Comatose

What Happened in Edmonton

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He had a dowser?  Even sparking Steelheart didn’t have one of those!  She tried to stay calm. What did she know about dowsers?  They could detect an Epic, they were exceedingly rare… Didn’t they display abilities too?  Jacklyn wasn’t sure. Probably not, she decided, but if this Epic was bluffing, he wouldn’t know that, and if he wasn’t, it would be a reasonable mistake.   “Doesn’t the dowser display the Epic’s power as well?” The prisoner tried to sound like a blend between innocent and skeptical, which her power let her pull off wonderfully.  That was one of the only ways her power was actually useful, as opposed to harmful, like it had been earlier.  Jacklyn picked up a drink and sipped it. She more control over the situation now. The small piece of her that was buried beneath caution and fear was actually starting to enjoy this.

Edited by The Young Pyromancer
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“Doesn’t the dowser display the Epic’s power as well?”

"Um. Touché," Finley answered, letting out a bark of a laugh. "I'm pretty sure they don't, for the record, but what would I know?"

If she had continued to affect harmlessness, he would have started to get worried. The dissonance with her original reply was not lost on him, though. He paused, considering for a moment. His power affecting the headquarters made pauses like that somewhat harder to notice.

"That answers my question, in a roundabout way," he noted. "Another evidence that you are an epic, or otherwise intimately connected to epics. I can live without the details, for the time being. You seemed more eager to share about the red epic. Tell me about her."

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This Epic, unlike most Jacklyn had interacted with, seemed to appreciate her standing up for herself.  She had gambled that he would to some extent.  Maybe it was just because he thought she was powerful, but she would have to go along with it, even if all her post-Calamity instincts were screaming at her to do otherwise.  What did she know about the woman in red?  Jacklyn couldn’t tell Epoch the truth, because he seemed to think she was powerful, and no one powerful would run away from someone begging to be their slave.  Maybe if she told him about the woman, but not their meeting…

     “Before today, I’d never met her.  She must have been an Epic of some sort, as she bore scars that no Maple could survive.  She carried a knife. Most interestingly, she was able to detect that I was an Epic as well.  Oh, and she’s probably insane.”  Jacklyn spoke in a self-confident, assured tone, even though her emotions told a different story.  Great, she thought, Steelheart becomes Superman, and I get a makeover and bluffing skills.  She had to admit that she executed the flippant remark at the end rather authentically though.

Edited by The Young Pyromancer
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“Before today, I’d never met her. She must have been an Epic of some sort, as she bore scars that no Maple could survive. She carried a knife. Most interestingly, she was able to detect that I was an Epic as well. Oh, and she’s probably insane.”

"Interesting," Finley mused. "Thank you for conclusively verifying that you are an epic, by the way. So you are saying that you've never seen her before? What about the third epic?"

The description of scars suggested a healing factor, in addition to some kind of perception ability. He would feel much, much better when the checkpoint situation was completely resolved. Epoch's mobile beeped, announcing a second incoming call. Phytomagnet.

"One moment."

An inconvenient time to call, but it could be important. Casually, he tugged on the flow of time in the penitentiary, slowing things down so Jacklyn would likely only experience two or three seconds of mild tunnel-vision as she skipped over the delay. Then he switched over to the incoming call.

"Yes, Phytomagnet?"

"So, uh. Those criminals you had me after... One of them was an epic, some kind of mentalist power. They've escaped. I sent a few trackers after them, but I doubt they'll find anything."

"I see," Epoch answered, carefully keeping the disapproval from showing in his voice. He would need more information, to determine the target of his disapproval.

"A mentalism epic? Send me the details as soon as you are no longer in pursuit. If that is all, we may discuss this more later."

He hung up, switching back to Jacklyn, and canceling the time zone over the penitentiary.

"There. Now, we were discussing the other epics?"

Edited by Drake Marshall
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Jacklyn was thrown off her stride by Epoch's comment.  Her facade momentarily slipped.

"What Epic?"

Edited by The Young Pyromancer
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Megan Pierce stumbled along the side of the road, pulling a stray twig from her hair. She combed her fingers through the tangle that had started, struggling to restore her blonde hair to its normal state.

After a minute she gave up, it hadn't been a good day for keeping up appearances, even if she fixed one tangle there were probably 20 more she hadn't seen. Walking along the side of the road for 12 hours straight was not a good way to keep your hair in order.

The car she'd been using had broken down a day ago and the lack of traffic along the road had meant no hitchhiking opportunities had arisen. And that meant walking. Far too much walking. Though from the looks of things she'd be in the city soon. But 'soon' was relative, it'd still be another hour of walking at least, probably more. 

"Olympia Polaris." She said as she trudged, lifting her head to look at the city. "Dumb name. Wonder who thought of it?"

Hopefully the ones who ran this place were better than the ones who'd run the Dalles and she could get a shower and a bed without too much of a struggle. And after that, she could start searching. She wasn't sure if Allison would be here or in another city, Calgary maybe. But it seemed that a number of other refugees from Oregon had headed in this direction so it might be a good place to start at least.

A low sound from behind startled her out of her reverie, a red van chugged its way up the road, heading along the same road she was.

Nervously, she stuck out a hand and lifted her thumb. She hoped they wouldn't try anything. Handsy guys were the worst.

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Impact's vision finally began to clear again, eddies in the smoke around her becoming slightly more visible. But it was still just vague shapes, not anything she could see clearly.

If that Slontze damaged my retina then I'm going to rip his eyes out and set them on fire. See how he likes it.

