by Doc Quantum, Immortalwildcat, Starsky Hutch 76 and Martin Maenza
While the thousandfold Green Lanterns and Darkstars readied themselves for the upcoming battle, Meadlux sat down next to Hal Jordan as they ate. The planet Mogo itself had supplied the army of warriors with everything they would need: shelter, water, and food of all kinds. Due to the wide variety of life forms who had come to the Milky Way Galaxy’s defense at the possible expense of their own, it was often difficult to provide the right kinds of nutritional needs for all of them, and there were no longer any power rings available by this time to assist. The army had access to a number of different alien technologies, however, and it was not difficult to convert the raw elements that Mogo provided them into enough food for everyone to be sustained. Likewise, Mogo had mined from his depths great amounts of metals, minerals, and elements that were used to build an array of weaponry and spacecraft necessary for the upcoming invasion of Oa.
As Hal sat there and watched them, all thousand of them, all professionals, he wondered if the men who had fought at the D-Day invasion of Normandy had felt the way he felt now. They were going into a situation that was a complete unknown, a situation that could very well be the most dangerous one they had ever collectively faced.
Meadlux spoke to Hal Jordan after several minutes of complete silence as they ate and drank. “All is not well in the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps, friend Hal.”
“Hmm?” Hal said, taking a sip of coffee.
“There is a great unrest in the Corps. Half of those you see here, such as myself and the young Valura, still proudly wear the uniform of a Green Lantern. The other half, however, wear the Darkstars uniform, some even refusing ever to wear again the uniform given them by the Guardians. They see themselves as betrayed by the Guardians in their hour of greatest need, and they are disillusioned. If — when — we get the power battery back online, I am afraid that they will refuse to ever don their power rings again. What I want to know, Hal Jordan, is what you will do.”
Jordan looked back at the formidable, blue-skinned Meadlux, met his eyes, and said, “Once a Green Lantern, always a Green Lantern.”
Meadlux smiled. “I am afraid that saying is no longer true, at least in the case of many of those present, and even some who refused to join us in our siege on Oa.” He paused, and then he looked past Hal to something behind him. “Mogo wishes to greet his old friend once more,” he said, motioning behind Hal.
Hal turned and looked to see — himself. It was an image of himself exactly as he looked a decade earlier when he first met Mogo. The image of the younger Hal Jordan smiled at him, then saluted him in the style of the United States Air Force. Hal had been a member of the USAF as a young man, and it was in the Air Force that he had received his flight training before he later went to work at Ferris Aircraft after his honorable discharge. Mogo could not communicate with him without the energy of the power ring, and none was available right now, so he could do little but convey his emotion at seeing once more his first friend and the first intelligent being he had ever seen.
“It’s good to see you again, too, Mogo,” Hal said, knowing the living planet could read his thoughts. The younger Hal waved at him once before vanishing. Hal smiled in a melancholy way, hoping that he would once again be able to visit and talk with the planet that called itself Green Lantern in honor of him.
“Well, I think it’s time we head off to Oa, agreed?” said Meadlux, standing up once more. “Care to address the troops, Jordan?”
“I can give it a try,” the human Green Lantern replied.
In the cold vacuum of space near the planet Mogo, a small fleet of ships waited. For some, preparations had been underway for several Terran weeks. Others had arrived only days before in time to help finish those preparations and join in the implementation of the plan. Now, the man whom most of those present looked to as their leader stood on the bridge of the flagship and faced a camera that transmitted his image and words to all of those gathered.
“This is it, people. I don’t have to tell you that nobody knows for sure what we will find on Oa. All we know for sure is that the planet has been swallowed by a great sphere of darkness. Those of you who examined the sphere and developed the photon-shield have done your job. Technology from a dozen different worlds has been merged into a weapon that should allow us to reach the surface of Oa. Thanks to Lightray of New Genesis, we have the power to extend the shield to cover all of our ships as we breach Oa’s atmosphere. But once we get past that point, nobody knows what we are going to find.
