Central City - Present Day
Barry's eyes widened as he gazed upon the broad-shouldered form of the fastest man alive, the Flash! White lightning crackled off his blue-suited body and his eyes were obscured by glowing white slits, giving him a far more menacing appearance that he'd ever sported before. In his hand, he held a small, metallic sphere, with a thin indent filled with blinking lights that ran around the circumference.
Onlookers' mouths slowly fell agape as they looked on their hero. One year ago, the villainous android Amazo began its rampage in Coast City. The Justice League responded, but the ensuing battle ended with the entire city in ruins and countless dead. Overwhelmed by grief, Green Lantern snapped and lashed out against his comrades. In a move that only proved escalated the conflict, Batman called in the Titans, hoping that the other Green Lantern on the team would be able to reason with his fellow space cop. He only killed him and then proceeded to take on the entire Justice League. In the chaos, the Green Lantern injured his best friend, the Flash. From that moment on, the hero of the twin cities vanished. Everyone assumed he was dead… till now.
"Who are you?!" shouted a civilian.
A small smirk etched itself onto the Flash's face.
"You know who I am." said the Flash.
Just as quick as he appeared, the scarlet speedster vanished in a whirl of white lightning that trailed off into the distance.
"Hey! Wait!" shouted Barry as he began to run after the lightning.
Barry's feet clapped against the ground as he hurried after the rapidly deteriorating trail. Slowly, and without even noticing, he began to pick up speed, not even noticing when the figures around him became a blur till he the flash the crimson lightning that crackled off his body caught his eye.
He was running! It wasn't the action that surprised him, no, but rather the speed at which he was going! A smile began to poke at the corner's of Barry's mouths as a hearty laugh started to stew at the bottom of his gut, slowly building till it bubbled forth in a mighty fit of laughter!
All his life, Barry had hated running. He was always out of shape and clumsy, the perfect combination for drawing ridicule from his peers in gym class as they were forced to perform "Three-Minute-Jogs." But now? Now he felt closer to his father than ever, finally able to run at the superhuman speeds he had long given up on achieving.
Suddenly, Barry found himself outside of S.T.A.R Labs, about to run right past the Flash, who stared at him with great interest behind white slitted eyes. Barry tried to slow down, frantically stomping his feet against the ground like one would see in a children's cartoon, but to no avail. He crashed into the glowing sign of S.T.A.R Labs, breaking it and face planting on the concrete.
"Super speed. Takes some getting used to. You alright there?" asked the blue-clad Flash, who held out a hand to the crumpled mess before him.
"I… uh… I hope so." moaned Barry, dragging his pain addled body up from the pavement, "Who are you?"
"I'm the Flash." he answered before cocking his head, "Well, not yet I'm not."
"Did… did you just wink at me?"
"Why, yes, I think I did."
The Flash let out a small chuckle.
"If you're the Flash… you know what happened the last time there was a storm like this one, right?" asked Barry.
"I do, and I have a plan so things don't… you know… end up with me 'dead'."
The Flash held out the small, fist-sized ball he'd been carrying.
"This is going to stabilize the Speed Force."
"The Speed Force. Just think of it like the Force from Star Wars but with more lightning."
"Well, time's a-ticking, gotta run!"
The Flash nodded to Barry before he disappeared, leaving only a wall of white lighting in his wake.
Suddenly, the Flash reappeared right before Barry.
"How can I help?" asked Barry.
The Flash sighed.
"Most of S.T.A.R Labs is destroyed. Help me get everyone out."
Steel beams and blocks on concrete pressed down on the helpless souls trapped beneath them in one of the many hallways of S.T.A.R Labs. They felt their bones break apart piece by piece, causing them to cry out in unimaginable anguish. Some of the less fortunate had pieces of metal skewered through them that caused their lungs to slowly well up with blood, choking the life from them with every inch.
Suddenly, the hall filled with red and white lightning as Barry and the Flash burst onto the scene. Instantly, Barry's stomach began to turn at the suffering before him and his chest was tight. After all his years of being a CSI, the sight of a dead body had grown to not faze him in the slightest. But this… this was something else entirely. The air itself seemed to crawl with pain. The Flash, on the other hand, was firmly unfazed, most likely from his nearly two decades of experience.
