Chapter 9 - "Friends"
Level 5 - Underground
Sylar fastened the last button on his new shirt as he walked down the fractured and damaged hall. It wasn’t what he was use to, by any means, but the splatter points of blood did give it a certain style. And it wasn’t like the dead guard he took it from was going to complain or anything.
“Looks like you got in a bit of fun,” said Todd “Painkiller” Warren leaning back against a large metal panel in the wall with a devil’s grin. It looked like the door to a bank vault, the ones they always showed in the movies. “And that shirt, it screams ‘you’. “
Sylar looked up at his at his companion. “Thanks,” he looked at the large Safe Doors. “Are these the ones?”
Todd handed Sylar a clipboard listing numbers that corresponded with the numbers on the Safe Doors. The only numbers that had names attached to them were the two in front of him. “Are you sure about this? There was a reason that they sent this guys down here. The badest of the bad lie behind these two doors, I’m kind of insulted that they never thought of me for such an honorable title.”
Sylar smiles. “You will show them their mistake soon enough.” He stepped to the vaults that held no sign of opening mechanisms.
“They dead bolted as soon as the power went out. They wanted to make sure that those two stayed in there forever, so how are we going to get them out?”
Sylar moved his hands with a magnetic hum and the dead bolts could be heard slamming back into place one by one. A pull of his arms and the doors ruptured off from the posts on the wall. Rocks tumbled as from the holes dust being thrown up as a result, Sylar hovered the doors away sending them off to this side when they were clear.
Nothing could be seen inside the holding pens with the loss of power killing the lights, but Sylar could tell they were there, extending his arms out in a welcoming gesture. “My friends. Greet your savor.”
Underground, location unknown
Noah Bennett awoke to the sounds of boots on metal
The Man with the Glowing Eyes walked in to view of Bennett, not bothering to raise his head in acknowledgement of his prisoner, walking on the grated metalwork in the room of pipes and stonewalls. To the best of his knowledge, “Zeus“ as he was calling himself these days, had him in some sewer system’s workings, maybe even an old furnace plant underground or in a facility, he couldn’t tell. That was the point of course, this kid was good, he thought of everything, keeping him isolated, and disoriented. He even got him in a position that he couldn’t escape from, with his arms behind him to the nearest point of breaking without doing so, wrapped around a large sturdy pipe that he had no chance of breaking in his position with his forearms covered in melted metal.
Zeus had kept a single bulb that hung over head on for light, which left him in the shadows, and hidden. Bennett knew his face, knew everything about him, but he suspected it was to keep him from knowing his actions or seeing anything that could be used to benefit him now or in the future.
“It's a shame you weren’t given the offer to join,” said Bennett. “To come up with the way and where you’re holding me, for a civilian to think of this, you could have been a good agent for the Company.”
“Save your gratitude, I’m not here to please you,” shot back Zeus. He slumped down to the corner on the farside of the wall so that his voice was the only sign he was in the room. “As memory severs, you didn’t care to give me that choice. ‘Too dangerous to kept loose, even on a collar’, that’s what you said, right?”
“Seems I was right in that opinion.“
“Are you saying that this is my fault?” Bennett saw the eyes of Zeus glow red-hot in the shadows and the bulb strobe in and out. “Don’t you dare say that this is my fault?! We were no harm to anyone. We were doing Good with our gifts.”
“Yeah, using your abilities on every one of those guards and agents you killed and maimed shows how much ‘Good’ you’ve accomplished with your gifts.”
“That is what happens when you poke a stick at a wild animal. When you take away the only thing it needs to survive in this world and lock it in a cage for the rest of its life.” The lights dimmed and the bulb went back to full light.
“So you think you’re justified?”
“In defending myself against those who want to kill me and mine?” Zeus paused then his eyes flashed. “Absolutely.”
“And the ones you blinded, what’s you’re justification on that kind of torture?”
“They live, do they not?” Bennett couldn’t argue that fact.
“They were punished for what they didn’t and have to live with that sin for the rest of their lives. They are far from innocent, Bennett, just as you are far from innocent. They deserved what they got.”
“So what about you, Do you deserve what you fight for?” asked Bennett
Zeus didn’t say anything at first. “It is a thought that I have had on mind for a long time. I failed to protect her, to keep her safe. To be the hero that she always saw me as. I have a lot to answer for when this is all over but if I have to move Heaven and Earth and Hell to get her back then so be it. I doubt you would do less for someone you love, if you have the heart for it.”
