by Doc Quantum
An Oan hour later, the Siege of Oa was over. The meager reinforcements the Controllers had brought in to help the shadow creatures had all been defeated and either captured or destroyed. Most of the Alien Alliance armada was too far away to be of much help. The bulk of the Green Lantern Corps and the Darkstars made their way to the council chamber where the Central Power Battery was kept and met the band of five who were defending their position there. The energy duplicates of the Controllers awaited them calmly but did nothing to stop them from gathering, though none were allowed to approach the Battery too closely. It seemed as if they had been awaiting their arrival all along.
“Guy! Are you all right?!” Katma Tui exclaimed as she saw the condition of her fellow Darkstar. He was covered in sweat, drying blood, and soot. He was also less than his usual self at the moment. No crude comments came from his mouth at all, but a look of understanding passed between his eyes and the five Darkstars around the Battery.
“It’s Fae,” he said, frowning and trying to put his thoughts into order. “He sacrificed his life. For all of us. I think… I think he knew how bad it was. He… told me to go… and get help. But he must’ve known there wasn’t time for that. He stayed behind to prevent the missile from being fired. It… it would have killed all of us. Everyone on this planet.”
Katma put a hand on his shoulder and nodded at him. There wasn’t much to say. So many Green Lanterns had died this day in order to get them to the position they were at now, and their victory was not yet assured.
“A lot of G.L.s died today for us, Guy,” John said quietly. “It’s up to us, the survivors, to make our lives worth their sacrifice.” Guy nodded, saying nothing more. He attempted to retreat into stoicism once more, but his face betrayed him.
“So Guy Gardner is a human being after all,” Green Arrow whispered to Black Canary from afar.
Meadlux stood proudly with the contingent of Green Lanterns who fought with him, though he had to be supported by Hollika Rahn due to a minor leg injury. Elsewhere in the crowd stood Misa Pomus, who was as tense as everyone else. They’d liberated Oa, but the Central Power Battery was still kept from them by beings powerful enough to hold it for good. Lightray, meanwhile, had decided to join the Green Lanterns and Darkstars in orbit around Oa to protect the surface from any further attacks. Besides, what was happening on Oa right now was Green Lantern Corps business. It just didn’t feel right to intrude.
An electricity could be felt in the air suddenly, and the rising voices of the Green Lanterns began to hush in anticipation of whatever the Controllers had in store for them. More than one of them gripped their phaser rifles, not that they would have been much good against the cousins of the Guardians of the Universe themselves.
A shimmering light came over the energy-constructs of the Controllers then as they began to dissipate into nothing. A moment later, three glowing shapes came into being amidst smoke and light where the energy-constructs had been. This time it was the Controllers themselves. They remained at their large height, though for beings such as they, with complete control over their physical structures, size wasn’t an issue.
Their eyes glimmered, and a bright light emanated from the jewel-like formations on their foreheads and chests, though the one in the middle wore a purple horned helmet with a symbol in the middle that shaded his eyes. Everyone in the room felt awe in the presence of these nearly omnipotent beings, though at the same time uncertainty as to what they would do. Had they been lesser creatures, the Green Lanterns and Darkstars would have felt fear at the coming of the Controllers.
The helmeted Controller began to speak.
“Greetings, creatures of the Green Lantern Corps,” he began, his voice ethereal, yet strong and booming. If it could be described as anything, it was the voice of a god. “I am a Controller. We are a race of near-omnipotent beings from another space-time continuum, though we originated here on the soil of Oa countless millennia ago. When the universe was still young, we were the most advanced race among the cosmos. In those primitive times we lived lives of peace, harmony with nature, and increasing scientific knowledge. War, poverty, and the problems common to your various species were completely unknown to us. The mental powers we each possessed even then were developed for productive purposes. Our world was a paradise. Our minds and bodies were utterly perfect in every way, and yet we managed to improve ourselves constantly. We were happy.
“We were also proud. Our pride resulted in the seeking of knowledge long forbidden to us, knowledge which could only cause destruction. A serpent in our midst, the evil one called Krona, cared not for what he saw merely as legends and cautionary tales told to fools. He traded the wisdom of the ancients for his own personal ambition to become greater than any other in scientific advancement. He sought the very thing which was forbidden for mortals and immortals alike to know — the secret origin of the universe itself.
“The result? Destruction rained upon him, upon all of us. And things were never the same again. The universe shuddered from the evil that had been unleashed by Krona. The antimatter universe, that obscene mirror-image of this universe, was created at that moment. And the ensuing, almost endless replication of the universe was responsible for the creation of the Multiverse. More than this, though, entropy and evil had been unleashed upon this universe and all others. The evil of widespread decay, destruction, and death took hold of the entire Multiverse, battling against the holy essence of evolution which sought to improve life in all its variety. Countless races were set against their very natures and took to warring upon each other, even within their homes.
