Disclaimer: Firefly and the characters who appear here or are mentioned are the creations of Joss Whedon and various producers and the WB; etc; they are not mine.
Heroes is the creation of Tim Kring, NBC Television as the characters who appear here or are mentioned; again they are not mine and are only 'borrowed' for the purposes of the story. Notes: The story picks up shortly after where "Ten Little Indians" left off.
"All Your Tomorrows" by Karen
The man once known as Gabriel Gray, and through both circumstance and his own peculiar inclinations had effectively erased all memories and lingering traces of who and what that other individual had once been now considered himself thoroughly as Sylar, woke up on the hard=packed tiled floor of a large rather sparsely furnished
He blinked and fumbled at the carpeting with his fingernails feeling but not actually seeing as they came loose from the floor and slid around. A few seconds he rolled over onto his back and looked up the ceiling realizing without actually being aware that the pattern in the tiles had been replicated in the ceiling.
Sylar spit a wad of saliva onto the carpet in an attempt to rid himself of a taste of rusty nails in his mouth and sat up. His head ached and his muscles twitched with a none
subtle hint that it was protesting this sudden change in position; however he ignored the twinges and the various aches and pains of his body and forced himself to stand up. He reeled for a few seconds but managed to remain upright; and then began to take stock of his surroundings.
His initial impression of being in s sparsely furnished room had not been far off the mark for the room had been afforded or the bare minimal of furnishings, a metallic-looking wrap around desk that, a couch, and a table with a rather powerful looking laptop computer.
In addition to these items there was also a handful of chairs scattered around that appeared to have been added as afterthought instead of corresponding to any notion of interior design. Overall, the room and its furnishings gave off the overall impression that the room's owner went form function over form.
Sylar could appreciate that; in fact, he might well hold himself to the same standard, but that was when he was in the pursuit of own goals.
He shoved the thought to a back corner of his mind and strode over to see what else he could learn outside of his immediate surroundings and with a minimal of fuss figured out how to operate the computer..
He shrugged and continued to work; he had managed to bypass the various layers of the security protocols and had come upon a screen with the logo of something called the Alliance which had then prompted him to key an a password when an intruder alarm went off.
In the back of his mind, Sylar thought, "rather belated, but I suppose it was only a matter of time before my presence was noticed. If it matters, perhaps I should be irritated that they haven't noticed me prior to this.'
The Operative registered the intruder alarm in his own quarters as he registered everything else with the preternatural calm that he had garnered such a renowned and perhaps even well-deserved reputation.
He continued to march down the metallic corridors of the Alliance base on the planet Ariel. The armed platoon of soldiers following in lock-step in the rear. With a whispered word of command he dismissed them and they turned and left once he had reached the door to his quarters and keyed in the access code.
He turned his head slightly and watched them go. "Most likely it is nothing more than a computer malfunction, and even has managed to enter my quarters announced and unwelcome, well, they shall soon live to regret their foolhardiness; and if not, they can be easily dealt with.'
The Operative entered the room and immediately saw that someone was indeed there and seated in his chair in front of his computer; a human male approximately two meters in height, dark hair, dark eyes. That dark-haired head was at the moment bent over something that he had been studying on the computer screen, but had shot up like a cobra's head upon hearing his footsteps approaching.
There followed several intense seconds of mutual regard and sizing up. He had seen many, from the young to the old, react to his prescience, most had known when their number was up, known who he was, what he did in his capacity of serving the Alliance, whoever or whatever this man was he passed that initial few seconds of sizing up with remarkable calm and even, if he were to admit to no one else; a great deal of cool courage.
The dark-haired human male looked as if he had fought and survived more than a few battles in his time even if none of the wounds were immediately apparent.
"You are trespassing," the Operative said. His attention on the stranger never once wavering but at the same time he made certain that he would have immediate access to his weapons should the man draw a weapon or appear likely to attack. With a wave he silenced the intruder alarms.
"I had little choice in the matter," replied Sylar with a nonchalant shrug. "But under the circumstances it would seem that whereabouts are the least of my concerns."
