V2 #8 (48): Love Burns (Wilkins / Joutel) Oct 1, 2013 14:46:55 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Oct 1, 2013 14:46:55 GMT -5
PREVIOUSLY IN GREEN LANTERN...
And then the stars went out.
The universe hasn't grasped what that means yet.
Earth has yet to feel the full impact (but come morning...)
Oh, they'll turn back on, but by then, how many civilisations devastated?
How many worlds irrevocably turned upside down?
The culprit? Evil Star. Duplicating the ancient Oan experiment once performed by Krona that created the Anti-Matter universe.
Bet you didn't see that coming...
Meanwhile, Guy Gardner has gone completely insane.
On the topic of Hal Jordan, he came face-to-face with his doppelganger from the future, and promptly induced severe brain damage that took this future 'Parallax' out of the game.
Then Guy Gardner killed the future Parallax.
Talk about a rough night.
Now, Guy Gardner has Hal Jordan in his sights... but who should appear?
Sinestro is back. And he's a Green Lantern again.
And did you read that sequence where Kyle Rayner became a White Lantern?
What was up with that?!
I'm afraid you won't find out this issue....
Issue Eight (48): "Love Burns"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
Covered by Jf Joutel
Sector 0 - Oa:
"How many dead?" growled Salaak, roaming the halls of the Citadel, followed closely by the tentacled Protocol Lantern Shorm. He clutched his head, a large contusion formed due to the height he had fallen when his own power ring had cut out. He was struggling to maintain his concentration, so using his ring would have been haphazard at best, even if he had a charge.
"We don't have a full count, Salaak. The rings... they've not located new recruits, they've just... died. So the count... there is no count..."
Salaak cursed in the language of his people. The first time he had done so since he was a child. "How many Green Lanterns are active as of now. Give me a count of charged rings!"
"I can't tell you that," said Shorm, "ring-to-ring communication is down. The Central Power Battery is dead. We're working off stored charge in the portable Power Batteries."
"So when we run out of charge in our portable Power Batteries..." started Salaak.
"Our rings will be dead, with no way to recharge," finished Shorm.
"My God," whispered Salaak. "We need to locate all portable Power Batteries. Anyone who has an active ring must begin pulling them from their dimensional rifts. And then we have to think of a way to spark the Central Power Battery... and fortify Oa in the face of a pending Red Lantern attack..." He gripped the sides of his elongated head and winced. "God..."
"You need to see a medic, Salaak," said Shorm. "You're no good to us banged up like this. Let's get your head straight and then come up with a plan."
"You're right," said Salaak. "But there are others who require medical attention more so than I." The two Lanterns reached the outside, and Salaak's expression darkened. There were hundreds of bodies littering the streets of Oa. Dead rings on dead Lanterns. The injuries varied. Broken limbs, bruises, fractures, they ran the whole gamut. Wandering amongst the wounded were Star Sapphires, searching for their fallen brothers and sisters.
They were in the shadow of a dead Central Power Battery. The light of the Green Lantern Corps had gone out. And, further away across the city of Oa, so had the light of the Star Sapphire Corps.
"What if it happens again?" Salaak asked himself. "Damnation! We can't risk the lives of any more Lanterns!"
"We can't communicate via the rings, Salaak, how do you suggest we get the message out?" asked Shorm.
"We have Lanterns capable of hacking the media channels, all frequencies. Get the message out, Shorm. As of now, space travel is now off limits to all Green Lanterns."
"But if we tell the universe we're grounded..."
"Then we must get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later, Shorm." Salaak sighed. "Get to work."
Salaak looked around, and felt fear rise up inside him for the first time in a long time. He feared for the survival of the Green Lantern Corps. And he feared for Arisia Rrab, who he had not seen since her debrief mere hours earlier.
Salaak approached one of the Star Sapphires, and knelt beside her as she tended to a wounded Green Lantern. Her hand was on the shoulder of the Lantern, her ring throbbing as light passed from her to him.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"We can heal your wounded," said the Sapphire, as her black hair began to fade slightly. "No fear."