“The evil one was put into banishment for eternity, but the evil that he had unleashed could not be turned back. It could only be contained or destroyed, and it was the responsibility of the Oans to do so. We could not shirk our holy responsibility to battle evil whenever and wherever we find it. Our early efforts in this, the infancy of our race, were stumbling at best. We began by creating the Manhunters, a legion of robots who would seek out and stop evil in its tracks, at least in theory. The next step was the creation of a galactic-wide and later universal force of police officers made up from the various sentient species of the universe — your Green Lantern Corps. It was a foolish, futile move, one which required the lending of the Oans’ wondrous mental powers to mere mortals. It was destined only for failure, as it put too much power into the hands of those not ready to wield it. And it could only contain the spread of evil, not destroy it. This was when the race of Oans divided in what became known among us as the Great Separation. Those who stayed behind, here on Oa, became your self-styled Guardians of the Universe. We who left became that which you see before you — the Controllers.
“We had already seen the spread of evil and war in this universe, the byproduct of Krona’s evil. In our travels throughout the Multiverse after the Great Separation, we saw the effects of the countless intergalactic wars which ravaged many universes, all due to our failure to stop the evil one before he unleashed his unspeakable evil upon all creation. Wholesale murder of entire worlds and numerous sentient species was the result of it. For several millennia we used our mighty powers to liberate the people of many universes, along the way perfecting several weapons which were created in an attempt to preserve the peace and destroy evil before it could contaminate anything else. We also made our permanent home in another dimension from which we could monitor the Multiverse. We had spent many millennia eradicating evil throughout the Multiverse, none of which had been blessed with a duplicate of Oa or a race as powerful and dedicated against evil as ours was. We were largely successful in our efforts to destroy the worst evil found in many of these universes. Finally, we turned our eyes back to the universe we had originated from.
“We had seen the results of the remaining Oans’ faltering efforts throughout this universe and disapproved. Evil had not been contained as was their mission statement. Rather, evil had flourished everywhere, and only rarely did the Oans take direct action against that evil, preferring to leave much responsibility in your hands, that of the officers of the Green Lantern Corps. War and conquest was everywhere. The innocents had been allowed to suffer under the boots of tyrants who sought to carve out empires among the stars. All this had been allowed to take place under the watchful eyes of the Guardians of the Universe. Who knows how much pain and suffering could have been prevented had we been united in our contempt for all things evil before the Great Separation? It was too late now to do anything about the countless number of creatures who had been destroyed by evil for countless millennia, though. A new approach for this universe was needed, something we Controllers had perfected in our own dimension and throughout the Multiverse since the Separation.
“Each of us were assigned to police one sector of this universe, each of which contained a galaxy, and each of us furnished a weapon of terrible and destructive power meant to halt warfare and evil before it could spread. I, one of the greatest among the Controllers, was assigned this galaxy which contains Oa, the planet of our origin upon which the Guardians of the Universe remained. Our weapons were seldom used, however. Our wondrous mental powers, improved through evolution over the millennia, were sufficient to halt most threats of intergalactic warfare. Our minds were able both to control and to influence those creatures in power to make wise decisions, to negotiate for terms of peace rather than to go to war, for example.
“My brother Controllers did likewise in sectors elsewhere with varying success. We chose not to interfere in the jurisdiction of our cousins and their Green Lanterns but did much to eradicate evil, much like a physician removes a tumor, a cancerous growth from body tissue, rather than let it spread. We were content with this situation but ever watchful lest the Guardians make a false move and allow their containment policies to backfire on them. Many of my brother Controllers had secured peace in their sectors and returned to the dimension we had made our home, where the continuing battle against evil in the Multiverse consumed much of their time. Still others, such as myself, remained behind to combat the ever-present spread of evil which the Guardians’ paltry efforts did little to combat. In time, I believed that there would come a day in which the responsibility of the Guardians would have to be put upon the Controllers’ shoulders, and a plan for that day was written up in the event of their irresponsibility.
“You cannot imagine the horror which we endured when we realized that the Guardians, assigned to guard the universe from the threat of the antimatter universe, had been completely taken unaware of the developments which soon began to consume the Multiverse like a worm consuming an apple from the inside. The Multiversal Crisis soon destroyed all but five universes — all but five! The deaths of countless beings in countless universes had been the result of the failure of Oa. The Guardians had allowed such a thing to happen without destroying the evil at its source before it could spread like a virus, and we Controllers had been just as responsible for the death of the Multiverse in our inaction. A pall set over us in that realization. Guilt consumed us as never before. We were now faced with a decision. The Guardians had completely failed in their mission to contain evil, and the Multiverse had paid the price for their pride. Was it time for the Controllers to step in and take over, as my plan long ago provided for? We were divided in our opinions. That is, until the next actions of the Guardians made our decisions for us.
“The Multiversal Crisis had just ended. And there was much work to be done, as the fact that it had been allowed to happen at all showed how the Guardians’ methods had simply not been effective. Yet, to our shock and revulsion, the Oans who called themselves the Guardians of the Universe decided to leave this universe in your hands! The hands of their servants, their pets! Why? The reason was that they could mate! There was no more discussion needed among the Controllers. Our decision had been made for us. There was only a question of how best to act.
