Professor Matic had finally done it! After months of careful calculations, planning, exhaustive tests and, most importantly of all, permission from Commander Zero, he was ready to begin. He took a step towards the equipment set up beside landing pad one and switched on the complex looking piece of machinery.
Steve Zodiac grinned and asked, “Are you sure this is going to work, Matt?”
“Oh I am pretty darned certain, Steve! It’s gotta work, we can’t let everyone down on today of all days!” Matt replied as he adjusted a few more controls. He stood back to admire his handiwork, “That’ll just about do it. Okay, setting the time machine to 1875. I hope our first guest got his invitation alright.”
“Relax,” Steve said easily, “That’s all been taken care of. Okay – switch on!”
Matt did so and the area was instantly filled with a strange noise as Matic’s time machine began to operate.
Slowly, as if from thin air, a figure started to emerge. A figure on horseback accompanied by a small dog.
As the trio finally materialised, Steve took a step forward, his hand outstretched, “Sheriff Tucker? Colonel Steve Zodiac, World Space Patrol, it’s a pleasure to meet you in person at last.”
Tex looked around the launch apron and raised an eyebrow in fascination, “Glad to know you, Colonel, and call me Tex. This here’s Rocky and the little guy sniffin’ around your feet is Dusty.”
Steve laughed, “Hello fellas, I’m pleased you could join us.”
“Delighted, old chap!” Rocky said cheerfully.
“Yeah, me too!” Dusty agreed.
Of course, only Tex could actually hear them speaking thanks to his magic feathers, “When does the party start?” he asked.
“As soon as the other guests have arrived,” Steve advised, “Right Matt, set coordinates for the next group.”
“Zeroing in on the year 1960 now, Steve,” Matic replied, throwing the control lever on the console.
Once more the area was filled with the same strange noise as before and there on the landing pad another shape began to form. This one was larger than before. The brilliant red and white markings became more and more defined until Supercar was sitting before them.
The three occupants disembarked and strolled over to Steve.
“Hi there! I’m Mike Mercury, these are my associates Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker.”
“Good to see you, gentlemen. Thank you for accepting our invitation and welcome to Space City.”
“Time travel! Simply remarkable!” Popkiss enthused, “Ah, that must be Professor Matic. Come, Beaker, we must introduce ourselves!”
The two scientists made their way towards the console as Mike and Steve shared a knowing grin.
“1969 next, Steve!” Matic called between bursts of excited chattering with his new acquaintances.
The lone visitor who materialised wouldn’t have looked out of place in a quaint old English village. His flowing back robes, priest’s collar, hearing aid and trusty briefcase seemed even more at odds with Space City’s futuristic architecture than Tex’s cowboy outfit had.
“Ah, excuse me. Colonel Zodiac is it? Father Stanley Unwin – the Bishop said you’d be expecting me.”
“Yes indeed, Father. Make yourself at home. Can I take your case for you?”
“Most kind, but I’ll hold onto it. I find it comes in rather useful for the smallest of things,” Unwin said with an enigmatic smile.
“Sure, anything you like,” Steve replied politely.
And so the guests continued to converge on Space City thanks to Matic’s marvellous invention; Harry Rule and the Contessa di Contini popped in from 1972, Colonel Virginia Lake of SHADO arrived from 1981 and Captain John Koenig from 1998.
After a brief pause to let everyone get to know each other, Matt operated the controls once more and in quick succession Steve welcomed Ian and Joe McClaine in their flying car from 2013, Doctor Tiger Ninestein and Captain Mary Falconer in Hawkwing from 2020 and Officers Jack Haldane and Jane Castle in a police cruiser from 2040.
“This is the tricky part, Steve,” Matt advised seriously, “I’ll be pushing the machine to its limits!”
“If anyone can do it, you can,” Steve said encouragingly.
Matt nodded and pulled a previously unused yellow lever on the side of the control console. A moment later the air began to hum with a slightly different noise than it had before.
Then, before the assembled crowd, a final batch of time-travellers began to appear; Dick Spanner (who simply said he’d come from ‘not long ago’), Captain Thrice and Doctor Lyca, the miraculous living toys Torchy and Twizzle and lastly Captain Ochre of Spectrum.
Despite some of the rather eccentric guests that had appeared before, Steve was most puzzled by the final arrival.
He held out his hand, “Steve Zodiac, World Space Patrol. I thought I knew just about everyone in Spectrum, but I don’t think I’ve seen you before. And that uniform isn’t like anything I’ve seen Spectrum personnel wearing either.”
Ochre smiled as she replied, “I wouldn’t worry about that. I could try and tell you why that is, but I don’t think you’d have any more luck believin’ it than I would have explainin’ it.”
The residual sound of the time machine faded away and Matt signalled Steve with a thumbs-up.
Steve called above the chatter of the assembled guests, “Pardon me folks, but if I could have your attention for just one moment.”
The hubbub ceased and the guests directed their attention to Steve.
“In a few minutes, we’ll be welcoming our final guests and the celebration can begin. If you’d like to turn your attention towards the western coast,” he said, gesturing to the horizon.
They all stared expectantly towards the distant coastline where the sun was already setting.
“There’s something coming,” Koenig said.
“It’s a bird!” Torchy cried.
“It’s a plane!” Lake corrected.
“It’s a pterodactyl! No, you were right, it is a plane,” Spanner finished.
As the huge aircraft neared Space City, the onlookers could make out the white markings on the green hull that read Thunderbird 2.
The International Rescue machine made a picture-perfect landing on an adjacent pad. It raised itself on hydraulic jacks to reveal Pod 1 underneath.
The flap opened and the silver-blue, shark-like shape of a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle rolled down the ramp and came to a halt beside the crowd of guests.
The pair of entry hatches slid open and Captain Scarlet, Lady Penelope, Virgil Tracy and Troy Tempest alighted and greeted Steve warmly.
“I hope we’re on time!” Virgil said apologetically, “We had to make an unexpected stop to help with a forest fire on the way here.”
“Couldn’t be better, we’re just about to start the celebration,” Steve said.
At that moment, a commanding voice crackled over the public address system, “Attention; this is Commander Zero speaking. Let’s begin the celebration in… Five! Four! Three! Two! One!”
Suddenly, the lights in the control tower were switched off and seconds later some of them were switched on again to spell out the words Happy Gerry Anderson Day!
“I say!” Lady Penelope exclaimed with delight, “That looks absolutely FAB! A happy Gerry Anderson Day to us, and of course a very happy Gerry Anderson Day to all of you at home!”
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