“We are gathered here, one of the largest gatherings of Green Lanterns in several centuries. Not all of us wear the uniform of the Corps today, in accordance with plans laid down long ago for a day when we might be cut off from the Central Power Battery. Others have chosen to retain their Corps identities, knowing that the Battery will be restored. To all of you, I say that regardless of our views on the matter, we are united. We fight today, not for the Corps, but for the universe. The menace that has cut us off from the Central Power Battery has spread across the universe, attacking star systems from Sol to Alpha Centauri and beyond. Now, while a large portion of their forces are focused on Earth, we strike here to disrupt their control of Oa and to hopefully reclaim the power we need to liberate the planets they have conquered.
“It would be hopelessly naive to believe that we will emerge from this battle unscathed. Some of us will die today, surely, that a universe might live. That is a possibility we all accepted when we first donned the rings of the Green Lantern Corps, and we have lived with it throughout our careers in the Corps. But if this be our day to die, then how better to do so?”
Hal Jordan paused as those on his ship erupted in a loud cheer. From the bridge speakers, he could hear similar cheers coming from the other ships. “Very well, then. The command is given.” Hal watched as the navigator engaged the ship’s drive. “Let the attack begin!”
Near the enshrouded planet Oa, a lone starship slowed in its journey and settled into an orbit well away from the sphere of darkness that obscured the planet. Inside that ship, a lone figure sat in contemplation of the events of recent weeks. Well, actually, a lone figure sat in contemplation of a many-colored block of plastic.
“Hmmm, let’s see… This here thingy is supposed to have each color all lined up on each side. All you gots to do is twist it, and turn it, and… dang! This thing is difficult!” The furred creature tossed the block into a corner of the bridge, and then, as he had done countless times before on this journey, he chased after it and brought it back to his seat.
“What’s that danged beeping sound?” he asked, looking around. Seeing a flashing bar on one of the screens, he moved to it. “Oh, it’s that navigational thingamabob! Let’s see, oh! Journey completed!” He turned and looked at the main view-screen. “Hey, that don’t look like Oa to me! It’s all black and inky and, ooohhh, look at that!“
As he watched, a fleet of ships came toward the planet from another direction. It would have been no use to ask him which, since he couldn’t describe directions in three-dimensional space. Still, he knew that something was about to happen — something big.
“Something big is about to happen! They must be planning to attack Oa, just like a bunch of those space-weasels attacked Earth. Why, if I hadn’t been napping on that great big beach in Africa, I might not have spotted the guy what was flying this ship. He didn’t seem to like that big beach none, cause he was sure mad when I took his ship after my ring-a-ding burned out on me. Good thing I found Oa in the list of planets he visited before. I thought I might get me a new ringer-doodle, but now I see that I got a job to do first!”
Fumbling around the controls on the navigation board, he took manual control of the ship. “Them aliens are gonna find that G’nort doesn’t give up without a fight, nosirreebob!“
“What kind of a living is racing cars? my dad said,” muttered Cliff Steele, slamming his fist into the jaw of a Khundish soldier as the Doom Patrol fought its way through the corridors of Warworld. “Did I listen? Nooo! If I’d listened, then I would probably be an accountant or a lawyer now instead of duking it out with these creeps.”
“Yeah, and you probably would’ve been shot by one of them by now back on Earth,” Element Girl said. She turned into a cloud of gas, and a group of Gordanians began coughing and fell to the ground, unconscious.
Three Khundish soldiers ran at the Odd Man. They suddenly stopped, fell to their knees, and grabbed their hair, screeching in horror as his schizophrenic perceptions washed over them. One of them slumped to the ground and clawed at the floor, as if he were trying to hang on.
“Man, it creeps me out when he does that,” Cliff said, looking at the crazed soldiers.
Elsewhere, Primus and Kalista led the charge as the Omega Men tore into a group of four-armed Branx warriors. “Too bad Tigorr isn’t here,” Harpis said as she flew into them and slashed away with her claws. “I know he would love to dig his claws into these fools.”
