#22 (33): Infect, Pt. 2 (Wilkins / Saxton) Nov 17, 2009 18:10:14 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Nov 17, 2009 18:10:14 GMT -5
Two minutes ago:
The black unmarked limousine pulled up in front of the Coast City apartment block slowly, and the driver, dressed entirely in black, turned to the passenger. "Is this the place, Ma'am?"
"It is indeed," replied the woman, as she laid her hand lightly upon her swollen belly. "Ouff."
Chloe Sullivan looked up at the driver, and smiled. "The baby's kicking."
Issue Twenty-Two: "Infect"
Part Two (of Three): "Wire in the Blood"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
Cover by Mark Saxton
Edited by Don Walsh
Emerald and gold light clashed high above the skies of Coast City. Green Lantern ring versus Legion virus-infected Green Lantern ring-- the latter drained of it's usual green hue and rendered yellow-- were flashing constructs up into existence and back out again.
Hal kept his distance-- Guy's ring was Patient Zero for a pathogen that was transferred through power rings, and if the two connected... Hal pushed the thought to the back of his mind, and kept his defenses up. His will was strong-- stray thoughts turned to condensation on impact with the sheer heat of his focus, and battering rams of energy connected with Gardner, sending his old rival hurtling back.
"Hhhrrr," grunted Guy, ribs caving in as he spun backward. His yellow ring pierced his flesh, and blood dribbled down his flight jacket. He was being healed-- brutally-- and he didn't seem to care about the pain he must be in. "Nahhh."
Green Lantern brought his ring up. Legion had him. Guy Gardner was no more. "One last warning, Gardner. Power down your ring."
"You know I can't do that, Highball. Gonna' have to kill you, see how that makes me feel instead--!"
"I don't think so," replied Hal, a green gatling gun forming in mid air before him. "Sorry, Gardner." And with that, he let rip, emerald salvos of energy erupting forward, pushing the Yellow Lantern back.
Two minutes ago:
Chloe Sullivan climbed the stairwell up to Hal Jordan's apartment. She remembered the route well. As she reached the door, and rapped her knuckle against the warm timber-- she hesitated, and pulled her side-arm. Explosions were echoing out up above, and she could hear them as clear as day, even though there was another two floors above.
"Guy, I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to help you. Whether you want me to or not."
Chloe felt her belly, cringed, and then slowly opened the unlocked door-- to find that all the floors that led up to the roof of Hal Jordan's apartment had been blown clear through and then off, and up above, two energy wielding warriors-- both of whom she recognised, one being Hal Jordan, the man she had come all this way to see; the other, the AWOL, presumed-dead Guy Gardner-- were clashing. "Holy..." She pressed a button on her beeper, and the small radio in her ear sparked into use. "We've got a Code Green. Unidentified energy wielding customer flying high over Coast City... and Green Lantern is on the scene. What's the word?" She was waddling down the stairwell as fast as she could, cursing herself. She couldn't afford to be here. She couldn't afford to catch a stray energy blast, or fall underneath rubble. She had more than herself to care for now.
"Director Sullivan," came the voice on the other side of the phone, "Coast City PD, with the help of STAR Labs, have information on the event taking place. DEO units on route. Orders?"
"Secure a perimeter, we know how these fights go, and I'm not willing... hhggg..." She doubled over, and the chaffeur to her car went to catch her. "S'nothing, s'nothing, God," she put her hand to her ear, "I'm not willing to sign any of our guys' death warrants. Green Lantern can handle this." Chloe closed the line. "I know he can."
* * *
Guy Gardner was laughing. Even as his flesh creased and burst, he laughed. "I can't feel nothin'." He looked at his hands, blood dribbling down his black-veined fingers, his yellow ring pulsating with power, and then past the golden haze, and to his attacker.
"I'm trying," Guy screamed at his ring, before levelling it down at Hal Jordan. "Die, mother£$%^er, die!"
