"So, after the attack at the publishing house, Noville wandered out of sight and no one has any idea where." Joe muttered. "Everybody was in such a panic, they didn't take the time to see where he was headed."
"We've gone over the security camera footage from the blocks surrounding Feldman." Caitlin said.
"Seems he rushed down an alley behind Tinelli's and then just disappeared." Harry said.
"But you can track him, can't you?" Sheila asked hopefully.
"Dude, I didn't know we were gonna get held up by some freaky out of a horror gangster movie lunatic!" Cisco blurted out defensively. "How was I to know that for once I should've brought spare parts? Oh, trust me. Had I known ahead of time, I woulda brought a tracking device!""
Sheila shrugged. "Sorry." Cisco groaned.
"So, what about the guy Noville slashed up?" Barry asked.
"Big banker in town." Joe replied. "But he was just passing through. He had no business with Mr. Brein."
"I think this master of bazookas just targets whoever he wants, for the fun of it." Harry said grumpily.
"His name is Shard Machine." Cisco corrected him.
"But Feldman Publishing is an important landmark in Central City." Caitlin said.
"Didn't you say that this guy had his ideas and projects rejected by the government?" Sheila looked at Barry.
"Uh, yeah?" Barry nodded.
"That was one bizarre weapon. Maybe he's trying punish the government for letting him down, by targeting federal and crucial places in the city." Sheila offered.
"I guess that's possible." Caitlin said.
"That would make sense." Joe said half-heartedly. "But so far, we haven't had any reports of other attacks like that in this city."
"It may be a good idea though to beef up the security and keep an eye on those places though." Barry agreed. "It's not a bad idea, Joe."
"No." Joe mumbled. "If it will help us catch this guy, I'm not gonna argue."
"Already ahead of you on that one!" Cisco announced. "I've already hacked-err, borrowed the surveillance video feeds," he eyed Joe warily, "from all the major businesses in this city. Now, if so much as a pen is snatched from the teller desk at the bank, we will see it." He smirked.
"You're just the 'eye in the sky', aren't you?" Sheila grinned at him.
"Well, I can see we're not gonna get anywhere fast around here." Harry gazed pensively at Cisco. "You ladies dance around the maypole. I for one, am gonna go accomplish something!"
"Pretty consumed with his genius side of the work, isn't he?" Joe remarked.
"Consumed is not the word for it." Barry shook his head.
"I think basted would be more fitting." Caitlin chuckled.
"'Basted? He's been marinated in it!" Cisco declared. Everyone laughed.
"Cisco, why don't you take our friend back to JITTERS so she can make sure her car is unharmed?" Joe told him. "But you two stay there until I say!"
"Oh, yes, Sir!" Cisco's eyes lit up.
"Are you sure about this?" Sheila asked nervously.
"Oh, yeah!" Cisco beamed, taking her hand.
"Well, thank you, guys. For looking out for me." Sheila smiled to Barry and Caitlin.
"No problem." Caitlin smiled sweetly.
"It was great to meet you all, and thanks for letting me see the inside of STAR Labs! That was thrilling."
"Sure." Barry smiled.
Cisco parked a few blocks from JITTERS so they could stroll together the rest of the way. He bought her an ice cream sundae as they walked down the concrete sidewalk. "So, tell me more about your book." Cisco said curiously.
"More? 'You want me to talk some more'?" Sheila joked. "Well, I already told you what it's about. I tried to make it realistic, but mind-blowing at the same time."
"How long have you worked on it? Was it a lingering project, or did you just all of a sudden want to do it?"
"It's been a lingering project for about two years, but something I really wanted to do. Then I found that blog and did all the research I could about The Flash, which helped give inspirational, but factual leverage to work with. Once I learned about The Flash, that such a person did exist, the rest was easy." Sheila explained.
"I can't wait till it comes out." Cisco said.
"Say, how would you like one of the very first copies?"
"Really? Could I?!" Cisco gasped.