Still, she managed to keep the calm, arrogant expression of a High Epic. Convinced that nothing that any lower creature could do would bring any harm to it.

A loud crack burst through the air, a short distance away and off to one side. She barely even felt the bullet as it ricocheted off, just a slight push of her clothes against her skin. Her smile became slightly more natural when she noticed. An Epic who needed a gun to do their killing was barely worth calling an Epic at all.

She turned slowly towards the source, she wasn't sure if it was the smoke that made it hard for her to see the figure that shot her or if her vision was still too impaired but she didn't catch sight of anything that looked like a person.

As she turned a wave of dizziness came over her, slightly disorienting her motion.

Sparks. The medication? No I haven't even taken any today, haven't needed it in a while.

She shook her head to try and clear it, but even her muscles felt sluggish, straining to move.

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“Calm down! She didn’t know anything about you other than what I told her. She made an assumption, albeit an incorrect one. You are my friend.” The tear vanished and their heart popped back together. Sunshine glowed around them, heart warmed by the touching words. They barely heard him mutter something, though his reaction indicated he was exasperated. “Either way, the first thing to do is start driving around.” 

Kokichi wondered if they realized how easy it would be for them to take out the guy if they got into range. Like, all they’d really need was a bad yo mama joke and he might as well just drop dead from the insult. Literally. 

They didn’t remind/inform Liam of this fact. A full on adventure sounded fun, after all. Fetch quest time? Fetch quest time. 

As they drove out down the street, Kokichi spotted a girl on the side. Her blond hair was a total disaster, and she looked exhausted. She stuck out her thumb in a “please help me” gesture. The girl should’ve been boring, but something was standing out. She was more than just another refugee, but Kokichi couldn’t quite put their finger on what that was. 

“Stop the car,” Kokichi said and the van slid to the side of the road before Liam could respond. A dramatic dust cloud rose up, concealing them as they stepped out of the car. Despite their actually rather small stature, they towered over her as they offered their had. They were the picture of a bold adventurer, as roses framed their face, nonexistent wind blew their purple hair back, and a golden glow illuminated them. “Hi! Who are you?” 

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((OOC: On phone, so will format properly later))

8OuS2d9KH_r3gsbWH0vK-VLPaS2TF4UYG3mEkQDiKi9XGlmh9s_CvheiQpzSjaRDHkQFhEu9BHL7CpesSobEWvx2jPY6AiNddUGFT7wlPr8YmOZTVH7M24WmRHIq39SaLGFEqqzl

"I see," Epoch answered flatly. "A mentalism epic? Send me the details as soon as you are no longer in pursuit. If that is all, we may discuss this more later."

"Yes--" *click* "--Sir..."

Turning back, Phytomagnet could see that his troops were already dispersing, with only Ironwood and a token guard left.

"Let's go. With how long we've been gone thanks to the time delay, something is going to need fixing." Meanwhile, he added mentally. I've got to figure out who that epic was. 

"Sure thing boss," Ironwood chimed. "Ethan, let's go."

30 minutes later (~13 minutes normal time)

"...THE CROP IS INFESTED WITH WHAT?!?!" Phytomagnet bellowed.

"Th-thlugs, thir. And thalt doethn't theem to thtop them," the gardener stammered, cowering. "Pleathe don't kill me, thir!"

"Bah." As if on cue, a branch sprouted from his chest, spraying the other gardeners with blood.

"Remove the body. And figure out a way to kill the slugs. We've got a deadline to meet," Phytomagnet said with a glare for the remaining workers.

"Y-yes sir!" they shouted, scattering.

Shaking his head, he turned to the accountants--an unfortunate, but necessary, evil. "How short on stock will this leave us?"

They saluted. "Our locally stored supplies will drop by just over 5%--while several fields are almost dead, the infestation was caught quickly enough for a quarantine to be--"

"Why was I just informed of this?" Phyto interjected. "There's no way this just started."

"No sir, it didn't," one of the maples replied. "But slugs and other pests have appeared before, and traditional preventive measures have always worked." Their voice trembled. "We only brought this to your notice because the salt didn't work."

"Find something else to kill the slugs then," he grumbled. "And if need be, we can raze those fields and replant."

"Understood, sir."

"Dismissed."

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Your observations are interesting, at the least, and I believe they hold done real merit, but cannot join you. There is, however, a matter that I believe we can agree on, which should be of help to both of us if we can cooperate.

Please realize, before I continue, that a time will come when we will be, of necessity, enemies.

But for now, we have at least one common interest: An Epic named Bloodlight. As far as humans go, there are certainly more despicable beings than he, but his unique powers grant you an easy catalyst. Some revolutions need martyrs, but yours need something greater, closer. Your vendetta against humanity is clear, but many people are simply too human to rally behind it. These need an immediate common enemy.

Bloodlight possesses a quasi-temporal power that allows him to kill a person hundreds of times in as many seconds. I believe this is exactly the kind of power you can claim is an inherent danger to the community of Olympia Polaris, especially given your highly persuasive nature.

What I propose is this: Warn the people of Bloodlight's coming, prepare them against him. When Nate Snyder reaches the city, he ought to be hated so thoroughly that his immediate danger will force him to reveal himself. You’ll get more followers and a display of what they can do, and I’ll get a gain significant enough for quick backup from Karabiner, which will make Bloodlight much easier to neutralize and find. After that, this city will be rid of two or three Epics you don’t really want around, and well all be satisfied or dead.

With all in mind,

Arachnerd.

Arachnerd lifted her pen, cracking her aching knuckles. It was a shame, really, that spiders were so illiterate, or she’d have simply told one of hers to write this letter.

