In light of the recent renewal of the show I decided to update one of my KP fics. So after over a year here is the next part of Emerald Legacy. This chapter is mostly Green Lantern and follows the Emerald Twight storyline, the ending portion in particular. It was necessary for the set up of the rest of the story. Rest assured the next chapter is mostly KP characters.
"In Blackest Night"
Hal felt like he had been struck by a physical blow. One that reached beyond the ring that shielded his body. It was an agonizing pain in his very core that was able to knock him to a dead stop from his interstellar journey.
The Green Lantern furrowed his brow in confusion. There was no immediate threat in the area. This much he knew fore the star system he currently inhabited was completely empty.
There was a pain in his chest like a piece of his very soul had just been striped away. For the briefest of moments the most fearless of the Green Lantern Corps eyes filled with terror. Not for himself. Somehow he knew, he felt it, something terrible has happened.
As he resumed his flight home Hal pushed himself to speeds even he had never attempted before.
The middle-aged blonde stared open mouthed with a dumbfounded look of fascination at the young man seated across the counter from her. In the twenty years that Millie Carter has run this roadside dinner with her husband she had never seen anything like this.
As she placed the sixth plate so piled with burgers and fries that even with all her years of waitressing experience she still barely managed to get it to the boy she couldn't help but laugh.
"Where exactly are you putting all of this!"
She was only half joking. It was a fair question after all. The blonde boy looked to be fairly young. High school senior or college freshman was her best guess. His lean framed was covered by a black long sleeved shirt underneath a red and white hockey jersey and it was obvious he was well muscled. Not overly so, but more of an even tone to it. A martial artist's or a gymnast's build.
All this junk was not good for a toned physique and it was obvious he was used to eating this way. So where exactly was he putting it?
"Ifftsss guuuuudddhh!" Came the burger filled reply.
Millie tried to keep a straight face as she admonished, "Chew first then speak."
Slowly he swallowed. He bowed his head and gave her a sheepish smile. "Sorry."
"It's all right dear." She told him with a light laugh.
Doing what she does for how long she's done it tends to make you good at reading people. It was a skill that Millie prided herself on. It was always nice to know which people that come in she could relate to more, or which ones are big tippers. She found herself using that skill again now as she studied the young man before her.
His eyes spoke of a more subdued intelligence. Perhaps not a scholar, they told her he possessed a fine knowledge and appreciation for the things that truly mattered in life. The things that make it worth living. The same type of things most people overlook in the hustle and bustle of modern society.
That's not to say Millie thought he was stupid. No, she was sure he had a mind locked behind that goofball exterior. He just struck her as one of those people who did just enough to get by that's all. Which isn't necessarily always a bad thing in Millie's opinion.
And she noticed that goofball exterior wasn't some act for others benefit or to push anyone away from his true feelings. He was one of those rare people who were just genuinely cheery, happy go lucky that viewed life for the good instead of the bad.
In short she took an instant liking to the young man stuffing his face in front of her.
"Might want to slow down there champ." Millie told him with an amused smile playing on her lips. "Don't want you to choke on anything before you pay the bill."
He laughed as he brought his coffee cup to his lips, lukewarm as he favoured the food to the dark liquid so many thrive on. A moment later all humour was gone as the mug shattered on the floor.
Millie followed his gaze concerned at what could take the humour out of such a jovial young person. Then she saw it. The image on the small television displayed the dust and debris obscuring something. It was when she read the caption that she understood and audibly gasped. It read Coast City.
Hal couldn't believe his eyes as he came to a stop. Below him was an obscuring cloud of dust and debris where his Coast City should be. Where his home should be. Where everyone important to him, his entire family should be.
The cloud couldn't fool his perception. With his power ring he could whip up some equipment to see through it or even simply scan it with the ring itself. He knew what was below him. What should be a bustling metropolis of stone, concrete and steel was now being covered with sleek and imposing metal and machines. An alien construction that almost seemed to grow before his very eyes as in a few short hours covered most of what used to be Coast City.
In the centre of the growing metallic fortress was a large sleek ship. It didn't even take a moment for Hal to recognize the massive warship, or its owner is. Its soon to be dead owner.
Hal didn't bother with a door, nor did he slow down as the city's colossal firepower tried to stop him. Emerald energy covered his body and turned him into a human battering ram. All Hal saw was red as he tore through the warship's hull.
"Jim! Tim!" Came a yell that startled passers by in front of the Possible household. Normally Mrs. Possible would never have raised her voice to such a point to any of her children, however this was not a normal moment. She always tried to be supportive and encouraging towards her twin sons' lust for knowledge and all things scientific. Even when the repair bills came in she tried her best to smile and shrug it off, but it could still get to her from time to time.
So when the boys came to her and said they wanted to make a bottle rocket her first thought was 'Great! They're going with something low tech, that can't cause nearly as much damage as their usual experiments'. The warning bells in her head should have went off right then and there. Unfortunately for her pocket book, and her kitchen, they didn't.
Feeling it safe for the first time in a long while she took her grandmother's fine china out to give them a well deserved cleaning. There were no survivors as the actually rocket powered bottle rocket tore through the kitchen she was working in.
Mr. Possible muted the tv and rushed into the room when he heard the yell. He saw his red faced wife looking angry, yet mournful as she held the broken shards of her family heirlooms and his two sons wearing identical looks of guilt.
"What's going-" Kim started as she came into the room after her father only to stop and gasp as she saw for herself. "Oh no."
"Boys go to your room." Mr. Possible told them in no uncertain terms. When neither moved he added a little more loudly, yet not quite yelling. "Now!"
Both boys yelped and took off out of the kitchen.
"C'mon mom." Kim said as she went over to her mother who now looked like she was ready to break out in tears. "Let's see if we can salvage anything."
Mr. Possible sighed. "I'd better go have a talk with the boys."
Turning he left the kitchen, planning on returning after his chat/lecture with Jim and Tim. As he headed for the stairs he happened to glance into the family room. There were the twins standing like statues in front of the television.
"I thought I told you to go to your room!"
Both jumped and turned to their father wide eyed.
