by Martin Maenza
A male humanoid figure, enclosed in a protective bubble of emerald energy, streaked across Space Sector 2814. The bubble rocketed from one solar system to the next on a fairly straight path, never wavering for an instant or deviating from its course. The figure had one destination in mind, the blue-green orb that was third from the sun in the Sol system — a planet known by its inhabitants as Earth.
The humanoid wore a uniform recognized far and wide across the galaxy, albeit one slightly battle-worn. It was a formfitting black under-layer with an emerald tunic that ran from the shoulders and down the torso to where the legs connected to the body. The boots were a matching emerald color, and the gloves were white. Across the chest was a white circle with an emerald insignia in the center. This was the standard uniform of the members of the Green Lantern Corps, intergalactic defenders against evil.
The Green Lantern Corps had been founded by a single race of beings, the diminutive blue-skinned males from the planet Maltus. These self-appointed Guardians of the Universe formed the Corps out of necessity to combat an evil they themselves had unleashed. Operating from the planet Oa at the center of the known universe, the Guardians divided the universe into three-thousand, six-hundred sectors. From all these alien worlds would come the most brave and worthy individuals within each sector, those who would be selected to serve as Green Lanterns.
The figure speeding toward the planet Earth was one such alien from the planet Criq. Like those people of Earth, he had two arms and two legs. But his appearance would probably unnerve most who looked upon him, for this Green Lantern looked like what the natives of Earth might call “death warmed over.”
In Encino Canyon, just outside of the city of Los Angeles, stood a multi-story structure. The casual passerby could easily mistake it for any small corporation’s headquarters. Nestled among the green forests, this building had a stone face with plenty of glass and windows on the upper floors. Its design was the creation of a talented architect who was also one of the individuals who used the building as a base of operations. For this was the Green Lantern Citadel, the headquarters for the seven galactic protectors who had chosen to make Earth their base of operation.
Surprisingly, there was not a lot of activity going on in the building at this particular moment. In fact, only one of the inhabitants was currently on the premises.
Salaak of Slyggia stood on the second-floor patio looking up at the cloudless blue sky. “Another beautiful morning,” the purple-skinned alien said. “How depressing!”
Humanoid in shape, Salaak differentiated from humans in several ways, such as having four arms instead of two; he wore his emerald power ring on his upper right hand. His head was oblong with four bumps along each side. His eyes were white slits. The uniform he wore was a slight variation of the traditional Corps garb. The color patterns were all the same, but his green tunic had more of a militaristic flavor to it, with a left flap buttoned over the right, and his Green Lantern insignia on the lapel. It wasn’t his idea to modify his original uniform, but all the Earthbound Green Lanterns except for Hal Jordan had done so to help distinguish themselves as individuals. He reluctantly agreed with the group in doing so.
Though his expression remained as sour as always, Salaak actually enjoyed being alone in the Citadel. Or, at least, he always professed to enjoy his solitude. But why then did he have such vivid thoughts on where his fellow Earth-based Green Lanterns were?
“Hal Jordan is off on a mission with the Justice League of America,” Salaak said aloud to himself. “When he’s not with them, he’s usually out flying jets in his other identity. He divides his time in so many directions, one would think he was avoiding something. Or someone, like Arisia of Graxos IV, perhaps. She’s finally stopped mooning over him and has taken up with others more closer to her apparent age. Some heroes north of here in San Francisco — the Wet Titans or something like that. (*) Keeps her sunny disposition from bothering me on daily basis.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Titans West: Studio Tore Up.]
“Now the only resident couple around here is John Stewart and Katma Tui of Korugar. They seem to grow closer the longer they are together. Their displays of public affection can be so nauseating sometimes. I’m glad they took off for the weekend to Detroit, the city where Stewart grew up. Maybe they’ll move out of this mushy phase and get to mating. That will put an end to this whole courting ritual.
“Kilowog of Bolovax Vik took off as well. Said he wanted to learn more about the inhabitants of Earth. Why is beyond me. Said he was going to some place called Russia, because their government sounded fascinating to him. Doesn’t take much to fascinate some people. Luckily for us, Guy Gardner hasn’t made it a point to stick around here, either. I certainly can’t see why the Guardians would have even given him a power ring. He’s so arrogant and full of himself.
“And, of course, lastly Ch’p of H’lven disappeared last year with his one-time rival Dr. Ub’x. (*) I certainly would never admit to missing that little fur-ball, but at least Ch’p was always around to listen to what I had to say.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Tales of the Green Lantern Corps: Ch’p: Monk on a Mission.]
“Ah, well,” Salaak sighed deeply. “Perhaps I can find something to pass the time on that talking box they call TV.” Salaak adjourned to the adjacent lounge.
Salaak was watching After Hours, a particularly dark comedy about a man’s misadventures in New York City late at night. He had barely settled in when he heard a loud crashing sound coming from outside. “Am I not entitled to relax without interruption?” the alien griped as he rose from the chair. With a huff, he headed for the patio area to get a better view of the situation.
Creating a telescope with the emerald energy from his power ring, Salaak scanned the tree line across the property. “Hmmph, probably just a squirrel, or one of Ch’p’s so-called counterparts on this world.” The Slyggian was about to give up his investigation when he spied a slight movement of the bushes. “It’s probably not worth my efforts to pursue, but who am I to draw that conclusion? Besides, I’ve already missed enough of the movie that I’ll have a difficult time catching up.”
Using his power ring once more, Salaak created a set of emerald stairs from the patio’s edge down to the ground. The alien Green Lantern plodded down the steps on his two-toed feet, grumbling all the while. “Knowing my luck, it’s probably another one of those costumed fools that are always poking around this place. How Hal Jordan and the others put up with their annoying antics is beyond me.” In a few moments, he was across the grassy yard.
Just then, a figure burst forth from the brush. “Bleaghh!” the figure wailed in an eerie voice.
“Zox! What is this?!” Salaak exclaimed. The figure lunged for him with some urgency, but his ring put up a barrier that rebound it backward. The figure stumbled to the ground. “Well, that was certainly a rude welcome.” Salaak got a good look at the figure and realized it wore the uniform of the Green Lantern Corps, albeit one slightly battle-torn. Its face, however, was gray in color with eyes slightly out of alignment and scalp partially torn back. “Just who are you, anyway, fellow Lantern?”
The alien rose to its feet. Its right arm dangled lower than the other, so it grabbed the appendage with its left and jammed it back into its socket. “Fnnarrr,” the alien replied to the question.
Salaak rolled his eyes. “Well, that was certainly informative. Maybe this will help some.” He pointed his ring at the other Green Lantern, giving a command to the device he wore upon his upper right hand. “Power ring, identify the Green Lantern who stands before me.”
The ring flashed emerald energy in the direction of the newcomer. The alien stood dumbfounded as it bathed in the familiar power. The ring then spoke to its wielder in a gruff tone that echoed Salaak’s own. “This is Driq of the planet Criq.”
Salaak let out a deep grumble. “So much for a detailed history,” he griped to his own ring. He turned to the other Green Lantern. “Driq from Criq, eh? Well, Driq, I’m sure you haven’t come to this mud-ball for a sightseeing trip. Surely you have some urgent business. How else can you explain your unannounced arrival?”
Driq stared at Salaak with his right eye. The left one dangled from the socket by a large optic nerve. “Pfffghh! Fnorkhh blaaahhh!”
Salaak stared in disbelief. Usually his power ring would compensate for alien languages he did not comprehend. But, for some reason, it failed to interpret Driq’s drooling sounds. “Well, if I can say so, you look terrible. I can only wonder what happened to you.”
“I can answer that one!” a firm female voice said from above them.