The Darkest Shadow


bf_arthur_icon.gif bf_cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth4_icon2.gif magnes2_icon2.gif

Scene Title The Darkest Shadow
Synopsis A horrible fate draws nearer.
Date April 8, 2016

The world is a series of interconnected choices. If you go left when others went right, what will lie down that road? Will it loop back and connect with the path avoided, or will it forge ahead and create something new and undiscovered?

The responsibility of those who know the future, juxtaposed with the responsibility of those who change what is known, can be a difficult burden to bear. For both Elisabeth Harrison and Magnes Varlane, it has meant confronting enemies of the past in unconventional ways, it has meant making moral compromises, it has meant watching a world that was content to take its medicine with enough sugar to mask the bitter taste come to grips that it’s been drinking poison this whole time.

In the basement studio of the Village Renaissance Building, both wayward travelers have broken into friendly territory to discuss the future. Catherine Chesterfield is long gone from New York City, abroad in Europe advocating for the repeal of the EUSR with the assistance of her mother. But should she have known that those who rage against Pinehearst and Arthur Petrelli stole away into her tenement building, she might just smile.

Surrounded by recording equipment and musical instruments, the soundproof room serves as a perfect backdrop for conspiracy, in the looming grasp of the darkest shadow yet.

The Village Renaissance Building


April 8, 2016

7:13 pm

"The technopath I have is trying to scramble the facial recognition databases long enough for us to get Elaine and Adell out of town, but I don’t know what redundancies they have. If you don't want to take them back out to Kansas, Magnes, then take them north. My father has a cabin up there near where you found Redhouse, and they can hole up there for a good while — he doesn't go there anymore. Not since my… not since his wife died." Elisabeth is worried. She put Aurora with Uncle Felix and Uncle Lee pretty much as soon as the news hit two days ago, with detailed instructions on what to do if something happens to Liz and the specifics of when they have to try the portal. But the others who came through from Virus are at risk too.

"With Pinehearst being dismantled, the only people looking for us besides Arthur himself are actually the Feds… and they don't know to look for anything." She shoves a band through hair that she keeps a soft almost-black nowadays. "And Felix will keep tabs on that end to make sure we're covered. The government may be looking for us, but frankly, it's a hell of a lot easier to dodge the Feds than Arthur. With Kaito's pinpoint of the date for us to try the portal, we just have to dodge that fucker until we can go."

The audiokinetic shakes her head slightly. As always, her brain works on the logistics — it's really what she excels at. Many of these plans were put in place a year ago, but final details couldn't be established until shit hit the fan. "He's gonna be ballistic and extremely fucking dangerous."

Just a few hours ago, a bicycle courier had left a carefully wrapped box in the lobby of the building before departing— leaving behind the box, and a familiar shadow that slithered down and asked them to come collect the box, and for Elisabeth to keep it, and keep it safe.

Cardinal didn’t explain what was inside the package, and didn’t seem willing to do so.

There’s a shadowy haze that resembles an owl perching upon the brown paper-wrapped box at the moment, silent as the pair discuss their strategy and tactics for their attempted escape from this dimension entirely.

"I actually think Kansas might be the safest place. Living with Edward is probably the most secure place someone can possibly be, and I think I'm on the same page with this world's Edward." Magnes does let that linger for a moment, and asks, "What do you think? I mean I did save his life and all, do you think he's particularly prone to loyalty?"

"Arthur is going to be tricky if he comes after us, but the experience of fighting Kazimir at least gave me an idea of what combat is like against someone like that. I know that he's killable, and I know that I can do it under the right circumstances, it just won't be easy." He's dressed in his more fancy attire he's gotten into the habit of wearing, today wearing a white button up with a purple paisley vest over it, with a pair of black jeans and black combat boots.

He reaches for his gun holster, pulling out a black and silver IWI Jericho 941 R. "This gun reminds me that these people are mortal. This is what I stopped Kazimir with, before he jumped bodies. That's why I keep it. As weird as it is, this gun gives me hope."

"Put that away," Elisabeth huffs in something of an exasperated tone. "Damn, Magnes — I know that you've had better firearm safety training that to pull that shit out just to show it off." She shakes her head. "And no — I don't think Edward is loyal to anyone or anything except his kids. So that being said… I think maybe you better use the cabin. If shit goes sideways, Kansas is a hell of a lot farther away than upstate if we need to get her back here in a hurry." Because who the hell knows what's going to hit us next? There's a year and change before they can attempt to go home.

"Besides, we know Arthur has at least one healing ability. And if you face off with the Feds in a running gun battle, you're already dead. They won't fuck around, knowing you're Evo."

She paces uneasily back and forth. "We need to make sure everyone's in position to move fast if they're compromised. We have the flash codes for that already set up, so we'll know who got hit." Wrapping both hands around the back of her neck as she paces, she tries to stretch the taut muscles there.

Arthur Petrelli is a dead man,” comes the eerie whispers of the shadowy owl, its head slowly turning to watch Elisabeth pacing in an unnatural mockery of life, “He just doesn’t know it yet.

