Author's Note: After this chapter, the rating of the story will go up to 'M' for disturbing images. Please keep this in mind as you continue to read.

Ports of call

"Miss Campbell! Miss Campbell!" The ranch foreman called for the young woman throughout the house. She was a handful and no mistake. Unlike the Martins, who had experienced the danger that sent them into hiding, Janis Campbell looked on her sudden departure to points unknown as a big lark. She called her friends in London at odd hours, telling them what a great holiday she was having, and was always running about the house and the grounds without escort. The Martins sensibly stayed inside, knowing that they were in hiding from a violent and unscrupulous gang. Janis, being young, headstrong, and basically foolish, did not.

The foreman now took his search outside, calling for the girl all over the sheep pens and on towards the paddock. He stopped for a moment to listen. Someone had saddled up a horse and was riding this way. Sure enough, it was Janis, riding the big bay mare and heading up the access road.

"Miss Campbell! Come back!" the foreman shouted. "You're in danger! Please, come back!"

She tossed her curly hair and waved to him. "What trouble can I get into around here, Charlie? Come on! Catch me if you can!" And with a burst of laughter, she turned and headed up the bumpy, widing access road.

Charlie swore, and ran to saddle himself a horse. "That little fool! Well, she's getting an escort, whether she likes it or not. It won't take long for me to catch her up." So saying, he took down saddle and bridle and quickly began to prepare the gray for riding.

The three men dressed in camouflage fatigues huddled together in the woodland near the farm. One of them, obviously the leader, checked the farmhouse again through his binoculars. "She's heading out on the horse, now. She'll be at the action point in about four minutes. Get into position and get that wire up!"

His two confederates scrambled to obey. He kept his eyes trained on the horseback rider. He watched as she circled the large sheep pen and then climbed the path, coming ever closer to where he and his men lay in wait.

Clop, clop, clop. The hooves of her horse could now be heard as it brought the rider up the hill. The horse wasn't going very fast, and it was a good thing, too. A wire suddenly appeared in front of the rider at about shoulder height. It knocked her off the horse and onto the dry riding trail. The leader burst out of the bushes and applied a hypospray of sedative to the rider's neck. In a few moments it was all over. Their prey lay unconscious on the ground. One of the men gave the horse a slap on the rear, startling it into motion that would eventually bring it back to its paddock. By the time the horse returned, they would be long gone with their captive. The leader leaned over the senseless woman. He pulled out a photograph and compared it to the live woman at his feet.

"We got her. When we get back to the plane we can radio that we have nabbed Janis Campbell and are bringing her back to England."

He motioned to the larger of his companions. The man picked up the girl and slung her over his shoulder as they made their way back to their SUV.

By the time Charlie caught up with the horse, there was so sign of Janis Campbell or her abductors.

The phone rang in the library of Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward. Parker answered it. "'ell, no!" he shouted, losing his stoic composure. "Yew ken't mean h'it!" He hurried to bring the telephone to Lady Penelope. The unthinkable had happened. Lady Penelope had failed in a mission!

The pink pearls on Lady Penelope's portrait flashed urgently. As soon as communications were opened between them , but before Jeff could say anything, Penelope tendered her bad news.

"I'm afraid I've failed you, Jeff. Janis Campbell was abducted in broad daylight from my ranch at Bongo Bongo. I am quite certain that her kidnappers are already on their way to England, if they are not already here. Please inform Hiram and Bekkah of this new situation. Our quarry will make a move very soon, I fear, now that they have the specifications on the fifth component of the Space Shield device."

"And so that is the situation, Brains. Whoever is behind this has all of the component blueprints, save one. The one you designed. Bekkah especially needs to be on the alert for anything odd going on around her," Jeff explained. "Did you both eat your transmitters this morning?"

"I-i'm not sure about B-bekkah, Mr. Tracy. She was, uh, gone b-before I woke up." Brains crossed to the box of transmitters left by the elder Tracy. He mentally counted how many were left. "I-it seems she d-did. There is one, uh, less than there w-would have been had I alone taken one."

"Good. I'll check with John in Thunderbird 5 and make sure we can track you two."

"H-how did the r-rescue go yesterday, uh, Mr.Tracy?"

