The Flash: Terminal Velocity, Chapter 7: No Way Out

by Hitman 44077

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Evening came in Central City, and at City Hall, many citizens gathered to honor one of Hollywood’s stars, Daphne Dean. Unknown to the citizens, one man was watching from nearby, hidden from view.

This was not what I had in mind, Mister Element thought to himself as he watched citizens enter City Hall in preparation of the evening’s dinner. I just wanted a quiet life with Rita, not to go through another identity crisis. Alvin couldn’t leave me alone, and now he has my wife.

Element watched as Daphne Dean finally arrived at City Hall, surrounded by police officers. Daphne’s not like other celebrities, Element thought, feeling regret over the actions that he knew he had to commit. She’s a decent woman, and certainly giving. I am so sorry I have to do this, so sorry.

Daphne entered City Hall, and so did others at the scene. I can’t afford to be caught, Element thought as he began to stealthily move toward the building. One wrong move, and Rita’s dead. I can’t lose her, even if it means I have to become a criminal again. Her life is more important than mine.

Element spotted two security guards on watch at City Hall’s entrance and quietly fired his elemental gun at the two. The blast from the weapon knocked out the guards, and Element entered the building.

***

Elsewhere, at the Central City Police Department, Darryl Frye sat in his office, perplexed by the investigation that had taken place at the home of Cecile Horton.

“The blood samples taken at the scene don’t match Cecile’s blood type,” Frye said as he reached for his cup of coffee. He took a large sip as he continued going over the reports. “My guess is she scratched her intruder in a struggle. The odd thing was the phone records. The last call made from her home was to Wally West. My guess was that she called him to help her, possibly because the Flash is a lot faster than a squad car or 9-1-1.”

“Why would someone attack Cecile? Could it be because she defended — oh, no,” Frye continued, a grim realization striking him. “Cecile was close to Barry when he was on trial for murder. Suppose someone decided to take revenge on those closest to Barry? Or the Flash?”

Frye opened his desk drawer and quickly grabbed his phone book. He thumbed through the book and located the Allens’ phone number. He then picked up the telephone and dialed the Allen residence. “Come on, pick up!” Frye said, worried as the phone continued to ring. The phone was never picked up on the other end. Maybe I didn’t dial the right number, Frye thought, not able to convince himself that he was wrong. He dialed again, and again, but there was no answer.

“I need to be sure of the facts,” he said as he hung up the phone. He reached back for the phone book and randomly chose Mack Nathan’s phone number. He picked his phone back up and dialed Mack’s home, but once again, no one picked up on the other end. “Damn it, something’s up!” He slammed the phone down. He stood up and quickly walked out of his office. He located one of his closest friends in the CCPD, Detective Frank Curtis, who was finishing up some paperwork of his own in his office.

Frank placed his pen down and addressed Frye. “What’s going on, Darryl?” he said calmly. Before he received Frye’s answer, he spotted the worried look on his friend’s face.

“I may have discovered a break-in the Cecile Horton disappearance,” Frye said, somewhat disturbed.

“That’s a good thing, right?” Curtis said, puzzled by Frye’s behavior.

“Not with my unconfirmed conclusion, I’m afraid,” Frye said. “I went over the report several times, trying to find something that would account for her being missing. The blood at the scene wasn’t hers, and she placed a phone call to the apartment of Wally West.”

“I’m familiar with those issues,” Curtis said.

“Cecile is famous here for a reason: she defended Barry at his murder trial two years ago. I began to think maybe there was a tie to those Barry would’ve been close to,” Frye confided. “So… I called the home of Barry’s parents in Fallville, the same city where there was a fire a day ago. No one answered their phone.”

“I can see why,” Curtis said. “They’ve wanted some privacy since Barry died. There’s no telling if some bizarre tabloid is trying to con them into something that would demean Barry’s memory.”

“That would be something to consider, but I don’t think it fits,” Frye said solemnly. “I tried another home and called one of Barry’s friends, Mack Nathan. We met him the day Barry was supposed to marry Fiona Webb. Once again, there was no answer.”

Curtis started to grow worried. “There might be something to this, Darryl,” he confessed. “You want me and a few officers to investigate?”

“I’d appreciate that. Check the Nathan home first, just in case. I don’t want to contact the Fallville P.D. unless my suspicions are correct,” Frye said.

“I’ll radio in if there’s any problems, Darryl,” Curtis said.

“Thanks,” Frye said as Curtis stood up quickly and exited his office.

Now we may have a possible motive, Frye thought as he walked back to his office. He picked up his cup of coffee and took a long sip. What we still don’t know is who’s behind this. And that worries me a great deal.

***

Elsewhere in Central City, the City Hall dinner began to finish, and Daphne Dean walked toward a podium. “I’d like to thank all of Central City for the warm reception I received today,” Daphne said, a warm smile flashing across her face. “It’s wonderful to get away from Hollywood and be able to come back to the most important city in my life.”

