A Feast Of Ashes


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Scene Title A Feast of Ashes
Synopsis A family is reunited, and torn apart again.
Date November 8, 2011

It’s been a long day, in the matter of minutes and moments.

Less than two hours ago, Matt Parkman retrieved Claire Bennet and Lieutenant Curtis Autumn from Midland Texas, but the journey from here to there was anything other than conventional. Thanks to the efforts of Parkman’s connections at the Institute, he was able to call on the assistance of Agent Lucas Eldridge to teleport the trio from Texas to the command center of Colonel Leon Heller on Staten Island. From there, the three were escorted from Staten Island to Manhattan in an armored Presidential limousine.

But traffic in Manhattan is congested today, making the drive from Miller Airfield on Staten Island all the longer. It took nearly an hour to get across the island, past three security checkpoints, and to the parking complex below 140 Riverside Drive in the Upper West Side — the Petrelli Manor. The underground parking garage provides some measure of security against prying eyes, against conspiracies failing. Neither of Matt Parkman’s passengers may yet realize, but they’re a part of one.

When the limousine stops in the underground parking area, Matt slips out of the front passenger’s seat and circles around back, opening the door for Curtis and Claire. “Claire,” Matt greets deferentially in front of the driver. But the conspiracy of three is concealed behind the veneer of telepathic indiscretion.

Curtis, I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Parkman explains as he helps Claire out of the back of the limo and then allows space enough for Curtis to step out himself. I know you don’t have a lot of reason to, but I need you to trust me right now. I don’t know if— I don’t know. The President’s been acting strange the last few weeks, avoiding me. Hiding something. Pressuring me to find Claire, and he hasn’t cared to find her for years.

Closing the door once both passengers are out, Matt circles around to the back and waves off the driver. “Oh, no thanks, I’ve got it. Can you just pop the trunk? I left a tip in the cup holder.” Matt manages an affable smile with a small wave, then waits for the audible clunk of the trunk.

After what went down with Carmichael, I’ve been questioning things more. Rupert was a government agent, Ash. That was all pulled from the inside. It’s — unconscionably illegal. Whether Mr. Petrelli was in on it, or if this is something else I… just have a bad feeling. Too much is happening today. Too much that Matt can’t share.

When he opens the trunk, there’s a hard and heavy black suitcase inside containing 175 lbs of Horizon Armor. “Your suitcase, Lieutenant,” Matt doesn’t make a fool of himself trying to haul the massive case out. Instead, he just pulls Claire’s backpack out and offers it to her. Act angry. Act normal. Matt urges her, offering a look to the limo driver as he ducks back into the driver’s seat of the car. “Alright, thank you for your assistance Lieutenant Autumn. If you take the stairs there,” Matt motions to an emergency stairwell, “that will take you out to the street. There should be a cab waiting for you.” There is, but Curtis Autumn will never enter it.

Once you get into the stairwell there won’t be any cameras. Change into your Horizon Armor and head up to the fifth floor and wait for my signal — if it comes. I don’t know what to expect here, but the hair on the back of my neck has been standing up all day and it feels like I’m being played. Matt reaches into his jacket and retrieves a cell phone, pressing one of the speed-dial buttons as he escorts Claire toward the elevator, and gives one polite nod to Curtis.

“Hi Molly, it’s me. Yeah— yeah, no I know. I’m going to be late. I— honey, honey could you turn the music down?” Matt offers a sidelong look to Claire, then cracks an awkward smile. “Yeah, ok. I’ll be home tonight, dinner’s in the fridge. Don’t go anywhere, ok?” Matt steps over to the elevator, pushing the call button. “I— oh, I know. No, Mohinder’s busy. He’s— yeah, we’ll get together for dinner together soon. I promise.” Matt looks to Claire, brows furrowed. “I love you too, kiddo. See you soon.”

As Matt ends the call, the elevator doors open. He gives one last, fleeting look to Curtis, and then guides Claire inside.

The Petrelli Mansion

Upper West Side, Manhattan

Emerging from the elevator, Matt Parkman is a stoic, silent guardian for a perfectly angry Claire Bennet. The only consolation she’s been given in all of this, was time to change out of her work clothes before they left the diner. But here, now, surrounded by the wealthy opulence of the President’s New York home, she feels small and humbled. A white marble statue of a woman perched on a rock looms over her as she walks down the tiled floor towards an open door waiting at the end of the hall.

A black-suited secret service agent meets Parkman halfway. “Mister Parkman,” he explains with a tilt of his head to the side. “Thank you for your service, we’ll take it from here.” Matt looks to Claire, then the agent and offers an apologetic smile.

“Sorry I— who were you again? I thought I’d met most of the President’s detail.” Matt’s tone is incredulous, a bead of sweat forms by his hairline at his temple. The agent offers a wan smile and gives Matt a wordless stare. “Right, well— give the President my regards, and let him know he still owes me that debriefing from last month!” Matt jokes, cracking a smile and trying to pretend it’s all casual.

