A Brief History of Time


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Scene Title A Brief History of Time
Synopsis The last decade is summarised for Sylar. And then the truth starts to untangle.
Date December 8, 2018

The Underground: Containment Room

It's hard to tell just how much time has passed. What they call containment cells is something far less appealing. Something far less savory.

For hours, possibly over a day, Sylar has been sealed within what was at one time a blast furnace. This room, made of crumbling brick and sealed with a heavy iron door is down in the bowels of the power plant Peter and his survivors cling to life in. The blast vents that once would have launched gouts of flame hot enough to melt steel are still in place, covered by charred and black grating. Down here as well are unfortunate signs of something other than safety from the virus — bones. There aren't many, but the fragments of blackened skulls and cracked femurs gives an idea as to some of the grisly uses this ancient piece of hardware has been brought to bear with. It would seem that in the event that someone was infected while in a "containment" room, the infection could be quickly erradicated.

It's quite possible they didn't put Sylar down here to keep him from getting sick, but in case he was already infected.

But it's more palateable than the alternative — the injection.

He sits in the center of the room, legs folded as if in meditation, and in fact, his eyes are closed as if this were true. Not quite true. He's listening for the barest indications of sudden flame and hellfire. Every now and then, metal will creak somewhere distant, and a forcefield of organic, shifting energy will flicker to life, then flicker out once he's determined it's merely the groans and sighs of old machinery.

Not that he's paranoid or anything.

His old shirt has been shredded, the dry, unbloodied parts used as makeshift bandages - he's attempted to fashion a sling but there wasn't enough fabric. Over that, a green BDU shirt has been given, spattered with oil and old blood, scarred with burns here and there. Sylar's had better days. He's willing to give Peter a few more hours. Just a couple more. Not out of patience, but out of desperation. He's spent longer hours in cells such as this, where death hung over him just as equally - not in the form of charred vents and blackened bones, but in the form of a constant invasion of IVs and needles and the knowledge they could slip some other kind of drug into those tubes and send him under forever. Sylar is used to it. It doesn't mean he's happy about it.

But he has one companion to entertain him while he's locked away here. Anger. A constant burn more powerful than even the hunger to learn and take. It grows and simmers and scorches as the minutes tick by. Never before has he wanted to go home— no. Once. Once, he felt it, that desperate want to go somewhere safe and familiar. The mind of Jenny Childs still lurks somewhere in his memory. Still lurks in the wound that's torn his left shoulder apart. He shoves it aside and focuses on anger. It's so much easier.

The door had better open soon. Sylar's not sure how much longer he can cope with his own mind in a room such as this. Just a few more hours.

Coincidentally, today is a day many of Sylar's wishes will come true. Some he'll realize have, some he won't.

The creak of metal this time isn't the settling of the old power plant, but rather of the sealed door's circular valve lock being unwound like an old submarine hatch. The door creaks and swings open, and there stands the ragged looking and weary Peter Petrelli, straightening his olive green jacket as he steps into the blast chamber, ducking his head as he does to avoid the low door frame.

"You're still alive." Normally those words would be said with some level of vitrol, some level of anger. Now, they're reluctantly happy ones, "I guess that gives you a clean bill of health, usually within 30 hours symptoms begin to show." Peter eyes one of the bones, "Sometimes things don't go so well."

A hand is held out, for the second time since Sylar's arrival. "Come on, get up." Peter motions to Sylar with a nod of his head, "You're going to meet Edward today," Peter's eyes drift over to Sylar's shoulder, "Right after you get your shoulder looked at."

Still alive. If there's one thing Sylar is good at that's not killing people, it's survival at any cost. Not unlike a cockroach. Perhaps he could have even made it out alive if they had switched the furnace on. Perhaps. His right hand, the one of the uninjured arm, comes up to clasp Peter's hand without hesitation and gets to his feet, but rather quickly that hand is released, the man stepped back from. The look Peter gets is one of burning resentment, but there's only so many ways he can express it. All he needs to do is go back to the proper year and make that Peter pay for this, not this one. It takes some restraint.

"Who's Edward," he finally grits out, and makes for the door without anymore urges - he doesn't have to be told twice. His right hand clasps his left arm as he moves, careful not to jostle the injury anymore than it needs, although fresh blood begins to dampen his makeshift bandaging almost instantly.

