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Epic: A Superhero Novel

Part Ten: Revelations

#

Eugene Marvin Pickett had died. At least, he hadn't died a virgin. The girl who inherited his superpowers had punched a hole through his heart. If that couldn't kill him, nothing would. It made what happened next easy to believe. Eugene opened his eyes to see his father.

"Dad?"

The man smiled. "In a way, yes." He looked exactly the way his father looked that fateful November night. The night he accused Dad of placing his job above his family. It took a journey into the afterlife for Eugene to realize the truth. Dad must have loved his family more than life itself. Eugene wished Dad had shown it more.

The smell of roses emanated from his father. Eugene looked around, seeing only pure light. Eugene smiled. "Talk about fashionably late." Eugene had gone solo for ten months trying to save the world. It even got him killed and this guy sat on His divine ass, pretending to care.

"You misunderstand me, child." God raised His hand. The light shapeshifted into a beautiful green park, complete with pond and bike trail. "I created the rules of the world." God picked a rose from its bush. "If I break the rules, the world itself may break along with them."

God paused a moment. "You have many questions." God sniffed the rose. "Fortunately, I have many answers." God turned the borrowed eyes of his father towards him. "Speak." Eugene always wanted to talk to God. He never imagined that it would happen like this.

Also, Eugene imagined he would have far more questions to ask him. Instead, he had only one. "Can she do it?" God sighed. "Can she kill you?" God nodded. In that one solemn nod of a frightened deity, Eugene saw one pillar of his sanity struck down in a single mighty blow.

God sat at a bench next to the pond. Eugene preferred to stand. "Lilith knows my true name. It gives her a great deal of power over me. With the Grigori at her command, she could storm the Gates of Heaven. She could drag me to Earth and decapitate me with the Sword."

Eugene did have one more question after all. Instead of asking about the meaning of life, he had a more concrete question in mind. "Who ordered the hit on the archangels?" Uriel came to Earth to investigate the Archangel Slayings. Hunter Prince merely served as the weapon.

God got a faraway look in his eyes. "I did." Eugene watched helplessly as the second pillar of his sanity crumbled. God held His head in His hands. "I have made many mistakes. To preserve the sanctity of existence, I have seen fit to visit incalculable horrors upon this world."

God picked up a smooth stone and skipped it across the pond. "I remember the darkness before Creation. I remember the loneliness and the isolation. I created twelve companions to keep me company. The ones you call archangels. I gave them each a portion of my power."

God looked back at him. His eyes begged for sympathy. "I needed that power back. I could do that in two ways. I could strip them of their grace or I could kill them." God looked back at the imaginary pond. "Suffice to say, I consider the latter far more humane than the former."

Eugene sat down next to God. "Lilith knew my plan. She broke the spirit trap Hunter had laid, enabling Uriel's escape." God stared at him. "I wanted you dead but you changed my mind." God fixed his weary gaze onto the pond. "You give people hope. Something I used to do."

God laughed. He had Dad's laugh. "Evil used to tremble at the mere mention of my name." God sighed. "Now, people see me as either a tired old man or an inhuman sadist." God locked eyes with Eugene. "You have the power to change the world. I suggest you use it."

Eugene broke down in tears. "I had the power. They took it away from me." Eugene had screwed up. The world depended on Eugene to do the right thing. Instead, Eugene got his dumb ass killed by a daughter who shouldn't even exist yet. "I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry."

A cruel smile appeared on the face of God. "Quit your bellyaching, son." Eugene hadn't expected the Almighty Creator to speak this way to him. "Uriel did not give you the power to change the world." God stood up. "I did." Eugene stared up at Him through reddened eyes.

"I have watched from Heaven as you tortured yourself for every mistake you ever made." An inferno burned behind God's eyes. "If you plan to save the world, you must put that darkness behind you."

Eugene asked God why He chose him for this task. "I work in mysterious ways."