Hal Jordan made a terrible mistake. His ring whispered the locations of civilians all around directly into his ear, and calculated energy yields he could release without endangering him, and then his ring buzzed, and Abin Sur's voice said, with a hint of surprise, that Hal's progeny was nearby. He looked down to see Chloe Sullivan, her swollen belly obvious to all around, being ushered back into an unmarked vehicle.
Hal's concentration wavered--
--And the golden spear shattered his rib, his lung bursting as the weapon worked it's way all the way through his back. "--NAAHHHHHHH!"
You're rusty, Highball," gloated Guy, as he walked through midair toward his foe, "I actually feel kinda sorry for you."
"Oh, for... for... crying out loud..." Hal spluttered, globules of blood dripped from his lips, "go £$%^ yourself, Guy." His ring was working in overdrive to patch up his wounds, but the construct jutting through his body refused to evaporate, and as such, his lung was constantly healing and then being torn again. Hal could barely focus through the pain, he could barely think to remove the spear, but his trembling hand attempted to work it out his back. "... suh... seriously..."
"Your concentration is wavering." Guy pushed Hal's hand away from the spear, and grabbed it himself, yanking it upwards, causing Hal to cry out in pain. "Your shield is flickering on and off. I bet you didn't even think to charge your ring before you headed out into space to see my little diversion. And now you can't think straight."
"Hhhff..." Hal swung hard with his right, but Gardner lazily dodged the blow, and grabbed Hal's ring bearing fist.
Guy shoved his ring against Hal's, and an explosion of golden light enveloped the two men. "No..." Hal's ring was suddenly shifting from green to yellow and back again, his willpower battling the infection he thought he'd destroyed years back, but had now returned with a vengeance. "Nuhhh..." Thick black and yellow veins began to spread from Hal's shifting ring, his blood being poisoned by the influence of Legion, his body being converted into that of a weapon of ultimate destruction. Guy, on the other hand, appeared to be having a seizure, his body suddenly going limp, and his ring's charge dying within seconds. The former top pilot fell to the concrete below, and bounced off the hood of a parked car, lying broken on the Coast City street below.
"I... I..." Hal stuttered, "can... can fight thisssss." He dropped to the ground, away from Guy Gardner, and doubled over, his fists pressed against the cold concrete. His uniform shifted from green to yellow, and then, he slowly looked up with a burning intensity in his eyes. His skin was pale. Black veins pulsated underneath his flesh. His ring was no longer emerald green, but golden yellow. "Right then." He stood up, and looked to the sky. "Oa, here I come."
Chloe Sullivan's car drove up to STAR Labs' Coast City division;she and her driver disembarked and hurried into the building. A security guard rushed up to them, but Chloe held her badge up to the man. "Department of Extraordinary Operations. The past half an hour would count as extraordinary, don't you think? I'm Director Sullivan, and I'm looking for Carol Ferris." The guard nodded, and lead the two of them down a winding passage, past rooms of all sorts of functions, until they reached the command centre of super-science for the Coast City region.
"Chloe!" said Carol-- with a hint of almost-relief in her voice-- as the woman approached, "have you seen any--?"
"I saw them fighting," replied Sullivan hurridely, "my guys are at his apartment building right now, helping the residents caught in the crossfire--” Chloe’s expression shifted when he saw Carol’s face drop. “Were you there? Are you alright?!”
“I’m fine, yes, but Hal… I’m worried about him. The look on his face when he saw what was happening. I’ve never seen him so… afraid? No, that’s stupid, he doesn’t get scared, that would defy the point, but Chloe… I’m scared for him.”
“Understandably so, Carol,” said Chloe, “but--”
“Director Sullivan!” came the shout from her driver, “the men at the scene just reported that Green Lantern is down! The yellow… Lantern… did something to him, he’s changed!”
“Changed? Oh, no,” whispered Chloe, “the Legion virus. Guy Gardner is the only living survivor and carrier of the Legion virus. It’s how I met Hal… and now… God, we need to… I don’t know what we can do.” Chloe looked desperately at Carol, and Ferris looked down at the device in her hands that Hal had thought up before leaving her at STAR Labs to fight Guy Gardner.