She didn’t really need his help at all, and would have no difficult tracking Nate down when he reached Olympia Polaris. It might not even have fine to tracking if her Spyders served correctly, but she didn’t want him as am enemy, and a useless ally never killed anyone. Well, it had, but not her.

Come. She sent the command to her more capable nearby servents, two of whom were bigger than her hand. She was answered by twenty-seven spiders, climbing across her webs touch her hand. She dropped the letter. Catch and secure.

The two largest arachnids stretched their forelegs up to catch the fallen letter, one pushing it intro the other’s back, where several of the others – black widows could survive so far north in their own, but her power sustained them – secured it in a quickly-spun envelope of spider silk. It was shoddy, but it would hold for her proposes.

“Take it to Armageddon, and stay out of sight,” she told the bigger, hairy spiders, one of whom now carried the letter on its back. They crawled away, bearing her message safely – albeit slowly – to the Epic named Armageddon.

Once outside of her range, she couldn’t feel them anymore. They would still follow her order, unless some other Epic specifically interfered with their minds.

She felt her eyelids drooping. Coffee, she thought. I need coffee.

Arachnerd the Blackweb released herself from the clutches of the great Webyrinth, sliding down to the ground. Purse, she ordered. A squadron of eight-legged acrobats skittered down a web toward her outstretched hand, where they deposited her purse. Its stitching immediately turned an unnatural black, accenting its white leather like her hair did for her face, creating a stark and awesome contrast that she greatly appreciated.

Arachnerd walked about, Spyders 1-4 doing their best to find her a coffee shop. She really needed to make a decent map of the place sometime, or find one, because her Spyders could only do so much, and she needed them watching for Nate. In addition to her guides, she could see some sped up communications people in ERA headquarters, though her feed from Spyder 7, who was watching it, was kind of weird to watch, and sound was all too high pitched for her tired mind to handle just then.

She checked on Spyders 5 and 6, who she had assigned to some unidentified Epics 5 had seen fighting some Alberan Government police officers for an unknown cause. All she could really see from 5 was an obnoxious pile of glowing green hair from that... strange young Epic. 6, however...

Suddenly, Arachnerd saw herself. Over the shoulder of a younger man with long dark hair, she could see the back of her head.

“Sparks!” She cursed,whipping around to face the silent surprise of an Epic. Sure enough, there was the thermal Epic from the skirmish, bandaged leg and all. 

The thermal Epic jumped visibly at her sudden, seemingly unwarranted turn and exclamation, and Arachnerd realized that he hadn’t actually been silent at all. She could hear breath from two directions now, so she must have just been too tired to notice with her own ears. It was certainly a good thing she had trained herself to react quickly to seeing herself in Spyder vision, or she would have been at a severe disadvantage.

“Who are you and why are you right sparking there?!”

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With the broom as a crutch and a cane, Riley made slow progress. Soon, he came to the perimeter fence of the refinery, which he melted through. It was only chain link, and rather weak. It slowed him down, however.

Trudging through the suburbs of Olympia Polaris was like a daze. Ever since Calamity, since the feds, the Albertan Government had shut down Sherwood Park, he had never set foot outside. Oh, how he had craved to, and now it had finally happened. It didn’t make it feel any more real.

The land was flat, and everywhere he looked were neat residences and streetside retailers, like his home town. Unlike Sherwood Park though, these houses were sparsely populated. Most sat desolate and unkept, with weedy yards and dilapidated roofs. The scars of looters marked many, even the ones that bore hints of residents. Few vehicles roamed the streets, but now and then a heavily-tinted van would rush by. He walked for about an hour, crossing streets and cutting through yards. He had no destination.

His armpit was sore from the blunt broom end, and his feet and legs were aching. Beads of sweat shone on his forehead. Weary, he settled down on the curb and laid the broom beside him. Sparks, Riley thought. All alone in my “land of promise” and with a sparking bloody leg! He pounded a fist on his knee and winced from the pain. Sparking leg.

He glanced around the vacant—no, not quite vacant street. There was a woman across the way, her back turned. She had quite an interesting clothing style: starkly white and black outfit, hair tied in a bun, the whole of it reminded Riley of the “geeky” girls in school. The ones who took that bookworm aesthetic and ran with it.

Maybe he would have noticed something off about her if he had noticed the nearly imperceptible shifting of the blinds on the house the woman was in front of, the anxious eyes glancing through the crack, disappearing just as quickly as they appeared. Maybe if he had noticed that she was unusually alone on this street, out where she might fall prey to more unsavory types. If he had noticed the confident way she stood, maybe he would have been warier.

But Riley didn’t notice any of those things.  

Suddenly, she spun around, so rapidly her wide round glasses nearly slipped off her nose. “Sparks!” She exclaimed, causing Riley to start. She seemed more startled than angry that he was there. Struggling to regain her composure, she took a step closer.

“Who are you and why are you right sparking there?!”

Riley was taken aback by the outburst, leaving both of them a bit flustered. Instinctively, he reached forward and placed his palm on the dark asphalt, drawing the heat from it. He hesitated in that bent position for a second, then pushed up, acting as if he was just trying to stand.

The heat pulsing in him, the pain in his leg made his eyes slightly wild. He cracked a smile as he regarded the woman—or young woman, after seeing her face—and spoke. “Call me Riley, if you like. I’m here because I just walked a long sparking way and decided to take a rest. Why are you here? And don’t be rude, introduce yourself.”

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The van skidded to a halt a second after it passed, throwing up dust somehow in-spite of the fact that the road was asphalt. She lowered a hand that she'd started raising towards it, thankfully not needing to stop it herself.

