Chapter 1: Christmas On December 16th?
The West household was festooned with lights and bright Christmas decorations. Barry and Iris had spent the day finishing up the decoration of the Christmas tree, as was traditional - or had been until two years ago. It was nice, Barry thought, to get back to those Christmas traditions.
The only difference was, it wasn't Christmas yet.
"I can't believe I agreed to this," Joe grumbled, though he was smiling as he taste-tested Grandma West's traditional egg nog. "Christmas on December 16th? Who ever thought of that?"
"At least it means we'll have a Christmas, dad," Iris pointed out. "Barry hasn't exactly been here the last couple of years."
Though he knew they meant well, the reminder sent a sharp pain through Barry's heart. Two months ago, during the Dominators invasion, he had gotten the news that Len had died during his mission on the Waverider. He had been supportive of Len going on that adventure, even though Barry couldn't come along, but he hadn't expected that outcome.
Len had always seemed to be so impervious to danger, and now he was gone.
He had grieved, and right now with Christmas just around the corner, he knew that he hadn't processed Len's death nearly as well as he'd thought. Looking around himself, he half expected to see his lover come around the corner, a drink in hand and a smirk on his lips, and whisk Barry off to another snowy getaway.
"I'll be here this year, though," he said, struggling not to let the sadness he felt at the comment show in his voice.
Iris' smile faltered, but she quickly brightened again and patted Barry on the shoulder. "I know, Bear, but Cisco and Lisa will probably be gone. And, well." She glanced wryly out the window as if the Rogues might roll up in their van at any moment to kidnap Barry. "Frankly, after the last two years, I just wanted to be sure you won't miss out this time."
"I know," Barry said, and smiled at her. It wasn't her fault he was in the doldrums, and he knew she was doing her best to raise his spirits. He appreciated all of that.
"Hey Joe!" Eddie called from the kitchen. There was a great deal of clattering as he struggled with some side dish. The sweet potatoes had burned, and last Barry had seen, he was trying to save them. "I think you'd better check the turkey."
"Oops, better baste that bird," Joe said, and trotted into the kitchen. The doorbell rang, and Joe yelled over his shoulder. "That'll be Wally! Get the door, will you?"
Grateful for the distraction, Barry finished hanging the ornament in his hand and darted to the door. He twisted the knob and opened the door with a grin. "Hey-- you're not Wally."
"Not without a lot more time in the tanning booth, sweetheart," Lisa said. "And a few other changes." Her tone was cool and clipped, at odds with the warm, festive dress she wore - a red dress, trimmed in white fur, and glittering with gold sequins. She looked gorgeous and her eyes were two chips of ice.
"Hi Lisa," Barry squeaked. He hadn't seen her in months - not since she chewed him out for 'convincing' Len and Mick to go 'gallivanting off on that idiotic job'. He was certain, and not without justification, that she blamed him for Len's death. "Um, welcome to our house."
"I'm not staying," she said, and turned to the side. "And neither are you." Only now did Barry see Cisco standing just behind Lisa.
He looked harried. "Barry, we have-- a problem. We’ve gotten a message from Supergirl over at the lab, and from what Caitlin told us about what it says, I think you'd better come with us see it."
Of all the things Barry had expected Cisco to say, that was not one of them. "A message from Supergirl? Is she in trouble?"
"Yeah," Cisco said, and looked up at Lisa. "She's calling for help, but that's not all."
"It's about my brother," Lisa said, folding her arms. "He's alive."
Barry's knees actually buckled. He leaned on the doorjamb. "Len? Len's alive-- but what does that have to do with Supergirl?"
"That's what we have to figure out," Lisa said. She leaned closer to Barry, filling his vision and cutting off his view. "And you're going to help us go get him, Barry. Today."
Barry swallowed hard. "Okay. I'm coming."
~ ~ ~
If there was a possibility that Len might actually be alive and in trouble... Christmas could wait.
He raced to STAR Labs as soon as he could, and whirled into the cortex, coming to a stop when he saw Caitlin sitting at one of the work stations. "Hey," he said. "Cisco and Lisa came to my house. They said--"
"There's a message from Supergirl," she said. "Yeah. Here, I'll bring it up for you." Her eyes darted from Barry to the side and she pursed her lips tightly, jerking her head towards the doorway into Cisco's private lab. Barry looked in that direction, then back at Caitlin, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. The message was clear - they weren't alone.
As if on cue, Mick Rory emerged from the room. He had a twizzler hanging halfway out of his mouth and as he walked towards them, he stuffed a second one in with the first, shoving the entirety of both ropes into his gob and chewing. "That kid’s only got sweet shit," he commented through a mouthful of red, chewy candy.
Caitlin winced, her shoulders rising with tension.
"Mick, what are you doing here?" Barry asked, startled. "Are the rest of the Legends here, too?"
"I came home for Christmas, dumbass," he said. "Sara dropped me off, said I wouldn't like it in Iceland anyways. You think I should call them back? I figured we had enough people without adding those do-gooders to the mix." He grinned at Barry. "You an' pretty boy, and the gal will be enough." He glanced back over his shoulder, and to Barry's horror, Mark Mardon emerged from the room behind him, followed by Roy, Kyle, Hartley, and Shawna.
No wonder Caitlin was looking like she'd rather be anywhere but here.
"Hey, good to finally see you," Mark said with a wolfish grin, and Barry realized with a jolt - he wasn't wearing his mask.
The world slowed around him as his heart sped up and the speed force crackled around him. A litany of swear words that would have made Joe ground him for life ran through Barry's mind in an instant, but it was already too late to actually do anything about it. He closed his eyes, let out a breath, and allowed the world to speed up again.
"Good to see you, too, Mark," Barry lied and moved to join Caitlin behind the computer screen. She looked up at him, mouthing an apology, and he waved a hand dismissively. It wasn't her fault. She hadn't had time to properly warn him without tipping them off.
Mick blinked and then cuffed Mark on the back of the head. "Forget you ever saw it, if you know what's good for ya," he said, and wandered out of the room again, probably in search of more snacks.
The rest of the Rogues also scattered to different parts of the room, and Barry put them out of his mind for now. They were all here for the same purpose - to save Leonard Snart - so there was no danger from the Rogues today. Not much danger. Probably.
At least the Tricksters had apparently not been invited.
"Show me the message, please," he said quietly.
Hartley sauntered over while Caitlin brought up a video file, and leaned on the back of Caitlin's chair. "Hey Flash," he said cheerfully.
"Hey Hartley," Barry said, greeting him with a genuine smile. Then the video loaded, and he fell silent, watching.
The recording began with a close up of Kara's face. She wasn't wearing her glasses, and the background was slightly blurry, dark and with odd lighting, like the power wasn't working correctly. The lights behind her flashed erratically, throwing her face alternately into sharp relief and silhouette. Once, the lights failed completely, plunging the entire scene into complete darkness. The furrow between her brows was deep, her blue eyes hooded with exhaustion and desperation.
"Hi Cisco, it's Kara. Ha... I guess you knew that, huh? I'm sorry to be calling so soon asking for a favour, but we have a problem here, and we and the DEO need your help. There's been an invasion, and things-- it's bad. Look, I'll show you." She drew a breath, and turned the camera away from her face.
The video wobbled crazily as she moved the device, and then stabilized, showing a computer screen. The screen was playing a video of what looked like a traffic monitor feed. On the screen Barry saw a crowd of people, beating their fists on a heavily armoured door, surrounded by a destroyed chain link fence. It looked as though the hoard of people might have actually broken the fence down with their sheer numbers before throwing themselves at the door.
"This video shows the exterior of the DEO facility," Kara explained, her voice shaking. "Those people out there, they're humans, but they've been infected by some kind of virus. Alex is working to find a cure, but the source, the original source is still virtually unknown. A week ago a fleet of alien ships appeared in the sky, and all of this happened after they arrived. So far, the aliens have resisted any of our attempts to make contact with them, but it seems obvious that they are the source of the infection. We still don't know what they want, or how they're doing this."
The horrific scene shifted again, resolving once more on Kara's face. Tears were standing in her eyes. "People are dying, Cisco, and I'm just one person. I can't be everywhere at once. I just need help to buy time for Alex to find a cure for the virus. Please, bring everyone you can."
She swallowed, and a tentative smile graced her pretty features, at odds with the tears in her eyes. "Also, one more thing." She turned the camera again, and Barry caught his breath in shock. The room Kara was standing in had to be the medical bay in the DEO. It was almost unrecognizable given what was wrong with the lighting, but there was a medical bed and a man was lying in it, covered with a sheet. "I have good news for Barry," Kara said, and brought the camera close to the face of the man in the bed.
Len's face was wan and pale, and there was dried blood clinging to scabs on his forehead and cheek, which were purpled with bruises. Nevertheless, his face was familiar, his identity unmistakable. He cracked open his eyes at the approach of Supergirl, and Barry's heart clenched and broke at the look of confusion and fear in his eyes. His pupils were blown wide, and Barry wondered if he were drugged. How badly injured was he?
"Say hello to Barry, Leonard," Kara said. "He'll be coming for you, soon. I know he will."
"Barry?" Len murmured, his eyes widening. "Barry's coming?" As Barry had suspected, his words were slurred. Clearly they were having to keep him on some pretty heavy pain meds. He shifted under the blanket that covered him, as if straining to rise and unable to do so. "You know where Barry is?"
"Shhh," Kara murmured, patting him gently on the cheek. His eyes slid closed and he moaned, as the camera returned to Kara's face once more. "He goes in and out of lucidity, but I've been talking to him and I'm sure this is Len from your world. I have no idea how he got here," she said. "Alex says he'll be okay, but I know he'll be happy to see a familiar face."
Her expression crumpled once again, the desperation she felt cracking that cheerful veneer. "Cisco, please hurry. I don't know how long we can hold out."
~ ~ ~
“I sent the video,” Kara said. “Barry and his friends will be here any minute.” She shook her head and folded her arms, leaning against Leonard’s bed. He shifted under the blankets, his restraints rattling. “It’s too bad I had to drug you. It would’ve been better if you could have given him a more personal message. But I’m sure it was enough to bring him running.”
There was silence for a long moment, then he spoke. “Why haven’t you killed me?”
“Oh Len.” Kara turned to him and beamed, sweetly. “I’m not nearly done with you, yet.”
Chapter 2: Didn't You Like My Welcome Party?
The team travels to another world.
...did you say zombies?
"Cisco, please hurry. I don't know how long we can hold out."
The video ended abruptly, and Barry let out a breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. He looked at Caitlin, his heart surging with excitement. Now that he'd seen Len, confirmed his state, and the desperation of the overall situation in Earth-38, he could scarcely wait to leave. "Caitlin, can you--"
"I've already packed medical supplies and everything I can think of," she said calmly. "I'm coming along."
"And for what it's worth, I've got a bag of my own supplies packed, too," Hartley said, and tapped his right ear. "I'm not a doctor, but I know a few things about physiology. Some of my inventions might also be helpful against those aliens. All of us are ready to help in our own ways." His eyes darted to the other Rogues and he arched a brow and shrugged disdainfully. "Though most of them don't need much in the way of equipment, I'm sure we can find a use for them."