#

The man in a white tuxedo appeared next to Eugene Pickett. "But I don't." Eugene looked around to see pure darkness. "I suppose you imagined something a bit more horrifying." The man smiled. "Sorry to disappoint." Eugene looked hard into the void. "Welcome to Hell."

Eugene felt a tremor of fear and loneliness unlike anything he had felt in life. "When I made my deal with Lilith, I thought I would never regret it. I thought I would enjoy watching Lilith kill the father who had betrayed me." Lucifer looked around. "But I see the truth now."

Lucifer paced around. "If God dies, this dark awful place will spread like a disease. Slowly and surely over the course of decades, Hell will overtake the whole of existence."

Eugene looked around. Devoid of pitchforks and fire pits, Hell nonetheless lived up to its reputation. A berserk rage swallowed him up. Flames erupted from every inch of his "body."

Lucifer bared his teeth. "I know that look. You know the truth now. Hellfire burns within the soul whenever a person separates himself from God. You humans think God abandoned you." Lucifer smirked. "Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, you abandoned Him?"

Lucifer smiled. "You have a friend summoning you back to Earth." Eugene stared into the abyss, wondering how many souls occupied this endless landscape of eternal torment. "He's giving you something I never had." Lucifer circled Eugene. "A second chance." Lucifer whispered into his ear. "Don't blow it."

#

Eugene Pickett woke up in a landfill. He ripped his way out of an industrial-sized garbage bag. He swam through a sea of refuse until he surfaced. Eugene's favorite t-shirt had a giant bloody hole in it. He looked at the space on his chest where he once had Uriel's mark.

Eugene realized that he didn't have his glasses on. Then, he realized that he didn't need them anymore. The tooth he had lost had grown back. For some reason, the tiny wound that the Sword had inflicted still remained. Besides that, God had rolled his odometer back to zero.

Eugene spat out the various unmentionables that he had seeped into his mouth. For a modern-day Lazarus, Eugene had hoped for a more dignified return from the great beyond. "Rising from the dead." The angel Barnabas appeared over him. "That makes you a rare individual."

Eugene rolled his eyes. "If you say so." Eugene brushed himself off, a futile gesture considering his current predicament. Eugene looked up at the sky. The night before the full moon. By this time tomorrow, Lily Sage would set the stage for the Breaking of the Seventh Seal.

Eugene watched as Barnabas tripped over a piece of broken glass. Eugene asked the obvious question. "A life for a life." Barnabas smiled weakly. The truth hit Eugene all at once. Barnabas, not God, had raised him from the dead. Soon, it would cost him his life.

Eugene looked over at Barnabas. "I think I have a plan. But for it to work, I need more information." The dying angel warned him that this could take a while. Eugene sat down in the dirt and crossed his legs. "I have all night." Eugene smiled. "I bet you have a lot of stories."

Eugene listened patiently as Barnabas narrated the secret history of things. All the while, Barnabas fought to stay alive as his celestial body rotted away from the inside out. By the time he learned everything he needed to know, Eugene had to watch another angel die.

#

The walk home from the city dump gave Eugene time to sort out the essential facts from the useless data. Eugene had rightly guessed the reason for the Abaddon Group's involvement. They believed that the Grigori would bring about a perfect world. They didn't know the truth.

As soon as he could, Eugene would have to schedule an appointment with Abraham Soren. As strange as it sounded, he might actually prove the most valuable ally he had right now. Mom rushed up to him. "Oh, dear God, sweetie. What happened to you? Where's Kyle?"

Mom wrapped her arms around him. "I have something to tell you, Mom." Eugene looked up to see Silver. "A lot of things, actually." Eugene put his arm on her shoulder. "You might want to sit down for this." Silver perched himself on the roof. "This might take a while."

Eugene had to start small. He needed to work his way up to the really bad news. "There's a girl in my life." Mom's eyes widened. "I love her very much but she already has a boyfriend." Eugene plopped down on Dad's old recliner. "We had sex. Serena got pregnant."

