Gordon put on an orange hard hat and magnetic boots. He tethered himself to the scaffolding, and walked gingerly out on Thunderbird 2’s wide expanse, carrying a laser welding kit on his back. He skirted the hole that he and John had made earlier when they removed the three scorched hull plates. John stood on the repair bay floor, putting the first replacement plate in a cargo net, ready to be winched up to where Gordon stood waiting.
“Okay, John. Bring her up!” he said into his telecomm watch. John gave him a thumbs up and started the winch by remote control. Then he climbed the scaffolding himself and joined Gordon on Thunderbird 2’s hull. He snagged a guide rope attached to the cargo net as he came.
Once the net had reached their level, they pulled together and brought it close to them by using the winch’s pulley arrangement. John used the remote control to lower the plate over the place where it was to be welded, and they both untangled it from the net. It slid into place perfectly.
John brought out the power riveter. Using air pressure, the power riveter could drive a hot rivet through steel just like an air hammer could drive a nail. He used it to put rivets in all along the edge of the plate, while Gordon unhitched the welding kit and set it up. As soon as the rivets were set, he put on his welding mask and started in. John backed off the hull to avoid the bright light of the laser welder. He climbed down the scaffolding and prepared the next section of hull for transport.
Gordon felt good to be working up here. It was heavy work, but it was active work. Not like the painstaking soldering and minute work that Bekkah was doing in the lab. She was still working on the motherboards and the drivers. After taking the computer out into the lab, she found that two more of the motherboards were fused and would need replacing. Her attitude by that time was; why not do the whole thing over and start fresh. So, with Jeff’s permission, she had started from scratch. Well, not entirely from scratch. She had already designed the boards and knew where to deviate from the original specs to get the computer to work as she wanted it to. So her work was going a bit faster.
When he was done, he’d have to look in on her. He grinned. She probably could use a good massage. If he was lucky, he’d catch her working off stress by dancing in the lab. She was a fun dance partner.
Inside Thunderbird 2, Scott was taking off bulkheads, Alan was putting up insulation, while Brains installed wiring and more nanocircuitry. He had been a quick study on its uses and installation when he returned from his lengthy hospital stay. His limp had almost disappeared, but when he was tired, as he was now, it returned with a vengeance.
“Brains.” Scott stopped him as he picked up another piece of nanocircuit board. “You are already an hour and a half into your rest period. Get out of here and get to bed.”
“But, S-scott...” The engineer tried to protest.
“Don’t ‘but Scott’ me. Your limp is getting worse and I can tell you are dog-tired. Tired people make mistakes. Get some rest.” Scott spoke firmly, but kindly.
“A-a-all right.” Brains wearily headed for the rescue capsule, which was being used as an elevator.
“He works too hard,” Alan observed, as he watched Brains winch himself down to the floor.
“Yeah, but we’ve benefitted from it.” Scott turned to his work. “We’ve got to remember that he’s not just an intellect, he’s a person. And sometimes he doesn’t take care of himself.”
“So we do it for him, huh?” Alan thought for a minute. “Do you think his fall has made him see his own mortality? He went to bed without putting up much of a fuss.”
“I think his fall made all of us see our own mortality and fragility. I mean, if Brains, who is as smart as they come and not in the danger we always face, can end up in the hospital for three months, what about us, who run around in danger every day?” Scott looked at Alan for a minute. “Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, none of us are invulnerable. None of us.” Alan turned back to his work.
Tin-Tin woke up, her alarm ringing loudly. She groaned, and turned off the alarm, sitting up on the side of the bed as she did so. It was her work shift now. She pulled on her work coverall, a light blue twill, her work boots, and put her lustrous black hair back in a bandanna. Then she went in search of food before she started work again.
In the hall, she met Brains, walking slowly along to his bedroom. She was surprised at how badly he was limping.
“Brains, do you need some help?” she asked, concerned.
“No, T-tin-Tin. I c-can, uh, m-make it.” His stutter grew worse with fatigue.
“If you say so, Brains. Pleasant dreams.” She watched him as he turned into his bedroom.
Brains didn’t even take off his clothes. He just fell into his bed. He did remember to take off his glasses and put them on the table next to the bed. His hip hurt so much and so did his back. He knew he still was not one hundred percent healed from his accident. He drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Kyrano saw his daughter come into the kitchen, yawning. Within minutes he had a glass of orange juice sitting before her, toast in the toaster, and eggs and bacon frying in a pan on the stove. Jeff was there in the kitchen. His work shift was also about to start. He drained his coffee cup, and got up to pour himself another one. Kyrano finished cooking Tin-Tin’s eggs and put them in front of her.
“Thank you, Father.” She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.
“Eat, my daughter. Gain strength for the day.” He returned the greeting and went back to his work.
“What are you going to be working on today, Mr. Tracy?” Tin-Tin asked.
“Removing more bulkheads. I’ll be relieving Scott in a few minutes,” he said, distracted by a newspaper he held before him.
“I just passed Brains in the hall. He was on his way to bed,” Tin-Tin said. “So I suppose I’ll be installing more wiring and nanocircuitry.”
“Any news from Bekkah on the CPU?”
“I just finished.” Bekkah stood in the doorway, leaning on the post, eyes half-shut. “At least I think I finished. I’ll run diagnostics on it when I can see straight again.” She looked like she was asleep on her feet.
“Can I please have some orange juice, Kyrano? I need something wet and cold right now.”
“Certainly, Dr. Barnes. Please sit down before you fall down.”
She smiled at him and sat. He put a tall glass of juice in front of her.
“Have my children been behaving themselves?” she asked as she lifted the orange juice to her lips.
“I have caught young Joey playing computer games instead of watching his teacher. Twice.” Kyrano didn’t sugarcoat the information. “And Michelle has been reading another mystery. She says her work is done, but I’m not sure.”
“Thanks, Kyrano. I’ll check in on them after I’m conscious again.” Bekkah finished her juice and stood up from the table. She walked out into the corridor and smack into Gordon.
“I was looking for you,” he said as he took in her half-closed eyes.
She squinted at him.
“I think I know you. Oh yeah. The red-headed one.” She turned around and started for her quarters in the Round House. Gordon grinned, then put one of her arms around his shoulder, his arm around her waist, as if to help her walk. Once in the corridor that lead to the Barnes family quarters, he scooped her up, despite her protestations, and carried her to her bedroom.
“If you think you are going to get any action here, young man, think again,” she told him, shaking a finger in his face for good measure. He caught the finger, kissed it, and then kissed her lips as she lay back on the bed.
“No, I can tell that anything we did right now would promptly be forgotten by at least one of the parties involved. So instead of taking advantage of your near unconsciousness, I’ll just kiss you goodnight.” He did so and was not surprised to see her already asleep. He removed her workboots for her and covered her up with her quilt. Then he turned off the light and shut the door behind him.