As Green Lantern and Tom Kalmaku entered Carl Ferris’ office, the hero gestured as his power ring revealed the hidden Puppeteer in the adjoining private office. “No use hiding behind that locked door, Weir! I know you’re back there!” said Green Lantern.
The Puppeteer emerged wearing his gold costume and helmet. “Green Lantern, or Hal Jordan, should I say?” he gloated. “I know your little secret, now. Smith told me all about it. I’ve been waiting for you since I lost my hold on that old man!”
Green Lantern crossed his arms and said, “I thought you had gained enough sense to retire, but I suppose that was merely optimism on my part.”
The Puppeteer smiled. “My hypno-rays are better than ever! I may not be able to enslave you, but I can control your little pal, there!” He adjusted a device on his goggled helmet and waited. “I order you to attack the Lantern.”
Tom Kalmaku stiffened suddenly as the Puppeteer drew nearer. Suddenly, Tom’s fists lashed out and shattered the crook’s helmet. He followed that up by connecting with two more furious blows. As Jordan Weir collapsed at his feet, the mechanic glowed briefly, and his appearance altered until he became a double for Green Lantern. The Lantern altered as well until he looked like Tom.
Tom smiled. “Making us resemble each other before we entered was a great idea. When Weir tried to control my mind, his rays failed, since he was aiming them at the wrong target!”
Green Lantern grinned back at him. “Right. He tried to control me with rays set for your mind.” He turned as Mr. Smith entered the room silently. “Smith, the game is up! I know all about your little scheme!” he said as he gripped the man in black.
Mr. Smith smiled coldly. “If you think that you know all, then perhaps I should drop my illusion!” Smith’s black suit changed until it became a metallic suit of gleaming armor, and he raised one taloned glove in triumph. “Now you see me as the Predator! Smith, the corporate lackey, is no more!”
Green Lantern gasped as he faced the twin of Carol’s male persona once more. “But how? You were merged with the Star Sapphire persona!”
The Predator grinned and pressed a button that generated a surge of energy throughout the room from hidden machines. The Lantern fell stunned, as did Tom Kalmaku. The Predator bent over their prone forms and said, “How little you know!”
Later, Green Lantern groaned and blinked his eyes until he saw a startling sight. The Predator and the Puppeteer stood before his bound form. As well, he glimpsed a bound Tom Kalmaku across the room, which was lined with weird machines. His power ring was missing as well.
“Awake?” said the Predator. “Good. I am rather glad to have a captive audience after having to hide beneath disguises for so long. Does the heart good to reveal all, don’t you think?”
The Puppeteer smiled as well. “Not so smug now, are you? How glad I am to see you helpless before us!”
“If you’ve hurt Tom, I’ll make you both pay!” vowed Green Lantern angrily.
“How predictable!” said the Predator. “Oh, but don’t worry about your little friend. He’s fine; merely dazed. You should worry more about the city you love.”
“What do you mean?” demanded Green Lantern. “Just who are you?”
The Predator smiled and caressed the Lantern’s face with his taloned gloves. “You are struggling to make sense of all this. Even now, your keen mind and brave heart fight for answers. I shall explain all to you before we take a small trip to my home!”
“Home? Zamaron?” asked Hal Jordan as he noticed his stolen ring resting on one tip of the Predator’s gloved hands.
The Predator shook his armored head. “Qward, actually. First, let me tell you that this form is but another illusion. I generated it to mislead you, although I’ve been using it from time to time for business purposes.” The armor altered as the hologram faded to reveal a short, bald man in blue armor.
“General Fabrikant!” said Green Lantern in surprise.
The Qwardian military leader nodded. “Indeed. When last we met, you had defeated my planned invasion. I was the only member of my antimatter universe army who still remained here. Prior to my loss at your hands, I had used my armor’s holograms to impersonate a small boy. You and Carol Ferris defeated me and returned me to Qward in disgrace!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Attack of the Star Sapphire,” Green Lantern v2 #129 (June, 1980).]
Green Lantern nodded. “That night was the night Carol and I reconciled after a period of strife.”
The evil general nodded. “That was also the night that Carol Ferris took her first tentative steps ever closer to creating her Predator persona. By loving you again, she began the erosion of her former role of serious businesswoman. The conflict between her desire to achieve success and her wish to win your love started growing when she allowed you back into her heart that night.”
