Dragonslayer, Part VIII


adam_icon.gif alix_icon.gif baruti_icon.gif chess3_icon.gif claire4_icon.gif devi_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif

squeaks4_icon.gif joy_icon.gif lene2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif seren_icon.gif uluru2_icon.gif val_icon.gif valerie2_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title Dragonslayer, Part VIII
Synopsis Adam's plan comes crashing down around him, and we end at the beginning.
Date February 29, 2020

A brilliant light burning in the sky, an impossibility given form and shape by willpower and imagination.

Torrential, freezing rain howls through the cold November air and a spiraling vortex of auroral light shines down across the icy rooftop. Adam Monroe is pinned to the ground, bent lengths of iron rebar piercing his body, driven straight down into the flagstone floor. Blood pulses out of his injuries, blue eyes staring up at the rain-soaked countenance of Benjamin Ryans and Valerie Mas looming over him.

Ben?” Adam asks, his voice hoarse from screaming. He looks down at himself, at the twisted metal jutting from his chest. “Why’m I— ” he coughs up a mouthful of blood, then snaps his attention back up to his old friend.

What year is it?” Adam asks in a wet exhalation.

Not far away, Charles Deveaux collapses to his knees and then falls forward onto his forearms. Nia Deveaux wavers at his side, then crumples under her own weight, but manages to lay a hand on her husband’s back. Her attention focuses across the rooftop to where Simon Broome lays motionless in the rain, his glasses skewed on his face and smoke issuing from his mouth and nose.

Arthur Petrelli exhales a gasp, staggering backwards and looking up to the diminishing glow of the spiral aurora overhead. There is a redheaded boy laying in the water at his feet, blood trickling out of his nose and swirling in patterns of crimson in the rainwater. Arthur looks down to the baby, swaddled against the cold in his arms, blue eyes staring up wide at him.

Arthur,” his attention is drawn to Karin Brauer, who cradles a tanned boy in her arms whose mouth and nose are covered in blood. “His heart’s stopped!” She cries, and Arthur’s head swims with responsibility and confusion.

Ishi Nakamura brings a hand to her forehead, brows pinched together, struggling to stay standing. At her side, Joy lays a hand on the small of her back, another at her shoulder. Joy turns her attention to the young woman laying in the middle of this carnage, barely a teenager.

The sudden surge of radioactive light from Miguel Cambria’s hand draws all eyes as he approaches the girl, the bones in his fist glowing white hot as atomic fire surges up his arm. No one stops him as he approaches the girl, raises his fist…

…and sees dark brown eyes flutter open and stare at him.

“어디…” she says in a confused whisper. Miguel falters, his fist unclenches, and the atomic fire in his hand goes out.

“I don’t speak Korean,” Miguel says, almost to himself more than anyone else. He blinks back tears in his eyes, lets the rain wash them away, and takes a knee beside the girl who up until a moment ago was the personification of power and fear.

Arthur Petrelli is frozen in place, clutching the baby to his chest, looking around the rooftop and then the sky above.

The spiral aurora is nearly gone.

They won

Thirty-Six Years Later

Saint Anne Catholic Church
Detroit, Michigan

February 28th

…but the battle wasn’t over.

Inside the Cathedral, calls go unanswered.

There is no response from Niki, from Adam, from anyone. Soldiers that had followed Joy look equally confused, trying multiple broadcast frequencies trying to get an answer from anyone in authority. But there is no one.

“Gillian,” Peter whispers, reaching over for her but finding himself coming short. He swallows dryly, and all Gillian can hear is the keening sound of her daughter crying over her dying father, having only just been reunited, and having him taken away again.

Joy is tense, helplessness in her eyes as she looks around. “Adam?” She asks into her earpiece. “Adam?” The desperation in her voice each time is palpable. “Kensei?” Comes as a whisper, and when the line is silent it is all Joy can do to keep herself together.

«Is this on?» A voice calls out over the comms. «Hello?»


“Alix! Where’s Adam?” Joy barks before anyone else replies.

«I… I can’t find him, because of the— plurality? But I found it.»

It? Joy’s chest tightens.

«I found Uluru.»

Uluru!” Unaware of the findings within the cathedral, Jac howls with her search. “You coward!” Few words are wasted on taunting. She turns abruptly, facing the door that leads back inside. Pacing isn't getting her anywhere.

Her head tilts back, and as soon as the spiking, reaching cathedral tower is within her sight, the girl vanishes

and reappears at the greater height. A better point to see and search. She clings like a gargoyle, looming over the square below. “Where are you,” Jac asks out loud as she surveys the world below, her voice rough from yelling and anger.

And of course Gillian couldn’t find Jac. She was starting to wish teleportation hadn’t been one of the many abilities that she had been given, but at the same time, it had gotten her out of the creature’s grasp. “She really doesn’t know how to stay close, does she…” she murmurs quietly, before looking down at Peter, laying there. There’s not even an attempt to stop crying as she reaches down and touches his head, recoiling a little as the gloves get in the way. “I’m okay. You… are you okay, Lene?” she asks quietly, looking over at her daughter from the future. Chicken as Eve had always called her. A nickname that many might not understand, cause it didn’t mean coward at all.

The voice over the radio, everything. There’s so much that she wants to do, to see, to stop. She wanted to find Jac. “«Jac, are you there?»” No answer. But she’d been thrown around so hard she couldn’t imagine she had managed to hold onto her radio in all that.

“«Niki?»” she tries one more time, before setting her weapon down at her side.

There were things she wanted to do still. But there was something she needed to do right here. She’d have to believe what Squeaks had been saying for months. That she was ready. That she could do this. “You should get out there, Joy. Chess. Find Jac. Go after… it.”

With a shallow breath, putting both of her gloved hands on Peter, she opens up to that energy inside her again, trying once again to give some of it into Peter, hoping he has regeneration. Hoping to find something that would allow him to hold on. Everything felt off about her ability, still, like her senses were ringing. It was like trying to hear a conversation after a gunshot went off near her ears.

Chess stops, nearly to the door, when she hears Alix’s voice. She covers her mouth to keep the sob from sounding in the demolished church, and she can’t keep herself from looking to where she’s left Ivy between two pews.

She wonders idly how many sisters will be left. Her ears echo with Niki’s voice. Lanhua. I’m sorry. The last words she’d heard her say. She isn’t sure what the radio silence means. She doesn’t want to know.

Her own eyes hold anger, grief, and fear when she meets Joy’s. Chess knows she wasn’t the proper soldier; she didn’t do what was asked of her without questioning Adam’s authority — but what was asked was impossible, and not just because she was staring into the face of a beloved friend when the Entity claimed the face of Eve Mas. The plan was off the rails before they even entered the church.

Why is a question that she wants answered, but she sets it aside for the moment.

“Take me with you. We stand a better chance if Eve can fight from inside it at the same time, yeah?” Chess’ voice is ragged. She begins to pick her way through the rubble back toward Joy, reaching out her hand. “If I can get through to her again — even if she knows she can’t survive it, she might help us. I swear to God she was in there. For a second she was there, not just that thing wearing her skin.”

Chess tips her head. “«Where, Alix?»”

«Uhh… Plaza? Some uh, there’s big towers nearby. It’s…» Alix groans, straining to see at such vast distances. «Chess I— I don’t know if I can— w-water. By the water. There’s a— a— »

Alix struggles with her vision, and Chess can hear the battle in a tinny voice through her comms. «There’s a— a fountain with a weird— weird //ring sculpture. I don’t…//»

Another voice, nearly identical to Alix’s but softer in tone and slower to speak chimes in. «Hart Plaza.»

«Val!» Alix shouts over the comms. «Val, where are you!?»

«On a roof,» Val says quietly. «The— ship crashed. I almost went with it. I don’t know where the Director is.»

There’s a rippling haze of rainbow-colored light in front of Chess, and Val manifests in the flesh beside her. “It’s not far,” she says with a look back into the cathedral. “I could take you?” Her dark eyes angle back up to Chess with hope and uncertainty.

In the cathedral, Peter’s breathing has hastened. Lene hasn’t answered her mother’s question, for lack of stalling her tears. The most she’s managed to say is Dad in a small whimper, desperately clutching the hand of a man she traveled through time to try and save.

Gillian is in no shape to keep fighting, not now. Not with her daughter unwilling to move from her father’s side, not with Peter barely clinging on to life. But he is doing precisely that, clinging.

And Gillian fails to see the oil-slick of rainbow-colored light shimmering across her eyes.

You,” Joy says from not far away to the Praxis soldiers, “gather your men, get the other machine, and meet us at the plaza. Go!” The soldiers dip their heads into a nod, running back out of the cathedral past chess.

“Dragonslayer 3, this is Trident. We need an air evac to Hart Plaza.” Chess hears one of the soldiers say over the radios.

From her perch atop the cathedral, Jac can see Joy and Chess gathering near the entrance, soldiers moving out and waiting for something. In the near distance, a small two-engine aircraft comes zipping out from behind one of the skyscrapers, about the size of a small helicopter, the Praxis Heavy Industries logo on the side.

There’s no sign of Uluru.

The girl doesn't call out when she first sees movement below. She tenses, eyes narrowing. A hand grips roofing tile, ready to throw at whoever has appeared, until recognition sets in. Jac relaxes slightly, seeing Praxis soldiers, Joy, and even Chess.

Her mom and Lene must be inside still with that… whoever it was.

“I can't find it,” she half yells into the communications piece that's no longer in her ear. Jac lifts a hand to touch her ear while a look angles over her shoulder at the sound of an approaching craft. Her head whips back to look down on Joy and the gathering of soldiers when she discovers she's cut off from the others. Finding the earpiece gone is momentarily frightening, a swelling sensation that she huffs at.

There's no time.

The teen stands tall, for just a second, then teleports. She appears at Joy’s side with a crackle of electrical charge. She doesn't say anything of her inability to locate Uluru, obviously if she'd found it they'd all know somehow. But instead she gives the woman a worried, seeking look. Who has died?

As everyone starts to leave the church, Gillian settles down more next to Peter and Lene, not so much getting comfortable, just not wanting to move. She looked down at her suit and wondered how much it still functioned. It had been flashing red and giving all kinds of warnings before she stopped bothering to even look at the HUD anymore. The joints felt stiffer, though, and moving this far had been awkward. Everything about this felt like the war they had fought years ago, down to the rubble on the floor around them, and the person dying next to her when she could do nothing.

With effort, she pulls her hands away from Peter to get at least her gloves off. Tears streak her face, as they drop to the ruined floor. Everything hurt, suddenly, some things more than others. Maybe the suit hadn’t absorbed as much of the damage as she thought.

Or maybe it was just registering now that the adrenaline was fading.

“This was a complete mess,” She’s rambling a little, at this point, as if talking would make things easier. Raspy as her voice almost always was, it was worse due to the tightness of pain and fading energy. “If we see an Adam again, remind me not to let him plan anything… Not even a game night…” She avoids looking in the direction of the blood smears that were once Adams. Or the body that had been the young woman who saved their life on the plane with her ability.

How many others were laying dead and alone out there?

At least she could make sure Peter wasn’t alone. Her hand, now no longer gloved, touches Peter’s cheek, “I forgot to tell you I liked the beard.”

Val’s arrival draws a startled breath from Chess, who throws her arms around her sister in a sudden, tight hug. They’re still mostly strangers, despite near-identical DNA, but after the losses of Ivy and Vi, the same face alive is desperately needed.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, stepping back and pressing her lips together to keep another sob at bay. But she nods at the offer, casting a look back at where Gillian and Lene cry over Peter; her brows draw together and she takes a deep breath, steeling herself.

Chess glances at Squeaks’ reappearance at Joy’s side, then back to Val as she places her ungloved hand in the teleporter’s.

As it becomes increasingly clear that Chess, Joy, and Jac are going this alone, Val closes the circle with them, taking Chess’ hand. Jolene looks up from her father, for just a moment, and exchanges a meaningful if wordless look to Chess that is at once hopeful and apologetic.

A moment later, they are gone in a haze of rainbow light.

Lene turns to her mother, taking her hand with a blood-slicked grip. At least they were together…

…for however much longer they all had.


Outside the Raytech Renaissance Building

It had been under thirty minutes since this crisis started. Two Praxis Heavy Industries aircraft were still hovering over the city, their quad rotors noisily churning the air. Two had crashed down behind the silhouette of skyscrapers now belching black smoke and ash into the air. For Warren Ray and Devi Ezell, the exit from the executive secure shelter was delayed only by Warren’s search for the appropriate piece of technology.

He leaves the lobby of the Raytech Renaissance Building through the south exit on the street closest to the river. Traffic is congested on both sides of the road in front of the building, though the street is mostly clear of bystanders now.

Armored for a fight and armed with what amounts to a harpoon gun fused with a tesla coil, Warren can see a myriad collection of visual stimuli drawing his attention. First the smoke, then the sound of screams, the distant aircraft only now beginning to pull away from their positions. A flight of sleek black drones move like a school of fish through the air, zipping off in a westerly direction toward the sound of panicked crowds of people.

Not far behind Warren and Devi, Elisabeth Harrison emerges from the cathedralesque glass lobby of the Raytech building with her personal bodyguard hot on her heels. In her earpiece, Liz can hear directions coming from the people in the command center of the bunker.

«Ms. Harrison, there is an ongoing security situation two blocks west of you at Hart Plaza. The man Mr. Ray identified as Baruti Naidu is there along with what appears to be Eve Mas? Mx. Evans and Ms. Ray are also there.»

Warren and Devi can hear the communications coming through the speaker in his prosthetic arm, even if the information isn’t directed at him.

Being a person, or, perhaps, who someone is, or what it means to be that person, it isn't often something that many people have an opinion about. At least, not when it comes to others. Sure, 'this is an awful person', or 'i like this person', 'that guy makes great pizza', the typical thoughts one has about others.

But for Warren Ray, the very nature of his mind, his motivations, his morality, and his sanity are all brought into question by many people around him. Warren Ray considers this in the first few seconds that he exits the building. He considers that just as he considers the drones above him, the message coming from the comes, how he could improve the No Parking sign not far from them.

"We're going to Eve. She's not going to be anywhere we don't need to be!" he states as a matter of fact, and immediately starts heading down the street in his skin tight power armor, .50-cal golden Desert Eagles modified with thermite bullets holstered to his side, harpoon hefted over his shoulder.

"My brother is well-meaning! You know, well, of course you know." he talks for the two women near him, Elisabeth and Devi. "But Richard is led by a sense of destiny, a sense of fate! He's smart in his own way, he's a wise man! But he doesn't understand that probability is, well, probability! The only way to fight probability is to create an improbable scenario. In all my therapy, in all the ways I've improved my mind, I've become able to see my brother's flaws more clearly! I want to believe in him and love him unconditionally, but I have to know when to say no, the Looking Glass is proof of that."

He looks back at Elisabeth and smiles from behind his helmet, "No offense.", and turns back to where he's walking. "I am the third most intelligent person on Earth, my mind is full of chaos, and I'm exercising a lot of restraint not to… wait a minute, actually disregard that. Devi, shoot those drones while we walk. Don't stop or slow down. Elisabeth, don't strain yourself yet."

He draws a gun with his free hand, beginning to fire thermite bullets at the drones. He doesn't use more than one bullet for each drone, trying to fire at mechanically vulnerable points in their designs. "As I was saying! I've been thinking about the time that woman with the smoky voice augmented me years ago, and how it's been the driving force of many of my major actions since that point. A part of one grand design. Something that I can't quite put into words. Not a machine, not in the traditional sense… more like the world, and all of these things that happen in it, these things that break it."

"I believe that perhaps what I saw isn't about building, but about fixing! Fixing the gears of the world when they go out of place, like what's happening now. Richard wants to build, but sometimes you have to know when not to build! That's what my therapist tells me." He fires at another drone. "Richard isn't always right, and since my brain is fucked, I can't always convince him that he isn't always right! So I'll just have to show him. Our father isn't absolute, his ability has a flaw, and like any good engineer, I know how to exploit a flaw in a machine."

