When Lightning Strikes, Part III

Participants:

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Also with appearances by…

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Scene Title When Lightning Strikes, Part III
Synopsis Even as Phoenix and its allies undertake a jailbreak in 2009, eight prisoners of the same facility in 2019 arrange for their own escape. One person with the ability to manipulate space and time stitches the two moments together, offering an opportunity that simply cannot be passed by…
Date April 7, 2009 (with a brief foray to the same day in 2019)

Moab Federal Penitentiary


For years, Moab Federal Penitentiary has been the very embodiment of a smoothly running machine's staid routine. Aside from the rare new arrival, each and every day has followed the exact same pattern. The view is always the same. The choice of activities is always the same. The meals are… pretty much always the same. Inmates and staff alike see only the same passel of faces — if they get to see any faces at all.

Today, Moab Federal Penitentiary has become a madhouse.

All order, all routine, has been totally and utterly destroyed — and the facility itself lies in a shambles, its decade of proud strength humbled to a ruin in less than ten minutes. Klaxons blare monotonous warnings at ear-shattering volume. Walls lie in broken heaps, while others bear the scars of blunt impact. Bodies litter the floor — some very definitely dead, some perhaps still alive, though the dim red emergency lights which provide the prison's sole illumination at present leave much to the imagination. Concrete dust chokes the air, and beneath the resounding alarms can be heard the joyous frenzy of long-constrained men and women abruptly and unexpectedly restored to freedom.

In the midst of all this chaos is a strangely quiet corner, a loose gathering of men — and one woman — on the mezzanine of Green Level. A translucent silver dome suddenly comes into being over the balcony like some rigid veil, shielding nothing from sight but preventing any of the loose cannons that are their fellow former inmates from intruding upon the little palaver. Most regard one another with wary uncertainty, allies forced together by circumstance and conspiracy, trust as of yet a lacking commodity.

One stands that bit farther apart which suggests he arrived here first, watching the other six with a knowing gleam in his pale eyes. "Everyone's here, and in good time. This is excellent. But I'm afraid introductions shall have to wait just a little longer."

Dr. Edward Ray turns his attention towards the floor below the mezzanine, and an invisible clock reaches the count of ten minutes.

"-op!" Following a schedule that is not his own, a Japanese man all dressed in black with sword in hand appears as if out of nowhere, left hand outstretched in a motion clearly meant to gesture Stop. The sword is lowered and held to his side in his right.

Hiro Nakamura looks very surprised to be here. And by here the place is not the surprise. It's the time.

Truth to tell, he has no idea when he is yet. It's not like there are handy little timestamps on all the rocks and sights and sounds around him. The klaxons don't sound off with the year and date. Head darting left first and then right, Hiro stands up straighter and lets the Kensei Sword's blade come to rest with the heel of the blade against his right shoulder. And he sighs. There is more wrong here than just the warnings going off and all the bodies. The bodies! Without any special hurry Hiro kneels next to one that looks more or less intact and checks it for a pulse.

"Right on time," Dr. Ray murmurs, as one Hiro Nakamura blinks into existence below them. "Mr. Doyle, if you could do me the courtesy of holding him still, I would greatly appreciate it — as will the rest of our friends." Only then does Edward turn back to his fellow escapees, horizontal sweep of his arm summoning them up to the mezzanine's rail. "Ms. Silver, you can lower the forcefield now. We won't be staying long enough to need it."

April isn't entirely convinced of this, at least if the dubious look she shoots Edward is any indication, but she does as directed. The silver veil shimmers out of existence; the woman then hesitates briefly before moving towards the rail.

Two others follow.

One, a man composed of scored and pitted iron, the marks on his metallic surface suggesting damage that would have killed anyone merely made of flesh; his features were once well-known, plastered all over the media with the title President-Elect and the name Allen Rickham. His feet leave definite indentations in the concrete floor as he walks.

The other, quieter in his movement, has his arms wrapped around a small black box, recognizable as a computer system. His eyes flicker between each of his compatriots in turn, uncertain, but John takes his place at the rail and looks down upon the lone Japanese warrior standing amidst the wreckage of Green Level, floor one.

It started a few days ago. Very slowly. The return of Niles Wight's power was like the sudden regeneration of a lost limb. The sensation was alien at first. A few small tests confirmed that his power had indeed been restored - though not to full capacity. For some strange reason, the man who trusts no one chose to trust the note he received. It took all his self-control not to use his power on the first fleshy thing that passed by. So he waited. He has learned to be a patient man.

