Another Endgame — And All That Could Have Been, Part I


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Scene Title Another Endgame — And All That Could Have Been, Part I
Synopsis Magnes and Munin bring Peter to Kazimir Volken at the end of the world.
Date January 16, 2011

The sound of groaning steel and cracking stone rises up from the side of the building like the horrible roar of some unimaginable monster. Protesting metal strains in a groaning yawn and what remains of windows crack and shatter under the sheer weight of thousands of pounds of stone. Amid the billowing plumes of smoke rising up from the chasm in the side of the building, screams fill the air.

As the wind blows the smoke along the side of the skyscraper, the entire north face of the building sloughs like it were the peeling skin of a sunburned man, crumbling pieces of concrete falling away to reveal more fire rolling up from the inside of the structure where it can't lap forth from blown out widows. The twisted girder jutting forth from the observation deck rattles and creaks, tilting downward as the metal becomes dislodged from the concrete, dangling closer to the roaring flames rising up from the inside of the Empire State Building.

"Help! Help!" Panicked screaming, comes from the very end of that twisted piece of steel, strangled and terrified. Not far from where Magnes was thrown from the blast, the shrill voice of a young girl cries out from between twisting steel and choking smoke. At first unseen, but soon visible as a slender and bloodied form as the smoke briefly parts, dangling from the burnt and twisted remains of the girder, "Oh god help! Help!" Her legs swing back and forth, kicking wildly for something to grab on to, only causing the bent limb of metal she grips to flex and bend further.

A shriek escapes from the young woman, barely audible over the collapsing of the building as an entire span of the floor below finally breaks apart under the pressure, stone splitting and dropping down to the street more than a hundred floors below, while the fire-blackened remnants of the observation deck slouch further to the north like the listing silhouette of a drunk.

Her grip slips, and Eileen falls, striking the side of the crooked and slouching remnants of the observation deck way down, landing on her shoulder on rain-slicked concrete and sliding down the slick floor as her hands helplessly try to grasp for purchase that isn't found, "Magnes! Magnes— Help! Please! Help!" She calls out for someone who isn't there, she calls out for a stranger to swoop in and rescue her.

The building shudders and the north face of the Empire State Building begins to collapse under the weight of the observation deck and the damage caused by the fire roaring inside. The floors below her finally give way, and the stone splinters and crumbles, metal groans and yawns in protest and fire is blown out the opening as the floor of the observation deck drops and collapses down, pancaking three floors below it. She hits the railing at the end of the observation deck, sitting at a 45 degree angle, and her fingers struggle to remain on the rain-slicked iron as the rest of her body slips helplessly between the demolished gap of damaged bars.

“Magnes! Magnes!" Gripping by bloodied fingers, Eileen spins wildly in the air from the railing, her eyes wide with panic, heart racing in her chest. Her hands shake and tremble, legs kicking wildly as blood flows down from a gash n her forehead. As she feels her fingers slipping, blood lubricating her grip, as if her entire body were fighting her own survival, she whimpers out a name, "Sylar…"

It all happens so fast.

She loses her grip.

Twenty Minutes Earlier


The Empire State Building looms high over the eviscerated remains of Midtown Manhattan. As a symbol, there are few others remaining in New York both as ostentatious and well-defensible to serve as the headquarters of the Vanguard and a monument to Kazimir Volken's ego. The concrete barricades around the Ruins of Midtown put in place after the 2006 explosion now serve as battlements and palisades keeping out the remaining survivors from the Vanguard's ghost-town of a headquarters. That this place is surrounded by a checkpoint and a skeleton crew of Vanguard security isn't surprising. That's why any attempt at infiltration had to involve a plan.

The pickup truck cutting a straight path up a cracked and broken street is a part of that plan. That it's being driven by a Vanguard conscript is also a part of that plan. That Peter Petrelli sits in the back of the truck with a black eye, a cut across his cheek, and hands bound in zip ties is presumably also a part of that plan. That Munin is riding in the back of the truck with a rifle resting stock down on the bed and barrel against her shoulder must be a part of the plan. That Magnes is riding shotgun in the truck, one arm hanging out the window as it makes a rapid approach to the Empire State Building must be a part of things as well.

But from the outside, it certainly looks grim.

Magnes' arm hanging out the window was a part of the plan until he remembered a story about a kid sticking his arm outside of a school bus and getting it ripped off. That's when he pulls it back in. "You wanna know how I lost this scar?" he suddenly asks the driver, pointing at his forehead. He knows he can't have been that different as Hermod, he knows himself. "It's a great story."

He also knows that he has to keep his mind occupied. He has a lot weighing on it, and to complete the mission, he has to do the thing that keeps his thoughts from slipping to a place they don't need to go. A place that would compromise the mission. He has to do the one thing that can keep him at least a little bit sane.


Unfortunately, the one thing that lessens Magnes’ stress is compounding Munin’s. The less he says, she reasons, the less likely their ruse is to be discovered; only Peter will detect the subtle shift in her demeanor as her focuses changes from the world blurring by outside to the young man’s silhouette in the passenger’s seat. Her eyes fractionally narrow on the back of his head.

She stretches out her legs in the back of the truck and settles on things to be thankful for instead. Ample amounts of room, for instance. The satisfaction of cracking the butt of her rifle against Peter’s face earlier, although guilt has begun to nag at her in the time that’s elapsed since — directly proportional to the amount of swelling around his eye and bloodied mouth.

Open sky.

High above them, a carrion bird drifts on the breeze, camouflaged by dark clouds and strange reflections in what little glass remains in the city’s gnarled ruins.

Magnes’ voice through the glass of the truck’s rear window isn't quite audible to Peter over the noise of their travel. Bound as he is and within swift stabbing range of Munin’s free limbs, he plays the part of a prisoner with shoulders slouched and attention only briefly up through the window and at the driver, before he’s focused back down to the space at his feet. “You know,” he says just loud enough for her to hear him over the rumble of the engine and tires on the road, “…this is a lot of weight to put on your shoulders.” Finding Gillian, betraying Kazimir, betraying the Vanguard.

“If it’s not too much to ask,” Peter briefly look up at Munin, “why’re you doing it?” He hasn’t had the comfort of seeing Munin settling in at the Hub, hasn’t ever had the opportunity to know her as a person other than the waif that followed Sylar around in the days leading up to the end of the world. At the moment, he could use some peace of mind.

Inside the truck, the driver offers a look over at Magnes. Normally it would be one of dismissal, but since he is Hermod there is a deferential interest. He has to be interested, because there at his side sits a man bestowed a name by none other than Kazimir, while the driver is just a conscript who joined to save himself.

“I heard you got the scar fighting the time traveler.” The driver looks over to Magnes from the road and back again. “Broke his sword in half, front part you sent into his chest,” he taps two fingers at his own sternum, “broken end cut up your face. It… it was very brave.” He tries to hide his fear and revulsion.

“How does a man lose a scar?” He asks, anxiously.

"A man named Francois. He has a healing ability. We fought hard, and I guess in the chaos of the fight, he accidentally healed me? I'll miss the scar." Magnes is pretty sure that's something he'd say, since he is himself after all.

He has to wonder, why would Hermod fight Hiro? There's so many ways that he could have helped this world by fighting with Hiro.

Of course, Hiro's name isn't mentioned, and mentioning that could possibly confuse things if the man means a different time traveler, so he keeps his mouth shut on that. "Have you seen Gillian while I've been away? I'm wondering how she is."

“A debt owed,” Munin answers in an even tone that’s so careful as to suggest that there’s probably more to it, but these three words are the closest approximation to the truth she’s been able to come up with.

She’s had a lot of time to think.

“He,” and she does not use the name Sylar, “sacrificed everything that he was for us. He’s past saving.” She might be talking about Kazimir, too — it’s impossible for Peter to be certain, and she’s too cautious to do much more than scrape at the surface of her motivations. “If it comes down to it,” she says instead, “I’ll need you to promise me something.”

Wringing his hands together, fingers flexing open and closed in the way someone trying to wake up a sleeping limb might, Peter looks briefly up to Munin, then over to the back of the driver’s head through the rear window, then back to Munin. He doesn’t vocalize his query, but the raise of one brow is indicative enough of his acceptance of the concept, at least.

Inside the truck, the driver fires a brief look over at Magnes, then down to the steering wheel nervously. “I… I don’t know who that is,” he seems afraid to admit, and is mercifully saved from having to continue that conversation as the group reaches a second checkpoint. There’s a noise that rumbles up to the truck as a half dozen military jeeps and an armored personnel carrier roll past from the Empire State Building. Sitting atop the APC, Munin recognizes the broad shoulders and dour countenance of Abdul “King” Nwabueze, leading his entire squad out into the ruins.

Peter looks up at the trucks, then nervously over to Munin as the truck comes to a slow stop at the checkpoint.

"It's okay, it's normal not to know everything." Magnes assures, looking around at the display of jeeps and such. He isn't nervous, but that's mostly because he trusts Munin, he trusts himself, maybe not so much Peter. Kazimir is terrifying, but he's reasonable. And he's in Gabriel's body, which means that he should share some of Gabriel's traits… maybe.

The thing he's most nervous about is if they can actually get back home, and about Munin's fate, considering that she refuses to come back.

"Do your thing." he motions to the driver.

Whatever Munin was about to ask Peter will have to wait. She pulls in a long, slow breath and shifts positions in the back of the truck, a hand on the man’s leg in what’s either a reassuring gesture or simply a way to lever herself up, depending on who you are and what your point of view is.

