by Doc Quantum, Martin Maenza and Starsky Hutch 76
June 8th, 1987:
The Green Lantern Citadel was designed nearly two years earlier by architect John Stewart, who just happened to have been Earth’s second Green Lantern. Since the Crisis on Infinite Earths, however, the Earth had regained its original Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, as well as gaining seven others: Katma Tui, Arisia, Salaak, Ch’p, and Kilowog were the first to join the two human Green Lanterns as the Earth-bound Green Lantern Corps. Guy Gardner made his way to Earth alone after a humiliating (to his mind) but brief run as one of Oa’s Honor Guard, becoming Earth’s eighth official Green Lantern despite his gaining the power long before the extraterrestrial Green Lanterns had arrived. After Ch’p was seen disappearing into an other-dimensional wormhole after his friend and one-time enemy, Dr. Ub’x, the number was reduced by one. (*) Ch’p was replaced, so to speak, by Driq, who became Earth’s ninth official Green Lantern almost a year after Ch’p’s disappearance. (*) There were rumors about still another Green Lantern on Earth — a strange, dog-like extraterrestrial named G’nort, who did not seem to have the intelligence required to operate the ring, much less protect a space sector, but as there was no record of anyone by that name in the Green Lantern Corps, his power source was still a mystery.
The Citadel was the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps of space sectors 2814 and 2815, the latter being the sector still protected by Arisia, despite her residence in the somewhat busier sector 2814. The space sectors seemingly abandoned by the other members of the Earth-bound Green Lantern Corps were actually also protected by Green Lanterns of neighboring sectors; as the Guardians had said when they decided to leave this continuum, “We now abolish our requirement that each Green Lantern guard a particular sector of space! Such a system guarantees that a Green Lantern will always be near a potential problem — but also leaves some Green Lanterns as little more than caretakers a great deal of the time!”
Why were there so many Green Lanterns in one sector, on one planet? It was as the Guardians said once again: “We were born ten billion years ago, and after five billion years we took the evolutionary step to immortality! It is now near to five billion years since your solar system was born — and it is the peoples of Earth, out of all the peoples in this universe, who will next take that step! Glory awaits you within a millennium, so Earth must be protected at all costs!” It was understandable that other Green Lanterns would be interested in protecting such a legacy, especially those who had either lost their world or had a particularly dull sector, and thus the Green Lantern Corps of Earth was born.
Now within the Green Lantern Citadel, situated outside the city of Los Angeles, California, on the West Coast of the continent known as North America, six of the eight official Green Lanterns on Earth — Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Katma Tui, Kilowog, Salaak, and Driq — congregated around a meeting table on this rainy Monday night. It was unusually quiet around the world for this time of year, and none of the alarms had alerted them to any situation that required their assistance. And so, the Green Lantern Corps of Earth did what many others did on rainy nights.
John frowned in thought as he and Katma went over in their minds the many coordinates found in the three-dimensional cube construct before them. “Uh… G-4-H?”
The room was silent for a moment. Finally, Salaak grumbled, “You sunk my battleship.”
“Ha!” John laughed. “Two down, one to go.”
“Ya won’t find me ‘n Driq’s battleship so easy ta sink, Stewart,” said Kilowog.
“We’ll just see about that. I used to kick ass at this game when I was a kid, though the two-D version’s admittedly quite a bit simpler.”
“Hal, is Arisia coming tonight?” asked Katma.
“No, she told me she was planning on visiting a friend tonight.”
“Really? Which friend is that?“
“Oh, probably one of her Titans West teammates. She didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask.” Hal chuckled to himself. “If I’d known I’d just get trounced by John in a game of 3-D Battleship tonight, I’m not sure I would’ve come, either.”
“I think it’s good to gather occasionally simply for our mutual pleasure,” said Katma, “instead of gathering only when there is a mission to perform. We need times like this to build friendship and trust amongst us, especially when we so seldom see each other any longer. Arisia’s been very busy with her Titans West team, Kilowog’s made a second home for himself in Russia, you’ve got your secret identity and job at Ferris Aircraft, and John and I have been so busy with space missions of late. I suppose it’s only natural that we go our separate ways to a certain degree, but nights like this one serve to remind us of our common friendship as few other things do.”
“Well said as always, pretty lady,” John said, his concentration no longer on the game.
The rain continued to pour as Salaak stepped outside. The rain, so rare on his own world, nevertheless did not bother him in the least. It was one of the many things he had to adapt to on this strange planet he had adopted as his home. At the thought of this, though, a pang of longing went through him. His own people were so very far away from him right now. Even though his race was not a social one, Salaak had gained an appreciation for company through his association with his fellow Lanterns, and he wished to be back home to share company with those who could truly understand him. He realized that it was nearing the mating time, when the male and female of his race would join together and produce the next generation. He knew he would have to say goodbye to his allies on Earth sometime soon. But he felt as if he had unfinished business to attend to here first.