He rests a hand against Claire’s back and urges her forward. I won’t be far. Whatever it is Matt’s planning, it’s making him uncomfortable. He briefly tries to scan the mind of the secret service agent as he hands off Claire, gets a pang of panic and compulsion in his subconsciousness. Matt’s smile doesn’t extend to his eyes, because all of this feels too familiar.

The secret service agent wordlessly leads Claire the rest of the way down the hall, past oil paintings of baroque architecture, ships tossed at sea, and landscapes. Then, through a pair of double oaken doors into a well-appointed study. Bookshelves line the walls, filled with encyclopedic texts of science, medicine, and geography that were more Arthur Petrelli’s passions than anyone else’s. She’s left there, to wait. For her father.

Moving over by a fireplace, Claire finds photographs of the Petrellis in happier times. Nathan and Peter kneeling by a stream together with Arthur standing behind them holding a fish. Angela looking wistful in a candid photograph as she stares out a window. But a voice emerges from the back, from a doorway beyond Claire’s peripheral vision.

“I thought you were dead.” It’s Nathan.


Claire turns, and there he stands, his suit navy blue and his tie a Presidential red. He closes the distance to her eagerly, one hand coming up to rest at her shoulder. Claire’s eyes briefly divert to the touch, then back up.

“You have no idea how important you are to me, Claire.” There’s a truth to Nathan’s words, she has no idea. But Claire stays the part, plays coy in spite of PARIAH, MESSIAH, Operation: Apollo, and all of the other masks she’s worn.

“I'm not important,” is a lie Claire’s tried to convince her of all her life. “I'm just a waitress.”

“We both know that isn't true,” Nathan replies, pulling her into his embrace and gently resting his mouth atop her hair. Claire feels tense in the moment, feels prickling sensations of nerves creeping up the back of her neck.

She pulls away, looks up at him furiously. “You made everyone afraid of us.”

“I made everyone aware of us,” is Nathan’s immediate retort. “Fear is just the natural response. You can't blame them, really. We're more powerful than they are.” His eyes lock on hers, “More important. We're special.”

Claire can feel something in the back of her neck, a tightness, a fear response she never had when she was possessed of her ability. “Who are you to decide who's special and who's not?” She steps around Nathan, moving toward an open door to get some space, but he swiftly reaches out and grabs her arm, tightly.

“I'm the leader of the free world,” Nathan responds with a level, gravelly tone of voice. His grip on her arm tightens, and Claire stares up at him with that knot of fear in the back of her mind growing.

“For all I know, I'm the most special person there is.” Something about the way Nathan says that sends a chill down Claire’s spine. “Lord knows I found enough power. Met a lot of special people. Like this man named Stephen Borrowdale who allowed me to become President.” Claire starts to tremble, there’s something in Nathan’s voice, something harrowingly familiar bleeding through. “But I'm done. I just want to eliminate the competition. I don't need any more power— especially not after you.

Jerking her arm out of Nathan’s hand, Claire breaks into a sprint away, but suddenly feels herself pulled back by a hook of force inside the middle of her body. She freezes, back rigid, and behind her Nathan slowly raises one hand with a finger pointed at her. There’s a shearing sound, flesh and bone beginning to split as a line of blood runs down Claire’s brow.


Sylar.” Claire whispers, and she feels fear unlike any she’s ever had before. Behind her, Nathan’s appearance shifts within his suit, brows thicken, nose becomes more prominent, eyes darken.

“I've waited a long time for this…” Sylar practically purrs the words out.

Curtis does as instructed. He's mostly quiet during the telepathic communications, just speaking up to acknowledge what is said. And to ask Parkman to keep the line open so to speak. He's not sure if that's a thing but hey, he asks for it. Though there's no disguising the flare of anger when he's told that Rupert was a government agent. There will definitely be a string of choice words that run through his mind at that revelation. Once in the stairwell he pulls his armor on. A little more difficult without the techs there to assist him, but he gets it done, and gets it done as fast as he can while making sure it's all on correctly. Once he's properly dressed he makes his way up the stairwell to the fifth floor as instructed, slipping his helmet on, and then… waiting, nothing but his own breath in his ears and the steady thump of his heart. I hope you know what you're doing Parkman.

And there he waits. The literal cavalry ready to storm inside and save the day. Silence breeds ill thoughts though, and he's left to seethe on the knowledge that Rupe was government. A pawn. Always a pawn he realizes as he thinks on that, putting together the formation of Messiah with Rupe's status as a government agent. Parkman… did Carmichael form Messiah to give the government a reason to crack down on us? Nevermind… I answered myself with my question. He sits, and he waits, and he stews, his anger at his own government growing, building moment by moment, blurring the lines between Ash and Curtis within his mind.

