I know you're all anxious to find out what happens so I won't trouble you with my A/Ns now. I won't even make you read a disclaimer because if you don't know by now that Twilight & Heroes don't belong to me there's just no getting through to ya.
WARNING: this chapter contains violence and major goriness. Do NOT read right before or after eating!
Chapter 1: Dead Man Walking
Flashback - day after the Pinehearst explosion
The man kept back, watching the city morgue from across the street. It was closing time, yet the coroner hadn't left. The man tapped his foot impatiently. Come on, hurry the hell up already! Those dead people'll still be there tomorrow. A smirk curled the corners of his mouth. At least most of them will.
At long last the coroner emerged, followed by an overweight NYPD detective. The man's eyes narrowed. What the hell? The FBI just talked to him, so what's this fatso doing here? A closer examination told him that this wasn't just any cop with a stereotypical fondness for doughnuts - this was a telepathic fatso. Coincidence? Or something more? The man filed this away in his memory and then put it out of mind; he was on a mission, and nothing would distract him from completing it.
He broke into the morgue once he was positive it was deserted, crept past the administrative offices, crematorium, and autopsy rooms to the cold storage room where the bodies were kept, and pulled open drawers until he found the one he was looking for. Then he placed his palm on the corpse's chest, sending a jolt of his own power through it.
The man's power gave Arthur Petrelli the boost he needed to break Bella's block on his powers; after that his regeneration and revival were instantaneous. He sat up, pleased when he saw the man. "Good to see phase one of our contingency plan went off with no complications."
The man frowned. "There was a telepath here earlier. Don't know if his being here had anything to do with you or Pinehearst, but if it did that could be a complication."
"At the moment a single telepath is the least of our worries. What happened to Pinehearst?"
"Blown up and burned to the ground. Dr. Suresh wasn't inside at the time of the explosion, was he?"
"No, it just so happens that the good doctor escaped night before last, taking one of our test subjects with him." Arthur scowled; such a thing happening right under his nose really rankled. "But never mind him now."
"Never mind him? How are we supposed to make the formula work without him? Without him our whole project's kaput!"
"Relax, Mitch - we don't need Dr. Suresh anymore. Last night I found out what's been missing from the formula."
General Mitchell Grande finally cracked one of his rare genuine smiles. "What is it?"
"Not what, Mitch - who. You just focus on phase two and leave the rest to me."
Arthur decided to wait until the new labs were set up before going after the girls again; it did no good to have the catalyst with no formula to use it on. Unfortunately, setting up labs took time. Weeks dragged past - first one, then two, then three, then an entire month. And then another few weeks. Even more frustrating, Arthur had to stay holed up in the general's base while the facilities got finished. It wouldn't do for a supposedly dead man to be walking around where anyone could see him.
Finally his phone beeped, signaling the delivery of the text message he'd been waiting to receive: Building 26 set up & fully operational. Get the catalyst. Arthur left right away.
Locating his first target was all too easy - there was only one Swan family in Forks, and their address was listed in the Yellow Pages, where anyone could find it. This pleased Arthur, as it obviously meant the Swan girl thought he was dead, giving him the element of surprise. Or it could have meant she didn't think he was dead and was simply too stupid to hide from him, but he doubted that was the case. A stupid girl couldn't have defeated him, even temporarily.
Peter and Claire's address was not listed in the phone book; in fact there was no indication that they lived in Forks at all. Well, Arthur would have been disappointed if Peter'd made finding them too easy, however irrationally. Mitch had said several times that since Peter wasn't on their side they should wish for him to be a bit less bright than he was. Arthur could see his point, but still... Maybe there's some hope for that boy yet. He blew up my company even though I never would've guessed he had the stomach for that kind of destruction, and he kept himself and Claire hidden from me for a long time. He's not as weak as I used to think. Was it strange to be proud of his son's defiance when it had caused a huge setback in his plans? Perhaps, and yet Arthur was.
Nathan had always been his favorite - the one most like him - but Nathan's mind had been far too easy to control; he hadn't put up the fight Angela used to, the resistance that made Arthur love her a tiny bit more. And then he'd failed to kill Bella Swan. She'd been right there, he'd had the gun, and somehow she'd walked away unharmed. What a letdown. Maybe that was why Arthur hadn't brought Nathan in on the Building 26 operation...
