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Scene Title Purgatory
Synopsis In Catholic theology, Purgatory is the stage of the afterlife where souls suffer for their sins before they can enter heaven. For Kazimir Volken, Purgatory takes on a whole new meaning.
Date January 8, 2009

Eagle Electric

Most notable business collapse in Queens was that of Eagle Electric, a major manufacturer based out of Long Island City for decades, comprised of acres of warehouses and manufacturing plants designed to produce electronic components to suit all sorts of needs. The western warehouse of the Eagle Electric lot is an enormous and foreboding red-painted building made entirely from sheets of ridged steel. Amidst the grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement and the burned out cars in the parking lot, it seems just as uninhabited as the rest of the area. A large and ruined sign at the top of the office and manufacturing building prominently reads, "Eagle Electric—Perfection Is Not An Accident."

By the time night has fallen on Queens, the chill in the air is so overwhelming that the bitter wind that carries it seems to pass through those exposed to it. The air is bereft of any sense of warmth, leaving the industrial wasteland of Long Island City to suffer the wrath of midwinter's icy grip.

Eagle Electric, as always, stands as a bastion of decay in this urban landscape. The long dormant smoke-stacks rising up from the looming building glitter in moonlight with frost that covers every surface. For all its crumbling industrialization, there is some measure of haunting beauty to the old warehouse attached to the main facility.

But the cold is not only natural on this cloudless night, a more bitter, more otherworldly chill sinks into the Eagle Electric facility with the dimming of the street lights. One by one, on slow approach to the warehouse, the street lamps flicker and go dead. As darkness creeps down the street one light at a time, a weary and broken shell of a man staggers in place on the frozen sidewalk. Walking with dragging footsteps beyond the open chain-link fence, and past the burned-out husk of a car on the roadside, is a weathered husk of a man. Ragged and weary, he stops at the burned-out car, leaning all his weight on a cane gripped tightly in a shaking hand. His black suit is shredded on one side, down through his chest and out the back in a deep gash where a black scar resides. But worst of all, he seems to be decaying.

A hollow, wheezing breath comes through the old man's cracked lips as he stumbles in from the parking lot and into the open bay doors of the warehouse, the uneven click of his cane between dragging footfalls so unlike his normal rhythmic precision. Slumping to one side, Kazimir Volken collides with the interior wall of the warehouse, gasping for breath as his free hand moves up to a jagged black scar on his throat, one that flakes at the edges like the peeling skin of a sunburn, but with the dryness of burned parchment. Black veins course up through his neck, down along the backs of his hands.

His encounter with the ghost of Felix Ivanov has left him battered, weary and pushing the limits of his aging shell.

Through the high windows of the warehouse room, faint moonlight, the residue of streetlamps and the general ambiance of light pollution casts visibility into the space, and the electric lights fixed from the rafters hang dead. But even then, it's as if the barely-there lighting filtered through stained and cracked windows starts to dampen, to bend in on itself and flicker into nothing, making the room suffocatingly dark for the briefest fraction of a second, although it's not maintained. Poor control, perhaps.

From those rafters where the ravens used to stay when the name Munin was spoken here without taboo, something dark slithers down, tendrils of a substance blacker than shadow. In lithe movement, the inky form comes to land on the dais, briefly winding around the throne there until it solidifies into the figure of a man wearing clothes that would be just as dark if not for the dust of dry wall and age.

Sylar becomes himself again, seated in the throne in the middle of the room and watching Kazimir with the shamelessness of a predator. He's the only one that can hear his own rapid heart rate increasing by the moment, underscored by the lifeless thud of Kazimir's. Both are rackets that fill the space for him. "Kazimir. You're hurt," he says. An assessment.

It is the voice, and nothing more that rouses Kazimir from where he leans against the wall. Blue eyes lift up to peer into one of the mirrors reflecting the dais, looking to Sylar's dark-clad form resting atop it like the successor he was meant to be. Immediately, Kazimir struggles to straighten, and the struggle itself is emphasized in his jerky, rough motions.

