The Butterfly Effect


r_edward_icon.gif eileen2_icon.gif peter4_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif

Scene Title The Butterfly Effect
Synopsis The mysteries of time travel are discussed, as is the mystery of Kazimir Volken.
Date December 8, 2018

The Underground: The String Theory Room

"His name, was Kazimir Volken."

Edward's words hang in the air like the echo of a gunshot, proof of both the connection between Adam and Kazimir, proof of Kazimir's long-lived plans, proof that the man Sylar knows in his time isn't the first Kazimir Volken. But does Edward have the full truth, the dirty and terrible truth of who and what Kazimir truly is? That much, he is either keeping close to his chest, or does not know.

"You still identify yourself as Sylar," Edward walks past the length of the chalk board, hands folding behind his back as his head dips down to stare at the water-stained concrete floor. "Therefore, you have not become his successor. It's evident enough to me that the name Kazimir may not be as simple as presumed, but is rather a title of some sort, passed down from one mass-murdering sociopath — Present company excluded " Edward nods to Peter first, then Sylar, " — to another."

Peter's brows furrow together as he listens to Doctor Ray speak, arms folded across his chest and head tilted down to stare at the floor in a manner more penetant than the doctor. "Does any of this sound remotely familiar, Mister Gray?" Some of it does, it reminds Sylar of conversations had with Kazimir, one in particular about the power of a name. About how what people identify themselves as defines how others percieve them. About masks.

If there's one thing Sylar understands, it's masks.

As Edward talks, Sylar studies the Nazis in the picture, the one supposedly named Kazimir Volken. When asked as to what he recalls, a perfect memory offers up a conversation readily. It's a mask, Gabriel. You wear it to hide who and what you really are, so that any affront to you can be attributed to the mask, not the man behind it. To protect yourself…

He'd asked why Kazimir had not identified him as Sylar, his chosen name, impulsively taken the day he'd killed for the first time. The aged photograph is clipped back into place, somewhat awkwardly as he leaves his left arm hanging useless, but held in place once more. He turns his back to Edward, to Peter, and follows the string, one finger hooked around it.

Anything that hides behind an alias, it is a sign of weakness. You, Gabriel, are anything but weak. Your name is strong, profoundly so, and there is great power in a name.

Title or alias? Honor or disguise? He stops when the string ties onto a different one, although the course remains the same, one thin rope only ending and tying onto a preexisting string that runs in much the same direction. Perhaps the string that represents the face he's most familiar with when summoning up the name Kazimir Volken in his mind. He follows this too.

"It sounds familiar," he admits, finally, eyes on the web rather than the man who put it together. "He had told me everything the day I met him. He'd promised me all of this." And now, Sylar's dark gaze switches to Edward's blue, an eyebrow lifting. "I'd accepted, you realise."

"Predictably so." Edward's pale eyes follow Sylar's movements thorugh the lenses of his circular glasses, watching the killer trace the ash gray thread of yarn that represents Kazimir, where it connects with strings representing the rest of the Vanguard, criss-crossing with photographs of many familiar faces, many familiar places. One magenta thread, however, catches Sylar's attention. The black and white photograph of a waifish young woman sitting on a park bench looks like a surveillance photo from a police agency, but the young woman surrounded by birds is none other than Eileen Ruskin. Her string veers off in a dramaticly different direction from the five other Vanguard strings that all end at the same knot. Hers meets with a white thread, Peter's thread.

"But seeing what you've seen now," Magenta and white travel twined together to meet up with a black thread, and pinned there is a picture of an old coal-burning power plant on the water, and newspaper clippings about the virus, and a date — March 16th, 2009. "Do you still accept this vision of the future?"

The magenta thread is likewise followed when he recognises it, as if to find where it ends, what death Munin finally met, just like all the others. There's nothing definite, however - nothing like the poetic, dead end tangle of those in the Vanguard he's familiar with - it twines with Peter's, curiously, ties off at a thread that does not seem to represent a person, but a place, a time. The black string sways under the few items clipped to it when Sylar touches it, and Edward asks the money question. He can feel Peter's eyes on him too.

Sylar doesn't answer, and only turns to look at Peter. "You said you didn't go back and fix all this yourself because it's complicated," he says. "It changes. It gets worse." His gaze switches back to Edward, one good, bared shoulder rising and falling in a gentle shrug. "This place could get worse no matter what I do." He sounds certain, as if their situation weren't dire enough, as if enough people hadn't died. Perhaps it could get worse. Perhaps one wouldn't want to imagine the ways.