"Edward's a scientist." The words seem a bit foreign coming out of Peter as he follows Sylar from the room. No one else awaits outside of the hall, just the ambient noise of running machinery and dripping water. Overhead, a network of water manes, steam pipes and electrical cabling is covered with rust and water stains.

"But first I'm going to take you down and tend to that shoulder before it gets any worse." Peter's booted footfalls resound in the subterranean tunnels, and he takes a different way from the blast chamber than he did bringing Sylar here. Instead, he goes deeper into the complex, heading down the same narrow hall, past a few more doors, onto another series of metal catwalks. With a loud clanging sound of each heavy step, Peter stalks out over a strange sight some forty feet below. The catwalks are circling an expansive railway system, complete with old and rusted subway cars sitting idle. He pauses, staring down at the cars and the tracks, to spools of untended cabling and tools. "Back when the virus first hit…" Peter clenches his jaw, eyes focused on the old metal, "…the waves of death were almost insurmountable. The first thing to fail was public works — water, electricity, telecommunications. Nobody was around to keep things manned. So a few of us, we took it on ourselves to try and run things. This power plant's old, connects down to the New York subway system. We used what tunnels survived the bomb to ship people, food, water — whatever we could." With a sorrowful expression, Peter closes his eyes, "All we did was help the virus spread. We had no idea just what we were dealing with.

Sylar pauses as well when he takes in the view, moving towards the edge of the catwalk to peer down, down at the ghost trains, and as Peter wraps up what must be only a short story in a series of longer ones, Sylar glances towards him, expression unreadable, just taking this information into consideration. "How long did it take?" he asks, voice a quiet rasp. His head cants to the side. "For ninety percent of the world to die?" When he's lain barely conscious in the streets of the Bronx, it had seemed as though there was even less than that, it had been so quiet.

"Less than five years." Peter turns slowly from the view, following the catwalk to a set of metal stairs that head up to a higher level. He slowly ascends the stairs, arriving at an area marked by plate glass windows that may have at one time been some form of observation room to view the changing of tracks and train cars. However now these windows are plastered with newspapers on the inside, showing broken pieces of articles, advertisements and the backs of photographs all taped to the glass. Peter passes by that room quietly, making his way into another concrete hall on the opposite side, and to a partially open door.

Pausing by the entrance, Peter rests his hand on the doorknob, looking back over his shoulder to Sylar. "After the government infrastructure started to collapse, you took over. You and a small army of people who were somehow unaffected by the virus. You took over the city, using it as a staging ground, and then spread out to rule over the handful of survivors. Anyone who even so much as thought about rebellion was executed. In the first couple of years, the bodies from the executions and fighting almost equalled the virus…"

Peter pushes the door open, stepping into a small, dingy looking workshop. A long metal table has a toolbox set up on top of it, along with a smaller and dented red metal box with a white square and red cross on it. He motions to the table, "Sit down." There's a tired tone to his voice, and Peter lifts up the toolbox and brings it over to a rolling cabinet near some metal sinks, setting it down with a loud clank before flipping the top open. "I don't know if you planned things to go this way. I think the virus started going out of control, killing more people than anticipated. After about a year, things were the worst. Riots, civil wars, the world just crumbled in on itself and started to wither."

Sylar sits, glad to do so, and slowly, carefully takes off the borrowed BDU. He either trusts Peter to take care of the shoulder wound, or yet again, he's meeting a dead end when it comes to analysing the choices he has. The black fabric of his dress shirt is stiff with blood and these he peels away to reveal the ugly wound. The shape of shoulder doesn't even look right, but there's little to be done about that. Sylar doesn't look it, eyes going towards the tool box with some distrust and doubt. But he says nothing, and listens. Of course he couldn't imagine that Kazimir's plan would happen overnight, cleanly— what had he asked Zachery? Would it be nice to wake up and everyone was dead?

Apparently, it doesn't quite work this way.

"It won't stop," Sylar says, letting the torn up strips of fabric fall away. "It won't stop until your precious ten percent is gone and there's no one left but…" But the man they know to be Volken. Would he take that name, as his successor? It's not so farfetched.

