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DCU The Flash #21 The Eradicator (The Forgotten)

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posted by King Clown alias King Clown on Thursday 28th of April 2022 10:57:59 PM

Barry rushed along the road, the pyre of flames growing nearer. The blue color was throwing him off, taking any suspension away from Rory, or any other fire-based villains he'd seen around. As he rounded the block, he spotted a lone man in the parking lot of Central City General. The brightness of the fire made it hard to see, but the man's outline was easily visible. "Hey, fireman!" Barry called, watching as the man turned his head, a bird-like helmet covering his face. "How about you leave the hospital alone, those people don't need to get hurt." "Fireman... I'm hurt you don't recognize me," the man said through a modulated voice. Turning around fully, Barry got a good look at the pristine white suit with black accents and armor plating on the chest and arms. Wing-like shoulder pads protruded from his neck guard, accompanying the bird theme. His hand lit up blue, chucking a ball of fire at Barry, which he narrowly dodged. "I thought we had something special, Flash!" 'Something special? He must be one of Jay's old rogues...' Barry thought, weaving under a second fireball. "I'm not the same Flash you used to face, sorry if I don't remember." The man ignored Barry, continuing to throw the fire like baseballs. Barry shot forward both arms, rapidly spinning them to create funnels of wind. Each fireball thrown was dispersed by the air currents, causing the pyro to cease his assault. "Heh, not the same… like that matters to me..." he mumbled before slamming both hands to the ground, sending forward a tidal wave of fire. "Still the same to me!" Barry stood in awe at the amount of flames rushing towards him before he spun in place, the vortex keeping the fire from hitting his body. Stopping, he barely ducked under a flaming fist aimed at his head, quickly dashing backwards to gain some distance. "If you're an old friend of Jay's, then how are you still up and about?" Barry asked, watching as the man recovered from his punch. "You should be old... maybe even dead." "Dead? Me?" he chuckled, bringing himself to a stand. His hand drifted to the shoulder pads, fingers running along the design. "You see these feathers on my armor? They represent the phoenix that burns inside of me. You know what a phoenix is, right?" "A mythological bird," Barry mumbled, watching as each of the man's fingertips lit up blue. "From the ashes of its predecessor…" "A new is born. I am eternal…" he said, crossing his arms, his armor glowing a bright blue, "the forever flame. The Heatmonger!" Slashing his arms forward, the flames shot out like tendrils, slicing through anything they touched. Barry barley was able to dodge the whips of fire, diving through the small gaps between each. Cars were diced through like butter, exploding into orange flames to combat the blue of Heatmonger's. Barry lifted himself up from the ground, watching as steam poured from between the feather-like plating of his armor. "Get back up, Red," he shouted, flames igniting around his feet. "I'm not letting you tap out just yet!" Barry's eyes widened as Heatmonger leapt into the air, flames shooting from his feet as propellants. Barry followed suit, rotating his arms to boost off the ground, watching as Heatmonger's flaming fist crashed into the pavement. The villain's head shot up, his masked face staring at Barry. "Flying is cheating, Flash!" Heatmonger shouted, prepping his fingers to repeat the tendril attack. "Come down and face me!" Barry immediately stopped the wind funnels, his body crashing down onto the asphalt. Not even a second later the sky was painted blue, the lines of flames slashing where he'd been mere moments ago. "Damn, that was a close one," he chuckled, letting the steam out from his suit vents once more. "I should've used a quicker attack, but that really isn't as fun, y'know?" "You're… you're getting faster," Barry said, lifting himself back up. "Is that some secret trick you've been hiding?" Before he got an answer, Barry dashed forward, his fist cocked back and ready to take Heatmonger down. Vomit spilled from Barry's mouth as a fist was slammed into his stomach, his eyes widening as the pain spread through his core. His body flew backwards, rolling onto the ground. 'What the… he's not speeding up,' Barry thought to himself, wiping his mouth with his forearm, 'Am I… slowing down?' "Ah, I can see that expression you've got, did you figure it out? C'mon, you did right?" the villain asked, stomping his foot on the asphalt, casting a ring of fire around them. "My flames have been affecting you since the moment you got here. You may not have noticed, but every second you're here, every moment the heat washes over your skin, you get a little slower." "That's… not possible," Barry grunted, pushing himself up. 