some doctors and counselors out there that shouldn't be trusted with a houseplant, much less a human being." Anna grinned. "Sturgeon's law applies to doctors and counselors as well as everything else."

"Sturgeon's law? What's that? Who is he?" Dianne looked quizzically at her.

"He was a mid 20th century science fiction writer. His law is right up there with Murphy's. '90% of everything is crap'."

Dianne snorted. "Sounds about right for today."

"I'm curious." Anna looked at Dianne. "Where do you live that it's so hard to get a counselor out there? Most places that are large enough to have a doctor usually have enough people to have at least a part time counselor? And why do you need to have someone come there at first?"

Dianne stared at her for a second, then quickly recovered. "I want someone to come and stay for a bit because one of the problems is rather complicated. You would be better off talking to several of the others involved before talking to the patient. She will be better off talking to you in a place where she feels safe. And, yes, we are a bit isolated."

She doesn't know we have our own island. she mused. If she doesn't know I'm 'That' Dianne Tracy, so much the better.

"You know, I specialized in trauma cases - especially with police officers, firefighters and paramedics who have been injured on the job, seen a colleague killed on the job, or been forced to kill in the line of duty. My other experience is mostly with victims of major accidents, natural disasters, rape and abuse. That's not exactly a family practice."

"The two people I'm most worried about fall into those categories. And I can't say anything else without breaking patient confidentiality." Or, she thought, without breaking IR security.

Anna leaned back and looked at her. "You do know the law requires me to report anytime I feel a child might be in danger. If there is something like that going on I must turn you in. And I will."

"The only child involved is Tyler, who's nine. There is nothing illegal or immoral going on." She grinned. "I won't say anything about fattening."

Now for the biggest sticking point. "How are you with handling other religions? Or 'alternate belief systems'? One of the patients has some unusual beliefs." Dianne had decided this was the best way to try to explain about Callie and the Hood, after her first attempt had been met with laughter and a, "She hears voices in her head? We have a good inpatient treatment center," from a noted psychiatrist.

"It doesn't matter what I believe. It's my job to help my client in any way I can." Anna closed her eyes for a second. "You know I've worked with domestic violence victims?" When Dianne nodded, she went on. "While I was in college, I interned at a shelter. One of our clients was convinced her husband had put a curse on her and could follow her anywhere. So she and I together hunted up a priest, shaman...?" Anna shrugged. "I never could decide just what he was. But she had faith in him. We arranged for him to come to the center the day she escaped, and he did a full ritual while we were filling out paperwork. I don't know if it worked, but her husband never found her or her kids. We did have to disconnect the smoke alarm though."

Anna waved the waitress over for a coffee refill and thought for a moment.

"You know, I planned on being an Episcopal priest for a while." Dianne's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "I've come to the conclusion that God is a whole lot bigger than I am. I have no idea what he looks like to others. And there are so many things out there I don't understand; how can I say what is actually possible? I once had a patient who thought rocks talked to her. Since they generally gave her good advice, I didn't worry too much. As long as it isn't hurting anyone, why should I care? If his or her beliefs get in the way of the client's healing, I'll worry about it then."

"How is the 'rock' patient doing?" Dianne knew it was unprofessional of her, but she had to ask.

"Well, I last saw her 20 years ago. She had left her alcoholic husband, gotten her first job and had returned to finish high school. Rocks no longer talked to her much but they were still very soothing." She paused for a moment. "You know, that was actually the case the made me decide to return to school and become a certified counselor instead of a social worker. I realized I was so much better at counseling than arranging for public assistance. And I actually enjoyed it."

Dianne nodded slowly and sipped her coffee. "I'd like for you to come to my home and meet some people. It's on an island, so it might be easier if you planned on staying overnight. If the people involved agree, I would like for you to stay a while or make some arrangements to come back for a short time to do initial assessments and meet some of the other people involved."

"I'll need to talk this over with my husband. How long would you want me to stay?"

"The first time? At least a week. After that, we'll try to set up regular appointments here or arrange for you to fly out once a week. You have a pilot's license, don't you?" Dianne had noticed that and thought it might simplify things.

"Yes, but I really don't like to fly anymore." At Dianne's raised eyebrow she continued. "Three words: congestive heart failure."

Dianne looked her over with a professional eye. "How bad?"

"Not very. I get tired easily. I don't walk up more than two flights of stairs. But when I do get tired, I just go plop! I need to rest right then with no time to land a plane." She made a face. "I never liked piloting that much. My husband likes to fly and I figured I better know how to at least land his plane. But I'd rather walk."