He looks back at Devi and asks, "Did you bring any of those finger foods from the meeting? Were there finger foods? I can never tell if I'm seeing things that shouldn't be there or if Seren is making things that shouldn't be there."

"Acknowledged," Elisabeth says into her comm. "Warren!" Her tone is sharp and meant to catch his attention. "Stop rambling about how smart you are and get your head in this game. If you want any chance whatsoever of getting Eve back from that thing that has taken her over, I need you."

She doesn't slow her smooth gait as she catches up with Warren and Devi, urging them to pick up their own speed as she runs past them. "Keep up, both of you." She doesn't have to say it to Mike Gordon, the ManMountain who keeps pace with her. "Devi, we need to find a way to make those industrial-sized Banshees on the SPOT knock-offs fire at Eve. The vibrational field that Adam was trying to use to contain her is down, so this may be the only shot we have. Warren, remember what happened when we came through the gate at Sunspot? You and I might, just maybe, be able to use those resonance frequencies to force it back out of her. Maybe even kill it." And hopefully not kill Eve. If she's not already dead. Elisabeth can't allow that thought right now.

"Don't shoot any cops! Only Adam or Naidu's people. And for the love of God, keep the collateral damage to a minimum where we can!" she admonishes Warren with a glare back specifically at him. "Projectiles are useless against this entity. And we're the ones who're gonna be stuck cleaning up the mess!" Of course, if the missile destroys the body the Entity wants to take and the asshole who got Nathalie and Claire killed, well… not necessarily a bad result either.

There’s a jagged nod of a helmet as Liz catches up. “Glad you decided to join us, Mamasita.” The slim, lanky frame beneath gives a restless bob of her shoulders as though she’s about to start breakdancing. And, hell - she just might! Someone’s given her permission to shoot things, after all! Adjusting her stride and stretching into the fit of the unfamiliar armor, the biker bitch anchors the ass end of the Raytech modified rifle into the cradle of her shoulder.

Beneath her helmet inky darkness changes the perspective of the world before her eyes. The cars, the drones, the simple mechanisms in the skyscrapers rotating or sliding entry ways. It all lights up as gears and possibility - for creation or destruction.

“I’m going to be perfect honest-” CRACK! She barks a laugh of surprised exhilaration as the rifle’s kickback rocks familiarly. “Fuck yes,” she purrs and then carries on, husky voice raised to a coarse rasp over the chaos. “I have no fucking idea what is going on! You point, I’ll fetch.” Several more shots designed to target the drones’ Achilles heel fire across the sparking blueprint of the war-torn cityscape. “I’m a good Bitch.”

The black drones would normally be resilient to small-arms fire, but not when they are fired by the likes of Devi Ezell. It is with an intuitive grace that she finds the weakest point on each fast-moving vessel, training a crack shot on the air intake vents to the sides of the engines. A single shot it all it takes to collapse the aluminum vent frames and send a tumbling round bouncing around inside the engine.

Warren, likewise, faces almost no resistance when targeting the drones. His only setback is range, with his high-caliber handguns having a much shorter dropoff than Devi’s rifle. But what he lacks in stopping power, he makes more than up for in being able to predict the defensive routines of drones based off of his and Hector’s original designs. He knows how they’ll bank to avoid incoming gunfire, leading them directly into Devi’s line of fire.

The black drones careen to the ground with each shot fired, spinning out of control and crashing into the street like sleek, black knives. They erupt in large plumes of smoke but very little fire, indicating just how little fuel they were running on. The drones do not appear to circle back for a retributive attack, their focus seems strangely centered on something else, beginning to circle like vultures around the nearby Hart Plaza.

It makes for picking them off even easier.

Warren and Devi both, in their shooting gallery, assess the machines purposes from analyzing their behavior. They’re hunters, not entirely unlike real live birds of prey. But these arrowhead-shaped drones appear to have found whatever it is they’re designed to locate, circling that plaza as they are. But what Warren and Devi can’t tell from the ground is what the circling is for, as there is no immediate external sign of purpose. Maybe they’re just like… beacons.

The trio’s run up along the riverside, past crowds of screaming and fleeing civilians, will give them some time to assess the threat.


Hart Plaza

Baruti Naidu has not moved from his kneeling state, head bowed and eyes closed. The dark-haired and blood-covered woman that he prostrates himself to has not so much as acknowledged his presence, instead seeming focused on the body of Claire Bennet. She has taken a knee by Claire’s side, one hand on her chest and the other in the air.

Bones in Eve Mas’ arms glow through her flesh a pale yellow color, while her flesh phosphoresces with a vibrant lime green light. Sparks of energy dance and sing around her hands, like the embers of some great emerald flame. The air ripples, pinches, and distorts around her hands, and her eyes — gold ringed — now burn with a pinpoint of green at the middle.

The soldiers have taken a few steps back from the scene, mixed between facing inwardly toward Baruti and the Entity and facing outward toward the Plaza, three of them still training their rifles on Seren and Valerie, demanding they get back.

The sight of everything that happened so suddenly has caused Valerie’s projection to start to flicker as she desperately wants to go back to her body and stop seeing this. It’s the glance toward Seren that keeps her from doing that, as she spreads her arms in a gesture of harmlessness and looks in their direction. “You need to get out of here, Seren!” she yells to Seren, cause any attempt at distraction that they may have been willing to try certainly wasn’t going to do anything.

Not with someone kneeling to a crazy lady who Valerie only really knew from reputation. She’d never actually met Eve, but she had heard enough about her to know she— wasn’t right right now.

It wasn’t just the glowing eyes and the glowing bones and everything that she was doing while someone bowed to her. But that was definitely a big chunk of it.

She doesn’t shift to somewhere else, she doesn’t move closer, in fact she’s backing away— in the general direction of Seren. She won’t leave until they do, cause she felt some strange responsibility for them being here still at all. Leadership was hard. She needed to hug her brother later.

The barn-owl coloring across Baird's tiger form darkened at the horror of the woman— Claire— being shot in the middle of the plaza. He settled down into a defensive position, growling in a deep rumble, lips drawn back over teeth. It's a rattle which eased only slightly at the woman that appeared in a bend of colorful light. His protective stance on his summoner's behalf lessens none, amber eyes narrowed.

Meanwhile, Seren still sits astride the unicorn, one hand clasped over their mouth in horror. They've got guns pointed at them stil, and the woman, she's got blood on her feet, and—

"Eve?" Seren voices loudly enough that it carries, even through their fingers, dread threaded in it for how this all feels so wrong. The yellow glow that's so unlike the red cloud of energy that normally makes up the once-seer, along with the green reveal something to be different.

That… and those gold eyes.


Their hand falls from their face as it begins to dawn on them, their head turning back in the direction of the Raytech tower, standing high over the Detroit skyline. It was a view they'd not properly appreciated before, when the streets were not filled with jets and drones and death— when they couldn't have imagined these events happening here, much less today. The words and the recollections of the horrible events they'd seen in a dream come back to them unbidden. "An unending circle of death…." Slowly, they look back to the woman lying dead on the ground.

The words are burned into their mind, a terrible kind of awe leading them to leave their mount, which resumes its mundane form. They've come to a realization.

"The Resurrection is upon us," Seren echoes in a daze.

Neither Seren Evans nor Valerie Ray have full context for what it is they are witnessing. Neither of them know the ability that is on display, one that causes bones to phosphoresce gold under lime green flesh, one that causes sparks of emerald light to dance like fireflies in the air. There is a distinct subsonic whine that comes with the ability that builds to a crescendo and then collapses into a rich crackling like those gold, sparkly fireworks on the 4th of July.

What both Seren and Valerie do see looks like a film being played backwards. A storm of violent green light blossoms and blooms around the entity’s hands, moves in shimmering waves like visible sound down into Claire Bennet’s corpse. But slowly, the entity seems to lift her up from the ground, her clothes rippling and flowing as though played in reverse. Even the fragments of Claire’s skull, her hair, everything that was destroyed by the blast of a rail gun comes whirling back together amid crackling bolts of vibrant green energy.

Valerie and Seren watch as Claire’s head is seamlessly welded back together by this intense, flashing light, so much so that every single drop of blood on her body seems to vanish entirely. But the entity does not stop there. With redoubled effort, she throws her hands at Claire and the revisions in time wind backward. Claire’s hair changes length several times, going from shoulder length to a pixie cut, back long again, bangs, no bangs, all the while she seems unaging. But then

her hair turns brown.

The swirling haze of green and gold light swirling around Claire and the entity do not change, they simply continue to churn like clouds of sand swirling in crystal clear water. Until finally, and horrifyingly, there is a crack of green lightning that erupts from the entity’s hands and causes every street light on the block to detonate with a shower of sparks.

Claire Bennet is thrown backwards onto her hands and heels, still dressed in the strange attire she arrived with Baruti in, but no longer possessing the expression of delirium she once had. Her eyes display a twin expression of confusion, and understandably, anger.

“There you are,” the entity says in Eve Mas’ voice. “You kept me waiting.

“Eve?” Claire blinks a few times at the woman in front of her, head tilting ever so slightly to one side with her confusion. “How….?” Her brows furrow as she tries to recollect what just happened, hand lifting to brush a hand through hair, only to find her arm decoratively draped. Slowly, Claire pushes to her feet, looking out at the world around her. Brows reverse direction as she sees the chaos around them. “What’s going on?” She asks her friend, not realizing this wasn’t the Eve she knew. “You look different….”

Then Claire sees him.


The word growled at Baruti is dripping with venom, fingers curl into tight fists that turn her knuckles white. Claire doesn’t have a weapon… but she does have a mean right hook, which she attempts to use on the kneeling man. “You fucking bastard!” The regenerator throws all her weight into that punch.

“Oh no.” No no no no. This was not good at all. Valerie couldn’t stop the little sounds she’s making, even though she has no lungs to really gasp with in this form. It’s all mental the way she’s making sounds of confusion and protest and fear and worry. She keeps glancing away toward Seren, hoping to see them jumping on a damn dragon and getting the hell out of here. In one case, what she was seeing could be taken as a miracle. To her, it felt like an abomination.

Her image flickers a little again, and this time she does shift to be next to Seren. Her hand goes on their arm, and she’s actually touching them. Or at least that’s what it feels like, as she forces her telepathic projection to project to the mind in such a way that she really does feel solid. And for the moment, maybe she is. “We need to get out of here. This is too much for us. I’m sure my brother is on the way already.”

Her voice doesn’t shake with emotion, but it still sounds very unsettled. This was the kind of stuff that her family seemed to deal with on a yearly basis from the stories she heard. Stories were different than seeing, and this situation was still new to her. She’d only really been in something like this once, when she had been shot, when Molly had died, when they failed to do anything that seemed to matter in the end.

If there's anything this is, too much is an apt descriptor.

Baird flinches and hunkers down when the fantastic display finishes with the shattering of glass all around them, but Seren unblinkingly continues to walk toward the event slowly, the shine of green and yellow reflecting in their silver-gleaming eyes. Not knowing exactly what happened prevents them none from appreciating the awesome power of it.

A woman who was dead walks again, changed.

And she's angry. There's the Wolfhound Seren would expect. It helps them develop an understanding of what's happening— even if only on a very small scale. The guys with the guns are definitely bad, and Claire wasn't here willingly. With a blink, Seren comes back to themself and turns to talk to Valerie, but she's already there, hand on their arm. At first all they can do is stand there, words failing to come. Finally, they lay a hand over Valerie's. They understand, but…

Seren turns back to the scene, to Claire and— Eve? With hope, the men won't shoot on them. Maybe they'll continue to put a healthy distance between themselves and the woman with the many powers. "Claire! Eve! It's dangerous here. Come on!" For just a moment they look to the other source of danger in the armed men, but they remain just as worried about the threat from above. It's with genuine worry for both women that they take another step forward, closer to the more familiar form Eve poses, even in the strange state she's in. Their hand alights down to Baird's back for comfort, touching the back of his neck as he steps forward with them, imposing and protective. "We have to get out of here! Let's go!"

Baruti Naudi goes down from the punch, having been completely blindsided in his reverent kneeling with his eyes shut. He lands on his shoulder on the concrete, swiftly followed up with a kick to the midsection by the furious Claire Bennet. He rolls onto his back with the blow, but when his bodyguards turn and train fire on Claire he throws up a hand and shouts, “No!

That is when Eve seems to notice them. But she turns, at first to Seren as if in recognition of her name. Eve, lays burning gold eyes on Seren and tilts her head to the side. “So much imagination,” she says in a haunting voice, “I like you.”

As the entity says that in Eve’s voice, her gold eyes flare and Baruti’s guards who had raised guns even remotely in their direction all buckle onto their knees. They choke, gag, scream, and writhe. One mercenary soldier catches fire and drops his gun, screaming and wailing as he flails around and then collapses into an incendiary pile on the ground. Another of them just gasps breathlessly, holding his throat and kicking his legs, face turning red and then purple as he suffocates on oxygen. Two more of the mercenaries begin to decompose like old fruit, turning brown and then black and rotting away into wet piles of putrid meat in front of Claire, Seren, and Valerie.

Satisfied with her work, the entity turns back toward Claire, fully ignoring Baruti who is on his back and scrambling away from his attacker.

In that same moment there’s a sudden displacement of air and a swirling haze of rainbow-colored light as multiple people materialize in the middle of the plaza. Chess, Jac, and Joy appear in a triangle around the pink-haired silhouette of Val. The moment Joy materializes, the entity whips around with wide eyes.

Sharur,”1 the entity says to Joy, her voice hitching in her throat, gold eyes expressing a look of abject confusion and betrayal.

As the veil of rainbow colors fades into memory, and the reality of world-ending prophecy returns with all the force of a Mac truck, Jac forces herself to pause for a second. She takes a breath. The scene unfolds with such a clarity, she picks up the details with a sharpness to rival any student studying for final exams. Some soldiers, decayed things, so many people yelling, green light. Uluru.

The Kensei sword — her sword.

Blue eyes flash in a look up to Joy. The time is now, there are no more chances. Understanding of that fact carries remembrance of a bond, spoken of once when the teen shared a quiet moment with her friend and mentor in the shallows of what was once Washington Park Beach.

Jac breaks from the circle, releasing Joy's hand as she turns. Several hastened steps carry her small form in a near run until, with the excited crackle and snap of electricity, the girl teleports.

She reappears an instant later, standing beside her sword. Her presence lasts only long enough to reclaim what was stolen. As her fingers wrap tightly around the familiar hilt, before she can even straighten fully, Jac teleports away again.

Energy pops and splinters in miniature arcs of lightning when the teenager appears once more, this time a couple of meters from her last position. But again, her appearance lasts just part of a second as she sets herself up in a random orbit within the square.

When Val brings the three women from one disaster to another, Chess stares with wide eyes at the chaos and destruction in the plaza, her gaze alighting on the bodies and dying men, then on Claire, Baruti, Seren. Without context, she doesn’t know who’s an enemy and who isn’t — but the safe bet is all of them see her as theirs.

Eve — or the thing wearing Eve’s body at the moment — turning her attention on Joy draws Chess out of her daze and into action. With a grimace, she pulls a blade from a hidden slot in her suit, turning it in her hand as she charges it for a few seconds, her eyes tearing up in anticipation of what she’s willing herself to do.

She steps in front of Joy and, with a practiced flick of her wrist, sends the blade hurtling toward Uluru — she knows it won’t kill the Entity but she hopes it will shake her, startle her a moment, give her a chance to find Eve within.

“Fight it, Eve! Fight her with us!” Chess cries out, her voice hoarse as she tries to both save and hurt the woman she sees as family — as much or more than she does her blood relatives standing nearby.