Eugene didn't know how Mom would react to the news. Mom always bragged to her friends at work. She said she had good sons who never got into any trouble. Eugene half-expected her to tear his head off with her bare hands, thus killing him a second time. "C'mon. Go on."

Eugene hadn't expected that kind of response from her. He asked the obvious question. "Of course, it bothers me, sweetie. I would rather not know any of this." Mom sipped her coffee. "But if I have to, I want to know all of it." Mom lowered her head. "So please. Keep going."

Eugene's confession took a hard left into the occult. He told her everything. His "job." Kyle's kidnapping. Lilith's plot. Everything with a capital E. Eugene had every intention of letting Mom pet Silver to confirm his story but she could see the truth in his eyes.

Mom had a gift for asking the hard questions. "So, what do we do about all this?" Eugene's eyebrow arched. "Yes, sweetie. We as in us. Fighting this war didn't get you killed. Fighting this waralone did." Eugene stared at Mom. "You need help. Lots of help." Eugene expected her to say that. Just not in that context.

Eugene stretched his arms and yawned. He needed a hot shower followed by a long sleep. He'd graduate tomorrow in more ways than one. Eugene caught a rare glimpse of a smile on Mom's face. "I'm proud of you, sweetie. I'm sure Dad would have felt the same way."

#

The night before graduation filled Eugene's sleep with strange dreams. He could not remember the last time he had a good night's sleep. In the rare instances when he got to sleep, Eugene had nightmares about the many things that he had experienced.

Eugene Pickett had met the Devil in Hell. The fact that he could not enter Ocean City gave him little solace. Perhaps, the Devil could still visit him in his dreams. "Please save us." Eugene opened his eyes. He could swear that he heard the voice of Serena Cortez.

Barnabas had told Eugene the name of their daughter. Elena Pickett. For this reason, Lilith had no choice but to keep Serena alive. If Serena did not survive for at least another few months, Elena would never exist. Eugene only hoped that his line of reasoning made sense.

The story that Barnabas told about Lilith after her exile did not appear in any religious texts. Nothing human had ever heard the whole story before. As Lilith wandered the wilderness, she called out for help. God did not answer but someone did.

She made the very first deal with the Devil. She asked to live forever so she could get revenge against the one who took the love of her life away from her. Lilith allied herself with Abaddon, the archangel who had refused to serve as the prison guard over Tartarus.

In the eons that followed, Lilith amassed great power. Too much power in fact. Her frail human body could barely contain it all. It explained why she gave Uriel's heart to his daughter and not to herself. Not even God knew what would happen if she grew in power.

Barnabas had revealed a secret. Tartarus had Ten Seals. Ritual sacrifices could only break the first seven. Unfortunately, once the first seven fell, Grigori could break the final three Seals from insideof Tartarus. As long as the three archangels guarding them had died.

Therein lied the rub. If Lilith killed the last three archangels, God would regain his full power in forty days, making all of her efforts to kill Him quite futile. If she did not kill them, the Grigori would never break out of Tartarus even with the Seven Seals broken.

Elena Pickett, Eugene's daughter from the future, solved that problem for her. By keeping Uriel's heart alive, the Tenth Seal, the Earth Seal, wouldn't break. Lilith would break the Seventh Seal with Kyle's blood. Lilith would then, in all likelihood, have Elena relinquish the archangel's heart. Lilith would then have a forty-day window to take her revenge against God.

The whole mess left the sticky question as to where Elena's allegiance lied. Did she serve Lilith in earnest? Or did she serve Lilith to help her father? If she did it to help him, how did she get past the three vampires? Last time he checked, vampires could read minds. Elena had killed him, yes, but his death had enabled his escape. If she hadn't killed him, he would have remained her prisoner.

#

The death of his red pick-up truck still hadn't registered with Eugene. So this morning, Mom volunteered to drive him to the Soren Industries headquarters. He could easily have gone there alone riding Silver but Mom had made a valid point last night.

Fighting alone gets you killed.

