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DCU The Flash #25 Useless (The Forgotten)

(PID:52292942361) Source
posted by King Clown alias King Clown on Wednesday 17th of August 2022 10:20:51 PM

Daniel's eyes flutter open, the zapping of electricity ringing in his head. He blinks, an attempt to moisturize his incredibly dry eyes. The action does nothing however, as he begins to feel the dryness of his skin as well. Only then do his eyes go wide, surveying the area around him. He struggles, trying to stand, but is pulled back to the ground. Lowering his head, he again tries to pull himself free, but is stopped by the restraints around his body. The flaming blue wire around his body. "Heya, Dusty," a modulated voice calls, "your pet's awake." Daniel looks up from the fire, spotting the white-suited man from the news sitting atop a large generator. He idly plays with a blue fireball, tossing it into the air and letting it fall back into his palm. Daniel can hear a light humming from the villain, but the distortion of his voice makes the tune unrecognizable. "Let me go," Daniel snarls, grabbing Heatmonger's attention. "You hear me, you bastard!? Let me go!" Daniel thrashes against his bindings, the flames not scorching, but still hurting as they press against his skin. "What did I do?" Heatmonger mumbles, before his head turns. "I wouldn't struggle, you'll just end up scaring yourself." Daniel grunts, before screaming out in frustration. As much as he doesn't want to admit it, the villain is right, his jacket is already seared, anymore struggling and the binding will burn straight through. Defeated, he leans back, letting his head rest against the generator behind him. He finally takes in his surroundings. He was at the powerplant, the northern one, based on the hills to the east. He then turns, looking out to where Heatmonger is. He gasps, staring at the smoke and blue light emanating from just off the coast, Iron Heights. "You're a maniac," he says, looking up at the pyro. Heatmonger sighs, the fireball dissolving in midair. "What is it with that reaction?" he asks, turning his body to face Daniel. "You and him both… neither of you have lived it… purgatory. Neither of you would understand." "It's not just that," Daniel adds, narrowing his eyes. "You put the hospital in the middle of a flame tornado!" "That was all for show, kid," he chuckles, looking out at the ruins of CCG. "The real flames were in the parking lot, the ones around the hospital were about as hot as those bindings. No one was gonna get hurt." "Oh yeah?" Daniel challenges, leaning forward, letting the binding sear his jacket once more. "Letting the building collapse begs to differ." "You really should trust me when I say this, West," Heatmonger threatens, hopping down from his perch and squatting right in front of Daniel. "If I didn't think he was fast enough, then I would've stepped in." Daniel winces as Heatmonger raises his index finger with a small flame lit on his fingertip. The flame is much hotter than the binding. "How thoughtful of you," he spits. "That's enough." A chill runs down Daniel's spine, his head refusing to turn towards the voice. Instead he chooses to watch Heatmonger, who keeps his gaze on Daniel a moment longer. "Can't two adults have a nice conversation?" He asks, before he grabs Daniel by the chin and turns his head towards Eradicator. Daniel chokes on his own breath at the sight. The man stands across the plant, cape draped over both shoulders. His hood is down, pooling around his neck to let his black hair flow freely in the light breeze. His blood red eyes glow against the darkness of the night, sending goosebumps down Daniel's neck. "Someone has been tailing us," he mumbles, raising his arm into the air. Held in his hand is a severed arm, blood dripping from its other end. With a light squeeze, the arm crumbles to dust. "It won't be long until he shows, get your fire ready." Heatmonger looks back at Daniel, letting go of his chin. "Just when we were getting to know each other too," he sighs, drawing a line of fire over his mouth that resembles a frown. "Maybe next- well, that probably won't work… eh whatever." Daniel swallows the breath he was holding as the man stands. He looks at the dust of the severed arm, watching as the wind takes it away. He hates