“Fight it for me!” It’s a selfish ask, but a human one, and it’s the human behind those gold eyes that Chess is trying to reach.

Valerie’s hand, which had been solid for a moment against Seren’s arm, suddenly loses solidity and passes through their arm and body as the projection flickers once again under the horrific sight of what happened to those gunmen. They had scared her, certainly, but she wouldn’t have wished that upon anyone. Ever. And she wishes she hadn’t seen it. It was somehow even worse than the sudden shock of what had happened to Claire, both times. It takes everything she has not to shift away and find one of her brothers.

Everything mostly being the fact that Seren still seemed to believe that this was something they could do anything about. That they could do anything to help this thing that was not Eve and Claire Bennet escape.

“I don’t— she’s not— you really need to leave.” Was she supposed to order someone? Valerie didn’t know. She could barely even make orders to her teams in the architecture division! It was usually just ‘can you please do this by this time’ and not a hard order. What would her father have done? What would Kaylee have done? She trusted that both of them would have known what to do if they were here instead of her.

What would her brothers do?

Probably something they would never want her to do.

Seren's intense concern flickers with surprise, posture relaxing when 'Eve' addresses them. The silver in their eyes glimmer, all while the gold in the Entity's eyes flare, and Seren chokes back a gasp, startling a step backward as the guards with their guns all begin to suffer for having trained their weapons their way.

For all their imagination, never would they imagine something like this. At their side, Baird loses his shape and form, the damage to Seren's psyche instant. The bold and snarling tiger becomes a dark and grayed thing bereft of its wings, possibly still four-legged but low to the ground. No further sound comes from it.

Not even the dancing rainbow of light that deposits even more people can distract them, save them from seeing what's been burned into their eyes. And of course, it's only just begun, hasn't it?

Wordlessly, their head whips to Chess making her plea, and then back to Eve. They don't understand. They stumble their first step back from the scene finally, reaching for Valerie as though she were really there for them to grab onto for support. "Valerie," they singularly plea. No miss, this time.

Seren would cry, but they're too horrified to do so. "Okay. Okay," they agree with Valerie, far too late to stop from being hurt, even if no harm physically befell them.

The swarm of drones overhead seem to lose their singular focus on Eve, the single-minded rotation around her shifting instead to take equal interest in everyone occupying Hart Plaza.

For a moment, Eve Mas looks squarely at Chess as the blade spins end over end in her direction. For a moment — just a moment — there is a shadow of the woman Chess knows in the entity’s stolen eyes. But in an instant, it is gone. In that instant, the blade takes a sharp right turn and spirals into the line of stalled traffic. The blade lodges in the right rear side of a nearby car and explodes, launching the vehicle’s tire into the air and bucking the car up and then back down again.

The passengers in the struck vehicle scramble out, screaming, as do the passengers in adjacent vehicles. They flee to the north, crossing lanes of stalled traffic, looking back over their shoulders in horror at the scene of carnage just now starting.

The entity’s gold eyes flicker and gutter as they turn from Chess to lock on Joy. Adam’s once-and-future love springs into action ahead of Jac, discorporating into an energy-attenuated form that resembles a leaping stream of ink that only rematerializes adjacent to the entity. She lifts her hand out, extending spread fingers and a plume of blue flame erupts down her arm and rolls over Eve Mas completely, leaving only a burning silhouette within.

The entity emerges from the flames only partly injured, her clothing singed and flesh pink but not incinerated. She flicks a look back at Joy with narrowed eyes. “I gave you him! Hunter and Guardian!” She throws her arms to the side. “This is how you betray me? Again!?” The entity’s anger manifests as a wave on the ground, of concrete and asphalt rising up as if it were water to lift her some ten feet into the air on octagonal columns of stone like basalt.

“You are a dead thing!” The entity screams, her eyes flaring as Joy grabs her head and exhales a wailing cry, dropping to her knees as blood runs from her eyes, nose, and mouth. The rock columns that the entity stands on collapse away into piles of crumbling chalk and dirt, leaving her hovering in the air. Her attention fixes not on Chess, but on Claire and Baruti.

The entity extends a yank, yanking Claire off of her feet with telekinesis, turning her around and pulling her up to her where she hovers in the air. “You,” the entity says in Eve Mas’ voice, “and I…”

Gold irises flare brightly.


Claire suddenly screams as she feels something dig inside of her body, like a thousand hooks grasping at something within her. Seething waves of pinkish-red light slither and twist from her like some kind of aurora.

For all the eerie quality of the building around her, Claire finds herself unperturbed by the empty rooms. Lack of activity can only be a good thing in this situation. A full house would be less than ideal. She isn't sure what she'll do with this knowledge that there are several empty rooms, but it's filed away. He looks so much older and more fragile laying on the bed than in the photographs she's seen in Peter's apartment, on Nathan's desk and in Angela's home, but there's no mistaking it.

This man is Arthur Petrelli.

"This is my grandfather?" Claire's brows knit together in equal parts concern and apprehension. She approaches the bed slowly, staying out of arm's reach. "I thought he was… dead. Everyone did." Though her question's directed at Maury, Claire's eyes are on Arthur and the equipment keeping him alive. "Why doesn't anybody know? His family would be thrilled." Peter and Nathan would be, she imagines. Angela seems to take on a more lukewarm tone when recounting stories of Arthur's part in when the Petrelli family was whole.

That seething aura of red light begins to extend down the Claire’s arm, moving like smoke, toward the entity’s outstretched hand.

The respirator clicks and hisses, in tune with the heart-rate monitor's beeping.


Arthur's mechanical symphony.


He looks so pathetic laying there like that. Lonely. After a few deep breaths, bracing a hand against the wall as she seems to recover her sense of balance, Claire approaches the bed. Slowly. "Do you think he can hear us?" Surely all family members ask that question as they look down on a loved one in a coma. He's not exactly a loved one to Claire, but he's family. Maybe… Maybe there's some truth to what Maury's saying.


Green-blue flits up to regard flashing green making patterns of peaks and valleys. Each rise accompanied by a beep, orchestrating with the punctuation of each breath, the sound of a click. Claire reaches for the man's hand.


The monotonous autonomous chorus rises to its triumphant crescendo.


His hand reaches up in a sudden jerk for hers, as if that small motion was a monumental effort on Arthur's part. There is a sudden and immediate reaction upon Arthur having touched Claire's hand. Her skin reddens and a light flashes across her body. Almost instantly she can see bruises on Arthur's forehead that Molly had inflicted on him healing slowly, bruising folding in on itself like ink being leeched out of cloth.


Then, comes the sharp pain. It's a funny feeling, like a bandaid being pulled off too quickly, magnified tenfold. As Arthur sits up in the bed, the machines begin to beep and chime erratically as tubes snap and pop out from his body. One hand rises, ripping the breathing tube out of his throat with a wet suction sound.

The tube strikes the bed, and Arthur begins to rise up, his hand firmly around Claire's wrist. "I'm sorry, Claire. But I don't have any other choice." His voice is strong, just as the one in Claire's mind was, given a sandpapery texture on the edges.


And as the prolonged physical contact continues, there is a sudden rush of light that surges out from the young woman's body, a bright reddish-pink glow that suffuses Arthur and floods him with a brilliant radiance that is slow to fade.

I’ve missed you so much,” the entity whispers in Eve’s voice, tears welled up in her eyes as that light creeps down Claire’s arm and begins to extend out from her fingertips, “my daughter.

It’s been awhile since Claire felt this terrified for her own life, the familiar sensation shifting and sliding under her skin makes her shudder. So much going on, she doesn’t have time to react to any of it, before she finds herself grabbed. “No…” her voice sounds distant and scared to her own ears. Not again. Blue eyes widen in horror as red energy start oozing from her skin… She was going to lose a part of herself again! It’s enough to start her thrashing in Eve’s telekinetic grasp, jerking her body one way and then the other, helplessly.

One thing she was certain of…. This was definitely not Eve, the woman Claire knew was a seer. This one wielded a variety of abilities. The knowledge is enough to embolden the regenerator.

Claire was a fighter, not a victim!

Clasping her hands together, Claire suddenly twists, swinging them at the Entity's head. “I’m not your daughter,” she half shouts through gritted teeth, tired of everything. The woman just wanted to go home to her father, he needed her.

Energy pops and writhes when Jac appears next, a face lost among many and obscured by heads and shoulders taller than her own. She takes the second-long interlude to get her bearings, to mark where her friends are, wonder who that guy on the ground is. The second ticks over to the next and the teen teleports with a powerful crack, just as the ground heaves and rolls. Her jump takes her upward, a vantage point she'd not yet exploited. The reason becomes obvious as soon as she reappears.

Gravity can be a powerful master. Jac drops to the ground as soon as she reappears. Her form lands crouched, a knee pressing to concrete, sword and arms spread slightly for balance. She shifts her weight to stand, but Joy's cry holds her for an instant.

Her head whips around. Blue eyes first find Chess, alone. A beat later she finds Joy bleeding and wailing. Anger burns hot in her veins.

Time's up.

The girl teleports in rapid bursts, short jumps that close the distance between herself and the Entity. She comes at an angle, using Claire's sudden presence and closeness to Uluru as a shield until the very last moment. The snap and crack of her charge grows more violent with every transport, but she no longer cares to play safe with her gifts.

Jac screams as she reappears next, her last jump bringing her well within reach of her target. The emotion-filled sound pulses and thrums within the ears, a siren's song compared to the Raytech Banshees, but just as dangerous. The teen's hands likewise attack now that she's within range, and both go for the Entity's body. Jac grabs for any part of the woman she can get hold of, the other with the sword thrusts for Uluru's center mass.

“No!” Chess shouts when the entity reroutes her blade into the traffic, watching horrified when it strikes the car — innocent lives within. She sighs with relief when the passengers exit the vehicle, and turns back to the terrifying scene before her.

A few quick steps bring her to Joy, to put herself in front of the bleeding, agonized woman. This time it’s the bow Chess pulls off her shoulder, an arrow charged as she slides it into place — she’s slower this time, calculating, to account for the other fighters, allies in this fray; her dark eyes narrow as she considers the angles and risks — not to mention the Entity’s telekinetic ability to send Chess’ projectiles in another direction.

I’m sorry, Eve. Those glimpses of the Eve she knows give Chess hope, but that hope is a dying ember with every second that passes.

Chess takes aim — visualizing where she wants the arrow to strike, where she wants the arrow to turn. Practiced fingers pull back the bowstring and release, to send the arrow at threefold speed through the air, past the entity, only to do a U-turn to speed toward her from behind.

“You need to get out of here,” Valerie finds herself repeating as she continues to flicker in horror. The flickering is due to her distraction, her desire to get back in her body where it was safe, her desire to find her brothers or sister. Her desire to do something besides watch. It’s only after she starts to repeat it again that she realizes that Seren had actually said okay and was willing to leave this terrible sight. Her eyes catch on Baird, who had always been colorful and beautiful every time she’d seen him, and she recognizes what all this means, the terrible evidence of what was happening around them, and the effect it had on his creator. Valerie needed to protect them.

Suddenly she looks more solid, but her clothes change— shifting to something a little more street ready. Specifically pants. When she projected, she almost always wore skirts or a dress, because that’s almost always what she wore in her wheelchair. Getting pants on was difficult at best, after all. “Let's… let’s try to get the rest of the people out of here.” The ones from the blown up car had run, but how many others who hadn’t? Were there people stuck in their cars, or animals who might get abandoned or children who can’t move quickly due to car seats. It was something— something that they could do.

“But you still can go. I can… direct people.” Physically helping would be difficult though. As the fight around them started getting heated that was literally the only thing she could think to do. She hadn’t been much of a distraction earlier. Maybe Seren could do better, but she wasn’t about to order them to do something so dangerous.

Seren's tones of concern and confusion turn into a yelp when the knife Chess throws explodes on redirect into a nearby vehicle. Threads of darker substance haze off of Baird's form as he bounds back and more closely to their side, protective against the danger for all the little he can actually do about it.

Valerie's words provide them purpose they need to move, a life preserver that drags them back to the present in a meaningful way— accompanied by an actual scramble of movement backward that saves them from being caught up in wave of rolling concrete. They can't quite force a smile, or provide any compelling evidence that they'll be all right in their shock at the way everything is going sideways, save for a stutter of a nod in Valerie's direction. "Let's go help who we can," Seren agrees shakily, taking another step back …

But that's as far as they make it, the yoink of Claire into the air and the subsequent glow that comes from her body demanding their attention. Seren's eyes widen again, going from Not-Eve to Claire-Once-More rapidly. The swirl of Baird's energy stills, something about it focusing toward the Entity. Seren's shoulders fall and they step forward of all things, a hopeless surge that strives to make itself of use.

"No," they whisper. Wasn't what was done to Claire already enough? Couldn't it be enough?

It should be. It must be.

Seren's eyes gleam, willing it so. The silver in them shift…

And the glow of red around Claire's arms, her fingers shifts. What Claire knows to be true about it differs from what the Entity feels and perceives. Everyone sees that the energy transfers faster, but only the Entity feels that it does.

Be enough.

It feels just like they think it should. Like home. Like everything they've ever imagined.

Be enough.

It feels like the reunion they've longed for.

Hands clenched into fists by their side, Seren's eyes tear up in their unblinking focus, blood streaming from their nose. Baird becomes translucent, glowing the same shade his summoner's eyes gleam. Hope drives them both now. Hope that this works. Hope that everyone gets what they want— hope that no one else has to suffer.

Be enough! their soul shouts.

So many things happen at once.

In an instant, Claire Bennet strikes the Entity in the face, causing her head to jerk back from the blow. She releases Claire from the telekinetic hold, causing her to drop several feet and land in a crouch on the concrete below. The Entity looks down at her, slowly descending.

Gold eyes widen, the Entity fixes a look on the light coming off of Claire’s body as color bends and twists, shifts and warps. Gold eyes are fixed on what was light, but the Entity sees something else entirely.

Inanna.” She whispers with Eve’s mouth.

That’s when Jac appears and grabs the Entity with one hand, fingers curled in a fistful of dark hair from behind.

And the Kensei sword drives through Eve’s back, and out her chest. She chokes in shock, gold eyes wide as fingers curl in the air. Lungs fill with blood, tears well up in the Entity’s eyes, and the light that had been within Claire, that shimmering pinkish-red glow takes shape and form that not even Seren could have imagined:

A hand, reaching out to—

Suddenly, an arrow strikes true.

And everything changes.


Nearby, Just Outside Hart Plaza

An arrowhead-shaped black drone goes spinning out of the sky, crashing down into the river with a plume of spray before its smoke trail is snuffed out by the currents. Warren, Elisabeth, and Devi have made brisk progress across the causeway following the River on a southerly approach to Hart Plaza. The steel sculptures rising up high from the Plaza are just coming into view as they tread swift across sidewalk and street and approach the stairs.

They can hear shouting, screams, and carnage coming from the plaza but it isn’t until they’re reaching the stairs up to the plaza proper that the carnage truly hits. Something explodes in the plaza, a detonation about equivalent to that of a grenade, at first, but then there is a second vacuous shockwave that comes after, followed by an upwards flung plume of white-hot light tinged with shimmering mother of pearl iridescence that burns up into the sky like a column.

The light is blindingly bright and is accompanied by something like a blast wave, but one involving a shimmering wall of pinkish-red light that rolls like a fog over the ground. Rippling shapes, almost like visible audio waves, seethe within the light. Somehow it misses Elisabeth, though she has a hard time telling if it hit Devi or not. Devi, barely able to see over the flare of the light, likewise can’t tell what happened except that she was unharmed. But Warren saw and felt the shockwave hit him, wash over him like a crashing tide and then flow past.

The shockwave shows no sign of stopping, roiling out across the water and up into the sky in an ever-expanding sphere. When it hits the clouds they part and peel away, twisting the heavens into a shape of light that twists Elisabeth’s stomach into knots.