There’s silence from Richard Cardinal for a moment before there comes a low hiss, dire and angry in its strange reverberations, “I knew the names of so many of Moab’s inmates. I still do. I bet he doesn’t remember them.

"Sorry. I've been in that whole anything goes war mindset again." Magnes puts his gun away, and nods at Elisabeth's assessment. "Alright, the cabin works then. Maybe Redhouse won't mind checking on them sometimes, he's a nice guy."

When he hears the shadow, he immediately looks toward the voice. "I knew this world wasn't perfect, but I really didn't expect things to get this bad. I wonder if we have to lose our freedom everywhere we end up."

“If there’s any justice in the world, yes.” The voice comes from out of nowhere and is followed by a concussive force so powerful that it knocks both Liz and Magnes off of their feet in opposite directions, sending Magnes crashing into a rack of guitars and Elisabeth painfully into the glass window of the recording studio, cracking the thick glass in a spiderweb before she falls like a stone to the floor. The other musical equipment is scattered to the edges of the room, drums are demolished, microphone stands shatter, even heavy amps are thrown against the sound-proofed walls. The package that Cardinal had been so protective of is launched across the room too, buffeting into the wall and landing behind some of the demolished musical equipment.

A moment later, Arthur Petrelli simply manifests in the middle of the spacious room in a blurred distortion of his form. The stink of cigarette smoke clings to his body, but he looks neither fatigued nor overly put-upon by his current predicament, a surprising specimen of good health for a fugitive.

“You’re…” Arthur clenches one hand in the air, trembling with rage, “like— sand in a pearl. Irritating, and no matter what I do I can’t… seem to get rid of you.” Arthur turns slowly, and when his brows furrow there is a familiar deadening sensation in both Magnes and Elisabeth, a horrifying sensation of blanket negation that comes from the mental-manipulating powers of Rene.

“Do you two have any idea what you’ve done here?” Arthur rakes one hand through his hair, barely disturbing his delicate comb-over. “What I’ve tried to keep in a precarious balance, and you just…” he throws his hands aside, to no real effect, “topple it?”

The concussive force has both no effect on Richard Cardinal, nor can negation force him back to his physical form. Neither of which does Arthur Petrelli seem immediately aware of in his state of abject frustration and psychotic anger.

The down side to a soundproofed room is that Liz already feels vaguely muffled in ways she can't explain well to people for whom the world around them is not made up of sound waves. The shock of the voice brings Elisabeth halfway around but she's airborne before she can fully register who it is. Hitting the tempered glass that hard stuns her momentarily and she grunts in pain as she impacts it and slides to the floor. The smell of the man's cigarettes is overwhelming, though, and it niggles her. When did Arthur start smoking? The inane question is useless trivia in this moment, but well… your brain does what it does when you have a bit of a daze going on.

Pushing shakily up onto her hands after getting her bell rung, the negation of her ability just muffles her sense of the world even more — but it doesn't mean she's out of things. "We didn't topple it," she grunts, pushing to her knees in an effort to get to her feet. "Your fall from grace is your own fault!" And generally speaking… it's true. They didn't find and release the information — people from Arthur's own world did.

That said, if she draws his attention, hopefully one of the other two men in the room can actually act.

That concussive blast rips through the room, and although it doesn’t impact Cardinal, the living shadow does abruptly flatten out in a spread across the table, spilling down to the floor and away from the attention of the enraged man in the midst of the room.

As Elisabeth offers her retort to Arthur’s accusations, a coil of darkness sweeps across the floor to where Magnes has been hurled, a whisper pitched low for the gravitokinetic’s own ears. “The package… you need to get it, open it, use it on him, it’s our only chance…

He’d do it himself, but the lack of a physical form even as Rene’s power sweeps through the room might suggest that his lack of hands at the moment isn’t temporary at all.

Magnes starts to drag himself up after he hits the floor, letting Elisabeth occupy Arthur as best as she can. He won't try to attack, he instead tries to go for the box without saying a word. He doesn't want to even remotely risk Arthur's attention, he just needs to get the box.

“I don't even want this fucking world,” Arthur states with a rough, gravelly tone of voice, arms spread out at his sides as Elisabeth engages his narcissistic fascination. “I gave— I gave my entire life to the Company! I bled for them, covered up their sins, I killed who they asked me to kill and— and they said they'd be there for me.

Magnes manages to drag himself to where the box had fallen behind toppled amplifiers and guitars. He reaches, stretching, beneath the pile and fingertips slip-catch on the parcel’s corner. Then a fingernail catches a seam, and Magnes drags the small Fed-Ex package over to himself.

Breathing heavily, eyes wide and erratic, Arthur slowly stalks toward Elisabeth. “But I was just an attack dog and when I'd outlived my usefulness they tried to put me down.” Lips trembling, Arthur clenches his hands into fists. “This? This downfall? That is their sins coming back to roost! This is Arthur’s failures, not mine! Not Mine!

The visage of Arthur Petrelli ripples like the surface of a disturbed lake. Then it flickers, like an old analog television picture that isn't quite tuned in. “I spent two years in that fucking dark hole, because I got soft. Got slow. Got lazy. But now, now, I've taken everything from him.”

