Hal Jordan, Salaak, and Driq were flying north from the Green Lantern Citadel, creating green streaks in the air as they went.
“Are you sure this is necessary?” Salaak asked.
“Actually, I should have done this back when Guy played Kyle Rayner’s tape,” said Hal. (*) “Instead, I just sat around and moped until Black Hand tried to destroy the Corps. (*) That’s what convinced me that Kyle had been wrong, and that I should at least check on Mongul. Hawkwoman stopped him permanently.” (*)
“He’s dead?” asked Salaak.
“Brain-dead, anyway,” said Jordan.
Driq let out a belching kind of sound.
“Sorry, Driq,” said Hal. “No offense meant.”
Driq responded with another indistinguishable phrase.
“Mongul got a big dose of Black Mercy,” Hal explained, “and it shut down all of his higher functions.”
“We’re going to see if he is still there, aren’t we?” said Salaak.
“Kyle was wrong about me,” said Hal. “So, hopefully he was also wrong about Mongul destroying Coast City in the future.”
John Stewart and Katma Tui walked the streets of Detroit. The couple was taking some time off from their responsibilities as two of Earth’s defenders. The two Green Lanterns had some nasty surprises in the last few months since the Crisis on Infinite Earths and needed some time to get to know each other again. The sudden reappearance of William Hand had been the nastiest of the year’s surprises.
“We should have left with the others, John,” Katma said, looking around the city street with the eyes of an experienced traveler.
“I think the boys can do without us for a quick check, Kat-lady,” said John with a smile. “If they get into trouble, I’m sure Salaak will send us a call.”
“It’s not that,” said Katma. “We should be helping Hal after what we did.”
“We are,” said John. “We’re showing him we trust him to check out someone who has been blamed for destroying his home city in a parallel timeline. I think that means more to him than having us look over his shoulder.”
“When did you become wise?” Katma asked, smiling.
“Since I saw Guy and realized that my angry young black man phase wasn’t much better than his own brand of bitter anger,” said John. “Let’s stop in at Moody’s and get a hot dog. Then we can look at everything a tourist looks at.”
The unusual tourists walked to a small restaurant in a one-story brick building. They jangled the bell as they stepped inside. Small neat booths lined the walls with metal stools in front of a counter at the back of the place. Ren Moody smiled, showing his five missing teeth.
“John Stewart, as I live and breathe!” Moody said. “I thought you were dead.”
“Ren Moody, still putting the fear of God in the Devil?” John said. The men grinned as introductions began.
Noleon Fae and Walro Tuska stood on either side of a door in a rundown section of Tuska’s home planet. (*) Fae knocked on the door with the back of his hand and tipped his hat back with the other. Both Green Lanterns hoped this one came quietly.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Tales of the Green Lantern Corps: Noleon Fae: Slinger.]
As if in answer to his thought, yellow plasma burned the door down. Some pierced Fae’s shield, setting his coat on fire. The arm underneath had also been hit by the cascading beams.
“Fae?” asked Tuska, readying a counterstrike. His exoskeleton had taken some of the heat, protecting his almost bipedal body.
Noleon Fae held up his burning arm, and the flame snuffed out in a flickering, power-ring-created green wave. The exposed hand and arm seemed hairless but fine. “Let’s get this guy,” Fae said through gritted teeth.
Aiming his power ring into the hotel room, Fae caused a winged green thing to sweep inside. Its one massive eye shone emerald light on the lone occupant.
The gold armor dropped filters down to protect its wearer’s sight as he sprayed burning plasma at the walls of the room. Some cut through the thick building material, spraying out into the hall.
“Yellow armor,” grumbled Walro Tuska as his own power ring changed part of his glove into a cannon. “Let’s see it stand up to this, yellow or not.”
Walro aimed his hand into the room, firing the cannon. There was a bright flash, then the outlaw crashed into the wall, hard. Part of his armor had been sheared away by the forces brought to bear by the Green Lantern.
“Concussion wave versus ceramic plate,” said Walro.
“Better than what I was going to do,” said Fae, charging into the room. Leaping into the air, he smashed into the fugitive, then grabbed the being’s globular helmet and swung him to the ground.
Tuska dropped on the trapped being’s back, smashing the man’s helmet against the floor as Fae twisted metal around the wrists of the armored goon with his ring. “What were you going to do?” Tuska asked.