"Bu- but- but-" Jim tried to say.
"No but's! Room! Now!"
Suddenly Tim sent his arm in the direction of the tv and pointed. "Isn't that where Ron is?"
Following his son's arm Mr. Possible read the caption on screen.
Coast City Disaster.
He stared dumbfounded for a moment before falling limply into his chair like it took too much to even stand.
"Kimberly! Anne!" He called. "You'd better get in here!"
Kim came in, followed shortly by a red-eyed Anne Possible. Both gasped as Mr. Possible unmuted the television
'…the tragedy of Coast City. We'll continue to bring you coverage as the relief effort is organized and the investigation into the origin of this disaster…'
The destruction of kitchens and heirlooms were quickly forgotten.
If they think the missiles and lasers of the internal defences could stop him they were gravely mistaken. Nothing was going to keep him out. Nothing was going to keep him away. Nothing was going to keep his hands from wrapping around the throat of the one responsible for this carnage.
With blinding speed the Green Lantern turned a corner coming face to rifle with a squadron of alien soldiers. He couldn't make out their races beneath the purple armoured forms. Not that it mattered, he didn't care.
Before they even had time to fire a shot it was over. All but one lay unconscious, cut down by arcs of emerald energy. The being stared in awe and fear at the man floating before him, backing away as quickly as his shattered leg and hand would allow.
"Where is he?" The voice was eerily calm, and more terrifying than any he had ever heard.
"He'll kill me!"
Reaching down the floating warrior grabbed the alien by his armoured chest plate and lifted him level. Their faces were mere inches apart.
"Where is he?" Green Lantern repeated.
Then the ring came to life, showing Hal what he sought. A massive form was in the ship's engine room. Only one being that big onboard, only one being it could be. The one he's after.
Without a second thought he tossed the soldier aside into one of the thick metal walls. The being fell into blissful unconsciousness.
Absently, as Hal flew through the corridors and the occasional wall, he noticed the various alien soldiers and crew rushing to get out of his way and into the escape ships.
Soon it would be only him and the monster. That suited him just fine.
He never stopped to consider why they ran like that. The monster would surly execute them for their cowardice. It didn't matter to them. Right now they were more afraid of him.
Never before had they seen a Green Lantern fight like this. Like a man possessed. On a rampage towards an absolute goal. Unyielding, unforgiving, unstoppable.
Millie couldn't just watch as the kind hearted young man broke down in tears in front of her. She rounded the counter that separated them and pulled him into a comforting, maternal embrace. Murmuring soothing words Millie couldn't shake the look he had as he saw the newscast. Eyes that were so warm and full of joy became devastated and sorrowful in an instant.
It didn't take a genius to tell that he must have had someone he cares for in Coast City. Family, best friend? A girlfriend maybe? It didn't matter. He was in pain and it broke her heart to see such hurt thrust upon one so young.
Suddenly the boy jumped out of the embrace and dove for his jacket on the next stool over. Frantically he searched the pockets. After a moment of searching he pulled out a strange blue palm pilot like device and turned it on, desperation written on his features plain for all to see.
"Wade tell me something. Anything!"
The young genius felt so helpless as he looked upon his friend's face. Shattered was the only word he could come up with to describe it. It was so different then the Ron he was used to. Then again, his entire world did just come crashing down.
Wade couldn't meet his searching gaze as he replied sadly. "I'm sorry Ron."
"MONGUL!" Hal yelled like a battle cry as he blasted his through the engine room's heavy doors finally coming face to face with the butcher of his city.
"Welcome Green Lantern." Mongul said casually as he turned around slowly to greet his uninvited guest. The gesture was done like he believes this man posed no threat to him. "How do you like my Engine City? It's not enough to move an entire planet yet, but it's only the first of many."
Hal checks himself before attacking the monstrosity outright. As he comes to a stop in front of Mongul he hears millions of voices crying in his head. The voices of those who died in Coast City. They all demand the same thing.
He pushes it aside as best he can. Focus is what he needs right now. Mongul is no ordinary opponent. The fact that he would tower over even Kilowog aside, he's as powerful as he is cunning.
Before the death of their race Kryptonians were known to possess great strength when under the influence of a yellow sun. So great, in fact, that under those conditions they ranked among the strongest in the universe. Mongul is very nearly there equal in that regard.
And he's yellow to boot. Green Lantern rings have an aversion to that colour. Stupid ring. The purple and silver body armour the monstrosity wore would be easy enough to puncture, but that yellow skin was going to be a problem.
To get by that required having a strategy, something the normally levelheaded Jordon wasn't doing too much of today. That meant stalling to think.
"Why?" Hal hissed.
"Why?" Mongul laughed at the question mockingly. "Why? You destroyed my War World, that's why. It seemed only fitting that your world would be its replacement."
"Monster!" Hal exclaimed as he lost the little control he'd managed to regain and attacked. With a burst of power from Green Lantern's ring the floor under Mongul's feet exploded, the concussive force sending the monster flying. The flight had an abrupt end when Hal blasted the machinery, walls and ceiling burying Mongul under many tons of rubble.
For a moment all was silent. Then-
Millie looked up as she heard a strange sound from outside. Moments later it was complimented by one of the strangest sights of her life. Outside in her dinner's parking lot a black FBI helicopter was in the process of landing.
Apparently one of the passengers didn't feel like waiting for that as a pretty red headed girl dropped from it as soon as it was close enough not to be a fatal jump.
The girl ran full tilt until she reached the doors. Throwing them open she rushed in and scanned the eatery with a searching gaze.
She seemed to be disappointed when she found Millie to be its sole occupant.
"Is there something I can help you with dear?" Millie asked in a genuinely kind tone that few people could truly pull off. It reminded Kim of Ron actually.
Sighing Kim walked up to her and pulled out a picture of her blonde friend. "Have you seen this man?"
Looking at the picture Millie smiled. "Oh, that's the happy, funny young man who was in here earlier. Is he a friend of yours?"
"The best." Kim told her as she took a saddened expression. "That's why I have to find him."
