The following story is the result of my request in the 2014 FicSwap challenge on TIWF written by my fellow forum member Thunderbird5 who did a great job.

The Request:

"Alan, Scott and Virgil are unavailable, leaving John and Gordon the only Tracy boys left. Write a story involving them in a rescue."


The Little Titanic

 by Thunderbird5


It was a lovely day just off the coast of Mexico, a day to take a group of students out to sea for a week of fun and games. The Little Titanic, as she was called by her captain, was only about six years old and was well taken care of. She held a crew of five men and six young ones ranging from the ages of thirteen to sixteen years old. The children got a little bit of training on how to run a ship, do some cooking and to top it all off they were given some safety training as well.


The day had gone off without a hitch and the children were all arguing over who would be doing the dishes and who would be cleaning the ship’s deck. Three boys and three girls were standing near the stern of the vessel. Below decks the captain walked down a short corridor towards the front, smiling as he went. Arriving in the control room he heard his communications officer say, “Looks like we’re heading straight into danger. There’s a cyclone heading toward us, it’s about three hours away.”


Walking up to the console where the communications officer was currently hunched over the weather radar, the captain peered at the readings. “We’ll have to turn this ship around and head to the mainland before this cyclone hits.”


The young man at the ship’s controls, the captain’s first mate, turned around with wide eyes, alarmed at what his captain had just said. “Sir, there’s no way we’ll be able to make a full turn at this speed. The ship’s engines won’t be able to handle that.”


Looking out of the ship’s front window, the captain watched as dark clouds gathered on the horizon. “I know, but we have six children on this ship and they are my responsibility. If we don’t turn around now, we’ll never be able to outrun this thing. Full turnaround, my boy.”


* * * * *


Down below the deck the two remaining crew members were checking over the ship’s supplies. They could feel the ship making a hard turn to the left. That’s when they heard and felt a small explosion. It rocked the ship and then the sound of water rushing in somewhere could be heard. Jumping up, they ran full-tilt to the engine room, only to find themselves confronted with a huge hole on one side of the room. They knew they only had a few minutes to try and plug the hole. They were trained to do this, but never had they ended up in a real situation like this one. Moving quickly, they tried their best to close the hole. Just as they thought they might have won, it opened back up even wider this time.


* * * * *


While all this had been going on, the kids had finally decided that it was the girls’ turn to do the dishes and the boys’ turn to clean the deck. The girls had just finished packing away the dishes when the ship made a sharp turn to the left, causing everything to come spilling out of the cupboards. Looking at the mess before them, they began to pick everything up once more, grumbling about bad drivers existing even on the water.


* * * * *


After cleaning the deck, the boys headed down to the kitchen to check on the girls. As they passed the cleaning supply closet they shoved their buckets and sponges inside. They were halfway to the kitchen when a wave of water swept them off their feet and up against a wall. Seeing the concerned looks on his friends’ faces, one of the boys joked, “Hey, it might be the girls trying to boil water again.”


Picking himself up off the floor, another of the boys spoke up. “Let’s go see if the girls are okay, then we can tell the captain that we have a huge problem here.”


* * * * *


Running as fast as they could, the two now-soaking wet crew members made their way to the control room. Once there they told the captain about the gaping hole in the engine room and that they had tried to plug it, only for it to open again. Turning to his communications officer, who was busy checking the weather forecast, the captain snapped, “Sound the alarm, we have to abandon ship!”


Grabbing the radio as the rest of his crew scrambled to get the lifeboats ready, the captain hoped that someone would be able to save them in time.


* * * *


On Tracy Island things had been quiet for quite some time; no rescues and not even a prank was played to get a brother or two all worked up. Since the world was calm for once, Jeff had decided to send Scott and Virgil to check on a few projects on the mainland. Alan and Tin-Tin had gone to Lady Penelope’s mansion in England. Brains had gone up to Five two days before to relieve John, and so only John and Gordon were left on the island to man International Rescue should any calls come in.


John had found himself a book to read since there was nothing else for him to do. It was  too hot outside to even go for a walk. Gordon loved to keep his brothers on their toes, but he also knew that there was a limit to it all. Stepping outside the lounge doors, Gordon looked out to sea. There wasn’t even any wind blowing and so the ocean looked like a giant mirror reflecting the sun. He wanted to go for a swim, but the heat was just too much for all of them today.


