Dirty work

The rain continued through the next day. It was a good day to catch up on the maintenance that the Thunderbirds required. Bekkah got her children settled back in school mode with a promise of a movie should they complete the day's work. Then she gathered up her microcomp and headed down to Thunderbird 2's hangar.

Virgil and Alan had the mobile winch and the recovery vehicles out of the pod for a systems check and a washing. Scott was cleaning out the pod itself, checking the harnesses and other safety equipment for faults, and putting them back where they belonged. Bekkah stopped long enough to pick up her cherry-red hard hat. She laughed when she saw that two of the hard hats had been repainted. John's had gone from lavender to deep purple. And Tin-Tin's! Tin-Tin's had been painted black, pure black, covering the elaborate design that Bekkah had spent so much time on. Instead of saying "Pool Princess" in lovely cursive writing, it now had a roughly painted "Ms. Kyrano" on it. Bekkah saluted the shot across her bow and joined the three men at the pod.

"Which tire shifted during the rescue?" Bekkah asked. The Tracys had already commandeered her special equipment duffel. Scott pointed to the rear tires on the driver's side. Bekkah took out her fissure detector and moved it slowly over the surface of each hard rubber ring. No beeps. She pulled a small measuring stick from the bag, and stuck it in the tread of each tire, reading her measurements into her microcomp link. Then pulling out an old-fashioned flashlight, she examined each wheel for damage. For good measure, the axles were also subjected to a visual going-over.

"She looks good. Just a muddy scrape on the inner tire. No fissures and a good tread depth left," Bekkah reported, as much to her microcomp as to the Tracy men.

"What's next on the upgrade agenda, Bekkah?" Alan asked. Bekkah climbed out from under the mobile winch.

"Well, we have a choice. Either we can start doing all the auxiliary equipment, like these two, or we can start upgrading Thunderbird 1."

Scott stopped in his tracks. "Thunderbird 1? How long would she be down? We can't do without her for too long."

Virgil rolled his eyes. This was the same objection Scott gave for every upgrade.

Bekkah snorted, a frustrated sound. "Scott, our original plan with Thunderbird 2 was to replace the systems one at a time. That would be the plan we'd use in Thunderbird 1."

"But Thunderbird 2 was down for a week while you worked on her! We can't keep Thunderbird 1 down like that!"

"Scott. The only reason we had to do that to Thunderbird 2 is that she was hit by lightning. She was going to be down for repairs anyway. Keep Thunderbird 1 in one piece and we won't have to do the same thing," Bekkah explained with exaggerated patience. Then a thought struck her. "There's something I'm going to go upgrade in TB1 right now, while I'm thinking about it." She moved off to the monorail as she spoke. She left the Tracys scratching their heads at her unusual behavior.

"Wonder what that was all about?" Virgil commented as he watched her gather up some supplies and leave the cavernous hangar.

"I don't know. I don't think I want to know." Scott shook his head as he got back to work.

When he was finished with the pod, Scott went in search of Bekkah. He found her in the cockpit of Thunderbird 1, sitting in his pilot's seat. "What are you doing to my seat?" he demanded.

Bekkah poked her head around the back of the seat and looked at him. "Come up and find out."

Scott drew nearer to the pilot's chair and put his hand up to the control levers on either side of it. The grips and several inches down each control lever's side was covered in leather. Comfortable, padded leather. Scott knew that there was a web of flexible rubber underneath the leather, not only for comfort, but for insulation from electricity. She had done the same thing in Thunderbird 2 after Virgil had nearly been electrocuted by a lightning strike.

"Thanks, Bekkah. I appreciate the thought." he said sincerely.

"See. Not every upgrade is a pain." she joshed. Then she gathered up her tools and supplies and made ready to leave.

"Bekkah?" She turned to look at him. "I'm so sorry for what happened in Abidjan. I wish I could make things all better for you." Scott's voice and eyes held nothing but sympathy.

He saw Bekkah struggling with her composure. Finally she turned away and said, "So do I, Scott. So do I."