by Martin Maenza
The San Francisco Bay, just off-shore:
That next afternoon, a man in golden armor sparkled in the sunlight as he soared effortlessly above the waves. Golden Eagle watched and waited, then was relieved when a blonde female poked her head above the water. “Hey, babe — like, how’s it going?” he asked.
A small group of porpoises appeared at the surface, some netting held between their closed mouths. They blew water out their dorsal holes. “Got another load,” Lisa Morel called out. “We might have to do one more sweep of this area after to make sure we got everything.”
“We should, like, get this stuff to the others then, you know?” Golden Eagle suggested. He reached down and grabbed a net that the blue-costumed woman had been hauling and lifted it into the air. Water poured down as the hero lifted a net full of metal and parts into the air. “Come on.” He started to fly east.
“Right,” Lisa replied. She concentrated and sent a mental command to the dolphins. They heard her and started to moved out toward the small craft about two thousand yards away.
Ever since her run in with the Marine Marauder, the twenty-eight-year-old oceanographer was once again able to breathe underwater and command sea creatures, just as she had done when she first met Aquaman over a decade ago. More and more, Lisa Morel was growing comfortable with her role as Oceana and as a member of the Titans West team. A big part of that, of course, was her relationship with one of the team’s members. She was in love with the Golden Eagle, and he with her.
She watched as the Eagle lowered the net of salvaged items onto the deck of the small craft. A black man and two black women assisted in removing the items from the net. Lisa smiled. She had made a number of good friends recently who more and more filled the role of family, since she had none left to call her own. Mal and Karen Duncan were more than just teammates, and Dr. Sarah Charles had assisted in helping her understand her regained powers.
“Another good haul,” Mal Duncan said. “You heroes are doing a great service to STAR Labs today.” He gave the Eagle a little wink. Since they weren’t alone on the vessel, Mal knew he had to keep up pretenses despite the fact that he, too, was a member of Titans West as the Herald.
“We’re just glad you could pitch in, too, Mal,” Sarah Charles added.
“That’s how our marriage works,” Karen pointed out. “We help one another out with our careers. This kind of makes up for all those nights I’ve put in at the bar.”
“Right,” Mal said. “It’s all about helping each other out.” He picked up some of the items and moved them to the storage area down deck. As he did so, he passed another black male coming back up. “Just in time, Terrance. The Titans brought up another load.”
Dr. Terrance Campbell, a thirty-year-old technician with a shaved head, smiled. “Oh, good,” he said. “More stuff to check out when we get it back to the labs. Even if only some of this stuff is usable, we might be able to benefit from some of the aliens’ technology.”
Dr. Campbell approached the women. “Ladies, let me help,” he said, quickening his pace. He moved in and took a large item that Sarah had been bringing on board. “Dr. Charles.”
Sarah smiled and let the muscular man assist her. “Thank you, Dr. Campbell.” Terrance lifted the item with both hands and started back to the storage area.
Karen Duncan watched her friend watch the man go. She waited a moment and then pulled her aside. “OK, Sarah, spill it,” Karen demanded in a soft voice. “What’s up there?”
“What do you mean?” Sarah said.
“Girl, I can tell when someone’s checkin’ a man out,” Karen said, “and you most definitely were checkin’ him out.”
“I… uh…” Sarah said, caught off-guard and slightly embarrassed.
Karen gave her a reassuring hug. “Oh, Sarah, I was just teasing,” she said. “Terrance is kind of cute, though. You’ve got good taste.”
“What? Ain’t no harm in looking,” Karen said. “Looks don’t hurt anybody.”
Sarah nodded. But something in the back of her mind was questioning that. Sure, she found the scientist attractive, but what about Victor Stone? He was coming out again to visit late in the month. If she was starting to feel something for another, she would need to sort things out in her own mind first.
“Ah, America!” a muscular man with a blonde crew cut said as he peeled back the side of an armored car. The guards were already knocked unconscious after he tipped over the vehicle. “The land of opportunity!”
The man’s eyes were covered by dark blue shades, and his torso was covered in red with a white star insignia on the left side. His gloves and protective leg armor and boots were blue with white trim. “And I’m the type of guy that doesn’t let opportunity pass him by! Especially when I can get rich from it!” He laughed as he started to unload the money into a large sack.
“I think your days of withdrawing money that belongs to others are over!” a female voice commanded.
The criminal known as Major Force spun around, at first ready to strike. When he saw an orange-skinned alien female standing before him, her arm in a cast, he relaxed slightly. A male in a blue costume with a yellow cape stood next to her. “You? Why you keep showing up at my robberies? A glutton for punishment are you, girlie?“
Arisia’s eyes narrowed. “This time, I’m not going to be on the receiving end of the punishment,” she said firmly. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Major Force appeared last issue in Titans West: In the Face of Adversity.]
Major Force started to laugh. “We’ll just see about that!” He dropped the sack he was filling.
Standing near Arisia, Air Wave said, “Should I…?”
“No,” Arisia said firmly. “This one’s mine!”
“Say goodnight, sweetheart!” Major Force said as he slammed his two hands together out in front of himself. Suddenly, a wave of invisible force energy surged through the air, heading straight for the couple.