Stepping back inside, Gordon was about to head to the kitchen for a snack when Jeff appeared with a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a jug of water in the other. “You hungry, son?”


Walking over to his father, Gordon took the jug of water and placed it on the large desk, then went to fetch two glasses from the kitchen. Reentering the lounge, he grinned as his stomach growled. “I was just about to get some snacks, Dad, thanks. Should I call John to come have lunch with us?”


Sitting down on one of the chairs nearest the desk, Jeff answered, “Yes, please. Oh, remember to bring another glass for your brother.”


When John and Gordon each had a glass of water in one hand and a sandwich in the other, they found themselves a chair to sit on. Taking a bite of his sandwich, Gordon smiled after swallowing half his glass of water with it. “This is good, Father.”


Smiling at his two sons, Jeff said, “Ham and cheese, my favorite.”


Looking towards the sea, John sighed. “I wonder what the others are up to right now?”


Taking another bite from his sandwich, Gordon watched John as he started to eat his own sandwiches. “Well, I know what Alan and Tin-Tin are doing: shopping! Virgil and Scott are probably wishing that they were back home again and not stuck with paperwork.”


Taking another sandwich for himself, Jeff couldn’t help but grin inwardly. “Oh, Gordon, you’ll be the next one to be stuck with paperwork in a few weeks' time.”


John smiled behind his glass of water. “Yeah, and you’ll have even more than the others if you aren’t careful around Dad. As for Tin-Tin and Alan, it's more likely that Tin-Tin’s shopping and Alan’s carrying everything. That’s if he made her mad enough.”


Reaching out for another sandwich, Gordon gave a yelp when John swiped the last one off the plate. “Hey, I was aiming for that one.”


Grinning, John held the sandwich up for a moment as if he was inspecting it before breaking it in half and holding one half out to Gordon. “Here, we’ll share this one, then.”


Gordon took it gratefully. “Thanks.”


Jeff smiled at his boys. “You would think that you haven't eaten in ten years by the speed you boys are going.”


After lunch, Gordon and John were just about to leave the lounge when Brains called in. As soon as Jeff activated the link to Five, Brains started talking. “We have a s-small ship in trouble j-just off the c-coast of Mexico. It has a crew of five along with six children on-board. Local Search and Rescue are unable to respond; they’re dealing w-with a flood on the mainland.”


Seeing John and Gordon waiting near the desk, Jeff wondered for a moment why this had to happen when Virgil wasn’t around to fly Thunderbird Two. “Brains, what’s the reason the ship’s in trouble?”


“There’s a cyclone heading straight for them. The captain tried to make a full turn around to head back to the mainland and get the children to safety, but the ship’s engines were unable to handle the full turn. They exploded, ripping a hole into the side of the ship. Two of the crew tried to plug it, but they weren’t successful.”


Walking over to the painting that would upend him to Thunderbird Two’s chute, Gordon asked, “Pod Four?”


Nodding at Gordon, Jeff answered, “Yes, you might need Four to patch up the hole. Be careful out there.”


Turning to John, who was now waiting at the lift that would take him down to Thunderbird Two’s hangar, Jeff nodded his head at him. “Keep in contact with Brains, he’ll send you more information on the way.”


Stepping inside the lift, John waved at his dad. “Will do, Father. It should be an easy rescue.”


When John finally sat down behind Gordon, he observed, “If we fly fast enough, we might be able to get those people out of there before the cyclone is on them.”


As Thunderbird Two made her way down the runway, Gordon  mused, “Well, hopefully we’ll be out of there before that cyclone gets there. It feels odd not having Virgil here. We’ll have to be careful not to put a scratch or dent on Two. Can you see if Brains has anymore information on the ship and cyclone?”


As Thunderbird Two lifted off and headed in the direction of the stranded ship and its crew, John contacted Brains. “Thunderbird Two to Thunderbird Five, any more information on the ship and cyclone?”


“This is Thunderbird Five. Yes, f-from what the captain just t-told me, they might have to a-abandon ship soon. Two of the six k-kids are still somewhere on the ship. The cyclone’s not far off. W-Wind speeds are about forty kilometers per hour.”