"It's more complicated than that." Peter begins to explain, only to draw a terse hiss of breath from Edward who shakes his head slowly. Peter grimaces, watching as the doctor pushes glasses up the bridge of his nose with two fingers, moving back to the chalk board. He picks up one stick of chalk, the one he had set down after drawing two points on either end of a line, and points at one.

"Allow me to educate you, Mister Gray, on the finer points of temporal distortion. You may be familiar with a concept known as a butterfly effect." Edward taps the board with his piece of chalk, "All poetic notions aside, both Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura have proven this postulate to be true. Peter did in fact go back and attempt to fix this situation, before he had my counsel." Pale eyes narrow slightly, "Upon returning to this time, Peter discovered the situation with the virus had only worsened, as it mutated along with a previously unknown viral strain known as Rage-Dementia, turning into the Shanti-Rage Virus."

Edward paces back and forth, his hand holding the chalk subtly gesturing in the air. "Peter's slight interactions into the timeline not his own only made the situation worse upon his return. Had he stayed too long, he would have risked even worse outcomes." There's a motion to the chalk board, "Allow me to explain."

"Traveling forward in time isn't a problem; you travel from A to B." He draws an arc from one end of the line to another with an arrow on the end. "Typically this presents you with a view into what will become an unrealized reality." Edward's head cants to the side as he eyes Peter for a moment.

"Allowing you to see how time would have progressed had you not leapt into the future. This, of course, creates a problem. You can never return to this new future if you depart it, because the after-effects of your disappearance from the past will create a wholly new future based on your absence. It's a difficult topic to fully detail, but thankfully for you," A line is drawn from point B to point A, "This is where you need to be concerned more."

"Travel from A to B, now attempt to travel back. Without the proper frame of reference or guidance, you could arrive at point A before you left, or a year earlier, or a year later, or ten, or ten thousand, or millions of permutations." Edward motions abstractly in the air with the chalk, "Unskilled wanderings create… ripples." His brows raise at that final word, adding emphasis to it. "This is doubly so for those traveling from their native time to a prior one. They could potentially unwrite their own future, creating disastrous consequences when they attempt to return to where they came. A rift as it were."

Edward moves away from the chalk board, ducking under the black string as he moves to stand near Sylar. "You have the great fortune of being native to the time you wish to change, having only forseen events of the future, not attempting to change your own past. You can avoid these dangerous ripples, or the worst of them in any event." His eyes divert over to Peter, then back to Sylar, "But the caveat is such; Should a traveler appear earlier in a timeline of his own existance, he would be as a pebble, cast upon still waters." The much shorter man stares up at Sylar, shrugging one shoulder as if the point was inconsequential, and then begins meandering back to the board, "But the ripples he creates would in time radiate upon far distant shores. Geometricly altering events in its path." His tone changes from whimsical to serious, pausing with his back to Sylar, facing the board. "Without proper insight, the odds of anyone appearing at a destination they previously belonged to is so remote as to be mathematically disharmonious." He looks over his shoulder, "Meaning, getting you back to the appropriate time where you could do the most good is the most dangerous. Sending you days, weeks, even months ahead is safer, but ultimately puts you in a difficult situation. Trying to send you back to the moment after you left…" Edward shakes his head, "Your place of origin is where you can do the most damage."

During Edward's impromptu lecture, a shadow belonging to a dark-haired woman appears in the doorway and lingers on the fringes of the gathering with its arms folded across its chest and its head cocked at an inquisitive angle. It isn't the mathematician that interests her, for she's heard this spiel a hundred different times before — it's the man he's presently addressing. Pale green eyes shift from Edward to Peter and then finally to Sylar, settling on the muscular contours of his naked back. She says nothing, either not wanting to interrupt, or desiring to get a good, long look at their visitor before he turns around and realizes that he, Peter and Edward are no longer alone in this labyrinth of strings.

There's a chair. Sylar takes it as Edward begins his explanation - like he tells people, Sylar is happy to learn and a good student, and appears like one now as he tilts his head to the side and takes it all in. He retains things, understands them better than most people, just because he's been built this way. He doesn't quite have Edward's analytical mind, however, and as Edward unravels the complexities behind time travel and its affects, his gaze will occasionally switch from the board and all its equations and diagrams to look at the man in something like attentive envy.