"It is my duty to inform that breaking and entering is a crime, punishable by the sternest means possible under Alliance law," he replied.
"Who the hell are you?"
"I am known as the Operative."
"I am Sylar. He then burst out laughing' a harsh, grating, mocking sound that would not have been out of place on a jackal.
"I get the distinct impression that I have the honor of being in the presence of the judge, jury and executioner, " said Sylar when he finally brought his emotions and reactions once more firmly under his control.
The Operative shrugged and outwardly his stance never altered an iota. However, he mentally took another look at the younger man; that arrogant tilt to the head, the glint of intelligence and upon further reflection, a burning anger and a streak of violence that seemed only barely reined in by sheer force of will; this was no run-of-the mill intruder looking to hack into the Alliance database.
"Very well, Sylar. Give me one good reason why I should not shoot you on the spot?" he finally asked.
"Aside from my own vested interest in continuing my own existence, yes?"
"Aside from that." The Operative nodded and approached the other man, noting how the other reacted; 'Like a cornered tiger,' he thought.
"Because I think we can be of much further use to each other alive than dead," Sylar replied with a nonchalant shrug of his own that echoed that of the Operative from earlier.
The man was good,. Very good, he either knew who and what Sylar and was keeping any reaction from showing on his face or through his body language or he did not. Either way, there was every reason to milk this opportunity for everything it was worth; and no reason not to do so.
"Indeed," the Operative replied.
"Tell me what Project Ariel is, first and how to access more details about and I'll show you.
Sylar grinned. "A bargain. He pushed the chair away from the desk and stood up conscious all the time that the man had not taken his eyes off of him the entire time he had been in the process of shifting positions.
"As a matter of fact, " the Operative remarked, abruptly changing the lines of his questioning. "You do remind me of someone else of my recent acquaintance, a young man aboard a ship named "Serenity." Do you know a certain Peter Petrelli?"
For the first time the Operative saw shock, anger and surprise widen the deep set dark eyes. Sylar then added a terse. "I know him."
"Then we have something in common. I had contemplated going after and apprehending this young man and you might very well be useful to me in accomplishing that."
For his part Sylar nodded and allowed the smallest glimmer of darkly satisfied smile to crease his lips. "Agreed."
Mal had wanted answers in a powerful bad way, as he so quaintly put it, and Peter had done his best to provide them. The fact that he was still very much attempting to learn everything he could about his new environment and the fact that everything he had known in the past was gone or at least out of reach by at least several centuries had considerably hampered his ability to provide a coherent account of his presence in this particular time line.
Added to that was the fact that from the get-go he had been a proverbial fish out of water learning about his own unique abilities even as the tide of circumstances pushed and pulled him in different directions; along with the machinations of others, including those of his own family.
It had been difficult for Mal as well, but at least he had given his grudging consent to allow Peter to remain aboard ship. Peter felt he should be grateful that the man had not simply tossed him out the nearest airlock at worst, or at best left him on some remote planet to fend for himself.
Peter thought about that as he tied up the laces of his new leather boots Mal had loaned him to replace the worn-out shoes he had been wearing when he first appeared in the small, crowded but still quite adequate infirmary. In addition to the boots he had also been given spare clothing by the others. Now, almost three weeks later by his own reckoning, he had been at least tacitly accepted as an indefinite passage if not a member of the crew.
The door opened and River glided in, that was the only way to adequately describe the way she moved. He had been told and told by Mal and the other members of the crew that River was much more than she appeared; and in the space of the weeks had been aboard Peter had learned that for himself. Added to that was the fact the Simon Tam had made it quite clear that he did not welcome anyone making any advances toward his sister.
If she had been an ordinary girl Peter could well understand that Simon's somewhat obsessive compulsive need to protect his sister was well-placed.
The fact that she had been turned into some kind of 'weapon' by the Alliance, even more so. He could relate. The fact that he felt drawn to her as both a girl and as well, let's be honest with ourselves here, Pete, a fellow freak,' well, it's something we both have in common.'
"Hi," he said aloud when she paused at the entrance before entering all the way into the room.
