Wally West lay dying in the snow. He could no longer feel his extremities thankfully, and though not an overly religious man, he prayed that his end would come soon and ease his suffering. As he coughed, blood continued to spill from his lungs in a fine mist, staining the frozen tundra where he lay with a crimson hue. His journey had long since atrophied his body past the point of no return.
Wally shivered, his abnormally high body temperature having dropped and falling fast after his muscles and fat were eaten away by his body's constant need for fuel. The moment he ran through the Zeta Tube, he knew he'd never see her again, any of them. Other than the howling of the blizzard, there were no longer in signs of the Chrysalis, and that made him happy. His sacrifice had been worth it. His tears froze on his raw face at the thought of the pain he'd brought on his beautiful archer, and with his last moments of life he hoped she would forgive him one day.
Finally his mind slowed and he began to drift in and out of consciousness, realizing it was time. His words disappeared and the only thing his mind could produce was fleeting images: His parents, Barry and Iris, Dick, the Team…. her. He closed his eyes and smiled. He was ready.
The roaring winds had become peaceful, like a siren's song which entranced him, so much so that he ignored the mechanical thunder that echoed off in the distance as the hovercraft came to rest a few yards away.
"I've found him," the feminine voice spoke into the communicator.
He was beyond sensation at this point, and never felt the levitation of the Bio-bed bringing him aboard.
The world around him began to darken. Whatever hallucination he'd been ceased and the speedster sighed, drifting away peacefully as death finally released him from his suffering.
It's not that bad he smiled to himself, relieved that his journey was finally over as the world silenced around him. It was done.
The first sensation he felt was of pain, intense and agonizing as what was left of his frostbitten body began to thaw under the thermal blanket. A soft voice spoke to him, but he couldn't understand her through his torture
The next thing he recalled was the sound of multiple voices in the background and the low hum of computers surrounding him. It could have been days or weeks later, time held no meaning anymore for the speedster
"Grandpa he's waking up" a young male voice called to the other room.
An elderly man slowly made his way to the speedster's bedside, carefully putting down his cane as his grandson eased his shaking body into the chair next to the bio bed.
"Good you're finally awake,' the old man said cheerfully. "How was your nap?"
Wally's couldn't speak, his throat being raw and dry. The old man brought a small cup to the speedster's lips. "This tastes awful I'm sorry, but you'll feel like talking in just a second."
Most of the drink poured out the side of Wally's mouth and onto the bed, but the few ounces that made it inside were enough for the elixir to work its magic.
Wally swallowed had and his raspy throat finally was able to announce his thoughts. "Where am I?" he croaked.
"The Great Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome to be exact. Away from prying eyes and off the grid so to speak, but I think a question you might find more interesting is when are you."
Wally squinted trying to adjust to his new surroundings, clearly disoriented.
Before he could ask, the old man smiled. "You're roughly 190 years, give or take, from where you came from. You've made quite the journey."
"How?" the broken voice of the speedster asked.
"The how's and why's are very complicated, but the most important thing is we found you." the aged man added cheerfully.
"I…I don't understand? " Wally coughed, clutching his chest.
"You're not supposed to Wally. You're just going to have to take a leap of faith. That's always a hard step for us scientific types."
"How…how do you know my name?" he rasped.
"Oh, We time travelers are a rare breed my boy, a rare breed indeed. I make it my business to know all of us."
"Grandpa we're just about ready," the young man called to from the other room.
"Thank you my boy. Wally's I'm afraid we are going to have to cut this reunion short. We haven't much time and you have places to go, and so do we."
This was the most confusing afterlife Wally had ever conceived. The speedster was sure he was dead, no if's and or but's about it, but heaven was supposed to be white fluffy clouds, pearly gates, at least a garden or somekind, not what appeared to be some lab built inside a log cabin. None of this made any sense to him except his host. Despite his years, something about the elderly man seemed so familiar.
"Wait!" Wally pleaded weakly, trying to prop his elbows on the bed behind him to raise himself. His arms were too weak and he fell back to the bed softly. "Who are you?"
"Oh, I've gone by so many names over the years, the curse of a time traveler I'm afraid."
A young woman with piecing green eyes walked out to the den and put her hand on her grandfather's shoulder. "It's time," she smiled both at him and the prone speedster. "Once we activate the Slider, the temporal police will detect the energy bloom. It will take them around fifteen to twenty minutes to respond."
"Plenty of time my dear," the elderly man chuckled.
She helped her grandfather to his feet, pushing the floating bio bed into a room surrounded with a technology Wally couldn't even begin to fathom.
Equal parts fear and frustration coursed through the speedster's body as the three individuals dictated his fate without so much as an explanation. He'd had enough.
"Will someone please to god tell me what's going on!" he demanded nervously.
"Children can you give us a moment…in private please."
The two teenagers nodded and left the lab, leaving the speedster and their elder alone.
