Annual #2: The Rise and Fall of Sinestro (Wilkins / Saxton) Mar 3, 2010 19:08:08 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Mar 3, 2010 19:08:08 GMT -5
Alex Nero rocked backward and forward in his padded cell. He'd landed here just under a year ago, way back when his body had been used as a host for something awful, and his mind had been utterly ruined. He could not think for himself. He could not speak for himself. He couldn't even handle the bathroom. Kyle Rayner, the hero formerly known as Ion, and currently a dead man, had placed a hand inside Alex Nero's soul and dragged out the malignant spirit of Parallax, the first Green Lantern(1). And Kyle Rayner had taken Parallax into himself. But Kyle Rayner was dead, wasn't he?(2)
A man stepped out of the shadows, and crouched down in front of Nero. He wore a black suit and tie, but his face was obscured by the darkness. "Alex," he said softly. "Do you remember me?"
Alex said nothing. He stared blankly into space, spittle dribbling down his bottom lip and off his chin.
"We shared some time together, yes we did," said the man. "I have something for you." The man rubbed his hands together vigorously, a wicked grin on his lips. After a few moments, he opened his palm up for Nero to see, and the madman's face was illuminated by a barely controlled incandescence. "I call it freedom."
In the man's hand there was a flame, floating above pale, yellowing flesh. He moved his fiery hand toward Nero's chest, and then pushed it against his blistering skin. Synapses sparked to life. Dead neural pathways came alive, and Alex Nero blinked. "Whurr," he whispered, "hhhkkk," he coughed, "I..." He looked at his left hand as it began to ignite with an unholy fury. "My..." His eyes burned bright like a funeral pyre. "Oh, my."
Flying without the ring was uncomfortable. He was used to the effortless feeling of just... being out there; deep space, alone, no sound but his own thoughts. Inside the craft, the hull creaked with age, the engine roared down in the back compartment. But this was all he had left, this was all he needed. He looked down at where his ring should have been, and saw the finger missing. If he clenched his fingers into a fist hard enough, he could still feel it. It was disconcerting, to say the least.
"I want it back," shrieked the man who had shorn the finger from his hand, "I gave it to you, and you failed me! I want it back!"
"You polluted my mind!" he had shot back, his power ring sparking, "with this pale imitation of a power ring, and if giving it back to you helps you? Well that's not going to happen."
His mind was clear for the first time in what felt like years. He remembered snippets of his life, but for the past... how many months? How many years? Things were a blur. All down to one man.
Sinestro pushed the space craft as hard as he could, knowing that his former master was hot on his heels.
He pushed at his thoughts, cleared his mind like he'd been trained to during his tenure in the Corps. He focused on the events that had come before. Infected by the Legion virus(3). Shot in the head by Guy Gardner(4), and then... and then... imprisonment on Earth by King Faraday and Chloe Sullivan(5). The darkness that had enraptured him. And then... freedom(6). But that was a lie. Parallax had twisted his thoughts just as Legion had, made him angry, a piece in a game beyond his power(7). He had been powerless to resist. His anger and his enmity had been mainlined by Parallax's power, and then... and then... snippets. Fighting the elder statesman of the Corps... the Green Lantern that wasn't a Green Lantern(8)... why had he done that? The ring on his finger had pushed him. Made him do terrible things. Terrible...
"Sinestro." The glowing face flashed up before Sinestro's eyes. He tried to ignore it. "You're nothing now, Sinestro of Korugar. Why fight this? Let me kill you. The universe's darkest hours are coming, you need not see the destruction of all that you hold holy, Sinestro. Let that be my gift to you."
"AWAY!" Sinestro swiped away at the hologram, and it dissipated. He breathed in sharply, trying to calm himself. His emotions were out of control. He was angry one minute, and then melancholy the next-- Parallax had broken him down, but that wasn't too difficult, was it? Not after what King Faraday had done for a year...? He had allowed himself to be broken. He'd allowed himself to be tormented into the arms of all he thought evil.
"Where are you going? No one trusts you, Sinestro." The projection reappeared, this time, a hand on Sinestro's shoulder alerting the Korugaran to it's presence. "I invite sweet death. Sweet relief. Allow me to give you this favor."
"Sick of this," hissed Sinestro, as he turned to the projection. "You're not here! You're not real! It's all in my..." Sinestro blinked, and the hologram was gone. "All in my head. Damn."
Parallax no longer held Sinestro in his thrall, but the damage had been done.