"Sure. Mr. Brein gave me a few copies already, to keep for myself or give to people." Sheila reached inside her book bag and pulled out a thick, hardcover book. It had a dark blue covering, with a picture of a young man's silhouette staring up into the starry sky. "Here you go." Sheila smiled. "It's yours, if you want it."
"Wow! I mean...I don't know...thanks!" Cisco exclaimed. He peeked inside the cover. "What? No autograph? No friendly message?"
"Do you want me to?"
"Yes." Cisco rolled his eyes. Sheila laughed and took out her pen. "Make it personal. Please?" Cisco requested. Sheila chuckled and nodded then gave it to him when he was finished.
"There. But you cannot read it till I leave Central City!"
"What?" Cisco pouted. "Aww, come on."
"Nope!" Sheila crossed her arms.
"Gosh, you'd think a guy could be given a present without having to read the contract terms first!" Cisco muttered. Sheila giggled.
"So, what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Did you know since you were little that you wanted to be a scientific engineer? Or did that come later on?"
"Well, I always found it exciting and challenging. I said I wanted to build real cool stuff when I grew up." Cisco shrugged. "Besides, it was better than trying to be Mom and Dad's favorite piano-player child like my brother. They think he can do everything. Me? They don't think I can do anything right."
"I'm sorry." Sheila sighed.
"Yeah. It stinks." Cisco muttered.
"You don't really think we'll see that lunatic again, do you?"
"I hope not! But if we do, I know who to call." Cisco smiled. They debated back and forth about movies as they made their way back to CCJITTERS. Sheila was not a JAWS fan, and though Cisco admitted it kept him awake at night, he still insisted that it was, as he put it, 'pretty freaking cool'! When the police arrived to see Sheila to her hotel, Cisco shook her hand and lingered around.
"Well, it's been quite a day." Sheila smiled.
"Yeah, it really has." Cisco agreed. Sheila was embarrassed to admit it, but she didn't want to leave just yet. She felt as if she could talk with Cisco all day, about important things and stupid things.
"I'm glad I got to meet you. And, uh...the Flash, and see STAR Labs."
"Hey, you'll see me again, right?" Cisco asked eagerly. "I, uh, hope you won't think I'm stalking you or anything, but I wanted to ask if you wanted to go out to dinner or see a movie while you're in town, before you go back home."
"Really?" Sheila's face lit up.
Boom! Ten points for Ramone! She likes the idea, Cisco thought to himself. "Yeah, sure. I mean, all alone...big city...well, you know."
"I'd like that." Sheila agreed. Cisco smiled widely, bringing out his dimples. Sheila blushed. She couldn't help it every time she saw that adorable little face of his light up.
"Great!" Cisco cheered. "Tonight? I happen to know a pretty nice place."
"Uh, sorry. Not tonight." Sheila shook her head. "I'll be busy getting ready for the book signing."
"Oh, yeah. That's right." Cisco frowned. "Darn, I forgot about that. Sorry."
"But, if you're available, tomorrow night should work!"
"But, I hope this won't be pulling you away from your job, and helping you find the Shard Machine."
"Nah. It'll be fine. Well, see ya then." Cisco grinned. "Here's my number." He took her phone from her hand and added himself to her list of contacts. Sheila gaped at first, then burst out laughing.
"'Hey, I just met you
And this is crazy!
But here's my number',"
Sheila sang in a mocking voice.
"So call me maybe!" Cisco finished with her. Half the police officers looked irritated while the others couldn't help laughing.
"Okay, kids. Party's over." Officer Wilson rolled his eyes.
"Before I return home, I'm gonna delete you from my phone so my dad doesn't see." Sheila teased. Cisco giggled nervously.
"Not for real...right?"
"I'm just kidding." Sheila shook her head. After the police drove off with her, Cisco returned to work and marched inside STAR Labs acting giddy.
"Cisco, we need to try to figure out where the Shard Machine is gonna strike next." Caitlin told him, trying to bring him back to planet earth.