A spiral aurora, reaching out across the horizon.

As they hit the bottom of the stairs, Elisabeth pauses to throw a hand up as the visible shockwave heads toward them. It's not actually rolling over her, but the instinctive movement of expectation also has her bodyguard throwing his bulk into her space as he tries to do his job and protect her by lessening the force that never hits.

Looking up, she can feel the out-of-tune hum all along her nerve endings, vaguely jangling in its discordance. It's unpleasant enough on its own, but as she watches that aurora bloom in the sky, Elisabeth is filled with horror. Not a-fucking-gain…. Oh god.

Clicking the mic attached to her comm, uncertain if they're even working right now, Elisabeth warns the person she fought all those damn portals to get home to. "Red King, if you can hear me … It's singing and I have to shut it down." Or stabilize it. She's not sure which is the right thing to do… but as usual she'll just have to wing it. She's proud of herself in the abstract that the lump in her throat didn't choke her voice.

She looks at Warren. "I need every goddamn Banshee you guys can reach, if you can reach it. It's out of tune again." And then Elisabeth ducks under Mike Gordon's protective arm and bolts up the stairs.

Warren immediately falls to his hands and knees, his harpoon hanging from his side by a secure chain. He then holds his head in visible pain, groaning and struggling in a way that Elisabeth has rarely seen him do. This is a man who has taken gunshots and all sorts of horrible injuries, and just kind of laughed it off, or immediately shot someone.

When he looks up, his chromium eyes are bleeding as they seem to become increasingly reflective, until they're like perfect mirrors instead of chromium spheres. But when the pain subsides, and the brief bleeding stops, he begins to stand up, staggering.

His head turns to Elisabeth, then to Devi, looking around in confusion. He has to hold his head again. "Deja vu…" And then his eyes widen as he takes in everything around him again. "Eve, I have to find Eve!" he shouts, before he just starts running ahead of Elisabeth and Devi, the artificial muscles of his power armor legs starting to flex and push him faster than normal.

He grabs his harpoon, suddenly stopping a few times as he looks up in horror at a random flag falling from a building, and immediately just draws his gun and fires at it, slightly changing its trajectory. Then he starts to run again, and abruptly stops again. He just stares at the ground, stares at the rocks, pieces of shrapnel. The look in his eyes is absolutely overwhelmed.

"I don't understand…" He aims his gun at the ground, but he doesn't fire, he instead kicks a rock, and tries to close his eyes and collect himself. "Eve!!!" he suddenly shouts again, and starts running, trying to ignore the overwhelming stimuli all around him. All he knows is that he needs to get to Eve.

There's so much in his head right now, so much chaos, so much data, but something in him knows he has to get to Eve now! "Eve!!!"

There are butterflies everywhere, so many butterflies that they practically blind him.

But in the midst of them all, there's an Eve shaped one, one that he desperately wants to reach, but he can barely see it through all the chaos.

What is happening.

Is he losing his mind again?

Is he dying?

What is this…

This light. Blinding. Burning. … And not?


The visor on her helmet does little-to-nothing to protect her onyx-ringed eyes from the glaring visual explosion. Instinctively the biker curls into herself in what is very much a ‘tuck-and-roll’ reaction. It’s only when Liz’s words cut through the atmosphere that her body’s anticipating nerves realize… there’s no physical harm. At least, not to her. Squinting through the halo that blurs the world around her, even with her ability set to full throttle, she reaches out towards Warren’s buckled form. “Hey man, hey-…” Her hand hovers - whether from a poor depth perception or unwillingness to actually touch the man, is up for debate.

But, then he’s off. And so is Liz. The dark helmet turns to one side, then the other.

She throws up her armored arms once, bringing them down with a loud slap on her thighs, and begins jogging up the steps.

Toward the screams.

Toward the light.


Saint Anne Catholic Church

There is a quiet serenity now where once there was violence.

A plume of light as bright as the sun shines through the stained-glass windows, casting refractory colors around the church walls. In the middle of the church floor, Peter Petrelli lays dying, staring up at the cathedral ceiling and the mural of the transubstantiation of the soul.

“Come on, just— just hang on a little longer.” Jolene whispers, clutching her father's hand. She has cried all the tears she can for moments in history that were yet to be and nevermore. She had cried all the tears she could for the father she was never allowed to know, and the stranger here who holds such a large place in her heart.

Somehow, amid all of this, Gillian Childs can feel him hanging on. Across myriad timelines, except this one, they had found one-another and stayed together. But somehow it was always this world in which fate drove them apart. Linked through Gillian’s ability, she can feel things she has never experienced before. The knot of energy that represents Expressive powers in her mind feels like it has unraveled not into a single thread, but rather an entire nervous system of light.

Peter’s approaching death is a tangible thing she can perceive and, like a dying sapling, something she can shelter and nurture with her own life. With the blood he’s lost, with the damage he’d taken from that stroke of lightning, Peter should be dead. But Gillian knows, she can feel, that something inside of her has irrevocably changed. She should not be able to perceive life the way she does.

And yet.

“Lene…” Gillian whispers quietly under her breath, that raspy tone of hers wrapped in pain and exhaustion, but also something else that she never expected to feel right now. Hope. A small thin thread of it, stretching across time and space and everything. She is trying to hold onto that thread, trying to nurture it, strengthen it. She hadn’t expected him to have long, when no ability kicked in to save him immediately— but now… that thread of hope was entwined between them. Even if everything hurt. “Lene,” she repeats the girl’s name again, trying to extract herself from everything that she can feel enough to make some quick decisions.

Full sentences seemed difficult for her, like she didn’t quite have the breath to string all the words together at once. “You know some— first aid. I remember— seeing you use it— in the war. In the field.” Would it be enough? No, he looks so— “He’s holding on— somehow.” She doesn’t know how, but she can feel it. “But I think we— need to get him help. We need— we might need to…” she looks out toward the exit of the church, the rubble. There was so much going on out there, if the emergency services were active, they had a lot of people to tend to. “Can you move at all?” she asks Jolene, before she starts to push herself up to her feet.

“A little,” Jolene whispers, her voice hoarse. She sees the scalding light outside, but has no frame of reference for what it could be. As she sits on her side, leaning over her father, she looks at the scorch marks on his chest. “I—I don’t know—what to do with this.” She says in a shake voice. First aid never covered lightning strikes. Usually, those were on her side, and Howard rarely ever left anyone intact to aid.

“I don’t know,” Lene whispers, looking at the distance in Peter’s eyes. He squeezes her hand back, then slowly turns his head to the side to look over at Gillian, the purple-white energy radiating off of her hands reflected in dark eyes.

She lets her hand drop away from Peter, slowly, waiting to see that thread vanish— but it doesn’t, so she starts to look around. For something— someone must have dropped a purse when they fled the church, a phone, something. “Which one— was the teleporter?” She felt like the name was on the tip of her tongue. It was difficult when different names were on the same face. The pink haired one. Yes, that one. She remembers now, it was—

One of the last things Niki had said over the radio before she went silent.


There is no response.

Peter swallows down a lump in his throat, hearing that silence. So he asks, weakly:

“Where do we need to be?” Then, as if it were all a joke. “Here—seems pretty good.”


Hart Plaza

The world has bent as a dream seen through a round lens, a fisheye view of reality and surreality bleeding together into a kaleidoscopic horizon of infinite skylines stacked all upon one-another. Veins of red light streak through the sky like a circulatory system, pulsing with a headbeat synchronized with their source, a silhouette being made entirely of violent red energy hovering in the middle of the air, impaled by a sword, wreathed in lightning.

Frozen in time.

Elisabeth, Warren, and Devi walk into a diorama of reality and the further they step beyond the threshold of the plaza the more they walk into something beyond reality. By the time they can take in the scene, Detroit is gone. Replaced by all Detroits, some burned into husks by atomic fire, others evacuated and abandoned by a viral outbreak, some thriving and filled with bystanders on the street. It’s like multiple film reels all overlaid with one-another, but the projector has stopped.

There is no sound here, save for a low buzzing noise that emanates from the female figure made of red light hovering some ten feet in the air. The sword piercing her illuminated form is unmistakably Adam’s, and the attacker wielding it with eyes wide in fury and teeth gnashed together in unmistakably Jac. Lightning arcs off of her body, burns through the radiant form of the being she impales.

They can see Claire Bennet, pushing herself up from the ground. They can see Baruti Naudi wiping blood from his mouth, halfway to standing up straight. They can see Chess, Valerie, Seren, and Joy all frozen like snowflakes on glass in their last moments.

Warren realizes the possibilities of what’s happening the moment they cross the unseen threshold, but it is too late.

For they, too, become frozen in this infinite moment in time.

Francesca Lang is helpless to warn Elisabeth and the others as they enter this field of frozen time, where reality blurs into a nightmare spun out of the mind of MC Escher. Chess is aware, but frozen in a moment, locked within her own body, within this instant among instants where

Outside Raven Rock

Blue Ridge Summit

January 18th


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In the distance, plumes of smoke and flames rise up from the forested hills. Stick-bare trees are silhouetted by fire and shrouded in smoke. Screams of both man and machine howl into the starless night sky, and there is a cloying coldness in the still air. Though far from the fighting, jets streak overhead, and death looms in the firelight shadows.

On his back in the frost-glittering grass, Miles Dylan is dying. Blood soaks into his clothes, breathing ragged and shallow, silvery gusts of breath visible at his lips in the frigid January air. Though he has the strength, for now, to clutch one hand to the woman leaning over him that he was able to save. Fingers laced together, Miles manages a pink-toothed smile to Chess.

Sorry,” Miles hisses, brows momentarily pinching together when pain comes through the shock. “I uh, zigged when… when I should’f,” he winces again, eyes clenched shut and breath hitching in the back of his throat.

The heat of her tears streaming down her face is the only thing Chess can feel; everything else is numb from cold and shock. Her own injuries ignored, she’s still trying to put pressure on the wounds but there are too many and she only has two hands — one now that he’s grabbed the other, her blood-stained fingers interlaced with his.

“Sh-hh-hh,” comes out in syllables broken by tremors and sobs; Chess slumps from the crouch she was in to be closer to him, cradling his head and shoulders onto her lap. Tears fall, glittering in the short distance between her face and his. If it were one of the princess movies she’d once watched, so many years ago in Denver, that would be enough to save him.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispers, her breath catching like his, but on sobs and tears instead of blood. “I can’t-” she swallows the words, and sobs again. “I love you,” is whispered, quickly, before it’s too late to say it one more time. One last time.

Miles manages an awkward smile through the pain, clutching Chess’ hand as best as he can. “Hey, hey…” there’s a weariness in his voice, an almost put out tone, don’t cry, it urges. It’s as though he expects this to just be a passing problem. He faces his own mortality with the same carefree ease that he does the rest of his life. What of it he had.

“I love…” Miles’ brows knit, eyes unfocused, “you too, Chessie.” He manages a huff of a laugh, it doesn’t seem to hurt him anymore in spite of the dark red spots at his side. She can feel his fingers slacking, lips parting to say one last thing.

Then this moment, too, is trapped like a fly in amber. Except this time, Chess can feel herself, feel her hands and arms. Miles Dylan lays on the threshold of life and death on the grass, explosions bloom bright on the horizon, frozen in still-life, yet she can move, think, remember this moment.

As if…

…she were really there.



Not this moment. Not again.

She’s seen it countless times in the past six years — in her nightmares, nearly every night. And every time it ends the same — with Chess rocking the lifeless body of Miles Dylan until someone drags her to safety, just as it ended in 2014.

This time no one is there to pull her away. She’s frozen in time.


For the briefest of moments, Chess tries to change the past, to will Miles back to life, to breathe life and air into his lungs with her own breath. But she knows that it’s futile. Just like it has always been in her dreams.

Just like it was in 2014.

It was the worst moment of her life, one she wishes she could forget, except that to forget it would be to forget him, those last words he ever uttered. Her name on his lips.

Chess takes a shaky breath and does what she didn’t in 2014: she reaches out with blood-stained fingers to gently close his eyes. She leans to press a final kiss against his temple and brushes back a lock of hair that went too long without a trim. Through her tears she studies his face, painful as it is, to memorize it — yet again. She’d forgotten the small differences between the other Miles and this one, those lines and angles that come with age and the harder life the other had lived.

This time, she says goodbye.

Rising to her feet, unsteadily, Chess tilts her face upward. Her voice, ragged with sobs and tears, she shouts, “Let me out of here, you bitch!

“I could.” Comes the voice of Eve Mas from across the gulf of Miles’ corpse. She looks worse for wear, just as she was moments ago, save for the glowing mark in the middle of her chest that looks like a puncture wound about the size of a sword. “But there are infinite choices, Boomer!”

Stepping closer to Miles’ body, Eve looks down at him with those horrible, gold eyes. Then back up to Chess. “What if I told you, this wasn’t a nightmare? What if I told you this wasn’t a dream?” Her dark brows rise. “What if I told you…” she extends a hand to Miles, and he takes in a sharp breath and coughs up blood.

Eve fixes those horrible eyes on Chess. “…the Resurrection is upon us?”

Chess wheels around to stare at the entity, the thing wearing Eve’s body, speaking with Eve’s voice.

“Don’t call me Boomer,” she snaps. “You’re not her.”

She watches with wary eyes as Eve approaches, stepping back with a scowl as she hears the words. Understanding their meaning comes a little slower, as if on a radio delay.

Chess gasps when Miles takes a breath and she takes a step toward him, tearful eyes seeking his. She falls to her knees so she’s face to face with him, reaching her hand out.

Monkey’s Paw.

She remembers the discussion with Adam, her quips that the other Miles ‘came back wrong.’ Adam’s comments about his Faustian bargain. The cost too high to pay.

Her hand drops and she stares up at Eve, tears streaming down her face. She looks to Miles, and then back up again.

It’s so tempting.

“What do you want?” It isn’t a yes.

But it isn’t a no.

Miles is frozen in time again, eyes locked on Chess in confusion. The Entity seems less inclined to acknowledge him. She steps over his prone form, approaching Chess with all the softness the sharp lines of Eve’s face can muster.

“I just need you to protect me,” Eve says with a rise of her brows. “Let me finish what I’m trying to do, put all the…” she waves her hands in front of herself, “the scattered bits. Put them back.” Then she taps at her temples with spread fingers. “Help me bring it all together and…”

Eve looks over her shoulder, down to Miles, then back up to Chess. “This will just be a bad dream.”

Chess stares at Miles’ face frozen in time for a long moment, then tears her gaze away to look back at the entity. She slowly rises to her feet to face her. It. Eye to eye.

“You are going to have to be a little more specific and less…” Chess waves her hand in an imitation of Eve’s mannerisms that the entity before her has inherited. Stolen.

“Less Eve.”

She reaches up to wipe her face, lifting her chin, her dark eyes narrowing as she steels her gaze upon those gold eyes. “Adam made a similar deal with you once, yeah? It didn’t turn out well. Your costs are too high. So I need to know…”

Chess glances back at Miles, brows drawing together at the sharp pang in her chest of seeing him alive, so close, and yet still not really hers.

“What are you trying to achieve? What ‘bits’ are you trying to pull together? What’s the end goal? I'm not going to help you kill billions of people, no matter how tempting that offer is,” she says, voice low but steady. “Show me.”

“It’s hard,” Eve says with two fingers grinding at her temples, “it’s all jumbled up here, Boomer. All the parts are before the pieces,” she gets more animate, hands flailing, “all the pieces are bits and all the bits are broken and sometimes I just get so mad!” At that exclamation, a surging aurora of pink and green light rises up and off of her body, like the Aurora Borealis.

“It’s like I’m missing a part of me,” the entity says with Eve’s voice, with her mannerisms and her struggles. “Like something fell out of my pocket, and I’ve been just searching for it. I need it, Boomer.” She looks down to the ground, then up to Chess. “I need it to fix everything.

