International Rescue: The Next Phase


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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2132 is a reply to message #2131] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/11/2006 9:07 PM

Friday, August 3, 2068, 2:30 p.m., Tracy Island

Jeff sat back and sighed heavily with relief, turning off the vidphone with a decided click. He'd just gotten off the phone with Simone, the Tracy Industries security chief for South Carolina, and in particular, Greenville. She was also an IR agent, a position that made it easier for Jeff to talk with her about specific security issues.

Good to know that Garrett's stopped hanging around Lisa's house. But then, if Lisa made those phone calls she said she was planning on, he probably has heard from Douglas about his ex-wife's impending nuptials.

He tapped his stylus on his chin. Simone said she'd send me a list of recommended local realtors. Lisa will have to have the final say, of course. She might not even want to sell the house... but the business, that's another matter. We can discuss it later, when she's ready to. He glanced over at his calendar. I'd better add that meeting with Mrs. Hanson to the list. Don't want to forget it. Have to make arrangements to get her here, too. He shook his head. It's not always easy living in paradise.

He was in the middle of adding Anna Hanson's phone number to the entry for their meeting with her when Dianne walked in. Glancing up, he smiled, then went back to finish the job.

"So, do we have an appointment with Mrs. Hanson?" Dianne asked.

He nodded. "On the sixth at 10 a.m., rescues permitting. I've set aside Tracy One for the flight to Christchurch. Would you like to be the pilot?"

Dianne thought about this for a moment. "Well, if I went, she'd know that she was safe and in good hands, whether I was flying or not." She snorted a laugh. "She seems to be one who does her homework."

"All right," Jeff said "I'll put you down as riding along, even if you don't pilot. I'll check around to see who else might be available."

"Alan would be a good choice since he hasn't flown for a month or so."

Jeff nodded. "And he could take one of the new team members up as co-pilot so they could get in some more practice. I'll see who Scott thinks could use it."

"Sounds like you've got a handle on it." Dianne moved around his desk to sit in his lap. "I think she'll be good for us. Seems to be very down-to-earth."

"I hope so." He smiled at her, raising an eyebrow coyly. "Do you have some particular purpose in mind, Mrs. Tracy?"

She kissed him, long and deeply. "Just a little sugar to speed me on mah way," Dianne drawled. "Ah have an appointment with mah mothah to look at some fancy dresses foah Virgil's party."

"Ah, I see." He returned the favor, his tongue sliding into her mouth and making her moan. "Do I get to see this fancy dress?"

Smiling, she ran a finger down the length of his nose. "Not until the party. Ah want to surprise you."

Kissing him once more, she squeezed him tight, then got up. "Ah'll see you latuh, suh."

"Later, love," Jeff said with a soft smile. He watched her go, admiring her derrière from the back, and smiling wider as she stopped at the study door to blow him a kiss. Then he sighed, and sat back in his chair, hands behind his head, allowing himself a little daydream of his wife and himself... later.




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2133 is a reply to message #2132] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/13/2006 9:52 PM

Friday, August 3, 7 PM; Silver Spring (1PM August 4 on Tracy Island)

Lena finished washing up her dishes, then went into her office to check her personal email. She saw one from Lady Penelope, with whom she'd communicated sporadically since they met, and opened it. She enjoyed Penny's descriptions of some of the people she socialized with, and this email started out no differently. But the last part brought Lena up short.

I thought you ought to hear this from me, in case you got word somehow, about Brains while he was in Paris. It seems that the Hightowers' attention has been redirected toward him. Several attempts were made to kidnap him, some which were thwarted by our young engineer, himself. Although I did not witness the first few, I was told that he got into a taxi driven by a minion of the Hightowers, only to get out on the other side, because he saw someone he wanted to talk to. He also turned around to go retrieve something he'd forgotten a hair's breadth before a couple of men were going to grab him.

I did see him knock over his martini, which I knew for a fact that someone had drugged. He'd been talking and gesturing at the time. Did you know that he drank martinis? I didn't. It seems that you never know someone as well as you think you do.

I was able to thwart two more, along with Parker (who sends his best wishes, by the way), and our Paris agent, and he headed to your area without a hitch, as you already know. He was totally unaware of what was happening. And he arrived on Tracy Island safe and sound.

The main reason I'm telling you this is because I remember the promise you told me you made to the Hightowers. I want to ask you not to carry it out this time for two reasons. First, it could cause their attention to once again be fixed on you. And second, nothing you could do to them right now could be any worse than the frustration they must be feeling at all the failed attempts. And that could make them all more dangerous.

Please take care of yourself and keep in touch.

Penelope


As she read the message, surprise and anger mixed with amusement. She considered Penny's request, and realized that there was a lot of truth in her reasons. All right, Penelope, she thought. But de next time dey try something like dis wit someone I know, I will retaliate! She sent a reply, then turned to the rest of her email, before getting back to work on the security program.




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 #2134 is a reply to message #2133] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/14/2006 7:56 AM

Saturday 4th August, 2068, 2.30pm, Tracy Island.

Dominic ran a hand through his hair and glanced behind him, frowning when the footsteps he thought he had heard heralded no company. He was standing outside Jeff's study in the villa lounge, having requested a meeting with the man not long before.

A few moments after pressing the door chime, a resonant, "Come in," sounded from inside, and Dominic activated the door release, and stepped inside.

"Afternoon," he said pleasantly. "How's tricks?"

"Hello, Dominic," Jeff replied, smiling lightly. "'Tricks' are fine, thank you." He chuckled. "Have a seat."

Dominic slid down into the comfortable chair on the other side of Jeff's desk, and clasped his hands in his lap.

"You said something about your codename earlier," Jeff said. "What can I do for you?"

"Well, on the last operation it became apparent that my codename and Doctor Tracy's codename are a little too similar for comfort. With the communications problems, 'Dak' and 'Doc' were getting mixed up."

"I see what you mean," Jeff said. "And with both of you on the medical team, it's only going to cause more problems."

"Exactly. So," Dom said, "I'd like to change mine. Doesn't make sense to ask Doctor Tracy t' change hers. I mean, she is the Doc, after all," he said with a lopsided grin.

"That's true. Have you decided on one?"

"Yes: Tynan. Me gran used t' call me it when I was little. Don't ask me why. I figure that no one'll ever recognise that, 'cept her, of course, but I'd like t' think that my gran won't be in need of rescuing by us at any point!"

"Okay. Request granted," Jeff said. "I'll circulate the new codename via email too make sure everyone takes heed of the change."

"Ta," Dom said.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, thanks. Unless you've got the name of a good local barber," Dom said jokingly.

"Well, actually..."



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2135 is a reply to message #2134] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 9/14/2006 7:12 PM

(Saturday, August 4; East of Towanda; 11:30 a.m./ 4:30 a.m. August 5; Tracy Island)

While Heather was in her office pushing paper, Richard intently studied the skies. The weather for the Wichita-Hutchinson area was expected to be bad. He could smell a hint of ozone on the winds. On the horizon, he could just make out a dark layer of storm clouds marching towards the testing grounds. Pulling up his favorite digital binoculars, he looked again towards the horizon. Through the high-powered glasses, he could see a boiling, thick, yellowish mass of storm clouds spreading out along a dry line.

"This is gonna be bad!" he muttered to himself. The moment he turned to head into the facility, he heard the sound of a wailing siren. The X-star and two other test planes were already beginning to sink into their underground hangers for protection.

Sitting in her office, Heather tapped out the final paper on the X-Star she'd been testing. Of all the aircraft she'd flown, she liked the X-Star the best. The prototype came fresh from the developers, beautifully designed and with a new, near frictionless skin. Heather needed just a few flights to fine tune the engines and to adjust the weight on the struts in order to declare it fit for manufacturing. Tapping out the last sentence and double checking her spelling, Heather poked the enter key with a flourish. Leaning back in her office chair, Heather's smile became rueful. Already, she was feeling bored, wanting the adrenaline rush that came with testing newly designed aircraft. Turning around in her seat, she looked at the huge glass windows that encased the general office that she shared with the other pilots. The feeling of lethargy was already sneaking it's way into her mind and fidgeted in her seat. Would joining International Rescue keep that at bay? Would it be the thing that would force me to settle down? she wondered as she saw Richard running down the hallway to her office.

As she got up out of her seat to meet Richard and ask him where the fire was, she heard sirens popping on. Grabbing her flight jacket, Heather hurried out into the hallway. "Planes locked down?!" she shouted as they headed towards the exit.

"Yes!" he shouted back. "They're all dropping underground right now! I checked the sky and there's a massive storm building up roughly 25 miles from here! We should get underground ourselves!"

Shaking her head, Heather shouted as the sirens continued. "I'm heading home!"

"Home?!"

"Yes!" Heather shouted back. "My Aunt Jenny lives alone! I want to be there! Or at least be nearby!"

"That storm has got the longest dry line I've ever seen! Will it do me any good to tell you to stay here?!"

"No!" she insisted with a grin as she led them to the nearest exit.

The heat outside surprised her as she walked out to her Jaguar. Jumping in, Heather fired up the engine and drove out to the security station. As she waited for Ben Sanders, the security guard, to check her security pass, she could see the storm approaching. "Ms. Kennedy, you're hearing the alarms, right?" asked Ben as he gave her back her security pass. "I've just got orders to close down the security station and hit the basement. You really should follow me down."

"Get that bar in the air and I mean right now!" Heather demanded. Instantly, the security bar blocking her way popped up into the air. Ben watched the Jag roll out of the gate, turn right on the highway, and lay down a strip of hot rubber as the engine roared to life.

Heading down U.S. 35, towards home just outside El Dorado, Heather noticed the sunlight rapidly disappearing. "That's coming up quicker than I ever thought," she muttered to herself. "Wow!" As she headed northeast, a patrol car on the other side of the divided highway raced with lights flashing and sirens screaming back towards Wichita. She continued down the road until she was near Towanda, which lay to the west of the highway when the sky blackened behind her and lightning streaked across the unstable sky. In the rear view mirror, Heather saw a white pipe of a cloud dropping down from the sky. Twisting the wheel, Heather guided the black Jag over to the side of the road and climbed out into a ferocious wall of wind.

She stared into the sky amazed at what she was seeing. "I've seen them, but never this close!" she breathed, trying to get her heart to stop racing. It's so close! And the sirens haven't come on out here! Frightened for the towns around her as well as her aunt, she grabbed her cellphone and called the police.

The funnel began to twirl and twist its way down towards the ground as she watched in morbid fascination. "This is Heather Kennedy! I'm on U.S. 35, east of Towanda! I'm watching a funnel cloud dropping from a half mile wide base! The sirens are not on!"

"Where are you?" she heard an officer say.

"I said, I am on U.S. 35, east of Towanda! Fifteen minutes from El Dorado!" She spoke distinctly as possible.

"We've got several tornadoes touching down right now!"

"Oh, God, no!" Heather whispered as she stared upward. There were tornado seasons where a few tornadoes touched down, and then there were summers where there could be as many as 72 in one night. As the tip of her tornado edged closer to the ground, dirt and debris began to dance around and around. Somewhere, a siren began to blow, to be joined by more as word began to fly from one community to the next.

Nearby, other cars slowed down down and stopped, seeing either the tornado touching ground or Heather's stopped car. Doors opened and closed as excited passengers sought for the safety of the ditches by the road. One station wagon had stopped behind her car. The license plate read from Ontario, Canada. The man had a Toronto Blue Jays hat over a head of curly brown hair, wore glasses and light summer clothing.

"What is that?!" he asked in fascination, as a young woman with short light brown hair and sunglasses ran up.

"That's a tornado! It's extremely dangerous. We have to get to safety right now!" Heather ordered. "Follow me!" The three of them crawled over the barriers and they dropped down in the depression created by the road workers. As they tucked in against the dirt wall and the tornado roared towards them, Heather wondered how Jenny was doing. I'm sorry, Aunt Jenny. I tried to make it home.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2136 is a reply to message #2135] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/14/2006 9:14 PM

Saturday, August 4; Murray Gill High School; 11:30 AM local time (4:30 AM August 5 on Tracy Island)

"And last, but certainly not least, Peter Valerian!"

A small redheaded boy with a big grin on his face was pushed in his wheelchair up to the podium by his proud mother to accept his ribbon. Everyone cheered, whistled and applauded. This was Peter's first time participating in any kind of sporting event, and although he didn't win, he had finished in fifth place and had for the first time in a long time, laughed and interacted with others outside his family.

He reached out to take the ribbon from the organizer, Michael Hart. But the wind had picked up a great deal, and the man squatted in front of him. "Peter, the breeze is getting very strong. Would you do me the honor of allowing me to put it around your neck?" The boy nodded, and Hart carefully placed the award over his head, then took one of his hands and shook it.

Peter beamed even more than he had a few moments ago. His mother watched the interchange with tears in her eyes.

Michael moved back to the podium to give a short speech and declare the Challenge Day events officially over, but just then the sirens went off, warning of an impending tornado. He glanced up and around, then said to the man sitting just behind him, "Mayor, we'd better get everyone inside the school. It's the safest place for them until this passes."

Mayor Tom Riverton nodded, and stood up, ready to assist in getting everyone inside. Michael turned back and said, "Everyone head inside the school. We'll stay there until the 'all clear' is sounded." Despite the fact that he was using a microphone, he had to shout to make himself heard over the increasingly stronger wind.

Some of the younger children were whimpering and a few were crying. Their parents gathered up their belongings and moved toward the entrance. A few people who had come to watch, help, or both grabbed as many of the folding chairs and equipment as they could quickly and followed.

Michael held the door and made sure everyone got inside before he did. As the last person entered, he heard a sound like a freight train heading straight for him. He turned and, looked to his right. "My God," he breathed, then turned back and hurried inside. "We've got to get everyone into the basement!" he shouted. "Now!"

People began screaming, and they looked from him to the mayor. Tom took one glance at Michael's face and took control. "Everyone, head through the doors on the left. Helpers, assist in getting the children down the stairs, especially those in wheelchairs. MOVE!"

The equipment and folding chairs were dropped and immediately forgotten as they obeyed the mayor's orders. His wife helped guide and comfort some of the more hysterical women, as his three teenaged sons helped get the wheelchairs down the steps. The helpers worked with them and soon they were all in the basement, and not a moment too soon.

The tornado hit, and they heard the roar of the winds, then the crashing and breaking up of the walls above them. The doors to the room were blown out and crashed into the room, as the lights went out. Screams of terror, of pain, and of anger merged with other sounds of the wind. It seemed to last for hours, but was just for a few minutes.

When it was over, there was crying and whimpering. It was pitch black. Mayor Riverton called out, "Is everyone okay?"

There were several assents, and some people saying that they had been injured, two with broken bones. A few people took their cell phones out, and were trying to call for help. One of the helpers was heard moving around, then a light came on. He said, "We keep some battery operated lanterns down here, just in case. I was able to remember where they were in relation to my location when the lights went out. I'll get the rest of them and pass them out."

"Well done, Seth," the mayor said. He moved carefully over to assist in passing the lanterns to the others, then began to see if he could find a way out. As he did, he realized he hadn't seen or heard from Michael. He knew that, since Hart had been the last one downstairs, he'd probably be closest to the entrance. After taking a moment to get his bearings, he headed in that direction.

He stopped suddenly. "Shawn, Carl, bring two more lanterns over here." His sons obeyed and he pointed in the direction he wanted the light to shine. They looked at what the lanterns showed and Carl gasped.

Debris was piled on top of the blown out doors, and pinned under them was Michael Hart. They moved the lights back and forth and saw that his left side was underneath, and there was what appeared to be a deep gash on the side of his head.. The mayor moved over to Michael and squatted down, taking the wrist in his hand.

"He's still alive, but barely. Let's see if we can get enough of this debris off of him to move him. This is our only way out, so we have to try anyway." He turned to the rest of the people. "Anyone able to help, get over here, now. Seth, is there any kind of first aid kit down here?"

"Yes, sir; I'll get it."

"I'm a nurse," one of the women said. "If you can get enough of that stuff off of him to move him, let me check him over first. We don't want to aggravate any injury."

"Good idea. We'll do that."

"We've got a couple of kits here, Mayor."

"That's good. Give them to the nurse so she can help the other injured, then come over here to help us move some of this stuff."

Seth complied, then joined the others as they began the slow process of lifting the debris off of the fallen man.




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2137 is a reply to message #2136] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/15/2006 3:56 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2068, Noon, local time, Murray Gill, KS (5 a.m., Tracy Island)

"Mr. Mayor?"

Tom Riverton turned to see Scoutmaster Brian Guillaume facing him, a group of Boy Scouts ranged in a group behind him. "Yes, Mr. Guillaume?"

"We were wondering if we could be of any help. I've asked my fellow Scout Master and some of the older boys to help shift the debris off of Mr. Hart, but the younger boys want to know what they can do."