“Tigorr is getting his share of combat, believe me,” Primus said as he felled a warrior with a mind blast. “Since he’s leading the defensive strike against any star-fighters leaving Warworld for the Alien Alliance bases on Earth. I’m sure there will be plenty of fleeing like rats deserting a sinking ship.
“Way to go, Broot!” said Starfire, alias Koriand’r, eagerly as Oho-Besh ripped a section from the wall and wrapped the metal around three of the warriors.
“You are doing it again,” the minstrel chuckled, causing the golden-skinned member of the New Titans to blush.
“I’m sorry,” Starfire said. “You look so much like him.”
“Funny, I never heard that until I left Changralyn,” the minstrel laughed. “But since he’s the most exalted member of our race, I’ll take it as a compliment.”
“Your people are pacifists, so I’m really surprised to see another of you in the Omega Men,” she said.
“I’m a minstrel,” Oho-Besh said. “And what better way to find something to sing about than by accompanying Vega’s most heroic sentients?” he said. “Plus, much like Charis-Nar, I enjoy seeing the Citadel get what’s coming to it after the suffering they’ve brought my people.”
“X’hal, I can identify with that!” Koriand’r said. “I owe them much myself. That’s why I fight by the side of the Omega Men today.”
“Then you should stay with us after this is over,” her brother Ryand’r said as he grabbed one of the Branx warriors and seared him with his burning touch, causing him to issue an animalistic scream. “Our own world is suffering under the boot of our sister, Komand’r. There is even talk of her joining the Citadel!“
“I — I might just do that, little brother,” she said, thoughtfully. “I might just do that.”
“The darkness! It’s incredible!“
The dark-skinned young woman with brown hair floated in space just outside the atmosphere of the planet Oa. Before her was an inky black circle where the planet would be. Unlike the other members of the Green Lantern Corps, she was from the planet of Rokyn and thus possessed abilities that Kryptonians possessed when away from the red sun’s rays. A small com-link communicated her words back to the many ships behind her.
“Valura, anything else to report?” came a voice in her ear.
“Sorry, Mr. Jordan,” Valura Tur-Thol replied. When Superman returned from Rokyn with her to Earth, Hal Jordan was one of the first Green Lanterns she had met. From their time regrouping on Mogo, she learned that this man was one of the most respected members of the Corps. If anyone could find the root cause of the problem with the failed power rings, it was him. “Even with my enhanced vision powers, I am having a difficult time getting a good reading from the planet below. If nothing else, I can tell it’s still there. There is still a body generating gravity.” She pointed. “See, that moon is still in orbit.”
“That’s what our readings tell us as well,” Hal said. “But have no fear! We’re about to crack that little black barrier wide open!”
On the ship, Hal switched over the radio controls. “Kilowog, how’s it coming?”
On the other end, the rough voice of one of his close comrades replied, “Those poozers, whoever they are, that put up this shield are in fer a big surprise!” The large, pink-skinned Green Lantern who currently wore the black and red Darkstar uniform finished some final adjustments to a large apparatus mounted on the top of one of the ships. “Alert the fleet, Jordan! I’m about ta hook up the power supply!”
A small creature dressed in a similar uniform and resembling an Earth woodland creature looked up at a handsome blonde man dressed all in white. “Don’t mind Kilowog’s rough nature,” Ch’p said. “He tends to forget his manners when he’s caught up with a new toy.”
Lightray smiled. “Believe me, little friend, I fully understand. Metron of New Genesis can be very much the same way.”
Kilowog motioned to the New God. “OK, blondie,” he said. “I’ve put t’gether these various alien technologies as best I can. This is as good as it’s gonna get.”
Lightray nodded and stepped forward to the awaiting chamber. “I put my life in your hands,” he said nobly.
Kilowog raised an eye. “I hope it won’t come ta that.” He latched the chamber door. “OK, now. All youse gotta do is grab those two handle thingees and relax. This baby should tap into your natural abilities and do the rest.”
