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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 12 - The Flash

Disclaimer: This is the 12th chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

I feel trapped in this car. The problem is not the leg room, the comfort of the seat or even the driver, who stays focused on the road ahead.

Ever since I gained superspeed, I found I could run faster than any automobile's top speed. That, more than anything, made my ability to get from one place to another in mere seconds a better means of getting around than riding in any vehicle. The exhiliration of the air pushing against my face is quite a feeling, too.

Most of all, it allowed me a chance to be alone. With the rest of the world rushing by me, blending in a mixture of lights and blurs, it was almost like I was by myself, that there was no reason to associate with another person. Only time I ever did so was to question somebody, especially if that somebody worked for Warren Hosills.

And now is a time when I would prefer to be alone -- though it's to sort out some questions. Like, why I am bothering to work with other people now?

I shift about in my seat and glance at the driver. Still can't figure out why the Green Arrow revealed his identity of George Mortensen to me. Heck, I don't know why I revealed my identity to him. Perhaps because we won't be working together for long. At least, I don't plan to do that. And when we go our separate ways, he'll likely forget who I am.

Still, there's something about George that makes him seem different -- like he's the type who cares about everyone. I heard about how the Green Arrow wanted to look out for those who didn't have the influence or the connections that people like Hosills had. At least, that's the story I heard. So far, I haven't seen much evidence, but there's a part of me that tells me I should give George a chance to show what he can do.

Carl, the guy who calls himself the Canary, acts like he cares, too. But he seems more like someone who cares because he wanted to unravel the mystery about me. He just wanted to know more about my powers and how he could work with me to take down Intergang. That doesn't strike me as somebody I want to associate with for long. Sure, he and his partner cared for me when I got hurt, but that doesn't make them people I want to call friends.

And then there's Tara. She seemed so proud about how we saved everyone in Hub City -- or proud of herself is more like it. Who was she to tell me that I needed to back off? Doesn't she know the trouble Intergang has caused? That they're working for Hosills for some reason? On top of that, she kept casting a suspicious eye at me back at the bunker -- and I don't think it was because I ate so much pizza. It's not hard to figure out she doesn't trust me. So why would I want to work with somebody like her?

My eyes shift back to the road ahead. We're approaching Central City. The tall buildings in the distance make up the downtown and I can out multiple structures surrounding it, all facilities with fewer stories that cover a larger area. One in particular is a circular building a couple of miles ahead-- the giant, dome-shaped building that houses Frontier Labs. Some might mistake it for a sports coliseum, were it not for the large, white sign with black lettering outside.

George casts his eyes toward me. "You doing all right? You haven't said much on the way here."

I prop my elbow against the door and lean against my hand, staring out the side window. "Didn't think we had much to talk about."

"I wouldn't mind getting to know more about you," he says. "Like, for instance, how you got your powers."

My gaze turns back toward him. He has moved the steering wheel a little to the left, the vehicle changing lanes. I shift about in my seat again. "I told you I got struck by a lightning bolt. Mixed with some kind of chemicals -- don't remember more than that."

He flips the turn signal downward and pulls into a left-turn lane. "Where were you when it happened? I mean, it seems strange that you'd be around chemicals like that, just by walking down the street."

I've never shared this story with anyone else and I'm not sure what's making me do so now. "I was investigating a chemical company related to Hosills' work. At least, I thought it was. Next thing I knew, I got hit with the lightning and knocked into some barrels. I can only assume the chemicals spilled and some reaction happened."

"You mean, you were out for a while?"

I nod. "Only for a minute. I heard somebody talking and hurried to get out of there -- that's when I noticed I had superspeed. Surprised I wasn't seriously hurt."

George has been waiting for traffic to clear. When it does, he turns the car toward the entrance to Frontier Labs. "Seems strange that lightning would randomly strike you like that."

"Yeah, guess I never bothered to ask why. All I cared about was using my superspeed to go after Hosills."

He drives the car toward a small booth. Figures that Hosills would have a checkpoint to keep an eye on visitors. George lowers the car window and a man sitting inside the booth leans over. The man shows no hint of emotion on his face.

