The Flash: Terminal Velocity, Chapter 2: One Month Left to Live

by Hitman 44077

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At the same time, in Central City, Cecile Horton arrived home from a tough day in the courtroom. She parked her car in her garage and shut the garage door. She then dropped her purse upon entering her home and promptly took her shoes off. “Fun day,” she said, reflecting on her work day. “Sometimes I wonder why I still defend clients.”

Cecile poured herself a glass of iced tea. “I needed that,” she thought as she drank the tea. “A lot more than my soon-to-be client Len Snart. I got a law degree to fight for justice in the courtroom, not to be some media defense for the latest hero or villain that hits town.”

Cecile placed the empty glass down on the counter and walked upstairs, where she began to undress. She removed her blouse and her dress; then, in her slip, she walked to the bathroom, where she turned on her shower.

Suddenly, before she could undress further for her shower, Cecile was grabbed from behind. “What?!” Cecile yelled, as she managed to turn around. Standing in front of her was Lady Rogue.

“You — you defended the man who murdered my fiancé!” yelled Lady Rogue.

Cecile grew very afraid as she recognized the woman. It was Fiona Webb beneath the mask. “F-Fiona?” Cecile said, her voice barely a whisper.

“Fiona’s dead! Just like Barry Allen!” shouted Lady Rogue. The behavior that Fiona was displaying made Cecile painfully aware that Fiona was clearly insane. She did what any person would do to escape a danger to his or her life.

Cecile managed to kick Lady Rogue and began to run downstairs, but Rogue recovered in time to grab Cecile by her hair. Cecile fell to the floor and nearly fell down the stairs, but managed to free her hair from Rogue’s grip by clawing her hands with her nails. “Agh! You bitch!” Lady Rogue shouted.

Running to her bedroom, Cecile reached the phone on her dresser and began to dial Wally West’s phone number. She pressed the buttons frantically. “Oh, please be home!” Cecile said between buttons pushing. The answering machine picked up, to Cecile’s horror, as Lady Rogue pulled out a small sleep-gas bomb from a bag that once belonged to the Trickster. Igniting the small bomb, Rogue placed a small gas mask over her face to prevent the gas’ effects. The gas was instantaneous, and before Wally’s message could finish, Cecile was out like a light.

Lady Rogue stood over her sleeping prey, and her contempt could almost be seen under her mask. “I should kill you for defending the Flash, but Mota gave Barry back to me. Or, I could kill you for what you did to my hands. You’ll live… for now,” Rogue said.

Removing a rope from her belt, Lady Rogue promptly bound Cecile’s wrists and legs. Walking to one of Cecile’s clothes dressers, she found a scarf, which she tied over Cecile’s mouth. “I can’t have her alerting people if she wakes early from her nap,” Lady Rogue said. She then turned off Cecile’s shower and put on some of Cecile’s clean clothes. She removed the glasses from Cecile’s face and put them on, then dragged Cecile down the stairs. She laid by the couch until Lady Rogue had finished disguising herself as Cecile Horton.

“You are going to wish I’d killed you after what Mota has planned,” the disguised Rogue whispered into the still-sleeping Cecile’s ear. Lady Rogue placed Cecile in the back seat of her car and drove the car back to Mota’s warehouse, satisfied that she’d completed her first part of Mota’s plans.

***

Mack and Troy Nathan sat at their home in Central City and were finishing watching the first game of a baseball double-header. “Man, Dad, I can’t believe that they lost that game,” Troy said sadly, referring to Central City’s own baseball team. “They had such a lead early on, and they just fell apart.”

“Hey, don’t let that get you down, Troy,” Mack said reassuringly to his son. “There’s still another game. They can still break even, and if they do that, they’ll still be where they were before today. Remember, the season’s not even half-over.”

“Yeah, I know. A lot can happen over these next few months. I just want to see Central City in the World Series,” Troy said with a smile.

“There’s a lot of competition out there in the majors, Troy. You got Metropolis, Gotham, Midway, so many teams out there, and only two of them are going to make it to the big dance,” Mack said. “But it sure would be nice.”

“I’m gonna get a pop from the fridge. You want me to bring you one back, Dad?” Troy asked.

“Yeah, I’ll take one. Just shut the screen door by the kitchen, OK?” Mack asked.