"You're using up your charge," said Salaak.
"We have no charge," said the Star Sapphire, her hair now grey, her skin now sagging. "Without the Central Power Battery, we only have our hearts."
"What?" said Salaak.
The Star Sapphire smiled and then stumbled, falling toward Salaak. He caught her, just as the Green Lantern at their feet began to stir, the wounds across his chest and heads healed, only purple blood to suggest there was ever any damage. "O-our rings rely on great l-love..." she whispered. "Stored within our C-Central Power B-battery. Without it, we use our own h-hearts... until it can b-be re-recharged..." The Star Sapphire passed out and Salaak held her, then looked up at the Green Lantern who was now standing, dazed but alive.
"W-what happened Lantern Salaak?" he asked.
Salaak said nothing. The Star Sapphire he held was barely breathing, and each breathe she took was a bone rattling reminder of her new found frailty.
"No good bastard!" screamed Guy Gardner, careening into Sinestro. "You're not welcome here, you sonofabitch!"
Sinestro rolled with the punches, his constructs impacting with Gardner's own, rendering them useless. He said nothing, content to fight, to concentrate, and now get involved in useless banter. There would be time later for discourse. Time when Guy Gardner's mouth would be shut through action or agreement. Right now though? Without letting his thoughts wander, Sinestro preferred the idea of the former.
"You were a weakling before my time, and you're a weakling now! Always someone's patsy, never the Lantern you shoulda' been!"
Below them, John Stewart approached Hal Jordan. "Jordan, are you all right?"
"What's wrong with Guy?" asked Hal, watching the battle above them.
"According to the folks back on Oa he's been acting weird since the Predator attack. Came out of his coma with a chip on his shoulder and a bad attitude. I didn't think twice about it, I've seen it before back when I was with the Marine Corps. PTSD. But this isn't that, it's obvious now..."
"The constructs, they're oscillating with a different band of energy... it's violet, just like..." Hal swallowed hard. "Just like the Predator's."
"You don't think--?" started Stewart.
"I don't know, but don't worry about me, take Gardner down." Jordan headed for cover, and Stewart flew up to fight side-by-side with Sinestro.
Hal grunted, regretting giving up the infinite power Parallax had given him mere minutes earlier. But he knew that when it came to the Green Lantern Corps, there was only so much you could do, only so much power you could wield, and sometimes wishes didn't come true... he prayed for Stewart, and he prayed for Sinestro.
"uuuuuf," Boodika rubbed her eyes, and shivered, a layer of snow having fallen over her prone body while she was rendered unconscious. She looked down at her civilian clothes, and at her broken leg. She winced in pain then, at the realisation, and then began to worry. Where were her comrades?
"Boodika?" Isamot hurried toward her. "Are you-- ah, damn!"
Boodika looked down at her collar, and at the universal translator she had worn since she first left her home planet of Bellatrix and travelled from sector to sector with her mercenary sisters. "It's not as bad as it looks," she said. "Where's Vath?"
"I don't know," said Isamot. "When our rings went dead he was pulled in another direction. At least we were close to the ground when we fell..."
"Our rings protected us as much as they could," said Boodika. She tapped the ring, and saw that it was dead. "Empty. Have you tried summoning your portable Battery?"
"No luck," said Isamot, shrugging. "With no charge I can't complete the circuit, can't open the dimensional portal."
"We need to find Vath," said Boodika, pulling herself up. She tried to put weight on her leg. It hurt like hell, but she could walk. "Which direction did he fall in?"
Isamot pointed east. He moved his arm under Boodika's, and supported her. "Remind me to carry my Lantern with me at all times."
"You and me both," said Boodika through gritted teeth.
The Weaponeers of Qward that scurried around the dismantled Manhunter unit talked in a language Hank Henshaw could only describe as static. White noise, maybe. They clicked and buzzed, talking quickly, without pause. The other Manhunter units had not noticed the absence of their brother, but Henshaw didn't know how long that would last.
