John Stewart laughed gently as Ren Moody told him of the goings-on in the neighborhood. It had been a while since he had visited. Maybe, he thought, he should take up residence here to have a place to reside other than the Green Lantern Citadel. He made a mental note to ask Katma about it later. She was smiling at the stories Ren told about his friends. It had been a long time since Katma Tui was this happy, and he didn’t want to spoil it.
“Mr. Ren?” said a nervous man, approaching the table where the trio sat away from the regular customers. “There’s been some trouble at the shelter. Could you come with me, please?”
Moody stood up, laughter gone from his gaze. “What is it, Leon?” he said.
As Noleon Fae descended to Earth, his power ring gave him a listing of every other Green Lantern on the planet. He wondered if he should have been worried about what Hive wanted on this planet. He remembered the warrant on his board at home. Hive had committed numerous homicides to get what he wanted. A little thing like a small platoon of Green Lanterns wouldn’t stand in his way. He might have already put plans in motion to keep the other Green Lanterns busy while he went about whatever he planned.
Fae locked on the signal of Katma Tui’s ring. He had met her once and decided to at least put her in the picture before he started looking in earnest for his quarry.
Noleon Fae followed the signal from his ring to a small house in a human city. He descended cautiously, fading out of sight with the help of an octopus-like creature he had willed to life. Fae went to the door of the place, listening for Tui, or any other voice.
Ren Moody led his two friends John Stewart and Katma Tui to the house to see what was wrong with the place. It was a shelter for those down on their luck. Moody had explained how he had become partners with several others to give homeless people a second chance. Sometimes Ren had to settle problems between residents. This seemed like more of the same until he opened the door, and they stepped inside to investigate.
John Stewart had barely erected a shield as he stepped in the shelter, when a beam from a television tried to cut him in half. A pay phone exploded nearby. He saw that some of the residents were being restrained by wires come to life and erupting from the wall sockets.
Leon suddenly turned, swinging at Katma Tui. She went sprawling, taken by surprise from the unexpected attack. Ren Moody swung on the sudden attacker with experienced skill, but Leon’s head barely moved from the blow. “What in the world?” Moody said.
Then a green dragon burst through the door, roaring green flame on the rogue television. Katma aimed a beam at the false Leon, slicing through the body with her ring. Pale liquid sprayed the air as it fell in two pieces. John cut the wire tentacles hastily, hoping no one had been killed before their arrival.
Kilowog was a quick mover despite the bulk he carried on his frame. One ringed shield stopped the energy beam from the empty Rocket Red armor. As he scanned the suit, he confirmed that it was empty. The four other suits fired at his shield in tandem, sending him sliding back along the floor. He hated to do it, but he would have to take the suits apart.
Instantly, multiple tendrils of green light formed into flying tools and attacked the suits. In seconds, the armor lay in their component parts, scattered across the floor. “What had that been about?” Kilowog asked himself.
Hal Jordan readied himself, knowing the Superman robots would block his power ring with the yellow shields on their capes. Already they had wrapped the cloth around their right arms.
None of the fighters noticed Driq. He pulled himself up against the wall, fixing his chest slowly. When he was done he took aim and fired a beam into the exposed back of the nearest robot. The beam cut a square through the body and out its chest as the undead Green Lantern made a noise of contentment at the surprise move.
The remaining Supermen were thrown off-guard by the unexpected counterattack. It was enough of a moment of indecision for Salaak and Hal to slam the robots together in a massive crusher powered by their combined will.
Driq made a raspberry noise as he got to his feet shakily.
“I take it back, Driq,” said Salaak. “You are good for something.”
“Let’s try to find Mongul,” said Hal Jordan. “I doubt he walked away on his own.”
“What’s going on, man?” said John Stewart, hugging Katma Tui close. Ren Moody was helping the residents of the shelter.
Noleon Fae straightened his hat slightly, wondering if he would love someone again as much Stewart loved his fellow Green Lantern. Probably never. “I’m looking for someone,” said Fae. “He calls himself the Hive. He is a master of mechanical metamorphosis. It was just luck that I arrived here.”
“Mechanical metamorphosis?” asked Stewart.
“He can take machinery and turn them into other things,” said Fae.
“Like the television, John,” said Katma.
“Any ideas where he could be at now?” asked Stewart.
“My informant said he was getting something from here,” said Fae. “I hope to trail him now that he has shown his hand.”
“We’re right behind you, Fae,” said Katma, changing her clothes to her green and gray uniform.