"I'm sorry to say that he didn't leave her as happy as he came in." Millie said as she exhaled deeply. "He left shortly after seeing the Coast City newscast. I don't know where he went."
At Kim's downcast look she added sincerely. "I'm sorry. I can tell he's important to you."
Kim just nodded as she turned and headed for the door.
"Miss?" Millie called out.
The red head stopped and turned to face her.
"I don't know exactly what happened, but it's clear he's hurting deeply right now. Help him through it. He'll need someone to lean on."
Kim didn't know exactly how to respond to the older woman's insight so she just nodded once again before heading outside.
As she made her way back to the helicopter she pulled out her kimmunicator. "He's already gone Wade. Can you track his communicator signal further?"
"I was only able to track it to the dinner because he used it there." The young genius told her. "He turned it right off before leaving. There's no signal to track."
"What about his tracking chip?" Kim tried.
"I deactivated it years ago. I wanted to respect his privacy." The tone in his voice told Kim he regretted that decision now.
"It's alright Wade." She assured him. "I have a pretty good idea where he's going anyways."
Mongul burst from the rubble, arms stretch to the side as he batted away the rubble like it was nothing. He laughed. "What was that? Are you afraid to really attack me? Or has the so called greatest Green Lantern not thought this through?"
Hal bristled at the comment. The voices gaining strength as his anger rose. Every drop of hate in him was screaming for him to blow the monster apart with the ring. But he can't.
The voices cry stronger, more urgent than before as Hal dodges to the side to avoid the devastating downward punch sent his way. The floor isn't so lucky as it's torn apart from the blow.
Another blast by Mongul's feet unbalance the behemoth and he tumbles to the ground.
No, he can't hurt him with the ring. But the ring is controlled by his will, and right now his will is controlled by his hate. The ring pumps that hate into power as Hal picks the behemoth up straight over his head.
"Why aren't you bragging now?" Jordon mocks as he tosses Mongul with all his might straight through the massive machinery that runs the ship's engines and the wall behind those. "Tell me what a big man you are for slaughtering millions of innocents!"
With an angered yell Hal follows Mongul through the hole his body just created. Almost as soon as he lands Jordon's on him. Blow after blow rains down on the fallen tyrant even after the hands come back up bathed in red.
"Not laughing anymore monster? Good!"
Smack. A swollen cheek.
"You took my city!"
Smack. Two crack ribs.
"You took my friends!"
Smack. A broken nose.
"You took my family!"
Smack. A fractured skull.
"Now you're going to pay!"
Smack. Hal staggers back from the blow as Mongul pulled himself to his feet. A mocking grin on his bruised and battered face.
"What are you going to do Green Lantern? Kill me?" Mongul laughed at his enemy, clearly amused by the prospect. "Kill me! Ha! You should have made sure I was dead when War World exploded. You didn't have the guts then and you don't now!" He mocked. "Even if you had the strength to do it, that is."
Easily the tyrant blocked Jordon's punch and returned with one of his own.
Never in his life, in all the years he had served the Corps has Hal been hit with such force. The ring kept him alive as his body tore through the wall, but even it was not enough to block out the monster's awesome power.
Tools left in the work crew's haste to evacuate scatter as Hal lands hard on a catwalk, his knee twisting awkwardly on a large metal sledgehammer.
Hal tried to block out the pain. To get up. Slowly he used the railing to pull himself to his feet. Steadily he rose until he was nearly there. Then some pressure hit his right leg sending pain through his busted knee.
Mongul laughed as the hero crumbled back to the catwalk. He towered over the fallen man like Goliath to David.
"You put up a better fight than I expected but we both knew it would end this way." A sinister grin crept onto the massive alien's face as he poised his fist for the final strike. "Time to join those family and friends you spoke of."
"Screw you!" Jordon spat as he used his ring to send chunks of the catwalk into Mongul's face.
"Interesting tactic yet utterly usele-"
He was cut off by powerful uppercut as Hal used the distracted to fly past his defences. Mongul stumbled back from the blow as blood and teeth spat from his mouth. As Hal turned to follow up a massive hand clamped around his ankle. With blinding force he was pulled from the air and smashed back into the ground.
He cried out in pain as his arm twisted and broke in the impact. Mongul only laughed again.
The voices cried again.
"Now what will you do 'hero'." He mocked the down and thoroughly battered Jordon. "You power requires will. Too bad I've now shattered that will."
"Mongul," Hal growled as his hand clamped around the large hammer that had broken his knee. "You shattered my arm, you shattered my knee…"
There was a flash of emerald as Hal brought the hammer up, ignoring the pain in his limps. That didn't matter. All that mattered was focusing all of his rage and hate, the entirety of his will and power into this one last attack.
There was a sickening crack heard as the hammer connected with Mongul's face in a cascade of red and his body was sent flying back.
Hal stood over the fallen figure, the monster's facial features indistinguishable in the red mush that was left.
"But my will is something you will never touch."
Ron furiously wiped at the tears in his eyes as he sped down the highway. The sports car was being pushed to its limits as he weaved in and out of traffic. Never stopping. Never slowing. Always moving.
He had to get there. He had to see for himself. He had to get to Coast City.
Hal Jordon floated above were his home should be watching coldly as the massive Engine City in its place was besieged with small explosions. The warship had been acting as a central hub for everything else. Soon after the battle with Mongul the reactor had went critical. Considering the beating the engine room took it was a miracle it lasted that long.
It could have been stopped easily enough. With a simple command to the ring Hal could have contained the breaches. Instead he had sped the process along, even amplified it somewhat. Now he watched the results as the chain reaction spread throughout the rest of the city.
He frowned. It wasn't enough. The machines were being destroyed but the rubble remained.
With a regal grace that belied the knee and arm in glowing braces Hal floated to the centre of the city. As he landed Hal raised his arm high into the air, his ringed hand clenched tightly into a first. The area immediately surrounding him was bathed in a green light.
This place Mongul built was a perversion. An insult to all who once lived here. Whose lives were now lost. No trace of it should remain.
The green field grew slightly, everything it touches being torn apart by the energy.
