The Flash: Terminal Velocity, Chapter 21: In a Flash of Light

by Hitman 44077

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Moments ago:

Mister Element and Captain Cold stood in front of the Flash Museum alongside the supposed cop who freed them from the Central City Police Headquarters jail cells. “Jeez, this guy’s good,” Cold said, marveling at the sight of the damage and the transformed police officers. “If I wasn’t here for other reasons, I’d congratulate him.”

“This has Alvin’s name written all over, Snart,” Element said in disgust. “He’s not smart enough to pull this off alone, something we already knew thanks to our friend, here. If they have the Flash, then we’re going to need a way to free him.”

“Gentlemen, I have done my part for now,” the officer said, still hiding his face from the two men. “Provide the necessary distraction I need, and things should work exactly as I’ve anticipated.”

The officer began to walk away, which angered Mister Element. As Captain Cold examined one of the handguns in his possession, Element confronted the police officer. “Look, you broke us out, but how do we know this isn’t a setup?” Element asked.

“I haven’t the time to argue with you, and I don’t believe this will help your wife. Do your job, and I’ll do mine,” the cop said coldly.

Slowly, Element relented, turning away for a second. “Fine,” he said aloud. Turning back around, Element noticed that the cop had vanished. “Great,” Element mumbled under his breath. Turning to his partner, he spoke. “You ready?” he asked Cold.

“‘Course I am, Al. Let’s get this over with,” Cold said, raising his handgun up.

“Exactly,” Element said, raising his own weapon to fire at the doors of the Flash Museum.

***

Now:

As Manfred Mota prepared to fire an energy blast at the captive Flash, the doors of the Flash Museum suddenly exploded. “What?!” screamed Mota, who turned toward the front doors, as did Ross Malverk and Doctor Alchemy.

Perfect! Flash thought, looking at the doors himself and seeing two familiar figures standing outside. Just buy me a few more seconds, guys.

Mister Element and Captain Cold ran inside the Flash Museum and took cover near a display showcasing a large bulletproof mirror, a one-time weapon used by the Mirror Master. Captain Cold fired bullets at the three villains, and Mister Element used his elemental gun as well. As Ross Malverk took cover, Mota and Doctor Alchemy began to return fire at their two foes.

“You dare interrupt me from finishing my job?” Mota yelled at the two, firing his arm-blasters at the two. “I’ve waited far too long for this moment! And the two of you will not stop me!”

“You messed with the wrong man, pal!” Element screamed, his anger burning. “You’re as bad as Alvin!”

“Really, brother, flattery isn’t going to help you one bit!” Doctor Alchemy said, using his Philosopher’s Stone to fire energy blasts at the two.

“Damn it, this isn’t working,” Cold said to Element as his weapons failed to produce the desired results. “I got to get me a cold gun, and fast!”

“Good luck finding one,” Element said, continuing to fire at their foes. “After what happened last year, the Flash Museum began using props in place of the weapons.”

Cold looked around as the fight continued, and finally, he spotted the slowly recovering form of Lady Rogue close by. All right, he thought as he spotted her cold gun on its holster. Time to get back in business! Turning back to Element, Cold spoke. “The lady’s got one over there. Cover me!”

“Hurry up!” Element responded as Captain Cold darted toward Lady Rogue. Avoiding blast after blast, Cold made his way to the female rogue. Before she was fully recovered, Cold used the butt of his handgun to hit Lady Rogue in the head. She fell to the ground quickly, even as Cold stood over her. “Little lady, I helped you once, and you used my sister as bait to kill the Flash,” Cold said angrily. (*) He knelt down and removed her cold gun from its holster. “If she wasn’t alive right now, then it’s safe to say I’d kill you right here.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash: Speed Trap.]

Cold set the handgun he had been using on the ground and ran back toward Element. “Thanks for covering me, Al. That helped both of us,” Cold said, holding his new cold gun in hand.

“Good. Now… put that thing to use!” Element said, continuing to exchange fire with the two foes.