Mayor Riverton surveyed the somber faces of the boys, then nodded. "We could use a head count, find out how many people made it down here. Get a list of names and see if we have anyone... missing. Make note of those who are injured, and how badly. The nurse can help you with that."

"All right. We can do that. Our Den Mother's already giving the nurse a hand, but we'll get started on the head count and the list. Anything else?"

Tom sighed. "I'm sure the emergency services are swamped right now; that twister was powerful and came on fast."

"That's the impression I've gotten from those few who have been able to reach 911," Guillaume said, nodding. "A lot of people can't get signals; some of the local cell phone relays must be down."

"Then it could be hours before we get any help." The mayor glanced over at where Michael lay, a small group of workers nearly obscuring his view as they sought to removed the debris. "Michael needs help quickly. So do our other injured people."

"Not necessarily hours, sir." Guillaume brought out a military-style radio unit, one that the Scouts had been using to coordinate their efforts during the Challenge Day. "There's someone we could call, and they'd be here far faster than our local people, and with better equipment."

Tom thought for a moment, then nodded. "Good idea, Mr. Guillaume." The mayor took the radio unit. "I just hope that they can hear us." He switched it on, took a deep breath, and lifted the radio to his face. "Calling International Rescue. This is Mayor Tom Riverton. We have an emergency situation. Please respond. Calling International Rescue..."

xxxx

The recorder started up on its own when the faint call came through. Thunderbird Five's computers automatically amplified the call, and piped it down to the habitation level, startling John out of a sound sleep. He sat up, disoriented for only a second, then grabbed his bathrobe and pulled it on as he headed for the ladder to the control level. It was faster than the lift, especially when his long legs took the rungs two at a time. Within seconds he was in place, smoothing back his hair with a hand and clearing his throat so he could properly respond to the call.

"International Rescue here. What is the nature of your emergency?" he said.

The response, so loud and clear, brought out a cheer from those Scouts who were standing by their leader, getting instructions. Guillaume shushed them and moved them away from the mayor so that Tom could focus on the call.

"International Rescue, this is Mayor Tom Riverton of Murray Gill, Kansas. Our town is located just southwest of Wichita. We've had a strong tornado come through here, and it's trapped a group of young Special Olympic participants in the basement of the high school. We have several injured people, one severely so. Can you help?"

John jotted down some notes on his data pad, and made note of the coordinates that pinpointed the call. "Yes, we can help. Where can our representative meet you?"

Tom rubbed the back of his neck, glad that the man from International Rescue couldn't see him. "Well, actually," he hemmed, "I was part of the Challenge Day. So I'm trapped in here with the others."

John's eyebrows rose a bit, but he kept his voice steady. "Thanks for that information, Mayor. Do you have a number of people involved? Of injuries and types of injuries?"

"Not yet. We're working on that now."

"Excellent. We'll coordinate things with your emergency services personnel."

"Good enough. When can we expect you?"

John made a couple of quick mental calculations. "Our reconnaissance people will be with you in forty-five minutes or less. Our rescue equipment will take longer though."

Tom sighed. "I understand."

"We'll be there as quickly as possible, Mayor. Just sit tight."
Tom found the young man's voice to be reassuring, and said ruefully, "Don't worry. We're not going much of anywhere right now."

John smiled despite the seriousness of the situation. "Right. Keep this frequency open so I can give you updates and ask for information."

"All right."

"I'll be back with you soon. International Rescue out."
There was only static then, and Tom felt like a lifeline had been cut. He said he'd be back in touch. Then he turned to the people who were in the darkened basement and began to explain the situation.

In Thunderbird Five, John reached with one hand for the toggle that would put him in touch with the island, and reached over to pull up a weather map with the other. "A tornado in that part of the country isn't unknown at this time of year, but it is unusual," he muttered. "I'd better see if that's the only one out there."




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2138 is a reply to message #2137] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 9/16/2006 8:53 PM

The freight train sound of the Towanda tornado had Heather and those around holding their ears as they hugged the dry grass of the ditch they were hiding in. As the sound began to drop off, Heather took a chance to peek over the embankment to see the tornado turn off the road where it dropped and head off into the cornfields nearby. "I always wanted to be an astronaut, but this is not how I wanted to get to the moon!" Heather breathed as the man in the Toronto Blue Jays hat got up off his feet.

"Harry Amberton," he introduced himself, chuckling at Heather's remark. "This is my wife, Mary. We want to thank you for rescuing us. We wouldn't have known what to do if you hadn't told us."

Shrugging, Heather accepted their thanks. "Someone had to tell me when I first came to the area. I suggest that you find a motel or hotel to get to, because the weather isn't done with us yet. Most places have underground shelters. If there's a tornado on the way, you'll hear three blasts on the siren. When it's all clear and safe, you'll hear the sirens give one long blast."

"We'll start looking right away," Mary assured her.

When they clambered back on the highway, Heather saw that everyone's car was intact, including hers. As the winds continued to whip around them, Heather jumped into her car and at the first junction, turned right. Five minutes from her home, Heather saw the scouring marks of a twister that had gone through earlier. The marks headed straight towards Jenny's farm. "Oh no! Please God! Not Aunt Jenny! Please not Aunt Jenny--!"

At that moment, she heard her cellphone singing, 'You're Cheatin' Heart' by Hank Williams, Sr. Slipping on her headset, she answered it. "Aunt Jenny? Are you all right?" She fought to keep from shouting into her aunt's ear.

A breathless voice answered. "Yes, we're fine. A twister hit the farm...."

"Oh Aunt Jenny, I'm sorry! Is the house okay?" There was such a long pause, Heather imagined the worst. "Look, Aunt Jenny. I've got rooms in my place. You could stay there if you wished! I'm on Rock Road and I'm five miles away--!"

In a small quiet voice, Jenny interrupted her. "That won't be necessary, honey. My house is just fine, but I do want you to come--come home."

Sensitized by the Towanda tornado, Heather kept a sharp eye on the sky which looked as if it had been bruised. Turbulent clouds colored in blacks, blues and purples were back lit by streaks of lightning. She turned off the highway and onto Rock Road. All she had to drive was a mile and a half and she'd be home. Heather found it odd that Jenny was standing in the middle of the field across the road from her own home.

That's odd. Did I drive too far? I don't see my home. she thought. I know I'm still a bit rattled, but--how can I miss my own home?

Heather parked her car on the side of the road and got out. Taking in the landscaping she saw the tell-tale circular scouring marks in the wheat fields near Jenny's home. She followed the trail the tornado made across the road to the same markings where her aunt stood. Debris spread out in an explosive pattern.

Her voice cracked as she spoke. "We had a tornado come through the wheat field and--it hit your house." She watched as Heather walked around the porch in a daze. "I came over as soon as the all clear sirens blew to check everything out. Honey, I'm so sorry." she said.

Heather barely heard her as she struggled to take in the idea that her home with its white picket fence, garage and comfortable living room had been destroyed. Jenny called to Heather once more and then walked up to her, putting her arm around the young woman. "Heather, why don't we go over to my place for iced tea then we can talk about this if you feel like it. You could lie down if you wish. Looks like you had had to dive into the dirt somewhere."

Looking down at herself, Heather looked at her clothes all covered with dirt and mud. "Look at me! I need to get a shower and get into some decent...clothes..." Her voice trailed off.
"Heather, come with me and you can get cleaned up. Maybe lie down. You've had a tough day." Jenny encouraged her. "We'll take your car to my place. Okay?"

Heather allowed Jenny to drive her car back over to Jenny's farmhouse. Heather followed her into the kitchen for a tall glass of ice water and stared out the kitchen window as she drank. She found herself searching to see her house, but there was nothing but stripped trees and the foundation. "I think I'm going to lie down, Aunt Jenny."

"All right, honey. I left your old room just the way you had it when you were building--" Jenny caught herself. "Take all the time you need."

"Thank you, Aunt Jenny. Don't worry," Heather said with a weak smile.

"I'm worried," Jenny muttered to herself as she heard Heather mounting the stairs as it continued to storm outside. Walking into the living room, Jenny hurried over to the vidphone and tapped the numbers to James Kennedy's home. When the screen popped on, it was Martha's face that appeared. Oh nuts! It would be Martha.

Martha was dressed in her usual finery of cotton and silk. Her light brown hair coiffed to perfection. Diamonds dripped off her ears, neck, and hands. "Jenny! It's nice to see you. How are you?"

"We're having a tough time of it, I'm afraid. We've got tornadoes all over the state right now--" she began.

"Serves you right for living out there! And then you get Heather to go out there, too, when she ought to be home where she belongs! She should be living in her family home until she marries--"

"Martha, is Jim there? I need to talk to both of you," Jenny spoke, barely able to control her temper. She didn't believe in suffering fools gladly, but Jim had to know about Heather's situation.

"What do you need him for? I'm here--!" she said petulantly.

"Just get him!" Jenny demanded, her concern growing.

"Oh all right. James! Would you come in here please?" she called out.

To Jenny's utter relief, Jim came quickly. "Jenny, how are you? Are you and Heather okay? I've seen the weather reports out there."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Jim. We're both all right, but a tornado tore through my wheat fields and crossed over the road to hit Heather's house. Her beautiful home was absolutely destroyed. All that's left is the foundations."

"The house?!" Jim groaned. "How is she? Can I talk to her?"

"She's okay, Jim, but she's in shock right now. I sent her up to her old room upstairs. I'm hoping she'll get some sleep. She showed up just covered with dirt and mud. Her hair was a disaster. She was out in the middle of the weather, I think. She's hardly spoken at all. I've never seen her eyes like that before." Jenny sighed worriedly.

"So long as she's all right, Jenny. I'm just grateful you were there to meet her. As soon as she wakes up, have her call me. Make sure she calls either one of us, or call me up and just shove her in front of the camera."

"All right, Jim."

"Be careful out there. Give me a call as soon as you can." With that, the connection broke, and Jenny went back to the kitchen to make Heather a pecan pie from scratch, while the weather cracked and rumbled outside.




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2139 is a reply to message #2138] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/17/2006 2:28 PM

The emergency klaxon sounded as clear as the morning sky, and Jeff blinked a few times before his mind fog cleared and he realized what was happening. He wrenched back the bedcovers and stepped into his slippers, as his wife held out his dressing gown for him, already clad in her own. Without a word the pair made their way to the lounge and arrived just after Scott, who was tousled, but obviously clear-headed. Jeff reached for the switch to activate the hidden commlink with Thunderbird Five, and a live feed of John, dressed in his own robe, appeared where his portrait had been.

"Go ahead, John."

"Father, several tornadoes are powering their way through lower Kansas state," the space monitor said. Jeff's eyes widened a fraction, but he let John continue. "We've had a call for help from a high school in Murray Gill. Several people have been trapped in the basement of a high school, including the participants of a Special Olympics Challenge Day."

Jeff's mouth thinned as John relayed the rest of the details. His family were not strangers to the power of a Kansas tornado. Fortunately, they had been always been spared in terms of property and, more importantly, life. He put aside any latent fears, however, as his commander's mask slipped into place.

"Okay, John. Give Scott the co-ordinates when he's airborne, and keep that commlink open."

"Will do. I'll relay more information as I receive it. Thunderbird Five, out."

John's portrait clicked back into view, and Jeff turned to the assembled crew.

"Scott, off you go," he said, though his eldest son was already heading towards Thunderbird One's access point. "Virgil, take pod Seven, loaded with the DOMO, Excavator, Firefly, Laser Truck, as well as the oxyhydnite cutting gear. We'll need the med team, as well as Gordon, Alan, Tin-Tin, Brandon, Callie, Elise, and Kat. This is going to be a big one. Off you go."

The crew scrambled in a whirl of dressing gown ties and loose pyjamas, and Dianne placed a swift kiss on her husband's cheek before following after the others. Jeff resisted the urge to say, 'be careful', knowing that it wasn't necessary. And now, he thought, the cycle begins once more.




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2140 is a reply to message #2139] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/19/2006 1:54 PM

Sunday, August 5, 2068, 5:30 a.m., Tracy Island time, en route to the danger zone

"Thunderbirds One and Two from base."

Virgil reached up and toggled the switch that put his 'Bird in communication with base. "Thunderbird Two here; go ahead, base."
Scott's response, similar in nature, could be heard over the tricircuit connection that Virgil now had with his father.

"A reminder for all veteran team members, and one of our new team members as well. You are going into territory where you are known, possibly on sight. Take special precautions to shield your identities. Hats and visors at all times."

"Will surgical masks and hair covers work for the med team, Boss?" Dianne's question came from the back where she was just sitting down. All of the med crew were dressed in their scrubs, ready to hit the ground running as soon as Thunderbird Seven was unloaded.

"That should suffice," Jeff replied, sounding a little testy.

"Then, F-A-B," she responded, smiling.

"F-A-B," Virgil echoed. "Thunderbird Two, out."

He took a quick look at the people ranged behind him. He had changed into his uniform while the pod was being prepared, and once they were airborne, the members of the team headed into the crew's quarters to take off pajamas and robes and switch over to their official look. The women went first in two groups, then Brandon and Dom followed, with Dom carrying scrubs pulled from Thunderbird Two's sickbay. Nikki and Dianne followed suit, grabbing their work gear for the job ahead.

Now Dianne got to her feet again. "Since we've got a bit of a haul ahead of us, we'll all need some breakfast. There are some of our specially-packed MREs in the crew's quarters. Time to get them out and pass them around."

"I'll give you a hand, Mom," Gordon said. Together, they disappeared into the area behind the cockpit. A few minutes later, they returned, carrying vacuum-sealed pouches. "I think you know what to do with these by now. Most of them are Farmer's scramble; I picked up veggie omelets for you, Dom, and for you, Kat. I hope that's okay."

"It's grand, Gordon," Dom said as he took the packet from the aquanaut.

"Yes it is. Thank you, Gordon," Kat replied with a smile.

"Coffee's on already," Dianne said. "First cup to the pilot though."

"Sounds good to me." Virgil kept his eyes up front and grinned. "Just don't let Gordon fix it, okay?"

"I'm insulted!" Gordon said with a mock affronted tone.

"You'll be assaulted if you try to 'a salt' my coffee," was Virgil's riposte.

"I'll fix it for you," Alan offered, getting up. "Besides, I'd like to get my coffee before we have to make another pot."

Virgil shook his head, and the cockpit settled into quiet as the team members ate, strengthening themselves for the task ahead.



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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2141 is a reply to message #2140] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/19/2006 3:21 PM

Kat thoughtfully ate her omelet. She took a sip of coffee, then said to Gordon, "The only tornadoes I have ever seen have been on the news, along with the total devastation that they caused. I just can't imagine a wind so strong that it can destroy entire buildings. And to be trapped, like those we are rescuing, must be terrifying."

"I agree," he replied.

"Have you ever experienced them first hand? Your family home is here in Kansas, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is, but we've been lucky so far. We've been spared."
She glanced over toward where the medical team was seated. "Dom, what about you?"

He looked up at her. "I, too, have been lucky; a close call or two, but no injuries or damage. Hopefully my brother isn't in the vicinity of any of these twisters."

"I hope nobody we know is affected directly by them," Alan said. "Also that the damage and loss of life aren't too great.
There were general murmurs of agreement, then silence as everyone finished their breakfast.

Written with some dialogue suggested by Tawnyangel22




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2142 is a reply to message #2141] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/19/2006 8:00 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2068, 12:55 p.m., local time, Murray Gill, KS (5:55 a.m., Tracy Island time)

Scott climbed out of Thunderbird One's cockpit and gazed around. The sky overhead was a mass of dark clouds, pushed by a strong wind. There was the smell of ozone from lightning strikes and Scott had seen the damage that the multiple twisters had done as they marched across the landscape. He had been tempted to deviate in his flight just a bit and see if their old farmhouse still stood; John said that some of the tornadoes had touched down near there.

"They haven't finished yet, Scott," John had warned him. "I'll do what I can, but you need to keep a weather eye out yourself."

The school building looked like it had been hit by a bomb. The roof was gone, and the walls that supported it had gone with it. The only reason Scott could tell that the school had once had three floors were the few support columns, truncated yet still tall, that stood like branchless trees amid the rubble. The cement panel walls had fallen away, some smashed to chunks on the ground below, some still sticking out, slab-like, from the heap. The basement must be extra reinforced for times such as this. He took in a deep breath, then began to look around for Thunderbird Two's landing spot.

His arrival had not gone unnoticed. There was a work crew already on hand, but their equipment was too small and too few for the giant task of removing the debris from the school. The man who was obviously in charge hurried over to Scott, pulling off his feed cap and running a hand through his sparse hair.

"Man, am I ever glad to see you," the man said. He held out his hand. "Henry Dolan. I'm the construction inspector for the city."

