Heroes - Rise of the Phoenix
Chapter four - Scars of life run deep
Tracy Bennet strolled through Central Park early in the morning just as the Sun crested the Horizon and reflected across the hundreds of window panes of the buildings on the West side of the park. She was worried, but not too worried. Noah had been out all night and had only called twice. She had not realized how hard it would be on her heart to have him gone so long in a single stretch. It was times like this that she missed him but knew in her mind he was trying to build a new life for them. A new life where they did not have to run from their powers and abilities. That they could be safe under his protective hand. Even with all that her mind understood, she was nervous and just needed to get out of the apartment. She had finally given up trying to sleep and was dressed and out the door at the first light of dawn.
She watched as Molly and Hiro ran before her with little Noah chasing after them. They giggled and rolled in the frozen December grass as NJ: as Claire had begun to call him raised his arms high in the air and roared like a lion on the hunt. She loved the children and the richness that they brought to her otherwise lonely life. It amazed her that less than six months ago she was hiding from the world in a small town in the middle of Texas. Her life consisted of laying low and not using credit cards or being caught on any wayward camera or photograph. Her days dulled on through the weeks and months after Noah had set up her new identity, behind the counter of a back woods store in a town that the entire population would not reach a thousand. The big excitement of each day was when the Greyhound bus pulled into the depot and weary travelers disembarked to stretch their legs and several would wander into the small store. She had loved her afternoon lunch breaks though in the local city park of that small town; and was so excited when she and Noah were able to secure their new apartment that overlooked Central Park.
As the Sun crested over the buildings she turned toward the brilliant rays of light and allowed the warmth of the sun to pour over her as she stood still amongst the small drifts of snow, still cowering in the shadows; left-overs from the snow storm that the city had had last week. She loved seeing the park draped in white at Christmas time. With the fog of the nights and the glow of the path lights, it had been like heaven. She stood there in her winter coat and gloves as the children ran and played in the frozen grass and the few drifts of snow. Hiro grabbed a hand full of snow and made a ball to through at Molly when she squealed with playful fear and circled around Tracy and hid behind her from Him. Hiro without thinking threw his weapon and hit Tracy in the side of the face on accident.
"I'm sorry Aunt Tracy! Please forgive me!" He yelled as he ran down the path to escape her wrath with his arms waving in the air to keep his balance as he ran. Molly laughed uncontrollably as Tracy took her glove off and instantly froze the pathway under his feet with a simple touch of her bare hand. Hiro slipped and fell to his rear and slid down the hill as little NJ made his best airplane engine noise and dropped to his belly and slid after him.
"Mom, are you alright?' Molly asked as she tried to stifle her laughter. She reached up and dusted away the snow that had stuck to her adopted mother's face when her eyes lit up a bright glowing blue. Her face went pail with fear and worry as she whispered, "They are here!"
Tracy stood to her full height and motioned for Hiro silently. He understood and grabbed NJ around the waste and with a blink of the eye stood beside her. His face grew grave when he saw Molly's eyes burning bright blue, remembering how close they had been to loosing her just the day before. "Molly, where? Can you see them? Are they in the park?" Tracy asked in a hushed voice as a young couple of park enthusiasts slowly walked by along the path arm in arm. Molly's heart rate began to climb and she broke out in a cold sweat as she looked around and in the distance pointed out a man pushing a stroller with a young girl walking at his side with a pink bow in her hair. "There!" she gasped through clenched teeth. "Hiro! Get her out of here, back to the apartment!" Tracy ordered as she reached out and pinched a nerve that the base of Molly's neck that Peter had showed her the other night and the young girl collapsed to the ground out cold. Hiro looked to his left and then right and after making sure no one was watching them, they vanished. "Mamma's going to go meet our new friends." Tracy muttered to herself as she raced across the park in a hurried walk, almost at a run.
