NOTE from the PHOENIX: This is a back story for a painting that I'm doing of Sylar that can be seen on my 'Home page' or over at SArmy. This is a violent story, you have been warned.

This is a one shot. I'm NOT writing a Heroes novel.

EDIT: I guess if I get enough interest I'll THINK about expanding this...

The First Rule of War

Feeling like he'd spend the previous night drinking ether Sylar fluttered his eyes open and quickly shut them once more. The splitting headache should have been the first hint that something was out of place. Since developing a talent for healing he wasn't used to experiencing pain the same way anymore. However what truly tipped him off was when he got an itch on the bridge of his nose and was unable to scratch at it.

Waking up like he'd been dropped in an ice bath Sylar snapped his eyes open. There wasn't much to look at, just a bare concrete wall with a heavy metal door. He pulled at his wrists until the restraints cut into them. As he oriented himself to his new, and unexpected, situation Sylar realized that he was on his knees.

Trying to rise to his feet a cold metal bar pressed into the back of his neck. Looking over his shoulder he found that the bar had been slung over his shoulders so that they could tie his wrists out. The bar was both held up and locked in place by similar metal rods on either end that were bolted to the floor. Swallowing hard he felt something around his neck holding him to the immobile bar as well.

Rolling his eyes in irritation Sylar attempted to call upon one of the many skills he had acquired over the years. As he attempted and fail to use several powers he became increasingly angry. Fear should have been his first reaction when a man in a fine tailored business suit stepped into the small room. Instead Sylar instantly tried to slit the man's throat psychically. When there was no satisfying spray of blood he narrowed his eyes and tried harder.

"Don't bother." The man said casually. "The IV drip keeps me safe from you."

Sylar followed the man's gaze down to his bear chest where he found a needle sunk into his flesh below his clavicle. He visually followed the IV line under his arm and then looked back and up at the drug hanging in its thick plastic bag from a standard medical stand. Returning his murderous glare to the man Sylar bared his teeth at him like a junk yard dog.

"As long as I'm conscious, you're not safe." Sylar growled. "I feel I should warn you that I won't make a good pet."

"You're not a pet, you're a rabid dog that needs to be put down."

"Who the hell are you?" Sylar spat.

"Me? You can call me...let's see... How about, 'Bishop'?"

"Bishop. Does that make me your Pawn?"

"Very good, Sylar." Bishop beamed. "I didn't expect you to be so intellectual. From everything I've read about you I figured you were just hopelessly insane."

"Yeah, well you just can't really rely on good intel these days, can you?" Sylar tried to shrug against the bar.

"No. Not really. Which is of course why you're here. I need some information straight from the horse's mouth so to speak."

"Good luck with that."

"Months, years, whatever it takes, but you will be a good boy."

"You don't know me very well." Sylar smiled sweetly.

"Perhaps not, but I think I have a fairly good idea. In fact under different circumstances I bet we could have been friends. If you had any."

"I don't need 'friends'."

"No? I think you might find that they can come in handy. Might help you through these longs nights if you knew someone was looking for you, knowing someone cares. As it is the Company will probably give me an award when I bring them your head."

"If you are just going to kill me no matter what why should I tell you anything?"

"How about a quick death? Release from torture."

"I like it rough." Sylar grinned.

"I bet."

Tired of the game they were playing Sylar bit down on his own lip hard enough to make it bleed. Licking the blood off his lips he tilted his head up slightly and spat vehemently at Bishop. The well aimed insult struck Bishop's silk jacket and stained his fine white shirt. Feeling pleased with himself Sylar stretched his neck to either side, the restraints were becoming more uncomfortably as time past.

"You know, you should be more polite." Bishop sighed as he looked down at the blood calmly. "You're not the only one around here with powers. In fact I have a power that I bet you'd love to pick out of my brain."

"The power to suck your own dick? No thanks."

"You are a witty one."

"Thanks."

Bishop contemplated his captive for a few minutes. Eventually he sighed heavily as though he was tired from dealing with a disobedient child. Sylar remained motionless, secretly still trying to slit the man open. Bishop slowly reached out and placed his hand on Sylar's shoulder.

Taken by surprise Sylar cried out as a sourceless pain lanced down though his shoulder and deep into his chest. Fighting to break free he raged uselessly against the restraints. As Bishop continued to calmly rest his hand on Sylar's skin the agony escalated. Eventually Sylar could no longer struggle.