to admit it, hates that it makes him feel like a bad person, but he's glad. He's glad he saw the tattoo on the forearm. He's glad it wasn't his family. He wouldn't know what to do if Eradicator took someone else from him. -^- Barry enters the powerplant with Joe following just behind him. Heatmonger's flames light the place up, running along the power lines like mere decorations. His speed is already draining, which means they'd need to act fast. Get in and get out. He knows Joe is scared, even if he's doing his best to hide it. Between Francine, August, and even Barry's own encounters with Eradicator. Even so, he's marching into the situation as calmly as he can to save his family. Barry can't help but feel proud of him, he's proud to be Joe's son. "Daniel!" Joe shouts, breaking Barry from his thoughts and running towards the boy. He practically falls into a crouch, holding Daniel's head up whilst looking him over. "He's not hurt, at least I don't think he is… but he's unconscious." Barry surveys the area before he joins the two, taking note of the flame bindings. "We need to be careful," Barry says, placing his hand against the restraints before yanking it back. "Pressure seems to make it hotter, we need to wait until he's taken out." "Is he really the one you should worry about?" Both Barry and Joe look up to see Eradicator perched atop the generator Daniel is sitting against. Barry grabs Joe, dashing back away from the pounce attack. Barry pants, feeling the way his sweat rolls down his skin. His speed is already draining, he'll need to move quickly and carefully. Before he has a chance to attack, Eradicator freezes, arms falling to his sides. Barry tilts his head, confused by the white glow of his eyes replacing his usual red. Barry doesn't let the opportunity go to waste, dashing forward with his fist cocked back. The moment his attack connects, his world goes white. His mind floods with flashes of black and white lightning. He sees an endless lake, one similar to the Speed Force plane he was at upon first receiving his powers. He feels weightless, unlike the time before. He doesn't have the golden glow he did upon first entering, rather a dull grey. He isn't in the Speed Force, not the Negative Speed Force… "W̴̧̛͉̝͉̬̞͖̙͂͌̂̅̎͑̌͆̆͘͝h̶̢̨̰̯͈̟͚͐͋̍͛́̒͛̒̃͘ȩ̸̼̼̯̓̀̆̊̀͐̏̚r̵̜̗̣̹̦͆̍́̂͆̀̉͌̉̇̅͠ȩ̴̖̪̣̖̣̣͚̩̏͘ ̵̳̙̔̎͌̉̑͑ȃ̵͇̘̗͍͊̾͗̍̓m̶͖̗̂́́͊͜ ̵͉̩̭͇̞̯͔̽͛̄̀͗͋͝ͅÍ̸̼̦͙͎͙̍͋͗?̶̧̨̛̦̥̺̗̺̲̯̓͊͐̋̃͊̕͘ͅ" In the distance, narrowing his eyes, Barry sees Eradicator knelt before a large figure. His cape billows in the wind and his armor reflects the lightning strikes, constantly shifting between black and white. Barry moves closer, enamored by the bright, pure light of the figure's eyes. Barry flinches as his head snaps towards him, those bright eyes turning a deep black. "You are not meant to be here, Flash," the figure says, raising his hand into the air. Black and white lightning sparking off each finger, like claws. "R̴̛̺̻̩̤̲͖̜̂̓̉̌͒͌͑̉̚ͅa̶̻̺͔͈̙̞̜̺͕͖̠̍̾į̸̺̜̪̰͓̰͇͇̞̀̇j̶̛͈̰͕̜̺̏̄̓̽̒̒i̵̳̹͉̮͆͊͊̾̔͘n̶̪͕̝̊̐̀͝?̴̯̖̬̻̟̮̗͉͍̤̟̤͛̍̄̉̀͊͛͘͝" The claws shoot forward, stabbing into Barry and causing him to cry out. A follow-up burst of energy launches him through the pseudo-Speed Force plane and back to reality. His vision returns slowly, as do his other senses, finding himself flat on his back. He tries to stand, but stumbles, his legs feeling weaker than normal. "What happened?" Joe asks, helping to steady Barry. "You were frozen just like him." "He's… communicating with Raijin." Barry mumbles, looking down at the sparking black and white lightning lingering on his body. He then looks at Eradicator, watching the white eyes dull. The second Eradicator's eyes return to red, he leaps forward, his arm extending out like a tiger pouncing its prey. Barry's eyes blow wide at the speed of the villain's attack. Before he's given the chance to dodge, a wall of blue fire erupts between Barry and Eradicator, cutting off the villain's attack. Barry is caught off guard, stumbling to the ground at the sight of the flames. Joe is quick to offer a hand, Barry taking it with haste. Barry raises his hand as the fire rages on in an attempt to block the heat, but pauses, eyes narrowing. The flames, while as bright as before, aren't hot, the opposite in fact. They're ice cold. He reaches his hand out, the fire surrounding