As Batman and Sinestro entered the atmosphere of Sikazor, the villain continued to fill the hero in on the background of their case.
“Like most heroes, Esmagon had what some call an arch-enemy,” Sinestro said. “Hal Jordan has myself, you have… the Joker, isn’t he called? And Esmagon had Mykarlen.”
“I gather that’s who Esmagon is accused of murdering,” Batman ventured as he took in the dazzling orange foliage of the forests they flew over.
“Indeed,” Sinestro confirmed. “In fact, no formal charges have been levied against him by his own people. Most consider the death of Mykarlen a public service. It’s only those blue-skinned computers on Oa that find it a crime. Mykarlen was a mass murderer, killing hundreds without remorse.”
Batman chose not to comment on the irony of Sinestro’s statements. “And you don’t think it’s possible that Esmagon finally had enough of him and did away with him?”
Sinestro turned a cold, staring eye on Batman. “Do you think you could ever exact summary justice on your Joker?”
Batman returned the cold stare. “I don’t rule out any possibilities.”
The two men locked eyes for a long, silent pause, then Sinestro looked away. “Fair enough.”
The unlikely pair flew in silence until they reached a sprawling city of bizarrely shaped buildings. Batman had been on alien worlds before and had seen alien architecture, but it never failed to surprise him.
“Hold still,” Sinestro said as they touched down. “I’m using my ring to envelop you in an invisible protective field. As long as you’re on the planet, it will protect you from the planetary conditions that would prove harmful to Earther life. It will also translate Sikazor speech for you, and yours for the natives.”
“I take it Esmagon is not imprisoned here on Sikazor?” Batman asked.
“No, he is being held on Oa, pending trial,” Sinestro said. “The alleged murder took place here. The scene of the crime, I believe you would say.”
“Do you have any theories regarding the murder?” Batman asked.
“I?” Sinestro said, raising an eyebrow. “I am a warrior, not a detective. That is why I asked for your help.”
“You’re also a criminal mastermind,” Batman pointed out. “Think. If you were trying to frame Earth’s Green Lantern for murder, how would you do it?”
Sinestro’s brow furrowed in concentration. Then realization slowly spread across his face. “I would fake my own death and make it appear as though he had done it!”
“Just what I thought you’d do,” Batman commented, allowing a small smile to crease his face. “Was there a body?”
“No,” Sinestro said slowly. “The blast of power-ring energy vaporized Mykarlen into random atoms.”
“Take me to the exact place where it happened.”
Sinestro and Batman walked through the streets of Trebor, the capital of Sikazor. They drew few stares from the natives, for neither of their legends had penetrated this far as yet. The Sikazorians were a short, squat people, probably owing to the increased gravity of the planet. Their skin coloring was similar to Earthers’, albeit somewhat paler, and their bodies were totally devoid of hair. Their planet was a center of local intergalactic trade, and thus obvious off-worlders like Batman and Sinestro were a common sight.
“This is where it happened,” Sinestro said as they came to a stop in front of a municipal park. Orange-leafed trees grew tall amid flame-hued grass and clear running streams. “It was a Sikazor holiday, and the park was filled with people. Mykarlen slaughtered them all with a new weapon of his devising: a ray-beam that evaporated the blood in their bodies.”
Batman frowned in disgust. “What did he hope to gain by that? Or did he just kill for the pleasure of it?”
“Mykarlen’s killings were always motivated by profit; not that he didn’t enjoy the carnage,” Sinestro said. “Once before, when he had invented a new killing weapon, he committed such an act to demonstrate its effectiveness before attempting to blackmail Sizakor with it.”
Batman took a small device similar in design to a pocket calculator from his utility belt. He aimed this at the park, and it began making beeping noises.
Sinestro watched with interest. “What are you doing, Batman?”
“This device analyzes energy-signals,” Batman explained. “I have tuned it to detect a Green Lantern’s power ring energy. I’m trying to determine if a power ring was, in fact, used here recently.” Batman returned the device to his belt. “It was.”
“Well, we knew Esmagon arrived on the scene,” Sinestro pointed out.
“Enough energy merely to fly wouldn’t leave enough of a trail to register,” Batman explained. “I was searching for enough energy to atomize a human — or Sikazorian — body.”
“Would it help you to see what happened?” Sinestro asked.
