The Way Forward, Part I


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Scene Title The Way Forward, Part I
Synopsis No matter how hard you try, you can only move forward. The way back is closed.
Date November 8, 2011

Things were moving, faster than anyone could have anticipated.

In a rush of air, Peter Petrelli appears flanked by Niki Sanders, Hiro Nakamura, and Ando Masahashi on the rooftop of the Deveaux Building. The sprawling ruins of Midtown, reclaimed by construction and repair work rolls out before them. Blue and white Maxwell Construction banners hang on nearly every building being repaired or rebuilt. Peter looks at the ruins as though they were unfamiliar, swallows noisily and looks back to the three behind him.

"Give me the list," Peter demands as he extends a hand to Hiro. A folded piece of paper is handed over, and Peter examines the names. He shakes his head, "D.L was working with the DoEA last I heard, he's out. Molly…" Peter's eyes cast to the side for a moment, "I know how to find her." Then, cracking a smile he reviews the other names. "Brian Fulk, Eileen Ruskin, Richard Cardinal…" Peter looks up to Hiro, nodding once. "That's about your standard end of the world company. Ok, I think I know where I can find most of them quick enough. We’ve already got Candice, she should hopefully be getting into position. As for the rest of these," he waves the list in his hand. "I can do this."

Hiro's usually dour expression dares to slip to a smile. "We'll wait here. But remember, we only get one shot at this."

Peter hesitates, crumples up the list in his hand and drops it to the floor. He looks to Niki, then back to Hiro. "Oh, I know." Then, in a rush of displaced air, Peter disappears from sight.

Hiro's brows furrow, eyes cast to the side, and he looks over at Niki, then to Ando.


Dorchester Towers

Matt Parkman's Apartment

Music pumps and slams in heavy beats through a well-furnished apartment. The windows rattle from the bass, a microwave in the kitchen pop-pops with popcorn, the rhythm of which is lost over the roaring noise of the sugary beat.

They call me 'quiet girl'

Bobbing brown locks belonging to Molly Walker bounce and swish with the beat. Socked feet skip-hop across the floor, eyes closed and stolen with the rhythm of the song. She snaps her fingers, sound unheard from the level of the volume. Matt would never let her listen to music this loud if he was home.

But I'm a riot Mary, Jo, Lisa

Dancing her way over to the kitchen, Molly spins on one heel, kicks out a hip, and snaps both fingers in the air. One leg kicks back, swings forward, and she pivots on a toe. Shuffling footsteps bring her closer to the microwave, and with a pop of the heel of her hand she knocks the door open, snatching the microwave popcorn bag out with two fingers.

Always the same

Ow, ow, ow, hot Molly mouths as she juggles the bag from one hand to the next, then tugs at the corners and opens it. Popcorn for lunch isn't entirely unreasonable, she presumes. Popcorn is a vegetable and she's an adult and can do what she wants. Which includes eating straight out of the bag. Horses do that — eat straight out of a bag — and horses aren't bad, right?

That's not my na—

The music turns off, sharply. When Molly's eyes open there's a darkly-dressed and familiarly scarred figure standing in the middle of her living room. Black hair is swept back behind his head, lips downturned into a frown. Matt Parkman is nothing if not predictable and a creature of habit. The fact that he keeps the same Dorchester Towers apartment he had when Cat lived here, when Peter spent much of his time with Cat, is what he'd counted on.

"Molly," Peter cracks a smile. "Wanna come break some rules?"

Pollepel Outskirts

Pollepel Island, New York


Two logs tumble down off an old stump, and with a twist of his wrist Nick Ruskin tugs an axe from where it was lodged in the stump's surface. Wiping sweat away from his brow, he looks over to the stack of firewood laying nearby. After driving his axe into the dirt, he bends down and picks up the split logs and tosses them onto the pile.


This isn't the kind of work Nick usually does, but with the majority of the Ferrymen holed up on Pollepel Island, they're going to need more firewood than ever. With nearly all of the Ferry's operations teams away on activities, it falls to the unusual suspects to handle some of the heavy lifting. Nick lines up another log, picks up the axe, and them brings it down with a single swing that splits the wood.


Somewhere between wind up and swing, Peter Petrelli appeared out of thin air like a fucking ghost in front of Nick. His hands are folded behind his back, head down and brows furrowed. When he looks up, it isn't so much Peter that Nick sees in his expression, but an inexorable part of Kazimir Volken that is the collection of all his memories and thoughts still clinging to Peter's mind, expressed in subtle posture cues and clothing's color palette.

"Nick," Peter purses his lips, "where the hell is everyone?"

Ruins of Redbird Security Solutions

Battery Park City, New York

"Oh— what the fuck!?"

Standing on the sidewalk in front of the rubble that was once the Redbird Security Solutions building, Peter Petrelli smooths a hand over his dark hair. Cursing under his breath, he paces back and forth for a moment, looking askance to a stray dog walking across the street. Then to a homeless man and woman bundled up against the crisp autumn air under a ratty blanket, then down the street to a security checkpoint. Peter's lips purse into a thin line, and he withdraws a phone from his pocket.

Pressing one button, he waits. Then, "Molly," Peter strains the name. "This is rubble. You sent me to rubble. Also, you didn't send me to Eileen you sent me to her brother." There's a pause at Peter waits for the girl on the other end, then he pulls the phone away from his ear and winces. "Mo— Molly— " Peter closes the phone and brings gloved fingers to his brow.

"Ok, Petrelli…" Peter breathes in deeply, then exhales a slow and steady breath. "What the hell is going o — "

"Mister Petrelli?" Peter whips around at the small voice, eyes wide and one hand out, ready to defend himself. But then, there's just a small blonde woman in a winter jacket standing on the curb in front of the Redbird building with one cardboard box containing exactly two cups of coffee, and a sealed envelope marked "Peter" on one side.

Confusion crosses Peter's face, and as he approaches the young woman he looks around, up and down the street. "Who… are you?" She inclines her head, takes one coffee for herself and proffers out the other to Peter.

"Valerie Ray," the blonde explains with a hesitant smile, waiting for Peter to take his coffee and envelope. "You might be familiar with my father, Edward?" She looks to the envelope, then back up to Peter. "This was delivered to me this morning, and I was told to bring it here, and wait for a man named Peter Petrelli with a scar."

Peter's blood runs cold. He eyes the letter as though it were a knife pointed at his throat. Edward Ray had children? He clears the distance, plucks the envelope up first and tears it open. Inside is a Hallmark Card with a picture of a sun on one side. Someone has colored in part of the sun with a black marker to resemble an eclipse. Peter looks up, briefly, to Valerie, then opens the card.

Wishing you a sunny recovery the pre-printed text on the card explains, but it's been crossed out by the same marker. Below, someone has scrawled a message in ball-point pen.

Peter, I know we didn't have a very healthy relationship, and the last time we saw one-another was likely very strained. But there's some things that require an active relationship, and some things that require a hands-off approach. On November 8th, 2011 a solar flare will strike the earth, disrupting electromagnetic signals used in telecommunications. A nuisance. But to you, debilitating. Miss Walker's ability

Peter looks up from the card, and Valerie is just contentedly sipping her coffee. He squints, and looks down again.

will be disrupted by this event, and her ability to locate others will unfortunately be scrambled. Regardless, Richard is no doubt indisposed by now. In his stead, I've sent you someone with a complimentary skill. Her name is Valerie and she is precious to me. Don't make me regret this. — Edward Ray

Peter closes the card and tucks it into his pocket, then looks up and down the street again before stepping forward and retrieving the coffee. With a grimace, he looks from it to Valerie. "So…" Peter's brows furrow, expression softening some.

"Does he just do this to everybody?"

Bannerman's Castle

Pollepel Island

Slowly drawing in a tense breath, Peter scrubs one hand over his forehead. "Look, Brian," a gloved hand curls closed, and Peter closes his eyes and draws in a sharp breath, then exhales slowly. "I wouldn't come here if this wasn't important. There's a Hiro Nakamura from the past who isn't supposed to be here." Peter's expression shifts into one of desperation. "Homeland Security has him at a detention center in Midtown."

Dark eyes flick to Samara, standing beside Brian. "I just need your help for an hour, maybe less. I need someone who can get eyes inside of the compound, and everyone is busy." Peter looks back to Brian, "I can keep her safe, or — if you can spare a double, come with us. You're the one I came here for, but Bennet had files on her ability."

"She'll be safe, I promise."

Deveaux Building Roof

Midtown Manhattan

It's taken nearly an hour to gather everyone necessary, but from here on the Deveaux Building rooftop it feels like longer. Hiro Nakamura and Peter Petrelli stand with their backs to the circular stone decoration at the roof's edge, where one sculpted cherub faces toward those gathered on the roof, and another out to the ruins beyond.

"Homeland Security has captured… me," Hiro explains, brows furrowed at the explanation. "A version of myself from five years in the past. A version of myself who— "

"Who doesn't deserve this," Peter interjects over Hiro, giving his old friend a mildly warning look. "We don't know what'll happen if something happens to this Hiro. Nobody's ever come from the past before, we've never had to deal with the possibilities. But we've traveled ahead, our friends, our families. We've seen visions of the future, and every time it's the same story. We lose. It gets worse."

Seeing where Peter's going with this, Hiro steps back into the conversation. "We might be able to make a difference here. Now." Hiro looks over to Niki, then to Peter. "So, we're going to rescue him. We're going to give the past hope, and see what a difference that can make."

Peter looks over to the ruins. "That building," he points to the south end of Manhattan, opposite of where a crowd is gathering for the memorial ceremony behind him. "Is the DHS Battery Park City holding facility. This isn't a raid, we're not busting everyone out or blowing the building." Peter looks back to the others. "I just need you all to provide a distraction and draw attention away from us."

Hiro nods, looking to the handful of people gathered. "Ando, Peter and I will go find my past self. Niki, Samara, Valerie, Nick and Molly…" Hiro motions over to the building. "DHS has a negator in the facility who is going to lock down most of our abilities once we're inside, which means those of you with abilities need to be careful of your proximity."

"We need to draw as many security teams outside as possible. We expect some will hunker down inside, but Hiro and I won't be able to fight them all off. If we're going to do this, it's going to count on you all." Peter looks over to Samara.

"Samara, once we get the negator down, I'm going to need you to go into the building and go floor to floor, looking for where they have Hiro." Reaching up to his ear, Peter taps a small earpiece. "We'll stay in contact via radio, but we can't have too much chatter. I'll call back when the negator is down and then Samara, that'll be your cue."

