Chapter 40

"You have got to be kidding me! More books? Where are you even finding these things?" Nick wailed as Alice walked into the common room with a pile of books bundled in her arms.

"Yeah, that's the appropriate reaction here, bitch about me finding more resources. Don't even pause for a minute to consider helping the lady in need," Alice snapped.

"I'm a proponent of gender equality," Nick shot back. The duo was meeting to work on their group project yet again, though in this case "work" might have been a somewhat loose definition. It more often consisted of Nick finding ways to occupy himself outside of the subject at hand and Alice berating him for it as her method of research avoidance. Neither appeared particularly adept at knuckling down for hard work, but as the due date drew closer, Alice found her stress level rising in proportion, so she was determined they make headway with what time they had left.

"Such a gentleman," Alice mumbled as she set the books down and took her seat. She'd tried to maintain her usual implacably polite demeanor for the first week or so, but something about Nick seemed to render her usual defense inaccessible.

"Hey, you’re the one that campaigned for it; I'm just respecting your wishes."

"If you're granting wishes I'd love for you to pick up a damn book and help me with this. Our presentation is in two more weeks!" Alice said through gritted teeth.

"Yeah, but Halloween is in a week and a half, so shouldn't we really be focusing more on what we're going to do costume-wise?" Nick replied.

Alice took a deep breath. "I've already gotten mine prepared, because unlike you, I plan ahead of time. By that same token, I'd also like to plan ahead for what we're going to say when standing in front of the entire freshman class, presenting the entire life of a superhero we know next to nothing about."

"What's to know? I mean, the guy is pretty infamous as is. He was part of the world's most respected team of Heroes, then one day out of the blue he goes rogue, kills his partner, and gets taken down by the rest of his team. It's one of the most famous stories of any Hero. Do you really think we're going to shed any new light or insight into one of the most speculated-on events of the past century?" Nick asked.

"I think we'd damn sure better try," Alice responded. "We picked this topic, we told Dean Blaine this was the guy we wanted. If we go in there with this report half-assed, it reflects horribly on us. Besides, he can’t be all that infamous. I’ve never heard of him.”

“Tell me you’re joking,” Nick said. “You’ve never heard of Globe the Traitor? He’s, like, the favorite cautionary tale of everyone in the Super community. ‘Don’t grow too full of yourself or you’ll end up like Globe.’ Your parents never told you about him?”

“I was raised with other educational goals. Besides, since until this year it was never even considered that I might one day gain control and become a Super, such cautionary tales would hardly have been necessary. So what happened with him, anyway?” Alice asked.

“I thought you’d been researching him.”

“I have,” she said defensively. “I simply started with his early life, which was oddly difficult to find information on. I haven’t gotten to him joining a team of Heroes yet, let alone betraying them.”

“I can try to fill you in,” Nick said. “You have to understand that not a whole lot is really known about the details, though. It was a pretty big PR mess for the Super community, and I think a lot of the records were sealed and information was hidden away.”

“That might explain why I’m having such trouble finding information about his early life.”

“True point,” Nick agreed. “Anyway, from what I know, Globe was part of a team of Heroes around fifteen years ago, give or take a few. They were really powerful - I mean, out of the five members, two were considered so strong that it was thought they might grow into Armageddon Class.”

“Those are the ones who could actually destroy the world if left unchecked, correct?”

“Bingo,” Nick confirmed. “So Globe was one of those two, and the story is that he got a little too full of himself. He felt like he was doing all of the work and carrying his team. Those feelings snowballed over time, and eventually he decided he didn’t need them anymore.”

“So he quit the team,” Alice surmised.

“That’s one way to put it. Another would be to say that he murdered Intra, one of his teammates, and tried to kill the other three as well before they were eventually able to kill him instead. It was one hell of a resignation letter.”

“That’s awful,” Alice gasped. “He turned on his own team?”

“Even worse, Intra was apparently his best friend. The two of them were partners before they joined up with the other three members,” Nick added.

“It seems odd, though,” Alice remarked. “I mean, I guess I can see growing unhappy with a team, but why not just leave? Why end your relationship in murder?”

“Hence why I said this is one of the most speculated-on events in modern history. It doesn’t really make sense; there must have been some other motivations going on behind the scenes. We don’t know what they were, though, so the whole thing just ends up being one big head-scratching mystery,” Nick said.

“Hmm,” Alice said, the wheels turning in her head. “Maybe we can take an angle of looking at it from the point of view of the rest of the team. My father is well-connected, it’s possible he could pull some strings and line up a few interviews for it.”

“He’d have to be really well connected.”

“Just tell me the name of the other team members,” Alice said, just a twitch too quickly to pass over Nick’s comment nonchalantly.

“We only have their code names, of course,” Nick said. “Even in death the identity of a Hero is protected. If memory serves, though, the other team members were Intra, the one who was killed, as well was Black Hole and Shimmerpath. There was one more, too.”

“We know of two. Is the last one terribly important?” Alice asked.

“Couldn’t hurt,” Nick replied. “Let me think a second. He had something to do with changing the composition of things.”

Alice felt her stomach take a very abrupt and deliberate trip in the southern direction. “You know, Nick, I think we’re fine with just these two-”

“The Alchemist!” Nick declared triumphantly. “The fifth member was a man by the name of The Alchemist. Anyway, after Globe went nuts, the team was disbanded and everyone left alive disappeared from the world of Supers. Think your dad would be able to find them?”

“I’m unfortunately certain of it,” Alice said through gritted teeth. “My father is Charles Adair, but back in his Hero days, he went by the code name of The Alchemist.”

            “Ohhh,” Nick said as understanding seemed to dawn on him. “Awkwaaaard.”