Pausing for a moment, Fabrikant continued. “In Qward I was a beaten and disgraced man. I lost my rank and barely escaped from Qward with my life. I returned to this dimension and began to amass power here by assuming the role of Mr. Smith. I actually enjoyed playing the corporate games of your dimension’s power-brokers. I always hoped to return home in triumph with you as my ticket to acclaim, but that was but one goal. I worked as Smith to earn a reputation as a skilled man of business. My delight in being sought out by the Predator to help him gain power and eventually take over Ferris Air was nearly palpable. You see, I could read him for what he was. I saw him as a mere personification of Carol Ferris’ fractured psyche.”
“By that time, Carol was furious with me for leaving her for my exile in space,” said Hal. “I had no choice. The Guardians demanded that I spend a year in space. They felt I had neglected such areas of my sector by spending so much time on Earth. (*) Carol later told me that her rage at my departure led to the star sapphire she wore in that role, creating the male identity of the Predator.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “From Qward with Hate,” Green Lantern v2 #150 (March, 1982) and “Resolutions,” Green Lantern v2 #151 (April, 1982).]
Fabrikant nodded. “Correct. Her male persona enlisted my help in taking over Ferris in secret measures and subtle deals. She never knew my true identity. She only saw me as Smith. When she disappeared, I used the Puppeteer, here, to help me control Carl Ferris and gain sole power here. I also had to keep you here so I could keep tabs on you and keep you alive. The only way I will regain my lost position in Qward is by offering you to my masters. I cannot let you die before you have earned for me my old position back.”
“Amazing!” said Green Lantern. “Still, you can’t return to Qward. The dimensions have been blocked since shortly after the Crisis.”
“Dolt!” said General Fabrikant. “I shall do far more than merely return home. I intend to use your ring and my machines to teleport all of Coast City to Qward! Thus do I gain revenge for my thwarted invasion long ago!”
Green Lantern knew that General Fabrikant’s plan could not work. The barrier between the positive and antimatter dimensions was intact. The bitter military man could only destroy everyone in his futile attempts to transport the whole city across the realms. Concentrating, Green Lantern felt the connection with his ring that allowed him to use it from afar.
The Puppeteer grabbed Fabrikant’s arm and said, “Wait! You said nothing to me about such a plan! I have no desire to see the whole city enslaved or murdered by your race. I cannot allow this to occur!”
General Fabrikant laughed harshly and said, “You are nothing to me but a tool. You have no say in my destiny.”
The Puppeteer grew angry and said, “My hypno-rays can make you destroy your machines before they are activated!”
The Qwardian leader frowned and began to struggle for mastery of his own body as the Puppeteer tried to dominate his former partner. Both men had their skills. However, the Qwardian was strong-willed and refused to submit. Green Lantern decided to act before either man gained a victory. He summoned his ring to his hand by willpower and used it to free himself and Tom. General Fabrikant cursed as he felt the power ring fly from his grasp. He tried to stop it, but he was too slow. His movements were blocked by the efforts of the Puppeteer.
As his foes struggled mentally, Green Lantern used his ring to fuse the teleportation devices into charred metal. His intense concentration and formidable willpower made the destruction of the machines an easy matter. “Tom, get out!” he yelled. “This thing may explode before I can remove it entirely!”
Tom nodded and jumped out of the door, even as the Puppeteer fell to the ground. Weir was injured and possibly badly so because of the damage the Qwardian’s sheer mental might had done to his own mind.
Green Lantern crossed the room and said, “Fabrikant, get out now! I can shield us from the blast!” He carried the stunned Puppeteer toward the door. His foe’s heavy yellow armor made the hero rely upon his muscles and not his ring. As he inched to safety, the angry Qwardian refused to join him.
“Never! I will not live here as a mere prisoner!” he cried.
Green Lantern sent a tendril of emerald energy snaking toward the man, but the Qwardian fought and dodged until the explosion blinded the hero. The villain was lost to view. Containing the blast, Green Lantern glanced across the field to ensure that Tom Kalmaku was standing in safety.
When the rubble finally settled, Green Lantern’s ring scan revealed no body for the beaten Qwardian. “I find no trace of him,” he said sadly. “He may have made it back to Qward, but I doubt it, since my ring shows the walls between the dimensions are still in place. The blind tyrant may have scattered his atoms through space!”
“At least you freed Carl from the Puppeteer,” said Tom. “We also got rid of Smith, although not in the way we expected.”
Green Lantern nodded. “Yes, I hope things will improve now.”
Hours later, the new pilot Gary Trainer ambled across the field, slowly sifting through the ruins of the main office buildings. He whistled softly as he found a sealed case under the rubble. He pried off the lid and gazed down at a gleaming suit of armor.
Picking up one taloned glove, he smiled. “Gary, boy, you hit the jackpot!” Thus the seeds were sown for the birth of a new Predator.