Arthur ripples again, flickering and guttering like a wind blown candle. “His favorite son, his wife, his dreams, and his fucking life.” Finally, the illusion crumbles in its entirety, and the colossal failure of Edward Ray’s assassination attempt comes into crystal clear focus. Cardinal and Magnes had heard that Edward sent an imprisoned killer after Arthur during the first attempt at a breakout at Moab, not long after the travelers arrived in this world. “But I don't want any of this bullshit. I want the one thing you have.”

Edward had feared that this assassin failed, had come to sit at Arthur’s heel. The truth, the gut-twisting truth staring Elisabeth in the face, was now all too clear as the illusion masking Arthur peels away to reveal a tall, thin man with a void of thick salt-and-pepper hair, a well-groomed beard like one the devil might have, a prominent nose and thick, dark brows.

“I want a way out of this life.”

The truth is so much worse.

“I want my wife and my son back.”

The truth, is that the assassin succeeded.

Arthur Petrelli is Samson Gray.


Elisabeth wishes heartily that this were actually a bigger surprise — she expected Samson Gray to show up somewhere. She expected Arthur to send the man out looking for them. Hell, Samson is the man who killed Liz Harrison. She was not quite expecting that the man had taken Arthur's place, though — that is so much worse than what she was expecting. Samson Gray is an even bigger bogeyman than Sylar was.

Throwing both hands up, eyes wide, Elisabeth shouts, "Samson! You took the best revenge ever — you did it. We don't have what you need either. You've saved everyone from Petrelli, now Pinehearst will fall. I can't give you your wife and son… but maybe there's another way. You've been trying to find a way out of here all along, right? Maybe we can help you."

It's a desperate gamble, an offer she has no intention of following through on — but if it keeps her alive to let Magnes or Cardinal actually do something, she'll talk the best game of her life. "I haven't been to any world where your wife is still alive, but YOUR SON IS."

There it is…” The shadows twist in near-gaseous coils around the fallen instruments and amplifiers as Magnes’s fingers catch on it, “Hurry. I don’t have hands, but you do… this can stop him, if anything can…” The sibilant, hissing whispers of Richard Cardinal encourage the gravitokinetic, urgency threaded beneath that ‘voice’.

Liz will only be able to keep Arthur Samson busy for so long.

Magnes still doesn't speak, he's still avoiding Samson's attention if he can, but he starts ripping the box open to see what's inside.

This is clearly Rene's ability, and he's not aware of it having a notable easy to escape field of influence like that ability Kazimir displayed. So he's not taking for granted that he'll be able to use his ability again, he's depending on whatever is in this box.

Well, there's also his gun, but… let's see what happens.

As Magnes’ fingers starts to tear at the package, Samson is rapt by Elisabeth’s presence. “Oh,” he huffs out the word, “I’m well aware that you have something I want, Ms. Harrison. I tried to protect my boy from you people by hiding him in prison but… against all odds, he'd earned enough good will to be released. I knew I could never hold him against his will. Not for long. He's… so willful.”

Across the room, Magnes’ fingers have torn open the box, revealing a smaller metal case that is cool to the touch and softly vibrating from the activity of a tiny motor inside. The outside of the metal case is stamped with Biomere Pharmaceuticals on one side, and a biohazard symbol on the other.

Creeping closer toward Elisabeth, Samson’s mouth curls up into a yellow-toothed smile. “But it doesn't matter. None of this matters, because the universe is vast and infinite.” He reaches up, and Elisabeth can feel the tension of a telekinetic vice around her neck. “But you've denied me infinity.”

Opening the metal case, Magnes finds a miniature refrigeration unit containing a single syringe, marked with a printed label. The fluid inside is nondescript, clear, and the case issues with steam when opened. But that label reads something specific, something with weight to those who know what it is. Magnes does, because he just came from a world destroyed by a variation of it.

So close now she can smell his breath, Samson’s voice is a feral growl. “You took my door away, twice, but I know that's not how you've come and gone from this world. I can see it. You're hiding something.” Desperation dances in Samson’s eyes. “How do you travel from world to world?

The syringe in Magnes’ hand reads: Advent Virus.

Elisabeth is already backed against the glass wall, there's nowhere else she can go. With his power tightening around her throat and his face that close to hers, she struggles to pull in breaths. The fear that she's going to die here and now is very real… but somehow it, too, has a muted quality. Perhaps because she's been here before. Torture at the hands of one crazy man seems to have the effect of making you not quite as paralyzed this time around — it's going to hurt. She knows it in the detached portion of her brain. Just as she knows no matter what happens, he cannot be allowed to jump worlds. It's bad enough she's loosed Kazimir Volken on this one… she's not going to compound that mistake.

"Wrong," she gasps out around his hand. "Machine like yours… I knocked… out of… alignment." Which is the truth, as far as it goes. "Overloaded … during solar… storm! … Exploded when it … opened!" Her hands fly up to her neck even though his hands aren't actually there, clawing at the invisible vice.

Spots are dancing in front of her eyes. Have to keep his attention. Magnes is either unconscious or dead in the corner for all she knows — she can't see or hear what he's doing.