Mongul leaned against the wall of his cell, his thick, yellow hands pushed up against the cold, rocky surface. "Brothers," he whispered, "have you thought about changing the subroutines used to patrol the corridors?"
A Weaponeer looked up, his large, wide-eyes wild after such a long time spent in captvivity. "sssssssssssssWhat?"
"The Manhunters patrol and guard because we are classified as Inversions," said Mongul. "But what if the priority of the Manhunters were not the assorted enemies of the Corps down below, but those up above?"
The Weaponeer looked down at his brethren, toward the wall where Mongul's voice was coming from, and then back at the dismantled unit.
<No. Inversion. TALKS,> said a Manhunter as it passed Mongul's cell. Whatever the Weaponeers had done, their cell was a black spot, no information getting in, none getting out.
Mongul raised his hands, nodded, smiled. He turned his head toward the Weaponeer's cell. "Enemies of the Corps that were the Corps, perhaps..."
"Do you know who I am?" spat Guy, sending John faltering back with a well-placed construct to the chest. "I'm an Honour Lantern! I'm the best of the best! You're a rookie and a traitor, that's who you are! You're nothing compared to me!"
"Keep telling yourself that," replied John. He wiped blood from his lip and glanced at Sinestro.
"Less talk," said Sinestro, instructing the younger Lantern. "Concentrate."
"Oh, class is in session, is it?" snarled Guy. "Let me teach you a lesson in pain!"
Sinestro arched an eyebrow and then blinked, and on cue a massive blast of energy sent Guy falling to the ground. The energy had erupted from Sinestro's ring without any fanfare, simply emerging, exploding, and sending the corrupt Honour Lantern head over heel to the floor.
Gardner screamed, and his whole body flexed, twisted, as if something was trying to climb out of his back.
Sinestro landed in front of Gardner. "You've been compromised, Guy."
"I am in COMPLETE control!" screamed Guy.
"Listen to yourself," said Sinestro. Guy sent a construct hurtling at Sinestro-- it split into a thousand razor sharp pieces before impact but Sinestro caught every shard of energy with his ring and absorbed it into his own aura. "Remember what it felt like to be infected with Legion? How every one of your thoughts was twisted until you felt like the monster you had become was a natural change?"
"NO!" said Guy, climbing to his feet and diving for Sinestro. The Korugar native twisted and Gardner fell flat on his face, kicking up dust on impact. "It's me, I'm me, always been me, always been like this..."
"No, you weren't," said Hal, approaching tentatively. John floated nearby, projecting an invisible force field in front of the former Green Lantern. "I've been there too, Guy. I know that every decision I made under the influence of Legion was the best decision I thought I could make at the time, but that was Legion perverting my thoughts. Whatever's got it's hooks in you is doing the same thing."
"You betrayed me," said Guy, thick, black veins reaching up from his throat to his face. His eyes were glowing violet. "Left me to die at the hands of Mongul. He put a hole in my chest, right--" he pointed at the Green Lantern insignia on his uniform, above his heart, "here!"
"No, I didn't," said Hal. "I was in lockdown on Oa. And Hank Henshaw was the one that Mongul murdered. And he came back thanks to that bastard Predator. And I'm thinking it's the Predator that's whispering in your ear right now."
"N-no!" said Guy, clutching his head. "You betrayed me, you're the monster. You can't even keep your daughter safe. You can't even save your family!"
Sinestro felt something twitch in his heart.
Hal swallowed and pushed the rising heat of his sadness down. "You're right. I couldn't--"
"And now you'll die for it--!"
Guy propelled himself at Hal, murderous rage behind those cold, black eyes. His ring was spurting violet energy now, crystalline constructs were growing out from it, coating his arms.
You can't talk someone down from insanity, Sinestro said to himself. He whispered something into his ring, and his uniform vanished. Nearby, John landed softly, his own uniform receding instantly. Guy suddenly lost all propulsion as his ring died.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" shrieked Guy.