"Molly," Hiro offers her a look. "Given how unreliable your ability is right now, we've got a different task for you. We know Matt is in that building, he was there when my safehouse was raided and my younger self was captured. You're the only person he'll listen to. Stay out of harm's way, and try and get through to him. Call him, whatever it takes. If you have to get into the building, take Nick with you for backup."

"Nick," Peter inclines his head. "You're field-fire. If someone needs to go into the building, you're backup. Otherwise, out on the street and draw fire. I know it's not— ideal— but nothing about this is."

"Valerie," Hiro motions to the youngest Ray. "You're on diversions. Use your ability to distract and lure the guards, keep them guessing as to what's real and what's not. Don't take any unnecessary risks, okay?"

"Niki," Peter's expression tenses, brows furrowed and scar creased. "You're our heavy firepower. You need to take the heat off of everyone else and, you know," he cracks a smile, "literally put the heat on the security teams." Shifting his weight to one foot, Peter looks over to Hiro.

"There's a big risk here. We'll be close by to where the memorial is happening. FRONTLINE-01 will be there, and if they roll up on scene, you need to get out. We have a backup who is moving into place to cover your escape, her name is Candice. She'll be able to hide your retreat, one way or another. Just call for her over the radio when you're ready to withdraw."

"We can't take too long," Peter explains, "we're in and we're out. The longer we delay there the worse it's going to get." Looking to Hiro, Peter waits to see if his friend has any further information. Hiro shakes his head, and Peter turns to the others gathered.

"Any questions?"

“Just one.” Niki slowly leans to one side to get a better look at what they’re dealing with out there. She studies the skyline and the squints as though she can bring the DHS building into better focus through force of will alone. Yeah, this is a reasonable request.

“Do you have time to go get my sniper rifle out of the trunk?”

Before she can catch a look, she’s staring him down, half sheepish and half wolfish. “What? We left in a hurry!”

The taller blonde gets a smile as she asks for her rifle, seeming to find the sheepish addition funny, before she turns to the Japanese man. Who she never actually met. Officially.

Valerie just knows he was there for a second when her sister snatched her out of Grand Central Station just as the bomb went off. “I wouldn’t be here if not for you, Mister Hiro. We’ll save your younger self. I promise.” Valerie says with a confident smile at the group, whose only member she recognizes is Samara. And then only a little. Either way, she sounds ready to save the world. Kaylee would try, Cardinal would try. She’s sure even Warren would give it a go if they weren’t all already busy saving the world somewhere else.

Now it’s her turn to return the favor!

The blonde girl has confidence, from the looks of things. If her father put her on this path, it had to be for a reason.

“I’ll be safest up here, probably,” she comments, looking around the cold rooftop. She’s bundled up in her heavy coat, with a beanie covering her head and tips of her ears. Always dress appropriately, especially when one happens to get sick easily. “I’ll be able to project from up here, run them around in circles or get them outside without ever moving.” No unnecessary risk. Unless it becomes necessary.

She used to go on walks in the city when bedridden or told to stay at home. This isn’t even that difficult for her. Though she has no idea what negation might do to it— perhaps she’ll just have to be prepared to move her tether quickly.

“I mean if he really listened to me, then we would be in Thailand right now playing with the monkeys!” Molly Walker snaps back at Peter with that laser quick teenage wit and a grin.

“Ima have to lie real good.”

“Also, is it like possible to save me from being grounded by my dad?” Molly pipes up with a hand in the air waving, “Momo cuts me slack but Matt he just.” Shaking her head, “He can be a dumb.” But she loves him! He's her hero!

Miss Walker gives Peter and Hiro a look, hand on her hip. Brown locks braided and falling down her back. Baby blue eyes scan the rooftop and its occupants. Niki is given a smile and a wave and the others a nod. Her dark winter puff coat keeps her warm, a pair of deep purple ear muffs cover her ears and her dark brown boots crunch the debris on the roof’s floor.

Being called on upon by Peter and Hiro is like way cooler than eating popcorn and listening to the Ting Tings. Not to mention HELLOOOOOO SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO HOMEWORK TONIGHT! The prospect of getting into trouble is thrilling for the teen. Giving Nick Ruskin a look up and down she quirks an eyebrow, “What's his special power Peter?” The ability to make you drown in his deep dark eyes. Molly is swooning inside.

So cute!

The Brit is quiet, glancing from face to face, looking just a little out of his element — in more ways than one. Nick York, aka Nick Ruskin, gives Niki a glance or two, because she looks a lot like someone he does know, but aside from the Pollepel Island contingent, and the briefest of rescues by Hiro (but not this Hiro), most of these people are strangers to him.

“Not ideal, he says,” he repeats, to no one in particular, one corner of his lip curling in a cynical sort of smirk. The amusement doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

Molly’s words about getting grounded draws his eyes her way and he looks back to Peter with a look that clearly reads,are you fucking kidding me?

He’s definitely a Ruskin.

Just the wrong Ruskin. And without an ability, he’s left to … draw fire?

Nick’s not a Star Trek fan, but if he was, he’d have double checked his shirt to see if it was red.

(It’s not. It’s a gray henley, under his black peacoat, for those who care about his sartorial choices.)

The teen’s question about his ability makes him huff a short little laugh. “Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, kid.”

Samara scans each of the faces in turn while her arms instinctively find their way to her chest, folding comfortably while she listens to the plan. And then Peter is asking if anyone has questions. Niki’s question merits a lift of her eyebrows. “That… seems like a pretty important thing to take a pause for,” her eyes narrow slightly and then she shrugs. Not her operation. Just necessary to find Hiro Nakamura.

And then Molly talks about being grounded and she squints. And while Nick’s expression speaks volume’s Sam’s melts. “When I find Hiro, I radio everyone,” fingertips lift to the earpiece, and… wait? Do you want me to try to phase him out? I did that with Amid,” silently she rubs her jacket sleeve.

Peter’s eyes widen at Samara, he’s knocked off his focus for a moment. Lips part, brows furrow, “Amid Halebi?

“We don’t have time for that,” Hiro interjects without even the slightest hint of irony. Not even a little. Even Ando squints. “Yes,” Hiro answers Samara. “If you can extract— me, safely, do it. But there will be a negator in the building, and while he might not be able to shut you down if he doesn’t notice you, there’s a chance you could get caught. I can’t ask you to take that risk,” though Hiro’s brows furrow. “But if you so choose… I can’t stop you.”

Still exasperated, Peter looks at Hiro and then Samara, jaw set and tense. He slides his tongue across his teeth, looks pointedly at Hiro, then backs down from the topic. “Molly,” Peter’s eyes close and he brings one hand up to his forehead. “Please,” eyes slowly open, level on the youngest gathered. “Please, stay safe.” Dark eyes upturn to Niki, and Peter walks over to where she’s standing.

Hiro,” Ando quietly asides while Peter is talking. “Isn’t— aren’t some of these people— really young? I— “ Hiro levels a look at Ando, measured and patient but also somewhat exasperated. He closes his eyes and shakes his head, then disappears in a rush of displaced air, only to reappear next to Niki, holding her sniper rifle in one hand.

Doitashimashite,” Hiro says with a self-confident smirk.

“Alright,” Peter says with an unsteady voice. “I’m going to bring you all down to the street — Valerie excluded. Hiro, you take Ando, and we’ll meet back up inside.” Peter looks to the others, one brow raised to make certain they’re ready to do this.

As Ando’s speaking to Hiro, Niki is squinting at Peter, speaking to him in a harsh whisper for his ears only. “These are kids. What are we doing?” She glances back to the assembled group, eyes lingering on Nick for a moment.

He can stay.

When her Winchester is brought to her, Niki smiles a sort of contented smile. Like she’s complete again. She takes it and nods her head gratefully. “Arigato.” It’s about the only word she knows in the man’s language, and her accent is woefully American, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

With a sigh, and without making Peter argue with her, she shakes her head and lets it go. They don’t have a lot of options here. They don’t have the time, even if Hiro Nakamura is standing right in front of them. Slinging the strap of her rifle around her shoulders so the weapon can rest at her back, she nods after a deep breath and a moment with her eyes closed.

“Let’s go be heroes.”

Not a kid!

Valerie may be short, but she is almost nineteen now! Well, five months away, but halfway there. This was the day she was supposed to die, five years ago. Only fitting she help save the man who made that never happen. At the instructions, she nods her head in agreement and goes to find a place to sit on the cold concrete, getting herself comfortable as her eyes close. Niki barely finishes he words before there’s suddenly a second Valerie standing there, dressed almost exactly the same, but with goggles on, for some reason.

“Ready for action.” The illusion almost looks real, until they study it. The hair doesn’t move right with the wind, her breath doesn’t give off mist, her shadow’s slightly wrong. But they can all see and hear her as she “stands” there. “I’ll be with you when you jump,” she adds, so they don't think they need to wait for her, or carry her along. To start she’s attached herself to the older blonde, since she seems to be the trusted second of Mister Petrelli.

“That's probably dad’s friend the Haitian.” Molly pipes up and nods at the others before blushing at Nick’s words. “Are you sure you're in the wrong place because…” the clairvoyant’s eyes light up. He is so cute! Then Peter is asking her to be safe and she's nodding, “I promise Peter. No danger.” Though inside she wonders if she could get her hands on a taser.

As Valerie makes herself double and Mister Hiro vanishes and reappears with a rifle Molly’s jaw drops, “Ahhh soo cool.” It reminds her of her time spent with the Lighthouse kids. A now distant memory since reuniting with Matt and Mohinder. A look is given to everyone assembled and she looks sheepish.

“Matt- my dad… can be a little tough. If you see him..” she's not sure how to tell them to protect themselves from her father's ability. “Be careful.”

Nick glances to Ando when the other man registers the complaint that the assembled avengers look just a bit too young. He takes a step closer to the grown-ups’ side, a little farther away from Molly who’s eyeing him like he’s some teen pop star on Tiger Beat in the 1980s.

“Are we time traveling there,” his eyes move to Hiro, then Valerie as she holds on to her other self, “or teleportin’ or…?” he asks, looking around a little confused. They really didn’t get that much of a briefing. And while he may have an Interpol badge, he’s mostly been undercover and intelligence gathering.

And the last job he had, he almost got blown up, thanks to a certain Irishman.

Amid’s full-name causes Sami to stare incredulously at Peter, “How do you know Amid?” because that’s an odd connection. Or maybe it’s not all that odd. Evolved circles seem weirdly small and insular. Everyone with an ability is oddly connected to everyone else— though she’ll reflect on more later.

