The Flash: Terminal Velocity, Chapter 9: 30th Century Blues

by Hitman 44077

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Central City, nearly a millennium from late May, 1987:

A lovely twenty-something woman with long brown hair found herself going over historical archives. She had been born in this era, but the twentieth century held a special place in her heart. That was the era in which she lived most of her life and enjoyed most of her happiest experiences. Perhaps that era would always be important to her for many reasons yet unexplained.

The woman continued her studies, taking a special interest in Central City’s champion of the past, the Flash. She knew more than the archives suggested, thanks to the life she enjoyed in that era. But even she could experience shock.

“What’s this?” she asked, coming across a significant archive. The archive was a newspaper headline preserved in hologram form, and the headline read Flash Vanishes. “This is strange! It makes no sense. The legacy of the Flash was to continue in light of the Crisis, which occurred a millennium ago. When did he–?” The archive slowly changed, its headline now reading Flash Dies. “Dear God, what’s happening here? This can’t be! It shouldn’t be!”

The woman stood, transfixed on the holographic headline as it slowly changed back to Flash Vanishes! And she knew something was very wrong in the twentieth century era.

“What is happening to time? Why do the events change from Flash vanishing to Flash dying?” the woman asked, now reading on the details of Flash’s disappearance.

The details were vague, but the events centered around several enemies of the Flash who united to finally destroy him. A haunting quote by another of the twentieth century crime-fighters, Superman, brought horror to the woman’s face.

“He had suffered from a disease killing him a few years ago, but the disease was thought to have been cured. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. As my friend, whatever has happened, wherever he may be, I pray he’s at peace.”

“Oh, no!” the woman said as tears streamed down her horrified face. She placed her hand slightly over her mouth, not understanding how such a thing could have occurred. She continued reading as she learned of the identity of the mastermind behind the Flash’s troubles. “Manfred Mota? I don’t know why, but there’s something familiar about the name.”

Slowly, the headline changed back to Flash Dies, and the woman read the vague details behind this story. Almost word for word, the details were nearly the same, only this time, there was a body.

“No — this isn’t how the Flash’s life should end,” the woman said, anger matching her fear. “It can’t end this way!” The woman closed the archives and quickly walked away. She made her way inside a room where two people sat. The woman walked toward the two individuals who saw her troubled expression.

A man with short, black hair with gray temples spoke. “My daughter, what’s wrong?” he asked, his concern for the woman very much evident.

“Since I’ve come to live here, I’ve maintained a love for the place where I grew up and the people who made that life possible,” the woman said. “But now, reading the archives–“

An elder woman with medium-length, curly brown hair spoke. “You’ve been reading those again? Sometimes, it’s best to not look back at the life you once had, but towards this life… and your future. Please, for everyone’s sake, stay away from those. They will only remind you how unfair time can be.”

“You don’t understand. What I came across was a headline which seemed to change, as if the event wasn’t set in stone. It regards the Flash–” the woman said, as she was cut off in mid-sentence.

“The Flash? You know, as well as we do, that time cannot be changed… for any reason. What is destined must happen, no matter the regrets,” the man said.

That didn’t stop you. You wouldn’t let the past cheat either of you,” the long-haired woman said, as if the words were of a personal nature. “It didn’t stop you before when it came to the Flash.”

“Maybe it was selfish what we did, but all of us benefited. Especially you, in more ways than one,” the curly-haired woman said, almost sternly. Her nature changed, seeing the pained look on her daughter’s face. “I — I wish that we could help. We love you, but we can’t do this. I know how unfair things have been for you, and for those you cared about, but time is set in such a way that it needs to remain how we know it to be.”

“This is different than the last time,” the woman said as she fought against tears but was losing quickly. “I do know how painful it was before. It was only a short time ago. But if history can’t even decide when the Flash is destined to die, then maybe he is meant to live. Please, I can’t deal with another loss again, not like this.”

“Even if it were possible, we wouldn’t risk you again,” the man said consolingly. “Too much can happen in the past, as you know all too well. Plus, there are other things to consider. You need to consider all of us here, not just your own concerns. Please, please understand.”

“I…” the woman said, as she began crying. Her parents stood up and walked over to her. They knew how devastating their words were to their daughter, but they loved her more than she knew. They hugged the woman, trying to ease her pain.

***

Present-day Central City:

Day three began as Wally West awoke inside his apartment in Central City. I’m still sore from what’s happened the past few days, Wally thought as he sat up in his bed. He rubbed his eyes and slowly stood up. I have so many different feelings within me right now, and I don’t even know how to handle them.