"Gabriel." His words come off somewhat exasperated, trying to restrain the difficulty of speech, even though his voice has taken on some otherworldly quality, a hint of something else speaking in line with his own words, another, whispering voice in harmony with his own. "Auspicious timing…" The old man notes, leaning on his cane as he makes a vain attempt to stay fully upright, weary footfalls drawing him closer to the dais, now finally in direct sight. Blue eyes meet brown, though in this lighting Sylar's may as well almost be as black as his clothing.

"Injury… will pass, in time. Today has been challenging," His breath rattles in his chest, heavy and wet. Up close, Sylar can see the spiderwebs of black veins in his neck from the ragged wound at his throat, which is only partway closed. "Your presumptions of seating yourself where I belong, however, gets ahead of your place." He motions with one hand, as if to dismiss Sylar like some mythic phantom, "Leave yourself of it."

Sylar's gaze does trail towards the telling wound at the old man's throat, lingers there in a way that could be considered rude, until the gesture for him to rise from his seat breaks the spell, and he meets blue eyes through the near darkness. He has not seen, nor spoken to this man ever since he'd seen the nightmare version of him in the future, with his own body similarly decayed with age and whatever it is that sustains this man. Maybe a good thing, because he can feel it, something like the hunger, rising up in him. Anger, simple and burning.

Almost obediently, Sylar rises from the throne, moving across the platform and stepping down heavily onto dirty cement floor. He manages to keep his gaze fairly fixed on the man all the while, however, darting towards the wolf-head cane and back to blue eyes. "My place," he says, the words dropping heavily, slabs of brick that echo off the walls. "What are you going to tell me about my place tonight? You haven't given me an order in quite a while, Kazimir, maybe I'm getting confused." His eyes are inevitably drawn to the ragged throat injury again. "Perhaps more than just me. Are the walls closing in yet?"

When Sylar rises from the chair and moves off of the dais, Kazimir's tension relents some, and the old man moves up to fill the void left by Sylar, heavy and tired footfalls bringing him up one step at a time towards the clot-shrouded seat. "I have nothing to tell you of your place tonight, Gabriel." Kazimir insists on calling Sylar by that name, by who he was born as. "And I do not order around he who does not need instruction…" Creeping up to the chair, Kazimir settles one hand on a rickety arm, easing himself down onto the makeshift throne with a creak of old wood, and even older bones. "You do as you will, and as you desire. If you were needed for something, you would be requested. It is Doctor Knutson who should be — and has been — assigning you orders…"

Leaning back against the chair, Kazimir rests his head against in a tired gesture, slouching in his seat from the unseen weight of age placed upon him. "You aided the Nightingale in recovering Doctor Suresh, did you not?" One gray brow raises in rhetorical question, but how Kazimir was aware of events he was not present for is curious. "Were you aware that Dina has been killed?" The question is passed off as if casual conversation, a life dispensable.

That nickname for Odessa gets a sharp and plainly disturbed look. It's not a name Sylar had heard for her before, and that curiousity of how he's aware of such things isn't to be overlooked either. The situation is momentarily confused, a twist of a kaleidoscope, the anger splintering for a moment. "I knew Dina was missing," he says, almost absently. "Just like Munin went missing." As he tells the lie, perspective shifts into place. "Just like everyone is going to go missing until we're the only ones left." He comes to stop before the dais, a subordinate position, lower in level and gaze tilted up just a fraction to make eye contact. "Isn't that right?" He lets his mouth curl into the slightest of smiles.

"You're catching on, Gabriel." Frankness rises in Kazimir's tone as he closes his eyes, relaxing in the chair as if it were some invulnerable bastion of security. "Eileen has turned on us, and I've been having her followed. I am aware that she may be receiving aid from Ethan in this endeavor as well, and I attempted to have her brought into protective custody not long ago." There's a ragged, tired laugh from the old man. "Regrettably, I trained her too well, or so it seems."

Exhaling a vestigial breath from blackened lungs, the next words come out with the tattered growl of someone who sounds like a life-long smoker, a bit more coarse than Kazimir's usual tone. "Dina, however, was not a part of that equation. She was to recover and deliver a shipment of test subjects for the Shanti virus, now I am down to half, which will need to be delivered more securely. However, it was a gambit I played — I specifically had radio silence broken to inform Dina of the pickup, and the attack happened that same night. It is clear, now, that our transmissions are being intercepted." He sounds strangely satisfied with that, "I believe it is time to turn those tables."