The audience in attendance applauded, and Daphne continued her speech. “There’s something timeless about Central City,” she said. Its citizens are caring people, its businesses are thriving, its charities are strong, and its lands are clean. I’m grateful to be part of this city, and I hope I represent the best of all that Central City has to offer when it comes to–“

“Being the proverbial damsel-in-distress, Ms. Dean?” Mister Element shouted aloud, doing his best to sound sinister. He rushed the podium and grabbed Daphne where she stood. The crowd screamed in shock and fear at the sight of the costumed foe, who wrapped one arm around Daphne’s neck.

“Oh, my God!” Daphne screamed, suddenly scared, as Element used his free hand and pointed his gun at her head.

Several police officers began to reach for their guns, but Element shouted a warning to the officers. “Don’t try a damn thing, boys and girls! I’ve come here with a goal in mind, and I don’t think you want to jeopardize the lovely actress’ life. So put the guns in a pile by the stage — now!” Slowly, all police officers present walked toward the stage and dropped their guns down. All moved away slowly, so as to not risk endangering Daphne’s life.

“Good cops,” Element said as he pointed his elemental gun at the pile of guns on the stage. He fired a blast and transformed the guns into a puddle of water. “Now,” he said, placing his gun back to Daphne’s head, “the two of us have a date.” Element forced Daphne to walk with him, and they exited City Hall. Upon their exit, Element fired his gun at the locks on the door, melting the doors in place so that no one could follow him or his captive.

“What do you want with me?” Daphne shouted at her costumed captor as he pulled her to his car.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Dean,” Element said with regret. “This isn’t something I wanted to do, believe me.”

“You sound… as if you mean it,” Daphne said, almost feeling sympathy for the criminal. “Why are you doing this?”

“I — I’d rather not discuss it,” Element said, securing her wrists with rope before placing her in his car. “Suffice to say, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like me.”

Element then entered his car and buckled Daphne’s seatbelt. He then buckled his own and quickly drove off, knowing that within the hour, he would be reunited with his wife.

***

Captain Darryl Frye was inside his office at the Central City Police Department when his phone rang. He picked the phone up quickly and spoke with urgency. “Frye here.”

“Darryl, it’s Frank Curtis,” the man on the other end said.

“Have you learned anything? Anything in regards to my theory?” Frye asked.

“The officers and I arrived a few minutes ago, and it appears that the Nathans have vanished without a trace,” Curtis said. “There’s no sign of a vehicle in the garage, which adds to your theory.”

“Anything else?” Frye asked, still fearing the worst.

“Yeah, there’s one thing,” Curtis said as he continued. “I played the messages on the phone answering machine. There were two messages of importance: One from Central City High School, asking why Troy Nathan wasn’t at school today, and another from Mack Nathan’s place of employment, which pretty much asked the same thing.”

“Then something’s up,” Frye said as he grew more puzzled. “It’s not like either of them to just vanish, and it’s too similar to what happened to Cecile.”

“I’m starting to think you’re right, Darryl,” Curtis said, his concern starting to become evident.

“I was afraid of this,” Frye said. “I’m going to contact the Fallville Police to see if maybe the same thing hasn’t happened to the Allens. It’s outside our boundaries, but I’m sure I can convince their officials to allow us to investigate this affair alongside their P.D.”

“You want me to continue here?” Curtis asked.

“I’ll send some available officers, and you can join me in Fallville, Frank,” Frye said, determined to get to the bottom of this situation.

Suddenly, another call buzzed on Captain Frye’s phone. “Wait a second, Frank,” Frye said as he placed Curtis on hold and pushed another button on his phone, which placed the incoming call through.

“Captain Frye here. What is it?” he said gruffly.

“Captain, this is Officer Walton,” a voice spoke through the phone.

“Walton, why are you calling?” Frye began. “Aren’t you supposed to be at City H–?”

“We were,” Walton said urgently, “but there’s been a situation. Daphne Dean was just kidnapped.”

What?!” Frye shouted over the phone. “What the hell happened at City Hall?”

“This guy arrived, dressed in green and wearing a mask, surprised Ms. Dean, and pointed a strange gun to her head,” Walton said over the phone. “He demanded that the officers present place their guns in a pile. He fired the gun of his at the pile of guns, and they changed into a small puddle of water! Oddest thing I’ve seen since coming to Central City.”

That sounds familiar — too familiar, Frye thought to himself. The description matches Albert Desmond’s criminal persona, Mister Element. But that makes no sense whatsoever. He swore off the life of a criminal, and he was happy with the honest life. Could someone be masquerading as him, or has he gone back to his criminal ways?

Frye refocused and spoke to Officer Walton over the phone. “Do you know where he escaped to?”

“No we don’t. He managed to weld the doors at City Hall shut. We’re still stuck here,” Walton said.

This is getting too complex for my own good, Frye thought before replying, “I’ll bring some officers to bust the doors open, Walton.”

Frye hung up on Walton and spoke to Curtis. “Sorry to keep you in the dark just now, Frank,” Frye said. “We have a possible suspect… in Albert Desmond.”

“You’re serious?” Curtis asked, perplexed. “What happened?”