"Seems that's the case." Peter rummages around in the toolbox, pulling out a spool of very thin copper wire, some tin snips, and a butane lighter. He looks back over to Sylar as he walks over and sets those down, before opening up the first-aid box, which is all but empty save for a roll of medical tape, a nearly expended roll of gauze, and two square bandages along with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. "At first there seemed to be people who were immune to the virus — Me, Claire, and Adam. I guess there were a handful of other people who were incapable of being harmed by it as well, from genetic luck."

A dirty looking cloth is picked up off of the table, and Peter daubs some of the peroxide on it, and then begins pouring the rest on both sides of the gunshot wound. "You're lucky it went through," Peter murmurs as he pours the peroxide down Sylar's injury, dribbling down his chest and back, then down onto the table.

With that painful and sizzling application, Peter takes out the spool of wire and extends an inch of it, flicking the lighter with a few sparks before beginning to heat the pointed copper tip. "Eventually, even the people who were immune started to get sick. One of your people, Adam Monroe, the virus eventually mutated enough to take him. It was from Adam's strain, we think, that the worst version of the virus was able to spread. It didn't take long for it to spread." Peter turns to Sylar, setting down the lighter after the tip of copper is sufficiently steralized. "We isolated the beginning of the end to case of infection. A man who had become infected in India, it granted him the ability to teleport, and it went out of control. Edward thinks that's how the worst of it got started."

Sylar's head tilts back as purging pain seeps into the shoulder wound, letting out a ragged groan over Peter's words, as if the man were trying to steal some pleasure from what is in fact sizzling pain. He didn't like it much when Munin applied peroxide to a bullet wound in his side, and he likes it even less now as it scours a wound much messier. He turns a hazy look towards the wire that Peter is steralising, but doesn't complain. Can't complain. "Edward," he repeats. "Your scientist." It's prompt for an explanation. "Is he how I'm getting home?" He's not honestly sure how a scientist would help him unless time machines are, in fact, possible, perhaps designed out of toothpicks, but he has to ask. Because even if he's been pitched into uncertainty, he's certain of the fact that he wants to be anywhere but this future.

Peter's eyes shift over to Sylar's for just a moment, and then shifts into sliding that length of copper wire through his shoulder, twisting it with the tin snips, then loops it back around to slide back into the wound and begin tugging it shut. It's a grisly form of suturing, but it's likely supplies are limited. As Peter goes about the process of wiring Sylar shut, he quietly gives an explanation about Edward.

"He's more than a scientist." There's an uncertainty to Peter's tone, "He's a genius. He's lucky too, somehow avoided getting infected by the virus without having to take injections to suppress his power. I suggested that I might be able to survive as well, if I absorbed Edward's power — He seemed to think that wouldn't work at all." Peter's head tilts to the side, "Apparently Edward thinks just having it wouldn't do, without having the analytical mind to utilize it properly."

Eventually, Peter snips one end of the wiring closed, and folds it back on itself to keep it in place. It's not pretty, and it's a terrible long-term solution, but it will work for the time being. Reaching for the square gauze bandages in the box, Peter begins to cover up the wound on both sides, taping it in place. "Edward's going to see if it's even possible to send you back. There's… always complications with that sort've thing. If I could have just gone back and stopped it from happening, I would have tried to. It just — it's not that easy. Things get complicated, change, and things get worse…" Peter's gaze goes distant as he says that.

"I know exactly how to stop it," Sylar says, raising an eyebrow and not really looking at anything as pain rages in his shoulder. It's almost funny, how simple it would be - that is, if he can even get back, but he pushes that bitter concern aside. He will get back. Where there's a will, as the saying goes. "And it didn't occur to you," he says, now looking up at Peter, "that if I'm the one that lead the world into this, killing me would be the simplest option? You could have flicked the switch to that furnace and maybe this would have all gone away like a bad dream."

Peter's eyes lift up to Sylar, watching him for a few long moments, "That was the plan." There's a certain gravity to his words, no doubt or hesitation. "But then Edward recommended against it. I had no intentions of sending you anywhere other than a fiery death in a cell." Setting the gauze down into the box, Peter flips the lid closed and snaps it shut with a click of both latches. "Just your being here changes things, though. Changes everything, according to Edward. When I told him you were here, and what I was planning, he demanded that I let you live." Peter picks up the first-aid box and moves away from the table, setting it down on the cabinet by the sink, then walks to the door, leaving Sylar shirtless but bandaged. "Come on," He nods his head towards the doorway, "let's go meet your savior."