Then the call comes. The hammering of his heart grows louder until it's all he hears. He stands with a soft whine of servos from the armor and takes only a few steps back before lowering his shoulder and shoving his weight forwards, three deep sprinting strides that plow him not into the wall but through it. There's an explosion of plaster, drywall and splintered wood that goes careening into the room beyond him. He skids to a halt, digging his heels in before he carries on through the outer wall and turns, his eyes taking in the scene in front of him. There's only a moment's hesitation before he's moving again, barreling towards the pair.


He leaves his weapons slung, there's too great a chance he'll hit Claire. "SHE DOESN'T HAVE HER POWERS!" He bellows out of the sound system on his suit, the gain turned up to maximum. Enough to be heard across a city block. Enough to fill the whole damn mansion with the sound of a pissed off Lieutenant Curtis Autumn's voice. He's trying to get Sylar to stop before he gets any further. "SYLAR!!!" He bellows out as he reaches for Claire, time all but frozen in his mind, each step taking an eternity as he watches blood roll down Claire's face, his anger mounting each and every second. But his focus isn't on the man behind her, it's on Claire, his eyes hidden by the mask of his Horizon suit, but they are glued to hers as he races to try and save her.

For a blessed moment, the only sounds in the room are Claire's terrified whisper, his own self-satisfied purr of words at the back of his throat, and the shrill whine of bone being sliced through. To her, it must feel like a golden crown of immense heat and pressure, the run of fresh blood cool by comparison.

So close. The solution, the last meal, the final piece to the puzzle, the final step towards the top of the food chain.

As Curtis crashes in, he'll see Claire standing, stiff as a mannequin, motor control seized up her spine, muscles pulled taut as if on strings. He'll see Sylar behind her, a wilder figure than the perfectly tailored silhouette of the President of the United States; dark circles under his eyes stand out like bruises, his lips pulled back to show white teeth in a snarl, dark hair clinging to the sweaty sheen of his forehead. Brown eyes twitch focus to the sudden cacophony crashing through the wall, and pure anger blots out the detail.

Concentration splits, and Claire is released — but only in the sense that she suddenly collapses, as if those strings holding her in place had changed direction, pulling her towards the centre of the earth. The pressure gives a moment later, reclaiming her own muscles, as concussive force ripples through the air over her, tossing her hair. Around them, framed pictures spin off the walls, and delicate ornaments shatter. Furniture heaves backwards, the gunshot sound ringing in the air.

Which, for Curtis, means he gets the full of it: a sudden wall of force that slams into him bodily, his armor taking the worst of it while he crashes backwards.

It’s all a blur once the sensation of having her head sliced open starts, tears slide down her cheeks, mixing with the thick blood as it oozes over her features slowly. Then before she knows it, Claire Bennet is on the ground, the sudden jarring of her head brings a blossom of pain with it as nerve endings finally catch up to Sylar’s work.

A sound of pain – a whimper deep in her throat – catches as she clutches at her head for a moment, the sensation of the thick and sticky ruby wetness sliding over her fingers. Then she realizes that she can move again and that she’s laying on rubble from Curtis’ entrance.


Her head comes up at the thought, feeling a mix of worry and hope, to see him standing there. Claire cries out his name as he is hit by the concussion wave. “NO!” Despite the pain, the young woman tries to get to her feet again, spotting the fireplace pokers strewn across the floor.

The blast sends Curtis flying backwards as though he were hit by a truck. Every forward-facing piece of Horizon Armor stiffens on the impact and spreads the force of the blow out across their surface. A battery pack explodes from the overload, sending a shower of lithium-pink sparks from the small of the soldier’s back. He collides with the floor, breaking the hardwood planks and tumbling end over end until he slams into the nearby wall, splitting the plaster around his back and shoulders.

The visor of Curtis’ helmet is cracked in a straight vertical line. All of the internal computer systems go dark. Targeting, comms, vitals, all snuffed out by the overload. But Curtis is barely staggered, driven by adrenaline and physical perfection he levers himself up into a standing position again, ready to do this all day if need be. However long all day would be against none other than Sylar.

At that same moment the double doors to the office push open, allowing a slithering cloud of smoke and ashes to roll across the floor. The cloud of supernatural soot bubbles upwards into an ambulatory column that has a vague suggestion of a face in it. It turns, looks to Curtis, and makes a high-pitched whistling sound that has an unusually soporific effect, removing the tension from Curtis’ muscles and leaving him slack within a suit that supports his weight with hydraulic exoskeleton.

The ash peels away like a shroud from the disheveled form of a gray-haired old man with a wild, scraggly beard and a long, knife-like face. His clothes are dirty and stained, buttoned incorrectly and look mismatched in the way someone who gets their clothes from dumpsters may. “Look at you,” the old man grumbles, for a moment staring proudly at Sylar in the way a father would to a son.

The expression is appropriate.