"Well, let's get back to our respective husbands and I'll call you tomorrow." Dianne took a deep breath. "If you are still unsure about going to a strange place with a total stranger, I could provide some references. With your background I can understand being cautious."

Anna grinned and stood up. "No, I don't need references. Your request was odd enough that I called some friends in the police department and checked up on you. But you can tell Jefferson Tracy that he better have a good explanation for his son quitting NASA. I know he had to quit -- his boys needed him to be there. But why did John quit? He was doing so well."

Dianne watched as she walked away. "You just might find that out."

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2129 is a reply to message #2128] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/10/2006 9:13 PM

Thursday, August 2, 2068, 7:45 p.m., Tracy Island

Dessert was nearly finished, though Dianne was still eating her entrée. She had arrived home around 7:20, missing the beginning of dinner, even though Jeff had asked that it be delayed for her. Kyrano moved around the table, refilling coffee cups and smiling at the banter between the various family members. After having refreshed Jeff's coffee, he put the thermal carafe on the sideboard, and went to stand next to Lisa, who had eaten with the family to keep an eye on the children in Dianne's absence.

He put a hand on her shoulder, and she glanced up at him, then she said, "If'n Ah could have everyone's attention..."

Those around the table quieted and their eyes turned toward the retainer and Lisa. Kyrano colored a little and cleared his throat, while Lisa smiled widely.

"We... Lisa and I... have an announcement to make," Kyrano said solemnly. He paused, swallowed, and continued. "Last evening, I asked Lisa to be my wife."

The audible gasp of shock and delight made him pause, but things didn't quiet until Jeff called, "And what did you say, Lisa?"

Lisa smiled even wider. "What else could Ah say? Yes, of course."

The table erupted into cries of excited congratulations. Emily leaned over and murmured so that only Lisa could hear, "I thought as much. That ring on your finger told me the whole story."

"Kyrano said you'd know before anyone else," Lisa murmured back. "Thanks for keeping it quiet until we could announce it ourselves."

"Have you set a date yet?" Tin-Tin asked her father.

He shook his head. "No, we have not. But it will not be far in the future. We are too old to wait for long."

"Hey!" Gordon cried. "This will mean that Mom and Tin-Tin will be step-sisters!"

"Gordon!" warned Jeff.

The redhead kept going. "And if our 'mom' is her sister... that makes Tin-Tin our step-aunt!" He waved at Tin-Tin gleefully. "Hey, Auntie Tin-Tin!"

Tin-Tin glared at him, as Brains shook his head and tried to keep from laughing. "Don't go there, Gordon. Just don't go there," she warned, shaking her finger at him.

The others laughed, and Tyler piped up to say, "Hey! That means we'll have another grandpa! Grandpa Kyrano!"

Kyrano nodded. "You are correct, Master Tyler. But I would prefer to be addressed as 'Grandfather'."

"Can we start calling you that now?" Alex asked.

"Wait until after the wedding, okay, Alex?" Dianne said. She got up and circled the table to hug her mother. "Ah am so happy for you, Ma. So very, very happy."

"Ah'm pretty happy about it, too," Lisa said as she returned the embrace. "It just seemed to be the right time."

Dianne's eyes met those of Kyrano, and suddenly, she was unsure what to do. The retainer would soon be her step-father, but there was the man's general reservedness, and his deep sense of propriety... and somehow, a hug just didn't seem proper -- at least, not yet. Instead, she bowed deeply. "We will be happy an' honored to have you as part of owah family, Kyrano."

Kyrano returned the bow. "I look forward to becoming so... Dianne."

Meanwhile, Jeff had disappeared, and Emily with him. They reappeared a few moments later with a tray full of champagne flutes, which they passed out as Jeff said, "I have a bottle of champagne in the chiller, and I'll put another in as soon as that one is done. We must have a toast to the engaged couple."

Scott got up to help, as Dianne took her seat once more. The whole task took some time to organize properly, but soon everyone had a glass of champagne -- except the children, who had sparkling white grape juice -- and Jeff, standing at the head of the table, raised his glass.

"A toast," he declared. "To Kyrano and Lisa. May their marriage be as happy as their love is deep."

"And may all the preparations go smoothly," Dianne added.
The rest of the family and friends around the table chuckled, then echoed, "To Kyrano and Lisa."


Later, Lisa wrote an email to John.

Dear John,

Funny way for me to start a letter, that! Insert lame joke about "Dear John" letters...