Eve tries to smile, but it’s a wavering, troubled thing. “This isn’t like Adam. It’s not for you. It’s for him.”

The entity takes a step closer in Eve’s shoes, reaching up toward Chess’ face with bare hands, as if wanting to cup her cheeks. “Just… hold them off. Just for a moment.” Gold eyes burn bright. “And I can fix this.”

“You’re not Eve,” whispers Chess, fingers curling into a fist that she shoves into the pocket of the leather jacket she’d worn that day, and most days since, battle scarred as she was.

Her eyes widen and follow the light that drifts off of the entity’s body, but return to watch Eve as she speaks. She’s Eve in mannerism, in speech, in tone, despite Chess’ insistence she isn’t.

But Eve would never have brought her to this place. Her friend wouldn’t be so cruel as to make her relive that moment even for a second.

It’s not for you. Chess turns to look at Miles, pressing her lips together to keep back the sob that tries to part them.

But it would be.

That realization draws her eyes back to the Eve-clothed entity and she takes a breath, stepping forward, as if into the entity’s arms

to thrust a knife into that glowing wound and

Present Day

Time’s up.

A reverberating scream rises in the air as the Entity’s seething form of vibrating energy explodes in a corsucating wave of pink and red light trailing with rippling heat-mirage haze of rainbow colored illumination. The scream vibrates bone, blood, and flesh in equal measure and the wave of energy feels like an irradiated warmth as it seethes through the crowd and pulses like a beacon up into the sky, twisting corkscrew-style until it penetrates the heavens and causes the shimmering spiral aurora to spread outward like the many tentacles of some great kraken across the sky.

At ground zero, Jac can feel a vibration spread up the blade of the Kensei sword, reverberating through her hand and up her arm, into her bone and her skull. It feels like something trying to find purchase inside of her, like something crawling up through her sinus cavity into her brain, grasping and clawing and


A screaming silhouette of red energy blasts out of Jac’s back and gutters into the air and in the same moment the Kensei sword explodes in a violent shower of shrapnel. Fragments of the blade embed into the concrete of the street and from the force of the resonant blow Jac is thrown violently backwards, smashes into a steel sculpture, knocking it square off of its foundation, and collapses down to the plaza along with it.

Claire Bennet can feel that energy passing through her, a warmth familiar to her; the feeling of rebirth that accompanied every brush with death she’d ever had. But what she cannot reconcile is the phantom of pinkish-white light floating in front of her, looking in some ways like a version of herself, when viewed at just the right angle. It sees her, with eyes of light, and she can see in its expression something relatable: sorrow.

Seren sees that light-being as well, the light being pulled from Claire’s body, made more real by way of their imagination. Seren feels like they are seeing a figment brought on by their own ability, but when it looks at them, when it makes eye contact, they’re sure it’s something else.

Half real, half imagination.

Then, like a puddle in the summer sun, it is gone.

The moment of temporal freeze ends, noise rises and falls, sirens blare in the distance, screams echo from the streets. There is chaos. Elisabeth, Warren, and Devi have no frame of reference for some of what they saw, but all of them — everyone in the plaza — can be clear on one point:

Eve Mas is dead.

There isn’t even a body left in her wake, just particles of light dancing like pollen in the air.

Now,” a voice can be heard saying over the tinnitus whining. “Now!” Baruti Naidu screams into the air, as if someone was listening. No radio, no headset, just demanding the heavens answer. In the moment before the world makes sense, Chess can see someone appear beside Baruti.

A flare of rainbow light. Pink hair, and sad eyes.

For a moment, Chess can see Val looking right at her. Apologetic. Knowing.

Adam Monroe never knew all the spies in his court. He never will.

Baruti Naidu and Val Swift vanish without a trace.


All Seren Evans can do is witness what happens, and when the being made of energy vanishes after making eye contact with them, they fall to their knees. Vision swimming, they try in vain to see where Eve's body has fallen.

She was stabbed. She shouldn't have just—

But no, she has. The last of the great energy she effused— the light left in its wake— wafts gently through the air, and it seems as though nothing at all is left of her… including the Entity that possessed her.

"I'm sorry," Seren croaks, their voice breaking. They're too numb even to acknowledge Baird properly, the silvery-white silhouette of him butting his head against their shoulder in a gesture of comfort. His summoner looks at nothing at all, just repeats, "I'm sorry."

After a blink, for just a moment, they turn to Claire and the being they had seen with her, then back to where Eve was stabbed. They begin to turn their head further, but it feels like there's too many people to address at once, or that the person they mean to apologize to isn't here at all. "I'm sorry," they whisper profusely, sinking down into a sit on the backs of their calves.

Tears joining the stream of blood down their chin, Seren wraps one arm around Baird at their side, the dark sleeve of their blazer disappearing in the glow coming from his mane. Their eyes continue to gleam that same silvery-white he does.

Where the last light falls, white lilies spring to life directly from the concrete, surrounded by lavender hyacinths. A single bloom of bright daffodil rests in the patch's center.

Flickering as if part of some old film image, Valerie’s projection stands aghast at everything that she sees around her, horrified and amazed all at once. Seren had imagined something so spectacular that she forgot to make it look like she was breathing, or try to match the breeze. Her projection stayed stock still, frozen, even after everything started again, except for that odd flickering. The sight of Seren crumbling makes her head move and she moves forward, like a timelapse video cause she’s having a hard time making herself look anywhere near real until she’s kneeling beside them.

“It’s okay.” She offers them, flickering hand reaching to touch their shoulder. Or as if to. The hand doesn’t find any sense of solidity this time. It’s taking so much just to stay right now. “It’s okay. I think it might be over…” It might be. The scary man looking man was gone, the golden eyed creature that was definitely not Eve Mas was gone.

And maybe they could collect themselves a little now. Maybe they could go home.

Chaos returns in the form of distant sounds and confusion. Jac’s hand tightens around the hilt in her hand, fingers curled in a death grip around the braid-wrapped grip. Light catches briefly on the near inch of blade that remains. Her head lifts, and she pushes herself up on an elbow. Wide eyes turn from the wreckage she finds herself in to discover a scar left by the conflict with Uluru. Her head turns, seeking out those she’d arrived in the square with. Is Joy okay? And Chess? What happened to Gillian, Lene, and that guy.

A single cough drags her back before she gets too far down that line of wondering.

The violence of that involuntary action is jarring, lancing uncomfortably through her chest and skull. And it doesn’t make sense. A look of worry draws her brows together, and the teen shifts on the ground, transferring her weight from her elbow to the ground, a cheek rests against the cold steel figurehead beside her. Panic drains the color from her face.

But her shirt soaks it up. First one, then two, then several spots of red bloom, dark and wet and spreading slowly through the thin cotton fabric. Jac’s empty hand finds one, fingers come away damp and trembling. This shouldn’t be happening. The girl physically gropes at her chest, presses the heel of her palm to a new flare of blood in an effort to staunch the bleeding, while mentally she reaches for an understanding that doesn’t exist.

Reeling back from the explosion, Chess stares at the space that Eve had been, hands covering her mouth to stifle her own scream of anguish. She falls again to her knees, sobbing, and those nearest hear the repeated words: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Eve.”

She might be caught in that mantra of contrition for longer if it weren’t for the telltale iridescence of Val’s arrival. The shock of yet another betrayal breaks her free from the self-pitying cycle as she looks around the plaza, red and swollen eyes confused by so many things that don’t make sense. Claire and the pinkish echo, Seren and Valerie and the field of lilies and the lone hyacinth.

Jac, bleeding.

It’s for the last she rises, stumbling in the rubble, to fall again to her knees at the teenager’s side. “Hey,” she says, her voice hoarse but gentle as she lays her hands on those blooms of crimson, to help staunch the bleeding.


The thought there’s one last sister out there that might still be on her side in this fight draws tears to her eyes. “«Anyone? We need help. Jac’s hurt.»”

Her dark eyes study the confused blue gaze of the teenager. “Stay with me, okay? Someone will help.”

Chess’ lips tremble, belying the confidence she tries to evoke in the younger girl. She turns over her shoulder, seeking help from the strangers in the plaza. “Help!” she shouts out, a sob cracking the word in two.

For Warren. there are butterflies everywhere. Even when the world freezes, they move every which way, lines interconnecting as the flaps of their wings create a chaotic tapestry that swallows the entire area.

But only one of them truly matters right now. The bright green butterfly that flaps in the midst of them all, where so many of the lines converge. It's the one his mind laser focuses on, even without context for the meaning of any of this, he knows he has to reach her.

When the world unfreezes, every line snaps, and the bright green butterfly tears as if by the fabric of reality itself, leaving the others to scatter as the mirrors in his eyes recede into the tears that roll down his cheeks.

In this instant, Warren knows that she's gone. He runs up to her, watching the lights in confusion. His golden gun is briefly pointed at Chess, then he tosses it to the ground. He closes his eyes tightly, and another wave of anger washes over him, this time pointing the harpoon at her, but that, too, is tossed to the side, and he falls to his knees where the light that was both Eve and the Entity floats in the air around him.

He reaches into the belt of his armor, pulling out a little rubber ducky. "I brought an exploding duck, just like you like." he says in a weakened tone, weaker than most would be used to normally hearing from him in the worst of times. "I thought you could use it…"

Sitting the rubber ducky on the ground among the flowers where Eve once stood, he slouches over onto his hands, staring at the ground, closing his eyes again. "I can't fix this…"

Nine billion things happen all at once and the cacophony of sounds and activity is overwhelming. Although the time freeze ends after the initial scream, Elisabeth can feel the ache in her very bones of the subsonic hum all around the Plaza. But it's the spiral in the sky that holds the most terror for the audiokinetic and her eyes are drawn inexorably skyward almost as soon as the surroundings snap back into real-time. She can't wrap her head around all that has just occurred — later when she looks back, it will be more like snapshots of moments, still images as if taken by a camera with a strobe flash. I don't want this. I don't want to be here.

For now, all she can focus on is the sound of Baruti Naidu screaming 'Now!' and she is frozen in place, struggling to decide in that instant what to do. Something is still building. She feels it, can practically touch it. This is not over. And it's not… usual either. Everything happening on the ground fades into soft un-focus in the split seconds she has to process anything at all. And the only thing she can think to do is disrupt what's coming from that spiraled aurora. It cannot be a good thing if Baruti-Fucking-Naidu, the worshipper of the Entity who wanted to rule the world, wanted it in motion.

"Mike, help them," she orders her bodyguard quietly, pointing toward Chess. "Be ready to get everyone the hell out." The audiokinetic moves forward, no longer running but with purposeful strides and a resigned expression. If it's all been borrowed time, she's grateful for all the small moments of the past year.

Please, God, let us all go home this time.

For Claire, it might be like seeing a ghost — Elisabeth looks little different now than she did in Antarctica years ago, aside from the wear and tear the intervening years have wrought. Her blue eyes are focused upward. Taking a knee and putting a hand on the ground just for balance in case things start rumbling, she fights like hell to find the threads of sound that she wants in the wash of noise around her before they descend into ranges she can't reach. If she can phase shift enough of the sound sideways, maybe she can cancel out enough to stop what she suspects is a portal from opening. And she hopes she doesn't bring half the Plaza down on top of herself and everyone else as she literally emanates interference waves back toward the damn thing.

The hum around her is just barely at the threshold of human hearing — the only warning that she is unleashing something huge.

There is a look of shock on Claire’s painted features with red lips parting in shock. Staring at the shifting form, her breath is held, as if not watching to scare it off. It was beautiful, how could something like that have been a part of her.

Claire can almost swear that sorrow was her own reflected back at her, it prickles at the corner of her eyes, slides down flush cheeks. “I’m sorry,” she whispers to it, hand lifting… reaching to touch it. Already it was faded… “Wait.“ But it was gone. Her breath is shaky as she sighs, glancing up instinctively. “I lost my mom, too.”

Beyond where the figure was, Claire spots a familiar face. It distracts her as Baruti disappears. "Liz!" The name is shouted without thought. Last she had known, the audiokinetic had died. To see her old friend standing there was almost as much of a shock. Still she starts towards the woman, something familiar in an unfamiliar landscape.

This is one big bad trip, right? She’s going to wake up any moment now and-… No, she knows better. The War taught her better. Cardinal taught her better. Devi grinds her teeth and turns a sharp eye across the stadium-… the battlefield. “Where the fuck are the sirens?! I had ONE JOB, damni-”… Eyes pooled with darkness make it difficult to determine the direction of her gaze, and yet the snap of her chin makes it clear she’s taken note of Seren’s attendance.

There’s not even time enough for another curse as she vaults forward and down to where her Little Bird has folded in under the weight of the horrors, skidding to her knees. “No-no-nono. It’s okay. It ain’t your fault.” Whatever IT was. Whatever THAT was! She aims to pull Seren and Baird into her arms protectively, turning a scowl over towards the place where the thing-formerly-known-as-Eve once stood. “Listen, Little Bird - there’s a time to break and there’s a time to stand. We gotta get people outta here. Ya hear?” She lowers her face to fill Seren’s line of sight and taps the emergency cuff, now discolored with a subtle yellow warning regarding its wearer’s prolonged accelerated heart rate.

There is a roar of jet engines overhead, followed by the streaks of contrails from four fighter aircraft screaming in from the south. The presence of aircraft clearly identifiable as old reliable A-10 Thunderbolts is a relief, the Air Force has arrived. As these jets scramble through the air, they move on an unerring path toward the last Praxis air carrier making its slow retreat out of the city.

On her knees nearby to where Baruti and the Entity were, Joy is a crumpled heap of a woman with her head in her hands and shoulders hunched forward. Dark hair spills down over her hands and she seems so small and insignificant. From a distance, without knowing her, it would be easy to mistake the woman for an overwrought bystander overwhelmed by emotion.

«Chess?» Alix calls over the comms while Chess watches blood seep through Jac’s shirt. «Everyone on the ship is panicking. Chess, I’m— I’m sorry. Val left, I don’t know where she is. Adam’s gone, he just— he vanished.»

Jac chokes up blood, rolling onto her back, color draining from her cheeks. She coughs and seizes, blue eyes wide and one hand pressed to the bloody patch forming through her clothes. Chess can see the shrapnel poking up through holes in the cloth, glittering steel slick with blood. Fragments of her own sword.

All around, the fighting has ended. But the battle feels hardly won.

«Chess, I’m scared.» Alix whines over the comm link. In the distance, the Air Force A-10s continue to scramble around the Z-12 Qingmnao, firing warning shots across its bow. Chess can hear Alix shriek in fright from the sound of the gunfire.

As Elisabeth’s bodyguard, Mike, comes to settle down next to Chess he offers her a complex look that belies just how disarmed he is by this situation. He starts to move his hands to apply pressure to Jac’s wound, but when he sees the shrapnel he hesitates. He saw something like this in the war. It didn’t end well.

Claire!” Cries a voice not among those who were fighting moments ago. “Clairebear!


Noah Bennet comes jogging up into the plaza, slowing as he tries to take in the carnage around him, the molten bodies of Mazdak agents, whatever is beside Seren, Jac bleeding out on the ground. Noah’s focus is singular. Claire is alive. He presumes Zachery was wrong, and the truth will be so much harder to grasp.

Noah rushes up to Claire and throws his arms around her, cradling her head to his shoulder and pressing his face down into the top of her hair. He doesn’t even have the frame of reference to notice what’s changed. Not as he clings to her for dear life. “I thought I’d lost you,” he whispers.

Behind Noah walks a man who’d given Bennet a head start once it was clear Claire was alive. Richard Ray is bereft of his security team, but seems to have picked up some strays along the way. They all arrive at the plaza together, and Richard can feel something in his skin — under his skin squirming in the presence of death.