Confirmation. Had Peter said no… well Sylar isn't sure whether he'd be able to know if he was lying, but he likely could have guessed. The truth, as it comes out, causes the corner of Sylar's mouth to twitch in a smirk. He murdered two people within ten minutes of consciousness, Peter still wanted to send him to hell. Some things never change. He stands up, cradling his left arm in his right, and goes to follow. "What happened?" he suddenly asks as they start to walk. "The fight. The Bronx. How did it end?" The one thing he never was able to paint - who knew it was because he'd never even exist in that reality to see it? "What happened to…?" He trails off. To Peter. To Gillian. Up to Peter what he chooses to answer.

"I died." Peter steps out of the doorway with those words, out onto the catwalk. "Homeland Security showed up, a sniper killed my double that worked for the Company with a fifty-calibur bullet to the head. I took some rounds, went down, and was arrested. Apparently Matt Parkman doesn't fuck around." Peter stops, looking over his shoulder with a smirk. "The death of the double fucked me up mentally, I caved in and told them the truth about the bomb. That it wasn't you — that it was me. I helped them take down PARIAH."

Waiting until Sylar follows him to the catwalk, Peter stares down through the rusted grating at his feet vacantly. "After about a month I was taken to a special prison for the Evolved, and that's when I found out about the injection, first hand." He starts walking again, but the distance in his gaze doesn't fade. "The government started imprisoning people. Dangerous Evolved at first, then dissenters. The blood test to determine if you had a power came out right around the same time the virus started hitting…" He stops outside of the door to the room they had walked by on the way here, the one where the windows are covered by newspaper. "Everyone — PARIAH, PHOENIX, the Ferrymen… they all got rounded up over time. Some went down fighting, others got dragged in kicking and screaming." There's a moment of hesitation as Peter's eyes lift up to Sylar. "I met Gillian there again. The government found her, locked her up for working with one of those groups — not sure which. She — When the virus hit…" Peter turns around and starts walking back to Sylar, "Some people tried to escape, when the guards started thinning. Gillian got killed in the crossfire of the escape, her and Helena." That distant look comes back again. "I… guess they're lucky. They didn't live long enough to see the world die."

After all this time… Peter finally told at least some of the world the truth. And Sylar isn't even there anymore. If there is even a there anymore. The news comes as a surprise and he's not sure how he's meant to feel about it. Satisfied, perhaps. As the story continues, Sylar listens, brow furrowed and expression unreadable beyond simple comprehension, and his head tilts a little at the news of Gillian's death. Silence passes even once Peter is done talking, Sylar simply looking across at Peter as if through puzzling out the man standing opposite him, he'd be a better judge of his own reaction. It's not that he'd hadn't thought she'd been dead— he's swept her name with everyone else's into that category of ninety percent of the world— but to hear it reported so specifically, so differently than he imagined… "I guess so," Sylar agrees solemnly, eyes hooded. "She died fighting for herself." His shoulder twinges, as if reminding him of the reality - that somewhere, she's still alive and well and hates him. He snorts a little, bitterly. "Let's go."

There aren't words exchanged when Sylar's determination to keep going forward is spoken, only a quick brush of knuckles over the metal door, and then the creak of the knob. Peter pushes the door open, stepping inside of a room that looks remarkably familiar to Sylar, one he'd seen through the eyes of Mohinder Suresh so many months ago, when Peter unexpectedly and unknowingly saved his life.

"Doctor Ray?" Strings, strings everywhere. It's a macrocosm of the tiny map in Isaac Mendez's old loft. Hundreds, if not thousands of criss-crossing strings fill an enormous room lined with dry erase boards covered with newspaper clippings, chalk boards covered with mathematical notations, photographs, plastic baggies filled with dirt and buttons from a jacket. It's chaos.

At the center of the spider's web of strings stands a single and humble looking little man, short and slight of frame with receeding dark hair and a weak chin. He turns, only when Peter finally starts making his way in, not so much when his name is called out. "Oh," There's a bit of surprise as he adjusts his circular lensed glasses, making his large eyes look even larger than they are. "Good to see you didn't murder him, Mister Petrelli."