He cleared away these thoughts with a shake of his head and telekinetically unlocked the house's front door.
Police Chief Charlie Swan was stretched out on the sofa, enjoying a football game and a cold beer. Upon hearing the door swing open, he jumped up to meet the intruder - who turned out to be an unarmed man of around his own age, dressed in an expensive business suit. Not your average burglar. "What the-?"
Arthur sent out a telepathic probe, overwhelming Charlie's virtually nonexistent resistance easily. Is your daughter at home?
Charlie blinked dazedly. "Yeah, she got home about twenty, thirty minutes ago. She's upstairs."
Call her down - without mentioning me.
"Okay, sure. Bells," Charlie hollered, "can you come down here?"
"Be there in a sec!" she shouted back. She ran down the stairs and headed straight for the kitchen, not even glancing into the living room. Arthur followed her, Charlie trailing aimlessly after him, and found her at the stove, peering into a simmering pot of pasta. Determining that her dinner was in no danger of burning she turned away, asking why she'd been called...and froze when she saw Arthur. "You?" she whispered. "You can't be here - you're dead!"
"Hello again, Miss Swan," Arthur politely greeted her. He might be going to kill her, but there was no reason to be rude about it. "I can understand your mistake - you burned down my company headquarters with me inside, and I wasn't able to heal for hours afterward. I'm intrigued as to how you interfered with my powers for so long after you'd left; it's nice to know I'll get something useful from you besides the catalyst." He stepped forward, but she ducked under his outstretched arm...
...And ran smack into her father. "Dad c'mon, we've gotta get out of here!" She shielded his mind, freeing him from Arthur's telepathic control.
Charlie instantly came back to himself and grabbed his loaded gun off its hook. "All right buddy, I don't know what you think you're doing, but you better clear out now or I will put a slug in your kneecaps."
Arthur sighed. He'd come here with one simple objective: get the girl, extract Claire's location from her mind, get Claire, get out. This schmuck of a sheriff was just an unnecessary annoyance. With a well-aimed burst of telekinetic energy, Arthur sliced neatly through Charlie Swan's thick neck.
His severed head sailed through the air, bouncing off Bella's chest; she screamed and lurched back, slipping in the rapidly spreading puddle of blood and falling hard. "Charlie! No... NO!"
"I am sorry about that - I didn't come here intending to kill him. I wouldn't have if you hadn't made such a fuss; this is really your fault, you know."
Even with tears glazing her eyes and more streaming down her cheeks, Bella managed an adequately hateful glare. "My fault? You murdered my father you heartless evil bastard!"
Ye gods, her screams were irritating. Arthur had needed a little mind control from time to time with Angela; Peter would need a muzzle for this one. High time to finish her, he decided. He moved forward again but before he could get his hands on her, her leg shot out, hooking around his ankle and yanking him off-balance.
Bella then scrambled over to the cabinets, used one of them to pull herself to her feet, and frantically searched the countertop for anything that had even the remotest possibility for use as a weapon. Her fingers skated over her ring of keys; she was about to discard them in favor of Charlie's pocketknife when Arthur got to his feet, grabbed her shoulder, and threw her down again. Her head banged against the linoleum floor, stunning her.
Arthur crouched on one knee beside the girl's prone form, thinking that it really was a shame she had to die. He might have just taken what he needed from her and let her live, if only to give himself leverage for controlling Peter, but she fought too much; she'd be nothing but trouble if he left her alive. "You made this a lot harder than it had to be, Miss Swan." His fingers locked around her throat, simultaneously strangling her and giving him the contact he needed to take her power.
It was all too much to take in. Arthur Petrelli alive and well and in my house, Arthur attacking us, Charlie's head coming off and hitting me, and the wet smack as it bounced off my shirt, and oh God there was so much blood and Charlie was dead! My head was already spinning before Arthur sent me crashing to the floor; when he did, multicolored lights burst in front of my eyes, or maybe inside my skull - it certainly felt like fireworks were going off in there. Maybe I even blacked out for a moment.
Then Arthur grabbed my throat and I felt something like quicksand sucking at my brain, a sensation I'd experienced only once before but never forgotten. This was what it had felt like when Arthur had tried to take my ability the night we blew up Pinehearst. He couldn't punch through my shield to do it, but he was so powerful that his trying was like having a battering ram used on my head - I didn't doubt he would eventually wear down my defenses. And when he did, part of me would be gone forever...