'The amount of heat it would take to bypass the Speed Force's barrier and slow me down… the whole city would be a puddle.' "Anything is possible with the power of Raijin!" Heatmonger shouted, lifting his arm, his hand glowing bright. "That power will finally make you experience pain!" "Raijin? Who's-" " Barry's question was cut short as a volley for smaller, but faster fireballs shot out from the villain's hand. Barry made an attempt to dodge, but the heat combined with the speed of the smaller projectiles were too much, causing him to be hit in the shoulder. Barry's eyes widened in shock as pain coursed through his body. "Agh!" he screamed, his hand shooting to hold the wound as he fell to his knees. The fire was hot, much hotter than Rory's had ever been. Barry's eyes veered up as footsteps grew closer. "What's wrong, Flash?" Heatmonger asked, each step he took melting the pavement beneath him, "You fly… or I guess, run too close to the sun?" "How is it… so hot?" Barry asked, staring up at the bird shaped helmet. "You're pitiful, Flash," Heatmonger mumbled, flicking his open palms upward. A stream of fire followed the motion causing a pillar of flames to shoot up around Barry. He again cried out in agony as the fire coated his body, the only protection his suit, which was no match for the hellfire he was enduring. The air around him became sparse, the column of fire burning all of his oxygen. His eyes were drying with the lack of moisture. His skin sizzled. Then it stopped, the flames dispersed. He panted heavily as his healing kicked in, repairing the damaged skin cells that were now charred. "That speed healing really is something," Heatmonger said, smacking the center of his armor, causing a large burst of steam to exit his vents. "Even that magic healing can't restore everything." Barry swung his fist forward, but Heatmonger kicked his wrist, dropping his arm back to his side. "I'll… stop you…" Barry mumbled, trying to rise from his knees. "You're meant to be the savior of Central City?" Heatmonger asked, grabbing onto Barry's throat and hoisting him into the air. "You can't even beat a ghost from the past." Barry slammed his fist onto Heatmonger's wrist, trying desperately to free himself. "I'm not gonna let you hurt these peo-" Barry, before being cut off by a blast of hot air directly in his neck. "AGGHGHGGG!" "You think I care about these people!?" Heatmonger laughed, the eye lenses on his helmet folding up to reveal burning cerulean eyes. "No… I don't give a damn about any of them… I want you to look me in my eyes and tell me… are you the fastest man alive because you're The Flash… or are the Flash because you're the fastest man alive?" Barry opened his mouth to speak, but the tightening of the hand on his neck with the flow of steam kept the words in his throat. He slammed his fist onto Heatmonger's hand again, but the man stood firm. Barry stared into his blue eyes, eyes that told him everything. Eyes of insanity, he was going to kill Barry. Barry quickly began to vibrate his hand gritting his teeth at the lack of oxygen. Jutting his hand forward, the built up kinetic energy acted as a blast of air, shooting Heatmonger across the parking lot. The villain slammed hard into a pickup truck, the vehicle exploding on impact. Barry rolled along the pavement, lifting himself to a slow stand, coughing violently. His healing, however, was acting too slow with heat, causing him to tumble back to the ground. An explosion of blue flames overtook the pickup, the metal chassis melting like ice cream as Heatmonger stepped out from the wreckage. "Even getting charred like a filet, you still find a way out…" he laughed maniacally, streams of fire running from his hands along the ground. "Gotta commend the creativity, but it's over now." "Raijin…" "Huh?" Heatmonger mumbled, pausing mere feet away from Barry. "You mentioned Raijin… who, or what is that?" Barry asked, attempting to lift himself from the ground, but unable to stand. Heatmonger stared silently before audibly sighing. "I mean, I guess I can let you in on it," he said, the flames in his hands dying out. "You see-" "No," another voice called, grabbing both Barry and Heatmonger's attention. "You weren't supposed to mention it at all, let alone tell him more." "Wasn't I?" Barry's eyes were blown wide as the black suited man dropped from the rooftop, his tattered red cloak acting as a parachute, splaying along the ground as he landed. As he rose, his golden faceplate was illuminated by the blue flames, his red eyes still shining bright. "E-Eradicator…" "So you know him even though you've never met him?" Heatmonger sighed, arms falling dejectedly. "Is the suit really that unrecognizable?" "This isn't the same Flash, we went over this," Eradicator said, looking down at Barry. "Your personal grudge isn't with him… and it can't get in the way." "Yeah yeah, whatever," Heatmonger mumbled, jutting his thumb towards the burning building. "I did what I was told, you get it?" Barry watched in silence as Eradicator lifted a small keycard between his fingers. The man didn't take his eyes off Barry, ignoring Heatmonger reaching for the card entirely, simply batting away his partner's hands. "What's… the keycard?" Barry mumbled, attempting to stand once more, but failing again. "And what is Raijin!?" "Kill him." "Huh?" Heatmonger asked, turning to Eradicator. "Didn't you say I'm not supposed to let my grudge get in the way?" "He knows too much," Eradicator said, turning and heading towards the alleyway. "Torch him, then we're out." "Fine by me," Heatmonger shrugged, lightning up both hands. "Nothing… eh, who am I kidding, keep hell warm for me, oh and-" BOOM!!! Like thunder, a burst of air blew against Barry's face. Heatmonger was lifted from the ground and sent careening through the parking lot, landing hard on the asphalt. As he hit the ground, all the fire around them fizzled out into nothing but embers. "What the hell!?" Eradicator