She notes Nwabueze’s departure with a small frown. He and his team have the potential to become a serious problem for those left behind, but there’s little she nor Peter and Magnes can do about that now. The carrion bird above turns its body into the wind, wings opening wider like a great black sail, and changes course.

Follow them, she instructs.

Knuckles rap against the glass divider that separates the back of the truck from the front. If Magnes looks behind him, she meets his eyes with hers and hopes he’ll let her do the talking.

The birds take flight to follow the convoy, while checkpoint security begins a sweep of the vehicle. One moves around to the driver, looking him over and the driver reiterates a passphrase back to the guards. One comes to Magnes’ window, looking at him without real recognition in his eyes. Finally, a pair come to the back of the truck and inspect Peter and Munin. One of the two men recognizes her, a tall man with thinning brown hair and a gunshot scar on his right cheek.

She knows him too.

“Thought you were fucking dead.” Leon Heller was one of the first soldiers to bend a knee to Lord Volken when the virus tore through New York. He was not rewarded for his mercurial allegiances, and has been resigned to checkpoint security in Manhattan for years. Though he now commands a sizable garrison — its numbers have dwindled as sickness and violence have claimed his own. He holds no lost love for Munin, the resentment in his tone is only so restrained. “I suppose they’ll all be glad to see his favorite caged bird alive and well…”

Heller looks to Peter, scowling. “Who’s the prisoner?” His attention returns to Munin. Peter says nothing, head down and focus distant, trying to play the part of a shell-shocked victim.

Oh what the fuck.

Magnes takes note of Heller, he definitely takes note of Heller, he knows exactly who the fuck that is. He knows what kind of person this is, and somewhere in the back of his mind, he may be subconsciously making a note marked as 'acceptable collateral damage'.

But he keeps his mouth shut, he's pretty sure Heller is a crazy asshole.

“Volken does not easily let go of what belongs to him,” Munin reminds Heller, and there’s a softness in her voice Peter hasn’t heard before. “If I was his favourite, he wouldn’t have left me out to rot.”

She’s a little resentful, too. One hand slides down the length of her rifle, adjusting her grip as she angles the end of the barrel under Peter’s chin and uses it to raise his face so Heller can get a better look. If he doesn’t recognize his dark eyes or the swoop of his hair, Heller might be able to place the scar that carves a path between them.

“A gift for our glorious leader,” she says. “Hermod has brought him Peter Petrelli.”

The family name means more than the given name to Heller, and he brings up the barrel of his rifle to press under Peter’s chin, lifting his jaw up and looking him in the eye from where he stands beside the truck. The gun barrel presses to a scar at the side of Peter’s neck from the old adynomine injectors, then a look to Munin. It’s a silent, cold one. He eyes Hermod next, then draws in a sharp breath and takes a step back away from the truck.

“Best not keep Lord Volken waiting then,” Heller admits with a gesture to the driver. “You’re clear to proceed.”

The driver looks over at Magnes, then exhales a tired sigh and puts the truck back into drive. As the vehicle starts to move, he notices Hermod’s silence, though remarks nothing of it. In the back of the truck, Peter reaches up with his bound hands to rub at where Heller had pressed the barrel of his rifle, then levels a look at Munin.

It’s a wordless concession: You were saying?

"We live in an interesting world." Magnes starts to talk again, staring out the window, sounding thoughtful. "In many ways, we live in a very sickening and disgusting world. I sometimes wonder if it's a work in progress, but it's ultimately irrelevant."

He turns to the driver, continuing to speak, his tone becoming more serious. "There are things to grasp on in this world, nuggets of happiness, rewards to aspire to." He places a hand onto the glass, now, staring. "But this world… I believe that if we truly felt the desire to rebuild, if we truly showed Kazimir what it is that we wanted, we could achieve that. Kazimir wants for very little, but respects people who are willing to grasp what it is that they desire."

"Kazimir probably won't rebuild the world, but people like you could, even while under him, I believe he'd allow that if you were truly driven." Turning back to the man, now, Magnes' tone might even seem a bit off, or concerning, if Munin is listening. "Are you driven, mister… What was your name, again?"

She is.

It’s a safe bet that Munin is always listening, whether with her ears or the ears belonging to the small songbird nestled in the truck’s interior. She turns her head enough to show Magnes the side of her face through the glass divider, although she isn’t yet signaling for him to stop.

It’s possible that she’s as interested in where he’s taking this as the driver is.

To Peter, she says, “Whatever happens, Sylar can’t be allowed to leave the building alive.” Sylar, not Kazimir. “If he makes a jump,” and now she is referring to Kazimir, “let it be to me or Varlane.” Her mouth hardens and she draws in a long, slow breath to help maintain the pressure on the lid holding down her emotions. “Gabriel’s suffered long enough.”

Drawing in a slow breath, Peter wrings his bound hands together and nods slowly. “I’ll be honest with you,” is offered in hushed confidence as the truck continues down the road into the muted shadow of the Empire State Building. “I wasn’t planning on letting anyone get out alive from that place.” His hands open and close, fingers flexing into fists that momentarily flicker with an inner illumination that goes bone deep. But it isn’t just the promise of death that Peter offers to Munin, it’s also a question.

“Do you believe them?” Peter looks up to her, dark eyes searching far paler ones. “Liz, Magnes?” He looks to the back of Magnes’ head through the rear window, then back again. “That there’s another world out there? Just like this one, but where the Vanguard failed?” It seems both too good to be true and existentially terrifying all in one go.

As Peter’s question lingers in the bed of the truck, the driver turns to look at Magnes with furrowed brows. “Yancey,” he offers in response to Magnes’ question, flashing a toothy grin. “We’re almost there,” he adds, pointing to the approaching plaza outside of the Empire State Building, where sandbags and razor wire once formed a perimeter, now mostly collapsed and disused. The building is terrifyingly tall from up close, looming large like a massive grave marker over the entire city. The upper floors of the building are lost in the low cloud cover and drizzling rain, and as the truck passes by the sandbag barricade, it slowly rolls to a stop up on the sidewalk out from of one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, now a desolate ruin.


"Yancey…" Magnes turns to him, placing a hand against the back of his seat. Peter, Munin, and Yancey can feel a slight rise in gravity, but only slight. It's almost like the physical feeling of dread, like something bad is going to happen. There are certain feelings that are associated with sudden shifts in gravity. "You can't live your life in fear, or else he'll always look down on you. I can feel your heart, I can feel every organ in your body. You're afraid, I'm guessing you're always afraid. If you want to build a better future, you have to stop."

He swallows, then takes a deep breath, and suddenly gravity eases, returning back to normal. He shifts in his seat again, facing forward. "Build your future, don't live in fear. He'll reward you."

Munin studies Peter’s face from beneath her lashes. They’re dark like Gabriel’s are dark, and there’s a certain stubbornness about his mouth, but this is where the similarities end. She’s spent years comparing the faces of strangers to the faces of the people she’s carved out a place in her heart for: Sylar, Ethan, Wu-Long, even Kazimir, or Richard Santiago, she supposes, if she’s being accurate.

She cannot see herself ever caring for this particular man, either because she’s run out of room in the small cavity of her chest, or there’s something about him that isn’t his eyes or his mouth that makes her feel ill-at-ease.

What she does see is something else. A possibility.

She meets his gaze and holds it. “Oh yes,” she says, “worlds where Vanguard failed, worlds where Vanguard never existed, where Ethan Holden never met my mother and I was never born, where Kazimir’s ability compelled him to make the world a better place rather than destroy it. Worlds of infinite possibility. Worlds where there’s nothing at all.”

She takes one hand off her rifle and shifts it to Peter’s arm through the fabric of his coat. Her fingers form a vice several inches below the elbow as she leans in, narrowing the distance between them until all that remains is enough space for breath. The warmth of her body combines with his.

“There’s even one,” she says, voice on the threshold of a whisper now, “where I don’t regret this.” Her mouth covers Peter’s and she presses her torso against him, seeking his heat, his tongue, and an answer.

She has a question that only prolonged physical contact will answer.

Eileen isn't sure the last time Peter brushed his teeth. It's been a while. It's unpleasant, as is his squirming and the press of a hand to her stomach to try and awkwardly shove her off. “Ssht— ” is muffled by her mouth, but quickly turns into, “stop,” when he finally manages to push her off with a bewildered look. Peter is wide-eyed as he stares at Eileen, and she found the answer she was looking for, if not the one she was expecting. Wordlessly he mouths, //what the fuck?

In the cab, Yancey glances into the rear-view mirror in time to see what's happening. “Looks like Munin is doing some building of her own. Boy does that girl like to play with her food or what?” He grins, looking back at Magnes. “But uh, that's… that's a good lesson, sir. I'll try’n not fuck it all right up. But they've said there ain't much hope for me.”

Yancey tanks open his door and steps out onto the curb after putting the truck in park. “You need a hand dragging the old boy in? Or is it cool if I have a smoke break?” Yancey reaches into his jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, waggling them at Magnes.

Magnes suddenly bangs on the glass. "Cut that out!" he shouts, then holds up a hand, declining the cigarettes. "I've got this handled. Peter Petrelli is incredibly dangerous, even while negated."