"You can call me Maverick." Scott shook the man's hand then took another look at the front end loader and the two plows that were hard at work, trying to move the rubble. "We got a call from your mayor. Some youngsters with special needs are trapped inside, and so is he." He nodded toward the equipment. "I see you've gotten a start here."

Dolan nodded. "I know about the kids, and the mayor. He called me to see if I could get some plans for the high school here. Said you were coming and would need them." He sighed heavily. "All the emergency services are tending to gas fires, downed power lines, clearing roads of debris, and more. Communications are spotty; I was surprised the mayor was able to get through. When I heard from him, I came out with what equipment and people I could gather. When can you get them out?"

Scott glanced at his watch. "My heavy equipment will still take some time to get here. I'm here to do some reconnaissance and figure out where we're setting up our vehicles and equipment."
He gave Dolan a confident smile. "We'll hit the ground running once we get here."

"Should we keep at it?"

"Yes, definitely. Any progress you make is helpful. I'm going to set up my communications base, and I'll relay those plans to get a head start on our strategy."

Dolan fished around in his pocket and pulled out a data card. "Here they are. We'll keep at it." His face relaxed into a tentative smile. "I'm glad you're here."

Scott nodded, and the inspector jogged off to continue supervising the crew. Scott climbed back into Thunderbird One.

"Thunderbird Five from Thunderbird One. Come in, Quasar."

"Thunderbird Five here. Go ahead."

"I'm at the Danger Zone. I'll be uploading plans to the high school we'll be digging out and I'm sending the mobile camera to get some pictures of the place as well. I'll need them relayed to Sweet on Two. She's the best one to decipher where we should start digging."

"F-A-B, Maverick." John paused, then asked. "How bad is it?"

"Bad. You'll see just how bad in a few, Quasar." He stuck the data card into the reader onboard Thunderbird One. The computer scanned the information for possible malware, then transmitted it to Five. While it was doing that, Scott pulled out the remote control for the anti-gravity mobile camera and a pair of digital binoculars. The computer beeped that it was finished, and Scott removed the data card, tucking it into a pocket of his vest before climbing back out again. "First the images, then the landing site." He jogged his way down toward the storage bay, ready to pull out Mobile Control.




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2143 is a reply to message #2142] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/19/2006 10:58 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2068, 1:35 p.m., local time at Danger Zone (6:35 a.m., Tracy Island), en route to Danger Zone

"So, here are the latest thermal imager readings from Scott, as well as the floor plans and the pictures from the Mobile Camera," Tin-Tin said to the small group that surrounded her at the computer screen in the rear laboratory area. "I think that Thunderbird Two should concentrate on the area here with the grabs. It'll be able to get the larger pieces of concrete up and out of the way." She embedded a green marker in one spot of the overlaid images, then put a red one in another place. "The Excavator should start in here and clear as far in as possible. The Firefly can help clear the Excavator's debris. The DOMO needs to be in reserve for possible wall collapse."

She looked up at the expectant faces surrounding her. "This won't be easy. We'll go over this again before we touch down so everyone knows where they should go." She lifted her eyes to the three small pictures in the corners of the wide plasma screen. "Maverick, I'm downloading this to you. Please keep us updated on any more collapses in the structure."

"F-A-B, Sweet."

"Van Gogh, what's our ETA?"

"We're still twenty minutes out, Sweet."

Tin-Tin sighed. "Wish we were there right now."

"Amen to that," Gordon said quietly.

Kat, who was among those watching Tin-Tin's briefing, hugged herself as they turned to go back to their seats. "It is a shame that Thunderbird Two doesn't fly as fast as Thunderbird One. Things would be much simpler if it did."

"There's no way it can, Kat," Alan said quietly. "The tonnage it pulls, its size, the very design itself works against it as far as speed is concerned."

"Virgil says that he's asked for an upgrade of the engines," Elise told her. "Bring it up to at least Mach 9 or 10. Still, that's only half of Thunderbird One's speed."

"And Virgil also knows very well that it would take a complete redesign of Two to accomplish even that," Tin-Tin said, slightly irritated. "Something that Mr. Tracy isn't about to do quite yet. Brains has enough on his plate with the plans for Thunderbird 8..."

"The hydrofoil," Brandon said with a gleam in his eye.

"And the two-man, close range shuttle attached to Thunderbird Five," Alan added.

"Plus secure communications and too many other projects for me to mention," Tin-Tin finished.

"How far away is this town we're going to anyway?" Callie asked as they entered the cockpit.

Gordon replied, "It's just outside of Wichita, which is..."

"Seventy-nine hundred and forty-eight miles from Tracy Island," chorused Alan, Dianne, Virgil and Gordon in unison.

"As the crow flies," added Virgil. He glanced back. "You've been talking about my baby again, haven't you?"

"Only in the best possible fashion," Elise assured him with a grin. She took her seat, and put on her safety belt.

"Just remember, Kat. The only thing on Earth that goes faster than Thunderbird One is Thunderbird Three. And she's meant to get from place to place in space, not on the surface," Alan remarked.

"At Thunderbird One's speed, Kansas wouldn't seem so far away, would it?" Kat replied.

"No. Wish we could go that fast; it'd be nice to get there quickly on a daily basis. Since it only holds a maximum of three or four, the rest of us have to get there the slow way." Gordon looked up and grinned at his scowling brother, Virgil. "But we can take a whole lot more luggage."



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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2144 is a reply to message #2143] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/20/2006 5:07 PM

"I wonder how Tom's feeling in this weather," Dominic said.

He and Nikki had been busy prepping the medical cabin of Thunderbird Seven, and had just crossed through into the cab, where Dianne was running pre-flight checks.

"Your brother?" Nikki asked as she strapped herself into her seat.

"Aye. He's probably bouncing around the place like a twelve-year-old, thinking, 'This is so cool!' He's a weirdo at the best of times."

"I don't know how anyone could get used to this type of weather," Nikki said."It's a little bit scary."

"The power of nature is mighty," Dianne said from her seat in front of the other two. "But hopefully she'll have spared those children down there."

"Thunderbird Seven from Thunderbird Two."

"Go ahead Thunderbird Two."

"I'm raising the struts now. Prepare for departure."

"FAB, Thunderbird Two."

The eerie sound of Thunderbird Two's hydraulic systems working to heave the great machine off the ground was soon heard, and then replaced by the steady hum of the pod door being lowered. The afternoon light, dim in the wake of the tornado, picked out the edges of the pod vehicles in front of them. The medical crew waited as the others rolled out, before Dianne followed in their wake.

"Here we go," she said. "Hopefully we won't have to deal with too many casualties. These basements are built to withstand a helluva lot. The majority of those pulled out will be the Challenge Day participants; they're young kids, so be prepared for that."

"Yes Doctor," the nurses said in unison. It had gotten to the point where they no longer realized they did so.

"Thunderbird Seven from Mobile Control, come in please."

"Thunderbird Seven, receiving you strength five."

"Doc, we could use some more hands to help with the initial excavation."

"FAB. We'll set up shop first and then one of us'll be along to help. We can't leave Seven unattended, and I don't want to leave anyone on their own," Dianne said.

"Exactly what I was thinking. Thunderbird One out."

Dianne turned briefly to look at her nurses.

"That okay with you guys?" She asked.

"Sure," Nikki said.

"I'll go help with the digging," Dom said. "I imagine it'll only be a little while before the first casualties are out. I'll come help with triage as soon as they are."

"Right," Dianne said as she pulled Seven up to the appropriate spot. "Let's get to it."



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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2145 is a reply to message #2144] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/22/2006 1:48 PM

The nurse and the Boy Scout assisting her approached Peter Valerian and his worried mother, after handling the other injuries. Peter had a bad cut on his forehead, and his right forearm appeared to be broken. His mother had carefully put it on the arm of his wheelchair, and immobilized it using her scarf. He was crying, and not looking at anyone.

"Hello, Mrs. Valerian," the nurse said. "I'm Lynne Feller. I'd like to check Peter out, if I may."

"Of course." Peter's mother knelt down at his side. "Honey, there's a nurse here to see if she can take away some of the pain. Please let her."

Peter looked listlessly over at his mother. He'd stopped crying, but was obviously in pain. The nurse efficiently began to check the head wound, then cleaned and bandaged it. "It isn't too bad. It'll heal up okay. And you've immobilized the arm properly, I see. So, just try to relax, and when we get out of here, someone will fix Peter right up. What about you? Are you injured?"

"Just some scrapes and bruises. I'll be fine."

"Well, I suspect that all of us will need to be checked out at a hospital or clinic. But we'll get through this. And Peter," she added, turning back to the boy, "just think; we're getting saved by International Rescue. Isn't that cool?"

Peter looked straight at the nurse, and a gleam showed up. His mother smiled. "He's been a big fan of that organization ever since he was old enough to understand about it. He used to draw pictures of what he thought their air vehicles looked like, and of their people rescuing others."

A sadness swept over her. "Then, fourteen months ago, a drunk driver T-boned our car. My husband and Peter were in it. Frank was killed instantly, and I thought I'd lose Peter as well. But he lived, although he's been in that wheelchair since he got out of the hospital. He hasn't spoken a word since. Today was the first time he participated in anything with others. I was hoping. . ." She broke down.

Lynne put a comforting arm around her. "I wish I could tell you that everything will be alright again. But I'm a nurse, not a fortune teller. All you can do is hope and pray, and work toward that end."

A shout drew the women's attention to the men moving the debris.

"We've uncovered him enough to move him, if you say it's okay, Miss Feller. Will you check him out now?"

It's about time! "Be right there." She looked at Mrs. Valerian and asked, "Will you be okay?"

"I think so. But there's something I'd like to ask you."
"What's that?"

"Are you any relation to the baseball player from the twentieth century, Bob Feller?"

The nurse grinned as she got to her feet. "He was my great-grandfather. And he passed his love of the game on to his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids."

She headed toward Michael Hart, the boy scout following, his eyes wide at what he just heard. Boy! Wait until I tell the rest of the guys!



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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2146 is a reply to message #2145] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 9/22/2006 8:49 PM

As Jenny pulled out her mixer, she heard the floor board squeak upstairs. Opening a cupboard door, she pulled down an old mixing bowl with faded roses passed down from her mother, a small glass bowl for the eggs, and a measuring cup. Setting it aside, she heard silence from upstairs.

"My stars, Martha!" she muttered to herself as she walked over to the pantry and pulled out a well-aged bottle of dark corn syrup, a package of sugar, vanilla, and pecans. "Did you ever think that you might have driven her off with your high-falutin' ways?! Oh, it just makes me so mad!" Jenny growled as she moved to the refrigerator and pulled out three eggs from the egg carton on the side of the door. "I forgot the butter!" she groaned.

Going the refrigerator for the butter, she heard the floor boards squeaking a few times as Heather walked to the bathroom. "She's having trouble sleeping," Jenny remarked as she poured the syrup into the rose mixing bowl. "Martha, if you hadn't been so blasted insistent about trying to marry her off to some blue-blooded sort, she might not have run off to the Navy!" Next, she broke and scrambled the eggs viciously, adding them to the syrup. Then, she measured off a cup of sugar and poured that in. "The only smart thing that woman ever did was marry Jim!"

The floor squeaked again and settled into quiet. The butter and vanilla went in next, and then the whole thing was shoved into a professional mixer, and set on medium speed. While the blades stirred the syrupy concoction, she went to the refrigerator again and found a package of preformed dough. "Well, it hurts my pride to use this, but I want it ready to go when she wakes up." When the pie was ready, Jenny set it aside to cool.


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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2147 is a reply to message #2146] Sun, 29 July 2012 18:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/23/2006 2:49 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2:15 p.m. at Danger Zone (Sunday, August 5, 7:15 a.m., Tracy Island)

"Mobile Control from Base. Come in, Mobile Control." Jeff's picture popped up inside of Scott's visor, and his voice boomed into Scott's earpiece. Wincing, the field commander turned down the volume.

"Mobile Control here. Go ahead."

"An update, Maverick."

"We've started excavating the site, trying to reach the top of the stairs and the wheelchair access ramp. It's closest to the victims, and may make getting the kids out a bit easier. Ursa has the Excavator in chewing up the debris on the ground level; her job is to make a path for the rest of us. Thunderbird Two is pulling debris off the top so that less and less will slide down and get in the Excavator's way. Firefly's shoving the bits and pieces left behind off to one side so we'll have a clear shot at the door once we're in there. The DOMO's waiting in case we need to pick up some larger slabs or hold up some restraining walls. Seven reports they're ready, and Doc has come up with a tagging system so that the victims and their equipment are easily matched up. Once we're at the head of the stairs, it'll be cutters."

"F-A-B, Maverick. Let me know when you've broken through. Has everyone eaten?"

"You think Doc would have let us go out on empty stomachs?" Dianne had pressed a Farmer's Scramble MRE into his hands the moment she saw him.

"I take that as a yes, then." Jeff paused to consider his next question. "Any guess on a time frame here?"

Scott shook his head, then realized that his father couldn't see that. "Negative, Boss."

"Thunderbird Five is getting some more calls, it seems, but none as urgent as this one. The National Guard has been called out to help deal with the devastation. They should be able to help pick up the slack, but be prepared to go elsewhere once this is done."

"F-A-B."

"Quasar's been getting weather updates. There may be more tornadoes on the way. If anything heads your way, run for shelter. And tell the others to do so, too."

"F-A-B. He's been updating me regularly. We should get enough warning."

"I hope so. Tornadoes are notoriously unpredictable." Jeff nodded. "Keep me posted on your progress."

"F-A-B, Base. Mobile Control out."

Jeff's picture winked out, and Scott blinked, an afterimage still burning on his retina. That's one drawback to these visors.

He glanced over to the school building, where a cloud of cement dust marked the Excavator's location. Time to check in with the crew, he thought as he raised his hand toward his earpiece.



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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2148 is a reply to message #2147] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: TracyFan4Ever Sent: 9/23/2006 3:13 PM

Callie operated the Excavator as she worked to clear the debris around the school. Driving the machine through the debris, she could see the dust stirred up by the maw as it ate up the rubble like a super wood chipper, including the loud noise. Even though she couldn't see the dust coming out through the pipes in the back, she kept going forward.

"Big Mac's doing fine with the Firefly, and with both of us doing debris clearing, we can get in there and help the people who need it most." When she noticed the concrete slab on her right, she added, "Hmm...we may need the DOMO to hold up that wall later."

This was her first mission since her frightening encounter with the Hood in Malaysia. Although she was glad to be on a mission again, seeing the debris made her think back to when she was seven years old.

I remember seeing my brothers playing video games in the living room while I looked out the window at the darkening sky. I didn't really think about the weather at that moment, but Mom was worried.

Then I heard the tornado sirens going off. I thought nothing of it at the time. I figured it was the drill, but then I saw my mother's reaction when she muttered the words tornado emergency. I remember her going silent for a couple of seconds.

"Callie, boys, we need to get to our storm shelter now. We don't have any time to lose."

I wanted to go back to my room for my favorite plushie, but Mom grabbed my arm. "We've got to move...now."

The way she sounded, this wasn't the run-of-the-mill tornado warning.

Joe and Bri were so excited. "Wow!" said Joe. "Mom, is there a real tornado coming this time?"

Mom had a very serious tone of voice, and her face was set in a grim expression. "Yes, it is, and I don't want any of you to stay out here!"

After she had us shuffle into the safe room within our storm shelter, I was still having trouble understanding exactly what was going on. "Mom, what if this tornado doesn't get here?"

When it came to tornadoes, I believed Mom had some sort of sixth sense about them. "Trust me, honey, it's coming."

Strangely, for a minute or so, things had actually gotten quiet. I said I didn't hear anything and wanted to get outside.

Mom grabbed my hand. "No, honey, don't go out there! The tornado's almost here!"

Then came the roar...the unforgiving roar. When I heard it, I screamed like nobody else could. "MOMMY!"

She held onto me tightly. "Don't worry, Callie. This won't last long."

My ears popped so hard it hurt. I never knew how bad it could be inside a tornado.

Everything stopped again after just less than two minutes...at least, that part felt that way. Just then, we heard one very long siren for about a minute. "That's the all-clear," Mom said as she let me go. "Kids, stay here."

I didn't want her to go out. "No, Mommy, don't leave, please!" I was scared something could happen to her while the three of us were in the cellar.

She came back to me and held my shoulders. "It'll be okay, sweetie. The tornado has passed. I'll let you know in a minute if you can come out." When I saw her walk away, I heard the taps of her feet on each of the wooden steps. I saw a flash of light and heard the hinges of the cellar door creaking loudly. I heard a grunt coming from her, not knowing what was happening.

Probably a moment or two passed before Mom spoke again, but not hearing her voice made it feel like an eternity. "Okay, kids, you can come out now. It's safe."