He thought of the people he'd past on the street or on the subway. Those he didn't know. Those he'd never have the chance to.
The field grew, more power destroying everything in its path.
He thought of his friends. People like Tom Kalamaku. Best friend and confidant.
The energy intensified.
He thought of his family. His brothers and sister. His nephew Ron who used to look at him with a childlike adoration.
Power spike as metal structures were torn into nothingness.
And he thought of the woman he loves. Carol Ferris. With her soft dark hair, her brilliant smile.
The emerald energy burst forth like a tidal wave. What was Coast City was destroyed for a second time. And in the epicentre of the devastation a man collapses.
His original plan had him taking three or so days to reach his destination. Ron made it in a little under two, breaking numerous traffic laws and pushing the yellow mustang to its limits the whole way. In retrospect it was a miracle that he didn't get pulled over by the police. Perhaps it was just luck or perhaps fate thought he'd been through enough already.
All the roads leading into the crater that had been Coast City were blocked off, but that didn't really matter to Ron. He didn't even waste the time trying to get through on the roads. Given the sheer size of the destruction it would be nearly impossible for the government to cordon off it all. So as he neared his destination he took the convertible offroad.
It was a dirty and thoroughly beaten mustang that pulled up to the crater's edge just before twilight. Tears were freely running down his face as he exited the sports car.
He'd seen the cloud of dust and debris on the news back in the dinner, even had Wade confirm it, but Ron couldn't bring himself to believe it. Until now, when he saw the proof with his own eyes. He couldn't deny it anymore. It was really gone. His family was gone. And what for?
A terrorist attack?
A political statement?
A difference in opinion?
What was the reason he would never see his family again? Whatever it was it would never be good enough.
"We're all alone now Rufus." He told the naked mole rat perched on his shoulder. "We only have each other now."
"You have me."
The familiar voice startled Ron and he quickly spun to see the last sight he had expected right now.
"Wade borrowed a satellite and has been keeping watch over the area. We were worried about you." Kim told him as she approached. Reaching him she pulled Ron into what she hoped was a comforting embrace. "You have Wade. You have Monique and Felix. My parents and the Tweebs. You'll always have me."
She felt rather that heard him sob into her shoulder. All strength seem to leave Ron as he slumped against her and Kim slid with him to the ground, arms still wrapped tightly around him. Protectively. Comfortingly. Lovingly. "You'll never be alone. I promise"
Hal groaned as he felt some semblance of consciousness come to him. Vaguely he realized he was no longer in his Green Lantern uniform. It was but a construct of his will and he'd used all he had in that final blast. Now he sported the blue jeans and white t-shirt covered by a brown leather flight jacket that he had on before going on duty.
"Over here!" He heard someone shout through the fog of his mind. "I think I found one!"
The sound of footsteps on gravel was then heard, causing Hal's aching head to pound even more. "My God! A survivor!"
They thought he was here during it all? Hal wondered. After a moment his hazy mind told him that was probably a good assumption given where he was. Not to mention the wounds Mongul inflicted and the dirt his clothes had collected as he lay on the ground for god knows how long. In short he looked like three types of hell.
"Let's get him out of here." Hal heard one of them say before he fell back into unconsciousness.
Kim groaned that groan one only makes in the morning when the suns rays first caress insistently upon their face. As one often does she tried to fight it but, as it always goes, the sun wins in the end. With a big yawn Kim opens her eyes, popping here aching neck as she stretches.
As she glares at the intruder into her dreams she came to realize something strange. She was staring out a windshield. Well now the soreness in her body made sense. Car seats weren't exactly made for the most comfortable sleeping arrangements.
She was in the yellow mustang that Ron's parents had lent him for his trip. The night before she had comforted Ron as best she could. Kim held him as he cried, stroking his hair as she murmured hopefully soothing words in his ear. Most of all it was her simple presence that comforted him most as she did her best to make sure he knew he wasn't alone. Eventually they had retreated to the car and fell asleep in each other's arms. She couldn't help but feel a little guilty at how good that felt.
Kim smiled as she saw Rufus curled up still fast asleep in the seat next to her. The smile quickly disappeared though as she realized that was were Ron should be. Ron was gone!
Panic well within her as she through the door open and searched franticly for any sign of him. Eventually she had to admit she could find none and return to the car. That was when she saw it. Next to Rufus, or rather under Rufus as the naked mole rat had seeming rolled on top of it at some point in the night, was a note.
With one swift move Kim grabbed the paper and pulled it out from under the mole rat. Rufus gave indignant squeaks as he was abruptly awaken by the flip and tumble that resulted.
I'm sorry to just leave on you like this, I know it's not cool.
Last night you helped me realized that no matter what I'm not alone and I thank you for that.
The thing is that right now I think that's exactly what I need to be. Alone I mean.
I'm sorry, but I need to deal with this from here on my own.
Hal stood back in the very spot he had collapsed nearly a week ago. His arm was still in a ring generated sling and his knee a brace. He wouldn't need them for much longer. The ring helped some with his injuries, not to mention all the medical tech he had come across in his years as a Green Lantern some of which he was able to recreate with the ring.
After he had been rescued Hal hadn't even made it to the hospital. He'd woken up partway back to where the rescue effort was being organized. It was in a predictable state of pandemonium and he was able to sneak off pretty easy, even in his weakened condition. He really didn't feel like dealing with people right then, still didn't. Even managed to make it out before they were able to id him.
He had gone to his sister's house in Middleton to recuperate. Julie had lived there with her husband Steve Stoppable and their son Ronald. Hal had to admit, to himself at least, that Julie was his favourite sibling. The two of them were only a year apart and were tight during their childhood as a result. He was protective of her and could have thought of nobody better for her than Steve. Hal had liked him, he was a funny guy who was one of those rare, genuinely friendly and happy people. A trait he had passed to his son.
Ron. Just thinking about his nephew made tears prick at his eyes. He'd never had any kids of his own and perhaps spoiled his nephew because of it. Ron had looked up to him with something akin to hero worship. He'd told Hal that he wanted to be just like him when he grew up. Fearless.
Now he would never get the chance.
