by Doc Quantum and Martin Maenza
“It has been confirmed. The Others have left this sphere of existence.”
“Then they have left this universe in the hands of their pets — now, when the universe needs their guidance the most? This is unacceptable. Only further widespread Evil and Chaos can come from this decision.”
“The fact that the Multiversal Crisis was allowed to occur at all is the final proof of the Others’ failure. Their methods, as we have always known, could never work after Chaos and Entropy were brought into the world through the machinations of the Evil One.”
“The universe is doomed, then.”
“Speak your piece.”
“We can either look at this as assured destruction resulting from Evil and Chaos, or we can look upon this as an opportunity to implement our methods of Order over this chaotic universe. I remind you of the plans I drew up several millennia ago, shortly after the Separation. Only a few details need be altered.”
“That is a drastic measure.”
“Now may prove, however, to be our only chance to implement it. There comes a point when Entropy has had a hold far too long for it to be stopped or turned back. This decision must be made now.”
“And if we agree to this plan, this… reordering of the universe? Where shall our attention primarily be focused?”
“Why, upon the two planets which were the foci of the Multiversal Crisis, of course: Oa…”
In space, no one can hear you scream.
He learned that fact on the first day of his imprisonment. After straining his vocal cords to the point that they were raw, he stopped the futile effort and resigned himself to finding another alternative. That was many months ago.
Now, as a small cage composed of yellow energy floated through the void, a single figure hovered motionless within the box-like construct that Sinestro had trapped him in. The renegade then flung the cage into deep space. Four walls do not a prison make, the captive man often said. But in this instance, they did.
The man with handsome features and brown wavy hair that grayed at the temples slumbered, his eyes closed. But you couldn’t judge a book by its cover, he was known to say. The man wore not the face he was born with, but one he recently acquired. It was the face of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth and his hated enemy.
And with this face came a new name — Parallax. Before that, the man’s criminal identity was Black Hand. But by birth he was William Hand. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.
Jordan had opposed the man’s criminal schemes on many occasions; only after a stabbing in prison and a later return from the grave did the man seek vengeance against said enemy. (*) For it was the very energy of the Green Lanterns, that which kept him currently sustained, that had also prevented his prior death. The sheath of emerald energy kept his form in a state of suspended animation, allowing him to ignore the need for food or other things. This method seemed the best solution until his circumstances changed. And they were about to.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Pawns of the Power Pirate, Batman: Future Imperfect, Chapter 2: Playing Doubles, and Green Lantern: Enter Parallax.]
As a rather large spacecraft approached the energy cage, William Hand awoke from his long sleep. He had commanded the emerald energy he controlled to do so should any thing come close to the proximity of his uncontrolled flight. His eyes snapped open, focusing on the large ship as it came into view. “Hmm,” he said to himself. “Doesn’t look too inviting. But you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
He commanded his emerald energy to send up a warning flare of sorts in order to get the attention of the ship’s crew. But his hopes were quickly dashed, as the burst of power he created shattered against the sides of the yellow energy structure around him. “Damn weakness!” he cursed, referring to the impurities in the energy of the Green Lanterns that caused it not to work against anything of the color yellow. Had it not been for that weakness and Sinestro, Hand would have conquered Oa in order to destroy the Green Lantern and his precious Corps.
Still, much to his surprise, the craft began to slow as it approached. Large and rather impressive, it started to pass over Hand’s little prison and continued to move. It was easily large enough to blot out the light from the nearby solar body, and the dark shadow covered the energy cage quickly.
A section of the lower hull of the ship slid back, revealing an opening. Suddenly, a beam shot out from it, catching the yellow energy cage in its wake. William Hand found himself helplessly being drawn up into the bowels of the craft. “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” he reminded himself over and over. Sometimes, though, those quaint clichés just weren’t as comforting as he would like.
The cage was drawn into a pitch-black place. Hand tried to dispel the darkness with his emerald energy but could only light up the same prison he’d spent months in. Again, the yellow energy of the cage kept his power from expanding beyond the confines of the box.
He heard some scurrying in the darkness. There were also faint hissing sounds. He knew he wasn’t alone. “Who’s there?” Hand called out. “Hello?” No reply.
“Do you understand me?” he asked again. His experience with alien races was practically nil, but he hoped they — whoever they were — would have some means of translating languages. Aliens certainly seemed to do that all the time on Space Trek 2022. Still, it couldn’t hurt to make his non-threatening position clear. “Thank you… uh… for rescuing me. If there is anything I can do for you, I would be glad to do it. One good turn deserves another.”
“You ssshall…” a voice hissed from the darkness.
Hand was taken aback. He understood them. Could it have been the emerald energy of the Green Lanterns making it so he understood them? Had the power translated his words into their alien tongue? He wasn’t sure, but he was glad. “You understand me!” he exclaimed. “Wonderful! So, can you let me free of this infernal cage? You’re my ticket out of here, you know.”
“No,” the voice in the darkness said, a different one than the first. “We have need for your ssspecial physssiology.”
“What?” Hand asked in surprise. “What do you mean?“
There was no further verbal answer. Suddenly, from somewhere above him, Hand was hit by a burst of energy. It passed right through the yellow energy cage and nailed him squarely.
But the blast wasn’t meant to knock him down or stun him into silence. No, this blast was unlike any Hand had ever felt before. It surged through him, and every fiber of his being screamed out in anguish. It tore into him deeply. He felt as if his very life essence was being sheared from his body.
No, not his life essence — something else, something equally as precious — the emerald energy. They were draining the emerald energy that his body had absorbed months ago. They were robbing him of the prize he’d stolen from Green Lantern and his allies. They, whoever they were, had given him a taste of his own medicine.
You can dish it out, he thought to himself as he slumped to the floor, but you can’t take it. And with that, he passed out from exhaustion.
From the darkness, the voices began to confer. “Sssuccesss! Our tessst run easssily passsed expectationsss.”
“Good, then let usss put thisss one in the brig. We can ussse him for later experimentsss.”