From the passenger side a figure stepped out, completely obscured by the large cloud of dust until an opportune gust of wind started blowing it away. The figure that was revealed was wearing the most eye-watering array of vibrant colours that she'd seen since Doctor Funtimes, a hoodie of a light, almost neon blue, a somehow natural looking purple hair and bright orange crocs.

Well that's either an Epic, or someone who's very quickly going to be killed by an Epic. Megan thought as the figure approached.

The... boy? girl? She couldn't place a gender to the figure as it approached, reaching out a hand to her.

A backdrop of roses appeared behind them as their hair continued moving to a non-existent breeze and their features seemed to almost glow.

Epic it is then. She looked cautiously towards the figure as they spoke.

“Hi! Who are you?”

She found herself suddenly overcome with a compulsion to fidget and avoid meeting their eyes as she gave a half-truth.

"Uh... M-M-Mega- I mean Melanie. I'm just. Um... just trying to get to the city."

Her feet shifted as she looked down, not sure why she was suddenly acting like the worlds most obvious liar.

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The girl was nervous and more than a little bit awkward. Her eyes were sky blue, but they had to struggle to catch a glimpse of them. She wore a pale peach sweater over a warm brown t-shirt with a print, along with a jade green skirt. Beneath the mix of dirt and twigs, she looked uninjured. 

Another Epic? She didn’t seem to have the same sort of swagger both Kokichi and other Epics had, but she was obviously pretty tough. Otherwise she’d be covered in tons of scars, or, at the very least, wrinkles caused by stress. Though she was shy, she didn’t seem to be scared of them.

Then again, Kokichi wasn’t exactly an intimidating figure what with their all over the place attitude and crazy rainbow colors. Nothing like Nighthound (RIP), Steelheart (Also RIP), or even Crimson (Ditto). Those guys were super intimidating. And super dead. They’d made tons of enemies.

“Uh...” she stalled, taking them in. “M-M-Mega- I mean, Melanie. I’m just. Um... just trying to get to the city.” Mega, but then Melanie? Maybe a new nickname. She was staring at her feet, which were covered in rather decent looking shoes. 

“Rad, so are we! I’m Kokichi, the drifting nonbinary agent of chaos probably feared across the land, and that guy is Liam. We’re besties. Wanna be my bestie too?” They didn’t mention the whole ‘murder mission’ dealio because honestly, asking a stranger to go kill someone with them right off the back would be rude. 

That came after sharing tragic backstories. Speaking of which, they’d never gotten the full story from Liam. Maybe they’d get to see to it in full after Mega Melanie the Potential Third Bestie shared. If she accepted, anyway. But she probably would cuz she looked cool, and Kokichi wanted her to.

They/them pronouns only popped up next to their head again, along with a message informing her that they weren’t actually feared anywhere. (Which was sorta a complete and total lie, but it was a funny one. Stories of past murder came after murderifying someone for your besties. Not in the beginning.) An arrow pointed at Liam labeling him Liam. 

They spotted a butterfly out of the corner of their eyes. It was orange and black. A monarch, reminded a distant memory. They pushed the thought away, to the back corner of their mind. Something else, something else...

Right. Murder quest. Murder quests were fun. 

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“Stop the car,” Kokichi said, and before Liam could respond, the van moved of its own volition. With an abrupt swerve, it pulled over to the side of the road in a dramatic cloud of dust that billowed up around the vehicle, mostly obscuring it. Liam turned to Kokichi, but they had already hopped out.

Liam sighed. There wasn’t much he could do about this now, so he climbed out as well. He only caught the end of their conversation. “M-M-Mega—I mean, Melanie. I’m just. Um… just trying to get to the city.”

That’s when Liam noticed the girl standing in front of Kokichi, dirty and weary. Melanie? The name echoed in his head, bringing back painful memories a decade old. He caught himself staring, and promptly looked away. Her hair was too blond to be Melanie, and she was too young as well. It’s not Melanie.

His own name broke him from his reverie. “—and that guy is Liam,” Kokichi was saying, “We’re besties. Want to be my bestie too?” As before, little floating cues hovered around Kokichi as they spoke, but Liam didn’t pay attention to them. His focus was on the newcomer. Though dirty and worn, there was something in her eyes. He couldn’t quite place his finger on it, but there was an… aura? Around this girl. There were things that she wasn’t letting on.

Liam took the opportunity step forward. “Hold on a moment, Kokichi. I’d like to know more about you… Melanie, if you are going to be joining us. Something more than your name and destination.”

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The two figures both were both introduced, assisted to some degree by floating subtextual reminders which it now seemed were being caused by the initial person she'd met, Kokichi. Megan struggled to regain control over herself, resisting whatever strange compulsion had caused her to stumble over her words like that.

“Hold on a moment, Kokichi. I’d like to know more about you… Melanie, if you are going to be joining us. Something more than your name and destination.”

Well I guess it was a bit of a long shot that anyone would believe that terrible of a lie.

She smiled hesitantly towards Kokichi, struggling to think of what to say, then awkwardly turned to face the other man, Liam. If they were both Epics and they thought she was just some regular girl then things probably wouldn't end very well. But they didn't exactly seem like normal Epics, what if they were one of those groups who went around trying to kill Epics? Wrekingers or whatever they were called. But in the end, she decided that truth was probably best, or at least some parts of it.

"Sorry, my name's actually Megan, I just wasn't sure if I should give it to someone I just met. I'm trying to find someone, my sister. Last she was seen it was heading into Alberta somewhere and Edmonton seemed like an easier place to start looking. Have you seen her? Or heard anything about her? She looks just like me, or well she did anyway."