“He gave this to me,” she held up the emerald construct, “I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it does, but...” The construct shifted from the shape of a CD to a button, and Carol looked up to Chloe. Without a moment’s hesitation, the agent slammed her fist down on the button, and watched as the construct dissipated--
Mongul watched as the drills descended from the hull of his craft. Massive gravity hooks shot down at the skin of the barren world, and dug into the flesh of the tectonic plates. Lobo watched as he barked orders, and he watched as Mongul leaned against the hull of the ship, and gazed toward the husk of a planet below. There was a look in his eye-- one that Lobo barely recognized within himself. Pain?
"What we doin' here, Mongul?"
"This is my home, Lobo," Mongul replied slowly. "This is where the Guardians committed genocide upon my people."
Lobo scoffed. "I find it hard to believe that the Guardians could be on the same level as the Main Man, Mongul."
Mongul grabbed Lobo by the throat, and rammed the bounty hunter into the hull. "Watch your tongue."
"Yer payin' good money, Mongul, so I'll let it slide that you got yer paws round my throat. But let go!"
Mongul stared at Lobo, and simply released the Last Czarnian, stretching his fingers outward before clenching them into a fist. "The Guardians saw into the hearts and souls of my people. They saw our potential for ultimate destruction--, our cultural imperative toward complete control and subjugation of the universe-- and they eradicated us. I escaped merely because I was off-world at the time. For their crimes against my people, I scoured a bloody swath across their sectors until they entombed me on Mars."
"Huh. Rough times."
"I slept for a thousand years. Plotted for another. On and off I slept and I planned and then I was released. The thing is, Lobo, they were right to burn my people out of existence, because we knew their weakness. We were building something that could kill a Guardian."
"Oh, yeah? So why didn't ya kill them all back then, instead of gettin' chained into a dust ball?"
"Because Sector 3601 was in universal lockdown. The barrier they put up prevented me from returning home and to the weapon itself. Buried beneath my home. Buried here."
The world beneath the ship began to peel apart. Metal glistened beneath sheets of rock and ash. And then the weapon was revealed... and Mongul smiled.
Hal Jordan's mind was no longer his own. He thought disgusting, vicious thoughts. He thought about the Central Power Battery on Oa, and how good it would be to fly straight into it, just as he had done the Anti-Matter Battery on Qward, all those years back. It would feel good to corrupt the Corps, to succeed where Sinestro had failed before.
And he knew that he could do it. Because he was the greatest. The smartest. The most talented. All these thoughts of arrogance and bravado filled up inside him, and then, quite simply, his ring began to splutter and spark, until Coast City erupted in a yellow light that shot the former Green Lantern into the sky, and into the atmosphere, past Earth’s orbit, into space and then--
Into subluminal. Straight to Sector 0. Straight to Oa.
Carol Ferris didn’t know what to do. They were safe, they thought, here in STAR Labs, but the Oan power ring was the most powerful weapon known across the universe, so what would a bunker do to stop a Lantern with a mad-on for anyone peeling the walls apart and coming to get them easily? They watched news footage, amateur cellphone videos that had been sent straight to the networks, eye witness accounts streaming directly to those who would listen-- Green Lantern was gone. Did that mean that the Earth was lost?
"What now?" asked Carol. “That construct… it did nothing. He’s still gone! He’s still… not Hal.”
"We hope and pray that the Green Lantern Corps are as good a group of heroes as they claim to be," replied Chloe, quietly. Her hand found Carol's, and she turned and smiled. "And I have faith in that-- uhhn!"
"Chloe?" Carol turned to the Director of the DEO.
Chloe looked down, and then back up to Carol. "I... my water just broke."
