CHAPTER 13

Tracy One was the fourth jet allowed to land at the base. After clearance Scott taxied to the assigned hanger. Debarking they all had to go through base clearance before being taken over to the hospital. The delay only adding to the stress of the situation. Finally they entered the main enterance, Jeff was just coming out of an office when he saw his family. He waved them over.

"Dad! what are you doing out here? Where's Alan? Why aren't you with him? He shouldn't be alone!" all the brothers were firing questions one after another. Jeff cracked a small smiled as he put his hands up,

"Slow down boys, I'll explain everything... I know how anxious you are to see Alan, but there are a few things you need to know beforehand." Jeff said in a more subdued voice.

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Alan lay in the bed his eyes shut, but his mind was racing. One minute he was thinking of the fight with his family that night, the next the sudden fear, when he ran into Mullian. He felt nauseated as he remembered running into Mullion. Then he woke up in a cage with the other boys taken. He had convinced the others that he could fly them to safety, then nearly got them all killed when they were attacked. He had admitted to his field commander, his family and anyone else on that radio frequency listening that he was scared. He really felt pathetic, everything he tried, he seemed to mess up. To his dismay he could not rid his mind of the Hood's voice, telling him his family were not proud of him.. He felt tears escape from his eyes, as his breathing rate increased.

"Alan dear wake up. Can you hear me?"

Alan felt a small gentle hand brush his bangs back from his face. Slowly he opened his eyes, and tried to focus on the gentle voice calling him. He saw the beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes of Lady Penelope, watching him. He brought a hand up trying to hide the tears as he wiped his face.

"Lady P what are you doing here?"

"Why, I'm here to celebrate your safe return to us, of course! We were all so worried about you. You did so well saving yourself as well as the others."

Alan could not make eye contact for fear of tears again escaping. "I didn't…. they wanted..." He looked away unable to finish the words. "I'm tired I need to sleep."

For a moment Penny didn't say anything, then she spoke quietly, "that's fine Alan, you rest, your family is here, they are going through clearance now. They will be here when you wake."

Alan felt his stomach churn at the thought of having to face his family so soon. Lady Penelope couldn't help but notice the mixture of emotions that crossed Alan's face at her statement. He turned to stare out the window as slowly he again fell into needed sleep.

"Parker stay with him, I need to speak with Jeff."

"Mi pleasure me lady. I won't let the lad outa mi sight!"

"Thank you Parker."

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"Where is he? How is he? Can we see him?" All the Tracy brothers were asking at once.

Jeff raised his hands. "Slow down, you'll see him shortly, but there are things we need to talk about before you do, so that you can understand. Right now he is asleep. They've given me access to a room we can use when not in with Alan and if we need to make any calls."

"But I want to see him now! I-I need to see him," said Scott. "We all do."

"I know... believe me I understand," said Jeff quietly. "He's having some short term memory loss, that the doctor thinks may be due partially to the multiple head injuries he has sustained, or it could be selective due to things that were... well,... lets say were... overwhelming."

The brothers were a little taken back, what could have happened to their little brother, that they wouldn't be able to understand.

Lady Penelope walked over to Jeff and the rest and motioned for them to follow. Reluctantly they started after her.

Quietly they all entered the room. "Who's with Alan? He shouldn't be alone."

"He is not alone. Parker, will not leave his side until we can get back. Please sit down."

Their father saying please definently got their attention. After all complied Jeff continued. "Dr Volz, Penny and I have spoken with the other boys, and a young lady who had been kidnapped over a year ago. who went through this ordeal with him. Eyebrows were raised and though no one said anything, a sickening feeling began to settle in their stomaches in anticipation of what they were about to hear.

Jeff explained the details of what had happened. "As you know from our previous dealings with the Hood, one of Alans greatest fears, has always been losing his family, or feeling like he has somehow disappointed us. He and the others were threatened constantly with never seeing any of us again and told we would suffer never knowing what became of him. Then he met a girl who these scum had taken over a year ago and she told him how a couple of men who had tried to rescue her were caught. They took them into the jungle...they never came out." Penny laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.