"Deactivated our power rings," said Sinestro in faltering English, taught to him by Kyle Rayner. "If you want to kill Hal Jordan, you are going to have to accept that you are this... 'Predator', Guy. Can you do that?"
John moved in front of Hal. "Are you sure this is such a...?"
"This is not how it should be," said Guy. "I just want... want this noise to stop..." He looked at Hal, violet veins intertwining with the black under his skin. "If I kill you it'll stop." His ring flared, re-energised by his own infernal energies, and he screamed a blood curdling sound and made one last move toward Hal.
Sinestro caught him by the leg with a construct and sent him flying into a rocky outcrop. "As if I deactivated my ring too."
"How did you even manage that?" asked John.
"I will show you one day, John Stewart. But you don't get to live as long as I do in the Corps without learning a few tricks. Ready yourself."
Sinestro reactivated John's ring, and the two men prepped for what would come next.
Guy was pulling himself up, his uniform now nearly completely transformed into something resembling the armour the Predator wore when it inhabited Hank Henshaw's body. "If I kill you Highball, the pain will go away."
"Yeah, probably," said Hal. "But for you? Probably not."
Guy blinked. Something crackled behind him. He turned at the last minute, and was engulfed in a crystalline construct. Kelso Noss and Jela Karom of the Star Sapphire Corps had thrown up a construct to capture Gardner, and he was now frozen in place, his face twisted into an expression of pure rage.
"Who are you?" asked John.
"They're good," said Arisia Rrab, approaching quickly. Her ring was dead, but she was smiling, happy to see Hal Jordan after so long.
"Arisia?" said Hal in surprise. "How did you get here?"
"You left your space ship on Oa," said Arisia. "You remember the Interceptor?" She motioned up in the sky as an emerald spacecraft de-cloaked.
"What have you do to Gardner?" Sinestro asked the Star Sapphires.
"We have suspected Gardner of being possessed by the Predator creature for some time, but have not been able to get close enough to truly know. None the less, we have put plans in place." Noss turned to Arisia. "We need to extract the entity."
"How can you do that?" asked Hal. "I had to absorb it into my ring last time, and it broke it completely. And how do we know this is the end of it?"
The construct around Guy cracked, and Hal jumped back in shock. He swore under his breath for being so anxious.
"The Predator infected Gardner as a way of preserving itself in case of it's demise while inside Hank Henshaw," said Kelso. "It laid it's eggs in Guy's heart. He is an angry, lonely man, and it had all the sustenance it needed. We need to remove it now, Arisia."
Arisia approached the construct, and removed her glove. Guy thrashed inside the construct.
"What are they doing?" asked John.
"I do not know," replied Sinestro.
"The Predator is love, corrupted. The only thing that can truly remove the Predator is uncorrupted love," said Kelso.
Arisia blushed. "Gods, tell everyone."
"I do not understand," said Sinestro.
"I'll tell you one day," said Stewart.
Arisia plunged her hand through the construct and straight into Guy's chest, the air around her wrist bubbling with violet light. Guy screamed and the crystalline construct shattered. The two of them fell to their knees, but Arisia pushed deeper, searching for the thing that had corrupted Guy Gardner's soul. Something pulled at her. She nearly lost her grip, but she held tight. Whatever it was didn't want out, and Guy's body was trying desperately to fight her off. John and Sinestro dove in to restrain Guy as Arisia searched for the Predator entity.
"I-I think I've got it--" said Arisia.
Arisia withdrew her hand, clutching at a malformed, baby-sized creature that billowed up outside Gardner's body. Arisia was pushed back by the growth spurt. Before she could be crushed, the Star Sapphires caught her in a construct and whisked her back. Sinestro pulled Guy away, and the gathered humans and aliens watched as the creature that had been expunged from Gardner's body grew larger and larger until it was bigger than a building.
"Oh, damn," said Ariisa.
"Yeah, I don't know if this was such a good idea," said John Stewart.