Hiro gets a crisp nod. “If I can get you out, I will. It might not be perfect,” in fact, it’s likely to be far from, it’s in her nature to take risks, “but I’ll do what I can to keep both of us safe.” She does have a baby to get back to. Her lips press into a tight thin line, “I’ll use my judgment.” Which may be woefully lacking despite not being a kid.

She outright scowls at the notion of being called a kid. She’s well into her twenties now — at the ripe old age of 21 — despite losing four years where she believed she was dead. Yeah, her judgment really may be in question.

Peter eyes Niki, brows furrowed in that mixed regret-uncertainty look of it’s too late for that now. When Samara asks about Halebi, Peter looks aside and seems troubled. “I… ran into him, he was being — I don’t know, moved? I —” he can’t tell her his role, not without breaking all the levels of trust he needs right now. “The Institute got him, last I saw. I’m sorry.” Briefly, Peter’s dark eyes track to Niki, then away.

Peter’s arm is grabbed in one of Niki’s vice grips. It’s not as bad as it would have been before her ability was changed, but it’s still insistent, demanding. “I love you.” All tense jaw and tight-line mouth, it’s the first time she’s ever put it into words. “Don’t die,” she orders before releasing him.

Moving next to Nick, Hiro cracks a smile and lays a hand on his shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze. “It will probably blow your mind to know,” he begins with a faint smile, “there’s no difference.”

And then they’re gone.

DHS Holding Facility

Battery Park City, Manhattan

The noise of traffic suddenly fills the air. Tall buildings form canyons of glass and steel from ground to sky. Accompanied by two brief rushes of air as Hiro deposits his passengers and immediately departs with a firm nod. Niki, Samara, Molly, and Nick reappear in a side street between two massive skyscrapers. The street is overflowing with garbage bags, packed high onto the curb from the waste disposal strike going on in southern Manhattan. A moment later, Valerie’s illusory phantom flickers back into being beside Niki, whom it is anchored to.

Pedestrians passing by on the street are unaware of the small group’s arrival. Yellow cabs, cars, busses, and all other dense mid-day New York traffic flows by. What Peter has asked them to do, without spelling it out, puts everyone on these streets in danger. Puts everyone involved in the spotlight in ways that may not have been immediately obvious. Cameras on every street corner surveil Manhattan, and will bear witness to what is to come.

Across the multiple lanes of traffic, a massive building rises up into view the color of sea glass. Flags fly out front, but no sign clearly indicates that it is a DHS Holding facility, but it is without a doubt the target. A line of black cars are parked out front, and most worryingly one nearly windowless white van with a boxy, armored build. An Institute retrieval van. But there were risks taking an opportunity this bold head-on. Risks that everyone would need to take.

It won’t be long now before the fighting starts inside.

It’s time to move.

I am never going to get used to that. The change in surroundings is jarring, but not unexpected. Niki has to take a moment to acclimate herself, a glance around at the swarm of activity that hasn’t seemed to notice their presence just yet. Which is just as well, considering the rifle on her back makes it pretty obvious they’re not here to sell Girl Scout Cookies.

“All right. Let’s get this party started.” Peter wants a distraction, and she’s going to deliver. Niki looks both ways before marching into traffic with purpose. Cars have to slam on their brakes to avoid her, and she doesn’t even bother to look over to make sure she isn’t about to get flattened by a truck. With fewer civilian targets in the way now, she swings her rifle around, aims it carelessly without the aid of her scope, and fires at the front window of the Institute retrieval van. That should get someone’s attention in short order.

As they move, Valerie’s projection gets pulled with them, reappearing beside Niki as they appear below. Despite her decision to cover her face with a set of goggles, she doesn’t actually need to worry about the cameras seeing her. Her telepathic form has never been caught by machines, only meant for human minds. Those on the street with them can see her, but the cameras don’t pick her up.

“Wow.” Niki’s job was to put the heat on, Valerie’s was diversion. They aren’t inside yet, but she can at least help with scaring the populace away. To help add to the panic, she makes her projection float upward, arms spreading in a ‘oh no I’m going to do something terrible run away’ gesture. “Get out of here now!” she yells, her voice sounding just like hers, but those present can hear her. No one will be getting her on camera or recording today.

She looks past the street, toward the building that was indicated, and waits for someone to come into view so she can swap tethers. As soon as she catches sight of someone inside, she vanishes.

Suddenly she’s inside.

“Hi.” She says to the first guard she sees, before she runs away down the halls, trying to draw attention to her. Her projection has nothing to fear, cause it’s not physically there— but she might be wishing she could cover her ears in a minute.

“Whoa.. cool.” The clairvoyant whispers as they reappear on the street. She huddles over close to Nick and watches as Valerie disappears inside. These people are awesome. A wary look given to the cameras she can't help but think about all he trouble she's gonna get into. A look is thrown Nick’s way as Molly digs in her pocket to pull out a cellphone. Dialing the number that connects her to her father's direct line she nibbles at the corner of her mouth.


“If he doesn't answer what do we do?” Molly whispers to Nick looking worried. This is exciting but this is also very scary like.. her dad is powerful and all but could he save her from punishment for this?

Nick has the foresight to put a pair of sunglasses on — with the tuque he wears, the two will at least obscure most of his face. Enough for plausible deniability, if he ever wants to work again. “Holy shit,” he says, when Niki suddenly shoots at the van, his own sidearm getting drawn. He looks around, and puts a hand on Molly’s shoulder to move her — gingerly — to where a periwinkle catering van is parked at the curb. It’ll serve as a little bit of cover at least.

He has a feeling if Molly gets injured, he’ll get blamed, even if it’s not his fault.

“That bloke said if we have to go inside, we go inside. Let’s hope he answers, yeah, li’l bit?” He moves in front of her, gun poised and ready to shoot once the answer to Niki’s threat comes. It won’t take long.

The quick change to elsewhere causes Samara’s eyes to widen. Hazel scans the setting and her stomach forms a knot. She hasn’t been here since before she thought she died. She swallows around the growing lump in her throat. And gives a little shake, aiming to shake it off.

It’s a moment before hazel eyes follow Niki’s efforts and trail to the building in question. But she’s to wait for the signal. When Nick grabs Molly, Sam traipses after. “I can keep her safe until I have to go in,” she levels towards him with a small tick of her lips. “Honestly, I can keep her safe.” Not that Nick would know that.

When Niki’s rifle round hits the van window it flattens and spiderwebs the glass, but doesn't penetrate. It does, however, get attention. A shocked driver hops out and circles around the front of the van, dressed in little more than a black windbreaker and ball cap. “What the fuck,” Niki can hear him say as he looks at the impact. The driver pivots, looks back over his shoulder and sees Niki striding through traffic.

“Oh— oh shit! Oh shit oh fuck!” The Institute driver scrambles, heels of his shoes slip on the asphalt and he nearly falls, grabbing the side mirror for support. He slams a hand on the side of the van. “Out out out!!”

In the lobby, a panicked security guard leaps out of his chair when Valerie appears inside. Just a moment later, deeper into the building, she hears the muffled pops of gunfire and screams. The security guard slaps a button under the desk, and a loud alarm begins blaring inside and out on the street. Every employee in the lobby begins to scramble, fleeing from the girl who appeared out of nowhere.

Outside the building, Niki can see government employees fleeing out of the front entrance. Cars are laying on their horns, people — until they see the gun — are shouting. Police will likely be here shortly.

Across the street from the building, the alarm is jarringly audible as it echoes off of the other buildings. Behind Nick, Molly can hear the phone repeatedly ringing. Then, finally, “Hi you've reached Matthew Parkman. I'm unavailable at the moment. If you leave a brief message and your return number I'll get back to you as soon as possible.”


That did the trick. Niki takes aim one more time and blows the side mirror off the vehicle with an ease that comes from years of familiarity with one’s firearm. At this distance, she doesn’t need the scope to aim true. Then, she waves, a lift of a hand and wiggle of fingers. Hi~

As people rush out of the building, she lets them run past her like river water parting around a stone. Sanders fights against the current, making her way inside. It’s safer for the uninvolved if they keep the fighting to the lobby of the building. Make security and the police come to her. Her rifle is slung around her back again. The faint shimmer in the air around her hands means that she isn’t going in unarmed, however.

«Party’s in full swing. Go get ‘em, tiger.»

The loud alarm makes her very much wish that she could cover her ears, but unfortunately, Valerie is incapable of it. She hears every screeching noise, every high pitched whorl. It causes her to shift around, sliding through a wall, until she rights herself. She can feel the strain it’s already causing on her body, but she chooses to ignore it. Dad wanted her to help, so she’s going to. Her brothers and sister were fighting hard somewhere, to save the world.

It was her turn.

The next person she sees gets a goggled smile and she asks, “Which direction is your secret weapons lab? Is it that way?” She points in a random direction. She’s has no idea if they have a secret weapons lab, she just wants people to be looking for her. She wants as many eyes as possible on the person who isn’t actually there, so less are on those who are.

“Shit- uh HI DAD!”

Molly was sure he was gonna answer her brain scrambling for a worthy excuse that maybe just maybe if Matt checks his phone he will distracted and immediately try to find her.. she knows she is gonna get in so so much trouble for this.


The lie is screamed with utter terror and Molly closes her eyes as she screams a blood curdling scream and then ends the call mid scream at the same time stopping her scream. She peeks a look at Nick. Little Bit? The nickname makes her cheeks flush and she looks to the ground. “Your accent is so awesome.” She says as she looks down at her phone and tries to dial again with a look of worry. What if Matt is already hurt? Or worst?

That's all it takes for Molly to look toward Nick and beckon him as she speeds forward towards the building. “Come on! I know where he usually is!” Molly and Matt Jr. had taken numerous trips to visit their father at work. Not all the time but enough where she remembers without the need of her ability. “I am so sorry Dad..”

Nick’s eyes fall on Samara when she speaks — he’s seen her at the island and knows she’s a new mum, which doesn’t make him feel any easier about her looking after Molly. He gives a nod, though, reaching for her arm to pull her back behind him behind the periwinkle van they’re using for cover.

“Just be ready to go when they need you. I’ll cover you, unless the half pint and me are already on our way in,” he says, glancing at Molly as she listens to the phone ring and then the outgoing message, tinnily audible through the phone’s small speakers. Of course Parkman’s not picking up — life is never that easy.

His eyes widen as she screams that Sylar is here — with his sunglasses and ski cap pulled low on his face, Nick could possibly pass for the man (his eyebrows are obscured); that and she’s screaming stranger danger, and alerting their whereabouts to everyone in the area.

