Audrey's voice sounded very tinny over the phone. "Okay, we're good to go. Do you need to know our location for this or-"
"Nope, I'm halfway there already," I said, closing my eyes.
Astral projection is a very finicky thing. It's actually a bit like having control over two bodies at once- one of which you're blind, deaf, and otherwise senseless in unless you concentrate really, really hard, the
other in which you're incorporeal no matter what you do. To accomplish what I needed to accomplish, I had to be able to astral project myself to the FBI's temporary headquarters, and be able to speak to them over my cell phone using my physical body. I wasn't entirely sure I could do that. Not for a long period of time, anyway; the most I'd managed to date was a "Yes, Appa". And to do this properly, I'd likely need to be able to stay incorporeal for hours.
I concentrated on Audrey's location, and when I opened my eyes, she was right in front of me.
"Okay," I said concentrating on moving my physical lips. "Can you hear me?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't we?" muttered a guy with a purple tie. He took a bite out of his bagel, getting a smear of cream cheese on his cheek.
"You have something on your face," I said. He didn't respond. "Hello, am I not coming through? You in the purple tie, you have cream cheese all over your face."
He blinked, then wiped the smear off with a grin. "Huh, so she can do what she says she can do."
"No duh," I replied, rolling my eyes (a gesture, which, of course, no one could see). "So, just to recap, I'm walking around the enemy base, and telling you who and what to expect, right."
Bagel man mouthed 'enemy base?' to a nearby agent, who grinned back at him. Both Audrey and I ignored them.
"That's the plan," Audrey confirmed.
"Okay, I'll just get to it, then," I answered. "Try not to have too much fun while I'm gone."
"Cute," Bagel man muttered as I walked through the door and into the street.
Once more, I ignored him, "Okay, so I take it at least some of you are simply going in the front door?"
"That'd be right," Audrey replied, sounding distant now that I was simply listening to her voice over the cell phone back at the Petrelli mansion.
"Okay," I walked across the street and turned left. The place where Sylar was staying was three blocks away, just another high-priced apartment building surrounded by high-priced apartment buildings; actually, it might have even been slightly shabbier than the surrounding ones. The inside wasn't much different from what I imagine any other building in the area would have. I scoped out the stairs, the service entrances, and the fire escapes before making a pass through the area where the villains were actually living.
Then things changed.
There were guards, of course; that Fred guy, a burly red-haired man who kept idly setting fire to his hand and then putting it out again, and a woman called Darla Morgan, a telekinetic who was similarly juggling several balls with her mind. I made note of them to Audrey, then passed between them.
And almost walked into Sylar, who was chugging milk straight from the bottle.
"Could you not do that?" a man groused in an Australian accent from the couch. I didn't recognize him, but his ability soon became apparent as, when Sylar ignored him he glared at the milk bottle, with frothed a little and caused Sylar to do a spit take.
"It's disgusting," the man continued. Sylar raised an eyebrow, and the now spoiled milk flung itself off the floor and into the other man's face.
"You're disgusting," he replied. The man angrily wiped the milk off his face, and glared at Sylar, who's eyebrows promptly caught on fire. Sylar responded by pulling the man's leg out from under him, before using his freezing power to put out the flames.
The man picked himself off the floor, and was just about to glare at Sylar again when he was thrown against the wall.
"Don't bother getting up," he ordered before walking away. I followed him.
"Molly?" Audrey's voice came through.
"Still here," I replied, then, releasing that she couldn't hear my astral voice, repeated it.
"Anything interesting?" she asked. I watched as Sylar took an iPod out of his pocket, and turned it on.
"Yeah. New guy; Australian, long brown hair in a pony tail, seems to have heat vision or something. Just picked a fight with Sylar, got his-"
"Yes, Sylar," I confirmed. "He's currently listening to-" I checked the display. "Jennifer Lopez? Huh. I always kind of figured him for a punk sort of guy."
Audrey didn't seem to have a response to that, so I watched Sylar lean casually against the wall for a minute more.
"Anyone else?" she asked after a while.
"Dunno," I grunted, still looking at Sylar. He'd started beating out a complicated rhythm on the wall with his fingers. "Haven't checked yet."
"Well get moving," she ordered. "We haven't got all night."
I gave a noncommittal hum and turned around; then Adam Monroe flung open the door in front of me and stalked right through my incorporeal body.