"Yeah...oh, right! Getting right on that!" Cisco told her. Sheila had never noticed that when he'd taken her phone, that he'd pressed a teeny, undetectable bugging device into the battery chamber. It had a satellite signal that traced back to his personal phone. This way, he could record Sheila's conversations, and then replay them, listening to her voice when she left Central City to go back home. It was a handy little do-dad he'd been saving for a while. After being pursued by Lisa Snart, he'd decided that this way he'd be getting to know a girl's true colors, if any other girl impressed that she liked him, that is.
Sheila was thrilled as she confirmed and prepared for the last minute arrangements for her book signing with her agent. Normally, she wasn't one to just go out with a guy off the street, but the more she thought of Cisco, her face hurt from smiling. He was just too dang cute! And on top of that, he was smart, funny, witty, but he seemed pretty sincere. But, in a couple days it would be over because she'd be going back home. "Aww, man." She sighed to herself on the hotel sofa. "I hope we can spend a little more time together before I go! Ohh, I have to get a picture with him!"
Cisco had spent the better part of his night arguing with and rhetorically insulting Harry back and forth as the two of them tried to come up with a way to create some safety vests for the team and the police that would not penetrate under Noville's razors. They'd finally come up with a plan. Of course, the two of them had bickered on the details about how to piece them together, Harry insinuating that Cisco was not using the right gadgets and tools, while Cisco argued that he was the suit genius of the lab and knew exactly what he was doing.
Harry remained at STAR Labs for the night while Cisco finally went home. It had been a long day, but he began chuckling to himself as he remembered Sheila, and their promised date the next night. He lounged around in his living room, eating a healthy amount of Big Belly Burger, and decided to start reading her book. "She said I couldn't read the inscription." He assured himself. "Didn't say nothing about the actual product!" He opened the cover and began reading. He'd barely read the second paragraph before he busted out laughing at the character's dialogue. "Oh, this is good!"
"So, you and Wells were able to come up with something?" Joe asked hopefully the next day.
"Yeah." Cisco nodded. "They ain't finished yet, but they will be ready by tonight!"
"So?" Joe crossed his arms.
"They're safety vests." Cisco began. "Sorry, that sounds so generic. Personally, I like to call them the Homebodies."
"Ahem." Caitlin cleared her throat, indicating he should get on with it.
"Right. Sorry." Cisco shrugged. "Anyway, they'll look exactly the same as any law enforcement officer's Kevlar bullet proof vest, except razor-proof in this case."
"Cisco..." Barry spoke. Cisco sighed.
"But inside, they will be closely aligned with metal plates."
"I thought that flint and steel didn't mix, yet this crazy out there found a way to combine them." Joe interjected. "So, how is this metal plate supposed to make a difference?"
"We've cemented the tiles with a cobalt resonator that will prevent deregulation in conditions of extreme heat." Harry explained. Joe rolled his eyes. All this science lingo went straight over his head.
"The armor is so strong, that not even a blowtorch could get through these!" Cisco announced proudly. "They can withstand anything dangerous."
"What about a tidal wave?" Joe asked skeptically. Cisco pursed his lips, speechless. Harry shook his head, cringing. How did he ever get stuck working with this kid?
"Uh, okay. I may have over-stated my super product a little bit." Cisco shrugged, smiling sheepishly. "Anyway, another handy little surprise? I've placed these little compressed micro-tech alarms inside."
"Kind of like your meta human alert, panic button." Barry added, trying to clarify things for Joe.
"We still don't know where Noville is hiding out." Caitlin spoke up. "But the alarms will work as sensors. If he's nearby, the molecules from his steel blades will bounce off the sensors in waves so that we'll know to be on guard."
"And you're sure this will work?" Joe asked.
"It'll work, Joe." Barry nodded.
"Unfortunately, we can't mass produce and then offer them to the whole city." Cisco muttered. "Only to the police, and us of course, and all the people in the major federal corporations."
"We don't even know if that is who he'll be targeting next." Harry said gruffly.
"You got a better theory?" Barry asked.
"You know what? Don't bother answering that." Cisco told Harry. "We all know that you hold an excessively high opinion of yourself in the most lethal terms."