Stepping out entirely, he walks around back and crosses his arms, waiting for Eileen to usher Peter out. "Stop making out with Peter and bring him down. We have a long march up to Kazimir. And by long march I mean we're flying because I'm not walking all the way up those stairs. There's no way the elevator works in this place, even if I was going to trust it."

There's a pause, as he remembers his role. "I never take the elevator, and I have no intention of learning if it works or not."

Relief washes over Munin’s sharp, gaunt features and she leans back against the glass with a shrill, wild bark of laughter, both at Peter’s expression and the thump of Magnes’ fist by her head. “Oh fuck,” she says. She places the hand that had been gripping his arm over her heart. It flutters freneticially under her palm. “Your questions— I thought for a moment you might be. Oh. Good God. My heart’s still going like a jackhammer.”

She kicks down the truck’s tailgate and rolls to her feet, shouldering her rifle. “Come on, then,” she tells Peter, nudging him with her boot. “Get out, or I’ll kiss you again.”

Munin titters at that, too. It might occur to Magnes that he’s never heard her giggle before, but there it is. The adrenaline coursing through her veins has her feeling lightheaded and a little tipsy — close brushes with death will do that to a person, whether they’re imagined or not. Still sniggering, she hops off the back of the truck onto the pavement and ushers Peter toward where Magnes has settled.

Peter gets out of the truck bed, still staring at Eileen like a puppy that was slapped on the nose and doesn't understand why. When he drops off the tailgate his boots clomp on the ground. He slides a look at Yancey who is in the middle of lighting up a cigarette while leaning against the side of the truck. He offers the pack or to Munin, brows raised over the frames of his sunglasses. “You look like you could use a smoke, birdy.” One of the cigarettes is popped up more than the others.

As he moves to Munin’s side, Peter quietly whispers to her. “You need to find Gillian. We’ll keep Kazimir distracted as long as we can.” Then he intentionally bumps into her shoulder and gives her a dirty look.

The steps up to the front doors of the Empire State Building are largely bare, save for a few old shell casings on the ground. No one guards the doors. No one is fool enough to attack this place, let alone enter uninvited.

"I'll take care of this." Magnes states to Eileen, then Peter can feel himself lifted into his gravitational orbit.

That's when they both begin to float, heading into the building. This is a mild use of his ability, he takes as much time as they need, trying to be wary of traps or protocol. His intent is to go all the way up the stairs, all the way to the top of where Kazimir dwells.

He'll be a nervous wreck about Eileen later, after this has all gone tits up and they can actually rest and worry about what could have been done right, or better.

Munin slides the solitary cigarette out of Yancey’s pack. Along the side she notices something written there in pen. “WOLF.” She produces her own lighter from inside her jacket as she steers the cigarette into the corner of her mouth. One hand shields the flame from the wind, the other sets the cigarette to smoldering.

Only when the end is glowing bright and hot does she drop both her hands and shake them out, ridding herself of what nervous energy still buzzes in the tips of her fingers. “Thank you,” she murmurs, turning her face toward the sky.

She pretends to watch the clouds with the same intense focus that she’d directed at Peter’s face, but her attention is elsewhere — in high places, in narrow places, in places neither she nor anyone else is meant to be. If Gillian is here, the flock of songbirds systemically scouring the building will find her.


As Peter and Magnes move off into the building, disappearing into the lightless darkness of the Empire State Building’s cavernous foyer, Yancey levels a look over at Munin and takes a long drag off of his cigarette. He leans his head back against the driver’s side window, looking up at the gray sky as droplets of misting rain collect on his sunglasses.

Her focus so divided on birds scouring the building, Munin fails to notice something unfold from the underside of the truck. Black and lanky, moving with sinuous grace. The shape is steady, creeps up behind her and just when the hairs on the back of her neck have started to prickle, she feels a breath too close and in one ear.

“‘'Oos yer daddy?


*Bunker Asgard**

The Empire State Building

Seventy-six floors from the ground, a once lavish residence within the Empire State Building has been converted into a gilded cage. The high ceiling is cracked plaster with gold-leaf moldings. A dusty chandelier hangs from the center of the spacious suite’s living room by an even dustier chain. Crushed red velvet curtains flow from near the ceiling to the floor, giving the walls and the space of the windows the texture and color of still-tacky blood.

The suite’s furnishings are adequate, though often threadbare. The antique furniture of wood and cloth is both comfortable and lived-in, and once upon a time this place belonged to Munin. Now, with books scattered across the floor, stacked up on a claw foot coffee table, in small piles by the locked door, this belongs to Gillian Childs now.

She is curled up on the sofa set atop a Persian rug in the middle of the room. A survivor of catastrophe plagued by the nightmares of burning children. For all that this is a prison, her gilded cage has one open window. Not by any mechanical grace, but that the glass was blown out long ago. The wind plays at the curtains, sending them gusting around like the hem of a luxurious gown.

There is a book open on the table, tonight's reading material; a slim paperback, La Biblioteca de Babel.

While she’s dressed up like some strange doll or some kind of captive princessa at the top of a tower, Gillian doesn’t look content or pleased with her clothes, constantly pulling on the side that stands out a little more than the other. She still has a bandage there from days ago, from the shrapnel that pierced her skin and caused her to bleed until she went numb. It had been fixed after a fashion. Though not enough that it hurt. And the tight dress didn’t help. She moves about looking down at the book. In fucking Spanish.

Kazimir might speak a few dozen languages (probably not that many), but she did not know half of what she said when she read the words out loud. She would even let him correct her cause she knew she did not even pronounce it right. “All the libraries in the city and he couldn’t find one in English?” she murmurs as she rubs at her side again, limping a little as she shifts. Her hair is done up, much nicer than it had been in her fancy cell that they’d blown up.

Like a doll or a pet. Cause that’s what she was, half the time. When she wasn’t reading something to the man. The wind draws her eyes, but she shakes her head— it was a tall building. There would always be wind. She half expected what was left of the city to be on fire by noon.

She notices it in the crystals of the chandelier: a flourish of sudden movement that sets the glass tinkling. A small bird, unidentifiable at a distance, perches upon the fixture and pauses there to rest its wings and pick through drab-coloured feathers with its beak.

Gillian thinks it might be a wren, or maybe a skylark. Nothing at all unusual, until she hears the accompanying voice in her head. I wonder if he’ll replace you as quickly as he replaced me, it says.

As she looks up at the little bird, Gillian cants her head slightly as it speaks, surprised, but also wondering if she’s maybe, finally, gone insane. She didn’t tend to have anyone to talk to except her self-appointed bodyguard who Kazimir seemed to trust. Who perhaps he should not have, considering certain things, but Hermod had been the only person she could really talk to most days. He’d not returned from the last attack. She assumes he finally got himself killed.

But a bird talking to her, expressing her own doubts, makes her laugh softly. “Fucking probably,” she mutters under her breath, as if not even sure she’s talking to anything at all. Still talking to herself, in some ways. She could feel… something in the area, like a little fuzzy spot of something… that should have told her it might be. “Not like I can leave. Even has me in heels.” She sticks her feet out from under the hem of her dress, showing off heels that made her at least two inches taller.

Maybe it’s Gabriel who likes them, the bird suggests, coy, maybe there’s more of him left inside than you think.

It snaps its wings, scissoring down from the chandelier to alight on the edge of Gillian’s book. Glittering black eyes peer inquisitively up at her. You might want to take them off, it adds, unless you know how to run in them.

Maybe Gabriel likes them. “Thinking that is one of the few things that keeps me going most days,” Gillian admits quietly, with a sigh. The idea that she would be reading to Gabriel not to the thing that turned his body old, his eyes blue. Not to the voice that often comes out of his mouth. Sometimes, when she looked at him, he seemed to still be in there.

She still drew him, how he used to look, most the time. Because she saw that in him.

“Where would I even run?” she asks, even as she watches the bird move. Was the bird really here? It would not surprise her if, after what happened when they attempted to ship her off, had finally broken some part of her.

But would she think that the case if it actually were?


The Empire State Building is a shadow of what it once was. The lobby lays in ruin, with its cavernous ceilings and steel-pressed Art Deco reliefs, it looks like a ruin from some lost civilization. Shattered tiles line the floor along with spent shell casings from a battle no one will remember in ten years time. Bullet holes riddle the wall and old sandbags are piled up in the middle of the floor to form a barricade no longer needed. There are no bodies here, though there are sometimes dark stains in the grooves between shattered marble floor tiles that implies where they once laid.

There is no one down here to greet Magnes and Peter on their arrival. No guards, no security, no one to “defend” Kazimir Volken from his enemies. Because the idea of that is absurd. The death of the world proved that there is no one who can stand against Volken, and if there were, they aren’t here anymore. Instead, the lobby feels like the entrance to a grand mausoleum that contains the world of today, decorated in the decaying finery of the world of the past.

All of the elevators are at ground level, doors busted off of their hinges and demolished pieces of elevators ruptured forth long ago. There is no electricity here in the building, no power by which these lifts would have worked. The stairs — Magnes’ preferred means of ascent — are not just an option, they are the only option. Munin told them where to find Kazimir, at the top of the building, perched in the observation deck where he could watch the world die. That is one hundred and two floors from the ground. One hundred and two flights of stairs.

“We’re flying the whole way, right?” Peter asks from his position as an untethered balloon in Magnes’ personal sphere of influence. “Because I can feel my ability coming back, like… a sleeping limb, but…” he looks over at the younger man with a worried expression.

"Yes, we're flying." Magnes assures, and starts to float up the stairs with Peter in tow.