Sylar's eyes narrow as he listens, information of Dina's last order taken in even as he shakes his head, dismissing it. "I know the equation," he says, almost too quietly to be heard, but the words still manage to cut through the silence between what Kazimir has to say. "Dina wasn't meant to die this soon." His gaze lifts to look into Kazimir's eyes, as if searching. For something. Recognition. Anything. "You know when they're meant to die. All at once in some suicide mission. All of them." The ones that hold any importance to Sylar, in any case. His voice rises a little as he speaks, in emphasis if not in volume. A temper barely held in check. "Before they can betray you, right? Because eventually, all those lies have to go somewhere."

The dais creaks as he steps up onto it, a looming figure in black. "My place, Kazimir," Sylar demands, and the dust that swirls in the gloom seems to shift, as if a breath of telekinesis shimmered through them. "Tell me about it, again, I want to hear it. What you want from me. Tell me everything you told me the first day you met me."

Slowly, Kazimir's eyes crack open like the vigilant stare of some ancient sentinel as the tone more so than the words Sylar speaks catch his attention. When footsteps rise up to the dais, it is the creak of wood that Kazimir matches by leaning forward — wearily — on his throne. "You seem to have something on your mind," His tone matches that of Sylar's, though more frustrated that his rest is being disturbed by something seemingly inconsequential.

"I know when each and every man, woman and child on this world is meant to die, Gabriel. My own flock merely have the courtesy of dying for a greater good." One hand comes to rest on the arm of his chair, fingers curling against the white cloth as he watches Sylar move closer to the chair. "Your place, Gabriel, is as I have said to you numerous times. You are my successor." Kazimir's eyes narrow, creasing his brow with the weathered countenance of some ancient statue. "You will be like a God unto the new world that the virus creates. You will be the shepherd of the world, its invincible lord and savior." Then, shifting his focus, Kazimir's tone becomes judgemental and sharpened. "How have you progressed on the last assignment I have you, Gabriel. Is Daniel Linderman dead?"

"No," Sylar says, voice severe, but with a sullen edge, a flicker of almost adolescent anger. Blustery defiance without action. Merely a prelude. He doesn't yell, however, merely lifts his hand a gesture very similar to the way Kazimir had waved him out of the throne.

This has much the same effect.

It's the throne and Kazimir both that are suddenly lashed with whip-chords of telekinesis, hooking into his chest, into the wood of the chair and both go hurtling back to crash in limbs and splinters on the warehouse ground. Sylar is quick to pursue, shoes thumping against the dais as he crosses it to leap back down onto the ground. "Stop lying to me," he growls. "You want what I have. You want everything you promised me. Stop LYING to me." Now it comes, that anger, and it manifests into another surge of telekinesis, hands out stretched and fingers spread.

"This ends tonight. I'm not killing for you anymore. I'm not killing anymore. But just one more time." Radioactive light and heat start to emit not just from Sylar's hands, but all over. "For old time's sake."

When Sylar motions with his hand, sending Kazimir and the throne hurtling across the floor of Eagle Electric, the cloth shroud that had covered it whips off and is caught alight in the air like some snow-white phantom. When the old man crashes unexpectedly to the floor, shattering the chair, what laid beneath the cloth is finally revealed.

The high-backed chair was, up until its shattering, an antiquity of the last great war. A throne-like chair that should be situated at the head of a conference table, crowned with a bird with spread wings, holding a ring that bears the nazi swastika painted in gold leaf. While Sylar may not recognize it, history would, as the chair belonging to the Fuhrer himself, used during council meetings.

The moment Kazimir's body smashes through the chair, and he is sent reeling to the ground, the old man struggles to press himself up from the ground with one hand, only to be slammed back down by a another blast of telekinetic force. A gash in his forehead reveals not blood, but black, ashen flesh bleeding out some manner of black smoke. His eyes narrow at the light radiating out from Sylar's form, and as the look of shock fades from his face, it is replaced by something else — anticipation.

"Not going to kill anymore?" There's a rough, gravelly sound that rumbles from Kazimir as his voice begins to change, taking on the whispering sounds of other voices joining his, each of the subdued choir that adds to his voice sounding pained in some manner. "You cannot deny what you are, any more than I can deny what I am, Gabriel. We are monsters, killers. You and I, we can never change."