“Plasma wave,” said Fae.
“A plasma wave?” said the armored Walro Tuska.
“Doesn’t matter what color their protection is in the middle of a miniature nuclear storm,” said Noleon Fae, grim as a mourner at a funeral. “Where’s the Hive, space dust?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” asserted the captured criminal.
“I am the chief law enforcer on this planet,” said Walro. “So we can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can get a life sentence here, and live a few more years at hard labor. Or you can be sent home with Fae and be executed for piracy. What is it now, Noleon? Poison gas?”
“They feed you to the local sea life on Alvarin,” said Fae.
“Your choice,” said Walro.
“I don’t know anything about any Hive,” said the prisoner, glaring at the Green Lanterns looking down on him.
“Feed the fishes, Fae,” said Walro Tuska.
“Right,” said Fae, gesturing a globe of energy to life around the bound pirate. Hero and villain alike floated off the ground.
“Wait!” said the pirate. “Wait.”
“Where?” said Fae.
“He went to Earth.”
“Earth?” said Fae. “You know, a small corps of Lanterns are there?”
“He said he was going there and getting something,” said the pirate. “That’s all I know.”
“You get to go to work,” said Fae.
Kilowog examined the delicate piece of machinery through a ring-created magnifier. He could have used his power ring to assemble the cybernetic armor in a second, but he preferred to work on each one by hand.
Every once in a while, something would come up to take him from his work. Coming back to his workshop was like returning to his home. His assistants understood that, even if the officer in charge didn’t. So they kept the political animal away as much as possible, and Kilowog built Rocket Red suits as payment for a place to call his own. It was an even trade in Kilowog’s mind.
Kilowog looked up from the joint he was working on. He had thought he was alone with the armored suits he had already built and stored in his workshop. Pilot training was supposed to start in the morning. He played light from his ring on the overalls he wore, changing them to his Green Lantern uniform.
Something moved in the darkness near the storage room. He created a green spotlight, shining it in the dark hall. A Rocket Red stood there. Four more stood behind it. Kilowog looked at the number on the breastplate of the armor. He didn’t remember who had been assigned to 12. After he remembered that 12 was a new one without a pilot yet, 12 fired the energy blaster in its gauntlet.
As Noleon Fae crossed the galaxy on the back of a sleek emerald fish, he briefly wondered what purpose Hive had on Earth. He knew that planet had fielded a formidable force of heroes in the past, and Hal Jordan, perhaps the best of the best of the Green Lantern Corps, made his home there.
Planet-conquering was there as an option; Fae didn’t think the Hive would try that. Too many others from more advanced planets in the galaxy had tried and been smashed into the ground by the likes of the Justice League and the Titans. The recent Alien Alliance invasion had shown that the planet could hold its own against any threat, no matter how phenomenal. (*) And Hive was anything but phenomenal.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors.]
Hal Jordan, Salaak, and Driq closed in on Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. After his defeat, Mongul had been placed in a life support/suspended animation capsule due to the nature of his injury. Hal had asked for permission to conduct a personal visit to the Arctic retreat, and Superman had graciously complied.
The Green Lanterns saw the yellow key that fitted in the golden door concealed in the mountainside, but passed through the walls instead, sending a message to the security monitor to alert it to their status as friends, as well as to the exact nature of their business.
Hal led the way to the sickbay. It meant more to him than the others to see Mongul laid out flat on his back. He waited impatiently for the doors to slide open.
“He’s gone!” Hal exclaimed when he saw the empty bed.
Hal Jordan and Salaak played their emerald light around the Fortress of Solitude, trying to pick up a trail to follow. Mongul couldn’t have got up and left on his own, could he?
Superman walked into the room. His face was blank as he stepped up to Driq and punched a hole through the dead Green Lantern’s chest. After the fist was withdrawn, Driq’s body slowly began to repair the damage to the living corpse.
“Superman! What are you doing?” demanded Salaak.
“That’s a robot,” said Green Lantern. “It’s one of the defensive systems.”
Salaak erected a shield as the robot swung on him, but the blow cracked the solid energy in half. The Green Lantern was thrown on his back. Hal fired a cutting beam of energy at the robot. The yellow shield on the thing’s cape swung into the beam’s path, stopping it. A fist struck Hal from behind, and he slammed into a wall, trying to hold on to his senses. Two more of the Superman robots had joined the fray. Things looked bad for the home team.