The three of us came out from the cellar, and I couldn't believe my eyes. I could see the dark green sky to my east, where the tornado was going at that point. Every house in our neighborhood was either damaged or destroyed. How did a sports car end up in the second floor of someone's house? The fire hydrants gushed out more water than I could remember. I even saw a 2 x 4 go through another car's door! There was a little bit of a natural gas smell, but not enough to drive anyone away. I thought Opp was wiped off the map.

I suddenly remembered about Dad. "Daddy! What about Daddy!?" I yelled. I didn't know if he was still alive after seeing the devastation.

Brian hugged me and said, "Don't worry, sis. Dad's work place has its own set of safe rooms. I know he's okay." The way he sounded, though, didn't really help me at all.

All four of us walked around our now ruined neighborhood to see if anyone needed help. We saw many of our friends come out from their storm shelters.

One of our neighbors said he could cook up some food on his gas grill, since somehow it missed getting damaged by the twister. As fast as the storm came through, more sirens sounded, but this time it was paramedics, ambulances, and fire trucks all coming into the scene.

Joe looked around and saw a hand sticking up in debris. "Mom, I think it's Mr. Regan!"

I wanted to run up there, but Mom held me back. "No. Brian, keep Callie away. I'm going to find out if he's alive."

Because Brian did keep me away from the scene, I really couldn't tell what Mom and Joe were trying to do. All I could see were Mom and Joe. The arrival of paramedics and firefighters, though, shielded me from seeing what was going on. It took about 10 minutes, but after they finally cleared the rubble, I could see Mom offering a silent prayer while Joe shook his head.

"Bri, what happened? What's wrong with Mr. Regan?"

He looked at me and said, "Sis, Mr. Regan's dead. He didn't make it."

I started to cry, since I had lost my babysitter and my friend, Dale Regan.

I was so scared about Dad being among the dead, but he showed up a couple of hours later at what was left of our house. When I saw him, I quickly ran up to him and hugged him as tightly as possible. "Daddy!"

"Oh, Callie, honey, are you all right?"

"Yeah, but Mr. Regan...he..." I started crying.

"Oh, no," Dad said, pulling me into his arms for a long, comforting hug. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I'm really sorry."

Mr. Regan was just one of the 13 people who died that awful day.
I never did find my favorite plushie again.


The memory was as fresh to her as the day it happened. "Mr. Regan," she whispered to herself. "This tornado's making me miss him all over again. I'll never forget that day, and I don't think I should."

"Ursa from Maverick," said Scott. "How's the work going?"

Snapping back into reality, she pulled herself together and answered, "It's going fine, Maverick. However, I'm getting a little concerned about this wall over to my right. We may need Indy to use the DOMO to hold it up while Big Mac and I keep digging."

"F-A-B, Ursa. I'll let him know immediately."

After the transmission ended, she had mixed feelings of sadness and determination. "I lost Mr. Regan, but I sure won't allow anyone else to suffer after this tornado." With that statement, she continued to clear the rubble with the Excavator.




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2149 is a reply to message #2148] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: FrankieCTB2 Sent: 9/23/2006 7:40 PM

"Left 2 degrees. Okay, now right 1 degree. Hold it right there. Lower the grabs."

Elise carefully moved across the large pieces of rubble, guiding the grabs as she did so. Kat was playing out the cable from inside Thunderbird Two and Virgil was holding the transporter steady. Communicating through her visor and earpiece Elise was able to contact both Kat and Virgil at the same time.

"Grabs secure!" Elise relayed back to TB2.

"F-A-B" Virgil replied as the grabs started to pull another large piece of debris off the pile. It was slow going, to say the least, as most of what they were removing were the solid slabs of concrete that had been the outer walls of the building.

With the debris secure in the grabs, Virgil veered off towards the dumping area. Looking around her as she waited for Thunderbird Two's return, Elise took in the total devastation. Bad weather was one thing, but this mess resembled something from a war zone.

"Damn, what a mess!" she muttered to herself.

"You can say that again," Gordon replied in her earpiece. He wasn't too far away from her and she turned to see him shaking his head in disbelief. The roar of Thunderbird Two returning from dropping the load of debris turned her attention back to the task at hand. Kat started lowering the cable again, faster than she had previously been doing.

"Hey! Slow it down, MGM!" Elise yelled.

"Sorry, Frankie." Kat slowed the line down and then continued feeding it.

"You okay, MGM?" Virgil asked from the cockpit. He'd heard Elise yell and hated not being able to see what was directly underneath him.

"Yes, I'm okay," came the frustrated reply. Elise's yell had stung her a little, but she tried not to show it.

Down below, Elise let out a frustrated breath of her own. Guiding the grabs into place one more, she announced, "Grabs secure! Pull up!"

"F-A-B" both Kat and Virgil replied this time.

As she watched the huge slab of debris rise, Virgil called her, "Frankie? Are you okay down there?"

"Yeah. It's slow going though. I'll be glad when we can finally reach those people."

"Me too." He sighed and turned his 'Bird away towards the dumping area again.




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2150 is a reply to message #2149] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/25/2006 4:50 PM

The Laser Cutter Truck was making short work of the larger pieces of debris, with Gordon guiding the beam with great care and precision. His eyes flicked from the control panel to the scene in front of him as another slab of concrete was deftly cut in two, putting the rescue crew one step closer to getting into the trapped people. He changed the trajectory of the beam and started cutting once more. Just a little bit more was needed.

The combined power of the Excavator and the Firefly had cleared most of the debris from the surrounding area, but the machines had proved too large to be effective in closer quarters. Gordon had rolled in with the smaller, more specialized truck after that. If only the beam could penetrate that little bit faster, he thought. Every second lost could spell disaster. His experience kicked in and pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind. Just concentrate on the job. There'll be time for suggestions and improvements later. Another slab fell apart in two chunks, and Gordon moved on again. Soon enough, he found himself the herald of good news.

"Mobile Control from Cousteau,"

"Go ahead, Cousteau," Scott replied.

"I'm just about through here. One more slice, and that door should be ready to be opened."

"FAB. I'm sending Big Mac and Da -- Tynan, to you now. Seven is on standby."

"FAB. Cousteau out."

Gordon hopped down from the cab as soon as the last slab was cut, and just as he did, the two others arrived, Brandon bearing oxyhydnite cutters, and Dom with a medical bag slung over his shoulder.

"Okay guys," Gordon said with his best mock military briskness, "Let's go."




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2151 is a reply to message #2150] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/26/2006 3:24 PM

Lynne knelt down beside Michael's still body and began to gently feel his neck and back, then his extremities. "His left leg seems to be broken in two places. His right shoulder is badly bruised, but seems to be intact, otherwise. It's this head injury I'm more worried about, but I want him moved to where I can look at it more easily."

Mayor Riverton smiled for the first time since they had been trapped, and signaled some of the men to help. Three of the scouts pushed a few tables together to place the man on, and he was gently lifted, then carried to them.

Lynne cleaned the head wound carefully then examined it closely. She sighed in relief. "It's not as bad as I first thought; I'm not happy that he hasn't regained consciousness, though."

"Actually, he did for a minute -- at least partially," replied the mayor. "Jerry heard him moan; he bent down and told him what was happening. Michael murmured something, then slipped into unconsciousness again."

"I see. How long was he awake?"

"Only a few minutes, but I believe he understood what I told him," Jerry replied.

"That's good, then."

There was a shout from the area of the stairs. "I can hear something! It sounds like someone's trying to get through the debris!"

Everyone began to talk excitedly and several people started to move in that direction. "Everybody, freeze!" the mayor said loudly. "Keep quiet. We need to hear what's happening."

Silence quickly descended upon the room, except for noises from the top of the stairs. The mayor cautiously moved forward and kept to one side, listening. Suddenly he heard a muffled, "Hello? Can anyone hear me?"

"Yes! We're down here! We're alive, but several of us need medical help, one seriously!"

"Okay. Move everyone back as far as you can. We're going to break through in a few minutes, mainly in the area of the ramp, so we can get the non-ambulatory people out more easily."

"Will do!" Mayor Riverton turned to the crowd. "Okay. Let's move back to the far wall, so no one gets hurt when they get through the debris. We'll be out of here very soon, folks. Let's cooperate all we can."

In a matter of minutes, everyone had moved - or been moved -- as far as possible from the debris, and they waited excitedly.

Suddenly there was a loud noise. Debris scattered and there was daylight pouring into the room. Everyone cheered as they saw it, and the people carefully descending to help them.




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2152 is a reply to message #2151] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 9/26/2006 4:05 PM

Dominic led the way down into the basement, treading carefully but moving quickly. He saw several sets of eyes swing towards his medical bag and the folded up antigrav stretcher in one of his hands. A woman stepped forward and looked at him expectantly.

"Are you a doctor?" she asked.

"No, but close enough; I'm a nurse," Dom replied.

"Thank goodness. My name is Lynne; I'm a nurse, too. Come, I'll show you what we've got." She started walking briskly, and Dom followed. "Your name is...?" She asked.

"You can call me Tynan," Dom said.

"Okay."

Lynne led Dominic over to the tables where Michael Hart lay, and explained the situation to him. Dominic noted the man's condition, tagged him, and relayed the information back to Thunderbird Seven.

"Alrighty, we'll get 'im out of here right away. Cousteau! Big Mac!"

Gordon and Brandon headed towards them at the call, and out of the corner of his eye, Dominic saw Lynne look at him suspiciously, but said nothing. Dominic applied a soft collar to the man's neck, and unfolded the stretcher just as the other two arrived. Without a word they moved into positions to help lift the injured man.

"After three," said Dom. "One, two, three, lift!"

The transition was swift, and Gordon quickly secured the unconscious man to the antigrav stretcher.

"Thunderbird Seven from Tynan."

"Go ahead," Dianne answered.

"The first red tag is on the way now," he said, nodding at Gordon and Brandon.

"FAB, Tynan. We're ready."

Dominic turned back to Lynne as Michael was stretchered away. The woman led him on to the next most serious injury, and threw a glance over her shoulder on the way.

"I take it your real name isn't 'Tynan', unless your friends had some creative parents," she said.

"Well, no ma'am, it isn't," Dom said. "Security and all that."

"I guess it's not important, anyway," she said, before turning her attention to the next casualty.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2153 is a reply to message #2152] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/26/2006 7:38 PM

Nikki stood at the head of the ramp, waiting for their first patient to be brought to them. She held in one hand a fresh anti-gravity stretcher, and in the other, a group of thin plastic bands.

As Gordon and Brandon brought the stretcher, she glanced back and called, "Doc? They're here."

"Coming." In a moment, Dianne had appeared, her hair covered by a surgical cap, and a thin medical mask ready to pull up over her face. Nikki thought it was strange; this wasn't the doctor's usual garb. Then she remembered the warnings about being recognized, and nodded slightly to herself.

"I've got him," Dianne said as the two men brought the floating stretcher to the top of the ramp. "Angel, explain the coding to them while I get our patient into the surgery."

"Coding?" Brandon asked, his face wrinkling into a puzzled frown.

"Yes." Nikki handed each young man a group of the colored bands. "Each of these is actually two bands, both with identical bar codes on them. When you're bringing up patients who have wheelchairs, pull them apart. Put one on the patient's wrist, then one on a portion of the wheelchair or what have you, where it won't slide off. We'll scan the codes into the doctor's notes, and hopefully keep patient and appliance together. Tell this to whoever else is bringing in patients."

"F-A-B," Gordon said. He took the proffered AG stretcher, and Nikki ducked in to pick up the third one. "I think Ursa and Frankie are both being pulled to help with the transport."

"Yeah, Indy's still on the DOMO," Brandon commented as he took the third stretcher. In fact, they had considered ducking beneath the outstretched arms of the machine as they came out with the first patient, but Gordon had wisely steered the stretcher around it instead.

"We'll be back shortly," Gordon said as they turned and hurried down the ramp, breaking into a jog as they headed back to the building.

"F-A-B," Nikki murmured at their retreating backs before turning to join Dianne in the surgery.




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Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2154 is a reply to message #2153] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/27/2006 2:20 PM

The patient was already on the scanner bed when Nikki came in. She thought momentarily about mentioning lifting safety to Dianne, then thought better of it. Instead, she took a pair of scissors from the nearby counter top and picked up cutting off Michael's clothes where Dianne had left off.

"The head injury is the most troubling thing here," Dianne said, glancing up at the overhead scanner display and murmuring her notes into the recorder. "Outer laceration needs a little more cleaning out there; get the grit out then we can glue it shut. But Da... Tynan?" Dianne didn't have to touch her earpiece; she just turned her head a little. Still, the mask muffled her voice somewhat in Dom's ear.

"Yes, Doc?" The nurse stopped for a moment to answer the call.

"You said this first patient regained consciousness for a few moments?"

"That's what was reported."

"How long was he out for in total?"

Dom looked at Lynne. "How long was... Michael? Is that his name?" When Lynne nodded, he continued, "How long was he out for in total?"

Lynne's face looked bleak. "Three and a half to four hours. If he was conscious any other time, no one noticed or reported it."

Dom nodded briskly. "Three and a half to four hours is the best estimate, Doc."

"How long ago did he regain consciousness?"

Again, Dom turned to Lynne and repeated the question. "A half hour at most, and he seemed to understand what was going on."

"Damn," Dianne muttered. She raised her voice. "F-A-B, Tynan, and thanks."

"A half hour. That's still too long." She slowed the scanner down as it transversed the head. "I'm just not seeing... there's no skull fracture... I don't see anything other than the head injury." She shook her head. "Let's see what else he's got and I'll come back to the head."

As the scanner moved slowly down the length of the table and the patient, Dianne tsked. "The left shoulder's just bruised; no fractures and doesn't look dislocated but he's going to hurt for a while."

Nikki finished pulling off Michael's clothes, and covered him with a paper sheet, then went to prepare a shaver, a bowl of cleanser and some sterile pads to clean the head wound. The scanner moved down farther, and Dianne took a deep breath and blew it out her nose.

"Double fracture with displacement in the left tibia, around halfway down its length. A clean fracture and slight dislocation in the left fibula. Double fracture will need some shoring up, but I'm not sure if I should do the surgery now, or wait and let the local medicos handle it. It's not precisely life threatening." As the scanner reached the feet, Dianne peered at the screen, then used a remote to zoom in on the bones of the foot. "Hairline fractures of the third and fourth metatarsals in the left foot, angling upwards from near the middle of the bone toward the heads, and of the fifth proximal phalanx near the base." She smiled ruefully. "He'll be wearing a cast from knee to toe for a few weeks."

Nikki returned the smile sympathetically. She finished removing the hair around the head wound, and Dianne started reprogramming the scanner for another look at the brain. Nikki soaked a couple of sterile pads with the antibacterial cleanser then, as she began to gently dab the stuff on, cleaning away blood and grit, the patient drew in a sharp, hissing breath. Dianne's eyebrows rose, and she pulled a penlight from the counter and opened one of Michael's eyes, flicking the light across the pupil. She repeated the process with the other eye, and watched Michael's face screw up with an attempt to close the eyelid. He raised a hand, which Nikki quickly caught, lowering it to the bed and holding it there firmly.

"What's your name?" Dianne asked.

"M-Michael Hart."

"Do you know where you are?"

"Hospital. 'Mergency room."

"Not quite, but close enough." She held up three fingers. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

His eyes opened just a slit. "Th-three."

"How long have you been awake?" Dianne asked in a matter-of-fact tone, as she peered at the scanner again.

"Uhhh. Jus' a little while. I 'member you talkin' about m' foot," he rasped.

"And before that?"

"Don' know. Mos' of th' time, I think. Was easier t' keep still. Didn' hurt so much."

"I see. Did you ever think of telling anyone you were awake?"

He started to shake his head a little, but Dianne reached out for his chin and held his head still. "Just talk. Keep your head still for me."

He sighed. "No. Wassa bit confused when th' dust settled. Thought people knew. Then they took somethin' off m' leg an' I passed out."

"Well, Mr. Hart, it looks like you are a very, very lucky man. I don't see any sign of major head trauma, though I'll let the medicos at the hospital take a much longer look at you. But as for now, we'll splint your leg up, give you something for the pain, and let the locals deal with the breaks. We've got more patients coming and you don't seem to be in any immediate danger."

"Mean I'm no' at th' hospital?" he asked, squinting up at her.

"No, Mr. Hart." She pulled out a hypospray, and filled it with an ampule of general analgesic, then administered it by pressing it against his neck. Over the hiss he could hear her say, "You're in a Thunderbird."