Without words, the pair began to work together in super speed to free the trapped scientists.
"You need to press down and hold, by the way." instructed the Flash.
"What do you mean? What're you talking about?" asked Barry.
"You're having problems stopping. Press down with your feet and hold them there."
"Oh, uh, okay."
The Flash pointed at Barry, a small smile on his face.
"And make sure you don't flinch when you do it."
An explosion rocked S.T.A.R Labs, shaking loose the few remaining steel beams. Slowly, they hovered down to the earth, fated to crush the few remaining souls unless someone intervened.
As if on instinct, the lightning began to sizzle through Barry's veins, filling him with a power so few had known the pleasure of having, and he began to glide across the floor with a grace he'd never before possessed. Scooping up person after person without a single other thought in mind, Barry managed to save everyone from being squashed to a bloody pulp… everyone except himself, that is. In his worrying about the safety of others, Barry had neglected to think about his own, leading him to not even notice when a steel beam hung less than an inch above his head. Thankfully, someone had noticed and the room began to crackle with white lightning as the Flash rescued Barry from the steel jaws of death itself.
Even with his perceptions so acute, so fast that he was able to watch lightning arc across the sky, it took less than a blink for Barry to find himself well on the other side of the hall.
"How did I…? Why?" asked Barry, whipping his head around till he found the Flash.
"You were about to be crushed and you didn't even notice."
The Flash smiled.
"Lesson two. Mindfulness. You may have super speed, but that doesn't mean you have all the time in the world. You can't tunnel vision like you just did."
A small smirk etched itself across his face.
"Unless you're as fast as me, of course."
"And how fast are you, exactly?" asked Barry.
"Oh, you know… I once outran instant teleportation across the universe. With no help, I may add."
S.T.A.R Labs shook once more.
"Come on, we need to get to the particle accelerator." said the Flash.
"It's where the eye of the storm is. I need to throw this…"
The Flash held up the metal ball.
The air was tinged with power, tickling your nose and burning down your throat as you breathed in. Brass coils wrapped around the inside of the donut-shaped particle accelerator, serving a purpose Barry could only guess at. Steel grates comprised the would-be floor, laid down in such a way that they lead to seemingly important sections of a metal tube that wound around the entirety of the particle accelerator. Barry guessed it must be the actual accelerator itself, and his guess was confirmed when the Flash lead him to a part of the tube that had burst open.
Suddenly, Barry's eyes were overcome with a blinding light, causing him to avert his gaze as he let his pupils adjust. The Flash, however, was unfazed, staring right into the center of the blazing ball, sputtering and flaring like the sun with every conceivable color.
"Took you long enough." spoke a voice from behind the pair.
A scowl etched itself across the Flash's face.
"You… I thought I kicked you into the fifth dimension." he growled.
Barry turned around.
"I… I know you." gasped Barry as he laid eyes upon the man in yellow, "Where's the man in red?"
"Barry, stay away from him." warned the Flash.
Barry never recalled giving the Flash his name.
"What!?" exclaimed the man in yellow, "It's not like I'm going the hurt the Barry Allen. I value my own existence, after all."
"Who are you?!" yelled Barry.
"The Reverse Flash," the Flash answered for him.
The Flash turned to Barry and handed him the ball.
"Just throw this into the big ball of lightning, understood? Then all this will be over."
"Great idea," the Reverse Flash spat in a mocking tone. "Give it ago, see where it gets you!"
For years, no, decades, the Flash and Reverse Flash had been locked in an endless war with each other, fighting tooth and nail for some advantage over the other to try and end the conflict. But it never came. And for the longest time, both thought it never would. For every plan one may have had, the other always countered it. This… never ending cycle had worn heavily on both of them, but now… now the Flash was in more danger than he had ever been in before. What if his device didn't work? What if his greatest enemy actually did sabotage it without his knowing? It certainly wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. There was only one way to find out though, and that meant he needed to make sure Barry could throw the ball into the eye of the storm unhindered.
The particle accelerator erupted with a dazzling white lighting as the Flash pinned his archnemesis up against the wall. The Reverse Flash only let out a small laugh though, completely unfazed by his compromising position. He thrust his vibrating fingers into the Flash's side, causing him to stumble back and clutch his wound as he howled out in unimaginable agony.
