There was definitely not enough green on the canvas. Stepping back to give the unfinished work a critical eye, Lillian Allen stumbled over an open can of orange sunset and landed on her backside on the paint splattered dropcloth. “Oh! Right there…” Jumping to her feet, the teen tornado, worked her brush in thick, fast strokes to add the perfect touch of green to her latest wall-sized masterpiece.
A breeze rustled the dropcloth. “Hey little flower,” said Lilly’s father. She turned to see him standing there in his Flash uniform, a smile on his face. “Want to help me with a little thing downtown?”
Taking in her dad’s choice of clothing, Lilly nodded instantly. “I’d love to. But… we have to stop by Brighton Art Shoppe on the way home. I’m almost out of daiquiri red.”
The Scarlet Speedster nodded. “No problem. We’ll run by there after we take care of busines.”
Tripping over a few scattered supplies, Lilly rushed to her closet, returning in her silver uniform. “Let’s go.”
Downtown Central City was engulfed in flame. The small bridge over Jameson Creek that led to the entrance to the Plaza shopping and entertainment district was blocked by a wall of fire. And at the heart of the conflagration stood a man in a metallic black flame suit, his face covered by an air mask and goggles.
The villain held a flame thrower pistol in each hand and was spraying fire indiscriminately, while fire crews fought from the edges to extinguish the blaze. But it was a futile effort. For each burning area they were able to put out, the man known as Heatstroke ignited two more fires.
It wasn’t a plan that needed to be spoken out loud. Leaving her dad to deal with Heatstroke, Velocity focused on the fires. In a blur of silver and blue, she circled the largest blaze over and over, drawing the heat and the flames up into the spiral. Then, with practiced skill and deliberate speed, she began to drag the twister to the next fire and the next. Still gathering the fires, she led her spiral to the river and set if free, watching the flames disappear into the chilly waters of the Missouri River.
With a satisfied smile, Velocity turned to race back to the plaza. There was still work to be done. Ready to help in any way possible, Lilly arrived just in time to see her father rushing toward Heatstroke. Landing body blows at a speed no ordinary human could see, Bart began to stagger the profligate pyromaniac. He made a quick lap of the area to gather speed, then zoomed back to land the knockout blow.
But as Velocity watched the Flash approach the arsonist to land the knockout blow, her father suddenly vanished into nothingness. It took all of her self control not to call out for her dad. But, since an action like that would earn her a lecture from both her mother and father, Lilly bit her lip and raced to finish the job before anything else strange could happen.
Though she wasn’t the master of huge knockout punches, the Silver Speedster knew how to continue the work of wearing an opponent down. She blurred around Heatstroke in random seeming circles, landing blows and dashing away again before he had the chance to respond or even get his bearings.
The arsonist staggered backwards, a last spout of flame blasting from his gun. He collapsed in a heap as the fire burned a black streak on the brick sidewalk and flickered out.
Lilly barely took the time to watch him fall. Her dad was gone and, as she looked around for someone to hand the unconscious bad-guy off to, it became clear very quickly that the police, firefighters, and basically anyone else who might have help in this situation were gone too.
In the space between one heartbeat and the next she was running again. But her home was empty as well. Grandpa Barry’s house held no answers, only Grandma Iris telling an eerily familiar and slightly panicked tale of, “one minute he was here; the next he wasn’t”. And, just like her dad, he hadn’t simply run off. This was different.
No matter where she looked, family or family friends, the story was always the same… empty houses and no answers. It was as if everyone who mattered had vanished.
It took several calming breaths and standing still for a whole minute to push away the desperation that had begun to creep into her soul. After stopping to think, the silver haired girl was off again. Jessie was in New York and, while she wasn’t exactly family, she might have connections or ideas that Lilly hadn’t considered yet.
She’d been here before, of course, but entering the JSA Brownstone by herself seemed wrong somehow. As she slowly walked up the steps and through the door, the sense that something was wrong became stronger.
The statues and displays were still lit, but the secure door Jay had taken her through to the JSA’s private meeting rooms and other facilities was ajar. Pushing it open, Velocity walked into the inner sanctum of the Justice Society.