As the wizened old man proudly enunciates “My boy,” it elicits a pang of dread. Multi-ability expression, the age difference, that sentence. Curtis and Claire don’t have to do much mental math to figure out what’s happening. Who that is. Perhaps they hunt in packs. Samson Gray wouldn’t mind that, all things considered.

“There’s another one behind that wall,” Samson says with a raise of bushy brows, “hiding,” he adds with the crack of a smile, as though he were discussing that there’s eggrolls at the buffet. But then as Samson reaches out with Wendy Hunter’s ability, feels for the other powers in the room, something wrong gnaws at the back of his mind. He stares, momentarily, at Sylar with a look that someone might give to an unexpected house guest.

Tired old eyes narrow. Samson’s anesthetic grip on Curtis loosens, returns sensation to his extremities. “What’m I looking at right now?” Samson asks with a tilt of his head to the side.

A lot happens at once. A whole hell of a lot. Curtis watches Claire collapse towards the floor and snarls, the sound echoed over the suit's speaker system, the snarl turning into a roar of anger, like a wild animal that's been caged and has just been let loose. Curtis hasn't truly cut loose in quite some time. Of course his fury is stymied quite quickly when a damned truck's worth of kinetic power blasts him backwards, sending him ass over tea kettle through the air. Like an action figure that's been tossed across the room for dramatic effect. There's a hard grunt and then of all things a smile from the soldier cum terrorist cum soldier again.

Curtis rolls his shoulders with a creak of tortured timber and the patter of broken plaster raining down on the floor as he pushes himself up out of the wall and back to a standing position. "Allright that is… en…." He wavers on his feet a bit, but the suit supports him, holding him upright when his body relaxes. His still helmeted head can be seen shaking slowly as he tries to clear his mind of the sudden drowsiness. "Awww fuck…." Is the slurred sleepy curse that leaves Curtis mouth as his mind puts two and two together and gets one earth shattering four.

There is no time wasted, as feeling comes back into his limbs and the sudden onset sleepiness fades Curtis pushes into action. He lurches to his right, picking up not a board, or a pipe or anything of that nature. No, he grabs a couch, and throws all of his hydraulic and personal strength behind throwing that thing at Samson Gray's fucking head. He hurls it through the air, and then follows just behind it, his heavy armored footsteps pounding on the floor as he charges once more towards Gabriel. Sylar. "Sylar! We were allies! What are you doing?!" He shouts at the man, sounding as confused as he really is. The last time he saw Sylar was when they were both part of Messiah after all.


This from Sylar, barked out on instinct, flinging a hand out to once again slam a moving target with that wall of energy — this time, the couch being flung for the man that's appeared out of the sooty mass that coagulated through the doors. It's less super powered than it was before, barely clipping its trajectory, sending it spinning, and Sylar staggers a step after it. Confusion at literally everything happening writes lines at his brow, dark stare scraping over each face and coming to settle on Samson's, momentarily dumbfounded by the look he's being given before he collects his wits.

His lips pull back into a yellow-toothed snarl, much like if one predator were to encounter another, in the midst of its hunt.

Or meal. "They're mine," comes out just as animal. From what Curtis may remember of Gabriel Gray, beyond all his talents, a distinctive profile, a penchant for violence, there is a raw edge to the man now he might not recognise. As Curtis charges him, he— passes through, as though Sylar were a ghost. Behind him, as he gains back his moment and orientation, he hears Sylar growl; "But stick around. Maybe I'll take what you have for the road."

Curtis turns in time to see Sylar swing a punch straight for him, a wild haymaker backed up by his own version of superior strength that draws its power from fear trickling through Claire's sense of panic and confusion.

"I don't do allies."

Ignoring the scrapes and bruises she gains, Claire scramble for something to arm herself with… anything. She would not allow herself to play helpless princess. Panic and fear, laced with a healthy dose of pain that throbs across her temple, makes fingers tremble as she wraps them around the length of iron. There is a sort of comfort that comes from being armed, even with something as simple at a fireplace poker. It gives her the strength to climb to her feet, though she feels a little woozy and light headed. She presses a hand to her temple, ignoring the tickling sensation of fresh rivulets of blood sliding down her face.
Eyes pinch shut and a hand swipes away some of the blood from her eyes. When she opens them, she finds Sylar facing off with another man, he resembles the younger. She can only grip the poker with both hands, close to the chest, while she watches… suddenly unsure of herself. Clearly, two of them now?

But then Curtis is flinging himself at Sylar again, her breath catches in her throat and a new wash of fear. As she watches all this, Claire starts to move… each step surer than the last as she follows; the plan… using Curtis’ distraction to try and hit Sylar with a baseball bat-like swing of her fireplace poker.