Needless to say the stay did wonders for his body but only made him feel more depressed and more alone than ever.
So here he stood, once more dressed in his uniform, centre mass of the roughly twelve mile crater where he had lost everything contemplating what to do next. Where to go from here.
Hal stared at the ring on his finger. The ring itself knew few strictures. For the most part is was bound only by the will of the bearer. With such a ring one could do almost anything. That is if you wanted it bad enough.
And Hal most certainly wanted it bad.
Raising his ringed hand into the air much as he had when he destroyed Engine City. A beam of emerald energy shot forth into the sky. It slowly grew outward until the entire area was covered in a green dome. A dome roughly twelve miles in diameter.
All around him shapes took form. Buildings and monuments stood tall and proud, people went about their business, even pigeons could be seen flying through the air. It was all in emerald hues but that didn't matter. It was back. Coast City was back.
Hal didn't know what drew him there but almost of his own accord he found himself flying towards the city's largest park. They had gone there as kids. It was also where they were supposed to get together for the reunion. As he landed he saw something even he hadn't suspected.
His entire family was there, even those long dead. All were in the same emerald hue.
His father who died testing a plane so long ago, who nothing Hal did was ever good enough for, was standing with his arms around his mother smiling at him with that proud smile only a parent can truly pull off.
Cousins, aunts and uncles he hadn't seen in years were seated at some picnic tables laughing, looking just as he remembered.
Hal's brothers and sister were there right up front with their spouses and children. It was then that Hal realized there was someone missing.
"Where's Ronnie?" He asked to nobody in particular.
"He's not here Hal." His mother told him as she pulled him into an embrace. "He couldn't come."
His sister stepped forward. "It's not his time yet."
Anything else he was going to ask was quickly forgotten as his family came to greet him in groups.
He traded stories with his family like old times. Joked with Julie with that same closeness they once shared. Laughed with Steve. Talked planes and Corps missions with Tom. Kissed Carol and held her in his arms once more.
It was a perfect day.
One perfect day.
But like all good things it had to come to an end.
"Look Hal," His father said later on after dinner as they where having coffee. "Maybe I haven't said this before but I'm…"
"Yes, Dad?" Hal prompted when he saw his father pause.
"… I'm…" Suddenly the mug dropped out of his hand and he brought both of them to his head.
"Dad!" Hal exclaimed as he started to fade away. "Dad!"
Then he was gone. "No!" Soon the green hued surroundings of Coast City went with him replaced by the barren crater it really was.
"No!" Came Hal's anguished scream as he lost his family for a second time.
"No! Not now!" He yelled as he slumped to his knees. "The ring's charge is gone! It's not fair!"
"Fairness is not the issue 2814." Came the emotionless reply from behind him.
Hal spun around to see an emerald hologram of a Guardian floating behind him. "Your power ring's time limit has expired."
"So give me more." Hal exclaimed. "I need to bring everybody back."
"Out of the question 2814. This projection has been sent to conduct you to Oa for disciplinary action. You have violated our most sacred canon. You have used your ring for personal gain."
"Personal gain?" Hal spat. "This is about personal loss!
"Can you withered old gnomes even grasp that concept? Or is it that you just get your jollies by screwing with good ol' Hal!"
"Discussion was not invited." Came the same impassive reply. "Surrender your ring, 2814, and prepare for transport to Oa."
But Hal didn't. Before the projection could say anything further he thrust his free hand into the projection. The ring drew energy from it until it shrivelled into nothingness.
"Oh, I'll come back all right," Hal said to the air as he started his flight. "But you're not going to like me when I get there!"
Ron walked along the side of the road hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders slumped, his misery for all the world to see. After he'd left Kim he stayed away from the roads for the first few miles to make it more difficult to be found. Once he'd gotten to the highway Ron hitched further.
He wasn't sure where he was now, of course he didn't really care. Ron did feel guilty about how he had left Kim and Rufus, but knew that couldn't be helped. Oh, she had helped him more than he thought he could ever express. To realize he wasn't really alone. This was just something he had to do on his own. To come to grips with what happened and what happens next.
Ron just didn't know where to begin. Or what to do, let alone how to deal with this overwhelming grief.
Suddenly an emerald streak flew through the sky. It looked almost like a falling star… if it wasn't going the wrong direction. This one was going up instead of down.
Another time he would have made a wish but not now. The only thing he wanted would never come true. After watching it for a moment Ron looked down to see a building in his line of sight. A bar. It wasn't the best answer for his grief but right now it was the best he had.
His name was Tomar Tu. Long has he served the Guardians as a Green Lantern. A skilled and honoured member of the Corps. And he felt privileged to call Hal Jordon his friend. Tomar never thought this day would come.
Hal's grief has made him a very dangerous man and now he quests to regain what he has lost. The Guardians' attempt to punish him only spurned Hal on to greater defiance. Now they were sending their Green Lanterns into his path.
Tomar could only shake his head. They didn't even consider Hal a threat. The Guardians just considered him to be one servant gone awry and they had other servants to stop him.
They were fools. Hal was always the most resourceful of the Corps. Already Ke'Haan and Laira have fallen to his grief and rage. Defeated in mere minutes and stripped of their rings, left adrift in space. Their rings adding to Hal's own power.
In the distance Tomar saw a streak of green heading his direction. A sigh escaped the orange skinned alien's beak as he shook his finned head.
"Forgive me Hal. It shames me to wait here to ambush but I do as I must."
Hal didn't notice anything amiss. Not until it was too late. From his hiding place on an asteroid Tomar caught Hal in his construct as his friend flew by.
"What is this thing?" Hal exclaimed as said one eyed 'thing' slammed into his chest, its many tentacles wrapping themselves around his body and limbs.
"A common parasite on my world." Tomar told him as he floated into view. "But to you it is virtually unbreakable. I beg you to listen to reason."
"You listen Tomar!" Hal said in a strained voice as he continued to struggle. "Stay out of this! It's between me and the Guardians!"
"I am their servant as you should be. Do not ask me to defy orders."