“OK, Dad,” Troy said, as he walked toward the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, he pulled two cans of pop out of the refrigerator. However, before he could close the screen door leading outside, Doctor Alchemy appeared from his closet hiding place and used his Philosopher’s Stone to transform the oxygen in the home into a sleeping gas. Troy fell to the ground after a few breaths. Mack heard his son fall, and though he felt odd, managed to make it to the kitchen before he himself collapsed.

Doctor Alchemy flashed an evil smile on his face as he stared at the two former neighbors of Barry Allen, his old enemy the Flash. His Philosopher’s Stone made him immune to the effects of the Stone’s actions. “Perfect,” he said. “Between this and the fire I started in Fallville a few hours ago, it’s been pretty easy for me. I can’t wait for phase two — that’s going to be very important to what I’ve wanted to do for years. Mota certainly worked things out, and now I have a great opportunity to help destroy the Flash legacy.”

Removing the car keys from Mack Nathan’s pants pocket, Doctor Alchemy dragged each man to Mack’s van and drove off in it, his objectives complete.

***

The Flash arrived in New York and proceeded to the STAR Labs facility there. Upon locating the building, he walked inside and went to a service desk, where a secretary was sitting. “I hate to ask, but is Dr. Klyburn here?” the Flash asked the secretary.

The secretary pleasantly answered the scarlet speedster, “I’m afraid that Dr. Klyburn now operates exclusively out of Metropolis. Is there anything that we can help you with here?”

“Uh, yeah. I’d like to speak to someone, preferably one familiar with Dr. Klyburn’s work,” the Flash answered.

“All right. Hold on. I’m going to page Dr. Ryan,” the secretary said, then spoke into a P.A. system. “Dr. Ryan, please come to the service desk. Dr. Ryan.”

“Thank you,” the Flash said gratefully.

“It’s quite all right,” the secretary said.

A few minutes passed, and Dr. Ryan, a well-built, dark-haired man in his early thirties walked over to the service desk. “Jenna, what is it?” Dr. Ryan asked.

“The Flash is here. He’d like to speak to someone familiar with Dr. Klyburn’s work,” Jenna said. “Since the two of you were close colleagues before she left permanently for Metropolis, I thought you would be the person that could help the Flash best.”

“Thank you, Jenna,” Dr. Ryan said pleasantly before turning to the Flash. “Well,” he said, offering his hand to the Flash, “It’s true we see a lot of heroes come and go here, but I don’t believe we’ve met. (*) My name’s Dr. Mackenzie Ryan.”

[(*) Editor’s note: Most recently, Dr. Mackenzie Ryan of STAR Labs performed tests on Gnarrk in The New Titans: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Chapter 3: Passions Unleashed.]

The Flash shook Dr. Ryan’s hand. “Vic said something about you. You helped replace some of his burned-out cybernetics a few years back. I’m the Flash, but you can call me Wally West, Dr. Ryan,” Flash said, removing his mask with his free hand.

“Please, call me Mac,” Dr. Ryan said as the two men released their handshake. “Now, what did you need to see Jenet for?”

“Well, can we talk about this privately?” Wally asked, concerned for his health.

“OK,” Mac said in a serious tone. “Let’s go to my office.”

The two men walked down a corridor, turned left, and entered the second door on the right. Mac shut the door behind him as Wally sat down in a chair. Mac sat down at his desk. “Now, then,” Mac said, “what’s going on?”

Though he was deeply worried inside, Wally spoke, not letting his fear creep into his voice. “About two years ago, I was suffering from a disease that was killing me. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was in my bloodstream. Any time I used my super-speed powers, either I would feel tightness in my legs, or I wouldn’t run as fast as I was normally capable of. Then… these crushing pains started to develop… within my chest. My heart specifically felt at times like it was going to burst.”

“I see. Go on,” Mac said, puzzled at what the disease was exactly.

“During the battle to save our world, I received a blast of antimatter. I was brought here in the aftermath, where blood work was done. It was discovered that my disease was in remission as a result of the blast. I had a few tests done later on, and it seemed that my speed powers were decreased along with the remission. I was told to come in for checkups every six months to see how I was doing,” Wally said.

“You did, of course,” Mac said, assuming that Wally had.

“No. No I didn’t,” was all that came out of Wally’s mouth.

“Why not?” asked Mac, slightly annoyed.

“After a few months had passed, I managed to regain my top speed after an encounter with a foe of the Titans. (*) I was able to run as fast as I used to. Plus, I wasn’t feeling any pain. I didn’t give it any thought, to be honest. Now… I wish I had,” Wally said cryptically.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Fragments.]