"WHY DO YOU NOT LET ME COMPLETE MY MISSION IN LIFE," snapped the Predator, it's voice like razor blades on glass. "IF YOU CANNOT SAVOUR LOVE IT MUST BE TAKEN FROM YOU. YOU MUST BE PUNISHED. THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT DESERVE THE LOVE IT SO FREELY GIVES."
"That's not for you to decide," said Kelso, looking up at the entity. "But you can learn, you can--" The Predator drove a claw through Kelso's torso before anyone could move to stop it. "Ggggukkk!"
Jela Karom screamed in terror at the sight before her. "Noss!"
"I WON'T GO BACK IN THE CAGE," shrieked the entity, "I WON'T GO BACK IN THE BATTERY!"
"Y-you'll do as you're told," said Guy Gardner, pulling himself to his feet, supported by Arisia. "Bad dog."
"YOU ARE A BROKEN, DAMAGED THING, GUY GARDNER. ABUSED. HATED. DESPISED BY YOUR FAMILY. INCAPABLE OF LOVE!"
"Yeah, yeah, we'll see," said Guy, glancing down at Arisia. He held up the portable Power Battery he had rescued from Ferris Air. "In Brightest Day--"
Arisia held up her ring hand. "In Blackest Night--"
John Stewart felt a smile form on his lips. "--No Evil Shall Escape My Light--"
Pride rose up in Sinestro. He was back. He was home. "--Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might--"
Hal Jordan looked up from where he was kneeling beside Kelso Noss, calming Jela Karom as she used her ring to put pressure on the wound and talking her through the healing processes a ring was capable of on the fly.
He said nothing.
The Green Lanterns spoke in unison, the final verse ringing out across the desert plains on the outskirts of Coast City. "GREEN LANTERN'S LIGHT!"
The Predator reeled back, but before the Green Lanterns could begin their attack, the sky was stained crimson, and a scarlet barrage of energy rained down on them. They threw up shields to protect themselves, and the Predator vanished with a snap and a pop, removing itself from the battlefield.
"Holy--" started Guy, clutching his chest.
Atrocitus laughed metallically through his ring all the while as he descended upon the Earth. <All the Earth Lanterns gathered in one place. How grateful I am for you to put your heads on the chopping block for me, Hal Jordan.>
"Who the hell is this guy?" asked Hal.
"Long story," said Arisia, "but he's bad news.
"And he's got a Corps to back that bad news up," said Guy.
<I had feared Parallax had come here to warn you,> said Atrocitus, <but that coward is nowhere to be found.>
"That's him over there," said Hal, pointing to the scorched earth where his future self had been immolated by Guy. "Job done, go home."
<My... 'job' is done?> said Atrocitus, <MY JOB WILL BE DONE WHEN THE WORLD IS FREE OF YOUR STAIN, HAL JORDAN!>
"This doesn't sound like it's going to be settled over a cup of coffee," whispered John.
"Get Jordan out of here," said Sinestro, directing the instruction at Guy. "Get him to Oa."
"I ain't going anywhere," said Guy. "These mooks need a beating more than anything that's ever lived."
"We're vastly outnumbered," said Sinestro, "their constructs burn away our own."
"Kill me," said Hal, stepping forward toward Atrocitus.
<--Sinestro - Patient Zero of Legion Virus. Threat // High,> intoned the Manhunter unit, it's voice box a dismantled shell but still articulate enough to buzz away with more information about it's new programming. <Hank Henshaw - Possessed by energy form designate 'Predator'. Threat // High-->
Mongul grinned. "Good, good."
"I'm right here," said Henshaw, from within his cell. "If you want to kill me, do it yourself, Mongul."
<No. Man // kssszzzt // Inversion,> stuttered a patrolling Manhunter, <No Man Esssssss-caaaaaapesssss.>
"You're nothing," said Mongul. "Powerless. Trapped. I want the Manhunters gone from here. Easier to escape if there are no guards. They will look for power, Henshaw. There is no power here."
"Speak for yourself," said the human.