He considers his surroundings, the weight of what they're about to do, the implications. He tugs on the gravity of the building to pull himself up, creating the effect of 'floating' up the stairs.

"My ability, the gravity is located in my center of gravity. I always think there's something in there, I'm not really sure what exactly. It's complicated to understand, Kazimir himself is who taught me how to even begin to use it properly." He looks back at Peter, briefly.

"When he was in your body."

Then, face forward, keeping his voice low. "If things get desperate, I have a plan, but it depends on something I'm not sure will happen or not. I'm also reluctant to describe that plan, because it sounds batshit insane and terrifying. So let's hope it doesn't come to that."

"I should also warn that I might have to hit you." he further explains, because, well, that's important. "When he was in your body, I learned a lot about how he thinks, what he looks for in his subordinates. I know the things I need to say, the things I need to do."

As they float, he runs his fingers through his hair, the heavy weight of stress and anxiety in his tone. "I don't know what'll happen, I don't know what abilities he currently has, for all I know he can read our minds right now. But if you get out of here and I don't, tell Elaine that I love her, and tell Elisabeth that I'm sorry."

Peter’s shoulders tense, Magnes can feel the movement even though it isn’t visible. “The world your from doesn’t sound like it worked out too well for me.” He admits, one brow raised. “So he possessed me instead of Sylar, or… after?” He shakes his head, carried along like a wayward balloon. “I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? But if you don’t get out of here alive, I’m pretty sure no one is. Not me, not Gillian, not your friends…”

“Those trucks that passed us on the way were some of Volken’s hunters. Folks who rout out survivor camps.” Peter looks up the ever-spiraling stairwell. “The Hub might already be under attack, but we won’t have any way to know until…” he exhales a sigh, “we just won’t have any way to know. We just have to hope.” When he looks back to Magnes, there’s nervousness. “If I don’t make it back, and you do? Make sure Gillian’s safe.”

"I'm not sure how the chain of possession went, but when he was in your body, I guess because of how you are, he helped save the world. He taught me how to use my ability better, or you, I'm always not entirely sure. I think who you are influenced who he was in your body." Magnes shrugs, clearly on edge, anxious, a million thoughts rushing through his mind.


"I'm not entirely sure what happened with the possession after that. I know you were a dick after it, but you weren't Kazimir. I never got the story on what happened to him, or if maybe you found some way to suppress him." he considers, and places a hand on his stomach.

It's tense.

"Gabriel's fine in my world though, last I checked. He was on the mission with Kazimir in your body. Me, Kazimir in your body, and Gabriel had a whole… incident. Long story, not important now. It was a few years ago." he admits, perhaps rambling a bit, nerves worse and worse.

"I made a promise to Munin, but I'm increasingly unsure that it's possible to keep that promise. I think that what she asked of me… it's just… I don't think it's possible." He stares up at the seemingly infinite flights of stairs that they continue to spiral up. "I'm starting to think that there might only be one way to get back, because Kazimir is going to know, quickly, if he doesn't know already somehow. He isn't the type of man to be taken by surprise. I used to have his copy of the Art of War, in my world, Munin, Eileen, she gave me books that Kazimir would have wanted me to read."

He's admitting all of this for, well… "My father was awful. When Kazimir was in your body, I don't know how much of it was you, and how much of it was him, but I felt like someone truly saw something in me. But I understand, now, I understand what kind of person he is. I don't think I had the capacity to before…"

"We need Gillian, not just to get back home."

There's a long pause, and he briefly stops. "We need Gillian because I think the only way to get out of here will be to kill Kazimir, and I think I can do that without him possessing anyone, ever again."

He starts to move again, and looks back. "I don't truly believe that we have a choice. We can try to stall, we can try to get out of here without it coming to that, but… I don't think we'll be that lucky. And what I'm going to do, I think there's a chance it might kill me, I've never tried something like this before. But if you take my ability, if Kazimir isn't around to follow you anymore…"

"You can get Elisabeth, Elaine, and my baby out of here, along with everyone else in the Hub. With Gillian, and my ability, you can stop the hunters."

He's been talking for a while, he hasn't been giving Peter much of a chance, but, finally, he requests, "Can you do that for me, Peter?"

Magnes,” Peter stresses with a furrow of his brows. “I… yeah. We can trade promises on that, sure. But this whole plan isn’t about stopping Kazimir, it’s about getting away from this place. He can rule over a tomb for all time if that’s what he wants to do. But we — we can’t stay here. Maybe I can use your power, once this negation wears off, but I don’t have your level of control.”

Pulled upward by Magnes’ Power, Peter reaches out to steady himself from drifting with a hand on Magnes’ shoulder. “I understand you. I do. Which… it’ll make it possible for me to do what you do, but you’re trained. I’ve never used your ability before, and sometimes… I have a hard time controlling what others do. Especially if there’s a risk of the ability spiraling out of control.” Peter hesitates, looking to the ruins visible out a window along the stairwell, then back to Magnes.

“I don’t know if everyone knows in your time,” Peter’s voice is hushed. “But out there? The ruins? That was me. I have all this power… all these abilities, but it’s like…” drawing in a slow breath, Peter’s hand tenses on Magnes’ shoulder. “It’s like having all the emotions of everyone who I learned them from inside of me. It’s a storm.”

“It’s a storm I can barely control.”


Take off the shoes, the bird reiterates, and maybe there’s something familiar about the cadence of its speech, or the vaguely English accent Gillian can’t quite place. You’ll head directly up the stairs for the roof. Keep your eyes forward. If anyone tries to stop you, you tell them all you need is a whiff of fresh air.

It flexes its wings — and its claws. All at once, Gillian hears the sound of little feet scratching in the walls, against the glass of her window, and in places even a songbird should not be able to fit, but apparently can.

There are more.

No matter what happens, I need you to keep moving. We have only this one chance to get you out.

There’s more birds outside. Not just a random songbird and a voice in her head. That voice too, sounds somehow familiar, though she can’t place from where— Since when were birds British? Gillian looks from the bird to the window, and then kicks off the heels so that they fall to the floor. That alone might be all the acquiescence needed, but she reaches to grab two things from the table— one of the newer sketch pads that the Vanguard had found for her to spend her time scribbling in, and the book in Spanish.

The young woman knew what to say to any who stopped her. Most dared not touch her, anyway, they would only really stop her if they thought she meant to hurt herself or tried to leave the building. At least most of them. Some resented her position, after all, but they would also not risk facing the wrath of their boss. “He’ll come for me, you know that, right?” she does add as an aside as she looks back at the bird one last time. She has no doubt that someone will come for her, but that does not stop her from moving out into the hallway and finding the nearest stairs.

“Up, up and away,” she jokes quietly to herself.

Yes, says the bird. A flick of its wings and it zigs, then zags after her. I know.


Many floors pass all the same, abandoned husks of what was once a bustling skyscraper. The building is barely inhabited, a handful of Vanguard spread out every ten floors or so, like little fiefdoms of mercenary feudalism, where captain and lieutenants under Kazimir’s command act as kings to conscripts. Hermod is able to pass by this all unchecked, bringing his trophy up to Kazimir.

It is when they ready the floor below the observation deck that Peter momentarily flexes his ability, attention squared on Magnes. Remember, we’re not here to kill Kazimir. We’re here to rescue Gillian first and foremost. You and her are the most important. Peter’s voice rings in Magnes’ mind.

He’d had several floors to think about what Peter said.

That is how Magnes wants things to work out, that is how Magnes intends to approach things. Rescue Gillian, talk to Kazimir, try to make things go peacefully leave.

Hope Kazimir doesn't have some sort of god-like telepathy.

Hope Kazimir hasn't gotten an ability that greatly extends his senses somehow.

Hope Kazimir hasn't developed some sort of precognition, or eaten someone like Edward Ray.

These are all things that Magnes considers, all things that could potentially turn Kazimir to violence, among the various other things that Magnes could accidentally do that sets Kazimir off, or that Peter could do, or perhaps Peter's presence itself. Perhaps his mention of Francois won't be the boon that he expects.

Anything could go wrong.

Everything could go wrong.

When they arrive on the observation deck itself, Magnes announces himself, loudly. "Herr Volken, I have arrived with Peter Petrelli. His ability is currently negated. I have much to speak with you about, as you'll probably quickly notice."

Then, looking over at Peter, he shouts, "Kneel, Petrelli." he forcefully orders, his gravity suddenly turning up, becoming significantly less comfortable, trying to force Peter to have no choice but to fall to his knees.

If he were Hermod…

He knows that this is exactly what he could do.

Because this is the kind of person that he is at his most vindictive, at his most insecure.

This is the kind of person he is when he doesn't have what he wants, when he's unsatisfied.

Perhaps this is why Kazimir likes him.

What awaits Magnes is a ghost out of his nightmares. The observation deck is an open ruin of a room nearly as large as the footprint of the Empire State Building. It's tall windows are all blown out and shards of glass still litter the floor. Tattered remains of tarps billow in the blown out windows, and a cold, wet breeze blows through the entire structure. With Peter on his knees and hands bound behind his back, he looks the part of a supplicant.

“Return’d so soon…” The familiar voice of Gabriel Gray calls out to the room from seemingly every direction. One of the tarp flaps blows aside, revealing the black clad form of Sylar standing on the other side, his face a weathered and rapidly-aged mockery of his former self. But his eyes — piercing and blue — are the same eyes that once stared at Magnes from Peter Petrelli’s skill. The eyes of Kazimir Volken.