This knowledge combined with the panic brought on by him choking me jolted me back to consciousness. When I fell I'd somehow managed to hang on to my keys, and now I didn't stop to think - I just reached up, stabbing at him with the jagged-toothed end wherever I could. As luck would have it, I got him in the eye. I felt a slight resistance and then, with a small pop! the key tore through Arthur's cornea.
He jerked back, howling in pain, but I somehow held on, driving my makeshift weapon in deeper and deeper until I felt it scrape bone. I tried to pull it out then, but it was stuck. "C'mon, c'mon!" I gave one last hard tug, and the key popped free with a wet slurping sound. So did Arthur's eyeball. It splatted on the floor and rolled away, coming to a stop beside Charlie's head. The gruesome sight nearly made me pass out - which I welcomed; unconsciousness would be a relief - but my mind cruelly refused to shut down, denying me an escape. "Oh Dad..."
Arthur was right; this was all my fault. He'd come here for me and Charlie had been in the wrong place at the wrong time - I was a jinx. "Dad I'm so sorry!"
My sobs caught in my throat when I heard movement behind me. No... It can't be... Except that it was. Arthur Petrelli was stirring, a new eye already forming in his gouged, bloody socket. A wordless shriek of denial and horror ripped from my throat. This wasn't a man, it was a monster worse than my worst nightmare, and there was no fighting him. What could I do when he just kept coming back? I tried blocking him - though I'd done that last time and it hadn't worked more than a few hours, so there was no reason it should work now - but terror, shock, grief, and rage had thrown my mind into such a chaotic frenzy that I couldn't focus my power.
Instead it burst out of me with such force I half-expected my heart to explode, shattering windows and blasting pots, pans, a jar of sauce I'd intended for the pasta, and Arthur away from me. This put him between me and the door, so I ran the other way and hurled myself out the kitchen window. I landed awkwardly on my front, the impact knocking all the air from my lungs. Glass shards littered the ground, and several of them cut my stomach, knees, arms, and hands; one even grazed my forehead.
I forced myself to get up, to keep moving; a piece of glass had gotten embedded in my right knee and I couldn't run anymore, but I could still limp. I reached my truck and paused, leaning on it just long enough to pull the glass out. I felt a warm gush of blood down my leg and yanked my truck's door open, hauling myself onto the seat. I needed to sit down or I'd faint. Couldn't afford that. Arthur was still alive, still after me. Had to get out. Now would be good.
I fumbled with the key, which wouldn't fit in the ignition for some reason. Possibly because it was the house key, not the truck key. I swapped it for the other key, which was a little hard to jam in there due to the gore clotting its teeth. At least it worked - my trusty old truck roared to life just as Arthur appeared in the doorway.
Spurred on by fear, I put the pedal to the metal in spite of the pain in my leg. The truck grumbled and roared like a grumpy dinosaur, but it also peeled out of the driveway at a solid fifty-five miles per hour. Even Arthur couldn't run that fast - unless of course he'd met a speedster since I'd last seen him.
It began raining, slickening the roads, but I didn't dare slow down even though going this fast would have been dangerous on such a narrow, twisty road even if it were bone-dry and in broad daylight. I needed driving to demand my full attention, because if I let myself think about anything else
I would break down completely. I couldn't afford to do that until I got to Peter, Claire, and Elle, or Arthur would catch me. Thank goodness he hadn't acquired super-speed or he would have already.
My escape seemed to be going off without a hitch until, with a sudden, blinding flash, lightning struck a tree on the other side of the road. The trunk broke near the bottom and the whole humongous thing fell, the top branches hitting the side of my truck. I had just enough time to regret not wearing a seatbelt before the truck tipped; then the world rolled over and over and went black.
So, I'd say the story's off to a rip-roaring start, wouldn't you? We've already got violence and character death, and later we'll have major angst, breakdowns, BxP - all the things you liked about Resurgence, Reprise, and Resilience, with the additional fun of a very interesting reunion between our lovably clumsy heroine and a certain vamp who could've been the hero if Peter weren't in this story. Seriously, Peter saves the world. Edward plays the piano. Not much of a contest there.