Sinestro's ring exploded with power. He was the greatest of the Green Lantern Corps, and as such, using this power ring was near effortless. The same principles applied. Push your mind into the ring, and allow your imagination to do the work. "Get away from me!"
Parallax grinned with thin, pointed teeth bared. The creature was horrifically ugly, pale yellow skin, thin limbs and taloned fingers. Could this entity be the first Green Lantern? The scourge of the universe? He put up his hand to the blast leveled at him, and caught the power in his palm. The gold energy coalesced there, before he snuffed it out with a gust of breath. "You shouldn't insult me, Sinestro. You're insulting me. I saved you. Gave you purpose."
"You stole my life!" retorted Sinestro, as he thought fast. He imagined being able to fly away from this place, and shooting into the night sky. Where was he anyway?
<Knowledge denied. Override engaged.>
"What?!" Sinestro looked at his ring as the energy output fizzled out.
<This ring belongs to Parallax.>
"No!" Sinestro turned to look at his attacker, as he approached slowly. "You..." He leaped into battle, his fists raised. He wouldn't go down without a fight. Parallax restrained him in an arcane, horrific torture rack comprised of golden energy. "--No--!"
"I am the ring, Sinestro. You are nothing. Without that ring... you are worse than nothing." Parallax licked his claws, and pushed Sinestro's head to look at his ring-slinging hand. "Watch." Parallax began to slowly push Sinestro's finger back. The former Green Lantern grit his teeth as he felt his flesh rend. "Can you feel that?" The bone began to break. Sinestro didn't scream. He merely stared as his finger was torn from his hand, and Parallax slid the ring off the end. Purple blood dribbled to the scorched earth below. "This ring was the first I made. For you, Sinestro. For no one but you. I, on the other hand, have no reason for a ring, but it helps focus the energy, correct?" Parallax grinned, and Sinestro spat in his face. "Tsk." His claws raked down Sinestro's cheek, tearing through skin and muscle. "Bad, bad."
"Getoffmeee," growled Sinestro, blood pouring down his face.
"I can make more. And then the Green Lantern Corps will fall. Beautifully."
Sinestro felt the scars on his face. Deep, painful scars. He felt awful. He hadn't eaten for weeks. He'd been able to scavenge water on that godforsaken hole Parallax had held him on. "Hold on to it," he whispered to himself, "you know you can survive this."
Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan sat in the waiting room of the the asylum that Alex Nero had resided in mere hours before. Guy flipped through a year old tabloid magazine, while Hal just waited. "You alright, Highball?"
"Sure, Guy," replied Hal, as his ring continually informed him of events around the world. "I just want to get this over and done with."
"Yeah, I uploaded the mission debrief from your previous encounter with this mook," said the second Green Lantern of Earth. "Nut case. Possessed by Parallax, the first Green Lantern, right? Caused some righteous trouble before being punked by the kid, right?"
"Yup," said Hal, "Kyle tore the spirit of Parallax straight out of him. Good work too. The Guardians have been keeping tabs on Nero, because... well, ever since Kyle died, they've no idea if Parallax went with him."
"An' knowing our luck..." mumbled Guy.
An orderly approached and smiled. "Green Lantern...s... the police informed us that you'd be here. Thank you for respecting our protocol and waiting. We really do appreciate it."
"Yeah, we don't wanna rile up your residents, would we?" said Guy, grinning. "Now, do us a favor and tell me and my partner what went down?"
The orderly smiled, "Doctor Price will be giving you the case details, Mr. Green Lantern, sir."
"We know the case details," interrupted Hal, "we need to know what happened. The energy discharge was off the charts, but New York wasn't evaporated straight off the map. There's only one weapon I know capable of such feats."
"That being?" asked a doctor, as he came up to the two Green Lanterns.
Hal tapped his ring, and then put out his hand. "Power ring. Doctor Price, I assume? Alex Nero's case worker?"
"Yes, I was the one who was working with Alexander. Before and after the incident that left him in a vegetative state," nodded the doctor. He was a tall, lanky man, in his sixties. His moustache covered most of his top lip, and his receding hairline revealed a birthmark blotching his head.
"I'm aware of the incident," said Hal. "Can we have a look at the footage of his apparent escape?"
How long had he festered in this cell? Sinestro lay on the dank mattress, and then gritted his teeth. He should kill himself. Better to end this now, than to be used again. What if Parallax comes back from whatever planetary escapades he's currently on, and despoils his mind again? What if he becomes a pawn once more?
"No," grunted Sinestro, as he clambered off the bunk. "The universe must be warned. Parallax must be stopped."