“Jesus,” he intones to Samara. “Can you look after me?” Because he’s pretty sure he’s going to be the one who ends up shot today.

And then Molly’s moving. “Stay close to the building, go in when you get the signal,” he says over his shoulder to Samara. She doesn’t have to watch Molly, after all.

Samara intones quietly, “Yeah, I’m close enough to be able to get in quickly — and I’ve been running lately,” the latter of which Nick probably doesn’t need to know, but her point is she’s not slow — the situation necessitates it.

Chaos befalls the block and Sami stays close to the kid as it does, fully prepared to phase out if necessary. And then Molly starts yelling into the phone about Sylar and she stares at Nick. Outright _stares_ at Nick. And despite the concerns about the child in this operation, Sami’s eyes reflect incredibly worry for _Nick_ at the moment. “God knows you need it!” she mutters back as the pair disembark to enter the building.

Hazel eyes train on the building while Sam slides away from the van, now moving towards the side of the building, away from the entrance and commotion, seeking a dumpster to use as cover, ready to slip through the building when she gets the signal.

Armed security are already spilling into the lobby as Niki enters, catching sight of Valeria’s illusory form creating a commotion among the panicking government personnel. On Niki’s entrance, people are scrambling away from the door, running down rear corridors, fleeing into elevators, ducking behind desks.

The five black-clad security officers do not hesitate as they spill into the lobby, beginning to open fire. Dozens of rounds of bullets harmlessly pass through Valerie, shredding the countertop behind her in splintering shards of wood and glass. The more corporeal Niki has smartly taken cover behind a white concrete column, bullets ricochet off of the heavy stone, chipping away in flecks and shards.

Outside, as Samara creeps up along the side of the building the noise of screams and sirens reverberates through the neighborhood, bouncing off of buildings and wailing down side streets. Then, just as Nick and Molly are closing in on the building and getting into position — they get the signal Peter was talking about.

Every single window on the second and third floors explode in a shower of glass and fire. The ground shakes, flaming debris of furniture, burning scraps of paper, twisted pieces of metal, and a shower of glass rain down on the street below. Inside the lobby, the entire DHS facility shakes violently and the interior lights flicker from the shockwave of the explosion. The five security team members in the lobby begin to fan out, likewise using the tall white pillars as cover.

Back out on the street, different sirens are blaring. Blue lights are flashing in the distance, and a trail of five NYPD cruisers are closing in on the building, trying to navigate the dense Manhattan traffic.

Niki winces slightly as concrete bursts near her head, but her cover holds. Waiting until there’s a break in the rhythm of gunfire, she drops into a crouch, then ducks out and points her hands in the direction of the nearest guard and their cover, emitting a cone of microwave energy. Her intent isn’t to cook anyone alive (yet), but to put the heat on and flush targets out of cover.

The building shakes and Niki pushes herself back behind the pillar as she waits for the vibration to stop. Waits to see if the floor might collapse over their heads. Government buildings tend to withstand an awful lot of damage these days, however, and the sky does not begin to fall. “That’s one hell of a signal,” she mutters under her breath.

The sounds of sirens are not lost on the blonde woman. In a few minutes, her own routes of escape are about to be eliminated. Well, it’s not the worst scenario she’s been trapped in. Probably.

The bullets don’t even seem to register on the projection, sliding right through and not stopping it as it spins and continues to move. Only the noise reverberating through the walls causes any kind of shimmer in the form, though they won’t know that’s the reason, likely. Valerie strains to hold it together during the rumble of explosion, the alarm and the gunshots, not noticing the tingling in her skin on the rooftop in the cold, as her nervous system reacts to her power strain.

Ignoring her body telling her to slow down, she focuses on the form she’s projecting and switches tethers again, moving her projection to another part of the hallway instantly before ducking through a wall and into another room. Draw as much attention off the entrance as possible, make them think she’s after something— preferably something far away from their actual target. But since they don’t exactly know where the young Hiro Nakamura is, she has to just run around and hope that she’s leading them astray.

“Is this where they make the robots?” she asks someone randomly in the room, with a fearless smile on her face. Fearless, because she’s not there to fear, but also because, well, she imagines they’ll think they have a crazy Evolved in the building. One that can’t be shot, one that seemingly disappears and reappears somewhere else. One who’s actually floating a little cause she keeps forgetting to project her feet going up and down.

What could be more scary?

Amongst the chaos of people fleeing the building through the lobby and the five team death squad. Molly is feeling pretty nervous but she keeps running anyway flanked by Nick who may or may not be getting shot after this is all said and done. Her father doesn't answer her second call though and she shoves her phone in her coat pocket arms pumping at her sides her hair flying in the wind.

Must get to Daddy

“Whoa!” She cries as the glass implodes from the upper floors of the building. Her brow tenses in worry. With a look to Nick she nods ahead. He can go ahead now. She takes a moment to concentrate. Casting her thoughts like she had learned to do with her father.


“Make sure I don’t accidentally shoot your father or anyone else we’re supposed to be saving, all right, kid?” Nick says, because really, who are these people?

He instinctively ducks, a hand going up to cover his head, when the windows are blown out by the blast. He waits a second to ensure there’s not a second explosion, glancing at Molly to make sure the kid wonder is okay. When she nods, he shakes his head in a bit of wonder himself, before heading forward. Draw fire. Cover Molly. “Stay outside until I give you a signal,” he tells her over his shoulder.

With that, he swings open the door, shooting at anything security-guard shaped and not Niki shaped, as he too moves to one of the pillars to take up shelter behind it. He’ll signal Molly once the security team is out of commission — either out of bullets or otherwise.

The explosion from the second and third floors prompts Sami to duck, but, ironically, as more of a reaction that a purposive thing, she phases, ghosting out so none of the debris manages to hit her. She smirks as she becomes solid again, it’s a wonder learning to control, but the instinctive nature of turning incorporeal without her will merits a tick of a smile. Adrenaline really is a wonder drug.

She adjusts the receiver in her ear. She’s supposed to wait for the negator to be taken out, but with a quick glance about, she turns incorporeal, splitting into a million little pieces as she scales an invisible set of stairs no one can see— a talent used at length in her ghost days. She’s moving into position, preparing herself to enter that second story when given the word to do so.

As Samara winds her way upward on a phantasmal staircase, police response builds on the adjoining streets. Molly, the last one outside of the building, hears a whump clunk from behind herself, and turns to see the rear hatch of the Institute van swinging open. Stepping out from within are a pair of men in white NBC suits with black respirator masks. Canisters of negation gas dangle at their belts, and assault rifles are trained on the young woman. «Get down on the ground!» One of the Institute Retrievers screams through his respirator, «I will fire if you do not comply!»

Flaming pieces of paper fall from the sky, burning remnants of the signal. As Samara reaches the second floor, she sees a demolished lobby through the blown out windows. Charred bodies lay in a circle in the middle of the floor over a seal of the Department of Homeland Security. Fire snaps and cracks through the demolished floor, and not a single soul moves.

Below, in the ground floor lobby, DHS security response officers throw themselves out from behind cover as the burning wave of microwave energy explodes around them. Their screams fill the hall, even as Valerie zips off in a wild diversion. Everywhere she goes, people are screaming and ducking for cover, as though the phantom girl would — in merely a moment — turn on them like some sort of poltergeist.

Then there’s gunfire behind Niki. Five gunshots ring out, and Nick comes barreling in through the door, his handgun’s noisy report a firm greeting. DHS officers crumple under the gunfire, unable to use the cover to their advantage and not having had the time to put on heavy body armor. Two remain, hunkered down outside of that first sweep of radiation. One of them unclips something from his belt, and Niki watches as a flashbang comes rolling to her feet and —

The sprinklers overhead start spraying down on the lobby due to the heat Niki’s just been putting out. The woman pushes water away from her brow and glances out from behind her cover to see where her remaining targets are. That’s when she hears the clunk! of the flashbang hitting the floor, and the hollow metallic sound as it rolls toward her.


She dives, hands pressed over her ears and eyes shut tightly to protect herself from the effects of the blast. A piece of shrapnel strikes her in the side, she feels it even as she goes tumbling across the floor, the water soaking into her jacket. Or maybe it’s blood?

Niki feels it, but then she doesn’t. A quick pat down reveals no damage. Her ears are ringing and her vision is all but non-existent. In her reflection on the floor are two identical blondes. One with wavy hair is held in the arms of another with a hardened expression. Blood pours from the younger-looking woman’s side and her breathing is labored.

Gina took the blow this time.

Niki doesn’t have time to be rattled by watching a part of herself die there on the floor. Instead, she’s back on her feet and — “To hell with you!” — firing off waves of energy toward the remaining security guards.

Sorry, sorry.

Valerie would probably be apologizing to the screaming people if she wasn’t trying her darndest to get as many eyes on her as possible. Slipping through walls and doors, floating through walls and hallways. Every so often she stops to ask a question even though they scream at her. “Does this place have a basement?”

As far as she knows, Samara is going up— she wants to make people come down. Go away from the other woman who’s supposed to find the young time traveller. If she gets even half their men to come down and try to stop this poltergeist, she’ll consider it a success.

Swapping tethers again, she goes onto the next person, ignoring the tingling in her limbs up on the rooftop. She can actually feel it, which should be her first warning that she’s pushing things more than she probably should.

Well this is just not how things were supposed to pan out. “…shit.”

Molly winces as she is stopped by the Retrievers her back turned to them. Her blue eyes shift from the entrance that Nick just went through to the corner of her eyes where she can see the men just a bit. God maybe she should have stayed home? With a squint of her eyes she starts nodding her head so fast it looks like.. she's freaking out. Raising her arms in a sign of surrender she slowly starts to turn her body tears beginning to well in her eyes.

“I'm Molly Parkman! Please help me!!” She cries as she sinks to her knees. “My dad is here…” she heaves as if she's hyperventilating using her hands to brace herself, chest huffing. “He's in there, I have to get to him..” Lifting her head to stare at the men in front of her she pleads. “Sylar is here and he's gonna kill everybody here including my dad!!”

They’ll believe that right?

Nick pulls back behind his pillar, reloading his firearm and glancing up at the sprinklers as they spray down on him. His back to the pillar, he can see out the doors to where his young charge is now being held at gunpoint.

Why is there a tween on this mission again? Nick swears under his breath, turning back to see the man hurling something just as Niki yells grenade, and he crouches down, eyes clamping shut and hands coming up to shield his head. In the ringing silence that follows, he turns to survey the damage, his eyes widening behind his dark glasses as he sees Niki get up and move.