Angela Petrelli could not sleep, she had been up most of the night tossing and turning under the burden of her dreams. Her dreams were fractured and incoherent at this point of the process so she knew she had time. Disaster was looming and she needed to focus, to collect her thoughts on what she knew from her visions and coalesce them into a path or direction to follow. Her face was haggard and showed the signs of her late night as she stirred a spoon in a small cup of hot tea, and looked out the window of the small restaurant in downtown New York City. The population rushed past her as they hurried along with their busy lives. Men and women rushing from one point to the next ever striving for the satisfaction of the raging appetites for material wealth, personal gain, or that day's righteous cause.
The city that never slept was awake and alive with noise, smog, and the blaring horns of the army of yellow cabs the filled the streets. She lifted her hand and at her summons a man dressed in a black and white dress suit brisked across the small restaurant towards her. It was a small restaurant, one with only six tables. A little hole in the wall of elegance and exuberant luxury in the chaos of the center of New York City. She loved this small place, it cost more than the average days wages just to sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the small eating establishment; and the Chef created such delicacies that he had a waiting list booked years in advance for his seven course meal prepared fresh each night of the week except Sundays.
The attendant stood beside her and lifted a silver tea urn filled with boiling fresh water and warmed up her tea cup as a waitress arrived dress in a flowing white and black dress that hovered just below the knees. She carried a tray with Angela's meal on it. The waitress stood silently as the attendant took a new satin cloth and gently with experienced hands snapped it in open in the air and placed it on his guests lap. He then took a white porcelain breakfast plate decorated with a ring of fresh fruit and handmade cottage cheese on the table before her. He then placed a single boiled egg in a tall egg stand made of white ivory in the center of her plate, in the center of the ring of fresh cut fruit.
Angela looked over her meal with satisfaction as she tapped the top of the egg with her spoon as the attendant, stood to attention and walked away from her table without a single word. Her mind was conflicted as she absentmindedly ate her meal. Alfred had dropped her off early that morning before sunrise. She had been sitting over her tea for the last thirty minutes trying to formulate a plan. She had to gather her thoughts, she had to visualize it. She had to warn the others, but she could not go to them with only vague notions and dreams that did not provide details to steer the ship of their lives by.
After a bit she placed her fork on the plate and draped her napkin over the remnants of her meal. She was not hungry. She needed to get something out of her mind. She needed clarity. She needed what she really came to the restaurant for. The attendant arrived like a ghost and with a quick movement cleared the table and watched the woman carefully for her desire to be spoken. "I believe it is time to go upstairs." Angela directed as her attendant drew back her chair and the waitress lifted her coat off the hidden rack by the front door. She smiled as the waitress opened her wrap and the warmth of the coat draped her body.
"This way, please." the attendant summoned and led her through the restaurant to a back door near the restrooms. The man took out of his vest pocket a golden key and proceeded to unlock the door and opened it to reveal a long stair case that led to the floor above the restaurant. The staircase was lit by beautiful antique hand blown glass globes that pulsed with the flames of natural gas and filaments. "We will be available if you need us," the attendant spoke as she stepped onto the stairway and he closed the door behind her.
At the top of the stairs she took off her coat and draped it across the banister and took in the view of the hidden treasure. She believed that even Peter did not know of this place. She has secretly moved them here more than a year before the events of the Carnival massacre and the sorrows that followed transpired. The room was filled with easel after easel , painting and painting. The complete collection of a master. A man that could see the future. A man that used paints to record what he saw. A man she had hated and despised at one point. But the treasure was her clue, her haven, her hope. If Isaac could paint what he saw, then maybe she could too.
She sat down before a easel, holding a bright white canvas and lifted a piece of black chalk. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift to the border of sleep and conscious thought. A place where her mind was drifting into the subconscious, but still retained awareness of the real world. She had to walk a tightrope between the two worlds. Her breathing slowed and her eyes flutter as she reached a almost REM trance like state. She had learned to do this in her teens, now decades ago so that she could dream, but still interact with her friends, teachers, and parents. The chalk touched the canvas as she began to draw what she saw.