Throwing his head back Sylar's repetitive cries echoed off the concrete walls. Bishop listened to the strained discordant song without emotion. When Sylar began to convulse in the grip of a seizure Bishop released him. The pain vanished instantly, but it took a moment for Sylar to recover from the experience. Panting for breath Sylar bowed his head and let his wrists support him for a moment.

"I've hurt everyone I've ever touched." Bishop said with a hint of sadness. "You and I are kind of alike in that respect. Of course I can't control it."

"You think I can?" Sylar whispered.

"You lead yourself down your own path, Sylar. I have no pity for you."

"I wouldn't know what to do with someone's pity anyway."

"You know, I believe you." Bishop nodded. "Let's talk about why you're here."

Sylar already knew why he was here, even if he didn't know exactly where 'here' was. More than that he had the feeling that Bishop knew that he knew it. All of this small talk had just been a demonstration of power. Sylar regathered his strength and looked up at Bishop with a blank expression.

"Where's the Key, Sylar?"

"Key?" Sylar repeated innocently.

Losing a touch of calm exterior Bishop lashed out and grabbed a handful of Sylar's hair. Sylar arched his back nearly to the breaking point as he fought to stand in an attempt to escape Bishop's supernaturally painful grip. The leather around his neck came close to killing him as he strained against it. Kept on his knees Sylar found himself screaming once again.

When his victim started shaking violently Bishop released him once again. Free from the pain Sylar roared like a wounded lion and spat a few choice curses at his tormentor. Bishop waited for him to calm down. Realizing that his fury wasn't helping Sylar settled down and stared blankly at the floor.

"The Key, Sylar."

"I swallowed it." Sylar forced a smile.

"Swallowed it?"

"Yeah. Give me a few days...I'm sure it will turn up somewhere."

Sylar looked up into Bishop's blue eyes, silently daring him to continue this dangerous game. Bishop nodded thoughtfully before reaching behind his back. Sylar saw a flash of silver, but he didn't realize that Bishop had a knife until it was sunk into his stomach. Blood jumped up into Sylar's mouth and dripped from his parted lips. He stared at Bishop in shock. Bishop twisted the blade to open the wound before ripping it out. Leaning in he brought his lips close to Sylar's ear to whisper into it.

"I don't have that kind of time..."

Feeling his life slip from the gory wound Sylar prayed that his silence would protect the one Bishop was truly after. Without his powers death would find him easier to hold onto this time. It didn't take long for the hot flow of blood to give way to darkness. What surprised Sylar was the fact that the darkness didn't last long. This time when he woke the ache in his shoulders from hanging against the restraints was instantly brought to his attention.

"You look like a man who didn't expect to wake up." Bishop's voice purred.

"Not really." Sylar admitted as he swallowed hard against his sand paper dry throat.

"Thirsty?"

"What do you care?"

"I can be reasonable."

Bishop must have been planing this merciful gesture because Sylar quickly felt a glass pressed against his lips. Sylar wasn't interested in charity but Bishop tilted the glass back giving him the option to swallow the water or drown in it. Since death wasn't a lasting solution Sylar drank the offering. Most of the water ran down his chest, mixing with the blood and sweat.

"Feel better? Good." Bishop asked and answered as he pulled the glass away. "Let's not make me kill you again. Okay? It's messy, and I doubt either one of us enjoys it."

"Then why did you do it?" Sylar hissed.

"You said the Key was in your stomach." Bishop shrugged. "I was just trying to get it."

"Don't treat me like a fool. We both know the Key is a person."

"And you're known for snacking on them from time to time."

"I just take them apart." Sylar corrected.

"And I have someone here who can put them back together again. Just as a friendly warning: we can keep you alive as long as it takes."

"You'll never be safe from me as long as you do." Sylar growled. "Let me live, and I will kill you."

Bishop smiled brightly and casually brought his hand up towards Sylar's cheek. He instinctively flinched from the man's agonizing touch. Bishop held his hand half an inch away from his victim. He chuckled at the anxious look in Sylar's eyes and put his hand back down. Sylar ground his teeth together in frustration.

"You'll break. Everyone does."

"I'll never let you have him."

"So the Key is male?"

Sylar looked away, trying to act disinterested while silently cursing himself. Bishop wasn't fooled and chuckled darkly. He stepped closer and traced his fingertip lightly across Sylar's chest. Even with just the slight contact Bishop's touch felt like acid searing through his skin, eating away at the flesh below. Just like before the longer the man stayed in contact the more agonizing the phantom sensation became. Sylar bit down on his lip to keep from crying out this time. Acting distracted Bishop removed his hand as an after thought.

"Fascinating, you know for some reason I though the Key was a woman." Bishop mulled over the new information. "Now then, what man in this wretched world could possible have earned such pure devotion from you?"

