DC Heroes: Faith

Chapter 1: Scarlet Knight

A humanoid figure, clad in crimson armor, dropped out of hyperspace, shielded in a green energy bubble. On its left hand, a power ring of the Green Lantern Corps flashed as it succumbed to the humanoid's will and sent a message via faster-than-light technology to the awaiting fleet some distance away. The figure changed direction and followed along the same path the signal had taken.

Moving so fast it was nothing more than a blur to anyone who could have been looking, the figure streaked by planets, moons and asteroids, not paying attention to the sights. Some worlds contained sentient life on the very edge of developing civilization; others belonged to galaxy spanning empires. None held any interest to the figure in red armor.

As it approached the fleet, the figure did take a moment to review the vessels and noted there were a couple of new ships that had joined. It was not unexpected; the warrior in the armor had been gone for six standard galactic months performing research and reconnaissance. The fleet was now sitting closer to seventy individual ships than the sixty that has made it up when he had left to begin his mission.

Moving towards the largest, an old Darthian battle cruiser, he slowed his travel as he was scanned by the sensors of the vessel. His power ring would accept and respond to the interrogation, confirming his identity. If it were discovered he was actually a spy from the Corps, the intergalactic enforcers of the laws of the Guardians of the Universe, then the batteries of the ancient warship would open up on him. A decade before, several of the weapons had been adapted to fire yellow beams of energy; yellow was the weakness of the power rings.

It took only a few moments to confirm his identity and he continued his progress towards the ship. Painted on the side of the ship was a large red sun, the symbol of Great Rao, the Giver of Life. At the main airlock, a red light began to flash, beckoning him to come closer. It was a welcome sight and his heart swelled with joy as he realized he would soon be reunited with friends and family.

He flew into the airlock and landed on the cold metal floor with a slight clang as his metal boots touched down. The airlock closed behind him, but he maintained the energy bubble around him. His armor had an internal heater and air supply, but he only used it in emergencies. His power ring, controlled by his formidable will, would displace the gases he needed from other worlds, while also serving as a heat source.

There was sound emanating from inside the walls that surrounded him, machinery he had not heard in so long that its humming and whirling were music to his ears. He felt his anticipation build as he realized who would be waiting for him once the secondary airlock was opened.

As if he had willed it to happen, it did. The machinery changed tone and the hatch to the inside of the ship slid to the side. The armored figure stepped through and deactivated his personal shield. Quickly he reached up and removed his helmet, revealing crimson skin and jet black hair, but otherwise human-like features. In front of him stood an amazingly beautiful, older woman clad in the robes of a priestess of Rao. She shared his skin color. "My son," she said, her arms held out in front of her. There were tears running down her face. "Blessed be Rao you live and are unharmed."

He accepted her greeting and they embraced warmly. Behind her were assembled various other high-ranking members of the fleet, including his father, dressed in his military fatigues. The beret he wore had the crest of Rao on it. "Mother," he began, acknowledging her because of her rank first and then he turned to his father. "Father!"

His father smiled warmly, but made no move forward. As he was not a member of the clergy, he would remain where he was for this formal ceremony. An older man, standing next to the priestess, reached out his hand. The warrior took it and dropped to one knee. "Oh Great Eye of Rao, I have been gifted with success in my mission. I have found what we seek!"

"This is great news indeed," the Eye of Rao commented. He bade the warrior to rise. "Kilgrave Kul, you humble us with your enthusiasm and knowledge! Do not keep us waiting; speak before this assembly."

A smile crossed Kilgrave's face. "The Earth can be ours; the population is weak in faith. Most of the population acknowledge the same god, but they fight wars over the interpretation of his laws."

The elder priest nodded and turned to the gathered personnel. "Do you not see, my bretheren, how it is that those who are farthest from Rao cannot correctly interpret His commands? These Earthlings are our brothers and sisters in Rao."

Many nodded, but Kilgrave's father looked unconvinced. It was often like that; Mun-Kul came from a long line of military officers, one of any new contacts because there was always hidden dangers. This much he had drilled into his son. The Eye of Rao saw his general's skeptic look. "Speak your mind, General Kul," he offered.