He turns to fire off shots at the remaining two guards, before yelling to Niki, “So turns out I suck at babysitting. Any ideas?”

Intangibility has its perks, especially when a little bit clumsy, and easily thrown off-guard. If Samara were climbing real stairs, she would trip at the sight of the charred remains in the lobby. As it stands? The strangely incorporeal and then quickly unphased contents of Sami’s stomach are evacuated with a quick heave, dropping to the ground below. “Gross,” she mutters to herself, never having had _that_ experience before.

Her lips gape and her heart thumps in her chest. The sounds of mayhem that echo from each bottom storeys of the building goad her to keep moving. She needs to check each floor as quickly as she can.

But if people are heading down, starting at the top would be wise— those floors are most apt to already be empty. Quickly, still on her non-existent stairs, she climbs, breaking into a ghostly run as she moves, making her way to the rooftop so she can, quite literally, phase through each floor when the signal that the negator is down finally comes. Assuming it comes.

«Get down on the ground, now!» The Retrievers don’t listen to Molly; either they don’t believe her or they don’t care. Through the glass front doors, Nick can see Molly with her hands up and the white-clad retrievers closing in on her with assault rifles pointed at center mass. «I said get down on the ground!»

Inside, the lobby Nick’s final shots down the rest of the security force. Though Niki’s vision is a blot of blindness from the flashbang, bleeding into visible tones in her peripheral. A concussive hums rings tinnitus-familiar in her ears, turning Nick’s question into a muffled trombone of words. Sparks fall from demolished lights in the ceiling, and for the moment things seem calm. But Nick can hear the rapidly approaching sirens, knows that police — and eventually things worse — are coming.

Deeper inside the building, Valerie experiences the second shockwave too, as the lights in the corridor she’s harassing the building’s evacuating personnel go out one by one. There’s a creaking groan, another thump of a distant explosion, this time another floor up. Something feels wrong, something feels decidedly wrong about all of this. There’s been no signal from Peter, no signal from Hiro. The DHS employees have evacuated and no more internal security have come.

There’s another shuddering quake a moment later, and the entire building lets out a groaning protest of twisting metal. From Samara’s altitude advantage, she can feel the tremor vibrate through the building from two floors above. This time the windows don’t shatter, it feels like whatever exploded was more internally aligned. As the makes her way past the dark windows of each floor to the roof, sixteen stories above, she can tell the building is sagging slightly in the middle. The flat surface of the roof is bowed inward towards the structure’s center. But there’s also someone on the roof.

A wiry looking man, mostly bald but with his blonde hair cropped short. His black DHS uniform looks a little ragged on the edges, and he has a scoped rifle propped up on an HVAC system. «President’s detail still has eyes on, no clear shot. Rooftop, overlooking the memorial.» A voice crackles over the man’s shoulder-mounted radio. A fabric tag on the side of his uniform reads PIERCE in black block print below a monochromatic American flag. He doesn’t see Samara, he’s angling in a different direction, toward where his remote spotter is directing. “No, I see ‘em. High elevation, can’t tell what they’re causing. Doesn’t matter.”

As Samara parses the scene, there’s a crack of a gunshot and smoke whistles from the barrel of the rifle. Agent Pierce leans away from the scope, and finally sees Samara’s incorporeal form hovering in mid air. “Fuck!” He screams, lunging back from the air intake he’d been propped up against. “They’re on the roof!”

It takes three seconds for Pierce’s round to travel 1.5 miles from the roof of the DHS Detention Center in Battery Park City to the rooftop of the Deveaux Building overlooking the Presidential Memorial already underway. Secret Service spotted activity on the Devaux Rooftop minutes ago, alerted DHS, who positioned a counter-sniper on the roof. Except, Valerie Ray isn’t a sniper.

They’ll never know that.

The 7.62 round fired from Pierce’s Winchester bolt-action rifle enters Valerie Ray’s body just below her rib cage. Technically, Pierce missed his shot, as the bullet dropped four inches from where he’d intended to strike her in the center of the chest. The round tumbles the moment it enters her body, causing devastating collateral damage before exiting through a portion of her spine. Valerie crumples from the shock immediately, and her figmentary projection flickers and gutters out like a candle.

Out front of the DHS facility, Molly Walker notices something unusual. Smoke is forming beneath the Institute van, billowing and churning in ashen clouds in the way smoke doesn’t do. It boils out from beneath the van, exhaling particles of ashes and tiny fiery embers as it does. The Retrievers don’t notice it. But it’s moving toward them…

…as if the smoke were alive.

For a moment, it looks as though Niki might be about to lose consciousness. Then, staggering forward, she reaches out to grab Nick's arm and steady herself. She may not be able to hear the explosions overhead, but she can feel them. "We have to go!" she shouts far more loudly than she needs to. She looks back out the front doors and her face falls. That's not an exit.

«Valerie! We need another diversion!» Silence, and not just due to the ringing in her ears. «Valerie!»

"Fuck." She's going to have to trust that the forces outside aren't going to shoot a kid. If she realized what happened on the roof of the Deveaux Building, she might not be so quick to trust. Or to put Molly's odds of survival higher than theirs. If she knew about the smoke that isn’t smoke, she wouldn’t be running the opposite direction. Still holding to Nick's arm, she tugs him forward, following Valerie's previous path deeper into the building.

The only way out is through.

The shudder of the building makes Valerie’s projection shift again, but only slightly. She had braced for it, but it also worries her. What is happening that is causing so much destruction? She doesn’t get to even think on that when, suddenly, something happens that had never happened before.

The tether holding her telepathic projection in place frays into a million pieces as the bullet pierces her body. The frayed tether tries, desperately, to grasp something, to hold on. It briefly touches, for just a second, hundreds upon hundreds of minds. Most of the minds for almost a whole block.

They all see her, in the corner of their eye or right in front of their faces. A blonde girl, floating, not the one wearing goggles, but the one who looked exactly as she had on that rooftop, bundled in a warm coat, a scarf, a knitted beanie cap. One wearing a braided dark and light green leather bracelet on her wrist.

And she’s screaming.

And then that image fractures, cracks, like a shattering of a mirror—

And she’s gone.

That one second will be the only diversion they will have.

There's a sick feeling in the pit of Molly’s stomach as she sees that smoke. The building behind her is still going through whatever it is but she can't even turn to see because she’ll get shot. Her eyes wide she blinks a few times looking towards the smoke and then the Retrievers and then the smoke..

“I'm outta here!” The teen quickly ducks behind a knocked over trashcan waiting for a moment praying she doesn't get shot. She runs straight for the building.


Keeping low and trying to move as fast as she can Molly goes for the doors leading into the DHS building. A terrified look on her face she wails, “MISTER HIROOOOOO!! PETER!!!”

“You’re all right,” Nick reassures Niki, helping to steady her, even as his attention is pulled by the view out the glass windows. He’s about to go back that way when Niki pulls him to the corridor that leads deeper into the building.

“Gotta get the kid,” he says with a shake of his head. “Good luck.” He turns back to head for the front door, opening it partially and using the frame in an attempt to shield himself from return fire (with doors made of glass, it seems a bit pointless). He fires at the Retrievers, aiming for the one who seems to be in charge first, then the others.

Nick doesn’t see the smoke; he doesn’t know what that smoke means. If he did, he’d probably be happy that he doesn’t have an ability.

When Molly comes running for the door, he holds his fire. “Not sure it’s safer in here or out there, but catch up to the smokin’ hot blond, li’l bit.”

There’s little time for Samara to make sense of what she sees. Green eyes stare in abject horror with the sounds she puts together. She doesn’t react fast enough to stop the shot. And she can’t get across the skyline nearly quickly enough to help the blonde. Not like this. She tries to call out, but it’s too late— the crack of the weapon has already happened. The building is sagging. It’s going to fall in. Something has gone horribly wrong; both tacticians and Moms can see it. Shock registers on Sami’s face, complete with a tremble in her shoulders.

If anything the curse word in her direction actually grounds her, bringing her back to the moment with a jolt. A flicker of indecision crosses her features, and a mental coin toss negotiates her options.

The team is supposed to be in there. Forget looking for Hiro at this moment, that becomes completely secondary. Instead, she closes her eyes and focuses, doubling down to go back through the roof. Into the building. She’s not aiming to check each floor carefully. Instead, she’s looking for innocent people stuck. She may not be an engineer, but it looks like the building is caving.

And then she remembers the earpiece, «Valerie is down!» the declaration is fast and true. «Where are you guys?! You need to get out! The building is coming down faster than that time Tahir — » This is not a relevant story. FOCUS, Sam! «Do you have an exit?!»

When the shockwave of Valerie's psychic scream hits the Retrievers, they let out a panicked cry and stagger backwards. It's in that moment Molly was able to escape them. The smoke, too, churns in the impact of that moment. But it is far quicker to recover than the bewildered Retrievers.

Behind Molly, both Institute Retrievers are hoisted off of their feet by an invisible force, twisting legs kicking in the air before their arms, legs, backs, and necks snap at the same time and they both drop like crumpled plastic bags full of compound fractures to the street. The living carpet of smoke continues to roll forward, and as she runs, as she calls out to Hiro and Peter for help… there's nothing. Whatever is happening upstairs went terribly wrong.

At that exact moment, Molly feels a vibration in her coat pocket. It's her phone and an incoming call. A second later there's a noisy chime of her ringtone, and the smoke turns as though it heard the sound.

Don't stop, make it pop

Molly feels a rigidity in her lims as a high pitched whistle emits from the smoke, followed by a concussive blast that sends her through the front doors of the DHS building in a shower of twisting metal and glass. She flies past Nick and slides across the tile floor on her back in a hail-storm of glass shards.

DJ, blow my speakers up

The smoke rolls in at ground level, twists between the bent frames of demolished doors, and Molly is spun around on the ground and lifted up by her ankles with arms flailing. As the carpet of death rolls across the floor, flickering and sparking with orange light and trailing embers behind it, Molly's scream echoes through the building.

Tonight, I'm-a fight

Slowly, a human-shaped form rises up from the roiling pool of smoke. The ashen form has a tangle of curly hair and a beard to match, ratty flannel and jeans, old workboots, dark circles around reddened eyes and several bruises, cuts, and scratches over his face. Molly was, ironically, right. A member of the Gray family was coming. She was just wrong as to which one. Nick Ruskin finds out, when a jerk of Samson's head sends him spiraling into the ceiling, pinned there by a humming kinetic force so powerful it knocks the wind out of his lungs.

