Star City - 1921
Mary James was the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen. Her smile was as bright as the sun, her face the visage of Helen herself. That was how Al Pratt saw her. How she saw him, well, she didn't seem to. At barely over five feet tall and only ninety-eight pounds or so, Al Pratt was easy to miss. Even at the Kelvin Institute of Inquiry, the most prestigious college in the world, Al Pratt somehow managed to disappear into a crowd. The professors always knew that he was brilliant, but Terry Curtis always managed to grab everyone's attention.
So, Al Pratt sat under a tree and ate an apple while reading physics. He didn't mind being lost in the shuffle of the busy college, but he would have liked to be noticed by Mary James, just once. On his way back to his dorm, Al spotted a flier that was being whipped around by the wind. He managed to catch it and smoothed it out so he could read it.
"Learn to box," it read. "Joe Morgan can turn you into more of a man."
Al read the flier and thought of Mary James. There were very few moments throughout the day that he didn't. He folded up the flier and slid it into his book on physics. Besides, it would be nice to learn one skill that Terry Curtis didn't have, he thought.
That weekend, Al Pratt took the boxcar into the city and found Joe Morgan's gym. It was in an old, seedy part of town. There were rough sorts of men who lurked about in the alley where the door to the gym was located. Al started to get worried about being robbed. He hurried as quickly through he alley as he could and rushed through the door of the gym.
When he blundered into the gym, nearly falling on his face as he did so, Al Pratt noticed that everyone was staring at him. The gym wasn't much. It was small and hot, there was a shoddy, old ring in the center and some equipment placed haphazardly around.
Joe Morgan looked at the scrawny shrimp that stumbled through his door and let out a deep breath. "I imagine you're hear to learn how to fight," he said. "Well, I can teach you."
Al smiled. "Really?"
"Pay your dues and I'll teach you how to throw a punch," Joe Morgan said.
"Grab a locker, kid." Joe Morgan spit some chewing tobacco into a metal bucket that sat next to the ring. He watched with amusement as the kid stumbled his way through the gym, towards the lockers, looking like he was lost in the woods.
When Al reached the lockers there was another young man, about his age, taping up his fists. He was big and naturally athletic, but looked sort of rough and wild. Al opened the locker next to the other guy's and started putting his books inside.
"Physics, huh?" the young man said, eyeing his books.
"Yeah," Al replied nervously. "I study at Kelvin, here in Star City."
The young man nodded and finished taping up his fists. "What's your name?"
"I'm Al Pratt."
The rough, young man extended his hand out to Al. "Ted Grant."
S.T.A.R. Labs, Central City
Alan Scott had just finished his first design. It was bold, it was brilliant, it was nearly impossible to build. Scott knew it. They said that Central City was the city of miracles. Scott was banking on that being true with this design. He stood at his desk, hands on his hips and pencil tucked behind his ear, and stared down at the blueprints and design sheets. He would have to offer the pitch to end all pitches for them to even try to produce a prototype of this thing.
So deep in thought, Scott didn't even hear Jay Garrick come into his office. Garrick knocked on the wall, a wide smile on his face. "Am I interrupting?"
Scott looked over at Garrick, finally noticing him and laughed. "Not at all," Scott said. "It's done, but they're not going to like it."
"No. They'll love it." Garrick walked over and looked over the blueprints and designs himself. "You certainly aren't going to make it easy on them."
"Or cheap," Scott said with a chuckle. "It'll cost a pretty penny, that I can tell you."
"It'll be worth it," Garrick said. "The Blackhawk Squadron will be most advanced air combat fighters in the world."
"I thought the Great War was the war to end all wars," Scott said as he walked over to his office window. He sat on the sill and relaxed as the cool breeze flowed in. "We're supposed to have a century of peace now. Yet, here I am, designing advanced fighting machines to reign death on the world."
"That's what Ferris wants."
Jay Garrick set the blueprints down and looked over at Scott. "The military doesn't want another Red Baron situation, nor does Carol Ferris. Her father was shot down and killed by him after all. The crazy old man shouldn't have even being flying in that war, but he was a hell of a pilot and engineer and his country needed him. War isn't going to end, Alan. The next one will be coming right around the corner. Probably sooner than we think. It's a brilliant design."
"Thanks," Scott said with barely half a heart.
Garrick grinned and slid a hand into his pocket. "Perhaps you would rather be working with heavy water and quantum mechanics."
"No thanks," Scott replied. "I'd prefer to keep to things I can actually understand. I like concrete mathematics."
"Speaking of which," Garrick said with a snap of his fingers. "There is a list of potential recruits I want you to take a look at. There is some real possibility out there and I want your opinion on it. I want this to be the absolute center of scientific and technological innovation. I want S.T.A.R. Labs to be something truly special."
"Then you shouldn't have hired me," Scott chuckled.
Garrick smiled and nodded. "Probably. I thought you were going down to Fawcett City this weekend."
"I wanted to finish up my work so I could take a few extra days off," Scott explained.
"Good. Give your father our best wishes." Garrick took one more look at the designs and smiled. "Brilliant," he said before quickly walking out of Scott's office.
Alan Scott wasn't so sure, but he was always one for self doubt. That afternoon, he went home and packed his suitcase. He was going to take the night train down to Fawcett City and be there by morning when his father got up. He planned to sleep on the train. After a shower and a change of clothes, he took a cab to the train station and boarded the train heading to Fawcett City. It was already getting dark when he got on. It was times like this, when everything is going great that the world likes to throw a curveball. Well, fate had one hell of a curveball in store for Alan Scott on that train.