his arm like a coat, but inflicting no pain whatsoever. He looks back at Joe, the man's face showcasing confusion. As the flames die down, Barry locks eyes with Eradicator once more. The man's hand is also extended, bathing in the cold fire. His head turns to the right, where the fire came from. Heatmonger stands atop one of the generators, right hand still smoking from the blast as steam shoots from his feather-shaped vents. "Watch those hands, Dusty," Heatmonger calls out, shaking his head at his partner. "We need him alive, remember?" "Raijin has spoken to me!" Eradicator shouts back, fists clenching tight as he turns to his partner. "Kill the Flash! That is our objective!" "That's interesting," Heatmonger chuckles, the lenses on his helmet sliding open, blue eyes boring into Eradicator, "cause I sure as hell didn't hear him." Barry feels the tension between the two rise as the air becomes thicker, hotter. He took note of the discourse between the two back at CCG, but it seemed even more prevalent now, like something has changed in one of them. Barry's eyes widen as he remembers his interaction with Heatmonger at Iron Heights. The arrogant bravado displayed at CCG had been gone entirely, replaced with a quiet and mournful demeanor, as if the former was all a facade. "You've never been in chains, locked away from what you hold most dear. With Raijin's power… I'll make my world a reality. I'll make sure no one feels that pain again." "What's going on?" Joe whispers, turning his head ever-so slightly towards Barry. "Ideology," Barry mumbles, not taking his eyes off the duo. "What are you talking about!?" Eradicator shouts out, the wind taking his hood off. "Are you questioning Raijin!?" "Nah… Raijin is not to be questioned," Heatmonger says, his hands re-igniting as he steps down from the generator. "I just… find it odd is all. The psychotic serial killer who seems to be obsessed with this pathetic family." Heatmonger clenches his fist. Barry watches in horror as the flame restraints holding Daniel grow in size, an audible cry from Daniel echoing out through the plant. "Daniel!" Joe shouts, attempting to rush forward, only stopped by Barry. "I mean, seriously… you think I'm blind or something?" he asks, letting the flames around Daniel fall back to their original size. "You… delay our mission by five hours. You destroy the keycard needed to retrieve Morrow's Android. You say Raijin wants the kid. You leave a witness alive to find us… and now our plan goes from needing Flash to offing him? "How do I know Raijin has ever spoken to-" Heatmonger's left hand shoots into the air, a steak of fire trailing behind it. The flames form a crude shield stretching from the ground to his head. In the next moment several loud pops echo in the night. Everyone freezes in place, eyes locking onto Heatmonger. The pyro chuckles, shaking his head absentmindedly as he holds his arm up. "That wasn't too bad of a plan, Heart!" Heatmonger says, allowing the flame shield to disperse. His hands come together as he slowly claps up at the rafters. "I mean, my armor is bullet proof, so it wouldn't have done much but scratch the paint… but my top hat wearing acquaintance worked hard on this suit and he's a stickler for stuff like that." "Damn," Barry mumbles, hand still holding Joe's shoulder. "You what!?"" Barry cringes as Joe explodes at August, both anger and concern in his voice. He feels a similar anger, mad at August for risking his own life the way he did. He also knows Daniel is hurt, and that August watched him be taken away. "Joe…" "We don't have time to talk about this now Joe," August says, pulling his pistol from his holster and checking the clip. "I know that dammit, but you're still my son!" Joe yells, grabbing August by the shoulders and shaking him. "You… you can't just throw yourself away like that!" "Your son is inside there, alone," August says, shrugging Joe's hands off his shoulder, a dark frown forming on his face. "I'm just doing my job." "August… after all this we'll talk… about all of this," Barry says, turning towards the entrance. "For now, you two stay together and stay behind me." "No." Barry stops, turning back to August. "What?" "You… you can't beat both of them, we all know that," August explains, walking past Barry towards a broken part of the entrance