Shawna raised her middle finger cheerfully in Hartley's direction.
Cisco and Lisa walked into the cortex at that moment. Cisco stopped dead, his eyes wide as he stared around the room. "Uh, what are you guys all doing here?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly on the last word. Despite himself, Barry felt a bit of relief that Cisco hadn't known the Rogues were coming either.
Lisa breezed past him like a skiff under full sail. "I invited them, because it sounds like Lenny needs all hands on deck." She put her hands on her hips and looked from Cisco, to the faces of the other Rogues. "Where the hell is Mick?"
"Here!" Mick called from the next room. He sounded like his mouth was still full.
"Good." She turned to Cisco. "When can we leave, darling?"
Cisco jumped into action, darting around the room and throwing various pieces of esoteric equipment into bags. "Soon as we've got everything we need to repel a goddamn alien invasion on an entirely other Earth."
"Peachy," Lisa said.
Caitlin got up and headed into her lab to check her supplies. Since she'd already packed, Barry had a feeling she was just using it as an excuse to get away from the Rogues for a few minutes. Barry stood next to Hartley, resisting the urge to watch the video again, and feeling at loose ends. He hadn't packed anything, but there wasn't really anything to bring with him. He could go home and get a change of underwear, but that seemed like a waste of energy. All he really needed was the Flash suit.
Speaking of which... he put it on in a whirl of lightning and colour, and then returned to Hartley's side, tapping his foot impatiently. Hartley gave him a bemused look.
"Cisco, what's the plan," Barry said, needing something to distract him.
"I have a fix on the location Supergirl contacted me from," Cisco said, zipping up his bag. He had changed into his Vibe suit and had his goggles perched on his forehead. He tugged them down over his eyes as he continued. "We should arrive right inside the DEO. I'm assuming that Supergirl and her people have got an idea of where we should go from there."
"With all those people outside, we might find ourselves trapped in the facility if we go directly there. We may need to blast our way out," Kyle observed in his ponderous way. "Are we sure we shouldn't be calling in James and Axel on this?"
Everyone looked at everyone else.
"Hell no," Roy said. "They tried to blow us up last year."
"Besides," Barry said firmly, raising his voice to attract everyone's attention. "The people outside are people. Innocent people who aren't monsters - they're sick. We don't want to kill any of them if we can help it."
There was a murmur of discontented rumbling, and Barry winced. It didn't sound like they'd quite gotten the message. He looked at Lisa beseechingly, and she just shrugged.
"Our mission is to get Lenny safe. If that means saving the world, fine, but we're going to do it our way, sweetie," she said, flicking a hand discontentedly. Barry opened his mouth angrily, and she shook her head. "Yes, yes, we know your views on unnecessary killing, and I haven't forgotten about your arrangement with Lenny. We won't kill anyone if we don't have to."
Barry wasn't convinced, but looking into Lisa's eyes, he knew it was the best he could hope for. "Good," he said. "Are we ready to go?"
"Ready as we're gonna be," Cisco said, glancing around from face to face and shouldering his bulging backpack. The whole group trouped downstairs, and Cisco opened the portal. He ushered the rest of them through with one hand, the other holding the portal open. "Let's go fight some zombies!"
All the Rogues looked at each other uncertainly.
"I'll go first," Barry said with a sigh, and stepped forward into the shifting, rippling hole in reality.
As the portal swallowed him up, he heard Mick say, "Hey, no one told me there were gonna be zombies."
As always, the moment he entered the portal, something seemed to grab him somewhere around the region of his belly button and yank him forward into swirling light. He fell for an endless moment, and landed heavily on his feet on a solid floor. With long practice, Barry stepped forward quickly, clearing space for the next traveller. One after another, the Rogues landed, most of them stumbling a few steps before getting their bearings. Caitlin landed neatly and stepped over to Barry's side, followed by Hartley, Lisa, and finally, Cisco as the portal closed behind him.
By the time Cisco had arrived and it was too late, Barry had realized there was something wrong - this wasn't the DEO.
The floor and walls were made of a metal grating, but coated with a fine sheen of some kind of slime. Panels flickered and flashed in a pattern he recognized from the video Kara had sent. What he'd taken as malfunctioning fluorescent lights were actually alien-looking markers, labelled in a language he didn't recognize. They might have been access panels, or computer screens, or just sign-posts telling him which way to go to find the men's room. He had no idea.
The room they'd arrived in was circular, with only a single hexagonal panel in one end that might have been an exit. As Barry watched, the panel slid upwards, and a crowd of figures surged forward with a moan.
"What the--" Cisco gaped as the first four figures shambled into the room. They looked human, but their skin was grey. One woman, dressed in a tattered gown, was missing a large chunk out of the side of her throat. The wound was raw and bloody, like fresh meat. She fixed on Cisco with an animalistic hiss and hurried forward, arm raised in a grasping motion.
"Cisco," Barry said, eyes darting around the room as he debated the best way to handle the situation. "I don't think we're at the DEO."
Mick shoved Barry aside, stomping forward with his heat gun raised. "You guys never said there'd be zombies," he roared. "I fucking hate zombies."
He opened fire, turning the four zombies into torches and filling the corridor behind them with flaming, shrieking, undead monsters.
"Mick!" Barry exclaimed, as Mick continued to advance, the zombies scattering like burning leaves. "Mick wait!"
"He's clearing a path," Mark said, and pushed past Barry as well. "Follow me." Icy cold wind swirled around Mark's hands and he pushed it out in a cone around him. As they advanced down the corridor, burning zombies were pressed to the sides of the wide hallway, where they slowly collapsed into (mostly) inert piles of crisped barbeque.
There was nothing any of them could do but follow. The rest of the group crowded into the hallway behind Mark and Mick, shying away from any zombies who lay by the walls and reached for them, making weak, helpless grunting noises.
They passed junction after junction, corridor after corridor, and soon the zombie hoard had closed in behind them.
Lisa and Caitlin moved to the back of the line, Lisa turning zombies into golden statues if they got too close, while Caitlin allowed Killer Frost to take control. Killer Frost blasted zombies into ice statues, the two women backing up step by step as the whole group progressed through the labyrinth. And in all that, they never saw so much as a window, let alone an exit.
While they were moving quickly, and leaving devastation in their wake, Barry quickly saw that their situation was desperate. Were they on one of the alien ships? How could they have gotten things so wrong?
Mick and Lisa had to be running out of charge on their guns. When they stopped being able to fight, what then? Could Mark and Killer Frost protect them alone? None of the rest of them had powers that would help keep the entire group safe from the zombies.
"Mick!" Barry yelled. "Find us a room we can hide in and barricade the door. We need to buy some time to think!"
"Got it!" Mick shouted back over the blast of his gun. He paused next to a door like the one they had originally come through, and Barry pressed the flashing panel beside it.
The door rose into the ceiling and Barry tensed, expecting to find another hoard, but the room beyond was empty. It had two other exits, but they were also closed. There was a bunch of equipment in the room, perhaps computer consoles, but Barry didn't recognize anything as Earth tech. Somehow, Cisco had landed them in one of the alien ships instead of at the DEO.
"In here!" he called, and the group piled into the room. Mick and Killer Frost backed in last, both of them blasting the closest zombies in the face right before the door closed. Killer Frost pressed her palms to each of the doors, and a thick sheet of ice formed around it, sealing them in - and sealing the zombies out.
"So much for not killing any of the innocents," Lisa said with a sigh, lowering her gun. The muzzle was smoking slightly and Barry wondered if it was overheating. The charge indicator on the side looked dangerously low.
"Couldn't be helped," Hartley said. Silently, Barry had to agree. As much as his heart hurt at what had just transpired, if they hadn't fought their hardest, they all would have died. And there was also no telling how many of those people were goners regardless of their actions. Some, at least, had seemed to have wounds that would have been fatal anyway.
That didn't really make him feel better, but it allowed him to put the guilt aside and focus on their own survival. "Where are we, Cisco?" Barry asked, turning to his best friend. "This isn't the DEO. It's alien."
Cisco was poking at one of the computer consoles, but didn't seem to be having much luck. "I don't know, man. I assumed Supergirl was at the DEO. But instead we wound up in the middle of a Resident Evil dungeon."
"Well how're we gonna get outta the dungeon?" Mick growled. He glanced at Killer Frost, giving her an appraising look. "Girlie here's got style, but my gun's nearly out of juice."
"Thanks." Frost smirked at him and folded her arms, tossing her white hair and looking at Cisco. "I'd say Cisco has the best chance of getting us out of here. So what do you say? Port us back home, and forget we ever saw this hellhole."
"We're not leaving Lenny," Lisa snapped, at the same moment Barry shook his head violently.
"We can't leave," said Barry.
"But I can get us to the DEO," Cisco said. He unzipped his backpack and pulled out some wires and gadgets. Quickly, he plugged a wire into his cellphone, and the other one into another device. "Just... just give me a minute. I've got a little bit of signal. If I can just boost it, and get my cell talking to one of the local satellites..."
Hartley sprang to his side. "But it's alien tech," he said eagerly. "There's no way you can get Earth-38 tech to talk to your cellphone."
"Just you watch me," Cisco said grimly. "The tech's here's not that different, and I've already gotten a chance to play with Supergirl's phone when she was visiting our Earth..." He and Hartley devolved into techy speak that made Barry's head hurt, and he left them to it, praying that whatever they were doing, they would finish doing it soon.
A solid thump on one of the doors made them all jump.
Hartley pulled some kind of dish out of his own bag and he and Cisco hooked it up to the contraption they were building, connected to Cisco's cellphone. The Rogues, Barry, and Killer Frost arrayed themselves around the room, guarding each of the doors as the banging grew louder. Moans and groans echoed in the hallways beyond the doors.
The ice around one of the doors cracked with a sound like a gunshot. Killer Frost cursed and stepped forward, sealing it up again, but one of the others shattered an instant later.
As she reset the second seal, she glared over her shoulder at Cisco. "You boys had better hurry up!"
"I've got it," Cisco yelped. "A GPS signal. I... we're in the mountains, north of National City. I can get the coordinates of the DEO from here."
"Let's go, nerds," Roy growled. He was standing next to Lisa, a pistol in his hand. Barry suspected that the pistol would be more useful as a club in short order if the door was breached.
Cisco stood up and raised his hands. A portal formed in the middle of the room, swirling. "Okay, let's get out of here," he cried.
Hartley gathered up the equipment and was the first through the breach. As the rest of them began jumping into the portal one by one, one of the doors turned red. It buckled and blew apart with a mighty crack, pieces clattering to the floor.
Barry had been just about to step into the portal on Mick's heels, when he heard the sound. He yelped and turned around, waving Mark forward. He, Barry, and Cisco were the only ones left, and Cisco had to be the last. "Hurry, Mark. Go!" The Weather Wizard didn't wait, but plunged past Barry into the swirling portal.
The smoke from the superheated metal cleared quickly, and Supergirl came sauntering into the room. She glanced around, then her eyes landed on Barry. She looked distinctly put out.
"Kara?" Cisco choked. "What are you doing here?"
"Barry, Cisco," she said. "Where are you going? Didn't you like my welcome party?"