Danger sense warns Samson of the couch before any other senses can, and the wiry old man sublimates into that choking cloud of ashes again, letting the sofa fly through his body and crash into the wall. His eyes level on Curtis as he resolidifies, head tilted to the side. “You must be new,” he admits in a raspy tone of voice, and as he raises his hand toward Curtis he catches sight of something unfathomable out of the corner of his eye.


A fireplace poker collides with the side of Sylar’s head, and bends at the impact. Sylar’s hair is slightly moved out of place, but with little other repercussions. Licking his lips, Samson lowers his hand and keeps another eye on Ash as he backs up toward a corner of the room.

Boy,” Samson intones not to Ash, but to Gabriel. “There’s some Japanese men who’re…” gray brows raise, and Samson notices something that’s amiss. He breathes in, deeply, and then narrows his eyes again. It isn’t just that Sylar looks different to Samson, feels different in the texture of Wendy Hunter’s stolen ability, it’s that he’s acting different.

Samson hesitates from the rest of the warning, and asks aloud to Sylar, heedless of the chaos. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Curtis Matt’s voice rings in Ash’s mind. Keep delaying them, I’m trying to get through to DHS. Something’s jamming my calls. Don’t give me away, keep him busy!

"CLAIRE RUN!" Curtis shouts to the former regenerator who's bleeding all over from her head wound ala Sylar. He shouts it loud, hopefully loud enough to overcome the muffling effect of his helmet. Curtis is confused. The guy he met looked different, but went by Sylar, but in this world with all the crazy powers running around… and well… he is dressed as the president. Shape shifting or illusion powers are not at all out of the question. But this Sylar is definitely acting different, but he doesn't really have time to stop and think and process all that as he's charging into… no through Sylar. Curtis is fast, olympic sprinter fast, and he can eat ground up quickly, so there's a lot of momentum behind him as he charges forwards. He starts to pitch forwards but slams a foot down hard to stop his momentum, trusting to the suit to absorb the shock and not break his knee.

He pivots around hard, spinning in place just past Sylar. His eyes dance to the fist flying straight at him and he doesn't shy back, or try to dodge it. He doesn't know Sylar has enhanced strength. So he steps /into/ it. Charges into it really, intending to let his suit soak up the force of the punch and hopefully bowl the man over. But he wasn't expecting super punch. No, no he wasn't. There's a loud crack, something breaking though whether it's suit or Curtis isn't immediately apparent. Sparks fire out of the back of his suit as another battery explodes as the suit struggles to cope with the punishment being rained down upon it. Curtis though goes flying again. His feet physically leave the ground and he goes sailing into the wall, which explodes under the force of the impact. "Claire. There's hardware in my bag outside my entrance. Meaning in the stairwell outside the wall. There's some pretty heavy hardware too. Stuff she'll know how to use hopefully. Some automatic rifles, some pistols, a light machine gun.

The detritus of his crash into the wall comes raining down around him as he levers himself up again, the horizon suit not as responsive as it was, power running a lot lower now, there's an audible whine of servos as he moves faster than they're ready to. "You did allies once Sylar. I brought you into Messiah after all. I know." His head turns, eyes taking in Samson. "The family resemblance is striking." Curtis grabs a two by four stud from the wall and rips it the rest of the way out, wielding it like a bat as he advances towards Sylar again, a little slower this time, a little more wary. Oh yeah Parkman. Just keep the multi-powered unstoppable guy and his multi-powered maybe unstoppable father both busy. No problem. Take your time. Take in a movie or something. I've got this. Keep him busy it is.

A lot happened to Gabriel Gray after he clawed his way back from the end of the world on a cold January, 2010. He joined some clubs. Made some friends. Reunited with his birth father, more or less, or at least: discovered he existed. Went to Baltimore. Exchanged civil understanding with Claire Bennet.

Sylar has a lot of catching up to do, but he manages the most of it in the interim seconds between punching Curtis into a wall, twitching at the fireplace poker to the head, and now—

Even as his mind works overtime to clock everything that's happening, the rest starts to blur. He's meant to be taking from Bennet the last piece of the puzzle, and anything else should be mere irritation and swatted away if it wasn't for the fact that a large enough predator has entered his territory. Because that's really what he sees when he claps eyes on Samson Gray — not familial resemblance, not loyalty, not partnership.


"Not your son," is said like that's for damn sure, before he reaches towards Samson with his fingers splayed wide. Immediately around Samson, the air seems to change — it distorts, ripples, and within a matter of moments, suffocating heat surrounds him like a dial of a superpowered oven turned way, way up. A dry heat that catches on clothes and hair in licks of flame, and worse, if he doesn't move soon.

Sylar twists a look around, and bellows, "Claire," a little like her antics are drastically inconveniencing, the kind of nagging sing-song you expect from your dad when you're refusing to come down for dinner. "Don't make this harder than it has to be, Claire-bear."

Curtis has not escaped his notice, and Sylar responds to a slower approach by likewise putting distance between them, hand still out-flung at his father. Gabriel's father. (Somewhere in the back of his mind: some Japanese men?)