The Man was lost in his thoughts as they walked slowly through the park. The sun was just cresting over the buildings and the birds in the trees were beginning to wake up and sing. He had to think. He had to move. The city was not safe after last night. Who had shot at them? Were the bullets meant for himself or the Cop? Either way they could no longer go back to the house. He had to find a new place they could hide: a new place where they could stay for a while. He was running low on the medicine. Without a regular dosage the pain would start again. Without the suppressant he would not live to help the girls grow into their abilities and learn to control them. He looked down at the young girl in the stroller. She was asleep with the last dosage of the drug he had stolen from the store last week. He had only a few hours before the coma like sleep would ware off and she would stir once more. She scared him. What she could do brought terror to his heart. She could kill them all if he did not find a solution. He had to keep the girls together, but separate at the same time. He had to keep one asleep and one awake. The world might come to a horrible end if they both were awake at the same time. He needed a lab. He needed equipment. He needed time to rest and develop a cure, or a serum that would help the girls control their powers. But those that chased him were relentless. As soon as he had found a place that they might have some level of success, they would find them again.
He had to get out of the city. It was not safe. He had to keep the girls from the monster that followed them. A morning jogger raced past them and pulled him from his reflections and back to the present. Prime-a-tech! He had to get there. It was the only hope these girls had, and it was the only hope this world had from the girls. Texas! He had to get there, but how?
"Grandfather! Papa!" the girl beside him walking at his side sung out as she pointed to a crowd of vendors and people in the center of the park. Hundreds of people milled around in the center of the Park, looking at paintings and art projects staged all over the area. Vendors that sold Ice Cream, fried foods, and Balloons were attracted to the art event like cockroaches to sugar water. "Can I have a balloon?" she asked as she looked up into his face beaming with her best "I have been a good girl" smile. The man turned to the little girl and placed a gentle hand on her golden hair. Her pink bow held most of her hair out of her face, but as most six year old girls, she had more hair than face. "Well..." He spoke softly to her as a running figure in the park caught the corner of his eye.
He turned and saw a woman running toward them. Her face was fixed on his own. She was determined to catch them, to detain them, to stop them. "Not here! Not now!" he gasped, "how did she find us?" as he grabbed the little girl's hand and pushed his way into the crowd. He had to get away. "Run my girl! Run!" he yelled as they broke into a sprint through the crowd of people and dashed their way into the mass of people to escape.
"What's wrong? Why are we running Papa!" the little girl gasped as she struggled to keep up.
"We have to hide, quickly! This way!" the man yelled as he turned the stroller down a side path into a grove of tall trees.
"Stop! Please, I just want to talk to you!" a voice behind them shouted out. That voice, he thought he would never hear that voice again. It brought chills down his spine. "Please wait!" the voice of the woman behind him called out once more. She was dead! She had died in the fire. The man turned the stroller off the path and the front wheel caught on the edge of the grass and the man, stroller, and child within tumbled down the icy grass hill.
The woman stopped at the top of the hill; beside her stood a little girl, her pink bow now fallen out of her hair, and wind tossed her golden locks wildly about her face. She looked at the woman is fear and wonder, like she was frozen in place by a ghost from her past.
"Run! Esmeralda Run! I will find you!" the man shouted as he scooped up the limp body of her sister and drew his gun. He fired as people screamed.
Tracy ducked by reflex as the man before her opened fire. Bullets hit the light posts around her and glass exploded in all directions. Women and children screamed and ran between her and the man, as a vendor beside her lost hold of his balloons. The balloons enveloped her and the strings tugged at her arms and face. She batted away at the balloons to get free. The child! The girl he had called her Esmeralda! She looked to her left and the child was gone, lost in the sea of screaming and running people. The balloons cleared as she freed herself from the last of the restricting strings, but the man was gone.
Tracy walked slowly down the hill with confusion on her face. The stroller lay on its side at the bottom the hill, but the man and other child were gone.
Claire Bennet stood on the sidewalk looking around the neighborhood. She folded her map that she had used to arrive in the location. The house before her had been circled on the map by Molly late last night after Tracy and the other adults had gone to bed. She was worried. What kind of power could rip through the distance and could hurt Molly so deeply. She needed to protect her. If she was to be a big sister to the young teenager then she would need to help as best she could. She was frustrated that her Dad was having to work an all-nighter with the City police. It should be him looking into this, maybe with her at his side.