It took him three weeks. Three days, from that point on, without sleep, without rest, to break out of that cell. He was feverish, malnourished, with only a small supply of water sustaining him throughout his imprisonment. Another day of wandering to find an abandoned spacecraft in the wasteland he found himself upon. Where was he anyway?
Parallax had whisked him away to this place. For all he knew, he could be in the anti-matter universe, Sector -1, on Qward... but no, that didn't seem to be the place. Strange.
"Oh, God," whispered Sinestro. "How did I get away? He had me. He had me. Why... how...?"
"Maybe for sport," said Parallax, sat next to Sinestro. "Maybe I, the first and greatest of the Green Lanterns, am inept. Maybe I slaughtered the crew of this ship and wanted to see if you had what it took to survive."
Sinestro ignored the apparition.
"I'm going to go with sport."
"Shut up," replied Sinestro. "Be quiet."
"Maybe you're still in that cell. Rotting. But that would take an insanity I don't think you've hit yet. No. I'm going to go with sport."
"This is not a game!"
Parallax reclined in the seat, and put his feet up on the control panel. "For you, maybe not. For me... it's lots of things."
The footage played on the large green screen Guy had thought up. Alex Nero rocked back and forth in his cell.
"Nice digs," said Guy.
"Watch," said Hal.
The madman continued to rock backwards and forwards, muttering only to himself. But then, suddenly, as if someone had snapped his attention up-- Alex leaned forward... as if someone spoke to him, even though there was no one else in the room.
"You have to understand, our security system is rudimentary. We just need to know if our suicide watch patients are going to go over that line. So sound quality will never be that--"
"What the hell is that?" said Guy, as he magnified the image. A hand print began to sear itself onto Alex Nero's chest, and then the entire room went white in a horrific explosion. "Huh?"
"Play it again, Guy," said Hal, as his partner rewound the footage and played it again, this time in slow motion. "What in God's name is that?" Jordan straightened up. "I want to see the scene. Run diagnostic."
"The police have already--" started the doctor.
"We're more than police," said Guy, "forensic plus. Show us the scene."
--Sinestro leaped into the air to intercept Batman, his ring flaring, but a big green mallet smashed into him from above, sending him crashing back down. The Korugaran shook his head to clear it, glancing up in time to see Alan Scott float down in front of him, his arms crossed.
<--Green Lantern? Negative. Power ring point of origin... Classified>
“A power ring? Impossible!” Sinestro spat, wiping blood from his mouth. “I know that pathetic excuse for a Green Lantern of this sector, and you are not he.” He launched a yellow leonine construct at Alan, but the older man conjured an emerald baseball bat and knocked it aside.
“You’re right. You haven’t seen anything like me, yet.” Alan Scott jabbed out with his fist and sent a freight train careening at Sinestro.
<Fight and kill, Sinestro! Fight and kill!>
"Gnnnh," mumbled Sinestro. Hard-lined to hate, in those days. Fighting side-by-side with villains? What had he become?
"A monster. I make monsters, Sinestro. And if I can make a monster out of you, I wonder what else... who else... I can twist and shape into something new and horrible?"
"Why are you doing this to me?" asked Sinestro.
"...Because it's fun, Sinestro. So fun."
Nearby, Alan Scott punished Sinestro with volley after volley of green fire, the Korugaran hard-pressed to defend himself. The rogue Green Lantern was a master of his ring, and was doing things with it that most Green Lanterns would not have even attempted--- but nothing was working against this caped and garishly-garbed Earthman. Alan pressed a furious attack on his foe, under no false apprehension of just how dangerous Sinestro could be.
Rage swelled within Sinestro. He had never met his match before--- these Earthmen were just lucky! Marshaling his fury, he surged forward with a blitzkrieg assault, splintering the power of his will so that it came at this strange Green Lantern from all directions.
But Alan Scott knew how to face a blitzkrieg. Using his other arm to bolster his ring-hand, he enveloped himself in an impenetrable emerald sphere of pure Starheart--
<Incorrect assumption! Kill! Kill!>
--energy. Sinestro’s attack crashed in wave after wave over the sphere to no avail. Gritting his teeth, Alan expanded the sphere, dispersing Sinestro’s ringpower and pushing the Korugaran further and further back, until he was pinned between it and a crumbling wall…
Sinestro raged impotently, draining his reserves of energy and his will to assail this seemingly imperturbable foe. Alan gradually reversed his sphere, closing it around his enemy instead, cutting off his air supply just long enough to render him unconscious.