“Rather, approached too late…” Kazimir continues, stepping through the window, glass crunching under his boot falls. As Peter looks up to the gray-haired Gabriel in his long black wool greatcoat, he can barely hide his horror. “The capron burns, the pig falls from the spit…” Kazimir raises one hand and yanks Peter forward, pulling him through the heavy gravity with a telekinetic grasp until he is but inches from Kazimir. “The clock hath strucken twelve upon the bell.”

Kazimir makes a motion with one hand, and Peter is driven face-first onto the floor and into the glass. Blue eyes raise to Magnes, and immediately he sees the suspicion in them. “You seem well.”

"My fight with Francois didn't go well, aside from this…" Magnes runs his fingers along where his scar used to be. He doesn't seem shaken when Kazimir yanks and tosses Peter.

As long as he isn't stealing Peter's ability, things are fine, things are…

No, that's not right. He can feel the weight of Kazimir's presence, he can feel the uncertainty of how many abilities Gabriel Grey possesses, especially with free reign over mankind. He can feel that this is the top of the world in this version of Earth, this is the domain of this planet's God.

He begins to approach, and stops about twenty feet from Kazimir.

"I touched him, and then I shifted his gravity upside down. I tossed him into the sky, he fell infinitely and burned up in the atmosphere." he explains, hands suddenly shifting behind his back.

His black leather jacket is a bit less impressive than the greatcoat of Kazimir. "I didn't come here just to talk about this, Herr Volken."

He looks around at everything, at the windows, the floor, the ceiling, then Kazimir himself. "I know that I shouldn't, but I love Gillian, and when I look around at the world, I start to think… could things be better?"

Then, staring earnestly down at his feet, before he looks back up, he asks, "Is this all that there ever will be? Do you want anything more than to watch the entropy of the world? I'm sorry if I'm out of line, I just… I want to know. Do you have hopes and dreams?"

Allegre?” No force on earth can pull Kazimir’s razor sharp focus away from that name. Peter is thrown to the side, square into one of the supports between the windows where he drops to the floor. “Francois Allegre?” Blue eyes look like rings of electricity for all that Kazimir’s eyes are wide. He begins walking toward Magnes, head slowly tilting to the side.

Hermod,” his blue eyes narrow. “How do you know that name?” His state flicks to where Hermod’s scar was, then back to eye contact with Magnes. “How, precisely, did you lose your scar?” Gone is Volken’s theatrics, it is now a razor-sharp combination of Gabriel and Kazimir’s obsessive personalities.

"We struggled. I find it easier to shift direction in a more stable way when I'm making contact. He pushed against my face, and then my entire face felt warm, it was an incredible warmth, I can't really describe it. And then my scar was gone." Magnes explains, rubbing the area where his scar was again. He knows how he fixates when he gets healed, so surely Hermod would as well.

"He's dead now, though, so it's nothing to worry about. My ability wouldn't wear off before he hit the atmosphere, he's definitely dead." Though, he stops, as if remembering something more important. "By the way, Heller was acting strange. I can't really put my finger on it. He just left, and he was just… I don't know, weird."

Blue eyes narrow slowly, and Kazimir’s head tilts to the side as though he's trying to listen for a sound. “He healed you?” Gray brows raise, and Kazimir takes a few more steps forward. “Fascinating.” Leon Heller is cast aside, much as Peter was, and dashed upon the altar of Kazimir’s current obsession. Behind Kazimir, Magnes can see Peter slowly getting to his knees, tense and waiting as though expecting things to change at a moment’s notice.

“I say fascinating, rather than alarming, because Francois Allegre died in the 1990s.” Kazmir’s faint smile fades entirely. “He passed his ability on to Abigail Beauchamp.” Blue eyes flick focus from one of Magnes’ to the next. “And I turned her to ash.” That smile comes back, slowly, and Kazimir’s head tilts back.

“How would you explain that?” Kazimir asks, one brow raised.

Magnes considered the possibility that this would happen. This was, in fact, the biggest flaw in his plan, a flaw that he had to try to find some way to out think, some way to compensate for.

He… killed Abby.

No, no, the flaw in his plan, the plan B. What was the plan B…

Kazimir killed Abby.

It doesn't matter which Abby, he killed Abby. Abigail Beauchamp. Kazimir killed her.

The gravity around him begins to become slightly heavier. Kazimir would likely know by now that this is an involuntary effect, something that happens when Hermod becomes ridiculously upset beyond the point of barely being able to suppress it.

"Is this what you wanted, Kazimir?" he asks, eyes and tone going dark, judgemental. He is perhaps not like Hermod in this moment. "This dying world?"

"Is this what you wanted, Gabriel? Eileen loved you, she loved you with all her heart, even though she was never any good at expressing that." he asks, his heart absolutely pounding right now.

"Kazimir… you're basically a god right now, this could be a utopia, you could do anything." He starts to breathe very quickly now. "You could do anything you wanted, you could fix all of this, you could build a society where people are happy."

"But you killed Abby."

Tears start to flow down his cheeks. It doesn't matter that it isn't his Abby, it doesn't matter at all. "You could do anything, you could have done anything, but you chose to kill Abby…"

Kazimir’s raised brow only arches higher. His smile returns, fully. “Hermod,” Kazimir says in the smooth and reassuring tone Gabriel had perfected. In that same moment the smile becomes toothy, and a wave of horror sets in over Magnes as he suddenly feels nothing. His ability ceases to provide sensory input, he feels heavy in a way he only has when… he's negated. Kazimir, now within arm’s reach, smiles fondly.

“By the estimates of my esteemed virologists, 3% of humanity will survive the virus. When it runs its course, there will be a utopia. This is no different than London after the war. Nature will reclaim what mankind does not. History will move on, and our blight on this world will be erased.” Kazimir lowers his voice. “The Sentinel will ensure that.”

“But, I'm left to wonder,” Kazimir queries with a smile. “If you knew Norton Trask too.” At the period of that sentence, Magnes is thrown to the floor by a telekinetic force. “He was trying to protect her. Said she was a miracle worker.” Kazimir’s cold blue eyes regard Magnes with suspicion and certainty. “This world knows only one miracle.”

Kazimir widens his eyes, his smile wolfishly familiar.


The Empire State Building, Exterior

Standing a hair’s breadth behind Munin the the familiar silhouette of a man years her senior and a foot taller. “Sorry t’make you a Trojan horse, luv. But ‘oo else would the old man let in unquestioningly, except you.”

Ethan Holden should be a dead man. Gunned down by federal agents in the Nevada desert when the decoy truck that never was carrying the virus was ambushed. But somehow, against all odds, the Wolf always manages to survive. Yancey gives a wiggle-wave of his fingers, and reaches into the truck producing a pair of pump-action mossberg shotguns, tossing one to Ethan, who catches it out of the air.

Missed you, luv.” Ethan adds with a grin.

There is nothing Munin wants to do more than throw her arms around Ethan and disappear into his embrace and the familiar day-old smell of his sweat and aftershave, but something that neither he nor Yancey can see makes her hesitate.

Her eyes are abruptly very wet. Tears gather in her lashes and carve tracks in the grime plastered to her cheeks, neck, and the half of her collarbone that’s visible beneath the collar of her jacket. She sucks in a short, shuddering breath.

There are so many things she’d like to say to him. Unfortunately, present circumstances only allow for a choked, “He’s fucked it all up. Kazimir knows. We have to make sure Childs gets to the roof.

“Childs? She's still alive? Well fuck, ain't that a surprise.” Ethan reaches up and brushes his knuckles under Munin’s chin. “‘Ey, there ain't time for sobbin yet. I didn't stay in hiding for fuck all of forever wiv’out comin’ up with a plan.”

Moving ahead, Ethan gives a nod to Yancey who takes up the rear with a racking of a round into his shotgun. “Met Pete in Utah, we had a go at it, and then realized we ‘ad a common enemy.” Ethan points up, whether to God or Kazimir isn't given a distinction. There might not be one. “That cock up there.” Still unclear.

“Pete’s figured out a way t’kill ‘im for good.” Ethan explains as he hustles up the steps, sliding a cigarette into his mouth and pausing long enough for Yancey to light it. “This is a way better distraction that my idea.” Ethan offers a look over to Eileen, then pushes open the door into the lobby.

Observation Deck

Let him go!” Peter shouts from the floor, slowly pushing himself to his feet. Kazimir turns, as if having forgotten about Peter, still keeping one hand angles down at Magnes, pressing him so hard to the floor he can barely breathe, let alone speak.

“Oh, yes.” Kazimir flicks a finger at Peter, sending him smashing into the wall. “You.” Then, with a crook of his fingers back, Kazimir hauls Peter up into the air and begins to draw him forward. “So much wasted potential, so many great things you could have done… squandered on— ”

A flash of light erupts from one of Peter’s hands, a white hot flash of atomic fire. Bright, but not hot. The light is blinding when directed down at Kazimir, and Magnes is caught in the Vanguard leader’s dark shadow, spared the burning glow. Unable to negate something generated from outside of his field of influence, Kazimir unleashes a howl of agony and clutches at his smoking eyes.

Shut up.” Peter growls, clenching a fist and motioning up into the air, throwing Kazimir skyward by moving the floor under his feet by terrakinetically manipulating the stone. Kazimir tumbles off of a column of raised concrete, landing some fifteen feet away from Magnes on his side. Immediately, Magnes can feel his ability coming back.