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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2155 is a reply to message #2154] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/29/2006 3:46 PM

******Saturday, August 4, 2068; International Space Station; Orbiting over open Atlantic Ocean, 7:15 p.m. (Same day, 2:15 p.m. in Murray Gill, KS; and Sunday, August 5, 7:15 a.m. on Tracy Island)******

Hundreds of people from all over the world were working hard aboard the International Space Station. They did everything from important scientific experiments to janitorial services.
In one laboratory, Dr. Mitzi Wegenhauer was isolating cellular elements in hopes of solving a complex problem. "I hope this will finally help us come up with a cure for diabetes. We haven't been able to do that on Earth."

Her partner, Professor Xiang Xe, smiled at the prospective idea. "I agree, Mitzi. If that succeeds here on the ISS, just think of the possibilities on Earth. Diabetes, hypoglycemia, and hyperglycemia could become things of the past."

"Ja, my friend. Even after more than 150 years of researching, we still haven't found a cure for diabetes yet."

"Relax," said Xiang. "We've made it so far, so we can keep going with it."

Mitzi shook her head and smiled. "Yes, but we also have a number of experiments that have been on the waiting list forever." She turned and saw a photo of herself, Xiang, and someone else. "Ah, if only Callie were here," she said. "I was completely surprised when she accepted a position with Tracy Industries back in February." With a sigh she added, "At least she won't have to go so far from Earth to be close to her family. I am happy for her, though. She deserved the chance."

Patting Mitzi on the shoulder, Xiang said, "I don't believe Callie's forgotten about us. She can leave the ISS, but the ISS can't leave her."

The two scientists giggled. "You're right," said Mitzi. "Who knows? When either or both of us get back to Earth, maybe we can find Callie and go on a shopping trip."

After sharing another laugh, they went back to work on the experiment, hoping success would come down the line before too long.

******Same day; Silicon Valley, California; 12:25 p.m. (2:25 p.m. in Murray Hill, KS; 7:25 a.m. next day on Tracy Island)******

In the main control room of ElecSignal Incorporated, technical engineer Bryce Cullen was tracking the orbit of the company's high-definition TV satellite, which was located 22,500 miles up in space. Going in geo-stationary orbit over California, the satellite's job was to continuously send the high-definition signal to all its customers in the western United States. "Signal strength still at 99%," he said as he computed the information into the main system. "That's good. Hopefully I can watch a rerun of that old show Heroes tonight."

Another technician walked into the room and said, "Hey, you won't miss it."

Bryce turned around and noticed her. "Jenna, welcome back. I take it little Mark is doing okay?"

"Yeah, he's doing fine," said Jenna Welkins, a technician who had returned from maternity leave after giving birth to a healthy baby boy two months earlier. "All tests have gone well, and Mark's been given a clean bill of health. So, how's our baby?"

"Doing fine. She's still in just about perfect orbit, and--"
Bryce stopped talking because a red light suddenly went off in the control room. "What the hell?" He looked at one of the lights and said, "Oh, no. One of the thrusters has malfunctioned."

Jenna quickly took a seat next to him and entered the calculations into the computer. "It sure looks like it. The satellite's shooting straight downward, and it's heading into that area of space junk 400 miles above the ISS."

"We'd better contact International Space Control about this. I'm worried."

"About what?" Jenna asked.

"About a possible collision with the ISS itself."

******International Space Control Headquarters; Upham, New Mexico; 1:30 p.m. (2:30 in Kansas; 7:30 a.m. next day on Tracy Island)******

Dr. Rose Windham, head of ISC, was checking locations of space junk. "That old GOES satellite is still up there," she said.

"ElecSignal, Inc., calling International Space Control," said Bryce through the communications in the control room.
Windham heard the call and immediately went there to answer. "This is ISC, ElecSignal. Is there an emergency?"

"Yes, ma'am, there is. Our HDTV satellite has a malfunctioning thruster and is heading towards the space junk zone."
Sitting down, she started computing possible path scenarios. "It appears your satellite will collide with the ancient GOES-4 weather satellite within the next 40 minutes. After that, it remains to be seen which way it ends up going. I'll call again in 40 minutes after the collision takes place."

******40 minutes later; just after the two satellites collide******

Dr. Windham noticed a new odd reading on the computer. "Unbelievable," she said, shocked. "The two satellites have somehow fused together, and they're now in geostationary Low Earth orbit along the equator." Entering the new data into the computer, she contacted ElecSignal again. "ElecSignal, this is ISC. Your satellite has fused with the GOES-4. I'm trying to determine a trajectory for them now."

On their end at ElecSignal, Jenna spoke up. "Understood, ISC. We're doing the same thing over here." She programmed the readings and checked with the orbital path of the ISS. "Uh-oh, this isn't good."

Bryce looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"From what I've got here," she said grimly, "the two satellites will collide with the ISS in eight hours." Pressing a button, she said, "ISC, have you determined a eight-hour collision time with ISS?"

"Yes," answered Dr. Windham. "And worse, the collision will be over Quito, Ecuador. There's nothing you can do now, ElecSignal. Leave the rest of this to us here at ISC."

Bryce nodded. "Understood, ISC." After cutting the transmission, he looked at Jenna. "I would joke about people around here losing their high-def signal, but right now I don't feel like it."

"I know, buddy. You and I both know how serious this really has become."

Dr. Windham opened an emergency channel directly to the ISS. "ISS, this is International Space Control. Do you copy?"
In the main control room, Colonel Peter Roberts picked up the call. "ISC, reading you full strength." Discovering this was the emergency channel, he asked, "What's our emergency?"

"Two satellites have fused together. One of them has a malfunctioning thruster. It's now moved into geostationary orbit and moving east at the same speed as you are."

Peter rubbed his chin. "Hmm...it wouldn't seem like a threat, but since we're moving northeastward and southeastward while the satellites move just straight eastward, we would face a collision. How long do we have?"

"We've confirmed our readings with the company who has the malfunctioning satellite, ElecSignal, Inc. There's a window of less than eight hours. The location over which the collision will take place is Quito, Ecuador."

"Okay. We'll start emergency procedures here immediately. What about in terms of preventing the collision, though? We don't have the means here on the ISS."

"Don't worry about that, Colonel. I know one group who can handle the job without fail: International Rescue."

Peter nodded. "Very well, Dr. Windham. ISS, out." He pressed a button to communicate to every part of the space station. "Attention, all personnel on board. This is an emergency. I repeat, this is an emergency. This is not a drill."

In the lab, Mitzi and Xiang heard Peter's words. "This is serious," said Mitzi.

He continued. "Listen carefully. A pair of fused satellites is presently on a collision course with the ISS. At the moment, we don't know exactly which area will be directly affected. Therefore, I want everyone to proceed with precautionary measures. Once we learn the exact area of impact, we will start emergency procedures for those personnel, including moving them into other areas of the station. Our time window is under eight hours. Please do not panic, but stay on high alert."

Back at ISC, Dr. Windham opened up as many channels as possible. "Calling International Rescue, calling International Rescue. This is International Space Control. We have an emergency."

Post by TracyFan4Ever



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Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2156 is a reply to message #2155] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/29/2006 5:01 PM

Saturday, August 5, 2068, 8:25 a.m., Thunderbird Five (3:25 p.m., previous day, Danger Zone)

"Acknowledge, Dr. Windham. We'll be launching as soon as we possibly can. International Rescue, out."

John shook his head as he looked over the notes he'd garnered from his talk with Dr. Windham. "At least we don't need Thunderbird Two to be in two places at once," he muttered as he reached for the switch to turn his communicator back on. He had muted his conversation with his father in order to concentrate on the call. "Base from Thunderbird Five," he said, going over the notes once again.

Jeff wiped the bacon grease from his lips and put his napkin down, then reached for the switch. "Go ahead, Thunderbird Five."

"Boss, we have another call."

"Another?" Jeff asked, a startled frown creasing his forehead. "Give me the details, Quasar."

"I'm downloading what I have. I think we can swing it if Maverick can get the astronauts back to base quickly."

Jeff pulled up the file that John had just downloaded to him. He read it through carefully, humming tonelessly under his breath. Finally, he nodded. "Yes. We'll send Einstein out with them, too. The ISS is Ursa's old stomping grounds. Don't want any chance of her being recognized."

"F-A-B," John replied.

"How does the weather look out there?"

John glanced over at the weather map, zooming in on the area where most of his family were working. "Tornado warning is still on for the region. There seem to be more forming -- I hope they're spared this batch." He paused, then asked, "Have you heard anything...?"

Jeff sighed and shook his head. "No. I've been calling, but there's no answer."

John bit back a curse. "I hope you hear something soon," he said.

"Me, too." Jeff nodded. "I'd better get in touch with Mobile Control and give Maverick the new assignment. Stand by to brief them on their way back to base, and I'll bring Einstein up to speed."

"F-A-B. Thunderbird Five, standing by."

The picture went mute, and Jeff reached first for the intercom. "Brains? I need you up here, pronto." Without waiting for an answer, he switched over to his communicator. "Mobile Control from base. Come in, Mobile Control."



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2157 is a reply to message #2156] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/30/2006 7:14 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2068, 3:35 p.m., Danger Zone (8:35 a.m., next day, Tracy Island)

"Mobile Control to Frankie," Scott's voice resonated in Elise's ear. She was checking to see the grabs were secure when he called.

"Go ahead, Mobile Control." Her reply was followed by an 'oomph' as she jumped off of a large piece of debris to the ground.

"Return to Mobile Control immediately."

Elise was momentarily stunned by the almost sharp request. "F-A-B," she managed to blurt out before the link was disconnected. "Frankie to Van Gogh."

"Go ahead, Frankie."

"I've been ordered to return to Mobile Control immediately. Grabs are secure."

Virgil frowned, puzzled as to why Scott had suddenly ordered Elise back to Mobile Control. "What! Why?"

"I have no idea, Van Gogh. I'll let you know. Frankie out."

As Elise made her way towards Scott, Virgil called his brother. "Mobile Control from Thunderbird Two?."

"Mobile Control here, what's up, Van Gogh?"

"Are you planning on telling me what's going on, Mav?"

"Slight change of plans, Van Gogh..." Scott continued to inform Virgil of the call John received from the World Space Agency and of the staff switch around. "I need you to land so MGM can take over on the DOMO."

Virgil shook his head. "I'll send her down in the rescue cage," he said.

"Works for me," Scott replied. "Send her to me. But I still want you to land; we could use an extra pair of hands down here."

"F-A-B."

As Elise approached Mobile Control, she saw that Callie and Alan, arms folded across his chest, were already there.

"What's the deal, Mav? Why did you call us? We have a ton of work to do!" Alan almost demanded in his impatience to return to the rescue.

"I know, Indy, believe me, I know. Base just called in. They received a rescue call from WSA; two satellites have collided and are on a collision course for the International Space Station."

A sharp intake of breath could be heard from Callie. The three team members exchanged glances. "How did it happen?" Callie asked.

"Quasar can give you details when you're on your way. Right now I need to get you back to base to launch Thunderbird Three." Turning to Elise, Scott continued, "Frankie you'll fly One and take Indy and Callie."

At this point, Kat came running up. "Van Gogh told me to see you," she said, looking at the assembly.

"Right. MGM, I need you to take over the DOMO for Indy," Scott told her. "Van Gogh will be joining us momentarily."

With a collective, "F-A-B," the team turned and 3 ran towards Thunderbird One, the other toward the ruined high school.

Callie, Alan and Elise scrambled through the pilot's hatch, Alan pulling in the folding ladder behind him and closing the hatch. Seating for him and Callie would be cramped, but speed was what they needed and Thunderbird One could deliver.

"Everyone secure?" Elise asked as she settled herself into the pilot's seat.

"Yes," they both replied.

"Ok, let's get this show on the road." Elise powered up the engines, obtained clearance from Scott and was airborne in what seemed like seconds. After contacting base to advise them of the ETA, she then called John. "Thunderbird Five from Thunderbird One?."

"Thunderbird Five receiving you strength five; go ahead, Frankie," John's voice replied. Callie smiled to herself, picturing him up there in space and silently thanking him again for the reason he was there.

"Hey, Quasar, just checking in for details on the space accident. I got two 'wannabe astronauts' here hounding me for info!" She turned and grinned to Callie and Alan as she spoke. They didn't seem amused.

John could be heard laughing softly just before he replied, "Well, it seems that one satellite's thruster malfunctioned and it collided with another satellite. Unfortunately, they are both fused together and on a collision course for the ISS. The WSA can't get anyone up to the ISS fast enough to avoid a disaster, hence the reason we got the call." Alan let out a slow whistle.

"Is anyone else going up with us?" asked Callie.

"Einstein will be ready as soon as you land."

"Okay, Quasar, thanks."

"No problem, Thunderbird Five out."

"Sounds like you guys will have your work cut out for you up there," said Elise.

"Nothing like back to back rescues to keep your spirits up!" Alan added. *"Base from Thunderbird One, on final approach."

"F-A-B, Thunderbird One, retracting pool now."

With a blast from the engines and boosters, Elise switched back to vertical flight for the descent into One's launch bay. She felt her hands start to sweat and flexed her fingers as they guided the controls. This part always made her nervous, especially as she'd messed up royally a couple of times when in training. Guiding the craft down carefully, she breathed a sigh of relief as Thunderbird One came to rest perfectly on her launch pad.

"Your hands sweat, too?" Alan asked. Callie and Elise both looked at him, somewhat shocked. "It happens to the best of us, believe me, but I want you to swear this stays between us." He looked at each of them waiting for confirmation. They both nodded and the topic was closed.

As soon as the engines were quiet, Alan and Callie were out of the craft and on their way to Thunderbird Three's silo as Jeff had requested. Elise had wished them luck and headed towards the lounge for a short debrief and some food before heading back to Kansas.

This is going to be a very long day. Oh well, goes with the job description I suppose. She sighed and entered the lounge.

--ferry duty by FrankieCTB2



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2158 is a reply to message #2157] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 9/30/2006 7:28 PM

As Peter and his mother were brought up into the daylight, they heard a roar. They looked in the direction of the sound and Peter's eyes lit up. He watched as Thunderbird 2 landed and his whole body quivered with excitement. Dom looked at Mrs. Valerian questioningly.

"Since he was about three years old, he's been a big fan of International Rescue. To actually see one of their ships in action is a big thrill for him; it's taking his mind off his injuries, for the moment."

Dom knelt down to put a band on Peter's uninjured arm, then the other on the wheelchair. "Well, young fella, that's a Thunderbird you're looking at. And you'll be going inside another, for medical treatment." He stood up and Brandon got behind the wheelchair.

"If you'll follow us, ma'am, we'll get you and your son some help." She nodded and they set off toward Thunderbird 7.

As they neared it, there was another roar. They paused again, as Peter twisted his body to see what made the sound. His mother stopped him, not wanting him to further injure his arm, and had Brandon turn the chair toward the sound. Thunderbird 1 was taking off, and Peter watched it ascend, then sighed contentedly.

"C'mon, squirt. Let's get you fixed up," said Brandon as he pulled up to the back of Thunderbird 7. Nikki was waiting for them. She entered the information into a data pad, then told Mrs. Valerian that they'd have to take Peter out of the chair. She explained about the bands and how they would help get the wheelchair back to Peter.

She untied the scarf keeping Peter's arm immobilized and held it carefully as Brandon gently lifted the slight boy, then carried him to a biobed. He placed Peter on the bed and with a "See ya!" and a cheerful wave, headed out.

Dianne moved over to the bed and looked at her pad, then at the boy. "Now then, young man, let's see what I can do to help you." She first examined his head wound. "Someone did a nice job here. It doesn't even look like you'll need stitches."

"That was Nurse Lynne Feller. She helped everyone who needed it," Mrs. Valerian replied. Then she smiled slightly. "I think that she's going to be very popular for some time. She told me, when I asked, that she was the great-granddaughter of baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller. And one of the boy scouts, who was helping her, heard her say that."

Dianne continued to check Peter as she said, "I don't follow baseball, so I'm not familiar with the name."

"My husband was a big fan of the game. Bob Feller pitched for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, except for three years during World War 2, when he was in the military. He was even the subject of an Abbott and Costello routine."

"Now them I've heard of. What routine?"

"It was at the start of the radio show on which they introduced the "Who's on First" routine. I have the entire show on CD."

"I'll have to check that out some time. Well, young man. Aside from the cut on your head, and this arm, you don't seem to have any other injuries. But both the bones -- the radius and the ulna - in your forearm are broken, about halfway between the wrist and elbow. Do you remember how it happened?"

Peter looked at his mother. "Doctor, Peter hasn't spoken since the accident that put him in the wheelchair." She sighed deeply. "All I can tell you is that the tornado blew the doors to the school open and debris was hurled in all directions. I tried to cover him, but got knocked off my feet. When I got back up, his head was bleeding and his arm was hanging over the arm of the chair. I carefully put his arm up on its arm, and used a scarf to tie it down." There was a worried expression on her face as she added, "I hope I did the right thing. Lynne seemed to think so."