It is only in the minutes before the jailbreak that he feels his power restored to full capacity. And in that moment, something that had lain dormant for ten years wakes. The murder and chaos that followed was a thing of beauty. Joy in death. Corpses lie sizzling at the feet of his duplicates all across Green Level. Some are merely burnt badly by electricity. A few, the ones who have been longtime employees of Moab had their hearts brutally short-circuited by a spectre of Niles. Shimmering hands were plunged into their chests and they singed from the inside out. The scents of burnt flesh and rogue ions linger in the air.

Now he stands on the mezzanine, hands literally clean, but figuratively drenched in blood. The man stands straight and tall, proud despite years of incarceration. Watchful eyes scan the faces of the others in turn as he searches his memory for information on them. He comes up dry, save niggling touches of familiarity from brief moments of crossed paths in this Utah hellhole.

It's Edward that gets the bulk of his attention. Niles' jaw clenches and so do his fists. He has to bite down on the urge to fry them all, to assault them with facets of himself too long contained. But he contains that spark to his eyes.

When others approach, there is a faint crackling around Niles' aura. Duplicates ready to leap out and attack like vicious dogs on a leash. "So…" he takes a half-step towards Edward, then tilts his head, birdlike, towards the man with the sword. A quick head-jerk and raised brows, and his attention is back on Edward. "Will you explain now?"

"Oh, look. I can see my house from here." The words, spoken in ash-dry deadpan, spill from the ever so faintly-smiling lips of one of those few refugees that stands upon the mezzanine; a thick neck craning as he looks over the edge past a veil of filmy silver light to the unleashed bedlam of Moab below. The sudden flash of light off a sword's blade draws his gaze to the Japanese man, and that smile curves just a bit wider.

There were guards here, once, stationed all the way from his cell at Red Level all the way up to the mezzanine here. Many of them died not from the heat of a pyrokinetic, not from telekinetic impact or a life-eater's deadly touch, but by the weapons of their fellows. Two guards kneel facing each other, weapons discarded, hands on each other's throats keeping oxygen from getting to their systems, staring at each other in horror as their worlds grow increasingly black. A guards' breakroom is spattered with crimson, one man standing by the door still clicking on empty chambers at the bodies of his friends and co-workers, unable to scream despite his best efforts. A macabre puppet show of blood and carnage that marks the unleashed Eric Doyle's trail through the prison.

The puppeteer's hand lifts from where it's resting on the rail as the man that called them there speaks, his voice quiet as he observes in a thoughtful and just-audible murmuring, "I do hope you intend to fulfill your end of the bargain, mystery man. Mm. I've always adored bunraku." The man's ability connects to the Japanese warrior below like unseen strings winding through him — strings which are suddenly jerked taut with that lifting of his hand to co-opt muscles, tissue and bone to pull Hiro up from his checking of a man's pulse. To unbend his knees and pull him to his full height, arms swept out like a crucifixion. The hand bearing a sword tugged by his power to sweep in a formal gesture, waist seeking to bend in a graceful bow like a puppet being shown off.

A hallway, hovering over the crumpled bodies of a massacre, an elevator shaft, than several feet upwards to touch down on the balcony, Nathan Petrelli has since been silent since his arrival, watching Edward Ray with a kind of shellshocked wariness that only comes from glorious prospects like freedom in the middle of carnage. He's changed since the last anyone saw him. Dark hair has turned to an ashen, silvery gray, grown out and wild from his flight, and a smattering of beard of the same colour lines his jaw and throat.

It's Rickham that gets his attention, the metal mimic having shown himself as one robotic, unstoppable force, crumpling in his door and wordlessly moving away to break more things. Now, he gets the former President's study and a slight, humourless smirk. They have a lot in common.

Then, it's the appearance of Hiro that moves Nathan to, well— move. Stepping towards the edge of the balcony, he grasps the railing and peers down towards where the time traveler is rendered immobile under Doyle's control, the puppeteer getting a vaguely alarmed look before he settles something more serious on the familiar figure down below. "Jesus Christ," he sighs out, barely audible, voice graveled and rasped, before looking over his shoulder towards Ray.

With an audible "Hurk!" Hiro finds himself unable to protest the sudden and ridiculous thing happening to him, handled like some sort of full-body marionette. It's like a finely controlled seizure, although he cannot remember ever having a seizure before. He's never seen these people before. This metal man. This man speaking to him making demands. The…the Flying Man. There is a measure of true surprise in Hiro's eyes to see Nathan here, in what is obviously a future. And the Moab Penitentiary!

So far Hiro's vocal apparatus doesn't seem to have been seized, so he responds, "Let me go." Which is probably about the most futile thing he could've said. As if anyone in this situation has any intention of letting him go.