gate. "Let me take the pyro." "Are you nuts?" Barry shouts, walking towards August. "He burned me alive, August. If it weren't for my speed healing, I'd be a charred corpse." "Look, Barry," August sighs, expression firm and commanding. "I saw what he did. I saw him burn you in a pillar of flames… but I can't help with Eradicator… I know that much. So let me try with him." Barry clenches his fists, ready to refute, but doesn't as he looks into August's eyes. They aren't full of determination, they're pleading for a second chance. "I… I don't like this…" Barry says, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "I don't like it, but I trust you, August. Just… just please be careful." "Yeah, got it." "August, get out of here!" Joe shouts, aiming his pistol at Heatmonger and firing off three rounds. Heatmonger again raises a shield, blocking the shots. His head turns back to the rafters, lenses flipping down. He slams his palms onto the ground, spreading his flames along the power lines before launching himself up to the rafters with a burst of fire from his feet. "I'm gonna go have a nice chat with the Detective," Heatmonger shouts out, hands lighting up as he speaks. "When I get back, I expect to see no more than two piles of ash!" Barry watches as Heatmonger begins to sprint after August. He attempts to run after the two, but can already feel his speed being sapped by the fresh flames. He turns to Joe, patting him on the back. "Go!" he shouts, giving him a slight push. "You and August slow Coolidge down, I've-" "Flash, look out!" Joe warns, shooting two more shots from his revolver. Barry looks in front of him to see Eradicator charging forward, hands raised to catch the bullets. Barry follows the shots, weaving to the left just as Eradicator grabs them. Now behind Eradicator, Barry slams his fist into the man's back, sending him crashing into the ground. He swings his right leg into the air, lightning dancing off his boot as it comes down like a guillotine. Eradicator slams his palms onto the concrete causing the ground to rupture. Barry stumbles backwards, his foot narrowly missing Eradicator, denting the ground below. He attempts to bill his foot free, but finds it stuck as Eradicator quickly rises and swipes at Barry. With no time to think, Barry vibrates his hand as fast as possible, building up friction. With a snap, the energy is released with a burst of wind that sends both him and Eradicator across the plant. Barry rolls along the ground, clutching his wrist. His eyes meet Eradicator's, who is pulling himself back to a stand. Lifting himself up, Barry begins rapidly spinning his arms, his right wrist still stinging from the snap. He's only able to hold the attack for a second before he flies backwards, crashing into a generator. He prioritized vertical use of Jay's funnel technique, leaving horizontal attacks in need of work. The attack was successful, however, as Eradicator had been pushed further back away from Joe. "C'mon, August," he mumbles, lightning bouncing off his body. -^- Eddie grabs two of his protein bars from behind the counter, along with his checkbook. He has a satisfied smile on his face, one he isn't used to having. "You got your things packed up?" he asks, taking a bite of the bar as he sits down. "Yeah, I think I've got everything," Wally mumbles, digging through his bag. "I'll see you next week, Mr. Jones." Eddie sighs, opening the book and scribbling onto a check. "You're too earnest kid," he says, tearing the check and handing it to Wally, along with the bar. "Uhm… what's-" "Your paycheck. You are an employee here," Eddie says, chuckling at Wally's surprised expression. "Right… kinda forgot about that with all the stuff going on." Eddie stares at Wally as he stuffs the check into his wallet. He's known the boy for some time now, but his own grief and regrets stopped him from ever truly getting to know him. He knew the basics, sure, favorite color or food, but there was something itching at him. Something he feels he needs to know about the boy. "Wally," he calls, earning the boy's attention. "I… why? Why do you want to be a hero?" Wally stares at him, as if he were asking himself the same question. Just before he has a chance to speak, the power in, not just the building, but the northern part of the city goes out. Eddie