"Very well, Brains. There were no casualties, and Alan and Scott did very well filling in for Gordon in Thunderbird 4. All the boys got back safe and sound."

"That's good to h-hear, Mr. Tracy."

"Thanks for the warning, Hiram. It's too bad that Ms. Campbell had to go through all that. I hope they don't just kill her when they are through with her," Bekkah said to her "fiancé" when he called. "I'll be especially careful coming home tonight, 'dear'."

Gordon found Tin-Tin in the lab. He had just gotten an idea and wanted her help on it.

"Tin-Tin, can you take some time and fly me to the mainland? I've got some Christmas shopping to do."

"Sorry, Gordon, but you know I have to be here in case of an emergency. Why don't you see when my father is next going for supplies? I'm sure he could oblige you with a ride"

Gordon pouted. He stuck his lower lip out and let it quiver. Tin-Tin gave him a look and burst into laughter. "Sorry, Gordon. Not even the puppy-dog eyes and the quivering lip will help you this time! You'll have to go ask someone else!" she exclaimed through her mirth. Gordon shrugged, gave her a big grin, and went in search of Kyrano.

He found the Barnes children in the schoolroom. Chell was deep into her live teaching session. Terry was doing an online history test, and Joey hastily changed his computer game over to a pre-recorded lesson. Gordon wasn't fooled, however, and gave Joey a stern look for his dereliction.

"Kids, I'm going Christmas shopping and want to get something special for your mom. Can you help me out? What would she like?"

The children looked at each other blankly. They never quite knew what their mother would like until they saw it.

"Uh, we don't really know, Uncle Gordon," Chell explained. "It's not like she gives us a list or anything."

"Can we go with you?" Terry asked excitedly. "We haven't done any Christmas shopping either, you know!"

Gordon thought it over. Surely he could handle three kids on a shopping trip, and maybe they could give him some good ideas on what to buy for Bekkah.

"Okay, you can all come."

"Yay!" "Just let us get our money first!" "I've gotta get my wallet!"

He pulled Chell aside and whispered in her ear. She nodded, and ran back to their quarters. She stepped into her mother's room and fished around in the jewelry box until she found what Gordon had requested. Chell carefully put the item in a zippered pouch on her handbag, then ran out to meet Gordon down by the airstrip.

Kyrano piloted the aircraft toward New Zealand. The children were awestruck that they were going to country they had never visited before. Once there, Kyrano made himself scarce, leaving the supervision of the children entirely to Gordon. They drove out to a shopping center that the Tracy family frequented.

Joey immediately pulled on Gordon's good arm. "Can we get some ice cream, Uncle Gordon?" he asked plaintively.

Gordon rolled his eyes. He didn't realize that they would be begging for food quite so soon. "As soon as we find something for your mother, okay, Joey?" he promised.

Joey looked at him speculatively, as if judging whether or not the man would keep the promise he just made. Then he nodded, a bright smile decorating his little face. "Okay, Uncle Gordon. After we find something for Mom." Gordon had the feeling that if he didn't remember the promise, he would never be allowed to forget it.

The foursome window-shopped for a while. Gordon would point something out in a window and ask the children their opinion. They would look at the item thoughtfully, then look at each other and almost invariably shake their heads and say, "Nah!" After the fifth time of this little charade, Gordon was getting a little peeved.

They stopped in front of a jeweler's. Gordon asked, "Your mom has pierced ears, right?"

Chell looked at him with undisguised disdain, "Don't you know? You're the one kissing her!"

He closed his eyes and counted to ten silently. He did have to admit that he hadn't really noticed whether or not Bekkah wore earrings, but he thought that maybe, just maybe, she did. "C'mon, kids. Help me out here. I don't remember for sure."

Terry helped him out. "Yeah. Mom has pierced ears. She doesn't always wear earrings, though. And she's allergic to the cheap metals."

"Thank you, Terry." Gordon said, relieved that he had at least one ally in this quest. He pointed to some earrings in the store window. "Do you think she would like those?"

He got the usual response. "Well, then, what WOULD she like?" Gordon asked, exasperated. Terry pulled him over to another display in the window. Gordon looked at it in surprise. He looked at the children. "Are you sure?"