Scott's face was tense as he tried to suppress a burning rage. His fists were clenched and his heart was breaking for the pain he knew his baby brother had experienced. "We have to find these people and put an end to them and their inhuman practice of kidnapping people to be used as slave labor. For sure we should be able to get them for the murder of the two guards, and of mutiple attempted murder charges at the school!"

All the brothers readily agreed. John, Virgil and Gordon fought hard not to let their own feeling get out of hand.

"But you also suggested he was worried he may have disappointed us in some way?... What way?" asked Scott.

"I don't know everything that is bothering him, but Katheryn, the young woman that escaped with him, seemed to feel one of the things was that he had talked them into letting him try to fly all of them out...knowing how dangerous it could be. That we would be upset at how he conducted himself."

"But how..."Virgil started to ask.

Penny added, "I think the Hood and his still not fully understood abilities may be playing a part in this also."

"But he wouldn't have done that if there was any other choice! He's got to know we'd understand that!" exclaimed Gordon.

"That's right, so how could he possibly think we would be mad?" said Virgil.

"Like I said, his head is a little mixed up right now, and as Dr Volz said he 's had a lot of head injuries so he may or may not remember things. and what he does might be out of sequence. I know he's worried about the Hood getting his hands on those that escaped with him again. I've already contacted some of our best international-law people to start looking into how best to facilitate getting the people who escaped with them home to their own families. Penny's team from M5 are also sending in drones to check the camp they were held at. One way or another, we -will- get - Hood - and his band of cut throats," replied Jeff in a voice filled with determination.

"But what can we do for Alan now?" asked Gordon, his voice heavy with the anguish he felt for his only younger brother.

Jeff sighed heavily, "just be there when he needs us. Right now he is experiencing what Dr Volz say is selective remembrance due to post-traumatic shock. When Dr Volz tried to press just a little further into what happened and what he remembered, Alan immediately shut down. His physical injuries though serious, will heal with time, but emotionally,... I just -don't know and my attitude the night this took place will not make it any easier."

Jeff cringed. Penny reached over and took his hand. "What's done is done. We must now stop the blame and just be there when Alan needs us. It will take time and patience, but you have one of the strongest family bonds I have ever been priviledged to witness and your extended family will be there for all of you too! Alan is strong! He has already proven this. I truly believe if we just make ourselves accessable, when he is ready he will find his way! And there is also another way to look at this!"

All eyes focused on her, "what do you mean Lady P?"

"Just think,... if you had not had the argument that night. Alan would have been in his room and would have been taken... at the same time as the other boys. Those madmen would have gotten away with their disastrous plans! Alan never would have had the chance to let you know what was happening,... or to get the other boys trapped in the library out in time."

Everyone just blinked and sat in silence as these new thoughts sank in.

Jeff's eyes were wet, but he controlled his emotions and said, "We need to concentrate on all the good things that Alan has done, because right now he is only able to focus on the bad. From what I have heard from the others, he kept his head, and despite injuries, helped figured out a plan and was able to negotiate with the locals to get them to help them, and flying that cargo plane was no small under taking."

"Quite right! Alan has proven himself over and over. We shall just convince him to look at the all the good he has done!" said Lady Penelope confidently.

"Your right," said Scott. "He admitted to me he was scared and yet still, he carried on. If that doesn't show courage I don't know what does."

"Now we will have to be careful not to over whelm him all at once. According to Dr. Volz he may have trouble remembering things, and when he does, the time table may be out of sequel. So again patience will be the key. Now I know you are all anxious to see him, so let's go see if his awake."

They headed for Alan's room.

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Alan awoke slowly, he looked about the room, trying to get his bearings. He heard a familiar voice.

"Good-day to you master Tracy."

"Parker?"

"That would be correct sir."

