Chapter 1: Lightning in a Bottle

"I don't have time for this." He growled.

Batman was visibly annoyed at being called to the watchtower without what he considered a worthy reason. 'We need you up here this afternoon' was the message he had received. It hadn't interrupted anything too pressing – just WayneTech document signing and a couple of unimportant meetings that he could make up later in the week. Plus, the tone of voice that Superman used to request his presence suggested urgency. Now it was obvious that it was an attempt to make things look more urgent than they were. He was not too happy.

"I know you're busy," Superman responded, expecting that reaction from the man in the cowl. Standing in the focus of the other 6 members of the recently formed Justice League, the Man of Steel was in the middle of describing a training exercise designed to promote cohesion within the newly formed group in a battle situation. "We all are. All I'm asking is that we spend a couple hours a week on battle drills so we can learn each other's strengths and weaknesses. Green Lantern has come up with a lot of scenarios and situations that would be difficult for any one of us to complete alone – real situations that we may come up against. When that time comes, we're going to have to be more prepared than our adversaries."

"Not only that," added Green Lantern, "but without some sense of trust, there's no synergy – we're just seven individuals. As a team, we're much better prepared to tackle difficult situations quickly and with minimal risk to ourselves or any innocent people that may be involved."

"I agree." J'onn J'onz chimed in. "As a unit, we will achieve better results."

"Hey, I agree with Bats," All heads turned towards Flash. "I don't know about you guys, but I've always been a one-man show." It surprised everybody to hear him side with Batman. So far they hadn't agreed… about anything… ever.

"That's why you're going to be the first test." Lantern smiled, earning a look of shock from Flash and a muffled guffaw from Hawkgirl.


"Yes, you. You're so fond of reminding everybody how you're the 'Fastest Man Alive,'" Lantern did his best to imitate the nuances and posturing the younger hero took on every time he recited that moniker, making the scarlet speedster a little annoyed. "So, as a team, if we can capture and contain you, we'll be able to handle anybody, won't we?"

That little bit of flattery was all Flash needed. He quickly agreed and even added some taunting to make the whole situation more fun. If he had to be here, he'd do all he could to make it worth his while. Besides, he thought this would give him an opportunity to show his stuff, maybe impress some of the other members – especially Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl. He might even make ol' Bats raise an eyebrow before the day was over.

"Like I said, I don't have time for this." The Dark Knight threw over his shoulder on his way towards the exit of the training arena.

"Batman…" Superman started to argue the point as he brushed by, and when a firm hand fell on Batman's shoulder the Big Blue Boy Scout seemed reduced to a little schoolboy as he received a full-power Bat-glare.

A feminine offer interrupted the stare-down.

"Come on, Batman. It'll be fun. I promise." The dark hero's jaw muscles relaxed and the tension in the room was almost audibly released when Wonder Woman's offer seemed accepted.

"I can give you one hour. That's all. After that, don't call me again unless it's an emergency."

With that, some ground rules were laid out for the safety of all involved. No full-power blows, etc. The training arena was filled with various walls, objects, barricades and obstacles as well as some select open areas and long straight-aways for Flash to gain some real speed. All he had to do was escape and evade. Wally was given a second to take-in the layout of the arena, thus improving his knowledge of the terrain and increasing his edge over his pursuers.

When the start signal was given, Flash was off and everybody shifted to what was presumably the best strategic location to catch him. Since he'd been given a little time to consider and since he was fairly motivated, Flash was in rare form. His energy level was up. His mood was up. His awareness was up. He zipped and weaved throughout the obstacles like a pinball at almost supersonic speed. Jumping over Hawkgirl's thrown mace was the easiest. In fact, Wally even let a little laugh slip out when the winged heroine grunted her frustration and took it out on an obstacle block, shattering it to pieces.

Green Lantern's containment bubble was tricky. Wally was able to bank off the walls of the bubble and dive through the closing hole at the far end of the bubble before he was completely enveloped.

J'onn J'onz teased him mentally and tried to take his mind off evading capture. It almost worked; Flash was busy trying to mentally block the Martian and take a quick rest behind a wall. He had let his attention lapse temporarily and wasn't paying complete attention to the hazy green form that was phasing through the wall behind him. Once he caught a glimpse of the huge arm coming around his neck however, he ducked, rolled and ran clear to the other side of the training room.

"You'll have to do better than that, J'onn!" Wally laughed.