Besides, he didn't have any superpowers anymore. He had only the strength of his argument and the agility with which he delivered it. Still, Eugene didn't like the idea of bringing his mother along on this suicide mission. Eugene stared up at the skyscraper.

The two marched into the lobby of the building. The receptionist, a mousy-looking brunette, asked them if they had an appointment. "No." Eugene leaned in close. "Just tell him that it's about the Abaddon Group." The lady stared at him as if he had pulled a gun on her.

The security guard tossed them into the office and slammed the door behind them. The whole office reminded him that money couldn't buy taste. Paintings and statues from a half-dozen eras clashed for attention. What should have invoked awe caused vertigo instead.

Abraham Soren, a bearded middle-aged man, admired his surroundings. That look of self-satisfaction on his face made him want to break his nose. "We meet again, Mr. Pickett." Abe reclined in his chair. "Sweet of you to include your mother in these proceedings."

Abraham Soren drummed his fingers on his mahogany desk. "You have one minute to give me adequate reason why I should not have you both disposed of." He cracked his knuckles. "Hurry." Abraham tapped on his gold Rolex. "You don't have much time."

Eugene opened his mouth to speak. "I cannot talk that way to my son," Mom pointed out in a matter-of-fact tone. "I do not care how much money or power you have." Mom's dead eyes stared at Abe. "If you threaten my son again, I will kill you." Color drained from his face.

The balance of power shifted from the gloating supervillain to the pissed-off Mama Bear. Eugene Pickett took the opportunity to speak his piece. "Your boss, Lilith, has lied to you. She wants the Grigori for herself. She wants to kill God and make you an accomplice to deicide."

Abraham sighed. "I know." Eugene's eyes widened. "I have known for about a month now." Abe held his head in his hands. "What choice do I have? Previous incarnations of the Abaddon Group have tried to rebel. She destroyed them and replaced them without giving it a second thought. And if she ever found out that I even had thoughts of rebelling against her ..."

Silver always wondered why the Abaddon Group had the tenacity of cockroaches. Lily Sage would not let them die. "God, I wish that bitch would just die." Mom tensed up. "Pardon my French." He closed the blinds to the office windows. "I can't take it anymore."

A look of relief spread across his face. "What the Hell." Abraham pressed the intercom. "Mr. Nakamura, please accompany my guests to Applied Sciences." Abe opened a desk drawer and pulled out a revolver. He smiled weakly. "Close the door on the way out."

Eugene closed the door on the way out. Halfway down the hall, Eugene heard the noise of a single gunshot. Abraham Soren, one of the most powerful men in the world, feared Lilith more than death. Looking at her track record, who could really blame him for that?

Masayori Nakamura, a bespectacled Japanese gentleman in a white lab coat, accompanied Eugene Pickett and his mother as they rode the service elevator to the sub-basement. The elevator doors opened. A dozen lights switched on as the trio walked in. "Oh, my God."

Soren Industries must have dozens of battlesuits down here. He saw a battlesuit that looked like a samurai version of his old costume. Masi patted the thing on the back. "I had this baby built to neutralize a threat to the Abaddon Group, a supernormal codenamed Epic."

Eugene would use technology specifically built to destroy him. He looked over the weapons of every battlesuit. "The battlesuits carry adamantium blades etched with carbon nanotubes." Masi lovingly caressed the swords. "Simply put, they can cut through anything."

The words coming out of Masi's mouth sounded like comic book science. And yet here he stood in the same room as this badass weapons arsenal. He handed Masi a piece of paper. "Send them to these coordinates." Masi punched in the numbers. The suits marched off.

The moral ambiguity of this bizarre situation no longer bothered Eugene Pickett. He had twice before allied himself with the Devil. Teaming up with a group of overzealous mass murderers to stop an omnicidial maniac made a sick sort of sense.

#

Mom once told Eugene about the night Dad proposed to her. Before he showed her the ring, he said three words that changed her life forever. I trust you. After that, she knew that, whatever happened in life, they would always have each other.