"State your name and business," the man said.

George smiles. "I'm George Mortensen. Was hoping to visit with Mr. Hosills, if I may."

The man nods.  "All right, you may pass. But you will have to speak with his receptionist to see if he's available."

"Understood." George rolls up the window. I notice the man in the booth staring back at me, but he doesn't change expression. Though I can't help but wonder if he finds it strange that George would have a guest with him.

George drives the car through the parking lot and finds the visitor spaces closest to the building, then pulls into one. He unfastens his seat belt and reaches over toward the back seat. "Now, you understand what you need to do, right?"

I undo my seat belt and push it back. "Yeah, you want me to introduce myself as an intern and I'm here to observe."

"Yes, but you know what you really need to do." He pulls a silver box up front and opens it. Inside are a number of small electronic devices, none of them larger than a quarter. "When you are up front, you need to place some of these devices in any area you can access. They will be disable security systems in place when we return."

I grab a handful of the devices and slide them into the pockets of my tan dress pants. Though I had been wearing a simple T-shirt and jeans underneath my red Flash costume, George's sister Cissie was kind enough to lend me one of her outfits. It's been a long time since I had pants and a white blouse as lovely as this. Never thought about buying nice clothes for myself, though, because I need to make that inheritance from my parents last as long as I can.

George opens the door and steps out of the car. I exit the vehicle as well and stare up at the large building before me. It's been a while since I've been here -- the last time I showed up, I was fast enough to get past the checkpoint at the entranceway, but I noticed those motion sensors, heat sensors and other security measures as I approached the building. Of course, that was at night -- now it's daytime, when those measures aren't as intense.

We walk up to the main entrance doors and George whispers to me, "Be sure to plant the devices where nobody can see them."

"Do they have to be put near anything in particular?" I ask. "I mean, do they have to be close to anything?"

"They have a wide range -- they can disable a system that's a hundred feet away." He smiles. "My sister knows more about technology than I could ever have imagined."

I don't respond. My mindset is focused on one thing -- doing whatever it takes to take Hosills down. If this technology will finally allow me to go inside Frontier Labs at night and find out what he's doing, that's all I need to know.

George pulls the door open and holds it for me. We enter a small foyer and go through another door that takes us inside the lobby. It's a nondescript area with a small, white desk, and a coffee table surrounded by several red plush chairs opposite the desk. A couple of tall, potted plants have been placed near the chairs. The sunlight shines through the glass overhead. Behind the desk sits a small woman with brown hair pulled back behind her head and wearing eyeglasses.

The woman has been staring at a computer screen for several minutes, when she turns toward us. She speaks with a dull tone. "May I help you?"

George manages a smile. "I am here to see Mr. Warren Hosills."

The woman stares at me, like I don't belong here.

George glances at me. "Oh, I'm sorry, this is my intern, Destiny. She asked if she could come observe."

I'm not sure what to say. All I can do is shrug and mutter, "Yeah, if that's all right."

The receptionist pushes back her chair. "I will have to check to see if he's available." She turns toward a black telephone that sits opposite the computer.

George whispers, "Better get moving."

He doesn't have to tell me twice. I speed off, moving about through the hallways, stopping only when I approach closed doors, which I check to see if any of them require a code to unlock. Whenever I find them, I slap one of the devices underneath. In other places, the devices go underneath a counter or shelf. I even find a water cooler on which I place a device toward the back.

I don't have time to take in the layout, but one thing catches my eye. There's a metal door with a window and, through the glass, I see two technicians working on something. It's hard to make out what they are doing, given how they are hunched over.

But that's when I notice something strange. One of the technicians pulls away from whatever he was examing and walks toward another part of the room. What's odd about this is that his eyes appear to be glazed over -- almost like he's in a trance. It reminds me of those Intergang members I interrogated. He doesn't appear to notice me staring through the glass.

