Post by Hartley Rathaway on Feb 25, 2020 18:56:24 GMT -5
Participants: Hartley Rathaway + Kyle Rayner
Location(s): Keystone City, USA, Earth > Outer Space
Time of Day: Midmorning
Weather: Crisp, spring day
Summary: Piper tries to move on from the dark chapters of his recent life. Little does he know that that move will be outside of his galaxy.
The park was in the throes of spring. Even though there was a bite to the breeze, the plant life was bursting after a frigid winter. Hartley Rathaway wasn't the only one intent on making the most of the fair weather, and the stutter of voices mingled with birdsong in the air. He smiled faintly at a golden retriever within sight fetching a frisbee their owner threw, then looked back down at his lap.
The page of measures were completely empty. Hartley's hand, holding a pen loosely and dispiritedly, hovered over the first. His therapist had been urging him to try composing for weeks now. They had, according to Dr Thomas, made significant strides that Hartley ought to be proud of. And, though Piper could hardly go a full hour without being struck in the heart by the memory of his part in Inertia's death... That was progress. Before it'd been every ten seconds.
Months removed from the tragedy that he'd unwittingly made possible, and Hartley wondered if his soul would ever be the same. He didn't think he should ever, truly, move past his regret, penitence and mourning. But that despair had choked the life out of him for so long. Even serving his sentence - Hartley was convinced it'd been made light thanks to his ties with the superhero community, which still didn't sit right with him - hadn't alleviated the depression that had come about.
Three things had finally allowed Piper to breathe without every breath being a battle of his will to carry on. Therapy with Dr Thomas; the right daily anti-depressant; and complete abstinence from all things costumed. He hadn't donned his cloak a single time since turning himself over to authorities after Inertia's murder. Practically all of his sonic devices he'd dismantled or had put into storage in the basement of the Flash Museum. The only element he'd kept, honestly, was his flute, and that in itself was a spot of guilt and weakness, in his mind.
Still, for all of his strives mentally and emotionally, Hartley couldn't bring it in him to write a melody. He frowned at the empty page on his knee, tapping the tip of the ballpoint pen idly in the contours of the treble-clef. Biting on his bottom lip, he cautiously, carefully brought the stylus to the paper, about to jot down a single eighth note-
The air over the trail to his left shuddered and split. The way it did was unnervingly familiar to him, dredging up old, painful memories. But something was off. It was similar to the way he'd been whisked to Apokolips but... Different? Clumsy. Disorganized. Hartley lurched instinctively away from the portal even before it was done manifesting. One hand pawed at his jacket and the instrument tucked in an inner pocket there. Beings - big, mostly human, but definitely not and densely muscled - lumbered through the hole in space.
"See," one scoffed to the two behind them, "told you I had the coordinates right. Now, get him." From the still-shaking portal, a swarm of what Hartley knew to be parademons flooded out. Just like the phenomenon that spewed them, though, there was something off about them. Hartley was just lifting his flute to his lips when one of the three hulking figures sent it skidding from his grip with an energized bolt from a hi-tech blaster.