Zombies shambled out of the corridor behind her, arraying themselves around Kara like attendants with their queen. She raised a hand and they halted their advance, moaning softly with hunger.
"You're not Kara," Barry said, his voice raw with horror.
She rolled her eyes. "Of course I am, Barry. Now, come with me. I'll take you to your Leonard." She raised a hand, as if beckoning. The hairs on the back of Barry's neck stood straight up in warning.
Barry looked at Cisco. "Cisco, run!"
Cisco's eyes were wide, his hand shaking slightly with the strain of holding the portal open. "But Barry--"
Barry didn't wait. Kara surged forward, and the world slowed down as he called on the speedforce. Even with Barry's speed heightened, he had only an instant to act. Kara flew across the room towards them, her teeth bared and her eyes wild. Barry grabbed Cisco and leaped for the portal, even as it began to close.
A powerful hand grabbed Barry around the ankle. Kara was screaming a denial as she pulled him back.
With one last effort, Barry pushed Cisco hard, and he fell through the portal. It closed, an instant before Barry hit the floor hard, and the zombies descended on him.
~ ~ ~
"You okay, pretty?"
"Yeah," Cisco said, then looked around. They were standing in what looked like a hangar or garage, with military-style vehicles arrayed around them in bays. The rest of the Earth-1 people surrounded him and Mick in a loose group. He counted heads, his heart still pounding wildly from the fear, but there was still one missing. "Wait, no. Where's Barry?"
"He didn't come through with you," Lisa said. "What happened?"
"Something bad," Cisco said.
There was a loud clang, and a door opened not far away. Armed military officers flooded into the room, guns up and pointed at them. The Rogues reacted predictably, scattering for cover and raising their own weapons aggressively.
Cisco was left standing alone in the centre of the garage. He ignored Lisa's hiss, and waited. He'd kindof expected something like this.
A black man entered the room, followed by Kara's sister, Alex. Alex stood slightly behind the man and held a gun pointed at Cisco's head, but she frowned and lowered it a smidgen, recognition flickering in her eyes.
"What is the meaning of this?" the man demanded, putting his hands on his hips. "You people have entered a government facility and are not authorized to be here. Identify yourself immediately."
Cisco raised his hand in an awkward wave. "Hi, I'm Cisco Ramon. I'm a friend of the Flash... and Supergirl. She's the one who called us here."
"That is Cisco Ramon, sir," Alex said softly. "I don't know the others."
Lisa stood up, raising her own gun to rest on her shoulder, pointed at the sky. "I'm Lisa Snart," she said. "And I'm here to find my brother. He's with your Supergirl."
"And so is the Flash," Cisco put in, and swallowed a lump in his throat.
The man raised two fingers, signalling, and the soldiers lowered their weapons. One by one, the rest of the Rogues stepped out of concealment. The man surveyed each of them with piercing, thoughtful eyes, then returned his gaze to Cisco. "My name is J'onn J’onzz," he said. "I think we had better talk about Supergirl. If your brother and the Flash are with her, then they are in grave danger."
Chapter 3: Fuck Indeed
Our heroes get more bad news.
The Earth-1 gang were escorted deeper into the facility by a phalanx of soldiers, with J'onn in the lead. Cisco tried his best to memorize the route, but this place was a gigantic maze, and a part of him wondered if the leader was deliberately trying to confuse them.
Caitlin all but glued herself to his side - Cisco was relieved to see that she'd regained control and was back to normal, but she still seemed nervous. As they walked, Cisco offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile, which she returned tightly.
Finally, they reached a sort of nerve centre, with people bustling about, and many computer screens. It reminded him of the Cortex back at STAR Labs, but with more people in it. Wearing uniforms. And mostly armed.
J'onn paused for a moment and surveyed the group. "Mr. Ramon, please step into my office, so I can debrief you. The rest of you can wait outside. Agent Schott, perhaps you could show them to Conference Room A."
A young, nervous-looking man jerked straight up in his chair upon his name being called and he swung around, his eyes widening as he got a look at the pack of (mostly) ruffians that Cisco had brought with him. "Oh-ah. Yes, sir. Of course. These are the...?" He made a sort of vague hand gesture, which J'onn appeared to understand.
Cisco felt an instant kinship with this guy.
"Yes, they're the ones who somehow teleported themselves into the secondary hangar," J'onn said. He gave Cisco a hard look. "Among other things, Mr. Ramon here will be explaining exactly how he accomplished that." He glanced at Alex. "Agent Danvers, go with them."
She nodded curtly. "Yes, sir."
Alex and the other man walked towards the Rogues, Alex gesturing towards a hallway. "It's this way. Follow me," while J'onn ushered Cisco towards another door.
"Excuse me," Lisa said sharply, a hand on one hip. "Why exactly are we being separated?"
"It's fine, Lisa. Let’s just… cooperate for now. Okay?" Cisco said nervously. He wasn't completely certain it was fine. He was, like, eighty-percent sure that he could trust Alex and that the only reason J'onn wanted to talk to him was because he seemed to be the leader and maybe because he was friends with Barry and Kara. But on the other hand, he wasn't super happy about being separated out from the group, either.
J'onn didn't appear upset by the question. "You're not being separated," he said. "Believe me, you'll each get your turn."
"Fantastic," Cisco groaned under his breath.
Lisa glared for a long moment, then turned with a huff, tossing her hair. "You have fifteen minutes, and then I want him delivered to me."
Cisco's cheeks burned as he turned to follow J'onn J'onzz into his office.
It was... office-like. Big desk. Chairs. Cisco sat in one of the chairs, while J'onn sat on the other side and observed him for a moment, fingers laced together on the desk blotter. Cisco attempted to sink through the chair and into the floor.
"Welcome to the DEO, Mr. Ramon. Would you like a glass of water?" J'onn offered mildly.
"Oh." Cisco sat up straighter. "No. Thanks. Um, can I ask you something?"
J'onn gestured that he might, yes.
"Are you really from Mars?"
J'onn's eyebrows rose. "Supergirl's been talking, I presume."
"Yeah." Cisco smiled awkwardly. "She did happen to mention you when she was on my Earth."
"I see." J'onn nodded gravely. Cisco couldn't tell if he was pissed off or not. The guy was totally unreadable. "Well, to answer your question - yes. I am from Mars, originally. Now, may I ask you a question?"
Cisco winced. "Sure."
"How - precisely - did you get here? And who are your companions?"
Cisco sighed. He recounted how STAR Labs had obtained the video message from Kara, and explained who the Rogues were. J'onn didn't seem super thrilled to learn that most of the people Cisco had brought to his doorstep were criminal metahumans. Then Cisco explained how they had come to this Earth, and found themselves in some kind of alien place, and how they had ultimately escaped from the facility just before Kara could kill them all.
J'onn absorbed the information with a wooden expression, nodding at times and asking pointed questions when he felt the need. When Cisco had finished his tale, and also given him a rundown on the metahuman abilities of the Rogues, J'onn finally sat back. "I'm sorry to tell you this, Mr. Ramon, but I'm afraid that Mr. Allen, and Mr. Snart, may already be as good as dead.
Cisco sat back, his stomach roiling. “That…there’s no way. There’s no way I’ll believe that until I know for sure.” Despite his forceful response, he felt tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. “What the hell is going on here, man?” he demanded. “If Kara didn’t send us that message, who did?”
J’onn’s expression drew down and he sighed. “I believe Kara did send you that message, Mr. Ramon. Supergirl’s been compromised.”
“No…” Cisco breathed. He had seen first-hand how powerful Kara was. She was practically a goddess, invulnerability being just one of her abilities. How could they beat that?
“Six weeks ago, a fleet of alien ships breached our atmosphere,” J’onn explained, while Cisco struggled to absorb his words through the roaring of horror in his ears. “They ignored all of our hails and every attempt to make contact, but shortly after their arrival, the first outbreak began. We believe, given the coincidence of timing, that the ships are the source of a virus which infects sentients and turns them into ravenous monsters. The virus causes them to continue to move and be animated, even in an extremity of damage done to them. Only fire seems to destroy them completely, though beheading renders them largely harmless.”
“Zombies, man, you can say the word,” Cisco murmured. He stared down at his hands in his lap.
“Colloquially, yes. We are indeed dealing with a zombie outbreak,” J’onn agreed solemnly. “The infection quickly spread. Of course, Supergirl was at the front lines of defence. However, this meant exposure to the virus. We believed she was likely impervious to this infection just as she is to all terrestrial illnesses, but this diseaase is so virulent, it appears that it can even breach a Kryptonian’s natural defenses.”
He drew in a breath, and for the first time the shell cracked. There was true grief and worry in J’onn’s eyes, so deep and immense that it took Cisco’s breath away. “Kara turned against us. Unlike the other infected, she hasn’t lost her mind, but she seems to be able to command the zombies. We have theorized that she is at the centre of a hive mind, and her goal is to ensure that every living person on the planet - human or alien - be infected with this virus.”
Cisco sat for a moment after J’onn finished his story, unable to encompass the immensity of this horror. “So… you think that Barry and Len are already infected, if they’re with Kara,” he said slowly.
He raised his head. “Why do you think Kara called us here? Len didn’t look like a zombie on the video.” Did he? No, he had talked, and he hadn’t exhibited the grey pallor or inarticulate moans that the other zombies had. He was still human when the video was made, Cisco was sure of it.
“That is still a mystery,” J’onn said. “It could be part of the same directive that drives her to infect the people on this Earth - to propagate the virus. If she could infect and control you, for example…”
Cisco twitched. “Oh fuck.” With Cisco’s abilities under her command, Kara could send zombies throughout the multiverse to infect everyone, in every world.
“Fuck indeed,” J’onn intoned gravely. “So I hope that you understand why I must demand that, if you choose not to return to your Earth, that you remain here, at the DEO, and avoid all possible contact with the zombie virus.”
That took a second. Cisco stared at him in shock. “I…what? You’re arresting me?”
“I should hope that wouldn’t be necessary. You understand the gravity of the situation.”
Cisco found himself on his feet without having consciously decided to rise. “But what about Barry? I can’t just sit on my hands and— you can’t make me just stay here and do nothing when Barry’s in trouble.”
“Mr. Ramon, control yourself,” J’onn said, gazing up at him with unflappable calm. “The last thing I want is for any harm to come to your friend, or anyone else. There are many things you can do to help here at the DEO. I understand that you’re an engineer and a computer genius. I’m certain we can use your skills, other than your metahuman or combat abilities, to great effect in stopping this scourge.”
“Kara told you I’m a computer genius?” Cisco blurted out, reddening. He swallowed and sank back down into his seat. “I’ll stay,” he said. “But what about the others?”
“We’ll assess the situation on a case by case basis,” J’onn said. “Obviously you will want to mount a rescue, and I cannot blame you. I’m willing to expend DEO resources towards that effort. But I also can’t allow any of you to cause more problems than we already have, so I expect us all to work together instead of running off half-cocked. Is that understood?”
“Understood,” Cisco said meekly. He was pretty sure far more than fifteen minutes had gone by. Lisa was probably getting upset. “If that’s everything, then I think I’d better get back to the others to let them know what’s going on.”
J’onn rose to his feet. “Of course. I’ll show you the way.” He paused. “For what it’s worth, Mr. Ramon, I am truly sorry about Mr. Allen.”