I had a whole speech prepared…” As the syringe is drawn into Magnes’s fingers, the shadow sweeps away, slivers of darkness that wrap around to the opposite side of the room and boil up into the air like a tenebrous miasma, “…but you aren’t the person I was expecting, so I suppose that was a waste… tell me, do you know your Bible?

I believe that for this occasion… the proper quote would be from Exodus nine fourteen…

Magnes slowly pushes himself up, then he starts to walk towards Samson, syringe carefully held in his hand in such a way that it would be obscured from Samson's vision if he looks.

He knows that Elisabeth is in danger, but he doesn't rush, he doesn't run, because if he screws up, there's a possibility that they might not get out of this.

It's when he's about five feet from the man that he goes into a dash, and moves to stab the syringe directly into Samson's neck, pressing down onto the syringe simultaneously to both stab and inject in the most likely split second he'll have before Samson responds. "We had a chance to escape. You got paranoid and locked me up!"

Immediately releasing Elisabeth from his telekinetic hold, Samson struggles and clutches at his neck where the syringe was depressed, letting out a few quick gasps of breath in shock. His eyes flick down to the syringe, then the case, then up to Magnes with a momentary expression of horror before that expression slowly shifts to something altogether different. Samson’s brows furrow, lips part, and as his hand comes away from the imperceptible spot where the needle had plunged into his throat, where dark blue-black veins are starting to spread, he laughs.

Brows pinched together, Samson regards Magnes with momentary curiosity, before launching Magnes back against the wall, pinning him there with a humming vibration of telekinetic force. He loses complete interest in the audiokinetic, letting her slide down the wall and gently hit the floor as her breath catches back up with her. He seems equally unaware of the shadow in the room. “That… is brilliant, I have to admit. Did you come up with that one yourself, or did you get help?” Both of Samson’s gray brows rise at that inquiry, then lower.

“That would have worked, too,” Samson moves his eyes to the right and flings the syringe aside, “but I met a lovely woman named Carol who had the ability to manipulate viruses. Internal and external. Charming woman, but a little past her prime.” Samson stalks forward toward Magnes, chin up and one brow raised. “Did you get telepathy resistance training from Mister Nakamura,” Samson wonders aloud, “how much can you resist before it snaps your mind in half?”

Magnes can already feel the pressure of something behind his eyes, not a force so much as a presence, a will that isn’t his own, trying to plumb through the depths of his consciousness for the answer he’s looking for, the truth to confirm or deny the story Elisabeth had spun. “How. Much. Pressure.”

Whatever Magnes did, it facilitates Elisabeth's release from the grip of the madman… but it didn't work. And she's uncertain what exactly it was that Magnes even did until she's flat on her butt on the floor, gasping while air floods her starved lungs. She knows what killed Arthur in her world… but this is not Arthur. Time has inertia, but only so much of it. Richard Cardinal will kill "Arthur" … but it won't be in the same way.

Blue eyes flit to the shadowmorph who has slid up the wall, and she has a look on her face that speaks of regret and anguish. God knows, she never wanted to ask something like this of him — not knowing what she knows now. But there aren't many options. And frankly, Samson is probably one of the only powered individuals besides Kazimir himself that Elisabeth is utterly terrified may be unstoppable. "If you believe light is divine…. Remember light was born out of darkness." The words are husky, her voice rasping with the swelling already roughening her vocal cords. They seem a complete non sequitur to the others in the room, if they're even noticed. But it calls to mind a conversation not too long after the Moab escape. She knows what he can do… and she's asking him to try with the same words she offered when she told him about an alternate Richard Cardinal swallowing a tactical nuke.

Saving the world is messy business. Sometimes you become the monster so others don't have to.

Time may have inertia, but it also has an ally. One who's already a monster.

Amidst the chaos, the sound of the door being flung open might almost go unnoticed. A woman stands there, her blonde hair wild, blue eyes burning with an unbridled fury. Her power may have been robbed from her the moment she stepped inside the room, but Odessa Woods is so much more than her ability.

Stalking forward, she slides a knife from a holster at her thigh. The Kensei sword is strapped to her back. "You didn't think I'd simply run and hide, did you?" She throws the knife at Samson in a fluid motion that comes from years of practice. "It took me a long damn while to get back from that frozen wasteland, and it gave me a lot of time to think about how good it's going to feel to collect your fucking head." One more hatch mark for the wall. She wanted to retire on a high note, and they don't get much higher than this one.

She reaches into the other holster and Odessa lets out a bark of laughter before she breaks into a run and launches herself at her enemy.


It was a good plan. There's a chill that even a shadow can feel as it fails.

The living shadow that calls itself Richard Cardinal coils like a serpent about to strike, spreading itself out in a billowing cloud of nothing as Elisabeth chokes out those words past a pained throat. There's a moment frozen when Odessa Woods flings the door open and hurls a knife - and then herself - at the force of nature that Samson Grey's become, as seemingly indestructible as a mountain.

It doesn't stop them from trying.