“Apparently, someone dressed as Mister Element kidnapped Daphne Dean a short time ago. He used the same weapon that Desmond was famous for in that identity,” Frye said. “In light of this turn of events, I’ve got to stay in Central City and head up this end of the investigation. I’ll call the Fallville Police and let them know about these developments. That should allow both forces to work together regarding the Allens — if they, too, have vanished.”

“All right. I’m on my way there,” Curtis said, hanging up the phone.

Slowly, Frye hung up his phone. This makes no sense, he thought. In the span of one day, three — if not five — people close to either Barry Allen or the Flash have vanished, all in mysterious fashion. Yet tonight, a very public kidnapping occurs involving a known celebrity and friend of Barry’s, seemingly orchestrated by someone dressed in the outfit of one of Barry’s first foes.

“The best thing to do is to call Wally. The only thing is, I haven’t seen him since late this morning, when he left to help the Justice League. I don’t know if he arrived back yet, but I’ll give him a call,” Frye said as he picked the phone back up and dialed a phone number. “As soon as I alert the Fallville Police on our current situation.”

***

Mister Element arrived at Central City Stadium and slowly drove through its parking lot. “What are we doing here?” Daphne Dean, Element’s captive, said with fear.

“We’re here because I have no choice,” Element said grimly, still feeling horrible at his actions, but fearing for his wife’s safety still. “If I had an alternative to this, I’d take it.”

“Whatever’s going on, please don’t hurt me,” Daphne said as her eyes filled with tears.

Compassion filled Element’s voice. “I swear I won’t hurt you, but there’s more to this than you know, and I’ll leave it at that,” he said, firing a sleep gas at her face with his gun.

Daphne choked on the fumes for a few seconds but quickly fell unconscious. It was just as well, as Element finally located the black van that Doctor Alchemy claimed as his own. He parked his own car and pulled out the sleeping Ms. Dean.

“All right, Alvin, I brought you your hostage,” Element said with a loud whisper. “Where’s Rita?”

Alchemy slowly stepped outside the van and walked toward Element. “Give me the woman, Albert,” Alchemy said.

“Not until I have Rita. Now, I asked you before, and I’ll ask again: Where is she?” Element said angrily.

“Not until I have Ms. Dean, Albert,” Alchemy said, flashing a sinister smile. “I suppose we could cancel this little deal. After all, I always wanted to see if a glass human could bleed.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Element said, trying to sound strong, but his concern for his wife was evident.

“Wouldn’t I? You must not know me as well as I thought,” Alchemy sneered. “Who needs who more, Albert?”

Albert’s anger was tempered by his love for his wife, and he made the only choice he could. “Fine, Alvin, you win,” Element said, his voice registering defeat as he handed the unconscious Daphne to Doctor Alchemy.

“Good job, my brother,” Alchemy said as he placed Daphne inside the black van. “I knew you’d make the right choice.”

Element was disgusted at his actions, but he addressed Alchemy again. “Now that I’ve done my part, I want Rita back.”

“How badly do you want her back, Albert?” Alchemy asked, trying to touch Element’s nerves.

“Listen to me, Alvin,” Element said, as his anger began to rise. “You’ve done nothing but try to destroy the life I live, and I gave you what you wanted. What more do you want?”

“Albert, I want the Flash dead,” Alchemy said, no longer smiling.

“What?!” Element said, almost unable to believe the words Alchemy spoke.

“I mean it. I want the Flash to die, and I want him to die tomorrow,” Alchemy said, still serious.

“I’m growing tired of this, Alvin. If I don’t get Rita back now–” Element started to say.

“You’ll do nothing, because as long as I have her, she’ll never be safe. And if anything happens to her, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Face it — your actions have made you a wanted man. You have only one thing to live for, and that’s Rita. Do you want to become a widower?” Alchemy asked.

Element stood silently, but finally gave his answer to Alchemy. “No,” he whispered. “I’ll do what you ask. To save Rita, I’ll kill the Flash. But how do I know you’ll keep your word?”

“You don’t,” Alchemy said, his smile back in place. “Perhaps that’s for the best. You might want to keep from being caught — for your wife’s sake. I don’t want to miss your encounter with Mr. West. Now, then, it’s time I took my leave. But where I’m going, you’re not invited.”

Doctor Alchemy raised his Philosopher’s Stone as he snatched Mister Element’s mask with his free hand. The Stone emitted a gas that knocked Element out, as it had earlier in the evening. Element fell to the ground, and Alchemy tossed Element’s mask onto the ground next to his head.

“I swear, I’ll never understand how you grew to be so gullible, brother,” Alchemy said as he walked toward his van and entered the vehicle. He made his escape with the newest captive and headed for Mota’s warehouse in the van, even as Albert slowly recovered.

Dear God, there’s nothing I can do, Albert thought despairingly, as he picked up his mask and put it back on. I sacrificed my morals and my dignity to save my wife, and I still can’t save her. Now, I have no other options. For Rita’s sake, I have to kill the Flash. God help me, I have no choice.

Element walked toward his car and entered the vehicle. He started it up and drove off, making sure he stayed hidden until night ended.

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