The house looked abandoned and run down. Several homes on either side of the small house also looked like they were ravaged by vandals. The house before her was roped off from access by a Police band of yellow caution tape. Bullet holes riddled the front of the house, the porch, and stairs leading to the front door. The front window was shattered and boarded up with a crude attempt at public safety; and the front door stood open hanging on only one hinge.
Something happened here recently. She looked around and could see a patrol car in the parked across the street, but no officers was in sight. Cautiously she lifted the police barrier tape and stepped up on the porch. The wood of the deck groaned loudly as her weight settled upon its surface, "I don't weigh that much!" Claire chastised the groans as she made her way to the open door. The house inside was dark and gloomy. The paint on the walls was flaking off and the wallpaper in most areas was curled and pulling away from the surface of the wall.
There was no furniture in the house except a single recliner chair positioned in the center of the room, facing a door that led down to a lower basement. Claire felt a feeling of foreboding crawl across her heart as she stepped down onto the stairway leading to the basement. She could see a flashlight beam moving over the walls as she silently made her way down the stairs. A person dressed in all dark clothing was squatted down over some bedding on the floor. A person that obviously was not a police officer, of the lights would be on. Whomever this was, Claire's alarm bells of warning rang in her head. Whomever this was her father would want to know about it. So with silent hands she slipped her cell phone out of her rear pocket and with the back light off, lifted it toward the person and with skills practice touch the picture button, as the camera made a loud "click"
"Snot!" Claire gasped in despair.
The person spun on its feet at the sound and suddenly she was revealed in a bath of white light. There was a click as the room went dark and the the person turned off the flashlight. Claire could hear rushing feet and then hands grabbing her by the blouse. Fists flew into her face one after another as the attacker then threw her across the room. She tried to block the blows, but she could not see them coming. The person's hands were just too fast. There was another rush of feet and a boot landed solidly in Claire's stomach and all her breath left her in one single gasp. She could not speak, she could not tell the person she was not the enemy. She tasted blood in her mouth.
Rough hands lifted her off the floor and smashed her against the stair railing and she could feel the railing crack under her body. Claire screamed out in pain as a spindle of wood pierced through her back and out her stomach. Blood splattered over the attacker and Claire as she tried to free herself. She felt like a hot iron had been stabbed through her body. She could hear feet running up the stairs and beyond as she screamed in anger and pulled herself free from the wooded spindle. Something was wrong, so much blood, so much pain, why? What? The room began to spin as every muscle and bruise burned. Her eyes glossed over as she pulled herself one stair at a time to the main room floor.
She was not healing yet? Something was wrong. The pain was so much. Her brain swooned under the blood loss and injuries as she drug herself out of the basement and onto the main floor of the house, then she passed out.
Gabriel walked down the sidewalk through the financial district of New York City. He was heading back to his new shop enjoying a street vendors late breakfast of a hotdog wrapped in bagel dough. He had decided to try sour crout on his bagel-dog and had concluded the jury was still out on the taste. The morning was brisking along and foot traffic had been steady in his shop. He had several private showings setup of his higher end clients tomorrow afternoon. If the shop proved to be all it was starting out to be he might be able to start his own little empire of gears and levers in the City. It had only been one day, but it felt like a life time of suffering and challenges to reach this point. He had called Claire a few minutes ago and left a message on her phone to meet him at her apartment at 8 o'clock that night and that he had something very special to show her. He wanted to her to be so proud of him. Would she like the store? Would she think it beneath him? Would she want more out of life? Could she love a man that finally was at peace with having a little slice of gold in a angry world?
He stopped suddenly as a young girl came running around the corner of the building and slammed into him like a train. She was small but was moving fast. Her face was flushed from a long run. Tears streamed down her small face. Her blond hair was in a ratted mess that covered most of her delicate face. She looked up into his eyes and he could feel a lost soul looking at his own. She was afraid, she was running not to someone, but away. "Is everything alright little girl?" Gabriel asked as she brushed him aside and darted into the crowd and out of his sight; just as two men came around the corner in pursuit. They looked rough and sinister. Their faces brought worry to his heart. Something was wrong he told himself as the men hurried past him after the small girl, trying not to bring unneeded attention to their actions.