Odessa strikes from one side, and Cardinal the other, swirling tendrils of oblivion hungrily reaching to coil around the man while avoiding the newfound ally to this fight. A hissing roar emerges from the darkness like steel boiling away in the sun's heat, vengeance for his Elisabeth fueling his rage.

The people in this room, after all, are all uniquely equipped to move mountains.

Magnes doesn't have telepathic training, at least not that he knows of, but as Kaylee noted in the past, his mind is like swiss cheese with how screwed up his memories are.

That, however, doesn't stop him from feeling telepathic pressure. He tries his best to concentrate, to focus, things he learned from Kimiko and the Company: To focus his mind so that he's not just flailing his thoughts all over the place.

But they didn't teach him that for resisting telepathy, so all he can do is try to wait for a moment, which is provided by Odessa, and then Cardinal.

He tries to take advantage of them taking Samson's attention, enough to draw his Jericho from the holster on his side, trying to think through the ridiculous pain and fire at Samson's head.

Horrifyingly, it works.

Something Samson sees inside of Magnes’ mind causes him to recoil in horror or confusion or perhaps some mixture of both, a reaction he didn't make when a knife planted itself in his back and simply stayed there. His look of surprise changes to shock as that gun goes off and punches a bullet square through Samson’s right eye and explodes out the back of his head. He lets out a keening, hissing slur of words as he stumbles back, the negation field guttering and then finally ceasing.

Horrifyingly, he isn't dead.

Samson recoils back so far he should have fallen over, but doesn't. When the shadow form of Richard Cardinal sweeps in, Samson twists about to face it and recoils only long enough to raise one arm that is disintegrated down to the elbow by the consuming swarm of night black energy. Samson’s scream is one of anguish and frustration, but what is worse is how rapidly he is recovering.

Horrifyingly, his eye has already healed.

Which makes Odessa’s approach all the more poorly-timed. He's already regrowing his arm by the time he uses that goddamn telekinesis on Odessa, wrenching her arm to near the breaking point as he forces her to the ground with a furrow of his brows, twisting and wrenching. The negation comes back again, but so does Cardinal, coming for his entire fucking body.

He sees Samson’s eye regard him peripherally, sees a point of blue light build up in his pupil and then— lightning. A brilliant blast of lightning explodes through the shadow, hot as the sun and blinding bright. It crackles with ozone and strikes the wall leaving a smoldering scorch mark.

Everyone,” Samson grouses, “thinks they're special. Adam Monroe thought he was, so did Claire Bennet.” He twists Odessa’s arm further, threatening to break it as he walks closer to her. “Arthur did too. But me?” Samson’s yellow teeth flash in a feral smile. “I'm one of a kind. You all?”

Samson turns his attention to Magnes. “You're all just broken.

Broken they may be, but the release of the negation field allows for a wider range of attack vectors. With her ability restored, Elisabeth's perception is still muffled by the sound-proofed walls of the recording room, but she can do a lot with a little sound. The abject terror of Samson Gray has already poured adrenaline into her body. The low-level bass hum of panic flares to life around her when the negation field is essentially destroyed with the gunshot.

The audiokinetic closes her eyes, reaching for the sound waves in the room — Samson's voice, the sound around her own body. She manipulates those sound waves and shoves them into Samson's head much the same way she tried to do to Ezekiel several years ago. But Liz has had training since then in what acoustic frequencies and resonance, more particularly, can do to the human body. She has teased about turning someone's brain to tapioca… but there's a truth to that statement, if she can vibrate the brain enough.

But he's recovering so fucking fast that the attack seems in vain — negated maybe even before she's fully formed it. "Shoot!" She gasps at Magnes, hoping the shot will again distract enough that perhaps Odessa can freeze Samson in that moment of non-negation. It could be the only shot they have to kill him.

With Woods' arm held and twisted like it is, her weapon is useless to her. Well, the weapon in that hand is useless to her. "You're the one who's broken!" And she can't get close enough to strike out without—


There's a sick sound as Odessa twists her shoulder out of its socket in order to get close enough to jab with her off-hand, crying out in pain and with the rage she has for this man. It looks like a strike with the side of her fist at first, but there's a quiet snap as the needle deploys and the contents are dumped into Samson's system. "Take your medicine!" It appears to be a repeat of Cardinal and Magnes' earlier play.

The lightning tears through Richard Cardinal as though he wasn't even there— but the effect upon the living shadow is very apparent.

A hideous and echoing yet somehow whispered shriek rings out through the room - a sound Elisabeth has heard before - as the flash of lightning’s brightness explodes through him. The center portion of what was swirling shadow is simply gone, the periphery a roiling blackness recoiling against the wall as if splattered there, trembling threads of shadow reaching to one another to try and pull himself back together.

Not dead - yet - but at least for the moment out of the fight.

Magnes tries to find the right moment to shoot again, but that right moment presents itself when Odessa injects Samson again. "Not this time, Samson!"

He raises his gun and tries to fire three shots off into his head. Why? Because he wants to disrupt his ability to control the virus in his system, just long enough for it to actually work before he heals.

And just to rub salt into the wound, he fires a fourth shot, this one aimed at his throat. Not only to mess with his breathing in an attempt to cut off oxygen to the brain, but also trying his best to aim a shot through his throat and into his spine.