Cisco bounced up to Sheila's hotel as he waited for her to come out. He was taking her to a nice restaurant. Sheila finally came out. She wasn't dressed incredibly elaborate, but her dark blue dress provided a beautiful background for her silver necklace and earrings, and set off her sandy brown hair well. Her hair was swept back with her soft waves bouncing off her shoulders. Her pink lipstick added to the assortment. "Hi." She smiled at Cisco.
"Hey. You look great!" Cisco smiled back.
"Well, I wasn't sure if this was under doing it, or not. But you said we're going somewhere nice. I hope this is okay."
"Trust me, you'll knock them all over!" Cisco exclaimed.
"I hope not." Sheila cringed. They got in Cisco's car. "So, any progress on our Shard Machine?" Sheila asked.
"Not yet. But we did manage to create some body armor that should keep us safe." Cisco replied. "Oh, snap! I have one for you too. I forgot it."
"For me?" Sheila cocked her head. "Why? I'm only here till the day after tomorrow and you don't even know me that well!"
"I know enough that you've been put in danger, and that I want you safe." Cisco said seriously as he looked over at her.
"Well, thank you." Sheila hung her head. "It was nice of you to think of me."
"That is no trouble at all!" Cisco grinned. Sheila couldn't help smiling as she watched him.
"Hey, can we get a picture together tonight, before we leave?"
"Good. I sure am glad you guys have a Big Belly Burger in this city! Made me feel like I was home." Cisco and Sheila enjoyed a beautiful dinner together and talked about their work. "I'm sure you did as a little boy, but have you ever wondered what it would be like, if you could have super powers?" Sheila asked.
Cisco's face burned. He already did have super powers! But he was still afraid to explore them. "Yeah. Of course I have! I always thought it'd be real cool! But it's not all that it's cracked up to be." Cisco sighed.
"How do you know?" Sheila leaned toward him.
"Hmm? Oh, well...you know, watching Barry. There are some disadvantages to having super powers." Cisco said quickly.
"If you could have one, what would you pick?"
Cisco puffed hard. "I've always wanted to have super human strength. Of course that's never going to happen. How about yours?"
"I'd like to be able to fly." Sheila said. "I'm scared of enormous heights, but I've always liked the idea of flying with my own limbs. And I thought that if I was able to control how high or low I went, maybe I wouldn't be so scared up in the sky, looking back down to earth." Cisco nodded. Just then, his phone was vibrating. He pulled it out of his pocket, and saw that it was Caitlin. He pressed the ignore button. "Aren't you going to answer that?" Sheila asked.
"Nah. Tonight it's just you and me." Cisco smiled cheekily.
"But you don't even know me that well! And, it could be important, Cisco. If it rings again, you need to answer it!" Sheila told him urgently. Cisco bit his lip. Sure enough, his phone rang again. It was Caitlin. He answered this time.
"Caitlin, what's going on?" Cisco asked.
"Barry was at STAR Labs with Joe when a call came in to CCPD about our Shard Machine." Caitlin answered rather frantically. "He's back!"
"Oh, man!" Cisco gasped. "Are you there?"
"No. I'm on my way there to STAR Labs. You'd better get there quickly. Barry took Harry and his gun with him, along with Joe. Please get there as quickly as you can, Cisco!" Caitlin exclaimed.
"Right! I'll be right there." Cisco assured her. "Sorry, but..."
"I heard." Sheila replied, panic on her face.
"Come with me! You'll be safer." Cisco said, grabbing her arm. He rushed as fast as he could back to STAR Labs. When they ran into the Cortex, Caitlin wasn't anywhere to be seen. Cisco scurried over to the computer monitors.
"What's happening? Where is he?" Sheila asked, her eyes wide with worry.
"I'm looking. I'm looking." Cisco answered, furiously tickling the computer buttons on the keypad. "Oh, no. No, no, no! Please tell me this isn't happening!" Cisco shook his head.
"What? What is it?" Sheila gulped.