I need to keep myself strong in case things don’t get better, Wally thought as he engaged in his exercises. And I have to find a way to put this into words when it comes to my folks and Fran.

I have to say, though, crazy as it may sound, I think I’m beginning to accept this. None of us are immortal. We all die. But as long as I can do more good before it happens, then that’s just what I’ll do.

Once finished with his exercises, Wally walked toward his bathroom, where he shaved and then took a quick shower. Upon finishing his shower, he dried off and slipped a T-shirt and a pair of shorts on. Almost as soon as he’d finished dressing, there was a knock at his door. “Wonder who it is,” Wally said as he walked toward the door. He opened the door and saw Frances Kane standing there. “Oh, hey, Fran,” Wally said plainly. “Come on in.”

Fran walked inside the apartment and noticed that something seemed to be weighing heavily on her boyfriend’s mind. “Wally, I stopped by last night, but you were out,” Fran said with concern.

“I was really busy yesterday,” Wally said, which was the truth. “The fact that Cecile was kidnapped had something to do with that. I also had to help the JLA battle an old foe named Amazo.”

“I didn’t know about that,” Fran said, referring to the Amazo fight. She looked at Wally’s face and saw a tired look. “Are you OK? I haven’t been able to see you as much as I’d liked lately, and you don’t… well, you just don’t seem yourself. Is there anything wrong?” she said, her concern growing.

Wally thought for a minute, not really speaking, when his phone rang. “Wait a second, Fran,” he said as he walked toward his phone and picked it up.

Fran stood there, not sure how to react. I haven’t seen him like this before, except when he was Kid Flash, she thought, placing her hand vertically over her lips. Is it me? Have I done anything to him? I want to help him, but what if he wants to break up? He’s been there for me… I can’t afford to lose him.

“Hello?” Wally said over the phone.

“Wally! I’m glad I finally reached you!” yelled a voice over the phone. Wally recognized the voice as Darryl Frye’s.

“Darryl! Anything new with Cecile?” Wally said, even as Fran heard the concern in Wally’s voice over Cecile, which only increased her fears.

“Not exactly. Suffice to say, this is getting more complex by the day. Can you come to the Police Station?” Frye asked.

“Yeah, I’ll be there soon,” Wally said.

“Have you played your answering machine messages yet?” Frye asked.

“No,” Wally said, puzzled. “Why?”

“Look, just bring the tape. There may be something on it that’ll help us,” Frye said.

“All right, I’m on my way,” Wally said as he hung up the phone.

Fran was doing her best to keep from crying. Wally saw her distress and walked over to her. “Fran? You OK?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she lied. “I’m fine. I guess you have to do your Flash duty again.”

Wally noticed that Fran seemed to speak about the identity as if it were a dirty secret. He had no desire to engage in an argument and simply answered his girlfriend. “Yeah, I do. Look, I’ll be honest. I have been busy lately, but I promise you that once this is taken care of, we’ll have some more time together.”

He placed his hand under her chin and softly brought her chin upward, trying to cheer her up. “I love you more than you know, Fran. No matter what happens, I want you to know that.”

Wally slowly kissed Fran. Then he walked back to his answering machine and removed his message tape. He grabbed his Flash costume, which laid on the floor of the apartment.

Fran seemed assured, though she still had worries. “Look, I’m heading to work. If you finish with this case, then stop by tonight, OK?” she said to Wally.

“I will, Fran,” Wally said.

Fran left the apartment, and Wally put his Flash costume on at normal speed. “She didn’t seem like herself today,” the Flash said. “My absences haven’t helped. But before this is over, I will tell her about the disease. She and my folks need to know before it’s too late.” With the answering machine tape in hand, Flash made his way toward the Central City Police Department, taking precautions so that he wouldn’t hurt himself on the way.

Seconds later, Flash made his way into Captain Frye’s office, where he saw his friend sitting. By Frye’s demeanor, Flash knew something was definitely wrong. “I’m glad you’re here,” Frye said, somewhat relieved. “I hope I didn’t cause any trouble.”

“No problem whatsoever,” Flash said as he grew serious. “What’s happened with the case?”

“Wally, I’m going to be frank with you,” Frye said, equally serious. “There’s been developments in the case, but it’s not in the way you’d think.”

“What do you mean?” Flash said.

Frye paused, not sure where to begin, but he finally started from the top. “You know about Cecile Horton’s disappearance. I was stumped as to why a high-profile lawyer would just vanish. I finally discovered a possible motive.”

“OK, what is it?” Flash asked, almost urgently.