Reverse Flash's mocking laughter only grew louder as he sauntered towards the Flash.
"The best part about all this is that you don't even know that you've lost."
The cackling devil picked up his mortal enemy by the collar, a smirk stretched across his face, and uppercutted him into the air with a fist of crackling red lightning. As the Flash went upward, the Reverse Flash grabbed him by the foot and hurled him towards the wall. This didn't go as expected though, and the Flash managed to twirl his body like an acrobat and launch off the wall back towards his enemy. The Flash tackled Reverse Flash down to the ground, pinning his arms down with the flats of his boots as he let loose a flurry of lightning-fuelled blows.
Faster than what should ever be possible, the Reverse Flash's face began to resemble little more than a broken mess of bone and blood. His nose crumbled underneath the Flash's fists, blood pouring out his nose and welling up underneath his eyes. His cheek fractured, leaving a swath of purple across his face. And his eye swelled shut and, combined with his broken nose and cheek, gave his face an almost unnatural and inhuman look.
Slowly, a thin smile worked itself onto the Reverse Flash's bloody face.
"You… cough… you lose… Flash."
All his life, Barry Allen had wanted to be the hero. To be just like his father and protect the twin cities as the fastest man alive, the Flash! But he couldn't. He didn't have super speed. In fact, he could hardly even run at all! His arms were always a bit to far out from his body and somehow, he always managed to trip over his own two feet. In jest, his adoptive brother, Daniel, would say that it took a lot of skill to be as clumsy as he was. So Barry gave up on being a hero and worked to do good as something that suited his skills, a CSI for the CCPD. It wasn't all bad. After all, it did put him on the path towards meeting his girlfriend, Patty Spivot.
Everything was different now though! A few hours ago, Barry was struck by lightning and given the gift of super speed! He could finally be the hero he had long since given up on being. He wasn't nervous at all! Besides, how hard could it possibly be?
Suddenly, the surrounding area began to swirl with red and white lightning, causing him to jump in panic. For the briefest second, Barry's mind went blank, emptied of all intelligent thought as his stomach began to clench and contract. A burning sensation rippled up his throat and came forth into the world as Barry emptied his lunch all over the steel grates of the particle accelerator.
Okay, so maybe he was a little nervous.
'Okay… we can do this. Just gotta through this bally thing into the really bright thing.'
Barry shut his eyes and took a deep breath.
'Don't even think about it. Come 'on.'
With a loud grunt, Barry tossed the blinking ball into the eye of the storm, shielding his eyes as it disappeared into the abyss.
The red and white lightning stopped, revealing the lightning soaked forms of the Flash and Reverse Flash.
Everyone watched the sizzling ball of lightning with wide eyes, unable to rip their gaze away from it. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes like hours as the trio waited… waited to see how the rest of the night would unfold. Would there be celebration that the end of everything had been avoided? Or would the city being mourning their hero once more?
The eye of the storm held steady.
"Ha!" laughed the Reverse Flash, "You lose, Flash!"
The Flash let out a heavy sigh.
Memories of what his father had done all those years ago began to floor into Barry's mind, spurring him towards taking a step forward. There was only one thing left to do now. Only one way left to save the universe. The twin cities couldn't be left without a Flash. Couldn't be left without someone to protect them. To inspire them. And most importantly, to give them hope. Hope that there would always be a better tomorrow. It was a message ingrained into the core of the mantle of the Flash, and something that, in these trying times, people couldn't be left without.
But then the Flash put his arm out in front of Barry and spoke softly to him…
"No, this isn't how your story ends."
A glimmering portal tore into reality before the trio, crackling with every color known to man. In it's brilliant white center, the ghostly figure of a woman emerged, causing the Reverse Flash to let out a confused grunt.
"But this is how mine does." said the Flash, "Guess it was stupid of me to think I could cheat this after all."
He let out a small laugh.
"I hate it when he's right."
"Don't worry sweety, part of the journey is the end." spoke the woman.
Besides her, the ghostly figure of a man emerged, a hazy mess of red hair atop his head.
"We've missed you, Bart."
"No!" the Reverse Flash cried out, his eyes widening in horror as he looked upon the faces of the ghostly couple before him, "I didn't know!"
