High above the earth, in a secret orbit, is an eye in the sky. Manned by a single person, it is the ears and eyes of International Rescue, the world- reknowned rescue organization. Right now, it was manned by a handsome young man with bright blond hair and eyebrows and a boyish face. He was listening with half an ear to the babble of voices that came over a series of speakers, relaying radio messages from all over the world. The remainder of his attention was taken by a beautiful Asian girl who had contacted him on her wrist telecomm.
"How is the conference going, Tin-Tin?" Alan Tracy asked with a smile.
"It's been fascinating, Alan! I went to a presentation on undersea habitats, and then heard Bekkah read her paper on nanocircuitry and the computer. She sure kept everyone interested, especially since it was after lunch. There's a big banquet tonight and then Sir James Masters has asked me to join him for cocktails afterwards," Tin-Tin gushed.
"Sir James Masters? Isn't that Brains and Bekkah's friend?" Alan frowned.
"Yes, Alan. And he is such a gentleman. He has put me completely at ease here."
"Oh. Well, have a good time there. I'll talk to you again tomorrow. Alan out." The connection went dead.
Alan thought about Tin-Tin and this Sir James Masters. Then he smiled and shrugged. If he's a friend of Brains' and Bekkah's, he reasoned, he's bound to be a geek. No problem there.
Bekkah looked at her outfit. She had chosen a tailored satin blouse, a long velvet skirt with a slit up one leg to the knee, and a wide shiny sash to belt around her waist. She approved of how she looked in it; her months at Tracy Island had been beneficial in the weight-loss department. She smiled softly when she thought of a certain red-haired Tracy son and wondered how he would think she looked.
There was a knock at the door.
"Coming!" She passed her brush once more through her brown and silver waves, then opened the door. Hiram stood there, wearing a tuxedo and a plaid bow tie. He looked dapper, and she told him so.
"Would you care to accompany me down to dinner, madam?" he asked, offering her his arm.
"It would be my great pleasure, sir," she answered, then they both burst into laughter. She took his arm and they walked toward the elevator. There they met Tin-Tin and Sir James. His tuxedo was impeccable, as usual. Tin- Tin wore a long Oriental style satin dress in a royal blue. The dress enhanced her exotic beauty, and she wore her hair up in a chignon, which made her look older and more mysterious. They make a handsome couple, Bekkah thought. It is definitely a good thing that Alan Tracy is not on earth to see this.
The foursome entered the banquet hall and were directed to a table in the center of the hall. Each table held six people, and two people were already sitting at their table.
"Ah! Gregory!" Sir James called to the man. He made introductions around the table. Gregory Martin was a structural engineer who worked with Sir James and was at the conference with his pregnant wife, Janet. They look like pleasant people and a comfortable couple, Bekkah thought as she was introduced.
Hiram pulled out her chair for her, and she sat, looking around the hall to see who else she recognized. Her gaze met that of Ivan Virenov's. He was staring at her intently, and made her feel uneasy. She nodded at him coolly and broke the contact. The meal was served, and she dropped Virenov from her thoughts as she ate.
During dessert, the outgoing president of the International College of Engineering and Design, Bertram Worcester, stood at the podium to make his usual dry remarks and to introduce the year's new officers. His speech was met with polite applause. The new president, Elise Rudd, stood and introduced the conference speakers, having them stand as she called their names. When Bekkah's name was called, she stood, making bows and blowing kisses to the crowd, getting a good laugh.
"If I hadn't been in your session this afternoon, Dr. Barnes, I would think you were drunk," Gregory told her with a grin.
"Nope. I don't drink so I don't have any excuse for my behavior," she grinned back at him.
"Nice to see Elise finally getting some recognition," Sir James said. "She's the engineering department head at British Space and Technology." He grinned. "In other words, she's my boss!" He turned to Tin-Tin. "Ready to go, my dear?" he inquired.
"Hiram, Bekkah, Sir James has asked me to cocktails after dinner." Tin-Tin told her companions. "I just wanted you to know where I was going to be."
"Okay, Tin-Tin. Have a good time." Hiram told her.
Bekkah leaned over and whispered in Tin-Tin's ear. "Take your big sister's advice. Watch Sir James's hands. They tend to rove where they aren't necessarily wanted."
Tin-Tin looked at her, startled, then nodded. "I'll be careful." She stood and took Sir James' arm and together they glided from the room.
Hiram sighed. Bekkah gave him a sideways look. "Penny for your thoughts?"