Cisco turned away to face the door, wishing his goggles were on right now so they would hide the tears that swam in his eyes. “Yeah… well I haven’t given up hope just yet.”
“It’s vital to keep hope alive,” J’onn said. He didn’t sound like he shared Cisco’s optimism. Cisco wasn’t even sure if he shared his own optimism.
~ ~ ~
Barry woke up with a killer headache, lying on a metal grating, with something soft pillowing his head. He groaned and raised a hand to press it to his forehead, and felt a twinge in his arm. He opened his eyes and observed the white fabric of a bandage wrapped around his forearm.
Barry’s heart nearly stopped at the sound of that beautiful, beautiful voice. He tilted his head and met Len’s gaze, as the older man stared down at him, and realized abruptly that he was lying on a floor, with his head pillowed on Len’s lap. “Len?” he croaked.
Len spread his hands in a wordless gesture.
The pain in his head and arm vanished as Barry sat up and threw his arms around Len’s neck, hugging him so tightly the other man gave a soft croak of protest. “Oh my god, Len! You’re okay!” he sobbed.
“For some value of okay,” Len managed with a wheeze. “You’re strong, kid.”
When Barry felt like he could actually talk without bursting into tears again, he raised his head and looked around, though he only loosened his grip enough for Len to breathe. Len was sitting in the corner of a small room. The room was square and featureless, except for one of those hexagonal doors with a glass window embedded into it. There was no sign of any control boxes or mechanism to open the door on this side.
A cell, then.
He turned back to Len. His lover was watching him with an odd wariness in his cool, blue gaze, his expression unsmiling and difficult to read. For the first time, Barry had to wonder if this was really his Len, like Kara had claimed. “They said you died,” Barry said cautiously. “Mick said you blew yourself up stopping the Time Masters.”
“Well, I tried to,” Len said wryly. “Your guess is as good as mine how I wound up here. I expected to wake up dead, but instead I woke up in the arms of some chick in a skirt. She was flying. Didn’t answer a lot of questions, either.”
Barry swallowed. “Kara Danvers. Also known as Supergirl,” he said. “She’s an alien, but this isn’t our Earth. It’s, um, a parallel world.”
“She’s a real peach,” Len said with a roll of his eyes. “And how do you know this alien from another Earth, Barry?”
“I accidentally came here once,” Barry admitted. “When I was practicing my speed.” He bit his lip. “Kara wasn’t evil then… She even came to our Earth a couple months ago to help us fight an alien invasion. I don’t know what’s happened to her.”
“She’s a zombie queen is what’s happened,” Len said bitingly. “Because zombies are a thing, too, apparently. How’re you feeling?”
“Fine,” Barry said, but there was something in Len’s tone that made him look at him again. “What…” Then it hit him. He looked down at his own arm, a terrible cold feeling creeping over him. He touched the bandage, then reached to unfasten the tape that held it on his arm, but Len caught his wrist before he could do so.
“Maybe best to leave it alone for now,” Len said softly.
Barry nodded and lowered his hand. “You think… you think I got bitten by one of those things?” He raised his head. “You haven’t been bitten, have you?”
“Not yet, no,” Len said, to Barry’s immense relief.
But that relief was short lived, as Barry tucked himself in closer to Len and his gaze fell onto the white bandage once again. There was a spot of red in the middle. How long ago had he been injured? Shouldn’t it have healed by now?
And if he really had been bitten - if the zombies here worked like they did in the movies - then how long would it be before he was a danger to Len?
He couldn’t just wait around for something bad to happen. Barry bounced to his feet, gathering his energy. His head still felt like it was about to split open, but that didn’t matter. He had to get himself and Len out of this place, and no door was a barrier to the Flash.
“What’s up, Barry?” Len asked from his spot on the floor.
“I’m gonna go through the door,” Barry said. “Do a little check around the place. We have to get out of here, but I’ll be back for you in a second, okay?”
“You think you can carry me out of here?” For the first time since Barry woke up, something like hope was blossoming in Len’s voice. He got to his feet, moving stiffly, but even under Barry’s overprotective gaze, he seemed tired, not badly hurt.
“I can and I will,” Barry said. “I just need to check around to find the quickest way out. The fewer walls to pass through the better, especially carrying you, right?”
Len’s expression turned wary. “Ah, I’d prefer not to go through any walls if possible. As a rule.”
Barry grinned. He flashed close, planted a kiss on Len’s lips, and zipped towards the door—
—And bounced off of it with a bone-clattering impact that sent him sliding across the floor. He lay for a few moments, stunned, and gradually realized that Len was holding him, shaking his shoulder and calling his name. He opened his eyes and sat up.
"I'm okay, I'm okay," he assured Len, who still looked shaken.
"I...I don't know." Barry got to his feet and walked to the door. He held out his hand, and made it vibrate. Slowly, he pushed his hand towards the door, but the instant he touched it, instead of it passing through the metal, his hand was thrown back violently. He examined a small mark he’d made on the door, and touched his hand. The tips of his fingers smarted, like he’d gotten a carpet burn.
Next, he pressed his palm to the door and began to vibrate at different frequencies. No matter what he did, he couldn't find a sympathetic frequency, and in fact he felt like the metal door itself was actively fighting him.
After trying the same techniques on the walls to similar effect. Barry sighed and turned away in defeat. Len was standing at the other side of the room, his expression closed and his arms folded. Though he leaned against the wall, the older man almost vibrated with tension. "Well?"
"I'm sorry," Barry said. "I can't get through the door. Something in the substance is cancelling out my powers."
Len pursed his lips, and sighed, then sank down to sit in the corner once again. He opened his arms, and Barry went to him. Curling into his arms and holding Len felt so right - it was the only thing that did.
“I’m scared, Len,” Barry whispered.
Len said nothing at all.
Chapter 4: Did Anyone Bring A Powerpoint?
Because letting the Rogues into the DEO can't possibly end badly.
Lisa took the lead, walking with the tall drink of water in the gorgeous boots - Danvers, was it? - as the Rogues were unceremoniously escorted away from the control centre of this creepy underground government facility. Lisa had never expected to be in a place like this and not stealing anything, and it definitely didn't sit well with her to be meekly led around by all the heavily armed commandos. Especially considering that Cisco was all on his own with the guy in charge.
Well, she knew she could handle the situation if it came down to it. She'd play nice for now, but if something hinky was going on with these people, she was sure they'd regret it.
"So," she said. "Nice place you've got here."
"Thanks," Alex said. "This way, please." She opened a door bearing a tasteful nameplate declaring it 'Conference Room 1' and held it open for the group. Beyond the door was a generic conference room - fluorescent lights, generic conference room chairs, generic glass-topped conference room table. No windows. No other exits.
Lisa swept in and sat on the edge of the table, close to the head, crossing one knee over the other. The rest of her people streamed into the room, each taking a seat. Mick sat at the spot that would be Lisa's right hand if she were actually sitting in the chair, and pushed back from the table, leaning the chair way back and putting his feet on the glass surface of the table.
Alex pursed her lips, looking at Mick. Lisa actually saw her decide it wasn't worth it to make an issue of it.
Caitlin Snow, the one remaining Team Flash member of their group, sat down on the other side of Lisa. Unfortunately for her, Roy Bivolo sat down on her other side. With all the chairs taken, Hartley moved in and rested his arms on the back of Caitlin's chair, effectively forming a shield between Roy and the young doctor. Caitlin shot Hartley a grateful look and chatted with him in low tones, utterly ignoring Roy.
Alex and the other one - a nerdy-looking fellow with a weird last name - remained standing. Alex leaned against the wall, looking more like she was guarding them than anything else. The other fellow looked like he didn't know what to do with his hands or body. He finally copied Alex, though the posture looked far less natural on him.
"Well then," Lisa said, once everyone had gotten settled. The chatter died instantly and every face turned towards her. "Isn't this nice. Shall we all introduce ourselves? Set an agenda? Did anyone bring a powerpoint?"
"Introductions wouldn't be a terrible idea," Alex said. "How about we start there. I'm Alex Danvers, this is Winn Schott."
Lisa rolled her eyes. Oh heck, why not? "Lisa Snart, Mick Rory..." She pointed around the table at each of them in turn.
"Don't know why we're putting up with this shit, Lisa," Mark spoke up just as she finished, because of course he did. "We should get out of here and go get Snart. These spooks have got nothing to offer us. I dunno why we even came here."
"We came here because the zombies were gonna take a bite out of you, Mark," said Kyle serenely. Of course of all of them, he was probably the one who had the least to worry about from zombies.
Mark chucked a paperclip at Kyle. "Fuck you, Nimbus." Kyle showed all his teeth in a grin.
"If we have nothing to offer you," Alex said, folding her arms across her chest. "Then why did you break in, in the first place?"
"Oh sweetheart, if we'd broken in, you'd have never seen us," Lisa said, eliciting a glare from Alex. "We came here because Cisco thought it was a good idea." Mark opened his mouth to say something further, his whole face lit up with gratification at what he clearly thought was agreement from Lisa, and she raised a finger to stop him from speaking. "And I do think it was a good idea. But make no mistake, Danvers - if you think we're staying here one minute longer than we want to, you're making a mistake. I'm here on this planet for one reason only, and that's to rescue my brother."
Alex's face went slack for a second, as if something Lisa had said was significant to her. "Your brother?"
Lisa considered for a moment, then decided that it was worth explaining. Cisco was likely telling the head honcho everything, anyway. "We're here because your Supergirl sent Cisco and the Flash a message. We thought she was with you people, and that you were helping my brother, but I think we have to conclude now that she's keeping him captive."
That seemed to mystify Alex as well, and she frowned in thought. It Winn who spoke up next. "Keeping him captive? That doesn't make any sense." As every eye now turned to him, he blushed and waved a hand.
Lisa uncrossed her legs and crossed them over again the other way, which allowed her to rest her chin on her fist. "Why doesn't it make sense? We're all bright people in this room - mostly. We can figure this out."
Winn began to pace. "Okay, well, you've all seen by now that we're dealing with this alien zombie outbreak," he said.
"Three words I think we all hoped never to hear strung together," Roy put in. There was a general rumbling of agreement from around the table.
"Right, yeah," Winn gave a soft laugh. "Trust me, we all feel the same way. Well, Supergirl's been infected by the zombie virus, too. And while everyone else who's been infected seems to like... lose their mind, just become ravenous monsters, she's still... her."
He stopped pacing and turned to face them all, gesturing with his hands as he talked. "But just because she is still smart, doesn't mean she isn't a zombie. One thing that seems universal is the imperative to spread the virus. Why wouldn't she have just infected him, too? Is there something special about your brother?"
Lisa opened her mouth and closed it again, confused. Well sure Lenny was special to her, but to some alien psycho infected by a zombie virus? "I... I don't think so. He's not even a metahuman."
"How many of you are?" Alex asked.
There was a moment of consternation, as some people obviously considered whether to keep that a mystery, then Mick solved the problem by pointing at each of the metas in turn. "Him, him, her, her, him. And the pretty boy in the other room's a meta, too. Lisa and me ain't." He turned his head to look at Alex. "Your name is Danvers, too. You got any relation to Skirt?"