Dianne glanced at her. "You did. Don't worry; he'll heal up just fine." She turned back to the boy. "Now I'm going to splint your arm and give you something to ease the pain. Then we'll get you to a hospital so they can finish patching you up, okay?"

Mrs. Valerian sighed in relief. "Wichita Memorial is probably the best hospital to take everyone to. They're a large one, and located in the southwest portion of the city. And they know Peter there. Probably several of the others, too."

"Thank you for that information." Dianne finished splinting Peter's arm, then readied the hypospray and, as she had done for Michael, pressed it to his neck.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2159 is a reply to message #2158] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 9/30/2006 7:28 PM

Saturday August 4, 4:10 p.m. Eldorado, KS/ Sunday August 5, 9:15 a.m. Tracy Island

Four hours later, Heather came back down again with eyes dark from lack of rest. "Didn't you get any rest at all?" Jenny asked as she checked the pie she made that she had sitting on the side to cool.

"I got a little," Heather answered, pushing her hair back.

"Now, what happened to you on your way home?" Jenny asked.

"Well, I'd just finished my last reports on the plane I was testing when the sirens started blaring. I sent the reports off through the company email system; the planes were on their way to being stowed for weather, and I decided to head for home. In a nutshell, I spotted a tornado right near Towanda, reported it, and by that time there were several drivers making for the ditches. I dove for the ditches, too, and had started for home when you called," Heather answered wearily.

"Well, I promised your father that you'd talk to him, so get calling while I get dinner set on the table."

Sitting down on Jenny's worn, cloth-covered couch, Heather tapped out the number she knew by heart, and a few minutes later, her mother and father sat in their black leather divan to face the camera.

"Are you all right, Heather?" Jim asked as he got up. "Honey, we've been worried sick."

"I'm just fine. It was a bit close for everyone's sake. It's been pretty bad all day," Heather admitted to him.

"Jenny said a tornado caused your house to collapse," said Martha who was fidgeting in her seat.

"Oh, it didn't just collapse, the thing just pulled it off the foundation and left just splinters. All that's left is the foundation," Heather said, wincing. "I feel like I've been turned into a tumbleweed!"

Martha felt slightly jealous of the connection between Jim and Heather. My stars, she's a disaster! If Jenny's so high and mighty, why doesn't she have some decent clothes for Heather to wear?! Oh, it's time to get her home. She might be too old to have children, but if married to someone prominent like the Alstairs or the Franklins, that would put us up with the top families. Oh we'd be invited to the Washington Balls. Jim could pick up on some huge commissions, she thought to herself. "Heather, maybe this would be a good time for you to come home now."

Oh no, Jim thought to himself.

Heather's mouth fell open and she could see her Father's reaction. "Honey, we haven't seen you face to face in years!" Martha said. "Donny hasn't seen you in such a long time."

Now that's hittin' below the belt, Martha! thought Jenny as she put a bowl of cooked carrots down on the table along with Southern Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes. Don't you give in, Heather! Not unless that's what you really want.

"Don't worry about the house, pumpkin. I know that was heavily insured. We can rebuild it again for you," Jim reassured his daughter.

"Thank you, Dad. For right now, I think just getting the claim going would be the best thing."

"Will do. I'm just glad you're all right. You look as if you fought a tornado singlehandedly. You did, didn't you? You were right in the middle of one!" Jim said, frowning worriedly.

"No, not right in the middle of one, but about as close as you can get without being tossed."

Martha interrupted. "If you'd stayed, this wouldn't have happened!"

"Martha, can't you see she's tired?" Jim complained to Martha.

"Stop!" Heather shouted, startling Martha, Jim, and Jenny, who nearly dropped the butter dish she was bringing to the table.
Jenny knew how a simple conversation could turn into a shouting match, and she foresaw how one right then would not help Heather's situation. Wiping her hands on her apron, she prepared to march out and defend her niece.

"I know exactly where this is going, and it's going to stop right here," Heather spoke sharply. "I've had enough! I'll call you back a little later." With that, she broke the connection.
"Mother just makes me want to scream sometimes!" sighed Heather, burying her face in her hands.

Walking to the couch and sitting down, Jenny wrapped her arms around the younger woman. "I want you to know that your mother does love you, honey. I admit, she has a strange way of showing it."

"Aunt Jenny, I don't understand her at all. It's like we've been at odds since I was born! Was she always like this?"

"No, she wasn't always like this," Jenny answered wistfully, patting her on the back. "She laughed at me when I came out here so many years ago, and then she blamed me when you decided to make your home right across from me. Your father appreciated it, though. Why don't we go have dinner?"

As soon as the connection was cut on the vidphone, Jim and Martha glared at each other. "And you wonder why she left in the first place!" roared Jim with his hands clutching the back of the divan.

"Don't you blame this on me! You're the one who helped design and build that home! Now it's totally destroyed!"

"What about Heather?! She was in the middle of a twister!"

"You're exaggerating!"

"Honey, do you even care? Not only did she barely survive out there, but her home was destroyed. She loved that place."

"Yes, I know and look where she is now!" Martha said weakly. The argument she'd been using for so long was wearing thin on everyone.

"You two have been total strangers for--I don't know how long!"

At this, Martha turned around her diamond earrings twinkling as she moved. Speaking evenly and firmly, she walked until she was staring at him. "Ever since you became famous!"

Jim's mouth fell open. "What?"

"Yes," Martha said petulantly. "Ever since you became famous. Being rich was one thing, but you becoming famous just made my life--miserable! When we'd just gotten married, we didn't have to try and live like everyone else! When you 'hit the big time', suddenly I was thrown into a culture I knew nothing about!"

"Your father was wealthy! It couldn't have been that different!"

Martha ignored his words with a wave of her well-manicured hand. "In order for you to get those commissions, I got you into the finest parties and get-togethers!"

"You're saying that it wasn't my work that made me so well known, but it was simply you getting me to the right people. Is that it?"

Jim stared at his wife who looked up at him with a smile. "If we want to keep going, we need to become connected with a solidly prominent family--like the Adamses, for example. My family ties aren't strong enough. That's why I keep hoping to convince--"

"What's happened to you?" he asked as if seeing his wife for the first time.

Martha patted the leather divan, trying to think. Finally, she said honestly, "I don't know, Jim. I don't know, but it angers me to think that Heather is wasting her life! She's practically too old to have children!"

"Honey! That is her choice! If she wants to live as a single for the rest of her life, that's her prerogative! We have no right to tell her what to do, and making it as one of the rare few women Blue Angel pilots is a great achievement among many! You act as if she has insulted you by not marrying the man of your choice!"

Throwing up her hands, Martha proclaimed, "What good is that when you're old and your family is gone? What will she have then? Who will take care of her then? It certainly won't be you!"

As Martha moved off to the kitchen to talk to their cook, Simon, Donny came shuffling out of his room after hearing his mother and father arguing. Worried that he had something to do cause it, he came out to find Jim standing in the living room with his face drained white and his hands in fists.

"Daddy, did I do something wrong again?"

Jim ran his fingers through his hair in frustration when Donny asked his tearful question. That bothered him, too. Donny couldn't help the things he did, and Jim knew he treated Donald with the most loving care he could give whenever it was possible. Shaking his head, Jim accepted his mentally disabled son in his stronger arms. "Now, listen to me. You haven't done anything wrong, Donny. I'm very glad you came to see me."

Donny smiled happily, enjoying the opportunity to be in his father's arms which felt safe.

What is going on here when I'm gone? he thought worriedly. I wonder if Jeff might have time to talk with me if I call? I could sure use another wise head.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2160 is a reply to message #2159] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 9/30/2006 8:55 PM

Saturday, August 4, 2068, 4:20 p.m., local time, Murray Gill, KS (9:20 a.m., next day, Tracy Island)

"How're we doing, Tynan?"

Dom came up the ramp, his medikit dangling from one hand. "I think we've got all the yellow tags, Doc. The cases in most need are aboard, with the appliances... and parents."

Dianne looked around at all the extra people, and nodded, sighing silently. It had taken a fair amount of persuasion to get Scott, then Jeff -- to whom the field commander deferred -- to approve the unorthodox and potentially dangerous situation. But as a mother and a physician, Dianne knew that these parents would be required at their destination to grant permissions for further treatment -- and that the children, who were all under the age of 6, would need their parents for support and reassurance. She was almost ready to pull rank as CMO, when Jeff had nodded and given his approval.

"I know you'll be sensible about this, Doc. Just go easy, okay?"

"We will, Boss," she'd replied with a wink. "See you later."

Jeff had smiled. "F-A-B. Base out."

"All right, everyone," Dianne said, rubbing her hands together. "I need the parents to all sit on the floor Indian-style. That way you're less likely to fall." She glanced back toward the surgical area, where a stable of small wheelchairs and walkers were secured with a net from Thunderbird Two. She had thought at one point about stacking them inside the empty morgue, but decided against it.

"All set, Angel?" Dianne asked, feeling the rumble of the engine starting.

"F-A-B," the nurse, sitting in the pilot's chair, replied.

Dianne glanced at Dom, who had closed the doors and retracted the ramp, and was now taking up the position in the monitoring station. "All set, Tynan?"

"F-A-B, Doc," he said as he secured himself.

"Then let me get strapped in and we're off!" She took one more glance around the medical cabin. "Please, folks, don't stand up. Your children are secure. We're headed for Wichita Memorial, ETA..."

"Twenty minutes, Doc," Nikki supplied with a smile.

"ETA, Twenty minutes," Dianne echoed. "If I'm needed, I'll be in the cockpit."

With that, she stepped into the cockpit and took the co-pilot's seat to Nikki's right. She strapped herself in, then nodded. "Let's go."

Thunderbird Seven rose on its quiet hoverjets, eliciting a small chorus of "oohs" from the passengers. From where he lay, Peter Valerian could look up through the three round skylights and see the dark gray clouds go past at what seemed to him to be an impossible speed. His mother sat near his head, one hand laying gently in his hair, and in the bed next to her lay Michael Hart, who sighed heavily.

"Are you all right, Mr. Hart?" she asked solicitously.

"Yes, I'll be fine. Just never thought I'd be transported in a Thunderbird... at least, not like this!"

His wry comment made her smile. "It's a wonderful thing, but not one I'd care to repeat." Glancing up at Dom, she said, "No offense."

"None taken," Dom replied, an amused look on his face. "I've found that most of our passengers feel the same way."

She nodded, then turned her attention back to her son, whose eyes were fixed on the sky, and the lightning that occasionally arced from cloud to cloud.



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Luke Morel Rommel in Vest

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2161 is a reply to message #2160] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 10/1/2006 11:15 AM

(Saturday, August 4, El Dorado, Kansas 4:45 p.m./Sunday, August 5, Tracy Island 9:45 a.m.)

While eating dinner, Jenny watched Heather carefully. She noticed that her niece kept looking out the kitchen window, peering at the place where the lovely house had once stood. The dark grey sky with its flashes of lightning described Heather's mood. Then in a fit of frustration, Heather shoved her chair back, marched over to the kitchen window, and pushed the window shades closed. Sitting back down, Heather started to eat again.

"Are you all right?" Jenny asked carefully as she passed a plate of biscuits.

Accepting two hot biscuits, Heather smiled. "I'm about as all right as I can be." Taking one of the biscuits, Heather buttered it, dribbled honey on it, and then nibbled on it thoughtfully.

"Pass the mashed potatoes?" Jenny asked. Heather wiped the honey off her fingers and passed the bowl of steaming mashed potatoes, being careful not to bump the large spoon stuck in the lumpy mound.

"You know, Aunt Jenny," Heather spoke thoughtfully. "At first, when I saw you standing on the grounds, I thought I could handle it just fine. My home was just nuts, bolts, boards, brick, paint and electronics. All could be rebuilt. So, why does it bother me so bad? I shouldn't feel like this!"

Patting a slightly rough hand, Jenny sighed. "Honey, it's hard to describe, but you've basically set down roots and the tornado pulled them up. You and your father designed the house together, so it meant something to you. You worked hard to build it. You couldn't wait to move in. You built the fence around it, and put all the electronics in it so you could keep in contact with the rest of your family who live so far away. All the neighbors were so excited to have you move here. But I know that you're trying to decide whether to take Mr. Tracy's offer. Don't worry about what your mother thinks, what your father says, or even what I think. Do what's best for you."

As Heather reached for the fried chicken, she nodded at what Jenny had said. "The first thing I want to do is get a room at the Regis Hotel in Wichita."

"When would you go?" Jenny asked, taking a sip of coffee.

"I'll go this evening," Heather said as she sipped her iced tea.

"What about all your legal papers and such? Or did you have them there?" Jenny asked.

"Oh I had them there--"

"Oh no!"

Raising up a hand, Heather reassured her, "No, it's okay. The tornado took the house and everything above ground, but I put all my legal papers and things in a fireproof safe and that's in the basement. I'll go get those before I take off for the big city."

Seeing the exhaustion tugging at the corners of Heather's eyes, Jenny quelled the desire to insist that her niece stay at the farm, because once Heather was gone, the tough navy pilot would be out of her care for good. Who's going to look after her then? "Heather," she asked. "After you get your paperwork, come back here. I'll have something for you that will help get you by for the next few days."

"Okay," Heather agreed.

After they finished dinner, Heather drove over to what was left of her home and, grabbing a spare flashlight in the glove compartment, she found the basement stairway and walked down it.

Flashing the light about, she had to push her way through the piled up furniture, and looked to the back wall where a tapestry once hung. Walking over to it, she found the safe in perfect condition. "Best thing I'd ever done." Opening it, she pulled out her legal papers, the cases that held her medals and ribbons won in service, handwritten letters by her father, her mother, and Donny, and a diamond necklace she wore on rare occasions.

Taking all her treasures out of the safe, she stowed them safely inside her coat and made her way back up and out of her ruined home. As she promised, Heather stopped by her aunt's farmhouse. A light scent of pale lavender came off her aunt's skin as she
hugged the older woman close.

"Heather, I've never had a daughter of my own. You've been the closest thing to it that I've ever had. Would you forgive me if I've tried to hold you too close sometimes?"

"Of course," Heather replied. "You act as if I'm leaving for good."

"It's because you are."

After giving Heather one last hug, and an envelope of money, Jenny walked towards the porch where she would keep watch of her niece. Getting into her car, Heather waved from the open window as she fired the engine to life. A moment later, Jenny watched with a heavy heart as the black Jag roared off towards Wichita.

"God protect you, honey. You always seem to find yourself right smack dab in the middle of trouble," she whispered.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2162 is a reply to message #2161] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: ArtisticRainey Sent: 10/1/2006 2:51 PM

It was eerily quiet, considering the amount of people in Thunderbird Seven's medical cabin. Dominic angled himself so that he could read the data on the monitoring station, while watching the patients and parents from the corner of his eye. The journey had progressed without incident. Even the most curious of the adults asked no questions of the dark-haired nurse in the International Rescue scrubs. No one could think of anything but getting their children safely to hospital.

His fingers clenched momentarily as he thought about what it must have been like, watching as your child lay injured and trapped in a basement. No way out, no help available... He briefly closed his eyes before locking them on the monitors again. I don't know what I would do. If something happened to Joshua, if I were stuck with him, or away from him, powerless to help... it's too hard to think about. He shoved terrible images of bloodied blond hair and a tiny crumpled body away from his mind's eye, and was glad when Nikki's voice came over the intercom.

"We're just about to touch down, folks. Please remain seated, we'll get you all out as quickly as possible."

Dominic grinned slightly at the comment, and wiped his face with a hand when Nikki furthered the comment in his earpiece.

"I feel like an air hostess or something," she said, and chuckled. "Keep 'em calm, Tynan."

"Will do," he answered quietly.

A few of the nearer parents briefly turned around, and Dominic gave them a mild smile.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2163 is a reply to message #2162] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: lillehafrue Sent: 10/1/2006 6:35 PM

Boulder, Colorado, Saturday, August, 4th, 3:45pm local time.

Luke Morel stood in the doorway, his arms folded across his chest. "That's it? You're just leaving?"

Barry sighed. "Luke, don't."

"Don't what? I'm supposed to be happy about this?" Luke marched over and pulled the shirt out of his lover's hand. "You're giving up on four years?"

Barry sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. "You think this is easy for me? I love you."

The anger drained out of Luke and he sat down on the bed, next to Barry. "Then why are you leaving?" he asked quietly.

Barry looked over at him. "Luke, are you happy? I mean, really happy?"

Luke's shoulders slumped. "I... don't know."

"I do. Babe, we never see each other! You're up at the SAR cabin for weeks and since I got that promotion, I'm always on the road." He took Luke's hand. "It's nobody's fault. We've just drifted in different directions."

Luke's fingers curled around Barry's. "Couldn't we try?" he asked softly, already knowing the answer.