"What would you like to know? Time is short, even for men like us."
When Wally finally had the chance to ask, he found his mind overloaded with so many questions he had trouble even knowing where to start. The old man rubbed his chin patiently before deciding to take control of the situation.
"Let me help you. To start with you saved everyone, you and the other speedsters successfully shut down the chrysalis. What happened next bit is a bit of a mouthful and I'm sorry but there won't be time any for follow up. An anomaly like this could be discussed for months and still make no sense, trust me I know. In short the resulting feedback combined with the collective kinetic energy altered your linear momentum. It's quite complicated even before you throw in the alien tech that created the chrysalis to begin with. It's a fascinating phenomenon, but all our research is based on pure theory at this point, and that would never satisfy a man like you."
"How do you know so much about me?" Wally coughed, his lungs aching still with the effort.
The old man smiled, rubbing his hand over the speedster forehead. He reached over and took a black box on the adjacent table and pulled it to his lap. He entered in the access code and a small hiss escaped the air tight case. Inside rested a glowing blue orb, which the man took out and held in his hand, examining it against the recessed lighting of the lab.
"Perfect," he grinned and with shaking hands, pulled off the thermal blanket covering the fallen speedster and placed it directly on the blood stained skin exposed from the tears in Wally's tattered uniform.
The orb changed from blue to a neon red before absorbing into Wally's skin and disappearing completely.
A strange sensation flowed through speedster's body, equal parts adrenaline and nausea.
The old man checked the floating display on the side of the bad and smiled in satisfaction. "Wonderful, your body is not rejecting it. This will take some time unfortunately, so I believe we will have to say our goodbyes now."
Wally's head was swimming trying to comprehend all that was happening so quickly as the two young teens entered the room, guiding the bio bed into the translucent cylinder directly in the center of the room.
Wally found himself placed inside, with his head resting just outside of the mechanism. He started to grow dizzy as the strange sensations that sped through his body intensified.
"Men like us," Wally repeated to himself while the old man typed instructions into the machine, his elderly green eyes focused thoroughly on the readings and fluctuations on his screen. The old man, satisfied with the inputs, glanced down momentarily at Wally's comment before entering the final key sequence.
"Iris activate the generator please, he's ready."
The room began to glow a bright white, intensifying as the countdown began.
"Men like us," Wally repeated one last time, finally putting the pieces together.
The old man smiled. "You always were the smart one. I believe it was you who was so concerned about the time stream when we met."
Wally closed his eyes and smiled.
Bartholomew Allen took a warm compress and wiped the speedster's forehead. "I've waited a long time for you to arrive; I was…beginning to have my doubts."
"How…?" Wally began to ask before Bart silenced him.
"Because the world is a better place with Wally West in it. Where I came from Barry was the one who didn't make it back. I was determined not to let that happen again, but fate seems to have something against us speedsters."
Green eyes met green eyes. "I owed you, the whole world owed you. Besides I couldn't exactly stay in a time period where I would end up babysitting my own parents, talk about crashing the time stream. It was time for me to get out of history's way, and now it's time for you to rejoin it."
"Grandpa, sensors detect the Temporal Police taking off from Metropolis, ETA 19 minutes.
"Thank you Iris. Wally what we're doing is not exactly legal in my time, but I've become a little Impulsive in my old age," he grinned the grin of the 13 year old Wally knew so long ago, relatively speaking.
Bartholomew's smile faded momentarily. "Wally things are going to be very different; you're going to be different. You won't remember any of our time together and there's a probable chance you won't remember much of the world you're going back to, I'm sorry but it can be helped. Even in my time science can only take us so far. Your body is about to go through a metamorphosis. I wish I could tell you that it won't hurt, but it is going to be painful. I'm sorry."
"14 minutes," Jai interrupted. "We have to go."
The lab began to hum and the countdown neared the final minute. Bart reached into his pocket and pulled out a small holo-projector. He activated it and put on the small table in Wally's line of sight.
"Focus on this Wally and nothing but. She will be your lightning lighting rod; she will ground you and make you whole again. Flash fact."
Wally nodded as Jai escorted his grandfather to the awaiting shuttle. "Thank you Bart"
"No, Thank you Wally. I'd remind you to take care of the younger me, but you always did. I look forward to seeing you again."
The complex door shut behind the three individuals and the lab began to vibrate with energy. Wally glanced down for a moment to see his muscle mass slowly returning before looking back to the projector and the floating blonde archer that rested above it. As the countdown reached T minus 10 seconds, the room began to glow a blinding white and Wally held his breath and gritted his teeth through the pain Bart promised finally arrived. Before he blinked out of existence, a smile crossed his lips.
For the second time in as many weeks, Wally West ceased from existence, except this time his destination and his mission was clear.
Find your own little spitfire. One who won't let you get away with nothing
"I will Mr. Nelson. I swear."