'I'm the fastest man alive' Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver thinks to himself as he darts about, colors blur as he speeds by. He boasts that he is faster than a cheetah, quicker than a bullet and swifter than a speeding train, and tells himself that the number nerds – the statistic-clockers who think like stopwatches and flow charts – they talk about Spectrum or the Silver Surfer, they look at the mach factors and distances, they focus on the math. They think being seven feet tall is the same as being good at basketball. They think moving quickly is the same as being fast – but it's not. Pietro notes that measuring in miles per hour, a passenger jet travels three times faster than a race car, and yet the race car rattles your insides, while the jet just lulls you to sleep. He admits that Spectrum and the Surfer move quickly, but they don't live speed – they fly, but they don't know how to run. Fastest isn't just about the 50-yard dash, it isn't about who can make it around the world first – fastest isn't just about the numbers. It's about how you see. How you think. How you breathe.
Quicksilver admits that the numbers do matter, and notes that the richest person on Earth is worth one hundred billion dollars – but the words “one hundred billion” don't explain anything. The numerals 100,000,000,000,000 – all those zeroes do little better. The way that Quicksilver understands one hundred billion is different. He thinks of his father, a poor man who scraped a living in a world that hated him – his hands were cracked and swollen. He worked hard, breaking his back every day for fifty years – eighteen thousand days of never being allowed to be sick, of never seeing his family – he would not have earned what the richest man in the world makes in ten minutes, or in a coffee break. But to imagine that with speed, imagine a heart and a mind and hands and eyes that move with the swiftness of such inconceivable numbers. That is how people can understand who Quicksilver is, and understand what it means when he runs.
Quicksilver slows down enough so that colors take form – a group of civilians that he races past, before he speeds up again and the colors blur around him as he thinks that he has run for a hundred reasons, and been called a hero and a villain. He remembers serving as an Avenger and battling the X-Men, working as a terrorist and a government agent – but now, he is running to save the world – following this strange blue streak of energy that moves ever quicker than him. Quicksilver knows that two cosmic-level madmen are threatening the Earth in some sick game, and most of the planet's heroes are trapped, so to free them, to save the world, he is trying to catch this ghostly blue orb that is keeping them prisoner. Pietro thinks of his sister, Wanda, a witch who is using her magic to make him faster. He has never run like this before – he feels like he is being torn to shreds, but that doesn't matter. This beacon, the thing keeping hope from their world, is in his grasp – he only has one chance – he urges on and grabs the blue energy.
It almost kills him, but Quicksilver holds onto the beacon, then slams it to the ground, destroying it. He falls to the ground himself, exhausted. 'I did it!' Quicksilver calls out as he gets to his feet. 'No don't everybody...thank me at once? Quicksilver jokes, looking around he discovers that everyone nearby is frozen. He speeds around the country – everyone in the whole country is frozen. Worse. The whole world. Quicksilver comes to a stop, everyone else is frozen in time, stuck mid-moment, and wonders if he caused this when he shattered the orb. He looks at someone nearby and decides that they haven't become stuck in time – he has become unstuck, ripped loose from normal time. He frowns as he realizes that he has saved the world, but now it will go on without him. He hangs his head as he tells himself that he is fast enough to get away from anything that can hurt him – but he is always leaving people behind. Story of his life.
Quicksilver decides that he is a breathing man in a world of mannequins, that he is living in a horror film, before wondering if there is room for some comedy.
He smirks as he races into a costume shop, then speeds out of it, all the way to Madripoor, where he finds Magneto and dresses him up like a clown. 'Smile, Magneto!' Quicksilver exclaims as he poses next to the Master of Magnetism and takes a selfie on his cell phone.
He speeds into an art supply store and emerges with two large pieces of card. He finds Rogue and Johnny Storm the Human Torch, and places the card in their hands, the one Johnny holds reads “I am w/” and the one in Rogue's hands has an arrow pointing at the Torch and “Stupid”. 'Fire me from the Avengers...' Quicksilver mutters as he takes a photo of the two, admitting to himself that he is a petty man, and for a while he finds great amusement in mocking the people who annoy him – but nothing can change how alone he is, and nothing is funny for very long if no one else laughs.
Quicksilver tries to run from the loneliness, but questions chase him – how did this happen? What even happened? Is he still moving forward in time? Is he even really alive now? How does he fix this? But however fast his feet, his mind is too slow. He is not Stark or Richards, he doesn't have any super-genius solutions. So he just keeps running – it's what he does when he doesn't know what else to do. Quicksilver times himself running the Great Wall of China – but the frozen wall-walkers only make him feel more alone. He tries to watch the Northern Lights, but their strange stillness makes him feel sick. He holds a cup of coffee in his hands and looks down at the ground, before continuing on to the most crowded places on Earth, desperate for the press of humanity – but wherever he goes, no matter how many people surround him, it is really just him there. Alone.
Suddenly, Pietro looks up when he hears a strange hissing or crackling sound, and he is reminded that there are worse things than being alone. He races off the statue he is sitting on and notes that the sound isn't human, but there is no mistake that it is coming from a living thing – which means he isn't alone here. He notices a strange green streak of energy dart about and wonders who – or what – is here with him. 'My God' Pietro utters as the energy takes a humanoid-like energy form. 'What in the hell is that?' Pietro gasps as he leaps onto an outdoor table to get a closer look at the energy form – which looks like him!
Quicksilver realizes that whatever this thing is, it is trying to kill someone – he has done this job long enough to recognize that. He darts between the energy form and the frozen civilian, and challenges the strange being to combat, knocking it back from the civilian, Quicksilver tries to grab the strange being by its throat, but he isn't able to hold it, and the green energy being speeds away, into the air and over the top of a nearby building. Quicksilver follows, he doesn't know what this thing is, or where it came from. He catches up to it, and slams his fist into the creature's face, and as they race across Liberty Island, Quicksilver decides that it looks like a picture of himself drawn by an angry child. It is as fast as Quicksilver is, and its fists feel like lightning as it strikes Quicksilver in the face. It fights as hard as Quicksilver does, too. Quicksilver wants to quit, but he can't.
They race onward, it isn't like battling a man, it is like fighting a fire – every time Quicksilver smothers some part of it, another ignites. He should be exhausted, he should fall down dead – but the burning surge inside him is hotter than fire. They come to a stop on a beach, the energy form has several holes in it where Quicksilver has punched it. Quicksilver strikes the creature again, and a blackness pours out of the holes. The spark at the center of Quicksilver's soul, the arcing electricity in his blood has never let him sit still – it drives him – and in the end, that is enough, as he drags the energy form down to the water and punches it repeatedly. As the form begins to disintegrate, Quicksilver tells it that is what it gets for copying his face. 'You... whatever the hell you are'. As he watches the creature disappear, Pietro is pleased that he has saved a life – it feels good to win, and he relishes it.
Quicksilver speeds back to the make sure the monster's would-be victim is safe. 'Well, you look okay enough, whoever you -' Quicksilver begins as he stops by the would-be victim – only to look shocked, staring at the random stranger that he has saved from the monster that almost looks like him – he is not a stranger – but the guy he used to get his coffee from. Quicksilver speeds on – a monster that half looks like him trying to kill someone he half knows – he doesn't believe this is a coincidence, but he can't figure out what it means. What matters is that he saved this guy, saved him with his speed. 'I'm the fastest man on Earth. But... what if... that's not fast enough?' Quicksilver thinks to himself as he speeds up the side of a tall building, and looks out over the city, where he sees colored streaks of blue, pink and yellow racing about across the city....