Just One of Those People
Chapter 3 - Perceptive Noogie Mistress
Days at Tracy Island went slowly – and that was only three of them. My room had a superb view of the beach and the beautiful sunset. Pinks and oranges would streak across the azure sky. I made excused to be in my room at dusk.
On the second day, I was seated comfortably in Brain's domain – the lab overlooking Thunderbird 2 on one side, the runway for the light plane on the other.
"Do you spend long in here?" I asked Brains sweetly.
He opened his mouth to speak, but on the first stutter, Tin-Tin answered for him,"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week."
"N-Not that l-long!" protested Brains. "It's just enthralling."
Studying the bizarre lab, I agreed a little,"I'll say. I'm hungry and I can smell Kyrano cooking up something. C'mon Brains – get something into that stomach of yours."
Brains dug into the food like a thirsty man in the desert to an oasis.
He cheerfully slurped down noodles and vegetables like he'd been doing it for years. Tin-Tin delicately approached it, just like her father. Grandma picked at her food while persuading everyone else to fit in "just a bit more".
I attacked it, but not as savagely as Brains. Gordon wandered in and blinked in surprised. "Brains, Tara, it's not going to run away."
He grabbed a plate of fruit and made us squeeze together to accommodate him. The bench in the kitchen became very crowded. I was next to him so childishly kicked his shin under the table. He retaliated but hit Tin-Tin who kicked back. Laughing, I tutted, "Your aim is untrue, sonny Jim."
"Sonny Gord!" insisted the red head cheerfully.
"The sun must shine out of you," I joked.
Gordon poked his tongue out at me. Grandma slapped him on the shoulder. I felt increasingly at home on the island. Virgil then arrived and stole me away as an audience to his music.
On the third day, Alan took me to the mainland to Parola Sands. He predicted I would love it. On discovering our location, Mr Tracy requested that Scott accompany us. Scott shoved Alan out of the pilot seat of the small plane, only to have me shove him out as well.
"Watch and learn," I told the eldest and youngest sons calmly.
I sent the plane into wild, dizzy loops. Alan was clearly enjoying the show (I'd figured him somewhat a speed freak, considering Parola Sands) and Scott showed some partiality too, though he warned me of the consequences that would result from crashing the Tracy light plane.
"Scotty boy, lighten up," I advised him sweetly. "Virgil has told me stories of TB1 hurtling uncouthly through the air. Or don't you think a gal like me can fly?"
Scott Tracy blinked like a deer caught in headlights. "Are you always this perceptive of people?"
I threw a grin over my shoulder. "Pretty much. Do you need an evaluation on a bimbo money thieving floozy?"
"No, but if I do I shall seek your services."
Alan snorted with laughter, which cracked Scott up. I beamed to myself.
Alan was a very able racer. Sitting in the seat next to him, I enjoyed the thrill of the speed in the capable hands of an expert.
"I never picked you as an astronaut!" I shouted over at him. "But you probably enjoy the thrust behind TB3!"
Alan swung a full doughnut, then shot off again. He shrugged. "Think what you will, but I do hate the loneliness of space."
"Does Playboy keep you company or it if thoughts of Tin-Tin that occupy you?"
"Scott's right about you," Alan replied doggedly. "You're very perceptive."
But it seemed he appreciated my company. By the end of the day, after winning a race off him, I was giving him the run down of what Tin-Tin thought of him.
Scott thoughtfully added, "If only you'd ask her out, Alan."
"Do!" I exclaimed. "She goes goo goo on you."
Alan shifted uncomfortably. "Maybe next year."
Or maybe next month, I thought stubbornly, then remembered sadly that Alan would be up in space then. I sighed – I hated it when my plans were interrupted.
Virgil was painting the sea, eyes distant. Alan was reading a sports magazine and Jeff pored over a newspaper intently. Gordon threw an ace of hearts at me.
"Go fish?" I snorted derisively. "You lying cheating b-b-thing! There's no such thing in Rummy."
Gordon threw the whole deck at me. As it rained chance on me, I heard an odd beeping sound. My eyes landed on the middle son's portrait in time to see its eyes flashing. This made me lose my head completely.
"It's possessed!" I shrieked and dove behind the sofa.
Jeff Tracy laughed. AT ME! He explained quickly between bursts of mirth, "It's John reporting in. Looks like our quiet days are over. Go ahead, John."
"Hey, father." There was an air of importance about the sandy haired stranger. "There's been a call from Auckland in New Zealand. A bomb has just exploded, shattering the foundations of nearby buildings. Estimated one hundred trapped and a few hundred in imminent danger."
Jeff scratched his chin. "Sounds like we need the mole. John, keep us updated – we're on our way. Before you go, this is Tara Fitzgerald, our new recruit."
John squinted at me impatiently. I immediately disliked his scowl and appearance. I grimaced into a smile. "Pleasure to meet you, John Tracy."
"I wish that could be reciprocated," he snapped and the photo reappeared in his place.
I growled, but said nothing. Alan laughed and Gordon sought to reassure me, "Don't worry – he does that to all new people he meets."
Scott was already in the room, waiting for orders. Jeff cleared his throat. "Scott I want you gone a minute ago."
