by Hitman 44077, partially adapted from Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Using her magnetic powers, Frances Kane flew herself and Kid Flash toward New York City as fast as they could manage.
“It’s insane,” Fran said.
“What’s insane?” asked Kid Flash.
“All of these Earths. It’s almost unfathomable that there seemed to be as many Earths as there are people,” Fran said.
“It did take a little getting used to. Barry used to tell me about his hobby. He loves comic books; he read them as a boy. His hero was the Flash,” Kid Flash said.
“You mean–?” Fran asked.
“Yeah. He read comics starring the same man that visited me earlier — Jay Garrick. Barry was inspired by his comic book hero, and that’s why he took the identity of the Flash when he gained his super-speed powers. When he first met Jay after accidentally crossing over from our Earth to his, well, I think he felt the same way about Jay that I did when I first met Barry as the Flash — a great sense of awe and pride. True to his comic book character, Jay is a hero in every sense of the word, never looking at Barry as a novice, but as an equal.”
“Amazing,” was Fran’s surprised reply.
Fran and Kid Flash traveled until they reached Buffalo, New York. “This is fine, Fran. You can land here,” Kid Flash said.
She lowered herself and Kid Flash toward the street below, touching down softly. “I guess this is it, Wally. I really want you to be safe,” Fran said with concern.
“I don’t think I’ll be on the battlefield, but things will work out. They’ll have to, if the heroes are going to win. Are you going back to Blue Valley?” asked Kid Flash.
“Yeah. I want to be near home in case — in case they don’t succeed,” Fran said, wiping away a tear.
“There’s the chance that could happen. If it comes to that, Fran, I want you to tell my parents — tell them I love them. Say a prayer for us, Fran. We’ll need all we can get,” Kid Flash said solemnly. Slowly, the couple embraced, sharing what might be their last kiss. “I love you, Fran. Don’t ever forget that.” And with those words, he sped off toward New York City.
Speeding into New York City, Kid Flash traveled toward the Chelsea district near Greenwich Village. He slowed down as he spotted the many heroes already at the scene. I never knew just how many heroes seemed to live. And this is just the representatives from Earths One and Two, Kid Flash thought with unexpected surprise. He looked around for any familiar faces and spotted several members of the New Teen Titans. Well, there they are. It’s good to see them.
Firehawk and Wonder Girl were in conversation, exchanging thanks and appreciation for one another. “I can’t thank you enough for helping me find Terry. It was like experiencing a piece of history firsthand,” Wonder Girl said, referring to her recent adventure within New York’s Warp Zone. The two of them had gone there in an effort to locate Wonder Girl’s husband when he’d been lost within it. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Long Night’s Journey Into Day,” The Fury of Firestorm #42 (December, 1985).]
“Hey, it was no problem. I’m just glad I could help. I almost wonder if our escapade will make the school books,” Firehawk said with some humor.
“You never know, with the way time’s messed up right now,” Wonder Girl said. “Maybe when the others return from Tamaran, we might be able to offer you membership in the Titans,” she offered. “That’s the least I can do.”
“That could be fun. From what I’ve seen with you and Cyborg, it seems like there’s always something your team’s involved in.” Firehawk hugged Wonder Girl and said, “I’m going to get in position with the Earth-S group. Good luck on Earth-Four, Wonder Girl.”
“Good luck to you, too, and thanks again,” Wonder Girl said as she waved to Firehawk.
“It looks like old home week,” a familiar voice said behind Wonder Girl.
Turning around, Wonder Girl found herself face to face with Kid Flash. “Wally!” Wonder Girl exclaimed. “I don’t believe it! Oh, it’s good to see you!” The two hugged.
“Flasher!” yelled Changeling with joy. “My favorite winged-tip speedster! Back in the saddle, er — boots, again, eh?”
“Yeah, it’s me, Gar. How are you all doing?” Kid Flash asked.
“We’re doing all right. Vic should be here any minute with Roy. Same with Garth and Tula,” Wonder Girl said.
“Where’s Dick and Kory — and the new guy — Joseph, right?” Kid Flash asked, intrigued.
“They’re off-planet — traveled to Tamaran. Kory hasn’t been there since our little team-up with the Omega Men. I think it’ll be good for her,” Wonder Girl said.
“Well, are you going to introduce our new blood or not, Donna?” Changeling eagerly asked.
“New blood?” Kid Flash asked.
“We gained some new members since you retired, Wally. You mentioned Joseph, but…” Wonder Girl motioned toward Kole. “This is Kole Weathers, Wally. Kole, this is Wally West, Kid Flash,” she said proudly.