Edward regards his impatient compatriots levelly, the not-quite-spoken threats sliding off his composure with about as much impact as drops of oil in water. "I promised you your lives, your freedom, your futures returned." Pale eyes gleam, the professor's lips drawing up in a small, pleased smile. "I always fulfill my promises."

Turning back to the puppeted time-traveler, Edward addresses him with a politeness utterly out of place in the dark, disordered atmosphere of a ruined prison. "I apologize for the imposition, Mr. Nakamura," he calls down, "but we really have no other option." Though Edward continues to regard Hiro, his next statement is meant more for the puppeteer. "Take us to New York City, please. Brooklyn.

"In the year 2009."

Niles is getting impatient. He is free, he has his powers again. And he wants to use it. It's like this thing crawling around inside him, desperate to be unleashed. It makes his spine arch and his fingers curl. I could just kill them all. Kill them and run from this place.
But he might not make it. And from the looks of the fellows gathered, it might not be such an easy matter to subdue this particular crowd. So he stands, silent.

When Edward makes demands of Hiro and the sword-bearing man is jerked by Doyle, his interest is piqued. The two words he speaks clip off the end of his tongue. "Time travel." A highly diluted British accent flavours the words. He turns to Edward. "Just what are you up to?" The tiniest of smiles appears.

"Why is that always the first thing that anyone says," inquires Doyle in rather bored-sounding tones as he gazes over the rail to the protesting man below, shoulders rising as he draws in a breath, and then exhales it in a disappointed sigh, "Really. All this time and nobody's developed a whit of creativity."

Then the orders spoken cause him to pause, looking over to the doctor with lips parted to say something. Then they curve in a slow and pleased smile, eyes glinting as he murmurs, "Oh, now this should be interesting."

A sharp gesture of his hand twists unseen threads that go beyond the physical, subtle biochemistries boiling to activate genetic potential. One moment, Hiro stands on the floor below amongst the bodies of the fallen. The next, he stands amongst them. Eric steps along over with a grand sweep of one hand, catching the Japanese man's whose is forced to do the same, then leading him in a dramatic bow in perfect synchronicity. "Ladies and gentlemen," he declares jovially as he straightens, "For my next trick… well, gather 'round, gather 'round." A dark smile, brows raising as he leans forward a bit, "I promise, you won't want to miss it."

"He's getting us out've here," Nathan says, a side remark muttered to Niles as he turns from the railing to view Hiro's sudden materialising on the balcony amongst them. The former President's back straightens almost in time with the way Hiro is forced to bow under the strings of Doyle's puppetry, and he can feel some of that moral indignation, those more volatile emotions that get beaten out of you from years of incarceration, stir up. Like an old dog getting prodded awake.

The silver haired man finds himself snapping in Doyle's direction, "Quit it." Nathan is good at doing what's necessary — or at least, what's necessary in his book — and what's unnecessary is enough to rankle him. Perhaps what sets him a little apart from this group — he's no psychopath like so many of the inmates. He's just hidden in the darkest place Peter knows to bury him. But that old anger dies, giving way to weariness and grim determination to get out of this hellhole. His gaze seeks out Hiro's, if only for a moment, before he's looking past the Japanese man towards Ray. "Whatever this is, let's get it over with."

Brooklyn, 2009. Hiro tries to move without a flinch to show for his efforts. He tries to teleport under his OWN control, tries to stop time, tries to side-step dimensions one planck-distance so he's invisible here but still able to see what's going on, tries to jump any different way he can, but he knows as an instinct that the only jump he can make and is about to make whether he likes it or not is to go to Brooklyn in 2009 and to take these people with him.

The way Hiro looks at the others is mostly a lack of recognition but an effort to burn them into his memory. The way he looks at Nathan is tinged with betrayal.

Hands held, physical contact is made and Hiro effortlessly pulls the entire group through the spacetime continuum to exactly when and where they want to go. It's an on open street, beneath a street lamp at night. No obvious witnesses here.


Textile Factory 17, Red Hook, Brooklyn


New York City. Brooklyn. 2009. The seven escapees (plus one computer) and a hijacked time-traveler find themselves near the banks of the Hudson River, in what is recognizably an industrial district. An old one, the seven buildings immediately surrounding them built from red brick in a style well out of date. Tall fencing and a heavy, chain-secured gate surrounds the property; a sign fallen over on its side crookedly proclaims this Textile Factory 17.

Edward moves two steps away from the knot of people, surveying their surroundings with visible satisfaction. "This will do marvelously. A very good choice, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Nakamura." Facing the others once more, that gleam in the eyes, that thin, close-lipped smile, returns. "One last thing. I'm afraid Mr. Nakamura will see no choice but to… interfere with our work, and we simply cannot have this.