"All of our information indicates the people of Earth have the potential for greatness, this we know from the members we have recruited from Rann, Thanagar and other worlds. Yet, they hamper their own evolution by their…stupidity." The General prepared for a rebuke. He was a believer, but was much more conservative in his views than many of the others. He believed, as many did, that Rao had created Krypton as a sort of Heaven, but the people of that world had rejected Rao's teachings and so Rao punished the world by destroying it.

All that remained of fabled Krypton was those few remaining purebred members of the Disciples of Rao. "We have found worthy persons on many worlds, including my beloved wife from Korugar," he said, indicating the crimson-skinned priestess, "but we have not found a world that will serve as a New Krypton as promised. Not yet, anyway."

"And you believe the Earth is not this world, because of the primitives that inhabit it?" the priestess asked her husband.

"Mother, father, please," Kilgrave said, laying a hand on his mother's shoulder. Touching a member of the clergy, when they were in their ceremonial robes, was forbidden, but because he was the Scarlet Knight, he was forgiven the trespass. "I have further news."

Everyone directed their attention to the hero of the order. Kilgrave's face betrayed his excitement. "The reports were true; the hero known as Superman is a Kryptonian, purebred!"

There were murmurs of joy and a few calls for immediate deployment of the fleet. The Eye of Rao raised his hands for silence and then bade Kilgrave to continue. "He is the son of Jor-El, the scientist prophet!"

This brought even more voices into the discussion. Soon you could not hear yourself think, Kilgrave thought. Even the Eye of Rao was speaking in a hurried voice to the priestess, so Kilgrave decided to take a step back and review what he knew about Jor-El.

Back on Old Krypton, Jor-El had been a scientist who was renown for his knowledge of astronomy, physics and geology. After the Disciples of Rao had been exiled off-world, they had managed to keep in contact with friends on the planet. They learned of Jor-El's predictions of the coming end of the world, predictions that matched perfectly with the prophecies of the Eye of Rao. Though he was awarded the title of a prophet after his death, Jor-El was still considered an important saint in the religion of the Disciples.

The news that his son had survived the destruction of the world, a purebred scion of Old Krypton, was exciting news indeed. The Eye of Rao was getting old; it had been nearly four decades since the exile had started. The Disciples saw themselves as the last remaining links to the world of Old Krypton and that it was their duty to found a new world so their race could continue.

Members were accepted from other races; there was no xenophobia, However, the breeding population of pure Kryptonians was being depleted, especially after a case of an alien flue some ten years before. "You are sure?" his mother asked.

Kilgrave was pulled from his musings. "Yes. His name is Kal-El, and he has become the foremost hero of the Earth because of his abilities under the yellow sun."

It was no secret the great powers Kryptonians could amass when exposed to yellow solar energy, but it was considered blasphemous. Rao granted life under a red sun and to reject his gift for mere mortal abilities instead of eternal happiness, was a grave sin. Kilgraves armor prevented his body from absorbing yellow solar energy in his travels and instead kept him exposed to wavelengths similar to Great Rao. "He has not been properly exposed to the Word of Rao," was the summary judgment of the high priest.

"There is more," Kilgrave added. "He is accompanied by a cousin, Kara Zor-El, who has just reached breeding age. Then there is another."

His tone changed as he considered how to explain Power Girl. "There is another woman who claims to be Kryptonian and she exhibits the same abilities as Kal-El and Kara Zor-El. But," he began, knowing not what the reaction would be, "she claims to come from a different Krypton."

"She is a devil, a demon," the Eye of Rao spat. "She will have to be destroyed."

There was no disagreement; the order had been given and it would be added to the overall plan. Kilgrave doubted it would be assigned to him. There were others more suited for the task. Already, he could tell, his father was devising a plan of attack. A junior officer whispered something into the general's ear and the senior military officer nodded.

"Son, what about the Green Lanterns? When your power ring reactivated a year ago, we assumed it was because the Guardians of the Universe had reformed the Corps. Were you able to confirm this?"