While Claire never told him about her weakness, he did read 9th Wonders. He can only hope that Adam shares said weakness, or at the very least that doing this holds Samson off. "No one is special, but at the same time, everyone is unique, even across universes. I fought Kazimir, in your son's body of all people, I'm not going to die here!"

Magnes might be able to liken what happens next to the powers of a niche Marvel comic book villain: Shiva, a robot that can only be damaged by the same source one time. Cut it with a sword, it becomes immune to blades. Shoot it with a gun, it becomes bulletproof. Samson Gray doesn't have an ability like Shiva’s, but he is adaptable.

After the first bullet lands home, as Magnes is firing the others, several things are happening inside of Samson’s body, only a few of which he is aware of. The first is a reflexive thought that sends a wave of violet energy crackling outward from his body. Magnes and Elisabeth both recognize the ability of Gillian Childs immediately. Rene’s negation power doesn't so much as stutter.

No,” is the first thing Samson says as his regeneration is sent into an amplified overdrive. The second and third entry holes are closing as fast as they open. The wound at his throat looks more like a bullet parting water for how fast his neck closes back up. “You do,” he says to Magnes, firing a bolt of electricity square into his chest. The blast is accompanied by a scent of ozone and a sudden crackling snap, and as Magnes is thrown off of his feet and crashes to the floor, he is not breathing.

His heart has stopped.

Slowly turning to look down at Odessa, Samson flicks a hand aside and hurls her into the glass window of the recording studio that Elisabeth already smashed into once before. This impact shatters the glass and sends Odessa toppling over the recording console and out of sight. Other than the flickering shreds of Cardinal that are left, Samson and Elisabeth are alone with one another now.

Disregarding the syringe that Odessa stabbed him with, Samson surges with purple light again and narrows his eyes. “What does Ruiz have to do with this?” He found that much inside of Magnes’ mind. “Is it his ability? Is that how you did this?” She can feel him behind her eyes again, intruding into the corners of her mind with renewed strength.

Samson is filled with a mania, eyes wide and lips parted in a mad smile, teeth bared and hands trembling. This is exhilarating for him, an addiction fulfilled. “Go ahead, resist,” he dares her, “it only makes this better for me.

“Go ahead and— ” Samson’s throat tightens, lips press together in a thin line, eyes narrow. He clears his throat and starts to talk again, but he is short of breath and the guttering purple light of Gillian’s augmentation starts to fade.

What— ” Samson splutters, wincing and lurching as though sick to his stomach. “What did— ” He looks back to the syringe Odessa had stabbed him with: unlabeled. “What— what did you— ”

The haunting scream sends the audiokinetic back in time to a helicopter fighting to lift off from the snowpack, buffeted by shockwaves while a scream echoes out of tattered wisps of darkness. Frozen in that moment of PTSD-induced juxtaposition, Elisabeth sees what happens next in slow motion. The muzzle flash of Magnes's gun. Odessa flying at her while she watches, oddly detached from the action. The violet color of augmentation… perhaps Samson's downfall, because whatever Odessa injected seems to literally feed on that augmented power. All against a backdrop of a dark mushroom cloud stark above a white landscape.

She turns her head slightly, taking in the fact that she and Samson are alone together… how is she of all people the last one standing? Again? His presence in her head is almost a non-issue — she's not really thinking about anything. It might be something of a protection against him itself. In shock, those moments seem to stretch out forever although the reality is that it's literally mere seconds. Ruiz is dead, is the blank thought.

Elisabeth closes her hand around something that landed next to her, vaguely realizing it's a broken piece of one of the guitar stands that Cat always kept in the recording room. Pushing to her feet, wavering and still feeling like world is out of focus and she's two places at once, it doesn't occur to her to be grateful or even worry that she's not the focus of his attention. She merely starts swinging the length of metal like a softball bat, methodically and as hard as she can as often as she can, at his head. Must crush the head. Wasn't there a scene like this in one of the Terminator movies? Didn't someone once tell her she was Sarah fucking Connor? Was it Teo? Terminator movies for the win… The strangest things pass through your mind when you're dissociating due to shock.

Odessa is laughing as she's picked up and thrown. At least until she crashes through what's left of the glass. The sound is gone when she disappears over the console. The pain in her shoulder is screaming, but she is so far past the point of rationality now. One hand grasps at the recording console, like claws digging in to find purchase. She drags herself up, peering over the edge of the broken window. "You can stop now, Elisabeth. None of that is necessary."

Her eyes are wide and wild, but full of light as she climbs up onto the console so she can climb back through the broken window. She reaches out and grabs the neck of the guitar stand in mid-swing with her good arm. It drags her forward a few steps, but that resistance is enough to pull Elisabeth back out of the moment. "It's okay. I've got this one. Go check on Varlane."

When Samson gives her his attention once more, she's looking him in the eye. "I know it's my birthday and all," she says sweetly, "but I've decided to be the one to pass out gifts. Do you like yours?" Giggles bubble up past her lips and it seems it takes her a second to get it all under control. "It's a neurotoxin."

Not a virus. Not something Carol Praeger could have manipulated.

