Chapter 179

                “Lastly, filling the final spot, the students have selected Vince Reynolds.” Dean Blaine watched the projected faces of his fellow HCP deans at the announcement, ready for any semblance of pushback. Even if they didn’t know the truth about Globe, these were educators who should realize that the sins of the parents were not their childrens’ to atone for. Still, Dean Blaine had been around long enough to be surprised by people, and he found it useful to be aware of opposition as soon as possible.

                There was only one negative reaction to the news. Dean Jackson frowned at the announcement, his weathered face creasing visibly. “Well, that’s disappointing.”

                “Really? I was sort of hoping I’d get to see the kid with so much hoopla around him,” Dean Fox replied.

                “I’m sure Mr. Reynolds will put on an excellent show, but I was looking forward to seeing what the son of Titan could accomplish. Since I wasn’t selected to train him, I’d at least expected to be able to appraise his skill with my own eyes.” Dean Jackson considered the point for a moment longer. “Then again, I suppose this might be a blessing. If your students had decided to send Titan’s boy, I might have had to give up hope on taking the top position this year. Good thing they didn’t see his potential.”

                “Trust me, Herbert. My kids picked a powerful line-up. I won’t say Roy Daniels wouldn’t have made a fine addition to the team, but the four we’re putting in are already a daunting challenge of their own.” Dean Blaine wasn’t a fan of pointless bragging; however he didn’t see anything wrong with setting realistic expectations.

                Dean Bishop was looking over her notes, carefully logging the students each dean had submitted for Intramurals. “You’re sure the kids made these picks, Blaine? I can’t help but notice that we’ve got the children of two guys from your class, Intra and Globe, the daughter of The Alchemist, and the grandson of Captain Starlight. That’s a lot of Supers with strong pedigrees being put up for the fight.”

                “And every one of them has fought tooth and nail to earn their place,” Dean Blaine said, not an ounce of hesitation in his voice. He’d been prepared for someone to bring this point up, but he wasn’t going to tolerate it for even a moment. The origins of his students were irrelevant; they’d made it to Intramurals with their own strength, not that of their parents’. “Trust me; these kids are a fine representation of Lander. I look forward to showing you that firsthand. And Dean Jackson, if you ever want to see Roy Daniels fight then come to one of the trials. I’m sure he’ll put on a show worth seeing.”

                “If we ever have testing days that don’t overlap, I may take you up on that.” Dean Jackson checked his own pages. “Anyway, with Lander locked in that takes care of the submissions for Intramurals. Next up is the obvious issue we tackle every meeting: security. The DVA has approved funding for all the extra security measures we’ve proposed so far, but we’ve still got no idea what the Sons of Progress are planning, if anything.”

                “Do they even have the structure to still be a threat?” Dean Silva asked. “I thought after Lander the Heroes had more or less decimated their ranks.”

                “In terms of money and influence, they’ve been almost wiped out by all accounts,” Dean Jackson confirmed. “But Crispin is still dangerous on his own. The level of amplification he seems capable of imparting can turn any Super who hates us into a high-level threat. With a handful of zealots he can create a strike force of considerable danger.”

                No one spoke at, or even looked toward, Dean Blaine as Dean Jackson spoke, not that they would have seen anything if they had. He was well-aware of the assessments on Crispin’s power; in fact much of that information had come from Dean Blaine as he helped determine the base-line abilities of the Supers who had attacked his campus. Once Crispin was gone and the effects of his power faded, a team of DVA agents and Heroes had carefully figured out what the invading Supers’ initial abilities had been. Seeing how weak they were compared to what they’d been capable of with augmentation had both terrified and infuriated Dean Blaine. That Crispin could amplify Supers to such a degree, to think of what he could do with that power on a Hero team, it made it all the more appalling that he was using it to hurt people.

                But no matter how much he could amplify, no matter how many Supers he surrounded himself with, it wouldn’t stop Dean Blaine. Every morning before work, he made a trip down to the lowest level of the HCP, where a large wall filled with names resided. He’d look at them all, taking in the sacrifice of those who came ahead of him, before turning to stare at one name in particular. Crispin had killed one of Dean Blaine’s students. For that, and so many other lives lost, he was going to be held accountable. If Blaine had to don the Zero costume and hunt for him in the streets, he would. Some crimes had to be answered for.

                That would come later, however. Once he’d seen things through with the students still counting on him. For now, he had to concern himself with things like Globe, a dream-walker spouting a pretty unbelievable story, and obviously Intramurals.

                “With no army, I doubt Crispin will be crazy enough to try attacking a campus again,” Dean Blaine said. “It’s possible, certainly, but given how well-thought out their first assault was I don’t take Crispin as a man to do things without proper preparation. Your campuses, on the other hand, might be in danger. With the deans gone, it puts any school not hosting at extra risk. We need to mitigate that danger.”

                “We could bring all of our kids to Intramurals,” Dean Bishop suggested. “Every HCP Super on one campus would make for a hell of a tough target to attack.”

                “But if Crispin did come after one of our schools, we’d have left the humans defenseless,” Dean Fox pointed out. “It makes more sense to reach out to some graduates and see if they’re willing to come hang around on campus for a few days. We can make it an event for the students we leave, sort of a consolation prize since they didn’t get to fight at Intramurals, and we’d have the peace of mind from knowing that trained Heroes are on the scene if anything goes wrong.”

                “The DVA would have to give the Heroes clearance to go inactive for that long. Given the public outcry after Lander, though, I doubt we’d have any issue getting them to sign off.” Dean Jackson stared down at his pages, contemplating the proposal. “We could probably also get a few to hang around during Intramurals themselves. I know several will come to watch, but it never hurts to have some on duty just in case.”

                “If the group wishes to get extra protection, I won’t fight it, but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary.” Dean Blaine kept his expression placid and controlled, a habit he was falling back into with increasing regularity. “Between five deans, an audience of Heroes, and the best Supers our classes have to offer, it’s hard to imagine any sort of threat Crispin could pose to the event.”

                Dean Fox let out a soft whistle. “Wow, someone feels like tempting fate today.”

                “I assure you, Wesley, if I thought it would get Crispin in my grasp I would tempt fate at every opportunity.” In spite of his control, Dean Blaine’s hands tightened into fists. “I greatly look forward to the day he and I finally meet face-to-face.”