"Hi," River whispered softly. She was not given much to thinking overly much for the reasons and motivations behind her actions; she was simply not wired that way, but somehow since Peter Petrelli had quite literally crashed into her life and by extension the lives of the others, without even realizing it he seemed to be able to provide a soothing counterbalance to the white noise inside of her head.
For his part Peter realized that he was not as uncomfortable around her. "You are so alone."
"It's okay, really," replied Peter. "I'm used to it."
"It's not good to be all the time alone. I can hear it, in their thoughts, movements, with and without words, I can hear, sense it, almost taste it."
"Does it hurt?" Peter could not have said what prompted him to ask that question, maybe it was the fact that he had training as a nurse even before he had known about people with extraordinary abilities, or maybe it was the fact that he suddenly wanted to reach and establish some kind of connection with this waif-like but dangerous little girl.
"Sometimes, but I think you have been hurt more than I have in some ways. I do not understand, not entirely, but it's there. I can see it in your eyes." River glided forward and sat down on the bed beside Peter, and there followed a minute or more of uncomfortable squirming and silence before River looked up into his eyes and their gazes locked and held before she added in a husky whisper. "Just hold me. Please.
Inara Serra, going into the session would never have been able to adequately explain what had motivated her to take the action she had; given her training as a Companion and overall general impression about such things: in the dark were pretty much alike, until she had met Mal.
Peter had long since stopped trying to figure out how the explosion over the skies of New York City had propelled at least several centuries into a future timeline where the Earth as he knew it had long since been depopulated and its former inhabitants had gone into space and settled on worlds such as the one where he had been enjoying listening to the tales told by the gentle but gruff old man introduced to him by Captain Mal Reynolds as Shepherd Book.
He had enjoyed nearly a whole afternoon's worth of storytelling, camaraderie, and relaxation, the good hearty meal of a beef broth soup warming his stomach and making a bit sleepy when the gentle night was interrupted by a rustling at the edge of the campsite.
The last person in the 'verse,' that Peter Petrelli had ever expected to see appeared out of the brush and into plain sight. Either oblivious or not caring at his being so utterly exposed. Standing behind his old enemy was the man the Firefly crew called the Operative.
"Peter Petrelli, I presume?" Sylar remarked, for all the world as if two strangers meeting for the first time in a coffee shop.
"You know this guy? Jayne Cobb rattled off scrambling to his feet as well.
"I know him," replied Peter in a hushed monotone. "Sylar. I thought you were dead or at least far, far, away."
River did not say anything merely stood up and dusted of the dirt and grime from her skirts. "In order to get at him, you must go through me."
"Hiding behind a women's skirts, Peter, tsk, tsk, I expected better from you," replied Sylar with a practiced sneer.
"How the hell did you get here," Peter demanded.
"By ship, just like you, but if you mean how did we both end up in this time," Sylar trailed off and shrugged. "I haven't the foggiest. And for the record I might ask the same of you, but at matters stand it hardly matters, does it?"
Peter heaved a sigh and realized that it really did not. In the back of his mind he was going over every detail of what he knew of Sylar's capabilities and talents and both the pros and cons of his last fight with the other man; and what each of them had taken away from that conflict.
"I guess not. What the hell do you want. If it's a rematch you're looking for," Peter shrugged and twisted his body slightly to one side affecting to give Sylar the impression through body language and his own tone that he did not give a damn one way or the other what his presence meant and then added. "You're wasting your time. I'm not interested."
"As much as I would enjoy a rematch, that is not what I'm here for." Sylar replied and then with gesture and an arupbt nod of his head. "It seems that even in the future you can managed to land yourself in rather prickly predicament. It seems that you are now a wanted man."
"What are you babbling about?" Peter demanded.
"You are under arrest." Sylar smirked.
"You have gotta be kidding me!" Peter turned around to stare directly at Sylar since the first time he had appeared. "Who in their right man would hire you to work on the side of law enforcement?"
"Danko for one. Do you remember him? Don't bother answering that. It seems that your presence has not been overlooked or forgotten," said Sylar and then folded his arms across his chest and waited for someone else to join him on the edge of the campsite. "There's a warrant out for your arrest and any of those who were found in your company, which include Simon and River Tam, and Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew.