She hesitated for a moment, she'd know if anything had happened to Allison probably but that didn't help in finding her. What if she was laying low? Not coming out or being seen? Would she be able to find her again? Be able to be together again?

A small stream of tears began trickling out of her eyes, her hair suddenly seemed to have become clean and untangled and the tears glittered with an unnatural sparkle when they fell.

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Liam interrupted as he stepped out of the van before Mega-Melanie actually responded. Which was pretty rude. “Hold on a moment, Kokichi. I’d like to know more about you… Melanie, if you are going to be joining us. Something more than your name and destination.”

They shot him an annoyed glare and were about to explain what he was doing wrong, but she didn’t seem to mind, responding to the interrogation positively. She smiled at Kokichi, nervously, but optimistically. They could see the gears ticking in her head, literally.

As she came to a hesitant conclusion, the dirt fell off of her, vanishing into the void, while her hair returned to what they assumed was normal. Sometimes their powers did strange things.

Without thinking about it, they combed their fingers through their hair like he’d done once, color fading ever so slightly at the ghostly touch. Once they realized what they were doing, they quickly shoved their hands in their pockets.

Quickly, but not too quickly. Speedy enough to be quirky, not unusual. Not scared. They did such a good job at acting like the gesture was a routine quirk, they convinced themselves. 

Probably.

“Sorry, my name's actually Megan,” she said. That didn’t feel like a lie and it made sense. Mega-Melanie was a very strange name, after all. “I just wasn't sure if I should give it to someone I just met. I'm trying to find someone, my sister. Last she was seen it was heading into Alberta somewhere and Edmonton seemed like an easier place to start looking. Have you seen her? Or heard anything about her? She looks just like me, or well she did anyway."

Crystal tears dripped from her blue eyes one curling down her cheek before falling off. It shone like a diamond in the faint light.  Pieces of her hair stuck out, from the pain instead of from tangles.

The shadows in the folds of her clothes grew pronounced, the colors less intense yet still bright. There were fewer highlights, but the ones that remained were sharper. 

A sister. Kokichi wondered what it’d be like to have a sister. Probably sad. If they’d had one, she’d be dead now for sure. Their family was dead, had been since long before Calamity. They didn’t mind. They had a new family.

Liam was a friend, but he could be upgraded to family after they got to know each other a bit more. Now this Megan girl, in search of old family.

Maybe if they went on enough quests, murder and fetch, together, they’d be a new friend group strong enough to be called family! It’d happened before. Course, they’d all died too, but whatevs. 

“Let’s find her, then. We’ve got a mission and the more help, the better. Trust me, it’s going to be so totally awesome.”

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Nate lifted a water bottle from the plastic package in the back seat, twisted the lid off, and squeezed the water quickly into his mouth. “No need to waste time with normal chugging,” he reasoned, throwing the crunched bottle into the back seat. It felt a shame, but he could clean it out in Olympia Polaris, and he really had to get there quickly; Arachnerd’s Spyders could already have hitched a ride on his bumper, or otherwise caught up to him, and he couldn’t risk her learning specifics of his plan to bring Celia back for good. That, of course, was a major downside to processing things verbally like he did, as she could just overhear him thinking out loud as he always did. He pushed the plan far from his mind, pressing his jaw firmly shut just in case.
The remainder of the trip passed in silence. It wasn’t a very long ride, at that point. He had made good time, all things considered, and reached Olympia Polaris in time to catch the sunset. Canadian sunsets could be quite pretty, he realized. His appreciation for the colors of the west horizon was dispelled when he reached to wrap his arm around Celia’s waist. She wasn't there. Nate started talking again as his car slowed to accommodate a mass of people walking in the road.
“They certainly are moving, aren't they?” he asked himself.
“Hmm…” he mused, noting their general dishevelment and ragged clothing. “I wonder what they’re running from.”
Nate felt – or saw, rather – his vision tunnel, and the formerly blurry refugees slowed to a more natural pace.
“A temporal Epic, eh?” he remarked, adding the stereotypical Canadian “eh” to the end of it to amuse himself. It worked, bringing a momentary smile to his lips. Then it disappeared he glanced at his dash, and the picture of Celia that was mounted there.
“Lots of Enforcers, looks like,” he noticed. “This doesn't match the description I got. Someone must have broken through here very recently. I hope that’s all it is, anyway.”
Nate nudged the Saab forward to stay in line with the other refugees, who didn’t seem to care that there was a nice looking car behind them.
“That’s funny,” he noted. “Nice cars usually mean Epics. Must be hearty folks.”
He waited in line for a bit, until he finally made it to what looked like a makeshift customs house in the road, where he was stopped by two men in uniform. He shut himself up, so as not to appear insane. Which, he thought, I just might be. Who knows?
“We’re going to have to inspect your vehicle and person, sir,” said the first.
“I suppose I knew this was coming,” Nate replied, opening the driver door and stepping out.
They rummaged through his car, but didn't come up with anything they felt the need confiscate. The really wasn't anything in it that could cause problems but a box of .45 caliber bullets. The second officer held them up and gestured at Nate.
“Do you have a weapon that fires those?” Officer One asked Nate, pointing over his shoulder at the ammo box.
“Yes sir,” he replied, pulling his M1911 from his right holster, where it had been mostly hidden by his black leather jacket. Checking the safety, he flipped the handgun around and proffered the handle to the first officer. The second continued to work silently.
“Iiiiiis that a problem, sir?” Nate asked warily. It would not do at all to be without his only non-Epic self defense. He didn’t want to make a scene here to keep it, but he certainly didn’t want to need it later either, and end up killing someone, then leave them as a witness of his atrocities. It would make Celia’s redemption impossible.
“Not really, no,” replied Officer Two.
“Great, ‘cause I'd kind of like that back.”
Officer One handed the weapon back to Nate, who holstered it.
“What’s that in your other hip?” asked Officer One, who could now see past Nate’s bomber jacket.
“Spring airsoft replica of the other, sir,” he answered, pulling the full metal airsoft gun from his left hip and ejecting the magazine, which the officers could now see held 6mm white plastic BBs. They were .20 gram; anything lighter would simply spin off into the sky from the fire power of that particular model.
“Airsoft? That’s not Epic tech, is it?”
“No, sir, it’s a pre-Calamity combat toy, most it leaves is welts unless it hits your eye. It’s like paintball, but cleaner.” Nate punctuated the sentence by firing his chambered round at a nearby spider, leaving its splattered remains on the road beside them. A white dot could be seen to fly off of the body, and a plink could be heard across the street.
“Harmless, I see,” said Officer One. "What’s your name?"
“Snyder, sir. Nathaniel Snyder.
“You know her?” he asked, pointing to Celia’s picture on the dash once his personal inspection was complete.
Sparks! She beat me here!
“Yeah,” he replied coolly. The façade was hard, but he thought he could manage it. “Why do you ask?”
“’Cause that’s the Blackweb, sure as Calamity. She’s dangerous, but no-one really knows why she’s here. Was hoping you might have some info.” It was Officer Two who spoke this time. Who was really in charge here?
No no no no no no NO! He tried not to panic. His response was a bit shaky, probably not very convincing, but it was better than his mind. “An Epic? Must be thinking of someone else, sir. That’s my late girlfriend.” Tears welled up in his eyes as he some of her. They were real, but they would probably help his lie be more believable anyway. Actually, their legitimacy was probably their biggest selling point.
“Ah. I see. You're, uh, good to go, sir.” It was Officer Two again.
Nate pulled his car forward through the now parting throng of people and was on his way.
“That was close. I… should probably pull that picture down, if Arachnerd is really here.” It hurt him to do it, but Nate reached up and slid the picture out the to of the frame as he drove into the city. He’d take the frame down later, or alter it to hold his Mobile.
He put the picture in the zippered pocket over his heart on the outside of his jacket.
“I remember what you said, you know.” He said it aloud, but he knew Celia wouldn’t really hear him from there. Or maybe she would, if she was watching him with a Spyder. “I haven’t forgotten your promise, that we'll be together someday, without the pain, or the Evil. That day is coming, Celia.”

