It was an unexpected occurrence, one that I could not have foreseen. A change in my perspective of myself, of my friends, of my family. A time of trouble and tribulation that tested the bonds I had forged with the man I served and his sons. And the final conflict between my wayward kin and myself.
My name is Kyrano. This is my story.
I am Malay by birth, son of a wealthy plantation owner. My upbringing was gentle, for war did not disturb our country for many a long year. As a young man my interests lay in the gentle science of botany and the gentle art of cuisine. I became skilled in the design and maintenance of gardens, both flowering and deciduous. My culinary skills earned me honor both at home and abroad. As the oldest son, I would have inherited my father's lands and fortune, enabling me to pursue my interests without fear of penury. Until someone came and shattered that future.
His name was Belah Gaat.
The unfortunate and untimely death of my mother saddened my father greatly to the extent that he looked again to marry, hoping to replace the woman he had lost with another. A clever and sly woman of the village, branded a sorceress by the local residents, was able to seduce my father, and soon became his second wife. They produced a son, vigorous and proud, without restraint or discipline, and in every way evil. The powers his mother was accused of having, of seduction and of hypnosis were passed to this son, who used them over the cowering servants as he saw fit. Eventually he would use them on my father, forcing him to disown me in favor of the second son. And finally, he began to use them on me, spinning a subtle thread in my mind, a thread that would eventually thicken into a rope, a rope he could use to capture my conscious thought and make me his slave.
Turned from my rightful inheritance, spurned by my own father (under Belah's evil influence), I looked upon the world to make my own mark in it. For many years I was head botanist at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, just outside of London. It was a happy time, and I had the wherewithal to experiment, not only in crossbreeding plants and trees to make them more resistant to disease and to pollution, but also to experiment in other venues as well. It was a paper of mine about a versatile plant-based source of nourishment that engendered an invitation to the Kennedy Space Center. NASA was interested in my findings as plans for moon colonization began to be less of a dream and more of a reality. They needed something that would grow well under the harshest of conditions. My discovery was one of many that they considered during my visit to America. But something of greater import happened during that time, although I did not realize its significance until much later. It was then that I met and was befriended by a visionary young astronaut named Jefferson Tracy.
At first I looked askance at this young man. His powerful personality, honed and disciplined by the military, overshadowed my own, and my accomplishments, though varied and valued in their own right, paled considerably against his historic walk on the moon at the very beginning of lunar colonization. I wondered what value he could place on a friendship with someone like myself, someone so thoroughly within his giant shadow. But he made it a point to speak with me, at first in passing, then more at length, until we were talking for hours over a meal. Even though the world might look upon him as a giant in the annals of space travel, his own basic decency kept him from flaunting his achievements, and he made me feel as if my own areas of expertise were on a parallel to his own.
The first hint of my role in our friendship came during a conversation on the importance of space exploration. Naturally, being a member of the space-faring pioneers, he was enthused about such exploration and what it would tell us about our solar system and stars and worlds beyond that.
"Kyrano, you mark my words. Space exploration will be the best thing to come along for mankind since we explored the seas!" he once told me over dinner.
"But, Jeff. Have we truly explored our seas? Even now, with better and better equipment, we are looking deeper and deeper into our oceans and finding new life each day. Not only for the joy of discovery, but for the saving of our world and the people on it. The exploration of the seas has harvested new foods, new sources of valuable minerals, new reserves of fossil fuels, and we've barely even scratched the surface! How can we go into space expecting to explore new worlds there, when we're still trying to fully study our own?"
My own passion for the subject seemed to take him aback. He was silent for several minutes, and I was afraid I had offended him. Then he chuckled.
"Kyrano, you've given me something new to think about. Exploring the seas and exploring space are much the same. They have the same purpose: to gain knowledge about other worlds. Because the sea is as much another world as space is, and just as hostile to us puny humans." He looked at me with a grin. "Thanks for giving me another perspective."
It soon became plain that I was to be the voice of reason, the one to point out to my friend another path, an option he had overlooked but should consider. It was a role I was more than content to play.
Much too soon, my visit to NASA came to an end, and I returned to England. There I met Samani, the lovely lady who would become my wife. Her work as a Renaissance historian and lecturer took her to France for an extended period of time. I left my position in England and followed her to Paris so we could be together. Once there, my interest in cuisine reasserted itself, and I became a sous chef at the Paris Hilton, soon working my way up to head chef. It was during this time that one of our happiest moments occurred: the birth of our beautiful daughter. We named her Tin-Tin, which in Malay, means "sweet". And she was a sweet child, with a melting smile and large dark eyes that looked at us with such trust and love. We could not have been happier.
But our happiness was not to last. A fire in the library where my Samani did much of her research trapped her and several others inside, killing them with carbon monoxide poisoning. It was the saddest day of my life when the university officials came to the Hilton to find me and tell me of my beloved's demise. Fortunately, I had my little Tin-Tin, who gave me a reason to continue and brought much joy into my life when all else looked barren and cold.
