Chapter 306

                It had all gone crazy. A girl with a gun and a stun baton was leaping through the madness, every bullet and blow finding their marks while she effortlessly sidestepped all attempts to hit her back. Some creepy insect creature was prowling the sidelines, dragging off any guard who got too close to the edge. A kid with a weird electronic staff and his friend covered in orange energy were flanking the guards who went after Heroes, splitting their focus and making grunts easier to take down. Whole sections of the battlefield were dropping, seemingly without cause as a madly grinning young woman with a cocky grin stood nearby. Some guards tried to rush her, but between the golden blades and slithering shadows protecting her, no one had made it closer than ten feet in before getting sliced to the ground.  Even the soil itself seemed to be against them, pits were opening up, burying guards to their necks and then sealing back over.

                A flying woman with a spiked chain, a gal who was snapping her fingers and causing explosions, a guy with bone armor leaping around, guards talking about hearing a song and then keeling over, a short woman dropping people with a mere touch… it was insane. They’d known new Heroes might show up, but no one had expected the DVA to be able to get so many powerful ones here so quickly. The tide was turning, yet the guards kept fighting. Death meant rewards for those they loved, and at this point it was either that or life in prison when the dust settled. To the end, they would fight, not for Charles Adair himself, but for the families and loved ones they left behind.

*             *             *

                One good punch to the temple, and the guard who had been firing off explosive charges from his fingertips was down on the ground. Their body armor made Blaine’s job more difficult, but this was hardly the first group he’d fought to use such tricks. It was good stuff, although not nearly on par with the protection his own armor had. Pulling off the helmets was mercifully easy, thanks to the fact that so few Supers ever thought to protect against someone going after it. Once those were off, putting down his enemies was simple, especially as they panicked about being unable to use their abilities. That fear, the sudden sense of uselessness from losing their powers, was one of the many things his students trained hard to overcome. Powers or no, a Hero should never be truly helpless. Too bad for these guards, Charles hadn’t provided the same level of education.

                As Blaine was turning to see who was next, a figure caught his attention. It was a man lacking any armor, sprinting through the battlefield with escape clearly his key intent. Instantly, all interest in the other guards fled Blaine’s mind. Crispin. Crispin was here, alive, out in the open, and was obviously the reason so many of these goons were able to give Heroes a real fight. Crispin, the man who’d attacked Blaine’s campus and killed one of his students, had a shot at freedom, however slender.

                Without pause, Blaine began to give chase, superior strength and fitness making up for the extra weight of his suit. He’d warned Crispin in no uncertain terms what would happen if he left that cell. And if nothing else, Blaine considered himself a man of his word.

*             *             *

                Globe was slowing down. He was easy to track, still floating around the battlefield taking fire, no, drawing fire to keep it off his friends and fellow Heroes. The movements were losing speed though, momentum wearing out. It was incredible that he’d survived this long, a testament to his focus and endurance. But sooner or later, everyone wore out. Globe would be no different.

                Vince didn’t have a plan for what to do when he got there. No sudden inspiration or way to help dawned on him as he ran, leapt, and dodged his way through the madness. Maybe he was trying to get there to fight alongside Globe, or maybe he just wanted to say goodbye. It was a bridge he’d cross when he got there; the one thing Vince knew without question or hesitation was that he had to reach his father. This might very well be the last chance he ever had to see the man in person, and it wasn’t one he would let slip through his fingers.

                A guard stepped into Vince’s path. Blood on the knuckles, deep footsteps left in the grass. Either a strongman taking heavy steps or someone with enhanced density, most likely. Vince played the odds, dodging the guard’s clumsy punch before landing one of his own, nestled against the sternum and pointed upward. The kinetic blast from Vince’s fist sent the guard sailing overhead until he landed in a heap out of sight. Vince didn’t bother to see if he was coming back, there were already more guards in the way, more obstacles trying to bar Vince from his father.

                An unfocused electrical blast dropped two of them, but the third started racing toward Vince. His attack was cut off quickly, however, as a figure clad in bones slammed into the guard, slicing and punching too fast to track. In seconds, the guard was a bleeding heap on the ground and Vince was staring at a familiar face.

                “Chad.”

                He was standing between Vince and Globe. Perhaps a coincidence, although Vince wasn’t too sure of it. Normally, Chad was the most reasonable man in the world. It should have been a simple matter to explain things and get him on the right side. Unfortunately, Chad had lowered his emotional controls earlier in the day, a fact he’d been open about. So it was unnerving, but not surprising, when Vince made out the twisted expression of rage barely visible under Chad’s jutting bones.

                “Chad, it’s not what you think.” Vince still had to try. It was the right thing to do, it was what his father would want. “There’s a lot you don’t know, stuff I just found out. Globe isn’t the bad guy.”

                “Did he still kill Intra?” There was fury burning in those eyes, deep and painful and far past the point of reason.

                Lying was a real temptation, however lying was what had gotten them all here in the first place. “Technically yes, but he was being manipulated. They both were.”

                “It doesn’t matter. He took my dad away from me. He’s the reason I grew up hearing my mom cry through the walls every year on the anniversary of Intra’s death. Globe killed the first Intra. It’s only fair that the new one pay him back for that.” Chad turned from Vince, his eyes on Globe, and started to move.

                Vince blasted off the ground, doing a quick horizontal leap to get in front of Chad. “No. He’s fighting off too many people right now, he can’t deal with someone that might be immune to his power. I won’t let you do this, Chad. You’d be hurting an innocent man.”

                Tension rippled between them, a small island of peace among the dropped bodies and nearby fighting. Finally, Chad took a step back; not to give ground, but to put himself in a proper fighting stance. “Then it seems we are at an impasse, Vince.”

                “I don’t want to fight you.”

                “That’s a wise decision, and will make getting past you much easier,” Chad replied.

                Taking a step of his own, Vince raised his fists and locked eyes with his classmate, fellow dorm resident, and friend. “I don’t want to. Doesn’t mean I won’t, though. I’m truly sorry about what happened to your dad, but I can’t let you hurt mine.”

                “Son of Globe versus the Son of Intra. Well, I can’t say I wasn’t curious. Come on, Vince. Let’s see who really wants this victory more.”