The Director was a Coluan this month, and he regarded the man before him with questioning eyes. His aide Battly was very efficient about his duties, so he wasn’t surprised at the progress reported. He was, however, surprised by what the subject of his experiment wanted. “He wants to take revenge on Earth?” said the Director. “Still a trace of megalomania, I see.”
“Yes, sir,” agreed Battly. “Should we delete the imprinted memory, and see what would happen if he didn’t have any experience?”
“No, Battly,” said the Director. “Give him what he wants within reason, and let him do this fool’s errand. Maybe it will calm him down. If he is captured, delete him. We can get another memory somewhere else if we have to do so. Have the special parties arrived yet?”
“They are in the designated meeting area,” replied Battly.
“Let’s get this over with,” said the Director.
The group assembled by Battly waited impatiently for his employer’s presence. They had been summoned to deal with a problem. What the problem was they hadn’t been told yet, but they knew it had something to do with a meddler. They were all hit men and bounty hunters, and that was what they dealt in: blood and guts, and specifically other beings’ blood and guts.
The Director appeared in a hologram, a base Coluan with a monkish face, and dark hair swept back. “Gentlemen,” said the Director, his smooth voice carrying over the transmission. “I have been having problems with certain individuals. I want them removed from the scene. The primary target is a Green Lantern named Noleon Fae. He has cut into my shipping business to a certain extent. The secondary target is Vril Dox. His government is also becoming an interference. As soon as the targets are confirmed dead, your accounts will be credited with your fees.”
The hologram snapped off.
The Director glided into the control room. Battly walked behind a small staff of operators, monitoring their special agent. He saw that the miniature warship he had outfitted was leaving the system.
“In transit to Sol,” said Battly, following the progress of the brain in a box. “Leaving hyperspace in ten minutes.”
The Director regarded the diagram for Mongul, skeptical that the cyborg would be able to make much of an impact on that world.
“Dropped in system, heading for Earth at top speed,” reported Battly. “Weapons gearing up. Ship detected in orbit. Firing particle throwers at full power. Ship has lost power, falling out of orbit.”
“What’s the make of the ship?” asked the Director.
“Thanagarian, according to the threat assessment,” said the aide.
“Marvelous,” said the Director sarcastically. “Didn’t the subject have dealings with Thanagarians?”
“A Thanagarian police officer was responsible for his condition,” said Battly. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Hawkman and Hawkwoman: Mind Games.]
Dexter was wearing headphones playing “Living in America” very loudly as he worked at his terminal. Thus he didn’t notice the beam of light slicing across the room at eye level, cutting through the walls of the building. He dropped a pencil off his desk while he was typing. When he straightened up, the top of his monitor was lying behind the rest of the terminal.
“What the–?!” said Dexter, straightening his glasses.
Hearing a creaking above him, he looked up. The ceiling began to fall down on top of him, so he dived under his desk to escape the mass of steel and concrete. The rebar rods and chunks of concrete crashed through the floor, ripping the dense material like paper.
Dexter tore his headphones off as he peered out from under his protection. Then the hole widened, dumping him and his desk to the floor below. He landed with a thump.
“I thought I had gotten away from this when I left home,” he complained softly.
Clark Kent heard the trouble before he saw it. A glance out of the window at the Daily Planet, where he worked as a freelance reporter, told him all he needed to know for the moment. Vanishing into the stairwell leading to the roof, he pulled off his blue suit as he ran, revealing a familiar blue, red, and yellow costume. Collapsing his suit and glasses into a pocket hidden in his cape, Superman took to the air to meet this new menace.
The silver craft reminded him of the ships he’d seen in the future era of the Legion of Super-Heroes during his boyhood, but on a much smaller scale. A sparkling rod leaped from the top of the disc, cutting across a building in a straight line.
“That’s enough,” said Superman, blocking the rest of the beam with his hand.
“About time you arrived,” said the computerized voice from the spacecraft. “I have been wanting revenge for a while, and now I have the means to my ends.”
“Brainiac?” Superman asked.