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As Dumortier, Kara, Sophie, and Zachery make their way into the plaza, it feels like the world was turned on its ear and run through a meat grinder. The molten corpses of par-boiled flesh and bone that were once Mazdak agents look like something out of a New Years’ Nightmare. Scorch marks on the ground, and a teenage girl losing a copious amount of blood from wounds in her chest.

In the sky over Hart Plaza, a swirling spiral aurora burns jade green and shades of pink at its edges. But there is something else happening, a hum that sounds as if it’s coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, building in intensity from its initial subsonic vibrations to something more like an electric engine winding up.

The source of the sound, up in the aurora, is so distant and so massive as to be akin to a flea attacking an elephant from Elisabeth’s perspective. Every modulation she tries to apply to the sound has no effect, and she can’t tell if she’s too far away or if it’s simply too overwhelming, or a combination of both. This feels different from Alaska. Worse.

At the center of the aurora, a shadow is forming. Where the arms of the spiral spread out across the sky, there is a blackness. It is a blot of darkness that must be a mile across given how high it is, and with its placement in the morning sky as it grows… it is eclipsing the sun, casting Detroit in a growing shadow.

It is a reunion, but at the same time, it may very well be a farewell.

Everyone here is suffering in some way, some more than others. Everyone is suffering, and everyone is sorry. Seren takes solace from Valerie saying it looks like it's over, at least, ceasing in their murmur but not their cling to their imaginary friend. The world's always been easier to deal with when Baird's around…

But suddenly Devi's here, too, and they have to make sure they're not imagining that, either. Her presence is unexpected, yet somehow makes too much sense. Her embrace is too real, too fierce. To her encouragement, they manage only a small nod, rubbing the stream of blood off their chin with the back of their hand. "Y-Yeah, we…"

And then Seren looks up, the light in their eyes fading. White glow shifts back to only a flicker of silver. Their hand shifts to grab Devi by the forearm, coming to their feet as unsteadily as a newborn fawn, but too unnerved by what hangs above them to stay sitting. The glowing winged tiger by their side rises with them, pure white with iridescent silver stripes, eyes of sterling also looking to the sky.

"Ms. Valerie," Seren remarks fearfully, tears still stinging the corner of their eyes. The flowers where Eve once stood sway in the breeze. "I don't think it's over."

The flickering projection of Valerie seems to still be having trouble, even as she kneels beside Seren and now Devi hugging Seren. She wishes she could have hugged her, but right now she can barely maintain her presence. It hasn’t been this difficult for her to project herself in years. But everything could be because of the emotional shocks from everything around her.

Or maybe whatever had happened a moment ago.

As she squints up at the sky, she wants to shiver— and maybe she really does back in her body, but then she spots Noah running to his daughter and those following after him. Warren had been a relief, but Richard even more so. Suddenly her flicky projection solidifies, regains color. “It’s okay. Richard’s here now. I’m sure he knows what to do.” It’s a relief to her, even if the darkness spreading over the land fills her with dread.

For the first time in weeks, tears spill from Jac's eyes and cut paths down her cheeks. Fear turns shallow breathing rapid. Is this how dying happens? Her eyes squeeze shut and lips pull back from blood-tinted teeth in a silent, anguished cry. It lasts less than a second, longer than an eternity. She doesn't want to go, not like this. A shaking breath is pulled in, but not deep enough to be comforting.

The teen's eyes wrench open on the next beat. Panic draws those blue eyes to Chess and Mike, pleading. "I don't want to go." Her jaw trembles with the effort to muster those small words.

"I don't want to go." Jac's voice wavers, fades. Fingers momentarily curl into the blood-soaked cloth of her shirt. She draws a couple of panicked breaths, then follows with a slower one. Her fingers loosen, and the hand which had been pressing to her chest searches for one of Chess', seeking contact, comfort from her half sister. She looks for some sign from Mike that it's going to be okay.

When Warren points not one, but two weapons at her, Chess stares blankly up at him, tears streaming down her face, but she doesn’t flinch for the strikes that never come. His words to Eve draw another sob from her, but she turns her face away, focusing her attention on Jac and then on Mike when he comes to help.

At first, she misunderstands. “She’s just a kid, she’s not-” she protests, her voice ragged, before she realizes he’s there to help. Somehow.

Still, she doesn’t relinquish her hold unless he pushes her away or pulls Jac from her grasp.

“Shh,” she murmurs to Jac, lifting the younger girl a little to make breathing easier. “You’re not going anywhere except a hospital, okay? I’m not losing-”

Chess can’t bring herself to finish that sentence. Alix’s voice wracks another sob — one of relief this time— out of her aching chest.

“«Alix,»” she rasps into the comms. “«Val left with…»“ she doesn’t know the name, and she shakes her head, angry at how much she still doesn’t understand. She stares down at Jac’s pale face, as if trying to will the teenager back to full health. “«She left us. She wasn’t on our side,»” she manages. “«I’m sorry. Get somewhere safe, yeah?»”

Her head bows over Jac’s and she whispers, this time to her younger half-sister, “I’m so sorry.”

Warren is motionless for a long moment as things begin to happen around him again. But then the shadow draws over them, and suddenly his eyes are reflecting the flowers like perfect mirrors as his ability activates once more.

"Whatever is happening… this all killed Eve." he says as he slowly begins to stand, collecting his gun, then his harpoon again. He looks around, he's trying to think, trying to figure it out. There are so many variables, so many moving parts, so many gears, butterflies everywhere. How can he even begin to make the connection, to understand?

Then he stares up, he stares at the darkness, allowing it to reflect in his eyes as well. He listens to everyone, he observes, he lets it all wash over him. "I'll stop this, I'll take it apart! I won't let anyone else die!"

He looks over at Richard, who can see that his eyes are different.

Mirrors rather than chromium.

And then he stares back up at the sky, trying to understand it like a machine.

What is it going to do?

How can he kill it?

How can he avenge Eve?

He doesn't make a single move, he's waiting. He's not sure what he's waiting for, but he's waiting, and stewing in his mind, trying to push together the puzzle pieces that struggle to connect in his mind.

It all makes sense, how it works, how things work, maybe.

He isn't sure.

Mort… he died. Michelle killed him? That was another him, right? He remembers, kind of. The memories blend together.

The other one, he died somehow, he can't quite remember clearly.

Mortimer Ray, the explosion, he blew up! Not sure why exactly.

He remembers being a child, when he first saw the things from another world. But he also saw the same thing a few years ago, on that rooftop! He saw the thing at the same time, at two times!

It all loops around. "Left, right, back, forward, up, down…"

The pieces of this reality, they're like puzzles.

If he could just understand the machine, the gears

But to the outside world, he just stares, and waits, trying to solve this complex puzzle in his head for Eve.

Mike summons all the reassurance he can find, his deep voice soothing. "Hold on, little one, help is coming." His large hands on the small teen are gentle as he tries to figure out how the hell to stabilize her and get her to paramedics before the child bleeds out. The arrival of the other group brings at least some small hope. "Miller!" The sound rolls like thunder toward the doctor — the only one he can see here who might be able to do something. "Get in here!"

Nothing she's doing is making a dent in the rising sounds. Elisabeth pushes hard, but without proximity and without any kind of roadmap, she is just one person. Pain blossoms behind her eyes, familiar to the audiokinetic as she strains her ability to its utmost to no effect. She is helpless in the face of this. As she pushes back to her feet, she wavers just a little as she stands there in the plaza, her face tipped to the sky. It is both beautiful and a source of abject horror, deep in her gut.

"I can't stop this," she whispers in a near-echo of Warren's own words. "I can't… find the right frequency, not from here." And she's pretty sure there is no time to do much else. Elisabeth's sorrow is twofold — she can't stop it, and she won't be with her daughter at the end of it all.

Almost dazed, she looks toward Warren, her eyes drifting over Claire, noting Seren and Devi and Valerie, Mike and Chess holding Jac. The group that has just arrived from the other direction. As her blue eyes meet her husband's, Liz's expression looks much the same as it did the day she came home — a mix of regret, sorrow, love, and some amount of gratitude as she looks at him. "I can't do anything about it." Her ability carries those words, soft as they are, to her husband's ears. She doesn't appear to expect he can either. They've been through so much already… Whatever is going to come, whether it's death or some other horror, she's glad they can be here together and that their children are far away. Safe.

Even as she rushes towards her old friend, Claire hears her father’s voice and it brings her to a stop. A frantic search finds him surging out of the crowd and she chokes out a call without thinking…


Tears are already leaving dark trails of eyeliner on her cheeks by time her father has her wrapped up in a hug. There is so much going on around them, but she can only focus on Noah. Like he always does… he came to rescue her. Claire ignores it all… the swirl above, the cries, and dying fight. She only focuses on the most important thing there, her father.

A barely contained sob escapes Claire as she clings to her father, fingers clutching at the rough fabric of his jacket, like he might disappear. “I didn’t think I’d see you again. I-i-i…” Claire couldn’t force herself to finish the thought. That she couldn’t bear the idea of him dying alone. She only tightens her hold on father with another sob, the tears won’t stop. Now that he was there, she let herself feel the terror that she had blocked away in her fight for her life.

Then it really clicks… her father was here!

Claire suddenly pulls back and checks her father over, pulling his coat away from his sides. Just as furious he put himself at risk as she is that he is there. She looks for potential injuries, like he used to do to her when she was just a kid.

“You shouldn’t be here,” she lectures in a teary voice, quickly brushing a red sleeve over her face smearing that hideous make up even further. He might even have some on his shirt. “You’re in no condition to be fighting…” She sounds like her mother too as she dashes away what happened to her, to focus on him. “What if you….” Claire trails off and then huffs out a breath, the tears quickly returning. What was the use, Noah was Noah… and father, like daughter. Nothing would have stopped him, even whatever illness was going to eventually take him. The next words are softly spoken with a trembling chin, just for him.

“I just want to go home, dad.”

Unbelievably, Claire Bennet is alive. Kara Prince's forehead lifts in a telegraph of surprise, her head turning to Zachery in an eyebrow-twisted expression of confusion. He'd sounded so certain, they'd all seemed so certain she…

And yet here she was, locked in a tearful embrace with the man who'd travelled half the country and back to find her again.

Whatever had happened on their way here, the ghost of Adam was not present to haunt them. Whatever had exploded from here and devoured him would be impossible to divine… save for the muck of melted being, one which is impossible to ignore. Another dose of adrenaline floods her system, her eyes tearing from the remains only to take stock of who else is here in this plaza, who is civilian, ally, and—

Kara's eyes catch on armored Chess and hold. She cradles her rifle to her chest again, eyes on the kneeling woman cradling a smaller body to her. The suffering she's clearly going through is ignored, and she advances a step. "That's Chen," she tersely signals for the ones who came from Providence with her, unaware just how incorrect she is— that Chess is nowhere near the cocksure agent of Praxis who came to steal from them and damaged their home, almost killing Yi-Min Yeh in the process; who, on top of these other sins, kidnapped Claire.

She could not give a lesser fuck about whatever is happening with the eclipsing sky. Instead, she's a blink of a decision away from hurling the last of her negation gas at 'Lanhua', and firing as soon as it takes effect.

The sight of Claire alive - whatever her hair color - has Richard’s shoulders briefly sagging in relief. At least one miracle he’d prayed for happened today. He lets Noah rush past towards his daughter as he continues on a more even approach, taking in the scene with a sweep of his gaze across it.

It’s a lot to take in, and he can tell that he’s missing a lot of context to make most of it even make any sense.

His attention lifts to the sky, to the yawning chasm opening in rainbow light, and then drops back to meet his wife’s gaze, her audiokinesis-carried words bringing a slight nod of understanding. “Me either,” he murmurs with a shake of his head. He doesn’t have any contingencies for this, no last-minute plan to pull out of his ass and save the day. “Liz, organize an evac back to the tower.” All he can do is…

One hand claps on Warren’s shoulder in a firm squeeze. “I’m sorry, Warren,” he says genuinely, before letting his other senses reach out. There are absolutely wounded in the plaza. He can feel that, feel life signs strong here, weaker there, fading… there. His gaze falls on Jac just as Mike is calling out, eyes widening. A second later he’s breaks into a run in her direction, skidding down to one knee beside the dying girl, “No, no, n— fuck— MILLER! Get over here, I need your help.”

A wolf’s head cane clatters to the plaza’s floor, and he pulls off his gloves, swearing. Chess gets a serious look (whoever she is, she seems to want to help Squeaks), and Mike, and he says tersely, “If you’re willing to help me try and save her, give me your hands. Fair warning, this is gonna hurt. Also, I’ve never done this before— MILLER I SAID GET OVER HERE.” Someone has to make sure he doesn’t drain anyone to death. He can’t stop the vortex. Maybe he can save one life.

Unaware of Kara’s words confusing her for Lanhua, Chess looks up when Richard approaches, her tearful eyes flicking left and right as she studies his face for a moment.

It isn’t a long hesitation.

She takes her hands from Jac’s wounds, wiping them on the fabric of her suit’s leg — it isn’t enough to rid them of the blood, but neither of them have time to worry about hygiene and bloodborne pathogens at the moment.

“Keep helping her,” she murmurs to Mike. “If whatever he’s going to do backfires…” She doesn’t finish the thought, but instead holds up both hands to Richard.

“Whatever she needs.”

There is so much to take in, and yet as Zachery walks forward onto the plaza - bent length of rebar held at his side - he hardly seems to look at anything at all, gaze ahead of him at those he came with, whose side he chose today.

It's not that he hasn't noticed the level of distress around, especially of those near him as he walks — but the sheer volume of detail he's picking up is a factor of information he's not entirely sure what to do with. To say it puts him on edge is putting it lightly.

That's not even mentioning the sky, which he's just found himself staring up at when his last name is called out, jaw slowly dropping as he comes to a halt. It takes a second call for him to tear his attention back to his immediate surroundings, and a third for him to actually convince himself to start walking again, quickly picking up his pace.

"Yeah— I'm… I'm here," he breathes out, once near enough to Jac to not only recognise her, but also to recognise how dire her situation is. For a moment, he leans closer, as if he's about to kneel and see what he might be able to do for her, if anything, until Richard's words register somewhat late. He, decidedly, does not offer his hand, somewhat pained confusion knitting his brow while he stands back and studies his employer's expression. "What are you doing?"

Coming out into the plaza is not something that Dumortier was quite— or at all— prepared for. The stench of death is too strong to be just a few more. And it isn't. It's carnage that gets to him. Killing doesn't. But the mess and the fear and the chaos of something much bigger and badder strikes closer than anything.

For as bold and brassy as he'd been all the way from the Safe Zone, until the time they'd come jogging into the garage, it seeps from him the further that he gets from the skeletal construction. By the time that they come upon the end result, it has left him completely. His hair is partly loose, locks caught in the wind, blue eyes wide and dry. In the wake of past traumas piling on this one like a crumbling sandcastle, Dumortier finds himself just behind Miller when people start shouting for him. He follows at first, and from what he sees— it's nothing good. Why would it be? He can't even help here. Zach can. It's what he does best.

In the midst of his own far away thoughts, Rene veers off from where the others gather around the downed girl, his head tipping back to lay eyes on the sky. Arms still around himself, whatever is happening strikes him as too much awe. It reminds him of the explosion near Providence, too. Something off the rails. Dumortier's study moves down and over the mess that is Hart Plaza, pausing on one thing or another—

"Hey," By virtue of her location, Dumortier spies Joy, in her state of states. His voice isn't too loud, though he does start towards her in a brisk walk, arms remaining crossed. He lost his purpose when Adam exploded, and now Noah found what he was here for—? So he finds another. He's here, may as well. "Hey, lady? You alright?"

As instructed, Sophie sticks close to Kara. She walks behind and just a hair off to the blonde woman’s right. She is, at least momentarily, blissfully ignorant to the horrors circling overhead. Her jaw is set, her gaze momentarily turned down to her own hands where fingers curl and extend in testing stretches. The tiny woman huffs and drops her hands, lifting her chin only to have her gaze turn wide at the horrors within the plaza as round the entry. “Holy hell…” Her gut knots painfully as she looks over the charred and melted remains, a bone here or there left as if to warn them exactly what the broiled mess once was. “What happened he-…?”