The Manhunter continued it's patrol, ignoring the discourse between Henshaw and Mongul. <No In In Inversion Escapes.>
"Have you ever seen a Manhunter attack?" asked Mongul. "Have you seen how they work?"
"Yeah, actually," said Henshaw. "I put them down a couple of years back. Helped reignite the Central Power Battery. So really, screw you, with your intonations and bullshit."
Mongul leaned back, and smiled. "When the wardens are gone, I will enjoy killing you."
"Mongul?" One of the Weaponeers pulled itself out of the static language of weaponising, and pushed itself against the wall. "We have projected this unit's programming across the prison, but there is nothing in range to trigger a reaction. No threat for the Manhunters to change their priorities for. Even we cannot change how the Manhunters designate their enemies. Not without a full lab, not without our tools... but we have changed what we can, so if--"
Mongul knocked twice on the wall and then headed back to his bunk. "Soon. Soon we shall see. If I know one thing of Earth Lanterns, they never stay out of a ruckus for too long. Hal Jordan shall return to Oa, and with him, whoever wields Hank Henshaw's power ring. Manhunters are simple machines with simple wants. They'll tear their way up out of this prison and then we shall become the wardens." He looked over to Henshaw. "Then we shall dance, Hank."
"I look forward to it," said Hank.
He was smiling.
For a good reason, too.
<No Man Escapes The Manhunters.>
"Highball!" spluttered Guy, reaching out to his old air pilot comrade.
"If it ends this, then kill me," said Hal. "I've hidden from the world for long enough."
"Not yet," whispered John Stewart's ring.
He cursed it's interruption, vowing to return to Oa for an overhaul of it's programming.
Atrocitus' nostrils flared. <You mock my cause?>
"No," growled Hal. "If you take me, if you kill me, whatever suffering you experienced at the hands of that patch of burnt sand over there is removed from existence, isn't it? For sure. For definite. I don't believe I'd ever be capable of becoming that monster, but if it ends this needless conflict, then kill me!"
Sinestro held Guy back. "What're you doing, Sinestro?"
"He is a grown man," said Thaal. "Old enough to make his own informed decisions."
Sinestro's ring was scanning Hal as he knelt before Atrocitus' army.
<These are not the actions of Parallax,> said Atrocitus, almost confused.
"Don't think about it," said Hal. "Just do what needs doing to end this war."
Atrocitus landed beside Jordan and raised his ring-wielding hand up. A scarlet scythe formed, blazing in the light of the midnight skies. <Any last words?>
"Jordan," said Sinestro, slowly.
Hal turned his lowered head toward Sinestro. "What is it?"
"Your daughter is alive."
The scythe swung down and Atrocitus roared. He looked at where Hal Jordan should have been and saw that the former Green Lantern was absent. <What treachery?>
"My daughter is alive?" said Hal, scrambling up from the desert floor having narrowly dodged Atrocitus' blade.
"Safe with Katma Tui's sister at one of your Earth hospitals," said Sinestro.
Hal opened his hand up to the air and concentrated. Atrocitus growled and trudged toward him angrily.
Flakes of emerald light began to fly into Jordan's palm. Tiny, nearly infinitesimal blades of energy. He closed his fist. Pointed a finger at Atrocitus.
"Extenuating circumstances, I'm afraid," said Jordan.
On Hal's finger was a power ring. Formed from the broken shards that had been scattered to the winds in Coast City nearly a year ago, when his ring had shattered while facing Hank Henshaw. The ring still contained the charge that had filled it during that fateful battle against a Predator-possessed Hank Henshaw. You could see the seams where it had been sewn back together with sheer willpower.
It was an old, broken thing. It was Hal Jordan's. He wore his flight suit. He wore the uniform of a Green Lantern. His beard was gone. His hair cut short. Even the grey of his temples was gone.
Hal Jordan was back.
<Wait,> said Atrocitus, coming to a standstill and raising his hand, allowing the scythe to fade away. <Thaal Sinestro, Hal Jordan's daughter lives?>
"Yes," said Sinestro, "she was cast into a void by the Predator and caught by the Torchbearer."