Edited by Sazedezas
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He consulted his shopping list.  He needed new gloves, but he doubted they would be sold here.  He did see a nice trench coat though. The money he had left from his brief service to an Epic had been mostly used up, but if he ever ended up working for someone again, he needed to look the part.  Nicroburst stumbled, and ran into someone. His power activated. Calamity!

 

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Arachnerd watched the other Epic's face break into a smile. Why? Oh, wait... I'm cute, aren't I? Forgot about that. She was far too tired to even think of using that to her advantage. She was also too tired to consider that the smile might have been a trick to throw her off guard, so it did.

 “Call me Riley, if you like. I’m here because I just walked a long sparking way and decided to take a rest. Why are you here? And don’t be rude, introduce yourself.”

"Arachnerd. I'm... Just trying to find some coffee, honestly." She almost said it like "you know where a girl can find a Starbucks?" or something, But she still didn't feel comfortable with men her age. Older fellows like Karabiner were one thing, but she still felt for Nate's arm around her waist whenever she saw a nice face. She admitted, grudgingly, that Riley's did qualify.

How do his powers work? No. How do they work? NO! Thermal Epics can't all be the same! Fine.

"How, exactly, did you do that stuff to those police officers, Riley?" He looked taken aback. "I mean, do you conserve thermal radiation, or just shoot ice and fire from your hands? If you conserve, can you pull it from anything, or just living tissues? Does it go through you, or just move from target to target?"

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“Arachnerd,” the young woman replied. An Epic, Riley thought. “I’m… just trying to find some coffee, honestly.” Riley realized that she did seem like she was in need of a caffeine boost. She paused for a moment, thinking.

“How, exactly, did you do that stuff to those police officers, Riley?” What?! Riley couldn’t keep the shock from showing on his face. How… how did she know that? She was an Epic, but if she had been spying on him, all the way in Sherwood Park, it raised some frightening questions. Who else was watching him? He never was truly safe, even when the feds hadn’t found him. The implications… he didn’t want to think about it.

Arachnerd was still talking. “I mean, do you conserve thermal radiation, or just shoot ice and fire from your hands? If you conserve, can you pull it from anything, or just living tissues? Does it go through you, or just move from target to target?” Riley stared at her for a moment. Really living up to the “nerd” in Arachnerd, there. Should he tell her? However, if he didn’t, how long would it take her to figure it out?

“I conserve,” he began. “That’s simple enough. But…” He trailed off, plotting. “If you want specifics, you’ll need to tell me a bit about your powers, which I assume are spider related.” Sparks, he was smooth. He could pat himself on the back for that later.

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“I conserve. That’s simple enough. But…” Riley trailed off, then continued. “If you want specifics, you’ll need to tell me a bit about your powers, which I assume are spider related.”