"I was gonna kill her quickly," he says. "Thinking I might take my time, if you're the entree."

The sounds of Sylar’s voice has a line of cold trailing down her spine, it is almost instinct that has her cringe away from her nickname coming from the lips of a man who is trying to kill her, for something she no longer has. The bent bar is stared at, eyes widening a little. Yet, still it is held out at if it could keep him away from her.
Her feet shuffle as she tries to keep distance between them, tool; though… also angling herself towards that hole in the wall and something that might help her. Unfortunately, the back of her mind she is doubtful anything can stop him.

It is that nagging thought that springs tears into her eyes, fear trembling her voice. That bend poker raised, clutched in both hands to try and steady it. “I don’t have anything you want, you fucking monster, ” she spits out in terrified anger. Hell of a way to beg for her life. “Just leave us the hell alone.”

The heat has Samson recoiling and bursting back into his ashen smoke cloud. He’d been too slow to react to what his danger sense had warned him was coming, and age is finally starting to keep the old hunter down. Maybe if he was in peak physical shape that would be different. A note for later. When he’s not being cooked.

As Samson sublimates into a sooty cloud of ash, he flattens to the floor and rolls between Curtis’ legs like a blanket of fog, pooling sideways and up toward the wall, then up again until he is clinging to the ceiling in billowing, smoky ephemera. Curtis has the right idea, a blunt instrument, and Samson helps the soldier out. By using him as a blunt instrument.

As Sylar and Curtis circle one another, waiting for one to make the first move, Curtis is suddenly flung bodily at Sylar, yanked from his feet by a telekinetic tug that brings him off of his feet and sideways like a battering ram, hitting Sylar square on in the chest and sending the pair both careening into the fireplace. Sylar breaks Curtis’ fall and the mantlepiece, sending crumbling brickwork falling down to the hardwood floor. A moment later, Samson is raining down from the ceiling and recollecting into the form of a scraggly old man.

Samson’s red-trimmed eyes stare at Sylar in the way someone might a stray dog that looks just like theirs, but also had just been a little bitey. Looking down at the pink and red skin on his hand, Samson’s lips curl into a snarl. The ability-stripped Claire in his periphery goes largely unnoticed. “Where’s my son,” Samson demands, fear welling up in his chest that whatever this thing is may have done something to the one person he gives half a shit about. Better late than never with that.

Curtis circles slowly, eyes on Sylar. Keep him busy Parkman says. Get your ass kicked Parkman says. Fine. He'll keep them busy. Especially if it gives Claire enough time to put a little distance between her and the Grays. There's judders and shakes from his armor, the whine of servos, and occasional sparks from the back of it. He doesn't know where Samson Gray has gone, blasted helmet is not helping, cracked and broken as it is. But he's hoping it will help defend him against Sylar trying to treat him like a can of Pringles. "You're… this…" Samson Gray's words are making sense to the soldier. Curtis is not dumb. He never has been. But damn it if he knows what is actually going on. But he's seen mind control and people looking like other people and… well you just kind of lose that sense of disbelief after awhile.

He takes a step towards Sylar, intent on taking a swing at the man's midriff, a crunch of plaster and ruined wall beneath his feet before… his feet aren't on the ground anymore. There's a blink and a holler of surprise as he goes careening across the room to ram into Sylar, and they both go tumbling and smash into the mantle. Curtis' recovery is quick, rolling away from Sylar and the shattered fireplace, trying to get clear of whatever superhuman battle is going on now. "Claire doesn't have her powers! She hasn't had them for awhile. Look at her if you don't believe me. She's still fucking bleeding Sylar! If she had her powers why would she still be bleeding???" Trying to appeal to the man since it has become very clear to Curtis that he is beyond outmatched. There's a grunt of pain from him as he gets himself up to his feet, something broken or fractured somewhere. Probably multiple somethings.

His eyes cast to the side, towards Claire, checking on her progress towards his weapons that he left out in the stairwell. Hoping she finds something she can use, and that he can get them both the hell out of there. Fucking anytime Parkman!!! It’s shouted with all his damn might in his brain, hoping against hope that Matt is listening, and trying to do something about what is going on. He has no weapons other than himself, and himself is clearly not good enough to take down either of the Grays, so Curtis does the smart thing, he tries to retreat, tries to slip around their conflict and back towards Claire and the hole he made in the wall when he went all Kool Aid man.

Recovery from being body-slammed is slower than Sylar would like it to be. Unhurt but disoriented, he's balanced into a crouch as Curtis rolls from him, hands splayed against the carpet, dark eyes intent. Despite himself, he looks to Claire. The crimson still streaming down her face. Her expression, contorted in not only fear for her life, but fury, frustration.

