Tyler was running out of time.
Underneath the statue of the gigantic hero Talos he stood, his enchanted helm under an arm.
He’d come up empty investigating the sudden disappearance of a young woman named Jemma Williams. Her mother believed she had been recruited into the Carnival of Shadows.
It wasn’t terribly hard to believe. She was young, beautiful and came from old money. Exactly the type the Carnival takes an interest in. But Tyler had retraced her steps over the last few days up until she went missing and there were no clues whatsoever. He’d spoken with her roommates and friends. All dead ends.
He didn’t want to do it but he was running out of options. He prayed to the gods for help. And they answered.
Well, he answered.
In a flash of smoke and lightning, he appeared. The Olympian gods loved assuming different forms on Earth. Eons ago, animals were all the rage. They’d moved on to humans over the last thousand years. Wearing a pristine dark suit and expensive-looking shoes, he appeared as a handsome man in his fifties, with black hair, greying at the temples and a salt-and-pepper ducktail beard.
Tyler possessed something of a contentious relationship with Hermes, messenger of the gods. While it was true he was responsible for empowering Tyler with his superhuman speed, he did so under false pretenses.
When he stopped a group of thugs from looting and desecrating a Grecian temple, Tyler was beaten half to death before Hermes intervened, imbuing him with a portion of his speed for his bravery. He served as his herald for a time, carrying out his interests on Earth before he discovered Hermes had tricked him and the entire thing had been an elaborate ruse, the result of a frivolous bet between Hermes and Dionysus, the god of wine. Afterwards, Tyler severed his relationship with Hermes, only ever interacting or calling upon him in the most dire of circumstances. This was one of those moments.
Tyler sighed deeply. “I need help.”
“I’m fairly certain I remember you claiming you didn’t need my help anymore now that you’ve got new superfriends...” Hermes replied smugly.
“Don’t twist my words!” Tyler shouted, pointing a finger at the god. Hermes snapped his fingers and poof, in a cloud of smoke, a chair appeared out of thin air, hitting Tyler in the back of the knees and seating him.
“Easy now, little runner...” Hermes cautioned. “I already know what you’re going to ask and... Has it occurred to you that maybe the girl ran off and joined the Carnival under her own free will?”
“No one in their right mind would actually give up their soul just to party.”
“Clearly you’ve never been to one of theirs.” he retorted.
“It doesn’t matter. I just need to find-.”
“Wait.” Hermes interrupted, craning his neck towards the sky as if he’d heard something far off into the distance. He snapped his fingers and a pane of glass appeared in his hands. He held it in front of him so Tyler could peer through it like a window. Tyler watched as a decadent celebration raged in a dark and gloomy warehouse. And then he saw her - Jemma, dancing wildly and surrounded by admirers. He recognized her from a photo her mother had shown him.
“That’s her. Where is this?” Tyler questioned impatiently.
There was a flicker of light before the pane of glass became foggy. Hermes shook it vigorously and it cleared, but the scene had changed. Now, it showed the inside of what appeared to be a bank vault. A costumed man was emptying safe deposit boxes at superspeed.
“Oops. It appears as if you’re needed elsewhere, unfortunately.” Hermes pouted sarcastically.
Tyler sighed loudly. More of Hermes’ games. He took a deep breath before sprinting away.
Three Seconds Later...
At Paragon City Bank in Founders Falls.
Virgil Bowers, also known as Getaway, was a small-time criminal with a rap sheet as long as he was tall. Tyler put him away more times than he could count but when he went his separate way and joined The Neverenders, Hermes blessed Bowers with superspeed out of spite, and pitted him against Tyler to “keep him on his toes”.
Tyler arrived at the vault just as Getaway was finishing emptying it. He didn’t bother being subtle.
“I don’t have the time for this, so...”
Bowers groaned without turning around. “Don’t worry...” he replied, zipping up one last duffel bag. “I was just leaving!”
His black-and-white checkered suit became a blur as he pushed past Tyler. The doors flew off their hinges and glass shattered as Getaway sprinted out of the bank. Tyler sighed and followed suit.
They raced at superspeed, the rest of the world appearing as if it were frozen in time. Getaway zigzagged through Founders, running through traffic and leaving scorch marks on the pavement in his wake. “Keep up, champ!” He shouted over his shoulder. The superhumanly fast thief hopped over cars as he crossed into oncoming traffic.
Onlookers on the sidewalks were left stunned as gusts of wind knocked them and their belongings over.
“Was that Johnny Turbo?”
Tyler caught up to Getaway, an arm's length away from catching him. He grabbed at the duffel bag slung across the villain’s shoulder and pulled hard. It split at the seams, the contents spilling out as thousands of hundred dollar bills hung in the air, frozen in time.
Getaway looked back over his shoulder at the thousands of dollars lost trailing behind them and groaned in frustration. He took a hard right and Tyler was unable to follow suit, his momentum carrying him forward. Looking to his right he could see Bowers through the alleyways and streets they both passed as he matched his speed. At the end of the block both speedsters leapt into one of the canals that snaked its way through Founders Falls. They were both fast enough to beat the time it takes the surface tension of liquid to break, allowing them to run on water.
Water splashed at their heels as they raced over one of the canals, crossing onto the street again. Getaway swerved right, splitting away from Tyler around a building. Tyler however charted a different path. Focusing his power, he began vibrating his molecules at an atomic level. He charged forward as he became completely intangible, phasing through the building and intercepting Bowers before he even had time to realize what had just happened. Tyler shoulder-checking him at four hundred miles per hour sent Getaway careening and smashing into a parked car. Tyler skidded to a stop over the unconscious and prone form of his rival. Just as he did so there was a poof of smoke and a scroll of paper appeared out of thin air. Tyler plucked it out of the air and unfurled it. Scribbled on it was an address and a message from Hermès.
“Well done, little runner.”
Tyler sighed in frustration before dashing away.