"Then let's not send me there," Sylar says, almost dryly. A glance to Peter. "It doesn't sound like a convenient place to be anyway." Gunfire. HomeSec. No, not a good place to land. "But if I go too far forward… Kazimir, the one from my time, can move this on without me. By the time I get back it might be too far gone, it might all even happen…" And that's when he finally hears that a fourth heart beat has joined the room, immediately tensing, knowing he can't be seen here by anyone but the two men who know who he truly is. "Sooner," he finishes, tone distracted, and finally turning, standing up to see the figure at the door.

It takes almost too long to come to his conclusion, both appearance, setting, and logic setting him back, but finally, Sylar says, simply, "Munin?"

"Eileen." Peter keeps his voice down as he spots her, quietly stepping around Sylar's chair from where he had been leaning up against another one of the chalk-boards. "Yoou shouldn't — " His dark eyes track over to Sylar, and a his expression sours some, "I'm sorry." Peter's head lowers, like a child about to be chastised for having done something wrong. It's all Edward can do not to roll his eyes.

"We most certainly won't be sending you back to that point in time." The doctor moves over to Sylar's chair, ams folded, "However, it will take me some time to make the proper equations for the exact date and time of your arrival, based on the string web here," He nods his head to the temporal cat's cradle, "And your corrections." One brow raises, "I want you to be able to find a point of reference in these strings that is closest to when you left, that way I have an idea of what time frame to shoot for." Yet still, is he planning on using a toothpick time machine? There's been no real say as to how this would all be happening.

"I didn't want you to know he was out of confinement yet, I — Part of me was hoping that he'd already be gone by the time you came down here." Peter raises a hand to brush along his forehead, breathing in a slow breath before pushing it out through his nose. "Did you dose yet?" It's meant as a topical diversion, two fingers tapping on the circular scar tissue at the side of Peter's throat below his chin.

"I'll want to get a detailed understanding of your present so that I know it well enough to accurately describe the conditions as possible." Edward rubs one hand over his mouth, eyes wandering his chalk-boards, "Thankfully the amount of time you spend here won't have any relation to when you get back, precicely any way." The physicist's blue eyes track back to Sylar, meanderingly, "I do have something else to ask of you as well, when you return. But that can wait." Edward keeps his voice hushed as he asks, a faint smile raising on his lips before lowering to a more neutral look again.

Her nose is a little more crooked than Sylar probably remembers, and her bony build has since thickened out into something a little more svelte and healthy-looking, but there's no mistaking the shape of her face or the softness of her mouth. Munin — or at least the woman who once went by that name — steps out of the half-light and into full view. Her clothes are distressed, but unlike the Munin of the past they fit her well; a long beige coat hangs off her slender frame, partially obscuring the tank top, khaki shorts and thick woolen scarf she wears beneath, while the only piece of jewelry on her body is a leather bracelet that encircles her left wrist. The other is wrapped in bandages and tinged with engine grease and traces of blood, though the rosy tint to her cheeks suggests the uglier of the stains belongs to somebody else. "I wanted to see for myself," Eileen tells Peter, her voice low, husky and completely unapologetic. She leaves it at that.

Sylar seems to only be half listening, a hand rested against the back of the chair he'd claimed as he looks Eileen up and down, a flash of a glance to Peter as he addresses her, full of accusation and more of that ever-present resentment. As if this were a secret kept from him that Peter had no right to keep. Especially considering he knows Peter's true intent behind keeping him in the containment room.

His head turns to regard Edward, gaze then drifting against along the strings, notably pausing at the tangle of Vanguard timelines that only ends as it possibly could - a mess. "We'll both need time," he says. "I want to understand all of this." Besides… they have all the time in the world, now that he understands the nature of said time, or at least, Edward's interpretation. But he's not going to let the man, genius or no, take over entirely as to when and where Sylar gets sent back. He meets Edward's eyes again. "6th of December, midnight," he says, glancing about the web, but he's not sure how to identify the spot. Not yet. "2008," he feels obliged to add.

Now, towards Eileen— a name she had given him to call her by, the name she seems to go by exclusively now— and Sylar raises an eyebrow. She's changed. Has he? Besides the evidence of fresh physical wounds, bandaged over with squares of gauze and beneath that, held closed by wire, maybe he's not so different. "It's a good thing Peter let me live," he says, an edge in his words as he looks the man's way, "or else you wouldn't get to tell me that…" He tilts his head a little, regarding her. "…you told me so."