Sophie snaps to attention at Kara’s all-too-familiar tone. She pulls a smaller handgun from a holster at the small of her back and levels it at the appointed direction. But there’s been no order to fire… She steps into Kara’s periphery and lofts a brow in silent query, her own gaze trained ahead on the woman cradling the injured young girl.

Devi braces the arm supporting Seren’s shaking grip, her other coming round to rest over their digits comfortingly. “There we go. That’s it, Little Bird.” Her mauve lips tilt in their deviously charming way. The laughs in the face of danger kind of way. “Everything ends eventual-…” She follows Seren’s upturned gaze and stops short. “Not exactly the ending I was hoping for,” she sneers at the swirling aurora and the slice of looming darkness. “Alright, Nestling. That’s our cue to fly.”

The biker bitch has just begun an attempt to steer Seren around when Richard’s commanding voice cuts through the air. Devi perks up like a disheveled meerkat amidst the chaos and carnage. “Fuck me.” She gives Seren an encouraging pat. “Go on. I’ll be right behind you.” The wink she gives is from over her shoulder as she’s already sprinting across the way and inserting herself in the small ring surrounding the dying young woman. “Toots,” she says quietly - a precarious balance between warning and support as she rests a firm, black-nailed hand on his shoulder. She steals her eyes from the bleeding teen and focuses on Cardinal’s determined silhouette with eyes of simple chocolate-brown and drastic lashes dusted with debris.

Zachery can already feel how hopeless the situation is in mere proximity. Three pieces of shrapnel are embedded in Jac’s chest, one severed a pulmonary artery, she’s bleeding internally far worse than she’s bleeding externally. Even if paramedics arrived two minutes ago, there wouldn’t be enough time to stop the bleeding before she’s dead. But there she is, in this moment, still alive and convulsing on the ground, blood spitting up from her mouth, ashen-faced and begging not to go.

It’s heartbreaking.


Saint Anne Catholic Church
Detroit, Michigan

It feels like the world is coming to an end.

Sirens have been blaring in the distance for some time now, but no one has come into the cathedral. On the floor, back slouched up against the broken altar beneath a crooked crucifix, Gillian Childs holds Peter Petrelli against her chest, his back up against her and his head cradled in the crook of her arm.

Surging waves of violet-white light roll down from her arms to where her hands rest against his chest, where lightning entered his body leaving behind a black scorch mark. He’s grown quiet now, drifting in and out of consciousness. She’s been talking to him, trying to keep him awake. He keeps offering to take her away, anywhere she wants, one last time. Lene had gone out to find help, bring a paramedic or a police officer back. Someone.

Overhead, Gillian can see the sky through the broken stained-glass windows. The spiraling arms of the aurora reach out across the heavens and at their crux what looks like an eclipse burns in the sky. She feels strange, her heart feels heavy, and the world feels unnecessarily cruel.

No voices come over the comms anymore. They’d gone dead on her end a while ago, maybe something to do with her suit’s damage, maybe she and Peter are the last two people left alive. She has no way of knowing.

“D’you know…” Peter says, swallowing dryly, “when I first met you I…” he laughs, wetly. “I thought you were kind of a dork?” His lopsided smile hasn’t changed, no in ten years, not in thirty.

“I was a dork,” Gillian responded with a small sound, hearing garbled noise over her radio, because it’s started to give feedback. She hadn’t gotten any responses, not from Niki, not from the teleporter. The last things she heard it had sounded like the barrier keeping teleporters in was down, but she didn’t know where Jac was, or where Niki was, or if they had won. If they had killed Eve. If the thing in Eve had killed all of them.

The sound of Jolene’s return draws Gillian and Peter’s attention to the entrance of the cathedral, but the look on her face and the way she’s shaking her head don’t bode well. “I can’t find anyone, cell phones are down across the city, people are evacuating. I can hear sirens but I— I can’t tell where they’re coming from.”

Lene looks up through the skylight, then back down to Gillian. “If we don’t get him to a hospital…” her jaw trembles, she can’t finish that sentence.

When Jolene returns Gillian is again kneeling by Peter’s side, tears streaking down a face dirtied with the dust that fell from the ceiling. She looks up at her daughter, who had also thought she was kind of a dork when she’d met her in the past.

The one who somehow had something of her father in her eyes, in her smile. She had seen it before, and it had broken her heart that the girl would never see him smile like that. Even if he was smiling now.

With a micro nod of her head, she looks back down at Peter. “I know.” He’ll die. She looked toward the entrance of the church, repeated it again, “I know,” then looked back down at him again. She did know. She could feel it somehow. She closes her eyes for a moment, then looks back up at Jolene. “Jac is still out there.” She holds out her hand to the other woman. “Take my compass and find Jac.” Her daughter knows what this means, as the black ink on the back of her hand shifts and moves. It’s a person. And she’d been wearing her under her clothes and armor the whole time. She had known they might not be able to go back for her, and didn’t want to leave her behind. Not when part of her was still with Jac. Not when she wasn’t even whole.

She had been a trump card she had hoped she wouldn’t need to use, and never had. But— “Find Jac. Stay with her. Bring her home.” It was a lot for her to ask, she knew. “I’ll take care of him. I promise.”

Lene reaches down and curls her fingertips around her mother’s hand, and the slithering ink form crawls up Gillian’s arm and crosses over onto Lene’s, swirling in tattoo-print shapes as it worms its way between the seams of her armor and under her skin. Jolene tugs at one of her armored gloves, throwing it to the floor as she flexes her hand open and closed, looking at the ink swirling on the back of her hand as it takes the form of a compass.

The same compass that led them to Praxia.

Gillian reaches down to touch Peter’s face, pushing a little dark hair from his forehead. “Can you teleport still? Can you— can you take us all somewhere? Somewhere safe.” She didn’t know Detroit. She didn’t know where the hospitals were, and the first responders would be swamped with everything here… “Take us home. Back to New York. There’s a hospital in Elmhurst, do you know it? Take us as close as you can to there.”

“Elmhurst,” Peter says with a dryness to his voice. He knows the hospital, he’d delivered people there in his ambulance when he worked with Abby so many years ago. He can picture the emergency room entrance so clearly.

Dad,” Lene says, bending down to put a hand on his shoulder. Peter blinks a languid, half-lucid look over to her. She can’t hide how overwrought her expression is, how much pain and uncertainty lives behind tired eyes. But Peter smiles at her, nonetheless, lifting one hand to cup her cheek, brushing away a tear with his thumb.

“You go be a hero,” Peter says with a shaky voice, “I’ll…” he makes a pained noise, “keep your mom safe.”

Lene can’t help but laugh at that, jaw trembling, fresh tears painting clean rivulets down her grime-streaked face. She takes his hand in both of hers and squeezes tightly, then nods once and slowly rises to stand.

“Okay, Dad,” Lene says with a tight, small voice. She clenches her hands into fists, taking a step back, and Peter brings his hand up to rest on Gillian’s.

Lene almost says something, hesitates, second guesses herself, and then forces it out in a near shout. “I love you both.”

Peter looks up at her and smiles, confidently. “Love you too kiddo.”

Then he and Gillian are gone in a rippling haze of rainbow colored lights. Lene cups her bare hand over her mouth to stifle a sob, seeing how much blood was on the floor where he was laying. She swallows down a lump in her throat, then turns to look up at the aurora overhead through the shattered skylight.

She has to find Jac.

Three Hundred and Forty-Nine Years Earlier

Mount Kiso Ontake
Nagano, Japan



It is a mournful, blood-curdling wail that pierces the afternoon sky. A woman’s agonized cry.

The skies over Mt. Kiso are aflame, bathed in shades of crimson that swirl like a cyclone. These clouds of crimson and violet bring out the fiery hues of sunset. But they obfuscate the shimmering nodes of jade and coral twisting behind them in the heavens.

“«No!»” Yaeko — daughter of a swordsmith, child of the Ainu people — has so much blood on her hands. A line of red streaks down her face across her cheek, dark eyes wide and face flushed with rage. Her armor is in tatters, pieces hanging off of her shoulder and fragments of breastplate scattered across the grassy mountaintop. Laid across her lap, Takezo Kensei stares with dead eyes up at the sky, reflecting those fiery shades in unblinking stare.

At the crest of the mountain, at the edge of a mirror-still pond, stands a woman bathed in crimson. Her voluminous robe spills down over the stones underfoot, swaths her hands in layers of silk. Gold eyes ringed in kohl and painted with red and gold accents stare half-lidded at Yaeko.

kensei_icon.gif past-uluru_icon.gif past-yaeko_icon.gif

“«Yes,»” the Dragon says with such confidence the mountain recoils from her words. “«He broke his promise. So I took from him what was mine.»” The Dragon’s gold eyes flare brightly, and she steps down from her lofty perch, feet obscured by the crumpled hem of her kariginu.

Yaeko looks at her reflection in the length of steel penetrating Kensei’s chest, a sword fashioned by her own father. Her teeth gnash together, and her tear-filled eyes snap back to the Dragon as the sound of a crying baby joins the agonized wails. From within the sleeves of her kariginu, that dread entity produces a tiny infant, swaddled in white and brown.

“«Please, no.» Yaeko pleads, shaking her head from side to side. “«Please.»”

The Dragon angles her head to the side, one black brow rising higher than the other. “«The Princess pleads for the life of her child,»” the Dragon says in lyrical amusement. “«Touching.»” She raises one hand, the nail on her index finger extending out like the talon of a great bird. She brings it to rest, hooked under the crying infant’s jaw.

“«Would you make a deal with a dragon?»” That entity asks Yaeko. Her answer is immediate.

“«Yes!»” Yaeko screams, fingers curled into the fabric of Kensei’s sleeves. “«Anything!»”

The Dragon bares her teeth, a bone-white smile of flawless teeth against black-painted lips. Yaeko watches as the Dragon finishes her approach, looming over Yaeko and Kensei’s corpse. She offers down the infant, still smiling, unblinking in the way a snake is.

Yaeko, trembling, lifts one bloodied hand up from Kensei’s corpse to reach for her child. “«Anything,»” she whispers.

Gold eyes burn brightly, and Yaeko thinks she is brilliant. Thinks her feint is met with acceptance. In a way, it is. So much so that when she rises from Kensei’s side with his wakizashi unsheathed, the Dragon does not so much as move. The short blade slips between her arms, and with one arm Yaeko curls her child in close to her chest and with the other plunges the sword into the Dragon’s heart with a warrior’s scream.

Blood sprays from the Dragon’s mouth, gold eyes flicker and gutter, then turn brown. Yaeko watches the light and life in the Dragon’s eyes bleed out as she collapses back onto the ground. There isn’t even any time to process the horror of her mistake, for a split second later Yaeko’s irises flicker a vibrant gold, and the Dragon’s smile plays across her lips.

Yaeko drops the wakizashi, then looks down to the child in her arms, then down to Kensei’s lifeless corpse. Gold eyes burn brightly, and the Dragon demands in a clear voice:


Three Hundred and Forty-Nine Years Later

Hart Plaza
Detroit, Michigan

Joy nearly screams when she feels a hand on her shoulder. She wheels around, from knees to hands and heels, scrambling a few inches away from Dumortier before she recognizes that the blonde man leaning over her isn’t a threat, or a ghost. Her dark eyes are puffy and red, tears wet her cheeks, and she struggles to control her breathing.

Staring through Dumortier, Joy looks at the agrokinetic like he’s from another world. Her mind reels, and it takes her a moment to process everything she’s seeing. She says nothing, looking from Dumortier to where Adam should have emerged from at the parking garage, to where Eve was both an eternity and a few moments ago. Then, then, she sees Jac laying on her back in Chess’ arms, blood on her face, shards of the Kensei sword in her chest.

Joy lifts a hand up to her mouth. A choking, strangled sob of grief wells up inside of her, and when it finally emerges as a mournful wail her entire body discorporates into a roiling cloud of life-consuming darkness. A plume of shadow rises up ten feet high where Joy once crouched, taking on a vaguely humanoid form much as Ezekiel once was able to. The tattered shreds of ephemeral darkness whirl and twist at her lower edges, and she blasts away like some sort of phantom through the air, leaving her wailing banshee-cry trailing in her wake.

Noah had moved Claire behind him on seeing Joy take that form, but only just began to relax once it became abundantly clear that she was fleeing rather than staying. He looks back to Claire, uncertainty in his eyes. She wants to go home, but now more so than ever, Noah isn’t sure where home is.

Looking up past Claire, he finally really sees Kara, then follows her eyeline over to the blonde woman with the dying girl. Noah’s jaw tenses, brows furrow, and he slides his arms from around Claire and looks from Jac to Chess and back again. His eyes narrow behind those horn-rimmed glasses, and he looks at Kara, then back to Chess and reaches out…

…to lay a hand on Kara’s arm.

Noah shakes his head, small and imperceptive. He doesn’t know what’s going on, why Chen is crying, why she’s caring for the wounded child. But Richard is there and isn’t acting hostile with her. He has enough context clues to know that they can wait. He lets his arm fall away, and lets the chips fall where they may.

Nearby, Richard and Zachery can feel Jac dying. Everything inside of Richard’s body is squirming, writhing, twisting, and pulling him toward her. Devi’s hand on his shoulder sends a chill through his body, and it is as if he can visualize the flow of energy he feels on that touch. So much stronger than that of the dying child in front of him. It’s like his ability knows what it wants to do, but he’s

“Having trouble trusting it?”


No one but Richard can see the matronly, dark-haired woman kneeling beside him on the other side of Jac. Madeline Rouen is dressed like someone out of a Jane Austen novel, a billowy dress and hair up in a precise bun. She lays her bare hands on Jac’s chest, ice blue eyes squared on Richard from across the divide.

“Something is queer here,” Rouen says in a notably French accent. “I can feel it, you can feel it. You’re wise not to trust it. Life and death,” she says with a look down to Jac, then back up to Richard. “These are extremes, not half measures. You do not feed a dog half a meal and expect it not to be hungry still.”

Rouen motions with her chin to Richard. “I can show you how to open the pen,” she implies. “But you must hold the leash.”


If there were an empath present, they would surely be overwhelmed for a moment by the sheer relief that washes over Richard at the sight of the woman seen only once before, in a liminal space that doesn’t even belong to this world. In mid-acceptance of Chess’s hand, his gaze shifts just to her side to where the woman has appeared… to him, at least.

Ever so briefly he glances up to Devi behind him at her touch, flashing her a fleeting smile that says somehow everything’s going to work out before he’s looking back to the dying girl before him. Adam may have made her a weapon, but he just remembers her sneaking into his twins’ birthday party, he remembers the look of wonder on her face when she saw some of the things they were working on. She’s just a child. And she doesn’t deserve this.

“I don’t trust it, no. But I need— to get it to trust me. I’ll do whatever I need to, whatever I can,” he says in tense tones, speaking to apparently nobody as far as those around them can tell, looking vaguely in the direction of Chess across Squeaks’ body but not quite. “Show me. Please.”

A brief half-turn of his head, explaining to Miller quickly, curtly, “Life force transferral. I need you to observe and make sure I don’t go overboard, I don’t want to kill anyone involved.” He has volunteers around him; his fingers give Chess’s hand a reassuring squeeze. He has a patient, Jac, dying in front of him.

Now hopefully, if Rouen hands him a scalpel, he won’t slip and stab someone with it.

"Life-…" Force? Zachery throws a somewhat startled glance in Joy's direction at the sound of wailing, but after a sharp look finds Dumortier still healthy and hale, he returns his attention to Richard with somehow less confusion twisting his expression than before.