"Whoa!" I yelped. "Six o'clock!"
"Adam Monroe just walked right through me," I clarified, wheeling around. Adam was standing in front of Syar, waiting in the same impatiently patient way Appa sometimes did for the other man to acknowledge his presence. "Seems like he wants to pick a fight with the Boogeyman too."
"Sylar," I grunted back, grateful that no one could see me blushing. It's nice to know that no matter how serious the situation is, all your childhood issues can still crop up to put a cramp in your style.
Speaking of which… Sylar took an earbud out of his ear. "Something you wanted, Adam?"
"A word? In my office, if you don't mind," he said in a polite manner that was vaguely reminiscent of Mrs. Petrelli.
"Of course," Sylar replied sarcastically, beaming. "After you."
"They don't seem to get along," I observed, following the pair down the hallway.
"Really?" It was hard to tell whether she was being sarcastic or not, so I answered as though she wasn't.
"Yeah. That makes sense, I guess. The whole reason Sylar's Sylar is because he doesn't want to share power with anyone. Adam being in charge must suck for him," I speculated, not bothering to disguise the glee in my voice.
Audrey said something I couldn't hear.
"What?" I asked.
"Are you following them?" she demanded.
"Yeah, of course I am," I replied. "Why?"
"Because they're likely to be discussing their plans for tonight. And because you're right- Sylar hates being under Adam's command. As far as we can figure, he's not even second in command. That's Reiko Kusanagi."
"The Japanese woman?" I asked. "Didn't know she had a name."
"Why wouldn't she have a name?" Audrey asked.
"I don't know," I shrugged. "There's this guy my father works with. They've known each other for years, but he's only referred to as the Haitian."
"That's…odd," Audrey said. "Are they talking yet?"
"Hold on a minute, they just entered an office," I said. Both men bypassed the desk in favor of walking towards the bookcase in the back. Adam casually pulled a dictionary off of one of the shelves, which swung open to reveal another, smaller room.
"Ooh, secret room," I remarked. "We're just hitting all the great villain clichés today, aren't we?"
"Can you tell me anything a bit more helpful?" Audrey snarked.
"Okay, we just left Adam's office, which is, after you enter his apartment, number 2087, past the kitchen, down the hall, and the last door on the left. There's a secret door hidden by a bookcase- I didn't see how that opened, sorry- and now they're talking, so I 'll let you know how that turns out."
Audrey didn't respond.
"-keep a low profile tonight," Adam was saying, smiling in a smooth politician way.
Sylar looked unfazed. "I don't see how that'll be possible, what with everything going on. We're making history tonight, Adam. There's not going to be a way to contain it."
"Yes, we are making history. And no, it won't be contained. Why do you think I leaked the news about the FBI to the press But you're not going to be with us, Sylar."
"You're going to need me to take care of the Company operatives."
"I've been dealing with the Company for longer than you've been alive," Adam scoffed. "Don't presume-"
"That you were actually locked up for longer than I've been alive?" Sylar questioned smugly, rocking back on his heels. Adam looked shocked, and Sylar's grin widened. "Petrelli and I had a very interesting conversation last time we met up."
"I'm sorry," Adam snapped, looking furious with himself. "Am I actually supposed to be impressed that you got information out of-"
"If we could move this along?" A soft voice queried from the corner of the room. The Japanese woman- Reiko Kusanagi, I guess, I never did find out if that was really her name- pushed herself off the wall, a strode to where the two men.
"Something you want to say dear?" Adam queried.
"Only to elaborate," she purred, before turning to Sylar. Immediately, all traces of affection melted off her face. "We want you fighting. We don't want you killing the operatives in your normal distinctive fashion.
"Excuse me?" Sylar asked incredulously. "And how exactly am I supposed to get more powers if I don't open their skulls?"
"You're not," Adam replied bluntly.
"What?" Sylar's voice had gone low and dangerous. He meant business now.
"Think of it as a test," she soothed insincerely. "The less trouble you cause, the more we know we can trust you. The more we know we can trust you, the more powers you'll be allowed to cull."
"And what makes you think I won't simply take your abilities?"
His voice was still gravely- I shivered. It was the voice I associated with being shoved into the closet, the voice he'd used as my vision blacked out and goo clogged my throat. It was the voice he used to inform you that your time was up, that he was getting his way one way or the other, and you could either get out of the way or get murdered.