Bennett thought of what he would do for his family and what he has done for his family. For his Claire Bear. “And what if she hates you for what had to be done to accomplish this?”
“Then she will be alive with that hate of me inside her, not dead without it. I can live with that.”
Bennett wasn’t a Company man as much as he used to be, especially in resent times. But he had believed in its purpose. But hearing the other side, could he really defend their actions? This man’s selfless love, was he so unlike him? From what he was told they were very much the same man.
“So what’s next?” asked Bennett after his long time of self-conflict yielded no immediate answers.
Bennett could hear the strain of forced defeat in his voice. “There is no next, Level 5, it's a dead end. She’s out there but I don’t know where. Bob died rather than tell me and I have no way of tracking down a source or a trail or anything that would lead me to her. She’s going to die in one of those cells if I don’t find her.”
Bennett could feel his gut churn in his stomach, what he was thinking of doing was against everything he believed, everything he had strived to work for. “You find her, with as little killing as possible, and you will go away?”
“What?” responded Zeus.
“You find her and go into hiding? Never to be heard from again, somewhere away from everyone and everything else. Somewhere secluded.”
Zeus was catching on to what Bennett was implying. “You know something. Some way to find her, don’t you?”
Bennett could hear Zeus getting up. The bottom half of a man came in to the light, hand out to the side, burning. “I could make you tell me.”
“You could, but you don’t want to if there’s an easier way, do you?” The burning hand went cold and back resting on the side of his leg. “Swear that when you find her you go away and I never hear about you again.”
“On her soul, that’s all I ever wanted.”
“Not one mention of you or your abilities in anyway?”
“And I have you’re word that I will not be torturously hounded by you ever again?”
“…Yes.” answered Bennett.
The hand of Zeus ignited again in sunfire. “You realized I am risking much on this bargain and that if you plan to deceive me that I will find you again and you will feel the full force of my power.”
The hand got closer, Bennett’s face turned away from the fuming heat radiating off Zeus’ palm. He was a professional, keeping a poker face despite the beads of sweat coming from his skin. He nodded slowly, understanding the terms of their agreement.
The hand went to Bennett’s effective makeshift shackle, pausing to heat up the metal slowly to melt the warped iron off of Bennett without hurting him. Bennett stood up as best he could with his stiff legs and sore body, rubbing the flesh that has been incased in iron for days.
“Understand this, nothing has changed between us, Bennett,” stated Zeus with certainty. “You deserve to crawl out of here deaf, dumb, and blind on severed limbs for what you have done to me and all those before and after. You better pray that we never meet again.”
Bennett straightened out his weakened body. “I think we understand one another.”
“Very well. Now tell me, how can you find her?”
“It’s not me that’s going to find her, someone else. A little girl named Molly.”
Nathan, Peter, Matt, & Claire
Four figures rested in their own little corners inside the storage holding, waiting for something they weren’t sure how or if would come. Peter Patrelli launched himself off the old oak table top that he was laying on, the uneasiness of the waiting for people whom, as far as he was concerned, were enemies.
Peter couldn’t let it settle anymore. “Are you sure about this, Nathan, waiting around for these guys while the Company gets stronger by the minute?”
“Which is why were waiting for them,” said Nathan looking out one of the paneled windows in to the raining overcast. “Because everyday their getting stronger.” He turned to his brother. “This is getting bigger than us. We need help, and if these guys can give it we can’t ignore that.”
“I don’t like it,” said Peter.
“I’m not asking you to,” Nathan looked at Matt, then Claire. “Any of you. In fact, until we know more about them I want you all on your guard.”
“Wait a minute,” said Claire sitting with her knees up to her chest on top of a mirror dresser. “Why bother working with these guys then?”
“They knew things we didn’t,” answered Nathan. “They knew where Bennett was, they knew about Peter’s powers. I want to know what else they know that we didn’t. Might be something we can use.”
A knock came from the far end of the storage unit, snapping everyone to attention. Nathan turned to the telepath. “Matt?”
Matt Parkman lowered his head and spaced out as if trying to hear something. He looked back at Nathan after a few seconds. “It’s your friend, Meredith.”
Nathan sighed quietly, he had a feeling they would send her. He went to the small door on the side of the storage unit that allowed for people to come in or out, where the sound of knocking had come from. Opening it, revealed the person that Matt had said would be waiting on the other side. The blonde firestarter named Meredith Gordon. “Hey,” she said quietly obviously uncomfortable at this meeting as he was.
“It’s been agreed on that you guys are welcomed to meet the Fellowship. But that’s all, we will have to see were this goes before we decide on something more… Permanent.”