"We've been trying for what, a year now?" Barry shook his head. "It's just not working." He got up and resumed his packing.

Luke sighed. "I'm sorry, Bar."

Barry smiled. "There's nothing to be sorry for, Luke. This sort of thing happens to the best relationships." His green eyes twinkled. "And you have to admit, this was one of the best." He wiggled his eyebrows seductively.

Luke couldn't help but laugh. He got to his feet and gave Barry a quick, hard hug. "I've got to take the mutt for a run. Will you be here later?"

Barry nodded. "The moving van isn't coming until tomorrow. Then off to LA by the end of the week."

"Then how about we meet at Carelli's in a couple of hours? A last supper kind of thing."

"I'm only moving, babe! Not dying!" Barry laughed. "But sure. See you then."

Luke started to leave, then paused. "Bar, I love you. And...I'll miss you." Then he turned and walked out the door.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2164 is a reply to message #2163] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 10/1/2006 7:44 PM

Sunday, August 5, 9:35 a.m., Tracy Island time, in orbital approach to Danger Zone, Thunderbird Three (4:35 p.m., previous day, Murray Gill, KS)

Alan came up in the tiny lift, rubbing his hands. "Your turn, Callie," he said as he sat down behind the pilot's console.

"Thanks," she said as she rose. "Is everything still hot?"

"Yeah," Alan replied, checking over the settings and nodding with approval to see all was in order. He put his communicator in his ear. "We left you plenty of coffee, too."

"I'm looking forward to it." Callie entered the lift and pushed the switch that would bring her one level down to where the living quarters/infirmary level was. The smell of coffee and of bacon filled the air, and her stomach rumbled at the scent of it. "Breakfast twice in one day!" she quipped as she made her way around the central column to where the tiny eating area was. "Einstein?" she called, thinking she had missed the engineer, as she didn't see him. "Einstein?"

A voice sounded in her ear communicator. "Yes, Ursa?"

"Where are you?"

"In the, uh, lounge," Brains replied. "I thought I'd better clear the way so you could change your uniform."

"Oh. Thanks." Callie sighed slightly. "I'll let you know when the coast is clear."

"F-A-B," Brains replied.

As Callie began to strip off her grubby uniform, she recalled the beginning of their journey. The trip to Thunderbird Three had been a whirlwind in itself. Grandma Tracy and Kyrano were waiting in the lounge when the astronauts, followed in a few moments by Elise, entered the room.

"Now, here's a boxed breakfast for each of you," Grandma said as the three astronauts sat down on the green sofa. "I expect you to eat every bite on your way up to the rescue zone!"

"But Gran... GM!" Alan began to protest. "We had breakfast on our way to..."

Emily cut in. "I am aware that you each had MREs, but land's sakes! Those are not a proper breakfast! These boxes are!"
Alan appealed silently to his father, who shook his head. "In matters of food, Indy, I do not argue with her."

"And he's wise not to do so," Emily snapped. "Now, K has already put clean uniforms in Three for you, uh, Indy, and for you, um, Ursa. Change into them on the way." She looked the two already tired operatives up and down. "We have a reputation to uphold and it wouldn't do to have you present yourself to the public in grubby uniforms." She shook a finger at Alan and Brains. "I expect you two to be gentlemen..."

"That's quite enough," Jeff said curtly, shutting off his mother's harangue. "The boys know their manners and they all know their job. It's time we sent them on their way." He turned to address the trio. "Quasar has more information to download to you. Good luck, and keep us posted."

"F-A-B," Alan responded smartly. Jeff pressed on the button, and the sofa began to lower into the floor. As it did, Callie could hear Mrs. Tracy say to Elise, "Now as for you, young lady, it's off to the dining room with you..."

She slid her clean uniform pants up over her hips and buttoned them, zipping up the fly, then replaced the communicator in her ear. "I'm decent, Einstein, if you want to come up. I could use the company."

"On my way."

Callie had her boots on by the time Brains made it up the one level. He didn't have a visor; they still had to come up with one that mimicked his eyeglass prescription, but he looked smart in his dark brown shirt. "Feel better?" he asked as he poured himself a travel mug of coffee.

"Somewhat. I'll feel even better when I get a shower."

"While you eat, I'll let both you and Indy see what I've decided on as a solution to this problem."

Callie sat down at the tiny table and Brains opened up his laptop computer. "You with me Indy?"

"Reading you strength five," he said.

"Quasar?"

A small box popped up on the computer screen. "I'm here," John said, the small picture a live representation of him.

"Good."

Callie took a bite of pancake as Brains began to talk. "We're on a slingshot trajectory that should bring us into the danger zone within our time frame. Two of us will space walk over to the satellites with the goal of turning off the malfunctioning thruster. Then we have the option of planting charges to destroy the two satellites, cutting them apart and setting them adrift, or changing their trajectory so they re-enter the atmosphere and burn up there."

"Destroying the two satellites is going to create headaches of its own," Callie said. "The debris itself could damage the ISS, and not only them, but other manned or unmanned satellites in low Earth orbit. And there's no guarantee that the satellites would burn up completely on reentry, either."

"Setting them adrift may also cause problems further down the road," Alan added.

"Agreed. I may have another solution, though." Callie took a gulp of juice, then continued, "Take the satellites in close tether and drag them out to a higher orbit, or even shove them out of Earth orbit entirely."

"As tempting as that is," Brains said, "we just don't have the time. We may be needed back at the Danger Zone in Kansas."

"They'll be wrapping up at the high school soon," John said. "Base says you're to take as long as you need, within reason."

"Who is going to space walk?" Alan asked.

Brains and Callie exchanged glances. "I have friends on the ISS, and I don't want to run the risk of being recognized," she said. "So whichever job is going to minimize that possibility, I'll do."

"F-A-B," Alan said. "ETA to Danger Zone, forty-five minutes."

"I'll keep in touch. Thunderbird Five on standby," John said. His picture went static. Callie and Brains exchanged glances.

"So," Brains asked, taking his communicator out of his ear and sitting down across the table from her with his coffee. "Who do you know on the ISS?"

Callie swallowed her mouthful, and began to tell him.



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 #2165 is a reply to message #2164] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 10/2/2006 4:37 PM

Saturday, August 4, 5:10 p.m., Murray Gill, KS (10:10 a.m., August 5, Tracy Island)

Kat adjusted the grip on two of the DOMO's arms, tightening the grasp that the machine had on the slab of concrete. There's a lot of debris behind this. I can't let it fall, not now, when there are still children to bring out from the basement.

She glanced back at the open hole. A Boy Scout was climbing out, a small girl on his back, her skinny arms around his neck. An awestruck expression grew on her smudged and dusty face while she gazed, wide-eyed, at the DOMO as she was carried past. Kat smiled, but her smile faded she noted with sadness the prosthetic limb on the girl's right leg. So young, she thought. Too young, really. I wish all children could be whole, but I know that tragedy strikes even the youngest. Sighing, she turned back to the dials of the DOMO. I am just thankful that no one was killed here. That would have been a true tragedy.

Another Boy Scout emerged, this one carrying a couple of tiny walkers. Scott had finally decided the most expedient thing to do would be to carry those who could not walk and bring out the appliances as quickly as possible. Jeff had agreed.

"For some of these families, those wheelchairs and walkers cost a pretty penny, and they can't afford to replace them. And for the children, they mean mobility... and dignity. So make sure they're all retrieved, Maverick. It's important."

As long as they don't jeopardize the safety of the team, I will, Scott had thought at the time. Now, as he watched the small parade of IR personnel, Boy Scouts, parents and onlookers emerge from the depth of the high school, he knew it had been the right decision to make. Automatically, he glanced over at the spot where Thunderbird One had been parked. It was still vacant, and he glanced at the chronometer on Mobile Control. "Where the hell is she?" he muttered irritably. "She should be back by now."

He was about to call Thunderbird One and get an update, when Gordon approached, followed by a woman and four men, three in the uniforms of Scoutmaster, and one in grubby looking civilian clothes.

"Maverick?" Gordon began. "This is Ms. Feller, and this is Mayor Riverton." He introduced the scoutmasters as well. "Ms. Feller's been helping with the triage and says that everyone's been tended to. The scoutmasters have been organizing transportation to a shelter for those whose cars were damaged by the tornado."

"And I just want to say thank you on behalf of all those here, today," Tom Riverton said warmly, holding out his hand. Scott took it and shook it firmly. "You and your people have done a fantastic job today, and we really appreciate it."

"You're welcome, Mayor Riverton. I'm glad we could help," Scott replied, smiling. He was glad that his face was mostly covered by hat and visor; Mayor Riverton looked vaguely familiar.

"Is the young man I spoke with at first here? I wanted to thank him, too," Tom asked, glancing around.

"No, sir, he's not, but I'll pass along your thanks."

"Right." The mayor looked around once more, this time taking in the still-dark sky, and shook his head. "I have a feeling those storms aren't through with us yet. I'd better see to getting everyone under cover, and find out how our emergency services people are doing. Again, thanks for all your help."

Scott nodded, and the small group moved off. He sat back down at Mobile Control, toggling a switch.

"Van Gogh from Mobile Control, how's it going in there?"

Inside the basement of the high school, Virgil folded up the last of the child-sized wheelchairs, checking to see that there was an identification tag on it. He touched his earphone. "Van Gogh here. We're wrapping things up. Everyone's out; just getting the last of the equipment around."

"F-A-B, Van Gogh. Mobile Control out."

Brandon swept his flashlight around, making sure that they'd gotten all the equipment, both what belonged to the children, and what belonged to IR. He stopped as he spied something red sticking out of the rubble.

"Come on, Big Mac. Time to go," Virgil said as he hefted the wheelchair and headed for the opening.

"Just a minute." Brandon shifted his light to the other hand, shifting the pair of tiny crutches he held to accommodate the flashlight. He reached down and pulled the red ribbon from the debris, then held it up for Virgil to see. "Thought someone might be missing this," he said as he tucked the ribbon into a vest pocket. Then he joined Virgil at the doorway and the two of them left together.

"Mobile Control, we're clear," Virgil said as they passed by the DOMO, giving Kat a wide smile.

"F-A-B, Van Gogh." Scott tapped his earpiece. "DOMO from Mobile Control."

Kat reached up to respond. "MGM here, Mobile Control."

"We're clear. Time to put the DOMO to bed."

"F-A-B," Kat responded. She carefully backed up the equipment, getting out of range of the slab, extending the supporting arms to their furthest length before cutting power to the pads. The cement slab fell with a cloud of cement dust and a resounding boom! Virgil and Brandon turned around, startled, but relaxed as they saw Kat maneuver the machine out of the cloud and trundle toward them.

"See you at Two!" she called as she passed them by. Brandon shook his head, then brought the crutches over to a pickup truck. Arrangements had been made for the families to collect the equipment once the tornado threat was over.

"Thunderbird One from Mobile Control." Scott tried to bury his irritation as he called. "Position and ETA, please."

"Mobile Control, this is Thunderbird One," Elise's voice came back into his earphone. "I am five minutes from the US west coast, and twenty minutes from your position." She paused, then added, "I was shanghaied at base and virtually force-fed breakfast."

Scott sighed. "F-A-B, Frankie, understood. Return to the Rescue Zone."

"F-A-B," she replied. "Thunderbird One, out."

Scott glanced across to Thunderbird Two, where Virgil was now supervising the loading of the pod. "Guess there's just one more venue to hear from." He tapped his earphone again. "Thunderbird Seven from Mobile Control, come in please."

"Thunderbird Seven here, go ahead, Maverick." Dianne sounded chipper.

"Status report please, Doc."

"We're already on our way back to your position," she said. "All patients unloaded, and all equipment accounted for."

Scott smiled. "F-A-B, Doc. Just waiting for you folks, then we're headed out."

"On our way, Maverick. See you soon."

Scott ran a hand through his hair and stood, stretching. Just need Thunderbird One and we'll see if we have a new assignment. If not, we're outta here... after I swing by the old homestead and see how it's fared.

Just then, the sirens went off.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2166 is a reply to message #2165] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Hobbeth Sent: 10/3/2006 3:38 PM

Scott was startled for a moment, then he looked over toward the pickup and the vans that would take the rest of the locals to shelter. There weren't many -- only a dozen or so. The others were either at the hospital, or had been able to leave in their own vehicles. He saw the mayor looking at him, and waving.

"Don't worry about us now," he shouted through cupped hands. "We'll get the rest of us to shelter. Take care of your own people."

Scott waved back, then took off running for Thunderbird Two, which stood raised above the pod. "Everyone inside!" He skidded to a stop just outside the pod, and tapped his earpiece. "Thunderbird Five from Mobile Control. We're getting sirens here. What is the status of the weather?"

"Two more tornadoes have touched down about three miles east of you, Maverick, but they are moving south. There is nothing in your immediate area at the moment. There's bad news, though. There is one moving straight toward Seven. I've warned Doc, but I don't know if she can avoid it."

Damn! "FAB, Quasar. Keep me posted." Scott turned back to get Mobile Control, and simultaneously called Virgil. "Van Gogh, Thunderbird Seven may be in danger. We're loading the last of the equipment in Two. Be ready to lift off the moment we hear anything."

"Maverick, what if Seven is damaged?"

"We take care of the personnel first, and worry about the vehicle later. No arguments!"

"FAB."

Scott ran back to get his equipment, and found Gordon at his heels. He turned to tell him to go back, but his brother interrupted him, saying, "The others can handle what's left. It'll go faster with two of us handling Mobile Control. C'mon; let's get going!"

Scott knew Gordon was right, so he gestured for his brother to take one side, while he took the other. Together they moved the equipment into the pod and Gordon closed the hatch. Virgil lowered Two down.

"If Seven gets here intact, I can raise it again, so Doc can bring it into the pod. But I want us to be safe, in case another tornado hits here. Those things can't affect us in this baby."



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2167 is a reply to message #2166] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: TracyFan4Ever Sent: 10/4/2006 8:07 PM

******Sunday, August 5, 10:10 a.m., Tracy Island time, in orbital approach to Danger Zone, Thunderbird Three (5:10 p.m., previous day, Murray Gill, KS)******

Callie and Brains were conversing about her friends on the ISS when Alan spoke to them both. "Einstein, Ursa, we're approaching the Danger Zone. Report to the main control room immediately."
"Guess it's time," she said. "We've got to plan this out just right."

They walked to the elevator which opened for them. "There's really only room for one person," Brains said. "Therefore, ladies first."

With a blush, Callie said, "Uh, thank you, Brains." She stepped into the elevator and went up. They're really not used to having females in this vessel, she thought.

Moments later, when Callie and Brains met with Alan, he opened communications with John in Thunderbird Five and Jeff back at base. "Boss, Quasar, we've arrived at the Danger Zone. Thunderbird Three is now maintaining constant speed with the fused satellites."

Jeff nodded. "Very well, Indy. Quasar, what's the current position of the satellites in relation to the ISS?"

Checking the calculations, John answered, "The satellites are now five hours away from colliding with the ISS, and earth position is still Quito, Ecuador."

"Okay, Quasar. Now, Indy, have you and the others decided who will spacewalk to the satellites?"

Callie spoke up. "Boss, even though I haven't done a spacewalk since my last assignment at the ISS in December, it's best if I'm at least one of the people involved. This way, I won't risk being recognized by my colleagues or compromising IR's security."

Understanding she was still reeling from her encounter with the Hood, he nodded. "Very well, Ursa. However, I want you to keep your communication restricted to Thunderbird Three and Thunderbird Five."

"F-A-B, Boss." I almost blew it last time. This time it won't even be close to happening.

"Who else will go with Ursa?"

"I will be, Boss," Brains answered. "This way, Indy can keep communications open while we work."

Alan smiled. "Good idea, Einstein."

"Wait, I just realized something," said Callie seriously. "We'll need schematics for both the HDTV satellite and the GOES-4."

John said, "Ahead of you, Ursa. I already got them and am uploading them into Thunderbird Three's computer system."

Noting the sound of his voice, Alan, Brains, and Callie all looked at each other. She then asked, "Quasar, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Ursa," he snapped. "The upload's complete. You can get this done now."

"F-A-B, Quasar. I'll get them printed out immediately and then get into my space suit." As she paced towards the computer, she became concerned. I've never heard John like this before. I hope everything's okay.

Brains walked with Callie to the main computer. "After you get the blueprints, I'll see if I can isolate the area of the ISS which may be impacted if we fail."

Jeff shook his head. "No, Einstein. We won't fail. Good luck to all three of you."

Alan said, "F-A-B, Boss. Thunderbird Three, out."

Callie completed the printouts and went back down the elevator to get into her space suit.

When Brains calculated the impact point on the ISS, he shook his head. "It'll hit the biochemstiry, botany, and agricultural labs. Indy?"

"Yeah?"