Confusion, for someone like him, just feels like static in his mind, like swarming bees climbing into the crevices of his brain. As such, he gives a doggish shake of his head as a more uncontrolled fury begins to mount within him. In slow motion, he sees Curtis dive for Claire, cutting and running, and for the first time, Sylar's first instinct isn't to immediately give chase.

Instead, he looks at Samson.

"Your son is nothing," he says, dark and quiet, pushing himself to his feet. But maybe he remembers it. The smell of cigarettes and ash. Rough hands lifting him. As much as he might like to deny it, he's still Gabriel Gray, buried though it might be. Here, and now, it starts to stir. Which only makes him angrier, priorities shifting like a kaleidoscope as murderous intent focuses solely on the old man in front of him. "He's nothing!"

With a wild splay of his hands, that rippling concussive force slams into Samson, and Sylar is quick to follow, the air rippling around him in an extreme, encompassing heat that makes the paint on the ceiling bubble and the carpet underfoot smoke and curl.


Claire’s worry over Sylar seems to take a second place to panicked worry over the well-being of her fiancé. Retreating is suddenly very far from her mind, as she rushes to meet him halfway. “Your okay? Are you hurt?” Worry has her voice trembling, even as hands seek press against the cool armor of his helmet. She can’t see passed the black of his visor, but her eyes dart over the surface of it as if she can see right through it.
Feeling the wave of heat from the battle of the Sylar and the unknown man, it seems to shake her out of her razor-focused concern. “We need to go,” she whispers hurriedly, to Curtis, letting hands fall away. There is no waiting, she is already moving to turn and run for the hole that Curtis made in the wall. Who knows how much time they had.

There’s no response from Parkman, none at all. It’s unsettling, the silence. Something clearly had to have either gone wrong downstairs, or distracted the telepath. Or maybe Curtis isn’t in range anymore? Regardless, his path out through the hole in the wall is facilitated by Samson Gray being launched through the air by a concussive blast. Before he hits the wall he explodes into a rolling cloud of smoke that drifts down to the floor.

“My son is the only good thing I’ve ever made.” Samson’s voice crackles like a furnace inside of the smoky form. As the cloud surges forward again, it flattens to the ground in the sudden replication of one very dead Richard Cardinal’s shadow form. Slithering like rolling ink between Sylar’s legs, Samson reforms behind his child’s spawning and lets out a high-pitched whistle that sends a soporific wave of anesthetic through the clone’s body.

“You? You’re just a meat puppet.” Samson croons in Sylar’s ear, only then noticing Curtis and Claire departing through the hole in the wall. He’s torn, like a dog with two bones.

Curtis tips his helmeted head forwards, his breathing a little bit shallow. Something is definitely broken. But he /has/ just been beaten around like a human pinata by two of the most powerful Evolved in the world. One of which he had no idea even existed. And Sylar was… not Sylar. He can hear Samson behind them too as he moves for Curtis shaped hole in the wall. "I'm… hurt but I'm okay. I can move and I can fight. Hopefully we won't have to do any more of the latter. Are you okay? I mean…" Your skull is partially cut open, as well as your scalp and there's blood running down your face. Of course that's left unsaid as it's bloody freaking obvious. "We need to get you to a hospital. And yes, we need to go. Now."

He'll step through that hole and out into the stairwell, bending down to retrieve his bag, fishing his trusty AR-15 out of it, slamming a clip home and chambering a round. He also pulls a shotgun out of it and hands it to Claire, her favored weapon, as well as a pistol for each of them, then lifts the bag up and shoulders it in case they need hardware. "All right let's go." And he ushers her down the steps ahead of him. He's going to be the shield between her and the Grays back in the room they've just left in case one decides they want a snack anyway.

A trembling hand moves to touch the cut on her forehead tenderly, the world swimming a little, but with sheer will she keeps moving. Through the wall, taking the shotgun, which instinct has her checking to make sure it is loaded. “You always know what I love,” she gives him a shaky smile, through the growing pain… before moving ahead of him. With the shotgun hooked in one arm, she uses the wall to keep her steady as their flight down the stairs starts. The sound of their own footfall echoing around them.

Maybe, just maybe, they will survive today.

Then it occurs to her. “Where’s Matt?” Claire asks, glanding over her shoulder at Curtis. “Wasn’t he supposed to help?” Did he abandon them to their fate?

For Sylar, his options suddenly pare right down as the world becomes a blur, and feeling leaves his body. That whistle seems to penetrate his skull and live within his bones, sapping the will to move from his marrow. He sways on his feet.

His knees impact heavily against the ground as he sinks onto them.

Like his strings have been cut. Panic spins his mind, the immediate horror of his plan and everything he has worked towards suddenly out of his control, and then something more existential, confronted with his father who is not his father, the reality of what he is, the thing he's always known. Anger is normally enough to get through it, and this time, it takes blind rage.

