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WATERMARKED: The Flash Crossover Crisis
Credit: Abrams

The following is an excerpt from author Barry Lyga’s The Flash: Green Arrow’s Perfect Shot, the first book in the Crossover Crisis trilogy. (Subsequent books will follow Supergirl, Superman, and the heroes from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.) When the Green Arrow needs help tracking down a sinister bomber in Star City, speedster Barry Allen is out the door in a flash. But as the Flash saves the day with his friends on Team Arrow, a huge dimensional rift appears over his hometown of Central City — and thousands of refugees with superspeed come pouring out.

Check out the cover, exclusive to EW, above. Green Arrow’s Perfect Shot publishes Aug. 13 and is available for pre-order.

OLIVER PERCHED HIGH ATOP THE Aparo Tower, roughly a block away from the barricaded no-man’s-land that had once been the Glades. Star City had the beauty of a cobra. It was deadly and hypnotic all at once, and he had to admit that he wouldn’t have it any other way. He liked his city somewhat mysterious—he just wanted it to be better and more fair at the same time.

He’d grown up here, the wealthy scion of the city’s leading family. He knew best the shining tops of towers and the mansions of the most exclusive districts, but he loved every inch of Star City, from the broken sidewalks to the highest penthouses. That the city still hadn’t rebuilt after the devastation of the Glades was a source of shame for him, though he knew too well the niggling practicalities that had kept the construction equipment from moving in. There were zoning ordinances and contract bids to sort through, architectural details and city planning standards . . . He was wealthy and politically connected, and he’d been pushing as hard as he could to rebuild the city, but some things took their own time.

Not every problem could be solved with a mask, a voice modulator, and an arrow through the center of the bull’s-eye.

More’s the pity, he thought, turning his attention away from the Glades and to the buildings nearby.

He’d chosen the rooftop of the Aparo Tower not because it was the tallest building in the vicinity—it wasn’t—but rather because it was the perfect vantage point from which to observe the four buildings Felicity had identified as the most likely targets for their serial bomber. He had his team staked out closer to each individual building. Spartan, his former bodyguard and right-hand man, John Diggle, was watching one, while Wild Dog, Rene Ramirez, street-scrapper extraordinaire, was parked a block up from the second building on his motorcycle, ready to roll. Mr. Terrific— Curtis Holt—was monitoring the third building with his incredibly high-tech T-spheres, and Black Canary—Dinah Drake, possessor of the fierce Canary Cry—had eyes on the fourth building.

For himself, Oliver had chosen the angel seat, the overarching holistic position. He could see all four buildings and have his team move at a moment’s notice.

Bird’s-eye view whenever possible, his frenemy and mentor Slade Wilson had taught him. All the better to swoop down on your enemies.

Oliver sighed. He’d been all about swooping down on his enemies once. He’d had a list of people who’d done wrong, and he had been determined to go down that list one by one and eliminate each of them from the face of the earth. But now he was more interested in justice than vengeance. It wasn’t about retribution anymore. If he had to let the bad guy go in order to save lives, so be it.

Better to do both, though, right?

The sun had set about twenty minutes ago, and Star City was steeped in early autumn darkness. It was chilly up here on the rooftop, but the thermal layers in his Green Arrow costume kept him warm, preventing his muscles from locking up, keeping him limber. He resisted the urge to check the time. Barry had promised he would be here, and looking at the time every thirty seconds wasn’t going to get him here any faster.

Off in the distance, a burst of light flickered for an instant on the horizon. Lightning? He glanced up at the sky. It was a clear night. No rain in the forecast. That meant . . .

“Hey, Oliver!”

He spun around, fighting every instinct in his body to nock an arrow. There on the rooftop stood none other than Barry Allen, the Flash. Sparks of electricity still winkled in the air around him, coruscating tidbits of lightning from the channeling of the mysterious Speed Force.

“Took you long enough to get here,” Oliver said. “And remember: code names. We’re in the field.”

Barry looked around. “Riiiiiight. Because someone might be wandering around on the rooftop and overhear me.”

Oliver grunted.

“And I’m not late. I’m right on time.” He tapped the left side of his mask, and Oliver imagined him receiving some sort of information feed. “Oh. OK, so I’m late. Oops. Sorry. There’s drama back home.”

“When is there not?”

Barry came over to Oliver’s side, standing tall and obvious in his bright red-and-yellow suit. Oliver gritted his teeth. “Could you not be so . . . overt?”