“I can see Munin,” Peter says with a distant look in his eyes, “I can feel her birds, she found Gillian! Come on!” Peter starts to move to Magnes. “We can— ” before Magnes can breathe, before Peter can finish his sentence, the ground around Kazimir erupts with a kinetic shockwave, shattering the column of stone, throwing Peter off of his feet and into one of the metal supports between the windows again, flipping Magnes off of the ground entirely.

Kazimir stands, wreathed in a swirling haze of nebulous black, seething tendrils of dark like billowing clouds of ash and soot. Gabriel’s body is practically consumed by the only miasma.

How I have waited for this.

Kazimir’s voice modules deeper, an affectation of Sylar.

87 Floors Below

“‘Scuse me, any’f you fellas got a light?”

Ethan asks the question with an unlit cigarette in the corner of his mouth, leaning into a room filled with Vanguard before point-blank firing the shotgun into one of their faces. Brain, bone, and blood explodes through the air. He racks another round, fires again at another Vanguard member.

“Volken’s got a private fucking elevator on this floor, hooked up to the generators,” Yancey calls to Munin as he joins Ethan in sweeping the room with shotgun fire. Ambushed and complacent about their safety, the Vanguard are cut down by the Wolf. Approaching footsteps draw Ethan’s attention again, angling the gun toward the sound of someone approaching. But then, he cocks his head to the side.

The few men on duty didn’t even bother to look at Gillian as she climbed the steps barefoot in her long dress that looks decidedly out of place. A captive “princess” by all appearances. Because she carried a book, they figured she had been requested, though one asks where her escort is and she shrugged. None of them decided to take responsibility for her, considering everything else going on— they wished they’d been on the raid of the survivors, no doubt. When one did ask more fully she responded, “I want some fresh air,” just as the bird had whispered at her to say.

She wanted it. She would get it. “Get the fuck out of my way,” she even grunted at one, who hadn’t even actually placed himself in her path. But the demand seemed to make him move. Almost as if she had earned a kind of worried respect from some of them as being a prized captive.

“Does ‘e dress ‘er up like tha’ on purpose?” Ethan asks with his cigarette in one corner of his mouth.

Observation Deck

(Tag Magnes!)

Magnes watches as Kazimir seems to explode with his entropic energy. He caught on, once his ability came back. Pete taught him about these things, about being observant of little details, looking for cracks in abilities.

He starts to step back, considering this. Gillian isn't here yet, the only way he knows how to kill Kazimir safely requires Gillian. But…

What if it doesn't?

He considers this very carefully, goes over the science in his head. This darkness, this entity that is Kazimir, it's energy, it's something that exists within this universe, it possesses people, it interacts with them physically, their eyes change color, he can control the physical properties of their bodies.

That darkness is matter. He's eaten telekinetics, he's eaten all sorts of kinetics, but he's yet to consume Magnes himself…


Perhaps it's because he knows something about Magnes' ability that even Magnes himself doesn't know, perhaps Kazimir knows his own weaknesses, perhaps he was waiting for Hermod to realize it and make the attempt.

But Kazimir is something that has weight, because he exists in this universe.

"I had a feeling this would happen, but I was hoping I'd be more prepared…" He tries to breathe, taking slow breaths. He has to keep it together, he has to think carefully. He has to stay outside of that ten foot range, though Kazimir can do other things. "You're not a god, or a miracle, Kazimir. I've realized, in all this time, that either you're toying with us, or you haven't taken the ability of a telepath. Gabriel used something on me instantly, back during the USS George Washington. And when I fought Hermod, I realized something else."

He holds his hands out, and all around him, gravity becomes absolutely oppressively heavy, reaching into Kazimir's range, but trying his best to stay at least twenty feet away. He doesn't let up, at all, he tries to absolutely hammer down onto Kazimir with as much force as he had to within his fight with Hermod the other day.

"Abilities, so many of them, they require normal gravity to function." His feet begin to make cracks into the ground as his own weight increases. "Telekinesis requires that you be able to even lift my weight to begin with, shooting fire at me, lasers, whatever else, that requires that they be able to even move through proper gravity to begin with. Switching bodies? I wonder, what exactly is the weight of your energy form?"

He tilts his head, much like Gabriel often does, his mind reaching out, staring sensing, trying to feel that miasma, to get a sense of its gravity-feel, to truly understand what it is, if he can truly influence it.

"You named me Magni." he states, the fractures in the floor stretching further and further out. "I wonder… can a miracle defeat a god?"

Kazimir, more Sylar now than anything, is eager to find out. Knowing Kazimir has Trask’s ability, Peter knows he can't simply freeze time to stop him, and even as he's moving with a burst of speed through the air, Kazimir is planning how to stop both men prepared to throw their lives away.

Kazimir steps forward and another Kazimir is left standing in his place. Abigail Beauchamp wasn't the only person of God that Kazimir claimed.

Brian Fulk was too.

One Kazimir, a pale and faint figure dressed only in entropy, alights into the air in an inky mass of dark energy, the transubstantiation of Wu-Long Zhang, meeting Peter head-on in a collision of smoke and darkness, dragging the flying mimic to the ground with a crash.

The second Kazimir, inspired by Magnes’ speech, throws out a hand and uses the one thing he's certain exists alongside gravity in space: cold.

A wave of polar chill spreads over Magnes, a skin-splitting and agonizing wind of arctic magnitudes, frosting the walls and floor over with ice, leaving jagged sheets of ice waving backwards from Magnes where the rain-slicked observation deck floor flash-freezes the gravitokinetic’s shoes to the ground. The cold is agonizing, freezing Magnes’ clothes and hair.

He has to think fast. Abilities often have some sort of psychological trigger. Would removing his hands work? He's not so sure of that, it might be a mental ability.

It's fucking cold, he has to hurry or he might die.

Bring the walls, the floor, try to smash Kazimir?

No, that could mean giving Kazimir leverage in a building that he knows inside and out. He can't risk shifting the terrain of the battle.

There's only one thing that he can do… disorient him.

Magnes raises his freezing arms, and then starts to spin gravity around him in a ridiculously violent orbit. It's still heavy, it's ridiculously heavy, it starts to strip stone and glass from the floor, trying to whip Kazimir around with extreme violence, in the mix with any horrific stone, glass, or whatever else might get wrapped up in the orbit might smash or dice into him.

Kinetic abilities, most of them, require at least some form of concentration. This is cold as hell, but surely even Kazimir can't keep it up under such conditions. "I won't die… for the Abby of this world… I won't die… I was never religious, but if her God exists, I'll believe in that…"

"I'll believe in that God's ability to give me the power to smite you…" he says as cold steam escapes his mouth, feeling the chill in his bones. "I'll believe in that God's willingness to give me the power I need to send you to Hell!!!"

The building shudders under the centrifugal forge of the spiraling effect of Magnes’ shifting of gravity from one direction to another around himself. It is enough to wobble the century-old building, splitting cracks through the stone floor and causing the metal frames of the supports that hold up the ceiling to twist and warp as the floor moves in an opposite oscillation from the ceiling above.

Everything is shifted on that fulcrum, Kazimir is no exception. He wobbles, stumbling, and the staggers backwards as another flash of atomic light erupts inside of the tenebrous cloud that had consumed Peter. The second Kazimir is blasted out of his transubstantiated form and rolls across the ground. As he pulls himself to his knees, Peter rises from the swirling blackness and throws one hand into the air.

The wind picks up, rain comes down in a torrential blast, and lightning cracks outside. A stroke comes down on the railing outside, flashing blindingly bright and showing the observation deck with sparks. One Kazimir steps into the other, reabsorbed, and the room continues to be pulled wildly in multiple directions.

The cold has abated, ice already sloughs off of Magnes’ clothing, and the ambient temperature is rapidly rising as Peter manipulates the weather into a subtropical hurricane. The wind whips across the roof of the skyscraper, and soon is strong enough to rip the roof off of the observation deck. It is caught like a kite in the wind, hurled into the cloudy distance as a second stroke of lightning comes down from the sky and strikes Kazimir square on the top of his head.

The bolt grounds out through a crackling shield of shimmering force reflexively raised over his body, the same personal force field that allowed Sylar to survive the ground zero Midtown explosion. Peter lurches, staggers, and takes a knee as the graviton fluctuations finally get the better of him. He'd held it off as long as he could my emulating Magnes’ ability, but his control isn't as good.

The building groans again. It can't take much more of this.

"This could have gone so many ways…" Magnes says as he starts to approach Kazimir again. He tries to maintain that twenty foot distance, but he wants Kazimir within his whirling gravity, he wants that man to suffer.

He can feel the building swaying, he can quite honestly sense a million things happening right now, most of those things regarded as background noise to his mind. But the building is noted, and… Kazimir is still in his sights.

"Hermod must not have known that you killed Abby, he couldn't have known, no version of me would have simply accepted that." he states as he intentionally begins to pull things into his orbit. Chunks of wall, window, peeling more of the floor.

He's not even walking at this point, he's floating about a foot above the ground. "The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. Life's but a walking shadow." He stares up into the sky, he doesn't need to look at Kazimir, he knows exactly where he is, he knows where Peter is, he feels Gillian and Munin, other bodies nearby and below them as well.