“Any idea how long it’ll be before the cyclone gets there?”


Looking at one of his nearby monitors, Brains answered, “W-Well, two hours. One hour by the time you get there.”


John knew that they would have to move fast when they got there. “Thanks, Brains. Keep us updated.”


Cutting the link to Five, John asked, “So how will we do this? There’re two kids lost somewhere on that ship and a hole in the side of it.”


Increasing Thunderbird Two’s speed, Gordon thought a few moments before answering. “Well, I could go down in Four and try to fix that hole, depending on how big it is. If the ship’s halfway underwater then we should find the two missing kids if they haven’t been found by the time we’re there. One of us has to go down with the capsule if Four’s not needed.”


“Well, obviously you’re the one going down in Four if the ship’s still intact. If it’s halfway under I’ll go down there to search for the kids.”


John stood and walked to the door which would let him out into the corridor beyond. “Would you like some coffee to warm you up before the rescue? I’m going to make myself a cup and then I’ll fly for a while. You can go through Four’s pre-launch checks, just in case we need her.”


“Okay, I’ll take a cup. Oh, can you make that famous chocolate coffee of yours? I’ve tried to make it the way you do but it never tasted as good.”


John couldn’t help but smile at his brother, even if he couldn’t see it. “Sure, Gordo, coming right up.”


When John appeared a few minutes later, the smell of coffee mixed with hot chocolate filled the cockpit. Sniffing the air, Gordon licked his lips. “Ho, that smells so good.”


Handing Gordon a cup, John watched as his brother took a tentative sip. “Careful, it’s really hot. Take it down to Four with you, it'll take some time to cool off.”


Switching control over to John, Gordon got up and left the cockpit with his chocolate coffee in hand. Brains had sent a weather report to Thunderbird Two along with some other information which might come in handy later. John checked it and found that Brains had located a park near a Mexican hospital for them to land in after picking up the victims.


Down in Thunderbird Four’s pod, Gordon checked that all was in order. Sure, everything was checked and double-checked a few days ago, but it was best to be safe than to be sorry at the end. Opening the hatch to Thunderbird Four, Gordon went inside, careful not to spill his coffee on the floor. Sitting down in his chair and putting the hot cup down into a cup holder, Gordon began his pre-launch checks.


Some time later, pre-launch completed, Gordon went to Two's nose to check their rescue capsule. When he finally got back up to the cockpit, his cup was empty and so was John's.


John rose from the pilot's chair, took the two cups and headed for the door, letting Gordon take over the flying. When he returned a minute later and sat down behind his brother, he asked. “Everything ready down there?”


Nodding his head, Gordon looked at his watch. “Yup, everything’s ready to go. We’ll be there in about ten minutes.”


* * * * *


Everyone had gathered on the Little Titanic’s deck except two of the girls. It had started to rain and the captain knew that the cyclone wasn’t far off now. Turning to where the kids stood, he said, “Get into the lifeboat. If this ship goes we have to release the lifeboats quickly.”


One of the crew members who had been searching for the missing kids came walking out onto the deck looking a little lost. “Captain, I couldn’t find the missing kids. I’ve closed the watertight doors, so unless they give, this ship isn’t going anywhere. I only hope the girls aren’t somewhere down there behind those doors.”


* * * * *


The two missing girls had wound up back in the kitchen after failing to find a way out, and somehow they also closed the door, realizing too late that that wasn’t such a good idea. Trying to open the door again, they found that it was stuck. Sliding down the far wall, the girls held each others’ hands and hoped that someone would rescue them soon.


* * * * *


Soon the Little Titanic came into view. It was raining hard and the wind had gone from forty kilometers per hour to sixty. Looking at the ship on Two’s view screen, Gordon shook his head and, smiling slightly, said, “Is that a yacht or a smaller version of the Titanic?”


Eyes moving to the screen, John nodded. “Yup, there’s the name, Little Titanic. I guess whoever built that ship really loved the original Titanic. It looks like it’s still in good condition, at least.”


Gordon raised an eyebrow. “Except that it’s got a hole right there at the back end.” He pointed to a spot on the screen where the huge hole could be seen. “No way I’ll be able to fix that, it’s way too big. All we can do is to get down to that ship and get everyone out of there.”