Gabriel turned and looked after the men into the crowd. Should he step in? Was it his place to take action? What if he was wrong, what if she was playing a game? What if she was just a disobedient child that was trying to run away? What if he stepped in and found he was on the wrong side? What would Peter do? What would Claire want him to do? He closed his eyes and thought of Claire. His image of her in his mind showed her standing before him, with one hand on her hip and the other outstretched pointing in the way the young girl had fled, "GO!" she yelled at him as his eyes opened with a start. He reached out with his hearing and could sense her heart rate.
He rushed through the crowds and turned down a dark alley to find the young girl now trapped in a far corner, as the two men approached from opposite sides, "Come here little girl. Would you like a piece of chocolate?" one man said as the other man circled around and tried to reach her from behind. Just as she turned her attentions on the man speaking to her the other man slipped his long arms around her waste and lifted her off the ground in a strong bear hug, "Got Cha!" the man spoke in a deep Brooklyn accent.
Gabriel lifted a hand to stop the men when the small girl let out and scream of terror that ripped to the core of his heart. The ground under their feet began to quake and role. The concrete groaned and cracked under the invisible power. Gabriel felt like a hand was reaching through his chest and grabbing his very heart. He clutched his chest and dropped to his knees; as his head pounded inside his skull. It felt like his head was in a vise. The men holding the girl dropped her and grabbed their heads as they too fell to the ground in agony. Their mouths opened in silent screams of pain as blood flowed from their eye sockets and ears. The very ground began to shimmer like heat wave off the desert sand as the brick walls of the buildings beside them began to liquify and drip like melted ice.
Gabriel felt something deep in his brain break and all went black in darkness as he collapsed to the burning ground. For a moment he laid still gathering his wits before he opened his eyes. With a deep breath he rolled over onto his hands and knees feeling like he had just run a marathon. He looked around the alley with blood shot eyes, the girl was gone. The two men looked still, not moving before him. He rested a finger on each man's neck, checking for a pulse; they were dead.
Noah Benett rubbed his eyes with the tips of his fingers as sat behind Sam Beckett's desk, "Rookie my bum!" he thought to himself as he finally was able to gather his files and head home. He was looking forward to the next 24hrs off before his next shift was to start. It was finally time to go home. He looked at his watch, it has been more than 24hrs since he had left the house. The sun was drifting late in the evening sky. He had had a few messages from Tracy but he had not be free to check them all. Once she had just called to tell him to hurry home, that she had something important to tell him.
He stood slowly to his feet as the hours of the day began to catch up to him and he felt tired.
His partner had left over an hour ago, leaving the paperwork filing to the "Rookie"; what a chump! He liked Sam and understood the friendly games he was playing to test the waters. He wanted to check if Noah really meant to do the job, or was just up to some mystery and this was an elaborate cover to reach an unknown goal.
He turned toward the lobby and the front doors as a hand reached out and grabbed his arm. The hand was wrapped in blood stained rags. The fingers that gripped his arm were heavily scared, with deep burn scars from a powerful fire. He looked toward the owner of the hand and a woman stood before him. She was hunched over like a woman advanced in age. She held a shawl over she shoulders with a second hand also covered in deep burn scars. Her hair which once must have been a golden blond was now a pail white, with only a hint of yellow, if the lighting was at the right angle. The right part of her scalp was devoid of hair as that part of her face and head was red and patched together with multiple skin graphs. Her face was twisted and burned beyond recognition of the beauty she once must have had. She spoke through raw and chapped lips in a dry and husky voice.
"Help me find my daughter!" She begged as she pushed a paper into his hands.
"She has been stolen from me!" she pleaded, "You must help me! No one else will."
Noah looked down at the paper in his hand, it was a picture of a small girl with a familiar pink ribbon in her hair. She looked through the image with eyes like open oceans. He knew this face. He knew this girl. "How?" He asked out loud, but received no answer. He looked around but the woman was gone. He looked back at the picture pondering what had just happened when his phone rang, it was Claire.
~ Heroes - Rise of the Phoenix ~
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