V2 #2 (42): "Unfinished Business" (Wilkins / Smith) Feb 14, 2012 17:11:50 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Feb 14, 2012 17:11:50 GMT -5
Hordes of Parademons, the dog soldiers of Apokolips, were raining down on New York. Their general was the relentless Devilance, known to some as The Pursuer. These monsters wanted one thing-- one man-- Adam Strange.
Green Lantern wasn't going to let that happen. No compromise. John Stewart had faced these monsters before, a lifetime ago, and he had lost so much, gained so little, and he wasn't going to let the world suffer at the hands of these aliens one more time.
"You're not welcome here," said Green Lantern. His ring sparked up, and one single thought shot from his head into the ring. Save everyone.
Green Lantern; Vol. 2
Issue Two: "Unfinished Business"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
Cover by Vinny Smith
Edited by Mark Bowers
Issue Two: "Unfinished Business"
Written by Charlie Wilkins
Cover by Vinny Smith
Edited by Mark Bowers
Laser blasts from the Parademon's weapons shot down at Green Lantern, but his aura protected him from the brunt. He felt each impact, each blow, but rolled with them, focusing on the big picture. He focused on his training, on what he had been taught, and began to work on a solution.
Visualise and verbalise and focus on what you want to see, he remembered Kilowog telling him. If you imagine it happening it will happen. So what John wanted right now was for the Mother Boxes that dictated the Boom Tube generation to trigger again. This was going to be hard, he thought, because the Mother Boxes were New God technology. Telling a machine what to do on any other day is pretty easy. You think about it and it happens, that's one of the best things about having a power ring. Imagination is the only thing stopping you. Sentient god-technology from beyond any realm of understanding? John steeled himself. Adam Strange, fragile and weary, shot away in an emerald sphere of John's own imagination, and the Green Lantern started to think.
I know, he thought. But do you want to be here?
These creatures will destroy my world, and you're helping them, whether you want to or not. Do you want to help them? Or do you want to be free?
John felt a throb pulse through his skull. "Aow..."
You can juggle any amount of tasks, said Kilowog in his head, all you need to do is be clear and focused. You need to know, in your mind's eye, what needs doing.
Devilance reeled his axe above his head and careened toward Green Lantern. John held up one hand, as if to say stop, and then pointed his power ring casually at the Pursuer. "I'm thinking about one power ring discharge powerful enough to send you into the vacuum of space."
Devilance's eyes opened wide as a beam bigger than anything he had ever seen erupted from John's ring and impacted him straight in the chest. The Pursuer was gone within seconds, the pop of atmosphere and ozone audible from John's power ring's sensor sweeps. "That should keep you busy."
John began to make a list.
A) Protect New York
An emerald shield was covering the entire state. That made John weak at the knees. He couldn't see the entire place, but he knew, vaguely, what needed doing. Protect New York. Protect New York, and don't get vague about it. Definitive, clear statements would help. Protect New York, and New York was protected. No time to get nitpicky.
B) Get Adam Strange to safety.
The emerald sphere was beneath the emerald shield. John didn't have to focus too hard on that. Under the shield was safety. Above the shield was a horde of Parademons.
C) Send these monsters back to where they came from, preferably not intact.
The Mother Boxes were talking to him in a language he barely understood. He saw images, not words, and felt emotions, a conveyance of feeling rather than a dictation of word. This place is HOME he thought, this place isn't the ENEMY.
They didn't understand. Firstly, they had never spoken like this to anyone before. Their relationship with their wearer was symbiotic in a way. Mother Boxes healed. Mother Boxes calmed. Mother Boxes focused. Mother Boxes were power rings?
A laser blast impacted on John's chest, and the Green Lantern cursed himself. He had all these things to do, but perhaps most importantly, to enable A, B and C, he had to do one thing:
D) Stay alive.
He reinforced his emerald aura. He focused on sending energy blasts from where they impacted him to where they emanated from.