"What are you doing here?

"I've been escorting 'er Ladyship, and I did promise to look out for you until your father and 'er Ladyship return."

"Ah, -where did they go?"

"I'm afraid I do not know the answer to your question, sir."

"I want to thank you Parker."

"For what, would that be sir?" Parker looked puzzled.

"I used some of your 'tricks of the trade' you taught me, so to speak, we would not have made it out without that knowledge."

Parker turned a light shade of pink as he answered, "my pleasure master Alan, my pleasure!"

Alan used the button to raise the head of the bed. His head still ached, and he had mixed feelings about seeing his family. He wanted to because he loved them all so much and had really thought he might not eve see them again, that the Hood would see to that. He shuddered at the thought, but he was also fearful that he would see disappointment in their eyes. He knew he had disappointed his dad by getting caught out after curfew, even if he hadn't meant for it to happen. He knew he had disobeyed a direct command from both his Dad and Scott, so they knew they couldn't trust him to follow orders. He had endangered almost eighty lives, saying he could fly a type of plane he had never even been in before and the worst was he had admitted he was afraid on the radio for all to hear. No one would want a coward as their backup on a mission. No, his dreams of ever becoming a full fledged 'Thunderbird' were over. Lady P had said something about his saving himself and others-she must have ment the plane, but it wasn't him, it was the "Thunderbirds" who had saved them all.

Alan had vague thoughts of a tunnel, of running, of fear he felt when Mullian had suddenly appeared. Then nothing more until waking up in a cage with the other boys. There was a horrible lady called Smeada, who very obviously did not like him. Alan gave an exasperated sigh. What was wrong with him? He was fifteen, he shouldn't feel so scared. Was that what the problem? Was he a coward? There just seemed to be so many pieces not fitting together. His head began to ache even more, to the point he was becoming nauseated. He sat there so far away in his own thoughts he didn't even notice his family enter the room.

"Hey sprout."

Alan jumped like he'd been shot, then winced as pain shot though him.

"S—sorry. I-" his voice trailed off as his eyes looked down to his feet.

"Nothing to be sorry about! Man it's good to see you! You really had us worried."

All the brothers and Jeff came up along side his bed, Lady Penelope waited out in the hall. Parker took his leave and also went out.

"Are you okay Alan? Your head hurting again?" Jeff asked after seeing the look of pain in his eyes.

"It's ok," he whispered trying not to let his voice give him away, but it was the pale/green color to his face caused by the nausea and squinting of his eyes that told the real story.

"You want to try again?" asked Virgil.

Keeping his eyes shut he tried to calm the sudden pain in his head caused by his sudden jump, dispite his efforts it just wasn't working very well.

"Okay, so its getting bad again."

"Virgil, see if you can get the doctor to come in." said Jeff worry evident in his voice.

"Sure thing, dad," replied Virgil.

Alan's shoulders slumped even more as he laid back into his pillows staring at the ceiling.

"Alan what's wrong?"

"Nothing. I was just...th-thinking... bout things." his voice seemed quiet and unsure.

Jeff raised an eyebrow, "Don't try and push yourself to hard. You've had a very difficult week to contend with."

"But the other people, they,...they..."

Before Alan could get his next question out, Jeff continued, "before you ask, yes, I have already contacted our best international lawyers to start working on helping your friends." He took a cool cloth from the basin and wiped Alan's forehead.

A look of relief came over Alans face. "Thanks dad."

It wasn't long before a nurse came back with Virgil and after assessing Alan's vital signs gave him some IV pain and nausea meds, " About twenty minutes and you should start to feel better, though you'll be pretty sleepy."

"Thank you mame." Alan replied barely at a whisper. He yawned, his eye lids already drooping.

"Alan needs to rest. And all of you should n-o-t be in here." she addressed the other Tracy's.

The family looked as if to argue, but when nurse Hathaway just stood her ground and pointed to the door.