“This may disturb you. I know it has for me, but I suspect that whoever took Cecile may have had a vendetta against the Flash… or Barry Allen,” Frye confessed.

What?! Are you sure?” Flash asked, now very worried for Cecile.

“It — it gets worse, Wally,” Frye said, troubled. “I needed to see if my theory held up. I tried calling the Nathans, but there was no answer at their home. I was frantic, and I even dialed up Henry and Nora Allen in Fallville. I received the same results. I didn’t jump to conclusions, but I suspected that they were abducted, as well.”

“Oh, God,” Flash said, as the serious nature of these abductions began to settle in his head.

“We investigated the Nathan residence, and when my suspicions proved to be correct, I sent Frank curtis to Fallville to investigate the Allen home with some of Fallville’s police. So far, there’s been no sign of foul play, but the nature of these abductions make no sense,” Frye admitted.

“Are there any suspects? My money would be on some of the Rogues, but it seems beyond their capabilities,” Flash said, growing angry.

Frye grew quiet for a few seconds before telling Flash about their prime suspect. “It may have been a Rogue, but not who you’d ever suspect.”

Who?” Flash demanded angrily, thinking of the Allens, Cecile, and the Nathans’ safety.

“It may have been… Albert Desmond. Mister Element,” Frye said quietly.

“Albert?” Flash said, bewildered. “No way. He reformed. He was at Barry’s wedding to Iris a few years back. He was cured of his evil compulsions. I can’t see him going back on that self-destructive path.”

“I guess you didn’t hear about last night — when Daphne Dean was honored at City Hall,” Frye said, feeling the same as Flash, but knowing more on this matter.

“What happened?” Flash asked.

“Instead of the private kidnappings like Cecile and the rest, this time it was very public,” Frye said. “A man, dressed as Mister Element, kidnapped Daphne at gunpoint and escaped police capture. He seemed to have Element’s abilities down to a tee. We learned that the Mister Element costume had been stolen from the Flash Museum, and with the investigation last night, we discovered that neither Albert Desmond nor his wife Rita were at their home. My guess is that they may have been taken prisoner as well by this mastermind. I don’t know why he’d bother to impersonate Albert, or rather, Mister Element, though.”

“Insane. Who on Earth would hate Barry that much to do this to the people he cared about?” Flash said, still angry.

“I don’t know. For the most part, the Rogues don’t seem like they’re involved, but we’re still checking things over,” Frye confided. “You, me, the rest of the CCPD — we’ll get to the bottom of this together.”

The Flash handed the answering machine tape to Darryl. “Why did you need this? I haven’t had time to go over my messages the past few days,” Flash admitted.

“We went over Cecile Horton’s phone records, and we learned that she attempted to reach you two days ago,” Frye said.

Flash turned pale as he realized why he hadn’t been home. Oh, no! That was the day I headed to STAR Labs to be checked out by Mac Ryan. This — this is my fault. Had I been home, I might’ve been able to stop Cecile’s abductor, and maybe I would’ve prevented this whole mess, he thought.

“The tape may determine if there are any possible recordings that would indicate the identity of the kidnapper. I’ll send this down to be studied by our experts here,” Frye said.

***

As the conversation between the Flash and Captain Frye continued, elsewhere in Central City, Mister Element was shaking from the lack of sleep and the fear he had to deal with when it came to possibly taking a friend’s life.

I managed to stay hidden throughout the night, but now, I’ve got to lure the Flash to me. I don’t want to do this. Wally’s a good man. He’s every bit of the man that Barry was. But I have to kill him… for Rita’s sake, he thought, with mixed feelings.

Element stepped from the alley where he’d hidden and began his attack. Firing his gun at several city structures, he began to transform the buildings into varying substances. He was careful not to destroy the structures, not wanting to cause any more harm than he had to.

Several passersby grew frightened by the costumed criminal and phoned the CCPD. Their reports were taken, and a police officer alerted Captain Frye and the Flash, who were still speaking about the kidnappings.

“Captain, there’s a guy causing trouble in our city, and he matches the APB on that Mister Element character,” the officer said.

“Not exactly how I pictured events turning,” Frye said as this development unfolded.

The Flash was enthusiastic, despite the troubles with his health as of late. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this, Darryl. Once I’m done, I’ll bring him to justice. Hopefully, this guy isn’t Albert. I’ll be back,” he said.

“Be careful. If this isn’t Desmond, he’ll have no qualms about taking your life,” Frye advised.

“I will, and thanks,” Flash said as he ran out of the Central City Police Headquarters, ready to face whoever was behind the Mister Element identity.

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