Mother Boxes worked through silent, psychic communication between wearer and worn. The bond was psychic. Remove that bond, remove the Mother Box, and then what? Don't question it, thought John. Think it. John imagined peace and tranquillity. He extended his being, his presence, across the atmosphere. The Mother Boxes reacted to that. He didn't think about the words, or put the thought into a sentence, he thought about weekend mornings at his parent's cabin, watching the sun rise. He remembered the embrace of a lover, warm and calming. He remembered every serene corner of the world he had visited before he had become a Green Lantern. Before his retirement from the Marine Corps. He had seen a world, he had loved the world, and now he had to protect it.
You don't want to be here like this. You don't want to be USED like this.
You want to go home. Or better yet, never be put in this position again.
PING PING PING
Then send your wearers back to wherever they came from. Stay here. Stay here and be safe. Be home. Be at peace.
A Boom Tube opened up, engulfing a phalanx of Parademons. John thought about their arms, where the Mother Boxes resided. He thought about a glowing green band of energy removing the Mother Boxes from the arms of their wearers, he thought about collecting them in a protective bubble, and removing them from the fray. He thought about being thankful, about appreciating acts of kindness and understanding.
More Mother Boxes understood him. More Mother Boxes wanted to help. More Mother Boxes wanted to be free of their wearers' evil, malicious tendencies. John was more than happy to oblige. Nearly the entire Parademon force was gone when John heard a familiar pop. He glanced up, and felt Devilance's axe tear into his protective aura. The blade, crackling with black globules of energy, tore at his costume, and John felt his flesh rend.
Green Lantern collided with the protective shield over New York, and then, as the pain overpowered him for a split second, he fell from the sky, the shield vanishing. Stewart landed hard on a rooftop, and then threw up the shield again.
Devilance landed hard on the shell, cracks forming beneath his heavy boots. John looked at his stomach, and thought about stitches, about knitting the wound back together. He gritted his teeth as his ring sewed him back together again. Devilance took advantage of this painful distraction and swung his axe from over his head to the shield below. The impact sent feedback ringing through John's ring and into his head. John held back a scream and then rolled away as Devilance landed with a crash beside him. Concrete turned to powder. John looked up at the Pursuer, who was staring at him emotionlessly.
"I take no pleasure in this," said Devilance.
"That's a relief," replied John, bringing his ring up to fire. Devilance was ready this time. John thought about orbit, about energy, about impact, but the blast was sliced cleanly in two by Devilance's axe, and the discharge missed the Pursuer completely.
"I will be killing you now, and returning Adam Strange to his torment."
"No thanks." John leaped to his feet as Devilance slammed his axe into the rooftop. The concrete was sliced perfectly in two and the building shook. Devilance's attack, as well as his weight, caused the concrete to fracture even more, and John threw himself off the building and into freefall.
Anyone present in that building needs to be evacuated immediately, thought John as he stopped himself ten metres from the sidewalk below.
Seventy-five men, women, children and pets were phased through the walls of the tenement building and floated in mid-air around John. Safety, thought John, and the seventy-five were gone, whizzing off away from the scene of the fight within an instant.
On the roof, Devilance had regained his footing, and was peering at John, who was prepping his ring for the next move. The Pursuer was about to leap down on John when a giant emerald hammer appeared from nowhere and sent Devilance slamming through floor after floor of the building, until everything collided with the sidewalk.
John snatched Devilance up from the rubble and then threw himself and his enemy back into the air. With a stray thought he began to reconstruct the building, and by the time John had taken Devilance out of the atmosphere and into space, everything was returned to normal.
"You can survive in space, my ring tells me as much. You're a New God. You are a representative of the Apokolips faction, which means I don't have any time to talk to you. So here's the plan:"
John swatted Devilance's axe from his hand and sent it flying into deep space. John imagined the axe landing on one of Saturn's moons, he envisaged Titan, and he knew he would collect it from there later.
"You aren't going anywhere."
John removed Devilance's Mother Box and Boom Tube generator and the two of them were now flying through the solar system. Power beams kept Devilance reeling, blow after blow making sure he couldn't fight back.