Lisa stiffened in surprise as this incredible insight came flying out of the most improbable mouth in the room. Alex and Winn both gaped for a full few seconds before they managed to regain control of themselves.
"How...how the hell do you know Supergirl's name?" Alex asked, her voice breathless with shock and anger.
Mick shrugged. "We connected. When she was with us fighting the other aliens."
Lisa had already recovered, and hoped that the two DEO agents hadn't even noticed her own reaction. "Right, there's no secrets left," she said sweetly. "So why don't you just answer the question, hmm?"
Alex and Winn exchanged glances. "I'm her sister - adopted," Alex said, sounding as though the admission was being dragged out of her by force. "When Kara came to Earth as a child, my family took her in and raised her."
Lisa settled back, triumphant. So to these people, this threat wasn't just about a zombie apocalypse. It was also personal. It was family. That was useful.
Before she could think of a follow up question, a new voice rose. "Excuse me," Caitlin said. "You said this was caused by a virus. Were you being literal?"
"Yes," Alex said. "I haven't yet isolated the exact vector of the infection, but I have samples back in the infirmary that I'm still testing." She paused, then added. "My specialty is in bio-engineering, but I also serve as the chief medical officer."
Lisa blinked. This woman was a doctor? She looked like a combat specialist, not a bio-engineer - whatever that was.
Caitlin leaned forward. "I'm a medical doctor as well. Perhaps I can assist in the testing. If we can determine the vector of the infection, maybe we can develop a treatment."
Alex hesitated. "Actually, I would appreciate any help you can offer." She glanced at Winn, clearly debating, then seemed to make a decision. "Winn, stay here and answer any questions they have. I'll take-- sorry, what was your name?"
"I'll take Doctor Snow to the infirmary and get her set up."
Winn's eyes widened. He hissed to Alex, though it was clearly audible to everyone in the room. "You're leaving me alone with them?"
Alex looked torn. "I'm sure you'll be fine. I've already left my samples alone too long."
"Oh go on," Lisa said. "We'll take good care of little Winn." Her teasing didn't make either of the DEO Agents look more comfortable at all.
Caitlin rose to her feet and joined Alex and Winn by the door. "For what it's worth," she said. "Lisa probably won't let them hurt him."
"And actually, neither will Hartley Rathaway," Hartley said with a wave of his hand.
"Like you could stop us," Kyle said to Hartley, showing teeth again.
"Actually, I could," Hartley said.
"Enough," Lisa said, rolling her eyes. "Go, girls. I said we'd behave and we will."
Alex hesitated another few moments, then sighed and opened the door. "Come along." Caitlin strode after her, looking quite relieved to have something to do. Or maybe she was just glad to get away from all the Rogues. Lisa couldn't really blame her for either feeling. Hartley settled into her seat.
The door shut, and Lisa got to her feet, slinging herself into her chair and putting her feet up like Mick. "All right, boys - and girl," she added, nodding to Shawna. "That guy's got seven more minutes by my count before he has to deliver Cisco back to us. After that, we are out of here, and we're going to need a plan to save Lenny. Let's get cracking."
"Um, excuse me, what?" Winn blurted out. "You just got here, and you're really gonna just leave? Did you notice all the zombies everywhere? You don't even know where you're going."
Mick lowered his feet to the ground and leaned in close to Lisa. "He's gotta point," he said, very quietly.
Lisa blinked at Mick, bemused, and turned to Winn. "Have a seat, dear."
Winn glanced around the table, uncertainly. All the seats were taken. "Uh..."
"Oh please." Kyle rose to his feet and gestured graciously to his vacated chair. "Sit."
Lisa couldn't imagine anything quite so terrifying, but to her surprise, Winn almost seemed to steady himself. He gazed at Kyle for one long moment, then sat down in the chair obediently and rested his elbows on the table, lacing his hands together. "All right," he said. "Here's what we know. We believe Supergirl has set herself up in a structure in the mountains north of National City. The structure is alien, and we believe the bulk of it is underground. We think that it was constructed remotely, either by someone on the alien ships, or possibly built by the zombies themselves. She - or someone - has the ability to command the zombies. J'onn thinks the zombies are now working like a hive mind - sort of like ants or bees. The drones aren't smart, but their queen is, and their queen is Kara."
"That's where we were," Hartley said. "An alien building north of National City. We were able to get a GPS signal, but a weak one. I had to boost the signal enormously to connect to the local satellite network and figure out where we were in relationship to you so Cisco could portal us out."
Winn turned to Hartley. "You're the tech?"
"One of them. I should give Cisco some credit," Hartley all but purred and eyes rolled all around the table. Lisa had to suppress a smile.
"I'm shocked you could get a signal at all," Winn said with obvious excitement. "Whatever material the building and ships are made of has resisted all our attempts to penetrate it with any kind of sensor. The only reason we know there are underground parts of the structure is because that's where the dead zones are. Were you able to get any readings on the material? Any samples?"
"Sorry," Hartley said. "We were a little busy running for our lives. But I'll give you access to the equipment we used. We might be able to learn something more with a further analysis."
"That'd be great," Winn gushed.
"And Lenny's trapped inside this maze we can't see inside, and we still don't know why this zombie queen is bothering to keep him alive, or how long that might continue," Lisa said loudly, overriding the nerdgasm in progress. Hartley sat back in his chair, put out, while Winn seemed to only belatedly recall that they were there.
Winn ran a hand through his hair. "Look, you're completely right and I know you're worried about him, but if you just go straight back in there, you're just going to wind up in the same situation you were in before. The place is a maze, like you said. We have no idea of the layout." He looked up at Lisa. "We want to do something just as much as you. Kara's my best friend, and she's Alex's family. Alex is working around the clock to try to find a treatment for the zombie virus. If your brother's been bitten, then they're his best shot."
"Not gonna help if he's had his neck ripped out like some of them," Mick rumbled. He jabbed a thumb at Winn. "But the nerd's right. Snart would have a plan."
"He would have a plan," Lisa agreed softly.
"Snart would have blue prints, and guard schedules, and know where the alarms are and all that shit," Mark said. "But we don't have any of that."
"But we could get it," Hartley said insistently, leaning forward. "And I'm sure our new friend Winn can help us."
Winn looked startled. "I can? I mean, sure, yeah, I can." He looked around. "Um, with some time, and maybe some help."
Shawna straightened up. "Between Nimbus and I, we can get an idea of the layout." She looked at Kyle. "At least, we can give it a try."
"How?" Winn stared at them.
Shawna looked at him, then teleported across the room in a puff of black smoke. Winn gasped, then looked at Kyle. "You can do something like that, too?"
"Something like that," Kyle said. "Ventilation's too bad in this room to show you what I can do."
Lisa felt hope blossoming inside her. They were still very far from rescuing her brother, but there was a direction, at least. She got to her feet, commanding the attention of the room. "All right," she said. "Hart, you and Winn put your heads together. I want you to give me every scrap of information the DEO has in an hour. The rest of us will wait here."
"Yes, ma'am," Hartley said, breaking into a grin. He got to his feet and shouldered his pack. "Come on, Winn, show me your toys."
Winn jumped up, then hesitated. "Wait, I'm sort of supposed to be watching you."
"I said we'll wait here," Lisa said, arching a brow. "You have work to do."
Winn wavered, but Hartley put a hand on his shoulder and steered him towards the door. "Relax, Winn. She's right. We're dealing with a zombie apocalypse, and we're all on the same side."
The door closed behind the boys, and everyone turned expectantly towards Lisa. She glanced at her watch.
"Eighteen minutes," she said. "We are going to wait here for their report, except." She looked at Mick. "Go get me my boy."
Mick levered himself to his feet and cracked his knuckles. "You got it, Lisa." He headed for the door.
Chapter 5: Mary's Lunch
We're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, so what do you suppose is on Mick's mind?
Caitlin couldn't have been happier to get out of that room. Sitting in there with those people had made her feel sick to her stomach, though the truth was she had felt sick for hours now. She started feeling it from the moment the Rogues came striding into the cortex like they owned the place and announced that they were coming along on this insane mission. She was sick at the number of people she'd killed as Killer Frost in the alien fortress. She was sick with worry about Barry, now, too. She was completely sick.
And it seemed like with each development, things were just going from bad to worse.
As an example of "worse" - Killer Frost was still very much present, eager to step forward and take control, and it was tempting to surrender. Surrounded by danger on all sides, Killer Frost whispered that she had nothing to fear from the ravening monsters. She could freeze them all in their tracks. But Caitlin knew that wouldn't solve anything long term.
At least now she had something constructive to do. Hopefully. The prospect of spending the next hours or days using her medical expertise to try to save this world focused her, and helped to quiet Killer Frost's seductive whispers in the back of her mind.
"The infirmary's this way," Alex said, as she led Caitlin through the nerve centre of the DEO and down another hallway.
Caitlin didn't have a good sense of Alex just yet. She seemed cool and professional, but not really in a bad way, and she supposed that Alex might just be distracted by the situation. For all Caitlin knew, she was nice.
"I'm sorry about your sister," Caitlin offered. "I fought beside Kara when the Dominators attacked, too, and I thought she was brave, and very sweet."
Alex shot her an uncertain look, which softened to a smile. "You know, I worry about her a lot, but the truth is that she's so powerful, I never thought something like this would affect her. Now that it has, I feel like my whole world has been turned upside-down."
"I'm sure we'll save her," Caitlin said. "We'll find a way."
Alex's smile widened a little and warmed. "Yes, I know we will. Thank you, Caitlin."
They stepped into the infirmary and Caitlin took a moment to look around at the beds and equipment, finding it largely familiar. "Okay, tell me what you've done so far."
Alex took her on a brief tour of the facility, and showed her where the samples were being kept, in an isolated quarantine section for the handling of dangerous toxins. Though this wasn't the CDC, Alex explained that the DEO was created to deal with any and all alien threats, and that included microbiological ones. As such, they had a state-of-the-art isolation ward, and the infirmary could be sealed off completely from the rest of the facility to make sure that no biological contaminants could escape.
When Alex told her that the tissue samples they'd collected so far were in a small fridge, Caitlin automatically opened it. Alex was going over the equipment they could use to analyze the samples, and wasn't looking in her direction.
Front and centre in the fridge was a large glass jar, containing a severed zombie head. It opened its mouth and made a movement like it was trying to groan, its eyes rolling helplessly in their sockets. Caitlin gave a shriek of surprise and horror and leaped back, her heart pounding.
"Oh god, I'm sorry," Alex said, wincing. "I should have warned you. One of the guards cut the head off a zombie a few days ago and I figured we shouldn't waste the opportunity to study its biology. The body's in one of the private rooms."
Indeed it was. The headless body was strapped to a table in the ward. Biohazard plastic had been taped up around the room to isolate it. The body writhed in its bonds weakly, despite not having a head.
"I believe the virus works to maintain the bodily functions," Alex said as the two women stood in the ward, watching the body squirm. "It doesn't know the body can't even eat anything. It just has an imperative to spread the infection, like all infections do."
Caitlin looked at Alex. "Well, I think I've seen enough. Let's get started. Where can I work?"