The Flash turned to his greatest rival and lowered his cowl, revealing unkempt brown hair and the face of…
"Doctor Wells?" questioned Barry, "You're the Flash?"
A thin smile stretched across his lips.
"Plase," begged the Reverse Flash, "I'm sorry. Just… don't."
The Flash's eyes narrowed into slits.
Slowly, he began to walk towards the portal.
"Oh! And before I forget! Before you leave, Barry, find the vault. It's time for things to get interesting."
And with that, the Speed Force Storm once more consumed the fastest man alive.
Suddenly, Barry found himself held up against the wall by his throat.
"You… you'll pay for this… Flash," snarled the Reverse Flash before disappearing off into the distance.
Sirens roared through the crumbled concrete walls of S.T.A.R Labs, easing the worry of anyone who may have needed attention… everyone accept for Barry, that is. In one night, his world had been shattered, both in a positive way and negative. The glee of even thinking about his newfound power still rang strongly across his face, but someone who clearly was not a friend was furious with him for a reason he did not even understand and the twin cities had been left without a Flash once more. And to top it all off, Barry had no idea what the Flash was talking about when he mentioned 'the vault'.
Barry's question was soon answered when a blinking red light began to emanate from one of the few sections of wall that had somehow survived the storm. Cautiously, he approached the wall, only for it to slide open and reveal a hidden room. Peeking his head in, Barry was greeted by the sight of white walls covered in white bumps. Curiously, each bump was arranged in such a way as to resemble braille and adorned with some pictographic symbol completely unfamiliar to Barry.
Judging the room to be safe, Barry shyly stepped in, the door sliding shut behind him with a small zzt.
Suddenly, a hologram of the Flash burst to life before his eyes.
"This is a prerecorded message. Hello, Barry. If you're seeing this, the Storm Protocol has failed and I was forced to sacrifice myself to stop the Speed Force Storm. Saving the multiverse is one hell of a way to go, ain't it?
Regardless, my name is Bartholomew Jason Allen II, but everyone calls me Bart, and, at the time of recording this message, I've been the Flash for seventy-five years. For a substantial portion of that, I was combating the Reverse Flash and his many schemes. One of those schemes, however, I grew aware of far to late. What scheme, you may ask? Spoilers."
Barry's eyes widened for almost every conceivable reason. The Flash had said his name was "Bartholomew Jason Allen II," which would not only make them related, but a descendant of his! Barry was still a…! had done nothing that could result in a child. Plus, he'd said he been the Flash for seventy-five years! That was longer than the mantle had even been around! Barry's mind began to wander towards the only logical conclusion.
The hologram continued.
"But what I can say is that, as a result, I was forced to travel to the past and stay there to prevent further damage. All things considered, I had to adopt a new name, Harrison Wells, and put myself in a position where I could easily monitor things, S.T.A.R Labs. Now, you're probably wondering why I let the crisis in Coast City occur? Aren't you, Barry? What happened in Coast City was not a change to the timeline, therefore, I had no business in being there."
So he was from the future. While it may have sounded crazy, Barry acknowledged that it was the only possible answer.
The hologram kept going.
"Why am I telling you all this, though? To be blunt, look around. The twin cities are going to need a new Flash. To protect them. To inspire them. To give them hope. And Barry, I think you're more than willing to shoulder that burden."
A pedestal rose from the ground in front of Barry, displaying a bright red suit complete with a golden lightning bolt against a white background and a pair of crimson boots, whose soles where the same gold color. Suddenly, the suit seemed to be sucked into a ring that he had not noticed until that point. Barry picked up the ring, inspecting it with great interest and finding a lightning bolt emblized on it.
It was a Flash ring. His Flash ring.
My name is Barry Allen and I am the fastest man alive! When I was eight years old my father, Jay Garrick, the original Flash, sacrificed himself to save the multiverse. One month later, my mother died while surrounded by a tornado of red and yellow lightning. For years, I worked as an ordinary CSI for the CCPD, but one day, I was struck by lighting and given the gift of a lifetime when I gained the ability to run faster than the speed of sound! Now, I try to live up to my father's legacy and protect the twin cities from those who seek to do it harm as the Flash!