"Notify the ISS that the impact point will be the nature labs area."

"F-A-B, Einstein."

Callie was clipping the top of her space suit when she heard Brains' dreaded words. "Oh, no...Mitzi and Xiang..."

Brains joined her in the "lounge" to discuss what they would do during their spacewalk. "We'll need cutting equipment to separate the satellites, but our first order of business is to shut off the thruster."

"Right. I'll grab the cutting gear."

After a few minutes, the pair were completely dressed in their space suits. Tethered to make sure they would not drift away, they exited the airlock and floated their way to the satellites.



98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2168 is a reply to message #2167] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: AmandaTracyandFred Sent: 10/4/2006 8:18 PM

(Saturday, August 4, 2068 Wichita, KS 5:30 p.m./ Saturday, August 5, 2068, Tracy Island 10:30 a.m.)

The sky overhead still seemed streaky and boiling. Her long auburn hair was pulled to the side from the winds that had yet to let up. She growled as she fought to keep the car on road due to the fierceness of the winds that seemed to come straight down the road she was on. Rather than think about the aches and pains that were traveling up and down her body, she concentrated on simply getting to the Regis Hotel. What was normally a twenty minute drive, turned into forty minutes as she had to avoid paramedics rushing to their danger scenes, police racing about answering calls, and temporary backups due to the weather. As she crept along, she heard what sounded like small rocks hitting the roof of the car and bouncing off the windshield. "Just hold together, baby. Just stay in one piece. I just need to get to the hotel and we're home free!" she told herself as she drove.

Soon the hailstorm abated, and she was able to increase her speed until she reached Wichita and the neon lights of the Regis Hotel beckoned her like a lighthouse in the dark. She drove up into the circular drive, and got out throwing the keys to the valet. "Thank you!" she called out as she walked into the hotel and into the elegant lobby.

Everything in the Regis lobby glittered with gold. The floor was a plushy gold and white. The lamps on all the tables were gold. Even the lobby's check-in desk was layered in a gold paneling. Walking up to it, Heather set her credit card down and said, "I need a suite for a week and I don't care where it's at."

The name tag on the man's lapel read Chase. He studied the scruffy-looking woman with hair all askew and replied understandingly. "You look like you need a long rest. I have the perfect suite. It's up on the fifteenth floor."

"I'll take it," she sighed. "Is the salon open?"

"Oh, yes, Ma'am," he said. "Not busy right now either. Did you have any luggage to have taken up?"

Heather sighed at the question. "Unfortunately, no."

Following the surprised desk clerk's finger, Heather walked down the hallway of gold lit by big glass globes towards the salon, beginning to relax as she went. Soon, she found herself in stepping into a large, posh, women's boutique filled with everything from smart slacks and silk designer shirts, bras and panties, and nightwear. "Perfect!" Heather thought. "I just don't have the strength to endure major shopping. I just want to get it and go!"

Two female clerks eyed her from the crystal clear counter full of expensive toiletries. The shorter of the two with platinum blonde hair and tiny, pert nose whispered to her partner, "No way am I taking that lady. Lizzy, you take her!"

Elizabeth, a fifteen year veteran clerk, stared down at the petite younger woman, whispered back. "Why don't you want to help her?"

Jackie took in the black flight jacket tugged over a mannish khaki uniform shirt with the Tracy Industries logo: and the name Heather stitched underneath it. The shirt was tucked into a pair of dark brown slacks and finished off with a pair of boots.

"She's not exactly Rosie the Riveter, but she's darn close! Those women always give me a hard time! Would you do it, Lizzie?"

With a satisfied smile, Elizabeth agreed, thinking as she looked at Heather's tired, weary eyes, "Jackie, you just passed up the commission of a lifetime and you're going to hate me.




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2169 is a reply to message #2168] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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From: Tikatu Sent: 10/4/2006 8:33 PM

Saturday, August, 4, 2068, 5:20 p.m., local time, between Wichita and Murray Gill (10:30 a.m., next day, Tracy Island)

"Thunderbird Seven from Thunderbird Five," John's tense voice called to Dianne. "You've got a tornado on your tail, Doc. To the port side, moving at 75 mph."

The train-like roar of the tornado could be heard above the engines of Thunderbird Seven. "F-A-B, Thunderbird Five." Dianne risked a slight glance behind her. "Everybody buckled in securely? We may be in for a bumpy ride."

"F-A-B," answered both Nikki and Dom from behind her. Dom was tense; his fingers gripped the arms of the co-pilot's seat white knuckled. He'd seen the destructive power of a tornado more than once before today. Nikki looked scared, but had a hint of excitement in her eyes. Kent wasn't exactly given to tornadoes and this whole rescue was a first for her.

Dianne nodded once, her face set and intense. "Starting evasive maneuvers. Hang on!"

Thunderbird Seven peeled off at an angle, picking up speed, banking from left to right as much as the hoverjets would allow.

Nikki grunted as a particularly sharp bank threw her hard against the restraining straps. Yet above the silence of the cabin, the roar of the winds called, getting closer, then farther away, but never stopping.

"It's picked up speed, Doc!" John's voice could barely be heard above the winds.

"Ah know! Ah know!" Dianne cried. "Damn! Nothin's workin'! Ah can't pull far enough away!"

Suddenly, the winds diminished dramatically as Dianne punched the accelerator and moved the hovercraft off the roadway and over the open farmlands, taking a detour that she hoped would allow them to lose the funnel cloud. She relaxed a bit when the sounds of the winds died down to near silence.

"Whew!" she sighed, letting out a deep breath. Behind her, Nikki and Dom relaxed marginally and exchanged relieved smiles. "Looks like we shook it. Thunderbird Five from Thunderbird Seven: Quasar, how does it look?"

"Doc! Look out!" John yelled. "To starboard....!"

"Ohmigod!" Dianne shouted as the tornado came out of nowhere to her right. She fought with the steering yoke, trying to direct the hovercraft out of the twister's way. But the hoverjets that enabled Seven to pass over water and snow betrayed the Thunderbird today. The rear of the vessel lifted, the winds relentlessly tugging and tugging, then suddenly, within a blink of an eye, Thunderbird Seven was swept into the powerful vortex!

**********

"Mobile Control from Thunderbird Five, we have a code red emergency!"

Scott, just entering Thundbird Two's cockpit, jumped, grabbing onto the earphone, his blood running cold both at John's declaration and at the urgent tone of his voice.

"F-A-B, Thunderbird Five, what is the emergency?" He nodded to Virgil, who switched the signal over to the internal loudspeaker.

"Thunderbird Seven has been enveloped in a strong twister three miles northeast of your position." There were gasps of shock from all of the personnel in the cockpit. "I have lost communication with the three occupants, but their locater signals indicate that they are in the twister!" John's voice was tight.

"F-A-B, Thunderbird Five! Give me moment by moment updates." Scott replied, trying with his strong, authoritative tones to calm the agitated space monitor. "Download Seven's current position to Thunderbird Two; we're heading out now."

"F-A-B," John said.

"Thunderbird Five, standing by."

Scott's heart was beating hard in his chest as he spoke into the comm. again. "Thunderbird One from Thunderbird Two."

"Thunderbird One here," Elise replied.

"Frankie! We've got trouble. Thunderbird Seven has been sucked into a tornado. I need you to bleed every last ounce of speed out of One and get back here as soon as possible. Here are the current coordinates." He ran off the numbers that had just showed up on Thunderbird Two's guidance computer.

"F-A-B, Maverick!" Elise's voice was noticeably tighter. "I'll set a new record."

"Every last ounce, Frankie. Maverick out."

"Everyone, sit down!" Virgil called to the agitated crew. "That means you, too, Maverick."

"F-A-B." Scott sat, resisting the urge to jump up and start pacing. He knew he needed to think about what might be waiting for them and plan for it, but what weighed most in his mind at the moment was, What the hell am I going to tell Dad?

xxxx

Inside the twister, Dianne continued her fight with the control yoke, battling to keep her Thunderbird upright in the tremendous winds. She wasn't concerned about the ship tearing apart; like all of the other Thunderbirds it was made of super strong cahelium, one of Brains's best inventions. But the ship did have two parts, held together by the same sort of electromagnets that kept Thunderbird Two's pod in place.

High tension electrical wires, hanging in the path of the twister, broke from their moorings, snapping in the fury of the the storm. One danced along the skin of the mobile ambulance. The cabins were well insulated; the overdose of power did not reach the passengers. But the minuscule gap between cockpit and medical cabin was another matter.

A sudden vibration and screaming alarm alerted pilot and co-pilots that there was a problem. Glancing at the control panel nearest him, Dom's eyes widened. "Dianne! We have a fault on the electromagnets! They're coming loose!"

"Reroute power!" she called frantically.

"F-A-B!" Dom's fingers flew over the controls, but it was too late. The vibration turned to a second or two of violent shaking, then the medical cabin was torn away from its control cab! The sudden separation complete, the lighter cockpit tumbled and tumbled, out of control, buffeted about by the winds. Dom's grip renewed its strangle hold on the seat arms. Dianne's stomach threatened to revolt; she closed her eyes and looked away from the swirling brown air in front of her. She still held onto the control yoke, hoping that the hoverjets might be of use. Nikki jumped and gave an involuntary cry as a large piece of something unidentifiable smashed into the windshield, shattering itself on the strong polyhexane and dropping away.

"Just hold on!" Dianne cried. "We'll ride it out! Nothing can hurt the cab!

"Oh my God!" Nikki's horrified shout made Dianne open her eyes. They widened in paralyzing shock moments before the medical cabin filled the windshield, on a direct collision course!

She barely had time to shout out, "Brace your...!"

tornado trial, part one, by ArtisticRainey and Tikatu




98% pure evil...and loving every minute of it.
Luke Morel Rommel in Vest
Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2170 is a reply to message #2169] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
Messages: 478
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northeastern USA
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TB Pilot
Evil Genius
From: Tikatu Sent: 10/4/2006 8:40 PM

Saturday, August, 4, 2068, 5:20 p.m., local time, between Wichita and Murray Gill (10:30 a.m., next day, Tracy Island)

Gavin Belle looked up from his PDA as the news van headed south towards Murray Gill. "I hope International Rescue hasn't left yet. It'd be a feather in our collective cap to get some footage of them... or even an interview."

His cameraman, Mike Triton, who was listening to the emergency scanner, shook his head. "They haven't. From what I've heard on the EMS frequencies, their mobile hospital left Wichita General just a few minutes ago. They won't leave until its back with them."

Suddenly the tornado warning sirens went off around them. "Damn!" Gavin swore. "We'd better get under cover."

"Wait!" Gavin's sound man and driver, Eric, pointed to a spot ahead of them and to their left. "Is that what I think it is?"

"Hot damn, yes!" Gavin said, excitedly. "Thunderbird Seven! And it's being chased by a tornado! Go after it!" He turned to Mike. "Get the camera on and keep your lens on that ship!"

"Whatever you say, boss." Mike hoisted the camera to his shoulders and leaned forward, shooting out through the windshield as they followed the massive medical ship's progress.

They watched as the tornado seemed to tease the white medical ship for a few moments, following its path as the Thunderbird dodged and weaved, leaving the tarmac, and heading over open fields. Then suddenly disaster struck! Thunderbird 7 was picked up into the twister and tossed around like she weighed nothing. The ship spun and Gavin thought he could almost hear the screams of the people inside.

"Keep filming!" Gavin shouted.

The twister encountered some high tension wires, and the dirty vortex was suddenly filled with blue and white electricity, arcing across the Thunderbird. To their horror, the giant medical freighter was torn into two sections. The larger back end whirled off into the brown maelstrom, showing up only now and then. The smaller section rolled, moving faster than the bigger, rectangular section. Gavin and his crew let out gasps of shock as the larger part slammed into the smaller, turning on one axis to slam again into the cab's side. It then dropped like a stone, rolling twice before coming to a stop. The smaller section hovered for what seemed like eternity, then was spit out of the tornado, falling to the ground with a sickening crunch roughly a half kilometer away.

As fast as it had started, the tornado moved off, finally dissipating in the distance.

Gavin and his crew looked at each other for a moment, then Eric put the pedal to the floor, pulling a U-turn and speeding off towards the wreckage. He burned rubber, weaving in and out of the stopped cars, and passing the people who were climbing out of the ditches, and pointing in the direction of the white vehicle. Gavin pulled open his phone, and called the office. "I've just uploaded some footage that is dynamite, and I should be uploading some more soon! Story of the Year stuff! A Thunderbird is down! Send out the chopper! We'll need aerial footage!"

Eric pulled onto a dirt road that he figured would get them close to the downed craft. It did, and he pulled up beside the field where the smaller portion had come to rest. They all climbed out of the van, and got ready to start filming.

"This is fantastic! Roll the sound! Roll the sound!!" Gavin shouted as Eric gave him the thumbs up. "This is Gavin Belle, reporting live from near Murray Gill, Kansas. Earlier today, tornados struck this sleepy Mid-west town, causing a major catastrophe. But, saviors arrived in the form of International Rescue. They valiantly did their duty, saving the trapped townspeople, knocking down potential hazards, everything we have come to expect from these extraordinary people. But now, it looks as if they are the ones in need of rescue. A rogue twister has just struck Thunderbird 7, the medical frigate." He swept his arm behind him. "As you can clearly see, it is highly unlikely that any of them have survived."

Mike panned the camera towards the disaster scene. "This appears to be the control cab of the vessel known as Thunderbird Seven. Let's see if there's anyone alive inside!"

exclusive footage by Lillehafrue and Tikatu




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

[Updated on: Wed, 22 April 2015 19:51] by Moderator

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Re: Home is Where the Heart Is [message #2171 is a reply to message #2170] Sun, 29 July 2012 19:54 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
Lillehafrue is currently offline  Lillehafrue
Messages: 478
Registered: July 2012
Location: Northeastern USA
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TB Pilot
Evil Genius
From: Tikatu Sent: 10/5/2006 7:28 AM

Once Callie and Brains were gone, Alan kept his eyes on the viewscreen that showed him what was going on outside, but put his earphone in, and tapped it.

"Indy to Quasar."

John, in the middle of updating both Virgil and Elise on Thunderbird Seven's position, reached over and keyed in his brother's call, adding it to the two others he had going. "What is it, Indy? I'm a little busy right now."

"What's going on?" Alan asked, frowning. "You don't speak to people the way you spoke to Ursa without a damn good reason."

"I don't have time for this, Indy," John said, his tone warning. He paused, peering at the locater screen. "Finally! They've stopped moving. Thunderbirds One and Two from Thunderbird Five, Thunderbird Seven has stopped moving. I'm downloading coordinates for you now."

"F-A-B," came the overlapping voices of Virgil and Elise. "Proceeding to that position now," Elise added.

"F-A-B," John replied. He turned back to Alan, and sighed. "We have a code red, Indy. Thunderbird Seven's in trouble, big trouble. I don't have time to explain it more than that."

"Code red!?" Alan, who had heard the whole exchange between the other three Thunderbirds, bit back his questions. "All right. I'll let you deal with it. But as soon as we're done here, I want all the details."

"You'll get them, I promise." John looked up at one of the nearby vid screens. It picked up the satellite news programs, filtering them through a program similar to the one used on the audio pick up. The screen had settled on the M.W.A.N. station, and John groaned as he saw a line of text crawl along the blue stripe at the bottom of the screen. "Damn!"

"What is it?"

"The media's already gotten wind of this! 'International Rescue craft downed by tornado; more details as they become available'," John read.

Alan gasped as his brother read the notice. "Downed by a tornado? Is everyone okay? What the hell happened?!"

"I don't know!" John cried. "All I know is that it got swept up in a tornado, and it seems to have landed somewhere. One and Two are on their way."

"Does Da... the Boss know?" Alan asked, his eyes big with disbelief.

"Oh God." John groaned. "No, Indy, he doesn't, and I'm not going to be the one to tell him, either!" He shook his head. "I need to keep this open so I can listen for calls from Seven, okay? Please, Indy. I'll get you details as soon as I have them!"

Alan let out a deep breath, and nodded. "All right." He glanced up. "Einstein and Ursa are at the satellite now. Get back to me as soon as you can."

"F-A-B," John replied. He paused, then added, "Indy?"

"Yeah?"

"Pray."

Alan bit his lower lip, and nodded again. "I'm not much of a praying man, but... yeah. Talk to you soon, Quasar."
John nodded curtly. "Thunderbird Five out."

God, I hope they're okay, Alan prayed. Dad couldn't stand to lose... Mom. And Dom... Joshua can't lose him! Oh dear God... Nikki's in there too! Please, please let them be okay!

He rubbed his eyes, ridding them of a sudden, unexpected moisture, then turned his attention back to the spacewalking duo just in time to hear Brains say, "We're going to deal with the thruster first."




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