“Fair enough,” said Nathan. “So where are we going?”
“Is your brother still here?”
“I’m here,” said Peter as he walked up behind Nathan.
“You okay to travel?” asked Meredith.
“Of course. I heal pretty fast.”
Meredith smiled. “I don’t mean that kind of travel.”
Peter blinked again into existence, Claire and Matt on either side of him. The four of them plus Meredith stood outside of a looming mansion in the Northern forests of the state of Washington near the Canadian border. The graveled drive circled a large fountain as it went out into the far distance of the surrounding trees. There seemed to be no other living soul anywhere near the expensive building, Peter couldn’t help but thing of how convenient the isolation must be.
Meredith pocketed the map and photo she had shown Peter in order for him to ‘port here. “They’re waiting for us inside.” She lead the group to the heavy double doors and opened them, Peter brought up the rear. The inside was as grand as the outside, old Victorian style gave the effect of the building being pulled right out of the time period. Peter joked in his head that with all he had seen it could be possible, anything was possible nowadays. The a-typical weather of the Washington seeped inside through the man-sized windows giving a gloom illumination of the rooms. The sound of a piano could be heard a couple rooms away, where Meredith was leading them. Once through the numerous rooms they stopped at the source of the music, where a man with short blond hair concentrated on the ivory keys that his fingers played on.
“Richard,” called Meredith getting the attention of the focused piano man.
He didn’t look up, only smiled and spoke out over the piano. “I know. Give me a minute.”
The man finished his score and put the cover back over the keys, laying them to rest. “Beethoven’s 5th should never go unfinished, would you agree Mr. Patrelli?” The man looked up at Nathan, looking for an answer.
“I’m not much into that, per say.”
“Oh, one should always have time to indulge the great works of brilliant composers. It’s sometimes the only thing that can keep a man sane, allow the tension of the days worries to wash away.” The man at the piano stood from the bench, showing his height and his expensive dark blue business suit. “Where’s my manners, Richard Maxwell, at your service.”
Richard walked to Nathan and held out a hand in greetings. “I’ve heard of you, Mr. Maxwell.”
“And I, you, Senator.”
“Hopefully, not for long.” Maxwell turned to Peter and the others. “You must be his daughter,” he shook Claire’s hand. “And the telepath, Detective Parkman.”
Matt took his greeting reluctantly. “Yeah, hi.”
“And you must be Peter, I’ve heard great and many things about you.” Luckily not in arm’s reach, Peter simply nodded at him.
“Welcome to my home, and the home of the Fellowship. Allow me to introduce some of the others, Meredith I believe you are all familiar with…” he turned his head behind him and stared intently at the double doors for a minute. They opened revealingly as three more people came through to the room, all dressed in the neat black attire that seemed to unify them as a team. “As well as Nikki,” walking at the front of the group. “You’ve met our resident Liquid Man, David Moest,” the only man of the group at Nikki’s right, tipped an invisible hat to the newcomers. Peter restrained himself from delivering a sucker punch to the guy. “Last but not least is Megan Dell.” The little Asian girl, who barely looked twenty one, nodded to everyone.
“I’ll introduce you to the others, later.”
“Thank you for allowing us the visit,” said Nathan in full politician mode.
“Think nothing of it.” Maxwell held out his arms slightly. “This place is a haven to those like us, you deserve to be here as much as anyone and I hold in time you will call this your home as well.”
“Well excuse us if we don’t jump to the ban wagon just yet,” said Nathan respectfully. “Your people weren’t exactly cooperative when we kept running into each other.”
“Slight misunderstanding,” answered Maxwell. “You, also, must understand that we couldn’t truly trust you either. But we each know what the other’s goal is and we can begin ‘fixing’ the problem before it becomes too great for even our combined partnership to stop.”
As Maxwell finished, another man came in the room. Taller than Maxwell, he possessed the harden features earned from battle and time. His face furnished a goatee, something the top of his head lacked, wearing dark shades over his eyes. This was a man who didn’t look like he has smiled once in the last ten years of his life. His attire was the same color of the other Fellowship members save Maxwell, brandishing a long black duster.
“Ah, Mr Copper,” Maxwell turned to the Nathan and the others. “Please excuse me a second.” He walked over to the large man and began a conversation of the hushed kind. Maxwell sent him back the way he came when they were finished with their secret talk. “Speaking of problems, it seems to have increased beyond the Company.”
“What’s happened?” asked Matt.
“It seems the Zeus has attacked Level 5.”