"You're wrong," Sylar says, voice wavering, cracking, and he breathes in once - not for emotion, no, all he knows his anger, but for the energy he's keeping carefully contained within himself. It'd be too easy to wipe Manhattan clean again, and that honestly scares him for maybe two seconds, that such a thing is easy, but no. He knows control, better than anyone, and the light lessens, slowly dwindling, but remains as pulse from his hands, waiting to be released.

One glowing hand reaches out towards Kazimir, as if offering him help from several feet away, and in a sense, the old man gets that help. He's forced to his feet, despite his injuries, forced to stand without his cane. The strange way his voice rings out barely goes comprehended, as he makes Kazimir walk a few steps away from the shattered war relic, this too a useless piece of sentimentality to Sylar. He only has eyes for the man in front of him. "I'm going to kill you," he says, his own brand of anticipation evident. "And take down everything you worked for, in one big shock of light." And it flares for a moment. "I'm going to be a hero, Kazimir, and I only have you to thank."

Blue-green light suddenly pieces Kazimir's paralysed form, cutting straight through, only burning painful, needle-fine holes through the man's dying body for now, letting things rupture, splinter, and slowly… Sylar starts to move them through.

The moment those blue-green beams of light rip through Kazimir's body, the old man lets out a howling cry that is not something in the range of human vocalization, a wailing shriek of many voices all crying out in the same sharp agony as the vessel they have been contained in is ruptured like some sealed container. As the lasers move through Kazimir's old and broken body, they tear long and deep gashes through blackened and dessicated flesh, his insides resembling the very husks he makes of people.

As one laser clears its path from midsection and out through the old man's side, the gout of black smoke issuing forth from the darkened core of his body becomes more present, and it is in this heat of the moment, the victory in which Kazimir's screaming form is finally punished for all the wrongs he has committed, for all the lies he's fed to Sylar, that the folly of the action itself becomes clear.

Kazimir's body begins to deteriorate where it stands, skin turning gray and flaking apart like a fire-blasted cadaver, bones cracking and flesh crunching like brittle wood under its own weight. The old man's head yawns back, unable to sustain the weight of his skull, and as his neck cracks at the gash across his throat, a plume of rippling black smoke rises forth like some umbral geyser from within his body, trimmed on the edges with ephemeral tongues of gray fire.

All of the umbral fog that had been issuing forth from Kazimir's form, as it crumbles within the slouching confines of his well-tailored suit begins to swirl and churn around Sylar, serpentine tendrils of darker, deeper blackness slithering within the roiling clouds. Gabriel. The voice is disembodied, an echoed and haunting sound of multitudes of voices all speaking at once, some men, some women. You poor delusional child.

The shadowy mass coalesces into a tattered form of vague human silhouette, fringed with ephemeral waves of darkness that slither and snap like striking vipers at the air. There are no heroes in this world.

And like the snapping tendrils on its periphery, the wraith-like form of Kazimir Volken rises up into the air, condensing into a column of billowing darkness that opens up some phantasmal maw before lunging down towards Sylar, as the body of Richard Santiago, finally pushed to its limit, crumbles into so much ash and dust on the floor.

As quickly as it comes, the pure joy and satisfaction of dealing punishment is stripped away, lasers cutting out into nothing as the plumes of black smoke comes pouring out of the husk-like body that was never really, truly alive anymore. Too late, Sylar understands it, and he stands stock still as the force of the smokey presence blows back glass, debris, whips at hair and clothes. It's the Underground all over again, and he doesn't need to see his own face to recognise the future. The impulse to run is strong, to scurry like a cockroach, but Sylar reins it in, even as the pillar of smokey-substance, life and death in one organic, umbral entity, bears down on him.

All that's left now is helping everybody else through it, shining your light so the rest of us can see. Do you think you can do that?

A fleeting memory, and the radioactive light burns bright and hot, singes clothing and sears the very corners of the room, and it hurts, enough that Sylar opens his mouth to less loose an angry, growling cry of pain but he lets it go, the explosion imminent. But underneath the pain of light and heat, something colder, something familiar starts to pierce his form as tendrils of incorporeal darkness reach for him, wrap about him, invade.

"No," Sylar chokes out, and finally, lets go his control of the power of radiation. A few moments too late.