"Virgil, take pod 5. Gordon, you'll sit this one out. Alan go with Virgil – take Tara with you."
I blinked in surprise. Gordon looked sullen, but winked at me. A thrill of excitement shot up my spine. Virgil disappeared down a slide. Scott held onto two lamps on the wall and was spun around. All very cool. I really wanted a way down to TB2 that was just as cool. Though I found myself stuttering like Brains, "G-Gordon is more experienced."
Alan grabbed my elbow and started tugging me away. Mr Tracy smiled at me. "You're just an observer, Tara. The mission doesn't require another experienced member."
Linen closets hold the weirdest things – try an elevator straight into Thunderbird 2. Virgil was already suited and strapped in. His machine rolled towards the hanger door slowly.
"Put this on," Alan threw a blue uniform at me, the one I'd always dreamed of wearing.
I touched it gingerly, then looked at my sash colour sadly. "Blood red? I wanted lilac."
"Nah, John has lilac," Alan told me and started changing right there.
I hated this John even more very minute. I hid away in the pod to change, nearly falling over while the whole craft jerked forwards. I ran into the cockpit, drawing the safety harness around me.
In awe, I watched the end of the runway approach. Virgil looked back at me quickly. "All buckled in?"
I nodded nervously. Alan nudged me and whispered, "Say FAB. It's our confirmation phrase."
"FAB, Virgil," I parroted, as ordered.
TB2's pilot muttered to himself, "All systems go."
A blue/silver bullet shot overhead. I could almost imagine Scott staring seriously ahead in there. Jeff's voice squawked through the speakers, "Thunderbird 2, you're clear to go."
With a roaring blast pushing me forwards, I found my eyeballs glued to the back of my skull and a growing feeling of thrill racing through my spine. I was working for International Rescue!
I was bored.
With strict instructions to stay on the Thunderbird, I was totally and utterly bored. I moped for a while, occasionally watching as Scott directed things, as Virgil vanished beneath the ground, as Alan helped the authorities cut into the wreckage.
I walked dejectedly into the open pod and back again. Suddenly, I heard a clatter.
"Virgil, Alan?" I asked quietly, unsure.
I turned around to find myself faced with a bald guy with seriously jungle thick eyebrows. He was wearing out-there clothes and just so happened to be pointing a gun at me. Upon seeing me properly, he paled.
"A woman, again!?" he demanded angrily. "Never it matter – I've got a fun trained right on you. I'm here to steal International Rescue's secrets."
I planted my hands on my hips, cross that Jeff had forbade me to carry a gun. "Listen, jackarse, I'm not going to let you ruin my first mission here."
I was seeing red. Someone was going to get hurt, and soon. The bald guy prodded me with his zappy gun. "I want you to quietly walk outside."
"Are you going to fly this?" I laughed in disbelief. "You'll smash it, you LOONY!"
He looked deeply affronted. I let out a horrendously loud kia, then punched him in the solar plexus, following up with a jump turning kick that drove my foot into his ribs. He coughed but remained standing. Usually I was an okay Taekwondo goer, but this utter defeat surprised me. His eyes started to glow.
"You will go outside, quietly," he intoned.
"No, I will not!" I yelled angrily.
He looked shocked at my outburst. I gave him a concussion in his moment of weakness and dragged him out at gunpoint by his own gun. I spat at Scott, "Is this a friend of yours?"
"Dear God." Scott's eyes widened. "It's the Hood."
I noogied the bare scalp, grinning in cruel satisfaction as my captive groaned. "Da Hood? What names do you give the bad guys? Shall I shoot him?"
Scott smiled back weakly. "Usually he hypnotises people."
"Oh, that was the glowing eye thing then?"
"Yes." Scott stared at me in shock. "How did you resist? This man has tried stealing our secrets many a time."
"Can I shoot him?"
"No!" Scott answered sharply.
I threw the Hood to the ground and kicked him for good measure. I glared at Scott. "He's bound to do it again."
Scott told me evenly, "Let the police deal with it."
"You...are...STUPID!" I cried in exasperation, then sighed. "But I guess I'm not a murderer and I don't want to start now."
"Good," Scott approved.
"You...noogied the Hood?" Virgil asked with a smirk while Alan roared with laughter.
I raised my hands in defence. "He was asking for it. I don't see what's so damn scary about him. Sure, he has glowing contact lenses – that's all there is to it."
"Uh, no," Virgil disagreed. "Anyone who sees them falls under his spell. Brains and Tin-Tin will tell you that."
Alan rested his hands behind his head. "You're an unusual person, Tara Fitzgerald. Hypnotism resilient."
I smirked. "Well you know the myth – only the smart can be hypnotised. I'm not smart."
"Oh, you lie," Alan remonstrated, "I've seen your Thunderbird 6. It's brilliant."
"Why thank you, Alan."
"Her head is so swollen it will burst," Virgil commented.
Jeff Tracy patted me on the back.
"Welcome, truly, to International Rescue," he announced.
The Tracy boys whistled and cheered. I noticed Tin-Tin carefully watching Alan, clapping in time to his applause. Grandma declared cookies all round and persisted in serving until Kyrano won it over with cunning wit.
I felt at home with these people – they were the family I never had, cousins aside.