"I warned you." Hal told him as green blades appeared from his multi-ringed hand and began to try to cut him free. "I'm stronger than you. My will is stronger. I'm going to Oa Tomar. Even if I have to go through you!"
Without warning a burst of energy came from Hal's ring… straight at Tomar Tu. He tried to create a shield to protect him from the blast but it was futile. It soon shattered and Tomar was thrown backwards from the force, his uniform tearing and cuts marring his orange skin.
"I won't be stopped Tomar." Hal said as he flew over to the downed man. "Not by you or anyone else."
"Please Hal Jordon…" Tomar spoke weakly. "You are starting something that will consume you utterly."
"No. I'm ending it. I'm ending the Guardians' hold on-"
Pain suddenly exploded in Hal's side as a ring assisted kidney shot doubled him over.
"I ain't wearing the kid gloves like the rest of these jokers." The blue skinned, brown trench coat wearing alien said as he levelled a pistol like energy weapon at Jordon's head. "You're done. So say Jack T. Chance."
"A gun!" Hal said incredulously. "You haven't been a green lantern long have you?"
The ensuing fight didn't even last ten seconds.
Max had been a bartender for going on ten years now. More than long enough to spot a fake id when one is flashed on him even if he hadn't once been a cop before. So he knew better than to serve the young man before him the beer he asked for. But the mournful broken look the boy through to the small television in the corner showing the dust and debris obscuring the crater that was once Coast City while a reporter droned on with ultimately meaningless words changed his mind. He played dumb and served up the drink.
Besides, it really was a good fake id.
One by one, two by two, Hal defeated his former comrades in droves. All the Guardians sent against him fell before his grief and rage. Regular forces and the Elite of the Corps alike were laid to waste by a man they trusted like no other to fight by their side.
Kreon of Tebis, a brilliant tactician recruited by Hal… and defeated by him.
Haanu of Ovacron Six who held Jordon in complete awe… until his ring was stolen by that same idol.
Graf Toren of Karax whose life Hal Jordon saved in the border skirmish of sector 2321… and received a beating unlike he ever had from that very saviour.
Boodikka, a warrior born. She was brought into the Green Lantern Corps by Hal and remained his close friend for years. Today she lost her ring and the very hand attached to it to that same friend.
With each victory Hal's power grows, along with his rage.
Perhaps if he were not blinded by obsession such despicable acts would bother the once noble man. The brightest of the Green Lanterns, protectors of the universe, so overcome by anger, grief and pain that he is bringing about their darkest hour.
Nobody could have foreseen this.
"He is victorious again." A Guardian stated needlessly to his brothers.
"We are not yet lost." Another stated.
"Yes," Another from the group of two dozen spoke. "There is still one who can defeat him."
A Guardian with a long white ponytail sighed and shook his head. "Oh can he?"
"Ganthet," The first said tiredly. "We have discussed this. Your plan is unthinkable. It would pave our way to ruination."
"My plan is the only chance we have of preserving ourselves and you know it."
"I know nothing of the sort."
Ganthet shot a look around at all his brothers. "Other suggestions then?"
As he expected none had another answer. After several minutes of deliberation a Guardian spoke up with a resigned sigh. "Very well, let us make ready."
"Those heartless bastards!" Hal spat as he saw the being before him as he entered the Oan star system. The final challenge before reaching his destination. The massive muscled form of Kilowog, trainer of Green Lanterns and perhaps the person Hal was closest to in the Corps. "They even send you against me!"
"Specially me. They want you stopped no matter what. I don't want to fight you Hal." The behemoth told him, a note of regret could be heard in his voice. "But my first loyalty's got to be to the Corps, to the Guardians."
"You can't beat me." Hal told his friend, raising his clenched fist for him to see more clearly. Every finger was adorned with a glowing green power ring. "I'm too well armed."
Kilowog shook his head. "Didn't I teach ya nothing? It's the warrior not his weapons."
And with that the battle began. Neither held back, neither could afford to. Hal was heralded as the best of the Green Lanterns, and for good reason, but Kilowog was the teacher of Green Lanterns, and also for good reason.
He had a tactical mind. One that was more than capable of using the small asteroid that had become their battleground to his advantage by sending a cascade of rock at Hal's unprotected flank. If it wasn't for the rings' protection Hal would have been defeated right then and there.
However Hal was always quick to adapt. Even as the first of the rocks crashed into his body he blasted the remainders into oblivion. It was only meant as a distraction, however, and Hal just barely dodged to the side to avoid the massive fist that would have damn near taken his head off. Even with the rings.
Hal twisted as he rolled and sent a powerful blast of energy into his opponent, effectively stunning him. With a lightning quick move Hal flew forward and grabbed the front of Kilowog's uniform.
"It's over Kilowog." Hal told his friend as he reared back a fist glowing emerald with barely contained power. "It has to be."
With that Hal let loose with an enhanced punch of such force that it filled the entire asteroid with an eerie green glow and cratered the surface. When the light faded Hal stood over the bloodied form of Kilowog.
"You taught me to be a warrior." Hal told his downed friend with regret. "I'm sorry, I never thought I'd use it against you."
With that Hal took flight, not even bothering to look back. He was so close to Oa now that it took mere moments to reach its surface. He flew straight for a large green structure about the size of a six story building and shaped like an old style lantern. The Central Power Battery.
As he landed a giant projection of a Guardian appeared in his path.
"That is enough 2814." It told him. "Do not compound your crimes any further. Surrender your ring and your person while you still can."
"Surrender? You've got to be kidding me?" Hal said incredulously. "I've already defeated your wind up soldiers and they couldn't stop me! I'm here for the power I need! I'm here for the Central Battery!"
"The power ours. Ours to give and take as we please."
"Not anymore!" Hal spat.
"Then you leave us with no choice."
The projection then waved its arm towards the Battery. At first Hal thought they were actually giving up. Then he saw a figure emerging from the front of the lantern. Slowly it became clearer, but it didn't take long for Hal to figure out who it was. That confident gait, that arrogant smirk, it could only be one man.
Before him stood a red skinned being with a slightly oversized head adorned by a thin moustache and goatee. Sinestro.
