Chapter 313

                In the utter bedlam of the fight, Vince had managed to slip into the crowd a few times. Tracking Globe as he was carried through chaos was a harder task than keeping watch on a big floating platform, but unfortunately without that platform to draw attention there were suddenly a lot more unoccupied eyes scanning to find him. There was no plan, Vince had long ago past what little amount of forethought he’d put into the situation. He only knew two things at this point: Globe was the best chance he had of getting everyone out safely, and Camille might be the only person present with both the ability and willingness to put Globe back on his feet. Finding her was paramount.

                Risking another jump, Vince went airborne briefly, searching the area for any telltale signs of Camille. A series of downed guards, a white uniform on a small body darting about, Thomas hunched near the ground while another student held his neck. That last one wasn’t hypothetical, it was the exact scene Vince’s gaze fell upon just before his descent began. Wasting no time, he barreled forward, barely dodging a few fists and feeling some unseen attack slice his leg. The wound wasn’t crippling, thankfully, it only felt like it was. Bad as it hurt, it had nothing on living for days with an entire burned body, so Vince was easily able to push the discomfort to the side as he charged for all he was worth.

                Finally, he broke through a pair of guards with a well-placed electrical blast and came to a staggering stop next to Camille and a newly healed Thomas, who was already rubbing his neck where her hands had been. It wasn’t until this exact moment that Vince realized he was nearly out of breath, he’d been in a dead sprint since the moment he grabbed Globe off the platform.

                “Camille… please… heal… him.” Not the elegant explanation detailing the complexities of the situation Vince might have wanted to provide, but to be fair even with lungs full of air he probably wouldn’t have been able to spit everything out.

                Her surprise at seeing him suddenly appear turned to stone-faced resolve as she noticed the man Vince was holding. “That’s Globe, isn’t it? Vince… I’m not sure that’s a smart idea. I know you still see him as a good man, but he is a criminal. All of this, his attack is the one that started it. And he is incredibly dangerous. What you’re asking might even be a crime itself.” Camille paused, looking over to Thomas with an unspoken question, receiving a brief nod as the only reply.

                She leaned down, hand drawing near until it was only inches from Globe’s forehead. “But if being in actual battle last year taught us anything, it’s the importance of trusting and relying on our team, or our class, in this case. So really make sure you know what you’re doing, be positive you’ve thought it through as a Hero, not a son, and then make a call. We trust you, I trust you, just like you trusted me to be open to the idea. Make sure this is the right choice for everyone.”

                A shout went up from nearby, and a large cluster of body-armored people began heading in their direction. Almost at the same time, Camille caught sight of some costumes shifting toward their direction as well. While Vince had done the best job he could in getting Globe away from attention, amongst this many Supers it had always been an impossible task.

                Vince heard them too, but he tried to put the sounds out of mind for the moment. Instead, he focused on Camille’s question: was this really the best thing for all of them? The way Alice broke everything down, it seemed as though Graham DeSoto was open to the idea of Globe not being a villain. If Vince brought Globe to Graham right now, he could turn him over. Once arrested, Globe would no longer have to be afraid of the Heroes, and would only be under threat from guards. The Heroes might even be obligated to get him clear or keep him safe. But that scenario depended on a lot of guesswork, with countless factors that could go wrong. And taking Globe off the field would place the attention of the guards squarely on the Heroes, putting more of them at risk as the fight intensified. Bringing Globe back, however, only added one more Hero to the battlefield. Assuming all of it was true, that Vince hadn’t managed to be duped again and his father really was the man Vince thought, would he actually be enough to make a difference? There was no telling. No matter what he did, Vince was guessing, betting on futures that may or may not come to pass.

                With no way to think his way through this, Vince decided to take the advice of Jeremiah, the Hero he’d chosen to learn under: he got out of his own way and simply listened to his intuition. And on that front, there was no conflict or uncertainty.

                “This is a rough situation. A lot of good people are in danger, and I’m not sure what’s going to get it settled short of massive death. I can’t promise you that this will fix everything, the most I can say is that I think if anyone, anywhere, can get us to a better solution, it’s Globe. I can’t make a case for it, I don’t have the facts to say why. All I can tell you is that whenever he was there in my life, I always knew things would be okay. When he showed up, it was like the world worked the way it was supposed to, if only for a little while. I know that’s crazy, I know its personal affection getting mixed up with tactics, but if I have to bet on what gets us through this, I’d put all I had on this man every single time.”

                “It isn’t crazy, Vince.” Thomas had moved position, he now had his back to them as he faced all of the people converging toward their location. “That’s how people are supposed to feel when they see a Hero arrive on the scene. Camille, I’m not sure how long I can give you. Against this many, I may not last more than a few seconds. So make sure and use those seconds wisely.”

                Clapping his hands together, Thomas summoned a dome of orange energy that wrapped around all of them. He wasn’t Globe, he couldn’t fend off all those attacks for very long, if at all. But he was still fighting to claim the title of Hero, and that meant giving everything he had to what was right. Even if all he had could do nothing more than steal a few extra moments for his friends.

                Not wasting time, Camille put her hand on Globe’s forehead. “He’s got a hell of a concussion, but I’ll heal that last. No sense waking him before he’s ready. I can’t fix the arm, unfortunately. The most I could do would be to heal the wound where it was cut, and that’s if it was fresh. You need someone stronger than me for regeneration.”

                “It’s fine. He’s had one arm for all the time I’ve known him and it’s never slowed him down.” Vince hadn’t even noticed the fake arm fall away when Globe was knocked unconscious, his entire mind had been set on the task of finding Camille.

                The orange dome around them began to shake, and Thomas fell to a knee, hands still glowing and held aloft. When he spoke, it was with gritted teeth and unshakable determination. “They’re not… holding… back.”

                No, they wouldn’t be. The guards didn’t care that Globe was in the care of students, and the Heroes might not even know. They were attacking full-force, because for all they knew he was still a dangerous criminal, one with a staggering amount of power. More attacks came, cracks appearing in the orange dome. They healed quickly, but at a glance it was obvious that Thomas couldn’t keep the pace up much longer. Once that barrier went down, there would be nothing to protect them from the onslaught. Their only hope now was Globe. Since he’d gotten them into this, it only seemed fitting that Vince put his money, or rather his body, where his mouth was.

                “Thomas, open a hole. Just long enough for me to slip through. I’m going to take some of the pressure off you.” Carefully setting Globe’s head down, making sure Camille’s hand never lost contact, Vince rose from the ground.

                Before he could go, Camille grabbed his leg with her free hand. “I know you well enough to realize that nothing I say will stop you from doing something this stupid, so at least be careful out there. Those people aren’t students, and the Heroes might not even know you’re on their side. Healers can do a lot, but we can’t fix death.”

                “I’ll be careful,” Vince assured her. “I’m not charging in blind or putting myself needlessly at risk. We have to hold the line here, otherwise we’re all in serious danger. And I’m not trying to beat everyone, I just have to buy enough time for you to fix Globe. Keep everyone away from a single target.” He smiled, sudden and unexpected despite the dire situation. “At least I’ve gotten to practice it once before.”

                “You aren’t brainwashed this time, though.”

                “Don’t have to be. Last time, Nick showed me an illusion of someone I loved and wanted to protect, but I’ve already got more than one right here.” Taking a deep breath, Vince approached the edge of the orange barrier, giving a quick gesture to Thomas that he was ready.

                “Sooner or later, the world is going to have to learn not to fuck with the people I love. Might as well be today.”