"It's me. I'm the Key."

"You know, that was my first thought. Of course I already know that isn't true."

Bishop was smarter than Sylar had given him credit for. For the first time he felt true fear creeping into his blood. Trying to calm his racing heart Sylar closed his eyes. Bishop noticed and raised an eyebrow.

"Oh," Bishop smiled "he's not a man at all, is he? He's a child. Could it be? Gabriel Gray...do you have a son?"

Sylar opened his eyes but he didn't answer. He'd clearly said too much already. He simply stared vacantly at the floor.

"That's okay, you don't have to answer. I know it's true, your expression tells me it is. First time I've seen any real fear in your eyes." Bishop mused and then paused in thought. "The mother must be someone very special. We'll find her first."

With his secret family threatened Sylar's mind was suddenly clouded by rage. He surged against the restraints hard enough to make the confident Bishop take a step back in momentary fear. When he saw that his captive wasn't going anywhere he winked at Sylar and left.

"No!" Sylar roared. "Leave them alone!"

In his continued fight for freedom Sylar place all of his power into his left leg hoping to push himself to the side hard enough to slip his left wrist through the tight cuff. Before the restraint gave way his shoulder dislocated with a sicken sound. Sylar had to give in just to keep from passing out.

After catching his breath Sylar turned to reassessing his options. He couldn't think of any information other than the whereabouts of his young son that he could bargain with. Looking down at the IV needle in his chest he discovered that his clavicle was hanging at an odd angle from the dislocation.

Instead of trying to pull away from the bar this time Sylar pushed himself up and back to raise up his chest. Using the new flexibility from the destroyed joint he was able to sink his teeth into the IV tubing. Making sure he had a good grip he lowered himself back down, ripping the needle out of his subclavian artery.

He wasn't sure how long it would take for the unknown drug to wear off. However he figured it must flush through the body quickly or they would have just been injecting him rather than risking the IV unit. Sylar concentrated on creating a small blue flame in his palm to give him a sign as to his returning abilities.

Sylar did not have wait long before a tiny bright spark danced in his hand. He poured more of his concentration into the flame. The flame suddenly burst into life. At the same time he could feel his shoulder pulling itself back into place. A slight smile tugged at his lips as he stared at the door.

Breaking both the restraints and the door was easy. He met a little resistance as he prowled the unknown compound for his prey. Breathing heavily as he stalked the concrete corridors he slaughtered everyone in his path without even looking at them. Before they could even realize what they were dealing with their throats released their blood in a flash flood of crimson.

No one even had the time to raise an alarm as the rabid wolf tore through the flock. He glanced down at a women who had just collapsed dead when she'd turned the corner. Sylar noticed a laminate badge around her neck. He shook his head in mock pity.

"Government types, too confident in your own system to even post a guard...not that it would help."

An alarm did suddenly go off as either a camera picked up on the blood bath or someone had finally stumbled across the corpses in his wake. The sound was little more than an irritation to Sylar. He could smell Bishop and he made a direct line for him. His eyes had turned blood red and the very air around him crackled with barely contained power.

Sylar knew that if he wanted to he could bath the entire area in a purging fire. However, then he wouldn't be able to watch Bishop die. Despite all of the alarms and flashing lights Sylar was able to keep his consentration. Comeing to a heavy vault door he stopped and raised his hand towards it. Bishops looked truly surprised when Sylar destroyed the thick vault door he was hiding behind. Sylar stepped into the room with a triumphant smile spread across his face. Bishop scrambled back against the wall in terror.

"Sylar, wait! We...we just want to keep him safe..."

"That's my job."

Stepping up to Bishop Sylar grabbed the man by the throat and lifted him up off the floor. The familiar pain stabbed down Sylar's arm for a moment, but he just used the pain to learn how the ability worked. Figuring it out quickly he surged the torment back up his arm and into Bishop.

Screaming at the top of his lungs Bishop kicked uselessly. Enjoying the moment Sylar drank in the scene with his calm dark eyes. He had more control over the power than Bishop had, the man had lived with the curse his entire life without ever fully understanding it. It wouldn't take much more effort to use it to kill, but before he did Sylar backed off. Still held by the throat Bishop stared at Sylar, silently begging for mercy. When he saw that was pointless a touch of awe entered Bishop's expression.

"How, how did you even get free?"

"Tisk, tisk, Bishop." Sylar chastised with a lupine grin. "You forgot the first rule of war."

"Wa...war?"

"Never underestimate your enemy...particularly if that enemy happens to be me."