by Doc Quantum
Procanon Kaa and the other technological wizards of the Green Lantern Corps and Darkstars pored over the emitter array like kids in a candy store. “This is brilliant!” Kaa exclaimed after he and the others had opened up the casing and began taking a look around.
“It may be, Kaa, but can you safely shut it down?” Meadlux asked him in a firm but impatient voice. “Our troops are still out there fighting a bloody primitive war!”
“Well, it’s not any specific technology I’ve seen before, but the principles it employs are universal,” Procanon Kaa replied, threading three wire-like devices through his fingers. “It’s simply a matter of finding the frequency controls and adjusting the frequencies so that they no longer cancel out the electromagnetic fields.”
“Can’t you just turn it off?” asked Hollika Rahn impatiently; technology was not important on her world. “Isn’t there an on-off switch on it somewhere?”
Procanon Kaa laughed. “It’s never that simple, fellow Lantern. This emitter array is tapped within the very force shield which protects Oa itself from the radiation of the multitude of stars here at the center of the galaxy. If we simply shut it all down, our flesh would quickly melt from exposure to a multitude of electromagnetic frequencies not meant for a humanoid body to with–”
“Yes, yes, all right,” she said, waving her hands up to stop him from continuing, “just… do whatever you have to do.”
“I will, if you don’t keep interrupting us,” said Kaa, turning back to his work.
Hollika Rahn merely shook her head. Technology and technocrats. How she hated them both.
Guy Gardner was still trailing the shadow creatures who seemed to be moving in one direction, having decided that randomly shooting at them wasn’t doing much good after all. He’d read Sgt. Frank Rock’s biography several times as a teenager and knew the war hero would’ve used his head and let the little fish get away in order to catch the big fish.
He was still running when something gripped him and forcibly pulled him up through a window.
“Fae!” Guy said, surprised to see him as much as he was surprised that Noleon Fae had easily lifted a man twice his size off the street. There was certainly a lot more to this Green Lantern than met the eye.
“I couldn’t let you go after them like you were, Gardner. You would’ve ruined everything.”
“Ruined what? What’s goin’ on?”
“They have a bomb. It’s affixed to a short-range missile which is set to ignite as soon as the dampening field is shut down.”
“What? Where? I can take care o’ that!”
“Not finished. The missile is aimed directly at the energy-dampening field generator which Meadlux and his technicians are trying to shut down at this very moment.”
“So why not just let ’em blow it up? Just get Meadlux and the others out first, an’–”
“The feedback from the electromagnetic shock of the generator’s destruction would likely kill everything on this planet, not to mention that it would probably shut down the protective shield the Guardians erected around Oa to protect it from excessive amounts of radiation. That’s why we’ve got to make sure those creatures don’t fire that missile.”
Guy Gardner thought of himself as a leader-type, but he knew when he was out of his league. Fae was more loner than leader, but he seemed to have the situation well in hand. “So… what do we do?”
“I have a plan.”
“Stand back, everyone,” Meadlux said as Procanon Kaa and his engineers prepared to shut down the energy-dampening field. The group of Green Lanterns and a few Darkstars stood tensely as they waited for the ever-present darkness to be over. Valura Tur-Thol had already dropped a supply of phasers and laser rifles, among other electronic equipment, to all of the troops in preparation for this moment.
Kaa and his engineers stood together in front of the array as if jealously protecting both its secrets and their own tricks of the trade. Like painters guarding the secret of their painting techniques, they obscured their actions and made everyone wait until they were finished before answering any queries on their progress.
Finally, a slight crackling in the air could be both heard and felt. All around the planet, the ever-present night began slowly to resolve itself into dusk, and then into day. The communications frequencies they all wore began to buzz as Command began testing it out. The light was dim at first, but slowly grew brighter and brighter.
Night was over. Day had returned to Oa.
“They did it! They finally did it!” shouted John Stewart.
“They sure did,” Green Arrow said, smiling as he saw the warm glow of sunshine through the chamber windows again for the first time since they had left Mogo.
“I hope this means I can take a break,” said Black Canary, who had used her canary cry on a regular basis for the last several hours to disorient and confuse the enemy shadow creatures. Like many others, they’d realized that they were communicating with each other through some kind of high-pitched sonar.
The group of Darkstars and their allies had remained as close to the Central Power Battery as the Controllers had let them several hours ago, but ever since the energy duplicates of the Guardians’ cousins had been strangely quiet, as if they had been concentrating on something else.
“I wish that was enough, guys,” Hal Jordan reminded them. “Our biggest challenge is still ahead of us.” He looked down at his power ring and fingered a metallic device in his other hand.
A crackling of their communications systems suddenly startled them. The shrill voice of Ch’p sounded through their earplugs: “Alert! Several hostile craft are landing on Oa armed with weapons! Alert!”
“Do you hear that?” said Katma Tui, she turned around and pointed up at the source of the noise — a handful of black dots on the horizon looming ever closer could be spied through the window.
“Take cover!” John shouted, a moment before several shots exploded both the ceiling and the ground beneath their feet directly between them and the Central Power Battery. The Controllers appeared to phase out for a moment, not expecting this.