"He's at Mercury Labs!" Cisco responded frantically. "Why do the crazies always have to target there?"
"Cisco!" Barry's voice cackled into the mic. "Cisco, you there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm here!" Cisco nodded.
"Can you see him?"
"Yeah, oh yeah! I see him! Impaler gun and all! He's entering Mercury Labs!"
"On my way!" Barry replied, tugging Harry alongside him. "Is he entering through the front, the back, or the side?"
"Uhh, he just marched right inside the front doors!" Cisco shook his head. A few minutes later, the computer screen, encased in black and white surveillance video footage showed Noville entering the third floor. "Okay, man. You need to hurry! Like, really hurry! He's on the third floor, heading for the west lab. He-no!" Noville wiped out the small group of lab workers and researchers within a split second with his gun.
"Oh my-" Sheila covered her mouth with her hand. "No!"
"Barry, he just took out the entire west lab!" Cisco cried. Barry whooshed inside Mercury Labs with Harry and Joe, to the third floor.
"Cisco, he's not here!"
"What the-no! That's not possible! He's gotta be there!" Cisco argued.
"Look." Sheila pointed to the right side of the screen. Noville was on the fourth floor!
"Barry, he's on the fourth! Get him, now!" Cisco demanded. At that moment, Caitlin rushed inside the Cortex.
"Guys, what's happening?" She panted.
"Oh, it's...it's not good." Cisco groaned.
"He's killing those people." Sheila said with her lip trembling.
"Barry, do you guys have your vests?!" Caitlin blurted out.
"Yeah, we do!" Barry told her. They cornered Noville in the hall of the fourth floor. "You're not gonna hurt anyone else." Barry told him.
Noville chuckled hideously. "Oh, and you think you can stop me, red boy?"
"Put you gun down, now! Put it on the ground!" Joe demanded. Both he and Harry had their firearms directed at Noville.
"Not till I teach those high and mighty bozos a lesson." Noville shook his head. "Have a load of this!" He fired his gun, shooting the shards at all three of them. They ducked, and the remaining razors bounced off of their vests, rather than going through them. But he fired at the glass windows and doors, shattering glass all around them. Then he disappeared!
"Barry, stop him! He's getting away!" Caitlin yelled. Barry rushed through every floor in the building and removed its occupants before they could become shred to pieces. But Noville completely disappeared, even off the STAR Labs radar in the computer.
"No! I lost him!" Barry wailed.
"D-!" Cisco growled loudly. Sheila was beginning to hyperventilate, backing up against the wall. Caitlin looked at her and noticed that she looked pale.
"Come on. You need to sit down." She said kindly, helping Sheila into the medical bay. Cisco sadly glanced toward them.
"I-I'm sorry." Sheila tried to breathe evenly.
"It's all right." Caitlin said sweetly.
"I...I've never seen blatant death like that before." Sheila said defensively. "I've read about it so I know it happens. And I've watched that kind of thing in the movies. But, but this...this was real! And horrible. All those innocent people, instantly dead! Just like that! No warning, nothing. It's so awful."
"Yes, it is." Caitlin agreed.
"I can't understand it." Cisco muttered. "I was here, watching him the whole time! How did he manage to get away right under, and I'm quoting literally here, my nose?!"
"It's not your fault, Cisco." Caitlin said.
"Could he be a meta human?" Sheila offered.
"No. My alert app would've gone off when he was near us before." Cisco said. Not long after, Barry and Harry returned with Iris to the Cortex.
"Are you guys okay?" Caitlin asked worriedly.
"Yeah." Barry mumbled. He'd saved several people at Mercury Labs, and Dr. McGee was truly grateful, but they'd still lost six innocent lives, and it that guilty cloud had followed them all the way into STAR Labs.
"We've really got to stop this guy." Iris said dryly.
"Oh, guys. I'm sorry!" Cisco exclaimed.
"It's a little late for that." Harry huffed, glaring at him. Cisco just stared down at his desk. "Did you take stupid pills this morning, Ramon?" Harry snarled. "You were needed here, not off on some pleasure excursion. If you'd been here when you should've, maybe those people wouldn't have died."