Batman’s head whirled around with sudden interest. “Very much. How can we do that?”
“A Sikazor news reporter was recording the events in the park, for what I believe you would call a human interest story. She got the whole thing on holovid, something similar to your video tape, but much more advanced.”
Batman frowned. “I would assume the Green Lantern Honor Guard confiscated the holovid for evidence in their case against Esmagon.”
“The original, yes,” Sinestro said. “Copies still exist on Sikazor. We can view them in the public library.”
“Halt!” an authoritative voice barked before the unlikely duo could take a step. Batman and Sinestro turned to see a tall humanoid being with dark purple skin and bulbous yellow eyes. An expression of loathing was written across the being’s face. He wore the costume of the Green Lanterns and aimed his power ring at Batman and Sinestro. “By the authority of the Green Lantern Corps, I command you to surrender!”
Batman’s body automatically tensed into battle-ready position. Without taking his eyes off the imposing Green Lantern before him, he spoke out of the corner of his mouth to Sinestro. “Friend of yours?” he asked.
“His name is L’nw’n,” Sinestro said with undisguised contempt. “Green Lantern assigned to the neighboring sector.”
“Aye,” L’nw’n acknowledged. “And until Esmagon is cleared or a new Lantern assigned this sector, I am patrolling this one as well as my own. Imagine my surprise to find the renegade at the scene of his erstwhile mentor’s disgrace! Very interesting, wouldn’t you say?”
Outrage burst on Sinestro’s crimson face; Batman would swear it turned a darker crimson. “Do you mean to imply that I had something to do with this? Why, you miserable son of a Denebian–”
“L’nw’n, wait,” Batman said. “Sinestro has asked me to help him prove Esmagon’s innocence.”
L’nw’n’s bulbous eyes widened at this. “You expect me to believe that? And who are you, pink-face?”
“My name is Batman,” the Darknight Detective explained. “I come from Earth, in Sector 2814. I am a close friend of the Green Lantern of that sector; we are comrades in the Justice League of America.” There was a pause while L’nw’n considered this. “Use your ring to check my story, if you like.”
“I have,” L’nw’n said. “I have accessed the information the Central Battery has on this Green Lantern’s exploits with your Justice League. It confirms what you say. But I am confused. A comrade of Hal Jordan, allied with the renegade? It speaks of madness — or mind-control.”
“Enough of this banter!” Sinestro declared as a golden beam flashed out from his power ring.
“Sinestro, don’t!” Batman snapped. But it was too late. The beam caught L’nw’n unawares and struck him full in the face. The tall Green Lantern swayed on his feet for a moment, then pitched face-forward into the grass.
“Sinestro, what have you done?” Batman demanded. “I had the situation under control! I–”
“You had no such thing,” Sinestro said evenly. “In two diorets he would have had us both in a green cage.” Sinestro paused, observing the controlled rage on Batman’s face. “Relax, the fool is all right. I merely put him to sleep to keep him from bothering us. Now come on — let’s go to the library.”
Batman spoke not a word as Sinestro led him to the public library of the city of Trebor. Inside the large building, they made their way to the holovid players, which were nothing more than large, empty booths with chairs. Batman sat in one of these while Sinestro selected a holovid disc, a metal thing no larger than a washer.
“This is the scene of Mykarlen’s death, if indeed that is what it was,” Sinestro commented as he seated himself in the chair next to Batman’s. He dropped the disc into a slot in the arm of his chair. Instantly, a three-dimensional scene flashed to life in front of the two spectators. Batman marveled at the technology; it was just like being there.
The scene unfolded after the deaths of the citizenry. A man in a head-to-toe yellow suit stood over the bodies, holding a strange-looking gun; Batman assumed this to be Mykarlen. A Sikazorian in a Green Lantern’s uniform flew in from the sky, rage on his face at the scene he beheld; this would be Esmagon. Mykarlen aimed his weapon at the Green Lantern. An emerald beam stabbed from the ring, and an explosion blossomed where it struck. When the blast cleared, Mykarlen was no more. Esmagon landed, a weary expression on his face.
The image clicked off; the holovid disc popped out into Sinestro’s hand. “Learn anything?” he asked Batman.
The Darknight Detective was even grimmer than usual. “All I need to know.”