“Wow! It’s nice to meet you, Wally. I’ve only been a member for a little while, but you couldn’t ask for a better group of friends,” Kole said.
“That’s true. They’re all special, and I’m glad to have you as a teammate. You have a bright future ahead of you. Just be careful — all of you. There’s no telling what’s going to happen today,” Kid Flash said cautiously.
Suddenly, a voice bellowed from behind Kid Flash. “You. Kid Flash. We must speak.”
Even before Kid Flash turned around, he recognized the Russian accent. There stood the former Starfire, now known to the world as Red Star. Kid Flash looked at this man with whom he had clashed in the past as a member of the Teen Titans. “Red Star,” Kid Flash said without emotion.
“We have never operated on the same side. My values and regard for the Kremlin, yours for this capitalist United States. Yet when the greater good is called upon, we find ourselves on same side. You…” Red Star paused. “We have both been ignorant of all sides in this Cold War. Perhaps it is not too late. Perhaps our forces can win this war against the true enemy — those seeking the end of these five worlds. Let us move forward… as comrades.” Red Star offered his hand in friendship.
Kid Flash listened and then grasped his former foe’s hand, ending the two men’s personal Cold War. “I would be proud to call you a friend,” he said.
Turning his attention back toward the Titans, Kid Flash asked, “You wouldn’t know anything about the Flash’s disappearance, would you? Earth-Two’s Flash said Barry vanished. That’s why I was approached to become Kid Flash again. Since I haven’t seen him since before his trial ended, I’ve been a little concerned.”
There were solemn faces among the Titans near him, even on the usually happy Changeling. Wonder Girl spoke, breaking the silence. “The last time we saw the Flash, we were protecting Manhattan with the Outsiders. He appeared, surrounded by some strange energy, made references to time, then suddenly vanished. He looked all right, for the most part, when we saw him. I wish we knew more, but we don’t,” she said as her sadness became evident.
Kid Flash’s heart sank. Barry was in danger, he realized. It doesn’t look like anyone knows where he is. Does Luthor have him as a hostage? The Rogues? Until I know conclusively what’s happened to him, Kid Flash is back in action permanently! Understanding the situation, he said, “Thank you for telling me, Donna. It’s more than I knew before. At least it sounds like he’s alive. Look, I’d better help Jay with the Cosmic Treadmill. Remember, be careful.”
“You, too, Wally,” Wonder Girl said as Kid Flash joined the Flash of Earth-Two.
“I was starting to wonder about you, Wally,” said Jay. “Everything seems to be working with the transport platforms. We just need to calibrate the Treadmill so that the platforms receive the proper vibrational frequencies.”
“Everything looks right, Jay,” Kid Flash said. “I had a little catching up to do. I’ll tell you about it in a while.”
Jay told him, “The way things are set up, the Titans and the Doom Patrol are heading for Earth-Four. They’ll attempt to rescue Captain Atom, the Blue Beetle, Thunderbolt, and their world’s other heroes. Heavy hitters like the JLA, Metal Men, and other assorted heroes are going to Earth-S, attempting to rescue Captain Marvel and his Marvel Family. Your Batman’s Outsiders, Infinity Inc., and the JSA are heading to Earth-X, where they’ll try to liberate the Freedom Fighters. God willing, they’ll be safe.”
Finally, all heroes arrived and went to their proper platforms. Kid Flash did a final checkup on the Treadmill. To ease his tension, he spoke with Jay. “Flash and I rebuilt his original Cosmic Treadmill several times over. It always let him cross from one Earth to another, so it shouldn’t fail us now.”
“Let’s hope not, son. If the villains really took over three Earths–” Jay paused, then continued, “–we’ll need all the help we can get.”
Kid Flash and Earth-Two’s Flash stood prepared for the greatest trial of their lives — a mass liberation effort with the stakes dangerously high. “Ready, son?” Jay asked.
The sick pit in Kid Flash’s chest refused to defeat his will. “I am. Jay, do you think Barry’s okay? I’m worried about him.”
Jay viewed Kid Flash’s concerned face and replied, “We all are, Wally. We all are!”
With that, the two speedsters began to race, first matching marathon runners, then blurring into yellows and reds. “Faster, lad — faster!” Jay shouted. They continued running, faster and faster. There was no way to identify who was who or what was what.
“I see a rift in space — ahead of us!” Kid Flash shouted, seeing that they were succeeding.
The elder Flash could only shout, “Faster! Faster! FASTER!”