Cold stared at Mister Element for a few seconds before replying, “Sorry, Al. You’re on your own,” he said with a smirk, placing his cold gun in his holster.

The betrayal shocked Mister Element greatly. “What?! No! You wait a second–” Element started to say.

“My job was to help distract this guy,” Cold said, referring to Mota. “But I have some personal issues that take precedence over the scarlet speedster. And now, with my new toy, I’m going to do just that.”

“You can’t–” Element said, almost desperately.

“Goodbye, Al,” Cold said, running toward the entrance of the Flash Museum and escaping. Standing outside the museum, Cold’s thoughts flashed back to the phone call he’d received from his sister nearly a month before. I haven’t forgotten about you, impostor. I’m on your trail, and once I’ve finished with you, well, I’m thinking too far ahead. One thing at a time.

Damn him! Element thought as the battle raged on back inside the Flash Museum. At least at two and two, we had a shot. Now, I don’t know what’ll happen.

“Well,” Doctor Alchemy said, “it looks like your friend split! Don’t worry, though. We’ll kill you before we kill your wife, rest assured.”

Ross Malverk peeked his head forth from his safe haven. Wonderful! he thought, spotting Lady Rogue unconscious on the ground. Quickly, he walked toward the fallen Rogue and picked up the handgun laying by her head. Malverk checked the gun and, seeing that it had a bullet left inside one of its chambers, aimed the weapon at the head of the woman he hated so deeply. Dear Beverly, I have waited so long to kill you, he thought as Lady Rogue began to stir. Goodbye, you bitch!

Before he could fire the gun, it vanished from Malverk’s grip. As soon as he’d noticed the disappearance of the weapon, he’d already been stripped of the Flash costume he’d been wearing. “Huh?” he said aloud, even as he noticed the costume no longer on his body. Softly, a finger tapped his shoulder. Ross turned around, only to meet a fist to the face by the now-free Flash.

“You son of a bitch!” Flash screamed as he used one hand to repeatedly punch Ross Malverk. Several blows to the face and body, all the while holding Barry Allen’s Flash costume in his other hand. “You and your boss failed to break me! It’s over!”

The Flash knocked Ross down to the ground, even as Mota and Doctor Alchemy noticed that the crimson comet was free once again. “No! I won’t be cheated of my revenge!” Mota yelled at the Flash, firing energy at the speedster. Flash avoided the blast, even as Mota began to run toward his war wagon. As Mota entered the vehicle and drove off, Flash freed the captives Mota had kidnapped.

As that occurred, Mister Element began running toward Doctor Alchemy, surprising him while Alchemy was distracted by the appearance of the Flash. “Now, Alvin, this is over!” Element said, knocking the Philosopher’s Stone from Alchemy’s grip. The two fought briefly, until Element managed to knock Alchemy unconscious.

“Here, Albert,” Flash said, tossing Mister Element some rope. “Make sure he doesn’t escape. By the way, thanks for the help.”

“No problem, Wally,” Element said. “There was a personal stake in this for me, too. And not just my reputation, either.”

Rita Desmond, now free, ran toward her costumed husband and, after removing the Mister Element mask, kissed him. “The sooner I get this costume off, the better I’ll feel,” Albert said, still holding his wife in his arms.

The Flash turned toward the others who’d been held prisoner. “Nora, Henry, here,” Flash said, as he felt winded. He handed over Barry’s Flash costume, Flash ring and wedding band to the couple. “Did they hurt you — any of you?” he asked everyone.

“They tried to break us, but they failed,” Henry Allen said. “Thank God for you, Wally.”

“Mom, Dad, Grampa, are you all right?” Flash said before another pain-filled attack overtook him. “Nngh!” he mumbled, falling to his knees and clutching his chest.

Ross Malverk, whom no one noticed, took advantage of the situation. He picked up the gun he’d planned to kill Lady Rogue with and snuck out of the Flash Museum as all eyes were on the Flash.