"I've never liked to use it, myself. Always felt like it takes the sport out of my hunts. I know you know what that's like. But for you? Gosh, I've decided to make an exception." She grins, wide and manic, "Let me break this down for you… Before you break down for me." Ever the scientist, she's got her lecture on the subject prepared. She's had since October to rehearse it.

"Adynomine takes roughly sixty seconds to kick in, at which point your abilities – save for the regeneration – are going to start shutting down in short order. Just as you're experiencing now!" Her voice is cheerful. "You'll keep the regeneration just long enough…"

Her head tips toward the other discarded syringe on the floor, her eyes get wide. "Uh oh! You've been infected with Advent!" One hand comes up to cover her mouth briefly in shock. "That's not good for someone with regenerative abilities." Her face pulls into a pout, feigning concern. Then her tone turns matter-of-fact, her head tipping to one side as she informs him, "See, Advent feasts on regeneration."

As she watches Gillian's power stutter and flicker away, she finally takes a moment. "Please hold." Odessa reaches around to grab her opposite arm and jams it back into place with a feral cry. She breathes hard for the space of two breaths and then smiles. "That's better." She's insane.

"You should be experiencing some symptoms of weakness and sluggishness," she resumes in that sugary voice. "Don't worry, those are temporary." Because what comes after is so much worse. Odessa looks to Elisabeth. "You may want to take Magnes and back up for this. I don't think you came prepped for a Gallagher show." For the last time, she turns her attention back to Samson. "Because you know what comes next, don't you?" The next three words are enunciated with the sweetest smile she can manage, with those too-wide and too-delighted eyes.




Magnes is laying on the ground, once again near death, a position that seems to follow Varlanes, as if Death itself lurks over them like a vulture.

As he lays there, unconscious, his mind races and he starts to reflect on his family.

His mother, has he ever truly met his mother? He's a clone, doesn't that mean any version of his mother is as good as his memory? What does it really mean, and can she ever acknowledge him as his son, given what he is?

His sister, Clara, he saw her once, though they didn't speak… surely she knew who he was. Will he ever have answers, closure?

And what about Felicia, the family's apparent black sheep?

Why did his father have to make such a clusterfuck of things…

If he dies here, he'll leave the family he built behind. The band, this other Elaine that he's fallen in love with, Addie, Isabelle, Elisabeth…

And then his mind shifts to that strange memory he had, the memory of a version of him he never was, living in the shoes of a Magnes that might be considered more of a person than him…

What does his life even mean?

What is he?

Death is coming again, and that's all he can truly contemplate in his unconsciousness, his own existential significance.

The entire time Odessa is speaking, Samson is clutching the wound on his head and recoiling back from Elisabeth, sputtering and coughing. He gasps for breath, wheezes, and claws at his throat with blunt nails. His eyes show horror, and the feeling of negation slips free a second later from Elisabeth and Odessa, loosening their abilities back to their minds. Samson is going through the symptoms, just as Odessa described them.

No,” is all Samson Gray manages to rasp out. No long speech cursing this oversight, no explanation of his motivations, no grand revelations. Instead, when Samson backpedals the next time, his knee buckles and he drops to the ground. First onto his other knee, then onto his back, grasping and clawing at his throat as his eyes bulge and lips part in gasping breaths. Elisabeth can now see capillaries bursting in his eyes and under his skin, legs kicking and back arching.

A whining, horrifying scream erupts from Samson as his skin first begins to look damp and sweaty, then splits like the surface of a melting candle as the collagen in his flesh starts to liquify. There is one, mournful, and rasping cry for “Gabriel,” before Samson can speak no more. His body bubbles, churns, and begins to dissolve on the floor of the studio. Cloning sinks and flattens, sopping with vital fluids, until all that is left behind of Samson Gray is a rubbery and dissolving skeleton in a viscous soup of protoplasmic soup.

Samson Gray is dead.

Pulled from the detached space by the assurance that Odessa has this, Elisabeth stares at her with wide, dilated eyes. Then she nods jerkily, releases the metal piece, and hurtles toward Magnes's prone form first. Shaking hands seek out and can't find a heartbeat and she starts chest compressions on him even as her eyes seek out the shredded, half destroyed shadow form on the wall. "Cardinal!" Her voice shakes, and there are tears gathering in her eyes while she works on saving at least one life. "Talk to me!"

Odessa's ranting at Samson Gray is more a peripheral noise now that Liz's attention is on the hurt men. Not because she's not both horrified and fascinated by what's going down over there — she is! — but because with an actual task in front of her, the urgency has penetrated the numbness and she has snapped fully back into the moment.

Breathe, goddamn you, she chants in her head as she works on Magnes, counting the breaths and compressions as she performs them. The words cherry fucking cobbler make her pause… and she scrambles to her feet to haul Magnes over toward the far wall, where tattered shadows surround her in a haunting parody of another moment in another world, resuming CPR and trying to avoid looking as the form of Samson Gray melts into a nightmarish puddle. "Cardinal!" The bark is short and sharp. "Sound off, dammit!"

