Chapter 189

                Vince grunted and let his head drop heavily to the couch cushion nearby. Alice, Alex, and Camille ignored him, which was fair since they’d all had some moment of collapsing in frustration by now. It went part and parcel with the task they were tackling. Vince was amazed by how hard this was, when it really shouldn’t be. He’d cleared so many seemingly unassailable obstacles to make it this far: being turned from Powered to Super, lasting in the HCP, even being on track to graduate with a real college diploma. So why was a name, of all things, turning out to be such an insurmountable hurdle?

                “Glam? What do you think? That’s a fun one, right? I could do an outfit with lots of color and sparkles, nobody would guess I was a Subtlety Hero in that get-up.” Alice chewed on the end of her pen for a few seconds before sighing and crossing the idea out. Her pad of yellow legal paper was littered with other rejected monikers. With the final semester here, the deadline for picking a Hero name loomed before all of them. Alice knew she needed something powerful, for her if no one else, but so far nothing she’d tried had felt right. “Good name, but not for me.”

                “At least you’ve got open options, everything I could use is copy-righted,” Alex complained, not for the first time that day.

                “You don’t have to put something Jedi-related into your Hero name, you know.” Camille’s voice was firmer than usual, possibly because Alex seemed to have not heard her any of the other times she’d raised the point.

                “But then it wouldn’t be… me.” With a resigned look in his eyes, Alex turned back to his own pad of paper, occasionally glancing over to a tablet where he’d pulled up an expanse of tabs on Jedi and all things related to them. It was a search that would probably end without success, and everyone in the room knew that, yet he had to try all the same.

                After a few moments of silence, Vince rose from the cushions to start puzzling over new name ideas once more. So far the only one he hadn’t entirely crossed off was Energy Taker Lad, the name he’d hastily taken during the attack on Lander. It was plainly ridiculous, but at least it had some personal meaning to him. It harkened back to the first time he’d really been in the field and reminded him of the kind of choices he’d have to make as a Hero. Still, it was so stupid, there was no way he could actually use it. Unless he failed to think of something better.

                “We need something that encapsulates us, if not our ability,” Camille said. It was advice they’d all gotten from their professors at one point or another, and no one was entirely sure how many times it had been repeated today. Sadly, the concept was easier articulated than executed. “How does a freaking name encapsulate who we are? I know it’s only supposed to be one piece, I’m just not sure how people can drill down and find a single phrase to capture that.”

                “I think it’s not supposed to be about us, but rather about what kind of Hero we want to be.” Alex was looking up from his tablet for the moment; though it was anyone’s guess how long until he fell down the digital rabbit hole once more. “Aside from the ones with power-based names, that’s the trend I see most often with famous Heroes. Take Titan, he picked his name after the unstoppable legends of old, because that’s the image he wanted to project. I think if we’re straying away from a name that depicts our abilities then it needs to be something meaningful to us. Something that reminds us what we’re fighting for, even when things get rough.”

                “Lovely sentiment,” Alice said. “Has that led you to any sudden bouts of inspiration?”

                “Not a one,” Alex admitted, turning back to his tablet.

                Alice ruminated on the thought for a while longer, even when silence fell once more. A name that depicted what they were fighting for, what sort of Hero they wanted to be. What type of mark they wanted to leave behind on the world when they were gone. Slowly, her hand began to trace new letters on the yellow page, one after another until a familiar word was staring back at her. In that instant, she knew she’d found it. Carefully, she tore off the sheet, folded it neatly and stuffed it into her pocket.

                “Looks like someone had a little inspiration.” Camille was staring at her from across the room, a touch of jealousy plain on her face. “Going to tell us what you just wrote down?”

                “Absolutely. Once I’ve checked the databases to make sure it’s unclaimed. If I talk about it, I’m going to fall in love with it, and that can’t happen until I know the name will actually be mine. I shouldn’t be too long.” Alice grabbed her coat from Melbrook’s hall closet and headed for the door. “Good luck with the planning session. Think over what Alex said a little more, it’s where I got my idea.”

                Then she was out the door, no doubt heading to the nearest HCP entrance. Vince let out a low, long groan. Happy as he was for his friend, it made the situation feel all the more dire as more of his peers seemed to find their proper titles. Part of him, a part he could never say aloud and barely trusted himself to think, wished he could do what Chad had done and take over his father’s name. That was never going to happen though. Even if it were available, which it wasn’t, the name was too tainted to ever be worn by another Hero. Especially one of the first Heroes who used to be Powered.

                “Maybe we should try something different.” Camille had set her pen down and was looking over to Vince and Alex. “We’re too in our own heads right now, we might not even know a good idea if we heard it. Let’s try thinking of something other than ourselves. Alex, what would you name Vince? Don’t overthink it; just toss out an idea of what you think would be a fitting name.”

                “I don’t know, my instinct is to say something related to his ability. Maybe Pickpocket, or Powerpocket? Powerpicker? Okay, these are just getting worse aren’t they?”

                “There was a downward slide, but that’s fine. We’re just tossing things out, it doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad,” Camille assured him. “Vince, what would you call me?”

                Vince didn’t reply immediately, instead he considered the question before choosing an answer. “Something like Life Support feels close to right, since you both support your team and keep them alive, but it doesn’t really capture the duality of your abilities. Karma isn’t too far off the mark, but there’s no way that’s not taken already, right?”

                “Couldn’t hurt to check.” Camille took a quick note down on her pad before setting it to the side once more. “Alex, as for you, I’d either go with a name that’s a nod to your situation, like Knockoff, or a word too widely used to copyright that still has meaning for you. As long as you don’t put a ‘the’ in front couldn’t you just use the word Force?”

                “It’s… possible.” Alex scribbled a few notes down in sloppy script. “I might need another qualifier in front of it, but you might be onto something. No one would know what it meant though.”

                “You would,” Vince told him. “You just have to figure out if that’s enough.”

                “We’ll keep brainstorming, but it’s not the worst idea to get some outside suggestions from people we trust.” Camille glanced to Vince and gave him a wink. “Unless Vince is really smitten with Energy Taker Lad and is just pretending to put on a show of looking for a new name.”

                Hearing the moniker come out her mouth cemented Vince’s resolve: one way or another he was going to find the right name. That, or open a dictionary and throw a dart at a page, literally anything was better than Energy Taker Lad.