"Release him, Magni, that is when you named me. When you told me not to kill Gabriel, on the USS George Washington. But I have to kill Gabriel right now. I don't want to, but now it's time for you to release him, it's time for you to release Gabriel. I won't allow you to possess me, or anyone else." he declares, his tone eeriely calm, his ability seemingly becoming ridiculously destructive in its apparent desire to try and rip Gabriel's body apart, to truly face Kazimir itself.

"Release him, Kazimir." he commands, arm outstretched.

"Peter, believe in yourself, believe in your weight, that is how you control it. Believe in what you can do, and then you can do it. Believe, Peter."

Kazimir’s eyes narrow. “You try so hard, and yet.”


It comes in a cascading wave out from Kazimir, a bone-deep pain and buckles Magnes’ legs and drops him to the ground. Peter, too, is incapacitated by the pain. It is sudden, stabbing, sharp, and everywhere.

“You had the same confidence Melissa Pierce had.” Kazimir tilts his head to the side, ratcheting up the aura of agony to levels so high spots blossom in Magnes and Peter’s vision. “But you both lack the same level of common sense. You were right, Magnes. You were right about one thing… I was playing with you.”

Slowly approaching, Kazimir looks down with those familiar blue eyes. “I've fought my entire life against people like you, and I didn't need Gabriel to kill you. But now that I have him, there is no one on this earth that can stop me. Not you, not Peter, not Edward Ray and his calculations.”

Kazimir leans forward, reaching out to grasp Magnes by the cheeks. The pain focuses on his face, skin blistering at Kazimir’s life-sucking touch. “Gabriel wanted to be special, so I gave him that gift.” He lifts Magnes up by the face, holding him aloft with one strong arm. “Hermod wanted to be whole, and I gave him that opportunity…”

Black veins trace across Magnes’ face, his skin takes on an ashen color where that blighted hand grasps him. “Abigail trusted Hermod. She followed him to me, and led her into my firing squad.” The corners of Kazimir’s mouth creep up into a smile. “He watched, while she writhed around on the ground screaming for help. He watched while I reduced her to an ashen pile of bones.”

“Do you know why?” Kazimir whispers, drawing Magnes’ face close to his. “Because deep down inside, Hermod knew the truth. He was nothing.” Voice just a whisper now, Kazimir adds. “I don't know what you are, but you're made in his image.”

“//You're n— //”


Kazimir jerks his head to look to the side as elevator doors open to the twisted, roofless sky of the observation deck.

The elevator doors open. One of the first people that they will see wears a ball gown pretty much. Clinging to her curves (even though there’s a small bulge where a bandage keeps her wound from bleeding through into the fabric. Hair has been done up, face made up. She looks almost nothing like the Gillian that Magnes first met, or the Gillian that he’d seen last. And she looks infinitely tired as she looks up at the sky for a whole second, breathing in one breath of fresh air. The smell of the city had changed in the last few years. No exhaust. Very little industrial smell. Was that the smell of death in a way? She imagines it must have been.

She does not get to enjoy that smell long, as she meets the blue eyes of the man who kept her as a prisoner, as a pet. The man who could be both cruel and kind all at the same time. Gabriel.

Only not really. No, not anymore. She holds the book and notepad in her hands, but she did not come here to read to him, did not come up here to draw. No—

She had been told to come up here. By a bird.

Hazel eyes slide past Kazimir to the two he’s speaking to. She doesn’t understand why he’s hurting Hermod, doesn’t understand why Hermod looks different. Hermod had never been her friend, though he had tried to be. He would always be the one who tried so desperately to prove himself to Kazimir. Maybe, finally he had failed.

But then— she spots the other man. A man she never thought she would see again. Peter.

That infinitely tired look begins to fade from her eyes, a tension forming in them. She’s not alone, but she might as well act as if she were as she steps out of the elevator and pushes with her ability. Back when the Hub had attacked the place she’d been held last, where she’d been being moved, she had not been negated. She had chosen not to help either side. Even when she’d hurt, she’d done nothing— not until Vor had touched her. Not until she had a chance to get away from the carnage and the death.

She had never been negated.

And all that energy she always held back broils up and slams outward. Towards Peter.

Keep your eyes forward.

Munin’s voice is abruptly in Magnes’ head. There are birds in the air, too, thousands of them, all of them big and black; the knifelike little songbirds that had combed the building for Gillian by squeezing in between cracks and under doors are of no use on the roof where the wind and blustering front of ice would either freeze them in mid-flight or simply blow them away like dead autumn leaves.

So she calls the crows to her instead. They swarm above the roof, gravitating into an inky vortex of slashing claws and beaks, beetle black eyes that wink, and a bright iridescent sheen that almost makes the cyclone appear to flicker and glow when the light strikes feathers in exactly the right way.

It is beautiful and terrible at the same time.

And it descends upon Kazimir.

Take Childs, Munin urges Magnes, and go.

Maybe he can see her in between the gaps in the flock, her small, pale hand outstretched as she funnels all her power into the attack and stalks toward them one creeping step at a time. The closer she gets, the tighter the noose of birds becomes. They tear at Kazimir’s— Gabriel’s flesh, opening holes in his skin only to fracture and crumble away into dust in the next instant, when they’re replaced by another, and then another.

It isn’t a solution. She can only buy them precious time.

This is wrong.

Magnes in horrible pain, he can feel the life leaving him, but when Munin's birds come…

This is wrong, she can't expect him to just leave her.

He immediately fights through the pain, right before the birds hit, considering something that he didn't consider earlier, that Kazimir most likely didn't consider.

Reaching around his back, he pulls out a gun, pressing it against Gabriel's temple, and then fires it before he breaks himself free, just in time for the birds to take over.

Kazimir’s blue eye catches that gun come out a moment too late. But he sees it, and though his hand claps across Magnes’ mouth, he doesn’t release him. He doesn’t do anything to stop that bullet. Because he realizes he was wrong. He realizes that there was one person who could stop him, and Magnes has explained everything he needs to know.

The bullet exits out the top of Kazimir’s head in a spray of blood and bone, his legs jerk, jaw slacks to the side and eyes roll back in his head. As he drops to his knees and crumples up onto the ground, there is a rapidly spreading pool of blood fanning out from where the gunshot wound tore through his skull.

Magnes rushes over to Gillian, trying to get out of Kazimir's range, looking her in the eye. "I'm not Hermod, I came here to save you. Hermod is dead." he says in a tone that is most likely distinctly different from Hermod, along with his lack of a scar, and different hair, among other things.

"I said I'd let you stay in this world, Munin, I didn't say anything about sacrificing yourself." he defiantly states, turning his back to Gillian. "Peter is augmented. Gillian, I need you to augment me, as much as you can. Me and Peter together, we can turn Kazimir into a singularity, his energy form will be entirely destroyed, we can erase him from existence and put a stop to this."

"You, none of you, can expect me to leave you all here to die. We can finish this, we have an opportunity, the perfect opportunity." he takes a deep breath, his body still trying to recover a bit. But there are many reasons for thinking this.

What if they can't go to another world.

What if the plan fails.

If they have to stay here, this could be the last opportunity they have to truly kill Kazimir, to have freedom here.

A billowing cloud of black, ashen smoke rises up out of Gabriel Gray’s corpse, a churning and nightmarish mass of smoke and entropy. It expands as though Gabriel’s body were a fire, existing as little more than a pillar of choking darkness. The smoldering form sucks life and heat from everything around it, from the birds that once tore flesh from Gabriel’s body, from Peter, from Magnes, from Munin and Gillian and those who haven’t even stepped out of the elevator yet.

"Please trust me. Kazimir is energy, he exists in physical space, he cannot escape a black hole. Combined, me and Peter can do this." is his final plea, waiting for Gillian's response, having a fairly good idea what Munin's will be.


As Ethan and Yancey move out from the elevator, Ethan’s eyes grow wide. “What’n the fuck!? No!” He racks a round into his shotgun, staring up at the swirling cloud of ink-black ash and darkness spiraling up from Gabriel’s corpse. Yancey looks helplessly at Ethan, shaking his head and strafing around the windswept edge of the room.

Peter, only now able to move through the agony Kazimir had been forcing into him, raises a hand to try and do what Magnes has asked. “How do we escape a black hole!?” Peter shouts back at Magnes over the howling sound of the wind and rain, beginning to concentrate down on the smoke as waves of lambent violent energy crackle down his arm from Gillian’s ability. His dark eyes flick to her, a helpless apology evident in his expression.

The roof of the Empire State Building begins to crack, pieces of stone drifting up weightlessly into the air from the crushing pressure forming around the ashen darkness. Magnes can feel a throbbing ache in his forearms and hands, a prickling pressure behind his eyes, a pounding ache in the front of his skull. It was so easy to make a singularity in Alaska, it was simple.

But even with Gillian aiding him, even with Peter trying to control an ability he has never used before, the force simply isn’t great enough. Nothing is as powerful as the red lightning of Tyler Case’s ability, nothing augmented as high, and something is missing from the equation. Magnes can feel it in his chest, there’s an environmental condition that was present on Mount Natazhat, something that is missing here.

Or maybe it is something in Magnes that isn’t absent, but something that is present. Maybe it’s the absence of nihilism created by Rupert Carmichael’s programmed death-urge that prevents the emptiness from taking hold.

Maybe it’s—

Breaking free from the gravity well, the black smoke rockets towards Magnes. He can feel a siphoning cold and dream creeping up on him, only to divert at the last possible moment toward the man kneeling nearby. The smoke punches into Peter’s chest, funneling up into his eyes and mouth, throwing him back against the wall so hard it cracks the stone. Ethan recognizes what’s happening, training his shotgun on Peter immediately.