looks over to Wally, who wears a concerned frown. Eddie follows Wally outside, eyes widening behind his sunglasses. The city's northern power plant was up in flames, blue flames to be exact. Images of Barry being thrown around like a ragdoll by Heatmonger flood Eddie's mind, as does Jay, still in a coma downstairs. He knows that if both Eradicator and Heatmonger are there, Barry will stand no chance. He knows that Barry will die. He looks over at Wally, frowning at the terrified expression on his face. His hands light up with golden lightning, steeling himself and his resolve . "Wally, get back inside." -^- August pants harshly, beads of sweat rolling down his face. He knew the heat would be hot, but his skin feels like it's ready to melt. His body leans against one of the central generators as he inwardly curses at himself. He failed. He failed to stop Heatmonger then and there, meaning he failed to save Daniel. Barry is giving it his all, and he's stuck here hiding. Running. "Detective~" Heatmonger sings, sending a chill down August's spine. "I get hide-and-seek is fun and all, but aren't you a little old for it?" August slides the clip from his pistol, cursing once more; he only had three bullets left. Pushing the clip back in, he weighs his options. Running is pointless, at least until the flames die down. Heatmonger's armor is bulletproof, so he can't waste any shots until he can get a piece off. He stopped his sneak attack before, it wouldn't work this time either, and trying to fight him head on is suicide. He has to do something, but what? "What's wrong, Auggy? Can I call you that?" Heatmonger asks, amping up the size of the flames. "Realizing you can't do anything to stop me? That you're useless? It doesn't matter how hard you try… you're a mortal man living in a world of gods. I know the feeling, having no control. Being put into a situation where you couldn't do a damn thing, sat helpless… forced to watch it all happen. It eats away at you, slowly. Just chipping at your mind until it finally breaks. Until you finally realize you have to get up and take control for yourself. That is what happened to you, right? With Trickster and Bling? See, I make sure I know my enemy before I make a move, that's how I keep my control. I've been watching Flash since I was a kid, I'd always have my eyes on him… but his friends are also unique individuals. For instance, a mechanic who worked for Trickster was found bloody and beaten in an alley… and August Heart just so happens to be the only person other than Flash on the scene. Or how your face is full of bruises, and the guy who was tailing us had a tattoo, for a local fight club. "You're slipping into the same darkness all of us do, just for an ounce of control!" he cackles, blasting out a vortex of flames at the generator August is hiding behind. He narrowly rolls out of the attack's path, swallowing as he begins to run. August attempts to stand, but falls to his knees. Looking up, he watches as Eradicator moves towards him, lifting and slamming a boot into his face. As his vision fades, the last thing he sees is Daniel being taken away. After a few steps, he slows, stopping in place. "Yeah… yeah I am," August says, looking down at his hand, knuckles still stained with blood. "I am useless. I'm a part of a system that's flawed to its core… I'm running as fast as I can to help, but I've been lapped hundreds of times already. What am I supposed to do? These gods fly through the skies and run faster than sound… while I'm an ant who's desperately trying to make change… I'm nothing compared to him." "I'm glad you agree," Heatmonger chuckles, standing across from August. "I didn't need the whole spiel, but-" August turns donning a sad smile. "You said I'm slipping into the darkness?" he asks, reaching into his jacket pocket. "Well you're right about that… He's the shining light of this city, a ray of hope for its people, and I'll do anything I can to help him." August pulls his hand out of his pocket and flicks his thumb outwards, the pin of a grenade sliding out with it. The click echoes in the silence of the power plant. "Afterall, every ray of sunlight needs a shadow to race behind it." ---------------------------- NEXT TIME: Climax: The End is Near!



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