Almost immediately after Flash entered a long straight-away on his retreat from J'onn, Wonder Woman's golden lasso started closing in fast around him. She was fast – and deadly accurate with it, but instead of catching her target, Wally made his cheekiest move of the day. He dove through the closing loop, tucked and rolled on the landing, then wrapped the Amazon Princess with her own lasso.

"Now, don't you feel silly?" He teased.

"Yes!" She screamed. "You better run, Flash, cause when I get out of this I'm gonna…"


Her warnings were interrupted by Superman who had flown up behind Flash at blinding speed and grabbed him in a huge bear hug – pinning his upper arms to his side. Wally was surprised, but only for a split second. In his hypersonic state of mind, a split second was more than enough time to think of what to do. Yes, Wally was in rare form that day, and the plan he quickly formed would be the source of legend, he was sure. The group started closing in on Superman's location as he held Flash fast, their intention: to immobilize and contain him to end the drill.

"Work as a team!" Lantern commanded.

Shayera landed in front of Wally and wedged the handle of her mace across his neck, pinning his head back against Superman's huge shoulder. The Man Hunter had shifted form in to dragon-like creature and was constricting around Flash's legs, pinning them together. Wonder Woman had freed herself from her lasso and was about to throw the twirling loop around the captured 'target'. Lantern's ring was glowing bright green and just started to emit the energy that would encapsulate Wally in a holding pen that would signal the final stages of the drill. They were working as a team and it seemed that they were about to win.

It didn't occur to anybody that Flash wasn't struggling. In fact, he was smiling. And just as it seemed the test was over, he pulled the ace out of his sleeve. His lower arms were still free, and he used this. People always thought of him as a danger in the open, when he could run, but sometimes they forget that he can move EVERY part of his body with incredible velocity at will. Those little underestimations were his key to success.

Wally started to rub his hands together and got them super-hot from the friction. He hated to do it, but he grabbed J'onn J'onz by the head, causing the Martian to yelp in pain. A little leg shaking and a strong kick later, and J'onn was on the other side of the room wondering what happened.

Next, Flash put his hands on Shayera's exposed abdomen and used his freed legs to trip her to the floor, then started twirling his lower arms. The resulting wind blew Hawkgirl across the room by J'onn. She hit the wall with a painful grunt.

Now, doing what looked like a hyper-caffeinated version of the Chicken Dance, Flash was able to slightly loosen Superman's bear hug. Not much, but enough to vibrate his way out, although at the cost of almost getting his head ripped off. Thankfully, the only casualty was that he lost his mask. In any case, he was free. Superman almost grabbed him again, but before he could get a firm hold, Flash had intercepted Wonder Woman's lasso in mid air, put it around Superman, then tugged Wonder Woman right up against the big red "S" where both she and Superman were finally trapped by Lantern's encasement bubble.

Before anybody really figured out what was going on, Flash was zipping to the far side of the room, smiling to himself and feeling more than a little cocky.

Pride always comes before the fall.

And that's exactly what happened to Flash – he fell. More correctly, he was knocked down by one simple blow to the shoulder, which threw him off course enough to send him into a barricade. The surprise had so completely taken him out of his rhythm that it took him almost 2 seconds to realize that he A) was lying flat on his back, B) couldn't move anything, and C) there was a very dark shadow looming over him.

"What the…?" Flash's legs were immobilized by Batman's cape. Two seconds were more than enough time for the detective to ensnare his legs and manipulate his arms across his chest in some kind of sadistic weave. Batman was holding them in place with one hand while his knee was putting weight on Flash's abdomen.

"You're caught. Game over." Batman straightened up and looked at all the other members of the League still on the other side of the room. "Like I said, call me when there's a real emergency".

"How'd you do that?" Shayera asked as she flew over towards the scene of the capture.

"You're a detective. You figure it out." Batman said as he put his cape back on and disappeared through the door.

"You OK?" Lantern asked Flash as he slowly got up from the floor.

"I guess so. I mean, he didn't hit me very hard, but I really got the wind knocked out of me when I ran into that barricade. I don't know what he was doing to my arms, but I couldn't move – not even a wiggle." They all turned their heads towards the door that Batman had just went through as it finished closing.

"Are you sure that guy doesn't have any super powers?" Flash asked Superman with more than a little uncertainty in his voice.

"None what-so-ever," Superman replied, also with more than a little uncertainty in his voice.

"Unless you count his mind" J'onn finally added, breaking the long silence.