“Ch’p, where in the many dimensions of existence are you?” he said finally, voicing his thoughts. It was Ch’p who had almost taunted him into joining the others on Earth. It was Ch’p who had irritated him from the first moment he met him. And it was Ch’p who first taught him what friendship meant. At a scurrying sound from just behind him, Salaak turned his long, oval-shaped head and jumped back in shock.
“Well, don’t just stand there, you big pickle-head — aren’t you gonna say something?”
Salaak looked at the furry creature below him on the ground. It was indeed his long-gone furry friend, dressed in green overalls and looking different, yet somehow the same, than when he had disappeared. He remained speechless, a characteristically cynical remark catching in his throat.
“Yep. I’m back!“
And Salaak did what Ch’p had never expected him ever to do: he picked him up and hugged him in human fashion with his four arms without saying a word. Then he put him back down and said awkwardly, “Well, I was merely ensuring that it was indeed you and not some metaphysical construct sent here by one of our enemies in order to–“
“Oh stuff it, ya big flunx! I know you missed me!”
“I don’t miss anyone,” grumbled Salaak. “I chose to join this group merely because it served my interests at the time.”
“Oh, pooh!” Ch’p said, already hovering toward the Citadel door. He swung it open and raced in as fast as possible to the meeting room, and shouted, “Hi, biggies!”
“Ch’p!” the others shouted in unison as they ran up to welcome him back. And on this rainy Monday evening in June, the six other members of the Green Lantern Corps of Earth present at the Citadel abandoned their games and listened as Ch’p described in great detail all the adventures he and Dr. Ub’x had taken part in, and of the Crisis of Infinite Animals in a world somewhat like Earth but populated by creatures like Ch’p. But those stories were for another time and another place.
Not far away from the Green Lantern Citadel, just into downtown Los Angeles and in one of the suites at the top floors of a tall building, the aforementioned Arisia sat alone in her room. Lying on her bed in just a long T-shirt and panties, the golden-skinned alien giggled.
“No, you hang up first,” she said into the phone.
On the other end of the phone, at the home he was staying at in Texas, a brown-haired young man sat at a desk. “Honey, you know I will,” young Hal Jordan said. Like his namesake cousin, who was the heroic Green Lantern, this Hal too had a costumed identity. He carried on the tradition of his father Larry Jordan as the hero Air Wave.
“You’re no fun, Hal,” Arisia said, jokingly.
“It’s getting late, and I have to get up early in the morning,” he said.
“I still wish you’d, like, come with me to Hawaii when we go,” she said, fiddling with the hanging phone cord. “That would be way cool.”
“I wish I could, too, but you know I can’t. With finals coming up then, I’m so close to graduation. I’m going to do it this time.” Last year, an alien invasion that he helped fend off as Air Wave had cost him a good portion of time held captive by the villainous Sonar. (*) That had made Hal miss the latter portion of his senior year of high school, which was why he was back in Dallas, anyway — to finish getting his diploma. “Just gotta get through this month, and then we’ll have all this time together. I promise.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors, Chapter 3: Battleground Australia and Titans West: Sound Decisions.]
Arisia reached for a teddybear, one that Hal had won for her last month at a carnival when she visited. “OK,” she said. “I’ll just like take Mr. Cuddles instead and hold him at night, thinking of you.”
“Cindy,” Hal said, calling her by her other identity name just in case the Petersons were overhearing his conversation, “I really need to go. Have a good week, OK?”
“OK, Hal. Love you!”
“Love you, too!”
In Dallas, Hal hung up the phone. Glancing at the clock, he realized they’d been chatting on the phone for an hour. Good thing it was on her dime. A model could afford calls like that. He reached for his science book. “Still time to finish those last problems.”
June 10th, 1987:
Nestled between a small range of mountains in Central Europe, Modora-Granaco was amidst the lush greenery of late spring. The serene little villages that made up this newly joined nation were hardly as fairy-tale innocent as they appeared on the surface. For at the far end of the main cobblestone road sat a large laboratory that was responsible for the creation of deadly weapons.
A couple approached the structure built a little more than eight months prior. The beautiful woman had shoulder-length dark hair, and she wore a maroon dress with a modest skirt, flat leather shoes, and simple ornate jewelry. The slightly stocky man with unkempt black hair was dressed in a military-style blue top with orange piping across the chest. His pants were red, as was the cape that attached to his top that flowed about him as he walked. His gloves were orange, and his boots were blue.
“Can you feel it, my dear?” Sonar asked. “The air today is full of such energy.”
Cassandra De Granaco raised one eyebrow at the man she called her husband. “If you say so, Bito,” she said flatly. “I hope this won’t take too long.”
The international super-villain-turned-monarch put both hands upon his hips and frowned at her. “Do you not realize the importance of this?” Sonar huffed. “Today we are to witness the fully assembled forces of my new army!“
“I have seen the suits before,” Cassandra reminded him. Four months ago, during one of the coldest winter days, Sonar had dragged her outside to witness a demonstration of the nucleo-sonic armor’s capabilities. (*) Cassandra had seen a different side of the man that day, but the afterglow of that revelation had melted away with the winter’s ice and snow. She was back to the realization that, if this new army were to succeed, it would be under her own machinations.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: Sonar: The Modoran War Journals.]