Green energy whispered its way from the pocket dimension that held Hal Jordan’s power battery. It drifted from his apartment, and down to the street, where Guy Gardner was lying in a pool of his own blood, broken and beaten, no sign of life. The energy wended itself into his ring, and his entire body seized up, as if electricity was suddenly flowing through him. “Gggnnnnnaaargh!” He jolted up, and looked around at the carnage he’d wrought. "...Christ," he whispered woozily, as he looked down at himself to see blood caking his clothing. He remembered snippets of the past twenty-four hours. He remembered-- he had murdered a defenseless crew of an exploration vessel outside of Sector 2814, and shunted them into this solar system. He'd nearly killed Carrol Ferris. He-- "Oh, no." -- he had infected Hal Jordan with the Legion Virus, and now Highball was on his way to Oa to spread the disease that had stolen away so much of Guy's life the past two, three years. His thought processes were no longer clouded. The hate he felt, fueled and perpetuated by the yellow ring he once wore, was gone. He felt... content. He looked at his ring-bearing hand, and saw an emerald ring glowing where his yellow once resided.
<When one falls, another must be chosen.>
<Guy Gardner of Earth (of Sector 2814) you have the ability to overcome great fear.>
Guy climbed up from the ground, where his blood was sticky and wet from the traumas he'd inflicted upon himself-- and Hal Jordan had inflicted upon him. He looked from his ring-- which was on top of a white glove, which was over a solid black sleeve, connected to-- he was wearing the uniform of a Corps man.
<Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps.>
< “Guy, if you’re alive, and you’re hearing this, then something inevitably awful and unforeseen has occurred. You beat me.”> Hal’s voice spoke directly into his mind, and Guy clutched at his temples as information began to flood from his ring and into his memory centres. <“You’re alive. You’ve got one thing and one thing alone to do now. You need to save the universe. Your ring is free of Legion. As such, it’s fuelled by your imagination and willpower. Think to fly, you’ll fly, think to beat me to hell, and you’ll beat me to hell, you just have to believe it, okay?”>
“Okay…” whispered Guy.
<“Yeah, I knew you had it in you. Stop me, Guy. You need to. Legion can’t infect the Central Power Battery. You have to stop me. And it. Whatever the means. Understand?”>
"Welcome to my world,” Guy said quietly, “First time round, it was me that was under the influence of an anti-matter virus that removed my ability to 'be good', replaced it with an imperative to infect Green Lanterns with said virus, and basically mainlined anger and agression to the forefront of my everlovin' frontal lobe. Now it’s you? This is a vicious cycle we’re running, Highball.” Guy then looked at his chest, to where the emblem of the Green Lantern Corps was emblazened. "And now I'm Green Lantern? Here t'save the day? Holy Hannah…"
"Green Lantern 2814.1 has been infected with the Legion Virus."
"He is en route to Oa through the subluminal passages that litter the sectors we police."
"Shut them down. Close the universe to Sector 0."
"That will not hold him for long."
"For long enough, Ganthet."
"I am sure. Hal Jordan is now the number one threat to the existence of the Green Lantern Corps, and therefore the entire universe."
"Hal Jordan is the most dangerous man in the universe."
"Green Lantern no more," Ganthet sighed slowly. "Have Salaak spread the word. Hal Jordan is not to reach Oa alive."
"This ain't Hal anymore," said Kilowog, "same thing happened to Sinestro-- a disease is wearing his body like a meat suit, and is going to use his ring to try an' kill us all. We lost good Corps men t' th' Legion Virus first time a'round, and we've lost Hal."
Katma Tui placed a hand on Hank's shoulder. "We may have to kill him."
Hank Henshaw had dreamed of alien worlds since he was a little boy. That was why he joined NASA, that's why he became a pilot, that's why, when he became Green Lantern 2814.2, he was so damned happy. Hal Jordan had done this. Hal Jordan had brought him into the emerald light of the Green Lantern Corps, and now he had gone rogue? Infected with the 'Legion' virus? Persona non grata in the Green Lantern Corps?
"It isn't Hal anymore," Kilowog nodded. "Not as we knew him."
"Bull$%^&! Hal is Corps, through and through! We wouldn't be here today without him. I refuse to acknowledge that killing him is an option. He wouldn't do that to us, and we're not going to do that to him. No..." Hank said, slowly. "We'll stop him. And we'll help him. But in no way am I going to consider killing Hal Jordan. Now, let's get out of here. And bring him in."