I could have gone on living in Paris, quite content with my life. But the winds of fate brought me back into contact with my friend, Jeff Tracy. We had kept in communication over the years, sometimes speaking on the phone, but mostly through correspondence. At this point he was also a widower, with four sons in university, and in the case of Scott, the Air Force. He was staying at the Hilton, visiting with an eye to expand his growing new business venture onto the European continent. He was also looking for engineering talent, and went to listen to a precocious young man lecture. That same young man would later become his chief engineer.
He was not surprised to find me in the kitchen, and when my shift was over, we shared a bottle of wine and a meal, and it was like old times. He had brought his youngest son, Alan, along with him. Tin-Tin had begun university but was home on holidays. The two young people, so close in age, became fast friends that day, while their fathers talked on and on into the night.
Our long conversation touched on many subjects, but there was one in particular to which Jeff kept coming back: the possibilities inherent in an elite rescue team. "With the proper equipment, such a team could rescue those for whom there is no other hope. Could save the lives of people deemed unsaveable by ordinary methods." It was a subject about which he seemed passionate.
Indeed, my own interest was piqued, for had such a team existed at the time of my wife's death, she might have been saved.
"Jeff, I am interested in what you are describing. Tell me more. Do you plan on creating such a team? If so, I would be honored to do what I could for your cause." He looked at me with surprise. He later told me that the seeds of the project had been planted in his mind, but had not taken root as something that he himself should develop and nurture. With my words, he said, his mission crystallized and became clear.
"When we are ready, Kyrano, I could use your help keeping my household in running order. I expect my boys to join this organization, and with both running the organization and keeping up with my business, I will have my plate overly full. If you could see your way clear to help me with the house, I'd be grateful." He looked down. "I know that this would be a big come-down for a man of your talents, but you've proven yourself to be a good and faithful friend, and I'll need people like you if I am to create the rescue team we've discussed today. Plus, I value your opinions and your judgment. I'd like to have you close at hand as I take on this new project."
"Of course, you would bring Tin-Tin along, once she has finished her education. I'm sure there would be a place for a young woman of her talents in the organization. In fact, I would like to step in and pay for her education, as a way of freeing you up to come out and help. What do you say?" he finally asked, an eager look on his face. He was like a runner just waiting for the gun to go off so he could begin his race.
"Jeff, I would be happy to help you in this endeavor in any way I can. To bring about such a massive project will take time and effort, and if I can give you that time by freeing you from the business of running your household, I will." The words tumbled from my mouth without my even thinking about them. His enthusiasm for the project, for this rescue unit, had infected me fully, and I, too, was eager for that race to start.
I left my job at the Hilton, and I moved to the Tracy's new villa on a pristine island in the South Pacific. My presence meant that boys, now men, could help their father prepare for the giant task ahead of them without worrying about who was going to cook or perform other mundane household chores. Here I met Brains, the precocious genius who designed and oversaw the building of the Thunderbirds. Here Tin-Tin came home on holidays, meeting the older four Tracy boys, and renewing her acquaintance with Alan, for whom she had a special spot in her heart. I believe that it was my steady, quiet work in the background that left Jeff free to worry about Gordon after his terrible hydrofoil accident. But best of all, I found myself being drawn more and more into this family and into the dream that was International Rescue.
It was about this time that I began to suffer episodes of time loss. I would be one place doing something, and the next thing I knew I might be somewhere else, lying on the floor with a bad headache. I did not realize that my half-brother, Belah, caused these blackouts as he tried to gain information about International Rescue and their advanced equipment. To an outsider, my episodes of time loss looked like a seizure of some kind, one in which I might or might not say something out loud. However, most of my communication with Belah was done mind to mind, so no one could discern what exactly was going on.
Eventually, my blackouts were discovered. Jeff was very concerned for my health, and brought in a specialist to examine me. He could not find any physical symptoms that would cause such neurological upset. Still, Jeff's concern led him to think that I needed help in the growing responsibilities that he had placed upon me. So, he called his mother, Elanor, to come and help at the Island.
Mrs. Tracy and I did not see eye-to-eye at the start. Her cooking methods and recipes were American; mine Continental and Oriental. She folded clothing one way, I another. It seemed as if we had a tug-of-war going over who was to control the position of housekeeper. Finally, we both sat down of an evening to discuss the matter.
"Look, Kyrano. Both of us want what is best for Jeff and the boys. Can we split up some of the housework duties and agree to disagree on some routines and menus? Because our fighting isn't helping anyone. Especially International Rescue," she explained.
"Yes, I, too, feel we could better delineate our roles in the household and perhaps plan on alternating the cooking duties. This would give more excitement to the menu. And I agree that our dispute is not helping your son and grandsons to do what they have set out to do with International Rescue," I replied. And from that moment on, we were allies and even later became friends. We still had, and will have, our differences. But in many things we have learned to politely disagree.
It would take three years before we discovered the source of my blackouts and time loss, and the extent of the damage Belah had wrought with the information he obtained from me. When his insidious plot was finally uncovered, I went into seclusion for a month, training my mind to resist his advances, schooling it to return his pain upon him. And when he tried again to use me, to pull my mind to do his bidding by the rope he had spun, I was ready. I fought him with all my strength and found myself more than capable of breaking the rope and his hold over me. Since then, he has tried several times to again gain control of my mind, but his forays have been easy to turn back upon him. He can no longer make me betray my best friend and his organization.