said, turning back around. Standing in the parking lot, helmet and suit on, was Jay. "Sorry it took me a minute, kid," he said, extending a hand to Barry. "Tahiti is a pretty far run." Barry smiled, raising his arm and grasping Jay's hand. With help from Jay, he was pulled to a stand, his speed healing returning in full with the flames gone. "I'm… I'm glad to see you," Barry mumbled, rubbing his neck. "So, the Eradicator returns…" Jay said, eyeing the man in black. "Who's the firebird?" "You don't recognize him?" Barry asked, watching as Jay shook his head. "He said he's an old enemy of yours, the Heatmonger." "Lucious?" Jay asked, watching as the man began to stir. "The last time I fought him was in the 60's, but he went missing. How is he…" "Alive? He said… he said immortal. A phoenix," Barry said, his head turning to the red-robed man. "That isn't who we need to worry about right now though… the Eradicator." "Is dangerous, yeah, I know," Jay said, lightning sparkling around him. "Can get touched, right?" "That's not all," Barry said, his eyes widening as Eradicator squatted down, gently placing his palm onto the pavement. "Jay, move!" Both speedsters dashed across the parking lot, avoiding the cracks that spread along the ground. Eradicator stayed crouched on the ground, placing a second hand down next to the first. As more cracks spread, the asphalt of the lot began to rupture, some chunks launching exploding into the air, others instantly crumbling to dust. The man slowly lifted himself up, head turning slightly "We're leaving," he ordered, before walking towards the alleyway. "Nah uh…" Heatmonger mumbled, holding his head as he stood up. "I'm taking that geezer out, they'll follow anyway so we need to be cautious." "They'll be busy," Eradicator said, walking into the darkness. Barry tilted his head in confusion, before his eyes shot wide open. His head snapped to the left, his blood running cold as he spotted the trail of cracks spread along the charred walls of the hospital. "Turning it to rubble is no fun," Heatmonger sighed, the fire in his hands fizzling out. "Fine, let's go. See you around, Red." "Jay!" Barry shouted, electricity surging off of him. "We have to get everyone out, now!" Like lightning, Barry was gone, his legs carrying him through each floor of the hospital at rapid pace. With every room passed, a mental note of how many people were inside was taken. The sound of the crumbling first floor could be heard, but Barry ignored it. He needed to save the people on the top floors first, hopefully Jay would cover the ground floors. '53, 54, 57, 61,' Barry thought to himself, the shattered glass of the windows crunching under every step. '207…' As Barry arrived on the top floor the ground beneath him shook. Looking out the broken window, the building had begun to topple. Clenching his fist and taking a running position, lightning danced around him. With a deep breath, he took his first step. The world was slower than normal, almost at a standstill. Sound was non-existent, scent completely forgotten. The droplets of water from the sprinkler systems were frozen mid-air, like time was stopped entirely. Letting out his breath, he took his second step, and the world returned in a flash. Barry moved from the top floor to a neighboring rooftop in a single second, three of the five patients from the floor carried alongside him. In another two seconds he'd returned to the rooftop with a doctor and another patient. Every second that passed the building fell further, but every floor cleared made the distance that much shorter, the trip that much faster. Barry was in a state of calm. He was in a state that caused him to be faster than he'd ever gone. Fast enough that Jay was moving at a normal person's pace. He felt fast enough to fight Thawne. The calm, however, would not last. It hurt. Each step taken felt like a landmine went off under his feet. Heatmonger's flames must have had a lasting effect, the barrier created by the Speed Force not strong enough to nullify the increase in his speed. He was running at the cost of his body. It didn't matter at the moment, however. He had a floor left, he had to push forward. He had to save them. As fast as he could he cleared out the final floor of the building, grabbing the final patient, a little girl. Hoisting her into his arms, and running down the flights of stairs. With each step the ground shook harder. Rubble fell from above, but Barry shielded the girl with his body, the building chunks falling against his back. As he rounded the front entrance, a large piece of the ceiling came crashing down onto the back of his neck, causing him to drop to the ground. His vision began to fade to black as the world sped up around him. Barry closed his eyes and clutched the girl in his arms, holding her beneath him to shield her from the incoming crash. Before a crash happened, however, he felt hands grab onto him and pull him upwards. Looking up, he saw Jay's sweat filled face. The older man dragged Barry and the girl through the lobby, before throwing them out the front entrance. Barry rolled along the asphalt, attempting to stand. "Jay!" Barry shouted as he reached out towards the man. The words fell on deaf ears, however, as the rubble came crashing down a second later, Barry's consciousness slipping moments after that. ---------------------------- NEXT TIME: The Voice of a God!



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