“Rao!” Hal Jordan shouted into his microphone. A split second later, two hands of steel picked him up and hurtled him in the direction of the Battery. In a flash they were gone.
“Return fire!” shouted John, their phasers already in hand, aimed at the small ship rocketing above them. “G.A.! Canary! — to my left! Katma! Jordan! — to my right!” Each did as he was told. The Controllers seemed not to have noticed anything amiss.
In orbit around Oa, Kilowog was pleased to see that the energy-nullifying generator had been shut down and that his messages finally got through after the forced radio silence for so long, but the ships he and the others had been fighting off were now able to attack the troops on the ground directly. These new invaders had the advantage of surprise, but they seemed to be outnumbered by the Darkstars and the de-powered Green Lantern Corps, especially now that the latter’s various energy weapons were useful again.
Kilowog continued to target the ships as they broke down to the surface of the planet, saying out loud to no one in particular, “Jordan, I hope ya had the chance ta do what ya needed ta do.”
Lightray was finally freed from his mission of light-bringer to Oa and was able to deal more directly with these newcomers. Those who attempted to pit their technological might against this New God from New Genesis were sorely outmatched. It was almost a crime.
Misa Pomus rocketed through the air with her jet-pack right into the midst of a cadre of Khund warriors at the size of a Rigelian beetle. They stood outward in a circle as they fired out at the Green Lanterns and Darkstars that surrounded them.
Needless to say, they were surprised when a full-size Imskian popped up in their midst and took that moment of shock to incapacitate a couple of them with a phaser set on stun. They were too shocked at having been beaten by a mere woman that they hardly noticed that she’d dropped something before shrinking and flying off at the same time.
The stun grenade went off a couple of seconds later.
Kilowog’s orbital support was helpful in putting an end to striking fire by low-flying ships, but could also have its downside. Salaak and G’nort just had enough time to leap out of the way before a Khund ship slammed into the ground a few feet away from them.
Noleon Fae and Guy Gardner, meanwhile, had taken advantage of the chaos to attack the group of so-called shadow creatures surrounding the missile site. It was apparent that the stain of defeat and the loss of darkness had dampened their enemies’ spirits; they no longer fought as viciously and as desperately as they had earlier.
The missile had already begun powering up, however.
“How the hell does this thing shut off?” said Guy.
Noleon Fae took a careful look at it. He’d seen its like before. “Gardner…” he began slowly. “I need you to get back to Meadlux and have him bring Procanon Kaa and his engineers here.”
“Do you think we have time for that?”
“All right, all right!” Guy said as he turned and began to run back to Meadlux’s sector. He had already dumped all the unnecessary ammunition needed during the Oan night and replaced them with a light phaser, so running wasn’t a problem for him. He crossed his fingers and wished Fae well.
The Green Lantern from Alvarin knew this much about the missile he was standing next to — it couldn’t be shut down once powered up, and it had already begun counting down. He hoped Gardner could reach Kaa in time, but it wasn’t likely they’d be able to get back here before the timer ran down — Kaa was a rather disagreeable fellow when rushed.
Noleon Fae’s tail twitched as he pondered over the situation. He considered changing its trajectory so it would fire off and explode harmless in the empty Oan desert, but to his chagrin, he found that it was immovable, and the computer controls no longer responded to any commands as he tapped upon the touch board with his three-fingered hands. He removed his coat and hat as he began to perspire and wondered what to do. It was obvious no help was coming.
Suddenly, he spotted something he hadn’t before: the locking mechanism was manual. If he could lock the missile up, it would not be able to fire and would be forced to explode here. He’d have enough time to escape while the rocket engines were firing before the timed triggering mechanism would explode the warhead — in theory.
Fae pushed on the locking control. Nothing. It seemed to be seized up. He took a glance at the timer again and swore under his breath. Only twenty-four seconds left. Seizing all his strength, he began to push on the locking control again, but it wasn’t responding.
“Aaarrrggghhh!” he grunted as his muscles strained and veins popped out on his lean body. He braced himself against the missile platform and pushed with all his might. Finally, the locking control began to move. He continued pushing, and pushing, and pushing, feeling the blood rush to his head. As the timer counted down to three seconds, he finally pushed the locking control to the on position. A clicking sound was made as the locks clamped down upon the missile. A second later, the rocket began blasting fire into the room.
Fae screamed as fire engulfed him, and he realized there was no way to get out of there alive. He blindly reached for his coat but only managed to slip his hand into its pocket.
Guy Gardner, a lifelong athlete and former gymnastics teacher, was nevertheless out of breath by the time he made it to Meadlux’s position, but he forced his words out, “Meadlux! We — we need Kaa and — and the engineers… right away! Come with me!”
Meadlux frowned at him and set down his cup of tea. “What in the deuce are you babbling about, man?”
An explosion shook the ground beneath them before Gardner could punch him in the face in frustration. The group of Green Lanterns turned in shock as a fifty-foot-tall cloud of smoke and fire blasted up into the air before dissipating. A moment later, small flaming shards of metal rained down upon them.
“NOOO!” Gardner shouted.