'Have you ever seen me panic, Thunderbird Five?'
Those words came back to haunt Scott now. He'd said them when Fireflash, with Kayo on board, had disappeared. But that was a very different plane disappearing. Shadow had far more protection than Fireflash had – she was built by Brains after all – so Kayo's signal cutting out when the satellite showed the storm hit the area Shadow was filled Scott with dread.
He was calm on the outside but yes, he was panicking inside. Not that he would admit that to just anyone.
John and Brains were incommunicado for the next 12 hours at the minimum but EOS had downloaded a part of herself on the Island servers so that she could still assist any rescues as necessary.
Scott took a breath and hit the emergency klaxon and Virgil, Gordon and Alan came running. With a tight smile at them he strode towards One's chute.
'What's the situation, Scott?'
'Kayo. Comms down over the Great Lakes and during a massive storm.'
'Scott – wait!'
'I don't have time, Virgil! Kayo may not have time!'
'STOP! EOS, lock the entrance to One NOW! Authorisation Mozart 8051.'
Swivelling on his heel, Scott snarled and heading towards Virgil with fists raised. Gordon stepped forward to come between them but Virgil placed a hand gently on his shoulder and stopped him.
'Scott, look at the weather telemetry! One will never fly safely in that and you know it! You need to come with us in Two, she is the only ship strong enough to withstand those kinds of winds!'
The fire of anger died immediately from Scott's eyes and he let out a breath, finishing his stride to clasp a hand on Virgil's shoulder.
'You're right. You're right. Let's go.'
'EOS, reroute One's chute to Two and inform John of the situation if you can get through.'
'FAB, Virgil. Chute released. I shall inform John as soon as contact is possible. Scott, One's chute has been rerouted as per protocol.'
'Thank you EOS. Thunderbirds are go!'
Nothing more was said as everyone took their places and Virgil pushed Two to her absolute maximum the minute she was free to do so. They flew part-way in discussion, Virgil piloting while Scott looked over what little they knew and extrapolated with Gordon and Alan what could have happened and running various scenarios on how to rescue Kayo depending on what the situation was.
Kayo's last known transmission was approaching the Great Lakes, specifically Southern Ontario and Lake Huron. Two would take around two and a half hours to arrive and all the discussions they had, all the scenarios and what-if's took them around an hour.
That left a minimum of an hour for Scott to try and keep his temper – and his panic – under control. It wasn't easy. One would have been there in around 20 minutes, but Virgil had been right. One wouldn't have been able to do anything with the crosswinds and the precipitation that showed snow.
Thundersnow storms were deadly to aircraft in a way that normal thunderstorms were not. The lightning in a normal storm would hit a craft and pass through, the negative charge causing little if any damage. But thundersnow lightning was positive, it would cause damage, and although Shadow was a Thunderbird and had the shielding of one, positive lightning would knock that shield out quickly in only three or four hits for such a small craft.
If Kayo had tried to fly over the storm rather than fly around it then she faced an additional problem. As she flew through the snow it would ice up over her wings, making Shadow unresponsive. Add that to the damage from the lightning and the face that Kayo may have been flying over water…
Scott bit his lip and worried.
He wasn't the only one.
By the time Two reached Ontario the air was thick with tension that the sight of clear blue sky and thick fresh snow blanketing everywhere did nothing to alleviate it. Of Shadow and Kayo there was no sight. Lake Huron had ice that ebbed along the water's edge.
A Shadow-shaped hole was nowhere to be seen. Two swept the area but the snow and ice coupled with the lack of Five's scanners made finding anything difficult.
They moved on to the next Lake.
No one said anything to Gordon's quiet plea 'Please, not Lake Superior.'
With a groan Kayo moved, or rather, tried to move. There was something holding her secure, and for a wild moment she thought Scott was pinning her down, but the creeping feeling of something being wrong was increasing.
She opened her eyes and immediately closed them again. That brief look told her that her situation was far worse than she could have imagined. She was still in Shadow, buckled into her seat.
But Shadow was under water.