As she spoke, a rumbling sound erupted outside the door. Alarms erupted to life, the sirens threatening to deafen them. A voice echoed through the hallways. "Battle stations. Supergirl has attacked the facility."
Alex's eyes widened. "Will you--"
"Go, I'll be okay here," Caitlin said. The other woman nodded and raced out the door.
~ ~ ~
He marked the offices and headed for them. Where there were swanky offices, there were break rooms, and where there were break rooms, there were sometimes beer fridges. After burning all those zombies, and what with knowing there were probably at least a few outside right now, he was badly in need of a drink.
So he poked his head into doors until he found what he was looking for - a small room with a few chairs and tables and a fridge. Two people were sitting in the room eating their lunches.
"Hey, who're you?" one of them asked. Mick ignored them and opened the fridge to rummage inside. No beer, to his chagrin, but he grabbed a tupperware container and opened it, sniffing the contents.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder. "Excuse me. What are you doing here?"
Mick turned and regarded the small uniformed man who had confronted him. He picked a sandwich triangle up out of the container - someone had cut the crusts off, nice - and took a deliberate bite. Chewed. Swallowed. "I'm eating. What the fuck does it look like?"
"That's-- That's Mary's lunch," the man said, his voice shaking slightly.
"Who's Mary?" Mick repeated blankly. The man gestured to the container, and Mick looked down. Sure enough, something was written in sharpie on the container. 'Mary's Lunch'. Mick shrugged and took another bite.
He continued to eat, the refrigerator open and cooling his backside while the man struggled to decide if he was going to continue this argument or not, and his lunch buddy pretended the whole thing wasn't happening.
"Well--" the man began, and then there was a rumble, and a gigantic crash from nearby. Sirens began to wail, and Mick winced as the sound of it cut like a knife through his head.
"Shit," Mick commented as the two men rushed from the room. Break time was clearly over. He drew his heat gun, checked the charge, and went in search of Lisa's boy.
The room with all the computers didn't have very many working computers in it anymore. The roof had caved in along one side and Mick could see the sky as he emerged from the hallway, so a lot of the equipment was half-buried in rubble. High above, Mick saw Supergirl, flying in circles, her eyes shooting laser beams towards them. The uniformed goons were running around like panicked chickens, and firing their guns - not at Supergirl, but at the zombies who were beginning to climb inside. Others were grabbing whatever equipment was portable, and hauling ass.
Mick roasted a zombie that was about to bite his new friend - the one who had tried in vain to protect Mary's Lunch - and then went back to where the head honcho's office was. Only the head honcho's office wasn't there anymore. The place where it had been was under part of where the roof had caved in.
Mick growled with anger and concern. He grabbed the door and pulled it aside, and began digging into the concrete with both hands, keeping a weather eye out for any zombies that might come and try to take a bite out of him. "Hey pretty!" he yelled. "You in there? Cisco!"
He moved a piece of rubble and spotted a small brown hand peeking out from under a section of wall. Mick grabbed onto the wall, heaved and pulled until he uncovered Cisco. He was lying on the floor, face down and very still. Mick set his back against the wall to hold it off of the kid and then bent carefully, gathering him into his arms. Cisco's head lolled, but Mick could see his chest rising and falling. His eyes were closed, and blood trickled from a gash in his forehead, but he was still alive.
Mick considered the situation for a moment, gazing down at Cisco in his arms and wondering if he could make it so he could fire his heat gun and hold him at the same time. After a few seconds of rearranging him, Mick managed to free a hand. Cisco was now sprawled half over Mick's shoulder, his ass cradled in Mick's elbow, and Mick's right hand was free.
He looked around at the carnage. He was supposed to take him back to the conference room, but that was no good. The doctor lady was in the hospital place, not with Lisa. What had the other doctor lady called it? A mortuary.
No, that wasn't right. It didn't matter.
Mick walked over to his new friend, who was firing bullets into the face of a groaning zombie. The zombie dropped to the floor, and Mick tapped him on the shoulder,
The man screamed and whirled around. Mick caught his wrist and forced it upwards before he could shoot Mick in the face, too. Two gunshots fired harmlessly into the air.
"Where's the hospital?" Mick roared over the wail of the alarms.
"What?" the man exclaimed, his eyes wild with terror.
"He's hurt!" Mick growled, releasing the man's wrist and gesturing to Cisco. "Where do we go?"
Mick's friend stared at him, then gestured towards a hallway blocked by another pile of rubble, in the opposite direction from the conference room. "That way," he said.
"Thanks," Mick said. "Better watch your back."
The man whirled in place, just in time to get tackled by two zombies who bore him, screaming, to the ground. Mick booked it out of there, ducking into the hallway. After only a few feet, he came to the rubble blocking the way. He set Cisco down and set about widening the gap to allow himself to get out of the open. As he moved rocks, he saw another small hand grabbing rocks from the other side and removing them, too.
Quickly, the two of them created a large hole. The person on the other side climbed through it before it was even big enough to accommodate Mick.
It was the new doctor lady.
"You!" Mick exclaimed, and pointed to Cisco. "He's hurt. You've gotta do something."
Alex skirted past him, drawing her pistol and peering out of the hall at the carnage beyond. "The infirmary is down that hall. Caitlin is there. You'd better hurry if you want to get there, though. We're going into lockdown." With that, she darted out into the fray, firing her gun at every zombie in sight.
Mick grunted and shoved another couple of rocks out of the way, then pushed Cisco through the gap. He had to squeeze pretty hard to get through, and scraped his hands all to hell. He ripped his jeans open on a piece of rebar, but ignored the pain, picking up the kid and and hurrying along the hallway, checking each door as he passed for any kind of word that might mean there was medical stuff beyond it.
The alarms changed their tone as he moved, becoming a blaring, repetitive blast. As he reached a large door labeled 'Infirmary', Mick stopped. At that moment a metal shutter began to slide out of the ceiling, to cover the door. Mick swore and grabbed the handle, jiggled it, but it was locked.
He reared back, and slammed his foot against the door. Once, twice, and the door flew open with a crash. He heard a scream from beyond, but ignored it, ducking quickly under the closing shutter and through the doorway.
The shutter slammed shut seconds after he made it through, and the alarm sound stopped.
Mick looked around. The girl was there, standing in the middle of the room with her hands raised in a threatening gesture. Her hair was white, and her lips blue, her skin pale. "Pretty boy's hurt," Mick said, thrusting the unconscious Cisco in her direction. "You gotta help him."
She lowered her hands. "Was he bitten?" Her tone was languid, cold and distant.
"Don't think so. He had a building fall on him."
She flicked her eyes to the side, then back to him. "All right. This way." She turned and walked away, deeper into the ward.
"I'm sure Caitlin wouldn't want him to die," she sighed, pulling a curtain aside to reveal one of those medical beds with the metal railings on the sides. "So I'll do what I can."
Mick settled Cisco with care onto the bed. He looked very small and vulnerable on the white sheets, his head falling to the side. Blood had soaked into Mick's shirt, and it dripped lightly onto the bedding from the cut on Cisco's head.
She bent over and examined the cut, pulling out equipment from a cabinet and beginning to clean up the wound. She opened his eyes one by one and shone a light into it. Mick got bored and sat down on a chair, examining the hole in his jeans. Blood dripped down his thigh from where the metal had torn his flesh.
"How come you look like that?" he asked. "You didn't look like that before. Except sometimes you did."
"You scared Caitlin," she said, pressing a bandage to Cisco's head. "She thought you were a zombie, or possibly she's just scared of you. So I came forward to deal with you."
He frowned, cocking his head to look at her. "But you're a doctor, too, right?"
"I know what Caitlin knows. Or at least, some of it."
"You like a ghost or something?"
She blinked and paused, her hands stilling as she looked at him. "What?"
He made a vague gesture. "Like, a ghost in her body."
"Ah. No." She smiled and bent over her work. "When I give in to my metahuman powers, it affects my personality. It's convenient for me to think of myself as two people living in one body. Caitlin is a kind, sweet, generous person. And I am Killer Frost."
She inserted a needle into Cisco's arm and hung an IV, and added a bunch of little sticky circles with wires coming out, all around his head and others on his chest, hooked up to a machine. Soon, a soothing, steady beat rang out, as the machine recorded Cisco's heart, or maybe his brain. Mick figured so long as those noises kept going, Cisco was gonna be okay, but he wanted to be sure, so he asked anyway.
"He gonna be okay now?"
"It's hard to say." She straightened. "The swelling doesn't appear to be too bad, but he may have a concussion. He'll be unconscious for a while."
"Are you hurt?" she asked, looking over at him and cocking her head with interest.
He shrugged. "Got cut up on some metal."
"I'll take a look at it. Come with me." She gestured to him and he got to his feet. His leg hurt worse now that he was walking, but he ignored it and followed her out of the curtained area where Cisco's bed was, and into another curtained area. She patted the bed and he grunted, then sat on it.
Frost pulled out some pieces of equipment and then bent over him, tugging the rip in his jeans wider and dabbing at the cut with a sterile swab.
Mick watched her for a few moments, then fingered the collar of his shirt. It was soaked with Cisco's blood, which was now beginning to dry - head wounds always bled so bad. He didn't much want to have to wear a blood-stiff shirt, so while she worked on his leg, he pulled his shirt off and dropped it to the floor.
"You always undress in front of strange women?" Killer Frost asked.
"No," Mick said, frowning. "But I got blood on me."
"Might as well take the jeans off," she said. She turned away, unrolling a bandage. "I can't see properly with them on."
Mick shrugged and got to his feet. Without any shame, he undid his jeans and shucked them, then sat back down again. The sheets were cool and smooth against his bare ass. Mick rarely bothered with underwear.
Frost finished up cleaning away the blood and then pressed a bandage over the cut on his leg. Her hands were cold where they touched his skin, and it pebbled up under her fingertips.
"Don't usually like the cold," he commented.
She arched a brow. Her fingers lingered on his thighs, her palms pressed down, one on each. "Don't usually?"
"Yeah." He grinned at her. "But I could get to like you."
"Sure, you were good with those zombies." He twitched, reminded of the zombies right outside the door, and glanced back over his shoulder. "I guess they can't get in here with the door barred, right?"
She looked up. "Are you worried?"
"No," he said hastily. Then he added. "I just don't like zombies, okay?"
She smirked, then sobered. "Okay. Well, I think the point of the door being locked is to keep the infirmary locked down so the zombies can't get in. Maybe so they can't get out, actually."
"There's zombies in here?" Mick set his hand on the bed to push himself up, but she touched him on the chest - fuck she was cold - and pressed him back down.
"No zombies in here," she said. "But if there were, the security would trap them inside."
He settled under her insistent push and her hand dropped back down to the bandage, smoothing it out in a way he thought was pretty unnecessary. "So what you're saying is, we're trapped in here."
"True," she said.
"And the only other person here's Cisco, but he's asleep."
She looked up. He smiled at her. She looked slightly confused, so he put a hand on her waist. Then her eyes widened with understanding. "That's also true."
He slid his other hand around her waist, but before he could move further, she hopped up and straddled his thighs. He grunted with surprise as her lips met his eagerly.