Uncertainties have never particularly done him any favours, and to think he'd planned on trying to eliminate them, going forward — only to end up here. Here, where he's so utterly confounded that he has broken the dial for it. Taking the first full breath in what feels like hours, Zachery looks calm when he takes mental stock of the faces of those involved, the blood already spilled.

"I don't know what that looks like," he admits, voice steady, shoulders squaring, "but I can do my best."

Chess glances at the cluster of people around her, brows drawing together in confusion. Her dark eyes catch the motion of Joy leaving and her shoulders hitch with another sob before she turns her face back up to Richard.

“Ray,” she murmurs aloud, connecting famous face to famous name.

Despite the intent behind the squeeze of her hand, Richard’s words aren’t particularly reassuring.

Neither are Zachery’s.

Still, she doesn’t pull back. Her fingers tighten around Richard’s hand and she nods, taking a breath to steel herself for the promised pain. “Just help her. As much as you need.”

A quick pass of tongue on mauve lips is followed by a short nibble of nervousness. The only hint that the tall, lanky form of Devi gives off as she stands like a protective shadow at Cardinal’s shoulder. Even the subtle heat that seeps from her adrenaline soaked veins and seems to coarse towards him as if pulled by a magnet, a thirst… it doesn’t move her. Only tightens the pressure of her long digits into a reassuring squeeze.

Dark eyes flit briefly towards Zachery. Narrowed to slits of skepticism. “Looks like you’re in hot seat, Doc. If anything happens to him, well…” A quick tick of her head to the side is all the explanation that’s provided. All the explanation that’s needed if you consider that tilt also just so happens to coincide with Miller’s one remaining good eye. Her lips curl up in a cheshire smile as she turns her gaze back to center stage - Richard and the dying young girl. “I told you before - I believe in you, Toots.”

Sophie stands like a sentinel beside Kara, but a quick flick of her gaze assures that Noah’s movements have not gone unnoticed. She considers him a moment longer, then grants Kara the same courtesy - clearly at odds with which instruction she will follow if her team leaders happen not to agree. Her little nose wrinkles in frustration. But more than that, the toll of the day - the attack, the mayhem, the loss … the loss of justice. Or is it vengeance? All the books in all the world probably could not have given her an answer, but it never stopped her hunt besides. Anyway, the bill of the day comes due in this moment of stillness where so many choices, so many endings, seem to balance as though on the head of a pin - precarious, indeterminable, dangerous…

Sophie’s hand begins to shake. She grits her teeth, but it does not obey. The sidearm glints with the motion, mocking her in winks of silent laughter. She lets out a gasp, a held breath that did her no favors, as she lowers the firearm with a single, choked sob.

Jac's eyes move from Mike, sluggish in recognizing, in realizing others have arrived and gathered. Why are they here? The faces swim in and out of focus; and some the girl knows while others are little more than incoherent shapes. But of those that she remembers, she knows some very important ones are missing. A sharp breath becomes a panicked gasp.

The girl chokes on spittle and loosened fluids then drags in a ragged breath. "Where's my mom and dad?" The question isn't directed at anyone, and her voice wavers with the reluctant understanding that they won't be coming. Strength for anything more leaves her like a flag bereft of the wind. All of these people around her — her small frame slackens and sags in Chess' arms — and yet she feels alone.

Jac's focus slides away, blue eyes, half lidded, stare into a distance. "I'm not…" ready. Tears slip unnoticed from her eyes, mix with the blood on her cheeks before dripping silently onto the concrete beneath her. "I don't want…" to die.

The teen's jaw quivers, "Please," she licks her lips, tries to swallow against a rasp and rattle deep in her throat. Her eyes shut, the hand gripping Chess' loosens. "Don't let me go."

Even when Richard steps in the line of Kara's shot, she doesn't break that jaw-clenched look in Chess's direction. The crowd is the only thing that's stayed her hand, and even then, her arm flinches in an involuntary reaction to shake off whoever it is that's trying to dissuade her.

The blue-eyed look to Noah is one that softens just barely when she sees the subtle shake of his head, hardening again for a different reason now. Reluctantly, she lowers her weapon entirely. She leaves the last canister of negation gas slung in her bag. Hearing Sophie's struggle by her side, her razor-sharp demeanor finally loses its glint. "If we're lucky, there's another one of him out there yet," she says softly to her. "Another clone of his. Maybe—"

But then something in the air shifts, drawing Kara's attention back to the cluster of people surrounding the dying child. She's attuned to it, aware of it. It couldn't be… could it?

Richard's directive to Zachery leaves no mistake, though, and her eyes flicker in understanding and something quieter, darker. "How?" Kara wonders to herself under her breath, but it's not for her to know; not now, not here. Her gaze flits quickly, counting the number of willing bodies, willing lives. She takes the bet that there will be enough that 'Lanhua' won't die, that that justice can still be doled out after.

And even then, she places a hand to Sophie's elbow to pull her back with her another step, just in case. She has enough respect for the power inside Richard to give it a wide berth.

When her father turns, Claire follows his line of sight seeing the group gathered around a young girl. Brows furrow and she slips her father’s arms, drawn to what is happening. Red and gold fabric pools around her as she joins the group kneeling, looking at the faces she doesn’t know. A look of sympathy falls on Jac, someone she doesn’t know, but she meant something to Richard. “I… don’t know what you are doing, but if you need more life force?” A painted nail digs into the flesh of her palm, slicing raggedly across it bringing the ruby shine of fresh blood. It had been a chance, but Claire had felt it…. The familiar sensation of her own ability, so she was trusting her instinct.

Claire offers out a bleeding hand out to Richard, with palm up, so he can see the blood retreat into her body again and the flesh knit with the speed and efficiency it used to have. “Seems I’ve an abundance to offer.” Her chin tipping up slightly in defiance, as dark strands of hair shift around her face. Blue eyes dare him to deny her help.

I don't want to die. Squeaks' words are perfectly clear to Elisabeth Harrison from where she stands halfway across the plaza. And they rip out her heart. She can hear every word the teen is gasping. And she cannot let herself feel the horror right now, cannot allow the tears free. The one person who might be able to help the girl is already at her side doing everything he can.

In the past several moments, Elisabeth's sense of something building has at least leveled off. Despite the fact that it's not audible to anyone else, she can still feel it. It still doesn't feel good, but at least the anticipation is also leveling off with the rising feeling — now it just feels like it's waiting. Blue eyes flicker from Richard to the sky and its obscenely beautiful display. There's little more she can do there, but she at least has a direction. If it's the thing she can do, she'll do it. Her voice carries in a clear, modulated tone without being a shout.

"~Everyone, get back under cover. Mr. Bennet— Noah! Take your team with you, this way!~" There are too many faces here she doesn't know but she's met Noah Bennet at a few points in the past; she once kept him up to speed on Claire with texts and calls for a while when the petite young woman was running with Liz's people. She hopes he'll take her word for the urgency. Her blue eyes pause a moment on Claire, a mere moment to offer the girl a brief nod of acknowledgement at what the woman is doing before she's on to the others.

Moving on swift feet, she touches Seren lightly and nudges them toward Warren to help him out of the plaza. "Take him back to the building, Seren. You guys move fast. I need you both safe. Valerie," she tells the apparition, "tell whoever's manning post to get us some security people and medics out front to help get people in."

Looking around, back toward where the group circles Squeaks. "~C'mon, guys — I don't know what that fucking thing is doing up there, but it's not over yet. Move!~" Like anyone is really gonna do these things.

Seren's attention is hardly kept in one place, so much is happening. Valerie believes in Richard, Devi runs off to make certain that belief turns into results, and that leaves them and Baird…

The flowers in the plaza fizzle away, startled out of reality like a burst of television static when Seren feels the touch to their arm again. Elisabeth provides direction and then she's off again, and Seren slowly turns to Warren, grappling with understanding everything he's seeing. The silver in their eyes gleams white for just a moment, and for just a second they feel like they might be able to understand…

But then they reach out to him, placing a steering hand to his arm. Baird remains by their side, glowing white and silver and letting out a noisy chuff in the hopes of gaining his attention. He stays all paws on the ground, but in his defense, he's a larger beast than he normally is, literally gleaming with energy.

"It's probably too late to do anything now," they tell Warren with some regret, chancing one last look up to the sky before their eyes fall back to him. "But it's not too late to get away safe. Figure out the answers later."

Assuming the sky didn't shatter on them shortly, that was. And even if it did, maybe they'd still find a new tomorrow afterward.

Or so Seren hopes.

Their gaze shifts to Valerie again, a small attempt at a smile made.

As Valerie watches Richard move among the crowd, going to help the poor dying girl, she still looks relieved, even if she has a small idea what might be going on over there. She doesn’t say anything, though, and follows after Seren, seemingly able to move without floating or gliding now. It looks as if she’s actually running on the road, even though her foot goes through a piece of debris when she runs by it. “Warren!” She gets to his side, reaching out to touch him— and for a moment she does touch him. “Let’s go back to the bunker. Come on.”

She wishes she could say it will be okay.

She wishes she could say that Eve wasn’t really gone.

But she isn’t going to say any of those things, and instead try to get Warren to come with her. “Come on, big brother— I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

To be fair, she doesn’t want bad things to happen to anyone. Well. Almost anyone.

Warren suddenly snaps out of it.

His adorable little sister.

He stares down at her, then smiles. "It's not time for me to leave yet." he states before reaching out to ruffle her head after holstering his harpoon.

"There are butterflies everywhere, too many, I can't really figure it out. It's like a giant robot! But, the Squeaky One, she needs more butterflies, to keep her squeaky." he decides, shaking his head and holding it for a moment, clear physical pain in his eyes.

He heads over to Richard instead, and holds out his fully intact fleshy hand, wiggling his fingers. "You need more lifeforce variables, to avoid catastrophe, I think! I don't know, I don't know what's going on, all I can do is follow the butterflies. I don't want more loss! I can't keep my head straight, but I know you need more lifeforce variables! It's a part of the machine, it's screaming out, full of things! Gears and cogs! Don't say no or I'll shoot you!" he softly, somewhat at least, demands of Richard.

He looks down at Jac and says, "Repeat after me, I do believe in magic!"

There is still a lot, and being faced with a yelping woman and her disappearing banshee act, Dumortier freezes in place as he watches Joy coil away in her shadowy form. He isn't sure what to say at all, much less think it; he watches her go, attention drawn right back to where the others have gathered. As he trots back, Rene stops at Kara's side with a sagging, pale expression. It's… just a kid.

Richard and his entourage of volunteers earns the heaviest of studies, eyes on the physical connections being made and the nature of how this is proceeding.

It's weird. But it's not the weirdest. From afar it mostly seemed as if it were a prayer circle. Up close, there's something more concerning happening.

Noah nearly pulls away, nearly leaves just as Elisabeth asks because it’s a reasonable request. Protect himself, his people, his family; but then Claire left his side. He can still feel her fingers disengaging from his hand, and Elisabeth can see the look of a worried father emerge in his eyes. Noah neither steps back, nor advances, locked in the middle between helping and protecting himself, he watches history unfold.

As Jac lay dying, Richard’s hand over her shrapnel wound grows warm from the blood. As others lay their hands down upon his shoulders, cash in chips to a gambit they do not have a full comprehension of, it is Richard who holds the dice in his hands. But he can feel it, swirling inside of him, something massive; larger than himself, larger than the world, larger than the single fleeting life clinging on to him for lack of wanting to leave this place. For an instant and forever, Richard feels a brush with something his childhood can only contextualize as one thing:

The divine.

What Zachery sees is contextualized through the lens of science, of a pragmatic eye witnessing the biologically impossible, but the theoretically plausible. Richard’s body becomes a conduit for something, a collection of biological forces moving through the air and through skin-to-skin contact. Nutrients, bioelectric energy, down to specific energy sources like adenosine triphosphate from mitochondrial cells. It flows through Richard, mingles with his own body, and then flows out and down into a dying child, spurring something miraculous:

Cell growth.

In multicellular organisms, the process of cell proliferation is tightly controlled by gene regulatory networks encoded in the genome. But Richard is overwriting that process, subconsciously instructing the body to rapidly regenerate. The process is utilizing a host of biological components harvested from willing donors — or as Zachery theorizes is equally possible, unwilling donors — to force Jac’s body to undergo a healing process a thousand times more rapid than normal, while the remainder of her biological processes move along at a comparative snail’s pace.

Three pieces of jagged shrapnel are ejected from Jac’s chest, carried by blood and plasma along her skin under her shredded clothes. Richard’s eyes burn with a neon blue light as this energy is transferred through him, and Richard is guided by the hand of that ancient physician, placing her hand atop his.

“Measured,” Rouen says without taking her eyes off the healing process, “careful.” So many sources of life makes it easy to be cautious, but Zachery can feel the line between caution and calamity is as fine as a scalpel’s edge. The power Richard wields is unmistakably deadly, could drain away all living things of life-sustaining energy and nutrients if he so willed it to.

Jac can feel a warmth spreading through her chest, feel her heart beating steadier and faster. Her vision ceases tunneling and color blooms back into her field of view. She sat on the threshold of death, and for the barest of moments nearly stepped in. But now, a hand — so many hands — pull back at her, dragging her back into a world of the living.

Overhead, the spiral aurora is wavering, shuddering, and flagging like a balloon that is losing air. Threads of auroral light spin around the accretion disk of that blot in the sky, and soon it begins to collapse inward on itself, shrinking in size until all that remains is the shimmering curtain of light that is the aurora, stretching across the heavens and glittering with unimaginable beauty.

Jac takes in a sharp breath and


Ubaid Region, Mesopotamia

Thousands of Years Ago

The sky is clear, cloudless and dim, a twilight or dusk that can't be determined. The horizon is cast a brilliant shade of pink and purple, and more stars than seem possible shine overhead like a carpet of diamonds strewn across a colorful tapestry.

But it isn't dawn, or dusk, or any twilight hour she's ever experienced. The sun hangs like a dead stone overhead, jet black and ringed with brilliant gold in a fiery eclipse. Around the sun shift curtains of light more beautiful than the stars, shimmering and ephemeral waves of green that fade to blue, like the hem of a goddess' dress extending down from the firmament.

A child stands atop a grassy hill below the sun, no more than two years old and as naked as the day they were born, cast in a shroud of innocence in ways only children can be. The child raises a tanned arm over their head, fingers splayed, and the wind changes to swirl their dark hair about. They stare up into the eclipse, tears streaming down their cheeks.

Then, a golden light rises around the child's body like a cloud of luminescent gold filaments cast into the air. The child's skin sheds warm light, and their irises glow with brilliant gold, as though they were mirroring the eclipse.

Lips parted, the child smiles.

The sun explodes with light, coruscating bands of energy the color of fire wash across the darkness of the sky, turn to seething waves of blue and green, and the heavens are set ablaze.

A voice, as if calling from deep inside a cave, echoes in the child’s mind.


A single, simple word: unite.


The child turns toward the shout, gold eyes burning bright as they turn to face a woman dressed in turquoise and gold, crimson and lavender. The child’s mother calls out their name again, “Ninbanda!” Beckoning them back toward the small mud-brick house with its clay tiled roof.

A child’s innocent laughter spills into the air, and they turn to run toward their mother, who looks up at the eclipse with tension in her brows.

And the blind eyes of a seer.

Present Day

Hart Plaza
Detroit, Michigan

It is like a clap of thunder, a jolt that passes through Richard and the others linked together with him. Nerve engines tingle with fiery prickling, sheathes of auroral light roil down their hands and over Richard’s shoulders, and reflexes pull away as if from a hot stove.

Jac’s back arches, jaw parts, and she exhales a deep breath of life. When she lays flat again, there is no pain, no injury, just blood stains and so many questions.

But no more questions than the ones who were briefly linked into the infinite. The ones who participated in the resurrection of a child.

For they all saw the same thing in that moment.

The beginning of the end.

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