<This. Shall. Not. Do.>
"You made me commit acts of... you made me something awful for your own amusement? I have been twisted and splintered a thousand ways since first infection with Legion. My mind made to hurt and bleed. You made me-- dammit, 'for fun' doesn't cut it, you bastard!"
"Yes it does," replied Parallax, simply. "Because I was once the embodiment of power. The ultimate truth of this universe. And I'm going to unleash hell because the Guardians hurt me. They did the same to you, didn't they? You were stricken with Legion, thought dead, but they never thought to recover the body. Hal Jordan didn't help. Kilowog didn't help. You're the blight of the Green Lantern Corps. That's what you are."
"Through no choice of my own!"
"Exactly!" shrieked Parallax, as he grinned. Sinestro would be haunted by that look for the rest of his life. The way the creature writhed beneath his own skin, the way his black eyes bulged and his pointed teeth seized together. "The Guardians allowed my world to burn. And when I wanted the power to return it to it's former glory, they denied me! So I had to tear Oa asunder, searching for that power... burned their paradise to HELL because they spited me so, and then they imprisoned me in their Central Power Battery! No, no, no, no!" Parallax slammed his fist into the computer console, and it sparked and erupted with metal and energy.
"Naaarrhhh--!" shouted Sinestro in surprise. "You're here--!"
"Didn't you notice? I teleported when within range. Because I am that good." Parallax grabbed Sinestro by the throat, and the Korugaran strained under the grip of the monster. "I wanted you to feel fear, Sinestro. Because you're nothing now. No one will mourn you. No one will care. They already think you're dead."
"Not yet," growled Sinestro, as he grabbed the ring on Parallax's hand, and projected his will through it.
Parallax looked at his ring, and then to Sinestro, surprise in his eye. Energy began to throb from the center of the ring, and the creature grinned. "I didn't think you had it in you."
"You'd be surprised," whispered Sinestro, as the space ship exploded, leaving Parallax alone in the void of space, protected by his forcefield, nothing but debris and instantly dessicated blood and flesh floating nearby.
"Well, that's my fun done and done. On to the next phase in the future of the universe."
Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner were silent. The entire wing of the hospital was empty, the patients cleared out 'just-in-case', and as they silently padded through the corridors, the two of them couldn't help but feel somewhat unnerved. "What could cause an explosion like that? According to your mission logs, Alex was powerful because of Parallax. You don't think?"
"I pray it's not him," said Hal, matter-of-factly. "I fought Parallax. The first and worst Green Lantern. Pure evil. He's the one that gave Sinestro a power ring... but what if this is him? We'll need a full forensic sweep, download our data straight to the Guardians to analyze. This could be big. Bad big."
"Then let's get to work," said Guy, as they entered where the cell once was. Instead, the room was a void-- a perfect sphere removed from the immediate area, the smooth edges of what was once the room black, smooth and scorched. "Ring, forensic scan. The immediate area."
Hal's own ring went to work, and the duo continued their silence for a few minutes, before Jordan spoke up. "Your ring, Guy... that's not Sinestro, is it? Because my ring, the AI is Abin's persona. Kilowog told me that on receiving the ring, your personality is downloaded for future use. Weird, I know, but hey. But that's not Sinestro I hear when your ring speaks. It's distorted, but it's familiar. I don't know..."
"Eh," shrugged Guy, "doesn't matter. Not right now."
Hal looked at Guy for a moment, and then nodded slowly. "Alright, partner. I trust you."
Hal and Guy's ring spoke in unison: <Power signature does not match any recorded energy discharge recorded by the Book of Oa. Downloading intel to the Citadel.>
"Hurm," mumbled Hal. "Are there traces of Legion? Or anything that matches the recorded energy expenditure of Parallax? Even ambient signatures?"
<Negative,> replied the voice of Abin Sur. <All clear.>
"Weird £$%^," mumbled Guy. "So where's Alex Nero?"
<No trace on Earth. Scanning Sector 2814-->
"Wanna take bets on him not being anywhere near?" asked Guy. "The scan'll take a few, are we done here?"
Hal stared down at where Alex Nero would have been sat in his insanity induced stupor, and to where he would have been given the ring. Something itched at his mind, something familiar. What was it? The fact that Parallax was back? Maybe. "Yeah. Let's get out of here."
"Beautiful," said Sinestro, as he watched the sunrise over the recently excavated ruins that he'd located on Korugar. "Amazing, really."