"And I'm going to give you some time to think about what you've done here. Solitary confinement. Over five billion miles from the Sun--"
John floated above the planet Pluto. Ever since he was a kid it was Pluto, and no matter what some astronomers said, it would always be a planet to him. And luckily, it was uninhabited. John split Pluto open, threw Devilance inside, and sealed him up tight. This wasn't a permanent option of course, but it would do until this was resolved.
John shot back to Earth by way of Titan, picked up Devilance's axe and shoved it into the pocket dimension he kept his Power Battery within. Accessible only to him, safe from some villain getting ideas.
Did the Green Lantern Corps have jurisdiction over Gods? He knew from the Book of Oa that the Green Lantern Corps were nearly destroyed by the machinations of Darkseid. He had read about the Green Lantern of 2306, Carthag, borne of Apokolips, sent out of the dimensional hole that fiery planetoid resided within along with hundreds of other genetically-manipulated children and raised by kindly parents but Granny Goodness had her hooks in him, manipulated his mind when he was but a baby, and implanted a notion within him - be fearless, be great, be everything needed to become a Green Lantern - but when the time came, when a signal was given, destroy the Central Power Battery!
An elaborate scheme, one that could only come from the twisted minds of the eternal New Gods of Apokolips, but it had crippled the Green Lantern Corps. Took them nearly two years to take back Oa from the forces Darkseid had aligned with.
John Stewart landed in the middle of a crowded New York street, next to a pile of carefully-ordered Mother Boxes and a shaky Adam Strange. Members of the NYPD had surrounded this space-man, but the Green Lantern put up his hands as he approached.
"This man is just as much a victim as you are in all this," said John. "Give him some air." There was a grumble, a hint of disagreement, but the NYPD acquiesced and holstered their guns. The crowd continued to grow. John tried to ignore them.
Adam looked up at John and smiled. "I... I owe you my life..."
"It's nothing, you would have done the same for me. Now, Mister Strange, I'm sorry to be so blunt but you were dead six months ago. Ranagar was destroyed by the Predator. No survivors. I read the report myself. How are you here?" John turned to a police officer. "Can we get the man a bottle of water over here?"
"Isn't that a story..." murmured Adam. "We're used to being attacked on Rann, folks think we're easy pickings because the people there, they're pacifists. For a good long time I was the sole protector, but in recent months I had been training a police force, it was going well... Your... uh... predecessor? He was visiting, and during that time a guy calling himself--"
"The Predator. Yeah, I remember. He tore us all up pretty bad. It's why I'm here and the old GL, he's not."
"You'll have to fill me in on what I missed these past few months... Anyway, we're used to being attacked, so in case of emergency, my father-in-law, Sardath, scientist supreme of Rann, designed an evacuation process. The city was built on a Zeta Beam lens, and the population were exposed to trace amounts of Zeta radiation every day. When the time came the entire population would be teleported to an 'alpha site', a safe place to get our stuff together and figure out our next move." Adam took a breath and John handed him a bottle of water. "Thank you," Strange said to the officer who had delivered it. "When we arrived at the site, he was waiting for us. Him and his parademons. The entire planet had been compromised, an entire world of hurt waiting for us to arrive. We didn't put up much of a fight, I'm afraid. The Predator had done a number on me, and the police force weren't trained for a fight that big. We lost a score of people. The rest of us were dragged off and put to work. 'Lowlies' they called us. Apparently the worker class of Apokolips had been rescued by some guy called the... Highfather? And they needed to get things going again. So we were going to be their slaves. I managed to escape, retrieve my equipment and this--" Adam pointed at the Mother Box strapped to his arm. "And used a Boom Tube generator to get back to Earth. I need to get back to my wife, my daughter..."
"The Mother Box can get you back, right?"
"It holds the coordinates in its matrices, yes..."