"Alan, we'll just go to the room they've set up for us while were here and grab some coffee, don't fight the medicine, you rest we'll be close by." said Jeff.

"But someone's gonna be here...right?" he couldn't quite hide the slight quiver in his voice or hide the fear in his eyes.

"Of course we'll be here for you, sprout!" replied Scott quickly, brushing Alans bangs from his forehead. "We will always be here for you."

Taking hold of Alan's hand and pulling up a chair, making it clear he wasn't leaving Alan's side this night. Without any other exchange Alan driffed off to sleep.

No one wanted to leave, but nurse Hathaway insisted that no more than two could be in the room.

Scott made it clear he wasn't leaving. Though Jeff too wanted to stay, he knew he had more contacts to make to ensure the safety of the others who had escaped with the boys and he wanted to personally meet Belay and Farrelli. In the end Gordon stayed with Scott, and Jeff had John go with him to meet Baley and Farrelli to help with the language barrier. While Virgil, and Parker went in search of food and drinks. Penny going to check with her vast contacts if their were any word as to the where abouts of the Hood and his band of cut-throats.

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Jeff and John waited in a small room for Belay and Farrelli to arrive. "What are you hoping to gain from this meeting dad?" asked John.

"I just want to thank these peope for helping Alan and the other boys and see if we can get any other information that might help in their emotional healing." replied Jeff quietly.

The door opened and Farrelli and Belay entered tentatively as evan in their world of sufferance, they too had heard of Jefferson Grant Tracy. They slowly walked in, hand in hand hesitantly until Jeff and John stood and walked over holding out their hands to shake, Farrelli and Belay took their hands in firm grips as they smiled in relief.

With John translating Jeff thanked them then asked what they could tell him about the people who had kidknapped the boys and the camp they were taken too.

Farrelli was grateful at how John could converse with them in their own language. Belay was now able to converse and give details of the camp and the horriffic things being done. Camps were located in remote areas of several countries, that even in these moderon times remained isolated. The camp the boys had been taken to, was surrounded by a warring fractions and run by drug lords.

The Hood used his powers to manipulate the broken fractions, and if they wanted to be in charge they just had to do his bidding. General Kendra had been the lastest leader to climb to the top and far as Belay knew it would have been his planes that came after the defenceless cargo plane. Since he had failed no doubt the Hood would quickly find a replacment as he did not tolerate failure. The camp itself was used as a staging area for the Hood's unscrupulous slave labor ring. Demonstraighting once again that he saw mankind as nothing more than puppets to serve him as he saw fit.

Now Farrelli began, tears ran down her face as she admitted she was with child and Belay was the father. This had happened while the Hood was in jail. Farrelli and Belay again stated their love for each other and that they would do anything to protect the child she carried. She stated several others in the group were also in similar circumstances.

When the boys had been brought to the camp they were told their fate rested with the wishes of the 'master' on his return. When Farrelli had brought food in, Alan was able to talk to her in her native language a little. She in turn had told Belay, Katheryn and a few others. For the first time in a long while they had hope that somehow they would be able to help each other escape. Farrelli now broke compleatly and sobbed, begging that they not be sent back.

Jeff through John gave as much asurance as possible that the Hood would never get a hold of them again. Then he thanked them again before he and John walked slowly back towards the hospital.

John was evan more pale than usual as he considered all that Belay and Farrelli had told them.

Jeff placed an arm across John's shoulders. "Before you and the others arrived, Alan woke up long enough to beg me not to let the Hood get his hands on them again. From what they have told us and Alan's perspective on the danger they were in,... how could I do less than everything within my power to keep them safe and bring the world law down on the Hood."

"You read fiction books that discribe things like this happening, but to actually know people who have been subjected slave labor in this day and age is just so unbelivable... For our own little Allie to have been threatened...Dad I can not even find the words to say how I am feeling right now!" said a unusually subdued John.

Jeff gave a squeeze to his shoulder and they returned to the hospital in silence.