On his knees, his form ripples. Flesh like liquid, shifting queasily, as if he were underwater and Samson were looking at him through light distortion. Fighting the clammy clasp of supernatural paralytic currently clawed into his neck, he lifts his head, staring at him, eyes as cold and dead as a shark, lips peeling back into what is half a snarl, half a rictus grin.

"I don't think so," he growls, through slack tongue, numb lips. The fingers on his hands curl, and suddenly, Samson feels his muscles lock in place, a more insidious kind of paralysis where his own brain is issuing second-hand commands to his body. His arms come up on either side, a parody of puppetry, and as Sylar drags himself up, his form resolving once again into his solid self, he flings a hand out, issuing one last burst of concussive energy that sends the old man flying backwards — straight for the window.

With a gasp, Sylar doubles over, a trickle of crimson leaving his nostril. Panting.

And slowly, he starts shifting back into Nathan Petrelli.

Samson careens into the window, glass shattering around him and seeming to tear him apart into a ragged shroud of black. But as Samson transfigures himself into shadow, the pain ebbs. He gutters like a cloth in the wind, flattens to the side of the building and disappears into the narrow shadows approaching the middle of the day.

Not far from the chaos, as Curtis and Claire make their way through the Petrelli Manor, they can hear shattering glass and shouts from behind them. Sylar isn’t far behind, and the horror above all horrors that he has taken the shape — if not the identity — of the President is a chilling reality. As they reach the foyer, Parkman is there with a handful of DHS agents in black body armor and helmets. When Curtis comes whirr-clanking in broken Horizon armor down the hall, the at first raise their guns, but Matt gestures to hold them off. The look Matt gives Curtis is one of hollow-eyed terror.

I heard everything. Matt levels a telepathic warning to Curtis. But it also implies I did nothing. We need to get out of here, now. There’s nothing any of us can do against that thing and if you want to save her, we need a hospital.

Autumn!” Matt says as he motions to one of the DHS operatives who pushes the door open. “Good job keeping the President’s niece safe” The masks stay on, the play held close to Parkman’s chest. “Let’s get out of here before more of them show up.” I’m sorry. For what it’s worth. This isn’t what I thought was here I — I never would have… Matt is turning toward the door, urgently, knowing he has to get clear before Nathan — before Sylar discovers his betrayal.

Curtis comes down the stairs and into the foyer. It’s a miracle that Curtis survived, let alone his armor. But the power is all but dead in his suit, and the added strength and durability of the suit is all but gone, and at this point it’s probably weighing him down more than it’s helping. He’s got an arm around Claire’s shoulders as they face down the DHS operatives. He has a rather large caliber hand gun in his right hand and is sooo not afraid to use it on someone if they get trigger happy. You and I need to have a long talk Parkman. After we get Claire to the hospital. Curtis limps forward, gun still trained on the operatives until they put their guns down. Once they do he’ll reholster his weapon. “We need to move!” He calls out for the benefit of the men around Parkman. “The President’s niece needs medical attention immediately.”

What is that? I know Sylar. That is not Sylar. Curtis moves along with Claire, checking her over now that they’re clear, making sure there’s nothing immediately life threatening, other than the half open can of Pringles going on there. “You okay?” He asks, much softer so the DHS men can’t hear. He doesn’t mean the obvious injury of her head either.

The question doesn’t get an immediate answer, Claire is really having to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. The piercing headache, created from having her head sliced into, is not helping things. In fact, she can only slowly shake her head in response. She’s not okay. Later, she probably will have all of this catch up to her, but there is a strength of will that allows her to carry on. She gets that from the only man she will ever really call her daddy.

She kinda wished he was here now.

As they approach the DHS men, her eyes turn to Parkman… they look haunted and tired. “I’ll be okay,” she reassures softly, even if she isn’t… not when you have had a monster try to lob off the top of your head.

"You," Parkman calls to the men moving in, "get them to safety, you two with me, we're going to double back inside and see if we can catch him." One of the DHS agents unclips a canister of negation gas and follows along behind and into the building. "I want FRONTLINE here now!" Parkman bellows to the remaining DHS operatives, and jogs back into the Petrelli manor. The DHS operatives on scene begin leading Curtis and Claire away from the chaos, looking up to the blown out window of the building and then to the cars all around that are shrieking with alarm.

Parkman's team moves through the lobby, hurrying toward the stairwell when they come to an abrupt stop as Nathan Petrelli stands at the top of the stairs. The DHS agents, at first in a state of alert lower their weapons on spotting the president, but before Parkman can sound a warning to them each man's neck is summarily snapped by a twist of two fingers. Parkman feels himself hoisted up, drawn closer and toward the dark-eyed stare of the man who would be president. "Nathan" stares Matt down, tongue sliding across his teeth behind his lips.

"Matt," Nathan murmurs, "we need to talk."

The words have a cloying, suffocating quality to them…

…and Matthew Parkman's mind reels.

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