"Do I at least get to know what I'm being charged with?" asked Peter.
"If you insist," replied a carefully modulated voice. "Well met again, Mr. Petrelli. It seems that I should have been more proactive in acquiring you upon our first meeting. Rest assured, I shall not make the mistake a second time."
"You bastard!," Mal Reynolds grated out in a harsh gasp as he scrambled to his feet with his side arm already drawn, aimed and sighted on the man know as the Operative; and given his history with the man Mal completely bypassed and ignored Sylar.
Had he been able to think through the anger that engulfed him at that particular moment Mal would have stopped to size up the odds, press Peter for more details about how and who this Sylar was and why he would ally himself with the Operative, however at the moment all Mal could see was the Operative and the need to gain some measure of satisfaction against his enemy.
Book restlessly stirred from his seated position around the campfire; even without understanding the particulars of the situation he had known Mal Reynolds long enough to know that in his present mindset the worst thing he could do was jump into the fray. Book stood up and placed one restraining hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Wait," he whispered in an undertone.
"Wait, for what?" asked Mal. "I, I am not certain. But I have the distinct feeling that the order for the arrest of the Tams is merely a reflex action on the part of the Operative."
"Damn Gorram,,, Mal muttered a string of curses in a mangled combination of Standard and badly accented Chinese never noticing that Zoe and Wash had come from gathering extra firewood to stand to take up positions beside him and Shepherd Book.
"Sir," Zoe added. "He might be right about that. Look, he's waiting for something else to happen. Whoever this Sylar is, he doesn't give a damn about River or the Doc."
"How do you mean?" asked Mal, some but not all of the tension slipping out of his tensely held frame like water through a sieve. As badly as he wanted to gain a measure of revenge for everything that the Operative had done to him over the years and perhaps through him for the way he felt about the Alliance, reason and common sense and his own sense of adventure outweighed his need to know what or who this fellow Sylar was and what he wanted with Peter Petrelli.
There was a connection here, a history, and Mal Reynolds was bound and determined to find out what it was; hopefully without annoying getting too badly roughed up in the process.
"It's been a long time, Peter, "Sylar remarked taking studied note of everyone else in the campsite. "I see you've managed all right for yourself.
"A part of my orders require that I inform you, in order yourself and those with you a world of hurt, is that you come quietly," replied Sylar with a nonchalant shrug. "If you resist or attempt to escape, well then, we will have no choice but to use force to subdue you."
"You're on the side of the law, What idiot hired you?" Peter demanded.
"He did," Sylar replied with a jerk of his head in the general direction of the Operative.
"Does he know.."?
"Of course he knows. I told him."
"What the hell are you talking about, Petrelli," demanded Zoe.
"It's complicated, and I'm not certain I have time to adequately explain it, but you'd all best clear away to a safe distance," replied Peter and then shrugged. In the back of his mind Peter realized that sooner or later he would be forced to chose whether or not to use/reveal his powers to his new friends. He had told Mal and the others enough to gain his place aboard ship, but they all knew that it might not last.
"Like me, like me," River muttered.
Sylar turned and said. "Do you plan to resist arrest?"
"He's goading you. Don't give him what he wants," advised Mal.
"I know, I know, Mal, but I don't think I have a choice.
Jayne shouldered past where Peter and his friends stood and hefted a large heavy gun over one shoulder.
He then locked and primed and aimed a energy beam at Sylar. As the bright beam of deadly light streaked across the distance that separated them Jayne muttered an oath as the hand that held the weapon was grazed by the rough surface of the metal casing as an invisible force wrenched out of his grip. Startled Jayne stumbled in a rough tussock of ground and feel over backwards.
The gun flew across the air, landed on the ground and finally vanished into a stand of rough ground cover. "Fool! Stay out of this!" Sylar hissed at the big man.
"What the hey?" Jayne muttered.
All the while Peter had his gaze locked on his old enemy. "Leave them out of this?"
