Chapter One: Stuck in the Past

Outside, there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living had not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping, all of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled within the refines of their own homes.

Many people avoided this bleak first hour of the working day, during which, everyone's still sluggish senses and body made every chore a penance. This made it even easier to miss the slight rustling of grass despite the lack of wind, and the footprints that seemingly appeared out of nowhere around muddy trails.

To the rest of the world such speed was impossible to catch even a glimpse of, but to Flash, there was nothing he could miss. He saw every building that passed, every obstacle in his way... and the yellow suited villain racing ahead of him. The Speed Force vibrated through Barry's body like a living entity pushing him forward. Lightening strikes flashed around him, zapping his skin but not leaving a single mark. These only became more numerous the faster he went.

Central City whirled around him until it was nothing but blurs of black and grey, and then every other country in the world did the same as he reached them. Colours mixed together in a jumble of shades until it felt like he was emerged in shadow. He was reaching the speed of light. Just a little faster and he'd be sent plummeting into the very fabric of time.

Barry felt himself slow down, body immediately rejecting the idea. He knew about the dangers of time travel, one slight splinter in the past could have serious repercussions for the future. He could come back to find Central City in ruins, or the speed force altered. It could even cause the death of someone important... like Superman or Wonder Woman. Heroes that were their only defence against major threats.

Barry calculated every possible outcome, scavenging his brain for a solution. There was none. He would've sworn under his breath if he could've. No, he would've sworn at the top of his lungs. If he could've. Even if air could vibrate in its usual manner at the speed at which he currently ran, he'd outrun the sound vibrations so he wouldn't actually even hear what he said...therefore defeating the purpose of swearing to one's self.

The figure in front of him was nothing but a ghost, violently vibrating and shaking as it tore through space-time. Barry urged himself to go faster, straining every muscle until his body erupted in cramps. Once he gained that extra amount of speed, he pounced onto the figure he was tailing.

Space imploded as the two men tumbled, skidding for hundreds of thousands of miles. All of this happened in less than a second...and they grinded to a halt in a crowded town plaza somewhere in Italy.

"What the hell are you doing?! You're insane!" He growled.

Thawne rose to his feet, snarling. "I lost everything because of you. I'm going to show you how that feels."

As soon as Thawne twitched, Barry followed. The world around them was once again rendered into a mess of incomprehensible lines, lights and shapes as they shot through the centre of existence once more.

Thawne was crazy. Delusional. He was willing to tamper with time itself just to exact some kind of twisted revenge on the Flash...on Barry Allen. Revenge for something he'd yet to do, nonetheless.

Barry managed to wrap a hand around Thawne's arm and pulled him out of the path they had tunnelled through time. The rift closed almost immediately and the two were sent hurtling across the ground at an incredible speed.

Everything within his sights began to jumble, including Thawne. He felt his body being sent crashing through a whole layer of trees, snapping the thick bark in half like they were merely twigs. The speed force protected him from any real danger until he spiralled to a halt, laying on his back and staring at the stars that dotted the night.

Wait... stars? Flash jumped to his feet, eyes wide and searching for any sign of Thawne. There wasn't even a smudge of yellow within his sights. Barry's whole posture slumped. He could probably swear to himself now if he wanted... but he decided instead to check his surroundings.

Small houses littered most of the area to his right, looking a little too structurely unsafe for his liking, and on his left were slabs of wood fused together to create a market. The people around him stared in disbelief, eyeing up his tight costume and shuffling away. Being stuck in a sea of people wearing multiple layers of loose material, he could already see the problem. He had gone a little further back in time then he cared for.

The thing that brought him to realisation was the temple that stood just a short distance away. Japan. He knew that for certain now, but what era?

"Well...this just dandy." Flash sighed as he felt the sudden surge of energy. Barry surmised that since Thawne was the one time jumping and he was just freeloading in his slipstream, the Reverse-Flash's connection to the speed force was temporarily weakened from the extreme speeds needed to break time itself.

In more simple terms he was stuck in this period until the link regenerated, and fortunately for Barry, that gave him a chance to prevent Thawne from damaging the timestream further.

Barry turned his head to a nearby villager. He was an older man, staring frozen as he gripped a bucket of water. "Uh... excuse me... What year is it?"

The man muttered to himself, in Japanese. Barry thought that he said something along the lines of 'Rikai dekimasen', but what that was suppose to mean was lost on him.

Barry groaned. "It was worth a try." He sent his eyes to the horizon once more, trying to spot anything that could help him track down Thawne. He knew it was a fruitless gesture. Thawne had the whole world to hide in until he recovered. He may not be able to time travel, but he could still break the laws of physics.

Not only was his psychotic nemesis hellbent on screwing up everything, but Barry was in the same position. Anything he did, including showing up in a public space right now and talking to that guy, could harbour potentially disastrous consequences for the future. He wasn't going to forget that time he tried to save his mom...

Barry flicked over a hundred miles in an attosecond, and appeared on the edges of a forest. He leant onto one of the many tall trees and rubbed his chin. He'd have to fit in if he wanted to not screw stuff up. It would be easier if he went over to England or America...if either existed whenever this was. Even then, language had changed a hell of a lot in the last two hundred years... Barry knew that he needed to think first, run later. It didn't look like he'd have the opportunity though.