Adam and his companion weren't nearly as impressed by this fact as I was.
"For the simple fact that if we didn't have something you needed, you would have tried already," Adam replies.
Sylar has no answer to that. I smiled, as their already tense three-way standoff becomes even more so. I walked around so that I was facing the Japanese woman.
"Now what do you have," I muttered. "That he wants, besides your powers?"
Her posture shifted so that her eyes met mine, a freaky coincidence, or so I though. Then she spoke.
"Like what you see, Molly?"
I snapped back into myself, collapsing as I did. I lay there for a moment, gasping for breath. In front of me, Micah turned around, startled. Audrey's voice came over the speakerphone.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," I babbled, still drawing in great gulps of breath. "I- oh God. You're right. She's definitely higher up on the food chain than Sylar."
"Kusanagi?" she asked.
"Yeah," I answered, sitting up straighter. "Yeah, she- she just ordered him to not take anyone's power tonight. And," I let out a half-hysterical sort of giggle. "And she can see me."
"Fuck," Audrey cursed.
"Yeah, that's about what I was thinking," I replied. My heart rate slowly but surely returned back to normal, and I took one last fortifying breath before forcing myself to keep that steady as well. "But- I don't think she can trap me. She can just see me. I mean, if she could trap me, she would have done so, right?"
It seemed like pretty solid logic to me. But then again, I was twelve. Self-restraint wasn't a trait I'd ever encountered in a villain before.
"I'm going back," I said decisively.
"Molly, no!" Audrey shouted.
"But I can-"
"No," she repeated.
"Why not?" I asked. "It's not like you can stop me. It's not like you couldn't use the intel."
There was a pause from the other end of the line. "I could disregard it."
"You wouldn't. You know it's accurate- it would be irresponsible not to use it," I argued.
"I'd tell your father."
Crap. That would be bad. "He'd be angrier at you."
"I don't live with him."
That was true. She didn't live with Dad- she didn't know, then, how far he'd be willing to go to make sure I was safe. I did- and it went far beyond the bout of brainwashing I knew he'd use if he thought I was putting myself in danger.
"Fine," I snarled. "Don't expect much in the way of cooperation from me later, though."
I hung up. Micah, Simon, and Monty were all staring at me, open mouthed. It would have been a fairly comic sight under different circumstances.
"I am so tired," I said, to no one in particular. "Of being told what I can and cannot do."
For a long moment no one said anything. Then Monty opened his mouth to speak- and promptly disappeared into thin air.
There was a long silence of a different sort, before all hell broke loose.
"Where the fuck-"
"How did he-"
"Hold on a second," I snapped. I closed my eyes, picturing Monty's face. I looked, and I looked...
He was nowhere.
"I can't find him," I said, a note of panic in my voice.
"What do you mean you can't find him?" Simon cried.
"I mean, I can't find him!" I repeated. "He's not dead, it's different than that, but... he's nowhere."
Simon opened his mouth, but was cut off by the computer beeping repeatedly. I turned to Micah, who was staring intently at the screen. "That's a proximity alert. It's started."
There was yet another silence.
"Okay," I said quietly. "We all know the plan-"
"The plan didn't include Monty suddenly disappearing!" Simon cried.
"The plan didn't really include Monty at all!" I pointed out. Micah crouched low over his laptop, trying valiantly to ignore the entire conversation. "And before you get all righteously indignant on me, what exactly am I supposed to do. I can't find him, Si. That would be the dead end of my abilities right there."
"We can't just-"
"Nothing is the only thing we can do. Unless you have a better suggestion?"
Simon glared at me. "Give me a minute to work on something."
"Right, you do that," I replied, closing my eyes again. "Let me know how it works out."
--she flitted nervously back and forth in front of Noah, whose nervousness was present, if not quite as obvious.
"Not long now..." Noah muttered. From far away, the sounds of screaming and gunfire began--
I opened my eyes and, purposefully ignoring Simon, turned to Micah. "Are you hooked up to the Company's surveillance system?"
"I thought we were watching the FBI sting?" Micah asked.
"I have a feeling they aren't going to be making as many arrests as they thought they were," I said quietly.
