by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
International Rescue have once again saved the day after a thrilling underground mission to save two geologists on Immelmann Island.
Immelmann Island, a small volcanic outcrop in the Pacific ring of fire, has recently hit the news as a potential untapped resource of valuable mineral deposits. Renowned geologist Professor Hans Verner and his assistant Angela Halpert flew out to the island by helijet on Wednesday. After spending a day making preliminary evaluations, the pair descended into a deep shaft, scanning for potential mineral traces.
Within the first hour of their search, they had found what they believed to be a vein of Cahelium, an extremely rare and valuable substance. While collecting a sample for analysis, the island experienced a seismic event and the entrance to the cavern was cut off by falling rocks. Debris from the cave-in knocked Halpert unconscious and caused Verner’s auto-ascender to jam, leaving the pair dangling perilously over a two-hundred foot drop. Fortunately, Verner’s radio was undamaged and he managed to send out a distress call, which was soon answered by relief Space Monitor, Alan Tracy.
Assessing the situation, Jeff Tracy ordered the launching of Thunderbirds 1 and 2. Scott, Virgil and John were soon on their way to the danger zone. Landing on the small island, Scott quickly made contact with Verner and established his mobile control site. After deployed a series of probes to monitor seismic conditions, Scott gave his brothers clearance to unload the Mole from Pod 5. The powerful drilling machine roared into life and proceeded to the co-ordinates Scott indicated.
On full power, the indestructible drill began tearing into the earth and with a blast of exhaust from its fantastic jet propulsion system, it sped deep underground. Under Virgil’s careful guidance, the subterranean craft made its way through layers of rock and soil, as John readied the exploration equipment and medical gear in the rear of the cabin. With a noise like thunder, the Mole cleared the last few feet of rock and emerged into a huge underground cavern. Virgil and John quickly disembarked and began to explore the area, searching for the base of the shaft.
Guided by Verner’s voice, it didn’t take the International Rescue team long to locate the stricken geologists high above them. Donning their climbing gear, Virgil and John began their arduous climb. Scott maintained a constant radio link with both groups, and monitored the seismic readings with intense concentration, knowing that another quake could spell the end for all four of the people in the shaft.
John reached Verner and with utmost care attached a second line to him before cutting the first free. Meanwhile, Virgil was attending to Halpert. While her injuries were not as severe as Verner first thought, she was still unconscious. Swinging out from the relative safety of the shaft wall, Virgil managed to attach a harness to Halpert and then drew her back towards his side of the shaft. Holding her securely, he disengaged her original equipment and he and John began the decent to safety.
With less than thirty feet to go, Scott’s voice broke over the radio warning that another tremor was approaching and seconds later the entire shaft began to quiver. Small rocks and clouds of dust poured down from the top of the shaft, making it difficult for them to see exactly where the handholds and footholds were. Just as they were nearing the ground, an ear-splitting crash sounded high above them and as their boots touched the ground and they looked upward, they saw a huge section of jagged rock falling towards them. John dragged Verner clear and with an enormous effort Virgil, with Halpert in his arms, jumped to safety at the last possible second. The cave was filled with the echoes of a thousand gunshots as the rock fragment splinted into countless pieces and sprayed around them.
Another tremor struck, more violently than first, almost causing Virgil to be knocked off his feet. As they reached the safety of the Mole, a huge crack began to appear in the ceiling of the cavern and with everyone inside the craft, John slammed the hatch shut behind him. With a whoosh of reverse motors, the Mole disappeared back down the tunnel it had emerged from, and not a second too late, for the entire cave collapsed moments later.
On reaching the surface, they discovered a rescue helijet had arrived on Scott’s orders and Virgil and John transferred the two geologists to the care of the medical personnel on board. Assured of their imminent recovery, the International Rescue team boarded their respective craft and blasted off, heading for home.
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