I step closer to the door, curious about what the technicians are doing. Though I don't want to get too close and risk revealing my presence, I wonder if they are working on this artifical intelligence that Hosills has talked about. I lean toward the glass and can see a lot of computer screens. The technicians don't notice me standing there. I think I can make out a table and something is placed upon it. Its shape resembles that of a gun. Could that be one of the weapons Intergang supplied to Hosills? Now I wonder if should slip into the room and investigate.

Then I hear a voice in my ear. "Flash, where are you?" It's George. I had forgotten about the communicator he gave me. Though he speaks in a calm tone, it sounds like I better get back up to the front lobby.

Off I go, speeding down the hallways, until I'm beside George once again. The receptionist places the phone back on the hook and glances toward us. Her stare remains hardened and she never smiles. "Mr. Hosills is in the middle of something important. Would you like to make an appointment?"

George reaches into his suit coat pocket and pulls out a card. "Just let him know George Mortensen stopped by. I'd be more than happy to arrange a time that works for him."

The receptionist takes the card, then pauses. She presses a hand against her forehead, as if she has a headache. I think I see her squint.

"Are you all right?" I ask.

The receptionist takes a quick breath and waves me off. "It's nothing. Thank you." She turns away and goes back to the computer monitor. I catch a glimpse of her eyes -- they look like they're glazed, just like that technician I saw earlier.

Part of me wants to press the issue with her, but I notice George walk toward the front doors. "Destiny, let's be on our way. I'm sure we'll catch Mr. Hosills another day." His tone suggests we need to leave now.

I follow him out of the building and toward the car. Once we reach it, George opens the driver's door and pulls out that box again. "We have a few more of these left. Maybe you should plant them around the perimeter." He passes the box over to me.

I take the remaining devices and sprint away. My surroundings blur past me and I only stop long enough to slap a device at random spots along the fence, the last going at the checkpoint, near the base of the booth. In a few seconds, I'm back beside the car.

"All done," I say.

He gives a quick nod. "Well, now we'll go back and find out if Cissie's devices work here as well as they do elsewhere." He steps inside the car.

I open the opposite door and slides into the seat. "Did you notice anything odd about that receptionist?"

"Maybe she's just had a rough day." George fastens his seat belt. "Why do you ask?"

"Her eyes were glassy -- and I noticed a technician inside who had eyes like that, too."

George shrugs. "I've heard stories about how much Warren Hosills expects his employees to devote everything they can to their work. Could be they get like that after a long day."

I'm not sure he understands what I'm getting at. "Yeah, but they were acting a lot like the members of Intergang I ran into. Vacant expressions, montone voices -- well, the Intergang members were only like that for a few seconds, but it seemed odd."

He stares at me for a minute. "What do you mean, only for a few seconds?"

I shrug. "I mean, one minute they were shaking in their shoes, then their faces became devoid of expression and they talked about how organics should terminated. Then they'd do back to acting scared, almost like they didn't remember saying anything like that."

He is quiet for a moment, then turns the key in the ignition and starts the car. "None of the Intergang members I rounded up acted like that. But it does sound strange."

"There's more," I say.

He shifts his glance back to me. "What is it?"

"I swore I saw those technicians working on a gun of some type. I know Intergang has been shipping weapons to Frontier Labs."

He shifts the car into reverse and backs out of the space. "Well, perhaps we'll get more answers tonight."

I didn't expect him to say that. "What are you talking about?"

"We're coming back to Frontier Labs tonight. We're going to find out what Hosills is up to. Thanks to the devices you planted, we should be able to slip inside and learn more."

He approaches the checkpoint and the man in the booth sees him and waves for him to leave. George drives back toward the main road and comes to a stop.

"You serious about this?" I ask.

He glances to his left, then turns the wheel to the right and pulls out. "I am. Hoped I could have met with Hosills and ask him some questions. But if he won't talk to us, we'll have to get the answers ourselves."

I sink back into the chair. Can't help but get a sense of satisfaction. For too long, I've been waiting to expose how Hosills has been manipulating Central City. And I may have George Mortensen to thank for it. Perhaps I was right to trust him after all.

But does this mean we'll be working with Carl and Tara? If so, I guess I can find a way to work with them -- as long as it means that I get my hands on Hosills.

To be continued in Chapter 13.

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