Till we see the sunlight

Samson Gray turns his attention from Nick, looks to Molly and twists two of his fingers and she swings around and her head crashes against the front counter once, twice, three times, four times. Samson exhales a snort through his nose, swings her back around and pries two fingers apart from one another with a cracking sound of splitting bone.

Tick-tock on the clock

Elsewhere, spiraling down through the damaged floors, Samara comes across a curly-haired man with dusky skin covered in blood from a cut on his face. Stone dust and plaster powder him whiter than he is, and with one unsteady arm he’s trying to free himself from the wreckage. She could save him, but she also recognizes him. It’s impossible not to. He’s Mohinder Suresh.

Down in the lobby, Samson rises from beside the corpse of Molly walker, wiping blood from his hands and looking around with narrowed eyes. "Where're you?" Samson murmurs, flicking Molly blood onto the tile below. He looks up, squinting, calling on the ability that Wendy Hunter's power helped him ascertain. His lips part, his pupils dilate, he feels something — there — five floors up, two hundred feet to the left.

"Imposter," Samson curses under his breath, this time transforming into nothing more than an inky shadow as he falls flat to the floor and glides like a phantom away from Molly's body and toward the stairs, still maintaining his hold on Nick while he's in sight.

Next to Molly, her phone lays open on the floor. The screen reads:

2 Missed Calls
Daddy Matt

Samara’s warning rings in Niki’s ears just as loudly as the tinnitus lingering. The sounds of the commotion in the lobby she’s just left are almost muffled. Almost. By the time she’s doubled back, it’s too late. Without rounding the corner to see it, she knows it’s all gone sideways and she wasn’t there.

Well, she’s there when Samson makes his way toward the stairwell. Niki’s hands come out in front of her to focus a cone of microwave energy toward him, fueled by every single ounce of fury and fear that’s coiled up in her screaming muscles. Valerie is down. Nick is incapacitated. Molly is a broken mess on the floor. The building is unstable. If Samara’s smart, she’s running by now. And Peter…

Niki screams and pours everything she has into her attack, moving forward to hit him with the most concentrated force she possibly can. She will make someone pay for all of this.

On the roof of the Deveaux building, Valerie lays, slumped over, blood dripping from her back onto the concrete surface. Her hand lays down in front of her, gloves still on, but the sleeve pulls up enough to see the woven green on green bracelet that she had made to match her siblings. Her siblings that are so very far away, saving the world

It's poetic. Molly's journey into this crazy world started with with being chased by Gabriel Gray. She and her friends foiled him. Some of those friends are here in this very building. But the monster that's gotten her… This monster is a real pro. And he's done what his son failed to do years ago.

There's a grunt of pain as he slams her head into the wall the first time and her vision goes back.



…Dad… I love you. I'm sorry…

There’s no time really to react — Nick’s eyes widen when he hears the glass shatter and sees Molly fly past. He whirls around to shoot — a bit wildly — at anything moving in the lobby but he’s flying toward to the ceiling after only a few rounds.

“No!” he cries out, when the man in the lobby turns toward the young girl who’s been his charge.

Pinned as he is, stunned as he is by the impact, he can only stare down helplessly as he watched Molly’s body thrown about like a ragdoll. Since he was pulled on this mission — accidentally — he’s felt uncertain about his purpose. But now, that purpose, nebulous as it was, seems even farther lost. Murdered before his eyes.

He’s failed. Again.

He isn’t sure if he’ll survive this day — it’s clear he’s not important enough to kill, but somehow that doesn’t make him feel any better.

The lack of response through the earpiece, leaves her in want. She’s going to have to keep looking through the building to try to get them out. Samara’s eyes widen as she sees Suresh. For a moment, she hesitates. Can he be considered innocent? Does it matter? Without thinking, she becomes corporeal, just for a moment to close the distance between them. Lithe, tangible fingers reach out to grab his shoulder, intending to pull him out of the mess he finds himself, making them both incorporeal upon contact.

And after she does so, breathlessly, she chatters, “You’re Mohinder Suresh! You must know where Hiro Nakamura is! Where is he? He’s not… he’s from the past— if he doesn’t get out… look you’re the scientist, you make the conclusion!” she may have lost every inch of bargaining power she has and then she adds, “I think the only way out is through and, I can get you out of here!” At least it’s a promise she’s capable of delivering on.

Bewildered, Mohinder stumbles through the demolished rubble as a loud crack of electricity snaps somewhere only a few rooms away. Samara can hear screams, too. There’s furious shouting, crackling of flames, discharges of electricity and the straining sound of weakening metal. Mohinder is bleeding, somewhere on his head turning the drywall dust brown, somewhere at his side where his suit is torn and dark. He looks at Samara like she’s a hallucination — might yet be, but she’s talking about Hiro Nakamura and none of that makes any sense.

Mohinder seems unaware of the chaos around him, of the sparks of live wires dangling from the ceiling, of the sounds of what must be a fight several rooms away. “He’s gone,” Mohinder finally exhales the answer to Samara’s question. “Why— why’re we still here?” His brows contort, expression becoming one of disbelief. “He went back— we— he —” Horror begins to set in, and Mohinder raises a bloody hand to his head, legs shaking. “Oh my god, why are we still here?

Floors below where Mohinder Suresh is discovering that nothing is the way it should be, Niki Sanders and Nick Ruskin are discovering that same truth in different context. When a wave of microwave radiation ripples through the tenebrous form of Samson Gray, there’s a howling scream that echoes from the depths of that darkness like a wounded animal. The shadows roil, undulate, seethe and boil as though they were water. Then, like a ruptured trash bag, they tear and expel Samson from within onto the floor, his skin reddened and smoking.

In that instant, Nick falls fifteen feet from the ceiling as the telekinetic force holding him there releases. The plummet is swift, and Nick twists as much as he can during the fall, trying not to land on his back or neck. Instead, the side of one foot hits the ground first, followed by a knee and a hip with a crunch of muscle, his shoulder hits second, and he bounces onto his back with a lance of pain shooting up his right side. Pain, warm, throbbing; not cold numbness — he didn’t break anything, though he can’t be sure of that in the moment.

As Samson scrambles out of his own shadow, that telekinetic force released from Nick goes straight to Niki, throwing her off of her feet and straight through a glass wall that divided the lobby. The safety glass shatters into a thousand miniscule pieces, rains down as she hits the flood on her back and leaves the streaks of blood from a dozen small cuts in her wake.

“I didn’t want you,” Samson spits the words out, “but I suppose if you insist.” Those words cut out as Samson exhales a sharp whistling sound that sends a paralytic sensation through Niki, making her muscles tense up and back grow rigid.

For a moment there, she thought that might have actually worked. That she could have actually won this match. The sudden sensation of being jerked up off her feet and thrown completely disabuses her of that notion. The pain barely registers. There’s that feeling again - a butterfly trapped beneath glass - that triggers memory, terror.


It’s instinct to shout for the man who promised to protect her and that she had promised to protect in return. They’re both really bad at keeping that promise, it seems. Between the lost loves, the families, the friends… So many people who have counted on them discovered that they shouldn’t.

Fine. If she’s going down, she’s going to do her best to take the bastard with her. If she can’t get up to fight, she’ll focus her ability and let the radiation continue to flow, to flood the space around her. Don’t need muscle control for that.

Every wound Nick’s ever gotten, even those that should no longer have any remnants of scar tissue, seems to feel that impact, but it especially resonates through the most recently broken arm, courtesy of Calvin Sheridan, only a few weeks out of its cast. It takes Nick a few seconds to catch his breath, to take stock of life and limb, before he manages to get to his feet. Adrenaline, ice cold in his veins, pushes him to move even when he’d rather just curl up and hide.

Outside, Retrievers, police. Lobby, a broken ragdoll. His options aren’t great. It’s stupid, foolhardy — potentially suicidal — but he stumbles forward on the jarred, strained leg, to follow the path Niki and Samson had blazed before him — just as Niki is thrown through the glass. He wheels around to shoot at Samson, aiming for heart and head.

Samara blinks owlishly at Suresh. And for a moment, a person can see the proverbial question mark written over her head, “…” her brain parses this information and she slows down her thinking, “…he’s already been rescued…” her lips part wordlessly and her head shakes. “And we’re still here.” Disbelief creeps into her tone, “Alright.” A single word loaded with all of the weight she feels. She swallows hard and reaches for Mohinder’s hand. “We need to get out of here because the time traveller hasn’t fixed it for us,” but the shouts— the screams— that emit nearby has her head turning in that direction. “But I need to help more people. I’m going to need you to hold my hand and we’re going to have to move… if you can. You can move, can’t you?”

Sami is no medic. She has no expertise to assess Mohinder’s status, but she’s not sure she can get more than a couple people out at a time. “C’mon. We’ll head that direction,” where the shouts came from, “and see if we can’t get more people out at once.”

Mohinder stares deep into the middle-distance as Samara talks, jaw trembling, a thin line of blood rolling down his cheek to collect plaster dust. When she directs that question to him, though, he snaps to a beat later, turning troubled eyes in her direction. “Yes,” he answers to a question he only half-heard. “Yes I— I can move.” Swallowing audibly, Mohinder takes an uneasy step toward Samara with toddler-wobble of a man concussed.

As he reaches out a hand toward her, the question posed with the gesture is not entirely appropriate for the time. “Are you a time-traveler too?” His tone is a somewhat distant wonderment, as if every bit of this feels someone less real and plausible than the next.

Down in the lobby, Samson lets out a scream of frustration as he backs away from Niki with one hand up. His clothes begin to smolder, skin turning pink and red as the radiation cooks his outer epidermis. He concentrates, a rumbling hum of telekinetic force starting to build before he sublimates into smoke in an explosion the split-second before Nick fires. Mr. Rasmussen’s danger sense has kept Samson alive this long, and it will continue to do so. As the smoke churns and swirls, it pools onto the tile floor and races back away from Niki, charging toward where Nick stands with gun drawn. There’s a harmonic rumble, and Nick’s gun is wrenched from his hand and flies out the open door in the direction of flashing blue lights pulling up to the front of the building.

The churning cloud of smoke rises up like a crashing wave, prepared to cascade down on Nick as a screaming old man’s face manifests in the roiling soot.

“Hey!” a sudden voice says from out of nowhere, or everywhere. From the backs of their minds or some nebulous direction.

It’s the voice of the blonde girl who had been meant as a distraction. Only this time, Valerie appears in front of Nick, her arms outstretched as if trying to physically block the roiling soot of a man.