Standing up and heading for the back of the cockpit, John said, “I’ll take some thermal blankets with me for the kids.”


Before heading down to the rescue capsule in Thunderbird Two’s nose, John got a few thermal blankets from one of the storage lockers. Stepping into the rescue capsule, he closed the hatch and activated the intercom. “I’m all set, Gordon. I’ll get everyone into the capsule and then if those kids are still missing, I’ll go after them.”


“FAB. Activating the rescue capsule winch now, so hang on tight. It’s a bit windy out there.”


Holding onto the railings, John heard Two's nose hatch doors open, then felt the capsule swinging gently from side to side as Gordon began to lower it. When the capsule was halfway down, a strong gust of wind sent it for a wild spin. Cursing under his breath, John held on until it stopped spinning. Activating the intercom again he asked, “What was that all about?”


Gordon had winced when the capsule had started spinning around. As soon as his brother’s question came through, he breathed a sigh of relief that John hadn’t been injured. “Hey, I’m not in control of the wind, you know. It picked up to seventy-five kilometers without warning, so you’d better get a move on.”


Once the capsule settled onto the deck of the Little Titanic, John stepped out into the icy wind and rain. He was soaked straight through within a few seconds. Holding out his hand to the captain, he spoke quickly. “International Rescue. How many still missing?”


Shaking the hand which was held out to him, the captain answered, “We’ve got two teenage girls missing.”


Nodding his head, John turned to the capsule and, pointing inside, told them, “Everyone get in and hang on to the railings. You’ll be hauled up and I’ll find the two missing girls. You’ll find some thermal blankets in there, put them around the kids.”


As soon as everyone found themselves a spot inside the capsule, and a blanket was put around each of the kids’ shoulders, John closed the capsule hatch and activated his watch. “John to Thunderbird Two, winch them up. I’m going to search for the two missing girls.”


While the capsule was winched up back to Thunderbird Two’s nose John headed straight to the doors which would take him below decks, hopefully to the two missing girls.


* * * * *


In Thunderbird Two, Gordon activated the autopilot and hoped that she’d be able to hold her own while the wind and rain were buffeting her around.


When he got to the capsule hatch it was already open, but no one had stepped out of it yet. Gordon gave the occupants a warm smile. “Good afternoon, everyone. Are any of you hurt?”


Seeing everyone shake their heads no, Gordon said, “Please follow me and I’ll get you to some warm seats.”


Slowly everyone filed out of the capsule and followed Gordon down a corridor until they found themselves in a nice warm room. Gordon helped them put their seat harnesses on and gave the five men each a cup of coffee to drink.  The kids each got a cup of hot chocolate, which brought grateful smiles to their faces.


Heading for the door that would let him back into the corridor, Gordon heard some of the kids start talking about Thunderbird Two and what wonders she might hold. “Please stay seated until we tell you that it’s safe to unbuckle yourselves. If there’s anything you need, just press the intercom button on the sides of your left armrests.”


* * * * *


When John got down inside the ship he switched his torchlight on and gave a relieved sigh when he saw no water. “At least I’m out of the wind and rain.” He moved forward, only to find himself stepping into water when he took a few stairs down to the lower parts of the ship.


It was dark all around him, so much so that he had to watch his step even with the torch in his hand. Taking out his thermal scanner, John swung it slowly around himself in a horizontal arc until he found two heat sources to his left. Turning in that direction, he followed a short corridor until he stopped in front of a door. Pushing against it, John quickly realized that it wasn’t going to budge unless he put a bit of force behind it.


Inside the kitchen, the two girls had been trying to open the kitchen door. Giving everything they had, they finally got it open only to be swept off their feet and back into the kitchen by a wave of water. Now feeling even more helpless, one of the girls took a spoon and started hitting a water pipe running along the wall, hoping that someone…anyone…would hear the noise she was making and rescue them.


Ramming the door with his shoulder as hard as he could, the only result being a bruised shoulder, John stopped when he heard a banging sound coming from somewhere to his right. He followed the sound until he found another door. Again he tried to open the door, but with no luck. John knocked as hard as he could and listened for a response.


The two girls heard someone knocking and, following the walls, made their way in the direction of the sound. When they found the door, they knocked back.