"Then there's only one thing I can do," said John. He looked around at the crowd that had filled the streets. Cameras flashed. Photos were being taken with phones. The entire atmosphere was buzzing. "What's going on?"
"Sir," a police officer approached John. "Sorry to interrupt, but you, ah, you just saved this city from an invasion force. Last time those explosions happened in the sky and the monsters swarmed out, Hell, half the people here were put into camps and told they were gonna be executed. Took the Justice League forming to save the day, you know what I'm saying? You just... took 'em out by yourself." The officer paused. "Green Lantern, you're a big damn hero."
The crowd erupted in cheers, and John could feel himself almost blushing. "I'm just doing my job."
"You're uncomfortable with the attention?" Adam Strange asked.
"No, not at all, but I don't need to be thanked. I'm just doing my job. That's all it is. Sure, my job is insane and terrifying, but at the same time... someone has to do it." Green Lantern took a Mother Box from the emerald sphere he had stored the Apokoliptian technology inside and scanned it with his ring. "I can do this."
"GL--" started Adam.
John was already strapping a Mother Box to his arm and scanning the schematics of a Boom Tube generator with his ring. He looked over to Adam. "Yeah?"
"My family... Please... bring them back to me."
"You have my word," said John. The Boom Tube generator refused to be assimilated into John's ring. There was something missing that prevented the completion of the transfer.
He pulled up the known schematics of a Boom Tube generator from the Book of Oa and perused the green-prints. There was a void in the middle of the schematics labelled 'Element-X'.
"Element-X?" John had never heard of such a thing. "What the hell is Element-X?"
<A 'New God' element that powers their devices; Oan Power Ring unable to duplicate energy signature>
"Well, that makes sense," said John. "Guess I'm taking one with me then." He strapped the Boom Tube generator to his side and then closed his eyes. "I'm going to bring your family back, Adam."
A gust of wind picked up. A hole in space had opened, and John looked through to the other side. He saw only darkness. With his ring lighting the way, John Stewart flew into the abyss.
To Be Concluded!
Tales of the[/i][/b]
Green Lantern Marine Corps
II: One Man, Against All Odds
II: One Man, Against All Odds
John had never performed an autopsy before, so this was a learning experience for him. The monster he had decided to dissect wasn't long dead. John looked at where his bullet had impacted beneath its eyes. A clean shot. Without loitering on the thought, John looked down at the gauntlet over its right hand. He had seen other creatures use the gauntlet to gain entrance to the Terror Platform. He took out his knife, and began to cut. A white ooze dribbled from the first incision. It wasn't blood; it didn't look like anything he'd seen before. It smelt like... John couldn't place it. He tried to ignore it, and continued to cut.
The desert sun had set. The Terror Platform had ceased its movements, and the Parademons had flown back to their nest inside the massive armoured walker.
Finished with his impromptu autopsy, John moved fast under cover of darkness. He needed more equipment, and a quick detour to base camp gave him all the gear he required for this suicide run.
The elevator shaft had ascended when the sun had set, so John aimed his grapnel gun at where the elevator entered the platform proper. Hefting himself up, one hand after the other, John made slow progress up the rope but eventually he reached the closed entrance to the platform. He secured himself beneath the device, and examined the door mechanism. There was another blue bauble in the middle of the doors, and John pulled the gauntlet he had cut off the fallen monster from his backpack to the fore. The door shuddered, and then swung open. John perched to the side of the doors, waiting for the elevator shaft to descend but nothing come. He breathed in. And then clambered inside the Terror Platform.
The corridors were dimly-lit. John had plugged his radio to an earpiece, and was listening intently in one ear to any transmissions that might be coming through. As luck would have it, as soon as he entered the metallic platform, voices began to come over the radio. "...this, we've been taken captive by... I don't know what... Sergeant Slaughter has been taken away, but they've left us in some kind of mass holding cell... I don't know what's going to happen next... but we're here with civilians... it's like they're kidnapping folk en masse... we don't have our weapons... but they left our radios, our rations."
It was Brant's voice. She sounded okay, but shaken.