Their breath frosted between their lips, and he groaned in excitement. His thigh smarted where her inner thigh pressed against it, but that was just spice, like, barely even pain. Her hair was soft under his rough hands, and her fingers felt like ice as they ran over his scar-covered shoulders and down his arms.
He pulled her shirt off and tossed it aside. She unhooked her bra and gave it the same treatment. He cupped her breasts, and she sighed, throwing her head back for a moment in pleasure as her nipples pebbled under his thumbs. Her skirt rode up around her thighs.
"Fuck me," she commanded.
He tugged her panties aside and entered her, and she rode him until she screamed her orgasm to the ceiling.
Later, he found frost burns in the shapes of her fingertips on his back.
Chapter 6: I'm Going To Go Get My Sister
The only warning Barry and Len had before the door opened was a soft, ear-bending chime and a click as the lock disengaged. Barry immediately was on his feet, putting himself between Len and the exit, and bouncing slightly with anticipation as the hexagonal portal opened, the door sliding up into the ceiling. For all he knew, a horde of zombies was about to come streaming through.
Instead, Kara entered the room. She looked much the same as she had the last time Barry had seen her, her blonde hair long and tumbling around her shoulders, and her cape sweeping behind her. Her skin was paler, though, with a greyish tinge that hadn't been there before, and her eyes were bloodshot, the veins standing out redly around her blue irises.
"Hello, Barry," she said, putting her hands on her hips and smiling. "How are you feeling?"
Barry sensed as much as heard Len rising to his feet behind him.
"I'm fine," he said aggressively, resisting the urge to touch the bandage on his arm. "Uh, how're you, Kara?"
She drew in a deep breath, her arms opening wide and her shoulders rising, and then let it out, smiling with her head tilted to one side. "I'm better than I've ever been." She held a hand out towards Barry, as if in invitation. "Barry, I'm so glad that you're here. I wish the rest of our friends hadn't rushed off before I had a chance to say 'hi'."
"Kara." Barry flailed, at a loss. It was so hard to be angry with her, not when she looked so... her. But that just left him not knowing how to feel. "Kara, listen to me. I don't know what you think you're doing, but you have to fight it. Whatever the virus is making you think - you're hurting people."
"Oh Barry." She snickered and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "I know that's how you feel now. But don't worry - when you're finished your transformation, you'll see things differently. Just like I do."
Barry felt tears prick at the corner of his eyes. "My transformation? Is this fun for you?"
"Fun?" She chuckled. "Why are you acting like I'm some kind of monster? Didn't I bring you all the way here to be with the man you love?" He gestured towards Len, standing behind Barry. "Thanks to me, the two of you will be together for the rest of your lives."
The reference to their mortality sent a shock of cold through Barry. His chest squeezed, and he felt like he had to catch his breath before he could speak. "Are you... are you going to watch while I lose my mind, and then kill the man I love? Is that really why you brought me all the way here?"
Her eyes widened with shock, and her hand lowered to her side. "Barry, no. That's not what it's about at all."
The surprise and hurt in her voice caught Barry flat-footed. He hesitated, then spread his hands. "Please, Kara. Let us go. Let me help you."
Kara clasped her hands together. "I know you're scared and don't understand, but don't worry, Barry. Everything's going to be fine." She folded her arms, nodding as if a decision had been made. "I hoped you'd help me, but I guess I'm just going to have to do this myself."
"Do what?" Len asked in a low, menacing voice.
She smiled, and this time it was toothy and feral. "I'm going to go get my sister."
~ ~ ~
However, she wasn't too pleased that her clearly-imposed deadline had come and gone and still no Cisco. Worse, the other Rogues were starting to get bored.
"We aren't really gonna just stay here and wait forever like good little soldiers, are we Lisa?" Mark drawled, leaning back in his chair. He had formed a ball of ice in his hand and was tossing it up and down thoughtfully with his head tilted back, like he was considering which of the overhead lights he should throw the ball at first.
"Only as long as I say we will," Lisa returned. "I'm as eager as anyone to go get Lenny, but these goons might have things we could use. We shouldn't just leave without taking what we need from them, first."
There were nods of reluctant agreement around the table. Despite the situation, the prospect of stealing useful tech from a secret government facility would make any one of the Rogues salivate.
"Should I go look around?" Shawna asked. She wasn't usually the most antsy of the group, but she was the one most able to get around without detection. It made sense she'd be the one to do reconnaissance, and Lisa immediately nodded.
"I could, as well," Nimbus said.
Lisa considered that with a bit more reluctance, then nodded again. "Go on, both of you. Come back once you've mapped out the place. And Kyle?" He paused and looked at her, half risen from his chair. "No killing," she said, waggling a finger at him.
He gave her a serene look, which meant he was disappointed, but didn't want to admit it. "As you wish, Lisa." Then he began to waver into smoke and rose up into the ventilation system. Shawna just walked to the door, opened it a crack, and then vanished.
That left Roy and Mark alone with Lisa. Not her favourite combination, but it was what it was.
No sooner had she had that thought, but there was an ominous and loud rumbling from above them. The sound was drowned out the next moment by a loud claxon. Lisa looked upwards as the ground beneath them began to shake, and then saw a crack form in the ceiling right above them. "Is that an--"
Mark seized her arm and yanked her out of her chair. "Get under the table!" Roy was already diving for cover. Mark dragged Lisa under the conference room table only an instant before the roof caved in and tonnes of rock and debris rained down on top of them. Lisa found herself wedged between the two men, with Roy's head tucked against her side and Mark's arm protectively around her.
Mark cursed roundly and continuously, barely audible over the overwhelming noise, and Lisa felt the temperature drop precipitously. She hissed and tucked herself into a tighter ball, wondering what the hell Mark was doing, and afraid to break his concentration by asking.
After what felt like an eternity, the noise died away. The siren was still going, though it was far more muffled than before. Mark was panting, his breath harsh and rapid in her ear.
Lisa looked up, and saw that the table above them hadn't stood up to the weight. It had cracked down the middle, cross-wise, and would have caved in on them as well except that Mark had created a giant ice dome enclosing them.
"Thank you, Mark," Lisa said softly.
He nodded. "Won't be a sec," he said, his voice strained. He drew his hands up and out, and the debris outside the dome began to shift and move. It moved faster and faster as Mark concentrated, a tornado slowly drawing the debris off of the ice dome. The ice was beginning to show cracks from the weight pressed upon it, but daylight began to show through, and Lisa felt her hopes rise.
Then she saw what was going on outside, and she yelled to Mark. "Wait!"
The roof of the underground facility had caved in, leaving the level they were on open to the air. All around them were dozens of zombies, crawling over the debris in search of prey. Even worse, above them a woman was flying, her red cape flapping in the breeze. That had to be the woman on the video - and she was throwing out laser beams, which carved even more chunks out of the facility. All around them, the zombies were encountering DEO soldiers, and falling on them ravenously.
At her yell, Mark paused, his hands trembling as he held the air he'd gathered in a tight spiral. "What?" he hissed.
"There's a hundred zombies and a psycho metahuman out there," Lisa pointed out.
Roy sat up and peered upwards, pointing at the laser-wielding goddess. "Fuck, she's letting them in everywhere. The whole place is gonna be overrun."
Mark grimaced and looked up through the swirling funnel of debris and air that he'd formed. "We can't just stay here," he said. "Let me try something."
Mark redoubled his efforts, gathering up more of the debris into his air twister. He extended it upwards, drawing more and more of the stones and broken furniture and twisted metal into the body of the cyclone.
Lisa spotted Alex battling zombies as she headed for them, but she didn't see anyone else she recognized - not Cisco or Hartley, or Mick. Where were they? Were they OK?
Suddenly, Supergirl dove for Alex, her arms out as if to grab. At that same instant, Mark launched the gathered debris straight at her.
The twister made of a large section of the DEO and the earth above it slammed into the woman from the side, and she was totally unprepared for the attack. Mark grunted, making a pushing motion in her direction as he continued the onslaught. It looked as though Supergirl fell to the ground, covered in debris. Alex raced towards them, head down and gun up, picking off any zombies that she passed.
The ice dome crumbled, breaking into chunks and falling in on them. Lisa and Roy heaved at the ice and the broken table, keeping both off of Mark and trying to work themselves free.
There was a shriek of anger from where Supergirl had gone down. Lisa turned her head in that direction and spotted her flying straight up into the air as if shot by a cannon, dust and pieces of stone falling away. She headed off into the clouds, apparently defeated for now.
Mark collapsed to the floor, his eyes rolling up into his head as he passed out. Lisa got to her feet and stood over him, her gun out and scanning the area. Roy huddled at her feet, shaking Mark's shoulder and looking around nervously. She could understand his concern - she was pretty sure his powers weren't going to do shit against zombies.
Alex climbed over the wall of debris around them and stopped short, staring in utter shock. "You're alive! Did you do that thing with the rocks?"
"He did," Lisa said, gesturing down at the stricken Mark Mardon. "Of course we're alive!" Because they were totally awesome.
She punctuated her point by turning an investigating zombie into a golden statue.
"We need to get the fuck out of here," Roy exclaimed.
"Yes we do. Where are the others?" Alex asked with deep concern, scanning the debris around them.
As if summoned, Shawna Baez appeared next to Lisa in a puff of black dust. "Fuck me," she snapped. "What the fuck was that?"
"Supergirl," Lisa explained with a grimace. "Have you seen Cisco, Mick, or Hart?"
Shawna shook her head, but Alex spoke up. "I saw Cisco with Mick. Cisco was hurt and Mick was taking him to the infirmary. I'm sure they're safe from zombies. That area will be locked down by now."
Lisa's heart gave a little flip-flop at the news that Cisco was injured, but it sounded like there wasn't much they could do about it right now. More importantly, the zombies were starting to notice their little pow-wow, and she heard more groans and the shuffling of their feet as they approached. She turned to Alex. "Where do we go? We have to get out of the open."
"This way," Alex said, and took the lead. Shawna and Roy helped Mark to his feet and half-dragged him, while Lisa took the rear and picked off any zombies that came too close. Shortly, they reached a section of the building that hadn't collapsed, and Alex led them hurriedly down the corridor, passing several doors. Finally, she reached an elevator, and they all piled into it. It began to descend.
"Where are we going?" Roy asked. Mark was beginning to stir, but the shorter man was still bending under his weight. Shawna - even shorter - wasn't doing much to help.
"Down deeper in the building where the damage won't have reached," Alex said. "Those of us who survived and are able to make it to an elevator will gather there. The zombies won't be able to operate the elevators, and it's highly secure. From there we'll be able to barricade the rest of the exits, and figure out what to do."
The door opened. Beyond was a long series of branching corridors, leading to a central area with a few computers showing nothing but static on their screens. Along the walls of each corridor was a series of cells. Many of them contained prisoners. Lisa peeped into one of the cells as they passed and saw a man - or, something - with five tentacles protruding from his face. His(?) skin was grey and pebbled like an elephant. He was filling out a crossword puzzle with a stub of a pencil held in a pincer-shaped hand.
From another nearby cell, groans issued. Lisa saw a small gaggle of zombies wandering about inside, some of them scraping listlessly at the walls and groaning with hunger.
"Great," Roy growled. "We're gonna hide out in a prison."
"An alien prison," Lisa pointed out.