As soon as someone knocked on the door he was standing at, John knew that he had found them. “Hello, this is International Rescue. We’ve come to get you two out of here.”


The two girls jumped with joy and hugged each other. Turning to face the door again, one of the girls asked, “What can we do to help, sir?”


 “Well, which way does this door open?”


Hearing the girls yell that it opened toward him, John placed his scanner back onto his utility belt along with the torch, and started pulling at the door handle while the two girls pushed at it from the other side. Without warning the door swung open, slamming John against the wall. His head connected with a pipe behind him and for a moment he could only see tiny stars dancing in front of his eyes.


The two girls had come rushing out of the door along with the water building up in the short corridor and kitchen. Picking themselves up off the floor, they looked around for the International Rescue man. Spotting him behind the door, they winced when he took out his torch and shone it onto his face for a moment before shining it onto them. Holding out her hand, one of the girls said, “Nice to see you, Mister. You look like you’ve been in a fight, you’ve got a black left eye.”


John hadn’t expected to smack his head against something behind him or to get hit in the face with a door, of course, and could only imagine what he must look like right now. His head hurt and now that the girl had mentioned his left eye, he could feel that starting to smart as well. Taking the offered hand, he shook it. “Right, lets get you two girls out of here before anything else happens. Do you know of a fast way out of here?”


When the girls shook their heads no, John decided to go back up and out the way he had come in. “Hold onto each other and me, I don’t want to lose one of you along the way.”


* * * * *


On Thunderbird Two, Gordon headed down the corridor toward the cockpit, wondering how John was doing. Outside the wind was even worse than before. As Gordon made to step onto the lift that would take him up to Thunderbird Two’s cockpit, he was sent flying backwards when the ship suddenly lurched to the left. Alarms were screeching and as he scrambled to his feet, Gordon knew that he only had a minute or so to get back to the cockpit before Thunderbird Two hit rock bottom. He raced into the lift and waited the ten seconds it took for it to rise. The lift doors hadn’t even fully opened before he was out of it. Running over to the pilot’s chair, Gordon deactivated the autopilot and wrestled with the controls to try and get the Thunderbird balanced again. Gordon hoped that the people had done what he had told them and not gotten out of their harnesses. It felt like hours, but only a minute had passed by the time he got Two leveled out.


After taking a few breaths to calm himself, Gordon activated the intercom and asked, “Everyone okay in there? I’m sorry, but we had a bit of a strong wind blowing us sideways for a moment. Everything’s fine now.”


Hearing someone grumbling about bad service and not giving any warning, Gordon deactivated the intercom and keyed his brother’s watch. “This is Thunderbird Two to John. Did you find the kids?”


John and the two girls had found their way out of the ship and had gone over to where the captain and the rest of them had been standing only fifteen minutes before. Feeling his watch vibrate, he lifted it to his face and when he heard his brother’s question, answered, “Yes, I’ve got both of the girls here with me. Any chance of a lift off this ship?”


Looking at one of the monitors which was now displaying the countdown until the cyclone would be upon them, Gordon saw that the wind speeds had gone up to ninety kilometers per hour. “There’s no way we’ll be able to use the capsule now, the wind speeds are too high. The cyclone will be here within half an hour.”


John looked at the two girls now huddled together and wondered how they’d be able to get off the ship before it sank, taking them with it. “Can’t you lower Thunderbird Two a bit more and then try to winch the capsule down the rest of the way? These lifeboats won’t be able to keep the water out if we use them, not with the size of the waves I'm seeing down here.”


Gordon couldn’t help but give a soft gasp when he saw John’s face; it looked painful. “I could try to bring her a bit lower but it will risky.” He squared his shoulders. “I’ll try.”


Gordon knew that Thunderbird Two could go really low with no problem, but with the sea getting so rough, one of Thunderbird Two’s wings might get hit by a large wave and tip her into the ocean.


Lowering Thunderbird Two as close to the ship as he could, Gordon activated the capsule winch and watched as it lowered to the deck.


John opened the hatch and ushered the two girls inside. Then he got in himself, closing the hatch behind him. Hitting the intercom to let his brother know that he could start the winch, he suddenly found himself hitting the bottom of the capsule butt first, with the two girls falling over him and knocking him flat on his back.