With his rifle resting against his shoulder, he began to transmit a message through the radio, making no sound but the noise of his dot-dashing. He spelt out her call-sign 'Dresden' in Morse Code. When he was done, he could hear her responding in a like manner.
John didn't know if the monsters were monitoring their frequency. He didn't know how smart they were. How fast they could break a relatively commonplace code? He asked her for her location.
"Damn..." whispered John. He tried to think, but then a large clanging noise began to echo through the corridors.
Smart girl, thought John. But if he could hear her, slamming something against the bulkhead, so could the monsters. He moved fast. His infra-red goggles couldn't penetrate far into the ship, but he kept them on anyway. Soon enough he saw a faint orange glow, corridors away. Closer was a blue mass. Big. Burly. The monsters.
John sent Dresden a message. Incoming.
The clanging stopped. John moved faster.
Alice Brant hadn't always wanted to be a marine. Her dad was before her, and his dad before him. She wanted an education. She wanted to get ahead in life. Joining the Navy seemed to be the right idea, and it did her father proud. She was doing her time, and she expected to be home by Christmas next year. Wasn't that always the way? The door to the mass holding cell shifted open. Three monsters stepped through. They were bigger than two men put together. Solid as rock. She had pried a length of metal tubing away from the wall of the holding cell and was keeping it tucked under her body. One of the monsters picked up one of the captured grunts who Alice didn't recognise, and began to squeeze. The man's head popped, blood and gore exploding from between the monster's digits.
"WHO?" asked one of the monsters. Its voice was low and heavy. Syllables rolled lazily out of its mouth. English was not its native tongue, Alice knew that much.
There was silence. No one knew what to do. The monster grabbed a shrieking woman, speaking in a language Alice had only just started to learn. She was about to stand up, tell them it was her, when three shots rang out. The monsters collapsed, holes in their heads.
Behind them stood John Stewart, his rifle smoking. "Let's get the hell out of here."
Alice smiled as best she could and grabbed the weapon John threw to her. "You're a sight for sore eyes."
"I try," replied John. "Where's everyone else?"
"We're here," said Nemo, supported by Kiyahani. Nemo's leg was a shredded mess and his eye a swollen slab of meat. "Slaughter was taken away." Privates Massee, Cho and Kirk all took what weapons John had been able to collect from base camp. "Glad you could join us, Builder."
"I never leave anyone behind."
"You may regret that decision," said Kiyahani. "We need to get these civilians out of here." He turned to the rest of the men and women that had been kidnapped, and spoke fluently and swiftly in their native tongue. "How'd you get in?"
"Climbed a rope. The elevator shaft ascended at nightfall." John threw the gauntlet at Massee, who caught it eagerly. "This was the key. The gem in the middle. Like a key-card, just wave it at the appropriate lock and it shunted open."
"Let me have a look at it," said Massee. "I might be able to get the elevator operating, get everyone down to earth."
"You're our tech-guy, Mass. If anyone can, it's you," said Kiyahani. "Let's go."
"I'm going after Slaughter," said John.
"Stewart, don't be an idiot, you have no idea where he could be," said Cho.
"Look, we've got a couple of dozen civvies here, and I don't have time to argue. The exit is that way," John motioned down the corridor. "I marked the way with fluorescent." He handed his own weapon to Nemo. "Now stop arguing. Get moving. They will have heard those shots. They will be converging on our location." John picked up one of the large energy weapons one of his victims had dropped. "I'll meet you at the exit."
John headed deeper into the Terror Platform. The rest of his squad were leading the civilians to the exit. He was about to turn a corner when Brant grabbed him by the shoulder and swung him back. Before he could question her action she started firing her rifle at the monsters that were headed their way. She downed them within seconds, headshots all the way.
"You're on edge, Builder. We're in the belly of the beast, we're on shaky ground at best." Brant checked her weapon, and then pointed down the corridor where the monsters had emerged from. "Eyes on the prize." The two of them worked their way through the corridors, marking their way as they went. The monsters weren't able to put up much of a fight in the cramped confines of their own ship, but they had numbers on their side.