“Zeus?” said Claire.
“The one called the Man with the Glowing Eyes, the man that currently holds your adoptive father captive. It’s what he’s calling himself.”
“How do you know about that?” asked Peter folding his arms over his chest.
“I have my sources, but it doesn’t matter right at the moment.” Maxwell addressed everyone with what he had to say next. “It seems Zeus launched a one-manned attack on Level 5, a hold facility that houses those the Company deems unsafe to continue living in public or those that have refused their offer to join.”
“What? How could they get away with something like that?” Nathan was at a loss at what he heard.
“As we all know, the Company is a very capable group that can get away with many things.”
Peter saw Nathan’s body go rigid, his voice was uneasy. “To think our mother was apart of something like this.”
Peter didn’t say anything but he felt they same way his brother did.
“We can’t dwell on this, right now. In his attack on the company, Zeus let loose some very dangerous individuals, some that actually deserve to be there.” Maxwell turned to his people. “We have to round them up and get them back to cells before they scatter and start doing damage.”
Nikki and the other Fellowship members acknowledged and went the way of Mr Copper. “Wait a minute, what about us?” said Matt.
“You’re not yet ready for a mission like this, you will be better off here with me.”
“I’m not sure about your pal here,” argued Parkman, “But I’m a cop. I know how to take care of myself.”
“You, yes, but what of your companions, are you willing to risk their lives?”
“We were saving the world before we even meet you,” shot back Peter. He was really starting to not like this guy.
Claire came up behind her uncle, rallying to the two men. “We all have.”
“A boy who can’t work his powers, a girl who can’t die, and a flying cityslicker,” laughed the Liquid Man. “Oh yeah, y’ll be might he’pful to us in a fight.”
“I could clean your clock, waterboy,” Peter’s hand ignited ready to back up his threat.
“Enough,” shouted Maxwell. He pondered the request and its implications. “You realize that this is simply a capture and clean up. This won’t be an attack at the Company facility or the Company in general, and that this is a dangerous situation that you are all agreeing to go in to?”
“Yes,” answered everyone save Nathan who had yet to join the others.
Maxwell turned to him, “Your choice my friend.”
Nathan wasn’t about to let his little brother get in to trouble without him present to bail his butt out of the firestorm he was charging into head first. But what can he do, Peter was the hero of the family.
“Very well then I’ll allow them to tag along,” said Maxwell to Moest, who very openly protested his displeasured defeat. “Under the condition that you follow the order of my people.” Maxwell focused on Peter. “Please don’t try to take any more abilities until we’ve had time to talk.”
Abandoned Building, Tokyo
Hiro appeared out of nowhere in the clothes of an enemy with a heavy bag in the same pitch black color.
He went over to the corner pile of priceless treasures and bundles of high numbered bills. The crown jewels from England to Africa, jade seals from China, the Hope Diamond and every bit of treasure from the six continents, all stolen by him. He no longer felt like the hero he always thought he was destined to be
Hiro removed his mask. <“Shadow! Show yourself!”> he yelled into the empty building echoing up the walls.
A light from the cities outside shown in through the windows, moving past the walls like Yurei from stories, moving along to be replaced by the shadows again
From behind Hiro the “Kage”, as he called him, presented himself. <”My little samurai, you’ve returned.”>
Hiro turned to face his nemesis. <”Enough of this…”> he motioned a hand to the fortune pile as high as a man. <”I have done what you asked, now release my friend and sister. Give them back to me!”>
<”Or you’ll do what, little samurai,”> said the Kage. <”You’re code of honor is your own prison. But perhaps it is time for the last treasure to be finally returned to the rightfully owner.”>
<”What last treasure?”>
Kage walked to the pile, bending down to examine his new wealth. <”It’s all been a test, little samurai. The enjoyment of watching you suffer as your honor was broken every time you stole and the consumption of jewels, all were to prepare you for what I need to retrieve.”>
Hiro looked at him confused. <“You think I couldn’t get all of this myself? You think we have nothing in common.”> Kage stood up to face Hiro. “We are the same, Ying and Yang, different sides the coin. Are powers are similar, even in how they work.”>
Hiro caught on to what Kage was saying. <”You don’t mean…”>
<”Just as the Blade of Takezo Kensei allowed you to use you powers the way they were meant to be,”> smiled Kage. <”There is something that you must get for me so I can do the same.”>
<”No,”> whispered Hiro.