As though he’d just realized, Barry looked down at Oliver. “Have you even moved in the last few hours?” Barry asked. “Because deep vein thrombosis is a thing, Oliver. I worry about you, always crouching on rooftops.”

“We’ve identified four possible targets,” Oliver told him, ignoring the medical advice. He pointed out the buildings. “There, there, there, and there. We think the bomber will go after one of them.”

“With something like this, you mean?” Barry asked innocently, holding out a rather sophisticated explosive device.

Oliver blinked. He was constantly caught off guard by Barry’s speed. He knew the Flash was fast. He knew Barry Allen could race lightning bolts and win, could flick on a light switch and then unscrew the bulb before it turned on. But knowing that and seeing it in action were two separate things, and as much as he would never admit it to Barry, it was often pretty unnerving to witness the fruits of that incredible speed.

“You found that . . .” he began.

“In the fourth building,” Barry admitted. “It’s always the last place you look, am I right?” He hefted the device. “This thing is impressive, I have to say. I’ve disarmed a lot of explosives in my days with CCPD, but this one is special. Redundant kill switches tied in to multiple redundant signaling paths . . . And some really expertly applied fake wires that go nowhere and do nothing, but look like they do something.”

“To slow down a Bomb Disposal Unit,” Oliver said. “Making it less likely someone could disarm the thing before it went off.”

“It did slow me down,” Barry said, handing the thing over. “It took me an extra tenth of a second to disarm it. Good thing I’m a cop and a speedster, right?”

Oliver accepted the bomb, holding it somewhat gingerly. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Barry’s skills—it was just that the thing was still a bomb, deactivated or not. He looked down at it. This device—more accurately, ones just like it— had taken down three buildings in his city. Caused untold property damage. Spiked the fear of an entire city.

He was impressed by what Barry had done, but that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was what came next. “Did you disturb the scene at all?” he demanded. Barry was fast, but sometimes sloppy. All that speed made little things like caution, delicacy, and precision seem trivial. “We need evidence if we’re going to track this guy down and put him away for good.”

Under his cowl, Barry’s expression was offended. “What did I just say? I’m a cop.” He held up his other hand, producing a standard-issue CSI evidence collection kit. The seal was broken, meaning he’d opened it up and used what was inside. “While I was grabbing the bomb, I also took the liberty of dusting for prints and collecting soil and fiber samples. I also cordoned off the room so that you can go through it and take pictures.” He frowned. “I move so fast that cameras can’t keep up. Speed of light isn’t fast enough, you know? Anyway, I basically did a complete evidence workup on the scene for you.”

Oliver accepted the evidence kit and signaled Mr. Terrific and Spartan to move in on the building in question to take photos and do a secondary evidence sweep. “You make it too easy sometimes,” he mock-complained to Barry.

Barry grinned. “Nah. It should be easy.”

Despite himself, Oliver grinned back. All the tension and built-up anxiety that had tautened his entire body bled out of him. He stood, tucked the bomb and evidence kit under one arm, and offered his hand to the Flash. “Thanks, Barry.” Blessed relief flooded in, replacing the fleeing dread. There would be no explosion tonight. No wreckage and debris. No more fear toxins dumped into the city like fertilizer into a garden of terror.

Pumping Oliver’s hand, Barry widened his smile. “No problem. Always glad to help out, like last year, that thing with Ricardo Diaz.”

Oliver nodded knowingly. Ricardo Diaz had been a drug lord and crime boss who’d targeted Star City for a takeover. Fortunately, Barry had wrapped up his own difficulties with the Thinker in time to run over from Central City and lend a hand.

“That could have played out much differently,” Oliver acknowledged. “I might have even ended up in jail. Thanks for your help then and now.”

“That’s what friends are . . .” Barry stiffened and put a hand to his right earpiece. “What did you say?” he asked.

Oliver watched his friend’s expression. Even with the concealment of the mask, there was still enough of Barry’s face exposed that he could read the worry that crawled there. The Flash costume also didn’t hide the eyes, and those eyes were now staring into the distance, jittering back and forth in distress. Someone at S.T.A.R. Labs was giving Barry either very bad or very shocking news. Maybe both.

“Oliver,” Barry said, his voice, trembling, “I have to—”

“Go,” Oliver commanded, and the syllable hadn’t even left his mouth when a blast of wind and a crackle of electricity erupted all around him.

He spun around and watched the Flash’s lightning trail blaze down the side of the Aparo Tower and then up Jerome Boulevard, heading east. Central City was six hundred miles away, but Oliver knew that by the time he finished inhaling his latest breath, Barry Allen would be more than halfway home.