Once this man was among the Green Lantern's elite. His system was the pinnacle of order. All he had to do to achieve it was completely cut it off and enslave his people. He took away their free will by punishing the most minor of infractions with brutal means. In short they feared and hated him, yet at the same time pretended to love and adore him.
Sinestro was charged with mentoring Hal Jordon and it was Hal who brought the truth about his success to light. Even as he was tried and sentenced by the Guardians Sinestro never believed he did anything wrong. Order had been achieved after all.
But as cold and impassionate as the Guardians can be even they knew he went to far. They stripped him of his ring and title and banished him to another dimension. Quard.
It was there that Sinestro met the Quardians and attained a yellow power ring. Then he escaped his prison, intent that if he could not be an administer of order than he would bring chaos to the universe the likes of which none have seen.
He had many confrontations with the Corps over the years. Hal Jordon in particular. Eventually he was banished, trapped within the central power battery on OA. And there he remained… until now. Until the Guardians released him.
One might see the irony that one of the Corps greatest who had fallen now stands as there last defence against the very man who brought him to justice so many times. A man who was also considered to be one of the Corps greatest who had now fallen as well.
The hero has become the villain, the villain the hero.
Hal couldn't care less at the moment. The very thought of releasing such a creature was maddening. In his mind it only proved how right he was about the Guardians.
"What's the matter Jordon?" The black body suited Sinestro taunted as he reached up a white gloved hand and pulled down the hood of his ivory white cloak. The ring of a Green Lantern once more adorned his finger. "Nothing to say to your old friend Sinestro?"
"It's all going to end here isn't it?" Hal asked, fury in his voice at seeing the man who has been his arch nemesis for so many years stand free before him. "One way or the other!"
"Oh yes, I should imagine so." Sinestro told him, the arrogant smirk never leaving his amused face. "Almost amusing isn't it? You returning as the prodigal son and me held up as Oa's last hope?"
If it was possible the smirk grew even larger. "The irony is delicious, don't you-"
He never got to finish as Hal spat out. "Get out of my way Sinestro! Or I'll kill you!"
Sinestro just shook his head. "Will you now? Somehow I find that unlikely. Don't demean yourself by engaging in charades, Jordon. Nothing ever changes. You're still the hero. Still one of the good guys."
"Not today." Hal said in a low cold voice before sending a powerful blast at Sinestro. The red skinned alien was only barely able to get out of its path before the ground he had been standing on erupted in a cascade of rock and duct.
Sinestro tumbled through the air before landing heavily several meters away. He only laughed as he wiped the blood from his lips and picked himself off the ground. The ever present smirk still on his face.
"I expected more of you Jordon. Coming here armed like that. Makes my defeat a forgone conclusion. Would you truly rather overwhelm me than finally find out if you could take me in an even contest? Perhaps you won't mind always wondering? But this way you'll never know. Will you?"
"I could give a damn, Sinestro. I really could." Hal told his enemy as he let one ring after the other tumble to the ground. "But I don't want any doubt in your mind. I want you to know I defeated you without any crutches."
Finally with only his own ring on his finger glowing a vibrant green Hal waved the red skinned man on. "So Let's go!"
"Yes," Sinestro said as he raised his ringed fist. "Let's!"
Both combatants unleashed a blast of power that met the other half way. The Guardians watched on from the balcony of the building connected to the Battery, as their last resort and their greatest champion seemed to be evenly matched.
"Do you know what it was like inside the Battery, Jordon? Reduced to less than thought in that Limbo?" Sinestro asked, the barest of strain in his voice as he changed tactics and sent a barrage of ring made throwing blades at Hal. "It's like having a maddening itch you can never scratch… because there's no you. That's what it was like, Jordon."
Sinestro spat as he sent another barrage.
"And it wasn't-"
Another wave of blades.
The blades of the next wave grew serrated.
The final wave the blades grew even more vicious looking and was the size of all the others put together. Hal created a medieval style shield with the shape of a ram head in the centre. He desperately tried to block the blades.
"You deserve worse!" Hal spat as he blocked volley after volley of blades before the ram head suddenly shot out like a battering ram, knocking Sinestro back. "What were the Guardians thinking releasing you?"
Sinestro grinned as he picked himself back to his feet. "Who can say really? They're such enigmatic little devils. Perhaps they thought I was the lesser of two evils."
"What!" Jordon said incredulously.
"I think it's time I told you a little story Jordon. Years ago, when the Guardians brought you to me, they said, 'Sinestro, you, of all our Green Lanterns, are greatest. We need you to make the Corps stronger. We need you to share your skills. Please'… They said please... 'Take this recruit and hone him. Make him even half of what you are and he will be truly magnificent.' And I thought to myself, 'Hmm look at what they've given you, Sinestro. This sorry fool hasn't got what it takes. He'll never amount to anything.' And you know what?"
Ridiculing laughter rang in his voice as he created a massive cannon on his shoulder and said. "I was right!"
Hal jumped out of the way as Sinestro fired the giant weapon, only missing him by inches. "It all comes down to will Jordon. And I always had a lot more than you."
"Maybe once." Hal admitted as he created a wrist-mounted cannon and fired, destroying the one held by Sinestro. "But not anymore!"
"You really have changed, all this rage. You're almost a new man." Sinestro said as the two took stock of each other again. "I'm basically the same however. I'd gladly kill you even if the Guardians weren't giving me my freedom for stopping you."
Jordon glared at his adversary. "You're not killing anybody ever again!"
Both combatants ring hands glowed with power as they put everything they had into one final move. With yells of rage and frustration they let loose one last blast. Dust and debris filled the air as a large crated marred the surface of Oa.
When the dust settled Jordon and Sinestro could be seen grappling. Sinestro had Hal in a headlock, while Hal kicked out his legs sending both of them into the dirt. Their uniforms were torn, virtually none existence in places, their bodies marred in bruises and bloody gashes yet still they fought.
"No more tricks. No more rings." Hal spat as he elbowed Sinestro in the ribs, loosening his hold and allowing Hal to get free and scramble to his feet. "Just you and me. For the last time!"