"Harry, that's enough." Barry spoke up firmly.
"Noville was gonna do what he was going to do, no matter what." Iris added indignantly. "Our job was to stop him. You tried. He's a bad guy, and he escaped. It's nobody's fault. You all did your best." Harry puffed heavily, looking as if he'd just been put in time out. He knew they were right, but making apologies was not his forte.
"You're right." He whispered. "Which is why we need to come up with a way to track his moves, before he kills anyone else." Harry marched out.
"Cisco, don't listen to what he says." Barry said encouragingly. "This isn't your fault. None of this is your fault."
"You couldn't have known." Iris added with a smile. Caitlin came by Cisco and hugged him. He said nothing. Sheila felt awful. While Cisco's friends, tried to console him, Sheila headed downstairs to Cisco's workroom. Harry was there, slamming a wrench up and down on a table.
"Dr. Wells?" Sheila spoke quietly, leaning against the door, ignoring his sour behavior. "Or...Harry...not sure which to call you."
"Whatever you prefer. Doesn't matter to me...What do you want?" Harry sighed heavily, clearly irritated. "I'm busy."
"I can see that." Sheila said. "You were right about tonight. Well, one thing. We shouldn't have gone out like that. Cisco should've been here, helping you guys. But that was my fault. Not his! You can't blame him for what happened. He did everything he could to help you guys out. You should at least give him credit for that. I'm sorry about what happened, but it's Noville's own fault that he killed those people."
"Fine." Harry threw his hands up.
"Barry told me that your...your daughter is in trouble." Sheila said slowly. Harry glanced at her, surprised, then stared down at his feet. In a matter of seconds, his countenance had drooped from that of a disgruntled genius to the broken appearance of an old man.
"She is." He choked.
"I'm very sorry to hear about that."
"Not your doing, and not your concern. Now if you'll excuse me." Harry turned with his back to her, trying to hide his emotions. He pretended to be concentrating on the marker board full of figures, but they all blurred together.
"...I just wanted to tell you, however helpless you feel right now, don't lose hope!" Harry stopped and looked at her questioningly. "The odds may seem stacked against you, but you're on the right side. That's gotta make a difference somewhere in the mess you're in."
Harry sat down. "Look," Harry sighed, removing his glasses, "I appreciate your concern. I'm touched. Really. But this fiend that is holding my daughter captive...he's powerful. More than you can possibly imagine! He's killed so many people already. It doesn't matter to him who it is. He'll stop at nothing. That's why I can't afford any mishaps. I have to do whatever it takes to save my daughter."
"Then you'll stop him together."
"How can you be so sure?" Harry shook his head, but his voice was pleading.
"You know, I read in the Bible before that King David made a blundering mistake in disobeying one of God's commands to him, because he thought he had things covered." Sheila smiled, walking in front of him. "He made a wrong choice. There had to be consequences. God gave him three different choices of what that punishment could be. One of them was having his enemies defeat him. David chose one of the others. He said that God can be merciful, and even being punished by God Himself was better than being left in the hands of men! Because we all know what men can do. How treacherous they can be." Harry listened silently. "Zoom, whoever or whatever he is, he is sooo on the wrong side! One day, he'll fall. He has to! One day, all the terrible things he's done are gonna have to catch up to him! So, please don't lose hope. Please don't give up."
Harry just stared blankly. He'd never admit it, but it had felt good to listen to another woman who had reached out to him. She was about the same age as Jessie, his daughter. Maybe he could still save her. But Sheila had pointed out that he'd need help. But Harry didn't want their help. He blamed himself for the miscalculation in his particle accelerator that had led to the dark matter explosion which had fully unleashed the monster Zoom had become. This was on him! He had to save his daughter by himself. That was his punishment.
"Sorry I interrupted you." Sheila backed away, but not without throwing him an encouraging smile. Harry watched her go. His eyes fell to the floor. The corners of his mouth twitched into a knowing smile.