Fred set fire to young woman, who scream as her flesh charred and fell away from her bones. Darla jammed the gun of her companion before throwing him against the wall. Harris ran circles around five men, pushing them closer and closer together, creating a vacuum of air where they stood. Juan grinned down at an unidentifiable person, his face completely missing. The new guy glared at the door, which began to melt.
"Actually, I have a feeling the only thing they'll be doing tonight is getting their butts kicked."
Audrey kicked at the door in frustration. The man with the purple tie loosened the said article. The agents milled about the room in varying states of distress and disgust, trapped in the penthouse. Outside, the news cameras rolled.
"It was a set up. The whole penthouse thing was a set up," I groaned. "They're hoping to wipe out a Company stronghold and humiliate the law enforcement at the same time."
Micah switched back to the cameras in the apartment building, and let out a small moan of despair. "Well, crap."
"Can you let them out?" Simon asked softly. I looked at him; he turned his eyes from me.
"Yeah, I think so," he replied, cradling the screen. Text opened in a small box towards the bottom of the screen, a scrolled by at impossibly fast speeds.
"Go as fast as you can," I said quietly, closing my eyes once more. "And tell them to go to Hartsdale. We're going to need their help."
Appa fiddled with some massive contraption worriedly.
"Mohinder, is this going to work?" Dad asked.
"There's no reason it shouldn't. This form of the virus isn't airborne, but it's virulent enough that it should be able to be transmitted orally. As long as they have their mouths open..."
Appa turned around abruptly to face Dad, looking despondent. "You know, this all started because I wanted to prevent the spread of the Shanti virus."
Dad snorted. "Hey, don't look at me like that. I didn't exactly go around looking for opportunities to trap people in nightmares."
I let out a surprised gasp. Dad's eye focused on me, horrified. "Molly?"
I snapped back into myself. I could still here Dad's voice echoing distantly in my head. Molly, was that... His voice faded.
"Keep an eye on my fathers for me, will you?" I asked, in a strangled voice.
"I'm going to have to finish this up first," he grunted.
"Well, when you're done with that, then."
I let my eyes drift closed again.
The screaming was louder now, closer. Elle had stopped pacing now, and was staring at the door, looking speculative.
"What do you think'll happen now?" she asked.
"They still have to go through the prisoners," Noah replied. "They're all here because they're dangerous. They've all been taken off their medication. Hopefully that'll cut down on their numbers a bit without cutting into ours."
He looked over to his right, and met the eyes of a young woman whose name I vaguely remembered as beginning with D- Debbie or Denise or something like that. They smiled at each other nervously.
I snapped back into my physical body, and picked up my cell phone. Elle's number appeared on the screen, the speakerphone icon following shortly afterwards.
"Now's not exactly a good time, small fry," Elle greeted me. I closed my eyes again, and concentrated on the room she and Noah were in.
"I noticed. I just thought you might be interested in knowing that they've completely abandoned their base. Not before trapping the freakin' FBI in it, but, well, the point is, they're coming here. All of them."
Elle relayed the message to Noah, who swore loudly in Russian before snatching the phone from her.
"Can you tell us which ones are headed our way?" he demanded.
The door outside their room swung open, and fog rolled into the room. Noah and Elle gagged. The cell phone clattered to the floor.
"Get out!" I screamed. I felt Noah's life blink out. "Get out now!"
"Molly!" Micah cried.
Elle's life extinguished, and I snapped back to the Petrelli mansion. I was unsurprised to find that my body was shaking when I returned to it.
"Molly!" Micah repeated. I focused on him, then on the screen behind him, which showed Sylar entering the room where my parents were.
"No," I whispered. Appa reached for the machine, but was flung back into the wall. He struggled against Sylar's hold as the serial killer advanced on Dad.
"No. No," I repeated, watching numbly as dad tried attack after mental attack, blood pouring out his nose from the effort. It was terrifying. It was horrifying. It was agonizing.
It was a nightmare.
The words were out of my mouth before I had time to think about voicing them, which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing.
"Nice try, Maury."
The Petrelli mansion melted away, and suddenly I was back in Dad's childhood home, clashing 70's decor and all. I was seated at the table, in front of a plate of pasta. Across from me was my grandfather.
You'll have to forgive the abrupt ending there. Peter Petrelli just teleported into my motel room; I'm going to need to deal with him first before I continue.