Since the night a vampire virus overran Ocean City, Eugene Pickett saw a strength in his mother. All the women in his life had it. All of them. Eugene paced the rows of battlesuits. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Eugene Marvin Pickett. I'm also Epic."

Eugene had found the weapons. Now, he needed the army. He looked over the prominent members of the graduating class. With the help of Christopher Reyes and Chelsea Collins, he had brought them all here to Watcher's Woods. "According to our source on the inside, someone very bad plans to use tonight's graduation as an opportunity to summon monsters."

Eugene paused. "For any of you still stupid enough not to believe in monsters, please refer to YouTube for my fight with a gnome on prom night." Eugene sighed. "A brave man died that night." Chelsea choked up a bit. So did Percy. "If we all had that kind of courage, we wouldn't need superheroes." Eugene stared at Chris. "We would have each other."

Eugene had to keep his poker face up. "I will not lie to you. Some of you will die. None of you will die easy." Eugene laughed. "Hell, I've died once before. Even coming back from the dead with an apology from God didn't make it any better for me." Nervous laughter ensued. "We've all done bad things. Tonight, we'll get a chance at redemption."

As the team took stock of the toys they would get to play with tonight, Eugene Pickett walked up to Christopher Reyes. He could not think of anyone else who help someone who did the sort of things he did to him. Eugene hoped he could show his appreciation.

Chris held up his hand. "I don't need your apology. I don't need your gratitude. I didn't do this for you. I did this for her. As soon as I'm done, I don't want to see either of you again. Got it?" Eugene nodded. "Good." Chris stared at a battlesuit. "How do I put this on?"

#

"If I don't come back, I want you to know that I love you." Eugene Pickett shared a hug with Mom. Usually, whenever he said something darkly pessimistic, Mom would counter with an opposing viewpoint. Not this time. They both knew that he could die out there tonight.

Eugene smirked. "For what it's worth, I'll try not to die ... again."

Something bothered him about Lilith that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Now he could. He actually felt sorry for her. She had spent all human history dealing with this unimaginable heartache, surrounded by the descendants of her lost love. This fantasy of revenge against God kept her sane. Eugene admired her strength of will if nothing else.

Eugene Pickett had gotten lucky with Serena Cortez. The lovesick nerd falling for the popular girl should have ended badly. Instead, she showed him a love and affection he thought he would never know. In essence, Serena Cortez saved his life. He didn't know if he could ever repay such kindness. He could only hope that saving the world would put a dent in that enormous debt.

Eugene pocketed his spellbook. I haven't forgotten about you, bro. Eugene had no intention of letting that uber-bitch kill his brother just because he happened to have virgin angel blood flowing in his veins. Eugene donned his armored battlesuit and made his way to school.

Barnabas had given Eugene special instructions on how to take down Lilith. Barnabas couldn't stress enough how much power she had. During the hours leading up to the ritual sacrifice, Lilith would have to redirect the bulk of her power into breaking the Seventh Seal of Tartarus. During that time, her temporary weakness might make her vulnerable to attack.

Eugene sighed. He didn't like the sound of word might but right now, his entire plan hinged on it.

Lilith had formed a mystical barrier around the campus of Sorendale High School. In theory, nothing could get in or out. Fortunately, the magic book Kyle had given Eugene for Christmas had a sign that negated the effects of this minor hindrance. Thank you, Kyle.

The sign, a pleasant spiral shape, adorned all the battlesuits as the mecha army passed through the barrier. On the other side of the barrier waited every kind of monster he had encountered. Vampires, demons, gnomes, sylphids. You name it. It came for the party.

Pure chaotic war erupted around Eugene as he searched for signs of his loved ones. He looked around to see Elena Pickett in full Epic regalia, the Sword glowing in her right hand. He walked up to Elena and placed the Sword against his throat. "Do it. Kill me."

Eugene made up his mind about Elena's allegiances. It doesn't matter. Even if it meant saving the world, Eugene refused to shed the blood of his own family. The servos of the battlesuit hummed as he fell to his knees. "I'm your father, Elena. I trust you."