“What happened?” Mac asked.

“Earlier today, I faced an old foe of the previous Flash — Captain Cold. When I moved using my super-speed, I felt slow, like I wasn’t moving as fast as I normally did. I also felt stiff and a little sore. I thought nothing of it, even though I experienced the same things putting out a large fire. Running back to my city, it all came back to me — the crushing pains in my chest, my heart pounding miles a minute. I collapsed, and it took me a few minutes for the pain to fade. I knew then that I needed to be checked out. I hadn’t anticipated that Dr. Klyburn would be gone,” Wally said.

“As the director of STAR Labs, she has many more duties than she previously had. I’m not exactly pleased that you didn’t have your checkups, but I will help you. I can see why you wouldn’t have had them, since you felt fine over the past year or so.” Mac stood up and placed his hand on Wally’s shoulder as he smiled. “Let’s get those tests done.”

***

Hours passed, and multiple tests were performed by Wally West in regards to his powers as Mac examined Wally’s health file. Mac also performed an MRI on Wally’s body, specifically in his chest regions and legs to see what possible damage had been done to those areas.

Late afternoon turned to evening, but after some grueling tests, Mac had the results. He addressed Wally back inside his office. “Wally,” Mac said, his voice trailing off, “I need to be honest here.”

“The disease is back, isn’t it?” Wally said, resigned to what seemed inevitable.

Mac replied quietly, “Yes. Yes, it is. Frankly, I’m surprised that you’re able to move as fluidly as you do.”

Wally grew worried by those words. “What do you mean by that?” he asked, his voice almost shaky.

“Your disease is running rampant through your body. You’ve felt stiffness and soreness in your legs. You’ve also felt crushing pains in your chest and heart. From what I’ve been able to determine,” Mac said, placing the MRI results on the x-ray machine, “your blood is effectively destroying the tissue in your heart and legs. Your heart is damaged a fair amount, as are your legs. My guess is that when you regained your top speed, your body began to eat away at the microscopic antimatter particles that were keeping your disease in check. It may have taken a year for this to take place, and only now are you experiencing the pain that you suffered before.”

“Oh, my God,” Wally said, his mouth nearly dropping. My insecurities — by conquering them, oh, dear Lord, I’ve only brought myself closer to death, he thought, his fears coming to life.

“I’d strongly advise you to quit using your super-speed immediately. There’s a chance you’ll be able to live longer than I currently expect you to,” Mac said in a serious tone.

“So that’s it, then. I’m dying again. I — I can’t believe it. Aw, damn,” Wally said, as his eyes began to well up.

“Listen to me, Wally. I’m having several people help me with your situation as we speak. They’ll conduct various blood tests to see if maybe we can’t neutralize the disease. I know right now it’s not much, but there’s a chance we’ll learn something,” Mac said consolingly.

Wally kept himself from crying, but he was still scared. “What — what if I continue to use my speed? How long would I live?” he asked Mac.

“You’re in bad shape, Wally. If you continue to use your speed, I’d say a month, tops. I wish I was wrong, I really do,” Mac said sadly.

“I see. I guess there’s nothing left to do. Look,” Wally said, extending his right hand toward Mac, “I’m grateful that you took the time to check up on me. It’s more than I knew previously.”

Mac shook Wally’s hand and spoke. “There’s no problem. I hope we can help you; I really do. I have your personal information. I’ll call you if we learn anything, all right?”

“OK, Mac.” Wally put a smile on, though he was never more scared in his life. “Have a good night.”

“You, too,” Mac said, as Wally left his office.

Wally put his mask back on and walked to STAR Labs’ entrance. After exiting the building, he stood on the sidewalk and thought. He watched as the sun set. “I never thought this would happen again,” the Flash said softly. I’m dying again because of the disease. And… the one man that could help me has been dead for almost two years. Oh, God, what am I going to do? How can I tell Mom and Dad again? Or Fran? The Flash bent his head down and continued to think. I adopted this identity to keep Barry’s memory alive. Yet, if I were to give it up, I’d be buying myself some more time to live.

The Flash looked up into the sky and had his answer. Barry cared about everyone but himself, no matter the odds. Maybe it’s time I did the same. If I can make some type of difference before I die, then I will. That’s all anyone can ask. After completing that thought, the Flash sped west, not going as fast as he normally would, but determined to keep pressing on, no matter what.

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