Gordon had silently watched the capsule as it descended down to the ship’s deck, and watched as John ushered the two girls inside before getting in and closing the hatch. When he looked again he saw a huge wave bearing down on them. Thunderbird Two was low enough that if he didn’t lift off now they would all be joining the ship at the bottom of the sea. There wasn’t any time to winch the capsule up, so Gordon forced Thunderbird Two upwards as fast as he could. The capsule was swinging like a three hundred sixty degree pendulum in the wind. There was nothing Gordon could do to stop it from swinging like that. He only hoped that the winch cable would hold and that the capsule wouldn’t fall, taking his brother and the two kids with it.


When Thunderbird Two was safely out of harm’s way, Gordon turned her around so her great bulk would block most of the wind. Hitting the winch switch again, Gordon watched as it came back up, calling out to John the entire time but receiving no response. As soon as the hatch doors had closed under the capsule, Gordon flew in the direction of the mainland. He wanted to go to his brother and make sure he was okay, but he had to get out of the cyclone’s way first. If he’d read the information that Brains was sending him correctly, the cyclone would not make landfall.


Finding the park Brains had pinpointed for them earlier, Gordon landed Thunderbird Two and left the cockpit to check on his brother. He hadn’t heard a sound from him even though the intercom was still activated.


When Gordon opened the hatch to the capsule, he found the two girls staring at him from within. They were sitting upright against the far wall, wide-eyed and shaking a bit. They had a thermal blanket around their shoulders and the other one was placed neatly over John. Walking over to his brother, Gordon got down onto his knees and touched his head. “John, you okay?”


John had hit the deck before, but never as hard as he had when the capsule suddenly went flying into the air. It was even worse when the two girls fell on top of him. It felt like every bone in his body had gotten smashed. He didn’t know if he had broken something or not, and had spent the entire wild ride trying to catch his breath. The two girls had found the blankets and placed one over him when the capsule wasn’t swinging about so much. John knew that they must be feeling horrible for falling onto him the way they had. Moving his legs and arms a bit, John didn’t feel any pain and slowly lifted himself until he was sitting upright. “I think I must've blacked out for a bit,” he said sheepishly. “I’m not going to ask you what happened, but we have to ask Brains to design a softer floor.”


That got a smile from Gordon and the two girls, who were silently watching them. Standing up, Gordon held his hand out to John and helped him to his feet. “Let’s get these folks out of here and into a warm bed.”


The two girls followed them to the room where the rest of the kids and Little Titanic's crew were waiting. When the door opened they all gave a cry of joy when they saw their missing friends. Helping everyone out of their harnesses, John and Gordon directed them toward the door that would let them out of Thunderbird Two. As soon as everyone was in the hands of the hospital staff, Gordon closed the door and turned to John. “You look like hell turned over. You sure you don’t want to see a doctor?”


John shook his head no, a look of pain crossing his face at the movement.


Gordon peered at his brother’s left eye. “Did someone hit you?”


Touching his face and wincing, John answered. “Well, I wasn’t hit by someone but by something.” He explained what had happened below decks, then asked, “How about you, anything happen up here?”


Turning away from John and walking toward the sickbay to get him an ice pack or ten, Gordon shrugged. “A bit of a roller coaster ride, but I had it under control.”


Leaving John standing at the sickbay’s door, Gordon went inside and got two ice packs for his brother. When both of them were back in the cockpit and getting Thunderbird Two ready for liftoff, Gordon grinned. “We didn’t do to bad on our own today, did we?”


Holding one ice pack against his eye and the other one against the back of his head, John grimaced. “Well, I got banged up on the ship and then I got thrown to the capsule’s floor. Yeah. We did just great today.”


As Thunderbird Two lifted off and headed home, Gordon couldn’t help but chuckle. His brother wasn’t a happy bunny today, and with good reason. “Well, you’ve got something to brag about, at least. I would have been dead if anything had happened to Virgil’s bird.”


John knew that they were lucky to get away from the cyclone and ship, that they’d saved eleven lives, and that the cyclone hadn’t made landfall. They would have had an even bigger rescue if it had, and with only the two of them to carry it out. So yes, it was all good, because lives were saved and they got to go home in one piece. More or less.