Chell nodded, "Yes! She's always said she wanted one of those." Joey stretched up and peered at it. He nodded, too.

"Okay. Let's go in and ask about it." The three children and their caretaker went into the jewelers' together. About a half hour later, they came out, the look of a job well done on each and every face. And before Joey could remind him of his promise, Gordon said, "Let's go get that ice cream."

"John, are you tracking Brains and Bekkah?" Jeff asked his middle son, the space monitor.

"Yes, Father. Both of them have eaten transmitters and I am picking them up clearly," John confidently replied. "Right now, they are both stationary."

"Good, John. Keep an eye on those two. I have a feeling that things are going to start happening very soon."

Bekkah called down to security to ask for the car to be brought around. It irked her that she had to do this each day; she would rather have been on her own. She was assured that the car would be at the front door when she got there and headed down to the lobby. The car door was opened for her by the driver. She looked up at him with a smile, and then frowned when she saw that it was not Lovitt who held the door for her.

"Where's Lovitt?" she asked, comprehension dawning.

"He's been unavoidably detained," said the man, who pushed her roughly into the back seat. Off balance, she fell heavily into the car. There was another man in the seat already, and he grabbed her around the neck and put a cloth over her nose and mouth. She squirmed and tried to fight, but the chloroform on the cloth finally did its job.

"Good work, gentlemen." Sir James stepped out of the shadows. "Now let's get our bait back to the trap so we can catch our last little mouse."

Lovitt picked himself off the garage floor with a groan. His head ached and bled from where he had been pistol whipped. He instantly knew what had happened; his assailants had taken the car to kidnap Dr. Barnes. Lovitt leaned against a cement garage support and pulled a cell phone from his pocket. He pushed a number on his speed dial.

"This is IR Agent 14 to Lady Penelope. The other team has the ball. Repeat, the other team has the ball." Then Lovitt staggered off to find his own vehicle. He would need it if he was going to back up Lady Penelope when she came upon the scene.

"Thunderbird 5 to base. Come in, base." John's picture blinked.

"Go ahead, John," Jeff answered his son.

"You were right, Father. It's beginning. Bekkah's transmitter is moving, but not on the regular route to the flat. She is going out towards the dockyards to the south of the city."

"Okay, John. I'll notify Brains about this so he'll be prepared when the kidnappers call. Keep tracking her, son. Base out." Jeff stood still for a moment with his eyes closed, thinking about the danger he had put his two engineers in. God, I hope they'll come through this all right. Just please let them be okay.

Brains paced the floor in the little apartment, waiting for the kidnappers to call him. He had a bad moment when Jeff told him about Bekkah's abduction, but he recovered his composure. He knew that Lady Penelope was on her way to wherever John had determined Bekkah had been taken. He knew that Lovitt was an IR agent and was also on his way to back Lady Penelope up. He knew that Parker would also be there as back up. But he didn't know where Bekkah was or what she was going through, and it ate him alive inside.

The videophone rang. He let it ring three times, then answered it, hand shaking. The caller had chosen "Voice Only" transmission.

"Hiram?" Bekkah's voice sounded strained and a bit slurred.

"Bekkah? Bekkah? Are you all right?" There was no faking the panic in his voice.

"I-I've been taken hostage. I don't know by whom. They want you to come here to me. Leave the apartment and go down the block to your right. At the corner will be a cab waiting for you there. Please come soon, dar...." The call was cut off mid-word.

Was she about to say 'darling'? he wondered as he grabbed his coat and keys and left the apartment, locking the door behind him. Well, it would be odd if she didn't use some term of endearment, wouldn't it? he thought. He ran as fast as he could down the block to the corner. As indicated, there was a cab waiting for him. He climbed in the back, and another man climbed in behind him.

He was no sooner settled in his seat when the driver of the cab turned around and pointed a gun at him.

"Hello, there old 'friend'."

Brains' eyes widened. "Masters!" he whispered, in shock.

"Yes, it's me, old thing." He made a motion to the goon in the back, who took off Brains's glasses and substituted a blindfold, then tied the engineer's hands behind his back. "Now, let's go find your lady love, shall we?" Sir James said slyly as he put the car in gear.