"Yup," Alex said wryly. "Better get comfortable - we might be here a while. At least we have plenty of beds."
Chapter 7: Inside Was Candyland
Hartley's got a cru~~ush...
Hartley followed Winn from the conference room back to the nerve centre of the DEO, while Winn chattered at him all the way. Once they reached Winn's work station, Hartley pulled up a chair to sit next to him, and leaned in close while Winn began to pull up information on his computer screen. Hartley dug into his bag and pulled out the jerry-rigged satellite access system he and Cisco had fashioned around his cellphone, and he and Winn had begun an in-depth discussion of how they might use a combination of satellite imagine, sonar, and other technology to map out the layout of the building where Supergirl was holding Snart.
Though they hadn't known one another long yet, Hartley felt like he and Winn had really hit it off. It was a strange feeling. Hartley had never been immediately liked by anyone in his entire life - except for Harrison Wells, and he had been a sociopathic murderer who wasn't even really Harrison Wells.
It worried him, somewhat, about Winn, but Hartley chose to believe that this just reflected all of the personal growth he had been working through lately.
Or maybe he was just really horny, and Winn was cute, and he was also fairly smart, all things considered. Past were the days when Hartley would look down on someone like Winn for being merely brilliant - like he had with Cisco when they had first met all those years ago. See? Personal growth.
"So the building just appeared overnight?" Hartley asked curiously.
"It might be one of the ships, reconfigured," Winn said, then brightened. "Like a Transformer! Do they have the Transformers in your world?"
"Like, the cartoon?" Hartley asked skeptically, and saw Winn's face fall. He considered that, then spread his hands, rallying quickly. "Not that there's anything wrong with a grown man liking a cartoon."
Winn didn't look convinced.
Hartley cleared his throat and reached past Winn to take control of the mouse, using it as a chance to lightly brush his arm against the other man's shoulder. "Do you have any pictures of the exterior? That's a place to start. If we can find a way in, like a vent or a window, Kyle Nimbus can always brute force a map. Of course, I'm not certain he's literate..."
Winn laughed nervously and scooted back, ceding control of the computer to Hartley, who pulled his own chair up to the work station.
"Ah, which one's Kyle Nimbus, and how could he make a map without getting killed by zombies?" Winn asked.
"The terrifying bald one," Hartley said. "He used to be a mob hit man. Would have died from lethal injection, but he was turned into a metahuman who can transform into a toxic mist instead." He paused. Winn's eyes were getting bigger and bigger. Hartley struggled to think of something reassuring to say, while at the same moment, Winn opened his mouth to say something.
But before either of them could voice what was on their mind, Hartley was distracted by a strange whine from above. He paused, frowned, and looked up. "What's that noise?"
Winn cocked his head in confusion unable to hear it, and an instant later a rumbling began that overwhelmed the sound Hartley had heard, and half the roof caved in.
Hartley acted before Winn had even heard the noise. He grabbed his bag in one hand, Winn in the other, and booked it in the opposite direction of the noise, which to his ears was an apocalyptic crashing of concrete and metal. Winn cried out in surprise, not yet having realized what was going on, but Hartley could hear the levels of the building above caving in on each other, one by one, moments before ceiling right above their heads was ripped apart by some kind of laser.
Debris tumbled down towards them, crushing Winn's work station moments after they got out of the way.
Thankfully, Hartley was still wearing his sonic gloves - here in enemy territory, he hadn't bothered to take them off. As another piece of masonry hurtled down towards them, Hartley gave Winn a shove towards the nearest door and fired his gloves upwards at a carefully - and quickly - calculated angle. The chunk of rock moved fractionally, just enough to give Hartley the space to back away and throw himself in the same direction he'd sent Winn.
The other man caught him and slammed his hand on a sensor next to the heavily fortified door. It scanned his palm and the door unlocked. Hartley pushed it open, and they both fled through it, just as the rest of the roof behind them caved in with a roar.
Inside, was Candyland.
All around them were various pieces of high-tech and/or alien equipment. Hartley could identify some of the human equipment that was being used to analyse or build the equipment, but some of it was new even to him. The least esoteric items on the tables were at least human in design, the kind of thing that Cisco might invent for Barry to use - or more likely, an organization like ARGUS could use to back up the Arrow. This was a place to study alien weaponry, and to invent devices to enhance humans, and make them into superheros.
Hartley was in love.
The door locked audibly behind them and Hartley turned to Winn. "Nice set up you've got here. I think we'll be safe here for now. I can't hear any more sounds of destruction, so I'm guessing that the crisis is over and the roof isn't going to cave in on our heads," he said. Then he paused.
Winn's eyes were wide and his breathing rapid, and not from the run. Hartley took a moment to reset his brain - right, Winn was probably scared for his friends. It wasn't like Hartley wasn't feeling the same way, but he tended to bury feelings like that until he was alone. Winn didn't seem to have his self control, or self-absorption.
He stepped closer and reached out. "Hey," he said in what he hoped was a kind tone. "We got out, and if we did, so did they." It was a platitude - some people were surely dead - but it wasn't a complete lie. These people seemed pretty competent. They would pull together and a lot of them would survive.
But Winn pulled away from his hand, hunching in on himself nervously, like he was afraid of Hartley's touch. "Right, yeah." He cleared his throat, continuing in an upbeat, but slightly manic, ramble. "Yeah, well this room is reinforced, and well, there's a lot of debris outside, so I guess we're stuck in here - and safe - for a while."
Hartley was left with his hand hovering in the air, feeling snubbed and foolish. Frowning, he let his hand drop. "Did I do something wrong?"
Winn was edging away, making for one of the work stations in the room. "What? Uh, no. No, why would you think that?"
Hartley watched him, his confusion struggling with a reactive anger that he didn't want to show. "I don't know, maybe because you're acting like you're locked in a room with a bear, and I don't see a bear, so it's got to be me."
Winn coloured. He sat down and picked up a pen, twiddling it in his fingers, avoiding Hartley's gaze. "I guess... Okay." He looked up and fixed Hartley with a penetrating look. "Yeah, you're right. I guess we'd better get it out in the open. So what did you do?"
"Huh?" Hartley stared, caught flat-footed by the nonsensical question. "What did I do when?"
Winn pointed his pen at Hartley. "That Nimbus guy, you said he was a hit man. What did you do?"
Oh. Ohhhh. "I'm a physicist."
Winn blinked in confusion. Despite everything, Hartley had the urge to laugh. The accusation was pretty much worth it for the look on Winn's face. Hartley knew - but didn't care - that he was grinning like a jerk as he dragged a rolling chair up to the workstation next to Winn's and straddled it backwards, resting his arms across the back of the chair.
"You're aware of how metahumans were created in our world?"
Winn nodded uncertainly. "Barry said like, it was a dark matter explosion."
"Correct. I used to work at STAR Labs with Cisco and Caitlin, which later was the source of the dark matter explosion. Shortly before the incident that created metahumans, I discovered a fault in the machinery, which I immediately deduced might cause an explosion in the particle accelerator when it was turned on. Of course, I went to my boss. He fired me on the spot, and blacklisted me from the entire scientific community. It turns out he had created the fault on purpose, because he was evil and wanted to create the Flash."
Winn's jaw was practically in his lap. Hartley continued, with great relish. "Currently, I consider myself to be a bit of an independent contractor. Yes, I work with the Rogues from time to time. I'm very good at hacking security systems. But I also help out the Flash when needed." He shrugged. "Winn, you seem like a good guy, but you don't really get the dynamic here, which isn't your fault. Things are not as simple as 'good' vs. 'evil' when it comes to this group."
The other man set his pen down, his earlier fear utterly gone. "What do you mean, 'the dynamic'?"
Hartley gestured towards the door. "Some of the Rogues are murderers, it's true. All of them are dangerous - and that includes myself, under the right circumstances, though I'm no killer. But Leonard Snart and his sister keep the others in line, and are... walking that grey area far more than the dark side these days. Especially now that Leonard has fallen head over heels for the Flash, and his Lisa has done the same with Cisco. Even Mick Rory is running around time and space saving the world these days." He spread his hands. "I know they don't want to think of themselves as heroes, and most of the rest of the Rogues are trash, but the leaders of the Rogues are far from the merciless monsters they'd like people to think they are. I wouldn't work with them if that weren't so."
Winn's expression was thoughtful. "Supergirl told us all about Barry and his friends. I met Barry when he came here, and he seemed like such a nice guy."
"He is," Hartley said wryly.
"I couldn't really understand why Barry would take up with a criminal organization," Winn confessed. "How the hell did he and this Leonard Snart character even get together?"
Hartley chuckled. "Well, that's a hell of a story. And I have the feeling there'll be time for me to tell it while we're stuck in here together, but now's probably not the time." He gestured towards the computer sitting at Winn's elbow. "First, maybe we should see how the rest of our friends are doing?"
Winn jumped, eyes widening. "Yeah, you're right. It had to be Supergirl who did it, but either she's accomplished what she was trying to achieve, or somehow she was driven off. At least the mainframe is buried deep underground, so it should still be up. I'll patch into the security systems and see if I can raise anyone on comms."
He typed rapidly while Hartley watched, considering their next move. With all the damage outside, they were probably trapped here for a long while. At least the zombies weren't going to be able to get past all the rocks or the heavy steel door.
"By the way," Winn said. "How did you know what was going to happen?" He shot Hartley a sidelong look, eyes narrowed with suspicion. Apparently he still wasn't completely certain that Hartley was on the up and up.
"I heard part of the building above collapsing," Hartley said frankly.
Winn turned to stare at him openly. "You did? I didn't hear anything until after you moved."
"That's my metahuman power. I have heightened hearing."
"Ohh... I thought you were a telekinetic or something," Winn said, eyes widening. "How did you move the rock if you can hear good?"
"Oh that." Hartley grinned and slipped off one of his sonic gloves, presenting it proudly to Winn. "For that, I used these."
Winn took the glove and examined it. "Woah... wait, do these use sonic technology?" He stared up at Hartley. "And your powers help you control it, right?"
Hartley was beaming. God, he was so cute, and not even dumb. He couldn't stand it. "Yes, that exactly." He wondered how Winn would react if Hartley stuck his tongue in his mouth right now.
"That's cool, man. You mind if I run it through my scanners later? I could probably find a dozen uses for tech like that."
"I wouldn't mind at all," said Hartley, effortlessly setting aside his usual protectiveness over his tech. Hartley normally jealously guarded every one of his inventions like a rabid dog. Each thing he invented was a possible ticket out of poverty, a patent waiting to be approved - which would transport him back into the life he'd lost when his parents disowned him. But hormones were a powerful motivator. "You're welcome to it."
"Thanks, bro." Beaming, Winn set the glove down again and turned back to the computer, apparently completely unaware that Hartley was melting like goo over him.
As much as Hartley was disappointed not to be the recipient of Winn's attentions any longer, he didn't object or try to turn the discussion back towards himself. If all that had gone on much longer, Hartley would probably have tried to kiss Winn, and that could go one of two ways - one of which was great, but neither of which would lead them to doing what they should be doing.
So he rested his chin on his clasped hands and watched Winn work, trying his best to convince himself that the warm feeling in the pit of his stomach wasn't reflected in his face.