“Wally!” Mary West screamed in horror. All grew concerned at the plight of the scarlet speedster, until…

“I-I’m fine,” Flash said, slowly standing as the pain subsided. “I’ve got to stop Mota. I’m guessing he still has Fran, and if he does–”

“He doesn’t,” a voice called out. Flash turned around to see Lady Rogue standing behind him.

“So,” Flash said civilly. “Where is she, then?”

“No one knows,” Lady Rogue replied civilly as well. “Doctor Alchemy was sent to kidnap her, but it seemed she’d packed her bags and left Central City.”

“How can I trust you?” Flash asked, narrowing his eyes.

“After what happened earlier, I — I know something’s not… right with me,” Rogue reluctantly admitted. She removed her mask and dropped it on the ground. “I’ve had problems… difficulties accepting the truth, and I — I — I need help.”

“You know that Ross Malverk was posing as Barry,” Flash said, rather than asked.

“Yes,” Fiona said sadly, removing all weapons from her costume. “Ross was going to shoot me, but you saved my life. I — I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I want to change… be normal. I — I think Barry would want that for me, too. I have a lot to atone for, but I will try to.”

“I’m glad, Fiona, I really am,” Flash said, hoping the best for the woman who had almost once become his aunt. But as soon as that was spoken, his attentions turned back to Mota. “I’ve got to stop this guy,” he said, turning toward the entrance of the Museum.

“You do that,” Albert Desmond said, picking the Philosopher’s Stone off the ground. “I’ll restore the police officers to normal and fix what damage I can.”

“Thanks, Albert,” Flash said as he ran off in hot pursuit of the war wagon.

***

As Flash continued his chase, Ross Malverk hid in an alley. Gun in hand, he tried to accept what had just occurred. It wasn’t working. How? Ross thought in disbelief. How did this turn around so quickly? The two Rogues arriving… Flash escaping? Mota planned perfectly! I was supposed to have revenge! I was supposed to win!

“Ross…” a sinister voice called out. “You and I have some unfinished business.”

Ross recognized the voice as unrelenting fear possessed him. “No… no!” he screamed aloud. Ross began running down the alleyway until he tripped. Scrambling to his feet, he ran into a figure wearing an all-too-familiar orange and black costume. Ross fell back to the ground and stared at the figure.

Saber-Tooth!” Ross said, his voice barely a whisper due to the fear he felt.

“That’s right, Malverk,” the assassin known as Saber-Tooth said coldly, raising a gun and pointing it at Ross.

“You — you were supposed to be dead!” Ross said, trembling.

“I assure you, I am very much alive, Ross,” Saber-Tooth said with no emotion. “You hired me to kill the Lewis woman, but then you betrayed me. You knew I’d come looking for you because I’d kept my identity secret. But I am always prepared… for any situation. I had a feeling that you’d turn yourself in after ratting me out, and I knew that Central City had a wildcard in the Flash. I sent one of my men to impersonate me and kill you, just in case the Flash became involved. As it was, he was captured and jailed, while I entered into a form of retirement. My impersonator knew the risks of the job and committed suicide before he could stand trial. From there, it was just a matter of time before you paid your debt to society. Once you accomplished that, I trailed you from town to town, careful not to be caught. And once you entered into your partnership with Manfred Mota, I decided that the time was right for me to strike. Your compulsion to kill Beverly Lewis did you in, Ross, and now, it’s time for me to collect.”

Ross stood up and began to run. “Help me!” he screamed, running as fast as he could.

Saber-Tooth stood amused, and then he took aim. Pointing his gun at Ross Malverk’s running form, Saber-Tooth used his well-trained skills as an assassin to fire a bullet into Malverk’s heart. Ross Malverk collapsed as the bullet penetrated him and stumbled to the ground. Saber-Tooth slowly walked toward his prey, prepared to finish the job. Malverk managed to crawl around an alley corner, leaving a bloody trail in his wake.

Saber-Tooth followed the trail, but once he turned around the corner, the body of Ross Malverk was gone.

