Disclaimer: Gerry Anderson created the boys, and as much as I wish they were mine... they're not. For those not in the know, the title of this fic isn't mine either. It's from the Spiderman tagline "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility."
A/N: Thanks for all the great reviews for my first story! This one's more cheerful, and reviews would cheer me up too :-)
Ruddy flames flicker off low cloud. The air is thick with pumice and ash. Thunderbird Two chokes on it, bucking under me before her engines gasp for breath and reignite. The rescuees down in the hold don't notice the stutter, but Gordon's white-knuckled and a light on my board says Alan's asking for an update. It's lost amidst a sea of amber and red.
"Virgil, get out of here."
I'd already turned my 'Bird's nose skyward before my brother's firm order.
"Scott? Where are you?"
"I need to check that last..."
Lightning flashes from cloud to cloud above the caldera. Scott's words are drowned by static, but the channel clears and I hear the reassuring whine of Thunderbird One's engines.
"I don't know, Scott. One doesn't have the stability for this kind of turbulence. I'd be happier if you were out of there."
I feel Gordon's startled glance.
I trust Scott with my life, with those of others, and with his own. It's a fact so fundamental to my world-view, I rarely even put it into words.
Our other brothers think that implies blind obedience. It doesn't. Sometimes, rarely, I question Scott's decisions, or ask for clarification. And he gives it. The others marvel at that. No one doubts Scott's skill, or ability to see aspects of a rescue that escape the rest of us. Even so, from time to time each of my younger brothers has argued and been pulled up short by an abrupt order, cutting off their objections. There's usually no time for debate.
"I know, but people might still be trapped."
Scott's calm statement acknowledges my warning and dismisses it. The channel closes. Gordon rolls his eyes.
"I still want to know how you do it."
I ignore him, my eyes on the scanner. The volcano's been rumbling for hours. Even with its fury burning the skies around us, the eruption could probably go on for days. Why am I so tense? Gordon's nervous too, talking to distract himself
"I swear, only you can get away with questioning Scott like that. And you don't, not even when we're at home. If I had that kind of superpower, I wouldn't keep quiet. Why don't you use it?"
Maybe it's precisely because I push so seldom that Scott listens when I have something to say. I could point out that even then, our big brother usually turns out to have been right. Whether Scott snaps at me or not, I feel bad delaying a rescue needlessly.
Instead I reel off some old line about great power carrying great responsibility.
"Yeah, right." Gordon settles back, disgruntled.
I don't know what half-glimpsed clue alerts me. My adrenaline spikes, and the fear isn't for my already-climbing 'Bird, my passengers or myself. It's for the silver-grey Thunderbird below me and her pilot.
"Scott! Get up here. Now!"
Gordon stares openly. Scott doesn't question. He kicks Thunderbird One into a screaming ascent. My eyes on my brother's aircraft, I almost miss seeing the volcano explode below us. Then the shockwave hits. By the time I can spare any attention from my controls, Gordon's already on the radio.
"Scott! Answer! Please!"
"Thunderbird One, leveling out. You guys okay?"
"F.A.B." I keep my inflection neutral.
It's all he'll say.
Gordon's white-faced and shaking with adrenaline backwash. He wont question me either, not ever again.
In all my life, I can count the times I've given Scott a direct order on the fingers of one hand. Each time, he's trusted me in return. Nothing else could have pulled Scott out of there in time. Whatever binds us, whatever makes Scott listen when I speak, it saved my brother's life today.
That's power and responsibility enough.