“Right,” said Stewart, already garbed as a Lantern.
Noleon Fae let a green dog with a bat’s head drag him into the air by a long leash. John Stewart and Katma Tui followed close behind on their energy beams.
On the other side of the world, Kilowog examined the remnants of the Rocket Red armor he had destroyed. A small electronic signal unlike anything on Earth responded to his probe. He took flight, following the makeshift beacon.
Hal Jordan created a screen, knowing that Mongul’s life form was unique on Earth. He found a small blip heading directly south from the Fortress.
“It seems Mongul is not alone,” Salaak said, holding up his own screen. A small flash indicated that something was moving on the same course as the alien conqueror at the same speed.
“Let’s find out who our body snatcher is,” Jordan said quietly.
The members of the Green Lantern Corps converged over the Atlantic Ocean. After comparing notes, they were quickly convinced that they were after the same thing. Now all they had to do was go down and get it.
Hal Jordan led the way underwater. Recovering Mongul was vastly more important to him than capturing some felon from across the galactic arm. His waterproof shell protected him as he approached a ship concealed against the bottom of the ocean. His power ring highlighted it for him as he descended.
Small lasers pulsed at him as he flew at the hull, and he deflected them as he charged straight into the metal. His ring punched a hole for him as if he rode in the head of a bullet. Landing on his feet, he looked around, getting his bearings.
A wave of yellow washed over him, slamming him into the inner wall. He struck hard, his ring protecting him from the secondary impact as he went down in a fuzzy cloud. The others landed as a second wave struck out. Noleon Fae held his hand over his face, becoming the sole Green Lantern to be spared as the others went down in a heap.
“So it comes down to the two of us,” said a figure clad in yellow armor, stepping from the shadows. A blister rested between the shoulders of the thing. “I’ll be glad to deal with you once and for all.”
“Hive of Quiranos,” Fae said, his coat smoking slightly. “I have a warrant for your arrest. Come along quietly, and you won’t get hurt.”
“Please,” said the other figure as another wave of energy raced forth. It washed over the thin alien, who staggered but pulled himself up straight.
“Do it again,” said Fae, blood leaking from his nose.
Hive raised his hands, firing twin beams of force at the Green Lantern. He staggered back two steps. Hive fired again and again, but the Flarain would not fall under the yellow energy blasts.
“How’s he doing that?” said John Stewart, shielding his eyes from the light with his hand.
“I can’t find Mongul on board,” said Salaak.
“That poozer’s throwing out some joules,” said Kilowog.
Driq aimed his ring and passed the Lanterns out of the ship in a bubble.
Hive checked his meter. This Green Lantern stood there, taking everything he threw at him. The transmission was still being sent. He had to buy a little more time; then he could jack out and escape to somewhere friendlier. He triggered the self-destruct mechanism on the ship. Maybe that would get him to back off.
Noleon Fae lifted his ring hand, and a ball of burning air hovered inches above his palm. It grew until it swallowed Fae up, cloaking him in splitting atoms. Part of the deck vanished under the sudden onslaught.
Hive fired into the miasma as he backed away. He just needed a little more time. The sphere grew under the assault. He thought he heard “dead or alive” as the sphere ripped along the deck, swallowing everything in its path. He tried to eject from the back of his unwilling mount. The fireball struck, swallowing the armored form in its entirety.
Then the ship exploded as the self-destruct finished its countdown.
Outside the ship, the local branch of the Green Lantern Corps watched a column of flame erupt as the self-destruct activated. The water burned under its touch as it expanded.
“Oh, no,” said Katma Tui.
“Need to contain it,” said the stunned Hal Jordan, weakly casting a green light from his ring. A bucket formed over the heated molecules, almost immediately deformed from the stream of light. The other Green Lanterns added their willpower to the project, adding refinements to swiftly douse the stream of exploding molecules.
“I didn’t see Fae or that Hive get out,” said John Stewart.
“Fae is registering at the center of this,” said Salaak. “I can’t get anything for Hive or Mongul.”
The Green Lanterns dispersed their device after the fire became nothing more than cooling water. A dead fish floated by.
Noleon Fae stood, floating, in the same position where he had begun absorbing the energy hurled at him by Hive. For a moment his lambent eyes were as blank as yellow pebbles, seeing nothing. Then he blinked, straightened his renewed coat and hat, and floated upward slowly to join his fellow Lanterns.
“Dead or alive,” he said again under his breath as he went.