How Elena would response to this suicidal gesture depended on the kind of a father he had turned into. Did he treat her with callous indifference like his own father did? Or did he break free of that unholy cycle and show her the love and respect she deserved?

Elena reared back the Sword to deliver a killing blow. Eugene closed his eyes. The Sword glanced off over his left shoulder, hitting a gnome right in the neck. The monster, bleeding from its wound, fell over dead. "C'mon, Dad." Elena extended her hand. "Let's finish this."

Eugene Pickett, like any father, ranted and raved about his daughter's achievements. Elena had traveled through time to infiltrate a secret society. She had gained the trust of the most dangerous woman alive. And she had done all that with her Uncle Kyle's spellbook and enough courage to put an archangel to shame. Eugene could tell that Elena smiled under her mask.

#

Elena's solution for getting past Lilith's bloodsucking lieutenants bore the tell-tale signs of a true genius. Elena had hypnotized herself. When her three vampire ladies scanned her mind, her thoughts confirmed her cover story. An angry lost soul lashing out at her emotionally distant father. Elena had rigged the conditioning to switch off as soon as Eugene had spoken the trigger phrase.

"I trust you." His trust had restored her humanity. Regardless, time travel still gave Eugene a severe migraine headache. Right now, he knew how events twenty years from now would unfold yet he remained utterly clueless as to his own fate in the next twenty minutes.

Eugene carved a swath of destruction through the monsters with his adamantium blade. Adamantium. Masi Nakamura must have gotten bored trying to find a name for this new element. Luckily for him, comic books already had a name for this indestructible metal.

Lilith stood over Kyle as he struggled against the chains of the altar. Elena killed the three vampires with one stroke. Serena Cortez, the mother of this extraordinary child, hung upside-down from the goal post of the end zone, her body trussed up with ropes. Just as he predicted, Lilith had kept Serena as her hostage. Eugene looked over at Elena. The two needed to split up. "Go."

Eugene cut Serena down, catching her as she fell. The blade sliced through the ropes like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Eugene removed her gag. Serena's hand shook as she pointed at Elena. "Don't worry about her." He held Serena close. "Elena's on our side."

Eugene raised his visor and locked eyes with her. Even amidst a battlefield, he had so much he wanted to say to her. More importantly, he had something he wanted her to say. Serena laughed. "Jesus, you're going to make me say it?" She rolled her eyes. "Go get them, Panda."

Eugene kissed her on the cheek and lowered his visor. He needed that. Eugene looked over to see Elena engaged in pitched combat with Lily Sage. The key of life on Elena's right bicep did not make her any match for Lily. Even with only a dagger to defend herself, Lily moved with a horrifying speed and she struck with a terrifying strength.

Lilith knocked the blade from Elena's hands. Lilith rammed the dagger into Elena's chest. While it could not penetrate her costume, the blow knocked the wind of her. "I trusted you." Lilith hit her again. "You lied to me." Lilith grabbed her by the throat. "You betrayed me." Elena struggled to breath. "Give me one good reason why I should let you live."

Eugene snuck up on Lilith. He sliced off her left hand, freeing Elena from her grasp. Eugene sliced off the other hand, disarming Lilith of the sacrificial dagger. The third slice went through her neck, taking off her head. Elena scrambled to retrieve the Sword. In one fluid motion, Elena launched the Sword as hard as she could into Lilith's chest.

Time froze. Everything froze.

The three severed body parts melted as new ones grew back in their place. Lilith pulled the Sword out of her chest. She looked back and forth between Eugene and Elena. In the blink of an eye, Lilith made her choice. Lilith charged at Elena, ramming the Sword into one of her hearts. "No!" Eugene cried as he went to cradle Elena in his arms. "No!" She died before her head had even hit the ground.

Lily Sage smiled. "Silly humans." The hole in her chest closed up. "I should have known." A cruel smile appeared on Eugene's face. Elena had not died in vain. Lily Sage had sealed her fate. "No weapon on Heaven and Earth can slay me."

