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“Sparks sparks sparking sparks!” Screaming. The sound of feet pounding against concrete. Electricity crackling and popping everywhere, filling the air with the smell of ozone. “You were wrong! Sparks, Sean, you said there would be no Epics! There is clearly an Epic!” Sean gripped his Louisville Slugger tighter, grimacing towards his radio. He very briefly stuck his head above the chunk of building he was taking cover behind, then yelped and frantically ducked back down, just barely dodging the two-foot metal needle that pierced through the air right where his nose used to be. It circled about for a bit, then flew right back the way it came. Sean exhaled in relief. “I sparking noticed, Tommy, thank you very much,” Sean muttered to himself, turning his attention back to ‘his’ team. He activated the transmitter on his radio, broadcasting instructions to them: “Alright. Change of plans. Anne, Harris - on my signal, take what you can carry and run for it. Tommy, you’re with me. Distraction duty.” Affirmative sounds filtered through the speakers, concluded by Tommy’s resigned, “Fine.” Another ionized boom shook the street, closer to him this time, followed by the hoarse over-the-top shouting of the Epic causing it. “Face me! Come, foolish mortals, and face the wrath of Shocksteel!” That wasn’t a terrible name, Sean had to admit (he’d heard of a lot worse), but he really did not have the voice to pull off that threatening bellow. He sounded more like a crow hopped up on drugs than, say, Steelheart. He was dead now, come to think of it. Sparks, it had been more than five months, and he still could barely wrap his head around it. One of the most feared tyrants in North America, a god among - not even men, a god among Epics - dead. Killed, by the Reckoners, a group he’d thought hadn’t even existed before they’d quite publically taken the spotlight. A group consisting only of maples, consistently slaying Epics and getting away with it? It seemed like a fairy tale. Unlikely. And yet, it seemed that these were unlikely times, for the Reckoners did hold Newcago, were holding it, had held it against all comers for months, with no signs of being forced to stop. When Harris had finally managed to convince him it wasn’t a hoax, Sean had felt a spark of hope bursting in his chest, piercing through his hard-earned cynicism. Maybe things will get better, he’d thought. Perhaps the Epics that had oppressed everyone for far too long would start falling, life would return to that semblance of normalcy he treasured so deeply. Perhaps his sister would finally get to go to high school, do normal high school things, without the grim spectre of death looming over her every minute. His hopes had risen even further when Doubletake, one of the city’s major crime lords, had fallen under mysterious circumstances in the following days. Following that, after a period of frantic struggles for territory and more Epic fights than he could remember, he’d heard rumors of a meeting, called by Epoch, between all of the city’s major and minor Epics, which seemed like it could only go poorly. And then, as expected, there’d been some sort of disaster, though he hadn’t the foggiest clue exactly what had happened. What he did know was that every single Epic who’d attended was nowhere to be found, and that meant there were acres of unattended territory, no longer under the yoke of any Epics. Free. The minute he’d confirmed the news, he’d called Notley, asked her for support. He was going to take his little group - it didn’t have a real name, consisting largely of former students and parents - and take back as much of the city as possible before new Epics, and he wanted the help of the former Albertan government in doing so. She’d agreed. And so they’d went. Things had gone well, at first, as he and about a hundred others slowly tread through the eastern end of the city. They’d encountered a couple of minor Epics, but, thankfully, they were nothing that bullets couldn’t handle. There hadn’t even been any casualties. They’d avoided the southeastern end of the city; Pariah had been rampaging there, destroying and murdering wantonly at the time, though it seemed that she’d calmed down nowadays, leading her new faction in the ruins of ERA. And then Moonglow had shown up, and everything had gone to hell. He hadn’t been there personally, but he’d heard from the few survivors that she’d staked a claim, right where they were planning on expanding their territory. She and her ‘Lodge’, had expressed no interest in bowing to the ‘irrelevant mortals’, and had enough powerful Epics to make it happen, causing progress to grind to a halt. Notley pulled out the minute there was any sign of resistance, giving up almost all the territory they’d taken, irking Sean to no end, even if it was the logical choice. He’d heard they were currently combating some new corruption Epic, Depravity, just south of the middle part of the city. And now, he was back to doing what he was doing nine years ago: raiding and pillaging, foraging from abandoned houses for survival, keeping both him and the group alive for just one more day. It was grueling, hopeless. He wasn’t the only one who felt so, given that a couple people had left to join a cult with some slontzy name - the Acolytes, that was it. Still, the remaining people were looking up to him. So he did his job, going out nearly every day, braving desperate maples and dangerous Epics, hoping to find food and water and weaponry and anything else. Earlier that day, Anne had, while scouting, seemingly hit the jackpot. In the cellar of a seemingly-abandoned house, she’d found a large stash of food, weaponry, books, and other stuff. Sean had immediately called everyone in to toss it in the truck and haul it out, only to find that no, the house was not abandoned, and there was, in fact, a very irate Epic living there. Which they were currently fighting. And by fighting, he meant ‘hiding from’. Sean took another peek over his makeshift cover, finding that Shocksteel had turned away from him, crackling metal objects orbiting him lazily. He sighed. Pressed a button on his radio. “NOW!” Charged. What Happened in Edmonton (Reboot!) A new year, a new RP.