"Agreed. Sylar nodded and the knuckles of his clenched fist began to glow with an eerie blue glow.
Peter stepped forward and his own hands began to glow blue. Before anyone could think to interfere or take any measures to stop this, the two began to exchange wild coruscating beams of blue energy that emanated from their hands; the effort of the expenditures of energy that the two opponents were expending evident from the expressions on their faces, the set of their shoulders and how they held themselves.
Streaks of light that went wide of the intended mark bounced and caromed off rocks and boulders, and every once while as they made contact with rough stands of dry grass, set fire to the ground cover.
"Hot Damn, " Wash muttered under his breath at one point when the combatants without a word being exchanged had agreed by mutual consent to take a breather. "I see it, but I still don't believe it."
River smiled and said. "let the truth dazzle gradually, or all men be blind. It is like two sides of the same coin: heads or tails."
"They're too evenly matched," muttered Zoe.
Peter recovered first and waited for Sylar to stagger to his feet only partially conscious of the commentary and opinions of his friends who had taken up a position of relative safety where they also had a good vantage to watch the fight.
He cursed under his breath, when he had finally come to terms with his life and his newfound powers both back in his own world and now this brave new world: it seemed the powers that be conspired to bring the one foe he would be fated to fight again and again. Perhaps Zoe was right in her assessment: they were too evenly matched and Sylar would finally succeed in killing him. Or worse, he would take him to be studied like a lab rat under the orders of his new employers, the Alliance.
In the back of his mind Peter came to the realization that scenario might actually be worse than dying.
With that thought preying on him, Peter abruptly made the decision to change tactics and stopped hurling electric energy bolts and run forward in the manner of a line backer in the midst of a full blitz and tackle Sylar around the waist and then let go, shoving him with every bit of strength he could muster under the circumstances.
"Thank you, Dr. Suresh," Peter muttered under his breath.
Startled at both the suddenness and the force of the blow Sylar was hurtled backward until he came up to fetch up against the trunk of a tree. "Took me by surprise," he muttered when recovered his breath and staggered to his feet.
When came back into the campsite he discovered that the Operative was in the midst of explaining that that this had been merely a fact-finding mission and that while the warrant for the arrest of the Tam was still outstanding he would be willing to overlook it."
"What are you doing?" Sylar demanded.
"My job," the Operative replied.
"Well, it seems to me that you're not doing it very well. By your admission and the data file we have on them, that one if not both are wanted fugitives, replied Sylar.
"As for your, 'friend." Let us just say I will have to consult with my superiors as what is to be done with him. You say there were many more like yourselves where you hail from?"
"Yes," replied Peter with a gasp. "However, I very much doubt the information will do either you or the Alliance much good. Our being here must be some kind of temporal fluke, but don't ask me to try and explain any further beyond that. I am, or was an paramedic; time travel gives me a massive headache."
"Indeed." For now, you will remain aboard the Serenity"
"I don't need some high muckety-mucky yes-man for the Alliance to dictate terms to me," interrupted Mal.
"Those are my terms, Captain Reynolds." The Operative turned to the fuming brown-cloaked, brown-haired man. "I strongly suggest you accept them."
For a few tense seconds Mal appeared more inclined to attempt to shove the terms back as far as he could, chewing his lower lip, but at last with a quick jerk of his head, Mal replied. "Agreed. But for the record, I do not have to like it."
"I saw it with my own eyes, and I still don't believe it," remarked Wash to Zoe a day or so later after the dust-up between Peter Petrelli and the man he had named Sylar.
"Relax, hon," said Zoe. "Sure it was weird but I honestly don't think Peter would turn on us."
"How do you know that," demanded Wash.
"I couldn't say exactly," replied Zoe, "You could just chalk it up to woman's intuition and leave it at that."
"Darndest sight my eyes have ever beheld, and I've been out in the Black a lot longer than you have, pup, and I can tell you that I've seen a lot of strange things, but guys shooting electric blue lighting at each other, and moving stuff around just by thinking about it; nah, aint' never seen anything like that before," Jayne Cobb interrupted.
Continued in chapter 4: "Always Darkest Before the Dawn"