“I know,” Sonar snapped, “but not the fully assembled troops! I tell you, it is a sight that will bring the tears to your eyes!” He ushered her toward the doors. She begrudgingly continued to move forward.
As they moved through the doors toward the main hall, the couple was intercepted by a brown-haired man in his early thirties. “Your Majesty,” Andrei Szackas said as he bowed to Sonar. “My Queen.” The royal couple each nodded, acknowledging the gesture. “So good to have you here. I only wish I would have known of your visit.”
“Yes, yes, Szackas,” Sonar said, waving him off. “Enough of your groveling!” He grabbed the young professor and straightened him up. “Today is a day to be proud. Stand tall!”
Szackas tried to force a smile, though inside his stomach was turning. He had passed many of the monarch’s inspection points over the last few months, but he still wasn’t fully confident with the end results. Should they fail to perform as expected, Szackas knew his severed head would end up mounted upon a pike on the castle wall.
“Of… of course,” Szackas said. “This way.” He opened the door to the main hall and held it for them to enter. Sonar strolled in first, with Cassandra two feet after him. Szackas then followed, closing the door behind himself.
There, across the center of the room, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were two rows of the local men who had been drafted into service by Sonar himself. Each wore a suit of gray and red armor. The incandescent lights of the laboratory gleamed off the surface of the metal. The men stood at attention, awaiting word from their commander.
Sonar strolled past them, eyeing each one as he passed. Once he reached the end, he spun around on his heel, and an expression of joy filled his face. “Marvelous!” he said. “You have done well here, Szackas. Your contributions will not go without reward!”
“Thank you, your Majesty,” Andrei said. What he desired most was to be free from his commitment to his homeland, but he knew perfectly well that his time here would not be ending anytime soon. He would be required to stay to service the armor during the upcoming campaign.
“What do you think, my dear?” Sonar said, addressing his bride. “Are they not an impressive assemblage of power and authority?”
Cassandra considered as she counted the troops in her head. “Fifty,” she concluded. “Is that all there is to this new army?”
“I’m sorry, my Queen,” Szackas started to apologize. “With more time and materials–“
“Fifty is sufficient for now!” Sonar bellowed. “Though a larger force will be needed in the future, a force of fifty will be enough for our initial plans! As our sovereignty grows, so shall our offensive force. But for now, this group will act as our hand of conquest!”
Cassandra raised an eyebrow. The small man had big goals, but his plan had some sound reasoning behind it. She was rather surprised by his logical approach to this whole process. She would stay her own hand, awaiting to see how these events would unfold. “So,” she finally said, “when does this great campaign begin?“
Sonar smiled. “I’ve been thinking long and hard about this,” the man said. “Given the date now and the calendar ahead, I’ve decided to plan our initial assault for the fourth of next month.”
“The Fourth of July?” Szackas asked. “The American holiday?”
“Of course!” Sonar exclaimed. “What better way to exert our own declaration of war than on the Americans’ day of independence? We shall use that date to show the world that the nation of Modora is one not be trifled with! We shall show them the might we wield as we grow our own borders!”
Cassandra kept quiet, but her thoughts contained some doubts. There Bito goes again with his envy of the western world’s ways. That will surely be his downfall. And I shall be there to scoop up the pieces, to use them for my own purposes!
June 12th, 1987:
The large, scruffy-looking man stood irreverently before the silhouetted figures. Any intended effect of mystery or intimidation was obviously lost in him. He looked for all the world like part of the Earthling culture known as bikers, aside from his chalk-white skin, red eyes, and unique birthmarks. If not for these traits, he would fit right in among that culture. He was what was known galactically as a Terraphile, though to call him that would automatically divest oneself of his or her spleen.
“You underssstand your asssignment?” one of the silhouetted figures asked the man in the leather jacket and Lynard Skynard T-shirt.
“Yeah. What’s not to understand?” he said.
“Thisss opponent isss quite formidable,” the center figure cloaked in shadows said. “Far more ssso than any you’ve ever faced.”
“I’ve faced some pretty tough bastiches. Even fragged a Daxamite once. I ain’t worried. I’ll be back with his cape and little red booties for you to mount on your wall. I’ll keep his spit curl for myself just to show everyone that I’m the man who fragged Superman. Har!”
“You sssound confident,” the shadowy figure in the center said. “Not overconfident, I hope.”
“He’s a contract just like any other. The fact that he’s Superman just means bonus points for my rep.” With that, he turned and exited the room.
“The man’sss bravado is nearly as boundlesss as his viciousssnesss,” the figure on the right said. “Do you think he will sssucceed?”
“If anyone isss capable of removing Sssuperman from the equation, it’sss Lobo,” the center figure said.