by PDebord, with CSyphrett
The story began in a rundown part of Coast City in a back alley known to nearly every criminal in the city.
Doc Schultz, known as the cheapest plastic surgeon for a crook on the run, was an older man in his early to mid-sixties. He had no real license to practice medicine, but this didn’t bother his customers that much. Presently he stood bent over a man in a chair, carefully cutting away bandages. The operation had been performed over a week ago now, and enough time had elapsed for the patient’s recovery.
“Let us see how we did,” Schultz said in anticipation. Completely removing the rest of the bandages, he held a mirror out to his patient.
The man regarded his new face, and laughed. “Perfect,” he said.
Doc Schultz shook his head as he held up the photograph he had followed during the operation. “I don’t understand why you want to look like some test pilot, but I suppose that’s your business, Mr. Hand,” Schultz said as he looked down into the face of Hal Jordan.
“Yes, Doc, that is my business,” replied the patient. “Since you know who I am, I will tell you why,” he said as he stood up out of Schultz’s chair.
The criminal surgeon backed away, fiddling with his scissors nervously.
“Have you ever looked for something, only to find it right under your nose?” the man inquired. “You know, one of those if it had been a snake, it would have bitten me type of moments?”
“Uh, n-no,” Schultz stammered.
“Well, maybe this will help,” the patient said.
An eerie green energy washed over the patient, leaving in place of his cheap brown suit the uniform of a Green Lantern, and as it reached his face, it covered his eyes and nose with a dark green mask.
Doc Schultz stood speechless as he suddenly realized that Hal Jordan was the super-hero known as the Green Lantern.
“I siphoned enough energy off of him during our years of battle that it lingered in me,” the patient explained. “It protected me when an inmate stabbed me in the back. (*) As I lay in my coffin, it taught me things that most of the cheap crooks in this town could never even dream of — about the little blue men that run the Green Lanterns, and the fact that there are more than one of them. It showed me the man behind this mask. The energy revived me when someone siphoned some of it off of me, just as I had from Jordan.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Pawns of the Power Pirate, Chapter 2: Battle of Wills.]
“Why tell me all of these things, Mr. Hand?” Schultz asked.
The patient grabbed Doc Schultz’s shirt and pulled him closer. “Because you’re the only man alive who knows that William Hand lives. I have to rectify that situation. Nothing personal, but dead men tell no tales.”
The hand that held Schultz’s shirt began to glow again, and the doctor slumped to the floor as every bit of energy in him was drained into his patient. The face of Hal Jordan also began to change as the older man’s life energy was absorbed into his own body. He aged almost spontaneously, and the brown hair began to gray around his temples. The patient looked back into the mirror.
“Well, no one said you were that good of a plastic surgeon, anyway,” the super-villain once known as the Black Hand remarked as he walked out the door.
Green energies enveloped William Hand, and he used that energy to fly over Coast City as his most hated foe had done for years. With the incredible speed that rivaled even that of the Flash, he arrived at the Green Lantern Citadel outside of Los Angeles in seconds.
The sensors at the door recognized his energy as that of a Green Lantern and allowed him to pass. The building was empty but for one solitary, elderly, blue-skinned Green Lantern who stood waiting for the Earth-based Green Lantern Corps to return. This was Ghrelk of Space Sector 69, and he had lost his homeworld of Naktos during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. After spending several months dealing from fallout from the Crisis in his sector, he had just arrived at the Citadel in hopes of allying himself with the already-legendary Green Lantern Corps of Sector 2814.
“Jordan?” Ghrelk said smiling as he rose to shake the hand of the man known as the greatest contemporary Green Lantern, but he suddenly stopped himself from doing so as a frown formed on his face.
William Hand smiled coldly as he regarded the alien before him, who now stared back at him nervously. The Green Lantern’s ring flared slightly, and Hand’s smile broadened as he understood it.
“You’re not Jordan!” Ghrelk exclaimed as William Hand grabbed the front of his union suit.
The Green Lantern stood there transfixed, with Hand holding his collar. “And you’re not the Green Lantern I was looking for, but you’ll do,” said Hand. “After all, you know what they say — a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
The blue-skinned Ghrelk had been a Green Lantern for a long time, and not many things had ever touched him. His power ring had always protected him without even needing a command to do so. Now he stood staring into the face of an aged Hal Jordan, who had somehow bypassed his ring. William Hand’s hand began to glow bright green, and the homeless Green Lantern’s look turned to one of shock.
“You’re a living power battery!” the elderly Green Lantern exclaimed in horror. Those were his very last words, as Ghrelk’s essence, along with his body and suit, were absorbed into his power ring. That ring then hovered in the air in front of William Hand.
“This makes my old weapons look like toys,” said the former Black Hand. “It’s no wonder I was always defeated so easily. The sheer power of this one ring is amazing. With it I can trace the green energy back to its source — back to those little green men — and end Jordan and his ilk for good.”
Hal Jordan, the first Green Lantern of Earth, sat in the Justice League of America’s satellite headquarters, staring blankly at the computer screens. He was on monitor duty, but he wasn’t really watching the screens. Instead, he sat remembering a JLA case months before and the taped message of the future Green Lantern named Kyle Rayner. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Time, See What’s Become of Me? Epilogue: The Specter of Parallax.]
“Could it be? Could I really destroy the Guardians and the Green Lanterns — everything I’ve worked my whole life to build?” Green Lantern asked himself as he had hundreds of times every day since he had first heard the recording.
Suddenly, his power ring came to life all on its own. An image of Appa Ali Apsa, flanked by his Honor Guards K’ryssma of Etrea and Apros of Minus Seven Pi, was projected in front of him.
“This is a call to all Green Lanterns,” said the sole Guardian of the Universe who had remained behind on Oa after the other Guardians and their female counterparts the Zamarons had left for another dimension to procreate for the first time in millions of years. (*) “A rogue has killed the Green Lantern of Sector 69 and is using his power ring to trace our energy here to absorb it at its source. Hal Jordan must be stopped at all costs.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Five Billion Years,” Green Lantern v2 #200 (May, 1986).]
Behind his mask, Hal Jordan’s eyes widened, and his jaw dropped in shock.