Control returns to Niki by degrees and she focuses her power back inward, lest she hurt Nick. Who, by the way, is doing a great job of keeping her alive. If they make it out of this, she will buy him so many beers.


Valerie’s voice from nowhere — everywhere — is a shock that brings Niki properly back to her senses. She pushes to her feet, heedless of the shattered glass that has cut into her back and lacerates the palm she’s braced on the floor. Pain keeps her sharp. Keeps her focused. The shadow form is too close to Nick. If she uses her ability, he might get hurt too. Hurt may be better than dead, but if she can avoid possibly cooking him alive, even only partially, that is far preferable.

Niki breaks into a sprint with the intent to dash forward, through Samson if she has to, and shoulder check Nick to get him the hell out of the way if she has to. If she can keep him at her back, she can keep her ability focused forward.

Holy shit — or smoke — is about as eloquent as Nick’s thoughts are as the soot comes together in that rageful looming face. His hand now empty, at least he doesn’t do anything as futile as shooting into the smoke.

At least he’s drawing fire — or smoke, as the case may be. He’s not entirely useless. Right?

He’s already on his way to dash back to take cover behind one of those pillars, as both Valerie and Niki come to his rescue. A glance is thrown to the open door, to the Retrievers — tempted to ask them to negation-grenade the hell out of the lobby — but he doesn’t know what that’d do to Valerie’s projected form, and he’s pretty sure Niki won’t appreciate it.

“How the fuck are we getting out of here, even if the kid grabs Hiro?” he asks, possibly himself as Niki seems preoccupied — the kid being Samara, apparently, despite her being only a couple of years younger than himself.

“Not a time traveler— definitely not that cool,” Samara says to Mohinder. “More like a ghost.” Even with the change in the entire plan, and the fact that Hiro has apparently already been saved, Sami persists in pulling Mohinder through the rubble. And as she pulls him to the room where she’d heard the shouting, making them both incorporeal, she riddles, “But, what do cats, time travelers, and ghosts have in common?” As they move closer, she shakes her head, “Ghosts probably don’t have it in common, I definitely don’t always land on my feet. Bonus though: I don’t get hurt easily!”

Mohinder draws in a sharp breath when Samara turns him into an incorporeal state. There’s a bewildered and still concussed look of amazement on his face as he examines his hand, looks to Samara and is drawn along with her. “How— are we talking? Your molecules are separated into an unfixed state. Are— we actually talking? Is this just a psychic projection of my thoughts, or— but I can feel myself breathe. Or— is that an illusion… or…” He sputters words out, rambling impossibilities as Samara guides him through a damaged wall, past twisted metal supports, through insulation and wiring, toward the sound of thunderous noises rattling the walls.

But Mohinder realizes where they’re headed. “No! No we— we can’t go that way. He’s— Sylar is here. Peter is holding him off, but— but I don’t think —” there’s a scream up ahead, a shockwave that shakes the whole building, not just the floor Samara is on. But Samara said they were invincible, perhaps there’s something they could do. Mohinder doesn’t seem convinced.

Below, Samson recoils from the psychic assault of Valerie’s unusual presence, swirls backward when Niki rushes through his choking, ashen form. He twists into a coil of smoke, resonating with a harmonic vibration that shatters the floor tiles below him. Outside, car doors are slamming, and Nick finally catches sight of the Retrievers out front — and they’re — definitely twisted like ragdolls and dead. Samson.

«This is the NYPD! Lay down your arms and step out of the building with your hands behind your head!» A voice crackles over a bullhorn. «FRONTLINE has been dispatched! There is nowhere to go!» It’s a merciful offer, if Heller’s men had gotten here first the entire building might be on fire — more.

The call of the police has Samson twisting in the air, his smoke-column body rising up to flatten against the ceiling in a swirling cloud of choking darkness. Then, little by little, he receeds between the demolished ceiling tiles until there are just sooty flakes raining down from where he’d disappeared. A single ceiling tile falls, shatters on the floor.

One threat gone, Niki is left staring wide-eyed at Nick. The universal expression of what the fuck just happened? She coughs into the crook of her arm like there’s smoke in her lungs to expel and casts a look to where Molly lays, then out the doors where the NYPD is blocking them in.

“Looks like this is it,” Niki closes her eyes for a moment and pushes a lungful of air past her lips. She looks at Nick again, conviction in her body language that doesn’t show in her eyes. “I’ll go out there and give myself up. That should buy you time to… find another exit.” He didn’t sign up for this. Not really. Giving him his best chance is all she can think to do now. Plus, he’s saved her once already today.

Gingerly, she unslings the rifle at her back and holds it out to him. It’s not completely useless at close range - it hurts to smash someone in the face with the stock.

The psychic form of Valerie seems to flicker, go transparent for a moment before she recovers and looks back at Nick and Niki. Her eyes shift toward… the body of Molly for a moment, before she chooses to focus away from that. “I can go out and turn myself over— or make them think I am.” Until they touch her. She didn’t exactly want to return to her body right now— it hurts.

And doesn’t hurt. Both was too scary. If she could hold it together long enough maybe she could allow them both time to escape. While the building threatened to collapse. “And if you could get me off the roof once you get out that would be really great.”

Cause she already knows from that brief moment she woke up—

That she can’t move her legs.

Nick stares up at the soot as it disappears upward, then turns back to Niki, shaking his head as she shoves that rifle into his hands.

“You stay — I’m not Evolved-” he begins, but then the illusion girl suggests she goes forward to turn herself in. He has no idea what’s happened hundreds of feet above him, but this makes sense to him. “The phaser can grab you,” he agrees. “Good luck, yeah? And thanks.”

He jerks his head to a direction other than out the front. “Let’s go, hottie,” he tells Niki, glancing over his shoulder before moving deeper into the building — to find another way out.

Sami actually shrugs, “You’re the scientist,” she doesn’t science any of this, instead she just does what she does, not questioning it, but managing to make it work. She doesn’t question how her ability works. And then Mohinder explains Sylar is here. Hazel eyes widen and Sami’s jaw drops, “What!?” This mission has gone very wrong.

She stares incredulously at Mohinder, waiting a few beats and then her head shakes. A mental coin toss and she wonders whether this is the stupidest idea she’s had. She glances towards Mohinder, her own uncertainty escalates some. The shockwave can’t be felt in this state, but its effects are see as it reverberates through the building. Her team was downstairs. The building is falling in. Her eyes narrow, and with a cringe, she shakes her head. She doesn’t know whether everyone downstairs is even alive. But there are screams this direction.

This is such a bad idea. “C’mon,” she urges, tugging Mohinder with her. “We might be able to help!”

Probably not.

But there’s only one way to find out.

As Samara brings Mohinder through another wall, toward the sounds of screams and crackling electricity they come upon a sight unseen before. Three walls have been blown clear out, leaving just the twisted metal frames and tangles of pink insulation and wiring behind. In the middle of the room stands Peter Petrelli, debris floating in the air around him, radioactive fire boiling from his hands. Not more than ten feet away is the broad-shouldered and darkly dressed silhouette of a man that can only be identified as Sylar, cold vapor emanating from his palms.

Mohinder stares wide-eyed at the scene, and then notices a body buried under the pile of rubble with a phone nearby. It’s mostly recognizable as Matthew Parkman, where parts of his body aren’t twisted and bloodied beyond recognition. “Miss, miss,” Mohinder practically hisses to Samara as Peter and Sylar charge forward at each other. “We have to— ”

Several floors below, as Niki and Nick begin their retreat toward the back doors, toward something, toward anything that can be an alternate means of escape there is a deafening roar that comes from upstairs. Valerie’s illusory form is only just crossing the threshhold past Molly Walker’s body when the soundwave hits her and causes her form to gutter like a candle in the wind.

A moment later a shockwave hits the ground floor, splitting the ceiling open and sending collapsing piles of debris, desks, furniture, and screaming people falling from above. Nick is able to move quickly enough to throw himself and Niki out of the way of the debris. Some of it is on fire, and burning desks, paperwork, and human remains spill out into the lobby.

Up several floors, the entire mid-section of the DHS holding facility has been destroyed. Samara and Mohinder stand within what remains of the gutted floor, where Peter unleashed a low-yield atomic blast. Steel girders glow white hot, groan and creak with strain, and both he and Sylar continue to fight one another. Sylar, flying backwards and away from Peter, and Peter teleporting to catch up and make the distance. The building above twists, and the strained middle can barely support the weight of what lies above.

Everything is on fire.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this.

There’s a terrible crash, and suddenly Niki is on the floor again with Nick half draped over the top of her. Again, her ears are ringing and when she manages to push herself up enough to roll over and stare up at what the fuck just happened now, she stares up and through where the ceiling should be with a look that should be terror, but she’s too numb to get there now.

Then she’s groping for Nick, first for something to grab purchase of. To see if he’s in one piece is pursued as an afterthought. She can’t even hear her own voice when she says, “We have to keep moving.” It’s a struggle to get to her feet again, but she does, stance wide and staggering two steps to one side, over correcting back the other way and one half-step back before achieving equilibrium once more.

This time, she doesn’t bother calling out to Peter. Doesn’t try talking him down from the metaphorical ledge he stands on. There is nothing she can do for him now.

See, Valerie had just been about to have her projection go outside, turn herself in and distract them for a little while— but that changed rather dramatically. She’s afraid to check back on her body, so she just does her best to hold it together as the building hangs by a thread. Where’s Samara? Did she make it out?

She darts one last look down at Molly’s body before she focuses on the other girl— the one she barely knew from before, when she’d been staying in Gun Hill. Her projection flickers, shifts and suddenly she’s there, near Samara. “We need to get out of here like— right now— “ Like yesterday, more accurately.

“ — Hey who’s that?” That’s not a tiny Japanese man from the past.

“Fu-” is about all Nick gets out before having to dive out of the way of flaming rubble and furniture crashing down around them. When Niki grabs for him, he likewise wraps hands around her wrist — a lifeline of sorts in this hellscape. He stares up for a minute, forehead furrowing with fear and worry as he sees Peter and… Gabriel? No one’s ever clued him into all of that nonsense, and he was never about to ask for an explanation after his first meeting with his sister’s boyfriend. That Sylar is not the same man is unclear to him.

“No arguments here,” he mutters to Niki, pushing her once she’s no longer stumbling in the direction of away — away from the lobby, away from fire, away from Molly Walker’s lifeless form. He glances back to see that Valerie’s already flickered away, and he glances up — he can’t do much to help Samara where she’s at, so he focuses on Niki and himself. They need to get out of here.