Eugene circled Lilith. "I think my daughter knew you better than you knew yourself." Eugene raised his adamantium blade, attempting to hold Lilith at bay. "She knew if she could get you angry enough that you would make a mistake." Lilith smirked. "And you did." She viewed his speech as an attempt at intimidation, rather than a simple declaration of fact.

Lilith winced as the key of life materialized onto her forehead. Aided by the momentary distraction, Eugene parried the Sword and dragged his blade across her throat. Sparks flew from the gash in her neck. "What do you suppose happens if the key of life tries to magnify you?"

Eugene could pinpoint Lilith's light bulb moment. Eugene could not imagine what she felt like at that moment. Losing hurt. Losing with a myriad of cosmic powers due to a technicality must really suck. "I guess we're about to find out." Eugene hoped that Lilith would try to make her peace with God in the final moments before meeting Him.

"You bastard!" Lilith doubled over in pain. The Sword slipped out of her hands. "I'll kill you." Lilith reached out to strangle Eugene. He wrapped his arms around her body, trapping her in a mechanized bear hug.

The mystical barrier surrounding the campus split open. The hole allowed Silver to slip in. Eugene held Lilith and stepped onto Silver's back. "Going up, please." Eugene flew straight up through the crack. Eugene whispered into Lily's ear. "Tell God I said hi." He threw Lilith as hard as he could into the air. The glowing ripple of heat and light erupted from her body.

The explosion blotted up the moon. Thus ended the long life of Lilith, Adam's first wife, blown to bits in the skies above a high school football field. Lilith's "troops" looked up at the sky, terrified witnesses to the death of their leader.

Eugene jumped off Silver's back. He looked at the Sword like a barrel of nuclear waste. The next person to touch it would end up its owner. The key of life would magnify the owner's abilities. For some, that would mean glory. For Lily, it meant death by overeating.

Eugene looked around at the devastation. Even the Council couldn't make something like this disappear. Before long, the whole world would know what happened here. True to his word, Christopher Reyes had left as soon as the heavy fighting had ended.

That or he ended one of the many unrecognizable corpses strewn about the battlefield. Eugene couldn't really say for certain which one had happened to him. Eugene had kept Earth from descending into Hell. One could hardly tell that by looking at this awful place.

Eugene Pickett shared a group hug with his older brother, Kyle Pickett, and the love of his life, Serena Cortez. "I'm glad to see you two." Eugene looked back at Elena's corpse. In the rush to save the day, he neglected to close her eyes. He went over and did just that.

"Don't worry." Eugene looked over at Elena Pickett, a transparent bag of ectoplasm doing its best impersonation of a physical body. "We'll meet again." Elena looked over at Serena. "In a few months, actually." Elena kissed him on the forehead. "See you then."

Sadness overcame Eugene Pickett. Nothing on Earth could stop this. One day, Elena would travel back in time. One day, she would end up this corpse. If she didn't, none of this would ever happen. Eugene smirked. He would just have to love her twice as hard.

#

THE END

#

Author's Notes: I usually hate seeing these damn things but I felt the necessity to write one. Including this, I have written two novels (stories exceeding a word count of 50K). Since I plan to go back and revise my first novel, that will make Epic my last novel for a while. I would like to thank Bryan (my younger brother who's not gay) and Mom.

I would also like to thank Lopunnu and InkGypsy. You two kept me writing when I didn't think I could write my way out of a paper bag. I hope everyone had as much fun reading this story as I had writing it. And, just in case anybody's still wondering, I did base the character of Eugene Marvin Pickett largely (no pun intended) after myself.

As for Serena Cortez, I would rather keep to myself how much of her I invented and how much of her I borrowed from the real women in my life. I can only hope that my best friend Leah doesn't read this and get the wrong idea. I love her very much but only as a friend. Besides, she already has a boyfriend.

Anywho, as Stan Lee would say, "Excelsior!"