A filmy tendril of darkness snaps to another, pulling a darksome patch closer to the rest; threads and torn pieces of quivering black pulling themselves slowly and painfully together, if diminished from their loss. Does the shadow heal on its own? If he were to find a way back to human form, would he be missing portions of himself?

Who knows?

“I’mmmm…” …not… dead… yet…

A whisper, thready and faint but there. Cardinal’s not at his best, but he isn’t gone.

Odessa stares down at the puddle of biological goo that used to be Samson Gray, her jaw slack. Breathless. Like she almost can’t believe that really happened, or maybe that it actually worked. Finally she starts laughing and claps her hands together three times in quick succession, signalling a giddy excitement.

“Oh, that has never been so satisfying to watch before!”

Her head tips to one side when Cardinal finally manages to let them know he’s alive. “Whoa. Nice job, Shadow Man.” Odessa has to dance back a step to avoid getting cobbler on her shoes. That’s when she remembers that there’s someone here who might actually need her help. Seeming to snap out of the madness that gripped her, she turns to where Elisabeth is trying to revive Magnes. “Shit. Okay, don’t worry. I can deal with this.” Though Liz has done just fine on her own so far. Odessa drops down to kneel on the other side of the young man, pulling back one lid to check his pupils. “C’mon, man, wake up.”

Magnes suddenly breathes as his heart starts to violently come back to life, then he looks around, groaning. "I'm going to explode in four years because time energy… I won't die in some super lame way…" he says with some strained breathing, just laying there, too disoriented to even think about if Samson is alive or not.

Cardinal and Magnes both respond and Elisabeth wilts in relief. Sinking back on her heels, her hands braced on her knees as her head drops. For a long moment, it almost looks like she's praying as she kneels there next to Magnes and Odessa. And then her head comes up and she looks at the other woman with wary blue eyes.

"Cherry fucking cobbler, huh?"

Casting a look over toward the goo that was once Samson Gray, she looks away quickly as she feels her gorge rise. Apt is the only word that comes to mind. "Where the bloody hell did you come from, Dessa?" In the confusion of this moment, she's thinking that Odessa Price must be back, because how else would she even know Elisabeth?

But the manic glee the other woman displayed is… really unnerving. And it has Liz distinctly on edge with uncertainty. If this is this world's Odessa, the three could be in some really deep shit right now.

I… think…

The slowly congealing shadows whisper, thready and barely audible, “I’ll live…

If Cardinal wasn’t willing to change back to his human shape before, though, that’s probably completely off the table now, given how much of him was burnt away by that arc of blazing lightning.

Did we… get him?

“It’s what my husband and I used to call it back in the day,” Odessa admits with a shrug, meeting Elisabeth’s gaze. The Woodses have an off-kilter sense of humor. Part of why they were drawn to each other, no doubt. She falls back to sit on the backs of her heels with a soft sigh of her own.

“I’ve been tracking him for a while now,” she admits. She isn’t necessarily ruffled by the familiarity she’s being addressed with, but there is a brief moment of mild surprise. “We were tracking you longer.” She means the travelers rather than singling out Elisabeth, but she doesn’t exactly care if that’s the implication. “That man killed my father,” she tips her head to indicate the remains of Gray. She isn’t sure if that’s true. Or if it’s true in this world. But if it happened to another version of her, then she deserves vengeance. “My work here is done.”

The assassin climbs to her feet and reaches out a hand to Elisabeth to help her do the same. “I’ve seen your world. Are you sure you really want to— ” She stops herself and shakes her head. She understands too well what it feels like to be away from home. Instead, Odessa turns to regard the shadow on the wall with a broad grin. “Oh yeah. He’s been got.” She looks down to Magnes then. “Come on. We’ve gotta get you all out of here.”

Magnes tries his best to sit himself up, feeling capable of using his ability again. He significantly lowers his weight so that he doesn't have to strain as much, looking over at Odessa. "No matter what's happened to our world, it's still our home. I can't abandon my friends, I have to bring my father to justice if no one has already, and I have a daughter there waiting for me."

He smiles, leaning on Elisabeth, which thankfully isn't really much weight at all. "I don't care if our world is literally on fire, I'll make it back there one day."

Sirens don't blare for the death here. Police will not know to come to this address to find the remains of Arthur Petrelli — or Samson Gray. Nor would the protoplasmic soup that is all that remains of the latter be if any help to them. History will know Arthur Petrelli banished as the world turned against him, and may never find his remains, whatever Samson did with them.

As Magnes feels his heart weakly beating in his chest, as Elisabeth hears its irregular rhythm, she notices a spark of green light drift off of his right shoulder — a more of flickering candlelight she has not seen in a very long time. Odessa feels it, a lull, inexorable and unmistakable. Someone who has been wound outside of time, rewound like a rubber band.

Though Magnes survived this battle, it is now clear he never survived Pinehearst Tower’s explosion. That flicker of green light made it all clear, the answer to his resurrection and the meaning behind the paper crane Kaito had given Elisabeth, one he wished her to read only in private. The shadow they had been hunted by was no monster, nothing so tangible.

Tell him to use the time he has left wisely, the message read.

The darkest shadow had been the specter of death.

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