"You're not wrong, Professor," replied one of the students who worked beneath him. "This is an amazing find. Soon, this lost city will be as it once was, as per your direction."
"Indeed it will." Sinestro leaned back, and breathed in. "Life is good." Barely a moment after that sentiment was expressed, his eyes opened wide. "Do you hear that?"
"Everyone-- Get down!" The dig team took cover as a green and yellow ball of swirling light careened into the desert, sending up a pillar of dust and sand that swept their way. Sinestro stood and stared as the dust rushed past him, unable to catch a glimpse of the chaos that was unravelling nearby. "God!" whispered Sinestro, "what is... oh, no," he continued, "a Green Lantern?"
The professor grabbed a excavation laser, and turned to his students. "Call the authorities. Let them know a Green Lantern has touched down, tell them to keep clear!"
"What about you, Professor?" asked another one of his students.
"He might need help!" replied Sinestro, as he vanished into the dust wall. It was mere moments before something hit him-- a blast of light, it surrounded him, protected him from the dust, and then seconds later, Sinestro saw the source-- an emerald ring had slipped itself onto his finger.
<Sinestro of Korugar (of Sector 1417) you have the ability to overcome great fear.>
<Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps>
The ring exploded with light, and Sinestro's clothing was transformed into the Green Lantern flight suit-- "What?!" repeated Sinestro.
"I... have journeyed... far... to kill Prohl Gosgotha..." said a voice, growling in the darkness created by the sandstorm that was beginning to intensify. "And now... you are the Green Lantern?"
"I don't understand," said Sinestro, trying to discern the origin of the voice, "I don't know what's--" The professor was backhanded across the desert, purple blood spraying from his mouth. "Hhhggg," cried out Sinestro. He looked around, and realised he was in the city he had discovered mere hours before. "Oh, no."
"I am Klaah, Weaponer of Qward! Trained in ultimate Green Lantern destruction! Let me show you." The man, clad entirely in gold, drew a lightning bolt from a quiver on his back. He threw his arm back, and Sinestro thought fast-- a green hand grabbed a pillar from nearby and placed it between the bolt and himself. He knew of the weaknesses that Green Lanterns suffered-- to yellow-- and that lightning bolt sure did fit the bill. "Smart. A challenge! Aha!" bellowed the Weaponer. "
"You need to leave this place," said Sinestro, trying his best to intimidate the villain, but what chance did he have? He wasn't a Green Lantern. No, he told himself, but you can think your way out of anything. That's what your professor always told you. Any problem, you know a way out. Don't give up. You can survive anything. "Right now!"
"I don't think I will," replied Klaah, "I was sent here to kill, and two for the price of one? A veteran and a rookie to boot? I could chase that ring from planet to planet, from bearer to bearer. How exciting does that sound?"
Sinestro didn't reply. His ring was going to work. He stretched his imagination, and captured the sandstorm in a massive sphere. Then he dropped it straight onto Klaah, who's rantings fell silent. Every step forward that Klaah took, the sandstorm came with him, and Sinestro's eyes widened as the lost city was torn to shreds by his own actions. A necessary loss, he told himself, concentrate on the end result.
Ducking and dodging stray lightning bolts thrown by the blind Klaah, he thought about hands grabbing more pillars, a dozen hands for a dozen monuments to a lost civilisation, and he dragged them up from the desert, and then dissipated the bubble he had Klaah in.
"Hello," he said, before going about his attack-- pounding Klaah senseless with the large stone objects. The yellow armour cracked and buckled, until it was beaten plain off the villain, and then, exposed and with wide, bug eyes open, he began to beg for his life. "You're under arrest," said Sinestro, "for the murder of a member of the Green Lantern Corps."
...You can think your way out of anything. That's what your professor always told you. Any problem, you know a way out. Don't give up. You can survive anything.
Annual #2: "The Rise and Fall of Sinestro"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
With thanks to Brian Burchette, Dave Charlton and Scott Kruger.
Cover by Mark Saxton
Edited by Don Walsh
Annual #2: "The Rise and Fall of Sinestro"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
With thanks to Brian Burchette, Dave Charlton and Scott Kruger.
Cover by Mark Saxton
Edited by Don Walsh
Because there are so many references to previous issues, asterisks would just get messy, so instead, here are the footnotes. Enjoy!
(1) Green Lantern #3
(2) Green Lantern Corps: Liberation #5
(3) Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1
(4) Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #4
(5) Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #10
(6) Green Lantern #1
(7) Green Lantern #2
(8) Justice League Annual #1, finale of the Justice League Versus America event.