Title: Ashes to Ashes
Author: Del Rion
Era: Future, post-Heroes
Rating: T / FRT
Characters: Peter Petrelli, Sylar
Summary: Peter gains a power that proves to be more destructive than he could have ever expected in his worst dreams.
Part of the "Broken World" -series. Complete.
Warnings: Implied death, murder and destruction.
Disclaimer: The show, its characters, its places, and everything else belong to Tim Kring and other respective creators and owners of 'Heroes'. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.
Feedback: Much appreciated.
About Ashes to Ashes: How Peter and Sylar came across the power that changed their lives forever in "Deep Sleep". This is a short piece, but hopefully someone can find deep meaning in it nonetheless.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Ashes to Ashes
Author's Note: Part of the Broken World -series.
Ashes to Ashes
A branch slapped him in the face as he rushed through a thick grove. He felt the stinging burn on his cheek, then the irritating tug of drying blood on his skin as the healing power kicked in. Peter had already sprained his ankle once on the uneven forest floor, and he was feeling ridiculous for chasing after the man he could hear running ahead of him, but he knew he needed to catch him before Sylar did.
He had been planning a slow approach, but that plan had been blown to pieces when he realized Sylar was also in town, no doubt after the same man, Steven Marsh, who had an ability. The fear of Sylar had driven Peter into action, and it seemed he wasn't doing very well: Steven had taken off, terrified no doubt, unwilling to embrace his power.
In any other case Peter would have let him go, but he knew Sylar would use the opportunity once Peter wasn't standing in his way, and he wasn't going to have that; Steven was in denial, but he had to be protected.
So Peter chased him away from the small farm on the edge of the city, out into the wild, growing more and more annoyed with each step. Eventually he decided he had had enough and froze time, walking around for a bit before he found Steven, frozen in mid-jump over a small ditch.
Peter stopped before him, focused, and allowed time to plunge forward again.
Steven's feet hit the ground, and in that same instant he saw Peter. He let out a shocked sound as he tried to come to a halt. Peter reached out to steady the man, feeling the new power on the edge of his consciousness, swirling and absorbing into his collection.
"Calm down, please," Peter begged the other man.
Steven pushed away from him – Peter let him, although he would have been able to hold him still with telekinesis.
"I'm not here to hurt you. In fact, I want to help –" Peter didn't get any further before he felt something hit him in the head, and the swift urge to defend himself took over.
"Get away from me!" Steven was shouting, and he swung again at Peter with whatever he was using as a weapon.
Before he actually knew he was doing it, Peter's newest power activated, and it took them both by surprise, making them fall from their feet as the earth began to shudder beneath them.
He could taste the ash in his mouth; the dry flavor of burnt earth, small grains of sand between his teeth making him cringe every time he moved his jaw. He felt it beneath his nails too, and although it may have gone unnoticed at any other time, the sensation added to his general level of discomfort and annoyance.
Covered in ash from head to toe, Peter felt downright miserable. It wouldn't do him any good to try to wipe his hands clean because his clothes were equally covered in dirt. He shifted his feet, feeling the dull heat beneath them, then lowered his eyes and raised one foot off the ground.
Peter groaned and lowered it back.
The sole of his shoe had melted into an unrecognizable lump, and he had no desire to imagine what his feet would look like. At least there was no pain right now.
Ignoring all that for a moment, he looked around the devastated area that spread out in every direction. Nothing but layers of volcanic ash lay wherever he looked, and downhill in the distance – far too close for his liking – he could see fat ropes of smoke rising towards the sky.
"Steven?" he called out, coughing afterwards. It felt as if he was stuffed with ash, his throat raspy and itchy, chest burning. He couldn't quite remember what had happened just now…
There was no answer but a sound of clapping hands that reached his ears, and Peter whirled around to come face to face with Sylar, who despite being covered in dust and blood – a rather disgusting mix – was looking rather cheerful.
"Fantastic, Peter!" the other congratulated him, his face twisted in a smirk that beneath all the dirt could easily be mistaken for a grimace.
"Where is Steven?" Peter demanded.
Sylar stopped clapping, holding his hands together, fingers tainted red, and looked over his shoulder. "Over there, if you want to go and be a good nurse. You can check for his pulse… but I wouldn't bother."
Peter gritted his teeth – which was easy to do with all the sand in his mouth. He didn't bother asking why Sylar had killed Steven. It went well with the serial killer's logic, not to mention his insane desire to acquire every power he could – especially when Peter had acquired them first.
So, instead of exploding into an age old argument, Peter kicked the ash at his feet. It was heavy, and although he couldn't see it, he was pretty certain there was a very thick layer of it beneath him. His foot throbbed at the impact – the same one he had observed earlier – and he put it down with a small shudder.
Sylar was watching him, his dark narrowed eyes gleaming. Peter knew he was waiting for his reaction, knowing it was as sure to come as anything Peter ever did. It was infuriating that he was so predictable.
Holding his tongue, Peter looked around. Ash and dark rocks lay everywhere, like a thick layer of fresh snow, undisturbed. He tried looking further, and finally spotted a city in the distance. Peter couldn't help frowning; when he had taken off after Steven, who had been a bit upset about Peter knowing about his ability, he could have sworn the farm hadn't been that far away from the city itself.
Sylar chuckled behind him, no doubt listening to his thoughts. "Oh Peter…" he said, not outright laughing but definitely finding something about all this very amusing.
"What?" Peter finally snapped, moving around to face him.
Sylar grinned, then nodded towards the city on the horizon. "That… my God you're so naïve! That is not the city you came from; that's the next one."
Peter's temper flared, but then he stopped. He had wanted to keep himself from asking questions that were obvious, but it didn't matter when the other man could read his mind, right? "So the city we came from…?"
Sylar kicked the ash absently, yet meaningfully.
"Oh my God," Peter exclaimed, feeling sick to his stomach, which made the burning in his chest worsen.
"Nicely done," Sylar congratulated him coolly, totally ignoring the remorse and horror in the younger man's mind. "You thoroughly leveled a city of two million people. They'd never had as much as a tremor to disturb their lives, but when Steven got upset and you took his power, the two of you created a volcanic eruption that will surely be sensed two states down without any kind of seismographic help. Not to mention it will probably rain ash for a month…"
Peter shook his head and looked up to the grey sky, filled with clouds so thick even he had trouble believing he could penetrate them. "I didn't… I didn't mean to!" His heart was beating frantically in his chest as he looked around to find something to show that Sylar was lying, to prove him wrong. It had to be some kind of sick joke…
"I'm sure all who died today are very understanding, Peter, don't worry. You just got a little flustered when the man tried to beat you down with a stick. Healing power and all… Steven still looked kind of freaked out when I cut his head open."
For a second Peter was prepared to attack Sylar to shut him up, but the instant recall of all the people he had killed today held him back. He couldn't get angry. He had to stay calm. He had to make sure that nothing like this happened – ever again.
Sylar smiled and smoothed his jacket with his bloody hands, sending a powdery cloud of ash flying around him. "Good luck with that," he stated, then took flight, leaving Peter coughing and gasping in his wake when the dust settled.
"You'll see," Peter wheezed. "This will never happen again. I would rather die."
Author's Note: If you haven't read the other parts of the series, especially "Deep Sleep", that will be a fine continuation to this "prologue".