Where the Hell is he? Saber-Tooth thought as the blood trail seemed to stop at one point. There’s no trace of blood past this spot. Doubtful that his accomplices would have found the bloodied body, but this isn’t how I imagined Malverk’s end to come. He will die, that’s certain, but where’s the body? Saber-Tooth placed his gun in its holster and made his escape. I can’t worry about that now, he thought. What’s important is that I’ve finished a job that took me years. Now that I’ve done that, I’m back in business!

***

Elsewhere in Central City, the Flash continued his search. Amazing, he thought. I’m hurting so much from using my powers, but because everyone’s safe, it doesn’t bother me as much as it should. Still, I’ve got to find Mota. I can’t allow him the chance to pull something like this off again.

Finally, Flash spotted the war wagon far ahead of him. There it is, he thought with anger. Let’s see what I can do! Using his super-speed, Flash managed to catch up with the war wagon.

Mota noticed and tried firing weapons at the scarlet speedster. “Damn it! Die! Die!” Mota screamed aloud as Flash managed to avoid the blasts.

Time to stop this thing! Flash thought as he used his super-speed to weaken the tires. Several blew, and the war wagon slowed down within the city streets.

Mota wasn’t ready to surrender, however. Upon the vehicle’s stop, he exited it and began to attack the Flash. “You’ve cost me too much, Flash!” he screamed as he continued to fire blast after blast at his foe.

“You made your own bed, Mota!” Flash screamed back, using his arms to fire severe blasts of wind at the armored foe, sending him back a few feet. “I’m sorry about your wife and child, but Barry didn’t kill them!”

“He did! You did!” Mota screamed as he continued his attacks. “The Flash is a murderer!”

The Flash finally knew what he had to do. Running toward the armored figure, he used his super-speed to heat the armored figure into place. “This ends here and now!” Flash said as the armored figure slowed to a complete stop.

“You really think you’ve won, don’t you?” Mota seethed. “You think I didn’t anticipate losing? I knew all the time that every precaution needed to be taken!”

“What are you talking about?” Flash demanded from his foe.

“I engineered my armor and my DNA to survive when it came to a nuclear disaster! You see, it’s always been my desire to destroy everything connected to the Flash. This city, your teammates, all will fall before me! Even you can’t stop the nuclear bomb in my war wagon!” Mota boasted as he used his hand to press a detonation device within the armor.

Some would have paused in fear, maybe even given up right there. But the Flash knew what he had to do. Surrounding the war wagon, Flash began speeding around it, even as the explosion went off. The tremendous light-speed Flash generated managed to hold the blast within a vortex of sorts. I can’t give up… not for anything, he thought through gritted teeth. If I fail… this city… then I fail… my loved ones… my friends… and Barry.

The pain was unspeakable, even as Flash continued to hold things in place. I-I can’t funnel this into space, he thought. The fallout… would kill more people… raining down on Earth. One chance… all I’ve got… Flash gambled on his option. I… can lend speed… and steal speed, too. Maybe… I can apply it… to this… as well.

The Flash began to use his speed to steal speed from the fiery blast, all the while continuing to run and keep the explosion in check. Slowly, the blast began to subside… until it had been eliminated. But there was still the radiation.

Flash began lending speed to what remained of the bomb, focusing all he had to speed the effects of nuclear decay upon the remains at the scene, still holding things in place with his vortex. It took nearly twenty minutes, but in that time, what remained had finally decayed into lead, and the threat that nearly claimed Central City was destroyed.

All the while as that occurred, Manfred Mota’s armor grew hotter, reacting with its power source, until it finally became so hot that it managed to begin melting the street upon which it stood. Mota, still trapped within his armor, could do nothing but scream as he quickly began sinking into the ground. Within seconds, he’d entered his own grave of sorts.

The Flash stopped running but was unaware of what was happening. Though he’d saved Central City, the disease killing him finally began to claim him. There were no thoughts, no feelings, for he made a sacrifice that few others would make. He fell to the ground, dying, and it seemed that death was his fate.

In a flash of light, however, all that remained of the Flash was the costume he’d worn in service to his city and the world — nothing more.

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