Kilowog gestured to his teammate. “Better step back, Ch’p,” he said. “And shield your eyes, too! It’s showtime!“
The machine sprang to life. Lightray felt a slight, unexpected twinge but then braced himself. His Mother Box began to ping in warning. “Have no fear,” he said to the sentient device. “All is well.” Still, he could feel the machine drawing upon his godly powers, feeding upon them to power up the cannon-like weapon. He grit his teeth and held fast, as was expected of those trained under the tutelage of Highfather himself.
Aboard the various ships, the teams waited as the cannon shot forth its brilliant beam of light. The blast itself had an unnatural glow to it, almost ethereal. But something unnatural was exactly what they needed to deal with an equally unnatural obstacle.
“Everyone, ready!” Hal instructed all the ships. On board the many vessels were the various members of the Green Lantern Corps, most of whom had bravely traveled to Mogo in hopes to find out why Oa was taken captive. They came from all corners of the universe, from diverse backgrounds and cultures. But they all shared one thing in common this day: a goal. They would take back Oa.
Hal watched as the beam cut through the darkness. He said a prayer and watched for a moment.
The results were not as spectacular as he would have liked. The beam did not destroy all the darkness, but it did cut an opening. They had to take that opening.
“Everyone, go! Head for the planet through the opening. We’ll rendezvous planetside!”
The rescue fleet went into action and headed through the part in the sea of darkness.
As the ships of the Green Lantern Corps moved through the opening created by the light-cannon, they were being watched. Aboard a small scout ship, furry paws darted around on a control panel, seeking something. “Oh, where is it, where is it? There’s got to be a fire button here somewhere!” Apparently, he struck the right combination, as a panel opened up and a metal arm slid out with a strangely shaped lump of plastic, covered with an assortment of buttons, switches and round pads. “Ooohh, they got the WarStation 2 controller upgrade! Cool!” G’nort grasped the controller and wiggled his thumbs. “Time for those creeps to eat electrons!“
Aboard the ship designated Darkstar One, an alarm sounded. “Hal, we have an unidentified ship, bearing three-fifteen by thirty-seven. Looks like a Psion scout ship,” reported John Stewart from his station.
“Damn! Kilowog and his crew are vulnerable up there.” Hal turned to the communications station. “Anything on subspace frequencies, Katma?”
The red-skinned woman in the Darkstar uniform raised a hand to the earpiece she wore. “Nothing, Hal, just the usual — wait, I’m getting something here. Pressing a switch on her console, the bridge of Darkstar was filled with the sound of singing.
“–wish I was in Klordny, hurray! Hurray! In Klordny’s heat, I’ll take my seat, and live my days in Klordny.”
“I — I believe I know that voice.” All heads turned toward Salaak as his usually unhappy face turned, if anything, more unpleasant. “I was summoned to England a few months ago to pick him up after his ring had been completely drained on an ill-advised mission to space. (*) He claims, totally unsubstantiated, mind you, to be a Green Lantern. He had a ring, but I doubt that is doing him any good now.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: The Beefeater and G’nort: Where’s the Beef?]
“He’s powering up weapons!” exclaimed John. Without waiting for agreement from the others, he twisted the dial on his console’s communicator. “Valura! We need you topside — protect Kilowog’s ship!”
On the main view-screen, they saw the young Rokynian Green Lantern streak up and out of the opening in the darkness surrounding Oa. Her super-senses allowed her to quickly assess the situation, and she moved to position herself between G’nort’s ship and the Green Lantern fleet. Twin bolts of energy lanced out from the smaller ship, striking her directly in the chest. They bounced off harmlessly.
“Valura, bring the ship’s occupant to us,” said Hal. By the time she tore into the scout ship, wrapped the furry creature within in a rapidly made metal sphere to protect him from exposure to space’s vacuum, and brought him aboard Darkstar One, all of the ships were through the opening in the sphere of darkness.
Kilowog pushed his engines to the maximum, driving his ship through the opening as it shrank when he had to deactivate the light cannon. Only the efforts of the New God called Lightray, generating intense light on his own, allowed him to slip through safely.