"I wish I was as suave as Sir James."
"Who says you aren't?" she challenged, "You just haven't had as much practice." Brains looked at her raised eyebrows and mischevious smile and burst out laughing. She joined his laughter. He offered his arm to her again.
"Where to, milady?" he said, doing his best impression of Sir James.
"Starbucks," she replied. "Did you remember the travel Scrabble board?"
After two cups of coffee and one knock-down, drag-out game of Scrabble, which Brains won by two points, Bekkah and Brains headed back to their respective hotel rooms. Brains said goodnight at Bekkah's door and walked down the hall. Bekkah slid her key card into the door's slot and opened the door, turning on the light as she came into the room. She dropped her little handbag on the table by the bed, kicked off her shoes, and sat down on the edge of the bed. Her eyes widened and she gasped as she saw Ivan Virenov standing before her.
"What are you doing here? What do you want?" she asked angrily.
"I just want to talk." Virenov put his hands on her shoulders. "I want to apologize for my behavior this afternoon. Can we sit?"
He sat in the chair beside the bed. She sat on the bed itself, watching him warily.
"I was so upset to hear that you had accepted a position with Tracy Industries. Old man Tracy is my top competitor, you know. It just made me so angry to know you were working for him."
"What does it matter to you, Ivan? It's not as if I owe you anything," she stated.
"No, you don't owe me anything. That's true enough. But, Bekkah, for seven years I've worshipped at your feet." The words came from him all in a rush. "I've wanted you to love me and be my woman. When your husband died, I rejoiced. I thought maybe you'd notice me and my passion. I've endured your teasing and insults silently, my love for you forgiving every one. I wanted you to join me at Virenov Technologies. With your wit and creativity, and my engineering genius, we would have taken the engineering world by storm." His face darkened with anger. "But you've gone over to old man Tracy. How much does he pay to keep you? How far have you degraded yourself for his favor?"
Bekkah was shocked at Virenov's words.
"Ivan. I never knew you felt this for me. You never said anything. But as far as Tracy Industries is concerned, I am an employee. Nothing more. Mr. Tracy has made no advances, and I am not a....kept woman."
"You lie!" Virenov hissed at her. "If it's not old man Tracy, it's one of those useless sons of his. You should be with me. You should be mine, body and soul. One of them is taking what is rightfully mine! No longer!" With a speed she didn't know he possessed, Ivan jumped from the chair and grabbed her by the waist. He pressed her down on the bed, his legs straddling her hips, his hands holding down her arms. She struggled to get out of his grip, twisting and trying to get her knees between them to push him away. But he was too strong.
"Ivan, let go of me! Get off!" she hollered.
"No, Bekkah!" His face was twisted into a savage grin. "I will have you, body and soul, tonight!"
He put his mouth over hers in a brutal kiss, his tongue dipping deep into her mouth. He grabbed both sides of her face to do it again. This freed her arms, and she hit him with all her strength in the throat, a tactic Scott Tracy had taught her. He fell back and she was free. She rolled off the bed, landing on her feet, screaming "Help!" at the top of her lungs as she ran for the door.
He grabbed her by the hair and put his hand over her mouth. She bit him, and he grabbed one arm and slammed her into the wall, stunning her. While she was fighting to remain conscious, he picked her up again and threw her on the bed. He straddled her hips and abdomen again, pinning her hands beneath his knees. His mouth covered hers again, then he began to kiss her neck as she struggled weakly against him, fading in and out of consciousness. He began to unbutton her shirt, rubbing his hands over the bare skin revealed, and kissing it hard and ardently, ripping the shirt open as his fingers fumbled on the buttons. His hands slid up under her camisole, ripping open her bra, feeling the flesh it covered. He moved his hips further down her body, sitting on her thighs, and freeing her arms, which began to push weakly at him, trying to get him off of her.
"No, no, no," she muttered at him as he removed her sash, and began to pull her skirt and slip down, revealing her panties. He ran his hands over her stomach and hips, moaning, then moved back up, hands under the camisole again. He was about to pull her panties down when he became aware of a pounding on the door.
"Bekkah! Bekkah!" Hiram's voice came muffled through the closed door. But it was enough to rouse Bekkah from her stupor. She began to claw and scratch Virenov's face.
"Help me!" she screamed.
"Enough of that!" he hissed. Virenov lay on her full-length to pin her completely. He closed her mouth with another kiss while keeping her scratching hands at bay with his elbows.
A gunshot sounded outside the door. It flung open, revealing Hiram Hackenbacker, a pistol in his hand.