"The Earth is home to between five and six Green Lanterns," Kilgrave told them. There was a gasp from his mother. She was a former Lantern. "I have a full report on them and many of the other so-called heroes and villains. There are some that I have rated as being high threats to our plans."

"Then they will have to be dealt with," the Eye of Rao added. "Earth is to be the New Krypton, despite the misgivings of our most esteemed General Kul. Remember that our mission is to bring the peace and order of Rao to the uninformed in order to better their lives, even if they do not realize they need it."

What followed was a prayer in Kryptonian, which lasted a full five minutes. Despite himself, Kilgrave found his mind wandering. From a purely religious point of view, he agreed; the way of Rao had allowed their fleet, with its myriad of races, to exist peacefully for decades. On the Earth, he had seen neighbors battling each other over what name to call their god. His father was right, the Earthlings were barbarians.

Yet, the son of the scientist-prophet had made it his home and had even taken one of their women as a mate. Of course, there were no Kryptonian women to choose from and even he had to admit that Lois Lane was a different kind of woman. Strong, independent, but submissive at the same time.

Yes, the Earth was full of savages, men and women who let their emotions get the better of them. But there were also many examples of good people as well, plus there was a diversity that only Rao could have dreamt of. As leader of the special operatives of the Disciples, he knew he would be the vanguard of an all-out plan of attack to eliminate those who would deny people the blessings of Rao.

"Son," his father said, stepping closer. The gathering was breaking up as a renewed sense of urgency seemed to fill the air. "Were you able to secure any assistance on-planet as I had requested?" The General wanted to make sure his operatives would have safe places to rest and equip in the event of a problem.

The overall plan was simple. The Disciples of Rao had commissioned the development of several "pacification" devices over the decades in preparation of rebuilding Krypton, or the creation of New Krypton as the Eye of Rao put it. A suitable planet was hard to find because certain conditions had to be met. After forty years of searching, it was reasoned by the High Council that Earth, considered insignificant by most races, had to be the choice.

Certainly there were problems. Forcing the population to accept the will of Rao; the timetable did not allow for any kind of education. Green Lanterns; the Guardians of the Universe did not respect religion and would gladly interfere in the name of order. Magically-based issues; the Disciples were fully aware there were individuals who could manipulate the very fabric of the universe. These were the demons and devils of Cythonna, the goddess of ice. Imprisoned in another dimension by Rao, she operated through agents in this universe. That was why Power Girl was sentenced to death.

"I encountered an evolved primate named Grodd. His race hides from the Earthlings, which he explained was not his philosophy. In the past, he has let this influence his actions and he has fought against the heroes of Earth," Kilgrave explained. "In exchange for assistance in freeing his people from the shackles of the past, and the right to live separately from the Earthlings, he will assist us."

"Can he be trusted?"

Kilgrave shook his head. "No, he will have to be watched carefully. However, his desire to rule his people in a way that he does not consider shameful is more important to him than ruling the world. For now, he will be a controllable ally instead of an unpredictable enemy."

"Will the overall plan work?"

The younger Kul pursed his lips as he considered the question. During his flight back to the fleet, he had debated the merits of the plan. "There are flaws. Overall, the population should be easily brought over to the wisdom of Rao, but there are individuals who, by their very nature, resist conformity. These persons will have to be isolated and educated or eliminated."

General Kul shook his head. "Murder is not the way of Rao. Those who cannot accept the grace of His message will be isolated from the rest of society. Perhaps in time they will see the error in not opening their hearts." He took in a deep breath. "I am talking about true threats; threats that will have to be dealt with…decisively."

"There are some. Power Girl is primary, but there are others. The people of this planet prefer to be in groups, so when we go after her, she will be joined by others. We must be prepared."

"You still have not answered my original question, son," was the response.

Kilgrave gave his father an intent stare. "Yes, but not without sacrifice."

"Sacrifice is the way of Rao," his father told him. "I have no doubt we will be moving the fleet in less than a day. Prepare your battle plans and bring them to me for approval. We must deal with the Corps first."

Kilgrave saluted and then turned on his heel. He would call his team together. He would tell them what he had learned. He would assign them to their tasks.

All in the name of Rao.