You were so close, Gabriel. The disembodied voice begins on the outside of Sylar's form, resonating from the swirling mass of darkness that consumes him, painfully. But yet at the same time, you never had a chance to stop me. No one does. No one can. The voice shifts, a multitude of agonized words screaming no longer outside of Sylar, but within him, like the sound of his own mind speaking back in baleful rebuking.

As the horror of what has happened begins to dawn on Sylar, he is flooded with mixed senses. The feeling of intense, prickling pain over the whole of his body, like the time Kazimir shook his hand without the security of a glove. The horror of the beast that begins to dwell within is only intensified by the sensation of immobility and helplessness, a mental struggle against a mind that has spent generations honing its control over the spirit of an unwilling host.

This must be what it is like, to experience the incapacitation before Sylar finishes his grim task of harvesting a power. But unlike when Sylar finishes his dark work, there is no sweet and painless release of death awaiting Gabriel Gray. No, instead there is the agonizing realization that there is no death, only the suffocating feeling of being confined away in some deep, dark and private hole where only the voices of all of Kazimir's victims, and the ghosts of his past exist to keep the serial killer company.

Kazimir is not death, as he has proclaimed so many times, he is purgatory.

Panic without the physical responses there makes it so much worse. Without the beating of your own heart to ground you, the quick intake of breath or even the ability to scream. No, Sylar repeats, without a voice. No, get away from me, GET AWAY FROM ME. It's like raging at the sky for masking eternity, at gravity for keeping you to the earth. Even if there were a response, that only means you're insane, or that it doesn't matter.

He can't move. Can't blink. But he rages and hates for the next several moments, an incoherent telepathic entity inside himself. Santiago must have done the same thing, but perhaps with less venom, less understanding than Sylar does now, attempting to wrestle with the demon in his mind as his body, outside of his control now, recovers from the near-radioactive explosion, drawing in breaths that Sylar would gladly stop if he could in favour of this.


Why didn't you just take it? he rages into the dark, louder than the other voices trapped there, still filled with life of only a few moments ago. Why did you wait?

Kazimir lurches a few moments after settling in to the new form; decades younger and healthier, taller and more physically fit, all of these new sensations cause an awkward child-like learning curve, once that Kazimir fears will take as long as it did the first time, save that somehow… things make more sense now. Motor skills begin to come back quickly, and the understanding of how fingers of a different size feel, how feet of a different size move, how legs of a different length stride all begins to fall into place one after another. Even something as simple as lung capacity is studied.

When I first met you, Sylar, No Gabriel, no masks, no lies. No half-truths and shiny ideals designed to distract and disorient. You were not trusted among my group, you were not respected, and you had not grown into the magnificent creature that you are now. Initially, I was repulsed by you, the pinnacle of everything I had come to hate since I discovered my ability generations ago. Even as the psychic wraith howls inside of Sylar's mind, he can feel his body moving, every touch and sensation blunted as if by anesthesia, dull and lifeless. But in the end, it all boils down to why, doesn't it? The end is always why? The desire to know the motivations behind something seemingly so inhuman, something so incomprehensible. The human desire to categorize and classify.

Now in control of Sylar's form, Kazimir stretches his arms out to the side, pressing down a mental force upon the would-be hero with a cloying fog of psychic enervation. The why is as old as time itself, older than even I. Looking down to his hands, Kazimir curls his lips — Sylar's lips — into a cruel smile as a flicker of atomic light sparks from his fingertips in an uncontrolled arc. Look around you, look at humanity and it's very nature. I am but one stone of many cast unto the ocean of time, my ripples are but one of many who have sought to disturb the serenity and stillness. Others have claimed they caused wars for power, for the greater good, for some altruistic cause… My goals are far simpler now, far more primal. The cruel smile grows larger, You should understand primal things, Sylar.

Humanity, does not deserve this world. Not merely the Evolved, but all of the terrible children of men. We are a plague and a corruption on the very face of this fine planet. We are a destructive and corruptive force that will undoubtedly be its ruinous end. My very existence is proof enough of this. What species, who can produce beings who live as I do, as death incarnate deserves this world? The voice Sylar hears has changed, the internal monologue no longer in the rough and scratchy voice of Richard Santiago, but more horrifyingly, the voice of Gabriel Gray.

