It was an autumn day. Far enough from summer to have lost the heat and not close enough to winter to have that bite of cold. The leaves had begun to fall and rain was in the forecast. The Platinum Railroad of Science bustled with activity as it did on any normal day, pedestrians walked the streets, the smooth hum of automobiles brushed through the streets, and then of course there was him.
The metahuman mockery of motion itself, Alex West, Velocity. Key City's resident superhero. The City of Silver Angels had experienced a drastic decrease in crime over the past several months due to Alex's return and lately whenever the white lightning of the Superhuman phenomena was seen it was usually to let the city know that he was still out there -watching over them-
There was nothing that Alex enjoyed more than protecting this city, he lived here, breathed it's air, he knew it's citizens in the costume and without it because it didn't matter if it was a cluster of bricks and metal. Alexander would give anything to protect his home, he would die for his people and bleed for them.
"So my friends told me that you wear red so that others can't see you bleed? But I told them that you were so fast that you never bled, nothing can catch up to you right?!" Asked Jonah, a young mutant Alex had been seeing lately to help with his powers, Jonah stayed in one of Key City's Mutant Clinics, places to help those with powers learn to control their special abilities. Jonah had a type of Combustion manipulation, a dangerous and powerful ability that Alex sought to help him control,
Alex leaned on the light fixture and shook his head with a smile as he replied back "I think your friend was thinking of someone else, but I'll always be there for you guys." Getting up off the light pole Alex would ruffle Jonah's hair and begin walking "Tell the others I'll be in to check on them tomorrow." Then in a flash of light, he was gone.
It was about 9:30 in when Alex decided to stop his patrol, things had been quiet leading up to that point and he had homework that he needed completed. Walking into his empty living room Alex would grab his backpack and neatly set it on the floor positioning it perfectly against his lamp dresser. Then grabbing his remote he would turn on his T.V before getting heavily absorbed in his Calculus homework.
An Hour of Homework Later
Alex sighed and shut his calculus book as he sat back in his chair and stared at his T.V. as the news began playing, the emergency broadcast began blaring through Alex's speakers as he leaned forward his eyes growing wide.
Explosion at Mutant Clinic!
The report hadn't even fully played across the screen before Alex was out of the door, the sound barrier shattering as he entered the city limits. His chest heaved with exertion, his blood pumped like engine fuel as motion curved around the Fastest Man Alive pushing him forward and through the city.
Come on Alex MOVE!
His mind raced as he tried his best to move as fast as possible but still be safe, Speed Force aura or not moving too quickly in a confined city would do more damage than good. Time was slow but not slow enough, he drew nearer, close enough for the smoke to almost choke him, and force him down but he still flew forward as his aura lit a way through the smog covering his face. He could see two figures outside the now smoking clinic, one a small child about the age of 13 squirming in the grip of another man his eyes glowing red, his small hands pulsating energy.
The kid's gaze locked onto Alex's enclosing form and he began to scream louder, the air growing hotter around him.
Alex pushed a little closer, the heat burning him through his uniform, his hair began to smoke and appear as if it were actually on fire. A few feet closer and he could make out Jonah's face tear-streaked and filled with unbridled horror, weirdly Alex couldn't make out the other man's face but he felt Dark Energy radiating from his body clashing against Alex's Speed Force energy.
The man leaned in close as Alex finally got within striking distance and with speed that should have been impossible and gripped his arm, clenching with a grip that caused the Speedster to scream in pain.
His hot breath pushed cruelly across Alex's cheek as he spoke, his chilling laughter drew Alex to attempt to squirm out of his grip to no avail, he was scared to use his powers with Jonah near especially with the child looking as if he was about to detonate at that very moment.
"The "Crisis" is here Alex West. The Dark Multiverse has collided with your reality and soon your lives will be ours. But for now take this as a parting gift."
He squeezed the boys arm and threw Alex to the ground laughing as he did it, the Speedster rose to scramble at Jonah but stopped seeing the dark energy that began flowing from the mystery man's arm into Jonah's body almost as if he was feeding the child kerosene.
"VELOCITY HELP ME!" He screamed -begged- desperately at Alex, fresh tears were running down his face, Velocity stared at him, for the first time in his career he truly didn't know what to do. Alex was scared. He knew what was going to happen, Jonah was about to explode and from the looks of it the blast would not be pretty; Alex had to choose between one life or the life of everyone who could be affected by this; there was no way to stop it anymore, it was either Jonah or the city...