Right within his line of sight, Barry spotted at least several men with swords strapped to their hips. They had long dark hair, pulled back into a bun, and clothing just as airy as the villagers. A girl stood in front of them, wearing a thinly quilted lavender robe with a heavy brocade sash. Over it was a full, plum-coloured, satin coat embroidered with crimson maple leaves. It's heavy, trailing sleeves hung low against her sides, so long that they brushed against her thighs.

There was nothing to show that this woman was of any threat, in fact, she appeared like she hadn't intended on leaving the house at all. The leader, an incredibly large man, yelled something at her but Barry couldn't even begin to decipher it... He now regretted not taking that Japanese class back in High School.

None of them were moving a muscle, but the darkening expression on the leaders face ensured that it wouldn't stay this way for long.

The girl merely stared at him, hands in the air, completely unarmed. The leader waved his men out of the way. One of them backed straight into a trap, in the middle of the ground. He let out a yelp and fell in, sending a shower of autumnal leaves from the hole and into the air; in seconds, the surrounding area was shrouded by them.

The leader growled and lunged for the girl. Every fibre in Barry's body screamed at him to help her... but he couldn't. He had to keep reminding himself that he wasn't allowed to interfere with past events.

The man brought down his sword with both hands, but the woman was too fast for him and the blow glanced off the floor. Once the girl had dodged yet another strike, she reached for a nearby shrub and pulled out her own sword. She aimed at the leader's legs and swung with all her strength. The blade whizzed through the darkness, but there was no thud of impact. Somehow this bull of a man had jumped up just in time and on the way down threw himself at her with the force of a boulder.

Their height difference was so severe that it looked as if she were tangling with a bear, not because she was short (in fact she was rather tall), but the other man was so monstrous that he shamed any buildings or trees nearby. The woman grabbed him by the throat and landed two or three blows that made Barry think the man's skull would crack. Then she visibly froze. With one quick swish the man was sent flying through the air. He landed against a bush, rocking the forest and everything in it. As the girl pulled herself back up and raised the sword to come down on the man's head, his followers ran in to attack. Barry couldn't take it anymore. He'd never been proficient at watching people die.

Before the men could ambush her, Flash darted towards them. In less than a second they were all piled on top of each other like a human mountain, alive but unconscious. The girl, in a rather delayed reaction as far as Barry was concerned, looked around expecting to see the plethora of attackers. When she didn't, her attention turned back to the leader... but he wasn't there anymore either.

Now that he was out of hiding, he could see her more clearly. The collars of her robes were set far back to reveal the sensuous, vulnerable curve of her spine and the nape of her neck. The rush of light from the moon glowed on her face, delicate and slender. The silver of its glow was reflected in the dark brown irises of her eyes. She had eyes not unlike a swallow's, long and curved. Her narrow, high-bridged nose and the full lips of her small mouth cast shadows across her slightly tanned cheek.

"I really hope you're the good guy... or girl... otherwise, I just knocked these men out for no reason." Barry joked... though he was seriously hoping he had helped the right person. The girl sheathed her weapon and moved the holder over her back without a word. Barry groaned at his own idiocy. "Right...You probably have no idea what I'm saying, do you?"

The girl finally spared him a look, and when she did, her eyes lingered over the suit as if it were the strangest thing she'd ever seen. Maybe it was. Barry wasn't sure where he had landed, but he knew for sure that none of them dressed even remotely similar to the people from his time.

The girl raised an eyebrow at him, likely because she couldn't figure out why he was wearing something so impossibly tight. Eventually though, his odd choice of clothing didn't seem relevant enough to keep her standing there in the open. She turned on heel, and started walking in the opposite direction without a word.

"You're welcome!" Barry called out sarcastically, leaning against the pile of bodies with a huff.

The girl turned and Barry froze on the spot.

"Kochira e dozo." She said and each word was just as confusing as the next. Barry shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, unsure how to tell her that he couldn't understand. She waved her hand swiftly, and rather aggressively. "Kochira e dozo."

"Oh! Follow you?" He replied despite the knowledge that she probably didn't speak English, and even if she did, it was unlikely to be modern English.

The girl didn't answer, she simply waved her hand once more and started walking away again. It didn't look like she was going to stop this time, whether he went with her or not.

Barry's mind buzzed with scenarios. He was almost certain that following her would alter the past even further... but did it really matter now? He'd already interfered, and she was his best chance of getting answers.

Barry took one more look at his surroundings. The forest was getting darker and the branches of trees now appeared like spindly fingers reaching for him. The sky was painted black and different hues of blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.

He gave a sigh of defeat, and with little more hesitation, he ran after the girl. The atmosphere around him grew colder the further they walked, and still he didn't know where he was, when he was, or where he was going.

—-

Author's Note: This story is part of my DC series, which consists of eight stories (Invincible, Escape Velocity, The Throne of Atlantis, Inhuman, Mortal, Peacekeeper, Elysium, and Legacy). It's not necessary to read them all if you're not interested, but they will link together as if they were operating within the same universe.