“It had been obvious to us that the Earth had been the nexus of the Crisis. The creatures of that planet had spent several years weakening the multiversal barriers between a small handful of universes, something which did not cause the Multiversal Crisis but which helped it to happen. The Guardians should have put a stop to travel between the universes long ago, yet nothing had been done about it except impose various restrictions and limitations on it, though the Earth-creatures knew nothing of their involvement. The Earth was also special in that the Guardians had chosen their successors to come from this planet. We, too, could see humanity’s potential, but unlike the Guardians, we realized its great potential for both good and evil. Humanity and the great powers it held needed to be tamed, to be nurtured under the watchful eye of the Controllers to ensure that they be molded in our image rather than become dangerous rivals. And at this stage in their evolution, their minds were hardly able to control the wondrous powers which had already begun to manifest amongst their population.
“As well, Oa itself needed to be taken back under our control. We had disagreed with the creation of the Green Lantern Corps in the first place, but this police force composed of so many different species could be kept under control only as long as the Oans kept a tight leash upon it. The Guardians of the Universe had abandoned their responsibility to keep order in the Green Lantern Corps as well. As they left this universe to mate with the females of Zamaron, they placed the welfare of the entire universe into the hands of the Green Lantern Corps itself! They remained a source of great power for their police force, but they turned their backs on the leadership needed to control that power. The only result could be universal anarchy, despite the best intentions of the individual Green Lanterns. The Green Lantern Corps needed to be shut down, at least until such time as we had taken control over this universe.
“We began cautiously, though quickly. Seeing that the best way to bring order to the universe was to use the resources already in place, we manipulated the leaders of the greatest empires of this galaxy and several others from afar to join together in an Alien Alliance. Once this Alliance had done its work and united each galaxy one-by-one under a single governmental system, we would take full control and ensure that only peace and harmony would reign supreme throughout the universe. These emperors and dictators did not even realize that their evil intentions were to be used for good in the end. There would be no dark alleyways anywhere in the universe in which evil could flourish ever again. And the entire universe would have peaceful progress of the kind that existed in Oa’s infancy before the evil one had caused such havoc.
“A test invasion of the Earth by this Alliance was undertaken as soon as was possible. This invasion was fought and defeated by the powerful champions of that world, but it had proven to us that you, the Green Lantern Corps, were either unable or unwilling to lift a finger to stop the creation of such an Alliance between galactic empires or their combined invasion of a world. Even the Guardians of the Universe would never have allowed such a thing to happen. This served only to show to us that the Green Lantern Corps was ultimately an ineffective organization without any kind of control from the top. They certainly could not work in concert with each other without the leadership of Oa, and evil and corruption was more likely to make its way through their ranks now than ever before. After this abortive invasion of Earth was over, we examined the variables and prepared a number of solutions in order to make the real invasion a success.
“Finally, the real invasion of the universe, the first step in the return of order to the cosmos, was ready to begin. Oa, left largely abandoned by the Green Lantern Corps, was easily sheathed in a cloak of darkness from which no energy could leave. The Oan energy contained in the Central Power Battery was locked up, preventing it from powering the individual power batteries of the Green Lantern Corps, but leaving the energy in each individual power ring intact in order to protect its wearer until such time as it ran out. We did not seek to harm you, the Guardians’ servants, but only to disable you from interfering in our plans. Next, the sciencells on Oa were emptied. They had been occupied by some of the worst criminals in the universe. We destroyed some of the worst of them and imprisoned others elsewhere for rehabilitation, while some were made to join the Alliance while under our mental control to ensure the invasion’s success.
“The Earth was next. We manipulated the commanders of the Alien Alliance to perform certain actions but did not control them completely, as the knowledge of our involvement was to be kept a secret from them until the end. The Warworld had been rebuilt to create a galactic empire and crush all opposition, but its power was held back in order to prevent the Earth’s destruction. What had been meant for evil, we turned to good. A second wave of lesser invasions began all across the galaxy. Once this galaxy was secured, other galaxies would follow.
“Yet we have been too lax until now. Humanity fought against its invaders under good intentions, not knowing that the goal was to deliver them from evil completely. Their liberation from evil was seen as nothing more than a conquest. And, just as in the earlier invasion of Earth, they fought back against it despite the incredible odds against them. Truly a species to admire. In several thousand millennia hence under our watchful eye, evolution will make them into a wondrously noble race of beings. They are now, however, extremely misguided. Even now they have destroyed Warworld and are forcing us to implement other measures in order to complete the liberation of Earth from evil.”
The audience of Green Lanterns and Darkstars stood watching and listening in silence, declining from interrupting until the Controller had completed what he had to say. One among them, however, held a small video camera as he watched, one whose signal was relayed into the ships in orbit around Oa.