"Get off of her!" Hiram commanded, raising the gun and leveling it at Virenov.
"You pathetic weakling. You won't shoot me. You haven't got the guts." Virenov taunted.
Brains's eyes were hard behind his glasses. He took aim. He fired.
"Arrgh!" Virenov grabbed his thigh. The lessening of his weight and freeing of her arm allowed Bekkah to push up, hard. Virenov fell off to her right and she rolled off the bed to the left. Virenov made a grab at her and Brains fired again, catching him in the shoulder. He finally fell back onto the floor, moaning as he clutched his bloody shoulder. Brains lowered his weapon.
A pounding in the hall heralded the arrival of security guards. They looked around at the scene.
"He shot me! I was making love to that woman and he broke in and shot me!" Virenov pointed to Brains. "Arrest him!"
Brains turned to the security men calmly and handed them his weapon. "He was raping her. I stopped him."
The head security guard turned to Bekkah, who was huddled on the floor, breathing deeply.
"Madam?" His one word asked all of his questions.
Bekkah looked up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. "He was trying to rape me." She began to sob and shake. Hiram went to her and lifted her to her feet, then held her close in a tender hug.
The security guards took charge of Virenov, who was shouting at Bekkah.
"You haven't heard the last of me! I will finish what I started. I will have you, Rebekkah Barnes!" His voice echoed down the hallway.
"Will you be pressing charges, Madam?" asked the head of security.
Bekkah nodded mutely.
"I will send a police officer up to take your statement." He left, taking Brains' gun with him.
Brains moved her gently over to the chair in her room. Then he went to the bathroom, found her modest robe and helped her put it on. He crouched by her, laying one hand gently on hers, looking into her face and whispering words of comfort. That is how Tin-Tin and Sir James found them upon their return to the floor.
The returning couple were followed closely by a policewoman and a photographer who pushed through the curious rubberneckers at Bekkah's door, and sent them on their way. They were about to shoo away Tin-Tin and Sir James when Brains beckoned to Tin-Tin and asked the policewoman to let the Asian girl in.
"She's a friend of the victim," he said simply. He went into the hall, closing the door as much as he could behind him.
The hotel moved Bekkah to a new room on a different floor since the lock on her door no longer functioned, thanks to Brains' shooting. The policewoman took her statement, and the photographer took pictures of the bruises that were beginning to appear on Bekkah's skin. Bekkah sat on the chair in the room, blankly staring ahead. Tin-Tin, realizing that Bekkah was in shock, summoned a doctor, who gave Bekkah a sedative, and helped Tin-Tin put her to bed.
Brains went back to his room and composed himself. He knew he had to report back to Tracy Island and tell Jeff Tracy about this outrage. But he wanted to be calm when he did. Right now he was so full of anger and rage that he couldn't speak. He did some deep breathing, and then opened communications with Thunderbird 5.
"Brains to Thunderbird 5."
The call woke Alan from a sound sleep.
"Thunderbird 5 to Brains. What's up?"
"Alan. Patch me through to base."
Alan's portrait began to blink. John Tracy, who had night watch, answered his call.
"Base to Thunderbird 5. What have you got, Alan?"
Brains's face appeared on the television screen. He started to see John there. John is not the person to tell this to, he thought. He loves Bekkah too much.
"John, please wake your father for me." John was puzzled, and started to protest.
"Please, John. I want to talk to Mr. Tracy." John, noticing that Brains wasn't stuttering, knew it had to be serious and went to wake his father.
Jeff Tracy yawned as he padded into the lounge, where Brains waited patiently to speak to him.
"John, please leave the room." Brains asked the tall, blond Tracy. John looked at his father, who nodded at him. He left the room.
"Mr. Tracy," Brains swallowed hard, trying to give the bad news as gently as he could. "Bekkah has been the victim of an attempted rape."
The slight black woman who had been following Bekkah around kept track of what was going on by listening to the radio reports, both from the police scanner and through the hotel security network. Her colleague, the one who had been following Brains, had kept a discreet distance from the engineer as he had shot the door lock and made his heroic rescue, and he reported it to the woman. Finally, she dressed herself as a maid in the morning, and knocked on the door to Bekkah's new room. Tin-Tin answered it.
"Oh! I thought this room was vacant. My apologies." She could see the sleeping form in the bed, and knew her quarry would not be up and about soon.
She returned to her headquarters and reported.
"It worked. Virenov is suborned. Barnes is next."