Peter watches Eileen for a short time, his eyes drifting down to her bandaged hand, then fall closed. He waits a moment in silence before turning to look back at Sylar, lingering on his former nemesis for a time, and then shifts his dark eyes back on Eileen once more. He doesn't say anything, not with words, and nothing as elaborate as a power. His communication is entirely in his expression, one that displays his awkwardness and uncertainty, but ultimately his acceptance of a situation he has no right in controling. Eileen and Edward, having spent the better part of a decade with Peter in one capacity or another have come accustomed to his silences, and this one is pointedly clear. I'll be outside.

"Two thousand and eight…" Edward says the date as if it was foreign, "Follow the gray yarn thread until it meets the black leather one, that's roughly some point in January of 2009 when you adopted the name Kazimir Volken." Edward's gaze narrows slightly, watching Sylar as he follows his own direction along the path of the strings, spotting a photograph of of an F-18 crashed into a city street.

Peter steps outside, moving to one side of the door to press his back up against the concrete wall. His eyes close, head tilting back to rest up against the wall. For a time he's just quiet, listening to the dim echo of Edward's voice, and then slowly reaches inside of his jacket for something. In his hand, he withdraws a small pneumatic injection device with a circle of tightly-packed needles at the muzzle. He eyes the cylincridal canister screwed into the back, and then closes his eyes and tosses it over the edge of the cat-walk's railing, some forty feet down to the rail platform below. He knows what he has to do.

"Once we find the appropriate frames of reference, we can start establishing a location in both time and space to put you that will be a comprimise of danger and efficiency." There's a slight crook of Edward's lips at that, "Regretably, this is the culmination of all of my historical reference. With telecommunications networks having long since been shattered by society's collapse, I can't just browse the internet for historical information." There's a rueful smirk there, "I feel like a pioneer."

Eileen doesn't look like she wants to say she told him so. There's a sort of severity in her expression as she watches Peter depart, tracking him with her eyes rather than a slow turn of her head. For a moment, she looks prepared to follow, to move after him on his heels, but the instant his shape is swallowed up by the shadows beyond the door, she sinks back and directs her attention back toward Edward and Sylar. She's only half-listening to their conversation, her focus elsewhere. "How do you plan on sending him back?"

Looking away from Eileen, mostly once Peter has cleared the room, Sylar turns his back towards her again, following the yarn as directed until it almost crudely knots with the black leather one that extends out on its on path, towards the past, but veering sharply once it meets that of the yarn. In one direction, news paper clippings of various murders decorate, even before that, a grainy highschool picture. It's the other direction that most interests Sylar, but he goes back, trying to estimate the time. On string. It seems almost silly.

But finally, he hooks a finger over it, yanking it once in indication - around when the white thread of Peter's, yet again, crosses over, much like, further back, the crossover that indicates an explosion wiping out New York City. "This is when he must have sent me," he says. "But I guess in your time, I was… never sent anywhere." Or was he? At Eileen's question, he goes still, carefully listening.

"How do I?" Edward raises one ragged brow, blue eyes shifting behind the lenses of his glasses to Eileen, "Miss Ruskin, I do believe time travel is outside the scope of my specific powers." His voice takes on a markedly incredulous tone, and with a click of his tongue and a shake of his head, he waves one hand towards the open door. "If you would be so kind as to go down to the mess and heat up some water?" A thin, painted smile creeps up across Edward's lips. "I think it's time for tea."

No protest comes from Eileen. Without saying another word, she offers Edward a small nod and slips back out the same way she came, swiftly and silently, her leather boots absorbing the sound of her footsteps on the floor.

The strings sway as Sylar lets them go, turning his head just enough to watch, out the corner of his eye, Eileen leave. A pause, the myriad of strings within the room all gently moving, silently, from the recent disturbance, and Sylar ducks under them so he can come stand in the center. Seems like a good place to start. "You didn't answer her question," he points out, not looking at Edward. "Even if it was the wrong one to ask. You do have a plan, don't you."

Edward pauses as Sylar's question hangs in the air. His eyes peer through the latticework of strings, leaniing to one side to peer at Sylar around a newspaper clipping showing a headline that reads, "RICKHAM WINS!" His eyes narrow slightly, and then he just brushes it all away with an affable smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. But there's something in Edward's tone of voice, however, that has an even more serious tone.

"Mister Gray," He over-enunciates the name, as if to make his point more clear, "let one thing be absolutely clear…" That smile finally reaches Edward's eyes as he tilts his head ever so slightly to the side.

"I always have a plan."

Previously in this storyline…
A Brief History of Time

Next in this storyline…
Carpe Futura

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