John felt the weight of the weapon in his hand. It worked like any other gun he had ever worked with. Pull the trigger, pray to God. You could do it the other way but John liked to make his own luck. Aim then fire then pray. There was a silence after their seventh skirmish that was broken by a scream. John recognised the hoarse voice as that of Tom Slaughter, and the two Marines began to head in the general direction of the screams.
Moments later they had found what would best be described as a torture chamber. Meat hung from hooks. Archaic metal devices occupied trays, with dry blood on the rusting metal. Hell by any other name.
John threw a stun grenade through the open door and once it had triggered Dresden and he entered, guns blazing.
A purple-robed man scattered at the gunfire, fell to the floor and then grinned with yellowing teeth as he vanished through a secret passage in the floor. Tom was lying flat on an operating table, and John cringed when he saw what was left of his comrade.
"Oh, God," whispered Alice.
"Watch the door," said John, throwing her his weapon. She caught it, checked it over, and then positioned herself just out of sight by the door. She tried not to glance over to what was left on the table next to John.
Tom Slaughter barely looked human. His limbs had been removed, his flesh lashed by whips and chains. The tools used to do such a thing rested on the floor beside him, lumps of skin and muscle still stuck to the barbs.
Tom's face had been the focus of whatever sick work the torturer had performed. His top lip had been removed completely, while his bottom lip was pinned to his chin. His eyes were hanging out of their sockets, each pointed away from his head. His nostrils were closed with some kind of flesh-like sealant and tubes had been shoved down his throat. He gagged as John approached. Through broken teeth he hissed something that John couldn't understand. Fragmented syllables spat out of his gaping wound of a mouth.
John finally realised what Tom was asking, and had Alice pass him the rifle. One shot echoed out through the room, and Tom was silent.
"Never leave a man behind," whispered John. "Come on, Dresden."
The two of them headed back to the elevator shaft. When they arrived, they saw that Massee had managed to jury rig the shaft to descend, and they were ferrying civilians into the elevator. There were still a couple of dozen left to go, all hugging the walls, trying to keep out of sight. Cho and Kirk were positioned at the mouth of the corridor, and the passage leading to where they were waiting was littered with alien bodies.
"We need to hurry this up!" said Dresden.
"Did you find Slaughter?" asked Nemo.
John was about to say something, but Dresden cut him off. "No luck. Builder, help Nemo into the shaft, he's next down."
"No," interjected Nemo Jones, "civilians first!"
"You're injured, Jones," replied Dresden. "We need you out of here."
John helped Nemo into the elevator and turned just as chaos erupted in the corridor ahead of him. He saw Cho and Kirk riddled with bullets. Monsters swarmed their position. Dresden's eyes opened wide and she spun round to face their attackers, but before John could see anything else-- Massee had been hit, and the gauntlet that controlled the shaft flew against the control panel, causing the elevator doors to slam shut in John's face. And just like that, he was locked out of the battle, unable to help his friends and comrades in the face of certain death.
"NO!" shouted Stewart, as the elevator began to shoot down toward the ground. Nemo couldn't say anything. The doors opened on the city level within seconds. The civilians headed for cover, pushing Jones and Stewart out with them. The Terror Platform began to power up, the shaft ascended back up again, taking the elevator with it.
John expected to die at that moment, either by the cannon resting atop the platform or by a horde of monsters exiting the platform and descending upon him. Instead, the Terror Platform shuddered, and a massive explosion echoed out above them. The Platform was sucked into the tunnel in space, and then the sky snapped shut.
"My God," whispered Nemo Jones. "They're... they're gone..."
John Stewart had survived the Apokolips Imperative. He had allowed his comrades to be murdered by the Parademon hordes that were assaulting the world. He had let his friends die.
John collapsed to his knees, and slammed his fists into the ground.
Never again. He would never lose anyone like that again. Never again!
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