Peter meets those words with a snort, ducking under a thin line of chain amidst the strings with a blurry photograph hanging from it — Ethan. "I sewed him up, he should last a few more days as long as he stays down here." A few more days? "Here he is." Peter steps aside, motioning to the small, unassuming man in a brown sweater-vest. He shuffles over, expertly ducking under a few strings to get to where Sylar stands. It's only when he moves out of the way that Sylar sees the photograph that was behind him at the center of the string web, a black and white photograph of several men in uniforms of Nazi officers from World War II. One of them is Adam Monroe.

"It's an exceptional pleasure to meet you Mister Gray." A small hand is offered, out with enthusiasm, "I'm Doctor Edward Ray, and I'll be your road-map back home." His lips crook up into a smile, "Or at least a reasonable facsimile of home."

This place is almost overwhelming in the information it represents. There's a sense of pattern beneath the chaos that Sylar can sort of sense but he doesn't understand it the way he normally might. He stops at the door, head turning this way and that to follow the strings. Isaac's Loft all of again, only so much more complex. Finally, he gaze makes its trek towards the man in the center of things, and slowly, Sylar makes his way over, ducking over the strings, still glancing towards the photos that come into his vision— he pauses at the Ethan photo with that flash of recognition, before he resumes the short journey over.

A glance down at the doctor's hand, before it's clasped in his own. Someone with his face has screwed their future sideways and yet this will be the second time someone wanted to shake his hand. His grip is firm. "In that case I guess it's good to meet you too," he says, only a trace of doubt visible in his eyes, hand withdrawing again, coming around to again grip his bared left arm. His gaze slides over towards the black and white photograph, moving nearer to it and touching the edge. "Can't live through everything," he murmurs, almost to himself, before he's moving again— exploring? He reaches towards Ethan's photograph, mostly to gesture, looking back at the other two.

"What happened to this one?"

"Killed by Homeland Security." Blue eyes flick to the photograph, "He and several other members of Kazimir Volken's group." Edward turns and maneuvers his way back into the strings, "They were leading two freight trucks to Nevada when they were ambushed by Homeland Security. The truck was full of weapons, they were unaware that a concealed storage chamber contained infected Evolved. It was all a rather elaborate part of Volken's plan to divert attention away from the true beginning of the infection. He pulled a Houdini."

Edward arrives back at the center of the room, clearing one chalk-board of equations and charts with an eraser. "They were decoys, all five of them." Edward draws a line on the chalk board, humming to himself as a circle is added to each end, one labeled "A" the other labeled "B."

Peter fades back up against the wall, folding his arms over his chest and lowering his head as Edward continues to prattle on, "You're wondering why I'm not calling you Kazimir, aren't you Mister Gray?" He looks back over his shoulder, "Why I didn't let Peter burn you alive?" One brow raises, and a hand holding a piece of chalk motions over to the black and white photograph. "That is why, Mister Gray."

Sylar moves back towards the black and white photo now, slanting Edward a sharp glance when he asks that question. He nods once, in acknowledgment that yes, there's a lot to question over such a decision. Logic says that if he dies… the world is saved. He looks towards the photo as if expecting to see an answer there when Edward gestures towards it. No face is familiar to him, only Monroe's, and a frown of confusion tugs at his mouth. "I don't understand," he admits, a hand coming out to pluck the photo from the string.

"Do you see the man seated to the right of Adam Monroe?" Edward doesn't look back, only beginning to write out a small equation beneath the line and circles, "He was a scientist working for the Nazi party, specializing in the research of "ubermensch," or as we would call them today, the Evolved." Edward pauses, looking over to Sylar with his head tilted to one side. "He began what is believed to be the easliest recorded research into the Evolved, and abandoned the Nazi party shortly before the end of World War II, finding amnesty with the American government in exchange for his scientific understanding. According to records obtained from the FBI," Edward places his chalk down on a tray at the chalk board, "He died in the 1950's." There's a pause, and a faint, crooked smile slips across the small man's lips.

"His name was Kazimir Volken."


Previously in this storyline…
Days of Futures Past

Next in this storyline…
The Butterfly Effect

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