In a flash of light, the many heroes assembled on the mass transport platforms vanished. With that feat performed, Kid Flash and the elder Flash began to slow themselves down on the Cosmic Treadmill. “It seemed to work, Jay. There’s no sign of the heroes,” Kid Flash said.
“I’m hoping it did. I don’t want them stranded outside those Earths,” the elder Flash said cautiously.
“Harbinger and the others are monitoring inside the building. We could wait there,” Kid Flash suggested.
“Good idea, Wally,” he replied.
The two speedsters walked inside where Harbinger awaited contact with their forces. “I’m sure it worked,” she said.
On one of the radio frequencies, tuned to a STAR Labs band, a voice spoke. “This is Cyborg of the Teen Titans. I’m letting you know that our forces have arrived on Earth-Four. Changeling just landed the first assault.” There was applause from those in the room, for their efforts were successful. The battle would indeed be waged on Earths Four, S, and X.
On another frequency, specially tuned to the JLA communication devices, Superman of Earth-One spoke to report on Earth-S. “Superman here. The Justice League, Metal Men, and others have arrived in Fawcett City. I’ve been able to determine with my x-ray vision that the Marvel Family is safe, although held in captivity. Martian Manhunter is leading a sub-squad specially equipped to deal with the menaces surrounding the Marvels.”
Finally, the third report from Earth-X was made by the leader of the Outsiders on a band specifically tuned to Batman’s equipment. “This is Batman. The platform worked. The JSA, Infinity Inc., and the Outsiders are on their way.”
“That’s a relief,” Jay said. “I just hope that they keep safe.”
“Yeah, they’re safe, but what’s going to happen if they need to retreat?” Kid Flash asked. “Should we be on standby at the Treadmill?”
“That will not be necessary,” Harbinger said. “The Monitor had technology that would send the injured back to their Earth of origin. While his satellite was destroyed by the Anti-Monitor, I was able to transfer his tapes and files to Earth-One. We didn’t have enough time to build multiple units, but we were able to build three — one for each battle unit. The device transfers the wounded back to their Earth, so that they may receive the medical treatment they need. It is to be used as a last resort; only the person holding the device and the injured party will be transferred back. The rest will be stranded until this war ends.”
“If you want, you aren’t required to stay here,” said Alex Luthor. “Harbinger and I will keep track of the heroes’ progress. I would just tell you to stay within New York, as we may need your abilities again.”
“I don’t know. I’d feel cheap not staying here,” Kid Flash said.
“You have done what we needed. We are grateful, and we wouldn’t be here without you two,” Alex replied.
“With what’s happened so far, maybe I do need a breather. At least for a coffee. What do you say, Wally?” Jay asked.
“All right. But we’ll be back before too long. I have some friends out there, and I don’t want anything bad happening,” Kid Flash said.
The two speedsters left the tracking room and exited the building. “You know where a man can get a good cup of coffee?” the elder Flash asked with a grin.
“I know just the place. Try to keep up, all right?” Kid Flash kidded.
“Is that right? Well then, I think you have a challenge on your hands,” Jay said in the same tone.
The two speedsters made their way to a nearby soda shop. Seeing the place brought back memories for Jay as a boy.
“You know how to pick ’em, don’t you?” Jay said with enthusiasm.
“Hey, I only learn from the best. Plus, I thought it would be like home away from home,” Kid Flash said.
The two men walked inside. Jay viewed the many antiques the soda shop had: bicycles, old advertisements, posters, and comics. They walked to two stools and sat down. The 60-year-old owner of the soda shop stood in amazement, then looked at his wall, where a copy of Flash Comics #1 was framed. Again, he looked at this customer, then again at the framed comic book. “Hey, you,” the owner called out. “Who are you?”
Jay Garrick replied, “I’m the Flash. Why?”
The owner spoke. “The Flash is a comic book character. You a nostalgic fan? The outfit you’re wearing looks the way I always pictured.”
“You don’t say? Well, then. Just how did the Flash maintain his secret identity when all he wore was a hat like mine?” the elder Flash asked as he began to vibrate his face, blurring his facial features.
“Just… like… that…!” the owner exclaimed. “You’re really him! The Flash! Wow! It’s like a dream come true! I collected every comic you appeared in. I was so mad when they canceled your books. Hard water vapors, right?” referring to his hero’s origin.
“You got me there,” Jay said with a smile. “I’d like to order a coffee, if it’s all right.”
“I’ll do you one better. Both you and your friend have a meal on me, coffee, too!” the owner said.
“We appreciate it,” Jay said.