And he ran away.
His friends scream broke his heart as Alex shot forward racing towards the nearby buildings and pulling the people out as fast as he could, he would always see the final look Jonah had given him, panic, fear, betrayal, all etched in Alex's brain for eternity.
He went through evacuating everyone within a 12-block radius, running as hard as he could to get everyone to safety though the sound of Jonah's screams still terrorized him. Alex's head bled red, his face burned like someone had taken an iron to the side of his cheek, his legs were aching but still running and his right arm was fractured in at least two placed.
But he did it.
He got everyone out safely.
Back at the Clinic:
Out on the rolling skyline, a lancelike ray of blue-white light shot up into the gathering dusk--a clump of five rays, really all generated by the now burning Jonah, the light blended into one in the distance. An instant later, there was a blinding flash, like sheet-lightning, and a huge ball of varicolored fire belched upward, leaving a series of smoke-rings to float more slowly after it. That fireball flattened, then spread to form the mushroom-head of a column of incandescent gas that mounted to overtake it, engorging the smoke-rings as it rose, twisting, writhing, changing shape, turning to dark smoke in one moment and belching flame and crackling with lightning the next.
Alex stared at the explosion in horror as it enveloped several city blocks reducing them to nothing but ash and husks of buildings, he shot forward aiming to dash through the explosion praying that his aura would protect him but the instant he closed the gap between the explosion he was thrown back like a dodgeball with his aura being the only thing that kept him alive. He rolled hard smashing through of the several decayed buildings until he halted, barely conscious, clinging to life.
The U.S watched in shock as a portion of Key city burned with unbridled rage, the smoke-filled air turns the moon into a dark orb.
Alex stood up and ran back to the origin of the explosion, Jonah was gone and so was the man who made him blow. Looking around he could see the blood that stained the grown congealed and brown. The air was pungent with the odor of the recently deceased with those who had been caught in the Clinic left with no way out. They were dead, men and women, children younger than Jonah all caught in something that had nothing to do with them, all victims of the upcoming crisis. Despite the grim outlook Alex still searched the rubble for survivors, he found some, but few.
Each corpse buried it's way in his mind refusing to let go, pushing into his memory bank and engraving itself there.
Alex had failed.
And the entire city had seen it.
Alex sat in his room with nothing illuminating his sight except a small candle that filled his room with the amazing scent of lavender. The suit that usually vanished into nothing hung on his door right in front of his face, the suit of course didn't have a mark on it, the rips and tears were easily repaired with Speed Force energy, but Alex on the other hand was torn up, cuts and bruises lined his whole body, his fractured arm clung painfully to his chest.
He stared at his uniform in the barely lit darkness, the poetic meaning taunting him. He saw the public view of him within its perfect fabric, not a crease or a wrinkle. They saw him as a god, a deity among men as they watched him run around at the speed of light with a grin saving people doing things that no being should be able to do.
No one saw the 17-year-old underneath the cowl, the burden he held was now deeper than ever, no other day had hurt worse than this.
I'll always be there for you guys.
His vision began to blur and the candles flickering flame became an indescribable mess of light.
I'll always be there for you guys.
He could still smell their burning flesh and he shook his head trying to drown out the faces. Blood dripped from the face of the man who never bled and stained his blanket.
Soon streaming tears cleansed his red cheeks. Few droplets remained, forgetting their way as the path was swept from beneath them, consequently blurring Alex's vision even more with waves of sadness, the salty release calmly flowed into his mouth so that he could taste his own sorrow.
Bitter. Unforgiving. Pain.
He would never forgive himself for what happened that day, but even as he sat there reveling in his sorrow he was thinking.
The Crisis is here.
I'm not ready.
But Alex was a member of S'elbrity now, and he didn't have to face this threat alone, he had already worked with Samson and he knew...he knew that the Superman of Superheroes wouldn't leave him hanging.
So Alex let the grief take him, the emptiness in his heart, the numbness pounding his brain, the salty droplets that flowed unchecked from his eyes, he let it take him away so that he would learn tomorrow to never let something like this happen again.
Tomorrow he would rebuild.
So let the tears flow tonight.