Arachnerd was too tired to chuckle. She probably should have expected exactly that response, but she could see nothing wrong with him understanding her powers, as long as he didn't know about... Calamity but those were painful memories. She cursed the irony that the part of her life she had tried so hard for so long to just forget had become a matter of life and death again when she got powers.

Normally, her reply would have been full of sarcasm, but she simply said "yeah, spider powers." She probably owed him an explanation for having known about his powers beforehand, as he would know nothing of her Spyders.

Come. "I can control them with mental orders, which they'll follow even out of range." Spiders crawled from the cracks in the buildings around them, answering her mental call. "I sustain them, too so they don't need to eat, or implode from heart attack - spiders get heart attacks when they move for too long, as they need to stop so their blood can come back to their abdomens - while under my orders." March about, she commanded, demonstrating  their ability.

"I can also see through some of their eyes, feel through their bodies, and hear through their leg-hairs." Her red spider-eye hologram appeared around her face, the main eyes filling her glasses once again.

Arachnerd knew she was leaving some things out, but she wasn't sure she wanted to reveal the Creepflood, as it was probably her only chance if fighting broke out; Riley - who really needed a better name - could easily kill any of her Hoarde, so those were out. But, if she just turned the street beneath him into spiders, he would be somewhere he couldn't reach her, and surrounded by hostile spiders to boot.

Arachnerd had barely stopped talking, and Riley looked bewildered at the specificity of her descriptions, but she just picked it back up where she had stopped. "Oh, and fibrous structures I'm touching turn black," she finished, spinning a black web between her index fingers. She gave Riley a glare that only the bespectacled can deliver, basically meaning you promised.

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“Yeah, spider powers,” Arachnerd said, then launched into a whole spiel. As she spoke, a small cluster of spiders gathered at her feet, crawling out from their nests to heed her call. They marched around at her feet. “I can see through their eyes, feel through their bodies, hear through their leg-hairs.” A visually impressive spider-eye image appeared over her face, as if she had become a spider too. She is definitely stable enough to pull all of these dramatic twists, Riley thought. “Oh, and fibrous structures I’m holding turn black,” Arachnerd concluded. Riley hadn’t even registered some of what she had said, but he played it cool.

He spread his hands and smiled. “Alright, I’ll fess up. So, I manipulate heat energy, like I said before. Most ambient energy is heat anyways, and I can draw it from anything. Even if under normal circumstances whatever it is wouldn’t yield heat, I can still take it. Theoretically, I can create absolute zero, though I’ve never tried it.” He slowly bent over and grabbed the broom, tracing elaborate designs over the handle and burning them in with his finger. He masked the pain in his leg as he did so.

He passed the broom from hand to hand lazily, as if he had all the time in the world. “Normally, I’d go my merry way and you yours. However, since you seem lost and more than a little tired, I’m willing to offer some assistance. Coffee?” He said. Mentally, he cursed. Spark that silver tongue of yours, Riley, he thought. Now I’ve let my words get ahead of me. Offering to go find coffee for this random Epic girl you just met, with a sparked-up leg to boot? Revoking that pat on the back.

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It’s going to be so totally awesome. Kokichi’s words echoed in Liam’s head as they drove towards downtown Edmonton. Kokichi was lounging in the passenger seat, and Megan was on the sofa in the back. Once Kokichi had it set in their mind that Megan was coming with them, there wasn’t much Liam could have done to sway them. Do not acquire any more sidekicks without my permission, Margaret had said. To Calamity with that, apparently. He supposed she just wouldn’t hear about Megan anytime soon.

He felt like the protagonist in one of those RPGs he used to play pre-Calamity. Constantly taking on side quests. Megan’s sister was yet another side quest. He sighed, but the music playing in the background drowned it out.

He took a left towards the main road, blinked, and wasn’t quite where he was before. Kokichi again, he thought. Slowly, he was acclimating to the Epic’s reality warping. However, knowing them, wherever they were now was somewhere near they needed to be. Wherever that was. Trusting his instincts, Liam continued driving forward, passing mostly abandoned houses with splashes of life here and there. He scanned the skyline and pressed the brake reflexively when he saw wisps of smoke ahead. Just a few blocks down, mingled among obviously new structures—perhaps constructed by one of the reigning Epics—was a rising plume of smoke. It was thinning out, mingling with the partly cloudy sky, but it was smoke nevertheless. He pulled the van into a narrow driveway between two abandoned houses.

Liam glanced back at his two passengers. “Alright, there’s something up ahead. I’ve come to realize that when it’s ‘something,’ it’s 80% hostile. Especially when there’s smoke involved.” As he spoke, he pulled his shotgun out of his compartment and began emptying the chamber. He took out a dark box-shaped device and attached it to the underside of the firearm just behind the middle of the barrel. He pointed to the glove compartment in front of Kokichi. “There is a box of shotgun rounds in the back. It’s the navy blue one.” Kokichi found it and handed him the box, which he opened and began to load the shotgun with. These were special rounds that, when paired with the device he had attached to the gun, ionized when fired, causing the bullet and the air around it to bond with the wound. It was particularly nasty, and Liam only used them when confronting Epics, specifically ones that were susceptible to guns. Wounds from these didn’t heal easily, if at all.

“Megan, I have a feeling that your sister is involved with the ‘thing’ going on up ahead. I’m leaving your safety up to you, because if worst comes to worst, it isn’t likely that I can save you from an Epic. Not right now, at least. Kokichi, are you ready?” Liam turned to them as he reached over and activated the Parallax cloak.

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Not fighting back.

Surprising. Not his impression for the mark.

It was fine, though. He liked it better that way.