I just wanted to let you know that Kyrano and I are engaged to be married. He asked me last night, and I accepted. We announced our engagement after dinner this evening, and everyone is very, very happy for us. It will make a difference in some of the familial relationships around here, as Gordon told all and sundry once he'd thought them through. Word of advice: if you value your life, do NOT call Tin-Tin "Auntie"! And Kyrano will prefer to be called "Grandfather", but only after the wedding! Wink

We haven't set a wedding date yet, though I think it will be either late this year or early next year. Kyrano doesn't want to wait long, and neither do I. Life is far too short to get caught up in preparations; it's the doing of the thing that matters.

We'd have spoken to you in person, but the evening got away from us, and I didn't want to keep you up too late. So we'll talk to you in the morning, as you deserve to ask your questions of us personally. Your father is sending an email to announce this to the other team members, and Dianne is writing our engagement notice, which she'll send to the papers in Greenville, complete with picture. She also insisted on taking a close up picture of my ring, which I've attached to this email. I'll be calling my brother and my other children as soon as the time zones align (as Dianne would say). I hope they are as happy for me as the family here is.

Take care up there, and I'll talk to you soon.

Grandma P.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2130 is a reply to message #2129] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tawnyangel22 Sent: 9/11/2006 1:53 AM

Tracy Island -- 3rd August -- early morning.

Gordon arrived at the gym to see Alan running on the treadmill and very red in the face. He chuckled. "Hey, little brother. Looks like you're a little out of shape."

Alan reduced the speed. "You'd be breathing hard too if you'd been running for nearly forty-five minutes," he replied between gasps.

"Hah!" his brother exclaimed. "I don't suppose it has anything to do with all that apple pie you were stuffing at dinner last night."

Alan slowly increased the speed on the treadmill again. "I eat a healthy diet, even on Thunderbird Five, although the flash frozen meals aren't quite the same as the ones here."

"Well, you certainly seemed to make up for it last night," Gordon chuckled.

"I enjoy Grandma's cooking," his brother replied.

"Yeah, right," Gordon said, still laughing. He picked up some weights and began doing some bicep curls, all the time watching his brother.

Soon Alan slowed the treadmill down, walking on it for a few minutes to cool down. When it stopped, he got off, and walked across to the rowing apparatus. Sitting on it, he bent his knees as he grasped the bar. Pulling it back, he straightened his legs and continued in a smooth rowing motion. Suddenly he had an idea, stopped rowing, then called across to Gordon.

"How about a little bet?"

The auburn haired young man eyed his brother suspiciously. "What exactly do you have in mind?"

"Oh, just a few trials, to see which of us is the fittest," Alan answered. "Are you up for it?"

"Yes, of course I am," his brother replied.

Alan smiled. "Okay, we'll start with who can do the most sit ups in two minutes, and then who can do the most press ups in two minutes."

"No, not press ups; how about bicep curls at an agreed weight?" Gordon replied.

"Okay," his brother replied. "What if we finish with a run along the beach? See who wins."

His brother nodded in agreement. "Sounds okay to me. If you like we could get some of the new recruits to cheer us on. I'm sure you'd like to show off in front of Nikki." And he gave him a sideways look.

But Alan shook his head, "No. No onlookers. Let's do this early one morning."

Gordon grinned at him. "Okay, you're on. But I really think that we should have someone to judge these tests. I suggest Virgil and Scott."

Alan glanced at him. "Okay. I'll ask them, but I want Virgil to judge me."

"Why don't you want Scott?"

"He's too strict."

Gordon chuckled. "I don't think that Virgil will be easy to fool. Anyway, how much are we wagering?"

"Ten dollars?"

"Only ten?" Gordon said.

"Could make it twenty if you like."

"Twenty-five and it's a deal."

They both shook hands, and then continued with their workout.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2131 is a reply to message #2130] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:30 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/11/2006 8:18 AM

Friday, August 3, 2068, 1:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Lisa hummed as she worked, pulling Cherie's lengthening locks through her fingers and snipping off the split ends that had developed. Cherie smiled at her image in the room's mirror, and Lisa, catching her granddaughter's eye in her reflection, smiled back.

"Lands' sakes, child," she said as she began to part Cherie's hair into more manageable portions. "When this grows out it'll be pretty, but heavy. Are you sure you want to have long hair in this climate?"

"Yes, Grandma, I do. Steph has had long hair for years, and I love the way it looks... when it's brushed and braided."

"Yes, it is pretty when it's brushed and braided, I'll give you that," Lisa admitted. "But let her go without brushing for just a few hours, and it's a mare's nest! And I hate how it looks when she first wakes up in the morning." She fingered the hair in her hand for a moment. "Of course, her hair is fine compared to yours. You shouldn't have as much trouble with snarls."

