Chapter 226

               Charles Adair stomped through his spacious hallways, weary from the day’s meetings yet preoccupied with all the work that remained to be done. The click of his fine shoes echoed against the marble floor, and he pushed the door to his office open unceremoniously. Though much of his staff and security was still present, they were instructed to leave him be during the later hours, which allowed him to indulge in the illusion that he was actually alone. It was a helpful fantasy when he had so much work stretched out before him. Anything that cut down on distractions was beneficial.

            Unfortunately, Charles had no more sat down in his high-back chair than that illusion of solitude was shattered. The door to his office slammed close, though not so much as a whisper of sound came from the shutting. An instant later there was a shimmer in the corner of the room and suddenly a man was there. Or rather, the man who had been waiting for Charles was suddenly visible.

            “Hey Chuck. It’s been a while.” He looked much the same as he had when Charles last laid eyes upon him. Same dark hair, same wide jaw, even a bit of the old humor still twinkled in his eyes. That was nice to see, Charles had dreaded the day those eyes finally went dark like so many others had. The left arm was new, though from the way it was covered there seemed a good chance he hadn’t managed to find someone who could regenerate it.

            “Phillip… I must say this is a surprise, and I am not an easy man to take by surprise.” Charles reached under the desk and rested his finger on a silent alarm. It stayed there, a twitch from pressing it, but not yet activated. While Phil might have come to kill him, he surely would have done it sooner if that were his intent. Which meant there was likely another reason for the visit. “Dare I ask what brings you to my home today? I’m hoping it’s not torture and murder.”

            “You know I can’t kill you, Chuck. Not even after everything that’s happened. And why would I bother torturing you? We’re both fully aware that you purposely hid the lab’s location from yourself specifically so you couldn’t give it away.” The mighty villain Globe stepped away from the corner of the room and took a seat in one of the chairs reserved for Charles Adair’s guests. “I’m here about our kids.”

            “Are you now?” The finger moved just a touch closer to the alarm, though Charles wore a curious mask on his face.

            “Someone is gathering Sons of Progress, the militant group that believes Supers should rule over humans. I don’t know why, but I do know the person doing it is staying only a few miles from Lander Campus and seems to have a grudge against one of the former students. They’re on standby, waiting for a call to jump on a job. Maybe it’s nothing and I’m being paranoid, but that seems like too many coincidences to ignore.”

            “What do you think they’re going to do? Attack Lander? There’s no Super in the world stupid enough to go after an HCP school. Even if the professors weren’t all veteran warriors, within minutes they’d have teleported in Heroes from across the nation to fend off the attack. It would be the world’s most fruitless suicide mission.”

            “Yet I can’t stop worrying. And worse, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t even properly warn the staff, since they’d be forced to try and arrest me on the spot. That’s why I’m coming to you.”

            Charles eased his hand slowly away from the alarm. In truth, it wouldn’t have done much anyway, except perhaps spook his unexpected guest away. They were in the sphere of Globe’s control, and that meant he was the uncontested master of this realm. Yet he’d only come because he was worried about Vince, and likely the other innocents on the grounds. Charles would readily admit that he was not the world’s best father, but he was still a father. Not even he could rightly turn away a man bringing evidence that his daughter might be in peril.

            “I’ll station some private forces off campus, ready to respond in the event anything unexpected should occur. You’ll understand if I’m hesitant to tell them that Globe traipsed into my office and gave me a warning about domestic terrorist activities though.”

            “At least tell Blake,” Phil replied. “I assume your lackey knows the real score. I’ll sleep better knowing even one of the professors will be on guard.”

            “Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but between Emerald Hydra being on staff and the DVA having ample telepaths on campus it’s hardly a place where secrets can be easily kept at the moment, even for someone with his training.”

            “Come on now Charles, we both know Blake is good enough at marshaling his thoughts to keep at least one big secret. Add another onto the pile. For Alice’s sake, if no one else’s.”

            “I’ll consider it. For now, trust that I’ll have enough forces on hand to put down a small country’s rebellion, let alone deal with some Super criminals looking to cause trouble.”

            “Thank you.” Phil rose from his seat and paused, looking his former teammate over thoroughly. “Not just for this. For not going after Vince, even once you found out he was my son.”

            “Vince Reynolds has nothing to do with what lies between you and I,” Charles said. Of course, it certainly helped that Vince was one of the Powered prototypes, and Charles Adair had a very vested interest in making sure that all five of them lived. “Besides, you never once tried to make a move on Alice as a bargaining chip. The least I could do was return the favor.”

            “What would have been the point? You know I could never hurt a child just to get to you. Especially not her.”

            “True. All the same, I’m glad you didn’t try to bluff.”

            “Have no fear, Chuck.” Phil’s face darkened, and for a moment that every-present light in his eyes seemed to vanish. “When I come after you, there won’t be any bluffing needed, and I damned sure won’t be using children as pawns.”

            “I believe you, just as you should believe that I’ll be waiting and ready.”

            “I wouldn’t have you any other way,” Phil said. The door re-opened and he spun around, red cloak fluttering behind him, and vanishing in the same shimmer that had concealed him before. It was a simple matter of warping the light that Charles had witnessed him using countless times before.

            After all, no one knew Globe better than Charles Adair.