“No,” said the ship. “I am Mongul, so prepare to die.”
Noleon Fae traveled a great deal more than other Green Lanterns. He made his home on a planet named Alvarin, but mostly he tracked down fugitives from justice and returned them to their home planets, or whatever league their planet belonged to.
This member of the Green Lantern Corps had his limits, though. Fugitives from the Dominion and other aggressive systems were only hunted if they attacked shipping lines outside of those areas of the galaxy. Any resistance to their forms of government were fine in his book. He drew the line at any move against the democratic governments outside their spheres. Then he hunted them down and returned them to where they would get a fair trial.
Piracy was high on his list of things to look into, which was what brought him to where he was now. Ships had gone missing in the forlorn system that he was scanning with his power ring, and he was here to find out why.
Vril Dox looked up at his aide walked into his large office. He placed his desk computer on standby, as the president of the planet Colu had a meeting with his cabinet this morning. It was not something he looked forward to. Reports of raids along his system’s borders had increased, as well as in the neighboring systems.
Although he had deduced that one mind was behind the assaults, that was pure conjecture on his part. He needed incontrovertible proof of such a mastermind. Back during the days of the Great Revolution against the Computer Tyrants, Vril Dox simply would have acted upon his informed deductions rather than risk letting the enemy win further ground. But he lived in a very different world these days.
Besides, Dox also had his suspicions that this mastermind had connections to someone in his government. There had been too many failed raids by the police forces to think otherwise. It was obvious there was an inside man feeding information to the raiders.
He walked the halls of his presidential quarters, lost in plans to expose his internal enemy before trying to find the outer source.
Superman stared at his enemy in astonishment. Mongul’s comatose body had been taken from his Fortress of Solitude a month ago. He had been believed killed when the ship of his rescuer had detonated in a battle with the Green Lantern Corps. Now here something was claiming to be the same alien conqueror.
Scanning the ship with his super-vision, Superman hoped to locate the pilot and forestall any more damage to his beloved Metropolis. But all he saw were internal workings consistent with a robot or android, and not a cyborg at all.
“You’re not the real Mongul,” he said. “You’re just a machine that thinks it’s Mongul.”
“What difference will that make to a dead man?” said the loudspeaker. A green beam of light erupted from under the disk of its body. The light burned through the Kryptonian, sending him crashing to earth.
“Now to destroy this city,” announced the mechanical marauder, an unmistakable tone of glee in its artificial voice.
Noleon Fae glided through space. His power ring analyzed the region in the hopes of detecting a clue to the vanishing merchant ships on their way to Colu and some of the other nearby systems.
His ring-created bloodhound found a trail leading to a moon that was in orbit around a gas giant. Fae let the glowing green dog drag him along, his ring shielding him from atmospheric friction. He followed the trail to a grove of trees.
Noleon Fae was disturbed that the bark on the trees, most of the leaves, and the local grass were all yellow. He found himself on guard amidst these suspicious surroundings. It was, despite centuries of secrecy in many circles, now common knowledge that a Green Lantern’s ring could not affect anything of that color.
It was an all-too-common occurrence to be killed in an ambush due to being shot by ammunition painted the one color that would go through your protective shield. Green Lanterns had learned many inventive ways to get around this weakness, but the odds were against you if you didn’t have time to prepare a defense strategy.
Vril Dox looked out over the room, his parliament waiting for him to give his speech. Garryn Bek, his head of security, stood behind him to one side. President Dox’s assessment of the problem wasn’t optimistic, to say the least. Piracy was claiming half of his planet’s trade goods. A stop had to be put to the situation.
A glitter came from the back of the room. President Dox jerked to one side as his podium exploded in slivered wood. Garryn Bek threw himself forward, pulling a handgun from under his coat. He saw a flash before everything went black.
Vril Dox pulled a splinter from his cheek as he ran for the door, swerving as the floor and walls erupted around him, and he ducked back into the corridor leading to his office.
The president of Colu skidded to a halt as two humanoids in a space armor appeared in the hallway. They opened leveled their rifles and fired before he could think of reversing himself.