<This is not the history of my world,> said Atrocitus.
The Red Lantern Corps buzzed overhead, unsure of what their next action would be.
Hal Jordan took a step forward toward Atrocitus. "Are you... are you sure this is your timeline?"
Atrocitus' chest puffed up. <We used Parallax's own Anti-Matter engine!>
"Oh, no," said Hal. "That isn't a time travel device. It's a reality jumper. You haven't travelled back in time. You've journeyed across dimensions."
<That is not possible,> said Atrocitus, <it was built to journey back to save your daughter. A time travel device.>
"Why would I..." Hal wracked his brains, trying to understand why his future self would make such a mad decision. Then it dawned on him. The simple truth. "I was insane. I was insane with grief. I... I must have... I don't know. I don't know why I made that decision, but it was madness."
Atrocitus didn't understand. <You are deceiving me.>
"No, I'm not!" said Hal. "I was mad, I had lost my daughter, and from what I've seen, heard, experienced, events were different in your reality! I didn't leave the Corps! I stole the energies of the Central Power Battery! I never did any of those things here!"
"I'm itching to break some heads over here," whispered Guy.
"Patience, Guy," said Arisia. "This is Jordan's play."
"His 'play'? Where'd you hear lingo like that, Arisia?"
Arisia looked at Guy and shook her head exasperatedly. "From you, you big dummy."
<The Green Lantern Corps is a deceitful militant force,> said Atrocitus. <It breeds liars and it breeds monsters in equal measure. How many threats to the universe have been borne from the Corps? Legion. Parallax. Predator. Krona. Manhunters. Controllers. The Effigy Corps.>
"Nero," whispered John at the mention of the Effigy Corps, clenching his fist.
"Effigy Corps? Damned time travel..." cursed Sinestro.
Arisia shook her head violently. "You talk about all the threats, but what about the good we've done? All the time we've saved the universe from falling over the brink into oblivion? You've come here, to this time period, killed hundreds, maybe thousands, and you think you can explain it away with a speech? Damn you, Atrocitus! Damn you!"
<Thousands... dead?> said Atrocitus slowly. He began to smile. <Thank you Arisia Rrab. You have sealed the fate of the Green Lantern Corps. Red Lanterns... we take the battle to Oa!>
Arisia watched as the Red Lantern Corps ascended without another word, headed back into space. "Oh. Oh, no."
"Highball!" barked Gardner, surging forward. "That Interceptor of yours, it's faster than subluminal, isn't it?"
"Yes," said Jordan, rubbing his ring. "It's a zero-point engine, faster than anything."
"...Then we can beat the Red Lanterns to Oa," said Arisia, picking up on where Gardner was going.
"You're damn right," said Gardner. "Hey, Saph, how's Noss?"
"She's holding on," said Karom.
"Oa," said Sinestro, somewhat in awe.
"It's been a while, yeah?" said Gardner. "No time like the present. C'mon, we've gotta get a move on."
"What about the Predator?" asked Stewart.
"If we don't stop the Red Lantern Corps, there ain't gonna be anybody alive to stop it in the future. We gotta' pick our battles, Johnny."
The Green Lanterns piled into the Interceptor, Noss carefully placed on a gurney and put into suspended animation until they could get to medical facilities.
Hal Jordan was looking out across the skyline of Coast City, finger to his ear.
"You comin', Jordan?" asked Gardner.
"My daughter's alive!" bellowed Jordan. He looked back at the skyline. "I need to make sure there's a universe worth living in now that she's back." He shot up to the ship and headed for the flight controls. "Buckle up, Lanterns. I'm betting none of you have ever flown with me." He leaned back and looked at the passengers. "You'd remember."
Gardner smiled. Not only was he thinking straight for the first time in nearly a year, but Hal Jordan was back. There would be time to celebrate later. First, they had a war to win.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT TIME IN GREEN LANTERN: "CHAOS RISES"
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