Sinestro felt the air knocked out of him as he tried to stand only to receive a kick to the gut. Exhaling with the blow he unleashed a vicious uppercut past Jordon's defences that caused the fallen hero to spit blood and teeth, knocking him back a few steps but not to the ground.
Before Hal could recover Sinestro shoulder rushed him taking them both back to the ground. As they fell Hal elbowed him in the back of the head. He rolled with the impact, once he was on top he rained blow after blow upon his enemy.
Sinestro lay beaten on the ground as Hal stood. Not satisfied Hal grabbed Sinestro's tattered cloak and pulled him to his knees. "We're not finished yet."
The red skinned alien only grinned around bloodied teeth and laughed weekly. "Oh… we're finished… all right… both of…. us…."
Hal shook him furiously as he yelled. "What are you talking about? I won!"
Sinestro shook his head. "Did you? Look… at yourself… and answer me."
Hal worked his way behind him and place one arm under his chin and the other around his forehead. "I should have done this years ago."
Sinestro chuckle. "You know… you probably should ha-"
Hal dropped Sinestro's limp body to the ground and walked away.
"Power's mine now." He said as he made his way towards the Battery. "I can make everything right again."
Before he could get within ten meters pain exploded in his jaw and he was sent flying.
"Who?" Hal question as he landed heavily against a rock and tried to shake the daze from his head. As his vision cleared he saw a hulking figure before him. "Kilowog?"
"Can't let ya kill anyone else Hal." The pink skinned behemoth told him.
"I didn't kill the Corps. I just took their rings because I needed the power. I left them enough to survive."
"'Fer now maybe." Kilowog said shaking his massive head. "But what happens when ya take all the power in the Central Battery for yourself? What then? What happens to the Corps in space or in scrapes somewhere? What happens when their rings fail?"
"I… I…" Hal faltered in his speech as he stood. After a moment he looked away from his long time friend. "I can't think about that right now. I need to set everything right."
"Ain't gonna happen Hal. No matter how bad ya want it. I know what it's like to lose yer home, the folks ya love, but that ain't no excuse fer what yer doing." With that said Kilowog unleashed a powerful fist into Hal's gut, doubling his body over the massive arm. "The power ain't yours. Not for this."
The ringless giant sent one of his powerful fists into Hal's face but this time he was ready for him and used the ring's power to deflect the blow. "Pull it together Hal! You killed Sinestro but ya ain't evil like him! Not yet! You can still stop!"
"No," Hal said as he caught the next punch in one of his much smaller hands. "I can't"
Tears flowed freely from his eyes as he blasted his friend apart.
"I can't go back now." Hal said as he tossed his mask and power ring to the ground. Tears still flowed as he ascended the steps to the Central Battery entrance. The Guardians were gathered at the top waiting for him.
"No, 2814, you cannot. You have committed heinous acts and irreparable damage. You shall be punished."
"By you?" Hal spat acidly, although he still had tears in his eyes. "You haven't taken a personal interest in anything in so long you've forgotten how. I finally see you for the impotent shams you are.
"I just wanted my life back. You could have given me the power to make everything right! But you self-righteous gnomes couldn't even do that! You turned your back on me when I needed you most!"
One of the Guardians shook his head. "To tamper with what has been is the most grievous crime of all."
"Don't you think I know that?" Hal exclaimed as he grabbed the Guardian who had spoken and pulled him level with his tear stained face. "And haven't you realized that I'm beyond caring?"
He threw the Guardian away from him and cupped his face in his hands. "It's too late for that. Too late for you. Too late for me. There's no turning back. Not now. You can't stop what's happening… and neither can I."
Without looking back Hal used the last of his power to will himself up, into the Central Power Battery of Oa.
Ganthet waved his hand towards it as they watched Hal Jordon disappear. "Thusly it ends? We simply allow him to expunge out grand design? Brothers, are we too atrophied to save ourselves or preserve the doctrine by which we have guided the universe?"
"Yes." Another Guardian spoke, his head bowed in regret. "It is done."
"Am I the only one who finds thins unacceptable?" Ganthet asked.
"Ganthet is right. We must do that which to us is unthinkable. We must act." A Guardian spoke in a determined voice. "And you, Ganthet, are the one."
"Me?" Ganthet asked uncertainly.
Cracks appeared in the Central Battery as the Guardians formed a circle around Ganthet.
The cracks began to glow as the Guardians sent the last of their internal power supply to their brother, their bodies aging rapidly.
As the Central Power Battery exploded the withered corpses of the Guardians fell to the ground. Ganthet was already gone.
Ron stumbled drunkenly out into the back alley in search of the bathroom. Unfortunately for the bar owner the alley smelt enough like one that the intoxicated Ron didn't spare a second thought as he unzipped by the dumpster.
Suddenly a green glow filled the alley. Looking up Ron saw that same green falling star as last time. Belatedly he realized it was heading straight for the alley he was in.
Panicked he tried to run only for his pants to fall around his ankles and he tumbled to the ground. The star was almost upon him now and the light was so blinding that he had to shield his eyes with his arm.
After a moment, when death didn't come Ron slowly opened his eyes to see one of the strangest sights of his life. A blue midget in a red dress stood a few feet away looking like he was about to fall over.
Slowly Ron stood up, buckling his pants as he went.
"You shall have to do." The blue man said.
"Uh… right. You related to a guy named Drakken?" Ron said dazedly. Aside he added. "I'm never drinking again."
The blue man held out his hand, a green object in his palm. "The ring. Take it."
Thinking this some sort of drunken hallucination Ron followed the prompting. He stared at the ring resting in his palms. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
"What you must."
"What's that mean? What's supposed to happen?"
"I don't-" Ron said looking up only to be met by a green light. When it faded the blue man was done. "-know what the hell is going on."
Shaking his head Ron stared back down at the ring. He felt an almost compulsion to put it on. Slipping it upon his finger something strange happened. His clothes disappeared, replaced by a skintight uniform of green and black with a lantern insignia on his chest and a green domino mask on his face.
With a surprisingly lucid comment Ron spoke. "No good can come of this."