Cherie's eyes darted about the room in the Round House. Once it became clear that Lisa's frequent visits to the island would include a session or two of hair styling and cutting, Jeff set up one of the first floor guest rooms as a salon of sorts. It had the appropriate sinks, dryers, mirrors and even a couple of state-of-the-art hydraulic chairs so that Lisa could work her magic in comfort. "This place has better equipment than my own salon," she had quipped when she first saw it. "But it'll never replace the customers I have."


"Yes, hon?"

"What will you do with your salon once you and Kyrano are married?"

Lisa paused in her work for only a moment and sighed. Then she went back to French braiding her granddaughter's hair. "I suppose I'll sell the shop. Your father says he'll help me with that. I'll miss all my customers, of course, and I'm sure they'll miss me for a while. But they'll soon find other people to style their hair."

"What will you do here?" Cherie wanted to know.

The older woman smiled softly. "I'll be a wife again, which is a good thing. And I'll continue to help out in the kitchen, and with taking care of you and your brothers and even little Joshua from time to time."

"Why don't you have a salon here?" Cherie suggested. "You know; offer to cut the hair of anyone who lives here. I'm sure the other team members would like not having to go to New Zealand or Moyla to get their hair done."

Lisa's smile grew. "That's such a good idea that I've already thought about it. I sent out an email today to let them know that I'm available to do it. I'll also be available for massage, too, since that's something I know how to do. I have a feeling that with all that I'm able to do to help, I won't be bored living out here."

The door slid open, and Dianne walked in, greeting her mother and her daughter. She walked around Cherie, nodding in approval as her daughter's hairstyle was finished.

"You always look nice in a French braid, hon," she said as she handed Cherie the small mirror. Lisa turned the chair around and the teen used the hand held looking glass to see the back of her hair.

"Looks great, Grandma," she said as Lisa removed the protective cape and brushed the cut hairs from her face and neck with a soft shaving brush. She climbed down from the chair and gave Lisa a kiss. "See you later!"

Lisa smiled as she watched Cherie go. "Best pay I've had all day." She looked at her daughter, who had taken up Cherie's position in the chair and was idly studying her nails. "What's up with you?"

"I was wondering how things went with your phone calls," Dianne said, trying to sound blasé.

"Oh, checking up on me, are we? Hmm?" Lisa replied. She took the other hairdressing chair and turned it to face her daughter. "Well, Doug was... himself, I guess. Shocked, trying hard to figure out what was in it for him, and whining about the fact that I was moving here, instead of going to Indiana with him. I think that if I stayed in Greenville, he wouldn't squawk. But moving here makes him think I'm choosing you over him. I had to make it quite clear that I was choosing Kyrano over him. Angela was thrilled, but then, she's always been more practical and less envious." She sighed. "I'm sure Garrett knows by now, too."

Dianne nodded. "How about Jared?"

"Well," Lisa began, "I ended up telling him the whole story about Garrett. Jared said that he hadn't heard word one from his father, and thanked me for letting him know what was going on. He was happy for me, and wanted to meet Kyrano some time before the wedding. I told him I'd see what we could do."

"And Drew?"

Lisa laughed. "Over the moon for us. Maggie, too." She glanced at Dianne, then down. "I've asked him to be the one to give me away, and... I've asked Maggie to be my maid-of-honor. I hope you don't mind."

Dianne felt stung by her mother's decision, but hid it was well as she could. "It's your choice, Ma, and though I'd love to have stood up for you in that capacity, Maggie's a great choice, too. I know how supportive she was when Garrett took off, even though they didn't live close to us." She smiled encouragingly. "You've made a great choice, Ma, all the way around."

"I know," Lisa answered. "And thanks for being understanding." Both women stood up to embrace. "You're the best daughter I could ever have."

"You're just saying that because I'm your only daughter," Dianne gently quipped.

Lisa raised an eyebrow in sly challenge. "Not for much longer, Di. Don't forget; I'll soon have a step-daughter to compare you to. And I've had daughters-in-law as well."

Dianne laughed. "Okay, okay. Point taken." She embraced her mother again. "Thanks, Ma. I love you, y'know."

"I know. And I love you more."

There was a small silence, which Dianne broke. "Well, when's your next appointment?"

Lisa picked up a PDA from a nearby table. "Don't have any more appointments for today. Why?"

"Want to come help me pick out a dress for Virgil's birthday?"

"Now that sounds like a good idea! Let me clean up here, then we'll hit the virtual shopping mall!"

Dianne laughed again. It'll be good to have her here full-time. I never realized how much I missed her until now.

98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

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