An emerald wall of energy sprang up and stopped the blast three feet from its intended target.
“Whaaa–?” Major Force said in surprise. The man gritted his teeth, stomped both his feet down hard, sending a wave of energy tearing up the ground. He then slammed his fists together, sending a second wave toward the pair.
When the dirt settled, there was a gaping crevice in the ground all about the two costumed heroes. Yet they remained aloft in the air thanks to a glowing, protective emerald shield. “What’s going on here?” the surprised Major Force asked.
Arisia’s grin grew wide. “Oh, didn’t I tell you?” she said. “I’m a Green Lantern!” Her ring pulsed as her willpower formed and shaped the energy.
Suddenly, an emerald energy battering ram slammed into the costumed criminal, sending him skidding across the pavement. “Uggghh,” Major Force groaned.
Arisia moved forward confidently. “This won’t be a repeat of our last fight,” she said, her ring pulsing again.
This time, an emerald wrecking ball swung through the air and slammed into the red-white-and-blue-dressed man. Once more, Major Force went flying.
“This time, I’ll show you what force is all about!” Arisia continued. Her ring pulsed again.
Another emerald battering ram pounded the criminal into the pavement.
“Arisia!” Air Wave exclaimed, grabbing her arm. “Go easy on the guy!”
“Easy? Easy?!” Arisia exclaimed. “He didn’t go easy on Prysm and I, did he? Just trying to see if the loudmouth can take what he likes to dish out!” Her eyes were seething.
“Arisia, stop–” Air Wave pleaded, “–stop and look.” He turned her head to the fallen villain. Major Force was down on the ground, groaning in pain. “He’s done. You’ve stopped him. It’s time for the authorities to handle him.”
Arisia blinked and paused. What had she done? Her anger and frustration, much of which had building for the last few months, had gotten the better of her. Add to that this guy’s name — Major Force — and how a person with that name supposedly killed her in the alternate future from which that Kyle Rayner came from, well it just must have pushed her over the edge.
“Oh,” she finally said, realizing all this. “I didn’t…”
“It’s OK,” Air Wave said. “Recognizing the problem is the first step to resolving it. We all get angry sometimes. We just have to make sure it doesn’t get the best of us.”
Arisia gave him a hug. “How’d you get so smart?” she asked.
“I had some good teachers,” Air Wave said. “Now, maybe we’d better tend to that guy. If his powers come from his armor or something, we should probably disarm him. And make sure he’s OK.”
Arisia nodded. “You’re right.” Her ring pulsed again, but this time she created an emerald stretcher to gently scoop up the beaten criminal. The sound of police sirens could be heard in the distance, getting closer. They wouldn’t have to do much to turn him over to the authorities.
Once they were done turning Major Force over to the authorities, a couple of whom had made some derogatory remarks to the alien heroine, the two heroes took flight back across town. It was quiet between them until Air Wave broke the silence. “Hey, I was thinking,” he said from the emerald platform that the young woman had made. “If you’ve got some time before you back to your modeling, I was thinking you could help me out.”
“Oh,” Arisia said, “with what?”
“I need to find an apartment before classes start at the end of the month.”
“You don’t want to stay at the place Loren Jupiter has set up? Even with Toni, Audrey, Isaiah, and Carrie living there, I am sure Lilith could arrange for a room for you, too.”
“I’m sure she could.” Air Wave shook his head. “I probably should have something a bit closer to campus, though.”
Arisia nodded. “True. What about the dorms?”
“That complicates some things, especially given the double-life and all.”
“Right,” she agreed, knowing now full well the complexities of a secret identity, especially since her own as model Cindy Simpson had been put on hold the last few months while her ring was on the fritz. She depended upon the power ring to create an illusion that she was a blonde-haired American girl instead of one from an alien world halfway across the galaxy. “But won’t that be expensive?”
“Not really,” Air Wave said, “if I can get a roommate to share the expenses.”
Arisia looked confused. “But then you’ve got the same problem as the dorms…”
Air Wave shook his head. “Not if I pick the right roommate.” He saw the look on the girl’s face was even more confused. “That is…” He started to blush. “…I thought maybe you and I…”
Arisia’s eyes lit up with recognition. “Oh, Hal, I’d love to share a place with you!” She threw her arm about him.
He grabbed the handle of the platform to steady himself as he welcomed the embrace. Arisia kissed him, too. Now his biggest concern was breaking this to his mother.
“Hey, you two,” a familiar voice called from behind them. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
They both turned to see a brown-haired man in a green and gray costume, someone they both knew very well.
“Hal!” Arisia said. “You’re back from Oa already?”
“Actually for a while,” Green Lantern explained. “I was helping guard Superman at a hospital facility across town for a while. (*) Then I had to fly over to Coast City to take care of some personal business. Now I’m back in Los Angeles.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: Sick Leave.]
“Good to see you, cousin,” Air Wave said to his namesake. He felt a little awkward, having a family member catching him kissing in public. “What brings you back here?”
“Actually, I was looking for Arisia, but you can come, too, cousin,” Green Lantern said in a rather serious tone.
The couple looked curiously at one another. What was up?