There’s a riotous explosion from the shotgun into the swirling cloud of ash and darkness, and then Ethan is thrown off of his feet by an invisible force, colliding with one of the metal supports that once held up the ceiling. His shotgun spins away, skidding across the ground. Yancey fires next, only to be picked up like a ragdoll from the ground and hurled back as well. But there is no support to catch Yancey.

He soars off the edge of the observation deck, screaming.

From the guttering darkness, Peter rises to stand with black smoke swirling around his legs until the last snaking tendrils find their way into his nose and mouth as his eyes slowly change from brown to blue, the scar on his forehead healing over from the life-sucking source of all misery.

Munin,” Kazimir states flatly, “welcome home.”


“No…” The single word comes as a soft sob as Gillian Childs finally has a moment to process everything that had happened since she stepped out of the elevator. Everything had been happening so quickly, she couldn’t process. She didn’t even recall stretching out her ability toward the man who looked like Hermod but apparently was not— she didn’t understand any of this.

But she did understand that Gabriel, what little had been left of him, was now gone. And the thing that had killed him had moved. Tears rolled down from her eyes, messing up that make up that she had been dolled up in so much. She didn’t get thrown by an unseen force, but she didn’t have to be. She falls her her knees, the dress tearing as the fabric was forced to bend in ways it should not, that purple light that had been in her eyes dwindling, fading into nothing.

What tiny bit of hope that had been in her face seems to be gone. The notepad falls from her hands, hitting the floor, falling open to a sketch she’d done from memory, the charcoal smeared, image ruined.

The other book stays on her lap, loosely held in fingers that have lost the fight.

People process grief in different ways. Gabriel’s death, for Munin, feels like a weight being lifted from her shoulders that’s carves a part of herself away with it. She mourns a man with whom she felt a very brief and intense connection but never truly knew. Her last link to him, their shared ability, snuffs out like a candle in the dark at the same time his life does, and she releases a breath that she feels like she’s been holding in her lungs for years.

Magnes has accomplished what she came here to do.

There is nothing left except to occupy the space between Kazimir, and Magnes and Gillian, so this is exactly what she does as her birds disintegrate around them, transformed from flesh and bone to tendrils of ash that snake through the air with as much grace in death as they did in life.

There’s a vain part of her that hopes her remains will do something similar. She shrugs the rifle from her shoulder and casts it down on the ground in front of her.

That’s a weight that feels good for her to lose, too.

Dziadzio,” she confesses, and is unsurprised by the tremor in her voice when she does, “I’m so tired. Please. Let’s just finish it.”

Everything is going to hell.

He made another decision that, once again, didn't work out.

Thought he knew best, and, again, this is where we are.

I know, I know I've let you down

I've been a fool to myself

I thought that I could live for no one else

Peter's been taken, he's as good as dead. Gabriel is gone, but… maybe that's for the best. Gillian's breaking down, Munin is… he's just… everything is…

"This… this is…" his eyes glow a purple-white with the energy of being augmented, as does his mouth. "This is what it's come to…"

Munin can feel a slight shift in her gut, though it might not be apparent why.

But now through all the hurt and pain

It's time for me to respect

The ones you love mean more than anything

He walks to Gillian while Kazimir and Munin have their exchange, reaching down, an empty look in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Gillian. I'm sorry that I wasn't better in this world. I'm sorry that Hermod wasn't better." as he reaches down to lift her up, to tightly cradle her in his arms.

So with sadness in my heart

I feel the best thing I could do

Is end it all and leave forever

He feels every inch of this building's gravitational field, the weaknesses where it barely holds together, many caused by time and a lack of maintenance, others caused by the earlier fight. Then, with a breath, there's a series of groans throughout the building as already weak supports are snapped like twigs and loosened beams are knocked out of place only to fall below.

Whats done is done, it feels so bad

What once was happy now is sad

I'll never love again

My world is ending

"I'm sorry, Eileen. I'll keep my promise, and I won't forget you." he says as tears begin to roll down his cheeks, and he begins to slowly float above the roof.

I wish that I could turn back time

'cause now the guilt is all mine

Can't live without the trust from those you love

I know we can't forget the past

You can't forget love and pride

Because of that it's killing me inside

He finally begins to fly off as the building begins to gradually collapse section by section, becoming increasingly unstable, likely only minutes from a complete collapse. He pulls onto the gravity of other buildings, trying to increase his speed, trying to escape Kazimir, hoping that, if nothing else, Kazimir tries to save Eileen. Her gravity's been lowered, but Kazimir doesn't know that, and… hopefully that buys him time to escape with Gillian.


"I'm sorry…"

It all, returns, to nothing

It all comes tumbling down

Tumbling down

Tumbling down

No!” As the building sways, Ethan pulls himself up from the ground one hand clutching the side of his jaw. He stumbles, one leg visibly broken but undeterred as he moves to Munin’s side. “No, you ain’t goin’ out like that. We can… we can regroup.” He growls as he wraps one arm around her midsection. “We can— ”

The building shudders, sending both Ethan and Munin toppling to their knees. Kazimir, too, is unsteadied by the sudden movement. He looks back, blue eyes tracking Magnes a moment before a steel beam below splits and the floor of the observation deck collapses under him. Arms windmilling, Kazimir has not yet grasped the full plethora of Peter’s abilities, and he briefly plummets into the darkness. As the floor cracks and breaks, Ethan rolls with the sway of the structure, tumbling head over heels.

The sound of groaning steel and cracking stone rises up from the side of the building like the horrible roar of some unimaginable monster. Protesting metal strains in a groaning yawn and what remains of windows crack and shatter under the sheer weight of thousands of pounds of stone. Amid the billowing plumes of smoke rising up from the chasm in the side of the building, screams fill the air.

As the wind blows the smoke along the side of the skyscraper, the entire north face of the building sloughs like it were the peeling skin of a sunburned man, crumbling pieces of concrete falling away to reveal more fire rolling up from the inside of the structure where it can't lap forth from blown out widows. The twisted girder jutting forth from the observation deck rattles and creaks, tilting downward as the metal becomes dislodged from the concrete, dangling closer to the roaring flames rising up from the inside of the Empire State Building.

"Help! Help!" Panicked screaming, comes from the very end of that twisted piece of steel, strangled and terrified. Not far from where Magnes was thrown from the blast, the shrill voice of a young girl cries out from between twisting steel and choking smoke. At first unseen, but soon visible as a slender and bloodied form as the smoke briefly parts, dangling from the burnt and twisted remains of the girder, "Oh god help! Help!" Her legs swing back and forth, kicking wildly for something to grab on to, only causing the bent limb of metal she grips to flex and bend further.

A shriek escapes from the young woman, barely audible over the collapsing of the building as an entire span of the floor below finally breaks apart under the pressure, stone splitting and dropping down to the street more than a hundred floors below, while the fire-blackened remnants of the observation deck slouch further to the north like the listing silhouette of a drunk.

Her grip slips, and Eileen falls, striking the side of the crooked and slouching remnants of the observation deck way down, landing on her shoulder on rain-slicked concrete and sliding down the slick floor as her hands helplessly try to grasp for purchase that isn't found, "Magnes! Magnes— Help! Please! Help!" She calls out for someone who isn't there, she calls out for a stranger to swoop in and rescue her.

The building shudders and the north face of the Empire State Building begins to collapse under the weight of the observation deck and the damage caused by the fire roaring inside. The floors below her finally give way, and the stone splinters and crumbles, metal groans and yawns in protest and fire is blown out the opening as the floor of the observation deck drops and collapses down, pancaking three floors below it. She hits the railing at the end of the observation deck, sitting at a 45 degree angle, and her fingers struggle to remain on the rain-slicked iron as the rest of her body slips helplessly between the demolished gap of damaged bars.

“Magnes! Magnes!" Gripping by bloodied fingers, Eileen spins wildly in the air from the railing, her eyes wide with panic, heart racing in her chest. Her hands shake and tremble, legs kicking wildly as blood flows down from a gash n her forehead. As she feels her fingers slipping, blood lubricating her grip, as if her entire body were fighting her own survival, she whimpers out a name, "Sylar…"

It all happens so fast.

She loses her grip.

Ethan’s hand wraps around Munin's wrist, their eyes locking together, his own betraying the flash of fear he'd know, then steely determination when neither of them go tumbling into the ocean. Suspended, they're frozen in time, it seems.

Bad day. This would be one. But let's face it, it can only get better from here. Right?

With all his might, Ethan pulls the girl up, arms wrapping around her as they balance on the precariously dangling girder, the metal slick with rain. Scrabbling, he tries to steer them to safety, but the beam snaps. She and Ethan plummet down, falling along the tilted face of the Empire State Building.

As Magnes propels himself as fast as he can with Gillian’s augmentation, a shadow rises up from the collapsed floor of the sagging building. Kazimir, emulating the flight of Nathan Petrelli, arrives just in time to see Magnes as little more than a distantly moving purple spark. He glides to the edge of the building, watching Eileen and Ethan plummeting down. His jaw unsteadies. Blue eyes grow wide.

He is left with a choice, and for once, Magnes was right about something.

Kazimir plummets off of the edge of the roof, and dives down.

He would save his little bird…

…and then kill everyone else.

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