“Gotta be a back door, a side door, something,” he says, gun held and ready to shoot anything that comes up behind them.

Sami blanches. “Snickerdoodle,” she murmurs to herself as the scene unfolds. Her lips part, her body stiffens, but her grip on Mohinder remains. She won’t lose someone else to the insanity. And as she stands in shock at the war transpiring between the pair. And then Mohinder is speaking— it feels like it’s from a bubble, yet it does wake her up to the reality that there is literally nothing she can do to help right now. Going corporeal would be a very bad decision.

And then there’s Valerie. Wordlessly, she nods at the projection. But no sound seems to come out. But then momentary relief cuts into the chaos: Valerie is okay! Her eyes widen and she shakes her head. They need to get out of here; the projection speaks truth.

She’ll get them to safety. “Hold tight,” she instructs. And then they’re floating downwards, the feel of the world around them almost sinking as they move. It’s a simple change in density and permeability that drives them down to the first floor to make a swift exit.

The DHS Holding facility shudders and trembles, listing to the side like a drunken man at its upper levels. As Samara drifts down through the floor like a ghost, dragging with her the frightened form of Mohinder Suresh, she can see molten steel beams bending and flexing under the strain of interior fire and structural weight. Floor by floor its devastation; demolished walls, dead government agents, dead bystanders.

On the ground level, as Nick and Niki flee from the chaos, they can hear the howling whine of the building above them. The ceiling wobbles as they wind their way through a back hallway, searching for a door that doesn’t lead to death by cop. There’s pops and cracks, fissures splitting in the walls as the building bends in ways it was not meant to do. The whole structure is screaming, people still trapped inside are too, but that is a muffled roar compared to the groan of straining steel.

As the pair rounds a corner, they find the hallway blocked off by a collapsed heap of steel and wires, broken furniture and other ephemera from the floors above. Fire crackles and dances between the debris, the smell of burning plastic is everywhere. The building shudders again, groans loudly, and then two ghosts come buzzing through the wall in what can only be described as a frantic search.

Samara is immediately recognizable, as is — in a wholly different way — Doctor Mohinder Suresh. Before either party can react fully to the other (beyond Mohinder’s astonished look at seeing Tracy Strauss— no, Barbar— nnn— one of them) Samara practically envelops the pair in her body, transforming them to so much particulate matter and insubstantial energy. The science of what is happening further rattles Mohinder’s already addled mind.

Then the entire building collapses.

Nick, Samara, Mohinder, and Niki all experience the collapse of a 749-foot-tall, 44-story building from the inside. The sight of it is a heart-stoppingly abrupt drop of the ceiling, followed by complete and total immersion in twisted beams of steel, crackling fire, and what should be suffocating clouds of smoke. They should all, by any rights, be dead. Except thanks to Samara, they are ghosts of a different make. Ghosts that can, in the right context, live a second time.

These ethereal forms are drawn by Samara’s guidance and linked hands through the debris with a haste that can only be described as appropriate. They phase harmlessly through molten piles of glowing metal, through corpses, through the broken glass and fiery wreckage of a building choked by smoke. That their ascent is at an upwards 45-degree angle is lost on any of them except Samara, who has a better spatial awareness in this state.

When they’re out of the dust cloud, when they can see again, Samara has brought them to the rooftop of the Chase Bank building across the multi-lane street. A billowing cloud of black and gray smoke and concrete dust rises up from where the DHS building once laid, screams and sirens are everywhere and not just around the collapsed structure. From this vantage point they can all see smoke in the direction of Midtown where the memorial was happening, smaller fires spreading out from that point. A streak of fire arcs across the sky, with two humanoid silhouettes inside its blazing wreath.

The human comet collides with another building, punches through it like a bullet through a plank and explodes out the other side with a thunderclap and a conical spray of glittering glass raining down on the street. Doctor Suresh stares wide-eyed at the devastation, hands trembling, glasses crooked, and trembling.

Niki staggers through the halls, clutching Nick’s arm for stability and assurance. When they reach what should be an exit only for it to turn out to be a dead end, she looks to the man with wide and terrified eyes. This isn’t how she wanted to go out. There are a lot of ways Niki Sanders has expected to die, but this was never on the list. She’s almost about to say something, when Samara and Mohinder Suresh suddenly appear. Or don’t quite appear? Or maybe they’re the ones who disappeared?

Suresh’s head isn’t the only one spinning.

When it’s over and they’re atop the Chase building, Niki hardly knows where to begin. They should be dead. They should all be dead. A look back at the remains of the DHS building reminds her that some of them are. Her fingers curl tightly around Nick’s arm unconsciously. Not enough to hurt, but enough to betray the overwhelming emotion. First, she looks at him like there’s something she wants to say, but then her mind snaps back to the present and the present danger.

“Valerie! Samara, you have to go back for Valerie! She’s—”

God, Peter. They’re all just kids. Molly was just a kid.

A body collides with a building - crashes through it - in the way that bodies aren’t meant to do. Even the ones thrown with her super strength before the power scramble. Niki stares, her breath starting to come in shorter gasps. It looks like she’s about to panic, until suddenly… She doesn’t.

Ruskin’s arm is relinquished. No longer necessary as a lifeline. “We need to get out of here.” Jessica is the picture of calm. All of this? None of it concerns them anymore. None of it concerns Niki anymore. She snaps a look to Suresh. “You can come with us, or you can wait around ringside and take your chances with the splash damage. Your choice.” And that’s being charitable, by her standards.

When they get to that dead-end, Nick doesn’t really seem all that surprised; there’s fear in his eyes, of course, but he’s lived through so many hells at this point that his seemingly imminent death doesn’t seem to phase him. “Let’s-” he begins, turning back, but then, speaking of phasing, Samara, with Mohinder Suresh in tow, appears.

It’s a hellish landscape that they traverse, the fire and devastation feeling like something out of his nightmares. He clings to the hands his are linked with, and when they finally stop, he rests a hand on Niki’s shoulder lightly when she lets go of his. It’s consolation — he doesn’t know her or Petrelli that well, but he does know fear and loss.

“Valerie?” he asks, with a small shake of his head — he’s not entirely sure where the real Valerie is. “Hiro?” He glances at Samara, brows rising with the question.

His hand rakes through his hair, disturbing bits of ash that have fallen there like blackened snowflakes. “Fuck. Did we help at all?” Molly Walker lies still and lifeless in the lobby of the nearby building that’s on fire and collapsing as they speak, groaning like a person dying. The answer seems more than obvious.

He turns to find a way off this building, stony-faced.

For a moment, Valerie completely flickered out of sight. In fact, she had been briefly forced back to awareness of her body as the building rumbled and collapsed near the building she was in. The rooftop seems fine, at least, as fine as it had been— she moves to try and sit up, her arms still work fine, even if everything aches a little. She drags her body so that she’s back up against the side, hand going to her back, where the bullet entered— There’s not as much blood as she expected when she pulls her hand back.

The damage went far beyond blood.

Closing her eyes again, she reaches her mind out, and snaps it back into place on Samara again, relieved to see that she’d made it out, doubly so when she spots the other two. “I’m here— “ she says, offering a smile, that isn’t quite as wide as the ones she’d given before. Even her projection looks worried. “I’m— my body— is still up on the first rooftop. It’s intact, the roof at least. I just don’t think I can get myself down.” Actually, she’s really sure she can’t. “I was shot.”

She glances around at the destruction, her projection even fidgeting as she bites at her lip. She hopes her building remains intact for a while longer.

The carnage Sami manages to control her ability through leaves her blood running hot. How did they think they could make a difference in all of this? Her lips curve down and her eyes droop, there’s little question some of their brightness has drained. But even with the somber mood, she doesn’t lose all hope.

“Hiro was already gone, Doctor Suresh said that it didn’t change anything,” Samara answers bluntly. “Peter and Sylar— “ she swallows hard. “We couldn’t make a difference there.” Her teeth play at her bottom lip, “W-w-where’s Molly?” Sam’s voice tremors as she glances between them, “I’ll get them— her and Valerie— “ it’ll push her towards fatigue, and potential disappearance into permanent ghostdom once more, but she desperately wants to save them all.

Of course, no one mentioned Molly. No one brought her up. It leaves a strange sinking feeling in the pit of Sami’s stomach. She looks towards Mohinder, “He’s the only one I could save.” Even if she had tried to find other survivors. “Get him to safety.” And then, with last minute consideration she adds, “please.”

The projection speaks to her and she nods. “I’ll come get you. I can get you out. I’ll be quick. I should… I should be able to carry you,” disaggregated particles are easy enough to move, “I’ll need help at the bottom of the building.”

And with that she phases out, en route to retrieve Valerie.

Covered in stone debris, blood dark on the side of his face, in his hair and soaking through his suit jacket, Mohinder Suresh looks like a skeleton of a man. He stares at the cloud of dust that was once the DHS facility, to the flames and choking black smoke belching up from within. He is in shock, watching not only the rubble of a building with the corpse of his only friend burn away, but also watches the life he had crumble to ashes as well.

In the distance, there is a catastrophic flash of light, and two dark human shapes streak up into the sky, collide with one-another, and then come hurtling back down into the roof of another building. The ground trembles and quakes, dust is kicked up into the air and it feels like the end of the world, but not in the way anyone had wanted. Mohinder drops to his knees, arms limp at his side and eyes vacant.

He lurches, stomach twisting in knots again as fat tears well up on his eyes. The weight of the things he had done for the government comes crashing down on him as hard as any justification for them could crumble.

For Niki, she has no real way of knowing what this means for the future. They tried to change things, tried to reset the scale, and it only made things worse. Now, Peter streaks like a fiery star through the sky, head-long into a battle he has been fighting in his mind for five years. She knows now that he never wanted to run away with her. He wanted to run away from himself.

Mohinder, finally processing some of what's happening realizes he'd heard a familiar name. He looks up to Niki, the only familiar face, and asks in a tiny voice.

What about Molly?

A mile away on the edge of the Midtown Ruins, Samara drifts like an angel down from the sky, backlit by the low-hanging sun. She is iridescent and ephemeral, touching down on the roof where a young blonde girl lays splayed out on the rooftop with a blossoming flower of blood at her midsection and soaking into the dirty concrete beneath.

The two cherub statues that flank Samara when she lands frame her in iconic fashion. Valerie’s projected image looking down at her own body, too, is something out of a baroque painting. A thunderclap sounds in the distance, and as Valerie turns to look at what Samara is squinting at, she sees what all Manhattan sees.

What the world sees.

The sky is alight with a second sun.

And the only way forward from here

is paved in blood.

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