One of the terrific things about epics was that no two were the same: even this one, in all her flying-brick splendor, conferred a unique opportunity. Quietus advanced carefully, drawn by her diminishing body heat. Clearly, she would require something to take her mind off of that. It was frustrating, that she was brushing off his attacks. Try something different. There were many forms of attack. More than the stones in the ground, more than the stars in the sky, more even than all the idiots that walked this earth.

Quietus dropped his power for a split second. She enjoyed talking.

"Not lifting a finger," he hissed, raising his power and relocating himself. "Is that how you lost your home last time?"

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Megan turned her head so fast she thought she'd give herself whiplash.

"Allie is there? How could you know that?" Her voice changing rapidly from the weary tone she'd used earlier.

She turned towards the smoke ahead, it was obscuring too much to see what was happening inside, and the smoke was behaving strangely, almost seeming as though there were invisible walls of some kind containing it. But neither of those were things that Impact had been able to do, at least not when they'd last seen each other. But from the trail she'd been following it seemed like her sister had picked up a few new tricks so she wasn't discounting anything.

She looked towards Liam who was readying himself along with Kokichi, she stole the momentum from his movements, shoving it into the ground beneath her before standing directly in front of him, eyes wide and intent as she stared at him.

"What do you know about my sister."

5f79363e-06f7-45f2-91bb-11bdf3a915d5_zps

 "Is that how you lost your home last time?"

Her hand jerked in the direction of the sound, ready to blow the smoke out of the way so she could see him, but she pulled it back to her side.

Speed Epic. Wouldn't be able to catch him anyway. She reminded herself.

She reached into a pocket, pulling out a small handful of steel ball bearing. Her vision was continuing to clear up but the smoke still hid everything from view.

She blasted one of the ball bearings towards the direction she'd heard the sound, hearing it slam into a slab of concrete nearby and cracking. But no screams of pain. Hit and run tactics was it?


The dizziness came back, along with the difficulty moving. She used her abilities to forcibly move one arm instead, but even that was slower than normal.

Some kind of slowing field?

But then why hadn't he used it earlier? Or was some other Epic now on the scene? Hidden by the smoke.

"Last time I lost my home  was because the entire state was leveled by real Epics." She replied cooly, eyes now searching through the smoke for a hint of movement. "This is just some child throwing a temper tantrum when they don't get their way."

She took a deep breath, some of the smoke entered her lungs as well but not enough to aggravate anything. Then she pushed at the smoke around her, blowing it away completely and leaving a large area devoid of air and smoke before it started moving back in, though more dispersed than before.

Finally she managed to make out the figure again, though it was blurry and indistinct.

She blasted another few ball bearings towards it.

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“Alright, there’s something up ahead. I’ve come to realize that when it’s ‘something,’ it’s 80% hostile. Especially when there’s smoke involved.”  Liam reached for some sorta gun as he spoke, then pointed at the glove box. “There is a box of shotgun rounds in the back. It’s the navy blue one.” 

They reached in and dug through it, finding it with relative ease. 

“Megan, I have a feeling that your sister is involved with the ‘thing’ going on up ahead. I’m leaving your safety up to you, because if worst comes to worst, it isn’t likely that I can save you from an Epic. Not right now, at least. Kokichi, are you ready?”

Well, I could protect her, they thought, somewhat miffed.

If Liam didn’t think he could, then they’d just have to make up for him. They’d be the bestest protector in the whole wide world. They could even be called the ultimate protector because of how protectory they’d be and wait what did he say anyway?

Were they ready? They nodded.


"Allie is there? How could you know that?" Megan’s head swung rapidly, and there was a new look in her eyes. A dangerous one. Something... weird... happened, and she was on her feet. The word “Zoom” popped up as she moved, the ground glowing slightly white. “What do you know about my sister?” 

Another Epic. They didn’t want to get into a fight but if Megan really insisted on it, they figured they could probably take her. Any physical ability usually accounted to naught against them unless—

There was no way she’d have figured it out. Even if she’d seen their back, which she hadn’t, Megan wouldn’t have put it together.

They’d have to be, like, the least lucky person in the world to have someone guess it like that. And if Megan did know, she would’ve used it already. 

“One, her name is Allie. Two, she’s probably around here. Three, she was last seen in Alberta.” They rolled their eyes. “We jump cut to the area where you’re most likely to meet her. Paranoid, much?” 

They looked past Megan’s shoulder to the dust cloud, which had temporarily cleared long enough to see a figure with similar blonde hair. Her fashion sense was pretty close to Megan’s too, in the way that it was surprisingly normal.

Her demeanor was very different, though. Like what Megan had just shifted into but far more so. 

Allie was facing off against a man in a black trench coat with dirty blonde hair cut short. He was probably a good ten years older than her, though they had similarity hostilely regal bearings.

Both Epics, though they could’ve easily guessed that by the fact she was frickin’ flying

“Oh, there she is,” they said, pointing. 

Edited by winter devotion
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She forced away more of the smoke, scattering it and pushing it up against the barriers that blocked off ERA. A spray of projectiles flew towards Quietus.

A bullet by any other name... Two of them were on-target, losing velocity moments before they reached him. Quietus raised his hand and made a show of plucking one of the balls out of the air with his thumb and index fingers, as if he had caught the moving pellet. The second bounced harmlessly off his chest, while the remainder shattered a window behind him.

Both of them acted untouchable. Yet one of them would lose. Quietus laughed at the absurdity of the situation, the sound carrying through the silence. She was a ballsy little slontze, but when hurting badly enough, fear would overrule everything else. It was human nature.

He took a casual step towards his prize.

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