"Mr. Doe." The professor looks to the quiet man holding a computer against his chest. "I want you to exchange Mr. Nakamura's ability with that of Mr. Petrelli, and then you— " Pale eyes shift to regard Nathan. "— can send Mr. Nakamura somewhere far away where he won't… cause any trouble."

John blinks as he is addressed, gaze flicking between Edward, Nathan, and Hiro, his expression rather like that of a deer caught in the headlights of a car. "You— But— I…" A beat. "Um. Can you…?" John turns to April, passing to her the computer he had tucked under one arm for teleporting, then steps forward to where he can reach out to both Hiro and Nathan. "I'm sorry." As he summons his power, a crimson film drops over John's eyes, red-hued static crackling in the space between his hands and the two whose abilities are to be exchanged.

It doesn't matter that they've been teleported to a desolate part of the city, or that the year is wrong. Niles fills his lungs with the putrid air of New York City like a man inhaling the scent of a spring meadow. That is the smell of freedom. Ten years in Moab — his youth stolen, his life locked away while the world outside passed into a delicate utopia. He resists the urge to go charging off. Instead, he stands with feet planted, familiar yet alien feeling of his power crackling from his solar plexus.

"Well now. Aren't we a devious one." He seems quite pleased by Edward's wheeling and dealing with the fabric of time. His attention goes to the man with power-swapping abilities, and to the time-travelling swordsman. For now, he'll watch and absorb.

A deep breath is drawn in, and then exhaled in an expressive and contented sigh from Eric Doyle's lips, one hand raising up to rub against his stubble-shadowed jawline, lips pursing in a secret little smile as he looks up to the skies. "It's been a long time," he murmurs to himself, entirely seeming unconscious of the fact that Hiro's being forced to imitate his every move. The order from the professor, though, causes him to lock the Japanese man's movements down with a sharp curl of his fingers inward — and he takes a purposeful step back, and to one side.

The puppeteer's brow furrows slightly as the pair are… exchanged? Swapped? He looks just a touch uneasy, slanting a look to Day, a smirk curling to his lips, "So. I think we deserve some answers now, hm? We're about ten years safe."

Good to be home. Dr. Ray's order for John gets an almost blank look from Nathan, conflict roiling for a moment in a way that doesn't at all show, jaw tight and eyes narrowed. But in the end, he does nothing, letting the ability to fly slip away in favour of something infinitely more complex. His body stiffens under the crackling, red glow of John Doe's power, flinching just a little, but it's done.

And now it's his turn. Looking down at his hands, there's a moment of reflection before Nathan is moving forward, putting a hand on Hiro's arm in an almost comradely gesture. "I'm sorry, Hiro," he says, tone regretful. This is his chance. Pinehearst. His family. His career. Everything. It can all be changed.

As easy as take off, Hiro suddenly disappears from the industrial setting to somewhere a little… warmer, and Nathan withdraws his hand from empty air, tips his head back a little to glance up at smoggy, New York sky. Chemical, pollution, the scents and noise of the city just as her remembers it. It's a small price to pay, really, your soul, when it comes to freedom.

Hiro's eyes are on Nathan for this entire exchange. His powers being 'switched'? With the Flying Man? At least he'll know what he's getting, but what he's giving up suddenly seems to be falling into exactly the wrong hands. Though he probably could speak if he tried, Hiro says nothing. Simply stares at Nathan with accusing eyes as the deed is done and he is Sent.

Here concludes Volume V: Nadir

The first change everyone notices is the smell. That's how Hiro sees it anyway. When you go to a new place it's the air you breathe that's so radically different, and the scent of urban landscape immediately gets replaced with overbearing humid heat and the sweet hammer of vegetation and soil. It's dark, but yet it's daytime because Hiro can see the sun dappling through a leafy canopy. If he's still in the same time period (no guarantee of that though), it would mean he's on the other side of the world since New York is in night time.

The relief is that Hiro can move freely again, and he takes a moment to slowly put the Kensei Sword back in its scabbard where it belongs. To have his abilities gone seems too hard to believe just now, so he tries to use them.

He tries, and tries. And even squints his eyes closed, willing himself to Be Elsewhere. It's working. He can feel it. He feels it until something hits him on the head and elicits a brief, "Uck." of pain as he opens his eyes and reaches up at the tree branch that's clubbed him in the head.

Then he looks down and notices he's about twenty feet off of the jungle floor. "Oh shh…"

Volume VI: A Sound of Thunder


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This scene occurs concurrently (more or less) with
When Lightning Strikes, Part I
and
When Lightning Strikes, Part II

This concludes the 'Stormfront' storyline.

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