At first I was horrified by my own curse and those I found who were like me. Then, I began to realize that humanity itself is as ugly as I am within. At first it was the pretense of the Evolved, using them as — scape goats — but then it became something more. I realized that every other person has the capacity for such vile disgust. An order is given, a hand is waved, and hundreds of children die. An order is given, a paper is signed, and a city is turned to a field of glass. We are all monsters.

Turning to look at the crushed chair, splintered into fragments of sharp wood, Kazimir seems momentarily wistful, letting his newfound eyes focus on the dusty remains of his old host.

Yes, not all, not everyone is as depraved. But that is the beauty of the Shanti virus I have been given. Ninety percent of the world's population, in one fell swoop. Pray those who inherit the earth will learn and be of the good.

One defiant sweep of his hand casts the splinters of wood aside with a telekinetic swat that causes the remains of the chair to be scattered across the four corners of the warehouse, sending his precious mirrors toppling with the sound of shattering glass. If they do not, I will exist eternally, to judge them.

Sylar is forced to listen, forced to watch as Kazimir tests out his new home, and when the anger lessens… no, it doesn't lessen, but like the physical sensations he receives from the outer world, it too is dulled, as if detached. What sidles up to it is a shimmer of fear. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, fear is always there. Primal. Wu-Long felt it every second of the day, delusional paranoia (or maybe not so) and Sylar knows it now. Control had always been important. And now he has none of it. Not even a scrap. Not even his own voice, which echoes itself through him, taunting.

Along with the sensations of a new vessel, Kazimir will also feel a twinge of pain. Beneath the sleeve of his right arm, a few deep scrapes and cuts from torn wood along his forearm, from a chase in the dark just a few hours ago. Gashes that could have gone deeper and ended him, easily, just like any other human in this world. But apart from that, he has the Abby-seal of approval in healthiness. Ironically, he'd asked for his wounds to be mended for this one purpose.

What a mistake that turned out to be. So much has gone wrong.

When Sylar next speaks, it's the sound of shimmering, uncontrolled fear. There's no face to create a stoic mask, no power to flaunt in the face of danger. Just fear, and anger, and a deep and plunging self-loathing, and it's this trifecta that combines to create the voice that speaks in his own head. You always told me there was potential to my ability that I didn't let myself see. You were right, but not in the ways you think. There's a catch, Volken. The hunger. It might not change you but it will consume you and I can't wait for it to tear you to pieces. You don't understand what you've done. Once you're done judging, hating, there will be nothing left but ash and yourself, and you'll hate it. You really will.

The notion that there is something, an idea, an angle, a situation that Kazimir did not consider in advance causes him no shortage of rage. It is something Sylar can symbiotically sense and feel, the ability to tell Kazimir's own internal emotions, his own once-guarded secrets now laid out to bear no matter how hard he tries to conceal them. The embarrassment, the frustration, the doubt almost overwhelms the older man for a moment, and that emotional unbalance loosens the enervating bonds the Shadow of Life keeps on Sylar's consciousness.

"T-Then…" The words are spoken, aloud, through clenched teeth as Kazimir struggles to regain that momentary loosening of control. "Then you and I shall suffer together for eternity, but I will have that eternity to learn… to…" His brow tenses, one hand coming up to hold his forehead. So many memories, ideas, statistics, formulas, lessons, languages and other assorted bits of information bombard Kazimir at once as he searches Sylar's vast memory, another momentary slip that is quickly recovered.

No purgatory, it seems, is inescapable.

Is it possible to laugh when all you are is a disembodied voice? Laughter involves a physical reaction, breathing, response. Still, a rasping chuckle drifts through the combined consciousness of Kazimir and Sylar, belonging to the latter although he supposes that one day, if they truly do share eternity, there might not be a difference. But the laughter, for now, grates against that brief moment of clarity and doubt, mocking and sinuous around Kazimir's consciousness.

Not many celebrate eternal suffering with me in their head, Sylar responds, the bitterness too evident to lend him strength. Sum quod eris, Mr. Volken. I am what you will be.

And you will regret it for as long as I'm here.


January 8th: Our Own Fate
January 8th: Of Salami, Stocks, and Saurkraut...
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