<”When the artifact of my ancestors is reclaimed, I will truly be untouchable, and you are going to help me reclaim it, my little samurai.”>
Elementary School, New York
Molly hated recess, something else that made her hated to everyone else. It wasn’t being outside that bothered her, but all the other kids that she didn’t care for. She could her them whisper things when they weren’t saying it out loud to be mean. She even saw some of the teachers look at her funny. Matt always said not to listen to what they said but it was hard for her and he couldn’t always be there to protect her from the normal kids.
Like every day after lunch, Molly went over to the far bench and colored on her paper sheets that were bright and beautiful. At least they were leaving her along today, not asking to play Hide and Seek like last time. That’s when they started calling her name, screaming she was a weirdo, it wasn’t her fault that she knew where they all were it was what she does. Finding people, it was her gift, and even though Matt said that she shouldn’t tell anyone or use it, she couldn’t help it sometimes. It was unfair.
“What are you doing all the way over here, little one?” One of the new teachers said walking over from one of the playground areas. “Don’t you want to go play with your friends instead of school stuff? I know I did when I was your age.”
The teacher came up to the table looking at the drawings see was doing. “They don’t like me, none of them do.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the teacher.
“Because they said so.” Molly looked up at the skinny man in a long sleeved shirt and tan paints the same color as one of her pieces of paper. They reminded her of Matt’s suit he always wore to work. She looked at his face and she couldn’t help think of her Uncle Pete, ‘cept the teacher’s hair was brown and long like a girl’s. It was pulled back like a girl’s, too. “They think I’m weird.”
The teacher sat down across from her. “I sure you’re not.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because the weird girls have antlers coming out of the top of their heads,” the teacher put his hands on his head with fingers spread out. “You don’t so I’m pretty sure that doesn’t qualify you as weird. Be cool if you did though.”
“Nuh uh, it wouldn’t,” argued wouldn’t
“Sure it would, you could run in to those other kids,” said the teacher bring his head down a bit to look like he was going to ram somebody. Molly giggled.
The teacher laughed, too, and it made Molly feel better. Like her dad always was able to do when she was sad, he could always make her laugh when. “Do you mind?” said the teacher pointing to one of her pieces of paper and a crayon. She nodded it was ok. “So you have no friends here at all?”
“Well that changes this minute.”
“Silly, teachers can’t be friends.”
“Course they can.”
Molly shook her head sideways. “You’re weird,” she said, the tone of hate absent in voice.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, we weird people have more fun anyways.” Molly giggled again.
“Y’know, when they say things like that, it means that you have something they don’t have, something they can’t understand yet.”
“That’s what my friend says.”
“Oh, so you do have friends,”
“Not here, he’s the man who looks after me. He says that I’m special,” Molly hesitated.
“See I was right, what did he says make you special?”
“Well, what?” The teacher continued to scribble on the paper with his single crayon.
“He says that I can’t tell anyone that I am. I wish I could tell someone, but Matt says that it would be bad.”
The teacher stopped and looked at her eyes shining in the light. “You can tell me. We’re friends now right?”
Molly thought it over. “You promise not to tell anyone?” Molly stuck out a single pinky finger. “Pinky swear?”
The teacher locked his massive pinky with hers. “Pinky swear?”
Unhooking their fingers Molly and leaned in close to her new friend. “I can find people.”
“Really?” The teacher didn’t look at her silly or weird or anything like that. He believed her. “Anywhere?”
“Anywhere,” confirmed Molly.
The teacher turned his head side to side. “Can you keep a secret?” Molly shook her head yes. “Pinky swear?” They locked their pinkies together again and swore on their pinkies. The teacher came in close, “I’m special, too.”
Molly lit up, cheeks rosy in a smile and eyes sparkling. “Really! What can you do?”
The teacher brought her in close, cupping his hands in front of them. From inside them a light shined and a butterfly made of light fluttered up to rest on Molly’s small nose. She giggled for the third time her entire stay at this elementary school at the tingling feeling she felt as it faded away. She was as bright as the butterfly had. “That’s so cool! I wish I could do that! Can you do it again! Please! Please! Pllleeeaaasssse!”
The bell rang and a sound of displeasure came across the school yard in unison. “Maybe tomorrow, little one.”
The same sound that came from the herd of kids came from Molly’s mouth. The teacher helped her collect her stuff, “Here, this is for you.” He put the piece of paper he was drawing on top of the pile. On it was the best butterfly she had ever seen being drawn. “Really, for me?”
“Thanks, Mr. Williams,” Molly ran to the forming lines at the far end of the school building, backpack bouncing, turning to wave at her new and only best friend in school.
…To be continued.
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